Thursday, January 7, 2010

Most Debate About a Hat Ever

Now that Andre Dawson will have a plaque in Cooperstown, all is right with the world and no one has anything to bitch about.  Nope.

Somehow, the hat that Dawson's plaque will have engraved on it is quite a source of contention on the interwebs.  MB21 at ACB does a good job of representing the side that believes Andre should go in wearing an Expos hat:

"Andre Dawson’s best years were long over before he joined the Cubs.  In fact, his 5 best seasons and 7 of the 8 best were in Montreal.  Below is the WAR for each team Dawson played for. 

Montreal: 43.6
Chicago: 16
Florida: -1.1
Boston: -1.5"


"Dawson’s 4 best seasons were near or above 7 WAR.  His next best season was with the Expos at 4.2 (1988 Cubs was also 4.2).  He was nearly 3 times more valuable in Montreal."

Since I don't delve too heavily into the stats here in Aisle 424, for those who don't know, WAR is Wins Above Replacement.  Simply, a replacement player is a fictitious average player that would be called up from AAA to replace someone because of injury (for example), and the WAR is how many more wins a player would contribute to a team than the replacement player.

To give you an idea of a typical replacement player, think Doug Dascenzo in 1991, who had a WAR of exactly 0.  Oddly enough, Aaron Miles' career prior to his bonanza year with St. Louis (1.8) and his disaster year with the Cubs (-1.4) was practically the definition of a replacement level player (translation: replacement level players suck).  Again, Jim Hendry should be fired for that stupid-ass signing alone.

So getting back on target, if you believe in the WAR valuation of a player, then my original assumption that I tweeted yesterday would be true:

"Sorry Cubs fans, Andre should wear an Expos hat in the Hall. 1987 aside, his best seasons came in Montreal. Him getting in is enough for me"

However, not too many people understand WAR or use it in comparing a player's stats.  The traditional stat line of batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage/on-base plus slugging is more likely to be used to compare.  Also, comparing a player's OPS to the average OPS of a particular season (OPS+) has come into more popular use now as well (Average OPS+ would be 100, above is better, below is worse).

Stay with me.  I can sense the eyes glazing over as you reach for the mouse to click to another, more interesting site, so here is something to keep you interested:


And just to show that I can pander to any demographic:


(H/T to cubbiejulie)

So anyway, I looked at Andre's stats and saw he batted .280/.326/.476/.802 with an OPS+ of 122 while a member of the Expos.  He batted .285/.327/.507/.834 with an OPS+ of 125 with the Cubs. So if you look at the traditional stats, it looks like he had better years in Chicago than in Montreal.

Additonally, a commenter on ACB going by Wrigley made some good points:

"Dawson's career highs in HR, RBI, and BA all came in seasons he spent in Chicago. He also won his only MVP with the Cubs in 1987, and considering the fact he won 2 gold gloves with the Cubs, he was obviously viewed as the same premium defender in Chicago as he was in Montreal. Those are all pretty superficial ways of evaluating a player, but-- ya know what?-- that's what the people who make these decisions care about. And taking all that into consideration, is it really such a surprise that a lot of people would remember Dawson as a Cub?"

So, true valuation would seem to indicate that Dawson should wear the Expos hat on his plaque in Cooperstown.  However, I don't think that the people at the Hall of Fame consider WAR very highly in their comparisons and they are the ones who make the decision (thanks to Wade Boggs trying to go in as a Devil Ray).

I have to believe that the traditional stat lines, the fact that there aren't any Expos fans who are going to raise a stink about it (or attend the induction ceremonies), his national prominence growing as a result of being on WGN as a Cub, and the probability that Dawson's preference is the Cubs (the Hall still considers a players' wishes in making the decision) would lead to a Cubs hat on the plaque.

UPDATE:  Bruce Miles reports that the fondness for Cubs fans that Dawson exhibited today in his press conference leads one to think his preference is to go in as a Cub:

"I'm grateful that both of those organizations gave me the opportunity to wear their uniform," Dawson said in New York Thursday, one day after receiving word of his election. "I played a little bit longer in Montreal. Of course, that's where I got my initial start.

"But, I tell you, going to Wrigley Field, playing in the 'Friendly Confines' amongst the Cubs fans, that was amazing in itself. That really rejuvenated my career, I think, and put me at a point in time where I was unsure about myself and the game and how much longer I was going to be in the game. The way the Cubs fans embraced me that first year pretty much propelled me on to winning the National League MVP award. 

"I owe that organization a lot for believing in me."

Additionally, Andre seems to be more of a winter, so the blue of the Cubs hat would really bring out the color in his eyes. 

But either way, I'm fine with it.  He's in.  I don't really care what hat he is wearing.

UPDATE 2.0 - Apparently, the hat conundrum will last at least another day.  According to the AP: (h/t @burke400h)

"The Hall of Fame has not decided which team's logo will go on Andre Dawson's bronze plaque.

Hall president Jeff Idelson says that while the museum has final say, the Hall makes its decision with the player. Dawson arrived in New York too late after his election on Wednesday to begin discussions."

What time did Dawson arrive where there wasn't time for this conversation?:

HOF Rep: Welcome to New York, Mr. Dawson.  Congratulations again on your impending enshrinement.

Dawson:  Thank you. It's been a great day.  Tiring.

HOF Rep: Yes, I would imagine.  We wanted to get right to work on making your plaque, so which team would be your preference for the hat?

Dawson: Well, I had some great years in Montreal, but then the Cubs were where I really got noticed nationally, but I really had some great years for the Expos, but the Cubs have such great fans...

HOF Rep: Mr. Dawson?

Dawson: Yes?

HOF Rep:  There aren't any press members here.

Dawson: Oh... right.  Cubs then.
HOF Rep:  That's all we needed to know.  Have a good night.

UPDATE 3.0 - Paul Sullivan includes a bit in his latest piece about Dawson's hat preference and he doesn't even throw in a dig at Carlos Zambrano in the process:

"A source told the Tribune's Fred Mitchell that Dawson would prefer to go in as a Cub."


Seat 106 said...

I say he goes in with a Cubs hat. If Dawson had played his whole career with the Expos, he wouldn't have even had to bother to stay home at the phone yesterday. Stats aren't the only measure of a player's greatness. There are those intangible qualities of leadership, clutch play, grittiness, determination and of course, not being a quitter. (See previous ongoing oral rants.) Dawson had those and demonstrated them most during his years in Chicago. On a related topic, who in the name of all that is good about baseball gives HOF votes to Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, David Segui or, lord help us, Robin Ventura. Finally, that is not the best picture of Marla.

DB said...

Oh dear god, this post cracks me up. But you do that usually, and especially when there's any bashing of Miles going on.

Diplomatic answer: it's a shame they can't refer to both the Cubs and Expos on that plaque. However, I tend towards "Wrigley"'s argument. While Dawson may have played more years with the Expos, it was with the Cubs that he had the high stats and national exposure.

And hey, it was our bleacher bums that bowed to him!

Alex Quigley said...

...his national prominence growing as a result of being on WGN as a Cub...

I think that's a pretty big tiebreaker. I wouldn't be upset if he went in as an Expo, but he truly became "great" as a Cub.

Anonymous said...

Dawson has to be the best FA signing the Cubs ever had. Thanks to collusion they got him cheap and he put up some nice seasons.

I don't really think you can go wrong with either the Expos or Cubs. As much as I think the Expos hat would be more appropriate I could see them going with the Cubs cap.

Charley said...

I'll admit I want to see Andre in a Cubs hat. While he was definitely more of a 5-tool player as an Expo, the Expos are now the Nationals. Cubs will be forever, 50 years from now when kids visit the HOF they'll know the Cubs, but Expos will probably get lost in history.

Aisle 424 said...

ccd, Dawson laps the field of Cubs FA signings. I can't think of anyone even close. Ted Lilly has to be the distant silver medal winner.

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