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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bill Freehan

Eligible in 1982.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 23, 2006 at 10:19 PM | 169 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 23, 2006 at 10:28 PM (#2108858)
The greatest AL catcher (possibly the best in the majors, too) of the Sixties. He'll be getting some votes.

BTW, has anyone here read his autobiography? It was mentioned in an article about Jim Bouton in the SABR convention publication, but I never saw the book myself.
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:51 AM (#2109266)
BTW, has anyone here read his autobiography? It was mentioned in an article about Jim Bouton in the SABR convention publication, but I never saw the book myself.

Behind the Mask. I actually have a copy of it, somewhere. It may still be over at my parents' house. As I remember, it was a pretty standard baseball autobiography of the time, not rocking the boat too much. It came out in about the same time frame as Ball Four, and looked milquetoast by comparision...
   3. Repoz Posted: July 24, 2006 at 12:50 PM (#2109361)
BTW, has anyone here read his autobiography?

Me gots...tho I haven't read it in 30 years.

It's not an autobiography, but a day-to-day diary (It's title is "Behind the Mask: An Inside Baseball Diary") of the '69 season (I guess they were expecting a repeat).

Edited by Steve Gelman and Dick Schaap...World Publishing.

Excerpty taste...

July 2

Before tonight's game, Earl Wilson and Gates Brown walked up to Ike Brown and pounded him on the back. "Ike," Wilson said, "you've got a lot of weight on your shoulders today. You're the only soul-brother in the lineup. We didn't have a brother out there last night, and they scored 12 runs...You've got to carry the colors today.
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 24, 2006 at 12:56 PM (#2109363)
When did "soul-brother" go out of style? Except for music, the word "soul" lost a lot of its currency about 20 years ago, IIRC.
   5. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: July 24, 2006 at 01:07 PM (#2109370)
To the peak voter, Freehan is really, really, really good. It's really only a 2 year peak (1967-68), but I'm inclined to give it extra credit for 3 reasons:

1) It's a really freaking good peak. He's basically one of the top 5 position players in the AL during those 2 seasons when you account for position.

2) The Tigers won the World Series during his peak. Big bonus (same bonus I give Dean). Granted hit hit horribly during that Series, but then again who didn't?

3) Damn good catcher during the 60's.

I think he's going to be somewhere b/w 10-15 on my ballot. I see him as very similar to Elston Howard, maybe even a smidge better due to better defense.
   6. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: July 24, 2006 at 01:07 PM (#2109373)
3) Damn good catcher during the 60's.


read: Damn good DEFENSIVE catcher during the 60's.
   7. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 01:08 PM (#2109374)
I think somebody could make a pretty persuasive case that Bill Freehan is the most underrated player in baseball history. Him or Darrell Evans.

Except for the people who actually saw him play I am sure if you asked folks to name the top catchers since WWII the names Campanella, Berra, Bench, Pudge, Fisk, Piazza would all be mentioned multiple times. I doubt 5% would say "Freehan".
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 24, 2006 at 01:27 PM (#2109389)
I think somebody could make a pretty persuasive case that Bill Freehan is the most underrated player in baseball history. Him or Darrell Evans.

Except for the people who actually saw him play I am sure if you asked folks to name the top catchers since WWII the names Campanella, Berra, Bench, Pudge, Fisk, Piazza would all be mentioned multiple times. I doubt 5% would say "Freehan".


You're right on all counts, Harvey.
   9. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2109425)
Freehan is #6 on my 1981 preliminary ballot.

In addition to his brief, brilliant peak (reminiscent of Charlie Bennett), he has another five very good seasons.
   10. rawagman Posted: July 24, 2006 at 02:14 PM (#2109429)
Bill Freehan is someone who I am only truly familiar with in light of the cries that he is among the most underrated players of all time.
Combine that with the fact that Quincy Trouppe is the only catcher on my ballot and there really isn't any catcher that I am totally enamored with, I'm really looking forward to crunching his numbers through my system.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2109434)
By the way, the Tigers of the 60's had MULTIPLE guys who fall in the underrated category. Freehan, McAuliffe, Cash. Even Kaline to a degree. Some of that is context (60's deflating numbers). Some of that is not winning more. But mostly it's because these guys were into playing baseball instead of promoting themselves. Denny got all the pub not just because he had the big fastball. Denny was a loud mouth. And being a good player on a fine team with nobody else vying the spotlight writers were only too happy to let him be the show.
   12. Gaelan Posted: July 24, 2006 at 02:24 PM (#2109441)
I think he's going to be somewhere b/w 10-15 on my ballot. I see him as very similar to Elston Howard, maybe even a smidge better due to better defense.


Better defense? Wasn't Howard and excellent defensive catcher. I was doing some research on the 61-63 Yankees and Howard threw out around 50% of base stealers during that time. Moreover the pitchers from those teams all threw a below average number of wild pitches which I think speaks highly of Howards' defense.
   13. Steve Treder Posted: July 24, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2109576)
By the way, the Tigers of the 60's had MULTIPLE guys who fall in the underrated category. Freehan, McAuliffe, Cash. Even Kaline to a degree.

Well said. Lolich was also underrated to some extent; when people thought of him then or remember him now, it's usually either for the huge 1971 IP total, or for his rotundity, and not for the fact that he was a damn good pitcher, with a vastly better career than McLain's.
   14. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: July 24, 2006 at 04:30 PM (#2109628)
Better defense? Wasn't Howard and excellent defensive catcher. I was doing some research on the 61-63 Yankees and Howard threw out around 50% of base stealers during that time. Moreover the pitchers from those teams all threw a below average number of wild pitches which I think speaks highly of Howards' defense.

I think I agree with all of this, except my understanding is that Freehan was even better than Howard. Freehan and Howard are very similar (short peak, great defense) in many ways, particularly if you give Howard some "blocked" credit.
   15. rico vanian Posted: July 24, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2109664)
I think the shelf life for Freehan will be short as Ted Simmons and Johnny Bench are up for election shortly.
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 04:51 PM (#2109672)
Well, I enjoyed watching Simba play but Freehan was a better player. Way better defensively and simmons wasn't nearly as bad as folks claim.
   17. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#2109718)
I think the shelf life for Freehan will be short as Ted Simmons and Johnny Bench are up for election shortly.

Don't see why the arrival of Bench and Simmons should have any bearing on Freehan's merits, but I expect him to be elected well before Bench reaches the ballot in 1989.
   18. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2109739)
Under my system, he's nowhere near as good as Lombardi, Trouppe or Schang, and about the level of McGuire and Clements. Not close, in other words, whereas Bench and Simmons are top-of-the-ballot or very close to it. It's a very short career, even when you correct for catcher fragility.
   19. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2109767)
Under my system, he's nowhere near as good as Lombardi, Trouppe or Schang, and about the level of McGuire and Clements. Not close, in other words, whereas Bench and Simmons are top-of-the-ballot or very close to it. It's a very short career, even when you correct for catcher fragility.

I'm not sure why you see Freehan's career as "very short" in comparison to Lombardi and Schang. Lombardi and Schang have more career games, but most/all of their advantage over Freehan in this respect is from pinch-hitting. In the field, they played about as many games as Freehan did:

Freehan: 1581 g c, 157 g 1b, 2 g of --> 1738 games total
Lombardi: 1542 g c --> 1622 games total adj. to 162-game seasons
Schang: 1439 g c, 168 g of, 60 g 3b --> 1754 games total adj. to 162-game seasons

Lombardi and Schang get some value added as pinch-hitters, of course, but their careers were quite similar in size to Freehan's.

Lombardi and Schang were somewhat better hitters; Freehan was better defensively. Freehan also was more valuable on a seasonal basis because he was more durable on a seasonal basis. I know that's not a significant factor in your system, Karlmagnus, but it will carry weight with many voters.
   20. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:58 PM (#2109773)
Lombardi's a much better hitter, Schang a somewhat better hitter. I also tend to adjust to 130 game seasons to reflect the fact that catchers had much better defensive equipment in 1965 than in 1910.

YMMV, but we haven't been in any great hurry to elect Lombardi or Schang, and Lombardi in particular looks a class better to me. I think the "Freehan is underrated" line is one of those sabermetric "truths" like the irrlevance of base stealing that is only half correct.
   21. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#2109774)
Chris:

Freehan wasn't just "better" defensively then Lombardi, he was LIGHT YEARS better.

karl:

I am not familiar with your methodologies, but I cannot wrap my head around the notion of anything assessing Lombardi not only as better then Freehan but MUCH better. And I know I saw "The Schnozz" at the end of his career when I was a lad of ten or so but concluding that a fat guy who could barely get out of his crouch as being superior to Freehan borders on the absurd.

But that's just me...............
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#2109781)
karl:

"one of those sabermetric truths"?

Personally, I thought Freehan was a heckuva catcher before Bill James was out of grade school. Something about players with a breadth of skills appeals to me. Guess I'm odd that way......
   23. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:07 PM (#2109788)
Freehan wasn't just "better" defensively then Lombardi, he was LIGHT YEARS better.

Agreed, certainly.
   24. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#2109791)
I never saw Schnozz, only Freehan; I suggest that Schnozz may have been more impressive earlier in his career. OPS+125 vs 112 is a BIG difference, and black/gray ink of 8/83 versus 0/30 is also pretty substantial. Scnhozz won an MVP, Freehan didn't, and Schnozz was on 2 pennant winners to Freehan's one. Having checked the joints, I remain of the opinion that Schozz was better, with a significant margin between them.
   25. yest Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:42 PM (#2109826)
why was Freehan's home stats much worse at home then an the road?
(though not HR power 100 at home 100 on the road)
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2109842)
karl:

Alas, about what I thought. All "O" no mention of "D". And if one wants to discuss winning what about Freehan playing on nine teams that finished above .500 versus Lombardi's five. Unless you want to count Ernie's last season where he hardly counts?

And in his youth when Lombardi had his best seasons the Reds were awful to mediocre. So he wasn't ever the best player on a good team. He was one of the "good" players on a good team.

Freehan could make the claim of being the best player on a fine team in 1964, 1967, 1968, and 1971 on good to very good Tiger teams. It's those types of things that I think matter. I certainly understand AND appreciate taking a numerical assessment of the player. All I ask is the examination be holistic.
   27. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:02 PM (#2109859)
Beyond playing the position competently, I don't think catcher D is very important, certainly not 13 points of OPS+ In terms of handling pitchers etc. Schnozz has a good reputation, not a bad one. D makes up at most half the difference between the two.
   28. Flynn Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#2109862)
Just to back up Harvey, Lombardi was not a good defender. The excellent essay in the BJHA talks about it, but Lombardi couldn't be trusted to spring out of a crouch and grab a bunt or chase a passed ball because he was so slow (and overweight). If a ball bounced out of the box, it pretty much had to be an extra base. He had a good arm, but I'd have to imagine he threw out of the crouch, taking some zing off it, and if he didn't he wouldn't have been very effective.

He was a good player anyway since he was such a great hitter, but his teams knew you were giving up D for his bat.
   29. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#2109863)
BTW, Schnozz was unquestionably the best player on the WS-winning 1940 Reds. Freehan wasn't, not even close -- Kaline and (in 1968) McLain both have better claims. Cash and McAuliffe are in the argument too.
   30. Mike Webber Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:13 PM (#2109871)
karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2109859)
Beyond playing the position competently, I don't think catcher D is very important, certainly not 13 points of OPS+ In terms of handling pitchers etc. Schnozz has a good reputation, not a bad one. D makes up at most half the difference between the two.


This is my exact point about 1b defense in the 1890's.

I also think that this arguement is maybe defensible in the 1930's to 1960's but not the 1970's and 1980's when steals explode.
   31. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:18 PM (#2109877)
karl:

Good heavens, being the best player certainly must include being in the lineup. Ernie missed 30% of the season due to injury. In the seasons I list for Freehan he played as regularly as anyone else on the Tigers.

And if you are going to suggest with a straight face that Al Kaline was better then Bill in 1968 then we are so far apart that the conversation need not continue. Al missed a third of the season for pete's sake and hit 10 home runs. Somehow I suspect that Freehan pushed them to the pennant in a more significant fashion then Kaline.

Lombardi wasn't a good defensive catcher unless your idea of good defense is stopping the ball before it goes to the backstop. If those are your expectations then again, what is there to discuss? One guy played the position the other EXCELLED at it. It's like calling Dennis Miller a newscaster based on his bits on SNL. Good grief......
   32. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2109882)
If you think 1B defense in the 1990s was as important as catcher defense, I happily defer to your superior wisdom. In any case, Schnozz wasn't playing in a high steals era; you can't penalize a guy much for not having a skill that was of only minor importance when he played.
   33. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2109884)
That's 1890s, dammit.
   34. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#2109887)
Harvey, on the 1968 Tigers if you want peak I suggest McLean, career I suggest Kaline, with Cash and McAuliffe also in the picture. Either way Freehan's one of a group of very good players, not clearly the best. On the other hand, as far as I'm aware no other member of the 1939-40 Reds (apart from the manager) has sniffed the HOF/HOM.
   35. TomH Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:31 PM (#2109896)
go go Bucky Walters!
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#2109902)
karl:

When discussing best player on a good team I am looking in the context of THAT season. Of course Kaline over his career was better then Freehan. But in each of the seasons I mention Al was either hurt for part of the season or was just ok. And I VEHEMENTLY disagree about Denny being better then Bill. Denny's record is context created. Freehan was better then DL any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Bucky Walters was a heckuva pitcher. Paul Derringer in another time and another place might have earned a plaque.

Just because voters for both entities are demonstrating tremendous ignorance does not mean Lombardi should enjoy some elevated status. "Well, the Reds then were pretty good but don't have a Hall of Famer. Guess we need one."

What the heck kind of rationalization is THAT?
   37. karlmagnus Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:42 PM (#2109914)
The central question on the Keltner list: If your man was the best player on a team, could it win a pennant? The Reds won 2, and with all due respect to Walters, Schnozz had a lot less support on that team than Freehan or any other individual player on the '68 Tigers, which was a top quality combo that slighly underachieved in terms of pennants.
   38. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2109930)
Harvey, on the 1968 Tigers if you want peak I suggest McLean, career I suggest Kaline, with Cash and McAuliffe also in the picture. Either way Freehan's one of a group of very good players, not clearly the best. On the other hand, as far as I'm aware no other member of the 1939-40 Reds (apart from the manager) has sniffed the HOF/HOM.

I don't think this is a accurate argument. Freehan had the 8th highest non-pitcher VORP in 1968 according to BaseballProspectus. I don't trust WARP a bit becuase I think it's defensive side is crap, but I think VORP does a darn good job (IOW, I agree with how they define replacement). Actually, FWIW, WARP has Freehan's 1968 as a smidge over 11, which is pretty typical for a peak season for a mid-level HOM guy. McLain is a monster in 1968, but he was slightly hit luck and pitching in an era when pitchers racked up huge seasonal value-if you take a pitcher and hitter from the late 60's early 70's of equivalent quality, the pitcher will have more value in any given season.

I don't know how the electorate has decided to handle the 330+ IP guys of this period, but I think I can easily argue that Freehan was as good, or better, relative to his peers than McLain was.
   39. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2006 at 08:02 PM (#2109951)
karl:

Regarding the 1940 Reds you do realize the Ernie missed 44 games due to injury, correct? And that while out in July the Reds went 20-8 with Hershberger catching. Which, by the way, is a better winning percentage then they had for the overall season.

I don't know how Lombardi can get credit for being a central component on the team when it did BETTER when he wasn't in the lineup...............
   40. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 24, 2006 at 08:09 PM (#2109966)
as far as I'm aware no other member of the 1939-40 Reds (apart from the manager) has sniffed the HOF/HOM.


Bucky Walters has had some votes for the HOM, and Derringer got some for the HOF, although it's true neither has exactly gathered overwhelming support. I'd argue that both pitchers were more valuable to the Reds in 39-40 than was Lombardi, and Frank McCormick was equally valuable, although YMMV. The Reds finished last in 1937, then added Walters and McCormick in 1938 (along with Lonny Frey and Harry Craft to tighten the defense up the middle) and moved up to fourth before winning it all a year later. Note that McCormick, essentially a rookie in 1938 who hit .327 without many walks or EBH, finished fifth in that year's MVP balloting. In 1939, Walters, Derringer, and McCormick finished 1-3-4, with Lombardi nowhere to be seen, and in 1940 the big three were also in the top 4 (with McCormick winning) while Lombardi finished ninth.

Lombardi was not especially durable, ranking in the top 3 in the league in games caught only once in his career, in his MVP year of 1938 (2nd behind Al Todd). Several times in that stretch he was under 100 games caught, in an era where the league leader was usually around 120 games or so. I think that has to be held against Lombardi to some extent - as I suspect the MVP voters did.

-- MWE
   41. yest Posted: July 25, 2006 at 03:37 AM (#2111073)
again
why was Freehan's home stats much worse at home then an the road?
   42. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 25, 2006 at 04:13 AM (#2111107)
Let's not get into a major arguemnt, if we aren't already, about Lombardi v. Freehan. This is what karl does, he makes outrageous statements abou the guys he likes and gets us to talk abou this players. Lombardi is off my radar screen becuase his in season durability makes his peak non-existent and caused his relative contributions to his teams pennant chances to be smaller than if you look at his career as a whole. period.

As for Freehan, he looks to make my ballot which will give me 3 catchers (maybe two, depending on how far down the newbies push Howard) with Torre, Simmons and Bench on the horizon. Oh and Bresnahan is lurking just off ballot. Is that too many catchers in one's top 20-25? We are a little short on catchers at the HOM.
   43. DavidFoss Posted: July 25, 2006 at 04:14 AM (#2111108)
why was Freehan's home stats much worse at home then an the road?

I'm stumped. It was pretty consistent. 64,66-69,71. Tiger stadium was a moderate hitters park (PF ~ 103) most years. Freehan liked Fenway, Baltimore, Minnesota, Washington, Anaheim, and even Oakland better than he liked Tiger Stadium. Parks he didn't like were Yankee Stadium, Cleveland and Comiskey. Maybe he wasn't a pull hitter and hit a lot of balls to dead center?
   44. OCF Posted: July 25, 2006 at 04:28 AM (#2111129)
My offensive system, in which run context matters and in-season durability so unimportant that I have to reach outside the system to find reasons not to vote for Chance and McGraw, overall has Lombardi and Freehan as near-equals. However, Freehan has two big offensive seasons (1967 and 1968) which Lombardi can't come close to matching. For offense alone, I have Freehan not that far in value from Campanella, Schang, and Bresnahan. (Less offensive peak than Campanella or Bresnahan, more than Schang.) However:

1. Campanella is more than that, because he has value outside the major leagues.
2. Bresnahan and Schang are each less than that because they acquired some of that offensive value while playing the outfield. This is particularly important when we talk about Bresnahan's peak.

I currently have one catcher on my ballot: Trouppe. There's a very good chance that I'll now have two catchers on my ballot. (And it seems nearly impossible to intelligently compare Freehan to Trouppe.)

Harvey, you do know that karlmagnus isn't exactly the face of the Hall of Merit consensus?
   45. Mike Webber Posted: July 25, 2006 at 04:32 AM (#2111132)
Here is a guess Yest:

First his Splits per retrosheet:
         Games  AB    R      H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB IBB SO HBP SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG
Total   1774  6074  706 1591 241  35 200  758  626  67  754 114  38  48   0  94     139   24    22  .262   .340  .412
Home   873  2918  345   737 111  19 100  374  304  35  394   54  23  29   0  45       66     9     6  .253   .331  .406
Away   901  3156  361   854 130  16 100  384  322  32  360   60  15  19   0  49       73   15    16  .271   .347  .417



I'm not going to try and straighten that out, but

Cat Home Away
Avg 253 271
Slg 331 347
OBP 406 417


They are pretty close, except for the fact that Tiger Stadium is a hitters park throughout Freehan's career.
But what Tiger's Stadium really helped with was homers, and as Yest noted he had 100 at both home and road,so basically you could say that Freehan was unable to use what the park gave to his advantage.

Another guess,

he hit LHP with much more authority than RHP. Is there a big reason why managers might skip LHP more often in Detroit? It was only 325' (maybe 10' shorter with the grandstand over hang) to the pole in right field, and and 340' to the pole in left field. The power alley was slightly shorter in left than right (365 to 370 - though the over hang may have more than nuetralized that).

Intuitively it seems that you would not skip a lefty, in Detroit.

Oh Freehan's LH/RH splits

Cat Right Left
AB 3974 2100
Avg 248 289
Slg 324 369
OBP 384 464
HR 125 75
HR/500AB
15.7 17.9
   46. DavidFoss Posted: July 25, 2006 at 05:07 AM (#2111181)
Here is my contribution for jschmeagol:

Year Team  Lg  Bat Fld  P Sum  WS
1961 Det
-r AL  0.5  0.2 –  0.7  1
1963 Det
-R AL  6.4  3.9 – 10.3 10
1964 Det   AL 17.7  7.5 – 25.2 25
1965 Det   AL  6.4  7.7 – 14.1 14
1966 Det   AL  7.4  8.1 – 15.5 16
1967 Det   AL 23.4  6.2 – 29.6 30
1968 Det   AL 24.6 10.4 – 35.1 35
1969 Det   AL 12.7  7.2 – 19.9 20
1970 Det   AL  9.5  6.3 – 15.8 16
1971 Det   AL 18.0  6.6 – 24.6 25
1972 Det   AL 13.6  6.6 – 20.2 20
1973 Det   AL  4.0  7.5 – 11.5 12
1974 Det   AL 18.8  4.2 – 23.0 23
1975 Det   AL  7.4  5.4 – 12.9 13
1976 Det   AL  4.7  1.8 –  6.5  7
Totals       175.4 89.6 – 265.0 267 


Whew... I'll leave Oliva and BWilliams for someone else. :-)
   47. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 25, 2006 at 05:47 AM (#2111214)
Thanks David! If I were only to use WS, Freehan would not only be on my ballot but would also be my top catcher and I have Trouppe atound #10 most years.
   48. OCF Posted: August 04, 2006 at 12:06 AM (#2126049)
For sure, "examine Bill Freehan carefully and place him accurately" should be on a lot of people's "to do" lists before the 1983 election. I liked Mike Webber's comment on his 1982 ballot, so I'm quoting it here:

The best catcher that I am not absolutely sure is HOM worthy. Strange, but if you made a list of the top 20 catchers ever, where would you draw your positively IN line? I bet Freehan is within one or two of where you draw the line. Firmly on the bubble.
   49. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 04, 2006 at 12:16 AM (#2126073)
Bill Freehan is in the top 15 no matter how you measure it. I personally have to question how folks are assessing things if Freehan being in the top 20(!) is even a topic of debate.

I will refrain from becoming sarcastic. But as anyone still reading can likely tell I feel very strongly on the subject of Bill Freehan. He was a WONDERFUL catcher if he was hitting .230. When he was healthy and hit like he could he was a GREAT catcher.

D*mn I wish we had video so you could see for yourself and not just write me off as some "In my day...." rant.

Sigh.....................
   50. OCF Posted: August 04, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#2126108)
HW, have a little patience and wait for the 1982 ballot results so you can see just where in our backlog Freehan will land. I'll put it this way: he'll be hard to ignore. I'd say that 1983 (including the Freehan vs. Torre debate) and 1984 (to sort out the leftovers of 1983) are shaping up to be very interesting elections.

Torre has the same problem as Bresnahan, albeit in a different shape - he's got some terrific offense, but his best offensive years weren't as a catcher.
   51. Mike Webber Posted: August 04, 2006 at 01:12 AM (#2126280)
Hi Harvey,

This is what I mean:

CAREER
C
GAMES displayed only--not a sorting criteria

RCAP                           RCAP       G     
1    Mike Piazza                 542     1574   
2    Bill Dickey                 473     1789   
3    Yogi Berra                  430     2001   
4    Mickey Cochrane             425     1482   
5    Gabby Hartnett              364     1990   
6    Carlton Fisk                360     2408   
7    Johnny Bench                347     1877   
8    Ted Simmons                 321     1954   
9    Ivan Rodriguez              277     1887   
10   Buck Ewing                  261      701   
11   Fred Carroll                256      663   
12   Gary Carter                 251     2152   
13   Wally Schang                249     1614   
14   Ernie Lombardi              241     1853   
T15  Joe Torre                   222     1196   
T15  Jorge Posada                222     1145   
17   Roger Bresnahan             214     1102   
18   Jack Clements               208     1157   
19   Roy Campanella              206     1215   
20   Jason Kendall               200     1402   
T21  Mike Grady                  196      742   
T21  Charlie Bennett             196     1062   
23   Smoky Burgess               194     1607   
24   Darrell Porter              193     1697   
25   Deacon McGuire              186     1773   
T26  Mickey Tettleton            177     1039   
T26  Gene Tenace                 177      914   
28   Bill Freehan                175     1644   
29   Thurman Munson              174     1423   
30   Javier Lopez                172     1409   


First how many catchers should eventually make it? 20-25 or so right?

Those first 10 guys, slam dunks right?

Then add in the Slam dunk Negro Leaguers,
Josh Gibson and Santop - makes it a dozen.

And a couple of 19th century guys too.
Charlie Bennett, Cal McVey

Now you have 6-11 slots left. So who below #10 below is a lock?
Carter, Campanella.

Which leaves 4 to 9 slots for,
Biz Mackey, Bruce Petway, Quincy Trouppe, Elston Howard, Wally Schang, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Torre, Roger Bresnahan, Thumrman Munson, Darrel Porter, Lance Parrish and Bill Freehan.

I'd say Freehan is the top of the final group. (Leaving the non-top 10 active guys out of the arguement -Posada, Santiago, Lopez, and Kendall. And Jason Kendall is someone I had never thought of as a historically great catcher. He catcher 350 after this year, and he'll be among the 10 ten all-time in games caught, and that makes him a viable HOF/HOM candidate).
   52. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 04, 2006 at 01:34 AM (#2126358)
Josh Gibson I can understand. But I have serious doubts that anyone really knows with certainty when it comes to Santop or the 19th century players INCLUDING Ewing. And to put players like Thurman Munson, Darrell Porter, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Torre, and Bresnahan in the same discussion with Freehan is just dumb. D-U-M-B. Porter had a Mickey Vernon type career lurching between great and ugly, Munson was NOWHERE as good as his press clippings, Lombardi was a mediocre defensive player AT BEST as well, and Torre is a ha' catcher. As in part-catcher, part whatever.

Elston Howard I cut some slack only because the Yanks frittered away several years of his career.

Folks are just looking for ways to get my blood pressure going. Because I cannot understand how learned, informed, dedicated baseball people are writing the things in front of me.

I'm going to lie down now.............................................
   53. baudib Posted: August 04, 2006 at 01:54 AM (#2126417)
Freehan has an interesting case, but I'm not sure he is that much more compelling than, say, Wally Schang...I'm willing to give pre-WWII catchers some slack on games caught plus some extra credit for playing in a more defensive-oriented era.

It could be that Freehan is deserving but I tend to think at this point that he's simply a guy the SABR crowd is slightly too enamored with, a la Norm Cash five years ago.
   54. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 04, 2006 at 02:26 AM (#2126482)
baudib:

I have written this previously in this very thread, but again FOR THE RECORD I will state it quite clearly.

I thought Bill Freehan was a great catcher before Bill James was out of short pants. Did then, do now.

Now, if you want to continue to accuse me of some bias at least let it be a bias in favor of catchers who were well-rounded in their contributions to winning baseball games.

And it is becoming very clear to me that this is one, ONE, instance that actually seeing the man play would make a world of difference. Because many of you are simply writing out of your respective hind-quarters. And if we had the video you would realize how d*mn silly you sound.

Fine. Kiss the rings of lesser players.

Wally Schang? For crissakes........................................
   55. Daryn Posted: August 04, 2006 at 02:57 AM (#2126507)
Harvey,

You have to agree you have overstated your case. Freehan has very little chance of being in the top 15 catchers of all-time. In my view, 15 is just about the right amount of catchers for the HoM, though I have no quota. I have Freehan 18th, but the catchers between 15 and 25 are pretty difficult to separate. The following catchers, to an objective observer, are better than Freehan (in no order):

1 Mike Piazza 542 1574
2 Bill Dickey 473 1789
3 Yogi Berra 430 2001
4 Mickey Cochrane 425 1482
5 Gabby Hartnett 364 1990
6 Carlton Fisk 360 2408
7 Johnny Bench 347 1877
8 Ted Simmons 321 1954
9 Ivan Rodriguez 277 1887
10 Buck Ewing 261 701
11 Gibson
12 Gary Carter 251 2152
13 Santop
14 Campanella

Freehan is in a group below this with about a dozen others. I have Bresnahan 15th, who was the best catcher in baseball for about ten years, but arguments can be made for another ten guys including Freehan. Freehan could easily fall outside the top 20 of a reasonable person's ranking system.
   56. Tiboreau Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:59 AM (#2126623)
What would we see if we actually saw Freehan that could not be understood through his numbers, and how should that impact our evaluation of him?

Defense.

Now, there are those that feel that defense at catcher is not important, or at least it is overrated. If so, then Ernie Lombardi may be your man. But using RCAP completely ignores the most important aspect of Freehan's game (unless it's incorporating more than I know), and while WARP and Win Shares do incorporate defense--boosting Freehan among more offensive catchers like Schang--statistical analysis of defense, especially catchers, is still iffy. Of course, observation can be iffy too, but as others have argued--and as I believe HW is saying--it is our most reliable resourse until play-by-play. Considering Freehan's defensive reputation--also reflected in WS and WARP (which I believe is being criticized)--along with his solid performance offensively, including a couple of excellent seasons, and I think that he is just below the group Daryn mentioned, likely 15th, and enough above the eligible group of catchers to make my ballot as a strong candidate for election into the HoM.

Of course, what one thinks of WS vs. WARP (the latter having Freehan higher than Bresnahan et. al. than the former) vs. traditional stats, what one thinks of the importance of catcher defense, what one thinks of the eligible catching candidates vs. the eligible candidates at other positions will influence a voter's opinion of Freehan's HoM worthiness. He's near enough to the bubble that I understand a longer look at him before electing him.
   57. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: August 04, 2006 at 08:11 AM (#2126639)
I will say that as apeak voter, the WS portion of my system has him nearly even with Roy Campanella's MLB career. WARp likes him but not quite that much. Still, I must say that Freehan is currently second among my backog, behind only pet candidate Charlie Keller, so no need to convince the guy writing this post Harvey! ;-)

That he would be worse than Lombardi and Schang is kinda odd to me. Career rate stats like OPS+ and RCAP don't reflect the fact that Freehan was an Iron Man (for a catcher, he wasn't Cal) who gave his team's a lot more value in-season than the other those two. For a peak guy this really matters.

My ballot is very catcher heavy with Freehan and Trouppe on this year, E. Howard at #16 in a busy year (usually on ballot), and Bresnahan at either #20 or 21. I was worried about this but I think it is due more to a lack of catcher in the HOM and the election of Biz Mackey, whom I don't really like that much. Still, with Simmons and Torre coming up am I possibly overrating catchers?
   58. baudib Posted: August 04, 2006 at 10:46 AM (#2126655)
OK what exactly makes Freehan convincingly better than Wally Schang?
   59. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 04, 2006 at 01:25 PM (#2126733)
OK what exactly makes Freehan convincingly better than Wally Schang?


In the years in which Schang was primarily a catcher, he was never in the top three in the league in games caught. Also, from the evidence, Schang wasn't a particularly good defensive catcher (which might be part of the reason why he spent a lot of time at other positions, especially pre-1920); he had relatively low ratios of assists to errors and double plays to errors, which is what I use as an indicator for catchers. His contemporary Schalk, for example, recognized as an outatanding defensive catcher, had 10.34 assists per error, and 1.29 DP per error. Schang had 6.37 assists per error and 0.67 DP per error - plus Schang had 33 more passed balls than Schalk, in nearly 300 fewer games caught.

-- MWE
   60. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2126777)
Currently I have Freehan around 15th. 16th actually.

Catchers tend to lose out on Keltner-list types of things because they play about 80% as much as regulars, and so it's often hard to make cases for them as best on team or best in league or whatever. But what about just among catchers? Well, Freehan was the best catcher in his league, by WS, five times. He was the second best catcher (or equivalent in expanded leagues) by WS four times. AND he was the second-best 1B in his league once. That's an excellent record. Here's a little comparison chart

HIGH RANKS AT CATCHER ONLY

NAME    LED 2ND 
(OR EQUIV)
---------------------------
Berra    13   0    
Hartnett 10   2
Carter    9   2
Cochrane  9   1
Piazza    9   1
Campy     7   0
Dickey    7   7
I
-Rod     7   4
Ewing     6   1
Bench     5   5
Fisk      5   9
Freehan   5   4 


Freehan is in the lower part of this group, but he's pretty obviously a member of this group in good standing.

Another related keltner-type question: was he ever the best player at his position? I like to answer by using three-year increments. The idea being that few players just come into the league, or switch to a position and suddenly are the best. It takes time to build consensus about who is best, and three years is probably long enough to not be a fluky two-year peak (see the Hundleys) but also not long enough to dilute true peaks. I measure players against the standard of their own league this way

=AVERAGE(MVP%n-2, MVP%n-1, MVP%n)

where MVP% is simply (Player's WS / Highest WS total by position player), subject to the following stipulations
a) player played majority or plurality of his games each season at the position in question (I allow for cross pollination of RF and LF and for CF to move to RF, LF, otherwise no cross-positional hijinx)
b) player took the field for at least one game each season
c) player played in a reciprocal league each year (so AL=NL and PL=NL, but FL, AA, and UL do not = NL or PL, except that NL can be credited in AA just not vise verse; the reason why is that I still don't have a firm sense of the AA's QOP vs NL/PL)

I also keep track of who finishes within 5% and 10% of the leaders since no system's perfect.

I know that's a lot of stipulations, but, well, it makes sense if you actually go through the exercise. Anyway, we can all come up with a system like this, but I suspect the results of each system would be so similar that it wouldn't be much worth arguing over partiuclars. Or i could be wrong!

By this method Freehan is the AL's best catcher for the six-year period 1966-1971, and he's within 5% of the best catcher for 1972. That's a demonstrably long period of sustained excellence. How many other catchers have a six-year run like Freehan's?

AL
-----------------
Cochrane 1928-1935
Dickey 1936-1943
Berra 1949-1960
Munson 1972-1977
I-Rod 1996-2001
(Posada's currently working on a four-year streak)

NL
----------------
Hartnett 1926-1938
Campanella 1950-1955
Bench 1970-1976
Carter 1980-1988
Piazza 1995-2000

That's it. Ten guys. That's how good Freehan's peak prime was. And he wasn't chopped liver after that either. That year as the second best 1B was 1974, very late in his career.

In terms of the absolute number of three-year periods in which a catcher led his position, here's another chart

CATCHERS LEADING IN THREE-YEAR PERIODS

NAME    LED   5
%  10%
----------------------
Hartnett 13   1    1
Berra    12   0    0
Carter    9   1    0
Cochrane  8   0    1
Dickey    8   0    0
Piazza    8   0    0 
Bench     7   0    1
Campy     6   0    1
Freehan   6   1    0
Munson    6   0    0
I
-Rod     6   1    0 


Again, he's among the top bunch. The big question then is who were his contemporaries? With the SBE's help, I ran the top 25 catchers sorted by Games from 1960-1978:
1    Tim McCarver               1686   
2    Bill Freehan               1644   
3    Johnny Bench               1633   
4    Johnny Edwards             1470   
5    Jerry Grote                1397   
6    Thurman Munson             1326   
7    John Roseboro              1318   
8    Ted Simmons                1296   
9    Tom Haller                 1294   
10   Manny Sanguillen           1260   
11   Joe Torre                  1196   
12   Clay Dalrymple             1079   
13   Elston Howard              1072   
14   Randy Hundley              1061   
15   John Bateman               1017   
16   Earl Battey                 990   
17   Andy Etchebarren            948   
18   Bob Rodgers                 932   
19   Dave Duncan                 929   
20   Joe Azcue                   909   
21   Ray Fosse                   905   
22   George Mitterwald           887   
23   Paul Casanova               859   
24   Phil Roof                   857   
25   Carlton Fisk                856 


The AL guys are not amazing. His main competition was Battey and the beginninggs and ends of Fisk/Munson and Howard. I would hold dominating a weak field against him, except that throughout much of baseball's history, there's only been one or two good catchers in the league at once. Furthermore, it wasn't til the late 60s and 70s that the bumper crop of catchers really took off, so Freehan was essentially at the tail end of the weak-sister-catcher era. Also mitigating that is the fact that Freehan gave several performances at his peak that were of MVP caliber, so he was not only succeeding at his own position, but also among all positions.

He's a very strong candidate, and I should probably rank him higher than I do.
   61. yest Posted: August 04, 2006 at 02:38 PM (#2126816)
I have Freehan 14th among catchers
   62. Chris Cobb Posted: August 04, 2006 at 02:41 PM (#2126820)
Dr. Chaleeko,

Would it be too much trouble for you to post similar rank-at-position numbers for Bresnahan, Schang, Howard, and Lombardi? It's helpful to see that Freehan does well by these metrics, if slightly less well than the catchers who would make up the consensus All-Time top 10 through 1982. But it would also be helpful to see how he does in comparison to the other major-league catchers against whom he is competing for support.
   63. yest Posted: August 04, 2006 at 02:44 PM (#2126823)
I have Freehan 14th among catchers
after (in no purticular order)

Dickey
Berra
Cochrane
Hartnett
Fisk
Bench
Ewing
Gibson
Carter
Mackey
White
Torre
Campanella
   64. Ardo Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:10 PM (#2126858)
Just by eyeballing, our defensive metrics tell the difference between excellent, good, and poor play at 2B, SS, 3B, and the outfield. They leave a glaring gap at 1B and C. Bill Freehan was a superb defensive catcher. That he hits even in the neighborhood of Schang and Lombardi is a strong HoM argument in his favor.

I, too, have Freehan 15th or so among all catchers, but I feel that the electorate is shorting catchers as a whole. I have Freehan 4th, Schang 6th, Trouppe 9th, plus Ellie Howard and Ernie Lombardi in my top 30.
   65. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#2126885)
Chris, no problem. But let me add that I didn't add them to the lists above because none finished as high on those lists than Freehan.

Here goes

HIGH RANKS AT CATCHER ONLY

NAME    LED 2ND 
(OR EQUIV)
---------------------------
Berra    13   0    
Hartnett 10   2
Carter    9   2
Cochrane  9   1
Piazza    9   1
Campy     7   0
Dickey    7   7
I
-Rod     7   4
Ewing     6   1
Bench     5   5
Fisk      5   9
Freehan   5   4 
Schang    4   4
Lombardi  4   3
Bresnahan 3   2 
(also 1 in cf)
E Howard  3   1 (also 1 at 1B


CATCHERS LEADING IN THREE-YEAR PERIODS

NAME    LED   5
%  10%
----------------------
Hartnett 13   1    1
Berra    12   0    0
Carter    9   1    0
Cochrane  8   0    1
Dickey    8   0    0
Piazza    8   0    0 
Bench     7   0    1
Campy     6   0    1
Freehan   6   1    0
Munson    6   0    0
I
-Rod     6   1    0 
Schang    3   0    2   
Howard    3   0    1
Bresnahan 3   0    0
Lombardi  2   2    3 
   66. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:44 PM (#2126893)
The only guy I would slot ahead of Freehan is Quincy Trouppe. He would have outperformed Ernie Lombardi and Walker Cooper.

All-star catchers from 1933-1947 (Trouppe's prime)
year STARTERS backups
1933 JIMMIE WILSON, RICK FERRELL, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett
1934 BILL DICKEY, GABBY HARTNETT, Rick Ferrell, Mickey Cochrane, Al Lopez
1935 JIMMIE WILSON, ROLLIE HELMSLEY, Gabby Hartnett, Gus Mancuso, Rick Ferrell, Mickey Cochrane
1936 RICK FERRELL, GABBY HARTNETT, Bill Dickey, Rollie Helmsley, Ernie Lombardi
1937 GABBY HARTNETT, BILL DICKEY, Ernie Lombardi, Gus Mancuso, Rick Ferrell, Luke Sewell
1938 BILL DICKEY, ERNIE LOMBARDI, Rick Ferrell, Rudy York, Gabby Hartnett, Harry Danning, Babe Phelps
1939 ERNIE LOMBARDI, BILL DICKEY, Harry Danning, Babe Phelps, Rollie Helmsley, Frankie Hayes
1940 BILL DICKEY, ERNIE LOMBARDI, Frankie Hayes, Rollie Helmsley, Harry Danning, Babe Phelps
1941 MICKEY OWEN, BILL DICKEY, Harry Danning, Al Lopez, Birdie Tebbetts, Frankie Hayes
1942 WALKER COOPER, BIRDIE TEBBETTS, Bill Dickey, Buddy Rosar, Hal Wagner, Ernie Lombardi, Mickey Owen
1943 WALKER COOPER, JAKE EARLY, Ernie Lombardi, Mickey Owen, Bill Dickey, Buddy Rosar
1944 ROLLIE HELMSLEY, WALKER COOPER, Rick Ferrell, Frankie Hayes, Ray Mueller, Mickey Owen
1945 Ernie Lombardi, Rick Ferrell, Ken O'Dea, Phil Masi, Frankie Hayes, Mike Tresh
1946 WALKER COOPER, FRANKIE HAYES, Ray Lamanno, Phil Masi, Bill Dickey, Buddy Rosar, Hal Wagner
1947 WALKER COOPER, BUDDY ROSAR, Jim Hegan, Aaron Robinson, Bruce Edwards, Phil Masi
   67. Paul Wendt Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#2126897)
[single seasons as "best"]
. . .
Ewing 6 1
Bench 5 5
Fisk 5 9
Freehan 5 4

Freehan is in the lower part of this group, but he's pretty obviously a member of this group in good standing.


That isn't clear without covering the fours: extending the table to catchers with four single seasons as best.

[three-years runs as "best"]
<i>
----------------------
Hartnett 13   1    1
Berra    12   0    0
Carter    9   1    0
Cochrane  8   0    1
Dickey    8   0    0
Piazza    8   0    0
Bench     7   0    1
Campy     6   0    1
Campy     6   0    1
Freehan   6   1    0
Munson    6   0    0
I
-Rod     6   1    0 


Again, he's among the top bunch. The big question then is who were his contemporaries?<i>

First, what about the fives? Do the fives support calling the group from 13 down to 6 "the top bunch"? I expect not.
   68. Juan V Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2126906)
I´m starting to feel I must be missing something on him.
   69. sunnyday2 Posted: August 04, 2006 at 03:54 PM (#2126910)
Among ML catchers based on Reputation Monitor, which totes up WS, WARP, TPT, HF Monitor and Standards, OPS+ and some other things (a total of 200 is basically a HoF lock, 175-200 a strong candidate, 150-175 with special circumstances (catchers almost by definition have special circumstances), <150 not a good HoF selection/candidate):

Berry 303
Bench 286
Carter 277
Fisk 250
Hartnett 245
Campanella 245
Dickey 244
Cochrane 232--8 inner circle catchers (oh, I have not yet rated active players)

Ewing 196
Munson 181--much underrated, thx to Doc for spotlighting him a bit
Simmons 176
Freehan 176--#12

Torre 168--this is his career total including at other positions; I give a catcher bonus BTW and Torre does not collect all of it
Lombardi 165
Bresnahan 161
Bennett 158--for catchers, this is basically in the in/out line

Howard 146
W. Cooper 141
Clements 138
Crandall 132--rounding out the top 20

Schalk is #21 at 127
Schang is #22 at 124--not enough peak
Ferrell is #26 at 119

Of course, the Reputation Monitor was created to predict HoF voting, so it's not strictly an evaluation system and it doesn't strictly govern my HoM voting, but it's the most comprehensive rating that I have to refer to quickly (like this). It does clearly put Freehan forward as a viable HoM candidate. It also singles out Simmons and Munson among the more recent eligibles, even ahead of Torre who to some degree suffers from Bresnahan's Disease.
   70. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 04:11 PM (#2126933)
Add Gibson and Santop to make 10 Inner Circle catchers.
   71. Daryn Posted: August 04, 2006 at 04:19 PM (#2126942)
Yest, you don't have Piazza and Irod in your top 14 catchers of all-time? Since you are including Carter in your list, you can't be excluding them because it is "1982".

The consensus seems to be that Freehan is in that 16-20 group. The more important question is whether that group ought to be honoured by the HoM. I think not.
   72. sunnyday2 Posted: August 04, 2006 at 04:40 PM (#2126964)
>Add Gibson and Santop to make 10 Inner Circle catchers

I would agree with that.

Plus Ewing makes 11.

Then add Mackey to the next group of Munson, Simmons, Freehan, Torre, Lombardi, Bresnahan and Bennett. (I already have Bennett in my PHoM and don't regret it but that doesn't mean he isn't about the 18th best catcher.)

I don't think the question is whether to honor the whole group, however. Drawing the line somewhere within the group calls for a thin line, to be sure, but that doesn't mean it can't be drawn (spoken as somebody who has Gordon but not Doerr PHoM). The other question is whether 11 catchers is enough.
   73. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2126990)
The consensus seems to be that Freehan is in that 16-20 group. The more important question is whether that group ought to be honoured by the HoM. I think not.

The other question is whether 11 catchers is enough.


A similar pair of questions/sentiments.

I don't think 11 is enough. As I've oft mentioned, I'm a believer in a healthy but not absolute dose of positional balance. 11 would exceed the boundaries of resonableness in my frame of mind. 11 catchers, and, what, 29 LFs? I think a more resonable total for catchers is likely 15 and up. In which instance, Daryn's point is well taken.

But then we need to ask, is the 16th best catcher more HOMable than the Xth player at another position? If you see catching as an historical weak-sister position you'll say yes. If you see it as basically having parity with other positions, maybe not. I can see very strong arguments for not having absolute parity between catcher and the other positions due to its laughable weakness in the period roughly described as post-Ewing but pre-Hartnett. There's a big gulf there. But on the other hand, there are similar gulfs at other positions throughout history, so maybe not.

The HOM would, mathematically, achieve positional balance at around 20-21 guys per posiiton (assuming about 30% pitcher representation). So that's four or five guys going to other positions. So my question for Daryn would be Why are the bottom-tier HOMable catchers less deserving of that slot than the sub-bottom-tier outfielders we'd be likely to elect instead (i.e.: probably Kiner, Minoso, Williams, Keller, GVH, and later arrivals we haven't seen yet)?

I'll add that the third basemen are very interested in this question too.
   74. TomH Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2127011)
Doc C's "WS best in league" analysis shows that Frehehan is an all-time MLB top 15 catcher.
Mike Webber's RCAP analysis has him no better than 25th.
Huh?

methinks this:
on the ONE hand, using 'most WS per year' will overrate guys who play the most, since WS has a very high baseline merely for showing up and playing catcher. You could hit .180 and still get win shares. Brad Ausmus picks up 9 win shares a year in his worst (630 OPS) seasons of 400 AB. Freehan was very durable, so he gets a boost here. Also, you get no credit for being decent for a long time (career length), which Freehan doesn't have as much of as some guys.

on the OTHER hand, RCAP measures above 'average', and certainly there is value to catching games if if you're a below-avg hitter, so this underrtaes the durable guys like Freehan. AND underrates great defenders like Freehan and Bench and I-Rod.

the "real" answer I 'spose is somewhere in between the two
   75. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#2127015)
Assume 32% pitchers (from another discussion). That's 176 position players. 176/8 = 22. The top 20 of whatever position ought to be honored. I agree, Freehan is right on the bubble.
   76. Juan V Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2127026)
About third basemen... I don`t know. Througout history, a lot of players manning the hot corner have only stayed there for a while, during their trip across the defensive spectrum. This means that there are less career 3Bmen (and therefore, less meritable 3bmen).

Catchers are a different matter. On the surface, they would seem to be less meritable as a group, because of the attrittion caused by the position, but we are accounting for that. I don`t know whether 15 or 20 catchers is enough (that would depend on the merits of the 20-25 range of outfielders at each position, as noted above), but I agree that 11 is too little.

I`ve started preliminary work on the 1983 ballot. Right now, I`m thinking Torre at (or very close to) #1, and Trouppe somwhere in the top half. I had Freehan in my 25-30 range in 1982, but I will review him in light of this discussion (and considering the upcoming backlog years).
   77. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:38 PM (#2127067)
The 11 all star games look shiny but Freehan only has 7 seasons above 5.0 WARP. Ken Boyer has 7 seasons above 8.0 WARP.
   78. Daryn Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2127095)
So my question for Daryn would be Why are the bottom-tier HOMable catchers less deserving of that slot than the sub-bottom-tier outfielders we'd be likely to elect instead (i.e.: probably Kiner, Minoso, Williams, Keller, GVH, and later arrivals we haven't seen yet)?

The simple answer is that I take each player on a case by case basis and use the positional quotas as a sanity check. I have the exact same view as you about the number of catchers. If their "quota" should be about 20 (I prefer a few more pitchers than you do) I'm not very comfortable with fewer than 15 or more than 25 (75 for the outfield which I treat as a group) for any position. But if I really thought that the 13th best thirdbaseman was, for example, as good as Gary Gaetti, I'd only have 12 thirdbasemen in my pHoM.

On your specific comps, I interestingly have Freehan at 19 on my ballot, behind Kiner, GVH and Williams and ahead of Minoso and Keller. All but Keller are in my top 30.
   79. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2127099)
Yest, you don't have Piazza and Irod in your top 14 catchers of all-time?


I can see a defensive argument for downgrading Piazza - and I'd guess yest has taken that into account, although I think that Sean Forman's work shows that Piazza has a couple of positive defensive markers, too - but Pudge has been strong both offensively and defensively.

-- MWE
   80. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2127102)
Freehan is right on the bubble.

Assuming you have him at 20, then? If he's at 15-16 as is generally been bandied about on this thread shouldn't he be above the bubble?
   81. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 05:53 PM (#2127108)
Freehan is right on the bubble.

Assuming you have him at 20, then? If he's at 15-16 as is generally been bandied about on this thread shouldn't he be above the bubble?
   82. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#2127143)
I haven't checked thoroughly but he's between 18 and 22.
   83. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 06:12 PM (#2127150)
that question was so important to me i asked it twice!
   84. sunnyday2 Posted: August 04, 2006 at 06:24 PM (#2127170)
I don't rate active players but my gut is that Piazza is probably near the middle of the inner circulars (1-8) while Pudge is near if not at the top of the non-inner circulars, which means IOW about #9-12. And Mike Lieberthal....
   85. Dizzypaco Posted: August 04, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#2127185)
I can see a defensive argument for downgrading Piazza - and I'd guess yest has taken that into account, although I think that Sean Forman's work shows that Piazza has a couple of positive defensive markers, too - but Pudge has been strong both offensively and defensively.

Piazza is pretty clearly the greatest offensive catcher who played in the major leagues, so if you have him lower than #1, or at least two or three, you are already downgrading him for defense. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Most people who would have him 4 or 5 are already making those adjustments. To place him out of the inner circle, out of the top eight to ten is to put an extreme weight on defense, and certainly not one that is supported by any statistical evidence.
   86. DL from MN Posted: August 04, 2006 at 06:52 PM (#2127222)
At the risk of filling the Freehan thread, who was the better offensive catcher, Mike Piazza or Josh Gibson? I'll take Gibson even with the early death.
   87. sunnyday2 Posted: August 04, 2006 at 07:30 PM (#2127275)
Probably Gibson who was generally regarded as the greatest offensive player of his day, period. Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher ever in the ML (I agree) but I don't think anybody ever said he was the greatest offensive player, period, of his day. (Yes, I "downgrade" him to mid-inner circle because I regard catcher defensive as pretty darn important. But no way can he be downgraded out of the inner circle, IMO.)
   88. yest Posted: August 04, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2127289)
I can see a defensive argument for downgrading Piazza - and I'd guess yest has taken that into account,
I downgrade Pizza because of his lousy defense (which I value highley seen by Schalk making my PHOM) and think his stats don't show enough (based on watching him (that's what you get for living with a met fan) how bad he is (though I might be under rating his defense due to seeing mostly with the mets)


but Pudge has been strong both offensively and defensively.
Jose Canseaco
   89. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 08:28 PM (#2127347)
Speaking of Piazza...

[hijak]

Which confirmation of rampant speculation about Mike Piazza would MLB find more discomfitting?
a) He's a steroid user.
b) He's gay.

[/hijak]
   90. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 04, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2127348)
I downgrade Pizza

You can downgrade certain foods, yest, but not pizza!

;-)
   91. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 04, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2127350)
sorry, bad wording, i don't think piazza has been the speculation of much 'roid talk.
   92. Daryn Posted: August 04, 2006 at 08:56 PM (#2127383)
How come Schalk is not on your list yest?
   93. yest Posted: August 04, 2006 at 09:27 PM (#2127413)
Freehan's better power is the key and it's not like he was a slouch with the glove
   94. jimd Posted: August 04, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2127466)
IIRC, the HOM will have 228 members after the 2007 election
(which is when this enterprise shifts from biweekly to annual elections).

A target of 30% pitchers yields 68 pitchers.
Which leaves 160 slots for position players, or 20 per position.
(That works out neatly.)

Calculating a little variance...

Positions: 20 +/- 4.3
"Arms" (sp,rp): 68 +/- 6.9
"Bats" (1b,lf,rf,cf): 80 +/- 7.2
"Gloves" (ca,ss,2b,3b): the same

It'll be interesting to see how close the 2007 result fits within those parameters.
   95. Brent Posted: August 05, 2006 at 03:18 AM (#2128158)
Which leaves 160 slots for position players, or 20 per position.

Here's another way to do the calculations, taking account of the fact that decisions have already been made for the first two-thirds of the HoM.

From 1983 to 2007 we will elect be electing 70 players.
30% pitchers would be 21.
Which leaves 49 position players, or about 6 per position. So assuming positional balance going forward, about 6 more catchers should be elected.

a) Will any catchers from the current backlog make it?
It's possible, but unlikely. Last election, the top ranked catchers were Trouppe (# 21) and Bresnahan (# 27). In addition, Schang, Lombardi, and Howard received some support (from 7 or fewer voters each). In the coming elections we will be dipping pretty far into the backlog, but probably not as far as # 21. So unless one of these catchers starts picking up support relative to the rest of the backlog, they're unlikely to be elected.

b) Will Freehan do better than the current backlog?
Hopefully I won't be accused of prematurely giving away election results if I project that yes, Freehan will place higher than # 21.

c) Assuming Freehan isn't elected right away, what other catchers will Freehan be competing with?
Between now and 2007, the leading catchers who will become eligible are Joe Torre, Thurman Munson, Johnny Bench, Ted Simmons, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk. I suppose we could also mention Darrell Porter, Lance Parrish, and Bob Boone, but I don't expect any of them to receive much support.

Bench, Carter, and Fisk are certain to be elected; so (assuming positional balance going forward) that leaves Freehan, Torre, Munson, and Simmons to compete for the other 3 catcher slots. Rankings of these four will vary depending on how much each voter values offense vs. defense and peak vs. career. However, I doubt that Freehan will come out fourth for most voters. So, confirming the discussion above, Freehan is probably a HoMer, but he's very close to the in-out line.
   96. Paul Wendt Posted: August 05, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2128367)
sunnyday2 #75
> Add Gibson and Santop to make 10 Inner Circle catchers

I would agree with that.

Plus Ewing makes 11.


I agree that the consensus is something like that.

Note, at the catcher position, there is a tendency to consider only the "inner circle" worthy of the Hall of Merit. Alternatively, there is a tendency to see everyone in the Hall of Merit as inner circle, but the other wa of saying it is truer, given the relatively small number of catchers in the HOM.

Offhand, I guess that many people imagine lists of "inner circle" catchers and HOM catchers in numerical ratio about 2/3 to 1, whereas at some other positions that ratio is less than 1/3 to 1.

If we somehow determined a consensus "inner circle" at the end of the project, we might find that there are fewer catchers in the HOM but more catchers in the inner circle, although it is too much to hope that the position would rank literally last in HOM and first (beside pitchers) in inner circle.
   97. fra paolo Posted: September 07, 2006 at 10:58 PM (#2170893)
I've been looking at passed balls and stealing. Here's some figures for comparison. They are
treated like OPS+. I checked league totals and compared what Elston Howard and Bill Freehan
managed relative to their leagues. In the case of PB, I created a pb/9 innings ratio.

<pre>Howard
1964
   98. fra paolo Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:08 PM (#2170902)
I've been looking at passed balls and stealing for Freehan's prime. Here's some figures for comparison. They are
treated like OPS+. I checked league totals and compared what Elston Howard and Bill Freehan
managed relative to their leagues. In the case of PB, I created a pb/9 innings ratio, so it works
in reverse, with a good number being low.

Howard   pb/9      CS%
1958      38       102
1959      90       161
1960     101       129
1961      70       142
1962      48       155
1963      67       127
1964      48       135

Freehan  pb/9      CS%
1967      113       86
1968       50      102
1969       61       89
1970       74      122
1971       45       92
1972       81       97
1973       38      113
1974       99       90

Freehan's fielding is considered his strength, but Howard is about as good in guarding
against the passed ball, and is considerably better at stopping the running game. He might
be helped by his pitchers in the latter case.

The big argument in favouring Freehan over Howard is innings played as catcher. With one extra season, Freehan
has 1800 more defensive innings, which is more like two seasons' advantage.
   99. fra paolo Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:11 PM (#2170904)
Hmm, I'm not sure what's happened here. I accidentally tabbed, and ended up posting an early version.
   100. DavidFoss Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:11 PM (#2170905)
scroll-to-page-two-bump
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