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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, July 07, 2003

1905 Ballot Discussion

I haven’t finished tabulating the 1904 results yet, we’ll get those up a little later, but there’s no reason we can’t get the 1905 discussion going.

I’ll be at the SABR Convention this week, from Wednesday to Sunday, if you’re also there, stop by and say hello!

That will obviously limit my input this week, but I’ll try to check in when I can.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: July 07, 2003 at 04:40 PM | 157 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. OCF Posted: July 10, 2003 at 05:53 PM (#515164)
Richardson as Rod Carew? Hmm. So how do both Sutton and McPhee stack up on a scale that includes Frank White, Gary Gaetti, and Brooks Robinson?
   102. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: July 10, 2003 at 06:17 PM (#515165)
OCF

It's interesting...I'm trying to find modern comparables for the players on my ballot to get a better grip on their careers. I actually have Sutton as a close comp to Darrell Evans. Their AVG+/OBP+/SLG+/OPS+ marks are nearly identical, both were very good defenders at third base, and both had long careers.

(Adjusted to the 162-game season, Sutton played over 2600 games in his career, over 1800 at third base.)

Another one I have is Jim Whitney = Luis Tiant + a good bat.
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2003 at 06:51 PM (#515167)
Sure it does, built into the fielding side.

Chris Cobb explained my position pretty well. There is no career positional adjustment. There's a big difference between Dan Brouthers playing 19 years at first base (for the most part) and Ezra Sutton playing 18 seasons at third (almost).

As for peak (which is Joyce's strength), I still think that the player at the easier position will wind up with more WS than the more demanding ones during the season. It doesn't take into account wear-and-tear (which results in less playing time).
   104. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2003 at 07:00 PM (#515168)
McPhee was probably a bit better defensively and played longer, but Hardy was a much better hitter; only a very strong preference for career value could put McPhee higher IMO.

But McPhee played about six more seasons (99% at second). That's a big difference. Defensively, contemporary opinion and statistics point to McPhee as the best second baseman of that century. Those are impressive credentials that, IMO, trump Richardson's bat.
   105. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2003 at 07:07 PM (#515171)
Aren't modern comps, beyond being ofttimes misleading, a bit of a trip down the wrong path?

Agreed on both counts.
   106. Marc Posted: July 10, 2003 at 07:51 PM (#515172)
My point was not whether Hardy Richardson is better than Rod Carew or not. It was that he was not a bum because he played some OF.
   107. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2003 at 07:51 PM (#515173)
More on Levi "Long Levi" Meyerle:

He started his career with the Geary of Philadelphia club as a pitcher. It doesn't state what club he was on the next year (so I'm not sure if he played), but he joined the Philadelphia Athletics in '69 as "first substitute" (playing catcher, pitcher, third and right for 34 out of the 49 A's games). The following season saw him as a third baseman and pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings (being paid $1500). By this time, he was recognized as one of the best hitters in the game.

As a fielder, he wasn't much. Contemporary opinion felt he was so-so.

His career (except for a "comeback" in the UA in 1884) ended after he sprained his ankle in 1877. He was never the same player after that.
   108. OCF Posted: July 10, 2003 at 08:08 PM (#515174)
Aren't we supposed to look at these candidates as though we were voting in 1905, to the best of our abilities?

Just this last year, Lajoie hit .376/.413/.546 and Wagner .349/.423/.520. We don't know how much longer either of them will last, but we know that none of those old-time infielders are ever going to measure up to that level, so maybe we'll have to compare them to some active or recently retired guys like Jimmy Collins, Lave Cross, Bill Dahlen, Herman Long, John McGraw and so on.
   109. Jeff M Posted: July 10, 2003 at 08:51 PM (#515175)
Tom H: In context, Sutton is a much better hitter than McPhee, Williamson and Bennett. And Browning and Stovey were outstanding hitters, even with an AA discount. So was McVey, even with a short career and some missing documentation.

Otherwise I basically agree with the things you've said about the hitters/fielders. We see A LOT of credit given to fielding, and it is certainly more warranted in this era than later eras, but fielding never rises to more than approximately 1/3 of the game (using someone's calculation that fielding was 70% of defense and assuming defense is 48% of the total package -- don't hold me to these numbers, they are just near-guesses)...so great fielding never entirely makes up for a poor bat.

Sutton, Stovey and McVey will remain high on my current ballot. McPhee will be about mid-way and should eventually be elected. Browning will remain in the teens, dragged down more by his short career than by his questionable defense. Williamson and Bennett have never been on my ballot, and never will be.

This isn't really related to the points above, but I happen to be reading Peter Golenbock's "Wrigleyville" and it is shocking how many times either Golenbock or one of the quoted Cubs' players says "I can't believe he isn't in the Hall of Fame" or "It's a crime he isn't in the Hall of Fame." These phrases are used variously in connection with everyone who ever played infield for the Cubs through the 1945 season (including Woody English, Charlie Grimm, etc.), every catcher (Kling and Archer) and most of the outfielders (Slagle, Sheckard and Stephenson). Granted, there are many players who ought to be considered for the HOM from those early Cubs teams (Evers, Chance, Wilson, Cuyler, Hartnett, maybe Stephenson, etc. etc.), but enough already.

Has anyone else noticed the shocking number of typos that appear in Golenbock's books? Spirit of St. Louis must have been edited by a 10 year old.
   110. Chris Cobb Posted: July 10, 2003 at 09:28 PM (#515176)
Jeff wrote: In context, Sutton is a much better hitter than McPhee, Williamson and Bennett. . . Bennett have never been on my ballot, and never will be.

I'm not sure where you're getting this view of Charlie Bennett's offense. My reading of the numbers is that he was, in his prime, at least as good a hitter as Sutton, and for their careers they were pretty much equal.

Name: Career OPS+/ 5 best consecutive OPS+

Sutton: 119 / 148, 163, 149, 108, 113
   111. Jeff M Posted: July 10, 2003 at 09:51 PM (#515177)
I'll have to respond when I'm not at work and I have the numbers in front of me, but Bennett does not impress me. I'm willing to look at him again of course. I have to say, though, that OPS+ means nothing to me.
   112. jimd Posted: July 10, 2003 at 10:01 PM (#515178)
There is no career positional adjustment.

Agreed without question. Obviously, I thought you were talking about something else entirely, i.e, a "positional adjustment" to each season's batting Win Shares for Joyce because "third-basemen hit less than first-basemen".

I'm not sure I buy into the concept of applying career positional adjustments to insure equal representation. I know that catcher has an obvious wear-and-tear issue, but it's less than obvious at some other positions. Maybe it's just that defensive skills deteriorate more quickly more often than the batting eye? If so, then why adjust for that?

This is an issue that I haven't thought much about, so I'm quite willing to listen to any arguments, pro and con.
   113. Chris Cobb Posted: July 11, 2003 at 04:17 AM (#515181)
jimd wrote: I'm not sure I buy into the concept of applying career positional adjustments to insure equal representation. I know that catcher has an obvious wear-and-tear issue, but it's less than obvious at some other positions. Maybe it's just that defensive skills deteriorate more quickly more often than the batting eye? If so, then why adjust for that?

If we look at modern players, it sure looks to me like it's not just that defensive skills deteriorate more quickly than batting skills in the natural aging process. Players at tough defensive positions have had wear and tear on their bodies from playing their positions that players at easy positions don't. That affects their whole game and the shape of their career. Look at Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. It seems clear to me that the demands of Biggio's defensive position have affected the shape of his career in ways that the demands of Bagwell's position have not affected his. Number-crunchers could surely do a study of playing time that would show that players at demanding defensive positions miss more games than players at easy ones. I think we have to assess the value of the player in positional context as well as historical context: is this player as valuable as a second baseman could be, given the limits on durability placed on him by his defensive position? There's no single, absolute standard of baseball merit.
   114. Philip Posted: July 11, 2003 at 09:17 AM (#515182)
I'll be away next week so here is my 1905 ballot. Joe, could you post this one for me next week?

1. Start (1) -- Even being very modest about his peak years in the 60?s, he is the top candidate.
   115. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 11, 2003 at 03:19 PM (#515186)
His defense was truly atrocious. As a third baseman he was a joke, with fielding averages .050 worse than almost any other regular and .100 or more below most of the other HoM contenders, and with range factors that were almost as putrid.

He committed a huge amount of errors at his position, but the contemorary view of him was that he was mediocre, not horrible. I think we can agree he wasn't Nash. :-) Since range factor has problems, I'll stick with the view of his peers unless persuaded not to.

His career is even shorter than it looks. Giving him credit for the two seasons he played on top amateur clubs, he played nine seasons at a high level. However, in three of those nine seasons (1869, 1872, 1877) he did not play a full season (34/49 games, 27/44, 27/57). So his total playing time is somewhere around 7.75 seasons. My seat-of-the-pants WS guesstimate gives him about 240 WS.

I agree that he played nine seasons at the highest level (and now have made adjustments for this). I'll probably knock him down a slot or two to #13 or #14. He'll be off my ballot in a couple of seasons.
   116. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: July 11, 2003 at 03:31 PM (#515188)
Very preliminary:

1. Charley Radbourn
   117. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: July 11, 2003 at 03:45 PM (#515189)
In fact, on Bennett, I am seriously thinking of taking the wear-and-tear aspect of gloveless catching into account more carefully and move him up the ballot a little more.

Bill Lange was a very good, even great player, but for too short a time. His stats look great in the big-hitting 90s, though. Butthe peak isn't high enough to compensate for the early retirement.

If you were compiling a list of the top 100 pure athletes ever to step on a major league field, I'm pretty sure Lange would be on that list, maybe even high on the list. Lange was like Dave Parker with Willie Wilson's legs.
   118. Marc Posted: July 11, 2003 at 04:19 PM (#515190)
My view is that Thompson and Tiernan are "the same player" in the same way that Drysdale and Pappas are.
   119. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 11, 2003 at 04:36 PM (#515191)
My view is that Thompson and Tiernan are "the same player" in the same way that Drysdale and Pappas are.

If you trust WARP3, then you are right. If you trust Win Shares more (as I do), then the Drysdale/Pappas comparison doesn't wash.

I have Thompson as the best major league rightfielder for '87, '93, and '95 while Tiernan as the best for '88, '89, and '90 (best centerfielder). Tiernan doesn't look like Pappas to me here.
   120. Marc Posted: July 11, 2003 at 04:49 PM (#515192)
John (and Joe and whomever), you know what we really need here? A thread on WARP, a tutorial on WARP. No, I don't trust WARP (my rating of Thompson over Tiernan is based on the shape of the career and especially the peak[s] and my reading of their defensive value [Thompson not bad at all]), I don't even understand WARP much less WARP1-2-3. Sounds too much like some office software if you ask me.

To clarify--WARP means wins above replacement, so far so good. And if they are wins above replacement vs. wins above zero (WS), then the numbers will be smaller than WS numbers, and they are. I'm still OK. But, now WARP2 and 3 make (what?) timeline and position and park and ? adjustments, but which make which?

But even beyond that, why do the rankings change among players like Thompson and Tiernan? Obviously the underlying formulae are different, too, not just the adjustments.

So it would be great--and I know it would involve some work on somebody's part--but it would be great if a FOWARP would start a thread, run through a tutorial, provide links to the WARP data, etc. As long as some of us are voting WS and some WARP (over and above all the other philosophies varieties of ratings like peak vs. career, and tools, etc.), there will never be consensus. (Of course there will never be consensus regardless, that being a totally idealistic concept.)
   121. jimd Posted: July 11, 2003 at 05:11 PM (#515193)
Joe put together a good explanation of some of this here.

This is a link here to some of my disagreements in the interpretation of
   122. jimd Posted: July 11, 2003 at 07:40 PM (#515194)
Here's a link to a general write-up by Davenport about his player cards.

To find the various WARPed statistics, go to Baseball Prospectus' web-site, type your player of the moment into the "Player Search" box (upper right), and enjoy reading the numbers (practically all of the raw stats are there on the player card, too). Clicking on most of the column heads give you (sometimes cryptic) definitions for the stat.

Tip: O'Neill can be found using the name o=neill, for some strange reason. Same for o=rourke, etc.
   123. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 12, 2003 at 06:42 AM (#515196)
My preliminary ballot:

1. Spalding
   124. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 12, 2003 at 03:09 PM (#515198)
3. Stovey

I don't remember what analytical formula (formulas?) you rely on, but Bid McPhee had almost the same amount of Win Shares as Stovey when adjusting for schedule (while playing the more demanding position). They both weren't great peak guys, so Stovey doesn't get an additional boost here over Bid. I would ask you to take a close look at him again.
   125. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 12, 2003 at 05:55 PM (#515201)
McPhee had a 271 lifetime average, and slugged only 372. That?s 89 points lower than Stovey.

But Stovey was playing the much easier positions. Compare McPhee to the other second baseman around him and you get a different picture.

Bid (and Sutton) was greater than the replacement level for his position than Stovey was. That is what you need to know when you rank the players on your ballot.
   126. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2003 at 06:09 PM (#515202)
Re: Stovey wasn't a great peak guy. No so. He had a very fine peak, it's just it was in the AA, so it gets discounted somewhat. During the time they were in the AA together, Stovey was the more valuable of the two. McPhee's best years came later, in the NL.

Having spoken up against the a casual dismissal of Stovey, I would agree with others that leaving McPhee off the ballot does not seem justifiable to me, esp. in favor of Mike Griffin and Fred Dunlap.
   127. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2003 at 08:49 PM (#515204)
Two issues here. First, the value of 2B as a defensive position, and second, McPhee's value relative to Dunlap and Richardson, considering their higher peaks.

Value of 2B defense:

Second base was somewhat less important defensively in the nineteenth-century game, but it was still considerably more valuable than the corner outfielders.

B. James reckons early 2b to be about 13% of the defense. The outfield as a whole is 29% -- typically, the CF claims half that value, about 14% for CF, say 8% for LF and 6% for RF. So the defense of a 2B about equal to CF and up to twice as valuable as the defense of a RF.

Moreover, even if the value of 2B relative to other positions was lower, the value of all defensive positions was higher in the nineteenth century, so the value of an outstanding defender was proportionately greater. I think WARP3 overstates McPhee's value somewhat, but I'm certain WS underestimates significantly, and it still shows McPhee as even with Richardson and _way_ ahead of Dunlap in pennants added.

Second, peak and career, or Dunlap vs. McPhee

Dunlap's peak is higher than McPhee's, but it must be remembered that Dunlap was an above average player for only seven years total, where McPhee was notably above average (I use 20 adj. WS as a sign of above avg. play) for twelve years.

Over the first ten years of his career, McPhee was about 90% the player Dunlap was (223 adj. WS to 250 adj. Ws) over his entire 10 year career. McPhee then went on to earn 160 more win shares in 8 seasons, including his two best seasons. To rate Dunlap higher because he had two seasons better than McPhee ever had seems to me completely indefensible.

Richardson I can see rating ahead of McPhee. In his best 10 consecutive seasons, he earned 274 adj. WS -- he was 20% better than McPhee over this stretch, and he picked up another 64 WS in his other four seasons. He was an all star for a decade, and an average player for about four years. I think McPhee's defense, underrated by WS, brings him closer to Richardson in peak and farther ahead in career value, so I rate him slightly ahead of Richardson, but sorting those two out is what we should be doing over on the McPhee-Richardson thread.
   128. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 13, 2003 at 12:03 AM (#515205)
Re: Stovey wasn't a great peak guy. No so. He had a very fine peak, it's just it was in the AA, so it gets discounted somewhat. During the time they were in the AA together, Stovey was the more valuable of the two. McPhee's best years came later, in the NL.

I meant that Stovey wasn't a GREAT peak guy. He obviously had a significant peak, but he was the best player at his position in the majors twice (while McPhee was once). We're not comparing Bid to Dan Brouthers or Sliding Billy here.

<i>1. Richardson
   129. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 13, 2003 at 07:13 PM (#515207)
6. everyone in Saberland is inferring my idiocy.

I'll speak for myself to say that I was inferring any idiocy on your part. We just feel that you are missing the true value of McPhee.

Dunlap had half the career of McPhee. To post Sure Shot above him, you have to value peak incredibly high, while career very low. Dunlap, even if you discount some of his '84 season, had the higher peak between the two. If you are weighing peak in this manner, while I would disagree with this approach, there is no rule against it. For the most part, the qualities that a HoMer needs is subjective.

2. Are we or are we not expected to discount the AA in relation to the NL?

Unquestionably.

Bid McPhee was consistently above average (and near the top) for an incredible amount of time for a player at his position in that era. That deserves to be recognized, IMO.
   130. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 13, 2003 at 07:14 PM (#515208)
2. Are we or are we not expected to discount the AA in relation to the NL?

Unquestionably

That should read: Unquestionably yes.
   131. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2003 at 10:11 PM (#515209)
Redsox: Certainly I was not at all inferring your idiocy, but you've reached some conclusions with I think are significantly off the mark, so I'm arguing the contrary case as clearly as I can. Your questions are excellent, and insofar as we can find answers to them that make sense, we're more likely to come to more supportable conclusions about how to rank these players.
   132. Jeff M Posted: July 13, 2003 at 11:10 PM (#515212)
I've written about the AA discount in numerous other posts. I'm in the camp that discounts on a season-by-season basis, but not at the levels that BP does. I do not discount 1886-1888, as I can see no convincing evidence that the AA was noticeably weaker. There is some evidence that the AA is stronger in a couple of those seasons. I also think the AA was very weak at the back end, as well as the front end. Players were flocking out of the AA as the league was collapsing (and as Spalding increased the pressures).

I have two MAJOR problems with BP's discount as published above: (1) we don't know how it is derived and (2) isn't the NL in those same years discounted, since BP is making an overall timeline adjustment to all seasons? (see for example the Players League, which is probably stronger than either the NL or AA in 1890)

As for (1), this is important, because you have to know where to apply the BP discount. To the raw numbers? To the RC, WS or WARP?

As for (2), take a look at the WARP2 adjustment for Bid McPhee's 1889 AA season. The timeline adjustment is about 38%. Take a look at the WARP2 adjustment for Jake Beckley's 1889 season in the NL. The timeline adjustment is about 33%. Does that mean the AA was 5% worse or 15% worse? How does the 8% number from above come into play? I suggest we be very very careful with such numbers, as there are some significant players from the AA that we are considering (e.g., Stovey, Browning and McPhee).

I use these numbers: 17% (1882), 11% (1883), 6% (1884), 5% (1885), None (1886-1888), 5% (1889), 16% (1890), 24% (1891). I've examined standard deviations, the stats of players who played in both leagues and similar information. I can't say that any of it produces any kind of definitive discount, but I feel like those discounts work pretty well. In the 1886-1888 years, sometimes there's a 1-3% discount that I think is within acceptable error, and it 1886, arguably the NL was a little bit worse (but again within acceptable error).

I discount the UA by 29% (which may be too small, but that's a BIG discount). I also discount the first year of the NA by 5% because things were pretty unorganized and I'm not sure the talent pool had ramped up. I also apply modest discounts to the last two years of the NA, because the standard deviations and mean RC numbers are suddenly oddly skewed. I don't think the transition from the NA to the NL is as smooth as we thought. It's just that the great players we evaluate seem to have done it smoothly.
   133. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 13, 2003 at 11:15 PM (#515213)
I'll speak for myself to say that I was inferring any idiocy on your part. We just feel that you are missing the true value of McPhee.

Aha !!! I thought so.

Umm... I meant to say that I wasn't inferring any idiocy on your part. I am now inferring that I need to proofread my posts a little bit better. :-)
   134. MattB Posted: July 14, 2003 at 01:00 AM (#515214)
"James doesn't give a detailed explanation of how he gets these numbers, but he does explain that he reverses the weighting of 3B and 2B from the modern game (where he rates them at 12% and 16%, respectively) for two reasons: higher errors and lower DP in the early game make 3B the more demanding of the two positons;"

This is likely fairly accurate, but the general rule just doesn't apply to McPhee. There weren't a lot of double plays in 19th century ball, but McPhee turned 1186 of them. And McPhee regularly had among the lower error rates at second. As I said in a previous post, would you discount Mike Piazza's home runs because hitting is not that important for catchers today? Of course not.

McPhee played second base in a way much more like it is played today than like the average 19th century second baseman played it. 12% might be right as a general rule, but when McPhee played, he may have been responsible for much more than that.
   135. Marc Posted: July 14, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#515215)
Hey redsox: my two cents worth.

Yes the AA is discounted on a season by season basis and the numbers range all the way from 30% to 0%. For a player who played 10 years in the AA and did not play anywhere else, that would be about 17% except that there is no such player. The biggest discounts I have (I think, going from memory) are 8% for Browning and a couple others.

I use the term "discount" to represent a league that is not as good as another league operating at the SAME time. This is different from a "timeline."

A "timeline adjustment" discounts a league because it is not as good as some league at SOME OTHER time. I do not discount (or more properly, I do not timeline adjust) the NL during the same period, nor do I timeline the NA, etc. They each were "the standard" at the time, the best competition available at the time. It is silly to say that Ross Barnes or Al Spalding should have played against better competition. It was not possible, they faced the best competition available. (Harry Stovey et al did not. They could have played against better competition.)

The opposite of a "timeline adjustment" is "a pennant is a pennant (except for pennants that are discounted)," which means that if my grandpa's favorite team won a pennant it was just as valid as my Minnesota Twins in '65, '69, '70, '87, '91 and '02.
   136. Marc Posted: July 14, 2003 at 02:23 AM (#515216)
PS. And even if you like the idea of a timeline adjustment, can you really defend an adjustment (a reduction in the recorded value) of 33-38 percent for 1889? I think that is ridiculous. This is why, as of yet, I do not use WARP.

Think about it. In another 20 years, you actually have to adjust 1889 a little more to make up for the fact that today's standard will be adjusted so that it is below that of 2023. In another 100 years what adjustment will Bid McPhee face? 50%? 75%? In another 100 years there will not be a single player from the 19th century in the top 1000 of all time. In another 200 year there will not be a player from the 20th century in the top 200?

Does this make sense? No it doesn't and within the context of HoM, it is unconstitutional! ;-)
   137. Howie Menckel Posted: July 14, 2003 at 02:42 AM (#515217)
Not trying to be provocative, but....
   138. Brian H Posted: July 14, 2003 at 03:58 AM (#515218)
Howie -
   139. Marc Posted: July 14, 2003 at 01:29 PM (#515221)
>It strikes
   140. Howie Menckel Posted: July 14, 2003 at 02:24 PM (#515222)
I'm falling into the "McPhee's not a first-ballot HOMer" camp, not to create an artificial class a la the HOF but merely to reflect that his career needs to be mulled for more than just a week.
   141. Chris Cobb Posted: July 14, 2003 at 03:01 PM (#515224)
Andrew -- I think most of your assessment of McPhee is on target, but your estimate of how far WS undervalues defense is too low. It may be slightly low for second base, but it's way too low for defense in general, and this underestimation of the importance of defense hurts the value of top-notch defenders like McPhee more than any other players.

Here's how I'm making a defensive adjustment (I welcome criticisms that point out something wrong with this reasoning): James weights his system towards a 67%/33% division of win shares between pitchers and fielders. There's considerable evidence, as the group has long discussed, that the split should tip towards the fielders more the farther you go forward, but with a 50/50 split being a reasonable estimate across the 1880s and 1890s. So, pitchers' WS are about 20% too high -- we reduce them by 17-20%. Fine. But my algebra tells me that, in consequence, I should adjust fielders' WS upwardsby 50%, to get their 33% share up to 50%. McPhee has the most defensive win shares of any nineteenth-century player, so his value is very significantly increased.

Since we don't know for sure what the split between pitchers and fielders is, and since we don't know exactly how far James's team-by-team calculations already adjust fielders' win shares in the right direction, I don't adjust fielding WS upward by 50% -- I use a much more conservative 30% upward adjustment, which I apply to all players' fielding win shares.

With this adjustment applied (along with AA adjustments), I get McPhee with about 405 career win shares, with a peak of 30-32 (I don't have my season-by-season figures at work).

Applying the same adjustments to Richardson, he comes out about 360 career win shares. His peak is still substantially better than McPhee's, however, so I still rate him slightly ahead of Bid. I have Richardson at #6 right now, McPhee at #8, with Charley Radbourn wedged between them.

So I'd argue that McPhee should be higher than 11; right now he's a mid-ballot but not yet top-of-ballot player. What cases for placing McPhee would others make? Why do I have him too high or too low?
   142. Howie Menckel Posted: July 14, 2003 at 05:28 PM (#515227)
Joe,
   143. Marc Posted: July 15, 2003 at 02:21 AM (#515229)
>Pedro in 2000? Gee, could he have pitched 600 innings?
   144. jimd Posted: July 15, 2003 at 03:22 PM (#515230)
Pedro, no. Kim? Maybe...
   145. Marc Posted: July 16, 2003 at 01:15 PM (#515231)
I know, nag, nag, nag. But one of the things that worries me about this HoM project is that we enjoy our role as rebels, outsiders, revolutionaries, rabble-rousers, etc., a little too much. The baseball establishment doesn't respect us, doesn't understand us, we're the wave of the future, and so on.

And that expresses itself as that we enjoy snubbing conventional wisdom a little too much, we like electing people who are not in the Cooperstown HoF too much, or we like electing guys who might be in Cooperstown but who waited a long time, who clearly were not regarded very highly by the old baseball establishment. So Glasscock goes in and Radbourn waits. McPhee (perhaps) goes in with shocking ease while Sam Thompson probably never makes it.

I should talk...but I hope we can check that 'tude at the door to the plaque room.
   146. Carl Goetz Posted: July 16, 2003 at 06:10 PM (#515232)
What do we know about Lip Pike prior to the NA? Number of seasons? Was he considered a top player? I'm sure this has been said before, I just don't remember where. I feel that if I'm going to make conservative guesses for Start and Spalding, I should give Pike the same treatment.

ps Somebody mentioned McVey's pre-NA career. I wasn't aware he had a significant 1. Same questions for McVey as Pike.
   147. DanG Posted: July 16, 2003 at 07:18 PM (#515234)
Sam: Nobody knew how many RBI you had until after you were deceased. (Apparently, there ARE computers in the afterlife.) After the publication of the MacMillan Encyclopedia in 1969 revealed your RBI totals to the general public, your election became inevitable.

You were also a second-tier star, so your waiting period was hardly out of line with your value.
   148. Jeff M Posted: July 16, 2003 at 09:52 PM (#515236)
John and Jason (response to a couple of 1905 ballot comments): Would be interested to hear more about the positional distribution. What underlies this concept? In other words, why do you think talent is evenly distributed around the ballfield over the decades? I'm not attacking the assumption. I just want to explore the theory.

I'm going to use 3b as an example only. If prior posts are any indication, this example will most certainly be read by some as me categorically stating a fact about the 3b position. I will be torn to shreds shortly enough, but I am not not stating any of this as fact. I want to explore the positional distribution concept.

We can probably acknowledge without much argument that 3b is harder to play defensively than 1b and that defense at 3b has become less important over the years. Nevertheless, I'm not sure the defensive talent at 3b saves a tremendous number of runs or ever has. Sure it saves some, and more than 1b, but not a tremendous number (relative to, say, someone's offensive production). In other words, 3b may be a reasonably difficult position, but in theory it may not add up to much from a runs/wins perspective.

Anyway, assume for a minute that there are fewer truly outstanding hitters at 3b than certain other positions -- I'm not stating this as fact; just as a proposition, because 3b is not well represented in the HOF. It is certainly possible that they don't hit as well, b/c not everybody can play 3b well, so maybe you don't have to hit as well to earn a spot at 3b. Or maybe when a guy has quick reflexes and a strong arm, you tend to put him at 3b regardless of how he hits.

If any of that is reasonably true, does it mean that 3b ought to be equally represented in the HOF or the HOM? With all candidates, the defense has to rise to extraordinary levels to make up for an average or below-average bat. At tougher defensive positions, that argument is easier to make. But the analysis can't be simply that defense was excellent + bat was average therefore = very good (and Jason and John, I'm not claiming that's your analysis). The runs saved on defense plus runs produced on offense ought to be in HOMer territory for election.

How would something like that fit into the positional distribution? I haven't studied it, and I'm not stating this as fact, but I think it is reasonably likely that 3b has not received an even distribution of talent over the years when evaluating runs saved on defense + runs produced on offense -- and therefore, might have fewer HOMers. I think it is possible that this is true, to a lesser degree, for catchers too (especially today, when most do not truly manage the pitchers during the games, so there are fewer intangibles to their credit).

Okay, now putting on my helmet (by the way, Sutton is #1 on my ballot this time).
   149. Jeff M Posted: July 16, 2003 at 09:58 PM (#515237)
Didn't see this before, but see also Craig B's post #1 on the 2b vs. 3b before 1920 thread.
   150. Chris Cobb Posted: July 17, 2003 at 04:14 AM (#515239)
re: we enjoy snubbing conventional wisdom a little too much, we like electing people who are not in the Cooperstown HoF too much

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I don't take the conventional wisdom into account one way or the other. I'm trying to use the analytical tools we have available to get as clear a picture of what actually mattered in the nineteenth-century game in order to identify the best players in it and honor their accomplishments a little. I think we all have a tendency to become emotionally committed to supporting players whose value we think we have recognized and others haven't, but my observation is that folks in the group remain remarkably open-minded and ready to reconsider their rankings as better information and more reasonable arguments are presented. It's especially difficult when the players I see as the best aren't getting as much support as I think they should. But I hope you won't lose trust in the process!
   151. Jeff M Posted: July 17, 2003 at 01:04 PM (#515241)
Jason:

I better understand your point, since you mentioned you are looking for sizeable gaps. Thanks for explaining.
   152. Carl Goetz Posted: July 17, 2003 at 01:58 PM (#515242)
Does anyone have the year-to-year AA discounts? Also, directions to any discussions about Pike or McVey's pre-NA careers would be good. I apologize for my need to re-hash old topics. My hard drive here at work had to be re-formatted and I lost most of my old research and notes.
   153. DanG Posted: July 17, 2003 at 02:41 PM (#515243)
This is the link to the SABR Bioproject entry on Pike.
   154. DanG Posted: July 17, 2003 at 02:44 PM (#515244)
This is the link to the Iowa Sports hall of fame entry on McVey.
   155. Carl Goetz Posted: July 17, 2003 at 03:01 PM (#515245)
Thanks Dan.
   156. KJOK Posted: July 18, 2003 at 10:10 PM (#515246)
Jumping back up the thread a bit, someone, either BP or Bill James, did a very detailed analysis of the UA players who played in other leagues and concluded that the UA strength adjustment was roughly equivalent to the adjustment between playing in High A ball and the major leagues.
   157. MattB Posted: July 21, 2003 at 05:59 PM (#515248)
Try the homepage link. I'll try to bump it up.
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