Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

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

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Leon Day

Leon Day

Eligible in 1960.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2005 at 11:29 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

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

   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2005 at 11:45 PM (#1562403)
Reading up on Day, he reminds me of Walter Johnson on the mound (no windup and sidearm). Does that seem reasonable?
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: August 22, 2005 at 12:44 AM (#1562481)
Here is Bill James' list of the Best Negro League Pitchers (by Years)


1930 Ted Trent
1931 Bill Foster
1932 Bill Foster
1933 Chet Brewer
1934 Slim Jones
1935 Leroy Matlock
1936 Satchel Paige
1937 Leon Day
1938 Terris McDuffie
1939 Hilton Smith

Hilton Smith won 2 more in 1941 and 1943, thereby joining Joe Rogan (1922-'24-'25), Bill Foster (1927 plus the 2 above) and Bill Byrd (1944-'48-'49) as the only pitchers with 3 years as James' best NeL pitcher.

For Day 1937 was his only such year.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 22, 2005 at 02:58 PM (#1563201)
Day was a really good hitter as well, and he played a pretty good centerfield IIRC. At some point soon, I'll post his Mexican League batting lines and relative lines.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: August 22, 2005 at 03:27 PM (#1563259)
For a long time, I thought that Leon Day had been elected to the HoF as a 2B. Can anyone think of any reason why I thought that? Did he play any IF?
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: August 23, 2005 at 01:01 PM (#1565570)
I hope somebody is going to provide the raw data pretty soon!?

From Chris Cobb on Hilton Smith thread:

8-16 yrs. Leon Day, 1935-37, 1939-40, 1942-43, 1946. Day is going to be one hellaciously tough player to evaluate. His Negro-League pitching record comes mostly from 7 seasons (those listed above except 1940, when he was in Venezuela and Mexico, going a combined 18-1), which are better documented than Smith’s 12 seasons. So his pitching value may be lower than Smith’s. However, the seasons when he was not pitching are a varied lot. In 1938 he seems to have been lightly used. Was he injured, holding out, struggling? In 1941, he began the year in the rotation, but when the team’s CF’er was drafted, he switched to CF, and when the 2nd baseman was injured, he shifted to 2B. So he was playing full time, but not pitching. In 1944-45, he was in the army. Late in a brilliant 1946 season, he developed a sore arm and was ineffective in the 1946 WS. He continued pitching in Mexico in 1947-48, in the Negro Leagues in 1949-50, and in the minors from 1950-54. His major-league equivalent career ended, I would guess, sometime between the arm injury in 1946 and the 1951 season, but when exactly I couldn’t begin to guess without seeing his Mexican League numbers. One more thing: Day was a prodigy, breaking into the NeL at the age of 17 in 1934 and becoming an established star by the age of 19. When he hurt his arm in 1946, he was only 29. Day reminds me of Dwight Gooden: fabulous young pitcher and terrific all-around athlete, with the arm injury but without the drug problems, playing in an environment that made better use of his versatility. Is there enough here to make a HoMer? I don’t know, but he obviously will require a close look.
   6. Chris Cobb Posted: August 23, 2005 at 02:23 PM (#1565687)
I hope somebody is going to provide the raw data pretty soon!?

I'll try to get to tonight or tomorrow night.

I have to warn everybody, though, that I continue to be overwhelmed by work, and I just don't know how well I'm going to be able to keep up with the large influx of NeL players, esp. given the added complexity of cases that involve the MxL, the high minors, and integrated semi-pro leagues as well as the NeL. We've got Barnhill, Dandridge, Day, Easter, Paige, Trouppe, and Wright to work on now. That's a lot to do.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: August 23, 2005 at 02:30 PM (#1565700)
Chris, thanks for whatever you can do, and I guess you should do the players that interest you first.

But of course we are all on pins and needles here ;-)
   8. karlmagnus Posted: August 23, 2005 at 08:59 PM (#1566845)
Dandridge and Easter look like the ones that are closest to the border. Even the arch-sceptic here will prove his iconoclasm by putting Paige #2 to Mize (yes, ahead of Beckley, I'm not THAT iconoclastic) but no lower. Easter has flashy stats and a quasi-Suttles appeal, while Dandridge is in the HOF, so both have a good a priori case that I suspect is spurious. Day third, I suppose.

Just a suggestion. I want to give these guys their full due, but I'd hate to elect one without you having run your slide rule over him.
   9. Chris Cobb Posted: August 23, 2005 at 10:56 PM (#1567086)
Leon Day Data

From Riley

Born: October 30, 1916
Teams: Baltimore Black Sox 1934, Brooklyn Eagles 1935, Newark Eagles 1936-39, VeL & MxL 1940, Newark Eagles 1941-43, Military Service 1944-45, Newark Eagles 1946, MxL 1947-48, Baltimore Elite Giants 1949-50, minor leagues 1950-54

From Holway

1934 0-1; team 2-10, 4th in team dec., -0.2 WAT
1935 9-4 (5th in wins); 2.87 TRA (2nd), 38 K (3rd); #1 in team dec., 3.4 WAT
1936 7-8; 1st in team dec., 1.0 WAT
1937 7-0 (5th in wins); 1st in wp, 4.48 TRA (5th), 22 K (1st); 3rd in team dec., 2.6 WAT
1938 1-2; not in top 5 in team dec., -0.9 WAT [arm injury, according to Riley]
1939 16-7 (1st in wins); 3rd in wp, 3.08 TRA (2nd), 54 K (1st); #1 in team dec., 2.4 WAT; GSA, all-star
1940 VeL 12-1 [from Riley]
1940 MxL 6-0;
1941 3-0; hit .313 as starting cf and 2b; all-star in CF; 1.3 WAT
1942 7-3 (4th in wins); 4th in wp, 1.76 TRA (2nd), 54 K (2nd); #2 in team dec., 2,4 WAT
1943 4-5; 32 K (4th); #2 in team dec., -0.5 WAT
1944 Military Service
1945 Military Service
1946 14-4 (2nd in wins); 5th in wp, 2.53 TRA (3rd), 65 K (1st); #1 in team dec. (tie), -0.3 WAT; all-star [arm injury late in season, according to Riley]
1947 MxL
1948 MxL
1949 7-5 [from Macmillan 8th]
1950 No Data

Career
75-39, .658 in Negro-League play from above.
68-30, .694 according to Holway’s career totals
11.2 WAT
16/72 Black Ink/Gray Ink #11 in black ink, #9 in gray ink among pitchers

Career line from Macmillan 8th

63-26, .708, 103 g, 83 gs, 63 cg, 667 ip, 442 hits, 142 bb, 256 k, 9 sho, 1 sv
   10. KJOK Posted: August 24, 2005 at 03:31 AM (#1568117)
I hope somebody is going to provide the raw data pretty soon!?

I'm pretty sure he's in The Negro Leagues Book, and if so I'll post that data into the FILES section of the HOM egroup late tonight...
   11. Brent Posted: August 24, 2005 at 04:02 AM (#1568237)
Leon Day's Cuban League record
Leon Day
Yr      Team         G  CG    W    L  Tm W  Tm L   Tm Pct   WAT  % tm dec
37-38   Almendares  16   6    7    3    35    23     .603   1.2       17%
47-48PF Santiago     3   0    0    0    --    --       --    --        --
        Total       19   6    7    3

Notes:
1947-48PF – The Players Federation was an alternative league that played for only one season. (Beginning in the 1947-48 season, American organized baseball gained control over the regular Cuban League; the Players Federation was organized in protest and included most of the long-time stars.)
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: August 24, 2005 at 04:02 AM (#1568238)
44-11 from 1939-42 is not bad. A better pure W-L peak than anybody but Nip Winters.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: August 24, 2005 at 02:20 PM (#1568578)
Thanks to KJOK for more Leon Day info. I would have to say that whatever his reputation as a hitter, there is nowhere near enough to move him up beyond wherever he lands as a pitcher.

In the NNL from 1934 to 1943 (age 18 to 27) his record is 141 hits in 492 AB for .287 with 24 2B, 10 3B and 4 HR. SA = .400. Oh, and 2 SBs.

He did hit .469 in in 1946 (NNL) and .359 in Mexico City in 1947 but the next year ini Mexico City he hit .270, then .271 and .179 in the NAL. So a two-year aberration.

He did hit .314 in Scranton in the EL in 1952 and also went 13-9, 3.41 on the mound at age 36. But still, this is Scranton.
   14. Chris Cobb Posted: August 24, 2005 at 03:21 PM (#1568700)
Day was clearly an excellent hitting pitcher.

He's not as good as Wes Ferrell, Carl Mays, or Red Ruffing, but he's better, it seems, than Burleigh Grimes. I'm guessing we'd be looking at a career OPS+ of around 70 for Day (Grimes is at 58, Ruffing at 82, though Ruffing's hitting declined a bit late in his career.)

I'd say that, if we could analyze Day's pitching independent of his hitting value, we should consider Day's hitting good enough to help his case somewhat. The win-based analysis I use subsumes hitting value into pitching value, though, so for the projections I give (assuming I get to them), no hitting value should be added.
   15. yest Posted: September 05, 2005 at 05:41 PM (#1598326)
am I the only one disapointed by what I see?
   16. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2005 at 05:55 PM (#1598369)
Here are MLEs for Leon Day

These are based on Holway's stats for NeL play 1934-46, stats provided by Dr. Chaleeko for MxL play in 1940, 47-48, stats from Riley on VzL play in 1940, and stats from Macmillan 8th edition for NeL play in 1949.

The methodology is the same as usual, except as noted. I've used ERA+ for Mexican seasons when league ERA was available; otherwise the analysis is win-based. No seasonal win shares are provided. Career win shares calculated by multiplying IP by .058, adding 3 ws per career win above avg., and multiplying the whole by .92.

Year Team IP  DERA DERA+   w-l
1934 Bal  no MLE credit 
1935 Nwk  294 3.81 118  20.1-14.5
1936 Nwk  263 4.89  92  14.2-16.7
1937 Nwk  231 2.03 222  22.6- 4.6
1938 Nwk   61 5.84  77   2.7- 4.5
1939 Nwk  276 4.13 109  17.6-14.9
1940 V-M  246 3.60 125  17.6-11.3
1941 Nwk  244 3.28 137* 18.7-10.0
1942 Nwk  227 3.46 130  16.8- 9.9
1943 Nwk  202 5.49  82   9.6-14.2
1944 Military Service
1945 Military Service
1946 Nwk  231 4.29 105  14.3-12.9 
1947 MxL  163 5.29  85   8.1-11.1
1948 MxL  197 4.74  95  11.0-12.2
1949 Nwk   90 5.05  89   4.7- 5.9
total    2725 4.11 109 176.1-148.3   185 cws    


*Day played most of this season at second base and outfield, because of injuries to players at these positions. I assume that this switch would certainly not have occurred in the majors and Day would most likely have pitched a #1 starter’s share of innings. As an experiment, I have regressed Day’s DERA for this year, taking his 1940-42 total DERA as the mean, since he actually pitched a small number of highly effective innings.

Rough career comps, according to win shares, are Claude Passeau, Jimmy Key, Dwight Gooden, Lefty Gomez. With 30 ws war credit, Day’s rough career comps are Lon Warneke, Larry French, Orel Hershiser, Milt Pappas.

Overall, Day looks to me like a very fine pitcher, but not a HoMer. I'm working on putting together a page that compares him to his NeL and ML contemporaries who are HoM candidates. I should have that up later today.
   17. Jorge Colon Delgado Posted: September 05, 2005 at 07:12 PM (#1598612)
Leon Day played four seasons in Puerto Rico:

Year Team W-L SO ERA
1939-40 Aguadilla 12-11 186 2.17
1940-41 Aguadilla 10-6 149 2.40
1941-42 Aguadilla 12-9 168 2.93
1949-50 Santurce 1-2 20 5.25

This team, Aguadilla, was one of the worst in le League. In 1939-40 they finished 7th (21-34), 1940-41 5th (19-22) and in 1941-42 4th (21-22). Notice that in every year he was responsible of more than 50% of the teams victories.

In that first year, 1939-40, only Satchel Paige (19), Billy Byrd (15) and José Figueroa (14), won more games. In strikeouts he was second with 186, only Paige had more (208). In ERA he was fifth (2.17) following Sylvio Garcia (1.32), Roy Partlow (1.49), Satchel Paige (1.93) and Billy Byrd (1.97).

In 1940-41 he finished third in wins (10 and tied with Luis R. Cabrera), after Billy Byrd (15), Impo Barnhill (11) and Chester Brewer (11). In SO he finishes second (149) behind Impo Barnhill (193). In ERA he was third (2.40), only Barnhill (2.12) and Byrd (2.38) were better.

In 1941-42 he lead the league in K's with 168 and was 5th in ERA (2.93) behind Raymond Brown (1.80), Barney Brown (2.57), Juan Guilbe (2.82) and Vidal López (2.88)

His batting record is:

Year Ave HR RBI
1939-40 .271 3 36
1940-41 .339 1 18
1941-42 .339 1 24
1949-50 .220 1 18

In 1941-42 he tied in the third position with Raymond Brown in stolen bases (12) behind Buster Clarkson (18) and Luis R. Cabrera (13).
   18. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 05, 2005 at 07:41 PM (#1598708)
I don't think this changes anything but Leon Day played ball in Europe during the war. In fact he was on one of the teams that played in a European World Series in Nuremburg stadium shortly after the Germans surendered. I believe he was on the winning team but I don't have the info at this residence.

I will also echo that he doesn't look like more than a borderline guy. Is he better than Dean, Waddell, Mendez, or Willis? If so he could make my ballot.
   19. sunnyday2 Posted: September 05, 2005 at 09:10 PM (#1598857)
Based on the average of 2 years before and 2 years after, Day stood to win about 24 games in 800 IP 1944-1945, for a total of 200 (depending on your WWII XC scheme) but also, now, 172 losses. There are a awful lot of pitchers with 200 wins and 3000+ IP in the 1930s and 1940s. Of course, we don't know if pitching in the NeLs was quite as difficult (I mean relative to offensive context) as the MLs. Surely it was difficult in many other ways.

But anyway, some (superficial, at least) comps, with and without the XC (not all contemporaneous, but mostly lively ball):

174 wins, 2750 IP (<200 wins, <3000 IP)

Dazzy Vance 2966 IP, 197-140
Tommy Bridges 2826 IP, 194-138
Lefty Gomez 2503 IP, 189-102
Lon Warneke 2782 IP, 192-121
Urban Shocker 2681 IP, 187-117
Wes Ferrell 2623 IP, 193-128
Bob Shawkey 2937 IP, 195-150
Eddie Rommel 2556 IP, 171-119
Claude Passeau 2719 IP, 162-150
Art Nehf 2708 IP, 184-120

These guys, all pulled from my consideration set(s) over the years, got more wins in approx. the same number of innings. Guys with 20 fewer wins than Shawkey (like Rommel or Passeau) didn't usually even make my list. Rommel, Passeau and Nehf look like the closest comps, and they can be described as very good, never great, and not for an unusually long time either.

200 wins, 3500 IP (180-220 wins, >3000 IP)

Dolf Lucky (eer, Luque) 3220 IP, 194-179
Carl Mays 3021 IP, 208-126
Bucky Walters 3104 IP, 198-160
Larry French 3152 IP, 197-171
Charlie Root 3197 IP, 201-160
George Uhle 3120 IP, 200-166
Dutch Leonard 3218 IP, 191-181

But Day deserves WWII credit the same as Bob Feller does, so now you're talkin', well, guys on my list with 3500 IP usually won more than 200 games, and guys who won 200 games usually pitched more like 3200 IP (and still barely made my list, and never my ballot). Mays is the class of this list with more wins in fewer IP than most and Day doesn't look like a Carl Mays. More like a Dolf Luque, though Dolf has his own issues which raise him above where his numbers alone might put him. So that leaves you with Root or Uhle, or maybe Dutch Leonard II, as your best comps.

Miscellaneous

Hal Newhouser 2993 IP, 207-150, more wins in fewer IP, a lot better.
   20. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1598885)
Based on the average of 2 years before and 2 years after, Day stood to win about 24 games in 800 IP 1944-1945

Er, 400 innings pitched in 2 years? You'd pull up the same comparison set for the most part, but Day would have won 200 games in more like 3150-3200 ip, not 3500.
   21. Chris Cobb Posted: September 05, 2005 at 11:24 PM (#1599007)
Here are Leon Day's career projections compared to those of other serious NeL pitching candidates from the 1930s and 1940s. Pitchers are arranged in order of IP
Pitcher   IP  DERA  DERA+  sn W-L    W+    WWII factors
Byrd    3376  4.17  108  208.1-180.1 14.0  Pitched 1943-45
Matlock 2816  3.96  114  182.2-141.5 20.4  ret by WWII??
Day     2725  4.11  109  176.1-148.3 13.9  2yrs. Mil.
Smith   2579  3.91  115  168.7-127.8 20.5  Pitched 1943-45

And some ML comps
Pitcher   IP  DERA  DERA+ act W-L snW+*  WWII factors    OPS+
Ruffing 4344  4.16  108   273-225  19.4  Mil 43-44       81
Feller  3847  3.87  116   266-162  33.3  4yrs. Mil.      15
Newsom  3759  4.13  109   211-222  19.0  Pitched 1943-45 10
Leonard 3218  3.83  117   191-181  29.5  Pitched 1943-45  4
French  3152  4.13  109   197-171  15.9  Ret 1942.  Mil? 22
Walters 3105  4.04  111   198-160  19.0  Pitched 1943-45 69
New’ser 2993  3.57  126   207-150  40.0  Pitched 1943-45 36
Warneke 2782  3.98  113   192-121  20.0  Pitched 1943,45 46          
Trout   2726  3.80  118   170-161  26.1  Pitched 1943-45 56
Passeau 2720  3.91  115   162-150  22.2  Pitched 1943-45 35
Ferrell 2623  3.90  115   193-129  21.4  Ret.           100
Gomez   2503  3.90  115   189-102  20.4  Ret.            -7
Dean    1967  3.48  129   150-83   28.8  Ret.            43


*For this number, decisions are normalized to 1/8.5 ip, and a support-neutral winning percentage is calculated from DERA+. This total does not account for hitting or for pitcher’s actual over-performance/under-performance of pythagorean expectations.

Any pitcher below 35 OPS+ hit poorly enough to lower his snW+ total somewhat. Any pitcher above 50 OPS+ hit well enough to raise his total.

Dizzy Trout, Red Ruffing, Larry French, and Lefty Gomez significantly underperformed vs. their career pythagorean expectations, as calculated by WARP. Wes Ferrell significantly overperformed.

Overall, with peak, htting, the war, and over/underperformance factored in, I put these pitchers in the following order:

Feller, Newhouser, Ferrell, Ruffing, Newsom, Walters, Byrd, Matlock, Warneke, Day, French, Smith, Passeau, Dean, Leonard, Trout, Gomez
   22. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 05, 2005 at 11:51 PM (#1599034)
Dizzy Trout, Red Ruffing, Larry French, and Lefty Gomez significantly underperformed vs. their career pythagorean expectations, as calculated by WARP.

I've got Lefty Gomez winning five more games than he should've with run support.

I don't have him on my site, but I did RSI Larry French - I have him winning exactly as many games as his run support pegs him at. His RSI was 95.85, FWIW.

And I got Dutch Leonard underachieving by 9 wins.

That's not adjusting for hitter's own ability to hit.
   23. Paul Wendt Posted: September 06, 2005 at 01:52 AM (#1599156)
from Chris Cobb's table:
Larry French . . . Ret 1942. Mil?

Larry French is not listed (as I scan) by Neft & Cohen for 1943 when he was 35 years old. I think that means he had acquired his release, if he was in military service.

Was he injured in 1942? ERA 1.82 (not quite a qualifier) with 15-4 W-L and league-leading .789 winning percentage. Who goes out in that style?


yest on Leon Day:
am I the only one disapointed by what I see?

Not at all!
The Stop Medwick gang is disappointed.
Same for the Stop Ruffings and Stop Jennings.
   24. TomH Posted: September 06, 2005 at 12:01 PM (#1599616)
So...is there any kind of consensus how Day stacks up agianst our holdover NeL (or Cuban) hurlers Mendez and Redding?
   25. Chris Cobb Posted: September 06, 2005 at 12:09 PM (#1599620)
Well, there can hardly be a consensus as no one has discussed it yet.

Myself, I have Day below Mendez and Redding. Mendez has, I believe, a significantly better peak, and Redding has, I believe, a significantly better career together with a similar peak to Day's.

Among eligible NeL hurlers, I have the top group in this order:

Mendez
Redding
Byrd
Matlock
Day
Smith


Andy Cooper might deserve to appear among this group, as might Ted Trent.
   26. KJOK Posted: September 06, 2005 at 06:37 PM (#1600261)
Looks to be below Mendez and Redding, who are the two that probably should be getting the closest looks right now.

And I agree with Ted Trent, as he could well be a Hal Newhouser type candidate if we had more info on him...
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: September 09, 2005 at 02:13 AM (#1606591)
baseballlibrary.com on French:

"He joined the Navy in 1943, retiring in 1969 as a captain. (ME) "

Apparently he joined on Sept. 26, 1943, basically left baseball ASAP to join the Navy...
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: September 09, 2005 at 02:14 AM (#1606596)
Oops, of course that's Sept. 26, 1942...
   29. Rick A. Posted: December 07, 2005 at 03:48 AM (#1764918)
I'm in the process of reviewing second tier Negro League candidates. I see that Leon Day has 185 career WS. Does anyone have a year-by-year list of his WS? Thanks.
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: September 06, 2008 at 11:32 PM (#2931378)
I have wondered why elect Leon Day to the Hall of Fame in 1995?. That was the first year for the second special arrangement: a separate ballot for Negro Leagues players, elect no more than one. By its standard procedures the Veterans Committee had elected Rube Foster and Ray Dandridge in 17 years, 1978-1994, with some annual public attention to the plight of the Negro Leagues candidates. Was there no emerging public consensus regarding the strongest remaining candidates? --as there was in 1971 when "everyone knew" that Paige would be elected that year, Gibson next year.

Two observations after reading annual NYTimes coverage of the special and VC elections, all the news hit by proQuest 1971-1995.

1. In the 1970s, public announcements of the special Negro Leagues Committee outcomes were also celebratory dinners and press conferences for the winners, hosted by Commissioner Kuhn. They elected one living star in each of the first five years; elected four deceased stars in years 2, 6, 7, and 7 (of seven meetings).

2. Leon Day received the 1995 phone call on his deathbed. He was in the hospital March 8, with a heart ailment, died there March 13.

3. The six subsequent winners were all deceased in 1995.
1996-2001: W.Foster, Wells, Rogan, Williams, Stearnes, H.Smith. All but Rogan and Williams were alive when the 1970s committee disbanded.
   31. Alex King Posted: January 21, 2011 at 08:30 AM (#3733875)
I posted my WAR estimates for Day in the 2011 ballot thread, post 199 (there's a small discussion of Day, posts 195-200). Based on that discussion, I think it's reasonable to give Day another 3 WAR or so for his work in the minors 1950-1952; here's a repost of his estimated WAR.

Year WAR
1935 4.3
1936 4.6
1937 8.3
1938 0.7
1939 3.3
1940 4.9
1941 5.8
1942 4.5
1943 1.1
1944 4.0
1945 4.0
1946 2.1
1947 0.6
1948 0.9
1949 0.3
1950 0.5
1951 2.6
1952 0.2
Total 52.8

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Ray (RDP)
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.2214 seconds
49 querie(s) executed