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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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   101. MattB Posted: September 06, 2003 at 08:41 PM (#517357)
Not sure about my original source. The only internet site I could find (Baseball Library.com) with a date confirms 1868, however (homepage link).

In terms of age, however, I don't see this discrepancy making a huge different in my vote. A career from 21-38 is about as impressive as from 18-35.

In terms of the importance of age, Chase Utley is a Phillies top prospect, and hit .323 in the International League. That accomplishment is by no means lessened by the fact that the league leader in 28 year old Fernando Seguignol, who is hitting .341 for Columbus after hitting .140 for Montreal last year.

As for the appropriate discount, that should be left to the good judgment of individual voters. Consider, though, how well do we think a team like Scranton would do against a team like the Detroit Tigers. I think Detroit would be the better team by far. International League teams (already weakened by excluding black players like Grant) stepped into the major leagues in 1890 and held their own.
   102. favre Posted: September 06, 2003 at 10:07 PM (#517358)
"In terms of age, however, I don't see this discrepancy making a huge different in my vote. A career from 21-38 is about as impressive as from 18-35."

It's not the length of the career that's the issue.

Imagine today a 27 year-old good fielding second baseman--we'll call him Bob-- who, after spending most of his career in the minors, is leading AAA in batting. He will probably be called up to the majors at some point during the season, but he will not be considered a top prospect. Why? It's not just potential career length. Rather, it's comparing his skills to others in his age group. Other 27-year-olds have been in the majors for several years; some of them are likely to be leading the American/National League in several batting/pitching categories. Indeed, players a couple of years younger than Bob will be among the major league leaders. Developmentally, Bob is far behind his best peers, and even a fair amount of players younger than he is. Bob COULD become a star in the majors--sometimes good players are kept in the minors for various reasons, sometimes they develop late--but the probability isn't high.

Now imagine a 21-year-old second baseman with the same skills--we'll call him Joe--who is leading Triple AAA in batting. Joe will be considered a top prospect, because he is considered one of the best of his age group, many of whom are in Triple AAA, and there is a fair probability that he will remain among the best of his age group as his career progresses. This is not automatic, of course--he may get hurt, or may not be able to adjust to the pressure of the majors, or may join a cult that worships vegetables. Still, there is good reason to hope that Joe will be a star in the majors.

Now imagine an 18-year-old second baseman with the same skills--we'll call him Charlie--who is leading Triple A in batting. Joe is a great propsect, but Charlie is a much better one. Why? Because he is, developmentally, far beyond his age group, most of whom are in Single-A. Joe we can reasonably hope to become a star; with Charlie there is good hope that he will be a superstar, one of the best players in the game, because he is already so far beyond his peers. There is no guarantee of this, of course, for the same reasons listed for Joe. But the probability that Charlie will be a star is higher than for Joe, and it is also more likely that Charlie's peak will be higher than Joe's.

If Frank Grant was 21 in 1886, then his case HoM is hardly destroyed. Putting up the numbers he did from ages 21-23 in the IL are still impressive. They are NOT as impressive as if he put them up from 18-20. Given the paucity of information we have about Grant, that's still an important distinction.
   103. favre Posted: September 07, 2003 at 02:49 AM (#517359)
To continue on Grant:

Grant's age in the International League is important because, as far as I can tell, we know NOTHING about his career in the 1890s, during what would normally be his peak. This is true not only statistically, but also anecdotally--most of the stories about Grant's great play seem to come from his stint in the IL and EL. We do know that he played until 1903, and that at the end of his career he was a member of the Philadelphia Giants, an outstanding team. Still, it's possible that he was an average or slightly above average player through the 90s, due to an injury or something else, but was still considered a star because a)his reputation from the 1880s b) the fact that he was still relatively better than the barnstorming teams he played against. I'm not saying this is likely; I'm just saying it's possible, because we don't have much evidence for his career. We have much more evidence available for scrutiny for African-American players from 1920-1950, both statistic and subjective; the stats aren't great, but they are there.

Therefore, probability becomes a very important argument for Frank Grant, moreso than most other players we will examine. Now, for some, the argument ends there; we don't have the evidence, so, sadly, we can't evaluate him. I respect that argument, but, because of the circumstances of his exclusion, I'm also willing give Grant the benefit of the doubt.

If Grant was 21 in 1886, then, given his numbers in the IL and the length of his career, I'd say there's a good probability that Grant was a star, one of the best second basemen of the 19th century along with Barnes, McPhee, Richardson, and Childs. I'm not sure where he'd rank with those players, but he is certainly ballot-worthy. I have him around #10 for now; that sounds about right.

If Grant was 18 in 1886, then there's a fair chance that Grant was THE best second baseman in baseball before Nap Lajoie, because, as DanG points out, 18-year-old stars tend to become pretty special players. [I presume the IL was not full of teenage stars; if I'm wrong, my argument is going to crash mightily :)]. If that's the case, then Grant should be #2 or 3 on the ballot. If crowning him the best 2B before 1900 sounds too grandiose given the evidence, there is still a BETTER chance that he was a star player in the 1890s than if he was 21 in' 86.

Either way, the lack of evidence means there's still a risk that we're highly overrating him. I'm willing to take the risk, others aren't; again, I respect that.

Now, since we're dealing with probability here, I'm going to guess that Grant was actually closer to 21 than 18 in 1886. I say this because, historically, there have been many more players who could do what Grant did in the IL at ages 21-23 then at ages 18-20. That might be unfair to Grant, but the fact is, his argument for the HoM basically rests on probability; take that away and we have very little go on, and it would be inconsistent to apply it in one area of his evaluation but not another.

Therefore, I have Grant around #10 on my ballot.
   104. Marc Posted: September 07, 2003 at 04:03 AM (#517361)
As I've said before, we know a lot more about Joe Start in the '60s than we do Frank Grant in the '90s.
   105. KJOK Posted: September 07, 2003 at 06:11 AM (#517362)
"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). "

Ummm, Browning had THREE MVP type years in the 9 year period 1882-1890 - that seems to be a peak that is "really competitive" to me...
   106. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2003 at 04:37 PM (#517363)
In 1890, four IL teams joined the ?majors.? Buffalo went to the Players? League and Syracuse, Toledo and Rochester went to the AA.

Are you sure about this? Buffalo had a team in both leagues named the Bisons in 1890. The IL team was beat up by the Players League competition so they transferred to Montreal.

Here is the IL team's record: 6-12 ? .333

Two -- Grant was probably the best player in the IL in 1887. He hit .366 to lead the league

They were counting walks as hits that year, too.

BTW, the Bisons of the IL is not the same team from the NL.
   107. MattB Posted: September 07, 2003 at 07:01 PM (#517364)
This is from the International League's official web site:

"Baseball's most expensive war broke out in 1890 when major league players organized their own Players' (Brotherhood) League in competition with the National and then major American Association. Buffalo jumped to the Brotherhood while Rochester, Syracuse and Toledo accepted bids from the American.

Bidding for players by the three leagues led to widespread contract jumping as salaries skyrocketed. An effort to sustain an International club in Buffalo collapsed shortly after the start of the season. The Bisons shifted to Montreal, met little success, moved on to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Later the Hamilton franchise was brought to Montreal and hung on until the League folded on July 7."

http://www.ilbaseball.com/aboutext.html

So that sounds to me like the PL team was a direct descendent of the IL team, with the new IL team briefly taking their place in Buffalo.
   108. MattB Posted: September 07, 2003 at 07:09 PM (#517365)
John wrote:

"They were counting walks as hits that year, too."

That was certainly the case in the National League, but I do not know whether it was carried over into the IL. Leagues did not all have uniform rules. The fact that his average was fairly consistent over the three year period means either the IL did not adopt the change, or else he simply didn't walk that much (although it might have helped explain Ed Crane -- if he had walked at all).
   109. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2003 at 07:45 PM (#517366)
This is what I obtained from www.bisons.com:

<i>1890 (Players)

Record: 36-96 ? .273 (8)
   110. Marc Posted: September 08, 2003 at 01:44 PM (#517368)
I just looked at the 1908 results again after having spent the past week thinking about my 1909 ballot. It is amazing to me that Bid McPhee at #3 last year made more ballots and is just 20 points behind Joe Start at #2. Start had a significantly longer career and a much higher peak (much higher if you recognize '60s baseball, or just higher if you don't).

In addition, 1B was probably a more important defensive position during Start's era than 2B was during McPhee's. All of you who advocated Ezra Sutton because he played a key defensive position should be evaluating McPhee in that same light, no?

In any event, it is inconceivable to me that McPhee would go in in 1909 along with Ed Delahanty and ahead of Start, but they were just that close in 1908, it could go either way. In a head to head comparison, how does McPhee beat Start???
   111. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2003 at 02:25 PM (#517370)
In any event, it is inconceivable to me that McPhee would go in in 1909 along with Ed Delahanty and ahead of Start, but they were just that close in 1908, it could go either way. In a head to head comparison, how does McPhee beat Start???

I think Pearce was probably better than McPhee, too, but let's be honest: Bid has the documents to prove or disprove his case. He'll be my number one this "year."

BTW, are we going with one or two selections this "year?"
   112. Rusty Priske Posted: September 08, 2003 at 02:42 PM (#517371)
According to the schedule at the top of the page this is a 2 inductee year.
   113. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2003 at 02:53 PM (#517372)
According to the schedule at the top of the page this is a 2 inductee year.

I wasn't sure if we were going with the new setup that Joe proposed.
   114. Marc Posted: September 08, 2003 at 03:32 PM (#517373)
>First base was more important in 1865 than it is today, and possibly as important as 2B was in 1890. But
   115. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2003 at 03:35 PM (#517374)
In the words of Doc Bones on Star Trek: My god, man!

Marc, trust me, he'll be in. I'm not a prophet, but I'm confident with this prediction. :-)
   116. Chris Cobb Posted: September 08, 2003 at 03:45 PM (#517375)
Rusty Priske:According to the schedule at the top of the page this is a 2 inductee year.

John Murphy: I wasn't sure if we were going with the new setup that Joe proposed.

There haven't been any objections to the new set-up on that thread, so consensus seems to be to accept the new schedule, but outside of that thread there hasn't been a formal statement about it.

I'm guessing that Joe will make one before a thread for the 1909 ballot goes up. Not that it matters for our rankings whether we are electing one or two this year, but it would be nice to know.
   117. jimd Posted: September 08, 2003 at 04:14 PM (#517376)
the Bisons from the Player League wasn't remotely the same team from the IL in 1889.

To reinforce what John Murphy said, any connection between the Buffalo Bisons of the Player's League and the previous year's Buffalo IL team would appear to be financial. Of the 7 Buffalo everyday regulars, 2 (White and Rowe) played with Pittsburgh NL the year before and 5 with Washington (dropped from the NL to make room for the Brooklyn AA team) - they had no regular right-fielder. Of the three top starting pitchers, 2 were from Washington NL and 1 from the Baltimore AA team.

Any holdovers from the Buffalo IL team would have been playing part-time in a backup role.
   118. Marc Posted: September 08, 2003 at 04:59 PM (#517377)
>whether we are electing one or two this year, but it would be nice to know.

It would be nice to know.
   119. RobC Posted: September 08, 2003 at 06:34 PM (#517379)
With regards to baseball 1861-1865, lets not forget that most of the best athletes were busy dying in VA and PA. I would think the the Civil War effect is as large or larger than the WW2 effect. I think the reason so more teenagers did so well in the early and late 60s is at least partly due to the large amount of death and dismemberment amongst the 20 somethings.
   120. MattB Posted: September 08, 2003 at 06:53 PM (#517380)
TomH wrote:

"I think WARP, which is more event-based (like linear weights) knocks these things more than WS, which may have some 'cap' on how badly you can hurt your team with too many errors."

I think this is a very good point. As has been discussed elsewhere, it should not be surprising that a very strong hitter would be permitted to take up space in the field, even if he is a substantially below-replacement fielder. Prospectus gives Van Haltren a substantial 12 runs belows replacement fielder in 1892.

That will have two effects in Win Shares:

1. Fielders on the team overall will get a smaller % of Win Shares to divvy up. This doesn't really hurt Van Haltren, because he's not getting much in the way of fielding Win Shares anyway.

2. Hitters on the team overall get a larger % of the Win Shares to divvy up. The helps Van Haltren, because he is a strong hitter.

Combine that with the fact that Win Shares undervalues defense in the 19th century and the fact that WARP rates defensive replacement too low, and we've got a systematic overrating of Van Haltren.

I consider this a significant demerit from the "pure stats" of his case.
   121. Marc Posted: September 08, 2003 at 08:18 PM (#517381)
By "elite," I mean the best competition available. Others can imply what they want by "elite." Bill James doesn't think Bid McPhee's league was elite. I don't try to draw a hard line, it's all gray.
   122. Chris Cobb Posted: September 08, 2003 at 08:37 PM (#517382)
MattB wrote:

? TomH wrote:

"I think WARP, which is more event-based (like linear weights) knocks these things more than WS, which may have some 'cap' on how badly you can hurt your team with too many errors."

I think this is a very good point. As has been discussed elsewhere, it should not be surprising that a very strong hitter would be permitted to take up space in the field, even if he is a substantially below-replacement fielder. Prospectus gives Van Haltren a substantial 12 runs belows replacement fielder in 1892.


But do such negative numbers make sense? I for one am skeptical of the use of negative values. Even in relation to replacement level rather than to average, the same problems remain.

That will have two effects in Win Shares:

1. Fielders on the team overall will get a smaller % of Win Shares to divvy up. This doesn't really hurt Van Haltren, because he's not getting much in the way of fielding Win Shares anyway.

2. Hitters on the team overall get a larger % of the Win Shares to divvy up. The helps Van Haltren, because he is a strong hitter.

Combine that with the fact that Win Shares undervalues defense in the 19th century and the fact that WARP rates defensive replacement too low, and we've got a systematic overrating of Van Haltren.


Either I'm not understanding this argument, or it doesn't make sense. How is this fact -- that WARP assigned a fielding value below replacement to Van Haltren in a season -- evidence of a systematic (by which I assume you mean season by season) overvaluing of Van Haltren in Win Shares?

I'll accept that WS might overvalue VH systematically _if_ it doesn't place enough weight on outfield errors (a fact we haven't determined yet), and I'll accept that WS undervalues nineteenth-century defense generally, but I don't see that the case that WS systematically overvalues VH's defense is proven yet.

WS assigns VH 1.0 fWS for 1892, his worst season in the field. If you take that away, or even, say, 3 win shares more because he played _so_ badly, that doesn't have a big impact on VH's overall ranking. Maybe that's all you're talking about doing, but "significant demerit" makes it sound like you have a much larger adjustment in mind, and I don't think the evidence so far presented would support that.

TomH's point about Van Haltren committing many errors is suggestive, but not conclusive in an evaluation of Van Haltren's fielding value.
   123. Chris Cobb Posted: September 08, 2003 at 08:51 PM (#517383)
Here's some system-comparison data that may suggest some more places to look for figuring out the differences in the WARP & WS systems for assigning fielding value. First is a list of 11 outfielders of interest in order of their fWS/162 games. Second is the same list ordered by fRAR/162 games. Third is a list of the ratio of FWS/fWAR for each player. Players the two systems agree more closely on have a ratio of 1 to 1.6. Players they disagree more extremely about have ratios between .85 and 1 and between 1.7 and 2.4.

This gives some sense of where the systems agree and disagree. Van Haltren, incidentally, is far from the systems' most significant disagreement about individual fielding value.

FWS/162 games
   124. OCF Posted: September 08, 2003 at 09:36 PM (#517384)
Looking at Van Haltren's career by looking at his teams...
   125. Paul Wendt Posted: September 08, 2003 at 10:39 PM (#517385)
With regards to baseball 1861-1865, lets not forget that most of the best athletes were busy dying in VA and PA. I would think the the Civil War effect is as large or larger than the WW2 effect. I think the reason so more teenagers did so well in the early and late 60s is at least partly due to the large amount of death and dismemberment amongst the 20 somethings.

New York City participation in the Civil War was relatively low.
   126. jimd Posted: September 09, 2003 at 12:38 AM (#517386)
A little more on the quality of the leagues in 1890. Using my definition of 'regular', I count 41 players in the Player's League that were ML regulars for 10 years or more, 28 such players in the NL, and 10 such players in the AA. These 10 were McGuire, W.Robinson, Doyle, O'Connor, Gerhardt, Purcell, Childs, Shaffer, Wolf, and Ely. Rochester had McGuire, Syracuse had Childs and Ely, and nobody on Toledo made that list. Contrast with the Boston Player's League team: T.Brown, Kelly, Quinn, Brouthers, Stovey, H.Richardson, A.Irwin, and Nash.

Frankly, I don't think highly of the AA in 1890. That the IL teams were competitive in it speaks more to the AA's lack of quality that year than to the quality of the IL. If one thinks that 10 years is too restrictive, I can relax the screen to 7 years or more and get the following counts: 61 such players in the PL, 43 in the NL, and 18 in the AA. This adds C.Welch, Lyons, McCarthy, Ehret, Swartwood (Toledo), Roseman, Fuller, and Stivetts. There aren't many "star" players on these AA lists, and even fewer are in their prime.

I doubt that the AA in 1890 was any better relative to the Player's League than AAA ball is to MLB today.
   127. MattB Posted: September 09, 2003 at 12:57 PM (#517387)
A couple of quick points:

1. Chris, I conflated a few points in my earlier post toward the end. My point about Win Shares, though, I think is valid.

2. If you are considering "population" when judging Frank Grant, consider that demographic studies of the North will not include Baltimore and Washington, D.C., both of which are geographically below the Mason Dixon line, but historically part of the "baseball North".

3. When considering the strength of the IL in 1887 by comparing the teams in the AA in 1890, remember that the 1890 teams were weakened by their exclusion of the black players we are talking about.
   128. Marc Posted: September 09, 2003 at 05:33 PM (#517388)
I am puzzled by Frank Grant's showing in the voting so far. Well, maybe I'm not. I mean there's a rationale that is unique to Grant at this point and maybe that's it. But what puzzles me is in relation to comments we've heard here about the '60s.

1) We don't have any statistical information about the '60s (therefore, for some, no information). Well, we have no information about Frank Grant in the '90s.

2) The competition in the '60s was weak. Well, what was the "pool" that '60s players were drawn from? What was the "pool" that Frank Grant's competition was drawn from?

3) Specifically as it relates to Joe Start, why, "he was just a child in 1859," and if he was successful "as a child" then, all the more, his competition had to be junk. Well, even aside from the fact that he was no longer a child when the Atlantics became America's team in the mid-'60s or when he drove in the run that broke the Red Stockings' 109 game winning streak, even forgetting that: Frank Grant dominated the IL as an 18-year old, 30 years after Start's debut. How strong could that competition be? (Or of course if Grant was really 21, then the competition was better but Grant wasn't.)

Again, I actually do understand why there's a double standard here as it relates to these two players. And I understand the reticence to vote for somebody we don't know much about--Start was only about 14th on my ballot until I made a point of going out and reading about the '60s.

Grant's not on my ballot, which is about equivalent to being #14 back in '98, I mean we've got a lot more solid candidates now than we did then even with having elected 20. I am willing to bring Grant on to my ballot as I did Start, if I could get even an inkling of what he did for 10 years out of a 17 year career.

But in the meantime, how can Grant be in the top 5 on ballots that don't include Joe Start? How can this not be a huge double standard?
   129. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 09, 2003 at 06:27 PM (#517390)
Start on the other hand got 14 years to prove his greatness and proved unequivocally that he wasn't a great player. Good, yes. Durable, absolutely. Very good, maybe. But great, no chance. His performance after the age of 28 is simply inconsistent with the suggestion that he was an All-Time great at his position. He was no Brouthers, Connor, Foxx, Thomas, etc. More like Beckley or Palmiero.

Until the eighties (when the position changed and Start was way past his prime), who was a better first baseman than Start? Answer: no one. That's two decades of baseball. That carries a lot of weight with me.
   130. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 09, 2003 at 06:53 PM (#517392)
God or chance didn't make any great 1870s 1B (though great players like McVey and Anson did play some 1B during the 1870s), but he/it made up for it with three great 1880s 1B.

But would the great first basemen of the eighties have played first before the abolition of the fair/foul bunt (or during the deadball era)? I have serious doubts about it.
   131. Chris Cobb Posted: September 09, 2003 at 08:20 PM (#517393)
It's a good thing Frank Grant has come along when he has -- otherwise what would we argue about once Joe Start is elected in a year or two?

While reviewing my sources on Cal McVey, I ran across this little tidbit, which has some bearing on fair-foul hits and infield play. Someone last election was questioning how much foul ground there was to cover, since the crowds were probably quite close to the field.

"When trying to get a feel for what some of the games where like I came across this... When a news paper writer asked outfielder Cal McVey of the Red Stockings to describe a tough play, Cal responded "I had some difficulty digging the ball out of the crowd, but nobody interfered with me or climbed on my back".

Culled from Vintage Baseball: http://www.resolutes.com/19th_century_bball.htm
   132. Chris Cobb Posted: September 09, 2003 at 09:24 PM (#517394)
This is a response to Ed's response to me on the ballot thread:

Ed asked, concerning Cal McVey:
   133. Marc Posted: September 09, 2003 at 10:05 PM (#517395)
Andrew, I guess I see it differently. The anecdotal evidence we have of Start in the '60s is that he was the best player (or minimally one of the three best players) in America, playing against the best players in America. Further, there is NO period of Start's career for which we have NO information.

The anecdotal evidence on Grant is that he might have been somewhere near as good as Dunlap or Hardy Richardson or (outside edge) maybe Childs or even McPhee, playing AAA ball. And in fact we have NO information on Grant through the heart of his career.

To say both represent "overwhelmingly positive" evidence is technically true, but misleading.

The case against Start comes down to the timeline or "the pool," which I think are the same argument, while the argument for Grant comes down to, well, "the pool." My question was, is Grant's pool any bigger than Start's?

But in any event, I'm not gonna change anybody's mind now about their timeline.

(But I don't personally believe that anybody really wants to argue that it is impossible for the best player in America to have "peaked" at age 23-27 and then decline, perhaps due to injury or general wear-and-tear. This is hardly impossible, the varieties of documented career arcs are way too various for this to be impossible, and this group is smart enough to know it. Do you really want to commit yourself to this line of reasoning for the next 100 years? That careers don't or can't have an infinite variety of shapes? I believe that those who make that argument (that it is impossible for Start to have peaked 23-27) really mean to say "timeline." Perhaps I can be convinced otherwise, but not so far.;-)
   134. OCF Posted: September 10, 2003 at 12:14 AM (#517397)
Does anyone know why Tom York, or LF in general, would have higher putout rates than CF in the NA?

I just spent a few minutes browsing around bbref looking at that for a variety of teams in '72-'73-'74. The following is a quick impression, not a study.

The ratio of PO by the LF to PO by the CF varies quite a bit from team to team. Having the two be about the same is common. Having quite a few more by the LF is common.

Remember that each team employed one primary pitcher. Hence, the team-to-team differences could easily be the tendencies of particular pitchers - and that makes a lot of sense.

Some of the time, York was playing for teams whose pitcher was Candy Cummings. Could Cummings have been different that the typical pitcher? Of course - he has a strong enough reputation for being different that we've heard of it.

When York wasn't behind Candy Cummings, he was behind Bobby Mathews. I found another Bobby Mathews year - different team, different outfielders - and for that team, the LF had far more PO than the CF.
   135. jimd Posted: September 10, 2003 at 12:25 AM (#517398)
Base ball is overwhelmingly right-handed at this time. Left-handed hitters are not common (20-25%), and there are no left-handed #1 starters between Lefty McMullin (1871 Troy) and Lee Richmond (1880 Worcester). Bob Ferguson is the only notable switch-hitter until the 1880's. Compare to today's 60-30-10 breakdown of right/left/both.

Left-handed hitters may even have a disadvantage. If you can't get the ball to the outfield consistently, ground balls to the right-side may be easier to deal with than to the left side (shorter throw allowing a softer toss, easier to catch for the gloveless 1b-man, if he isn't handling it himself).
   136. DanG Posted: September 10, 2003 at 02:17 PM (#517401)
FYI, the SABR BioProject has an extensive biography of Harry Wright at the link posted above.
   137. DanG Posted: September 10, 2003 at 02:43 PM (#517402)
Just looking at York on BB-Ref nothing really stands out about him. An OPS+ of 119 for an outfielder doesn?t impress much. He is very low in Black Ink, low (for an outfielder) in Grey Ink as well.

He did have a long career, 14 years as a regular, and he was one of the top walking men of his day.

The pennants added rankings are conflicting. The aWS ranking has him ballot-worthy, between Stovey and Duffy. The aWARP3 ranking has him 15 slots lower, between Jones and Tiernan.

IMO, even if it can be shown that he truly was a Grade A fielder, he still doesn?t quite break through the outfield crowd to get a spot on the ballot.
   138. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 02:51 PM (#517403)
11. Bid McPhee - Van Haltren in an easier league, tougher position but not an indispensible one. Had been overrated.

Howie, how is McPhee remotely Van Haltren? There are at least five guys who played centerfield during the 19th century who were much better than Van Haltren. McPhee, OTOH, is king of second basemen for that century and holds the title until Nap sails by him at the beginning of the next century.
   139. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2003 at 03:46 PM (#517404)
Senor Murphy,
   140. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 04:07 PM (#517405)
Senor Murphy

My "Latin" side is Italian, so please greet me as Signor Murphy. :-)

Second basemen don't exactly deserve a "catcher-like" upgrade for defense at that time.

Not a catcher-like upgrade, but the average second baseman (or shortstop and third baseman) had abridged careers compared to the outfielders. McPhee's eighteen years as second is much more impressive than Van Haltren's seventeen.

I think McPhee still beats Van Haltren quite easily even without an upgrade, BTW.

McPhee's claim to fame comes from longevity and from playing in an "easy" league for much of his career.

I give a discount for McPhee's AA years.

But I'm open to a change of heart, of course. I have "AA" Stovey fairly high. I'm just convinced that a hitter with good stats is a good hitter; a fielder with good stats, not as much.

You and I both have franchises during the 19th century. We have exactly league-average players at every position, except you have Van Haltren in center, while I have McPhee at second. Who is going to win more games? Moi. Bid was much better than the average player at his position than Rip was. When you factor in that McPhee was playing a position with a much higher attrition rate, the difference between the two men increases.
   141. KJOK Posted: September 10, 2003 at 04:36 PM (#517406)
Interesting Item from the Baseball Primer Website:

"...the 2.0 version of the player cards, which have not yet gone onto the Net. The most significant changes are in the fielding side; in particular, I am a LOT happier with the way the 2003 version of fielding handles outfield defense."

Not sure exactly what this means, but from the context of the article it appears that one of the fielding changes will be a decrease in fielding runs for outfielders...
   142. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:08 PM (#517407)
Not to make this a "Menckel and Murphy show," so I'll just say that only Delahanty, Start, McVey, and Galvin are virtually guaranteed to remain ahead of McPhee next time around. The next group, which includes McPhee, is close, in my mind...
   143. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:08 PM (#517408)
Not to make this a "Menckel and Murphy show," so I'll just say that only Delahanty, Start, McVey, and Galvin are virtually guaranteed to remain ahead of McPhee next time around. The next group, which includes McPhee, is close, in my mind...
   144. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:13 PM (#517409)
Not to make this a "Menckel and Murphy show,"

The new M&M boys!

Okay, maybe not. :-)
   145. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:14 PM (#517410)
BTW, why do you get top billing? :-(
   146. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:18 PM (#517411)
I'll just say that only Delahanty, Start, McVey, and Galvin are virtually guaranteed to remain ahead of McPhee next time around.

I think Start has to go in as soon as possible so that Marc doesn't spontaneously combust because of his absence from the HoM. :-)
   147. Chris Cobb Posted: September 10, 2003 at 05:34 PM (#517413)
I want to foreground a point John has just made in supporting Bid McPhee in order to ask a more general question:

Not a catcher-like upgrade, but the average second baseman (or shortstop and third baseman) had abridged careers compared to the outfielders. McPhee's eighteen years as second is much more impressive than Van Haltren's seventeen.

To what extent do infielders in this era need to be evaluated by a different standard than outfielders do?

Is the "outfield glut" a function of an unusual concentration of outfield talent, or is it a function of the fact that the infielders of the 1890s were getting the crap beaten out of them by baserunners and so had fewer big seasons and tended to have shorter careers?

If there is a different standard, can it be quantified in some way? I decided it didn't make sense to have 8 or 9 outfielders on my ballot, so I gave places to infielders whose numbers were less impressive, but I don't have any systematic grasp of the extent to which infielders' careers were shorter. Anyone have any info on this?

Although I voted with the majority who see a lot of ballot-worthy outfielders right now, I'm concerned that we're missing something important that John, as FO infielders, is bringing to our attention.
   148. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 07:05 PM (#517414)
If there is a different standard, can it be quantified in some way?

I'm working on an exact model as we speak. Actually, I've been working on it for the past few months (same with a few other projects), but time has been fleeting. :-( I'll be glad to share my findings as soon as they are ready.

For the time being, Jason Korval's proposal to check to see if each position is getting a fair shake on your ballot should work fine.
   149. OCF Posted: September 10, 2003 at 07:24 PM (#517415)
Is the "outfield glut" a function of an unusual concentration of outfield talent, or is it a function of the fact that the infielders of the 1890s were getting the crap beaten out of them by baserunners and so had fewer big seasons and tended to have shorter careers?

There's a point here, but on the whole, I'm not worried. Bill Dahlen has been a shortstop now for 18 years. George Davis has been playing for 19 years, quite a bit of it at SS. Jimmy Collins has been playing 3B for 14 years. Now Dahlen, Davis, and Collins all batted about .217 last year and are clearly at or near the end of the line. But Nap Lajoie has been playing for 13 years, mostly at 2B, and has a lot left in the tank. And then there's that guy in Pittsburgh who just had the year with 205 OPS+ and how many WS?

One hint that there might be a point is the curious careers of both Davis and Wagner (and I think someone else, although I can't remember the name) who started out as outfielders and wound up at SS. It may be that in the heydey of the Orioles in the mid-90's, life was indeed brutal enough for infielders that it may have been prudent to get a franchise player like Davis or Wagner out of the way, and when the game started to get cleaner, they could afford to come in to where their defensive skills would have more value. But Dahlen played SS for the whole decade and he lasted. And how good is the supply of outfielders for whom the heart of their careers lie in the 1900's?
   150. Marc Posted: September 10, 2003 at 07:28 PM (#517416)
John, I don't spontaneously combust when my favorite players fail to get elected. But...it just strikes me oddly when a player is downgraded on the basis of a rationale that is not also applied equally to other playes--e.g. Start (declined after age 28) vs. 100 other players who did the same, or Start (can't document the '60s) vs. Grant (well, can't document his '90s either), or Jennings (short career) and McGraw (shorter yet!).
   151. Marc Posted: September 10, 2003 at 07:41 PM (#517417)
The so-called OF glut just means that none of them are really worthy. Delahanty stands out--not part of the glut. But who else would any of us fall on our swords for?

PS. There's a similar AA glut, though a lot less glut-iness. Nobody is coming forward from the AA because nobody really can or needs to.
   152. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 08:04 PM (#517418)
John, I don't spontaneously combust when my favorite players fail to get elected. But...it just strikes me oddly when a player is downgraded on the basis of a rationale that is not also applied equally to other playes--e.g. Start (declined after age 28) vs. 100 other players who did the same, or Start (can't document the '60s) vs. Grant (well, can't document his '90s either), or Jennings (short career) and McGraw (shorter yet!).

Marc, I was only joking with you. As a FOJS, I empathize with you. However, unless something drastically changes, Start is in no later then next "year."

You should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
   153. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 10, 2003 at 08:13 PM (#517419)
OCF:

I think it was tougher prior to 1890. By 1890, most infielders at least had gloves to protect their hands.

The other thing to look at is how the majority of players at a particular position fared, not just the outliers (Dahlen, Wagner, etc.).
   154. OCF Posted: September 10, 2003 at 09:01 PM (#517420)
John - why are we talking about a "glut"? Because at the moment, more outfielders than infielders are drawing considerable support for the HoM. None of the these guys look like the majority of players at their positions - they're all far better than average. If they weren't, they wouldn't be gettng votes. I was just pointing out that we're going to have a good supply of infield candidates pretty soon. On the other hand, I think we do realize that Stovey, Browning, Thompson, Duffy, Ryan, Van Haltren, Kelley, Keeler, and Burkett can't all be in the HoM.
   155. MattB Posted: September 10, 2003 at 11:40 PM (#517421)
Marc wrote:

"PS. There's a similar AA glut, though a lot less glut-iness. Nobody is coming forward from the AA because nobody really can or needs to."

On the other hand . . . if you accept that, at least in 1887, the AA and NL were of comparable quality (within a few percentage points either way), what are the odds that one of those leagues (the NL) would have HoMers Anson Brouthers Clarkson Connor Ewing Glasscock Gore Hines Keefe Kelly O'Rourke Radbourn Richardson Sutton Ward and White while the other league would not have a single HoMer. If the 16 best were all in one league, how do they come out comparable at all?

That alone is reason enough to reconsider guys like Stovey, McPhee, Caruthers, Pete Browning, and Charlie Jones.
   156. Marc Posted: September 11, 2003 at 12:24 AM (#517422)
MattB, because we don't pick HoMers on the basis of one year.

>Anson Brouthers Clarkson Connor Ewing Glasscock Gore Hines Keefe Kelly
   157. jimd Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:20 AM (#517424)
Part of this AA "discrimination" is an illusion caused by a couple of factors:

1) All of the HOM'ers named for 1887 that are position players were established regulars before the AA got started. The AA did not "raid" the NL, preferring to build from scratch, so the AA did not acquire any of these veteran stars.

2) There appears to be a "talent valley" from 1882 to 1886 or so. The NL is not breaking in many solid HOM candidates during this period either. NL players with 10 years as a regular starting during this period are: Pfeffer, Radford, Germany Smith, Clements, Thompson, Nash, and Ryan. Not a big harvest for 5 years. Things start to pick up in 87-88 with Daly, Tiernan, Delahanty, Duffy, Van Haltren, Beckley, Hoy.
   158. jimd Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:31 AM (#517425)
Joe, I think the USFL comparison is harsh. I look at it as more like the NFL and AFL. The AFL built itself to a rough parity by the end of the 1960's, but they still hadn't completely caught up (despite two SuperBowl wins).

I think the AA would have caught up if the NL didn't raid half of the league between 1887-1890 (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Cincinnati). After the merger in 1892, the 12 team NL consisted of 4 teams that were in the NL as of 1886, 4 AA teams that switched, and 4 AA teams that merged. It's roots were predominantly AA, because the AA had the bigger markets as of 1883. In a sense, the AA lost all of the battles and it's identity, but still won the war due to its market superiority.
   159. KJOK Posted: September 11, 2003 at 05:45 AM (#517426)
"KJOK -- is there an ETA for when the updated numbers will be on the website? That could have a major effect on the rankings. Not to mention that I'm going to have to re-input all of the stats for Pennants Added . ."

No mention. I'd guess that the updated numbers will be posted when they have the 2003 season numbers ready.
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