If a player can be gauged by the five standard criteria (maybe Bill James includes toenail length, who knows?) of
hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and running, the two players were close in the first, and
Dawson was significantly better in the other four.
I'd be amazed if you could find one major league scout who would prefer Murcer.
What did Murcer do better? Well, he got on base better. His OBP of .357 was significantly better than Dawson's .323 (which, to be honest, is pretty anemic). Every modern sabremetician will tell you that OBP is the single most important offensive stat -- not the only important stat, but the one that most directly relates to runs scored. Dawson's OPS was slightly better .806 to .802, BUT -- and it's a big BUT -- that was somewhat related to the era and the ballparks that he played in (not sure Montreal was a great offensive park, but Wrigley is -- Dawson's OPS jumped 32 points in Chicago). In terms of OPS-plus, Murcer at 124 was significantly better than Dawson's 119. That means that for his career, Murcer was a 24 percent better than average hitter ... Dawson was 19 percent better.
It would take quite a defensive gap to make up for that disparity and while I think Dawson was a better defensive player, I don't think the gap was that large. Dawson did have a slightly greater range factor ... but the comparisons of range factors with their leagues shows that Murcer's margin was almost exactly the same as Dawson. I think that's skewed somewhat because early in his career, Dawson had some great range factors ... but later (when his knees went) he was consistently below the league average. Dawson did have a great arm, but quoting raw assist totals is misleading since Murcer played games at SS -- in terms of OF assists per game, Murcer had .076 assists per game, Dawson had .067 assists per game. And there is no evidence I see that "people stopped running on him" -- Dawson had three double figure assist seasons early in his career, one right in the middle, and four more in the mid-to-late 1980s.
If you are going to quote gold gloves won, great ... but then I hope you will agree with me that means the Derek Jeter is the finest defensive shortstop of his gneration. No AL shortstop of his era won as many gold gloves!
Again, the Murcer vs. Dawson comparison illustrates the insight we get with the newer stats -- the Bill James stats. You can sneer all you want, but most modern analyst, while disputing certain particulars, pay homage to James and his numbers.
And when you say "ANY" serious observer would take Dawson over Murcer, then you have to exclude Bill James, who did take Murcer over Dawson ... and I think qualifies as a more serious observer than you or I.
know defensively there was no comparison. Vast difference.
Denigrate conventional stats all you want, but you seem to be hanging your Murcer hat on some very thin analysis. (and I have no idea what Derek Jeter has to do with it).
Bill James has a lot to say. Some good, some not so good. But there's no world in which Bobby Murcer was a better ballplayer than Andre Dawson.
You provide precisely one (1) area in which Murcer was superior, on base percentage. Fine. That's it? No other areas? Anything else? Nope, I didn't think so.
Last edited by budwom; 05-01-2012 at 12:46 PM.
I don't mean to be cruel, but you sound like one of those old scouts in Moneyball -- "I saw him play and he LOOKs like a better player."
Please read my post again ... yes, Murcer was superior to Dawson in one area -- the single most important offensive number there is. Was Dawson really a better player in every other area or was that an illusion created by when and where he played? Again, the numbers show that Murcer was a more effective ballplayer compared to his copntrmporaries than Dawson. That's not to denigrate Dawson -- James does rank him as the 19th best rightfielder in baseball history. That's pretty good.
But the numbers -- not our untrained eye -- show that Murcer was (slightly) better.
Sure, James did a decent job of showing a number of sclerotic GMs that they were assessing talent in the wrong way. But in comparing Murcer's career to Dawson's, a lot of other people have weighed in.
The BBWA writers, dozens of them, chose Dawson for the Hall of Fame. Murcer wasn't close. But of course these guys who actually watch the games can't be right, only Bill James
can be right. It sounds like you take a dim view of your own profession.
Players and managers vote on Gold Gloves, and they found Dawson to be superior, but they too must be wrong, because Bill James says so.
Opposing pitchers issued far more intentional walks to Dawson , but add them to your list of know-nothings because Bill James and his calculator somehow say so.
Other than your Bill James Prayer Mat, you seem to have absolutely nothing which backs up this ludicrous opinion.
And if, as your say "the numbers show Murcer was (slightly) better", don't you think SOME of that would be reflected in the real numbers which show nothing of the sort?
OBP, that's your only number. Other than that, you have nothing.
Last edited by budwom; 05-01-2012 at 03:38 PM.
Re: the HOF issue, the writers in the respective eras were just as ignorant of the sabermetric issues as you seem to be, and their voting reflects it. Not to mention, of course, that unlike Dawson, Murcer wasn't saddled with the status of being the Next Mickey Mantle. Call it a Bill James Prayer Mat if you like, but this stuff is here to stay.
comparing Rabbit Maranville with Luis Aparicio. Maybe you're thinking of Johnny Mercer, THAT was a different era.
And as far as calling Yankee Stadium a pitcher's park, well, it all depends. Not so much if you happened to be a lefthanded hitter, like Murcer. All of 296 feet down the line in right field until sometime 1976 or so when it ballooned to all of 310 feet.
Decently tough in the power alleys and center field, for sure, but it was designed to benefit Babe Ruth, and explains why a guy such as Roger Maris could hit over 60 home runs (not that they count any more). More than a few cheap home runs
as anyone who watched games there can attest (not that watching games matters any more).
There's no doubt James has added new levels of understanding to baseball statistics, but not even a wizard can make Bobby Murcer a better ballplayer than Andre Dawson unless you insist that only James knows what he's talking about
and no one else does, which is pretty inane.
Last edited by budwom; 05-01-2012 at 05:20 PM.
Of course Yankee Stadium was designed to benefit left-handed power hitters, and I'm sure Murcer's HR totals were helped by balls pulled toward the RF corner. That's not the whole ballpark, and his numbers on balls hit in the power alleys would have been tamped down severely by the park. And Murcer also played several seasons with Candlestick Park as his home park, which is not a hitter's paradise; and I think Murcer's 1974 season with the Yankees, they played their home games at Shea, which was a nightmare for hitters. (Murcer did also have a couple of seasons as a Cub.)
And I'm not insisting that Murcer was a better ballplayer than Dawson. I'm saying that it's a closer call than you think. (And I'm trying to do so without using words like "inane" and "oblivious.")
OK, fair enough.
I just feel compelled to stand up for a truly superb baseball player whom I had the honor to watch several hundred times (in arguably one of the worst baseball parks in the history of Major League baseball).
I remain firmly of the opinion that comparing him to Bobby M. does not due him justice.
Interesting coincidence ... I was given the complete Northern Exposure DVDs for Chrismas and I've gradually been working my way through the episodes.
Today, soon after my last posting in this thread, I watched the Emmy Award winning episode "Seoul Mates" from Season Three. It's a Christmas show and Dr. Joel Fleishman was telling Maggie O'Connell that Hannakah was a better holiday than Christmas ... the only time he ever felt jealousy for a Christian friend was when his buddy Billy got "an autographed Bobby Murcer glove" as a present one year.
Dawson, Cromartie and Valentine had the best collective outfield arms I ever saw.
Went to one game at the big O, in the last year the Expos were there. Tim Raines night, who was a better player than all three guys you mentioned, other than not being able to throw.
than a man can have a baby." In the cartoon he was pregnant, of course. They paid an amazing $250 million to a French architect for the wonderful closeable roof....I believe it literally worked 2-3 times before they
had to close it permanently.....so yes, it stank inside, and Montrealers, who very much enjoy outdoor time during the brief summer, found themselves cooped up. The old Jarry Parc was a bandbox, but lots of fun...they should've stayed
there, even had a swimming pool just beyond the right field fence where large lefties like McCovey would plunk homers, scattering the swimmers.
But the worst thing about Olympic Stadium for the players was the first generation (if that) turf....it was literally like concrete with a wafer thin outdoor carpet on it, unlike some of the advanced versions. Just wrecked Dawson's knees, he said it was
a major reason why he left, just had to get on grass for a change.
The Expos also sported a number of exciting black players, back when Afro Americans constituted something like 28% of all players...now that's down to 8% or so, which is sad, because they had lineups
with guys like Raines (sadly, he began sliding head first fairly early in his career in order to not break the coke vial in his back pocket), Rodney Scott, Dawson, Valentine, etc. Those guys could really run, put great
pressure on defenses (not to get into a discussion on the relative merits of running and SBs...) ...nothing better than watching the Expos with a few beers and then joining the lads downtown
for ribs at the Bar B Barn....and Bill Lee's stay in Montreal was eventful and had many fun moments...he still pitches in a senior league near where I live....very enjoyable guy.
The Expos played in relative anonymity in Montreal, but they had some fantastic teams in the late 1970s, and the best team in baseball in 1984 before the strike that led, years later, to their demise.
Your summary is about what I think. And the reverse for White. Underrated because of the teams he played on earlier in his career, and the difference between old Yankee Stadium and Fenway for hitters.
The Sox have had their share of combustible but dangerous hitters, Manny sure comes to mind.