Discussion in 'Baseball' started by The_Kid, Nov 6, 2007.
All right boys, time to talk about Wade Boggs, one of the greatest 3rd Basemen of all time.
I don't know if I can write at length on this subject, but I certainly agree Boggs is one of the all-time greats at 3B. When I most recently did my Top 5 third basemen, he came in fourth, behind Schmidt, Mathews and Brett (in that order). I've since considered the possibility that Chipper Jones has already done enough to be ranked ahead of Boggs, but I'm undecided on that question.
The biggest knock on Boggs, and it's legitimate to a point, is that benefited titanically from Fenway Park. A review of his home/road splits during his Red Sox years is a real eye-opener, and shows he wouldn't be nearly as attractive an all-time great if his home stats had matched his road stats. Indeed, even with the several years of decline after he left Fenway, he wound up with a whopping .354 career batting average and .443 career on-base percentage at home. Those numbers are the stuff of legends. But his career BA, OBP and slugging average of .302, .387 and .395 on the road are a lot less awesome.
Nonetheless, given that his peak was in the offensively-challenged 1980's, I think even his road stats would be good enough to have put him in Cooperstown, especially since he was well above average in both range and fielding percentage, defensively. And a lot of people have had their career stats bloated by Fenway--see especially Fred Lynn--and not wound up with total career numbers anywhere near as good as Boggs'. He had 4 consecutive years with 200 or more hits AND 100 or more walks. I don't know if anyone else has done that 4 times in his entire career. Neither Tony Gwynn nor Rod Carew ever had 100 walks, and neither Babe Ruth nor Ted Williams ever had 200 hits. The huge average hitters of the Dead Ball Era rarely, if ever, walked 100 times in a season. Basically, Boggs' 200/100 seasons look as impressive as Richie Ashburn's 500+ putouts seasons--a category in which he put up about as many seasons as everyone else in the history of MLB combined.
Fenway Park is not the sole reason Boggs had such awesome walks, and thus OBP, numbers. Even in Fenway, the worst a pitcher usually had to fear from him was a double, and you don't usually walk someone to avoid the danger of a double. Boggs had 180 total intentional walks, and perhaps that many again semi-intentional walks. That leaves well over 1,000 other walks, with just over 9,000 AB's. And, having watched him a lot, I can tell you how he got those walks: by fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch, until he finally got ball four. For awhile there, it was virtually impossible to get him to swing and miss, and you'd hear stats in August or September about how few times he'd done so that season, and your jaw would drop.
I don't think he can be rated ahead of Mathews or Brett, and he certainly can't be rated ahead of Schmidt, but after that, he's got as good a case as anyone. A legitimately great player.
Part of that hugh difference in Boggs home and away slugging gap stems from in large part from the gap in doubles home and away. Lots more extra base hits, lots of bases gained per at bat which is important in slugging percentage, TOTAL BASES DIVIDE BY AT BATS. I'm assuming that Wade put a good number of dents in the Green Monster that might have been fly out in other parks, lots of doubles.
Boggs-----------------281----------------141 figures as a Red Sox only
Two leftys who hit a ton more doubles at home, Fenway.
Ted Williams once said while he considers home and away figures when evaluating hitters but never faults any hitter who make the most of the situation he is in, his home park.
I like Wade very good hitter. He had great bat control. Even with two strikes on him I never thought the pitcher had him in the hole.
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