Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 11, 2006
BASEBALL: Sheffield's Win Shares

So, I'm sitting at my computer typing Win Shares into a spreadsheet (yes, I'm still working on that), and notice that the Bill James Handbook 2006 lists Gary Sheffield with 398 career Win Shares. As of 2001, at least, there were 89 players with 350 or more Win Shares, and there were only six eligible non-Hall of Famers in that group: Tony Mullane at 399, Bill Dahlen at 394, Darrell Evans at 363, Rusty Staub at 358, Sherry Magee at 354, and Lou Whitaker at 351. One more, and Sheffield passes all of them, leaving the only non-active non-Hall of Famers ahead of him Pete Rose and Cal Ripken, and Ripken will be in soon.

Active players with 350 or more:

Barry Bonds661
Roger Clemens421
Craig Biggio411
Gary Sheffield398
Rafael Palmeiro394
Jeff Bagwell387
Greg Maddux371
Frank Thomas362
Ken Griffey358

Note that Bonds trails only Babe Ruth (756, an amusingly ironic total) and Ty Cobb (722), but it will take two more years at least to catch Cobb. A-Rod is at 315, so he has a chance to end up in the real stratosphere as well (only 19 players have reached 500 Win Shares, only 9 have reached 600).

Bonds, Sheffield, Palmeiro . . . this is gonna be sportswriter heaven the next decade or so, given the club that the steroid scandals have given the writers to abuse people they don't like.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:58 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)


Timely post. On Friday, my brother was going through this years Baseball Register and declared that Sheffield is going in the HoF. He is one of those guys who sneaks up on the career totals list by steadily putting up numbers each year. He used Griffey for comparison and made the point that Griffey had a greater peak but almost every year of Sheffield's career has been at least very good to great.

Posted by: LargeBill at February 12, 2006 9:44 AM

Sheff's hurt by his personality, and lack of one or two of those "oh my" seasons that defines a guy (Bagwell '94; Griff '97; Belle '95), even though he's had seasons, like '96, that were nearly as valuable. But without a .350+ avg, or 50+ HRs, etc., it's hard to get noticed for compiling a 460 OBP.

It's funny, even though (a) I recognize his greatness from a sabermetric perspective, and (b) I've always been a fan, my initial reaction is "Sheff for the HOF? Get outta here," just as I do for Palmiero or other inflated 90s stats guys.

But, in reality, I should put him in the Biggio/Griffey/Bagwell class, a group that I don't tend to argue about as re HOF. Funny.

Perception really is reality sometimes.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2006 12:14 PM

Also, it just occurred to me, Sheff's lost much of the superficial gloss he could have earned by playing in the Murph, Joe Robbie, Dodgers Stadium, and Yankee Stadium for most of his career. Many lost hits, and lots of lost HRs. As to Runs and RBIs, well they always go down in a run-starved environment.

And, now that I list it, I realize his lack of an identity with one team hurts too.

He may end up falling through the cracks, with his personality providing the final push.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2006 12:18 PM

Ever see a side by side of Sheffield and Willie Mays at bat? Sheff's got a HoF swing, at least.

Posted by: seamus at February 12, 2006 1:03 PM

Sheffield has often, over the years, been compared to Dick Allen, but he's had better durability and longevity. Allen was also an unquestioned HOF-level talent with a lot of baggage. If you don't overly penalize Sheffield for the steroid issue, I don't think there is much question he's a HOFer.

Posted by: Jerry at February 12, 2006 4:21 PM

Scariest swing in the biz, that's for sure.

Gotta hate being a third baseman when he comes up. Sheesh.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2006 5:21 PM

One of the most remarkable performances I've ever see was Sheffield a couple of years ago at Camden Yards. Homered in the 9th to give Yanks the win. Typical Sheffield- line drive bullet right down the left field line. I think it was his only hit of the game, but he must have hit a dozen foul balls that day into the stands down the left field line, everyone of them a laser. It became a joke almost- "There's another one. Hope no one got hurt..." That kind of thing. Buddy Groom, who for some reason that defies explanation was trying to close it for the Os, gave up the tater. "Think he gets pissed if he hits a double to right center?", an Os fan asked rhetorically as we were all filing out.

Posted by: seamus at February 12, 2006 6:14 PM

Buddy Groom facing Sheffield??? A slop-tossing lefty trying to close it against the fastest righty-bat in the majors? Yikes. Maybe Maz did deserve to get fired afterall.

With that matchup, yes, I think a double anywhere in the park would be disappointing.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2006 6:47 PM

what's a win-share?

Posted by: bman2u at February 13, 2006 2:33 PM


A system devised by Bill James to determine a player's worth, translated into a figure that relates to the actual wins for a team. 1 team win gains 3 win shares.

The metric is complicated, but includes hitting (adjusted for ballpark, league, and season), defense, runs prevented for pitchers, etc.

There must be thousands of links on-line that explain it. Maybe check out, or Hardball Times? Perhaps it's even explained on Cranks site right here.

Posted by: Mike at February 13, 2006 7:08 PM

I've never been a fan of any of the teams Sheff has played for (and I hate the Dodgers and Yanks) but I've always loved Sheff. I can't even really explain why. Maybe I have an affinity for guys who get a really bad deal from the press. I'd love to see him get in the Hall but I'm sceptical as to whether it will happen.

Posted by: Ted at February 13, 2006 9:05 PM

"The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. ... I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I'd say, 'OK, here's a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose." --Gary Sheffield

I am sure GS has gotten the raw end of the deal at some points in his career. I KNOW in Milwaukie he earned everything he got and I suspect the case was the same or similar in LA. A fantastic talent, not a great team player, not a great teammate and really not someone who got a bad deal from the press without doing a lot to earn it.

Posted by: jim at February 14, 2006 5:29 PM

Studes has historical Win Shares spreadsheets at his Baseball Graphs site. He added 2005 data a couple of weeks ago.

Posted by: tbw at February 27, 2006 6:35 PM
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