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Friday, July 08, 2011

Most Meritorious Player 1963 discussion

After the dramatic changes of 1961 and 1962, with expansion in both leagues, in 1963 the Major Leagues went through a rather dull patch.

The baseball season opened on 8 April 1963. Earlier events of note in the year included the release of The Beatles’ first album Please Please Me, the premiere of the manga-based cartoon Astro Boy on Japanese television and Charles De Gaulle’s veto of the United Kingdom’s application to join the “Common Market” (now the European Union). During the season, great political oratory was displayed by Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, while Kennedy turned himself into a pastry in Berlin (“Ich bin ein Berliner”). Meanwhile the folk heroes of Britain’s Great Train Robbery carried out their nefarious deed.

Fans of lesser sports might note that the first NHL draft was held, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened.

The season itself did not provide much excitement in the races, as last season’s signs of parity completely disappeared. The Yankees took sole possession of first place on 18 June and never relinquished it, even maintaininng a double-digit lead in games over other AL teams from 21 August onwards. Their closest rivals were the White Sox. The National League was barely more comptetitive. The Dodgers moved ahead of the Cardinals on 2 July, and kept ahead of the Cards and the Giants to the end of the season. The season ended on 6 October, when the Dodgers completed a sweep of the Yankees. Seven weeks later, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in circumstances that eventually gave rise to many hypotheses.

Here is a list of top players, limited to what I can access from BB-ref, as I am at SABR. DanR data and Win Shares can be added in the comments by the public-spirited, or I’ll add them when I can get at my books again.

Willie Mays       10.2   7.1
Hank Aaron       10     8.0
Dick Ellsworth     9.8   5.2
Sandy Koufax     9.6   7.2
Eddie Mathews     8.3   4.9
Juan Marichal     8.2   4.0
Bob Allison       7.5     5.3
Johnny Callison   6.7     3.9
Gary Peters       6.7     3.6
Willie McCovey   6.5     6.2
Vada Pinson     6.5     4.1
Dick Groat       6.4     3.1
Camilo Pascual   6.3     2.6
Carl Yastrzemski 6.2     4.3
Ron Santo       5.7     1.8
Bob Friend       5.6   2.8
Al Kaline         5.6   4.8
Orlando Cepeda   5.4   4.8
Jimmie Hall       5.4   2.7
Elston Howard     5.4   3.0
Bill White         5.3   5.0
Jim Maloney       5.2   2.9
Larry Jackson     5.2   2.4
Don Drysdale     5.1   2.1
Curt Flood         5.0   1.4
Jim Gilliam       5.0   2.4
Harmon Killebrew 4.3   4.5
Frank Howard     4.2   4.5

fra paolo Posted: July 08, 2011 at 08:34 PM | 149 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Alex King Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:20 AM (#3890104)
Here's AFR for all players in my consideration set, which should be pretty comprehensive. I'll post numbers for anyone else that gets requested. Just as a reminder, AFR no longer includes TZ (see discusion on the 1961 thread), so it only considers DRA and SFR.

Player AFR
Mays 3
Aaron -4
Matthews 16
Allison 15
Callison 34
McCovey -7
Groat 26
Yastrzemski 2
Santo 6
Kaline -11
Pinson -8
Cepeda -8
Hall 1
Howard 1
Williams 23
Pearson 1
Tresh 0
Battey 4
Gilliam -3
   102. Alex King Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:29 AM (#3890106)
Nate, using Fangraphs' WAR in your rankings can be unfair to pitchers. Since fWAR doesn't include pitchers, the rankings of all position players are inflated, as they slide down to fill the positions that pitchers don't take. Considering only the top 3, Aaron and Koufax are tied if we only consider those systems that rate all pitchers and position players. Since we don't know where FanGraphs would rate Koufax if it rated pitchers, it seems unfair to penalize Koufax for this discrepancy.

The only other top 10 player affected, rank-wise, is Gary Peters. Summing all systems except Fangraphs, Peters and Callison are tied at 40, followed by Marichal at 42 and Mathews at 43. fWAR bumps Mathews into a tie with Callison, and I don't see any reason why Peters shouldn't also be tied with both Callison and Mathews. Marichal appears to be a step behind these three.
   103. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 01, 2011 at 09:54 AM (#3890111)
Ah, well, that certainly would explain it. To be clear, Tango finds that replacement starters are .420 pitchers, but that they tend to be long relievers forced into starting duty, and thus have to be replaced themselves with replacement relievers. If I recall correctly that got the composite, chained winning percentage down to .388, which I've rounded up to .390.

Does anyone think that journeyman AAA starters would muster a .420 winning percentage? Tango found .380 for them.
   104. DL from MN Posted: August 01, 2011 at 01:55 PM (#3890178)
Dan R - Can you post the component PWAA numbers also? I like to see the component breakdown.
   105. lieiam Posted: August 01, 2011 at 04:32 PM (#3890313)
@nate:
Thanks for the bp WARP1 numbers for the three I wanted the most... (and for updating your list).
   106. Nate the Neptunian Posted: August 01, 2011 at 09:22 PM (#3890576)
Alex King:

Nate, using Fangraphs' WAR in your rankings can be unfair to pitchers. Since fWAR doesn't include pitchers, the rankings of all position players are inflated, as they slide down to fill the positions that pitchers don't take.


That's a fair point. I'll keep it in mind when I create my ballot.
   107. Alex King Posted: August 03, 2011 at 07:32 AM (#3891632)
Prelim (rankings taken straight from my revised version of bbref WAR, with a postseason bonus thrown in):

1. Koufax
2. Aaron
3. Ellsworth
4. Mays
5. Matthews
6. Callison
7. Groat
8. Marichal
9. Allison
10. Peters
   108. DL from MN Posted: August 03, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3891674)
This vote is going to be very close.
   109. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:19 PM (#3892731)
We can probably open a 1964 discussion thread this weekend.
   110. Rob_Wood Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:47 PM (#3892879)
My prelim:

1. Sandy Koufax - great World Series vaults him to the top (close otherwise); in Sandy's 40 starts, Dodgers were 0-1 when scoring 0 runs, 13-3 when scoring 1-3 runs, and 21-2 when scoring 4+ runs; 306 strikeouts, 20 complete games, 11 shutouts in breakout season

2. Willie Mays - virtual tie with Aaron, I give the nod to the better overall player (defense, baserunning, leadership)

3. Hank Aaron - could be one higher; league-leading 44 HR and 130 RBI (and 179 OPS+) with 31 stolen bases

4. Eddie Mathews - one of his best fielding seasons, led league with 124 walks and 399 OBA

5. Dick Ellsworth - great season with Cubs in Wrigley (Ellsworth vs Koufax was one of the longest running threads ever in the SABR forum)

6. Bob Allison - led AL with 151 OPS+ (and WAR) with stellar defensive stats in RF

7. Vada Pinson - led NL with 204 hits and 14 triples and good defense in CF

8. Willie McCovey - led NL with 44 HR (tied with Aaron)

9. Dick Groat - led NL with 43 doubles (with 201 hits) in his first season in St Louis

10. Juan Marichal - led NL with 321 innings (and tied Koufax with 25 wins)

11. Al Kaline - great WPA figure (6.7 wins) elevates him this high

12. Carl Yastrzemski - led AL with 321 batting avg, 418 on-base avg, 183 hits, 40 doubles, and 18 outfield assists

13. Elston Howard - solid offense from a weak position (only 135 games played hurts him here)

14. Ron Santo - overall very good season

15. Orlando Cepeda - why couldn't Giants win more pennants with these superstars on board?

16. Johnny Callison - solid offensive season with stellar defensive stats

17. Gary Peters - led AL with 2.33 ERA (good offensive season too)

18. Bill White - high WPA (6.4 wins) elevates him to this slot

19. Jim Gilliam - good offensive season at fairly weak second base position

20. Tommy Davis - led NL with 326 batting avg
   111. lieiam Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:57 AM (#3893207)
I was just wondering (and I'm pretty sure this was discussed somewhere)... What are the tie-breaking rules in the event of a tie? I'm really enjoying this election more than the previous two since this one's in doubt. [And also, looking ahead, 1964 looks to be a two man race].
   112. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 11:28 AM (#3893250)
I'll post them this weekend, DL from MN.
   113. DL from MN Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:29 PM (#3893289)
Most 1st place votes is the only tiebreaker. If they're still tied, then it is a tie.
   114. DL from MN Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:10 PM (#3893305)
Voted 1962 - no prelim:

Rick A
Al Peterson
fra paulo (noted that he is without internet access)
Esteban Rivera

reminder - get a prelim ballot (list of your consideration set, loosely ranked) in by Monday
   115. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3893319)
It was a great year for you if your name ended in allison.
   116. Howie Menckel Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3893345)
Can't we just mirror the HOM route, and allow longtime voters to skip a prelim if they like? I don't mind the idea as it can be helpful, but the mandatory part - not so much.

I rarely did prelims in HOM.
   117. DL from MN Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3893413)
I'm willing to amend the rules to state that if you voted in the most recent MMP election you don't need to submit a prelim ballot. I personally don't find it to be much of a burden.
   118. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 06, 2011 at 05:05 PM (#3894270)
Alex King, is there any chance you might be able to post team AFR? I'm wary of relying on TotalZone as my team defense input for pitching stats.
   119. Alex King Posted: August 06, 2011 at 07:45 PM (#3894364)
I don't currently have a team field in my AFR spreadsheet, but if I modify my script, I can probably include it––so if I have enough time between now and Wednesday, I'l be able to post it. Also, I don't have AFR for EVERY player in the majors, since SFR excludes players below a certain small threshhold of defensive innings. However, this probably won't make too big a difference.
   120. Howie Menckel Posted: August 06, 2011 at 08:15 PM (#3894372)
Thanks, DL. I think the important part about that change is that it doesn't eliminate regulars from voting 4-5 days before the voting period ends. That would cost us voters annually, I suspect, if it were to be strictly enforced.
   121. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 06, 2011 at 10:16 PM (#3894450)
That would be great, Alex Kimg. I'll post revised pitching numbers as soon as you do.
   122. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 06, 2011 at 10:48 PM (#3894463)
More broadly, I've triple-checked my methodology and I'm not making a mistake. My pitching WAR numbers for the modern era are right in line with the ones at Fangraphs (for guys whose FIPs are close to their ERAs). The only 10-WAR pitching seasons I show from 1976 onwards are Guidry '78, Gooden '85, Maddux '94 and '95 after strike adjustments, Clemens '97, and Pedro '00, which is exactly what you'd expect. But in the 300+ IP era it's a different story. In 1971 there were four different pitchers with 10 WAR: Seaver and Wood at 11.9 each (assuming terrible fielders for Wood), Jenkins at 11.3 (credited for hitting and bad fielders), and Blue at 10 on the dot. The next year, after strike adjustments, Carlton earns 14.4 WAR, and Gaylord Perry, even after dinging him for a strong Indians defense, comes in at 11.2. Now, I don't think anyone would have a problem with Tom Seaver earning the 1971 MMP award, and Carlton's 1972 season is legendary. Still, though, it seems to me like on a straightforward accounting of the numbers, hitters really shouldn't have much of a chance in most years until the second half of the 1970s.

What does everyone think? Should we just accept that it was a pitchers' era, in which the most Meritorious players were usually pitchers? Or do we need some sort of affirmative action for position players? If the latter, how should it be implemented?

I look forward to hearing people's thoughts.

Dan
   123. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 06, 2011 at 11:16 PM (#3894474)
I hadn't factored in defense, so the 10+ WAR post-1975 list is a bit longer: it also includes Carlton '80, Clemens '90, Greinke '09, Rijo '93 (11.1! if you believe the bad defense), and Saberhagen '89. But the point stands.
   124. Rick A. Posted: August 07, 2011 at 02:58 AM (#3894519)
1963 Prelim MMP Ballot
Used a combination of WAR, Win Shares above bench, OPS+, ERA+, IP and FIP with an adjustment based on league strength and league schedule length.

1. Hank Aaron - Very close between the first three players.
2. Willie Mays
3. Sandy Koufax - Best pitcher in NL
4. Dick Ellsworth - Very close to Koufax, but not quite.
5. Johnny Callison- Very impressive these last few years
6. Eddie Mathews
7. Vada Pinson - Offense and defense
8. Juan Marichal - Lots of IP at a very good rate
9. Dick Groat
10. Gary Peters - Best pitcher in AL
11. Orlando Cepeda
12.Willie McCovey
13. Elston Howard - Solid player
14. Bob Allison
15. Camilo Pascual

16-20 Dick Radatz, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Gilliam, Billy Williams, Bob Friend
21-25 Earl Battey, Tom Tresh, Albie Pearson, Ron Santo, Jim Bouton
   125. Alex King Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:03 AM (#3894567)
DanR:
Maybe it is a replacement-level issue? I'm just speculating, I haven't read Tango's posts on replacement level for a while, so I'll have to see what he says about .390 vs. .420. I think that your numbers should line up with Fangraphs', since you're using similar replacement levels.

Also, aren't the 70's a historical peak in terms of pitcher usage (relative to surrounding decades)? So I think we'd expect pitchers to be very valuable compared to hitters in this era. Also, the low run environments allowed pitchers to rack up a lot of innings with the same amount of wear and tear on their arms, which again would increase pitchers' value simply by giving them more opportunities.
   126. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:43 AM (#3894569)
Tango says that replacement pitchers post a .380 winning percentage when they start. However, what teams actually tend to do, instead of promoting a journeyman from the minors, is to turn their long reliever into a starter and make the journeyman their new long reliever. The long reliever is .500 as a reliever and will go about .410 as a starter, and his innings will eventually be filled by the journeyman who is .470 as a reliever. However, "chaining" effects--in reality, the old mopup man becomes the new long reliever, and the journeyman becomes the new mopup man--means the team can concentrate the .470 reliever in low-leverage innings where he will hurt them the least. By my count that means the journeyman has the same effect as a .478 reliever at 1.00 leverage. So .410 for the starter, plus a loss of (.500-.478) = .022 in the bullpen, makes .388, which I have rounded to .390.

The peak wasn't in the 70's as a decade--it was from the expansion of the strike zone in 1963 to the dawn of free agency, so centered on 1970. And yes, that's exactly right. Overall pitching value isn't greater in a lower run environment, but it is more concentrated in a smaller number of top starters. Again, the question is, is that Merit or just context? Clearly we'll need to make some adjustment in the 19th century or there will never be a position player MMP...
   127. lieiam Posted: August 07, 2011 at 03:59 PM (#3894655)
My two cents would be to simply consider it a pitchers era... at least off the top of my head. But, of course, to the question of "is that Merit or just context" I can't deny that there is a specific context that apparently helped make it easier for pitchers to dominate. [But off the top of my head I don't think I'd be opposed to a pitcher being the MMP every year in the 19th century (though I would need to think about THAT more) so I'm probably on the extreme here].
   128. fra paolo Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:26 AM (#3894948)
This game deserves special notice, I feel.
   129. fra paolo Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:54 AM (#3895059)
Digging deeper into Hank Aaron's numbers, it's hard to take or give extra credit for performance in high-leverage situations. The Braves were never really in the hunt for the pennant, after a bad run from 30 April through 12 May left the five-and-a-half out of first, a gap they never really showed signs of closing for the rest of the season.

During this phase, Aaron posted a 1.011 OPS in 59 PA, which is better than his season OPS of .977. At worst, there are a couple of games where Aaron's offensive outages may have hurt the Braves, but two or three games is not really enough to fault his performance.

On 9 September the Braves were seven games out, but went into a funk starting 10 September during which they were 3-12 by the time it ended on 27 September.

During this phase, Aaron's OPS was .877 in 60 PA. this was probably his worst game in that stretch but, again, the Braves are too far out for Aaron's missed chances to count for much against him.
   130. OCF Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:58 AM (#3895153)
This game deserves special notice, I feel.

Times have certainly changed. Can you possibly imagine a 16-inning game with no relief pitchers used? I suppose that Marichal had time to run through all of his possible combinations of which pitch from which arm angle.
   131. Alex King Posted: August 08, 2011 at 09:05 AM (#3895277)
The 19th century issue is different from the 1960s/1970s issue. In the 19th century, teams got the same number of total innings out of their starters, but chose to concentrate those innings in fewer seasons. In the 1960s and 1970s, the low run environments allowed teams to use their starters for more innings relative to the stress on pitchers' arms.

In any player value system, you should expect pitchers to be more valuable in pitchers' eras, and hitters to be more valuable in hitters' eras. In pitchers' eras, pitchers can throw more innings because they expend less effort per inning, and in hitters' eras, hitters can rack up more plate appearances by virtue of the entire team producing fewer outs per plate apperance.
   132. DL from MN Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:02 PM (#3895318)
I'll post the amendment (if you voted last year you don't need to put in a prelim for this year) in the next year's discussion thread for a vote. For this year the rules say you need a prelim ballot by today.
   133. Al Peterson Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3895335)
I'm always running late per usual. There is some wiggle room on this for me before the final version- sorting out the top 3 is difficult and not sure if Howard will crack the top 10.

1963 MMP Prelim Ballot - components to ranking include WAR, WARP, WS, OPS+/ERA+.

1. Sandy Koufax      
2. Willie Mays       
3. Hank Aaron        
4. Dick Ellsworth    
5. Eddie Mathews     
6. Juan Marichal
7. Gary Peters       
8. Johnny Callison   
9. Dick Groat        
10. Bob Allison       

11. Elston Howard
12. Carl Yastrzemski  
13. Camilo Pascual    
14. Vada Pinson       
15. Willie McCovey    
    
   134. DL from MN Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:32 PM (#3895378)
FWIW fra paulo gets credit for a prelim with his original thread post. This means Esteban Rivera is the only returning voter without a prelim. There are apparently no new voters for this election.
   135. fra paolo Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3895460)
This is a bit rough and ready, on account of my working through a new system that I believe does a better job of relating pitcher merit to batter merit:


1) Sandy Koufax
2) Hank Aaron
3) Dick Ellsworth
4) Juan Marichal
5) Willie Mays
6) Elston Howard
7) Eddie Mathews
8) Orlando Cepeda
9) Bob Allison
10) Al Kaline
11) Willie McCovey
12) Bill white

Outstanding questions at the moment are whether it really ought to be Ellsworth over Marichal, whether Mathews (and maybe Cepeda) might move ahead of Elston Howard, and the 8-10 ranking more generally. It's also a possibility that 2-3-4-5 will get rearranged a bit. Aaron's absolute value is about a win higher; but Mays' value is harder to replace, harder than finding a replacement for Elston Howard. However, Aaron, Ellsworth and Marichal are extremely close, so moving Mays up has ramifications that are more difficult to justify.

I find Koufax is just so much ahead of everyone else, it's like 1961 all over again.
   136. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3895490)
I can't submit a prelim until I get Alex King's team AFR numbers...
   137. DL from MN Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:17 PM (#3895501)
Dan R - yes you can. A prelim can change. You can rank a prelim alphabetically.
   138. Alex King Posted: August 08, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#3895608)
Dan, unfortunately I'm really not sure if I'll be able to have team AFR numbers out by Wednesday. I'll try to see if I can, but I can't guarantee that it will happen.
   139. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 09, 2011 at 06:40 PM (#3896378)
Aw, nuts! I've been swamped with work this past month and just noticed I missed the prelim ballot deadline (and I already had my ballot prepped). Oh well.
   140. OCF Posted: August 09, 2011 at 07:01 PM (#3896390)
Esteban: post it anyway, and let the ballot counters worry about what to do about it.
   141. DL from MN Posted: August 09, 2011 at 07:53 PM (#3896433)
I'll count it. I'm 1/3 of the votes.
   142. Alex King Posted: August 09, 2011 at 09:07 PM (#3896491)
DanR, at this point it appears that I'm not going to have team AFR ready by Wednesday. I'll try to get them out for 1964, but for 1963 it's sadly not possible. In theory, there shouldn't be a HUGE difference between team AFR and TZ (maybe later I'll look at the Dodgers' defense to see if it makes a difference regarding Koufax), and I think that TZ probably gives a reasonable approximation. So I would advise you to not let this prevent you from submitting a ballot.
   143. Alex King Posted: August 10, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#3896884)
I looked at the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Twins team AFRs (corresponding to Koufax, Marichal, Ellsworth, Peters, and Pascual, DanR's top five pitchers), calculating them manually using the rosters on Baseball-reference and my AFR spreadsheets, so there may be errors. There were few large differences except for the Twins, who have a significantly lower team AFR than their team TZ. I calculated the corresponding Rdef for those 5 pitchers:

Pitcher TZ AFR
Koufax -5 -6
Marichal -7 -9
Ellsworth 3 8
Peters 6 5
Pascual 6 -6
   144. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 10, 2011 at 10:46 AM (#3896934)
That's extremely helpful. Thanks, Alex. I'll post a ballot now.
   145. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 10, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3897002)
Alright, thanks guys. I'll post the ballot here first and then in the official ballot thread.

1963 MMP Ballot

1. Sandy Koufax
2. Hank Aaron
3. Willie Mays
4. Elston Howard
5. Dick Ellsworth
6. Orlando Cepeda
7. Tom Tresh
8. Johnny Callison
9. Willie McCovey
10 Eddie Mathews
11. Carl Yastrzemski
12. Tommy Davis
13. Vada Pinson
14. Gary Peters
15. Dick Radatz
   146. DL from MN Posted: August 10, 2011 at 03:07 PM (#3897053)
Where do you have Marichal and Allison?
   147. fra paolo Posted: August 10, 2011 at 09:56 PM (#3897427)
I'm surprised, in retrospect, there wasn't more love for Earl Battey in 1963. I missed him completely, but I've been busy moving house and going to SABR.
   148. DL from MN Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#3897897)
I had Battey close to the ballot and ahead of Elston Howard.
   149. lieiam Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:45 PM (#3897987)
I had Battey 17th. He was my highest ranked player who didn't get any votes, closely followed by Radatz (18th) and Billy Williams (20th).
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