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  • 02/22/2011, 03:32PM ET

Better SS: Pee Wee Reese or Ozzie Smith.

Golden Grillz (116-117-21) vs ElevenRingsSTL (20-5-1)
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Pee Wee Reese v Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith has the most Gold Gloves at SS than any other player, BUT the Gold Glove Award was not created until 1957. While Pee Wee was well in the twighlight of his career, retiring in 1958. Hard to fault the guy for not winning any when he was at the end of his career.

PW:
10x All Star

OS:
15x All Star

Another misleading stat for Ozzie v Pee Wee. Pee Wee missed 3 seasons in his prime to fight for his country in WWII. If he had played instead, it could easily be believed he would have had 13 All Stars (especially considering he made the all star before this hiatus, and continued to do it for a streak of 10 consecutive times).

Which brings us to career stats:

PR:
98 OPS+
.743 OPS

OS:
87 OPS+
.666 OPS

For those of you unfamilier with stats:
OPS+ is essentially the OPS but adjusted for the parks the player played in. So there can not be a debate on the fields either.

Consider also that Reese, once again, misssed 3 yrs of his prime. His stats would only look better.

Finally Rings, Reese 1, Ozzie 1. Reese also went to the series 6 times though!


You are correct to say that Pee Wee was a superior offensive player, but not by nearly the margin as you would have us believe.

Career BA: Reese .269 Ozzie .262
RBIs: Reese 885 Ozzie 793
OBP: Reese .366 Ozzie .337

You also leave out the following:

Stolen bases: Ozzie 580 Reese 232
Strikeouts: Ozzie 589 Reese 890 (in 1300+ more ABs for Ozzie)


So, you are correct to say that Reese was a slightly better offensive player, but that doesn't come close to off-setting the fact that Ozzie was the greatest defensive SS of his generation and likely of all time. While Reese was slightly better offensively, Ozzie was vastly superior defensively.

Ozzie not only won 13 consecutive GGs, but his defense ensured his place in the HOF. Few players have made it to Cooperstown based almost entirely on their defensive ability, which shows you exactly how dominating Ozzie was as a defensive shortstop.

Reese's slight offensive edge in no way overcomes how much better Ozzie was defensively. Given the importance of the position they played defensively, Ozzie was head and shoulders a better shortstop than Pee Wee.


The question is, was Ozzie's D soooooo much better than Pee Wee's to make up for his lack of offense? No

Pee Wee's offensive stats (while better than Ozzie's) are not very impressive. It could be safe to say, like Ozzie, Pee Wee's defensive skills are a strong reason why he was able to get into the HOF. Unfortunately the Gold Glove award didn't exist for a majority of Reese's career, so it is difficult to put this into perspective via awards.

Obviously Ozzie was a great D player. There's no disputing it, but unfortunately there's no statistical way to prove Ozzie's D was soo much better than Pee Wee's to make up for the offense deficit. All you have is your opinion, and youtube clips that Reese can't have.

At the same time consider this:
1942 Reese:
.255 BA
.350 OBP
.681 OPS

3 yr hiatus
Reese returns:
1946
.284 BA
.384 OBP
.762 OPS

1947
.284 BA
.414 OBP
.841 OPS

Career average:
.269 BA
.366 OBP
.743 OPS

Say Reese didn't enlist and stayed home to play ball. It's safe to say his numbers would be somewhere between his 1946 and 1942. Increasing his career averages. Making the offensive gap between him and Ozzie even greater.


"was Ozzie's D soooooo much better than Pee Wee's to make up for his lack of offense?"

Yes. Absolutely it was. Ozzie controlled games with his defense and was a difference maker in the field. He was a once in a generation player defensively.

You talk about Ozzie's "lack of offense" and "offense deficit" as though he was a complete liability. Ozzie was a horrible hitter in San Diego, a so-so hitter when he first got to STL and a pretty good clutch hitter by the time he hit his prime with the Cards. You're talking about a guy that finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 1987, despite hitting zero home runs. That speaks to the value of not only his MVP-caliber defense, but also his value at the plate and on the basepaths, as he drove in 75 runs and stole 43 bases.

Either way, Reese was not a significantly better offensive player than Ozzie. Again, a .269 hitter to .262 for Ozzie. The offense was close, the defense was not.

Your last paragraph is complete speculation. What if he had played from 43-45, and his numbers were closer to 1942? Then his career average might be lower and possibly worse than Ozzie's. One scenario is just as likely as the other.


Bottom line is, runs. Can't win the game unless you score more than the other team. Let's dig a little deeper into this offensive difference:

Ozzie played in 2573 games, 793 RBI, 1257 Runs. Adding the RBIs to Runs divide by games played:
Ozzie averaged a 0.797 run support/game

Pee Wee played in 2166 games, 885 RBI, 1338 runs. 1.02 runs/game

So for every 162 game season Pee Wee is going to contribute 166 runs, Ozzie 129. A difference of 37 runs.

Consider that the average baseball game is around 5 runs for a W (emphasis on average here) this means Pee Wee would help his team win 7 more games/season than Ozzie. With just his bat. Considering a great season is 90+ wins, and these 7 wins is about 7% of them... yes there is a significant difference there offensively.

While you claim Ozzie makes up the difference in D. All you have is speculation and opinion. Where's the proof that Ozzie is going to make up for those 7 wins/season that Reese helped his team get?

Sure everyone loves Ozzie, he deserves to be in the HOF, but consider that he played during the TV era and Pee Wee didn't. Highlights for Sports Center are non-existent, which doesn't help Reese's case.


Your runs argument has a significant flaw: Reese was primarily a leadoff or #2 hitter on very good Dodger teams. He set the table and had hitters like Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and Duke Snider behind him.

Ozzie spent most of his career hitting from the #8 spot. He normally hit there through 1986, then was usually the #2 hitter in the Cardinal lineup from 1987 forward. If you look at his runs per season through 1986, it was 64 runs per year. From '87 through '93, which was his last full time season, Ozzie averaged 81 runs per game.

The run differential was mostly about their spot in the batting order.


My comments on Ozzie's D are not speculation. Anyone that watched him play knows that his defense saved multiple games every season. He anchored what was one of the best defensive infields in history in St. Louis in the 1980s, and he made the Cardinal pitching staff look much better than it actually was in most seasons.

The two players were very close offensively, and Ozzie was vastly superior defensively. Reese's slightly better offensive numbers in no way make him a superior shortstop over the greatest defensive player the position ever saw.

February 22, 2011  03:34 PM ET

This is a direct challenge resulting from another TD. Will post my first argument later. Good Luck!

February 22, 2011  04:08 PM ET

Ok, I couldn't wait until tomorrow, but I look forward to your counter!

February 22, 2011  04:10 PM ET

Oh oh....

February 22, 2011  04:53 PM ET

Pee Wee was clearly the better offensive player, but this is why it's tricky to properly gauge Ozzie's career. He was the best defensive SS in history, and Reese doesn't come anywhere close to his defensive level. The only SS that competes with Ozzie defensively is Omar Vizquel. The problem is in the statistics used for defense. They're woefully ineffective in actually proving anything. It's not a matter of IF Ozzie is the best defensive SS, but by how much, and that's why it becomes tricky. The counter to Ozzie has a plethora of offensive statistics to show how they're player was an offensively superior player, but the pro Ozzie crowd unfortunately doesn't have the same ability. Stats are getting better with UZR etc, but it's still a tough thing to quantify.

February 22, 2011  04:55 PM ET

and a 98 OPS+ is nothing to brag about. It's means that Reese was slightly below average offensively. Sure that means that Ozzie was even further below, but if you're going to argue a SS over Ozzie, and use offense, you may want to make sure that they're at least better than average with the bat.

February 22, 2011  05:06 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

and a 98 OPS+ is nothing to brag about. It's means that Reese was slightly below average offensively. Sure that means that Ozzie was even further below, but if you're going to argue a SS over Ozzie, and use offense, you may want to make sure that they're at least better than average with the bat.

What started this was a TD I created on the best MLB lineup with the requirement being the guy wore #1. Hopefully this helps explain of all SS to compare to Ozzie, why I picked Reese.

While you say Reese is inferior at Defense, as you well pointed out, it is nearly impossible to put this into terms of stats. Especially considering the stats for the D has make up for the what was lacking on O.

As for Reese's offensive stats. I know it seems like a bit of a cop out, but when you look at his stat line, those 3 years he missed to fight for the US. Really does hurt him.

February 22, 2011  05:14 PM ET

Ten Rings will make this a very interesting TD...

February 22, 2011  05:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Ten Rings will make this a very interesting TD...

I should hope so since he asked for the direct challenge. Despite my record compared to his. I believe I came out pretty strong on this one. Plus I don't have any homer blinders on.

February 22, 2011  08:42 PM ET

I thought Derek Jeter was the best defensive and offensive SS in the history of mankind? Jeez, have I been lied to!!!!

February 22, 2011  09:15 PM ET

Reese would be much more highly regarded if he hadn't been caught with his wang out in that porno theater....


Wait....was that a different PeeWee?

Comment #11 has been removed
February 23, 2011  10:03 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Reese would be much more highly regarded if he hadn't been caught with his wang out in that porno theater....Wait....was that a different PeeWee?

All it took was 10 seconds too ruin the nickname "Pee Wee" for everyone. For shame!

February 23, 2011  10:16 AM ET

Best fielding SS in history???? Cal was way better than Oz. Oz was flashier but Cal was smart enough to put himself in position to where the batter would be hitting the ball. I'll take Pee Wee. Oz is a little overrated.

February 23, 2011  10:16 AM ET

Who has the best fielding % all time among SS? It's not either of those two.

February 23, 2011  10:34 AM ET

I think Omar Visquel may have the highest fielding percentage.

February 23, 2011  10:49 AM ET

Barry Larkin.........problem solved!

February 23, 2011  10:53 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Best fielding SS in history???? Cal was way better than Oz. Oz was flashier but Cal was smart enough to put himself in position to where the batter would be hitting the ball. I'll take Pee Wee. Oz is a little overrated.

You're talking about Cal Ripken jr, and you're calling Ozzie Smith overrated?

February 23, 2011  10:55 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Best fielding SS in history???? Cal was way better than Oz

Somewhere on a different site, rstowe felt a cold chill....

February 23, 2011  12:04 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Best fielding SS in history???? Cal was way better than Oz. Oz was flashier but Cal was smart enough to put himself in position to where the batter would be hitting the ball. I'll take Pee Wee. Oz is a little overrated.

Nomar Garciaparra... I barely managed to keep a straight face while I typed that.

Just a reminder, this is a debate on the best SS to wear the #1. Not best fielding all-time, hitting all-time, etc.

 
February 23, 2011  02:30 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

I should hope so since he asked for the direct challenge. Despite my record compared to his. I believe I came out pretty strong on this one. Plus I don't have any homer blinders on.

I don't have homer blinders on......Ozzie's record speaks for itself.

I am, however, getting ill at the thought of Miguel Batista in the Cardinal rotation in place of Adam Wainwright.

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