Thursday, September 22, 2016

I like Tenace

From Bill James' latest article, "Tenace, Anyone?"

"Just for the heck of it...I made up a "Gene Tenace Trophy".   The formula for the Gene Tenace Trophy is 
(.270 minus batting average) times (OPS minus .670) times Plate Appearances.
So it favors a guy like Joc Pederson or Nick Swisher, who has a low batting average but draws walks and hits for power."

(Bill then lists the winners from 1950 through 2015. Harmon Killebrew and Adam Dunn actually have the most Gene Tenace trophies, with six apiece. Gene Tenace has four.)

I wrote in to "Hey Bill":

"I came up with an alternate formula for your Gene Tenace Trophy. Instead of using BA and OPS, it uses BA+ and OPS+, where BA+ = BA / lgBA *100. The formula is: 
(110 - BA+) * (OPS+ - 90) * PA 
Looking at 2016, you get the same results: the Chris's, Chris Davis and Chris Carter, are far out ahead, with Ryan Schimpf in 3rd. 
This version is harder to figure, because you can't use the play index on b-r.com; you have to go in to the advanced batting for every season. But I dunno...I thought it might be useful because it normalizes leagues and ballparks, and so you can use it on any era. 
Looking at 1930, for example...ok, Max Bishop wins, with a .252 BA. But in a close 2nd is Wally Berger, who hit .310 (in a .308 league-context)."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Tracy Jones Award

In honor of the former MAJOR LEAGUE outfielder and current 700 WLW radio talk show host, I am creating (on this blog) the Tracy Jones Award, given every year (retroactively) to the best 4th outfielder in all of baseball.

The award will be given to the player with the most Wins Above Replacement (as calculated on baseball-reference.com) who also meets the following criteria:

1) played at least 10 games at each outfield position, and

2) accumulated no more than 400 plate appearances.

Without farther ado, then, here are the winners, past and present:

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
2016Jarrod Dyson2.2KCR972994012128.264.331.362
2015Randal Grichuk3.2STL1033504917474.276.329.548
2014Scott Van Slyke2.7LAD982463211294.297.386.524
2013Rajai Davis1.8TOR1083604962445.260.312.375
2012Justin Ruggiano2.4MIA9132038133614.313.374.535
Justin Maxwell2.4HOU1243524618539.229.304.460
2011John Mayberry1.7PHI1042963715498.273.341.513
Chris Heisey1.7CIN1203084418506.254.309.487
2010Chris Denorfia2.0SDP99317419368.271.335.433
2009Chris Dickerson1.2CIN972993121511.275.370.373
2008Jerry Hairston2.0CIN802974763615.326.384.487
Gabe Kapler2.0MIL96245368383.301.340.498

A Red took home at least a share of the award in three of the four years from 2008 to 2011. Of course, those were also the only losing seasons of the Dusty Baker era...

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
2007Nate McLouth1.3PIT13738262133822.258.351.459
2006Endy Chavez1.8NYM1333904844212.306.348.431
2005Jason Michaels2.7PHI105343544313.304.399.415
2004Jeff DaVanon1.7ANA1083374173418.277.372.418
2003Aaron Rowand0.8CHW93170226240.287.327.452
2002Gary Matthews2.4TOT1113985473815.275.354.426
2001Stan Javier2.8SEA893234443311.292.375.391
2000Michael Tucker1.9CIN14832355153613.267.381.511
1999Jeffrey Hammonds2.2CIN1232934317413.279.347.523
1998Gerald Williams2.4ATL12928946104411.305.352.504
1997Jon Nunnally2.1TOT782664614397.309.394.578

Nunnally joined the Reds mid-season in '97 and did most of his damage as a Red, so that makes once again three years in a four-year stretch that the Reds had the best 4th outfielder in baseball. At least the '99 team was pretty good.

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
1996Jeromy Burnitz1.1TOT94239389404.265.377.470
1995Ryan Thompson1.0NYM75294397313.251.306.378
1994Rusty Greer1.5TEX803313610460.314.410.487
1993Dwight Smith1.9CHC1113435111358.300.355.494
1992Moises Alou2.5MON1153775395616.282.328.455
1991Milt Thompson3.7STL1153615563416.307.368.442
1990Stan Javier4.4TOT1233576032715.298.376.395
1989Mitch Webster1.2CHC983084031914.257.331.364
Mike Felder1.2MIL1173455032326.241.293.324
1988Marvell Wynne1.5SDP1283693711423.264.325.426
1987Tracy Jones1.4CIN11739053104431.290.333.437

Stan Javier wins the award in 1990, then wins it again eleven years later after several years in between as a mostly full-time player in the mid-90s.

Tracy was backing up injury-prone young phenoms Eric Davis and Kal Daniels and aging former star Dave Parker in 1987. Only three players qualified for the award that year, and the next best was the Reds' 5th outfielder, Paul O'Neill.

I don't have anything else to say about the '70s and '80s, so I'll just show the rest of the expansion era:

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
1986Rick Manning0.6MIL89227318275.254.310.434
1985Davey Lopes1.8CHC9932552114447.284.383.444
R.J. Reynolds1.8TOT1043724434218.282.327.395
1984Phil Bradley1.5SEA1243734902421.301.373.363
1983Lee Lacy2.2PIT1083134041331.302.352.406
1982Lee Lacy1.1PIT1213956653140.312.369.415
1981Gary Roenicke1.7BAL85252313201.269.340.384
1980Gary Roenicke1.2BAL1183494010282.239.340.384
1979Greg Gross1.4PHI111206210155.333.422.402
1978Jerry Martin2.0PHI128298409369.271.339.451
1977Terry Whitfield1.4SFG114352417362.285.329.433
1976Rick Miller2.2BOS1053134002711.283.359.361
1975Dave May2.0ATL822302812401.276.361.493
1974Claudell Washington1.2OAK73237160196.285.326.376
1973Tommie Agee1.1TOT1102883811223.222.281.398
1972Elliott Maddox2.5TEX983494001020.252.361.289
1971Gene Clines2.6PIT973005212415.308.366.392
1970Merv Rettenmund4.8BAL10638560185813.322.394.544
1969Ed Kirkpatrick3.1KCR1203664014493.257.348.451
1968Larry Stahl1.5NYM53205153103.235.314.344
1967Manny Mota1.4PIT120378534563.321.343.441
1966Manny Mota2.8PIT116359545467.332.383.472
1965Jackie Brandt1.3BAL96268358241.243.303.412
Manny Mota1.3PIT121326474292.279.330.384
1964George Thomas1.2DET1053333912444.286.329.464
1963Jack Reed0.2NYY1068218015.205.293.274
1962Don Landrum1.3TOT1153144011811.286.370.330
Ted Savage1.3PHI1273875473916.266.345.373
1961Don Taussig0.7STL98210272252.287.338.447

Manny Mota won the award (or a share of it) three straight years in the mid-60s, making him the only three-time winner.

The farther back you go, the harder it is to find qualifying 4th outfielders who were much (if at all) above replacement level. The reason for this, I'm guessing, is that teams carried fewer pitchers, and therefore had more roster space for bench players. They didn't have to squeeze seven defensive backups and speedy baserunners and pinch-hitters with pop into just three or four roster spots like they do today.

Jack Reed wins the 1963 award with...0.2 WAR. The farther back you go, more and more players start "winning" the award with zero and negative value above replacement, usually because they're the only player who qualifies for that year, given my criteria. Teams just didn't rely on bench players to play multiple outfield positions back then, and if they did, they were one of the team's best players and played 600 PA. Stan Musial was the Cardinals' "4th outfielder" for many years, because he was a good fielder at all three positions and could run pretty well. He was also the best hitter in the National League, so he played every day.

So to save you further time and boredom, I'll just show winners with at least 1 WAR from 1960 to the beginning of MLB:

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
1960Tommy Davis2.3LAD1103744311446.276.302.426
1957Jim Landis1.1CHW963243821614.212.329.296
1953Wally Westlake2.5CLE82259429462.330.427.495
1950Bill Howerton1.9STL1103645010590.281.375.492
1948Mike McCormick1.3BSN115384451391.303.363.417
1947Erv Dusak1.7STL111383566281.284.378.378
1945Guy Curtright1.9CHW98367514323.281.358.407
1941Estel Crabtree1.6STL77198275281.341.439.503
1940Larry Rosenthal2.7CHW107346466422.301.432.453
1935Gee Walker1.1DET98385527566.301.329.453
1933Kiki Cuyler1.8CHC70294375354.317.376.447
1932Sam Rice1.6WSH106324581347.323.391.438
1931Ethan Allen1.5NYG94321585436.329.363.453
1930Dave Harris2.0TOT106340569576.296.373.522
1928Cy Williams1.0PHI993033112370.256.400.445
1927Kiki Cuyler1.8PIT853306033120.309.394.435
1926Cuckoo Christensen2.6CIN114385410418.350.426.438
1925Ben Paschal2.4NYY8927649125514.360.417.611
1920Fred Nicholson2.7PIT99271334309.360.404.530
1918Shano Collins1.8CHW103399301567.274.310.392
1915Cozy Dolan1.4STL1113805323817.280.356.398
1913Jimmy Walsh1.4PHA973565602715.254.341.340
1910Vin Campbell1.7PIT973244242117.326.391.436
1909Jack Lelivelt2.1WSH91345250248.292.334.355
1906Ty Cobb2.5DET983944513423.316.355.394
1905Ed Hahn1.4NYY43194320111.319.426.350
1904Danny Hoffman1.3PHA53218313249.299.329.426
1899Mike Smith1.1CIN883986512410.294.381.376

19-year-old Ty Cobb is the first 2+ WAR 4th outfielder in MLB history. The next year he was the Tigers' starting right fielder and emerged as the best outfielder in the American League.

Oftentimes, the best 4th outfielders will either be young future stars trying to break through (like Cobb in 1906 and Tommy Davis in 1960 and Moises Alou in 1992) or aging has-beens trying to hang on for one more season (Sam Rice in 1932 and Davey Lopes in 1985 and Ichiro this year).

Finally, the eleven best 4th outfielder seasons in history:

YearPlayerWARTmGPARHRRBISBBAOBPSLG
1970Merv Rettenmund4.8BAL10638560185813.322.394.544
1990Stan Javier4.4TOT1233576032715.298.376.395
1991Milt Thompson3.7STL1153615563416.307.368.442
2015Randal Grichuk3.2STL1033504917474.276.329.548
1969Ed Kirkpatrick3.1KCR1203664014493.257.348.451
2001Stan Javier2.8SEA893234443311.292.375.391
1966Manny Mota2.8PIT116359545467.332.383.472
2014Scott Van Slyke2.7LAD982463211294.297.386.524
2005Jason Michaels2.7PHI105343544313.304.399.415
1940Larry Rosenthal2.7CHW107346466422.301.432.453
1920Fred Nicholson2.7PIT99271334309.360.404.530

On second thought, let's not name the award after Tracy Jones. It should be called the Merv Rettenmund Award, or the Manny Mota Award, or the Stan Javier Award.

Sorry, Tracy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Victims' Ward

As Mark Sheldon reported, the Reds gave up three homeruns to the Cubs in a 5-2 loss Monday night, bringing their total to 242 homeruns allowed on the season and breaking the record held by the '96 Tigers. (The '96 Tigers faced the likes of Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., and Albert Belle, but, being the year before interleague play started, not a single pitcher.) The Reds have allowed more homeruns this season than the Baltimore Orioles have hit - 242 to 237. And there's still 12 games to go.

"The bane of our season," as manager Bryan Price said, has also been bases on balls. All told, Reds pitching has allowed an on-base percentage of .345, a slugging average of .457, and an OPS of .802. The MLB averages this year are .322/.418/.740.

If the Reds' pitching staff was a hitter, who would it be? What I mean is, what batter hits the most like the average Reds opponent?

The way I'm going to answer this is to look at binary components, but just the first three - the three true outcomes - since those are the ones the pitcher has total control over.

Here are the rates for Reds opponents this year, and the MLB average:

Split    $BB $SO $HR
Reds Opp 11% 22%  6%
2016 MLB  9% 23%  4%

Translation: the Reds walk (or hit) about 1 in 9 batters they face. Of the batters they don't walk (or hit), they strike out about 2 in 9. And when a batter connects, he hits a homerun 6% of the time.

So compared to the league average, Reds pitchers walk more batters, strike out (slightly) less batters, and, obviously, give up a lot more long balls.

So what batter has produced the closest to these same rates?

To answer that, I made similarity scores, like the ones Bill James created, but based on the three binary components. I'll explain how I did it at the end, since it's boring.

The top five most similar batters:

NamePA$BB$SO$HRSim
Reds opponents589611%22%6%
Seth Smith40712%23%6%962
Andrew McCutchen62311%24%5%948
Brian McCann46012%23%6%948
Addison Russell56211%25%6%938
Max Kepler40810%23%6%938

If Reds' pitching was a hitter, it would be a lot like Seth Smith. Said another way, Reds pitchers turn the average hitter into Seth Smith.

Smith, a left-handed hitter, has been platooned this year, so he barely made the 400-PA cutoff I used, and he wouldn't qualify for rate stats. But he's hit .262 with 16 HR, 60 RBI, and a .349 OBP.

Former MVP Andrew McCutchen, the second-most similar batter, is having a down year for him, hitting just .252 with 23 HR. But he's actually been a little worse than the average Reds opponent, with more strikeouts and fewer homeruns.

Now, the explainin':

I made a list of every batter with 400 PA this year, which is 189 players. I figured their $BB, $SO, and $HR rates, and the standard deviation for each rate.

I wanted to give each component the same weight, so for each one I took 1000, divided it by three, and divided that by four times the standard deviation. Or:

weight = 1000 / 3 / (s * 4)

Then I converted each component into a "penalty" by finding the distance (the absolute value) of the batter's rate from the Reds' pitchers' rate and multiplying it by the component's weight, and subtracted each penalty from 1000. Written out in equation form, it looks something like this:

Sim Score = 1000 - penaltyBB - penaltySO - penaltyHR

penaltyBB = absValue(redsBB - batterBB) * weightBB

where redsBB and batterBB are the $BB rates for Reds pitchers and for each batter respectively, and weightBB is from the first formula above.

I'm probably making this sound complicated, but it was simple to work out in Excel following Bill's methodology, especially since I reduced it to just three "penalties". It honestly took a lot longer for me to explain my method than to do the research in the first place, and even then I probably didn't explain it as clearly as Bill James does. He doesn't get enough credit for that.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jose Peraza and the 1867 Reds

On Wednesday, September 14th, 2016, the Cincinnati Reds lost, 7-0, to the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ballpark. Shortstop Jose Peraza went 2-for-4 with a triple.

Peraza was born in Barinas, Venezuela on April 30th, 1994. On that same day, the Reds lost to the Florida Marlins, 4-3, at Joe Robbie Stadium. Shortstop Barry Larkin, who had turned 30 two days earlier, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a stolen base.

On the day Larkin was born - April 28th, 1964 - in Cincinnati, the Reds were playing at Crosley Field against the Philadelphia Phillies, and lost, 4-2. Right fielder Frank Robinson went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a steal.

Robinson was born in Beaumont, Texas on August 31st, 1935. On that very day, the Reds lost to the Cardinals, 5-2, under the lights at Crosley. Center fielder Kiki Cuyler, who had turned 37 the day before, went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Box scores haven't been preserved from the 1898 season, but on August 30th, the day Cuyler was born in Harrisville, Michigan, the Reds played the Phillies at League Park in Cincinnati and lost, 9-1. The Reds' first baseman that year was Jake Beckley. Five years earlier, Philadelphia manager Harry Wright had been released by the Phillies after leading them to a 4th-place finish (out of 12 teams), thus ending Wright's long, illustrious career in baseball.

When Jake Beckley was born on August 4th, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri, Wright was the 32-year-old pitcher and manager of the Cincinnati Base Ball Club, which had come into existence the previous summer. Four days earlier, Wright's club had defeated their cross-town rivals, Live Oak of Cincinnati, 51-21.

A former bowler with the New York Cricket Club and center fielder with the Knickerbockers and Excelsiors, Wright had come to Cincinnati the year before to play for its Union Cricket Club, but once there, he saw the brand new Base Ball Club and promptly reverted to his other pastime. Under Wright's leadership, the club would go 17-1 in 1867 and 37-7 the following season. Having established his Red Stockings (the club's nickname, after the uniforms of white knickers and scarlet hose its players now wore) as the dominant team in the West, Wright began recruiting the best players in the country. In order to compete with the best eastern clubs, he would assemble the first openly professional team.

Harry Wright was born on January 10th, 1835, in Sheffield, England. "Base ball" was then a generic name for any number of bat-and-ball games. Rounders, the closest forerunner of baseball, was just gaining popularity in England and America....

* * * * * * *

Six Cincinnati Reds, all in the Baseball Hall of Fame (except for Peraza), all born in spring or summer (except for Wright), all born on days the Reds lost (except for Wright and Beckley). Hey, sometimes it's just fun to go down the rabbit hole on baseball-reference and find the inter-connected-ness of things. It doesn't always have to mean much. :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Great Old Reds

For the sake of completeness, I thought I'd generate a list of the most valuable old Reds (age 30 and over):

Rk Player WAR/pos
1 Pete Rose 42.8
2 Joe Morgan 39.3
3 Barry Larkin 35.5
4 Tony Perez 19.2
5 Dave Concepcion 18.5
6 Cy Seymour 18.0
7 Brandon Phillips 16.3
8 Frank McCormick 16.1
9 Johnny Bench 15.6
10 Lonny Frey 15.6
11 Bubbles Hargrave 14.7
12 Ernie Lombardi 14.1
13 George Foster 12.8
14 Ken Griffey 12.7
15 Edd Roush 12.7
16 Joey Votto 12.5
17 Jake Daubert 11.6
18 Jake Beckley 10.7
19 Ray Mueller 10.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2016.

We have the same thing as with the list of young Reds, where three players achieved greatness as older ballplayers, with a sizable dropoff from 3rd to 4th place. Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Barry Larkin all won MVPs as 30-somethings, and Morgan won two.

Bench, Larkin, and Rose are the only players to make the top ten of both lists - the greatest young players and the greatest old players.

Phillips and Votto are still active and climbing the oldies' list. Phillips could pass Cy Seymour and Dave Concepcion and enter the top five, if he claims his no-trade clause again this offseason.

Votto, who turned 33 on Saturday, could pass a pair of Hall-of-Fame centerfielders - Edd Roush and Ken Griffey Jr. - as well as George Foster before season's end, and he should crack the top 10 some time next year.

Great Young Reds and Dunn vs. Hamilton

Here are the leaders in career WAR (position players) through age 25 for Cincinnati Reds, from 1901 to the present:

Rk Player WAR/pos
1 Frank Robinson 37.4
2 Johnny Bench 35.4
3 Vada Pinson 34.8
4 Eric Davis 15.8
5 Adam Dunn 13.6
6 Barry Larkin 13.5
7 Pete Rose 13.3
8 Kal Daniels 12.4
9 Edd Roush 11.4
10 Heinie Groh 11.4
11 Dick Hoblitzell 11.3
12 Bobby Tolan 10.7
13 Jay Bruce 10.5
14 Sam Crawford 9.7
15 Hughie Critz 8.7
16 Leo Cardenas 8.4
17 Austin Kearns 8.3
18 Joey Votto 8.2
19 Sean Casey 8.2
20 Harry Steinfeldt 8.0
21 Grady Hatton 7.9
22 Dan Driessen 7.6
23 Tommy Harper 7.6
24 Roy McMillan 7.5
25 Gus Bell 7.1
26 Tony Cuccinello 7.0
27 Billy Hamilton 6.8
28 Tommy Clarke 6.5
29 Sam Bohne 5.4
30 Lee May 5.0
31 Ted Kluszewski 5.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2016.

I cut the list off at 5 WAR. The Reds have essentially had three GREAT young players in their history. Two of them peaked on the 1961 World Championship team, and the other was a major cornerstone of the Big Red Machine of the '70s. Frank Robinson hit 38 homeruns as a 20-year-old rookie and won the NL MVP five years later, Johnny Bench won two MVPs before he turned 25, and Vada Pinson was an All-Star at age 20 and again at 21. Eric Davis should be included in this elite group, but he was kept out of the starting line-up until he was 24 and then couldn't stay healthy once he did become a regular. (As is, he was less than half as valuable as Pinson through their age 25 seasons.)

Here is the same list, but only including young Reds from the current millennium (2001 on):

Rk Player WAR/pos
1 Adam Dunn 13.6
2 Jay Bruce 10.5
3 Austin Kearns 8.3
4 Joey Votto 8.2
5 Billy Hamilton 6.8
6 Edwin Encarnacion 3.8
7 Felipe Lopez 3.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2016.

I removed all players with less than 1,000 PA from both tables. So basically, seven Reds have had significant playing time as young (25 and under) players in the 21st century, the most valuable being Dunn and the least valuable being Felipe Lopez and the current slugging DH for the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, Dunn and Bruce had more significant playing time than the others on this list - they were starters at age 21 while Hamilton didn't get into the starting line-up until he was 23. Votto was a 24-year-old rookie and Lopez had his one full season as a Reds starter (and All-Star) at age 25.

Here are the same seven players, ranked by batting runs:

Rk Player Rbat
1 Adam Dunn 108.1
2 Joey Votto 61.8
3 Jay Bruce 36.8
4 Austin Kearns 27.1
5 Edwin Encarnacion 18.9
6 Felipe Lopez -1.9
7 Billy Hamilton -51.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2016.


And baserunning runs:

Rk Player Rbaser
1 Billy Hamilton 25.6
2 Austin Kearns 3.5
3 Adam Dunn 0.8
4 Felipe Lopez 0.5
5 Edwin Encarnacion -1.0
6 Joey Votto -2.9
7 Jay Bruce -6.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2016.


And fielding runs:

Rk Player Rfield
1 Billy Hamilton 36.0
2 Austin Kearns 22.0
3 Jay Bruce 17.0
4 Joey Votto 2.0
5 Felipe Lopez -12.0
6 Adam Dunn -23.5
7 Edwin Encarnacion -37.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2016.

Unlike the plodding, near-300-pound monster he eventually became, young Adam Dunn was actually an above-average baserunner, and while he was always a bad fielder, his athleticism overcame some of his lack of instincts in the outfield.

Anyways, if you think about it, the Reds have come up with an outfielder with a very lopsided skill set in two straight decades now. Both players were outstanding at a couple things and awful at nearly everything else. Adam Dunn had exceptional patience and power (and was a decent baserunner), and was bad at everything else. Billy Hamilton has exceptional baserunning and defense (and makes decent contact), and is bad at everything else.

Both players when they were young were plagued with questions of whether they could ever polish up their weaknesses and become well-rounded enough to be good major league players, all-the-while being so good at the few things they did well that they were above-average starters in spite of their flaws. In Adam Dunn's case, the questions continued following him as he aged until his skills deteriorated to the point where you could no longer justify his spot in the starting line-up.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Here are their career stats through age 25:

PlayerYearsGABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+
Dunn2001-20056612271420564127615837441462733.248.383.518.901133
Hamilton2013-2016398140520634854141394184100289.248.297.334.63173

And their binary component rates:

PlayerYears$BB$SO$HR$H$XBH$3B$SA$SB
Dunn2001-200518%32%10%29%33%5%7%72%
Hamilton2013-20167%20%1%29%20%21%61%82%

Both have identical .248 batting averages, and average $H rates (BAbip) of 29%, but the similarities end there. Hamilton has been almost as bad of a hitter (OPS+ of 73) as Dunn was good (OPS+ 133).

But, taking everything else into account...who was better overall?

PlayerPARbatRbaserRdpRfieldRposRAAWAARrepRARWAR
Dunn278310812-23-31565.18714213.6
Hamilton1547-51264358221.850726.8

But Dunn had way more playing time than Hamilton, so to level the playing field, let's look at each player's WAR components again, but scaled back to one season's worth of PA:

PlayerPARbatRbaserRdpRfieldRposRAAWAARrepRARWAR
Dunn6002300-5-7121.119312.9
Hamilton600-2010214380.719282.6

It's worth pointing out that both players are/were above-average major leaguers, even with their obvious shortcomings (Dunn's defense, Billy's bat). The "WAA" column means that, taking everything into account, Dunn created better than one win more for the Reds per season than the average major league outfielder would have. Also, both are well above the 2-WAR-per-year threshold considered a minimum performance level for a starting position player.

But, to answer the question: they're close but young Adam Dunn was a little better.

Also, Dunn was more durable - he came to the plate at least 670 times in four of his first five full seasons. Hamilton, meanwhile, will probably fall short of 500 PA for the second time in three years as a starter.

However, while Dunn was a good young ballplayer, he had what's referred to as "old player's skills" - patience and power. Players with his skill set tend not to age as well because they already lack what most players lose over the course of their careers - hitting for average and speed and defense - and Dunn proved no exception to this rule. After accumulating 13.6 WAR in 2,783 PA (2.9 WAR per 600 PA) through age 25, Dunn produced just another 3.3 WAR over the remaining 5,545 PA of his career - 0.4 WAR per 600 PA. He was below replacement-level in his final four years, when he was the DH of the Chicago White Sox.

So if Billy Hamilton can find a way to stay healthy, not lose too much of his outstanding speed and defense, and continue to make improvements as a hitter, he could still end up being a more valuable major league player than Adam Dunn was.