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Monday, February 23, 2004

1921 Ballot Discussion

We’ll place the new Negro League eligibility rules into effect this year (see the thread). Newcomers:

***1921 (March 7)?elect 2
WS W3 Rookie Name-Pos (Died)
328 74.8 1899 Tommy Leach-CF/3b (1969)
258 65.6 1902 Joe Tinker-SS (1948)
255 56.4 1902 George Mullin-P (1944)
231 53.7 1901 Roger Bresnahan-C (1944)
163 39.1 1904 Hooks Wiltse-P (1959)
151 37.8 1904 Frank Smith-P (1952)
149 34.8 1904 Jim Delahanty-2b (1953)
138 34.1 1906 Frank LaPorte-2b (1939)
140 31.7 1906 Red Murray-RF (1958)
138 30.3 1905 Al Bridwell-SS (1969)
125 33.9 1910 Russ Ford-P (1960)
118 31.0 1902 Germany Schaefer-2b (1919)
126 25.1 1909 Steve Evans-RF (1943)
111 25.4 1904 George Stovall-1b (1951)
NEGRO LEAGUES Home Run Johnson

I see it as 3 borderline players (Leach, Tinker and Bresnahan) and one solid Negro League candidate. The job gets a little tougher this year . . .

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: February 23, 2004 at 12:01 PM | 298 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Al Peterson Posted: February 23, 2004 at 02:19 PM (#522043)
Leach and Tinker are eligible this year and Miller Huggins is not because...I don't see it. Looks like a token appearance of 15 PAs in 1916 for Huggy so I'd think he could be considered now.

If not what's another year I guess.
   2. DanG Posted: February 23, 2004 at 02:59 PM (#522045)
Leach and Tinker are eligible this year and Miller Huggins is not because...I don't see it. Looks like a token appearance of 15 PAs in 1916 for Huggy so I'd think he could be considered now.

I hear you, Al; in the spirit of the rule, Huggins would be eligible now. However, we opted for an objective rule that could be easily applied to 99% of retired players. So Huggins waits another year.
   3. DanG Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:03 PM (#522046)
HOM Candidates Who Will Die in 1921

Age Eligible
   4. Daryn Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:06 PM (#522047)
I've got Leach paired with Sheckard at 13, Bresnahan with Bennett at 6 and Tinker just off the ballot. But Johnson is the interesting one. I've got Grant at 3 and I can't see placing Johnson below Grant. I'd like to hear if there are any Grant supporters out there who would keep him ahead of Johnson and if so, why? (I see TomH has Grant ahead, but what I've read here and elsewhere leads me to a different conclusiion -- btw, the pictorial link at the end of Negro Leagues thread is very good).
   5. MattB Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:08 PM (#522048)
Anyone else leaning toward a 15-man tie for first?

I want to add all four top contenders, but it's knocking off too many worthies, who I'm now reconsidering.

This is definitely a week to re-examine the 16-30 pool to see if I've let anyone drop off who should go back on.
   6. MattB Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:10 PM (#522049)
BTW, to anyone who has been keeping score, and assuming all the ballots are in, can someone make my job 1/15th easier by telling me which player I should NOT be considering this week?
   7. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:29 PM (#522050)
Anyone else leaning toward a 15-man tie for first?

You've narrowed it down to only 15? Wish I could . . .

George Mullin's RSIs, <a >adjusted W/L record</a> & level of defensive support (in terms of Def. Win Shares) compared to league average.

.......RSI..W/L.....Def
   8. Marc Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:40 PM (#522051)
None of the newcomers is an obvious top 5 or anything, but:

? Home Run Johnson replaces Grant as the top Negro candidate.
   9. Rusty Priske Posted: February 23, 2004 at 03:46 PM (#522053)
I have not been keeping score, but just eyeballing it says Walsh. My prelim assumes that, but I will adjust it if I am mistaken (which I hope I am, but obviously I am in a minority)

My Prelim:

1. Bobby Wallace (1,x,x)
   10. Chris Cobb Posted: February 23, 2004 at 04:27 PM (#522054)
Here's my preliminary take on the new eligibles:

1) Home Run Johnson. Someone suggested ranking all candidates in a 15-way tie this week. Johnson, I think, is the one who breaks up the group. I see him as a clear #1, comparable to George Davis, who was a clear #1 on a stronger ballot otherwise than this one is. I'll have more to say about my reasoning for that, but I'm convinced of Johnson's merit.

2) Bresnahan will debut mid-ballot. He's not as meritorious as Bennett, but he was a great player and the best catcher 1900-1920. Still sorting him out with Sheckard, Grant, Jennings.

3) Leach will start out low on the ballot, I think. WS and WARP see him very differently, possibly because of the league-adjustment WARP applies to the NL. Could drop off ballot below Childs/Williamson, but I think his career is too good for that. Like Sheckard, he lacks a clearly unified peak period, but he had a number of excellent seasons and excelled at two important defensive positions.

4) Tinker will not make my ballot. Great defensive player, but a weak hitter and career was not especially long. No justification for putting him ahead of Childs/Williamson/Herman Long. Long especially defines a clear an upper bound for Tinker; Long was also great defensively, about the same as a hitter, had a better peak, and had a longer career. One might say that Long's career was extended by the arrival of the American League, but Tinker's career was extended by the arrival of the Federal League. Tinker places somewhere between 20 and 30 on my ballot.

5) George Mullin will not make my ballot. I haven't done a full study of him yet (thanks, Chris J., for the RSI numbers) but unless a look at defensive and offensive support turns up something truly shocking, I can't see Mullin ranking ahead of Vic Willis, who is not close to my ballot.
   11. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 23, 2004 at 05:28 PM (#522056)
For anyone looking for some info on Johnson, here's a quick overview of him.
   12. OCF Posted: February 23, 2004 at 06:24 PM (#522057)
For George Mullin, I've got an RA+-Pythag. equivalent record of 206-204. From what Chris J. said about his defensive support, that sells him a little short. If I were a GM, I'd want this guy. A workhorse. A reliable, year-to-year consistent inning-eater with a league-average RA+. But I'd want him to be my #3 or maybe #2 pitcher - if I want to win the pennant, I'd want an ace, and that isn't Mullin. Tremendously valuable, but not a serious candidate for the HoM.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 06:43 PM (#522058)
Prelim:

1) Dickey Pearce
   14. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 23, 2004 at 07:34 PM (#522059)
I've got Grant at 3 and I can't see placing Johnson below Grant. I'd like to hear if there are any Grant supporters out there who would keep him ahead of Johnson and if so, why?

No, I wouldn't put Grant ahead of Johnson, who is the best Negro Leaguer we've seen so far.
   15. karlmagnus Posted: February 23, 2004 at 07:46 PM (#522060)
Craig B, how do you KNOW that Johnson is better than Grant? The sketchy figures we have on Grant in his early minor league career and 1890s blackball put him close to the Richardson/McPhee level, although there's a leap of faith that he actually was that good. Johnson does appear to be infinitesimally better than Monroe, so far as one can tell, but I haven't (yet, convince me) seen evidence that he was better than Grant -- his career is even more lost in the murkiness of America's worst Jim Crow period.

I'm all in favor of electing early African-American ballplayers, partly because I lean against electing too many from the 1930s, as I think the HOF have done. But I'm not (yet) seeing any apart from Grant with even a moderately convincing case.
   16. ronw Posted: February 23, 2004 at 09:34 PM (#522061)
Listening to The Glory of Their Times recordings during a long car trip, mixed with the recent Bonds allegations got me thinking . . . what to do about blatant cheating with substances?

I ask this now, in the context of someone who won't be elected, Russ Ford. In TGOTT, Jimmy Austin mentions that Russ Ford became great due in part to rubbing the ball with sandpaper on his belt, which Austin claims was illegal at the time.

In the same recording, Joe Wood mentioned that his old teammate Eddie Cicotte wasn't great until he started illegally putting paraffin on the ball. Rube Bressler also mentioned that these substance pitches were illegal. (Bressler mentioned a "coffee ball" where they put coffee in the seams.)

First question, which Paul Wendt may have to answer, were these actually illegal pitches during the deadball era? I thought the 1920 season was the first in which all of those pitches were outlawed, along with the spitter.

Second question, I realize it won't matter with Ford, and Cicotte has other issues, but were there any HOM candidate pitchers who put substances on the ball?

Third question, are people taking this into account when looking at deadball pitchers in particular? I haven't heard any illegal pitches being thrown by Joss, but Walsh threw a (legal) spitter, and possibly illegal paraffin ball. I have not been taking this into account.

Finally, if you don't have TGOTT recordings get them now.
   17. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 23, 2004 at 09:47 PM (#522062)
[insert standard apology about post length]

Re: Joe Tinker (Or more accurately, the Cubs defense in their long long gone glory years).

Never been quite sure what to make of those old Cubs teams. Most wins in a single-season, or a two year period, or 3 year period, or 4 year, or . . . . up to a ten year period. Yet they only had one clear cut HoFer & only one other player (Sheckard) who looks to get in here. To me, that seems really strange. Were they just a really solid team? Definately, but baseball history's full of really solid teams that didn't win anywhere near as many games as those Cubs did. To me, they look like an overachieving team, & when I see an overachieving (or underachieving) team, one of the first things I do is look at defense.

Now, there's no defensive stat I really really like. They all got their problems, but there's some that (to me at any rate) make more sense. I like Win Shares because it adopts a team based approach, but I do wonder at times how well it separates pitching from fielding (or how inseparable those things are). Another one I like is Defensive Efficency, or Hit% (same thing, one is the inverse of the other - DE is outs off of balls in play, H% is hits of BIP - they tell you the same thing, so if/when I flip between the two here, roll with it).

One final note before I get into it: There are some perfectly valid criticisms of H%/DE. On this very site, Chris Dial wrote a good critique of it recently. Though a pitcher's impact on the ball may be smaller than generally believed, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If a staff is more prone to flyballs their DE will be lower because flyballs are more likely to result in outs. Park factors play a huge role in it (get an old STATS handbook & figure the H/R splits for some teams - it can be as high as 30-50 points). All valid points in general, but I don't really think they apply here because: 1) too many pitchers did better for the Cubs than they did elsewhere in those years. This includes the good pitchers like Brown & Reulbach, 2) I've never seen/heard anything indicating that Brown & Co. were flyballers, & 3) the Cubs' park, while shading toward favoring pitchers, was generally fairly mild in its park effects in these years. So I do think that H% can give a good approximation of the quality of the Cubs defense.
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 09:55 PM (#522063)
Revised prelim:

1) Dickey Pearce
   19. OCF Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:01 PM (#522064)
I posted this once before. I'm repeating myself just to place it near Chris J.'s #19. Chris made this point as part of his post; the following is a few supporting details.

When I look at the Cubs, the things I see include the following pitchers:

Buttons Briggs, after an undistinguished trial in his early 20's, suddenly reappeared (probably from the minors) at the age of 28 for the 1904 Cubs - and immediately had ERA+ of 129 and 138 in 1904-05.

Carl Lundgren had a 212 ERA+ in > 200 IP in 1907. Who's Carl Lundgren?

Jack Pfiester washed out of brief trials with another team at ages 25-26. At ages 28-29, he was with the 1906-07 Cubs posting ERA+ of 174 and 216.

Orval Overall had ERA+ of 115 and 65 in a year and a half with another team. In his first three and a half years with the Cubs his ERA+ was 140, 148, 122, 179.

Chick Fraser was a long career pitcher with a losing record. Still, at the ages of 36 and 37 he managed better than league average ERA in spot use for the Cubs.

Rube Kroh had only one season with > 100 IP: for the 1909 Cubs, ERA+ 154.

King Cole had ERA+ of 159 and 105 in two years with the Cubs and was bad after he left them.

Not everyone follows quite this pattern. You can't make that kind of case from, say, Harry McIntire. Ed Reulbach had a long, good career and was good for other teams. But the overall sense is of interchangable parts - that many different pitchers could succeed with the Cubs.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:16 PM (#522066)
But the overall sense is of interchangable parts - that many different pitchers could succeed with the Cubs.

Which team of that era abused their pitchers the least?
   21. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:21 PM (#522067)
Which team of that era abused their pitchers the least?
   22. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:25 PM (#522068)
Looks like the Cubs or Pirates to me.
   23. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:26 PM (#522069)
karlmangus, I would need to go back to my Negro Leagues material to get a solid footing on why I think (thought?) Johnson is better than Grant, who is #5 on my ballot. It may just be chauvinism erlated to the later era in which he played.

Johnson had excellent numbers in the Cuban league (.319 with power over five years in a severe pitcher's league). He played, starred, and played well on the two best teams of his time, the '06 Philly Giants and the 1910-11 Chicago Leland Giants/American Giants. As well as the 1910 Cuban all-stars.
   24. Chris Cobb Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:28 PM (#522070)
Chris J., great stuff!

Re hits prevented leading to runs prevented: I make a similar calculation when I adjust pitcher records for team defensive support. I calculate hits saved the same way you do, I guess, then I use the basic runs created formula to determine the run value of adding one hit on a ball in play for the league that year, then I multiply the run value per hit by the hits saved. For comparative purposes, here are the runs saved from hits saved I get for the Cubs, 1903-1910 (I don't have the figures for 1911-13 yet -- I'll be getting them soon as I prepare to work up the wins above average value of Three-Finger Brown), using your hits saved numbers:

1903 -- 64
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:33 PM (#522071)
5) Home Run Johnson

I'm getting the feeling even this is too low for him. I'm thinking maybe #1 or 2 for him now. He sounds like he was an amazing player - power, batting eye, defense, and long career. Not just a great Negro leaguer, but great - period!
   26. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:33 PM (#522072)
I'm certainly not here to vouch for the superiority of my methods by any means

When it comes to the final step (looking at runs) I'll gladly concede to dang near anyone. I think my numbers came off way too high & the way I used to calculate was essentially a I-can't-think-of-a-good-way-so-let's-try-this method.
   27. jimd Posted: February 23, 2004 at 10:52 PM (#522073)
From page 33 of Win Shares:

"a rule which says that the Defensive Win Shares of a team cannot be less than .16375 per game played, nor more than .32375 per game played."
   28. jimd Posted: February 23, 2004 at 11:12 PM (#522074)
I reposted this on the WARP-3 thread, so that any "technical" discussions can be hashed out there, leaving this thread for the year at hand.
   29. OCF Posted: February 23, 2004 at 11:30 PM (#522075)
It's an oddball sort of comparison, but somehow it's the one I'm looking at. Does Tommy Leach go ahead of or behind Cupid Childs? My first take is behind. How do others see it, and can you think of a better comparison?
   30. Howie Menckel Posted: February 23, 2004 at 11:51 PM (#522076)
Leach hit .269 in a .267 environment.
   31. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 23, 2004 at 11:57 PM (#522077)
He's no Jimmy Sheckard, it seems, even with a positional adjustment.

I think Sheckard is a little better, but not much.
   32. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 24, 2004 at 12:03 AM (#522078)
Re: Tinker's Def Win Shares.

Joe Tinker, who's 28th in innings with 15406 at SS in the Win Shares book, is 9th in DWS at SS. He rates in at 7.28/1000innings. Everyone above him in innings has a lower rate (Wagner's best at 6.89). Below him, here's the innings & rate for everyone better than him:

Marty Marion 13320, 7.32
   33. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 24, 2004 at 12:23 AM (#522079)
Doesn't excite me at all unless someone convinces me he was a great, great fielder.

Not here to excite, but . . .

Leach's an A+ fielder at 3B & OF. Neat trick. At third he ranks 43 in win shares while only being 91st in innings at that position (to be fair, that's in part because of the era he played in obviously). His WS/1000 innings is 5.76. The following players can top that:

Bobby Wallace 6.73 (3661 innings)
   34. Max Parkinson Posted: February 24, 2004 at 12:44 AM (#522080)
Chris J.,

I find Leach's WS defensive #s shocking, as I had only seen his WARP data to date - and there's a huge difference. WARP has him as a slightly above average 3rd baseman, and slightly below average OF. Do you have WS in soft copy, broken down by Batting, Pitching, Fielding (by year would be even better)? I'd love to know how the gap could be so great. Please email me if you do.

Thanks,
   35. Jeff M Posted: February 24, 2004 at 02:19 AM (#522082)
My prelim. I never expected Leach to come out so well. Sheckard and Beckley slide off for now.

1. COLLINS, JIMMY*
   36. EricC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 02:47 AM (#522084)
1921 prelim. More of a ballot of attrition than one where I'm strongly supporting anybody. Jennings and Waddell are up a slot each, Bresnahan debuts at #3, and the rest of the ballot is basically unchanged from the 1920 election

1. Hughie Jennings
   37. OCF Posted: February 24, 2004 at 02:52 AM (#522085)
Was intentionally scuffing, darkening, or applying foreign substances to the ball ever legal? I don't know the rules they way others know the rules, but I suspect not. The problem is practical enforcement. Suppose that the ball in use has been scuffed or discolored, but the umpire didn't see who did it. What can be done? There is a very simple "no-fault" method of enforcment: get rid of the ball. The frugality of the teams created a desire to play the game using as few new balls as possible, so they kept the bad ball in play. It was the tradition. What changed (with the death of Ray Chapman?) may not have been the rule, but the practical enforcement of it.

A modern scuffer (like Ford?) would have to find a way to scuff dozens of new balls every game. It's not easy, and the chances of getting caught (Joe Niekro?) are higher.
   38. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 03:10 AM (#522086)
Prelim. assuming a certain Irish pitcher was elected. (It's hard to think of anything he did to the ball being "kosher," BTW!)

PS. Eric, Hughie Jennings career overlapped with Honus Wagner's who was so much better.

All already in my HoM:

1. Charlie Bennett
   39. Chris Cobb Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:28 AM (#522087)
I have Home Run Johnson at #1 on the 1921 ballot.

Here are the facts of his career as I have them, with a little bit of analysis thrown in.

1) Career -- played at highest professional level available from age 21 through age 42; was a star from his first season at least through age 39.

2) Major Roles with Championship Teams
   40. jimd Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:33 AM (#522088)
Bresnahan's playing time in '05-'08, relative to typical catcher usage of the time was as impressive as any 4 year stretch of Bennett;

You're easily impressed ;-) Using the table I posted in the Catchers thread a while back, Bresnahan's 1905-08 rate as 1.00, .95, 1.04, 1.29 relative to typical catcher usage; three average years plus 1908 as a workhorse. Bennett's top 4-year span 1881-84 rate 1.27, 1.14, 1.14, 1.11; one year comparable to Bresnahan's workhorse year, and three other years at 10-15% more work than a typical #1 catcher. His 1886 season also checks in at 1.28.

Bresnahan's catching career added up to 10.5 seasons of a typical catcher's load for his time.
   41. jimd Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:43 AM (#522089)
pitching value and batting value of a pitcher can not be added- you can't win the same game twice

Sorry, but this makes about as much sense to me as asserting that fielding and batting value can not be added.
   42. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 24, 2004 at 05:27 AM (#522090)
Max - all I have is the WS book. I just looked through the end section counting how many were better than Leach as I went along.

Chris Cobb: Isn't the Rush story about Lloyd possibly fictious? I just read that chapter of "Blackball Stars" the other day & John Holway starts off the paragraph by saying: "ANd it mayb e apocryphal, but . . . "

Prelim ballot. Based on what I found out last week about how almost every major pitcher of this era seemed to have above average defensive support, I'm downgrading where I have pitchers a little this week. Nothing huge - but since this was an era where pitchers didn't give it their all on most pitches they must have been more reliant on defense. At any rate, it's a tight tight ballot. I'll try counting all the way to 30 for the first time this year & I'm not so sure 8th is much better than 24th. So here it goes:

1) Jimmy Collins. A slighly increased attention to defense ain't going to hurt him.
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 24, 2004 at 05:41 AM (#522091)
15) George Van Haltren. Could do it all, include possibly fall off my ballot again.

LOL
   44. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 24, 2004 at 05:54 AM (#522092)
9) Jim Pearce. He'll never get in. Doesn't mean he isn't worth, though.

Are you kidding? Have you seen his numbers with the Senators and Reds from the '50s? :-)
   45. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 06:03 AM (#522093)
Best OPS+ (over 120; * are non-catcher years and ^ are non-batting championship eligible years)

Bennett 161 155 151 149 138 132 128
   46. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 03:48 PM (#522107)
>was he clearly the best player of his day in the Negro Leagues? He
   47. RobC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 03:49 PM (#522108)
1. Bobby Wallace - Best career value on the ballot, moves to the top.
   48. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:17 PM (#522109)
Andrew, one of the great BRJ articles of all time, way back in 1986, was a shortstop ranking by Dave Neft. He developed a batting factor (made up of OBA and SA), added a (small) baserunning factor and a fielding factor. Eg. Honus Wagner (#1 of course)

Wagner BF .484 BRF .026 FF .099 = Rating .614

Dave Bancroft came in second (TR .538), then:

Wallace .388 + .009 +.120 = .527

The Ozzie and Ray Chapman (!) and then

Tinker .358 + .013 + .093 = .495

Rest of top 10 are Maranville, Bush, Bartell and Cronin.

Top FF: Ozzie, Maranville, Bancroft, Wallace, Wagner, Chapman, Tinker, Bush, G. McBride, Bartell.

Take away Wagner as an outlier and the differentials are as follows (from #2 to #100): Batting Factor range from .451 Arky Vaughan to .314 Chick Galloway (137 points). Fielding Factor range from +.174 Ozzie to -.018 (192 points). Baserunning Factor range .030 Maury Wills to zero (30 points). Given these ranges the final ratings might correlate to the fielding numbers more than to the batting numbers though I am not sure. But that would certainly explain the top 10 which does not nclude guys like Appling, Boudreau, Vaughn, Banks, etc.

And my point being that a fielding-oriented rating system has Tinker at #6 all-time, though granting that Ripken and Yount and even Ozzie (at #4) were not fully represented (still active) at the time. And noting that 19th century players (Davis, Dahlen, Jennings, Glasscock et al) are not included in the study.
   49. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:25 PM (#522110)
>Others of importance who were close to top 30:
   50. karlmagnus Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:38 PM (#522111)
I'm not too worried that we have't elected a Negro Leaguer yet. We've gone through an interminable series of elect-only-1 years, which has resulted in a huge backlog of guys like Bennett, Thompson and Caruthers who should probably have been in years ago, and are now being compared with players way out of their era, as well as another group (Duffy/Ryan/VanH) who have been on the ballot a decade and are now being unjustly forgotten. Grant is a victim of this.

From 1924-32, with only 1931 an elect-1 year, we should be able to move a lot of this backlog, which will give us more room to look at the good quality Negro Leaguers (Hill, Lloyd, Torriente) that will start cropping up. Also, I'm not convinced that the supply of plausible HOMers will increase with the number to be elected, or even that it should (EITHER expansion dilutes quality OR it incrases the number of HOMers, but surely not both.)
   51. RobC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 04:39 PM (#522112)
Marc,

My problem with Johnson may be temporary. But it is this: none of the supposed experts think much of him. The lists I have seen dont seem to think much of him. Maybe all the best players were at shortstop, so he just doesnt rank high there. But, that is problematic too, that seems to imply that the level of play was extremely low, like high school baseball where the best hitters are also the best fielders.

As far as electing Negro Leaguers, I dont think it will be a problem. I have Grant at 8th on my ballot this year, and he isnt in my top 20 Negro Leaguers of all time. When the guys I have above him finally become eligible, I will be putting them above Grant. Johnson just isnt one of them.

Looking at my list, under the old eligibility rules, I have 1 guy from the 20's (Poles) who may or may not be above Grant, and 6 guys from the 30's who will be. I dont see Lloyd and Torriente and Williams having any problems getting elected, but Johnson just is not one of them.

Quick count, I have 13 guys who will be eligible before Gibson who I think are better than Grant. It will be tough fitting all of them above Grant on my ballot if we dont elect some of them.
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: February 24, 2004 at 06:16 PM (#522113)
Responses to RobC:

My problem with Johnson may be temporary. But it is this: none of the supposed experts think much of him. The lists I have seen dont seem to think much of him. Maybe all the best players were at shortstop, so he just doesnt rank high there. But, that is problematic too, that seems to imply that the level of play was extremely low, like high school baseball where the best hitters are also the best fielders.

I don't know what certain experts were thinking when they left out Grant Johnson. I have to conclude that James's file on Grant Johnson was in the same place with his file on Negro-League pitchers and the 101-200-ranked major-league pitchers. There's no way, if one looks at the records of the players, that Grant Johnson isn't _at least_ among the top 10 shortstops in negro-league history. The fact that James doesn't have him even in the top 10, while he has a player whom he describes as being like Mark Belanger in the top 10, leads me to conclude that James's omission of Johnson is simply an oversight. Johnson's credentials are better than Bill Monroe's, better (in my opinion) than Pete Hill's (though Hill's, from what I have seen so far, are very good), and James places both of them in his top 10 lists. Conclusion: it's such an egregious omission that it appears more likely a mistake than a deliberate exclusion.

Regarding the quality of play: by the first years of the twentieth century, the best black teams were _competitive_ with major-league teams. I need Holway's book (which I'm still waiting on) to find the total record of exhibition play for the decade, but the Philadelphia Giants beat the Philadelphia Athletics early in the decade (that's where Foster's nickname comes from), and Foster's Leland Giants narrowly lost a series to the Cubs in October, 1909. These were the best black teams, and they were _competitive_ against teams that were above-average in the majors during this time. More data should corroborate this point, but the idea that the best black teams were "high school level" is certainly incorrect. The teams played against all kinds of competition, but they were above all of their competition except for major-league teams and the other top black teams -- that's why they won 80-90% of their games.

(If someone on the list who already has Holway's book would be willing to put together a summary of the history of competition between black teams and major league teams [including the efforts of Ban Johnson and Judge Landis to suppress it to avoid the embarrassment of losses to black teams], I think that would help the case of black players greatly with voters who are skeptical about the quality of play in black baseball.)

As to the idea that all the best hitters being the best fielders suggests a low-quality game, how would that analysis apply to the major leagues during the deadball era? How many position players have we elected or are we going to elect from this era who were not regarded as excellent defensive players as well as excellent hitters?

Looking at my list, under the old eligibility rules, I have 1 guy from the 20's (Poles) who may or may not be above Grant, and 6 guys from the 30's who will be. I dont see Lloyd and Torriente and Williams having any problems getting elected, but Johnson just is not one of them.

Rob, if you don't think Pop Lloyd will have any problems getting elected, how can you not have Home Run Johnson in your top 30?

1910-1913: Grant Johnson hits appx. .389 vs. all competition
   53. DanG Posted: February 24, 2004 at 06:16 PM (#522114)
Tinker was an RBI guy. Players with 570 RBI 1902-13:

1--1072 Crawford
   54. Chris Cobb Posted: February 24, 2004 at 06:22 PM (#522115)
So Joe Tinker, not Sam Thompson, was Juan Gone? :-)

Neat info, Dan!
   55. Daryn Posted: February 24, 2004 at 06:45 PM (#522116)
1. Joe Mcginnity ? led league in wins 5 times, averaged 25 wins a year, led league in IP 4 straight years. Very close in value to first ballot inductee Walsh.

2. Home run Johnson - best blackball player to date. The pitchblackbaseball.com summary is pretty good. I am treating this election as if it were 1921. I don't even know who Jackie Robinson is. Isn't that supposed to be the way we look at this?

3. Jimmy Collins ? great defensive 3b, probably mvp in 1898, good win shares, good grey ink. Howie menckel says he may be the most dominant fielder of all time. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I toyed with moving him to 10th. My 1 thru 14 on this ballot are very tight. After that, there is a big drop-off for me.

4. Frank Grant ? no stats, gut pick based on descriptions of a great excluded player. I?m more sold on him than before based on the commentaries in the past few weeks.

5. Charlie Bennett ? catchers underrepresented, 8 straight solid to spectacular seasons. I think this guy has to go in. We are covering 50 years by now and we have only elected one guy who played more games at catcher than any other position. Even if you accept that they generally put fungible resources at catcher prior to 1900 or 1910, one is not enough (either is 3 or 4 for that matter, if you also count one, some or all of White, McVey and Kelly). He may have to wait until 1926-1928.

6. Roger Bresnahan ? It is just a coincidence that I have him right next to Bennett. Great OBP, arguably the best catcher in baseball for a six year period. Counting stats, like all catchers of this time and earlier, are really poor. Maybe I have him too high -- it?s here or 15th, but I don't like too many of the guys below him. Tight ballot.

7. Mickey Welch ? 300 wins, lots of grey ink. This is the only pick I have that I would not be excited about defending. Could be as low as 14th. I?m not looking forward to the time that Bresnahan and Welch are at the top of my ballot, but everyone else below has question marks that I can?t ignore. I may drop Bresnahan when it gets to that, but I don?t think I?ll drop Welch.

8. Jake Beckley -- ~3000 hits but no black ink at all. My type of hall of meriter. The Beckley supporters have done some pretty good analysis of how strong his career was, even absent a real peak. Baseballreality.com has him as the best first baseman in baseball for a long time.

9. Bobby Wallace ? like Sheckard, too many Win Shares to ignore, but unless he was a great defender (and people seem to think he was, .34ws/1000 from an A) he doesn?t belong close to this high. Is he Ozzie or Tony Fernandez? I do compare ss?s as hitters to other hitters and as fielders to other ss?s. I don?t think this is wrong.

10. Bill Munroe ? I think he was pretty good. Any blackball player that is even talked about as among the best 70 years later is pretty good. I?ll take McGraw?s word for it. I am pairing him with Wallace, but maybe I should be pairing him with Collins.

11. Sam Thompson ? 8 dominating years, great ops+, lots of black ink in multiple categories. I have lowered him as it becomes apparent that others of his value are entering the ballot more frequently. I am lowering him again because I am more convinced his defense faired poorly compared to others on and near this ballot.

12. Bob Caruthers ? nice Winning percentage, great peak, short career, surprisingly low era+, 130 ops+ as a hitter . I?m lowering him a bit just based on uneasiness about the correctness of this ranking. And now lowering him again.

13. Jimmy Sheckard ? I can?t ignore 339 win shares and he did walk a lot ? throw in above average defense, a home run title and strong seasons 8 years apart and I guess I wouldn?t be embarrassed if he got in.
   56. DanG Posted: February 24, 2004 at 07:22 PM (#522117)
(#54) - JoeDimino wrote:
   57. RobC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 07:39 PM (#522118)
DanG,

As was pointed out to me when this was being discussed, the eligibility is a guideline and not a hard rule. Weren't you one of the people arguing against the hard rule (I thought I was the only one on the strict rule side of the debate)?
   58. RobC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 07:46 PM (#522119)
Chris,

Looking at the Cool Papa's list the experts had Johnson as tied for the 3rd best SS not in the HoF. I missed that the first time thru, so he does improve a little. But still, 3rd? He get zero votes from them for best SS. Frank Grant finishes first amonst 2B not in, and gets 1 vote for best overall 2B.

My point about high school baseball was not that I believe it, but that since I consider the Negro Leagues to be a Major League, then I have to expect some bit of positional balance. Thus, a top vote getting 2B has to rank above a 3rd place SS (this is after we have eliminated the super candidates - I have to assume that MOST of the NgLers in the HoF will make the HoM).
   59. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 24, 2004 at 08:02 PM (#522120)
Anyway, my point is that in my gut I see "Tommy Leach" and I think "top 10." And then I crunch some numbers and he turns out to be #25 or #30.

There are just too many guys piling up on our lists. Some have more peak; others more career.

FWIW, I have Leach exactly #30. However, the difference between #16 and #30 is not that much. He could easily move up ten slots without any problem.
   60. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 08:25 PM (#522121)
John, who knows, by about 1985 Leach could be pushing up to the top. At least I know he will be ahead of Tinkers to Evers to Chance and Bresnahan and Harry Hooper.
   61. RobC Posted: February 24, 2004 at 08:31 PM (#522122)
My point about high school baseball was not that I believe it, but that since I consider the Negro Leagues to be a Major League, then I have to expect some bit of positional balance. Thus, a top vote getting 2B has to rank above a 3rd place SS (this is after we have eliminated the super candidates - I have to assume that MOST of the NgLers in the HoF will make the HoM).

I'm not sure the example of the major leagues suggests that among the great players, even after eliminating the super candidates. While I strongly advocate comparing playerrs to other eligible players, I don't think that Johnson in any way suffers by comparison to the later players who got more support in the _Cool Papas_ poll. Grant Johnson's bio at baseballlibrary.com is very terse (nowhere the detail available in Riley), but the bios are fuller for Dick Lundy and John Beckwith, the shortstops who rank ahead of him in the _Cool Papas_ poll, and for the top second-basemen in the poll (after Frank Grant): Sammy T. Hughes and Newt Allen. Just take a look at the information in these four bios and see how they compare to Grant Johnson.
   62. DanG Posted: February 24, 2004 at 08:52 PM (#522123)
RobC wrote:

As was pointed out to me when this was being discussed, the eligibility is a guideline and not a hard rule. Weren't you one of the people arguing against the hard rule (I thought I was the only one on the strict rule side of the debate)?

I did argue against a hard rule, as I was fully aware of the possibilities for a gray area. We tried to write a simple rule so voters could figure out who was eligible without asking the "ballot committee". Except for those unusual cases where players came back and played 10+ games again, I think this has worked well.

Huggins is far from a unique case; many others before him were low in PA and right at or just beyond the 10 games played in their last season. They were not given earlier eligibility.

I don't have a problem with making him eligible now. It just complicates determining eligibility for players to come. If he is eligible now, I'm trying to quantify for myself exactly how this will effect future similar cases.
   63. Chris Cobb Posted: February 24, 2004 at 08:59 PM (#522124)
Whoops!

Post 80 above was me, responding _to_ Rob C, not Rob C. Sorry about that! The dangers of posting hastily while at work . . .
   64. Chris Cobb Posted: February 24, 2004 at 09:19 PM (#522125)
You are correct Dan. The gray area was for players who skipped a year, not for the last year of a player. Huggins in '22!

Chris: we are even now.
   65. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 24, 2004 at 09:27 PM (#522126)
I don't have a problem with making him eligible now.

I don't either, since he's not going to be on my ballot regardless and I don't have to rearrange my ballot again. :-)

Re-revised Prelim (will be my official ballot):

1) Dickey Pearce
   66. DanG Posted: February 24, 2004 at 10:34 PM (#522127)
Regarding Bresnahan, some are inclined to dock him for the time he spent away from catcher. IMO, this is unfair to him if he was moved for any reason other than he was unable to play the position.

In the deadball era, no catcher caught 1200 career games. Through 1921, only three 19th century catchers had reached this mark: McGuire (1611), Robinson (1316) and Zimmer (1239). Most career games caught by players who played most of their career in Bresnahan?s time (1901-1915):

1?1195 Red Dooin
   67. KJOK Posted: February 24, 2004 at 10:46 PM (#522128)
I'm also having a hard time following this rush to make Home Run Johnson a top 5 ballot player.

1. We already have many, many worth candidates who we have "hard" evidence for.

2. James may have overlooked him, but McNeil in "Baseball's Other Stars" has him about 8th, BEHIND John Beckwith. The Courrier Poll didn't have him, and he wasn't listed in the SABR TOP 40 Negro Leaguers.

3. The explosion of Negro League players seems to have happened in the mid-teens, basically AFTER Johnson's career had ended.

He's certainly very worthy to be considered, but there are also still some questions about where he ranks.
   68. MattB Posted: February 24, 2004 at 10:46 PM (#522129)
Early Prelim. Relevant changes in bold.

1. Charlie Bennett (1) Made my personal HoM in 1912.

2. Frank Grant (2) Made my personal HoM in 1914.

3. Bob Caruthers (3) Been sitting in my personal HoM since 1901.
   69. Marc Posted: February 24, 2004 at 11:52 PM (#522130)
K wrote:

>1. We already have many, many worth candidates who we have "hard" evidence for.
   70. jimd Posted: February 25, 2004 at 01:30 AM (#522131)
How important is Catcher's fielding? Both Win Shares and WARP rate Catcher as slightly more important than ShortStop. Using Win Shares, assume an average team with average offense, average pitching, and average fielders, and equal contributions from each of the 8 everyday spots. Then a Catcher's Win Shares would be about 60% Hitting and 40% Fielding. (A 1Bman is about 88-12.) So when rating a catcher, a large difference in fielding ability is more important than a small difference in hitting ability.

--------------------------------
   71. ronw Posted: February 25, 2004 at 01:48 AM (#522132)
Looking quickly at baseball-reference. . .

In 1903 and 1904, the Giants had John Warner and Frank Bowerman sharing the catching duties. Warner had been a 1/2 time catcher in the bigs since 1895, Bowerman since 1897.

Bresnahan played a little catcher in 1903, but in 1904, he played no catcher. He may have been injured in '04, as he only played in 109 games.

The Giants made three key changes before 1905. 1. They got Mike Donlin to play center in late 1904. 2. They sold Warner to St. Louis in January of 1905 after he hit only .199. 3. They picked up Boileryard Clarke from Washington, who had also been a 1/2 time catcher since 1895.

With Donlin in center, George Browne in right and Sam Mertes in left, the Giants had an excellent OF. The 1905 Giants were also set with an infield of 1B - Dan McGann 2B - Billy Gilbert, 3B - Art Devlin and SS - Bill Dahlen.

I wonder if in 1905 McGraw intended to go through the year with Bowerman and Clarke, and to either use Bresnahan in a utility role, bench either Mertes or Browne, or trade someone. It turns out that Clarke's career was done in 1905, and he was used sparingly. Bresnahan had played catcher (among other positions) for McGraw for sometime in 1901 and 1902 with Baltimore and then the Giants. I would venture a guess that McGraw saw that Clarke was done in the spring of 1905, and he needed another catcher to spell Bowerman. Bresnahan became that guy because there was no one else available. When it turned out that Bresnahan could field fairly well, Bowerman ended up being the second catcher, and Bresnahan never went back to the outfield much.

(Bresnahan also couldn't play obscure benchwarmer who got to play for one inning in the field - that spot was taken by Moonlight Graham.)
   72. ronw Posted: February 25, 2004 at 01:53 AM (#522133)
OK, thanks to jimd's post, I don't think benching Mertes was in McGraw's mind.
   73. Marc Posted: February 25, 2004 at 02:03 AM (#522134)
> Roy Thomas 51, Cy Seymour 50 = Roger Bresnahan 50

Thx, jimd. I said earlier (#9) that if he had stayed in CF he would not be regarded as the equal of Thomas or Seymour. Maybe he would have. But where are Thomas and Seymour on our ballots? Where they belong.

Somebody said Bresnahan was an all-star CF. Given his weak CF defense that's debatable, but even if true, given the length of his career, what does that really say?
   74. jimd Posted: February 25, 2004 at 02:37 AM (#522136)
I think there's a lot of similarities between Bresnahan and McGraw as candidates. Their careers have pretty similar values, though McGraw had a better peak and rate. If you give catchers a 10% boost, then Roger moves ahead on career and about equal on peak and rate. Both had major problems staying healthy enough to keep in the lineup (even when Roger wasn't catching). It seems to me that if you're voting for one, you should be voting for the other, because their respective cases are based on rate statistics, not season-long value.
   75. Chris Cobb Posted: February 25, 2004 at 03:36 AM (#522137)
James may have overlooked him, but McNeil in "Baseball's Other Stars" has him about 8th, BEHIND John Beckwith.

KJOK, who are the 7 (shortstops, I assume) whom McNeil ranks ahead of Johnson? I haven't been able to get ahold of "Baseball's Other Stars" yet. Not sure why you place such emphasis on John Beckwith -- McNeil defnitely thinks he was a tremendous player, one of the best hitters in Negro League history.
   76. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:31 AM (#522138)
Not sure why you place such emphasis on John Beckwith -- McNeil defnitely thinks he was a tremendous player, one of the best hitters in Negro League history.

Beckwith is a top-tier player who will easily be high on my ballot.

As for Johnson: Frank Baker-power, great eye at the plate, patient hitter, fine defense, long career, and shortstop. Sounds like a great player to me.
   77. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:38 AM (#522139)
It seems to me that if you're voting for one, you should be voting for the other, because their respective cases are based on rate statistics, not season-long value.

Except, as Dan G pointed out, Bresnahan (#7 on my ballot) had a long career behind the plate for his era, while McGraw (#18 on my list) didn't at the hot corner.
   78. ronw Posted: February 25, 2004 at 04:29 PM (#522140)
1921 PRELIM

1. Charlie Bennett

2. Jimmy Collins

3. Grant Johnson

4. Frank Grant

5. Joe McGinnity

6. Roger Bresnahan

7. George Van Haltren

8. Jimmy Sheckard

9. Jimmy Ryan

10. Bobby Wallace

11. Joe Tinker

12. Hugh Duffy

13. Fielder Jones

14. Mike Griffin

15. Vic Willis

The OF glut has really become a CF glut. I would be fine with any of these players in the HOM, as well as probably the next 10 (by position Waddell, Mullane, Welch, Beckley, Childs, S. White, Cross, Williamson, Long, Pike, C. Jones) Sorry, Pearce, I think you needed more documented time, but the pioneer wing awaits you. Sorry Hughie, if you had just one more good year you would be on this list.
   79. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:01 PM (#522141)
I really don?t want to say this, but I hope it will lead to some good discussion. Before we elect a mistake, I have to try and explain where I?m at in my Negro leagues analysis.

On January 11, 2002 I wrote, ??including Negro leaguers would help us gain acceptance, being fair and PC and all. I'm just not sure they can be accurately compared in the same balloting with the white leaguers. With the regular Majors, we have the data to make our own studies of players; for the Negroes we would all be in thrall to the opinions of the few experts who have attempted a comprehensive study of the issue.? It was thereafter agreed that we would include Negro leaguers, although my opinion hasn't much changed.

This is the Hall of Merit; it isn?t the Hall of Fair. Therefore, I largely oppose the Affirmative Action program in fashion here that threatens to promote Negro league stars of unknown value into our Hall. I?m looking for evidence and trying to avoid playing ?Let?s Pretend?.

I have been criticized for employing a quota system in my treatment of Black candidates. But actually, every one of us is, because it?s the only way we can elect what seems like a fair number.

It has to do with our standard of value. For MLB players, we have reliable numbers that we slice and dice to our own satisfaction. We use these numbers as our primary criteria for merit. The anecdotal stuff goes into the BS dump, usually playing a small part in our assessment.

For NLers it?s exactly opposite. We have to place emphasis on the stories and opinions because the numbers are not there. The standard of value is changed. We have agreed to do this in order to elect some of them; a share of the HoM has been allotted for Negro league stars?we have agreed to employ an unspecified QUOTA.

We don?t have the numbers to prove how good the black stars were, like we do MLB stars. Oscar Charleston has zero win shares. But we can say with fair certainty that he and a few other Negro leaguers were among the greatest of their time. Realize, though, that we elect him as much for his ability as his value.

The problems come in when you get past the inner circle guys and try to separate the Bill Monroes from the Homerun Johnsons. So you feel around in the dark and get some sense of which way is up, who _seems_ to be better. Then you pretend that you can rank his value with Bobby Wallace and Jimmy Collins? It?s a flight of fantasy, from the sublime to the absurd. You have to assume the upside to rank Johnson that high. Couldn?t we as easily assume his quality to be closer to Joe Quinn?s? Given the present uncertainties re Johnson isn?t it better to assume he falls somewhere between those extremes?

(People often write regarding Frank Grant ?that there is no evidence that suggests he wasn't a great player.? This is not where the burden of proof should lie in player assessment. We should not start by assuming greatness; either we have evidence of greatness or we don?t. Indications are not evidence.)

I believe in erring on the side of caution. As Chris Cobb wrote in the 1920 Ballot thread, #87: ?We have to elect _somebody_ every year, so we had better make damned sure we are electing the best players each time.? Nobody has MLE?s for Negro League stats. Much as you might want to ?right the wrongs? and imagine ?what if? Johnson had gotten that opportunity, it?s an air castle. It?s concluding a player has merit based on speculations made from incomplete data having questionable reliability. IMO, that?s irrational and not what we should be doing in this project.

We should not be trying to project blacks? performances into a MLB setting; fantasizing what his stats or his standing might be in that realm can lead only to unsupportable conclusions. All we can reliably tell is who were the best blacks in the realm of the Negro leagues in any given era, and leave it to the individual to choose what players to support based upon that.

Personally (and I know this approach is not for everyone), when I eventually decide to support a Negro leaguer, it will be someone who I think is a deserving HoMer. They will be put high on my ballot, in a ?should be elected? position. I will seldom vote for NLers that I don?t think are HoMers; I don?t want to say ?he seems to be about as good as Beckley? or whomever, because we have no way of knowing this. I would prefer to use the rest of the ballot for players whose worth I don?t have to guess.

That said, I will probably end up supporting about as many black ballplayers for the HoM as the average voter. Homerun Johnson may deserve to go in the HoM or he may not; right now I don?t think anyone can be sure he belongs. But we have more than 90 elections left to figure it out.

Does all this make sense to anyone else? Or are the voices in my head leading me astray?
   80. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:11 PM (#522142)
Got McNeil's "Baseball's Other All-Stars" in front of me right now. He's got a Negro League All-Star team from 1900-25, one from 1925-50, & then tries to combine them into one team. On the 190025 one, Lloyd's the starting shortstop & Dobie Moore's the backup. John Beckwith's the first utility player & Grant Johnson's behind him. On pages 89-90 he has a big listing of the different players at the different positions. The shortstops are: John Henry Lloyd, Dobie Moore, Dick Lundy, Willie Wells, John Beckwith, Home Run Johnson, Artie Wilson, & Bus Clarkson. Martin Dihigo's the top utilty guy with Double Duty Radcliffe behind him. Neither of these guys was really a SS though, so Johnson's ranked 7th.

Lloyd's a typical choice for best ever negro league SS. Dobie Moore was a brillant shortstop who had a very short career. Beckwith a slugging shortstop (McNeil says that only Gibson & Settles had a higher HR Avg among Negro Leaguers). In his comment on Johnson, McNeil states: "Considering the first two decades of the twentieth century showcased the likes of John Henry Lloyd, Dobie Moore, John Beckwith, and Home Run Johnson, as well as Honus Wagner, it would seem that this period was the golden age of great shortstops." This statement makes his ranking of Johnson a little bit harder to understand though. Later on in the book, he says that the four best shortstops were Lloyd, Moore, Wells, & Lundy. The first time he mentions Bankhead is when he lists him ahead of Johnson on page 89.
   81. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:16 PM (#522143)
1921 prelim. Tough ballot!

1. Hughie Jennings
   82. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:22 PM (#522144)
But actually, every one of us is, because it?s the only way we can elect what seems like a fair number.

No, I'm not doing this. No quota. If I were, Bill Monroe and Sol White would be on my ballot, which I thought about doing anyway. But I didn't, because that wouldn't be playing by the rules.

I'm trying to pick who the best players are, in the full knowledge that it *is* hard to compare them. For the white players, I have extremely full knowledge, and can carry out analysis to the nth degree, meaning that I can wait on Tinker if I'm not convinced that he's eight wins above replacement-level defense in his good years - I can do the analysis. For Home Run Johnson, I don't have that advantage, I have to rely on comparisons, best guesses, and so forth.

I'm not criticizing your approach - if you require certainty, then by all means, wait. I don't require certainty, because I'm making an honest effort to place each candidate where he should be, even if in some cases it comes down to a gut decision of who I think is a better player.
   83. Daryn Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:26 PM (#522145)
DanG,

I don't disagree with a lot of your points. I have accepted a fundamental double standard. I will not play what if with any of the major leaguers (Ted Williams, Elmer Flick, Joe Jackson etc). However, I feel I have to play what if with the blackballers. There is no other way to do it. I enjoy it. I like looking at statements, trying to put them into context and trying to determine if they are the kind of things that would've been said about Joe Morgan (in) or Tony Fernandez (out). My review of the pitchblackbaseball site had been one of the most enjoyable aspects of this project. The real issue is that our HOM would be worthless prior to 1955 or so if we didn't include blackballers, so we have to do the best with what we have.
   84. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:40 PM (#522146)
Craig, I disagree. To me, you're not erring on the side of caution, your approach is wreckless. You admit to "best guesses" and "gut decision". Then you go ahead and vote Johnson #3, in a should-be-elected position.

You're spitting in the face of uncertainty--you say you "don't require certainty". The players you can analyze "to the nth degree" are ranked below the guy who "honest"ly seems to be deserving.

I'm not ready for that leap of faith.
   85. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:44 PM (#522147)
daryn:

Agreed. I also appreciate having to learn more about the Negro leagues than I used to know. I'm mainly preaching caution.
   86. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 25, 2004 at 05:50 PM (#522148)
Re: DanG

Oh Lord. . . . Where to begin?

The cure is worse than the disease. Either we allow Negro Leaguers in & run the risk of letting non-deserving players in, or we shut them out & guarantee that we keep out deserving players.

And here's an interesting angle: the HoM is a numbers game: there is a specified number of slots alloted in each election & for the entire project in general. (Hell, if you wanted to you could easily the entire thing is one giant quota - because it is. There's a quota on the number elected each year regardless of how weak or strong - or meritous - the candidates are that particular year). If we institute a policy which guarantees that deserving players are forced out, then by the numbers game, we have to let in another player in his place who isn't deserving. You're afraid that letting Negro Leaguers in will cause undeserving players to get in? Well flip it around - not paying attention to them will cause undeserving players to get in.

I have a serious problem with DanG's apparent belief that all info can be divided into two categories 1) numbers, 2) BS. That's rubbish. Yeah, there's a lot of BS anecdotal evidence out there, but it's a stretch to say it's all BS. When looking at it you have to weigh its merits & see if you can find any problems or faults with this. Frankly, it looks to me like that's being done around here. Look at Bill Monroe, for example. One of the problems people have had with his candidacy is that a lot of the reports and info people have on him tend to emphasize flashy crowd-pleasing plays like catching the ball behind his back, etc. OTOH, you have a player like Grant Johnson who was among the best players he played against for an extended period of time, was well-regarded enough by his peers to write the section on hitting strategy on the main book on Negro League baseball at the time, employed a hitting strategy that people in these parts to tend to believe in (wait for a good pitch & clobber it), & for the numbers we do have for him, the aging Johnson was only slighly worse than the in-his-prime J H Lloyd. How's this BS?

For that matter, do we really assign non-stat evidence in the "BS dump?" I haven't. Collins's reputation is one reason he's been as high as he's been on my ballot & I don't think I'm alone in that regard. Ditto Keeler. Many have mentioned how Clark Griffith seemed to know how to win games. There's far less emphasis on non-statistical evidence because there's far less need to use it. Stats do give a clearer picture, but that doesn't mean all other info is "BS."

There's a definite double standard at work here. You don't want to put a guy in because it's not at all clear that he's as good as Beckley? Well flip it around - do you really know Beckley's as good as Johnson?

The argument I see you making is that unless we have really solid evidence we shouldn't consider a player & again, the cure's worse than the disease. We should look at the best evidence we have available, judge it as carefully as we can (this is true of both stats & non-stat evidence), discuss it with each other here, make conclusions about a player based on our evaluations, & vote accordingly. I see no reason why we can't do that with Negro Leaguers.

Personally, I never really ask myself (of any player) is he HoM worthy when I put him on my ballot. I ask myself is he one of the 15 best players eligible & let the math work itself out with regard to who gets in.
   87. Marc Posted: February 25, 2004 at 06:30 PM (#522149)
I agree with most of what Chris J. says and with some of what DanG says. It's all true. There's a double standard. But it's not all black and white, numbers and BS. This whole project is grey, gray and more gre/ay.

Rating the NLers is no different, really, than Pearce and H. Wright and Start and Pike, anybody whose standing depends to any degree on play before 1871. And for that matter, I'd include pitchers through 1893 in the same category. Were they important or not important? We've had that argument all the way through Rusie.

I said many times to those who wouldn't even consider a Dickey Pearce, well, then, how are you going to consider the NLers? Well, that's not a double standard, it's a triple standard.

But anyway, I don't prefer to err on either side (caution or whatever the opposite is, reckless [not wreckless, I think wreckless would be good]). I prefer to err on the side of whatever seems most likely. If you err on the side of caution with every NLer who is not Lloyd, Gibson, Paige or Charleston, then you err (w)recklessly against a whole class of players.

Chris is right. I have no frigging clue what to do with Jimmy Collins but I have him on my ballot because of his reputation. I can't give Jimmy that benefit of the doubt and not have HR Johnson on my ballot. That would be a double standard.

Err on the side of the most likely.
   88. Chris Cobb Posted: February 25, 2004 at 06:31 PM (#522150)
Re Dan G's post:

First, I have to say that Dan's position seems fundamentally inconsistent. Dan, you start off against affirmative action for the HoM and say you're looking for evidence, but then you say you use a quota system, which necessarily requires ranking negro-leaguers on an affirmative action basis, and you dismiss the evidence that's been presented for evaluation as playing "let's pretend"? I'm happy to consider a skeptical view of evidence that I or others have gathered, but I'm not willing to accept the view that by looking at the evidence and trying to reach an independent, non-quota-based assessment of players' value that I and others are somehow engaging in a fantasy of affirmative action! That's a criticism that simply doesn't make sense.

We don?t have the numbers to prove how good the black stars were, like we do MLB stars. Oscar Charleston has zero win shares. But we can say with fair certainty that he and a few other Negro leaguers were among the greatest of their time. Realize, though, that we elect him as much for his ability as his value.

No, we don't have win shares or complete statistical documentation, but we have enough information to make _educated_ guesses. And we can still elect players for their value: Charleston was a tremendously valuable to his teams; he had a valuable career, it just didn't happen to take place in the major leagues.

Nobody has MLE?s for Negro League stats.

William McNeil apparently has worked out some translations; he refers to them in _Cool Papas_, and they appear to be explained and employed in _Kings of Swat_ and _Baseball's Other All-Stars_, books that I would very much like to see. Maybe they aren't persuasive, but let's get them on the table so we can debate them as we have the WARP league difficulty assessments! There are also stats against major-league competition from exhibition games, there are also stats from performances in other leagues whose level of competition can be translated into MLE's -- the Cuban leagues and the California Winter League. Before we throw up our hands about the lack of data, we should dig in to what we have.

Here's a critical exercise: consider what players' value we would see if the statistics that we had for major-league players were these: length of career, teams played for and pennants won, position, fielding reputation, batting average, reputation as a power or contact hitter, and overall reputation as a player. Whom would we overrate? Whose value would we miss? If it turns out that our ranking of players on the basis of this information alone would be wildly inaccurate, then Dan's skepticism may be merited. But I don't think that would be the case; I'll be posting some data on a batting average study shortly.

So you feel around in the dark and get some sense of which way is up, who _seems_ to be better. Then you pretend that you can rank his value with Bobby Wallace and Jimmy Collins? It?s a flight of fantasy, from the sublime to the absurd. You have to assume the upside to rank Johnson that high. Couldn?t we as easily assume his quality to be closer to Joe Quinn?s? Given the present uncertainties re Johnson isn?t it better to assume he falls somewhere between those extremes?

Dan, rather than dismissing the possibility of such a ranking as "absurd," I'd ask you to go through the data I posted on Home Run Johnson and explain systematically how we could project a player of Joe Quinn's calibre into his career. What assumptions would you have to accept for such a projection to be accepted as accurate? How plausible are those assumptions compared to the ones I've used to rank Johnson above Wallace and Collins? Put this question: if Home Run Johnson is equivalent to Jack Quinn, to whom must Pop Lloyd be equivalent?

If we _debate the merits_ of these players based on the evidence, I think we'll move towards a more reliable assessment of their value. I find Dan's position frustrating because it pre-supposes that a study of statistics and a debate about the value of the players is worthless. What did "the experts" do to come up with their opinions but this very thing? Why shouldn't we be doing the same thing now?
   89. Marc Posted: February 25, 2004 at 06:33 PM (#522151)
>Err on the side of the most likely.

And I should have concluded: Because, in this endeavor (meaning HoM generally, not just rating NLers), you cannot fail to err.
   90. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 25, 2004 at 06:36 PM (#522152)
Personally, I never really ask myself (of any player) is he HoM worthy when I put him on my ballot. I ask myself is he one of the 15 best players eligible & let the math work itself out with regard to who gets in.

That, IMO, should be the only criteria for ballot selection.

Therefore, I largely oppose the Affirmative Action program in fashion here that threatens to promote Negro league stars of unknown value into our Hall.

I, for one, do not apply an affirmative action program in regard to Negro leaguers. In fact, I have been very vocal that we should only select the top fifteen players - period. To my mind, it wouldn't be a true honor for the inductee if he were elected otherwise.

Sol White, Bud Fowler and George Stovey, while very good players, don't meet my test. Frank Grant and Bill Monroe do make it, but not at the top ranks, IMO.

Home Run Johnson, however, has too many things going for him not to be elected (and soon!) If you can be compared to Honus Wagner and not look silly is testament to his greatness as far as I'm concerned.
   91. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 06:37 PM (#522153)
ChrisJ, that was certainly some selective reading on your part. This "cure" is something you've created from your own mortar and pestle.

To clarify one thing, when I say BS here, it's more in the sense of "engaging in idle conversation". I obviously would never say that all non-stats are false, misleading or useless. Speaking simply, we have the stats and we have all the rest of the stuff that people have said or written.

I don't believe I implied "that unless we have really solid evidence we shouldn't consider a player." I agree with your approach of weighing all the evidence.

I'm trying to chart a course from point A to point Z; how to combine these various facts, leading to something that looks like a HoMer. To analyze Negro leaguers we have to employ a fuzzy logic, trying to build beautiful structures out of the lumps of facts available. This takes time for all but those inner circle guys.

IMO, we do not have a satisfying result if we merely heap the facts into a mound and proudly point and say "there lies a HoMer."
   92. Daryn Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:07 PM (#522154)
I just noticed that Germany Schaefer is eligible this year. He was a colourful fellow. It may just be legend, but I understand that he liked to steal first base -- from second.
   93. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:08 PM (#522155)
I agree with your approach of weighing all the evidence.

That's funny. When I said that's what I do you accused me of recklessness and spitting in faces. Maybe you just meant to be insulting though? I'm not sure.

My ballot stands, and once I've posted my reasoning I think you'll see that I've been engaging with the facts.
   94. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:26 PM (#522157)
Craig:

To be lcear, I was responding to ChrisJ in the quote you presented. Your description of your approach indicated something other than considering evidence. If I misread it and/or you were insulted, I apologize.
   95. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:33 PM (#522160)
Frank Grant wrote:
   96. jimd Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:46 PM (#522161)
Except, as Dan G pointed out, Bresnahan (#7 on my ballot) had a long career behind the plate for his era, while McGraw (#18 on my list) didn't at the hot corner.

Yes, McGraw had a shorter career for his position. That's a very good point, John.

But Bresnahan does not have a long career behind the plate for his era. What DanG posted was a list of Roger's contemporaries that had longer careers. Bresnahan ranked 9th; he's just below "median" (assuming one per team).

I think my main point still stands. Bresnahan's argument, like McGraw's, is based on his "rates". He didn't last long enough to build a career argument; he didn't play enough games in most seasons to build a good "traditional" peak value argument. When he did, he was a helluva good player; he had an MVP case for 1908 (as did Mathewson and Donlin, Tinker and Brown; Wagner blew them all away). That's just not enough to make my ballot.
   97. DanG Posted: February 25, 2004 at 07:59 PM (#522162)
Chris Cobb (#108), a well thought-out contribution, as usual. More than I care to address, actually.

I admit my post was a bit of a rant, but there seemed to be an unchecked love-fest going on for Homerun Johnson. I surely don't think his case is so iron-clad that he should be rushed off the ballot. A conservative approach towards newbies always seems prudent.

I think this phrase points to the main issue: "I'm happy to consider a skeptical view of evidence...."

In your post #45 above, there seems to be no consideration towards any skepticism. You're better at this than I am, but just off the top of my head, re that post:

1) For those BA's for Lloyd and Johnson from 1910-13, how many at bats are we talking about? Any idea what the team or league level was? Any indication of OBP or SLG?

2) Who pitched for Detroit in those exhibitions where Lloyd and Johnson pounded the ball?

3) Johnson wrote the chapter on hitting. How do we know he practiced what he preached?

4) What is the source for numbers presented in Riley's _Encyclopedia of Negro Leagues_?

You can find other questions, I'm sure.

You also wrote, "I find Dan's position frustrating because it pre-supposes that a study of statistics and a debate about the value of the players is worthless." By all means, let's study and debate. Compare blacks with their peers and determine as best we can who is best. The trick is slotting them in against the white players on the ballot. This is where speculation and imagination are utilized. We seem to differ in how much confidence we have in the final result.
   98. KJOK Posted: February 25, 2004 at 08:38 PM (#522163)
To change the subject slightly, I see a lot of posts talking about SHORTSTOP Home Run Johnson. I'm not sure what sources everyone has, but my notes indicate he played 2nd base about as often as he played SS (quite a few top flight Negro League players seem to have played multiple positions in their careers).
   99. KJOK Posted: February 25, 2004 at 08:43 PM (#522164)
Chris Cobb wrote:

<i>KJOK, who are the 7 (shortstops, I assume) whom McNeil ranks ahead of Johnson? I haven't been able to get ahold of "Baseball's Other Stars" yet. Not sure why you place such emphasis on John Beckwith -- McNeil defnitely thinks he was a tremendous player, one of the best hitters in Negro League history. <i>
   100. KJOK Posted: February 25, 2004 at 08:45 PM (#522165)
Oops, lost the italics...repost:

Chris Cobb wrote:

KJOK, who are the 7 (shortstops, I assume) whom McNeil ranks ahead of Johnson? I haven't been able to get ahold of "Baseball's Other Stars" yet. Not sure why you place such emphasis on John Beckwith -- McNeil defnitely thinks he was a tremendous player, one of the best hitters in Negro League history.
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