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Hall of Merit: The New Historical Baseball Abstract

In the extended text (click on discussion) I’m posting Bill James’ thoughts on our first ballot (1906, for players that retired before 1901), according to the NHBA. I think his rankings need to be adjusted for season length, which will make a huge difference for guys like Deacon White and Ezra Sutton.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 05, 2002 at 04:39 PM | 24 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: How to Structure the Ballot?

We decided this already:

Voters must vote for their top 10 candidates in order. We aren’t sure how to award the points.

In the extended text, I’ll post the last two posts from our earlier discussion.

I kind of like DanG’s idea and JimD points out that we aren’t splitting atoms. I guess we have to make a choice here, so let’s start moving in that direction . . .

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 03, 2002 at 03:49 PM | 9 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: More to Come Soon

Okay—we are going to get this rolling. One of the reasons we’ve been kind of slow on this is that I’ve been waiting for the Win Shares book to come out. I think that’s going to have a big impact on the Hall of Merit.

The other reason is that fantasy baseball has taken over the better part of the last two weeks, as I’m the commissioner and owner for baseball, hockey and basketball leagues and this is the busy season. After the draft this weekend my life will start to come back into order.

Anyway, I’m not saying the Win Shares method doesn’t have it’s flaws, especially the low replacement level. But once we know what the flaws are, we can adjust for them (and season length, which is important pre-1904)and we’ll really have a nice evaluative tool on our hands. I’m especially encouraged by the pitching/defense splits to see where the credit falls for historical players.

I’ve also been working on updating my career offensive W-L numbers w/some tweaks. Once that’s updated (hopefully by the weekend of the 19th) I’ll present numbers for every viable candidate on the ballot.

If any of you have questions, thoughts on the process, etc.; let’s get that discussion rolling as well. This is going to start picking up over the next few weeks, it’d be great if we could get the first ballot underway by Memorial Day weekend.

I’ll set up a few threads now to organize the discussion. One for ballot structure (relating to how points will be awarded), one for candidate discussion (let’s limit ourselves to players retired before 1900). If anyone has any other ideas for topics that need to be discussed, let me know and I’ll post them as well.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 03, 2002 at 03:43 PM | 19 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: Estimating League Quality - Part 1 (the concept)

First of all, let me apologize for the lack of material posted to the Hall of Merit BLOG. In the coming weeks, I’m confident this will no longer be a problem.

When we consider players who played over 100 years ago, it is vital to look at the quality of the leagues they played in. Using a method that is similar to what Clay Davenport has been doing for some time (for examples of this kind of work, see Clay’s recent postings on Baseball Prospectus concerning the quality of play in the Japanese Baseball Leagues), I attempted to estimate the quality of baseball in the “major” leagues of the 19th century.

I focused on hitting stats, since at this time there were only a handful of pitchers active at a given time in a given league.

My method assumes that a player’s overall batting skill does not change appreciably from one year to the next. This assumption is not true on an individual basis, but it starts to make sense when we are talking about a large group of players. The individual changes in skill should become less important as the size of the group increases.

In leagues that are stable, there isn’t a very high turnover in personnel from year to year. In the 19th century National League, in most years, about 70%-80% of the players returned to play regularly the following year. In cases where new leagues started up and players jumped, the percentage of holdovers was much much lower - and this makes comparison much more difficult.

I estimated the quality of each hitter?s batting by using a runs produced ratio [(R+RBI)/PA] and compared it to a league average performance. The reason I chose this, and not Runs Created or Linear Weights, is that I wasn’t going to adjust for park and I assumed that the batting order bias of the R anbd RBI stats was not going to be relevant for a large group of players either.

In the 19th century, where more advanced run estimation formulas are much less accurate than for “modern” baseball, I opted for the simplicity of using Runs Scored and RBI.

Because we are comparing each group of players to league average the result shouldn’t be far from 1.00 for a relatively stable league (where the majority of regulars return the next year). In practice, it’s unlikely to be exactly 1.00 of course.

If the newcomers to the league in a given year were better than typical newcomers, the performance of the holdovers would be worse than in a typicla league and this would be a sign that the league was getting stronger. On the other hand, if a lot of good players jumped to a rival league and their places were filled by less skilled batsmen, the holdovers would improve their performance relative to league average and this would be a sign that the league was weakening.

By comparing the overall performance of the SAME group of players from year to year and league to league, it should be possible to track the changes in the overall quality of play.

In the next part, I’ll apply these methods to a specific example.



Robert Dudek Posted: March 01, 2002 at 11:49 PM | 173 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: Baseball Prospectus: Japanese Baseball: How Good Is It?

Thanks to “jimd” for passing this along.

This is an excellent article. Robert has done a lot of work on comparisons for 1871-75 NA, to the NL, last I heard he was complete through 1885. One surprise, 1874 or 75 NA was actually stronger than the 1876 NL. That’s just a tease for now (I don’t have the numbers, just recalling converstations w/Robert), I think Robert will be ready to post his findings soon.

This is vital to our early ballot. From a previous thread I think we’ve agreed to move the first election back to 1905 (careers through 1900). With the nature of baseball back then, the importance of accurately weighing the strength of the league a player played in cannot be understated.

On a side note, I did not realize Japanese baseball was that strong.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 31, 2002 at 10:02 PM | 27 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: Outta here: One man’s Hall of Fame plan

Thanks to Cris Enestvedt for passing this along. Talk about an exclusive Hall of Fame! I’ll bet the folks in Cooperstown would love having an induction every 3 or 4 years. I wonder if they’d be able to get whoever gets kicked out to show up for the ceremony . . .

I realize this is just a fun article, but seriously, this guy is missing the whole point. It’s to honor several of the best players of each generation. To honor some players that weren’t appreciated for the stars they were when they were active. Not the 2 best from each decade and kick people out once someone better comes along. Not to mention that I have some issue with his choices for the top 25 anyway.

Here’s the follow-up article for current players:

Next up: not many

Also, apologies for the lack of posting here so far. The support has been great, far exceeding our expectations. I have 81 people on the list for ballots so far.

I’ve been really busy the last few weeks. More will follow soon. I think the early discussion has been very good, we’ll start bringing it together and focusing in soon. If you have any suggestions/questions that you would like addressed feel free to post them here.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 30, 2002 at 03:23 AM | 22 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: The Hall of Merit needs you!

We would like to invite all those interested to contribute their ideas regarding every aspect of the Hall of Merit.

Though Joe and I have established some general guidelines, there are issues that still need to be considered. One of these is the voting system. Joe has proposed a voting system which is quite similar to the one used in the annual MVP votes. Please refer to an article Joe wrote for Baseball Primer titled “Something Better” for a description of the HoM as it currently stands.

If you have any thoughts about how this new project should work, please post them here.

Robert Dudek Posted: January 09, 2002 at 04:07 AM | 128 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: Hall of Merit - the early years

Hi there folks!

Joe and I have a lot of work to do to get the Hall of Merit off the ground.

I think the biggest challenge before the first election is getting people familiar with the eligible players.

In principle, any player whose career finished before 1911 is eligible. Because we are dealing with 40 years of baseball I decided to break down the player lists into more managable parts: 1) those who last played in the bigs before 1891; 2) those not in the first group who last played before 1901; 3) and those remaining who last played before 1911.

I’ve made a list of the players who played in parts of at least 10 years and left the bigs before 1891, here it is:

name   last year games main positions
Wright, George 1882 591 ss 530 SS / 2b
McGeary, Mike 1882 547 2b 196 2B,SS,3B / c
Fulmer, Chick 1884 583 ss 430 SS / 2b,3b
Peters, John 1884 615 ss 557 SS / 2b
Ferguson, Bob 1884 824 3b 397 3B,2B /
Force, Davy 1886 1029 ss 716 SS / 2b,3b
Quest, Joe 1886 596 2b 528 2B / ss
Start, Joe 1886 1071 1b 1070 1B /
Sutton, Ezra 1888 1263 3b 880 3B / ss,2b,1b.rf.lf
Hankinson,Frank 1888 849 3b 764 3B / p, lf
Phillips, Bill 1888 1038 1b 1032 1B /
Farrell, Jack 1889 884 2b 740 2B / ss
Rowe, Jack 1890 1044 ss 657 SS / c,lf,cf,rf
Nelson, Candy 1890 817 ss 560 SS / 2b,rf,cf,3b
Williamson, Ned 1890 1201 3b 716 3B,SS / c,p
White ,Deacon 1890 1560 3b 827 3B,C / rf,1b,2b
Battin, Joe 1890 480 3b 340 3B / 2b
Morrill, John 1890 1265 1b 916 1B / 3b,2b,ss,c


name   last year games main positions
Remsen, Jack 1884 578 cf 515 CF / lf
Cuthbert, Ned 1884 452 lf 398 LF / cf
Eggler, Dave 1885 576 cf 561 CF /
York, Tom 1885 963 lf 651 LF / rf
Cassidy, John 1885 634 rf 411 RF / cf,p
Clinton, Jim 1886 426 cf 205 CF / lf,rf
Manning, Jack 1886 834 rf 672 RF / p,ss,1b
Pike, Lip 1887 425 cf 235 CF / rf,2b,ss
Jones, Charley 1888 894 lf 636 LF/ cf
Purcell,Blondie 1890 1097 lf 480 LF,RF / cf,p,3b
Sommer, Joe 1890 920 lf 567 LF / rf,3b,2b,ss
Hornung, Joe 1890 1123 lf 1051 LF / 1b
Dorgan, Mike 1890 715 rf 556 RF / lf
Shaffer, Orator 1890 871 rf 810 RF / cf,rf
Nicol, Hugh 1890 888 rf 802 RF / 2b,ss,cf

name   last year games main positions
Clapp, John 1883 588 c 472 C / lf,rf,cf
Allison, Doug 1883 318 c 279 C /
Bond, Tommy 1884 488 p 322 P / rf
White, Will 1886 403 p 403 P /
Mathews, Bobby 1887 623 p 578 P / rf
McCormick, Jim 1887 534 p 492 P / cf
Bradley, George 1888 567 p 347 P / 3b,ss
Gilligan,Barney 1888 523 c 459 C / ss,lf
Holbert, Bill 1888 623 c 538 C / rf
Flint, Silver 1889 760 c 727 C / rf
Whitney, Jim 1890 550 p 413 P / cf,rf,1b
Bushong, Doc 1890 672 c 667 C /

1) “games” is career games played, including in the National Association
2)“main” is the main position and the number of career games played at that position.
2) The “positions” syntax is as follows: the main position, plus any others that exceed 50% of the number played at the main position, are uppercase and followed by a slash(/). The positions following the slash are all others at which the player played at least 20 games, in descending order.

By no means does this include every quality player of the 1871-1890 era - for one thing, many of them played past 1890. I’ll feature them in upcoming lists.

 

Robert Dudek Posted: January 09, 2002 at 03:29 AM | 46 comment(s)
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Hall of Merit: Welcome to the Hall of Merit

This is the first blog entry for the Hall of Merit.  We hope you will find this an interesting new feature on our site.  Much more information will follow.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 08, 2002 at 05:37 PM | 3 comment(s)
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