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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, December 01, 2003

1915 Ballot

With six new eligibles reasonable candidates to at least get a vote, and two very strong new candidates on the board, this should be an interesting election. We’re also electing two candidates this year.

I’ll have the Pennants Added thread updated by tomorrow night, maybe tonight, depending on how things go today.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 01, 2003 at 05:18 PM | 119 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Jeff M Posted: December 07, 2003 at 04:14 PM (#519618)
1. Davis, George -- Head and shoulders above the rest of the field. I believe he is one of the five best SS in baseball history. Could battle anyone else on the ballot from a hitting perspective, and to play the 2d toughest defensive postion to boot, well...

2. Dahlen, Bill -- I see a gap between Davis and Dahlen and don't have much trouble putting Dahlen second. Dahlen was a better defensive player and logged many more games at the position, but Davis was a significantly better hitter in my view. Also, I think Davis would have regularly contended in the MVP balloting. That having been said, Dahlen was a helluva hitter for a SS, so he gets the nod over my "perennial" #1 Harry Stovey.

3. Stovey, Harry -- I would have elected him way back in 1905. Not quite as good a pure hitter as McVey, and a smaller peak, but a much longer documented career and I give the nod to documentation vs. non-documentation. He was also a run scoring machine with some pop in his bat. I've discounted his years in 83-85 and 89, and he has consistently held his spot on my ballot.

4. McGinnity, Joe -- Solid WS numbers. Fantastic winning percentage and excellent Wins Above Team. Has some nice counting stats and good grey ink scores. Would probably have won 2 Cy Young Awards. I don't have any confidence that he should be ahead of McVey, but I wouldn't have any confidence that McVey should be ahead of McGinnity, so this is how it shook out.

</i>McVey, Cal -- My park-adjusted normalized OPS for him is .892, which is damn good for a career. Essentially an all-star every documented year, and he was consistently 50% better than the league at the plate. Outstanding peak. I have given some intangible credit for pre-NA and post-NL play, but not as much as I gave Start for his pre-NA play (because of the age factor).</i> Editor's note: Jeff forgot to remove McVey from his initial ballot.

5. Bennett, Charlie -- Gets a boost for being a catcher because my rating system seems to undervalue catchers a bit. I've got him about 20-25% better than the league as a hitter, which is pretty good when you consider what an outstanding defender he was. He also has a nice peak compared to other catchers.

6. Kelley, Joe -- Another pure hitter that I show as about 55% better than the league from a RC/27 perspective. Excellent WS peak and good WS career total. Would not have won MVP awards, but would have been in contention for a few. Was regularly an important player on championship teams.

7. Browning, Pete -- I've been on the Browning bandwagon for a while. His suspect defense drops him behind Stovey, Kelley and McVey. A bit one-dimensional. I have discounted his 82-85 and 89 seasons but he proved in the PL that he was no fluke. I think he's a HoMer.

8. Collins, Jimmy -- Fantastic on defense at a key position. I would have him ranked ahead of McPhee, because he played a tougher position and was a better hitter. Among the best 3b in history (though I admittedly see 3b as a fairly weak position over the course of MLB history).

9. Griffith, Clark -- I believe he is the second best eligible pitcher. An excellent win pct on some bad teams. I boost his win totals and win pct by approximately 1/2 of his Wins Above Team, which are outstanding. Has a nice career Linear Weights total also. I'm not convinced he's a HoMer, but I'm comfortable with his placement here. On future ballots, I may close the gap between he and McGinnity, but I haven't finished my re-analysis of them.

10. Thompson, Sam -- Another pure hitter with questionable outfield defense. I don't think he was as good a hitter as Browning. He didn't have an incredible peak or career, from a WS perspective, as outfielders go.

11. Jones, Charley -- I give no additional credit for blacklisted seasons. If I did, he would probably be Top 5. He hit about as well as McVey, with power, but with a smaller WS peak and fewer WS per 162 games.

12. Grant, Frank -- Since our initial discussions, no new evidence has come to light so I haven't really moved him. I don't see clear and convincing evidence that he is a HoMer, but I see evidence he would have been a very good major leaguer. I give him the benefit of the doubt and put him here.

13. Long, Herman -- Not quite the hitter that McPhee or Collins, and not as historically dominant at his position as those guys, but he did play a tougher defensive position very well for a long time. He has a nice WS peak as shortstops go.

14. Welch, Mickey -- Even though it was easier to earn wins then than now, he also had a significantly better win pct than you would expect, given the teams he played on. I don't see him in the HoM, but I think he deserves a spot on the ballot.

15. Hugh Duffy - added by editor to replace McVey.

Fielder Jones drops off the ballot with Davis and Dahlen coming on.

The consensus Top-10er who I do not include on the ballot is Jimmy Ryan. I see Ryan as a good, but not great hitter. I don't see much of a peak as outfielders go, his career WS numbers don't floor me compared to other outfielders and he was nothing special defensively.
   102. Esteban Rivera Posted: December 07, 2003 at 05:25 PM (#519620)
D & D get the top spots this year. Some reshuffling with the pitchers.

1. George Davis - What more needs to be said about Davis that has not already been said. The hitting edges Dahlen's glove.

2. Bill Dahlen - A comfortable second due to his fielding prowess at short. Funny that 100 years later we have our own abundance of great shortstops.

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

4. Jimmy Collins - The best thirdbaseman of his time. Great defense and hitting for the position. Edges out Williamson and Cross.

5. Harry Stovey - More value than the numbers tell.

6. Sam Thompson - A heck of an offensive machine. Reputed to have the best arm of his time.

7. Joe McGinnity - Compiled an awesome record in only a decade and began past the usual starting age for a ballplayer in the majors. The best pitcher or runner up for half his career

8. Lip Pike - One of the best players in early baseball. Definitely deserves more attention.

9. Hughie Jennings - A historical monster for five years.

10. Joe Kelley - His career gives him a slight edge over Hugh Duffy in his debut on my ballot. Don't see the impact that Stovey or Thompson had.

11. Hugh Duffy - His credentials are that he was for a time one of the best players and he produced during the 90's. Then he just fell off. However, I feel his peak gives him the slight edge over Ryan and Van Haltren.

12. Frank Grant - Still believe he was great, it just gets a bit harder to justify placing him higher than the ones above.

13. Jake Beckley - The very definition of being very good for a long time.

14. Pete Browning - Was a heck of a hitter and did it under tremendous duress.

15. Clark Griffith - His impressive record on weak teams and in a high offense era keeps him on the ballot.

My next ten would be Ed Williamson, George Van Haltren, Jimmy Ryan, Bob Caruthers, Mickey Welch, Lave Cross, Charley Jones, Jim McCormick, Cupid Childs, and Mike Tiernan.
   103. Marc Posted: December 07, 2003 at 06:30 PM (#519621)
> >If
   104. Jeff M Posted: December 07, 2003 at 08:03 PM (#519622)
Did someone forget to mention my election last year to Jeff?

Well, that's a little embarrassing, isn't it?

Joe, would it be easier for you to count if I post a new ballot or can you just move everyone after Cal up one spot and add Hugh Duffy as #15?
   105. Chris Cobb Posted: December 07, 2003 at 11:02 PM (#519623)
1915 Ballot

The top half of this ballot was easy; the bottom half was harder than I expected because of the new WARP ratings, which I have used as my starting point for assessing pitchers. I'm far from done, but I hope to have a thorough reassessment of ptichers completed, using both new WARP and independent measures based on wins above average, in time for next year's election.

A few notes on the numbers. Win shares are adjusted for fielding, season-length, and league quality. Pitchers' win shares are derived from WARP ratings, not official BJWS. I've done conversions from new WARP for the 1880s candidates (I _think_ the new pitcher ratings are more reliable) but not the 1890-1910 pitcher (next time). In ranking infielders against outfielders and pitchers, I give them a 10% bonus to career value, which is not shown.

1) George Davis (n/e) 481 CWS. Total peak 89. Peak rate, 93-97 = 33.08. Among top 5 position players twice, at/above avg. WS in 14 seasons.
   106. Ken Fischer Posted: December 08, 2003 at 04:48 AM (#519627)
1915 Ballot

Here?s my ballot plus #16 - # 25?I still don?t have Lip Pike on my top 15 ballot. Still not ready to pull trigger on him. Davis and Dahlen are above the rest. Jennings was the one to drop off my ballot to make room. Still put Cross several slots above Collins but that may change next time.
   107. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: December 08, 2003 at 06:56 AM (#519628)
Only big difference this week is the reappearence of Freedom Bob; I have a feeling by the next ballot he'll be 5th or gone.

1. George Davis (new) Just to be different, I'll say I'm voting him ahead of Dahlen for his postseason heroics in 1906.

2. Bill Dahlen (new) I agree with most people that you have to be doing something seriously odd not to have these guys 1-2. Long careers, good hitters and fielders at the most important defensive position...what else were they supposed to do?

3. Charlie Bennett (1) Still the only catcher within sniffing distance of the ballot.

4. Harry Stovey (3) I think some of the AA discounting is getting out of hand. Stovey dominated the leagues he played in, even when the level of play was very close to the NL.

5. Jimmy Collins (4) I'm not sure what some people aren't seeing. I think he was similar to McPhee but not quite as good, but there's consistency, a long career, good defense.

6. Lip Pike (5) He was a very good played when we have numbers, no real reason to think he was much worse when we don't.

7. Dickey Pearce (6) A star in his time; we just all have to decide what that means.

8. Joe Kelley (8) A better hitter than the CFs, a better fielder than the other corner OFs, he rises above the glut.

9. Frank Grant (7) I like "he was the best black player of the 19th Century" better than "he was great for five years" (see #10)

10. Hughie Jennings (10) An outstanding peak, not a lot else.

11. Bob Caruthers (N/A) I haven't completely worked in the new WARP ratings for non-pitchers, but I did look at the pitchers, and Bob's clearly ahead of everyone else.

12. Jake Beckley (11) Long, decent career may not ultimately be enough to get him in.

13. Jim McCormick (9) The pitchers are still in flux. Last year I compared the number of his seasons in ERA+ top 10 to McGinnity, but after another look a lot of that is due to the years involved.

14. Joe McGinnity (12) He still feels like a HoMer, but I can't justify rating him higher. The new WARP3 doesn't think much of his WS-league leading 1900, I'm not sure why.

15. Jimmy Ryan (13) A very good player, but none of these OFs strike me as special players.

Dropped Off: Mike Griffin (14) Damn my intellectual consistency. Ed Williamson (15) Just a numbers victim, he may well be back.

Sam Thompson & Hugh Duffy: Just more members of the OF clog whose numbers don't stand out. Their dominance in high-offense seasons would seem to be hints that they're not that special.
   108. KJOK Posted: December 08, 2003 at 07:12 AM (#519629)
I look at wins above AVERAGE as opposed to above REPLACEMENT LEVEL when considering a player's greatness, , along with heavily weighting C, SS, and 3B defense, weighting 1B defense more than for modern players, and weighting RF defense less than for modern players.

1. GEORGE DAVIS, SS ? Like Luke Appling ? VERY good offensively, average defensively.

2. CHARLIE BENNETT, C -Comp is Roy Campanella. Until at least Roger Bresnahan, only Ewing was a better Catcher. Look how far ahead he is of Clements, McGuire, Zimmer, Farrell, Carroll, Milligan & Peitz.

3. BILL DAHLEN, SS ? Modern comp is Joe Sewell, only was EVEN MORE VALUABLE defensively.

4. HUGHIE JENNINGS, SS ? Best comp may be Lou Boudreau. Great fielder and great hitter for a SS. Only drawback is shorter than normal HOM career, but I don?t see how not having 5 years of Jeff Blauser career performance added on makes him NOT a HOM?er . MVP type years 1895, 1896 & 1897.

5. CUPID CHILDS, 2B - Hitting value almost identical to Hardy Richardson, AND played close to 13,000 innings at 2B. Comp is somewhere between Charlie Gehringer to Stan Hack. Now that McPhee and Richardson are in, Childs should be in also. Only MVP type year was 1890 in weak AA.

6. JOHN MCGRAW, 3B ? Comp is? no one, as there hasn?t really been an infielder who was this good offensively but played so little. Still has to rank as one of THE best 3Bmen of the 19th century. Would be #1 or #2 on this ballot if he had played a little bit more.

7. HUGH DUFFY, CF ? Strong comp with Kirby Puckett. Note quite the hitter that Mike Griffin was, but played longer. One MVP Year - 1894.

8. PETE BROWNING, CF/LF - Hits like Joe Jackson, fields like Greg Luzinski playing CF. Still has one of the highest Win Shares/Year for the 19th century. Possible MVP in 1882, 83, 85 & 90 - I count that quite a bit in moving him up the OF glut pack.

9. JIMMY COLLINS, 3B ? Ken Boyer offensively, right with Williamson and Cross defensively.

10. JAKE BECKLEY, 1B ? Comp is Tony Perez/Sam Crawford. Never had an MVP-type year, as Black Ink score is only 1!! BUT, his Gray Ink is 165, so he?s the poster boy of being very good for a very long time to be HOM worthy.

11. JIMMY RYAN, CF/RF ? Comp is Jimmy Wynn. Good hitter, and average fielder who played quite a bit of RF. MVP type year in 1888.

12. GEORGE VAN HALTREN, CF ? Almost identical to Ryan offensively, but loses out due to fielding and no MVP type year.

13. JOE KELLEY, LF/CF ? Best comp may be Bob Johnson. Falls right in to the middle of the outfield glut. Never really had an ?MVP? year, yet peak was better than Harry Stovey?s.

14. HARRY STOVEY, LF/1B - Comp is Albert Belle, only with baserunning ability. MVP type years in 1883, 1888 & 1889. Decided Stovey should be ahead of Griffin, Thompson & Tiernan this time.

15. TONY MULLANE, P ? Only 4 Win Shares behind Galvin (399 vs. 403) in 1,400 fewer innings (but still a substantial 4,500 innings pitched). Peak almost identical to Pud?s (183 WS vs. 182 over 5 years). ERA+ of 118 vs. Pud?s 109.

LEFT OFF THE BALLOT:
   109. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2003 at 07:53 PM (#519634)
I don't know, Jack. The Mega Millions results don't come out until tomorrow.
   110. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2003 at 07:54 PM (#519635)
I don't know, Jack. The Mega Millions results don't come out until tomorrow.
   111. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2003 at 11:18 PM (#519638)
It's like banging my head against a wall, but yest, don't you realize Davis was a SHORTSTOP???? He doesn't have to be as a good a hitter as the best hitters to be an all-time great. That he's close, and he played SHORTSTOP is amazing.

Yest, you have to compare each player to his competition at the position he played to get a better idea of how great that player was. Everything else equal, a .280 hitting shortstop is more valuable than a .350 hitting first baseman if the shortstop is the best hitter at his position, while the leftfielder is only average at his.
   112. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2003 at 11:19 PM (#519639)
It's like banging my head against a wall, but yest, don't you realize Davis was a SHORTSTOP???? He doesn't have to be as a good a hitter as the best hitters to be an all-time great. That he's close, and he played SHORTSTOP is amazing.

Yest, you have to compare each player to his competition at the position he played to get a better idea of how great that player was. Everything else equal, a .280 hitting shortstop is more valuable than a .350 hitting first baseman if the shortstop is the best hitter at his position, while the leftfielder is only average at his.
   113. Rob Wood Posted: December 09, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#519640)
This is related to what Joe and John just posted. For quite awhile I wondered how good an approximation is the assumption (implicit in Pete Palmer's positional adjustment to his Total Player Rating) that a position's defensive value can be estimated by the inverse of its relative offensive production. That is, the worst hitting positions such as shortstop are the most valuable defensive positions (first base is at the opposite end of the spectrum).

It is not as simple as it sounds to separately estimate offensive value and defensive value. Bill James' Win Shares is one measure that does not impose any connection between a position's offensive and defensive values. So it is a good test bed in which to test this assumption.

Per my request Bill conducted an analysis into this issue and found the relationship is quite solid. There is very little deviation in a position's sum of offensive win shares and defensive win shares season to season (across positions) over virtually the entirety of baseball history. Equality of values, of course, implies that each position would be of equal value.

Bottom line: a good-fielding shortstop like George Davis who is also a very good hitter over a long career is indeed a remarkable player.
   114. Jeff M Posted: December 09, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#519641)
<i> Jeff - I think I fixed your ballot, you should be good to go . . . <i>

Thanks, Joe. Sorry for the inconvenience.
   115. Jeff M Posted: December 09, 2003 at 02:22 AM (#519642)
Yest, you have to compare each player to his competition at the position he played to get a better idea of how great that player was. Everything else equal, a .280 hitting shortstop is more valuable than a .350 hitting first baseman if the shortstop is the best hitter at his position, while the leftfielder is only average at his.

I approach this a little differently, though it is more on Joe and John's side than yest's. To me, it is incidental whether Davis is the best shortstop. I don't compare him to other shortstops to come up with a ranking.

What I do is recognize that there is significantly more defensive value in the shortstop position than any other position except catcher. So, an average defensive shortstop with hitting numbers that approach the best hitters at easier defensive positions, gets a #1 ranking because he added the most value overall. It's not just that he was the best shortstop. It's that he was a tremendous hitter and at least adequate at the second most demanding position. Good hitting + adequate defense at the second most demanding position = top notch. That's why I've got Dahlen #2.
   116. Marc Posted: December 09, 2003 at 03:16 AM (#519646)
yest, see ya in 1950 or so. I'll be anxious to hear what you have to say when I say that "there were better hitting 1B during his career than Hank Greenberg."

Or for that matter, in about 10 years when I say "there were better pitchers than Pete Alexander" during his career.
   117. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 09, 2003 at 06:04 AM (#519647)
<i>John Murphy
   118. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 09, 2003 at 06:04 AM (#519648)
<i>John Murphy
   119. Chris Cobb Posted: December 09, 2003 at 03:56 PM (#519649)
<i>How can you not think OPS+ is a 'reasonably good eyeball metric'? Sure it's not perfect, but it's better than R and RBI. How can you say it isn't?
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