1990 – a study of Ken Singleton and his comps

Terry

10: Ken Singleton– He’d rank a lot higher if I were choosing sides; in the SABR world, he seems to be turning into the new most underrated player

Bob

I hadn’t really thought of him as being under-rated, so I thought I’d take a look. I took bbr’s ten best comps for Singleton and looked at how the 11 compared using WAR, Win Shares and Linear Weights.

38.6 302 26.3 Ken Singleton
34.2 245 03.2 Dusty Baker
27.3 257 06.2 Gary Matthews
25.6 237 04.2 George Hendrick
29.0 277 16.6 Bobby Murcer
16.2 193 -1.2 Jeff Conine
32.0 216 00.2 George Scott
31.7 269 09.3 Ron Fairly
34.7 235 10.2 Cy Williams
16.0 217 01.7 Todd Zeile
32.2 253 08.8 Wally Joyner

Singleton comes in first in all three metrics. The question now becomes: is Singleton over-rated by sabermetrics or are bbr’s comps really bad? I think it is a heckuva lot more that bbr’s comps leave a lot to be desired.

Shinsplint

Yeah, the comps are bad, but you also have to realize the comps are based on hitting alone–with some position adjustment. WAR, Win Shares, and Linear Weights all use fielding as well.

Having said that–yeah–the comps are STILL bad. As you know, I have my own comp formula, and here are the results. I’m certainly closer than bb-ref for reasonable comps. Bobby Abreu is the #1 comp, which looks a little odd, but I’m matching on the similarity of triple-slash stats as well. There are several good comps here.

plate appearances, OPS+, and oWAR.

8559 132 45.1 Ken Singleton
9926 129 57.4 Bobby Abreu
8553 128 43.1 Keith Hernandez
9063 129 44.8 John Olerud
8230 137 51.3 Jack Clark
8657 138 46.9 Carlos Delgado
8205 124 48.7 Bob Elliot
8437 117 31.1 Ron Fairly
8011 129 55.2 Jimmy Wynn
8664 123 38.0 Ed Konetchy
8220 125 58.7 Bobby Grich

This is the same using the players returned by bb-ref. Every player he’s compared to is not as good as him offensively.

8559 132 45.1 Ken Singleton
8022 116 32.4 Dusty Baker
8189 118 36.6 Gary Matthews
7834 117 31.5 George Hendrick
7718 124 39.8 Bobby Murcer
7782 107 16.4 Jeff Conine
8269 114 23.3 George Scott
8437 117 31.1 Ron Fairly
7725 125 38.7 Cy Williams
8649 104 23.3 Todd Zeile
8115 117 27.9 Wally Joyner

Chuck

In the family of hitters, Singleton is a 5-1-4 (2b-3b-HR). I have him residing on 13th St in the 514 district (meaning ops+ that is in the 130-neighborhood), and living at 1313 (130 ops+ area, and a 13% walk rate).
Also dwelling at 1313 in the 5-1-4 district were: Dolph Camilli, George Selkirk, Dwight Evans, Bobby Grich, and J.D. Drew. Next door, at 1314 (14% walk rate) lived Jimmy Wynn and Brian Giles. On the other side, at 1312 (12% walk rate): Mike Epstein and Rick Monday.

Bob

Shins, I knew you’d give me better comps than bbr. Here are their WAR, Win Shares and Linear Weights (I only have LW thru 2006, so I’m leaving Abreu blank and have Delgado thru ’06 – he’s likely not missing more than just a little)

38.6 302 26.3 Ken Singleton
57.2 353 —- Bobby Abreu
57.1 311 31.7 Keith Hernandez
53.7 302 24.4 John Olerud
50.1 316 27.8 Jack Clark
40.4 303 21.3 Carlos Delgado
47.6 287 24.5 Bob Elliott
31.7 269 09.3 Ron Fairly
53.1 305 27.8 Jim Wynn
43.2 287 26.7 Ed Konetchy
67.3 329 58.2 Bobby Grich

I don’t know if Singleton is undervalued by sabermetricians, but he does appear to be undervalued by WAR. The seven guys who are most like Singleton (I deleted Abreu and Delgado because I don’t have LW and Grich because so much of his value was fielding) average 48.1 WAR, 297 Win Shares and 24.6 Linear Weights. And the three guys most like Singleton (Hernandez, Olerud and Clark) have comparable WS and LW but 15 more WAR.

Shinsplint

I think it can be explained by the fact that Hernandez and Olerud, at least by dWAR, were apparently much better fielders than Singleton, so their WAR is higher. And since I’ve found out that WS doesn’t weigh defense very highly, then subtracting their defensive portion of WS wouldn’t change their WS that much relative to Singleton. I can’t explain Linear Weights as I don’t know how it works regarding defense.

Bob

From 1975-1981, Ken Singleton played 1028 games, 945 in the outfield. He had a dWAR of -11.1.
From 1995-2001, Edgar Martinez played 1020 games, 33 games in the field. He had a dWAR of -8.6.

Singleton was such a bad fielder that he was worse than a guy who couldn’t field.

Chuck

Early in the 70’s, at least by bb-reference, Singleton appears ok in the outfield, and looking at his career stats, he’s rated as an above-average left fielder. It looks to me like he was in circumstances on teams where they really had no viable candidate for right field- that is, a good arm who could also hit. So Singleton got put out there, when he might have been adequate to average as a left fielder.
Someone who remembers him visually might want to weigh in on this. The bb-ref stats make it look like his range and his arm were both problematic in right.

For his offensive win-loss shares, I have him at 234-73, a markedly better record than Jimmy Wynn, at 212-80, or Bobby Bonds at 215-90. Singleton had about 3 seasons’ worth of PA as a dh, and these seasons are usually given an 0-4 record for fielding. For his other games, I estimate his fielding win-loss shares at 67.
Trying to be conservative, if he was just a .330 fielder, he’d have a 22-45 record, plus 0-12 for the dh part. That’s 22-57 overall for fielding, and 256-130 (.663) when adding in the offense.
This is just under my estimate for Bonds, of 264-130 overall, and very close to my estimate for Wynn: 255-133.

Best seasons by offensive win-loss shares for these three:
Singleton…. Bonds…. Wynn
26-(+3)…….22-04….22-(+1)
25-(+3)…….21-05….23-01
22-(+1)…….21-06….22-01
23-01……….19-04….21-03
20-04……….20-07….20-04
19-05……….20-07….20-06
17-06……….18-08….18-05
15-07……….17-10….15-03
12-04……….15-08….12-10
13-09……….16-09….11-10

 

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