A long drive, deep over the outfield wall … without a boost from performance-enhancing drugs.It’s an old-time ideal that Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers has played out over and over again. Earlier this week, he smashed two home runs, closing in on a relatively exclusive honor: membership in the 400 home run club. (Beltre needs one more dinger to become a card-carrying member.)In our view, and according to advanced stats, Beltre should be a Hall of Famer someday. But we worry that he won’t be because his conventional stats lack that Cooperstown shine.Why do we think Beltre should be enshrined alongside the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Bill Mazeroski (more on him in a minute)? Beltre is a rarity — a player who excels at both offense and defense. And in both cases, that excellence is best illustrated using sabermetric measurements.1His offensive bona fides are also clear from such traditional statistics as home runs, of course. Among third basemen, Beltre, with his nearly 400 long balls, ranks fifth all-time; three of the four ahead of him are either already in Cooperstown or are locks to make it someday (Chipper Jones).For instance, in terms of per-plate appearance rates, Beltre ranks in the 80th percentile of his peers2Qualified hitters (according to Fangraphs’ leaderboard) who played between 1998 and 2015. in isolated power, the 70th percentile in contact rate, the 50th percentile in speed and the 82nd percentile as an overall hitter. (His only real offensive weakness is a 27th-percentile walk rate.) And those are just the rate statistics; Beltre’s durability has also seen him notch the second-most at-bats of any active player and the 53rd-most of any player ever.That longevity is a big reason why Beltre ranks ninth all-time in offensive wins above replacement (oWAR) among third basemen. Only one non-Hall of Famer, the easily forgettable Toby Harrah, ranks higher, and Beltre should pass him (plus Home Run Baker) this season, assuming that Beltre’s 2015 oWAR resembles his yearly output over the past five seasons. In fact, based on projections from Baseball Prospectus, there’s a good chance that the only players ahead of Beltre in oWAR by the end of his career will be offensive juggernauts Wade Boggs, George Brett, Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt.And defensively, Beltre’s advanced numbers are among the best ever. Per defensive WAR (dWAR) and defensive runs saved above average (DRAA),3Defense is harder to measure than offense, and traditional measurements have a way of propping up horrible defenders (see Jeter, Derek). But advanced statistics such as dWAR and DRAA (which is based on video-tracking data for recent seasons and estimated “zone ratings” for years before that) seem to capture defensive skill well. All modern players in the top 10 for DRAA have won at least one Gold Glove, and all but two have won at least four. Beltre is the second-best defensive third baseman in baseball history. Only Brooks Robinson, whom Reds manager Sparky Anderson had nightmares about after Robinson’s unforgettable defensive performance in the 1970 World Series, ranks better. According to dWAR, only 19 other players (across all positions) in baseball history were more valuable defensively than Beltre has been.The defender most like Beltre at this point is Mazeroski, who made it to the Hall almost entirely on his defense. Beltre, by contrast, combines Mazeroski-like defense with vastly superior offensive stats and greater durability.Yet, we worry about Beltre’s fate because his traditional measurements lag behind his advanced ones. The case against Beltre starts by saying that his nearly 400 home runs may be somewhat devalued by the steroid era — more than half of the club’s 51 members hit the majority of their home runs in the 1990s or 2000s — even if Beltre has never been implicated for steroid use. And Beltre’s other impressive credentials (four Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and four All-Star Game nods) are good, but not great. Eric Chavez, for example, will only see Cooperstown as a visitor, but he won six Gold Gloves at third base. In addition, Beltre is unlikely to hit above .290 for his career or win a most valuable player award, and he has never won a World Series (only playing in a single Fall Classic).Simply put, Beltre’s conventional résumé falls short of Cooperstown’s traditional benchmarks. While there is no generally accepted baseball equivalent of Basketball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame probability metric, Bill James developed a few good ways to gauge a player’s traditional statistical portfolio: the Hall of Fame Standards and Monitor tests, as well as the Black Ink and Gray Ink tests. Together, those metrics measure how well a player met certain (admittedly arbitrary) benchmarks that, historically speaking, are strongly correlated with Hall of Fame induction.In the “Ink” tests — which measure how often a player led the league and finished among the top 10 in important statistical categories — Beltre sits well behind the typical Hall member. He does fare somewhat better in the other, benchmark-based calculations (though he still ranks below average in both the Standards and Monitor tests), and at just 36 years old, Beltre still has time to add to his totals. But overall, he may not even have a coin flip’s chance at the Hall of Fame, according to traditional gauges. A logistic regression between the James metrics and Hall of Fame enshrinement for the eligible players on Baseball-Reference.com’s leaderboards4With additional variables for a player’s era and whether a player was publicly linked to steroids. would assign Beltre a mere 18 percent chance of induction if he retired today.But our hope is that Hall of Fame voters are slowly moving past the older considerations. If they look instead at Beltre’s advanced numbers, they’ll see a Hall of Fame worthy outlier. Look at the Jaffe WAR Score system, or JAWS.5For those curious, the eponym behind the number is Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe. Built on the foundation of WAR, JAWS attempts to strike a balance between players who compiled value over a long period of time (think Paul Molitor, whose JAWS was 57.5) and those who burned brightly for a shorter span of seasons (think Jackie Robinson, whose JAWS was 56.8). And the difference between Beltre’s actual JAWS and what we’d predict from his conventional credentials6As measured by a regression using the James metrics. is stark.Beltre is one of only 10 non-Hall of Famers7Among either eligible players who were not elected or those ineligible for induction. in major league history to produce a JAWS rating above that of the average Hall of Famer, despite a predicted JAWS below the average Hall of Famer.8Predicted JAWS is designed so that its average equals the average JAWS.How can there be such a big difference? It’s partly because predicted JAWS doesn’t take into account defense (because it’s using conventional stats) and actual JAWS does. As we noted previously, defense is very hard to measure in a conventional sense. That’s especially the case at third base, where people can’t even agree on the best skill set for the position. It used to be impossible to say what exactly a player’s defensive range was, for instance. That’s why James’s metrics don’t make much of an attempt at incorporating defense, with the exception of taking into account a player’s position and where it sits on the defensive spectrum.But now we can understand how valuable Beltre is defensively. And we know that his mixture of offensive and defensive production for a third baseman is very rare.The question left is whether Hall of Fame voters will see things that way, conventions be damned.
Double-doubles by Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahlis fueled Ohio State past Minnesota as the Buckeyes torched the Gophers 81-58 Thursday night at the Schottenstein Center.A combined 43-point effort by the duo almost matched the Gophers point total on their own. The two also combined for 17 rebounds.Prahalis added 10 assists, including an array of impressive no-look or down-court passes that earned loud cheers from the crowd. The game was never close as OSU opened up the first half with a 10-point run, then added a 14-2 run four minutes later and never looked back.The victory answered many questions about OSU after it lost Monday night to Purdue, a team they were heavily favored against.The Buckeyes looked like the team of weeks past, shooting 10-21 from three-point range and grabbing 10 steals.The Prahalis-Lavender combo seems to be back in action and with those two hitting on all cylinders, the Buckeyes hope to avoid another surprising loss in conference play.
The silver stocks spent equal time trading either side of unchanged on Tuesday. But when all was said and done, Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up at tiny 0.14%. It’s better than the alternative, I suppose. The CME’s Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 57 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Thursday within the Comex-approved depositories. For the second day in a row it was Jefferies as the largest short/issuer, this time with 50 contracts. Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia and JPMorgan Chase in their client account picked up 35 and fourteen contracts respectively as the biggest long/stoppers. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here. There were no reported changes in GLD, and as of 9:28 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either. The U.S. Mint had a small sales report yesterday. They sold another 2,000 ounces of gold eagles, along with another 500 1-ounce 24K gold buffaloes. The activity in gold within the Comex-approved depositories on Monday is hardly worth mentioning. There were 2 kilo bars deposited at Brink’s, Inc. and that was all. Needless to say, it was a different story in silver. There were 857,048 troy ounces reported deposited, and 263,785 troy ounces were shipped out. The link to that action is here. I have a decent number of stories for you today, but hardly anything in the precious metal department. That [last] week’s COT gold and silver readings were encouraging has little to do with short term price action directly ahead. If there is more technical fund selling to be created by lower prices, then rest assured that JPMorgan will be looking to set off that selling by rigging prices lower. Only when the technical fund selling is exhausted will JPMorgan stop rigging prices lower. Unfortunately, there is no way of pinpointing that time without the benefit of hindsight, but we are so deep into this current rigging that it feels we are past, or close, to the point of a cessation to JPMorgan’s rig to the downside. I hope I’m not beating this process to death, but (aside from subscribers) so many observers don’t seem to get what drives gold and silver prices. – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 14 September 2013 I wouldn’t read a lot into Tuesday’s price action in any of the precious metals. Volumes were very light, and anyone with an agenda could move prices in either direction. And as Ted pointed out in his quote above, the down-side process has probably pretty much run its course. Everyone is in a wait-and-see mode for Bernanke & Co. later this afternoon in New York. Then I expect we’ll see some price action. The only thing I don’t know for sure is which direction it will take, or how fast it will move when it does. The high-frequency traders did the dirty in all four precious metals early in Far East trading this a.m., with the lows coming at 10 a.m. in Hong Kong on their Wednesday morning. Then, starting just before 2 p.m. local time, rallies began that have extended about an hour into the London trading session. Gold volume is already north of 50,000 contracts, and silver’s volume is approaching 14,000 contracts. The dollar index is doing precisely nothing. And as I hit the send button on today’s column at 5:10 a.m. EDT, I note that the tiny rallies I spoke of in the preceding paragraph have amounted to nothing, and all four precious metals are trading slightly below their Tuesday afternoon closes in New York. Volumes have really backed off. Gold volume is at 57,000 contracts, and silver’s volume is just under 15,000 contracts, and the dollar index is still trading sideways. Like you, I await the word from the Fed, and we’ll take it from there. See you here tomorrow. The gold stocks opened in positive territory, and except for a quick spike down at the gold’s New York low, which came at 10:15 a.m. EDT, the equities chopped higher for the remainder of the day. The HUI finished right on its high tick, up 1.80%. If you’re looking for a reason why the shares closed up yesterday, I don’t have one. The price action in platinum and palladium was somewhat more subdued. Platinum closed down a bit and palladium finished flat. Here are the charts. It was more or less the same trading pattern in silver as well once again. The only real difference was that the low price tick of the day [$21.55 spot] came about fifteen minutes after the Comex open in New York yesterday morning. It recovered a bit, but continued to slide into the close after that. Silver finished the day at $21.735 spot, down 8.5 cents from Monday. Net volume was only 35,000 contracts. Skyharbour Resources Ltd. 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Please visit our website for more information. The high-frequency traders did the dirty in all four precious metals early in Far East trading this a.m. Gold did little of anything in Far East trading on their Tuesday, but volume was decent nonetheless. The price rallied a bit at the London open, but it didn’t get too far. The high of the day appeared to come during the London lunch hour, and from there it got sold down until just past the London p.m. gold fix. From that point it chopped sideways into the 5:15 p.m. electronic close in New York. The low of the day [$1,305.30 spot] came at 12:15 p.m. EDT. Gold finished the Tuesday session at $1,310.00 spot, down $3.90 from Monday’s close. Net volume was around 142,000 contracts. Sponsor Advertisement The dollar index closed late on Monday EDT at 81.28. It’s high tick of 81.35 came just minutes before 11 a.m. in Hong Kong trading. By half-past lunchtime in London, the index was down to 81.15. And except for a brief down/up spike in morning trading in New York, the index traded pretty flat for the remainder of the day. The index closed at the 81.15 mark, which was down thirteen basis points from Monday’s close.