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Monday, December 06, 2004

Pie Traynor

Could he have survived during his era (or ours) if his favorite food had been Twinkies instead?

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 06, 2004 at 05:06 PM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DavidFoss Posted: December 06, 2004 at 06:20 PM (#1000507)
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   2. ronw Posted: December 06, 2004 at 07:14 PM (#1000699)
A brief comparison of HOMer Heinie Groh and Pie Traynor, using WS:

Seasons over 30+ WS:

Groh 2 (really 3 with 1918 adjustment)
Traynor 0

Seasons over 20+ WS:

Groh - 6
Traynor - 10

Seasons leading majors in positional WS:

Groh - 6
Traynor - 6

Seasons leading league in positional WS:

Groh - 6
Traynor - 6

3B WS Top 3 1915-1933:

1915: GROH 25 (Smith 24, Vitt 23)
1916: Hornsby 28 (Gardner 27, GROH 24, Smith 24)
1917: GROH 37 (Zimmerman 26, Smith 22)
1918: GROH 28 (Baker 23, Smith 21)
1919: GROH 30 (Hornsby 26, Baker 20, Gardner 20, Weaver 20)
1920: GROH 28 (Gardner 23, Weaver 22)
1921: Frisch 31 (Johnston 24, Boeckel 23, Gardner 23)
1922: High 20 (Pinelli 18 Dykes 17, Stock 17)
1923: TRAYNOR 28 (Friberg 23, Kamm 20)
1924: GROH 19 (Friberg 18, Dugan 17, TRAYNOR 17)
1925: TRAYNOR 26 (Frisch 20, Kamm 19)
1926: Bell 25 (Kamm 22, TRAYNOR 22)
1927: TRAYNOR 26 (Dressen 23, Lindstrom 20)
1928: Lindstrom 32 (Kamm 24, Foxx 22, TRAYNOR 22)
1929: TRAYNOR 21 (Sewell 21, Whitney 21)
1930: English 28, Lindstrom 28 (TRAYNOR 22)
1931: TRAYNOR 20, Adams 20 (Bluege 17, Kress 17)
1932: TRAYNOR 21, Kamm 21 (Stripp 19)
1933: Martin 29 (Higgins 23, TRAYNOR 20)

Top 3 finishes:

Groh - 7
Traynor - 11

Pie Traynor was overrated by history, but now I suspect he will be underrated because of his low peak. He didn't have Groh's 1917-1919 peak, but was better longer.

Just looking at WS numbers however, it seems the quality of ML 3B play during the twenties was worse than during the teens (making Beckwith and maybe Judy Johnson look better). He seems very similar to Joe Sewell, in that he dominated a relatively weak position.

Obviously Traynor won't be a first ballot electee, and probably won't win out in 1942, so that means we have a while to consider him. Given the lack of quality 3B, I think he may vault to the top of available 3B candidates. He will probably debut at the bottom of my 1941 ballot.
   3. andrew siegel Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:09 PM (#1000895)
I really don't see Traynor as a strong candidate. His seasons over 20 WS are almost all 20, 21, 22. He was a good but not great defensive player and a decent offensive player who was wildly overrated for a half-century b/c/ the one thing he did really well was hit for average. I have him well below McGraw, Williamson, and Leach, roughly even with Billy Nash. Unless I see something new, he will never make my ballot.
   4. Michael Bass Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:18 PM (#1000923)
Never going to approach my ballot. Mediocre hitter, fielding was not that special. Neither his career nor his peak look electable to me.
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:24 PM (#1000935)
Mediocre hitter

His offense, while not spectacular, was undeniably fine for a third baseman of his time.

My system rates him extremely high, but I suspect it's the same problem that I had with Joe Sewell on my last ballot. I need to look at the Negro League third basemen of his time to get a better handle on where Pie belongs.
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:25 PM (#1000940)
My gut tells me we are going to underrate Pie very seriously. Not that he is going to make my PHoM until sometime in the mid to late 1950s, but he will make it. But his profile:

"Highly regarded in his own time. Long thought to be the best of all-time at his position. Later debunked by Bill James."

Also describes George Sisler.

Sisler is high on my ballot, Pie will be somewhere in the middle to lower (#8-12?).
   7. andrew siegel Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:32 PM (#1000960)
In the category of folks debunked by Bill James, I'll take Bill Terry and George Sisler over Pie Traynor any day.
   8. Jim Sp Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:35 PM (#1000967)
Quick comparision, Traynor vs. Lave Cross:

Cross has 17% more plate appearances.

Win Shares has Cross as an A+ fielder, the alltime leader in defensive Win Shares /1000 innings at 3B. Cross also had 324 games at catcher and 65 at SS.

Traynor is a B grade 3B in Win Shares, played 50 games at SS.

Traynor is a better hitter, 107 OPS+ to 100. Lave's best hitting years all come in somewhat suspect leagues/environements, Pie's career was in the NL which perhaps deserves some discount.

Their top years are:

Cross:

26 WS, 1902 Phi AL
22 WS, 1894 Phi NL
21 WS, 1904 Phi AL

Traynor:

28 WS, 1923 Pit NL
26 WS, 1925 Pit NL
26 WS, 1927 Pit NL

Career, Traynor has 274 WS, Cross has 278 WS.

Personally I'll have Cross ahead of Traynor, I don't see Traynor's offensive advantage outweighing Cross's advantage in career length and defense. Peak-oriented voters will prefer Traynor, but the two are close enough that I doubt Traynor will get enough support to make the HoM.
   9. sunnyday2 Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:52 PM (#1001005)
andrew, I agree on both counts. Sisler will be about #5, Traynor about #10 and if Terry were eligible yet he would be in between.

As for Lave Cross, yes, I am more of a peak/prime voter and will have Traynor 50 slots ahead of Cross.

If you are a career voter, however, how can you look at Cross' 278-274 raw WS edge and then give him an edge for career length over and above those 4 little WS? The career length is already factored in and he really isn't ahead at all, with a margin of error. Then if you timeline at all, it seems to me Traynor comes out ahead.

This would be an interesting case for PA. I don't think we have either of them published.
   10. andrew siegel Posted: December 06, 2004 at 08:52 PM (#1001007)
If you like Traynor, take a look at Billy Nash--about 7 runs per year ahead with the glove, dead even with the bat, peak offensive seasons almost identical to Traynor's peak offensive seasons but better matched with his peak defensive seasons, (11 full seasons plus equivalent of another 1.5 seasons in scatterred games) vs. 13 full seasons plus equivalent of another season in scatterred games), both top 3B in the game on a regular basis.

Though he's a personal favorite, I've had Nash down in the 40's. I think I'm going to promote him into the 30's and drop Traynor in one notch behind him.
   11. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 06, 2004 at 09:15 PM (#1001056)
Traynor comes out much worse than I expected.

.600 Pennants Added (Groh .695), which places him just above Billy Nash (.599) and Lave Cross (before any catching bonus) and below Williamson and McGraw. I expected him to be more up in the Groh area.

Traynor has 287 WS when you adjust to a full schedule, 177 WSaR. Groh, only had 295 WS, but was 196 above replacement, and obviously had a much higher peak, hence the big edge in Pennants Added.

WARP3 likes Pie a lot more (78.3). This puts him up there with Groh, Collins, Baker, Leach and Cross, well ahead of the rest.

Makes me think WS may be underrating him a little, but WARP has a low replacement level. Pie's base WS put him in their class too - but when you adjust for replacement level and peak, he falls out - so I imagine he'd do the same if adjusted WARP.

Pretty funny - not only was he not the greatest 3B in MLB history - he wasn't even the greatest 3B in Pirates history at that time (see Leach, Tommy).
   12. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 06, 2004 at 09:20 PM (#1001069)
"If you are a career voter, however, how can you look at Cross' 278-274 raw WS edge and then give him an edge for career length over and above those 4 little WS?"

Because when you adjust for season length the edge is 324-287, which is pretty significant all other things equal. Throw in a bonus for Cross' catching, and I've got Cross ahead of Traynor, even after factoring in their peaks (or lack therof).
   13. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 06, 2004 at 09:24 PM (#1001074)
Now if you compare to replacement level, Cross/Traynor are basically even, 179-177 Cross. Traynor had a slightly higher peak, but it's offset by Cross's catching and playing a good chunk of his career in a one-league environment IMO.
   14. OCF Posted: December 06, 2004 at 09:54 PM (#1001153)
From my RA+ calculations:

Waddell 200-129 record
Vance 201-129 record

The number of decisions here is based on IP; so they have the same IP. There are differences between their times in how many innings a pitcher was expected to pitch.

I can turn this RA+ record into single-season equivalent FWP, with these results sorted from best to worst:

Waddell   34  30  29  26  16  15  14  10   7   6   1  -1
Vance     33  32  28  22  18  14  14  10  10   6   4   4   1  0  0  0


Not much difference, is there? But on top of that, Waddell has some negative baggage - the sense that he wasn't someone you wanted to rely on. Vance has no such baggage. With that, with the differences in the IP of leading pitchers of their times, a pinch of timeline, and a couple of other things, I have no problem putting Vance ahead of Waddell - and Waddell was 12th on my 1940 ballot.
   15. OCF Posted: December 06, 2004 at 09:55 PM (#1001156)
Oops - wrong thread. Sorry. I'll go post that where it belongs. If someone were to delete #14, I wouldn't object.
   16. OCF Posted: December 06, 2004 at 10:10 PM (#1001190)
For this thread: playing with environment-adjusted RC numbers, I see Traynor's offense as approximately dead even with Jimmy Collins, and distinctly behind Leach and Groh. We elected Collins, but partly for his defensive reputation, which doesn't apply to Traynor.
   17. Guapo Posted: December 06, 2004 at 10:24 PM (#1001223)
Are there any other white 3B candidates on the horizon?
   18. Guapo Posted: December 06, 2004 at 10:31 PM (#1001234)
To answer my own question, no. Based on DanG's list of eligibles through 1955, the only ones I see who might pull votes are Harlond Clift and Stan Hack (Fred Lindstrom anyone?)
   19. karlmagnus Posted: December 06, 2004 at 11:07 PM (#1001317)
Keltner, the man himslef, must be due about '55. But I agree, Pye doesn't make it.
   20. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: December 07, 2004 at 12:24 AM (#1001493)
I hvae had a lok at him but I suspect I will like Stan Hack a lot. I feel, much like Bill James that he is one of the top 10-12 3B of all-time, much higher than Traynor and maybe even higher than Groh.
   21. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: December 07, 2004 at 12:25 AM (#1001502)
Okay I will repost that nonesense..

I have not had a look at him but I suspect I will like Stan Hack a lot. I feel, much like Bill James that he is one of the top 10-12 3B of all-time, much higher than Traynor and maybe even higher than Groh.

Sorry about that
   22. Brent Posted: December 07, 2004 at 05:09 AM (#1002355)
I've been thinking about the possibility that WS may undervalue Pie Traynor's defense.

a) Most of the stuff I've read suggests that Traynor had a reputation as an excellent defensive third baseman. Since fielding WS are usually pretty consistent with defensive reputation, I was a bit surprised when I got the Win Shares book to see Traynor rated as a B on defense.

b) With respect to his fielding numbers, the statistic that particularly stood out for Traynor was PO. WS gives no credit for 3B PO.

c) I've always been skeptical of the arguments Bill James gave for excluding 3B PO. It seems to me that in principle there must be fielding skills that are only recorded in the PO statistics - for example, the abilities to snatch a line drive or to go back on a short outfield fly. James seems to say that in practice there are external factors that dominate the PO data, making it impossible to see the skill factors in the data. It seems to me that the response should be to either adjust for the external factors (as James did for catchers and first basemen), or, if that isn't possible, to downweight the importance of PO. But giving them a weight of zero doesn't seem reasonable to me.

I'm not talking about a lot here - maybe 1 WS per season. But, while I haven't finished evaluating Traynor yet, it's possible that 1 WS per season could be the difference between being on and off my ballot.

I don't know enough about how BP does its fielding evaluations to know how they handle 3B PO.

What do you think?
   23. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 07, 2004 at 08:50 AM (#1002885)
Brent - I thought James' comments on 3B putouts were pretty compelling. Either way, I can't see it making a significant difference. I mean Pie is 15% behind Groh on Pennants Added for example - obviously his marginal putouts (the ones he made that others wouldn't have) aren't going to be enough to close that kind of gap.

Collins had more power than Traynor, and played the position when defense there was more important. He was also better, relative to his time defensively than Traynor was. Their careers, when you adjust for the schedule, were of similar length (slight edge to Traynor there).

I can't see any possible way to rank Traynor even with Collins.
   24. yest Posted: February 04, 2005 at 01:41 AM (#1123522)
I don't understand the lack of support for Traynor even if give him a very significant deduction for his era he is still clearly one of the top 10 third baseman ever.

this is a list of Traynor's top 10 most similar players
Edd Roush (887) *
Bobby Veach (856)
Jim O'Rourke (847) *
Joe Kelley (845) *
Heinie Manush (844) *
Jimmy Collins (843) *
Sherry Magee (839)
Kiki Cuyler (831) *
Stan Hack (822)
Joe Sewell (820) *
notice how the top 5 are outfielders and 7 out of the top 10 are all outfielders

He was a good but not great defensive player
fielding was not that special.


He led the NL in putouts record 7 times assists 3 times, and double plays 4 straight times.
He leads the NL in career putouts

if that's not great what is?
   25. Paul Wendt Posted: February 04, 2005 at 02:14 AM (#1123580)
This note doesn't dismiss Traynor. He doesn't need to be remotely similar to O'Rourke, Magee or Kelley-in-his-prime as a batter, in order to be a good HOM candidate.

Manush and Cuyler played in the best of times for batters, as did Traynor, as did Kelley in his prime. O'Rourke and Magee played in very bad times for batters. Veach and Roush, mixed.

<u>Career lgOPS*, lgSLG*</u> (league average OnBase and Slugging averages calculated by Sean Forman, BB-Ref):
Manush_: .359 .414
Cuyler_: .350 .414
Traynor: .353 .416
Roush__: .336 .382
Veach__: .345 .370
Magee__: .325 .342
Kelley_: .352 .379
O'Rourke: .309 .353

listed in approx chron order
   26. Paul Wendt Posted: February 04, 2005 at 02:24 AM (#1123607)
The first column is lgOBP* (not lgOPS*)

That's right,
Jim O'Rourke, career-league OnBase Average .309

Like Anson and Hines, O'Rourke played under 9 balls per walk, 8, 7, 6, 5, and at last 4 balls per walk in his last few seasons. (or did they skip 8?)
   27. Rick A. Posted: February 04, 2005 at 04:07 AM (#1123782)
Traynor is one of those candidates where I always think I'm underrating him. I have him ranked below Sewell, around the mid-30's on my ballot, and yet I keep thinking I'm missing something about him. Maybe it's because of all those years where he was considered the best thirdbaseman of all-time. I know that evaluation wasn't right, and yet every election since he came on the ballot, I take another long, hard look at him to see if I'm missing something about him.
   28. Chris Cobb Posted: February 04, 2005 at 04:35 AM (#1123809)
The pertinent question, of course, is how Traynor rates against the other eligible players. Comparing him only to eligible 2B/3B/SS players from the 20th century, he ranks behind

Frisch
Beckwith
Leach
Doyle
Moore
Sewell
Lundy
Bancroft

He's fairly close to Sewell, Lundy, and Bancroft, but that's not good enough to get him near the ballot.

One small note in/on Pie's defense: Win shares' letter grades make him look less good than he probably was, because of the way 3rd basemen from 1920-1945 are divided into groups and judged on different scales (an effect of the shift in the defensive spectrum between 2nd and 3rd).

Traynor played 3rd 1921-1937. He's listed with the early third basemen, earned 4.65 defensive ws/1000 innings, and is graded as a B.

Sewell played 3rd 1928-1933. He's listed with the Depression-Era third basemen, earned 4.61 defensive ws/1000 innings, and is graded as a B+. (Of course, he was an A- shortstop.)

Traynor earns win shares for half his career at the lower rate, but he is graded on the rates that really fit the deadbal era.

This is a minor misrepresentation, but worth noting, I suppose.
   29. Cblau Posted: February 05, 2005 at 04:22 AM (#1125679)
Also worth noting is that, according to Bill James and Clay Davenport, putouts by third basemen have little or nothing to do with fielding skill. They are mainly dependent on the amount of foul territory, per Davenport (2002 Baseball Prospectus.)
   30. Rick A. Posted: February 05, 2005 at 03:15 PM (#1126520)
Chris,

I agree that he needs to be compared to eligible players and that he ranks behind those players. I can't see moving him up past any of them (except maybe Bancroft). I guess it's just the power of years and years of people writing, saying he was the best 3rd baseman pre-Matthews and sometimes even pre-Schmidt.

The problem I see with Ttaynor is that 3rd base is an under-represented position in the HOF, as well as Traynor being the best thirdbaseman of his time 6 times. He wasn't a bad player. Much better than Frisch's mob that he(Frisch) put into the HOF. However he has a weak peak and I just can't see ranking him over the players mentioned above.

I'm not one to overly worry about positional balance in the HOM. I figure that by the time we're caught up with the present, if there is a positional imbalance, it's no big deal. History hasn't stopped yet. Who's to say that there won't be a large amount of players coming soon who are shoo-ins who play the position in question.

That being said, I do think there is a problem if there is an extreme positional imbalance developing. 3rd base isn't that bad yet, but given that there is a historical lack of 3rd baseman in the HOF, and that no 3rd base candidate is getting close to the top of the ballot, I'm wondering if we may end up with the same lack of 3rd basemen in the HOM.

I agree that Traynor isn't the 3rd baseman we should be looking at and that we should look for the best candidate for election, regardless of postion. Maybe it's just a down phase for thirdbaseman. Maybe I'm worrying for nothing. Maybe I'm looking at the HOF and projecting there faults onto the HOM. Maybe there should be a stronger push made for Leach, Beckwith, and Lundy. I don't know. I'm just writing my thoughts on the subject. Any opinion would be welcome.
   31. Chris Cobb Posted: February 05, 2005 at 03:57 PM (#1126541)
Here's my take on the bigger picture.

First, we will do better than the HoF in electing third basemen: we already have Ezra Sutton and Deacon White from the early days, John Beckwith, Jud Wilson, and Stan Hack stand a pretty good chance of election, Ron Santo will sail in, and probably Darrell Evans. I wouldn't be surprised to see Graig Nettles and Ken Boyer elected also. So we'll pick up some that the HoF has missed to leave out 4 HoFers that I think we won't elect: Traynor, Lindstrom, Judy Johnson, George Kell.

Second, I think that there is a legitimate reason for a somewhat smaller group of third basemen in the HoM: pretty much anyone who is good enough to play shortstop is also good enough to play third base, so the best athletes tend to end up at shortstop. I expect we'll have more shortstops, ultimately, than any other infield position, and that this will balance the shortage at third base.

I'm not one who believes in the need for equal representation, but even for those who see that as important (as in KJOK's point that you need nine players on the field), in this particular case it looks less important. For HoM pickup games, they can just shift a shortstop to third base. Many of them played a third for part of their careers, anyway (see George Davis, Bobby Wallace, Honus Wagner, Joe Sewell [if elected]).
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 05, 2005 at 04:09 PM (#1126548)
we already have Ezra Sutton and Deacon White from the early days,

White would never be in the HOM based on his third base numbers (good, but never great).
   33. Brent Posted: February 05, 2005 at 05:17 PM (#1126583)
Also worth noting is that, according to Bill James and Clay Davenport, putouts by third basemen have little or nothing to do with fielding skill. They are mainly dependent on the amount of foul territory, per Davenport (2002 Baseball Prospectus.)

I remain unconvinced of the irrelevance of third baseman putouts. It seems to me just watching games that you often see some third basemen catching fly balls that another third baseman would never reach. There _must_ be some element of skill involved. Your reference to Davenport probably is the key - there are large park effects depending on the amount of foul territory that need to be controlled for. And I assume no one has ever done the research to make the park adjustments. Since the old box scores carried fielding statistics, in principle it could be done.
   34. Paul Wendt Posted: February 06, 2005 at 12:05 AM (#1127102)
Sure. For those seasons with game-level PO-A-E data, park factors can be calculated for putouts at 3B, C, 1B. Look for consistency across seasons. If found, it probably indicates a real park factor (foul territory, visual background, etc).

Architectural critic John Pastier doubts the direct estimates of foul territory from photographs.
   35. OCF Posted: February 06, 2005 at 12:33 AM (#1127152)
Popups aren't the whole story. There are also runners out at third: caught stealing, unsuccessful 1st to 3rd against the outfield, force plays, etc. Most of them are nonroutine, with many of them being tag plays, so they do involve a real skill by the third baseman, but I'd guess that the variation in the numbers of these plays is considerable and mostly involves factors other than the third baseman - including a healthy dose of how the opposition chooses to run the bases.

Of course, this matters at second as well - but it's a little different, because there are so many more relatively routine outs at second.
   36. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2005 at 03:32 AM (#1127401)
This question about amount of foul territory in relation to putouts reminds me that I've always been curious whether it would be possible for some ubersmart researcher to do some kind of study that could reveal how every square foot of foul territory (or fair territory!) above or below the average park effects park factors. That way, when we hear things like "Dodgers move dugouts 20' closer to the field," we could have some kind of estimate of the effect of this move rather than saying, "gee, averages should go up in Chavez Ravine this year...".
   37. yest Posted: February 06, 2005 at 04:44 AM (#1127517)
</em>Also worth noting is that, according to Bill James and Clay Davenport, putouts by third basemen have little or nothing to do with fielding skill. They are mainly dependent on the amount of foul territory, per Davenport (2002 Baseball Prospectus.)</em>

First of all is there any physical evidence that Forbes Field had more foul territory or anything else that might effect snagging fouls then any other field thus making Traynor‘s putout number‘s improve?

Why didn’t other pirates third baseman who played at Forbes Field lead the NL in putout so many times?
(Forbes Field’s first game was on June 30, 1909 and it’s last game was on June 28, 1970 in that time only these players besides Traynor led the NL in putouts
1. Bill Brubaker in 1936
2. Bob Elliott in 1942
3. Frankie Gustine in 1947
4. Don Hoak in 1959
( in 1909 Bobby Byrne had 46 putouts on the pirates and 105 on the Cardnials so he shouldn’t count.)
That means that Forbes Field was around for 60 complete seasons subtracting Traynor’s 13 seasons and we're left with 47 seasons of which 4 a Pirate (a .085 percent) led the NL in putouts which is 1 time less then what would be expected based on a league with 8 teams for 39 years assuming field conditions and talent had nothing to do with putouts. compare that to Traynor who led the NL (a .535 percent) 7 times in 13 years.)

Is there any home road splits on putouts for Traynor that would show that he got more putouts at home?

Did the Pirate’s visiting team's third basemen also have a similar number of putouts?

What a bought the fact that Traynor led the NL in assists 3 times, and double plays 4 straight times wouldn‘t that still mean he was a very good fielding third baseman?

Even if putouts were made totally on catching balls in foul territory doesn't the third baseman still deserve some credit for running (it might have been out of another third baseman‘s range) to the ball and not making an error (another third baseman might have dropped it)?

What a bought the many other type of plays that third baseman make that result in putouts like forcing a player in to a run down, or catching line drives, or tagging a player trying to steal, or tagging a player sliding in to third ext. ?
   38. Kelly in SD Posted: February 06, 2005 at 11:03 AM (#1127900)
I don't know if this helps to explain the high number of putouts, but it seems like Forbes Field had a big foul ground from the backstop up to first and third. According to ballparks.com, the distance from the backstop to home was 110 feet in 1909 and 84 feet in 1938. There are also some pictures (undated) which definitely show a huge amount of foul ground.

It doesn't seem like the Pirates allowed a high number of baserunners per game in Traynor's career. The Pirates looked to be better than average up to 1929, second from the worst in 1930, average from 1931-1934, above average from 35 until the end of his career. This is inexact. I looked at baseballreference and added h/9 and bb/9 for his career. I only looked at one year closely, 1930. Only one 3rd baseman had better fielding totals: Pinky Whitney of the Phillies who allowed the most baserunners.

Maybe the Pirate used a lot of left handed pitching which would result in more right handed batters normally. Except that 1925-WWII is generally considered the nadir of platooning. Looking at the numbers: (Just including top 5 or 6 starters each year)
Pitt had 2 lefty starters in 1923 (2nd and 5th in IP, 436 total), 1924 (1st and 5th, 463), 1926 (4th, 5th, 313), 1929 (4th and 6th, 307), 1934 (2nd and 3rd, 468), 1935 (1st and 5th, 4040
1 lefty starter in 1925 (207), 1928 (160), 1930 (275), 1931 (276), 1932 (274), 1933 (291).
0 lefty starters in 1927, 1936.

I don't know how that compares with the other teams in the NL at the time. Someone with a good electronic database who knows how to search it could help us potentially.
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: February 06, 2005 at 07:07 PM (#1128198)
yest #37
Is there any home road splits on putouts for Traynor that would show that he got more putouts at home?

Did the Pirate’s visiting team's third basemen also have a similar number of putouts?


This is a specific example of the data we need, and don't have earlier than seasons published by Retrosheet (1960s), in order to measure park effects on fielding.

Some player-specific game-level research has been done but that usually focuses on the one of the all-time greats: Ted Williams batting and Joe DiMaggio in 1941; Bill Mazeroski fielding; Matty, Pete, the Big Train and Wes Ferrell ;-) on the mound. I won't be surprised to learn that someone has done Marty Marion fielding short, but Pie Traynor fielding third?

cblau #29
according to Bill James and Clay Davenport, putouts by third basemen have little or nothing to do with fielding skill. They are mainly dependent on the amount of foul territory, per Davenport (2002 Baseball Prospectus.)

I know this from Bill James on Jerry Denny and Denny Lyons, where I dismissed it for my idio purposes as a conclusion based on study of modern baseball that doesn't pertain during the early days of fielding gloves. I'm sure it doesn't pertain to the gloveless days of Bob Ferguson. Note, this is 4 and 6 decades before Traynor.

OCF #35
<i>Popups aren't the whole story. There are also runners out at third: caught stealing, unsuccessful 1st to 3rd against the outfield, force plays, etc.<i>

Not to mention line drives, blooped bunts, and those popups which are fair or barely foul.

All those other plays should be almost equally frequent in different ballparks, so the standard method of calculating a park effect controls for them. Indeed, it will be reasonable to use park "factors" (ratios), when we have the necessary data, only because those other plays are frequent relative to far-foul pops. (If the seats in Fenway Park take 0.5 fouls per game relative to those in Oakland, that can be expressed reasonably well as a ratio only because the difference is small relative to all putouts.)

OCF is right to focus on the number of non-routine plays and the success rate for executing them. The Davenport-James finding cannot be based only on the differences in foul territory, which generate differences in flyouts to 3B. It must also be that the great majority of non-routine plays at 3B are ground balls, which almost always generate assists rather than putouts.

Offhand, I suppose Pie Traynor played late enough that the Davenport-James finding is good, presuming that it is very good in the late 20th century.
   40. DavidFoss Posted: February 06, 2005 at 07:22 PM (#1128234)
Someone asked about Forbes Field:

Forbes Field

It did have a deep backstop of 110 feet while Traynor was playing there. Two pictures down at the bottom show the difference in foul territory between the 20s and the 60s.
   41. yest Posted: February 08, 2005 at 02:56 AM (#1131286)
this is my ranking of how much room there was for a thirdbaseman to catch foul balls of the stadiums in use in the NL for much of the 20th century based on the pictures in links. ranked from most room to the least.

1. Polo Grounds
2. shibe park
3.crosley field
4. braves stadium
5. bakerbowl
6. wrigley field
7. forbes field
8. ebbits field
9. sportsmans park
   42. Howie Menckel Posted: February 09, 2005 at 04:13 PM (#1134209)
HOM 3Bs, by year, through 1944 election. Must have played half a team's games and mainly this position to be listed:
1866 - Pike 3B-O2
1867-69
1870 - Sutton
1871-72 - Sutton, Anson
1873 - Sutton
1874 - Sutton 3B-SS
1875 - Sutton
1876 - Sutton, Anson
1877 - Anson 3B-C
1878 - Sutton, McVey
1879 - Kelly 3B-OC, Richardson
1880 - Richardson, Connor
1881 - Sutton, O'Rourke
1882 - Sutton, White, Ewing 3B-C
1883 - Sutton, White
1884-85 - Sutton, White
1886 - White
1887 - White, Ewing
1888 - White
1889
1890 - White 3B-1B
1891 - Dahlen 3B-OF
1892 - Davis 3B-OF
1893-94 - Davis
1895 - Davis, J Collins 3B
1896 - Davis 3B-SS, J Collins
1897-98 - J Collins, Wallace
1899 - J Collins, Wagner 3B-OF
1900-05 - J Collins
1906
1907-08 - J Collins
1909-14 - Baker
1915 - Groh
1916 - Baker, Groh, Hornsby 3B-SS
1917-18 - Baker, Groh
1919 - Baker, Groh, Hornsby 3B-S2
1920 - Groh Frisch
1921 - Baker, Groh, Frisch 3B-2B
1922-24 - Groh
1925 - Frisch 32S

Browning would be 1884 (!)
Leach would be 1899, 1901-04, 1906, 1908
Schang would be 1915
Traynor would be 1922-34
Beckwith would be 1923, 1926-27, 1929-31, 1933-34 (roughly)
Sewell would be 1929-32
   43. DavidFoss Posted: February 09, 2005 at 04:46 PM (#1134261)
Hmmm... McGraw doesn't even make the "would-be" list. He would be 94-95, 97-01. (SS-93). I'm one of only four voters left voting for him. Its almost time to stick a fork in his candidacy.
   44. TomH Posted: February 09, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1134319)
Nooooooo! Mugsy makes my ballot 4ever! RCAP Roolz!
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: February 09, 2005 at 07:29 PM (#1134589)
Yeah, I had 100 votes as the cutoff, but the real gap was from about 90 to 60, so that's where I made it this time.
   46. yest Posted: February 25, 2005 at 03:03 AM (#1164472)
The pertinent question, of course, is how Traynor rates against the other eligible players. Comparing him only to eligible 2B/3B/SS players from the 20th century, he ranks behind

Frisch
Beckwith
Leach
Doyle
Moore
Sewell
Lundy
Bancroft


I don't understand how anyone can rank Leach over Traynor.

This is how many times they both finished in the top 10 in different statistics

batting average
Leach once
Traynor 6 times

OBP
Leach once
Traynor never

Slugging %
Leach 3 times
Traynor once

OPS
Leach 3 times
Traynor never

Runs
Leach 8 times
Traynor 3 times

Hits
Leach 4 times
Traynor 7 times

Total Bases
Leach 6 times
Traynor 5 times

Doubles
Leach twice
Traynor 4 times

Triples
Leach 6 times
Traynor 10 times

HRs
Leach 6 times
Traynor once

RBIs
Leach twice
Traynor 9 times

Walks
Leach 6 times
Traynor never

Steals
Leach once
Traynor 4 times

OPS+
Leach 3 times
Traynor never

Extra-Base Hits
Leach 4 times
Traynor twice

Times on Base
Leach 3 times
Traynor 4 times

When you throw in the fact that Traynor was a much better fielder and playing in a better league there’s I don’t see anyway to say that Leach is better.

BTW did any one see the ballpark links that seem to show that Forbes Field had less foul territory near third base then the other ballparks.
   47. Brent Posted: February 25, 2005 at 04:02 AM (#1164568)
I've argued that Traynor's fielding is under valued by win shares (see post # 20), but was he better than Leach? I'm afraid I have to disagree. Leach was a great third baseman -- and a great center fielder as well.
   48. Brent Posted: February 25, 2005 at 04:03 AM (#1164570)
That should have been post # 22.
   49. Cblau Posted: February 25, 2005 at 07:30 PM (#1165936)
yest wondered: I don't understand how anyone can rank Leach over Traynor and then explained why they should: This is how many times they both finished in the top 10 in different statistics:

OPS
Leach 3 times
Traynor never


So Leach was among the best hitters in his league 3 times, and Traynor never was. Add in the fact that Leach got the best possible fielding rating in Win Shares not just at third but also in CF, why would anyone rate Traynor ahead of him?
   50. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 12:03 AM (#1166631)
So Leach was among the best hitters in his league 3 times, and Traynor never was.

Yes, but Traynor was much more consistent than Leach was.

Leach was, at best, the equal of Traynor as a hitter. When you take into account their respective competition, I'd go with Pie.
   51. Cblau Posted: February 26, 2005 at 03:28 AM (#1166845)
But some people put a premium on peak performance, so I can understand why some people would prefer Tommy.
   52. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 04:04 AM (#1166888)
But some people put a premium on peak performance, so I can understand why some people would prefer Tommy.

That's true, Cliff.
   53. Brent Posted: February 26, 2005 at 05:18 PM (#1167208)
Win shares, highest to lowest (adj. to 154 games, 13 best seasons)

Leach
31,30,29,27,26,25,24,23,19,19,17,16,14
Traynor
28,26,26,22,22,22,21,21,20,20,17,13,11

Top 5:
Leach 143
Traynor 124

Top 10:
Leach 253
Traynor 228

Top 13:
Leach 300
Traynor 269

It would take a pretty hefty discount for quality of competition, or an awfully large penalty for Leach's off season in 1911, to place Traynor ahead of Leach.
   54. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 06:08 PM (#1167244)
It would take a pretty hefty discount for quality of competition, or an awfully large penalty for Leach's off season in 1911, to place Traynor ahead of Leach.

If Leach had been a third basman for his whole career, he would have been in the HoM a long time ago.

But he was a centerfielder for a good chunk of his career when he was up against heavy competition (major league and Negro League) at that position. He didn't really stand out as a player after 1908.

I still have to redo Leach for my system, so maybe it will boost him or not.
   55. Brent Posted: February 26, 2005 at 09:09 PM (#1167398)
I also can't see penalizing Leach because Cobb and Speaker happened to come up about the time he switched to center field.
   56. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 09:22 PM (#1167409)
I also can't see penalizing Leach because Cobb and Speaker happened to come up about the time he switched to center field.

I totally agree.

The real problem is Spot Poles...and Max Carey...and Clyde Milan...and Edd Roush...and Benny Kauff...and Ginger Beaumont...and Cy Seymour...
   57. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 09:24 PM (#1167410)
...and Solly Hofman...and Dode Pskert...
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2005 at 09:26 PM (#1167414)
...and Pete Hill... :-)
   59. yest Posted: February 27, 2005 at 10:55 PM (#1168783)
Add in the fact that Leach got the best possible fielding rating in Win Shares not just at third but also in CF, why would anyone rate Traynor ahead of him?

don't centerfielders generally hit better then third basemen? so the fact that they have a similar amount of gray ink and Traynor played the harder position and played less years make Traynor better?
   60. yest Posted: March 06, 2005 at 06:11 AM (#1183476)
another singles who goes underrated

Singles
1923-158-3
1925-130-10
1926-137-4
1927-150-5
1928-139-7
1929-149-6
1931-129-6
1932-130-9
1933-156-2
Car-1823-71

BTW does any one care to comment on the ballpark links that seem to show that Forbes Field had less foul territory near third base then most other ballparks thus dismising the foul ball problem with Traynor's putouts.
   61. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 06, 2005 at 09:05 AM (#1183720)
yest, if there is a problem in regard to Traynor and the electorate, it probably rests in what their view of third base was during Traynor's time, not about his singles.

I'm one of a handful that has him on my ballot so I'm friendly to him, but even I can't place him as high as Beckwith, who was a superior all-around third baseman.
   62. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 06, 2005 at 05:15 PM (#1183940)
My objection to Pie traynor is that his peak is nearly non existent. He doesn't really stand out amongst the rest of the 3B crowd.

And singles hitters underrated? The only reason that Traynor is in the Hall of Fame is that he hit .320. I would think taht throughout history singles hitters have been vastly overrated and we are just correcting for that.
   63. DavidFoss Posted: March 06, 2005 at 09:47 PM (#1184367)
BTW does any one care to comment on the ballpark links that seem to show that Forbes Field had less foul territory near third base then most other ballparks thus dismising the foul ball problem with Traynor's putouts.

Check the dates on the photos.

url=http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/national/forbes.htm]Forbes Field[/url]

They added seats in foul territory in 1938 (after Traynor had retired) which decreased the backstop distance by 26 feet from a generous 110 down to 84.

Check the two photos at the bottom of the link. One is "Forbes Field in the 60s" and the other is "Forbes Field in the 20s". There's a whole deck of bleachers on the 3B side that was added. Also check the "Forbes Autumn Classic" picture which appears to be after the renovation and imagine those bleachers not being there.

It very well may be more complicated that that. In some pictures, it looks like also moved home plate when they added the new seats (makes sense as the new seats appear more on one side and the 1b side lost a lot more territory than the 3b side).

At any rate, Forbes certainly had more foul territory in Traynors day than it did afterwards. How much relative to other contemporary parks, I don't know, but check the dates on your Forbes pictures before jumping to conclusions.
   64. yest Posted: July 28, 2005 at 01:38 AM (#1503931)
where Traynor placed in range factor among regular NL 3rd baseman
1922 5th
1923 2nd also led in put outs and assists
1924 2nd also led in double plays
1925 1st also led in put outs, assists, double plays and fielding percentage
1926 3rd also led in put outs and double plays
1927 2nd also led in put outs and double plays
1928 1st
1929 4th
1930 2nd
1931 3rd also led in put outs
1932 2nd
1933 3rd also led in put outs and assists
1934 5th also led in put outs
   65. Paul Wendt Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:04 PM (#2016813)
Do you have unusual knowledge of Traynor?
Or know of anyone who knew Traynor?

Someone working on a book biography has written to me and would like to get in touch with you.
Paul Wendt, Watertown MA
pgw@world.std.com
   66. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#2016833)
Do you have unusual knowledge of Traynor?

WHO DID HE WORK FOR!!!????!!!!

(That one's for you, SDY2.)
   67. DavidFoss Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:34 PM (#2016867)
WHO DID HE WORK FOR!!!????!!!!

THE BALLOTS CLOSE ON MONDAY!!!! THERE'S NO TIME!!!

DAMMMMMMMIIIIIITTTTTTTTTT!!!
   68. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2042279)
SABR announced that one of three McFarland-SABR award winners this year is James Farr, "Pie Traynor". (This biography is much longer than the norm for SABR's BioProject.)

In the penultimate paragraph, Forr alludes to this discussion, almost a citation but he names only Baseball Think Factory:
Traynor's reputation as a third baseman has taken a bit of a beating in recent years. Although people once called Traynor the best third baseman in history, Bill James ranks him just 15th. A discussion on the "Baseball Think Factory" website indicates there are some very knowledgeable fans who think Traynor is grossly overrated, some who don't even consider him a worthy Hall-of-Famer.
   69. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#2042281)
Farr . . . Forr
The Traynor author is James Forr.
   70. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:15 PM (#2042301)
The Traynor author is James Forr.

So I take it he doesn't wear a dress then? ;-)
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2042312)
But most importantly, third basemen ain't what they used to be. During Traynor's career, third base was primarily a defensive position; anything a third baseman could do at the plate usually was considered a bonus. That changed during the second half of the 20th Century, when third base became a sluggers' position. It is interesting to note that on James' list, the only pre-1930 player listed ahead of Traynor is Frank Baker. Baker probably was better, but not by much. So for a long time those who called Traynor the greatest third baseman in history could make a very legitimate case. But not now. Traynor's numbers pale against those of modern third basemen like Eddie Mathews, George Brett, Mike Schmidt, and Scott Rolen.

I agree with almost of this and that's why Pie is on my ballot, but I would still go with Wilson, Sutton, Baker, and Beckwith as significantly better than him. Baker, for example, had a much greater peak than Traynor ever had.

Thanks for pointing that out, Paul!
   72. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#2042482)
He said we're knowledgable! He said we're knowledgable!

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