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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Perucho Cepeda

Orlando’s father, this shortstop was known as “The Bull.”

Eligible in 1954.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 28, 2005 at 06:29 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2005 at 01:53 AM (#1586176)
Thought I'd bring this over from the Coimbre thread.

Posted by Jorge Colon Delgado on August 30, 2005 at 09:32 PM (#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 02:33 AM (#1586434)
You can add Satchel Paige, Dan Bankhead, Barney Brown, Alonso Perry, Wilmer Fields, Johnny Davis, Ford Smith and Chet Brewer to the list of pitchers around at the time.

Also, during its early years, the PRWL was a weekend league. This allowed teams to have their best hurlers ready in time for the following weekend. I do not know when the league started playing the games more succesively.

As an aside, since WWII was brought up, because of the U.S. involvement in the war the PRWL contracted from 8 teams to 4 for the 42-43 season.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2005 at 01:09 PM (#1587088)
Two ignorant questions, but I don't know Spanish very well.

1) Is Perucho pronounced
per-OO-koh or per-OO-choh ?

2) And how is Coimbre pronounced? Is it
CWAM-bray?

Thank you!
   4. TomH Posted: August 31, 2005 at 01:31 PM (#1587121)
Its been a long while, but

pay ROO choh

Koh EEM bray
   5. Jorge Colon Delgado Posted: September 01, 2005 at 01:50 AM (#1589394)
In the seasons that Perucho had those averages, 1938, 1939 and 1940, Barney Brown didn't participated in Puerto Rico. Neither Bankhead, Perry, Wilmer Fields, Johnny Davis and Ford Smith. Paige and Brewer saw action, but in the same team that Perucho played, "Brujos de Guayama".
   6. yest Posted: September 01, 2005 at 06:01 PM (#1591082)
does anyone remember around the time Orlando Cepada made the hall of fame there was some talk that his was better then he was (though thats probobly based on the my genaration is better then yours syndrome)
   7. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 01:43 AM (#1631393)
From the book “El Equipo Del Siglo Del Béisbol Puertorriqueño”

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE
Year Team Age AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg
1938-39 Guayama 32 170 38 79 12 5 0 48 -- -- -- .465
1939-40 Guayama 33 214 40 82 8 8 5 58 -- -- 13 .383
1940-41 Guayama 34 178 41 75 13 7 2 47 -- -- -- .421
1941-42 Guayama 35 151 32 57 10 2 2 30 -- -- -- .377
1942-43 San Juan 36 145 24 41 3 4 2 25 10 8 5 .383
1943-44 San Juan 37 147 16 36 2 3 1 14 -- -- -- .245
1944-45 San Juan 38 143 13 37 3 0 0 20 -- -- -- .259
1945-46 San Juan 39 155 12 41 6 1 0 18 3 18 0 .265
1946-47 Caguas 40 187 16 42 9 1 1 25 -- -- -- .255
1947-48 Caguas 41 69 8 18 4 0 1 10 -- -- -- .261
1948-49 DNP 42
1949-50 Ponce 43 30 -- 8 -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- .267
Totals 1589 240 516 60 31 14 295 13 27 18 .325
   8. Chris Cobb Posted: September 21, 2005 at 03:00 AM (#1631699)
1942-43 San Juan 36 145 24 41 3 4 2 25 10 8 5 .383

There's an error in this season's data somewhere: 41/145 = .283, not .383. Is the hit total correct, or the batting average?
   9. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 04:50 AM (#1631862)
Thanks for catching that Chris. The batting average is the one that is incorrect. It should be .283. I thought I had checked all the numbers but I must have missed this one. Goes to show to always triple check the numbers any book gives you. Sorry about that. If any lurkers have another source for further numbers for Cepeda, Coimbre or any other excluded player please do not hesitate in sharing.

By the way, I found an on-line Dominican newspaper, www.listindiario.com.do, that has a column that talks about Dominican baseball games from times past, usually including a game account and lineup. There are some mentions of Cepeda and Coimbre there. I'll look around it and see exactly what is there to find.
   10. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 05:02 AM (#1631870)
1937 DR overview

The link has a small overview of the famous 1937 Dominican Republic summer league season. It includes the full roster of players that were on the Ciudad Trujillo team. If anybody needs anything translated let me know.
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 03:50 PM (#1632421)
Esteban,

I see that Coimbre and Cepeda are both listed in the lengthy list of players toward the bottom of the article. What does the article say about which team they were on, and what does it say about whether they were getting playing time.

Thanks!
   12. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 04:26 PM (#1632511)
Based on the numbers kindly supplied by Mr. Rivera, here are MLEs for Cepdea.

1938 shows up as a .400 season for Perucho. This may be because the conversion rate I used (.9/.82) might be too high, but even if I take it down to AA level (.875/.76), he's still hitting .407).

Additionally, I've made the executive decision to lop off everything after 1943. Starting in 1943, he had a run of MLE OPS+s in the 40s to 60s, and there's just no way he's playing big-league ball at those rates. I don't know if he was injured, went off a cliff, or if the competition level suddenly jumped way up in PR, but he bit it after that.

I've put 1937 and left it blank. Cepeda appears on the players list in the article above (as does Coimbre) suggesting that they were playing at a very high level in 1937. I chose not to do any extrapolating for that season because I just don't feel very comfortable with The Bull's numbers yet. Too many ifs and questions.

On a related note, I have no idea what to do with his position except where noted in this thread. I have the feeling he moved off of SS soon after his first PRWL season, and in 1937 he was listed in the article as a 2B only. So I've made him an OF except where I've had information that tells me where to put him.

YEAR LG AGE POS avg  obp  slg   g   pa   ab   h   tb  bb ops+ sfws
------------------------------------------------------------------
1937 NL 31  2B
1938 NL 32  OF .419 .463 .487 147  564  521 218  254  44 161  36.4
1939 NL 33  OF .345 .387 .464 154  584  547 188  253  38 127  26.0
1940 NL 34  OF .379 .423 .498 154  586  545 207  271  41 153  30.8
1941 NL 35  OF .339 .381 .418 132  501  469 159  196  32 125  19.1
1942 NL 36  OF .345 .387 .328 127  481  450 155  148  31 110  13.5
1943 NL 37  OF .221 .253 .262  50  185  177  39   46   8  49   1.1
==================================================================
TOTALS         .357 .400 .431 763 2902 2709 966 1169 193 131 126.9
   13. karlmagnus Posted: September 21, 2005 at 04:59 PM (#1632589)
There weren't a lot of people batting .419 in the 1938 NL, which suggests that the conversions may be a bit off...
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 06:11 PM (#1632731)
Karl,

I agree with you. I've presented the numbers as-the-math-goes in the hopes that someone might suggest a rememdy or be able to offer information on the quality of play in 1938 that might be of some use in fleshing these MLEs out a bit.
   15. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 11:36 PM (#1633489)
Doc,

The entire list, starting from Lantigua and up to Andrews, is everybody that was on the Ciudad Trujillo team, which was an amalgamation of the Licey and Escogido teams plus the negro leaguers Paige was able to convince to go and play. It is a very stacked roster and playing time might have been a bit limited for some of them.

The article provides the following lineup as the most frequently used, but it does not mention how many times it was used:

1- Cool Papa Bell CF.
2- Silvio García 3B.
3- Lázaro Salazar RF.
4- Joshua Gibson 1B.
5- Harry Williams 2B.
6- Cy Perkins C.
7- Sammy Bankhead SS.
8- Tony Castaño LF.
9- Leroy Satchel Paige P.

The article states that the very same newspaper ran a more detailed account of the season in their editions that ran from Saturday, May 3 to Saturday November 8 in 1975.

The season ran from March 28 to July 11 and was scheduled for 45 games, of which 42 were played, one tie and two suspended.

One thing I would be careful for this season is drawing conclusions about the players from their playing time. Just a cursory glance at the most used lineup signals some bias. That lineup has all the American position players on the team in the lineup, all brought in by Paige the big prize recruit, and three Cubans, of which one, Salazar, was the manager.

This was a very politically motivated baseball season and Trujillo was bringing every great ballplayer he could find for his team. Even if all did not play, at least the competition could not have them. For all we know, it is a very good possibilty that all the negro leaguers got the bulk of the playing time because of the shiny new toy factor for the local crowds and because of the amount of money Trujillo was investing in them.
   16. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 21, 2005 at 11:49 PM (#1633560)
Venezuela vs Dominican 1934

This article talks about the Venezuelan Concordia team doing a tour of the Dominican in 1934. Apparently, the Licey and Escogido teams were not having any luck defeating Concordia and they organized the game in the article, which was Concordia vs. a combination of Licey and Escogido players. There are quite a few familiar names involved in this game, as Concordia seems to have reinforced itself before doing the tour.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 22, 2005 at 01:05 AM (#1633898)
Esteban, thanks for all of this great information! And for continuing to look for numbers and articles (as you mentioned in the Coimbre thread).

The article in post 16 seems to substantiate that both Cepeda and Coimbre were playing ball in 1934 (age 25 for Coimbre, 28 for Cepeda).
   18. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 22, 2005 at 02:49 AM (#1634371)
1929 Dominican League overview

I managed to find this article reviewing the 1929 Dominican season. According to the author, this was the highest quality season played up to that point because of all the foreign players that were recruited by the league that year. Licey had 9 cubans, Escogido had 6 Cubans and 3 Puerto Ricans, and Sandino had 5 Puerto Ricans. Games were played only on weekends.

The three lists that appear are the pitching records, showing the player's name, team, wins, losses and win percentage; the batting average leaders; and the small list of players are noteworthy players who did ot accumulate enough at bats to qualify for the title, most likely because they joined their teams after the season began. The end of the article recounts a humorous anecdote off how the Licey team hijacked Oms from the Escogido team



Games 9-12 of 1929 season

This link has a brief overview of games 9-12. Of note is the mention that Perucho Cepeda debuted with the Sandino team at third base during the 10th game of the season. He had the game winning hit. This confirms my earlier suspicions on why Cepeda did not have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title.
   19. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 22, 2005 at 02:52 AM (#1634381)
players are noteworthy players who did ot accumulate enough at bats to qualify for

That should read not accumulate enough at bats to qualify
   20. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 22, 2005 at 03:03 AM (#1634399)
So Coimbre, age 20, was a pitcher in 1929, while Cepeda, a couple years older, was making his debut in the DR.

Was Cepeda making his professional debut in this game as well?
   21. Gadfly Posted: September 22, 2005 at 04:31 AM (#1634469)
Doc-

Pedro Cepeda turned professional in 1928 when he was 23. He played for the San Juan Athletics that summer and then follewed a lot of other Puerto Rican players to the Dominican for the winter season.
   22. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 22, 2005 at 05:37 AM (#1634569)
Does anybody know Pedro Cepeda's birthdate? The book I am using lists him as being born in 1906, which would make him 22 years old in 1928. However, Gadfly has him as being 23 years old in 1928. Which one is correct?
   23. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 24, 2005 at 02:28 AM (#1638955)
Game 1 Concordia visit to DR

Game 2 Concordia visit to DR

Game 6 Concordia visit to DR

The links above show for which teams Cepeda and Coimbre played for in the Dominican league in 1934. Also, I think we may have solved the Johnny Mize-Martin Dihigo "when did they play together in Santo Domingo" mystery.
   24. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 24, 2005 at 02:52 AM (#1639025)
Article about Hall of Famers that played in PR

Some tidbits from the article:

Martin Dihigo was the first HOFer to play in Puerto Rico. His first appearance was on December 16, 1932. He lost 2-0 to the Camden team, comprised of AA ball minor leaguers. He would return several times with the Almendares team and even faced the Cincinatti Reds in March of 1936 when they had their spring training in Puerto Rico.

The second HOFer to play in Puerto Rico was Johnny Mize. He debuted on October 15, 1933 in the Castillo de Ponce league with the Richmond team. They defeated Ponce 7 to 2.

Cmaden and Richmond, among other teams, took part in what were known as the "foreign leagues", which took place in Puerto Rico during the decade of the 1920's. The visiting teams in these leagues were composed of negro leaguers, minor leaguers, cubans, dominicans and venezuelans.

It was during this period that Josh Gibson (with the Estrellas de Ramírez team) and Buck Leonard, Raymond Dandridge, Satchel Paige and Leon Day ( all four with the Brooklyn Eagles) first played in Puerto Rico. All of them would come back to play after the formation of the PRWL in 1938.

Johnny Mize, Josh Gibson, Martín Dihigo, Satchel Paige and Roy Campanella all played in various tournaments in Venezuela before the founding of their professional league in December 1945.
   25. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 24, 2005 at 02:55 AM (#1639032)
Small correction, the "foreign leagues" in Puerto Rico started in the 1920's but also coninued into the 1930's.
   26. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 24, 2005 at 02:56 AM (#1639035)
Small correction, the "foreign leagues" in Puerto Rico started in the 1920's but also continued into the 1930's.
   27. Gadfly Posted: September 24, 2005 at 08:41 PM (#1640109)
Esteban-

Pedro Anibal Cepeda was born on January 31, 1905 in Catano (tilde over the n, a suburb of San Juan, east on the coast toward the El Yunque rain forest), Puerto Rico, and died April 16, 1955, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during his son Orlando's first season as a pro ball player.

Some sources list Pedro Cepeda's birth year as 1906 and his son Orlando obviously believed his father was born in 1906 because Orlando states, in at least two of his 3 autobiographies, that his father was 49 when he died. However, a short Venezuela biography in the 1930s states that Pedro Cepeda's birthdate was 1-31-1905 and the 1910 U.S. Census concurs with 1905 as the year.

Pedro Cepeda's nickname "Perucho" is to Pedro what Petey would be to Peter, an affectionate corruption. Pedro Cepeda had two other nicknames: "El Toro" (The Bull: for his toughness and strength) and "The Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico."

However, it must be stated that Cepeda was not called the Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico because he was a home run hitter; he was nicknamed that because he was the BEST player in Puerto Rico just as Ruth was in the States.

Pedro Cepeda stood 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 190 pounds in his prime (oddly, it is sometimes said that Pedro was a bigger man than his son Orlando but this is not true in a strict physical sense). He weighed 180 pounds early in his career and was around 200 at the end of it.

Perucho was a right-handed batter and thrower and was famous for the strength of his throwing arm and that he was evidently a fantastic bad ball hitter. In my opinion, Pedro Cepeda, as a hitter, in his prime, would have been very very similar to Joe Medwick in the Majors (BA above .350, 20 to 30 home runs and walks a year).

As a fielder, Pedro Cepeda had the ability to play second base, shortstop, and right field in his prime. At the end of his career, he played mostly first base. As a shortstop, it appears that Cepeda was in the Cal Ripken mold. He could play back and use the strength of his arm to make up for his lack of a shortstop's traditional speed.

It is just my opinion, but I bet Cepeda was a terrific shortstop in his prime simply because he was not a traditional shortstop. At that time, managers looked for the Phil Rizzuto type shortstop, i.e. small light guy, quick as sh*t, range from speed not arm strength.

For Cepeda to play short despite not fitting the sterotype indicates that somebody was intelligent in the same way Earl Weaver was about Ripken. In any event, Pedro's bat was so good that he was going to play somewhere.

Pedro Cepeda basically played baseball year round from 1928 to 1942. However, during World War 2, Cepeda got a steady job with the San Juan Water Department. From that point on, Cepeda basically was just playing baseball during the summers to supplement his real job and income.

This turn of events, of course, shows up quickly in his stats. Pedro Cepeda was the best position player, except for Josh Gibson of course, in the Puerto Rican Winter League for the four seasons from 1938 to 1942. After a decent, but not great, season in 1942-43, Cepeda was simply a run of the mill player for the rest of his career.

Of course, Cepeda was quite old when his skills abruptly faded after the 1941-42 season, but the biggest factor in his rapid decline, in my opinion, was the fact that baseball was no longer his main job.
   28. Gadfly Posted: September 24, 2005 at 09:52 PM (#1640192)
Esteban-

I did not know that there was a "Johnny Mize-Martin Dihigo: when did they play together in Santo Domingo" mystery. Someone should ahve asked me. LOL

In the Winter of 1933-1934, Johnny Mize toured the Carribean with the Richmond team from the U.S. and Martin Dihigo toured the Carribean with the Concordia team of Venezuela. The Concordia team was backed finacially by the son of Vicente Gomez, the dictator of Venezuela, and managed by Dihigo.

In January of 1934, the Concordia team went to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, to play against the top two teams there, Licey and Escogido, in a series of exhibitions and then for the Trujillo Cup. Rafael Trujillo, of course, being the dictator of the Dominican Republic.

From 1-21-1928 to 1-28-1934, Concordia went 6-1 in seven games against Licey and Escogido during the exhibitions. The Trujillo Cup went from 2-4-1934 to 2-26-1934 and Concordia won the cup too, going 6-3 in nine games.

All three teams loaded up with players for the Trujillo Cup Series. Concordia signed Mize and Jimmy Jordan from Richmond. This, of course, was the great thing about professional Latin baseball back then. Latin teams would sign whoever they thought could play.

Of course, Mize would later state that Dihigo was the greatest baseball player he ever saw, played with, or played against. Mize would also state that the pitchers would walk Dihigo to get to him, such was their fear of Martin.

Interestingly, in every box score I've ever seen, Dihigo bats behind Mize. Of course, Dihigo was the manager of Concordia and may have quickly flipped his and Mize's batting slots in an unrecorded game, but perhaps Mize simply had it wrong.

In any event, both Mize and Jordan did not finish the Trujillo Cup out with Concordia, having to report to Major League Spring Training before the end of the series. Concordia, continuing with the wonderful color blindness, replaced Mize and Jordan with two Negro League superstars: Josh Gibson and Rap Dixon.

After the Trujillo Cup finished, Concordia played a combined Licey-Escogido team on 3-4-1934. Dihigo's team won this too, 8-5. Then Concordia traveled to Puerto Rico to play the Cuban team Almendares a set of three games (3-10 and two games on 3-11-1934) for what was billed basically as the Championship of the Cuba, Venezuela, and the Carribean.

This, of course, was not the regular Winter Season Almendares team but basically a fantastic Cuban All-Star team. Despite Josh Gibson going 9 for 14 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 home runs in the three games, Almendares swept Concordia 3 straight games.

Concordia stayed around Puerto Rico for another week, crushing the Puerto Rico Stars, a Puerto Rican All-Star team that borrowed Alejandro Oms from Almendares to be their clean-up hitter, before returning to Venezuela on 3-22-1934.

Of course, perhaps the most interesting thing here is the Trujillo Cup. Usually the insanely competitive and expensive 1937 Dominican Republic Tournament that drew the cream of the Negro Leagues and Latin Leagues to Santo Domingo is portrayed as some sort of one time anomaly.

But, in fact, the Trujillo Cup took place throughout the 1930s. The 1937 competition that got totally out of hand was the result of neither Licey nor Escogido being able to win the Cup.

Concordia's victory in 1934 and, even more importantly, the loss of Licey and Escogido to the "Estrellas Orientals" (Eastern Stars) of San Pedro de Macoris in the 1936 Trujillo Cup sparked the 1937 craziness.
   29. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 24, 2005 at 10:27 PM (#1640241)
Thank you very much for all the wonderful information Gadfly. The book that lists him as being born in 1906 also has him as being 6'3" and weighing 220 pounds, which illustartes how hard it is to get accurate information on these "unknown" greats. Makes one appreciate those who do all the hard work to separate fact from hearsay. The mystery thing comes from various articles mentioning the Mize quote about the great year he was having but they were walking Dihigo to get to him (if I remember correctly, I believe I first read this quote in the NHBA). Several of those writers apparently didn't know about the Trujillo Cup and speculated that Mize meant Cuba or Venezuela. That's were my mystery comment comes from. Again, thanks for the wonderful history lesson.
   30. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:09 AM (#3696423)
Are any updated numbers available for Perucho Cepeda? His reputation, along with the limited MLE's produced by Dr. Chaleeko paint the picture of either a Hall of Meriter, or one that deserves close scrutiny. He belongs in my notables list for 1930s players at minimum. I will be cross-posting shortly from other threads/sites to hopefully liven the discussion of this Latin star.
   31. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:13 AM (#3696426)
From the Baseball Fever website by jalbright:

http://www.baseball-fever.com/archive/index.php/t-98697.html

Perucho ("The Bull") Cepeda

This man is Orlando ("The Baby Bull") Cepeda's father. According to Jim Riley, many observers feel the elder Cepeda was the better ballplayer. This Cepeda never played in the states, as he was a proud man with a temper. He realized a black man with those traits could easily get into serious trouble in the States in those days, so he never came and played here, despite repeated offers. I don't even see that he played in Cuba or Mexico, which surprises me. Anyway, when the Puerto Rican Winter League started, he was already 32. He played shortstop, and according to William McNeil's Baseball's Other Stars, he was a good fielder. In his first five seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Cepeda did the following despite quality opponents like Satchel Paige, Leon Day, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Tetelo Vargas, Francisco Coimbre and Roy Campanella (I don't know if any of them were there all five years--but there were some very good ballplayers in the PRWL at the time):

Won two MVPs
Won two batting titles and finished third twice
Won three RBI titles and finished second once
was second in HR once
Led in triples once and was third once
was third in runs scored once and fourth twice

According to a book in Spanish by Jose Crescioni Benitez, Cepeda's totals for his first four years are as follows:

AB H 2B 3B HR avg slg
713 293 43 22 9 0.411 0.571

That sure impresses me. After those first four years, it looks like he tailed off due to age. He at least played in the Dominican Republic in the 1930's, including in that fabulous 1937 season when so many Negro League greats played there.

We can add to that this from AG2004:

More information on Perucho Cepeda, a shortstop (and, in his 30s, outfielder) from Puerto Rico.

From 1938 until 1942 - the first five seasons for which we have statistics for Cepeda - he accomplished the following in the Puerto Rican Winter League against some of the top talent from the Negro Leagues:
(repeating information provided above)

The people at baseballthinkfactory have come up with major league equivalents for pre-integration Puerto Rican legends Francisco Coimbre and Perucho Cepeda, both of whom would appear to be HOF candidates based on their reputations. Based on the projections alone, Coimbre doesn’t seem quite worthy of the BBFHOF, so I won't mention him any futher here. However, these are the win shares produced for Cepeda:

1938 (Age 32) 36
1939 (Age 33) 26
1940 (Age 34) 31
1941 (Age 35) 20
1942 (Age 36) 13
1943 (Age 37) 1

Unfortunately, we have no statistics whatsoever for Puerto Rico prior to 1938. We do know, however, that Cepeda played professionally around the Caribbean for at least a decade before 1938, and he was called “The Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico” for being the best baseball player on the island.

Looking at what he did from age 32 onwards, and knowing that he played on the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team in the Dominican Republic, it seems reasonable to assume that Cepeda would have racked up the equivalent of four or five seasons with 30+ win shares during his career, which is certainly BBFHOF territory. No eligible major leaguer with five such seasons is outside the BBFHOF. Of those with four such seasons, only Charlie Keller, Jimmy Wynn, and Bobby Bonds are outside the BBFHOF. All three were outfielders; Cepeda, however, was a shortstop during his prime. Furthermore, Cepeda had a full career (Keller didn't), and had a great reputation (Wynn didn't).

[For those who are curious, Stan Hack is the only eligible major leaguer at 2B, 3B, or SS with three 30+ win share seasons not in the BBFHOF. There are only two eligible major league shortstops with two 30+ win share seasons not in the BBFHOF: Hughie Jennings and Vern Stephens.]

-----

Also, it seems even more reasonable to assume that Cepeda would have earned at least 40 win shares total at ages 30 and 31, and would have averaged at least 22 win shares per season from ages 24 to 31. Given his reputation before the PRWL started, we know that he wasn't a late bloomer, and we do have MLEs for Cepeda from age 32 onwards, so this would most likely underestimate his real ability. This would give Cepeda at least 303 career win shares, at least 133 win shares in his best five seasons, and at least 93 win shares in his best three seasons. Since I'm being very conservative in setting these minimums, he was most likely better than that.

Now, these shortstops are in the BBFHOF:

Barry Larkin. 346 career WS, 130 in best five seasons, 32, 31, 30 in best three seasons.

Ozzie Smith. 326 career WS, 123 in best five seasons, 33, 25, 23 in best three seasons.

Alan Trammell. 318 career WS, 132 in best five seasons, 35, 29, 26 in best three seasons.

Pee Wee Reese. 314 career WS plus war credit, 134 in best five seasons, 32, 27, 26 in best three seasons.

Lou Boudreau. 277 career WS, 135 in best five seasons, 34, 32, 30 in best three seasons.

Thus, in all probability, Perucho Cepeda was at least the equal of fellow shortstops Larkin, Smith, Trammell, Reese, and Boudreau, all of whom are members of the BBFHOF. Do we have all the statistics to make this absolutely certain? Unfortunately not. But the statistics we do have for Cepeda, as well as the reputation Cepeda had before he compiled our available numbers, lead me to believe that Cepeda belongs in the BBFHOF.
   32. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:16 AM (#3696431)
Esteban, are you familiar with the work that jalbright is citing -
According to a book in Spanish by Jose Crescioni Benitez, Cepeda's totals for his first four years are as follows:

AB H 2B 3B HR avg slg
713 293 43 22 9 0.411 0.571

That sure impresses me. After those first four years, it looks like he tailed off due to age. He at least played in the Dominican Republic in the 1930's, including in that fabulous 1937 season when so many Negro League greats played there.


Are these 4 years the beginning of his career, presumably 1920's/30s, or are they really just the documented evidence already stated at the hall of merit - 1938-1941.
   33. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:25 AM (#3696435)
Gadfly had added more discussion regarding Cepeda on the 1954 ballot thread - post 75:

"Pedro (Perucho) Cepeda [Orlando's Daddy], born 1905
PRWL 1938-39 to 1947-48, and 49-50
AB R H 2B 3B HR BA SA
1589 240 516 60 31 14 .325 .428

Perucho started his pro baseball career in 1928 and played in Venezuela in the 1930s and was on the famous 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team with the cream of the Negro League. Reportedly he wouldn't play in the States because of 1) racial discrimination or 2) his wife and mistress and both families were in PR.

Although Cepeda's statistics are not as good as Coimbre's stats, this comes with a caveat. Cepeda was by far the best hitter in the PRWL from 1938 to 1942 (713 AB .411 BA .571 SA) except for Josh Gibson. In 1942, the 36-year-old Cepeda got a full-time job with the San Juan Sanitation department and was obviously not concentrating fully on his baseball career from that point on.

After a decent year in 1942-43, Cepeda wasn't that great a player for the rest of his career with BA of .283 (42-43), .245, .259, .265, .261, and .267 at age 44.

Cepeda was a SS in his prime who also played some 3B and RF (i.e he had a great arm), and, at the end of his career was a 1B. He stood 5 feet 11 inches, weighed 190 in his prime and 200 at the end of his career. He did not walk or strike out much. If I had to comp him with a modern player it would be Nomar, possibly Jeter.

For some Puerto Rican reference for these two guys, Roberto Clemente's PRWL career stats are .324 BA and .457 SA and Orlando Cepeda stats are .323 BA and .544.

All though some sources credit Pedro with more power than his kid, I don't think that's true. I think Pedro would have had 20-25 HR power with a .350-.375 BA in the Majors at his peak (Gehringer with a little more speed and power but less walks).

But, of course, neither Cepeda the elder nor Coimbre played in the PRWL during their prime. This is particularily acute with Perucho who was 33 in the first season of the PRWL."

Could a case be made that Cepeda would have had a better decline phase had he been allowed to play in a different time period. When he was 36, he took a job with the San Juan Sanitation department, which put a damper on his late career numbers. An improved decline phase and or extrapolation for his age 22-31 seasons, shows Cepeda as worthy of our attention.
   34. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:42 AM (#3696442)
Perucho Cepeda was elected to the Baseball Fever Hall of Fame. To compare, Cepeda, Ray Dandridge, and Dick Redding are the only Negro/Latin stars elected to that Hall that are not enshrined at the Hall of Merit.
   35. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 24, 2010 at 03:45 AM (#3696446)
Dr. Chaleeko comments on the 1993 ballot thread, post 40:

"*I'm reviewing some stuff lately for the Mexican data I've got, and I'm beginning to think that we may have really missed the boat on guys like Perucho Cepeda, Tetelo Vargas, and Pancho Coimbre. I am aware that their record is skeletal, yet we elected Grant and Johnson whose records were nonexistent. And this also brings us to Bill Monroe and his vanishing record as well. I'm not sure I'm saying we should all suddenly leap up and pore through sources for them, but in 2007, they will be the guys I am most likely to feel regret about. I mean would I rather have Thompson or Perucho? Boyer or Vargas? Terry or Coimbre? Doerr or Monroe? I suspect it's not so cut and dried."

In the Shortstops positional thread, Esteban Rivera mentions looking at Cepeda's career in the same scope as Dickey Pearce:

"23) Dickey Pearce - Have always had doubts about Dickey. How about using the Dickey Pearce extrapolation/comparison method with Pedro Cepeda? Find how many shortstops have hit like Perucho at that age and work back from there."
   36. Esteban Rivera Posted: November 24, 2010 at 09:17 PM (#3696917)
Esteban, are you familiar with the work that jalbright is citing -
According to a book in Spanish by Jose Crescioni Benitez, Cepeda's totals for his first four years are as follows:


I believe so. I've been trying to find that book for quite a while but haven't been able to locate a copy. If I'm not mistaken, the book being referenced is the PRWL (Puerto Rico Winter League) book. This would mean that it's the first four documented years in the PRWL, not anything before 1938 (incidentally, in post 7 of this thread I posted Perucho's yearly totals from a book that used Crescioni's numbers as their source, just disregard the mistake I posted for the BA for 1942-43).

I'm glad somebody has shown interest in Perucho Cepeda. He's always been a candidate who I've wanted to put on my ballot but have not yet done so.
   37. Alex King Posted: November 25, 2010 at 09:18 AM (#3697194)
I regressed Cepeda's MLEs to his 3-year averages, weighted by Cepeda's actual PA in each season:

Year Age BA OBP SLG WAR Pos
1938 33 0.392 0.436 0.484 6.8 SS
1939 34 0.370 0.413 0.477 4.8 1B
1940 35 0.362 0.405 0.471 4.8 1B
1941 36 0.350 0.392 0.434 3.4 1B
1942 37 0.315 0.354 0.375 2.1 1B
1943 38 0.264 0.300 0.312 0.0 1B

Certainly a SS capable of a .392/.436/.484 line at 33 is a very valuable player and is indicative of a very good career. From these MLEs I have a couple questions:

1. How reliable are the translations? Was Cepeda actually this good?
2. What are the career numbers for players who posted similar numbers at a similar age? Could we attempt to project Cepeda backwards, as Esteban and Bleed the Freak suggest, to arrive at an estimate of Cepeda's value in his 20s?
   38. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: November 27, 2010 at 08:36 PM (#3698063)
I did a Play Index search on position players who earned 20.6-25.2 WAR (the range within 10% of Cepeda's projected WAR, adjusted to 162 games) from ages 33-38 in at least 800 games. There were 12 players who did that (since 1901):

HOMers: Molitor, Rose, Kent (likely), Palmeiro (likely), Reese, Dahlen, Yastrzemski
Non-HOMers: T. Phillips, J. Cruz, D. Walker, S. Rice

I averaged what these players did in their age-23 through age-32 seasons, with seasons out of the major leagues zeroed out. After figuring in minor-league and war credit as necessary, what I found is that the average total WAR for these players was 38.9. Then, I took the average WAR in each age-year and this is what I found:

23: 2.1
24: 2.4
25: 2.8
26: 4.2
27: 4.2
28: 5.0
29: 3.7
30: 5.3
31: 4.3
32: 4.9
TOT: 38.9

However, this would give Cepeda an artificially lowered peak (and an artifically raised valley), as eight of these 12 players had at least one 6 WAR season in that part of their career. To account for this, I took all 120 player-seasons, sorted them from highest WAR to lowest, inserted cutpoints to divide this dataset into tenths and took the average of each tenth to yield seasonal estimates. Then, I allocated them by the value pattern shown above, so that the peak season would be at age 30, the next-best at 28, and so on:

23: 0.0
24: 1.4
25: 2.2
26: 3.8
27: 4.1
28: 6.2
29: 3.2
30: 8.1 (the estimate was 8.3, but I took off the 0.2 to have the total of this set of estimates match the averages above)
31: 4.6
32: 5.3
TOT: 38.9

Add that to Alex's estimates above (adjusted to 162 games) and you get:

23: 0.0
24: 1.4
25: 2.2
26: 3.8
27: 4.1
28: 6.2
29: 3.2
30: 8.1
31: 4.6
32: 5.3
33: 7.1
34: 5.0
35: 5.0
36: 3.6
37: 2.2
38: 0.0
TOT: 61.8

Best: 8.1
3 Best: 21.4
5 Best: 31.7
7 Best: 41.3
5 Cons: 30.1
5+ WAR: 6 seasons
   39. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 28, 2010 at 08:13 PM (#3698320)
My question would focus on whether or not he was a major league caliber SS.

What was his defense like. If you've got a major league SS hitting like that he's a serious candidate. But if he would have been moved off SS, then it's a lot dicier . . . and if he was being moved off SS to play 3B/RF in his leagues, that would seem to make it a reasonable question.
   40. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: December 02, 2010 at 04:06 PM (#3700728)
There are 3 major problems with Cepeda's candidacy, above and beyond the usual "skeletal record" issues which afflict everyone of his time.

(1) He never played in the best leagues available to him. This, to me, is basically an auto-ding. Translations between levels isn't always linear and the lower down the chain you get, the more the imprecision of translations increases. If he wasn't playing in the best leagues for personal reasons; well, personality is part of the package for being a successful professional athlete.

(2) As noted by Dimino above, you have to be rock-solid sure of a SS's defense at a lower level to project him at SS in MLB. Cepeda is reported as 5'11, 190/200ish. There's no way he's playing SS iin the Majors in that era at that size. Maybe its me, but I can't imagine Johnny Pesky or Phil Rizzuto with the nickname "Bull".

(3)Upthread(and 5 years ago)Chalek allows that the MLEs look particularly fishy.
   41. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 03, 2010 at 01:48 PM (#3701567)
Thanks for the MLE's James Newburg.

When I run those through a strict WAR based system, he lands in the bottom quartile of HOM worthy candidates.

If I take 5-10% off the estimates, Cepeda toes the all-time in/out line.

Do we have reason to believe that James's MLE are at least within 10% of Cepeda's career value.

Also, Cepeda's peak may have been smoothed by the MLE translation.

Thanks for the renewed discussion on a potential overlooked candidate - Esteban, Alex, James, Joe, and Zop
   42. Alex King Posted: December 04, 2010 at 09:20 AM (#3702287)
'zop #40:

1. According to BR Bullpen, Cepeda refused to play in the Negro Leagues because he was "very distasteful of the racism in the United States." Also, Cepeda's career started in the late 1920s/early 1930s, when the Negro Leagues were somewhat disorganized and suffering from the Depression. In this context, Cepeda's decision to play in the Caribbean makes more sense; he may not have had an equal shot at playing in the US. I'm sympathetic to Cepeda staying in Puerto Rico if he was primarily motivated by distaste for American racism.

2. In my WAR calculations (which James extrapolates to create a "career" for Cepeda), I have Cepeda as a 1B from 1939 to 1943, and as a -5 SS in 1938. While I agree that Cepeda's position is an issue (Esteban above mentions that Cepeda debuted as a 3B), it shouldn't affect the WAR estimates too much, since they were created by giving Cepeda little defensive value.

3. This is probably the biggest hurdle to Cepeda's candidacy, in my opinion. What is the justification for the .9/.82 translation used by Chris Cobb? Is this conversion rate consistent with the performance of Negro Leaguers in the PRWL?

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