Title: Who's the Man? Roger, Joe or Eddie - Not Bill
Purpose: To examine if Bill James claim that Joe Morgan is the greatest second baseman ever holds water?
By: Matthew Rauseo
In Bill James most recently published Historical Abstract he rated the three greatest second baseman of all time in this order:
1) Joe Morgan
2) Eddie Collins
3) Rogers Hornsby
James then states: "These ratings are based (in this case) 100% on the statistical record, with no adjustment for Hornsby based or anything of the sort" (p.481 The New Bill James Historical Abstract). In this instance he is referring to Win Shares as the statistical record. A total player stat he designed which he used to shape the player rankings in the New Bill James Historical Abstract. That comment seemed false as I analyzed some of the Win Shares data which can be found in James's book Win Shares.
The chart below details my point, when looking at four of the greatest second baseman of all time: Hornsby, Morgan, Collins, and Lajoie in terms of win share charted versus what I describe as Seasonal Year. The purpose behind this specific chart is to compare players best years, second best years, fifth best years ect...
I feel that looking at a player that way, makes an evaluation relatively easy - with no concerns of questionable end points, and less concern about years of marginal value tact onto the end of a career.
As you can see from this chart Morgan, the pink line is clearly below both the yellow (Collins), and blue line (Hornsby) for the majority of years in question. In fact Rogers accumulated more Win Shares each season until each player was in there 15th best year. While Collins complied more Win Shares than Morgan in exactly two of twenty two seasons Morgan played.
I'm not making the argument that Win Shares is the correct way to measure who is the greatest second baseman or that Win Shares is the correct way to measure anything for that matter. I'm not arguing Hornsby over Morgan, or Hornsby over Collins, or Collins over Morgan (though I believe Collins is the greatest second baseman of all time, and Morgan is a distant third) .
The purpose of this brief piece is to point out that Bill James ranking of top 3 second baseman, was either poor analysis on his part or biased in someway despite his claims that it was "based 100% on the statistical record".
All Material Property of Matthew Rauseo - Please link to www.baseballanlaysis.com if you wish to link or cite these pages