Bill James on Fielding, Part 11

BY foxsports • February 5, 2015

Moving along! The singular disagreement I've had with Bill during his incredible series of articles about fielding metrics is about ... the movies, of course! Last week, Bill tossed in a longish essay about what's so terrible about Boyhood, and also managed to insult anyone who's ever liked Citizen Kane, too. Which I found ... moderately insulting, and highly iconoclastic. So I wrote about all of that here.

There was also some baseball in that article! 

For me, one of the big takeaways is that Norm Cash, according to Bill's methodology, was the best-fielding first baseman in the American League in seven seasons. Which, unless I've missed someone, is the most of anybody he's looked at. What's more, if you actually believe Cash was a tremendous first baseman, then you have start thinking about him as a serious Hall of Fame candidate. Baseball-Reference.com credits Cash with 52 career Wins Above Replacement, but B-R.com also shows Cash as a pretty lousy first baseman.

Cash, I'm afraid, is just another of those Detroit Tigers -- along with Alan Trammell, Bill Freehan, and Lou Whitaker -- who have never quite gotten their due.

Also of note: Bill's five worst first basemen ever (minimum 1,000 games at first base)...

1. Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart
2. Mo Vaughn
3. Jack Fournier
4. Hal Chase
5. Willie McCovey

What's interesting about Chase, of course, is that he was for many decades regarded as the best first baseman ever. Even though he was betting against his own teams and taking money from gamblers to throw games. One wonders if Chase's talents actually made it easier for him to fool everyone.


share story