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Monday, May 15, 2006

Jim Bunning

Eligible in 1977.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 15, 2006 at 01:19 PM | 218 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. sunnyday2 Posted: May 17, 2006 at 05:41 PM (#2024335)
As I said before, as a peak/prime voter these various fine distinctions don't enter into my eval of individual players very much. This argument, for me, applies more to why I became a peak/prime rather than a career voter.
   102. Chris Cobb Posted: May 17, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2024415)
My point was to clarify the question: Can a player be less valuable, can he rate less highly after X+1 seasons than he did after X?

Forget comparing him to somebody else. The question was how he compares to himself over time.

For me, the answer is no, he cannot rate lower in terms of cumulative value.


"In terms of cumulative value," this is correct. However, I doubt KJOK would say that the numbers he is talking about represent "cumulative value." Rather, they represent "cumulative value above average," which is a different kind of value, which needs to be assessed differently from "cumulative value" of the sort Sunnyday2 is talking about.

And, in terms of merit, players _can and do_ rate less highly after X+1 seasons than he did after X. That's because the electorate is agreed that for certain values of X, say, X<3, X is too small to be a meaningful measure of merit. Norm Cash had a great season, but he needed more seasons like that one to get full credit, as it were, for that first great season, and he didn't have them. These additional seasons raise his "cumulative value," sure, but they are also "lowering his peak." We don't take value away from the X seasons, but we decline to count them on their own.

I guess that's a way of saying that, in theory, in comparing a player to himself, he never loses value, but in practice, we are never comparing players to themselves, but to other players or to composite standards like replacement level, average, all-star, MVP, etc. Comparison of players to a standard other than replacement level or the win shares zero point is part of the process, and in relation to some of these standards, a player may lose value as well as gain it in subsequent seasons. As long as we recognize what the standard is, and how players rise toward and fall away from those standards in the course of a career so that we are using each standard appropriately, our evaluations will be valid.

Appropriate application of each sort of standard is rightly subject to debate. Although I have mostly defended KJOK's position against criticisms of it, I should say that Sunnyday2's original concern about Rawagman's "docking' of Bunning for his late-career performance might well be a valid concern.
   103. Paul Wendt Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:00 PM (#2024474)
I did a study looking at Waddell's UER % as compared to a number of his peers in his generation. The numbers are only very slightly higher than the norm and even after you turn enough of the UERs to ER', his ERA+ is still very impressive.
I'll find where I posted my results.
. . .
1975 Ballot discussion - post 148.


I explained why I think the group needs clarification, maybe but maybe not available by archival research here.

Maybe but maybe not Chris J graduates this month.
May he!

--
Someone mentioned the absurdity of docking a player for having poor seasons.

It's only partly a matter of semantics, which means that it isn't a matter of semantics!
It's a matter of sabermetric ideology.
And a matter of allegiance because Bill James made one instance emphatically the centerpiece of his critical work.

Within the family of arguments, or version of this point, some focus strictly on the end of career --the comparison between X and X+1 years, Marc's terms, where the +1 is an extra season at the end.

Anyone who uses a sum-of-seasons career rating as the sole basis for ranking is simply on one side of this matter or the other as negative values are within or outside the range of the season rating.
I suspect that anyone who uses a more complicated rating, commonly in this forum one with peak or prime components, "docks" some players for poor seasons, commonly without knowing it. Indeed, I suspect that is common even at career's end.
   104. sunnyday2 Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#2024486)
>I suspect that anyone who uses a more complicated rating, commonly in this forum one with peak or prime components, "docks" some players for poor seasons, commonly without knowing it. Indeed, I suspect that is common even at career's end.

Why I thought the matter was worth a comment.
   105. Al Peterson Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#2024502)
John you asked about Waddell:

Is there evidence that he was an effective pitcher during that time? If there is, that would help Rube in my book.

Rube was a mover in his early career so he lost some value since he didn't earn Major League win shares. These are rough numbers:

1899 - 26 Wins in the Western League. Then our course he won 7 more in the NL. Western League was at least decent I think.

1900 - 9-3 in the American League, which was minor league that year. Added some NL value that year as well.

1902 - In addition to the 24 wins for the A's had 12 wins early in the year out in LA in the Coast League. Then Mack brought him to Philly.

So ol' Rube might be better than just what the ML numbers show.
   106. TomH Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:22 PM (#2024504)
from the NBJHA on Bunning, noting that Bunning had very poor reocrds in his first 4 minor league seasons (cumulative 25-39), leaidng to a somewhat latte entry to a MLB job:

"Bunning threw with a long, sweeping side-arm/three quaretrs delivery, culminating with a violent rush or fall toward first base. The Tigers signed him and tried to make him pitch normal - and almost ruined his career."

Do I give credit for "career held back by mishandling"? Probably not; a pretty murky area to get drawn into. But FWIW, there's the quote.
   107. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:43 PM (#2024529)
For what it's worth, Jim Bunning owned Ernie Banks (from retrosheet.org):

Banks was 15-for-59 against Bunning with 1 home run. He did not draw a walk, though Bunning hit him twice. Banks' rate stats against Bunning are .254/.279/.339.
   108. rawagman Posted: May 17, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#2024599)
I would like to clarify my views.
The dross of a player's career does not dock the player. I (try to) focus on what what a player did well and how often he was able to keep his standard as compared to how often he wasn't.

Let's look at an example in this year's eligibles: Dick Ellsworth.
In 1963, Dick had an ERA+ of 163. That season has a lot of value. No question about it.
In 1963, Dick Ellsworth was a hell of a pitcher.

But, in '62, his ERA+ was 81. In '64, it was 99.
So he goes from a below average pitcher, to a Cy Young pitcher, to a middle of the road pitcher.
So what kind of pitcher was Dick Ellsworth?
Can I ignore the poor years and just look at Ellsowrth circa 1963?
Do I look at his career ERA+ of 100 and conclude that he was around average. Maybe forget the anomalous '63 and see his career ERA+ without that year.

It's easier to look at Ellsworth this way than it is to look at Bunning, as Ellsworth had virtually no prime. Just a one year peak.
In my system, that peak acts as a bonus in stabilizing what would otherwise be complete dross.
Yet he still doesn't add up to anything beyond a 5 minute career retrospective.



Jim Bunning's peak was not as grand as Ellsworth's. But it was longer. It was more of a career. Worth a place in my pitcher consideration set.
Right between Addie Joss and Bucky Walters.

Was Jim Bunning the pitcher he was in 1966 and 1967? Or was he the guy seen in 1962 and 1963?
He was both and more.
His ERA+ and DERA numbers (careerwise: 114, 4.04) do not overly impress. His winning % was mediocre.
His ink scores highly, indicating a nice prime/peak. All-Star selections are nice, but really don't mean much.

His prime keeps him interesting. He has more grey ink than anyone in my consideration set except for Jim McCormick.
But the black ink (hinting his peak) is relatively average. Falls far below my good friends Rube Waddell and Lefty Gomez, as well as Dizzy Dean, Bucky Walters, Mickey Welch and Jim McCormick.
He's similar in that regards to Don Drysdale. Prime and peak are almost the same. Drysdale had a stronger career, though.

I guess I am that rare breed who looks for a combination of peak/career. I believe I explained before that my system doesn't really punish players for having had a poor season or two on their resume. The poor seasons come into effect after 3 or 4 and then only in reflection with how strong the peak was to offset it.
   109. OCF Posted: May 17, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#2024613)
Here are the RA+ PythPat records for a bunch of pitchers: first the overall equivalent W-L, then the five best seasons.

Jim Bunning      238-180  24-11 21-12 21-12 18-10 19-13
Billy Pierce     218
-150  185 20-10 199 19-11 17-10
Dean Chance      133
-105  237 19-14 17-14 149 13-12 
Larry Jackson    200
-162  20-13 18-11 18-13 18-14 149
Earl Wilson      117
-111  18-12 14-11 15-14 129 12-11
Hoyt Wilhelm     158
92  187 115  93 105  95
Vic Willis       248
-196  24-11 24-14 21-13 26-19 19-12
Rube Waddell     200
-129  26-11 229 27-15 23-13 18-13 


Adjustments that should be made from there:

Adjust for defensive support. I have already adjusted Willis for defensive support; without that adjustment he'd be at 258-186. I haven't adjusted any of the rest of these.

Adjustment for IP expectations for top pitchers: that's the main reason I've allowed both Waddell and Willis to fade from my ballot. A number of things have been said recently about Waddell's unearned runs - note that I've always used RA, not ERA, and this is where he lands in my system. But note that IP went up in the 60's, and Bunning is the beneficiary of that.

Adjustment for pitcher's own hitting: not done for any of these. Of note: Earl Wilson was terrific, a low-average Three True Outcomes hitter. About what Rob Deer would have been as a part-time player in the 60's. And Dean Chance was pathetic.

Adjustment for relief leverage: of course, that's a big issue for Wilhelm - but note the Wilhelm looks pretty good anyway just straight up on this measure. That matters for Pierce quite a bit. Note that Bunning also has relief work - not as much as Pierce, but it was a part of what he did.

Someone characterized Bunning as Pierce plus a couple of replacement-level seasons. I have the difference at 20-30; yeah, that's about a couple of replacement level seasons. One issue that does come up: Bunning had a very high number of IP per decision, 9.22. Thus I assign him more equivalent decisions than would someone who started from his actual decisions. (Wilhelm sort of fouls the system up completely, with 12.7 IP/decision.)

I'll probably have Pierce and Bunning 2-3 on my ballot, in an order yet to be determined.

Have we overlooked someone in Larry Jackson? Pitching in the tough NL, with a record I'd be willing to put up against a number of people who have received votes: Trucks, Trout, Grimes, Mays, even Walters.
   110. jimd Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:00 PM (#2024618)
I have to look at the entire picture of their career.

rawagman, I would then say that your system was flawed unless Rube Waddell is docked at least as much for his 1913-1916 seasons as Jim Bunning is for his 1968-1971 seasons. Both were age 36-39 during those years. If you're not docking Waddell then in any head's-up comparison of the two, you are unfairly docking Bunning in those seasons despite the high likelihood that he was a better pitcher than Waddell in those seasons. (The circumstantial evidence for that statement is strong given that Waddell did not pitch in the majors after 1910.) You're not looking at the "entire picture" of Rube's career, either.

Being a major league pitcher is usually better than being a minor league pitcher and always better than not being a pitcher at all. (Though in the case of Bunning, 1971, not by much ;-)
   111. jimd Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2024619)
Sorry, rawagman, I did not see your last post.
   112. jimd Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:06 PM (#2024627)
The poor seasons come into effect after 3 or 4

I wouldn't care how many "poor" seasons a player had. It couldn't erase/effect the great ones. If Sandy Koufax had pitched for 10 additional years at minimal effectiveness, it wouldn't change what he accomplished at his zenith. He would still be a HOM pitcher.
   113. rawagman Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#2024644)
Right - he would be - because of the strength of his peak. I believe I had Koufax #1 on my ballot.

I don't dock anyone. I just don't ignore the dross.
Like I said - I am a peak/career voter.
The dross has no effect on my peak judgement.
In career tallying, I prefer rate stats to others. And dross effects rate stats.

Bunning had a nice peak, but not any better than several other pitchers on my ballot.
   114. rawagman Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:23 PM (#2024650)
BTW - It comes down to the question:
Who am I voting for?
Am I voting for the guy at his best, or in his entirety?

My aim here is to make my vote based on the entirety to the best of my ability.
   115. BDC Posted: May 17, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2024654)
Have we overlooked someone in Larry Jackson?

Jackson is of interest as someone who walked away from baseball when he was still quite an effective pitcher, the anti-Bunning in that respect. Basically Jackson docked himself a chance to get to 200 wins. (He was taken by the Expos in the expansion draft, but decided not to report for the 1969 season.)

Jackson was also a Republican politician, so we're back to where we started in this thread :)
   116. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 17, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#2024703)
Norm Cash had a great season, but he needed more seasons like that one to get full credit, as it were, for that first great season, and he didn't have them. These additional seasons raise his "cumulative value," sure, but they are also "lowering his peak."

Yes, so in a sense you can imagine a player's career, or a voter's system, as being like a parachute laid flat out. That's the ultimate perfectly flat peaked, super-long 800 win-share career. Meanwhile a crane starts picking up the parachute by its center. There's the peak, and at its most extreme is the vertical, super-monster, barely-theoretically-possible 200 win-share one-year career. All of our systems weigh the peak/career differently, but it only matters in a pretty narrow band of ranges---below solid HOMer (say Doby), above the 100th best backlogger (or thereabouts, maybe Lazzeri?).

Anyway, to finish the conceit, as the crane raises or lowers the center of the parachute, there's a sympathetic reaction at the edge of the chute. As the chute goes up, the edges draw closer to the center, as the chute falls, the edges spread out. Each voter's preferences, therefore are expressed along the edges of that chute (even Yest's, I think---ducks!), and each voter's tolerance for more or less career or peak is visible. If we knew the individual tolerances of each voter, then the slope between a player's peak and his career could be used to predict his "electability."

I think.

Sometimes when I think out loud things come out strange.
   117. jingoist Posted: May 17, 2006 at 10:10 PM (#2024709)
So...many of you voters claim you are not docking candidates for poor or below average years either early or late in players careers.
But this must not be true given poor old Sisler's struggle to get elected.

His first seven years, he's got oodles of grey and black ink and his HoF monitor for his career is twice the average of most players selected to the HoF.

But this group of voters tends to focus on his so-so years after his return and not his 7 year prime/peak.
The guy still had some grey ink after 1922 but that seems to get pushed under the bed and not acknowledged.

Which is it; docking of credit for career end results or an underappreciation for what he accomplished from 1916-1922?

Everything I've ever read about Sisler has his contemporaries truly appreciating his efforts and overwhelmingly acknowledging his right to be in Cooperstown.
Why not the HoM?
   118. jimd Posted: May 17, 2006 at 10:14 PM (#2024713)
In career tallying, I prefer rate stats to others. And dross effects rate stats.

But to be consistent, you have to add sub-replacement pitching to Waddell, Dean, etc. Bunning's "poor" major league pitching is still better than Waddell's minor league pitching or Dean's non-pitching.

You're ignoring their dross because it was worse than Bunning's dross.
   119. Mister High Standards Posted: May 17, 2006 at 10:30 PM (#2024726)
While you all continue to argue the same points over and over, I thought I should mention that in my own research (sorry no career or peak or docking going on) I’ve come to realize that Bunning was a pretty instrumental in a couple of pennant races. Both on the negative side. While I'm not sure how much you want to weight this, it certainly matters at least in my opinion when trying to determine the contributions the player made.

In 61, the tigers were hanging tough with the Yankees going into the final month, 2.5 back. By the 15th it was 10.5 and by the end of the season it was 8. On August 30th, while only a game and half back - Bunning dropped a key decision to the White Sox which dropped the Tigers 2.5 half back. His next start was versus the Yankees, which the Tigers lost again, sending them 4.5 back setting the stage for their fade. He went 2-1 over his next 5 starts, but didn't pitch to the bar he set earlier in the season.

In 64 for the Phillies he was a much larger contributor to the decline. The Phillies were 6 up on Sept 15th, and ended up losing out to the Cards by a game at the end of the season. After 9/15 Bunning lost his FOUR very key games, not pitching well. Including a head to head match up with the Cards on 9/30 - not making it out of the 4th inning.

Bunning performance while in the playoff hunt is a mark against him - it should be noted and considered, unless of course you want to spend more time on the forest.
   120. jimd Posted: May 17, 2006 at 10:54 PM (#2024739)
Thanks for the info, Mister Standards.

Given that the Tigers finished 8 back of the Yankees, it's hard to see how any one player could have made the difference, though it's useful to note that Bunning didn't perform well when it appeared that that good performance might be important.

The 1965 info IS important because that pennant was decided by a zillion little things. It was noted early in the thread by TomH in Post #6:

1964 pennant race: lost 3 games in late Sept while Phils collapsed, by scores of 5-3, 14-8, 8-5. Last two were on 2 days rest. Oh, and then on the season's last day with Philly eliminated, he tossed a shutout.

How much of the negative performance can be attributed to Bunning and how much to Gene Mauch's judgement in deciding to run his best pitchers out there on two-days rest?
   121. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#2024774)
How much of the negative performance can be attributed to Bunning and how much to Gene Mauch's judgement in deciding to run his best pitchers out there on two-days rest?

Excellent question, Jim.

A similar question could be asked in regard to some of Clemens' ineffective postseason outings, too.
   122. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:31 PM (#2024780)
Bunning performance while in the playoff hunt is a mark against him - it should be noted and considered, unless of course you want to spend more time on the forest.

Since I only posted the thread as of Monday, Matt, don't you think that was a little unfair? Check out other recent threads where we have discussed the postseason record for a few prospective candidates. Besides, things got delayed a bit here due to Bunning's politics causing a stir here.
   123. Daryn Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:35 PM (#2024793)
Jim Bunning's peak was not as grand as Ellsworth's.

That was not a sentence I expected to see in this thread.
   124. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:36 PM (#2024797)
The problem with pennant-race analysis in my book is this:

If the team wins, a guy either looks good or gets a free pass for poor performance.

If the team fades out of contention (a la the Tiggers example above) it's not instructive to look at one guy when a whole team goes into the tank.

If the team goes 0-13 to lose the pennant like the Whizzes, there are so many missed opportunities that it's not instructive to blame one guy.

If a team loses by a single game, and Jim Bunning (or anyone) started and lost that game, it wouldn't change my ranking. His true effect on the pennant race is established in the other 163 games of the season, where he contributed the other 250-300 or so innings of his season.

In addition, this type of pennant-race analysis tends to lead very quickly into issues of character. I'm not in the business of awarding character points to candidates, and I look at whole seasons so I stay away from this question entirely.

Similarly, I don't look at post-season performance either. Sample is too small, and the very presence of the data is at most 10% related to the player himself. He's mostly just lucky to be on a good team. If that makes a guy HOM-worthy, then maybe I should be voting with the BBWAA instead (or more likely the Vets).
   125. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:38 PM (#2024803)
So ol' Rube might be better than just what the ML numbers show.

Thanks, Al. I'll take that into account.
   126. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 17, 2006 at 11:48 PM (#2024826)
And frankly, I think Mr.HS is aiming his criticisms wrongly if, as is implied in his commentary, he thinks that the cycle of discussion, cogitation, and revisitation of ideas is a weakness of the HOM. (As an interested party) I think the opposite is more likely true: that because of the thoughtful, even ponderous, nature of our deliberations, we investigate candidates, voting systems, analysis techniques, whatevers with a thoroughness fully appropriate to our mission.

In fact, I'd further say that if we didn't revisit topics and regularly reconsider our positions, we'd be violating the spirit of our organizational mandate and reducing the credibility of our enterprise (I'm kind of assuming the HOM has some level of credibility outside itself---i mean does anyone outside of have a sense of its cred or not?).

I mean look at the alternative---it's the BBWAA model with virtually no public inter-voter discussion and no accountability (it only works so-so for C-town) or the Vets model with an even more secretive discussion/consensus model (which might work like 30% of the time). The proof that thoughtful discussion works is in the pudding. Our worst guy is probably Sam Thompson; they have dozens worse than him!

(BTW, have I just allowed myself to be baited into a pissing match?)
   127. Mister High Standards Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:09 AM (#2024869)

he thinks that the cycle of discussion, cogitation, and revisitation of ideas is a weakness of the HOM.


Actually your wrong - the weakness of the hall of merit (in my opinion, and I read most threads) is you spend far to much time debating the size and shape of a players career and not enough time discusing what actually goes into the career - in other words you lose too much granualirity by looking at the macro, and minimizing the micro. I have other issues as well, but I respect the work your doing at a high level so I won't quibble.

For all the talk of reconsidering how often do people actually change their mind in light of specific posts? From what I've seen very little - most of the change is people realizeing themselevs that they miss calibrated some variable in their system?


Since I only posted the thread as of Monday, Matt, don't you think that was a little unfair?


Now John, whats unfair is writing off someones research as a disagreement on career versus peak... maybe unfair is the wrong word and condescending is the better one. 116 posts had been made prior to mine, how many talked about what Bunning did within the seasonal level? 1, 2, 3? To me that is what intresting. Everything else you can find on baseball reference, or prospectus or what have you.

Keep up the good work, i'll go back to lurking and occasionally noting an intresting observation in my notebook.
   128. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:44 AM (#2024930)
162 IP minimum, listing all 100 ERA+ seasons:
Drysdale 154 49 40 29 28 22 18 17 15 13
JBunning 150 49 43 42 34 32 29 14 14 04
BiPierce 201 48 41 36 33 24 15 13 08 07 07 05 04 03
RWaddell 179 79 65 53 26 25 23 21 07 02
(Pierce's 201 is not a top-10 IP season)

Drysdale top 10 in IP: 1 1 2 2 4 5 5 5 9 9 10
JBunning top 10 in IP: 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 6 8
BiPierce top 10 in IP: 3 3 3 5 5 7
RWaddell top 10 in IP: 3 4 4 10

Waddell has risen quite a bit in my rankings (probably in my top 15 this year) because of the unearned run info. I still think that his poor W-L is less a coincidence than Bunning's might be, but I give that lesser weight now.

BUT... anyone who has a conversation about Waddell without conceding his MUCH weaker workload relative to his time is not seeing the whole picture. Rube's just not keeping up with his contemporaries, especially since it was only an 8-team league.
So while Waddell's top 4 seasons are excellent, you must acknowledge that in two of them he isn't even in the top 10 in IP that year.

Bunning put up a 150 and a 149 ERA+ while finishing 1st and 2nd in IP that year.
Define it as you will, but that is significant added value to just a pure ERA+ number with a lot fewer relative innings.

I likely will have Bunning near the top (with Redding), Pierce mid-ballot, and Waddell low-ballot....
   129. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:47 AM (#2024933)
So...many of you voters claim you are not docking candidates for poor or below average years either early or late in players careers.
But this must not be true given poor old Sisler's struggle to get elected.


It's more like he's not receiving much credit for his post-1922 career. It helps, but not to a great extent.
   130. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:53 AM (#2024942)
Now John, whats unfair is writing off someones research as a disagreement on career versus peak

Is this in reference to something I posted or are you referring to someone else? I went over my posts on this thread and I don't see any writing off anyone's research here, unless I'm misinterpreting what you mean by research.
   131. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#2024946)
Mister High Standards == Matt

Unless these are two different Matts, then is Mr HS a former HOM voter? (under different handles)
   132. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:07 AM (#2024974)
and then on the season's last day with Philly eliminated, he tossed a shutout.

The Cardinals had won that afternoon (defeating the Mets 11-5), eliminating the Phillies. But their opponent, the Reds, could have forced a playoff with a victory over the Phillies that night.
   133. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:08 AM (#2024978)
Unless these are two different Matts, then is Mr HS a former HOM voter? (under different handles)

No, he is Matt Rauseo. He used to post under Rauseo until he was christened "Mr. High Standards" at the last SABR convention. Besides meeting him there, I had contact with him a few years ago when he was an owner in my Diamond Mind league.

Matt is in charge of the Baseball Quote Blog here, BTW.
   134. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2006 at 02:49 AM (#2025325)
Bunning's "poor" major league pitching is still better than Waddell's minor league pitching or Dean's non-pitching.

In Waddell's case, without seeing the numbers I don't think we can assume that Bunning's poor ML pitching was better than Waddell's pitching in the minors between 1897 and 1902. Waddell was a character, so there are reasons having nothing to do with his performance on the mound that might have kept him off of major-league rosters during those years. I still wouldn't advocate for MLE credit for Waddell, since his personality was part of his skill set, but, speaking only in terms of the ability to get batters out once he got to the mound, I think it's entirely possible that Waddell was at least a major-league average pitcher in quality even though he was earning his living in the minors. Bunning, in his later years, was not of that quality.
   135. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 02:54 AM (#2025349)
Pitching Log - Jim Bunning 1964

4/15 Wd NYM 1 Phi 4 STALLARD-BUNNING (0-1 vs 1^0)
4/24 Fr Chi 0 Phi 10 BUHL-BUNNING (3-4 vs 5^1)
5/01 Fr Phi 5 Mil 3 BUNNING-SPAHN (9^2 vs 8-5)
5/05 Tu Phi 1 StL 2 BUNNING-WASHBURN (10-5 vs 11^4)
5/09 Sa Cin 4 Phi 5 PURKEY-Bunning (11-11 vs 13-6)(GREEN)
5/14 Th StL 2 Phi 3 BROGLIO-BUNNING (16-11 vs 14-9)
5/18 Mo Phi 4 Hou 0 BUNNING-KJOHNSON (17-10 vs 14-19)
5/24 Su Phi 0 LAn 3 BUNNING-MOELLER (21^12 vs 17-21)
5/29 Fr Hou 6 Phi 7 Bruce-Bunning (21-23 vs 22-15)(WOODESHICK-BENNETT)
6/03 We LAn 0 Phi 1 DRYSDALE-Bunning (21-24 vs 26^15)(BALDSCHUN)
6/07 Su SFr 4 Phi 3 Hendley-Bunning (29^19 vs 27-18)(SHAW-ROEBUCK)
6/13 Sa NYM 2 Phi 8 LARY-BUNNING (19-37 vs 29^21)
6/17 We Phi 5 Chi 9 Bunning-BUHL (33^21 vs 27-28)(BALDSCHUN)
6/18 Th Phi 6 Chi 3 SHORT-ELLSWORTH (33^22 vs 28-28) (save: Bunning)
6/21 Su Phi 6 NYM 0 BUNNING-STALLARD (36^23 vs 20-45)
6/26 Fr Phi 6 StL 5 Bunning-Gibson (40^24 vs 34-34)(ROEBUCK-TAYLOR)
6/30 Tu Phi 8 Hou 1 BUNNING-KJOHNSON (42-27 vs 35-39)
7/04 Sa Phi 5 SFr 2 BUNNING-Sanford (45-28 vs 47^29)(GPERRY)
7/11 Sa Cin 3 Phi 1 NUXHALL-BUNNING (43-37 vs 48^29)
7/13 Mo Mil 2 Phi 3 SPAHN-CULP (42-41 vs 48-32) (save: Bunning)
7/15 We Phi 0 Pit 3 BUNNING-FRIEND (49-33 vs 43-39)
7/19 Su Phi 4 Cin 7 Bunning-Maloney (51^35 vs 49-40)(BALDSCHUN-MCCOOL)
7/23 Th Phi 13 Mil 10 Bunning-Lemaster (54^37 vs 47-45)(BALDSCHUN-TIEFANAUER)
7/28 Tu SFr 0 Phi 4 O'DELL-BUNNING (57-42 vs 56^40)
8/01 Sa LAn 6 Phi 10 DRYSDALE-Bunning (50-50 vs 59^41)(WISE)
8/05 We Hou 1 Phi 4 BRUCE-BUNNING (46-62 vs 60^42)
8/09 Su NYM 0 Phi 6 STALLARD-BUNNING (34-77 vs 64^43)
8/14 Fr Phi 6 NYM 1 BUNNING-AJACKSON (35-79 vs 67^44)
8/19 We Chi 5 Phi 9 Ellsworth-Bunning (56-63 vs 71^46)(MCDANIEL-BALDSCHUN)
8/23 Su Pit 3 Phi 9 GIBBON-BUNNING (64-59 vs 75^47)
8/28 Fr Phi 2 Pit 4 Bunning-Gibbon (64-63 vs 77^49)(ROEBUCK-FACE)
9/01 Tu Hou 3 Phi 4 HBROWN-BUNNING (57-75 vs 78^51)
9/05 Sa SFr 3 Phi 9 BOLIN-BUNNING (75-61 vs 81^52)
9/09 We StL 10 Phi 5 Simmons-Bunning (77-61 vs 83^55)(HUMPHREYS-BALDSCHUN)
9/13 Su Phi 4 SFr 1 BUNNING-ESTELLE (80-64 vs 85^57)
9/16!We Phi 5 Hou 6 BUNNING-Nottebart (88^57 vs 59-88)(HBROWN)
9/20 Su Phi 3 LAn 2 BUNNING-BREWER (89^60 vs 75-74)
9/24 Th Mil 5 Phi 3 BLASINGAME-BUNNING (78-73 vs 90^63)
9/27!Su Mil 14 Phi 8 CLONINGER-BUNNING (81-73 vs 90^66)
9/30!We Phi 5 StL 8 BUNNING-SIMMONS (90-69 vs 91^67)
10/4 Su Phi 10 Cin 0 BUNNING-TSITOURIS (91-70 vs 92^69)

Name in all CAPS means a decision (W or L).
Team records follow the starters; ^ means team in first place.
! means Bunning started on short rest.
Bunning also had two relief appearances for Saves.

I would assume that the Phillies were surprise contenders that year. Past performance would have favored the Dodgers (defending champs), Giants (3rd in '63 and champs in '62), Reds (off-year in '63 but strong 3rd in '62 and champs in '61), and Cards (runners-up).

The Giants and Phils got off to the hot starts and took turns in first through mid-July (7/20 was the last day in 1st for the Giants). The Reds moved into 2nd on 8/20 (8/20-8/23 was the Phils max lead of 7.5 games). After Bunning's win on 9/20, the Phillies were 90-60 with 12 games to go and had a 6.5 game lead on the Reds and Cards, 7 on the Giants. Then came the collapse, the 10 game losing streak, the last three to the Cardinals.

On the morning on October 2nd, the standings were:
92-67 -- St. Louis
92-68 0+ Cincinnati
90-70 2+ Philadelphia

The Reds and Phils had two games in Cincy, while the Cards finished with three at home with the lowly Mets (51-108). Bob Gibson lost 1-0 to Al Jackson, while the Phils kept their thin hopes alive by defeating Cincy 4-3, scoring 4 in the 8th to overcome a 3-0 deficit. The next day was an off-day for the Reds/Phils; meanwhile the Mets hammered the Cards and Ray Sadecki 15-5. A three-way tie was still possible if the Mets and Phils both swept. Miraculously, the Mets led 3-2 after 4.5, but Gibson had come on in relief of Curt Simmons, and would get the win as the Cards won going away 11-5. The Phils were eliminated, but they ended the Reds chances of a tiebreaker playoff by shutting them out 10-0, Bunning getting his 19th win and 5th shutout.

Thank you RetroSheet for making this retelling possible.
   136. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 02:56 AM (#2025351)
In Waddell's case, without seeing the numbers I don't think we can assume that Bunning's poor ML pitching was better than Waddell's pitching in the minors between 1897 and 1902.

I'm referring to any pitching that Waddell may have been doing in his late 30's post 1910.
   137. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:03 AM (#2025370)
Waddell's pre-1900 years would correspond to Bunning's pre-1955 years. Waddell's 1902 season with the A's would be at the same age as Bunning's first year as a regular in 1957.
   138. OCF Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:34 AM (#2025411)
If I leave the pre-1910 candidates out of it, the best single season in my post #109 belongs to Dean Chance, at an equivalent 23-7. That's a Koufax-level year (and in the same ballpark as Koufax), but Chance doesn't have a second season to ratify the fluke as a peak, and he's certainly not a career candidate.

After that, I'd rank the next six years as Bunning (24-11), Pierce (18-5), Bunning (21-12), Pierce (20-10), Pierce (19-9), Bunning (21-12). I'm ranking by equivalent FWP, and the there's some roundoff that accounts for such things as the split between Bunning's two 21-12 seasons. On an season-by-season basis, for several seasons, Bunning's greater bulk (in IP) balances very nicely against Pierce's better RA+. Except that Bunning has the single best year. I consider both Pierce and Bunning to be well-qualified peak candidates. Bunning's 1964, much discussed above, comes out as a slightly lesser year at 19-13.
   139. Paul Wendt Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:39 AM (#2025416)
OCF:
Adjustment for IP expectations for top pitchers: that's the main reason I've allowed both Waddell and Willis to fade from my ballot. A number of things have been said recently about Waddell's unearned runs - note that I've always used RA, not ERA, and this is where he lands in my system. But note that IP went up in the 60's, and Bunning is the beneficiary of that.

Maybe because you calculate "IP expectation" based on time-periods that are too long? Eg, the moving average of too many years. In Bunning's case, I suppose that his peak 1964-1967 practically coincides with peak IP for top starting pitchers. If IP expectation is based on 3-year periods, 1963-65 to 1966-68 in case of Bunning's peak, then he barely "benefits" from his good timing.


Bob Dernier:
[Larry Jackson] was taken by the Expos in the expansion draft, but decided not to report for the 1969 season.

Yeah, do your time like Richie Ashburn and you're in the Hall of Merit.


El Chaleeko:
If we knew the individual tolerances of each voter, then the slope between a player's peak and his career could be used to predict his "electability."

No, too many variables. What size parachute did you lay flat? On the ground or on a table?


jimd:
Unless these are two different Matts, then is Mr HS a former HOM voter? (under different handles)

Would Phillybooster knock a Phillie? a star of the 1964 Phillies?


P.S. Murphy, Mister, and others who count articles: please count this "one" as four. We're over 150 now, if you know how to count.
   140. sunnyday2 Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:45 AM (#2025421)
>Waddell's pre-1900 years would correspond to Bunning's pre-1955 years. Waddell's 1902 season with the A's would be at the same age as Bunning's first year as a regular in 1957.

But Waddell was pitching very effectively in the high minors pre-1900 while Bunning was pitching quite ineffectively in the MiL pre-1957.
   141. Brent Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:54 AM (#2025427)
1902 - In addition to the 24 wins for the A's had 12 wins early in the year out in LA in the Coast League.

The PCL was founded in 1903. The LA team that Waddell played for in early 1902 was part of the "California League," which I believe was considered an "outlaw league" at the time because it didn't respect the reserve clause.
   142. rawagman Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:25 AM (#2025483)
jimd -you don't like my "style" - fair enough.


In career tallying, I prefer rate stats to others. And dross effects rate stats.

But to be consistent, you have to add sub-replacement pitching to Waddell, Dean, etc. Bunning's "poor" major league pitching is still better than Waddell's minor league pitching or Dean's non-pitching.

You're ignoring their dross because it was worse than Bunning's dross.


You lost me here.

Rube Waddell's dross? As a major league pitcher (I do not count minor league stats for any purpose but in the rarest of exceptions. I have 2 so far - Cravath and Carroll), Waddell only once had an ERA+ below 100. That was in 1910, when he pitched 33 innings. I do not weigh in extremely small sample sizes into my rankings for anyone, and 33 innings would not qualify that season by any measure.

I used Ellsworth as an example because his peak year was extreme (more extreme than most, Bunning included) but it was also extremely isolated.

And finally,
anyone who has a conversation about Waddell without conceding his MUCH weaker workload relative to his time is not seeing the whole picture. Rube's just not keeping up with his contemporaries, especially since it was only an 8-team league.
So while Waddell's top 4 seasons are excellent, you must acknowledge that in two of them he isn't even in the top 10 in IP that year.


I choose not to look at IP totals relative to league, as it is ultimately up to each manager how he chooses to use his staff.
There are trends, but I don't think it's a good way to compare Waddell to his peers - unless the differences were extreme, which I'm not seeing here.

I compare each pitcher to his team. For a season to be considered prime, he must have been in the top 2 on his team in IP. He was 1st or 2nd on his team in IP each year from 1902-1909. To me this means that for that 7 year period, his manager wanted Rube on the mound as much as he thought reasonable/possible.
   143. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2006 at 11:21 AM (#2025490)
I believe what jimd is saying is that in their decline years, at least Bunning is still a crappy MLB pitcher while the others either aren't pitching at all or are merely toiling in the minors. THAT is the comparison; not Bunning's worst MLB year vs Waddell's worst MLB year.

rawagman, this smells like a logical fallacy: Waddell is not docked for low IP totals relative to his time, because, hey, that's his team's preference. Yet Bunning IS docked for crappy late years - because it was his team's preference that he pitch.

Trying to have it both ways?

Docking Bunning for crappy late years seems debatable; giving Bunning more credit than Waddell for being more relatively durable in his big years seems to me undeniable. Bunning was pitching his relative extra IP while a pitcher weaker than Waddell was pitching those IP for his team; Bunning in late years was pitching crappily because the team couldn't find anyone less crappy (well, that's the idea, anyway).
   144. rawagman Posted: May 18, 2006 at 11:27 AM (#2025491)
I don't know how much clearer I can be.
I AM NOT DOCKING ANYONE.
I do not ignore any contribution made above a reasonable small sample size caveat.

You want Bunning to get credit for durability? Fine. Great. Durability is nice. There's merit in durability.

I, personally, do not put much value in durability in and for itself. I am looking for effectiveness.
A voter who likes durability will like Jim Bunning. He had durability. He had effectiveness.
Not always together, but he had them.
Someone please tell me they understand me.
   145. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 11:43 AM (#2025496)
Waddell is not docked for low IP totals relative to his time, because, hey, that's his team's preference. Yet Bunning IS docked for crappy late years - because it was his team's preference that he pitch.

IMO, a pitcher's IP should be handled the same way we do with ERA or OPS by normalization.

I, personally, do not put much value in durability in and for itself. I am looking for effectiveness.

But if a manager misuses his hurlers by having them pitch more than they should have, wont that affect their effectiveness? Would Addie Joss have had the same ERA if he pitched as many IP as McGinnity? I would bet money that his ERA would have been much higher.

BTW rawagman, hang in there. We all get the "third degree" every once and a while. It's just a way to keep all of us honest. Nothing personal.

Did you get into the HoM Yahoo group?
   146. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 18, 2006 at 11:57 AM (#2025500)
Matt, explain to me why a game in September is more important than a game in April. They both count as 1/162th or 1/154th of the season.

I'm not discrediting your research, and it is interesting, but to me it's not relevant how a pitcher pitches down the stretch. If the pitcher hadn't pitched well earlier in the year, his team wouldn't have been in that spot to begin with.

To me it's a red herring. There's absolutely nothing more valuable about being 6-0 in September than being 6-0 in April.

October is different. I do give credit if a player played especially well in the post-season, but to me it's more in the bullsh!t dump, as opposed to anything systematic. But I don't give any more credit for a big Game 7 than a big Game 1 of the World Series, for example.
   147. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:17 PM (#2025505)
Murphy put it well: A lot of us think that the incremental extra IP are much harder to throw.
Maybe it's another misunderstanding, but are you not implying that Waddell was a 170 ERA+ P in a great year who could have kept that up with the extra IP (relative to the league)?
Some of us are saying, no, he could not have done that. That's why a 155 ERA+ leading the league in IP can be as or more valuable than a 170 that is 15th in IP(wildly rough example, don't take too literally.)

Speculation, sure, but we are saying that IP always take a toll, in-season and career. Getting to pitch less relative to your peers makes your ERA+ higher, and to ignore that, or to underplay it, is to miss something.

No offense intended.
   148. TomH Posted: May 18, 2006 at 12:50 PM (#2025509)
I confess to understanding rawagman :)

--

Joe, I understand your point in that a win is a win in April or September, but there is a sense in which they are different, and I would argue that 'red herring' is too strong a term.

All April games are "pennant" important, because unless you are the 2006 Royals, your team has a chance to win. Still, managers aim for the long-term good by resting guys they believe need it.

In September, workloads get tossed out. And if you can't play today, your loss is magnified. Especially if there's a series against your pennant rival - those games are essentially worth double. Now, it's true that in hindsight the games you played back in April vs. that rival were also worth a lot, but you didn't manage that way at the time. So when a manager sets up his rotation so his stud can face a rival, or work on short rest, or relieve 4 days in a row, and he does well, that DOES have extra value in my book.
   149. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2025514)
What size parachute did you lay flat?

And what color is it?

In September, workloads get tossed out. And if you can't play today, your loss is magnified. Especially if there's a series against your pennant rival - those games are essentially worth double. Now, it's true that in hindsight the games you played back in April vs. that rival were also worth a lot, but you didn't manage that way at the time. So when a manager sets up his rotation so his stud can face a rival, or work on short rest, or relieve 4 days in a row, and he does well, that DOES have extra value in my book.

Put a number on it. How much less often do you think a manager plays a sub-optimal lineup in April or May versus September? And is that really good managing, or is it just what the book says managers ought to do. I recollect a recent study suggesting that position players need as few as one day off a month to remain fresh in September.

Either way, however, you're honoring usage versus player. A dude gets more September starts at the expense of april starts because Ron Gardenhire tells him, and that makes it a HOM-worthy feat? I'm dubious.
   150. Paul Wendt Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:12 PM (#2025516)
P.S. Murphy, Mister, and others who count articles: please count this "one" as four.

But only two and two if you count serious contributions and wisecracks separately.
--

I AM NOT DOCKING ANYONE.
. . .
Someone please tell me they understand me.


I understand what you are staying. In #103 (repeated in part below) I put "docks" in quotation marks because it is a convenient shorthand for ranking a full career (eg, Jim Bunning 1955-1971) lower than a subset career that differs by missing some season/s (Bunning 1955-1970 or Bunning 1955-60, 62-71) but is identical for the seasons that it includes at all.

Anyone who uses a sum-of-seasons career rating as the sole basis for ranking is simply on one side of this matter or the other as negative values are within or outside the range of the season rating.

I suspect that anyone who uses a more complicated rating, commonly in this forum one with peak or prime components, "docks" some players for poor seasons, commonly without knowing it. Indeed, I suspect that is common even at career's end.
   151. Paul Wendt Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:23 PM (#2025518)
Joe, I understand your point in that a win is a win in April or September, but there is a sense in which they are different, and I would argue that 'red herring' is too strong a term.

I agree with TomH here and in the particular supporting argument.
   152. BDC Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:23 PM (#2025519)
more September starts at the expense of april starts

In terms of the Hall of Fame, September 1964 probably helped Jim Bunning. Gene Mauch asked him to do the impossible; Bunning couldn't do it, but he got credit for being a trouper. I would imagine that the Hall of Merit doesn't distinguish failure at the impossible from failure at anything else.
   153. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:32 PM (#2025528)
I suspect that anyone who uses a more complicated rating, commonly in this forum one with peak or prime components, "docks" some players for poor seasons, commonly without knowing it. Indeed, I suspect that is common even at career's end.

That's why my system breaks up each player's career into individual season totals instead of lumping everything into the sum-of seasons model. What a player does in one season should be separated from his other seasons, IMO.

When you think about it, each game should be separated in the same way, but that's way too much work for me.
   154. TomH Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#2025535)
Bob, you make a good point; some of Bunning's 64 failure was the difficulty of the task assigned. Let me say it this way; if Bunning HAD pitched some fine games late in Sept on 2 and 3 days rest and the Phils had won, he would get a small bonus from me.

Put a number on it
Some managers play backups to keep the bench fresh. Except in a pennant race in September. They sometimes pull a SP early to keep him fresh. But not (Pedro, 2003 ALCS) when they absolutley need a win. Guys postpone a DL stint or surgery at times based on pennant race status; there's a huge difference in availability.

Casey Stengel rotated his guys, probably giving many of htem 10-20 games off a year. Semi-platooned Yogi Berra! Except when he really needed him, he "wouldn't play a game without my man" (trusting my memory, I hope the quote is exact).

Tough to "put a number" on it; I am NOT claiming that a great September makes a man HoM worthy. I'm saying I might count a key game double or even triple a "normal" one, which won't affect a player's overall score very much. It might make the difference, for me, of Bunning making the 15th spot on my ballot.
   155. Mister High Standards Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:52 PM (#2025545)

Matt, explain to me why a game in September is more important than a game in April. They both count as 1/162th or 1/154th of the season.


I literaly just lost a 300-500 word post. Maybe later, but the short answer is conventional wisdom isn't always wrong.
   156. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2025547)
Tough to "put a number" on it; I am NOT claiming that a great September makes a man HoM worthy. I'm saying I might count a key game double or even triple a "normal" one, which won't affect a player's overall score very much. It might make the difference, for me, of Bunning making the 15th spot on my ballot.

I think that makes sense, Tom. For tie-breakers, I have used similar reasoning, though only by addition, not subtraction.
   157. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2025549)
I literaly just lost a 300-500 word post.

I always try to copy my posts before I post so my fist wont damage my monitor. ;-)
   158. Mister High Standards Posted: May 18, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2025557)
John - that was the problem - I highlighted the text to instead of cut <ctrl + c> my thumb brushed the space bar... poof.


I think that makes sense, Tom. For tie-breakers, I have used similar reasoning, though only by addition, not subtraction.


Thats the point where your at - tie breakers. A bunch of players have roughly the same career different shapes, and in different lengths, but the differences for many of these pitcher are no longer obvious from macro analysis - your past the Warren Spahn - Harvey Haddix comparision. Now it is more 50 cents of 1, half dollar of the other.
   159. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2025625)
That's why my system breaks up each player's career into individual season totals instead of lumping everything into the sum-of seasons model. What a player does in one season should be separated from his other seasons, IMO.

Which brings me to a question that has vexed me of late.

Let's say that Max von Sidelines plays ten years and so does Slim Frickins. They play the same positions. They both have 200-210 WS total.

In Max's three best years he nets 30 WS each year for 90 at his peak.
In Slim's three best years, he nets 27 WS each year for 81 WS at his peak.

Max plays in a league (probably the late 1920s AL) where the league-leader has 40 WS each year. So Max is worth 75% of the best player in his league.

Slim plays in a league (probably in the 1960s AL) where the best player has 30 WS eaach year. So Slim is worth 90% of the league's best player even though he's got a peak that's 10% lower than Max.

The way I've all along been looking at things, Max is a superior candidate to Slim. I'm not sure that he is any longer. Does pennants added address this? Does anyone have a system that addresses this? Is it worth even worth addressing? I'd guess this same kind of thing happens with WARP as well. Even though it doesn't account for wins, it does account for runs, which, like wins are finite for each team.

[I'm not disguising real players with those names, but I wouldnt be surprised if these pretend guys were close to Riggs Stephenson and Tommy Tresh.]
   160. TomH Posted: May 18, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#2025637)
I think likely many of address this with our intent to balance era representation. If Max and Slim really existed, using only WS to vtoe for the HoM would result in lots of players in Max's league already elected, and few from Slim's. So there would be a push to honor Slim as the Xth best of his day, as opposed to Max. This is some of what has hurt Waddell.
   161. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 18, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2025648)
Good point Doc. Of course you would have to look at say the top N or N%, one players obviously is too small a sample. Fo rpitchers I think we do this, because otherwise pre-1920 pitchers, and especially 19th C pitchers, would dominate the HOM. However, I do htink that it was harder to dominate in later leagues than in earlier ones. Is this timelining? The earlier players still did the same versus, average, etc. right? Does this make someone like Don Mattingly better than George Sisler?

I like the idea of adjusting for this, but I feel that it would end up being similar to a timeline.
   162. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 04:11 PM (#2025652)
John - that was the problem - I highlighted the text to instead of cut <ctrl + c> my thumb brushed the space bar... poof.

Yeah, that certainly bites - bigtime!

Let's say that Max von Sidelines plays ten years and so does Slim Frickins.

The power of Christ compells me to ask "Where in the Wide World of Sports did you come up with those names, Eric?" :-D

Seriously:

Max plays in a league (probably the late 1920s AL) where the league-leader has 40 WS each year. So Max is worth 75% of the best player in his league.

Slim plays in a league (probably in the 1960s AL) where the best player has 30 WS eaach year. So Slim is worth 90% of the league's best player even though he's got a peak that's 10% lower than Max.

The way I've all along been looking at things, Max is a superior candidate to Slim. I'm not sure that he is any longer.


I actually do compare players to the top players at their positions and place a certain weight on that. However, I'm not 100% wedded to it. If your comparing a right fielder from the '20's to the Babe, that player will be unfairly hurt by that type of comparison.
   163. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2006 at 04:26 PM (#2025667)
I think likely many of address this with our intent to balance era representation.

That's how I do it. I rank players first within a decade group, and then that ranking within the group becomes Exhibit A in the total package that I use to compare players across periods.

It's unfortunate that most of our group discussions are focused on comparing players across period within positional groups, though I suppose it's handy for me because that talk gives me a second angle in addition to my primary one.

It's because I compare players within periods but across positions first that I'm so concerned about the defensive spectrum, because having a good grasp of the relative value of fielding at different positions is crucial to getting an accurate in-period ranking developed.

I'd guess this same kind of thing happens with WARP as well. Even though it doesn't account for wins, it does account for runs, which, like wins are finite for each team.

Absolutely. In fact, if you use WARP1, the effect is greater than in win shares, because win shares normalizes its values to an all-time standard on the distribution of batting, fielding, and pitching value. WARP1 lets these vary much more freely against each other, so there are huge value differences across eras. As I've been trying to bring WARP1 systematically into my rankings, I've been studying the value above replacement in WARP1 per 162 games of an average position player and an average pitcher. My study to date runs from 1871 to 1935. During the NA years due to lower replacement levels and a much higher percentage of overall value going to fielding, an average position player was 8.4 wins above replacement for 162 games. In the 1935 AL, which has the lowest percentage of value going to fielding and high replacment levels, an average position player was 5.1 wins above replacment for 162 games. A difference of that size makes any direct, simple comparison between two players from this very different eras an unreliable guide to merit.
   164. andrew siegel Posted: May 18, 2006 at 04:36 PM (#2025676)
If you look at win shares, Jim bunning and Wilbur Cooper are very similar, with a slight edge for Cooper once you adjust for WWI. If you look at WARP, it is a blowout for Bunning. Part of that is pitcher workload, although my workload calculations show the 1920s NL to be a lot closer to the 1950s-1960s than WARP seems to calculate. Another part of that is league quality, which we have debated ad infinitum. The third part seems to be defensive support (Bunning leads in DERA 4.00 to 4.15). Any thoughts on Bunning vs. Cooper? I currently have Cooper about 37th and Bunning about 17th, and am wondering whether I need to close the gap.
   165. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#2025690)
I like Cooper, I like Bunning. Coop's on my ballot and will fall in just a bit below Bunning (probably 6 vs 12 or something like that).
   166. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2006 at 05:01 PM (#2025709)
Andrew,

Your assessment seems very reasonable. I think the good Doctor is overrating Cooper somewhat.
   167. ronw Posted: May 18, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2025775)
Another similar to Bunning includes Vic Willis, who actually leads in DERA (3.98 to 4.00), but how many aught's pitchers are we going to take? (Young, Mathewson, R. Foster, McGinnity, M. Brown, Walsh)
   168. OCF Posted: May 18, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#2026178)
And Eddie Plank. (Don't worry - you did get him in your post on the other thread.)
   169. JPWF13 Posted: May 18, 2006 at 07:28 PM (#2026276)
Matt, explain to me why a game in September is more important than a game in April. They both count as 1/162th or 1/154th of the season.

Yeah but-
By September you know whether the game is really going to matter or not.

By that reckoning a game in a pennant race in September is more important at the time it happens than a random game in April- but a random game in April may be more important (at the time it happens) than a game in September after the pennant race has aleady been decided (as far as your team is concerned)

20/20 hindsight years later they're all even of course...
   170. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:16 PM (#2026462)
jimd -you don't like my "style" - fair enough.

Actually, I do like your style. And your posts.
I'm really not trying to pick on you, just pursuing a pet peeve.
It's not personal. Please don't take it that way.

You lost me here.

And that's my fault. One more try at explaining my point.

Let's look at two pitchers, J.Bunning and R.Bunning. Their careers through 1967 are identical. J.Bunning has the same extended coda as Jim Bunning (in fact, he is Jim Bunning). R.Bunning has only one more season that looks just like J.Bunning's 1971, but does it in 1968. He has a very rapid decline phase. RB either retires, or goes to the minors, but is never able to persuade a team to give him another chance.

J.Bunning is clearly a better pitcher than R.Bunning, if just by a little bit. He was able to tack on almost 600 mediocre innings that were beyond the capabilities of R.Bunning, and that gives him a better career, though their peaks and primes are identical. But, if I understand your system correctly, R.Bunning would be rated higher because he had a "better" career due to higher career rates unpolluted by the mediocrity of 1968-1971.

I see this as an inconsistency. And that's all I'm trying to say.
   171. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:24 PM (#2026490)
By that reckoning a game in a pennant race in September is more important at the time it happens than a random game in April- but a random game in April may be more important (at the time it happens) than a game in September after the pennant race has aleady been decided (as far as your team is concerned)

So I think there's one more important point to make: regression to the mean.

If a team starts hot and fades in september, there's every possiblity that it was over its head for a couple months and no matter what any individual does, they can't stanch the blood when the law of averages takes over.

Same thing going the other way, sort of. A team that's on the rise due to R2M should be peaking late in the year. No one player can be fingered as the One who made the difference. In either case, a team is 16-25 players all of whom are, at any moment, above expectations, below expectations, or regressing to the mean. So while I can understand the urge to reward unsual September/October regular-season pennant-chace performance. But the larger forces out there are out there, and they don't quit working in September, and in many cases what we see as fade and surge are just teams AND individuals groping toward their innate talent/ability level.

No wait, before some wiseacre says so: players are actually all little robots or toy soldiers without any human feelings, just talent levels that I expect them, in Duquettish fasion, to play at at all times! Or better yet, they're like that NFL "simulation" game from the 1970s where you lined the little men up and the vibrator in the board made them "run"...usually backwards!
   172. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:30 PM (#2026508)
As for Bunning, Cooper, and Willis...

You all know by now that I've got a wacky little system for this pitching stuff, and it attempts to deal with issues like usage patterns and height of pitcher peaks relative to history. Cooper, as it happens, does well in my system. So does Bunning. Rube Waddell, for instance, does not.

Ain't perfect. But it was better than what I was doing...guessing.

In fact, my total system is in need of a major overhaul for all the reasons cited in the seasonal analysis stuff above.
   173. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#2026515)
Actually let me return for a moment to Max and Slim.

Let's say that Max and Slim are at the same position AND are near contemporaries.

In fact if Slim is in the AL of the mid 1960s (where Mickey Mantle once led the league at 29 WS), then Max is in the late 1960s AL (where Yaz tossed up a 40 WS year). In other words, without the cross-generational and cross-positional concerns in play, what does our 30/40 vs 27/30 scenario mean?

Is 30 win shares just 30 win shares? Or is it really 75% of 40?
   174. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#2026516)
No wait, before some wiseacre says so: players are actually all little robots or toy soldiers without any human feelings, just talent levels that I expect them, in Duquettish fasion, to play at at all times! Or better yet, they're like that NFL "simulation" game from the 1970s where you lined the little men up and the vibrator in the board made them "run"...usually backwards!

Making a prememptive strike, I see, Eric. ;-)
   175. DL from MN Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2026531)
I think the answer to Chaleeko's question lies in standard deviations from the mean. If I could get RSAA/RCAA adjusted for stdev, that would be ideal.
   176. JPWF13 Posted: May 18, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2026536)
J.Bunning is clearly a better pitcher than R.Bunning, if just by a little bit. He was able to tack on almost 600 mediocre innings that were beyond the capabilities of R.Bunning, and that gives him a better career, though their peaks and primes are identical. But, if I understand your system correctly, R.Bunning would be rated higher because he had a "better" career due to higher career rates unpolluted by the mediocrity of 1968-1971.


What if in your example J Bunning wasn't able to tack on 600 mediocre innings- what if instead he tacked on a few hundred Lima Time type innings, or 2002-2005 Scott Erickson type innings.

On the one hand, up to 1968 J Bunning and R Bunning were even, but after that J [Lima] Bunning managed to have negative (sub replacement level) value. Does that make J worse than R overall?
   177. rawagman Posted: May 18, 2006 at 09:01 PM (#2026548)
jimd - no offense taken. But thanks to all for their encouragement.
Just trying to clarify my position (maybe I hope this will sway others to my way of thinking;-)

In the case you showed, J. Bunning gets higher points.
I use rate, but not only.
I use it to help balance the peak/career question.

I just have a fondness for those players who had high peaks in generally effective careers.
My system hurts players who had average peaks, but very good primes and careers and healthy counting stats.
For me, that is where Jim Bunning falls.
So did Robin Roberts. But note I didn't punish him. I just didn't have him right at the top. Only took him 5 years in my system. That's not really that bad, is it?

This system caused me problems with Dick Redding. At first, I really looked at him as a high peak guy. So high, I got him straight to my PHoM.
But then I realized a rookie error and looked into his career and more closely at his peak. And he dropped. Right now he's at 24.
Maybe I dropped him too far. Some would say I was right the first time, others that I didn't drop him far enough.

Anyway, my reasearch potential is limited based on university requirements and my real job.
This weeks question/research will be taken re-weighing my ballot spots for my current 10-13 of Beckley, Stephens, Kiner and Roush.

Is that order correct?

Stay tuned.

John - I got in the group. Thanks.
   178. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 18, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2026560)
Howmuch of the difference between WARP's 1 and 3 is simply an adjustment in average between Max and Slim's eras? If Max is average and the average player is worth 3 fewer wins in Slim's era, one can see why WARP would dock him so much between 1 and 3.
   179. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 09:52 PM (#2026607)
In the case you showed, J. Bunning gets higher points.

Then it's all just a misunderstanding.

I just have a fondness for those players who had high peaks in generally effective careers.

Me too, though I care less about the rest of the career being effective. Past support includes players like Caruthers, Rube Foster, Jennings, and Ferrell. The good parts matter, the bad parts don't.

Check out Early Wynn and his thread for more on this topic. Wynn had a decline phase that was twice as long as Bunning's. And a long preliminary phase as a prospect that maybe should have been in the minors.
   180. jimd Posted: May 18, 2006 at 10:01 PM (#2026615)
what if instead he tacked on a few hundred Lima Time type innings

L.Bunning ("Lima-Time" Bunning) couldn't be worse than R.Bunning, though he also might not be better. If all of LB's seasons were below replacement, well, the guy in the minors or forced to retire is not likely to be better. And it's not LB's fault that the team is willing to still play him at that level of performance. Unless someone has evidence that LB is deliberately throwing meatballs for some reason, he just gets zero credit.
   181. JPWF13 Posted: May 19, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2027109)
If all of LB's seasons were below replacement, well, the guy in the minors or forced to retire is not likely to be better.

Oh I wouldn't make that assumption- the team I follow has wasted many starts and innings on sub replacement pitching WHILE BETTER ALTERNATIVES WERE ALREADY ON HAND-

in Fact Lima himself has pitched many many sub replacement innings while his teams- Stros-Royals, now Mets almopst certainly had and have better alternatives- it seems to be that since Lima Time once upon a time won 20 his managers are in complete denial concerning how badly he sucks.
   182. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 19, 2006 at 02:25 PM (#2027140)
[Reactionary Baseball Fan/GM/Writer SOP 327: How to succinctly bring discussion of obviously washed-up veterans to cessation.]

Hey JPWF13,

[SOP 327, step 1: Assume aggressive posture.]

Ease off on Jose, OK?

[SOP 327, step 2: Rebut effetively and emphatically with strongest argument.]

He's a PROVEN, MAJOR LEAGUE VETERAN.

[SOP 327, step 3: Bring coversation to successful cessation through petty insult.]

How many Major League innings have you thrown?

[End SOP 327, resume normal baseball reactionary discussion activities]
   183. sunnyday2 Posted: May 19, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2027153)
>I just have a fondness for those players who had high peaks in generally effective careers.

ra: Don't we all. This would describe inner circle types.

The question we are all grappling with is who to elect after we're done with the high peak/effective careers.
   184. JPWF13 Posted: May 19, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#2027171)
How many Major League innings have you thrown?


Zilch, Nada, Zippo

but Lima still sucks rocks
   185. Chris Cobb Posted: May 23, 2006 at 04:36 PM (#2033281)
Assessing Bunning’s Prime

On the ballot thread, Daryn asked: what’s so good about Bunning? This study provides a view of what’s good about him.

There’s been a lot of talk about the effect on Bunning’s value of his decline seasons, 1968-71, so I decided to take a look instead at Bunning’s prime: the eleven seasons from 1957, his first year as a full-time starter, through 1967. How good were these seasons, in the aggregate, in comparison to the best 11 consecutive seasons of other eligible pitchers? I’ve worked out some comparative data, using WARP runs above average as the starting point. I’ve used WARP because the normalized values make it easy to combine groups of seasons, and I’ve focused on runs above average because it leaves out controversial questions of the way WARP moves around replacement level.

The first table addresses Bunning’s effectiveness during his prime. In this table, I worked with the best 11 consecutive seasons for Bunning and all eligible pitchers who 1) received a vote in 1976 and 2) have a reasonable claim to have been full-time starters for 11 seasons consecutively, 3) pitched after 1892, and 4) spent their career in the major leagues.

I adjusted innings pitched, pitching runs above average and batting runs above replacement to 162-game seasons. These totals appear as adj. IP, PRAA, and BRAR below. I then calculated a DERA for each pitcher’s prime, and a DERA+ (DERA is set to a 4.5 r/g environment). I then added together PRAA and BRAR to get total runs above average (treating replacement level hitting as average for pitchers – I know that’s too high, but it wasn’t worth trying to adjust more finely here), and then divided RAA/11 to get an “average season” for each pitcher. Here is the table, ordered by DERA+.

Table 1 – Effectiveness during prime years

Pitcher  Years    Adj
IP DERA  DERAPRAA  BRAR  RAA   RAA/yr.
Waddell  1899-09  3186.2  3.60  125   319.8  -76  243.3  19.09
Bridges  1933
-43  2506.2  3.62  124   245.1  -60  185.1  18.47
Shocker  1917
-27  2774.7  3.69  122   250.9   -5  246.0  22.16
Bunning  1957
-67  3006.0  3.70  122   267.4  -76  191.3  15.91
Pierce   1950
-60  2713.2  3.76  120   223.0  -60  163.1  15.02
Gomez    1931
-41  2480.8  3.77  119   200    -94  106.2  10.71
Trout    1941
-51  2421.6  3.78  119   194.6   -9  185.1  19.11
Leonard  1938
-48  2481.5  3.79  119   196.7  -69  127.3  12.82
Trucks
*  1942-54  2316.9  3.83  117   172.5  -68  104.1  11.24
Cicotte  1910
-20  3075.6  3.87  116   216.8  -49  167.6  13.62
Willis   1899
-09  3782.8  3.90  115   251.7 -104  148.0   9.78
Friend   1955
-65  2898.8  3.97  113   170.6 -109   61.6   5.31
Walters  1936
-46  2930.3  4.00  113   163.1   -2  160.9  13.73
Cooper   1914
-17  3316.1  4.04  111   170.1  -13  156.8  11.82
Mays     1916
-26  2848.9  4.04  111   144.3   14  158.3  13.89
Simmons
# 1950-61  2079.7  4.07  111    98.9  -43   55.8   6.70
Jackson  1957-67  2816.4  4.10  110   125.6  -77   48.9   4.34
Grimes   1920
-30  3154.9  4.10  110   139.9   -6  133.6  10.59
Newsom   1934
-44  3079.1  4.17  108   112.6  -87   25.2   2.05
Tot 
Avg.       53869.7  3.89  116  3663.5 -995 2668.3  12.38

*Trucks’ prime skips over the 1944-45 years which he missed due to the war.
#Simmons’ prime skips 1952, when he did not play in the majors. 


Bunning’s prime rates highly in the group of 19. His adj. IP are 7th, which is especially impressive given that many pitchers here hurled in eras with higher avg. IP totals (more on that later). Pierce is 12th.

He is 4th in DERA, 2nd in PRAA. Pierce is 5th and 6th.

His BRAR are below avg., so he places 3rd in RAA total, behind Shocker (246) and Waddell (243.3). Close behind him are Bridges and Trucks (185.1 each). Pierce is 7th.

He is 5th in rate, being Shocker, Trout, Waddell, and Bridges. Pierce is 6th.

So Bunning is in the upper tier in this group on effectiveness, but he is not at the top. However, he was substantially more durable than everyone else in the top effectiveness group except for Waddell, and contextual differences probably account for Waddell’s superiority here. How valuable or meritorious is Bunning’s durability? I decided to have a go at quantifying the matter without simply accepting WARP’s replacement level as a measure.

I have calculated the innings pitched thrown by an average starting pitcher for each season from 1871 through 1971. Using these values, I calculated a prime IP+ for each pitcher, which, like ERA+, shows the percentage that the pitcher was above average in innings pitched. This figure is adjusted by a rotation factor. Major-league pitcher usage shifted very gradually from a system of 3 primary starters to a system of 4 primary starters from the 1893 to 1920, when pitcher usage stabilized, more or less, until the 1980s. When fewer starters are getting more innings, that lowers the percentage that the top pitchers will be above average. What is listed in the table below as the Rfact is the “rotation factor” by which I have multiplied the average IP to adjust for the compression effect of fewer starting pitchers getting a larger percentage of innings.

Table 2 – Durability during Prime Years

Pitcher  Adj
IP  AvgIP Rfact IP+
Bunning  3006.0  2301.1   1.0   1.31
Newsom   3079.1  2400.5   1.0   1.28
Willis   3782.8  3322.4   0.9   1.27
Friend   2898.8  2370.4   1.0   1.22
Walters  2930.3  2398.4   1.0   1.22
Grimes   3154.9  2612.0   1.0   1.21
Cooper   3316.1  2837.5   0.975 1.20
Jackson  2816.4  2371.5   1.0   1.19
Pierce   2713.2  2304.8   1.0   1.18
Cicotte  3075.6  2864.5   0.95  1.13
Mays     2848.9  2733.0   0.975 1.07
Leonard  2481.5  2350.1   1.0   1.06
Shocker  2774.7  2708.8   0.975 1.05
Waddell  3186.2  3370.9   0.9   1.05
Bridges  2506.2  2396.3   1.0   1.05
Gomez    2480.8  2440.5   1.0   1.02
Trout    2421.6  2384.8   1.0   1.02
Trucks   2316.9  2387.9   1.0   0.97
Simmons  2079.7  2365.8   1.0   0.88
Average                         1.12 


As you can see, Bunning’s durability during his prime, adjusted for era, was truly exceptional, as he tops the list. His durability is not as great as his elected near-contemporaries Roberts (1.44) and Spahn (1.38), but it is about the same as Drysdale (1.31) and Wynn (1.28).

Analysis of the impact of durability on value will follow in the next post.
   186. Chris Cobb Posted: May 23, 2006 at 04:38 PM (#2033285)
Bunning’s Prime – The Impact of Durability on Value

Now, it may stand to reason that, as #1 in durability and #5 in effectiveness, and with no other pitcher in the eligible group ranking in the top 5 in both categories, Bunning has the #1 prime among eligible pitchers, but I thought I would try to quantify the value of Bunning’s durability a bit more precisely, so here is a final table, which adjusts runs above average according to era-adjusted durability.

IP2 is IP+ normalized to the average seasonal innings pitched of Bunning’s prime (209.2).
RAA/250 is the pitcher’s rate of runs above average, taken from Table 1 above.
RAA2/yr is the pitcher’s RAA rate per innings times his normalized seasonal IP (IP2).
RAA2 is his normalized runs above average for his 11-year prime (RAA/yr * 11). RAA2 I would offer as a fair representation of each pitcher’s value, adjusted to reflect the value of his durability in context.
Adj. W1 is the pitcher’s WARP1 total, adjusted for seasonal length. I include it here to offer a second view of the contextual value of the pitcher’s effectiveness and durability. I think WARP1 underrates the value of durability in the 1920s and 1930s somewhat because it is too heavily DIPS-based in its adjustments, but its conclusions about value and mine are not radically different.

This adjustment may seem like an unfair adjustment to an “all-time” standard, but I don’t think it is, because it works off of IP+, which is a comparison of a player to his peers. Yes, Waddell and Willis are getting their total innings reduced a good deal, but lots of pitchers were throwing lots of innings in a season then, so they did not stand out against their peers by these measures as much as they do against players from other eras. This study is attempting to accurately compare the effect of pitchers’ contextual durability on their value.


Table 3 – Value adjusted for durability

Pitcher  IP2   RAA
/250 RAA2/yr RAA2  AdjW1
Bunning  273.3  15.91  17.4   191.3   88.1
Newsom   268.4   2.05   2.2    24.2   72.6
Willis   264.7   9.78  10.4   113.9   78.1
Friend   255.9   5.31   5.4    59.8   69.9
Walters  255.6  13.73  14.0   154.4   80.6
Grimes   252.7  10.59  10.7   117.7   79.9
Cooper   252.1  11.82  11.9   131.1   73.9
Jackson  248.5   4.34   4.3    47.5   69.0
Pierce   246.3  15.02  14.8   162.8   85.7
Cicotte  236.5  13.62  12.9   141.7   75.4
Mays     223.7  13.89  12.4   136.7   75.2
Leonard  220.9  12.82  11.3   124.6   69.0
Shocker  219.8  22.16  19.5   214.4   83.0
Waddell  219.7  19.09  16.8   184.6   81.0
Bridges  218.8  18.47  16.2   177.8   78.3
Gomez    212.7  10.71   9.1   100.2   68.8
Trout    212.4  19.11  16.2   178.7   83.6
Trucks   203.0  11.24   9.1   100.4   71.5
Simmons  183.9   6.70   4.9    54.2   54.2
Averages 235.2  12.44  11.6   127.2   75.7 


Here’s how the contextual adjustment of durability affects the RAA rankings and WARP1


Table 4 – Three views of value

Top 10 RAA       Top 10 RAA2      Top 10 adj
W1
246.0 Shocker    214.4 Shocker    88.1 Bunning
243.3 Waddell    191.3 Bunning    85.7 Pierce
191.3 Bunning    184.6 Waddell    83.6 Trout
185.1 Bridges    178.7 Trout      83.0 Shocker
185.1 Trout      177.8 Bridges    81.0 Waddell
167.6 Cicotte    162.8 Pierce     80.6 Walters
163.1 Pierce     154.4 Walters    79.9 Grimes
160.9 Walters    141.7 Cicotte    78.3 Bridges
158.3 Mays       136.7 Mays       78.1 Willis
156.8 Cooper     131.1 Cooper     75.4 Cicotte 


So, what to conclude from all this data? I conclude the following:

1) Bunning’s prime is legitimately outstanding when compared to the pool of eligible major-league pitchers. No other pitcher so combines effectiveness and durability.

2) Urban Shocker is wrongly neglected by the electorate. Admittedly, he has almost no career outside his prime and he does not show a mind-boggling peak with sub-3.00 DERAs or top-notch durability. But, over more than a decade, no other eligible pitcher added so much value to his teams.

3) Bunning’s prime is not so outstanding as to make him obviously the #1 major-league pitching candidate eligible. Waddell, Bridges, and Pierce have arguments to rank ahead of Bunning still.

Waddell’s prime is almost as valuable, his peak is better, and he has an argument for some MLE credit early in his career. Without this credit, his career is notably less valuable, however. I will take Bunning ahead of Waddell.

Bridges has two good years (1931-32) and two possible war-credit years (1944-45) in addition to his prime. If he gets full war-credit, his career would be better than Bunning’s, and without war credit, their careers are about equal. He lacks a strong peak within his prime, however. Because he did not pitch well after he returned from the war, I am dubious about full war credit. I will take Bunning ahead of Bridges, but Bridges will be moving up in my rankings (as will Shocker).

Pierce has four years of effective pitching outside his prime versus Bunning’s four years of, overall, ineffective pitching outside his prime, so he has the better career value. His peak and prime look less good than Bunning’s, but he has the leverage argument for his relief work and his higher percentage of complete games that suggest he may have been more valuable to his teams than an “all innings are created equal” analysis is capable of discerning. My ranking of players versus their immediate contemporaries rates Pierce above Bunning, and this prime study doesn’t provide information that convinces me to alter that.
   187. TomH Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:28 PM (#2033323)
Nice study, Chris.

I agree Shocker is undervalued here, in that I have him in my top 50 but he gets no "air time" from strong supporters. I rank his prime even with another guy who has no Best Friends; could you add Newcombe to your study? Fine prime (49-59, but missing 2+ war years) in a strong league.
   188. Daryn Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:25 PM (#2033372)
Bunning’s prime is not so outstanding as to make him obviously the #1 major-league pitching candidate eligible. Waddell, Bridges, and Pierce have arguments to rank ahead of Bunning still.

Great work Chris. Throw in Shocker to that list -- Waddell, Bridges, Shocker, Pierce and Bunning. That's his cohort. You can make an argument he is number 1 among that group, but I would argue he is #3 or maybe #4. The other four in that group finished 15, 17, 38 and off ballot last year (Shocker doesn't seem to have got a vote last year, even though Chris said you had to get a vote to be in the consideration set). Bunning looks like he will finish in the top 4, and probably will be elected. That doesn't add up to me.

Shiny New Toy?
   189. sunnyday2 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 07:29 PM (#2033429)
Shiny New Toy.
   190. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:01 PM (#2033452)
Shiny New Toy.

Speaking for myself, I resent the notion of my slotting of Bunning as Shiny New Toy Syndrome. It may be wrong, it may be stupid, but it's my best guess using the available numbers. Bunning the pitcher means nothing to me since he retired while I was in kindergarten, so what Svengali powers is he exhibiting upon me?

I find that phrase 100 times more annoying than the term "no-brainer" that some here have a problem with.

Does that mean that some here might be infected by this "disease?" I have no idea and I don't feel like trying to read everybody's mind here.

If anyone has a problem has a problem with a selection, please debate it instead.

BTW, I'm not as cranky as I sound. Just needed my annual venting. :-)
   191. Rob_Wood Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:28 PM (#2033482)
Great work Chris. You have shown Bunning in a very favorable light and
although he comes out looking like one of the best pitchers eligible he is
not clearly on top, and other pitchers may be considered more worthy.

Personally, I have Bridges and Pierce slightly ahead of Bunning (and Bunning
slightly ahead of Waddell and Shocker both of whom I used to vote mid-ballot).
I'll have Bridges on my ballot but probably not Pierce and definitely not
Bunning.

I think the issue comes down to how a voter slots pitchers in with position
players. To me solid-career hitters like Bob Elliott, Bob Johnson, Jake
Beckley, Ken Boyer, Nellie Fox, Joe Sewell, and Edd Roush and more worthy
than a solid-career pitcher like Jim Bunning. Others may disagree.

Final comment: when I see "shiny new toy" I don't take offense -- I take it as
shorthand for the natural tendency for voters to "misvalue" a player on his
first ballot (sometimes too high, sometimes too low). We do have a full
week devoted to discussion but I can personally vouch that even that week
is not always enough for voters to settle upon an evaluation (ranking) of
each new player with which they ultimately are comfortable. Since the
consequences of errors are asymmetrical, I take the "shiny new toy" phrase
as a welcome caution to fully consider the strengths and weaknesses of all
players, most especially new players.
   192. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2033485)
I take the "shiny new toy" phrase
as a welcome caution to fully consider the strengths and weaknesses of all
players, most especially new players.


I can totally accept the sentiment, Rob, but I still hate that phrase. :-)
   193. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:40 PM (#2033491)
BTW, I have posted the same sentiment that Rob eloquently defined "Shiny New Toy" as in past ballot threads. However, "Shiny New Toy" makes it sound as if a voter is mesmerized by a player's statline, instead of possibly missing some relevant data about a particular candidate that could possibly change that voter's evaluation.
   194. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:44 PM (#2033493)
Good work, Chris. However, I noticed that Welch and Mullane are not listed. Where would you place them?
   195. Chris Cobb Posted: May 23, 2006 at 11:13 PM (#2033619)
Throw in Shocker to that list -- Waddell, Bridges, Shocker, Pierce and Bunning. That's his cohort. You can make an argument he is number 1 among that group, but I would argue he is #3 or maybe #4. The other four in that group finished 15, 17, 38 and off ballot last year (Shocker doesn't seem to have got a vote last year, even though Chris said you had to get a vote to be in the consideration set). Bunning looks like he will finish in the top 4, and probably will be elected. That doesn't add up to me.

Shiny New Toy?


About Shocker: I included both Shocker and Newsom even though they didn't get a vote because I knew they both had over 80 adj. WARP1 and had career shapes that could be effectively evaluated over 11 seasons. At one point I had a sentence about why I included them in the preamble, but I cut it and some point to re-prhase it and forgot to replace it.

About Bunning as SNT: I think the electorate's treatment of him is quite consistent with their treatment of similar pitchers Lemon and Drysdale. My sense is that we are very slightly overvaluing modern pitchers. I'm not sure why, though part of it is surely the bifurcation effect in our evaluation of new players: elect immediately or deep-six immediately are more likely outcomes than landing in the middle of the backlog. If Bunning is elected, I wouldn't see that as a mistake. I think he _should_ be elected. I am doubtful that he should be elected _now_, however.

I also think we should elect Waddell and Pierce, for that matter, so I hope this study will help their cases. Shocker and Bridges I am not sure about, but I have a more favorable view of them than I used to. Their primes are really nice, but they don't have the peak or career to go with the prime.

could you add Newcombe to your study? Fine prime (49-59, but missing 2+ war years) in a strong league.

Sure. I am working on another table that includes the post-war HoMer pitchers and a couple of Bunning's contemporaries who will be eligible soon. I will add Newcombe to that table.

Good work, Chris. However, I noticed that Welch and Mullane are not listed. Where would you place them?

I didn't put any pre-1893 pitchers through this particular system. Usage patterns from that era are too different for the comparison to make sense. In my larger system, I see Welch as being similar to the Bunning/Pierce/Shocker/Waddell/Bridges group: he's around the bottom of the HoM-worthy players for his time. Mullane I see as a bit below Welch. I could run them through the system as a speculative exercise, but I'd have to figure our what the rfactor for them should be.
   196. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#2034839)
Of course if everyoneplaces Bunning mid ballot or lower he is ggoing in with all of the disagreement on the backlog. I will have Bunning 7th (Drysdale would be fourth) and at the top of the group that has been talked about. Waddell is on my ballot, Pierce is in my top 30 and I can see why he is on ballots. Shocker has been as high as #21 for me but currrently sits at #35. I dont' get the whold Bridges thing, he is not in my top 50.

But Bunning had a very nice prime and a decent peak. To me Chris proved that Bunning (or possibly Waddell) is tops in that group.

Oh, and I would find it nearly meaningless (too strong?)to include Mullane and Welch in that group, such a huge difference in IP per season (affect career length as well) that it is so hard to compare them in any way. Almost a different position.

My pitcher list looks like this right now (all are in my top 35)

Redding
Bunning
Walters
Dean
Waddell

Ballot line

Mendez
Willis
Pierce
Shocker
   197. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 24, 2006 at 01:20 PM (#2035163)
Oh, and I would find it nearly meaningless (too strong?)to include Mullane and Welch in that group, such a huge difference in IP per season (affect career length as well) that it is so hard to compare them in any way. Almost a different position.

I agree that it's difficult to place them in a more modern context. I just don't want them to be totally removed from the discussion that they start to be left off of ballots because of this difficulty.
   198. rawagman Posted: May 24, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2035183)
Personally, I feel that too much of Bunning's strength lies in his durability. Durability does not go far in my system.
   199. Daryn Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:36 PM (#2035316)
I can totally accept the sentiment, Rob, but I still hate that phrase. :-)

I'll stop using the phrase because I don't like to offend people, but I find it to be very evocative of the response we give new candidates. When I give my kids a shiny new toy, it instantly is their favourite. I could see how that could be insulting, because they are just kids and we are mature rational adults. But I just got my three-advanced-degrees-lawyer wife an MP3 player, and she has the same response to it as the kids do to a shiny new toy. I was the same when I got my WinShares book or when I got mlb.tv -- it is clearly a response that most adults have involuntarily. It would be wrong of us, in my view, to not recognize it exists. It is an involuntary response psychologically speaking, or so my psychiatrist father tells me, so you can't account for it by being extra-rational.

The reason only some of the electorate fall for it is because there is another psychological factor at play -- comfortable Teddy Bear. That happens to supercede Shiny New Toy for me -- which doesn't make it a better approach, it is just a fact of my voting pattern.

As Chris points out, Bunning is not unique in our voting patterns, which says to me we have more voters who are inclined to the Shiny New Toy than are inclined to their favourite old Teddy Bear. Which, by happenstance, is consistent with today's North American society. If we all lived in Bhutan, Welch and Beckley would have been elected years ago.
   200. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:56 PM (#2035335)
Since folks have chewed the numbers up but good, I will merely volunteer the fact that when I watched Jim Bunning pitch I considered him a very good pitcher. But nothing extraordinary.

As the various tables show Bunning was among the better ones of a solid group of pitchers. If you had five of those guys as your rotation you are in contention.

Still doesn't make him truly special.
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