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

Monday, July 08, 2002

First Basemen on the opening ballot

This will be the first of many threads to discuss players at each position on the first Hall of Merit ballot.

A gigantic thank you to David Jones, John Murphy and KJOK. They ran the numbers through the spreadsheets for me and it was a major help. Without their help it would be two months from now before this thread would have been posted. Thanks guys!!

I’m going to list the player’s career WS, top 3 seasons, top 5 consecutive and a few other things, like % played at each position (based on seasons, not games, very important w/shifting schedule length), etc. All WS numbers are adjusted to a 162-game season, based on team games. Hopefully the formatting works . . .

The players are listed here alphabetically. Let me know if anyone was overlooked.

Later in the week, I’ll be adding offensive W-L records that I’ve computed, as well as a total of Stats retroactive MVP, all-stars, etc., so check back here as well. This is just a beginning, these numbers aren’t meant to be a criteria, just a starting point for discussion. I’ll be adding NA WS by the end of the month I hope.

Coming up with reasonable adjusted pitching numbers are still in the works, hopefully in the next two weeks or so.

Let me know what you think of this format. More will be coming . . . The resumes will appear when you link into the discussion, you’ll have to scroll back up.


567 WS - 42, 39, 38 - 165 - Cap Anson - 25.2 sea. (including NA) - 503 batting - 63 fielding - 1 pitching.
71% 1B, 16% 3B, 5% C, 3% LF, 2% RF, 1% 2B, 1% SS, 1% CF.
notes: 1871-97. Played 4.9 seasons in National Association (not accounted for here). 5-year peak from age 28-32. Rest of career in National League.

475 WS - 40, 40, 39 - 188 Dan Brouthers - 13.8 sea. - 441 batting - 34 fielding.
97% 1B, 3% LF.
notes: 1879-96, 1904. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 24 WS, and 1891 (AA) 34 WS.

54 WS - 17, 14, 12 - 43 Ed Cartwright - 3.7 sea. - 46 batting - 8 fielding.
100% 1B.
notes: 1890, 1894-97. 5-year peak from age 34-37 (no 5-year stretch). Entire career in NL, except 1890 (AA), 11 WS.

163 WS - 23, 20, 18 - 85 Charlie Comiskey - 11 sea. - 128 batting - 33 fielding - 1 pitching.
97% 1B, 2% 2B, 1% RF.
notes: 1882-1894. 5-year peak from age 23-27. Entire career in AA, except 1890 (PL) 3 WS, 1892-94 (NL) 7, 1, 1 WS respectively.

488 WS - 47, 44, 37 - 191 Roger Connor - 16.4 sea. - 435 batting - 53 fielding.
85% 1B, 8% 3B, 4% 2B, 3% CF
notes: 1880-97. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 31 WS.

218 WS - 34, 33, 23 - 132 Henry Larkin - 8.9 sea. - 196 batting - 22 fielding.
57% 1B, 26% LF, 12% CF, 2% 2B, 2% RF
notes: 1884-93. 5-year peak from age 25-29. Entire career in AA, except 1890 (PL) 23 WS, 1892-93 (NL), 13 WS each year.

257 WS - 32, 24, 23 - 119 John Morrill - 13.1 sea. - 206 batting - 47 fielding - 4 pitching.
69% 1B, 13% 3B, 9% 2B, 4% SS, 2% C, 1% RF, 1% CF
notes: 1876-90. 5-year peak from age 27-31. Entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 0 WS.

195 WS - 41, 38, 30 - 141 Dave Orr - 6.4 sea. - 179 batting - 17 fielding.
99% 1B.
notes: 1883-90. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Entire career in NL except 1 G in 1883 (NL) and 1890 (PL) 30 WS. Career ends after that 30 WS season at age 30 in 1890. I don’t know why his career ended early, he didn’t die until 1915. He was a helluva player when healthy. If anyone has the story, please share it . . .

200 WS - 37, 30, 29 - 126 John Reilly - 9.3 sea. - 177 batting - 23 fielding.
94% 1B, 2% LF, 2% CF, 2% RF.
notes: 1880, 1883-91. 5-year peak from age 25-29. Entire career in AA, except 1880, 1890, 1891 (NL). 2, 20, 9 WS respectively in those years.

244 WS - 30, 30, 26 - 130 Joe Start - 14.4 sea. (including NA) - 219 batting - 25 fielding.
99% 1B
notes: 1871-1886. Played 4.9 seasons in NA (not accounted for here). 5-year peak from age 34-38. NA was not formed until he was 28 years old, so the 244 WS above are from age 33 on. By comparison, Anson had 297 WS after age 32, Brouthers had 130, Connor 120. Entire non-NA career was in the NL. He cranked out a 23 WS season at age 42 for Providence in 1885. Too bad he wasn’t born 10-15 years later.

124 - 18, 18, 17 - 70 - Patsy Tebeau - 8.5 sea. - 81 batting - 43 fielding.
1B - 50%, 3B 41%, 2B 7%, SS 2%.
notes: 1887, 1889-1900. 5-year peak age 24-28. Played entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 17 WS.

206 WS - 35, 24, 20 - 112 Tommy Tucker - 12.1 sea. - 177 batting - 29 fielding.
99% 1B, 1% CF.
notes: 1887-99. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Entire career in NL, except 1887-89 (AA). 18, 24, 35 WS respectively in those years.

116 WS - 24, 22, 19 - 76 Perry Werden - 5.0 sea. - 81 batting - 15 fielding - 20 pitching (1884 - not used in peak calcs).
98% 1B, 1% LF, 1% CF.
notes: 1884, 1888-93, 1897. 5-year peak from age 24-27 (never played 5 consec. seasons). 1884, as a pitcher in Union Association 21 WS. 1890-91 in AA, 24, 22 WS. 1888 (0 WS) and 1892-93, 97 in NL (18, 13, 19 WS respectively). Strange career, was bouncing all over the place.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: July 08, 2002 at 07:36 PM | 149 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. scruff Posted: July 08, 2002 at 07:48 PM (#509849)
I put the WS before the names so they'd line up better, but I can easily change that if people don't like it.

Anson, Connor and Brouthers stand above this pack. I think Joe Start deserves serious consideration considering his late start (no pun intended). I mean the numbers he put up after the age of 32 are truly amazing.

Harry Stovey should be a LF, but I imagine he'll get selected as well.

Dave Orr has a Koufaxish argument if you weigh peak value heavily. His 5-year peak would be higher, but he missed significant playing time in two of the 5 years. He'd have about 165 WS for the 5-year stretch from 1884-88 if he had been healthy in 1887-88. He did put those numbers up in the AA though, so they have to be discounted a little. Not saying he belongs, but he's worth a look-see at least.

Those six players are the only candidates that I see with any chance of being elected. I need to see where he ranks amongst players at other positions, but Joe Start is going rank pretty high on my ballot once we get past the obvious guys like Anson, Connor, Brouthers, Ewing, O'Rourke, etc..
   2. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 08, 2002 at 08:16 PM (#509850)
Good job Scruff!

I would disagree with you on Stovey though. He played 43% of his games at first, while only playing 30% in LF. He also had his best seasons at first. IMHO, I think each outfield positions are different in value (as are each of the infield positions). As you have mentioned, it's not a big deal.

The Joe Start comments are interesting. He falls in the same category as Candy Cummings; they straddle professional and nonprofessional leagues. I don't know if we should set up a pioneer section to elect players such as these.

As of right now, the only three I would select are Anson, Brouthers and Connor (in that order). Stovey possibly, but I'm not sold on him. Orr and Larkin had short careers in a lesser league, so I would pass on them. Looking forward to other comments!
   3. scruff Posted: July 08, 2002 at 09:15 PM (#509851)
I just want to add a huge thank you for David Jones, KJOK and John Murphy for running the numbers through a spreadsheet that I've transcribed. I'll put this comment at the top as well, meant to do that and forgot. Great job guys!!!
   4. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: July 08, 2002 at 09:22 PM (#509852)
The very first discussion and already we are into meta-theoretical questions. :)

I speak of Joe Start, of course. One of the problems in evaluating whether Start is a good candidate for the HoM is whether or not we want to count pre-professional baseball, to what extent we count it, etc.

Start clearly was one of the five best players of his era, but "his era" is really before the NA was formed.

As a result, if we just want to name good ballplayers, then surely he should go in fairly easily. But in terms of winning games in the major (professional) leagues, then his candidacy is a longer shot.

So the question of how high to rank Start depends to some degree on what you think the project is about.

I'll be putting him up high and damn the torpedoes, but I'm interested in what the rest of you think. Maybe someone can change my mind. With his high peak (can you peak after your peak? :) he will be high on my ballot regardless.

My ranking among the 1B men, just from eyeballing the candidates, goes Anson-Connor-Brouthers-Start-Orr-Morrill and then (if it matters) the Larkin-Reilly-Tucker group.

I would only ever vote for the first five unless I had a very empty ballot...

Stovey I would put in the OF, but otherwise he ranks just behind Brouthers.

Interestingly, I thought Comiskey was a better player than this.
   5. MattB Posted: July 08, 2002 at 09:40 PM (#509853)
According to Baseball Libary, Dave Orr's career ended following a "paralyzing, career-ending stroke."

Ouch.
   6. MattB Posted: July 08, 2002 at 09:43 PM (#509854)
Info on Joe Start, also from the baseball library:

"One of the foremost stars of baseball's early years, Start first gained prominence with Brooklyn's Atlantics (1861-70), whom he helped go undefeated in 1864 and 1865 to win the national championship. He played five years with the New York Mutuals of the old National Association and was in his thirties when the National League was formed in 1876. After leading the NL in hits (100) in 1878 with Chicago, he joined the Providence Grays, helping them to a pennant in 1879 and captaining the 1884 pennant winners. Start is credited as the first first baseman to play his position away from the bag (although some say it was Charlie Comiskey), an advantage underscored by the fact that his chances per game and putouts per game exceeded those of other first basemen of his time."
   7. MattB Posted: July 08, 2002 at 09:51 PM (#509855)
Thought I'd quote myself in a more appropriate forum is my quixotic effort to demote Cap Anson to third best first baseman of the era below Connor and Brouthers. The general gist of my argument is that, looking year by year, it's the rare year that Cap Anson is the best first baseman in the league (1872 and 1881 are the only years I'd put him first). Meanwhile, Connor and Brouthers alternated dominance for most of the era. I said also in another thread:

"When comparing offensively I like to look at prolonged dominance. Take, say, years with OPS+ above 150.

Connor: 8 consecutive, 10 out of 11 (1882-1892)

Brouthers: 9 consecutive (all above 160), 12 out of 13 (1881-1893)

Anson: 3 consecutive, 8 out of 17(scattered between 1872 and 1888), most dominant season was 1872, age 20 in the weak NA."
   8. MattB Posted: July 08, 2002 at 10:08 PM (#509856)
Another anti-Ansonian argument, looking just at Win Shares, is by considering Win Shares above Average. Assuming an average hitter receives 13.5 WS per year (81 wins times 3 WS per win divided by 2 950% for hitters) divided by 9 offensive players), Anson had 270 WS above average in his 22 year career, Brouthers had 288 WS above average, and Connor had 266 above average. The numbers would likely skew more away from Anson if one considered hitting numbers for average first basemen, or at least average non-pitchers.

Those numbers, of course, exclude Anson's NA years, but also gives him full credit for early NL years, where the competition was likely weaker, and when seasons were shorter and less onerous than the later seasons in which Connor and Brouthers excelled.
   9. scruff Posted: July 09, 2002 at 12:14 AM (#509859)
Comiskey was a terrible hitter for a 'first-sacker'. I have his career offensive W-L record at 94-113, .453. He's quite possibly the most overrated player in history, in that a lot of people think he was pretty good. He wasn't.

His average year as a hitter was that of Steve Cox or Wes Helms 2001. I don't care how good his glove was, he was just an awful hitter.
   10. Silver King Posted: July 09, 2002 at 12:47 AM (#509860)
I would love to know more about the fielding for these candidates. The info that's most inaccessible to us is how good they were as fielders, and y'alls work on the win shares includes their fielding win shares which is far better info than anything currently available (except maybe for anecdotes/public-impressions like Jumbo's).

But simply hearing that Connor totalled 50-odd career fielding shares doesn't convey much to me. Is it possible to convey how much better/worse than average the guy was in specific seasons? It'd be _great_ to know that, at least for the pretty serious candidates, at least for their prime years.

(I guess that'd be average for that time period, whatever that'd be. From the 1870's through the '90's, average might've morphed more than a little...)

If I recall correctly, Scruff/Joe is a big DMB enthusiast. An equivalent to the DMB fielding ratings would be sweet! E.g. knowing that Big Dan, while a humongous hitting beast in 1886, was just a "Fair" first sacker that year, while Roger Connor was a "Very Good". That'd give me the upshot of the data such that I could readily grasp a player's impact. Or if you can 'simply' provide the info by which we can figure out those labels for ourselves...

Of course, this goes for the other positions too.
   11. Silver King Posted: July 09, 2002 at 01:20 AM (#509861)
I would love to know more about the fielding for these candidates. The info that's most inaccessible to us is how good they were as fielders, and y'alls work on the win shares includes their fielding win shares which is far better info than anything currently available (except maybe for anecdotes/public-impressions like Jumbo's).

But simply hearing that Connor totalled 50-odd career fielding shares doesn't convey much to me. Is it possible to convey how much better/worse than average the guy was in specific seasons? It'd be _great_ to know that, at least for the pretty serious candidates, at least for their prime years.

(I guess that'd be average for that time period, whatever that'd be. From the 1870's through the '90's, average might've morphed more than a little...)

If I recall correctly, Scruff/Joe is a big DMB enthusiast. An equivalent to the DMB fielding ratings would be sweet! E.g. knowing that Big Dan, while a humongous hitting beast in 1886, was just a "Fair" first sacker that year, while Roger Connor was a "Very Good". That'd give me the upshot of the data such that I could readily grasp a player's impact. Or if you can 'simply' provide the info by which we can figure out those labels for ourselves...

Of course, this goes for the other positions too.
   12. scruff Posted: July 09, 2002 at 03:38 AM (#509862)
Silver, I'll eventually add the times in the top 1, 3 and/or 5 (suggestions) in the league in fielding win shares at the position. I'll try to come up with some era norms.

One thing I can do is put the letter grade Bill James gave the player based on his fielding. I'll try to get those up there at a minimum tomorrow.

I know win shares loves Roger Connor as a defensive 1B and thinks Brouthers was fair at best.

I've swapped an email or two with the powers that be over at Diamond Mind, and I've sent them my WS spreadsheet. I'm can't wait until they have the time to see how well their ratings correlate with WS, for the current data. If those correlate well, It'll be a big plus for the WS method. Right now WS are the best out there for a defensive rating when PBP data isn't there, but I'd love to see them validated w/PBP data.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 09, 2002 at 06:55 AM (#509863)
Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morril: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68

The more I analyze Joe Start's credentials, the more I like.

   14. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: July 09, 2002 at 12:11 PM (#509864)
"Interestingly, I thought Comiskey was a better player than this."

Interestingly, so did Comiskey. And he had unlimited opportunties (as an owner) to tout himself and his era as superior, and did so frequently. He also made claims (many proven false) to have invented most defensive positioning schemes and every piece of equipment from shoe leather to hair grease. Since he could throw you out of the pressbox, nobody really called him on it for decades, but you just can't take claims about Comiskey seriously without strong corroboration.
   15. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: July 09, 2002 at 12:15 PM (#509865)
Can we perhaps get the original spreadsheet data as a download? I would love to play around with the numbers, reranking the lists by different categories of excellence, etc. I know it's probably a messy spreadsheet for the years with multiple leagues coming and going and varied schedule lengths, but I'd like to go poking around in the data's innards....

Great job!
   16. scruff Posted: July 09, 2002 at 01:07 PM (#509866)
Fracas, I'll be posting the original spreadsheets once they are cleaned up a little. Meant to say that as well. They are actually pretty user friendly, they were designed with public consumption in mind.

I'll probably just post them over at MostlyBaseball.com which as basically become a spreadsheet repository since Robert and I joined Primer last fall. Once they're up, I'll set up a link here. Hopefully by early next week, but I'm going to be out of town this weekend, and it's going to be a busy next week or so at work as well.
   17. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: July 09, 2002 at 04:22 PM (#509867)
Scruff, I will be very interested in getting spreadsheets, etc. so that I can build DMB seasons for these years. :) The fielding stats are the "missing link" I need in putting together old years, a project I am very interested in...

I will look over on mostlybaseball later.

As always, you go above and beyond the call of duty...
   18. scruff Posted: July 09, 2002 at 04:36 PM (#509868)
Craig thanks for the kind words, but I'm a little selfish here . . . I really want to see the results of this project. It'll give me such a better reference when I'm in one of those 'should he be in or shouldn't he be in' arguments.

This started because I'm an Andre Dawson fan, a huge one. But I'm not sure how I evaluate him. Right now the discussion is along the lines that he's better than some but not better than others, but what I want to know is, if the correct 215 or so guys were in, would he belong. So I started doing this myself and I thought, may as well get a strong group of voters and actually have elections, etc.

As a corallary, every can keep track of their own personal Hall of Fame through this project. Just note to yourself somewhere who would have made it if only you voted, and string your own personal elections along accordingly (while still voting in our 'real' one also).

John, good work, I posted this on the 2B thread as well . . .

I think you'd be better off re-running the numbers using the number of career WS above and the 'seasons' above. This will at least give a more accurate weight to seasons that were shorter because of the schedule.

For example Cap Anson played 2523 games. His midpoint, for games played came in his age 35 season. He played as many games after the age of 35 as before. Brouthers reached his midpoint in games played at 30. Cal Ripken also crossed the midpoint early in his age 30 season.

Even if you say that Anson played until he was 45, he still should have passed the midpoint at age 32 or 33, not 35. Just taking WS per 162 weighs someone like Anson's older seasons too highly.
   19. DanG Posted: July 09, 2002 at 05:18 PM (#509869)
Did a quick look for long-career firstbasemen who were not included in the analysis. Found a couple besides Foutz, of course nobody great:

Bill Phillips, 1879-88
Patsy Tebeau, 1887-1900 (also played a lot at 3B)

They may not be worth crunching the numbers for, but I wanted to be sure they weren't overlooked by accident.

DG

   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 09, 2002 at 06:14 PM (#509870)
WS per 162 games should NOT be the sole criteria for evaluating a player. I just threw it in as another area of a player's contribution.

Here's the problem that Win Shares by themselves or career WS above and the 'seasons' above have. You can have two players with the same amount of Win Shares for a season, but one player could have created them in far fewer games (which is more valuable to the team). WS per 162 games can pick this up. Again, this is just another tool to use, not the sole one.

Patsy Tebeau will be on the third basemen list, Dan. Foutz will be on the pitchers list. Bill Phillips wasn't included because we only took players that were on a STATS all-star team or were included on the top 100 lists in the NBHA. Scruff explained that if you weren't on any of those lists, you are HoM bound. He did add that if someone wanted a player to be added, that was fine. I'll run up the numbers for tomorrow on Phillips.
   21. Rob Wood Posted: July 09, 2002 at 07:29 PM (#509871)
Great to see the progress. By the way, where can I read up on the structure of the ballot (by position, by era, etc.), how voters fill out their ballots (rankings, ratings, yes/no, etc.) and how the ballots will be tallied (who ultimately gets elected into HOM)? I am confident that these issues have been discussed and the decisions archived somewhere, right?
   22. jimd Posted: July 09, 2002 at 08:58 PM (#509872)
Jumbo doesn't say that Comiskey was 'great', just that he could field. Of the six fielders mentioned, the defensive win shares per season look as follows:
(integerizing the win shares makes the following averages somewhat imprecise particularly with shorter careers; added Start because of general interest in him)

2.4/5 Brouthers
2.4/5 Reilly
2.6/7 Orr
2.6/7 Start
3.0/0 Anson
3.0/0 Comiskey
3.2/3 Connor

Anson and Connor spent significant time at other positions; don't know how that affects these numbers. It's certainly evidence of their potential for being a good fielding first baseman. However, potential does not always translate into reality. If Comiskey is the one revolutionizing first base play by using a more mobile style of play, then the others will have lower numbers until/unless they adopt that style also. Of course, the influence could also go the other way (or originate with some unknown fielder whose name is now lost).

   23. jimd Posted: July 09, 2002 at 09:32 PM (#509873)
For completeness, here's everybody:

2.0/3 Cartwright
2.4/4 Tucker
2.4/5 Larkin
2.4/5 Brouthers
2.4/5 Reilly
2.6/7 Orr
2.6/7 Start
2.9/3.1 Werden
3.0/0 Anson
3.0/0 Comiskey
3.2/3 Connor
3.5/6 Stovey
3.6/6 Morrill

Stovey and Morrill spend even more amounts of time at other positions.

   24. scruff Posted: July 09, 2002 at 10:28 PM (#509874)
A few things . . .

JimD -- What does the second number mean, as in the '7' in '2.6/7 Start'? Thanks for figuring the numbers . . .

John wrote: 'Here's the problem that Win Shares by themselves or career WS above and the 'seasons' above have. You can have two players with the same amount of Win Shares for a season, but one player could have created them in far fewer games (which is more valuable to the team). WS per 162 games can pick this up. Again, this is just another tool to use, not the sole one.'

----

John, since the WS above are normalized to a 162-game season, as well as the 'seasons' above, I think it works out the same. If someone created 20 win shares in an 81-game season in 1882 and someone created 40 win shares in a 162-game season in 1961, the numbers are considered equal. Both would show up as 40 WS, 1.0 seasons (if they played all 162-games) above. If the player only played 73 or 146 games, it would be 40 WS, .9 seasons. Is this what you were getting at?

----

Robert, check the "Something Better" article located under my archive on the authors page (too tired/lazy/wanting to leave work to find the link it and link it).

I'd imagine the discussion is in a couple of the earlier threads as well. Basically it there will be a set number of electees each 'year' (based on a spreadsheet RobertDudek and I worked on which evaluates number of teams and level of competition on moves the scale over time). Voters will simply rank the candidates from 1-10 on their ballots and the top 1-5 (depending on the year) get in.

We're going to have 5 the first year, then it will trail down, I think to one a couple of years, then 2 per year until sometime in the 70's or 80's and then we'll start adding 3 or so, and I think 4 some years.

In the end, we'll have exactly the number elected in real life through 2002. I ran a quick check and the real Hall inducted something like 38 from 1990-2002 and we had the same amount or within one or two.

There was discussion about allowing bonus points to 'weigh' a ballot, as well as following MVP tradition and giving 14 to the first place guy; also discussed (I think) was giving the extra 4 points through the spots we elect. For example, in a 3 inductee year, the ballot would be 14-13-12-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. In a 2 inductee year, the ballot would be 14-13-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. We never really came to a consensus I don't think.

If you (or anyone else) wants to raise any issues with this, feel free; please use either the 'distribution list test' thread or one of the earlier threads where this was discussed, so as to keep the confusion to a minimum.
   25. jimd Posted: July 09, 2002 at 11:39 PM (#509875)
Sorry, I wasn't clear about that. 2.6/7 means either 2.6 or 2.7 depending on whether "17 win shares" means "16.5" or "17.5". The shorter the career, the more the uncertainty. Cartwright's career is so short (3.7 seasons of 162 games) that his defensive value can range from 2.0 to 2.3 depending on whether "8 win shares" means 7.5 or 8.5 or somewhere in between.
   26. Silver King Posted: July 10, 2002 at 03:19 AM (#509876)
Craig B.: awesome project! I'm interested; tell us more.

Scruff: I'm particularly interested, beyond their career letter grades, in what seasonal letter grades the candidates deserved during their prime years as hitters. In the seasons when they were studs, how all-around or one dimensional were they?

I guess the handy spreadsheet stuff will impart the means to divine this knowledge... But I could use some help at understanding how to measure how good, normal, or bad a guy's numbers are.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2002 at 05:30 AM (#509877)
(John, since the WS above are normalized to a 162-game season, as well as the 'seasons' above, I think it works out the same. If someone created 20 win shares in an 81-game season in 1882 and someone created 40 win shares in a 162-game season in 1961, the numbers are considered equal. Both would show up as 40 WS, 1.0 seasons (if they played all 162-games) above. If the player only played 73 or 146 games, it would be 40 WS, .9 seasons. Is this what you were getting at?)

Here is a perfect example of what I was trying to get at: Andy Messersmith and Randy Jones in 1975. They both had identical totals of 28 WS. However, Messersmith achieved his total in 321 innings, while Jones created his in only 285. Jones had more value for his team because he achieved his total in less innings. The 162 game projections that we created are great to place the 19th century players in a contemporary setting, but it doesn't correct the problem with Messersmith and Jones that I outlined.

As I have mentioned in other posts, I think we need a combination of career WS plus WS per 162 games to get a clearer picture of all eligible players. I hoped my explanation helped.
   28. MattB Posted: July 10, 2002 at 12:44 PM (#509878)
WHY JOE START IS A BETTER HoM SELECTION THAN ANYONE ON THE 2002 ALL-STAR TEAM

The date was June 14, 1870, the year before the first organized professional league (the National Association) formed, but the year after the first all-professional team (the Cincinnati Red Stockings) formed.

For all of 1869, the Red Stockings were undefeated. The started 1870 just as they had the year before -- win after win after win.

Then, on June 14, the Red Stockings visited the Brooklyn Atlantics at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was viewed as a worthy challenger, but had yet to jump that final hurdle -- dethroning the champions.

The game was played hard and close in front of a full house (about 9,000 fans!), and the teams did not disappoint. In fact, going into the bottom of the 11th inning, the score was tied 7-7. (sound familiar?)

But, that day the game was not to end a 7-7 tie. No, instead in the bottom of the 11th, Brooklyn star Joe Start came to the plate. Start hit a hard liner into right field, and ran it out hard enough to earn a triple, but then scored the winning run on the same play on Cincinnati's Charlie Gould's throwing error.

Brooklyn won the game 8-7, and the Cincinnati Red Stockings suffered their first loss ever in a year and a half. This would set off a spiral of events, leading to Cincy's not joining the National Association the next year.

Start -- and half of his team -- would join the New York Mutuals in 1871, leaving the Atlantics a shell of their former selves when they too joined the next year.
   29. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: July 10, 2002 at 01:57 PM (#509879)
Silver King,

(BTW I love the handle)

I would like to compile season disks for DMB 8 for the NL and/or AA for pre-1893 baseball. The aim would be to get 8 or 16 owners together and play a league. I am working on the league format.

2 things will have to happen for this to go forward... since my time is short, I will need to find some way of automating the process (I think I might be able to write a script to automatically put together a season disk... I'd like to try it because it opens up all sorts of possibilities)

Second, I need decent fielding data for those years... which I don't have. I'd like to look at fielding WS to see how they match up to DMB ratings for contemporary players... if they match well, I think I've found my way of calculating fielding ratings (take fielding WS and take out the error component to get the range component).

I have some doubts about whether the DMB engine will be able to adequately reproduce the flavour of pre-modern (i.e. pre-1893) baseball but I think with careful attention to things like gb% and players' pull ratings I might be able to make it work. The fair-foul rule is a problem, of course... so are nine-ball walks and so forth.

I think that nevertheless the project would be fun.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2002 at 05:19 PM (#509882)
Here is the WS per 162 games for Bill Phillips: 16.54

I have sent the career WS prorations to Scruff so he can add them here.
   31. scruff Posted: July 10, 2002 at 05:43 PM (#509883)
Patsy Tebeau has been added to the list above. He's not a serious candidate.

John, I'll get the Bill Phillips numbers up there a little later, I had already edited the thread. 3B and SS numbers are coming soon . . .
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 10, 2002 at 07:13 PM (#509884)
I didn't realize Tebeau played more games at first than third. No matter, he ain't a HoMer.
   33. scruff Posted: July 11, 2002 at 01:38 AM (#509885)
Bill James letter Grades for defensive players. I added JimD's numbers also, and there isn't as strong a correlation as I thought there would be.

A+
Dave Foutz
Patsy Tebeau

A
Roger Connor 3.2/3
Perry Werden 2.9/3.1

A-
Charlie Comiskey 3.0

B
John Morrill 3.6
Dave Orr 2.6/7
Joe Start 2.6/7

B-
Cap Anson 3.0
Dan Brouthers 2.4/5
John Reilly 2.4/5

C+
Bill Phillips
Tommy Tucker 2.4

D-
Henry Larkin 2.4/5

   34. jimd Posted: July 11, 2002 at 02:21 AM (#509886)
I think part of that is that the "expected number of defensive win shares per season" varies drastically by position. What is phenomenal for a 1B would be terrible for a SS. So those players that spend significant time at other positions get distorted by the numbers I calculated.

Larkin's numbers look like a B- at 1B, except he spent 43% of his time at more demanding positions, so maybe his D- is quite warranted. Morrill's numbers are off the chart for a 1B, but he spent 31% of his time elsewhere, more than half of that playing SS/3B, so who knows, maybe his cumulative grade should be a B. The few guys that are 90+% 1B seem to line up pretty well.

A
Perry Werden 2.9/3.1
A-
Charlie Comiskey 3.0
B
Dave Orr 2.6/7
Joe Start 2.6/7
B-
Dan Brouthers 2.4/5
John Reilly 2.4/5
C+
Tommy Tucker 2.4

Bottom line is I don't think that my numbers were that helpful other than in helping quantify what the letter grades might mean.

   35. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 12, 2002 at 06:48 AM (#509887)
Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morrill: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Patsy Tebeau: 14.57
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 12, 2002 at 06:52 AM (#509888)
Correction:

Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morrill: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
Bill Phillips: 16.54
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Patsy Tebeau: 14.57
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68

Scruff:
Do you need me to send over to you the Bill Phillips data?

   37. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 14, 2002 at 05:33 AM (#509889)
161-25, 20, 19-87-Bill Phillips-9.7 sea.-137 batting-23 fielding
1B 98%, C 1%.
notes: 1879-1888. 5 year peak from age 25-29. Played in N from 1879-1884; 1885-1889 in AA.
   38. Marc Posted: July 21, 2002 at 07:09 PM (#509890)
Two questions:

Where does Cal McVey fit into all of this. He, like Deacon White, was a dominant player in the NA who played all over the diamond--C, 1B, 3B. I believe he ended up with more games at 1B than anywhere else, though I am not sure if that is for his entire career or only for NL games. I have no idea if he is a HOFer or HOMer but he is probably deserving of consideration in the same way that White and Ross Barnes are.

Second, the contrast between Brouthers and Connor is interesting. Both played the same number of seasons and racked up similar career WS. Brouthers clearly did so in fewer games. Why did Brouthers miss so many games? Was it injury related, or possibly contractual, or what? Does anybody know the story. Thanks and thanks.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 21, 2002 at 09:45 PM (#509891)
Marc:

Cal McVey's numbers should have been on the catcher site.
   40. scruff Posted: September 17, 2002 at 12:19 AM (#509892)
This is just to 'reactivate' this thread so people can find it.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2002 at 03:28 AM (#509893)
Updated top five first basemen list (in order):
Cap Anson
Dan Brouthers
Roger Connor
Harry Stovey
Joe Start (if including pre NL numbers, better than Stovey)
   42. Marc Posted: September 29, 2002 at 04:53 AM (#509894)
Here's a wild hair. I am going to leave Anson off my year one ballot because of his role in organizing the banning of black players from MLB. Then I plan on voting for him in year number two. Just my way of weighing in on the "character" issue.

Just for the record, I will vote for Joe Jackson for the HOM, but here again maybe I'll skip him for a year or two. Haven't decided on Pete Rose yet.
   43. Marc Posted: September 29, 2002 at 04:55 AM (#509895)
Here's a wild hair. I am going to leave Anson off my year one ballot because of his role in organizing the banning of black players from MLB. Then I plan on voting for him in year number two. Just my way of weighing in on the "character" issue.

Just for the record, I will vote for Joe Jackson for the HOM, but here again maybe I'll skip him for a year or two. Haven't decided on Pete Rose yet.
   44. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2002 at 04:24 PM (#509897)
Mr. Stovey, how about if both Cap and you go in (plus Eddie Grant and probably Bud Fowler, also)? I don't know where they would place at their respective positions, however.
   45. Marc Posted: September 29, 2002 at 04:44 PM (#509898)
George, I read your post(s) earlier along with discussion of Fleet Walker et al. I hope that when our final ballot comes out that black players will be included. My assumption is that scruff and others are preparing such a ballot (thank you, thank you, thank you for all the work that involves) and that there will be some kind of summary, like an AdjWS number of something on the ballot/spreadsheet. For the black candidates a narrative description is probably needed in lieu of the quantitative analysis.

If you are not on the ballot please alert us to it at the time.
   46. Marc Posted: October 01, 2002 at 01:05 AM (#509900)
Every analytical system I'm aware of excludes post-season play in every era, so the 19th century doesn't suffer by comparison. Has anybody ever done post-season WS?
   47. Brian H Posted: October 01, 2002 at 05:38 PM (#509901)
Even though we will not be figuring post-season achievments statistically (Win Shares etc.) it is fair to say that we will at least be considering them at least implicitly in many 20th century cases. For example, Mazeroski's HR in the 1960 series will stand him in good stead as will memorable post seasons by: B. Robinson, G. Nettles, Mathewson, Reggie Jackson, Enos Slaughter, Koufax, Phillippe etc. Obviously, this list is partial and perhaps even a bit controversial but at the very least it is fair to say that Post Season achievements -- generally World Series but more recently playoffs too -- will be considered when we get closer to our own era. Shouldn't we consider those 19th century players who had similar achievements in the 19th century World Series betwwen the AA and the NL and the subsequent Temple Cup series between the two best NL teams as well ?
   48. Brian H Posted: October 01, 2002 at 05:39 PM (#509902)
Even though we will not be figuring post-season achievments statistically (Win Shares etc.) it is fair to say that we will at least be considering them at least implicitly in many 20th century cases. For example, Mazeroski's HR in the 1960 series will stand him in good stead as will memorable post seasons by: B. Robinson, G. Nettles, Mathewson, Reggie Jackson, Enos Slaughter, Koufax, Phillippe etc. Obviously, this list is partial and perhaps even a bit controversial but at the very least it is fair to say that Post Season achievements -- generally World Series but more recently playoffs too -- will be considered when we get closer to our own era. Shouldn't we consider those 19th century players who had similar achievements in the 19th century World Series betwwen the AA and the NL and the subsequent Temple Cup series between the two best NL teams as well ?
   49. Rob Wood Posted: October 01, 2002 at 07:08 PM (#509903)
I for one will be hesitant to put much weight on 19th century post-season performance since the games often were not fully engaging. They played around with different approaches but nothing really worked until the advent of the 20th century version of the World Series. Too often one team (or both teams) did not take the games very seriously. In my opinion anyway.
   50. Rob Wood Posted: October 03, 2002 at 05:59 PM (#509905)
My two cents on Anson. He received a great deal of publicity for not only being a great player but also being a pioneer. He was the leader of his teams and was one of the "faces" put to early baseball. From our perspective of over 100 years after the fact, especially as we analyze the statistical trail, it is hard to recapture how mythic Anson was in his own time.
   51. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 03, 2002 at 06:23 PM (#509906)
I have Anson about equal with Brouthers as a player (quality*length of career), though Cap wins when factoring in the NA. Brouthers was, without question, the better player, but wasn't as durable as Anson (who was?).
   52. Marc Posted: October 04, 2002 at 01:15 AM (#509907)
Anson's longevity was remarkable especially at a time when few had careers of modern-day length. Combine that with shorter seasons, and his 2200+ games are a lot--more than Gehrig, more than many modern first sackers. And you might want to read Bill James' write-up of Anson in the new Abstract. Anson, he says, "saved" major league baseball at a time when it had failed in New York and Philadelphia. He was the first to systematically steal the best players from other leagues, thus institutionalizing the NL as a "major" and others as "minor" leagues. And he made baseball popular in Chicago, the largest city left in the league at that time.

He was well-enough known to have gone on the vaudeville tour during the winter doing stupid baseball player tricks.

Of course we also know about Anson's other "intangibles."

But what is surprising is what Andrew and John have pointed out. His 381 WS are a lot, sure, but Brouthers is at 355 and Connor at 363, and their peaks are vastly higher. It is hard to see how James ends up with Anson at #11 and the latter twosome at 18 and 22. James' formula is supposed to rank CWS the same as the 3-yr peak WS and the 5-yr peak WS and the WS per 162 games.

? For CWS Anson is 5th (again, a remarkable achievement with the short seasons and not even including NA) but Connor and Brouthers are 7 and 8.

? For 3 yr peak Anson appears to be about 35th, which maybe reflects the short seasons; Connors is 11th and Brouthers about 18th.

? For 5 yr peak Anson is again around 30th or so, Connor is 12th, Brouthers about 15th.

? For WS per 162 games, where the short seasons are compensated for, Anson is indeed about 12th, but Brouthers is 2nd and Connor 10th.

Add all that up and Anson should be about 20th or so, Connor about 10th and Brouthers about 11th. The timeline adjustment would be insignificant but would not work in Anson's favor, anyway. So what is left in James' formula to account for his final ratings is "The Subjective Element," and there is good reason for this perhaps. Anson's NA performance would fall in here according to James' formula, but of course he totally blows off Wright's and Barnes' and White's NA performance. Then there's inequalities in the caliber of competition, post-season play, defense and other stuff, none of which work for Anson. Then there is the category of "Leadership." Well. If he single-handedly "saved" the game, that's a lot of leadership. And that other thing, that was a lot of leadership. James also has a category "Special Contributios Utterly Beyond the Reach of Statistics," and lists Jackie Robinson as the first example. Can Anson score highly in the same category as Jackie Robinson?

James has exposed Anson's role in banning black players from the major leagues. But his ranking, moving up about 10 places from where the numbers place him while the timeline pushes Brouthers and Connor down by six to ten slots, can only be understood as having an extremely large positive contribution in the "Subjective" category and the only subjective categories possible are the NA and the fact that he "saved" MLB in 1878. No apparent demerits for that other thing.

"The Pete Rose of the 19th century" is a nice snapshot, I'd never thought of it. Appropriate on pretty much every level.
   53. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 04:55 AM (#509909)
Did Anson have a long career? Just for fun, I adjusted some of Anson's other statistics (same idea as with the WS, though less defensible). Anson then would have 3941 G (Rose leads with 3562; he would have needed another 2.3 fulltime seasons). He also would have 5554 Hits (Rose "only" has 4256) in 16440 AB (Rose has 14053), raising his career BA to .338. He also would have 3223 RBI and 3276 R (compare Aaron with 2297 and Rickey with 2248, not including this year; they would each need to play another decade or so). And he'd be the career leader in Doubles with 945 (Speaker has 792, which would adjust up to about 840). (These adjusted numbers are conservative; I could probably justify more radical adjustments during the NA years.)

Pete Rose of the 19th Century indeed. Only those short seasons keep him from being as unreachable as Cy Young.
   54. dan b Posted: October 04, 2002 at 02:02 PM (#509910)
Jim must have been reading my notepad. I was going to make a similar comparison to Cy Young. Right now I have Anson at the top of my first ballot.
   55. dan b Posted: October 04, 2002 at 03:24 PM (#509912)
I too would put all 3 1B in the top 5. Is it possible that given the equipment and game strategies of the time, the defensive role of the first baseman was greater than it is today, or at least perceived to be greater?
   56. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 06:47 PM (#509913)
Andrew, using Adjusted WS on a career basis, and with no available NA stats, I agree with you. The other with a good career is OF Jim O'Rourke. Paul Hines will probably be comparable to Connor and Brouthers when NA stats are included. If you double the defensive WS (a crude compensation for halving the pitching WS), Kelly, McPhee and Glasscock also have careers about as valuable as Brouthers. (I published those numbers on another thread here last summer.)

Looking at peak value, with no NA numbers, Connor is the man. I don't have access to individual seasons for defensive WS, so I can't redo the peaks except in an extremely crude estimate; maybe Hines and George Gore can compete with him. I don't want to do any further analysis without NA numbers, because I estimate that an average member of the NA Boston team (aka, the NA All-Stars) will have peak numbers comparable to Connor. How this actually shakes out depends on how the pitching/defense split is resolved.
   57. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 06:51 PM (#509914)
The caveat here is the pitcher/position-player debate. Depending on how the pitching numbers shake out, we may have a major debate on peak vs career, with the pitchers dominating the peak discussion and the position players the career discussion, and integrating the two being a significant issue.
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 04, 2002 at 07:02 PM (#509915)
Brouthers was, by far, the best first baseman using peak value. His Win Shares per game was much higher than Connors or Anson, while there is hardly any difference between Connors and Brouthers with their extrapolated Win Shares (191 for Roger; 188 for Big Dan).
   59. Marc Posted: October 04, 2002 at 07:35 PM (#509916)
I agree that all three go in...eventually. If ones enjoys picking nits, of course, it matters who goes in in year one and who waits. So if fans of the three first sackers pick them, say, 1-3-5, but others maybe like some pitchers better, than the #5 guy on some of our ballots might have to wait.

My choice would be to make Anson wait. Not that his numbers aren't impressive, and the extra leadership he showed in popularizing the NL at a crucial point in its history is "historic." But take away the leadership component (or in other words, considering his negative leadership to cancel out his positive leadership) and as I said in a previous post, he clearly ranks behind Brouthers and Connor. Taken all into account, I am going to leave Anson off my ballot for one year as my comment on his role in banning black players. Then the second year, having had my little protest and assuming he is not elected (big assumption), then, sure, I might put him #1.

Similarly I will vote for Shoeless Joe in his second year of eligibility, and probably Pete Rose too.
   60. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 10:01 PM (#509917)
John, convince me why Rate has much to do with Peak. To me they are two different things. Peak measures the contribution in season size packets. Rate rewards a variety of things, some good, some bad, like not playing hurt or subpar, retiring too early instead of too late, coming up too late instead of too soon. Rate may measure ability in some sense, but if the player can't translate Rate into Peak, then you also need a quality backup player for when he can't play. (Starting pitchers today have Rates that dwarf position players, but you need at least 5 of them.)

Tip O'Neill has a quality Rate, right behind Brouthers. He also has a very short career, and his Peak values don't make my top-10 list. Whatever the reasons, he couldn't translate the Rate into Peak.

BTW, doing my double defense estimate, Gore passes Brouthers in Rate;
Ewing, Kelly, Moynahan, and O'Neill are right behind him. Moynahan was a one-year wonder at SS, and an injury case, if I remember correctly. Ewing and Kelly are Catchers who couldn't play there more than part-time due to the equipment shortage - shinguards and masks hadn't been invented yet and wearing visible padding was not manly. Kelly was more successful at playing other positions when not catching; his managers were better able to translate Rate into Peak than Ewing's.

   61. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 10:07 PM (#509918)
coming up too late instead of too soon?

That should have said, "starting later instead of too soon".
   62. jimd Posted: October 04, 2002 at 11:35 PM (#509919)
I forgot to point out that Connor probably increases his lead over Brouthers in Peak if any defensive adjustment is applied to the original BJ-WS calculations to correct for overvaluing the pitching. (If pitching is devalued, then fielding would pick up most if not all of the slack.)
   63. dan b Posted: October 05, 2002 at 04:09 AM (#509920)
Marc writes ?James has exposed Anson's role in banning black players from the major leagues?.

More accurately, James has attempted to minimize Anson?s role. In 1907 Sol White wrote ?Were it not for Anson, there would have been a colored player in the National League in 1887.? I have a couple books in my library that pre-date anything Bill James wrote that quote White and attribute the color line to Anson. In ?The Baseball Book 1990?, Bill James writes ??the portrayal of the color line as being a consequence of Cap Anson?s racism is extremely na?ve. Anson had no authority by which to impose a decree of racial exclusivity. The notion that Anson ?intimidated? the National League into banning blacks is silly. Certainly, Anson was a great and imposing figure, but the National League at that time was full of great and imposing figures ? Spalding, Chadwick, Ward, Harry Wright ? many of whom had far more impact on the decisions of the league than did Anson.?

It was the time of Jim Crow. Sadly, it affected all walks of life in America and would have affected baseball without Cap Anson. James writes ??the weight of Anson?s voice was derived from one thing: that he was a spokesman for the majority position.?

HoM electors in 1906 would not have held Anson?s racial views against him. We shouldn?t either.
   64. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 05, 2002 at 06:40 AM (#509921)
jimd:

Rate (at least in the way I was using it before)has nothing to do with Peak (which I don't use in my rankings anymore). To me, peak is to arbitrary. Should we go with three seasons? Or four? Maybe five?
I'd rather go with career WS (quantity) times WS per game (quality). I consider both of them equal. Am I right? Depends on how you want the HoM to be set up.

BTW, my Dan Brouthers analysis from before was using a combination of WS per game and total WS for his best three seasons.

   65. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 05, 2002 at 09:04 PM (#509924)
Andrew, your approach is not wrong. There are other who value longevity over peak. They're not wrong either. It depends on what you think the Hall should be made up of.

I try to straddle both ends. By taking both rate and career, both peak and career guys get a shot at making it.

Maybe Bill James' original approach in his Historical Abstract of 1985 should apply. Have a Hall for the peak guys, while another for the longevity guys.

BTW, my approach would be kind to Rose, but not to Ryan. Pete was a much better player than the Express (but I'll take Nolan on character any day).

Tomh:
Orator Jim's WS per game was 27.85. I can't see him not making my first ballot, but you never know.
   66. Marc Posted: October 06, 2002 at 02:13 AM (#509925)
Im with Andrew in having a strong preference for honoring players with high peak value ovr those with high career value and career counting stat totals. The reason as has been said before is that the single most important unit of measure in all of MLB is not the run or the win or the out...it is the pennant. In principle and within reason, I'll take a player who gives his team an unfair chance to win a couple-three pennants over a guy who gives his team an unfair chance to finish second ten times.
   67. Marc Posted: October 06, 2002 at 02:23 AM (#509926)
Re. Cap Anson, I don't disagree that segregation on America's ballfields would have occured with or without him. As it happens it DID occur with Cappy loudly at the front of the parade.

If Anson doesn't get "credit" for this, then how are you going to evaluate Jackie Robinson?

I've already mentioned that Anson ranks about 20th on James' numerical ratings and moves all the way up to 11th, swimming upstream against the extremely strong current of his timeline adjustment, based on his great leadership. So Dan B. is right, James minimizes Anson's role.

But he turns it around in Jackie's favor. I count 22 second sackers with more career WS. Jackie has a high peak, it's true--5th for 3 years, 6th for 5 years, and 5th for WS/162. Add all of that together, however, and he averages out at about 9th-10th. With timeline adjustment and "intangibles," he jumps to 4th. What intangibles? The same ones that count for nothing on Anson's resum?, in reverse, of course.

If Jackie had never been born, somebody would have been first. If Anson had never been born, blacks still would have been banned. I don't know. I see it working both ways, on both resum?s or neither.
   68. Brian H Posted: October 06, 2002 at 03:29 AM (#509927)
While is it likely true that segration and desegration in major league/"organized" Baseball were inevitable in that they were inextricably bound up with the American history in general I do not think that Robinson is merely the beneficiary of "intangible points" we may allocate for integration. Just any other talented Negro League player would not have succeeded as Robinson did. in fact, were it that easy Branch Rickey would have spent far less time making his choice and just picked the best player without looking for someone with the exceptional character of Robinson.

Many men of all of colors would have wilted under the pressure and abuse Robinson was under as the first black in the majors. Indeed, the much discussed pressure and abuse Roger Maris endured as he broke Ruths record in 1961 or that Henry Aaron endured as he broke Ruth's record in 1974 pale in comparison to what Robinson prevailed over.
Robinson's achievment (and it has his achievment) was exceptional and few if any other players could have suceeded as he did.

Conversely, Anson's dubious achievment in effectively codifying segration was rather ordinary. By the standards of its time it was not particularly difficult. Yes, it would have happened -- almost exactly as it happened I would hazard -- if Anson had not played any leadership role in it. To me the praise Robinson deserves is enormous, while the condemnation due Anson is relatively minor.

If we want to point the finger of blame at individuals for segrating baseball in the 19th century and then maintaining it until 1947 I would lay the lions share of the blame at the one man in baseball who had the power and stature to have ended Baseball apartheid 25 years earlier, Judge Landis. It was only with his demise and replacement by Happy Chandler that Branch Rickey began to seek out a player of exceptional character and fortitude to integrate baseball.

   69. Marc Posted: October 07, 2002 at 03:51 AM (#509928)
Well, I can assure you that Judge Landis will also rank very low on my ballot.

Seriously, what you say may be true but Anson still will be missing on one first year ballot.

Perhaps more analogous will be the question of what to do with Enos Slaughter, Dixie Walker and others who gave Robinson a particularly hard time--of course, Slaughter may be the only one where any choice needs to be made, I don't know.
   70. scruff Posted: October 07, 2002 at 09:08 PM (#509929)
Great discussion guys. I've been out of town, just now checking back in.

My original intentions are up on www.mostlybaseball.com, posted last year at this time (boy, we are moving at a turtle's pace, which is mostly my fault, but that will soon be rectified).

Anyway, this is what I wrote:

"This project is not only about numbers, we all know the numbers don't always tell the true story. Allowances should be made for players who miss time for the war or the color line. Some players played in parks that hurt or helped them more than than they would an average player. Many things can distort the numbers.

We will, however, present numbers to show players' contributions in the proper context. We hope these tools will help you with your decisions. For each player on the ballot we will provide at a minimum a link to their career statistical record on www.baseball-reference.com, as well as their career offensive W/L record (adjusted for league, park and team games played). For pitchers, we will include the BB-ref link as well as an adjusted career W/L record that will take into account their park, league and team games played as well.

Players' contributions on the field are to be the main criteria for selection, off-field actions should only be taken into account for the effect they had on the players' teams on the field of play."

I don't think we should take Anson's racist actions into account at all. I agree pretty strongly with Dan B, that his actions were a product of their time, and should be left there. We are trying to identify the greatest players ever, that's it. If a guy indisputably threw a game, that's one thing. If a guy was such a jerk that his teams continually self-destructed, that's also important. I can't think of anything else that should affect a ballot.

I don't think Enos SLaughter or anyone else should suffer any ill will from the HoM for their taunting of Robinson either. Being a jackass doesn't exclude you. It's Merit as a player that gets you in or out here, at least that was the intent.

As always, I'm open to anyone trying to change my mind, if you'd like to try.

Separate issue, someone above made mention about Dan Brouthers having a black ink edge over Connor. Black ink does not take ballpark into account.

If WS are remotely accurate, Connor has to be considered at least equal to Brouthers at their peaks. Connor's 3 best years (when adjusted for season length) average 42.7 WS to Brouthers' 39.7. Connor had 191 (38.2/season) over his 5-year peak, Brouthers 188 (37.6/season). Any adjustment increasing defensive contribution would widen the gap, as Connor was a much better defensive 1B.

It's close, but I'll take Connor over Brouthers on peak or career value.

I think Anson's edge on career value is enough that he should be ranked ahead of the other two. Not even accounting for his NA years he's 79 WS ahead of Connor, 92 ahead of Brouthers.

And it's not like his peak was chopped liver. His 3 best years averaged 39.7 WS (same as Brouthers) and his 5-year peak averaged 33 per season.
   71. scruff Posted: October 07, 2002 at 10:24 PM (#509931)
Defense and Durability, Tom. Connor picks up 53 dWS for his career, Brouthers 34.

Also, for his career Brouthers has 6 more oWS, and played about 2 1/2 fewer seasons, because he missed more time. He was a better hitter than Connor, in any given AB.

Both players had 18 year careers, but Brouthers missed 4.2 seasons, Connor just 1.6. OPS+ will not take that into account. It's like Manny Ramirez this year, vs. Jason Giambi. Giambi didn't miss too much time, and was more valuable, despite the fact that Manny was a better hitter this year, when he was playing.
   72. scruff Posted: October 07, 2002 at 10:30 PM (#509932)
One other thing, just to put it in perspective, Connor played an average of 147.6 games in his 18 year career (adjusting all seasons to 162 games) and Brouthers only played 124.2. So while Connor wasn't quite as good as Brouthers per AB (which is what OPS+ measures), he played about 18% more games in any given year. That's why his best years were more valuable (and contributed more to pennants) than Brouthers' best years did.
   73. jimd Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:23 AM (#509933)
Separate issue, someone above made mention about Dan Brouthers having a black ink edge over Connor. Black ink does not take ballpark into account.

True, in general, though I don't think it applies that much here. Their OPS+ indicates that for most of the 80's, Brouthers was the best hitter in the league, and that Connor was #2. And WS says that in some years, Connor was able to more than make up the small difference through his defense.

I haven't run any numbers, but the difference in their Rates may derive from their decline phases. Brouthers disappeared quickly; in '94 he was 1B for the champion Baltimore Orioles, the WS "All-Star" at 1B. In '95, he's playing 22% of a season for last place Louisville, and in '96 43% for the 8th place Phillies, and then he's gone. Injury?

Connor has a more typical decline. (Note that he's 10 months older than Brouthers.) In 93, he and Brouthers are tied at 16, 1 WS behind Jake Beckley for WS "All-Star" 1B. In 94 he's slipped to 4th, 14WS, and shipped off to St. Louis, Louisville's arch-rival for the cellar the next few years. In 95 he's slipped to 5th, 12 WS. 96 is an off-year for 1st basemen; Connor has 14, and is 2nd to Dirty Jack Doyle, a converted catcher who had been his replacement at 1B in New York, and was now with Baltimore. In 97, the soon-to-be 40-year-old hits .229 for 22 games (17% season), and it's over. (WS numbers are unadjusted and I might have missed an "All-Star" if he got himself traded mid-season.) The difference is about 2-2.5 extra seasons of sub-par performance by Connor who was willing to play if someone was willing to pay. I imagine the St. Louis fans didn't have too much else to cheer about during these years with a .300 team. Rate*Career may penalize Connor because he takes the money and doesn't have the good sense to retire when the stat is maximized.

As noted in the BJNHBA, Connor became a successful minor-league team owner after his playing days were over. Brouthers became a night watchman at the Polo Grounds, a job acquired for him by his old teammate in '94, John McGraw.

Personally, I don't see much to separate them, except maybe the extra boost that depreciating the pitching gives to the defensive ratings. Connor played on two championship teams in his prime in New York, and is probably the team MVP in 1888 (3rd behind Tiernan or Ewing in 1889; I'm assuming depreciated pitching here). Brouthers played on four; he's a key part of Detroit's 1887 team (though Thompson is the team MVP); he's just another good player on Boston's Player's League Champion (Radbourn or Nash is the team MVP); again a key part in the Boston Reds of the AA in 1891 (CF Tom Brown is the team MVP); just another good player on the Orioles in 1894 (LF Joe Kelley gets the MVP).

   74. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 11, 2002 at 06:41 AM (#509935)
I have Brouthers as the best left fielder in the majors for 1881, while having him as the best first baseman in the majors for 1882, 1887, 1889, 1891, 1892, 1893, and 1894. I also have Big Dan as the best first baseman in his league for 1883 and 1884.

I have Connors as the best third baseman in the majors for 1880 and as the best second baseman in the NL for 1884. I have him as the best first baseman in the majors for 1885, 1886 and 1888, while being the best first baseman in the NL for 1890 and 1891.

I have to still go with Brouthers as the better player. While he didn't play as many games, he unquestionably was doing more per game than any other first baseman of that era.
   75. jimd Posted: October 11, 2002 at 06:05 PM (#509937)
I have Brouthers as the best left fielder in the majors for 1881

The best hitter in the majors, yes. Best left fielder? With a .797 fielding pct (error almost every other game), and a range factor 10% below average, I think not. It looks like Buffalo was trying to find a position for his bat, and they decided mid-season to put him at first. Does anyone know if this coincides with the facts?
   76. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 11, 2002 at 07:57 PM (#509938)
jimd:
You have a point. I forgot Big Dan split up time between first and left. I'd would put Tom York as the best leftfielder for that year, though Brouthers was slightly the better player (his bat helped out a lot). I also agree about Brouther's defense.
   77. Marc Posted: November 08, 2002 at 06:22 AM (#509940)
>not to go below zero in any season

This is key. Until they start taking back pennants and World Championships from teams that fail to play .500 in some future year, there should be no negative values.
   78. MattB Posted: November 08, 2002 at 06:48 PM (#509941)
Tom,

I think it was Rob who, a few months ago, made the point that when determining career value, the appropriate comparison is against an "average player" rather than a "replacement player", since one would expect that, absent Star Player X, the team would, on average, play Average Player X for that decade. Replacement player is the appropriate standard for any measurement of a season or less, but once you get past a season time period, "average" is the way to go. I agree with that viewpoint.
   79. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: November 10, 2002 at 01:19 AM (#509942)
Replacement player is the appropriate standard for any measurement of a season or less, but once you get past a season time period, "average" is the way to go. I agree with that viewpoint.

I don't. I think the guy who plays ten years and is one-half of a win share below average per year is a much BETTER player than the guy who played two games in his career. He is not worse. In fact, I think they guy who plays quite badly (say four win shares below average per year) for five years is much much better than the guy who is average for one season, not vice versa.

It's two different ways of looking at what constitutes value. I'm not a GM, this is not (for me) a general manager's exercise, trying to put together a successful team. This is about who was a great player, and I think a guy playing average, even below average, for five years (say, at the tail end of his career) adds a substantial amount to his legacy, not vice versa.
   80. Rob Wood Posted: November 10, 2002 at 09:10 PM (#509943)
I have come to the view that the right way to think about this issue is to admit that the replacement level actually increases over time. The "next day" replacment level is quite low (say a .300 win pct), the "next year" replacement level is still rather low (say a .375 win pct), but eventually over a long enough time period (say 5 years) the replacement level approaches the league average level (.500).

So a player who hangs on for one more year and plays at a .400 level did indeed help his team and added to his legacy. But a player who hangs on for five years and plays at a .400 level over those five seasons probably did not help his team, and therefore should not add to his legacy (in terms of value).
   81. MattB Posted: November 11, 2002 at 04:08 PM (#509944)
"In fact, I think they guy who plays quite badly (say four win shares below average per year) for five years is much much better than the guy who is average for one season, not vice versa."

I guess we'll have to disagree on this one.

It is, of course, a perfectly valid way to look at a player to look at absolute contributions rather than comparing him to a baseline. The player who goes 1 for 50 in 50 major league plate appearances has contributed more, in some sense, than the player who doesn't play in the majors at all (by one hit).

On the other hand, if you want to compare a player to what the team could expect to get without him, one needs to look at replacement levels. In that case, over a sufficiently long career, the replacement level approaches the average performance at that position, since that is what the team could be expected to get if the player in question never existed.

I am not sure from Craig B's comment whether he is saying that he is looking at absolute values (not against replacement level), or whether he is comparing to the "one day replacement level" normally used to value a player over the course of a single season.

If it is the former, I cannot criticize, other than to say that I prefer a replacement level metric as more useful. If it is the latter, than I can criticize for the reason given by Rob above. If you compare a player to a baseline, it should be a reasonable baseline.

Without crunching the numbers, it is clear to me that the Orioles were better served by five years of above average Bobby Grich at second base than they were by ten years of about average Rich Dauer.

If Dauer never existed, the Orioles would have muddled through with a variety of second basemen who would have, on average, given average performances and the decade-end results for the team would have been about the same. If Grich never existed, one would expect the Orioles of the preceding five years to have been considerably worse.

A Billy Ripken, on the other hand, makes the Orioles a worse team than if he never existed. Six years of Ripken turning in below average numbers hurts the team more than two or three other guys taking turns putting up (on average) about-average numbers.

Give me one or two years of Grich over ten by Dauer, and one or two by Dauer over ten by Billy. The team will be better as a result.
   82. jimd Posted: November 11, 2002 at 09:04 PM (#509945)
I've often heard the term "replacement level" bandied about (and have a rough idea what is meant by it). Can anyone point me to articles which have been written about more accurately defining it, or, more importantly, measuring it?
   83. MattB Posted: November 11, 2002 at 09:37 PM (#509948)
jimd,

The best in depth analysis I've seen of "replacement level" is in the BP 2002 Book. Find a copy of that if you can.

Replacent level is generally not "measured" as much as "pegged", which means you give a pretty good guess and don't ask questions.

Baseball Prospectus' cards put a replacement level pitcher as one with a 6.11 ERA, a hitter as a player with an equivalent average of about .230 (you can adjust for position or not. Right fielders have higher replacement levels than second basemen). Fielding replacement is even more nebulous, because no one can really measure defense in absolute terms anyway.

BP then goes and messes up the whole thing by defining a "replacement player" as a player who is replacement level at hitting, fielding, and pitching, which is ridiculous since no one who has no above replacement skills would ever actually be a replacement player.

If you want to do it practically, remove the 750 players with the most major league playing time in 2002 (25 players for 30 teams). Then figure out the average stats of everyone else. That should be your composite "replacement player".

The term is generally used interchangeably with its identical-in-theory-but-not-in-practice cousin "freely available talent", which includes career minor leaguer and journeymen whom you can pay the league minimum.
   84. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: November 11, 2002 at 10:35 PM (#509949)
no one who has no above replacement skills would ever actually be a replacement player.

Shawon Dunston has no skills even *at* (much less above) replacement level.
   85. MattB Posted: November 11, 2002 at 11:06 PM (#509950)
I stand corrected.

Jose Lima, too.
   86. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: November 11, 2002 at 11:53 PM (#509951)
Yeah, I forgot LimaTime. Thank god those two didn't end up facing each other this year, or the combined weight of horribleness might have opened up a singularity and swallowed the Earth whole.

Actually, by the numbers, Dunston was easily above the zero level defensively in right field the last couple of seasons... so I may have to take back what I said!
   87. jimd Posted: November 12, 2002 at 12:39 AM (#509952)
Thanks, I'll go find me a 2002 Baseball Prospectus.

The actual definition of it has always perplexed me. I didn't know whether the bench guys were the replacement level players, or the guys called up from the minors, or who.

When we get before Branch Rickey, it makes a difference because clubs don't have a farm system, but have to dicker with independent minor league teams. Quality bench-level talent is not freely available at a moment's notice to the MLB clubs, but is already playing full-time under contract in the high minors.

When we're in the 1870's/1880's, clubs don't even have a bench (the no-substitution rule renders it superfluous for individual games). They take one general-purpose utility guy on the road with them, and if they're hit with an injury rash (two), they literally may have to hire somebody local to fill in for a game or two before somebody known to them can catch a train from home and join them. (This is the 1870's; in the 80's they're also carrying a couple of backup pitchers, one of whom can usually play a little right field, if necessary.)

Clubs value the ability to play multiple positions because this gives them more flexibility when dealing with short-term injuries. Once substitutions are allowed in 1889, teams start enlarging the bench, because in-game substitution as strategy becomes possible. Specialization becomes the norm, and position shifting on the scale of Kelly and O'Rourke seems to become a thing of the past. (Just a theory; there may be other reasons for this.)
   88. Carl Goetz Posted: November 19, 2002 at 07:20 PM (#509953)
My list:
Roger Connor
Dan Brouthers
Cap Anson
Harry Stovey
Joe Start
Dave Orr
John Reilly
Henry Larkin<B
   89. dan b Posted: March 09, 2003 at 06:51 PM (#509954)
Just thought I would pull up a thread from the days when we had some good, spirited discussion going on. On the assumption that this project is not dead in the water, has anyone given thought to what his 1907 ballot will look like? Last summer and fall we looked in detail at players eligible for the 1906 election with adjusted win shares and other sundry exercises in number crunching. Without the benefit of the adjusted numbers, where will you slot Billy Hamilton when his turn comes up in ?07? Using the maligned James rankings as a starting point for discussion (although with the players I am bringing up, his time line adjustment is not a factor, as these players are contemporaries of the players eligible for our 1906 ballot) Hamilton is the first player we can vote on ranked in the top 10 at his position ? If the first election enshrines Anson, Brouthers, Connor, Ewing and a pitcher, would it be reasonable to rank Hamilton at the top of your ?07 ballot? How about Cupid Childs in 1908 or Ed Delahanty in 1909? . Childs is James? highest-ranking second basemen before we get to Lajoie in 1922. Delahanty is the first player we will be voting on listed by James in the top 100 players of all time. To put the question another way, if our first election were in 1909 instead of 1906, would Delahanty be at the top of your list?
   90. dan b Posted: March 09, 2003 at 11:36 PM (#509956)
Let me correct myself. Childs is eligible in 1907. The player that James' rankings would shoot to the top of our ballots in 1908 is Jennings. Nichols pitched in 24 games in 1905 and waits until 1911. With 12 players selected through 1909, I see 4 going in that are not on the '06 ballot.
   91. Rob Wood Posted: March 10, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#509957)
If my voting ruled the day, I would vote in the ABC gang (Anson, Brouthers, and Connor) along with Kelly in 1906, then O'Rourke, Clarkson, and Hamilton in 1907, then White and Hines in 1908, and then Delahanty and Childs in 1909. By the way, in response to one of the questions, Delahanty would not be ahead of the ABC gang on my ballot if the 1909 ballot were our first ballot.
   92. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2003 at 01:15 AM (#509958)
Right now Hamilton would make my top 7, not sure where without doing a bit more research.

I have Hamilton slightly inferior to Paul Hines in total value for all centerfielders up to 1901. The amazing thing is Sliding Bill accomplished this in six less seasons (BTW, this is by no means a knock on Hines).
   93. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 10, 2003 at 07:15 AM (#509959)
Harry Stovey is now on the leftfielder thread.
   94. Paul Wendt Posted: March 31, 2004 at 06:59 PM (#509960)
Marc #41, in 1923 Ballot
   95. Marc Posted: March 31, 2004 at 07:33 PM (#509961)
Paul, having done a fairly superficial post re. catchers (i.e. I did a fairly superficial post on catchers, not you, yours would not be superficial), I was going to be turning my attention to 1B next. I probably overstated Sisler's "debunking" on the 1923 thread, though I think the larger point is that I need to get a handle on 1Bs between ABC and Gehrig. I would guess that Sisler is still #1 in that category but I just didn't want to assume as much. (If Terry is indeed younger than Gehrig, and I'm sure you're correct, then perhaps he could challenge Sisler, but I'm not ready to worry about the guys who are younger than Sisler yet. Or IOW I'm looking at guys who become eligible in the 1930s.)

But generally what I said was the I am wondering if I underrated Beckley, considering that no 1Bs between ABC and (OK, I should have said) Sisler have jumped up. And I wondered if the arguments for Joe Start might not apply to the deadball 1Bs as well. But this presupposes that Beckley is the best candidate before Sisler.

Your post provides a good list of who ought to be considered and/or reconsidered. A couple comments:

I always liked Harry Davis and had him rated ahead of Beckley, but looked at him pretty closely when he became eligible here and found him seriously wanting. I had been much too easily dazzled by his black ink. I think James has him about right relative to his contemporaries. 'Course I understand that Connie rather liked him. On the other hand, he doesn't appear to have pushed him for HoF too much as, frankly, a good case could have been made for him rather than Bender and it does not appear that Connie made that case.

I also think that James has Daubert about right. I've already looked at him too, and no way. And G. Kelly becomes eligible in 1938 I think, but he is not in my consideration set. Terry and Bottomley are after 1940.

So that leaves Beckley, Chance, Fournier, Konetchy, Sisler. If you flip-flop Beckley and Sisler, I'm not sure James didn't just rank the rest of them alphabetically. And I'm not sure (yet) that Fournier really belongs in my consideration set either but I'm not sure that he doesn't, whereas I am sure that Davis and Daubert are not HoMers.

Right now I'm thinking 1) Sisler, 2) Beckley, 3) Chance, 4) Konetchy, 5) Fournier, and that one 1B in addition to (prior to) Sisler deserves some serious consideration, but is this the right order, and which one?

The other open question is whether we missed a 19th century 1B? Of course, we've elected four so there is no "position problem," but of course we are not electing positions, we are electing players, so did we miss a "player"? The best I can find is Dave Orr, whom I like better than Henry Larkin who you mentioned. So I might throw Orr into my re-consider pot.

That's where I'm at today at 1B.
   96. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2004 at 09:24 PM (#509962)
Right now I'm thinking 1) Sisler, 2) Beckley, 3) Chance, 4) Konetchy, 5) Fournier

My list (subject to change) is 1) Frank Chance, 2) Jake Beckley, 3) Ed Konetchy, 4) George Sisler, 5) Jake Daubert, 6) Fred Tenney, 7) Jack Fournier, 8) Harry Davis, 9) Hal Chase, and 10) Stuffy McInnis.

Sisler was on track to be a no-brainer HoMer, but his sinus infection really derailed his career. He really wasn't much after 1923. For peak guys, though, there's much to love.

(If Terry is indeed younger than Gehrig, and I'm sure you're correct

Terry was born in '98, while Gehrig was born in 1903.
   97. Jim Sp Posted: March 31, 2004 at 09:38 PM (#509963)
FWIW...1B born before Gehrig (1903), ranked by (OPS+ minus 93) times (AB+BB), divided by 1000.

Dan Brouthers 581
   98. Marc Posted: March 31, 2004 at 09:44 PM (#509964)
Well, maybe this really is just a weak pool and I'm not underrating anybody!?
   99. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2004 at 10:00 PM (#509965)
Well, maybe this really is just a weak pool and I'm not underrating anybody!?

Even with consideration for the increased responsibilities first basemen had during the Deadball Era, I just don't see any of as top-five choices on my ballot. Chance and Sisler would have, but injuries or illness curtailed their careers.

Regarding Terry, I don't see him ever making my ballot. Too short of a career and not enough peak for me. Comparing him to his peers illustrates how far away he was from the Gehrigs, Foxxs and Greenbergs.
   100. Jim Sp Posted: March 31, 2004 at 10:10 PM (#509966)
I have Beckley rated higher than anyone, and I put him just barely above the in/out line. None of these guys are very compelling.

Born 1903-1911 we have Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, and Greenberg who I think all are clearly above the line.
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