Goldman: Remembering Jim Fregosi

From SABR member Steven Goldman at SB Nation on February 14, 2014:

It’s easy to overlook just how good a player Jim Fregosi, who died on Friday at the age of 71, was as a founding member of the Los Angeles Angels. His prime was centered on the pitching-dominated 1960s and was spent almost entirely in pitcher’s parks. Nevertheless, for 10 years he was one of the most potent offensive shortstops in the history of the game to that point.

Fregosi, a California native, signed with the Boston Red Sox out of high school, but was snagged by the Angels in the December, 1960 expansion draft despite being just 18 at the time. The Angels gave him about one and a half seasons in the minors before deeming him ready for the big leagues — and they were right. Fregosi hit .291/.356/.406 in roughly a third of a season in 1962, then hit .287/.325/.422 with nine home runs in his first full season. Those numbers don’t look like much to our eyes, but adjusted for park and league considerations they’re quite robust. Add in that there were few shortstops who could actually hit (the average major league shortstop hit .247/.305/.340 in 1963) and you have an incredibly valuable player.

Fregosi hit .277/.369/.463 in 1964 (141 OPS+). It was one of the 30-best offensive seasons by a shortstop in history to that point. By the time the 1970 season was complete, Fregosi, at 28, had hit .271/.341/.408. Considered from the vantage point of park- and league-adjusted OPS, he was the sixth-most productive shortstop in history, trailing only Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughan, Lou Boudreau, Vern Stephens, and about equal with Joe Cronin.

Read the full article here:

Related link: Read the SABR biography of Jim Fregosi, written by Mark Armour

Originally published: February 14, 2014. Last Updated: February 14, 2014.