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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, July 11, 2005

1956 Ballot Discussion

1956 (July 25)—elect 2
WS W3 Rookie Name-Pos (Died)

378 115.9 1931 Luke Appling-SS (1991)
242 76.6 1938 Joe Gordon-2B (1978)
199 69.3 1938 Ken Keltner-3B (1991)
208 65.9 1937 Tommy Henrich-RF (living)
138 54.1 1939 Eddie Miller-SS (1997)
134 51.4 1937 Johnny VanderMeer (1997)
129 37.8 1934 Al Benton-RP (1968)
119 39.2 1939 Kirby Higbe-P (1985)
082 26.0 1942 Harry Walker-CF (1999)
062 21.8 1944 Joe Page-RP (1980)

1956 (July 17)—elect 2
HF% Career Name-pos (born) BJ – MVP - All-Star

00% 40-50 Verdell Mathis-P (1914) 0 - 2*

Players Passing Away in 1955

HoMers
Age Elected

88 1917 Cy Young-P
81 1923 Honus Wagner-SS

Candidates
Age Eligible

88 1906 Gus Weyhing-P
87 1917 Sol White-2b/3b
85 1912 Clark Griffith-P
79 1920 Danny Murphy-2b/RF
78 1915 Bill Dinneen-P
69 1930 Shano Collins-RF
59 1936 Curt Walker-RF
52 1948 Clint Brown-RP
50 1944 John Stone-LF/RF
48 1952 George Caster-RP
40 1952 Frankie Hayes-C

As always, many thanks to Dan and Chris for allowing me to appropriate their lists!

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 11, 2005 at 12:19 AM | 165 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Jeff M Posted: July 19, 2005 at 02:22 AM (#1482075)
Of course, this is just an opinion.

Agreed. But widely held. :)

I use both too, with upward defensive adjustments in WS and downward defensive adjustments in WARP1.

And basically, 1884 is screwed up all the way around.
   102. sunnyday2 Posted: July 19, 2005 at 12:57 PM (#1482718)
My ballot was not quite complete as I had not decided who would be PHoM this year (along with Suttles)--Appling, Lyons, Stovey or Wells.

The Shortstops

adj WS > 20

Appling 36*-29-29-28-28-25-24-24-22-20 adj total 405
Wells 29-28-28-27-27-25-22-22-22-21-20-20 adj total 386

OPS+ > 110

Appling 137-28*-26-25-22-22-18-13-12-12-11 total 113
Wells 134-33-30-28-28-27-26-22-16 total 114

Appling is over 110 in 11 of 15 batting title eligible seasons
Wells only 9 of 19, which calls seriously into question his MLE-estimated career length, IMO

Defensive WS--Appling 118 Wells 112

I would have to go with Appling based on my skepticism about Wells' estimated career length

The Teammmates

Lyons has an odd career arc as everybody knows. From 1923 (22.2 IP) through 1933-34 (ERA+ 97-97) with an injury year and 7 good seasons. A pretty typical HoG (Hall of Good, not quite HoVG) career.

Then of course came 8 years of kid-glove handling, never again throwing 200 IP.

1st half ERA+ 143-32-28-28-22-05-02-85
Then 97-97
2nd half 172-71-53-37-32-11-11-01

And he coulda had another couple-three of these easy/VG years but for WWII though he was 42-43-44 years old by then. But he went 147 in 1946 at age 45 (just 42.2 IP).

The 2nd half is not quite "shoulder seasons" and not quite a full-fledged prime, so he's a hard case.

adjWS gives Appling a fairly substantial ege, 405-333.5, and 141-110 for 5 year peak.

I'd go wioth Appling by a slight margin.

Then there's Harry Stovey, whom I admit to having missed the first time around. I may have overadjusted for AA or maybe I'm underadjusting now.

adj WS > 20 (all of Stovey's adj to 154, then some also adj for AA)

Appling 36*-29-29-28-28-25-24-24-22-20 adj total 405
Stovey 35*-29-29-29*-29*-28*-24*-24-24-22.5* adj total 317.5

OPS+ > 110

Appling 137-28*-26-25-22-22-18-13-12-12-11 total 113
Stovey 164*-49*-46*-44*-41*-39-39*-37-36-26-11 total 133.5

Given Appling's WS edge and of course OPS+ does not recognize Appling's huge defensive edge, Stovey will have to wait for another backlog year. Appling goes PHoM.

1. Appling
2. Stovey
3. Lyons
4. Wells
   103. DavidFoss Posted: July 19, 2005 at 02:08 PM (#1482803)
After nearly disappearing (arm injury?)

Van Der Meer was demoted in 1940 due to control problems. His BB rates are indeed awfully high.

I wasn't advocating that anyone even consider voting for him. Just that the discussion thread is usually the place for a brief tidbit about a newly-eligible-but-unlikely-to-get-a-vote kind of guy and no one had mentioned the no-hitters yet.
   104. sunnyday2 Posted: July 19, 2005 at 02:38 PM (#1482867)
In that spirit, I always thought that Joe Page's 1949 was one of the big flukes of all time. Of course, relief pitchers are prone because of small samples to flukey years. And not only that, but Page had an almost equally big fluke year in 1947. Oxymoron alert.

1947 56 G, 54 in relief, 14-8, 2.48 (ERA+ 142)

1949 60 G all in relief, 13-8, 2.59 (ERA+ 156)

His K:BB were terrible, 519:421 for career and even a combined 215:147 in his two great years. His OAV those years was around .210 while his OBA was nevertheless .308 and .328. He must have pitched out of a bunch of jams those years and not others.

In between (in 1948) he was 55 G, 54 in relief, 7-8, 4.26 (96).

In 1947 he threw in 4 of 7 WS games for 13 IP going 1-1, 4.15. He won the 7th game going 4+ IP in relief of Shea and Bevens (though it appears the Yankees were already ahead 3-2 in a 5-2 win. Anybody know why Bevens is not listed as the winner?)

In 1948 the Yankees finished 2.5 GB in 3rd place and I suppose conceivably another '47-'49 type year from Page could have made a difference, though you could also say that about everybody on the Yankees' roster.

In 1949 he threw 9 IP in 3 5 games. He saved game 2 (1-0), won game 3 going 5+ IP, and closed out game 7 going 2+.

He went 3-7, 5.07 in 1950 and was mostly done. Did not pitch in the 1950 WS.

Still he certainly helped define the role of the relief specialist.
   105. Chris Cobb Posted: July 19, 2005 at 03:47 PM (#1483012)
Wells only 9 of 19 [seasons over 110 OPS+], which calls seriously into question his MLE-estimated career length, IMO

Wells is in the HoM, so arguments about his value are more-or-less irrelevant now, but the idea that Wells' number of seasons above a 110 OPS+ provides evidence that his estimated career length is too long is misguided.

1) It does not account for the where those seasons below a 110 OPS+ appear in Wells' career.

Wells' profile differs from Appling's mainly in that he was somewhat under a 110 OPS+ for six straight years in the middle of his career, which coincided with the era of contraction in the NeL. He was never far from this line (his OPS+ ranged from 98 to 108 during this time), so if the competition level is being underestimated in the MLEs by even 2 or 3 percent, that would be enough to cost him a couple of legitimately earned 110 OPS+ seasons.

Even if the MLEs are correct for 1932-1937 (and I'm certain that they are too low), this is a slight dip in the _middle_ of Wells' career. The main difference between him and Appling in terms of career shape is this dip. Obviously a dip in the middle of a career doesn't imply a change its length, unless the player was so bad he would be benched or sent to the minors or released. If the MLEs are correct, Wells was a good player during these years: a good defensive shortstop hitting around league average. There's no reason to infer that he would have lost seasons here.

2) At this point in baseball history, a shortstop hardly had to maintain a 110 OPS+ to keep a starting job. Rabbit Maranville (an extreme case) reached an OPS+ of 110 in 2 seasons out of 17 as a full-time starter. The number of seasons a shortstop reaches a 110 OPS+ is just not all that relevant to a shortstop's career length.
   106. jimd Posted: July 19, 2005 at 08:01 PM (#1483611)
At this point in baseball history, a shortstop hardly had to maintain a 110 OPS+ to keep a starting job.

At this point in baseball history, a SS with a 110 OPS+ is equivalent to a OF/1B with a 135-140 OPS+, so he's well above average.
   107. KJOK Posted: July 19, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1483705)
In 1947 he threw in 4 of 7 WS games for 13 IP going 1-1, 4.15. He won the 7th game going 4+ IP in relief of Shea and Bevens (though it appears the Yankees were already ahead 3-2 in a 5-2 win. Anybody know why Bevens is not listed as the winner?)

The current rules for assigning the winning pitcher were not adopted until 1950. Those rules were also used to "retroactively" assign winning pitchers for 1871-1900. For 1901-1950, however, the official scorer could assign the win to whichever pitcher he felt was most deserving, regardless of when a team took the lead in the game.

BTW, this led to some controversies, the most notable being Dizzy Dean getting a late season win in relief in 1934 even though he came in with the Cardinals already ahead. Without that win, he of course would not have won 30 games that year...
   108. jimd Posted: July 19, 2005 at 11:17 PM (#1484354)
Those rules were also used to "retroactively" assign winning pitchers for 1871-1900. For 1901-1950, however, the official scorer could assign the win to whichever pitcher he felt was most deserving, regardless of when a team took the lead in the game.

The official scorer rule is much older than that. But the mandatory enforcement of modern rules on 19th century baseball has also caused some controversies. IIRC, one of Radbourn's 60 wins was retroactively changed to a Save, overriding the original official scorer, who never heard of a Save.
   109. TomH Posted: July 20, 2005 at 01:13 PM (#1485518)
a little intersting tidbit, and this thread seems the best place to put it for lack of anywhere else--

Pete Browning, who truly was a great, great hitter, had quite the time fielding his position of CF in 1886. From bb-ref.com, there were 6 'regular' CFers that year. Among the other 5, their range factors were between 1.80 and 2.29. Pete's was 1.49. The other five had fielding pcts between .878 and .952. Browning's was .791.

Pete's ratio of putouts-to-errors was just under 3.5, as compared to a league avg of almost 8.

I hereby nominate his 1886 year as the "least valuable season ever by a hitter with an OPS+ of over 150".
   110. sunnyday2 Posted: July 20, 2005 at 01:20 PM (#1485523)
The other guy who worries me along these lines--i.e. possibly being much less valuable than his numbers would suggest--is still John Beckwith, though Beckwith is currently #10 on my ballot (Browning is bouncing around #16-20).

Re. Beckwith Riley says that hewas "moody, brooding, hot-tempered and quick to fight. combined with a severe drinking problem, and an often, lazy, unconcerned attitude about playing, his character deficiencies often negated his performance value."

James says, "He was known to show up drunk for games, at times, and to beat the hell out of teammates. He was a fantastic hitter, but it was always a close call whether it was worthwhile to have him around."
   111. Chris Cobb Posted: July 20, 2005 at 01:59 PM (#1485561)
Re Beckwith: Riley's portrait appears to have little or no factual basis, and James simply cribs his analysis of Beckwith from Riley, spinning it a little to make it a tighter narrative.

An in-depth analysis of this view of Beckwith in relation to the historical record is available on the Beckwith thread.
   112. sunnyday2 Posted: July 20, 2005 at 03:27 PM (#1485737)
Someone should make a note that there is a looooooong discussion of Monte Irvin in the middle of the John Beckwith thread from about 150 to 160 and continuing to 170 and beyond.
   113. Howie Menckel Posted: July 20, 2005 at 03:49 PM (#1485808)
Chris Cobb,
What does "little or no factual basis" mean?
Are you saying that Riley does not provide satisfactory evidence, or that you believe that Becwkith was a model citizen?

I would be surprised if Beckwith was the latter.
   114. sunnyday2 Posted: July 20, 2005 at 04:00 PM (#1485831)
I walked through the Beckwith thread and pulled all the relevant "character" discussion into new posts, so Howie check the Beckwith thread for what I see as the capsule summary of what's been said and what we know.
   115. Chris Cobb Posted: July 20, 2005 at 06:26 PM (#1486266)
Chris Cobb,
What does "little or no factual basis" mean?
Are you saying that Riley does not provide satisfactory evidence, or that you believe that Beckwith was a model citizen?

I would be surprised if Beckwith was the latter.


I'm saying that Riley includes complete falsehoods that paint Beckwith as an underworld character. That these are falsehoods has been proven by citations from contemporary newspaper sources that show the bio's claims to be impossible.

I'm saying that because the bio is based on information provided by people who were clearly willing to lie in order to make Beckwith look bad, it would be a mistake to trust other statements made in it about Beckwith that cannot be corroborated.

John Beckwith was probably not an easy guy to get along with. He clearly feuded with management at several points in his career, and he may have feuded with teammates.

Did he do either to an unusual degree? Maybe, but the record of the NeL is full of team-jumping and player-owner, player-player feuds of all sorts. How did Gus Greenlee feel in 1937 when Satchel Paige used Dominican money to lure half his stars to play in Trujillo's league? That didn't help their value to Greenlee's team, but they were playing professional baseball. They did essentially what Beckwith did in 1924: broke a contract to get better money elsewhere.

Did he miss playing time because of character issues? The "evidence" from Riley that suggests that he did is false.

I believe there is NO RELIABLE EVIDENCE that supports giving a special discount to Beckwith's playing record because of character issues.
   116. Howie Menckel Posted: July 20, 2005 at 06:32 PM (#1486290)
Ok, Chris, thanks for the clarification...
   117. sunnyday2 Posted: July 20, 2005 at 06:56 PM (#1486357)
>I'm saying that Riley includes complete falsehoods that paint Beckwith as an underworld character. That these are falsehoods has been proven by citations from contemporary newspaper sources that show the bio's claims to be impossible.

Beckwith certainly ought to be considered innocent until proven guilty. I don't have access to any information that proves him to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

So Beckwith is in fact still #10 on my ballot in 1956.

OTOH, having just read through the entire 300+ Beckwith thread, there is nothing there that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they are false. In fact by a mere preponderance of evidence, it is a close call unless you assume Riley and James' assetions to be false a priori.

As I mentioned before, I don't have Riley, so:

>I'm saying that because the bio is based on information provided by people who were clearly willing to lie in order to make Beckwith look bad,

This is certainly the sort of statement that also needs some back-up. Chris, who are these liars? How do you *know* that this is the case?

And let's be honest, some of the asseertions made on Beckwith's behalf in his thread are contradicted by the same sources in later posts. So the whole debate still feels like mostly he-said-she-said.
   118. Chris Cobb Posted: July 20, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1486680)
Sunnyday2,

The liars are whoever narrated the stories about Beckwith that Riley has collected that have no basis in fact.

Here's the clearest example of a lie. Riley writes: "Soon afterward [after 1921] he was signed by Rube Foster and, playing on the corners and hitting .302 while batting in the fifth and sixth spots in the order, he helped the American Giants win their third straight NNL pennant. The next season he hit .323 but, after less than two full seasons with the American Giants, he got in trouble with the law and left Chicago. Traveling East, Beckwith joined owner Cum Posey's Homestead Grays in 1924."

This is the most specific claim in the bio that Beckwith was a) a criminal and b) that his activities interfered with his playing.

Gadfly has quoted from fall, 1923 Chicago newspapers that 1) provide boxscores for a _post-season_ exhibition series in which Beckwith was playing in Chicago and 2) discuss what Rube Foster will do with Beckwith in the off-season. Will he keep him, or trade him? Will Beckwith sign elsewhere to prevent a trade?

Maybe there was a newspaper coverup . Maybe gadfly (who is, in real life, a respected Negro-League historian), is making up newspaper articles to mislead us about John Beckwith (and some of the info may have been provided by Gary A. -- I haven't gone back to check on all the sources). Maybe Riley is giving us the straight, secret history of Beckwith's life. Unless one of these highly unlikely possibilities is true, the correct, unvarnished term for the story told to Riley about Beckwith having to leave Chicago before the end of the season because he was in trouble with the law is a lie.
   119. sunnyday2 Posted: July 20, 2005 at 09:32 PM (#1486758)
Chris, this whole conspiratorial deal is part of what confounds me. Gadfly is really some else in real life. Now how exactly was I supposed to know that? I missed the double-secret code.

I never assumed anybody is fabricating newspaper articles, but it's not always obvious what their point is. I guess that's because I don't have Riley --e.g. I didn't know that Riley claimed Beckwith got in trouble with the law *late in 1923* so I didn't know exactly what Gadfly's posts were debunking.

My focus was on what I do know--that the Giants and Grays both let Beckwith get away without much remorse, despite his on-the-field contributions. And clearly somebody hated his guts, for whatever reason.

I guess it was too much to think all would be made clear. Or maybe it has been. E.g. I supported Lip Pike against what I thought was a whispering campaign, not by HoMies but by some folks way back in the 19C, some of whom might possibly have had problems with Pike's national origin. I am open to the possibility that this is all this stuff about Beckwith is--a whispering campaign.

I had just hoped to understand the whole thing a little better. And I don't.
   120. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 20, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1486882)
Chris:

No offense, but it would have been nice if you had made these posts a while back. Maybe Beckwith would be in the HoM already. :-)
   121. Sean Gilman Posted: July 21, 2005 at 01:08 AM (#1487371)
a little intersting tidbit, and this thread seems the best place to put it for lack of anywhere else--

Pete Browning, who truly was a great, great hitter, had quite the time fielding his position of CF in 1886. From bb-ref.com, there were 6 'regular' CFers that year. Among the other 5, their range factors were between 1.80 and 2.29. Pete's was 1.49. The other five had fielding pcts between .878 and .952. Browning's was .791.

Pete's ratio of putouts-to-errors was just under 3.5, as compared to a league avg of almost 8.

I hereby nominate his 1886 year as the "least valuable season ever by a hitter with an OPS+ of over 150".


Certainly is odd, considering that in the surrounding seasons Browning hovers around league average in both Center and Left Field, accoding to BP's stats.

The Louisville team in 1886 was second in the league in Ks with 720. Third place had only 583. And they were third in the league in fewest home runs allowed with 16. They finished second in first base putouts (behind Dave Orr's New York team).

Joining Browning in the outfield was rightfielder Jimmy Wolf, who had more putouts than Browning, a .934 FP and 1.84 RF. Browning played only 82 games in center that year, someone named Lou Sylvester played center for 45 games. Despite having above average RFs in both 1885 and 1887, Slyvester managed only a worse-than-Browning 1.40 RF in 1886. Joe Strauss played 67 games in Leftfield, about twice as many as Browning. He put up a 1.56 RF.

In the surrounding seasons, Browning's range factors are well above average (2.09, 2.25, 1.92, 1.98; for his career 2.04 vs. a lgRF of 1.90). And 86 and 87 are by far his worst seasons in terms of errors, with 86 his only spectacularly bad fielding percentage year.

It looks to me like there's something odd going on in Louisville in 1886. Seems a lot more reasonable than a decent fielder having a historically bad season at age 25 in the midst of a string of above average years.
   122. Howie Menckel Posted: July 21, 2005 at 02:10 AM (#1487542)
Chris, take this hypothetical scenario as an example.

Suppose Riley has info, right or wrong, that Beckwith was not a regular in 1922. Then he coid be said to leave after 1923 with "less than two full seasons."
There are newspaper reports in the early offseason that he might leave. Then he gets in trouble with the law. Then he leaves town.


Not saying that's exactly what happened. But saying someone leaves "after less than two full seasons" is not exactly the same as saying he left before the second season ended.
My main point is, it almost seems like there's an emotional component to your assertions here that seem out of kilter with your great work.
Emotions aren't bad, and I wouldn't be surprised if your interpretation is what Riley was trying to say. But it almost seems like you need Beckwith to be this 'good guy who was wronged.'

I say this with trepidation and all due respect, seriously. You just seem so confident that some people are out to get him for no good reason, and I don't quite understand it.
   123. Howie Menckel Posted: July 21, 2005 at 02:11 AM (#1487545)
ugh. "coid" is "could."
   124. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 02:15 AM (#1487554)
Chris, this whole conspiratorial deal is part of what confounds me. Gadfly is really some else in real life. Now how exactly was I supposed to know that? I missed the double-secret code.

I apologize for assuming that this was well-known by the electorate in general. It wasn't presented in code; it's just been mentioned in passing a couple of times. I've been going over all the information posted about the Negro-Leaguers pretty intensively, so I noticed it. There is something weird and highly unusual about the misinformation in Beckwith's bio, so I can understand why it's hard to credit that it could be seriously misleading. Although there are the usual urban legends and errors about what happened in which season and statistical errors and uncertainties lying around in many of the NeL player's biographies, there isn't anything comparable to the Beckwith case. I, too, would like to know more about how the elements of Riley's bio came to be written.

And I should also apologize for jumping down your throat about the whole thing, though I tried not to fly off the handle. There'd been so much digging into the whole Beckwith matter, and a lot of analysis of what in Riley was reliable and what wasn't, and how James took the info from Riley and created a compelling but somewhat misleading portrait of Beckwith, that I assumed everyone was completely familiar with the factual problems in Riley and satisfied with the analysis of them.

Chris:

No offense, but it would have been nice if you had made these posts a while back. Maybe Beckwith would be in the HoM already. :-)


John,

It was my impression that with 300+ posts on the Beckwith thread, everything that needed to be said had been said :-) . I really didn't know the extent to which the Beckwith character issue was a live issue.

And as the recent posts on his thread concerning the end of his 1925 season have shown, there is still more to be learned. There's a book waiting to be written on Beckwith, or at least a very lively chapter in a book on the Black Sox or something . . .
   125. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 02:44 AM (#1487618)
My main point is, it almost seems like there's an emotional component to your assertions here that seem out of kilter with your great work.
Emotions aren't bad, and I wouldn't be surprised if your interpretation is what Riley was trying to say. But it almost seems like you need Beckwith to be this 'good guy who was wronged.'

I say this with trepidation and all due respect, seriously. You just seem so confident that some people are out to get him for no good reason, and I don't quite understand it.


Sigh. I knew I should have just waited 24 hours before I posted anything about this . . .

I don't need Beckwith to be wronged, but I am convinced from careful consideration of the mountains of evidence on the Beckwith thread that he has been wronged (good guy or no). I focused on the 1923 example because it's relatively clear and I could remember the key details off the top of my head. It's only a small piece of the puzzle, and a lot of careful analysis and fact-checking was done on the Beckwith thread that I thought pretty thoroughly illuminated the shortcomings of the Riley bio. So when I saw the anecdotes from Riley being raised again as they were recast by Bill James, I was pretty frustrated.

I was also angry about the integrity of the MLE playing time estimates being called into question, especially after the rationale for the playing time estimates for 1923 and 1924 had been, once upon a time, discussed in detail on the Beckwith thread. I'm am not always able to avoid defensiveness when the MLEs come up.

Finally, I was frustrated that this whole big issue, which I had regarded as settled, was being raised at the present moment, when I had just finished a lot of work on Alejandro Oms (which doesn't seem to be getting much discussion, yet, by the way, so I'll pitch it here in hopes that the high rhetoric of this conversation is grabbing the electorate's attention) and was ready to scale back my discussion on the list so that I could get a big project finished before taking a vacation.

Obviously, and as voters should always remember, I did my cause no good by speaking with excessive heat about it. But only some of the heat had to do with Beckwith. The rest pertained to me, circumstantially.
   126. Gadfly Posted: July 21, 2005 at 03:17 AM (#1487656)
Posts 110-124

Funny to just be reading along in the 1956 Ballot thread and come upon an extension of the John Beckwith (my man) thread. Especially since 1) Beckwith died in January of 1956 of cancer and 2) I just went to see 'Wedding Crashers' last night and the leading man's name in the movie was, incredibly enough, John Beckwith.

(Is there a screenwriter lurking around here?)

Also, not to take credit where no credit is due, the posts detailing Beckwith's leaving from Chicago were put up by the great Gary A.

Finally, in support of Chris Cobb's position, the mini-biography of Beckwith written by Riley and obviously read and regurgitated by Bill James is highly suspect in one area: the implication that Beckwith was some sort of criminal.

Of course, this is not to say that Beckwith was not a difficult man like Albert Belle or Dick Allen or Rogers Hornsby (who all comp him well in my opinion) because he very obviously was.

It is true that Beckwith fought with umpires, teammates, opposing players (the story of him knocking out his own pitcher after being shown up by that pitcher is true), and just about any one else who pissed him off.

But strangely enough to say, when Beckwith lived, this would not have been considered criminal conduct. If someone acted like Beckwith did today, he would go to jail. But that is a misunderstanding of context. In his time, a man was supposed to stand up for himself with his fists.

[Probably the most famous example from that time in the Majors would be Bill Dickey breaking Carl Reynold's jaw. If that happened today, just imagine the consequences. It would make the little Kenny Rogers-Cameramen flap look like so much crapola.]

In my opinion, it is easy to see where Riley, pumping it up a little, went from Beckwith, that hothead, to Beckwith, that criminal. Riley, playing a little loose with the truth, characterized Beckwith as a criminal and then fit his bio to that view.

But, as Chris Cobb stated, the facts don't support the characterization. Beckwith managed pretty steadily from 1924 to 1942 (his hiring as the Lincoln Giants' manager to replace John Lloyd actually contributed to the end of that team) and was, by all accounts, respectable in that role.

Beckwith, far from becoming a career criminal after his playing career ended, was STILL MANAGING in the late 1940s. It is very clear that Riley exaggerated. In all likelihood, it's probable that he never figured anyone would check.

As for Riley having some source for the 'bad' Beckwith, no Negro Leaguer who personally knew Beckwith, that I am aware of, claimed that Beck was a criminal.

The really interesting thing to me is that the only actual criminal activity that is truly documented about Beckwith happened to him, not by him. His (soon to be ex) wife stabbed him in 1929 and it was reported in the papers.

It happened right before the California Winter League Championship Game and, by all reports, Beckwith was too incapacitated to play. He played anyway and hit two homers.

I wouldn't mind having a bastarrd like that on my team.

PS- Wedding Crashers is funny as hell but drags at the end.
   127. Gadfly Posted: July 21, 2005 at 03:48 AM (#1487706)
125. Chris Cobb-

Thanks for all the great work on Oms. He'll be on my 1956 ballot and high up since (of course) I believe that the translations very badly undercut the Negro Leaguers' estimates (Me .95/.90 BA-SA, You .90/.82 BA-SA).

I've been doing some work in that area and have to admit that I was actually over-estimating the increase which I had at 33 percent. I formed that estimate off the cuff but, when I tested it out, found out that it's more like 25 percent for Offensive Win Shares and OPS+.

[This is a tangent, but Bob Boyd recently died. His Negro League-Major League stats were always somewhat problematic as he did not hit in the Majors like his Negro League stats said he should have. Well, it turns out that he was eight years older than he claimed. His Negro League years are dead prime and his Major League years are in his mid to late 30s. His career now makes sense.]

And, if that is you getting ALL emotional, I'll just call you Spock from now on. You obviously have to work on being able to get your dander up. For some pointers, just check out my complete meltdown on the Mackey thread once again.
   128. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 04:42 AM (#1487753)
I'm sorry to hear that Bob Boyd died, but it's very interesting that Boyd was 8 years older than he claimed. That would change his impact on my MLE calculation somewhat . . .

Someday there'll be time to revisit that, and work on tracing changes in competition levels from the mid-twenties to late forties. I think your estimates are probably too high for the 1940s, but I think my estimates are probably too low for the 1930s.
   129. Howie Menckel Posted: July 21, 2005 at 11:42 AM (#1487916)
Wow, good responses.
I still suspect Beckwith was at least an Albert Belle and maybe worse.
And most guys who get stabbed by their wives weren't just sitting around minding their own business. Saying that happened "to him" seems like a minor stretch to me, in that I'll take a wild guess he had something to do with it (I know, 'blaming the victim.')

But I DO agree that James's take on Beckwith and other early Negro Leaguers can be dismissed. Riley also is erratic in his accuracy, and I think Beckwith's problems historically have been overrated.

That said, I think this group was swaying more toward turning a blind eye to his foibles. So this 'dustup' actually just balances the scales a bit.
Beckwith is high on my ballot, but I still think the reasonable suspicion of Beckwith's temper can be a minor factor that lifts Suttles past him, which is what happened with me.

Ultimately, I think we're getting Beckwith right.
   130. TomH Posted: July 21, 2005 at 12:08 PM (#1487927)
Help...I don't understand a WARPed stat.
On the BP cards, Eppa Rixey and Red Ruffing have similar adjusted DERAs (which is ERA adjusted for park, defense, and leage strength). But in their Tranlasted Stats, Rugging's career ERA is about 0.2 lower?!? Which one of these drives WARP3? I ahve been assuming adjDERA does, but maybe some of Ruffing's large advantage over Rixey would be explained (away) if the Translated Stats are used.

OTOH, I've seen mention of people dissing Ruffing because of the great Yankee teams for which he pitched. While it's true that these guys were an amazing offensive powerhouse with great pitchers, it does NOT seem that their defense was anythign special -- so we should discount Ruffing's W-L a lot, and his ERA+ somewhat for the fact he didn't face JoeD and LouG, but I don't think his D helped him.
   131. sunnyday2 Posted: July 21, 2005 at 12:17 PM (#1487933)
I can't speak for anybody else, but being the one who brought this whole John Beckwith character discussion back to life, at least now I remember what the hell it was all about.

I meant to criticize John Beckwith, BTW, not Chris Cobb.

But with Beckwith now a likely electee in 1957 or 1958 and with him even in my own queue (in 1956) for PHoM at about #5-6, I know that I wanted to remember how serious the case against him really is.

And the fact that there are 300+ posts on his thread is really part of the problem, not the solution, I mean, yes, that's a lazy man's excuse, but I forced myself to read every line of every post, and clearly I don't claim to understand the import of every post.

Just as I also am trying to track about 100 players each year, now, as I construct a ballot. I don't think it's unreasonable that issues that seem settled will come back to life in such an environment. I mean, Alejandro Oms had seemed settled, and he came back to life, too, and that's a good thing.

But I agree that there is no evidence that Beckwith was this criminal. There is lots of evidence that he was as James alleges a pain in the ass to have around. A guy who physically beats up his own teammates, and as an ex-boxer is entirely capable of doing so, is not a good teammate.

In hindsight, however, I agree that I did not make a very good case for docking him any specific number of WS in any specific season. Chris' response to that argument is a reasonable one.

So, anyway, as I said, I've now returned a lot of data into active memory, but data is not information, information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom. I still don't know that I have any knowledge, much less wisdom, concerning John Beckwith. So I can't say that I feel he is settled as in resolved, but at least his case has been reviewed.
   132. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 21, 2005 at 01:07 PM (#1487964)
"I hereby nominate his 1886 year as the "least valuable season ever by a hitter with an OPS+ of over 150".

I don't really disagree with this but I do have a question here that will be pertinent in about 30 'years' or so.

Is being really bad defensively as Browning was, or maybe like a Jeter or Klesko today, less valuable than being a DH? In other words is Browning's season less valuable than those of David Ortiz or Edgar Martinez?

I think that bad defense is more valuable than no defense, especially bad defense at a position like SS or CF where you still make a ton of plays even if you are a potted plant.
   133. TomH Posted: July 21, 2005 at 01:41 PM (#1487994)
I think under the more extreme cases, bad defense can be worse than being a DH. I mean obviosuly, booting 3 balls in one game, you shoulda left your glove at home that day. Just like Steve Blass in 1973, his team would have won more games if he hadn't pitched.
Which makes it amusing that in the 1886 year I mentioned, Browning had a positive 12 FRAR; it's hard for me to fathom that 45 errors and no range was 12 runs better than 'replacement'!
   134. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 21, 2005 at 01:46 PM (#1488000)
It happened right before the California Winter League Championship Game and, by all reports, Beckwith was too incapacitated to play. He played anyway and hit two homers.

Sounds like fifty anecdotes attributed to Mickey Mantle throughout his career. :-)

It was my impression that with 300+ posts on the Beckwith thread, everything that needed to be said had been said :-) . I really didn't know the extent to which the Beckwith character issue was a live issue.

Since most of the electorate values your conversions, that Beckwith hasn't done as well as one would think with his numbers indicated to me that there was either two reasons for his being "held back": 1) his defense and what positions he would actually play in the ML and 2) his character issues. Since Jud Wilson got a relative pass on the first issue despite being very similar to Beckwith in that regard, it would then appear that #2 was the stronger factor (though Wilson was the better player, IMO).

But as I pointed out last week (I think), I'm confident that Beckwith will eventually go into the HoM eventually, while the vast majority of the HOF electorate probably will only hear his name in the "Wedding Crashers" (as Gadfly pointed out) and that's it. A little wait is better than being overlooked any time.

As for letting off steam, I'll abstain from commenting. :-)
   135. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 02:18 PM (#1488026)
TomH wrote:

Help...I don't understand a WARPed stat.
On the BP cards, Eppa Rixey and Red Ruffing have similar adjusted DERAs (which is ERA adjusted for park, defense, and leage strength). But in their Tranlasted Stats, Rugging's career ERA is about 0.2 lower?!? Which one of these drives WARP3?


Since the glossary doesn't explain the translated stats, I don't have an official answer for what they mean. However, I'm sure that WARP3 is driven by adjusted DERA: the translated stats seem basically to be a nifty toy.

As to the difference you've observed, my hypothesis is that translated ERA is meant to work like real ERA does, which means that it is influenced by fielding. Ruffing's NRA adjusted for all time is 4.33; Rixey's is 4.45. I posit that the formula that generates translated ERA works off of adjusted NRA.

OTOH, I've seen mention of people dissing Ruffing because of the great Yankee teams for which he pitched. While it's true that these guys were an amazing offensive powerhouse with great pitchers, it does NOT seem that their defense was anythign special -- so we should discount Ruffing's W-L a lot, and his ERA+ somewhat for the fact he didn't face JoeD and LouG, but I don't think his D helped him.

According to WARP, most of the Yankees teams Ruffing pitched for were good-to-excellent fielding teams. (WS agrees about this -- Chris J.'s RSI page for Ruffing shows a positive defensive adjustment for 1934-1942.) The Yankees of the late 1920s and early 1930s were poor-to-average teams defensively, but that changed starting in 1934: they were above average every seasons for the rest of Ruffing's career, and they were a great defensive team in several seasons. His D did help him -- in New York. It was a different story in Boston, of course.
   136. DavidFoss Posted: July 21, 2005 at 03:51 PM (#1488273)
Since most of the electorate values your conversions, that Beckwith hasn't done as well as one would think with his numbers indicated to me that there was either two reasons for his being "held back".

If I recall correctly, Beckwith was one of the first of the cases there Chris's MLE's were strongly used, so there was a bit of a delay in getting his candidacy going as lengthy debates were still going on as to how much weight to put in the MLE's.

Beckwith entered the ballot in 1940 (Pike's year) way down at 14th -- that's also below Sewell, Rixey, Jennings, Griffith, Sisler, Beckley, Leach, Van Haltren, Waddell, Duffy and Welch.

In 1941, he jumped over Duffy and Welch but was still far below newly eligible Vance.

In 1942, he made his move up to 5th but still trailed Vance, Terry, Rixey and Sewell.

By 1943, he had passed Rixey and Sewell and had solidified his spot at the top of the backlog (joined later there by Suttles). Its quite reasonable that even given what we know now that if he wasn't inducted by 1943 that he's still be eligible today.

So, if the electorate had today's acceptance the MLE's Beckwith probably would have been inducted in 1940 or 1942 over one of Pike, Vance or Terry, but we needed those 'early' debates to pave the way for the quicker decisions on the NeL candidates that have followed.
   137. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 04:16 PM (#1488365)
I agree with David on the factors shaping Beckwith' long wait for election. I'll also note that Oms became eligible in 1942. If it hadn't taken several elections for Beckwith's case to be satisfactorily analyzed, and if it hadn't taken a decade plus for Oms to get a hearing, the 1942 election might have gone quite differently.
   138. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 21, 2005 at 04:51 PM (#1488495)
David:

I wasn't referring to Beckwith before and after Chris' MLEs, but where he is now with his MLEs known and accepted. It is my view that another player without the character issues that have been thrust upon Beckwith would have far more votes as of right now and may have been elected a while back.
   139. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 21, 2005 at 05:01 PM (#1488533)
BTW, which HoM voters or contributors will be attending the SABR convention this year? Joe and I will be there, while I'm pretty sure Mike Webber will be attending (Craig B may attend for a day). Of course, Paul Wendt and Chris J are a given.
   140. Michael Bass Posted: July 21, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1488573)
I still suspect Beckwith was at least an Albert Belle and maybe worse.

And this statement is why I detest the use of character evidence in these sorts of things. Albert Belle was detested by the media and many fans (and not without reason). I am aware of zero evidence that he was detested by his teammates; in fact most quotes I've heard from teammates liked him, or at least respected him. I am aware of less than zero evidence that he was so bad that he was costing his team games.

What has happened in my view in the case of Belle is that people who don't like him personally aren't satisfied with just declaring him a bad guy, but want to further declare that his being a bad guy made him a less valuable baseball player. Here's a clue for the arrogant beat writers: Someone being mean to you doesn't make them worse baseball players.

The same is demonstrably true for Rickey Henderson...maybe even worse with Gammons spreading around obviously untrue stories about him, while his teammates liked him quite a bit.

In the absense of strong evidence to the contrary, (such as actual game fixing or some such), I find virtually all character talk to be just that...the historian/reporter/whatever doesn't like the guy for a variety of reasons, and lets that cloud their judgment of his career.

People were more than happy to dismiss a certain historian's rose-colored views of Ferrell when it became apparent that he was inflating his views of him for whatever reason. I fail to see why they are less ready to discard what is quite apparently Riley's similar (but opposite) analysis of Beckwith.
   141. DavidFoss Posted: July 21, 2005 at 05:10 PM (#1488575)
I wasn't referring to Beckwith before and after Chris' MLEs, but where he is now with his MLEs known and accepted.

Oh, OK, sure. I misunderstood you. What I said above still holds and is interesting -- even if it doesn't really respond to what you said.

I'd put quite a bit of stock in your other reason as well. Its a bit conflicting to given a defensive-spectrum bonus to a mediocre fielder. I'm more inclined to give such a bonus, but its by no means a universal view.
   142. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 21, 2005 at 05:15 PM (#1488594)
Oh, OK, sure. I misunderstood you. What I said above still holds and is interesting -- even if it doesn't really respond to what you said.

Your post was indeed interesting and makes sense, David.

I'd put quite a bit of stock in your other reason as well. Its a bit conflicting to given a defensive-spectrum bonus to a mediocre fielder. I'm more inclined to give such a bonus, but its by no means a universal view.

I agree that it has its own weight in regard to Beckwith's placement on our ballots, but I think the character issues are what knock him off some ballots.
   143. jimd Posted: July 21, 2005 at 05:39 PM (#1488681)
I think that bad defense is more valuable than no defense,

Win Shares agrees with this. FWS can never be negative, even if Jason Giambi is at SS.

WARP does not cap bad defense, though it has to be pretty bad to get negative.

Which makes it amusing that in the 1886 year I mentioned, Browning had a positive 12 FRAR; it's hard for me to fathom that 45 errors and no range was 12 runs better than 'replacement'!

Well they did make more errors back then. But this reflects a serious misunderstanding about WARP's FRAR.

Consider a SS with a .260 EQA and 0 FRAA, and a RF with a .260 EQA and 0 FRAA. Which is more valuable? Obviously, the SS, because he's an above average hitter for his position, while the RF is close to replacement at his.

This difference in the implied value of fielding position is currently folded into the FRAR. I think that WARP would be easier to understand if this "position adjustment" was made explicit by putting it on the sheet as a separate column. (Maybe they don't have room.) Then the FRAR could really be fielding runs above replacement.

Win Shares does a similar thing with its base allocation for fielding, but doesn't recieve the criticism because it makes no claims about having any relation to "replacement value". (Browning was awarded 1.8 FWS in 1886; that fielding allegedly "won" .6 games...)

*****

information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom.

And "Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST."

Except for baseball (maybe).
   144. TomH Posted: July 21, 2005 at 06:36 PM (#1488938)
WARP does not cap bad defense, though it has to be pretty bad to get negative.

-- So can anyone find a case of negative FRAR?

it's hard for me to fathom that 45 errors and no range was 12 runs better than 'replacement'!

this reflects a serious misunderstanding about WARP's FRAR....This difference in the implied value of fielding position is currently folded into the FRAR.

-- yes, I'm aware of this. Maybe I should word it "can a player's defense be so poor such that the positional value of his playing CF over DH is negated?" I certainly believe so. Gimabi (or me!) at shortop would most definitely qualify.

I think that WARP would be easier to understand if this "position adjustment" was made explicit by putting it on the sheet as a separate column.

-- agree..and WS also, but this would also expose one of WS' weaknesses; it's 'cap' on no below-zero fielding.
   145. Chris Cobb Posted: July 21, 2005 at 07:04 PM (#1489081)
-- So can anyone find a case of negative FRAR?

A quick check of a couple of players with reputations as the worst fielders of all time supplemented by a cross-check with fielders graded as D- or F in win shares finds the following: Dave Kingman, 1981 and 1982, Paul Schaal, 1972 and 1973, Dick Stuart and Frank Thomas for basically their whole careers.

The way WARP handles FRAR, I would guess that almost all the examples of it come at the 1B/RF end of the defensive spectrum. Eddie Lake, 1947, manages it at SS, though.
   146. karlmagnus Posted: July 21, 2005 at 07:33 PM (#1489215)
1B - Dick Stuart
2B - ?
3B - Levi Meyerle
SS - Beckwith
OF- Kingman, Browning, ?
SP - ?

See where I'm going here? Would it be possible to construct such a team that would win a pennant? I rather think it would, in which case fielding ability is only of moderate imporatnce.
   147. karlmagnus Posted: July 21, 2005 at 07:33 PM (#1489218)
1B - Dick Stuart
2B - ?
3B - Levi Meyerle
SS - Beckwith
OF- Kingman, Browning, T. Williams
SP - ?

See where I'm going here? Would it be possible to construct such a team that would win a pennant? I rather think it would, in which case fielding ability is only of moderate imporatnce.
   148. karlmagnus Posted: July 21, 2005 at 07:37 PM (#1489239)
Question is whether standards can be stretched to include Williams, and Hornsby at 2B, in which case I would think with decent pitching that team would win every year!
   149. Sean Gilman Posted: July 21, 2005 at 08:35 PM (#1489453)
Over the course of their careers:

Player, FRAR, FRAA

Browning, 248, -43

Kingman, 89, -42

Stuart, 110, -30

Thomas, -21, -84

Ramirez, 87, -20


That gap between Browning's FRAR and his FRAA seem rather large. . .

By the way, Frank Thomas had a negative FRAR every year from 1991-1997, when he finally started DHing more than playing first.

Also interesting: Thomas and Browning currently have identical OPS+s of 162. So there you go: Pete Browning is Frank Thomas with better defense.
   150. DavidFoss Posted: July 21, 2005 at 08:38 PM (#1489456)
Oh, at first, I thought we were talking about the other Frank Thomas. :-)
   151. karlmagnus Posted: July 21, 2005 at 08:43 PM (#1489468)
Oh, by the way C - "Schnozz" Lombardi. I knew I'd forgotten a position! The opposition would steal a lot of bases, but Hornsby would knock them on their ass if they tried it too often!
   152. KJOK Posted: July 21, 2005 at 09:52 PM (#1489602)
According to WARP, most of the Yankees teams Ruffing pitched for were good-to-excellent fielding teams. (WS agrees about this -- Chris J.'s RSI page for Ruffing shows a positive defensive adjustment for 1934-1942.)

I would caution that the Yankees appearing to be a good fielding team during the 1930's may be a fielding park effect...
   153. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: July 22, 2005 at 12:51 AM (#1489905)
For anyone still interested in Burleigh Grimes . . . for the first time in a while I've been doing some work for the Unearned Run Adjuster, and I just did Grimes. The results aren't good for him. He allowed 52 more unearned runs than he should have given his teammates % of UER allowed. The adjustment would make his 3.53 ERA a 3.64 ERA and I'd guesstimate that his ERA+ would fall from 107 to 104.
   154. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: July 22, 2005 at 12:52 AM (#1489909)
Blast forgot the link in the link -

the Unearned Run Adjuster.
   155. Howie Menckel Posted: July 22, 2005 at 01:38 AM (#1490014)
Michael Bass,
Your general point about there sometimes being a difference between a guy who is bad with the media and a bad teammate is exactly correct. I think I can literally say I know this better than anybody here.
So my 'zipping out the door, offhand reference' today was an error on my part. I should have been more careful not to be that specific unless I had that actual opinion of the person.
I've never met Belle, and I've never asked a teammate what he was like.

There are athletes who are a bad influence on younger players, who don't always put forth a good effort, and who contribute to a losing atmosphere. I don't honestly know if Belle is one of those.

I do still wonder if Beckwith was one of those.
He still finished 5th on my ballot, and the possibility (hey, with Negro Leaguers, there is no perfect precision) that he was a problem may have kept him from being the 1st Negro Leaguer.

I wish my offhand comment hadn't ignited another match in here.
   156. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: July 22, 2005 at 04:07 AM (#1490678)
This is kinda cool, so I thought I'd mention it. Sean Forman has created a "bullpen for b-ref, essentially a wiki-page for the site where anyone can add comments in that they'd like to for players. Thought some here might find that interesting and might even want to link the player threads in this project to the appropriate page.
   157. Jeff M Posted: July 22, 2005 at 04:17 AM (#1490720)
I've only scanned all this Beckwith stuff, but I would like to add a couple of general points.

1. First, I think we have to be very careful about referring to anything as a "lie" or anyone as a "liar." Those are strong charges, particularly with respect to someone who has written the primary biographies of the Negro Leaguers.

2. Second, I don't necessarily equate "got in trouble with the law" with calling someone a criminal. It was quite easy for a black person in those days (and today, come to think of it) to get into trouble with the law, regardless of whether he actually violated the law. I just don't read Riley's sentence to say he is a criminal. I read the sentence as Beckwith having to get out of Chicago because of legal troubles, but I don't think Riley convicts him of anything.

Suppose Beckwith said to a teammate "I've gotta get out of town. The cops are giving me a hard time." Would that be in the paper? In the police records? If the teammate recounted the incident to Riley, or to someone else who told Riley, no one is a liar. Would it be independently and objectively verifiable? And it would be accurate to say he "got in trouble with the law," even though we wouldn't say he was a criminal.

I just made that scenario up, of course, but I think it illustrates points #1 and #2.

3. And finally, I am quite surprised that anyone has latched on to the "got in trouble with the law" language, and isn't concerned about the last two paragraphs of the bio, which suggest Beckwith's attitude may have significantly impaired his value to his team. That seems much more relevant to our purpose in the election process.
   158. Chris Cobb Posted: July 22, 2005 at 05:53 PM (#1491732)
Re point 1:

I am pretty careful with my use of words, and I am not given to rash accusations or inflammatory rhetoric. I have considered the available evidence thoroughly, and in my judgment, someone at some point, told some significant untruths about Beckwith, which entered into his biographical record.

I do not and have not accused Riley of lying, of just making up these claims; it was probably his source or someone else's source, and Riley simply compiled the story as part of his encyclopedia. There's a lot of legend mixed in with history in the bios. Sometimes Riley distinguishes legend from history in his bios; sometimes he doesn't. Since, Riley does not give sources for any of his information, responsibility is impossible to trace directly. I doubt very much that he is not drawing on the work of other historians in the encyclopedia, though it is imaginable that the entire volume represents the results of his own original research.

Maybe whoever told the story was mistaken, and not lying, but I don't think the story can be true, because any of the imagined extenuating circumstances that could reconcile the story as it appears in Riley with the evidence of primary sources don't square with the use of the story as part of the bio.

Its purpose in the bio is to call Beckwith a criminal. If Beckwith were just an innocent victim harrassment of by the police, why would the story present the incident in a way that strongly implies that Beckwith's unsavory activities cut short his Chicago baseball career? Elsewhere in the bio, with equal lack of substantiation, Beckwith is described as a criminal, involved in bootlegging and prostitution. If whoever assembled the story of Beckwith were not trying to show him in a bad light, that person would have handled the elements of the story differently.

re point 3. The claims about "the trouble with the law" in the bio are important not primarily in themselves. Sure, it's too bad if Beckwith is made out to have been a criminal if he really wasn't. But what's at stake here is the reliability of the bio as a whole. The bio presents Beckwith's character as that of a dangerous troublemaker. There's lots of elements in the story that could never be proven or disproven (such as that his attitude significantly impaired his value to his teams, something that's difficult to prove about any player), so it's important to consider the elements that can be proven or disproven. If whoever crafted the story has introduced false information to make Beckwith look bad, that has to call into question the parts of the story that are purely subjective judgment.
   159. Chris Cobb Posted: July 22, 2005 at 06:04 PM (#1491770)
ps. I'm about to leave for 10 days of much-needed vacation, so the following will be my last word on the Beckwith subject, or any other HoM subject, for a while.

As I explained above in response to Howie, I spoke as I did (including using the "L" word) because I was trying in a hurried way to bring up short renewed discussion of Beckwith's character that was treating the contents of the Riley bio as reframed by James as generally factual. It would have caused less trouble if I had put my view of the counterfactuality of at least some elements of the bio less baldly, but I didn't have time for nuance (I've lost the time in subsequent explanations anyway, alas). Nevertheless, I believe that anyone who undertakes a thorough study of the evidence will find my view, if not the only reaonable one, at least highly likely, so I stand by my views. I regret that they have become a subject of controversy, however.
   160. jimd Posted: July 22, 2005 at 06:07 PM (#1491778)
Would it be possible to construct such a team that would win a pennant? I rather think it would, in which case fielding ability is only of moderate imporatnce.

With that mind, I thought I'd look for some pennant winners that were bad fielders. I'm nowhere done, but I thought that I'd share this gem (which is the reverse).

The NL Champions of 1878 were the Boston Red Caps (Wright, O'Rourke, Sutton, Bond, et al). They had a last-in-the-league OPS+ of 79 and an ERA+ of 101, and still won the pennant by 4 games. They either did it with mirrors or with fielding.
   161. DavidFoss Posted: July 22, 2005 at 06:21 PM (#1491806)
They either did it with mirrors or with fielding.

More UER than ER in the 1878 NL. Boston led the league in RA+ by a healthy margin.
   162. karlmagnus Posted: July 22, 2005 at 07:53 PM (#1492031)
It's possible of course that the stories may be true but misleading. In Chicago in 1923-25, there were a hell of a lot of people involved in low level bootlegging, and being involved in it didn't make you a member of Organized Crime (it made you a criminal, but only because the law was silly.) Only in the late 1920s did Al Capone get going and bootlegging become a serious business.

It's certainly reasonable to imagine a tough customer like Beckwith, who hung around bars and pool halls, making some additional dosh by this means, and when the game got rough deciding that a change of venue would be good for his life expectancy. That doesn't make him a CRIMINAL -- he won't have made much post-career money by bootlegging, since Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and he could thus perfectly well have settled down to a life of utmost respectability once bootlegging ceased to be semi-legitimate.

Imagine a 70s/80s player who maybe deals a little dope on the side (not heroin/crack, which seriously damage his teammates' health.) Would we drop him much for this, if it was known? I don't think so.

Beckwith's activities, if they existed, may technically have been illegal, but if this is their extent, they don't reflect on the game and are e.g. considerably less "immoral" than say Benny Kauff's dodgy used car dealing.
   163. jimd Posted: July 22, 2005 at 07:55 PM (#1492033)
More UER than ER in the 1878 NL.

For the league as a whole, 55% of the runs were unearned. OTOH, only 42% of Boston's runs-against were unearned.

Boston led the league in FPct and DP and was second in DER. BP Gold Gloves at CF, 2B, Ca, Pi, above average at SS, 3B. WS Gold Gloves at 2B, 3B, SS, Ca.
   164. Gary A Posted: July 22, 2005 at 08:04 PM (#1492055)
Chris Cobb (#1491732)
If whoever crafted the story has introduced false information to make Beckwith look bad, that has to call into question the parts of the story that are purely subjective judgment.

I can't put it any better than Chris. Since Riley presents some "facts" that are verifiably false, it calls into question everything he says, at least about Beckwith--especially the most subjective parts, such as the last three paragraphs of the entry on Beckwith.

And there are false statements in Riley, make no mistake. We've gone over (and over) this on the Beckwith thread; if you don't get the "in trouble with the law" dispute (about Beckwith leaving the Am Gts in 1923), see posts 278 & 279 there. For Beckwith's being kicked off (or leaving) the Homestead Grays in 1924 (about which Riley is misleading by omission) see post 104.
   165. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: July 24, 2005 at 05:59 AM (#1494539)
Way overdue, but since I think Bobby Veach is somewhat underrated (although he hasn't made my ballot in awhile), here's some info on how he ranks by Win Shares among corner OF in his best years. I looked at all of MLB in years when he had 25+ Win Shares, and at the AL for years with 15+ WS. CF are listed seperately and not counted in the rankings.

1914: 18 WS, T-7th in AL (Crawford - 31, T.Walker - 28, Murphy - 23, Hooper, Jackson, Lewis - 20, S. Collins - 18) (CF: Speaker, Cobb, Shotton, Milan)
1915: 30 WS, 1st in AL, 2nd in ML (Cravath - 35) (CF: Cobb, Speaker)
1916: 27 WS, 2nd in AL, 3rd in ML (Jackson - 34, Wheat - 32) (CF: Speaker, Cobb, Kauff(T), Paskert(T))
1917: 31 WS, T-1st in AL, T-2nd in ML (Burns -34, Jackson - 31) (CF: Cobb, Speaker)
1918: 17 WS, T-3rd in AL (Ruth - 40, Hooper - 29, Walker - 17) (CF: Cobb, Speaker)
1919: 32 WS, T-2nd in AL, T-3rd in ML (Ruth - 43, Jackson, Burns - 32) (CF: Roush, Cobb(T))
1920: 25 WS, 3rd in AL, 5th in ML (Ruth - 51, Jackson - 37, Youngs - 33, Wheat - 28) (CF: Speaker, Roush, Felsch, Myers, Jacobson(T))
1921: 22 WS, 7th in AL (Ruth - 53, Heilmann - 28, Williams - 27, Tobin - 25, Meusel - 24, Rice - 23) (CF: Speaker, Cobb, Jacobson)
1922: 22 WS, T-4th in AL (Williams - 30, Ruth - 29, Heilmann - 24, T. Walker - 22) (CF: Speaker, Cobb, Miller(T))

I didn't check all first basemen, but Sisler is ahead of him in 1918 and 1920-22.

Another Veach fact: Among the corner OFs in my consideration set*, here's who has the highest WARP1 for their best season, 2nd-best, 3rd-best, etc.
Best-3rd Best seasons: Klein
4th-8th Best seasons: Veach
9th-13th Best seasons: Johnson
14th-17th Best seasons: Hooper

*(Burns, Cravath, Cuyler, Hooper, Charley Jones, Manush, Medwick, Rice, Tiernan, Veach, Wilson, plus Sam Thompson because he's not in my PHoM yet. Cravath's using my attempt to translate his MLE WS into WARP numbers.)

I have Medwick, Johnson and Cravath ahead of him, and some years Charley Jones as well. But I do feel he has a tendency to get overlooked.
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