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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Most Meritorious Player: 1904 Ballot

For 1904, each voter should rank the top 10 players from all leagues combined.

Balloting is scheduled to close at 4pm EDT on 6 May 2015.

Anyone can vote, even if you do not normally participate in Hall of Merit discussions. If have never participated in an MMP election, just post a preliminary ballot in the discussion thread by 5 May 2015.

For detailed rules see one of our previous ballots.

DL from MN Posted: April 21, 2015 at 04:04 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. bjhanke Posted: April 23, 2015 at 05:04 AM (#4938028)
Here’s Brock Hanke’s ballot for 1904. This was an odd year in that there is a LOT of consensus beween Win Shares and WAR. There’s so much that I would probably have just gone by the rankings with a tweak or two except that the issue of Jack Chesbro has come up. Some people have Jack ranked lower than #1, while both Win Shares and WAR have him at #1 in the Discussion Thread header. I have him in agreement with the methods, at #1, but, just because this wasn’t a unanimous opinoion, I decided to do the kind of analysis I did back in1902, when I was justifying droppping Togie Pittinger way below his apparent value, on the theory that his IP advantage over Jack Chesbro (in 1902) was worth nothing. In 1902, I took Chesbro’s IP and Win Shares and subtracted them from Togie’s numbers, which leaves Togie’s advantage, if any, over Jack. Togie had about 100 more IP than Jack, but those IP turned out to be worth only about 2 Win Shares, which is nothing. Remember, the zero point in Win Shares is the Margin, which is WAY below replacement rate. 2 Win Shares in 100 IP is probably worse than the ace of ANY AAA club could have done.

So here’s the same sort of analysis, comparing Jack Chesbro (in 1904) to Joe McGinnity. Joe pitched 408.0 innings, earning 43.3 Win Shares. Jack pitched 454.2 innings, earning 53.5 WS. Subtracting, Jack has Joe’s season plus 454.2 – 408.0 = 46.2 innings, earning 53.5 – 43.3 = 10.2 Win Shares. So, how good is 10.2 Win Shares in 46.2 IP, compared to Joe’s season? Well, Joe had 43.3 / 408.0 = .106. Multiplying by 100, we get 10.6 Win Shares per 100 IP. So that number, 10.6 per 100 innings, is the rate of Joe’s season. Jack Chesbro has that for 408.0 innings, plus 10.2 Win Shares in 46.2 innings. Well, 10.2 / 46.67 – remember that .2 innings is 2/3 of an inning, not one fifth – comes out to .219. Multiplying by 100 gives 21.9 Win Shares per 100 IP. That’s WAY ahead of Joe’s rate for the season. That’s a higher rate than Ol’ Hoss Radbourne had in 1884. In short, Jakc Chesbro had Joe McGinnity’s season plus 46.2 innings of no one-has-ever-been-better pitching. So the argument that I used against Togie Pittinger in 1902 works for, and violently for, ranking Jack Chesbro way ahead of Joe McGinnity.

I am aware that BB-Ref lists Joe with a higher ERA+ than Jack has. I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure how Jack could have made up the difference. Could Jack hit? Could he field? Do WAR and WS have wildly different ballpark effects? Did Win Shares do something odd when the sum of everyone’s Win Shares did not add up to the team’s wins? Is it a Margin vs. Replacement Rate issue? I have no idea. But there is no doubt in my mind that Jack Chesbro had a better season in 1904 than any other pitcher.

The other tweaks weren’t that hard. Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner and Rube Waddell tied for fourth in my initial list of Win Share and WAR ordinals. Honus played in the stronger league, so that was easy. Rube ranks higher than Nap in WAR, but lower in Win Shares. I trust WS more than WAR when ranking pitchers, so Nap gets ahead of Rube. Then I compared Honus to Cy Young, ranked #3 overall in the ordinal list, who was in the lesser league, along with Nap and Rube. Cy outranks Honus in WAR by 9.8 – 8.2 = 1.6 WAR. In Win Shares, it’s Honus at 41.0 vs. Cy at 34.7, for a difference of 6.3 WS. Multiplying WAR by three, you get Cy’s advantage at 1.6 x 3 = 4.8 Win Share Equivalents. 6.3 is more than 4.8, so I ended up with Honus ahead of Cy, as well as Rube and Nap.

I mentioned that this season has a lot of consensus. There were ony two real wide spreads anywhere near competing for the list: Chick Stahl is 8th in Win Shares, but 32nd in WAR. Kid Nichols is 20th in WS, but 8th in WAR. However, Kid has several people ahead of him in my combined ordinal isting, so I didn’t move Christy Mathewson off the list to make way for Kid. As for Rube Foster, I made the best guess I could, which is, essentially, tied with Rube Waddell. I mentioned last year that John McGraw had tried to sign a negro player called Frank Grant in about 1906. That was working off memory; I have found the actual source, which is the New Historical, in the Negro League section, Charlie Grant (NOT Frank), listed #7 among NgL second basemen (Frank is listed 6th). And the year was 1901. However, the comment I made still applies. If Charlie Grant (or Frank, for that matter) was good enough for John McGraw, then Rube Foster, almost certainly the best negro player at this time, must have been really special.

Well, I’ve run out of analysis. There’s no postseason credit to be given, and the best pitcher and position player in both leagues are in the top ten, so here’s my ballot, without comments, for ease of tabluation:

1. Jack Chesbro
2. Joe McGinnity
3. Honus Wagner
4. Cy Young
5. Nap Lajoie
6. Rube Waddell
7. Rube Foster (seldom have two “Rubes” had so little in commeon)
8. Eddie Plank (suprise!)
9. Elmer Flick (surprise!)
10. Christy Mathewson
   2. bjhanke Posted: April 23, 2015 at 09:11 AM (#4938064)
An interesting thing to note is that both Jack Chesbro and Joe McGinnity suffered from their workloads. Chesbro's arm went the way of 1880s arms trying to pitch 500 innings. He never got to 400 again, and was, simply, not the same pitcher after 1904 that he was through that year. Joe McGinnity actually has an 1880s pitcher career. Multiple arm angles or no, his very large loads of innings led to a career only ten years long (he started late, like Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe). If you weren't Walter Johnson, who was not in MLB at the time, it's pretty clear that 400 innings was really too large a workload to give pitchers in 1904. - Brock
   3. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2015 at 12:16 PM (#4938288)
1904 Ballot

1) Napoleon Lajoie - best hitter in baseball
2) Honus Wagner - best hitter in NL
3) Bill Bradley - very good 3B defense
4) Jack Chesbro - tremendous bulk and good rates
5) Joe McGinnity - nearly as good pitching as Chesbro, not nearly as good at the plate
6) Elmer Flick
7) Rube Foster - not quite as good as Plank or Waddell pitching but a terrific season at the plate
8) Rube Waddell
9) Jimmy Collins - trusting Dan R's WAR on this that 3B defense is worth this much. Not too far ahead of Davis, Wallace or Murphy
10) Eddie Plank

11-15) Cy Young, Danny Murphy, George Davis, Bobby Wallace, Willie Keeler
16-20) Mike Grady, Tommy Leach, Frank Chance, Cy Seymour, Grant Johnson
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:45 PM (#4941604)
Official 1904 MMP Ballot (AL adjustments for quality and no postseason bonuses):

1) Jack Chesbro: Best ML player/pitcher.
2) Nap Lajoie: Best ML second baseman.
3) Honus Wagner: Best ML shortstop.
4) Joe McGinnity: Best NL pitcher.
5) Rube Foster: Best NeL pitcher.
6) Christy Mathewson
7) Cy Young
8) Rube Waddell
9) Elmer Flick: Best ML right fielder.
10) Eddie Plank
   5. Chris Fluit Posted: April 28, 2015 at 05:03 PM (#4942827)
1904 Ballot

1. Napoleon Lajoie, 2B, Cleveland Naps: dominated the junior circuit with 203 OPS+ and 122 runs created
2. Honus Wagner, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: almost as dominant in the NL as Lajoie in the AL; OPS+ of 188 and Rc of 107
3. Joe McGinnity, P, New York Giants: 168 ERA+ and 408 IP to narrowly edge out Chesbro as the top pitcher
4. Jack Chesbro, P, New York Highlanders: 150 ERA+ and otherworldly 454 innings are only good enough for second place among pitchers
5. Rube Waddell, P, Philadelphia Athletics: an AL leading 165 ERA+ to go with 383 IP
6. Cy Young, P, Boston Americans: a top five ERA+ of 136 to go with 380 innings
7. Christy Mathewson, P, New York Giants: the two-headed pitching monster
8. Mike Grady, C, St. Louis Cardinals: catching bonus offsets lack of playing time; 167 OPS+ is second in NL
9. Rube Foster, P, Philadelphia Giants: 218 OPS+ but only a 159 ERA+ in a bit of a down year on the mound
10. Elmer Flick, RF, Cleveland Naps: 159 OPS+ and 94 RC are both second in the AL
   6. DL from MN Posted: April 29, 2015 at 12:31 PM (#4943646)
Very close election again
   7. caiman Posted: April 29, 2015 at 01:49 PM (#4943741)
Here's my top 10, with the run value:

1. Jack Chesbro 54.02 runs
2. Nap Lajoie 50.45
3. Honus Wagner 45.98 runs
4. Joe McGinnity 38.12 runs
5. Elmer Flick 34.51 runs
6. Roy Thomas 33.93 Runs
7. Noodles Hahn 33.03 runs
8. Frank Chance 29.68 runs
9. Kid Nichols 28.69 runs
10. Chick Stahl 26.24 runs
   8. DL from MN Posted: April 29, 2015 at 02:40 PM (#4943817)
Caiman - you're the first to leave off Rube Foster. Did you consider him?
   9. EricC Posted: April 29, 2015 at 04:08 PM (#4943924)
1904 MMP ballot. Another pitcher-heavy year. Not too thrilled
with Chesbro as #1, but can't ignore the quantity-quality combination.

1. Jack Chesbro
2. Joe McGinnity
3. Nap Lajoie
4. Honus Wagner
5. George "Rube" Waddell
6. Cy Young
7. Elmer Flick
8. Christy Mathewson
9. Andrew "Rube" Foster
10. Frank Chance
   10. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2015 at 10:21 AM (#4947761)
Six ballots would be an all-time low.
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 05, 2015 at 01:16 PM (#4947957)
Six ballots would be an all-time low.


The sad part is this is my favorite era of MMP voting so far.
   12. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2015 at 01:30 PM (#4947977)
The sad part is this is my favorite era of MMP voting so far.


1904 and 1903 are shaping up to be the closest elections we have had.
   13. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: May 05, 2015 at 02:04 PM (#4948020)
1904 final ballot:

I use a combination of WAR systems to get an average WAR for each player. I use that number to get a Dan R-style peak-rate salary estimation. I divide that salary by $1 million and add 3 times the average WAR to that dividend. I use a 20% bonus for catchers and do not credit postseason except as a tiebreaker (obviously, not applicable this year).

1. Jack Chesbro (57.61)
2. Nap Lajoie (55.97)
3. Rube Waddell (50.36)
4. Honus Wagner (50.10)
5. Joe McGinnity(47.13)
6. Cy Young (44.49)
7. Rube Foster (38.43)
8. Eddie Plank (38.05)
9. Elmer Flick (36.58)
10. George Davis (34.44)
   14. RicketyCat Posted: May 05, 2015 at 08:02 PM (#4948303)
I've watched your voting for a couple years now. I am using HoM as a yardstick for my own PHoM project. This may be the only time I stick my neck out there as I have only finished up through 1905 and have, as yet, not begun including NgL players (first year will be 1906). I wouldn't mind feedback on my choices. My method is very simple, being a weighted rank system (total ranks divided by weighted quartiles). I don't adjust for leagues, or overadjust for positions. And I DO NOT use WAR, so keep your koolaid. I do, however, evaluate ALL players within the leagues I include. I am also tracking each years' best by position as a side project, so this dovetails nicely with this vote. And, of course, this time I made the voting cutoff! Yay!

I have no delusion that my ranked list will be popular. I can live with that.

So:
1) Nap Lajoie AL 2B CLV
2) Frank Chance NL 1B CHC
3) Dan McGann NL 1B NYG
4) Jack Chesbro AL P NYY
5) Christy Mathewson NL P NYG
6) Elmer Flick AL RF CLV
7) Joe McGinnity NL P NYG
8) Jake Beckley NL 1B SLC
9) Honus Wagner NL SS PIT
10) Jesse Tannehill AL P BOS

11-15) John Anderson, Eddie Plank, Kid Nichols, Cy Seymour, Cy Young
16-20) Fred Tenney, Joe Kelley, Socks Seybold, Danny Murphy, Bill Bradley


-- For laughs these are the teams that I put together using my method. They represent the people I would invite to the next year's all-star game, barring retirement. (These represent the most often played position and are the best, via my method, at each position as evaluated. Although there may be better candidates that played a position, if they played more games at another, they are evaluated at that other position. Hence the following PH, RP, and CP candidates.) --

AL
M-Jimmy Collins BOS,
SP-Jack Chesbro NYY, RP-Cy Ferry DET, CP-Ed Walsh CHW, Pb-George Mullin DET,
C-Joe Sugden SLB, 1B-John Ganzel NYY, 2B-Nap Lajoie CLV, SS-Freddy Parent BOS, 3B-Bill Bradley CLV, LF-Kip Selbach BOS, CF-John Anderson NYY, RF-Elmer Flick CLV, PH-Harry Vahrenhorst SLB

NL
M-Joe Kelley CIN,
SP-Christy Mathewson NYG, RP-Grant Thatcher BRO, CP-Howie Camnitz PIT, Pb-Patsy Flaherty PIT,
C-Mike Grady SLC, 1B-Frank Chance CHC, 2B-Miller Huggins CIN, SS-Honus Wagner PIT, 3B-Tommy Leach PIT, LF-Sam Mertes NYG, CF-Cy Seymour CIN, RF-Cozy Dolan CIN, PH-Ike Van Zandt CHC
   15. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2015 at 08:09 PM (#4948311)
Seems awfully 1B heavy of a list RicketyCat. Dan McGann didn't hit nearly as well as Honus Wagner so you'd have to think 1B was way more difficult defensively.
   16. RicketyCat Posted: May 05, 2015 at 08:13 PM (#4948318)
Oops! That should be Kid Nichols ahead of Eddie plank in the 11-15 listing. (Meh. First post, first screwup...go fig)
   17. RicketyCat Posted: May 05, 2015 at 08:22 PM (#4948328)
I don't evaluate to eliminate by position. Where the numbers fall is where they fall. I don't think to myself, "Oh, I forgot to include a catcher! Better grab one fast." My method does tend to be a little on the 1B side as it includes fielding at just around 23% of the final numbers. McGann benefits because of this and Wagner does not. I do a conversion of the weighted rank number into a percentage based on number of people evaluated (1st place is great, but not if there are only 3 candidates). From Nap to Beckley the range is 96.23% to 90.46% with Nap and Frank separated by .01%. Tannehill sits with 85.40%. These percentages represent the confidence that I should have that that candidate is the best playing the game that year.
   18. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2015 at 10:15 PM (#4948403)
If you're not including defense I don't know how you could possibly get a much poorer hitter coming out ahead. Honus Wagner was by far a better hitter than McGann.
   19. neilsen Posted: May 05, 2015 at 11:27 PM (#4948470)
1904 Ballot

1. Honus Wagner
2. Napoleon Lajoie
3. Joe McGinnity
4. Jack Chesbro
5. Rube Waddell
6. Rube Foster
7. Elmer Flick
8. Cy Young
9. Mike Grady
10. Eddie Plank
   20. DL from MN Posted: May 06, 2015 at 10:01 AM (#4948670)
I'm going to count RicketyCat since his ballot was in before the prelim deadline.
   21. RicketyCat Posted: May 06, 2015 at 10:53 AM (#4948733)
Thanks for counting it, although I just realized I posted commentary about it in the wrong thread. I guess you could move it around. Or, just shake your head, declaim, "Neewbs," and leave it as is...
   22. Chris Fluit Posted: May 06, 2015 at 11:14 AM (#4948759)
I'm glad to see so many ballots come in over the past couple of days. It would be great to get at least one more so that we're up to 10.

RicketyCat- it's okay that you don't use WAR. I don't use it as a primary metric either although I will sometimes look at it after the fact to double check my results. It's also okay if you don't always agree with the consensus- I've been on my own a few times (like voting Darrell Evans first overall in 1973). However, I agree with DL that it's hard to imagine how Dan McGann beats Wagner. Wagner led the NL in all three slash categories- .349/.423/.520- while McGann clocks in at .286/.354/.387. I'm not sure how McGann makes up .203 points of OPS.
   23. RicketyCat Posted: May 06, 2015 at 03:49 PM (#4949128)
Slight adjustments and I hope This doesn't post late (I missed entering John McPherson on my sheet [headesk]) including my percentages (explained in the discussion thread):

1)  Nap Lajoie        AL 2B  96.23
2
)  Frank Chance      NL 1B  96.22
3
)  Dan McGann        NL 1B  95.39
4
)  Jack Chesbro      AL RSP 93.41
5
)  Christy Mathewson NL RSP 93.26
6
)  Elmer Flick       AL RF  90.77
7
)  Jake Beckley      NL 1B  90.46
8
)  Joe McGinnity     NL RSP 90.35
9
)  Honus Wagner      NL SS  89.05
10
Jesse Tannehill   AL LSP 85.40 


11-15) Kid Nichols, John Anderson, Eddie Plank, Cy Seymour, Cy Young
16-20) Fred Tenney, Jake Weimer, Socks Seybold, Danny Murphy, Bill Bradley

Been fun playing this time around. I might be able to get some discussion in on 1905, but after that I just don't have my files ready for it.
   24. DL from MN Posted: May 06, 2015 at 04:08 PM (#4949147)
Mr. C was posting in the prelim and hasn't finished. He said he was having difficulty interacting with the website. I would like to wait for his ballot but we're closed for people who didn't vote in 1903.

   25. DL from MN Posted: May 07, 2015 at 10:19 AM (#4949775)
Ballot will close Friday if Mr. C hasn't posted by then.
   26. DL from MN Posted: May 08, 2015 at 11:08 PM (#4951382)
Balloting is closed. I forgot about this until just now. I'll post full results Monday but Lajoie beat Chesbro.
   27. caiman Posted: May 12, 2015 at 02:55 PM (#4954006)
DL: I would love to give ratings for players from the Negro Leagues, but I do not have a way to do that. Therefore, Rube Foster cannot be included on my list. There is no objective way to compare the numbers between MLB and the Negro Leagues. I'm not sure it is fair to the Negro Leagues players to place them on this list. All you will get is one or two players from the Negro Leagues, vs. 8 or 9 from MLB. That's not right. There should be an equality of status for each, with a separate, full sized Hall equal in size to the MLB Hall, within the HOF for all pre-1947 Negro League players. That way many more Negro League players can be honored, rather than being submerged within a mostly white HOF. I think that the current method, while commendable, is still fundamentally racist simply because it is the white side deigning to include some stars from the Negro Leagues within the MLB honorees. In other words, there should be three wings at the HOF: one for the pre-1947 MLB, one for the Negro Leagues and one for the 1947-present MLB.
   28. DL from MN Posted: May 12, 2015 at 09:13 PM (#4954325)
There won't be another project just for Negro League players. Vote for them here or consider them unaccounted for throughout history.

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