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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, December 22, 2003

1917 Ballot Discussion

Cy Young and Fred Clarke head the new eligibles.

This election won’t start until January 5, so take your time discussing.

Let me know if you’d like to open any other threads for discussion over the holidays, and a Happy Holidays to all of you too!

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 22, 2003 at 09:41 PM | 125 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. ronw Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:06 PM (#520228)
Is Cy Young the best player in the history of eligible players up to this point? (Remember, Wagner is not an option for a few years, but in 1917, he is probably considered the greatest player ever, for good reason.)
   2. Brad G. Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:16 PM (#520229)
I was thinking the same thing, and yes, I believe he is the greatest of the eligibles so far, regardless of position.
   3. Marc Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:23 PM (#520230)
Prelim.

1. Cy Young
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:33 PM (#520231)
Has there been a unanimous selection voted to the HoM yet?

Nope. Cy should be our first one (though I thought Dan Brouthers and Kid Nichols would receive the honor, too).

As for Clarke, I don't know where to place him yet.
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:34 PM (#520232)
BTW, let's not forget the best first baseman of the 20th century's first decade.
   6. ronw Posted: December 22, 2003 at 10:44 PM (#520233)
Has there been a unanimous selection voted to the HoM yet?

Brouthers is the only one to receive all "elect him" votes. (Either 1st or 2nd in a two-man election year.)

BTW, let's not forget the best first baseman of the 20th century's first decade.

Yes, huzzah for Harry Davis. Or Fred Tenney. Or Frank Chance. (I'm pretty sure John is referring to the Peerless Leader, but its interesting that all three become eligible this year.)
   7. Marc Posted: December 22, 2003 at 11:47 PM (#520235)
I assumed John was talking about Harry Davis! Everything Joe says about Chance (well, almost everything) goes for Harry.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2003 at 12:05 AM (#520236)
I assumed John was talking about Harry Davis! Everything Joe says about Chance (well, almost everything) goes for Harry.

Actually, I don't have Chance that far ahead of Davis strictly as a first baseman. The Peerless Leader's catching makes the difference between the two large enough for me to concentrate on Chance instead.

Don't know if he's making my ballot, though.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2003 at 12:07 AM (#520237)
As of right now, I have Tenney somewhere between Chance and Davis.
   10. MattB Posted: December 23, 2003 at 05:19 AM (#520238)
Since I provided a lot of the meat for the bones of George Stovey and Frank Grant, I thought I?d continue for the next main pre-Negro League Star, Sol White, who will be eligible in 1917. No matter what the electorate decides, it?s a pretty interesting story, and worth reading (if I do say so myself). I will also post this in the Negro League discussion thread. Information is culled primarily from John Holway's two tomes: The Complete Book of Baseball Negro Leagues and Blackball Stars. The second of these books is especially relevant to the Hall of Merit, since it is arranged in 25 chapters, chronologically, with one star player per chapter (actually some chapters focus on two players who are closely connected). Chapter 1 is Sol White.

Sol White lived from June,1868-1948, so pretty much saw Negro League baseball from beginning to end.

He was born in Belleaire, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Wheeling, WV.

1883 ? age 15

Sol White?s first organized baseball was for the amateur Belleaire Globes in 1883, an all-white team. When the second baseman smashed his finger just before a home game, the team captain called on Sol White ? a 15 year old kid who liked to hang around the team ? to fill in. The early integrationist Globes captain that year was, in fact, Bancroft ?Ban? Johnson, future President of the segregated American League.

1884-85 ? age 16-17

At 16, Sol White remained a regular with the Belleaire Globes, barnstorming all over the Ohio Valley. These games were widely reported, and little was made of White?s race.

1886 ? age 18

At age 18, Sol White joins the profession Wheeling Green Stockings.

1887 ? age 19

The Wheeling Green Stockings join the Ohio League, and White is left off of the roster. But they were struggling to stay out of last place. In mid-season, the team changed managers, and the new manager re-signed Sol White to play third base. The addition pulled the Green Stockings up to fourth place (I don?t know out of how many teams), and when the season ended, White had hit .381, second in the league only to teammate and future major leaguer Jake Stenzel (who hit .390). Stenzel was 20, exactly one year older than White, and he went on to have an excellent major league career (135 career OPS+) ? HoM worthy, I would say, if he had played past his 32nd birthday. The only other future major leaguers who were White?s teammates in Wheeling were Sammy Nichol and Sam Kimber, which may explain why they stalled at fourth.

At the end of the season, the Ohio league banned black players.

1888 ? age 20

White joined the Pittsburgh Keystones in a 7-team all-Negro League. When his team played an exhibition at Wheeling, the fans turned out and gave him flowers. The league folded mid-way through the season, and White joined the Gorhams playing catcher, first, and second base.

1889 ? age 21

Still playing for the New York Gorhams, barnstorming against white and black clubs. At the end of the season, the Gorhams beat the Cuban Giants two games to none to claim the title of ?black championship of the world.?

1890 ? age 22

White joins the Eastern Interstate League, one of the few that accepted blacks. Sol White played second base for York, and Frank Grant played second base for Harrisburg. They were clearly the two best players, and a friendly rivalry was formed between the two black second baseman. White won both the pennant and the rivalry, hitting .356. Grant?s team finished second, and he hit .349.

1891 ? age 23

White begins the season with the Cuban Giants, but when they fall behind on paychecks, the whole team ? plus Stovey and Grant, jump to the Gorhams, which barnstorms to a 100-4 record. Since both White and Grant play the same position, Grant moves to shortstop, and become the first great black double-play combo.

1892-1894 ? age 24-26

As with Frank Grant, very little is known of these years. White played, alternately, with the Cuban Giants, the Keystones, the Hotel Champlain team, and the Black Boston Monarchs.

1895 ? age 27

White played for Fort Wayne in the Western Tri-State League. He hit .452. When the league disbanded, he went to Adrian, Mich. to play for Bud Fowler?s Page Fence Giants. The team?s other star was Grant ?Home Run? Johnson. In the off-season, White attended Wilburforce University.

Quoting John Holway:

?From then on, White had an odd career. Almost every team he played on claimed the black world championship, and each time they won the title, the loser promptly stole White and won the flag back itself the following year. When, in 1896, Page Fence beat the Cuban X-Giants, the X-Giants grabbed White and bear the ?original? Cuban Giants in 1897.?

I have no numbers for White in these years. He played shortstop for the Cuban X-Giants in 1898 and again in 1899 (beating the Chicago Columbia Giants for the black championship 7-4 that year) and, of course, played for the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1900.

1902 ? age 34

White and white sports editor Walter Schichter organize the Philadelphia Giants. White is player manager (he plays shortstop), and the team puts together an 81-43 record, and claim the black championship of the East.

After the season, White challenges the American League champion Philadelphia A?s to a series. The A?s win both games, 8-3 and 13-9. The record shows that White appeared in the second game, getting three hits off of A?s pitcher Highball Wilson (in Wilson?s one good major league season.)

1903 ? Age 35

White brings the Philadelphia Giants into the white Independent League, and again claim the black championship of the east, but the X-Giants protest loudly, claiming their team is better. A series of games are held beginning September 12, 1903 to settle the matter. Behind Rube Foster, the X-Giants beat White and the Philadelphia Giants five games to two. Sol White, at age 35, is still the star of his team, though, going 9 for 25 in the series (.320). Frank Grant has the second most hits for Philadelphia (6 in 27 ABs), but the X-Giants simply devoured Philadelphia?s pitching.

1904 ? Age 36

If you can?t beat ?em . . . Sol White hires future Hall of Famer Rube Foster to play for the Philadelphia Giants. He also replaced an aging Frank Grant with Charlie ?Chief Tokohama in the American League? Grant. Moving right on the defensive spectrum, Sol White moves to first base in 1904, and extant records show him hitting .258 in the regular season, and 4 for 12 (.333), in the playoffs, beating the Philadelphia X-Giants 2 games to 1 in Atlantic City for the Championship (The star of the series was Rube Foster, who went 4 for 9 in the two games he played, garnering both wins, but White was the second best on the team). The play of the series in the decisive game three when Home Run Johnson ran into White at first base, causing White to drop the ball. White ran down to second as if he was going to start a fight, and when Johnson put up his fists, White tagged him out.

1905 ? Age 37

White plays first base/MGR again for the Philadelphia Giants, and brings in Home Run Johnson. Limited stats are available (in three games, White had a .125 record), but the Giants won the championship again, this time over the Brooklyn Royal Giants, 3 games to none, behind Foster and Pete Hill. Stats only exist for 2 games, and White benched himself for one of them, and went 0 for 4 in the other.

1906 ? Age 38

White continues to player-manage, but doesn?t consider himself a starter anymore. Instead, he takes most of the year writing ?The History of Colored Baseball? when not managing. The Giants lose Home Run Johnson, but still claim the black championship with a 134-21 record. After the season, Home Run Johnson?s Brooklyn Royal Giants challenge the Philadelphia A?s, and lose a best-of-five series 3 games to 2, with Rube Waddell pitching a 2-hitter for the series clinching win.

1907-1908 ? Age 39-40
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: December 23, 2003 at 02:37 PM (#520239)
Wow.
   12. Daryn Posted: December 23, 2003 at 03:18 PM (#520240)
Please give us the top 5 for 1916.
   13. OCF Posted: December 23, 2003 at 04:29 PM (#520241)
For everyone we're elected so far, it ought to be possible to write an argument saying that that that player was the greatest ever at his position or of his type. Believing that argument once you've written it - well, that's another thing.

As a rough guide, I would think of those arguments in the following catogories:

A category 1 argument is mainstream: you believe it yourself, and many would agree with you.
   14. Carl Goetz Posted: December 23, 2003 at 04:39 PM (#520242)
Are they the only 2 new eligibles?
   15. Brad G. Posted: December 23, 2003 at 04:58 PM (#520243)
1917 New Eligibles (from the "New Eligibles" thread):

***1917 (January 4)?elect 2
   16. DanG Posted: December 23, 2003 at 05:26 PM (#520244)
Just two brief caveats re the New Eligibles.

W3 is the old WARP3.

The due date for ballots has been moved back to January 11. (right?)
   17. Carl Goetz Posted: December 23, 2003 at 05:46 PM (#520245)
I thought the whole reason we were doing 2 weeks was so we wouldn't have to adjust over holidays. I say we keep our schedule.
   18. Marc Posted: December 23, 2003 at 07:52 PM (#520246)
Somewhere Joe said delay a week due to intense lobbying. I'm with DanG not so much as a matter of preference (I could go either way) but that is my understanding.
   19. Marc Posted: December 24, 2003 at 01:04 AM (#520248)
So it is official, Sol White definitely is in the running this year??? If so, I take back my "2. Fred Clarke." Not that I have made up my mind, but now there's something to think about. How come we have so much more info. about Solly than poor ol' Frank? I guess it's just that Frank's career came at the wrong time, though I see a blank spot in Sol's career 1897-1901, too.

Anybody want to compare what we know about Sol and what (little) we know about Frank and convince us that Sol is significantly better? This is the gist of what I'm hearing. That Frank is a 10th-15th or slightly off-ballot guy (consensus) and Sol is a lot better. Is that the case that his supporters want to make?
   20. Chris Cobb Posted: December 24, 2003 at 03:36 AM (#520249)
Hm. If we ever get a managers/pioneers wing, it seems to me that Sol White is a must-elect there, but I don't see evidence yet that, as a player, he was as good as Grant. Part of the problem that I have in evaluating White is that, while his _story_ is fuller, his statistics are less so. Grant's three years of IL play give us something of a point of comparison to the ML stars; White doesn't have that much, and what he does have tends to be at lower levels of competition than the IL.

Also, the main "expert" evaluation we have of Grant is "best black player of the nineteenth century," which would suggest that he's viewed as a better player than Sol White. I'm certainly open to persuasion -- there are certainly folks in the discussion who know a lot more about black baseball than I do. But my initial sense is that Grant should rank ahead of White.
   21. Chris Cobb Posted: December 24, 2003 at 04:53 AM (#520250)
Hm. If we ever get a managers/pioneers wing, it seems to me that Sol White is a must-elect there, but I don't see evidence yet that, as a player, he was as good as Grant. Part of the problem that I have in evaluating White is that, while his _story_ is fuller, his statistics are less so. Grant's three years of IL play give us something of a point of comparison to the ML stars; White doesn't have that much, and what he does have tends to be at lower levels of competition than the IL.

Also, the main "expert" evaluation we have of Grant is "best black player of the nineteenth century," which would suggest that he's viewed as a better player than Sol White. I'm certainly open to persuasion -- there are certainly folks in the discussion who know a lot more about black baseball than I do. But my initial sense is that Grant should rank ahead of White.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: December 24, 2003 at 05:20 AM (#520251)
Career votes-points leaders
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: December 24, 2003 at 05:47 AM (#520252)
UNOFFICIAL 2003 VOTING ALL-TIME VOTES
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 24, 2003 at 06:04 AM (#520253)
Nice stuff, Howie!
   25. favre Posted: December 24, 2003 at 06:08 AM (#520254)
WHY I WON?T VOTE FOR BOB CARUTHERS FOR INDCUTION INTO THE HALL OF MERIT
   26. EricC Posted: December 24, 2003 at 11:08 AM (#520255)
WHY I WON'T VOTE FOR BOB CARUTHERS FOR INDUCTION INTO THE HALL OF MERIT

Thank you, favre. You are right, and you are not alone. I have considered Caruthers' career from a lot of different angles and concluded that he was a good (not great) player who feasted on weak competition. He was a regular for only eight seasons. W/L and WARP should not be taken at face value. In about a week, I'll pick apart his case in more detail. In the meantime, happy holidays to all!

(Perhaps we need a Bob Caruthers thread.)
   27. MattB Posted: December 24, 2003 at 03:32 PM (#520257)
Just a couple of points for now:

Nine of the guys we?ve enshrined--the players we say were the best of their era--were in their prime of their careers and playing in the National League from ?85-?87. But it doesn?t stop there. Other HoMr?s not in their primes were also having good seasons:

It is a circular argument that the AA was not as good because so many of our HoMers were in the NL. We elected the NLers based on an overblown idea of how much better it was than the AA.

Of course, he could still hit and pitch in 1888 and 1889...but some other pitchers in the AA could hit, too. . .

Note that two pitchers hit better than Caruthers in 1889, and three hit better than he did in 1888 (in fewer PA).


The problem with defending Bob Caruthers is that it is true that for any one aspect of his career, someone did it better. The problem is, that no one did it ALL better, and the only way to defend him (and, in fact, the way he deserves to be defended) is by looking at everything at once.

It is true, therefore, that two pitchers hit better than Caruthers in 1889, based on OPS+.

Adonis Terry, 129 (174 PA)
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: December 24, 2003 at 04:07 PM (#520258)
Ranking among unelected in a given year
   29. OCF Posted: December 24, 2003 at 04:28 PM (#520259)
Roy Thomas, Ginger Beaumont, Dummy Hoy.

For the three of them, I'll list BA/OBP/Slg as +/- above or below league averages in their context (from bbref).

Beaumont: 1463 G, 6281 PA, +.042/+.029/+.046, 955 runs, 617 RBI
   30. Howie Menckel Posted: December 24, 2003 at 04:55 PM (#520260)
As we turn the corner toward 2004...............

HOMers (31) by position

CATCHER (2): Cal McVey (C-1B), Buck Ewing (C-1/0); see also White, Kelly
   31. Howie Menckel Posted: December 24, 2003 at 05:06 PM (#520261)
Last one for the archives, I think............

HOMers by various eras, updated through 1916, other minor revisions

ERA I: The Pioneers (10): All got their ML start by the second year of organized ball; more than half stretched their careers well into the '80s and '90s.
   32. Chris Cobb Posted: December 24, 2003 at 09:28 PM (#520262)
Joe wrote: I'm also nervous about Joe McGinnity picking up steam, I think Waddell and Joss have much better cases for enshrinement, and are easily the top two pitchers that were eligible in 1916, IMnsHO.

Joe, why do you think the cases of Joss and Waddell are so much better than McGinnity's? I started out skeptical of McGinnity myself, but as I look at the actual value of his innings, his advantage over Joss and Waddell seems clear. He threw so many more innings than they did, and overall at a very high level, that I don't see how either of them has a good case to rank ahead of him. Here's one way to look at McGinnity's durability value for career.

Take each pitcher's DERA (which gives Joss & Waddell a significant advantage over McGinnity) and multiply this by their IP/9. The multiply their IP/9 by 4.5, which is WARP's normalized avg. DERA. By subtracting the former from the latter, we get a number for the pitcher's career runs saved above average.

By this measure, Joss & Waddell look like they are a bit better than McGinnity -- they saved more runs in fewer innings

Joss -- 2327 IP -- 237 rs
   33. Jeff M Posted: December 25, 2003 at 06:15 AM (#520263)
I think we've got to be careful with Sol White. He was probably the first real Negro League documentarian (in the same role later picked up by Buck O'Neill). That sometimes tends to create a perception about his playing qualifications that otherwise wouldn't exist.

He may deserve a spot on the ballot (I haven't decided), but it would never have occurred to me that Sol White could displace Fred Clarke at the top of someone's ballot.
   34. OCF Posted: December 26, 2003 at 06:04 PM (#520264)
How old are they right now (Jan. 1, 1917)?
   35. favre Posted: December 27, 2003 at 12:12 AM (#520265)
On the last ballot I said I had given up on Frank Grant. I have reconsidered this position. I want to re-state the arguments for Grant's induction into the Hall of Merit. I say ?re-state? because I didn?t originate them. I just want to present them in what is perhaps a new way, including objections (which also did not originate with me). I don?t necessarily agree with the objections, but I want to list them fairly. If you feel I have not done so, please write your own.

1. The statistics we have for Frank Grant are terrific. You can find them on MattB?s excellent post (#122 on the Negro League stars thread). We have info for 458 games. In 150 games, he averaged .337 BA, 130 runs, 210 hits, 40 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs, 50 stolen bases, all while playing second or third base.

Objection: We have no real context for these statistics, so it?s hard to compare them with the achievements of other players. Was he really better than Cupid Childs? Hard to say without some kind of statistical context.

2. He played for 18 years, which is longer than many other players on the ballot. Longevity is one indicator of greatness, though not a sole or even necessary one.

Objection: While he may have played 18 years of professional ball, this does not mean he would have played for the same length of time in the NL had he been allowed to do so. We can?t just assume he?s Bid McPhee. Longevity arguments are not as important to voters who value peak.

3. The statistics we do have are from the beginning of Grant?s career, possibly at age 18, more likely at age 21. They do suggest a trajectory for a star player; the fact he played for eighteen years seems to confirm that.

Objection: There were a number of very young players putting up outstanding numbers in professional ball during this period. Too much of Grant?s career is shrouded in mystery to be certain that he was a comparable player to McPhee, Childs, etc.

4. Subjective evidence. One Buffalo writer said that Grant was the best player the city had ever seen, surpassing Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Jim O'Rourke, and Hoss Radbourn.. Sol White suggests that Grant was not only one of the best African-American players, but one of the best players of the nineteenth century.

Objection: Subjective evidence is, by its own definition, subjective. White should be lauded for his history, but he certainly wanted to present African-American players in the best possible light.

5. There seems to be a consensus that Grant was the best African-American player before at least 1900. Fans of Sol White have recently challenged that, but White himself gave Grant that title. Given that there were a number of African-Americans were playing ball, it seems probable that the best one would be one of the top thirty or so players of the 19th Century and, therefore, a worthy HoM candidate.

Objection: The population of northern blacks, while growing in the 1890s, was still not a high percentage of the population. While everyone in this group wants to give African-american players their due, this argument smacks of tokenism. White may have been the best player anyway.

6. The 1880s-90s did not produce a large number of outstanding second basemen. Stay with me in this argument for a second. While Bid McPhee and Hardy Richardson are worthy HoM?rs, and while Cupid Childs deserves consideration, they weren?t so good that it seems unlikely that Grant was their peer. If Grant had been a first baseman, we?d be comparing him to Cap Anson and Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor?those are HIGH standards of comparison. I don?t know about you, but I would be shaking my head and going, ?No, no, it?s unlikely that he was as good as ABC. That means he was, at best, the fourth-best first baseman of the era.? The best second baseman of the period is McPhee; great player, but not so great that he likely leaves Grant in the dust.

Objection: I doubt many of you like this argument much. So what if Grant didn?t play against Nap Lajoie (well, actually he did, at the end of his career) or Rogers Hornsby. That doesn?t make Grant a great player.

Maybe you can think of other arguments, but as far as I can tell, that sums it up. None of the arguments produce a smoking gun that says ?Grant was a great player?; all of the arguments are circumstantial.

However, notice that there are SIX of them. There are six circumstantial arguments that suggest Grant was a great player. All of them have reasonable objections?but you have to object to six arguments.

Now let?s show the evidence that Grant was NOT a great player:



None.

Think about it. There is NO evidence we have that suggests Grant was not a great player. We have statistical evidence, for example, that shows Tommy McCarthy was not a great player, despite the opinion of some HoF Veteran?s Committee. We DON?T have the same evidence for Grant (if there is some out there, please show me). We know: 1. The statistics we have for Grant are terrific 2. He played for a very long time 3. His peers suggested he was a great player 4. He played at a position where there was not a significant number of outstanding players from 1885-1895. The evidence we do have does not raise a red flag against Grant.

Now, there is still a good argument for the case against Frank Grant: we don?t have enough statistical evidence. The prime of his career is simply unknown to us. Like the evidence in favor Frank Grant, it?s circumstantial. The argument doesn?t prove that Grant WASN?T a great player. It just says we can?t really prove that he was, and that ultimately the burden of proof is on Grant to show that he is worthy of indcution to the HoM.

Well, we certainly don?t have a lot of statistical evidence proving Grant?s greatness, though we do have some. Still, to dismiss Grant as a great player, you have to say: 1. the statistics we have mean nothing 2. the fact that he played for eighteen years means nothing 3. the fact that he tore up the IL at age 21 means nothing 4. the opinions of people who saw him play mean nothing 5. the fact that he was likely the best African-American player of the 19th Century means nothing 6. the fact that he played at a position where there was not a lot of outstanding players in the era means nothing.

You might be able to do that. I can?t, particularly since the reason we don't have much statistical evidence on Grant is that he was excluded from play on the basis of his skin color. Grant is going back on my ballot in 1917, and at a pretty high position.
   36. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 02:51 AM (#520266)
It seems to me that some people like Clay Davenport's numbers (showing that the NL and AA were essentially equivalent for about 3-4 years) some of the time, and then some other times they don't like those numbers so much. But Davenport compared a lot of different players to get his numbers, favre compared a very few. Whose conclusions ya gonna buy?

My conclusion is that the NL had more of the "star" caliber players who had "star" caliber careers. That doesn't mean they were better in a specific season than the "stars" of the AA. And more to the point, it also doesn't mean the the average and/or the replacement level players were not the same. Even if favre's conclusions are correct (for those players he cited) what percent of the at bats in a given year do those players account for?

Finally, I do think the NL, overall, was better through Caruthers' career. But "star" players are outliers. They are not defined by the characteristics of the group.
   37. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 03:16 AM (#520267)
Further, for those who are moved by this argument: Caruthers was only a regular for 8 years.

Then you surely will have to be moved by these arguments (or do they only apply to Mr. Caruthers):

Joe McGinnity was a regular for 9 years (favre has him #7, MattB has him #11).
   38. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 03:22 AM (#520268)
On the matter of Frank Grant, let the record show that favre is more consistent and fair. IOW, when he cites the following in Grant's favor:

>Now let?s show the evidence that Grant was NOT a great player:
   39. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 04:25 PM (#520271)
Thanks to Howie for all his stuff. This stood out.

>ERA II: The Multi-League Players (14). Extra options opened up from 1882-91, which served as the
   40. RobC Posted: December 27, 2003 at 04:54 PM (#520272)
Clint,

One big problem with your analysis. For each year, you only compared Grant to one other player. Yes, in 1886 Grant was approximately equal to Morrison (in BA). But how many future major leaguers was he better than? I know there was more than 1 future MLer in the league. Are any of the players he was better than in the HoM? Are any of them close? If all the players he is better than are of the Morrison level, then your analysis has value.
   41. Chris Cobb Posted: December 27, 2003 at 06:29 PM (#520273)
Clint wrote: So, saying that he was the best black player in the 19th century simply cannot tell us very much. In my opinion, it just doesn't constitute an affirmative argument that would overcome the statistical evidence that we have, which suggests that Grant might have been Patsy Donovan, not Hardy Richardson.

Even if the Patsy Donovan comparison on offense is a reasonable one, we should remember that Frank Grant was regarded as an excellent defensive second baseman, known for both his range and his arm. Equating his value as a player with Patsy Donovan's, therefore, significantly understates his value.

We could, however, estimate the value of an excellent defensive second baseman who hit like Patsy Donovan. Donovan was an average or slightly below average defensive right fielder. WS sees him averaging 1.99 fWS/1000 innings. Bobby Lowe was an A- defensive second baseman of the same era. WS sees him as averaging 4.54 fWS/1000 innnings.

Putting Patsy Donovan's offense and career together with Bobby Lowe's defense, we get a player, as I calculate it (doing my usual fielding and seasonal adjustments to WS) with 297 adjusted career win shares, which compares to 295 for Cupid Childs. This player's peak would have been lower than Childs's peak was, but such a player would have been in the balloting mix, although he wouldn't have been making many ballots right now.

One might make two further inferences, however. 1) Grant would have put up better numbers in the IL had he not been dealing with violent racism; 2) his combination of offense and defense would have gotten him to the majors more quickly than Patsy Donovan got there. Neither of these inferences, especially the first one, seems to me to be a great stretch, and if one boosts one's estimate of Grant's career just a bit for either one, his presence on the ballot right now seems eminently reasonable.

To my mind, Grant's upper bound is about at Jimmy Collins level; his lower bound about at Herman Long's. Given the circumstances of his career, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt in his placement within that range.
   42. favre Posted: December 27, 2003 at 06:50 PM (#520274)
Marc:

" But Davenport compared a lot of different players to get his numbers, favre compared a very few. Whose conclusions ya gonna buy?"

As I said, I'm not a statistician. I have no doubt that Davenport did a much more comprehensive study than I did. I'm just looking at the years 1885-1887, and I'm looking at the stars in the NL and what point they were in their careers, and the AA just doesn't compare to me.

"Further, for those who are moved by this argument: Caruthers was only a regular for 8 years. Then you surely will have to be moved by these arguments (or do they only apply to Mr. Caruthers):

Joe McGinnity was a regular for 9 years (favre has him #7, MattB has him #11)."

My point wasn't that "we can't vote for a someone who only played eight years." Longevity is one indicator of greatness; it is hardly the sole indicator, or even a necessary one to be considered great. It is, however, an indicator that Caruthers fails, and is therefore PART of the argument against him. It also means that Caruthers argument rests a great deal on peak, and I think that peak is tainted.

"On the whole, the EOBC have set out to advocate their view, not to inform the rest of the voters. Your evidence will be considered in that context."

Ummmm....I thought the whole point of this exercise was to debate the merits of induction of players tot he Hall. Caruthers support increased rather dramatically in the last election, so I responded. You and others responded in turn. Isn't that the idea?

I think MattB said it best: "A thread suggested by an anti-Caruthers activist may be just the thing to propel him to election!"
   43. favre Posted: December 27, 2003 at 07:08 PM (#520275)
Clint,

I'm sorry if I underestimated our ability to put the IA statistics in context, and thanks for the info you provided. That said, to echo Chris' post, if you use Patsy Donovan as a comp, than we have to make him a good fielding second/third baseman. We also have to give him considerably more power. In the statistics we have, Grant was hitting 40 doubles, 10 triples, and and 10 home per 150 games. Donovan slugged .355 in his career while the league slugged .369. Are you saying that Grant's power was an illusion of the league or park? Also, Donovan's career high in walks was 47. We can't ASSUME that Grant had more walks, of course--but it's hardly impossible that he did. Take Patsy Donovan, give him more power, make him a good scond/third baseman--well, I think he starts looking pretty good.
   44. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 07:19 PM (#520276)
favre, but the "taint" that you put on Caruthers peak years in the AA ('85-'87) does not exist acc. to more comprehensive studies. Yours is anecdotal, as you acknowledge.

If all those stars were in the NL (presumably pulling the NL's quality upward) I would conclude from the Davenport study that the AA had a higher level of average and/or replacement player. Caruthers therefore faced tougher hitters other than the players you specifically mentioned, covering what percent (90-95%) of at bats?

In fact, why not argue (based on your own evidence) that Clarkson's peak Clarkson's peak suggests that the NL was weak? If not, why didn't Clarkson pitch as well in other years? Why not conclude that aside from the 7 or 8 players you named, that the NL had a weaker rank-and-file, and that is why Clarkson excelled? How does Clarkson's peak diminish Caruthers?

And how do we *know* that Dan Brouthers was better in '86-'87 than, say, Tip O'Neill?

Dan Brouthers
   45. Marc Posted: December 27, 2003 at 07:38 PM (#520277)
And finally, to belabor the point.

The St. Louis AA team played the Chicago White Stockings of the NL, with Cap Anson, John Clarkson, George Gore, King Kelly, Ned Williamson and Jimmy Ryan in the '85 and '86 Temple Cup series.

'85 ended in a 3-3 tie, with 1 tie game. Chicago outscored St. Louis 38-36, though both staffs had ERAs under 2 (Clarkson and McCormick vs. Caruthers and Foutz). There were 19 ER and 55 UER. Caruthers went 1-1, 2.42, and hit just .200 but drove in a team high 6 runs.

'86--the Browns won 4-2 as Caruthers went 2-1, 2.42 and hit .250 with a team high (tie) of 5 RBI. Clarkson went 2-2, 2.01 and hit .067. O'Neill hit .400 with 2 HR. St. Louis outscored Chicago 38-28 and this time there were 32 ER and just 34 UER. Unfortunately, defensive errors are not recorded.

Now it is true that in '87 Detroit (Bennett, Brouthers, Thompson, Richardson, White) beat St. Louis 10 games to 5. Caruthers went 4-4, 2.13 and hit .255 with 3 RBI. Detroit hit .275, St. Louis hit .276. The ERAs are 2.32 and 2.38. Detroit outscored St. Louis 39-20...on UER. The main difference between the two in 15 games was defense.

In '88 the NY Giants beat St. Louis 6 games to 4. Caruthers was gone. The difference was that the Browns' #1 pitcher, Icebox Chamberlain, got lit up in 5 starts.

In '89 and '90 the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Caruthers lost as the AA champ (6 games to 3 to the Giants) and tied as the NL champ (3-3-1 vs. Louisville AA) the Temple series. Caruthers was not a big factor.

Over the course of 7 series, the NL won 33 games, the AA 22. This could be interpreted either way. If you want to attach a lot of significance to the NL's .600 win pct., then you've got to acknowledge that during the period in question ('85-'88) the AA and specifically the Browns were highly competitive with the NL's best. In '86 the White Stockings only hit .195 against Caruthers (26 IP) and Foutz (15 IP).

I know. Small sample. But I'm trying to break out of that closed loop to get some sense of how the two leagues compared. This at least is something.
   46. OCF Posted: December 28, 2003 at 01:36 PM (#520278)
Showing games played, BA/OBP/Slg as +/- versus context, and career OPS+:

Frank Chance 1287G +.032/+.066/+.053 135
   47. Howie Menckel Posted: December 28, 2003 at 02:58 PM (#520279)
Yes, Beckley is yet another interesting conundrum. He's dropping in the polls but still has significant support, and frankly he'll be the best 1B we have to look at for a very long time.
   48. Marc Posted: December 28, 2003 at 05:31 PM (#520280)
Not that it's the whole "solution" to the 1B conundrum, there is however that crazy little thing called peak.
   49. Howie Menckel Posted: December 29, 2003 at 12:21 AM (#520283)
Mr. Thurmer, welcome.
   50. Marc Posted: December 29, 2003 at 01:39 AM (#520284)
George, you certainly had the highest peak of any SS at least through 1895ish or perhaps after 1900. But Dickey Pearce may have had more career value if you can figure out how to normalize pre-'71 seasons.
   51. RobC Posted: December 29, 2003 at 03:26 AM (#520286)
H. Thurmer,

Cy Young isnt good enough to make your ballot? or Fred Clarke? You ballot is so 1916.
   52. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: December 29, 2003 at 06:22 AM (#520288)
I apologize in advance for the length.

Re: the early 20th century pitching glut of Willis, Joss, McGinnity, & Waddell (plus Griffith because I'm interested in him).

These are a bunch of guys who are all really good, but none really stand out much. So I did a little bit of research into these guys. I went through the gamelogs at retrosheet from 1901-onward to see how well they did in big games. For purposes of this study, big games are when a pitcher starts for against a team that ends up within 10 games of first place during a year when his own team finishes within 10 games. In short, it's how a guy does in seasons where his team's in a pennant race against the competing teams.

DISCLAIMER: All W/L totals listed in this post will NOT be the pitcher's individual W/L totals. I don't know what those are. They are the W/L totals for his team when he started. But, given the time period we're talking about here, there's minimal difference between the starter's W/L total & his team's in these games.

Here's the short answer to how these pitchers did in these big games. Here's their W/L record with their Run Support Index listed in parathesis after it.

Addie Joss: 35-19 (94.31 RSI)
   53. Rusty Priske Posted: December 29, 2003 at 03:20 PM (#520289)
Prelim ballot

1. Cy Young
   54. MattB Posted: December 29, 2003 at 04:22 PM (#520290)
Provisional 1917 ballot:

Changes from 1916 in bold.

1. Denton True Young ? Didn?t win any Cy Young awards during his long career, so that?s got to count against him, but with these new ?sabremetric? measures, I see that the major leagues in something called ?BB/9? 14 times. This is actually more times than anyone has led ANY single category, according to BBref. BBref, also lists an obscure stat called ?Wins.? It attempts to assign to a pitcher a rough measure of his own contribution to the team by awarding a starting pitcher a ?Win? each time he pitches at least 5 innings, leaves with a lead, and his teammates maintain that lead for the remainder of the game. I think this ?Wins? stat has a chance to catch on, although it?s method of determination may be a little too obscure to go completely mainstream. Anyway, Young is the all-time leader in that stat, too.

2. Fred Clarke ? The existence of truly great players like Fred Clarke make me less willing to vote for the other ?glut? players.


3 . Charlie Bennett ? If Bennett were the best catcher on the ballot, but indistinguishable from a dozen others, I'd say, "Hey, there weren't that many great catchers in his era." But when he's head and shoulders against all others in his (and subsequent) eras, I say that whatever stat is showing his unworthy is fatally flawed. Made my personal HoM in 1912.

4. Frank Grant ? As Favre argued, there are flaws with any argument for him, but there simply aren?t any arguments against him. Made my personal HoM in 1914.

5. Bob Caruthers ? The best overall player among the non-Young pitchers, although not the best in any specific category.

6. Sol White ? Directly comparable to Frank Grant. I might have the order reversed, but I?ll start conservatively with him. Successful against all opponents, and viewed as the best in his prime (as witnessed by other teams signing him away after he leads his teams to victory). Those who refuse to vote for Grant because he didn?t make any ?expert?s top list should note that Sol White does make the SABR?s Negro League Top 40 (tied for 35th). The fact that he played until 1911 probably has a lot to do with the view that he was better than Grant, since many experts simply exclude pre-20th century or pre-?League-play? candidates.
   55. RobC Posted: December 29, 2003 at 09:55 PM (#520291)
Prelim Ballot:

1. Young - I have questioned people for having no-brainer guys off/low on ballots, and have been smacked down for some of my comments. Rightly so at times. I have also not been surprised when other no-brainer HoMers werent unanimously selected. However, I will make a statement I wont back down from this time. Anyone who doesnt have Cy #1 this year is either a) completely messed up or b) not voting in the proper spirit of this endeavour. I think if anyone has anyone else as #1, we should consider the possible appropriatness of taking away their vote. Maybe it would be possible to explain a Cy #2 vote (but I doubt it) but #3 or below isnt explainable.

Okay, below is where you can take a shot at me, if you didnt like what I said above. How is Clarke #2? It surprised me too. He has the 2nd best career numbers of eligible players. Basically, it took a lot of things to happen for him to end up 6th. First, he isnt that much ahead on career. 2nd, his peak isnt as good as all the other players from 2-7 (I measure peak as best 5 years, not necessarily consecutive). 3rd, he is new on the ballot. 4th, he plays a position that is well represented in the hall, while Keeler, Flick, Collins, and Thompson all play underrepresented positions. Etc, etc. Basically, every adjustment factor I used went against Clarke, except for one, which is the "do I think he deserves it more" factor. He may move up for my final ballot due to it.
   56. Howie Menckel Posted: December 29, 2003 at 10:31 PM (#520292)
UPDATED

Here's my premise: Rate 1890s-1900s OFs by OPS+. I'll list all seasons with at least 300 AB, but put an asterisk if fewer than 400 AB, or if in AA.
   57. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2003 at 10:41 PM (#520293)
Anyone who doesn't have Cy #1 this year is either a) completely messed up or b) not voting in the proper spirit of this endeavour.

I would like to hear an explanation about leaving Young from the top spot first before I would make as spirited a statement as Rob, but I'm 99.999999999999% with him. There's nobody on the ballot with as much value at his position as Young had.

Okay, below is where you can take a shot at me, if you didn't like what I said above. How is Clarke #2?

I'm with you here, too (and for all almost all the reasons you outlined). Where I differ with you is Kelley over Clarke. Comparable peaks, but Fred beats Joe on the career side easily.
   58. RobC Posted: December 29, 2003 at 11:12 PM (#520294)
Actually, I meant to write "How is Clarke NOT #2?" Compeletely changes the meaning, doesnt it? I was questioning myself as to how Clarke didnt end up #2 on my ballot.

Anyway, I will agree with John on the first point. I will wait until someone explains why Young isnt #1 before I try to take away their vote.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: December 29, 2003 at 11:39 PM (#520296)
1917 prelim:

1. YOUNG
   60. Marc Posted: December 30, 2003 at 12:32 AM (#520297)
I have already said that I would have Clarke #2. But I am now working on comparing peaks and Clarke's isn't nearly as strong as I thought it would be. Very much a "glut" peak, balanced of course against the best total career value of any position player. I think now that it is entirely possible for Clarke to NOT come in #2. Not that I have completed my analysis of this year's ballot.
   61. OCF Posted: December 30, 2003 at 12:59 AM (#520298)
A look at the Cubs - inspired, in part, by a wish to better understand Frank Chance and Harry Steinfeldt, both of whom are eligible for this ballot.

From 1903 through 1913 the NL was sharply stratified. Only three teams - the Cubs, the Pirates, and the Giants - were allowed to dream of the pennant. In those 11 years, these three teams finished first, second, or third in the NL 30 out of a possible 33 times, and fourth on the other three occasions. There were often several teams finishing 50 or more games out of first place. It was this pattern of restricted competition that made the Miracle Braves' 1914 pennant all the more startling.

In the case of the Cubs, I'll concentrate on the first 8 of those years, 1903 through 1910. While they were still a good team in 1911-1913, they had lost some of the extreme features of the earlier teams. The talent core that made up this team was assembled under Frank Selee as manager, but the reins got handed over to Frank Chance as player-manager during the 1905 season, and all four of the Cubs' pennants happened with Chance as manager. We're only going to consider Chance as a player, but he clearly deserves enormous respect as a manager.

In the 8 years from 1903 through 1910, the Cubs had a 797-410 record (a .660 percentage), or an average in seasonal terms of 100-51. They finished 1st four times, 2nd twice, and 3rd twice. In those 8 years, the Cubs led the leage in runs scored twice but they led the league in runs allowed 6 times. Over those 8 years, they scored 11% more runs than the average team, but allowed 30% fewer runs than the average team (in the sense of having a team RA+ of 130). In three of those years, the team RA+ was up around 145. They were an offensively competent team, but their real glory was in pitching and defense.

In those years, the schedule was too irregular to allow for the idea of a true starting rotation, and ideas about how many pitchers a team should use and how much they should work were far from fixed. In 1904, the Cubs finished 2nd in runs allowed to the Giants. The Giants that year got 800 IP from two pitchers (McGinnity and Mathewson). That was one model - identify your ace or aces and lean on them as hard as you could - but it wasn't the Cubs model. In all those years, the Cubs only twice got as many as 300 IP from any one pitcher. They spread the load among 5 or 6 different pitchers. Many different pitchers had 25-start, 200 IP seasons: Taylor, Weiner, Wicker, Briggs, Lundgren, Pfiester, Overall, and, yes, Reulbach and Brown. To judge by their ERA's, they all pitched well. Sometimes you can tell from the stats who the best of the lot is, and sometimes you can't because they all blur together.

I can see two explanations for the success of all these pitchers. The first is that this was in fact an enlightened and productive way to manage a pitching staff - that pitcher arm abuse existed even in the dead ball days, and just becuase some people threw 400 innings in a season doesn't mean it was a good way to use them. The second reason? To quote Bill James in the NBJBHA, "it is imposible to avoid the conclusion that this team won more games with infield defense than any other team in the history of baseball." I see no reason why both explanations couldn't be true.

I did say the team had at least competent offense. Frank Chance, when he played, was always one of the best hitters on the team, sometimes the best. He had excellent on base skills, medium power, and good baserunning. (He twice led leagues in SB and once in OBP.) I'm assuming he was a very good defensive first baseman - that infield just woudn't have worked if they'd had any weaknesses. The problem is that during these 8 years, he only played in 75% of his team's games. (Outside those 8 years, he played even less often.) The others who played 1B when Chance was sitting out were significantly inferior to him as hitters.

One question that I don't know how to explore: which teams was Chance sitting out against? Given the stratification of the league, this could matter.

The case for Chance for the HoM has a number of similarities to the case for John McGraw. Both were major contributors to major dynasties. In both cases, if we were willing to combine credit as a player with credit as a manager, we'd snatch them up in a flash. But in evaluating them as players, we are forced to cope with a scarcity of playing time - both a short effective career and a large number of games missed in season.
   62. Chris Cobb Posted: December 30, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#520299)
I agree with OCF's assessment that Chance and McGraw have very similar cases.

Marc is a bit surprised that Clarke isn't showing up all that well on peak measures. One reason for that is that Clarke, for all his career length and general durability, missed quite a few games during his most productive seasons -- 1901-1909, so his peak by rate is better than his peak by total win shares. Here's a sort of eyeball metric I call peak rate. It might better be called prime rate, but then it might be confused with banking industry statistics . . . I pick out the player's longest period of sustained excellence and calculate WS/162 games for that period. I look at to get a sense of how great players were, game for game, at their best, and how long their best lasted. Here are the top 30 peak rates among eligible position players, listed by WS/162, fielding adjusted, with discounts applied to NA seasons and to AA seasons.

WS/162 (# seasons) Player
   63. ronw Posted: December 30, 2003 at 03:12 AM (#520300)
1. Tommy McCarthy
   64. ronw Posted: December 30, 2003 at 03:20 AM (#520301)
PRELIMINARY BALLOT

1. Happy J. . . OK, Denton True Young
   65. Howie Menckel Posted: December 30, 2003 at 04:24 AM (#520303)
While I likely will stick with Clarke at No. 2, I agree that he's not an automatic there. My own OPS+ charts don't really factor in games missed, and Clarke was no iron man in many seasons. It's a minor tick against him.
   66. Marc Posted: December 30, 2003 at 04:28 AM (#520304)
Ron, I'll bite. Chesbro and Cummings have a story to tell. Not that I would put them in the HoM or my HoF or anything, but they have a story (in Cummings' case, a pioneering story). McCarthy and Comiskey have no story to tell. I would have to say that Tommy was probably better than Commie.
   67. jimd Posted: December 30, 2003 at 04:43 AM (#520305)
Comiskey does have a case as a manager.

4 straight pennants put him in the company of Harry Wright and John McGraw at the time of his election. But, the other two accomplished more as both managers and players. OTOH, Comiskey does have a role in the founding of the AL (and the Black Sox scandal).

Just don't count him as a player.
   68. OCF Posted: December 30, 2003 at 07:02 AM (#520307)
What if you split him in two? Would you have two HoM players? Consider the cases of Cy N. Young, who pitched in the NL from 1890 through 1900 and Cy A. Young, who pitched in the AL from 1901 through 1911.

The obvious comparison for Cy N. Young is Kid Nichols. Since we chopped his career off after 11 years, Cy N. won "only" 290 games - but who else, besides Nichols, has anything close to that? He doesn't have a single brilliant year to match Rusie's 1894, but he was consistently there across the whole decade. I'd put Cy N. behind Nichols, but ahead of Rusie - and we would have elected him long ago.

Cy A. Young goes into the mix with Joss, McGinnity, and all the others that are in our current conversation. Cy A. has a W-L record of 221-141, and his RA+ says that if anything, it should have been better. You do have do discount it a little for the weakness of the 1901-02 AL, but it's still a solid decade of performance. My own take on it is that Cy A. ranks slightly ahead of Willis, McGinnnity, and Waddell - that he'd be the highest ranked eligible pitcher. That's not a no-brainer, but it's a solid candidate.
   69. MattB Posted: December 30, 2003 at 02:57 PM (#520308)
<i> Candy Cummings
   70. jimd Posted: December 30, 2003 at 07:26 PM (#520309)
<i>Candy Cummings
   71. karlmagnus Posted: December 30, 2003 at 08:58 PM (#520311)
Spin bowling is done either with the fingers (off-spin, curling in to the right hander) or with the wrist (leg spin, moving away.) There's also a googly -- off spin ball bowled with a leg spin action. However spin bowling is greatly helped by the ball bouncing before it gets to the batsman (it doesn't have to, but only suckers among spin (slow) bowlers let it get to him without bouncing. The ball grips the dirt in the bounce and moves unpredictably.)

I don't understand why cricket doesn't have a knuckle ball, except that the seam on the ball is straight, which maybe makes a difference.
   72. Paul Wendt Posted: December 31, 2003 at 05:09 AM (#520312)
Chris J #61
   73. Chris Cobb Posted: December 31, 2003 at 06:15 AM (#520313)
Paul Wendt asked:

Clarke was a very good player for 15 seasons: 1895-1909, age 23-37. Is it reasonable to distinguish 1901-1909 as a 9-year peak? I suspect that Win Shares underrates his Louisville seasons: 1895-99, age 23-27.

WARP certainly supports the idea that Clark in 95-96, 98-00 is just as good as he is in 04-06. It seems reasonable to infer that WS is underrate his Louisville seasons, with 95-96 being underrated more severely than 98-99, though it's possible that WARP is overrating Clarke's defensive value for those seasons. If I'm going to calculate peak rate using WS as the metric, Clarke's WS rate peak is clearly 01-09, however.

Not that Clarke's rate stats look bad even if one uses win shares and includes his earlier seasons. I calculates Clarke's rate using adjusted win shares over 13 seasons from 97-09 as 32.92. I doubt that any of the eligible position players who actually played 13 seasons as regulars would match that rate.
   74. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 03:58 PM (#520314)
I'm going to try to get back in, for this one and the future.

Very preliminary (no argumentation yet, I'll get to it...)

Young
   75. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 04:12 PM (#520315)
Incidentally, does anyone have any other candidates for the most spectacular development as a hitter in his mid-twenties, beyond Hughie Jennings? To go from the kind of hitter he is in 1891-93, to the hitter he is in 1895-98, is really amazing.
   76. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 05:41 PM (#520316)
One thing that hasn't been mentioned about Keeler is his ability on the sacrifice, an extremely important offensive weapon at the time which should probably add a few extra runs to his total. As a knee-jerk first look, I used that to bump Keeler ahead of Clarke but I'm not sure he stays there.

I've seen some guys here with Clarke near the top of their ballots and Keeler well off the entire ballot. I think that's pretty wacky... Clarke is a better fielder than Keeler, no question (espite making almost twice as many errors), but he's still a corner OF. In nearly identical offensive contexts...

Clarke 1390 RC 6120 Outs
   77. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 05:52 PM (#520317)
One thing that hasn't been mentioned about Keeler is his ability on the sacrifice, an extremely important offensive weapon at the time which should probably add a few extra runs to his total. As a knee-jerk first look, I used that to bump Keeler ahead of Clarke but I'm not sure he stays there.

I've seen some guys here with Clarke near the top of their ballots and Keeler well off the entire ballot. I think that's pretty wacky... Clarke is a better fielder than Keeler, no question (espite making almost twice as many errors), but he's still a corner OF. In nearly identical offensive contexts...

Clarke 1390 RC 6120 Outs
   78. Marc Posted: December 31, 2003 at 06:09 PM (#520318)
As a person who sees Clarke near the top and Keeler near (or off) the bottom of the ballot, I'll bite. I'm leaning away from rate stats right now. I find them almost more of a tease than anything else, they confuse almost as much as they enlighten. I like a high peak but also consider prime and career measured in raw WS and WARP.

For the 3 year peak Clarke and Keeler are close. In fact Keeler leads 92 adjWS to 91 and about 37 adjWARP1 to 32. For 5 years Clarke pulls ahead 159-146 and about 56-51.

For prime, I see Clarke with a 14-15 year prime and Keeler at about 11 years, with the WS and/or WARP/year about the same. Advantage Clarke.

And with his longer prime, Clarke's edge on career WARP and WS are substantial: 428-363 for WS, and 146-126 for WARP (both adj for season length).
   79. Brad G. Posted: December 31, 2003 at 06:54 PM (#520319)
Regarding Catchers: there will, no doubt, be an abundance of worthy catchers once the Negro Leagues start to be considered regularly (about 15 years or so). Catcher was considered a much stronger position in these leagues than, say, left field. As a result, a large proportion of the best players (compared to the MLB) played the position. Am I right?
   80. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 31, 2003 at 08:52 PM (#520322)
Win Shares has Clarke as an A- fielder, Keeler a C+.

A C+ for a rightfielder is actually a good grade for that position in Win Shares.
   81. Chris Cobb Posted: December 31, 2003 at 10:00 PM (#520323)
Jim,

The WS defensive assessment is not wrong, but it may be misleading, depending on how it is interpreted.

The win share grade accurately reflects Keeler's defensive _value_, relative to all outfielders for his career.

It may not accurately represent his defensive _ability_ relative to all outfielders.

It does not accurately represent his defensive _value_ relative to rightfielders, 1890-1910.

It penalizes him somewhat for having a very long career as an outfielder. At his best, he was much better than C+.

Even with his long decline phase, win shares sees Keeler as one of the top 3 defensive right fielders of his era, when he is compared to other career right fielders.

Keeler earned about as much defensive value as he could at his position, but he was never switched to a higher value position. I don't know why. Maybe he was not quite fast enough; maybe his teams wanted his arm in right field; maybe he got established there early in his career and was always thought of thereafter as a right fielder.

If you want to see the full study of letter grades for right fielders who played 1890-1910, see post 169 on the 1916 ballot discussion thread.

Your comments with your preliminary ballot suggest that you look at Joe Kelley and say, "A- outfielder: great!" and then you look at Willie Keeler and say, "C+ outfielder = little defensive value." The letter grades really overstate the difference in their defensive values.

From 1894-1900, Kelley and Keeler were outfield teammates: Kelley in left, Keeler in right, though Kelley played some centerfield in 98 (and in 93, before Keeler arrived). Kelley, A- outfielder; Keeler, C+ outfielder. During the years they played in the same outfield, Kelley earned 31.3 defensive win shares; Keeler earned 25.9, less than 1 WS per season less. Kelley's outfield grade is so much higher than Keeler's in part because after Kelley's defense started to slip he played a good deal of first base, whereas Keeler stayed in the outfield. In 1901, Kelley played mostly first base, earning 2.0 defensive WS; Keeler stayed in RF and earned 3.2, cutting the difference between their defensive values over 8 years of play to all of 4.4 .

During their outfield defensive primes, Kelley averaged 3.90 WS/1000 defensive innings, Keeler averaged 3.12. During their careers as a whole, Kelley averaged 3.21 WS/1000 defensive innings, Keeler averaged 2.59. Keeler played about 2700 defensive innings more than Kelley.

I'm not arguing that Keeler was better than Kelley, but the difference between them defensively isn't large.
   82. Marc Posted: December 31, 2003 at 10:11 PM (#520325)
The other thing I noticed about Clarke and Keeler (see #91 above) is that their defensive WS are comparable. I thought that if their offense was similar but Clarke came out ahead in WS that Clarke must win on defense. But no. Clarke's WS are divided 84-16 (84% offense/16% defense) and Keeler's 85-15. So the difference between Clarke and Keeler is that they were very similar players, I'll grant you that, but that Clarke had 3 more "prime" years. And in the current OF glut, that puts Clarke right near the head of the class and Keeler down in there.
   83. Chris Cobb Posted: December 31, 2003 at 10:43 PM (#520327)
Good point, the letter grades are useful for a synopsis but the analysis should go deeper.

They're also useful because the players are listed in alphabetical order :-) . I have a terrible time finding players in the defensive innings list in the back of _Win Shares_ . . .
   84. EricC Posted: December 31, 2003 at 11:11 PM (#520328)
1917 prelim. Now there's seven candidates on my ballot who weren't there two years ago. The mini-drought of candidates in the next few years will be a welcome breather.

Nos. 1-2 are noncontroversial. Chance makes it because my rating system rewards the high-peak types such as Jennings, McGraw, and Chance. Typical year-to-year fluctuations that occur as I add more players to the pool of candidates have bounced around some players in portions of the ballot where the ratings are close together. Dickey Pearce, Jimmy Ryan, and Vic Willis fall off, for now, due to ballot crowding.

1. Cy Young
   85. Marc Posted: December 31, 2003 at 11:11 PM (#520329)
I've been working on my ballot this week. With an extra week I decided to beef up my consideration set. There were a few players I felt I should have looked at a little closer in previous years, mostly guys like Ginger Beaumont and Cy Seymour who had nice peaks but didn't grab my attention based on career totals. For the most part, they weren't worth the trouble--they had 1 or 2 great years but that's about it.

So my peak rankings from this year's consideration set. This is for 3 and 5 year peaks, taking sort of an average of WS and WARP. The raw peak values obviously provide an advantage to pitchers pre-'93 a la WS, but it all averages out with prime and career values. For those players who had an extended peak of more than 3 to 5, I do also look at a "prime" which for these players varies all the way from as little as 3 years (Jack Clements) to as many as 19 (Cy).

Peak
   86. KJOK Posted: January 01, 2004 at 12:33 AM (#520332)
Jim Spencer wrote: "My reasoning is this: the only differences between left and right field are:

1) how many ball are hit to each side.
   87. KJOK Posted: January 01, 2004 at 01:12 AM (#520333)
Jim Spencer also asked "Are there examples of outstanding defenders who played right field in this era? "

Jim Fogarty and Hugh Nicol were probably the "gold glove" RF'ers in the 1880's. Among players who merit HOM consideration, Chicken Wolf and Orator Shaffer were probably the best fielders.

For the 1890's, Tommy McCarthy made his reputation by being by far the best fielding RF'er.
   88. Chris Cobb Posted: January 01, 2004 at 05:05 PM (#520337)
Now for the newcomer Mr. Clarke . . . I second the views of those who urge caution based upon his peak numbers. He?s behind the Kelley/Duffy/Flick trio on every peak measure. By the Bill James peak measure, he?s a lowly seventh out of nine. If you use five- and seven-year nonconsecutive measures, he does better ? he?s fourth on both lists. But his peak leaves a little to be desired. I?ll have him in the middle of my ballot after Kelley and Duffy (who are already in my personal HoM) and Flick (who should go in this year). The question is whether he?ll beat out Keeler.

The arguments that support this evaluation of Clarke are misguided. Clint gives us peak value sliced up many different ways, and all show that Clark's peak is not as good as Duffy's Flick's, or Kelley's. True indeed. But there are two serious problems with using this as a basis for ranking any of these three players ahead of Clark.

First, Clark's career value is much better than any of theirs. Clarke earned 19% more WS than Kelley, who has the highest total of the three. On Clarke's worst placement, five-year consecutive peak, he is only 14% behind the leader, Kelley.

Second, Clint has neglected to look at rate stats. It appears that Clarke was injured midway through a tremendous 1903 season, which would be the third year of his three-year peak. He did not return to the level of play that he achieved in 1901-1903 until 1907, but then he had another three great years. So he doesn't do as well on peak measures because of the injury, but if you look at his rate stats, you'll see that at his best he was as good as or better than the players who do so well on peak measures. Here are four rate slices.

Career Rate (taken from NBJHBA)

1) Flick 31.80 -- 1482 games
   89. OCF Posted: January 01, 2004 at 06:41 PM (#520338)
Craig B. said:

<i>In nearly identical offensive contexts...

Clarke 1390 RC 6120 Outs
   90. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 01, 2004 at 10:36 PM (#520339)
I don't think the offensive contexts qualify as "nearly identical".

Weighted (by in-season PA), park-adjusted league averages during the careers of Keeler and Clarke (Avg/OBP/SLG/OPS)

Keeler .280/.341/.368/.708

Clarke .275/.340/.361/.701

Nearly identical.
   91. OCF Posted: January 02, 2004 at 03:17 AM (#520340)
One question, Craig: Where are you getting those RC estimates from? I was working from a STATS Inc. handbook, and the RC as calculated there are 1594 for Keeler and 1676 for Clarke. I was also using park factors from that handbook, which might be different than the park factors you used. (I never really understood bbref's "offensive" and "defensive" park factors.) I think the difference between our conclusions is an accumulation of little things that mostly point in the same direction.

There's also the difference between Clarke and Keeler that most of Keeler's best years are in higher-run environments while a greater fraction of Clarke's best years are in lower-run environments. Is being 50 runs better than league average in 1902 worth as much as being 70 runs better than average in 1897? (Clarke was 50 runs better than average in 1902; Keeler was actually 80 runs better than average in 1897, but that wasn't exactly his typical year.)
   92. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 02, 2004 at 04:52 PM (#520341)
Mentioned this on the pitchers thread, but I changed (& IMHO improved) how I used my run support info to adjust a pitcher's W/L totals. First, pythag two different things: A) What a pitcher's W/L record would be based on his actual RA/9 IP if he had league average run support his entire career, and B) pythag using his actual RA/9IP & his actual run support. Figure the difference between the two pythags & apply that difference to his actual win loss totals. So a pitcher who won 15 more games with his actual run support pythag than his league average run support pythag would have 15 wins converted into losses in his career record.

Here's the W/L records for turn-of-the-century pitchers using this new system. (Note: I only have run support infro from 1901-2002, so any pre-1901 info hasn't been adjusted):

Cy Young: 518-309 (+7)
   93. OCF Posted: January 02, 2004 at 11:19 PM (#520343)
All this waiting for balloting to open again, and I've been staying away from the 2004 HoF thead because I feel disoriented without the historical context and voting structure of the HoM. So I prepared a preliminary ballot. There have been some changes since my last one.

1. (new) - some pitcher with a bunch of wins.
   94. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 03, 2004 at 12:30 AM (#520344)
All my data is from bbref, and frankly I hadn't thought that the data might be flawed. I need to reconsider that.
   95. OCF Posted: January 03, 2004 at 01:17 AM (#520345)
Another moment for leadoff hitters: a quick look at the black/gray ink of Roy Thomas and Topsy Hartsel, looking at the categories that matter the most for a leadoff hitter. This is rank in league, and for most of their careers, they weren't in the same league:

Hartsel:
   96. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: January 03, 2004 at 01:23 AM (#520346)
I'm reposting this from the Negro League player thread:

Posted 10:06 p.m., January 1, 2004 (#151) - James Newburg
   97. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: January 03, 2004 at 01:32 AM (#520347)
Also, the pertinent part of the HOM Constitution that discusses player-managers:

Accomplishments by the teams that the player managed should not be given consideration (unless he was the team?s player-manager).

Emphasis, as they say, is mine.
   98. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 03, 2004 at 01:59 AM (#520348)
Provisional ballot:

1. Cy Young (new). He's the two best pitchers on the ballot.
   99. Marc Posted: January 03, 2004 at 04:21 AM (#520349)
As I've mentioned before, I rank players on 3-5 year peak, a floating (usually 7-9 year but widely varied) prime, and career value. This year I had 47 players in my consideration set: 12 pitchers, 14 C-2B-SS-3B, 21 1B-OF.

Current top 15 peaks: 7 pitchers (58% of set), 4 C-2B-SS-3B (30%), 4 1B-OF (19%). Pitchers can and do have the highest peaks at least through 1920 or so because they can pitch enough innings. OF have a hard time racking up high peaks because they do not have a lot of defensive value.

Current top 15 prime: 5 pitchers, 7 1B-OF, 3 from left of defensive spectrum. Wear and tear on both pitchers and players from the left side of the defensive spectrum has already reduced their ability to accumulate value over as little as 7-9 years.

Current top 15 careers: 2 pitchers, 9 cornermen, 4 left defensive. This could just be a function of the particular set of players eligible right now. But it's not. It's normal. The wear and tear on pitchers is pretty severe, but you knew that. OF have a vastly better opportunity to play a long time.

Players with 10 years or more prime: 10 cornermen (48% of set), 5 left defense (36%), 4 pitchers (33%)
   100. Rob Wood Posted: January 03, 2004 at 04:59 AM (#520351)
Regarding player-managers, I believe the intent was to give little (if any) extra credit beyond what the player contributed as a player. Basically the same rule applies to player-managers as to all players. Only efforts that contributed to winning games should properly be taken into consideration.

Any player could conceivably make their teams better on the field by their "leadership" (not necessarily showing up in their personal stats). However, this is rare and the extra credit would presumably be modest at best. Player-managers are more likely to deserve this extra credit for "leadership" (liberally defined).

Personally, I would give Frank Chance among the very highest amount of extra credit of all time for his peerless leadership of the Cubs. But this boost is still modest compared to his personal on-field contributions. All in all, I do not think Chance will make my ballot, but I have not yet fully evaluated all the candidates.
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