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Home » 2005 NewsApril 2005 » The Gospel According to William

The Gospel According to William

In the beginning was the name, and the name was “Mueller,” and the name was pronounced “Miller.” There was a man sent from San Francisco, whose name was William. The same came for a base hit, to bear witness of the Light, that all Red Sox fans through him might believe.

On March 31, Chris Snow had another excellent article on Mueller. I’ve written before about those prodigious moments that have been etched in our memories. Even without his dramatic hits, Mueller’s production has been stellar. Since 1996, the year of his debut, if you want a group of third basemen with a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances, .275 BA, .350 OBP, 50 HR, and 400 RBI, you’ll have a list of six:

“Mueller, Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, Eric Chavez, Corey Koskie, and Jeff Cirillo. Among that class, Mueller ranks third in average (.292) and on-base percentage (.374) and sixth in home runs (72) and RBIs (416). Add “500 or fewer strikeouts” to that search and only Mueller (488) is left standing.

“Jones, next to Mueller, is the only switch hitter on the list. Mueller, in fact, is 16th all-time in on-base percentage among switch hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances, two spots behind Pete Rose (.375).”

As a sports commentator whose identity escapes me said, “He may not be at the head of the class, but it doesn’t take long to call the roll.”

Let’s compare the 2004 earnings of these players:

  • Eric Chavez: $5.325M
  • Jeff Cirillo: $7.1M
  • Chipper Jones: $15.33M
  • Corey Koskie: $4.5M
  • Bill Mueller: $2.1M
  • Scott Rolen: $7.78M

Admittedly, his injury history has impacted his value. On May 13, 2001, Mueller suffered an open fracture of his left patella after sliding into metal beneath the padding along the Busch Stadium left field wall. He was, as always, playing hard and trying to catch a foul ball.

His lingering knee problems have affected his range and defensive capabilities. As shown below, the argument could be made that he is not is the fielding equivalent of the peers listed, but he is by no definition a liability. The table below is sorted by Defensive Efficiency Rating, explained in David Pinto’s Baseball Musing’s Probabilistic Model of Range.

2004 G GS Inn TC PO A E DP RF Fld % DER
Rolen 141 139 1228 428 93 325 10 23 3.06 97.70 0.107
Chavez 125 125 1129 402 113 276 13 31 3.1 96.80 0.104
Jones 96 93 802 241 58 177 6 13 2.64 97.50 0.092
Mueller 96 94 827.2 247 71 162 14 15 2.53 94.30 0.088
Koskie 115 112 1004 297 79 207 11 14 2.56 96.30 0.086
Cirillo 11 8 78.1 18 8 10 0 1 2.07 100.00 0.083

This is a small sample size, but a head-to-head comparison of Mueller and Rolen in the World Series is eye-opening:

Mueller 14 3 6 2 0 0 2 4 .429 .556 .571 1.127
Rolen 15 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .059 .000 .059

All this from a player that says, “It’s not something I enjoy, talking about myself. I enjoy talking about the game of baseball. It seems like your questions lead outside the lines a lot of times. I try and stay private and really, that’s my business. That’s how I see it.”

Worth every penny. (And if anyone recalls who said that “head of the class” quote, please let me know.)


Are those stats just for the World Series? 9 PAs doesn't seem like very many for 14 games.

Thanks for the catch, NU50. ESPN's splits don't acccount for the postseason, I was looking at the regular season within October. Must have been the sequined Red Sox cap I have interferring with my neural pathways.

The table is correct now. The World Series stats make Rolen look positively hideous. Small sample size warning applies.

Bill Mueller was the catalyst for the 04 Red Sox. Without him, though Youks filled in admirably, the team was mired in mediocrity. With him, they prevailed. And of course he had three of the biggest hits of the season, too(that July 8th game was pretty huge, ya know). Mueller is the reason why the Red Sox won it all, in essence. That fake bunt attempt was pure genius, whoever put it on...

Someone's old Mueller tribute page, scroll down for pics.


Blimey I hope his knee holds up this year. I just feel better with him out there.

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