Saturday, February 2, 2008

All-Time Average Joes

I know I've talked about ERA+ plus before, but I can't remember if I've done the same for OPS+. The link explains it fully if you scroll down a little, but this statistic takes OPS, on base percentage plus slugging percentage, and essentially normalizes it to the league and ballpark(s) a certain player played in. For example, in 2003 Alex Rodriguez had a .996 OPS for the Texas Rangers. Compared to the rest of the American League that year, he was 47% better than an average player would have been in his place and his OPS+ is therefore 147. In 1931, Rogers Hornsby had a .996 OPS for the Chicago Cubs and, compared to the National League in that season, he comes in with an OPS+ of 163. Even though Hornsby and Rodriguez put up the same numbers, the average player in the 2003 AL was a better hitter than the average player in the 1931 NL, so Hornsby's numbers stand out higher relative to when he played. You can do the same thing over multiple seasons to find a player's OPS+ over his whole career.

I mention all this because I want to find guys that were average hitters for their careers (an career OPS+ of 100). The All-Time Average Joes may not be all that memorable, but there's something to be said for having even an average career: you can take pride in the fact you were better than half the other guys in the league. The minimum requirement for making the ATAJ team is 3000 career plate appearances. Also, the player must have spent over half of his career games at the defensive position he occupies on the ATAJ squad. Beyond that, the selection process among multiple qualifying players is just my personal take; I will try to avoid still-active players who may jeopardize their averageness in future seasons.

1901-2007 All-Time Average Joes

Starting Lineup
  • Catcher: Frankie "Blimp" Hayes - 1931-1947
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .259/.343/.400/.743
    • Teams: Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox

  • First Base: Walt "Moose" Dropo - 1949-1961
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .270/.326/.432/.758
    • Teams: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles

  • Second Base: Tony Bernazard - 1979-1991
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .262/.339/.387/.726
    • Teams: Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers

  • Shortstop: Art Fletcher - 1909-1922
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .277/.319/.365/.684
    • Teams: New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies

  • Third Base: Hank "Heeney" Majeski - 1939-1955
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .279/.342/.398/.740
    • Teams: Boston Braves, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles

  • Left Field: Jack Graney - 1909-1922
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .250/.354/.342/.696
    • Teams: Cleveland Indians

  • Center Field: Willie McGee - 1982-1999
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .295/.333/.396/.729
    • Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox

  • Right Field: George Browne - 1901-1912
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .273/.318/.339/.657
    • Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants, Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers
Bench Players
  • Utility Infielder: Carlos Baerga - 1990-2005
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .291/.332/.423/.755
    • Teams: Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals

  • Utility Infielder: Rich Aurilia - 1995-2007*
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .276/.330/.439/.769
    • Teams: San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds

  • Outfielder: Curt Flood - 1956-1971
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .293/.342/.389/.731
    • Teams: Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Senators

  • Outfielder: Garry "Secretary of Defense" Maddox - 1972-1986
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .285/.320/.413/.733
    • Teams: San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies

  • Catcher: Ron Hassey - 1978-1991
    • Career AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS: .266/.340/.382/.722
    • Teams: Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Montreal Expos
*I know Aurilia is still active, but he's the only true utility infielder who has a 100 career OPS+.

I'm going to assume the manager for the All-Time Average Joes team will want a lot of relievers to protect the slim leads his guys might eke out from time to time, so I'll leave the active roster with 13 players. A few of the guys on the list had plus defense to make up for their average offensive skills, so I would guess there'd be a number of defensive switches late in games as well.

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