Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Apr 2006

Heisman Trophy vs. Golden Spikes

Guest column by Jim Baker

In a few days, the last two Heisman Trophy winners will be feted and spotlighted all over again when they are selected in the annual NFL Draft. Meanwhile, their opposite numbers in baseball will be toiling in front of relatively small crowds in places like Wichita and Salt Lake City. Not everyone is aware that baseball has an equivalent award for its collegiate stars. Obviously, it's one that suffers from being in the long shadow of the much older football award. The Heisman began life in 1935 while the Golden Spikes didn't come along until 1978.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the winners of each award by year and see how they fared as professionals. While these awards were never meant to be predictors of professional performance, that doesn't mean we can't use them as such, what with free speech and all. Here, in chronological order, is my assessment of which of the winners won the post-award battle.

1978: Bob Horner (Arizona State University) vs. Billy Sims (University of Oklahoma)

A high-caliber running back who is done by the time he is 30 is pretty common. There are quite a few on this list. A top-rated third baseman, though? Not so. Horner was overrated in his time but could have, with better self-discipline, had a better career than he did. The nation got to see Sims at Thanksgiving every year as he ran his way from Detroit toward Canton, until a knee injury got in the way of that. Advantage: football

1979: Tim Wallach (California State University, Fullerton) vs. Charles White (University of Southern California)

White had one big year (1987) and a few seasons in which he caught a pretty good number of passes coming out of the backfield. Wallach made the All-Star team five times and was respected with the bat and in the field. Advantage: baseball

1980: Terry Francona (University of Arizona) vs. George Rogers (University of South Carolina)

Rogers made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons in the NFL and closed out his fairly brief career as a running back with the Super Bowl champion 1987 Redskins. He rushed for 1,000 yards four times and scored 54 touchdowns. Some personal problems and a toe injury kept him from being all he could be. Francona was never more than a platoon player in his 10 seasons in the majors, although he, a lefthander, once played third base. Two years ago, his post-playing career finally earned him a ring to match the one Rogers has.Advantage: football

1981: Mike Fuentes (Florida State University) vs. Marcus Allen (University of Southern California)

Fuentes was taken in the second round of the Rule 4 draft by the Montreal Expos, giving them their third consecutive Golden Spikes winner. How did this pan out for them? Very well -- provided you are the sort that takes an extremely bright view of everything. In four games in late 1983, all three of their Golden Spikers – Wallach, Francona and Fuentes -- appeared in the same game. The results? A 3-1 record, although it should be pointed out that Fuentes had just one at bat in those three contests. He got into three more games in 1984 and that was it for his big league career. Allen is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and even his brother Damon far outranks Fuentes in the annals of Canadian athletics. Advantage: football

1982: Augie Schmidt (University of New Orleans) vs. Herschel Walker (University of Georgia)

Schmidt was the first Golden Spikes winner not to make it to the majors. A shortstop, he was the second player selected in the draft behind Shawon Dunston, but his career stalled in the minors and he went into college coaching by 1987. He has done extremely well at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, compiling a .700 winning percentage there. Walker was very close to being a household name and was one of the players that gave the USFL credibility. When he moved to the NFL, he never quite became the deity he was supposed to be, but still, in part because of a demanding training regimen, played until he was 35 years old. He has surfaced lately on Pros vs. Joes getting tackled by men he would have broken in two in his prime. Advantage: football

1983: Dave Magadan (University of Alabama) vs. Mike Rozier (University of Nebraska)

When Magadan came up with the Mets in 1986, he had the look of the next Wade Boggs. He never developed the power necessary to hold down a full-time job on somebody's corner, but he had a long run and finished with a career .290 EqA – nothing to sneeze at. Much more was expected from Rozier, and his career just never quite got to the lofty heights that were predicted for him. Advantage: baseball

(Ed. note: EqA explained here. It's so nice to be able to say that for somebody else's stats.)

1984: Oddibe McDowell (Arizona State University) vs. Doug Flutie (Boston College)

Save for a brief comeback in 1994, McDowell has been essentially done since the administration of George the Elder. Flutie, on the other hand, actually got into a game this past season – not that that alone should be the criterion. Flutie has spent most of his post-collegiate life as the outsider, but he did have the big years with Buffalo in 1998 and 1999. Advantage: football

1985: Will Clark (Mississippi State University) University vs. Bo Jackson (Auburn University)

Jackson's yards/carry numbers would make Jim Brown blush: 6.8, 4.3, 5.5 and 5.6. Staggering stuff. His split career costs him in a comparison with Clark, however. The years spent learning baseball undo him in this face-off, injury or no. Also, the fact that he made the American League All-Star team might throw extra weight baseball's way. Advantage: baseball

1986: Mike Loynd (Florida State University) vs. Vinny Testaverde (University of Miami)

Loynd's was an extremely short trip to the majors. He was taken in the seventh round by the Rangers and, after less than 30 innings at Tulsa (where he put up a 31:3 K:BB ratio), he was starting against Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and the Indians (possibly the fastest-ever rise for a seventh rounder). By the end of the following season, his big league career was over. Testaverde has played for very few winning teams in his long career, but he has, at least, played – and played and played and then played some more, even in 2005. Advantage: football

1987: Jim Abbott (University of Michigan) vs. Tim Brown (University of Notre Dame)

When it comes to injuries, it's usually the football players that lose out in these comparisons. Pitchers are like running backs in that regard, though: their careers are often truncated by the wearing down that comes with their line of work. Abbott had some great moments but also had the relatively unique experience of going 2-18 as his pitching health faltered. Brown, on the other hand, is one of the most prolific receivers in history. He currently ranks behind only Jerry Rice and Cris Carter in career receptions. Advantage: football

1988: Robin Ventura (Oklahoma State University) vs. Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State University)

The only instance so far where both winners were from the same school. Unfortunately for the baseball cause, one of the better players ever to win the Golden Spikes comes up against one of the greatest running backs of all time. Advantage: football

1989: Ben McDonald (Louisiana State University) vs. Andre Ware (University of Houston)

Ware didn't play much in the NFL and, when it didn't work out there, he didn't fare much better in the Canadian Football League either. The Lions, the team that drafted him and gave him a $1 million bonus, could have used a football equivalent of BP's minor league translations on his run-and-gun college career. If McDonald's shoulder hadn't gone south on him for good in 1998, he would have signed with Toronto for four years and $44 million this past off-season. Advantage: baseball

1990: Alex Fernandez (Miami-Dade Community College) vs. Ty Detmer (Brigham Young University)

Here's the difference between the Heisman Trophy and the Golden Spikes: you'll never see anybody but a Division I-A player win the former. Even with his more humble academic beginnings and a career-killing injury, Fernandez had the better pro career. Barring, that is, some sort of miracle resurgence on Detmer's part. He's still on the Falcons' roster, after all. Advantage: baseball

1991: Mike Kelly (Arizona State University) vs. Desmond Howard (University of Michigan)

Kelly's high water mark was a 1.8 WARP1 with Cincinnati in 1997 (wins over replacement player). It earned him a trip to the expansion Devil Rays where he managed a 1.2. That was pretty much the end of his big league career as he never hit quite enough to hold down a corner outfield spot. Howard's career would have been similarly disappointing had he not discovered the joys of special teams work. He went insane in the 1996 postseason, culminating in a Super Bowl MVP. He also had a Pro Bowl appearance four years later. Advantage: football

1992: Phil Nevin (California State University, Fullerton) vs. Gino Torretta (University of Miami)

8-to-5. That's the ratio of number of times waived to number of games played for Torretta in his NFL career. Nevin has certainly had his share of disappointments, but he's got a great year under to his credit (2001) and still has a career. Advantage: baseball

1993: Darren Dreifort (Wichita State University) vs. Charlie Ward (Florida State University)

Dreifort may have been the signatory to one of the more infamously misguided contracts of the past decade, but at least he stayed in the sport for which he was rewarded in college. He wins this one by default as Ward wasn't even named in the NFL draft and opted instead for a career in the NBA. Advantage: baseball

1994: Jason Varitek (Georgia Institute of Technology) vs. Rashaan Salaam (University of Colorado)

Just about anybody can rush for 1,000 yards in a 16-game season if they get the ball enough. Salaam did it as a rookie while averaging only 3.6 yards a carry. Off the field, it was a case of life imitating art. Unfortunately, that art was Reefer Madness. Last seen in the XFL. Varitek is still going strong, posting his second straight .300 EqA in 2005. Advantage: baseball

1995: Mark Kotsay (California State University, Fullerton) vs. Eddie George (Ohio State University)

George was a grinder who churned his way into the top 20 all-time in rushing yardage. It took its toll as it always must in the cruel world of the NFL. He only averaged more than four yards per carry twice in his career. Kotsay has been a big league regular since he was 22 and just turned 30 in December. He was excellent in 2004 with an 8.8 WARP3. 5.5 to 6.0 is more his usual speed, though. Because of the nature of George's game and the fact that Kotsay probably has another four or five full seasons ahead of him, this one is going to be Advantage: baseball

1996: Travis Lee (San Diego State University) vs. Danny Wuerffel (University of Florida)

To date, Lee has had one pretty good season (2003). To best Wuerffel's 23-game NFL career, that's all he needs, really. Advantage: baseball

1997: J.D. Drew (Florida State University) vs. Charles Woodson (University of Michigan)

Drew has now appeared in eight seasons and qualified for the batting title once. Woodson – the only defensive player to appear on this list – has made three Pro Bowls, although nobody seems to want to sign him this off-season because no team wants to do business with the Postons. Maybe Drew should lend him Scott Boras for a month or two. Advantage: football

1998 Pat Burrell (University of Miami) vs. Ricky Williams (University of Texas)

The Whacker vs. the Weeder. Burrell had an excellent 2002, fell off the face of the earth, and then normalized without approaching '02 levels again. Williams also had a huge 2002. I'm not very objective here. I have a hard time with guys who would prefer finding their inner Willie Nelson for a year over spending time with their three biological children. Advantage: baseball

1999: Jason Jennings (Baylor University) vs. Ron Dayne (University of Wisconsin)

Jennings is going to get the nod here because he has had to perform under the difficult playing conditions of Coors Field. True, Dayne had the pressure of playing professionally in his home state (New Jersey) but responded with some truly uninspired running. The linemen in the NFL are simply better equipped physically to jackknife a truck. They now get to share the fields of Colorado, where the state motto is "Colorado: Good for Running Backs, Bad for Pitchers." Advantage: baseball, pending Mike Shanahan's attempt to prove he can work miracles.

2000: Kip Bouknight (University of South Carolina) vs. Chris Weinke (Florida State University)

Both are still in there fighting. Bouknight split 2005 between the Eastern and Pacific Coast Leagues making 21 starts and posting a combined ERA in the high 3.00s. He's currently the number two starter on the AA Harrisburg Senators in the Washington Nationals organization. Weinke spent 2005 as the backup in Carolina. His 293-for-540 rookie year (2001) and the fact that Bouknight hasn't made the majors yet make this one Advantage: football

2001: Mark Prior (University of Southern California) vs. Eric Crouch (University of Nebraska)

A non-starter in spite of Prior's many physical distractions. Crouch never played a down in the NFL and never will. Advantage: baseball

2002: Khalil Greene (Clemson University) vs. Carson Palmer (University of Southern California)

This could change over the course of time, but right now, Palmer is cooking with gas, as those bribed by the Gas Council used to say. Only Peyton Manning ranked higher than Palmer in FO's passing stats last year, and Greene's .296 OBP in 2005 is troublesome as Palmer's knee injury. Advantage: football

2003: Rickie Weeks (Southern University) vs. Jason White (University of Oklahoma)

"Sometimes I think that you have to swallow your pride a little bit and know when you are done," White told UPI upon his retirement in August of 2005. He cited knee problems as the reason his NFL career ended before he ever played a game. Advantage: baseball

2004: Jered Weaver (Long Beach State University) vs. Matt Leinart (University of Southern California)

Weaver got the early pro jump on Leinart and will have had two pro seasons under his belt by the time the 2006 NFL season kicks off. 2005 was a strong debut in High-A and AA ball and he will, at the very least, get a call-up around the same time Leinart is breaking camp with whichever team expends a high draft choice to collar him. Which player has the better upside? If the previous pitcher vs. quarterback matchups on this list are any indication, then neither of them. As unpredictable as the careers of pitchers can be – even those with the college pedigree of Weaver -- highly-rated quarterbacks also have their share of disappointments. Then again, David Lewin's projection system says Leinart is close to a sure thing, and it's not fair penalizing a fellow for staying in school, even if all he learned was ballroom dancing. Advantage: too early to call

2005: Alex Gordon (University of Nebraska) vs. Reggie Bush (University of Southern California)

Gordon, the second pick in last year's Rule 4 draft and Bush, the expected first pick in this year's NFL draft, have something in common: they are both great hopes for franchises in crisis – the Royals and Texans. Gordon is currently making his pro debut in Wichita and living up to expectations in the early going. He'll be in Kansas City before you know it. No doubt, the Texans will have Bush in their backfield against the Eagles on September 10. The long-range advantage goes to the baseball position player who, if everything goes pretty well, will still be drawing major league breath in 2021. Bush, like many RBs – especially those with teams that don't block so well – could have a short and dangerous career. Advantage: too early to call

The final tally:
Baseball: 14
Football: 12
Too early to call: 2

Jim Baker writes the column "Prospectus Matchups" at our sister site Baseball Prospectus, where an earlier version of this article appeared in December.

Posted by: Guest on 21 Apr 2006

43 comments, Last at 25 Apr 2006, 9:19am by Trogdor

Comments

1
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:19am

Good Article Jim,

But isn't this like comapring Apples to Oranges?

Baseball historicly has had thier players play longer on average and football is the more violent of the two. But still I like the comparison. Shows you that in both sports sometimes the award can mean absolutley nothing.

2
by Justanothersteve (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:27am

Mark Kotsay over Eddie George? Pat Burrell over Ricky Williams? You've got to be kidding. Long term mediocrity does not make a better player. Compare All-Star Game appearances vs Pro Bowls in the analysis and it's not close.

3
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:47am

Interesting, to say the least. A couple points of note: Football players come right into the pros, whereas no one in baseball goes from college straight to the minors without spending some time in the minors, usually at least 2-3 seasons, thus giving football players a chance to accumulate better numbers in a shorter time, and skewering any analysis of the last 4-5 years.

2 years which I disagree on is 78 and 02. I think they should each be too close to calls. Horner wasn't really overated (hitting over 30 HR's 3 times in an era where that was elite) and paired with Dale Murphy for a strong combo that the nation got to see on tbs. As for Greene, remember that he was runner-up in rookie of the year voting, plays exceptional defense at baseball's most defensively important position, and is actually a SS with power (15 HR's last year depite playing at Petco and missing time while injured).

Still, a very interesting comparion to debate.

4
by TomG (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:54am

#2

Employing fan-influenced accolades over on-field production is as tenuous an argument for greatness as longevity is.

Plus, wasn't Eddie George the poster boy for long-term mediocrity? Or, at least for the praise not matching the production?

5
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 12:02pm

Woodson – the only defensive player to appear on this list – has made three Pro Bowls, although nobody seems to want to sign him this off-season because no team wants to do business with the Postons.

... or because nobody wants to do business with Woodson.

Re: 3

2 years which I disagree on is 78 and 02. I think they should each be too close to calls... As for Greene, remember that he was runner-up in rookie of the year voting, plays exceptional defense at baseball’s most defensively important position, and is actually a SS with power (15 HR’s last year depite playing at Petco and missing time while injured).

A close call compared to Carson Palmer? Give me a break! Palmer is already one of the top 3 players at the most important position in the NFL (well, pre-injury, anyway -- we'll see if he can recover). Greene is a nobody. Sure, it's early in both of their careers, but that looks like one of the blowouts on this list to me.

6
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 12:02pm

I thought Jerome Bettis was the poster-boy for long term mediocrity, although Eddie George is a close second, at least in the NFL.

7
by Steelersin06 (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 12:27pm

Bettis and George may be the poster boys for long term "good" but they were rarely mediocre until the end of their careers. I would agree that both are overrated as stars, in that neither was ever the best back (and arguably not even in the top 3) in any given year. But consistency and durability at an above average level does not make one "mediocre." I think talk of mediocre for George and Bettis both is simply a product of their production being over-hyped. These guys were not mediocre.

8
by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 12:33pm

My problem with everyone talking about Bettis as long-term mediocrity is that a) he was often in situations with 8 men in the box, since everyone knew they were going to run, especially when his team was ahead. There's also the problem that he later transformed into a 3rd down back in short-yardage situations and a short-yardage goal line situation. All these things lower his yds/carry ratio, but do not tell us the entire story of "what he was doing."

(yay quotation marks!)

9
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 1:04pm

Re #1- why do people think the awards are meaningless because some of the players haven't had success in the NFL? Have a problem w the Heisman because it goes to the qb on the #1 team, not because the winners have a poor NFL track record.

10
by TomG (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 1:15pm

Kind of getting back on-topic, one thing you ascertain, despite the small sample size, is that there is more distribution amongst positions in baseball than in football. A sick-hitting third baseman has just about as good of a chance of winning the Golden Spikes as a power pitcher whereas the Heisman Trophy is particularly dominated by QBs and RBs with the occasional WR or defensive player winning the award. Offensive or (to a lesser extent) defensive linemen that may in actuality be the best players in the draft are shut out by the more glamorous positions. I think in this regard the Golden Spikes is a more accurate reflection of the actual “best� player in college than the Heisman and I bet that if the Golden Spikes had as large of a sample size as the Heisman or if you were to revisit this ten-twenty years down the road, you’d see a decidedly larger advantage towards baseball than football.

Then again, this could be mitigated by the fact that the talent pool in college baseball isn’t as inclusive as in football since a great deal of top-rated high school prospects go pro. You don’t have this issue in college football, obviously, but it bears mentioning that, like the NBA, the collegiate offerings aren’t indicative of the true “best� players in that age bracket at any given moment.

11
by Led (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 1:26pm

For me, the real question is what happened to Heisman voters in 1989? From 1978-88, the Heisman winners are a pretty impressive group; even the lesser winners are legitimate preofessional players. From 1989 on it's a disaster in terms of NFL success, with a few notable exceptions. It's not just the QB's from #1 teams either, although that is a big problem. Maybe Leinart and Bush will start a new trend. Time will tell.

12
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 1:59pm

#5
If you want to call Palmer one of the top 3 QBs, even pre-injury, that's your call. But who are you ranking him ahead of after what was really only one very good season? I won't argue that he is good, but I think that's a wee bit too much, until he proves he can do it consistently. And as for Greene being a nobody, just because he doesn't play in a major market and plays in a pitcher's park that suppresses his numbers(even Brian Giles could only hit 15 HRs as a Padre last year) surely doesn't make him a nobody.

13
by Dave Ringel (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 2:08pm

Hey James, 4/21 enjoyed comparison article very much. I understand this is a bit of "apples and oranges" but it is really just a fun look at the 2 high ranking award winners. I can't quibble on your reasoning, even on the close calls. Regards, Dave

14
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 2:37pm

12, 5 - Anybody want to give me odds on Palmer versus Roethlisberger developing into the new Manning versus Brady (made even worse since their teams play each other twice a year at least)?

15
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 3:35pm

Ilanin (#14 )--

I'm guessing there's a one in one chance of something like it.

But the irrational Manning v. Brady debate is still going, with little sign of slowing. Palmer v. Roethlisberger has a way to go yet.

What are the odds of a "Manning v. Brady" versus "Palmer v. Roethlisberger" meta-rivalry taking off?

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 4:14pm

The thing is that the Brady/Manning thing had some actual meat to it in the earlier years: Brady wasn't a fantastic quarterback in 2001 - average is a much better term. He didn't become a stellar quarterback until 2004. Typically he was a good QB on a team with a great defense.

Roethlisberger versus Palmer is a bit different. You'd have to be nuts to say that Roethlisberger was an average QB in 2004 or 2005.

Then again, to me, Roethlisberger is very weird.

Palmer's an all-around 'normal' QB in a 'normal' system: high DVOA, high completion percentage, on a team with a low sack rate and really good run blocking (which probably means a very good offensive line) and a relatively normal run/pass ratio.

Roethlisberger, however, is... odd: high DVOA, high completion percentage, really high sack rate (historically high for his effectiveness) on a team with decent, but not fantastic, run blocking, on a team with a heavily run-tilted run/pass ratio.

The reason that's "odd" to me is because teams don't pencil in "oh, we'll take a sack this down." They're intended to be passes. That's "lost efficiency" for a QB.

Which means that Palmer, as good as he was last year, couldn't've been much better with fewer sacks. He didn't take enough for them to really hurt. Roethlisberger, on the other hand... that's quite different.

Why do I have the feeling that this was an extremely dangerous comment for me to make. :)

17
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 4:53pm

RE 9

you missed the entire thought behind that post. The reason that I call those awards meaningless is the fact that even though they may have excelled in college that does not nessicarily translate to a sucessful career in the NFL. I do not hate the Heisman Award or how it is awarded. It just seems to me that perhaps the public, NFL teams, and the media in general should take that award with a grain of salt. It is a college award and looks good and everything, but just because they got it does not make them the greatest thing since sliced bread.

18
by fish shure (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 4:56pm

I agree that Pat Burrell over Ricky Williams is rather absurd, and I'd probably take Eddie George over Mark Kotsay.

However, Carson Palmer vs. Khalil Greene is (to this point) an absolute blowout. Khalil Greene has the chance to be an excellent pro (not 'excellent for a rookie'), in a few years - Palmer is already great.

19
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 5:10pm

That's an interesting debate. I'm not sure where I'd stand on that one, though I think I'd tend to side with Palmer. I think I need a little bit more exposure to both of them and to see where each of them will take their teams. It seems to me (though I could be wrong) that Palmer is on a much more pass-oriented offense, and moreover that a lot of those passes are deep ones. The Bengals also don't employ quite as much trickery. The Steelers generally have shorter fields to drive down. Roethlisberger keeps surprising me, however. I suppose the old argument of switching their places could yield some interesting veiwpoints. I don't think Roethlisberger could post the sort of numbers Palmer did in the Benglas offense, but then again I don't know that I believe Palmer could have run the Steelers O quite as efficiently as Roethlisberger has thus far. Hmmm...can we get Joey Harrington vs. Chris Weinke going, or maybe a little Cade McNown vs. Giovanni Carmazzi?

20
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 5:13pm

Scott Covington vs. Moses Moreno? Anyone? And "Brady v. Manning" beats "Palmer v. Roethlisberger" any day of the week.

21
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 5:36pm

RE 20

Yea, now it does; but are we talking about his rookie year? which this article somewhat attempts to do (along with the career both players have had). I would take Peyton's Rookie year any day of the week and 2x on sunday. He is the only rookie QB to throw for over 3,000 yds in his rookie campaign. Now his inability to get into the superbowl? well lets just leave it at that...

22
by Jerry (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 5:45pm

Let's just say that a 14-0 rookie season, followed by a Super Bowl championship in the second year, isn't going to be comparable to anyone. Palmer's had a good couple of years, and we'll see what happens to both guys in the future, but Roethlisberger's career to this point is of historic magnitude.

23
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 6:20pm

#17
Actually, this is even more of the case in college basketball. Does anyone remember Walter Berry from St. John's? College BB player of the year, then picked something like #16 by Portland, and turned out to be a huge bust. Even a good current example would be JJ Reddick: Great college player on a top program, but outside of his great jumper, does anyone really think that he has the natural abilities to be a star in the NBA?
#18
I'm sorry, but I still can't see how having one good season makes Palmer great. I could name 10 QBs who I would rather have right now because they have shown as much for more than one year. If he does it again for a couple more years, then I'll agree to the "great" adjective. As for Greene, I'm not talking about potential. He is already probably the 2nd best fielding SS in the NL (behind Vizquel) in what is now his 3rd full season, as well as already showing more power than he was ever predicted to have. He's definately no ARod yet and still has things to work out (very bad K/BB ratio), but again, he also plays a position that traditionally has the lowest offensive output of any regular player on the field. Big numbers at the plate may get you noticed more, put when you play SS in a pitcher's park, a good glove is even more important.

24
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 6:42pm

Ok, I must confess to being biased in the Greene/Palmer debate. I've been a been fan of Greene ever since the first time I saw him, when his glove pretty much won the game.
As for Palmer though, while he does probably when this battle, I still say it's close. He has one had ONE good season(in 04, he threw for less than 3000 yards, had as many picks as TDs, and had a rating in the 70's....average at best). He has great potential, but is by no means great already. And there is no possible way that he is currently a top 3 QB.

25
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 8:15pm

I think the Hiesman is a complete joke and haven't paid any attetion to it for years. That someone like White even got a sniff of it was rather silly. It really has become the Best QB/RB from 10 win division 1 school. Its about as important as the superbowl MVP...

26
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:22pm

Hypothetical situation: The NFL starts over. All current team and player affiliations are rendered void. There is a universal draft including all players. If Palmer had not torn his ACL, I will go so far as to say that there is good chance that, given his age and the position he plays, Palmer would be the number one overall pick in that draft.

27
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 10:24pm

It's coming!!!...the Palmer vrs. Roethlisberger irrational debate thread is trying very hard to be born, right here in this discussion that started out on a very different topic. I hope it plays out the same as the Brady vrs. Manning "Thread That Will Not Die," because as it stands now, it could be caricatured as Ben = Brady (the guy with the ring (rings in Brady's case)) and Palmer = Manning (the guy with the stats.) As a Steeler fan, my preference would be that Ben get a few more rings; if the price of that is seeing Palmer have better stats, I can live with that.

28
by adwred (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:41pm

" Shows you that in both sports sometimes the award can mean absolutley nothing."

#1 - the article didn't show you that at all. The award means the winning player was considered the best in college in their respective sport that year. That's nothing to sneeze at. Have you no nostalgia? Do you not remember some of these seasons? Come on.

29
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 9:19am

On the irrational debate topic, one of the only redeeming qualities of being a Saints fan is being able to witness and participate in the irrational Brooks v. Delhomme debates.

I love my fellow Louisiana natives and all, but some of them have some very serious problems dealing with numbers, facts, and reason.

30
by The Other Vlad (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 11:28am

Kotsay has put up a lot of defensive value over the years (2005 excepted), and when you factor that into the equation, I think he's a pretty clear pick over George.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:17pm

as Ben = Brady (the guy with the ring (rings in Brady’s case)) and Palmer = Manning (the guy with the stats.)

Roethlisberger's passing rate independent stats are easily as good as Palmer's, and they were far better in 2004. That's why the debate is far more silly than Brady/Manning was in the early days.

32
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 9:38pm

But passing rate independence isn't necessarily a virtue in a stat. Teams facing the Steelers will expect more runs than teams facing the Bengals, and adjust their defense accordingly. I think Palmer is probably the better player right now, but if I had the no.1 overall pick in CA's fantasy draft, I would use it on Roethlisberger, for exactly the reason that CA gave for Palmer: age. Palmer (27 this year) is three years older than Roethlisberger (24) and only two years younger than Brady (29) and three younger than the medial Manning (30). I imagine those would be the first four players drafted in some order. I would actually take Brady over Palmer, given that he put up a very similar DPAR on a team with a substantially worse offensive line, a weaker receiving group and a vastly inferior running game.

33
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 9:39pm

Afterthought: of course, one might wish to weigh against Roethlisberger's age the fact that he takes too many hits - he seems the most likely of the four to have his career shortened by injury.

34
by Joe Gualtieri (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 5:50am

1980: Ridiculous. Franconca winning the Sox's first championship in 86 years trumps some random NFL star easily.

(and I'm a Yankees fan)

1995: Come one, Kotsay is a medicore player (career OPS .765). George was a star on a Superbowl team.

1998: Pat the Bat is a star, and better than a lot of the other Spikes winners, but he is not better relative to his league than Williams.

35
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 6:39am

Even a good current example would be JJ Reddick: Great college player on a top program, but outside of his great jumper, does anyone really think that he has the natural abilities to be a star in the NBA?

Ricky Proehl watch!

36
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 8:55am

Re 31: Pat, you are right, which is why, in number 27, I said that my description of the Roethlisberger-Palmer comparison is a "caricature." Worthwhile discussion requires the sort of analysis you are suggesting--my point is how easy it is for worthwhile discussion to veer off into an Irrational Debate Thread, even on a site like this, where many/most of the posters seem thoughtful and even astute.

37
by CA (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 10:36am

For the record, let me state that I had no idea that Michael Silver had a column out with a universal mock draft (originally published on Thursday) when I made post 26. Just a bit of Baader-Meinhof.

38
by UncleMiltie (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 12:21pm

Suprised that no one has mentioned the 1985 result as a controversial one in this poll. By the same argument made eariler for Billy Sims (and quite correctly made), you can't discount Bo for having a career ending injury. The MNF matchup of him and Barry Sanders still ranks as one of the most jaw-dropping displays of superstars going head to head in pro sports history. If anything, his baseball career furthers the argument in favor of him as he could do it all. Will Clark's primary claim to fame was a catchy nickname and hitting a HR in his first major league at-bat. He was good player, but not a great one. IMHO, Bo wins this matchup easily.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 9:00pm

But passing rate independence isn’t necessarily a virtue in a stat.

No, but it's the fairest way to evaluate a passer. McNabb was on pace to have a ridiculously high passing yardage total early in the season simply because he was passing so much. That doesn't mean he was the best passer in the league.

It's entirely possible that Roethlisberger isn't capable of passing as much as Palmer is. Sure. That's a valid criticism. But it's also only a possibility at this point.

I think it's also not even that valid a criticism, either, as I think if you would look at the distribution of 'DPAR/game' for Roethlisberger versus Palmer, I think Roethlisberger has had plenty of high DPAR games. It's just that he's had plenty of games where the passing rate's much lower as well.

40
by TomG (not verified) :: Mon, 04/24/2006 - 8:11am

Will Clark’s primary claim to fame was a catchy nickname and hitting a HR in his first major league at-bat. He was good player, but not a great one. IMHO, Bo wins this matchup easily

Will was a pretty decent player (career OPS+ of 138) with only one season close to league average (1996). He tends to be overlooked by his more famous (and there were a lot of them) contemporaries, but he was a very good player for 10+ seasons.

41
by TomG (not verified) :: Mon, 04/24/2006 - 8:13am

"by" should read "because".

42
by Dennis Green, Cardinals (not verified) :: Mon, 04/24/2006 - 9:17am

I take your point, Pat, but I still think a cumulative points above average stat (like the one used in the PFP 100 greatest quarterback seasons article, but with adjustments for defense, down and distance) is the best way of rewarding both efficiency and frequency of passing to find the best passer. I've no idea whether Palmer or Roethlisberger would have a better DPAA for last season.

43
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 04/25/2006 - 9:19am

Will Clark was a very good player, for a long time. He was not as good as Bo (at football, although you could argue Bo was a better baseball player too, or at least would've been if he didn't have a hobby), but Bo had such a short football career you'd pretty much have to take Clark. Bo was as scary a player as I've ever seen (his Sportscentury is must-watch, if only for the opening montage of highlights - wow), but he only played four seasons, and they were all partial seasons because of baseball. If he had played football full-time, and not gotten a freak injury, then this becomes no contest. But as it is, you have to take a decade of consistently excellent production over 38 games of brilliance.

Oh, and the thing I most remember Will Clark for - I believe he's the reason every pitcher covers his mouth with his glove during meetings on the mound. I think it was Clark who read Greg Maddux's lips as he said "fastball" during a playoff game, and hit it about as far as an All-Star first baseman can hit a pitch he knows is coming. Then again, this is baseball, so consider it a Trogdor special fact, where all the details might be wrong but it's still essentially true, sort of.

Perhaps this is just because I don't follow baseball all that closely anymore, but I think you're nuts to choose Kotsay over George. Of course Eddie ran down at the end of his career, but in his earlier years he was really, really good. I mean, he once scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl after he was already down! I know it's fashionable around here to pretend guys like him and Bettis and Bledsoe and Ray Lewis were always bad and way overrated, but it ain't right. I'd take Eddie all the way, and I would even if I had any idea what position Kotsay played and who he plays for.