JAWS: Walker Has HOF Worthy Resume in Analytics Assessment

Whether it is the eye tests, old-time stats or more refined statistical analysis, Larry Walker checks in among the elite right fielders in the history of the game. Despite the ledger that would seem to say he is Hall of Fame worthy, Walker is headed into his ninth and next-to-last-year of being on the Hall of Fame ballot sent to veteran members of the Basebal Writers’ Association of America.

Under Jay Jaffe’s JAWS evaluation, Walker ranks as the 11th-best right fielder in history, higher than 15 right fielders already in the Hall of Fame.

FYI

The JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score system) was developed by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe — first at Baseball Prospectus in 2004 — as a means to measure a player's Hall of Fame worthiness by comparing him to the players at his position who are already enshrined, using advanced metrics to account for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game's history. The stated goal is to improve the Hall of Fame's standards, or at least to maintain them rather than erode them, by admitting players who are at least as good as the average Hall of Famer at the position, using a means via which longevity isn't the sole determinant of worthiness.

A player's JAWS is his career WAR averaged with his 7-year peak WAR (not necessarily consecutive years). For non-pitchers, all non-pitching WAR (offense, defense, baserunning) is included in determining the averages, but any pitching WAR they might have accrued is not; right fielders aren't penalized by the additional value Babe Ruth accumulated on the mound, for example. The current Hall of Famers are then grouped by position and a position average JAWS is computed. For the purposes of comparison, a player is classified at the position where he accrued the most value, which may be different from the position where he played the most games, particularly as players tend to shift to positions of less defensive responsibility as they age. Within that process, a first-cut infield vs. outfield determination is made as well.

Walker Career Fits the RF HOFers

Rk Name JAWS Yrs From To OPS
1 Babe Ruth HOF 123.4 22 1914 1935 1.164
2 Hank Aaron HOF 101.7 23 1954 1976 .928
3 Stan Musial HOF 96.2 22 1941 1963 .976
4 Mel Ott HOF 80.3 22 1926 1947 .947
5 Frank Robinson HOF 80.1 21 1956 1976 .926
6 Roberto Clemente HOF 74.3 18 1955 1972 .834
7 Al Kaline HOF 70.8 22 1953 1974 .855
8 Reggie Jackson HOF 60.4 21 1967 1987 .846
9 Harry Heilmann HOF 59.7 17 1914 1932 .93 0
Larry Walker 58.7 17 1989 2005 .965
Avg of 25 HOFers 57.8
10 Paul Waner HOF 57.5 20 1926 1945 .878
11 Sam Crawford HOF 57.5 19 1899 1917 .814
12 Tony Gwynn HOF 55.2 20 1982 2001 .847
13 Dave Winfield HOF 51.1 22 1973 1995 .827
14 Vladimir Guerrero HOF 50.3 16 1996 2011 .931
15 Elmer Flick HOF 47.3 13 1898 1910 .834
16 Enos Slaughter HOF 45.3 19 1938 1959 .834
17 Willie Keeler HOF 45.2 19 1892 1910 .802
18 Sam Rice HOF 41.7 20 1915 1934 .801
19 Harry Hooper HOF 41.7 17 1909 1925 .755
20 Kiki Cuyler HOF 40.8 18 1921 1938 .860
21 Chuck Klein HOF 40.1 17 1928 1944 .922
22 Sam Thompson HOF 38.8 15 1885 1906 .890
23 King Kelly HOF 37.7 16 1878 1893 .806
24 Ross Youngs HOF 31.3 10 1917 1926 .839
25 Tommy McCarthy HOF 17.6 13 1884 1896 .740
Tracy RingolsbyComment