Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Gavvy Cravath

“Cactus Gavvy” gets his own page. Go to town, Phillybooster!

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2004 at 02:36 AM | 291 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 3 of 3 pages  < 1 2 3
   201. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 21, 2006 at 03:53 PM (#2030352)
I had Brown and Cravath very close in 1976, about 2 spots apart in the mid 20's. However, I wonder if Brown's higher rating is due more to the fact that there is much less that we know about him. For instance Andrew says that WARP rating of Cravath is something that hurts him. We have no WARP rating of Willard Brown, in fact we have no official WS rating of him. Could the same have been true? The more information you have the more a player's warts are revealed.

All of which is to say that while Willard Brown was hurt by those that do not like uncertainty, Cravath may be hurt by those that dislike uncertainty AND those that see his warts. Cravath is caught in the middle.
   202. sunnyday2 Posted: May 21, 2006 at 05:56 PM (#2030443)
Except with Cravath there is the certainty that at least three ML teams passed on him and his ML career ended up (in reality) being worth about 180 WS. Cravath is hurt most of among those voters who see that as the certainty.
   203. ronw Posted: May 21, 2006 at 06:38 PM (#2030539)
Because of the "one draftee per minor league team" rule, shouldn't we be looking at EVERYONE who played in the high minors during this time? Is Cravath really the best of this lot?

Where can we get a comprehensive listing of aught's PCL (and other high minors) stats?
   204. Brent Posted: May 22, 2006 at 12:54 AM (#2031221)
Because of the "one draftee per minor league team" rule, shouldn't we be looking at EVERYONE who played in the high minors during this time? Is Cravath really the best of this lot?

Where can we get a comprehensive listing of aught's PCL (and other high minors) stats?


Cravath was almost surely the best player in the American Association, and probably in all of minor league baseball, in 1910-11; both seasons he led the league in almost all offensive categories.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a consolidated on-line database like bbref that covered all minor league statistics!

Comprehensive data are available in books for each of the high minor leagues, but they generally don't include things we've come to expect from major league statistics such as "relative" statistics like ERA+ or OPS+, or adjustments for park factors. Another problem is putting the annual data together to form career statistics, which is difficult because players seldom spent their full career in the same league.

A great little book that addresses this problem is Minor League Baseball Stars, edited by L. Robert Davids and published by SABR. It provides complete career statistics for many or most of the best career minor leaguers. I have a copy and have spent time thumbing through it looking for possible HoM candidates. I think that we've already identified most of the best career minor leaguers, though not all of them have gotten the full MLE treatment. My opinion is that Arlett was the best of the career minor leaguers.

However, Minor League Baseball Stars often doesn't cover the guys like Cravath who spent half or more of their career in the majors, but also spent several years in the high minors. I think we've been doing a pretty good job of identifying these guys as they've come along, but there are a couple of guys, like Lefty O'Doul, that we probably ought to revisit.

Regardless, I don't think that the lack of MLE data for other players in the high minors should deter us from voting for Cravath. The same type of data gaps exist, and are actually worse, for the Negro leagues. We simply should do the best we can at identifying the best players, while recognizing that our efforts will inevitably fall short of what we might have done with more perfect information.
   205. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 22, 2006 at 02:08 AM (#2031505)
Sunny,

I think you just proved what I was saying. We have enough data to see Cravath's warts, enough taht we can't dream of him becoming the next Willie Mays but we dont' have enough MLB data to elect him to the HOM on its own.

And Mike Piazza was taken in the 62rd round of the draft, does that mean that there were 1800 players that teams thought would make better MLB baseball players so we shouldn't elect him?

Teams are wrong about players frequently, other players are wrong about players frequently. I would take anything said by contemporaries with a grain of salt, which we usually do.
   206. sunnyday2 Posted: May 22, 2006 at 04:01 AM (#2031773)
>Wouldn't it be nice to have a consolidated on-line database like bbref that covered all minor league statistics!

I wish I had Bobby Estalella's complete record and MLEs.
   207. sunnyday2 Posted: May 22, 2006 at 11:19 AM (#2031856)
Teams being wrong about a guy in the draft is one thing. I will have relatively little difficulty finding a spot for that 62nd round draft pick on my ballot when the time comes.

But 3 ML teams passing on a 28-29 year old is a completely different thing.

>We have enough data to see Cravath's warts...but we dont' have enough MLB data to elect him to the HOM on its own.

I'm just saying that that is the wart. The lack of a fuller ML career is the wart.
   208. rawagman Posted: May 22, 2006 at 11:32 AM (#2031858)
Cindy Crawford - beauty spot, or mole?
   209. DanG Posted: May 22, 2006 at 01:19 PM (#2031880)
A great little book that addresses this problem is Minor League Baseball Stars, edited by L. Robert Davids and published by SABR.

Yes, a great book. And it was followed by two sequels. IIRC, Bobby Estalella's full record is listed, I'll have to check at home later.

Also listed is Perry Werden, whose record deserves another look, IMO.
   210. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 22, 2006 at 01:52 PM (#2031888)
Some of the guys most hurt by the "trapped in the minors before the farm system" syndrome (in no order):

Guys Who May Have Been Really Hurt:
Gavy Cravath
Ken Williams
Perry Werden
Jaques Fournier
Buzz Arlett
Johnny Bassler (I think)

Guys Who Maybe Were Hurt Somewhat:
Bobby Estalella, the oneth
Jake Bentley
Max Bishop
Bob Johnson

Others???
   211. sunnyday2 Posted: May 22, 2006 at 02:00 PM (#2031892)
Others: Rube Waddell

Estalella of course is unique in that the reason he was stuck in the minors is because he was a medium (light/dark) skinned Hispanic. He got passed off as not black in getting a trial, but his skin was dark enough that if he proved not quite to be the second coming of Al Simmons or Goose Goslin, then he would get shipped out again. And of course, he was not quite Al Simmons or Goose Goslin. I have him comped to Bob Johnson and Minnie Minoso--medium length career at a high but not "great" level. If he had either played another 2-3 years or if maybe his peak years had been spent in the MLs (instead of a trial as a younger man and an actual "career" as a 30-something) and of course if his peak years had indeed been more along the lines of a Simmons or a Goslin rather than a Johnson or a Minoso...if either one of those things had happened he would be on my ballot.

As it is, he suffers in the same way that some of the integration era players suffer--i.e. they got to play in the majors, just not for as long as they might have in a fully integrated era. So there is an appearance that we know what their record is (similar to Cravath) when we don't, in fact.
   212. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 22, 2006 at 02:01 PM (#2031896)
"I'm just saying that that is the wart. The lack of a fuller ML career is the wart."

I don't want to get into an argument about this because it is mostly just semantics, but this is kinda my point. The warts that I have heard in the last 20 posts are that he doesn't have a full MLB career and WARP doesn't rate his fielding at all. Now take Willard Brown, Brown has next to no MLB career, small enough that his supporters were saying that we should just forget about it, which is probably wise. We also have so little data on Brown that we have no idea how any defensive rating system would have liked him, whether that be WS, WARP, FR, etc. Now there is Gavvy Cravath who in half of an MLB career was a really great player hitter, WS doesn't mind his fielding, WARP does. This is only possible because of his half MLB career, so he is in some way hurt by the fac that he played MLB baseball at all, whereas a lot of NeL guys didn't and so are sometimes given the benefit of the doubt in some spots. I have no problem with this and have most of our NeL inductees in my PHOM as well as some guys that haven't been elected yet.

I am not saying that Cravath was better than Brown, I really don't know if he was. But they are similar and I am getting the feeling that Cravath is caught in a unique situation where we can hold his lack of an MLB career against him as well as dock points for uncertainty, whereas MeL players only had to deal with the latter.
   213. yest Posted: May 22, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2031994)
Guys Who May Have Been Really Hurt:
"Ken Williams"

do you have any details on him
   214. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 22, 2006 at 04:51 PM (#2032030)
Not many, but he made his debut at age 25. He didn't play well (86 OPS+). Then he gets 30 PAs from 1916-1918 (or maybe part way through 1919). Then in 1919 he explodes for a 133 OPS+ outta nowhere at age 29.

I think we discussed him on the appropriate thread, but my recollection was that he'd played very well in the minors. I don't remember what anyone said about him pre-1915.
   215. Paul Wendt Posted: May 22, 2006 at 08:11 PM (#2032192)
I don't believe that Cravath was a plodder in 1908 (and I don't know it for 1912).
See #114 and #174, which include clear evidence and hints about his value or talent perceived in 1908. If you scroll from 114 to 174, you will also see Gadfly's magnum opus.

JoeD, How can you boost Cravath's case here?
Recruit Phillybooster and Gadfly.
   216. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 22, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2032213)
Whatever happened to Phillybooster? I don't think he's been on the boards much lately.
   217. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 22, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2032232)
Whatever happened to Phillybooster? I don't think he's been on the boards much lately.

I have seen his screen name pop up at Primer, so he's still around. Don't know if he just didn't have the time anymore or he's annoyed with something/someone here.
   218. jimd Posted: May 22, 2006 at 10:27 PM (#2032288)
I can understand how Boston might have passed on him.

Boston gave Cravath most of 1908 to play, and he posted a 136 OPS+ in 327 PA. They then sold him to the White Sox in August. Why did they pass on him? They had the rights to two or three 20 year-old kids they were high on by the names of Speaker, Hooper, and maybe Duffy Lewis, their outfield of the future. In 1908 they also had another RF by the name of Doc Gessler who was the same age as Gavy (27) and outhit him with a 162 OPS+. They had a talent stack in OF and Cravath apparently was odd-man out.

The White Sox acquisition was more puzzling. He didn't appear in a game for them in 1908, during the great pennant race. Either Gavy was for the future, or a "keep-away" from the other contenders. Cravath was given the CF job in 1909 after Fielder Jones retired. Gavy was no defensive wonder, and replacing an Ashburn/Carey type was not conducive to being a fan favorite. The Hitless Wonders also were the most aggressive SB team in the AL, not Cravath's strong point either. Also, they hit 7 HR's total for 1908-1909 combined, probably the most difficult park for HR's in the AL. He was a square peg in a round hole.

Washington? Almost as bad as Chicago from a batting/HR park point of view. And an incompetent organization. 0 for 6 with a walk, and back to the minors. That was Cravath's AL experience in 1908-09.
   219. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 22, 2006 at 11:05 PM (#2032325)
Wouldn't Bob Johnson be hurt by not coming to the majors until 1933?

Werden appears to have had the misfortune of not playing in the majors in 1894.
   220. Brent Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:14 AM (#2032763)
But 3 ML teams passing on a 28-29 year old is a completely different thing.

Did the Washington owners pass on Cravath? Or were they victims of a con job by their manager? You decide. Quoting from Gadfly (# 150) (information also appears in SABR's Deadball Stars of the National League):

Joe Cantillon, the manager of Washington, also owned the Minneapolis Millers, an American Association team and farmed Cravath out to his own club. This was an interesting transaction since Cantillon, who would not be rehired by Washington for the 1910 season, ended up owning Cravath.
   221. jimd Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:30 AM (#2032787)
and farmed Cravath out to his own club

Did I mention that Washington was an incompetent organization?
   222. Chris Cobb Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:42 AM (#2032808)
Joe Cantillon, the manager of Washington, also owned the Minneapolis Millers, an American Association team and farmed Cravath out to his own club. This was an interesting transaction since Cantillon, who would not be rehired by Washington for the 1910 season, ended up owning Cravath.

Wow! This tidbit is worth repeating. . .

It certainly shows why talent might not always flow in one direction in the professional baseball of this era.
   223. Brent Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:43 AM (#2032809)
Some of the guys most hurt by the "trapped in the minors before the farm system" syndrome...
Others???


You should be able to find minor league MLEs posted on the appropriate threads for the following players: Buzz Arlett, Earl Averill, Wally Berger, Joe DiMaggio, Jack Fournier, Lefty Grove, Bob Johnson, Ernie Lombardi, and Jack Quinn. I'm pretty sure we posted Ken Williams minor league stats, but I'm not sure MLEs were ever calculated. A few that we missed and would be worth doing are Johnny Bassler, Ike Boone, Lefty O'Doul, and Frank Shellenback. Smead Jolley, Joe Hauser, and Ox Eckhardt are often mentioned, but for various reasons I doubt their records would translate to the HoM level. I've looked at the 1920s Baltimore Orioles--Bentley, Bishop, and Ogden--and I don't think any of them will translate to the HoM level. There are a few other marginal candidates who are probably due a year of minor league credit--Dom DiMaggio, in particular, comes to mind.
   224. sunnyday2 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#2032870)
Bobby Estalella!
   225. Brent Posted: May 23, 2006 at 03:52 AM (#2032908)
Bobby Estalella!

For Dr. Chaleeko's MLEs, see the Bobby Estalella thread, # 9. My understanding is that they are based on data that have a few gaps.
   226. sunnyday2 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 10:27 AM (#2033056)
Brent, thanks. I had completely forgotten that we had had that much discussion and analysis of Estalella. Thanks, too, for providing his Cuban record back almost a year ago!

Anyway, Doc's MLEs for Estalella put him at 344 WS. Seeing as how I'm a bit skeptical of Cravath's 318 WS MLE, I would have to be skeptical about Estalella at 344. OTOH, the info about Cantillon's role, as well as re-thinking a guy like Estalella, both cause me to re-think Cravath. He is #39 on my 1977 prelim and I may leave him there for now. Not enough hours in the day. But I will give him some more thought.

As for Estalella, those 344 WS make him out to be Alejandro Oms, another pretty good comp along with Minoso and Indian Bob Johnson. I hope Cravath fans give another look-see at the Estalella thread.
   227. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 23, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2033125)
The MLEs suggest 344 WS, but they also suggest a three-year peak of under 80 WS. The gaps that Brent mentioned above are pretty tricky. They are namely:
-extreme park effects in cuba that kill his slugging there and are only somewhat addressed by the MLEs
-fairly extreme park effects in the AL in 1939 that are not systematically addressed by the MLEs
-some general information gaps.

I think Bob Johnson is probably not a bad guy to have in one's head when thinking about Estallela, though Bobby Sr. was probably not as "impactful" as Indian Bob.
   228. sunnyday2 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:07 PM (#2033140)
IOW the oddities (super duper extreme parks) in Estalella's record work against him, not for.
   229. Chris Cobb Posted: May 23, 2006 at 02:59 PM (#2033188)
Since Estalella and extreme park effects have come up here, I toss out the idea that it would be appropriate, in extreme low-slugging environments, to apply the lower slugging translation only to isolated slugging, and not to slugging as a whole. Because in very low slugging environments, most of slugging is batting average, it reasonable to infer that slugging would vary more like batting average. It's an idea that I've been experimenting with as I've been working on 1910s MLEs for Ben Taylor.

i.e. separate slg into batting average + isolated power. Adjust the BA portion by the BA translation factor; adjust the ISA portion by the SLG translation factor. Add.

If this is a more exact translation method, it might be applied more generally to MLE translations. It would not affect high-slugging candidates much, since so much of their slugging is power, but it would raise the translated slugging of hitters for average.
   230. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:00 PM (#2033353)
Intersting idea. What consitutes a low slugging environment then? Anywhere you draw the line it would end up helping one guy over another, no?
   231. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#2033355)
Actually it might be best to do that for everyone, only we may have to figure out an ISO conversion instead of a staright SLG one, otherwise SLG would be high for everyone.
   232. Tiboreau Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:40 PM (#2033382)
Some of the guys most hurt by the "trapped in the minors before the farm system" syndrome...
Others???


Brent mentions Frank Shellenback, who was the first such player to come to my mind (he also mentions Ike Boone and Lefty O'Doul, who have their own threads). Two others who may merit a bit of looking into are Tony Freitas (over three hundred wins in the minors, considered the best LHP in minor league history) and Arnold "Jigger" Statz (over 4000 hits combined in the majors and minors). I don't know if they're serious HoM candidates, but they're two more players who it'd be interesting to look into from baseball's unrecognized history. (Of course, considering I don't have the means to do so, it's easier said than done. . . . )
   233. Tiboreau Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2033384)
And I forget to post the links to Ike Boone's and Lefty O'Doul's threads (and I now notice that Lefty's is broken). . . .
   234. Tiboreau Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:52 PM (#2033388)
and I now notice that Lefty's is broken

And searching through the archives, I found it!
   235. sunnyday2 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2033420)
>Actually it might be best to do that for everyone, only we may have to figure out an ISO conversion instead of a staright SLG one, otherwise SLG would be high for everyone.

The question is how many can one do and where, then, would one start. Extreme (bizarre) park effects would be a logical place. I mean, how much is it going to matter to most players?
   236. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#2033481)
And searching through the archives, I found it!

Good man, Tiboreau! Always use the Archives if a link doesn't work. With all of the work behind the scenes that Jim and Dan do, they tend to make the links inactive. Without the Archive function, I would be constantly resetting them.
   237. sunnyday2 Posted: September 03, 2006 at 03:53 PM (#2166321)
I am looking at Cravath anew and if you give him the career posited here (continuously in ML from 1906 through 1920) I find a striking sim to Frank Howard. Cravath leads on WS 318-297 but 30 of Gavvy's are in seasons of <100 games and 14 of Frank's. So in more or less "complete" seasons as a "regular" player, Cravath's lead shrinks to 288-283.

On OPS+ it's 147-143 Cravath but if you line the seasons up from best to worst (each has 12 years of >100 OPS+ and >100 games) Howard has the best 2 and his 3rd is equal to Cravath's best;

Howard 180-73-72
Cravath 172-71-66

Cravath takes over after that and leads for 7 of the 12 years, but of course played in a notoriously weak league. Well, so did Frank.

So overall Cravath's record seems very slightly better, but then it is speculative while Frank is limited to what he really did. If the Dodgers had sent him down or kept him in the minors in '60-'61, he probably would earn more WS via the MLE route than he did for real. So they sure seem pretty darn equivalent to me, and that, again, is taking the absolutely best case that has been made for Cravath (well, not the best case, as that has him in Babe Ruth territory. Brent's MLEs are, to me, the "best credible" case.)

Howard has been on my ballot and is now just off. Cravath, meanwhile, was as high as about #20 once upon a time but recently dropped into the 40s. I have to decide if I accept the best case for Cravath or not, and so is he in the 40s or the high teens (and someday on ballot)?
   238. DL from MN Posted: September 05, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#2168041)
My next ballot:

20 Gavy Cravath
21 Frank Howard

Same hot bat, same bad defense.
   239. DL from MN Posted: November 16, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#2239486)
"Nicollet [Park] is best remembered for its short right-field fence, only 279 feet, 10
inches from home plate."

http://stewthornley.net/nicollet_park.html

This is the same park where Buzz Arlett had his career year. Willie Mays hit .477 with eight home runs, 30 RBIs and 38 runs scored in 35 games. Ted Williams hit .366 with 43 home runs and 142 RBIs at age 19.

Other HoM Millers: Carl Yastrzemski, Hoyt Wilhelm, Zack Wheat, Rube Waddell, Monte Irvin, Billy Herman, Red Faber and Jimmy Collins.

Roger Bresnahan, Orlando Cepeda and Dave Bancroft also spent time in Minneapolis.

There are good photos of the park here: http://prescott.imbri.com/baseball/ballparks/gone/mpls_5nicollet.shtml

The fence was not as tall for Cravath as it was in the 1954 photo. Lots of foul territory, they probably could have backed home plate up some.
   240. PhillyBooster Posted: November 16, 2006 at 05:49 PM (#2239515)

I have seen his screen name pop up at Primer, so he's still around. Don't know if he just didn't have the time anymore or he's annoyed with something/someone here.


Not annoyed with anything. Just started slotting new players into my ballot one day, and realized that I thought the new guy was better than my #8 guy, but worse than my #10 guy, and maybe directly comparable to three or four guys that I didn't have on my ballot. I couldn't justify (to myself) my rankings, and felt that my "contribution" was not worth making to the group, if I couldn't even justify it too myself. There were simply too many intangibles and incommensurables to create a logical ranking system.

I still think everyone has missed the boat by not electing Beckley, Cravath, and Luque, and they'd all be in my Top 10 were I still voting, but I certainly took no offense at other people's contrary opinions. I simply can't put a dozen other guys in any semblance of order that I could stand behind any more, so I stepped aside for people who felt that they still could.
   241. sunnyday2 Posted: November 16, 2006 at 07:59 PM (#2239676)
Well, I think it would be great to have a ballot with Cravath and Luque on it. And...I am constantly coming up with contradictions throughout my ballot, a #40 who is comparable to a #10. I just figure the fault is in the stars, not in me.
   242. DL from MN Posted: November 16, 2006 at 10:50 PM (#2239797)
"The most notable and talked-about feature of Baker Bowl was the right field wall, which was only some 280 feet (85 meters) from home plate, with right-center only 300 feet (91.5 meters) away, and with a wall-and-screen barrier that in its final form was 60 feet (18 meters) high." - wiki

So Gavy must have had a pretty good opposite field stroke (he was right handed) to take advantage of both of these odd parks. I wonder what his "pull" power was.
   243. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: December 10, 2006 at 06:56 AM (#2256902)
Okay, if anyone's interested, I just re-ran my attempt to convert Cravath's MLE Win Shares into WARP with the most recent numbers (see post #170 for the gory details). Here's the final results I came up with:

Average-WS-WARP1-WARP3
1906-16.7-5.7-4.2
1907-21.3-7.1-5.4
1909-17.3-5.9-4.3
1910-30.9-10.1-7.9
1911-34.1-11.0-8.7

Leaving out 1906, this gives him a total WARP 1 of 94.8, and a WARP 3 of 77.1 (higher than Ralph Kiner, FWIW). It's a little higher, but not really a significant difference from the last time.
   244. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: March 29, 2007 at 09:11 PM (#2320456)
Brent, are your MLE's translated to the NL or the AL?
   245. Paul Wendt Posted: March 30, 2007 at 12:27 AM (#2320571)
Brent wrote last year:
Cravath’s minor league records for each season were translated to the major league average environment of that season. For the league quality adjustments, the American Association was treated as Triple-AAA quality, while the early PCL was assumed to be between Double-AA and Triple-AAA.

Does this refer to quality differences of the type ^EqA .265 in Triple-A corresponds to EqA .250 in MLB^ and ^OPS+ 100 in Triple-A corresponds to OPS+ 90 in MLB^, estimated by other sabrmetricians (EqA would be Clay Davenport). For which time periods and leagues have they estimated these differences? I think Brent means that he supposes a difference estimated for another league and time fits AA 1910. Right?

--
By the way, hear ye newcomers, there is a lot of good stuff in this thread.

001-026 2004 Nov-Dec
027-173 2005 Mar 29- May (stimulated by Matt Phillybooster's keltner-like dialogue, these six weeks include Dr. Chaleeko's foray into MLE and Gadfly's main work outside the Negro Leagues)
174-175 2005 Dec
176-236 2006 May (stimuated by Brent revisiting the MLE major league equivalency for Cravath's PCL and AA)
237-243 2006 Sep-Dec
   246. Brent Posted: March 30, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2320616)
My Cravath MLEs are translated to an environment that's the average of the National Lg and American Lg for the same year.

I used a methodology developed by Bill James in one of the old 1980s Abstracts. I described all the details of this methodology on the Buzz Arlett thread, especially posts 21-22, 49, 76, and 95. The James methodology adjusts each element of the batting line, but for a Triple-A league it's roughly equivalent to applying a 92% factor for batting average and about 88% for slugging percentage.
   247. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 30, 2007 at 05:35 PM (#2320926)
That's probably conservative too, Brent. I'd imagine the leagues Cravath played in were stronger relative to MLB than the AAA leagues of the early 80s, which James based his system on.
   248. Paul Wendt Posted: July 12, 2007 at 05:48 PM (#2438500)
from "2002 Ballot Discussion"
concerning a rhetorical question from someone else
>>
41. Sean Gilman Posted: July 10, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2436140)
> How did the AA end up as a major league for Browning while the PCL is considered a minor league for Cravath?

And vice versa.

42. Brent Posted: July 10, 2007 at 11:55 PM (#2437037)
> How did the AA end up as a major league for Browning while the PCL is considered a minor league for Cravath?

Browning and Cravath would have regarded as foreign the modern notion that playing for a "minor" league is somehow less valid or meaningful than playing for a major league.

65. Cblau Posted: July 11, 2007 at 10:29 PM (#2437902)
Why the AA was a Major League for Browning while the PCL wasn't for Cravath:
Because the AA champion played the NL champion in the World Series. Because the AA could draft players from minor leagues but other leagues couldn't draft players from the AA. Because the AA had teams in NY, Boston, and Philadelphia, the largest cities in the country. Those things aren't true of the PCL, or for that matter the second AA which Cravath also played in.

66. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: July 11, 2007 at 10:35 PM (#2437908)
Cblau, could the majors of the time draft PCL guys? I don't have any expertise in MiL stuff, but i thought for some reason that PCL players had to be purchased.

67. Brent Posted: July 12, 2007 at 12:57 AM (#2438060)
I believe the minor league draft was first established in 1892 (looking at an article on minor league history by Bob Hoie in an old Total Baseball.) However, there were a lot of restrictions during the early years--only one player per minor league team could be drafted, and players weren't eligible to be drafted during their first three years. My understanding is that if different major league teams wanted to draft, say, five different players from a single PCL team, they would draw lots to see which player would be selected. That meant minor league teams could sometimes hold onto major league quality players for quite a few years. Players more often advanced to the majors through sales and trades than through the draft, though the draft did give the minor league teams an incentive to sell their better players rather than risk losing them for a lower price through the draft.

After World War I, the highest minor leagues withdrew from the agreement for several years, refusing to be subject to the draft. Eventually, however, they all rejoined the system (the International League was the last holdout). The new (1921) agreement had a clause that allowed major league teams to buy minor league teams, which helped Rickey to establish the first farm systems.

68. Brent Posted: July 12, 2007 at 01:19 AM (#2438071)
Because the AA champion played the NL champion in the World Series. Because the AA could draft players from minor leagues but other leagues couldn't draft players from the AA. Because the AA had teams in NY, Boston, and Philadelphia, the largest cities in the country.

There are some caveats on each of these points. Based on Hoie's article, I don't believe the AA (or the NL) could yet draft minor league players (it's first mentioned in 1892), though the Tripartite Agreement did guarantee the NL and AA higher minimum salaries than the Northwestern League (the third party to the agreement). In its first year, the AA didn't yet have franchises in NY (established in 1883) or Boston (in 1891), and it never placed a franchise in Chicago. On the other hand, in 1882 the NL was also lacking NY and Phila franchises and was still playing in such grand metropolises as Troy and Worcester. After 1884, the NY AA franchise essentially became a farm team to the city's NL team. Also, during Cravath's time the PCL had one city, San Francisco, that was about as large as the smaller "major league" cities. (A decade later, Los Angeles would surpass it in population.) A post-season series between the champions of the two leagues was held in 1882, but it wasn't regarded as determining a national (or "world") championship until two years later.
<<

[At least I have some hope of finding this if it is all here. copied the exchange entirely although only part pertains to the early 20th century.]

Probably I have reported the results of 1900 and 1910 draft lotteries here at HOM, most likely here in Gavy Cravath.
I don't know whether such PCL clubs were covered by the one-player limitation and the lottery when Cravath played there, the earliest or earliest but one season in OB. Indeed, although those rules covered the AL in 1900/01 and the AA in 1910/11, I don't know that they covered the AA when Cravath was in the PCL.

Both AA and PCL won minor wars with OB prior to their joining in 1903 and 1904(dates?).
   249. Paul Wendt Posted: July 12, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2438501)
[1] I think it is the 1887 Spalding's that I have studied, no later. I know it is the 1884. I have not seen one or two years between '84 and '87.

The NL and AA revised the structure of organized professional baseball for 1887 (or '86 or '85[1]) to make all other member leagues minor. That is, they introduced separate written agreements, one with two parties and one written by themselves and governing their relations with any other league that would sign it. The latter does not name the minor leagues; in effect it says "whoever signs up". Both the two majors originally and the unknown number of minors one by one will abide by these major-minor and minor-minor relations regardless of how many and which minors sign up. (The short-lived Colored League did sign up for 1887, iirc.)

In 1883 and 1884, in contrast, the three and four leagues were formally equal (only a salary difference) parties to one agreement that must be revised in order to expand.
- American, National, and Northwestern in 1883.
- plus Eastern in spring 1884 version of the agreements published in Spalding's Guide 1884.
Some short articles on other leagues in 1884, I think, imply agreement and protection. Probably there was some provisional status, minor in effect, for other leagues. Leagues may have been agreeing to terms and even organizing ab ovo after the documents officially reprinted by Spalding's were signed, even after the higher league seasons were underway.

Brent(?) researched some PCL seasons a year or two ago re Gavy Cravath. I searched Sporting Life for some 1906 data, I think. Then the PCL was already formally minor. If Cravath played for the independent version during the PCL war, that was very early in his pro career before "anyone" considers ML credit for him.

FWIW i doubt that the PCL was stronger than the AA and EL during Cravath's time in theh PCL or in the AA.
   250. Paul Wendt Posted: July 13, 2007 at 02:45 AM (#2439652)
From #248, first quoting Brent "2002 Ballot Discussion" #67
> My understanding is that if different major league teams wanted to draft, say, five different players from a single PCL team,
> they would draw lots to see which player would be selected.

. . . Probably I have reported the results of 1900 and 1910 draft lotteries here at HOM, most likely here in Gavy Cravath.


This afternoon I misread hastily. What I have noted in the newspapers and probably reported here at HOM is the lottery to determine which of several clubs gets a player whom they all draft.

players weren't eligible to be drafted during their first three years.

I suspect this rule was in effect for only a few seasons, or several seasons but all before 1900.
   251. Paul Wendt Posted: July 13, 2007 at 02:50 AM (#2439659)
As I reported here . . .
see #174-175
   252. Brent Posted: July 13, 2007 at 03:31 AM (#2439693)
Brent(?) researched some PCL seasons a year or two ago re Gavy Cravath... FWIW i doubt that the PCL was stronger than the AA and EL during Cravath's time in theh PCL or in the AA.

In my MLEs for Cravath, I treated the PCL of the aughts as closer to modern Class AA league quality than to Class AAA. (See post # 60.) Phillybooster questioned my assumption (post # 110) and posted some player data that could be used to calculate quality adjustment factors (starting about post # 127). I never did manage to do a statistical analysis of these data--one of many unfinished HoM projects. I did treat Cravath's 1909-11 American Association as equivalent to modern Class AAA.
   253. Paul Wendt Posted: September 03, 2007 at 05:26 PM (#2509621)
Commenting on "2004 Ballot" #3 by karlmagnus, who seems to be the leading grantor of extra credit measured by playing time, I wondered about Cravath's mlb playing time measured by games and plate appearances.

By the way, Cravath was 31.1-36.7 years old during his six prime seasons 1912-1917, the first six of his seven full seasons.

games  pa   dates ph field   
   94 327 3.48  1908 12  82 3.84
   23  77 3.35  1909  4  19 3.84
 0  1910
 0  1911  
  130 502 3.86  1912 17 113 4.29
  147 594 4.04  1913  6 141 4.17
  149 604 4.05  1914  6 143 4.18
  150 621 4.14  1915  1 149 4.16
  137 532 3.88  1916  7 130 4.04
  140 590 4.21  1917  1 139 4.24
  121 489 4.04  1918  3 118 4.12
   83 255 3.07  1919 27  56 4.07
   46  54 1.17  1920 41   5 2.60 


'field' is the sum of fielding games by position; that is outfield games plus 5 firstbase games in 1908, or true fielding games plus as many as five 1908 games double counted

'ph' is games minus 'field'; that is pinch-hit and pinch-run games minus as many as five 1908 pinch appearances

The third column is plate appearances per game and the final column is (pa-ph)/(games-ph), a very good estimate of plate appearances per fielding game. Beside the possible overcount of 1908 fielding games, Cravath may have appeared in the pinch with two plate appearances (in one inning) or without a plate appearance (as a baserunner or as a batter during a game-ending out on the bases).
   254. Paul Wendt Posted: September 03, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2509826)
Batting Positions
According to Deadball Stars of the NL, Cravath's batting position in the typical lineup 1912-1918 was 4, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 5/6. If those were his mean batting positions and all of his fielding games were complete games (of he was replaced only after his positions final plate appearance), he would have about the team average number of plate appearances per game in 1913-14; about 0.1 more than the team average in 1912 and 1915-17; about 0.05 less than the team average in 1918.

Plate Appearances per game, Gavy Cravath and Phillies average
1912 1913 1914 1915 <u>1916</u> 1917 1918 ; see 1916 note, below
4.29 4.17 4.18 4.16 4.04 4.24 4.12 ; Cravath 1912-18
4.21 4.19 4.16 4.06 4.04 4.13 4.16 ; Phillies 1912-18, divided by nine
+.08 -.02 +.02 +.10 =.00 +.11 -.04 ; difference
__4_ __5_ _5_ __4_ __4_ _4_ _5/6 ; typical batting position for Cravath

Based on batting data it seems that almost all of Cravath's fielding games were complete games.

Fielding Positions
How many substitutions did Philadelphia make at each outfield position 1912-18?
dates LF CF RF
1912 _8 _4 _3
1913 11 17 _4
1914 11 10 _0
1915 13 _3 _5
1916 12 _7 14
1917 20 -2 _3
1918 _9 11 _6

Cravath played rightfield more than half time in 1912 and almost exclusively 1913-18. The Phillies made 14 midgame fielding changes in right during 1916 and a negligible number of changes in right during the rest of his prime career.

Based on fielding data, it is clear that Cravath played more than 95% complete games.

Note that the modest exceptions match. 1916 is the one of his prime seasons that Deadball Stars lineups and batting data imply some incomplete games for Cravath: only 4.04 pa per fielding game, the team average for all nine batting positions, although he typically batted fourth.
   255. Paul Wendt Posted: September 03, 2007 at 06:39 PM (#2509891)
How many substitutions did Philadelphia make at each outfield position 1912-18?
dates LF CF RF
. . .
1917 20 -2 _3


minus two?

The final calculations are mine from the player games by position presented on team pages at baseball-reference. Now I see that team pages at retrosheet provide the sums of player games by position such as "174 152 157" for the 1917 Phillies outfield, in 154 team games played.

The raw data for both websites is based on old Total Baseball. For many many seasons Pete Palmer compiled the outfield games. He told me that he tried to get the sum of player games at least equal to the number of team games but he only checked for his own clerical errors --using official daily records and/or a single set of box scores at the HOF library, I believe. While a downstream clerical error is possible, minus two probably indicates two games where the HOF library source shows three lf and rf, no cf.
   256. Paul Wendt Posted: October 16, 2008 at 11:51 PM (#2984247)
These references by newcomer stax, in "2009 Ballot Discussion" #195, may be useful to other newcomers who hope to catch up or to oldcomers who need to refresh.
>>
On Gavvy Cravath I look at all of it, but 1906, 1907, and 1909-1911 are clearly the biggest years. Take posts #121 and #129 in his thread for Dr. Chaleeko's WS calculation (his totals in #129 don't even have 1906 in them). All those minor league win shares give him an MLE'd total up near the bottom end of our HoM OFs.
<<
   257. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: November 30, 2008 at 09:52 PM (#3017682)
Anybody wanna take a gander at Fielding WS for Gavvy's minor league seasons?
   258. Chris Cobb Posted: December 01, 2008 at 01:36 AM (#3017735)
OK, here's my take on probable MLE FWS for Cravath's minor-league seasons. Games played are from Brent's final MLEs in post 186(?) or so:

1906 - 133 g, 2.97 fws (2.33/100 g)
1907 - 138 g, 4.15 fws (3.00/100 g)
1909 - 115 g (AA portion of season only), 2.40 fws (2.09/100 g)
1910 - 155 g, 1.55 fws (1.04/100 g)
1911 - 153 g, 2.86 fws (1.87/100 g)

Explanations. WARP and WS basically agree that Cravath was average to slightly above average defensively, for a corner outfielder, in his ML play in 1909 and 1912, with a drop off to below average in 1913, terrible in 1914 and very good in 1915. He appears, then, to be erratic defensively, a trend that is reflected in his minor league stats. I therefore tried to eyeball those stats to find which of Cravath's possible levels of fielding value (from terrible to very good) was most likely in evidence in that season.

For 1906, we have no data, but this was early in Cravath's career and his stats look good for 1905 and 1907, so I have projected him as very slightly above average, using a rate equal to his 1912 season.
For 1907, Cravath looks excellent, so I have matched this season with his career best major-league defensive season, 1915.
For 1909, he looks ok in his AA data and he was average in the majors, so I have projected him at a little below average (the average of his 1909, 1912, and 1913 rates)
For 1910, he looks awful in his AA data, so I have projected him by his 1914 ML rate
For 1911, he looks ok to poor in his AA data, so I have projected him by his 1913 ML rate.

The range of values here is consistent with documented levels of performance in the majors. His overall rate for these minor-league seasons is 2.01 fws/100 games, which is better than his major-league career rate of 1.76 fws/100 games, but since this period covers his age 25-30 seasons, that is only to be expected. These numbers may in fact underrate a fielding peak here, but the data don't scream "fielding peak," so I don't think it makes sense to assume that one is there.
   259. Chris Cobb Posted: December 01, 2008 at 02:42 AM (#3017748)
1906 - 133 g, 2.97 fws (2.33/100 g)

Correction: the rate here should be 2.23/100 g.
   260. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 01, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#3017867)
Here is Cravath in my WARP.

Year SFrac BWAA BRWAA FWAA Replc WARP
1906  0.89  1.4   0.0  0.4  
-0.5  2.3
1907  0.82  3.0  
-0.1  1.6  -0.5  5.0
1908  0.52  2.2  
-0.1 -0.8  -0.4  1.8
1909  0.87  3.3  
-0.1  0.1  -0.6  4.0
1910  0.97  4.8  
-0.1 -1.0  -0.7  4.5
1911  1.00  5.9  
-0.1  0.0  -0.7  6.6
1912  0.77  1.4   0.0  0.3  
-0.5  2.3
1913  0.93  6.0  
-0.1 -0.1  -0.6  6.4
1914  0.94  5.3  
-0.1 -1.5  -0.6  4.3
1915  0.99  6.4   0.1  1.6  
-0.7  8.8
1916  0.84  4.0  
-0.1 -0.3  -0.6  4.1
1917  0.92  4.6  
-0.1 -0.3  -0.6  4.8
1918  0.95  0.9  
-0.1 -0.8  -0.6  0.5
1919  0.45  4.4   0.0 
-1.0  -0.4  3.8
1920  0.09  0.4   0.0 
-0.3  -0.1  0.2
TOTL 11.96 54.1  
-0.8 -2.0  -8.1 59.4
AVRG  1.00  4.5  
-0.1 -0.2  -0.7  5.0 


3-year peak: 21.8
7-year prime: 40.4
Career: 59.4
Salary: $164,012,445

Chris, thanks for asking me for these, because you may have gotten Cravath on my ballot. I think when I calculated Cravath for myself in the past, I was characterizing his fielding as substantially below average in the minors--I had somehow deposited him in the Greg Luzinski/Frank Howard bin. But if his career D was nearly average, then he's a clear HoM'er.

A caveat is that my old DRA numbers show Gavvy as quite poor at the MLB level: -25 in 1913, -11 in 1914, +7 in 1915, -20 in 1916, and -11 in 1917. However, I don't think those numbers are park-adjusted, and I imagine there may be a Baker Bowl effect. I will check in with Michael and see what he says.
   261. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 03:57 PM (#3017890)
Superficially he has a lot in common with another player eligible next season - Edgar Martinez. Big bat, no glove, plodding DH types. Similar BWAA and WARP but Edgar is just a tick higher in my spreadsheet. I think they both require minor league credit to get above the line and I think they both deserve it.
   262. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 01, 2008 at 04:18 PM (#3017898)
I disagree--if Cravath is really a plodding DH type, he's not a HoM'er. He needs to have been close to a league average fielder to be deserving.
   263. Mike Green Posted: December 01, 2008 at 05:11 PM (#3017947)
DanR,

How do Cravath's top 4 seasons offensively compare with Klein's, according to your BWAA? If you mark Cravath's defence at -.4 annually for 1911-16, how does he stack up against Minoso for top 5 years taking into account all aspects?

Klein as a marker for the Baker Bowl effect might be helpful, and Minoso for the over 30 peak might do the same thing.
   264. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#3017980)
Cravath's a below average fielder and a mediocre baserunner. I certainly see him as a DH type, especially as he aged. The hard part with Cravath is that RF park effects are almost certainly affecting his offensive AND defensive statistics. He was a below average fielder who played in two parks with a short RF that covered up his flaws. The parks also made his opposite field swing so effective. 1915 really sticks out as a strange year for his fielding - it also defines his peak season. If his fielding was actually only average in 1915, then he has no oustanding peak and he's probably on the 'out' side of the line for most.

Here's a Gavy Cravath quote from wikipedia (probably lifted from Deadball Stars):
His lack of speed was compared unfavorably to Tris Speaker and other swift outfielders of the time; Cravath once said, "They call me wooden shoes and piano legs and a few other pet names. I do not claim to be the fastest man in the world, but I can get around the bases with a fair wind and all sails set. And so long as I am busting the old apple on the seam, I am not worrying a great deal about my legs."

From wiki on the Baker Bowl:
"It also took the rule book literally, as the sweeping curve behind the plate was about 60 feet (18 m), and instead of angling back toward the foul lines, the 60-foot (18 m) wide foul ground extended all the way to the wall in right, and well down the left field line also. The spacious foul ground, while not fan-friendly, would have resulted in more foul-fly outs than in most parks, and thus was probably the park's one saving grace in the minds of otherwise-frustrated pitchers."

And about that wall:
"The most notable and talked-about feature of Baker Bowl was the right field wall, which was only some 280 feet (85 m) from home plate, with right-center only 300 feet (91.5 m) away, and with a wall-and-screen barrier that in its final form was 60 feet (18 m) high. By comparison, the Green Monster at Fenway Park is 37 feet (11 m) high and 310 feet (94 m) away. The Baker wall was a rather difficult task to surmount. The wall was an amalgam of different materials. It was originally a relatively normal-height masonry structure. When it became clear that it was too soft a home run touch, the barrier was extended upward using more masonry, wood, and a metal pipe-and-wire screen. The masonry in the lower part of the wall was extremely rough (Benson termed it "the sort of surface that efficiently removes an outfielder's skin upon contact") and eventually a layer of tin was laid over the entire structure except for the upper part of the screen."

1915 was exactly the year the screen was added to increase the wall from 40 feet to 60 feet in RF and also increased in CF from 35 to 47 feet. Any Baker Bowl park effects should be calculated as pre-1915 and post-1915. (Thanks Ballparks.com).

The grass couldn't have been too good either: "reported use of sheep to graze on the field during Phillies road trips, in lieu of buying lawn mowers, until sometime in the 1920s."

I'd say Cravath also has a lot more in common with Dave Winfield than just killing seagulls. Winfield was a better baserunner but shows up as a poorer fielder. Winfield got a relatively early start in MLB while Cravath started on the West Coast and had to work his way through the unaffiliated minors. Is that the difference between In and Out? Possibly.
   265. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 05:53 PM (#3017984)
Is Cravath's baserunning going to be affected by the park also? I'd love to see a spray chart to find out where he hit his triples. Were they pulled to the large LF or opposite field shots off the wall in RF that bounced into that foul territory?
   266. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#3018011)
In 1907, when Cravath wasn't playing with a short RF, his defensive stats look their best (I have no idea of the actual dimensions of Chutes Park but there is a photo in the panorama here: history.amusement-parks.com/dreamlandchutes.htm). What does that tell us?
   267. Mike Green Posted: December 01, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#3018013)
Winfield?

When he was young, Winfield was fast. He played deep and had a good arm. Although he won a stack of GGs, it is doubtful that he was good as his reputation (because his range suffered from his tendency to play deep), but on the other hand, it was also doubtful that Cravath was as good defensively. The Padres gave Winfield a lot of time in centerfield, and that rarely happens with poor defensive corner outfielders. The defensive statistics for the Padres of the late 70s are a bit tricky because they had more left-handed groundball-throwing pitchers on their staff than typical (leading to endless number of highlight reel plays for Ozzie).

Winfield's MLB career not only began at a much younger age; it ended in his 40s with a bang. With Winfield, there is relatively little to figure out by way of inductive process.
   268. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#3018033)
62. Brent
> As you can see, the Millers’ run environment factors for 1909 are notably low compared to the other Minneapolis seasons. My question
> is whether I should smooth out these factors by taking an average across the 3 seasons 1909-11

"The main grandstand was rebuilt prior to the 1909 season with a tier of box seats put in front of the regular seats, necessitating the moving of the players’ benches as well as the press box."
"An even greater facelift took place following the 1911 season... To accommodate the new structure, the grandstand in the right-field corner was angled toward the field. The foul line intersected with the stands, 279 feet from home plate. The roof over the grandstand created an overhang in right field, which at times could affect play" - Stew Thornley (pics at http://stewthornley.net/twincityballparks.html)

So in contrast to the Baker Bowl, Nicollet Park had NO foul ground in RF after 1911. Perhaps this explains the dip in his MLB stats until he adjusted his timing to account for the fact that a foul ball could be caught. A simple overall park factor just isn't going to be enough when adjusting for this player and these parks.
   269. Chris Cobb Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:00 PM (#3018057)
In looking at Cravath's defense, I think it's important to not get carried away by comparisons to other bad outfielders.

Yes, Cravath was clearly a below average outfielder. Dan R's WAR, combining various numbers, has him at 2 wins below average for his career. WARP1 has him at about 5.5 wins below average, but their variance tends to be a bit too high, and it is likely that Cravath would have gotten some of those wins back if his younger years were also accounted for.

His defense does not help his HoM case.

However, his defense does not hurt his case to the extent that Greg Luzinski's or Frank Howard's does. By WARP1, Cravath has a career rate of 95 in right field. That means he was 5 runs below average per 100 defensive games played. Virtually all of Cravath's major-league right field career took place at ages 31 and older.

Greg Luzinski's career rate in left field, by WARP, was 88, 12 runs below average per 100 defensive games played. That is a lot worse than Cravath. In addition, Luzinski was done playing the field after his age 29 season. Does anyone want to imagine Luzinski patrolling left field in his late 30s??

Luzinski is not an appropriate mental image for Cravath as an outfielder.

Howard was also substantially worse than Cravath, with a career rate of 91 in left field, which he played from ages 28-34 for Washington, and 94 in left field, which he played from ages 23-27 for LA. He also spent a lot of time at first base.

Cravath was tried by the White Sox in centerfield in 1909, and he played about 20 games there for the Phillies in 1912-13, not disastrously. The team obviously did not contemplate making him the regular in center, but he was good enough to be used as an occasional sub there. Maybe that was facilitated by the odd dimensions of the Baker Bowl, but still, neither Howard nor Luzinski subbed in center.

Age is really a big issue here. I look at it like this:

From age 31-38, Gavvy Cravath was

the same kind of outfielder that Ralph Kiner was from age 23-30
the same kind of outfielder that Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson were from age 31-38
the same kind of outfielder that Barry Bonds was from age 35-42

As I think about it, Jackson seems like probably the best image-comp I can think of. He was a fine athlete, and a good defensive player in his twenties. He spent some time in centerfield, though he was never a regular there, with his last stint in center taking place in his age 30 season in Baltimore in 1976. Jackson never had a great reputation as a fielder, in part because he gave the impression of only caring about hitting, and in part because he really became a national phenomenon with the Yankees, when he was in his 30s, when his defensive skills had clearly declined. Although Gavvy was apparently laid back where Jackson was an attention-sponge, I think the match in their attitudes toward playing the game is surprisingly close. (Jackson's comments about the strikeouts not really mattering as long as he was hitting "taters" come to mind when I read Cravath saying that as long as he is hitting the ball well he doesn't worry too much about his footspeed.) Overall, Cravath was not the player Jackson was, but absent the DH, his post-30 career and Jackson's have a lot of similarities, I think.
   270. Chris Cobb Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:04 PM (#3018061)
Btw,

Thanks, Dan, for taking the time to run Cravath's stats! If I get credit for getting you to do it, you should get credit for getting me to ask. It was when I was re-running my numbers for all candidates using the latest version of your WAR that I noticed Cravath's 8.8 WAR season in 1915. Seasons that good don't grow on trees, so I decided I had better take a close look at him, and that was when I realized that he really was a borderline case, and that strong MLE credit would bring him onto the ballot.
   271. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:23 PM (#3018083)
Well, that 8.8 is contingent on his fielding being excellent in 1915. And Chris, the defensive numbers we are working with (BP WARP and WS) are extremely unreliable--their correlations to modern PBP metrics are really not good. DRA, which is a better stat, is extremely negative on Gavvy, although I need to check if that includes a park effect. I would like to have a reputational survey here if possible, since his fielding very much does determine whether he's a HoM'er or not.
   272. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:35 PM (#3018095)
The similarities to Winfield are interesting, not just in the statistical record.

Cravath was the first major league ballplayer from the San Diego area. Winfield started his professional career in San Diego.
Cravath spent 3 years with the Minneapolis Millers. Winfield was a multisport star for the Minnesota Gophers.
Cravath got his nickname "Gavy" by hitting a ball that killed a seagull in flight ("gaviota" in Spanish). Winfield killed a seagull by throwing a ball at it during warmups.
Cravath batted .125/.222/.313 in the World Series. Winfield was known as "Mr. May" hitting .208/.304/.337 in the postseason.
Both players returned home for a "swan song" season at the end of their career.

Winfield was better earlier and hung around longer later - as I said before that might be the difference between In and Out.
   273. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:42 PM (#3018104)
Mike Green, BWAA isn't an ideal metric because it undervalues playing time (since it's compared to average, and average players aren't freely available). Moreover, when Cravath was playing RF, it was still meaningfully less important defensively than LF; that was no longer the case by Klein's day. I think the best measure is to look at WARP, just zeroing out all baserunning and defense to league average. In that case, Klein's top four seasons are 8.8, 7.3, 6.5, and 5.9, while Cravath's are 7.1, 6.6, 6.6, and 5.9. (The 8.8 for Klein in 1933 is boosted by an exceedingly low GIDP total of 3; we have no information about Cravath's GIDP tendencies).

As a -.4 fielder, Cravath's top 5 seasons would be 6.8, 6.1, 6.1, 5.4, and 5.0, to Miñoso's 7.8, 5.8, 5.5, 5.4, and 5.3.
   274. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2008 at 07:59 PM (#3018134)
Cravath had a good outfield arm, leading the league in assists on more than one occasion. Some of that might be positioning since he needed to play shallow but he took advantage of that.

From the SABR biography:
"Cravath took advantage of his home park as much as any other player in history 79% of his 1915 home runs and 78% of his career four-baggers came at Baker Bowl."
   275. Mike Green Posted: December 01, 2008 at 09:04 PM (#3018194)
Thanks, DanR/#273. That does give a good picture. Less peak/prime than Klein or Minoso, despite being probably the best hitter in the NL for the decade. The particular problem with Cravath is that if you're trying to evaluate how he was as a complete player from 1907-1911, you have to make a defensive evaluation from incomplete minor league statistics. If you compare Gavvy Cravath with Reggie Smith, say, it seems to me that it's much more comfortable to infer that Smith was a great hitter in his early 30s and a very good hitter and good fielder in his 20s than to make any kind of inference about the overall player that Cravath was in his 20s. It looks like he was an inferior hitter to Smith during his 20s, and it is likely he was similarly an inferior fielder.
   276. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 01, 2008 at 09:31 PM (#3018221)
Cravath had a good outfield arm, leading the league in assists on more than one occasion...
Cravath took advantage of his home park as much as any other player in history


Didn't the very high, very close to the plate RF wall at the Baker Bowl lead to several extreme OF assist totals? Chuck Klein had a lot of those, if memory serves...

Not going from memory, Klein averaged 25 assists per year in his first 5 full seasons with the Phillies, and then had 6 and 11 after being traded to the Cubs. So it looks like there's definitely a park effect in play here.
   277. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 01, 2008 at 11:57 PM (#3018330)
I'd say he has a marginally higher peak than Miñoso, given that all indications are that he actually did have an above average fielding year in 1915. He wasn't quite as great as Klein at his absolute best, but few have been! He catches up by year three.
   278. DL from MN Posted: December 02, 2008 at 04:25 AM (#3018484)
"DRA, which is a better stat, is extremely negative on Gavvy"

"all indications are that he actually did have an above average fielding year in 1915"

Does this mean that DRA is higher on Cravath in 1915?
   279. Chris Cobb Posted: December 02, 2008 at 04:32 AM (#3018486)
From Dan's post 260 above:

A caveat is that my old DRA numbers show Gavvy as quite poor at the MLB level: -25 in 1913, -11 in 1914, +7 in 1915, -20 in 1916, and -11 in 1917.

I'd be curious what DRA says about 1912. If that shows up as about average, then DRA would be tracking the ups and downs of Cravath's fielding adventures about the same way as Win Shares and WARP1, which both see 1915 as a good fielding year for Cravath, with the rest of 1913-17 in varying degrees of bad and worse. The question then would be the magnitude of the swings.
   280. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 02, 2008 at 04:54 AM (#3018502)
I only have DRA for seasons of 130+ games, sadly. (And they're an old, preliminary version anyways).
   281. Mike Green Posted: December 02, 2008 at 04:28 PM (#3018731)
From Wikipedia on the Baker Bowl:

"It also took the rule book literally, as the sweeping curve behind the plate was about 60 feet (18 m), and instead of angling back toward the foul lines, the 60-foot (18 m) wide foul ground extended all the way to the wall in right, and well down the left field line also. The spacious foul ground, while not fan-friendly, would have resulted in more foul-fly outs than in most parks, and thus was probably the park's one saving grace in the minds of otherwise-frustrated pitchers."

With that kind of configuration, the right-fielder's defensive rating would likely be the subject of wide variation among the modern pbp methods. When you combine that with the fact that Cravath's superficial numbers were consistently poor except for 1915, it would probably be best to assume that the positive numbers for his age 34 season (which also happened to be the year of renovation to the Baker Bowl) are an aberration.

One of the difficulties generally in attaching too much weight to peak value of a player is that there is greater risk of an unknown (and essentially unfathomable) aberration playing a signficant part in the decision. This is particularly so for the defensive part of the game.
   282. Paul Wendt Posted: December 04, 2008 at 09:18 PM (#3020985)
With 33 steals for in 1911 he cannot have been Greg Luzinski.
source: Bill James, "Best Minor League Team: Minneapolis Millers", BJHBA 2 (1988) p106-07

>>
Twenty points about Gavy Cravath:
. . .
8. [Charles] Van Loan called him 'Old Wooden Shoes.' Cravath had suffered a knee injury in a high school football game, and was never fast, but he was one of those guys who ran effortlessly, and was faster than he looked. His arm was outstanding. The best one-sentence description of Cravath is from a local obituary. He played ball --and lived his life-- with a minimum amount of effort and nervous energy.
<<
source: Bill James, "Gavy Cravath", NBJHBA 1 (2002), p886-887

That makes me think Kevin McHale (no doubt partly because of the shared Minneapolity).

>>
4. He was called "Cactus" because of his prickly personality. He was a practical joker and a warm man with a good sense of humor, but he had a stern, leave-me-alone front which he put on to protect himself from the BS.
<<


DL #264
Here's a Gavy Cravath quote from wikipedia (probably lifted from Deadball Stars):
His lack of speed was compared unfavorably to Tris Speaker and other swift outfielders of the time; Cravath once said, "They call me wooden shoes and piano legs and a few other pet names. I do not claim to be the fastest man in the world, but I can get around the bases with a fair wind and all sails set. And so long as I am busting the old apple on the seam, I am not worrying a great deal about my legs."

From wiki on the Baker Bowl:
"It also took the rule book literally, as the sweeping curve behind the plate was about 60 feet (18 m), and instead of angling back toward the foul lines, the 60-foot (18 m) wide foul ground extended all the way to the wall in right, and well down the left field line also. The spacious foul ground, while not fan-friendly, would have resulted in more foul-fly outs than in most parks, and thus was probably the park's one saving grace in the minds of otherwise-frustrated pitchers."

And about that wall:
"The most notable and talked-about feature of Baker Bowl was the right field wall, which was only some 280 feet (85 m) from home plate, with right-center only 300 feet (91.5 m) away, and with a wall-and-screen barrier that in its final form was 60 feet (18 m) high.


Chris Cobb #269
Jackson never had a great reputation as a fielder, in part because he gave the impression of only caring about hitting, and in part because he really became a national phenomenon with the Yankees, when he was in his 30s, when his defensive skills had clearly declined. Although Gavvy was apparently laid back where Jackson was an attention-sponge, I think the match in their attitudes toward playing the game is surprisingly close. (Jackson's comments about the strikeouts not really mattering as long as he was hitting "taters" come to mind when I read Cravath saying that as long as he is hitting the ball well he doesn't worry too much about his footspeed.)

(my emphasis)
not only their attitudes about playing the game but their informality in talking about their attitudees about playing the game, The informality of "busting the old apple" and "hitting taters"
   283. Paul Wendt Posted: January 18, 2010 at 08:26 PM (#3440358)
Newcomer Alex King has completed his own take on Cravath in 2011 Ballot Discussion.

prelude #131, "As far as I can tell, he was only outstanding for maybe 4 seasons (based on Baseball-reference's admittedly incomplete minor league stats)."

report #157-58, Alex King's MLE for Cravath

The primary disagreement with Brent in this thread seems to be lower walk rates for Cravath in the minors.
   284. DL from MN Posted: January 19, 2010 at 04:09 PM (#3440938)
The change in walk rates might be entirely park effect. As noted up a couple comments the Baker Bowl had foul territory down the lines to the fence. However, Nicollet Park (Mpls) was a bandbox with little foul territory anywhere.
   285. DL from MN Posted: January 19, 2010 at 04:43 PM (#3440980)
Whoops, looking at the other thread the MLE walk rates are estimated. Is there no minor league walk data?
   286. Alex King Posted: January 20, 2010 at 12:32 AM (#3441594)
DL/285:
Not on BR. But if anyone has it, that would be fantastic.
   287. Brent Posted: January 20, 2010 at 05:00 AM (#3441798)
I'm pretty sure that minor league walk data aren't available for the pre-1912 AA and PCL. When I calculated the Cravath MLEs, minor league statistics weren't yet available online, so I looked up his statistics on microfilm from the old Reach and Spalding Guides, and they didn't have any walk data for those leagues.

One of the things I learned from this project came from researchers like Gary A and KJOK, who demonstrated that missing walk data can be compiled from old boxscores. But that would obviously require dozens of hours of research.
   288. DL from MN Posted: January 20, 2010 at 05:32 AM (#3441812)
I was at the MN History Center yesterday with the kids, wish I had that kind of time to spend in the library. Anyone know someone in the MN SABR chapter with time on his hands?

It does strike me that the best batter in the PCL is probably going to walk his fair share.
   289. DL from MN Posted: January 25, 2010 at 05:58 AM (#3445539)
Reading through Stew Thornley's book on the Millers he mentions in the book that he's read through all the Miller's box scores. I don't know if he has copies but I know the HoM has connections to Thornley. Sunnyday - can you ping him and find out at a minimum where to look for Cravath's box scores (which paper, what archive)? I might be willing to spend a day looking up info if I can get someone to help me make it more productive.
   290. Mike Webber Posted: December 09, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4613933)
Gavy Cravath – Retrosheet now has home road splits for Gavvy from 1914 through 1920, his last 7 of 9 seasons in Philly.

1914-20 G AB  HR RBI  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
Home 413 1275 72 182 .300 .400 .568 .968
Away 414 1382 15 131 .267 .361 .394 .755 



That home OPS would be second behind Babe Ruth for the period, just ahead of Cobb, Speaker and Shoeless Joe.

The 755 OPS as a road player? 36th for the period, which is still quite good, nestled in between Tim Hendryx, Irish Meusel, Al Wickland and Jack Dalton.

As always the truth is somewhere in the middle, but I’d bet he’s closer to Irish Muesel than Shoeless Joe.
   291. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 10, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4615246)
Don't forget that when using road stats you should be factoring in 1/8 of his home stats. The other players have 1/7 of their road games in Philly . . . that's not insignificant in an 8-team league.

Comparing a player from a hitter's park's road stats to the road stats of others is going to underrate the player from the hitter's park; especially if the hitter's park is extreme, and moreso if the league is smaller.
Page 3 of 3 pages  < 1 2 3

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
TedBerg
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 1.0955 seconds
49 querie(s) executed