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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bobby Avila

The Indians had four of the top 6 in the 1954 AL MVP vote. Avila won the batting title that year, and and in one of the closest elections (top 5 wise) he finished 3rd with 203 points, behind Berra (230) and Doby (210). Doby, Avila and Lemon split the Indian vote (5 firsts each), and Berra snuck through.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 03, 2005 at 02:24 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 03, 2005 at 02:31 AM (#1717081)
As requested by Dr. Chaleeko . . .
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:17 AM (#1717136)
Eligible when?
   3. DavidFoss Posted: November 03, 2005 at 04:28 AM (#1717178)
1965 (November 28)—elect 2
WS W3 Rookie Name-Pos (Died)
323 97.2 1938 Enos Slaughter-RF (2002)
296 77.6 1939 Mickey Vernon-1B (living)
268 77.3 1942 Larry Doby-CF (2003)
204 85.5 1942 Murray Dickson-P (1989)
220 68.9 1944 Andy Pafko-CF/RF (living)
217 68.7 1946 Carl Furillo-RF (1989)
233 62.1 1946 Del Ennis-LF (1996)
174 52.3 1945 Hank Sauer-LF (2001)
175 50.2 1950 Bobby Avila-2B (2004)
144 41.2 1948 Granny Hamner-SS/2B (1993)
132 40.4 1950 Chico Carrasquel-SS (living)
125 29.8 1949 Gus Zernial-LF (living)
101 38.8 1947 Jim Hearn-P (1998)
109 35.4 1951 Solly Hemus-SS (living)
104 35.9 1949 Stan Lopata-C (living)
105 35.3 1948 Carl Erskine-P (living)
095 37.0 1948 Bob Porterfield-P (1980)
097 36.0 1949 Alex Kellner-P (1996)
HF% Career Name-pos (born) BJ – MVP - All-Star
HF 42-59 Larry Doby-OF/2B (1923) – 1 – 2*
00% 40-59 Claude Johnson-P (1922) – 0 – 1*
   4. OCF Posted: November 03, 2005 at 07:05 AM (#1717287)
And at that, the MVP vote repsesnts a consolidation of the Cleveland pitcher vote in Lemon's favor, when it's not so obvious that he's any more deserving than Garcia or Wynn.

The key factual question about Avila: what does his Mexican League playing record look like?

The philosphical question: what should we make of such a Mexican League record? Was he someone for whom there existed significant practical barriers beyond his control keeping him out of playing at the highest level of competition?
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 03, 2005 at 02:42 PM (#1717396)
Avila's Mexican record is very good, and I ran MLEs for him based on a conversion factor of .87 (except for 46-47 where I upped it to .90). I'll post his actual numbers after this post.

The 1949 season in the MLEs below needs a little explanation. In 1949, Avila was mostly a pinch runner, end of the bench guy who was just breaking into the majors. Obviously if I'm projecting him to start his career much earlier this isn't going to be true anymore. So I did the usual averaging of surrounding seasons to build a 1949 that would be more consistent with a typical career path.

Finally, his FWS are based on his career FWS rates.

YEAR LG AGE  PO  AVG  OBP  SLG    G   PA   AB    H   TB  BB ops+  sfws
----------------------------------------------------------------------
1944 NL  20  2b .276 .353 .348  154  612  547  151  190  65   98  18.5
1945 NL  21  2b .263 .337 .312  114  450  404  106  126  46   81  11.1
1946 NL  22  2b .311 .392 .408  146  589  520  162  212  70  127  24.5
1947 NL  23  2b .302 .382 .403  122  491  435  131  175  56  109  19.6
1948 NL  24  2b .205 .270 .222   59  227  208   43   46  18   34   2.3
1949 AL  25  2b .300 .390 .404  140  563  497  151  201  66  109  22.6
1950 AL  26  2b .299 .387 .383   80  230  201   60   77  29   98   7.0
1951 AL  27  2b .304 .374 .410  141  602  542  165  222  60  112  24.0
1952 AL  28  2b .300 .370 .415  150  664  597  179  248  67  118  24.0
1953 AL  29  2b .286 .353 .379  141  617  559  160  212  58   98  22.0
1954 AL  30  2b .341 .404 .477  143  614  555  189  265  59  142  34.0
1955 AL  31  2b .272 .368 .400  141  619  537  146  215  82  107  20.0
1956 AL  32  2b .224 .317 .318  138  583  513  115  163  70   69  14.0
1957 AL  33  2b .268 .334 .289  129  509  463  124  134  46   73  13.0
1958 AL  34  2b .253 .349 .365  113  430  375   95  137  55   98  12.0
1959 2lg 35  2b .227 .314 .322   93  298  264   60   85  34   74   5.0
======================================================================
                .282 .360 .375 2004 8097 7217 2037 2709 881  101 273.6




If you use 162adjWS, his career total is 287.
   6. BDC Posted: November 03, 2005 at 02:47 PM (#1717401)
Avila was definitely on the wrong side of the color line prior to 1947, and he was caught in a bit of a logjam in the Indians organization after they signed him and a boatload of other stars of color in 1947-48.

He was a Mexican League batting champion with .346 in 1947 (age 23), and hit .333 with 125 runs scored in the Mexican League in 1960 (age 36). See his bio page at the Mexican Salón de la Fama
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 03, 2005 at 02:54 PM (#1717406)
Here are Avila's non-MLB stats (excluding his 1960 MxL season). The TMG for 1943-1945 in the MxL are estimates. Avila played in more games than are listed in the standings or among pitchers decisions.

MEXICO
YEAR LG  TM  AGE PO TMG   G  AB   H  TB 2B 3B HR SB BB  K  AVG  SLG  BB/H LG AVG LG SLG LG BB/H                     
1943 MX  PUE 19  2B  88  88 301  69  83  3  4  1  8 41 31 .229 .276 .594  .273   .367   .402
1944 MX  PUE 20  2B  90  90 371 124 175 17 14  2 19 53 16 .334 .472 .427  .284   .387   .464
1945 MX  PUE 21  2B  92  92 354 124 170 17 10  3 25 63 20 .350 .480 .508  .291   .405   .445
1946 MX  PUE 22  2B  98  93 384 138 188 27  7  3  6 38 12 .359 .490 .275  .281   .381   .422
1947 MX  PUE 23  2B 119 113 428 148 198 25 11  1 18 74 20 .346 .463 .500  .278   .366   .436

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE                  
1948 IL  BAL 24  2B 147  56 182  40  49  9  0  0  6 23 11 .220 .269 .575  .260   .401   .495

CUBAN WINTER LEAGUE                  
1945 cwl alm 21  2b  60  29 102  22  25  3  0  0  2       .216 .245       .263   .335 
1946 cwl mar 22  2b  66  63 223  72  93 13  4  0  9       .323 .417       .250   .330 
1947 pfl cub 23  2b  91  58 207  63  73  4  3  0 17       .304 .353       .266   .349 
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:04 PM (#1717416)
Here's an important (I think) question. Is the conversion rate for the MxL just way too darn high?

I mean, in 1948 Bobby Avila goes into the "white" or "mainstream" baseball world and hits .220 in a MiL. In 1949 he breaks into the majors but sits on the bench. Maybe he coulda done more if he'd had the chance, but hey, he hit .220 the year before....

It just seems weird to me that he earns 73-74 WS in 1944-47 and then in 1948-49-50 he suddenly is not good enough to contribute to a ML team. Now, in the real world, this happens to guys all the time. They get hurt, they go into a slump, whatever. But in this case we know that the underlying reality is he made a very very significant change in the environment in which he played and that is why we see this huge slump in 1948 and 1950 (MLESs) and 1949, too (real world).

If he was not good enough to contribute to a ML team in 1948-49-50, it just begs the question of whether he could really have contributed before that.
   9. Chris Cobb Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:13 PM (#1717422)
I wonder what the story of Avila's 1948 season is. He was a terrible hitter that year and didn't play much, but the Indians decided to bring him up to the majors and have him on the bench in 1949 rather than leave him to season a year longer in the minor leagues. Was he hurt in 1948? Having a difficult transition to the U.S.?
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:22 PM (#1717434)
I don't remember who addressed this in a previous discussion, but Avila's horrific 1948 has mostly to do with sustaining some kind of injury early in the season. In 1949, he was indeed part of a logjam. I can't remember what thread it was where someone posted this information, but maybe they would be kind enough to repost or point us toward that thread?

So the MxL translations could be too high, but I don't think that's the case. I've lowered them to .87 from previous levels, but I think in this instance the culprit is the backstory.
   11. Chris Cobb Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:38 PM (#1717449)
But in this case we know that the underlying reality is he made a very very significant change in the environment in which he played and that is why we see this huge slump in 1948 and 1950 (MLESs) and 1949, too (real world).

That's partly why I asked the question about 1948.

For NeL players, the transition from NeL to AAA was not all that difficult, but the transition to the majors was, esp. if they went directly from the NeL. It looks like in Avila's case, the transition from the MxL to the IL was difficult (though we don't know how much injury or cultural factors contributed), so this suggests that we are correct to treat the MxL as lower in quality than both the NeL and the top minors at this time. Is it low enough? We haven't done as rigorous a study of MxL playing levels as we have of NeL ones, but I think Avila's data is not out of line with what we would expect.

All the transitional data that we see suggests that no matter how good a player is, making a transition to a different playing context, especially when it is accompanied by an increase in the level of competition, will temporarily tank a player's numbers. The transition period is always weak. True for Irvin, true for Doby, true for Willard Brown, true for Luke Easter, true for Bobby Avila. After a big initial drop off and then one to two full years of play, if given the opportunity and not brought down by injuries, the players tend to achieve the level of play their translated stats indicated that they would.

The question is, could they have made the transition successfully at an earlier age? For a player like Irvin, the answer is obviously yes. For Avila, that's less clear, but consider that Boudreau, Doerr, Gordon, Pesky, Reese, Rizzuto, and Stephens all were average-to-above average major league regulars by age 23, and several had their first great year at age 22. Avila's quality of play at the major-league level looks comparable to this group, though towards the back end, but his career starts later. If the translations show that he would have been an average-to-above average player at age 22, I think that's plausible. Had he followed a normal career path, his ws progression would probably have been more like this:

1944 2
1945 7
1946 18
1947 11
1948 25
1949 20
1950 23

And his development would seem quite normal.
   12. Chris Cobb Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:41 PM (#1717453)
If he was injured in 1948, then his development, as presented by our translations, fits even more neatly with what we would expect.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: November 03, 2005 at 03:44 PM (#1717455)
Your points are well taken, and if there was an injury, then....

Overall, I would probably agree that he was a +/-250-270 WS player with a 120 5 year peak. A HoVG player, not quite ballot-worthy, below Gordon, Doerr and Doyle but not by a lot.
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 03, 2005 at 04:01 PM (#1717473)
Sunnyday,

I concur with post #12. By the MLEs only, I've got Avila a pinch ahead of Evers and Lazzeri, and, ironically, smidge behind Gordon.
   15. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 03, 2005 at 04:02 PM (#1717476)
I meant post 13. Though I also agree with post 12.
   16. KJOK Posted: November 04, 2005 at 07:02 AM (#1718585)
I thought I had posted about Avila somewhere, but can't find it...

In 1946, Avila led the Mexican League with a .367 average for Pueblo.

In the 46/47 Cuban Winter League, Avila hit .323 for Marianno and lost the batting title on the last day of the season to Lou Klein.

In 1947 for Pueblo, Avila led the Mexican League again with a .346 average.

In 47/48 Cuban Winter League, Avila was in the top 5 in batting at last report I can find.

In the spring of 1948, Avila joined Cleveland for spring training, then was assigned to Baltimore of the IL.

From June 9, 1948 Sporting News:

"Beto Avila, flashy Mexican second baseman of the Orioles, was discovered to have an acute case of hernia and advised to undergo an immediate operation....Avila planned to return to Mexico for the surgery, which will sideline him for four to six weeks.

The Mexican, who got off to a slow start...had complained of feeling tired and weak recently. He was second in the league....in stolen bases..."
   17. KJOK Posted: November 04, 2005 at 07:09 AM (#1718587)
Avila returned to the Orioles at the very end of July, 1948. Avila ended up hitting only .220 in 182 AB's.

In 1949, Avila was designated as one of 16 bonus players that had to remain all year on the major league roster, so Avila mostly pinch ran all season.
   18. KJOK Posted: November 04, 2005 at 07:15 AM (#1718588)
Avila's 1948 Fielding stats - 2B:

G-50
PO-125
A-137
E-9
DP-27
PCT-.967
   19. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 04, 2005 at 10:21 AM (#1718636)
Didn't he prefer to go by Roberto, rather than Bobby?
   20. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 04, 2005 at 03:29 PM (#1718732)
KJOK, you did post it somewhere else, I just couldn't remember where or find it when I used the search function. Thanks for reposting.
   21. KJOK Posted: November 05, 2005 at 03:03 AM (#1719646)
Didn't he prefer to go by Roberto, rather than Bobby?

He seemed to be referred to as "Beto" a lot, but not sure if he preferred that name or not...
   22. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 05, 2005 at 04:30 AM (#1719714)
In the Mexican Encyclopedia he is refered to as Beto.
   23. sunnyday2 Posted: September 02, 2007 at 02:07 AM (#2508098)
bump
   24. sunnyday2 Posted: September 02, 2007 at 02:08 AM (#2508103)
From the Sam Rice thread where everyone will be sure not to find it.

Comps

Everybody here played 154 games so I haven't adjusted that. I've only adjusted for games lost to WWI and WWII, and of course Avila's totals are MLE adjusted.

Avila 274 CWS 34-24-24 124 21.8

Doerr 308* 27-27-25 131 22.6
Gordon 293* 31-27*-27* 134 21.1

Evers 268 28-27-27 117 24.3

Lazzeri 252 30-27-24 115 23.5
Myer 258 33-24-23 115 21.7

Doerr and Gordon were better, especially after you adjust for their missed WWII years, though you could argue that Avila was better than Doerr at his peak (at least for one year, a la Rizzuto) and you could note that Avila has a better rate than Gordon.

Evers is closer overall, but the rate is the only place where he is better.

Avila looks pretty clearly like a better player than Lazzeri or Buddy Myer, not that either is a ringing endorsement for HoM-worthiness.

Avila 274 CWS 34-24-24 124 21.8
Rizzuto 297* 35-26-25 124 22.5

Offensive WS: Avila 192 Rizzuto 172

Probably not a HoMer. Avila has never been on my ballot. But I could probably argue that he is right there among eligible 2B's today. Personally I prefer Doyle and I like Dunlap and Monroe. But there's not another 20C MLer who is clearly better. Just a bunch of guys who are close and all of whom could be argued more on philosophical than on empirical grounds.
38. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: August 31, 2007 at 09:38 PM (#2507038)
I have run Avila through the new MLE routine and placing him in the AL this time, not the NL. It changes his WS a little bit:

YEAR WS BWS/FWS OPS+ AVG/OBP/SLG MLEPA
---------------------------------------
1944 19 13.4/7.3 88 257/314/345 620
1945 19 14.5/7.2 91 246/321/338 607
1946 20 14.6/6.9 90 267/318/365 587
1947 21 16.2/7.0 94 267/341/358 589
1948 6 2.6/2.8 60 241/310/292 241


Compare those rates to his MLB rates: .281/.359/.388 104 OPS+ in 5343 PA. Seems pretty reasonable to me since Avila debuted at 25 in MLB, so it makes sense that his offensive numbers would be lower than his MLB stats which are skewed toward his peak/prime years. In fact these rates look a lot like his age 33 and 34 years in 1957 and 1958 bit with better durability.

Taking those together with his MLb WS you get

1944 19
1945 19
1946 20
1947 21
1948 6
1949 23*
1950 7
1951 24
1952 24
1953 22
1954 34
1955 20
1956 14
1957 13
1958 12
1959 5
--------
tot 283
*pickup of previous MLEs

So he picks up a little bit in my new MLE routine, primarily in 1945. The primary reason why is that I did not use the CWL data in the MLEs: Avila played every MxL game but only 29 of 60 CWL games, the latter reducing his PAs in my previous MLEs but not being an issue in

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