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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pancho Coimbre

At one time, he was considered the greatest Puerto Rican player of all-time before Robert Clemente.

Eligible in 1956.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 30, 2005 at 09:32 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jorge Colon Delgado Posted: August 31, 2005 at 01:32 AM (#1586050)
Perucho Cepeda is one of the most underrated players in puertorrican baseball. In his first year in the Puerto Rican League, 1938, he batted .465. In 1939, .383 (beat Joshua Gibson by 3 points) and in 1940, .421.
He's the only player to average .400+ in two positions, shortstop (1938) and first base (1940). And both times, it was against negro pitchers like Raymond Brown, Billy Byrd, Bertrum Hunter, Bud Barbee, Leon Day, Roy Partlow and Impo Barnhill, among others.
Coimbre batted .400+ twice: 1940 (.401) and 1945 (.425). In 1945, all pitchers were puertorricans, negro players didn't participate because of WWII.
Coimbre was great, but Perucho Cepeda was greater.
   2. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 31, 2005 at 02:14 AM (#1586317)
The following information is from the book “El Equipo Del Siglo Del Béisbol Puertorriqueño” by René Molina. This book deals with selecting an all-time Puerto Rican professional baseball team for the 20th century. This includes players that never played in the major leagues such as Pancho Coimbre and Pedro Cepeda. PRWL stats are provided for all players that participated. I’ll try to get the information for Pancho and Perucho posted but it might take me a while to get it all up.

Francisco "Pancho" Coimbre was born in Coamo, Puerto Rico on January 29, 1909. He was 5'8" and weighed around 165 pounds during his playing days. Coimbre’s family moved to Ponce when he was 13 years old. He was an athlete in high school, competing in the 110 and 200 meter hurdles and the long jump. Coimbre got his first real taste of baseball at 15, when he was invited by “Millito” Navarro (who later went on to play professionally in PR and the negro leagues) to play with a team from Ponce against a team from San Juan in a doubleheader because the Ponce team was short one player. Pancho went 5 for 9 in the doubleheader. By 17 he was already concentrating on baseball.

Pancho’s professional career began in the Dominican Republic when he was 18. He went on to play for Magallanes in Venezuela, with Licey in the Dominican and in the Mexican championship, with the Caguas City team in Puerto Rico and several semi-pro tournaments. This encompasses the period between his professional debut and the creation of the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League. However, there is not that much documentation for this period.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2005 at 04:40 PM (#1587557)
Here's what I've been able to dig up on Coimbre thus far by trolling through various league encyclopedias.

Negro Leagues

YEAR TEAM AGE AVG
-----------------
1940  NYC 31 .320
1941* NYC 32 .353
1943  NYC 33 .438
1944  NYC 34 .357
1946**    36
=================
MEDIAN AVG   .367

*Also 2 for 7 in the playoffs
**Riley says he was with the NY Cubans in 1946, Holway lists no data.

MEXICAN LEAGUE
YEAR  TM AGE  AVG  G  AB   H 2B 3B HR BB K SB
-----------------------------------------------
1945 PUE  35 .346 89 356 123 26  6  5 31 8 10

-EST LG AVG (NO PITCHERS) .292, SLG .408
-4TH IN TB
-7TH IN H
-8TH IN AVG

PUERTO RICAN SUMMER AND WINTER LEAGUES
YEAR  LG  AGE    AVG  AB   H 2B
-------------------------------
1939 PRSL  30                18
1940 PRWL  30   .401 167  67 
1941 PRWL  32   .372         17
1945 PRWL  35   .338 114  38
1944 PRWL  34   .425 106  45
1947 PRWL  37   .323 185  55
===============================
                     572 205 35
-MEDIAN AVG     .372
-AVG FOR 
 AVAILABLE DATA .358


This isn't a lot to go on, obviously. It's better than nothing, but it's not much. Just from this you can surmise he's probably a lot like Rod Carew as a hitter: extreme contact hitter, a little pop but mostly in the form of doubles, and a very high average. Tony Gwynn, might be another player who fits this mold. I'm not going to post any systematic translations until I can get my hands on more data (hopefully by end of week).

In addition, we're looking at Coimbre's post-peak and early decline phases. That he's hitting for this kind of average in his 30s suggests a lot about the kind of talent he had. I think it may also suggest he had a touch more speed than shows up in his numbers, assuming that fast players tend to age better than not-fast players.

Finally, in his single Mexican season he walked at about 56% the rate of the league, suggesting that he didn't walk much. However, he struck out about 60% less often than the league, so perhaps it's a bit of a wash given the height of his average.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2005 at 05:23 PM (#1587657)
Carew and Gwynn didn't walk much and not too many people complained.

Were those NeL averages based on full seasons? Were any of them just a couple dozen ABs?

He looks like he could be better than Oms, about whom there is a fair consensus. Wouldn't compare him to Bell since it would depend on whether you have Bell in your top 5 or #50. I think you understate his power a bit. 37 of 123 H are for XB in Mexico in 1945 (age 35), SA .494 versus league .408.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2005 at 06:13 PM (#1587815)
I don't have AB/H hit data at this juncture for his NgL seasons. I should in near future, and that will help things a bit.

By the way, funny that Coimbre and Cepeda have the same initials.
   6. Trevor P. Posted: August 31, 2005 at 08:59 PM (#1588335)
How do you pronounce "Coimbre," by the by? Is it COM-bray? COYM-bray? KWAM-bray? Or something totally different?
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2005 at 09:04 PM (#1588353)
Trevor, this very morning a little bird alit on my shoulder and told me it was koh-EEM-bray....

(I asked the same question on the Cepeda thread!)

; )
   8. Rick A. Posted: September 01, 2005 at 12:52 AM (#1589140)
Please excuse my ignorance, but what position did he play?
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 01, 2005 at 12:59 AM (#1589182)
He was a right fielder, Rick.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 20, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1630608)
The following is an EXTREMELY speculative MLE for Pancho Coimbre. Using only the data you see above in this thread, I attempted to translate his available record.
YEAR LG AGE POS AVG  OBP  SLG   G   PA   AB   H   TB  BB ops+ sfws
------------------------------------------------------------------
1939 NL 30  OF .320 .360 .467 119  447  421 135  197  26 120  18.1
1940 NL 31  OF .328 .368 .424 140  527  496 163  210  32 118  19.5
1941 NL 32  OF .326 .371 .441 122  466  435 142  191  31 128  18.1
1943 NL 34  OF .394 .441 .510 126  486  448 177  229  38 175  28.7
1944 NL 35  OF .344 .387 .446 112  425  397 136  177  28 134  17.9
1945 NL 36  OF .295 .336 .382 128  484  456 134  174  28  99  13.3
1947 NL 38  OF .268 .310 .346 119  448  421 113  146  26  74   9.0
==================================================================
TOTALS         .325 .368 .431 866 3282 3074 999 1324 209 121 124.5

I think that the playing time is probably too shallow, I pegged him at around 82% of scheduled games based on trends I saw coming out of his record, but not on anything really tangible.

Then again, with NO NgL xBH data on him, I essentially had to create his TBs from whole cloth, depending on a small sample that included his MxL and a couple PRWL seasons for xBH rates.

The averages should be solid, but playing time will effect the totals line. FWS based on average outfielder.

Anyway, I want to emphasize that I worked this up just to get the a baseline for Pancho, and that's exactly how it should be taken, unless we suddenly come upon better, more detailed information. I think he could be somewhat better than this, but I don't think he'd be much worse. That's just one moderately informed guy's opinion.

OK, that said, I don't think it would be unreasonable for someone to mentally project a whole career for him because, as Jorge Delgado above says, Coimbre was playing in many leagues around the Carribean throughout his 20s.
   11. sunnyday2 Posted: September 20, 2005 at 08:55 PM (#1630652)
In fact, was playing professionally by age 18, though we don't know against what caliber of competition, or at what level himself. But I agree that it is not unreasonable to assume that his career woulda/shoulda started at age (whatever), maybe 22-23 though that is only a wild guess. Maybe at 18. Or forget the age thing, just double his career numbers (that would presume a start at age 23) that Doc has projected. That would be

6550 PAs/325/.368/.431/121

Not quite ballot worthy. Nice BA, nice not great OBA, a little weak in the SA department.

Can anybody provide any data from the 1930s? Right now I don't see enough to make my ballot. I have him #15-20 right now and he could move down with this. Not a lot, though, comparable to Oms (#30 on my ballot).
   12. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 01:36 AM (#1631354)
From the book “El Equipo Del Siglo Del Béisbol Puertorriqueño”

Negro Leagues (from the 8th ed. Baseball Encyclopedia)

YEAR TEAM AGE AVG GP AB H 2B 3B HR
-------------------------------------
1940 NYC 31 .331 28 124 41 2 0 2
1941 NYC 32 .360 30 111 40 5 2 4
1942 NYC 33 .438 34 137 60 11 0 2
1943 NYC 34 .275 22 80 22 3 0 1

The book lists a 1944 batting average of .390. The Negro Leagues Book lists him on the roster of the NY Cubans for 1945 and 1946.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE
Year Team Age AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg
1938-39 Ponce 29 165 22 48 13 2 1 -- -- -- -- .291
1939-40 Ponce 30 219 39 65 18 2 2 41 -- 0 8 .296
1940-41 Ponce 31 167 40 67 11 2 3 31 -- 0 0 .401
1941-42 Ponce 32 164 46 61 17 2 5 34 -- 0 0 .372
1942-43 Ponce 33 114 19 39 9 1 1 18 23 2 10 .342
1943-44 Ponce 34 157 41 59 12 1 1 27 -- 1 -- .376
1944-45 Ponce 35 106 19 45 5 1 1 17 9 1 -- .425
1945-46 Ponce 36 114 28 38 12 2 2 28 21 2 10 .333
1946-47 Ponce 37 189 26 63 10 1 1 33 37 5 -- .333
1947-48 Ponce 38 155 32 50 9 4 4 33 23 4 -- .323
1948-49 Ponce 39 239 45 80 12 3 3 43 58 1 5 .333
1949-50 Ponce 40 107 12 26 7 0 0 15 13 4 -- .243
1950-51 Ponce 41 19 1 5 0 0 0 2 3 0 -- .263
Totals 1915 370 646 135 17 24 322 187 20 33 .337
   13. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 01:06 PM (#1632085)
Hey, now we're talking! I'll run him through the mill and try to post up the results later today.
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2005 at 01:27 PM (#1632105)
Note, however, that his debut is still at age 30. This doesn't add any more seasons to his resume.

I figure his PRWL SA at .463.

His NL record in the four seasons listed is 163 H in 452 AB (.361 and then there's the .390 for 1944) with 32 SXBH and a SA of .476.

His seasonal results seem solid. But how long did he play? What was he doing prior to age 30?
   15. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 02:02 PM (#1632163)
Check out the BB/K ratio....

Esteban Rivera outlines Coimbre's activities pre-PRWL in post #2, and they suggest that he was playing professionally in Latin-American leagues.

Reposting what Esteban wrote:

Pancho’s professional career began in the Dominican Republic when he was 18. He went on to play for Magallanes in Venezuela, with Licey in the Dominican and in the Mexican championship, with the Caguas City team in Puerto Rico and several semi-pro tournaments. This encompasses the period between his professional debut and the creation of the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League. However, there is not that much documentation for this period.
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2005 at 02:42 PM (#1632251)
I guess what I meant was something about what he did there, what level of competition this was, etc. You're right, though, he was playing baseball. Kinda like Dobie Moore.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 03:36 PM (#1632385)
Here's the MLEs based on the numbers provided by Esteban Rivera. Thank you, Esteban!!!

The main revelation in those numbers is Coimbre's walk rate, which in the PRWL is much higher than it was in Mexico, and higher again than the NL averages of the time. To be conservative, I've simply pegged his walk rate to the NL average.
YEAR LG AGE POS AVG  OBP  SLG    G   PA   AB    H   TB  BB ops+ sfws
--------------------------------------------------------------------
1938 NL 29  OF .262 .321 .338  151  584  537  141  181  47  81  11.6
1939 NL 30  OF .267 .328 .348  154  596  547  146  190  50  82  12.9
1940 NL 31  OF .329 .397 .394  135  532  479  158  188  54 119  18.8
1941 NL 32  OF .327 .402 .469  133  529  471  154  221  59 145  23.5
1942 NL 33  OF .357 .433 .426  115  464  409  146  175  55 152  20.3
1943 NL 34  OF .303 .374 .354  112  443  398  121  141  45 111  12.2
1944 NL 35  OF .344 .416 .416  112  446  397  136  165  49 135  18.0
1945 NL 36  OF .295 .348 .400  128  493  456  134  182  37 107  14.9
1946 NL 37  OF .300 .378 .338  121  484  431  129  146  54 104  12.5
1947 NL 38  OF .290 .365 .418   99  395  353  103  148  42 108  13.1
1948 NL 39  OF .301 .377 .367  115  458  408  123  150  50 102  13.3
1949 NL 40  OF .213 .274 .234   53  203  187   40   44  16  37   1.0
====================================================================
Total          .302 .371 .381 1429 5628 5072 1530 1931 556 109 172.1

Playing time is prorated in the usual manner from his games played divided by the team games or scheduled games.

My main curiousity is why his age 29 and 30 numbers come out so low (aka 1938-1939, the first two years of the PRWL). I wonder if there is some kind of contextual explanation for this, or if this is an adjustment period for Coimbre or what?

The complicating factor, then, is whether his peak was in the usual age 26-27 range (or earlier since he turned pro young) or whether he peaked in his early 30s.

By the way if anyone (Esteban???) has leaguewide batting totals for any PRWL seasons, please share them!!!!
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2005 at 03:52 PM (#1632427)
Actually the main revelation for a peak voter like me is his peak of 152-145-135 and then 110s. Not good.
   19. Gadfly Posted: September 21, 2005 at 04:11 PM (#1632471)
Coimbre's first two PRWL seasons are probably simply sample size variation. Coimbre was an excellent hitter though, somewhat like Tony Gwynn. As always, I think the conversion rates are probably too low.

Coimbre was from Ponce and there is actually a small Pancho Coimbre meuseum there. On one of the displays was his first contract with Ponce. If I remember right, Coimbre was paid 5 bucks a week for the 1938-39 season.

Perhaps the saddest thing about Coimbre is how he passed away. His house caught fire and he was trapped inside and burned to death.

When you travel to Puerto Rico, one of the first things you notice is the bars over the windows of private homes. In Coimbre's case, those bars on his windows kept him from getting out.
   20. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 11:08 PM (#1633387)
Sorry Doc but I haven't been able to locate any league wide totals yet. I am on the lookout for anything that might help. Right now I'm trying to locate a copy of the Crescioni book about the Puerto Rican league to see if there is any help there. Another option may be to contact the league office to see if they can provide any information.

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