I just finished skimming thru "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract", and so I now I have a vague understanding of his Win Shares system for rating player value (= contribution to WINNING GAMES thru hitting, fielding and/or pitching). Offensive contribution is judged mainly by "runs created", and each player's contribution to runs created is measured mainly by (OBA)*(TB). Win Share totals also include contributions as a fielder.
A truly GREAT player will have some seasons with 30 or more Win Shares. Some Hall of Famers will have a season with 40 or more WS, but most fall short even in their best seasons.
TED WILLIAMS was the youngest left fielder ever to earn 30 Win Shares (32 in 1939, when he had 145 RBI at age 20); and Ted was the OLDEST left fielder to score 30 WS when he hit .388 at age 38. In between, he missed 30 WS only in those seasons when he was injured, or when he was in military service. Ted had 30 or more Win Shares in TEN different seasons -- 40 or more in five of those seasons -- and he finished his career with 555 WS (39.2 per 162 games played). Only Babe Ruth (RF) has a higher Win Share average per 162 games. Bill James ranks Williams as the #1 left fielder of all time.
JOE DIMAGGIO played from 1936 thru 1951 (essentially a contempory of Ted Williams). In his career DiMaggio had SIX seasons with 30 Win Shares or more, but only ONCE did he reach 40. (Actually, 41 WS in his MVP year of 1941 -- when Williams had 42.) Joe ended his career with 387 Win Shares, or 36.1 per 162 games played. James ranks Joe as the #5 Center Fielder of all time (behind Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and Tris Speaker).
So how did it happen that from his retirement until his death, JOE DiMAGGIO was widely proclaimed as our "GREATEST LIVING BALLPLAYER"? Is the Bill James Win Shares method that far off the mark?