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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

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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   101. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:33 PM (#521241)
Provisional ballot:

A lot things in flux for me this week. Waddell's going down because my ranking of him has largely been based on his ERA+ & I now think that this stat overrates him. FWIW, the same evidence that hurts Waddell helps Bob Caruthers, as it indicates that he's underrated by ERA+. This makes things interesting because a major reason I've been against BC is that he seemed comparable & clearly inferior to Waddell ( slightly fewer innings, worse ERA+, timeline adjustment & league adjustment). I dunno if he'll make my final ballot, but he'll be closer than before.

1. Joe Kelley. Great combo of career rate stats & career counting stats.
   102. karlmagnus Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:35 PM (#521242)
I think we've got Grant about "right" but worry about African-American representation in the HOM. Early in the project, I suggested about 12 pre-47, i.e. 10% of the 114 HOMers elected by then, but was in a clear minority compared with noble souls wanting to elect 20-25. However the vast majority of Negro Leaguers for whom we have data retired 1938-53, hence eligible 1944-59, a period in which we will elect only 30 HOMers, of whom reasonably 6 maximum should be Negro League. Maybe there are lots more top candidates 1920-44, but I can't think of more than 2 or 3. In that case we won't get to my 12 let alone others' 25. Do we (i) ignore the problem and salve our consciences by a Centennial Wing in 2007, (ii) form a consensus and elect lots of boderline candidates like Grant or (iii) ignore reality and elect the entire starting lineup of the 1939 Kansas City Monarchs? One of the 3 is inevitable, it seems.
   103. Marc Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:41 PM (#521243)
If you look at the electees per year, we will start to elect an awful lot of players after 1960. My sense is that there will still be a big backlog of old-timers--meaning everybody pre-WWII including Negro Leaguers--still in line, and that a lot of Negro Leaguers will be getting elected in the '60s-'70s-'80s and right on up to, well, now. Just as Dickey Pearce may get elected in 1995.
   104. Chris Cobb Posted: January 30, 2004 at 05:02 PM (#521244)
DanG wrote: <i>Chris C:

A few guys to add to your radar screen:
   105. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 30, 2004 at 05:10 PM (#521245)
DanG - I just posted the elections from the book in the Negro Leaguers thread.
   106. Rick A. Posted: January 30, 2004 at 05:40 PM (#521246)
Pearce vs. Grant. I posted this in the 1918 ballot discussion. Guess I was just a year too early. :)

<i>I realize that some of you have problems with pre-1871 baseball or undocumented play, or that some of you may have a severe timeline.(I really don't timeline. I'm one of the penant-is-a-penant crowd), but even so I can't see having Grant over Pearce. I realize that most of their careers are undocumented, but here is a comparison.

Grant - 18 year career
   107. Jim Sp Posted: January 30, 2004 at 07:34 PM (#521247)
Marc,
   108. Chris Cobb Posted: January 31, 2004 at 03:49 AM (#521248)
This is a request for Chris J.:

Would it be possible for you to figure and post seasonal RSIs for Ed Walsh? I'm hoping to get started soon calculating wins above average value for him in preparation for the 1920 balloting, and my results are a lot more reliable with RSI numbers rather than just total team runs scored to work with.

Thanks!
   109. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 31, 2004 at 06:50 AM (#521249)
Chris Cobb.

Oops - I totally misread that. I thought you wanted his post-seasonal RSIs. Couldn't figure why you'd want that since he only had two starts but . . . Now that I'm reading your post accurately, your request makes since.

Sure - I got that. Ed Walsh's RSIs & adjusted W/L records:
   110. Chris Cobb Posted: January 31, 2004 at 02:53 PM (#521250)
Thanks, Chris J.!
   111. Howie Menckel Posted: January 31, 2004 at 04:02 PM (#521251)
Why yes, Charlie Bennett WILL be the first player to hit 10,000 once his 1919 votes are counted.
   112. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 31, 2004 at 05:26 PM (#521252)
As long as I'm thinking of it - if Cobb or anyone else has any requests for RSI info, let me know, I'm sitting on a stack of 160+ pitchers all RSId out.
   113. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 01, 2004 at 12:31 AM (#521255)
Chris Cobb -

Minor change. I slightly adjusted the RSI adjusted W/L (got an old Macmillan Encylcopedia & separated relief W/L from other W/L, RSId the latter & then added it back with the former). Here's Walsh's new W/L records adjusted for the run support he got when he started:

5-4
   114. OCF Posted: February 01, 2004 at 06:07 AM (#521256)
I've gone through the methodology of post #44 above for a reasonable number of pitchers of interest: find RA+; turn that into a W/L percentage; multiply by IP/9 to get a W-L record. One can then turn this W-L record into single-season "equivalent" Fibonacci Win Points. For the "pitchers of interest" that I've got, so far, there are 47 seasons between 1898 and 1918 of 30 or more "eq"FWP. Of these 47, 5 are by the already-elected Cy Young and 27 are by pitchers not yet eligible for election - mostly Johnson, Alexander, Walsh, Mathewson, and Brown, with an occasional stray Wood, Cicotte, or Covaleski. Walter Johnson's 1913 registers 59 "eq"FWP - a candidate for the honor of greatest year ever by a pitcher. (Johnson's 1912, at 52, isn't too shabby.)

That leaves 15 such seasons by pitchers currently eligible. That list:

50 1904 McGinnity
   115. OCF Posted: February 01, 2004 at 09:02 AM (#521257)
I'm still not sold on his "Win Share Cy Youngs", since racking up WS depends very heavily on innings pitched (more than on quality), and innings were Joe's strong point.

That's one of the fascinating things about this time. There was no standard model for how much a top pitcher should be used, and there were many different ways that various teams attempted to solve this problem. You are implicitly setting up a contrast between those pitchers who were ridden very heavily in their good years, such as McGinnity or Walsh, and those pitchers who belonged to teams with more of a share-the-load policy, such as Brown, Reulbach, Leever, or Phillippe.

I tend to see any inning pitched reasonably well as adding to a pitcher's value, and for that reason I see the best seasons of McGinnity and Walsh as substantially more valuable than any number of seasons of other pitchers with better ERA in fewer innings. For the Cubs to be a dominant team, the needed to have 3 to 5 other pitchers be nearly as effective as Brown when Brown wasn't pitching. They did have those other pitchers - but that isn't part of Brown's value, is it?

McGinnity may not have had as much ability as some other pitchers (such as Waddell), and his usage pattern may not have been his own doing, but since he was used in a high-inning manner, he did have more value to his teams. At least that's an argument that could be made.
   116. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 01, 2004 at 05:44 PM (#521258)
McGinnity may not have had as much ability as some other pitchers (such as Waddell), and his usage pattern may not have been his own doing, but since he was used in a high-inning manner, he did have more value to his teams.

I think it's arguable that McGinnity didn't have the ability as the others, too. I'd be shocked if his rate stats wouldn't have had improved substantially under a Cubs pitching rotation. Conversely, Brown or Leever would certainly find their quality of performance diminished pitching for the Giants of that era.
   117. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 01, 2004 at 06:03 PM (#521259)
I think it's arguable that McGinnity didn't have the ability as the others, too. I'd be shocked if his rate stats wouldn't have had improved substantially under a Cubs pitching rotation. Conversely, Brown or Leever would certainly find their quality of performance diminished pitching for the Giants of that era.

And it's worth keeping in mind he managed to finish in the top 7 in ERA+ in half of his seasons. So it ain't like the quality was merely OK.
   118. Howie Menckel Posted: February 01, 2004 at 06:59 PM (#521260)
Good to see holes being poked in the specious "Well, sure McGinnity won a lot of games; he pitched so much."

So WHAT? He achieved MORE than people like Addie Joss. Now he's not really '80 wins better' than Joss - but he still had a more productive career.
   119. Howie Menckel Posted: February 01, 2004 at 07:07 PM (#521261)
Voting-eligible John Knight's 15 seconds of fame....

"Signed out of high school, this native of Philadelphia was nineteen when he found himself in the Athletics' 1905 Opening Day lineup because shortstop Monte Cross broke a hand. Knight was hitting .400 in mid-June but finished the season at .203. Eager to win a pennant in 1907, Connie Mack traded Knight to the Red Sox for veteran third baseman Jimmy Collins. Mack later said Knight was the only young player he ever regretted letting go."

and same for another voting-eligible...
   120. Marc Posted: February 01, 2004 at 08:00 PM (#521262)
So many of our tangents should be really easy here. This ain't about McGinnity's or anybody else's "ability." (Define "ability".) It's about their value.
   121. EricC Posted: February 01, 2004 at 08:10 PM (#521263)
"Well, sure McGinnity won a lot of games; he pitched so much."

True, but McGinnity also won a lot of games because he pitched for good teams throughout his career (read: had good run support) and because, by switching from the AL to the NL in 1902, he managed to play in the weaker league nearly every year from 1901 to 1908.
   122. EricC Posted: February 01, 2004 at 08:19 PM (#521264)
This ain't about McGinnity's or anybody else's "ability." (Define "ability".) It's about their value.

Agreed, but, fortunately and unfortunately, even a group like this will never agree on how to define "value".
   123. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 01, 2004 at 08:54 PM (#521265)
So many of our tangents should be really easy here. This ain't about McGinnity's or anybody else's "ability." (Define "ability".) It's about their value.

Well, I was defining ability here as "quality" (or rate stats). Since I try to incorporate quality equally with quantity, I see McGinnity above Joss, Leever, Reulbach, etc.

and because, by switching from the AL to the NL in 1902, he managed to play in the weaker league nearly every year from 1901 to 1908.

Is that a fact? There is some disagreement on that matter.
   124. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: February 01, 2004 at 09:17 PM (#521266)
Okay, here's something I did with the intent of garnering some more ammunition for Charlie Bennett, which didn't work out exactly that way. What I did was find the OPS+ for the #1 catcher for every team from 1871-1919 (using the Baseball Encyclopedia for 1876-1900, and the lists at the back of Rob Neyer's lineup book for 1901-1919). Then I took the average for each league, and added up the differences for each player. (I tended to include all teams, with some arbitrary exclusions, mostly for 1875. I left out the UA, but left in the 1890 NL.)

For example: In 1875, Deacon White's OPS+ was 179. The league average was 84, so White's "score" was 95. (That's the highest for this era. The lowest was Bill Bergen's -80 in 1910.)

Okay, that's the methedology, flawed as it is. (The biggest problem that I see is the many teams that essentially had 2 regular catchers, when only one is included in the study.)

Here are the totals for all catchers with at least 6 seasons. The numbers in parentheses are the number of seasons they were above average and the number they were below.)

Deacon White (8,0) 385
   125. Max Parkinson Posted: February 01, 2004 at 09:30 PM (#521267)
This is my prelim ballot for 1919, where I would like to begin voting. I have followed along since near the beginning of the project, and have kept up a personal HoM that goes back to 1898. I was derailed for a couple of weeks late last month, and have spent the past couple of elections just catching up myself. I spoke to my rating system before, and won?t bore you again with the details, but let me say that I value excellent performance, whether hitting, pitching or defense. I use BP?s WARP 2 numbers, which I then adjust for defense and timeline myself.

1. Jimmy Collins ? Without a doubt, the greatest defensive 3rd baseman in the first 80 years of professional baseball. A career OPS+ of 113 as well, so also helped his teams with the stick. In my system, Collins was the best fielder in all of the game every year from 1897-1904 save 1901, where he was the 4th best, and 1902, where he was 3rd. If Ezra Sutton can be a HoMer with a career OPS+ of 119, and average at best defense for most of his career, Jimmy is a cinch.

2. Hughie Jennings ? The list of position players who were MVPs under my system from 1871 to 1919 follows:

Ross Barnes (1872,1876)
   126. Chris Cobb Posted: February 01, 2004 at 09:42 PM (#521268)
True, but McGinnity also won a lot of games because he pitched for good teams throughout his career (read: had good run support) and because, by switching from the AL to the NL in 1902, he managed to play in the weaker league nearly every year from 1901 to 1908.

McGinnity's run support was good, as Chris J. has shown, but not a great deal better than that of most of the pitchers to whom we are comparing him. To reprint Chris J's RSI numbers:

McGinnity 106.75
   127. favre Posted: February 01, 2004 at 10:09 PM (#521269)
Welcome Max! You have a great ballot. Nice to have you aboard.
   128. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 01, 2004 at 10:40 PM (#521270)
Welcome Max! You have a great ballot. Nice to have you aboard.

Seconded!
   129. Chris Cobb Posted: February 02, 2004 at 04:21 AM (#521273)
Times reached base, 1895-1915, with full seasons played during that period. I believe these are the top players by this measure.

4190 Honus Wagner (19)
   130. Marc Posted: February 02, 2004 at 05:36 AM (#521274)
yest, I don't know what you mean non-SABR. Without numbers? Sorry. Some numbers:

Sheckard - Keeler - Keeler '92-'97 - Keeler '98-'10

AB+BB 8740 9115 2420 6695
   131. OCF Posted: February 02, 2004 at 08:34 AM (#521275)
Marc (#138): I guess I'm the one that introduced the word "ability" in #133. It wasn't a very good choice of word, and it was something of a straw man anyway. I was just looking for a word to contrast with "value". I also thank John Murphy and Chris J. for sharpening and clarifying what I meant to say in #134 and #135. And I will have McGinnity fairly high on my ballot, probably 4th or 5th.
   132. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 02, 2004 at 03:02 PM (#521276)
"Non-saber" case for Jimmy Sheckard. Note that this really doesn't do Sheckard justice, but it's worth a shot I guess.

In his best early hitting years, 1900-03, Sheckard was a great hitter. Led the league in slugging once, led the league in triples (a very important power stat, more than HRs at the time) once, led the league in home runs once.

All this is at a time when he is stealing 40-50 bases a year. So you have power, and speed, and Sheckard is also probably the best leftfielder in the game defensively. So the Jimmy Sheckard of 1899-1903 is a classic "five-tool" player. He's a star on a pennant winner in 1900, the best player on a contender in 1901, best player again on a good team in 1903.

The most comparable current player to Sheckard in 1899-1903 is probably Vladimir Guerrero from 1997-2002... Vlad's got a touch more offense (even adjusting for the era), but Sheckard was a better defensive player and had more speed.

Then Sheckard goes into the tank in '04, and at that point everyone wrote him off and figured he was finished. He bounced back in 1905, but his team was awful, so even though he was the best Brooklyn player by miles he was branded a has-been and a loser and Frank Chance got him cfor the Cubs, essentially for a bunch of spare parts and cash. Of course the Cubs castoffs are much better than the best Brooklyn players (the Superbas had gone 48-104) so this was a good deal for both teams.

Anyway, Sheckard settles into the Cubs outfield, and the Cubs, who couldn't win anything before Sheckard arrives, win three straight pennants and four of the next five. The year they miss, 1909, they won 104 games. Sheckard settles in as a first- and second-place hitter, and starts playing Frank Chance Baseball. Bunting, hit-and-running, productive outs and the other elements of winning baseball in the deadball era. Sheckard is never again as productive offensively, but he fills his offensive role to a T, gets on base well and generally does everything to help the Cubs win. He's always a productive offensive player, he's still the best leftfielder in the league, the best bunter in the league... I think his best comp in these years is Brett Butler, the heart of Butler's career from 1987 to 1992.

Finally, he has a great swan song year in 1911 where he just crushes the ball, presumably because Chance and Evers are out of the Cubs lineup now and Chance figures the Cubs need more sock.

Sheckard is a great defensive player on some fantastic defensive teams in his Cubs years, probably some of the best defensive teams ever.
   133. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2004 at 04:15 PM (#521278)
Some meaty Sheckard tidbits here, pro and con I suppose. I suspect he's a HOMer:

Sheckard was one of a handful of Pennsylvania Dutch to play in the majors.

Though chiefly remembered for his years with the Cubs, for whom he played in four World Series, Sheckard had his best years with Brooklyn. He batted .353 while leading the league with 19 triples and a .536 slugging percentage for the 1901 Brooklyn Superbas; his 11 HR and 104 RBI were career highs. In 1903 his nine HR were enough to capture the NL title, and he tied for the league lead with 67 stolen bases. (With Baltimore in 1899, he had led the NL with 77 stolen bases.)

With the Cubs, he embarassed himself in the 1906 World Series; boasting that he would bat .400 against White Sox pitching, he instead went 0-for-21 as the Sox upset the Cubs in six games.

In 1911 he set a Cub record for most walks (147), leading the NL for the first of two straight seasons. He also scored an NL-high 121 runs that year. (ARA)
   134. Marc Posted: February 02, 2004 at 04:46 PM (#521279)
That's rich. The AL doesn't countenance contract jumping and "doesn't want Sheckard in our league." Can you say sour grapes?
   135. Chris Cobb Posted: February 02, 2004 at 04:50 PM (#521280)
? June 2, 1908: During a game with the Pirates, a bottle of ammonia explodes in the face of Cubs outfielder Jimmy Sheckard and only prompt action saves his eyesight. The injury will cause Jimmy to miss 40 games and his average will plummet to .231. The Cubs lose, 12-6.

Ouch! Well, that explains Sheckard's lackluster 1908, but it does lead one to wonder what led to the exploding-ammonia-bottle incident . . .
   136. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2004 at 05:41 PM (#521281)
HOMers (34) by position, roughly chronologically

CATCHER (2): Cal McVey (C-1B), Buck Ewing (C-1/0); see also White, Kelly
   137. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 02, 2004 at 06:07 PM (#521282)
<i>McGinnity's run support was good, as Chris J. has shown, but not a great deal better than that of most of the pitchers to whom we are comparing him. To reprint Chris J's RSI numbers:

McGinnity 106.75
   138. Daryn Posted: February 02, 2004 at 07:25 PM (#521285)
Mcvey should be capitalized at first rather than catcher.
   139. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2004 at 07:30 PM (#521286)
daryn,
   140. Daryn Posted: February 02, 2004 at 08:02 PM (#521287)
Given the drought we are about to experience, I really think there is no way keeler, kelley, collins, bennett or mcginnity get shut out. By 1927 they should all be in, and by 1931, caruthers, thompson, grant, waddell and pike will probably have joined them. Beyond that, it might be tough for the current 11 to 20 guys.
   141. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 02, 2004 at 08:36 PM (#521288)
We went through this a few years ago. In a crude sense you're correct, but because of changing schedule lengths McVey actually spent a greater part of his career at C than 1B (but three fewer total games). So he's listed where he spent more 'seasons.'

To expand further on Howie's comments, McVey unquestionably was more valuable as a catcher than a first baseman for his career by affecting more pennant races behind the plate.

The same could be said for Deacon White as catcher instead of third baseman.
   142. DanG Posted: February 02, 2004 at 08:42 PM (#521289)
I thought I?d take Howie?s list and present it with the number of seasons as a regular. I?ll skip the details of the methodology for now, other than to mention that about 7% of the total seasons were split 50/50, assigned evenly at two positions. Also, Stovey?s primary position I consider to be corner outfielder.

HOMER's seasons as regular (1.5 or more seasons, most-played position in CAPS). A season as a regular is defined as playing in at least half the team?s games or pitching at least one inning per team game.

C - EWING 8, WHITE 8, Kelly 4.5, MCVEY 4
   143. Chris Cobb Posted: February 02, 2004 at 08:46 PM (#521290)
I agree with daryn that there's no way Collins won't be elected in the fairly near future, so I think it doesn't really matter whether he goes in ahead of either Kelley or Keeler or behind both.

I also don't see how we can "cross a line" if we elect both Keeler and Kelley before Collins unless there's a convicing argument that he was better than one or both of them, by virtue of his position. I give substantive career bonuses to infielders, and they aren't enough to move Collins past Keeler and Kelley.

If there are voters who want to make the case, by some means other than a strict quota, that Collins should rank ahead, now's the time to be doing it. I've considered and considered moving Collins ahead of K & K, but the numbers I have for them don't support the claim that he was better, and _right now_ defensive infielders and outfielders are perfectly balanced in the HoM, so any selection will push one group temporarily ahead, so there's no indication that infielders are being unfairly neglected. Outfielders have led of late, but we elected Stovey after the 1880s infielders, and we've put in McPhee, Davis, and Dahlen recently.

Show me how Collins was better and I'll move him up to the top of my ballot in a moment. But I won't move him for a quota argument this year.
   144. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2004 at 09:17 PM (#521291)
Good points, Chris.
   145. Marc Posted: February 02, 2004 at 10:33 PM (#521292)
Hey, Bob (Dylan), Chris, Howie, daryn: Show me how Collins is better than Williamson, without reference to that tired old timeline, and we can talk!

Williamson played 97% of his team's games (1081 of 1113) during 11 years as a regular with an EqA of .291.

Collins played 90% of his team's games (1688 out of 1881) during 13 years as a regular with an EqA of .286.

So Collins had well over 50% more opportunities. Yet:

BRARP- Collins 367 Wiliamson 292
   146. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2004 at 10:41 PM (#521294)
Marc,
   147. Daryn Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:13 PM (#521295)
Fred Pfeffer's most similar player at the age his teammate Williamson retired was Williamson. Then Pfeffer went on to play 5 more years. They both benefitted from the 1884 "HR" spike. Neither really seems to deserve discussion for anything more than the hall of pretty good. Now Abner Dalrymple, he's another story...
   148. ronw Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:18 PM (#521296)
Baby is here, and she and Mom are healthy. I just went through a lot, and I will try to be quick.

1. Jimmy Sheckard seems about the equivalent of Kelley, and may be slightly better. Kelley has better raw stats, thanks to the 1890's, but Sheckard seems to beat him in WS, top 3 WS, and career WS, not to mention WARP 1, 2 and 3. Kelley edges Sheckard only in WS/162.

2. Williamson vs. Collins. When I get the time, I am taking a careful look at old Ed (who I agree has been overlooked) However, maybe I am reading Marc's post #168 wrong, but it seems that Collins still beats Williamson in everything. Based on NBJHBA, Collins even beats Williamson on a WS/162 basis, 25.59 to 23.34.

Further, I see Williamson as possibly an All-Star type player 7 of his 13 seasons, with the majority of those seasons coming in 2 and 3 league competition or in the less talented pre-1882 NL. Collins, in his 14 seasons, had 9 All-Star type seasons, with 4 of those coming in the highly competitive 1897-1900 NL. Even if their statistics are relatively similar, Collins did it against tougher competition. BTW, I do not timeline.

3. Collins vs. Keeler & Kelley. I guess I am a quota person. However, right now I see Collins as not merely the best available 3B, but the best available IF, as there seem to be no other great infielders.
   149. Chris Cobb Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:21 PM (#521297)
Marc,

You've included the biggest difference between Collins and Williamson in your own presentation: Collins was a regular for 13 years, Williamson for 11. But, as I see the matter in fielding-and-season-adjusted Win Shares, here's how Collins' first 11 seasons matches up to Williamson's:

Williamson
   150. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:35 PM (#521298)
Baby is here, and she and Mom are healthy.

Woo-hoo! Congrats, Ron!
   151. RobC Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:44 PM (#521299)
Marc,

Since I have Collins in my top 4 and Williamson off, I figure I can handle that final question. Start with a baseline of Warp3 (thats what I do). Do you realize how many players there are between 85.2 and 57.8? The answer is many. I do adjustments, most of which favor Collins, but for those of us with a Warp3 baseline, Ned would need something extra special to overcome that difference or to even get close.

Since you dont like timelining, I will ask a different question too: How many currently eligible players are between 114.4 and 83.8 in Warp1?
   152. Marc Posted: February 02, 2004 at 11:56 PM (#521300)
Congratulations, Ron!

>the less talented pre-1882 NL...the highly competitive 1897-1900 NL... BTW, I do not timeline.

I see an oxymoron here.

Besides which, the numbers I've seen for the pre-'82 *eight* team NL is that it was better than the NL would again be until '91. Meanwhile, Collins' early peak was in a *twelve* team league in '97-'98-'99, then in an eight team league in '00 (and his OPS+ fell to 94), then excelled again in an expansion environment. IOW, his OPS+ *125 were '97-'98-'01-'03 in 12, 12, 16 and 16 team environments.

"Less talented" and "highly competitive" seem to me to be a priori value judgements. ie. "Since we all know that Collins was better than Williamson, we will therefore assert that Collins faced better opposition." This, it seems to me, is exactly what is meant by "timeline."

Yes, Collins edges Williamson on all the measures I posted. I am aware of that. I was trying to be fair. I could have adjusted Williamson's WS (or WARP for that matter) to 162 games. I didn't do that. Even so, Collins "edges" Williamson, he doesn't bash him all over the lot. As Chris says, on a tight ballot, that could be a half dozen slots worth of difference. Exactly my point--but, as I said, somebody should explain how he ends up 40 places ahead.

Re. WS/162, OK. Now, WARP per 162.

WARP1 (no timeline)--Williamson 11.3/162 games, Collins 10.74
   153. Marc Posted: February 03, 2004 at 12:03 AM (#521301)
RobC, WARP1 provides for zero adjustment for season length. WARP3 provides a stingy adjustment for season length more than balanced by a giant timeline adjustment the other way. So your analysis provides the choice of penalizing Williamson's choice of date of birth one time or two times.

By your method, if we had started this project in, say, 1936, we would not induct anybody from the 19th century and probably not even Jimmy Collins.
   154. Howie Menckel Posted: February 03, 2004 at 12:23 AM (#521302)
Marc,
   155. Arrieta, Gentile Arrieta Posted: February 03, 2004 at 01:09 AM (#521303)
Hi. I?m finally here. I?ve been lurking for ?years? and finally decided to dive in. My preliminary ballot is below. I?d like to vote this year but if you want me to wait an election to actually vote, as suggested in other threads, that?s fine.

I?ve been considering actual statistics and getting more familiar with some of the measurements that I see a lot here: WS, WS/162g, Bill James fielding grades, OPS+, ERA+, the STATS retroactive MVPs, CYAs and All-Star teams, plus the commentary here. I?ve also started to look at the WARP ratings.

1. Jimmy Collins: Great defense, solid offense at an important position. 9th among non-electees in career WS, 8th in Warp3. Easily the best 3B so far. 4-time STATS All-star. Considering the comments I?ve read on his defense, A+ might not be high enough.

2. Willie Keeler: Nothing wrong with being a singles hitter in that era. Nothing wrong with putting the ball in play 98+% of the time when fielders are making errors 5-6% of the time. Highest WS and Warp3 of any electable player.

3. Frank Grant: I?m persuaded by the FOFG, especially the case favre put forth elsewhere. It?s no stretch for me to see him as a great player. He may have been the ?black Dunlap?, but Frank played 18 years to Fred?s 12. If Frank=1.5* Fred, he?s pretty comparable to Hardy Richardson. This may be a bogus calculation, but I?m comfortable placing him this high.

4. Joe McGinnity: Short, wonderful career. 2CYA, 5 STATS AS, workhorse, led league in wins 5 times, innings 4 times.

5. Jake Beckley: Top 1B of his time. Long, consistent career with no ?peak? to speak of, but really no ?valleys?, either, and more career WS than any other player under consideration except Keeler, Van Haltren and the new guy, Sheckard.

6. Pete Browning: Monster hitter. 8 STATS All-Star selections, 1 MVP. I think 8 years is a pretty good peak or prime.

7. Sam Thompson: Not quite a monster but very strong offense. MVP, 6AS.

8. Bob Caruthers: Very short career, but too good to overlook. 2MVP, 2CYA, 5AS, best W% to date except for Spalding, and there?s the hitting. Led AA in OPS+ in 1886.

9. Rube Waddell: MVP/CYA in 1905, good ERA & ERA+, lots of strikeouts, won a lot with poor run support.

10. Hugh Duffy: Almost as many win shares as Kelley, higher per 162, better defense, played centerfield. Warp3 doesn?t like him as well. MVP but only 2 STATS AS (same as Sheckard & Kelley).

11. Jimmy Sheckard: Win shares and Warp3 really like him. Placing him here for now. A few very strong seasons mixed with so-so ones. Could move up or down.

12. Joe Kelley: Career placement for 305WS.

13. Charlie Bennett: The best catcher available. The best pure catcher so far, I am not sure that?s enough. Looks good compared to the other eligible catchers, not so good compared to White, McVey, Ewing.

14. Clark Griffith: Career is sort of comparable to McGinnity?s, but spread out over more years. Not as dominant.

15. Mickey Welch: Those 300 wins put him on the list. Also not dominant, but pitched a lot, pitched well.
   156. Paul Wendt Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:08 AM (#521304)
Marc #150 made the case for Sheckard by comparing him with Keeler as a batter.

<i>Sheckard - Keeler - Keeler '92-'97 - Keeler '98-'10
   157. Marc Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:35 AM (#521305)
Howie, you're a smart guy, but you are obsessed about this. This is one season out of a career, and his opponents, teammates and their pitchers all faced the same conditions. It's not like he gets points for 27 HR. He gets WS and WARPies.

But I said, what if half his 27 HR went for 2B (which is what the same hit was for many other years) and half went for flyball outs (which is being exceptionally generous to the point of view that wants to debunk Big Ed, since the balls went into the stands). (And if you want to say that he benefitted the rest of his career from those ground rule doubles, well, so did King Kelly and George Gore and I never heard anybody moan about that.)

But anyway, if his HR went for half doubles and half outs, you get:

Actual Projected Career

BA .278 .246 .255
   158. MattB Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:39 AM (#521306)
Nice ballot, Don! Welcome!

And congratulations, Ron!

My take on Jimmy Sheckard:

He's a solid candidate with some great numbers.

He is also about the 10th best outfielder to play around the turn of the Century. In my mind he is clearly behind Fred Clarke, Willie Keeler, Jesse Burkett, Joe Kelley, Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson, Sam Crawford, Elmer Flick, and Ed Delahanty. Honus Wagner and Roger Bresnahan also played outfield during parts of Sheckard's career, before moving against traffic on the defensive spectrum.

Sure, Sheckard'll make my ballot (I have him 13th), because in a close race for 10th, he's beating out Duffy, van Haltren, Fielder Jones, Ryan, Griffin, Tiernan, et. al., but I'm not getting too excited about him.

Compare him to his peers, and you'll see why he never got as famous as his Win Shares would suggest.
   159. Marc Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:40 AM (#521307)
Paul,

>[deleted: several environment-sensitive statistics]
   160. Chris Cobb Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:58 AM (#521308)
As Chris says, on a tight ballot, that could be a half dozen slots worth of difference. Exactly my point--but, as I said, somebody should explain how he ends up 40 places ahead.

Better mathematical heads than I should take this on, and voters who see Collins as the #4 candidate and Williamson as the #44 candidate should speak up, but it seems to me that the place of Williamson in the standings has more to do with diffusion as we move down from the top candidates than with his actually being #44 in individual rankings. Collins finished fourth in 1918, but his median ranking was #7, with votes spread all across the ballot, plus two off-ballot, down to about 20. Votes cluster at the top and stretch towards the bottom. Let me self-servingly guess that my ballot gap between the two candidates -- 12 -- represents something like the typical gap. That would put the median position of Williamson at 19, with the higher positions clustered from 12 to 19, with the lower votes trailing away down into the 30s. If Williamson's upper bound is fairly well-agreed upon, then he may have a good deal of support that is somewhat off the ballot, whereas some other candidates ahead of him actually have a substantially lower median ranking but score ahead of him because they have a handful of upper outliers. John McGraw is, I suspect, the poster-child for this sort of distribution.

The point of all that rambling is simply this: after about candidate number 20, the voting totals don't tell us very much that is meaningful about where people are actually ranking the candidates. They score based on their upper-outliers, not based on their medians. For what it's worth, I suspect that Williamson is doing better than his voting total shows. He doesn't have the profile to attract upper-bound outlier-votes.

He's not
   161. Howie Menckel Posted: February 03, 2004 at 03:54 AM (#521309)
Marc,
   162. DanG Posted: February 03, 2004 at 03:41 PM (#521312)
Died in 1919.

HoMers: Jim O'Rourke

Candidates: Cy Seymour, Ed McKean, Jake Stenzel

I don't believe the rules allow us to consider this in ranking players--honorary votes are prohibited, IIRC. To me, looking at this is just one of those historical touches that lend meaning to the project.
   163. DanG Posted: February 03, 2004 at 05:35 PM (#521313)
Doing a little thinking ahead. My projections are typically grossly inaccurate, but it's fun. The eighteen players mentioned below may not be elected in quite this order, but I think they'll all make it.

If Wallace-Walsh-Bresnahan get friends in the electorate, the next decade of elections could see:

1919 Keeler-Kelley
   164. ronw Posted: February 03, 2004 at 05:41 PM (#521314)
I guess I need a little help with the definition of "timeline" I thought that it means - take a players year of birth, or years played, and objectively add more points to the rankings of players who played closer to the present time. League quality is irrelevant during a timeline.

My rudimentary definition is why, when responding to Williamson vs. Collins, I said that I don't timeline. If timeline is defined by league quality, then I am probably guilty of timelining.

Williamson had All-Star seasons in 1880-1881. I suppose there are some people who will say that because there was only one major league during that time period, that the NL during those years was highly competitive. I do not believe this to be the case, but rather that the NL during this period did not always attract the best players. And yes, I would have applied this theory to "discount" Kelly's 1878-1881, or Gore's 1879-1881.

Collins had All-Star seasons in 1897-1900. I think there are few who would disagree that these seasons were the most competitive in baseball history up until that point, and I consider them to be more competitive than anything up until the 1950's NL. I think by this time that the NL had firmly established itself as the best league, and it was the only option for good players.

If this is timelining, so be it. I generally compare players to their contemporaries, so even when I say a league or era was not very competitive I am still looking at players (Williamson has just missed my ballot for several years, and even made the bottom one or two years, BTW). However, now that we have holdovers, I inevitably have to compare an 1879 OF with a 1908 2B, and I give some thought to league quality. As with Williamson and Collins, it helps me separate otherwise close candidates.

FWIW, here is how I generally view baseball history.

1860's-1870 - Very poor league quality, probably the equivalent of Rookie league ball, just because the game was still being learned.

1871-1875 - A slight upgrade to pre-organization base ball, now equivalent to Class A ball.

1876-1881 - Class AA-AAA ball. The best players still hadn't gone to this league. Players most hurt by my negative look at baseball in general from this point include Williamson, but probably more hurt are Tom York and Charley Jones. When solely compared with their contemporaries, York and Jones should be in the HOM.

1882-1887 - Class AAA ball. Here there were some very extreme seasons (Radbourn in 1884, O'Neill in 1887) and many rule changes, each of which are sometimes indicative of poor league quality. Plus the AA was just getting off the ground. BTW, I don't count the UA at all. I'll save direct NL to AA comparisons for another post.

1888-1891 - Pretty much equivalent to ML ball, but with the 3-league 1890 and weak 1891 AA, there is still some discount here, especially when compared to the next period.

1892-1900 - Stars during this period rate higher than most. You still need more than 5 years of stardom, but if you had it here, you may get a higher subjective rating from me. As I have stated before, I believe that this was highest quality until perhaps the 1950's NL influx of Negro Leaguers.

1901-1906 - Until the leagues settled themselves out, I think that this period fell below that of 1888-1891 in terms of quality, and was probably equivalent to the 1882-1887 NL-AA.

1907-1919 - Good quality, better than 1888-1891, and better than the period that followed.

1920-1942, 1946-1949, AL 1950-1960 - I actually think this period was worse than 1907-1919, but still had decent league quality, probably on par with the 1888-1891 NL-AA-PL. Still generally no Negro Leaguers. Also the Yankee dominance killed competition in the AL.

NL 1950-1961 - I think highly of the NL during this period, maybe even more so than NL 1892-1900. The Yankees killed AL competition and thus diminished league quality.

AL 1961-1968, NL 1962-1968 - After an initial expansion dip in quality, by then end of this brief period league quality had climbed to a healthy level.

1969-1976 - Again, a brief dip in quality, but here there may not have been a return to the 1968 quality level. I will be reviewing these years much later.

1977-1992 - Maybe the most competitive era. I will need some perspective, however.

1993-now - With two expansions and the home run barrage, I definitely need more perspective.

In sum my subjective view of MLB history looks like this:

Great quality eras - 1892-1900, 1950-1961 NL, 1977-1992.

Good quality era - 1907-1919, AL 1961-1968, NL 1962-1968, 1969-1976

Decent quality eras - 1888-1891, 1920-1942, 1946-1949, AL 1950-1960

Almost decent quality eras - 1882-1887, 1901-1906

Below decent quality era - 1876-1881

Questionable quality era - 1871-1875

Poor quality era - Dawn of time - 1870.

Unknown quality - 1993-2003.
   165. Howie Menckel Posted: February 03, 2004 at 05:45 PM (#521315)
Not bad, Dan G, but I'd Tinker with the list a little bit..
   166. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 03, 2004 at 06:02 PM (#521316)
Great quality eras - 1892-1900, 1950-1961 NL, 1977-1992

IIRC (& I may not) by the 1890s, there were still very few players in baseball from outside the NE quarter of the nation (North of the OH & E of the MS). There were some, but their number rose as years wore on. The best players could get through, but it would likely have been harder for the role players & journeymen to get through & that would hurt the quality of league play. The informal system of acquiring talent in the pre-Rickey minor league system was still apparently being developed.

There were also few from out west, but then again, the frontier line only came to an end in 1890.
   167. Chris Cobb Posted: February 03, 2004 at 06:02 PM (#521317)
Like Dan G., I've been looking ahead, and I would offer the following points as likely to modify the scenario he has predicted, which for the most part looks plausible.

1. Jimmy Sheckard will have considerable support and will be elected by 1928, if not by 1921.

2. With Jimmy Collins' level of support, he will almost certainly be elected by 1921.

3. Bresnahan will not have the support to go in on his first ballot; he'll go in 26-28 or later.

4. Negro Leaguers Bill Monroe and Grant (Home Run) Johnson will be in the mix.

5. In the case of Joe Jackson, there will be sufficient support for a first-year boycott and for a long-term deduction to his value for throwing games that it will be impossible for him to be elected on his first ballot; I predict that it will delay his election for quite a few years. Magee will be elected a year earlier instead, and in 1928 players like Monroe, Johnson, Sam Thompson, Bob Caruthers, or Tommy Leach will have a shot at election.

That's what I see in my crystal ball, anyway: others may see more clearly!
   168. DanG Posted: February 03, 2004 at 06:23 PM (#521318)
Interesting, Chris. You're probably right. Bresnahan will wait, if Bennett is any indicator; Collins could very well go in 1920 or 21.

Sheckard I'm not so sure about, but may get in before 1929. Jackson you're almost certainly right that he'll wait longer.

The Negro leaguers are the wild card. I think they'll have a tendency to cancel each other out. When Monroe comes on next year, Grant's support will wane a bit. Johnson in 1922 will cut Grant some more. Foster, a hall of fame _manager_, may wait longer than I projected. Spot Poles in 1929 precedes the flood in 1931-32. Then Torriente in 1934 is swamped by Cobb/Speaker/Collins. It means we may not see a Negro leaguer elected until the late 30's.
   169. MattB Posted: February 03, 2004 at 06:30 PM (#521319)
<i>"1926 Collins-Bennett
   170. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 03, 2004 at 07:07 PM (#521321)
FWIW, based on DanG's list, the following players would be eligible by the deadspot of 1929-32:

Frank Grant
   171. Jeff M Posted: February 03, 2004 at 08:03 PM (#521322)
I agree with Matt B's post #183 re: Sheckard, which I guess isn't surprising, since the analysis a few months ago said my ballots were most similar to his. I'll have him (Sheckard, not Matt B) between #7 and #12 on my ballot. I think he's much better than we probably thought he was -- hence, being named on ballots at all, which I would not have predicted before this project began -- but this is an instance where his lack of fame may be instructive.
   172. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 03, 2004 at 08:06 PM (#521323)
Welcome aboard, Don F! Hang in there.
   173. Marc Posted: February 03, 2004 at 08:51 PM (#521324)
Ron, I guess I don't see league quality as you've described it versus a timeline as being two different things. IOW, why timeline? Well, because the quality of play was different. If the quality of play in 1885 was the same as 1915, there would be no sense to timelining.

The second distinction without a difference is league quality and the quality of the player in question (whoever it is that you're thinking of voting for). Now it is true that HoMers are outliers and not necessarily representated by league quality. But if player A (call him Ed) earns 10 WARP1 in 1885 and player B (call him Jimmy) earns 10 WARP1 in 1900, who is better? Well, by definition A, they're equal. They each had the same value. But by definition B, Jimmy was better because he had to scratch out those 10 WARPs in a tougher competitive environment. So in a sense league quality and player quality are the same thing. And you adjust for the difference in quality with a timeline.

I mean, why would you timeline unless you've already decided for some reason (pool? Bill James said so?) that there is a differential in the quality of play?

Finally, Ron, I would argue that one eight-team NL in '80-'81 saw a better caliber of play than it would see again until the end of the AA era, for exactly the same reason you downgrade '01-'06 versus the '90s. Certainly the caliber of play among eight teams in '81 was better than among 16 teams in '82. Whether "the pool" was growing enough to catch up in the later '80s or not is open to debate.

Other than that, I don't disagree with your analysis. But the question is value. A pennant in '85 was just as important as one in '15. Players who helped their team compete and maybe win pennants are just as valid as a part of baseball history regardless of when they played. The question is not, "could Ross Barnes or Ed Williamson, if picked up in a time machine and transported directly to 1915 or 2004, still compete?" It is just as valid to ask whether Jimmy Collins or Ryne Sandberg, if born 30 (or 130) years earlier, and faced with learning the game without modern coaching and training and equipment, could have competed.

The problem with the timeline is that in another 100 years Jimmy Collins will be a bum, too.
   174. DanG Posted: February 03, 2004 at 08:52 PM (#521325)
I'll try to articulate what I have against a popular argument in favor of Frank Grant. I often read something like, "There's NO evidence that he wasn't great." And there's No evidence that John Kerry wouldn't be a great president.

You see, it's a negative argument. We just can't say. What we KNOW looks good. It's saying, "what we don't know can't hurt us." It's an affirmation based on ignorance.

When we get to 1929-32 and are faced with ChrisJ's list above, people will use this same argument to elect Negro leaguers. Because we KNOW the white players are not "inner-circlers", should we vote for the black players who might be? Rather than go for the shabbily-dressed white guy with empty pockets, we'll vote for the well-dressed black gentleman, though we're not sure what's in his pockets or where he got the suit.

Sure, there are numbers to look at for black players. Are they statistically significant? Has anyone tried to translate them to MLB performance? Do we have a few hundred at bats against MLB players to reliably gauge their value? I think all the answers are "no".

Someone, please tell me that I've totally miscast that argument. I want to have reasons to vote FOR people, more than saying, "Based on the little I've seen, he's the best."
   175. Rick A. Posted: February 03, 2004 at 09:25 PM (#521326)
OK, time to discuss the merits of the original Louisville Slugger, Pete Browning. I just don't understand his lack of support.

Great hitter. OPS+ of 162. 3rd highest prime value on the ballot(after discounting for league quality) behind Lip Pike and Hughie Jennings.
   176. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 03, 2004 at 09:31 PM (#521327)
Re: timeline

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that the 1860s were better than the 1890s competition-wise (or the 1890s better than the 1970s for that matter). I think the pool of quality players has increased throughout the years. What drives me crazy is the assumption that no great players were around in the 1860s. Of all the books that I have read or posts here at the Primer, there is has been zilch evidence to show otherwise.

If I were to add to my ballot with Pearce and Wright the names Reach, Creighton, Chapman, Ferguson, Liggett and Brainard, then I would agree I would be going way too far. The competitive level of that time probably couldn't support a great number of outstanding players (though there might be a couple of exceptions). But Pearce, Wright (with the inducted Start) is not too much to ask, IMO (unless my alternative proposal is accepted).
   177. Jim Sp Posted: February 03, 2004 at 09:37 PM (#521328)
Gavvy Cravath is going to be an interesting debate.

His major league career is much shorter than Flick's (Cravath: 4512 PA). I suspect that even with his peak, that will not be enough.

So it will come down to how much credit people give him for his (strong) minor league excellence. I imagine we'll be all over the map in evaluating that, and therefore all over the map in where we place him. I don't see him as a sure fire first ballot guy.
   178. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 03, 2004 at 10:15 PM (#521329)
DanG,

In answer to your question, the best argument I feel I've made for Grant is here. The one thing I'll add to that is that there are no Negro League 2Brs in the Hall, making his showing that much more impressive.

One question I have in response to your post is what would you consider to be strong enough evidence? He hit & fielded very well in a high minor league, had a very strong reputation among his contemporaries & has maintained that strong reputation among those who study the Negro Leagues. Is there anything short of NL/AA stats that you'd find convincing?

I'd love to have seasons worth of data showing how he'd hit against the stars of the NL & AA, but that just isn't an option. We've got to deal with the best information we have & try to draw our conclusions from that. In the case of Frank Grant, it involves considerably more guesswork & less first-rate hard data than we're used to or would like. But the data we have all show that the guy could freakin' play.

The line about having no evidence that indicates he wouldn't be great doesn't mean there's no evidence, but that what evidence exists makes him seem like a heckuva player.

Final note: I hope the tone of this message doesn't come off too hostile or confrontational. That's not how I mean this, but once in a while I'll botch up the words & come off harsher than I want in an internet chat room like this.
   179. DanG Posted: February 03, 2004 at 10:38 PM (#521330)
No offense taken, ChrisJ. I agree that Grant could've had a fine major league career. If he's in the McPhee/Richardson class he's a HoMer. If he's in the Childs/Dunlap class he isn't. That's a fine distinction and we have nowhere near enough evidence to know on which side of the line he falls.

I'm trying to make the case to myself for Grant little by little. I could see myself voting for him in the 1920's. All I'm asking for is not "seasons worth of data", but more anecdotes, legends, rumors, anything. After his minor league days, who did he play for each year? His career spanned a lot of years. So did Deacon McGuire's. What did he DO? Was he ever hurt? Anything.

Most of the "mounting evidence" we're getting is rehashed analysis of the known facts. We know he was great in the minors for a few years. But zillions of guys were. What else ya got?
   180. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 03, 2004 at 10:56 PM (#521331)
Most of the "mounting evidence" we're getting is rehashed analysis of the known facts. We know he was great in the minors for a few years. But zillions of guys were. What else ya got?

Few comments. . . . First, IMO, a sizable portion of his value comes from his reputation for superb defensive play. That's something that I think can transfer very easily to the majors. While a AAA curveball ain't a major league curveball, a hot smash liner goes about the same speed & a well-turned doubleplay's still a well-turned doubleplay.

Second, I think there is reason to think he was better than his minor league numbers because of the extremely adverse conditions he played under. I've read that while in the IL he had to use wooden shinguards for a while due to the abuse white baserunners would give him as they tried to spike him as they slid. Add to that the emotional/mental turmoil that would come with being something of an outcast in the league.

Third, I think ultimately I'm just giving more weight to the experts' picks than you are. (shrugs) Hey, I'm also supporting Dickey Pierce.

One thing that I think would be interesting would be to look at how many players did as well as Grant did in the high minors at the time & see how they transfered into the majors. In particular, it would be interesting to see how other IL standouts that he played against did in the majors.

Ultimately, one has to take something of a guess when dealing with Grant. Again, I'd love to have all the info for him, but that just ain't an option. Based on my own internal guesstimate, I think he'd be more a Richardson than a Dunlap.
   181. jimd Posted: February 03, 2004 at 11:43 PM (#521332)
My "interpretation" of BP's "timeline". Also, as far as I've been able to tell, the new WARP-3 all-time pitching adjustments discount by about half as much as the old ones did, which is why Caruthers and Spalding, et al, improved so much. Apparently something got double-discounted in the old equations, or some such. So those "10%" numbers in the "timeline" post are now about 5%, and those old league comparison numbers I posted should be cut in half.
   182. jimd Posted: February 04, 2004 at 12:16 AM (#521333)
I don't have IL numbers but here's a post that I made comparing Grant to a number of young major league players with similar-looking stats at a similar age from the same era. (There's also some discussion following.)
   183. OCF Posted: February 04, 2004 at 12:59 AM (#521334)
Looking at Ron Wargo's post #190...

Chris J. already said in #192 what I'm going to say, but I'd like to expand on it a litle. Ron called 1892-1900 a "great quality era" and he called 1907-1919 a "good quality era" - worthy of his respect but ranking below 1892-1900. In 1892-1900, there were usually 12 teams (although 3 or 4 of them were terrible). In 1907-1919, there were usually 16 teams, and the worst of which were mostly more successful than the worst of the teams in the 12-team league. That is an moderate expansion in the number of major league jobs available, but what about the pool of talent those players were drawn from?

Who came into to the game for that 1907-1919 era? Three names catch the eye immediately: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Joe Jackson. Southerners, all three of them. How many Southerners were there before then? A few, but you still get the impression of these three as the headline cases for a new source of talent being opened up. And there there's the prairie West. Yes, there had always been players from places just west of the Mississippi (Iowa or St. Louis) but now Walter Johnson was from Kansas and Pete Alexander was from Nebraska. And further west than that - Gavy Cravath and Hal Chase weren't the first Californians in the big leagues, but that supply seemed to be increasing, too.
   184. ronw Posted: February 04, 2004 at 01:16 AM (#521335)
Relooking at my own post . . .

Besides being up late, why in the world do I subjectively rate 1907-1919 ahead of 1920-1960? No real difference in players, but a huge difference in strategy? I don't know. I may have to modify that.

I also think I see Marc's point now. It looks like, throughout these elections, when two candidates are close, I will almost always select the later candidate, because I feel he played against better competition. That is timelining, and is difficult to avoid for non stand-out candidates.

Finally, I see and accept people's arguments that even the 1890's were NE dominated (and of course, with no Negro Leaguers). This may downgrade the 1890's below the 1950's NL. I like the Southerner suggestion by OCF, which may be an excellent point. I suspect the 1950's quality increase can also be attributed to the final demise of the PCL as a viable alternative, along with the Negro League influx.
   185. Marc Posted: February 04, 2004 at 01:47 AM (#521336)
Hey, great discussion.

I agree with DanG. The case *for* Grant has to be a positive one, not a double negative. I think there is enough evidence for us to rank and rate Frank Grant, it's just that it takes a little more imagination and there will therefore be very wide swings in those evaluations. So be it.

The other side of that coin--and not saying anybody is guilty of anything here--but the other side of the coin is to be willfully uninformed about a player and then to say, well, we don't know enough. Kinda like George Bush and global warming, or me and Janet Jackson's right breast. (I blinked, what can I say.) I know I've got a lot of work to do to get up to speed on the Negro Leaguers other than the ones in Bill James' top 100.

Also, I don't *object* to the use of the timeline. Obviously, I'd be swimming upstream on that one, what with Bill James and Clay Davenport and most of you guys using it. I sometimes have used the term, "I object to the timeline," however. That doesn't mean you guys are a bunch of "no-brainers," it just means I don't use it for myself. The thrust of my posts on the timeline is just to clarify what I think it is and why one would use it--i.e. to adjust for presumed differences in the underlying quality of play). There are pros and cons. Pros--bigger pool. Cons--a pennant is a pennant. Good discussion.

Finally I have never used minor league stats except for guys like Frank Grant...OK, and for Jim Galvin who only got on my ballot down somewhere near the bottom when I added in some X credits for his play in the IL. I don't know why I did it. I didn't do it for McVey, and I don't do it for McGinnity and I won't do it for Gavy or Lefty Grove. Any player who coulda woulda shoulda been in the majors--i.e. not shut out by social forces like the color line but business forces within the game--doesn't get special credit. Where would it end? What about Cecil Fielder? Al Rosen? The entire starting lineup of the late '30s Newark team? I dunno.

Enough. Time for dinner.
   186. jimd Posted: February 04, 2004 at 03:25 AM (#521337)
Ron, on my posts above, click on the underlined portions to link to my previous posts on the subjects. If you already did, and have no comment, then "never mind".

"Any player who coulda woulda shoulda been in the majors--i.e. not shut out by social forces like the color line but business forces within the game--doesn't get special credit. "

Marc, I suppose that is your right, but it isn't fair to the player involved. He had no choice in the matter once he turned pro and was ensnared by the reserve system. And the further back we go, the more independent the minor league teams are, and the less efficient is the process of getting talent to the major leagues. Grove's "minor-league" Baltimore team was in a larger market and made more money and probably paid better salaries (and may have been a better team) than some of the major-league teams, and did not have to sell players to the majors until the management thought it was a good idea.
   187. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 04, 2004 at 07:11 PM (#521338)
Second, I think there is reason to think he was better than his minor league numbers because of the extremely adverse conditions he played under. I've read that while in the IL he had to use wooden shinguards for a while due to the abuse white baserunners would give him as they tried to spike him as they slid. Add to that the emotional/mental turmoil that would come with being something of an outcast in the league.

There's an additional factor that I mentioned over on the Negro Leaguers thread. I quoted a 1900 newspaper article in which Tom Brown said that in the white minors, the pitchers regularly threw at Grant's head trying to "drive him from the plate".
   188. jimd Posted: February 04, 2004 at 07:37 PM (#521339)
A note on HBP and the rule-book. The modern HBP rule (granting the hit batter 1B) was first instituted in the majors in the AA in 1884, supposedly because the bean-ball wars in the rough-and-tumble AA were getting out-of-hand. The NL did not adopt the rule until 1887 when the two leagues got together to iron out their rules differences. Of course, it's possible that the rule originated in one of the minor leagues before 1884. Anyone have any info on that?

Before 1884, if the batter was hit, it was just another ball. The umpire had the discretion of fining the pitcher, but another question is how often this was applied. The upshot is that, due to rules discrepancies, the IL pitchers may have been throwing at Grant (and the other ball-players, black and white) with complete impunity; it may have been just another "waste" pitch, hit or miss.
   189. Marc Posted: February 04, 2004 at 08:07 PM (#521340)
jimd, re. minor league records, is there a player for whom it makes a difference? A player whose major league record is NOT ballot-worthy, but who becomes ballot-worthy if you consider his minor league record? Maybe I already answered that myself in mentioning Galvin. Anybody else? Certainly not Lefty Grove.
   190. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 04, 2004 at 08:22 PM (#521342)
Possibly Cavath or any other long-timer PCLers that got a late start in the bigs. Those guys would be the ones most likely to get shorted by the combination of hit-or-miss scouting & logistical problems by the geographic distance. Maybe Lefty O'Doul? Did he start out in the PCL?
   191. karlmagnus Posted: February 04, 2004 at 08:34 PM (#521343)
How about Dr Strangeglove -- Dick Stuart? Broke Ruth's homer record in 1957 -- but in the wrong league.
   192. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 04, 2004 at 08:38 PM (#521344)
re: minor league contributions

If it can be shown that a player would have been a good (not just replacement level) player in the majors, I think that should be added to the player's overall value as a viable candidate.
   193. jimd Posted: February 04, 2004 at 09:15 PM (#521345)
What John Murphy just said.

No, I didn't have anybody in particular in mind other than Cravath. IIRC though, there were a few other examples mentioned in the first James HA.
   194. Daryn Posted: February 04, 2004 at 09:58 PM (#521346)
I don't think Cravath will get very high on my ballot -- at best he'll nestle in behind where Lip Pike is (which, I'll admit, could be pretty high by 1931). I see him as closer to George Stone, who no-one considers to be ballot worthy.
   195. OCF Posted: February 04, 2004 at 10:47 PM (#521347)
It's been more than a year since Honus Wagner played a major league game, so he's retired. Two things about him:

A: Wagner apparently engaged in strenuous off-season conditioning activities. In defiance of the conventional wisdom of his times (which would remain conventional wisdom for at least 50 more years), his activities apparently included weight-lifting.

B: Although Wagner was great in his late 20's, he was greater in his early 30's. He had his single best year at the age of 34, he was still great at 38 and he was still good at 42.

It seems there's a connection that could be drawn from point A to point B. How come it took so long to figure that out?
   196. Marc Posted: February 04, 2004 at 11:18 PM (#521348)
>If it can be shown that a player would have been a good (not just replacement level) player in the majors, I
   197. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 04, 2004 at 11:30 PM (#521349)
John, I don't mean to be dogmatic about it. I did factor in minor league for Jim Galvin. But I just can't think of any other player for whom I would do that. Sorry, Lefty.

I wasn't in anyone's corner regarding the inclusion of their minor league seasons. I was just indicating what my criteria would be.

After a thorough review of Grove's Baltimore years (which I haven't done yet), I might find myself in agreement with you.
   198. OCF Posted: February 05, 2004 at 01:01 AM (#521350)
My interpretation of Marc's "Certainly not Lefty Grove" in #216 is that when you look at 300 wins and a 148 career OPS+, you won't need to add in any credit for anything he did prior to to 1925 to decide where he's going on your ballot. He won't be competing with Johnson or Alexander on that ballot, after all. We're not charged with deciding whether he's the #1 pitcher of all time, merely whether he's in the top 40 or 50, and that's easy.
   199. Rob Wood Posted: February 05, 2004 at 01:29 AM (#521351)
Regarding Willie Keeler's offensive prowess, by my calculations his park-adjsted career on base pct exceeded his league avg by 65 points and his park-adjusted career slugging pct exceeded his league avg by 66 points. Players in this neighborhood are:
   200. DanG Posted: February 05, 2004 at 04:09 AM (#521352)
OCF wrote:

We're not charged with deciding whether he's the #1 pitcher of all time, merely whether he's in the top 40 or 50, and that's easy.

This prompts me to raise the idea again of whether we ought to create an inner circle for the HoM. Here's one way to do it. There are infinite possible permutations, of course.

At our current pace, we will finish up with the 2012 election (in 2007 real time). That's 115 total elections. We could hold a separate election five times, every 23 years, and elect five of the existing HoMers to the Inner Circle each time, for a total of 25. With that schedule, the Inner Circle elections would be held after our regular elections in 1920, 1943, 1966, 1989, and 2012.

Alternatively, rather than base it on the number of years, it could be based on our number of enshrinees. Our final count is somewhere in the 245 range, so we could have our five Inner Circle elections after enshrinees #49, 98, 147, 196, and 245.
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