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Monday, April 04, 2005

Chuck Klein

Chuck Klein

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2005 at 01:21 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2005 at 01:42 AM (#1230254)
Does he have enough career for the HoM?
   2. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 04, 2005 at 04:44 PM (#1231455)
To promote the Culture of Hall-Worthiness, I would err on the side of non-induction.
   3. EricC Posted: April 05, 2005 at 12:38 AM (#1232553)
Considering the distortions in his record caused by era, league, and park factors, and the fact that, for a "peak" candidate, he was only 4th best at his position during said peak, behind Ruth, Ott and Paul Waner, Klein is a non-starter for me. I'd agree with post #2, if I could figure out what it meant. :-)

By the way, why was Simmons declared eligible some years back and not Klein? Klein had even fewer and more ineffectual appearances during the war years than Simmons.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: April 05, 2005 at 01:38 AM (#1232612)
By the way, why was Simmons declared eligible some years back and not Klein? Klein had even fewer and more ineffectual appearances during the war years than Simmons.

This was two separate discussions in the Newly Eligibles thread. Simmons starts on page 4 #52 and Klein starts on page 5 #26.

Basically, there's a 10 game cutoff. Simmons' clock started ticking in 1941 (9G) and then was out of baseball in 1942. His 1943 comeback was seen as only due to the war and it was decided it should not reset his eligibility clock. Klein hung on over the 10 game limit in 42-43 (14G & 12G) and had never gotten his clock ticking until 1944.

I suppose it could have been argued otherwise, but it was at least discussed.
   5. Dag Nabbit at Posted: April 05, 2005 at 02:04 AM (#1232642)
he was only 4th best at his position during said peak, behind Ruth, Ott and Paul Waner,

Yea, but when the top 3 are Ruth, Ott, and Big Poison, it should be "was `only' the fourth best at his position." The drunken foul-line hitter is hardly the Mendoza Line for this project.

I have Cravvath in the off-ballot productions, and I like Klein a lot more than him.
   6. Michael Bass Posted: April 05, 2005 at 02:16 AM (#1232653)
I like Klein...his short productive career will probably keep him just off ballot, but he will be in the mix when the backlog returns (if it ever returns...yeesh :) ).
   7. EricC Posted: April 05, 2005 at 12:55 PM (#1233073)
Yea, but when the top 3 are Ruth, Ott, and Big Poison, it should be "was `only' the fourth best at his position."

The standard argument for Klein as a great player was that he had an incredible five-year peak from 1929-1933. Yet, if you look at the value of his peak in the context of what other RF were doing during the very same years:

RF Leaders in Win Shares, 1929-1933:

Ruth       173
Ott        149
P. Waner   142
Klein      140
Ba. Herman 131
Cuyler     106

the fact that there were 3 better RF and Babe Herman not far behind is a serious blow to peak argument. Furthermore, Ruth, Ott, and Waner are not HoM-worthy because they were as good as Klein for 5 years, but because they were as good or better than him for 5 years, and had 583, 379, and 281 career Win Shares, respectively, outside of these 5 years, as opposed to 98, 101, and 186 for Klein, Herman and Cuyler.

In addition, Klein's high black ink total is due to his home park and his raw numbers look better than they are because of his home park and because his peak was centered on the years of highest NL offense (present era excluded).

For those who view Klein highly because of peak, black ink, or raw numbers, there are reasons to use extra caution in putting this information in context.
   8. Trevor P. Posted: April 05, 2005 at 02:22 PM (#1233141)
I can't say I'll be voting for Klein, but regardless of the raw numbers here's why I'll at least be considering him:

Klein - 7168 PA, 137 OPS+
Earl Averill - 7215 PA, 133 OPS+

Averill's hovering around #17 on my ballot. So Klein's position will depend on how four points of additional OPS+ measures up against Averill's positional advantage and minor league credit.
   9. Michael Bass Posted: April 05, 2005 at 03:40 PM (#1233261)
Trevor, that's exactly where I'm at. Averill is 16, and Klein is very close to him. I think Averill will end up higher for me because of his minor league credit, but it's close, so Klein will be top 25.
   10. Chris Cobb Posted: April 05, 2005 at 03:54 PM (#1233294)
It's possible that Klein, like Sam Thompson before him, is a hitter whom WS likes less well than WARP as a result of their slightly differing approaches to adjusting for offensive context. OPS+ shows Klein ahead of Averill in rate value in similar playing time, but WS sees Averill as significantly more valuable as a hitter, 223.9 bWS to 208.5 bWS.

WARP1, on the other hand, sees Klein as the more valuable hitter, with 569 BRAR to Averill's 560.

WARP and WS agree that Averill was more valuable in the field. I think Averill has to rate ahead on fielding value, but Klein is closer to Averill than I had suspected.
   11. OCF Posted: April 05, 2005 at 03:55 PM (#1233295)
On my method for offensive value (modified adjusted RCAA and RC75% with a big years bonus), the player Klein most resembles is Sam Thompson. Now, we elected Thompson, but I was never much of a fan of Sam. Compared to him, Cuyler had more career, less from his big years. Manush, Herman, and Burns are behind Klein but only by a little bit.

More to the point, I have Klein's overall offensive value in the same range as Duffy and Ryan and less than Van Haltren - and Klein doesn't have their defense.
   12. Brent Posted: April 06, 2005 at 12:56 AM (#1234556)
It's possible that Klein, like Sam Thompson before him, is a hitter whom WS likes less well than WARP as a result of their slightly differing approaches to adjusting for offensive context.

I noticed that for 1930 Philadelphia won only 52 games, compared to their Pythagorean W/L projection of 60. That probably cost Klein 3 or 4 WS. For the other seasons during his 5-year peak I didn't see any notable deviations.
   13. Brent Posted: April 06, 2005 at 01:13 AM (#1234587)
In 1980 when Klein was inducted into that other Hall, I remember arguing in favor of his admittance. That still seems right to me; after admitting every 1920-40 outfielder who was better or comparable (including Heinie Manush, Kiki Cuyler, and Hack Wilson) as well as many who were worse (Lloyd Waner, Earle Combs, Chick Hafey, and Ross Youngs), drawing the line at Klein seemed unfair. (Instead, it appears the line has been drawn at Wally Berger and Babe Herman.)

The HoM's standards for this period, however, will be much higher, so I think it will be tough to make a case for Klein.
   14. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 06, 2005 at 02:16 AM (#1234704)
Brent makes a good point about the Phillies' pythag that year. The thing that I sometimes forget about Win Shares is that it gives WS for actual wins by a team and not be performance. Some may call it a weakness, but I like that there is a measure that does this. yet another reason to use both WARP and WS (if you are using uberstats at all) instead of ralying heavily on one and not the other.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: April 06, 2005 at 02:46 AM (#1234792)
I haven't been a fan of Thompson or Averill, not a fan of Klein, either.
We elect enough OFs, thank you. When SS's are at the high end, one can argue those are the best athletes and their fielding is a plus.
But many OFs are just mashers who have to play somwhere in the field, pre-1973 AL.
   16. The Honorable Ardo Posted: April 06, 2005 at 05:02 AM (#1235085)
TrevorP, re: #8:

Klein is way below Averill in terms of career value. Klein gained a huge, Coors Field-like advantage from his home park, and was nowhere near the defender Averill was.

I believe Sam Thompson was the HoM's worst mistake thus far (Duffy should have taken his place at the time), and Klein, timelining aside, is not in Thompson's class.
   17. Kelly in SD Posted: April 06, 2005 at 08:42 AM (#1235210)
From the observers of the day: Sporting News MVP of NL in 1931 and 1932. Sporting News Major League All-Star outfielder in 1932, 1933. BBWAA MVP in 1932. So the writers were impressed by him.

Does anyone know what happened to him after 1933, his age 28 season?
The original BJ HBA lists the following:
1934 - bothered much of season by what was called a charely horse - probably a pulled hamstring.
1937 - unknown injuries.
No source is listed. Cannot find any other injury source.
Over-adaption to unique situation (see Cravath, Gavvy).
He was a left-handed hitter. I wonder if he developed such a pull-hitting batting style to take "unique" advantage of Baker Bowl that he could not adjust after leaving. This would be similar to Fred Lynn's swing being so tailored for Fenway, inside-outing the ball off the monster. And just not adjusting when leaving the park? Your guess is as good as mine.

Under the what-might-have-been category: Klein was playing for a Cardinals farm team in 1928 when he had 26 homers in 88 games. The Cards had two teams in this particular minor league and had to sell off many players per Judge Landis. The Phillies outbid the Yankees for his services, paying $7,500. Imagine either the Cardinals or Yankees with him from 1929 to 1933.
   18. EricC Posted: April 06, 2005 at 10:23 AM (#1235263)
Does anyone know what happened to him after 1933, his age 28 season?

He changed parks. Home OBP+SLUG (not normalized) from 1929 to 1935 was 1168-1278-1221-1267-1305-919-748. Road OBP+SLUG was 965-967-740-815-774-843-904. When he moved from Philadelphia to Chicago, his road performance remained essentially the same.
   19. Gadfly Posted: April 07, 2005 at 10:37 PM (#1239632)
Although I do not adovocate Klein for the HOF or HOM, some things that I've noticed about the Colorado Rockies make me wonder about him. Their have been quite a number of Rockies with wild home/road splits (Galarraga, Burks, Bichette, etc.) that have NOT fallen apart after leaving the mile high city.

In fact, these Rockies' hit much better after leaving Denver than their home-road splits while in Denver would have led one to believe. Two in particular (Galarraga and Burks) seem to have had no real decline in their batting talent at all (it will be interesting to see how Larry Walker does this year in Saint Loo, if he can just stay healthy).

This Spring, Todd Helton was quoted as saying that, because fastballs and breaking balls move differently away from the thin air of Denver, his timing is just slightly off when he goes on the road.

Of course, this looks like self serving clap trap. However, there is quite a bit of evidence in the afore-mentioned careers to support the fact that his contention, that the extreme home advantage of Coors actually depresses his road statistics, might be true (I actually hope to see Helton traded some day, just to see what happens).

And, it should be said, whether it is the thin air or some other factor is also open to debate.

The interesting questions out of all this are: 1) Whether a player's extreme home park effects can so warp the player's talents that he loses his effectiveness on the road, and 2) Whether said player could, once he is out of the extreme enviroment, revert back to effectively using his talent in every park.

It is possible that Klein, hard as it is to believe, is actually being under-rated because of this phenomenon.

As far as Klein's career itself goes, there are two things to remember:

1) Klein had all the earmarks of a superstar before he came to the Major Leagues; and

2) Klein is one of those guys whose career path is really altered by an injury.

I remember reading somewhere about how gruesome Klein's 1934 thigh injury was (perhaps Bartell's book 'Rowdy Richard'). The thigh filled up with blood and calcification set in. Klein's once great foot speed was permanently diminished.

Interestingly, when Klein came back in 1935, this shows right up. He hit 21 homers, but only 14 doubles. This from a guy who was a doubles machine before the injury.

The home-road numbers provided by Eric C are very interesting (by the way, where are they from? By the time Retrosheet gets to the 20s and 30s, I'll be dead).

Consider the following OPS/Home OPS/Road OPS/Difference between home and Road OPs chart.

1928 23 0973
1929 24 1064 1168 0965 203
1930 25 1123 1278 0967 311
1931 26 0982 1221 0740 481
1932 27 1050 1267 0815 452
1933 28 1024 1305 0774 531
1934 29 0882 0919 0843
1935 30 0843 0748 0904

Klein came into the league in 1928 and played for the Philadelphia Phillies in the best hitters' park in the National League, the Baker Bowl. He hit very well in 1929 and 1930, both at home and on the road (though, of course, better at home).

But the odd thing is that his road OPS stays virtually the same in 1929 and 1930 and all his improvement is at home, from a 203 OPS difference to a 311 OPS difference.

In 1931, the National League deadened the baseball and Klein's road OPS falls apart. But, the difference in home-road OPS goes up to an astounding 481. In 1932, the difference falls back slightly to 452. But, in 1933, it reaches a new high at an 531. Has anyone in modern times even came close to this?

In 1934, Klein was traded to Chicago and suffered the career altering thigh injury. As his home-road breakdown for 1934-35 shows, Klein pretty much derived no benefit from playing at Wrigley Field.

But this is where things get interesting. Klein bounced around after 1934, being traded Chicago back to Philly and then to Pittsburgh (where he played in a pitcher's park) and back again to Philly.

However, no matter where he went, he pretty much hit the same as he did for Philadelphia:

1934 29 .301 .372 .510 Chi
1935 30 .293 .355 .488 Chi
1936 31 .309 .352 .520 Phi
1937 32 .325 .386 .495 Phi
1939 34 .300 .361 .511 Pit

Klein had a horrid year for Philly in 1938 (and starting 1939) and another horrible year for Philly in 1940 to pretty much kill his career.

To wrap all this up, I would simply say that, if you greatly downgrade Klein for his extreme home-road splits, you just MAY POSSIBLY be doing him a great disservice. Or, of course, you may be completely correct.
   20. EricC Posted: April 09, 2005 at 06:38 PM (#1243438)
The home-road numbers provided by Eric C are very interesting (by the way, where are they from?

Total Baseball , 1st edition, gives full home/road splits for 27 players. Klein has the most extreme home field advantage of those listed. As for the Baker Bowl itself, Klein had an AVG/HR/RBI per 154 games of .397/44/158 in 578 games at the Baker Bowl and .277/18/80 in 1175 games in other parks.
   21. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: April 11, 2005 at 09:52 AM (#1247053)
I've kind of associated Klein with Larry Walker for the last few years. Both were monsters when on the field but didn't have long careers. At least Walker hasn't yet (who knows how long they'll last). Both played in parks that made evaluating their careers difficult to say the least.

I think Walker has finally passed Klein, but I won't dismiss Klein lightly.

BTW - I've got some work to do this week. KJOK updated the pennants added spreadsheet, I'll get his updates posted tonight on that thread.
   22. yest Posted: July 17, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#2101896)
to all peak voters is there anyone among the backlog who has a case for the MVP in more years then Klein?
   23. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 04:49 AM (#2101973)
If you give him war and MiL credit Keller does
   24. rawagman Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:02 AM (#2102069)
I cannot allow myself to give peak year credit for war and/or MiL. Prime would count, though.
   25. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:44 AM (#2102076)
I think our differences here are semantic. When I mean 'MVP year' I am generally talking about years with or around 30 WS and 10 WARP. I woudl call this peak, I don't give a player his best years, bu tif there are seasons like this surrounding the other seasons I see no reason not to give a player a 30 WS season for war credit. MiL MLE's are based on actual performance of course.

One problem with Klein is the disagreement between WARP and WS. Bill James even uses him as a prime example of how his stats, without context adjustment, are really misleading. I wonder if Klein would be a HOFer with an electorate as sensitive to context adjustment as even today's VC, which has a sense of what Coors field can do to a hitter. Oh well.

I think I like Hack Wilson better.
   26. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:45 AM (#2102077)
I meant that I like Hack Wilson better in the late 20's/early 30's slugging outfielder category, I understand that he has many of the same context issues as Klein. I prefer Berger as well for what it is worth.
   27. rawagman Posted: July 17, 2006 at 10:10 AM (#2102080)
I would take Berger over both of them. He was a CF and a pretty good one. Hack was a bad CF. I'm kind of curious as to why he played so much CF. Were his teams other OF's even worse?
Hack also had well-documented drinking issues which occasioned to influence his play on the field.
I think Klein is a bit underrated by the electorate. He is 25th in my ranking among all current eligibles.
Berger is a bit higher at 19th.
Hack is nowhere near them.
   28. yest Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:59 AM (#2102087)
what I meant was years of having an argument that they were the best player that year
   29. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 12:40 PM (#2102105)
I would argue that anyone with a 30 WS or 10 WARP season has an argument of being the best player that year. If they do not it is most likely because some player had an historic season (i.e. Williams in '41, Bonds in '01, etc.) and I don't think we can hold that against any player. There have been players who were teh best player in any given season that had less value per those two systems.
   30. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 17, 2006 at 12:53 PM (#2102117)
A WS perspective on Klein:

As best as I can tell, Klein finished in the top ten in his league in WS among position players twice. 1932 and 1933. In neither year would he have been the best position player in the league by WS.

He appears to have been the best player at his position in 1932 and the second best in 1933, by WS.

I don't think that WS would considered him the best player in baseball at any time during his career.
   31. yest Posted: July 17, 2006 at 01:06 PM (#2102120)
I don't think that WS would considered him the best player in baseball at any time during his career.
my point was not whether or not he was the best player but has a decent argument that he was the best player
in the 4 years (30-33)Klein has the argument for the MVP
his teams finashed
1930 52 Wins 102 losses .338% winning percentage 40 games out of first
1931 66 Wins 88 losses .429% winning percentage 35 games out of first
1932 78 Wins 76 losses .506% winning percentage 12 games out of first his BBWAA MVP season
1933 60 Wins 92 losses .395% winning percentage 31 games out of first won the triple crown
   32. Jim Sp Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:01 PM (#2102559)
If you consider a 10.0 or greater warp3 score to be the bar (I might have missed a few):

Sewell--5 seasons
Boyer--4 seasons
Klein--3 seasons
   33. Jim Sp Posted: July 18, 2006 at 12:13 AM (#2102660)
Missed Bill Bradley--3 seasons.
   34. DavidFoss Posted: July 18, 2006 at 12:18 AM (#2102666)
a decent argument that he was the best player

Klein often is accused of taking unfair advantage of the Baker Bowl, but his peak OPS+ rankings (6-3-3-2-1) are almost as impressive as his peak raw OPS rankings (4-3-2-1-1). He loses a step, but its still a very impressive peak.

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