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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

1919 Ballot Discussion

Sorry it’s late, but a 17-hour door-to-door first day is a reasonable excuse. In a nutshell - roads were brutal, and I have a 50-mile commute on backroads in ice, and that damn new email virus, argh! As brutal a first day as one could ask for.

New eligibles:

ART DEVLIN
JOHNNY KLING
JOHN KNIGHT
CHARLEY O’LEARY
JIMMY SHECKARD
JOHN TITUS
TOM HUGHES
JOE LAKE
LEFTY LEIFIELD
LEW RICHIE
DOC WHITE

Hopefully I get the results up tomorrow early afternoon (I’m working 3-11 tomorrow, 7-3 Wednesday), but if I don’t it’ll be dinner time Wednesday. That’s still faster than the Hall of Fame turns them around though!

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 27, 2004 at 08:20 AM | 216 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Daryn Posted: January 27, 2004 at 02:24 PM (#521126)
Is it correct that sheckard earned 339 win shares? Looking at his raw stats, even accounting for the era, he doesn't look close to that. Does anyone have a year by year winshares breakdown for him? Is it the defense? His grey and black ink are unimpressive.

It would feel wrong to me to leave a 300 winshare guy off my ballot or even off the top half of my ballot, but i don't see sheckard.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: January 27, 2004 at 02:36 PM (#521127)
I tentatively would rate him below Flick-Keeler-Kelley and above Duffy-Ryan-Van Haltren-Thompson.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: January 27, 2004 at 02:48 PM (#521128)
The bottom line on this chart first:
   4. Chris Cobb Posted: January 27, 2004 at 03:11 PM (#521130)
Jimmy Sheckard WS

Year -- bWS -- fWS
   5. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 27, 2004 at 03:46 PM (#521131)
FWIW, Here's Doc White's RSIs & Adjusted W/L records:

1901..120...12-15
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: January 27, 2004 at 04:44 PM (#521133)
just a Flick-er of a chance of that happening, ed.

I'll look again at Duffy; seemed like he fell off the table a lot quicker than Kelley did. 1891 AA was one of their best years, actually, although it's still not comparable to mid-1890s achievements, obviously.
   7. Daryn Posted: January 27, 2004 at 04:55 PM (#521134)
thanks chris cobb for the info. i think i'll be putting sheckard at 11, just behind kelley at 10 and just ahead of duffy at 13. call me oldfashioned, but i still have keeler at 1.
   8. RobC Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:21 PM (#521135)
My first early pass of 1919 has Sheckard at #4. He could end up a little lower than that, but not any higher. Along with him, I will have Van Haltren, Jennings and Kelley between 4-7 in some order.
   9. Daryn Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:28 PM (#521136)
who finished second in 1918? -- my glance at the balloting had it too close to call between kelley and keeler.
   10. OCF Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:43 PM (#521137)
daryn:

It was Keeler second, and yes, it was very close. Including Rusty Priske's ballot from the discussion thread would make it slightly less close at 2nd-3rd (as well as reversing the order of 7th-8th). The player taking the biggest one week fall in the standings was Duffy.
   11. OCF Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:49 PM (#521138)
This may not be the right week for this, but I don't know what the right week is, and I have the quote ready to go.

A member of my family received as a Christmas bresent a book entitled Baseball: A Literary Anthology, edited by Nicholas Dawidoff. It's a collection of things written about baseball over the decades, both fiction and nonfiction.

One item that particularly caught my eye is a magazine essay written in 1909 by Charles E. Van Loan. Here are some quotes from it:

Ask the first youngster you meet to name the two greatest baseball players in the two big leagues. Nine times out of ten the answer will come like a flash:

"Hans Wagner and Ty Cobb!"

These are the names of the two great batters, Wagner in the National and Cobb in the American League.

The tenth youngster may take time to think and give you another answer. If you lift his hat you will find that the youth has a high, intellectual brow. ...

Of the ball players who have jumped into prominence at a single bound, two might be mentioned: Hal Chase and Tyrus Cobb.


[long description of Chase and his early career]

... but when a ball is hit down to Hal Chase, you will see the bleachers come up as one man. The fans never know what he is going to do with the ball when he gets it, but they do know that there will be no fumbling or "booting," but a chain-lightning play directed at the one spot where the most damage can be done. Chase is the personification of baseball by instinct and the most popular first baseman the country has ever seen.

...

THE MAN WHO HITS EVERYTHING

Then there is the veteran Hans Wagner whose big stick has kept Pittsburgh in the first division for more years than he cares to remember. Hans is the last man in the world who would be taken for a great ball player. On appearance, he might be a piano mover. Immensely broad from shoulders to hips, awkward of gait, long armed, and bow-legged, this great German has won his place in baseball by his uncanny ability to hit the ball harder and more often than any living man.


There's more about Wagner, but it's all about hitting - there's no mention at all of Wagner in the field, not even of what position he plays. There's also a great deal about Cobb - maybe I'll quote that some other time.

I'm reminded of a conversation I witnessed about 6 or 7 years ago between an adult who was a long-time youth baseball instructor and coach and a boy of about 11. The adult asked, "Who is the best catcher?" The boy instantly replied, "Piazza!" The adult then said, "If you really understood the game, you wouldn't say that," and moved into a lecture on catcher's defense. Defense as moral imperative - so many years, and so much remains the same.
   12. OCF Posted: January 27, 2004 at 06:24 PM (#521139)
I've switched to a different way of looking at offense, based heavily on RC as printed in a STATS handbook. I'm being more peak-friendly that I was (but no 3-year or 5-year arbitrary cutoffs) and very friendly to hitters in low-run environments.

Like most of the people posting above, I have Sheckard behind Kelley and Keeler - but very close behind them. He'll be ahead of the remaining 90's outfielders (Ryan, Van Haltren, Duffy).

The surprise in this method is Frank Chance. He really was a great offensive player in 1903-1906, especially 1906. Look for him to jump forward on my ballot, even though I's still bothered by how short (in total games) his playing career is.
   13. Marc Posted: January 27, 2004 at 07:03 PM (#521140)
Sheckard and Kelley are indeed very close...for peak. And I'll throw in Keeler just to illustrate why he's not high on my ballot. I know the tabbing won't be good, so the four numbers are adjWS 3 consecutive years, adjWARP1 3 consecutive years, adjWS any 5 years, adjWARP1 any 5 years. Adjustments for season length.

WS3 WARP3 WS5 WARP5
   14. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 27, 2004 at 08:09 PM (#521141)
The adult then said, "If you really understood the game, you wouldn't say that,"

Going WAY off topic, sorry.

OCF, that's utterly fascinating, and a glimpse into what fans (or in this case writers) who fancy themselves as "educated fans" think. The sad thing is, of course, that in both cases the supposed "sophisticate" is the one who likely doesn't understand the game. Piazza handles his position pretty well, he just doesn't throw well. The sad fact is, a lot of people supposedly knowledgable about the game confuse catcher defense with throwing out basestealers. If that's so, the catcher is a tremendously unimportant defensive player. And of course Wagner was a terrific defender at shortstop, a marvelously effective glove man at the key defensive position. Chase wasn't even close - all flash and no substance.

OK, now going back on topic. Let me look at the new guys.

Jimmy Sheckard

I am wary at giving too much defensive credit to Sheckard. Yes, he was part of same marvelous defensive teams and got to a lot of balls, but he never was the best defensive outfielder on any of his teams. (Well, not never - he was in 1901, I guess).

I don't think that matters in the end. Sheckard was a magnificent hitter in several years, and his numbers with the Cubs are absoultely killed (in my opinion) by all the bunting and hit-and-running he was doing. Sheckard's dropoff from an elite hitter to an average-to-good hitter coincides perfectly with his arrival in Chicago from Brooklyn, and it coincides with his sacrifice totals doubling. I think Chance had Sheckard (when he wasn't leading off) making "productive outs" because he had a great eye and obviously good bat control.

Once Chance and Evers start sitting out of the Cubs lineup, in 1910 and then 1911, Sheckard starts leading off, and pounding the ball again, and drawing walks, and generally being the player he can be. I think Chance was holding him back, and while I can't give Sheckard credit for being a big run producer in those years, I can give him credit for fulfilling his offensive role very well.

My rating system rates guys on peaks and careers separately, not both combined, and so Sheckard will be hurt since he had a great career but a better peak (or better great years) than guys like Van Haltren. I'll probably be rating Sheckard on career value (I tend to give high-peak guys slightly better rankings than high-career guys, though). He'll be on my ballot for sure, probably near the middle. The intangibles may push him up to where Keeler is.

Sheckard, by the way, is another guy named after a presidential candidate (Samuel Janes Tilden Sheckard).

Art Devlin

Comparable to Jimmy Collins if you're looking for a short peak (and only in terms of a short peak), but still a good two notches below. He won't rate on my ballot.

Johnny Kling

A very tough nut to crack. If you rated players on their best 500 games, regardless of where or when, Kling would be ballot-worthy. He has a short career, and his peak is good but not amazing. I don't bonus for catchers, so Kling won't be near my ballot, but if you do, and like a peak, his four pennant years with the Cubs are outstanding.

Doc White

May get a good peak rating from me for 1901-1907. I haven't got a handle on White yet. When I do, I need to re-evaluate Ted Breitenstein. I think they'll end up off the far end of the ballot, down past #25 or #30.

John Knight

The Mike Gallego of the 1910s.

Charley O'Leary

The Deivi Cruz of the 1900s.

John Titus

Titus is a pretty good player, maybe Al Oliver, Kirk Gibson or Jay Buhner (but in a deadball context). This is the kind of guy who gets killed by my rating system... a short career, quality all the way through, never slipped an inch. Titus got a very late start... can someone fill me in on his minor league career? This is the kind of guy I can move up based on some dominant seasons in the minors.

Hell of a throwing arm.

Long Tom Hughes

The Milt Wilcox of the deadball era.

Joe Lake

Joe Lake : Bruce Ruffin :: New York Highlanders : Philadelphia Phillies

Lefty Leifield

Leifield, in my opinion, derives a substantial part of his value from pitching in front of a very good infield and a very good team generally. I think he's a little bit better than a .500 pitcher on a different club. I will need to consider his peak, though. Hurt his arm, which is why his career ended prematurely.

Lew Richie

1911's answer to Britt Burns.
   15. Jim Sp Posted: January 27, 2004 at 08:39 PM (#521142)
Jim Spencer = Jim Sp, in case you were wondering.

I've got Sheckard fighting for the last spot on my ballot with Childs, Willis, McGraw, and Welch, ahead of Duffy, Ryan, and Van Haltren.

Johnny Kling, Doc White, and Art Devlin are interesting but not close to making my ballot.
   16. Marc Posted: January 27, 2004 at 09:01 PM (#521143)
PS. I compared Sheckard to Kelley and Keeler because somebody else did. Kelley and Keeler are not close to the top of my ballot. I need to comp Sheckard to the OF who are at the top of my ballot. Coming soon to a forum near you. But I do think Sheckard makes the ballot, probably somewhere in the 9-13 range.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2004 at 09:16 PM (#521144)
I'm reminded of a conversation I witnessed about 6 or 7 years ago between an adult who was a long-time youth baseball instructor and coach and a boy of about 11. The adult asked, "Who is the best catcher?" The boy instantly replied, "Piazza!" The adult then said, "If you really understood the game, you wouldn't say that," and moved into a lecture on catcher's defense. Defense as moral imperative - so many years, and so much remains the same.

If Piazza hit .500 and had 100 homers this year, some jackass would still say he wasn't the best because of his defense.

Good stuff, OCF!
   18. Brad G. Posted: January 27, 2004 at 10:55 PM (#521145)
I like Sheckard pretty much... will probably have him in the 4-5 range, after Keeler, Thompson, McGinnity, and Duffy.

The only other two newcomers that interest me at all are Doc White and John Titus (barely), but I can't see either of them making the ballot at this point.

Incidentally, anyone else get the feeling B. Johnson's losing his grip on the National Commission? The whole Mays-to-the-Yanks situation certainly hasn't helped matters....
   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2004 at 11:22 PM (#521146)
Incidentally, anyone else get the feeling B. Johnson's losing his grip on the National Commission? The whole Mays-to-the-Yanks situation certainly hasn't helped matters....

Old Ban must be in a tizzy over the prospect of awarding his arch-nemesis Charlie Comiskey the World Series trophy again!

BTW, it's the twentieth anniversary since my *cousin Charlie "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy rode a bicycle under a minute.

*He was actually my first cousin, three generations removed.
   20. EricC Posted: January 27, 2004 at 11:39 PM (#521147)
1919 prelim. Relatively weak field. I am biased in favor of "Cooperstown" types, and tilt my ballot this way by using a sabermetric-based "strength plus length" system rather than a "career value" system. Significant changes from the 1918 ballot are noted.

1. Willie Keeler (2 on 1918 ballot)
   21. OCF Posted: January 27, 2004 at 11:52 PM (#521148)
BTW, it's the twentieth anniversary since my *cousin Charlie "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy rode a bicycle [a mile in?] under a minute.

It's not physically possible to do that in the face of wind resistance - he must have been drafting behind another vehicle. I don't think cars went that fast in 1898. So he was drafting behind a locomotive, with his own special (wooden?) track laid over the ties?
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: January 28, 2004 at 12:04 AM (#521149)
http://www.bikereader.com/BikeReader/contributors/woodland/murphy.html

in case the link doesn't work, here's the start...

Never get into an argument about the best rider in history. Charlie Murphy did that and he ended up riding behind a train at 60mph.

On June 30, 1899, Charlie persuaded a railway company to board in two miles of track and run a train so he could sit in its smoke and smut and ride a mile in a minute. It took him 57.8 seconds.

All cyclists have opinions. Murphy was just another kid in Brooklyn, New York, with a lot of talent -- enough to become a track pro and world-record holder -- and even more mouth. 'I was asked to give an opinion of the quality and relative speed of various prominent riders of the time,' Murphy recalled. 'My answer was that there is no limit to the speed of a bicycle rider, that speed depended largely upon the bicycle, gears, tracks and pacemaker. I declared there was not a locomotive built which could get away from me.' Not surprisingly declarations like this made him a laughingstock.

'The more people laughed, the more determined I became to accomplish the feat. I figured that the fast-moving locomotive would expel the air to such an extent that I could follow in the vacuum behind.' Now, a little physics here. A vacuum is not suction, Murphy insisted. A vacuum is the absence of air and therefore of resistance. Murphy had ridden a mile in 37 seconds on a home-trainer, so with a big enough shield, he said, he could go as fast as he liked.
   23. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 28, 2004 at 12:21 AM (#521150)
Howie:

My grandfather used to see him in Brooklyn pretty frequently, especially after Charlie had his legs amputated during the forties. In fact, Charlie Murphy's sister lived in my grandfather's house when my father was a kid during the forties.

Mile-a-Minute was one of the first motorcycle cops in NY and the first cop to fly an airplane in the US

The funny thing is my maternal grandfather of Italian ancestry was a popular cyclist during the thirties and forties in Brooklyn (his nickname was "Old Reliable" because he could be counted on to be always in the front pack).

None of their genes transferred to me. :-)
   24. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 28, 2004 at 12:30 AM (#521151)
Fascinating stuff John? How come his legs got amputated?
   25. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 28, 2004 at 12:36 AM (#521152)
Question (still off-topic of the 1919 ballot, but not nearly as off-topic as my last post). Why are there no HoM elections for non-playing people such as managers, execs, umps, commissioners, or misc. people?

Just wonderin'.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 28, 2004 at 03:13 AM (#521154)
Fascinating stuff John? How come his legs got amputated?

He had circulatory problems from a combination of motorcycle spills as an officer and diabetes.
   27. Jeff M Posted: January 28, 2004 at 03:14 AM (#521155)
How come his legs got amputated?

Because he rode a bicycle a mile in under a minute.
   28. Chris Cobb Posted: January 28, 2004 at 04:39 AM (#521157)
Clint,

These are helpful lists! I would be interested in seeing them with some of the outfield candidates who are not "leading" but who have numbers would place them within the listed group by at least some measures: Fielder Jones, Mike Tiernan, Roy Thomas, Charlie Jones, Mike Griffin, and Tom York come to mind as some possibilities (Elmer Smith and Cy Seymour would be interesting, too, but they have a considerable chunk of value as pitchers). C. Jones and York might create problems of comparison similar to those presented by Pike, but the rest of these guys are in the 1890-1910 group along with the eight leading candidates. I wouldn't make the case that any of these guys are better than Sheckard, but it might help put some of the measures in fuller perspective.
   29. OCF Posted: January 28, 2004 at 04:50 AM (#521158)
Continuing the thought from #33 ... and maybe an occasional non-outfielder, like Beckley and Chance.
   30. DanG Posted: January 28, 2004 at 06:15 AM (#521160)
He's a marginal candidate so it's no big deal, but Lefty Leifield should not be eligible for the 1919 election. From the New Eligibles thread #47:

"Lefty Leifield - Similar to Bradley, but I think he should wait until 1925 (rather than 1919) to be eligible. He retired after pitching 6 games in 1913, then came back in the player shortage of 1918 and pitched very well (107 ERA+, 15 GP, 67 IP). He was still only age 35 that year. In 1919 he pitched even better, before petering out in 1920."

There followed agreement with this analysis of his eligibility.

However, if the HoM Assembled now agree that players with this career pattern should be given early eligibility, I will apply the precedent to future candidates (nobody in mind as yet).
   31. Brian H Posted: January 28, 2004 at 06:34 AM (#521161)
Do Clint's Win Shares lists adjust for the shorter seasons in the 1870s and 1880s ?
   32. Chris Cobb Posted: January 28, 2004 at 06:51 AM (#521162)
Brian,

Clint says in the introduction to the lists:

These lists make the following basic adjustments: adjust season length to 162, and take a 10% AA discount.
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: January 28, 2004 at 03:21 PM (#521164)
What TomH said.
   34. Al Peterson Posted: January 28, 2004 at 04:12 PM (#521165)
Since I seem to have a outlier ballot position for Fielder Jones, I?ll throw out a comparison to Hugh Duffy/Jimmy Sheckard since they are the hot topic. Numbers are from Baseball Prospectus player cards and adjusted for all time (WARP3 type stuff):

Fielder Jones: .283 EQA 297 FRAR 37 FRAA
   35. Marc Posted: January 28, 2004 at 04:25 PM (#521166)
Re. F. Jones, I find a rate stat and defense to be fringe items in evaluating an OF. And the lack of a decline, regardless of the reason, doesn't get any bonuses from me. He's not in my top 30.
   36. Jeff M Posted: January 28, 2004 at 04:49 PM (#521167)
If you like WS version of defense, the Win Shares book has the top defensive players listed by position, by year, and you can generate a gold glove list that way. The Win Shares Digital Update lists Top 5 by position each year so you can see if they were "near-miss".

I don't have either with me at work, so I can't generate the data re: Duffy, Sheckard and F. Jones, but I can post it later this evening if anyone is interested.
   37. OCF Posted: January 28, 2004 at 05:36 PM (#521168)
A list of pitchers. I described the method on another thread: For each season, find that pitcher's park and league adjusted RA+ (park factors from a STATS handbook). Convert that RA+ and IP into a W-L record. Add up these equivalent W-L records over the career. Convert the career winning percentage back into a number something like RA+. I've only done this for post-1893 pitchers. ("Cy A. Young" is for a career that starts in 1901). The list below is sorted by Fibonacci Win Points on the equivalent W-L record.

PItcher___ _W_ _L_ (RA+)
   38. Al Peterson Posted: January 28, 2004 at 07:59 PM (#521169)
Marc stated
   39. Al Peterson Posted: January 28, 2004 at 08:28 PM (#521170)
Marc stated
   40. Marc Posted: January 28, 2004 at 08:29 PM (#521171)
Well, if Frank Chance was giving up Jimmy Sheckard a bunch, I guess it's the least ol' Fielder could do. The idea that your *best hitter* would be layin' 'em down is just something we cannot understand 100 years later.

I even read that a K was more valuable then because it prevented a SH vs. a K today preventing a HR. If that is true, then runs were really, really hard to come by. Besides, the 'hitless wonders' won a world championship. So, yeah, them's was different times.
   41. OCF Posted: January 28, 2004 at 08:59 PM (#521173)
It seems that somewhere on this thread we should have a list in Dan G's favorite formatting. Copied from #47 on the new eligibles thread:

<b>***1919 (February 1)?elect 2
   42. DanG Posted: January 28, 2004 at 09:20 PM (#521174)
Thanks, OCF. Only note that the date should be February 8 (or 9, as Monday seems to be our true deadline for ballots).
   43. Marc Posted: January 28, 2004 at 09:25 PM (#521175)
Do not be fooled (like I was). I knew Art Fletcher, and Art Devlin is no Art Fletcher.
   44. Brad G. Posted: January 28, 2004 at 10:06 PM (#521176)
Hey!
   45. Marc Posted: January 28, 2004 at 11:10 PM (#521178)
Prelim. ballots seem to be increasingly unfashionable. Been there, done that. Oh well. On the verge of some more significant changes due to new WARP.

Five Obvious HoMers (top 4 already in my HoM)

1. Dickey Pearce (2 last year)--1 of the 2 best SSs before Wagner
   46. Rick A. Posted: January 28, 2004 at 11:53 PM (#521179)
<i>Dropped off--C. Jones (7)--better hitter than any but Thompson but what's the use?
   47. Rick A. Posted: January 28, 2004 at 11:58 PM (#521181)
Well, since I mentioned the upcoming ballot, I might as well post my preliminary ballot.

1. Charlie Bennett
   48. Marc Posted: January 29, 2004 at 03:15 AM (#521182)
Rick, I gotta say I like your ballot!

(Well, except couldn't you find a spot for Ed Williamson?)
   49. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 03:23 PM (#521184)
pre lim

I try to weigh peak 40% and career 60%, though a long prime will help a player with a short career. I also like pitchers and am sensitive to position scarcity (Bennett and Collins only make my ballot due to their positions).
   50. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 04:26 PM (#521186)
Just checking.
   51. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 04:28 PM (#521187)
It's a good thing we have perpetual eligibility. Guys like Bergen inevitably take a while to get a bandwagon rolling. In this, his third year, might he get his first vote?
   52. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 04:44 PM (#521188)
All kidding aside, does anyone know how the worst hitter in the history of baseball spends 7 or 8 years as a starter and collects more than 3000 PAs? Good defense, I say.
   53. Brad G. Posted: January 29, 2004 at 05:14 PM (#521189)
For what it's worth, James gives him an A- in Defensive Win Shares (Bennett gets an A).
   54. Chris Cobb Posted: January 29, 2004 at 05:24 PM (#521190)
Bergen's 1907 campaign was particularly impressive: a 12 OPS+? 2 runs scored in 159 PA??

It would be interesting to have year-by-year OPS+ scores (or EQA, or brar, or something) by position for this period, to get a sense of how much worse as hitters catchers were as a group than other position players.
   55. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 05:52 PM (#521191)
It would be interesting to have year-by-year OPS+ scores (or EQA, or brar, or something) by position for this period, to get a sense of how much worse as hitters catchers were as a group than other position players.

An interesting topic. There sure do seem to be a lot of long-career catchers here who were really bad hitters. While there was only one Bill Bergen, other members of the club include Red Dooin (4271 PA, 72 OPS+), Oscar Stanage (3845, 69), Billy Sullivan (3981, 63) and Malachi Kittridge (4446, 56).
   56. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 05:57 PM (#521192)
While we are on the topic of historically poor seasons, who was the guy who got 12 rbis in 500+ at bats in the early 1970s. I think it was a latin american al middle infielder. Just can't quite retrieve the name.
   57. OCF Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:10 PM (#521194)
It would be interesting to have year-by-year OPS+ scores (or EQA, or brar, or something) by position for this period, to get a sense of how much worse as hitters catchers were as a group than other position players.

Chris, I thought I'd seen something along these lines from when I was a lurker, shortly before I joined. It's decade-by-decade rather than year-by-year, but here it is, from the 1903 discussion thread:

<i>Posted 6:37 p.m., June 16, 2003 (#187) - jimd
   58. Marc Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:22 PM (#521196)
Note the biggest D+ is 1B in the '80s and '30s. That suggests to me that we may not be clear what these numbers measure. I mean in the sense of "cause" or "effect"? In other words, are the +13s due to managers setting out to maximize offense without much regard for defense? Or are they due to the dumb luck of AnsonBrothersConnor and GehrigFoxxGreenberg happening along?
   59. Marc Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:25 PM (#521197)
OTOH the largest -Ds are catchers in the '80s and deadball era, and SS in the '20s and '70s-'90s. These seem to represent conscious managerial decisions.And generally Cs in low-run environments but SSs in high run environments. That -11 for SSs of the 1970s looks like a serious epidemic of dementia among managers to me.
   60. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:42 PM (#521198)
Bergen's 1907 campaign was particularly impressive: a 12 OPS+? 2 runs scored in 159 PA??

Clearly, the guys behind him weren't hitting in the clutch. His 138:1 AB:W ratio was pretty impressive too that year.

1911's my favorite Bergen season, because not only do his numbers stink, but there was a big spike in run scoring that year, which is how he got an OPS+ of -4 in 250 plate appearances. Gawd that's bad - (OT: adjust Nap Rucker's W/L record for his run support - 64 RSI - & he ends up 30-10 that year).
   61. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:52 PM (#521199)
Thanks, David. Looking at that 71 Padres team, the secondbasmen (don mason) who is listed on baseballreference as the starter, only got 11 rbis in 340+ abs. that has to be the worst 2b-ss combo of all time.
   62. Chris Cobb Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:59 PM (#521200)
So Connor/Brouthers/Anson get credit for the +13 OPS+ for 1880s first-basemen, and Bill Bergen gets credit for the -9 OPS+ for 1900s catchers?

OTOH the largest -Ds are catchers in the '80s and deadball era, and SS in the '20s and '70s-'90s. These seem to represent conscious managerial decisions.

With respect to catchers 1880-1920, I would interpret the number as a combination of managerial decision and the fact that catchers were getting the crap beaten out of them while catching without significant protective gear. When better gear starts catching on, as it were, in the 1910s, catcher hitting starts to improve. The recognition that catchers are not being beaten to a pulp any more, plus the decline in "small-ball" after 1920, lead to better hitters becoming catchers.
   63. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 07:31 PM (#521201)
<i>Jim Hegan
   64. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 07:32 PM (#521202)
I meant "Jim".
   65. Marc Posted: January 29, 2004 at 07:45 PM (#521203)
>With respect to catchers 1880-1920, I would interpret the number as a combination of managerial decision and
   66. Al Peterson Posted: January 29, 2004 at 08:11 PM (#521204)
Preliminary 1919 ballot:

1. Charlie Bennett (1). Two things I like: stands out from other catchers of his time, had a few years of hitting excellence. The defense, both the numbers and contemporary views, seems solid.

2. Wee Willie Keeler (3). If you're going to excel at one thing, you should really perfect that. Hitting the ball for average, even without power, does have a lot of merit to it. I probably undersold his defense before - seems to be a decent RF. Just barely ahead of the next guy...

3. Joe Kelley (4). Didn't accumulate the career totals of Keeler, slightly better in the peak department. Probably the better of the two during the 1890s with the Orioles. More in the pack with the other LFs.

4. Jimmy Collins (15). Shorter career but at a taxing position where outstanding players rarely existed. Too much good said about him from those who saw him play to not believe his greatness.

5. Rube Waddell (6). Numbers don't tell the whole story. Flame thrower with outstanding K rates. I feel strikeouts are important in the deadball era. Many bad things can happen with bunts, hit-and-runs, etc. Doesn't happen if the batter doesn't hit the ball. His uniqueness for the era is worthy of note.

6. Sam Thompson (7). Sometimes common baseball numbers are very hard to ignore. Sam and his RBIs do that to me.

7. Jimmy Sheckard (-). Very good player, below the other worthy fly catchers who have underwent analysis for some years now. He'll wait for further inspection.

8. Joe McGinnity (8). Workhorse useage allows for a smaller peak. I do give at a little bump for the long non-ML career. Pitching both ends of a doubleheader is cool.

9. Frank Grant (9). Always the tug of war about known players and the unknowns. Frank with his fragments of information seems likely to be a keeper.

10. Cupid Childs (10). Allowing a shorter career length for infielders in the rough and tumble 1890s helps Cupid. Still hit with the best of them some years, regardless of position.

11. Clark Griffith (12). The many pitching metrics presented show he's in the mix as HOM worthy.

12. George Van Haltren (11). The OF glut is still around..

13. Jimmy Ryan (15). A thumbs up for career length, thumbs down for not doing more with that time.

14. Fielder Jones (14). Went out on top, probably wasn't too happy about it. On his managing prowess this from baseballlibrary.com: "An innovative tactician, he is credited with inventing the "motion infield" and was one of the first to position his outfielders according to the hitter."

15. Sol White (13). Lack of information not helpful for this Negro Leaguer.

Others below that: Willis, Jennings, Caruthers, Joss, Duffy, Beckley, Pearce, Browning, etc...
   67. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2004 at 08:43 PM (#521205)
With respect to catchers 1880-1920, I would interpret the number as a combination of managerial decision and the fact that catchers were getting the crap beaten out of them while catching without significant protective gear. When better gear starts catching on, as it were, in the 1910s, catcher hitting starts to improve. The recognition that catchers are not being beaten to a pulp any more, plus the decline in "small-ball" after 1920, lead to better hitters becoming catchers.

Agreed. Bergen has to be compared to his contemporaries. He was not the worst of his time.

But if anyone dares to place him on their ballot... :-D
   68. Daryn Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:14 PM (#521206)
John Murphy,

Who was worse than Bergen?
   69. KJOK Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:28 PM (#521207)
Having trouble seeing why Sheckard's getting so much support. Just looking at offense for LF'ers who had at least 4,700 PA's from 1876-1912:

OWP PA RCA Position
   70. Rusty Priske Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:37 PM (#521208)
Hmmm... I seem to like Sheckard more than anyone else. I will look very closely at him this week to make sure I am not overvaluing him.

1. Jimmy Sheckard (new) His edge on Keeler is tiny. He could drop before the actual ballot.

2. Willie Keeler (1,3,2) A must HoMer.

3. Bob Caruthers (2,4,4) He will probably join Sheckard in my personal HoM this year.

4. Joe Kelley (3,5,1) Should be in.

5. George Van Haltren (4,6,3) My pick as the most underrated player eligible. A definite HoMer in my eyes.

6. Frank Grant (6,8,6) Keeps hanging around. I have yet to find a reason to drop him.

The next group are the boderline guys. I could see them in, but wouldn't be upset if they didn't make it.
   71. KJOK Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:38 PM (#521209)
Preliminary Ballot:

Using OWP, playing time, and defense (Win Shares/BP) for position players, applied to .500 baseline. Using Runs Saved Above Average and Support Neutral Fibonacci Wins for Pitchers.
   72. MattB Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:49 PM (#521210)
Who was worse than Bergen?

Ches Crist.
   73. karlmagnus Posted: January 29, 2004 at 09:59 PM (#521212)
Do you have Flick, and Caruthers as a hitter? Would be interesting to compare.
   74. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:04 PM (#521213)
KJOK's list from #83, with PA raised to 5500:

OWP PA RCA Position
   75. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:06 PM (#521214)
I was thinking Malachi Kittridge, though he's really more an 1890s player. Me thinks he stinketh more.
   76. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:11 PM (#521215)
Fritz (von) Buelow was worse, too.
   77. DanG Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:13 PM (#521216)
Sam Thompson is Clearly the best hitter; slugging almost 100 pts higher than many of these guys. His short career is partly due to his late start, and I think we ought to give him credit for the ##s he quite obviously could have put up if he hadn't been doing something else; sort of like war years credit for guys in the 1940s. It's not like he was in the minors not impressing scouts.

The question on Thompson is What kept him out of MLB for the first half of the 1880's? Was he not noticed due to the poor efficiency of the scouting at that time? Or was he dismissed by scouts as not being good enough? Or was he too busy making a living at his chosen trade to take a chance on a baseball career? Was he injured? Anyone know? Only if it was due to poor scouting might he be given any credit for missed time.
   78. RobC Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:28 PM (#521217)
I think Bergen has to be the most extreme example of Nichol's Law of Catcher Defense.
   79. karlmagnus Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:39 PM (#521218)
I'll answer my own question. Caruthers had an OBA of .391, SLG of .400. The "adjustment" for Thompson and Browning, his contemporaries, seems to subtract 10 points from OBP and add 50 to SLG (goodness knows how they figure out that this is appropriate!) That makes him .381/.450, for a "magic number" of 1021.5, 6th on the list, between Ryan at 1022.5 and Van Haltren at 1013.5. Borderline HOMer when hitting, in other words.

Caruthers had 2906PA, compared to an average 8454 for the top 5 on the list, so you should add 34% of a borderline HOM outfielder value to his pitching value when considering him.

Comfortably above the borderline, in other words.
   80. karlmagnus Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:47 PM (#521219)
Just to detail the calculation. Caruthers is at LEAST 90% of a borderline HOM pitcher (Rusie/McGinnity). So add 90% pitcher to 34% outfielder gives you 124, knock off a MAXIMUM of 10% AA discount (his last 3 years were in the NL, and his best years were 1885-87) and you get 112 - comfortably a HOMer.
   81. karlmagnus Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:48 PM (#521220)
Just to detail the calculation. Caruthers is at LEAST 90% of a borderline HOM pitcher (Rusie/McGinnity). So add 90% pitcher to 34% outfielder gives you 124, knock off a MAXIMUM of 10% AA discount (his last 3 years were in the NL, and his best years were 1885-87) and you get 112 - comfortably a HOMer.
   82. OCF Posted: January 29, 2004 at 10:57 PM (#521221)
KJOK, you don't need to vote for Flick. That gives you one more ballot spot.
   83. OCF Posted: January 29, 2004 at 11:07 PM (#521222)
It would be useful to rerun this list with the 5500 PA minimum

Won't stop me from taking a good long look at Magee.
   84. Marc Posted: January 29, 2004 at 11:10 PM (#521224)
Dan, I don't think Sam needs any extra credit. Here are some "prime" cuts (adj to season length and for AA discount as appropriate).

Thompson WARP 10 years-105-10.5 WS 10-279-27.9
   85. Jim Sp Posted: January 29, 2004 at 11:13 PM (#521225)
1) Waddell?Waddell has a run of 7 years (1902-1908) in which he was blowing people away, striking out way more people than anyone else. Each year allowing at least 20% fewer runs than an average pitcher, in three of those years with an ERA+ over 165. 134 ERA+ in 3000 IP is worthy, his W/L record isn?t impressive because his run support wasn?t impressive.
   86. karlmagnus Posted: January 30, 2004 at 12:02 AM (#521226)
Because Caruthers' replacement was generally Dave Foutz, who went 147-66 with an ERA+ of 124. Pitching WAR is pretty meaningless on a 2 man pitching staff where the other guy was top quality too. Caruthers had WINS, 218 of them, and the 7th best W/L percentage of all time -- and that includes a 2-10 season in 1892 when his arm had dropped off.
   87. Jim Sp Posted: January 30, 2004 at 02:37 AM (#521227)
Two players that didn't gather any votes last year, but I'm reconsidering are Deacon McGuire and Jack Clements.

I can definitely see a case for putting them in the 15-20 range, when you consider the inferiority of players such as Bergen.

McGuire is the first catcher with a long career. Impressing me more as time goes on and we see how hard it was to be a catcher in this era. 1611 games caught, 101 OPS+.

Jack Clements hasn?t gathered much support here, but I forget why. Almost as good a hitter as some of the outfield glut (117 OPS+), but caught 1073 games.
   88. Chris Cobb Posted: January 30, 2004 at 03:45 AM (#521228)
Candidates Grouped by Decade

This is a little study I?ve done as an alternative to my usual preliminary ballot. I?ve divided HoMers, my top 45 or so eligible players, and the best soon-to-be eligible players of the aughts by decade to see if my representation of the decades in the top 15, top 30, and top 45 is fairly balanced by era and, to a lesser extent, by position within era. I've listed some long-career HoMers in two decades. No current candidates are so listed. For each decade, I list HoMers first in no rank order, then eligible players in rank order. For 1900s, players not yet eligible who will probably reach top 30 are listed. Rank on my preliminary ballot (see, there is a preliminary ballot hidden away here) is shown parenthetically after the player?s name.

(infielder = 2B, 3B, SS)

1860s (1 player elected; best first-baseman)
   89. Marc Posted: January 30, 2004 at 03:50 AM (#521229)
I am not anti-McGuire or Clements, hell, I'm not anti-John Clapp. Clapp was the Johnny Kling of the '70s. But until Bennett is elected I can't think about other pre-Mickey Cochrane catchers. Certainly not Schalkie and no, not even Roger the Dodger Bresnahan.

Bennett played 15 years, 6 at 80+ games which was pretty much "regular" at the time and hardly played a game other than at catcher (OK, 108 games in 15 years).

Bresnahan played 17 years but 1 year as a pitcher with 6 appearances and another year of 1 game at catcher. So, really, 15 years, and 450 games not at catcher.

Both caught about 950 games in essentially 15 years or 64-65 games a year. Big difference between the two--Roger played an additional 450 games for an average of about 95 a year. Charlie didn't, but then
   90. OCF Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:28 AM (#521230)
Chris Cobb (#104): Great post! I disagree with you in a few places, but the disagreements are quite minor compared to the level of agreement. What this does is to highlight that quite a few of the differences between voters have less to to with placement within the decades you have and more to do with how to place the list from one decade against the list from another decade.
   91. OCF Posted: January 30, 2004 at 05:23 AM (#521231)
28. Vic Willis ? ninth best pitcher (not in top 31)

Chris: Since you don't name a 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th best pitcher of the 1890's, should we assume that you really meant to call Willis the ninth best pitcher of the 1900's (behind the eigth best, Joss)? It doesn't quite make sense the way you have it.

Since I actually have Willis on my ballot, that's one of minor disagreements I referred to in #106.
   92. Chris Cobb Posted: January 30, 2004 at 05:58 AM (#521232)
Chris: Since you don't name a 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th best pitcher of the 1890's, should we assume that you really meant to call Willis the ninth best pitcher of the 1900's (behind the eigth best, Joss)? It doesn't quite make sense the way you have it.

Good catch; I have placed Willis in the wrong decade: he should indeed be listed as the ninth-best pitcher of the aughts. I am not certain who actually is the fifth-best pitcher of the 1890s.

Of all the rankings I've listed, my ranking of 1900s pitchers is the one about which I am least certain (after the 4th and 5th best players of the 1860s, I suppose). Willis _was_ durable, so I can see arguments for placing him as high as fifth among the decade's pitchers. Aside from durability, he doesn't have a lot to recommend him. As I see it, he has by far the lowest peak value of any post-1893 pitcher receiving serious consideration. Although his run support was quite bad during his later years in Boston, his fielding support was good to great for his whole career, so I think a good bit of his RA+ should be credited to his fielders. His profile is a lot like Mickey Welch's. Both were good pitchers for a long time. For post-1893 pitchers especially, high peaks are where pitchers gain most of their value. Even a workhorse like Willis simply doesn't throw enough innings for a slightly above average quality of pitching to be highly valuable.

I don't fully trust my conversion of my "pitching value above average" metric into win shares yet, but right now I see Willis as earning 244 season-adjusted win shares, a total almost exactly equal to his wins. That's about the rate that an average pitcher earns win shares relative to wins. Rube Waddell, on the other hand, has only 193 wins, but 258 season-adjusted win shares. Clark Griffith has 237 wins but 302 season-adjusted win shares. (I don't have McGinnity's total handy, but I think it's about 290.) So that's why I rate Willis as low as I do. I'm pretty certain Waddell was better, and I think Joss was better. I haven't done a full study of Walsh and Brown yet, but my guess is that they will be higher.

But my guesses could be wrong, and my analysis could be wrong.
   93. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 30, 2004 at 06:05 AM (#521233)
Preliminary Ballot for 1919

1. Hughie Jennings (1) best position player in baseball, 1895-1898
   94. Marc Posted: January 30, 2004 at 06:12 AM (#521234)
Agreed, nice work, Chris. As for the 1860s, I've done some research and I think Reach would clearly be #4, though if you are looking just at peak then Jim Creighton could be #1. After Reach, though, I would probably go with Jack Chapman. Re. Zettlein, I would agree that his record from '71 forward is better than Candy Cummings despite his (Zettlein's) being 4 years older. But by reputation, Cummings is certainly more highly regarded. If you split the difference, then Chapman slips in ahead of both, I think.

Re. the fact that we have twice as many from the '80s as the '90s, it comes down to match-ups. Bennett and Caruthers are excellent choices for "next" from the '80s and they just happen to be no-brainers. So the numbers we have from each decade don't bother me much. That will even up over time, anyway.

The '70s are well-represented, however. I am a FOLP but I have never had him in an election position and I don't think I ever will. The '60s, OTOH, are poorly represented.
   95. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 30, 2004 at 06:42 AM (#521235)
Chris Cobb:
   96. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: January 30, 2004 at 06:57 AM (#521236)
Re: Frank Grant

Not sure if this was mentioned in the elections that took place before I showed up. If so, I apologize, but I haven't seen it yet.

I recenly got a chance to start looking at a book called: "Cool Papas & Double Duties: The All-Time Greats of the Negro Leagues" by William F. McNeil. The most interesting part of the book (to me at least) is two votes held (one with former negro leaguers & the other with Negro League historians & experts) on deserving HoF Negro Leaguers (not yet in at the time the book was put together, which was prior to Turkey Stearnes's induction).

Few Negro Leaguers put in Grant. Not surprising - he was done before most of them were born & they focused on the guys they played against. The experts list was another story, though.

Of the 25 experts, 16 put Grant in. Also, 20 of the 25 experts are listed as members of SABR's Negro Leagues committee (Tangent: the other 5 members include an expert on the Puerto Rican Leagues, a filmmaker who was awared by the Negro Leagues committee of SABR for his contributions to furthering public knowledge of negro league baseball, two men who have written books on the Negro Leagues (John Holway & William McNeil) & Bob Feller (/end tangent). Fourteen of the committee members - 70% - voted for Frank Grant. He in fact was their top choice of all available 2nd basemen & finished in a tie for 14th overall.

The reason I bring this up is that occassionally I've read posts or ballots where Frank Grant is left off & the justification given is that he doesn't get enough support from the experts on the Negro Leagues. IIRC, there's at least one ballot that says that.

Note: the balloting in this book allowed for up to 27 negro leaguers to be listed. Some only listed a handful of players, but most listed near/around/at 27. Since Negro Leaguers already in the HoF were ineligible, the list was essentionally asking what players ranked among the top 40 Negro Leaguers of all time.
   97. Howie Menckel Posted: January 30, 2004 at 02:44 PM (#521237)
HOMers by year through 1918
   98. RobC Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:00 PM (#521238)
Prelim stuff+. McGinnity has a chance to be the first person elected to the HoM without being on my ballot. Although it will be close, he may make it up to 15 by the time he makes it to the top of the voting.

Nothing really special about my ballot: I like Sheckard a bit more than average and I dont care for McGinnity/Waddell particularly.

Last "year" I mentioned that Browning and Caruthers dont score well by my system and were moved up to a position I thought was more appropriate. This "year" Caruthers actually moved into 15th before the adjustment, so the system isnt hurting him too bad. Im thinking I might move McGinnity up because he at least has an argument for the HoM, and I dont think the guys from 14-20 on my ballot have one. This is why no one gets elected from off my ballot, by the time they get elected, I at least acknowledge they might be somewhat deserving. See Spalding, Albert for an example from the past.

1. Keeler
   99. Marc Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:20 PM (#521239)
You didn't ask me but I have Pearce at the very top of my ballot and Grant lower down. The difference is Pearce was the best of the best in his time (or at min. one of the top 3 players of his time), while Grant was apparently one of if not the best of the rest. He didn't play against the top competition. Not by his own fault, of course. But by extrapolation, if he had played in the ML it is doubtful he would have been as dominant or played as long as he was and did. I have him very comparable to Childs and Dunlap, though more career and less peak. That is, I think, high praise. (If I rated him on the low side, he would be Patsy Donovan.) I can't see him any higher than that.
   100. DanG Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:26 PM (#521240)
Chris C:

A few guys to add to your radar screen:
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