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Monday, July 21, 2003

1906 Ballot Discussion

Not much in the way of new eligibles this year, but for the first time, just one player will be on the podium this time around . . .

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: July 21, 2003 at 06:25 PM | 175 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 27, 2003 at 06:17 PM (#515929)
Sutton had one Very good and one pretty good peak, with one pretty poor valley in the middle.

His peak during the eighties was terrific. A third baseman who was among the league leaders in hitting during that era? That's MVP material (unless you feel only pitchers of that time deserved the honor).

As for the pretty "poor" valley, he was definitely mediocre. If he had been solidly above average, then we could be comparing him to Schmidt.

Sutton was far behind Williamson in fielding, leading the league only once in his long career.

He wasn't as good as Williamson and Nash, but we're still talking well above average.
   102. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 27, 2003 at 06:35 PM (#515930)
Davy Force was great in the NA, not so great in the NL. Since almost all his value after 1875 is defensive, if you trust WARP over WS, he's a player you might look at for a down-ballot vote.

If you're heavy on the peak, he deserves a spot. Other than that, he's really not worthy.

Great work, Chris!
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 28, 2003 at 02:32 AM (#515932)
Chris, did you do John Clapp's NA Win Shares? I don't think he's a HoMer, but he wasn't that far off.

Once again, thanks!
   104. Marc Posted: July 28, 2003 at 02:33 AM (#515933)
Speaking as a FOAS:

>3) The FOAS have not in my mind firmly confronted the DIPS issue. I need some kind of explanation of why pitchers really mattered (as opposed to fielders) in a game with no Ks, no Walks, no HRs and guys throwing underhanded.

Slow pitch softball is a pretty lowbrow game, I guess, but having actively played the lowbrow game for some 25 years...have any of you ever sat and watched a really good slow pitch softball pitcher work? No Ks, no BBs, guys throwing underhand...OK, some home runs ;-) But speaking as a good hands, no arm SS, the difference between slow pitch softball pitchers is night and day. The basic tool is a good high strike, a ball that passes through the strike zone at the very back of the plate rather than falling right through its center. Add some good in and out action and a variety of spins.

And then a really athletic pitcher of course fields his position, he is the fifth infielder. He turns two on balls back to the mound. On 60 foot bases, not every pitcher (or infielder) turns two, but the good ones do.

And then why is it that in slow pitch softball the pitcher usually bats 8-9-10 and the shortstop bats cleanup? Because what the pitcher does defensively is a lot more difficult than what the shortstop does, and he does it 10 times more often than the shortstop does his thing. Now if that pitcher can hit .300 with a few dingers batting 8-9-10, you've probably got yourself a winning team.

Nobody who ever played the lowbrow slow pitch, underhand game or watched attentively would ever say the pitchers don't matter. (The great teams have a pitcher, a shortstop and two hammers, and then you build from there.) And if that's true of slow pitch softball today, then it was true of "MLB" from the 1850s through 1876, trust me. (Or as others have noted, trust Harry Wright.)

Then, Jason said something about AS pitching from '71-'76. I thought everybody knew there was baseball before '71 and that Spalding was a nationally renowned star as early as '66.
   105. Marc Posted: July 28, 2003 at 03:02 AM (#515934)
I have endeavored recently to understand baseball before 1871 (and specifically before 1869), and it seems crystal clear to me that Jim Creighton and Harry Wright were the two best players whose peak seasons pre-date the NA. Dickey Pearce's best years do likewise, Joe Start's and Candy Cummings' may (or may not) but probably also do.

Creighton only played 3 years, dying at age 21 due to a ruptured bladder (ruptured by a swing of the baseball bat). To those who believe that underhand pitching cannot matter, batters who faced Creighton thought it did. "The rules barred snapping the wrist when delivering the ball, but Creighton somehow managed to do it without being detected, hurling the ball with unprecedented speed and no-less-startling spin so that by the time it had reached the plate...it had risen to the level of the hapless batter's Adam's apple. Creighton's 'speedballs' were 'as swift as (if) sent from a cannon,' wrote one startled observer, and he like to interleave them with slow pitches (he called them his dew drops) further to befuddle the opposition. Some deplored this uncharacteristic aggressiveness from a pitcher--it was still technically supposed to be his job to help the batter, not to hinder him--but Creighton won game after game.... Other pitchers tried to copy his delivery."

As for Harry Wright, he was "a good enough ballplayer to have hit seven home runs in a single game."

I am looking more closely at Dickey Pearce, but unlike Joe Start he has left us too little of his peak (statistically), so it is really guesswork. If you want a player of whom that may be said, a player whose peak capability must be guessed at, Creighton and H. Wright would have to rate well ahead of Pearce. I know Creighton only played 3 years but if you value peak at all, he was Babe Ruth for 3 years.
   106. Marc Posted: July 28, 2003 at 03:27 AM (#515937)
Finally a prelim. I have made many changes as a result (especially) of reconsidering the early days. As one poster said, why not take a first rate star from (whenever) rather than another second or third tier "star" from the '80s?

I still like a high peak, however, that hasn't changed. If anything, I'm emphasizing peak more and mere longevity (Rusty Staub's disease) less.

1. Al Spalding (1)
   107. Marc Posted: July 28, 2003 at 03:33 AM (#515938)
>Posted 11:25 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#150) - JoeDimino (e-mail)
   108. Chris Cobb Posted: July 28, 2003 at 03:37 AM (#515939)
I'm still working on the down-ballot slots, but here's the top half of my ballot as I expect to cast it, barring new information and arguments.

Looking at this section of the ballot, it's divided between three players whom I think should already be in -- we've elected players who are not as good as they are -- and four players who should go in at some point. Only one of the top three can go in this year, of course, and maybe none will, but they all ought to go in soon.

1. Ezra Sutton -- 458 fielding adj. WS and 83 peak WS are best career value and among the best peaks among the position players on the ballot. A clear #1 choice. I had Galvin #1 last yeaer, but seeing Sutton's NA career more clearly has caused me to move him up to #1.

2. Pud Galvin -- as I see it, WARP1 unadjusted, except for normalizing seasons shorter than 75 games to 75, is the best measure of pre-1893 pitchers that we have. According to it, Galvin is second only to Keefe in career value, and follows after Clarkson, Spalding, and Keefe in peak value. He has a better combination of career and peak value than any position player on the ballot except Sutton.

3. Al Spalding -- short career, but I give him some credit for pre-1871 pitching, and his peak value, under the conditions which he played, is awesome. I am persuaded by jimd's argument that he was the most valuable player in the NA after Ross Barnes. Not quite enough career to go ahead of Sutton or Galvin, though. He's moved way up in my estimation this "year."

Spots 4-7 are players who should go in, but when it's their turn.

4. Cal McVey -- Best hitter on the ballot, and a versatile defender. A long career as well, but much undocumented. 364 fielding adj. CWS (including 50 for undocumented play), 82 peak WS (total WS above avg for career -- none added for undocumented play)

5. Harry Stovey -- 362 fielding adj. CWS, 72 peak WS place him just behind McVey.

6. Joe Start -- 409 fielding adj. CWS (including 60 for undocumented play), 33 peak WS. Low peak, confirmed by NA WS, drops him below Stovey

7. Bid McPhee -- 401 fielding adj. CWS, 31 peak WS. Numbers look a lot like Start's!

I've been calculating NA WS instead of thinking about the bottom half of my ballot . Must get to work on that . . .
   109. Chris Cobb Posted: July 28, 2003 at 04:09 AM (#515942)
To all those who have expressed enthusiasm for the NA WS -- thank you! I enjoyed working through the numbers, and I'm glad that they are proving to be of some interest and some use.

John, I haven't done translations for John Clapp. I need to think about the second half of my ballot, so I don't think I'll be able to get to it for a few days, but I'll make a note to do so when I have a chance.

Marc: Galvin and Sutton, Sutton and Galvin. Their peaks are there, there are peaks there.

Getting punchy. Had better sleep.
   110. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 28, 2003 at 05:36 AM (#515944)
redsox1912:

Win Shares has Sutton as a B+ fielder (Williamson and Nash are A's), which is more in line with how he was recognized at the time.

With the help of Chris Cobb's numbers, I now have Sutton as the best major league third baseman for 1872, 1873, 1875, 1883, 1884 and 1885, while almost the best first baseman behind McVey for 1876. Marc, can you take a closer look again, please?
   111. Carl Goetz Posted: July 28, 2003 at 03:06 PM (#515945)
'As for Creighton, I don't think any player can do enough in 3 years to make the Hall of Merit. '

If 3 years is enough, I think Tony C will be a 1st-ballot HoMer in 65 years!
   112. Marc Posted: July 28, 2003 at 05:54 PM (#515946)
Jim Creighton played in a different time and place than Tony C, and nobody ever thought Tony C was the one single absolutely best player in the game at any one time. If Joe DiMaggio had died in 1940, he would be more analogous to Creighton (though would not rate as highly). My main point in bringing up Creighton is that the preference for career length over peak value is a value judgement. I prefer peak. I understand there is a differing POV on that, but I prefer a peak.

And secondarily, I brought up the example of Creighton to show just how highly pitching was indeed valued in the unDIPS era before 1876.

Re. Ezra Sutton vs., say, Al Spalding, the choice, expressed in very gross terms, I admit, is this: a top 20 player for 20 years vs. a top 3 player for 10 years. To me there is no question who I would value more highly. Creighton, similarly, is the top 1 player for 3 years. Where you draw the line, and how you construct equivalencies using this method of analysis is not clear to me, but...another example. Joe Start is a difficult case because he was probably a top 5 player for 5 years and a top 20 player for another 15, so clearly he rates ahead of Sutton. However, Cal McVey was a top 5 player for 10-12 years. I prefer McVey over Start, but I understand those who would go the other way.

But, again, the preference for career value over peak, that seems to be so obvious to some, is a value judgment, an opinion, not a moral obligation.
   113. Chris Cobb Posted: July 28, 2003 at 06:33 PM (#515947)
Re. Ezra Sutton vs., say, Al Spalding, the choice, expressed in very gross terms, I admit, is this: a top 20 player for 20 years vs. a top 3 player for 10 years.

Marc, my disagreement is less with the value judgment of peak vs, career than with your assessment of Sutton's peak value. While McPhee appears to me to be a case of a "top 20 player for 20 years," Sutton's career was not like that. He was a top 10 player for 5 years in the NA, then an average player for 6 years, then a top 10 player again for 3-4 years.

Lord knows the ballot is crowded, but I just have a hard time seeing how according to a peak criterion Sutton doesn't break the top 15, since he looks exceptional to me on a peak measure.
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 28, 2003 at 06:42 PM (#515949)
Lord knows the ballot is crowded, but I just have a hard time seeing how according to a peak criterion Sutton doesn't break the top 15, since he looks exceptional to me on a peak measure.

Just to follow up: How is Jim McCormick's or Charley Jones's peak better than Sutton's? Ezra was the best at his position many more times than those two (and had a much longer career for his position than McCormick and Jones).
   115. Carl Goetz Posted: July 28, 2003 at 07:21 PM (#515950)
Marc,
   116. jimd Posted: July 29, 2003 at 12:05 AM (#515951)
Still even giving him the benefit of all these doubts, Spalding's 6 year run from 1871-76 -- WITH offense included -- gets noticeably less WARP1 than Koufax's best 6 year run as a pitcher alone.

I'm glad my WARP-1 argument was coherent enough that people were able to follow it and even be persuaded a little by it.

As we know, all of Spalding's numbers were compiled in 30-to-80 game seasons. If one scales the numbers for season length, those numbers are doubled or tripled (or more in 1871). I know some don't like to adjust pitchers because they couldn't pitch all those extra innings while OTOH don't mind adjusting the position players because they could play all those extra games. But doing this distorts their actual value relative to each other; the pitcher that was the MVP in the short season is no longer so after the position player is scaled and the pitcher is not. ("Scaling" may be more appropriate semantically than "adjusting".)

As far as I've been able to determine, WARP-1 sees Spalding as the best player in the league in 1874 and 1875, while Barnes was the best in 1872, 1873, and 1876 (and Rynie Wolters in 1871). Who gets the MVP award is always an interesting debate given its definition. In 1871, Spalding was 2nd best in the league and so was a legit candidate, particularly because Wolters would be hindered by being on a .500 team. Wright was a very close 2nd to Barnes in 1873; it wouldn't be a surprise if he got it instead of Barnes. Deacon White had a great 1875 season; choosing him over Spalding would not be a big upset. Spalding probably would get 1-3 MVP awards (using BP's WARP-1 numbers) depending on the voter's preferences in 1871 and 1875, with 1874 being a lock.
   117. Marc Posted: July 29, 2003 at 01:29 AM (#515952)
I tend to use a 3 to 5 year peak. When people say that so-and-so (A Rod, e.g.) is "the best player in the game," I think they tend to mean the best over 3 to 5 years, not just the best this year. When they mean the best this year, they say MVP or MVP candidate. So to me the highest honor any player can achieve, and the surest route into the HoF or HoM (my HoF or HoM anyway) is to be "the best player in the game" at some point in time.

Spalding or Barnes were that...and you could argue both were in alternating seasons.

Being the best at one's position isn't a "great" achievement in my book, it's a "very good" achievement perhaps. But there have been periods when 3 players at the same position could compete for "best player"--Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg; Mays, Mantle, Snider; A Rod, Nomar, Jeter perhaps--or 2 anyway--Berra and Campy, Cobb and Speaker--and any one of these would rank ahead of many, many players who more clearly rated as the best at his position.

Here are the best players in America in the 19th century (using the 3 to 5 year rule) (and this is off the top, not highly researched):

Harry Wright
   118. Marc Posted: July 29, 2003 at 01:32 AM (#515953)
And PS. I wouldn't consider any 3 year man other than Creighton. The times have changed, the standards with them. I wouldn't consider Spalding if he only played for 3 years much less Tony C or Albert Pujols. But Spalding's 10-11 year career is not short by the standards of his time. Today a 10 year career is short. Anybody who wants a single standard to work from 1849 through the 22nd century is dreaming.
   119. Marc Posted: July 29, 2003 at 03:15 PM (#515955)
The Washington Nationals were a good amateur team, indeed...but also more. They barnstormed around the U.S., like the Cincy Red Stockings a couple years later, and lost only one game. They were the best team in America.

Jim, thanks for the feedback. I regard this whole HoM exercise as experimental, at least as it relates to the 19th century. There is no conventional wisdom. WARP? Heck, we have enough trouble defining RP in the 20th century, and what with WARP1, WARP2, WARP3, adjWARP1, etc. etc., there is no conventional wisdom in WARP. And WS--well, we know that James did not care enough to fine tune his work to truly make sense of the 19th century.

So this is all a very experimental and subjective exercise. You can use WARP3 if you want, that does not make this a quantitative exercise. It is a highly subjective, theoretical choice to use WARP3 or adjWS. Many untested assumptions go into that choice. I respect voters who have voted for players in a fixed order from year to year. I on the other hand have had guys bouncing all over my ballot because I am not yet comfortable that I know the answers to all the theoretical questions and which are the right assumptions and therefore the right measures.

I have been extremely consistent in demanding a high peak (and so far we disagree as to whether Ezra Sutton had a high peak or not). But given the experimental nature of this exercise, and given our desire to recognize "all" eras (well, maybe not the '50s?), and given the rapidly changing conditions, I don't think it is any more eccentric to suggest that we consider Jim Creighton and Harry Wright than it is to declare with absolute certitude that Pennants Added from WARP3 is a reliable measure.

I'm not sure if I will take another run at Ezra Sutton--while on the other hand I will acknowledge that you have already convinced me that Joe Start is a strong HoM candidate. I say this re. Sutton because you are probably going to elect him without me. (I for the life of me cannot fathom Sutton ranking ahead of Spalding, but of course groups make better decisions that individuals do.) But, again, what is the point of this exercise if we emerge from it a year or two from now with no knowledge of Jim Creighton or of Harry Wright as an actual player?
   120. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 29, 2003 at 06:22 PM (#515959)
There has been some discussion about the SABR 19th Century Committee voting for Stovey as the most deserving player yet to be elected to the HOF. Paul Wendt, who is the chair now, was kind enough to respond to my question concerning this vote and gave me permission to post his thoughts to me here:

<i>The 19th Century Cmtee was established in 1983, perhaps at the Annual
   121. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 29, 2003 at 06:44 PM (#515960)
I say this re. Sutton because you are probably going to elect him without me. (I for the life of me cannot fathom Sutton ranking ahead of Spalding, but of course groups make better decisions that individuals do.)

Because you can go well into the the next century before you find a better third baseman, while Spalding was topped by a few pitchers rather quickly.

BTW, are you comparing Sutton to all third baseman of his time or comparing him to all players of his era (regardless of position)? If you are doing the latter, that will screw up your analysis, IMO.
   122. Paul Wendt Posted: July 29, 2003 at 08:46 PM (#515962)
If pitchers had no impact at all, then they'd have somebody like Dan Brouthers out there tossing meatballs so they could get his bat in the lineup; give these guys some credit for knowing their game well enough to know where they can grab an edge.

In the 1860s, there were several teams with a professional battery and a semi-pro or amateur supporting cast. From another perspective, several pitchers and catchers were able to shop for guaranteed money, while their teammates played for a share of gate receipts or for nonpecuniary rewards. I surmise that pitchers and catchers moved more frequently than did the players at seven regular positions.
   123. Paul Wendt Posted: July 29, 2003 at 09:38 PM (#515963)
HOMers,
   124. Marc Posted: July 30, 2003 at 12:01 AM (#515964)
Paul, thanks for dropping in, hope maybe you're now following this discussion. Re. the non-HoFers on the SABR 19th century ballot:

>Browning, McPhee, Stovey, White, Mullane, Glasscock, Caruthers, Dahlen, O'Neill, Barnes, Jimmy Ryan, George Van Haltren, Clark Griffith.

Aside from the last three about whom you were clear, are the others listed more or less in order of their support?
   125. Marc Posted: July 30, 2003 at 12:03 AM (#515965)
Joe, I'm not just eyeballing the numbers though I admit to looking at some traditional stats. My spreadsheet is ten columns wide, but I will also admit that I do not yet use WARP for reasons mentioned earlier. Will the real WARP please stand up?
   126. DanG Posted: July 30, 2003 at 06:51 AM (#515966)
Re Paul's post (#177): the SABR Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1999, published the top 40 in the SABR 19th century survey.

1-10: Anson-Kelly-Young-Delahanty-Ewing-Brouthers-Radbourn-Connor-Hamilton-Keeler.
   127. Marc Posted: July 30, 2003 at 02:39 PM (#515967)
So in other words--the oft-cited survey naming Stovey as the best 19th century non-Coop HoFer was conducted in 1983! And in a 1999 survey he came out 20-something. And the top 5 players in that 1999 survey who are eligible for the HoM this year are:

Thompson
   128. dan b Posted: July 30, 2003 at 03:48 PM (#515968)
"The only non-HOFer in the top 25 is Browning."

And Harry Stovey is 26th. The new and improved survey now has Stovey as the 2nd most deserving of HOF selection, again ahead of players we have already elected - White, Hine, Gore, Barnes, Glasscock, and Richardson. Also ahead of Sutton and Start.
   129. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 30, 2003 at 03:59 PM (#515969)
And Harry Stovey is 26th. The new and improved survey now has Stovey as the 2nd most deserving of HOF selection, again ahead of players we have already elected - White, Hine, Gore, Barnes, Glasscock, and Richardson. Also ahead of Sutton and Start.

As Paul stated, name recognition carried the day. Without JoeDimino highlighting Start and Sutton last year, I don't know if the former makes my list (and the latter was unknown to me at the time).

Since extensive discussion of the players wasn't involved, I consider the surveys interesting, but nothing more.
   130. MattB Posted: July 30, 2003 at 04:32 PM (#515970)
Check out the "Homepage Link" to see Bobby Mathews' Prospectus page.

What I can't figure out is, was he one of the best pitchers of the 19th Century or one of the worst?

He ranks really high on WARP-1 Pennants Added, but then his final WARP-3 number is 3.8. Talk about league/timeline adjustments!

He's also 22nd in career wins, 6th among eligible pitchers (after Galvin, Keefe, Clarkson, Radbourn, and Welch), and 3rd among eligible non-elected pitchers, all off whom received much more consideration than Mathews.

So, what's wrong with Bobby?
   131. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 30, 2003 at 04:45 PM (#515971)
31-40: Mullane-Glasscock-Caruthers-Beckley-Dahlen-J.Collins-Comiskey-J.Kelley-O'Neill-Barnes.

C'mon, how serious can we take this survey? Comiskey may be the worst player of all-time who played for a considerable length of time.
   132. Paul Wendt Posted: July 30, 2003 at 07:16 PM (#515972)
A bit more context on the 1983 survey:

A survey was included in the first letter to (prospective?) members after the 19th Century Committee was approved by SABR, from Mark Rucker and John Thorn.
   133. Paul Wendt Posted: July 30, 2003 at 07:45 PM (#515973)
A bit more context on the 1999 survey:

McPhee was not yet in the Hall of Fame. Davis, just elected, barely outpolled Browning. The 16 players ranked above Davis and Browning garnered 75% support or greater.

David Nemec, The Beer and Whisky League, was a recent popular history of the AA. Elsewhere (probably in the book, too), David had written positively about Browning and Stovey in particular and about AA players in general. Perhaps including email to SABR-L.

It is clear that AA players had been underrated, in general. It is equally clear that NA players had been underrated, in general; that there was no prominent recent NA advocate or popular author; that NA players did not show up on most official or sabermetric leader boards because they played few games.

Paul Wendt
   134. Paul Wendt Posted: July 30, 2003 at 08:07 PM (#515974)
SABR advice to the Hall of Fame.

SABR advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates. For the 19c, at least, there was one round of unofficial advice and one round of official advice, following the agreement that there would be a separate 19c ballot for five years.

If I recall correctly, the candidates officially recommended were contributor Hulbert and players Glasscock, Davis, Dahlen, McPhee, Childs, ordered here by fielding position and by time. Perhaps the special committee prepared more portfolios than that, in order to fulfill the agreement. There was support for other candidates, including Hanlon and Selee, but there was also support for focusing attention upon a few.

Does the dejanews usenet archive still exist? I reported more about this relationship to rec.sport.baseball, probably in 1996. Search for Wendt, Hanlon, McPhee.

Paul Wendt
   135. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 30, 2003 at 08:31 PM (#515975)
If I recall correctly, the candidates officially recommended were contributor Hulbert and players Glasscock, Davis, Dahlen, McPhee, Childs, ordered here by fielding position and by time.

Now, this has some weight to it. All worthies, IMO (though I would place White and Sutton above all of them).
   136. Chris Cobb Posted: July 30, 2003 at 08:37 PM (#515976)
Matt B wrote about Bobby Mathews:

What I can't figure out is, was he one of the best pitchers of the 19th Century or one of the worst?

He ranks really high on WARP-1 Pennants Added, but then his final WARP-3 number is 3.8. Talk about league/timeline adjustments!

He's also 22nd in career wins, 6th among eligible pitchers (after Galvin, Keefe, Clarkson, Radbourn, and Welch), and 3rd among eligible non-elected pitchers, all off whom received much more consideration than Mathews.

So, what's wrong with Bobby?


He's neither the best nor the worst: he was a good pitcher, but he was not as good as any of the pitchers now getting consideration on the ballot. He looks great on the WARP -1 pennants added because any good pitcher who is able to throw every one of his team's games will have a substantial pennant impact.

I see him having career value, game for game, pretty similar to the lower pitchers getting ballot attention: Caruthers, McCormick, Whitney, Welch, Mullane. But his peak value, game for game, is significantly below theirs.
   137. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 30, 2003 at 09:04 PM (#515978)
I wouldn't put Sutton in ahead of George Davis, John.

I have them pretty close, so it's certainly arguable.
   138. Paul Wendt Posted: July 31, 2003 at 08:16 PM (#515980)
<u>SABR advice to the Hall of Fame, corrected</u>

SABR members advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates.

For the 19c, the HOF named a committee of six specialists from SABR's 19th Century Committee, to recommend candidates from before 1920 and to prepare a dossier for each one recommended. [NCN, Spring 1993, p4]

The committee of six recommended contributor Hulbert and players McPhee, Davis, Dahlen, Stovey, Glasscock [Stovey, not Childs]. The announcement to 19c Cmtee members gave honorable mention to contributors Hanlon and Selee, players Mullane and Browning. None of the recommended candidates was elected in 1994. [NCN, Spring 1994, p10]

In January 1995, the HOF announced that its Committee on Veterans would consider one special ballot for 19c representatives and another for Negro Leagues players, annually for five years (later extended). The ballots would be prepared with SABR assistance. [NCN, Winter 1995, p10]

The 19c Cmtee did not revise the year-old report by the committee of six. As I recall, the Negro Leagues Cmtee held an election by all of its members in order to nominate players to the special ballot.

NCN is Nineteenth Century Notes, the newsletter of the 19th Century Committee, SABR.

Paul Wendt, Chair
   139. Paul Wendt Posted: July 31, 2003 at 08:22 PM (#515981)
<u>SABR advice to the Hall of Fame, corrected</u>

SABR members advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates.

For the 19c, the HOF named a committee of six specialists from SABR's 19th Century Committee, to recommend candidates from before 1920 and to prepare a dossier for each one recommended. [NCN, Spring 1993, p4]

The committee of six recommended contributor Hulbert and players McPhee, Davis, Dahlen, Stovey, Glasscock [Stovey, not Childs]. The announcement to 19c Cmtee members gave honorable mention to contributors Hanlon and Selee, players Mullane and Browning. None of the recommended candidates was elected in 1994. [NCN, Spring 1994, p10]

In January 1995, the HOF announced that its Committee on Veterans would consider one special ballot for 19c representatives and another for Negro Leagues players, annually for five years (later extended). The ballots would be prepared with SABR assistance. [NCN, Winter 1995, p10]

The 19c Cmtee did not revise the year-old report by the committee of six. As I recall, the Negro Leagues Cmtee held an election by all of its members in order to nominate players to the special ballot.

NCN is Nineteenth Century Notes, the newsletter of the 19th Century Committee, SABR.

Paul Wendt, Chair
   140. Marc Posted: August 02, 2003 at 04:04 AM (#515983)
Someone asked about Harry Wright. There is precious little information about his actual playing skills. The following is hardly comprehensive, I am sure someone out there has more and better info, but I have tried to take a broad view based on internet searches and several books I have here.

1845-Knickerbocker Club creates first "modern" baseball rules. Most prominent among the club are Alexander Cartwright, who apparently was the team's pitcher, and Dr. Daniel J. "Doc" Adams, who in 1849 created the shortstop position and with it the nine-man lineup. Knicks lose to New York Base Ball Club 23-1 in 1846, however, and there is one reference to the New Yorks as an older, more experienced club, which seems very odd. Also it is noted that Cartwright did not pitch this day, but umpired instead, we do not know why.

1850-Gotham club formed.
   141. sean gilman Posted: August 02, 2003 at 06:28 AM (#515984)
Good stuff Marc, but if I read that correctly you have Harry Wright ahead of Creighton in 1870, but behind him afterwards. . .do you mean that Harry's play after 1870 drops him below Creighton?
   142. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 02, 2003 at 03:15 PM (#515985)
Good stuff Marc, but if I read that correctly you have Harry Wright ahead of Creighton in 1870, but behind him afterwards. . .do you mean that Harry's play after 1870 drops him below Creighton?

Thanks for posting the info, Marc (I was the somebody that made the request)!

I have to agree with Sean, though. Harry Wright's contributions post-1870 shouldn't be a negative.

I'm leaning towards adding him to my ballot, but he would be the only other one from pre-1871 that I would add.

The only thing that bothers me about him is that he is usually credited as the best "scientific" batter. Does this mean that he created the most runs or that he just crafty?

3. Dickey Pearce (Did not invent shortstop position, however, Doc Adams pretty clearly did that.)

No, but he made it the position that it is today. Before Pearce, shortstop had the least defensive contribution in the game. Pearce changed that almost overnight.

Dickey created the version that we're familiar with now.
   143. Marc Posted: August 02, 2003 at 05:17 PM (#515986)
I'm not sure what I said that suggested Creighton would pass H. Wright after 1870. As of 1870 Creighton had had the highest peak but Start and H. Wright were #1 and 2 for career achievements. Putting the two (peak and career) together, as of 1870 I have Start, Wright and Creighton. Anything anybody did after 1870 would be additive, and all but Creighton would have added some value after 1870. Creighton would not pass anybody on the composite list, though frankly nobody on the list including G. Wright and Spalding would surpass Creighton for a 3 year peak.

Main point: As of 1870, it appears to me that knowledgeable baseball observers would rate Start, H. Wright and Creighton as the 3 best players of "all time"--i.e. of the first quarter century of organized play, with G. Wright and Spalding coming up on the outside.
   144. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 02, 2003 at 06:12 PM (#515987)
Main point: As of 1870, it appears to me that knowledgeable baseball observers would rate Start, H. Wright and Creighton as the 3 best players of "all time"--i.e. of the first quarter century of organized play, with G. Wright and Spalding coming up on the outside.

Do you have any sources for this? Thanks.
   145. KJOK Posted: August 04, 2003 at 12:20 AM (#515988)
Re: Post #193 from TomH:

This was discussed on the FanHome Sabermetrics Message Board several years back. IIRC, your findings are correct. EQA doesn't necessarily "make sense" with its weightings. It is more of an empirical formula that tracks well with actual run scoring.
   146. Marc Posted: August 04, 2003 at 01:09 PM (#515990)
Re. the "one league" NL of 1892-1900, keep in mind it was a 12 team league 1892-99. 12 is fewer than the 16 teams of 1882-1889 and '91 and 24 of 1890, but it is more than 8.

>Scored 1690 runs. Most prolific run scoring machine of all time.

In addition to playing in a 12 team environment, Hamilton also benefitted from playing in the massively offensive environment (and I'm not talking about the tactics of the Baltimore Orioles) of the mid-'90s. I don't know how we can pooh-pooh Sam Thompson based on the offensive environment without recognizing Hamilton played in the same environment.

I thought Rickey Henderson was the MVP in '85 but that doesn't make Mattingly a slouch. Ditto Hamilton and Thompson.
   147. OCF Posted: August 04, 2003 at 04:02 PM (#515992)
>Scored 1690 runs. Most prolific run scoring machine of all time.

I have some context for this. It's a fairly long post, and I'm waiting for a 1907 ballot argument thread to appear before I put it up.
   148. Marc Posted: August 07, 2003 at 02:56 AM (#515993)
>Billy had a longer career, was likely better defensively

"Likely" or not, this needs to be checked out. Based on other skills, I would think it "likely" that Rickey Henderson is a better fielder than Don Mattingly. Not so.

First cut, career defensive WS: Hamilton 50.55 Thompson 28.3. Round one to Billy.
   149. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:53 PM (#3060949)
Posted 2:34 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#1) - John Murphy
Prelim:

1) Ezra Sutton (2): I love McPhee as you can see, but how does he wind up before Sutton? If we had Win Shares for the NA, he would have around the same number as Bid (at least), plus Sutton's peak was much greater than McPhee's. I'm curious to hear the arguments for Bid over Ezra.

2) Bid McPhee (2):

3) Al Spalding (3):

4) Cal McVey (4):

5) Dickey Pearce (5):

Everybody moves up one after Pearce:

6) Joe Start (7):

7) Charlie Bennett (8):

8) Billy Nash (9):

9) Jack Clement (10):

10) Ed Williamson (11):

11) Fred Dunlap (12):

12) Levi Meyerle (13):

13) Lip Pike (14):

14) Pud Galvin (15a):

15) Mike Tiernan (n/a): I think he's slightly better than Sam Thompson, but close enough to argue the other way. Best major league rightfielder for 1888 and 1889 (close in '91). Best major league centerfielder for 1890. About equal with Stovey for best NL rightfielder in 1891. .

Posted 2:44 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#2) - Rusty Priske
My very-PRELIM ballot. I have some research to do to clean up the bottom of the ballot. Sutton is close. I currently have Weyhing as the only newcomer, but I am not sure he will stay this high, or even on the ballot. He is not HoM reagrdless, but none of the guys that low are, imo.

1. Galvin
2. Spalding
3. Start
4. McPhee
5. Stovey
6. Caruthers
7. Welch
8. Mullane
9. McCormick
10. Thompson
11. Tiernan
12. Weyhing
13. Browning
14. Griffin
15. Fowler

Posted 2:48 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#3) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
I know there's no one that good that's newly eligible, but does someone have a list of the 'newbies' anyway?

Posted 2:52 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#4) - MattB
So, I'm thinking about Bid McPhee, and I'm looking at his WARP card, and I'm thinking, "Hey, it looks like McPhee had a late peak."

What I'm noticing is that McPhee's WARP-3 in his last 4 years in the AA was (on average) 6.2, while in his first four years in the NL, it jumps to (on average) 7.9. Pretty big improvement for ages 30-33 compared to 26-29.

But then I look at his WARP-1 numbers, and I see that, actually, his numbers unadjusted numbers for 1889-9 average 9.55 Wins, and for 1890-3 also average 9.55 wins. He has essentially played exactly as well, but got docked more for his competition during the AA years, making it appear that he improved in the NL.

So, now I'm thinking about why Bid McPhee is playing about the same irrespective of what league he plays in, rather than regressing against stronger NL competition, and I start thinking about league discounts.

Now, it makes sense to discount McPhee's hitting if you believe that he was facing poorer pitchers in the AA. (McPhee, in fact, has a 111 OPS+ in his last four AA years, and a 114 OPS+ in his first four NL years).

But why, exactly, does it make sense to discount McPhee's fielding stats for playing in an inferior league? Did lower calibre AA hitters hit more weak grounders (if so, wouldn't it be HARDER to turn all those double plays)? Probably not, because they were batting against lower calibre pitchers, too.

So, it struck me that maybe defense is a little more context-neutral than hitting or pitching is. I mean, certainly if your team is full of bad defenders, you'll get more defensive plays and stuff, but that's not really relevant for McPhee, because he was playing with the same group of guys in Cincinnati irrespective of the league (the whole team changed leagues). It was just the opponents that were changing.

So, the question is, does a discounting stat like WARP-3 systematically undervalue fielding accomplishments by discounting them just like hitting accomplishments?

Win Shares, we know, systematically undervalues early defense by giving too much of the credit to pitchers. Does WARP-3 do the same, but discounting hitting and fielding stats the same?

Posted 3:10 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#5) - Howie Menckel
Cribbed from someone else, not perfect but probably close...

1906
Ted Breitenstein
Bert Cunningham
Frank Killen
Gus Weyhing

1907
Cupid Childs
Billy Clingman
Tommy Dowd
Hugh Duffy?
Billy Hamilton
Joe Quinn
Pop Schriver
Elmer Smith
Nig Clarke
Frank Foreman
Bill Hart
Pink Hawley

1908
Steve Brodie
Bones Ely
Dummy Hoy
Charlie Irwin
Hughie Jennings
Wilbert Robinson
Win Mercer

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#6) - John Murphy
My very-PRELIM ballot. I have some research to do to clean up the bottom of the ballot. Sutton is close.

Here's my question from above:

I love McPhee as you can see, but how does he wind up before Sutton? If we had Win Shares for the NA, he would have around the same number as Bid (at least), plus Sutton's peak was much greater than McPhee's. I'm curious to hear the arguments for Bid over Ezra.

Sutton has to be near McPhee.

12. Weyhing

Huh?!? :-)

Seriously, no real peak to speak of, while his career numbers are nothing special. I questioned Rusie as a HoMer, but he was unquestionably a great pitcher at his peak. Weyhing is half of Rusie.

Posted 3:15 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#7) - Howie Menckel
Cribbed from someone else, not perfect but probably close...

1906
Ted Breitenstein
Bert Cunningham
Frank Killen
Gus Weyhing

1907
Cupid Childs
Billy Clingman
Tommy Dowd
Hugh Duffy?
Billy Hamilton
Joe Quinn
Pop Schriver
Elmer Smith
Nig Clarke
Frank Foreman
Bill Hart
Pink Hawley

1908
Steve Brodie
Bones Ely
Dummy Hoy
Charlie Irwin
Hughie Jennings
Wilbert Robinson
Win Mercer

Posted 3:33 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#8) - OCF
When we say "1906 election", we're voting in January or February of 1906, right? Radbourn and Richardson were 50 and 49 years old when when elected them. (Well, Radbourn was dead, but you get the idea.) We elected Rusie at the age of 32, and that made some of us uneasy. We shouldn't be letting players gain an advantage in an election by retiring young and thus avoiding comparisons with some contemporaries.

What follows is a list of players who have appeared on ballots or in arguments, listed by age as of Jan. 1, 1906. I would not want to mandate any lower age limit, but I would suggest that we exercise caution with everyone who is younger than about 45.

Age Players
69 D.Pearce
63 J.Start
60 L.Pike, L.Meyerle
58 D. White, G.Wright
55 A. Spalding, E. Sutton, C. Jones, R.Barnes, J. O'Rourke
53 C.Anson, P.Hines
51 C.Radbourn, C.Bennett
50 H.Richardson
49 P.Galvin, H. Stovey, J. McCormick, D. Foutz
48 E.Williamson, J.Whitney, R.Connor, G.Gore, T.Keefe, K.Kelly
47 T.O'Neill, D.Brouthers
46 J.Glasscock, M.Welch, T.Mullane, F.Dunlap, D.Orr, B.McPhee, B.Ewing
45 S.Thompson, J.M.Ward
44 J.Clarkson
43
42
41 B.Caruthers, J.Clements
40 M.Griffin, B.Nash, B.Joyce
39 D.Lyons, G.Weyhing
38 M.Tiernan
37 J.Stivetts
36
35
34 A.Rusie, B.Lange

Posted 3:44 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#9) - Andrew Siegel
Very preliminary:

The guys it would be a mistake to exclude:

(1) Cal McVey (1st)
(2) Ezra Sutton (2d)
(3) Al Spalding (7th)-- I've spent a lot of time looking at him over the last few weeks and I think he's comfortably among the top 200 players of All-Time. He has an 8 year career where he hit like Bid McPhee and pitched every day for a team that won something like 75% of its games. He wasn't the best pitcher in the league by a large margin in any given season (and sometimes wasn't the best, period) but no one else is remotely close to him for the period as a whole. His bat, his durability, his consistency, his team's championships, and the awe he inspired in his contemporaries makes him an HoMer in my book.

The guys who probably should be in:
(4) Harry Stovey (5th)
(5) Charlie Bennett (6th)
(6) Pud Galvin (8th)-- Only ranks this high if we give him full credit for his extraordinary 1884 season. Docking him half-credit for that wacky season knocks him down most of the way to Welch and McCormick. As we've given Keefe and Radbourn something approaching full credit for 1884, I'm going to err on the side of consistency.

Guys who I could go either way on:
(7) Joe Start (9th)
(8) Lip Pike (10th)
(9) Bid McPhee (11th)
(10) Pete Browning (12th)

Guys who belong on the ballot, but probably not in the HoM:
(11) Mike Tiernan (13th)
(12) Sam Thomspson (14th)
(13) Mickey Welch (not ranked)-- I used to be his biggest fan, then let him fall off my ballot for a few weeks, in part b/c/ I couldn't figure out how the "Giants" didn't win more if they had so many HoMers. Re-evaluated him this week and saw that I was being unfair --I have his career 88% as good as Keefe, 92% as good as Radbourne's, 94% as good as Galvin's, and dead even with McCormick's. That's pretty damn good.
(14) Jim McCormick (15th)

Ballot filler:
(15) Mike Griffin (not ranked)-- A nice player, nothing more, but our lists are getting thin.

Also under consideration: Meyerle, Nash, Williamson, Caruthers, Dunlap, O'Neil, Pearce, George Stovey.

Posted 3:59 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#10) - Matt B
I made the context-neutral defense argument a couple of months ago when I was vociferously arguing that our AA discounts were too big. As I recall (and I may be wrong), Joe had a good argument why the defense requires some adjustment too. Do you remember Joe? I can't find the post.

I think Matt's point continues to identify the limitations of WARP3 as we use it: primarily, that we don't know how it is derived exactly. As Matt points out, there is a league quality adjustment to the defensive numbers. On the other hand, the defensive numbers before adjustment may be overvalued or undervalued. We just don't know. I personally think the FRAR overvalues defense -- it turns Charlie Bennett into King Kelly -- so maybe an overly stringent league discount for defense in WARP3 evens that out a bit.

At least with WS we understand its derivation and can make our own adjustments to the extent we think WS is off the mark. I think WARP is interesting to look at, but I'm wary of too much reliance because we don't really understand it. I tend to look at WARP1 and adjust for season length, and include it in the toolbox with everything else.
   150. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:54 PM (#3060951)
Posted 4:03 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#11) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"But why, exactly, does it make sense to discount McPhee's fielding stats for playing in an inferior league? Did lower calibre AA hitters hit more weak grounders (if so, wouldn't it be HARDER to turn all those double plays)? Probably not, because they were batting against lower calibre pitchers, too."

Because he's being compared to other fielders in his league, and the players in the AA generally weren't as good as in the NL, be it hitting, fielding or pitching.

Posted 4:39 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#12) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
Preliminary:
1)Pud Galvin-Still the best pitcher on the board. I thought he should have gone before Radbourn, but I'm happy that Old Hoss is in.
2)Joe Start-Best Career by far on the board.
3)Ezra Sutton-Probably the best Peak on the board(I go by 8 best seasons) even if it wasn't at the 'right' point in his career.
4)Al Spalding-Best pitcher of the NA and before.
Hoss and Hardy were 5&6;on my last ballot, so 5 thru 13 have all moved up 2 spots.
5)Charley Bennett-Best pure catcher of the 19th century-very underrated.
6)Cal McVey-Was awesome with the Red Stockings and in the NA.
7)Harry Stovey-Best Offensive player of the AA
8)Bid McPhee-Great defensive 2B-man. Maybe he should be a little higher.
9)Lip Pike-Probably will never get enough support, but he's one of the early greats.
10)Sam Thompson-Great hitter, but I need more.
11)Ned Williamson-Its a weak ballot to have Ned this high. Solid player, but by no means, an HoMer.
12)Fred Dunlap-Ditto
13)Mike Griffin-Ditto
14)Dickey Pearce-Its a weak ballot, so I've decided to give some credit to Pearce, who many consider the Greatest SS pre-Wright, but I have no evidence to back that up.
15)Jim McCormick-Of the remaining pitchers, he edged out Welch by a little in peak and in career value.

Does anybody else think we should have elected 3 in 1905 and gone straight to 1907? Just kidding- This election should be even closer than the last.

Posted 4:47 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#13) - Howie Menckel
Spalding's batting - I haven't in the past given him enough credit for that. I'm a FOPG, but he kicks Pud's butt on that front, and I'll have to weigh that in. These guys got a LOT of at-bats, so it mattered a lot..

Posted 4:55 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#14) - Chris Cobb
1906 Very Preliminary

Since the elections drew from the middle of my list, the top five are unchanged. I think these five should go in, in this order, as soon as it can be suitably arranged with the arrival of new candidates :-) .

1. Pud Galvin
2. Ezra Sutton
3. Cal McVey
4. Joe Start
5. Harry Stovey

In the middle tier, shifting happens, with the six and seven slots open. These are the most important changes. All these players I am happy to see elected.

6. Al Spalding. Looking at WARP1 more closely has convinced me that he was a tremendous impact player. I've decided that the best way to rank pre-1893 pitchers is to adjust seasons shorter than 75 games to 75 games, but otherwise compare raw WARP1 scores. Spalding obviously contributed less from his pitching alone than the greats of the 1880s, but his bat makes up most of the difference. His consistently dominant performances move him up past McPhee and Bennett.
7. Bid McPhee. I need to do more work this week on Bid's peak value, reconciling WS and WARP. He could crack the top five, but right now I see all six players ahead of him as having career values close to or higher than McPhee's and better peaks.
8. Charley Bennett
9. Mickey Welch. Last ballot, I placed more emphasis on WARP3 and Pennants Added, so I moved McCormick past Welch. I spent the weekend looking closely at pitchers, and I'm now convinced, as I say under Spalding above, that WARP1, with adjustments for seasons shorter than 75 games, is the more accurate measurem, and it shows Welch in a better light. WARP3 and PA give too much credit to pitchers who peaked in the short seasons of the early 1880s and too little credit to pitchers who peaked in the later 1880s. They all pitched the same amount, but the circumstances of the schedule make the early pitchers more valuable. That should be noted, but I can't credit their _merit_ for it. John Clarkson was a _much_ better pitcher than Jim Whitney, even if PA shows Whitney with a larger impact on pennants! All that said, I'm also comfortable now with the pitchers of this period being, if it turns out that way, disproportionately represented in the HoM, because they did have what we see, in hindsight, as a disproportionate impact on the game, and their achievements are worth recognizing. This is where Welch ranks, a bit below Radbourne in value, and I think should go in eventually, and maybe one more pitcher from the era.

Slots 10 and following are filled with players whose election I do not advocate, but they're still great players. There may be wholesale rearrangement in the section.

10. Lip Pike.
11. Mike Tiernan
12. Sam Thompson
13. Ed Williamson
14. Bob Caruthers. Comes out of nowhere onto my ballot. Much to my surprise, he came out really well in my re-evaluation of pitchers. Not the best pitcher, and not a great hitter, but the combination, as in the case of Spalding, is really valuable. I need to look more before I'm sure I have him placed correctly.
15. Billy Nash / Mike Griffin

Just off Ballot

Jim McCormick, Pete Browning, Tony Mullane, and Fred Dunlap, but I'm going to look again at everybody who got a vote this time, plus Tom York, who didn't.

Posted 4:56 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#15) - OCF
Fixing my last post.

I accidentally left off McVey and Browning. In January 1906, McVey is 55 (same age as Spalding, Sutton, Barnes, and O'Rourke) and Browning is 44. Well, Browning died just this year, but he would have been 44.

Bert Cunningham is 40, Ted Breitenstein is 36, and Frank Killen is 35. They're all too young to take seriously yet, which isn't the only reason not to take them seriously. But they're all older than Rusie.

Posted 5:20 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#16) - dan b
Preliminary ballot – Thanks and a tip of the hat to Andrew Siegel for a great way to format a ballot:

The guys it would be a mistake to exclude:

None – To an outsider looking in, there would be no glaring omissions if none of these guys ever made it.

Guys who should probably be in:

1. Bid McPhee. Unmatched career value on this ballot.
2. Harry Stovey. Best offensive player on ballot.

Guys who I could go either way on:

3. Pete Browning. I don’t see any of the players listed here and below ever reaching the bonus points on my ballot.
4. Sam Thompson.
5. Mike Tiernan.
6. Bob Caruthers.
7. Charlie Bennett.

Guys who belong on ballot, but probably not in the HoM:

8. Mike Griffin. Of all players on ballot who played 1500+ games, leads in WS per 162.
9. Tip O’Neill. Short career, but of HoMers to date, only Brouthers has better WS per 162.
10. Ed Williamson. Best 3B of the 1880’s.
11. Pud Galvin

Ballot Filler:

12. Denny Lyons. Best 3B of the AA
13. Billy Nash
14. (Tie) Ezra Sutton
14. (Tie) Joe Start

Posted 5:36 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#17) - Chris Cobb
Does anybody know what's up with WARP's fielding runs for pitchers? I haven't looked systematically, but every pitcher I have looked at closely looks pretty much like a replacement level fielder. Have I just not looked at the right players, or does WARP basically treat replacement level and average level as the same for pitchers, and then deduct runs if they look like bad fielders??

Posted 5:38 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#18) - Jeff M
Sorry. Post #10 is from me, not Matt B. I meant to address it to Matt B and somehow put his name instead of mine in the "Name" field.

Brain cramp at work.

Posted 5:56 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#19) - jimd
Does anybody know what's up with WARP's fielding runs for pitchers?

As far as I can tell, they don't evaluate the fielding of pitchers as pitchers (there are no ratings or fielding runs associated with the raw fielding stats in the pitcher's section). IMO all of the fielding runs are the results from fielding other positions, which for most pitchers in most years are just token appearances.

Posted 7:08 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#20) - redsox1912
dan b,

I'm curious as to why you don't at least recognize Cal McVey or Al Spalding on your ballot. I looked back but couldn't find an explanation. You also have Start and Sutton much lower than most other voters, and you rate Billy Nash, Denny Lyons and Tip O'Neill ahead of them. Obviously you don't like these pioneers. What are the reasons you are minimizing their peak, career values?
   151. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:55 PM (#3060953)
Posted 7:29 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#21) - Clint (e-mail)
I did a bunch of work before voting last "year" and am finally pretty happy with my ballot. So, unless someone convinces me -- which has been known to happen -- I'm probably basically going to move folks up and add a couple more down at the bottom. That would mean Al Spalding would move to 1st -- which, as a proponent of recognizing peak, I've finally come around to doing. I'll probably move Sam Thompson back onto the ballot at 14. And, I am contemplating voting for Jack Stivetts at 15. Not only does Stivetts have absolutely zero chance of being elected, but also I doubt he'll ever again see the light of day on my ballot or any other. But he did have more win shares than any pitcher in the 1890s other than the first-ballot guys (Nichols, Young, and Rusie), and he did help the Beaneaters win four real-world pennants. And that's worth at least one vote sometime.

Posted 7:29 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#22) - Clint (e-mail)
I did a bunch of work before voting last "year" and am finally pretty happy with my ballot. So, unless someone convinces me -- which has been known to happen -- I'm probably basically going to move folks up and add a couple more down at the bottom. That would mean Al Spalding would move to 1st -- which, as a proponent of recognizing peak, I've finally come around to doing. I'll probably move Sam Thompson back onto the ballot at 14. And, I am contemplating voting for Jack Stivetts at 15. Not only does Stivetts have absolutely zero chance of being elected, but also I doubt he'll ever again see the light of day on my ballot or any other. But he did have more win shares than any pitcher in the 1890s other than the first-ballot guys (Nichols, Young, and Rusie), and he did help the Beaneaters win four real-world pennants. And that's worth at least one vote sometime.

Posted 7:43 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#23) - KJOK (e-mail)
Hopefully this is the correct thread to ask this:

Not to sound like an EOPG, but why is it that quite a few people think he's HOM material?

1. Yes, he pitched ALOT of innings for a long time, and that certainly counts. But Jesse Orosco pitched a lot of games, and Jack Quinn and Charlie Hough pitched a lot of innings in a later context.

2. I keep seeing "he didn't have good defense behind him", but where is this coming from? Over half the teams he played for were winning teams, and with defense being so important in the 19th century, it's hard to think that these teams were pathetic enough on defense relative to every other team to make a huge difference.

3. Overall, his ERA+ is 108, and when you consider that defense contributes more value in the 19th century to preventing runs than today, maybe that's equiv. to 104 for a modern pitcher?

Again, I'm not arguing against him, but I'm wanting to understand why he's being considered as more than just a good player that played for a long time and had one really great year (1884).

Posted 8:10 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#24) - John C
Chris Cobb wrote:
7. Bid McPhee. I need to do more work this week on Bid's peak value, reconciling WS and WARP. He could crack the top five, but right now I see all six players ahead of him as having career values close to or higher than McPhee's and better peaks.

I don't see how you can argue that Cal McVey has career value close to McPhee.

Adjusted WARP3- McPhee has 108, McVey has 62.4
Adjusted WARP1 - McPhee has 179, McVey has 105.
Pennants Added - McPhee at .93, McVey at .57

I recognize that McVey has an outstanding peak. But you must be giving McVey a lot of credit for both pre-NA baseball and post-NL baseball for him to approach the career value of McPhee.

Posted 8:21 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#25) - OCF
Continuing the thought on demographics and date of birth:

Some good players born 1861-1865:

J.Clarkson, P.Browning, B.Caruthers, J.Clements, M.Griffin, B.Nash, B.Joyce, B.Cunningham, M.Baldwin, C.Buffinton, H.Boyle, D.Casey, J.Ryan, D.Hoy, D.Johnston, B.Sanders, F.Carroll, H.Collins, J.McTamany, T.McCarthy, T.Ramsey, T.Tucker, G.Pinkney, O.Burns.

Some good players born 1866-1870:

B.Hamilton, B.Dahlen, G.Davis, C.Childs, C.Young, K.Nichols, E.Delahanty, J.Burkett, D.Lyons, G.Weyhing, M.Tiernan, J.Stivetts, T.Breitenstein, F.Killen, G.Van Haltren, B.Rhines, J.Beckley, S.King, S.Stratton, S.McMahon, E.Smith, M.Kilroy.

I apologize for this list shorting infielders and catchers - I was just quickly scanning offensive and pitching league leader lists on bbref.

It would seem that the 66-70 group was stronger and had more and better HoM candidates than the 61-65 group. Given what was happening in the U.S. in those years, that's not too surprising. But from where we are now, we've already elected Clarkson are considering most of the rest of the candidates from that time, with perhaps only Jimmy Ryan and Dummy Hoy not yet eligible. By contrast, the bulk of the good candidates born 1866-1870 are not eligible for consideration yet, and I'm not inclined to look very hard at the likes of Tiernan and Stivetts just yet.

Posted 8:35 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#26) - jimd
Overall, his ERA+ is 108, and when you consider that defense contributes more value in the 19th century to preventing runs than today, maybe that's equiv. to 104 for a modern pitcher?

No, I think the influence of the error rate would be on the confidence that one would place on ERA and ERA+. "ERA fielding support" becomes kinda like "offensive run support", some years you get a lot (ample errors at "opportune" times so that oodles of runs become unearned), some years you don't (many errors that don't impact ERA at all). It's an issue with single-season ERA and ERA+ crowns, but a career should even that out, I would think.

108 ERA+ still mean 8% less earned runs than the average pitcher. I don't think it's that valid for comparisons because the average pitcher of 1880 is about the 6th best pitcher in the majors, while in 1888 it's about the 25th best pitcher in the majors; expansion made a huge quality difference in a very short period of time.

Posted 9:16 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#27) - Howie Menckel
Notes:
Most of our HOMers played with six to nine of the 18 HOMers during their career. Jim O'Rourke got to play with 13 of them.
The 1887-89 New York NLers lead with six HOMers - Gore O'Rourke Ward Keefe Ewing Connor. They are matched by the 1891 New York version, with Gore O'Rourke Ewing Connor Glasscock Rusie.
The 1885-86 NY NLers and the 1890 PLers of New York had combinations of five of these players.
Dan Brouthers and Hardy Richardson played together for 10 years. So did Ewing and Connor, and Keefe and Connor.

Counting only seasons of 10 G or more, I have it at:
1871 - 4 HOMers
1872-78 - 6
1879-80 - 12
1881-91 - 14-16 per year
1892 - 12
1893 - 11
then back to single digits, far too recent to be accurate..

That's a pretty darn big preference for the 1880s over the 1870s...

Posted 9:34 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#28) - Chris Cobb
John C wrote: I don't see how you can argue that Cal McVey has career value close to McPhee.

Adjusted WARP3- McPhee has 108, McVey has 62.4
Adjusted WARP1 - McPhee has 179, McVey has 105.
Pennants Added - McPhee at .93, McVey at .57

I recognize that McVey has an outstanding peak. But you must be giving McVey a lot of credit for both pre-NA baseball and post-NL baseball for him to approach the career value of McPhee.

John, WARP has McPhee well ahead of McVey, but I am pretty sure WARP overvalues his defense considerably, so I've been basing my rating on win shares. Here's what I get.

For career:

After multiplying McPhee's defensive WS by 30%, prorating his AA years (about 7% on average), and adjusting season length, I have McPhee at 401 win shares.

For McVey, I convert his adj. WARP1 to WS by multiplying by 3 (since a WS is supposed to be 1/3 of a win -- I trust WARP more for McVey because his value is mostly in his offense). This brings McVey to an estimated 315 WS. I give him 50 WS for undocumented career value, which comes to 365.

For Peak

I calculate peak by adding up the number of WS that a player is above average each season in the course of his career.

For NA I set average for position players at 25 adj. WS, for NL/AA 1876-1892 23 adj. WS., for NL 1893-1900, 22 adj. WS. By this measure, I think McPhee is 34 WS above average for his career, McVey is over 100.

McPhee is 36 WS ahead of McVey for career; McVey is at least 66 WS ahead on peak. That's enough for me to put McVey ahead of McPhee (and Start).

That's how I see it. How reasonable does this approach appear?

Posted 10:12 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#29) - John C
Chris,
the approach seems reasonable. However, I think your multiplier of 3*WARP1 = WS is too high.

Here are my numbers for adjWARP1 (to 162 game season), adjWS (Joe's figures), and (adjWS/adjWARP1)

McPhee - 179.4 - 377 - 2.10
Stovey - 147.8 - 363 - 2.46
Thompson - 126.2 - 290 - 2.30
Griffin - 123.4 - 290 - 2.35
Tiernan - 106.7 - 296 - 2.77
Browning - 110.9 - 308 - 2.78
Bennett - 131.4 - 234 - 1.78
Williamson - 124.4 - 278 - 2.23
Sutton (post NA) - 98.2 - 273 - 2.78
Start (post NA) - 98.3 - 245 - 2.45

So, there's no real consistent number to convert between adjWARP1 and adjWS. It appears that WARP values catcher defense higher than WS, which would hurt McVey (maybe). I would use 2.5 as the multiplier, but you could use 2.75, I guess.

If you use 2.5 WS/WARP1, then McVey now has 263 WS, instead of 315.
Using 2.75 WS/WARP1, then McVey has 289 career WS.

Not a huge difference, but equivalent to a good season (or two). The adjustment will probably affect your peak calculation as well, but I'm not sure by how much.

So, I still have McPhee clearly ahead on career value, but your arguments make it closer than it appeared at first glance (perhaps b/c BP values McPhee's defense so highly).

Thanks for explaining the methodology. It's always interesting to see how different voters make their rankings.

Posted 10:27 p.m., July 21, 2003 (#30) - Chris Cobb
John,

Thanks for pointing out the faulty ratio I was using. It's clear I'm using one that's too high. I'll look at the numbers more closely, and pick a new multiplier. Since WARP really doesn't give McVey much defensive value (they rate him a pretty poor catcher!), I think the multiplier will end up closer to 2.75. If that turns out to be about right, I'll be dropping McVey down a bit; I'll need to look again at Spalding and Start as well, whom I've placed in the rankings in part upon conversions from WARP to WS, as well as estimates for undocumented portions of careers.
   152. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:56 PM (#3060956)
Posted 2:45 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#31) - John Murphy
14. (Tie) Ezra Sutton
14. (Tie) Joe Start

Dan, I'll repost the same question I gave for Rusty:

I love McPhee as you can see, but how does he wind up before Sutton? If we had Win Shares for the NA, he would have around the same number as Bid (at least), plus Sutton's peak was much greater than McPhee's. I'm curious to hear the arguments for Bid over Ezra.

What is Bid selling that Ezra doesn't have?

Posted 2:54 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#32) - John Murphy
And, I am contemplating voting for Jack Stivetts at 15.

Well, he's better than Gus Weyhing. Not too much of a recommendation. :-)

Posted 3:33 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#33) - sean gilman (e-mail)
Prelim: 1906

1. Ezra Sutton (1)--Ahead of the field on both career and peak value. I’ve never been able to understand why one wouldn’t at least put him on the ballot.

2. Bid McPhee (2)--Defense and career value trumps the AA discount and the lack of a tremendous peak.

3. Joe Start (4)--More career value than McVey. But a lower (documented) peak.

4. Cal McVey (5)--I like the Ross Barnes comparison a lot.

5. Harry Stovey (6)--I think some people have been applying an awfully harsh AA discount to him. He was a tremendous hitter and looks great in WS pennants added and in the baserunning info that’s been posted. More career value than any of the other ‘hitters’ on the ballot.

6. Pud Galvin (9)--Bumped ahead of Pike this year, giving more credit for career value over peak.

7. Lip Pike (7)--Not as good in the NA as McVey, but better before.

8. Charlie Bennett (10)--Great defense at catcher keeps him in the middle of the Outfielder/Pitcher Glut.

9. Al Spalding (11)--Here for his hitting and the adulation of his peers. This low because of the defense behind him, the hitters on his team compared to the competition and the amount of credit I give pitching vs. fielding in the pre-93 era.

10. Pete Browning (12)--AA discount brings him down to Thompson and Tiernan and Griffin’s level. Browning still has the higher peak though.

11. Mike Tiernan (13)--I don’t think 3 players could be any more equal than Thompson and Tiernan and Griffin. Tiernan has a slight peak advantage over Thompson.

12. Sam Thompson (14)--Lower peak than Tiernan, higher peak than Griffin.

13. Mike Griffin (15)--Defense brings his (relatively) low peak slightly below the rest of the outfielder glut.

14. Bob Caruthers (-)--Lack of newbies brings Parisian Bob back to the ballot. . .

15. Jim McCormick (-)--Along with McCormick, who hasn’t made my ballot since ’98.

Posted 8:35 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#34) - TomH
"I think your multiplier of 3*WARP1 = WS is too high."

Here are my numbers for adjWARP1 (to 162 game season), adjWS (Joe's figures), and (adjWS/adjWARP1)
Bennett - 131.4 - 234 - 1.78
McPhee - 179.4 - 377 - 2.10
Williamson - 124.4 - 278 - 2.23
Thompson - 126.2 - 290 - 2.30
Griffin - 123.4 - 290 - 2.35
Start (post NA) - 98.3 - 245 - 2.45
Stovey - 147.8 - 363 - 2.46
Tiernan - 106.7 - 296 - 2.77
Browning - 110.9 - 308 - 2.78
Sutton (post NA) - 98.2 - 273 - 2.78

Good analysis. It's obvious to me that the ratio of WS to WARP1 is lower for the guys who have high defensive value. This should not be surprisong, given WARP's larger credit to defense in the 1800s. The ratio does more closely aproximate 3, or even slightly higher than 3 (due to lower replaceent level for WS) in the modern game.

Posted 9:03 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#35) - Rusty Priske
It seems odd to be defending someone I DON'T think belongs in the HoM, but that's what happens when you are talking about people on the bottom of the ballot.

Weyhing did have a peak. He had an adjERA+ of 133 early in his career. He also had a decent career length and was solid throughout.

I will reiterate though, that even if he appears on my ballot, he is well below what I consider the Hall cut-off point.

As for Ezra Sutton, I'm still working on him, but it looks like he is moving up.

Posted 9:23 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#36) - Howie Menckel
Does anyone who did NOT start with rankings off WARP1 or WARP3 or VORP or anything else believe that Start, McVey, or Sutton don't belong on the ballot?
My impression, at least, is that people have lists that exclude NA players, then they make minor adjustments, but they'll never rank those guys high because they don't excel in the favored formula.

But if you just look at Start as a player whose production in his 30s is impressive - and a guy whose age 18-27 are fairly undocumented but with a great reputation - how do you not rank him near the top of the ballot?

Stat formulas are great, and they'll be considerably more effective as time goes by, but they are mediocre when it comes to the current crop of players being considered..

Posted 9:34 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#37) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
'So, there's no real consistent number to convert between adjWARP1 and adjWS'

Could this be because you're trying to go from a system that is based on Replacement level and converting it to a system based on a guy who didn't play? I'm not an expert on this sort of thing, but wouldn't you have to select a RP for WS for each season. Then convert adjWarp-1 to adjWS above RP. Then you could add in the RP to get adjWS. Maybe there's a more consistent ratio if you do it that way. If there is a reasonably accurate way for this to work, I would be interested because I would eventually like to convert to using WS. I just don't feel comfortable with WS for 19th century players, particularly those who played in the NA. If I could convert WARP into WS for 19th Century and then use actual WS for 20th century, that would be ideal. I'll stop babbling now.

Posted 9:38 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#38) - MattB
1. Pud Galvin (1) – Is this his year? He was first runner-up in 1905. If he makes it, it will be an impressive climb from coming in #12 on the opening ballot, and a point in favor of deliberative democracy.

2. Joe Start (2) -- Still holding strong. One day we'll get there.

3. Al Spalding (3) – best pitcher, 1867-1876 with no close second. I simply refuse to believe that pitching was so unimportant that no candidate is worthy.

4. Bid McPhee (4) -- I try to be as conservative as possible with the new guys, but putting McPhee any lower than third goes beyond conservative to reactionary. A close study of McPhee has led me, however, to move Hardy Richardson up in my estimation.

5. Ezra Sutton (8) -- I've had him this high before, but had a change of heart. The heart is changing back now.

6. Bud Fowler (6) - the best Negro league player to retire in the 19th century gets precedence over the fifth best first baseman/ left fielder until I hear evidence to the contrary.

7. Harry Stovey (7) – a great player, but at deep positions. Still not sure about him, but he moves up in my estimation this week.

8. Cal McVey (10) -- flipped McVey and Bennett, which is no slight at all to Bennett.

9. Charlie Bennett (9) – should go in eventually, I think, but I was oversold on his defense before. The truth is likely somewhere between WS and WARP.

10. Sam Thompson (15) -- better than I though.

11. Bob Caruthers (12)

12. Pete Browning (13)

13. Mike Tiernan (15)

14. Lip Pike (off) -- bouncing around the in/out line.

15. Mickey Welch (off) -- first time on my ballot, but worthy of the 15th spot today.

Dropping off for now: Mike Griffin goes down to 16th.

Posted 9:57 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#39) - TomH
Tom Tippett's research into Voros McCracken's DIPS has been posted on Primer. Highly reommended reading, especially as we debate Spalding (great ERA, poor DIPS) versus Galvin (so-so ERA, great DIPS).

Posted 10:32 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#40) - John Murphy
It seems odd to be defending someone I DON'T think belongs in the HoM, but that's what happens when you are talking about people on the bottom of the ballot.

Sorry for being a pain in the butt, but THIS TIME IT COUNTS! :-)

Seriously, this is going to be the toughest election yet, so we need to make sure we have the right guys placed correctly (however that is).

Weyhing did have a peak. He had an of adjERA+133 early in his career. He also had a decent career length and was solid throughout.

With all due respect, no to both points. Was he ever close to being the best pitcher for any particular season? No. Was his career numbers close to being the best of his time? No.

When he had his 133 ERA+, the top guys were averaging 179. The highest ranking he ever attained for that statistic was the fifth position. Very good, but not great.

As for Ezra Sutton, I'm still working on him, but it looks like he is moving up.

I'm glad you are recognizing him more.
   153. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:57 PM (#3060958)
Posted 11:17 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#41) - Pud Galvin
Tom Tippett's research into Voros McCracken's DIPS has been posted on Primer. Highly reommended reading, especially as we debate Spalding (great ERA, poor DIPS) versus Galvin (so-so ERA, great DIPS).

This is not going to help my case, is it?

Posted 11:27 a.m., July 22, 2003 (#42) - MattB
I don't know. Even though the article reads like a refutation, it actually is very supportive of DIPS. On the other hand, since it only uses data from 1913 to the present, I don't see how it could relate to Galvin one way or the other.

Posted 12:25 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#43) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"It seems odd to be defending someone I DON'T think belongs in the HoM, but that's what happens when you are talking about people on the bottom of the ballot.

Sorry for being a pain in the butt, but THIS TIME IT COUNTS! :-)"

John is 100% correct, those 11-15 spots will probably make or break this (and the next few) election.

Galvin, McPhee, Spalding, Sutton and Start all have a very realistic chance of being elected this time.

They should all be given a second look and adding a guy like Stivetts or Weyhing or Bill Joyce (not picking on anyone in particular, just a few names that came to mind) who clearly don't belong at the bottom of the ballot at their expense gives at the impression that strategic voting might be at play (again, I'm accusing anyone imparticular!).

I haven't voted for Spalding the last two elections, but I'm going to strongly reconsider him this time around. I think anyone who leaves one of those 5 candidates off their ballot should have to justify it (including myself if I decide again that Spalding doesn't belong). It's not just about justifying the top 15 all of the time, it's also about justifying why you are going against the grain and leaving guys off that almost everyone else feels should be on. Like John said, this time it really counts, so everyone needs to do a little extra work this time around.

Posted 12:40 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#44) - John C
Carl Goetz wrote:
Could this be because you're trying to go from a system that is based on Replacement level and converting it to a system based on a guy who didn't play?

Probably. The different weight given to defensive contributions also plays a factor. Because of this, it's probably impossible to ever get a conversion factor that can completely account for the divergent WARP1 and WS of Bennett and McPhee, who are the outliers at the low end. But it might be worthwhile to investigate.

Posted 12:45 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#45) - Rusty Priske
Just so you know there is no strategic voting going on:

Because I am adding Sutton to my ballot (possibly as high as 5th, as I am starting to be convinced of his worth), if I decide to keep Weyhing on the ballot, it is at the expense of Bud Fowler, and not someone aho has a chance of being elected this year.

Posted 12:55 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#46) - TomH
I was one of the original FOPG, but my zeal for his election has waned.
Pud's case comes down to this: if you buy DIPS as-interpreted-through-WARP, he's a stud. So, are there reasons to believe that greater than 30% of his hits/balls-in-play should be allocated to him?
1. DIPS has been shown to be generally true in the modern era, with some caveats that some hurlers do exhibit an effect. In the low walk-low KO days of pre-1890, it may have been greater.
2. Scanning the Buffalo roster, and comparing it to others, the players do not appear to be defensive butchers.
3. In 1883-84, Galvin's awesome 600+ ip years, Buffalo's H/BIP rate was .293, 10 points higher than the league avg of .283. But their offense H/BIP was .298. Sounds more like park factor than bad D, and I assume DIPS ERA already accounts for park factors.
4. We have already honored our share of 1880s pitchers.

I have Galvin in my "borderline" group. I don't much care if he makes it in or not, since I honestly don't know with the tools I have whether he deserves it. Mr. Spalding may pass him on my ballot.

prelim:
IN............. McVey McPhee (I should be McHanrahan) Sutton Start
MAYBE........ Spalding Galvin Pearce Bennett
SORTA MAYBE Thompson Stovey
NICE BUT..... Griffin Pike Wiliamson Dunlap McCormick

Posted 1:10 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#47) - John Murphy
I think anyone who leaves one of those 5 candidates off their ballot should have to justify it

Whew! I'm safe! :-)

Posted 1:19 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#48) - John Murphy
Just so you know there is no strategic voting going on:

I didn't think you were doing that at all. You had Sutton tied at #15 for the last election, so you were consistent for your prelim.

BTW, I'm not above being challenged on any of my picks. I have changed my rankings in the past, so none of my picks are carved in stone. I welcome any input from anyone here.

Because I am adding Sutton to my ballot (possibly as high as 5th, as I am starting to be convinced of his worth), if I decide to keep Weyhing on the ballot, it is at the expense of Bud Fowler, and not someone aho has a chance of being elected this year.

If you honestly feel Weyhing belongs, then do what you feel is right. My name is not Frankie Frisch, Jr. I don't have all the answers.

Posted 1:20 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#49) - jimd
I think your multiplier of 3*WARP1 = WS is too high.

I've been playing with a factor of 3 and have the following observations:

1) WS favors offensive players relative to WARP-1 because of it's low "replacement level".

2) WARP-1 favors players at key fielding positions; this is what you'd expect when the pitcher's value is redistributed around the team due to the different pitching/fielding balance. Catcher gets a big boost.

3) Large discrepancies exist when a player has a fabulous fielding season (see Richardson 1881). I guess this is due to all of the cutoffs built into WS, causing it to refuse to credit what it sees as extremely good (or bad) fielding numbers that lie outside of the limits imposed on each of the individual fielding skills.

4) BP uses 5 year averages for park factors; WS uses single-season factors but "regresses" them by adding 100 runs and 10 games to the raw home and away numbers. There are problems with both techniques but there is no commonly accepted solution to this problem either (that I know of).

Posted 1:42 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#50) - Rusty Priske
I thought I would share the process I have been going through with older players.

I really like stats. I have a problem when it comes to analyzing players without proper stats. I refuse to ignore players that have too much time before the time things like WS kick in, but I also refuse to give them standing until I am comfortable with them.

I never voted for George Wright (actually I think I had him 15th once.) but he was voted in before I got on track with him.

I initially didn't vote for Al Spalding or Joe Start.

Start was first for me, as I got his worth straight in my head. I now have him 3rd on my ballot.

Then came Spalding. I now have him 2nd.

This week it is Sutton. I recognize that I was using a "partial" career for him, but that is all I was willing to use until I was comfortable with the rest of him.

This week I have him 5th.

So who is left?

Well, I would be happy to hear convincing arguments for Cal McVey, Lip Pike, Dickey Pearce, and Levi Meyerle because they are getting votes from people and I don't even have them on my radar.

In short, I am happy to hear criticisms because my opinions are like a constantly changing river: you can take a snap-shot but you are only getting that moment in time. :)
   154. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:58 PM (#3060959)
Posted 3:49 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#51) - KJOK (e-mail)
Carl Goetz wrote:
Could this be because you're trying to go from a system that is based on Replacement level and converting it to a system based on a guy who didn't play?

And I concur with John's assessment - Win Shares DOES have a replacement level built in, but it is exremely low (about the 20% level) while WARP has a replacement level of around 40% IIRC.

Which leads into the question whether Win Shares or WARP are even the correct metrics when you're trying to identify the BEST players. I think measuring "ABOVE AVERAGE" or something even higher is probably the way to go.

Posted 4:12 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#52) - John Murphy
Which leads into the question whether Win Shares or WARP are even the correct metrics when you're trying to identify the BEST players. I think measuring "ABOVE AVERAGE" or something even higher is probably the way to go.

For the most part, I'm going with a combination of Win Shares and WS per season. By doing this, it tends not to overstate the contributions of either the long (Pete Rose) or short (Sandy Koufax) guys.

Posted 4:13 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#53) - John Murphy
short career guys

Posted 4:45 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#54) - Chris Cobb
Which leads into the question whether Win Shares or WARP are even the correct metrics when you're trying to identify the BEST players. I think measuring "ABOVE AVERAGE" or something even higher is probably the way to go.

KJOK, It seems to me that these measures do a fine job of identifying the best players -- they have the most wins or win shares each season, and if you want to use them to measure "above average" play, you can figure out an average value and subtract it out of the totals.

I think the difference in ratings is not a product of the statistical systems folks use, but a product of different ideas they have about how "above average" is to be valued (not how it is to be measured).

Posted 4:57 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#55) - KJOK (e-mail)
VERY PRELIMINARY BALLOT, SUBJECT TO CHANGE:

1. CHARLIE BENNETT, C, Comp is Roy Campanella. Better hitter and fielder than Clements. Until Roger Bresnahan, only Ewing was a better Catcher. Unless you’re taking the position that almost NO catchers were among the most valuable players in the 19th century, I find it hard not to advocate Bennett.

2. AL SPALDING, P, Top NA pitcher. Comp is Dizzy Dean. If not Spalding, then what pre-1880’s pitcher deserves to go in?

3. PETE BROWNING, CF/LF - Hits like Joe Jackson, fields like Greg Luzinski playing CF. However, even with his poor fielding he has one of the highest Win Shares/Year for the 19th century.

4. SAM THOMPSON, RF, Harry Heilmann to an T (or an “H”) Another great hitter who’s fielding was average.

5. MIKE TIERNAN – Similar value to Gary Sheffiield. Just slightly below Sam Thompson.

6 MIKE GRIFFIN, CF – Fred Lynn/Jimmy Wynn offensively, and was a better CF than both. Seems to be very underrated.

7. JOE START, 1B,. Similar to Tony Perez, IF you assume a normal career progression that is not fully documented.

8. BID McPHEE, 2B – I think Graig Nettles is his best comp, as he was relatively a much better hitter than Brooks Robinson AND a terrific fielder.

9. CAL McVEY, C, Modern Comp: Gene Tenace, only better and longer career. Best catcher before Ewing/Bennett.

10. HARRY STOVEY, LF/1B, Comp is Albert Belle.

11. BILL JOYCE, 3B, Hard to find a modern 2B or 3B comp. Hit almost like Hornsby, but couldn’t field, and had a shorter career. Al Rosen comp? I don’t see why he’d be more HOM worthy if he had added a few mediocre seasons to get a longer career. Nevertheless, I’ve been convinced he probably shouldn’t be in the top 5 right now.

12. NED WILLIAMSON, 3B, Best comp may be Jeff Kent with Bill Mazeroski’s defense, which is a pretty potent combination.

13. LIP PIKE – Think I’ve shortchanged him on past ballots. Comp is Hack Wilson.

14. EZRA SUTTON – Best comp is Miller Huggins. He was a good hitter, but nowhere near Joyce or Meyerle or even Deacon White or Denny Lyons. He was a good fielder, but nowhere near Ned Williamson or Nash. Solid all-around player, but had a lot of mediocre seasons and overall is not quite good enough to rank higher.

15. Pud Galvin, P – Comp is Burleigh Grimes. Lots of innings, but over career wasn’t that much above league average. He didn’t prevent as many runs as some other pitchers, wasn’t a great hitter, and doesn’t have a great W/L record to push him higher.

LEFT OFF THE BALLOT:

16. Bob Caruthers, P/RF, Combination of Carl Mays & Gavvy Cravath. Not convinced he’s not a better choice than Pud, but quite a few less innings has him down here.
17. Tony Mullane, P – Modern Comp is Ted Lyons.
18. Jim McCormick, P –Modern Comp is Eppa Rixey. Below Tony Mullance in effectiveness and playing time.
19. Mickey Welch, P – Tommy John Comp.
20 .Levi Meyerle, 3B – Somewhat of a Bill Joyce clone, only had even shorter career than Joyce. From 1871-74, he hit about like Rogers Hornsby.
21. Dickey Pearce, SS – Need more evidence to move up. Looks more like Vizquel/Marion/Belanger type from what I know.
22. Billy Nash, 3B – Couldn’t hit or field as well as Ned Williamson, but played a little more, mostly due to season expansion. Comp is Dick McAuliffe.
23. Jack Clements, C – Good, but not quite good enough.

Posted 6:23 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#56) - jimd
Counting only seasons of 10 G or more, I have it at:
1871 - 4 HOMers
1872-78 - 6
1879-80 - 12
1881-91 - 14-16 per year
1892 - 12
1893 - 11
then back to single digits, far too recent to be accurate..

That's a pretty darn big preference for the 1880s over the 1870s...

HOM All-Star team of the 1870's

P. vacant (A. Spalding?)
C. D. White (+ C. McVey?)
1B vacant (J. Start?)
2B R. Barnes
3B C. Anson (+ E. Sutton? L. Meyerle?)
SS G. Wright (+ D. Pearce?)
OF J. O'Rourke
OF P. Hines
OF vacant (L. Pike? C. Jones?)

Posted 7:29 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#57) - Clint (e-mail)
No strategic voting on my part. I have consistently been one of the main proponents of peak over career and of the value of 19th century pitchers.

The reasons that I may (but may not) vote for Stivetts are plain. I have set forth some of them above. Stivetts may have been Tom Glavine (or at least Tom Glavine lite) in a previous life. Pitched in the '90s for the dominating Braves/Beaneaters, was a great hitter, was the number 2 guy on his own staff but was -- at least in one year -- probably the best pitcher in the league, and was among the league leaders a number of years. If he hadn't crapped out at 28 years old, he would plainly be a serious contender for the HOM. A vote for the pitcher with the fourth most win shares in the decade is simply not a frivolous vote.

In contrast, as I have said before, Bid McPhee was only once the best 2B in a league where he was getting bested by Yank Robinson and Sam Barkley, not exactly prime competition. As with Bid McPhee, I was probably the BEOJG, who at least had the benefit of having, once or twice, been an "MVP-contender."

My votes are perfectly consistent with this philosophy. I respect those who don't share this philosophy. If you weigh peak vs. career differently than I do, then you SHOULD have Bid McPhee high on your ballot. Clearly that's what most people think. I just don't.

Posted 10:13 p.m., July 22, 2003 (#58) - John C
Clint wrote:
In contrast, as I have said before, Bid McPhee was only once the best 2B in a league where he was getting bested by Yank Robinson and Sam Barkley, not exactly prime competition.

What year is that? How are you ranking him - by WS?

Bid McPhee finished in the top 3 in RC for 2b 9 times in his career -finishing 1st in Runs Created in 1886 and 1895.

By WARP1, McPhee was the best 2b in 1886, 1887, 1889, 1893, and 1895.
Here's his WARP1 finishes among 2B (defines as players who played greater than 70% of their games at 2b) from 1882 - 1896:
1882 - 3rd (behind Browning and Dunlap)
1883 - 4th (behind Farrell, Burdock, Dunlap) - tied with Richardson
1884 - 4th (behind Dunlap's UA year, Pfeffer, Barkley)
1885 - 4th (behind Dunlap, Pop Smith, Barkley)*
1886 - 1st
1887 - 1st*
1888 - 2nd (behind Bierbaur)
1889 - 1st
1890 - 4th (behind Childs, Bierbaur, Hub Collins)
1891 - 2nd (behind Crooks)
1892 - 2nd (behind Childs)
1893 - 1st
1894 - 3rd (behind Childs and Lowe)
1895 - 1st
1896 - 2nd (behind Childs)

*In 1885 and 1887, Hardy Richardson had more WARP1, but only played 52% and 53% of his games at 2b. So, if you want to use 50% as the cutoff for games played at a position, then McPhee is 5th in '85 and 2nd and '87.

That's 15 consecutive years where he's in the top 4 at his position -5 as the #1.

Obviously, WARP1 is just one tool to try to measure value. It's not adjusted for league difficulty. Perhaps it overvalues 2b defense. But, it seems that WS undervalues 2b defense. Who's correct? Dunno. But, it's interesting to see that McPhee rates as a great player by WARP1.

Posted 9:37 a.m., July 23, 2003 (#59) - Brad Harris (e-mail)
1. Ezra Sutton
2. Joe Start
3. Cal McVey
4. Bid McPhee
5. Harry Stovey
6. Charlie Bennett
7. Al Spalding
8. Sam Thompson
9. Fred Dunlap
10. Lip Pike - first time on my ballot
11. Ned Williamson
12. Pete Browning
13. Pud Galvin
14. Mike Tiernan
15. Dickey Pearce - first time on my ballot

Posted 12:22 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#60) - KJOK (e-mail)
jmid wrote:

"HOM All-Star team of the 1870's
P. vacant (A. Spalding?)
C. D. White (+ C. McVey?)
1B vacant (J. Start?)
2B R. Barnes
3B C. Anson (+ E. Sutton? L. Meyerle?)
SS G. Wright (+ D. Pearce?)
OF J. O'Rourke
OF P. Hines
OF vacant (L. Pike? C. Jones?)"

Good selections. I'd probably go with this configuration:
C Cal McVey*
1B/3B Cap Anson*
2B Ross Barnes*
3B/C Deacon White*
SS George Wright*
LF Charley Jones
CF Lip Pike
RF/LF Jim O'Rourke*
P Al Spalding*

OTHERS
1B Joe Start*
3B Ezra Sutton
3B Levi Meyerle
LF Tom York
P Tommy Bond
LF George Hall

* = Indicates HOM worth IMHO.
   155. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2009 at 11:58 PM (#3060960)
Posted 1:10 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#61) - Mark McKinniss
This is my official ballot for the 1906 election. I'll be out all next week, so I'll need someone to post this in the appropriate thread.

Big changes afoot. I re-examined my rankings and procedures, and came to the conclusion that I was not making appropriate positional adjustments. More infielders on the ballot this week as a result. I'll do my best to explain the thinking along the way.

1 (1) Sam Thompson--No change in the top 3. These guys all have superior numbers to everyone else on the ballot.

2 (2) Harry Stovey--see above.
3 (3) Pud Galvin--The 6000-some innings is huge. I'll argue a little bit later that career length is not as important in the olden days, but Pud's career wasn't all that long. He packed a ton of value into a relatively short time.

4 (-) Fred Dunlap--Out of nowhere. It's clear that he's a better hitter than Bid, and it's also pretty clear that he was at least in the same league defensively. What he doesn't have is the 6 additional years of service. They're close, and I may be overreacting due to the fact that I had basically missed this guy on my earlier ballots, but I think I'd take Dunlap if I were a GM in the early 1880s.

5 (6) Jim Whitney
6 (8) Jim McCormick--These two move up primarily on the basis of other people getting moved down, and the absence of any worthy newcomers. I'm not all that convinced of HoM worthiness, but I am convinced that this ballot is primed for some new blood.

7 (4) Tip O'Neill--Probably had him overrated. Still a great hitter, but not really that close to Stovey or Thompson.

8 (12) Bid McPhee--Gets a pretty big boost as I was semi-intentionally holding him down last week. Not quite ready to declare him hall-worthy, but that's a pretty good career.

9 (7) Mike Tiernan--see Tip.

10 (10) Bob Caruthers--pass.

11 (-) Ned Williamson--And here's where it gets interesting. I believe I severely underrated 3rd basemen, but I'm not sure it mattered. I picture Ned as the better all-around player in the Ezra v. Ned debate. I put Ned 15th in the 1898 ballot as a nod to that, but frankly I don't see Ned as being a HoMer.

12 (-) Ed McKean--Not sure I believe the super-bad defensive rep. Numbers don't look THAT bad. Better hitter than Glasscock.

13 (11) Bill Hutchison

14 (-) Cal McVey--I've been convinced of his ballot-worthiness. Much easier to envision him as a "great" than Joe Start. I still, as you can see, employ a timeline adjustment, but I've got a hard time giving people all that much credit for long careers when there was so much incentive to NOT play baseball professionally in the 1800s. Show me the peak, I suppose.

15 (-) Al Spalding--Ditto.

Posted 1:15 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#62) - jimd
HOM All-Star team of the 1870's

P. vacant (A. Spalding?)
C. D. White (+ C. McVey?)
1B vacant (J. Start?)
2B R. Barnes
3B C. Anson (+ E. Sutton? L. Meyerle?)
SS G. Wright (+ D. Pearce?)
OF J. O'Rourke
OF P. Hines
OF vacant (L. Pike? C. Jones?)

These are the HOM selections plus the current candidates, organized by position to display any shortages and surpluses. They are not my personal selections (though I voted for all of the selections and support some of the candidates).

Posted 1:16 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#63) - John Murphy
3B/C Deacon White*

Good try, KJOK, but White didn't play third until the eighties. You're not knocking Sutton off that easily. :-)

BTW, I'm surprised you don't like Sutton since he had a great peak.

Posted 1:44 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#64) - John Murphy
11 (-) Ned Williamson--And here's where it gets interesting. I believe I severely underrated 3rd basemen, but I'm not sure it mattered. I picture Ned as the better all-around player in the Ezra v. Ned debate. I put Ned 15th in the 1898 ballot as a nod to that, but frankly I don't see Ned as being a HoMer.

I'm not using this to beat you up, Mark, but as a springboard for some thoughts on Sutton/Williamson.

Without adjusting for schedule or including his NA seasons, Ezra follows Ed by only 14 Win Shares. However, he beats Williamson in WS per season 24.98 to 23.34. Since their WS seasons encompass the same league and era, their respective competition is not a factor (except for maybe 1876).

The funny thing is the NBHA still has Sutton with the better peak: top three seasons - 71 to 60; top five seasons - 98 to 77. Those are unadjusted numbers.

Now baseballreference.com and WARP don't adjust for Williamson's 1884 season for the crazy park effect that year, which leaves him ahead of Sutton (which is ridiculous). Lake Front Park had one of the major park adjustments of all-time that year. James takes it into account.

If you factor in Sutton's NA seasons, he zips by Williamson easily career-wise. If you take peak and career, Sutton tops Williamson.

I can't see Ed above him.

Posted 1:59 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#65) - John C
Now baseballreference.com and WARP don't adjust for Williamson's 1884 season for the crazy park effect that year

John, OPS+ and EQA (which is used to derive WARP AFAIK) take park affects into account. Do you mean that the discount for the (N)ed's home park is not severe enough to account for the 1884 season? How did you determine that EQA/WARP doesn't discount enough for the home park?

Posted 2:58 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#66) - John Murphy
Do you mean that the discount for the (N)ed's home park is not severe enough to account for the 1884 season?

Bingo.

How did you determine that EQA/WARP doesn't discount enough for the home park?

From baseballreference.com:

We use a three-year average Park Factor for players and teams unless they change home parks. Then a two-year average is used, unless the park existed for only one year. Then a one-year mark is used. If a team started up in Year 1, played two years in the first park, one in the next, and three in the park after that and then stopped play, the average would be as follows (where Fn is the one-year park factor for year n):

Year 1 and 2 = (F1 + F2)/2 Year 4 = (F4 + F5)/2
Year 3 = F3 Year 5 = (F4 + F5 + F6)/3
Year 6 = (F5 + F6)/2

As for WARP, I'm guessing since they don't explain how they create their park factors. At least I haven't seen an explanation.

WS uses just a one-year park factor for the year in question.

While it might makes sense to use a floating park factor for parks without any major stadium adjustments, Lake Front Park had a hugely significant one in '84 that can't be ignored. Because the distance down the right field-line was only 215 feet, the White Stockings were able hit 131 of their 142 homeruns at home. Williamson hit 25 of his 27 at home.

BTW, for his career, he hit 57 at home and 7 away.

Posted 3:59 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#67) - jimd
Some of BP's stuff is explained in their glossary. It requires some careful reading though and not all is revealed.

The upshot on BP's park factors is, 5 year average. The link contains another link to a table showing the park factors they use for each year. Enjoy.

Posted 4:02 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#68) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
I don't think Total Baseball (which is where the B-R factors are derived from) uses multiple year park factors for parks before 1909. I'm pretty sure they use 1-year factors before 1909.

This doesn't make much difference though, Sutton's peak is still higher than Williamson's, even if the park factors are correct. Career value is not even a question.

Posted 4:12 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#69) - John Murphy
Thanks, Jim. I don't know how I missed that.

1883 CHI-N 1084 1062
1884 CHI-N 1088 1076

So BP has virtually the same park factor for both years. Does that make sense to anyone?
   156. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM (#3060963)
Posted 5:53 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#71) - jimd
Sorry Joe. It's Win Shares that uses "regressed" single-season park factors before 1909. Here's a quick sample for Louisville, which is nearly neutral in 1876 and a hitter's heaven in 1877. First number is a single season factor (ready to use), second number is the average (which is actually used).

BProspectus
1876 LOU-N 1011 1156
1877 LOU-N 1300 1156

BReference
1876 Louisville: Batting - 118/Pitching - 118 (over 100 favors batters)
1877 Louisville: Batting - 118/Pitching - 118 (over 100 favors batters)

Interestingly, Chicago did the reverse. St. Louis neutralized an extreme pitcher's park while Hartford did the reverse, and Cincinnati was like Hartford but less extreme. Only Boston stayed relatively sane.

1876 BOS-N 963 1004
1877 BOS-N 1033 1012

1876 CHI-N 1180 1059
1877 CHI-N 1009 1066

1876 CIN-N 974 941
1877 CIN-N 921 948

1876 HAR-N 1015 977
1877 HAR-N 892 969

1876 STL-N 833 944
1877 STL-N 999 944

For whatever the reason (small samples?), these are extreme park factors, and they're changing like crazy. 1300 is worse than Colorado, and 833 is worse than the AstroDome.

Posted 7:28 p.m., July 23, 2003 (#72) - KJOK (e-mail)
John - I think you need to rethink your park adjustment issue with Ned Williamson. Even if a method uses a 3 year adjustment instead of a single season, Williamson played ALL OF THE YEARS surrounding 1884 with Chicago, so if he's not getting "penalized" enough by the factor in 1884, he's getting "overpenalized" by the same amount in the surrounding years. And since his # of plate appearances in those years are almost identical, the net effect on his actual adjusted stats is practically ZERO!

Posted 2:46 a.m., July 24, 2003 (#73) - John Murphy
John - I think you need to rethink your park adjustment issue with Ned Williamson. Even if a method uses a 3 year adjustment instead of a single season, Williamson played ALL OF THE YEARS surrounding 1884 with Chicago, so if he's not getting "penalized" enough by the factor in 1884, he's getting "overpenalized" by the same amount in the surrounding years. And since his # of plate appearances in those years are almost identical, the net effect on his actual adjusted stats is practically ZERO!

You're 100% right - career-wise. The problem is BP and baseballreference.com, by using the 3 year average, distorts the peaks and valleys of his career.

If we were to take his best 3 OPS+ seasons with baseballreference.com, they would be 1879 (151+), 1884 (169+) and 1882 (132+). If we adjusted the '84 season, we would still have the '79 season to use for his 3-year peak, but the other two would probably be no greater than 130+. His peak is totally distorted by not adjusting for the huge park factor of '84.

Posted 8:48 a.m., July 24, 2003 (#74) - Chris Cobb
As we're all trying to draw the firmest distinctions we can among players we've been looking at for a while, there's a lot of talk about peak (career value, I guess, being more straightforward with only matters of season length, league quality, time-line adjustments, and estimates for undocumented play to consider . . . ) but I often find myself unclear about just what posters mean when they talk about peak. How do they measure it, actually? How do they value it?

I ask this question particularly because I sometimes get the idea that, in dealing with peak and peak vs. career, there's a lot of "eyeball measurement" going on. Maybe that's necessary, but I'd find it useful, as I think about how to measure and to value peak, to see what others really do. I suspect that there's a lot of variety.

Since I've raised the question, I'll state what I do. I started off thinking about top three seasons and best five consecutive seasons and WS/162 games, as per the BJ NHBA, but I'm now feeling like these ways of selecting information are too arbitrary, so I'm calculating what I think of as "total peak performance." I've calculated an average win share level for position players under the conditions that apply for a particular group of seasons, and subtract that total from a player's WS each year that the player was above average to find the total number of WS a player was above average in a career.

I then use differences in "total peak" to give me a suggestion about when to shift players out of a basic rank order established by career win shares. If the difference between career peaks for any two players is about the same as the difference between career win shares and the player with the lower career total has the higher peak, I consider whether to switch the players in the rankings.

Posted 8:58 a.m., July 24, 2003 (#75) - Al Peterson
Question for you all: I've been trying to come up added information when trying to place Sam Thompson in the voting ranks. Courtesy of mlb.com, here's some material about the Philadelphia home park starting in 1887.

"After holding their first spring training at Recreation Park, the Phillies opened their maiden season there, losing to the Providence Grays, 4-3, on May 1, 1883. The Phillies remained at Recreation Park for four seasons, but in need of a park to accommodate larger crowds, finally moved out after the 1887 season. The Phillies moved into a brand new stadium at Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue. Officially called National League Park, it was informally called Huntingdon Street Grounds and Philadelphia Base Ball Park, it was built at a cost of $101,000. The original park seated 12,500.

Soon after its construction, National League Park was being hailed as the finest and most modern stadium in the nation. Using brick instead of wood for the outside part of the structure, it included two 75-foot high turrets at either end of the 5,000-seat pavilion behind home plate and a 165-foot high turret at the main entrance at 15th and Huntingdon Streets. Sheds for 55 horse-drawn carriages were located under the grandstands.

The park also had some highly unusual features, foremost of which was the high outfield wall that extended from right to center field. Just 272 feet down the right field line through most of the years (originally, it was 300 feet), the wall was notorious for turning pop flies into home runs and screaming line drives into singles. National League Park opened on April 30, 1887 with the Phillies defeating the New York Giants, 19-10. In 1894, a major fire destroyed much of the park, and it was rebuilt using mostly steel, a radical new technique in stadium construction. Capacity was increased to 18,800, and clubhouses were installed in center field. The Phillies clubhouse contained a swimming pool. "

The new park eventually became the Baker Bowl and we know the rest. So my question is Sam Thompson's accomplishments due to him being a left handed hitter in a park whose park factor is not extreme but looks to greatly benefit a LH pull hitter? Is he a product of his ballpark (as well as a good hitters enviroment in general in the 1890s)?
   157. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:02 AM (#3060964)
Posted 9:34 a.m., July 24, 2003 (#76) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
Regarding peak. I measure peak as best 5 years(not necessarily consecutive) and best 8 years(also NNC). I determine who the bes players are by this measure and I compare that to my list of best players career value only. I then make a hybrid list that attempts to value both equally. I admit that 5 and 8 years are an arbitrary number, but that is what works for me. I don't use consecutive years because I think that discriminates against players who don't follow a typical career progression for one reason or another. Right now, I am using W1 with an adjustment to 162 games and an AA discount as well. I eventually plan on using both WS and W3 once season lengths and leagues stabilize into there more modern form- ie when I start to trust that WS is accurately evaluating pitching and defense. I think that I will feel comfortable with this once we get to players who played their entire career after the Turn of the Century.

Posted 10:35 a.m., July 24, 2003 (#77) - John Murphy
The new park eventually became the Baker Bowl and we know the rest. So my question is Sam Thompson's accomplishments due to him being a left handed hitter in a park whose park factor is not extreme but looks to greatly benefit a LH pull hitter? Is he a product of his ballpark (as well as a good hitters enviroment in general in the 1890s)?

His homerun home/away breakdown is 84/42. He definitely received an advantage, but not of Gavvy Cravath or Ed Williamson proportions.

Posted 12:01 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#78) - Brian H.
Rather than simply post my provsional ballot for this "year" (last years ballot minus 2 etc.) I decided it would be mosre interesting to post my contenders in several categories of candidates with some of the resoning behind my rankings:

Pitchers (I am BIG fan of Pitchers relative to the rest of the electorate so far):
1. Spalding -- Of the Pitchers on the ballot he is the only one who considered the Premier Pitcher in baseball for any period of time. His lifetime record is obscenely good (yes he had help -- but they would have replaced him fast if he wasn't great). He could hit and he contributed mightily to several actual penants.
2. Bob Carruthers -- If it was just his peak vs. Galvin's career he might lose. However, Carruthers was among the 19th century's biggest pennant winners he could hit nearly as well as any Pitcher (maybe until Ruth !). The overall AA "CY Young award" winner.
3. Pud Galvin -- his totals are unmatched until Cy Young in several categories. He never walked anyone and threw enough shutouts to cover for his 300+ loses.
I vacilate on the next few: Mullane, Welch and then McCormick, Matthews, Stivetts and SIlver King.

NA and earlier Stars -- I find this group very difficult because it involves a great deal of guesstimating about anything bvefore 1871 (plus the NA was far less organized and competitive than the NL).

1. Spalding -- I think reputation wise he is the best one left and his NA/NL numbers support this.
2. McVey -- He clearly has an HOM-worthy peak without even getting into what he did on either end of it. I also like his versatility.
3. Start -- I just haven't gotten excited about him. Maybe its because so much of his case relies on estimating his pre-1871 career. Also he played First Base (very well I might add !) and we have already elected 3 19th Century 1Bs.
4- 6 : Pearce, Pike, Creighton et al (I need more data -- I'm not comfortable putting them above the other 3 with what I have).

AA
1. Carruthers - see above
2. Stovey -- I'll take his offense over McPhee's defense.
3. McPhee -- career wise he may have been the best defensive player of the 19th century.
4. Browning -- Great Hitter, I think Stovey's overall offensive package beats his. Hard to place him relative to McPhee.
5. Mullane -- His career extended beyond the AA, James actually ranks him above Galvin, Welch & McCormick. That missing season is something I need to come to grips with. We never wound up dealing with it for Rusie because he was first ballot.
6. O'Neill -- strong peak but lacking in career compared with the 5 above.

I'll try and post where I stand on the other candidates later (Sutton, Thompson, Bennett, Tiernan et al).

Posted 12:15 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#79) - KJOK (e-mail)
"The new park eventually became the Baker Bowl and we know the rest. So my question is Sam Thompson's accomplishments due to him being a left handed hitter in a park whose park factor is not extreme but looks to greatly benefit a LH pull hitter? Is he a product of his ballpark (as well as a good hitters enviroment in general in the 1890s)? "
1. We don't really know for sure since we don't have LH/RH data for those years, but my best guess is that it's only a slight advantage for LH hitters.

2. To me, the more important question is "does it really matter if a park favors LH hitters or RH hitters more?" Because, even if it does, those hits by the LH hitter provide REAL WINS for their team, and isn't that what we're trying to measure? I think the answer is yes, which is why I think using a park's overall run value to discount performance is the way to go EVEN IF we have LH and RH data.

Posted 12:36 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#80) - Jeff M
Al:

The ballpark probably turned some of Thompson's pop flies into home runs -- although he only hit 4, 7, and 9 HR in 90, 91 and 92, so it didn't happen too often in those years.

On the other hand, it is just as likely that it turned a fair number of hits that would otherwise be doubles and triples into singles if he was banging them off the wall. I'm not sure the net effect would be tremendous in Thompson's case.
   158. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:02 AM (#3060965)
Posted 12:41 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#81) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"To me, the more important question is "does it really matter if a park favors LH hitters or RH hitters more?" Because, even if it does, those hits by the LH hitter provide REAL WINS for their team, and isn't that what we're trying to measure? I think the answer is yes, which is why I think using a park's overall run value to discount performance is the way to go EVEN IF we have LH and RH data."

On this one I strongly disagree, sort of (if that makes sense). While real wins are provided (and rightfully counted in the player's favor), I think the question changes when we are evaluating players in terms of being the best ever.

Players who are disadvantaged by the park can't really do anything about it (I don't think skills are as adaptable as most others do), especially when the advantages/disadvantages are huge (such as the disadvantage old Yankee Stadium gave RHB and RHP). I think allowances need to be made for this. I'm not saying that if the hypothesis is true, we should disregard Thompson or anything, just that a demerit of some sort is probably appropriate if he was taking advantage of something a RH batter would have a lot more trouble doing.

Posted 1:11 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#82) - jimd
Re Sam Thompson and being a left-handed hitter in Baker Bowl: Billy Hamilton, Jack Clements, and Elmer Flick may have some relevance to that discussion, as well as Chuck Klein from a later era.

Posted 1:46 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#83) - Chris Cobb
Maybe it's the obvious point, but the effects of the Green Monster in Fenway should provide some examples of the effect of the Baker Bowl's wall, though at 272' down the line it was obviously more extreme.

Billy Hamilton -- a left-handed Wade Boggs with speed?

Posted 2:03 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#84) - Wade Boggs
I was a left-handed Wade Boggs too.

Posted 2:18 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#85) - jimd
Wade has a good point. Hitting to the opposite field also gets its benefit when lazy fly balls bounce off the wall for doubles.

though at 272' down the line it was obviously more extreme.

It's at least 20 feet closer. :-)

Posted 2:37 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#86) - Al Peterson
I think I'm more in Joe's camp in terms of what to do with Thompson. We're comparing player vs. player and environment has to be considered, albeit to a small degree, when doing so.

The short porch in Philadelphia might explain some of Thompson's fielding numbers as well. Not sure how to get my arms around that issue yet.

Posted 4:16 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#87) - Brian H
One thing that troubles me about discounting Thompson's production because he got the most out of his home ballpark -- isn't that similar to (but not quite the same as) discounting Barnes for making use of the fair foul rule. To a large extent both players made the best of what they were presented with and the results were actual runs/wins/pennants or whatever.

Posted 4:18 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#88) - karlmagnus
Having finally elected Old Hoss, I'm busy re-jigging my ballot for next week. 1870s players in 4 of the top 5 positions, which reflects the fact that we've elected everybody really good except Galvin from the 1880s. However, my no. 6 is contrary to conventional wisdom, and I thought it worth running up the flagpole prior to registering it definitvely:

6. Mickey Welch – 307-210 comes to impress me more and more (yes, I know it was mostly with the strong Giants.)1885 looks like a pretty good peak too; 44-11 with a 1.67 ERA is pretty impressive, compared for example to Clarkson’s 49-19 at 2.73 in 1889 or his other peak of 53-16 with a higher ERA of 1.85 in Welch’s peak year of 1885. Clarkson gets ERA+ of 165 for 1885, compared to Welch’s 161, the difference presumably due to “park effects” between Chicago and NY. Well, I don’t think we have any idea what the “park effects” should be for the 1885 National League. If it’s calculated by looking at runs for/against in each park during the season, then there is room for huge random fluctuations as you’re talking sample sizes of 60 games or so. Welch not as good as Clarkson, but not that far off.

Posted 5:20 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#89) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Brian, I see your point, but Barnes took advantage of something that was available to every player in the league (a rule). Thompson (if the hypothesis presented earlier is correct) took advantage of something that was available to LHB in his park. That separates the two for me.

Re: the close LF wall at Fenway or wherever else they've had them throughout history. Based on play-by-play data, flyballs that aren't HR are generally hit to the opposite field, while ground balls are pulled. So having a tall, close wall in LF is a big advantage for a LHB (he doesn't need to necessarily adapt his skills to take advantage of this), in that his popups will either hit or go over the wall for lots of 2B and a few cheap HR.

Posted 5:22 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#90) - KJOK (e-mail)
" One thing that troubles me about discounting Thompson's production because he got the most out of his home ballpark -- isn't that similar to (but not quite the same as) discounting Barnes for making use of the fair foul rule. To a large extent both players made the best of what they were presented with and the results were actual runs/wins/pennants or whatever."

This is my position also. I'm 100% in favor of discounting or marking up a player's raw stats based on their run scoring environment.

However, NO player played in a neutral, vacuum environment. Every player's stats are impacted by their home park and their league environment (Barnes, etc.). Unless you have sufficient data to "adjust" all players to a neutral environment, I don't think it's correct to cherry pick certain players to adjust up or down in this manner.
   159. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:04 AM (#3060968)
Posted 5:26 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#91) - KJOK (e-mail)
"Brian, I see your point, but Barnes took advantage of something that was available to every player in the league (a rule). Thompson (if the hypothesis presented earlier is correct) took advantage of something that was available to LHB in his park. That separates the two for me."

I think this is not the best way to go. For an example, if Joe Dimaggio either didn't or couldn't adjust to the deep LF in Yankee Stadium while batting, then he was costing his team REAL outs, regardless of whether he might have performed better in a park that was more favorable to RH batters.

And if Jim Rice was somehow better able to take advantage of the Green Monster than other players, then he was providing his team with REAL HR's, REAL WINS, etc. that should not be "adjusted out" of his performance.

Posted 5:30 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#92) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
RE: Welch

Player-----------Pennants adjWARP3
Pud Galvin-------0.94 -- 94.1
Amos Rusie------0.88 -- 88.6
Jim McCormick--0.82 -- 85.1
Jim Whitney------0.81 -- 78.3
Hoss Radbourn---0.81 -- 83.9
Tim Keefe--------0.72 -- 79.6
John Clarkson----0.69 -- 72.0
Mickey Welch----0.65 -- 70.5

Bob Caruthers----0.47 -- 53.6
Al Spalding-------0.40 -- 45.3 (does not include play before age 20)
Bill Hutchison----0.36 -- 39.9
Silver King-------0.35 -- 39.5
Jack Stivetts-----0.33 -- 39.4
Tony Mullane-----0.28 -- 31.9
Dave Foutz-------0.21 -- 25.0
Bobby Mathews---0.08 -- 3.7

It does see Welch as close to Clarkson, but it says we overrated Clarkson (which we might or might not have).

I don't mind Welch getting in eventually, but he's got to get in line behind Pud definitely, and maybe Whitney and McCormick, depending on how much we give credit to the pitchers that took advantage of the game of the early 1880s, where an individual pitcher (especially one that could hit) had more impact than he ever has.

After that, there's a distinct dropoff, which is clearly where the line should be drawn. I wouldn't vote for anyone below Welch on that list, except maybe Spalding, if I can be convinced that WARP3 doesn't accurately reflect his contribution.

I strongly think that if you like WARP3, the pennants added approach is a great way to combine peak and career value into a usable number.

Posted 5:36 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#93) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"I think this is not the best way to go. For an example, if Joe Dimaggio either didn't or couldn't adjust to the deep LF in Yankee Stadium while batting, then he was costing his team REAL outs, regardless of whether he might have performed better in a park that was more favorable to RH batters."

I don't buy that for a second on DiMaggio. Name the RHB that adjusted to Yankee Stadium. There was absolutely nothing he could have done about that wall being 450 feet away. ANY RHB would have cost the Yankees wins there (relative to the wins he could have provided a team in another environment), it's not his fault they didn't trade him for Ted Williams.

Same goes for Jim Rice, sure he drew benefit from that short porch. But would moving him to Yankee Stadium have made him a different player? I don't think so. Adaptability of skills is very important, and in extreme cases (like Yankee Stadium, Fenway, the Baker Bowl) where a park affects types of players differently (speedy players at Busch or Royals Stadium in the 80s is another example), it's entirely appropriate to try to account for that.

Posted 7:01 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#94) - jimd
My take on Thompson's defense, WS vs WARP, as that they're probably both right, given their point of view. Win Shares treats all Outfielders alike; Thompson apparently didn't make as many plays as the average OF'er, therefore he's not so hot (B-R.com backs this up; his Range Factor is .23 plays per game less than the average OF'er). WARP considers LF, CR, and RF each as a separate position (and attempts to estimate breakdowns when the guy plays multiple OF positions); Thompson apparently made more plays (particularly assists) than the typical RF'er, therefore he's above average.

Like with catching (Ewing vs Bennett), to me fielding WS appears to be finely tuned to the modern game and has trouble dealing with stats that are out-of-whack for a modern fielder. This doesn't mean that WARP-1 is necessarily better, but when they give significantly different answers, it starts one thinking.

Outfield play, now and then:

Fielding stats for modern outfielders per game:
2001 2.111 PO, .064 A, .039 E, .015 DP, .317 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs

Fielding stats for 19th century outfielders per game:
1871 1.866 PO, .117 A, .402 E, .021 DP, .213 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1876 1.936 PO, .170 A, .379 E, .036 DP, .224 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1878 1.508 PO, .262 A, .353 E, .039 DP, .188 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1881 1.795 PO, .267 A, .307 E, .041 DP, .221 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1884 1.589 PO, .204 A, .275 E, .032 DP, .215 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1892 1.732 PO, .160 A, .183 E, .034 DP, .220 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1893 2.012 PO, .171 A, .203 E, .036 DP, .243 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1900 2.028 PO, .138 A, .137 E, .036 DP, .248 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs
1906 1.761 PO, .125 A, .081 E, .030 DP, .227 OF-PO/27 Fielding Outs

The last column is the percentage of fielding put-outs done by the outfield (this is normalized to exclude pitcher strikeouts); the modern game is close to 1/3rd; in the 19th-century it's 1/4er or less.

Some observations:

As we all know, error rates are steadily declining, cut to 1/3rd of 1871 by 1900 (and cut to 1/3rd again of 1900 by the mid-1980's).

In 1871, put-out rates are about 12% less than today. The pitching rules changes of 1878 and 1884 (legalizing sub-mariner, and sidearm, respectively) appear to have caused drastic drops in the OF put-out rates (I imagine outfield hits dropped too) with a slow recovery until the next rule change. I would guess that the game of the 1880's is an infield game, even more so than the dead-ball era but with three times the error rate. (This might explain BP's "overrating" of infield play.) Moving the pitcher created OF rates in the 1890's that are close to modern (at least before adjusting for strikeouts).

Dead-ball assist rates are about double todays rate, but the 1880's are three-to-four times as high as today, particularly 1878-83. Either baserunners are very aggressive, or maybe OF play is somehow different? (particularly RF; Richardson has a phenomenal assist rate in 1881, .570 per game; King Kelly is over .500 during 1880-2; I'll have to check into more RF'ers during that period). Double plays are also at twice the modern rate, another indication of aggressive baserunning.

I haven't come to any firm conclusions about this stuff. I'm sharing the data so we can all talk about it if we like.

Posted 7:34 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#95) - TomH
"For an example, if Joe Dimaggio either didn't or couldn't adjust to the deep LF in Yankee Stadium while batting, then he was costing his team REAL outs, regardless of whether he might have performed better in a park that was more favorable to RH batters."

Yes, but.....
I'm with scruff on this one. It comes down to value vs. ability.
Joe DiM(-aggio, not -ino) had less value in Yankee Stadium than most any other place. But we are also measuring Joe D the player, and without severe number-twisting or speculation, we can be reasonably certain that he would have put up better numbers at virtually any other time and place in MLB history. If we are choosing our best 215ish players, ought we not to consider that? I don't mean to convince everyone else, but having had this discussion with many people over the years, it is my firm position that when one can resonably measure ability above or below value, it is proper to do so. Hence, my de-valuing of Ross Barnes. My question to myself is whether I ought to slightly devalue great-fielding IFers of the 1880 period, since the "wins" they generated by WARP would not have been there had they played in 1905, 1930, 1955, 1980, 2005..... Would Ozzie Smith have a higher WARP than any SS besides Wagner if he had played in 1880 (likely so)? So would that have made him the 2nd best SS of all-time, since his "value" had increased (nah).

Yes, we should exercise care, not adjusting "what-ifs" willie-nillie. But when many on my ballot are so close, if (and I emphasize IF) Sam Thompson had a more-favorable-than-standard-park-adjustment playing environment, that could move him down a precious slot or 2 or 3 for me.

Anyone with other research along these lines, I am waiting to hear, because right now my #1 slot next week is wide open, and it woudl at least be nice to know I'm voting for a guy I really WANT to get in.
   160. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:05 AM (#3060969)
Posted 8:14 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#96) - Jason Koral
Al Spalding: is he Sandy Koufax with a bat or the product of an outstanding defense?

1) My concern starts with the fact that he retired at age 26. How many guys would have been legit HoMers if they had retired at age 26? Not many. Rusie for example played for 3-4 more years and had 1000 more IP. So he really had to have been incredibly dominant to merit induction.
2) To the extent that people point to Spalding's performance as a teenager, that only seems to beg the question about the true quality of the competition he faced.
3) The FOAS have not in my mind firmly confronted the DIPS issue. Its not enough to say "Dips didnt apply back then"; I need some kind of explanation of why pitchers really mattered (as opposed to fielders) in a game with no Ks, no Walks, no HRs and guys throwing underhanded.
4) AS benefitted from never having to face his own dominant team. Thats not an insignificant advantage.
5) On the plus side of AS, he does seem to have been a good fielder himself. Do any FOAS have some arguments as to how to weigh that in the analysis?

Posted 8:32 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#97) - Chris Cobb
jimd -- this is fabulous! Thanks!

No analysis to contribute yet, but on King Kelly I can report that James in NHBA states that Kelly's assist rates are almost twice that of any other outfielder. James doesn't know quite what to make of it -- he suggests that Kelly may have been listed in RF but played as a fifth infielder much of the time. Perhaps Richardson was playing similarly, in imitation?

Posted 9:09 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#98) - jimd
Could be. There are 10 player-seasons between 1878 and 1884 where an OF played at least 30G and posted an assist rate of at least .5 per game. Kelly has 3 of them (1878, 80, 82), Hugh Nicol (82, 84); Richardson 81, Cassidy 78, Ward 83, Holbert 78, and Shaffer 79. Shaffer has the highest assist rate (.694 per game); he's also an RF (I checked him, not the others). Almost all the PO rates are below 1.5 however; Richardson and Ward are big exceptions though, over 2.0. James is right; these stats are odd. OTOH, I wonder if Richardson '81 is BP's analog to Total Baseball's Lajoie?

Posted 9:54 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#99) - Chris Cobb
Since I did a work-up of Cal McVey's estimated WS 1871-75, converted from WARP (posted on the McVey-Start thread), I thought I would do the same for Ezra Sutton. If you want to see the full methodology of the conversion, it's in the McVey post.

I conclude that, if Sutton's NA years are given weight, he's clearly the best position player on the ballot. I also have some educated guesses about the causes of his curious mid-career trough.

Ezra Sutton Study

157 raw win shares (273 adjusted) 76-88 117 batting, 41 fielding

289 BRAR 76-88

replacement level = 3.75 BWS / 162 games

269 FRAR -- > 26.9 FWAR FWS/FWAR = 1.52

Year -- BWAR/FWAR --> BWS / FWS = total --> adj. 162 games (from x games in season)
71 -- 15 / 21 --> 5.2 / 3.2 = 8.4 --> 45 (30 games)
72 -- 4 / 2 --> 2.4 / .3 = 2.4 --> 13 (30 games)
73 -- 16 / 31 --> 6.2 / 4.7 = 10.9 --> 29 (60 games)
74 -- 11 / 34 --> 4.9 / 5.2 = 10.1 --> 23 (70 games)
75 -- 37 / 28 --> 13 / 4.3 = 17.3 --> 35 (80 games)

145 adj. WS

Season-by-season with fielding WS raised 30%

45
13
33
26
37

total -- 154

145+273=418 career adj. WS
450 career adj. WS, fielding WS adjusted upwards 30%

Season-by-season adj. WS (no fielding adjustment)

45, 13, 29, 23, 35, 14, 24, 18, 15,15, 23, 17, 34, 41, 32, 22, 15, 3

Comments -- With WS for the NA years reasonably reliably calculated, Sutton shows up as having the most documented career value of any position player on the ballot by a good margin, and a peak value, divided between his early and late careers, that matches up well with any peak going. His 45 WS 1871 might merit heavy discount, but even if it were eliminated altogether he'd still have about as many WS as McPhee and a high peak.

There's still the question of the trough in the middle of Sutton's career. Looking at his record more closely while doing this calculation, I noticed that most of Sutton's shifting to other positions occurs during this trough, and that his fielding value declines as much or more than his batting value. The trough begins in 1876. He plays part of that season at third, part at second (his only regular duty at second), and part at first (his only regular duty at first). In 77, 79, and 80, he splits time between SS and third. Now one might think that he is moving to a more difficult and valuable fielding position in these years, but his FRAR are down through this period, suggesting that he's being moved down in his personal defensive spectrum. In 1881, he's back to third base to stay, and his BRAR and his FRAR both go back up. It looks likely to me that Sutton suffered some sort of an arm injury in 76 , necessitating his shift to second and first base, and that the injury lingered for several years, causing him to play more SS and less third base. When he fully recovers, he goes back at the hot corner, and stays there. This is just inference, and it obviously doesn't change his value, but I think it's plausible. Also, folks who look at those down years and think, "that doesn't look like a HoMer to me," might entertain the idea that his numbers were down not because he just happened to stink up the joint for a while, but because of an injury.

Posted 9:58 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#100) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Need some help guys.

I'm trying to do a little demographic study to see if we are under or over representing any 'eras' here.

I figured I'd see what % of WS are HoMers for each year. If a particular year has more of it's WS in the HoM than others, it might mean that the year is overrepresented, etc.

But there is an issue, the size of the league is different, and so is the schedule. How would you suggest I adjust for this.

Right now I've got a spreadsheet with the following data:

1) Win Shares for each HoMer, year by year.
2) Win Shares totals for each league for each year
3) The breakdown of pitching WS vs. btting/fielding on a league level for each year (more on that in a minute).

How can I best use this data?

As for the pitching/batting/fielding breakdown, each year is almost exactly what would be expected by taking:

P = (lWS * .52) * .675

That's the standard breakdown for a team that's 'average in all aspects' throughout history. From eyeballing it, each year is probably within +/- 2% of this. That's a problem in my opinion (and one that I think James has acknowledged), there's no way in hell pitching was 67.5% of defense in that era. It's also a problem that the % of baseball that was pitching didn't change during this era either. WS absolutley overrates pitchers relative to position players throughout the 19th Century.

But I still think this would be a decent way to check and see if we are over- or under-representing a particular time frame, if I can figure out how to adjust for the changing number of teams and games.
   161. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:05 AM (#3060973)
Posted 10:04 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#101) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Chris great stuff with the NA Win Shares!!!

That's pretty much where I had Sutton pegged too (low 400's without a defensive era bonus, mid 400s with it), nice to see that validated by WARP.

If you can get me adjustments for any affected players who've received votes, I will update the pennants added thread in two ways. First, I'll update the WS totals; but more importantly, I'll use your year-by-year WS in place of the WARP numbers for the NA years, so the WS numbers will be a little more consistent.

If you could, send me an email at the address in this link (different than my normal email) if you want to discuss further logistics of getting the data (do you have a spreadsheet?).

Great work, thanks!

Posted 10:22 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#102) - jimd
Once more for Al Spalding...

1) Retired at age 26. He had the opportunity to make more money outside of baseball and he took it (speculation: his arm was done and he knew it, hence the move to 1B, and he then realized he was just another above-average hitter if he wasn't pitching). He was one of the most famous ballplayers at that time, if not the most famous, and he cashed in on that fame with a sporting goods business that made uniforms and baseballs (its still in business in 2003, making basketballs and other stuff) and landed the NL contract for baseballs, and with a publishing business that did the official NL publications as well as popular guides to baseball. He also served as Chicago's club secretary (sort of like GM but nowhere near that busy) and bought the team when League president and Chicago owner William Hulbert died in 1882.

2) Teenage phenom. Bob Feller struck out 15 in his major league debut at the age of 17. These things happen.

3) DIPS. First cut; the circumstantial evidence. If pitchers had no impact at all, then they'd have somebody like Dan Brouthers out there tossing meatballs so they could get his bat in the lineup; give these guys some credit for knowing their game well enough to know where they can grab an edge. Harry Wright thought that pitching mattered enough that he had to have Spalding, and paid him accordingly, and Harry proved that he knew what he was doing (built teams that won 8 championships in 10 years 1869-78) far more than most of us have (:-). Spalding's hitting and the fielding aren't enough alone to warrant that kind of attention and salary unless he's also having a perceptable impact as a pitcher (and Harry noticed this before Spalding joined Harry's championship team). As far as doing an actual DIPS study during this period, the rules are constantly changing so you'd have to normalize the rates each year, the sample sizes are about 6-10 pitchers per year (really only one pitcher per team), the park factors are unreliable due to that visiting-team-supplies-the-nonstandard-ball rule; IMO it'd be very difficult to do anything credible (but I'm not a statistician, so what do I know).

4) Own team. How big a factor is this? In an 8 team league, 7/8ths of the season is directly comparable when comparing players on two different teams. Any differences arise from their head-to-head games. Nobody seems to be bothered by this factor for Caruthers or Clarkson or Nichols, other pitchers who spent practically their entire careers on pennant-winners/contenders, or for the hitters in similar positions who never faced their own championship pitching staffs (e.g. Gore, Wright, Barnes).

5) Pitcher Fielding. Far better minds than mine (Bill James, Davenport) have punted on the question of the fielding value of a pitcher. All I can say is that the total package would seem to indicate that he was a great athlete; his fielding stats at pitcher are arguably better than Ward's. Spalding made 25% more plays with 29% less errors compared to the average pitcher fielding rates of his league; Ward made 20% more plays with 31% less errors in his. It's a huge leap to say that Spalding also could have been a SS, but BP rates him better than league average in a 13 game sample at 2B, and gives him a "Gold Glove" at 1B in 1877.

Other FOAS chime in if I missed anything.

Posted 11:05 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#103) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
" If pitchers had no impact at all, then they'd have somebody like Dan Brouthers out there tossing meatballs so they could get his bat in the lineup; give these guys some credit for knowing their game well enough to know where they can grab an edge."

First, Dan Brouthers played in a different era, pitchers had much more impact after the rules changes of the late 70's and early 80's.

Second, they DID have someone like Brouthers (well, not quite Brouthers), his name was Al Spalding. He was a damn good hitter. Pitcher OPS+ is much higher than in modern times during that era.

I think there's a good case for Spalding, because as a hitter he was pretty good.

I think the, 'he quit to start a business thing' is overblown. His OPS+ was 77 in 1877, and he stopped pitching. Something must have happened, he just wasn't a good baseball player anymore. Lots of people have a bad year and get better, but he quit. Sure it was to start a business, but that doesn't buy him any extra credit in my book.

Also, look at his offense, his batting runs above replacement (comparing him to a hitter, regardless of position) are 123, over 1958 AB (about 3 full seasons worth). But comparing him to his position (mostly pitcher) he's just 156 runs above a replacement hitting pitcher. Meaning a replacement pitcher was only 11 runs worse than your average replacement hitter over a full season.

Now take George Wright over that same period, 1871-77.

He's 212 runs above a replacement hitter (2006 AB). He's 200 runs above a replacement SS. That makes your replacement SS 4 runs per year worse than your replacement hitter.

Now let's take George Hall a LF/CF 1871-77.

168 runs above an average hitter, 1671 AB. 165 runs above an average LF/CF. So replacement LF/CF are about 1 run per season better than a replacement hitter.

Now the numbers could be way off, Prospectus might be miscalculating. But I think what they are saying is that pitchers as hitters weren't all that much worse than position players, so they did find the best hitters that could get some spin on the ball (or whatever it was that they did while throwing underhand) and get it over the plate and field the position.

But relative to today, pitchers overall weren't nearly as bad as hitters, and they weren't nearly as important in determining the result of the play (at least I'm not convinced they were).

Looking real quick at last year:

SS - Jeter, 49 BRAR, 50 BRARP (replacement SS 1 run worse than average replacement hitter)

P - Mike Hampton (prorated to 660 PA), 30 BRAR, 80 BRARP (replacement P, 50 runs worse than average replacement hitter)

LF/CF - Brad Wilkerson, 36 BRAR, 27 BRARP (replacement LF/CF 9 runs better than average replacement hitter).

Something has caused this to expand overtime, or Prospectus' numbers don't accurately portray baseball in the 1870s. I lean much more towards the former, but recognize the latter is a possibility and temper my enthusiasm for what their numbers are telling a little bit. But I want to see evidence of WHY they are wrong (if they are), not just, 'they can't be right.'

Posted 11:07 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#104) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"I think there's a good case for Spalding, because as a hitter he was pretty good."

I meant to say good Hall of Merit case, because he was a good hitter at the most valuable defensive position on the field. But that position was nowhere near as valuable as it is today, or as it was in 1880.

Posted 11:08 p.m., July 24, 2003 (#105) - Chris Cobb
Since I did a work-up of Cal McVey's estimated WS 1871-75, converted from WARP (posted on the McVey-Start thread), I thought I would do the same for Ezra Sutton. If you want to see the full methodology of the conversion, it's in the McVey post.

I conclude that, if Sutton's NA years are given weight, he's clearly the best position player on the ballot. I also have some educated guesses about the causes of his curious mid-career trough.

Ezra Sutton Study

157 raw win shares (273 adjusted) 76-88 117 batting, 41 fielding

289 BRAR 76-88

replacement level = 3.75 BWS / 162 games

269 FRAR -- > 26.9 FWAR FWS/FWAR = 1.52

Year -- BWAR/FWAR --> BWS / FWS = total --> adj. 162 games (from x games in season)
71 -- 15 / 21 --> 5.2 / 3.2 = 8.4 --> 45 (30 games)
72 -- 4 / 2 --> 2.4 / .3 = 2.4 --> 13 (30 games)
73 -- 16 / 31 --> 6.2 / 4.7 = 10.9 --> 29 (60 games)
74 -- 11 / 34 --> 4.9 / 5.2 = 10.1 --> 23 (70 games)
75 -- 37 / 28 --> 13 / 4.3 = 17.3 --> 35 (80 games)

145 adj. WS

Season-by-season with fielding WS raised 30%

45
13
33
26
37

total -- 154

145+273=418 career adj. WS
450 career adj. WS, fielding WS adjusted upwards 30%

Season-by-season adj. WS (no fielding adjustment)

45, 13, 29, 23, 35, 14, 24, 18, 15,15, 23, 17, 34, 41, 32, 22, 15, 3

Comments -- With WS for the NA years reasonably reliably calculated, Sutton shows up as having the most documented career value of any position player on the ballot by a good margin, and a peak value, divided between his early and late careers, that matches up well with any peak going. His 45 WS 1871 might merit heavy discount, but even if it were eliminated altogether he'd still have about as many WS as McPhee and a high peak.

There's still the question of the trough in the middle of Sutton's career. Looking at his record more closely while doing this calculation, I noticed that most of Sutton's shifting to other positions occurs during this trough, and that his fielding value declines as much or more than his batting value. The trough begins in 1876. He plays part of that season at third, part at second (his only regular duty at second), and part at first (his only regular duty at first). In 77, 79, and 80, he splits time between SS and third. Now one might think that he is moving to a more difficult and valuable fielding position in these years, but his FRAR are down through this period, suggesting that he's being moved down in his personal defensive spectrum. In 1881, he's back to third base to stay, and his BRAR and his FRAR both go back up. It looks likely to me that Sutton suffered some sort of an arm injury in 76 , necessitating his shift to second and first base, and that the injury lingered for several years, causing him to play more SS and less third base. When he fully recovers, he goes back at the hot corner, and stays there. This is just inference, and it obviously doesn't change his value, but I think it's plausible. Also, folks who look at those down years and think, "that doesn't look like a HoMer to me," might entertain the idea that his numbers were down not because he just happened to stink up the joint for a while, but because of an injury.
   162. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:06 AM (#3060974)
Posted 1:06 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#106) - KJOK (e-mail)
re: Thompson debate

Baker Bowl Estimated Impacts vs. LH an RH batters, 1921-1927

LEFT HANDED BATTERS RIGHT HANDED BATTERS
1B 2B 3B HR 1B 2B 3B HR
96 98 96 248 98 98 96 192
110 110 108 274 110 110 110 250
110 130 110 242 110 122 110 238
100 110 110 226 102 104 104 214
110 136 120 200 110 128 120 200
100 120 100 182 102 118 110 170
119 123 28 131 106 110 38 121

Posted 1:19 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#107) - KJOK (e-mail)
Thompson only played around 17% of his career in the Baker Bowl.

He played around 25% of his career at Recreation Park in Detroit, dimensions unknown.

He played around 58% of his career in the Philadelphia Baseball Grounds. It had a 25 ft high fence, was 500 ft in LF, 500 ft in CF, and 310 ft in RF. That may explain a lot about his fielding stats, but the shorter RF distance wouldn't NECESSARILY be an advantage to LH hitters in that era as the longer distances in LF and CF would probably result in more singles, doubles, triples and inside the park HR's for RH batters.

Posted 1:36 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#108) - KJOK (e-mail)
jimd wrote:
"...There are 10 player-seasons between 1878 and 1884 where an OF played at least 30G and posted an assist rate of at least .5 per game. Kelly has 3 of them (1878, 80, 82), Hugh Nicol (82, 84); Richardson 81, Cassidy 78, Ward 83, Holbert 78, and Shaffer 79. Shaffer has the highest assist rate (.694 per game); he's also an RF (I checked him, not the others). Almost all the PO rates are below 1.5 however; Richardson and Ward are big exceptions though, over 2.0. James is right; these stats are odd. OTOH, I wonder if Richardson '81 is BP's analog to Total Baseball's Lajoie? "

I think the main thing going on here is Park Effects on Fielding. Lake Front Park in Chicago existed from 1878-1884. 5 of these 10 instances are RF'ers playing in Lake Front Park. Lake Front Park was the smallest ballpark in history, 186 ft. down LF line, 300 ft to CF, and 196 ft down RF line. (That's why, except for 1884, balls hit over the fence in LF and RF were ground rule doubles). My guess is that the RF played close enough to throw out a LOT of runners at 1st base and 2nd base.

Posted 2:43 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#109) - John Murphy
It looks likely to me that Sutton suffered some sort of an arm injury in 76 , necessitating his shift to second and first base, and that the injury lingered for several years, causing him to play more SS and less third base.

He definitely had an arm injury in '76 and was moved to first because of it (according to Nineteenth Century Stars). Whether or not his arm problems carried over to those other seasons is a mystery.

Great work on Sutton, Chris! The case for Ezra builds and builds!

My concern starts with the fact that he retired at age 26. How many guys would have been legit HoMers if they had retired at age 26?

He blew out his arm. That's why he was being used as a first baseman in '77.

2) To the extent that people point to Spalding's performance as a teenager, that only seems to beg the question about the true quality of the competition he faced.

Actually, it begs the question how young Ted Williams, Roger Clemens and Honus Wagner would have been playing with the best competition of that time? Most people didn't have the time or monetary resources to keep playing in their twenties. No wonder there were more teenagers during that era.

Posted 8:41 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#110) - Rusty Priske
New Prelim Ballot

Well, I said Sutton was moving up, and I meant it. I have been spending time on the McVey thread and he gets a lofty spot on my ballot for the first time. Here goes:

1. Galvin (2)
2. Sutton (-)
3. Spalding (4)
4. Start (3)
5. McPhee (6)
6. McVey (-)
7. Caruthers (7)
8. Stovey (8)
9. Welch (9)
10. Mullane (10)
11. McCormick (13)
12. Thompson (12)
13. Tiernan (15)
14. Browning (-)
15. Weyhing (new)
   163. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:06 AM (#3060976)
Posted 8:44 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#111) - TomH
Chris Cobb's WS for NA data
If I understand your calcs correctly, Chris, you have:
player .....years.. WScalc WS(w/ def +30%)
Sutton 1871-1887 ....415 .......450
McVey 1871-1879 ..314 .......???

Is the '314' for McVey with or without adjusting the fielding WS upward? If the score is 415 to 314 in favor of Ezra, it may come down to whether I credit McVey for 100+ WS in his Western and pre-NA careers.

Posted 9:18 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#112) - Chris Cobb
Is the '314' for McVey with or without adjusting the fielding WS upward? If the score is 415 to 314 in favor of Ezra, it may come down to whether I credit McVey for 100+ WS in his Western and pre-NA careers.

Here's the info filled into Tom's chart:

player .....years.. WScalc WS(w/ def +30%)
Sutton 1871-1887 ....415 .......450
McVey 1871-1879 ..302 .......314

314 includes an upward adjustment of McVey's fielding WS by 30%

Note that this 314 figure does not include the 22 adj. pitching WS James attributes to McVey.

Posted 9:51 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#113) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
'And if Jim Rice was somehow better able to take advantage of the Green Monster than other players, then he was providing his team with REAL HR's, REAL WINS, etc. that should not be "adjusted out" of his performance. '
If Jim Rice takes better advantage of the Green Monster than other players, then that will show, even after Park adjustments. The fact is that Jim Rice in Fenway is a better hitter than Jim Rice in a neutral park and adjustments have to be made for this.

Posted 10:11 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#114) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Re: the Rice dilema . . . If Rice is able to take advantage of his park great, he gets credit for that an rightly so. But the part than ANY RHB would be able to take advantage of, simply because he's a RHB and the park favors them is what I believe we'd subtract out, in a perfect world. I realize it's hard to isolate that and that's where it becomes a little bit more subjective, until our methods are able to account for that.

Posted 10:31 a.m., July 25, 2003 (#115) - Ezra Sutton
Well, I said Sutton was moving up, and I meant it.

God bless you, sir. I don't have much more time on this earth so a HoM induction would make the time remaining a little brighter!

Posted 2:01 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#116) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
Could a Friend of Dickey Pearce(probably John Murphy) run down his accomplishments prior to the NA? I am trying to give him some more consideration, but don't feel I currently have enough information.

Posted 4:57 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#117) - Howie Menckel
tentative:

1. Joe Start
2. Cal McVey
3. Harry Stovey
4. Pud Galvin
5. Albert Spalding
6. Ezra Sutton
7. Bid McPhee
8. Charlie Bennett
9. Sam Thompson
10. Mickey Welch
11. Jim McCormick
12. Pete Browning
13. Mike Tiernan
14. Mike Griffin
15. Dickey Pearce

Posted 6:34 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#118) - Rick A.
Here is my preliminary ballot. There are quite a few changes from my previous ballots. I recently finished reading up on Win Shares and just got seasonal Win Shares data recently. (Better late than never). I also took a closer look at the data. (Both WS and WARP). Also, this doesn't really affect this election much, but I will be taking a closer look at a players contemporaries, both on the ballot and those not eligible yet. I neglected to do that when the contemporaries were not on the ballot, and I believe that was a mistake.

1906 List

1. Al Spalding (1) - Best 1870’s pitcher.
2. Pud Galvin (2) - Still have him ranked over Hoss. Maybe it will be his turn this year.
3. Ezra Sutton (6) - Jumps over Start and McPhee.
4. Joe Start (5) - I’ve been a FOJS since the first election.
5. Cal McVey (8) - I’m becoming a FOCM. Never had an off-year.
6. Bid McPhee (3) - Great career value, defensive player. But not enough hitting value in AA
7. Sam Thompson (9) - Top hitter on the ballot.
8. Harry Stovey (12) - Better than I realized. Moved up accordingly.
9. Pete Browning (11) - Pretty much holding steady
10. Mike Tiernan (10) - Good hitter, but not better than Stovey or Browning.
11. Charlie Bennett (13) – WARP loves his defense. WS doesn’t. I think his value is somewhere in between. (Probably slightly closer to WARP)
12. Lip Pike (15) – Compares very favorably to McVey.
13. Jim McCormick (off) – Much closer to Welch than I previously thought.
14. Mickey Welch (14) – Hanging in there
15. Bob Caruthers (off) – First appearance of Caruthers on my ballot. While I like combination of hitting and pitching, there’s not enough of either to justify putting him higher.

Posted 7:24 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#119) - Jim Spencer
Here are my thoughts on a preliminary ballot.

1) Pud Galvin—only Cy Young retired more batters.
2) Ezra Sutton—the greatest of the old-timer 3rd basemen
3) Al Spalding—the best of the really early pitchers
4) Sam Thompson—I’m leaning with the school of thought that says he gets credit for taking advantage of his context. 146 career OPS+ (for example) indicates the RBI aren’t all an illusion, the man could hit.
5) Joe Start—I’m convinced, but the standard for 1B is pretty high.
6) Bid Mc Phee—his position on the leader boards isn’t very impressive, but he did play 2B, but in the AA, but for a long time…on the whole I’d be happy putting him above the line.
7) L. Pike—wish there was more hard data, but there is a reasonable argument that he was a great player.

My in/out line is right about here.

The rest:

8) Harry Stovey—
9) Charlie Bennett—catching in the early days was a brutally tough job
10) Jim McCormick
11) Mickey Welch

12) B. Caruthers—interesting combination of pitching and hitting
13) Mike Tiernan
14) Pete Browning
15) Bobby Mathews—have to fill out the ballot with someone. Maybe someone can find him 3 more wins, then the HOF would have to elect him…

Posted 7:25 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#120) - Jim Spencer
Here are my thoughts on a preliminary ballot.

1) Pud Galvin—only Cy Young retired more batters.
2) Ezra Sutton—the greatest of the old-timer 3rd basemen
3) Al Spalding—the best of the really early pitchers
4) Sam Thompson—I’m leaning with the school of thought that says he gets credit for taking advantage of his context. 146 career OPS+ (for example) indicates the RBI aren’t all an illusion, the man could hit.
5) Joe Start—I’m convinced, but the standard for 1B is pretty high.
6) Bid Mc Phee—his position on the leader boards isn’t very impressive, but he did play 2B, but in the AA, but for a long time…on the whole I’d be happy putting him above the line.
7) L. Pike—wish there was more hard data, but there is a reasonable argument that he was a great player.

My in/out line is right about here.

The rest:

8) Harry Stovey—
9) Charlie Bennett—catching in the early days was a brutally tough job
10) Jim McCormick
11) Mickey Welch

12) B. Caruthers—interesting combination of pitching and hitting
13) Mike Tiernan
14) Pete Browning
15) Bobby Mathews—have to fill out the ballot with someone. Maybe someone can find him 3 more wins, then the HOF would have to elect him…
   164. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:07 AM (#3060977)
Posted 8:41 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#121) - jimd
Spalding, WARP-1, WARP-2, and WARP-3.

Spalding added extra value to his position as a hitter. But his predominant value is still from being a pitcher, at least according to BP and WARP-1. Be patient with me because this will be a bit technical. Here's his player card if you want to try to follow my confusing explanation.

If you look at the "Advanced Pitching Statistics" section, there are a number of columns. The ones involving runs are:
RAA: ERA is converted to runs above or below average, and mathematically massaged to normalize for park and league-context (and not having to face your own team's hitters)
PRAA: : RAA is adjusted for the fielding/pitching split
PRAR: : PRAA is converted from average-based to replacement-level-based; these are then used in calculating WARP-1. Now see the "Advanced Batting Statistics" section where PRAR is repeated.

WARP-1: is calculated by adding up the BRAR, FRAR, and PRAR (Batting, Fielding, and Pitching Runs Above Replacement), and then converting the total to Wins Above Replacement (WARP-1).

So WARP-1 already includes the fielding/pitching split in its pitching statistics. (It already takes into account BP's version of DIPS.) And using WARP-1, Al Spalding and Ross Barnes are annually competing for the honor of being the best player in the league during the early years.

(4.8, 7.4, 8.7, 8.6, 12.5, 8.1) Spalding 1871-6
(4.6, 8.9, 10.2, 6.3, 11.2, 10.9) Barnes 1871-6
(2.6, 7.3, 9.7, 7.8, 10.3, 6.8) Wright 1871-6
(1.7, 1.3, 6.3, 4.4, 10.4, 6.9) White 1871-6
(2.5, 5.5, 4.9, 4.5, 5.0, 7.7) Anson 1871-6
(xx, -0.5, 1.2, 3.0, 5.8, 6.1) Hines 1871-6
(3.3, 3.5, 3.4, 5.9, 9.9, 5.4) McVey 1871-6
(1.7, 1.1, 2.7, 5.1, 5.2, 4.6) Start 1871-6
(3.7, 0.6, 4.8, 4.6, 5.9, 2.1) Sutton 1871-6

WARP-3 "simply" adjusts WARP-2 for length of schedule (but not quite, tossing a little "regression" in there).

WARP-2 uses a different difficulty adjustment for each category (pitching, fielding, and batting runs) when adjusting WARP-1 for "all time". NA pitching runs are severely discounted by this adjustment. I've made this argument before, but I believe it comes down to the fact that the pitchers already in the league could not compete head-to-head for jobs with the pitchers outside the league when sub-mariner pitching was allowed after 1878 (the NA/NL apparently had allowed itself to fall behind the quickly evolving game outside the league with respect to pitching). I also believe that this is irrelevant to evaluating the pre-1878 seasons because those post-1878 pitchers would not be allowed to play under the NA rules. I cannot find any NA pitcher whose "Adjusted-for-all-time" PRAA (pitching runs above average) is positive (there are some individual seasons, e.g. Candy Cummings). According to WARP-2/WARP-3 ALL NA pitchers were below average, hurting their team by pitching. To me that is a ridiculous conclusion; their effectiveness is being compared to a hypothetical "average" pitcher who would not be allowed to pitch under their rules.

Under the rules employed by the NA, the best league around at the time, Barnes or Spalding was the best player in that league. IMO, both deserve to be enshrined in the HOM.

That's it, I'm all worn out on this topic (at least for now). (Cheering in the background :-)

Posted 9:36 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#122) - Chris Cobb
Here are adj. WS for Lip Pike's NA seasons:

bWS / fWS = total (games) --> adj. WS (162 games)
7.5 / .4 = 7.9 (30) --> 43
6.9 / 2.2 = 9.1 (45) --> 33
8.9 / .4 = 9.3 (55) --> 27
12 / 2.8 = 14.8 (55) --> 44
18.3 / 2.9 = 21.2 (70) --> 49

71-75 adj. WS -- 196
76-78 adj. WS -- 80
Total adj. WS -- 274
+ fielding adj. -- 284

Adjusted WS season by season (not fielding adjusted)
43, 33, 27, 44, 49, 42, 19, 19

Posted 9:48 p.m., July 25, 2003 (#123) - Chris Cobb
More on Ezra Sutton's NA WS: when I was doing Lip Pike's translations, I realized that I had used the Boston team's season lengths for Sutton instead of the Cleveland and Philadelphia season lengths, which were shorter. So Sutton earned his WS in fewer games, leading to higher adj. WS. Here are his totals adjusted based the actual season length:

71 5.2 / 3.2 = 8.4 (30 games) --> 45
72 -- 4 / 2 --> 2.4 / .3 (22) = 2.4 --> 18
73 -- 16 / 31 --> 6.2 / 4.7 (50) = 10.9 --> 35
74 -- 11 / 34 --> 4.9 / 5.2 (55) = 10.1 --> 30
75 -- 37 / 28 --> 13 / 4.3 (75) = 17.3 --> 37

165 adj. WS
Def adj. 176

Career adj. WS 165+273 = 438
Fielding adj. 468

Posted 12:09 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#124) - John Murphy
Could a Friend of Dickey Pearce(probably John Murphy) run down his accomplishments prior to the NA?

I'll be glad to make the attempt.

Pearce created the position of shortstop as we know it today in the mid-1850s. Before he came along, the position had the least defensive importance. Pearce was the first to roam into the outfield to find fly balls, mastered defensive positioning, and improved upon the art of making the throw to first.

For about ten years (1856-1866), he was the consensus for best shortstop in the game. When Wright came, that was the end of his dominance (though his fielding was still comparable). He was picked for two All Star games: one as a shortstop in 1858 and the other as catcher (then more important than even pitching) in 1861. He was primarily a catcher for a couple more seasons and was regarded as terrific there, too.

As for his hitting, he wasn't Wright, but he appears to have been the best at the height of his dominance. He was a contact hitter and was instrumental in the development of the bunt and fair/foul hit (he was the best at the latter until Ross Barnes).

He played 20 years at the best level of competition. His stats don't look impressive to the eye, but you have to remember that he was 35 in 1871. No shortstop of the nineteenth century had the value he had after that age. It's a testament to his durability in a time where your hands would be broken many times over from the lack of playing glove. Not until George Davis at the turn-of-the-last-century did shortstops have productive seasons after the age of 35.

Posted 12:14 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#125) - Jason Koral
jimd,

I sufficiently convinced to move Spalding up to my top 10, given AS' very good WARP1 performance, the fact the WARP1 includes a "DIPS split" assigning 75% of BIP to fielders, and your arguments concerning the unfariness of the timeline adjustment as applied to Spalding. Still even giving him the benefit of all these doubts, Spalding's 6 year run from 1871-76 -- WITH offense included -- gets noticeably less WARP1 than Koufax's best 6 year run as a pitcher alone.

So the best that one could say for Spalding is that he was Koufax -10% or so. Ie no better than Rusie who I ranked 5th in 1904. And thats the upside, the downside is more aggressive timelining. Bottom line: I am jumping up AS but no higher than 7th/8th.

Posted 1:04 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#126) - Jim Spencer
Regarding the influence pitchers had on the game in the NA period, I think the case of George Zettlein illustrates that they must have had a significant influence.

Zettlein had a W/L record of 129-112 (125-92 in the NA), with a career OPS+ of 39.

If winning teams were choosing to carry his bat, he must have been saving a large amount of runs, either with pitching or defence.

I think this argues strongly for Spalding's inclusion in the HOM. Otherwise I guess one would have to argue that Zettlein was a far greater pitcher than Spalding, I don't know of any contemporary quotes that would suggest that.

Posted 2:42 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#127) - TomH
Chris C, can you summarize the WS NA work you've done in one table so I can see Sutton/Start/McVey/etc together?

Posted 6:13 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#128) - Chris Cobb
Here's a summary of the WS translated from WARP for McVey, Sutton, Start, and Pike. All figures are seaonally adjusted WS.

Cal McVey 48, 24, 27, 38, 51 --188 total

Ezra Sutton 45, 18, 35, 30, 37 -- 165 total

Joe Start 21, 9, 11, 27, 25l -- 93 total

Lip Pike 43, 33, 27, 44, 49 -- 196 total

I'll have Dickey Pearce and some other folks to add before the weekend is out.

Posted 6:18 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#129) - Chris Cobb
Ack! typos! Here the info with Start's 1875 WS correctly indicated:

Here's a summary of the WS translated from WARP for McVey, Sutton, Start, and Pike. All figures are seasonally adjusted WS.

Cal McVey 48, 24, 27, 38, 51 --188 total

Ezra Sutton 45, 18, 35, 30, 37 -- 165 total

Joe Start 21, 9, 11, 27, 25 -- 93 total

Lip Pike 43, 33, 27, 44, 49 -- 196 total

I'll have Dickey Pearce and some other folks to add before the weekend is out.

Posted 10:21 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#130) - John Murphy
Chris:

Do you have time for Levi Meyerle and Dave Eggler? The latter was a terrific player in his own right but had a very short career.

Thanks!
   165. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:08 AM (#3060978)
Posted 11:33 p.m., July 26, 2003 (#131) - Chris Cobb
Sometime Sunday I'll be posting NA WS for the following players:

Dickey Pearce
Tom York
Levi Meyerle
Davy Force
John Peters
Dave Eggler
Al Spalding (batting WS only)

Posted 12:00 a.m., July 27, 2003 (#132) - John Murphy
Chris Cobb, you're a sabermetric God! :-)

BTW, here's something for everyone here to beat me up on. I think Sutton was better than Frank Baker in total value at third. Baker trumps Sutton's peak, but Ezra has a healthy lead in durability (though part of Baker's problem is more due to missing two seasons than injuries). The Home Run guy is close, but not close enough.

I haven't looked at Traynor, Groh, Hack, Dandridge, Elliot or Clift yet to see how much farther into the last century Sutton was the preeminent third baseman.

Posted 10:10 a.m., July 27, 2003 (#133) - Jeff M
John:

Won't beat you up, because there is by no means a "right" answer, and both should be HOMers, but I have Baker ahead of Sutton.

No question that there is lots of value in the length of Sutton's career, and if you take into account the greater defensive responsibility of a 3b during Sutton's era, the defense comes out about the same, IMO.

So I'm looking at a few other intangibles. I think Ezra was the best player at his position during his era, but I think Baker was the best player at his position AND at times, arguably the best player in baseball during his era. And while I realize that winning teams are rarely based on one player, Baker was at times the best player on one of the top 15 or so dynasties in baseball history.

Hopefully Sutton will be elected before Baker becomes eligible in 1927. He's number one on my ballot.

Posted 11:00 a.m., July 27, 2003 (#134) - John Murphy
Jeff:

You're right that there are different ways to compare Sutton and Baker. You can make an excellent case for the latter over the former. What's amazing to me is that there is any comparison at all! Who heard of Sutton a year ago?

Posted 12:05 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#135) - Howie Menckel
How does the voting work in a one-electee year like 1906?
24 for first, 18 for second, 17 third, etc. - or something slightly different?

Posted 12:34 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#136) - Howie Menckel
A heads-up for those who worry that the pool is soon going to get too shallow: We've already elected 18 of the 33 players we'll elect "through the 1916 ballot," which in real time will take us to the end of 2003.
About half of the remaining '2003 slots' figure to be first-time no-brainers, and others will come along that arguably are better than what we now have. Seems like we'll strike a decent balance between properly honoring the early players without ever reaching the point of holding our noses at any inductees. By the late 1920s voting, I suspect all but perhaps a couple of the pre-1900s players will have disappeared from most ballots.

Incidentally, the "Dec. 22-Jan. 5" discussion/voting period shouldn't take too much time away from anyone's holiday plans: 1917 is a one-electee year, and Denton True Young will be joining the ballot. Not sure who else, but can't imagine it would matter, either.
Is that another example of Dimino's scheduling genius??

Posted 12:52 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#137) - John Murphy
Incidentally, the "Dec. 22-Jan. 5" discussion/voting period shouldn't take too much time away from anyone's holiday plans: 1917 is a one-electee year, and Denton True Young will be joining the ballot.

I can't see how he'll miss being number one on every voter's ballot.

Posted 1:47 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#138) - MattB
I don't know, John. Denton True only led his league in ERA and ERA+ twice, and he spend half of his career in a much weaker American League -- not the best competition of his time. And worst of all, his second Most Similar pitcher in only Pud Galvin!

Plus, I checked the record books thoroughly. He did not win a single Cy Young award! What kind of a pitching great has that kind of record?

Posted 1:52 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#139) - redsox1912
Preliminary Ballot:

1. A.Spalding (this is the year)
2. H.Stovey
3. C.Mcvey
4. S.Thompson
5. L.Pike
6. P.Browning
7. C.Bennett
8. P.Galvin
9. E.Sutton
10. M.Griffin
11. B.McPhee
12. B.Caruthers
13. J.Start
14. M.Tiernan
15. F.Dunlap

I have a hard time moving Sutton or McPhee much higher than this unless I can see more evidence on their behalf. They both have very long careers, and deserve to be considered, however, some of us are giving more credit to "longevity" than I feel is deserved. The fact they were able (or lucky enough) to keep themselves healthy and fit for many years is a credit to them. They deserve to be recognized for the effort they put into their conditioning. After that I think they need to stand on their accomplishments. McPhee was the best defensive 2nd baseman in his league. No question. The same could be said for Omar Vizquel (at shortstop). But without more upside from his bat I don't think he deserves to be placed any higher. Sutton had one Very good and one pretty good peak, with one pretty poor valley in the middle. His batting numbers overall, while admirable, are not what I look for in a HoM candidate. In the 4 years he and McVey played in the NL together, and at the exact same age, 1876 thru 1879, Sutton posted PRO+’s of; 141, 110, 69 and 82, while McVey’s were 136, 147, 147 and 134. Sutton was far behind Williamson in fielding, leading the league only once in his long career.

Posted 1:53 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#140) - Chris Cobb
Here are NA WS for other players whom you might be interested in. Since many of these players have been off our radar, I've included adj. WS for their post-NA careers and career WS totals in addition to their season-by-season adj. WS for the NA.

Please remember that these are estimates of what WS values would look like. For players with significant NL time, range of error is about 5%. For players with little or no NL time, range of error goes up to 15% or so, since I have to make an educated guess about the fielding translation by looking at how WS treats similar fielders.

If you want to see the fuller write-up on how the translation worked for any of these guys, let me know.

NA WS Summary

Dave Eggler, 1871-75
23, 39, 30, 35, 27 -- 154 total
76-85 -- 31 adj. WS
185 career

Davy Force, 1871-75
24, 52, 34, 24, 35 -- 169 total
76-86 -- 96 adj. WS
265 career

Bob Ferguson, 1871-75
12, 25, 16, 16, 20 -- 89 total
76-84 -- 127 adj. WS
216 career

Charley Jones, 1875
15 -- 15 total
76-88 --280 adj. WS
295 career (missed two seasons due to blacklisting)

Levi Meyerle , 1871-75
57, 19, 33, 35, 31 -- 175 total
76-78 -- 28 adj. WS
203 career

Dickey Pearce , 1871-75
15, 12, 18, 24, 19 -- 88 total
76-77 -- 8 adj. WS
96 career

John Peters, 1874-75
19, 28 -- 47 total
76-84 -- 121 adj. WS
168 career

Al Spalding, 1871-1875 BATTING ONLY
10, 25, 21, 21, 20 -- 98 total
76, 77 -- 15, 10
123 career bWS

Harry Wright, 1871-75
21, 11, 16, 15, 0 -- 63 total
63 career

Tom York, 1871-75
14, 22, 25, 17, 26 -- 104 total
76-85 -- 221 adj. WS
325 career

Notes
Davy Force was great in the NA, not so great in the NL. Since almost all his value after 1875 is defensive, if you trust WARP over WS, he's a player you might look at for a down-ballot vote.

Meyerle was great in the NA, but not any better than Sutton or even Force, and he doesn't have much else to offer.

Charley Jones has a legit case -- how to deal with his black-list years (in the prime of his career) probably deserves discussion. If he gets credit for missed time, he's a serious candidate.

Dickey Pearce -- pretty good for an old guy! I have no idea how to rank him, myself.

Tom York also has a case to go in the bag with Thompson, Tiernan, Griffin, and Jones. Though he doesn't have an impressive peak, his career value as WS sees it is the highest of the lot.
   166. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:08 AM (#3060981)
Posted 1:56 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#141) - John Murphy
Plus, I checked the record books thoroughly. He did not win a single Cy Young award! What kind of a pitching great has that kind of record?

Okay, you convinced me. I won't place him on my ballot. :-)

Posted 2:15 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#142) - MichaelD
This is my final ballot. Could someone post it tomorrow? I'll be out of town all week. I'm actually in kind of a hurry right now so my comments will be limited. I did think about it a lot and it is almost the same as last time, so hopefully no one will be too upset.

1. Ezra Sutton (2) - I was convinced enough about the statistical analysis to flip-flop him with McPhee

2. Bid McPhee (1)

3. Pud Galvin (3)

4. Joe Start (4)

5. Harry Stovey (7)

6. Cal McVey (10)

7. Sam Thompson (8)

8. Mike Tiernan (9)

9. Al Spalding (11)

10. Ed Williamson (12)

11. Charlie Bennett (13)

12. Pete Browning (14)

13. Mike Griffin (15)

14. Bob Caruthers (NR)

15. Tony Mullane (NR) Two marginal pitchers pop back on at the bottom of the ballot.

Posted 2:17 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#143) - John Murphy
Sutton had one Very good and one pretty good peak, with one pretty poor valley in the middle.

His peak during the eighties was terrific. A third baseman who was among the league leaders in hitting during that era? That's MVP material (unless you feel only pitchers of that time deserved the honor).

As for the pretty "poor" valley, he was definitely mediocre. If he had been solidly above average, then we could be comparing him to Schmidt.

Sutton was far behind Williamson in fielding, leading the league only once in his long career.

He wasn't as good as Williamson and Nash, but we're still talking well above average.

Posted 2:35 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#144) - John Murphy
Davy Force was great in the NA, not so great in the NL. Since almost all his value after 1875 is defensive, if you trust WARP over WS, he's a player you might look at for a down-ballot vote.

If you're heavy on the peak, he deserves a spot. Other than that, he's really not worthy.

Great work, Chris!

Posted 8:35 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#145) - Clint (e-mail)
Curses! I had my ballot all figured out, and I was ready to post on Monday and coast the rest of the week. Then along comes Chris with some of the best stuff yet. Chris, you are the man, even if I have to undo everything I've done before on the NA players!

Posted 10:32 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#146) - John Murphy
Chris, did you do John Clapp's NA Win Shares? I don't think he's a HoMer, but he wasn't that far off.

Once again, thanks!

Posted 10:33 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#147) - Marc
Speaking as a FOAS:

>3) The FOAS have not in my mind firmly confronted the DIPS issue. I need some kind of explanation of why pitchers really mattered (as opposed to fielders) in a game with no Ks, no Walks, no HRs and guys throwing underhanded.

Slow pitch softball is a pretty lowbrow game, I guess, but having actively played the lowbrow game for some 25 years...have any of you ever sat and watched a really good slow pitch softball pitcher work? No Ks, no BBs, guys throwing underhand...OK, some home runs ;-) But speaking as a good hands, no arm SS, the difference between slow pitch softball pitchers is night and day. The basic tool is a good high strike, a ball that passes through the strike zone at the very back of the plate rather than falling right through its center. Add some good in and out action and a variety of spins.

And then a really athletic pitcher of course fields his position, he is the fifth infielder. He turns two on balls back to the mound. On 60 foot bases, not every pitcher (or infielder) turns two, but the good ones do.

And then why is it that in slow pitch softball the pitcher usually bats 8-9-10 and the shortstop bats cleanup? Because what the pitcher does defensively is a lot more difficult than what the shortstop does, and he does it 10 times more often than the shortstop does his thing. Now if that pitcher can hit .300 with a few dingers batting 8-9-10, you've probably got yourself a winning team.

Nobody who ever played the lowbrow slow pitch, underhand game or watched attentively would ever say the pitchers don't matter. (The great teams have a pitcher, a shortstop and two hammers, and then you build from there.) And if that's true of slow pitch softball today, then it was true of "MLB" from the 1850s through 1876, trust me. (Or as others have noted, trust Harry Wright.)

Then, Jason said something about AS pitching from '71-'76. I thought everybody knew there was baseball before '71 and that Spalding was a nationally renowned star as early as '66.

Posted 11:02 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#148) - Marc
I have endeavored recently to understand baseball before 1871 (and specifically before 1869), and it seems crystal clear to me that Jim Creighton and Harry Wright were the two best players whose peak seasons pre-date the NA. Dickey Pearce's best years do likewise, Joe Start's and Candy Cummings' may (or may not) but probably also do.

Creighton only played 3 years, dying at age 21 due to a ruptured bladder (ruptured by a swing of the baseball bat). To those who believe that underhand pitching cannot matter, batters who faced Creighton thought it did. "The rules barred snapping the wrist when delivering the ball, but Creighton somehow managed to do it without being detected, hurling the ball with unprecedented speed and no-less-startling spin so that by the time it had reached the plate...it had risen to the level of the hapless batter's Adam's apple. Creighton's 'speedballs' were 'as swift as (if) sent from a cannon,' wrote one startled observer, and he like to interleave them with slow pitches (he called them his dew drops) further to befuddle the opposition. Some deplored this uncharacteristic aggressiveness from a pitcher--it was still technically supposed to be his job to help the batter, not to hinder him--but Creighton won game after game.... Other pitchers tried to copy his delivery."

As for Harry Wright, he was "a good enough ballplayer to have hit seven home runs in a single game."

I am looking more closely at Dickey Pearce, but unlike Joe Start he has left us too little of his peak (statistically), so it is really guesswork. If you want a player of whom that may be said, a player whose peak capability must be guessed at, Creighton and H. Wright would have to rate well ahead of Pearce. I know Creighton only played 3 years but if you value peak at all, he was Babe Ruth for 3 years.

Posted 11:21 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#149) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Jim (#122) -- You haven't convinced me on Spalding 100% (meaning I'm not ranking him #1), but you have convinced me that WARP1 is a lot better than WARP3 for evaluating him.

So I've added WARP1 Pennants Added list to the Pennants Added thread and Spalding does quite well, second to Galvin among pitchers that have been eligible to this point. The list is adjusted to a 162 game schedule.

Chris -- Thanks a bunch for those WS numbers. if I get the time tonight, I'll adjust the pennants added thread to add your numbers instead of using WARP3 as a proxy for 1871-75. I'll add a comment to the thread when that part is updated.

Posted 11:25 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#150) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
I've always thought fast pitch softball was what 1860's and 1870's baseball was similar too, not slow pitch.
   167. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:09 AM (#3060983)
Posted 11:27 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#151) - Marc
Finally a prelim. I have made many changes as a result (especially) of reconsidering the early days. As one poster said, why not take a first rate star from (whenever) rather than another second or third tier "star" from the '80s?

I still like a high peak, however, that hasn't changed. If anything, I'm emphasizing peak more and mere longevity (Rusty Staub's disease) less.

1. Al Spalding (1)
2. Cal McVey (6)
3. Sam Thompson (2)
4. Bob Caruthers (3)--indeed, greatest star of the AA, as another poster said
5. Jim Creighton (-)--at his peak a Spalding, a Ruth
6. Charlie Bennett (9)--best of the players whose value is largely defensive (other than pitching) including McPhee
7. Joe Start (11)
8. Lip Pike (10)
9. Pete Browning (5)--drops down, but as another poster said, I'll take his O over McPhee's D
10. Harry Wright (-)

11. Bid McPhee (8)
12. Harry Stovey (12)
13. Charley Jones (-)--the dominant hitter between the '70s guys (McVey, Pike) and the later '80s guys (Thompson, Browning, Stovey)
14. Jim McCormick (-)--career WS leader for a few years in the mid-'80s, which puts him ahead of the other high peak short career guys
15. Dickey Pearce (-)

Dropping out: Fred Dunlap, Tony Mullane, Denny Lyons. Again, second tier '80s guys drop down below first tier '60s and '70s guys. Tommy Bond, Dave Orr, Ezra Sutton, Dunlap and Lyons also get consideration.

Posted 11:33 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#152) - Marc
>Posted 11:25 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#150) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
I've always thought fast pitch softball was what 1860's and 1870's baseball was similar too, not slow
pitch.

Joe, 1) look at the scores. 2) Note the notion that the pitcher's job was thought to be to HELP rather than HINDER the hitter (though obviously Creighton and others were active in seeking ways to circumvent that notion). I think slow pitch is a vastly better analogy.

Posted 11:37 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#153) - Chris Cobb
I'm still working on the down-ballot slots, but here's the top half of my ballot as I expect to cast it, barring new information and arguments.

Looking at this section of the ballot, it's divided between three players whom I think should already be in -- we've elected players who are not as good as they are -- and four players who should go in at some point. Only one of the top three can go in this year, of course, and maybe none will, but they all ought to go in soon.

1. Ezra Sutton -- 458 fielding adj. WS and 83 peak WS are best career value and among the best peaks among the position players on the ballot. A clear #1 choice. I had Galvin #1 last yeaer, but seeing Sutton's NA career more clearly has caused me to move him up to #1.

2. Pud Galvin -- as I see it, WARP1 unadjusted, except for normalizing seasons shorter than 75 games to 75, is the best measure of pre-1893 pitchers that we have. According to it, Galvin is second only to Keefe in career value, and follows after Clarkson, Spalding, and Keefe in peak value. He has a better combination of career and peak value than any position player on the ballot except Sutton.

3. Al Spalding -- short career, but I give him some credit for pre-1871 pitching, and his peak value, under the conditions which he played, is awesome. I am persuaded by jimd's argument that he was the most valuable player in the NA after Ross Barnes. Not quite enough career to go ahead of Sutton or Galvin, though. He's moved way up in my estimation this "year."

Spots 4-7 are players who should go in, but when it's their turn.

4. Cal McVey -- Best hitter on the ballot, and a versatile defender. A long career as well, but much undocumented. 364 fielding adj. CWS (including 50 for undocumented play), 82 peak WS (total WS above avg for career -- none added for undocumented play)

5. Harry Stovey -- 362 fielding adj. CWS, 72 peak WS place him just behind McVey.

6. Joe Start -- 409 fielding adj. CWS (including 60 for undocumented play), 33 peak WS. Low peak, confirmed by NA WS, drops him below Stovey

7. Bid McPhee -- 401 fielding adj. CWS, 31 peak WS. Numbers look a lot like Start's!

I've been calculating NA WS instead of thinking about the bottom half of my ballot . Must get to work on that . . .

Posted 11:41 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#154) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Marc, for the scores, I think it was the errors that were more responsible for the scores, people weren't hitting .600 or anything, were they?

I know Bill James used fast-pitch to describe the 1870s in the Historical Abstracts.

If you are going to give Spalding so much credit based on WARP1, take a look at where Sutton places on that list.

As for Creighton, I don't think any player can do enough in 3 years to make the Hall of Merit. Especially when it's 3 pretty poorly documented years from before the Civil War. Seriously, if Babe Ruth had only appeared for 3 years, he wouldn't even be a thought on my ballot. Ross Barnes was the best player in baseball for 6 docuemented years, and pretty good before that for a few and he was barely elected. Creighton, wasn't close to Barnes.

Posted 11:47 p.m., July 27, 2003 (#155) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Rough Prelim --

1. Start
2. Sutton
3. McPhee
4. Galvin
5. McVey
6. Spalding
7. Stovey
8. Thompson
9. Tiernan
10. Griffin
11. McCormick
12. Bennett
13. Tom York (much more career value than I previously realized)
14. Browning
15. Whitney

I might be forgetting someone at the bottom of the ballot, this is mostly from memory.

Posted 12:09 a.m., July 28, 2003 (#156) - Chris Cobb
To all those who have expressed enthusiasm for the NA WS -- thank you! I enjoyed working through the numbers, and I'm glad that they are proving to be of some interest and some use.

John, I haven't done translations for John Clapp. I need to think about the second half of my ballot, so I don't think I'll be able to get to it for a few days, but I'll make a note to do so when I have a chance.

Marc: Galvin and Sutton, Sutton and Galvin. Their peaks are there, there are peaks there.

Getting punchy. Had better sleep.

Posted 1:20 a.m., July 28, 2003 (#157) - redsox1912
Speaking of E.Sutton's defense John Murphy said,

“He wasn't as good as Williamson and Nash, but we're still talking well above average.”

I’ve listed the players whose careers were roughly the same time period as Sutton and who played predominantly 3rd base. I only list those whose careers were at least 10 years long. Fielding Ave and Fielding Runs are lifetime totals.

Player…………………….career………. FA..……. FR…... years led league in FA

Jerry Denny-……………’81 to ’94………882…....109……..NL in ’83,’89
Billy Nash……………..’84 to ’98…….....897…..…76…….NL in ’88,’92,’93,’94
Joe Battin……………...’71 to ’84, 90…..870……...77…….NL in ’76, AA in ‘83
Arlie Latham…………..’80 to ’99………870……...60…….never
Ned Williamson……….’78 to ’90………866….......28…….NL in ’79,’80,’81,’82,’85
Art Whitney…………...’80 to ’91………888..…….(6)…….AA in ’84,’85,’86,’91
Dude Esterbrook………’80 to ’91………884…..….(2)…….NL in ‘86
Bill Kuehne……………’83 to ’92………876…..….(4)…….never
Hink Carpenter………...’79 to ’92………853….….(80)…..AA in ‘82
Deacon White………….’71 to ’90………853….….(33)…..never

Ezra Sutton…………….’71 to ’88………871….….(30)….NL in ‘84
.
I ‘m not sure where Sutton ranks in this list, but I don’t see it as “well above average”,
(at least not in regards to defense). I do think there is something to be said for a person playing that long at this position. It’s incredible how many third basemen played only 1 or 2 years back then. It must have been a very difficult position prior to the advent of the glove.
Until recently there were very few third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Why is that? It may be that the best players chose not to put themselves through the ordeal of playing the hot corner without a glove.

Posted 1:36 a.m., July 28, 2003 (#158) - John Murphy
redsox1912:

Win Shares has Sutton as a B+ fielder (Williamson and Nash are A's), which is more in line with how he was recognized at the time.

With the help of Chris Cobb's numbers, I now have Sutton as the best major league third baseman for 1872, 1873, 1875, 1883, 1884 and 1885, while almost the best first baseman behind McVey for 1876. Marc, can you take a closer look again, please?

Posted 11:06 a.m., July 28, 2003 (#159) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
'As for Creighton, I don't think any player can do enough in 3 years to make the Hall of Merit. '

If 3 years is enough, I think Tony C will be a 1st-ballot HoMer in 65 years!

Posted 1:54 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#160) - Marc
Jim Creighton played in a different time and place than Tony C, and nobody ever thought Tony C was the one single absolutely best player in the game at any one time. If Joe DiMaggio had died in 1940, he would be more analogous to Creighton (though would not rate as highly). My main point in bringing up Creighton is that the preference for career length over peak value is a value judgement. I prefer peak. I understand there is a differing POV on that, but I prefer a peak.

And secondarily, I brought up the example of Creighton to show just how highly pitching was indeed valued in the unDIPS era before 1876.

Re. Ezra Sutton vs., say, Al Spalding, the choice, expressed in very gross terms, I admit, is this: a top 20 player for 20 years vs. a top 3 player for 10 years. To me there is no question who I would value more highly. Creighton, similarly, is the top 1 player for 3 years. Where you draw the line, and how you construct equivalencies using this method of analysis is not clear to me, but...another example. Joe Start is a difficult case because he was probably a top 5 player for 5 years and a top 20 player for another 15, so clearly he rates ahead of Sutton. However, Cal McVey was a top 5 player for 10-12 years. I prefer McVey over Start, but I understand those who would go the other way.

But, again, the preference for career value over peak, that seems to be so obvious to some, is a value judgment, an opinion, not a moral obligation.
   168. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:10 AM (#3060986)
Posted 2:33 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#161) - Chris Cobb
Re. Ezra Sutton vs., say, Al Spalding, the choice, expressed in very gross terms, I admit, is this: a top 20 player for 20 years vs. a top 3 player for 10 years.

Marc, my disagreement is less with the value judgment of peak vs, career than with your assessment of Sutton's peak value. While McPhee appears to me to be a case of a "top 20 player for 20 years," Sutton's career was not like that. He was a top 10 player for 5 years in the NA, then an average player for 6 years, then a top 10 player again for 3-4 years.

Lord knows the ballot is crowded, but I just have a hard time seeing how according to a peak criterion Sutton doesn't break the top 15, since he looks exceptional to me on a peak measure.

Posted 2:34 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#162) - Zebulon Pike
I prefer peak. I understand there is a differing POV on that, but I prefer a peak.

Me, too!

Posted 2:42 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#163) - John Murphy
Lord knows the ballot is crowded, but I just have a hard time seeing how according to a peak criterion Sutton doesn't break the top 15, since he looks exceptional to me on a peak measure.

Just to follow up: How is Jim McCormick's or Charley Jones's peak better than Sutton's? Ezra was the best at his position many more times than those two (and had a much longer career for his position than McCormick and Jones).

Posted 3:21 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#164) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
Marc,
I actually develop a 'composite' peak rating which is based on 3-yr peak, 5-year peak, 8-yr peak, and 10-yr peak. I then weight this composite rating as equal to 'career' value. To me, 3-yr peak by itself is way to extreme to base an entire ranking on. This is particularly true in the era we're examining now. With the short seasons in the NA, there are alot of players who had 1 monster year and another mediocre year. If you examine several years, these fluctuations even out, but just looking at 3 seasons out of an entire career does not. Is Albert Pujols already an HoMer? He's on the right track, but I don't think its rational to say that he's already there. I respect that you're a 'peak' guy just as I respect the 'career' guys POV. I would question the career guy for voting for a 200 WS player who played for 20 years. Thats too extreme the other way.

Posted 8:05 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#165) - jimd
Still even giving him the benefit of all these doubts, Spalding's 6 year run from 1871-76 -- WITH offense included -- gets noticeably less WARP1 than Koufax's best 6 year run as a pitcher alone.

I'm glad my WARP-1 argument was coherent enough that people were able to follow it and even be persuaded a little by it.

As we know, all of Spalding's numbers were compiled in 30-to-80 game seasons. If one scales the numbers for season length, those numbers are doubled or tripled (or more in 1871). I know some don't like to adjust pitchers because they couldn't pitch all those extra innings while OTOH don't mind adjusting the position players because they could play all those extra games. But doing this distorts their actual value relative to each other; the pitcher that was the MVP in the short season is no longer so after the position player is scaled and the pitcher is not. ("Scaling" may be more appropriate semantically than "adjusting".)

As far as I've been able to determine, WARP-1 sees Spalding as the best player in the league in 1874 and 1875, while Barnes was the best in 1872, 1873, and 1876 (and Rynie Wolters in 1871). Who gets the MVP award is always an interesting debate given its definition. In 1871, Spalding was 2nd best in the league and so was a legit candidate, particularly because Wolters would be hindered by being on a .500 team. Wright was a very close 2nd to Barnes in 1873; it wouldn't be a surprise if he got it instead of Barnes. Deacon White had a great 1875 season; choosing him over Spalding would not be a big upset. Spalding probably would get 1-3 MVP awards (using BP's WARP-1 numbers) depending on the voter's preferences in 1871 and 1875, with 1874 being a lock.

Posted 9:29 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#166) - Marc
I tend to use a 3 to 5 year peak. When people say that so-and-so (A Rod, e.g.) is "the best player in the game," I think they tend to mean the best over 3 to 5 years, not just the best this year. When they mean the best this year, they say MVP or MVP candidate. So to me the highest honor any player can achieve, and the surest route into the HoF or HoM (my HoF or HoM anyway) is to be "the best player in the game" at some point in time.

Spalding or Barnes were that...and you could argue both were in alternating seasons.

Being the best at one's position isn't a "great" achievement in my book, it's a "very good" achievement perhaps. But there have been periods when 3 players at the same position could compete for "best player"--Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg; Mays, Mantle, Snider; A Rod, Nomar, Jeter perhaps--or 2 anyway--Berra and Campy, Cobb and Speaker--and any one of these would rank ahead of many, many players who more clearly rated as the best at his position.

Here are the best players in America in the 19th century (using the 3 to 5 year rule) (and this is off the top, not highly researched):

Harry Wright
Jim Creighton
not clear for mid-'60s but maybe Joe Start
George Wright
Al Spalding
Ross Barnes
1877-1885ish very chaotic but Tommy Bond, John Ward, Paul Hines, George Gore all could make a claim, then:
Hoss Radbourn
King Kelly
John Clarkson
Cap Anson
Dan Brouthers
Kid Nichols
Billy Hamilton
Hughie Jennings
Ed Delahanty

All of these players deserve consideration.

Posted 9:32 p.m., July 28, 2003 (#167) - Marc
And PS. I wouldn't consider any 3 year man other than Creighton. The times have changed, the standards with them. I wouldn't consider Spalding if he only played for 3 years much less Tony C or Albert Pujols. But Spalding's 10-11 year career is not short by the standards of his time. Today a 10 year career is short. Anybody who wants a single standard to work from 1849 through the 22nd century is dreaming.

Posted 10:16 a.m., July 29, 2003 (#168) - Jason Koral
Marc said,
"Then, Jason said something about AS pitching from '71-'76. I thought everybody knew there was baseball before '71 and that Spalding was a nationally renowned star as early as '66. "

Well Spalding was 15 years old in 1866. There simply is no such thing as a great 15-16 year old major league player. Spalding - who played for a local team near his hometown in Rockford, Illinois, was no exception. That was not a bad team, and Spalding obtained a certain amount of fame when he won a game against the Washington Nationals, a good amateur team from out East. But it wasnt a great team either. Spalding was not one of big stars of the amateur era and didnt make his name until Wright grabbed him for the Red Stockings in 71.

Spalding was 20 years old in 1871, and had a good year playing with some very fine players. But not a great year; his hitting was under the league average; his ERA+ with Barnes and the Wrights behind him was a good but not quite world-beating 124. Zettlein was a better pitcher that year; Wolters a much better overall player; Al Pratt was probably close adjusting for team quality. Working backwards, Id suspect that Spalding was a solid but not outstanding pitcher in his late teens, and adequate (but good enough for relatively weak competition) in his mid-teens.

I'm willing to give guys credit for the high amateur years where the evidence indicates its truly due, including Start, Pike, The Wrights. Spalding was not near that level in the 1860s; at least I can see no evidence that he was, and some that he wasnt.

Posted 11:15 a.m., July 29, 2003 (#169) - Marc
The Washington Nationals were a good amateur team, indeed...but also more. They barnstormed around the U.S., like the Cincy Red Stockings a couple years later, and lost only one game. They were the best team in America.

Jim, thanks for the feedback. I regard this whole HoM exercise as experimental, at least as it relates to the 19th century. There is no conventional wisdom. WARP? Heck, we have enough trouble defining RP in the 20th century, and what with WARP1, WARP2, WARP3, adjWARP1, etc. etc., there is no conventional wisdom in WARP. And WS--well, we know that James did not care enough to fine tune his work to truly make sense of the 19th century.

So this is all a very experimental and subjective exercise. You can use WARP3 if you want, that does not make this a quantitative exercise. It is a highly subjective, theoretical choice to use WARP3 or adjWS. Many untested assumptions go into that choice. I respect voters who have voted for players in a fixed order from year to year. I on the other hand have had guys bouncing all over my ballot because I am not yet comfortable that I know the answers to all the theoretical questions and which are the right assumptions and therefore the right measures.

I have been extremely consistent in demanding a high peak (and so far we disagree as to whether Ezra Sutton had a high peak or not). But given the experimental nature of this exercise, and given our desire to recognize "all" eras (well, maybe not the '50s?), and given the rapidly changing conditions, I don't think it is any more eccentric to suggest that we consider Jim Creighton and Harry Wright than it is to declare with absolute certitude that Pennants Added from WARP3 is a reliable measure.

I'm not sure if I will take another run at Ezra Sutton--while on the other hand I will acknowledge that you have already convinced me that Joe Start is a strong HoM candidate. I say this re. Sutton because you are probably going to elect him without me. (I for the life of me cannot fathom Sutton ranking ahead of Spalding, but of course groups make better decisions that individuals do.) But, again, what is the point of this exercise if we emerge from it a year or two from now with no knowledge of Jim Creighton or of Harry Wright as an actual player?

Posted 11:39 a.m., July 29, 2003 (#170) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Regarding Creighton and H. Wright . . . there weren't any spots for them when we came up with the schedule, that's a major consideration. We started with 1871, saying we'd give 'back credit' to players who had 'significant' achievements after 1871 (not necessarily their entire peak or anything) for their play before 1871. But there were no spots allocated for people like Creighton when we started this.
   169. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:12 AM (#3060989)
Posted 12:02 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#171) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Sure the measures aren't perfect, and I'm not married to them either (my rankings are not a direct correlation to any one stat), although I do promote them. But Pennants Added is definitely the correct way to combine peak and career (if value is what you are trying to measure) into a reasonable number that gives justifiable credit to BOTH career paths. Assuming you've got your initial WARP or WS or whatever correct, it IS the way to combine them into a number that is fair to both players.

Sure the inputs could be wrong, WARP or WS or whatever, but I don't think they are that far off especially when evaluating batting. They are a look better than just eyeballing the numbers or looking at OPS+, which is really a junk stat, just a better one than AVG, so it's caught on for eyeballing things.

People say WARP overvalues fielding, and it might, a little bit, but I don't think it's that far off . . . it's much more likely that WS undervalues it for the 19th Century, especially. Defense really was important back then, much moreso than today. For one, 3B were making upwards of 100 errors a year, and the differences between the best and the worst were much greater than they are today, making good fielding much more important in the scheme of things, and another reason why managers would sacrifice the bat at 3B as opposed to 2B, where they were making half the errors (and the spread between best an worst was a lot smaller).

I'm just saying, it's easy to say WARP and WS don't have all the answers, and they don't, but they are still a much better guess than just eyeballing the numbers. When both of them say a player was TWO TIMES as valuable as another over the course of their careers, I'm going to take the system's word for it unless some much better evidence comes along to prove it wrong.

Posted 12:23 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#172) - TomH
"Pennants Added is definitely the correct way to combine peak and career (if value is what you are trying to measure) into a reasonable number that gives justifiable credit to BOTH career paths. Assuming you've got your initial WARP or WS or whatever correct"
---
I also think Pennants Added is a good (best we have) way to combine peak and career. However, as much as I like the nice uber-number it gives, there of course is still the question of baseline. Joe made the reasonable assumption that WARP replacment level was a good baseline, and adjusted the WS down (subtracting about 6 per full year)a hair in order to make the comparison more even. But if someone (one of our "peak" advocates?) wanted to argue that the replacement level used in the Pennants Added calc is too low, that is a very fair argument, which might be why they don't rate the McPhees/Suttons/Starts as highly. I hope those who are sold on peak value don't use the Jamesian Win Share as their baseline (which would be kinda like saying Aaron has the most TB and RBI, he's obviously the greatest player ever, end of discussion), and I trust our peak value advocates are at least making sure their baseline does not go above average (like those out there who apparently believe Pete Rose's and Bert Blyleven's on-field accomplishments do not rate HoF status).

End of diatribe. I ain't votin yet this week. I'm still learning too much from youse brilliant guys to confidently seal my ballot shut.

Posted 2:22 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#173) - John Murphy
There has been some discussion about the SABR 19th Century Committee voting for Stovey as the most deserving player yet to be elected to the HOF. Paul Wendt, who is the chair now, was kind enough to respond to my question concerning this vote and gave me permission to post his thoughts to me here:

The 19th Century Cmtee was established in 1983, perhaps at the Annual
Convention, following a September 1982 letter from John Thorn and Mark
Rucker to people interested in 19th century baseball (call that letter
number zero). The undated first letter to Cmtee members included a single
sheet of paper to be returned: a survey of research interests and a poll,
"your version of the ten best 19th C. players not in the hall of fame."

The 1 October 1983 letter, presumably the second, includes both a list of
members and interests (28 people) and a list of 19c baseballists with
number of votes received (total about 180). Ryan, Stovey, and Van Haltren
garnered 13 votes each. Browning and Start followed, meaning that the
founders put five outfielder-firstbasemen at the top of the list.

Among all players who received at least two votes, only George Davis (4
votes), Ryan, and Van Haltren played regularly in the 20th century, and
only Davis was an important player in the oughts.

Paul is going to post some later surveys and other bits of information for us later on.

The funny thing is, I would have voted almost exactly the same way - in 1983! This was before The Hidden Game of Baseball highlighted some of the the 19th Century defensive stars, like Glasscock and McPhee, in 1984. All the players that were mentioned in the poll would stand out in The Baseball Encyclopedia because of their hitting. Sutton and the rest wouldn't make the same impression.

Posted 2:44 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#174) - John Murphy
I say this re. Sutton because you are probably going to elect him without me. (I for the life of me cannot fathom Sutton ranking ahead of Spalding, but of course groups make better decisions that individuals do.)

Because you can go well into the the next century before you find a better third baseman, while Spalding was topped by a few pitchers rather quickly.

BTW, are you comparing Sutton to all third baseman of his time or comparing him to all players of his era (regardless of position)? If you are doing the latter, that will screw up your analysis, IMO.

Posted 2:55 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#175) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
"I say this re. Sutton because you are probably going to elect him without me. (I for the life of me cannot fathom Sutton ranking ahead of Spalding, but of course groups make better decisions that individuals do.)"

That's a reasonable argument, and a reason to have Spalding #1 and Sutton somewhere below him. But I can't see how anyone couldn't have Sutton at least on their ballot. We've got 18 players in, and another 15 spots on the ballot. So not ranking him is saying that he's not one of the 33 best players that have been eligible since we started, and I think that's ludicrous. The guy had 7 or 8 outstanding seasons and played for 18 years, most of them at a pretty high level. I don't have anyone can say there are 33 players retired by 1901 better than him.

Posted 4:46 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#176) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
If pitchers had no impact at all, then they'd have somebody like Dan Brouthers out there tossing meatballs so they could get his bat in the lineup; give these guys some credit for knowing their game well enough to know where they can grab an edge.

In the 1860s, there were several teams with a professional battery and a semi-pro or amateur supporting cast. From another perspective, several pitchers and catchers were able to shop for guaranteed money, while their teammates played for a share of gate receipts or for nonpecuniary rewards. I surmise that pitchers and catchers moved more frequently than did the players at seven regular positions.
(Eg, a genuinely local club hired a battery. Sometimes I suspected that that was going on in the Cambridge Softball League [fast pitch].)

For the 1860s, I hope that we will have a statistical record which bears on some of these issues decisively, before the end of the decade ;-)
(For the Cambridge Softball League, I will be left with my old suspicions.)

"1860s" is a gloss. Maybe 1865-1870 plus independent teams after 1870. This entire note is glossy enough, so I will leave it at that.

Paul Wendt, Watertown MA
Chair, 19th Century Cmtee, SABR

Posted 5:38 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#177) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
HOMers,
Thanks to John Murphy (#173) for prompting me to drop in. I'm sorry that I don't have time to follow all the discussion --not even all of the analysis. Your election results, discussion, and analysis look very good to me, at a glance.

Several 19th Century Committee activities since 1983 bear on the ranking of 19c ballplayers. You see, I can't help but hesitate to call them "Best Player" surveys. I believe that the first poll by Thorn and Rucker was a device to elicit prompt replies to their survey of research interests, in order to get the committee going as quickly as possible. And so it goes.

For what it's worth, 113 people voted for as many as 40 players in the 1999 election to select "Baseball's Nineteenth Century Best" (members only, a device to recruit new members). That was a simple ballot, no discussion, and name recognition carried almost all of the Hall of Famers. This was just after the Cooperstown election of George Davis and just before that of Bid McPhee. At a glance, the non-Hall of Famers who garnered the most votes were:
Browning, McPhee, Stovey, White, Mullane, Glasscock, Caruthers, Dahlen, O'Neill, Barnes.

Number 41-44 in number of votes for the Top 40 were Fred Clarke, Jimmy Ryan, George Van Haltren, Clark Griffith. I disagree with so much in those poll results, so it is grossly selective for me to report those four rankings alone, especially as most of you have no access to the report published in "Nineteenth Century Notes" 99.2.
;-
So be it.
I like that ranking of Ryan and Van Haltren. I think 42-43 is just about right.

Paul Wendt (speaking unofficially, in part)

P.S. If you know anything about the history of Ezra Sutton's non-reputation, ie why he has none at all, please let me know.

Posted 8:01 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#178) - Marc
Paul, thanks for dropping in, hope maybe you're now following this discussion. Re. the non-HoFers on the SABR 19th century ballot:

>Browning, McPhee, Stovey, White, Mullane, Glasscock, Caruthers, Dahlen, O'Neill, Barnes, Jimmy Ryan, George Van Haltren, Clark Griffith.

Aside from the last three about whom you were clear, are the others listed more or less in order of their support?

Posted 8:03 p.m., July 29, 2003 (#179) - Marc
Joe, I'm not just eyeballing the numbers though I admit to looking at some traditional stats. My spreadsheet is ten columns wide, but I will also admit that I do not yet use WARP for reasons mentioned earlier. Will the real WARP please stand up?

Posted 2:51 a.m., July 30, 2003 (#180) - DanG
Re Paul's post (#177): the SABR Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1999, published the top 40 in the SABR 19th century survey.

1-10: Anson-Kelly-Young-Delahanty-Ewing-Brouthers-Radbourn-Connor-Hamilton-Keeler.
11-20: Clarkson-Ward-Keefe-Nichols-Thompson-Rusie-Davis-Browning-Burkett-Duffy.
21-30: Galvin-McPhee-O'Rourke-Spalding-Welch-H.Stovey-G.Wright-D.White-McGraw-Jennings.
31-40: Mullane-Glasscock-Caruthers-Beckley-Dahlen-J.Collins-Comiskey-J.Kelley-O'Neill-Barnes.

The only non-HOFer in the top 25 is Browning.
   170. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:12 AM (#3060991)
Posted 10:39 a.m., July 30, 2003 (#181) - Marc
So in other words--the oft-cited survey naming Stovey as the best 19th century non-Coop HoFer was conducted in 1983! And in a 1999 survey he came out 20-something. And the top 5 players in that 1999 survey who are eligible for the HoM this year are:

Thompson
Browning
McPhee
Spalding
Welch

Thx to Paul and Dan. If these surveys are taken to have authority ;-) we should at least cite the better informed and larger sample size of 1999.

Posted 11:48 a.m., July 30, 2003 (#182) - dan b
"The only non-HOFer in the top 25 is Browning."

And Harry Stovey is 26th. The new and improved survey now has Stovey as the 2nd most deserving of HOF selection, again ahead of players we have already elected - White, Hine, Gore, Barnes, Glasscock, and Richardson. Also ahead of Sutton and Start.

Posted 11:59 a.m., July 30, 2003 (#183) - John Murphy
And Harry Stovey is 26th. The new and improved survey now has Stovey as the 2nd most deserving of HOF selection, again ahead of players we have already elected - White, Hine, Gore, Barnes, Glasscock, and Richardson. Also ahead of Sutton and Start.

As Paul stated, name recognition carried the day. Without Joe Dimino highlighting Start and Sutton last year, I don't know if the former makes my list (and the latter was unknown to me at the time).

Since extensive discussion of the players wasn't involved, I consider the surveys interesting, but nothing more.

Posted 12:32 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#184) - MattB (homepage)
Check out the "Homepage Link" to see Bobby Mathews' Prospectus page.

What I can't figure out is, was he one of the best pitchers of the 19th Century or one of the worst?

He ranks really high on WARP-1 Pennants Added, but then his final WARP-3 number is 3.8. Talk about league/timeline adjustments!

He's also 22nd in career wins, 6th among eligible pitchers (after Galvin, Keefe, Clarkson, Radbourn, and Welch), and 3rd among eligible non-elected pitchers, all off whom received much more consideration than Mathews.

So, what's wrong with Bobby?

Posted 12:45 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#185) - John Murphy
31-40: Mullane-Glasscock-Caruthers-Beckley-Dahlen-J.Collins-Comiskey-J.Kelley-O'Neill-Barnes.

C'mon, how serious can we take this survey? Comiskey may be the worst player of all-time who played for a considerable length of time.

Posted 3:16 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#186) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
A bit more context on the 1983 survey:

A survey was included in the first letter to (prospective?) members after the 19th Century Committee was approved by SABR, from Mark Rucker and John Thorn.
Essentially: Indicate your interest in these five areas (listed) and your other interests (freeform). List the ten best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame (freeform).

SABR approved the Nineteenth Century Stars project in 1984. Maybe the list of players named by 28 survey respondents, ~190 votes cast, was the beginning of the list of biography subjects. (19c Stars did not include any Hall of Fame members, although some of its subjects were subsequently elected.)

Paul Wendt

Posted 3:45 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#187) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
A bit more context on the 1999 survey:

McPhee was not yet in the Hall of Fame. Davis, just elected, barely outpolled Browning. The 16 players ranked above Davis and Browning garnered 75% support or greater.

David Nemec, The Beer and Whisky League, was a recent popular history of the AA. Elsewhere (probably in the book, too), David had written positively about Browning and Stovey in particular and about AA players in general. Perhaps including email to SABR-L.

It is clear that AA players had been underrated, in general. It is equally clear that NA players had been underrated, in general; that there was no prominent recent NA advocate or popular author; that NA players did not show up on most official or sabermetric leader boards because they played few games.

Paul Wendt

Posted 4:07 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#188) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
SABR advice to the Hall of Fame.

SABR advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates. For the 19c, at least, there was one round of unofficial advice and one round of official advice, following the agreement that there would be a separate 19c ballot for five years.

If I recall correctly, the candidates officially recommended were contributor Hulbert and players Glasscock, Davis, Dahlen, McPhee, Childs, ordered here by fielding position and by time. Perhaps the special committee prepared more portfolios than that, in order to fulfill the agreement. There was support for other candidates, including Hanlon and Selee, but there was also support for focusing attention upon a few.

Does the dejanews usenet archive still exist? I reported more about this relationship to rec.sport.baseball, probably in 1996. Search for Wendt, Hanlon, McPhee.

Paul Wendt

Posted 4:31 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#189) - John Murphy
If I recall correctly, the candidates officially recommended were contributor Hulbert and players Glasscock, Davis, Dahlen, McPhee, Childs, ordered here by fielding position and by time.

Now, this has some weight to it. All worthies, IMO (though I would place White and Sutton above all of them).

Posted 4:37 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#190) - Chris Cobb
Matt B wrote about Bobby Mathews:

What I can't figure out is, was he one of the best pitchers of the 19th Century or one of the worst?

He ranks really high on WARP-1 Pennants Added, but then his final WARP-3 number is 3.8. Talk about league/timeline adjustments!

He's also 22nd in career wins, 6th among eligible pitchers (after Galvin, Keefe, Clarkson, Radbourn, and Welch), and 3rd among eligible non-elected pitchers, all off whom received much more consideration than Mathews.

So, what's wrong with Bobby?

He's neither the best nor the worst: he was a good pitcher, but he was not as good as any of the pitchers now getting consideration on the ballot. He looks great on the WARP -1 pennants added because any good pitcher who is able to throw every one of his team's games will have a substantial pennant impact.

I see him having career value, game for game, pretty similar to the lower pitchers getting ballot attention: Caruthers, McCormick, Whitney, Welch, Mullane. But his peak value, game for game, is significantly below theirs.
   171. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3060995)
Posted 4:39 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#191) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Sutton I could see how they missed (his accomplishments were great, but tough for the naked eye to gain perspective on; big years in the NA, not realizing 3B hitters were much worse, etc.), but I don't know how White was missed. He and Start jumped out at me as soon as I started researching this stuff about 2 years ago (figuring career offensive winning %), they hit me in the face like a punch from George Foreman or something. The committee probably didn't focus on players who didn't play into the 1890s, that'd be my guess.

I wouldn't put Sutton in ahead of George Davis, John. I'd probably put Davis about even with White. I agree though, they did a damn good job, all things considered.

Posted 5:04 p.m., July 30, 2003 (#192) - John Murphy
I wouldn't put Sutton in ahead of George Davis, John.

I have them pretty close, so it's certainly arguable.

Posted 1:15 p.m., July 31, 2003 (#193) - TomH
EqA, and value of stolen bases

I attempted recently to re-create the EqA formula from the BP web site, to see how it compares with RC and linear weights. The batting components seem to be similar, except for steals and caught stealing.

The web site says that raw equivalent average is
REQA = (H + TB + 1.5*BB + SB) divided by (AB + BB + CS + SB/3).
(I took out the HBP, SH and SF terms)
By this method, a walk is worth about 60% of a single, and an out is worth about the negative value of a walk. BUT: a stolen base is also supposedly worth one walk, and a caught stealing hurts your EqA only as much as a successful steal helps; in other words, the breakeven % is about 50%!

These guys are too sharp to make this obvious of a mistake, so I must be implementing the formulae and/or calculations incorrectly. Has anyone else attempted to mimic their ##s?

Posted 4:16 p.m., July 31, 2003 (#194) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
SABR advice to the Hall of Fame, corrected

SABR members advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates.

For the 19c, the HOF named a committee of six specialists from SABR's 19th Century Committee, to recommend candidates from before 1920 and to prepare a dossier for each one recommended. [NCN, Spring 1993, p4]

The committee of six recommended contributor Hulbert and players McPhee, Davis, Dahlen, Stovey, Glasscock [Stovey, not Childs]. The announcement to 19c Cmtee members gave honorable mention to contributors Hanlon and Selee, players Mullane and Browning. None of the recommended candidates was elected in 1994. [NCN, Spring 1994, p10]

In January 1995, the HOF announced that its Committee on Veterans would consider one special ballot for 19c representatives and another for Negro Leagues players, annually for five years (later extended). The ballots would be prepared with SABR assistance. [NCN, Winter 1995, p10]

The 19c Cmtee did not revise the year-old report by the committee of six. As I recall, the Negro Leagues Cmtee held an election by all of its members in order to nominate players to the special ballot.

NCN is Nineteenth Century Notes, the newsletter of the 19th Century Committee, SABR.

Paul Wendt, Chair
19th Century Committee, SABR

Posted 4:22 p.m., July 31, 2003 (#195) - Paul Wendt (e-mail)
SABR advice to the Hall of Fame, corrected

SABR members advised the Hall of Fame regarding 19th century and Negro Leagues candidates.

For the 19c, the HOF named a committee of six specialists from SABR's 19th Century Committee, to recommend candidates from before 1920 and to prepare a dossier for each one recommended. [NCN, Spring 1993, p4]

The committee of six recommended contributor Hulbert and players McPhee, Davis, Dahlen, Stovey, Glasscock [Stovey, not Childs]. The announcement to 19c Cmtee members gave honorable mention to contributors Hanlon and Selee, players Mullane and Browning. None of the recommended candidates was elected in 1994. [NCN, Spring 1994, p10]

In January 1995, the HOF announced that its Committee on Veterans would consider one special ballot for 19c representatives and another for Negro Leagues players, annually for five years (later extended). The ballots would be prepared with SABR assistance. [NCN, Winter 1995, p10]

The 19c Cmtee did not revise the year-old report by the committee of six. As I recall, the Negro Leagues Cmtee held an election by all of its members in order to nominate players to the special ballot.

NCN is Nineteenth Century Notes, the newsletter of the 19th Century Committee, SABR.

Paul Wendt, Chair
19th Century Committee, SABR
   172. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:16 AM (#3060998)
Posted 10:12 p.m., July 31, 2003 (#196) - Clint (e-mail)
My ballot doesn't change a lot this year, except for movement among the NA players. If you want longer explanations, see #124 on the 1905 ballot. Here goes:

1. Al Spalding (2).
2. Cal McVey (6). Al and Cal made big jumps on the 1905 ballot as I reevaluated NA players. Cal made another one on this ballot after I incorporated Chris's fabulous NA work. In my opinion, Al's the most valuable NA player, bar none. In preparing the 1905 ballot, I had guesstimated most of the NA win shares pretty well, but I was low on Cal. So, Cal makes another big move up. Cal was very strong during the NA years, and kept it going four more after that in the NL and then some.

3. Jim McCormick (3). A very strong six year peak (1879-84) that Galvin, Welch, Whitney and the rest of the pitchers down the ballot can't come close to matching.

4. Bob Caruthers (4). Bob has been hovering right at this point for a few years, as I have jumped people over him. It's real hard for me to get a handle on how to gauge the slashes. But it's clear to me that he was the most valuable AA player in the immediate pre-PL period (1885-89). That's good enough for 4th place.

5. Ezra Sutton (12). Big move for Ezra. Part of it is Chris's work. The other part is that (although I have been flexible with non-traditional career paths) I realized that Ezra's very odd career pattern deserves a little more flexibility. There's not a lot of difference from here on down almost to the end of the ballot. So, by giving Ezra just a little extra edge, he shoots up several places.

6. Pud Galvin (7). Inching up slowly. He's very good, and I hope he gets in. Just didn't exhibit the same sort of domination as the pitchers I have rated in front of him. As I've said before, I'm adjusting probably more than many others for the fact that he couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag (which mattered, given as often as those pitchers were hitting) and he never came within a mile of helping his teams win a pennant.

7. Tip O'Neill (8).
8. Harry Stovey (10).
9. Pete Browning (11). The three AA hitters. I certainly apply a AA discount, but not as significant a discount as others are. I have Tip a hair ahead because, in my opinion, from 1884 to 1889, he was the best position player in the AA.

10. Dave (not Dan) Foutz (9). Was about to give up on old Dave before Yardape appeared on the scene. Still will wait until Caruthers gets in to argue for any other slashes.

11. Jim Whitney (14). Awesome pitcher for three years (1881-83), and huge in getting Boston the pennant in 1883. Fell off rather quickly. He's not so much moving up my list as others are moving down.

12. Jack Stivetts (nl). I've explained this vote in the ballot discussion. Here are your Win Shares leaders for the 1890s: Kid Nichols (390), Cy Young (331), Amos Rusie (283), Billy Hamilton (271), Jack Stivetts (264). Now, you can apply your AA discount, your pitching-mound-distance discount, your too-many-T's-in-the-last-name discount, or whatever discount you want. And I have applied those discounts. But his performance during this period is still voteworthy. Helped his teams win pennants.

13. Mike Tiernan (15). His big seasons are bigger than Sam Thompson's, and that's why he gets the vote instead of Sam. I was planning to put Thompson on the ballot this year, right behind Tiernan. But instead, I'll add . . .

14. Lip Pike (nl). Benefits from Chris's work. By Chris's calculations, Lip had the most win shares of any position player in the NA who has not yet been elected. That brings him onto the ballot.

15. Tony Mullane (13). Losing a little enthusiasm for him.

Posted 12:04 a.m., August 2, 2003 (#197) - Marc
Someone asked about Harry Wright. There is precious little information about his actual playing skills. The following is hardly comprehensive, I am sure someone out there has more and better info, but I have tried to take a broad view based on internet searches and several books I have here.

1845-Knickerbocker Club creates first "modern" baseball rules. Most prominent among the club are Alexander Cartwright, who apparently was the team's pitcher, and Dr. Daniel J. "Doc" Adams, who in 1849 created the shortstop position and with it the nine-man lineup. Knicks lose to New York Base Ball Club 23-1 in 1846, however, and there is one reference to the New Yorks as an older, more experienced club, which seems very odd. Also it is noted that Cartwright did not pitch this day, but umpired instead, we do not know why.

1850-Gotham club formed.
1854-Brooklyn Excelsiors formed. Gothams defeat Knicks, 21-16--games are to 21, and this is the first game ever to take more than 9 innings to complete.
1856-Brooklyn Eckfords and Atlantics, the first "workingmen's clubs," formed.
1857--First convention of 16 teams to revise rules, most notably defining a game as 9 innings; by the end of the season there are 26 teams. Harry Wright, a cricketeer since 1847, joins the Knicks.

1859--Jim Creighton makes his debut with Brooklyn Niagaras. He is the first pitcher to throw a "speedball" and to mix speeds in effort to hinder the hitter. Technically it is the pitcher's job to put the ball in play, to "assist" the hitter, but this convention is never observed in elite ball after Creighton.

Atlantics, led by Joe Start and Jack Chapman, win 8 "pennants" in the following 11 years (it is not clear precisely who they played and how they won many of these pennants--e.g. did they defeat Creighton and the Excelsiors 1860-62?)

1860--Creighton is recruited and paid to play with the Excelsiors who undertake baseball's first tour and who are rarely defeated until Creighton dies of baseball-related injuries in 1862, age 21.

1865--Brooklyn Atlantics defeated Boss Tweed's professionals, the New York Mutuals, 13-12, in the first head-to-head, one-game match-up for the "grand championship" before 15,000 or 20,000 fans, depending on which report you prefer. Harry Wright moves to Cincinnati, initially to play cricket. There are now 91 teams registered with the Association of Base Ball Players.

1866-67--Washington Nationals, founded back in '59 and who played extensively throughout the Washington area during the Civil War years, barnstorm the U.S. losing only one game, to Al Spalding and the Rockford Reds. George Wright is already well-known enough to have been recruited to play for the Nationals, while brother Harry has now abandoned cricket again to join the Cincinnati Base Ball Club (later the Red Stockings).

1867--Candy Cummings invents the curve ball.

1869-70--The first entirely and openly professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, barnstorm America and defeat all comers (92 in a row) before losing to Joe Start's Atlantics, 8-7 in 11 innings.

Now, to the point:

It is 1871, the NA has been formed, we are at a watershed year in American baseball. Looking back from that watershed year of 1871, who have been the greatest baseball players of the first quarter-century (1845-1870). This is obviously just one man's opinion.

PEAK

1. James Creighton--the first pitcher to throw a "speedball" without snapping his wrist, then illegal; the first to hinder rather than help the hitter, thereby setting a precedent without which the game could hardly be what it is and has been; the first player who we know to have been recruited and paid to play.

2. George Wright--four years of elite ball by '70, his team was America's best every year.

3. Joe Start--star of the game's first and greatest dynasty, the Brooklyn Atlantics--not as great a team as the Red Stockings perhaps but the only team to sustain excellence for more than a few years at a time.

4. Al Spalding--only pitcher in America to defeat the Washington Nationals in '66-'67; then recruited to Chicago's best team, the Excelsiors; given a job as a retail clerk at 10X the normal pay, enough to induce him to stay in Chicago and turn down opportunities to hook up with the Washington Nationals or Cincinnati Red Stockings.

5. Harry Wright--called the "finest...best" player in America, and also said that he and George were "the best hitters" in the game.

CAREER

1. Joe Start--hitting star of America's "best" team in terms of sustained excellence in the years before '71, also known as "Old Reliable" because of his ability to catch the ball.

2. Harry Wright--age 37 in 1871, he had played elite ball for 13 years; had played cricket or baseball for 22 years already.

3. Dickey Pearce--joined Brooklyn Athletics in '56, a 15 year veteran by '71. (Did not invent shortstop position, however, Doc Adams pretty clearly did that.)

4. Jack Chapman--Start's teammate on the Atlantics, an OF known as "Death to Flying Things" for his ability to catch fly balls.

5. Al Reach--like H. Wright, born in England, 31 years old in '71, a well-known and highly regarded player throughout the '60s, sometimes said to be the first paid player though Creighton is more often cited as such.

Finally, you will note that Joe Start and Harry Wright are the only two players on both lists, though it would generally be agreed that George Wright (already a more accomplished player at his peak by 1871) would surpass Harry before retiring as a player. Likewise Spalding would sustain his high peak level of play, while Creighton did not have the opportunity to do so. So if I had to combine these lists, I would list the best players of "all time" as of end of year 1870 (NOT as of the end of all careers):

1. Start
2. H. Wright
3. Creighton
4. G. Wright
5. Spalding
6. Pearce
7. Chapman
8. Reach

By the time all had retired, I would rate them G. Wright, Spalding, Start, Creighton, H. Wright, Pearce, Chapman, Reach.

Posted 2:28 a.m., August 2, 2003 (#198) - sean gilman
Good stuff Marc, but if I read that correctly you have Harry Wright ahead of Creighton in 1870, but behind him afterwards. . .do you mean that Harry's play after 1870 drops him below Creighton?

Posted 11:15 a.m., August 2, 2003 (#199) - John Murphy
Good stuff Marc, but if I read that correctly you have Harry Wright ahead of Creighton in 1870, but behind him afterwards. . .do you mean that Harry's play after 1870 drops him below Creighton?

Thanks for posting the info, Marc (I was the somebody that made the request)!

I have to agree with Sean, though. Harry Wright's contributions post-1870 shouldn't be a negative.

I'm leaning towards adding him to my ballot, but he would be the only other one from pre-1871 that I would add.

The only thing that bothers me about him is that he is usually credited as the best "scientific" batter. Does this mean that he created the most runs or that he just crafty?

3. Dickey Pearce (Did not invent shortstop position, however, Doc Adams pretty clearly did that.)

No, but he made it the position that it is today. Before Pearce, shortstop had the least defensive contribution in the game. Pearce changed that almost overnight.

Dickey created the version that we're familiar with now.

Posted 1:17 p.m., August 2, 2003 (#200) - Marc
I'm not sure what I said that suggested Creighton would pass H. Wright after 1870. As of 1870 Creighton had had the highest peak but Start and H. Wright were #1 and 2 for career achievements. Putting the two (peak and career) together, as of 1870 I have Start, Wright and Creighton. Anything anybody did after 1870 would be additive, and all but Creighton would have added some value after 1870. Creighton would not pass anybody on the composite list, though frankly nobody on the list including G. Wright and Spalding would surpass Creighton for a 3 year peak.

Main point: As of 1870, it appears to me that knowledgeable baseball observers would rate Start, H. Wright and Creighton as the 3 best players of "all time"--i.e. of the first quarter century of organized play, with G. Wright and Spalding coming up on the outside.
   173. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:17 AM (#3061000)
Posted 2:12 p.m., August 2, 2003 (#201) - John Murphy
Main point: As of 1870, it appears to me that knowledgeable baseball observers would rate Start, H. Wright and Creighton as the 3 best players of "all time"--i.e. of the first quarter century of organized play, with G. Wright and Spalding coming up on the outside.

Do you have any sources for this? Thanks.

Posted 8:20 p.m., August 3, 2003 (#202) - KJOK (e-mail)
Re: Post #193 from TomH:

This was discussed on the FanHome Sabermetrics Message Board several years back. IIRC, your findings are correct. EQA doesn't necessarily "make sense" with its weightings. It is more of an empirical formula that tracks well with actual run scoring.

Posted 8:49 a.m., August 4, 2003 (#203) - TomH
Thanks, KJOK. I believe I will use EqA as a sanity check for OWP, and as part of the process of adjusitng for league quality, bnt not much else. At least I know OWP uses different formulae for pre-1910 players, when CS was not always available, so we ought to rust it more for these early years.

----

In case anyone needed convincing about Sliding Billy Hamilton:
OWP I have for him is .758, with most of career in the 1-league 1890s. No one else on our ballot is over .700, except for Browning in a AA career. Way, way above everyone else.
Led MLB in OBA 5 times.
All-time rank in OBA is 3rd among guys with >5000 PAs, behind two pikers named Williams and Ruth. Lifetime OBA is .455, compared to league avg of .356.
Stole more bases in his 13 years than Cobb in Ty’s 20+. 5 times had >95 steals (led majors league each time).
Scored 1690 runs. Most prolific run scoring machine of all time. No on else scored nearly as many runs as Billy without a much longer career. Led MLB 4 times in runs, once by margin of 27 over 2nd highest total.
His range in the OF probably wasn’t too shabby, either.

I suppose someone with a pension for peak pitching value could still vote for Spalding 1st, or a career-pitching voter might opt for Pud, but to me Hamilton appears light years ahead of the rest of our ballot; the easiest #1 I have had yet.

Posted 9:09 a.m., August 4, 2003 (#204) - Marc
Re. the "one league" NL of 1892-1900, keep in mind it was a 12 team league 1892-99. 12 is fewer than the 16 teams of 1882-1889 and '91 and 24 of 1890, but it is more than 8.

>Scored 1690 runs. Most prolific run scoring machine of all time.

In addition to playing in a 12 team environment, Hamilton also benefitted from playing in the massively offensive environment (and I'm not talking about the tactics of the Baltimore Orioles) of the mid-'90s. I don't know how we can pooh-pooh Sam Thompson based on the offensive environment without recognizing Hamilton played in the same environment.

I thought Rickey Henderson was the MVP in '85 but that doesn't make Mattingly a slouch. Ditto Hamilton and Thompson.

Posted 10:29 a.m., August 4, 2003 (#205) - TomH
Re. the "one league" NL of 1892-1900, keep in mind it was a 12 team league
Marc of course is correct. It's more like 1.5 leagues. Certainly if MLB contracted 7 or 8 teams, quality of play would go up.

>Most prolific run scoring machine of all time.

>how can (we) pooh-pooh Sam Thompson based on the offensive environment without recognizing Hamilton played in the same.

Natch. Sam's record goes from superb to merely great. Billy's downgrades from surreal to superb. For the years they played together in Philly, 1890-95,
player ..AVG .OBA .SLG .SB
.Hamilton. .361 .460 .460 508
Thompson .344 .394 .518 151

Billy had a longer career, was likely better defensively, had a large advantage in OWP, and is arguably the greatest leadoff man ever (Thompson, although a great slugger, is NOT arguably the greatest clean-up hitter ever).

Posted 12:02 p.m., August 4, 2003 (#206) - OCF
>Scored 1690 runs. Most prolific run scoring machine of all time.

I have some context for this. It's a fairly long post, and I'm waiting for a 1907 ballot argument thread to appear before I put it up.
   174. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:17 AM (#3061001)
Posted 10:56 p.m., August 6, 2003 (#207) - Marc
>Billy had a longer career, was likely better defensively

"Likely" or not, this needs to be checked out. Based on other skills, I would think it "likely" that Rickey Henderson is a better fielder than Don Mattingly. Not so.

First cut, career defensive WS: Hamilton 50.55 Thompson 28.3. Round one to Billy.
Second cut, WS rating: Hamilton A- Thompson C-. Round two to Billy.
Third cut, TB fielding runs (TB7): Hamilton –6 Thompson +52. Round three to Sam.
Fourth cut, raw numbers (and I can tell you that the following analysis is not going to go to Billy; that doesn’t mean it goes to Sam, BTW; but no way does it go to Billy). (I will apologize right now because I have no confidence that the following numbers will line up very well and they will probably be hard to read, but very much worth the effort.)

G-PO-A-E-DP-F%-lg%-range-lgrange-G LF-CF-RF
Hamilton 1584 3444 182 288 55 .926 .923 2.29 2.03 434 986 164
Thompson 1406 2165 283 171 61 .935 .909 1.74 1.97 3 2 1401

Hamilton’s extra PO translate into a vastly better range vs. Thompson and, more to the point, vs. the league. Or so it seems. However, I assume because Hamilton’s lgrange = 2.03 and Thompson’s = 1.97 that these lgrange numbers are undifferentiated by position. How much of Billy’s "better" range is purely a function of his position in the center?

The fact is that Hamilton played a year in RF and three in LF before moving over to CF, and his range factor in RF (granted, one season, a small sample, Hamilton's annual numbers are at the end of this post) was worse than Sam’s. His CF that year (1889, below) was the immortal Jim Burns, who played 78% of his ML career that year. His range (2.49) in CF was better than Billy’s career OF average and better than three of Billy’s six 100 G years in CF. His F% is about the same as Billy’s for the first eight years of his career. He (Burns) had an A about every 12.5 games which is better than two of Billy’s six 100 G years in CF and equal to another.

G-PO-A-E-DP-F%-lg%-range-lgrange-G LF-CF-RF
Burns 1889 KCCAA OF 134 323 11 32 4 .913 .903 2.49 1.96 0 134 0

In 1890 Philadelphia used Eddie Burke in CF, then traded him for Billy Sunday. Sunday spent the final quarter-season of his career between Hamilton and Thompson. He was by now a washed up 28 year-old who had actually never been a "career CF"--he played more games in RF than CF for his career. Ed Delahanty joined the Philadelphia lineup in 1891--as the CF--where he continued to play in 1892. His range, frankly, was not very good, though just as good as Billy’s for two of his six years in CF. But on the other hand, note that Delahanty got an A every 4.5 and 5 games during these two years, more than twice what Billy would average for his career and more than Billy would ever achieve in any single season in CF. Here are Delahanty’s numbers:

G-PO-A-E-DP-F%-lg%-range-lgrange-G LF-CF-RF
1891 23 PHI NL OF 99 199 22 22 3 .909 .912 2.23 1.88 2 95 2
1892 24 PHI NL OF 121 261 25 17 6 .944 .912 2.36 1.86 1 120 0

So why if Billy Hamilton is an A- OF, "likely" better than Sam Thompson, why did it take five years for his management to decide that he was better than Eddie Burke, Billy Sunday or Ed Delahanty? Or that even when Delahanty rested (note only 220 games out of a possible 290 in ‘91-’92, he was by no means a hitting star just yet) that even then some other guy would fill in in CF, not Hamilton?

And why does TB7 have Sam better by 58 FR? Why did Sam get more than one A every 5 games and Billy less than one every 8? OK that's a function of opportunity which is a function of position. But so are Billy's superior range numbers.

In sum, this analysis does not make Sam Thompson a great OF, but it even more clearly does not suggest Hamilton as a great OF. I think the correct interpretation is that they suggest that Hamilton was "possibly" rather than "likely" a better defender than Sam Thompson.

And BTW, I consider myself to be a FOBH, though I have not figured out where he goes on my ballot. I think both he and Sam Thompson are no-brainers for a large hall.

Hamilton
1888 22 KCC AA OF 35 45 4 2 0 .961 .907 1.40 1.79 3 0 32
1889 23 KCC AA OF 137 202 20 37 6 .857 .903 1.62 1.96 7 0 130
1890 24 PHI NL OF 123 232 23 34 4 .882 .914 2.07 1.89 123 0 0
1891 25 PHI NL OF 133 287 17 31 7 .907 .912 2.29 1.88 133 0 0
1892 26 PHI NL OF 139 291 26 28 7 .919 .912 2.28 1.86 138 1 0
1893 27 PHI NL OF 82 228 8 16 6 .937 .915 2.88 2.14 19 63 0
1894 28 PHI NL OF 129 361 15 14 4 .964 .915 2.91 2.24 0 129 0
1895 29 PHI NL OF 123 313 11 31 5 .913 .917 2.63 2.14 3 120 0
1896 30 BSN NL OF 131 276 8 20 2 .934 .933 2.17 2.12 6 125 0
1897 31 BSN NL OF 126 296 10 12 0 .962 .935 2.43 2.06 0 126 0
1898 32 BSN NL OF 110 189 8 21 2 .904 .937 1.79 2.03 0 110 0
1899 33 BSN NL OF 81 166 11 9 2 .952 .944 2.19 2.11 2 78 1
1900 34 BSN NL OF 136 326 14 19 6 .947 .940 2.50 2.13 0 136 0
1901 35 BSN NL OF 99 232 7 14 4 .945 .942 2.41 2.03 0 98 1

Posted 2:42 p.m., August 7, 2003 (#208) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
Since the Billy Hamilton/Sam Thompson defense argument is in two places, I'll post my response in two places :-)

"And why does TB7 have Sam better by 58 FR?"

Who cares? Fielding Runs are absolutely useless. I don't mean to be harsh, but they are. They mean nothing, and shouldn't even be considered. They aren't, just another side to the argument. They are clearly and 100% the wrong side of the argument.

To use Diamond-Mind ratings as a perspective (there are none for this era), but based on what we've seen above Thompson was probably a 'Fair' to 'Average' RF, while Hamilton was an 'average' CF with a 'poor' to 'fair' arm. Prospectus would said Thompson was an 'average' to 'very good' RF, and Hamilton a 'fair' CF. Win Shares would say Hamiton was a 'very good' to 'excellent' CF, and Thompson a 'fair' to 'average' RF. I'll take their 'guess' over fielding runs any day.

But the 'fair' CF is still much more valuable defensively than the 'very good' RF, because he allows a better bat into the lineup at the position he can't play.

Taking X quality offensive player with Hamilton's defense in CF and an average or replacement level RF you are better off than if you take the same quality offensive hitter with Thompson's defense in RF and an average or replacement level CF.

In the 19th Century, RF was the worst defensive position on the field. Replacement level offense studies show this, you'll also see if if you look at the chances for RF vs. LF. Robert Dudek did some work awhile back that showed RF offensive replacement level in the 19th Century being higher than DH is today.

I think that's because pitchers didn't throw as hard, and since most batters were RH, they pulled everything. But being an average RF is nowhere near being as valuable as a somewhat below average CF, both from the perspective of defensive contribution and offensive replacement level at the position.

Just the fact that Hamilton could play CF, allowed a good hitting RF (Thompson) into the lineup. Thompson did not provide his teams with the same benefit, but fortunately, they had Hamilton playing CF.

But if Thompson had played for someone else, they would have had to have put another CF into the lineup, and he would not have been as a good a hitter as the typical RF they could have found. That's a big advantage for Hamilton.

Hamilton deserves a major positional advantage over Thompson, in my opinion.

As to the argument that it took 5 years for Hamilton to move to CF, so what? He moved there. There are lots of times where a manager doesn't want to alienate a veteran player and he waits for the veteran to lose his skills before moving him. Bernie Williams shouldn't be in CF for the Yankees, but he's still there. We should just look at what players did. Hamilton played LF for a few years and CF the rest of the time, we shouldn't try to read anything into that.
   175. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2009 at 12:18 AM (#3061002)
This thread is fully restored now.
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