Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

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

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pete Alexander

Eligible in 1936.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:21 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

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

   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:28 PM (#2288081)
Here's the thread that Alexander was discussed:

1936 Ballot Discussion
   2. OCF Posted: January 29, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2288108)
Not much of that thread was about Alexander - he was just too good to need much discussion. It would have been interesting to rig the eligibility timeline to force us to choose between Alexander and Mathewson - I think that vote would have been overwhelmingly for Alexander.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2007 at 04:32 PM (#2288116)
Not much of that thread was about Alexander - he was just too good to need much discussion.

Yeah, that's true. If I had posted this thread back then, it would have been filled with posts about The Winning Team, epilepsy, the Lazzeri strikeout, shell shock, alcoholism and the House of David, but there would have been no need for any serious analytical work.

It would have been interesting to rig the eligibility timeline to force us to choose between Alexander and Mathewson - I think that vote would have been overwhelmingly for Alexander.

That would also have spurred on analysis of both pitchers and their eras, so that would have squeezed out the anecdotes somewhat.
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:28 PM (#2288173)
Yeah, that's true. If I had posted this thread back then, it would have been filled with posts about The Winning Team, epilepsy, the Lazzeri strikeout, shell shock, alcoholism and the House of David, but there would have been no need for any serious analytical work.

Let's see, the way things tend to work around here....

The Winning Team would lead to arguments for and against Reaganomics, the Invasion of Grenada (which might also spur discussion of the Invasion of Panama), and then ultimately into whether Sen. John Tower's death was suspicious or not.

Epilepsy would after twists and turns lead to Jim Eisenreich and Jimmy Piersall, with a possible mention of Pete Harnisch.

The Lazzeri strikeout would lead someone to ask, What are the important Ks in history?

Shell shock would die on the vine, not enough to go on, but it could lead to talk of Hemingway's short stories or to Curtis Pride.

Alcholism has so many possible tangents it's hard to pin down, but surely Paul Waner and Hack Wilson would make an appearance; ultimately this leads someone to ask, Well, how is this really different than Cocaine in the 1970s and 1980s? Or alternatively an exploration of prohibition on baseball as a business, as well as on how ballplayers coped with it.

House of David wouldn't start very quickly, but someone would later post a photo of Alex among all the long-haired players, and then quickly it would be into ballplayer grooming versus the standards of the day, with Dave Duncan, Al Hrabosky, Eck, Jimmy Wynn, Oscar Gamble, and Johnny Unitas (via the Simpsons) all making likely appearances.

In fact, it's equally likely that none of these would occur, and instead we'd be purusing something totally unrelated to the player (see threads for C. Cooper and Guidry). So we might guess that instead we'd be talking about something like, oh i dunno, how players traveled then versus today and what kinds of accomodations they had; how awful the Phillies were until 1950; whether Hippo Vaughn's career would have been salvaged by modern medicine; whether the 1920s featured the least ept or at least the least interesting group of Presidents in the modern era; how the post-ww1 rise in runs scored in baseball was reflective of the national mood and national economic picture, and whether there is any general historical relationship between baseball and the national economy/mood.

And that's how we do it at the HOM. ; )
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:44 PM (#2288353)
Don't think I don't know what you're up to in that second-to-last paragraph, Eric. ;-)
   6. DavidFoss Posted: January 29, 2007 at 08:37 PM (#2288414)
There would probably be a mention of other players who were named after presidents or other famous political figures:

Jimmy Sheckard
Ben Taylor
Billy Herman
Pinky Hargrave
Ted Lilly
Woody Williams
Cal McLish
Ted Wieand
Billy Geer
   7. DavidFoss Posted: January 29, 2007 at 08:46 PM (#2288423)
Someone would probably also bring up how good "Bad Pete" was.

1911-1920:

235-114, 3116.3 IP and 147 ERA+

1921-1930:

138-94, 2073.7 IP and 123 ERA+

That's a sizeable dropoff, but a very good pitcher. It would be HOM-worthy with another 1200-1500 IP or so.

Greg Maddux shows surprisingly similar thru age 33 and after age 33 splits, but I'd probably draw the line between great maddux and old maddux at a different age.
   8. DCW3 Posted: January 29, 2007 at 11:31 PM (#2288556)
There would probably be a mention of other players who were named after presidents or other famous political figures:

...
Woody Williams
...


Then someone would mention how the second Woody Williams got his name from famous political figure Woody Woodpecker.
   9. karlmagnus Posted: January 30, 2007 at 02:01 PM (#2288889)
Dr C, your crack about the 1920s would have drawn a lengthy riposte from me about how Calvin Coolidge was the greatest President of the 20th Century. Coolidge/Beckley, the Ticket you can Trust!
   10. BDC Posted: January 30, 2007 at 02:18 PM (#2288890)
No discussion of Grover Cleveland Lowdermilk?
   11. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: January 30, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2288901)
There would probably be a mention of other players who were named after presidents or other famous political figures:

Jimmy Sheckard
Ben Taylor
Billy Herman
Pinky Hargrave
Ted Lilly
Woody Williams
Cal McLish
Ted Wieand
Billy Geer


Not to mention Cal McLish and Cal McLish. And Jim Baskette, Jim Middleton, Ben Van Dyke, Chester Emerson, Chet Spenser, Ches Crist, Ham Wade, Abe Wolstenholme, Tommy Bridges, Tom York, Tommy Bridges, Tommy Dowd, Pinky Hargrave, Max Venable, both George Bradleys, Jumbo McGinnis, Zip Zabel, George Case, Jim Pearce, Larry Monroe, . . . and of course Sweatbreads Bailey!
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: January 30, 2007 at 04:45 PM (#2288972)
And somebody of course would do this.

Win Shares

3. Pete Alexander 477/44-43-40/180/34.3
7. Christy Mathewson 426/39-39-37/161/32.8

At this point, somebody would ask, How did anybody ever think Matty was better?

Alexander 477/44-43-40-36-34-28-27-27-26-26-24-22-20-19-18-16-14-10
Mathewson 426/39-39-37-34-34-32-31-30-30-29-22-21-19

Alex 3 40s, 2 30s, 8 20s, 5 10s--ahead by just 3 WS after best 13 years, but clearly ahead for 3-5 year peak.
Matty 0 40s, 9 30s, 3 20s, 1 10--ahead 9 to 5 on 30s and 40s, so for prime it's pretty much a dead heat.

OTOH this ignores Pete's 1918 season spent in war work as well as the short 1919 season. I would add in 34 WS for 1918 and boost 1919 from 26 to 28. This pushes Pete ahead on prime as well, unless you want to give Matty some sort of hard-luck health credit.

ERA+

Alexander 135/225-171-68-67-61*-57-53-34-29-29-27-27-26-23-20-19-16-13
Mathewson 136/230-223-169-69-59-57-52-48-37-34-32-24

Here Matty is ahead both for peak and prime, but Alex' additional years of 126-23-20-19-16-13 are not just "hangin' around."

Raw Numbers

Alexander 373-208, 2.56 (135), 5190 IP
Mathewson 373-188, 2.13 (136), 4789 IP

Peak

Alex' edge is those 3 40 WS years and, again, six extra "decline" years that Matty didn't have. Following are the top 3 WS years plus any other years that are top 3 ERA+ years.

Alex 1915 31-20, 1.22 (225), 376 IP, 43 WS
Alex 1916 33-12, 1.55 (171), 389 IP, 44 WS
Alex 1917 30-13, 1.83 (153), 388 IP, 40 WS
Alex 1920 27-14, 1.91 (168), 363 IP, 36 WS

Matty 1903 30-13, 2.26 (148), 366 IP, 37 WS
Matty 1905 31-9, 1.28 (230), 339 IP, 39 WS
Matty 1908 37-11, 1.43 (169), 391 IP, 39 WS
Matty 1909 25-6, 1.14 (223), 275 IP, 34 WS
Matty 1911 26-13, 1.99 (169), 307 IP, 32 WS

Was Alex really better for their 3-4-5 year peaks? The assumption has to be that it was harder to throw all those innings in the '10s than in the '00s because, no, the raw numbers aren't any better. Or WS just bumped up against diminishing returns for Matty, whose Giants were 200 games over .500 those 5 years, an average of about 97-57. Alex' Phillies and Cubs were +87 or about 88-66 for his 4 big years, though the Phillies were +91 for the 3 years or about 92-62.

All in all, I would take Alex but James ratings--Alex 3rd all-time and Matty 7th--would seem to exaggerate the difference a bit. The fact that he's got Spahn and Seaver in between there, of course, says nothing about Matty or Alex, it says that James' timeline is strong. Matty seems to me to go ahead of those 2 and then, voila, you've only got Cy Young between there. James says "I focused on big seasons and consistent performance over a five-year period." Being consistently excellent for 13 years, as Matty was, didn't count for as much, I guess.
   13. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: January 30, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2288990)
I think James said something about there being too many players from more or less the same era at the top of the pitchers chart - Young, Mathewson, Johnson and Alexander, so he felt the need to knock Matty down a little bit. That may have been in his discussion of the top 100 overall, and I don't have my NHBA at work, so I might not be accurate.
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 30, 2007 at 06:24 PM (#2289093)
Dr C, your crack about the 1920s would have drawn a lengthy riposte from me about how Calvin Coolidge was the greatest President of the 20th Century. Coolidge/Beckley, the Ticket you can Trust!

I knew it was coming!!!

Truman and Trouppe: For the Oval and the Coop(y?)
   15. OCF Posted: January 30, 2007 at 06:56 PM (#2289125)
In my RA+ equivalent system: the best 10 years of each player's career (sorted by equivalent FWP), followed by what the did in the rest of the career:

Matty     Alex
 31
13    3111
 28
10    3013
 28
13    2812
 23
-  8    2915
 26
15    2714
 23
11    19-  7
 23
11    2212
 23
11    20-  9
 23
12    2113
 22
13    2317
10
-year totals
249
-118   249-123
Rest of career
:
 
8382   12084
Total
:
332-199   369-208 


So I get Alexander with the single best year and with a small advantage in top-5 years (not consecutive), Mathewson with an advantage in years 6-10, giving him a slight advantage in top-10 years - then after 10 years, (actually, after 11 years) it's all Alexander, giving Alexander a sizable career advantage.

All in all, this looks quite similar to the picture sunnyday2 was painting in #12. And that equivalent 120-84 I get for Alexander after subtracting out his best 10 years? It's worse than the whole career of Dizzy Dean (136-82) but better than the whole career of Denny McLain (112-98). It's pretty close to what this system gives for Goose Gossage (not that the system should be applied to relievers) and it's pretty close to the major league career of Sal Maglie (117-75). And yes, if I took away the best 10 years from Cy Young or Walter Johnson and took the leftovers, they'd be even more impressive.
   16. Paul Wendt Posted: January 30, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2289145)
Dr C, your crack about the 1920s would have drawn a lengthy riposte from me about how Calvin Coolidge was the greatest President of the 20th Century. Coolidge/Beckley, the Ticket you can Trust!

Calvin Coolidge rode on his wife's coattails*. <small>*Someone with a classy wife, like Dr C, must know the correct term.</small>

They went to Senators games and people thought he was a fan of the national game. (We've finally got a President who can keep score!?) But she was the baseball fan, he was the consort.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 30, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2289189)
<small>*Someone with a classy wife, like Dr C, must know the correct term.</small>

Turns out Mrs. Dr. Chaleeko isn't much for the fussy fusses of formal wear, however, she informs me, nonetheless, of two possible ways to fill in this analogy:

coattails : menswear :: ______ : womenswear

1) train (which is the immediately obvious one)
2) petticoat (which she said would suggest an analogous degree of archaism since coattails are seldom worn anymore---yet, ironically, still often ridden)

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
cardsfanboy
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.3430 seconds
49 querie(s) executed