One nice thing about Wins Above Average (which I first posted about here last week) is that it makes it easier to identify "compilers". When your Hall of Fame case is being discussed, you do not want to be called a compiler.
Compilers, of course, build their impressive career totals by chugging away season after season, but not providing any "special" level of value. WAR rewards these compilers by counting the value they provide between replacement level and league average level. Wins Above Average (WAA) disregards this contribution. With WAA, you're only given credit for production above league average. All players will see a difference between their WAR and their WAA. Compilers will have a larger than normal difference.
Let's look at some extreme compilers. Specifically, let's look at players with the highest career WAR while having negative WAA:
Were these valuable major leaguers? Sure. They just weren't above average major leaguers. There's no shame in that.
Buit wait—how was Don Baylor below average? He hit 338 homers and had an OPS+ of 118. He even stole 285 bases. I'm glad you asked (I love to explain such things).
Baylor was indeed worth +215 runs above average at the plate and +13 on the bases. But he played low value positions and suffers from a positional adjustment of –177 runs. When he played the field, he was kinda lousy (–57 runs). Add all his components together and you come out slightly negative (–23). He still provided nearly 30 wins over a replacement player, though.
How about compilers in the Hall of Fame? NO, NEVER! (RIGHT???)
We see many of the names we'd expect to see—Mazeroski, Waner, Schalk. Let's look at it a different way—WAA% (percentage of WAR represented by WAA). A lower percentage means you're a compiler.
Maz and Waner top the list again. Here, you see a guy like Tommy McCarthy rise up the list. A higher percentage of his WAR is made up of WAA. Of course, you could look at this another way—his WAR is so damn low that his WAA can't help but be a large percentage of it. We also start to see some guys like Dave Winfield and Orlando Cepeda—players with a considerably higher WAA total than the Mazeroskis of the world, but still with a low percentage when compared to their WAR total.
Let's go the other way and look at the highest WAA% from Hall of Famers.
Babe Ruth at the top of the list—bet you didn't see that coming. But did you expect to see Joe Gordon and Frank Chance ranked so highly? Didn't think so. I tend to think Frank Chance gets a bum rap. He's the best of the double play trio that is often criticized for being weak Hall selections. But he was a high peak guy—really not as bad a selection as people make him out to be. Plus, it looks like he was a hell of a manager.
And what about eligible non-Hall of Famers? There are several 19th century players at the top of the list, so perhaps it makes sense to put 19th century players in their own list:
I haven't done any adjustment to short-season 19th century players for WAA like I did for WAR. I really haven't given it much thought at all yet.
Here are the players from the 20th century:
Want to see an impressive list? How about 60-WAR non-Hall of Famers who had a WAA% of 60% or better? High-WAR, non-compiler types:
It's a tough list to crack with Edgar Martinez, Bill Dahlen, and Alan Trammell narrowly missing the cut. Reggie Smith, the best player ever who gets no Hall of Fame support, looks pretty impressive here.
While Rose tops the list by having the lowest WAA%, he still owns a pretty impressive WAA total of 28.2. Player I didn't expect to see here: Tim Raines. WAR just isn't as in love with the guy as the stat geeks are. He still looks like a Hall of Famer, but far from Priority #1 (which remains Bagwell).
Any other lists you'd like to see?