Friday, February 15, 2013

Re-entering the Baseball Reference Rabbit Hole

I awoke from a nap in a panic.  I didn't know who the player with the 5th highest rWAR from my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, was.  Luckily, exists and this seems like an appropriate place to re-enter the bref rabbit hole.

Dan Wilson - 10.9 WAR

Dan Wilson is pretty cool.  His nickname is Willie!  He was drafted 7th overall out of the University of Minnesota (we call it the U of M; cute), by the Cincinnati Reds.  In '96 and '97 he posted WARs over 3.0.  He didn't do a whole lot, but provided great defense behind the plate and little bit of pop.  He was born on March 25.  I wonder who else was born on that day.

March 25

Chappy Charles

This guy just screams pre-1900.  Look at his hair!  Everyone had a snappy nickname back then.  He went by Chappy, but was named Raymond Charles, although he was born Charles Shuh Achenbach.  What the h?  He only played 3 seasons.  In 1908, he was 3rd in the NL in errors committed with 49.  Yikes.  Chappy must have stood for "terrible at fielding."  Right?  Ok, we have to get out of this era.  This might take some finagling.  I've never heard of any of his 10 most similar players, so we'll just click on one and hope he is from the last 50 years.

I can't resist a good bad name.  I secretly knew he was old as what; no one goes by Jo-Jo these days.  Shame.  Surprisingly, Jo-Jo was a short-time player who made a lot of errors!  His most similar player by age 32 is Skeeter Webb, but now I think we're just making up names.  He's from Rhode Island.  Rhode Island save us.

Rhode Island

Paul Konerko is from Rhode Island.  Rhode Island is the smallest state, but it does not have the least amount of electoral votes.  Electoral votes are based on population, not size.  So, Konerko. 

Paul Konerko

The very first thing I notice here is that Baseball Reference censors the word porn.  I guess that's fair.  Let's talk about Paul Konerko though.  Konerko not only has a realistic shot at 500 home runs, I'd say he has a very realistic shot at 500 home runs.  He'll drive in over 1500 runs and likely get about 2500 hits.  His career WAR is just above 30.  He is going to have Hall of Fame counting numbers, but sabermetricians are going to hate his candidacy.  We've got a Jack Morris situation a-brewin' here.  Beware people of 2023.  Konerko debuted on September 8, 1997 as a Dodger, against the Marlins.

Monday, September 8, 1997 - Marlins 8, Dodgers 4

Kevin Brown vs. Hideo Nomo.  This was quite the match-up at the time.  Nomo-mania was still in effect and Kevin Brown was one of the more underrated pitchers of his era.  Obviously this was the season the Marlins won the World Series, and looking at their lineup gives you a good idea why they were so good.  Check it out:  Devon White, Edgar Renteria, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Chappy Charles, Moises Alou, and Charles Johnson.  One of those was made up.  The Dodgers used Raul Mondesi as a pinch hitter in this game.  What was that all about?

Raul Mondesi

Ok, looks like he was just getting a day off.  He played 159 games that year.  I was worried that he was backing up Terry Kirby. 

Terry Kirby

Oh, it's Wayne Kirby.  Sorry about that.

Wayne Kirby

I guess it was nice of Mondesi to let Kirby start that game.  Kirby would be out of the league within the next 12 months.  Kirby accumulated 14 home runs in his 8-year-career.  14 more than you.  He never hit over .300.  He didn't really steal bases, didn't hit doubles and wasn't anything special in the field.  Wait!  He led the AL in assists in 1993 with 19!  That's cool.  I'm a sucker for a good throw from right field.  Let's see who else was on the list.

1993 AL Outfield Assists leaders
2.  Albert Belle - 16
3.  Mark McLemore - 13
3.  Kirby Puckett (WHOOOO!) - 13
3.  Chad Curtis - 13

Didn't Chad Curtis try to beat up a fan or something?  Let's check.  Nope, much worse.  He's awful and horrible, let's move on.

OH man, Rob Deer sighting!  Most errors as an OF. 

Rob Deer

First off, HOF name.  .179/.314/.386 in 1991.  He also led the league with 175 strikeouts.  Classic Deer!  He hit 230 career home runs and had 600 career RBI.  Round numbers; Classic Deer!  Most similar to Pete Incaviglia, Russell Branyan and Gorman Thomas, but you probably already knew that. 

*Side Note*  I was in Milwaukee for a Twins/Brewers series a few years ago and Russell Branyan mashed a home run off Joe Nathan to tie the game at 4 in the bottom of the ninth.  This dude got right in my face, flexed his bicep at me and screamed "RUSSELL THE MUSCLES!" and then immediately sat down.  The Twins ripped off 5 runs in the top of the 10th and won 9-4.  I wanted to yell something back at him, but nothing rhymes with Rivas. 

Back to Deer.  Could he have had negative WAR?  Nope, 11.8.  I wonder if any notable players had a career WAR below zero.

Career WAR leaders

As it turns out, the lowest WAR on the leader board is Shane Victorino's 23.1.  So, let's just find someone with a surprising number and call it a night. 

Chicken Wolf - 15.5 WAR

Goal abandoned for name-related reasons.  William Van Winkle Wolf was nicknamed Chicken.  Chicken Wolf.  Chicken Wolf led the American Association with a .363 batting average in 1890, making him the most hilarious batting champion of the past 150 years.  

From The U of M to Chicken Wolf, you really never know where you will go when you start down the Baseball Reference Rabbit Hole.

Brad Swanson is a writer for his own blog.  He goes by the nickname Chappy now.


  1. I loved Rob Deer. He was a part of those Detroit teams in the early 1990s that had all of the dudes hitting 30 home runs and striking out 150 times a piece. Rob Deer, Cecil Fielder, Travis Fryman, Mickey Tettleton, Pete Incavilia, etc. Fun to watch, they were!

    1. I don't remember much of Deer's playing career, but he's got a top ten name in my book.