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Monday, April 04, 2005

Biz Mackey

Biz Mackey

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2005 at 01:19 AM | 240 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2005 at 01:47 AM (#1230271)
Professor Hinkle's favorite catcher. In fact, he could be heard exclaiming "Biz-zie, Biz-zie, Biz-zie!" one Christmas Eve (I have no idea why).
   2. Daryn Posted: April 04, 2005 at 01:52 AM (#1230296)
The Bill Buckner of the 1924 Colored World Series.

He went on to have quite a nice career after that.
   3. Chris Cobb Posted: April 04, 2005 at 02:00 AM (#1230327)
The Bill Buckner of the 1924 Colored World Series.

He went on to have quite a nice career after that.


That was Louis Santop, Hilldale's other catcher. He had already had a nice career.
   4. Chris Cobb Posted: April 04, 2005 at 02:02 AM (#1230333)
Biz Mackey Data

Teams: 20-22 ABCs, 23-31 Hilldale, 32??, 33-35 Phi Stars, 36-37 Wash Elite Giants, 38-39 Bal Elite Giants, 39-41 Newark Eagles, 42-44 ??, 45-47 Newark Eagles

1920 .315 for Ind ABCs; 3b
2-5 vs. major-league competition
1921 .317 for Ind ABCs; 13 hr (3rd), 25 hr/550 (3rd), 10 3b (5th); 2b; all-star
4-7 vs. major-leage pitchers in California league
1922 .344 for Ind ABCs; ut
1923 .441 for Hilldale; ba 1st, 9 hr (2nd), 20 hr/550 ab (5th), 4 3b (5th); c; all-star, MVP
5-20 vs. Major-League competition
1924 .357 for Hilldale; ba 3rd, 20 2b (3rd); ss; all-star
10-40 in World Series vs. KC
47-152 in Cuban Play
1925 .346 for Hilldale; 12 sb (5th); c; all-star
1926 .313 for Hilldale; 10 hr (3rd), 17 2b (1st), 14 sb (1st); c, all-star
1927 .315 for Hilldale; c, all-star
1-10 vs. major-league competition
1928 .360 for Hilldale; ba would be 5th in league, too few ab; c
3-8 vs. major-league competition
1929 .308 for Hilldale; c, all-star
1930 .397 for Hilldale; 4 3b (3rd), 2 sb (2nd); c, all-star
1931 .359 for Phi Stars; ba 1st; c, MVP
1932 No Data
1933 .298 for Phi Stars; c
1934 .299 for Phi Stars; ut
7-19 in playoff vs. Chi Am Giants
1935 .257 for Phi Stars; c
3-11 vs. major-league competition
1936 .257 for Was Elite Giants; 3 3b (4th); c
0-3 vs. major-league competition
1937 .375 for Was Elite Giants; (high enough to place in leaders, not enough ab); c
1938 .285 for Bal Elite Giants; c
1939 .256 for Newark Eagles; 4 hr (4th), 28 hr/550 (4th); c
6-12 in playoffs
1940 .281 for Newark Eagles; c
1941 .264 for Newark Eagles; c
1942 no data
1943 no data
1944 no data
1945 .279 for Newark Eagles; c
1946 no data, manager of Newark Eagles
1947 .220 for Newark Eagles; c and manager

Career, according to Holway
1383-4292, .322
26-74, .354, against major-league competition
50 hr, 6 hr/550 ab
MVP 1923, 1931
All-star 1921 (2b), 1923, 1924 (ss), 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930
Fielding 1920 3b, 1921 2b, 1922 ut, 1924 ss, 1923, 1925-47 c
Mean avg. for 22 seasons with data, .315

Career according to MacMillan 10th
802 g, 2925 ab, 942 hits, 117 2b, 43 3b, 60 hr, .322 ba, .453 slg
   5. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:52 AM (#1230695)
Plus, "Just a Friend" was a great song.
   6. Chris Cobb Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:01 PM (#1231193)
First, a site question: is everybody else getting shunted to the ThinkFactory homepage when they log in, and when they click on the HoM link to get back over here, the HoM homepage doesn't come up? Not that I couldn't get here, but it's annoying -- I wonder if there are more serious navigation problems for other browsers?

Anyway, Biz Mackey --

I've started to work on his MLEs. I'm waiting to run the numbers until

a) Gary A. posts his data

b) I can find out the story of what Mackey was doing in 1932 -- there's no data for him for that season in Holway or Macmillan, and Riley says nothing about it. Was he injured? Playing for a non-league team? In Japan? Anybody know?

c) we have some discussion of estimating playing time and career length for Mackey This is an important issue. I'm pretty sure that Mackey falls somewhere between the Hartnett/Dickey/Cochrane trio and Rick Ferrell as a hitter -- closer to Ferrell than the Big Three though still above him. By reputation, he is certainly an A fielder, so where he ranks will depend a lot on how much playing time he actually had.

As far as career length goes, if Riley is correct about his d.o.b, he probably could have lasted through 1941 as a reserve catcher. I'll see how his stats match up against reserve catchers for 1939-41 to see if that's true.

But what to do about estimating playing time? Thoughts?
   7. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:15 PM (#1231231)
1921 Biz Mackey
Indianapolis ABCs

G-64 (team 73)
AB-234
H-67
D-6
T-9 (tied for 5th)
HR-8
R-35
W-14
HP-5
SH-7
SB-4
AVE-.286 (NNL .266)
OBA-.340 (NNL .327)
SLG-.491 (NNL .365)

I still haven't put together 1921 fielding data; I should, as it should be pretty interesting for Mackey, who played a lot in the infield.
   8. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:17 PM (#1231234)
1921 Biz Mackey
Indianapolis ABCs

G-64 (team 73)
AB-234
H-67
D-6
T-9 (tied for 5th)
HR-8
R-35
W-14
HP-5
SH-7
SB-4
AVE-.286 (NNL .266)
OBA-.340 (NNL .327)
SLG-.491 (NNL .365)

I still haven't put together 1921 fielding data; I should, as it should be pretty interesting for Mackey, who played a lot in the infield.
   9. Daryn Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:29 PM (#1231262)
Chris,

I hate to suggest you are wrong, but I believe they put the young Mackey out at third where the error was made and left Santop behind the plate. Can someone confirm who is right about this?
   10. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:38 PM (#1231290)
Sorry about the double post; the site's acting a little weird this morning.

1928 Biz Mackey
Hilldale Club (+ 2 games for Baltimore)

Batting
G-58 (56 of 62 Hilldale games)
AB-219
H-78
D-13
T-4
HR-4
R-49
W-19
HP-1
SF-3
SH-1
SB-7
AVE-.356 (5th; NeL east .282)
OBA-.405 (5th; NeL east .333)
SLG-.507 (6th; NeL east .384)

Raw PF for Hilldale Park that year is 129, based on 38 home games, 27 road games.

Fielding-catcher
G-48* (1st)
DI-402* (1st)
PO-165 (2nd)
A-29 (3rd)
E-6
DP-0
FPCT-.970 (NeL east c .968)
PB-1
SBA-14
SBA/9 inn.-0.31* (1st; NeL east 0.91)
(Stolen bases were underreported in Hilldale games, to what extent I'm not sure. The figure for Hilldale's backup catcher, Joe Lewis, is 0.56.)

Fielding-shortstop
G-9
DI-64.3
PO-14
A-19
E-6
DP-3
RF-4.62 (NeL east ss 5.07)
FPCT-.846 (NeL east ss .917)

Mackey also played 3 games at first base; 2 games at third base; 1 game at second base; 1 game in right field.
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:40 PM (#1231297)
Chris,

Quick thoughts on PT:
-Dickey was in effect platooned for much of his career IIRC. He played 130 G five times, and 140 once in 17 years. En toto, he played in about two-thirds of his team's scheduled games.
-Hartnett played 130 games just three times in his career. He played in 65% of his teams' scheduled games.
-Cochrane played 130 games 7 times (well, 129 one of those years); he was extremely durable, appearing in three-quarters of his teams' games.
-Ferrell caught 130+ four times. He played in two-thirds of his teams' scheduled games.

Among other notable contemporaries:
-Al Lopez caught 130+ three times, appearing in two-thirds of his teams' games.
-Luke Sewell played 130+ just once and appeared in 53% of his teams' games.
-Jimmie Wilson caught 140 games once and appeared in about two-thirds of his teams' scheduled games.
-Rollie Hemsley, 130+ once, 54% of teams' games
-Ernie Lombardi, 130+ 2 times, 71% of his teams' games.
-Spud Davis was also a platooner IIRC, 130+ once, 59% of team games
-Shanty Hogan, twice at 130+, 58% of team games
-Harry Danning, thrice at 130+, 64% of team games
-Gus Mancuso, twice over 130+, 56% of team games


So based on this, 67% of team games with two-four seasons over 130+ games seems like a pretty reasonable, conservative estimate. If Mackey was known for durability, then 70-75% of team games over his career with four to six 130+ game seasons would seem reasonable.
   12. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 03:43 PM (#1231305)
I hate to suggest you are wrong, but I believe they put the young Mackey out at third where the error was made and left Santop behind the plate. Can someone confirm who is right about this?

Both Santop and Mackey made crucial mistakes: catcher Santop muffed a foul fly, and third baseman Mackey let a ground ball go between his legs. But manager Frank Warfield blamed Santop for it, and supposedly the criticism destroyed him (although he played baseball for several years afterwards).
   13. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:04 PM (#1231375)
Here's from the play-by-play account in the Chicago Defender (10-25-24). The series was knotted 3 games to 3 (with 1 tie), and entered the bottom of the ninth leading 2-0. Former Monarch Reuben Currie had shut out his former teammates to this point, scattering five hits.

KANSAS CITY -- Mothed [sic--Mothell] flied to Thompson [sic--Clint Thomas], whose catch robbed the batter of the hit. Then Kansas City staged a great rally. Rogan looked over a ball, then dumped a slow roller down the third base line to Mackey, and by a fast run beat the throw to first. Joseph fouled off one, took a ball, then rolled out to Carr, Rogan taking second. Moore's rap took a high bound, and when Judy Johnson [at short] jumped into the air for it the ball hit the end of his glove, and Rogan pulled up at third. McNair's single to center scored Rogan. O. [Heavy] Johnson was hit and the bases were full and two hit. First ball to Duncan was called a strike. Duncan fouled off one that went high and nearly to the screen, coming down with Santop under it, but the Hilldale catcher muffed the catch. Next two on Duncan were balls. He fouled off the next and then slammed one straight at Mackey. Mackey let the ball play him backing up, instead of playing the ball, and the result was the ball went through his legs into left field, two runs counting, the Monarchs winning the first game in Chicago and taking the lead in games, 4 to 3, over Hilldale. The crowd swarmed on the field, lifted Duncan on the shoulders of two men and paraded him around as they cheered.

It's eerily reminiscent of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, isn't it?
   14. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:05 PM (#1231379)
Here's from the play-by-play account in the Chicago Defender (10-25-24). The series was knotted 3 games to 3 (with 1 tie), and entered the bottom of the ninth leading 2-0. Former Monarch Reuben Currie had shut out his former teammates to this point, scattering five hits.

KANSAS CITY -- Mothed [sic--Mothell] flied to Thompson [sic--Clint Thomas], whose catch robbed the batter of the hit. Then Kansas City staged a great rally. Rogan looked over a ball, then dumped a slow roller down the third base line to Mackey, and by a fast run beat the throw to first. Joseph fouled off one, took a ball, then rolled out to Carr, Rogan taking second. Moore's rap took a high bound, and when Judy Johnson [at short] jumped into the air for it the ball hit the end of his glove, and Rogan pulled up at third. McNair's single to center scored Rogan. O. [Heavy] Johnson was hit and the bases were full and two hit. First ball to Duncan was called a strike. Duncan fouled off one that went high and nearly to the screen, coming down with Santop under it, but the Hilldale catcher muffed the catch. Next two on Duncan were balls. He fouled off the next and then slammed one straight at Mackey. Mackey let the ball play him backing up, instead of playing the ball, and the result was the ball went through his legs into left field, two runs counting, the Monarchs winning the first game in Chicago and taking the lead in games, 4 to 3, over Hilldale. The crowd swarmed on the field, lifted Duncan on the shoulders of two men and paraded him around as they cheered.

It's eerily reminiscent of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, isn't it?
   15. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:08 PM (#1231385)
Hilldale won the next game, 5-3, but Mendez pitched a shutout in game 10 to give the Monarchs the championship, 5 games to 4.

Btw, Mackey was not charged with an error, but Santop was.
   16. Gary A Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:10 PM (#1231390)
O. [Heavy] Johnson was hit and the bases were full and two hit.

Should be "bases were full and two out," of course.
   17. karlmagnus Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:18 PM (#1231410)
From the above, Mackey appears to have been a Negro league Snodgrass. Are we really SURE he was an A quality catcher?
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:32 PM (#1231442)
From the above, Mackey appears to have been a Negro league Snodgrass. Are we really SURE he was an A quality catcher?

From what I have read, Mackey was the gold standard as a defensive catcher for his era.

As for Snodgrass, he was an outstanding defensive player who made a mistake (like Mackey). It happens.
   19. karlmagnus Posted: April 04, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1231495)
From the above, Mackey appears to have been a Negro league Snodgrass. Are we really SURE he was an A quality catcher?
   20. Daryn Posted: April 04, 2005 at 05:51 PM (#1231616)
Thanks Gary -- it was the Buckner-like through the wickets error I had remembered, forgetting the Santop missed pop-up. (And when I say remembered, I mean remembered reading about).
   21. DavidFoss Posted: April 05, 2005 at 01:49 AM (#1232623)
Mackey is 3 years older than Hartnett & 6 years older than Cochrane. Even with the special eligibility for Negro League old timers, he's not competing against his contemporaries.
   22. Gary A Posted: April 05, 2005 at 03:14 AM (#1232694)
I don't know if this is a typical season for Mackey, but here are Hilldale's catchers in 1928:

Biz Mackey--48 games, 398 innings (73%)
Joseph Lewis--20 games, 144 innings (27%)

Btw, Mackey had 49 games caught overall, including one for Baltimore (I mistyped above).
   23. Chris Cobb Posted: April 06, 2005 at 09:13 PM (#1236785)
Raw PF for Hilldale Park that year is 129, based on 38 home games, 27 road games.

Mackey played a number of seasons for Hilldale, so the park factor for this team will have a big effect on his MLEs.

Gary A., do you have park factors for any other Hilldale season?

With a raw park factor of 129 for one season, I'm inclined to set an ongoing adjusted park factor of about 105. Does that seem right?

Did Hilldale play in Hilldale park throughout the 1920s?

Separate question: does anybody know where Mackey was playing, if he was playing, in 1932? Neither Holway nor Riley has any info. If there isn't any info, I'll give him no credit for playing that year.

A first pass at MLEs should be ready tonight or tomorrow morning, with park factor adjustments possibly coming later.
   24. yest Posted: April 06, 2005 at 10:42 PM (#1236926)
From what I have read, Mackey was the gold standard as a defensive catcher for his era.
any details?
   25. yest Posted: April 06, 2005 at 10:43 PM (#1236927)
From what I have read, Mackey was the gold standard as a defensive catcher for his era.
any details?
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 06, 2005 at 10:48 PM (#1236943)
He was regarded as exceptional in all areas of catching, especially his strong, accurate arm.
He's usually picked as the greatest fielding catcher in Negro League history.
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 06, 2005 at 10:59 PM (#1236964)
The story I've always heard was that Mackey sort of the Bill Dickey to Roy Campanella's Yogi Berra? The emphasis on this story has always been that Roy became a great defensive catcher because Biz was, himself, a great defensive catcher and passed on all he knew.
   28. Gary A Posted: April 06, 2005 at 11:56 PM (#1237087)
Right now, the only other PF I have for Hilldale is 97 for 1921, based on 30 home games and 14 road games. I may have 1924 PFs within a few days.

Here are more detailed park factors for 1921 Hilldale, if they are of any use:

AVE: .973957
OBA: .968756
SLG: .981847
HR: .832590

As far as I know, Hilldale played in Hilldale Park throughout the club's existence.
   29. Chris Cobb Posted: April 07, 2005 at 01:44 AM (#1237459)
Biz Mackey playing time estimates

I thought I'd do Mackey's MLEs piece by piece. Here's the first: playing time. Working with Dr. Chaleeko's numbers for Mackey's ML-contemporaries, keeping in mind Karlmagnus's 130-game benchmark for catchers, and tracking Mackey's actual NeL career, I put together the following games played:

Year Games
1920 126, 10 c
1921 140, 30 c
1922 150, 35 c
1923 150, 134 c
1924 142, 120 c
1925 115
1926 138
1927 55
1928 124
1929 130
1930 127
1931 113
1932 0
1933 95
1934 120
1935 92
1936 103
1937 86
1938 65
1939 81
1940 53
1941 50
total 2255 games, 1876 g caught

Notes.
1) 1876 games caught has Mackey high but not at the top of his cohort in games caught: he's a little behind Lopez, a little ahead of Ferrell, and about 100-150 up on Hartnett and Dickey.

2) This total has him catching 65% of his team's games 1923-31, 33-41. I left his catching games 1920-22 out of this estimate, since he was playing other positions more than he was catching in these years, it seems.

3) My estimates have him becoming a full-time catcher two years earlier than he actually did -- in 1923 vs. 1925. His fielding numbers as a shortstop from 1928 make me think that in the majors teams would have been using utility players to fill in for middle-infield regulars rather than someone with Mackey's defensive numbers. He was splitting time at catcher in 23 and 24 because Hilldale wanted Santop's bat in the lineup, and Santop wasn't playing much anywhere else at that point, as far as I can tell. So I figure he would have caught as much as possible during these years under typical ML-conditions, with some play at other positions (on the Wally Schang model).

4) Mackey's MLE career ends, as I see it, in 1941. I've left off his 1944-47 seasons. Mackey was 43 and 44 in 1940 and 1941, so those who think these estimates are too high might drop those years off of Mackey's MLEs. Other catchers of this era played until they were 42, so I think it's plausible that Mackey could have played until 44. If his defense stayed good, he was still hitting enough to be a part-time catcher during these years. (For the standards on that, see the latter seasons of Rick Ferrell and Al Lopez). I thought it implausible that Mackey would have played in the majors at age 45 or older. Maybe because of WWII, but I doubt he would have added any notable value to his career during such appearances.

5) 1927 is low in games played because Mackey spent the first 2/3 of the season on a tour of Japan. Had he been in the majors, this wouldn't have happened, but I figure it's entirely possible Mackey had an injury we don't know about that would have cost him part of a season somewhere along the line.

I think that's everything you might want to know. Questions? Comments?
   30. karlmagnus Posted: April 07, 2005 at 01:57 AM (#1237496)
My benchmark is sort of the other way around, and very unscientific. In order to adjust catchers' hitting stats to those of other players, I take their games played and adjust them to a 130 game season, assumed to be a conservative estimate of a position player including injuries etc. (I take all seasons, incluiding those tin which they were injured. Then I multiply the number of hits etc. the catcher got by 130n/x, where x is the number of games actuakly played in the career, and n the number of full seasons (I take out very short seasons at beginning and end.

Mackey played 21 seasons (not 1932) and so if a position player would have played 2730 games. He actually played 2255 games. Hence his counting stats should be multiplied by 2730/2255, to put him level with say a SS or 2B, equivalently difficult fielding positions.

If Mackey has 2255 ML equivalent hits (which converts to 2730)at an ML equivalent OPS+ of 120,then since he's a catcher he's a HOMer (close to Gehringer, lower OPS+ but tougher fielding position). If he has 1804 hits (which converts to 2184)at an OPS+ of 115, he isn't. This primitive calculation sure ain't rocket science, but it's the way I do it.

I'm agog to see his Chris Cobb MLE hits and OPS+, which I may round down a little but not much. WS and WARP I usually ignore -- far too complicated!

I suspect he's a HOM'er unless his OPS+ rivals Cool Papa's
   31. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 07, 2005 at 03:37 AM (#1237769)
Concerning 1932. That I believe was the year that the NNL completely collapsed due to the depression, and most players chose to migrate into the Negro Southern League or else go onto touring teams (if I understand the history correctly).

If I'm remembering this correctly, then it might be premature to give Mackey no credit for 1932. The fact that he shows back up in 1933 suggests to me that he must have been either a) injured in 1932 or more likely b) barnstorming or in some other non-league structure.

Personally, once we have WS estimates, I'll probably give him credit at some slightly reduced rate compared to the surrounding seasons to hedge my bet, though I doubt it'll make a big difference in the bigger picture.
   32. Gary A Posted: April 07, 2005 at 04:38 PM (#1238510)
In 1932 there was also the East-West League, which didn't last the season either.

In The Negro Leagues Book, Mackey isn't listed on the Hilldale roster for 1932 (though his longtime backup, Joseph Lewis, is). He is listed on the roster of the 1932 Philadelphia Royal Giants, a winter team that played in California and also toured the Far East in the late 20s and early 30s. I don't know if the 31-32 or 32-33 edition of the team is meant.

In William McNeil's book on the California Winter League, Mackey's mentioned as a Royal Giants player in 31-32, but the statistics (which are very limited--only 6 or 7 box scores for that season) don't list him.
   33. Gary A Posted: April 07, 2005 at 04:42 PM (#1238529)
Mackey, btw, was one of the three best-regarded defensive catchers in NeL history, the other two being Bruce Petway and Frank Duncan (who coincidentally also becomes eligible this "year"). Larry Brown had a good reputation as well, but I think he was considered remarkable for his durability, not so much for any outstanding skills.
   34. Gary A Posted: April 07, 2005 at 04:47 PM (#1238555)
I'm at work, so don't have the actual figures, but in 1921 Mackey was the fulltime starting catcher in the first half of the season, then essentially became the third basemen in the second half. I'll post the exact game totals (and fielding stats) tonight.
   35. Gary A Posted: April 08, 2005 at 04:04 AM (#1240178)
Here are Biz Mackey's 1921 fielding stats. It turns out that he caught more often than any other position (c-31, 2b-19, 3b-18); Russ Powell was the team's most frequent catcher (40 games). Powell, who had been Indy's regular catcher for several years, didn't play the first half of the season, then took over as regular catcher in the second half; it's possible he was injured in the first half, but I don't know for sure. Connie Day led the team in games played at both second and third; the ABCs infield situation was very unstable, for some reason.

I don't have league totals yet, but I do have the ABCs totals (for 79 games). I included the team figures for each position, along with the leading starter's.

Mackey Fielding-Catcher
G-31 (team 79; Russ Powell 40)
DI-243 (team 689.3; Powell 328.7)
PO-119 (team catchers 324; Powell 160)
A-51 (team 113; Powell 50)
E-5 (team 15; Powell 4)
DP-2 (team 8; Powell 4)
FPCT-.971 (team .967; Powell .981)
PB-5 (team 12; Powell 6)
Stolen Bases Allowed-31 (team 73; Powell 15)
SBA/9 inn.-1.15 (team 0.95; Powell 0.41)

Mackey Fielding-Second Base
G-19 (Day 46)
DI-155 (Day 376.3)
PO-36 (team 175; Day 102)
A-51 (team 267; Day 155)
E-7 (team 31; Day 16)
DP-5 (team 24; Day 14)
RF-5.05 (team 5.77; Day 6.15)
FPCT-.926 (team .934; Day .941)

Mackey Fielding-Third Base
G-18 (Day 29)
DI-167 (Day 225.7)
PO-29 (team 110; Day 37)
A-31 (team 160; Day 66)
E-3 (team 21; Day 11)
DP-3 (team 8; Day 4)
RF-3.23 (team 3.53; Day 4.11)
FPCT-.952 (team .928; Day .904)
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 08, 2005 at 01:47 PM (#1240557)
Thanks, Gary!
   37. Chris Cobb Posted: April 08, 2005 at 05:07 PM (#1240888)
Biz Mackey MLEs


Year Team G   PA  BB Hits TB  BA   OBP  SA
1920 IND  126 504 28 144 224 .303 .342 .470
1921      140 560 33 157 248 .297 .339 .472
1922      150 600 35 191 297 .338 .377 .525
1923 Hill 150 600 34 214 288 .379 .414 .508
1924      142 568 48 165 221 .318 .375 .424
1925      115 460 39 137 189 .325 .382 .449
1926      138 552 49 152 214 .303 .365 .426
1927       55 220 20  64  76 .321 .382 .378
1928      124 496 46 139 184 .309 .373 .409
1929      130 520 48 145 163 .308 .372 .345
1930      127 508 46 157 213 .339 .398 .460
1931      113 452 40 141 156 .342 .401 .379
1932 NO DATA
1933 Phil  95 380 37  96 105 .281 .350 .307
1934      120 480 48 120 146 .277 .350 .338
1935       92 368 36  76  81 .231 .306 .245
1936 Wash 103 412 38  89 100 .238 .309 .268
1937       86 344 31  79  87 .254 .321 .277
1938 Bal   65 260 24  56  60 .239 .309 .255
1939 NWK   81 324 28  72  93 .242 .308 .316
1940       53 212 18  50  53 .258 .321 .273
1941       50 200 16  48  52 .260 .321 .281
career   2255    745    3249 .301 .359 .393
             9020   2493



Notes

1) Playing time has already been discussed.

2) I used 102 as the PF for Indianapolis, 1920-22. For Hilldale the data was clearly uneven (great hitter’s park in 1928 and mild pitcher’s park in 1921), so I set 1928 at 105 and then sloped downward towards 100 before and after that year. That’s a guestimate, but I think it’s adjusting Mackey’s Hilldale years in the proper direction.

3) As usual, adjustment is to major-league average for the 1920s and to national-league average 1930-on.

4) Mackey drops significantly in hitting production after 1932. The severity of the decline makes me wonder if he was injured that year, or if that was the point, to which gadfly has referred, when Mackey became a switch hitter. Anyway, it appears that Mackey's HoM case will rest much more on his play 1920-31 than on his play 1933-1941.
   38. karlmagnus Posted: April 08, 2005 at 05:10 PM (#1240893)
He has the counting stats but maybe not the rate stats, from the look of it -- isn't that another 100 MLE OPS+? Looks to be a tough one -- I give you Deacon McGuire!
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 08, 2005 at 05:22 PM (#1240915)
He has the counting stats but maybe not the rate stats, from the look of it -- isn't that another 100 MLE OPS+? Looks to be a tough one -- I give you Deacon McGuire!

He's probably better than McGuire, karlmagnus, but he surely doesn't look like a definite HoMer at this point.

Looking forward to his Win Shares.

Thanks, Chris!
   40. Michael Bass Posted: April 08, 2005 at 05:34 PM (#1240934)
As I'm exceedingly lazy, can we get career totals, averages, and approximate games played by position through 1931 on his career? Because from the looks of this, 1933- adds very little if anything to his case, while dragging down his pretty solid averages from the first half of his career.
   41. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:08 PM (#1241017)
Chris,

As always, a wonderful job. I'm typically loathe to offer suggestions because I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I think for Mackey your PAs/ABs are running just a little bit on the high side. As of now, we've got Mackey with about 3.6 AB/G for his career. For their careers, AL Lopez and Rick Ferrell were at 3.0 and 3.2 respectively (each in a couple-few hundred games less than Mackey).

In the second half of his career in particular, I think he should have fewer ABs/G. He averages about 3.6/G from 1933 onward which given his age and the number of AB/G of his catching peers seems a bit high. Taking him down to 3.2 might still be excessive, but it would be more in the realm of what his peers were doing.

Based on the rate stats and est G you've supplied, this is how his stats would compare with the different rates of AB/G

1933-1941 at 3.6 AB/G
G....PA....AB....BB...H....TB...AVG..OBP..SLG
=============================================
745..2980..2704..276..686..777..254..323..288

1933-1941 at 3.2 AB/G
G....PA....AB....BB...H....TB...AVG..OBP..SLG
=============================================
745..2627..2384..243..606..686..254..323..288

Difference between the two
G....PA....AB....BB...H....TB...AVG..OBP..SLG
=============================================
0....353...320...33...80...91...000..000..000

It's not a big difference, but it could be meaningful for some voters.

I can't speak to the first half of his career without G by POS breakouts, but in the first half of his career, he's around 3.6-3.7 AB/G. With pos breakouts we can get a better sense of whether that's about right.

Thanks again Chris, I hope you don't mind my adding two cents.
   42. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:20 PM (#1241051)
Chris,

Sorry, I didn't look at your by-position breakouts from your earlier post. I'll post in a few minutes about the ABs based on them.
   43. DavidFoss Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:21 PM (#1241054)
BIZ MACKEY

-First you have your year, team, PA.
-Second you have Chris's MLE's. This is by far the toughest step. Thanks to Chris for providing these!
-Third, in parentheses, you have pitchers-removed offense context. MLB for the 20s, then NL
-Fourth, you have AVG+/OBP+/SLG+
-Lastly, is the OPS+

1920  IND 504  0.303/0.341/0.470   (0.284/0.343/0.384)   107/ 99/122    122
1921  IND 560  0.297/0.339/0.472   (0.299/0.357/0.416)    99/ 95/113    108
1922  IND 600  0.338/0.377/0.525   (0.297/0.359/0.415)   114/105/127    131
1923 Hill 600  0.379/0.413/0.508   (0.292/0.356/0.405)   130/116/125    142
1924 Hill 568  0.318/0.375/0.424   (0.294/0.356/0.406)   108/105/104    110
1925 Hill 460  0.325/0.383/0.449   (0.300/0.364/0.425)   108/105/106    111
1926 Hill 552  0.303/0.364/0.426   (0.289/0.355/0.402)   105/103/106    109
1927 Hill 220  0.321/0.382/0.378   (0.292/0.355/0.406)   110/108/ 93    101
1928 Hill 496  0.309/0.373/0.409   (0.290/0.355/0.412)   107/105/ 99    104
1929 Hill 520  0.308/0.371/0.345   (0.298/0.363/0.432)   103/102/ 80     82
1930 Hill 508  0.339/0.400/0.460   (0.312/0.370/0.464)   109/108/ 99    107
1931 Hill 452  0.342/0.400/0.379   (0.285/0.344/0.403)   120/116/ 94    110
1932 NO DATA
1933 Phil 380  0.281/0.350/0.307   (0.274/0.327/0.376)   103/107/ 82     89
1934 Phil 480  0.277/0.350/0.338   (0.287/0.342/0.408)    97/102/ 83     85
1935 Phil 368  0.231/0.304/0.245   (0.286/0.341/0.407)    81/ 89/ 60     49
1936 Wash 412  0.238/0.308/0.268   (0.286/0.345/0.400)    83/ 89/ 67     56
1937 Wash 344  0.254/0.320/0.277   (0.280/0.342/0.397)    91/ 93/ 70     63
1938  Bal 260  0.239/0.308/0.255   (0.275/0.339/0.391)    87/ 91/ 65     56
1939  NWK 324  0.242/0.309/0.316   (0.280/0.346/0.401)    86/ 89/ 79     68
1940  NWK 212  0.258/0.321/0.273   (0.272/0.337/0.391)    95/ 95/ 70     65
1941  NWK 200  0.260/0.320/0.281   (0.266/0.337/0.375)    98/ 95/ 75     70
   44. DavidFoss Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:23 PM (#1241059)
Totals (plus/minus 1 from Chris due to rounding)
9020 PA
8270 AB
2472 H
3250 TB

Averages
Mackey -- 0.301/0.359/0.393
Context -- (0.290/0.351/0.408)
Plusses -- 104/102/ 96

OPS+ = 98
   45. DavidFoss Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:30 PM (#1241085)
Someone asked for splits

pre-1932:

6040 PA
5571 AB
1806 H
2473 TB

Averages
Mackey -- 0.324/0.376/0.444
Context -- (0.295/0.357/0.414)
Plusses -- 110/105/107

OPS+ = 113

post-1932:

2980 PA
2699 AB
686 H
777 TB

Averages
Mackey -- 0.254/0.323/0.288
Context -- (0.280/0.340/0.396)
Plusses -- 91/95/73

OPS+ = 68
   46. DavidFoss Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:31 PM (#1241089)
Someone asked for splits

pre-1932:

6040 PA
5571 AB
1806 H
2473 TB

Averages
Mackey -- 0.324/0.376/0.444
Context -- (0.295/0.357/0.414)
Plusses -- 110/105/107

OPS+ = 113

post-1932:

2980 PA
2699 AB
686 H
777 TB

Averages
Mackey -- 0.254/0.323/0.288
Context -- (0.280/0.340/0.396)
Plusses -- 91/95/73

OPS+ = 68
   47. DavidFoss Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:33 PM (#1241094)
EEP... double post on the splits! Wonder how that happened. Sorry about that.
   48. karlmagnus Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:42 PM (#1241122)
Corrected hits on a 130 game basis I calculate at 3010 (McGuire was about 2820). This may be a little high because of the PA/game issue. However, the OPS+ is only 98 (McGuire was 101.) Advantage slightly McGuire, I fancy.

Alternatively, if you just take post 1933 as a handy throwaway package, and assume that in the ML he'd have retired in 1932 to sell used cars, his OPS+ is then 113, but his career hits are only 1866. Significantly below Schang, in other words.

On my 1949 prelim I have Schang at 10 and McGuire at 40. This guy's in the high 30s, I think.

He has a somewhat Sisler career shape, but the peak, even adjusting for position is not as high and the overall package is less valuable.
   49. karlmagnus Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:42 PM (#1241124)
Corrected hits on a 130 game basis I calculate at 3010 (McGuire was about 2820). This may be a little high because of the PA/game issue. However, the OPS+ is only 98 (McGuire was 101.) Advantage slightly McGuire, I fancy.

Alternatively, if you just take post 1933 as a handy throwaway package, and assume that in the ML he'd have retired in 1932 to sell used cars, his OPS+ is then 113, but his career hits are only 1866. Significantly below Schang, in other words.

On my 1949 prelim I have Schang at 10 and McGuire at 40. This guy's in the high 30s, I think.

He has a somewhat Sisler career shape, but the peak, even adjusting for position is not as high and the overall package is less valuable.
   50. karlmagnus Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:43 PM (#1241127)
Corrected hits on a 130 game basis I calculate at 3010 (McGuire was about 2820). This may be a little high because of the PA/game issue. However, the OPS+ is only 98 (McGuire was 101.) Advantage slightly McGuire, I fancy.

Alternatively, if you just take post 1933 as a handy throwaway package, and assume that in the ML he'd have retired in 1932 to sell used cars, his OPS+ is then 113, but his career hits are only 1866. Significantly below Schang, in other words.

On my 1949 prelim I have Schang at 10 and McGuire at 40. This guy's in the high 30s, I think.

He has a somewhat Sisler career shape, but the peak, even adjusting for position is not as high and the overall package is less valuable.
   51. karlmagnus Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:45 PM (#1241132)
Sorry for the triple post, SNAFU!
   52. David C. Jones Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:52 PM (#1241169)
Schang was not as good a defensive backstop as Mackey, I'd wager.
   53. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1241180)
Schang was not as good a defensive backstop as Mackey, I'd wager.

I would definitely not take you up on that bet, David.
   54. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 08, 2005 at 06:59 PM (#1241189)
OK, so about ABs prior to 1932.

Mackey appears to be a hitter of marginally better ability than Ferrell and slightly more ability than Lopez. My guess then is that he wouldn't be hitting high in a lineup, especially since managers are loathe to bat catchers high in the order anyway (to save wear and tear). So I took a look at Ferrell's and Lopez's AB/G on a season-by-season basis. Lopez hovered between 2.9 and 3.2 and he didn't walk all that much. Ferrell walked a bit more than Mackey, and during his stretch of most playing time, he batted 3.4-3.5 times per game.

So looking at those guys, who were considered very good catchers in their time, I gave Mackey the benefit of the doubt and prior to 1931, credited him with 3.4 AB/G in all years that he caught. I should probably have gone with a lower figure to be more conservative, but this is where I went with it.

For the years where Mackey was playing other positions with frequency, I parsed the games out according to Chris's description above. In those games where he caught, 3.4 AB/g. But for those away from the dish, I hunted around for guys with comparable rate stats to Chris's MLEs. You'll not be surprised to find that comps were guys like Doc Cramer, Lloyd Waner, Matty Alou, Harvey Kuenn, Billy Herman, and Charlie Grimm. This group averaged about 3.8 AB/G for their careers, so I used this number for those games where Mackey played something other than catcher.

Anyway, so putting all this together with the data from my previous post, I hope Chris won't mind my re-running his MLEs with playing-time adjustments. I'll do that in the next post.
   55. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 08, 2005 at 07:14 PM (#1241223)
YEAR_AB__PA__AB__BB_H___TB__AVG_OBP_SLG_AB/G
1920_126_503_475_28_144_223_303_342_470_3.8
1921_140_553_520_33_154_245_297_339_472_3.7
1922_150_590_556_34_188_292_338_377_525_3.7
1923_150_547_516_31_196_262_379_414_508_3.4
1924_142_537_491_45_156_208_318_375_424_3.5
1925_115_427_391_36_127_176_325_382_449_3.4
1926_138_515_469_46_142_200_303_365_426_3.4
1927__55_206_187_19__60__71_321_382_378_3.4
1928_124_465_421_43_130_172_309_373_409_3.4
1929_130_487_442_45_136_152_308_372_345_3.4
1930_127_475_432_43_146_199_339_398_460_3.4
1931_113_422_384_37_131_146_342_401_379_3.4
1932 no data (injured?)
1933__95_337_304_33__85__93_281_350_307_3.2
1934_120_427_384_43_106_130_277_350_338_3.2
1935__92_326_294_32__68__72_231_306_245_3.2
1936_103_363_330_33__78__88_238_309_268_3.2
1937__86_302_275_27__70__76_254_321_277_3.2
1938__65_229_208_21__50__53_239_309_255_3.2
1939__81_284_259_25__63__82_242_308_316_3.2
1940__53_185_170_16__44__46_258_321_273_3.2
1941__50_174_160_14__42__45_260_321_281_3.2
===========================================
CAREER TOTALS
2255 G
8353 PA
7670 AB
684BB
2318 H
3032 TB
.302 AVG
.359OBP
.395 SLG
3.4 AB/G
   56. andrew siegel Posted: April 08, 2005 at 08:09 PM (#1241395)
Let's say these numbers are right. Mackey had two careers:

(1) First career--about as long as Cochrane (6% fewer plate appearances)--OPS+ 113 vs. Cochrane's 128; better defense than Cochrane, but Cochrane wass also pretty good with the glove. Maybe his defense makes up 3-5 OPS+ points, so he's somewhere between 10-12 points less than Cochrane.

(2) Second career--almost 3,000 more plate appearances with an OPS+ below that of Brad Ausmus, Ron Karkovice, Bengie Molina. If you look at the breakeven point in WARP for a top-tier defensive catcher, Mackey is probably over the line with a 68 OPS+ but not by much. He gets some marginal credit for those seasons but not a heck of a lot.

So, Mackey does not appear to be a rival for the position as best catcher of the era (he's well below Cochrane, let alone Hartnett), but seems to rank ahead of Bresnahan and Schang. He strikes me as the first catcher since Charlie Bennett who is neither an obvious inductee nor an also-ran. He'll be on my ballot, but further down than I expected.
   57. Chris Cobb Posted: April 08, 2005 at 08:55 PM (#1241586)
As always, a wonderful job. I'm typically loathe to offer suggestions because I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I think for Mackey your PAs/ABs are running just a little bit on the high side.

I think that's right, at least for the later career. One reason that the MLEs can take several iterations is that the quality of a player's performance will affect his playing time. One needs to estimate playing time in order to create MLEs showing quality of performance. Once that quality is ascertained, the p-t estimates may need adjustment.

I agree that is the case with Mackey. I had set his PAs by comparison to Dickey and Hartnett rather than Lopez and Ferrell, but they are clearly the better comps for the late Mackey, who was a quite different hitter from the early Mackey. Frankly, I was surprised at how low Mackey's post-1932 OPS+ turned out to be. I do wonder if the data really contain all of Mackey's extra-base hits from those years, because his slugging appears to be _negligible_ during this period, esp. in 1935 and 1936.

(I expect Mackey's AB/g would be a bit higher than Ferrell's because Ferrell walked a lot more, so fewer of his PAs were turning into AB.)
   58. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 08, 2005 at 09:23 PM (#1241677)
(I expect Mackey's AB/g would be a bit higher than Ferrell's because Ferrell walked a lot more, so fewer of his PAs were turning into AB.)

Chris, that's why I chose to run Mackey's AB/G at 3.4 for each season prior to 1932 instead of going a bit more conservative and taking him down to 3.3 or 3.2, ditto after 1932. Where Ferrell batted around 2.9-3.1 per game in his decline, Mackey's lower walk totals suggested keeping his ab/g a little higher than that.

Lopez is a bit of a curious specimen. He didn't really walk all that much, but his AB/G were consistently lower than Ferrell's. I'm assuming this was because the NL was a lower-scoring league and so presented fewer opportunities for hitters lower in the order, but maybe he was frequently pinch-hit for?

do wonder if the data really contain all of Mackey's extra-base hits from those years, because his slugging appears to be _negligible_ during this period, esp. in 1935 and 1936.


It's interesting to see that in 1933 and 1934, his walk rate is just fine, but his SLG starts dropping. Then in 1935, the SLG really falls off the table, moreso than the drop in batting average would suggest it should.

I think that big drop might lend credence to your 1932 injury theory. Let's say the injury was one that effected his power. Hard to say how many league games were played in 1933-1934, but let's say that it's a number between 30 and 70 and not systematically scheduled. If so, it might have taken a year or two for the league to realize how much his injury had slowed his bat speed. Once word made it around, they just began pounding the zone and giving him carte blance to swing away all he wanted to, knowing he could do little damage.

Just a theory to fit what we think we might know about the numbers. ; )
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: April 08, 2005 at 09:40 PM (#1241757)
It's interesting to see that in 1933 and 1934, his walk rate is just fine, but his SLG starts dropping.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Mackey's walk rate for the 1930s is a statistical construct, based on a few slivers of data: the two seasons for which we actually have walks data (1921 and 1928), the ratio between NeL walk rates and ML walk rates, and the average career progression of walk rates as calculated by TangoTiger. It's entirely possible his walk rate was quite different, but in the ordinary course of things, the rate I've set is probable, but there's no direct statistical evidence to support it at all.
   60. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 08, 2005 at 10:00 PM (#1241856)
Seems like the Sisler of catchers. the first half of his career (20-31) is just about enough to make the HOM, the second half adds nothing. Had the first half continue for a few years longer I would probably be behind him for the Hall of Merit, as it is, he is a tough choice and this is a very tough ballot to make.

I do think that he is better than Bell (the first half of his career he is at least as good a hitter as Bell in his peak and an A catcher is more valuable than an A CFer). As it stands he is probably just Below Dobie Moore for me, in the 16-20 range. However, if his Win Share estimates are very favorable his peak could get him onto my ballot.
   61. Gary A Posted: April 08, 2005 at 10:09 PM (#1241887)
About Mackey in 1934: I notice everyone's got him as a full-time player for the Philadelphia Stars--but he was injured that season, too, and reduced to a few appearances as a pinch-hitter (and maybe as catcher and first baseman, but I don't remember for sure).

In the incomplete report I do have, he only played 9 of 41 league games for the Stars (hitting 7 of 23 with one home run). Mickey Casey was the Stars' regular catcher, playing in 36 of those games. Jake Stephens and Pete Washington played all 41, while Chaney White, Dewey Creacy, and Jake Dunn played in 40 (Jud Wilson played in 35).

I was puzzled to see that the Macmillan has him playing 29 games that year. I suppose it's possible, but he was definitely out much of the year.

Lopez is a bit of a curious specimen. He didn't really walk all that much, but his AB/G were consistently lower than Ferrell's.

Wasn't Lopez used a lot as a defensive sub? I seem to recall Bill James saying that explained his (at the time) record number of games caught.
   62. Gary A Posted: April 08, 2005 at 10:12 PM (#1241910)
Two more quick things about Mackey:

1) I'd proposing restoring his 1927 to a more typical workload for him, since as far as we know he was playing baseball the whole year. Whereas for 1934 I'd suggest reducing it considerably.

2) I do think it's very possible his extra base hits in the 1930s are undercounted; that's definitely a problem for many games played in Philadelphia in 1934, largely because the Philadelphia Tribune was running really skeletal box scores.
   63. sunnyday2 Posted: April 08, 2005 at 10:44 PM (#1242038)
First Papa Bell and now Biz Mackey. Is there a trend? Are we entering an era of vastly overrated NeL stars? Well, I'll believe that if Josh Gibson turns out to be ordinary. Of course, OTOH, I currently believe that Satchel Paige is overrated, too, so I guess we'll see.

But for now it looks like Biz is going to drop from #2 on my prelim to very low or off ballot. He obviously is not the hitter that John Beckwith was, much less Mule Suttles, but in Beckwith's case one can also argue that Beckwith's defensive value, at least based on his position(s), is in the ballpark. So I don't see Mackey right now rating ahead of Beckwith.

I know some will protest that Mackey was a much better defender than Beckwith, but so far that is hearsay, is it not? I mean, his 1921 numbers do not suggest a great or even a good fielder. Of course he must have improved once he focused in on being a catcher, but how much? Right now I haven't seen any evidence to answer that question.

So if there's a chance that he was closer to Ferrell or Lopez, or even Bresnahan and Schang, than to Cochrane and Hartnett, he is borderline at best.
   64. Gary A Posted: April 09, 2005 at 12:29 AM (#1242392)
More detailed 1921 park factors for Washington Park, Indianapolis, if they are helpful:

AVE: 1.010980
OBA: .986457
SLG: .958260
HR: .527612
3B: 1.457119
   65. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 09, 2005 at 01:51 AM (#1242760)
Through 1931, Mackey's ISO is around .110ish.

The rest of the way, it's around .030ish.

Yikes!
   66. David C. Jones Posted: April 09, 2005 at 02:01 AM (#1242807)
Yeah, Mackey's statistical resume is curious. Based on the subjective information I had on him, I had him at the top of my ballot; now I'll probably bump him down several slots, though I still like him based on his peak hitting and his tremendous defensive value at a very important defensive position. I agree that he's a better candidate than Bell.
   67. Brent Posted: April 09, 2005 at 02:56 AM (#1242986)
Mackey played one season in Cuba, 1924-25, for the pennant-winning Almendares team and hit well:

 AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR SB  Avg
152  29  47  11   5   0  0 .309

By comparison, the league leaders in doubles were Oms and Torriente, tied with 13 each, and the league leader in triples was Lloyd with 6. The leader in home runs was Esteban Montalvo with 5. It looks like roughly half the regulars hit .300, so his average is good but doesn't particularly stand out.
   68. Chris Cobb Posted: April 09, 2005 at 08:04 PM (#1243789)
I'm going to start work on win shares for Mackey today.

My plan is to use Dr. Chaleeko's revised pa projections and to switch playing time from 1934 to 1927 as per Gary A.'s suggestion. I had held out the games in 1927 in the belief that Mackey would have missed time due to injury at _some_ point. Since it turns out that it was 1934, it makes sense to reduce his games for 1934 rather than 1927.

Based on reputation, I'm going to project him as an A defender at catcher. Based on the fielding data we have, I'm going to project him as a C defender at other positions.

I still wish we knew something about 1932 . . .

Knowing that xbh reporting in Philadelphia box scores was spotty and knowing that 1934 was a serious injury year for Mackey, it's quite possible that he continued straight through at around a 100 OPS as a hitter until his injury. That would give him good seasons in 1932 and 1933, making his prime two years longer than we are currently estimating it.

I wish we knew something about 1932.

I assume if gadfly knew the story, he'd have told it by now . . .

I wonder if anybody has written a Mackey biography . . .
   69. Gary A Posted: April 09, 2005 at 09:01 PM (#1243902)
I did run across a remark in Holway's chapter on Mackey in *Blackball Stars* where he says that nothing has been found about 1932. Since Mackey played for Hilldale before '32, and for the successor Philadelphia Stars afterwards, and since Hilldale is fairly well documented for 1932 (they were in the East-West League), it seems likely that he didn't play in '32.

That's one cool thing about this project here. Maybe somebody's sitting on some biographical info about Mackey that would clear this up (maybe for the Out of the Shadows project?)--but, by careful analysis of published records and some original work, we've managed to outline Mackey's career and locate this major turning point. It's amazing that he had a Sisler-like shape to his career, and nobody knew it--or at least nobody said so publicly.

I always thought it slightly odd that Mackey was a well-known "grand old man" in the eastern NeL, was Campanella's mentor and so on, yet didn't get picked for the HOF. Partly this was because they settled on Gibson as the catcher; but I wonder if it's because a lot of the people who were responsible for the first wave of NeL selections had simply never seen him as the hitter he was in the 20s, and thought of him as a (relatively) light-hitting defensive specialist. Certainly it's his defense most of them talk about.
   70. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 09, 2005 at 10:05 PM (#1243975)
Is there anything that says he suffered some horrific inury or illness during/before the 1932 season? It is odd that his missing year is right at the turning point of his career. Yet another similarity between he and Sisler.
   71. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 09, 2005 at 10:28 PM (#1243999)
Regarding 1933-1934. Riley has Mackey on a touring team in the orient in 1934 and 1935. Also in 1934, he writes this ambiguous note:

"Mackey teamed with the team's young lefthanded fireballer, Slim Jones, to form a superb battery and together they provided the impetus for the Stars' drive to win the NNL pennant with a come-from-behind victory over the Chicago American Giants in the seven-game league championship series."

I say ambiguous because it can be interpreted to mean he formed a battery with Jones all season long or that he only formed a battery with with Jones during the stretch drive or the playoffs. For his part, Jones was with the team all year (per Riley), so it's Mackey whose presence is not exactly nailed down. On the other hand, I don't know whether the Stars won the championship two years running (33 and 34) but Riley writes in Jones's entry that Slim won the deciding game of the 1933 championship series against the same CAGs.

Who knows what to believe....
   72. David C. Jones Posted: April 09, 2005 at 11:56 PM (#1244219)
With regards to Mackey's whereabouts for the 1932 season, I have been searching today through the Baltimore Afro-American. I found a story which I will pass along:

This is from April 16, 1932:

The headline reads:
Biz Mackey is a Witness in $160,000 Suit

Ex-Sox and Hilldale Catcher on Stand in California

The gist of the story was that Mackey was testifying in a suit involving a white boxer named Ace Hudkins. Hudkins's girlfriend was suing him for $160,000 for "breach of promise" because he had promised to marry her. But on September 1, 1930, Hudkins allegedly beat her, so she filed suit.

Mackey was called to the stand to testify to the effect that he had slept with this woman, and that she frequented the "colored" part of Los Angeles, and slept with other black men. Mackey's testimony, along with those of three other black men, one of them a Negro Leaguer named Neal Pullen, succeeded in getting the case dismissed.

Unfortunately, the only thing the article says about Mackey was that he testified and that he was a "famous National League catcher", although the headline states that he was "Ex-Sox and Hilldale catcher."

I should note that the article only states that Mackey testified that the woman "caroused" with black men "till dawn" but I assume the implication was that she had slept with black men.

I'll come back if I find anything else on Mackey.
   73. David C. Jones Posted: April 09, 2005 at 11:57 PM (#1244227)
Okay, another article on page 15 of the same issue of the Afro-American lists Mackey among players who had been "Notified to report" to the Hilldale club for the coming season.
   74. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 12:15 AM (#1244265)
Unfortunately, those are the only results I can find on Mackey for 1932.
   75. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 12:19 AM (#1244272)
I've just found a source (an old MLB.com article) which states that Mackey led a tour of Negro Leaguers in Japan twice, in 1927 and in 1932. I don't know if the 1932 tour would have been before or after the season...
   76. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 12:45 AM (#1244342)
5) 1927 is low in games played because Mackey spent the first 2/3 of the season on a tour of Japan. Had he been in the majors, this wouldn't have happened, but I figure it's entirely possible Mackey had an injury we don't know about that would have cost him part of a season somewhere along the line.

I've been scouring the sources looking for information about to back up the reference to a 1932 Japan tour, but perhaps something similar happened in '32? It would make sense for him to do something like that, given the economic situation at the time.
   77. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 01:20 AM (#1244436)
I'm finding more stuff on Mackey in 1932, and will pass it along as I find it:

Baltimore Afro-American, May 7, 1932 p. 15 has a preview of Hilldale's opening series. In it, the writer states, "Bizz Mackey will be behind the pan, backed up by the competent Baltimore Joe Lewis."
   78. Howie Menckel Posted: April 10, 2005 at 02:00 AM (#1244517)
I see Mackey as our most intriguing challenge yet...
   79. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 02:11 AM (#1244533)
After a thorough search of the Afro-American for the months of April through September, I never again found a mention of Mackey. He never appeared in a box score for Hilldale, or any of the batting registers published in the newspaper. It'd be great if I could get my hands on a black Philadelphia newspaper, which might fill me in on what happened to him that he went from being their front-string catcher one week to vanished the next.

My guess is that he went to Japan. I have the one article from MLB.com stating that; which of course could be completely wrong, but at this point it's the best information I can find. The Baltimore newspaper made absolutely no mention of any tour of Japan. I think it's a reasonable guess at this point that Mackey decided to dump his Hilldale contract at the last second to barnstrom in Japan, where economic prospects were brighter. I'll let you guys know if I find anything better...
   80. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 04:34 AM (#1244678)
I've also just noticed that in SABR's Negro Leagues book, Mackey is listed as playing for the Philadelphia Royal Giants (Winter). This is the same team name used by the author of the MLB.com article when referring to the team that toured Japan.
   81. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 10, 2005 at 12:44 PM (#1244860)
If he was merely playing in Japan, which at this point seems to be the most probably solution, his offensive drop off is even more curious. Unless, that is, he got parasites...
   82. Gary A Posted: April 10, 2005 at 02:05 PM (#1244902)
Updated Biz Mackey Batting Statistics, 1921
(I added a few games)

G-69 (team 79)
AB-255
H-76
D-9
T-9
HR-8
R-40
W-16
HP-5
SH-7
SB-4
AVE-.298
OBA-.351
SLG-.498
   83. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 10, 2005 at 02:58 PM (#1244934)
David C.,

The info you're supplying may contradict Riley's info yet again. Riley has Mackey in the orient in 1927 as well, but then has him traveling in 1933 and 1934, not 1932. But as I pointed out earlier, he also may have Slim Jones's championship win wrong too. All of which is to say that, in the words of Agent Mulder, "The truth is out there."

One other thing. If Mackey totally lost his power after 1934, how long could he have hung around as a backup catcher in the big leagues? Is putting up an OPS in the high 500s offset by the defense? And if the injury in 1934 was severe, would it not also have effected his defense?
   84. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 04:15 PM (#1245002)
It seems to me that during this time there were plenty of catchers who were excellent defensively but supplied subpar offense in the major leagues.

Al Lopez, for instance, was putting up awful numbers during his late 20s, yet still played another 10 seasons. In 1935, his OPS was 551 in 378 PAs.

Al Spohrer had 2,383 PAs in an eight-year career, with an OPS+ of 70.

Given Mackey's defensive skills, I don't have much doubt that he would have continued playing in the majors had he been white.
   85. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 10, 2005 at 05:01 PM (#1245056)
I agree with David, even today (when GM's have more analytical tools at their disposal) Mike Matheny, Brad Ausmus, and a few others have even gotten new contracts based on their defensive reputation. This comes in spite of awful offensive numbers and declining defense. Catcher is just a weird position.
   86. Michael Bass Posted: April 10, 2005 at 05:25 PM (#1245127)
I agree he would have played, based on his overall reputation and his (I'm assuming) continued good defense.

However, whether he would have played or not is going to be nearly irrelevant to his HOM case, at least for my vote. Like the majority of Sisler's post-injury career, Mackey's post-1932 career looks to be a non-factor.

On the other side of the argument though, I caution against judging Mackey solely on his overall estimated OPS+. Just as his post-1932 career should not count for him very much, it certainly shouldn't subtract from his pre-1932 career.
   87. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 10, 2005 at 07:37 PM (#1245758)
Just as his post-1932 career should not count for him very much, it certainly shouldn't subtract from his pre-1932 career.

Definitely agree, Mackey. Unfortunately, unless Chris' WS estimations tell a different tale, it appears that he may be roommates with Sisler in the "close, but no cigar" section near my ballot.
   88. David C. Jones Posted: April 10, 2005 at 11:44 PM (#1246407)
I've put in an email to someone who's been collecting biographical information on Negro Leaguers, to see if he knows what happened to Mackey in 1932, or if he knows anything about a tour of Japan that took place that year. I will report back to this thread if I get any information that sheds any light.
   89. sunnyday2 Posted: April 11, 2005 at 02:29 PM (#1247204)
I'll put this here rather than gum up my ballot. Biz Mackey was #2 on my prelim, based (obviously) on his reputation. Now that the prelim numbers are in, he will fall off my ballot.

Even in the first half of his career he had one 140, one 130 and one 120 OPS+. It is not at all obvious that he was a better hitter than Roger Bresnahan or Wally Schang. On the contrary it appears almost certain that he was not as good.

And while his defensive reputation was stellar, the only defensive evidence we've seen (from 1921) shows a mediocre defender. Obviously he got better once he or somebody decided that he would focus on catching. And the fact that he played some IF suggests a very athletic fellow, but that's skills not value. So to date I consider the quality of his defense to be an open question.

Of course we have not seen his WS but since I am more of a peak/prime voter I'm not sure that his WS analysis will be a deal-maker.

Right now I consider Bresnahan to be the best catcher candidate, but Mackey will rate more highly because his case is still being actively considered. Bresnahan's place in the pecking order, on the other hand, is pretty well fixed.

I will have Mackey about #16 on (off) my ballot while Bresnahan will continue to be in the 20s somewhere. (If anything Howie's positional analysis on the ballot discussion thread tempts me to move Bresnahan up but I have fended off that temptation before.) If and when I feel confident about Mackey, and if my current impression becomes fixed, then he will probably be down in the 30s.
   90. Gary A Posted: April 11, 2005 at 03:32 PM (#1247319)
Mackey's 1928 fielding statistics aren't incompatible with the idea that he was a great catcher (copying these from my post above):

Fielding-catcher
G-48* (1st)
DI-402* (1st)
PO-165 (2nd)
A-29 (3rd)
E-6
DP-0
FPCT-.970 (NeL east c .968)
PB-1
SBA-14
SBA/9 inn.-0.31* (1st; NeL east 0.91)
(Stolen bases were underreported in Hilldale games, to what extent I'm not sure. The figure for Hilldale's backup catcher, Joe Lewis, is 0.56.)

Fielding-shortstop
G-9
DI-64.3
PO-14
A-19
E-6
DP-3
RF-4.62 (NeL east ss 5.07)
FPCT-.846 (NeL east ss .917)

Mackey also played 3 games at first base; 2 games at third base; 1 game at second base; 1 game in right field.
   91. Gary A Posted: April 11, 2005 at 03:37 PM (#1247334)
My best guess now is that in 1928 about a fifth of the east's stolen bases weren't counted, and for Hilldale games about a third weren't counted. This is only a rough guess, but Mackey's figure for stolen bases allowed per game would be 0.46 (still easily the best, after all adjustments are made), while the regional figure would be 1.14.
   92. David C. Jones Posted: April 11, 2005 at 03:56 PM (#1247367)
Since stolen bases were much more common in the Negro Leagues than the Major Leagues during this time, wouldn't it be correct to say that Mackey's skill in this area translated to actual value for his teams?
   93. Gary A Posted: April 11, 2005 at 03:56 PM (#1247369)
I've been wondering: if the injury theory about Mackey's career is correct (that he had 1 or possibly 2 major injuries around 1932-34, and his hitting subsequently dropped off badly), what kind of injury or injuries would affect his hitting so strongly but leave him still able to function as a top defensive catcher?

It's also worth noting that fans voted Mackey the starting catcher in the first East-West All-Star Game in 1933, over Josh Gibson. In 1934 he wasn't even on the ballot. He played in three more East-West games, in 1935, 1936, and 1938 (plus an honorary appearance in 1947, on his 50th birthday). He finished second among eastern catchers to Gibson in '35 and '36, and was voted the starting job in '38 at the age of 40 (beating out Gibson and Bill Perkins).
   94. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:00 PM (#1247382)
what kind of injury or injuries would affect his hitting so strongly but leave him still able to function as a top defensive catcher?

A back injury?
   95. karlmagnus Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:08 PM (#1247410)
Moderate eye trouble's another possibility -- eyesight might be good enough for catching, but not for top level hitting. Think that would affect OBP more than SLG, though.
   96. Chris Cobb Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:08 PM (#1247412)
While not discounting the theory that his injury in 1934 permanently lowered Mackey's ability as a hitter, I think it's also plausible that he was simply experiencing the offensive decline that has almost always marked the careers of catchers over the age of 35 (everybody is declining, then, of course, but the decline for catchers is steeper). He was 37 that season, after all.
   97. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:23 PM (#1247441)
Chris, do you have any idea when your Mackey Win Shares projections will be up and ready? You're holding up my ballot!

:-D
   98. Chris Cobb Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:34 PM (#1247476)
Tonight for sure; I was busier over the weekend than I expected . . .
   99. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 11, 2005 at 04:37 PM (#1247483)
Tonight for sure; I was busier over the weekend than I expected . . .

Take your time, Chris. My impatience is only a testament to your fine work. :-)
   100. Gary A Posted: April 11, 2005 at 06:07 PM (#1247759)
While not discounting the theory that his injury in 1934 permanently lowered Mackey's ability as a hitter, I think it's also plausible that he was simply experiencing the offensive decline that has almost always marked the careers of catchers over the age of 35 (everybody is declining, then, of course, but the decline for catchers is steeper). He was 37 that season, after all.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing--it's important to remember his age when this decline occurs.
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