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

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

George Sisler and Ed Konetchy

Two outstanding first basemen who were contemporaries for a few years.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 28, 2004 at 05:39 PM | 137 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. DavidFoss Posted: March 12, 2005 at 12:59 AM (#1194792)
What's more I'll bet you can find NO contemporary opinion that says gahrig '25 was better than Sisler '25.

Maybe true, but remember this is Gehrig's first season as a regular. He was not yet *LOU GEHRIG*. He "only" had a 127 OPS+. Sisler's 110 OPS+ was an improvement over his previous year, but I expect many were thinking he might snap out of his sinusitus funk soon. FWIW, Sisler was also getting picked off on the bases quite a bit in 24-25 as well.

The fact that Sisler was arguably comparable to "rookie-Gehrig" is not *that* high of a praise. Plus, others have shown that Gehrig was probably still a bit better that year.
   102. thok Posted: March 12, 2005 at 01:15 AM (#1194834)
Except Karl, that Ruth was injured for a good part of 1925 (the Yankees were fairly bad that year and scored just over 700 runs). Gehrig was arguably their best player (Meusel and Combs had comparable rate stats in slightly more playing time).

In contrast, the 1925 Browns were an offensive machine, scoring 900 runs. Sisler isn't anywhere close to their best player that year offensively. Their outfield went

Baby Doll Jacobson .341/.392/.513 in 540 at bats
Ken Williams .331/.390/.613 in 411 at bats
Harry Rice .359/.450/.568 in 354 at bats

All of the above were better than Sisler (although they got less at bats.)

Also, Gehrig finished 24th in MVP voting, while Sisler didn't get a vote. So somebody thought Gehrig was better than Sisler.
   103. karlmagnus Posted: March 12, 2005 at 01:36 AM (#1194867)
I may be wrong, but I think that Sisler wasn't eligible for the MVP ballot in '25, having already won it. A silly system, I know, and they changed it when they brought back the award in '31, but I think those were the rules then.
   104. DavidFoss Posted: March 12, 2005 at 01:40 AM (#1194871)
Also, Gehrig finished 24th in MVP voting, while Sisler didn't get a vote. So somebody thought Gehrig was better than Sisler.

Sisler was ineligible for MVP since he had won before in 1922. It was a wacky system back then. :-)

Best hitter on the 7th place Yankees doesn't earn you any points here and Rookie Combs probably edges Rookie Gehrig with his OBP.

Is it time to leave work for the weekend yet? :-)
   105. DavidFoss Posted: March 12, 2005 at 01:42 AM (#1194874)
I may be wrong, but I think that Sisler wasn't eligible for the MVP ballot in '25, having already won it. A silly system, I know, and they changed it when they brought back the award in '31, but I think those were the rules then.

The Holy Roman Emporer beat me to it. :-). I can't remember why they did this. I think they were giving away a car with the award and they thought it would be bad publicity to give a second car to a guy. *shrug*
   106. thok Posted: March 12, 2005 at 01:45 AM (#1194878)
Ah, i forgot about the no repeat rule. Sisler still probably wouldn't have gotten any votes-Ken Williams didn't get any votes and was clearly better than Sisler. (Rice and Jacobson finished in the top ten in voting.)
   107. karlmagnus Posted: March 12, 2005 at 03:26 AM (#1195018)
Sisler was 4th in hits in the American League omn 1925 and equal 10th in batting average. He didn't walk, but they didn't care about that back then. We may consider that a mediocre year but they didn't, and nor would any of their successors until about 1985. I bet he'd have been a lot higher than 24th in MVP voting if he'd been eligible -- he did very well indeed in the early HOF ballots.
   108. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 12, 2005 at 03:27 AM (#1195021)
Sisler had to lead his weakish team every day, whereas gehrig was able to develop quitely behind Ruth.

As has been pointed out, the Browns didn't have a bad team in '25, while the Yannkees were inferior to the team in St. Louis.
   109. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 12, 2005 at 03:36 AM (#1195049)
What's more I'll bet you can find NO contemporary opinion that says gahrig '25 was better than Sisler '25.

Contemporary opinion gave Hank Sauer the MVP over Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson and Robin Roberts in '52.

That's what I think about contemporary opinion in regard to electing HoMers. ;-)
   110. yest Posted: March 13, 2005 at 02:31 AM (#1196229)
2005 at 05:38 PM (#1194525)
yest, lets' be honest: you're anti-sabermetric. The rest of us (including even karlmagnus to a degree) are sabermetrically-inclined. IOW, we're just not going to see eye-to-eye about certain players. With all due respect, we're just wasting our time here with this discussion. We'll respect your placement of Sisler at the top of your ballot, while you will have to respect our probable dismissal of him.


I could understand the sabermetric point of view with the exption of 1925, and 1927 where he was definatly a good player.
BTW just how far away is Sisler from being the best 1st baseman in 1925 acording to your system



A review of yest's favorite movie:

"The Seattle music scene is the backdrop for this tale of twentysomethings trying to find themselves and each other in the 1990s. Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) and Steve (Campbell Scott) meet in a club and begin to play the dating game. Janet (Bridget Fonda) has a thing for Cliff (Matt Dillon), who barely acknowledges her existence. Cameron Crowe's script tackles the ups and downs of romance with humor and honesty. Highlights include live performances by Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, as well as cameos by the members of Pearl Jam."


What does this mean ?
   111. Kelly in SD Posted: March 13, 2005 at 02:44 AM (#1196237)
This got a laugh out of me - maybe cuz' I just finished my partnership tax final and it doesn't take much - but the answer to

What does this mean ?

is the movie is Singles.
   112. Howie Menckel Posted: March 13, 2005 at 05:16 AM (#1196371)
Thanks, Kelly, I had just about given up hope.

yest, it was a good-natured, obscure chuckler. The movie title is 'Singles,' which you have referenced to support Sisler's case (and I always vote for Sisler, myself).
   113. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2005 at 03:53 PM (#1196663)
Okay, I made a mistake regarding Sisler/Gehrig in 1925. Not my numbers, but I pulled up my '26 spreadsheet instead of '25. :-) My apologies.

Looking at the right numbers, I have Sheely as the best in '25. I also have Sisler better than Gehrig that year by about 25%. Is that more reasonable, yest?
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2005 at 03:57 PM (#1196664)
Sheely/Sisler:

You have one guy (Sheely) in a pitchers' park and another (Sisler) in a hitters' park. Enough said.
   115. yest Posted: March 13, 2005 at 05:19 PM (#1196704)
Looking at the right numbers, I have Sheely as the best in '25. I also have Sisler better than Gehrig that year by about 25%. Is that more reasonable, yest?

Sheely's much better then Gehrig but still not better then Sisler but its a lot closer now.
   116. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2005 at 05:26 PM (#1196712)
Sheely's much better then Gehrig but still not better then Sisler but its a lot closer now.

Sisler is only better if you ignore park factors.
   117. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2005 at 05:49 PM (#1196730)
I have Sisler as 8% better than Sheely, so Sisler doesn't lag that far behind. They both pale in comparison to Jack Fournier and Mule Suttles for that year, however.

BTW, I don't give credit for someone leading their league. They have to compete with all players who share their position from all of the leagues for a given year (including the Negro Leagues), so Sisler gets zip points from me for being close to the best in the AL. IOW, Ossee Schreckengost doesn't get elevated to great player just because he was the best AL catcher of the first decade of the 20th Century due to crappy competition.
   118. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 13, 2005 at 05:49 PM (#1196731)
According Baseball Prospectus...
Warp 1/2/3
Sisler 4.8/3.3/3.3
Sheely 5.0/3.4/3.5

Win Shares
Sisler 19
Sheely 20

They look about even here according to the uberstats. Still, neither would get any credit in my system based on WARP3. Sheely gets 5 points added to his prime, Sisler 4 based on Win Shares. Either way, Sisler's 1925 season is not gong to get him any closer to the HOM.

Sisler gets 16 WS in 1927, 15 Win Shares in 1928, 13 WS in 1929, 11 WS in 1924 and 1926. Those seasons range from slightly above average, to average to below average. His gets very minimal credit for those seasons in my system.

Those aren't seasons that really push a player towaard the Hall of Merit, especially for a peak voter like me. This means that his case rests on his his peak. His top five years of 33,29,29,27,25 are pretty nice but they don't scream induction. If he had some extra years at 20 WS or so he may have gotten in.

All of this is a long way of saying that nitpicking over who was the best 1B in 1925, while an interesting debate, is missing the forest for the trees. Even if Sisler was better in 1925, it pushes him no closer to the HOM. We are talking about Earl Sheely here for god sakes. The HOM isn't for the best at a position in a weak year, it is about the best of all-time. 19 WS and 4.8 WARP (3.3 WARP3) is in no way a saeson that puts someone oever the top. It is 1922, 1920, etc. that would/should put Sisler in the HOM and did put him in the HOF.
   119. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2005 at 06:14 PM (#1196754)
       HR at Home in '25     HR on the Road in '25
Sisler        10                       2
Sheely         3                       6 
   120. yest Posted: March 18, 2005 at 03:13 AM (#1204520)
HR at Home in '25 HR on the Road in '25
Sisler 10 2
Sheely 3 6

Do you have home road splits for any other stats?
   121. Cblau Posted: March 18, 2005 at 04:37 AM (#1204643)
Interesting article by Trent McCotter in the latest Baseball Research Journal. He breaks down .400 hitters home and away, by month, by standard deviations above average, etc.

Sisler in 1920 had a .473 BA at home and .341 on the road. The only larger split among .400 hitters was by Rogers Hornsby in 1925, who also played at Sportsmans Park. In 1922, Sisler set a record for hits on the road, but his H/A BA were .449 and .397.
   122. andrew siegel Posted: March 18, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1205261)
I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn't adjusted Sisler's 1918 and 1919 seasons for the shortened schedule. When you do that his top seven WARP-1's are 14.4, 10.9, 10.5, 9.4, 9.4, 9.1, 8.9. That seven-year run is very impressive, though not necessarily impressive enough to make this tight ballot. Studying the issue again I now have Sisler ever so slightly ahead of Terry.

Tangentially, I noticed something weird in doing my Sisler research and confirmed it using several other players: WARP and WS diverge substantially not only about the relative worth of players, but also about the relative worth of their seasons within their careers. Take Sisler and Sewell as examples:

Sisler--

WS has his seven good seasons in this order (when adjusted for season length): 1920, 1922, 1917, 1921, 1919, 1918, 1916.

Adjusted WARP 1 has them: 1920, 1919, 1918, 1917, 1916/1921, 1917, 1922.

The same pheonomena holds true for sorting his mediocre seasons (hope you can trust me on that).

Sewell--

The pattern is at least as pronounced when you look at Sewell's six best seasons:

WS: 1923, 1926, 1921, 1925, 1928, 1924.
W1: 1925, 1928, 1921/ 1926, 1924, 1923.

Not sure what to make of this data except to point out that the fact that the two systems agree in the aggregate about a player's career might mean not mean that they evaluate the player similarly, but only that there quirks even out.
   123. karlmagnus Posted: March 18, 2005 at 07:13 PM (#1205306)
Is that the old WARP1 or the new one, with an extra 10 points for Sisler? Rating 1922 eighth among Sisler's seasons looks pretty cuckoo to me!
   124. andrew siegel Posted: March 18, 2005 at 07:50 PM (#1205374)
It's the new one Karl, for better or worse.

Basically, WS ranks guys by their bat and position, with a few bonus WS for the quality of their defense, while WARP allows guys to swing wildly from season to season based on their defensive statistics. We naturally view baseball with a lens like WS's--i.e., we figure out what position a guy plays, make a subjective assessment of how good a defender he is that changes very little from seasons to season, and then carefully study and take into account his seasonal hitting stats. Therefore, WS is likely to conform more to our subjective understanding of who is having a good seasons. Of course, that doesn't mean that WARP's is wrong, only that it is hard for us to see or acknowledge major year-to-year variations in fielding performance.
   125. jimd Posted: March 18, 2005 at 10:04 PM (#1205637)
Differences in the techniques for calculating multi-year Park factors also cause year-to-year variations in value between WS and WARP that average out over a career (at least in guys that don't change teams a lot).
   126. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 18, 2005 at 10:14 PM (#1205652)
This may be a weird question, but does WARP3 adjust for schedule length in any way?
   127. TomH Posted: March 18, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1205676)
Yes - it lengthens short seasons 2/3rds* of the way to full ones

*not exactly 2/3rds in a linear sense; it's a funny exponent thing, but in general, it helps us not to forget that the 1890s were shorter, 1918 was short, 1981 and 1994 had big strikes, etc.
   128. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 19, 2005 at 12:27 AM (#1205843)
So we don't really need to adjust Sisler's 1918 and 1919 season in WARP3?

I will look into adjusting thos seasons in WS, however. At first glance I dont' think this will put him above GVH for 15th on my ballot. It might not even put him above Averill and his extra PCL credit for 17th.
   129. jimd Posted: March 19, 2005 at 04:23 AM (#1206303)
So we don't really need to adjust Sisler's 1918 and 1919 season in WARP3?

If you don't like the WARP-3 adjustment, you can do your own by starting with the WARP-2 rating (or the WARP-1 rating, if you prefer to not use the quality adjustment).
   130. andrew siegel Posted: March 19, 2005 at 06:38 AM (#1206589)
I use WARP-1 and adjust for season length, then subjectively adjust WARP for league quality at the same time I subjectively adjust win shares and raw stats. Since I need to make my own judgment about league quality anyway to adjust those other components, I see no reason to take WARP-2/3's adjustment on faith.
   131. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 19, 2005 at 02:36 PM (#1206802)
Well, it isn't like WARP3 is my entire system or anything. I do have adjustments for league quality for raw stats and WS, but I like also having someone else's opinion to check my own. wFor this I use WARP3 (Clay Davenport's). I shouldn't take my adjustments on faith either.
   132. andrew siegel Posted: March 19, 2005 at 09:28 PM (#1207173)
Didn't mean to suggest there was anything wrong with taking Clay Davenport's league adjustments on faith, only that I like to see unadjusted numbers for WARP side beside unadjusted WS and raw stats before I start thinking about league quality.
   133. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 20, 2005 at 10:41 PM (#1208613)
fair point
   134. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 14, 2005 at 02:51 AM (#1255243)
My last few posts on the Mackey thread got me to thinking about Gorgeous George's case:

If Sisler had retired in '22, his Fibonacci number (WS * WS/162 Games) would have been 6129 (199 * 30.80).

Now, with his mediocre numbers added in, we get 6721 (292 * 23.02).

As with Mackey, it shows that many voters (like myself) are giving credit for the crappy seasons, but it's just not that much.
   135. yest Posted: July 28, 2005 at 12:55 AM (#1503810)
this is an intristing page on
Sisler
   136. yest Posted: July 28, 2005 at 09:55 PM (#1506027)
this is the reason I made a link to the article

Unable to find regular work in the majors, George signed with Rochester of the International League. He played 159 games—at age 38 the most in his career—and hit .303 with 45 extra-base hits. Still nimble around the sack, he led the IL in assists. It marked the eighth time in his career he finished a season at the top of this category.
and
Released by Rochester prior to the 1932 season, he accepted an offer to be player-manager of the Shreveport-Tyler club in the Texas League. In 70 games at first base he batted just .287, but did steal 17 bases.

Does Sisler desirve a small amount of minor leauge credit?
   137. sunnyday2 Posted: September 28, 2005 at 02:40 PM (#1648348)
bump?
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