Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-28-2019, 09:30 AM
Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 54,564

Red Sox player Bill Buckner dead at 69


Story here

Made one error that cost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series. I understand the Mets are in mourning.
  #2  
Old 05-28-2019, 11:57 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 42,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Story here

Made one error that cost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series. I understand the Mets are in mourning.
No, his error didn't cost the Sox the Series - that's about the most unfair thing you can say about Buckner. So many other things had to go wrong both before and after that play for the Sox to lose the Series: bad pitching by Schiraldi and Stanley, and then the Sox blew a three run lead in Game 7. Buckner wasn't even responsible for losing the game, much less the Series.
  #3  
Old 05-28-2019, 12:06 PM
Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,558
Blaming Buckner for costing the Red Sox the Series is like blaming Steve Bartman for costing the Cubs the NLCS. It was but one error out of many different things - many things that had to work together to combine together for the loss. By the time Buckner made his error, the score had already been tied, too. It's not like if he fielded the ball right, the Sox get a guaranteed championship.


And no matter what, I don't think it's fair to judge an athlete's entire 22-season career based off of something that happens in 0.22 seconds.
  #4  
Old 05-28-2019, 12:09 PM
bobot's Avatar
bobot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chicago-ish
Posts: 8,206
Today on the radio he was described as though that error was his most well known thing. I am familiar with that error, it was pretty sloppy, but I remember him as the guy with the moustache that was on the Cubs team when I was young.
  #5  
Old 05-28-2019, 01:56 PM
Pixel_Dent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,155
My favorite Buckner memory was the inside the park home run he hit for Boston at the end of his career in 1990. I think he should have retired immediately after that at bat so he could say he and Ted Williams both finished their careers with a home run.

Here it is if you haven't seen it

Last edited by Pixel_Dent; 05-28-2019 at 01:58 PM.
  #6  
Old 05-28-2019, 10:05 PM
Atamasama's Avatar
Atamasama is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,413
Buckner was a very good player who unfortunately is best-remembered for one error that happened in one game during a 22 year MLB career. He was the NL batting champion in 1980 and played in the All-Star game the following year. He was a fast runner early in his career before having to get ankle surgery, twice getting in the top ten of base steals. He twice led the MLB in doubles. Career batting average of .289, OBP of .322 and a slugging percentage of .408. As I said, a very good player. After moving to first base, in 1,555 regular season games he only made 128 errors with 13,901 chances, so he wasn’t at all prone to errors.

Yet he’s best remembered for one mistake. How strange.
  #7  
Old 05-28-2019, 10:14 PM
UltraVires is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 15,549
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
Buckner was a very good player who unfortunately is best-remembered for one error that happened in one game during a 22 year MLB career. He was the NL batting champion in 1980 and played in the All-Star game the following year. He was a fast runner early in his career before having to get ankle surgery, twice getting in the top ten of base steals. He twice led the MLB in doubles. Career batting average of .289, OBP of .322 and a slugging percentage of .408. As I said, a very good player. After moving to first base, in 1,555 regular season games he only made 128 errors with 13,901 chances, so he wasnít at all prone to errors.

Yet heís best remembered for one mistake. How strange.
Right. That's how I remember Buckner. A good, solid defensive player with a good bat. Hustled his ass off every play. A solid player.

I remember the error as an unfortunate one-time incident in an otherwise great career. I'm surprised that most other people only remember him for the error. And like others have said, why isn't the blame on the Sox bullpen for completely choking when they had the game in hand?
  #8  
Old 05-28-2019, 10:50 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 14,934
As Buckner had played for the Cubs during his peak years, the Chicago TV stations talked about him quite a bit yesterday. One of the sportscasters (on WGN, I think) noted that, over the course of his 22-year career, Buckner never struck out three times in a single game.

As UltraVires noted, he was a really solid player.

Godspeed, Mr. Buckner.
  #9  
Old 05-28-2019, 11:19 PM
Freddy the Pig is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 7,954
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
As Buckner had played for the Cubs during his peak years, the Chicago TV stations talked about him quite a bit yesterday.
Since I'm from Chicago, although not a Cubs fan, I remember Buckner mostly for the 7+ seasons he played for the Cubs, during which he was not only a consistently productive (albeit not powerful) hitter, but insanely popular with the fans. Chicago absolutely loved Billy Buck.

Finally, in 1984, the Cubs decided to go with Leon Durham at first, and Buckner struggled with limited playing time and productivity, and the Cubs traded him to Boston. I thought, since he was 34 and had notoriously bad legs, that he was just about at the end of the line. But no, he rejuvenated himself in Boston, until the Unfortunate Incident.

Fun fact about Buckner: he led the league in assists by a first baseman four times. The reason, of course, is that with his bad legs he had to toss the ball to the pitcher on any grounder that was more than three feet from first base. But alas, the assist that he didn't get in the 1986 World Series that was so memorable.
  #10  
Old 05-29-2019, 08:19 AM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
You make an interesting point about Buckner's asszist totals that reminds me of something.

During their careers, Buckner was not regarded as an especially good first baseman. A competitor (and former teammate) of his, Steve Garvey, was; in fact, Garvey won four Gold Gloves. (He once went an en tire season without making a single error; he is the only first baseman to ever do that while playing full time.)

However, for a long time, baseball analytics held that Buckner was an excellent first baseman, while Garvey was an extraordinarily dreadful one. Indeed, Fangraphs and BBRef still say this. But as several folks have pointed out, that's a failure of the methodology. First basemen are heavily judged, statistically, on how many assists they make, on the assumption that a putout for a first baseman doesn't really mean anything. Buckner made a lot of assists because, as you point out, he would absolutely refuse to make the putout himself if he fielded a ground ball; he made very sure that his pitcher teammates knew they had to get over there to cover the bag every single time.

Garvey, conversely, didn't trust his own arm, but was quite mobile, so his approach was to make every putout he possibly could on his own. The difference in assists had nothing at all to do with their effectiveness as fielders.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!

Last edited by RickJay; 05-29-2019 at 11:30 AM.
  #11  
Old 05-29-2019, 08:29 AM
hajario's Avatar
hajario is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Posts: 16,040
I really wish someone more knowledgeable had started this thread. Oh well.

He started out as a Dodger when I was a kid in LA. I remember that my best friendís older sister had a huge crush on him. Heís one of the first baseball players I recall being aware of. He was always gracious about The Play and even did a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode making fun of it.
  #12  
Old 05-29-2019, 08:41 AM
jaycat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,337
Also often overlooked is the fact that, throughout the season, Sox manager John McNamara routinely replaced Buckner at first with Dave Stapleton for late-inning defense. The rumor at the time was that McNamara wanted Buckner on the field for the "celebration" that never took place.
  #13  
Old 05-29-2019, 09:12 AM
Barkis is Willin' is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
And like others have said, why isn't the blame on the Sox bullpen for completely choking when they had the game in hand?
Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley definitely got off easy. Schiraldi got 2 quick outs with a 2 run lead in the bottom of the 10th, then gives up 3 singles in a row. Then Stanley comes in and his wild pitch was every bit as damning as Buckner's error, possibly even more so. But it was Buckner's error that ended the game, so he gets piled on. And listen, no sugar coating, it was a bad error. But it wasn't the only mistake and it's not worth tarnishing an otherwise very fine career.
  #14  
Old 05-29-2019, 09:20 AM
JMLVT68 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 89

Forgiveness is powerful


https://thespun.com/more/mlb/video-o...st-watch-today
  #15  
Old 05-29-2019, 10:43 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 47,450
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobot View Post
Today on the radio he was described as though that error was his most well known thing. I am familiar with that error, it was pretty sloppy, but I remember him as the guy with the moustache that was on the Cubs team when I was young.
Same here. Weird thing is, I guess I must have been 11 at the time of that World Series, but for years after, I remembered that play as him being on the Cubs and happening sometime during the 1984 season, perhaps during the games against San Diego (which he wouldn't have been there for, anyway). Really weird how my memory got scrambled, and that's how much I thought of him as a Cub, I guess. (And I guess how much I associated heartbreaks like that with the Cubs.) Must have been some time in late high school or even college that the memories straightened themselves out.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-29-2019 at 10:47 AM.
  #16  
Old 05-29-2019, 10:59 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 47,450
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
You make an interesting point about Buckner's asszist totals that reminds me of something.

during their careers, Buckner was not regarded as an especially good first basemen. A competitor (and former teammate) of his, Steve Garvey, was; in fact, Garvey won four Gold Gloves. (He once went an en tire season without making a single error; he is the only first baseman to ever do that while playing full time.)

However, for a long time, baseball analytics held that Buckner was an excellent first baseman, while Garvey was an extraordinarily dreadful one. Indeed, Fangraphs and BBRef still say this. But as several folks have pointed out, that's a failure of the methodology. First basemen are heavily judged, statistically, on how many assists they make, on the assumption that a putout for a first baseman doesn't really mean anything. Buckner made a lot of assists because, as you point out, he would absolutely refuse to make the putout himself if he fielded a ground ball; he made very sure that his pitcher teammates knew they had to get over there to cover the bag every single time.

Garvey, conversely, didn't trust his own arm, but was quite mobile, so his approach was to make every putout he possibly could on his own. The difference in assists had nothing at all to do with their effectiveness as fielders.
What's somewhat odd is that for someone with bad legs (he had some surgery in the mid-70s--I understand he was regarded as a speedy guy at one time, but that's before my time), he led the Red Sox in stolen bases by a margin in 1985 (18 vs 10 for runner-up Jackie Gutierrez. ETA: Sorry. Steve "Psycho" Lyons had 12.) He slowed down in '86 with 6 vs Marty Barrett's 15, but those numbers don't seem like ones from somebody who has very limited running ability--at least not on the teams he played with. (OK, the league leaders in those days were in the 70+ stolen base range, but for his team, one year he led them, the next year he came second.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-29-2019 at 11:01 AM.
  #17  
Old 05-29-2019, 11:15 AM
ElvisL1ves is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: The land of the mouse
Posts: 49,729
When he made that error, Mike Torrez, who gave up that homer to Bucky Bleeping Dent in 1978, shouted "I'm off the hook!"
  #18  
Old 05-29-2019, 11:32 AM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
What's somewhat odd is that for someone with bad legs (he had some surgery in the mid-70s--I understand he was regarded as a speedy guy at one time, but that's before my time), he led the Red Sox in stolen bases by a margin in 1985 (18 vs 10 for runner-up Jackie Gutierrez. ETA: Sorry. Steve "Psycho" Lyons had 12.)
Buckner was a smart, alert player who was on base a lot, and would pick on a pitcher who wasn't paying enough attention to him.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
  #19  
Old 05-29-2019, 11:47 AM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
What's somewhat odd is that for someone with bad legs (he had some surgery in the mid-70s--I understand he was regarded as a speedy guy at one time, but that's before my time), he led the Red Sox in stolen bases by a margin in 1985 (18 vs 10 for runner-up Jackie Gutierrez. ETA: Sorry. Steve "Psycho" Lyons had 12.)
Buckner was a smart, alert player who was on base a lot, and would pick on a pitcher who wasn't paying enough attention to him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaycat
Also often overlooked is the fact that, throughout the season, Sox manager John McNamara routinely replaced Buckner at first with Dave Stapleton for late-inning defense.
Stapleton only played 29 games at first base in 1986; from what I can see, 24 were replacing Buckner (maybe someone else too, but it had to be mostly Buckner) so it wasn't exactly routine, but it picked up in the playoffs; Stapleton replaceed Buckner twice in the ALCS and in all of Boston's three wins in the World Series.

It is odd, really, that Stapleton was on the team at all; carrying a guy just to occasionally spell off your old first baseman is just a weird thing. Stapleton couldn't hit, and had no other use. Stapleton is the only baseball player I can think of who is best remembered for not playing in a game.

McNamara, in the only firsthand comment I can find, said he left Buckner in because Buckner was "the best first baseman I had." That of course just invites the question as to why Stapleton's primary job was to replace Bill Buckner on defense. McNamara's management of Game 6 just baffles me; the first mistake, of course, is the fact that he left Schiraldi in, when Schiraldi had been pitching since the eighth and many fresh relievers were available.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
  #20  
Old 05-29-2019, 01:40 PM
Barkis is Willin' is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
McNamara, in the only firsthand comment I can find, said he left Buckner in because Buckner was "the best first baseman I had." That of course just invites the question as to why Stapleton's primary job was to replace Bill Buckner on defense. McNamara's management of Game 6 just baffles me; the first mistake, of course, is the fact that he left Schiraldi in, when Schiraldi had been pitching since the eighth and many fresh relievers were available.
I suspect he'd have made a similar comment, Schiraldi was the best pitcher available. Schiraldi had a fine season. But in Game 5, 2 nights earlier, Bruce Hurst pitched a complete game. So yeah, the bullpen was fresh. Stanley had been regularly used as a closer, so I can't imagine why he didn't start the 10th inning. And it's not like Schiraldi cruised through the 8th and 9th, he did give up the tying run in the 8th. So I agree, McNamara gets off the hook pretty easily, too.
  #21  
Old 05-29-2019, 06:16 PM
Freddy the Pig is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 7,954
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
Stapleton only played 29 games at first base in 1986; from what I can see, 24 were replacing Buckner (maybe someone else too, but it had to be mostly Buckner) so it wasn't exactly routine . . .
God help me, I just analyzed Dave Stapleton's 1986 game log. As you say, he substituted at first base 24 times; six of those appearances were as a defensive replacement for Don Baylor, on occasions when Buckner DH'd and Baylor played first.

Eighteen times, Stapleton replaced Buckner. But most of those had motivations other than defense. Nine or ten of the games were Boston blowouts where it was just a matter of resting your regulars; other Boston players came out of those games as well. Four or five of the games were situations where Boston was tied or behind and Stapleton pinch-ran for Buckner and then remained in the game. At no time during the regular season did McNamara have a consistent policy of getting Buckner out of the game just to get a better glove on the field.

There may be something to the Celebration Theory; Boston clinched the AL East with a 12-3 blowout over Toronto on September 28, and McNamara left all nine starters, including pitcher Oil Can Boyd, in the game until the very end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay
. . . but it picked up in the playoffs.
Indeed, but with some ambiguity. Stapleton replaced Buckner in all four Boston wins, but two of them were blowouts, and in one, Stapleton entered as a pinch-runner with Boston behind. Then in Game Seven, he replaced Buckner with Boston leading 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning, which leads me to wonder whether Buckner sustained some minor injury. (That's awfully early for a defensive replacement.)

Finally, in the World Series, we cross a threshold--in Game One, Stapleton replaces Buckner with Boston leading 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning--clearly and unambiguously, to get a better glove on the field in a close game. Then again in Game Two. And again in Game Five. And then not in Game Six.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay
Stapleton is the only baseball player I can think of who is best remembered for not playing in a game.
Wally Pipp!
  #22  
Old 05-30-2019, 12:00 AM
UltraVires is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 15,549
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy the Pig View Post
Since I'm from Chicago, although not a Cubs fan, I remember Buckner mostly for the 7+ seasons he played for the Cubs, during which he was not only a consistently productive (albeit not powerful) hitter, but insanely popular with the fans. Chicago absolutely loved Billy Buck.

Finally, in 1984, the Cubs decided to go with Leon Durham at first, and Buckner struggled with limited playing time and productivity, and the Cubs traded him to Boston. I thought, since he was 34 and had notoriously bad legs, that he was just about at the end of the line. But no, he rejuvenated himself in Boston, until the Unfortunate Incident.
I've never lived anywhere near Chicago (although I have been there several times and think it is a wonderful town) as most kids that grew up in the early 80s, we had WGN on cable and coming home from school I would watch the Cubbies as they always played in the daytime (no lights!) and listen to Harry Caray. I still remember Empire Furniture (588-2300, Empire!!!). I got to appreciate Buckner from those days.

For that reason, the Cubbies have always been my second favorite team behind the Pirates.
  #23  
Old 05-30-2019, 04:53 AM
Blank Slate's Avatar
Blank Slate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,310
I've discovered via this thread that Bill Buckner was a mediocre baseball player, at best. A career 100 OPS+ and a .321 OBP. A first baseman and sometime corner outfielder who only managed 174 home runs in over 10,000 plate appearances. A 22 year career which resulted in only 15 WAR and just one All-Star game. In my memory, he was a better player than all that.
  #24  
Old 05-30-2019, 05:13 AM
asahi's Avatar
asahi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: On your computer screen
Posts: 10,046
It was really Schiraldi who blew that game.

Let's also not forget the Sox took an early lead in game 7 before the Mets finally solved Bruce Hurst.
  #25  
Old 05-30-2019, 08:54 AM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy the Pig View Post
Wally Pipp!
Oooh, good one!

Thanks fr the detailed examination. It just makes it all the more puzzling that Stapleton was on the team. After a really solid rookie year in 1980 (at the age of 26, so he just peaked then) Stapleton was a regular utility guy in 1981 and was Boston's regular first baseman in 1982 and 1983 but he was not very good, pretty much a placeholder until they found someone better, and in 1984 Buckner was the someone better and Stapleton hit the pine. He then rode the pine for basically three full years in Boston.

I can't really understand why Stapleton was on the team. I can't think of a comparable example of a team carrying a guy for almost three entire seasons who really didn't serve any purpose. Stapleton barely played; just 13 games in 1984, 30 in 1984 and 39 in 1986 and he hardly ever started, and he was the kind of guy who really wasn't a useful bench player. It's just weird that you'd expend a roster spot on a guy you never use for THREE YEARS. He did have a significant injury in 1984, which cost him a few months, but I cannot find evidence he was injured after that. He just... was there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank Slate
I've discovered via this thread that Bill Buckner was a mediocre baseball player, at best.
I don't think that is a fair characterization. Buckner was not a Hall of Famer to be sure, and he was probably overrated in his time, but 15 WAR, even over 22 seasons, is after all a contribution. The great majority of players won't contribute that much.

It is probably fair to say Buckner is the "worst" player who ever got 2700 hits, but that is a hell of a club to be the worst player in.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!

Last edited by RickJay; 05-30-2019 at 08:55 AM.
  #26  
Old 05-30-2019, 09:37 AM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 14,934
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
I've discovered via this thread that Bill Buckner was a mediocre baseball player, at best. A career 100 OPS+ and a .321 OBP. A first baseman and sometime corner outfielder who only managed 174 home runs in over 10,000 plate appearances. A 22 year career which resulted in only 15 WAR and just one All-Star game. In my memory, he was a better player than all that.
Yeah, in my memory, too. Looking at Baseball Reference, I see that, in 1980, when he won the NL batting crown, his WAR was only 1.5. Sabermetrics clearly aren't Buckner's friend.
  #27  
Old 05-30-2019, 10:39 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 42,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
It is probably fair to say Buckner is the "worst" player who ever got 2700 hits, but that is a hell of a club to be the worst player in.
Buckner is 66th in total hits on the all-time list, and (to my surprise) 11th all-time among first basemen. That's largely because he had an exceptionally long career (playing in 22 seasons) but it's still not too shabby.
  #28  
Old 05-30-2019, 01:23 PM
Blank Slate's Avatar
Blank Slate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,310
It's mind blowing that in 1980, Buckner won the batting title and struck out a grand total of 18 times. Meanwhile, in the AL, George Brett hit .390 and only whiffed 22 times.
  #29  
Old 05-30-2019, 01:57 PM
Atamasama's Avatar
Atamasama is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,413
Buckner is definitely not a hall of famer. But again, for 22 years he was good-to-okay (even good enough to be an All Star once) and yet everyone just talks about one error he made once. That’s what I find is weird/sad.

I mean, his career was four times as long as the average for a player (5.6 years). He couldn’t have been that bad. By my count, only 35 players in Major League history had longer careers (the record is 27 years, shared by Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson; Cap retired in 1897). So that alone seems fairly exceptional to me.
  #30  
Old 05-30-2019, 02:19 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 14,934
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
It's mind blowing that in 1980, Buckner won the batting title and struck out a grand total of 18 times. Meanwhile, in the AL, George Brett hit .390 and only whiffed 22 times.
Buckner rarely struck out (see my point earlier about never striking out three times in a game), but he also didn't get many bases on balls (which is why his OBP was only .321). Baseball Reference shows that, over the course of 162 games, Buckner would have only struck out an average of 29 times, but he also would have ony walked 29 times.

Plus, he also averaged only 11 home runs per 162 games. Billy Buck didn't deliver much on any of the the Three True Outcomes.
  #31  
Old 05-30-2019, 02:21 PM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Yeah, in my memory, too. Looking at Baseball Reference, I see that, in 1980, when he won the NL batting crown, his WAR was only 1.5. Sabermetrics clearly aren't Buckner's friend.
You should not be entirely trusting of defensive WAR from before the days that they had actual firsthand zone charts. There is just no way in hell Buckner wasn't more valuable than that.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
  #32  
Old 05-30-2019, 08:14 PM
Blank Slate's Avatar
Blank Slate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,310
Buckner had the lowest OBP (.353) of any batting title winner in the modern era. WAR clearly doesn't reward first basemen who excel at hitting singles and not much else. He had first class moustache, though. One of the best in MLB history.
  #33  
Old 05-30-2019, 08:55 PM
installLSC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 2,605
That 1986 Red Sox team was odd on so many levels. The 85 Sox won only 81 games, and Don Baylor was the only major change in 86. The middle of the order were all players on their downside, the bench was rarely used and ineffective, and the bullpen was full of has beens and never weres. (Quick, anyone remember Steve Crawford?). Everything had to break well for them to win, and until the World Series it did.
Another forgotten thing about Game 6: even if Buckner fielded the last play cleanly, Mookie Wilson probably beats it out. As this brief but fun interview points out, Stanley should have been covering first but screwed up. It would have been a race by Buckner and Mookie to first, and the speedy Wilson probably wins that race. (BTW, does anyone know why having a runner on second forced Buckner to play deep?)
  #34  
Old 05-31-2019, 08:12 AM
Borborygmi's Avatar
Borborygmi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: the worst timeline
Posts: 965
Quote:
Originally Posted by juliane View Post
I agree with you,he is great.
Tell me more about agree with you.
  #35  
Old 05-31-2019, 06:17 PM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by installLSC View Post
That 1986 Red Sox team was odd on so many levels. The 85 Sox won only 81 games, and Don Baylor was the only major change in 86. The middle of the order were all players on their downside, the bench was rarely used and ineffective, and the bullpen was full of has beens and never weres. (Quick, anyone remember Steve Crawford?). Everything had to break well for them to win, and until the World Series it did.
Another forgotten thing about Game 6: even if Buckner fielded the last play cleanly, Mookie Wilson probably beats it out. As this brief but fun interview points out, Stanley should have been covering first but screwed up. It would have been a race by Buckner and Mookie to first, and the speedy Wilson probably wins that race. (BTW, does anyone know why having a runner on second forced Buckner to play deep?)
I mean, I know Mookie was fast and Buckner was not, but he was only twelve feet from the base.

I assume he was playing deep to prevent a single. A single to the outfield probably wins the game; an infield single would not.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
  #36  
Old 06-01-2019, 12:05 PM
Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,412
I also remember Buckner best from his Cubs days. I saw a lot of games in Wrigley in the late seventies and can also attest that he was well loved by the fans.

I'm kind of amused by the title of the OP, which refers to him as a "Red Sox player." He played nearly 800 games with the Dodgers and close to 1000 with the Cubs, only 526 with Boston. His best years were long before he came to Boston, too. He had 9.6 WAR with LA, 8.7 with Chicago, and negative 1.4 with Boston. It's a little like if Reggie Jackson died and someone started an OP with "Angels DH Reggie Jackson dead at..." I mean, I know why; it's that error. As others have pointed out, it's unfair. In a just world the OP would have read "Former first baseman Bill Buckner dead at..."

Of course, without the error it's doubtful there would've been a thread. So I guess there's that...
  #37  
Old 06-01-2019, 12:27 PM
Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,412
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
You should not be entirely trusting of defensive WAR from before the days that they had actual firsthand zone charts. There is just no way in hell Buckner wasn't more valuable than that.
Well, it may be that they've underrated him, but as Blank Slate points out his OBP in 1980 (the year you're referring to) was quite pedestrian that year despite the batting title. Know how many unintentional walks he drew that season, in 615 plate appearances? Nineteen. Nineteen walks! Mike Trout gets nineteen walks in a week. (Well, not literally.) Buckner's offensive WAR that year was calculated at 2.1, which is better than 1.5 but also nothing to write home about. --He did hit 40 doubles, but it was a less than stellar offensive season given that he was a batting champion.

As for defense, I dunno. Worth pointing out is that the Cubs used Larry Biittner at first base a lot in 1980, meaning that Buckner played 54 games in the outfield. I'd imagine that brought down the defensive WAR some. Then again, though it's obviously been many years, I don't recall him being a particularly good defensive 1B. Manny Trillo, who played second in those days, was exceptional at making plays to his left, and it always seemed to me that the Cubs kept Trillo shaded way more toward first base than the second basemen on other teams. I don't know how b-reference calculates defensive stats from the seventies and eighties, but I can easily believe that he was a noticeably worse than average fielder by the time he got to the Cubs.
  #38  
Old 06-01-2019, 03:48 PM
Blank Slate's Avatar
Blank Slate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,310
I can picture Buckner batting and he 'choked up' on the bat. A lot of players did in those days. I never really thought about it, but I can't remember the last time I saw a hitter doing it. Are there any MLB players who regularly choke up these days?
  #39  
Old 06-01-2019, 06:33 PM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
Well, it may be that they've underrated him, but as Blank Slate points out his OBP in 1980 (the year you're referring to) was quite pedestrian that year despite the batting title.
The league OBP was .320, so .353 was well above average. He wasn't Lou Gehrig, but he was a good player.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!

Last edited by RickJay; 06-01-2019 at 06:34 PM.
  #40  
Old 06-01-2019, 08:30 PM
Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,412
Just for fun, and because I was surprised by Buckner's low WAR rating even in his batting championship season, I thought I'd look up other NL batting champions in the same era and compare them to Buckner in 1980.

Turns out that one of these fellows doesn't belong.

I looked at the NL champs from 1970 to 1990, so there were ten years on each side of Buckner. It's an impressive group. Three Hall of Famers (Gwynn four titles, Raines one, Billy Williams one), and some other terrific players (Rose, Torre, Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez), along with some other folks I think of as being in roughly the same league as Buckner--Bill Madlock, Willie McGee, Al Oliver, Rico Carty--and one I think of as below that level, that one being Ralph Garr in 1974.

Buckner's OPS in his batting-champion year was .810, which is of course good. But it ranks 20th of the 21 seasons, beating out only Gwynn in 1988. He's barely behind two others. Fifteen of the seasons are better than .850. Ten are above .900. In this company, .810's not so hot.

It's WAR, though, where Buckner really stands out and not in a good way. His 1980 WAR was 1.5. Next worst of these 21 seasons was 2.4, by Madlock in 1983. Gwynn at 2.5 in 1989 is the only other one under 3. Well over half are over 5, and Gwynn in 1987, Rose in '73, and McGee is '85 are all over 8. "One of these things is not like the others..."

It's not just defense. Buckner's oWAR in 1980 was 2.1. Next lowest: Madlock in '81 at 3.4. Almost everybody's over 4. Torre had the highest, 8.6.

I looked up the career WAR figures for these guys as well. Another eye-opener. Buckner did beat out Garr, barely, 15.1 to 14.8, but he didn't achieve even half the WAR of anybody else. Carty 32.6, McGee 34.2, Madlock 38.2, Parker 40.1, Oliver 43.7. The rest of them well above that.

I also scanned the AL leaders, same time frame. It's full of Bretts and Boggses and Carews, though, and at a glance it looks like Carew in '72 and Willie Wilson in '82 are the only ones coming in behind Buckner in OPS (and not by much), and all of them that I can see are way ahead of Buckner in yearly WAR and (except for Alex Johnson in 1970) career WAR.

So Buckner really stands out. I don't know why WAR downgrades him so much, but in this crowd it sure is noticeable! Not to say he wasn't a good player, because 15.1 WAR and 22 years of the major leagues is very far from nothing. Still, I would not have thought of him as half as good as McGee or Madlock or Oliver...
  #41  
Old 06-01-2019, 09:50 PM
glowacks is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,152
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
Of course, without the error it's doubtful there would've been a thread. So I guess there's that...
Yeah, no one would care one bit if it hadn't been for that particular play that somehow became part of baseball history lore. I wouldn't have seen it on Facebook. I wouldn't have seen it here. I'm sure plenty of players of his quality pass away without anyone noticing.
  #42  
Old 06-02-2019, 10:30 AM
RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 41,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
So Buckner really stands out. I don't know why WAR downgrades him so much, but in this crowd it sure is noticeable! Not to say he wasn't a good player, because 15.1 WAR and 22 years of the major leagues is very far from nothing. Still, I would not have thought of him as half as good as McGee or Madlock or Oliver...
Buckner is dragged down by being a first baseman and making a lot of outs. I really think he was worth more than 1.5 WAR but I think it reasonable to agree he was not worth as much as most, if not all, other batting champions. Hitting for average was Buckner's only real skill, a fact which is actually kind of rare for a batting champion. Most batting titles are won by two kinds of players:

1. EXTREMELY great hitters, like Miguel Cabrera, or
2. Players who are defensively valuable.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:18 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017