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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, March 05, 2007

1996 Ballot Discussion

1996 (March 26)—elect 3
WS W3 Rookie Name-Pos (Died)

311 108.1 1975 Keith Hernandez-1B
265 91.3 1976 Chet Lemon-CF
280 83.7 1975 Fred Lynn-CF
240 95.0 1972 Rick Reuschel-P*
211 92.2 1973 Frank White-2B
226 66.2 1971 Bill Buckner-1B
210 69.0 1973 Bob Boone-C
194 52.0 1974 Claudell Washington-RF
157 53.8 1979 Dan Quisenberry-RP (1998)
153 52.5 1982 Johnny Ray-2B
135 50.3 1980 John Tudor-P
124 45.6 1977 Bob Knepper-P
133 41.4 1975 Dave Collins-LF/RF
124 40.0 1984 Phil Bradley-LF
114 42.7 1981 Gary Ward-LF
111 42.1 1977 Greg Minton-RP
112 40.6 1980 Ron Oester-2B
127 35.3 1979 Jeff Leonard-LF
105 41.3 1979 Mike Scott-P*

Players Passing Away in 1995
HoMers
Age Elected

63 1974 Mickey Mantle-CF

Candidates
Age Eligible

89 1951 Rick Ferrell-C
87 1949 Dick Bartell-SS
87 1951 Tony Cuccinello-2B
85 1948 Bruce Campbell-RF
85 1955 Harry Gumbert-P
82 1954 Terry Moore-CF
80——Al Barlick-HOF Umpire
78 1960 Leon Day-P
77 1957 Jack Kramer-P
70 1970 Bill Bruton-CF
66 1968 Gus Bell-CF/RF
60 1976 Bob Allison-RF/LF
57 1981 Vada Pinson-CF
55 1977 Zoilo Versalles-SS

Thanks, Dan!

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 05, 2007 at 02:54 PM | 325 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. jimd Posted: March 23, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2316868)
ba-ba-bump
   302. DavidFoss Posted: March 23, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2316869)
page break bump
   303. Rob_Wood Posted: March 23, 2007 at 10:53 PM (#2316911)
It may be relevant to note that Joe has chimed in on this issue somewhat recently. One week in which there were a couple of "strange" ballots, Joe voted late and didn't see the discussion until after the voting was closed.

I believe that he said that had he known about one of the ballots under discussion, he would have invalidated it under Constitutional grounds (unreasonableness). And it wasn't anything like having Clay Bellinger on the ballot either.

Can anyone remember what I can only vaguely recall? It may have been the week when the poster named something like "Bernie Williams doubled" entered the fray.
   304. DavidFoss Posted: March 23, 2007 at 11:34 PM (#2316925)
It may have been the week when the poster named something like "Bernie Williams doubled" entered the fray.

That was a different issue. Bernie (now called 'zop I think) was a new voter who submitted a ballot late in the afternoon on Monday and made some comments about how he didn't included 19th century players in his consideration set. There was quite a bit of argument but it was decided to have Bernie/zop wait until the next election.

After some clarification issues, Bernie/zop ending up joining the electorate and is now a veteran voter and useful contributor to the yearly debate.
   305. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 24, 2007 at 12:03 AM (#2316938)
The only ballots ever rejected due to bizarre candidates and placement happened during the 1917 election. The "voters" (since they both shared the same IP, the ballots most likely came from the same person) had Cy Young somewhere in the middle of their ballots, while Wid Conroy was at the top. That was just too nuts and would have denied Young his unanimous selection, so Joe vetoed both ballots.

Right after that happened, we had a rash of obscenity-laden e-mails, most likely from that bozo from another IP. Both IPs are off limits since then.
   306. Cblau Posted: March 24, 2007 at 02:22 AM (#2316992)
Rob Wood wrote in the Constituion thread:
One other set of issues that we didn't put into the Constitution is that voters must ...submit the explanations for their votes here at the Primer website.

The idea isn't that voters post comments about each player on their ballot. They are supposed to explain why they have that player in that slot. Comments such as 'he had over 2700 hits and drove in 100 runs a couple of times' doesn't do that. That's just trivia.

If I were voting, my comments would run something like this:
1. Helped his teams win 75 games above what a replacement value player would have.
2. Helped his teams win 74 games above what a replacement value player would have.
Etc. Because I'd be voting on the basis of how much the player helped his teams to win. That's what matters. If someone is voting for players on another basis, they need to explain that basis, and why each player deserves his ballot spot using the stated criteria. This really isn't being done.
   307. Chris Cobb Posted: March 24, 2007 at 03:44 AM (#2317022)
Finally, I think that ballot disallowance actually undermines integrity of the project. Each one of us trusts the others to carefully consider each ballot, to be fair to all eras, and to come up with their own independent ideas. I think that the threat of ballot disallowance could curtail free-thinkers from participating in the group. One should never refrain from voting for a player because that player is unpopular with the majority (or all) of the group. By banning the disallowance of long-time voter ballots, I am upholding that integrity.

You and I place our trust in the electorate in differently. I certainly don't trust that every voter will always carefully consider each ballot or apply criteria consistently and reasonably, but I am convinced by long experience that the electorate, as a whole, is deeply committed to civil and reasoned discussion and analysis. I believe that individual voters may well, from time to time, cast frivolous and unconsidered votes. Your approach to trust, by disallowing the electorate in the aggregate from making a determination about whether a vote is sufficiently well-reasoned and considered to be counted, enables, to a small degree, unconsidered or frivolous voting, in order to protect voters from any enforced standard, which you expect would have a chilling effect on voters' freedom of choice. I, on the other hand, trust that the electorate, in the aggregate, would never apply "popularity" as a standard but would instead examine the basis for a vote about which there were questions to see if it were extremely unreasonable. I don't think the enforcement of a standard of that sort would in any way suppress free thinking, as long as that free thinking was carried out with consistency and reason, and I would trust the electorate to be highly cautious in taking the step of disallowing a ballot, but having a process for disallowing ballots on grounds of reasonableness would diminish occurences of frivolous voting and would therefore help protect the integrity of our results.

Since the number of frivolous or foolish votes is always very very small relative to the total number of votes cast every year, because only people who really care about the project are likely to devote the time necessary to participate, those votes don't much affect the integrity of the project, so you may well be right to judge that we are better off without an enforcement mechanism. Certainly the project would suffer if people were tossing around ballot challenges on anything like a regular basis. But I think our discussion might be livelier and do a better job at reaching a consensus based on reasoned analysis if we were considering, as we assembled our ballots, that we needed to be able to explain the reasons for our rankings at least sufficiently to persuade a ballot committee that our choices had some real justification.
   308. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 24, 2007 at 04:19 AM (#2317029)
Comments such as 'he had over 2700 hits and drove in 100 runs a couple of times' doesn't do that.

True if it is the full extent of a voter's comment. Then again, this describes (or nearly describes) HOMers like Jim O'Rourke and Brooks Robinson. Stated in isolation, of course they are not compelling reasons. But if someone is claiming this for a SS, a C, or someone from the 1900s or 1960s (or someone before 1892 and the long sked), those are potentially compelling, if basic, lenses through which a player's performance and perhaps value can be seen. Clearly more explanation is required, but hits and rbis are not verboten and can easily be part of any voters' grab bag of reasoning if they are given some context too.
   309. Cblau Posted: March 24, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2317106)
Please excuse me, I feel like ranting.

I agree hits and RBI are not verboten. To give a (hopefully) ridiculous example, if a voter's basis for ordering his ballot was "career hits plus RBI in 100 RBI seasons", then we would all understand why he has a certain player where he does. Without that, we are in the dark. How do we know someone isn't just pulling names out of a hat, then putting in random comments? Sorry to pick on Rico, but when we ask why a certain player is on a ballot, and the voter's response is 'I don't know,' then I think there is a problem. Rico has Garvey 14th, which seems as bad as having Buckner 15th. I posted, IIRC, in Garvey's thread why I think Norm Cash was much better than Garvey. Rico doesn't agree, since he doesn't even have Cash in his top 40. But why does he disagree? No one knows, except Rico, and we can't be sure that he knows, either.

I shouldn't have said no one is properly explaining their reasoning. A few people do, such as Dan R. You might disagree with his choices, but you know why his ballot is the way it is, and can discuss it intelligently. I'm always wondering why many voters change the ordering of the backlog from ballot to ballot. No one on the ballot has played for at least 15 years, so we know their relative merit isn't changing. I think it is because the voters don't have a solid handle on what constitutes merit. So, one week they'll go, I feel like I'm underrating fielding, so I'll move Phil Rizzuto up. Then, next time, they feel something different. It seems to me that these people haven't thought enough about their ballots, or they wouldn't keep changing them.

Not to belittle the difficulty of making a ballot. I can't resolve the many issues involved to my satisfaction in order to compile one. And the results of the collective wisdom of the electorate are pretty good.

Sorry, thanks for bearing with me.
   310. rawagman Posted: March 24, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2317109)
Cblau - there is much wisom in knowing how little you know.
I would inherently distrust a system that claims to be complete.
Simply put - there is no one way to win in baseball. Rather, a team must score more runs than the opposing team to win a specific game. Then that team must do that with more frequency than their direct competition in order to advance to the post-season. Once there, they must find a way to win either 3 of 5 or 4 of 7 to win a pennant and finally, a World Series.
Each World Series is one by a different team with a different makeup and balance. Each victor overcame different hurdles to make it to the pinnacle.
With that in mind, how can anyone claim to "know" what provides the most merit? What aspect of the game is most important?
What is the signal and what is the noise? Is it possible that the signal needs the noise in order to sustain meaning? Maybe the signal is the noise?
   311. Howie Menckel Posted: March 24, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2317117)
"I'm always wondering why many voters change the ordering of the backlog from ballot to ballot. No one on the ballot has played for at least 15 years, so we know their relative merit isn't changing. I think it is because the voters don't have a solid handle on what constitutes merit. So, one week they'll go, I feel like I'm underrating fielding, so I'll move Phil Rizzuto up. Then, next time, they feel something different. It seems to me that these people haven't thought enough about their ballots, or they wouldn't keep changing them."

Funny, I think it would make more sense to say that people who have the same pecking order for 35 straight "years" are the one who haven't thought enough about their ballots, or they wouldn't keep picking the same order.
   312. Chris Cobb Posted: March 24, 2007 at 04:18 PM (#2317131)
when we ask why a certain player is on a ballot, and the voter's response is 'I don't know,' then I think there is a problem.

I agree.

Funny, I think it would make more sense to say that people who have the same pecking order for 35 straight "years" are the one who haven't thought enough about their ballots, or they wouldn't keep picking the same order.

I agree.

The two standards of reasonableness that matter to me are that (1) a voter has good reasons for the placement of each player relative to all the other serious candidates eligible and (2) the voter is regularly re-examining those reasons in light of new arguments, new data, new ways of measuring value, new ways of assessing merit.

Overall, I think the electorate has become much more skilled at measuring value and assessing merit over the course of this project. I know I have learned a tremendous amount, not just about baseball, but also about statistical analysis, voting methodologies, debate tactics, social history, and the problem of having to make judgments. Our judgments will never be perfect, because we will never have perfect information, and because merit is multi-faceted, but that doesn't mean we should ever give up on improving our judgment and our knowledge.
   313. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 24, 2007 at 04:33 PM (#2317135)
I'm always wondering why many voters change the ordering of the backlog from ballot to ballot.

I think the process is analogous to any tobaganing-into-knowledge situation where at the beginning you think you have a good system for figuring out this great question. Let's say in 1960 or so, you start voting and you have Gil Hodges on your ballot. Then along comes Mickey Vernon who you never did think was worthwhile. But your system tells you he's better than Hodges. Well that blows your placement of Hodges, so you have to reconsider. So now you've got Vernon and Hodges at 10 and 15. Meanwhile you've also got to vote on George Sisler. Then along comes Norm Cash. Then there's a discussion of whether Bill Terry is the worst HOMer. Then along comes Garvey. And then Perez. And then Hernandez. It's a never-ending challenge to your ranking system, particularly when arguments against many rankings involve a if-him-why-not-him question. No matter how good your initial system is, some candidate or some voter will come along with a challenge to your POV that breaks or bends or WARPs your system and reduces the confidence you can have in it.

Then you've got people (like me) who change their system every 20-30 years when they realize the inadequacy of the prior one. And let me tell you, that's a great way to totally change a backlog ballot. Which is another point: it's the backlog where change happens, not the frontlog. Everyone (even yest?) would put MJ Schmidt first. But not nearly everyone had QT second or third. The backlog necessarily requires granular distinctions among player and with such small differences among them, a decision to give a half-year credit or to reward post-season performance can have very large consequences for ballot position.

I think it's kind of like your favorite foods. As a 10 year old it might be pizza. Then you try nachos. Then you try lasagna. Your faves list is getting longer and more differentiated. By the time you're 30, you wonder how Joe Pizza 10 Years Old morphed into Ettienne Escargots. Is it inappropriate to change ones mind about this? Of course not, it's just the way it goes.

All that said, cblau is very much correct that substantial ballot comments are better than skimpy ones, in particular for candidates that are off the consensus radar. I don't think that means War and Peace, more like The Crying of Lot 49. Enough that we get it, not enough that we're clobbered with it.
   314. TomH Posted: March 25, 2007 at 12:10 AM (#2317268)
When I argue with myself, I sound a lot like posts 306 thru 313.
.... in the legend of my own mind :)

Agree with all of what has just been said. In an attempt to blend some of th elogic from different fronts together, I would say that yes, we each change our ballots as we gain understanding. This is good. What is better is when we explain it more fully than "I was underrating fielding". Not everyone wants to make the time to spell things out as completely as DanR; nor could some of us (even being the numbers fanatic that I am) even attempt to coherently do so, if we were restricting ourselves to a numeric system ojnly (which I am not). But it helps when an explanation at least gives the electorate as a whole a good feel that someone didn't just pile a load of stuff in the Bull dump. Which is why it's good for someone to issue a gentle question/critique/challenge asking for clarification.

All in all, a much better system than most anything else out there.
   315. Cblau Posted: March 25, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2317305)
I agree that it would be odd if you don't learn anything over the course of 35 ballots. But as for what Dr. C said, I think you should have some logic that you can apply to all players. If he evaluate Mickey Vernon when he becomes eligible and find he is better than Hodges, then you put him higher on the ballot, and Hodges moves down. But that shouldn't change the relative position of Hodges and the other returning candidates. (Unless you are trying to balance defensive positions.)
   316. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 25, 2007 at 02:31 AM (#2317322)
Non-sequitor. Tonight I'm messing around with some MXL pitching stats (Max Lanier 119, 337 MxL ERA+s---whih includes very, very roughly hewn park factors; Maglie 120, 101 in same two seasons; Satchel Paige 88 in 19 innings). When you get to the early 1960s, some really interesting names pop up. Some 20-22 year olds you might recognize: Luis Tiant, Mike Cuellar. I figured that these guys were Cubans who went into pro ball via Mexico and were noticed there. Except that's not true. Cuellar pitched in MLB before and after his MxL stint. And there's another name, Al Jackson. It appears that Jackson and Cuellar were farmed to Mexico. None of these guys went straight to the majors from Mexico, they put a year in the stateside minors first. Makes sense since Mexico was classified below AAA. Yet I don't see much evidence that very many MLB players were getting their seasoning south of the border, these three stars not withstanding.

So here's a question I'm hoping a MiL expert can help me with. What sort of relationship did the MxL have with MLB during the 1960s? Did any teams use it with any frequency for seasoning purposes? Was it a place where Latino prospects were sent, but usually not English speakers?

Thanks!
   317. ronw Posted: March 25, 2007 at 03:13 AM (#2317340)
Chris:

Excellent summary in 307 of our relative differences with respect to our trust in the electorate.

In sum, I suppose that while I completely agree with harsh criticism, I would probably never throw out a long-standing voter's ballot, no matter how unreasonable a vote might be, as long as some minimum explanation was given.

Unlike Mr. Blau, I don't much care if the given reason is, "I really liked his hair." I believe that despite such a comment, the long-time voter actually has other reasons behind his ranking. Sometimes, to break up the monotony, we are occasionally guilty of a few attempts at humor in our ballot comments. (Exhibit A - see some of Chaleeko's past ballots. Exhibit B - I always like Sean Gilman's "He's good" and "Him Too." for no-brainers.)

I believe that rico carefully considered Buckner when placing him at #15. However, in closing, I am glad that rico redid his Buckner comment, because the second version was one of the best ballot comments of this entire project.
   318. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 25, 2007 at 03:28 AM (#2317343)
If he evaluate Mickey Vernon when he becomes eligible and find he is better than Hodges, then you put him higher on the ballot, and Hodges moves down. But that shouldn't change the relative position of Hodges and the other returning candidates. (Unless you are trying to balance defensive positions.)


...or you have changed your evaluation mathod numerous times as I have. :-)
   319. ronw Posted: March 25, 2007 at 03:29 AM (#2317344)
Heck, for Exhibit A, See Chaleeko's current ballot. His required ballot comment on Jake Beckley is, "Never heard of him." Beautiful, Eric.

I don't think even karl believes the comment, by the way.
   320. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 25, 2007 at 05:39 AM (#2317366)
"Never heard of him." Beautiful, Eric.

I think that's a compliment. I'll take it as one either way. ; )

With Beckley it's a pretty simple matter that we've been over 100 times, and even so, my position on him has softened a bit. But I feel safe here knowing that there's little if any reason for anyone to believe me or to believe that I haven't been over and over him in my mind or on the boards 1000 times.

The other required top-10s also have that sort of sarcastic tilt to them, but since I support each of them as likely HOMers (just not enough to be on my ballot), I don't really feel like there's much more for me to say. Keller, being unsupported by me for election, gets a little more commentary about why I don't think he's fit for election. I've always presumed that comments on guys I don't support in the top ten are better than comments for guys I do support (just not enough to roster on my ballot). Maybe that's not good thinking on my part.
   321. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 25, 2007 at 12:11 PM (#2317401)
Personally, I think if you can explain your system's intent and some background on it, the player commentary is not really necessary for the most part. For example, when I look at a career voter's ballot, I don't need to know why a peak candidate is no where near it because it's understood. Only when a candidate's absence from a ballot or addition to it makes me scratch my head is when it doesn't jibe with that voter's stated preferences or with the other candidates on his list. Buckner on Rico's ballot would fit that bill.
   322. ronw Posted: March 26, 2007 at 04:33 AM (#2317768)
Yes, that was a compliment. I'm against emoticons on sheer principle, but I suppose they help clarify whether I am kidding or not.
   323. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 26, 2007 at 11:46 AM (#2317818)
I'm against emoticons on sheer principle, but I suppose they help clarify whether I am kidding or not.


I used to be against them on principle myself, but they do tend to curtail wrong impressions and hurt feelings, so they are here to stay with me.
   324. DL from MN Posted: March 26, 2007 at 07:54 PM (#2318164)
> Luis Tiant: A lot of pitchers put up great numbers in the 60s and 70s. Tiant doesn’t
> match them. Hall of Very Good. 3 times a major league all-star is good.
> Top 5 starter (61-68) top 6 (69- ) in league: 1968, 1974, 1976.
> Rank in league/majors: 2nd/3rd, 2nd/2nd, 5th/5th (7th t in 1967, 7th t in 1972, 9th t
> in 1973)

You and I have much different definitions of what makes an All-Star. If you're one of the top 22-24 pitchers in the majors, I'd classify you as an all-star (50 players on a league All-Star roster). That gives enough spots for the top 3-4 players at each position to be considered all-stars also.
   325. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 26, 2007 at 10:10 PM (#2318341)
That was a different issue. Bernie (now called 'zop I think) was a new voter who submitted a ballot late in the afternoon on Monday and made some comments about how he didn't included 19th century players in his consideration set. There was quite a bit of argument but it was decided to have Bernie/zop wait until the next election.


Just to explain myself; I only did that after I did some basic demographic & statistical analysis that showed pretty conclusively that there must have been a huge increase in the size of the pool of "potential players" from ~1870-1895ish, due to the increasing nationalization of the professional game. It was only after I was informed of the "all pennants must be treated equally" principle that I reworked my voting to value early-19th C players equally.
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