Baseball BeatSeptember 27, 2007
The All-NincompoOPS Team
By Rich Lederer

In the past, I have unveiled my All-OOPs (Overrated Offensive Players) team at the conclusion of the season. It was comprised of players who hit for a higher batting average than the league norm while putting up on-base percentages and slugging averages that were below the means. In other words, if you hit a lot of singles but had little or no power and rarely walked, you were a strong candidate to make the All-OOPs team. If nothing else, it was a fun exercise.

I have decided to retire my All-OOPs efforts in favor of the All-NincompoOPS team. Yes, that's nincompoops while capitalizing the last three letters to highlight the stat behind my latest creation. Nincompoops, in baseball terms, are nothing more than players with the lowest park-adjusted OPS (or OPS+). It's simple. It's straightforward. And, hey, it's kinda fun.

Let's take a look at the biggest nincompoOPS in 2007 (minimum of 300 plate appearances):

PLAYER            TEAM     POS      OPS+      PA        AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS
Adam Kennedy	STL	2B	50	306	.219	.282	.290	.572
Nick Punto	MIN	3B	52	524	.213	.293	.273	.566
Cesar Izturis	TOT	SS	58	325	.255	.301	.315	.616
Josh Barfield	CLE	2B	58	439	.243	.271	.323	.594
Omar Vizquel	SFG	SS	59	568	.243	.301	.308	.609
Gerald Laird	TEX	C	59	439	.223	.276	.340	.616
Tony Pena 	KCR	SS	61	523	.264	.282	.351	.633
John McDonald	TOR	SS	61	344	.254	.280	.339	.619
Ryan Freel        CIN	CF	64	304	.245	.308	.347	.655
Jason Kendall	TOT	C	64	502	.246	.304	.314	.618
Dave Ross         CIN	C	65	341	.205	.268	.404	.672
Bobby Crosby	OAK	SS	65	374	.226	.278	.341	.619
Brad Ausmus	HOU	C	66	392	.235	.317	.325	.642
Ray Durham	SFG	2B	66	519	.218	.297	.345	.642
Marcus Giles	SDP	2B	67	474	.230	.306	.318	.624
Craig Counsell	MIL	3B	67	330	.223	.327	.313	.640
Craig Biggio	HOU	2B	67	541	.250	.281	.378	.659
Emil Brown	KCR	LF	67	386	.259	.303	.349	.652
Michael Barrett	TOT	C	67	362	.242	.279	.372	.651
Craig Monroe	TOT	LF	68	421	.222	.269	.375	.644
Stephen Drew	ARI	SS	68	601	.230	.309	.360	.669
Jay Payton	BAL	LF	68	449	.251	.286	.352	.638
Dioner Navarro	TBD	C	68	418	.228	.287	.359	.646
Jerry Owens	CHW	CF	68	372	.265	.325	.313	.638
Nook Logan	WSN	CF	68	347	.261	.301	.342	.643
Darin Erstad	CHW	CF	69	337	.250	.308	.339	.647
Julio Lugo	BOS	SS	70	614	.240	.297	.355	.652
Wes Helms         PHI	3B	71	305	.249	.300	.372	.672
Felipe Lopez	WSN	SS	71	657	.242	.307	.346	.653
Scott Thorman	ATL	1B	71	300	.221	.261	.402	.663
Jose Lopez	SEA	2B	71	542	.254	.285	.349	.634
Chris Burke	HOU	2B	72	347	.234	.310	.362	.672
Miguel Olivo	FLA	C	73	464	.237	.261	.406	.667
Nelson Cruz	TEX	RF	73	320	.237	.292	.380	.672
Juan Uribe	CHW	SS	74	544	.230	.281	.394	.675
Rich Aurilia	SFG	1B	74	356	.254	.306	.370	.676
Brian Schneider	WSN	C	75	469	.237	.327	.339	.666
Ryan Theriot	CHC	SS	76	578	.273	.333	.356	.689
Ramon Vazquez	TEX	3B	76	337	.233	.305	.377	.682
Juan Pierre	LAD	CF	77	707	.294	.333	.354	.687
Yorvit Torrealba  COL	C	77	421	.259	.327	.376	.703
Rafael Furcal	LAD	SS	77	642	.270	.333	.355	.688
Johnny Estrada	MIL	C	79	464	.278	.296	.403	.699
Ronny Paulino	PIT	C	79	481	.258	.310	.387	.697

Much like Kurt Bevacqua, most of the players on the above list couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. If Tommy Lasorda were pitching, he would undoubtedly send these players a limousine to make sure they were in the lineup.

The Official 2007 All-NincompoOPS Team

 C: Gerald Laird
1B: Scott Thorman
2B: Adam Kennedy
SS: Cesar Izturis
3B: Nick Punto
LF: Emil Brown
CF: Ryan Freel
RF: Nelson Cruz
DH: Craig Monroe

Nice pickup by the Cardinals in getting Adam Kennedy. The good news is that he only had 306 plate appearances. Reminds me of the Will Rogers quote, "Just be thankful you're not getting all the government you're paying for."

Kennedy and Nick Punto are unto a club all by themselves. The All-.200s AVG, OBP, and SLG. It's one thing to hit in the .200s but a whole 'nother matter to post sub-.300 OBP and SLG. Josh Barfield joined his fellow infielders in the 6-and-under league for those with less than .600 OPS. There are 6-feet-and-under basketball leagues. Dead people have jokingly been referred to as 6-feet-and-under. Well, Kennedy's, Punto's, and Barfield's careers are all on life support. One more year like this one and their teams will be dialing 911, asking for the paramedics to come and take them away.

I hope none of you took Scott Thorman in your fantasy league. Heck, the guy didn't show anything as a rookie last year and has never been all that great even in the minors. He turned 25 before spring training camp opened, has below-average power for a first baseman, and would rather take the bus than walk.

What about those of you who got sucked into drafting Emil Brown, finally convinced after two decent years that he wasn't as bad as you once thought? Shame on you. Lesson #1 for wannabe GMs: Beware when a player puts up his first good year at the age of 30 (especially when he has a career line of .200/.289/.302 and spent the prior three seasons in the minors). Lesson #2: Don't forget lesson #1.

Moving along . . . Did you know that Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants occasionally made out a starting lineup with all four of his infielders sporting an OPS+ of no better than 80? Yes, Rich Aurilia (74), Ray Durham (66), Omar Vizquel (59) – don't even try to suggest that this guy is a Hall of Famer – and Pedro Feliz (80) comprised the worst infield in baseball this year. What about Ryan Klesko, you ask? Puh-leeze. The 36-year-old "has been" put up an OPS+ of 92. But, boy, can he field and run! And I hear he's a heckuva presence in the clubhouse, too!

So as not to let the Giants have all the fun, let's take a look at the Dodgers. Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre each produced an OPS+ of 77. Not to worry, Dodger fans. Furcal and Pierre hit 1-2 or 2-1 in the lineup all season and registered 1349 plate appearances between them or more than 22% of the team's total. Add Nomar Garciaparra (80) to the mix and the Dodgers spent about $30 million this year on three players who were dreadful. OK, make it $45 million. I mean, let's not forget Jason Schmidt here. Man, that Ned Colletti can sure pick 'em, huh?

What a bunch of nincompoOPS.


I am surprised to find Furcal on this list. I suppose I have not been paying attention, although he has been at or slightly above 100 OPS+ in the two previous years. What is his reputation as a fielder? I am asking because, although I don't think Colletti pays much attention to such things as OPS+, he does have Hu on hand and might want to replace Furcal anyway. Perhaps a team that needs a decent fielding shortstop for a year or two (the Rays?) might want Rafael who has just one year remaining on his contract at $13 million. They could bat him near the bottom of the lineup, and if he could save the pitchers some runs by playing good defense, he could have value.

Omar IS a hall of famer,and to suggest otherwise is aburd. Yes he was brutal at the plate in this, his age 40 season, but he was still easily one of the beter shortstops in the game. Ozzie put up an OPS+ of 41 his age 40 season, and he wasn't nearly the shortstop Omar is at the same age. Ozzie was much more flashy, but having watched them both extensively, I'd take Omar every day of the week without a second thought. I'm very much into all the new stats and new ways of evaluating ballplayers, but if you an't appreciate how incredibly good Omar is then you probably need to spend more time actually watching baseball....

[i]Omar IS a hall of famer,and to suggest otherwise is aburd.[/i]

No, it's not. Not compared to his peers at SS.

Use the Ozzie example if you want, but the game has changed. Ozzie was regularly getting votes as league MVP, and came as close as 2nd one year. As best as I can tell Omar never got higher than 16th one year.

Heck, if you took all the shortstops in the game today, and I told you to rank 'em based on their peaks, would Omar even crack the top ten?


How many of those guys are going to the Hall? 2 for sure. Maybe as many as 5 or 6 when it all plays out.

If you expanded that list to include all shortstops over Vizquel's career you'd have Ripken, Larkin and Trammel well ahead of him, too.

I'd personally start Jay Payton in left for this particular team - at least in Emil Brown's case his team seemed slightly cognizant that he was awful.

I appreciate your point Jugren, and in terms of offensive peak, all of em probably exceed Omar. But Omar has also been better than all of them defensively. A run saved is the same as a run scored, at least by my way of thinking, and no shortstop has saved more than Omar. I undertand why defense sometimes gets short thrift by sabermetricians (it's a lot harder to quantify as well as you can offense) but that doesnt mean it doesn't matter. And in my opinion, Omar has been the best defensive shortstop I've ever seen (in 40 years). Plus, he's a good musician and a hell of a funny guy.

Ozzie was a better offensive performer than Vizquel:

Seasons of OPS+ over 100: Ozzie 4, Vizquel 1
Seasons of OPS+ over 95: Ozzie 8, Vizquel 3

In his last 11 seasons Vizquel has had an OPS+ above 95 twice, and has been in the 80s more often than not. That is someone who, offensively, is a real detriment to his team. Defense can balance that out to make him an effective player overall, but a Hall of Famer? I don't think so. In Ozzie's last 11 seasons he had OPS+ numbers that included 111, 105, 105, 99, 98, 97... yes, his age-40 season---injury plagued as it was---was craptastic with the afore-mentioned OPS+ of 41, but it was in just 156 at-bats (compare to Vizquel's age-40 OPS+ of 58 in over 500 at-bats), but Ozzie rebounded nicely with 93 season at age 41.

Caught stealing is pretty even though: Vizquel 152, Ozzie 148... thing is Ozzie has 200 more stolen bases.

Well, I must admit the arguements against are much stronger than my arguements for his future induction. But I still contend that if you watched him everyday he's one of those cases where #'s dont tell the whole story. And right or wrong, I have the feeling that 10 years from now you'll see Omar in Cooperstown (although being in agreement with the BBWAA is admittedly nothing I'd want to brag about).

Well, I must admit the arguements against are much stronger than my arguements for his future induction. But I still contend that if you watched him everyday he's one of those cases where #'s dont tell the whole story. And right or wrong, I have the feeling that 10 years from now you'll see Omar in Cooperstown (although being in agreement with the BBWAA is admittedly nothing I'd want to brag about).

Does Omar Vizquel's fielding compensate for his hitting? Anecdotally, yes. Statistically, no. It's up to the BBWAA to decide which is more important. That's not an easy task.

It would be interesting to tag the 2007 salaries to each NincompoOPS Team. That would lend more to who the biggest bust is in 2007. For example, Adam Kennedy's 2007 salary is $2,500,000 while Josh Barfield is just $395,800.

Rich, can you come up with a clever title for the 2007 busts?

Till there is consensus on what, exactly, the Hall of Fame is supposed to be recognizing, I for one will go with just what its title says: Fame. As some or t'other put it, if you cannot discuss the baseball of a given era for long without the man's name coming up (other than as a joke), he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

It's not the Hall of Offensive Productivity. Rather, it's an institution memorializing those players who made the game interesting and exciting to the fans watching it. Necessarily some players who were not helping their teams win as much as some alternatives might have will be in the Hall. So? Which of your bodily parts is in pain?

Omar is a joy to watch. It's that simple.

Well, the BBWAA is generally more impressed with anecdotal evidence than statistical evidence (with the exception of the standard fantasy stats) which makes it seem Omar has a pretty good shot...and he has wona ton of gold gloves, which are generally more a reflection of offensive prowess than defensive (See Raffy's gold glove won as a DH). And Omar still won a bunch, despite having to compete with offensively superior guys like ARod, Jeter, Nomar, and more recently (and at the age of 38 and 39) Rollins, Renteria, Reyes, et al.

Eric Walker - Are you really Colin Cowherd?

The Hall of Fame is for the all time best players.

To argue that someone who isn't among the games all time best players should get in because a)they're famous (I'm kind of a big deal, people know me) and b) the word fame is used in the Hall's name is ridiculous.

Furcal was playing on a bum ankle all year and was coming off his best OPS+ season of 107. They're getting exactly what they deserved with Pierre & Nomar however.

Would like to see this position adjusted so Nomar can get the RESPECT that veterans deserve. His 283 pa's at 1B were a snappy 59 OPS+ against the 1B avg.

I'm not on the Omar for the Hall of Fame bandwagon, but I don't think he would disgrace Cooperstown either. Vizquel is essentially the same kind of player as Aparichio, Concepcion or Maranville: a mediocre hitter with an excellent glove. Defensive metrics suggest that he wasn't quite as good as his 11 Golden Gloves would indicate, but he's racked up 2600 hits and 1300 runs scored so he wasn't a complete zero at the plate either. I would vote no, but he does have a case for the Hall even if he ultimately doesn't make the grade.

[i]But Omar has also been better than all of them defensively. A run saved is the same as a run scored, at least by my way of thinking, and no shortstop has saved more than Omar.[/i]

Let's assume he has been better than 'em all defensively... is that enough to make up the difference in just how much better they'll all been with the bat? (And some of them haven't been slouches with the glove, either.) If you look at something like WARP, which does factor in defense (albeit imperfectly), Omar at his best is still nowhere near a 10 win player. (Similarly noodled bat Ozzie had five years of 'em.)

Would Omar be the worst player in the HoF? No, not by a long shot. I just think there are more deserving candidates to worry about first. (Get back to me when Trammell's in.)

I don't really know if Omar is a hall-of-famer or not. But why is MVP voting even cited in these arguments? Year after year we see what a joke the MVP voting is and how clueless the voters are, but somehow 5 years after the fact they become valid argument points?

MVP voting might be wonky when it comes to who gets the award, but it's rare that the "right guys" aren't in the top 10 or even the top 5. Consider last year: Jeter, Mauer, Hafner, Ortiz, Santana, Dye (ie. all the reasonable person's MVP picks) were all top 10 despite who won it.

When adjusted for a hitting-friendly era, Punto had one of the worst offensive seasons ever by a third baseman. He has been putrid with the bat this year.

And yet these guys have jobs?

its almost as if teams were judging players on something other than hitting a baseball, like maybe catching and throwing a baseball?

But that's crazy talk, there's no rotisserie category for runners thrown out, or double plays turned.

And if roto doesn't measure it, then it must not exist.

Makes you wonder what Paul Depodesta is doing right about now....

Of course Omar is a Hall of Famer. Using OPS+ is ludicrous in this case. OPS+ is park adjusted, which would mean that much of what he is being compared to is Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Matt Williams, Robbie Alomar, ... Ozzie was being compared to Willie McGee and pitchers. Clark and Pendleton hit for some power, but the hitting environment was dramatically different from Jacobs Field in the 90's. Defense got Ozzie in the Hall in large part because of his flash. There are times when you need to get your nose out of the numbers and watch. Omar has been a joy to behold.

As an addendum, I strongly agree that Trammell has been ill used by BBWAA. He's quiet, played in Detroit and isn't pretty, but he was an exceptional player: a much better hitter than Smith and a better fielder than Ripken. Larkin may be a little more media friendly, but they are very similar players. We'll see how he does.

[i]OPS+ is park adjusted, which would mean that much of what he is being compared to is Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Matt Williams, Robbie Alomar, ... Ozzie was being compared to Willie McGee and pitchers.[/i]

Um... what? And does that mean Barry Bonds' OPS+ these past years should be about a gazillion?

You can argue that Omar deserves to be in HoF, as long as you're cognizant that Vizquel

I'm not sure what you are trying to say here "And does that mean Barry Bonds' OPS+ these past years should be about a gazillion?" The years Vizquel played in SF the team OPS+ has been quite poor and it is true that he hasn't helped much. One needs to remember that he was a #2 hitter for most of his career, so his job was often to bunt or hit behing the runner. He was a part of many runs being scored by Lofton as well as quite a few by himself. Whether this approach is optimal is not for us to say here, but it is how baseball has been played for many years. Yes, I am aware that a player with his offensive numbers would have no chance except at SS.

Unfortunaely, defensive stats are really not much help. People have tried using them to prove what a good shortstop Jhonny Peralta is. Anybody playing SS behind Westbrook and Carmona will have a lot of chances. A statue would have a good range factor with all of the DPs. He has been better this year than last, but is no defensive star.

If by your logic Vizquel's OPS+ was held down by playing in Jacobs' field with Manny, Thome, and Albert, than clearly the dead-weights around Bonds, playing in the NL in an extreme pitchers' park, means his OPS+ is probably too low.

Now you're suggesting no #2 hitter is going to but up the raw numbers to make it to the Hall? I guess Jeter's out of luck... or maybe he just wasn't doing his job by not bunting guys over.

Seriously. Vizquel comes up short compared to Smith when you adjust for era, and he comes up short in raw and adjusted stats compared to his contemporaries.

How can we rip on Ryan Theriot? He's "scrappy." He "hustles." He "plays the game the right way." He (insert Darin Erstad superlative of your choice here).

However he does steal bases, cost like no money, and considering the Cubs have trotted Rey Ordonez, Neifi Perez, and Cesar Izturis at shortstop (the latter two for $2+ million a year) fans are generally happy with Theriot.

Jurgen, did you watch him daily in his prime? If you had, you'd be aware of his offensive limitations as we all are, but you'd also be astounded by his play in the field. If not, my condolences. If you rely on ESPN highlights, with their extreme big market bias or if you dismiss outstanding play as "anecdotal" you again have my condolences, since you've really missed the point of watching the game. I have no desire to continue a pamphlet war, so I'm done with this thread.

Can anyone honestly say that Aparicio is superior to Vizquel in a MEANINGFUL way? Vizquel is about to break Aparicio's record for all-time games played at SS, and he just put up on eof his best defensive seasons (statistically) at Age 40. That's insane.

Also, his OPS+ is weak when compared to Ozzie's because he played in the Juiced era. I honestly believe that Omar in the 1980s puts up the smae numbers as he did in the 1990s, which would give him a significantly HIGHER OPS+. His OBP+ is right around 100 last I checked, and that's what Omar was always SUPPOSED to do, get on base. You want him to swing for the fences in a lineup with Belle, Thome, Ramirez, Murray, and later Justice, Sexson, etc.? No, he gets on base, steals bases, bunts (as well as anyone EVER IMO), hits behind the runner, etc. Those things are rarely mentioned, but they are what SHOULD matter when you're talking about a glove man who played on offensive juggernauts where he was never expected to be a slugging force.