James: Comparing a player outside his era

From SABR member Bill James at Bill James Online on January 18, 2018:

The Andruw Jones article which appeared here a few days ago was excerpted from an e-mail conversation with my friends Joe Posnanski and Tom Tango. After sending that e-mail I received a 163-word comment from Tom, to which I responded with a 2,908 word lecture. Tom could have taken offense to my verbose response or its tone, but being the great man that he is he did not, so what follows is a three-part exchange. (1) is Tom Tango’s e-mail, sent sometime late last week. (2) is my very long response to this, written on Sunday and Monday (January 14 and 15, 2018). (3) is Tom’s response to mine. Thanks for reading.

1. Tom

In my view, we should be happy to compare players to their peers. Andruw was born April, 1977. His peers are born 1972-1982. You can go one more generation either way if you like, so as far as players born 1962-1992. After that, we get into the issue Bill is showing that the amount of information is different, so the uncertainty levels will be different. Older players have more depressed stats because of it.

You have about 12-15 nonpitcher in the HOF for any 10-11 year time period. If Andruw is one of the top 12 nonpitcher among his peers, great. If he’s one of the 40 nonpitchers born 1962-1992, great. (Though these numbers can be argued based on expansion.)

I don’t really see the benefit of starting to compare to Willie Mays. We’d never do that in hockey. And I think it’s unhelpful to compare current players to Bill Russell.

This way, we don’t have to make “timeline” adjustments. That’s me though.

Read the full article here: https://www.billjamesonline.com/comparing_a_player_outside_his_era/

Originally published: January 18, 2018. Last Updated: January 18, 2018.