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Hall of Merit — A Look at Baseball's AllTime Best Sunday, March 25, 2007Babe RuthJohn (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy
Posted: March 25, 2007 at 11:51 AM  44 comment(s)
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1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 25, 2007 at 11:58 AM (#2317400)1941 Ballot Discussion
Right Fielder Positional Thread
If you know of any others, please let me know.
George Bradley
Rube Bressler
Charlie Buffington
Nixey Callahan
Bob Caruthers
Martin Dihigo
Charley Ferguson
Wes Ferrell
Dave Foutz
Kid Gleason
Guy Hecker
Bob Lemon
Jack Manning
Cal McVey
Jose Mendez
Tony Mullane
Don Newcombe
Joe Rogan
Babe Ruth
Cy Seymour
Elmer Smith (The Oneth)
Al Spalding
Jesse Tannehill
Adonis Terry
Bobby Wallace
Bucky Walters
Monte Ward
Joe Wood
This is off the top of my head. I wondered if guys like Ruffing, Stivetts, Bond, McCormick, Whitney were good enough hitters, pinch hit enough, or played other positions enough. Also whether Ryan and GVH did enough good pitching. For that matter is it appropriate to classify Walters or Lemon as twoway players? Finally, there's a bunch of other NgL twoway players who I'm not recalling just now, but who would definitely be on any such list.
For context, Walter Johnson was 21for110 lifetime as a pinch hitter, while Pete Alexander and Lefty Grove were each 0for2 lifetime in that role; Christy Mathewson 0for4, Cy Young 1for5. Evidently to do a lot of pinchhitting in the 1890s1950s era, a pitcher had to meet some minimal standard; it wasn't just that rosters were so small that every pitcher had to do some. Guys like Ruffing and Lemon added serious versatility to their teams' benches.
Wes Ferrell was 31for139 lifetime as a pinch hitter, as has no doubt been shown in great detail on several threads :) George Uhle was 44for169.
George Sisler
Rube Bressler
Reb Russell
Buzz Arlett
Lefty O'Doul
Pete Schneider
Sam Rice
Charlie Jamieson
Jack Graney
Bill Barrett
Harry Wolter
Wilbur Good
Clarence Mitchell
Jack Bentley
Johnny Cooney
And then, in the NBJHBA, he gives two more lists  one which is calls "pitcher plus" in which he's using WS and a harmonic mean to find the best 10 combos. Here's that list:
1. Ruth
2. Ward
3. Caruthers
4. Foutz
5. Elmer Smith
6. Gleason
7. Hecker
8. Seymour
9. Callahan
10. Jim Whitney
And then he provided a list of postWWII pitchers who could hit a little, with Lemon being #1 on that list, following by Newcombe and Wynn. Bob Forsch and Rick Rhoden were 9 and 10 on the list.

There have been plenty of other guys switched from P to position player in the low minors  wasn't Stan Musial once a pitcher? And there have been guys switched in the other direction, from position player to pitcher  Walters and Lemon stick out becuase they reached the majors as position players before the switch happened. There are probably dozens of Guillermo Mota stories, where the switch happened in the minors.
The 1930's was the high time of the P/PH. We've mentioned Ruffing and Ferrell. Red Lucas was another one, and as a classic PH type (LH, high average) he got more PA as a PH than the RH slugger Ferrell.
The P/PH essentially died out long ago, but there was Brooks Kieschnick, and I've been telling Mets fans that Jason Vargas could do that if given a chance.
I recently met Dan Duquette who told the story of how Vlad tried out with the Yankees as a pitcher and they weren't interested. Next, he worked out for the Expos' scout, as both pitcher and outfielder. Apparently, the scout was impressed by his work in the field and with the stick.
Hal Jeffcoat
We won't mention Wonderous Willie Smith. And of course, among current players, Ron Mahay came up as an outfielder.
And yes, I'm aware of the lifetime OPS+ of 73.
One interesting thing that's forgotten is that the Giants, at the end of the 1902 season, tried to convert Christy Mathewson to an outfielder/first baseman. He played four games in the OF, and three at first, making four errors at the latter position. Fortunately, John McGraw abandoned that by the start of 1903...
What do you think of geometric means, harmonic means, and roll your own means as :) means of building eyecatching statistics from numbers in multiple unlike categories?
James' use of harmonic in the NHA was I think a taste issue (it worked for him, gave a reasonable answer), but three other techinques likely would have done as well.
James' cute 'power speed' formula is essentially a geometric mean.
When comparing ranks in categories, geometric works well because a rank of '1st' and '20th' in two categories is weighted better than two '10ths'. I suspect voter's (MVP, HoF) subconcious tendencies could be described well using some geometric or harmonic mean stats.
This is off the top of my head. I wondered if guys like Ruffing, Stivetts, Bond, McCormick, Whitney were good enough hitters, pinch hit enough, or played other positions enough. Also whether Ryan and GVH did enough good pitching. For that matter is it appropriate to classify Walters or Lemon as twoway players?
Ec, all that depends on what you are trying to do!
John Elmer happy jack Stivetts
Fielding Games, etc
Pit O1 23S phr
361 109 _4 (12) ; 18891896, doubledigit OF games in most seasons
_18 _31 _2 (10) ; 1897 (OPS+ 143)
__9 _31 _8 (11) ; 18981899 (OPS+ ~
388 171 14 (33) ; 18891899, mlb career
"phr" is the season surplus of batting games above fielding games; that is min{0, BattingFielding}
For straight BattingFielding the season record is 0 0 1 2 1 3 1 7 ; 10 ; 9 2
(All that work by hand, eye, and mind is errorprone.)
Babe Ruth recalled Boston memories of Jack Stivetts. Beside batting with some power, Stivetts was a regular pitcher on back to back champions in his first two seasons. The pitching staffs included about three and five regulars so the Babe's role as a pitcher, and any pitcher's role in his time, was notably less than Jack's. The development was well underway before Stivetts retired from the Boston staff.
Suppose we have two positive numbers A and B. The mean of order p is M_p=(A^p + B^p)^(1/p). This is an increasing function of p  the larger the p, the larger the mean. There are three limiting cases:
The limit as p tends to + infinity (might as well call it the + infinity mean) is the maximum.
The limit as p tends to  infinity is the minimum.
The limit as p tends to zero is M_0=sqrt(A*B), better known as the geometric mean.
The case of p= 1 is the arithmetic mean; the ordinary average.
The case of p = 1 is the harmonic mean: M_{1}=(A^{1}+B^{1})^{1}=2*A*B/(A+B).
Talking about a "4040" season, or a "tripledouble" in basketball, is in effect using the  infinity mean (the minimum).
The larger you make p, the more important you're making the maximum number; the smaller you make p, the more important you're making the minimum number. The geometric mean has the important conceptual advantage of being "scalefree," meaning that it doesn't really matter if the two items are measured on different scales. In any other mean, the scale matters. Take the case of the "tripledouble"  it's a minimum, so only the smallest of the three numbers matters, but 10 points is a far less impressive accomplishment than 10 rebounds or 10 assists. It would make more sense to divide the points by something like 2.5 before including them.
If you're trying to highlight the dual nature of some combined accomplishment  if you want something on both sides  then any mean with p <= 0 has the property that if either one of the two numbers is zero, then the mean is zero.
Oh, I missed that and it is crucial.
M_p = ((A^p + B^p)/2)^(1/p)
Inside the parens, this expression seems to be off by a factor of n, the number of numbers meaned.
Wikipedia: Power mean
That's what the "2" is I believe.
yeah. Duh. I knew that. Told ya I couldn't be cogent when being brief and typing quickly!
That's why he was known as Turkey Neck.
Or maybe not.
Don't know about the '90, but I have the 1988 edition, and Dick Hall is certainly listed as "Turkey Neck". So, no, you're not going crazy.
Thanks, VOD! Though I suspect my wife won't agree with your conclusion....
In June 1902, he had a sore arm, and the Giants had released their first baseman, so they used Matty there for 3 games. He also played some in the OF when McGraw took over the team. Joe McGinnity was also used in the OF and at second base. Rosters were a lot smaller then.
I looked at Matty, the Roy Robinson bio of Mathewson, and it wasn't just a situation of Mathewson being used as a position player in desperation. I got it wrong in my previous post, and you are right; it wasn't at the end of the year, it was in the middle of the season, in June, when Horace Fogel was still manager. According to Robinson, a few of the other Giant players had lost confidence in Mathewson as a pitcher (he went 1417 that season), and convinced Fogel to play him somewhere other than pitcher. After a few none too impressive games in the field, Fogel put him back on the mound, and when McGraw took over later in the year, he kept him there. But the move was originally made with the intention of seeing if Mathewson had the ability to be a regular position player.
Obviously, he was a very good pitcher, but, disregarding injury, just how good was he?
He threw 218 innings as a 20 year old, 324 as a 21 year old and 326 as a 22 year old. That was in the deadball era where IP were much less stressful than later eras, but the liveball era was going to get started whether or not Ruth was a hitter, and most young pitchers post deadball era simply don't last long under such a workload, and
as No.32 alludes to his K/BB was getting worse every year that's a bad trend for a pitcher in any era.
He was actually a 1B/3B in the minors who converted to pitching when it became obvious he'd never hit enough to make it as a position player.
 MWE
Red Ruffing
Wes Ferrell
Walter Johnson
Don Newcombe
George Uhle
George Mullin
Bob Lemon
Babe Ruth
Schoolboy Rowe
Al Orth
Early Wynn
Bucky Walters
Reb Russell
Carl Mays
Warren Spahn
Jesse Tannehill
Bob Gibson
Joe Bush
Dutch Ruether
Claude Hendrix
Burleigh Grimes
Rick Rhoden
Bob Forsch
Christy Matthews
Gary Peters
Those guys all had 35 or BRAR as a pitcher. Wood doesn't make the list because he only pitched for a few years. It doesn't count his offense after going to the OF.
Don Drysdale just misses (+32).
I removed Babe Ruth, one player, from the sample. Instantly, the regression line was a perfect fit. Babe Ruth alone increased the standard deviation of his league by over 10% consistently throughout the 1920's. He was a oneman star glut. Pretty damn remarkable. But then again, he was The Babe.
Is there any reason to doubt Fielding Win Shares and WARP crediting him for a great, great defensive season in 1921 and a positively historic one in 1923?
Not in my opinion. He got a reputation as a fat guy later, but in 192123 he was 2628 years old. He was an amazing athlete. He hit a ton of triples, stole some bases. I have no doubt he was an outstanding corner outfielder before the hot dogs and beer weighed him down.
Does everyone/anyone know what those numbers are?
They are Ruth's BBs from 1926 to 1932, all in similarly fulltime seasons.
What happened in 1929?
A similar but less extreme case was the 2B position especially in the NL it's been observed by some including Bill James, that 2B used to be an offense position more so than 3B into the late 20s... actually the switch from 2B being an offense first position to a defense first position (and being less offensive than 3B) happened earlier if you exclude Hornsby's #s in figuring out means.
The problem with this is that Ruth usually hit third, and Gehrig fourth, so changing the batting order would mean that the player hitting behind Ruth was not as good as Gehrig, and would presumably lead to more intentional walks for Ruth. I have no idea if the Yankees changed the batting order in 1929, but it's interesting that as Ruth's walks went down, Gehrig's went up  he drew 122, the largest total while he and Ruth were teammates. Gehrig's three biggest years in walks came in 193537, the first three years that he didn't play with Ruth.
And it's not as if Ruth sucked in 1929 and people were less scared of him  he hit .345 with 46 home runs. And he went back up to 130 walks in 1930.
What this all means, I don't know.
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