SocraticGadfly: Minnie Miñoso: Not a screw-up by the Vets Comm, but still wrong

December 22, 2021

Minnie Miñoso: Not a screw-up by the Vets Comm, but still wrong

Yes, I had originally planned only one of these. But? As the fellations continue, per the new Tony Oliva piece, which is now up? I'm firing back, now on Minnie Miñoso.

The Undefeated, going back to its roots of Black advocacy rather than half its current stuff —which is often "Hey, this is your ESPN assignment editor. To make sure you don't run out of news "content," here's a piece that has Black athletes in it. Sorry it doesn't have civil rights stuff, but ... we do what we can." — says that Miñoso may have been hurt by the color of his skin, but even more by the non-English of his original mother tongue.

Possibly, but?

He still had only 50 WAR.

He was a below-average fielder (he was). He got thrown out on the bases a lot. One 8-WAR, one 6-WAR year. He's not a horrible inductee, but not great.

Back to that asterisk? For anybody talking "but include the Negro Leagues"? Fine. Per B-Ref, he's still under 55 WAR. Given that those were young years, he probably wouldn't have been in MLB's majors most that time were this 20-30 years later and discrimination in playing weren't such a problem, so I still don't see him as much more than 55 WAR. Remember, that when he DID get his initial shot, with the 1949 Indians, he was sent ... to the minors, not back to Negro League ball ... because he wasn't good enough. The Undefeated, in its fellation of Miñoso, admits that Cleveland was [ahead of the Dodgers!] baseball's most integrated team in 1949. It then raises the "Gold Gloves" argument; well, in two of his three winning seasons, he had a negative dWAR. They didn't exist back then, but that's why cognoscenti look at Fielding Bible awards today.

(A Red Satan piece on Oscar Charleson spells it out for me. B-Ref has scanty enough info on Negro League parks that it cannot park-neutralize OPS+, per the story — and on the flip side, presumably can't park-neutralize ERA+, or calculate FIP, let alone to do a FIP+ like Fangraphs. Because of not having the same minor league structure and individual teams not having minor league systems, B-Ref also can't calculate WAR for Negro Leagues players.)

It then shows further wrongness, with this:

Miñoso put together a résumé that was underappreciated. He produced numbers better or equal to those of Yogi Berra, Bill Mazeroski and Nellie Fox, his contemporaries. Miñoso didn’t join them in Cooperstown until Sunday.

Well, those are all defense-first positions, more than right field. Second base somewhat, catcher definitely so, and in addition, we've established that, legend aside, Miñoso was below-average defensively. 

That said, Fox's oWAR was way too low. He shouldn't be in the Hall either. Two wrongs don't make a right. Ditto on Maz.

Berra of course is a different case.About 5 more o-WAR while going through the rigors of catching and nearly 10 more overall WAR. And, so, that's just wrong.

As for  early Black entrants? Larry Doby was ia different league, so to speak. He had as much MLB WAR in a career a bit more truncated by discrimination, and had more batting black ink. And, vs an 8 and a 6 on WAR seasons, it was a 7 and two 6's. Ten points higher on OPS+. And, refuting claims that Miñoso was feared as a batter, Doby had more IBBs in a shorter career. (Doby gets in anyway, of course, as a "pioneer.")

Finally, lest some someone point to Oliva and Miñoso and chatter? It's off to Gil Hodges.

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