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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Credits and Deductions for WW II Players

David Foss felt that a thread should be created so we can figure out what we need do about the wartime players.

I concur.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 06, 2005 at 01:30 AM | 201 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 06, 2005 at 02:38 AM (#1059659)
hot topics
   2. OCF Posted: January 06, 2005 at 03:28 AM (#1059731)
One thing: pitchers are very different than position players because of the wear-and-tear injuries that all pitchers are at high risk of.

Take Bob Feller: he came up very, very young, and started carrying extreme loads when he was very young. The war stopped him from pitching. Maybe he lost several prime years to that, but maybe also that kept him from destroying his shoulder or elbow by the time he was 26. I'd be very cautious about giving him much in the way of extra credit.

Spahn, of course, is easy, but that's becuase he has such an easy case for election. I'm inclined in his case to simply say that his career started after the war and go from there. And again - had he put mileage on his arm in his early 20's, would he have been a workhorse in his 40's?
   3. PhillyBooster Posted: January 06, 2005 at 05:14 AM (#1059919)
I do not agree with OCF's hitter/pitcher distinction. While there are many examples of high-workload pitchers getting injured, I don't think that there are any studies that show that as a pattern, rather than just anecdote.

In this article, Bill James is quoted as saying:

Most injuries to pitchers are not the result of chronic overuse; some are, particularly to young pitchers, but most are not. They're catastrophic events, just like a heart attack or a torn muscle. They happen suddenly, and they happen when a pitcher goes outside the envelope of his previous conditioning.

Backing away from the pitcher's limits too far doesn't make a pitcher less vulnerable; it makes him more vulnerable. And pushing the envelope, while it may lead to a catastrophic event, is more likely to enhance the pitcher's durability than to destroy it.


For every Bob Feller who came back without a hitch, there was also a Johnny Rigney, who couldn't get it back together and retired with a sore arm after just a few innings.
   4. KJOK Posted: January 06, 2005 at 07:07 AM (#1060136)
Most injuries to pitchers are not the result of chronic overuse; some are, particularly to young pitchers, but most are not. They're catastrophic events, just like a heart attack or a torn muscle. They happen suddenly, and they happen when a pitcher goes outside the envelope of his previous conditioning.

If you're agreeing with James, then isn't that still a hitter/pitcher distinction, even if it's not exactly the way OCF laid it out?
   5. PhillyBooster Posted: January 06, 2005 at 03:48 PM (#1060400)
I believe that OCF's point was that hitters should get credit because you can extrapolate pretty clearly what they would have done, but you can't extrapolate pitchers because of injury risk. Therefore, full credit for hitters, less credit for pitchers.

But if pitchers actually increased their injury risks by going to war and then coming back, then full credit for both seems appropriate.

While I don't know what caused lots of retirements, there certainly seem to be a lot of players in 1946 and 1947 who, after missing a few years, came back and pitched 50-100 innings very well (ERA+ over 100), but then were done. While I have no idea why, exactly, Ed Head or Al Milnar or a dozen others stopped pitching after a good start after missing some years in the 1940s, it seems likely that injury played a big role.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 06, 2005 at 03:59 PM (#1060414)
The credit for position players will be relatively easy, but I agree that the pitchers will be problematic.

Spahn, of course, is easy, but that's becuase he has such an easy case for election. I'm inclined in his case to simply say that his career started after the war and go from there. And again - had he put mileage on his arm in his early 20's, would he have been a workhorse in his 40's?

Spahn doesn't need the extra help. He'll be an easy #1 choice.

Take Bob Feller: he came up very, very young, and started carrying extreme loads when he was very young. The war stopped him from pitching. Maybe he lost several prime years to that, but maybe also that kept him from destroying his shoulder or elbow by the time he was 26. I'd be very cautious about giving him much in the way of extra credit.

Rapid Robert is a little more difficult to figure out. While he's a HOMer without extra credit, IMO, I don't think he's necessarily a first-year choice without it
   7. Paul Wendt Posted: January 10, 2005 at 12:25 AM (#1068156)
continuing what I wrote in "1942 Ballot" re Guapo #82-84

Jack Fournier presents one sort of challenge to those who defer to "forces beyond his control" in principle. What kept him out of the majors? I don't think it can be interpreted as voluntary. Was it his skill at baseball?

A participant in war or class struggle may present another sort of challenge. We know why he did not play. Was it beyond his control? Hank Greenberg missed about four seasons because he chose to enlist during WWII (compare Hank Gowdy in WWI, contrast Ted Williams in Korea). Charlie Jones missed two seasons on the blacklist because he chose to fight the capital-labor norms (compare/contrast Amos Rusie, George Davis, Edd Roush).

Black and colored stars of the Negro Leagues (probably not Dolf Luque, who belongs in one or both preceding paragraphs) present yet another sort of challenge. We know that Pete Hill did not play mlb because of racism beyond his control. But how good a player was he?
   8. Paul Wendt Posted: January 10, 2005 at 12:32 AM (#1068171)
For Feller and other pitchers, the risk of traumatic injury is not the only factor influenced by workload. It seems that Feller declined steadily under heavy workloads before WWII. How well would he have pitched if that had continued? Did rest from pitching work contribute to his 1946 season "as good as old"?
   9. Cblau Posted: January 10, 2005 at 02:33 AM (#1068513)
How much did Feller pitch during the war (and how much did the other players play?) Most of the players spent most of their time in the service playing ball.

As to the general question, I think players should be evaluated based on what they did on the field, not on what they might have done under other circumstances. You can play "what if" with everyone, war service or not. Fighting for your country may make you a better person, but it doesn't make you a better baseball player, and I don't think anyone should get extra credit for the time they were away.
   10. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 10, 2005 at 06:48 AM (#1069123)
I couldn't disagree with Cliff more.

I've explained my thoughts on this before, and I need to fill out a ballot before I do it here. Suffice it to say that this is probably the 'controversial interpretation issue' that I feel most strongly about. I have no military background, and would probably be considered a bleeding heart liberal by most, so this isn't an opinion colored by being a 20-year military vet or anything . . .

That being said, I think that full reasonable credit should be given for time missed. For position players, it's pretty obvious look at what similar players at the age before and after the missed time did, and fill in the blanks.

For pitchers, I think each case needs to be looked at individually - Feller may have been helped by shutting down, someone else may have been hurt by it - pitchers are a funny animal. I don't think it's necessarily automatic that pitchers are helped by a 3-year layoff (consider that agreement with post #3) - for one it can't be too good for their mechanics.

I also think the players that stayed home should be discounted. They played an easier game, not unlike being in the AA in the 1880s.

Sure it might not make them better players - but a condition of the era doesn't make them worse players either. When comparing them to players across history, being born from 1915-23 shouldn't be a disadvantage. This isn't an injury or a disease, it's a condition of the time (as are strikes and the Negro Leagues) and it needs to be accounted for, or there will be a gaping whole in our groups analysis.

Another note - I believe Phil Rizzuto is going to be the player most affected by this (Williams, Greenberg and probably Slaughter will be fairly easy choices most likely). I just urge everyone to not let your opinion of him color your overall thoughts on the military service issue. His name tends to polarize most any issue it comes up in . . .
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 10, 2005 at 03:35 PM (#1069704)
Here's a list of the players whose cases for HOM induction might be most effected by our individual decisions on war credits/debits (for WW2 and Korea).

We're talking about 25-30 men. I've broken it down by position, and question marks indicate that I'm not exactly certain of their military status. My list is by no means complete, so feel free to add on. (esp to the pitchers where I've probably missed a bunch!) Also, I don't have a list handy of NgLs who went into the service, so that's why none are listed.

C
Lombardi

1B
Vernon

2B
Doerr
J Gordon
By Herman

3B
Hack

SS
Pesky
Reese
Rizzuto
Travis

OF
S Chapman
Galan
S Gordon
Heinrich
Keller
Reiser
Dx Walker?
L Waner?

P
Antonelli?
Lemon?
Lyons
Newcombe (for Korea)
Newhouser
Ruffing
Trucks
Walters
   12. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2005 at 04:07 PM (#1069734)
Another note - I believe Phil Rizzuto is going to be the player most affected by this (Williams, Greenberg and probably Slaughter will be fairly easy choices most likely).

For position players only:

Dimaggio (3), Williams(3), Greenburg (4+?), Mize (3) & Musial (1) are probably easy choices.

Slaughter (3), Reese (3), Rizzuto (3), Doerr (1), Gordon (2) ... depending on who is on the ballot when they're eligible, they may enjoy any extra credit that we give them.

Vernon (3), Tebbetts (3), Pesky (3), DDimagio (3) had fine careers, but will probably get little support here.

Cecil Travis (3+) is a sad case because he came back damaged by the frostbite he got in the Battle of the Bulge, but I'm not sure he had enough on his resume to show that his stellar 1941 was not a bit of a fluke.

Some guys got late starts due to the war. Kiner probably would have played an extra year. Cases like Sauer and even Hodges get pretty complicated, though. More complications means less likely we'll give them credit.
   13. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2005 at 04:41 PM (#1069804)
Oops... I spent so much time making my post, that I missed Chaleeko's. Nice list of only debatable candidates and he includes those who stayed as well.

I've been wrong before, but I don't think Enos Slaughter is a shoo-in. He's going to want those extra seasons and then again I'm not entirely convinced that its enough.

This could be my own personal bias here... I tend to only throw my support at LF/RF/1B types if they really wow me, and there are indeed many that do... but my opinion is that there a lot of corner outfielders (MLB & NeL) who will go in before Enos does. It will be more much more clear when I see who is on the ballot when he becomes eligible.
   14. karlmagnus Posted: January 10, 2005 at 06:04 PM (#1070022)
Lombardi you're presumably trying to debit, otherwise he looks pretty clearly the right side of the line, IMHO.
   15. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 10, 2005 at 06:23 PM (#1070079)
David,

I forgot Tebbets and Dom Dimaggio, thanks for picking them up!

Slaughter's a really good prism through which to look at exactly why an individual voter would grant a player credits. Here's my point of view: I do it for sake of comparing the amount of Greatness in one player versus the amount in another.

For example, once you adjust for schedule length, Slaughter is as valuable as Dave Parker, a sure borderliner. But when I return to the famous Keltner questions, one goes something like this: "Is there anything in his record that suggests there's more to the story."

So I ask myself the macro-level question, "Are Slaughter's and Parker's Greatness fully described by the stats? While Parker's numbers definitively describe his Greatness, what I know about Slaughter doesn't give me an answer because of the hole in his career.

War credit allows me to tease a little more information from the numbers, not a black-and-white static image of exactly how great Slaughter was, but a range of reasonable possibilities within which his Greatness might have been expressed.

Giving Slaughter credits allows me to say that it's very likely that he's Greater than Parker whose value is well known, and when I'm constructing a ballot in 1998 with Dave Parker eligible, that's going to be important information, just as it's important to me in 1960 something when I vote on Slaughter.

So while one can argue about the phallacy of the predetermined outcome coming into play with regard to the possibility of career-ending injury occuring while a guy was in the army, when you look at the process as one of finding comfort, it becomes a different matter.

It's comfort in my own conclusions that I'm after in all this. And I'm less comfortable drawing conclusions about Slaughter's Greatness based on the existing data with its multiyear hole than I am with finding some range of possible career values that I deem reasonable and which express the possible amount of Greatness contained within the player.

Sorry if that rambled on a ways, I just felt like I need to get that all down "on paper" because sometimes the reasoning for this kind of process can become abstract, and I wanted to remind myself how war credits/debits fit into my HOM thinking.
   16. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2005 at 06:30 PM (#1070095)
Lombardi you're presumably trying to debit, otherwise he looks pretty clearly the right side of the line, IMHO.

Sure, I think I may have started this with my Slaughter comments. The idea is not yet to debate their candidacies, but to determine whose careers need to be examined for War Credit/Discount. Lombardi has several excellent contemporaries at his position... he might very well make it but he shouldn't be considered a complete shoo-in.

So what do we do now? Create "before" and "after" WS/WARP tables for each player on the list? We could dock 10% off the 1943-45 numbers and fill in each missing years with 90% of the average of 41,42,46,47 and see what we get.
   17. ronw Posted: January 10, 2005 at 07:44 PM (#1070279)
To me, those who stayed might be more problematic than those who left. These people are being penalized for something which may have been slightly beyond their control. (Couldn't be drafted/inducted, or hit the lottery and didn't get drafted.)

Here is a list focusing on those who stayed (with their good years) and presumably will be discounted.

C:
Dickey (43)
W. Cooper (43, 44)
Lombardi (45)

Dickey doesn't need his war year to make the HOM. Even with full credit, Walker Cooper might not make it. Lombardi is most fascinating, as some may seem to argue that his good 1945 detracts from his overall career.

1B:
York (43, 44, 45)
Vernon (43)
Cavarretta (43, 44, 45)
McCormick (43, 44, 45)

All will need their war years for consideration. Vernon came back particularly strong after the war, the others were essentially done.

2B:
Doerr (43, 44)
Gordon (43)
Herman (43)
Frey (43)
Stanky (45)

Doerr and Gordon in 44 will be a big test. Do you give more credit to Gordon because he was in the service, when Doerr, in a weakened league, had a great year. Herman may not need his one year to make the HOM. Frey and Stanky will need their season to be considered, but won't make it.

3B:
Keltner (43, 44)
Hack (43, 45)
Elliott (43, 44, 45)
Kurowski (43, 44, 45)
Kell (45)

All will need their HOM seasons for consideration. Some may very well make it with this additional consideration.

SS:
Appling (43)
Boudreau (43, 44, 45)
Stephens (43, 44, 45)
Vaughan (43)
Marion (43, 44, 45)

Appling will likely make it without '43. Boudreau and Stephens are very interesting, they both need their war credit to make the HOM, and even that might not be enough. Vaughan doesn't need his '43 and Marion will not make it even if you inexplicably bonus his wartime seasons.

OF:
Cullenbine (43, 44, 45)
Heath (43, 45)
Keller (43)
Spence (43, 44)
Case (43, 45)
B. Johnson (43, 44, 45)
Holmes (43, 44, 45)
Galan (43, 44, 45)
D. Walker (43, 44, 45)
Nicholson (43, 44, 45)
Musial (43, 44)
Ott (43, 44, 45)
Medwick (44)
Pafko (45)

OK, Musial and Ott don't need their credit, but I wanted to include them. Everyone else needs their credit to be considered, and none should make it, with the sole exception of Medwick. Bob Johnson may be the best of the rest.

P:
Hughson (43, 44)
Trout (43, 44, 45)
Walters (43, 44, 45)
Newhouser (44, 45)
Sewell (43, 44)
Passeau (43, 44, 45)

They pitched during the war and many dominated (see Newhouser). Reduced wartime credit and relatively short non wartime careers will likely keep all out of the HOM.
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2005 at 07:51 PM (#1070288)
he might very well make it but he shouldn't be considered a complete shoo-in.

Lombardi is definitely not a shoo-in, IMO.
   19. ronw Posted: January 10, 2005 at 08:11 PM (#1070316)
Because it jumped out at me as a great test of wartime credit/debit, here's Doerr v. Gordon. Remember, there are other variables (injury, park, etc, which impact a direct two player comparison, but this is as good a study as any right now)

YearDoerrGordon
1937  2  0
19381419
19391725
19402126
19411524
19422431
19432428
194427m/s
1945m/sm/s
194627  9
19471925
19482724
19492519
19502312
195116ret


So before the war, Gordon is consistently the better player, by 5-8 WS per year. In '44 Gordon goes to the military, Doerr has a 27 WS year.

After both return, Gordon first has an injury or returns late or has trouble getting readjusted, resulting in a poor 1946, then he gets traded to Cleveland in 1947.

One final point, Gordon is three years older than Doerr.

What we do with these two '44 is a good measure with what we will do with the rest of the hitters. We have a few choices:

Doerr in '44
1. Give Doerr his full credit.
2. Give Doerr discounted credit.
3. Give Doerr no credit.

#2 is probably what happens.

Gordon in '44
1. Give Gordon no credit
2. Give Gordon some credit (50% of ML value, or some other number), but less than Doerr (whatever that number is).
3. Give Gordon Doerr's credit.
4. Give Gordon a bonus on Doerr's credit, because Gordon was consistently better before the war.

Again, I think the vast majority of us will choose #2. I'm sure there will be comments, and I'm not trying to start a Doerr v. Gordon debate, but rather trying to figure out war credit.
   20. ronw Posted: January 10, 2005 at 08:15 PM (#1070320)
Stupid pre tag, let's try again

Year....Doerr....Gordon
1937......2.........0
1938.....14........19
1939.....17........25
1940.....21........26
1941.....15........24
1942.....24........31
1943.....24........28
1944.....27........m/s
1945.....m/s.......m/s
1946.....27........9
1947.....19........25
1948.....27........24
1949.....25........19
1950.....23........12
1951.....16........retired
   21. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2005 at 08:43 PM (#1070385)
This has been said several times in several different places...but there are a variety of reasons for "missed playing time."

1. Injury--tough luck, part of the game.

2. Injury or illness unrelated to baseball--tough luck, part of life. And if the fact that baseball players didn't or wouldn't have chosen to go to war is a deal-maker, then I would suggest that G. Sisler didn't choose to lose his eyesight or Addie Joss to die. Where might this end.

3. Player is "held back" in the minor leagues. Tough luck, part of the game. (Of course none of these is absolutely carved in stone. Occasionally we need to peek into a minor league career to get a clearer picture of "what kind of player" a particular player was. But while I can see adding a year or two of credit to a 13 year ML career, I can't see adding 13 years of credit to a year or two in the major leagues.

(And if we consider Clark Griffith's minor league career but not Jack Stivetts, what's with that?)

4. Racism, racial segregation, whatever you want to call it. This is a unique and morally compelling category in which I am willing to entertain MLE careers recreated out of no-major league career whatsoever, and that is a philosophical point that pretty much everybody here accepts.

5. And there are lots and lots of other reasons including...WAR, huh, what is it good for? Is it similar to the racism argument? I say no. Because here we are talking about men who have the opportunity to play ML ball but then miss generally speaking one to three years out of a 10-15-20 year career. There is plenty of opportunity for these players to establish how good they are outside of those particular 1-3 years that they missed. And so they are judged largely on what the DID, not what they might have done.

And yet, yes, it is also a different and a morally compelling argument, quite different from a couple years in the minor leagues. I mean, a couple extra years in the minor leagues could happen to anybody. For most of history, a player could be kept in the minors by ONE MAN. It's not like the entire league made the judgement he couldn't play ML baseball, no, often one man made that choice. So it is whimsical, yes, but yet intrinsic to the game of baseball.

WAR on the other hand DID happen to almost everybody, there was almost nothing whimsical about it, well, except for the guys who stayed behind. Big strong athletic men who could hit or throw a baseball...but couldn't pass a military physical. Almost oxymoronic that such guys even existed. But for those who fought or otherwise served in the military, there was nothing intrinsic to the game of baseball whatsoever nor even intrinsic to life (well, yes, war is pretty intrinsic to life, but almost nothing intrinsic to the lives) that all other generations of ML players experienced. So some adjustment is needed to give a whole generation of men--not just Gavvy Cravath, not just Buzz Arlett, not just Clark Griffith but a whole generation of men (like black ball players through 1946)--a fair chance at what other generations got.

But 1) when the methods of extrapolation become custom-specific to Joe Blow and Sam Spade and the same method is not tested on other players, then I get off at that stop. And 2) despite all of the above, I can't at this point in time see the necessity of awarding 100 percent bonuses for what the players might have done. Unlike the black players, they did have the opportunity to establish their identity as ball players.

Of course, I'm more of a peak/prime voter. And what I'm saying is I can't extrapolate a higher peak for a guy in a year in which he didn't play that for the years that he did. I can only fill in the blank. So he can't move up (and he can't really move down) while he is not on the field of play.

IMHO this is one of the best by-products of being a peak/prime voter. I don't have to imagine the player and then for that which I have imagined. I can vote for what is real without seriously discriminating against the player on account of military service.

So I would absolutely discount the guys who played by about 15 percent, and I will award 50 percent credit to those who went away to war. It may not be fair to say that Bobby Doerr was better than Joe Gordon in 1944. But how could it possibly be fair to say that Gordon was better?
   22. jimd Posted: January 10, 2005 at 08:46 PM (#1070397)
Stupid pre tag,

Do not use tabs in a pre-tagged table; all formatting must be done with spaces.
   23. DanG Posted: January 10, 2005 at 10:02 PM (#1070581)
It may not be fair to say that Bobby Doerr was better than Joe Gordon in 1944. But how could it possibly be fair to say that Gordon was better?

My simplistic methods are inclined, at this time, to credit players with their established level of play for the years missed to war. Until someone shows better numbers, I apply a 10% discount for the years 1943-45.

For Gordon and Doerr the task is pretty easy, since both have plenty of seasons before and after their military service to establish their typical season.

For Gordon, I took the average of his win shares in six years (1941-43, 1946-48) with the 10% deduction for 1943 and scaled to 162-game seasons. The result is giving him two years of 24.2 WS for 1944-45. His 1943 is devalued from 28 to 26.5.

For Doerr, I took the average of his win shares in six years (1942-44, 1946-48), with the same adjustments. The result is giving him 25.1 WS for his missed 1945 and devaluing his 1943-44 from 24, 27 to 22.7, 25.6.

Doerr shows as better in 1944 by a margin of 25.56 to 24.23.
   24. Brent Posted: January 11, 2005 at 06:04 AM (#1071518)
sunnyday2 wrote:

3. Player is "held back" in the minor leagues. Tough luck, part of the game. (Of course none of these is absolutely carved in stone. Occasionally we need to peek into a minor league career to get a clearer picture of "what kind of player" a particular player was. But while I can see adding a year or two of credit to a 13 year ML career, I can't see adding 13 years of credit to a year or two in the major leagues.

(And if we consider Clark Griffith's minor league career but not Jack Stivetts, what's with that?)


I couldn't disagree more. My understanding of the goal of this project is not to identify the most meritorious Major League players in baseball history, but to find the most meritorious players wherever they played. If they played in the minor leagues or Cuba or Japan and their statistics aren't neatly summarized in bbref, it's still our task to figure out which ones are deserving.

The very language that is used reflects a 21st century/late 20th century world view that does not reflect the reality of the game as it was played in the first half of the 20th century. Buzz Arlett and Frank Shellenback were not "held back" from playing "real" baseball; they played real baseball in what was probably the third best league of their time. If we recognize their accomplishments we are not "adding credit," we are giving them credit for what they actually accomplished. Before there were farm systems, the PCL pennant races were much more important to the residents of the Western part of the United States than the National or American League races. Buzz Arlett was a star in four great cities, all of them now considered "major league." He was so beloved by the fans in Oakland that in 1946 they gave him a "day," where a crowd of 12,000 turned out to see him receive a new Ford convertible and gave him a standing ovation as "the mightiest Oak of them all." He did not spend his career waiting around waiting to be "called up" (the very notion of being called up didn't exist yet); he had a career of 19 seasons playing superb baseball in 4 of the 5 best leagues in the nation.

I recommend that we include in our evaluations any minor league play after a candidate has established that they are capable of play at a level above the average major league player. (I suggest setting the bar at that level, because it's assumed that almost all players have to play in the minors at least long enough to establish that they are above the replacement level.) If you are worried that considering minor league play may cause us to be unfair in comparing Griffith with Stivetts, how much more unfair is it to rule out entirely the whole career of an otherwise meritorious candidate.
   25. Michael Bass Posted: January 11, 2005 at 06:25 AM (#1071563)
FWIW...

Japan has been brought up a couple times now. I may change my mind by the time we get to that point, but as of right now I have nearly zero interest in combing through those stats, making those translations, etc. We do so for the NLers now, as well we should, but I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to the days when we can judge them by the same stats we're judging everyone else. If we move to that point only to add Japan, that may be the time I have to bow out of the project.

Putting a better argument forward besides me whining like a little girl about having to think hard, the HOM is in many ways modeled after the HOF. The HOF makes no claim to be covering Japanese ball...it has a couple exhibits, but so far as I know there is no serious movement afoot to induct even Oh, much less the other possible contenders. It is the National Baseball Hall of Fame (national is, of course, stretched a touch to include Canada and, during segragated play, Cuba, since so many NLers played there). Now, I have no problem working through some credit for players who made, in part, a name for themselves over here. I just have zero interest in doing so for full career JL players.

--------------------------------

I also think, as this is not specifically addressed in the constitution, that we make some official ruling as to this as the time approaches. It's going to be remarkably silly if half the electorate is weaving Japanese players into their ballot while the other half is pretending they don't exist. We either should have to consider their accomplishments, or declare them outside of our scope.
   26. Michael Bass Posted: January 11, 2005 at 06:30 AM (#1071579)
My understanding of the goal of this project is not to identify the most meritorious Major League players in baseball history, but to find the most meritorious players wherever they played. If they played in the minor leagues or Cuba or Japan and their statistics aren't neatly summarized in bbref, it's still our task to figure out which ones are deserving.

Quoting from the constitution:

In addition to major league and Negro League accomplishments, particularly noteworthy minor league or non-US professional league accomplishments can also be considered meritorious (in a HoM perspective) in certain circumstances. However, it would be extremely unlikely for a career minor leaguer or Cuban league player to be elected to the HoM.

My personal way of reading that is that minor league/other league performances should be used to augment a major league record should the circumstances indicate. Gavy Cravath, for example, or Lefty Grove or Ichiro Suzuki. I fully admit that this reading of it is biased by my preferred (quite lazy) analysis, but I also think it's a legitimate view.
   27. Rick A. Posted: January 11, 2005 at 09:22 PM (#1073025)
It is the National Baseball Hall of Fame (national is, of course, stretched a touch to include Canada and, during segragated play, Cuba, since so many NLers played there). Now, I have no problem working through some credit for players who made, in part, a name for themselves over here.

Hey! How about the AAGPBL. Why should they be discriminated against because of their gender? They can't help it that they are women rather than men. Let's get the MLE translations going and open up the HOM to the fairer sex!! Equality for all!!!!!! ;-)

My personal way of reading that is that minor league/other league performances should be used to augment a major league record should the circumstances indicate. Gavy Cravath, for example, or Lefty Grove or Ichiro Suzuki.

On a more serious note, I have to say that I agree with Michael and Marc. I can't see extrapolating more than say 5 years of minor league service onto an existing major league career. While I feel bad for Arlett, Shellenback, Oh, Linares, etc., I think that we need to clarify whether they are in the scope of this project or not. Based on the quote that Michael posted above, I'd say no.
   28. robc Posted: January 11, 2005 at 10:06 PM (#1073140)
RE: Japan

I have been told multiple times that my intended vote for Sadaharu Oh in 1986 (or is it '87) is not constitutional.
   29. Michael Bass Posted: January 11, 2005 at 10:13 PM (#1073158)
FWIW, much though I'd like to, I don't think I can read the above passage to say voting for Japanese League-only players is against the constitution. Which why I think we need an official clarification, perhaps a vote.
   30. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: January 11, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1073278)
Since this project isn't about enlarging or downsizing the HOF but instead getting the right 210 or so players elected, I can't see allowing Japanese League-only players into the mix without upping the number of players we elect. I woudl rather enshrine the best American based players instead of taking a few of them out for Japanese players.

If we go the route of allowing Sadu OH and others in, then we should probably add another 15-20 spots in the future becaue if we do it we should do it right, i.e. not just elect OH, but elect everyone who would have been HOM worthy here in the States.
   31. KJOK Posted: January 11, 2005 at 11:08 PM (#1073344)
I can't see allowing Japanese League-only players into the mix without upping the number of players we elect.

Did we up the number for Negro League players? I don't think we did, and if we didn't, don't see why we would for Japanese Leagues players...
   32. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: January 11, 2005 at 11:52 PM (#1073468)
The HOF includes Negro League players. We are taking the database that the Hall of Fame uses and roughly the same number of electees that it has and simply picking other candidates. If we include Japanese players, we are adding to that database without electing any more players. Therefore, the standards go up and many deserving players are left out.

It also raises the standards above and beyond what we have already set. If we were to elect the same amount of players, then we should have taken a few elect-me spots from the past 45 elections and put them into eras that include the 15-20 Japanese players we should elect.

Of course there may only be 2-2 Japanese players good enough to get in. In which case this isn't a big deal.
   33. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: January 11, 2005 at 11:54 PM (#1073472)
That should be 2-3 Japanese players, not 2-2.
   34. Chris Cobb Posted: January 12, 2005 at 02:12 AM (#1073707)
Did we up the number for Negro League players? I don't think we did, and if we didn't, don't see why we would for Japanese Leagues players...

In addition to jschmeagol's point about Negro-Leaguers in the HoF contributing to the designated size of the HoM, Joe also took account of the Negro Leagues in his calculation of the number of electees per year. So they are pretty tightly built into the system.
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: January 12, 2005 at 02:24 AM (#1073731)
More apropos of war-time credit, here are the serious Negro-League candidates that I know of who served in WWII, with years.

Willard Brown 44-45
Leon Day 44-45
Larry Doby 44-45
Monte Irvin 43-45
Buck O'Neil 43-35

It's not a large group. For whatever reason, a fairly large percentage of the top black players didn't serve. But these five should be noted.

If I see any others, I'll post them here.
   36. Cblau Posted: January 12, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1073783)
As for the proper deduction for players who didn't go into military service in WW2, 10% sounds about right for those who played 1943-45. Rob Wood had an article in the November 1991 By The Numbers (http://www.philbirnbaum.com/btn1991-11.pdf) which claims the proper discount is 9%; my unpublished
research supports that. Of course, those who didn't play in 1945 deserve a lesser discount.
   37. robc Posted: January 12, 2005 at 03:34 AM (#1073803)
Michael,

I agree with you in #29, but Joe D is one of the people who has said otherwise, IIRC. It was from one of the threads from well over a year ago. There was a long discussion and an agreement that Japanese -only players were not eligible. However, for say Ichiro!, you could consider his Japanese League play in addition to his MLB play.

Above is from hazy memory.
   38. Rick A. Posted: January 12, 2005 at 05:23 PM (#1074804)
Major Negro League players listed (in addition to Chris' list)as serving in WW2 on the Military excel file in yahoo groups. Unfortunately it doesn't list years served or how long they served.

Hilton Smith
Jimmy Crutchfield
Joe Black
Luke Easter
Sammy T. Hughes
   39. Chris Cobb Posted: January 12, 2005 at 06:50 PM (#1075017)
Thanks, Rick!

i'll check the Riley bios for these players to see if he gives dates of service.

We may need to seek advice from Gary A. or gadfly (if he's around) about Hilton Smith. Riley says explicitly that he did not serve in WWII, but stayed with the Monarchs and played in the outfield when they were shorthanded because of the war.
   40. Chris Cobb Posted: January 13, 2005 at 01:47 AM (#1075900)
WWII service

Jimmy Crutchfield 1943

Joe Black part of 1944, 1945 (he was in the army 1943-45, but he still pitched some in 1943 and 1944)

Luke Easter ?? Riley doesn't say, but he began to play professional baseball after the war, so his military service is probably irrelevant to an assessment of his career.

Sammy T. Hughes 1943-45
   41. Paul Wendt Posted: January 13, 2005 at 06:38 AM (#1076414)
As for the proper deduction for players who didn't go into military service in WW2, 10% sounds about right for those who played 1943-45. Rob Wood had an article in the November 1991 By The Numbers (http://www.philbirnbaum.com/btn1991-11.pdf) which claims the proper discount is 9%; my unpublished
research supports that. Of course, those who didn't play in 1945 deserve a lesser discount.


So 10% is the three-season discount? the average of something like 6% 9% 15%?
   42. Kelly in SD Posted: January 18, 2005 at 09:22 AM (#1086076)
This may be a double post, but I think it just got eaten...

I was looking through Koppett's History of Major League History and say these two bits of info on page 212:

"By 1943, some 100 major leaguers and 1,400 minor leaguers were in service."
and
"At the end of the 1944 season, about 500 players from major league rosters were listed on honor rolls of those in service."

These amounts lead me to believe that a 10% discount is too small, it should be bigger. If that many players are out, it seems like the drop off should be bigger by 1944?
I haven't done the research, just my intuitive feeling. Why is the discount 10%??
Thank you
   43. Kelly in SD Posted: January 18, 2005 at 09:58 AM (#1086146)
Ok, I got off my butt and grabbed the first BJHBA. He had this to say about WWII, p. 185. That about 40% of the major league players of the wartime period were major league quality. I assume he is referring to the 1944-45 period for the most part. He points out that of the 64 regulars in the 1945 NL season, only 22 played in 100 games in 1946, and only 11 four years later in 1949. He compares this to the 1950 NL regulars. 44 of them 100 games next year and 29 did so four years later.
So, how to reconcile only a "10% reduction" vs. only "40%" were major league quality?
   44. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 18, 2005 at 12:37 PM (#1086185)
"Hey! How about the AAGPBL. Why should they be discriminated against because of their gender? They can't help it that they are women rather than men. Let's get the MLE translations going and open up the HOM to the fairer sex!! Equality for all!!!!!! ;-)"

I've actually got the AAGPBL encyclopedia, and I've been thinking of creating Diamond-Mind disks for those seasons, if I ever get the time.

Been away a few days. Wasn't the Japan thing being discussed on the Constitution thread?

Chris is correct, Negro Leaguers were accounted for when we set up the annual election spots.
   45. PhillyBooster Posted: January 18, 2005 at 02:51 PM (#1086230)

So, how to reconcile only a "10% reduction" vs. only "40%" were major league quality?


Very simply. The percentages have practically nothing to do with one another.

If a player plays his entire career in the AAA International League, we only reduce his accomplishments by about 15%, even though close to 0% of the competition was major league quality.

Deductions are not based on a black-and-white "Major League Quality" versus "Not", but rather how far below major league quality they were. If 40% were major league quality, and 60% were, on average, 15% below major league quality, then a 10% discount would be close to appropriate. If they were, on average, only 5% below major league quality, then a 10% discount would be too much.

On the other hand, if a team played the 30 major league teams once each, plus one game against a team of 10 year old girls, then even though only 3% of their competition was non-major-league quality, a greater than 3% reduction would be appropriate, since the players probably won that game by a score of 400-0.
   46. Kelly in SD Posted: January 18, 2005 at 09:13 PM (#1086975)
Phillybooster,

Thank you for your response. That makes sense. One other question though: If a great number of players from the minors are also in WWII and not available for major league promotion and so players are pulled up from lower and lower minors would that have an impact on the reduction percentage?

Thanks ahead of time.
   47. DavidFoss Posted: January 18, 2005 at 09:37 PM (#1087029)
I think the "10%" comes from the baseball prospectus article mentioned by PatrickW in the Newly Eligible thread. See the posts around #20 of page 5 (P400) of that thread. No one has mentioned that specifically in this thread. This would seem to be a good oppurtunity to link to that.

There was a significant amount of MLB players who didn't go to war that they were able to do a league quality measurement. This is similar to the 1880's when the AA was around or the early days of the AL.
   48. PhillyBooster Posted: January 18, 2005 at 09:48 PM (#1087050)
Thank you for your response. That makes sense. One other question though: If a great number of players from the minors are also in WWII and not available for major league promotion and so players are pulled up from lower and lower minors would that have an impact on the reduction percentage?

I think it definitely would. On the other hand, the "slope" for baseball players has always been relatively steeper in the majors than in the minors. The difference between a median and replacement level Major Leaguer is a lot bigger than between a median and replacement level AAA-level player. So there are many more players at each level of quality as you climb down the ladder. My assumption is that lots of the lower-level players would be closer to "AAAA Player" or "Replacement Level Minus One" than "AA-quality".

It is also my impression that there were many more than 16 "AAA-level" teams back then, so the fact that 60% of the players were gone does not necessarily mean that they had to dip quite so low in the hierarchy. It is the same today. If the Detroit Tigers team plane crashed into the D-Rays team plane, and we needed to restock both teams, probably fewer than half the slots would come from AAA affiliates. The rest would come from the Atlantic League and Northern League independent teams that has lots of AAA-talent players "on the way down", so not desireable to prospect-happy major league clubs.
   49. EricC Posted: February 24, 2005 at 01:48 PM (#1163152)
He had this to say about WWII, p. 185. That about 40% of the major league players of the wartime period were major league quality.

Does anybody have year-by-year estimates of the percentage of major league players who were actually "major league quality" from 1942 to 1945? I'll eventually try to estimate this myself, but I need something to use in the meantime.

Also, were all major leaguers who served in the military back by '46, or were there cases of conscription extending into the '46 season?
   50. Thane of Bagarth Posted: February 24, 2005 at 02:10 PM (#1163163)
Also, were all major leaguers who served in the military back by '46, or were there cases of conscription extending into the '46 season?

In parousing the "Military" Excel file that is posted on the Yahoo group, the only noteworthy player I saw who was still serving in 1946 was Warren Spahn.

There were twenty-six others listed as serving in '46. Most noteworthy among those was Carl Erskine, but he was only 19 or 20 at the time. A sample of the other names: Bobby Bragan, Creepy Crespy, Mickey Owen, Rip Radcliff...Jim Mertz, George Yankowski, Vic Bradford, Lou Rochelli...
   51. EricC Posted: February 24, 2005 at 02:14 PM (#1163165)
Thanks, ToB !
   52. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 02:51 PM (#1349516)
Bump
   53. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:41 PM (#1349901)
To respond to Chris Cobb's comments in the Wells thread, in which he makes a distinction between "ability" and "value"; this is not a distinction that I would care to make when forming my ballot. Even in cases where a player's career is not interrupted for any reason, that player's career does not necessarily reflect his ability. To give one major example, Cool Papa Bell is probably disproportionately hurt by playing his career in a hitter's park, which minimized the value of his particular skill set. I think it is a reasonable argument to say that Bell's ability was greater than his value, but I don't think that his ability should be a factor in placing him on a ballot. After all, every major league player is affected by this issue to greater or lesser degrees: some players' abilities will be accentuated by playing in a certain park, league, or era, whereas other players' abilities will be diminished by the same. To go back to Joe DiMaggio, prior to him hurting his knee in 1934, the primary suitors for him were said to be the Chicago Cubs. If we can imagine an alternate universe in which DiMaggio never hurt his knee and signed with the Cubs, his hitting statistics might look rather different, as Wrigley Field is clearly a better park for a right-handed power hitter than Yankee Stadium, particularly during the 1930s and 1940s. Therefore, one could argue that DiMaggio's "ability" was greater than his value in the years in which he actually did play.

I can see the argument in favoring ability over value in order to define merit, but I think it moves us an uncomfortable distance away from the stuff of history, that is, what actually happened. DiMaggio didn't play in Wrigley Field (except in the 1938 World Series), and he also didn't play from 1943 to 1945. Both these contingencies impacted his value without touching on his ability.

I do think that if voters are now going to champion ability over value, they had better reevaluate their methods for all other players from different historical eras, as players (such as Bell and DiMaggio) were often hampered by their environments over which they had little to no control.
   54. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:54 PM (#1349952)
You can also twist the ability-vs.-value argument and use it to do things like give Babe Ruth credit for homers he should've hit from 1914-19 had his managers made more efficient use of his hitting prowess.... valuing ability over value opens the Pandora's box to all sorts of stuff like that.
   55. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1349982)
You can also twist the ability-vs.-value argument and use it to do things like give Babe Ruth credit for homers he should've hit from 1914-19 had his managers made more efficient use of his hitting prowess.... valuing ability over value opens the Pandora's box to all sorts of stuff like that.

Only if we allow that silliness, Eric. Since we're not, it's a moot point, IMO.
   56. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:29 PM (#1350085)
Silliness is in the eye of the beholder, John. I think it's silly to create an alternate fantasy universe where the best baseball players actually played from 1943 to 1945, when they did not. You are no longer evaluating history; you are engaging in hypothetical speculation that has little to nothing to do with what actually happened.
   57. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:32 PM (#1350098)
Also, if your comment was meant to indicate that people who give "war credit" are not engaging in the kind of hypothetical analysis Eric alludes to, then I would respond that the issue is not really one of "ability" versus "value," because if it were, then in order to be consistent voters would have to make those kinds of adjustments. There's a different agenda being served here, one that has less to do with "ability" than (to my mind) a vaguely-defined notion of "fairness."
   58. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:39 PM (#1350135)
There is a discussion on the Willie Wells thread (thanks to David for bumping it over here) about all the various reasons why players miss playing time and how some people treat those different situations differently.

To me it comes down to this:

1. Players miss playing times for reasons that are individual (they get injured on the field, they get sick, they get struck by lightning, etc.) but on the day they were born they had a chance to be a HoMer. No XC.

2. Other players miss time en masse--they are black before 1947, they get caught up in mass social phenomenon like WWII. Theday they were born they were destined to face some huge and unusual obstacle to being a HoMer. XC.

That's my rule.

Unlike the certaintees on either side, however, I only give 50 percent credit. I mean, it's absolutely right: If not for WWII, Joe DiMaggio might have suffered a career ending injury on the field. Who knows.

I'm not asking anybody to give credit who doesn't want to. But some of the charges made against those of us who do give credit (even watered-down half-ass credit) are pretty hysterical.

Besides (next post)...
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:44 PM (#1350149)
I haven't, and don't, champion ability over value. I don't argue, and haven't argued, that we are ranking players only on their ability. I argue only that ability should be a component in merit, and that cases where a player was unable to play through no loss of ability and no fault of his own call attention to the fact that many of us care about ability implicitly even when we are spending most of our time trying to calculate value accurately.

All the arguments raised against this position are of a reductio ad absurdum variety. It is possible to take account of ability without giving it more weight than value; it is possible to give compensatory credit in some cases but not all cases without the distinction between cases being arbitrary.

The Constitution does not require compensatory credit to be given. I think the claims of reason and fairness are more on the side of giving credit than of not giving it, but that does not mean the contrary position has no claims of reason or fairness.

But I think we'd do better to consider the effect of these choices in some specific cases where giving credit or not giving credit a) clearly influences a player's ranking against his contemporaries and his immediate predecessors, and b) may well be the deciding factor in the player's position vis-a-vis the in-out line of the HoM:

Let me lay out two:

Five shortstops -- Lou Boudrea, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Sewell, Vern Stephens

Three second basemen -- Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, Tony Lazzeri

What are the implications for ranking these players against one another of compensatory credit and/or competition adjustments?
   60. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:48 PM (#1350164)
Along with the question of what are all the various reasons players miss playing time and what to do about it...

Then there's the question of all the various *hypotheticals* that are used in evaluating-rating-ranking ML players. David objects to war-credit because it is hypothetical (not as in a hypothesis but as in imaginary).

C'mon.

• How many of us normalize 19th century seasons to 154 or 162 games? This is hypothetical (as in imaginarey). These extra games are ones in which the players in question did not play.

• How many use MLEs for NeLers and MiLers? These are hypothetical (as in imaginary, as if these NeLers and MiLers actually played ML games).

• How many credit Charley Jones for his blacklist years, or Eddie Cicotte for that matter?

• How many have given XC for WWI years?

• Somebody has even given Gavy Cravath XC--not just for the time he *should* (in their judgement) have been in the MLs, but also for the adjustment periods he was forced to endure not once like most MLers but twice or three times because of the stupidity of ML managements.

• How many ascribe to "leveraged" IP for relief pitchers? This strikes me as a hypothetical construct.

We all use hypotheticals as analytical tools all the time. In fact, David, the arch-enemy of WWII credit, says that normalizing 19th century seasons is reasonable because it enables us to compare players from different eras.

So why is it wrong, therefore, to use WWII XC to compare players from different eras? You justify the normalization of 19th century seasons based on the worthy objective it serves. And you deny the use of WWII XC toward the same end. That means to me that there is a different rationale for treating these two cases differently? I wonder what it is?
   61. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:02 PM (#1350232)
Also, if your comment was meant to indicate that people who give "war credit" are not engaging in the kind of hypothetical analysis Eric alludes to, then I would respond that the issue is not really one of "ability" versus "value," because if it were, then in order to be consistent voters would have to make those kinds of adjustments.

No, because there are three meaningful differences between "he played a park that killed his power" and "he missed seasons because he was in military service."

1) All players throughout baseball history take the chance of having home parks that hurt or help them more than other players. And when we see extreme cases on either side, we can account for that if we wish. This is quite a different situation from the draft. Players in some eras have been strongly affected by the draft; players in other eras have not been affected at all.

2) Players who are hurt by their home parks still get to play -- they may lose 10 or 15% of their value in their home games, but there's a huge difference between that and losing all of their value for entire seasons.

3) Players who are hurt by park effects have the opportunity to adjust, and a player may get to show his abilities by adjusting. Turkey Stearnes lost his advantages as a pull hitter when he went to Chicago. He adjusted, and became even more productive. A player who is hurt by park effects is slightly more limited than a player who can change his style to suit his environment. Contrariwise, no ability is revealed at all by a player entering military service or not entering military service, or being blacklisted or not being blacklisted.

If one awards conservative levels compensatory credit in the most extreme case where it appears needed, as Sunnyday2 proposes (and as I have proposed), that is consistent with a policy of generally not awarding compensatory credit for mild cases that are part of the way the game is set up. Those who want to boost Cool Papa a bit for playing in a park that was not suited to his talents, they are within their rights to do it.

But to say those who give compensatory credit for missed seasons are obiligated by a principle of consistency to give it in cases where players are disadvantaged by their home ball parks or by questionable managerial choices about their playing time overlooks the tremendous differences between the two cases.
   62. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:29 PM (#1350322)
How many of us normalize 19th century seasons to 154 or 162 games? This is hypothetical (as in imaginarey). These extra games are ones in which the players in question did not play.

sunnyday, the answer to this is pretty obvious. In shorter seasons, each game is more valuable. If you consider every major league season to have equal value, then each game in an 81-game season will be twice as important as each game in a 162-game season. Normalizing 154-game seasons isn't an exercise in hypothesis, it's a reflection of the added importance each of those 154 games had in real life.
   63. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:31 PM (#1350331)
• How many use MLEs for NeLers and MiLers? These are hypothetical (as in imaginary, as if these NeLers and MiLers actually played ML games).

No, the MLEs are simply a convenient way to analyze the caliber of the Negro Leaguers' play in games those players actually played in. The analogy is frankly ludicrous.
   64. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:36 PM (#1350349)
• How many ascribe to "leveraged" IP for relief pitchers? This strikes me as a hypothetical construct.

Again, this is just a convenient way to analyze the quality of the player's performance in actual baseball games. There's nothing hypothetical about it; it reflects the value he actually had to his team.

No offense, sunnyday, but your point could hardly be less relevant.
   65. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:40 PM (#1350361)
Another question for "war credit" voters: (Although, given the lack of response to my previous questions for "war credit" voters, I guess I shouldn't be holding my breath...)

Let's say Adolf Hitler was a lot smarter, and World War II lasted 15 years. Ted Williams never returned to the major leagues. How much "war credit" does he get? Is he still a HOMer?
   66. Michael Bass Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:47 PM (#1350385)
A couple comments that stuck out to me...for the record, I do not feel particularly strongly about this issue. I give war credit in the career portion of my rankings, but not in the peak portion.

On the other hand, however, (to speak from a directly pacificist perspective for a moment), by giving wartime credit one implies that being a soldier is a more honorable and worthy endeavor than, say, being a teacher or a cop -- an implication I very strongly disagree with and do not wish to condone.

Somewhere, karl is smiling. ;)

You can also twist the ability-vs.-value argument and use it to do things like give Babe Ruth credit for homers he should've hit from 1914-19 had his managers made more efficient use of his hitting prowess.... valuing ability over value opens the Pandora's box to all sorts of stuff like that.

Only if we allow that silliness, Eric. Since we're not, it's a moot point, IMO.


I fail to see any meaningful difference between this "silliness" and what was done to justify Cravath #1 on a ballot last election. This is not to attack gadfly, just that I can't see any difference at all.
   67. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:05 PM (#1350440)
Let's say Adolf Hitler was a lot smarter, and World War II lasted 15 years. Ted Williams never returned to the major leagues. How much "war credit" does he get? Is he still a HOMer?

Ted Williams and Age 23 Comps through 1942

Probably not. Those are impressive numbers, but there's a difference between extrapolation and interpolation.

We're not going to credit Cecil Travis for what he might have done had he not suffered frostbite in the Battle of the Bulge, either.

These are moot arguments though, the only player I know of who lost more than four seasons is Ted Williams and he's a no-brainer with zero credit and there are only a handful of cases where a player lost more than three (usually 43-45).
   68. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:16 PM (#1350456)
What David said. I don't see the relevance of extreme thought-experiment questions to the actual issues we are facing.
   69. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:16 PM (#1350458)
Eric,

Adolph Hitler (Or Emperor ITo for that matter) didn't extend WWII any longer. And if they did I am not sure I would be giving Williams full credit because he would only have had three seasons under his belt and there is no way we could have determined that he was of HOM quality. However, we can look at his record and safely assume that he was of HOM quality and that the seasons he missed were prime ones. I don't think we should invent peaks for players who may otherwise have peaked during that time.

I am not one that will be giving the most credit possible to these players, but there is a whole generation of players that missed prime years for reasons thaey could not control. We need to look at each one, maybe we take a season's worth of game's out of DiMaggio's time because he was sick and injury prone. Maybe we hold back credit on guys like Spahn and Feller because of the unique injury concerns of young pitchers.

Isn't there anything in the constitution about being fair to all eras or something along those lines? I dont' see how we could possibly accomplish this is we dont' give any war credit. I will not add any peaks but there needs to be some way to level Charlie Keller with Earl Averill or Gavvy Cravath. Especially if we are giving Cravath MiL credit.

If we end up with noticeably fewer HOMers from the 1940 because of a lack of War Credit I dont' think we are doing a good job.
   70. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:20 PM (#1350471)
SABR Greenburg BIO: At spring training, Greenberg underwent his army physical and was pronounced unfit for military duty because of flat feet. The press jumped all over this, and one wag said, "What is he going to do, fire a gun with his feet?" Others said he had bribed someone in the Army or the Selective Service System. Stung by all this, Greenberg asked for another physical, and this time he passed and was classified I-A.

It just doesn't look to me that these players really had a choice. This was a completely different era. I can't imagine Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark and Jim Caple coming out against a player who didn't join the military. A look at the Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball page on WWII service shows that it was over half of MLB who was off to war.

What actually ticks me off about WWII service is how many players ended up doing little more than playing ball in military leagues. I think it would have helped morale quite a bit to be able to follow Joe Dimaggio as a Yankee ballplayer instead of an army ballplayer.
   71. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:24 PM (#1350486)
These are moot arguments though, the only player I know of who lost more than four seasons is Ted Williams and he's a no-brainer with zero credit and there are only a handful of cases where a player lost more than three (usually 43-45).
..............
Posted by Chris Cobb on May 20, 2005 at 04:16 PM (#1350456)
What David said. I don't see the relevance of extreme thought-experiment questions to the actual issues we are facing.


Yes, I know it's a hypothetical question. I am just intrigued by the fact that most people giving war credit seem to be happy to only consider the specific circumstances of World War II, with no consideration whatsoever for how their voting philosophy would be able to adapt to other wars, and other situations in which players miss time. In other words, I think many voters have not thought through this issue entirely -- they're merely content to stop at "Missing time for World War II was unfair, and so these guys should get credit," without dealing with the larger implications that such a philosophy raises.

The objection "but that's a question I don't need to answer, it's hypothetical" is, to me, an indication that some people are reluctant to explain -- or, perhaps, they have not even fully developed -- their own voting philosophies. (And I'm not directing this at anyone in particular; there are clearly a few war credit voters like Chris Cobb who seem to have thought through the issue fully.)
   72. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:26 PM (#1350495)
What David said.

Same here.

Another question for "war credit" voters: (Although, given the lack of response to my previous questions for "war credit" voters, I guess I shouldn't be holding my breath...)

Eric, you might not have liked the response, but it's hard to say that there wasn't a response, directly or indirectly (some like me latched on to David's affirmation of your post instead).
   73. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1350511)
'Let's say Adolf Hitler was a lot smarter, and World War II lasted 15 years. Ted Williams never returned to the major leagues. How much "war credit" does he get? Is he still a HOMer? '

Teddy ballgame missed 3 seasons for WWII and 1.5-2 for Korea. During that time, he was still Ted Williams. The question above is completely absurd, unless you know of a player who missed 15 years due to M/S. The question at hand is whether it is appropriate to give 1 or 2 or at the most 3 or 4 years for M/S. This is the equivalent of arguing against the right to self defense by saying 'would you let a man detonate a nuclear bomb in self defense'. This statement in no way pertains to the question of whether or not you can beat the **** out of someone attacking you! A much more relevant question would be: 'lets say Adolph Hitler was less crazy and didn't start the war in the first place, what might Ted William's numbers look like'. I don't think its at all ridiculous to make an educated guess on a minimum level of production when we have information on the surrounding years of a player's career. I don't think most people giving war credit are crediting players with the best years of their careers while they were gone. Most I've heard are giving conservative credit so that players from this era are not underrepresented in our Hall.
   74. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:38 PM (#1350522)
My response to #73 was already posted in #71. Funny how that works sometimes. ;)
   75. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:40 PM (#1350527)
The objection "but that's a question I don't need to answer, it's hypothetical" is, to me, an indication that some people are reluctant to explain -- or, perhaps, they have not even fully developed -- their own voting philosophies. (And I'm not directing this at anyone in particular; there are clearly a few war credit voters like Chris Cobb who seem to have thought through the issue fully.)

Its an issue of interpolation vs extrapolation.

There are indeed players who lost time to WWII at the very end and very beginning of their careers. They are going to get a lot less credit from me (if any credit from me, actually) than players who played at a high level from 40-42 and 46-48.
   76. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:42 PM (#1350536)
I guess the hypothetical thing was directed at me since I mentioned in my last post that Ito and Hitler didn't extend the war.

If WWII had gone on for 15 years I dont' think that we could give 15 years credit to Ted Williams (assuming he survived of course). I explained why above. I also don't think we could give credit to those that never got a chance because there is no possible way that we could pick out who would and would not have been HOM quality.

However, for WWII, we do have MLB data for all the years leading up to and after WWII for those players. Their HOM candidacy should depend on those years. However, if there is a player that looks to be HOM quality that falls short (Keller, Gordon, etc.) simply because of the war I think that player needs to get some credit for the years he missed. This doesn't mean they should be rewarded with three 30 WS season.

I also dont' think we should figure out what Cecil Travis' career would have been like if there wasn't a war. We should look at what he did before and after the war. He had one great season, we can't just figure he would have had a few more because he msised prime years. Hence, no HOMer.

I give some WWII credit to Eppa Rixey and would be willing to give Korea credit (does anyone's case depend on this? Ford, Williams, and Mays are already HOMers in my book). If Ching Feng Chen were conscripted into the Chinese army he should recieve reasonable credit by the method described above. However, he has a ways to go for that credit to matter since he has yet to prove himself as an MLB ballplayer let alond one of HOM quality.

I guess my thing is that I dont' want to 40's to be underrepresented because of the war. At the least war credit should be given to level the playing field for the players of this ear. We can, however decide howmuch credit is to be given on a case by case basis (i.e. DiMaggio's illenss).
   77. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:46 PM (#1350554)
I should have said, that I don't want the 1940's or any other underrepresented because of war. My bad.
   78. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:47 PM (#1350562)
There are indeed players who lost time to WWII at the very end and very beginning of their careers. They are going to get a lot less credit from me (if any credit from me, actually) than players who played at a high level from 40-42 and 46-48.

Same with me. There's not a "one size, fits all" solution for doling out credit.
   79. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:51 PM (#1350580)
But I think we'd do better to consider the effect of these choices in some specific cases where giving credit or not giving credit a) clearly influences a player's ranking against his contemporaries and his immediate predecessors, and b) may well be the deciding factor in the player's position vis-a-vis the in-out line of the HoM:

No, I think we would do better NOT to engage in such an exercise, because then you would be taking a specific case and trying to justify your approach based on the individual case. In fact, the approach should lead you to whatever conclusion. Suffice it to say, I will judge the players you listed based on their ACTUAL accomplishments in baseball, and not their actual accomplishments plus speculation as to what they "might have done." If this approach means fewer players from the 1930s and 1940s, so be it. I DON'T CARE. The analogies to the Negro Leagues are, as Eric Enders has already pointed out, absurd. In the one case we are talking about trying to evaluate actual baseball performance, whereas in the other we are inventing baseball performance that never existed.
   80. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:53 PM (#1350590)
Eric,
I give credit for a player whose career is incomplete due to circumstances beyond his control. This includes wars(I think WWI,WWII, and Korea are the only wars relevant to a baseball discussion), Black players prior to 1947-50, players of obvious ML quality playing in a lesser league. I gave C Jones some credit and I will likely give Curt Flood some as well, even though neither are HoMers even with extra credit. In cases such as war or blacklistings, I require a solid foundation of actual ML stats to extrapolate the additional years from. I also prefer at least 1 or 2 full ML season before and after the years in question to make an accurate estimate. For Neglers, I only have MLEs and I consider that enough. For PCLers(and other minor leaguers), I require a solid foundation of ML stats plus reliable MLEs for the 'missing' years. I give no extra credit for injuries or premature death. My main distinction is 'Was that player a great ballplayer during the period in question?'. If you gave Hank Greenberg a bat in 1943, I'm guessing he'd have done great things with it. If you gave him a bat in 1936, I'm guessing he wouldn't have. Is this thought through well enough for you?
   81. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:54 PM (#1350596)
I give some WWII credit to Eppa Rixey and would be willing to give Korea credit (does anyone's case depend on this?

I think Don Newcombe would be primary suspect #1 in that regard.

Thanks for #76, jschmeagol. That's exactly the type of post I've been wanting to see from war credit voters -- a clear, full explanation of one's voting philosophy as it applies to giving wartime credit. You and Chris Cobb are the only ones so far who have provided a coherent rationale for how your World War II philosophy fits in with the other various reasons players miss time.
   82. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:59 PM (#1350612)
Is this thought through well enough for you?

Carl,
Yes, thanks. Even though I disagree, at least I now know more or less where you, Chris, and jschmeagol are coming from.

I'd be intrigued as to your thoughts on giving, say, Mike Donlin credit for whatever time he spent in jail against his will. Put a bat in his hands, and I'm guessing he'd have done great things with it.
   83. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1350614)
'My response to #73 was already posted in #71. Funny how that works sometimes. ;) '

And I posted #73 before seeing #71. Oh well.
   84. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:02 PM (#1350621)
The objection "but that's a question I don't need to answer, it's hypothetical" is, to me, an indication that some people are reluctant to explain -- or, perhaps, they have not even fully developed -- their own voting philosophies.

Well said.

Also, want to address something else Chris said:

1) All players throughout baseball history take the chance of having home parks that hurt or help them more than other players. And when we see extreme cases on either side, we can account for that if we wish. This is quite a different situation from the draft. Players in some eras have been strongly affected by the draft; players in other eras have not been affected at all.

I don't see why it is so important to balance out all eras by artificially inserting seasons which never existed, while it is apparently not so important to balance out what are mostly-random distributions of home parks which help some players and hurt others. In other words, the home park, era, league factor is present throughout histoyr, but it is not evenly distributed among all players. Some players are severely hurt by their home park, and others are greatly helped. I don't understand why it is more important to make sure that Phil Rizzuto is "fairly" compared with say, Joe Sewell, but less important to make sure that Cool Papa Bell's ability is "fairly" evaluated when compared to, say, Edd Roush. In both cases, the player's perceived "value" did not reflect his ability, and this was through circumstances beyond his control. But Rizzuto gets extra credit while Bell does not simply because of when he played? The rationale makes little sense to me.

Also, Chris, you were the one who made a big to-do about someone not addressing the distinction you raised between ability and value. I addressed it, and now you are complaining that I made too much of it. Don't blame me for that, you were the one who called attention to the distinction in the first place.
   85. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1350641)
'I'd be intrigued as to your thoughts on giving, say, Mike Donlin credit for whatever time he spent in jail against his will. Put a bat in his hands, and I'm guessing he'd have done great things with it.'

This is an intriguing question. Jail time does seem to fit my rules for credit. In Donlin's case however , I'm sure sure there's enough actual record to extrapolate(how much time did he actually miss to jail?). He only had 4 full seasons(500+PAs) and several partials. He was incredible when he played though.
Are there any other borderline guys in our past or future(future as in after 1951; I don't expect you to have psychic powers or anything) who missed to jail time? If so, I'll have to consider how this scenario fits with my system. If not, I'll consider it more in the abstract and not worry too much about it.
   86. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1350642)
'I'd be intrigued as to your thoughts on giving, say, Mike Donlin credit for whatever time he spent in jail against his will. Put a bat in his hands, and I'm guessing he'd have done great things with it.'

This is an intriguing question. Jail time does seem to fit my rules for credit. In Donlin's case however , I'm sure sure there's enough actual record to extrapolate(how much time did he actually miss to jail?). He only had 4 full seasons(500+PAs) and several partials. He was incredible when he played though.
Are there any other borderline guys in our past or future(future as in after 1951; I don't expect you to have psychic powers or anything) who missed to jail time? If so, I'll have to consider how this scenario fits with my system. If not, I'll consider it more in the abstract and not worry too much about it.
   87. Carl G Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:18 PM (#1350650)
'I'm sure sure there's enough actual record to extrapolate'

That should say 'I'm NOT sure', as in 'I'm not sure why my post posted twice.':)
   88. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:30 PM (#1350679)
In Donlin's case however , I'm sure sure there's enough actual record to extrapolate(how much time did he actually miss to jail?).

Hmm, let's see... he missed an unspecified part of his 1899 minor league season while in jail; he was sold to the Cardinals on July 19, shortly after he got out. He also missed almost all of the 1904 season in jail; he was sentenced in March, released from prison in August and played 34 games.

Donlin also missed the entire 1907 season as a salary holdout, which raises another question: Do you give credit for that? I suppose holding out is voluntary, but under the reserve clause it was the only negotiation tool available to players.

Ron LeFlore, like Donlin, spent part of his prime years in jail, but as Chris pointed out, he never played MLB before getting locked up. He was signed at age 25 and made the majors at age 26, so it's a matter for debate whether he would have reached the majors earlier had he not been in jail. Anyway, LeFlore clearly doesn't meet your standards for extra credit as well as Donlin does.

I'm sure there are others who've served jail sentences in the middle of their careers, although I can't think of any others right now...
   89. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:31 PM (#1350682)
He also missed almost all of the 1904 season in jail; he was sentenced in March, released from prison in August and played 34 games.

Pretend that said 1902.
   90. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 09:34 PM (#1350689)
Another intriguing "extra credit" question is Home Run Baker, who missed the 1920 season for one of two reasons, depending on who you believe:

1. He was simply holding out for more money from the Yankees.

2. Devastated by the recent death of his wife, he was forced to take the 1920 season off to care for his small children.
   91. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 10:59 PM (#1350825)
Immoral, in post #58 and 60 I laid out why and how I award XC. You find it to be irrelevant. Disagree = irrelevant. fine. Then you say you can't believe that nobody here has thought about these issues.

You normalize 19th century seasons, so do I. I don't give any XC to Charley Jones, I don't know if you do or not. I certainly don't give any to Frank Baker. I am cautious about NeL MLEs but somehow we've got to "imagine" how NeLers and MLers fit together on a ballot, and so do you.

I give some to WWI vets and WWII vets. Now I find that you DO give WWII XC? What exactly is the issue?

I'm glad you liked post #76, I did too. Can we please link the preview button to your email and you can pass judgement on the HoM discussions before they pollute the environment from now on, if that is your objective. Please advise. And be sure to boldface and underline, otherwise no comprende.
   92. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 11:22 PM (#1350907)
I give some to WWI vets and WWII vets. Now I find that you DO give WWII XC?

I have no idea what you're talking about, and I suspect you don't either. I don't credit anybody for baseball they didn't play, period. I've never said otherwise.

The last graf of your post is completely uncalled for; I'll hold my tongue and leave it at that.
   93. karlmagnus Posted: May 21, 2005 at 12:19 AM (#1351094)
Silly hypothetical question of course, but if WWII (the US version of it) had lasted 15 years it would have ended in December 1956. Williams would then presumably have come out of the Air Force as about a two star general and proceeded to hit .388 his first year back (1957.) Wouldn't you have given him ANY war credit then?? :-))
   94. Chris Cobb Posted: May 21, 2005 at 02:35 AM (#1351620)
I'm about talked out on this subject and am ready to see what the electorate collectively concludes is reasonable in two weeks when we rank Hank Greenberg. But I do hope we'll have some practical discussions of particular cases. To encourage that, I'll close my contribution to the philosophical debate with two responses to David:

No, I think we would do better NOT to engage in such an exercise, because then you would be taking a specific case and trying to justify your approach based on the individual case. In fact, the approach should lead you to whatever conclusion. Suffice it to say, I will judge the players you listed based on their ACTUAL accomplishments in baseball, and not their actual accomplishments plus speculation as to what they "might have done." If this approach means fewer players from the 1930s and 1940s, so be it. I DON'T CARE.

This dismissal of specific cases seems to me to assume that we all know what we believe and why we believe it, and that we rank players in accordance with a fixed personal ideology of value. I assume the opposite: much of the time we don't know what we believe or why we believe it, so we're continually learning and improving our judgment, and it is only by challenging our principles by seeing if we are satisfied by the conclusions to which they lead us in specific cases that we come to understand what we believe and why. My decisions about what to do in the case of WWII credit are based on working through dozens of practical judgments about rankings in the last 50 elections, and I'm still thinking about what exactly is the right way to determine the level of WWII credit to be awarded. Our principles guide our practice, but fair rankings in the end require a careful consideration of the unique specifics of a career, which refines our principles.

As you see, your own response takes us unavoidably into the consideration of specifics.

I don't see why it is so important to balance out all eras by artificially inserting seasons which never existed, while it is apparently not so important to balance out what are mostly-random distributions of home parks which help some players and hurt others. . . . Some players are severely hurt by their home park, and others are greatly helped. I don't understand why it is more important to make sure that Phil Rizzuto is "fairly" compared with say, Joe Sewell, but less important to make sure that Cool Papa Bell's ability is "fairly" evaluated when compared to, say, Edd Roush. In both cases, the player's perceived "value" did not reflect his ability, and this was through circumstances beyond his control.

In my view, it comes down to a question of how severe the value/ability gap actually is and the extent to which it attributable to a factor outside the player's control as to whether some compensation is needed. Let me compare the severity of the losses to Cool Papa Bell to Phil Rizzuto as a way of gauging the relative severity of the effects of park and of war on their career value (which matters a lot in my system).

My current assessment of Bell is that Cool Papa was using his ballpark just fine until he became a switch-hitter, because the tailing off in his hitting happens when he starts switch-hitting, not when he starts playing in the Stars' park. That bad managerial decision, which he accepted, was probably much more damaging than the park effect. However, if, for the sake of argument, we attribute his strange, early decline as a hitter to the park effect, I'd estimate that Bell lost about 46 batting win shares to it over a 5-year period. That's a substantial loss, perhaps 10-12 percent of his career value (I really need to study Bell again now that I have a better idea of how to interpret the MeL data). If I believed that this was purely due to park effect, I might raise Bell in my rankings in response. I'm going to give Bell more study. Now Rizzuto. Rizzuto, I would estimate, lost about 63 win shares over a 3-year period, which would be about 20% of his career value. This is not an unusual outcome with respect to WWII. So even a player, Cool Papa Bell, who may have been severely hurt by park effects, lost 25% less value than a fairly typical player who lost time due to the war.

It seems to me, therefore, that the war affected players considerably more severely and more certainly than park effects have done. If someone were to make a convincing argument that a player was hurt severely by park effects, I would not rule out compensatory credit for it. But the cases would need to be identified and weighed.

Would compensatory credit make Phil Rizzuto a HoMer? I don't know. Right now, I think probably not. But it would give him a case.

Also, Chris, you were the one who made a big to-do about someone not addressing the distinction you raised between ability and value. I addressed it, and now you are complaining that I made too much of it. Don't blame me for that, you were the one who called attention to the distinction in the first place.

I was only pointing out, as I will now again, that it seemed to me that your response misinterpreted my position. It is perhaps the case that I didn't state my position clearly enough. To review:

When I pointed out that the inconsistency you had perceived in my positions was explained by my considering ability as well as value as part of merit, you responded (it seems to me) by speaking as if I had said that ability matters more than value: "I can see the argument in favoring ability over value in order to define merit." I do not favor ability over value: I favor value, in fact, but I don't dismiss ability, which I register in my system in career length and in peak rate measures.

And, finally, to answer Eric's question about other wars: if a player from another nation missed playing time due to military or other service in a conflict or crisis in which his nation was involved, I would certainly award compensatory credit, as long as it involved interpolation, not extrapolation. I will be interested to see if any such cases arise. In cases of imprisonment, I would want to know the specifics of the situation. I'm conflicted about hold-outs. Right now I'm not giving credit, but I'm not sure that's fair. Edd Roush is the only serious candidate at present that I am aware of who is affected by hold-out considerations. Are there any others I should know about? In cases of black-listing because of contract disputes, I do give credit. Charley Jones is the ony current serious affected by black-listing considerations, as far as I know. That will change when Sal Maglie becomes eligible, but we can give him MeL credit.
   95. Brent Posted: May 21, 2005 at 03:52 AM (#1351746)
A few comments.

Value versus ability? When I try to recognize the best players in history, I'm not sure either word captures what I'm trying to evaluate. I concede that Eppa Rixey had more value over his career than Dizzy Dean, but Dean appears in my top 15 and Rixey doesn't. So clearly I'm not thinking solely in terms of value. But not quite ability either... Frank Chance was an HoM-quality batter when he was in the lineup, so he had the ability, but he couldn't seem to stay in the lineup. I guess if I had to pick a word it might be quality--I'm looking for the best players in terms of the quality of their performance. Value plays a role, since quality is measured through impact on games won and pennant races. But I don't see this exercise as adding up brownie points over the player's career to see who winds up with the most at the end.

# 67 - Ted Williams through 1942. Looking at the bbref link (nice feature! I wasn't aware bbref had that), I think I would have no problem voting for Williams for the HoM if he had lost the rest of his career to the war. After only 4 seasons he had already established himself as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Now Cecil Travis is trickier, because by the time he went into the service he had established that he _might_ be a great player, but he hadn't conclusively demonstrated that he _was_ a great player.

"extra credit" - I dislike this term. First, there's the school grading connotation, which does not match how I think about assessing merit. Second, "extra credit" seems to imply that only major league play is worthy of regular credit, which seems disrespectful to the players who contributed to non-MLB teams. Third, I don't see giving war credit as making up imaginary seasons. Rather, I see it as fixing a flaw in my formulas. I (like most of you, I presume) use a set of formulas to rank players, but I don't see them as measuring "value," rather I see them as a tool for keeping track of accomplishments that are useful in evaluating a player's quality. But when a player served in the military he didn't stop being a great player. So my formula is misleading, and I need to make an adjustment to keep the formula from leading me astray. I never think about it in terms of making up imaginary games or seasons.

Value judgments - I have absolutely no qualms about making them. I don't try to force mine on anyone else (I guess that's a value too). But one of my values is that there are things in life more important than baseball, including serving ones country in the military service. So yes, I intend to give appropriate war credit (or service credit for players affected by peacetime draft).

What else gets credit from me? Staying home with your children the year after their mother dies? Sure, absolutely. Skipping a World Series game to observe Yom Kippur? Yes, definitely. Taking off for a couple of years to serve as a Mormon missionary? Sure. Taking a stand against the reserve clause? Yes.

Ending your career early to start a sportings good company? No. Banned from baseball for throwing a World Series? No way. Going to jail? Not if the reason you went was lack of self-control or antisocial criminal behavior. If someone is jailed unfairly or for taking a stand on principle (M.L. King in Birmingham Jail), then yes, I'll give him credit.

All of these represent value judgments, but as I said, I have no problem in making value judgments.
   96. David C. Jones Posted: May 21, 2005 at 03:56 AM (#1351751)
Chris,

Okay, I think I now understand your position. Though I don't share it, I respect the thought you've put into it. The difference here seems to be that where you will try to bridge the gap (when the gulf is sizeable enough for it to matter) between a player's ability and his value, I don't. I understand that you still favor value over ability, but as I understand it you are saying that you also want to factor ability in where appropriate. This is something I won't do for any player, including Cool Papa Bell, salary holdouts, Mike Donlin, and all the WWII players. That's just not the approach I take when evaluating players. I understand what you are saying about needing to adjust and constantly reexamine our methodology as the elections roll past, and this is something I do try to do, particularly when it comes to understanding the weaknesses of certain uber-stats, the differences in value between positions, etc. But I'm just not willing to "interpolate" baseball performances which never existed in the first place.

Now that we now where and how we disagree, I think we can move on and, as the saying goes, "agree to disagree." I feel like I've had my say on this issue now, and so I will try not to criticize or remark upon voters justifying ballot positions based on war credit in future elections. If anyone ever asks me, in future elections, why I don't give war credit, I will direct them to this thread.
   97. Chris Cobb Posted: May 21, 2005 at 02:51 PM (#1352093)
Now that we now where and how we disagree, I think we can move on and, as the saying goes, "agree to disagree." I feel like I've had my say on this issue now, and so I will try not to criticize or remark upon voters justifying ballot positions based on war credit in future elections. If anyone ever asks me, in future elections, why I don't give war credit, I will direct them to this thread.

Agreed. I also think that if voters _want_ to think about the issue, this thread should give them plenty of food for thought.
   98. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 24, 2005 at 09:57 AM (#1357652)
Sorry I've been quiet on this issue for the last week or so, I've been pretty busy.

"The analogies to the Negro Leagues are, as Eric Enders has already pointed out, absurd."

This is ridiculous. That statement is absurd. Both players (WWII veterans and Negro Leaguers) were kept out of MLB through no fault of their own due to conditions of their era. It's ludicrous (if not absurd) to give one credit and not the other.

It's also Unconstitutional in my opinion - see the line . . .

"Voters shall give serious consideration to “excluded” players such as Negro League stars."

The key phrase is 'such as'. WWII players were obviously 'excluded' from MLB while serving in the military. This was absolutely the intent of the phrasing - we should have been more specific. It should be obvious that if we meant this only to apply to Negro Leaguers, we wouldn't have included the 'such as' phrase.

This was also meant to include others that are 'excluded', such as players who miss time due to player strikes or lockouts.
   99. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 24, 2005 at 10:01 AM (#1357656)
This has nothing to do with ability over value. When you are comparing players across eras, you have to adjust for things that are different in each era. Adjusting for players missing time during WWII is no different than adjusting for the fact that more HR are being hit in 2005 than in 1914.
   100. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 24, 2005 at 10:04 AM (#1357658)
Also we shouldn't be referring to it as 'extra' credit. It's just credit, like adjusting from 80 to 162 game seasons. There's nothing extra about it. It's credit for what they would have done, had WWII not happened. Again, it's just putting these players on equal footing with those from other eras.
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