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Monday, May 05, 2003

1900 Ballot

After an excellent week of discussion, let the balloting for 1900 begin . . .

JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: May 05, 2003 at 01:23 AM | 105 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:32 PM (#3074127)
Posted 9:05 a.m., May 9, 2003 (#95) - Rusty Priske
I understand what you are saying about military service, and I have to admit that if I had to choose between two players who were otherwise close but one of them missed time due to the war, he would get the nod. But I just don't think giving a person full credit for baseball that wasn't played is the right thing to do.

As Matt said, it is even against the constitution.

Posted 10:09 a.m., May 9, 2003 (#96) - Marc
As Joe says, this is a lot trickier than it looks. There are a lot of reasons players fail to play more baseball games than they do.

Baseball related injury
Non-baseball related injury or illness (George Sisler, etc.)
Hold out for more money, or seek different employment for more money
Blacklisted, banned, etc. (Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, etc. etc.)
Lack of greater ability or skills, natural decline
Barred by racial discrimination
Fought in a war
Short seasons (not just 19th century but 1918, 1981, 1994, etc.)
Held back in minor leagues because of better players ahead of you, management misjudgement, etc. (Al Rosen, Lefty Grove, etc.)

I'm sure there are other reasons. I'm with Joe in the sense that we (many of us, at least) clearly do not treat all of these the same. Some of them get no extra credit at all and nobody would argue--e.g. injuries are part of the game, or your path to the major leagues is blocked by a better player or a more established player who may not even be better. Those are part of the game, tough luck (though some give Lefty Grove extra credit, I don't think he needs it).

We do adjust for short seasons, at least some of us. Of course, some only for the 19th century, others for 1918 and 1981. I assume we adjust for racial discrimination. In other words, we don't discount Josh Gibson because his competition wasn't the best, and we give extra credit to Jackie or Campy because they didn't play in the bigs until ages 27-28 (whatever) through no lack of ability of their own. And at least some of us give extra credit to players who missed time during WWII, especially if the time clearly came out of their peak years.

To those who give no extra credit for any of these things, I can understand that. To those who give George Sisler or Lefty Grove or players from 1981 extra credit, I understand though I disagree. (In '81 and '94 the players decided collectively to sit out, and yes, the owners perhaps forced them into that decision, but they still had the opportunity to make a decision, which players in '43 didn't have. Even George Sisler and Lefty Grove have a better case of lacking any control over their destinies.)

As to WWII, do we just fill in the blanks based on '42 and '46? What about Cecil Travis? Sure he didn't come back strong in '46 but, geez, he was an infantryman who froze his feet. Do we give X credit for that?

Anyway, my only point is that I can't imagine there's only one way to deal with all these issues (X credit/no X credit, half/full, etc. etc.). Just like Bill James, we all make subjective adjustments to or evaluations of the numbers. So I think these are freedom of conscience issues for each to decide.

The risk of freedom of conscience leading to some obviously inappropriate decision is virtually nil. My evidence is that the short 19th century seasons are just as tricky as anything, and so far we're doin' OK.

Posted 11:20 a.m., May 9, 2003 (#97) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
I agree Marc. This is why we vote, so that everyone can make their own decisions about these adjustments and rank their players accordingly. We all have to make subjective judgements about the objective facts that we're given and we are doing a hell of a job so far and I have every reason to expect that we will continue to do so. Also, I don't know if it was said in this trhead or the Centennial committee thread, but someone was concerned over how are elections would look to outsiders. ie, would others think we elected the 'right' players? To that, I can only say we are only in our 3rd election and we have already had several passionate debates, both about principles and specific players. This is a group that really cares about doing this right and attacks every problem(and some non-problems) head-on. It seems like we're all researching these players extremely thoroughly as well, which I think will continue when we start electing Negro-leaguers. I guess my point is that I don't think this concern is warranted. I don't expect players like George Kell to make the HoM. I'm sure I'll disagree with a few borderline guys who get in, but I don't expect any 'ridiculus' picks.

Posted 11:44 a.m., May 9, 2003 (#98) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Not a lot of time right now, but it is in no way un-Constitutional to adjust for time missing due to the war, or for short seasons, etc. Ted Williams was a great player from 1943-45 and in 1951 and 1952, whether he was in the major leagues or not. It was a condition of the time, beyond the player's control. These are players that were great when they played, frankly it's offensive (and I'm a peace flako, not a military guy at all) to not give credit 'accomplishments' during those years (Bill James said this in the first Historical Abstract and I agree with him wholeheartedly).

Marc summed my thoughts up pretty well. This has nothing to do with these guys being 'good guys' for serving their country. The fact that they were forced to do it should not be a demerit to them. How can this not be painfully obvious? It hits you like a truck. Saying that some guy leading a AAA team to the World Series in 1944 deserves more credit than a 25-year old Ted Williams or a 29-year old Joe DiMaggio is a joke.

On just about everything we've discussed over the last year, I've listened to both sides, changed my opinion, said, "hey, you've got a good point." But not on this one. I've got no room to give, I'm pretty rock-solid on this, I'm pretty confident no one's going to change my mind. Comparing John O'Rourke to Rizzuto or Williams or Reese is ludicrous. The other 3 have the framework of a Hall of Merit career with a 3-year chunk (5-years for Williams) stripped from them, due to no fault of their own (injuries, early death even - those are a player's fault, they are part of his skill set). O'Rourke was a star in other leagues, who played 3 years in the majors, there is no Hall of Merit framework there, it's completely different.

Posted 11:54 a.m., May 9, 2003 (#99) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
I agree that credit should be given and if the wording of the constitution makes it unconstitutional, then the constitution needs tweaking. I just adjust my adjustments slightly downward because of the unknown quantities involved. I'm not concerned over guys like Williams, DiMaggio, Feller, Greenberg, etc. They are in without any adjustments. I just want to make sure I'm not overrating the PeeWee Reeses' of the league by giving them too much credit for missed time.

Posted 12:15 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#100) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Just to clarify my thoughts, I pretty much agree with Carl. I'm not saying we 'predict' and MVP season or anything, I understand being reasonably conservative, but giving no credit would be against the Constitution (again that was the intent, maybe we need to tweak), not giving full credit.

Posted 12:45 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#101) - KJOK (e-mail)
The problem with giving "credit" to fictitous seasons is that the player simply did not provide any value to his team while other players WERE providing ACTUAL value. As good as Ted Williams probably would have been, he didn't help the Red Sox win. If there had not been a war and he had played, he might has suffered a career ending injury. Players such as Stan Musial, however, DID provide REAL value to their teams. To give Williams the same "credit" as Musial would be wrong.

Plus, I really don't see a particular need for adding anything to the existing record. It should be obvious from the years a player DID player whether or not he is worthy of the HOM.

Posted 1:04 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#102) - Jeff M
Quick response to Dan G's ballot comment about Al Spalding. There's nothing in Levine's biography of Spalding that indicates he had an arm problem in 1877. I'm not saying his arm was trouble-free; just that it isn't mentioned in Levine's biography, and it seems like the kind of thing that would have been mentioned. See my post on pitchers thread for purported reasons for retirement.

Dan G, did you find evidence somewhere that he had a bad arm in 1877?

Posted 1:37 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#103) - Rusty Priske
This makes sense.

I was not trying to argue that the players don't deserve to be recognized for what the w/c/should have done, just that I was under the impression that this is not what the Hall of Merit was set up to do. If the HoM Constitution is tweaked sufficiently, I certainly have no problem with giving those who missed time their just due (though, as Joe said, we aren't talking MVP levels here...)

Posted 1:47 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#104) - Jeff M
Quick response to Dan G's ballot comment about Al Spalding. There's nothing in Levine's biography of Spalding that indicates he had an arm problem in 1877. I'm not saying his arm was trouble-free; just that it isn't mentioned in Levine's biography, and it seems like the kind of thing that would have been mentioned. See my post on pitchers thread for purported reasons for retirement.

Dan G, did you find evidence somewhere that he had a bad arm in 1877?

Posted 1:55 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#105) - John Murphy
Quick response to Jeff M.: You double-posted. :-)

Posted 2:41 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#106) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"The problem with giving "credit" to fictitous seasons is that the player simply did not provide any value to his team while other players WERE providing ACTUAL value. As good as Ted Williams probably would have been, he didn't help the Red Sox win. If there had not been a war and he had played, he might has suffered a career ending injury."

Two things, first the fact that he didn't give any value to his team, because he was fighting a war is looking at things awfully cold and callously isn't it? We have to realize there are legitimate exceptions; very few exceptions of course, and this is clearly one of them. Musial's stats need to be devalued because he was competing against inferior competition.

As for the second part, about him suffering a career ending injury, give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Look at his surrounding years, and give him credit for playing 95% of the games he actually played or something. I don't see how you can say, 'there's a 1000:1 chance he might have suffered a career ending injury, so we're going to give him NO credit whatsoever."

"It should be obvious from the years a player DID player whether or not he is worthy of the HOM."

Not if your basis is career value. Take age 26-28 out of Tony Oliva's career and he becomes much less of a candidate for example.

Posted 2:47 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#107) - David
I agree with what Marc wrote. Certainly to give them no credit wouldn't adequately take into consideration the circumstances beyond their control. However, to give them full credit (even for a good, non-MVP type season) seems wrong to me too. As Marc said, we all have to make personal judgements on this. I don't quite know what my system will be - probably something like 75% (guess). But I think we can trust everyone who's been working hard on this project to really put some thought into what value they give to those players. If it really becomes a problem, we can cross that bridge when we get to it. But I don't see that happening.
   102. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:33 PM (#3074129)
Posted 3:00 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#108) - John Murphy
Musial's stats need to be devalued because he was competing against inferior competition.

This should be a no-brainer. The same goes for Newhouser, Holmes, Nicholson, etc. There is a definite quality of play issue here.

With that said, we're probably only talking 4 to 5 per cent comparing 1945 to 1946. We're not talking the UA here.

Posted 3:06 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#109) - Jeff M
And a mysterious double-posting it was, since I wasn't anywhere near a computer for the second posting. :)

Posted 10:37 p.m., May 9, 2003 (#110) - jimd
Some of this is repeat verbiage; some of this is new. (I was going to remove much of the repeat but we have a number of new voters who may not have read last year's ballots; I'll keep lobbying for the pitchers.)

1) C. Radbourn -- A close decision between 1 and 2. Pitchers dominate the early 1880's; there's no doubt that they are important in each game (the pitching records like no-hitters, perfect games, a 19 strike-out game all demonstrate this). Individuals also are close to complete staffs. My interpretation is that a great pitching season put a team in contention, even over an All-Star team which hit like Chicago. Radbourn is the best of this generation, the best P of 1882, 83, and 84.
2) G. Wright -- Giving him credit for his reputation as the best player in the country in the period 1867-70 before the NA started. The 1867 Washington Nationals were considered the best team that year, as were the famous 1869-1870 Cincinnati Red Stockings; he was a star on each, and the highest paid player on the Red Stockings.
3) J. M. Ward -- A long and valuable career (two careers really). His peak value is from his pitching days, though if he hadn't converted to SS he'd be borderline for the lower part of my ballot; just another good peak, short career P. His career value also gets a decided boost due to the extra pitching value he provided; if he didn't get that pitching boost, he'd be borderline with the other very-good IFs. The two-for-one combo is what makes him stand out; it gives him a better peak than the other IFs, and a better career than the other Ps. That said, he is not as good a P as Radbourn nor as good a SS as Wright. Hence the #3 ranking.
4) A. Spalding -- The hardest of these guys to place. He's a full-time hitter and a very good (but not great) one. As an OF, he'd be forgettable; as an IF, he'd be notable, but not this high. I'd lower him if somebody could give a compelling argument that SS or C was more valuable defensively than P during his career, but H.Wright was willing to pay him more for less hitting than Barnes and G.Wright, which leads me to believe that P was still the most important position defensively in the 1870's, and just got even more important as time went on.
5) J. Clarkson -- Better peak than Keefe with similar career value. I can't rank him with Radbourn though, the quality numbers that others are citing are exaggerated by the dilution of the league pitching quality caused by lengthening the schedules. He also doesn't benefit from the extra impact that the short schedules gave to Ps pre-1885 by enabling them to pitch the majority of a team's innings. It's a double-whammy that isn't Clarkson's fault, but it's there. People nowadays talk about how expansion has diluted today's pitching because of a 15% increase in innings due to expansion 1992-2002; how about a 325% increase in innings between 1879-1889 (more than triple)? I think it's this that is causing voters to overrate him relative to Radbourn. I also think that Clarkson deserves to be elected, in his turn; the best pitcher of 1885, 87, and 89.
6) T. Keefe -- His career value is comparable to Radbourn but Keefe doesn't have the peak. Peaks win pennants. Keefe was on more pennant-winning teams, but he also had better teammates (Connor, Ewing, Ward, O'Rourke, Welch, Tiernan vs. Hines & 41 yr-old Start).
7) H. Richardson -- I'm now willing to move him onto the other side of my in/out line.
8) P. Galvin -- Ditto. TangoTiger style thought experiment: suppose that they played Clarkson/Caruthers-length schedules (140 games) during Galvin's peak. Galvin's raw stats would stay the same. His ERA+ would be much better, because the Ps pitching all those extra innings would be replacement-level Ps (the #2 backup starters of the 84 game schedule), or worse (the #3 starters that couldn't get NL jobs at 84 games). His value to his team (in Wins) would improve somewhat due to the drop in replacement level. The impact of that value when compared to the position players would drop because the position players would be playing 140 games instead of 84, increasing their value. (Just another cut at explaining why WARP3 values early 1880's pitching so highly.)

Below are the guys that I might not have in my HOF, but then again I'm a small hall advocate, smaller than the one that exists now. These are the same rankings as in 1899; no particular reason for me to change them as yet.

9) C. Bennett -- It was a tough position to play back then.
10) J. Whitney -- Already detailed in length elsewhere. Did I mention he also led the league in Saves in 1883? (He had 2. :-)
11) J. Start -- Joe, your arguments in his favor have made me move him up as far as I can justify for somebody with an undocumented peak.
12) B. Caruthers -- Unique story but I have the same doubts about him as others seem to have about Spalding with respect to suspect league quality and "Pitching vs. Fielding". Foutz did a similar role almost as well at the same time; Caruthers left and St. Louis didn't miss a beat, replacing him with Silver King (but not his bat).
13) J. McCormick -- Another very-good early 1880's P.
14) H. Stovey -- Not a long enough career or dominant enough peak to place higher.
15) E. Sutton -- Another very good IF.

Just missing the cut are Ned Williamson, Tony Mullane, Fred Dunlap, Dickey Pearce, and Tommy Bond.

Posted 12:55 a.m., May 10, 2003 (#111) - MichaelD
Well, I promised not to wait to the last minute, this week, but I needed to get to the weekend. Really seems like the year of the pitcher here with Clarkson and Ward being added to my ballot which had a few pitchers who didn't get in the last few "years" -- not that I had them in the "in" group myself.

1. John Clarkson -- Seems like another no brainer pick to me. Seemed like clearly of the best pre-1993 pitchers.

2. Tim Keefe (3rd last time) At first I thought I shouldn't have two pitchers in the top two in a year with two getting in, but I don't think that reasoning makes sense.

3. George Wright (4)

4. Ezra Sutton (5)

5. John Ward (new) A tough guy to evaluate trying to put together ss with p years.

6. Hoss Radbourne (8) After seeing the discussion on pitchers, I feel more comfortable with my ordering of the pitchers and therefore felt comfortable having Radbourne pass some position players.

7. Ed Williamson (7)

8. Hardy Richardson (9)

9. Harry Stovey (6) I docked him a little since last time. I guess I am a little worried about the AA adjustment.

10. Joe Start (11)

11. Pud Galvin (not on ballot) The big mover after the pitcher discussion.

12. Al Spalding (13)

13. Pete Browning (10) Not moving him down as opposed to moving up the two pitchers.

14. Charlie Bennett (14)

15. Cal McVey (15)

Dropped off Bob Caruthers

I generally probably don't move people up and down a lot even if I feel like I should. I guess my previous thoughts still have some validity to my current rankings.

Posted 11:48 a.m., May 10, 2003 (#112) - John Murphy
We have two more people voting this election. That's a positive sign!

The difference between second, third and fourth is less than 40 points. With only one really strong new candidate next "year," it should be very interesting.

Posted 8:18 p.m., May 10, 2003 (#113) - Ken Fischer
Since I appear to be the only person voting for Bobby Mathews, I want to point out that Roger Clemens went ahead of the NY Mutuals/Philadelphia A's star today with win # 298!

Posted 11:25 p.m., May 10, 2003 (#114) - Esteban Rivera
I have reevaluated some of the candidates and have moved them up and down accordingly:

1. John Clarkson - The best pitcher on this ballot. Definitely deserves the number one spot for his excellence.

2. Tim Keefe - All the recent discussions about pitchers have made me flip flop Hoss and Keefe. Maintained quality over his career. Barely ahead of Radbourne in my evaluation of pitchers.

3. Charles Radbourne - Drops to three for now. I still believe what he accomplished at his peak and after, even with a somewhat bum arm, is unbelievable.

4. Al Spalding - I put Al Spalding here because of his dominance during his time. His hitting was good and, even though he did benefit from having great teammates, that doesn't negate his talent. I mean, the man may have gotten a lot of run support but he was always near the top in ERA.

5. George Wright - One of the first great players. Ranks here because of the credit given for his pre-NA years.

6. Ezra Sutton - Best third baseman of the 19th century according to my interpretation of the numbers.

7. John Ward - His combination as a great pitcher and shortstop definitely make him a HOMer. But at the moment, I put more weight on a one barrel shot with full force than a two barrel shot of lesser force.

8. Joe Start - Was the best "old" player of his time.

9. Cal McVey - Finally feel that I am giving him the respect he deserves. I strongly feel McVey is a HOMer.

10. Hardy Richardson - Was the top second basemen of his time.

11. Charlie Bennett - Best catcher available. His defense was excellent and his hitting great for a full time catcher, even if his numbers are uneven. Campanella was pretty uneven during his career and not many people discredit his greatness as a catcher.

12. Lip Pike - One of the best players in early baseball. definitely deserves more attention.

13. Bob Caruthers - Excelled in both pitching and hitting. Something that definitely deserves merit.

14. Harry Stovey - Find him and Browning to be the same type. AA discount but better defense has him just ahead.

15. Pete Browning - Great hitter but defense and AA discount land him just behind Stovey.
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:33 PM (#3074130)
Posted 2:05 a.m., May 11, 2003 (#115) - DanG
"Dan G, did you find evidence somewhere that he had a bad arm in 1877?"

No, it's purely conjecture. I notice Spalding moving from pitcher to first base at age 26. Chicago had lost catcher Deacon White after 1876. Cal McVey was moved from first to catcher for 1877 and they acquired a top pitcher, George Bradley, for 1877.

Presumably, Bradley was acquired because the decision to move Spalding was already made. The question is, was this done because Spalding could no longer pitch well, or was it because they decided he was their best option to play first base?

Like Jeff, I'm just wondering if anyone knows.

Posted 3:31 p.m., May 11, 2003 (#116) - John Murphy
The AA boys took a big hit (especially Stovey). Ed Williamson lost the biggest chunk of support.

Pud Galvin is the Comeback Kid (and Dickey Pearce makes his slow, but certain, rise up! :-) )

Posted 2:30 p.m., May 12, 2003 (#117) - jimd
Jeff, DanG: the order of those transactions (for 1876/7 Chicago) is something I'd really like to know too. It's a fascinating reshaping of that championship team, in part because it failed.

One thing to take into account though. If you read much about Chicago's owner, William Hulbert, he's very much in the Steinbrenner mold. I wouldn't put it past him to have signed Bradley because he was the best player on 2nd place St. Louis, reasoning the signing weakened the competition, and leave it to manager Spalding to figure out how to fit everything together afterwards.

Posted 3:17 p.m., May 12, 2003 (#118) - John Murphy
Al Spalding blew out his arm (according to Baseball Library).
   104. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:35 PM (#3074132)
This thread is re-restored back to the way it originally was before it was destroyed, not once, but twice.
   105. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: February 11, 2009 at 10:44 PM (#3075000)
Thanks John!
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