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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, September 04, 2006

Catfish Hunter

Eligible in 1985.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:03 AM | 142 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 15, 2006 at 05:36 AM (#2177481)
Hunter has more innings but compared to the pitchers of his generation, Cone pitched more innings than Hunter.

That doesn't preclude the possibility that starting pitchers on the whole where more valuable and merit-worthy than in Cone's era.

Hunter came 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, & 10th in IP. Cone came in 1, 5, 5, and 8. Hunter threw almost 20% more career IP than Cone. I have trouble wrapping my brain around the notion that Cone could catch that through a generational adjustment let alone pass it up.
   102. sunnyday2 Posted: September 15, 2006 at 12:46 PM (#2177538)
There's pitchING which since 1893 has been of more or less consistent value (IMO).

Then three are pitchERS, individual examples of which have been of declining value since, oh, 1865 (because of steadily declining work loads). I think we all adjust our expectations for those individuals. Billy Pierce's raw numbers don't stack up to Rube Waddell's but the environment was different and we account for that. However, all of us voters account for that to different degrees. If pitching staffs split up the pitching value in small enough slices, is there a limit to how small of a workload we will honor? Probably. But I don't expect we'll all agree on what it is.
   103. Catfish326 Posted: September 15, 2006 at 01:32 PM (#2177572)
Catfish, you're new here. Perhaps you found this thread at BTF's main topics section. This isn't Cooperstown. This isn't how we think Cooperstown should vote, this is the Hall of Merit. .... Well played, David Foss. We will continue to get more and more visitors here, and I hope we can welcome them while also clarifying what this four-year exercise is about.

I'm not new here at all. Over the past 7 years or so, I have written several articles for this website. But, if the Hall of Merit is an exclusive club for only likeminded homogeneous sliderule geeks, please accept my apologies on the intrusion into your little smoky area of the Room of Ostrasizm.
   104. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 15, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2177580)
They aren't on the same planet, IMO. I haven't run the numbers, but I think Cone is going to be comparable to Billy Pierce, not Catfish Hunter.

I'll be happy if I'm wrong. Despite Cone's personal demons in the early 1990s, I've always admired him as a pitcher.
   105. JPWF13 Posted: September 15, 2006 at 01:47 PM (#2177585)
I'm not new here at all. Over the past 7 years or so, I have written several articles for this website. But, if the Hall of Merit is an exclusive club for only likeminded homogeneous sliderule geeks, please accept my apologies on the intrusion into your little smoky area of the Room of Ostrasizm.


good response.
   106. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 15, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2177592)
I'm not new here at all. Over the past 7 years or so, I have written several articles for this website. But, if the Hall of Merit is an exclusive club for only likeminded homogeneous sliderule geeks, please accept my apologies on the intrusion into your little smoky area of the Room of Ostrasizm.

Oh, c'mon Cat. What he's trying to say here is that our purpose is somewhat different than the HOF's, int that we honor players by primarily using objective measures and a commonsensical reading of the sport's history. Pointing out individual, single-game accomplishments doesn't therefore make a very compelling case for any candidate. So he presumed that perhaps you'd not been to this corner of BTF before since you were presenting information that isn't generally used here in support of candidates.

If you want to present evidence as to why the perfect game, or any single-game accomplishment, makes a candidate more qualified than another, go for it! Or if you want to generally discuss why/not such evidence could be helpful to us, that's great! I think I speak for us all in that, yes, we'd be skeptical of such arguments, but we'd hear them out and chew on it, and several of us would probably issue impassioned or dispassionate responses full of good reasons in support or rejection of your opinion. At least, that's how we try to do it. We're not theocratic experts, we're all just trying to figure stuff out together, which is what makes it fun.

The slide-rule-geek line is cute (though a bit cliched by now), but ironically, the majority of us are not mathematicians and, anyway, ad hominems aren't well appreciated in our quiet little area. Won't you stay a while and enjoy the discussion, ask some questions, try on some different points of view, and see if you don't enjoy learning from this collective exploration?
   107. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 06:58 PM (#2177872)
But, if the Hall of Merit is an exclusive club for only likeminded homogeneous sliderule geeks, please accept my apologies on the intrusion into your little smoky area of the Room of Ostrasizm.

What the hell was that for? The consensus here disagrees with you about Hunter, so we have to be insulted? Not a very mature stand.

If you want to make a case for him, go right ahead. If you want to submit a ballot that meets the requirements of our Constitution, feel free. But please spare us the bitterness regarding your favorite player.
   108. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 07:01 PM (#2177877)
BTW, if you looked at our ballots this election, you would be fully aware that the consensus is anything but "likeminded" or "homogenous."
   109. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 07:07 PM (#2177888)
Hunter came 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, & 10th in IP. Cone came in 1, 5, 5, and 8. Hunter threw almost 20% more career IP than Cone. I have trouble wrapping my brain around the notion that Cone could catch that through a generational adjustment let alone pass it up.

That's a good point, Chris. While I think Cone would have compiled more IP than Hunter if he started his career in 1965, that doesn't mean they would have been distributed the same way as Catfish's.
   110. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 07:24 PM (#2177917)
The slide-rule-geek line is cute (though a bit cliched by now),

How many of the electorate, forget about using one, have actually seen a slide ruler before? I remember using a multiplication ruler as a little kid in grammar school, but I have personally never used a real one in my life.
   111. karlmagnus Posted: September 15, 2006 at 07:28 PM (#2177925)
I have a 1965 Faber-Castell, top of the line, with trigonomertic functions, natural logarithms and all kinds of stuff. Lovely thing; will leave it to the Young Master to give to the Smithsonian in 2065.

(I was a teenage math nerd in 1965; now I'm just a nerd!)
   112. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 07:36 PM (#2177930)
(I was a teenage math nerd in 1965; now I'm just a nerd!)

I was just a baby in 1965. I was too young to have developed any nerdish qualities up to that point. :-)

Math was never my favorite subject in school, though I did okay in it. History was (and is) my favorite.
   113. Dizzypaco Posted: September 15, 2006 at 08:10 PM (#2177957)
BTW, if you looked at our ballots this election, you would be fully aware that the consensus is anything but "likeminded" or "homogenous."

As someone who has followed the debates for many "years" I have to disagree with you on this one, John. Its true that there are differences of opinion on some important issues (particularly peak versus career), but there is also quite a bit of consensus on many important issues. There is consensus on how to interpret various statistics, which leads to a strong consensus that both Sandy Koufax and Brooks Robinson are overrated (even though both went into the HOM). There is consensus that MLE's, whether for minor league stats, Negro League stats, Cuban stats, or anything else, are highly reliable and should be taken at face value. There is consensus that minor league statistics should be considered in voting. There is consensus that stats from the 20's and 30's should be taken at face value, leading to the extreme number of players elected from this era - possibly including Sewell. There seems to be a consensus that each voter have a specific "system", and not to deviate much from that system. There is consensus on the theory of how to aware extra credit for missing years, although it is implemented differently. There seems to be a general consensus on our ability to measure defensive statistics in all eras, although there is a lot of dsagreement on how actually to do it.

Some of this was set up in the constitution, I suppose, but I imagine that other areas of consensus emerged over time.
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 15, 2006 at 08:19 PM (#2177966)
Dizzy, we obviously toe the stathead line, as opposed to the orthodox stathead approach by writers and some fans. I was referring to the actual candidates on the our ballots, which are varying greatly this election. For example, out of 28 ballots so far, we have 17 different number ones.
   115. sunnyday2 Posted: September 15, 2006 at 08:23 PM (#2177971)
>There is consensus that MLE's, whether for minor league stats, Negro League stats, Cuban stats, or anything else, are highly reliable and should be taken at face value. There is consensus that minor league statistics should be considered in voting.

Dizzy, I don't know how many years you've been following this, but you misinterpret. Just 'cause we're not arguing about it anymore doesn't mean there is consensus. There are plenty of voters who don't agree with these. Today we are arguing about WWII credit.

>There is consensus that stats from the 20's and 30's should be taken at face value, leading to the extreme number of players elected from this era - possibly including Sewell.

I don't think this is why we've elected lots of players from the '20s and '30s, though I agree we have probably elected too many.

>There seems to be a consensus that each voter have a specific "system", and not to deviate much from that system.

How exactly would anybody construct a ballot without a method? This is nonsense. (Would re-vamping one's system be a deviation? If yes, then there is lot's of deviation. If not, then that is just semantics.)

>There is consensus on the theory of how to aware extra credit for missing years, although it is implemented differently. There seems to be a general consensus on our ability to measure defensive statistics in all eras, although there is a lot of dsagreement on how actually to do it.

Well, there is agreement that we should try to account for defense. Don't know what you mean about missing years.

There is no consensus BTW on WS vs. WARP or OPS+ or ERA+ other other uber-stats.

The one thing on which there is consensus is that we are going to have a HoM.
   116. OCF Posted: September 15, 2006 at 09:45 PM (#2178055)
How many of the electorate, forget about using one, have actually seen a slide ruler before? I remember using a multiplication ruler as a little kid in grammar school, but I have personally never used a real one in my life.

I was a college freshman in 1971, in a science/engineering intesive college, taking the standard freshman science/engineering courses. The hand calculator had just been invented. A very few students carried HP-35 calculators - the very first scientific calculator, with all of its eccentricities (reverse Polish notation, a weird bug involving the logarithm of 2.02), that cost $400. That's $400 in 1971 money (yikes!). A few more carried four-function calculators, or 4-function calculators with memory - those tended to cost $100 or $150. The majority of freshmen in these classes carried slide rules.

Me? I was a little different. I carried a one-page photocopy of a 4-place logarithm table. With practice - and I was in practice at the time - I could multiply, divide, or find roots nearly as fast as the people carrying slide rules, and, with interpolation, I could even get a 4th significant figure. (There's no way a slide rule is going to do better than three significant figures.)
   117. BDC Posted: September 15, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2178090)
I figured batting averages with a slide rule for many years after the advent of cheap calculators. A nudge of the slide and hey presto, lots easier than tapping in all those numbers. Spreadsheets made my slide rule obsolete, but I thought just the other day I'd like to find it and use it again if I revive my tabletop Strat league.

I'm not a HOM voter, though ...
   118. jimd Posted: September 15, 2006 at 11:16 PM (#2178140)
How many of the electorate, forget about using one, have actually seen a slide ruler before?

My father gave one to me when I was in high school. Learned to use it, too.

I was a college freshman in 1971,

Me too. By the late 70's, you could get a Texas Instruments calculator for around $25-30. I did, and never looked back. Don't even know where that slide rule went, unfortunately.
   119. Howie Menckel Posted: September 16, 2006 at 01:45 AM (#2178379)
Did Catfish wake up on the wrong side of the mud this morning?

Geesh, talk about no good deed going unpunished - here you have a guy who obviously has no clue about how the HOM works, so I try to be nice, and I get that for a response...
   120. JPWF13 Posted: September 16, 2006 at 02:01 AM (#2178401)
What the hell was that for? The consensus here disagrees with you about Hunter, so we have to be insulted? Not a very mature stand.


Did you read the post he was responding to? It was pretty condescending
   121. sunnyday2 Posted: September 16, 2006 at 02:21 AM (#2178436)
>Did Catfish wake up on the wrong side of the mud this morning?

>>Did you read the post he was responding to? It was pretty condescending

Well, #1, let's just say I registered here under a new handle and posted an argument that, oh, let's say, Tony Oliva should be in the HoF. If somebody surmised that I was new to the HoM, I could hardly blame them, even though I too once wrote an article (under a different identity) that appeared on BTF.

And #2, the "Catfish, you're new here" post wasn't half as condescending as the "slide rule geek" line, though I guess if you're new here (here meaning HoM, not just BTF), it's a little scary. But I don't think this bunch is half as scary as (one tenth as scary) as, well, let me just recommend that everybody go out and join some political discussion or other and then you can talk about scary.

But anyway, how about that Catfish Hunter? He was some pitcher.
   122. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 16, 2006 at 11:30 AM (#2178685)
Did you read the post he was responding to? It was pretty condescending

Then why didn't he respond only to that one poster then?
   123. Howie Menckel Posted: September 16, 2006 at 03:41 PM (#2178768)
Actually, he's responding to TWO posters - he separated two different comments with a few dots. I'm the second poster referenced.
JPWF13, can you read my previous message that got tossed into the mix, and explain why it becomes part of an obnoxious "slide rule geek" reply?
   124. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#2178776)
JPWF13, can you read my previous message that got tossed into the mix, and explain why it becomes part of an obnoxious "slide rule geek" reply?

I don't see a problem with either statements referenced, Howie. Your comment certainly was as polite and well-mannered as could be, as was David's (especially when you read his whole post in its entirety).
   125. Howie Menckel Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2178777)
Right, I don't mean to throw David under the bus, lol.
It's just that even if somehow one gets a negative vibe from that message (and I didn't at all), I think what cinches catfish's aggressiveness here is that I think my message might have been even MORE clearly an attempt to be positive. Yet it gets tossed in anyway, by someone in a snarky mood, obviously.
   126. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:17 PM (#2178784)
How many of the electorate, forget about using one, have actually seen a slide ruler before? I remember using a multiplication ruler as a little kid in grammar school, but I have personally never used a real one in my life.

My father gave me his. He was a psych major. (Figuring chi squares????) I think he gave it to me as a joke or a relic of some sort. I didn't ever learn to use it, but I have seen one.

Did you read the post he was responding to? It was pretty condescending
Agreed with John that even so, Cat should have likely retorted specifically to the post and called the original poster on this perception of condescencion. I don't think there's much reason to extend the commentary to the whole group.
   127. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:18 PM (#2178785)
I didn't ever learn to use it, but I have seen one.

Right, and I was an English major....
   128. Mark Donelson Posted: September 16, 2006 at 05:19 PM (#2178819)
I think it may have been my original Don Larsen post that got things off on the wrong foot with catfish, for which I'm sorry. I posted at a particularly crabby moment of the week, I guess.
   129. BDC Posted: September 16, 2006 at 05:57 PM (#2178843)
don't think there's much reason to extend the commentary to the whole group

No, but it did elicit a string of slide-rule confessions. Everything has its bright side :)
   130. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 16, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2178866)
No, but it did elicit a string of slide-rule confessions. Everything has its bright side :)

:-)
   131. Java94 Posted: September 16, 2006 at 06:38 PM (#2178883)
You can add Gary Puckett of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap into the Hibbing crowd. What's interesting about Hibbing's web site is that they totally ignore a guy named Gus Hall who was head of the American Communist Party and ran for President a few times; it's not that you have to like him or agree with him it's just that there's a long Socialist tradition in that part of Minnesota that he and Bobby Z came out of so they might has well own up to it.
   132. DavidFoss Posted: September 16, 2006 at 10:01 PM (#2179035)
Right, I don't mean to throw David under the bus, lol.

Ahhh!!! Heavy... can't... breathe!
   133. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 17, 2006 at 02:30 AM (#2179224)
You can add Gary Puckett of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap into the Hibbing crowd. What's interesting about Hibbing's web site is that they totally ignore a guy named Gus Hall who was head of the American Communist Party and ran for President a few times; it's not that you have to like him or agree with him it's just that there's a long Socialist tradition in that part of Minnesota that he and Bobby Z came out of so they might has well own up to it.

Am I missing something here or was this supposed to be posted somewhere else?
   134. DavidFoss Posted: September 17, 2006 at 05:05 AM (#2179267)
Am I missing something here or was this supposed to be posted somewhere else?

Posts #33 & #35 on the first page talks about Bob Dylan and other Hibbing guys. (I never really found out who the other guy Paul was talking about in #33, I wasn't entirely joking with my #35 response. Perhaps I'm a bit clueless with my folk music.).
   135. sunnyday2 Posted: September 17, 2006 at 10:23 AM (#2179305)
Paul was being cute, intimating that Hunter and Jackson were from Hibbing in response to the vagueness of the previous mention. The two guys from Hibbing are Dylan and McHale.
   136. Java94 Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:26 PM (#2179347)
Oh, in response to earlier comments I just added some unneeded stuff about it, I knew McHale and Dylan were from Hibbing but did not realize Maris had lived there too, so I looked it up...
   137. sunnyday2 Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:29 PM (#2179348)
Maris did indeed live in Hibbing for a time, but wasn't he known as the Fargo Flash for awhile? I think that's where he played high school ball (and I don't mean in a Coen brothers movie). And Bobby Vee was also known as the Fargo Flash, BTW, and Bob Dylan used to claim that he had played in Bobby Vee's band, though I believe that to be apocryphal.
   138. DavidFoss Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#2179356)
Maris did indeed live in Hibbing for a time, but wasn't he known as the Fargo Flash for awhile? I think that's where he played high school ball (and I don't mean in a Coen brothers movie)

Yeah, Maris was only born in Hibbing. He grew up in Grand Forks & Fargo, ND and went to high school in Fargo.
   139. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 17, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#2179433)
Posts #33 & #35 on the first page talks about Bob Dylan and other Hibbing guys.

Thanks, David. I remember the conversation now, but Hibbing didn't ring a bell when I saw the post.
   140. Catfish326 Posted: September 18, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2180470)
Did Catfish wake up on the wrong side of the mud this morning?

Geesh, talk about no good deed going unpunished - here you have a guy who obviously has no clue about how the HOM works, so I try to be nice, and I get that for a response...

I don't see a problem with either statements referenced, Howie. Your comment certainly was as polite and well-mannered as could be, as was David's (especially when you read his whole post in its entirety).

It's just that even if somehow one gets a negative vibe from that message (and I didn't at all), I think what cinches catfish's aggressiveness here is that I think my message might have been even MORE clearly an attempt to be positive. Yet it gets tossed in anyway, by someone in a snarky mood, obviously.


"No clue," "wrong side of the mud," "agressiveness," "snarky".....sounding a little hypocritical, aren't we?
   141. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 18, 2006 at 02:24 PM (#2180504)
"No clue," "wrong side of the mud," "agressiveness," "snarky".....sounding a little hypocritical, aren't we?

Not really, since I didn't use any of those phrases in my post that you highlighted. ;-)
   142. DavidFoss Posted: September 18, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#2180580)
Well, if I was snarky to you Catfish326, I apologize. I got a strong impression from your reponses on Lefty Gomez & Nolan Ryan that you were not completely clear on the differences between the HOM and the HOF. It is entirely reasonable and understandable for a new-to-the-HOM to be unclear on this. I tried in post #88 to describe the differences, but I can see how my phrasing of the first two sentences could be viewed as starting off on the wrong foot.

We welcome new posters and new views, but often it is helpful to read a 'year' or two of ballot & discussion threads to get a handle on the types of arguments we have here... or more importantly what works in changing people's minds about a player so that their candidacy progresses towards eventual induction.

Our electorate *is* diverse in many ways, but as Dizzypaco said above in #113 we have collectively come to agreement on a fair amount of non-trivial things. Perhaps some of these consensuses need reevaluation?

With Hunter, the knock on him is that he coasted on run support for much of his career. He played in pitcher's parks in pitchers eras so he's been overrated by history. Some (not all) of the credit he's received for the A's great run should go to some of the fine hitters that the A's had (Bando, Tenace, Rudi) -- these guys were underrated by history due to playing in that same park in the same era. Do you have evidence to refute this? Comparison/ranking of Hunter versus contemporary or eligible pitchers? Game log evidence that his ERA's were misleadingly high due to a small number of blowouts (i.e. his W/L records were not inflated by run support)? Evidence that he was used strategically against certain high-leverage opponents like Pierce and Ford were? It could that HOM voters are so fixated on Hunter's overratedness that they have failed to recognize that his value is still high? (lurkers may note this about guys like Mickey Welch, Lefty Gomez or Pie Traynor). These are the types of criticisms and launch off an interesting and constructive HOM discussion.

Of course, other interesting stories about his career are welcome as well.
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