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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mickey Vernon

Eligible in 1965.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2005 at 10:25 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2005 at 11:07 PM (#1730130)
If his back had been healthy, would he have been in the upper echelon of players?
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: November 14, 2005 at 02:06 PM (#1730780)
Mickey Vernon is another guy in the Enos Slaughter/GVH mold, at least in terms of longevity. 16 years of 100 games, one more than Slaughter, but Slaughter missed 3 years to WWII, Vernon a pair. I get an adjusted 2595 games and 9981 H + BB for Slaughter, and 2555 games and 10,314 H + BB for Vernon. Slaughter gets more games and fewer PA due to a long stint as a PH specialist at the tail end of his career, I guess.

Vernon and Slaughter are both B- fielders.* WWII extra credit year

Slaughter .300/.382/.453
Vernon .286/.359/.428


Slaughter 372.5 37-33*-29/154
Vernon 323 33-29-27*/134


Slaughter 122/153-42*-41-39-31-31-30-30-27-20-16-11-9-4-0-(97)
Vernon 116/163-51-42*-40-33-26-25-22-14-13-12-11-4-4-(99)-(97)-(73)

Everything points to Slaughter as a slightly more valuable player each year, adding up to a significant edge over the long haul. Based on my previous comparison of Slaughter and GVH, it seems clear enough that GVH would slot in between here and closer to Slaughter than to Vernon. Still every one of Vernon's 5 best years are better than Slaughter's top 5, and it takes until the 8th best year for Country to overtake Mickey. Still they are comparable enough that Slaughter's much greater value from year #6 through #11 is decisive. That is without attaching any particular significance to that poor (73) of Mickey's.
   3. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 17, 2005 at 04:21 AM (#1735171)
sunnday - just curious, how come only 1 extra year at '42*' for Slaughter and Vernon, when they missed 3 and 2 for the war? Am I reading the chart wrong?
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: November 17, 2005 at 11:55 AM (#1735267)
No, you're reading it right, I give half credit for the war on the basis of possible injuries etc. etc. Besides, as a peak voter, it really doesn't hurt them too much. I'm just not willing generally to speculate somebody into a better peak than what they really did. Still Pee Wee made my PHoM last year and tentatively I've got Country Slaughter slotted this year, despite his obvious and serious character issues. I doubt if there is a single '40s player that I'm rating any lower than the consensus.
   5. OCF Posted: November 18, 2005 at 05:35 PM (#1737268)
Let's see: first baseman, fabulously long career, kind of hard to locate what passes for a peak in there. You know who we have? It's Jake Beckley, act II. Here's my offensive system for these guys - modified scaled RCAA, in arbitrary units, sorted from best year to worst:
MV 63 57 39 32 27 21 20 20 20  *  * 19 18 16 13  1  0 -1 -2 -2 -9-24
JB 38 36 34 29 29 27 24 20 20 20 19 19 15 15 13 10  8  4 -8-11

The *'s in there for Vernon represent credit for two war years. Vernon gets more of a big years bonus from me than Beckley, but then his "big years" are scattered in time. The offensive comparison isn't a knockout in either direction; with the war credit, I lean a little towards Vernon there.

There are two other issues to deal with. One is the idea that first basemen of Vernon's time were expected to provide more offense than the first basemen of Beckley's time. Yes, but... The "buts" include that Beckley's career does partly overlap the last of the big boppers, that (assuming you call Musial an outfielder) the Greenberg/Mize to McCovey drought lasts nearly as long as the ABC to Gehrig drought, and expectation isn't necessarily value. The second issue is the idea that it wasn't just expectation - it was the real defensive responsibilities of the job, and the Beckley ought to assigned more actual defensive value than Vernon. There is something there, but I don't think it's huge.

I'll have Beckley and Vernon close together; I haven't yet decided on the order.
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: November 18, 2005 at 06:13 PM (#1737339)
O, I have Vernon 65 and Beckley 70. Works for me.
   7. jimd Posted: November 18, 2005 at 10:19 PM (#1737761)
An average 1st baseman with Mickey Vernon's career playing time earns 290 Win Shares.

Mickey Vernon earned 296.

Say no more.
   8. OCF Posted: November 18, 2005 at 10:33 PM (#1737785)
But what other first basemen do have actually have Vernon's career playing time? That list is quite short. "Average" first basemen don't last forever. And yes, he wasn't any good in his worst years (the ugly negative numbers at the end of my row of numbers in #5.)

More to the point: if he goes (meaning not make the ballot), should he drag Beckley down with him?
   9. ronw Posted: November 18, 2005 at 11:21 PM (#1737885)
I'll make Karl's arguments for him. (Really, five consecutive Beckley posts and none of them from Karl?)

1. Beckley is underrated by WS because WS underrates early 1B defense.

2. Beckley should get bonus WS for short-seasons, which offset Vernon's war credit.

3. Beckley - 2930 hits, Vernon - 2495 hits.

4. Beckley lost several years when he decided to become a schoolteacher instead of a ballplayer. (No, wait, that's Sam Leever).

I agree with #1 and #2 above. I have Beckley slightly ahead of Vernon, but neither on my ballot.
   10. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 19, 2005 at 12:04 AM (#1737988)
I don't see why Mickey Vernon would drag down Beckley. Adjusting for season-length, Beckley has about 600 more hits. And Vernon's power didn't approach that of Beckley.

Vernon is a poor man's Beckley IMO, a very good player, but not close on a ballot.
   11. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 19, 2005 at 12:10 AM (#1737997)
Are Beckley's RCAA above adjusted for schedule length? I don't see how any measure could have Vernon with more offense than Beckley. Their OBPs were similar when adjusted to league/park, and Beckley is much higher SLG-wise. Beckley also had a longer career.

I could see giving Vernon two very-close to peak years for 1944-45, and that would pull them much closer, but in the end I think Beckley was the better hitter, and his position was more defensive in his time and place.

I overstated the last sentence of post #10, they are close, but I see Beckley as significantly ahead.
   12. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 19, 2005 at 12:12 AM (#1738005)
Actually, after giving war credit and adjusting for season-length, I'd say their careers are of similar length, not that Beckley's career was longer. I'd also say the hit-gap would close to 250 or so (eyeballing it), but again, Beckley had a lot more power.
   13. jimd Posted: November 19, 2005 at 12:29 AM (#1738029)
An average 1st baseman with Mickey Vernon's career playing time earns 290 Win Shares.

Mickey Vernon earned 296.

An average 1st baseman with Jake Beckley's career playing time earns 287 Win Shares.

Jake Beckley earned 318. (+36)

An average outfielder with Sam Rice's career playing time earns 290 Win Shares.

Sam Rice earned 327. (+37)

An average outfielder with Harry Hooper's career playing time earns 278 Win Shares.

Harry Hooper earned 321. (+43)

An average pitcher with Eppa Rixey's career playing time earns 264 Win Shares.

Eppa Rixey earned 315. (+51)

An average pitcher with Jack Quinn's career playing time earns 231 Win Shares.

Jack Quinn earned 287. (+56)

Given that there is little peak to speak of, which of these is better?
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2005 at 12:34 AM (#1738039)
Beckley 152 44 38 33 31 28 27 27 26 26 26 24 22 12 12 05 02
MVernon 160 49 37 30 30 25 21 20 12 13 13 12 10 04 04 -1 -27

This is giving Vernon a 112 and a 120 OPS+ for the war. He had such a weird career that your mileage may vary.

Let's see: Vernon had the better top 2 years.
Then it's Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, Beckley, and.... Beckley.
The latter nine Beckley wins are double-digit blowouts.

Whew! How ever will we tell them apart?

Did I forget anything?
Let's see - Vernon's 125 is in only 404 PA, arguably should not be on there. Beckley's lowest is 455 PA (with a mere 105 OPS+).
Oh, right. Beckley played at a time when defense was important, he rated pretty well for that, and his colleagues were much weaker offensively than in Vernon's time.

Let's not cheapen Beckley's candidacy with unfair comparisons to an obvious non-HOMer.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 19, 2005 at 03:05 AM (#1738171)
4. Beckley lost several years when he decided to become a schoolteacher instead of a ballplayer. (No, wait, that's Sam Leever).


BTW, I'll echo Joe's sentiments about Vernon being the poor man's Jake Beckley.
   16. Paul Wendt Posted: November 19, 2005 at 04:08 AM (#1738213)
An average 1st baseman with Mickey Vernon's career playing time earns 290 Win Shares.
Mickey Vernon earned 296. (+6)

What is this, a linear regression and Vernon's distance above it?
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2005 at 03:03 PM (#1738485)
Well, if it takes "120 OPS+ or better to open," as they say in card-playing, Beckley has 13 of those and Vernon only has 7 (let's make it 8 by giving him another for a war year).
Considering that even Vernon's top 7 (or 8) aren't as good as Beckley's top 7 (or 8), that's an awfully "poor man's" version, even ignoring defensive issues and what their colleagues did.

I don't see much of a comparison, and anyone who thought this is anywhere near where Beckley should rate might want to use this exercise to reexamine their dismissal of Beckley.
Beckley may wind up being our biggest omission: failure to account for weaknesses of Win Shares, for the value of 1B defense in that era, for the difficulty in having longevity at the position in the era (a "poor man's catching bonus" would be nice), and for the uniqueness of a relentless string of 120 OPS+s at the position (Jeter comes to mind as a modern-day version - often isn't even an All-Star, but always provides value to his team with a high durability factor).
Beckley had more power than Jeter, while Jeter was better at getting on base.
Beckley had a 125 career OPS+; Jeter in 2005 matched his career 121 mark, and almost certainly will finish below Beckley's career mark there.
Jeter's postseason stats also are virtually identical to his regular-season ones, so no bonus there, either.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2005 at 03:32 PM (#1738502)
Just noticed that Beckley was recalled on June 20, 1888 - an age-20 rookie year in which he posted a 157 OPS+.
If he was playing minor-league ball before then, should he get credit? He obviously was more than ready for the bigs.

I recommend this highly entertaining link that has some answers:

"Beckley batted over .400 in 1887 (walks counted as hits that season), splitting the summer between Leavenworth and another Western League team in Lincoln, Nebraska. The following year Lincoln sold the steadily improving first baseman to the Western Association's St. Louis Whites. Beckley played only 34 games before the Whites sold him in June 1888 to the National League's Pittsburgh Alleghenies for $4,000."

As a fielder, Beckley was good at fielding the ball, not so good at throwing it (as opposed to Jeter, lol).

Beckley also was grieving over his young wife's death in 1902, a rare off-year of 102 OPS+.

And let's see.... a Baseball Digest article has Beckley collecting 972 minor league hits for a combined total of 3,906, trailing only Rose-Cobb-Aaron-Jigger Statz-Musial-Speaker in that combined all-time category.
   19. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 19, 2005 at 04:19 PM (#1738530)
Of course Jake Beckley was also not one of the 10 best players in his league in any of his kajillion seasons so it is highly doubtful that he will be our biggest omission. Biggest mistake maybe but not biggest ommission.

Derek Jeter plays SS, he may play it as well as a potted plant (though he has had some decent years recently) but he still plays SS. I don't care how much of a defensive bonus you give Beckley for being an 1890's 1B, SS was/is still the more important defensive position. Plus, 1B of Beckley's time weren't that much worse offensively than in other times of baseball history. So it was easier to find a 125 OPS+ at 1b than it is now to find a 121 OPS+ at SS. Jeter also has a few seasons where he couldn't be laughed out of the MVP debate AND I would posit that repeating your career numbers in the postseason is actually pretty impressive since most playoff teams have better than average pitching and defense. Hey, Jeter never got to play against the Yankee defenses of this decade, does that give him a boost?

As for Vernon, I may agree that Beckley is better. But Beckley is not really in my top 75 and Vernon is way off the charts, though Vernon has a few really good seasons thrown in there.

And, not to pile on, but Beckley's peak in WARP isnt' impressive either. Does WARP also miscalculate defense for 1890's 1B?
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 19, 2005 at 05:16 PM (#1738605)
Of course Jake Beckley was also not one of the 10 best players in his league in any of his kajillion seasons

Maybe, but maybe not. Since Win Shares and WARP are deficient in proper crediting of fielding at first base during his era, he may have been one of the ten-best once or twice.
   21. sunnyday2 Posted: November 19, 2005 at 06:13 PM (#1738672)
George Sisler was one of ten best a half a dozen times.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2005 at 06:47 PM (#1738701)
Sunnyday, Sisler is on my ballot as well.

All I ask is that minor-league credit be considered for Beckley, which I doubt it has been previously by anyone. Also, if Win Shares get revised further two years from now (a distinct possibility), some here may regret skipping Beckley.
   23. OCF Posted: November 19, 2005 at 08:44 PM (#1738768)
Ah, I seem to have ignited some actual debate, which is good - we've been letting a lot of issues slide by unfought lately.

I rechecked my numbers. They're based on RC, RC/game LRC/game, and PF from a Stats Handbook. One issue is that the RC are based on different formulas, as the formulas are adjusted to era.

No, the modified RCAA have not been adjusted for season length. But a persistent problem I've noticed with the system is its insensitivity to in-season playing time - it tends to seriously overvalue players like McGraw and Chance with durability problems.

All of you who are arguing that Beckley is obviously far above Vernon and we shouldn't be comparing them - I'm not buying that. I think you're either overvaluing Beckley or undervaluing Vernon. And don't make the mistake of thinking of Beckley as a deadball player - his career spanned the offensive bacchanalia of the 1890's, and deadball conditions only started to creep in in the last few years of his career.

Beckley had many more hits than Vernon? But batting averages were much higher and hits more numerous in Beckley's time. Vernon had many more walks than Beckley? Of course that's because walks were more common in Vernon's time.

Let's look at the "gray ink" list - let's look at the number of times Beckley and Vernon appeared in the top 10 in the league in certain things:

BA: Vernon 1, 1, 8, 10; Beckley 3, 5, 6, 8
OBP: Vernon 3, 6, 7, 9; Beckley 8, 8
SLG: Vernon 5, 5, 6, 9; Beckley 3, 4, 8, 9, 9, 10
OPS+: Vernon 2, 3, 6, 7, 10; Beckley 3, 5, 6, 10
Hits: Vernon 3, 3, 7, 8, 8, 10; Beckley 2, 5, 5, 8, 10
SB: Vernon 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8; Beckley none
2B: Vernon 1, 1, 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9; Beckley 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 10
3B: Vernon 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 8; Beckley 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 10
HR: Vernon 8; Beckley 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8

Beckley was at somewhat of a disadvantage, in that his career spanned the life of the 12-team NL. But he also hardly ever appeared on the leader lists of the 12-team league; most of those listings are for the 1900 or later NL.

Vernon and Beckley both got lots of hits; looking at the BA and hits lines, I don't see that as an advantage for Beckley. They both hit lots of doubles and triples. In the context of his times, Beckley hit more HR (most of them on the road), although that's a very small actual number of HR. But in the context of his time, Vernon was a serious base stealer, and Beckley (whose times called for the SB) wasn't.

Not all of what you Beckley supporters percieve as WS undervaluing Beckley is about defense. It's also that RC doesn't think all that much of Beckley's offense. There are posts above quoting the number of times each of Beckley and Vernon had a certain OPS+. But there are two issues here: one is that Beckley is a little more SLG-rich and Vernon a little more OBP-rich, and the other is that OPS doesn't see baserunning, an area in which Vernon has a substantial advantage.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 19, 2005 at 10:12 PM (#1738822)
And don't make the mistake of thinking of Beckley as a deadball player

I'm not, OCF. He was a "Inside Baseball" player, however, which is meaningful for this discussion.

Not all of what you Beckley supporters percieve as WS undervaluing Beckley is about defense. It's also that RC doesn't think all that much of Beckley's offense.

Actually, it's more like that RC doesn't think all that much about the offense of first basemen in general for quite a few decades and many of us feel that the position was different and more difficult during that time.

and the other is that OPS doesn't see baserunning, an area in which Vernon has a substantial advantage.

Can you elaborate a little bit more on that, OCF?<i>
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 19, 2005 at 10:15 PM (#1738823)
George Sisler was one of ten best a half a dozen times.

Of course, he became Mr. Mediocrity (I'm being charitable for some of those seasons) after 1922, while Beckley was still able to play above-average ball at the same ages as Sisler.
   26. OCF Posted: November 19, 2005 at 11:19 PM (#1738855)
About the baserunning: of course, Beckley stole bases, 300+ over his career. Everyone stole bases. But in his high-water year of stealing 30 in 1892, it took 55 to rank 10th in the league. Beckley never appeared on a SB league-leader list; Vernon did so frequently.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 20, 2005 at 12:09 AM (#1738900)
That's true, OCF. Of course, Vernon's SB rate is not that good (we don't have Beckley's to compare, though).
   28. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 20, 2005 at 01:00 PM (#1739396)
Vs. League:

AVG Beckley +.033, Vernon +.022
OBP Beckley +.020, Vernon +.017
SLG Beckley +.069, Vernon +.042

They aren't close. Beckley had a better OBP compared to his league/parks than Vernon, Vernon's OPS+ definitely isn't more OBP heavy.

Vernon stole 137 bases and got caught 90 times in his career, that's hardly a plus, although from 1941-43 he was a good basestealer and he was in the top 10 in the league 6 times, but 4 of those were with totals of 8-15 after the war.

Beckley stole 315 bases in his career, unfortunately we don't have the CS data, but I wouldn't do anymore than call it a wash.

Vernon's FPct was league average, Beckley's was .981 in leagues that were .978. Win Shares gives Beckley a B, Vernon a B-. FRAA has Vernon at -27, Beckley +52.

In WARP they aren't close Vernon 90.3/82.1. Beckley 115.1/86.7. That adds two years for Vernon at 5.5 WARP1, 5 WARP3. WARP3 does not give Beckley 'full credit' for the shorter seasons throughout a good chunk of his career.

Vernon's best years in WARP1 on top, Beckley's on bottom (all years over 5.0 WARP1 included, Vernon's war years in italics):

9.8, 8.2, 7.2, 6.7, 5.7, 5.5, 5.5, 5.1
8.3, 8.1, 7.7, 7.7, 7.4, 7.3, 7.3, 7.1, 7.1, 6.6, 6.5, 5.7, 5.2

If prefer WARP3 (all years over 4.0 this time):

9.3, 8.0, 6.7, 6.4, 5.8, 5.6, 5.0, 5.0, 4.5, 4.3
7.2, 7.1, 6.9, 6.4, 6.2, 6.0, 5.8, 5.7, 4.8, 4.6, 4.6, 4.3

Again, that doesn't give full credit for Beckley's shorter seasons (WARP1 doesn't give any credit for the shorter seasons), and it is pretty generous to Vernon war credit wise, projecting a peak, since he was only over 4.6 WARP1 and 3.8 WARP3 once between 1941 and 1948.

Beckley's 10 most similar list is 9 Hall of Famers and Jimmy Ryan. Vernon's is 9 non-Hall of Famers and Enos Slaughter.

I'm with Howie and John, I don't see them as particularly close.

To me, it's like comparing Rafael Palmeiro to Mark Grace, except Grace is further ahead of Vernon than Palmeiro is ahead of Beckley.
   29. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 20, 2005 at 11:20 PM (#1739828)
Doesn't WARP3 schedule adjust from WARP2? Doesn't this mean that they ARE giving credit to Beckley for his short seasons? Wouldn't the problem be the switch from WARP1 to WARP2, if there is one?

Also, what war credit is WARP giving Vernon? He has no listing for 1944 and 1945, so I would think that BP isn't giving him war credit. Are you concerned about him getting too small a deduction for 1943?

I see Beckley as better and I am a Beckley hater, but I dont' think I understand your caveats Joe.

The funny thing is, debating Vernon and Beckley for me like like debating Al Rosen and Ross Youngs for a career guy. Both will never reach my ballot and most likely my top 50 every again.
   30. sunnyday2 Posted: November 20, 2005 at 11:44 PM (#1739873)
j, WARP3 does not _fully_ adjust out to 154, it uses some logarithm that adjusts toward but not all the way to 154. Can't explain it any more than that.
   31. OCF Posted: November 21, 2005 at 01:23 AM (#1739999)
This is a case where OPS+ and RCAA are not saying the same thing. I can take my data from the Stats Handbook and compute an "RC/game+". Here that is for these two, as (RC/game+)-100 ("84" means 184):

MV 86 85 51 46 45 40 39  *  * 28 27 26 25 22 21  3 -1-19-24-30
JB 84 54 53 50 45 42 40 32 29 26 26 25 19 18 16 16 12  6-18

And at that, the 184 for Beckley is a short season, his 1888 rookie performance.
   32. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 21, 2005 at 03:28 PM (#1740564)
I gave Vernon war credit. I'm saying I added war credit to Vernon to get to those numbers. And I didn't give him any WARP1 deduction for 1943. I wanted to show Vernon in the best light possible.

Sunnyday is right, WARP3 doesn't give full credit for short schedules. They already timeline, so I don't understand that one at all, it's a double whammy on the old guys.
   33. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 21, 2005 at 07:09 PM (#1740942)
Alright, I must have misread what you said. I though you were complaining that WARP3 was giving Vernon too much war credit.
   34. Paul Wendt Posted: November 24, 2005 at 06:02 AM (#1745234)
(Thanks to the current SABR Bulletin)
Oral History Interviews newly includes Mickey Vernon on audiotape.

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