McNeill vs. Pablo
One of the great things about listening to podcasts around the league is that they can give you lots of stuff to write about. In this case, the AFBI guys talked a little about =https://statspl.us/brewster/reports/ne ... cas McNeill and the Hall of Fame. (Thanks, Ted!)
(technically, I guess they started with whether Mikki Manning might make it—which, of course, given that she’s raised the profile of the BBA across the world, she most definitely should)
Most seemed to think he’s in, regardless, though the Mexico City contingent threw in their plea for Juan Pablo as a comparable case since both played second for awhile before sliding over to first base. The two, of course, are not really comparable—or, rather said, any rational comparison of them shows that McNeill is the superior candidate by a fairly wide margin. Or, put another way, if Juan Pablo is a Hall of Famer, Lucas McNeill is a slam dunk.
Let’s do the check-in, m’kay?
STARTING AT THE TOP
Juan Pablo had a great career. He won four Puckett awards, four Zimmers, and went to the All-Star game three times. Amazing player.
McNeill (who, at 34, is still playing) has matched Pablo’s Pucketts, has three Zimmers to Pablo’s four, but has gone to the All-Star game eight times. Oh, and on top of that let’s take a gander at McNeill’s two Sawyer Silk awards.
I think it’s fair to say that two Sawyers and five more All-Star appearances weigh more than one Zimmer.
Game to McNeill.
A SCAN OF THE STATS
Again, Juan Pablo put up some very nice offensive numbers, numbers a guy could make a case for the HoF with. Here they are:
- Hits: 2,728 – HR: 265 – RBI: 1,087 – SB: 358 - .297/.353/.454 – OPS+: 124, wRC+: 123
- Hits: 2,430 – HR: 412 – RBI: 1,344 – SB: 553 - .296/.375/.529 – OPS+: 134, wRC+: 134
Lets move to the field—which is where a lot of folks try to make the comparison. Juan Pablo did play second for a while, then move to first, just like McNeill. That’s true. And they played a similar enough number of games at each position:
2B: Pablo – 1388, McNeill – 1281
1B: Pablo – 1248, McNeill – 1291
But Pablo’s career ZR at second base was a sub-par -26.0, whereas McNeill’s was above average at +23.5, a 50 run difference. Pablo’s efficiency was .989, McNeill’s was 1.015. At first base, both were exceptional (as their Zimmers note). Pablo was a hair better at a +110 ZR to McNeill’s current +78.4…but realize this is a counting stat, and McNeill is still putting up positive ZR. That gap will close. Their efficiencies are also close: Pablo 1.089, McNeil 1.082.
So the bottom line here is that McNeill was the far superior second baseman, and we’ll give the edge to Pablo at 1B, but by only a very slim margins.
Bottom line on the base stats: Game, McNeill
TIME TO GO TO WAR
After looking at the stats, it’s probably no surprise that this is another slam dunk for McNeill. Juan Pablo had a very, very nice career with 61.6 WAR. He was a really good player. McNeill, though, currently sits at 69.9 WAR. And again with the idea that he’s not done. McNeill will be with the Nine in 2042, and while no one is expecting 5 and 6 WAR a season from here out, there’s every reason to think he’ll still add positive WAR (his ratings vs. RHP are still solid enough). Barring a horrific backslide, McNeill will end his career at well over 70 WAR.
This is somewhat important in the overall HoF conversation, of course, because (using Randy’s Most Awesome Rankings) we can see that Pablo’s 60 WAR put him at the very bottom of the HoF field at 1B, whereas McNeill’s 70 (or more) will leave him smack dab in the middle of the group. Right now, McNeill would not fit near the top of Chris Wilson’s Pantheon, but he looks pretty comfortable in the group photos. Pablo’s argument is right at the edge—hence his situation. Give Pablo five or eight more WAR, and he’s probably in.
Regardless, the WAR Game goes to McNeill.
HOW ABOUT THE POST SEASON?
Some guys seem to just have it, right? They come through in the post season. Stand up to the heat. We like those guys. We laud them with terms like “hero!” and “clutch!”
Yes, it is true that the Nine have flailed around in the post season, so Lucas McNeill cannot claim the title Landis Champion (yet!), but then the organization of Juan Pablo can’t claim much better. Neither have that trophy on their mantle piece. And the fact is that the Nine’s relative success means that McNeill (406 AB) has considerably more post season time than Pablo (172).
In the post season, Juan Pablo hit .256/.321/.390, a far site off his career numbers. He added four homers in those 172 AB, and stole seven bases. Bottom line: Pablo’s numbers in 45 post season games were not inspiring. He stole seven bases in 11 attempts (63.6%)
McNeill’s 102 games have seen him hit 17 homers and 32 doubles while posting a .291/.369/.510 slash, which are pretty much right in line with his career regular season numbers. He stole 23 bases while getting tossed 8 times (a 74% success rate). His OPS+ in the post season is 129 vs. Pablo’s 101.
So, yeah. Post-season Game goes to McNeill.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Look, I’m not trying to say Juan Pablo doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. He was, again, a really great player and a face of a really important franchise. The league as a whole makes that call. I’m not even saying Lucas McNeill should get in—though I obviously think he should right now. I mean, there are more games to play, and while McNeill is making his case, his argument is not finished. I can wait until that time to make that particular argument (or not, as the case will be).
What I’m saying here, though, is no: I don’t think it’s reasonable to say “if Juan Pablo doesn’t get in, Lucas McNeill can’t.” The bottom line is that McNeill’s case for induction as it stands right now is considerably stronger than Juan Pablo’s.