Would Pete Runnel(l)s Make the Sox Roster in 2022?

Bernie Carbohydrate

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Consider this self-assessment by the former Red Sox all-star and two-time batting champ:

"It used to be quite a thing to lead the league in hitting," he says. "But now, from the standpoint of the fans, that don't sit so high. I just don't hit home runs, I never did, and I never will. I don't hold it against anybody."
He played 14 seasons and put up a career .291/.375/.378. His prime years in Boston featured an OBP-driven .835 OPS, with 3-5 dingers and a truckload of singles. Nobody talks about his glove, and with a dWar of -1.8 let's assume he'll give you at best replacement-level defense at third.

So, does he beat out Hudson Potts in spring training?
 

bankshot1

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I don't recall Runnells playing 3rd, but as a 2nd baseman and then 1st. I'd like to think a steady .300+ hitter while with the Sox, might catch on as a utility guy.
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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I don't recall Runnells playing 3rd, but as a 2nd baseman and then 1st. I'd like to think a steady .300+ hitter while with the Sox, might catch on as a utility guy.
Good catch…he played far more games at 1st and 2nd than 3rd. Even broke in at SS, but didn’t stick there.

So a weak-fielding utility infielder who is a singles machine.
 

scottyno

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Would a guy who was a 4 WAR player for 5 years with the Sox make their roster in 2022? I don't understand how this is a question. Front offices don't care about home run totals or what the fans think.
 

bankshot1

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As I remember Runnels he was sort of Boggs before Boggs was Boggs. He went oppo and used the wall for Fenway doubles. Back in the day he was a smart hitter. And I don't recall him being a real liability at 1st.
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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Would a guy who was a 4 WAR player for 5 years with the Sox make their roster in 2022? I don't understand how this is a question. Front offices don't care about home run totals or what the fans think.
I ask because it is hard to find that kind of player on an MLB roster these days. Put up a .375ish OBP with no power and you’re … Nicky Lopez.
 

scottyno

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I ask because it is hard to find that kind of player on an MLB roster these days. Put up a .375ish OBP with no power and you’re … Nicky Lopez.
Nicky Lopez would not only make the Sox roster, but would be the no brainer starting 2nd baseman in 2022. He is also a far inferior hitter to what Runnels was, a 102 ops+ in his breakout season, compared to Runnels putting up a 125 ops+ in his 5 years in Boston. If Nicky Lopez put up a 125 ops+ he would probably be the Sox best player.
 

Orel Miraculous

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Would a guy who was a 4 WAR player for 5 years with the Sox make their roster in 2022? I don't understand how this is a question. Front offices don't care about home run totals or what the fans think.
"Front offices don't care about how many times a player does the single most valuable thing in baseball" is certainly a take, I guess. But sure, your overall point stands: Pete Runnels brought a lot of value to the ball field, and that value would still be there today.

But Runnels' point still stands, too : he would not be nearly as highly regarded today as he was in his own time. This is a man who received MVP votes in five different seasons in which he failed to hit double digit homers. Over the last 30 years, I'm guessing the only player who could match that is Ichiro. And given that Ichiro is literally better than other every human being who's ever existed at connecting a bat to a ball, he's kind of a special case.
 

TapeAndPosts

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The guy's five years in Boston he hit .320/.408/.427. Single digit HRs but 20-30 doubles, a few triples and he could take a walk. If he's playing a passable second base I'll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
 

Niastri

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The guy's five years in Boston he hit .320/.408/.427. Single digit HRs but 20-30 doubles, a few triples and he could take a walk. If he's playing a passable second base I'll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Yeah, a .400 plus obp from any position is valuable. Even more so at second, a traditional weak spot in the lineup.

Then again, in today's minor leagues, they probably mess with his swing to get more fly balls and less line drives and he never bats.300 in AAA.
 

scottyno

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"Front offices don't care about how many times a player does the single most valuable thing in baseball" is certainly a take, I guess. But sure, your overall point stands: Pete Runnels brought a lot of value to the ball field, and that value would still be there today.

But Runnels' point still stands, too : he would not be nearly as highly regarded today as he was in his own time. This is a man who received MVP votes in five different seasons in which he failed to hit double digit homers. Over the last 30 years, I'm guessing the only player who could match that is Ichiro. And given that Ichiro is literally better than other every human being who's ever existed at connecting a bat to a ball, he's kind of a special case.
The most valuable thing in baseball you can do is help your team get wins however you do it, it's not the early 2000s anymore where teams think guys like Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn are actually good players because they hit a ton of home runs. Value is value.

And Runnels finished in the top 10 in WAR in 3 of those seasons where he got MVP votes, in the MVP voting those 3 years he finished 10th 26th and 17th, he actually might be more appreciated if you looked at those seasons through 2021 glasses than he was at the time.

Of course if he put up his exact stat lines in 2021 they wouldn't be as valuable because they've changed the ball since then to increase offense, but it would still easily be worth a starting roster spot.
 

CaptainLaddie

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The most valuable thing in baseball you can do is help your team get wins however you do it, it's not the early 2000s anymore where teams think guys like Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn are actually good players because they hit a ton of home runs. Value is value.

And Runnels finished in the top 10 in WAR in 3 of those seasons where he got MVP votes, in the MVP voting those 3 years he finished 10th 26th and 17th, he actually might be more appreciated if you looked at those seasons through 2021 glasses than he was at the time.

Of course if he put up his exact stat lines in 2021 they wouldn't be as valuable because they've changed the ball since then to increase offense, but it would still easily be worth a starting roster spot.
Adam Dunn wasn't a good player because he hit home runs, he was a good player because he drew a fuckton of walks AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 124.

Ryan Howard wasn't a good player because he hit home runes, he was a good player because he didn't draw a fuckton of walks and AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 125.

Those aren't the best examples, is what I'm saying. They were both good players -- Dunn moreso because his peak was way longer -- but to say that Dunn and Howard weren't actually good players is silly. They both had value, especially at their peaks (Howard averaged 1.5 WAR and Dunn 1.4 over their careers).
 

lurker42

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Adam Dunn wasn't a good player because he hit home runs, he was a good player because he drew a fuckton of walks AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 124.

Ryan Howard wasn't a good player because he hit home runes, he was a good player because he didn't draw a fuckton of walks and AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 125.

Those aren't the best examples, is what I'm saying. They were both good players -- Dunn moreso because his peak was way longer -- but to say that Dunn and Howard weren't actually good players is silly. They both had value, especially at their peaks (Howard averaged 1.5 WAR and Dunn 1.4 over their careers).
A much better example supporting his argument is Tony Batista. Averaged 27 homers and 89 RBI per 162 games, frequently hit middle of the order for the Jays and O's...but because of his sub-.300 OBP and way below average defense was a net negative player most of the time.
 

scottyno

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Adam Dunn wasn't a good player because he hit home runs, he was a good player because he drew a fuckton of walks AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 124.

Ryan Howard wasn't a good player because he hit home runes, he was a good player because he didn't draw a fuckton of walks and AND hit home runs. His career OPS+ was 125.

Those aren't the best examples, is what I'm saying. They were both good players -- Dunn moreso because his peak was way longer -- but to say that Dunn and Howard weren't actually good players is silly. They both had value, especially at their peaks (Howard averaged 1.5 WAR and Dunn 1.4 over their careers).
Ryan Howard had 14.7 war in 13 years, and was -5.2 waa for his career

Adam Dunn had 17.9 war in 14 years and was -8.8 waa for his career

They were not good players over their careers at all, unless you consider playing a lot of games every year as a below average player to be good. They were 2 of the worst fielders of the last 25 years and gave back a huge amount of what they produced at the plate with their gloves.

Also, neither of them was getting mvp votes because they drew walks, they got votes because they put up huge home run numbers while actually being not very good players.

A much better example supporting his argument is Tony Batista. Averaged 27 homers and 89 RBI per 162 games, frequently hit middle of the order for the Jays and O's...but because of his sub-.300 OBP and way below average defense was a net negative player most of the time.
Batista was an average defender over his career, but a bad hitter, though I'm not sure how much praise he got in his career as a hitter, he only made 2 asgs and 0 career mvp votes, but over his career he was actaully pretty comparable to those 2, 13.8 war in 11 years and a -3.1 waa
 
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CaptainLaddie

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Ryan Howard had 14.7 war in 13 years, and was -5.2 waa for his career

Adam Dunn had 17.9 war in 14 years and was -8.8 waa for his career

They were not good players over their careers at all, unless you consider playing a lot of games every year as a below average player to be good. They were 2 of the worst fielders of the last 25 years and gave back a huge amount of what they produced at the plate with their gloves.

Also, neither of them was getting mvp votes because they drew walks, they got votes because they put up huge home run numbers while actually being not very good players.
Yeah, no, you're still wrong. I'll explain. They were both net good players.

I don't give a shit about your fielding (or hitting!) if you have a positive WAR, and both of these guys did. Dunn had one single season in which he had a negative WAR. Dunn being a three true outcomes guy worked for him for 2001 games -- and there's good reason someone like Billy Beane traded for him at the end of his career. I get that his entire value was tied into his ability to hit the dinger and to draw walks, but in only one season did it make him a negative value on his team. That's pretty great.

Howard absolutely had a bad back of his career -- he had a positive WAR in one of his last five seasons. Doesn't change that he was a force from 2005-2009. Won ROY despite playing only 88 games in 2005 (and his WAR extrapolated that year over 162 would have had him ranked at 17th, just ahead of Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Rollins, and Bobby Abreu -- ironically his own teammates), then was 7th, 13th, 15th, 20th in WAR in the NL from 2006-2009. Yet you think he's not a good player. The guy fell off hard, no question, but he was a really good player for half a decade.
 

scottyno

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Yeah, no, you're still wrong. I'll explain. They were both net good players.

I don't give a shit about your fielding (or hitting!) if you have a positive WAR, and both of these guys did. Dunn had one single season in which he had a negative WAR. Dunn being a three true outcomes guy worked for him for 2001 games -- and there's good reason someone like Billy Beane traded for him at the end of his career. I get that his entire value was tied into his ability to hit the dinger and to draw walks, but in only one season did it make him a negative value on his team. That's pretty great.
You don't seem to understand what WAR is. A player with a slightly positive war is typically a fringe major league player, having a slightly positive war when you're a regular starting player is horrible. You aren't adding value by playing an entire season as slightly over replacement level, because there are hundreds of other players who would do better if given the same playing time.

A starting player who averages just over 1 WAR a season is a bad major league player. An average starter is around 2 war. A team with 25 slightly positive players would be expected to win about 50 games. A team with 25 Ryan Howard/Adam Dunn caliber players would be expected to win about 70-75 (probably less actually because in reality they couldn't all get as much playing time as the real ones did), that sure sounds like a pretty great team to me.

To get back on topic a team with 25 Pete Runnels caliber players from a typical Red Sox year of his might be the best team of all time.
 
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lexrageorge

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Regarding WAR, I took a quick breakdown of 2021 Oakland A's. They were slightly over 0.500 at 86-76, and, as we are talking about position players, they scored 743 runs, right about the AL average.

Their lineup consisted of Matt Olson's 5.8 bWAR, trailed by 5 more position players with more than 2 bWAR:

Matt Chapman: 3.5
Tony Kemp: 3.4
Sean Murphy: 2.7
Ramon Laureano: 2.6
Mark Canha: 2.5

Elvis Andrus was their lowest regular with 0.6 bWAR.

At his peak, Adam Dunn compared with the above, which would correspond to his 2004-07 stretch, depending how much you want to weight the unreliable defensive bWAR. Similarly, Ryan Howard was certainly a plus player from 2006-09 going strictly by bWAR, the first of which corresponded to his All Star and MVP season.

So, they aren't as bad as being portrayed here when they were at their peaks. But they certainly were not good regulars once those peak years passed.
 

scottyno

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Regarding WAR, I took a quick breakdown of 2021 Oakland A's. They were slightly over 0.500 at 86-76, and, as we are talking about position players, they scored 743 runs, right about the AL average.

Their lineup consisted of Matt Olson's 5.8 bWAR, trailed by 5 more position players with more than 2 bWAR:

Matt Chapman: 3.5
Tony Kemp: 3.4
Sean Murphy: 2.7
Ramon Laureano: 2.6
Mark Canha: 2.5

Elvis Andrus was their lowest regular with 0.6 bWAR.

At his peak, Adam Dunn compared with the above, which would correspond to his 2004-07 stretch, depending how much you want to weight the unreliable defensive bWAR. Similarly, Ryan Howard was certainly a plus player from 2006-09 going strictly by bWAR, the first of which corresponded to his All Star and MVP season.

So, they aren't as bad as being portrayed here when they were at their peaks. But they certainly were not good regulars once those peak years passed.
At their peaks sure they weren't bad, but Ryan Howard was still getting MVP votes in 2011 and Adam Dunn was still getting big contracts into his 30s, so at the time they were still perceived as good baseball players despite actually being bad for the majority of their careers. Neither of those things would happen in 2021.

They were both significantly worse players than Runnels, whether you look at just peak or total career, they were both done being even decent players before they even hit what would have been free agency.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Not to disagree with your points, but Adam Dunn was an excellent offensive player. He averaged nearly 3 oWAR per year over the course of his career. Of course, he gave two thirds of it back on defense but it’s kind of absurd he wasn’t traded to an AL team until the back end of his career.
 

Hoya81

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Yeah, no, you're still wrong. I'll explain. They were both net good players.

I don't give a shit about your fielding (or hitting!) if you have a positive WAR, and both of these guys did. Dunn had one single season in which he had a negative WAR. Dunn being a three true outcomes guy worked for him for 2001 games -- and there's good reason someone like Billy Beane traded for him at the end of his career. I get that his entire value was tied into his ability to hit the dinger and to draw walks, but in only one season did it make him a negative value on his team. That's pretty great.

Howard absolutely had a bad back of his career -- he had a positive WAR in one of his last five seasons. Doesn't change that he was a force from 2005-2009. Won ROY despite playing only 88 games in 2005 (and his WAR extrapolated that year over 162 would have had him ranked at 17th, just ahead of Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Rollins, and Bobby Abreu -- ironically his own teammates), then was 7th, 13th, 15th, 20th in WAR in the NL from 2006-2009. Yet you think he's not a good player. The guy fell off hard, no question, but he was a really good player for half a decade.
Howard probably lost 1 or 2 seasons at the start of his career because the Phillies had made a huge investment in Jim Thome to help sell tickets to the new ballpark, despite Howard crushing minor league pitching in ‘03-‘04. He also blew out his knee in the ‘11 playoffs and was never really the same player again. Those two factors cost him at least 100 HRs and we might be talking about him now as a borderline HOF candidate.
 

kelpapa

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Howard probably lost 1 or 2 seasons at the start of his career because the Phillies had made a huge investment in Jim Thome to help sell tickets to the new ballpark, despite Howard crushing minor league pitching in ‘03-‘04. He also blew out his knee in the ‘11 playoffs and was never really the same player again. Those two factors cost him at least 100 HRs and we might be talking about him now as a borderline HOF candidate.
It was an Achilles tear.
 

scottyno

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Howard probably lost 1 or 2 seasons at the start of his career because the Phillies had made a huge investment in Jim Thome to help sell tickets to the new ballpark, despite Howard crushing minor league pitching in ‘03-‘04. He also blew out his knee in the ‘11 playoffs and was never really the same player again. Those two factors cost him at least 100 HRs and we might be talking about him now as a borderline HOF candidate.
He was already a below average player for 2 years before that injury, even without it and without Thome he had no even remotely possible path to ever being a borderline HOF candidate.