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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Bill Monroe

A thread for Bill Monroe info . . .

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 26, 2004 at 07:41 AM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Chris Cobb Posted: May 26, 2004 at 04:46 PM (#645384)
Here's all the data on Bill Monroe from Holway and Riley.

Monroe
1903 3-11 vs. Cuban X-Giants in 7-game playoff
1904 0-7 vs. Cuban X-Giants in 3-game playoff
1905 2-8 vs. Brooklyn Royal Giants in 3-game playoff
1906 listed as hitting .500 for Brooklyn Royal Giants in possibly 4 documented games
1906 18-51 in Cuban Play
1907 23-77 in Cuban Play
1908 11-47 in Cuban Play
1908 2-4 vs. Cincinnati Reds in Cuba (and Royal Giants win their game against Reds)
1909 6-8 vs. unidentified competition
1910 .171, no games or ab listed for Brooklyn Royal Giants
1911 11-37 vs. black & Cuban teams
1912 .208 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants
1913 .268 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants
1914 .239 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants

Totals
52-175 .297 in Cuban Play
22-71.310 in "negro-league" play
2-4 vs. major league competition

76-250 .304 total

Riley lists a .333 average for Monroe in Cuban in 1908, and a .348 average for Monroe against all competition in 1914.


Brief Analysis -- this data is a lot sketchier than what we have for Frank Grant, Grant Johnson, or Pete Hill, but I don't see anything here that suggest Monroe was as good a hitter as any of those three.
   2. Jeff M Posted: May 26, 2004 at 05:23 PM (#645447)
Reality is that we can't use numbers to compare Monroe and Grant, because we don't know what the rest of the league was doing. Monroe was undoubtedly facing better competition. Monroe also played mostly deadball.

The anecdotal evidence certainly suggests that Monroe was as good as Grant.
   3. PhillyBooster Posted: May 26, 2004 at 05:55 PM (#645508)
Continuing from the ballot thread, my primary concern with Monroe is: was he ever the undisputed star of his team? Was he ever lured away from one team by another? Did the luring team ride him to a pennant? I see limited numbers, and I see testimonials by those who though he was "great". In a yes/no voting system, I see nothing to make me vote "no", but in a ranking system, I also don't see anything that would convince me to rank him over Hill or Foster (or Childs or Evers.)
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: May 26, 2004 at 06:06 PM (#645536)
KJOK's MLEs for Monroe

If I was at my own computer I'd paste in more of this, but here are some highlights.

Career: 7500 AB, 575 XBH, .311 BA, .380 OBP, .440 SA, 1258 RC, 1147 RBI

For comparison, HR Johnson

7500 AB, 850 XBH, 1326 RBI, 1460 RC, .308/.390/.501

For Grant we only have 5 seasons--1st 2, last 3, but compare Grant's 1st 2 and last 3 with Monroe's 1st 2 and last 3:

Grant .280/.345/.424
Monroe .303/.379/.414

Now I take all of this with a grain of salt (and a 20 percent discount), but hey, it's something. Also considering the rankings and voting in Cool Papas, I just don't see a basis to say Grant and Monroe were substantially different caliber of players.
   5. Jim Sp Posted: May 26, 2004 at 06:16 PM (#645566)
I had Monroe ahead of Grant as well, based heavily on Riley. I suspect the electorate liked the fact that Grant had IL stats. Based on the lack of support for Monroe, I've been keeping him around the bottom of my ballot, figuring that others knew more...this year I think I'll bump him up to about #8.
   6. Buford J. Sharkley Posted: June 01, 2004 at 03:57 AM (#652825)
Blue moon over Kentucky, keep on shining....
   7. Jeff M Posted: June 02, 2004 at 02:28 AM (#654304)
<Based on the lack of support for Monroe, I've been keeping him around the bottom of my ballot, figuring that others knew more...this year I think I'll bump him up to about #8. </i>

Personally, I think you always ought to rank a player where you think he belongs, irrespective of what everyone else thinks. That's the whole point of this exercise.

For example, if enough voters took your approach to Monroe, then it would automatically result in lack of support for Monroe. Someone else might see your low ranking and rank Monroe lower because they think you know more than they do about Monroe. And so on. It distorts the picture.

I'm not saying that's what happened with Monroe...just using him as an example.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 09, 2004 at 05:31 PM (#786054)
Chris, do you have numbers for Monroe? Thanks!
   9. Chris Cobb Posted: August 13, 2004 at 01:45 AM (#794301)
John, I'm not sure what kind of numbers you were looking for. Here are all the data on Monroe from Holway and Riley. If you are looking for i9s conversions and estimated win shares, I have not worked those up for Monroe. The available data just don't give me confidence in the i9s projections.

Monroe Data

From Holway
1903 .273, 3-11 vs. Cuban X-Giants in 7-game playoff
1904 .000, 0-7 vs. Cuban X-Giants in 3-game playoff
1905 .250 2-8 vs. Brooklyn Royal Giants in 3-game playoff
1906 .500 for Brooklyn Royal Giants in possibly 4 documented games
1906 18-51 in Cuban Play
1907 23-77 in Cuban Play
1908 11-47 in Cuban Play
1908 2-4 vs. Cincinnati Reds in Cuba (and Royal Giants win their game against Reds)
1909 .750, 6-8 vs. unidentified competition
1910 .171, no games or ab listed for Brooklyn Royal Giants; Holway all-star
1911 .297, 11-37 vs. black & Cuban teams; Holway all-star
1912 .208 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants
1913 .268 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants; Holway all-star
1914 .239 no games or ab listed for Chicago American Giants

Totals
.296 – mean avg. for 1903-06, 09-14
52-175 .297 in Cuban Play
22-71.310 in "negro-league" play
2-4 vs. major league competition

76-250 .304 total in all listed at bats

From Riley

Riley lists a .333 average for Monroe in Cuban in 1908, and a .348 average for Monroe against all competition in 1914.

That's everything I have.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 13, 2004 at 02:36 AM (#794432)
If you are looking for i9s conversions and estimated win shares, I have not worked those up for Monroe. The available data just don't give me confidence in the i9s projections.

The i9s conversions were what I was looking for, Chris. Sorry for not making myself clearer. Thank you for the info above.
   11. Chris Cobb Posted: August 13, 2004 at 02:50 AM (#794459)
John,

Sorry that I haven't done i9s conversions, but when all the data that I have seen on Monroe has him hitting about .300 vs. Negro-League competition for his career, and i9s has him hitting .312 vs. major-league competition for his career, I just can't accept it, and I'm not going to take the time to calculate numbers that I won't use and would discourage anyone else from using.

Maybe the i9s folks have data I don't (the data I have sure aren't much); maybe there are reasons to see Monroe as playing in hitting conditions much worse than those of the deadball majors. But I haven't seen that indicated for contemporaries like Pete Hill and Grant Johnson, and I don't know why Monroe would receive different treatment.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 13, 2004 at 01:46 PM (#794891)
Sorry that I haven't done i9s conversions, but when all the data that I have seen on Monroe has him hitting about .300 vs. Negro-League competition for his career, and i9s has him hitting .312 vs. major-league competition for his career, I just can't accept it, and I'm not going to take the time to calculate numbers that I won't use and would discourage anyone else from using.

Makes sense to me, Chris. I'm just trying to finalize where Monroe belongs on my ballot instead of just relying on anecdotal evidence.

I appreciate you taking the time for the other conversions, BTW. They have been extremely helpful.
   13. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 14, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2297634)
Gary A's done a lot of work on Cuba, and that work includes Bill Monroe. Here's the data he's come up with.

-In 14 games in 1907 for Fe, Monroe his .353/.431/.452/.882 with a 222 OPS+

The league batted .219/.294/.261/.555 (sans pitchers)

He played 3B, 2B, and LF, about evenly.


-In 1908 as part of the Brookly Royal Giants' tour of the island, Monroe played 15 of 16 games, hitting .232/.283/.268 and playing 3B

The "league" hit .204/.276/.228, so despite the poor-looking stats, he was very much above average.

-Also in 1908, during the Reds tour of the island, Monroe saw two games of action against them (one for BRG, one for a local team): he was 3/8 with a double and a walk, .375/.444/.500 against a backdrop of .212/.287/.260.

-Finally, in the spring of 1908, he also appeared in the early year Habana-based league, going .216/.237/.297 in a .222/.309/.266 league in just eight games. Not so good. He also appeared in a couple games against a non-league opponent: he went 3/9 with a HR. However, gary tells me that there's probably 8 games unaccounted for in his log, which Figuerdo lists in his book.

That's what Gary's got for us. Thanks, Gary!
   14. TomH Posted: February 14, 2007 at 07:33 PM (#2297730)
i9s projections for some deadball guys

player .....AB OBP SLG defense
Monroe. 7500 373 388 2b good
Johnson 7500 382 448 ss/2b fair to good
Lloyd...12000 384 446 ss very good
Hill....... 9700 372 436 lf very good
Poles.... 7400 382 394 cf very good
   15. TomH Posted: February 14, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2297731)
and Alejandro Oms
...AB OBP SLG defense
4900 352 465 lf/cf very good
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2007 at 07:58 PM (#2297753)
Bah, he's no Jim Rice I can tell you that much.

(Insert annoying old man guffaw)
   17. sunnyday2 Posted: February 14, 2007 at 08:22 PM (#2297779)
Here is our 1994 consensus on the NeLers (using the term loosely)--plus, where they are on my ballot and my comments.

But first, the bottom line: As a peak/prime voter, I gotta have E. Howard, Redding, Newk and Easter ahead of Monroe. And when I look at careers, Lundy has to rate ahead of Monroe as well. Oms, too, but by a slim margin; and Estalella, based on some best-case speculation. Monroe may have been just as good as Frank Grant but in 1995 there are just too many guys who look substantially better.

4. Trouppe--I have him #50. He is too similar to Bresnahan and Schang, IMO, to be top 10.

11. Redding--#11, though of course he comes from a time that is very well-represented by pitchers, and is a short peak/prime candidate, though also a long career candidate.

19. Oms--#40. Lots of similar OF, IMO. The numbers is #14 don't cry out "HoM" to me.

(gap)

38. E. Howard--#7. One of those guys who looks as if he had a fair shot in the MLs, but didn't really because of the odd dynamics of the integration era. MLE credit gets him well above the Bresnahans and Schangs and Lombardis and Munsons.

48. Taylor--#73. Too much like Fournier and Beckley and Konetchy.

52. Monroe--#46. About right, not really discernably different than Sol White.

70. Easter--#25. Another guy whose record is just extensive enough to seem conclusive, but isn't.

71. Clarkson--#82. One of those guys I am probably under-rating, as are we all.

75. Newcombe--#22. See E. Howard.

80T. A. Wilson--#94. About right, a lot like the Maranvilles and Bancrofts and even Maury Wills.

88T. Matlock--not rated. Maybe I missed him, but I never was an Andy Griffith fan.

(not rated by consensus)

Lundy--#26. A guy who is probably near-ballot for a lot of people but I didn't see any actual votes for him.

Estalella--#42. A tantalizing case. A guy who fell through the cracks in his own day, and in ours.

H. Smith--#51. See Lundy.

M. Williams--#68. See Estalella. I can't believe he wasn't better than Artie Wilson.

My Honorable Mention--Poles, A. Cooper, Luque (another guys whose ML career doesn't tell the whole story; this is probably severely under-rating the guy), S. Garcia, Coimbre, Byrd, S. White, Scales.
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 14, 2007 at 10:54 PM (#2297915)
Bah, he's no Jim Rice I can tell you that much.

(Insert annoying old man guffaw)


:-)

Yeah, but how is Jim Rice with the mandolin, Harvey? :-D
   19. DL from MN Posted: February 15, 2007 at 12:09 AM (#2297978)
> 71. Clarkson--#82. One of those guys I am probably under-rating, as are we all.

He could be our missing second baseman, although he's actually more a utility guy. Anyway, I like Clarkson a lot more than I like Monroe.
   20. sunnyday2 Posted: February 15, 2007 at 12:37 AM (#2298003)
DL, how about Marvin Williams, whom I like better than Clarkson? And don't forget Lundy, of course. For me the remaining NeL IF (2B-SS-3B, but also with the catchers as defense-first) are

1. E. Howard
2. Lundy--by a goodly margin over the rest
X. Bobby Avila--not even in my consideration set anymore, but his name came up the other day and he could just as easily go here, I don't know
3. Monroe
4. Trouppe
5. Williams
6. Clarkson--#3-4-5-6 could easily be in the wrong order, though I think Williams was better
7. A. Wilson--clearly below #3 through #6
8. S. Garcia--could also be way too low, could be up there with Lundy and Avila
9. S. White--pretty indistinguishable from Monroe, but people just kept squeezing in between
10. Scales
   21. OCF Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:05 AM (#2298050)
A week or two ago there was a thread about the impact of integration on baseball. Some detailed questions came up about the placement of various people on one side of the other of what I called the "Estalella line" (with the point about Estalella being that his placement is ambiguous): by pre-Jacky Robinson standards, would he have been considered "white"? In response to a question from me, Steve Treder argued that Beto Avila should be considered as belonging on the "white" side of that line (in the same sense that Dolf Luque was certainly on the "white" side.) Of course, I suspect that sunnyday2 is drawing a different line in a different place: does a significant fraction of this player's history lie outside of Organized Baseball in integrated leagues in Latin America? Leagues in which they would have played against those who were or would have been excluded by color? And that catches at least some fraction of the careers of both Avila and Luque.
   22. Chris Cobb Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2298066)
Using Gary A's data provided by Eric above, I get a "Cuban play" OPS+ for Bill Monroe of about 156 in 39 games, which isn't half shabby.

We don't have an estimate of competition levels in the Cuban Leagues pre-1910, as we do for the 1911-14 period, when white Cubans were playing in both the majors and the CWL, but, taking a .87/.75 conversion rate and a .9/.82 conversion rate as endpoints, Bill Monroe's MLE OPS+ for those 39 games would be somewhere between 105 and 120 (2 games, of course are against ML competition and shouldn't be pro-rated).

It would be good to compare Monroe's figures here to those that we calculated for Grant Johnson, John Henry Lloyd, Cristobal Torriente, and Spotswood Poles for the 1911-14 period. Does anyone have those handy?

Incidentally, here are the OPS+ scores of the 16 starting second basemen in 1908. It appears to have been a very strong offensive season for the position:

159 (Jim Delahanty in a half season)
144 (Johnny Evers' career year)
136 (Nap Lajoie)
135 (Larry Doyle)
121 (Claude Ritchie's last hurrah)
118 (Amby McConnell's flash in the pan)
115 (Harry Niles' flash in the pan)
113 (Danny Murphy, on his way to the outfield to make room for Eddie Collins)
108 (Ed Abbaticchio's last good year)
104 (Jimmy Williams' last good year)
97 (Miller Huggins having a down year)
84 (Otto Knabe, having the kind of typical year that would help him hold down the Phillies' 2B job for the next five years)
81 (George Davis's last year as a regular)
74 (Harry Pattee, making his one stop in the majors with Brooklyn)
68 (Billy Gilbert, proving he really was done)
67 (Red Downs, who was proving himself not to be Detroit's second base solution)

So, Monroe sure looks he could have helped a lot of major league teams in 1908, and given his defensive rep, he would have been among the top quarter of ML second basemen. These aren't the kind of offensive numbers that make him look like a sure-fire HoMer, but they don't hurt his case.
   23. DL from MN Posted: February 15, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2298277)
Lundy looks like Rizzuto and Fox to me, not enough bat. I like Clarkson's hitting numbers best of the lot. Marvin Williams is in my top 100 as is Monroe.
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:40 PM (#2404956)
Marc sunnyday2 rebuts TomH in "2000 Ballot"
2. 2B. At 2B I just like Doyle's bat for a time when that was what 2Bs were asked to bring. He hit like a backlog corner. Meanwhile, we just don't know much about Monroe's game though I like Bill Monroe myself. Randolph was a good steady guy who did a bit of everything, but as a peak voter I see Doyle as having been higher up the food chain at his best.

2a. And Rizzuto is probably the best fielding SS available and all the evidence is that he contributed a lot of value. Clearly a better player than Monroe, too.


Not clear. I vote for 2. "We just don't know much about Monroe's game." Anyway, we know a lot more about Larry Doyle's game but I don't think it's clear whether he was a better player than Monroe, or Sol White, or [latterday shortstop] Phil Rizzuto.

Thanks to Gary A<small>gatetype</small>, we can read his obituary and some other tidbits on the web.
William S. Monroe "Monie" d 1915-03-16, Chattanooga TN
Bill Monroe obituary and more

He told the 1910 Census taker
"particular kind of work done by this person": champion
"general nature of the industry": base ball player
   25. Paul Wendt Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:41 PM (#2404957)
What, is that Gary A[small]gatetype[/small]?
   26. Paul Wendt Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:42 PM (#2404958)
Gary A
gatetype 
?
ridiculous!
   27. sunnyday2 Posted: June 15, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2404984)
I could never tell Grant and Monroe and White apart. Whether that makes them all HoMers or none of them is in the eye of the beholder. But I sure couldn't tell you which ONE is the HoMer (that is to say, which one should be).
   28. Brent Posted: June 16, 2007 at 01:27 PM (#2405980)
Thanks to Paul re-opening this thread, I took another look at some of the posts here. Looking at Eric’s post # 13, I realize that, thanks in large part to Gary A, we have the Cuban League contextual information to run the Cuban part of Monroe’s career through the same MLE calculations that I used for Morán and Castillo. The samples are ridiculously small, but if you read the data posted by Chris in # 1 and # 9 you’ll see that there isn’t much else available on Monroe.

For the 1907-08 season, Gary’s data (as cited by Eric) appear to cover only about half of Monroe’s games, so I’ve used Figueredo. Here are Monroe’s actual Cuban statistics.

Cuban League play
Year    Tm      G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR BB HBP SB  Avg  OBP  Slg
1906
-07 Fe     14  51 17 18  0  1  1  4   3  8 .353 .431 .451
1907
-08 Habana 16  72 13 23  2  1  0           .319      .375
Total          30 123 30 41  2  2  1           .333      .407 

Sources: 1906-07, Gary Ashwill at agatetype.typepad.com; 1907-08, Figueredo, Cuban Baseball.
The league averages (excluding pitchers) were .219/.294/.261 and .247/xx/.306.
Monroe’s games by position were
1906-07 – SS-7, 3B-5, LF-2
1907-08 he’s simply listed as an infielder.

In 1908 he took part in a Cuban tour with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, playing 15 games against Almendares and Habana:

Year Tm                     G AB R  H 2B 3B HR BB HBP SB  Avg  OBP  Slg
1908 Brooklyn Royal Giants 15 56 6 13  0  1  0  3   1  5 .232 .283 .268 

Source: Gary Ashwill on agatetype.typepad.com.
All 15 games were played at 3B. The context was .207/.276/.228.

On the same trip he participated in two games against the Cincinnati Reds:

Year Tm                     G AB R H 2B 3B HR BB HBP SB  Avg  OBP  Slg
1908 vs
Major League teams 2  8 3 3  0  0  0  1   0  0 .375 .444 .375 

Source: Gary Ashwill on agatetype.typepad.com
He played 3B both games. The context was .212/.287/.260.

With no data on playing time, based on post # 14 above, I’ll assume 7500 AB (which seems reasonable—I assume his career lasted from 1899–1914, or 16 seasons). Running through the formulas and converting his record to the 1899-1914 NL, we get:

PA     AB    H   TB BB+HBP  Avg  OBP  SLG  OPS
8097 7500 2459 3136    597 .328 .377 .418 .795

Avg   OBP  SLG  OPS 
LgAvg LgOBP LgSLG LgOPS BAOBPSLGOPS
.328 .377 .418 .795 .267  .332  .350  .682  123  114  119  133 


Based on this admittedly small sample, it appears that by not being aware of the Cuban League hitting context, many of us may have been undervaluing Monroe.

What about non-statistical information? Riley’s comments on Monroe’s defense are effulgent with praise. Even after taking these comments with more than a grain of salt, it appears that Monroe was a very well regarded infielder. For example, “he excelled at fielding bunts and was considered to be a better fielder and hitter than his white contemporary at third base, Jimmy Collins”; and “he was called the ‘king of the second basemen,’... and ‘the most sensational player on the American Giants’ team.”

What about his teams? According to Gary, he was probably born about 1877, so his prime was spent with the Cuban X-Giants (1900-02), Philadelphia Giants (1903-06), and Brooklyn Royal Giants (1907-10). During his stay with the X-Giants, they were almost certainly the top team in black baseball. A year after his move to Philadelphia, the Giants dethroned the X-Giants as the top team in the east. Rube Foster and Pete Hill also moved to the city of brotherly love, so we obviously can’t attribute the shift in dynasty entirely to Monroe, but at least we see that he moved in the direction of improving teams. The Royal Giants didn’t win the east until his final season there in 1910, but again, they improved when he moved. With the Chicago American Giants (1910-14), he was in his mid-30s and the batting statistics suggest he was slipping, but again he was playing for a dominant team.

According to Riley, Monroe batted third with the Cuban X-Giants and the Philadelphia Giants, leadoff with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, and cleanup (behind Pete Hill) with the 1911 Chicago American Giants.

Overall, this information suggests that I’ve probably significantly underrated Monroe. I wish we had more statistical information, but a principle I try to follow is to not hold a paucity of statistics against a Negro League player—to downgrade individual players based on the uncertainty due to small samples would have the effect of biasing against the entire class of players.

Is there a case for not placing him high on my ballot?
   29. Brent Posted: June 16, 2007 at 02:17 PM (#2405995)
The MLEs shown above come from 1906-08 when Monroe was probably ages 29 to 31. Therefore, assuming a normal aging pattern, they are probably a little higher than what we'd get from his entire career, but perhaps a little lower than his peak (which typically comes at ages 25-29, i.e., 1902-06).
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: June 16, 2007 at 02:40 PM (#2406003)
Phil S. Dixon has done the entire 1905 Philadelphia Giants season.
Phil Dixon's American Baseball Chronicles, Great Teams, The 1905 Philadelphia Giants, Volume Three
I haven't seen it. I believe I contacted him and learned that he has not done any 19th century teams yet. Internet search turns up one article on Monroe that relies on it.
Bill Monroe at baseball-reference (see also Sol White)

--
Is any HOMster at the (Negro Leagues) Jerry Malloy Conference in Portsmouth VA?
   31. sunnyday2 Posted: June 16, 2007 at 03:07 PM (#2406011)
White, Grant and Monroe all played in the same infield at one time!? Anybody want to try to decipher how they rank on offense and on defense?

For defense, if Grant was at SS and White at 2B, then you'd infer that somebody thought it was 1. Grant, 2. White and 3. Monroe. That of course is just somebody's opinion but presumably a relatively knowledgeable somebody--somebody who saw them play, for sure, which Riley never did.

On offense I have absolutely no clue whatsoever.

For trash talk, apparently it was 1. Monroe but you'd think that White was probably no slouch either.
   32. Brent Posted: June 16, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2406013)
Thanks, Paul. I hadn't seen the BR Bullpen piece. Its mention of injuries in 1902 and 1905 could be a reason to temper my view of his peak.

Most of us have though of Monroe as a second baseman, but it appears he probably played as much at third as second, and also played shortstop (especially when younger). His career apparently followed the track SS -> 3B -> 2B, with a couple of detours (such as a season at 1B) along the way.
   33. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 16, 2007 at 04:29 PM (#2406054)
For defense, if Grant was at SS and White at 2B, then you'd infer that somebody thought it was 1. Grant, 2. White and 3. Monroe. That of course is just somebody's opinion but presumably a relatively knowledgeable somebody--somebody who saw them play, for sure, which Riley never did.

Could there also be evidence that it was Grant (ss) number one, then Monroe (3b), then White.
1) Third base and second base were still 20-30 years from switching importance (at least in MLB).
2) By oral tradition, the NgLs bunted even more than the majors, suggesting a very good fielding 3B might be more important to a team (by perception...and reality?) than a 2B who could really turn it. (Indeed at last year's Malloy conference, Dixon reported on the famous mudball game of 1905(?) in which Rube Foster was reputed to have ordered like 20 bunts on a particularly muddy day, leading to a ton of runs.
3) The NgL's standards for groundskeeping might have been very different than MLB's (which couldn't have been great compared to today's standards). I don't know anything about the grounds, but it's hard to look back on the less-than-organized structure of the NgL schedule (as touring teams and home-field-renters on shoestring budgets) and not wonder if groundskeeping was at best inconsistent among venues or even within them. Who knows if the infields were like meadows or if they were hardpan in most NgL games of that time? Either way, the potential for a variety of conditions might cause a manager to prefer the better fielder at third.
4) Later-on NgL managers prefered defenders at third: Marcelle, Johnson, Dandridge being prime examples of guys who were cited as second shortstops and Dandridge at least actually played some shorstops. This wasn't 100% true (see Jud Wilson, for instance), but the famousest 3Bs of the 1920s-1930s were gloves not bats.

Taken altogether, there's a good chance, IMO, that Monroe migth have been seen as the better defender, but, of course, it's possible the difference was slight.
   34. Paul Wendt Posted: June 16, 2007 at 06:41 PM (#2406181)
Detroit News 1899-09-16 to -29,
I have noted six mentions of two black teams playing in Michigan under three or more names, variously Columbia(n), Cuban, and Cuban X Giants.

There is some confusion by the newspaper. The one team that certainly played one game in Detroit, Sun -09-17 against the barnstorming edition of the Detroit Wolverines/Tigers (WL), is called "Cuban Giants" on Sat and Sun but called "Columbian Giants" on Monday. The fielding lineup printed in advance, Sunday morning(*?), includes 2B Grant, SS White. No box score or significant game detail on Monday. "The colored boys" won 10-8, Nelson pitching, "about 1000 assembled".

One other game score names the batteries: -09-28, "Columbian Giants" at Pontiac -09-27, Wilson & Burns. There is a Wilson (1B) but no Burns among the eleven names printed -09-17.


* six evenings and Sunday morning, I think
   35. Paul Wendt Posted: June 16, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2406194)
Can anyone review this website? (the Johnson obit does not help directly but may be interesting)
Grant Johnson obituary; Negro League Players website
   36. Brent Posted: June 16, 2007 at 10:19 PM (#2406579)
Paul,

In 1899, Holway lists Charlie Grant playing 2B with the Chicago Columbia Giants and Frank Grant playing 2B with the Cuban X-Giants. (Often news reports would omit the "X", which was confusing since the Cuban Giants were still playing. But I guess the "Cuban X-Giants" name was adopted precisely to encourage confusion.) Monroe isn't listed with either team, but rather as the shortstop with the Chicago Unions. My guess is that the team was probably the Columbia Giants (because Monroe was playing in the west that year and a "western" team was more likely to have played in Detroit), and that they "borrowed" Monroe when regular SS Home Run Johnson was hurt or otherwise unavailable.
   37. sunnyday2 Posted: June 17, 2007 at 12:19 AM (#2406678)
And on offense?
   38. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 12:29 AM (#2406681)
Brent,

The Detroit News shows SS "White" (not "Monroe") with 2B "Grant". Yes Charlie Grant (John McGraw's Tokohoma) is possible and there may be White other than Sol. I agree that a colored team from Chicago or New York might include some irregular players on a trip to Michigan.

Anyway it's clear there are two Giants in the state.
-09-16 Games in the State . . . Columbian Giants 15, Cuban Giants 13
-09-16,17 Cuban Giants at Detroit Sunday -09-17 ; fielding lineups announced
-09-18 Columbia Giants 10, Detroit 8 ; very short story
-09-21 Columbia Giants 18, Cuban X 12
-09-28 Columbian Giants 8, Pontiac 1
-09-29 Columbian Giants 9, Ortonsville 6

Some other names in the -09-17 lineup (below) are vaguely familiar to me from Cuban Giants or Cuban X Giants games in New England, 1896, between weekend games in NYC. Eg, there are no first names but first initials for A.Jackson and W.Jackson. That rings a bell and so does sub pitcher Robinson. Here is the entire fielding lineup, arrangement mine.

LCR - W.Jackson, Selden, Jordan
3S21 - A.Jackson, White, Grant, Wilson
P - "Nelson, Howard, or Robinson" (Nelson worked the game)
C - Williams

The depleted and augmented Detroit club is also barnstorming in Michigan during the week before and the week after the Sunday game at home vs Giants. --depleted because the WL season is over; some stars are in the majors, eg Barrett of Detroit and Crawford of Grand Rapids to Cincinnati. --and augmented by a few outsiders
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 12:40 AM (#2406688)
Available for seven days:
C-- Giants at Detroit, Detroit News 1899-09-17/18

On the second of two pages (Monday -09-18), the game story is the last paragraph of "Among the Leagues", easy to miss. "Cronin Is Sold" includes an overview of the depletion of the Detroit WL team.
   40. Brent Posted: June 17, 2007 at 01:19 AM (#2406705)
Brent,

The Detroit News shows SS "White" (not "Monroe") with 2B "Grant".


I'm sorry...on a Bill Monroe threat I must have been thinking of Monroe. Silly me.

According to Holway, Sol White played SS for the Cuban X-Giants in 1899 along with Frank Grant. Others on the X-Giants roster included Bill Jackson, Bill Selden, Bob Jordan, Andrew Jackson, Ed Wilson, John Nelson, Bill Williams.
   41. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 01:41 AM (#2406713)
See the University of Nebraska/Bison Books (1995) Sol White's <u>History of Colored Base Ball</u> with other documents on the early black game 1886-1936. Crucial pages 37-38 by Sol White and perhaps 162-168 (part 16, ie other documents 15) by Bob Davids.

Bare bones from White, p37-38:
"In 1899 the first real championship games between the East and West were played. The Cuban X-Giants the real colored champions of the East journeyed to Chicago. . . . The Cuban X-Giants had Williams, Selden, Nelson, Howard, Wilson, F.Grant, A.Jackson, White, W.Jackson and Jordan." --p37
Those ten match the eleven named above less Robinson.

14 games in/around Chicago - X Giants 9 Unions 5
5 games for championship of Chicago - Columbia Giants 5 Unions 0
11 games "in Chicago and in towns in Michigan" - X Giants 7 Columbia Giants 4
. . .
"[1900] was a great year for the two Western teams from a playing standpoint." The Cuban X-Giants and Genuine Cuban Giants traveled West and got "thrashed" and "walloped" in series with the Unions and Columbia Giants respectively.

Referring to Davids p165-67:
Except Howard, Wilson, Jordan and Robinson the other 7 of 11 names match the personnel of all-black teams in organized baseball 1889-1891, including most first names and some middle initials, compiled by Bob Davids. Eg, five members of the 1891 Cuban Giants, Ansonia, Connecticut State League: Frank Grant 2b, William Jackson 2b-of, John Nelson p-of, Sol White 3b, Clarence Williams c. And four members of the 1890 Monarchs, York PA, Eastern Interstate League: Andrew Jackson 3b, William Jackson c-2b-of, William H. Selden p-of, Sol White 2b-3b. (The short lists of individual black players include p James Robinson in 1894 and c Pete Burns in 1895. So all but Howard and Jordan may be OB veterans known to Davids.)
   42. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 01:51 AM (#2406726)
(Brent, we crossed in the mail.)

Inquiring minds ask for a recount, eh?

#34. One other game score names the batteries: -09-28, "Columbian Giants" at Pontiac -09-27, Wilson & Burns. There is a Wilson (1B) but no Burns among the eleven names printed -09-17.

#41 revised. The short lists of individual black players on integrated teams include p James Robinson in 1894; c Pete Burns and p-of Geo H. Wilson in 1895. So all but Howard and Jordan may be OB veterans known to Davids.

In 1895, P.Burns & G.H.Wilson played together for Adrian, Michigan State League (six blacks on roster among eight known in OB), so I am guessing that they may be the battery for Cuban X-Giants in Pontiac MI four years later.
   43. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 02:15 AM (#2406739)
OK, this is Monie's thread so what does King Solomon say about him in 1906/07?
Relying on the U Nebraska index, ignoring the introduction and appendixes by other authors:

p118 - Monroe first named of 14 "great all-around players [list] and many others", beside 9 named pitchers "who would no doubt land in the big league". Also the veteran catcher Clarence Williams.

85 - portrait photo

74 - "The funny man in colored base ball is becoming extinct. . . . Monroe, third baseman of the Royal Giants of Brooklyn, is the leading fun-maker of the colored profession of today.

That's that (sigh). Twelve other references are all appearances in box scores and lists of year-by-year personnel changes.
(By the way this is a good book.)
   44. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2007 at 02:50 AM (#2406750)
In 1895, P.Burns & G.H.Wilson played together for Adrian, Michigan State League (six blacks on roster among eight known in OB), so I am guessing that they may be the battery for Cuban X-Giants in Pontiac MI four years later.

This is getting far afield but let me retract. Probably that team really is the Columbian Giants from Chicago as the Detroit News says.
   45. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:41 PM (#2408168)
gleaned from Sol White's book plus that 1899 Detroit newspaper article
1891  [1899]  1902   1904   1905   1907
1b                      White  White
2b White  FGrant FGrant CGrant CGrant  CGrant
ss FGrant White  White  Monroe Johnson Lloyd
3b                             Monroe
1907 White rf 
or bench 


In one appendix Dick Clark adds that White played ss in the first season, 2b in the second season of the Philadelphia Giants he helped lead. That would be 1902 and 1903.

Regarding 1889-91, fwiw, it occurs to me that the black teams in white leagues faced the same problem at second base that has been vividly described for Frank Grant as the only white player or one of a few on his team: white baserunners who go for the spikes to shins.

But Bill Monroe didn't have that chance at second base or elsewhere. He first played professionally in 1899 when blacks were entirely out of organized baseball.
   46. TomH Posted: June 26, 2007 at 12:37 PM (#2418193)
from baseballlibrary.com:

Bill Monroe

Monroe was a star infielder during black baseball's early years. An exciting second baseman, he played regularly for top teams, including the Philadelphia Giants (1903-06), losers of the 1903 Black World Series, winners of the 1904 BWS, and the top black club in the East in 1905 and 1906. His stint with the Brooklyn Royal Giants (1906-10) included the 1909 Eastern title. He was with Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants when they claimed the 1913 and 1914 black Western crowns. Chicago then swept Monroe's former Brooklyn team in four straight in the 1914 BWS. Monroe paced a 7-6 third game victory with four hits.
A strong hitter, Monroe usually hit in the middle of the order on strong clubs. He batted .333 in the 1907-08 Cuban Winter League. Rube Foster and Philadelphia Giants manager Sol White considered Monroe capable of stardom in the white major leagues. John McGraw of the New York Giants echoed their sentiments. Monroe died at the age of 38.
   47. Paul Wendt Posted: June 27, 2007 at 11:34 PM (#2420362)
White, Grant and Monroe all played in the same infield at one time!? Anybody want to try to decipher how they rank on offense and on defense?

For defense, if Grant was at SS and White at 2B, then you'd infer that somebody thought it was 1. Grant, 2. White and 3. Monroe. That of course is just somebody's opinion but presumably a relatively knowledgeable somebody--somebody who saw them play, for sure, which Riley never did.


Sol White was the field manager and the leading organizer of the team. He and Frank Grant had played professionally for about 15 years, Monroe for about three. With Monroe coming off injury, Grant on his way out (replaced by Charlie Grant in 1904), and White on his way to the bench via first base, I doubt that the Philadelphia lineups are informative regarding whole-career skills of the trio.

--
Spring 1900 the Columbia Giants and Milwaukee Brewers (AL) scheduled four games for Richmond IN where the Brewers and the local team trained. WHFS April 11-14, five to eight days before planned AL opening day. Unfortunately the first three games were canceled by rain (as many April 1900 games for rain, cold, or wet).

Milwaukee Daily News, Monday 1900-04-16 (none published Sunday) published a simple box score of the Saturday game, Brewers 8 12 1, Giants 4 7 4. The meagre description is a reminder that the infielder's glove was new and not yet much improved and that writers if not fans favored fielding: "Capt. Burke of the Milwaukee team distinguished himself by making two one-handed stops. Conroy and Anderson played well." Both teams used three pitchers, Milwaukee 12 men and the Giants 9 men. Evidently the Giants pitchers played cf-rf-p. HOMers Johnson ss batting first, Grant 2b batting third.
   48. Paul Wendt Posted: June 28, 2007 at 12:03 AM (#2420426)
non-HOM again

Wandering far afield again but FYGE (general education):
The Brewers practiced at home when the first two games at the new ballpark in Chicago were postponed for wet grounds. Connie Mack divided the team in two for a game and both halves used two pitchers, 4-5 innings. It seems that he will retain a surplus for a while although three will stay home for the short opening trip.
   49. burniswright Posted: December 07, 2007 at 09:03 AM (#2637781)
No one has, thus far, mentioned the following anecdotal component of the argument for Monroe (with which I am in substantial agreement): a spokesperson for the folkloric content of any blackball player's career can have a huge impact. Cool Papa Bell was a great player in his own right, but he looms much larger on the Negro Leagues panorama because Satchel never stopped telling Cool Papa stories.

Well, the same process can work in reverse. John Henry Lloyd hated Monroe. It's not hard to understand why. Monroe was the ultimate showman; Lloyd was all business. When they played side-by-side on the CAGs, Monroe got the lion's share of the newspaper headlines, the adulation from women, and all the rest of it.

Lloyd, as sober as he may have been, nonetheless distorted blackball history according to his emotions when he told his old-timer stories. A good example is that he listed his pal Jap Payne on his all-time all-star outfield. Now Payne was a good ballplayer, but that's an absurd selection. By comparison, he was silent on Monroe.

It's been a struggle for Monroe to recover from that. The all-time 20th-century blackball 2B list always includes Allen, DeMoss, Hughes, and (if you like offense) Scales. Given that Monroe was (at least) a very good infielder and also a feared hitter, that list should absolutely include him.
   50. Gary A Posted: December 07, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2638225)
Fascinating. This is something I really want to know more about: how Negro League reputations were made over the years, who told what stories about whom, etc. It’s crucial if we’re going to hold up “reputation” against, say, statistical evidence or other kinds of research.
   51. burniswright Posted: December 09, 2007 at 12:10 PM (#2639335)
Right. But I would add that it puts a tremendous burden on the interviewer or oral historian to make sophisticated judgments about the intentions and the credibility of the speaker.

On the one hand, reliable eyewitness accounts about blackball are absolutely golden, in the way they can flesh out our understanding of the stats. On the other, it's just in the nature of things that when old-timers (of any race) get together, they tend to tell fish stories. You know, "Remember when Josh hit the ball in Pittsburgh that came down in Altoona?"--that kind of thing.

Even the folkloric exaggerations have meaning, however, as long as you pass them through an interpretive screen. For instance, when Satch was asked what he thought Cool Papa would hit in MLB, he was in the habit of saying, ".600." Of course his intention was to be provocative. But the point is, he wasn't really talking about batting average, he was talking about the pressure that speed of the kind Bell possessed put on defenses, and how it blurred the line between infield outs and infield hits.

An idiomatic interpretation might be, "If you think you can defend against Bell the same way you do against DiMaggio or Greenberg, you're going to be very, very sorry."
   52. Paul Wendt Posted: December 09, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2639385)
Our general knowledge of his time and place (black ball c.1900) is spotty and we don't know of a lot of data on Monroe, either. He immediately achieved HOM status as a serious candidate and he remained eligible forever because he wasn't elected. The HOF elected Sol White, so his thread shouldn't be the dumping ground for everything related to anything in his book. Those have been some causes for me, at least and the main culprit, to make Bill Monroe's thread a repository of material sometimes far from his own case. (Excuse me, Bill.) That Gary A and burniswright are here on the same track inspires me to continue.
------

What if anything did Lloyd say about Charlie Grant, a star about about ten years older who was his 2Bman when Lloyd joined the Philadelphia Giants?

Charlie Grant has been practically under the radar here. Riley calls him one of the first black stars. John McGraw signed him as Chief Tokohoma in 1901 to play for the new Baltimore Orioles (AL).
He played for leading teams most of 1896-1907, usually at second base. This is gleaned from White, Riley, Holway's Complete Book, and a few box scores:

1896-1898 Page Fence Giants
1899-1901 Columbia(n) Giants
1902 ?
1903 Cuban X-Giants and Phila.
1904-1907 Philadelphia Giants
1906 Cuban X-Giants too (Riley)

Is he the most famous player without a thread?
What do we in the 21st century know about his play?
   53. sunnyday2 Posted: December 09, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2639397)
We elected Frank Grant but I'd be hard pressed to tell you why. Not that he's not worthy. But what little we know about Frank Grant, Sol White and Bill Monroe provides virtually no way to differentiate among them that I can see. Not to even mention Charlie Grant. Charlie was differentiated however in the sense that however little we know about Frank, Sol and Bill, we know substantially less about Charlie.
   54. burniswright Posted: December 10, 2007 at 10:07 AM (#2639840)
OK, these are some notes that Dom Denaro and I put together on Sol White and the Grant boys. If anybody who's senior to me here wants to move them to a different thread, be my guest. Actually, now that I think about it, everybody is senior to me here.

On Charlie Grant: there is every evidence that Grant was an excellent ballplayer, or McGraw wouldn't have tried the stunt that he did. Plus, as Paul Wendt points out, he played on the best teams of his era between 1896 and 1906. The problem with Charley is that he disappears from my radar at age 30. I honestly haven't a clue what he was doing during what should have been the second half of his career. Without that information, I don't see how we can make a viable case for him. Was he injured? On lesser teams? Darned if I know. Of the three, this is the guy who's a very real problem to evaluate.

On Frank Grant: If I had been around when the voting on Frank had taken place, he would not have been on my ballot. Here's Denaro's take on the negatives about Frank Grant:

His reputation as the best black ballplayer of the 19th century is based entirely on his three big seasons with Buffalo in the International League. Between 1886 and 1888 Grant batted .349 and slugged .525 while starring in the field and on the bases in one of the best minor leagues in the country. It isn't difficult to image that that skill set would also have served him very well in MLB.

Over the next two seasons, Grant competed with other black players in a pair of lesser circuits, the Middle States and Eastern Interstate Leagues. After his experience in Buffalo, one would expect even better performances in those lower leagues. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Grant's BA dropped to .323, his SA to .456. He ranked fourth among black players in both categories, behind George Williams, Sol White, and Arthur Thomas.

Frank Grant's achievements in Buffalo are unmatched by any of his contemporaries, but it appears they declined rather precipitously after that. His situation may be reminiscent of something Rube Foster told "The Indianapolis Freeman" in 1907: "Five or six years ago, I think I'd have been a first-class pitcher, but I found then I'd gone as far as I could go, and that there was no hope of getting into MLB, so I kind of let myself go."

It's just a guess, but perhaps, once Grant saw that his outstanding seasons in Buffalo had zero chance of allowing him to cross the color line, his competitive drive simply waned.

I agree with Denaro's assessment in this case. And I realize this is proverbial water under the proverbial bridge, but I don't think we can justify a laurel wreath for a guy based on three seasons. And if one does want to make a case for him, it would require careful comparisons with George Williams and Arthur Thomas, which I'm quite sure we don't want to undertake, since nobody seems to be taking either one of them very seriously.

On Sol White: I must say I don't see the problem with this candidacy--you can justify it on the basis of his role as the indispensable chronicler of early blackball, and you can also justify it on his career as a player and as a manager. He's right up there close to Rube Foster and C.I. Taylor as one of the three great patriarchs of early blackball.

In White's book, he lauds Frank Grant, but modesty may have prevented Sol from stating that he was a legitimate rival for the title of the greatest 19th-century blackball star. Consider the evidence from 1889 and 1890, years when the two secondbasemen competed in the same minor leagues. Grant batted .323 for the two seasons, but White hit .349. Plus, later on in the 1890s, White played for the Cuban-X Giants, a team that usually got the better of Grant's Cuban Giants.

In 1902, White and sportswriter H. Walter Schlichter founded The Philadelphia Giants. White was the baseball brains of the operation, serving as player-manager, while recruiting many of blackball's greatest stars. The Philadelphia Giants were one of the finest black ballclubs of all time while White was in charge, and quickly declined after he left.

In 1911, White became the first manager of The New York Lincoln Giants. Although he failed to finish out the season there, he did lay the groundwork for another dynasty, signing, among others, John Henry Lloyd, Louis Santop Loftin, Spottswood Poles and Dick Redding.

The dynastic periods of the Chicago American Giants, The KC Monarchs and The Homestead Grays have been well-chronicled--the latter two especially, because they were built during the league era. Well, it's time for a book on the 1911-1913 Lincs. You've got a ballclub that, along with the four men above, included Doc Wiley, Grant Johnson, Bill Francis, Jude Gans, Harry Buckner, Dan McClellan, and Smokey Joe Williams. Beat that with a stick!

Rube Foster was tremendously vain of his 1910 Chicago Lelands, but I'd be inclined to take that Lincolns roster over Foster's.

So, in short, Sol White excelled, to an extraordinary degree, at everything he did.

I disagree with sunnyday2, however, about putting Monroe in this grouping: there's actually quite a bit of information available about Monroe, especially compared to the two Grants. Monroe has had, for a considerable length of time now, his own rooting section among NeL historians, for the reasons I state in post #49.
   55. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2639927)
Is he the most famous player without a thread?


Charlie became eligible before I became the administrator here, but I agree he deserves a thread.
   56. sunnyday2 Posted: December 10, 2007 at 04:08 PM (#2639971)
modesty may have prevented Sol from stating that he was a legitimate rival for the title of the greatest 19th-century blackball star


I have never ever heard that modesty was a burden to Sol White.
   57. Gary A Posted: December 10, 2007 at 09:08 PM (#2640431)
Right. But I would add that it puts a tremendous burden on the interviewer or oral historian to make sophisticated judgments about the intentions and the credibility of the speaker.

That's actually not what I meant. I was just referring to the need for a greater awareness of who said what about whom, as in your example of Lloyd's silence on Monroe. Even in the case of players who are much-talked about, I'm not sure anybody's ever sat down and looked through the published autobiographies & oral histories like Holway's and charted out how their reputation is/was built up.

And of course, we have plenty of important books (Riley is the main example, but there are others) that draw on unpublished interviews without footnoting them. To take a well-known example from the HoM, the idea that John Beckwith had an unsavory reputation seems largely drawn from Riley, who presumably got it from people he interviewed--yet we don't know whether Riley was drawing on lots of interviews with a range of people, or from two or three members of a particular clique, or just one guy. It would be really helpful to know things like that.
   58. burniswright Posted: December 11, 2007 at 08:50 AM (#2641103)
One more thought about sunnyday2's' "We elected Frank Grant but I'd be hard pressed to tell you why", from post 53.

I'm all of about a week old on this site, so forgive any incorrect assumptions I may be making. But it looks like what you're trying to do here is elect people to the HOM based on honest efforts at doing real research and collecting hard facts, as opposed to some of the worst aspects of the old-boy network that has operated all too long at the HOF.

And from that, I further assume that if you had the power to remove, say, Jesse Haines from the HOF (along with a couple of dozen other people), you would do so; after all, he's mainly there because he was a pal of Frankie Frisch. That's not a good enough reason.

Well, among the many things I don't know about your site is whether your rules permit reconsideration of previous HOM votes. If they don't, they should. Here's why:

Everything you're doing is based on the principle of additive knowledge: the emergence of new data, newly-interpreted data, the design and subsequent refinement of analytical tools, the recognition and processing of differing opinions, and so forth. I think that's incredibly admirable, especially in comparison to how things are done at the HOF. In fact, I just wrote an e-mail to Gary A. praising the work on the NeL HOM page to the skies; if you read it, you'd all give yourselves a raise.

So if the process of evaluation is ongoing as new evidence comes to light, why should the results of the voting at a certain point in that process be sealed for all eternity? At the HOF they have this little problem called "It all takes place in bricks and mortar." I mean, the guys are there with their wives and children, the plaques are up on the wall, visitors have paid outrageous amounts of money to trek to Cooperstown (which ain't all that convenient to get to), and so on.

Well, the internet has changed the rules of the game in a lot of respects; why not this one?

In the Negro Leagues realm, and in the earlier 19th-century realms, there are sabermetric tools that just don't work as well as they do in modern baseball, and Frank Grant is in both of them. Scant and unreliable data is an obvious problem for the NeL's, and both cultural differences and rule changes will make certain kinds of analyses more difficult.

An obvious example would be the gap between Ross Barnes' year in 1876 and in all subsequent years being the result of disallowing the fair-foul hit. And any number of pitchers don't have coherent career curves because they could get guys out at 50 feet, but not at 60.

All of this argues for as much back-story input as possible--and never just from one guy, be it me or anyone else. For anybody who's interested, Monte Irvin's all-time all-star blackball selections are listed in the December issue of the SABR Negro Leagues Committee newsletter. Monte is a reasonably thoughtful guy, but some of his picks are beyond bizarre. It's a cautionary tale about what can happen if you rely too heavily on one person's opinion. If you want me to post them, write to me and tell me where it would be appropriate to do that.

But what all this is getting to is that the painstaking aspect of figuring this stuff out in a careful and collective way is exactly what makes this site great. I've now read the entire John Beckwith thread. And the fact that it's 372 posts long is a huge positive, not a negative, as perhaps some of you may have felt at the time. It says to me that you'll do whatever is necessary to get the job done right.

It's in this spirit that I suggest that you allow for the possibility of reconsidering HOM election results, as both new arguments and new data come to light. And just to be clear, this is not some sort of negative rant about Frank Grant; it's an honest suggestion about how to make sure that the HOM selections always represent the ongoing and cumulative best thinking about each candidate.
   59. burniswright Posted: December 11, 2007 at 10:05 AM (#2641112)
P.S.: I forgot to add my favorite legal precedent for the above position: it's the 18th and 21st Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Sometimes most everyone seems to agree about what the law of the land ought to be, and then, upon further review (as we say in the NFL), they change their minds. It happens.
   60. OCF Posted: December 11, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2641478)
buniswright, I'll answer you on the 2009 ballot discussion thread
   61. Paul Wendt Posted: December 16, 2007 at 06:42 AM (#2647134)
from Riley's Encyclopedia entry for Bill Monroe, regarding his 18th pro season
>>
By 1914 Foster had assembled what is considered to be one of the greatest black teams of all time, adding John Henry Lloyd to the already formidable lineup. Despite the talent-laden lineup, Monroe batted .348 and was called "king of second basemen", "idol of the ladies", and "the most sensational player on the American Giants team".
<<

--
burniswright:
I realize this is proverbial water under the proverbial bridge, but I don't think we can justify a laurel wreath for a guy [Frank Grant] based on three seasons. And if one does want to make a case for him, it would require careful comparisons with George Williams and Arthur Thomas, which I'm quite sure we don't want to undertake, since nobody seems to be taking either one of them very seriously.

Riley lists no affiliation for George L. Williams 1893-1901 or for Clarence Williams 1895-1901. Who knows more today?

Riley's listing for George W. Williams is 1886-1888 Cuban Giants. All three Williams played for the Cuban Giants in 1886, when Riley says George W. "was considered the team's best all-around player and coach, and he left the team after the 1888 season to coach the baseball team at Philadelphia Institute. Many years later, acting in conjunction with Frank Grant, Clarence Williams, and Ben Holmes, he planned to play a benefit game for an ailing Bud Fowler in 1909."
   62. burniswright Posted: December 16, 2007 at 08:47 AM (#2647161)
Paul Wendt: I was making a general point about the obscurity of Frank Grant's record. I too know from nothin' about George L or George W Williams.

To the extent there has been comment on my notion of keeping the HOM membership fluid, it has generally been pretty negative. I'm not surprised, actually; it certainly opens up a 55-gallon drum of worms for you guys.

So the only point I'm arguing anymore regards sunnyday2's post #53, which suggests that Monroe is in the same obscurity category as Frank and Charlie Grant. I feel that's untrue.

Anybody here know Fred Brillhart? Fred was the first ardent lobbyist for the Monroe candidacy that I ran across some years ago. I still feel he's onto something.
   63. Paul Wendt Posted: June 07, 2008 at 10:02 PM (#2811215)
I reported last June (#47),
>>
Spring 1900 the Columbia Giants and Milwaukee Brewers (AL) scheduled four games for Richmond IN where the Brewers and the local team trained. WHFS April 11-14, five to eight days before planned AL opening day. Unfortunately the first three games were canceled by rain (as many April 1900 games for rain, cold, or wet).

Milwaukee Daily News, Monday 1900-04-16 (none published Sunday) published a simple box score of the Saturday game, Brewers 8 12 1, Giants 4 7 4. The meagre description is a reminder that the infielder's glove was new and not yet much improved and that writers if not fans favored fielding: "Capt. Burke of the Milwaukee team distinguished himself by making two one-handed stops. Conroy and Anderson played well." Both teams used three pitchers, Milwaukee 12 men and the Giants 9 men. Evidently the Giants pitchers played cf-rf-p. HOMers Johnson ss batting first, Grant 2b batting third.
<<

The Columbia Giants were newcomers in 1899. The Chicago Unions were the venerable black team in Chicago (est. 1887).
The Chicago Unions and Milwaukee Brewers WL played four games in Milwaukee just before the opening of the Western League season, April 22-25 (Sat to Tue). Milwaukee had trained at Madison with the University of Wisconsin team and planned to play the Unions on the weekend, the University on Mon-Tue. But UW canceled the visit and the Unions were available to stay on.

Milwaukee Daily News published a blurb and line score with notes for the first game (Monday afternoon coverage of Saturday game) and short stories with full box scores for the last three games.

Chicago Unions at Milwaukee Brewers, 1899 April 22-25

The Unions batting order was identical for the latter three games.
1,lf W. Jones
2,xx Holland
3,3b Hyde
4,xx B. Jones
5,1b Moore
6,ss Monroe
7,c_ Foote
8,2b Hopkins
9,xx Horn
Billy Holland, Bert Jones, and Horn composed the pitcher-center-right rotation (m=center). For game one the battery was Jones, Holland, and Foote.

Sat    Sun    Mon    Tue
    1
,l    "    "    WJones
-p    2,p-m    2,m-p    m-p    Holland
    3
,3    "    "    Hyde
p
-    4,p-m    4,r-m    p-m    BJones
    5
,1    "    "    Moore
    6
,s    "    "    Monroe
c    7
,c    "    "    Foote
    8
,2    "    "    Hopkins
    9
,r    9,p-r    r    Horn
        7
,c sub    Busby 


This was early in Bill Monroe's rookie season
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: June 08, 2008 at 12:14 AM (#2811288)
(yeah, yeah, format)

The Unions exchanged the pitcher and centerfielder midway through games 2 and 4; rotated the pitcher, RF, and CF midway through game 3. Presumably Jones and Holland exchanged at pitcher and CF in game one where I have only the battery.
   65. Paul Wendt Posted: June 08, 2008 at 11:40 AM (#2811617)
Chicago Tribune 1902-0323 p11
reports Monroe signing with Frank Leland's Giants for the 1902 season, one of many players from the Chicago Unions and the Columbia Giants.

Union Giants' Team Complete
"Manager Leland of the Chicago Union Giants has signed William Monroe, a hard-hitting thirdbaseman with last season's Cuban Giants, to play third base for his team this season. The signing of Monroe completes this team."

. . .
I don't know that Monroe played for that team - not in three April boxes
   66. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 18, 2008 at 01:38 AM (#3011212)
I did some research on my favorite 2B eligible candidate: Bill Monroe

http://www.americanbaseballchronicles.com/phil_giants_1905.htm#monroe

Nick-named “Money” for the sheer number of fans that flocked to see him perform, Monroe ranked among the greatest baseball players of his generation. (Image from the Philadelphia Inquirer)
An August 14, 1905 edition of the Trenton Times noted, “ Monroe is the best third baseman seen in Trenton. He made plays Saturday which saved his team. His speed is remarkable as is his fielding and base running. It is a pleasure to see him in action.” Similarly impressed, the Brockton Times of June 24, 1905 wrote, “In Monroe, at third, they [the Philadelphia Giants have a man who can play ball with the best of them.”

The following stats are for Pete Hill (Age 24), Home Run Johnson (Age 31), Bill Monroe (Age 28), Charlie Grant (Age 26), Sol White (Age 36)

PH - G – 128, AB 258, H 192, 2B 37, 3B 11, HR 10, R 137, TB 707, SB 32, SAC 12
HJ - G – 117, AB 191, H 152, 2B 23, 3B 4, HR 10, R 113, TB 546, SB 19, SAC 15
BM - G- 102, AB 185, H 139, 2B 25, 3B 15, HR 8, R 98, TB 501, SB 35, SAC 3
CG - G – 137, AB 254, H 186, 2B 29, 3B 4, HR 8, R 126, TB 653, SB 27, SAC 3
SW - G- 81, AB 113, H 84, 2B 10, 3B 0, HR 3, R 51, TB 325, SB 14, SAC 1

Pete Hill is outstanding, with Charlie Grant a notch below, and Bill Monroe and Home Run Johnson a bit below those two.

Monroe, to reiterate, was primarily a 3B this season.
   67. Chris Cobb Posted: November 18, 2008 at 02:23 AM (#3011246)
Bleed the Freak:

The stats you have provided don't make sense. The AB are way too low for the games, the hits are unimaginably high for the AB, even given play against semi-pro competition, and the total base numbers don't match the hit/2b/3b/hr totals.

Are there typos here, or have you copied these stats verbatim?

Bill Monroe is almost certainly the top eligible second baseman, so I'd like to give him another look, but this view of him isn't as helpful as it might be . . .
   68. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: November 18, 2008 at 02:51 AM (#3011258)
Gosh Chris, you're such a nitpicker. :)
   69. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 18, 2008 at 04:19 AM (#3011303)
Hey Chris,

Sorry for the poor formating...And I agree...The low AB total and absurdly high TB totals scream that something has been miscalculated...I have copied the stats verbatim and I am not familiar with setting up proper tables at the Hall of Merit.

I wanted to throw these numbers out as a comparison between the five players, more than a quantification of single season greatness.

The statistics were taken from Phil Dixon's work on the 1905 Philadelphia Giants, which Scott Simkus implies is a "vintage bottle of wine," from the new statistical studies that have been unveiled since the '06 special election.

Does anyone else have data on the '05 Philadelphia Giants?
   70. Scott Simkus Posted: November 18, 2008 at 01:14 PM (#3011367)
Well, the one huge piece of cork floating in Mr. Dixon's work is his handling of the ABs. Many of the box scores at the time didn't have ABs listed, so instead of using a formula to estimate those (and there are some very accurate metrics out there), he disgregarded the issue altogether and just counted the AB from boxes where they had been listed...oops. This is an old Holway trick. Anyway: Reconstructing over 100+ games for an Afrian-American team in 1905 is pretty astonishing and important. Phil- if you're out there- call me- I can help you with the ABs!
   71. Paul Wendt Posted: November 18, 2008 at 03:42 PM (#3011435)
The statistics were taken from Phil Dixon's work on the 1905 Philadelphia Giants, which Scott Simkus implies is a "vintage bottle of wine," from the new statistical studies that have been unveiled since the '06 special election.
(my emphasis)

That is misleading. If it is accurate paraphrase of Simkus, he probably means only to inform or remind people that research on black baseball before 1947 did not end in or before February 2006.
   72. Scott Simkus Posted: November 18, 2008 at 04:02 PM (#3011458)
If interested, you can see the interview with Gary Ashwill at www.scottsimkus.wordpress.com. At one point in the friendly interrogation, I decided to beat a dead horse- the NLRAG HOF data- and what I was suggesting there was- that in lieu of the database that may or may not ever be published- we have no choice but to focus on the efforts of individual researchers, such as Patrick Rock, Phil Dixon, Gary A and David Lawrence. Some of their work was done before '06, some after, but all of it (warts included) helps contribute to our understanding of the blackball leagues. Pretty safe statement. BTW; the MLE guys here are making a significant contribution. Now that I've thrown out the congratulatory bouquets, one of my favorite parts of the interview is our discussion about what's next in blackball research... the next challenges.... check it out.
   73. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 19, 2011 at 06:35 AM (#3732464)
My favorite second base candidate, and a player I will have ~#10 on the 2012 Hall of Merit Ballot - Bill Monroe.

After reading over the excellent Dobie Moore thread, I though I would move over this potentially pertinent info.
49. Chris Cobb Posted: November 12, 2004 at 05:08 PM (#964018)
In all of the win-share projections I have done, I have found it proper to discount the i9s numbers. Typically the discount has been 5%, but for some players it has been higher -- I think they tend to overrate the top players. Pitchers have indeed been hit and miss. I haven't found any consistent correlation between their numbers and the actual data I have worked with.

The actual data we have for Monroe is extremely sketchy, so sketchy that I've never ventured to build a projection off of it. It's my opinion that the data in no way justifies the i9s projections for Monroe, however.

Fwiw, Monroe began playing for top teams in 1899, so i9s does miss his first two years, since they started their project in 1901.
50. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: November 12, 2004 at 05:09 PM (#964020)
Ugh, I forgot about the discount, AND I was working off old, bad numbers (where I was playing around with Major League RS totals and trying to work them into the projection somehow---it didn't work...). And I was looking at the wrong spreadsheet.

Apologies to everyone, I'm really sorry about that. I wasn't trying to pump a candidate with bad numbers, just rushing.

Here's what I should have reported for Monroe (including the standard 5% i9s discount that Chris Cobb has suggested and fixing the errors I'd made in my last post)----

As an A defender:
1901 26
1902 28
1903 28
1904 32
1905 27
1906 28
1907 30
1908 25
1909 27
1910 20
1911 20
1912 16
1913 20
1914 14
Total 343

3 90
5 146
10 272
15 343

[very close obviously to the last one]

If a B 2B (4.25 WS/1000 innings), then
3 87
5 140
10 260
15 327

Please substitute these numbers in where appropriate in my previous post on the subject, #46. Sorry again and thanks for your patience.
51. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: November 12, 2004 at 05:12 PM (#964026)
Chris, do you mean the data doesn't justify the i9s projection in the sense that if fails to give him full credit for all of his play or because it overcredits him for the star-aspect you mentioned?
52. Chris Cobb Posted: November 13, 2004 at 03:12 PM (#964878)
I mean that it overcredits him.

Here's my view in a nutshell, quoted from the Monroe thread:

<i>All the data that I have seen on Monroe has him hitting about .300 vs. Negro-League competition for his career, and i9s has him hitting .312 vs. major-league competition for his career. I just can't accept it.<i>

There's a more detailed discussion of this matter on the Monroe thread. I follow the stats when available. But since the stats offer us only a 250 at-bat sample of a sixteen-year career, that data must be seen as potentially unrepresentative.
   74. Alex King Posted: January 22, 2011 at 11:23 PM (#3734851)
I noticed that it's possible AB and TB are switched in the stats in #66. I computed each player's TB from his H, 2B, 3B, and HR and compared it to Phil Dixon's "AB" column

Player TB 'AB'
Hill 281 258
Johnson 242 191
Monroe 218 185
CGrant 247 254
White 103 113

In fact, reviewing the linked website, I'm almost certain this is what happened--several players, for instance, are listed with 1 game played, no at bats, hits, doubles or triples, but 1 total base. It also seems extremely unlikely that Dixon would be overestimating TB by so much relative to 2B, 3B, HR, since I would imagine that box scores are much more likely to list 2B, 3B, and HR than TB. Lastly, all players had roughly 5 times as many "TB" as games played, which is basically the ratio of AB/G.

If this is the case, here are BA/SA for Hill, Johnson, Monroe, Grant, and White.

Player BA SA
Hill .272 .397
Johnson .278 .443
Monroe .277 .435
CGrant .285 .378
White .258 .317
   75. Alex King Posted: January 27, 2011 at 06:58 AM (#3737329)
Using the above 1905 stats for Bill Monroe and his teammates, I’ve constructed some MLEs for Monroe’s 1905 season. Since we don’t have a good indication of the quality of opponents the Philadelphia Giants faced or their run environment*, I used the MLEs of Monroe’s teammate Pete Hill to calculate Monroe’s MLEs. Hill’s MLEs for 1903-1913, created by Brent, are based off his 1906-1912 Cuban League play, and give him a .313/.403/.433 batting line. Hill’s 1905 performance was probably reasonably close to his 1906-1912 performances, so I constructed Monroe’s MLE by assuming that Monroe would outperform Hill’s MLE performance by the same ratios he outperformed Hill’s actual performance on the 1905 Philadelphia Giants. I used the same OBP-BA as Brent figured in his 1906-1908 MLEs above, creating a batting line of .319/.368/.474 against a league average line of .262/.329/.345.

*The Philadelphia Giants had a team batting line of .270/.367, calculated from summing the individual statistics (Dixon’s overall AB are almost 600 too high, and work out to an average of 32 outs/game, while just adding up the individual at bats gives an average of 27.9 outs/game). Given that the Giants went 115-21, I think it’s safe to say they had a well above-average offense, which indicates that the “league” run environment was probably quite a bit lower than that of the majors. who hit .248/.323. As a result, I think it’s definitely reasonable that Monroe’s MLE BA/SA is higher than his actual BA/SA. If the Giants’ BA and SA were 25% higher than league averages (a complete guess—the 1927 Yankees were 10% and 25% higher than average, and pro-rated to 154 games the Giants would have finished 20 games ahead of the Yankees), the “league” would have hit .216/.294. Translating Monroe to a .262/.329/.345 league and applying the standard MLE rate of 0.9, I get an MLE line of .302/.459, which isn’t far off the MLE I obtained above.

Next I created a rough estimation of Monroe’s WAR 1905-1908. Based on the above posts, as well as the BR Bullpen article on Monroe, I have Monroe as a 3B in 1905, SS/3B/LF in 1906 (proportionate to his Cuban League games played), and a 3B in 1907 and 1908. Based on Monroe’s superb defensive reputation, I set his fielding rating at 3B as +8 runs/600 PA above average and at SS and LF as average. For comparison, Jimmy Collins is at 9.7 runs/600 PA above average/600 PA for his career; given that Riley considers Monroe a better fielder than Collins, this rating may actually be conservative (though I feel it is prudent to take Riley’s comments with a grain of salt). Based on the positional adjustments, a +8 3B would be expected to be average at SS; meanwhile, I made Monroe average in LF because I have no indication as to how Monroe was as an outfielder. For Monroe’s batting runs, I used my MLE for 1905 and Brent’s MLE in #28 for 1906-1908. Lastly, I prorated 1905 to (102/136)*600=450 PA, because Monroe only appeared in 102 of the 136 games for which Dixon has stats, apparently due to an injury he suffered in July.

Year WAR
1905 4.6
1906 5.3
1907 5.9
1908 5.6
TOT 21.5

Monroe’s MLEs from 1905-1908 certainly look very good, but this represents less than a third of his career, drawn from prime years (ages 28-31, so he was a little past his peak). Monroe’s Negro League stats from 1910-1914 don’t look too impressive to me, though they may be an illusion created by extremely low league run environments and Schorling Park. However, Monroe was a Holway all-star in 1910 despite hitting just .171, so these BAs may not tell the full story. Does anyone with a better knowledge of Monroe or this time period know why Holway picked Monroe as an all-star despite underwhelming stats?

Monroe did accumulate at least 183 at bats from 1910-1914—for each season, I calculated the minimum possible H and AB to produce such a batting average:

Year BA H/AB
1910 .171 6/35
(1911 .297 11/37 known)
1912 .208 5/24
1913 .268 11/41
1914 .239 11/46

With league-average data for 1910-1914 (if I understand correctly there wasn’t actually an organized league in this period; Holway’s figures come from competition against top black teams), we may be able to create late-career MLEs for Monroe as well. Is there a way to estimate the league-average BA for this period based on the data Holway gives?
   76. DL from MN Posted: January 27, 2011 at 07:34 PM (#3737616)
Chuck Knoblauch's peak is better than what you have calculated there.
   77. Alex King Posted: January 27, 2011 at 11:45 PM (#3737784)
I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Monroe's MLE to Knoblauch's 4-year peak, because Monroe's MLE isn't necessarily the same as his 4-year peak (assuming a peak of 27, Monroe should have been just as good from ages 24-27 as from ages 28-31, and his peak would have occurred 1903-1906). Also, Knoblauch had a lot more variation in his fielding numbers: +26 for his career, but +17 for 1997 and +11 for 1996. Monroe's fielding value is constant, year-to-year; if I constructed MLEs for the rest of Monroe's career, I would use the same defensive ratings that I used above, while in reality Monroe probably had a fielding peak that may have coincided with his offensive peak. Also, Monroe's 1906-1908 hitting numbers are all identical, when he may have in fact had some year-to-year variation (again making his peak higher). Basically, I wouldn't use these numbers to evaluate Monroe's peak.

Monroe’s MLEs from 1905-1908 certainly look very good


I intended this more from a career standpoint--if we assume Monroe's 1901-1904 stretch was equal to his 1905-1908 stretch, and assume league-average seasons in 1899, 1900, and 1909-1914, Monroe would have 59 WAR (I wouldn't stand behind this number as anything more than a VERY rough guess, however).
   78. KJOK Posted: September 17, 2011 at 07:05 AM (#3927864)
   79. KJOK Posted: September 17, 2011 at 08:38 PM (#3928225)
CORRECTED LINK:

Bill Monroe's Real Stats
   80. Alex King Posted: February 14, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4060902)
With data from 1912-1914, we now have significantly more information about the end of Bill Monroe's career, and with a 71 OPS+ it suggests he wasn't a major league quality player at this point in his career (KJOK, is this number park-adjusted?). Since prior MLE projections have tended to view Monroe as approximately a league-average player during this time period, losing those three years entirely should significantly hurt his case. Additionally, we'd probably want to bump down estimates of Monroe's 1910 and 1911 seasons, too, though the Holway data at the beginning of the thread suggests Monroe was quite a bit better in 1911 than in 1910 and 1912-1914.
   81. DL from MN Posted: February 14, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4061094)
He was dead of tuberculosis on March 16, 1915. Any ideas when he contracted it? I can't imagine an athlete performing at a high level with tuberculosis.
   82. Alex King Posted: February 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4061266)
Looks like I spoke too soon--data from 1908-1911 will be available within a few weeks, which will be a huge boon for the evaluation of Monroe, since we'll then have stats for more than half of his career (1905-1914).
   83. burniswright Posted: May 23, 2012 at 07:20 AM (#4138399)
Right, Alex: it's at seamheads.com now. It certainly doesn't help the Monroe case. However dazzling he may have been on defense, we're only talking about a slightly-above average hitter, with no extra-base power. I'm going to suspend judgment until Gary Ashwill weighs in with an evaluation of Monroe, considering park and league distortions and all the rest of it; Gary is responsible for a great deal of this research, and it will be important to find out what he makes of Monroe's career on the basis of it.

Monroe's reputation, over the course of the past ten years, has been an incredible roller-coaster, including some people who thought he was THE great overlooked blackball star--which at certain junctures during the unrolling of deadball research, included me. His story was never pure baloney, the way it was for cult items like Will Jackman, but overall his reputation hasn't increased lately, it's probably diminished. Looking at the new seamheads data, I have to admit I don't really know what to think.

   84. Alex King Posted: May 23, 2012 at 07:19 PM (#4138980)
Burnis: how good a fielder was Monroe? Are we talking gold-glove quality at 2B and 3B and an excellent SS, or something less than that? If Monroe was a good hitter from ~1900-1909 and an outstanding fielder throughout his career, he could be comparable to or even better than someone like Johnny Evers, making him a borderline-HOF/HOM player depending on his early (pre-1905) career.
   85. burniswright Posted: May 24, 2012 at 04:45 AM (#4139139)
Alex: it's clearer now that defense was the centerpiece of Monroe's reputation. I think you have it nailed with GG at 2B and 3B, plus excellent at SS. He did play an entire season at SS, however, so it wouldn't be fair to think of that as a typical "third" position.

Regarding the seamheads batting data, Scott Simkus has wisely warned me off of drawing over-arching conclusions from "season" data of 14, 10, 16, 17, 3, 13, and 22 games; it's just not enough data. Plus, there are substantial normalizations that need to be done on the last three CAG seasons. We were all taken by surprise when the initial Lelands/CAG hitting data came out: that Bingo DeMoss, for instance, was a .230 hitter instead of a .280 hitter like Newt Allen. But he was just doing what Rube Foster was asking him to do, since those teams were built on pitching, defense, and aggressive baserunning.

Now, you may well ask, how are we supposed to make a decision, if it turns out that 810 lifetime ABs is all we get for Monroe? That's a legitimate question, because this level of dependency on anecdotal evidence in non-league situations goes against the grain of everything that number wonk-dom teaches us about making our evals. There's no good answer to that: at a certain point, you have to guess your best. Although Monroe was probably somewhat lighter in the bat than I had thought, I would argue that he was still very good, and very important.
   86. Alex King Posted: May 24, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4139501)
Plus, there are substantial normalizations that need to be done on the last three CAG seasons.


I was under the impression that Seamheads' OPS+ is park adjusted (see here for details of the calculation). However, when I compare Seamheads' OPS+ to a simple calculation of OPS+ using league averages (OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1), I get some bizarre results for the Chicago American Giants:

Year Seamheads Simple
1911 92 85
1912 114 114
1913 99 105
1914 100 99
1915 102 92
1916 93 96
1917 102 89
1918 96 91
1919 123 117
1920 104 105
1921 99 82
1922 95 83
1923 98 93

Seamheads OPS+ should be significantly higher than simple OPS+ every year, since Schorling was a pretty extreme pitcher's park, but this isn't the case. 2-3% of the discrepancy probably comes from the fact that the "league" batting line is listed as having a 102-104 OPS+ every year, but even then, there's little park effect in 1912-1914, 1916, or 1920. Gary or KJOK, what's going on in those years? If those stats are improperly park-adjusted, that makes a fairly big difference in our evaluation of Monroe.
   87. Gary A Posted: May 28, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4141660)
Alex,

I'll let Kevin handle specific questions about what normalizations have been finished, but I wanted to point out a couple of things:

1) Relatively small samples compared to the white majors means that even the data for an extreme pitcher's park will jump around a lot. It's always a good idea to try to look at groups of Negro league seasons, rather than focus on one in particular.

2) Schedules between the best black teams before 1920 are very uneven, in every sense: there might be many more home games than road games (or vice versa), and the cast of opponents might be very different from year to year. Kevin's adjustments take into account not just park effects, but also strength of schedule and home/road balance. If most of a team's games are played at home, that can offset the OPS+ advantage an offense gets from playing in a pitcher's park.

Quickly checking a couple of American Giants seasons, in 1913 against "Negro league" teams they played 46 games at home, 13 games on the road (in opponents' home parks), and 3 games at neutral sites (Mack Park in Detroit). Fourteen of their 62 games were against the New York Lincoln Giants, probably the best team in black baseball at the time. In 1914 the American Giants played 42 games at home, 12 on the road, and one at a neutral site, and played zero games against the Lincoln Giants.

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