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What's the Deal with Omar?

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Last week, we looked at how Hall of Fame candidates Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen compared to other players at their positions in terms of Bill James’ Win Shares system. Today, we are going to look at how fellow first-time Hall of Fame candidate Omar Vizquel stacks up against other shortstops.

The following table ranks the shortstops with the most all-time career Win Shares.

Career Win Shares Leaders, Primary SS
Rank Player Win Shares
1 Honus Wagner* 655
2 Alex Rodriguez 492
3 Cal Ripken* 427
4 Robin Yount* 423
5 Derek Jeter 412
6 George Davis* 398
7 Bill Dahlen 394
8 Luke Appling* 378
9 Arky Vaughan* 356
10 Barry Larkin* 347
11 Bobby Wallace* 345
12 Joe Cronin* 333
13 Ozzie Smith* 325
14 Alan Trammell* 318
15 Pee Wee Reese* 314
16 Jimmy Rollins 304
17 Rabbit Maranville* 302
18 Luis Aparicio* 293
19 Miguel Tejada 287
20 Omar Vizquel 282
T-21 Julio Franco 280
T-21 Bert Campaneris 280
T-21 Tony Fernandez 280
T-24 Joe Sewell* 277
T-24 Lou Boudreau* 277
*Hall of Famer


In terms of overall Win Shares, Vizquel ranks 20th among shortstops. The players around him are Miguel Tejada, Julio Franco, Bert Campaneris, and Tony Fernandez. Some nearby Hall of Famers are Joe Sewell and Lou Boudreau, and he’s not too far behind Luis Aparicio, another enshrined player.

Bill Dahlen, who is the only eligible player in the top 19 to not be in the Hall of Fame, is an interesting case. He is seventh on the list of most Win Shares by shortstops. He was named by the Society for American Baseball Research as the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2012 and was included on the Veterans Committee ballot in 2013, but fell two votes short of election.

As an 11-time Gold Glove Award recipient, Vizquel is known for his outstanding defense. Let’s see how his glove stacks up against other defensive shortstops by examining how he ranks in Fielding Win Shares.

Career Fielding Win Shares Leaders, Primary SS
Rank Player Fielding Win Shares
1 Ozzie Smith* 139.8
2 Bill Dahlen 129.0
T-3 Rabbit Maranville* 123.2
T-3 Omar Vizquel 123.2
5 Luis Aparicio* 122.8
T-6 Honus Wagner* 116.9
T-6 Dave Concepcion 116.9
8 Cal Ripken* 115.2
9 Tommy Corcoran 114.6
10 Joe Tinker* 112.2
*Hall of Famer


Omar is tied for third in all-time Fielding Win Shares for shortstops with Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville. Rabbit does, however, have 20 more overall Win Shares than Vizquel. Other than Omar, three of the top ten defensive shortstops are not in the Hall of the Fame—Dahlen (again!), and Dave Concepcion and Tommy Corcoran who finished with 269 and 214 total career Win Shares, respectively.

In the Wall Street Journal, Jared Diamond discusses Omar along with other Hall of Fame candidates. We provided some of the same research as in this Stat of the Week. Just a point of clarification, the article quotes me as saying that the data suggests that no more than 15 or 20% of a player's total worth derives from defense. However, what I meant was that defense as a whole, compared with hitting AND pitching is worth 15 to 20% as part of the game overall. Defense, as part of an individual position player's value, would be higher than 15-20% on average because he doesn't pitch. For a shortstop or a catcher, a player's value as a defender could be as high as 40% of his total worth.

About Win Shares: Developed by Bill James to assess a player's value to his team, one Win Share is set equal to one-third of a win. If you add up all the wins a team has, the team Win Share total is exactly three times that number. A player's hitting, fielding, and pitching performance are each taken as a separate component of Win Shares, the sum of which is his overall Win Shares total.


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