Player development and long term dealsNovember 22nd, 2012 by terrybenish
I am going to frame this discussion about a player from the 1960s, actually his career spanned the late fifties into the mid 70s. For ten years he was a wonderful, wonderful player with modern sabermetric tools that would capture his defensive value along with his speed and running would be more recognized now than he was then. Vada Pinson by name. He arrived in Cincinnati as an 18 year old and for ten years was a very good, close to great player in all aspects. If you dig in a bit you can see that had he sustained his first couple of years calling him great would be easy, but very good is awfully rare too.
Seattle was actually a farm team of the Reds and I saw him play for the Rainiers and his physicality, foot speed, power, high average made him stand out like a rose amongst thorns. He could have been playing in Cincinnati at the age of 18 or even 17 for that matter.
At the age of 20 he posts a .371 on bag, a .509 slug, an OPS of .880, plays a marvelous center field, steals 21 bags as a lead off hitter. 47 doubles, 9 triples, and 20 home runs.
Baseball reference has a great feature called “similars”. At the age of 20 his similar is Mike Trout.
After ten years has had a career while not great reduces to .342 onbag, .477 slug, .818 OPS, 31 doubles, 9 triples and 18 home runs a year. 100 runs scored, 80 rbis a year. By all standards a marvelous player, a centerfielder.
For all intents and purposes he was done as a high end player at that point and although he played eight more years for five teams, his productivity for those eight years was markedy lower: .300 onbag, .389 slug, 20 doubles, 4 triples and 9 homers. 60 runs scored and 50 rbis.
He was not big, 5’11 170 pounds, picture Trayvon Robinson thirty pounds smaller and was never on the disabled list. The Reds played him virtually every day for ten years and without going a lot deeper it is suggestive to look at his batting average on balls in play, which was very high through that first ten years and then fell off significantly there after. That suggests that he wore out and lost bat speed at an age when some guys are peaking.
When you think of signing free agents who are 28 or older in this post steroid era it is a cautionary tale.
He was a fantastic player during that run, though. he probably could have played in the major leagues at the age of 16 or 17 though.
Take thirty minutes and read his baseball reference page by following the link below: