Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pete Rose

I was pretty busy this weekend, and was able to watch only a small amount of Pirate baseball (For those interested in a recap, the Pirates took one of three from the Reds). I caught a few innings of the game today and happened to be viewing when Lanny and Bob Walk had a brief conversation about whether or not Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. Lanny stated that, "Based on what he did on the field, he belongs in the Hall of Fame." Walk agreed, and both held the opinion that Rose should not be allowed in the game of baseball in any other form. Coincidentally, I had been thinking about this same subject yesterday. I was wondering if Pete Rose was even that good? If you take away all the gambling and the lying and the like, what would we really have? I took a look at some of his career numbers, and I was quite surprised. Here is a sampling of some important statistics, along with his all-time Major League rank in parentheses:

After looking through these numbers, there are some conclusions we can make. Pete Rose played for a long time. He played 24 seasons, played in 254 more games and had 1,689 more at-bats than anyone else in history, and even continued playing while managing the Reds from 1984-1986. He also did a decent job of getting on base and was difficult to strike out.

But what makes him worthy of the Hall of Fame? His OPS+ was under 100 (below average) in six of his final seven seasons. While he was racking up an additional 884 hits during these years and becoming the all-time hits leader, he was not really helping his team. Should he be rewarded for playing until he was 45 simply to set this record? Having 67 more hits than Ty Cobb becomes less impressive when you consider the fact that he had 2,619 more at-bats than Cobb. Or if you consider that Rose had a career .302 average. This is a good career average. In fact, it is the same as the great Mike Greenwell. It is even a few percentage points higher than Juan Pierre's career mark.

How about his slugging percentage? Here are a few examples of players with higher career slugging percentages: Gary Redus, Ron Belliard, Placido Polanco, Don Slaught, Rafael Furcal, DARIN ERSTAD (See for more details on Erstad).

But he hustled, you might say. In fact, his nickname was Charlie Hustle. Who cares? I probably appreciate hustle more than anyone else you might know, but you have to be a great ballplayer to be in the Hall of Fame. Hustle points do not count, unless they translate into something tangible. If a player's hustle produces a large amount of stolen bases, that means something to me. Rose was successful on only 57.1% of his steal attempts. That is terrible. Let's move on.

So what does this all mean? It means that Rose played for a long time, probably too long. He had a lot of hits. He also made a lot of outs. The hits he had were mostly singles (3,215 career singles). For a singles hitter to be great, he must have a batting average that is much higher than .302. He must have an on-base percentage that is much higher than .375. For me to consider a player worthy of the Hall of Fame, he has to out-slug Darin Erstad. Forget the debate about whether a player's moral conduct should be considered in Hall of Fame voting. Pete Rose was very much overrated, and his numbers alone make him only a borderline Hall of Famer.

1 comment:

Matt said...

This is something I found interesting. As I was searching for "Rose" on the career leaders page for each of these statistics, "Al Rosen" came up before "Pete Rose" in about half of the categories. I think that helps my argument.

Wait 'Til Next Year