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Monday, September 01, 2003

1909 Ballot Discussion

Time to get started with the discussion, as one of the top classes we’ll see joins the ballot. Ed Delahanty, Frank Grant, Jimmy Ryan, George Van Haltren, Herman Long, John McGraw, Tom Daly and Chief Zimmer join the ballot. The next few elections will be very interesting as we now are knee-deep in another generation of viable candidates.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 01, 2003 at 05:52 PM | 159 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. OCF Posted: September 01, 2003 at 06:14 PM (#517232)
There was a chain of comments on the "1907 Ballot" thread: #52 by Mark McKinniss, #63 by me, and #65 by redsox1912. The subject was the extent to which Sam Thompson's RBI's reflect his RBI opportunities.

A partial quote from redsox1912:

In 1895, 7 NL teams batted .290 or better. Two teams besides Philadelphia batted over .300. All the cleanup men were playing in ?a very rich environment of RBI opportunities.?

I saved my reply to this until now, becaue now is when it fits:

Yes, there were other teams with good offenses. But there was only one Ed Delahanty.

---

For what it's worth, in the NBJHBA, James says that the best outfield (by Win Shares) of the 1890's wasn't one of the mid-90's Phillie outfields with Delahanty, Hamilton, and Thompson, but rather the 1899 Phillie outfield of Delahanty, Roy Thomas, and Elmer Flick.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: September 01, 2003 at 06:56 PM (#517233)
Career votes points leaders
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: September 01, 2003 at 07:40 PM (#517234)
More HOM nuggets sure to be a hit at your next cocktail party (or maybe not)::

Top 8 non-electees all moved up one spot this year with Sutton reaching the promised land; Jennings becomes 9th runnerup, Childs stays 10th... McPhee has been second or third runnerup all four years he's been eligible... Galvin among top four runnersup last four years... Start among top 10 non-electees all 11 years; Stovey and Bennett the same for all 10 of their chances.... A dozen players still on the ballot have gotten votes in every election.... Caruthers has finished ahead of every pitcher still on the ballot except Galvin in all 10 of his chances.

Sutton is the sixth member of the "1871 playing year" class to reach the HOM......... He's only the 4th HOMer not to have played at least five seasons with a fellow HOMer (had only three seasons with several). Glasscock, Rusie, and Hamilton are in the same boat, for now....... O'Rourke played at least five seasons with eight different HOMers.... Eleven teams have played a season with at least five HOMers, headed by the 1887-89 New York Giants and the 1891 Giants with six apiece. The "five-HOMer" teams include the 1885-86 Giants and the 1890 NY Player's League Giants. The others are the 1873-75 NA Boston and 1876 NL Chicago teams headed by Spalding-White-Barnes..... Players with the most years as teammates are Connor-Keefe and Connor-Ewing, each with 10 (not exact same seasons), and Brouthers-Richardson also with 10..
   4. Marc Posted: September 01, 2003 at 09:58 PM (#517235)
Someone asked on the 1908 discussion for WS numbers for upcoming eligibles. Here is my response repeated in a more appropriate context.

WS 3 yr 5 yr /162 Defense Grade

Ryan (#26) 316 34-28-25/129 25.44 B+
   5. Marc Posted: September 01, 2003 at 10:12 PM (#517236)
For each year, my consideration set is the top 25 peaks (adjWS) and any other player in the top 15 in last year's voting. This year's consideration set is as follows. (The number after the name is the number of "mentions" among the top peaks--a player can earn up to 2 mentions per year, one for 3 year peak and one for 5 year peak. An asterisk is a player whose peak was before 1878 and therefore is NOT based on WS. Oh, I have not yet rank-ordered the peaks nor of course the careers, not knowing who the 25 are.)

C- Bennett (3 mentions among "top peaks")
   6. Marc Posted: September 01, 2003 at 10:14 PM (#517237)
Oh, I will also be trying to figure out what to do with Frank Grant. If he was truly comp. to Fred Dunlap, I have to note that Fred has not been on my ballot for about 6-8 years now. So please "Help!," anybody who thinks they know about Frank Grant.
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 01, 2003 at 11:01 PM (#517238)
Ryan (more than VH?) could crack the top of the ballot.

I have Ryan slightly (and I mean slightly) ahead of Duffy.

I'm surprised that you don't have McGraw on your peak list. His WS per 162 games is extraordinary for his time (especially for a key defensive positions). I like him better than Jennings overall (and Hughie is no slouch himself) and will make the bottom of my ballot.

This ballot is going to be a pain in the butt to fill out.

1B- McVey (1 and *), Start*

Doesn't McVey have more value at catcher? It's close, so it is arguable.
   8. Chris Cobb Posted: September 02, 2003 at 12:05 AM (#517239)
I'm surprised that you don't have McGraw on your peak list. His WS per 162 games is extraordinary for his time (especially for a key defensive positions).

The problem with McGraw for the kind of ranking Marc uses (and for the one that I use, too), is that McGraw missed so much playing time. His season-by-season win share totals seldom reach the level suggested by his WS rate (and his other rate stats). I've tended to see value on a per season basis as a truer reflection of a player's merit than rate stats, but I'm open to hearing the contrary case. McGraw seems like an appropriate subject for discussin this issue.

Oh, I will also be trying to figure out what to do with Frank Grant. If he was truly comp. to Fred Dunlap, I have to note that Fred has not been on my ballot for about 6-8 years now. So please "Help!," anybody who thinks they know about Frank Grant.

Well, I'm sure there are folks out there more knowledgeable than I about Frank Grant. But as far as the Dunlap comparison goes, I don't think that's something to take as an exact measure. Here's what I know at present. One -- Grant's professional career was much longer than Dunlap's, more in line with Bid McPhee's. His career as I know it began in the International League in 1886, and he retired in 1903. Two -- Grant was probably the best player in the IL in 1887. He hit .366 to lead the league and also led the league in home runs, while playing what was reported to be a good defensive second base. He played in the IL in '88 as well before being forced out. His play in '87 lends credibility to the reports that have been mentioned by others from the Buffalo papers (he was in Buffalo that year) that he was the best all-round player the city had seen. After the IL he played for the New York Cuban Giants, a barnstorming Negro team. I haven't been able to find anything substantive about them on the web. Book sources I'm sure will have more, and I look forward to learning it.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 12:12 AM (#517240)
Prelim:

1) Bid McPhee (2)

2) Ed Delahanty (n/a)

3) Cal McVey (4)

4) Dickey Pearce (5)

5) Cupid Childs (6)

6) Joe Start (7)

7) Pud Galvin (7)

8) Harry Wright (8)

9) Charlie Bennett (9)

10) Chief Zimmer (n/a)

11) Billy Nash (10)

12) John McGraw (n/a)

13) Jack Clement (11)

14) Frank Grant (n/a)

15) Jimmy Ryan (n/a)

I'm satisfied with my top ten, but I'm confused with the other 33%. I thought I would have Grant higher, but I'm going to be conservative with him for now. Still working on it...
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 04:36 AM (#517241)
The problem with McGraw for the kind of ranking Marc uses (and for the one that I use, too), is that McGraw missed so much playing time. His season-by-season win share totals seldom reach the level suggested by his WS rate (and his other rate stats). I've tended to see value on a per season basis as a truer reflection of a player's merit than rate stats, but I'm open to hearing the contrary case. McGraw seems like an appropriate subject for discussin this issue.

I tend to treat the quality rate stats (such as WS per 162 Games) on an equal basis with the quantity counter stats (such as WS totals). A player who has 30 WS and 30 WS per 162 games is equal in my eyes with another player who has only 25 WS, but 36 WS per 162 games. To me, they both have the same value for their teams. Is this the correct way to go? Hey, it works for me! :-)

While McGraw didn't play that much, when he did, he was amazing.
   11. favre Posted: September 02, 2003 at 04:54 AM (#517242)
This is what I've seen so far to support Frank Grant's candidacy to the HoM,

1. Sol White suggested that Grant was perhaps the best African-American player of the era and would easily have been a star if he been allowed to play in the NL or AA. White was contemporary of Grant--indeed, I think I read somewhere that perhaps White deserved the title of best African-American player. There seems to be a consensus among knowledgable baseball people that agrees with White's assessment.

2. We do have some of Grant's stats from the International Assosciation. Robert Peterson tells us that in 1886 he batted .325 in 33 games for Meriden and .340 in 45 games for Buffalo, best on the club and third-best in the league. In 1887 he hit .366, witn 27 doubles, 10 triples, and eleven home runs in 105 games. Peterson points out, however, "if Grant's batting average and base-stealing record seem of superstar quality", that the IA league leader hit .422 and stole 112 bases. In 1888 he played the outfield, leading Buffalo with a .326 avg. in 95 games. He was also 2nd on the club in doubles (19), third in triples (6), second in homers (11), and second in stolen bases (26).

3. According to BASEBALL:THE BIOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, one Buffalo writer said that he was the best player the city had ever seen--including Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Jim O'Rourke, and Hoss Radbourn. I'd love to know the writer is...

4. He had a long career (1886-1903).

5. The probability argument, which someone mentioned on the '08 ballot thread. Given that African-Americans were involved in professional baseball by at least the 1880s, and were forming barnstorming teams by the 1890s, it seems logical that at least one African-American player from that era would be worthy of the HoM.

I'm not claiming this exhausts the evidence; this is just what I know. In fact, I would really like to see more, because what I see doesn't convince me that Grant is an HoM'r.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 05:50 AM (#517243)
The one thing that bugs me about Frank Grant is this line from The Biographical Encyclopedia: "Most astute baseball observers felt he could have played in the major leagues if he had been provided the opportunity."

Did observers state during their playing careers that Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige or Oscar Charleston could have been able to just play in the majors? Grant's contemporaries didn't sound to convinced that he was a great player from my reading.

What do you guys think?
   13. Jeff M Posted: September 02, 2003 at 01:33 PM (#517245)
John Murphy wrote: "The one thing that bugs me about Frank Grant is this line from The Biographical Encyclopedia: "Most astute baseball observers felt he could have played in the major leagues if he had been provided the opportunity."

Did observers state during their playing careers that Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige or Oscar Charleston could have been able to just play in the majors? Grant's contemporaries didn't sound to convinced that he was a great player from my reading."

John, I came to work this morning intending to post the exact same message. I agree with you totally. That sentence is loaded with information: "Most" observers; "astute" observers; "could have played". Doesn't sound like he would have dominated the position in the majors.

Compare what the Biographical Encyclopedia says about Bill Monroe, a Negro League 2b who will become eligible in another 15 "years" or so. There's quite a contrast in the accolades provided to Monroe when compared to what I consider a fairly vanilla description of Grant.

I think the comparisons to Dunlap are based more on defense than offense, but I'm willing to assume (as I believe John Murphy has said before) that Grant was a little bit better. I have never had Dunlap on my ballot (he was about #17 on my rankings for the first election).

I'll have to rely on others regarding credit for the International League play, but his career in the Negro Leagues was short and this era of Negro League play is not particularly well documented. Sol White is a good source of Negro League history, but he always seems to be in the camp that says "He would have been a major league all-star" about every player about whom he is asked. Not quite as bad as Buck O'Neill, but not entirely dissimilar.

Over the past couple of years, I've tallied how many times Negro League players have been named on "all-time" teams. My tallies cover about 75 different lists, which have been compiled by newspaper writers, players and historians. Grant only has one tally as the best 2b. I suspect that this is partially because the historical interest in the Negro Leagues didn't pick up for at least another 20 years after he was done, so I'm not presenting this as definitive evidence of anything. I just think it is interesting.

I'm going to have him on the ballot at about #13 and expect him to slide as other candidates become eligible. I do, however, anticipate Bill Monroe being very high on my ballot when the time comes (1920 election, I think).
   14. Rusty Priske Posted: September 02, 2003 at 01:55 PM (#517246)
This is very early. This is the most new players I have ever had in my ballot, since the year I joined (1900). Delahanty will likely move up from here while Van Haltren could be moving down.

1. Pud Galvin (2)
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 03:06 PM (#517247)
I do, however, anticipate Bill Monroe being very high on my ballot when the time comes (1920 election, I think).

I like Monroe, too. Easy top ten guy without going into the "math."

BTW, this sentence should have read: Grant's contemporaries didn't sound too convinced that he was a great player from my reading.
   16. OCF Posted: September 02, 2003 at 03:33 PM (#517248)
Looking at the McGraw case: His offensive rate stats are superb. Since the headline of his offense is OBP, if you calculate those rate stats on a per out basis, they look spectacular. But there's a problem with his time played. To get a sense of it, let's compare McGraw to some durable player. Just to have someone to look at, I picked Joe Kelley (usually McGraw's teammate). A large fraction of McGraw's value fell into the 7 year period from 1893 through 1899. In those 7 years, McGraw played in 736 games and had 3460 PA. In the same 7 years, Kelley played in 914 games and had 4193 PA. Quite a bit of the difference is the fact that McGraw missed most of the 1896 season. If we leave 1896 out of it, in the other 6 years of that span, Kelley still played in 70 more games and had 196 more PA than McGraw.

I don't know why (probably it's the Cardinal fan in me), but I thought of the 1987 NL MVP vote. OK, we all know that the writers' choice, Andre Dawson, was a mistake. But who should have been picked? Jack Clark led the league in both OBP and SLG, so of course in OPS and in OPS+ by 14 points, 176 to 162. Yeah, he was just a first baseman (and not very good defensively even there), but that's a lot of offense - in rate terms. However, Clark missed most of the month of September. Do you count that against him? You have to - you don't have any other choice than to say that September mattered. (If you're curious, my opinion in 1987 was that Tony Gwynn should have been the MVP, and I haven't taken the trouble to reinvestigate it since.)

As much as we like McGraw's rate stats, we have to hold his missing time against him (even if the Orioles did find a competent replacement 3B in 1896).
   17. Chris Cobb Posted: September 02, 2003 at 03:46 PM (#517249)
A couple of questions:

John, I can see arguments for bringing Chief Zimmer onto the ballot, but any argument I can construct for that also entails putting Charlie Bennett near the top of the ballot. How do you see the two of them as being very similar in value and both ballotworthy?

Andrew, you say Van Haltren is overrated by WS. How much do you see him being overrated? What's the evidence for trusting WARP (if that's what you're comparing WS to) in Van Haltren's case? I agree that he's overrated by WS, but I see that mostly in his pitching early in his career.
   18. Jeff M Posted: September 02, 2003 at 04:54 PM (#517251)
Jason Koral wrote: "Basically he [Grant] suffers from less effusive praise from Bio Encylopedia b/c there is less data on him. But the data that does exist suggests he was a very good player."

I agree that he was very good, otherwise he wouldn't be #13 on my ballot. But I think we need to keep him in perspective.
   19. Marc Posted: September 02, 2003 at 06:07 PM (#517253)
Here is how I see Peak Value among eligible players, based mostly but not entirely on WS, including 3 year peak, 5 year peak (both consecutive) and how many years he maintained that peak (e.g. Delahanty gets credit for 8 years, several players 0 years who are on this list because they finished in last year's top 15 voting for HoM).

This is PEAK only, next I will rank careers and them combine.

1. Cal McVey
   20. Marc Posted: September 02, 2003 at 06:09 PM (#517254)
PS. All of the above are on adjWS--adj for season length, league strength (not timeline) and fielding bonus/pitching discount pre-'93.

McPhee's is not the 30th best peak among eligible players, either, BTW. It is 30th among my consideration set of 30 players.
   21. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 06:29 PM (#517255)
John, I can see arguments for bringing Chief Zimmer onto the ballot, but any argument I can construct for that also entails putting Charlie Bennett near the top of the ballot. How do you see the two of them as being very similar in value and both ballotworthy?

Reasonable question, Chris.

1) It's not as close as it appears. Bennett is comfortably ahead of the Chief.

2) Zimmer played his peak years during the most competitive era of the 19th century.

3) While Zimmer's peak is not as good as Bennett, his career length was better (even when you extrapolate Bennett's numbers), so that makes the differences between the two smaller.

Of any position, adjWS overstates the value of catchers the most. Looking at Deacon White's* adjWS, he would give the impression that he would play massive amounts of games within a 162 game schedule. He wouldn't. To a somewhat lesser extent, Bennett appears to be more of an ironman behind the plate then he really was with adjWS. Zimmer's adjWS are the closest to being accurate.

4) This ballot is driving me crazy. I might have it changed four times before next Monday. :-)

* not to be construed as a knock on White - without a doubt, a HoMer
   22. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 06:49 PM (#517256)
,i> Just to have someone to look at, I picked Joe Kelley (usually McGraw's teammate). A large fraction of McGraw's value fell into the 7 year period from 1893 through 1899. In those 7 years, McGraw played in 736 games and had 3460 PA. In the same 7 years, Kelley played in 914 games and had 4193 PA. Quite a bit of the difference is the fact that McGraw missed most of the 1896 season. If we leave 1896 out of it, in the other 6 years of that span, Kelley still played in 70 more games and had 196 more PA than McGraw.</i>

On average, the outfielder will always play more games than the third baseman because the outfield is easier on the body than at the hot corner. When taking into account their respective positions, there is not too much difference between the games played by both men during that period.
   23. Marc Posted: September 02, 2003 at 08:07 PM (#517257)
Re. McGraw, I will take another, closer look at his peak, but right now he is not among the top 25 eligible peaks. The point of emphasizing peak value is its contributions toward a pennant, which occurs not over a career nor on a per game basis but during the course of a season. If a player plays half his team games and earns 20 WS, sure that's a great rate, but it contributes no more toward that pennant than the player who earns 20 WS playing every day.

And I never understood the point of awarding player A the WS that player B earns in his stead. Player B earned those.
   24. Chris Cobb Posted: September 02, 2003 at 08:12 PM (#517258)
On average, the outfielder will always play more games than the third baseman because the outfield is easier on the body than at the hot corner. When taking into account their respective positions, there is not too much difference between the games played by both men during that period.

Could anyone easily get hard numbers on this subject? What I'd like to see, and maybe would find the time to calculate myself, is something like average games by starters at each fielding position over five-year periods. I've got some sense of the difference between the number of games catchers could play in a given year and the number of games played by starters at other positions pre-1900, but I don't have a good sense of the degree of difference between infield and outfield. I know there is some difference, but not how much.
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 08:12 PM (#517259)
If a player plays half his team games and earns 20 WS, sure that's a great rate, but it contributes no more toward that pennant than the player who earns 20 WS playing every day.

How? The former is contributing much more per game (while doing it in half the games) than the latter. The former is clearly the better player by far. This shouldn't be arguable.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 02, 2003 at 08:17 PM (#517260)
And I never understood the point of awarding player A the WS that player B earns in his stead.

Me, too. Who was arguing that?
   27. Daryn Posted: September 02, 2003 at 08:33 PM (#517261)
About the quote on Grant. If you take it literally, John is right: it suggests that Grant might've been good enough to play regularly in the major leagues. But since you are all convinced he is one of the top 15 players eligible, it is clear that the stats show he was at least a very good major league equivalent player -- at least a 4 time all star to use a modern equivalent. Therefore, that says to me that the quote should not be taken literally and was not meant to be preceived as an indictment of grant 100 years after it was written. I think you have to disregard it. A lurker's two cents.
   28. Marc Posted: September 03, 2003 at 12:49 AM (#517263)
>>If a player plays half his team games and earns 20 WS, sure that's a great rate, but it contributes no more toward that pennant than the player who earns 20 WS playing every day.

>How? The former is contributing much more per game (while doing it in half the games) than the latter. The former is clearly the better player by far. This shouldn't be arguable.

What is your meaning of "better"? The two had the same value to divide by one pennant.

>>And I never understood the point of awarding player A the WS that player B earns in his stead.

>Me, too. Who was arguing that?

One meaning of "better" that has been posited here is exactly your arguement--that Player A is better despite the 20/20 equivalence of WS because Player A earns the 20 in fewer games and then the team has at least replacement value for the other games (as if this somehow accrues to the individual).

If this is not what you mean by "better," then how is Player A better in the context of one pennant because the same number of WS are distributed over fewer games. Maybe you mean Player A has more "tools" but not more "value." Explain to me that the rate at which the WS are earned makes them "more valuable," i.e. "better" relative to one pennant.
   29. Marc Posted: September 03, 2003 at 01:38 AM (#517264)
If this is not what you mean by "better," then how is Player A better in the context of one pennant because the same number of WS are distributed over fewer games. Maybe you mean Player A has more "tools" but not more "value." Explain to me that the rate at which the WS are earned makes them "more valuable," i.e. "better" relative to one pennant.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm just starting to work rate stats into my thinking, but wouldn't the answer to Marc's question be that the player player who earns 20 WS playing in 80 games has used up fewer games, and fewer outs, in creating the wins than a player who earns 20 WS playing in 120 games? Therefore, other players have the opportunity to create more wins. You can't credit the player who misses 40 games with the win shares earned by the players who replaced him, because that's not in the control of the player who misses a game. You can say that the player who has missed games is a better player than the player who didn't miss those 40 games but who earned the same 20 win shares: the durable player used up, say, 120 outs that the injured player didn't, while not contributing any more to his team's efforts to win the pennant.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM (#517267)
Marc:

What Chris and Jason said. :-)
   31. MattB Posted: September 03, 2003 at 04:36 AM (#517268)
Some meat on the bones for Frank Grant. Of course, we will not have the complete picture, but we can interpolate reasonably. . .

Career length: 1886-1903, 18 years, longer than any of the newly eligible players

Year by year, from the beginning:

1886 (age 18): Started with Meridien of the Eastern League. Hit .316 in 177 at bats. Jumped to Buffalo in the International League. Hit .344 in 177 at bats. The league leader (Jon Morrison) his .346. Morrison was 26, and had a short, bad major league career.

1887 (age 19): Full season with Buffalo. Hit .353 in 459 at bats, with 87 runs, 162 hits, 26 doubles, 10 triples, and 11 homers. The 11 homers led the league. The league leader (Ed Crane) hit .428, but he was 25 and had a poor major league career in the years on either side of his IL stint.

1888 (age 20): Full season with Buffalo. Hit .346 in 347 at bats. The league leader (Patsy Donovan) hit .359. Donovan, a year older than Grant, would hit .301 in his major league career and earn 200 win shares.

Note on quality of the International League: In 1890, four IL teams joined the ?majors.? Buffalo went to the Players? League and Syracuse, Toledo and Rochester went to the AA. Buffalo finished in last, bu the AA teams were competitive, finishing collectively at around .500. I think it is reasonable to consider IL play comparable to average AA level play in one of the AA?s low year. Consider that against comparable competition, newly eligible Jack Ryan was hitting .217 in 1890 against AA teams at age 21. Bid McPhee was hitting .228 against the weak AA as a 22 year old in 1882. Compare the quality of Grant?s play to any other 18-20 year old, and see if there is anything close to comparable short of Cap Anson. Hardly anyone breaks .300 before age 24, let alone age 20. The ones who do are stars.

1889 (age 21): No more black players in the IL. Grant goes to the Trenton Cuban Giants in the Middle States League. Hits .313 leading the Giants to a 55-17 record, but those 17 included some forfeits for playing with a non-regulation ball. The forfeits dropped Trenton into second place belong Harrisburg, a ?white team?.

1890 (age 22): Perhaps considering their pennant to close a call in 1889, Harrisburg signs Grant to play for their white team. He hits .333 in 439 at bats, with 99 runs, 146 hits, 29 doubles, 8 triples, and 5 homers.

1891 - 1901 (age 23-33): Unfortunately, the big gap in the historical record is right in the middle of his career, so we have to interpolate a lot. Sol White, a great early black player and manager, considered Frank Grant the best black ballplayer of his time. In 1891, Grant joined the independent NY Big Gorhams and the Cuban Giants. He went 5 for 13 in the Connecticut League before the league folded. Many black teams folded and re-formed in the mid-1890's due to general economic conditions, which were bad. General, he continued to play for the Cuban Giants in the years and parts of years that they existed until 1897, alternating between second base and shortstop. In 1898 and 1899 he switched to the Cuban X-Giants, and in 1900 and 1901 played 2B for the Genuine Cuban Giants. Each of these teams were considered to be among the top two or three black teams in the years that Grant played with them.

1902 (age 34): In 1902, Sol White (who was black) and Walter Schlichter (who was white) put together a team of the great black ballplayers of the time. Frank Grant was one of the Philadelphia Giants? first pick-ups. No individual stats are available, but the team itself went 81-43-2 in its first year. The team them challenged the AL champion Philadelphia A?s, but lost to them 8-3 and 12-9. A respectable showing against some of the best major league baseball players.

1903 (age 35): The Philadelphia Giants improve to 89-37-4. Both the Giants and X-Giants claim the pennant and a play-off is played. The X-Giants beat Grant and company 5 games to 2. Grant is a disappointing 6 for 27 (.222) in the contest and hangs up the shin guards after the series, not knowing that the next year the Giants would pick up star pitcher Rube Foster and coast to the next four (and 5 of the next six) championships.

Conclusions:

1. Regular player from ages 18 to 35, always in the highest league available for play. That?s equal to Bid McPhee, 4 years longer than Hardy Richardson, and 7 longer than Fred Dunlap.

2. Hit over .300 right out of the box consistently in a league that was better in relative terms to AAA today, at least comparable to the lower half of the AA then. This is a feat not matched by any but the best.

3. Had a reputation for his defense.

4. But what about the missing years where we have very few numbers, and only qualitative second hand sources that he was the best or among the best? To the naysayers, a challenge: Name one major league player who (1) played an important defensive position; (2) had a MLE of at least .280 each year between ages 18-20, or even ages 20 and 22 [that?s his lowest average ? 1886 composite ? discounted 15% for International League league quality]; (3) did not flame out, so was still playing in his mid-30's (say, a career of 15+ years); and (4) is not a top-tier HoM candidate.

5. Try to find a comp that fits his curve, recognizing that IL numbers are real, major league transferable numbers. The worst players who come anywhere close at all are Dick Bartell and Tony Fernandez (about 100 WARP each). The best I could find are Arky Vaughn and Frankie Frisch (about 130 WARP each). All four are HoMers in my book, and I don?t think I am required to assume ? given the extrinsic evidence ? that Grant followed the worst possible career path. Among contemporaries, Glasscock and McPhee are the only reasonable equivalents for longevity, and the numbers available offensively are better for Grant.

In case there was doubt, my 1909 ballot will begin:

1. Ed Delahanty

2. Frank Grant . . .
   32. Howie Menckel Posted: September 03, 2003 at 12:02 PM (#517269)
I think it's fair to put Grant somewhere in the 2B matrix, with Richardson in, McPhee close, down to Dunlap getting votes but not close. I can't picture having him any lower than that, and he'll be somewhere on my ballot..
   33. MattB Posted: September 03, 2003 at 12:45 PM (#517271)
I wrote:

"Donovan, a year older than Grant, would hit .301 in his major league career and earn 200 win shares."

Sorry, that should be "Donovan, _4_YEARS_ older than Grant . . ." That makes a difference!
   34. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: September 03, 2003 at 06:15 PM (#517272)
I'm thinking about Frank Grant's candidacy right now and I'm pretty sure I will have him in my top ten. This is my (extremely provisional) top ten sans Grant:

1. Ed Delahanty
   35. Marc Posted: September 03, 2003 at 06:24 PM (#517273)
>Posted 12:00 a.m., September 3, 2003 (#36) - John Murphy
   36. Chris Cobb Posted: September 03, 2003 at 06:55 PM (#517274)
Who was "better"? Apparently you say Mantle?

Before I'd decide in this particular case, I'd want to consider Mays' military service and the greater strength of the NL in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But I can't say that I have an answer that I'm comfortable with in the general case, either. I can say right now that I plan to use rate as a tie-breaker between two players who are otherwise of nearly equal value. I can't say that I'm comfortable using rate to rank player B ahead of player A when player A is ahead of player B on the basis of a combination of peak and career value. I'd like to hear more arguments on both sides.
   37. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2003 at 07:02 PM (#517275)
Who was "better"? Apparently you say Mantle?

No. Mays would be still be first. Mays' sum total (642x34.76=22.315 pts) is greater than Mantle's (565x38.12=21,538 pts). The difference between their WS rate is smaller than the difference between their career WS.

There is more to my analysis, BTW, than just WSxWS per 162 games. It's the core of a much more complex system, though.
   38. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2003 at 07:06 PM (#517276)
Re: Mays and Mantle

I don't want anyone to think that my last post was a definitive answer for both of those players. I haven't done a full analysis of both players. I just wanted to illustrate one aspect of it to Marc.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2003 at 07:14 PM (#517277)
Peak is a little more complicated because I have to compare each player to his contemporaries.
   40. OCF Posted: September 03, 2003 at 11:47 PM (#517278)
Who's better, Mays or Mantle? It's not like either one is a marginal case for the HoM, so let's try another version of the question. Who's better, Charlie Keller or Dave Winfield? And yes, Charlie Keller had more games played in his career than John McGraw, and had a 152 career OPS+.
   41. Jeff M Posted: September 04, 2003 at 12:10 AM (#517279)
MattB wrote: "In case there was doubt, my 1909 ballot will begin:

1. Ed Delahanty

2. Frank Grant . . . "

I was actually surprised (i.e., I doubted) because when I read your very informative post, I concluded that I had Grant about right at #13. But everyone is different.

I certainly cannot conclude that Grant was better than McPhee. If he was Dunlap's equivalent on defense, he still isn't as good as McPhee on defense. And I'm not sure a .280 batting average convinces me otherwise.

I also think a 15% discount for the International League is very generous to the International League, since it makes the IL better than half of the AA years. Shouldn't we also be applying a healthy discount to the Negro Leagues of the time? They suffer from some watered down competition (regional, not tremendously organized league with regular schedule, etc.) not unlike pre-1871 baseball, but more pronounced in my opinion.

I'm not a Grant naysayer. I just think he was a very good ballplayer who falls short of HOMer status. That's not an insult.
   42. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:34 AM (#517281)
I'm not going to discount Grant's stats in the minor leagues. Yes, the leagues that he played in weren't the top competition around, but these were the best possible leagues he was allowed to play in. Just as I don't dock the stars of the National Association for their league, I won't dock Grant for his. For me, Grant' 18-year career as a top-five or top-ten player in the International League and other leagues is equivalent to an 18-year career of similar stature in the National League. He couldn't control the color of his skin or the institutionalized racism of America, so why penalize him for that?
   43. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:40 AM (#517282)
The information about Grant being a top player in the International League (if not the top player) so early on in his career is nothing to sniff at. The International League had a reputation as the best minor league around, so supremacy at that level is something to take notice about.
   44. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:45 AM (#517283)
Another note about that 1887 season: Grant was born in 1868, meaning that he was the best player in the International League when he was 19 years old.
   45. Chris Cobb Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:56 AM (#517284)
Jeff wrote: I certainly cannot conclude that Grant was better than McPhee. If he was Dunlap's equivalent on defense, he still isn't as good as McPhee on defense. And I'm not sure a .280 batting average convinces me otherwise.

What's your evidence for concluding that Grant was called "the black Fred Dunlap" because he was Dunlap's equivalent on defense? All I know is the phrase, so if there's more to the comparison, I'd like to know it. If there isn't more to the comparison, then I think you're reading too much into it.

As far as offense goes, if Grant was a .280 hitter with good power at age 19, isn't that a pretty good indicator that he was a better hitter than McPhee, who never hit with power and who was better than a .280 hitter only in the high-octane 1890s? Dunlap was, for his career, a .280 hitter with good power.

Without knowing more about the league contexts, it's risky to compare raw numbers, but it looks to me like Grant is a similar player to Dunlap in terms of ability, but with a longer career.

I also think a 15% discount for the International League is very generous to the International League, since it makes the IL better than half of the AA years.

According the numbers I have on the AA discounts, only in 1882 and 1883 was the AA discount above, relative to the NL in the same year. From 1884 to 1891, it ranges between 15% and 6%. Still, I think that 15% may be a little low -- I'm looking at 20%, I think, equivalent to the early AA , but better than the UA. With a steeper discount, Grant still looks like a better-than-average major league second basemen at age 18-20 to me. I agree with MattB that his level of performance at an early age projects very well.

Mark wrote: I guess the philosophical question pertaining to Negro Leaguers is do you compare them to their white contemporaries, or to their banned, black brethren?

Both are valid, I suppose, but the former seems much more difficult. I'm using a source that tried to tackle the latter, and Frank Grant didn't crack their top 25. I won't be voting for him.


I think the answer to the philosophical question is clear for the purposes of the HoM. Based on our whole manner of proceeding, we have to compare black players to all other _eligible_ players. Given that Grant is difficult to rate because we don't have many statistics, and we're not sure what the statistics we do have mean, I don't see why he would be easier to compare to other players for whom we have scanty and unreliable statistics than to players with extensive statistical records.

Mark, what does your source say about Frank Grant? If it takes a position on him, I'd be interested to know it.

If it doesn't say anything about Frank Grant, I must say I can't take his omission from the source's top 25 as an argument against his value -- we've seen cases where major league ballplayers of great quality have been overlooked by baseball historians. Is it possible that your source simply hasn't given Grant serious consideration because he played prior to the advent of organized Negro League baseball? I don't know what your source is, or what it says, so I won't jump to conclusions about it.
   46. Chris Cobb Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:53 AM (#517286)
WS/162 -- Tops in the NL and the AA, 19th Century

Doesn't include NA play; doesn't include players not ranked in BJNHBA; doesn't include pitchers or players who pitched for part of their career. Bold indicates catchers, second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen. Italics indicates HoMers.

I'm not sure of the value of this metric, but I think that it's worth noting that John McGraw's rate is really outstanding, especially considering that players at hitting positions tend to do better in this metric than players at fielding positions.

Dan Brouthers -- 34.38
   47. Brian H Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:01 AM (#517287)
I also find it easier to evaluate Grant by first comparing him with other Negro League players. From what I've read so far Grant comes up a bit short. He is not generally acknoweldged as one of the best Negro League players in history and is ranked (if I recall correctly) fourth all-time among Negro League second baseman. This puts him on the fence in my mind even though my "magic number" for Negro League players in the HOM would be significantly greater than the number currently inducted in Cooperstown. Actually, I don't have a specific number in mind but I have come up with more players than in Cooperstown simply by counting those that I believe should definitely be in the HOM. Grant falls towards the bottom of the next group -- players I would strongly consider for the HOM.
   48. MattB Posted: September 04, 2003 at 11:41 AM (#517288)
Mark wrote:

"For those who are big Frank Grant fans and who would like to see him inducted:

How many Negro League players do you see getting elected?"

I haven't really looked ahead. I'm taking the players one at a time.

"I guess the philosophical question pertaining to Negro Leaguers is do you compare them to their white contemporaries, or to their banned, black brethren?"

It's only fair to compare everyone to everyone else. For black players with few stats, I try to compare them to an appropriate white counterpart to try to get an appropriate career path. In my mind, looking at the available data, I find it completely implausible to think that Grant was any worse in terms of value than Tony Fernandez, and equally implausible that he was any better than Frankie Frisch. Subjectively, I think he is closer to Frisch than Fernandez, due to his strong early play.

He compares strongly to the other contemporary middle infielders we have inducted (Richardson and McPhee) and those on the "wait-list" (McPhee). He's career length was longer than any other 19th century black player, and on the long end for white players.

If we were only comparing black players against comtemporaries, George Stovey would have been a shoo-in, since he was the best black pitcher of the 19th century. His career path didn't seem to be that impressive, though.

Grant simply started out strong right out of the gate in a strong league at age 18, and played for another 18 years.
   49. Howie Menckel Posted: September 04, 2003 at 11:58 AM (#517289)
My hunch is that no 19th century Negro players are considered for 95 pct of those all-time lists, so their exclusion there hardly is damning. Most of the lists seem to be more of the "Negro League All-Stars" vein, which is understandable. Keep in mind that the 1930s and 1940s Hall of Fame tended to ignore 19th century WHITE players!
   50. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:10 PM (#517290)
Way back in January 2002 I was on record as saying we should not include Negro leaguers in the HoM. I think we're mixing apples and oranges, folding together the white players (rated statistically, mainly) with the negroes (rated anecdotally, mainly).

Then Bill James mixed them together in the NHBA, placing 12 in his top 100, so I guess we have to rate them, too. Using that ratio, the HOM should have about 26 negroes. (The HOF has 17 players.) Significantly, James did not include negroes in his position rankings.

My opinion has nothing to do with racism, and duh, yeah, they got screwed and all that. IMO, we can't do anything approaching an objective result. All we can do is come to a consensus on a quota and try to get the top x number of negroes elected. It should almost be a separate election. How about that? Since we can't reasonably equate them on the same scale, make it a separate election.

It's not really too late to do this, since Grant is the first viable negro candidate we've dealt with. So, yes. Include Negro leaguers in the HoM, but do it with a separate election. We only need to decide on a number and a starting year for the first election.

I suggest 25 players, electing one per year 1937-61.
   51. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:15 PM (#517291)
I would also add that the discussion of Grant has dominated this thread, at the expense of a thorough analysis of the many strong new white candidates. OTOH, we really have three weeks to discuss these guys, since Delahanty is a shoo-in for 1909 and there are zero good new candidates for 1910.
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:36 PM (#517292)
I would also add that the discussion of Grant has dominated this thread, at the expense of a thorough analysis of the many strong new white candidates.

At the expense? If people have something to say about the other candidates, they can post! So far there seems to be a consensus that Delahanty is a first-ballot HoMer, and no one has attempted to make a case that any of the other new candidates from the major leagues are upper-ballot candidates. (Are there any supporters of Herman Long for the Hall of Merit?) Grant is getting attention because he might be an upper-ballot candidate, so his placement matters a lot. I agree than Van Haltren and Ryan could use more discussion. So where are you planning to rank them?

Overall, we've been posting at a rather slow rate, this week. I suspect that means everybody is spending time trying to figure out what to do with all these new guys before we post a prelim ballot (I know that's what I've been doing).
   53. RobC Posted: September 04, 2003 at 02:47 PM (#517293)
I havent finished my prelim ballot.

Right now I have Delahanty 1 (duh), Ryan at 4 or 5, Grant at 10, and a 3 way battle between Stovey/Jennings/McVey for 14-16. The other first timers dont make it. Lots of the cruft dropping off the bottom of my ballot.

Anyone else have Ryan that high, or am I smoking of the crack. I have no clue where EXACTLY Grant belongs, but 10 doesnt seem to far off to me.
   54. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 03:58 PM (#517298)
I think he looks a lot worse than Phil Rizzuto, who was a historically great defensive shortstop and had a career EQA of .264, which doesn't include 3 years in his prime lost to military service.

I agree, Joe. Besides, Rizzuto is borderline choice himself, so any comparison with the Scooter is nothing to be ashamed about.

I keep forgetting about Long. I have to see if there is a slot for him.
   55. Jeff M Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:13 PM (#517299)
Chris Cobb wrote: "What's your evidence for concluding that Grant was called "the black Fred Dunlap" because he was Dunlap's equivalent on defense? All I know is the phrase..."

I saw the phrase in the Biographical Encyclopedia, and while I don't have it in front of me, I think it was followed by the phrase "because of his defense" or something like that.

James Newburg wrote: "For me, Grant' 18-year career as a top-five or top-ten player in the International League and other leagues is equivalent to an 18-year career of similar stature in the National League. He couldn't control the color of his skin or the institutionalized racism of America, so why penalize him for that?"

I'm not penalizing him for the color of his skin. I'm penalizing him (to the extent being the 13th best player on the HOM ballot is a penalty -- which it isn't) because I don't think being a very good player in the International League or in the Negro Leagues OF THAT ERA makes him a great player. It's that simple. I'm not convinced he was "great" in such a way as to move him ahead of the other 12 guys on the ballot.

In a few "years" Bill Monroe, a fantastic 2b in the Negro Leagues, will be in the top 5 of my ballot.
   56. Jeff M Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:17 PM (#517300)
Don't want to appear too picky here, but while I don't mind the term "Negro Leaguers" (since it involves a proper name), I'm not crazy about use of the term "negroes" to describe the players generically or in contrast to the "whites."
   57. Rusty Priske Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:17 PM (#517301)
I think Jimmy Ryan has a great case for being that high (I have him 7th) and I also have Frank Grant tenth. However, I am surprised at the lack of support for George Van Haltren. I have him 4th (right behind Delahanty... yeah, I know)

I guess some of it is the career/peak argument, but George had a very strong career. At the moment I could see him lower than McPhee or McVey, but not below Ryan or Duffy.
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:30 PM (#517302)
I saw the phrase in the Biographical Encyclopedia, and while I don't have it in front of me, I think it was followed by the phrase "because of his defense" or something like that.

Here's the quote, Jeff:

Exceptionally quick afield and with a strong arm, he was called the "black Dunlap" in comparison with Fred Dunlap, the best-fielding white second baseman of the 1880s.

Clearly, the inference is that he was rewarded with the sobriquet due to defense.

Grant might deserve to rank higher on my ballot, but let's be conservative first. It took some time to just place Dickey Pearce and Harry Wright on my ballot before I was convinced of their worthiness. Grant wasn't a Gibson or Paige where it's obvious that they belong (and extremely high). Of any of the new candidates, he needs the most scrutiny. Eventually, he should make it through our gauntlet.
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: September 04, 2003 at 04:46 PM (#517303)
I think Jimmy Ryan has a great case for being that high (I have him 7th) and I also have Frank Grant tenth. However, I am surprised at the lack of support for George Van Haltren. I have him 4th (right behind Delahanty... yeah, I know)

I like Van Haltren better than Ryan, maybe better than any outfielder on the ballot except Delahanty. His peak isn't as high as most of the other outfielders under consideration, but it's not much lower than anybody's but Delahanty's (his peak is out of sight!) and he was a significantly above average player for many years. I see Delahanty as my #1, Van Haltren in the 4-8 range, Ryan in the 8-15 range.

I'm very interested to see wher Pennants Added places Van Haltren and Ryan.

I'm thinking of Grant in the 3-10 range, btw.
   60. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:00 PM (#517304)
Jeff M wrote:
   61. MattB Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:04 PM (#517305)
DanG wrote:

"It should almost be a separate election. How about that? Since we can't reasonably equate them on the same scale, make it a separate election."

Personally, I am finding it much easier to compare Grant to a white middle-infielder than comparing a white middle-infielder with a white pitcher. (Grant, in particular, was Hardy Richardson direct successor at second base in Buffalo.) If we had to break out a group and just elect a pre-determined quota, I'd say break out the pitchers, because I'll be darned if I can figure out whether Bobby Mathews is twice as good as Sam Thompson or vice versa.

George Wright and Al Spalding have -- so far -- been elected partially due to anecdotal and contemporary non-statistical evidence. In the next few years, Joe Start and Cal McVey might join them. I and others are already explicitly giving Pud Galvin credit for time spent with Buffalo in the IL, and giving McVey credit for games played "out west". I don't find Grant any harder to rank than that group.

Primarily, I am against a quota system because it is overly impersonalized. I came in thinking that I would actively support at least the top hitter (Grant) and the top pitcher (George Stovey) from the era. When it came down to making the case, though, there simply wasn't enough evidence that Stovey was great. I made the best case I could, but couldn't really convince even myself. So I dropped him, based on the comparison to the other candidates.

Grant is much easier to defend, based on the stats we have and the subjective evidence. If there is a failure of imagination or interpolation, I can suggest a comparison from Dan's last ballot:

"9) Pearce (11,11,13)? Although I?m the oldest FODP, I don?t really have a compelling argument for him. He gets the benefit of the doubt for now; I?ll still carry the torch for a while."

I also strongly disagree that Grant is taking away discussion time from anyone else. I am sure that, after this years' election, many cases will be made that a given candidate was rated too low or too high. Without a lot of preliminary ballots posted, it's hard to know exactly what kind of fights to pick.
   62. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:29 PM (#517306)
OCF wrote:
   63. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:31 PM (#517307)
Re: Van Haltren and Jimmy Ryan

Are Rip's supporters giving him extra bonus points because he was a pitcher at the beginning of his career (even though he was mediocre) as in the case of Caruthers and Foutz?

I have Van Haltren as the best NL player at his position once (LF in '89). I don't have him as the best major league player at his position ever.

Ryan, OTOH, was the best major league player at his position a few times (CF in '88, '89, almost in '90), plus had a longer career. What am I missing?
   64. Rusty Priske Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:54 PM (#517308)
I do give Van Haltren credit for his pitching, but not much.
   65. Howie Menckel Posted: September 04, 2003 at 05:57 PM (#517309)
Bill James's explanation of why he includes Negro Leaguers is compelling, basically in the "I'll be damned if I'm going to see these guys screwed over by ME, too!!"
   66. Marc Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:07 PM (#517310)
Both Ryan and Van Haltren were among "the best" in peak value for awhile but in Ryan's case "awhile" meant 3 years, in VH's case 1 year--so I have Ryan as the #12 peak and VH as #18.

I also believe Ryan had more career value; I found the argument to disregard VH's pitching to be convincing, pitching is not why we would be honoring him (unlike Caruthers and Whitney; their hitting, meanwhile, is germane because it accented their value in their prime; VH's pitching was in a "different career," it added no value to his prime).

In an increasingly crowded field, they separate themselves pretty decisively and as many as 10-12 other players can fit in between, IMO.
   67. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:21 PM (#517311)
Howie Menckel wrote:
   68. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:24 PM (#517312)
I found the argument to disregard VH's pitching to be convincing

I wouldn't go that far, but I do agree his value as a pitcher is small. I agree with all of your other points, Marc.

I also give Ryan a bit of a negative for his defense, but not much.

Do you mean "negative" as in "a little less defensive value than Van Haltren" or as in "he was below average as a fielder?" The first definition can certainly be defended, but I would disagree with you if you were using the latter definition.
   69. Rusty Priske Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:26 PM (#517313)
You also can't truly equate 19th century baseball with late 20th century baseball, but we are going to do that.

Try comparing underhand pitching with overhand, but we are doing that.

Basically, we have to do the best we can, and each of us has to decide for himself where to put each player.

Having a seperate vote for black players before the barrier was broken smacks of tokenism. Let's just vote in the best players, white, black or whatever.
   70. Rusty Priske Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:28 PM (#517314)
John, I was referring to his defense in comparison to Van Haltren, as you put in your second point.
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:38 PM (#517315)
Yes, let's make them HoMers. But why pretend we can equate them on the same scale?

Dan, are you going to make the same argument when Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Oscar Charleston are candidates? Is there anyone here that doesn't feel they are top tier HoMers? I'll take Gibson over Dickey, Paige over Dean or Charleston over Simmons anyday.
   72. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2003 at 06:43 PM (#517316)
John, I was referring to his defense in comparison to Van Haltren, as you put in your second point.

Gotcha.

Having a seperate vote for black players before the barrier was broken smacks of tokenism. Let's just vote in the best players, white, black or whatever.

Agreed.
   73. RobC Posted: September 04, 2003 at 07:10 PM (#517317)
DanG,

In 1986 (87? not sure), I will be putting Sadaharu Oh somewhere near the top of my ballot. If we follow your idea, we will have to figure out a quota for Japanese HoMers and have a separate ballot for them, and etc. I think it just makes more sense to have one ballot and make arguments for relative placement. It may end up being a de facto quota in that some people will put Negro Leaguers high until they get in, but a single entry system seems best. Remember, this is in many ways an experiment. If things royally suck, we can throw the HoM away and re-start from scratch 3 or 4 years from now. :)
   74. DanG Posted: September 04, 2003 at 07:16 PM (#517318)
I wrote:
   75. OCF Posted: September 04, 2003 at 08:09 PM (#517320)
Outfielders who were there for the offensive explosion of the 1890's:
   76. OCF Posted: September 04, 2003 at 08:14 PM (#517321)
The spacer marks didn't work. They're in the spaces without commas.
   77. Marc Posted: September 04, 2003 at 08:45 PM (#517322)
Prelim. Again my consideration set consists of the top 25 peaks + any players in (or likely to be in) the top 15 HoM voting for "last year." Then I eval. the top (in this case) 30 both for peak and career. Mostly done with adjWS (adj for season length, league strength and fielding bonus/pitching discount pre-'93) but other factors are considered.

1. Ed Delahanty--#6 peak but #1 career (I recognize this goes against the expectation). Career adjWS ~390.
   78. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: September 04, 2003 at 09:31 PM (#517323)
Wait...Japanese players are eligible? If so, that's pretty cool.
   79. Brian H Posted: September 04, 2003 at 10:53 PM (#517324)
An interesting issue occured to me in reviewing the paucity of evidence we have on McVey and Grant: shouldn't we also consider the other players minor league careers on either end of ther major league careers ?
   80. RobC Posted: September 04, 2003 at 11:11 PM (#517325)
James,

I have no idea if Japanese League players are eligible. They are professional baseball players so I would assume so. Im voting for Oh unless someone tells me I cant. I figure when the time comes, I will give Ichiro! some credit for his JL days.
   81. Howie Menckel Posted: September 04, 2003 at 11:30 PM (#517326)
I give credit for minors in early days, when they weren't necessarily considered "minors." But later on, not really.
   82. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2003 at 12:21 AM (#517327)
Re: Van Haltren and Jimmy Ryan

Are Rip's supporters giving him extra bonus points because he was a pitcher at the beginning of his career (even though he was mediocre) as in the case of Caruthers and Foutz?


I don't give him "extra bonus points," but I count the WS he earned as a pitcher towards his season and career totals. I prorate them by 1/3 and don't season-adjust them, so they are a rather small percentage of Van Haltren's total value. In 87, 12 out of 13 adj. WS are from pitching; in 88, 12 out of 27; in 90, 10 out of 29. That's 34 out of 404 for his career.

I have Van Haltren as the best NL player at his position once (LF in '89). I don't have him as the best major league player at his position ever.

I'd believe that. I see Van Haltren's value in his many years of above average play. He is at least an average player for 13 seasons, which is three seasons more at that level than any other eligible outfielder (Stovey and Delahanty are next with 10). Here are the season, fielding, and league-adjusted WS for the middle 14 years of his career, 88-01.

27, 25, 29, 29, 23, 27, 28, 28, 28, 32, 32, 20, 24, 28

Over that stretch, he's 61 WS above average. That's more for his career than Ryan, Tiernan or Thompson.

Ryan, OTOH, was the best major league player at his position a few times (CF in '88, '89, almost in '90), plus had a longer career. What am I missing?

I'd believe that Ryan was the best player at his position a few times: he was a great player 87-92: I have him at these fielding, season, and league-adjusted WS for that stretch:

24, 42, 33, 30, 27, 27

The 42 WS season is awesome, and some of the others in this stretch are outstanding as well. _But_, except for the 42 season, they are not out of Van Haltren's range. And the rest of Ryan's career is truly mediocre: here are his WS 93-03:

15, 17, 18, 18, 20, 31, 19, 15, --, 22, 12

Aside from the one last big year, he's a slightly below average player. These 10 seasons add very little to his HoM case.

Overall, when I compare Ryan's 7 excellent to very good years and 10 mediocre years to Van Haltren's 13 good to very good years, (with a few mediocre years around the edges) I see more value in Van Haltren.
   83. Marc Posted: September 05, 2003 at 12:29 AM (#517328)
I think yes, by all means give credit for minor league play--e.g. Galvin at Buffalo. Especially if there is any reason to think that the player's presence in a minor league is for any reason other than a clear judgement that he was not good enough for the "bigs." i.e. He preferred to play in the minors for whatever reason, or was under contract, or was banned by the color of his skin or by a blacklist. Brian, yes, exactly, today players in the minors are almost surely not as good as major leaguers, though not always, and certainly not in the old days. How about Lefty Grove, as if he will need any bonus. But I'm also inclined to give guys like Al Rosen a little benefit of the doubt, and how about guys like Charlie Keller and Joe Gordon who were stuck in the Yankees farm system. Newark would not have finished last in the AL or NL in the '30s and there are similar examples.
   84. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#517331)
I agree with Tom on James's blind spot. In any case, we're not trying to create a "top 100" list or suchlike, but to reconstruct what a sequentially constructed Hall of Merit would look like, if _all_ players had become eligible five years after retirement (and had their careers considered in light of exhaustive historical research and sophisticated statistical analysis . . . : ). So comparisons of Frank Grant to Bill Monroe or Bingo DeMoss aren't relevant yet. We need to try to rank Grant in relation to the players who are now eligible, not against future players. He might be the best or second-best second baseman on this year's ballot. How does he compare to Bid McPhee, Cupid Childs, Hughie Jennings, Herman Long? We're not worrying (yet) about Bid McPhee vs. Johnny Evers or Tony Lazzeri or Frankie Frisch, and so we shouldn't worry about Frank Grant vs. the Negro League Stars of the Future until they become eligible.
   85. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 05, 2003 at 04:27 AM (#517332)
And the rest of Ryan's career is truly mediocre: here are his WS 93-03:

15, 17, 18, 18, 20, 31, 19, 15, --, 22, 12


He played a chunk of this time in RF. Since I compare each player to his position, Ryan is actually helped, not hurt, by this. Which begs the question: Does anyone have OPS+ or WS totals for each outfield position during the 19th century handy? I'm curious to see if there is something going on here. I know there has been talk about RF being the least important position during this time so I might be totally off base here.
   86. Jeff M Posted: September 05, 2003 at 02:03 PM (#517334)
Clint: Excellent posts #98 and #102...especially the "best in your neighborhood example."

To respond to TomH's comment, I don't know if there were 50 better Negro League players from 1910 to 1950, because I don't know if 50 is the right number. But I strongly suspect that if you said the best 30-35 played from 1920 to 1950, you would be very close to correct. The talent pool in pre-1900 Negro League baseball was very shallow. The talent pool from 1920-1950 was not.
   87. jimd Posted: September 05, 2003 at 03:24 PM (#517336)
This may or may not be pertinent to the "best in the neighborhood" argument.

Amongst the players that we've considered for the HOM, the short list of white players born in the former Confederacy is as follows:

NC 1850 Charley Jones
   88. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 05, 2003 at 04:20 PM (#517338)
TN 1864 Bob Caruthers

He moved to Chicago when he was a teenager.
   89. Marc Posted: September 05, 2003 at 04:44 PM (#517339)
Continuing to finetune for 1909: Somebody mentioned that Ryan had a string of below average years. It appears to me that the same is true of Hugh Duffy and Jim Galvin, only more so. I see Duffy having a truly high peak (3 years) plus 4 above average years but 7 below average. Ouch. Galvin had 10 above average years (you might argue he had some high peak years but I employ a pitcher discount/fielding bonus that pushes him below my threshold for a "high" peak) and 7 below average.

Ryan doesn't look so bad compared to those two, at least not on that measure. His (Ryan's) peak is not as high as Duffy's but fairly close and higher than Galvin's, so Ryan is looking good. Van Haltren was better (than Ryan) through his decline, as was pointed out here, but his peak was not as good as Ryan or Duffy (or Pike or H. Wright among CFers), but better than Browning.

So just among the CFers I think you've got:

1. H. Wright--high peak and played 16 years (as long as Delahanty, longer than Stovey, Duffy, Thompson, Pike, Browning, Tiernan, Long, Childs, etc. etc.). Not much of an offensive force in the NA but still playing CF past his physical prime.

2. Ryan--a solid peak and a solid career (I have 406 adjWS) of 18 seasons.

3. Pike--solid peak, played middle IF first half of career, his 14 years (1865-1878) is also more than Thompson, Williamson, Browning, Tiernan. I project 336 adjWS for his career back to '65. A 149 OPS+ in his last half season; like McVey, no real decline, left the NL for "personal reasons," but played 3 years more of elite ball than Cal did.

4. Van Haltren--422 career adjWS, a solid peak but clearly below Ryan and Pike.

5. Duffy--those 7 years in decline sure don't help. I think he will drop off of my ballot this year due to this re-eval. after being #7 and #8 his first two years. 365 adjWS aren't all that great, especially with the new competition at his own position. But mainly, I had overlooked that awful decline period.

6. Browning--also has been on my ballot (8 times and as high as #5), but his lack of a peak that is really competitive with the rest of these guys doesn't help, (as I have focused more on peak recently) especially considering he doesn't make it up with career value (314 adjWS).

I could make an argument for 6 CFers on this years ballot, but I'll settle for 4 with Duffy and Browning out.
   90. DanG Posted: September 05, 2003 at 05:00 PM (#517340)
Along with the Negro League thread on the sidebar, here's another thread that contained good discussion of Black ball.
   91. jimd Posted: September 05, 2003 at 06:04 PM (#517341)
Marc, I'm not sure what definitions or measuring system you're using with Duffy. Win Shares (adjusted for season length and using 20 as "average") sees Duffy as having a solid 10 year above-average block from 1889-98, 11 if you include his mid-season debut in 1888 with an above average rate. In 1899, he is slightly below average (18 adjWS). Then 2 bad seasons as a part-timer, and 3 token seasons while managing the Phillies.

For Ryan, there is an above-average block for 6 years from 1887-92, plus additional years in 97-8 and 1902, plus a lot of years (8) in the full-time, slightly below average category (most worse than Duffy's 1899 season). I don't count those against him; I just don't quite see the career making up for the lower peak.
   92. MattB Posted: September 05, 2003 at 07:22 PM (#517343)
Clint wrote:

"So maybe Frank Grant was the second best black 2B, taking into account only play up to 1909. Does that get him in? I doubt it."

I'm not sure what the point is here is limiting the discussion to second baseman, except to minimize the accomplishment. Assuming Bill Monroe was better (I'm not sure), that makes Grant the second best PLAYER, not just "maybe the second best second baseman," and Bill Monroe won't be coming onto the ballot for 11 YEARS -- that hardly puts them in the same generation.

As for the depth of the talent pool, I wouldn't really care if Grant was one of the only 3 Hmong tribesman in America in 1900. I am comparing him against the white people on the ballot, not a potential pool from which someone like him could emerge.

For the record, though, in 1900 there were about 1 million black Americans living in the North, mostly in urban areas where baseball was played.
   93. jimd Posted: September 05, 2003 at 08:02 PM (#517344)
Here's a link to some historical demographic information from the US Census.
   94. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2003 at 09:02 PM (#517348)
Here's a prelim ballot to tear into. I'd hoped to have the pennants added data before I posted, but I realized that it's only Van Haltren and Ryan whose placement is likely to be affected by those numbers, so I'm mailing it in now.

I feel like this ballot may a bit top-heavy towards hitting and shortchanges defense, so I'm considering moving Bennett, Grant, & McPhee up a bit. But this is where I think everybody rates today.

1909 Prelim Ballot

1) Ed Delahanty (na) The best power hitter of his generation. At the top of the strongest cadre of players I've had to rank..
   95. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2003 at 09:38 PM (#517349)
re Frank Grant above: I really wish we knew a bit more about what he was doing during the 1990s! Another century-slip. While it might be quite interesting to know what Frank Grant was doing in the 1990s, what he was doing in the 1890s has more bearing on his HoM case . . .
   96. jimd Posted: September 05, 2003 at 09:59 PM (#517350)
he was a big fish in a pretty small pond.

So was Cap Anson (Iowa population 1850 is less than 200K).
   97. favre Posted: September 05, 2003 at 11:04 PM (#517352)
Prelim ballot:

1. Ed Delahanty

Was a legtimate MVP candidate for ten of eleven years, 1892-1902. And his "off year" wasn't bad: 323/378/430 in a 285/347/377 league. Not that there's been much debate about this guy's greatness...

2. Joe Start
   98. Paul Wendt Posted: September 06, 2003 at 03:57 AM (#517353)
3. According to BASEBALL:THE BIOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, one Buffalo writer said that he was the best player the city had ever seen--including Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Jim O'Rourke, and Hoss Radbourn.

and Jack Glasscock, Larry Corcoran, Hardy Richardson, Deacon White.

I'd love to know the writer is...

According to Jerry Malloy, the Buffalo correspondent for Sporting Life. (Who was that? Why isn't there a general reference?)

Quoting Jerry Malloy, "Frank Grant", Nineteenth Century Stars:
   99. Paul Wendt Posted: September 06, 2003 at 04:07 AM (#517354)
McGraw was seriously injured twice during 1901. His career as a player was in jeopardy.

7/12 "taken out at 3B by a headfirst slide from Waldron. McGraw stayed in g. and hit a 'triple' next inning but was thrown out at first due to inability to run; kneecap knocked out of place; will not travel with team on Western trip beginning 7/15 . . . starts on 8/9"

8/21 "cartilage popped in leg; wearing plaster cast, McGraw announces he will manage strictly from the bench"

--Terry Simpkins, "Player Movements for the 1901 [MLB]season" (2000). typescript.
   100. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 06, 2003 at 03:28 PM (#517356)
MattB (#37) has Grant as 18 years old in 1886. But SABR's Ninteeenth Century Stars has Grant as born "c. 1865," which would make him 21 (or thereabouts) in 1886.

The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues says he was born August 1, 1865.
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