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Thursday, March 27, 2003

1898 Ballot Discussion

The general tone of the discussion seems to be that we’ll be moving the first election back to 1898. There haven’t been any major objections or anything, so I figured I’d get this thread up quick to give as much time as possible for discussion.

I’m posting this thread to allow for new discussions of provisional ballots, because . . . the players discussed will be quite different and that other thread was getting very long.

Please don’t add the totals and score them this time . . . if you want to add them up and post a top 10 or something that’s fine (alphabetically, without the total points) that’s fine, but I’d rather not open that can of worms, if people want to do it individually that’s fine, but I don’t think it should be posted. A top 10 accomplishes the goal of seeing the consensus without the other concerns.

The discussion of the merits of moving the ballot back to 1898 is on the First Ballot Schedule thread.

Our new start date will start the with the old opening day most of us grew up with, about a week into April, not the last day or two of March, if that’s any solace to the people who were pumped about starting on opening day :-)

JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 27, 2003 at 12:15 AM | 104 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:31 AM (#3061078)
Posted 6:37 p.m., April 10, 2003 (#132) - TomH
I shant post a composite ballot summary here, but....I detect a tight race as we head for the home stretch for the coveted 4th and final initial HoM slot!

Posted 8:59 p.m., April 10, 2003 (#133) - Marc
I dunno Tom, it looks to me like a two-possession game, but only if a certain player should get shut out completely on those two possessions, which seems unlikely. It would be a hell of an upset, baabeee!

Posted 9:25 p.m., April 10, 2003 (#134) - Gerry
Am I correct in asserting that that place in Cooperstown has enshrined none of the players who are eligible for this ballot, excepting pitchers? Whereas I get the feeling that this ballot is going to select mainly non-pitchers. Did Cooperstown overrate the pitchers of the 1870s and 1880s? Or is the HoM about to underrate them?

Posted 10:25 p.m., April 10, 2003 (#135) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
I think Cooperstown underrated the hitters on our ballot, especially the ones at the top.

Don't forget, they started in 1936. That means the players on our ballot had been retired at least 44 years, meaning the youngest of the stars would be in their mid-70s at that time, when (I'm guessing) the life expectancy in the country was probably around 60? So their stories had mostly faded from memory of those that were alive. You would have had to have been in your 60s to remember these guys only vaguely. There wasn't TV, etc.

Also, the pitchers had something very recognizable, 300 wins. The hitters played in short seasons, so the career stats that the voters did have were much lower than the players from later years.

Posted 11:36 p.m., April 10, 2003 (#136) - Marc
I agree with Joe, except I would add that, yes, the HoF overrated the pitchers of the '80s. If pitching 5000 innings and winning 300 games was so tough, how come 5 guys did it? Though I think the same question can legitimately be asked of the deadball era--how come so many pitchers had such great records? Were they all really the best pitchers of all-time? It will be interesting to see how the conventional wisdom plays out at different times. But for the 1870s and '80s, I think we've got it right. The real HoF in the 1930s didn't know how to evaluate 19th century players--they didn't even have the numbers and so generally they picked the guys who had the highest peaks (Radbourn over Clarkson, etc., except Barnes).

Posted 2:03 a.m., April 11, 2003 (#137) - Brian H
I would add that the NA was not considered (and I think technically still is not considered) a "major league" by the baseball establishment. Likewise the Negro Leagues were apparently not up for discussion. Otherwise Rube Foster and Pop Lloyd -- to name just a couple -- would have been very strong candidates. Also, we have more statistics from those early days today than any voter had in the 1930's.

Also, as I recall, players like G. Wright and Candy Cummings were honored largely as "innovators"/"originators" which is not an express part of our criterion ("merit"). Nonetheless the orignal voters botched up the innovators/originators by neglecting Harry Wright.

Posted 10:13 a.m., April 11, 2003 (#138) - RobC
Looking ahead to 1899 (that's kind of funny) - Is it within the
rules to give a bonus due to beer quality?

Im guessing no (but the Nut Brown is excellent).

Posted 10:25 a.m., April 11, 2003 (#139) - RobC
Looking ahead to 1899 (that's kind of funny) - Is it within the
rules to give a bonus due to beer quality?

Im guessing no (but the Nut Brown is excellent).

Posted 2:22 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#140) - RobC
Can someone explain Joe Start to me? One of the things Im doing in preparing my 1899 vote is looking at the players who werent in my top 15 of 1898 who got strong support. Assuming Start doesnt make it in as of 1898, he is getting the strongest support of the guys I didnt vote for. I understand wanting to adjust for his "late start"/pre-1871 play, and it might make more sense if he was one of the top players of 1871-1873. But, he doesnt show anything resembling quality until 1874. After that he is consistently good, with no big peak. I would like to adjust for pre-1871, but I think I would need to assume play at the 1871-1873 level.

To me, he looks like a 1870's version of Jeff Fassero. Okay, maybe that isnt fair, he was better (although the pitcher/hitter comparison isnt the best) than Fassero. However, Jeff got to his performance level at age 28, not age 31.

If anyone has any evidence that 1871-1873 was just fluke down years (it was only 141 games) and not his pre-1874 level of performance, please post it. After re-evaluating, I think Start is about 17/18 on my 1898 list, and in the 20s for 1899.

Posted 2:57 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#141) - Andrew Siegel
I've noticed that there are quite a few ballots that leave George Wright out entirely. I think that Wright is one of the hardest players to place on this ballot. If someone who doesn't have him in the Top 15 would explain his or her reasoning, I'd appreciate it. (This post has the double purpose of asking for more evidence for my future consideration of Wright and making sure that there is no one who simply forgot to consider him.)

Posted 3:24 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#142) - MattB
I am also startled by the amazing amount of both agreement and dissent.

By my count so far (without naming names), only four players have been named on every ballot, and just one more is named on every ballot but one.

Not surprisingly (based on the gap between on-ballot and off-ballot worked into the point system), these persons are the current top 5.

On the other hand, the rest of the top 10-15 are all omitted on multiple ballots. The points are close enough together than a few persons chosing to include or exclude a person as their 14th or 15th choice is sufficient to affect placement by a several points either way.

I do not see this as a problem (the system was set up explicitly to value consensus), but the moral appears to be that deciding who to fill in the last few spots on your ballot with will make a significant impact on the results.

Posted 4:07 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#143) - Mark McKinniss
Andrew, I'll take a shot. I'll see if I can lay everything out in a logical manner. By the way, George Wright placed 16th by my standards, when I ranked everyone from this era.

1) I looked only at stats. I didn't care about subjective viewpoints, or comments from contemporaries because I don't trust them. Bob Gibson once called Dal Maxvill the only shortstop he'd want playing on his team. Or something to that effect. In other words, player X had to do it on the field to get my vote.

2) I tended to discount those who had an unnatural career path. Wright's best two seasons came in 1871 and 73, in two of the first 3 seasons of existence in the NA. He was 24 and 26, respectively, so it's not too far from standard peak, but one has to assume that league quality improved drastically the first few years. In essence I was highly suspect of peak seasons that happened in a league's infancy. See also, Al Spalding.

3) Compare Wright to Fred Dunlap. They both played up middle infield, they both played the same amount of seasons, and they both played above average defense. To keep this at a high level, let's look at OPS+. Wright's career OPS+ was 125. Dunlap's was 133, but let's heavily his 1884 season in the UA, such that both players have the same career OPS+. Add in points for Dunlap for playing: a) in more real games; b) later in time; and c) in a better league, and Dunlap starts to look a little better, despite the positional adjustment. (He placed 12th on my ballot).

4) Compare Wright to Ross Barnes. Both started in the NA at the outset of the league, and then moved to the NL. Both had their best seasons in the NA, and then dropped off relatively quickly after moving to the NL. Both were above average in the field. According to Joe's adjusted seasons number, Barnes played about one less year than Wright. The difference? While Wright was putting up very good seasons in the NA, Barnes was blowing everyone away. There's not a positional adjustment in the world that can make up for the offensive value differential.

5. So, from here, it follows that Barnes should be considerably ahead of Wright, and Dunlap should be slightly ahead of Wright. Where they actually rank in an absolute sense is somewhat based on personal preference. I like pitchers from this era more than most, so Wright barely drops out.
   102. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3061081)
Posted 4:53 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#144) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Let me take a crack at Joe Start:

When you adjust for season length, Start had 244 WS after the age of 32. I'm not exaggerating that. His peak wasn't spectacular, 130 WS for 5 years, 30, 30, 26 for his 3 best, but again, that peak didn't start until he was 33 years old (I have to doubt that this was his true peak, unless he's one of the most unique players in history).

He's the Minnie Minoso of this group, 379 Adjusted WS (giving some extra credit for defense) and his first year in the NA wasn't until he was 28. That means that if you give him just 23 WS per season for the NA years (we did have him on 1 all-star team, so that's a reasonable average), he's around the equivalent of a 379 WS player in modern times.

Now you've got a player who put up 379 WS after the age of 28. He was also generally considered a star in pre-1871 baseball, he started playing in 1860; I think he deserves some credit for that too.

His park factors in the NA (which already account for 1/2 of the games being on the road) are 91, 94, 99, 103, 105. So his parks hurt him the first 2 years a little more than they helped him his last two. The overall average is 98.4. His OPS+ in the NA were 137, 74, 82, 125, 129, at what was a pretty important defensive position considering there were no gloves. That's a 109.4 average, again nothing special, but it's not like he was terrible or anything. He was a pretty good player in the NA, the 23 WS estimate is reasonable.

Again it doesn't look like he has a great peak because the NL didn't even take off until he was 33. His career from age 33 on is as impressive as anyone on the ballot, hell it's up there with just about anyone in the history of baseball. I can't imagine he all of the sudden 'found it' at that point, especially when he had very good years in 1871, 74 and 75 and was generally considered a star before that. But like I said just give him modest numbers during the NA years, and his career value is extremely impressive without any credit for pre-1871 baseball.

Again, I only gave him credit for 23 WS per season in the NA, as he wasn't a great NA player (1 all-star team). To put his 244 WS after age 32 in perspective . . . Anson had 297 WS after age 32, Brouthers had 130, Connor 120. He posted 23 WS season at age 42 for Providence in 1885.

Let's put that in perspective. Bill James ran an aging pattern study in the Win Shares book . . . He came up with 148 players that had at least 280 WS and no more than 10 as a pitcher. This group ranged from Ron Cey, Campaneris, etc. to Ty Cobb.

18 of the 148, 3% were even in the majors at age 42. I think being able to be productive when older is a sign of a player was a star at his peak.

136 of 148 had their best year by age 33 (when Start's 'peak' starts). Was Start in the minority of about 8% that peak this late? Maybe, but I'd say the odds are obviously against it.

Interpolating another chart (James goes in 5 year increments, pg 202) a player with 379 career WS would be expect to have a peak best season of 37 WS. I think it's quite likely that had Start been born 10 years later we would have evidence that he was a great player in his 20s. His reputation says he was. I'm not going to say he wasn't because of 2 bad years in the NA. Note that I'm not giving extra credit when I 'adjust' him to 379 WS. Again I gave him very modest numbers for the NA years. But if you give him even more modest numbers for the year from 1860-70, his career value becomes even bigger.

Sorry for the rambling, I probably repeated myself a few times. By I just can't see how a player that was this good in his 30s was useless in his 20s. If you give him any reasonable credit for what he did before he was 33 I think you have to call him an all-time great.

Posted 5:02 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#145) - Andrew Siegel
Good job, Mark. That's a pretty strong case against Wright. I'm still going to stick with him 6th for the time being, however, for the following reason:

Clearly the positional adjustment doesn't move him ahead of Barnes, but I think it probably moves him ahead of every other position player for the NA years. He's closer in value to the number 10 guy than to number 1, but he's still the second best player in the history of the NA (with the possible exception of Spalding). In addition, he gets some points for his pre-NA days and a few more for his excellent 1876 season (at least according to WS). So, I've got a guy who was among the top five baseball players on the planet from 1869-1876 on a ballot that's not exactly brimming with talent. My next 3 guys are Ezra Sutton, Hardy Richardson, and Ed Williamson. Each of them had long distinguished careers, but they all also had big holes in their games. I think Wright is way ahead of them on talent, substantially ahead of them on peak, and still ahead of them-- though barely-- when peak and career are balanced.

Posted 6:25 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#146) - RobC
More on Joe Start:

I have a problem with the Minoso comparison. At age 28, Minoso was playing at the level he would play at for the next ten years. Looking at WARP, Start was slightly above replacement level for 1871-1873, and then jumped up for 1874-1885. Those 12 years by themselves put him right at the edge of career value that I was considering for the HOM. Its amazing for the age he was. He averaged more than 4 WARP3 or less than 5 WARP1 for age 31 to 42. But, not having the numbers for pre 1871, I (personally, YMMV, etc) have to consider that his play then was more like 71-73 than 74-85. That plus the lack of a special peak keep him out of my top 15.

Minoso we know was a good player pre 1951 (Im ignoring his appearances in 1949). Then, in 1951, he immediately proved it at the major league level. If we had no other evidence, I would (and will) assume a normal aging process for Minoso and give him some credit for his mid 20s.

Start looks like one of those weird exceptions who finally put it together at a late age. Normally its pitchers who do this but, well,
it does happen.

Posted 6:25 p.m., April 11, 2003 (#147) - TomH
quoting M McK: "Compare Wright to Fred Dunlap. They both played up middle infield, they both played the same amount of seasons, and they both played above average defense...Add in points for Dunlap for playing: a) in more real games"
There is a big difference between a gold glove shortstop and an abvove-average 2Bman (which was the 4th most demanding position in 1880). Also, Dunlap's extra games are purely a funciton of srbitrary seaosn lenght and lack of pre-1871 data. Wright played full time until 32. Dunlap was done and lapped after age 30. I woudl be stunned if we honored Dunlap before G Wright.

Posted 1:28 a.m., April 12, 2003 (#148) - John Murphy
One more thing about George Wright: He was considered the best player in baseball for a few years before the NA (which influenced my ranking of him). Considering that he was the best shortstop in the NA and for a few years in the NL, I would tend to believe the opinion of him back then.

Posted 10:13 a.m., April 12, 2003 (#149) - Mark McKinniss

1. I'm not advocating Fred Dunlap's induction.
2. If extra games are a "fiction", then by definition you believe that George Wright would have sustained a 210 OPS+ over 162 games had the season gone that long in 1871. Hogwash.
3. I may very well be wrong on the Dunlap v. Wright comparison. I've said many times that a lot of these players are marginally separated. The Wright v. Barnes comparison is the one that blows my mind. I don't see how anyone could possibly rank Wright over Barnes. The data is overwhelming. Wright was only 24 when he was playing in the NA, so how much credit are we to give him prior to the NA? Finally, I think people may be giving Wright too much of a positional adjustment. "Best SS of the 1870's" is an oft-seen comment. Uh, so what? numbers don't lie.

Posted 1:40 p.m., April 12, 2003 (#150) - John Murphy
"Best SS of the 1870's" is an oft-seen comment. Uh, so what? numbers don't lie.

As one who stated on his ballot "Best SS of the 1870s," let me just state that was only a description, not a reason in itself to honor Wright. Bert Campaneris was probably the best shortstop of the seventies: I have no intention of electing him on that basis.

As stated above, I included in my ranking Wright's Red Stocking work. I also took into account, besides a normal positional adjustment, a career adjustment for the position. Except for catchers, the attrition rate for shortstops was the worst of all position players. I know some here will disagree with this, but I'm comfortable with it.
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3061082)
Posted 8:06 p.m., April 12, 2003 (#151) - Howie Menckel
And the first balloting closes when?

Incidentally, I expect the next voting to be perhaps the most important we ever do. We're doing fine picking our first four, but we REALLY need to figure out a solid pecking order for the next round. Every place an old-timer drops in the next balloting is one step closer to oblivion. Radbourn, Start, Williamson, etc: We'll have to fine-tune the judgement on each.........

Posted 10:05 p.m., April 12, 2003 (#152) - John Murphy
It appears we are missing more than half of our members for this first election. What happened to them?

Posted 11:15 a.m., April 14, 2003 (#153) - Candy Cummings

It is much easier to sign up and express interest than it is to actual consider and rank the candidates.

I am surprised we retained as many voters as we did. I'm sure other will drop out over the long haul.

So, is the voting over? Did I win?

Posted 3:40 p.m., April 14, 2003 (#154) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Not to ruin the suspence Candy, but you finished 31st, with 1/6 of a 15th place vote and 1 point.

Good point on the number of ballots. I agree with you too, I'm pretty psyched that we had 29 ballots.

Posted 3:51 p.m., April 14, 2003 (#155) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
I also think that alot of people were intimidated by the task of trying to rank 19th century players. I myself am 28 years old, but I still feel extremely comfortable picking players from the 1930's and ranking them for all-time's sake. We have a wealth of information about these players and that increases the comfort level of just about everyone here. I personally wanted to be a part of this from the beginning, but will be very happy when we get 30 years into the future and I feel a little more comfortable in my knowledge of the players I am voting for. As it stands right now, I am fairly easily swayed by the arguments of others(if they make sense) and have not contributed to these arguments myself(for the most part). You can bet that when we get into the later years, I will be involved in some lengthy and passionate debates over this player or that. I'm just not sure enough of myself and my opinions of these 'really old-timers' to do that now. I think people will start to vote when we get into later seasons, particularly when we get the the players of the 60s, 70s and beyond. Just my take on the low turnout thus far. I am having fun learning about these players, despite my lack of confidence in ranking them.

Posted 3:53 p.m., April 14, 2003 (#156) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
Can We infer from your last post that the results of 1898 voting will be announced soon?

When will the 1899 discussion begin?

Posted 4:39 p.m., April 14, 2003 (#157) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Yes Carl. Right now I'm the equivalent of the person at the Oscar that typed the envelope. Once I get a confirmation tabulation that matches, the results will be released to the world . . . should be later tonight.

   104. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:34 AM (#3061084)
This thread is fully restored.
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