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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Joe Cronin

Joe Cronin

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 17, 2005 at 08:03 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 17, 2005 at 08:16 PM (#1264857)
Does he own the major league record for a player ballooning so quickly after he retired?
   2. Flynn Posted: April 17, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1264933)
The Execelsior's first Hall of Famer.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 17, 2005 at 09:26 PM (#1264949)
Joe Cronin's a fairly easy selection for the HOM to my mind. The question will be which two among he, Waner, and DiHigo will enter the HOM first.

I've got Cronin as very similar in value (adjusted to 162 schedule) to Sandberg, Jackie, Banks, Appling, and Robbie Alomar. I think he's the 8th-12th best SS all time (without yet having any sense of where Devil Wells fits in).
   4. DavidFoss Posted: April 17, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1264960)
Cronin, Bartell and Vaughn all started out with the Pirates in 26, 28 & 32 respectively. That's a good chunk of SS talent coming up for one team in a brief period of time.

baseballlibrary.com incorrectly links the Pirates dumping Cronin to Vaughn (Vaughn was only 16 at the time Cronin left).

Cronin's career trajectory has an interesting bi-modal look to it. He had a prolonged mid-career slump from 34-37 or so. I know he injured his thumb in 36, but anyone know any other causes for something like that? I know these things can just happen randomly, but still a bit curious.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 17, 2005 at 09:38 PM (#1264968)
David,

I don't know about the mid-career slump's reason, but I remember reading in Billy Werber's book that when Lefty Grove was on the team, Cronin was having all kinds of problems with fielding and actually had to take grounders on one knee. Grove would then shout nasty things at him.

Anyway, I bring this up because I wonder if the two are related.
   6. DavidFoss Posted: April 17, 2005 at 09:50 PM (#1264986)
Looking at Cronin more. It's obvious that when Cronin benched himself for Pesky in 1942, that he could still hit quite well. I wonder if that weight-gain that John mentioned had anything to do with this. Definitely a youth movement in Boston that year as they waived a .270/.392/.460 hitting Jimmie Foxx so that they could play Tony Lupien.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: April 18, 2005 at 05:15 PM (#1266972)
jschmeagol asked elsewhere about Cronin vs. Jennings. Certainly a SS glut has been developing, though having already inducted Jennings and Dobie Moore into my PHoM my SS glut is not as bad as yours.

Here is where I am at right now today with Cronin's rating being off the top, the rest from years of worry.

1. Cronin--but somewhat overrated in the way that all of the "insiders" (players who became managers, GMs, etc.) of the era are overrated. Still one of the top 6-8 SS in ML history (not active). Could move down, won't move up ;-)

2. Jennings--aside from Wagner you probably have to go all the way to Willie Mays to find a guy who did everything as well as Hughie. Or to put it another way, whose "weaknesses" were better than most players' strengths.

3. Dobie Moore--the black Jennings, though with more prime years. And acc. to the accepted MLE WS, his peak was almost exactly equal to Cronin's, but with a shorter career.

4. Dick Lundy--whoever said that he looks better than Beckwith was right, it's just a question of properly valuing his defense. And BTW, I don't buy for a minute that he would have had a 122 OPS+ in the MLs. But clearly this was a guy who could do it all, and did so longer than many. He rates below all of the above on peak, and for skills he rates below them all on batting for power. But in Cronin's range for career value.

(4a. Beckwith, but whom I picture more as a 3B. The above are all on my ballot, the below are not at the moment. Beckwith could go, and has been going, either way.)

5. Sewell--possibly a HoMer yet but clearly more of a backlogger than the shoo-in he appeared when first eligible.

6. Bancroft--grossly underrated. A Lundy type, solid offensively (98 OPS+ is damn good for a GG SS), but while Lundy is no 122 in my mind, he is more than a 98.

7. Maranville
8. Bartell
9. Tinker
10. Long

(Top 100 eligibles above [all the way through Bancroft are within sniffing distance of the top 25, it falls off rapidly after that], honorable mention below.)

11. Art Fletcher
12. Pelayo Chacon
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: April 18, 2005 at 05:17 PM (#1266983)
PS. The SS glut isn't going to be getting any better any time soon, except and unless we elect a few. Aside from the obvious choices, one of the all-time most underrated players, IMHO, is coming up. That would be Vern Stephens. Maybe not a wonderful "character," but compare him year by year to Lou Boudreau and you can make a pretty strong argument that Stephens was more valuable (setting aside managerial achievements). And then thanks to Kelly, I find that Stephens was even winning GGs at SS in the late '40s.
   9. DavidFoss Posted: April 19, 2005 at 01:56 AM (#1269047)
Just checked and Bill James rates Cronin's fielding as an 'A-'. That doesn't match the anecdotes we've heard in the Ferrell and Grove discussion threads. I had the anecdotes fresh in my mind and so I was going to rank Cronin behind Beckwith, figuring that Beckwith hit better. Is that 'A-' for real?
   10. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 19, 2005 at 11:44 AM (#1269657)
The A- vs. the Bad Rep could be caused by one of two things.

1) Win Shares properly values his range, and his rep was caused by his propensity for errors. It's easy to see errors and criticize them. It's hard to judge range just by watching someone play.

2) Win Shares overrates his defense because he played a key position for good teams. Win Shares properly values fielding about 70% of the time, it's entirely possible this is a case where it's wrong.

I have no idea which effect is more at play here . . .

Sunnday - I agree on Bancroft, I really like him - I wish I could find a spot for him on my ballot.
   11. karlmagnus Posted: April 19, 2005 at 11:48 AM (#1269661)
Joe. Probably 2. Even the Red Sox fan-book I have written after 1946 doesn't suggest he was a great fielder, and he was a truly bad one after 1936 or so. I have to say he's no higher than the middle of my ballot -- not much better than Sewell, and there's a lot of baggage as a truly dreadful Red Sox manager (lost the '46 Series single handedly) who gave a fake tryout to Jackie Robinson.
   12. karlmagnus Posted: April 19, 2005 at 11:49 AM (#1269662)
that should be "fan book which was written after 1946." I wasn't in the writing business in '46!
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: April 19, 2005 at 02:00 PM (#1269760)
Cronin's best OPS+s:
138 136 135 129 127 125 124 123 119 108 107 102

Even more remarkably, all of them had at least 615 PAs, providing added impact.
I suspect the early ones came while he was a fairly good fielder, the later ones not so much.

But the issue of his fielding is an issue, since the HOM does not take kindly to butchers.

Cronin vs Doyle, OPS+s:

CRONIN 138 136 135 129 127 125 124 123 119 108 107 102

LDOYLE 154 148 140 136* 135* 133 128 126 114 109 106 100

The asterisks indicate seasons of 400-450 ABs. Rest are the full, fulltime ones. Slight edge to Doyle by this admittedly not utterly complete metric, but roughly some might call it even.
   14. Chris Cobb Posted: April 19, 2005 at 03:31 PM (#1269963)
On Cronin's fielding:

WARP sees Cronin as a solidly above-average defender during his years as a starter in Washington. He had a couple of truly dreadful years in Boston in 1935 and 1937, but he was average or slightly below average the rest of the time.

WS sees Cronin as the best defensive shortstop in baseball in the early 1930s -- he leads the majors in fielding win sharess in 1930 and 1931 (and again in 1938!). WS agrees that Cronin was bad in 1935, but it sees his 1937 season as decent.

My conclusions:

1) definitely a butcher for a couple of seasons, but not for his career
2) probably overrated by win shares, perhaps for the reasons Joe suggests
3) his fielding not good enough to get him ahead of Waner on my ballot, but not bad enough to raise any question about his worthiness for the HoM.
4) Whether he or Beckwith will get the #2 slot on my ballot remains to be determined.
   15. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 19, 2005 at 09:53 PM (#1270977)
I was just about to post taht WARP likes Cronin's fiedling as well. His peak and career value in the uberstats make him an easy choice for an elect me slot by those measures.

There may be some worries about OPS+ (though the 1930's AL was a much tougher place to play than the 1910's NL and SS is a tougher defensive position than 2B), fielding anecdotes, etc. Where I sit with him is at #2, above Jennings, Suttles, and Beckwith and behind Waner.

Cronin had a lot of career value and an nice peak/prime. He was a very good hitter, especially for a SS, and he was a solidily above average fielder for his career. I want to make sure we aren't picking nits here, if you take a step back and see the whole picture he is a definite HOMer.
   16. DavidFoss Posted: April 19, 2005 at 10:09 PM (#1271014)
I want to make sure we aren't picking nits here, if you take a step back and see the whole picture he is a definite HOMer.

Cronin will slot no lower than 4th on my ballot (Waner, Dihigo, and Beckwith has gotten a boost from me due to comparing him to Cronin). Any nits I'm picking are just looking for where to place him in my top four.

I'll probably be boring and slot him #2 :-).
   17. OCF Posted: April 19, 2005 at 11:11 PM (#1271189)
Since Doyle has been brought into it - by the context-adjusted RCAA that I like to play with, here are their seasons (in roughly win-sized units), sorted best to worst:
Doyle  
5.9 4.8 4.4 3.7 3.4 3.0 2.5 2.5 2.0 1.8 1.5 1.2 -.4
Cronin
4.2 3.9 3.9 3.8 3.5 3.1 2.6 2.6 2.1 1.3 0.9 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.1 -.1 -.7 -1.0

On that measure of offense, I would like Doyle better. The numbers above are RCAA; if I change that to RC above 75% of average, then the two are roughly even, Cronin catching up because his career was longer.

Of course, there are several things to point out:

Cronin was (mostly) a shortstop; Doyle was a second baseman and really belongs to the Lajoie/Collins/Hornsby time of offense-first second basemen.

I have not adjusted for league strength. I'm maybe a little more skeptical of the notion of the weak NL than some here, but it is something to think about.

Cronin has a defensive advantage.

And finally, I have Doyle very high on my ballot anyway. Cronin goes ahead of Doyle on my ballot, and that's good news for Cronin.
   18. jimd Posted: April 20, 2005 at 02:04 AM (#1272163)
The A- vs. the Bad Rep could be caused by one of two things.

1) Win Shares properly values his range, and his rep was caused by his propensity for errors. It's easy to see errors and criticize them. It's hard to judge range just by watching someone play.

2) Win Shares overrates his defense because he played a key position for good teams. Win Shares properly values fielding about 70% of the time, it's entirely possible this is a case where it's wrong.


Not discussing Cronin in particular but the sentiments in general.

1) Agree.

2) Disagree strongly.

Win Shares does not give enough credit to fielding because it's DIPS adjustment is not strong enough. It causes fielding to be undervalued (and pitching overvalued) whenever errors are high or strikeouts are low (see 19th century). It causes fielding to be overvalued (and pitching undervalued) whenever errors are low or strikeouts are high (see 1960's and later).

It then compounds this problem by not trusting it's own formulae, and so caps fielding Win Shares whenever they go over a certain rate. This only occurs on good defensive teams which usually are good teams in general.

However, I haven't looked at Cronin to see if any of this applies to him specifically.

One of the reasons I think that WARP does a better job at this is because the relative value of pitchers and position players stays fairly constant (at least when compared to Win Shares). The need for adjustments by era is not as evident.

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