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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Election Results: We Like First Basemen Gehrig, Foxx, Anson, Mize and Brouthers the Best!

By unanimous decision, the Yankee’s pride Lou Gehrig was picked as the best first baseman of all-time.

With a strong endorsement from the electorate, A’s and BoSox slugger Jimmie Foxx earned 93% of all possible points.

19th century icon Cap Anson had the third highest total with his impressive 85%, while power hitter Johnny Mize followed him with 83%.

The only other candidate to be credited with at least 75% support from us was 1880s star Dan Brouthers with a commendable 81%.

RK   LY  Player            PTS  Bal   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1  n/e  Lou Gehrig        440   22  22                                                         
 2  n/e  Jimmie Foxx       410   22     16  4  2                                                
 3  n/e  Cap Anson         374   22      4  4  7  3  3  1                                       
 4  n/e  Johnny Mize       366   22         6  6  7  2  1                                       
 5  n/e  Dan Brouthers     357   22      2  5  1  7  4  2     1                                 
 6  n/e  Roger Connor      333   22         2  4  2  7  4  2        1                           
 7  n/e  Hank Greenberg    295   22                  3 11  4  2     2                           
 8  n/e  Eddie Murray      274   22         1     1  1  1  5  6  4  3                           
 9  n/e  Willie McCovey    257   22            1  1  2  1  1  4  3  8           1               
10  n/e  Buck Leonard      246   22                        7  5  3  2  3  1  1                  
11  n/e  Mark McGwire      242   22            1  1     1  1  4  6  3  2  2           1         
12  n/e  Harmon Killebrew  197   22                        1     3  2  9  4  1  1  1            
13  n/e  Joe Start         160   22                        1     2     4  3  4  3  1  3     1   
14  n/e  Will Clark        154   22                                    2  8  3  6  3            
15  n/e  Mule Suttles      144   22                                 1  2  2  7  5  3  1     1   
16  n/e  Keith Hernandez   116   22                              1        1  3  3  6  5  2  1   
17  n/e  George Sisler      87   22                                          2  2  4  4  5  5   
18  n/e  Bill Terry         74   22                                             1  3  4  9  5   
19  n/e  Jake Beckley       72   22                                       1  1     1  4  6  9   
Ballots Cast: 22

Thanks to OCF and Ron Wargo for their tallying help!

 

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 01, 2008 at 10:12 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:05 AM (#2802484)
No big surprises here. Nice to see Mize get the respect he deserves,
   2. OCF Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:52 AM (#2802559)
The consensus score average (89) was so high and the spread so narrow that I'm not even going to bother to show it voter by voter. Of course, neither karlmagnus nor yest voted in this - I think we can guess which ones they would give unusually high rankings to.

One thing to note - that order at the bottom - Sisler, then Terry, then Beckley - overturns an order established in our yearly elections. In 1942, Terry was elected with 571 points while Beckley and Sisler were 10th and 11th with 402 and 399, respectively. We did then elect Sisler before Beckley.
   3. Chris Cobb Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:00 AM (#2802659)
Since there was clearly a high degree of agreement among the electorate this time round, it may be useful to see how much our conclusions are departing from what is probably the most widely-known positional rankings list: the ones from the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The top 20 there (with players not yet HoM-eligible omitted) are

Gehrig, Foxx, McGwire, (Suttles), Murray, Mize, Killebrew, (Leonard), Greenberg, McCovey, Anson, Mattingly, Perez, Clark, Allen, Hernandez, Cepeda, Brouthers, Cash, Connor.

Leonard and Suttles were not actually ranked in James first base list , since he did not integrate his NeL and ML positional lists. They are the #1 first baseman and the #2 left fielder in his NeL rankings. As both make his top 100 players list, which is integrated, it is easy to add them into the first-base rankings. In his top 100, James had Suttles 43rd and Leonard 65th. That would put them where they appear above in a first-base only list.

The other HoM first basemen are ranked by James as follows (again, with numbers adjusted to omit players not yet HoM eligible from James's count):

George Sisler, #22 (#24without removing not-yet-eligibles or adding NeL players).
Bill Terry, #24 (#26 without removing not-yet-eligibles or adding NeL players).
Jake Beckley, #47 (#52 without removing not-yet-eligiblesor adding NeL players)
Joe Start, #101 (108 without removing not-yet-eligiblesor adding NeL players).

It would have been interesting to see what kind of writeup James would have given to Joe Start, had he found room for him in the top 100 ahead of guys like Don Mincher, Deron Johnson, Joe Pepitone, and Ripper Collins, who round out the top 100.

We are certainly offering a different perspective! though we are in substantial agreement (to within two or threes spots) with James on about half of the all-time top 20 first basemen.
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:10 PM (#2802859)
It would have been interesting to see what kind of writeup James would have given to Joe Start, had he found room for him in the top 100 ahead of guys like Don Mincher, Deron Johnson, Joe Pepitone, and Ripper Collins, who round out the top 100.


You don't think Joe Pepitone was greater than Start, Chris? ;-)

One thing to note - that order at the bottom - Sisler, then Terry, then Beckley - overturns an order established in our yearly elections. In 1942, Terry was elected with 571 points while Beckley and Sisler were 10th and 11th with 402 and 399, respectively. We did then elect Sisler before Beckley.


I doubt that the results would have been any different with our full compliment of voters, too.
   5. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:16 PM (#2802901)
> Sisler, then Terry, then Beckley - overturns an order established in our yearly elections

The voting breaks down at the bottom. The inability to put players not on the list into the rankings explains the difference. In all likelihood we could elect Ben Taylor in the next few years and slot him ahead of Terry and Beckley.

> I doubt that the results would have been any different with our full compliment of voters

Seeing how Terry and Beckley basically tied and karlmagnus didn't vote, I'm going to disagree.

It is striking how we all REALLY agree that Greenberg is the 7th best 1B ever.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:33 PM (#2802916)
Seeing how Terry and Beckley basically tied and karlmagnus didn't vote, I'm going to disagree.


I meant if we had around 50 voters, Dan.
   7. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:32 PM (#2803118)
Crap, I forgot to vote. Damn my laziness!
   8. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2008 at 07:57 PM (#2803236)
I don't think anyone would be as enthusiastic about Terry as Karlmagnus would have been about Beckley. I'm betting that karlmagnus' outlier would tip the scales in favor of Beckley.
   9. Chris Cobb Posted: June 03, 2008 at 12:17 AM (#2803411)
I admit I was quite curious as to how Karlmagnus would have ranked Beckley among all HoM first basemen. Since Karl was very steady in applying his system (although he did make adjustments from time to time), I thought it might be possible to reconstruct something of what his rankings would have looked like, had he compiled them himself.

How he would have constructed the top of his rankings is rather uncertain, since most of those players were at the top of their annual ballots, and the potentially informative 1903 ballot, featuring Anson and Connor, is lost (I could dig it out of the way-back machine, but I'm not _that_ committed to this little exercise). It can be established, however, that without rethinking his rankings, Karlmagnus would have placed Beckley 9th on his ballot. He would trail

1-8. Gehrig, Foxx, Anson, Brouthers, Connor, Mize, Start, and Murray (possibly in that order, but I can't say for sure except that Murray would almost certainly be last, and Start would trail the ABC boys. Given Karl's system, a #1 placement of Anson would not have been out of the question, I think)

9. Beckley

10. McCovey
11-12. Sisler and McGwire
13. Greenberg
14. Allen
15-16. Killebrew and Leonard
17. Clark
18-19. Terry and Suttles
20. Hernandez

Karl would have been easily the best friend of Beckley and among the best friends of Start and Sisler, but otherwise his rankings would likely have been more or less in agreement with the rest. With the exception of Start, his top 8 matches the top 8 we elected. At least, that's how I see it from examining his votes.
   10. karlmagnus Posted: June 04, 2008 at 03:09 PM (#2805562)
Chris, I feel bad about not having voted now. My problem is as you discerned -- too many #1s at the top, and insufficient time to do the research to distinguish between them (marginal players much easier, because I had to research them carefully each year.) My system simply did not distinguish adequately between superstars, because it didn't have to.

If you correct Anson to 130-game-played seasons he had 4,700 hits and so would have been my #1 (how did you guess?)

On Beckley, I think I'd have had McCovey and maybe Greenberg ahead of him, #11 not #9 therefore. I'm also not sure Mize is top-8. But Beckley at 11 looks right.

On the rest I'd have had Suttles above Clark, but otherwise as you had them.
   11. ronw Posted: June 09, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2812771)
I thought I'd take my 2B fielding analysis and apply it to the other positions. Letter grade - Bill James; parenthetical number - Davenport's career FRAA1. Both ratings solely at First Base. Other significant positions also noted.

Unknown

N/A Mule Suttles (N/A)
N/A Buck Leonard (N/A)

Suttles has a reputation as a poor fielder in the McCovey mold. Leonard has a good fielding reputation.

The Worst

C- Willie McCovey (-48); LF (-13)
C- George Sisler (-23)
C Dick Allen (-21); 3B (-25); LF (-18)
C- Mark McGwire (-8)
B- Dan Brouthers (-7)

Not surprised about McCovey, Allen, McGwire and Brouthers, but what is Sisler doing here??? Sisler's poor rating is consistent for Davenport and James.

Solid

B Harmon Killebrew (0); 3B (-76); LF (-47) (also D at 3B)
A Jimmie Foxx (0); C (-1); 3B (5)
B Johnny Mize (8)
B- Lou Gehrig (11)
B- Cap Anson (12); C (-5); 3B (38);

Foxx is the only James/Davenport inconsistency. Killebrew never should have been anything but a 1B.

Good

A+ Bill Terry (23)
B- Eddie Murray (26)
B Joe Start (28)

Terry is an excellent fielder according to James, not so much according to Davenport.

Great

A- Hank Greenberg (38); LF (-14)
C+ Will Clark (42)
B Jake Beckley (45)

James and Davenport clearly do not agree on Will Clark. Beckley's fielding rep is worse than both the fielding metrics show.

Excellent

A Roger Connor (71); 3B (-13)
A- Keith Hernandez (100)

Hernandez is easily the best fielding 1B in the HOM. I will be doing this for each position so as not to make the Connor mistake again.
   12. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: June 17, 2008 at 09:16 AM (#2822405)
Hey guys, long time no post. I am currently in China and since I am starting my PhD this fall, I will only be able to be an intermittent poster, however I thought I would post my thoughts.

I have no real disagreements, though it does seem odd that three of the top 6 1B ever peaked prior to the 1890's. That said, overall there are few complaints. My highest non-HOM firstbaseman is Don Mattingly and I would only have placed him at 17, a good bit behind Suttles.

Zai Jian (goodbye in CHinese)
   13. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 17, 2008 at 12:10 PM (#2822461)
I can't speak for any other voters, but I will say that my own system has a structural bias towards pre-WWII 1B: (presumably) because 1B defense was more important before the war, the replacement level at the position was markedly lower (more than half a win per season) then than it was afterwards. My numbers show that freely available players at 1B in the 1930s hit just about as well as corner outfielders, whereas by the late 1960s that gap had grown to a full win per season (which is part of why Killebrew and McCovey get clobbered in my system). As a result, a given OPS+ and playing time combined with league-average fielding at 1B is credited with more value before the war than it is afterwards in my system. I happen to believe this is correct.
   14. Paul Wendt Posted: June 17, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2822688)
Does the DH knock it back the other way?
If not, why not?
Plausible DH effects may be dampened a lot by use of that position for aging or hurting players. Fourteen mlb teams with designated hitters do not make 14 more major league careers for 1B-, LF-, and RF-quality batters.
   15. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 18, 2008 at 03:20 AM (#2824020)
The DH most definitely does knock it back the other way, substantially so. You can see it very clearly in the graph in my StDevs and Rep Levels.xls file. This is basically the reason why my 1B ranking has modern guys high, old guys high, and the 60s 1B contingent really low.

I believe it most definitely does make 14 more major league careers for 1B-, LF-, and RF-quality batters. If someone playing LF is moved to DH because he is old or hurt, then another player gets to play LF who otherwise would not have had a job.
   16. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2008 at 05:19 AM (#2824144)
I believe it most definitely does make 14 more major league careers for 1B-, LF-, and RF-quality batters. If someone playing LF is moved to DH because he is old or hurt, then another player gets to play LF who otherwise would not have had a job.

only if the aged or hurt player would be used in the field without the DH, which is true only some of the time. Insofar as the DH extends some careers, and packs more playing time into some careers, it doesn't generate extra careers.
   17. OCF Posted: June 19, 2008 at 10:58 PM (#2826317)
In our positional voting, it's now reasonably clear who our #1 second basemen will be, and it's reasonably clear who's going to be in the #1 spot at 3B, SS, LF, and RF. (I'm not going to predict the results of Mays vs. Cobb just yet, although I am assuming both will finish ahead of Mantle.) We won't have a DH category; for now we'll classify Molitor as a 3B, and in the future, Frank Thomas as 1B and Edgar Martinez (if we elect him at all) as 3B.

But if we were to name our starting lineup in a DH league, then we'd have to add someone to the lineup. I would say that a viable candidate for that would have to have finished second at his own position - and it's reasonably clear who that will be in most cases. I see 9 ways to get a DH into the lineup:

1. Gibson as DH, Bench as C.
2. Gehrig as DH, Foxx as 1B.
3. Gehrig as DH, Musial as 1B.
4. Hornsby as DH, Collins as 2B.
5. Mathews as DH, Schmidt as 3B.
6. Williams as DH, Musial as LF.
7. Cobb as DH, Mays as CF.
8. Ruth as DH, Aaron as RF.
9. Ruth as DH, Musial as RF.

Of course there are a few prima donnas there who might not let you DH them.
   18. andrew siegel Posted: June 20, 2008 at 01:22 AM (#2826512)
Out of these choices, I vote for #6, but I think the real answer may be to play Cobb in LF, Mays in CF, and Williams at DH.
   19. andrew siegel Posted: June 20, 2008 at 01:29 AM (#2826527)
My lineup:

Cobb LF
Wagner SS
Williams DH
Ruth RF
Gibson C
Gehrig 1B
Mays CF
Schmidt 3B
Collins 2B
   20. ronw Posted: June 20, 2008 at 08:34 PM (#2827522)
We must wait for the election, but I think Williams as DH, Bonds as LF ultimately wins out over all of the scenarios.

You could legitimately pick that lineup out of a hat, but I would go with:

CF Mays/Cobb (no idea which one right now, but either would slot nicely at leadoff)
SS Wagner (easy choice here)
LF Bonds (that OBP would be fantastic ahead of the next group)
RF Ruth (only real choice is whether the Babe should hit 3rd or 4th)
DH Williams (He would have 8 million RBIs batting behind Bonds and Ruth)
C Gibson (I like mixing a righty in, but I could go with Gehrig here)
1B Gehrig (he might not complain about being slotted lower)
3B Schmidt (actually, I might go with Hornsby at 3B)
2B Collins (he wouldn't like hitting 8th)

I actually didn't realize that Alex Rodriguez soon has a legitimate argument to be slotted into this lineup until I just compared him to Schmidt. If Alex never played again, he would still have about the same OPS+ (148 A-Rod 147 Schmidt). Schmidt currently has better WARP numbers (105.6 W1, 142.1 W3 for A-Rod; 156.7 W1, 157.0 W3 for Schmidt) Also, Schmidt has a bit more career and was a better fielding 3B, but of course Rodriguez played a very good shortstop. Schmidt's offensive context was lower, so his career line (.267, .380, .527, 1506 R, 548 HR, 1595 RBI) looks a little worse than A-Rod (.307, .390, .580, 1540 R, 532 HR, 1544 RBI). Still, A-Rod is getting remarkably close.
   21. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 23, 2008 at 02:07 AM (#2829391)
BTW, Joe and I agree and have decided that Dick Allen should have been part of the third basemen group. Therefore, he will be included with that group and his votes will be removed from this thread.
   22. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 23, 2008 at 02:25 AM (#2829414)
The results have been altered to show Allen removed the group.
   23. OCF Posted: June 23, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2829835)
I can confirm the altered totals, with no Allen. The average consensus score is now 90.

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