Posted by The Taint on 8/29/2013 1:06:00 PM (view original):
Posted by winner77 on 8/29/2013 12:57:00 PM (view original):Did you watch Rickey play? He was a bad outfielder. I watched his entire career, a huge part of it in person. When you are at 70 games a year, watching a guy live, you get a pretty good idea of what kind of defensive player he is.
What makes a great center fielder? If you look at baseball reference (and I did) Willie Mays (the defacto greatest center fielder EVER) had seasons where he made 9 errors, and his entire career fielding % in CF was .981. I certainly don't believe Rickey was a better CF than Mays, but in 1985...statistically...he was on par with him. Range was there, similar fielding %, etc.
Why did Rickey not spend his entire career in CF? I think it's because he was a superstar and complained that he preferred playing LF. That said, he probably would have be a value out there had he stayed. I don't understand what comparison we need to make in order to de-value his abilities out there.
Stats lie, they do all the times. It's why there are scouts...who watch games in person.
As for Mays, compare the fields he played on compared to what fields are like now, especially the turf fields of today. Not to mention the changes to how a game is scored these days. It's tough to get an error called on you today, much more than 30 years ago.
Most of what I saw of him was in left field. In 1985, I was a Yankee fan...but I was only 8 years old. I don't recall much of the specifics of him playing center field.
When comparing players from different eras, there are a lot of considerations to make. I agree with you there. I would say that 1985 fields were still probably not that close to the manicured perfection of what fields are today, so (a guy like Trout) will have an advantage over guys from the 80's, just like Rickey played on fields that were certainly better than Mays did in 1965, and on it goes.
Left field Rickey (that I saw) was not terrible, but he was certainly not great either. I think stats have to play SOME role in evaluating defense. The eye test certainly carries some weight too, but stats at least give us a basis to start with.
Center field Rickey probably had excellent range, a below average arm, and a so-so glove as far as actually catching the ball. I just think in 1985 specifically, he was probably a tick above average.