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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Jake Beckley

I don’t know if you guys know this, but karlmagnus is keen on “Eagle-Eye.”  :-)

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2004 at 01:54 AM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. karlmagnus Posted: September 07, 2004 at 04:18 PM (#840607)
So are others, and I don't want this to be thought of as "another karlmagnus snow job" like EOBC thought Caruthers. My regard for Beckley, like the man himself is much more sober, grounded not in amazement at a unique talent and spectacular short term peak but in the steady accumulation of lifetime statistics that were outstanding at the time he retired (second in hits, for example) and are still well up the all-time list 100 years later, particularly if you adjust for the short seasons he played almost throughout his career.

Having said that, I leave it to sabermetricians much more skilled than me to embellish Beckley's statistical record and define precisely his long term contribution to the game. In the short term, this is not particualrly relevent, as current voters have debated him at length, but the hope is that when a gap in HOM entrants opens up, maybe in another 30-40 "years" new voters also will be able to become comfortable with Beckley's place in the game, so he gets a fair shake against later contenders.
   2. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2004 at 05:16 PM (#840709)
So are others, and I don't want this to be thought of as "another karlmagnus snow job" like EOBC thought Caruthers.

No disrespect to you, karlmagnus. I have Jake at a respectable (for this week) #13, so I like him, too. I was just pointing out that you lead the Beckley Brigade.

In the short term, this is not particualrly relevent, as current voters have debated him at length, but the hope is that when a gap in HOM entrants opens up, maybe in another 30-40 "years" new voters also will be able to become comfortable with Beckley's place in the game, so he gets a fair shake against later contenders.

It may not be soon, but he'll make it.
   3. ronw Posted: September 07, 2004 at 05:56 PM (#840794)
Random thought:

Whether to support Beckley (and Jennings) comes down to your personal definition of Merit.

For some Merit is more heavily weighed toward excellent seasons. For others, its an excellent career. For most, some combination is necessary.

Beckley is the extreme career. He never had an excellent season, despite what some have tried to argue. He was probably never the best player on his own team in any season.

Jennings is the extreme peak. He had five excellent seasons, when he was the best player in the league.

When trying to justify why I support career (Beckley, Van Haltren, Ryan, Hooper and Taylor all regularly make my ballot) over peak (Jennings, Waddell and Joss do not) I apply my understanding of the work environment. All of our candidates considered baseball a career.

If you work for almost any company, there will be superstar employees, who work for a few years, then leave. During the time they were there, they were great, productive employees, they brought revenue in, everyone enjoyed working with them.

Then there are the long-time, steady employees, who never do anything spectacular, but are solid, don't slack off, and are reasonably productive. They stay at the company for twenty or more years.

Both have Merit to the company. My conservative nature just rewards the long careers more.
   4. andrew siegel Posted: September 07, 2004 at 06:07 PM (#840812)
Beckley is absolutely a career candidate. He's also a career candidate who bedevils those of us who are mostly peak/prime voters but who are willing to honor long steady careers if the usual level of play was very good. Whether Beckley was ever "very good" comes down to how much DEFENSIVE value he deserves for his play at 1B. If he only had as much defensive value as a solid corner OF, he's out in my book. If he had as much or more value as a fairly good CF, he's in in my book. I'm still on the fence with that question.
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2004 at 06:21 PM (#840840)
While I don't think Beckley was a great peak player, I do think that WS and WARP don't measure first basemen very well for his era. Taking that into account, he's better than many think he is, IMO.
   6. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 07, 2004 at 07:17 PM (#840933)
Whether to support Beckley (and Jennings) comes down to your personal definition of Merit.

That's pretty much how I see it, so even though I have JB higher than most I rarely ever campaign for him.
   7. karlmagnus Posted: September 07, 2004 at 07:37 PM (#840964)
The hitting's fairly cut and dried (though the triples/home runs split has to be placed in context -- Beckley was a slugger for his time.) However, it would be helpful if some kind sabermetrician could determine precisely where on the defensive spectrum 1B stood in the 1890s. That might not change Chris J's vote, but it would affect Andrew Siegel's, and is important factual (i.e. not "What is Merit?") information.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 07, 2004 at 07:51 PM (#840988)
I think KJOK felt that first base was to the the right of centerfielders on the defensive spectrum during the Deadball Era (I think he was also inlcluding the 1890s). That was a thirty year span where offense dried up (relatively) at that position. It's too long of a period to chalk up as just bad luck, IMO.
   9. PhillyBooster Posted: September 08, 2004 at 01:37 PM (#842543)
Between 1889 and 1905 -- the 17 seasons that Beckley was the starting first baseman for his team -- Beckley played over 2200 games at 1B.

I looked at EVERY first baseman who played at least 300 games at first base over that period, including direct contemporaries, earlier stars whose careers ended in the 1890s, and early 20th century players.

I took each players' total plate appearances in his career, and subtracted out from that number his plate appearances for each year in which his OPS+ was below 100.

Here are the Top 13 (including the Top 10 non-HoMers):

PA........Name (careers OPS+)
10822....Anson (141)
9999.....Beckley (125)
8740.....Connor (154)
7640.....Brouthers (170)
6601.....Davis (119)
6151.....Anderson (114)
6088.....Tenney (109)
5302.....Larkin (141)
4939.....McGann (117)
4844.....Chance (135)
4599.....Freeman (132)
4327.....Jennings (117)
4095.....Reilly (128)


Note that Jake Beckley has MORE THAN 50% MORE Plate Appearances in "good" years than any other non-HoM first baseman. He's got nearly twice as many Plate Appearances in "good" years than the next non-HoM first baseman with a higher OPS+.

The gap between Beckley and the rest of the first basemen is huge. And I think these numbers are the evidence that Beckley's position was a lot more difficult then. Players simply did not rack up long careers as productive first basemen.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 08, 2004 at 01:59 PM (#842576)
The question of the defensive spectrum in 1890s baseball is kind of puzzling. I play in a vintage baseball league where we play 1861 rules (1 bounce, fair-foul is legal, underhand pitching and pretty slow, etc). Under these conditions, the defensive spectrum appears to go something like this:

rf 2b cf 1b lf ss 3b c

By Beckley's day, primitive gloves were around, and, presumably, a few more lefties would bat than in 1861. Does anyone think the defensive spectrum of beckley's day would be closer to the one I listed above for 1861 or closer to a more modern one?
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2004 at 02:17 PM (#842600)
Does anyone think the defensive spectrum of beckley's day would be closer to the one I listed above for 1861 or closer to a more modern one?

For the Deadball Era, probably closer to the above defensive spectrum for first basemen.

The 1880s resembles the more modern defensive spectrum for first basemen,
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: September 09, 2004 at 09:16 PM (#845633)
In 1904, at age 36, Beckley had an OPS+ of 144.
He hit .325 when the league hit .253, he OBPd .375 vs a .325 league mark, and his .778 OPS beat the league's by 150 pts.
He was 3rd in avg, 8th in OBP, 10th in slugging, 7th in OPS, 2nd in hits, 5th in total bases, and 9th in RBI.

MVP candidate? Not quite.
But that OPS+ is five pts higher than Van Haltren ever got. And Beckley wasn't 20 paces behind the 1904 marks in other years, either.

I'm not Beckley's biggest fan, but lack of a great peak doesn't mean he was some replacement player out there, either. He was damn good, for a remarkably long time.

One issue I have, though, is anecdotal evidence that he had an inaccurate throwing arm, which mattered more then than now.
   13. Paul Wendt Posted: March 16, 2005 at 08:01 PM (#1201636)
Someone identified a peak, 1889-1896 or so.
I don't see it.

Indeed, note the unusual career pattern measured by OPS+ (right, OPS+ isn't everything). Beckley played 20 seasons, 1888-1907, of which the middle 18 were reasonably full.

Best seasons by OPS+: 1888 (debut part-season, age 20), 1890, 1904 (17th season, we eat away at the margins of his career). Those are his three (or 2.5) seasons at 140 or better. During the intervening 13 seasons, Beckley played 6- with Pittsburgh and 7- with Cincinnati, sandwiched around two part-seasons with New York to be subsumed here. For those 13 seasons only, OPS+ in descending order:
Pit: 127 126 126 124 105 102 (age 23-28)
Cin: 138 133 131 128 126 122 112 (age 29-35)

Odd.

On the whole 20 years, Beckley was relatively better at bat when conditions were relatively worse for batters. Thus his playing statistics, raw or adjusted for season length only, probably make him look even more consistent than he was. performance.

Team leadership in batting categories except SO, Sac (* tie):
1889: G, AB, H, TB, 1B, HR, EBH, R, RBI, Power/Speed (Carroll dominates rates and leads 3B, BB, HB, OnB)
1890: BA, SLG, OPS, OPS+, H, TB, 2B, 3B*, HR*, EBH, RBI (Beckley dominant)
1891: BA, SLG, OPS, OPS+, AB, H, TB, 2B, 3B, HR*, EBH, R, RBI (Beckley dominant)
1892: TB, 2B, 3B, HR, EBH, HB, RBI, Power/Speed (Smith dominates rates)
1893: G*, AB, 2B, EBH*, HB, RBI (Smith dominant)
1894: HB (Stenzel dominant)
1895: G*, AB, 3B, HB, RBI (Stenzel dominant)
1896: (Smith dominant)

Beckley was Cincinnati's dominant batter in 1899 and its best in 1897 and 1900 (Smith 1898, Crawford 1901-02, Donlin 1903). He was one St Louis leader in 1904.
   14. jimd Posted: April 26, 2005 at 04:23 PM (#1289217)
(For comparison with Kelly's Win Share analysis.)

Top 8 1b-men (by WARP) each season of Beckley's career

1888 CONNOR, BROUTHERS, Reilly, Anson, tucker, orr, beckley, comiskey
1889 Connor, Brouthers, anson, tucker, orr, beckley, hines, reilly
1890 CONNOR, beckley, anson, tucker, foutz, larkin, reilly, brouthers, orr, werden, virtue, taylor
1891 Connor, anson, brouthers, beckley, werden, foutz, taylor, virtue
1892 BROUTHERS, CONNOR, virtue, werden, ewing, beckley, (larkin, anson)
1893 Connor, brouthers, beckley, werden, anson, boyle, (g.tebeau, w.brown)
1894 brouthers, beckley, anson, doyle, connor, cartwright, (tucker, foutz)
1895 cartwright, connor, beckley, lachance, anson, ewing, (tucker, carey)
1896 doyle, connor, beckley, lachance, brouthers, anson, (ewing, cartwright)
1897 Lajoie, werden, doyle, lachance, tenney, clark, (beckley, tucker)
1898 McGann, joyce, beckley, everitt, wagner, tenney, (h.davis, p.tebeau)
1899 Tenney, beckley, mcgann, lachance, everitt, clark, (doyle, cooley)
1900 beckley, mcgann, delahanty, jennings, (ganzel, tenney, o'brien, doyle)
1901 beckley, kelley, h.davis, anderson, freeman, mcgann, lachance, bransfield
1902 Hickman, tenney, mcgann, carey, h.davis, bransfield, beckley, lachance
1903 Chance, anderson, ganzel, doyle, carr, beckley, tenney, h.davis
1904 chance, h.davis, beckley, tenney, mcgann, ganzel, j.stahl, j.donahue
1905 H.DAVIS, Chance, mcgann, tenney, j.donahue, beckley, j.stahl, gessler
1906 CHANCE, H.Davis, t.jones, chase, tenney, nealon, rossman, jordan (15th beckley)

All-Caps (e.g. CONNOR) -- makes list of top-16 players in MLB (top-12 before 1901)
Capitalized (e.g. Chance) -- makes list of top-32 players in MLB (top-24 before 1901)
In parentheses () -- makes list of top-8 1b-men but below median starter
   15. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 26, 2005 at 08:05 PM (#1289828)
Am I reading your chart right in that Jake Beckley was never one of the 32 best players in baseball according to WARP? That is ever worse than I was anticipating. I figured he had climbed into the top 15 or so a time or two.
   16. Gary A Posted: April 26, 2005 at 08:45 PM (#1289926)
Was Perry Werden as good as Jake Beckley? Looking over jimd's list in #14 of the top 1b by WARP each year, this is how they compare in the years they were both regulars in the majors:

1890: Beckley 2nd, Werden 10th
1891: Beckley 4th, Werden 5th
1892: Werden 4th, Beckley 6th
1893: Beckley 3rd, Werden 4th
1897: Werden 2nd, Beckley 7th

In 1894 Beckley was 2nd in WARP among ML 1B. Werden went to Minneapolis of the Western League (the top minor league of the time) and hit .417 with 43 home runs, a record for organized baseball at the time.

In 1895, Beckley was the third best ML 1B. At Minneapolis, Werden hit .428 with 45 home runs.

In 1896, Beckley was again third among ML 1Bs. Minneapolis renovated their park, and Werden hit only .377, with 42 doubles, 18 triples, and 18 home runs.

In 1898 Beckley was the third-best 1B. Werden broke his leg and missed the whole year.

In 1899 Beckley was the second-best 1B. Werden hit .346 at Minneapolis.

In 1900, Beckley was the best 1B in the NL, and Werden was probably the best 1B in the AL, though it wasn't a major league yet. He hit .315 and led the league in doubles and homers.

They were certainly comparable in some ways, power hitters with long careers who hit a ton of triples. Werden played in either the majors or the high minors from 1884 through 1902 (and for four more seasons in lower leagues after that).

It would be interesting to see Werden's MLEs, anyway.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1289960)
Didn't Werden play in a great hitter's park?
   18. karlmagnus Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1289966)
Werden had 773 major league hits. Stop wasting everybody's time with nonsense.
   19. Gary A Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:09 PM (#1289985)
John, yes, it was a great park in Minneapolis. I think other players benefited from it, too, though offhand I can't recall who. Still, 88 home runs in two years is an awful lot for the 1890s, and I'm certain he was at least as good a hitter as Beckley during those years (and very probably better). Overall, his career probably wasn't long enough to match Beckley.

Karl, if you can't be civil, just shut the #### up.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:10 PM (#1289990)
Werden had 773 major league hits. Stop wasting everybody's time with nonsense.

I don't see Werden as close to Beckley career-wise myself, but if Werden was stuck in the minors when he could have played in the majors, MLEs would be fun to check out for him.
   21. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:14 PM (#1289996)
Still, 88 home runs in two years is an awful lot for the 1890s, and I'm certain he was at least as good a hitter as Beckley during those years (and very probably better).

That's Beckley's problem. There were too many guys that were as good as him each season. His HoM case rest solely on his career numbers (where he tops everybody from his era).

As for Werden, there's no denying that he could hit.
   22. karlmagnus Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:20 PM (#1290005)
By all means check out MLEs, but I can't see how they can come to 2930 hits or anything close. Also Werden's only OPS+ over 123 was in the 1890 AA, which was barely a major league (AA in general was OK, but not in 1890.)

Beckley is VERY close in career pattern to Paul Waner. Even in terms of peak, there's very little in it; both Beckley and Waner had a peak year OPS+ of 157, and Beckley played a (somewhat) more difficult fielding position. People rag on Beckley's peak because it didn't come in consecutive seasons, but it's there.
   23. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:24 PM (#1290014)
Even in terms of peak, there's very little in it; both Beckley and Waner had a peak year OPS+ of 157, and Beckley played a (somewhat) more difficult fielding position.

Except that Waner can be argued to be the best player in his league twice, while Beckley was probably the best first baseman only twice in his league.
   24. karlmagnus Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:25 PM (#1290016)
Gary A, your question to open 16 was nonsense, as you know perfectly well. 45 home runs in a minor league park does not make Werden a great ballplayer and the fact that he only played 5 full sesons, one of them in the 1890AA, indicates this. In his major league career, he simply wasn't that good; it's not a matter reasonable people can debate, it's blindingly obvious. If you refuse to make rational use of evidence, there's no point in discussing the matter.
   25. karlmagnus Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:26 PM (#1290020)
John, in most of Beckley's career there was only 1 league; Waner was never close to the best player in baseball, because of Ruth/Gehrig/Foxx, for a start.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:32 PM (#1290035)
John, in most of Beckley's career there was only 1 league; Waner was never close to the best player in baseball, because of Ruth/Gehrig/Foxx, for a start.

This is all true, karlmagnus, but Waner was a lot closer to being the best in the majors than Beckley ever was.
   27. karlmagnus Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:38 PM (#1290051)
John, probably not true actually, because Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx are all much better than Ed Delahanty, who I suppose was the best hitter of Beckley's period. Depends whether you define "close to the best in the majors" by distance from the peak or by number of competitors who were better/as good.
   28. Chris Cobb Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:42 PM (#1290064)
Perry Werden -- unlikely but real source of controversy in the HoM??

Long-time voters may remember that Perry Werden received a vote for the HoM once, which created a flap over legitimate and illegitimate uses of the #15 slot on the ballot. I can't remember who cast this contoversial vote, but I'm sure there are ballot historians out there who could tell us . . .
   29. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:42 PM (#1290065)
Jeke Beckley's best Eqa in a season with at least 400 AB's ( adujsuted for season so no timelining here) was .308 in 1904. Waner had two seasons at .308, and five seasons with at .east a .316, peaking at .332 in 1934.

Waner's career Eqa is .307 in 9459 AB's, Beckley's was .290 in 9526 AB's. Now beckley played shorter seasons, but I htink we can agree that the 1930's NL was a higher quality league than the 1890's NL. At least its a wash bewteen playing time and league strength. And waner still best him by 17 points of Eqa.

Why? Well for one reason OPS+ is a deeply flawed stats that rates SLG and OBP evenly, when OBP is a much more important stat. I realize taht OPS+ takes some of that away from OPS, but not entirely. Beckley was a slugger for his era, Waner hit for great average and therefore was an OBP star more than a slugger. Eqa also takes into account baserunning which may or may not have an effect.

And I am not convinced that Beckley should be given much more defensive value. I can buy the argue that he deserves a little more, but it isnt' like he was a defensive superstar out there.

I honestly dont' see how it is even close.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 26, 2005 at 09:46 PM (#1290074)
I can't remember who cast this contoversial vote, but I'm sure there are ballot historians out there who could tell us .

I believe it was Dolf Lucky (or Mark McKinniss), IIRC.
   31. jimd Posted: April 26, 2005 at 10:35 PM (#1290153)
Am I reading your chart right in that Jake Beckley was never one of the 32 best players in baseball according to WARP?

No. I use a 24-count for All-Star teams pre-AL (it's in the fine-print). I have him ranked at 28 in 1890, 30 in 1899, and 25 in 1900, his three best years. He still makes the team because they need somebody to play 1st-base.
   32. jimd Posted: April 26, 2005 at 10:56 PM (#1290197)
1900 is Beckley's best under Win Shares where he placed in a 5-way tie for 17-21 place. He has no other top-32 appearances that I am aware of.
   33. KJOK Posted: April 26, 2005 at 11:22 PM (#1290307)
I think KJOK felt that first base was to the the right of centerfielders on the defensive spectrum during the Deadball Era (I think he was also inlcluding the 1890s). That was a thirty year span where offense dried up (relatively) at that position. It's too long of a period to chalk up as just bad luck, IMO.

Just looking at 1888-1907, which exactly spans Beckley's career, here are the OPS figures by position for all major leagues:

LF - .748
CF - .733
RF - .732
1B - .721
AVE EXCl P - .698
3B - .680
2B - .673
SS - .667
C - .635
   34. DavidFoss Posted: April 26, 2005 at 11:23 PM (#1290310)
both Beckley and Waner had a peak year OPS+ of 157

1888 is nice, but its just a half-season for Beckley.

JB -- (157)-152-144-138-133-131-128-etc
PW -- 157 -155-155-154-147-144-135-134-132-etc
   35. jimd Posted: April 26, 2005 at 11:34 PM (#1290367)
Yes, but there is a huge gap between the "bats" and the "gloves".

LF - .748


CF - .733
RF - .732

1B - .721



                           AVE EXCl P - .698



3B - .680
2B - .673
SS - .667






C - .635
(Reformatted to approximate scale)
   36. jimd Posted: April 26, 2005 at 11:39 PM (#1290393)
And 1B is still definitely a bat. (And CF'ers hit much, much more then than they do today; let's not think of modern CF'ers when we do this comparison. James' CF range-bonus gives too much fielding credit to CF'ers of this era.)
   37. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 26, 2005 at 11:40 PM (#1290395)
While it looks like 1B had a lower offensive level than the outfielders, first base is a good bit above average and was still an 'offensive' position.

I don't think the era that spans between ABC and Gehrig would be that dry if the position hadn't had such bad luck, i.e. Chance's being made of glass and Sisler's sinus infection. Both (and maybe Fournier as well) had HOM careers going but couldnt' sustain it.
   38. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 27, 2005 at 12:38 AM (#1290743)
I don't think the era that spans between ABC and Gehrig would be that dry if the position hadn't had such bad luck, i.e. Chance's being made of glass and Sisler's sinus infection.

That Chance was able to walk at all after all of his beanings makes me believe that we should all be made of glass like him. :-)
   39. jimd Posted: April 27, 2005 at 09:18 PM (#1293709)
The Beckley discussion keeps breaking out on the 1950 ballot thread. I'll continue to post my responses here.

Beckley appears to make the top twenty in 1900, IMO.

Top 24 by Win Shares 1900: (Beckley tied 17-21)
34 Wagner, 32 Flick, 30 McGinnity, 27 Dinneen,
27 Selbach, 25 Thomas, Burkett, 23 Phillippe,
23 Tannehill, Kennedy, Hamilton, Barrett,
22 Young, Lajoie, Keeler, Kelley,
21 Hahn, McGraw, Dahlen, Beckley,
21 VanHaltren, 20 Leever, Mercer, FJones

Top 25 by WARP 1900: (Beckley tied 23-25)
11.5 Wagner, 11.4 Selbach, 11.2 Flick, 10.4 Lajoie,
10.2 Davis, 10.2 Dahlen, 9.9 Burkett, 9.7 Young,
9.2 Hamilton, 9.1 Thomas, 9.0 Keeler, 8.8 Hahn,
8.4 Barrett, 8.4 VanHaltren, 8.4 Collins, 8.3 Kelley,
8.1 McGraw, 7.9 Ritchey, 7.6 FJones, 7.3 Mercer,
7.2 Long, 7.0 Cross, 6.5 Griffith, 6.5 Wallace, 6.5 Beckley

Biggest Disagreements (expressed in WS equivalents):
WiSh: McGinnity +15, Dinneen +8, Kennedy +6, Phillippe +5, Tannehill +5
WARP: Davis +13, Dahlen +10, Lajoie +9, Long +9, Ritchey +8

Note that these figures are from an older edition of WARP (last fall). There have been changes in the interim that increase pitchers somewhat at the expense of fielders.

However, there is still a major disagreement of opinion between the two systems regarding the pitching/fielding split. This tends to manifest as significant differences in value during the pre-1920 era for top glove IF'ers (WARP likes them) and the pitchers they assisted (Win Shares likes them).
   40. DavidFoss Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:28 PM (#1998179)
For those who are not in the yahoo group, Joe Dimino posted this message that Bill James posted to another group (StatisticalAnalysis):


Re: [StatisticalAnalysis] Re: Errors in OBP


1) Juan Samuel reached on error 98 times in his career; George Foster, in a career about 18% longer, 108 times. . . .Samuel's ratio is higher than Foster's, but not much higher.

2) I wonder if there is any merit in contrasting this figure with GIDP? GIDP and ROE are somewhat similar plays. . .both happen on ground balls (most of the time), both involve speed to an extent, hustle to an extent. Samuel's ratio is 98-81; Foster's 108-196. I wonder if this is really a measure of anything?

3) Rabbit Maranville is 26th on the all-time list of plate appearances, and, since he didn't strike out or walk much or hit any homers to speak of, would be higher than that on a list of balls put in play. Let's see. . .I think he is 15th on the list of all-time balls in play.

4) The other top candidates for this would appear to be Cobb, Wagner, Speaker, Eddie Collins, Lajoie, Crawford, Beckley and Lave Cross.

Bill


Then Joe writes above the quote:

Note Mr. Beckley in #4 below . . . another nudge in his favor?
   41. DavidFoss Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:39 PM (#1998184)
Back to my own thoughts now...

This issue has come up in the past here before. There was a rash of posts in the 1930s that were essentially anti-Pike posts where people brought up the fact that he was left-handed in a high-error league. Lefties hit fewer ground balls to the left side, meaning fewer ROE's, meaning effectively a lower "OBP".

At the time, I thought this was a big reach. I mean, why give bonuses to guys who hit grounders to the 3B & SS?

Wait. Beckley is left-handed! He showed up on the list because he has a long career and low K/BB/HR rates, but I think he benefits enough from hitting balls to RF instead of LF (ask karl about the triples) and ROE's are much more likely on balls hit to SS & 3B.

He's got a decent enough candidacy given the standard metrics. Trying to credit him for fielder miscues just seems desperate.
   42. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:45 PM (#1998189)
(ask karl about the triples)

Why? Has he mentioned them?

;-)
   43. rawagman Posted: May 06, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2007613)
Jake Beckley is a white version of Ben Taylor?

A nice topic for discussion? Both players had almost no peak, not too much power, everlasting primes, and good gloves.
I think Taylor had a better glove, but Beckley might have had a few years where he was prime +.

I think both of these men are worthy HoMers. I have them ranked 9 (BT) and 10 (JB) as of this tally.

The MLE's give Beckley an advatage of around 500 PA's for his career. Taylor bests him in terms of OPS+ by around 7(?).

Off topic, as a hitter, did anyone else notice the similarities in George Sisler's career path to that of Tony Gwynn?
   44. DavidFoss Posted: May 07, 2006 at 01:04 AM (#2008109)
Off topic, as a hitter, did anyone else notice the similarities in George Sisler's career path to that of Tony Gwynn?

Similarity scores are not park & era adjusted and are weighted towards traditional stats.

Its pretty hard to find guys that hit around .340, steal 300 bases with gap power but few homers and have absurdly low K rates.

Both experienced sizable context shifts in mid-career a low-offense to high-offense.

There is significant difference in their career shapes, though. Sisler's got the big early peak, the year off, then a period of durable mediocrity. Gwynn's got a decent early prime (with a spike in 1987) and then a period in his mid-thirties with great rate stats, but some in-season durability problems.
   45. karlmagnus Posted: July 10, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2094218)
I don't buy the argument that Grimes is the equal of Beckley, even though both are long carerer players without great peaks. If you assume we elect twice as many position players as pitchers, then the 100th best position player OPS+ (136) is equal in Merit to the 50th best pitcher OPS+ (126). You can then adjust for extreme fielding positions, so a sluggish corner outfielder would need a 146 to be equivalent to a 126 pitcher, while a wizard SS might only need a 121. Clearly also long careers are more Meritorious than short, so we can't just elect the top 50 ERA+ pitchers the top 100 OPS+ hitters and go home.

Beckley's OPS+ 125 is then 11 below the 100th best hitter from what in the 1890s was about an average fielding position (but his career is exceptionally long, which is why he has Merit.) That makes it equivalent to an ERA+ of 115 on pitchers.

We've elected several long career pitchers with an ERA+ around 115 and 4000IP; they would include Rixey (4484/115) Faber (4086/119) Lyons (4161/118) Ruffing (4344/109) Wynn (4564/106 and Roberts (4689/113) Indeed we haven't NOT elected any 20th century pitcher with 4000 IP and an ERA+ above 110 (Willis 3996/118 and Quinn 3920/114 come closest.)

Grimes has an ERA+ of 107 on 4180IP so doesn't fall in the same group.

Not to knock Grimes, really, but I think this is a useful benchmarking exercise.
   46. karlmagnus Posted: July 10, 2006 at 05:15 PM (#2094229)
Line 3 "50th best pitcher ERA+" Dammit!
   47. sunnyday2 Posted: July 10, 2006 at 05:24 PM (#2094241)
Of course, neither does Early Wynn fall in the same group. (Which is not a knock on Beckley or Grimes, but rather on Wynn.)
   48. karlmagnus Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:16 PM (#2104557)
100 years ago, Beckley was playing his last full season, about to retire as the second most prolific hitter of all time after Cap Anson. To see what that means, suppose baseball had started in full swing in 1971, so that only records since that time existed. In that case Pete Rose would have only about 2700 hits; the all time hit leader would be Paul Molitor at 3319 followed by Murray at 3255 and Ripken at 3184. Beckley, adjusting his career for modern 162 game season length, would again be second, somewhere around 3250-3300.

I'm not sure what this means, except that it shows that dominating the stats of a baseball that's 35 years old is itself a Meritorious achivement; Molitor and Murray are probably quite good comps for Jake.
   49. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#2104578)
Beckley isn't close to being an inner-circle HoMer, but he's still a helluva lot better than Mark Grace (who was pretty good in his own right) when comparing both of them to their competition and position responsibilities.
   50. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:44 PM (#2104592)
Um, Beckley played in sa pretty high BA era with a lot of hits, if you want to put him with modern players you should probably adjust for that.

And isn't it pretty random to negate all hits before 1971? Couldn't we have picked say, 61-96, or 64-99 so as to include most all of Rose's career AND Molitor's? Just asking.

I will admit that he is probably better than Grace (though Grace had the better peak) but disagree about Palmeiro. I just dont 'like electing anyone who was never a great player. I saw Melky, a guy who calls himself a peak voter, had him at #21. Sounds like a contradiction but then I, as a self avowed peak voter, voted fo rhim in my first election before I wisened up.
   51. Willie Mays Hayes Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:56 PM (#2104599)
I will admit that he is probably better than Grace (though Grace had the better peak) but disagree about Palmeiro. I just dont 'like electing anyone who was never a great player. I saw Melky, a guy who calls himself a peak voter, had him at #21. Sounds like a contradiction but then I, as a self avowed peak voter, voted fo rhim in my first election before I wisened up.


Perhaps I should have phrased it as a wealthy man's Grace, though after seeing the Palmeiro comp, maybe he's a rather poor man's Palmeiro. As for my tendencies, I am a peak guy, but not extreme, as evidenced by my placement of GVH, in that I value a tremendous peak more than a solid career. I certainly appreciate a long productive career, however. I don't appreciate a career where a guy "hangs on" for 3-5 years and adds to his counting stats. As for Beckley, 21 feels right for him right now. I don't feel that he was that far above his contemporaries that he belongs in the HOM at this time. Two of his peak years (1892 and 1896) were just blah, and that counts for something. Having said that, discounting his age 38 and 39 seasons, he never was below league average for a hitter, and that also counts in my book.
   52. rawagman Posted: July 19, 2006 at 03:06 PM (#2104610)
Melky - I recommend that you take a look at Ben Taylor. Not everyone agrees with me, but he looks like a rich man's Beckley. A very rich man.
   53. Willie Mays Hayes Posted: July 19, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2104619)
Melky - I recommend that you take a look at Ben Taylor. Not everyone agrees with me, but he looks like a rich man's Beckley. A very rich man.


I have Taylor somewhere below Beckley, forgive me for not knowing exactly where, as my spreadsheet is at home, and I'm at work. Taylor seems closer to Grace than Beckley, both with the stick and the glove. I know I have Taylor somewhere north of 30, and for some reason I want to say 26. My 21-30 are all very close in terms of value, however.
   54. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 20, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2104782)
Moving this over from the 1981 ballot thread

I think Grace is a near-perfect comp for their best respective 10 years. But Graces loses about 75 WS after that. Here's some guys who Bekcley could be compared to either in terms of peak/prime or else career value (these are 162 adjusted WS with war credit for Vernon).
NAME       3   5  10  15 CAREER
-------------------------------
BECKLEY   76 122 231 329  380

         
<peak comparitives*>
GRACE     78 126 227 301  302
DAUBERT   79 123 217 282  282
GALARRAGA 77 120 207 255  260
MORRILL   78 120 213 253  253
WERTZ     77 122 190 228  230
WHITE
B  77 121 200 212  212
HARGROVE  74 120 205 220  220 

        
<career comparitives>
PALMEIRO  92 143 262 362  406
VERNON    90 135 237 318  352
McGRIFF   86 137 248 324  349

*all within four WS in 3-yearnonconsecutive peak and above 120 WS in 5-yearnonconsecutive peak.
**
all above 349 career WS with 3-yearnonconseuctive peak of 92 or less


I think it should be obvious from this chart that the paucity of peak cannot be understated. But also that while his career is quite lengthy and consistent, even at its long length, he's nowhere near the candidate that Vernon and McGriff are, let alone Palmeiro whom he's often copared to. Beckley is just not as good as these guys from a value perspective--not nearly.

Alright, but what about that 1B was tougher then and WS doesn't account for it? Even generously adding a WS a year (roughly 50% on most seasons) for playing 1B in a more difficult time would only increase his peak to 79 WS over three years. His peak still ranks with Grace's and might look as good as like Fred Tenney's. Adding these fielding WS would get him almost even with Palmeiro on career, but it doesn't change the fact that Palmeiro walks all over Beckley's peak and prime.

I'm convinced, and have been for a while, that Beckley is, valuewise, Mark Grace+4, where the four represents four standard-issue mid-90s Grace seasons of about 20 WS in value. Does that impress anyone outside of Wrigleyville? Deep in their hearts? Given how much seperation exists in the peak/prime gap between Beckley and other, more contemporary long-career/moderate-peak 1Bs (not only Palmeiro but also Perez and Murray, let alone McGriff and Vernon), labeling Beckley as the earlier incarnation of them seems inaccurate.
   55. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 20, 2006 at 04:06 PM (#2104783)
Another side of Jake Beckley

So yesterday I offered some points of comparison for Beckley from a value-based point of view. This led me to ask: Who is Beckley like in terms of performance?

bb-ref’s sim scores don’t really address this matter to my satisfaction because the numbers are not league and park adjusted. So I used the SBE’s sorting feature to make a quick pass through baseball history to see who resembled Beckley. I was curious to know if my preconceived notions of Beckley were overwrought because I’ve been somewhat strident in my non-support for him. I started by seeing how Beckley’s AVG, OBP, and SLG compared to the park-adjusted league average that the SBE reports. I used the SBE to create AVG+, OBP+, and SLG+ numbers from them. Then I realized that it was also important to account in some way for the run environment: a 118 SLG+, for instance, would be more meaningful in some run environments than in others. So I also created a RC/G+ report for Beckley. Here’s how he comes out against the league averages:

NAME           AVG+  OBPSLGRC/G+
------------------------------------
Jake Beckley   111   105  118  120 


The sorting features of the SBE allowed me to zero in on every player in MLB history with 5000+ PAs whose adjusted rates were within five points of Beckley’s in each category. Eighteen players came up. To see exactly how close each compared to Beckley, I compared their adjusted rate to his in each category, multiplied each by 100 to get an adjusted vs. BECKS rate, then finally summed the rates, subtracted 300, and got BECKS+, the final comparative score that would tell me who was closest to Eagle Eye.

Of the nineteen players whose sorts came the closest to Beckley, the following seven hewed most closely to him, their BECKS+ falling within two points of his.

[scores vsleague] |  [scores vs Beckley]  |
NAME             AVG+  OBPSLGRC/G+ | AVG+  OBPSLGRC/G+ | BECKS+
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Tony Perez       107   104  120   123  |  96    99   102  103  |  100
Dave Parker      110   102  120   122  
|  99    97   102  102  |  100
Vern Stephens    107   103  120   124  
|  96    98   102  103  |  100

Heinie Zimmerman 113   101  120   122  
102    96   102  102  |  101
Al Oliver        115   104  116   120  
104    99    98  100  |  101

Ernie Lombardi   111   106  118   116  
100   101   100   97  |   98
Harold Baines    109   107  114   121  
|  98   102    97  101  |   98 


The other eleven players and their BECKS+ scores were Cecil Cooper (104); Ken Boyer and Willie Horton (97), Cesar Cedeno, Ryne Sandberg, Jeff Kent, Paul O’Neill, and Ed Konetchy (96); Irish Meusel (94); Jim Northrup (90); and Vada Pinson (88).

I felt like this was an entirely reasonable result given what I know about Beckley and the other eighteen players involved. It supported my preconceived idea that Beckley was at best as good as borderliner candidates like Tony Perez, Dave Parker, and Vern Stephens. But Stephens’ presence, as well as Sandberg’s and Kent’s down the list, made me wonder if there was any positional effect. So I reran the data. First I found Beckley’s rates vs. his position.
[vs position only]
NAME           AVG
+  OBPSLGRC/G+
------------------------------------
Jake Beckley   108   103  113   114 


Notice that Beckley loses a fair degree of production when compared to his own position, especially in RC/G, which slides 6 points. I re-ran the sorting mechanism to pick up all players whose adjusted versus-position rates were within five points of Beckley’s in each category. This time I got thirty-three players in return. These ten came closest to Jake, within two BECKS+ points:

[scores vsposition] |  [scores vs Beckley]  |
NAME             AVG+  OBPSLGRC/G+ | AVG+  OBPSLGRC/G+ | BECKS+
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cesar Cedeno     106   104  111   116  |  98   102    98  102  |  100
Mike Higgins     106   106  109   115  
|  99   100   100  101  |  100
Dave Concepcion  107   106  110   116  
101   104    93  102  |  100
Bobby Wallace    106   105  110   117  
|  98    99   100  103  |  100

Ken Boyer        109   104  112   117  
|  98    98   102  103  |  101

Babe Herman      106   103  114   118  
|  95    99   101  104  |   99
Al Oliver        112   101  109   108  
102   103    99   95  |   99

Bobby Avila      107   108  108   117  
|  99   105    96  103  |  102
Edd Roush        111   106  110   117  
102   104    93  103  |  102

Chick Stahl      106   106  111   117  
|  99   101    95  103  |   98 


The other twenty three guys: Fred Clarke (109); Jimmy Ryan (108); Del Pratt (107); Hal Chase (106); Danny Murphy and Ted Kluszewski (104); Sam Wise and Hugh Duffy (103); Richie Zisk, Cecil Cooper, and Duke Farrell (97); Tom Burns (96); Ginger Beaumont and Artie Fletcher (95); Terry Steinbach (94); Dave Parker, Johnny Ray, Hans Lobert, and Leo Cardenas (93); Andres Galarraga (91); Carl Furillo (89); Freddie Lindstrom and Pink Whitney (85).

I found this second result kind of puzzling. None of Beckley’s ten closest statistical comps were first basemen. In fact, the only first basemen in the entire group are Big Klu, Cooper, Chase, and Galarraga, none of whom is going into the HOM any time soon. Fred Clarke is probably the most impressive name on this list, and he’s one of the furthest from Beckley. Among his closest comps, Higgins, Concepcion, and Wallace are OK-hitting infielders, the latter of which needed his good defense to get into the HOM. It’s possible, therefore that either
a) the sorting criteria is in some way underrating Beckley’s performance
b) the SBE’s by-position numbers are not representative of the positions
c) Beckley’s performance versus his own position was substantially less impressive than it may appear from his 125 OPS+.

Let’s take stock to see if what we’ve found supports any of the three previous possibities. First we sorted versus the leaguewide average of non-pitchers, and we got a result full of HOM candidates. Then we sorted by performance against players at the same position, and we got a list of guys who are by and large not impressive hitters or HOM-level players. Combined with the knowledge that Beckley played forever, was durable, and has a low peak valuewise, this result appears to support point (c) above. First basemen with low peaks aren’t great hitters, and this is consistent with Beckley’s first ending up looking like borderliners Perez, Baines, Oliver, and company and second coming up as an unimpressive hitter versus his positional contemporaries.

So what’s this mean to his candidacy? Well, if you’re a peak voter, you’re either glued to this or else not paying much attention because you already use this same kind of logic to whisk Beckley off of your ballot. How about career voters? Well, by and large, I think, they use the logic of “380 or so career WS is a ton and you can’t ignore it.” But I think you have to. Beckley’s performance, regardless of how long it went, is unimpressive except in its length—and even the length isn’t that impressive. Considered from a value standpoint, it’s even more damning. Fifteen WS seems to be the level of contribution from a typical regular. THT uses it as the basis for their WS Above Bench. Beckley played twenty seasons, during seventeen of which he could be essentially called a regular (which I’m defining as the equivalent of 400 PAs in a 162 season). In those years, his total WS Above Bench was 86, or 5.1 per year. His best five years in this regard were at 9, 9, 8, 8, and 7 WS Above Bench. Let’s put this in a chart and also display the same information for the moderate-peak/long career first basemen mentioned yesterday.

TOTAL     SEASONS           WSAB PER      TOP FIVE   
NAME       SEASONS   
AS REGULAR  WSAB  YEAR AS REG   WSAB SEASONS
------------------------------------------------------------------
Beckley      20         17        86      5.1        9  9  8  8  7    

Murray       21         20       153      7.7       18 16 16 16 14 
McGriff      19         15       108      7.2       17 15 12 11 10
Palmeiro     20         18       128      7.1       16 16 15 11 10
Perez        23         15        94      6.3       18 17 16 10 10
Grace        16         14        84      6.0       12 11 10 10  8  
Vernon       20         15        74      4.9       20 15 10  7  7 


One of these guys is not like the others. It’s Beckley of course. He’s nearly got the least WSAB per year, and he’s lucky that Vernon missed two prime years to the war or it would probably look worse for Jake. Look especially at how the others destroy Beckley in the Top-Five years. Now let’s look at the seven guys from our two SBE sorts that scored 100 on the BECKS+ scale.

TOTAL     SEASONS           WSAB PER      TOP FIVE   
NAME       SEASONS   
AS REGULAR  WSAB  YEAR AS REG   WSAB SEASONS
------------------------------------------------------------------
Beckley      20         17        86      5.1        9  9  8  8  7    

Stephens     15         10       101     10.1       21 19 13 11  9 
Wallace      25         15       102      6.8       15 11 11 11 10
Perez        23         15        94      6.3       18 17 16 10 10
Parker       19         15        79      5.3       22 18 16 14 11
Cedeno       17         13        70      5.4       18 18 15 15 12
Concepcion   19         13        40      3.1       14 10 10  9  8
Higgins      14         12        17      1.4        9  8  6  2  1 


This one’s more of a mixed bag. Among the top-notch players on this board, Beckley looks like Becks Lite in numerous ways. He’s only manifestly superior to one guy in the chart, Higgins. The merits of Beckley’s per-season WSAB over Concepcion’s are worth debating in light of Concepcion’s higher ceiling. In sum, against this group, it’s not the clear-cut loss that Beckley faced against the moderate-peak/long career first basemen who are his primary rivals, but it’s hardly an endorsement for HOM entrance either for a first baseman to say that he’s not only better than Pinky Higgins but also a light-hitting 1970s-era shortstop.

I think you all know where I stand. I came into this little project with a preconceived notion, used what I considered a fair and objective way to assess who Beckley compares favorably to, and found out that not only was my notion of him as an extreme borderliner supported, but also that there may be evidence to support the idea that he is less HOMable that I had originally considered him to be. In fact, at this point, I think Jake Beckley’s probably a lower-tier man for the HOVG, a guy who was neither an extraordinary hitter for his position, nor a great glove, but whose primary virtue is the hardiness of his constitution. He’s the ultimate career-only guy. After considering the information I’ve come up with, his arguments for the HOM are, in my opinion, mostly insubstantial and ignore the massive elephants in the room, that his batting prowess wasn’t all that great anyway, that his best seasons (really, all of his seasons) did much less to push his teams toward pennants than we expect from a HOMer, and that the difficulty of his defensive position at the time would had to have been akin to shortstop to make up for his offensive shortcomings.

None of this, by the way, is to say he’s not a good player. He was a very good player. But He’s one of the top 400-500 players, not one of the top 225 the HOM is searching for.
   56. karlmagnus Posted: July 20, 2006 at 04:11 PM (#2104785)
Total rubbish, because you haven't adjusted for the difference in fielding position value between the 1890s and today. The entire analysis therefore falls down. Furthermore many of your "comparables" have WAY shorter careers.
   57. TomH Posted: July 20, 2006 at 07:59 PM (#2105209)
I think an RCAP analysis would come closer to measuring Beckley against other first basemen from different eras than a WS analysis.
   58. TomH Posted: July 20, 2006 at 09:34 PM (#2105353)
R Palmeiro had 562 RCA average thru 2003, and 274 RCA position. He loses 288 runs when acounting for the fielding spot he played.
H Baines 284 RCAA 152 RCAP loss: 132 runs
E Murray 490 RCAA 267 RCAP loss: 223 runs
J Beckley 330 RCAA 245 RCAP loss: 85 runs

Merely by this analysis, one could add about 35 win shares (85 runs to about 200 = 115, or 11.5 wins, or 35 win shares, almost 2 per year) to Beckely's career total if WS did nothing to account for different value of 1B play in 1895.
   59. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 20, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#2105376)
Thanks, TomH,

If I understand correctly, it does not take outs into account. So to make things still more confusion, here's another way to look:

NAME     RC/G   POS RC/G   RATIO
---------------------------------
Palmeiro 6.95     5.95      117
Murray   6.05     5.36      113
Beckley  6.99     6.17      113
Baines   5.73     5.20      110 


Beckley does indeed resemble Murray and has a leg up on Baines, though as noted both Baines and Murray have some DH in there. Palmero is the one who tops the charts. I think John Murphy is right, however, in pointing out that Murray's multiple MVP-type performances and Beckley (and Baines') total lack of them are important factors in analyzing them. On the other hand, Palmeiro doesn't really have much in the way of hardware-level play. But then no one has said he's as good as Murray, only that he is better than Beckley.
   60. TomH Posted: July 20, 2006 at 11:45 PM (#2105541)
However, Beckley's advantage over Rafael (other than his lack of finger-wagging) was his durability:

most games played, 1888-1907
1 Jake Beckley 2386
2 Bill Dahlen 2226
3 Lave Cross 2221
4 George Davis 2212
5 Tommy Corcoran 2200
6 Jesse Burkett 2067
7 Kid Gleason 1963
most games played, 1986-2003
1 Barry Bonds 2569
2 Rafael Palmeiro 2567
3 Fred McGriff 2433
4 Cal Ripken 2333
5 Roberto Alomar 2323
6 Craig Biggio 2253
7 Mark Grace 2245
yes, the modern game is a bigger league, but Becks was da man for long career iron-man in his day
   61. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 21, 2006 at 12:22 AM (#2105641)
I'm sure this has been brought up before, but I wanted to also crack open the question of who Beckley, Raffy, and Murray were RCAPing against.

I spread out five years from each end of Beckley's career to capture the players who Beckley could have considered to be his positional competition. My sorting critieria was to pick the top fifty 1Bs with the most PAs in the period specified.

In the first third of his career, the following first baseman were alive and well, a group I would consider "pre-Beckleyites" (not listed in any order):

Anson
Connor
Brouthers
Comiskey
Reilly
Farrar
Orr
Larkin
Phillips
Morrill
Stovey
Stearns
McQuery
McKinnon
Kerins
O'Brien

The 1880s being a pretty good decade for 1Bs. the ABCs lasted until 1896-1897, but a lot of the AA guys were put out by the big contraction.

In the middle phase of Beckley's career he competed against this bunch, what I would call his true contemporaries:
Tenney
Tucker
McGann
LaChance
J Doyle
Tebeau
Werden
Anderson
Cartwright
Foutz
Virtue
Boyle
Everitt

This is, needless to say, a less than stellar group, especially by comparison to the first bunch.

In the final phase of Becks' career, these "post-Beckleyites" were his competition:
Davis
Bransfield
Chase
Jones
Stovall
Chance
Konetchy
Stahl
Donahue
Ganzel
Isbell
Hoblitzell
Jordan
Merkle
Rossman
Daubert
Unglaub
Carr
Douglass
Barry

Other than Chance, Konetchy, and a couple good Davis seasons, a pretty uninspiring bunch as well.

Here's the same lists for Murray: "pre," true contemproaries, and "post." I should note that I hand sorted them into these groups, and there may be guys who border between two groups that should move. Anyway
Pre-Murrays
Garvey
Chambliss
Cooper
Buckner
Perez
Mayberry
Carew
Montanez
Scott
Rose
Watson
May
Jorgensen
McCovey

Nice group. Not quite the ABCs, but probably a little more depth than the early Beckley years.

True Contemporaries
Hernandez
Mattingly
Hrbek
Thompson
O'Brien
Hargrove
Driessen
Upshaw
Brock
Bochte

Better than Beckley's contemporaries, for sure, but not overpowering.

Post-Murrays
McGriff
Grace
Palmeiro
Galarraga
W Clark
Joyner
Bagwell
McGwire
Olerud
Karros
Martinez
Vaughn
Snow
Fielder
Segui
Morris
Thomas
Young
Giambi
Delgado
A Davis
G Davis
Thome
Bream
T Clark

Wow. That's some stiff competition.

Now Palmeiro.

Pre-Rafaelite
Murray
Mattingly
Hrbek
O'Brien
Hernandez
Upshaw
Buckner
A Davis
Cooper
Brock
Garvey
Bream
Walker
Rose

Looks familiar, right?

True Contemporaries
McGriff
Grace
Bagwell
Olerud
Galarraga
W Clark
Joyner
McGwire
Karros
Vaughn
Fielder
Morris
Thomas
G Davis
Kruk

Tough cohort to compete in for sure. Lots of future HOMers there.

Post-Raffyalites
T Martinez
Snow
Delgado
Giambi
Helton
Thome
D Lee
Casey
T Clark
Segui
Konerko
K Young
Sexson
T Lee
Stevens
Brogna
Erstad
Colbrunn
Conine
Sweeney

Another tough bunch. 1985-2005 has been an amazing time for first baseman with great ones coming right after another.

If I had to assign a level of difficulty to each guy's positional competition it would go Raffy, Eddie, Beckley, with Eddie probably closer to Raffy than to Beckley. I suspect, but I cannot prove that this effects RCAP and other by-position measures, and it's why Beckley shows up as more like Al Oliver than Raffy Palmeiro when you take his component rate stats against positional competition. It's also why he's losing less against RCAP than the other guys I'd imagine.

So the quesiton becomes: is one 113 RC/G above position better than another 113 RC/G above position? [And no I wouldn't consider this a timelining issue, just a question of what it means when there's a soft spot in the position's history, much like the 1900s AL catching situation, or left field in the NL between Kiner and Williams, or SS in the NL from Vaughan through...Larkin.]
   62. Mike Webber Posted: July 21, 2006 at 02:15 AM (#2106054)
Tom wrote:
However, Beckley's advantage over Rafael (other than his lack of finger-wagging) was his durability:

most games played, 1888-1907
1 Jake Beckley 2386
2 Bill Dahlen 2226
3 Lave Cross 2221
4 George Davis 2212
5 Tommy Corcoran 2200
6 Jesse Burkett 2067
7 Kid Gleason 1963
most games played, 1986-2003
1 Barry Bonds 2569
2 Rafael Palmeiro 2567
3 Fred McGriff 2433
4 Cal Ripken 2333
5 Roberto Alomar 2323
6 Craig Biggio 2253
7 Mark Grace 2245


But you could make Raffy half of the chart read this way:

CAREER
1986-2005

Rk Name Games
1 Rafael Palmeiro 2831
2 Barry Bonds 2730
3 Craig Biggio 2564
4 Fred McGriff 2460
5 Steve Finley 2401
6 Roberto Alomar 2379
7 Cal Ripken 2333
8 B.J. Surhoff 2313
9 Omar Vizquel 2290
10 Mark Grace 2245

Actually I am not sure why you wouldn't present it this way. Am I missing something Tom?
   63. mulder & scully Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:06 AM (#2106269)
Crap I just lost a post, I'll try again.

I want to make sure I understand your post #58 Tom. Are you trying to demonstrate that Beckley is comparable to Murray and Palmeiro by how much they were superior to their positional contemporaries? Or that Beckley is missing some win shares because the other first basemen during his time didn't hit as well as an average first baseman in the 1970s-2000s? I apologize if I am misstating your argument, but I know you do a good deal of research with SABR and I want to understand your point.

I believe I am restating your chart correctly:
First basemen during Beckley's time: created 85 more runs compared with an average hitter over Beckley's career. Beckley created 245 more runs than an average first baseman during his career.

First basemen during Murray's time: created 223 more runs compared with an average hitter over Murray's career. Murray created 267 more runs than an average first basemen during his career.

First basemen during Palmeiro's time: created 274 more runs compared with an average hitter over Palmeiro's career. Palmeiro created 288 more runs than an average

DH during Baines' time: created 132 more runs compared with an average hitter over Baines' career. Baines created 152 more runs than an average DH/LF.

If the above is correct, I see two different arguments:
1. It was easier for Beckley to rack up RCAP because the first basemen during his career did not hit as well as they did in the later part of the 20th century. Murray and Palmeiro are more "meritorious" because they put up better RCAP numbers despite competing with a significantly higher achieving average group of hitters at their position.
2. Beckley is more valuable because he was proportionately a more dominant hitter compared with his own position than Murray and Palmeiro.
BUT...
M and P could not dominate their positions to the same degree because there were such better hitters during their careers
BUT...

It's late and thanks for listening.
   64. TomH Posted: July 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM (#2106333)
Mike Webber, thanks for the updated games played chart for Palmeiro. My database only went thru 2003, so I posted it that way. IOW, I was to lazy to figure the last 2 years by hand.
   65. TomH Posted: July 21, 2006 at 12:12 PM (#2106340)
m&s, your interpretation of my chart is correct.

I would put the verbage this way:
1. Murray and Palmeiro were better hitters relative to the typical league hitter than Beckley was in his day.
2. While all 3 were first basemen, it may be that the demands of playing 1B (relative to OF, etc) were higher in the late 1800s, and so in general lesser hitters occupied that psot on the field. This is born out by the fact that 1B only averaged 85 runs above an avg hitter in Beckely's time, and more than +200 in the late 1900s.
3. Of course, it could also be that simply more great hitters congregated at first base in Raffy/Ed-die's day, as suggested by Dr C's list (post 61).

Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in between. RCAP can be a useful tool, but like most tools, it has its drawbacks. RCAP oversells Beckley, but WARP and WS undersell him.

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