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

Monday, March 20, 2006

1973 Ballot Discussion

1973 (April 3)—elect 2
WS W3 Rookie Name-Pos (Died)

261 89.5 1950 Whitey Ford-P
225 76.6 1952 Dick Groat-SS
210 78.0 1948 Curt Simmons-P
178 67.7 1952 Lew Burdette-P
157 67.9 1950 Vern Law-P
154 61.7 1952 Stu Miller-RP
172 54.3 1951 Smoky Burgess-C/PH (1991)
183 43.2 1954 Bill Skowron-1B
143 54.7 1953 Johnny Podres-P
151 47.2 1957 Jim Landis-CF
142 48.5 1957 Earl Battey-C (2003)
136 42.4 1959 Johnny Romano-C
123 44.8 1957 Billy O’Dell-P
115 43.7 1957 Jack Sanford-P (2000)
114 39.3 1958 Bob Shaw-P
127 34.2 1957 Jerry Lumpe-2B
103 40.7 1950 Johnny Klippstein-RP
122 32.4 1956 Jackie Brandt-CF
108 33.7 1956 Eddie Bressoud-SS
099 33.4 1959 Jim O’Toole-P
103 28.6 1958 Don Demeter-CF

Players Passing Away in 1972

HoMers
Age Elected

83 1933 Zack Wheat-LF
72 1947 Gabby Hartnett-C
53 1962 Jackie Robinson-2B

Candidates
Age Eligible

96 1916 Freddy Parent-SS
91 1921 Davy Jones-LF
84 1929 Donie Bush-SS
84 1930 Jeff Pfeffer-P
81 1936 Dave Bancroft-SS
80 1932 Johnny Rawlings-2B
79 1931 Allan Russell-RP
78——George Weiss-HOF GM/Club President
76 1935 Jack Smith-CF/RF
73 1942 Alvin “General” Crowder-P
72 1941 Pie Traynor-3B
71 1943 Vic Sorrell-P
70 1945 Moe Berg-C
69 1942 Watty Clark-P
67 1947 Danny MacFayden-P
65 1946 Dick Coffman-RP
65 1952 Rollie Hemsley-C
56 1958 Dizzy Trout-P
53 1961 Eddie Waitkus-1B
47 1969 Gil Hodges-1B

Upcoming Candidate
38 1978 Roberto Clemente-RF

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:28 AM | 153 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 29, 2006 at 11:30 PM (#1924727)
Is Mathewson the blonde or the collie?

I thought Lassie was the collie?
   102. sunnyday2 Posted: March 30, 2006 at 01:52 AM (#1924923)
Well there's always the possibility of a blonde collie.
   103. Chris Fluit Posted: March 30, 2006 at 02:57 AM (#1925089)
Hello everyone. I'm a long-term lurker, first-time poster. And by long-time lurker, I mean that I remember when the debates about Joe Start and Cal McVey were the hot topics. So that means I've been lurking since the 1908 election or thereabouts. And now, for a variety of reasons, I've decided to join in on the fun.

Before I get to my sample ballot, I'd like to share a little bit about my methodology. For starters, I looked at all of the players who finished in the top 35 in the most recent ballot plus a couple of others. I figure that should give me a fairly sufficient sampling for a solid top fifteen.

When rating players, I tend to look at three things. 1. I consider "peak," which is the number of years that a player was arguably the best in the game. It's similar to a black ink test. 2. I consider "prime," which is the number of years that a player was arguably an All-Star or the best at his position, similar to a gray ink test. 3. I consider "career," which rewards longevity and placement on all-time statistical lists. I don't do a lot of adjusting for timelines or park factors or things like that. I prefer looking at what players actually did rather than what they might have done under different circumstances.

However, I do hand out a few credits. I will give credit for a player whose career was cut short due to illness or death (such as Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson and Kirby Puckett- none of whom are currently on the ballot). I don't give out credit for injury. I also give credit for years missed due to war service but not to strikes or suspensions (so guys like Eddie Cicotte and Harold Baines have to rely on what they've actually done, while Joe Gordon and Willard Brown are adjusted upward).

That's a pretty fair summary of what I try to do. Without further ado, here are the kind of results that I come up with:

1. Whitey Ford, P. One of the best peaks on the ballot with outstanding years in '55, '58, '60, '61 and '63. A long prime landing in top ten lists for ERA, Wins and Strikeouts ten times. And all of that gives him one of the best careers on the ballot as well.

2. Cool Papa Bell, OF. There are other outfielders on this ballot with better peaks, but Bell had a long, long prime. And his career numbers for hits and stolen bases make him a close comparison to Max Carey who was inducted fairly easily.

3. Willard Brown, OF. At first look, I wasn't sure what all of the fuss was about as his career on-base and slugging are both kind of low. But when I looked at his peak and prime numbers, and gave him sufficient war credit, he jumped way up.

4. Cannonball Dick Redding, P. The MLEs of 234-174 put him between Ford and Billy Pierce which lands Redding right about here.

5. Jose Mendez, P. His MLEs are slightly lower than Redding but still just ahead of Pierce.

6. Billy Pierce, P. He had a very solid four year prime from 1955 to 1958. And he regularly ranked in top ten lists for WHIP, Ks per 9 IP, Ks and Complete Games for 8 or 9 seasons. He's a notch below Whitey Ford in every category but still one of the best candidates on the ballot.

7. Minnie Minoso, OF. Entered the majors and was immediately among the All-Stars for his first 9 seasons, picking up numerous top ten finishes in average, on-base percentage, runs, total bases, stolen bases and doubles. Outside of 1954 when he led the league in total bases, he doesn't have a lot of black ink. However, credit for his early years in the Negro leagues gives him enough career value to make him a very solid candidate.

8. Nellie Fox, 2B. I know that a lot of HoM'ers don't like the counting stats but I think there's some value in being the guy who actually got it done. With regular appearances in the top ten lists for average and hits (8 and 10 times respectively), Fox has an enviable prime. And his top ten appearances for total bases, doubles and triples (4, 5 and 11) show that he was more than just a singles slap-hitter.

9. Quincy Trouppe, C. He had a better peak than Fox but his prime wasn't quite as long.

10. Hugh Duffy, OF. A number of years ago, I did a lot of research on the 1890s and Hugh Duffy was a player that impressed me quite a bit. Looking into the numbers for the Hall of Merit, I was glad to discover that my impression of him held up. He has a solid peak with big years in 1890, '91, '94 and '97 and was routinely among the All-Star caliber players for a seven-year period from 1891-97.

11. George Sisler, 1B. His isn't quite as long as Duffy's as Sisler was only among the very best for a three-year period from 1920-22. However, he had a longer prime, picking up top ten slots in average, stolen bases, total bases and hits 8, 9, 9 and 11 times. Also, the career numbers aren't as bad as the Hall of Merit discussion led me to believe.

12. Ralph Kiner, OF. At his best, he was as good at Sisler, though more of a slugger. But he wasn't at his best as long as Sisler was and his career numbers end up pretty short.

13. Alejandro Oms, OF. Kiner turned out to be a fairly good comparison in terms of length of prime and career value. I'm a little more sure of Kiner's numbers though so Oms slips in just behind.

14. Jake Beckley, 1B. Never among the very best, but he was among the very good for a long time and his career numbers are among the best on the ballot.

15. Mickey Welch, P. A pitching version of Beckley: never among the very best, but he was among the very good for a long time and his career numbers are among the best on the ballot.

Required Disclosures:

Biz Mackey, C. He's 18th after my initial research, though I have to admit that he looks an awful lot like Ernie Lombardi which means the voters are either under-valuing Lombardi or over-valuing Mackey.

George Van Haltren, OF. As I mentioned during my Hugh Duffy tidbits, I've done a lot of research on the 1890s before joining this project. Van Haltren didn't impress me then and he doesn't impress me now. He was never one of the best players in the game and he wasn't even among the very good for all that long, maybe 5 years. He's nowhere near my ballot and I don't think he ever will be.

Joe Gordon, 2B. I've got him 16th and he'll easily make my ballot when another backlogger makes the Hall. War credit gives him a pretty strong prime, but his career numbers are still a little less impressive than those of Beckley and Welch.
   104. Chris Cobb Posted: March 30, 2006 at 04:30 AM (#1925275)
Chris Fluit,

Welcome to the HoM electorate! Your first ballot certainly looks well-considered, though if you've been thinking about it for 65 "years" or so, that's not surprising :-) .
   105. Chris Fluit Posted: March 30, 2006 at 05:57 AM (#1925402)
Thanks, Chris.
   106. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 30, 2006 at 07:18 AM (#1925481)
Ardo,

One criticism I would give of your analysis is the reliance on end of career rate stats. YOu do seperate out the short and long career guys taking out any chance of comparing apples and oranges, but career rates stats do not look closely at peak in any way. For instance, I think that Walters is one of our three best pitching candidtes because of his peak (both pitching and hitting), but career rate stats tell a different story.

Chris F.,

How many guys did you look at outside of the top 35? I only ask because a few of my guys (namely Charlie Keller) are outside the top 35. Of course you do know about Max Carey's induction process, which means you know what you are talking about when it comes to the HOM. One question, wouldn't top 10 lists favor guys on the left side of the defensive spectrum?
   107. Chris Fluit Posted: March 30, 2006 at 09:37 AM (#1925576)
Thanks for the comments, jschmeagol.

How many guys did you look at outside of the top 35?
When I posted my ballot, only a handful. Since posting my ballot, I've looked at the next 15 or so and have now considered the top 55 returnees. In that next group from 35-55, I've found a few guys whom I would rank in the low-20s but nobody who would crack my top 15. I always planned to eventually look at those guys, especially considering that some of them may become ballot-worthy as we delve into the backlog.

One question, wouldn't top 10 lists favor guys on the left side of the defensive spectrum?
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this. If you mean that my method tends to favor players from the more traditionally offensive positions like 1B and OF as opposed to the more traditionally defensive positions like 2B, 3B, SS and C, I think you're right. I was a little concerned myself when I looked at my ballot and realized that 13 of 15 spots were claimed by either the Pitcher or the 1B/0F corners of the triangle. I'm considering working in some positional bonuses for those defensive positions so that those players are on a equal plane with pitchers and outfielders. If I do, Fox and Trouppe will move up and Gordon and Mackey (currently at 16 and 18) will most likely make my ballot.

If you mean that my method tends to favor players with offensive production over those with defensive prowess, I again think you're right. However, I don't consider that much of a problem. I don't consider all-glove no-hit guys to be Hall-worthy (either "of Fame" or "of Merit"). And most of the best defensive players do make offensive contributions. Plus, famous glove men like Nellie Fox and Cool Papa Bell rank high on my ballot so I don't feel like I'm neglecting defensive players.
   108. TomH Posted: March 30, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#1925651)
another hearty welcome to Chris F!, even if his ballot looks precious little like mine...
   109. karlmagnus Posted: March 30, 2006 at 02:59 PM (#1925664)
Chris F.,The advantage of having been watching us since 1908 is that at the age of 80 or so you don't timeline. Welcome!
   110. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 30, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#1925823)
I meant the first one Chris, sorry if I wasn't clear. If you want to use top 10's or 5's or whatever I would suggest looking at the best players by position. Of course this means putting some more weight on the uberstats, but it can be done without them as well. For me I don't use top 10's, but 15 and 25 WS and 4.5 and 8 WARP3 (huge era adjsutsments though) as my benchmarks for priem and peak, respectively, with my own adjustments for wht I think they are missing (Whitey Ford's usage pattern, war credit, great defenders, etc.).

I dont' mean to get on you, just a suggestion, your ballot looks fine. Though it does seem to be missing Cupid Childs and Charlie Keller ;-)
   111. Chris Fluit Posted: March 30, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#1925900)
Thanks for the welcome, TomH and karlmagnus.

And don't worry, jschmeagol, I didn't take anything personally. You should be able to ask questions, and I should be able to defend my choices. The problem wasn't your question. The problem was that I felt I didn't have a satisfactory defense and may well have been underrepresenting some key positions.
   112. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 30, 2006 at 05:35 PM (#1925903)
Chris, you can post your ballot any time that you want.

Welcome!
   113. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 30, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#1926482)
Ardo, you can also submit your ballot on the Ballot Thread anytime.

Welcome back!
   114. Daryn Posted: March 31, 2006 at 02:10 AM (#1926867)
I will give credit for a player whose career was cut short due to illness or death (such as Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson and Kirby Puckett- none of whom are currently on the ballot).

Welcome Chris, but this is unconstitutional, HoM-wise. And it would effect existing fringe candidate Addie Joss (who happens to be on my ballot).
   115. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:06 AM (#1926977)
Welcome Chris, but this is unconstitutional, HoM-wise. And it would effect existing fringe candidate Addie Joss (who happens to be on my ballot).

I was going to ignore this until Munson came on the scene, but I might as well comment on it now. Daryn's right, it is unconstitutional.

For a guy like Gehrig, it doesn't matter, but the cases for Munson and Puckett depend upon extrapolating their careers (not to mention Joss or even Ross Youngs).
   116. Chris Fluit Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#1927026)
As a new guy, I'm not trying to stir up trouble. However, I've read through the constitution and I don't see any specific reference to this. If I'm wrong, feel free to point me to the specific paragraph or wording and I'll abide by the rules of the project.

Despite being a new guy, I have been an observer for a long time. When developing a feel for how I would evaluate candidates, I certainly considered the methods of the electorate as it already exists. Obviously, some candidates like Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente don't need any extra consideration. What they did before they died or succumbed to illness was more than enough. But I have seen other candidates who were given extra consideration in this regard. I'm thinking primarily of Roy Campanella who was elected fairly easily (46 out ot 49 first place votes) for a guy with career Win Shares of only 209 and a W3 of 73.6. Even Campy's Negro League credit isn't enough to explain the universal high regard of the electorate for his career if that same electorate wasn't giving him special consideration. Indeed, several voters even made comments at the time about ignoring the shortness of his career. I've seen similar comments about current candidates Dobie Moore, and yes even Addie Joss. So, without trying to get any current voters in trouble, I don't feel that my proposed approach is out of line with factors that other voters already consider.

If you prefer, I would restate my approach to "I don't penalize players for the shortness of their careers if that shortness is due to non-baseball related injuries, illness or death" rather than "I give credit." That's a more accurate description anyway. I won't be inventing or imagining any extra years for Moore, Joss or Kirby Puckett and Thurman Munson when the time comes, but I won't hold it against them that they had fewer years to work with than other players of similar caliber. Is that satisfactory?
   117. Michael Bass Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:18 AM (#1927067)
Uh...hasn't Karl been giving Joss "dead" credit for about 20 "years" now?
   118. Chris Cobb Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:25 AM (#1927080)
I don't think there is a Constitutional issue here, and I'm pretty sure that Karlmagnus has been doing something along these lines pretty explicitly for many elections. The Commish is the official interpreter of the Constitution, however, so if he sees a problem, he'll address it.

Not penalizing players for short careers if that shortness is due to non-baseball difficulties seems like a good way of describing your approach. I'm curious, actually, as to how you implement this element in your system, which is really a question about how you weigh career value.
   119. karlmagnus Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:27 AM (#1927089)
Chris, you have hit on an area of much debate. I believe the HOM constitution is somewhat fuzzy on the point. Most voters only give credit for actually playing baseball, albeit in the wrong league because of ethnicity (or age, qv Joe Start, Dickey Pearce), except for the special case of military service (the main argument for Dobie Moore). No credit is given for terminal injury (Koufax), death (Joss), incarceration (Moore again) or for suffering from a Landis temper tantrum that wasn't applied to equally guilty contemporaries (Jackson, Cicotte), because the folks thereby affected were unable to play baseball at a professional level thereafter. It might be helpful for the Commissioner to issue a Ruling, either clearing up what he understands to have been the position all along, or performing an adjudication between competing interpretations.)
   120. karlmagnus Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:33 AM (#1927100)
Yes, I give Joss dead credit for 25% of the extra career he might have had, Leever "stuffed up economics of NL" credit for 25% of the extra career he might have had and Cicotte "Landis temper tantrum" credit for 25% of the extra career he might have had. War credit (1, 2 and Korea) is at 50% (Moore gets 25% credit for pre-war army and jail, but he's still not close to my ballot) and I follow the consensus in giving 100% credit (probably about 110% credit, IMHO) for Negro League and pre-league play.

Others differ; my post above reflected what I believe to be the majority consensus.
   121. Daryn Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:44 AM (#1927114)
I didn't notice karl was doing that -- I thought it was against the rules. I used to specifically note on my ballot that I was giving no credit for Joss beyond his date of death.

As far as what Chris (new Chris) has proposed, I think the question he ought to/has to ask himself is whether he is giving Puckett more credit than a guy who had Puckett's exact same stats in the exact same era and just decided to quit. If the answer is yes, I was under the impression that that was unconstitutional.
   122. sunnyday2 Posted: March 31, 2006 at 05:17 AM (#1927167)
I only give "credit" for seasons in which players are NOT playing ball if there is an issue that affects an entire cohort--i.e. war/military service. Injuries and illness and death are "the breaks."

As a peak voter that does not prevent Addie Joss and Dobie Moore from ranking highly on my ballot.
   123. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 31, 2006 at 10:03 AM (#1927423)
Welcome aboard Chris!

Been out of the loop for a few days. Probably will be for a few more after tonight too (though I'll get a ballot in by Monday!)

I didn't realize Karl was giving 'dead-credit' either.

It was definitely the intent that players not be given credit for injuries. Death is an extreme injury, but it's still an injury.

Relevant passages (emphasis mine):

"Voters are strongly encouraged to consider only a player’s on-field accomplishments and other factors which had an impact on the outcomes of the player’s baseball games. . . . In addition to major league and Negro League accomplishments, particularly noteworthy minor league or non-US professional league accomplishments can also be considered meritorious (in a HoM perspective) in certain circumstances. However, it would be extremely unlikely for a career minor leaguer or Cuban league player to be elected to the HoM."

I would think a good player's death couldn't have a positive impact on the outcome of a team's games.

I think that's much different than military service, which is a condition of the times (not to mention a mandatory duty at times). Here's the way I'd list them, from most deserving of credit to least, on the scale of how close I think they are:

Negro League / Military service
Strike
Blacklist/unjustified suspension
Minor Leagues due to poor talent pipeline
___________






death
injury
justified suspension

The 'justified' portion is where I think there's leeway for the voter. If someone thinks Benny Kauff or Charley Jones were wronged it's reasonable to give credit. If someone thinks Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte deserved to be suspsended, no way they should get credit for missed time. Etc..

I also want to reiterate that it's not our place to judge whether MLBs penalties are strict enough. We really shouldn't be discounting any accomplishments because of cheating. Those players records were already discounted by any suspension the player may have had during his career. If MLB couldn't catch the player, then it's a 'skill', it's not cheating.
   124. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:06 PM (#1927490)
Yes, I give Joss dead credit for 25% of the extra career he might have had,

Besides the constitutionality factor, someone here just recently pointed out that he ended his last season with a bum arm. Considering the fact that he was hardly overworked when compared to his peers and still was fragile, giving him 25% more credit is beyond reasonable, IMO.
   125. karlmagnus Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:17 PM (#1927495)
Of my three 25% credit favorities, Joss is the only one remotely likely to be elected by the group. Cicotte (because others deduct from his concrete stats) and Leever are eccentricities (their modest additional credit can equally be considered a "first major Knuckleballer bonus" in Cicotte's case and a "middle class educated man with exceptionally good character, whose middle-classness combined with baseball's economic shambles to stop him becoming a ballplayer at the normal time" bonus in Leever's.)

However, Joss is primarily a peak candidate anywqay, so it doesn't make significant difference. Koufax, his closest comp, also has a similar but lesser argument (he wasn't dead) for extra 25% years. As I've stated previously, Joss was better than Koufax on the numbers, and I don't accept the rationale for discounting dead-ball era innings pitched.

Lots of pitchers have a bum arm at the end of a season and recover in the following one. Since they didn't have MRIs in 1910, we don't know whether Joss's arm would have been OK the following year or not -- by the time he might have recovered, he was dying.
   126. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#1927499)
But I have seen other candidates who were given extra consideration in this regard. I'm thinking primarily of Roy Campanella who was elected fairly easily (46 out ot 49 first place votes) for a guy with career Win Shares of only 209 and a W3 of 73.6. Even Campy's Negro League credit isn't enough to explain the universal high regard of the electorate for his career if that same electorate wasn't giving him special consideration.

But his combined Win Shares total, especially for a catcher, is excellent for the number of seasons he played. That's why he figured prominently on my ballot, not because I gave him extra credit. Besides, how many more WS would he have had after two sub-par seasons and now that he was in his mid-thirties, anyway?
   127. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:25 PM (#1927502)
Lots of pitchers have a bum arm at the end of a season and recover in the following one. Since they didn't have MRIs in 1910, we don't know whether Joss's arm would have been OK the following year or not -- by the time he might have recovered, he was dying.

But you have to admit that his career may have ended or been close to it after the '10 season. When there is that much uncertainity, then I can't see giving extra credit for any player.
   128. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2006 at 03:29 PM (#1927506)
As far as what Chris (new Chris) has proposed, I think the question he ought to/has to ask himself is whether he is giving Puckett more credit than a guy who had Puckett's exact same stats in the exact same era and just decided to quit.

I agree that's the relevant question here.
   129. TomH Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#1927589)
JeffM, post #3 in the ballot thread, questioned whether Cool Papa Bell's defense was merely 'good' instead of 'great'. My rank of Bell is predicated on the assumption that he belongs in the discussion with Mays, Speaker, and Flood as possibly the best OF glove ever. I suspect others are also.

Do we have evidence that my estimation of Bell's glovework is overrated?

I combed thru the Bell thread, and I only saw one year's defensive data (post 7 by gadfly), which gave indication of a superb CFer. OTOH, Bell spent a few yrs in LF; do we know why?

My placement of Cool Papa (currently #2) rests somewhat on this question.
   130. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 31, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#1927597)
I guess my problem with ranking Bell Mays, Jones, Et al. isn't that we dont' have evidence that he wasn't but that he don't have evidence that he was. Sure he was a great fielder, but without any evidence other than people's accounts, I can't say he was one of the all-time greats. Of course I have no reason to believe that he wasn't a tremendous asset with the glove either.
   131. sunnyday2 Posted: March 31, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#1927609)
Times like this I am so glad I am a peak/prime voter.

I mean, I can vote for guys who fought in WWII, I can vote for guys who are dead, or their arms are dead, or whatever, without having to imagine what they would have done if they hadn't been dead or the equivalent.
   132. sunnyday2 Posted: March 31, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#1927769)
Picking up here on the discussion of Bell--or, really, of NeL MLEs--on the ballot thread: I don't think Dobie Moore's MLEs are regressed because I don't think there are any MLEs for Moore, are there? I remember WS but nothing more.
   133. Chris Cobb Posted: March 31, 2006 at 07:37 PM (#1927843)
The MLEs that I produced for Moore were the first position-player MLEs that I produced directly from raw data, without any use of the i9s projections. I had not yet built regression into the system: it would be fair to say that I did not yet have a system. I had a set of principles about how MLEs might be produced, and I used those principles to calculate MLEs for Moore, but it was only after I fully regularized the use of those principles through the process of calculating MLEs for several more candidates that I had a system. As the system developed, I would update those players whose MLEs were spread-sheet calculated and who were still serious candidates. Moore was pre-spreadsheet and was a long way from the top 10 for a long time, so I never went back to him. I really ought to do so.

The win-share estimates for Moore are in the range of what my fully-developed MLE system would give to them, but they are not as rigorous. This summer, if not before, I aim to produce more rigorous MLEs for Moore.
   134. Chris Cobb Posted: March 31, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#1927853)
I should add that one reason Moore's MLEs might not be much affected by regression is that his career, though short, is well-documented statistically. The early seasons of the NNL were long and recorded pretty fully; with large sample sizes the height of the peak is less subject to regression to the mean.

I myself would like to see Moore's MLEs with walk and playing-time data more systematically incorporated. Those are potentially larger factors (for better or worse) than regression, I think.
   135. Brent Posted: March 31, 2006 at 09:50 PM (#1928093)
Do we have evidence that my estimation of Bell's glovework is overrated?

What information do we have?
- Many contemporary accounts described him as arguably the fastest man ever to play baseball. These accounts generally seem to have included defense, as well as baserunning, in their concept of speed.
- Defensive statistics for one season (1928) from Gary A. According to these statistics Bell accounted for 48.4% of the team's OF putouts, compared to a league-wide average of 42.7%; Bell's rate was "easily the highest figure in the league." He also led the league in assists with 16 (in 83 games), but was slightly below average in fielding percentage (.962 vs. league .963).
- Riley includes the following comment on his arm: "...his pitching career was short-lived, being ended by an arm injury that left him without the strong throwing arm he had had previously. After moving to the outfield in 1924, he used a quick release to compensate for the loss of arm strength."
- Holway lists Bell as a left fielder for 1930, 1935, and 1943-46 (ages 27, 32, and 40-43). For the other seasons he's listed as a center fielder. (I'll note that Holway's lists of positions haven't always proved accurate.)

If Riley's assessment of his arm is correct, then Bell probably doesn't belong in the discussion of the greatest defensive center fielder ever; that would have to have been a player like Speaker or Mays who had both great speed and a great arm. Willie Wilson might be a better comparison. But that would still be a tremendous defensive center fielder.
   136. sunnyday2 Posted: March 31, 2006 at 10:41 PM (#1928182)
Lou Brock was fast and he was a horsebleep OFer.
   137. Brent Posted: March 31, 2006 at 11:05 PM (#1928228)
I don't think Brock will be eligible until 1985.
   138. Chris Fluit Posted: April 01, 2006 at 12:38 AM (#1928368)
Okay. I have to admit that I’m a little taken aback at coming under fire for adjustments and credits because I tend to think of myself as someone who does very little adjusting or crediting. I am much more interested in what a player actually accomplished, especially compared to his contemporaries and peers. I see comments and ballots from others that do quite a lot of adjusting and crediting to a player’s actual statistics. So when I made my opening comment about my methodology, I meant to highlight how little adjusting and crediting I actually do compared to others. I’m not that interested in discounts due to league quality. And I find it amusing that one of the most underrepresented eras- the 1890s- is one that several voters discount because it was a 12-team league. I don’t penalize a pitcher for having a good defense behind him, or a batter for not having to face his own team’s excellent rotation. Though those may have been factors in a particular player’s success, I don’t believe in punishing a player for being on a good team.

There are voters who disagree with me on those counts, but that is an issue of methodology and not constitutionality. As I read it, the constitution requires voters to consider only on-field contributions. So Tinker and Evers and Chance aren’t automatically enshrined because someone wrote a really memorable poem about them, Jim Bunning isn’t immediately elected because he went on to have a successful political career and Chuck Connors gets no extra consideration for becoming a TV star. After all, this isn’t a Hall of “Fame” but one of “Merit” (a distinction which I approve of and appreciate, by the way). The constitution also requires voters to consider those who played outside of the established major leagues, either in the Negro Leagues or in the multiple leagues of the 1800s. What I do falls within the parameter of those guidelines. I consider all of the leagues and I give no credit or adjustment for accomplishments outside of a playing career.

Chris Cobb: Not penalizing players for short careers if that shortness is due to non-baseball difficulties seems like a good way of describing your approach.

Thank you. I certainly wish I had described it that way in my first post.

Chris Cobb: I'm curious, actually, as to how you implement this element in your system, which is really a question about how you weigh career value.

I didn’t want to bore anyone with a long dissertation but I guess at this point, it’s becoming relevant. As I mentioned in my initial post, I look at peak, prime and career. I give a third weight to each of those categories. Obviously, somebody who does well in all three categories is going to do well in whatever system or method you choose. One of the things that I like about my method in particular is that it is neither peak-heavy nor career-heavy. Instead, peak-heavy candidates like Ralph Kiner can be pretty much even with career-heavy candidates like Jake Beckley. However, my method does tend to penalize players who have short careers or low career value. Generally, I’m okay with that. Yet I do think that it is unfair to enforce the same kind of penalty on players whose careers were cut short due to circumstances outside of their control, as is the case with those who fall ill, are injured or die. And by injuries, I mean non-baseball related injuries like those Roy Campanella sustained in a car crash or Dobie Moore in a domestic shooting. I would enforce the low career penalty on players who had to quit because of shoulder, back or knee problems like Sandy Koufax, Albert Belle or Bo Jackson. That kind of wear and tear on the body is a part of the game.

It’s not that I’m giving credit for games or seasons that were never played. Rather, I’m choosing to not enforce a demerit that exists in my method. As per my rephrasing: I’m not penalizing players for short careers if that shortness is due to non-baseball difficulties. What I would do instead is to eliminate career considerations for that particular player and look only at peak and prime value. Peak and prime would then carry one-half weight instead of one-third.

I’ll use current candidates to illustrate what I mean. In my method, Addie Joss’ low career value would have been a penalty against him that would have dropped him lower in my consideration set than another player with a similar peak and prime. However, his low career value was the by-product of a situation outside of his control, namely his death. I would not want to punish Joss for dying. Rather, I propose to make an exception to my method and look solely at his peak and prime value. That does move Joss up in my rankings by several positions. However, he still ranks below peak-heavy candidates like Rube Waddell and Dizzy Dean and well off my actual ballot. I’m not going to postulate a longer peak or prime for Joss than what exists and I’m certainly not going to pretend that he would have had the incredible career length of a Jim Kaat or a Tommy John. Plenty of pitchers throughout history have had two great years, a couple of really good years and not much more. I can only judge Joss by what he accomplished on the field. But I can choose to not penalize him for what is basically an off-the-field situation. As far as I see it, that kind of selective application of a methodology is well within the bounds of the constitution of the Hall of Merit.

Dobie Moore’s situation is a little tougher to deal with because not only was his career abruptly ended due to a non-fatal shooting it also began late because of military commitments. I had a tough time with Moore and I left him off of my initial ballot simply because I didn’t know what to do with him. However, through this particular discussion (which has been beneficial by the way) and a second reading of Moore’s discussion thread, I feel I have a better handle on him. Despite my earlier protestations about not making adjustments, I’ve discovered that my method tends to neglect players from the traditionally defensive positions such as 2B, SS and C (as I noted earlier when responding to jschmeagol). So I’m looking at a fairly drastic reconsideration for Moore on my next ballot- giving war credit, a positional bonus for playing SS and removing the short career penalty. All three reconsiderations would move Moore onto my ballot at about 10th, in the neighborhood of Minnie Minoso, Hugh Duffy and George Sisler. Considering that 14 voters had Dobie Moore higher than that during the last election, I think that I’m in pretty safe territory.

Chris Cobb, I hope that answers your questions about how I weigh career value and how I would not penalize players whose careers were cut short due to off-the-field situations.
   139. Chris Fluit Posted: April 01, 2006 at 12:38 AM (#1928369)
On to some other comments:

Daryn: As far as what Chris (new Chris) has proposed, I think the question he ought to/has to ask himself is whether he is giving Puckett more credit than a guy who had Puckett's exact same stats in the exact same era and just decided to quit. If the answer is yes, I was under the impression that that was unconstitutional.

I have asked myself that question, Daryn, and my answer is an unqualified “yes.”
And as I’ve noted, I don’t see anything within the constitution that prohibits me from doing so.

Let me try to defend myself using a specific situation and a hypothetical one. John McGraw walked away from a successful playing career while still in his prime because he could get more control and make more money as a manager and part-owner. For that reason, McGraw’s prime is shorter than what it might have been and his career value is especially low. That hurts McGraw in my method but it was his choice. If McGraw had died, or suffered a debilitating injury off the field of play, I would not penalize him for the shortness of his career. As with Addie Joss, I don’t think that it would be enough to get McGraw onto my ballot, but it would certainly move him up a few places. Other players have really good peaks for 2 or 3 years and then fall off of the table due to a lack of skill, or more precisely the ability to maintain that skill. Those players are penalized in my method for short careers or low career value. I don’t think it’s just to penalize a player for not having a long career or high career value when he was prevented from being able to do so neither by his own choice nor a lack of skill. I simply don't think quitting and dying deserve the same demerit. You may disagree with me on that point, but as I understand the constitution, there is room for more than one approach and my approach is both valid and constitutional.

Joe Dimino: Welcome aboard Chris!

Thank you for the kind welcome, Joe. I have to admit that it's intimidating to go up against you in an argument. After all, you are the founder of this project, the framer of the constitution and the arbiter of what is right and just. However, I do disagree with you philosophically on this issue.

Relevant passage from the constitution: "Voters are strongly encouraged to consider only a player’s on-field accomplishments and other factors which had an impact on the outcomes of the player’s baseball games."

Joe Dimino: I would think a good player's death couldn't have a positive impact on the outcome of a team's games.

That is true. A dead player can’t have a positive impact on a game. But that’s precisely my point. The player in question was prevented from having a positive impact due to his non-baseball related illness, injury or death. Conversely, the non-baseball related illness, injury or death had a negative impact on the player’s ability to influence games and to build up career value. Rather than creating and crediting a non-existent positive value which I fear other voters assume I am or will be doing, I’m choosing to not enforce an existing negative value.

Joe Dimino: It was definitely the intent that players not be given credit for injuries. Death is an extreme injury, but it's still an injury.

I agree with you completely when it comes to baseball related injuries. I’m not going to give Jeff Bagwell any extra consideration because he developed tendonitis that prevented him from throwing a baseball. But I do see a difference between baseball related injuries and non-baseball related injuries. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an “other factor which had an impact” on whether or not the player could contribute to the outcome of games. I’m still only giving credit for “on-field accomplishments.” I’m just not giving penalties for off-field circumstances that were beyond a player’s control.

sunnyday2: I only give "credit" for seasons in which players are NOT playing ball if there is an issue that affects an entire cohort--i.e. war/military service. Injuries and illness and death are "the breaks."

Joe Dimino: I think that's much different than military service, which is a condition of the times (not to mention a mandatory duty at times). Here's the way I'd list them, from most deserving of credit to least, on the scale of how close I think they are:

Negro League / Military service
Strike
Blacklist/unjustified suspension
Minor Leagues due to poor talent pipeline
___________






death
injury
justified suspension


Once again, I disagree philosophically with these statements and approaches. I’m not insisting that you have to agree with me. But I would like you to admit that the constitution as written allows for these differences in opinion and interpretation.

Personally, I see a huge difference between time lost due to military service and time lost to lockouts and strikes. Military service was beyond a player’s control. The players weren’t able to influence world events in a way that would prevent a war and in many cases they were drafted or pressured into volunteering for service. All players, volunteers and draftees alike, deserve consideration due to their service for their country. Furthermore, military service did not affect all players equally. Some players missed a year and a half, others missed as many as three full seasons, while others didn’t miss any playing time at all. I give war credit precisely because it affected different players at different times for different amounts of time and because some but not all players were prevented from playing due to circumstances beyond their control.

To me, strikes and lockouts are an entirely different matter. For one, strikes and lockouts are reasonably within a player’s sphere of influence. They didn’t have to vote to strike. They didn’t have to turn down contracts which led to lockdowns. They didn’t have to miss playing time. I’m not making a judgment about whether or not they should have done so, only that doing so was within in their ability to control. Furthermore, strikes and lockouts affect all players equally. They all stop playing on the same day and they all start again on the same day. Since my method measures players against their contemporaries, a strike or lockout does not prevent a player from standing out against his contemporaries in the same way as military service. For example, Greg Maddux gets just as much credit for his excellent strike-shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995 as he does for his excellent full seasons of 1992 and 1993. Since my method doesn’t inherently penalize players for time lost due to labor disputes, I don’t see a need to make allowances for it. Voters with methods that differ than mine may feel the need to make those adjustments. Although I disagree, I recognize the grounds for differences of opinion on this matter.

I think the same is true for where an individual voter draws that particular line of what gets credit and what doesn’t. For me, death, illness and non-baseball related injury place above that line while strikes, lockouts and all suspensions place below it. For Joe, the opposite is true with strikes, lockouts and unjustified suspensions placing above the line while death, illness and non-baseball related injury place below it. We differ philosophically on this matter, but it’s a matter of methodology and not of constitutionality.

Again, it feels kind of odd to lecture the guy who wrote the constitution on what is constitutional and what isn’t. So I apologize if I’ve offended anyone or stepped on any toes. However, I wanted to vigorously defend my position because I do see it as falling well within the parameters of the project.
   140. sunnyday2 Posted: April 01, 2006 at 01:38 AM (#1928432)
As for Dobie Moore, I don't see his military gig delaying his entry into baseball, because he played baseball in the military.
   141. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 01, 2006 at 02:27 AM (#1928514)
Okay. I have to admit that I’m a little taken aback at coming under fire for adjustments and credits because I tend to think of myself as someone who does very little adjusting or crediting.

Please don't take it personally, Chris. None of us are immune to being "grilled" by the electorate, including the Commish. :-)
   142. DanG Posted: April 01, 2006 at 07:59 AM (#1928945)
Personally, I don't have a problem with Chris Fluit's approach. Yeah, I think he's off-base philosphically on a few things, but I think it's OK constitutionally.

OTOH, karlmagnus (#125) has crossed the line:
Cicotte (because others deduct from his concrete stats) and Leever are eccentricities (their modest additional credit can equally be considered a "first major Knuckleballer bonus" in Cicotte's case and a "middle class educated man with exceptionally good character, whose middle-classness combined with baseball's economic shambles to stop him becoming a ballplayer at the normal time" bonus in Leever's.)

This giving credit as an innovator (Cicotte) and giving credit for good character that had no positive impact on his team (Leever) seem very much against what we're about here.
   143. Chris Fluit Posted: April 01, 2006 at 08:36 AM (#1928969)
Thank you, DanG.
   144. Daryn Posted: April 01, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#1929108)
If Chris' approach isn't unconstitutional it is at least inconsistent. He is a 33/33/33 voter for some candidates and a 50/50/0 voter for others. I don't see how that can be justified, but as Dan says, it may just be characterizable as a philosophical difference.

Real Puckett gets in, walkaway Puckett stays out -- hard to understand for me, but YMMV.

Then again some people find it hard to understand how I have had the sixth best pitcher of his short generation at the top of my ballot for 70 years.
   145. rawagman Posted: April 01, 2006 at 04:35 PM (#1929151)
merit: n. 1 excellence 2 a good point or quality. v. (merits, meriting, merited) deserve
- ORIGIN Latin meritum 'due reward'.

So says Oxford's English Dictionary. I think some of us look for excellence, some for good qualities, and some for due rewards (peak, prime, career)
   146. Chris Cobb Posted: April 01, 2006 at 07:40 PM (#1929268)
Chris Fluit,

Thank you for explaining your system. I agree with DanG as to consitutionality. It's interesting to me to see that you can use a proportional system this way. I combine career, prime, and peak rate cumulatively, so I couldn't do it.

To some extent, I share Daryn's concerns about consistency, though as you have what you find to be fair and consistent criteria for deciding whether a player should be looked at as a 33/33/33 player or a 50/50/0 player, I think your system is a valid one. It resembles in some respect sunnyday2's system (if I understand it correctly), which focuses on peak & prime, but will consider career as a tie-break. The point of resemblance is that not all of a system's evaluative criteria are applied every time to every player in his evaluation, and that is a defensible approach.

It looks to me like the crucial question of fairness arises in the particular sort of cases Daryn is asking about. To put it another way: if there are actual players with strong peaks and primes but weak careers who would rank above a player to whom accicental death or dismemberment insurance applies, if those players had been insured as well so that their career did not count against them, should such players get the benefit of a 50/50 view as well? If they don't, your system would suggest, in some sense, that they would have had more merit if they had died rather than declining.

The cases where this situation might arise will be very rare, of course, since the players for whom you waive career considerations are themselves rare. The last stages of ballot construction always come down to difficult judgment choices between particular players, I guess.
   147. sunnyday2 Posted: April 01, 2006 at 08:10 PM (#1929291)
The thing to recognize about a peak/prime/career system is this. It may look like 33/33/33 but it's not.

IOW the peak seasons are counted three times and the prime shoulder seasons twice.

That is what I like about it. But if I said my system was 33/33/33 that would be a lie for this reason. Exactly how it plays out depends on how many peak, prime and career seasons there are (i.e. if a longer peak in a shorter career, a la Koufax) then it can be almost 100 percent peak.
   148. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 01, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#1929330)
That is what I like about it. But if I said my system was 33/33/33 that would be a lie for this reason. Exactly how it plays out depends on how many peak, prime and career seasons there are (i.e. if a longer peak in a shorter career, a la Koufax) then it can be almost 100 percent peak.

Which is fine, Marc, since your system is still consistent. That, to me, is what I notice when I look at someone's ballot here. In fact, when a player appears to contradict a voter's established criteria for ballot placement is when I'll usually "challenge" a ballot, not when I disagree with a particular player's placement.
   149. Chris Fluit Posted: April 01, 2006 at 10:21 PM (#1929429)
Daryn: Real Puckett gets in, walkaway Puckett stays out -- hard to understand for me, but YMMV.

Daryn, you're putting words into my mouth as I never once made that claim. One of the differences between the Hall of Merit and the Hall of Fame is that the Hall of Merit doesn't rely on a strict yes/no system of voting. Instead, our votes rank players according to their perceived merit, and the players who get the most points from those votes are elected. Real Puckett ranks higher than walkaway Puckett on my ballot but I don't necessarily draw an in/out line between them. Real Clemente and walkaway Clemente are above my in/out line either way. Real Joss and walkaway Joss are below my in/out line either way. I don't know for sure where Munson or Puckett will rank but I know I will be taking this other factor into consideration. It still might not be enough to get them to the top of my ballot, but I won't know for sure until I take a good look at their numbers at the time of their eligibility.

Again, I don't ask you to mirror my approach or even agree with me. And I do thank you for at least acknowledging that it's a philosophical difference and not a constitutional crisis. As to the charge of inconsistency, I've always claimed that it's an "exception" designed to consider "exceptional" circumstances. As Chris Cobb notes in my defense, what should matter is that I'm at least consistent in how I apply this exception. If I were to give this exception to Puckett because I saw him play and not to Munson, then I'd agree with you that my approach was illegitimate.

Chris Cobb: It looks to me like the crucial question of fairness arises in the particular sort of cases Daryn is asking about. To put it another way: if there are actual players with strong peaks and primes but weak careers who would rank above a player to whom accicental death or dismemberment insurance applies, if those players had been insured as well so that their career did not count against them, should such players get the benefit of a 50/50 view as well? If they don't, your system would suggest, in some sense, that they would have had more merit if they had died rather than declining.

The cases where this situation might arise will be very rare, of course, since the players for whom you waive career considerations are themselves rare. The last stages of ballot construction always come down to difficult judgment choices between particular players, I guess.


I agree that the cases are rare. And I'd go even further than that and say that the cases where this exception will matter are even more rare. Gehrig and Campanella are already enshrined (not that either of them needed the exception anyway). Roberto Clemente is a no-brainer candidate without the exception. Darryl Kile is so far from being a meritorious candidate that the exception doesn't really come into play. We're really only talking about a handful of players- players whom peak/prime voters would already be embracing. And if peak/prime voters wouldn't be embracing them, then the exception simply would not be enough to overcome any deficiencies that the player may have in peak or prime.

As to the question of fairness that you raised, I think I can best answer that with the real situation of Dobie Moore rather than anything hypothetical. After I give him military credit, Dobie Moore ranks at about the same place that I would rank Ralph Kiner- solid peak, solid prime but no career value in addition to that. After giving Moore the exception, he moves up to about where I rank George Sisler- who has a similar peak, similar prime plus a little more career value than Kiner. The exception results in Moore moving up about 5 places on my ballot. So yes, one could argue that Ralph Kiner would have fared better on my ballot if he had died. However, I don't think I'm being unfair to Kiner at all. After all, I'm judging Kiner by what he actually accomplished. I'm taking into account everything he did, or wasn't able to do. Ralph Kiner is being judged fairly in my system. We have the evidence of a sudden decline for Ralph Kiner, and it would be inappropriate to ignore existing evidence. Plus, it's not like Kiner suddenly becomes unworthy of a ballot because I granted an exception to Moore (unless he happens to drop from 15th to 16th) so it's not like Moore's exception hurts Kiner.

What I think is unfair is to surmise that Dobie Moore would have had a similarly sudden decline in his career were it not for off-the-field circumstances. I don't think it would be fair to assume that Moore- or Joss or whomever- would go on to have the extraordinary career value of a Jim Kaat or Tommy John. But I also don't think it's fair to assume that Moore would have an equally unlikely sudden decline, as with a Mark Fidrych or a Mike Scott. Since both the extraordinarily lengthy career and the extremely sudden decline are unlikely assumptions, I choose to make an exception rather than an assumption. Moore gets judged solely by his peak and his prime, not by his career. I know there are plenty of voters who disagree, but I think it's unjust to enforce the same penalty for dying (or in this case, getting shot) as it is for an extreme drop-off in ability.

The suggestion has been made that I simply look at every player 50/50 instead of 33/33/33. And sunnyday2 has commented that he's glad he's a peak/prime voter because he doesn't have to worry about issues like this. I think that's a legitimate suggestion. I could potentially abandon my method and adopt a new one which accounts solely for peak and prime. The problem with that is that I don't want to be a solely peak/prime voter. I think that having a long career and building up career value over an extended period of time is worth some merit. I wouldn't want a method that completely ignores the contributions of a Jake Beckley or a Mickey Welch. To me, that's unfair. So as I stated earlier, I like my method. I like that a peak-heavy hitter like Ralph Kiner can run neck and neck with a career-heavy batter like Jake Beckley. I like that a career-heavy pitcher like Mickey Welch can rank side by side with a peak-heavy hurler like Rube Waddell. So I don't want to abandon my method, nor should I have to. But every method has some blind spots built into it. I've tried to address an acknowledged blind spot by granting certain, specific and rare exceptions. And that's it.
   150. sunnyday2 Posted: April 01, 2006 at 10:31 PM (#1929442)
Chris F., just say that you're a peak/prime voter and all the rest no longer matters!
   151. Chris Fluit Posted: April 02, 2006 at 12:34 AM (#1929597)
After consulting my lawyer, I've decided to take sunnyday2's advice.
   152. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 02, 2006 at 12:59 AM (#1929641)
Didn't Moore career end because of an incident where he got caught at a whorehouse by his wife, who then tried to shoot him, forcing him to jump out of a windown and shatter a knee/ankle/leg? I heard this story before and I had assumed it was the reason for the end of his career, if so I couldnt' imagine extra credit for that.
   153. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 02, 2006 at 01:30 AM (#1929676)
Didn't Moore career end because of an incident where he got caught at a whorehouse by his wife, who then tried to shoot him, forcing him to jump out of a windown and shatter a knee/ankle/leg?

Another version of the story was that he was mistaken for a prowler in an alley.
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