Mike Schmidt vs. Brooks Robinson

A Baltimore fan recently called WIP and was trying to make the case Brooks Robinson was a better player than Mike Schmidt. I don’t know if he was entirely serious, or just trying to be a good Oriole fan. One look at the stats show that he is clearly delusional. Mike Schmidt was the best all-around 3rd baseman to ever play the game. Period.

Yes, I am a Phillies fan. Yes, Schmidt is my all-time favorite Phillie, but all we have to do is look at the stats. I didn’t see Schmidt’s full career. When he retired, I was just twelve, but, again, we look to the stats.

Let’s start off with the “slash line” of batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage.

Robinson: .267/.322/.401

Schmidt: .267/.380/.527

Clearly, there is no contest here. Same average, but that’s it. Schmidt did strike out twice as much, but Schmidt got on base MUCH more than Robinson. Robinson’s career OBP is lower than Jimmy Rollins’. Jimmy Rollins. Think about that. Schmidt’s slugging percentage is, again, MUCH higher. Schmidt was a dominant power hitter, leading the league in home runs eight times. Moreover, Schmidt had much more speed and stole almost 150 more bases.

Brooks Robinson is usually touted as the best fielding third baseman ever. He does beat out Schmidt in fielding percentage at .971 to .955.  He also appears to have had more range, leading the league more in put-outs and having a better “range factor” than Schmidt. Range factor is the number of put-outs and assists divided by 9 innings or games. It’s a good way to measure the effectiveness of a defender.

So in conclusion, because Schmidt’s offensive production was significantly better than Robinson’s and Robinson’s defense was fairly better than Schmidt’s, Schmidt has to win the crown as best all-around third baseman.

This entry was posted by theyellowseats.

7 thoughts on “Mike Schmidt vs. Brooks Robinson

  1. I think you are the one that is delusional here my friend. If Brooks Robinson’s fielding avg. is higher than Schimdt’s, then that means he was BETTER than Schmidt as a FIELDING 3rd baseman. This is about FIELDING THE POSITION, not hitting. If that were the case, then Ted Williams would be know as the greatest left fielder ever over Hank Aaron!! And you show here that Schmidt and Robinson’s batting avg. is the same at .267, so, What are you saying?? Sure, Schmidt hit more home runs and drove in more, but Robinson was known as a great CLUTCH HITTER, something Schmidt was not( remember the 1983 World Series, 0 for 26). So, you need to stop drinking that cherry Phillies Kool-Aid and just be HONEST here. Brooks was a better fielder. He, unlike Schmidt who played on astro fake turf, played on natural grass, and collected more Gold Gloves, 16 to Schmidts 10. YOU are delusional Philly boy.

    • Hi Michael,
      First, thanks for your comment. This blog has really slowed down due to various commitments, so I am glad I had a reason to jump on. As for what you wrote, yes, I know that Robinson’s FA being higher means he was a better fielder. I didn’t say that Schmidt was better than Robinson in fielding. There are other metrics out there that give a better view of a fielder’s prowess with the glove, but that’s not important now. And gold gloves is a bad way to judge fielding ability as it becomes a popularity contest.
      Yes, Robinson was a better fielder, no problem there. However, where you go wrong is suggesting that we only consider fielding. As you well know baseball is both defense and offense. Schmidt was far and away a better hitter by any measure other than batting average. As you well know batting average does not give a full picture of how good a hitter is. On-base percentage and slugging give a better picture because getting on base and knocking runners in by extra-base hits win ball games. As I mentioned in my post Robinson’s on-base percentage was very low. Schmidt’s was 58 points higher and his slugging percentage was a whopping 126 points higher. This goes beyond home runs, but includes double and triples as well. Brooks Robinson’s OPS+ for his career was 104, a mere 4 points about league average while Schmidt’s was 147, 47 points above average. This OPS+ happens to be higher than any other 3rd baseman in the Hall of Fame. Traditionally, third base is a prime offensive position and Robinson was just an average hitter. Schmidt also has the highest WAR total of any 3rd baseman in the Hall by about 10 wins. His is also 28 more than Robinson even though Robinson played in about 500 more games than Schmidt. Robinson never stole more than 3 bases in his career while Schmidt stole double digits for several seasons. ESPN rated Schmidt the tenth best player of ALL-TIME. Brooks Robinson? Number 62. As for your point about being a better clutch hitter, Robinson did very well in the ALCSes he was in, but just played to his career averages in the four World Series in which he played. As for Schmidt, his numbers were poor in the post-season except for 1980 which you conveniently left out. (By the way, Schmidt did get a hit in the 1983 WS) In fact, he was the World Series MVP in 1980. Moreover, that’s only one definition of “clutch” hitting. There’s also performance with runners in scoring position during the regular season, statistics that I don’t have.
      So, as I stated in the blog entry and I’ll state again, while Robinson was a better fielder, Schmidt’s performance as a hitter was so far and away better than Robinson that he is considered by the vast majority of baseball enthusiasts, including those who cover that game for a living, to be the best third baseman of all-time. It’s not like Schmidt was a bad fielder, he was very good. But not as good as Robinson. However, they were not designated third basemen, and hitting was a part of the job, something at which Schmidt was far better.

      • Good God. Brooks Robinson was the greatest defensive player in the history of baseball – at *any* position. He was the Babe Ruth of defense. None other than Frank Robinson said: “He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan and watch him make play after play. I used to think, ‘WOW, I can’t believe this.’”

      • Hi Don, thanks for the response. I respect Frank Robinson’s experience and opinion, but I don’t know how you can quantify a statement like that to prove it. Also, Robinson was a teammate, so he could be biased, too. The stats support the fact that Schmidt was an all-around better player than Brooks Robinson. I know this is perceived as a slight on Robinson, but it shouldn’t. Robinson was an excellent player–an amazing fielder, but an average hitter.

  2. One of the things that’s so desperately wrong with this essay is that people – most people – look at a .016 differential in fielding percentage (.955 vs. .971) and mistakenly assume it’s the same as a .016 differential in batting average: *Not the case*. Robinson made 35% fewer Errors-per-Chance than Schmidt – imagine a 35% differential in batting average … it would be the difference between batting .300 and .400. I’m not going to say “Robinson was a better all-around player than Schmidt” (I have a great deal of respect for Mike Schmidt), but Robinson is the greatest defensive player ever to live. And if you have three hours to spare, here’s a persuasive essay to all-but prove it. http://www.donrockwell.com/topic/50696-brooks-robinson-the-greatest-defensive-player-in-baseball-history-at-any-position-1-of-7/

    • PS – To “theyellowseats” – this is by no means a slight on you – I just now saw your response above, and I respect your position, but *please* rethink the value of defense, and what a .016 differential means, and that’s just the beginning. Best regards, DR

      • Hi Don,
        Thanks for checking back in. I’m glad you brought a little more humility this time to your response, although I see I am still “desperately wrong”. I did go back and check the defensive WAR for Schmidt and Robinson and clearly Robinson was much better in that statistic. Robinson have very impressive dWAR totals in his career and Schmidt, not so much. I will at some point check out your essay, although it looks like it will take a long time to read, as you point out. I’m interested to see what you say and will look at it objectively. It should be noted that Robinson does not have the highest career dWAR of anyone who ever played that game. He comes close in third place, but not #1 so it will be interesting to see how you will argue for him being the best defensive player in history. It will be hard to dissuade me from my position–not that Schmidt was better defensively, but a better player overall–a position that the vast majority of baseball experts and fans would agree with, but I will check out what you wrote nonetheless.

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