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Monday, September 19, 2005

Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner

Eligible in 1961.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 19, 2005 at 12:26 AM | 60 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 19, 2005 at 12:39 AM (#1626541)
Will Kiner have his own Korner's Kiner reserved for him in the Hall of Merit and be enshrined with fellow inductees Ed Ott, Orville Wright, and Lou Gehringer?
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 02:23 AM (#1626649)
A week or so ago I opined that Kiner looked like a shoo-in and found that a lot of people don't agree. My rationale was that he was a moneyball player. But so (some of you said) are some other guys. Was Kiner better than them? So I set out to find out who are the best eligible moneyball players.

First, I developed a list of 20 players who appear on 2 or more of the top 100 lists for OBA, OPS and OPS+, and put those 3 measures on a spreadsheet. You will be surprised at who some of the 20 players are and how they ranked, BTW. I sure was, though of course this does not make them the 20 best available hitters by any means.

Then I added career PAs (AB + BB, actually), adjusted for some of the players for short seasons, WWII, etc. and also the number of years they were BA title eligible, also adjusted for WWII and NeL credit.

I then ranked the 20 players on 4 different measures of Production X Career Length.

1. Ranked them on the 5 measures and totaled up the rankings. This favors high rates as 3 of the 5 measures are production, 2 are longevity.

2. (OPS+ - 100) + (PA/100)--e.g. Kiner OPS+ 148 in 6216 AB + BB. 48 + 62 = 110, 6th best on the list. Favors longevity a lot more.

3. (OPS+ - 100) X Years BA Eligible. Kiner 48 X 9 = 432, 5th best. Favors longevity more than #1, less than #2.

4. Offensive WS which should also represent production X career length. Also favors longevity, as Medwick is 2nd here, 1st in PAs and 17-18-20 in the three rate stats.

Then I added up those 4 rankings and re-ranked on that basis. So here are your moneyball hitters, ranked on offense only at this point.

1. Pete Browning with a 1st, 1st, 3rd and 3rd

164 OPS+ gives him a leg up on any measure that uses that, but also 3rd in adj career offensive WS. Also has the highest 5 year peak, which is not factored in here at all yet.

2. Bob Johnson 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th

2nd among the 20 in career PA and 1st in years BA eligible.

3. Larry Doby 2-4-4-8 (I haven't bothered to differentiate ties in the rankings)

And 2nd in defensive WS/rating, which doesn't even count in this rating.

4. Mike Tiernan 3-4-4-9

Had forgotten his .392 OBA and 138 OPS+, plus 4th in adj PA.

5. Ralph Kiner 1-5-6-9

1st if you just rank the 5 main items and tote them up. Only 9th in WS but his Pirates went .413 for 7 years and the Cubs were little better for 2 more. Also has 3rd highest peak (Keller's is a little better) which is not factored in yet.

6. Joe Medwick 1-3-8-13

1st in career PA, 1st in offensive WS, only 13th if you tote up the 5 rankings. The lowest OBA among the 20. His is not really a moneyball case.

7. Earl Averill 4-6-9-10

3rd in OPS. 1st in defense which is not included yet.

8. Charlie Keller 6-7-8-9

2nd in OBA and OPS+, 16th and 17th in career longevity.

9. Babe Herman 6-7-10-12

6th on OPS+ and on years BA eligible.

10. Chuck Klein 7-10-11-11

Thought he'd be higher. 6th on OPS and 6th on PA, but 17th on OBA.

11. Hack Wilson 4-11-12-15 4th when toting up the 5 rankings
12. Tip O'Neill 7-11-13-14 how much to discount?
13. Jack Fournier 10-11-13-16
14. Wally Berger 13-13-13-15 surprise
15. Jeff Heath 13-15-16-16 huge surprise
16. Ken Williams 11-16-17-18
17. Frank Chance 8-18-19-20 8th on adj career offensive WS
18. John McGraw 16-17-17-18 surprise, 16th on OPS and PAs
19. Al Rosen 15-18-19-20 will move up when defense factored
20. Riggs Stephenson 19-19-20-20
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 02:36 AM (#1626674)
So there is how I rank the top 20 moneyball players on their careers--basically by trying to measure production X career length.

But of course I'm a peak voter and so my actual ballot could change from the above, though I already know that my ballot will change, what with Browning, Johnson, Doby and Tiernan on top! Not so surprised at Pistol Pete, but shockied at the other 3.

Anyway...peak. This is just the arbitrary 5 years, and it is based on OPS+ and WS. Here it is total WS, not just the offensive WS I used above.

1. Browning, again--#1 in OPS, #2 in WS
2. Charlie Keller--#1 in WS, #3 in OPS+
3. Ralph Kiner--#2 in OPS, #4 in WS
4. Hack Wilson--#5 in OPS+
5. Al Rosen!--#5 in WS
6. Joe Medwick--#3 in WS
7. Wally Berger
8. Jack Fournier!--#4 in OPS+
9. Mike Tiernan
10. Larry Doby

11. Chuck Klein
12. Tip O'Neill
13. Earl Averill
14. Babe Herman
15. Frank Chance
16. Bob Johnson
17. Ken Williams
18. John McGraw
19. Jeff Heath
20. Riggs Stephenson

Basically the first list tells you what kind of players these guys are, relative to one another. This list tells you a little about how their value was distributed across seasons.I'm a big believer in peak value but I do think the first list is more important than this one. Doesn't matter to Riggs Stephenson's case either way, however.

Then for defensive value it is 1. Averill, 2. Doby, 3. McGraw, 4. Berger, 5. Tip O'Neill!, 6. Medwick, 7. Rosen, 8. Browning, 9. Bob Johnson, 10. Ken Williams. At the end of the top 10, you're now into grade C corner OF who are largely indistinguishable from one another, except some of them has longer careers and rack up a few extra WS. The top 7 here are helped--they move up overall--by adding this defensive value.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: September 19, 2005 at 03:01 AM (#1626716)
From the SABR bio:

"Kiner began his professional career in 1941 as an outfielder with Albany in the Class A Eastern League, two steps below the majors. In two seasons there he batted .288 and .268. In 1942 his 14 homers led the pitcher-friendly league."

Single-A at ages 18 & 19 before the war, NL home run king at age 23 after the war (though with only 23HR). A tricky case for war credit.
   5. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 19, 2005 at 03:04 AM (#1626721)
I probably give Keller some some generous war credit (31,28 in WS for the two years he missed) but I have Keller with 275 WS to Kiner's 254. I have Keller with 122 WS over 15, Kiner 110. I have Keller with 43 WS over 25, Kiner with 38. Edge Keller.

Without war credit for Keller their top 3,5, and 7 years non consecutive break down thus;

Keller 107,164,198
Kiner 107,162,206

Pretty even, with Kiner having an edge in 7 years to Kiner. However, give Keller war credit and he pushes ahead. Kiner added a little more after his seventh season, but neither player was any special afterward.

So three questions regarding these two. How much war credit are people apportiong to Keller? How much shold Kiner get, keeping in mind that his 1946 wasn't any too special. For those of you who like to adjust for quality of competition, how much does this affect these two?

Currently I will have these two very close to each other in the middle portion of my ballot, Keller looks to be #7 or 8, with Kiner right behind him. I also have to look at Averill and Walters in that group.
   6. Chris Cobb Posted: September 19, 2005 at 03:26 AM (#1626740)
It looks to me like Kiner is probably deserving of a year of war credit.

He seems to have been ready to move up from A (equiv. to modern AA) to AA (equiv. modern AAA) after the 1942 season. We would expect 1-2 seasons there, with him reaching the majors in 1944 or 1945.

As others have mentioned, his 1946 season, while not spectacular, was a very good rookie season, esp. considering that Kiner was jumping from AA ball after having not played for three years. Unless he was playing ball in the Army? I have the impression that he was not, but that's only an impression.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 12:16 PM (#1627067)
I don't expect anyone to agree, but I'm very hard on XC. My study, above, gives Kiner no war credit and Keller one year, not two. They are exceptionally similar players in value, though Kiner's distinguishing characteristic was of course the HR while Keller's .410 OBA jumps out. Still, more similar than not.

It comes down for me to 9 years BA eligible versus 7, plus the fact that WS probably underestimates Kiner, what with his Pirates at .413 over 7 years (and the Cubs very little better for 2 more). WS certainly does not underestimate Keller. And on a pure career basis, Keller's 300 decline phase games have a lot less value than if they were two 150 game seasons, so in that sense his raw career numbers overestimate his value.

In my prelims I had Kiner around #1 on my ballot and Keller #40. They're obviously a lot closer than that, though a small difference can of course result in a large ballot spread. I'm still working on what the above means for my ballot.
   8. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 19, 2005 at 12:57 PM (#1627081)
Sunnyday2,

Interesting you bring up Doby. He's got at least a couple MLE NgL seasons to add to his total, as well as the possibility of WW2 XC. It'll be interesting to see how that effects him relatives to this list.
   9. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 01:04 PM (#1627088)
Now combining post 2 (career offense) and post 3 (peak and defense), here is where I end up on the top 20 eligible moneyball players.

The Bottom Five

20. Riggs Stephenson--doh!
19. Jeff Heath--definitely a lesser man than Willard Brown. The irony of his being Brown's antagonist is that Heath was Canadian.
18. Ken Williams--still, a surprisingly HoVG type player.
17. Frank Chance--just didn't play enough (4855 AB + BB), fewer than Stephenson.
16. Jack Fournier--very similar to Chance but + 900 PAs.

The Next Five

15. Babe Herman--shocked that he is this high. Underrated, but not ballot-worthy.
14. John McGraw--only 16th on OPS+. Unlike, say Frank Chance, it's not clear how much (or that) the context ('90s) suppressed OPS.
13. Tip O'Neill--this is too high, should have McGraw ahead of him but that's not how the numbers worked out.
12. Al Rosen--just didn't play long enough, but massive peak and some defense besides.
11. Wally Berger--if Berger is 11th among the short career moneyball set (and he is), there must be some awesome players yet to come.

The Top Ten Eligible Moneyball Players

10. Chuck Klein--if Klein is only #10...despite an extra 1500 PAs compared to some of the higher ranking players.

9. Hack Wilson--underrated. More PAs than (adj)Keller, McGraw, Chance.

8. Bob Johnson--sorry, as a peak voter, can't put him ahead of...

7. Mike Tiernan--will move up my ballot.

6. Earl Averill--could make an argument to have him higher as he is #1 on this list in defensive value, plus longer career. But the hitting rate edge and peak edge for those below is extreme.

5. Charlie Keller--Keller, Kiner and Medwick are very very close. Unlike most of the longer careers, Medwick has a peak that is competitive with Keller and Kiner. (Keller moves up.)

4. Ralph Kiner--won't be #1 on my ballot after all.

3. Pete Browning--the numbers are sooo big that you just want to discount them altogether and not even consdier them. But there they are. He is #1 on the numbers, this is as far down as I can justify. Will move up my ballot.

2. Joe Medwick--not really a moneyball guy. For this list his rates are low and his career very long, yet he has a peak that rivals the big short career moneyball types.

1. Larry Doby--I didn't even realize he had the big moneyball numbers--granted only #13-13-14 omong these 20 on OBA, OPS and OPS+. But (big but) he also has a longer career than most, the #10 peak which surprised me a lot, and #2 in defensive value. I had very much underrated Doby historically. Give him a normal career and appropriate credit for all the little stuff, he is like Bobby Grich. You just never run out of things to add into the plus column.

The Bottom Line

• The top 4 are obvious ballot-worthies.

• Even among this list, Keller's career was shortish--he will move up from around #40-50 to #15-20 maybe?

• Averill meanwhile lacks the really eye-popping offensive numbers but has other qualities. He has been around #25. We'll see, that might be about right, he certainly won't go down.

• Tiernan and Johnson move up from #75ish and #50ish into #25-50 range.

• Wilson already around #40, looks about right. Klein is now #15-20, I love Klein, sorry to see him move down. Medwick lite, now found to be very lite.

• The rest don't really matter. Berger is already around #55ish, about right. Babe Herman and John McGraw, not in top 100, must move up.

Any questions?
   10. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 19, 2005 at 02:33 PM (#1627209)
When exactly is Doby eligible?
   11. DavidFoss Posted: September 19, 2005 at 02:39 PM (#1627223)
Doby is 1965
Rosen has also been metntioned, he's 1962.
   12. OCF Posted: September 19, 2005 at 06:51 PM (#1627638)
My "system", with context-adjusted RCAA, sees Keller and Kiner as nearly equal. However: that method tends to systematically overrate players with missing in-season playing time, like Chance or McGraw, compared to their more durable colleagues.

Keller had 1170 games played - fewer than Chance. He only played 100 games in a season 6 times, and even in those 6 seasons only averaged 138 games. (Or 144 G/season in 5 seasons).

Kiner had 1471 games, which includes a 9-year stretch of playing 151 games per season. He has in-season durability.

I like to look at the adjusted RCAA syste (with some bonuses for big years), but to apply an additional correction for playing time and seasonal playing time. Hence my system would say Chance > Sisler > Beckley, but my actual votes have been Beckley > Sisler > Chance. For those reasons, I will put Kiner ahead of Keller. Keller isn't in my top 30; Kiner will be, and may make my ballot. But he won't be sniffing an "elect me" slot.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 06:59 PM (#1627648)
O,

That's why I generally haven't used rate stats much at all, well, except OPS+. Never mind.

But seriously, it's easy enough to spot a ballot where hitters are ranked on rate stats and sometimes they vastly overstate a player's value in the context of the basic unit--not the base or the out, but--the pennant.

Still, Keller did better than I expected. A .410 OBA goes a long way. But you still need to be in the lineup which is why McGraw with his .466 ranks behind "even" Keller.
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 19, 2005 at 08:08 PM (#1627834)
Ed Ott, Orville Wright, and Lou Gehringer

Not to mention Larry Mize.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 19, 2005 at 08:13 PM (#1627846)
Not to mention Larry Mize.

Finally, somebody responded to my post. :-) I assume some non-Met fans may be scratching their heads, though.
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 08:28 PM (#1627879)
I did give Doby 2 years of NeL credit. I am a bit more generous with that, perhaps, than with other forms of XC. This is with no WWII credit, to be honest I hadn't even thought of it. With the 2 years of NeL credit, I think I am more or less covering his career, but if there is more than that--whether additional NeL seasons or WWII XC--he is just a monster. I had not anticipated that he was such a huge talent as that.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 19, 2005 at 09:03 PM (#1627956)
Here's the teams that Clark/Lester show Doby on
NEGRO LEAGUES
YEAR LG  TM  AGE POS TMG G
1942 NNL NWK 17  2B  49  20
1943 NNL NWK 18  2B  39  23
1946 NNL NWK 21  2B  76  43
1947 NNL NWK 22  2B  79  41

MILITARY SERVICE
1944 
1945 

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE
1946 PRWL SJ 21  OF  56  38*

AL
1947 AL  CLE 22  CF 154  29
*This is my own estimation based on Doby's AB/G rates in the NNL.


Notice, zero MiL time. Straight to the majors from the NgLs. I'm working through the projections now, and he simply shows up as a phenom from age 17 onward. Clearly we can't really give MLE credit to a 17 year old, but depending on how you figure his WW2 XC, he could be receiving MLE credit as early as age 19.

I figured it as the average of the surrounding three seasons (the two before he left and the one after his returned), and comes out looking like a good regular player. I figured his walks at his career rate which could have make him look a little stronger than he was at that age, BUT at age 23 in the AL he had a .384 OBP and 54 walks in 439 ABs, so his eye was there he landed in Cleveland.
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: September 19, 2005 at 09:21 PM (#1627995)
I forget now how those 20+ and 40+ games stack up. Are those, or at least the 40s, full seasons?
   19. TomH Posted: September 20, 2005 at 12:11 AM (#1628419)
anyone have his career home/road splits? I'd like to see if the gaudy power ##s were park-influenced, more or less than 'typical' hitters.
   20. OCF Posted: September 20, 2005 at 12:43 AM (#1628572)
He was a right-handed batter in Forbes Field. That was generally playing as a significant hitters park in those years, but weren't there some massive distances to left-center there?
   21. OCF Posted: September 20, 2005 at 12:56 AM (#1628655)
Vern Stephens was born in New Mexico? Who knew? I always thought of him as a Californian.

Kiner and Stephens are, far and away, the two best players born in New Mexico. As for who was the best player born in New Mexico - well, we're about to have an election here which should decide that.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:00 AM (#1628676)
I think it's important that you guys know that Ralph spent several years on Mets telecasts calling Craig Swan "Roger Craig" and calling Gary Carter "Gary Cooper." I mean, more than 25 times in each case.

Murph notes a few of the other malaprops.

But don't be fooled - just last week they had a trivia question on the Mets telecast on the last Pirate to get 200 hits, I think it was.
Kiner was all over it, mentioning Matty Alou, Dick Groat, Bill Madlock, and several other good choices. He's still very much 'with it,' though Bell's Palsy has slurred his speech somewhat. Longtime Mets fans have no trouble deciphering him.
   23. DavidFoss Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:04 AM (#1628692)
weren't there some massive distances to left-center there?

Yes, but they reconfigured the line so that it was more favorable for Greenberg and Kiner.

Left field: 360 (1909), 356.5 (1921), 356 (1922), 360 (1926), 365 (1930), 335 (1947), 365 (1954)

"Greenberg Gardens (also called Kiner’s Korner) was the area between the scoreboard and a chicken-wire short fence in left put there to increase home run production from 1947 to 1953. It was called Greenberg Gardens in 1947, Kiner’s Korner from 1948 to 1953."

I don't know if the dimension change made things easy, or just more realistic. I'll look more for home/road homer splits.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:11 AM (#1628722)
But don't be fooled - just last week they had a trivia question on the Mets telecast on the last Pirate to get 200 hits,

I suffer from his malaprop affliction (though I usually catch myself 99% of the time), so my post was affectionate in nature. :-)

and calling Gary Carter "Gary Cooper."

He did it on "Kiner's Korner" right after Carter's first game as a Met, IIRC.
   25. KJOK Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:37 AM (#1628860)
anyone have his career home/road splits? I'd like to see if the gaudy power ##s were park-influenced, more or less than 'typical' hitters.

Here's what I quickly got manually, so they could be off by one here and there:

HR's and Home - Kiner
1946-8
1947-18
1948-31
1949-29
1950-27
1951-26
1952-22
1953-19
1954-9
1955-11
   26. Mike Webber Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:39 AM (#1628867)
Kiner Home vs Road homers
from SABR Homerun Encylopedia

YearHomeAway
1946     8    15
1947    28    23
1948    31     9
1949    29    25
1950    27    20
1951    26    16
1952    22    15
1953    19    13
1954     9    13
1955    11     7
Total  210   159 


57% hit at home, I'd guess that is high, but don't really have any context for you.
   27. DavidFoss Posted: September 20, 2005 at 02:07 AM (#1629007)
57% hit at home, I'd guess that is high, but don't really have any context for you.

Yeah, its a bit high, but I believe the 25 (and maybe the 23) were NL records for road homers at the time. There are some comparisons to Mize's H/R splits with the Giants (the two of them shared consecutive homer titles) and Kiner's were not quite as high as Mize's Polo Grounds splits were.
   28. DavidFoss Posted: September 20, 2005 at 02:08 AM (#1629013)
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:03 PM (#1629754)
Thanks, David.
That's a good, detailed, evenhanded, interesting bio on Ralph!
   30. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 20, 2005 at 01:22 PM (#1629774)
Sunnyday, to answer your question about Doby's games, my chart wasn't really clear, but the first column of #s was his teams' games, the second was his own games played, so those are full-season totals in the team g column.

...

I grew up watching WPIX with Scooter and Bill White on one hand, and WWOR with Kiner/McCarver/Zbriski/Staub on the other. I thank my lucky stars to this day that I'm able to carry on normal conversation.
   31. sunnyday2 Posted: September 20, 2005 at 02:10 PM (#1629830)
Doc, why does Doby have such limited GP relative to team for all 4 years? Do you know? Was he going to school at night? ;-)
   32. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 20, 2005 at 02:30 PM (#1629870)
I don't know the answer about his limited playing time. In all seriousness, I did wonder if he was going to school at the same time. Perhaps Gary, KJOK, or Gadfly can help us on that one.

That said, Doby was neither durable, nor brittle in MLB. He played

150+ games once
140+ games five times
130+ games twice
120+ games once
110+ games once
80+ games once
30+ games once
20+ games once.
   33. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 20, 2005 at 05:34 PM (#1630277)
Would it be accurate to characterize the current consensus by saying that Ralph K merits zero or one WW2 season of XC at somewhere slightly above the league average? Say one 12-15 WS season?
   34. sunnyday2 Posted: September 20, 2005 at 05:45 PM (#1630301)
Chris said one. I said none, but then I'm a peaker and 9.5 years is way more than what is needed for me anyway.

I think there's a case, though. Given the inconvenient intrusion of reality, I would have to think that anybody giving Averill an extra ML season while he was in AAA would have to give Kiner the benefit of the doubt. I mean Averill's extra year is not like "benefit of the doubt" it's "benefit of un-reality." Not that that is wrong, but it implies a loose standard and I think Kiner meets it. I just don't give much credit of that kind--Cravath being the only one, in fact.
   35. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 20, 2005 at 07:59 PM (#1630535)
Re-printing from the '61 discussion thread:

Really looking at Kiner a bit more closely to prep putting him on the ballot, and I clearly seem to like him more than most people here. I was always a big fan of his - looking at his numbers he looked like a monster to me, but seeing the lukewarm response he's getting here I thought I'd revisit and make sure that I wasn't letting childhood impressions (of him in the 'cyclopedia - not nearly old enough to remember him as a player) get in the way, but I still think he's a monster.

I've got a geek-show stat system I use to help organize the hitters in my mind. It only looks at hitting, so everything else has to be adjusted for. There's a few versions of it - the common denominator is that it's based on 60% prime and 40% peak.

Plugging Kiner in, and looking at the system using a 10 year (non-consecutive) prime with the best years weighted heavier and the worst years wegithed less, Kiner coming in third among leftfielders behind Pete Browning and Charlie Jones. Among all hitters, he comes in fourth, just baaarely behind Jake Beckley for third.

Using a 7 year (non-consecutive) prime (similar weighting as the time before) and he comes out third in LF again. Now he's almost halfway between Jones & fourth-place Bob Johnson (he was closer to Johnson in the first method). Among all hitters, he's in fifth - George Sisler blows past both him & Beckley for third.

7 year (nonconseutive) prime - this time all years weighted equally: he comes in third for leftfielders (behind the usual suspects) and just baaarely edges out Sisler & Beckley for third overall.

One last version - looking at 10 year (non-consecutive) prime but this time weighting all those years equally: Now he's fourth among LFrs - just a little behind Bob Johnson. He's fifth overall, behind Beckley as well.

Just for the heck of it - comparing that last version not only with current potentials, but also alongside those already inducted - he comes off worse than just about every LF in. He's just ahead (a virtual dead heat) of Joe Kelley, and notably ahead of Jimmy Sheckard.

Also, if you take his games played every year, and divide by his teams' games played, and add all that together, you get 9.49 seasons played. That's exactly the same as Charlie Jones. A list of Kiner with some similars:

Chuck Klein 11.41
Earl Averill 10.80
Sam Thompson 10.63
Frank Baker 10.48
Harlond Clift 10.20
Babe Herman 10.08
Elmer Flick 9.93
Jake Fournier 9.91
Pete Browning 9.55
Charlie Jones 9.49
Ralph Kiner 9.49
Ken Williams 9.09
Hank Greenberg 9.01
Wally Berger 8.75
Hack Wilson 8.72
Joe Jackson 8.70
Gavy Cravvath 8.15
Charlie Keller 7.58


Before trying to make any adjustments at all I figure he's no worse than the fifth best hitter under consideration. He'd go over Charlie Jones. The others were on my ballot last time and will be again this time. So will Kiner. Add a year of play for WWII, and for me that would likely rub out a lot of the defensive and demeritis he has against the other big hitters. Right now I'm pegging him somewhere from #5-10 on my ballot.
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 20, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1630733)
I grew up watching WPIX with Scooter and Bill White on one hand, and WWOR with Kiner/McCarver/Zbriski/Staub on the other. I thank my lucky stars to this day that I'm able to carry on normal conversation.

LOL

I used to watch the Yankees when there were no Met games on, so I have many memories of the broadcasters from the Bronx, too. Bill White was very impressive, BTW.

I can't dislike Rizzuto, but most of the time, this is all you heard from him: "Holy Cow!," "Did you see that, Messer!," "I tell ya, White, that kid can play!," and so on. :-) Great voice, though.

Would it be accurate to characterize the current consensus by saying that Ralph K merits zero or one WW2 season of XC at somewhere slightly above the league average? Say one 12-15 WS season?

Like Chris, I think one season is sufficient.
   37. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 21, 2005 at 03:28 AM (#1631785)
I spent my childhood listening to this...

BW: Pop-up to second.

PR: Andre Robitsin's gonna get it but HOLY COW!, White, I was playin' golf on Satiday with Whitey Ford, and he told me...

BW: Strike one to Claudell Washington.

PR: ...Ford told me about the time he and Mantle during spring trainin'...

BW: 0h and two to Washington.

PR: ...He and Mantle were---oh speakin' of Fort Lauderdale, we're going to Florida tonight on our relay station, so I'd better say hi to Scooter and Anne before the end of this inning because they'll be puttin the kids to bed soon. Anyway, White, so those huckleberries Ford and Mantle had a wager going about whether....

BW: Swing and a miss. Washington's out on strikes, and the Yanks go down in order. After five it's 3-2 K.C...

PR: I'll finish my story in the bottom half of the inning.

BW: ...on the WPIX Yankee network.
   38. andrew siegel Posted: September 21, 2005 at 05:20 PM (#1632629)
I've been trying to figure out why, as a peak voter and a big fan of moneyball offensive stats, I keep ending up with Kiner out of the top 15. I think the answer might have to do with the fact that--while our image of him was as a 50-HR, OBP-machine, 10-year career guy--his season-by-season line tells a more complicated story.

1946--As a 23-year old with slightly below average defensive skills he puts up a slugging heavy 115 OPS+ in 90% of his team's games. A very nice rookie season, bodes well for a future HoM career, but isn't much of a chit on its own.

1947--The real deal. 50+ HR's, 174 OPS+, leads league in OPS+, not yet a terrible OF. Every system loves this season.

1948--A good season, but not a great one. 40 HR, 146 OPS+, 4th in the league. For a mediocre (and getting worse defensive OF) this is a good season, an All-Star season even, but not one that puts you into the MVP conversation. This would not have been one of Harry Heilmann's six best seasons.

1949--A second great season. 54 HR, 184 OPS+, leads league again in both, over 100 walks for the first time. Not one of the top 125 or so OPS+ seasons of All-Time but a good enough year with the bat to make him an MVP candidate regardless of his fielding or his team's performance.

1950--A very good season, but closer to 1948 than 1949. 156+ OPS+, fourth in the league, defense is by now awful. We are talking Manny Ramirez of the last few years, not Hank Greenberg or Jimmy Foxx.

1951--A third great offensive season, probably his best. OPS+ is 184 again, but this time he leads the league in OBP and walks (with 137), making his performance even more valuable. On the downside, he is by now a slug in the OF and spends half the season butchering 1B.

1952--Another good but not great offensive seasons on par with 148 or 1950 only slightly worse (140 OPS+, 7th in league, 37 homers), but by now he is so bad an OF that the total package is worse. (His WARP 1 drops to 6.2 this season and never goes above 7 again.)

1953--Starts off slow for Pittsburgh, then is traded to Chicago and essentially puts up 3/4 of a season that directly replicates his performance from the previous year.

1954--121 OPS+ for an old, slow corner OF in an environment that has more free talent than any other point since the 1870s. Not bad, but doesn't add much to his resume. (WARP says that he has a shocking metamorphis in the field, which promotes his overall value to the same level as the previous 2 years; I am skeptical.)

1955--Plays 60% of the season, puts up 115 OPS+, hangs them up.

So, here's how I break down his 9.6 years:

--Superstar seasons, MVP level performance: 3 (1946, 1948, 1950)
--Very good seasons, big plus for HoM argument: 2 (1947, 1949)
--Good seasons, nice pluses: 1.75 (2, 3/4 of 1953)
--Solid seasons, adds bulk but doesn't change shape of argument 2.85 or so (1945, 1/4 of 1953, 1954, 60% of 1955).

Every syste (WS, WARP, TPR, etc.) views the individual seasons somewhat differently, but they all generally conclude that he was great (but not historic) for 2-4 years, very good for another 1 or 2, good for another couple, and perfectly adequate on the ends of his career.

There are lots of guys who put up one or two great seasons and a handful of good ones but are not even on our radar screen. Kiner is better than that, in that he had 3 great seasons and a longer total career than most of those folks. Still, is one more great season and a tiny bit of career bulk really all that is keeping Jack Fournier or Mike Tiernan or Hack Wilson or Chuck Klein out of the HoM?

For now, I have Kiner between 15th and 20th. He might sneak onto my ballot, but I doubt it.
   39. TomH Posted: September 21, 2005 at 05:49 PM (#1632701)
what andrew said
   40. DavidFoss Posted: September 21, 2005 at 05:53 PM (#1632707)
So, here's how I break down his 9.6 years:

I like the analysis -- the years got a bit shifted in your table, though.

Here's my attempt at a fix:

--Superstar seasons, MVP level performance: 3 (1947, 1949, 1951)
--Very good seasons, big plus for HoM argument: 2 (1948, 1950)
--Good seasons, nice pluses: 1.75 (1952, 3/4 of 1953)
--Solid seasons, adds bulk but doesn't change shape of argument 2.85 or so (1946, 1/4 of 1953, 1954, 60% of 1955).
   41. andrew siegel Posted: September 21, 2005 at 06:23 PM (#1632761)
David is right. I got the years mixed up. Oops. His post 40 has them right.
   42. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2005 at 06:39 PM (#1632786)
I don't think Hack Wilson is exactly one great year short of being Ralph Kiner. Maybe this is hair-splitting, but hey, this whole project is hair-splitting.

Kiner 183-182-172 career 148 in 6216 AB + BB
Wilson 177-160-159 career 145 in 5434

So he was never as good as Kiner and comes up 800 PAs short, more than one season's worth. I'd say he would need two more 150 OPS+ seasons to make a respectable run at Kiner.

As for Fournier 170-65-62 career 143 in 5795

Another 170 wouldn't come even close to putting him in Kiner's class unless he's getting 3 years of MiL XC.
   43. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 21, 2005 at 07:23 PM (#1632885)
Sunny,

The one difference being that Wilson was a CFer and Kiner a corner guy. Defense may make up some of that gap.

However, I am on board, kinda. I will have Kiner inmy top 10, but he is still behind Medwick and Keller.
   44. Chris Cobb Posted: September 21, 2005 at 07:30 PM (#1632904)
If Wilson had been a below-average left fielder, he'd be more than one great year short of being as good as Kiner, but he was a below average centerfielder, so he's only one great season short, or less, if you like WARP1

Kiner, 10 years
1472 g
149 OPS+
242.8 ws
691 RAR

Wilson, 10 years
1271 g
146 OPS+
217.4 ws
679 RAR

Kiner, 5 years
761 g
169 OPS+
154.5 ws
453 RAR

Wilson, 5 years
738 g
164 OPS+
152.4 ws
478 RAR

Wilson's level of offensive production was very close to Kiner's over five seasons and ten seasons, and he defensive value was notably higher. He falls short of Kiner primarily on durability, both in-season and career.
   45. andrew siegel Posted: September 21, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1632927)
Fair enough, Sunnyday. But the comparisons aren't ridiculous and the other guys aren't in my top 50. So, the question isn't whether Kiner is better than them (he is), but whether he is enough better to make the ballot and/or to get elected.
   46. karlmagnus Posted: September 21, 2005 at 07:41 PM (#1632936)
Alternatively, you could promote Wilson. I have him about #15, and Kiner just a spot or two higher.
   47. Chris Cobb Posted: September 21, 2005 at 07:45 PM (#1632946)
True enough. I'm surprised, actually, that Wilson has not had more support from peak voters. I suppose his lack of in-season durability hurts his peak with many peak folks in ways that don't influence a "career-package" voter like Karl (if that phrase fairly characterizes your approach).
   48. Rob_Wood Posted: September 21, 2005 at 08:43 PM (#1633094)
I am sure that we all realize that Kiner not only was a poor fly-catcher but also had a weak arm. And his walks were probably less valuable than the average walk due to his poor (i.e., slow) baserunning.

Having said all that, I may well have him near the bottom of my ballot.
   49. Mike Webber Posted: September 21, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1633137)
Is there any real chance that Kiner could end up 10th on 39 ballots, and make the HOM, with SunnyDay giving him 1 1st place vote?

It seems like a lot of people are saying, "Yes, he'll be on my ballot, but about 10th."

And I count myself among those people.
   50. karlmagnus Posted: September 21, 2005 at 09:14 PM (#1633172)
Chris, I am a "career-package" voter, but my principal criterion is outstandingness -- thus Caruthers (unique) Welch (300 wins) and Beckley (#2 in hits all-time the day he retired.) While I'm not at all rigorous in the use of a system, Wilson, even though his career was too short, gets lots of points from me for those 190RBI -- hitting wasn't THAT much easier in 1930 than now, and homers were scarcer, yet while Ichiro has taken out Sisler, nobody's made a run at Wilson.

Kiner's numbers are very good indeed; significantly better than Medwick and the outfield glut, and even the small amount of "WW2 "benefit of the doubt" he deserves (his '46 would have been better if he'd come up in '45) takes away some of the "short career" stigma. If his OPS+ had been 139 instead of 149, he'd be in the glut, and would need 2200 hits to make it. But 149 is 35th all-time, and that puts him well into the borders of the HOM.

He's no slam dunk though, and I'd rather we took another from the 1890s than elected him first time -- but we probably won't, or will go for Medwick who wasn't as good.
   51. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2005 at 09:17 PM (#1633175)
Well, I'm defintely pro-Kiner but my moneyball analysis convinced me to move him down to #5 or 6. He or Browning (who excels at moneyball) will go PHoM. Not exactly the 1890s (Browning) but just as good or better, eh, karl?
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: September 21, 2005 at 09:46 PM (#1633228)
Is there any real chance that Kiner could end up 10th on 39 ballots, and make the HOM, with SunnyDay giving him 1 1st place vote?

It seems like a lot of people are saying, "Yes, he'll be on my ballot, but about 10th."

And I count myself among those people.


Well, it wouldn't go _exactly_ like that, but, sure, something like that could happen. Bill Terry (similar career shape) was elected with that sort of support.

Insofar as the "Shiny New Toy Syndrome" tends to get players a few more votes than they will manage later, this is a troubling sort of election profile. I hope the electorate will be cautious in their rankings of Kiner, just because there's an impulse, because he's new to give him the benefit of the doubt in various ways.
   53. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 21, 2005 at 11:01 PM (#1633373)
Rob,

I don't believe that walks are any less valuable when a player is a bad baserunner. Sure, it doesn't show up in OPS+ and such measures but VORP, WARP, Eqa, WS, and RC (all iterations) include baserunning as part of their math. I think a walk is a walk is a walk, since it means the absence of an out and a baserunner to boot. Then you look at baserunning serperately to determine that value.
   54. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 21, 2005 at 11:54 PM (#1633591)
Wilson, even though his career was too short, gets lots of points from me for those 190RBI -- hitting wasn't THAT much easier in 1930 than now, and homers were scarcer, yet while Ichiro has taken out Sisler, nobody's made a run at Wilson.

The lack of power that you allude to is why Wilson was able to achieve 191 RBI back then. IOW, there was always somebody on base. Therefore, while we're in a great hitting era of our own, it's far more difficult to achieve those gaudy RBI numbers from the twenties and thirties because the average player doesn't hit for average as they used to.

Wilson would never have hit 191 RBI during our era unless he had the three top on-base guys in the league batting ahead of him. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much.
   55. OCF Posted: September 22, 2005 at 12:05 AM (#1633636)
The elephant in the closet: of course we're only considering eligible players, but if you want to know just how good an outfielder can be ...

Neither Williams nor Musial has retired yet,but they're both old and clearly near the ends of their careers, so we can look back and see what they've done - which is plenty. Mays, Mantle, and Aaron are in mid-career, so we don't know how they'll age or what kind of bulk numbers they'll put up, but we have a good sense of peak for them. And there are some exciting younger players, including F. Robinson. Now go back to thinking about Medwick and Kiner. Yeah, it's not supposed to matter.
   56. sunnyday2 Posted: September 22, 2005 at 12:10 AM (#1633665)
WS has Wilson as a C+ defender which, for a CF, is crappy. Kiner is C-, which for a LF is not so crappy, given the eccentricities of WS OF defense. I am not saying Kiner was better than Wilson, I am however saying that Wilson was not significantly better than Kiner. In fact the defensive difference is less than the offensive difference.

Kiner 215 + 27
Wilson 195 + 29

andrew, if you're not enamored of this whole class of moneyball/short career guys, then, sure, the difference is moot. Even if Kiner is better than your 50th buy, so what? As a peak voter, it is not moot to me and so splitting hairs among Kiner, Wilson, Keller, Fournier, Babe Herman, Pete Browning, Bob Johnson, Berger, Klein, Tiernan, Chance, Averill et al is pretty important. IOW I can understand GVH ahead of Kiner, but I can't understand Wilson.
   57. Paul Wendt Posted: September 22, 2005 at 01:15 AM (#1633933)
Chris Cobb #47
True enough. I'm surprised, actually, that Wilson has not had more support from peak voters.

Are there any pure peak voters in your five-year sense? They should indeed support Wilson, although Jennings sets a high standard for value. Anyone who can be blissfully happy with ten years, putting Elmer Flick or Stan Coveleski at the top of the ballot, probably admits to a peak tendency because the career sums are so prominent among player ratings --led by career Win Shares in this decade.

I suppose his lack of in-season durability hurts his peak with many peak folks in ways that don't influence a "career-package" voter like Karl (if that phrase fairly characterizes your approach).

Following Chris Cobb's own 5-yr "peak" and 10-yr "prime" usage:

In his peak seasons, Hack Wilson suffered no lack of durability. 738 games including 734 outfield games, all in center (148/147 per year); 3261 plate appearances (652 per).

But his ten-year "prime" amounts to only 1271/1205g, 925g in center; 5311pa. That is only 533/471g, 191g in center, and 2050pa in his five "other prime" seasons. That is annually 106 games, 94 in the outfield and 38 in center, with 410 plate appearances. OPS+ {130 92 112 141 117} with playing time varying in roughly the same pattern.

(In the two years that precede his peak, 1924-25 at age 24-25, Wilson was not yet a star. I don't know how non-durability, platooning, and McGraw's penchant for veterans compose the story.)

By the way, karlmagnus, it's 191 rbi in 1930.
   58. Chris Cobb Posted: September 22, 2005 at 02:01 AM (#1634139)
In his peak seasons, Hack Wilson suffered no lack of durability. 738 games including 734 outfield games, all in center (148/147 per year); 3261 plate appearances (652 per).

In a large context, Wilson certainly was durable. In comparison to Kiner during his five-year peak, he is less durable. If Wilson had played as many games as Kiner during his peak and had maintained his rates, his peak would show up as better than Kiner's in the win shares view.

re Kiner vs. Wilson defensively:

Here's sunnyday2's table with a third line added: Wilson projected into Kiner's career games played.

Kiner 215 + 27
Wilson 195 + 29
Wilson+ 213 + 32

The differences in their career totals are influenced by Kiner's longer career. When their playing times are equalized, Kiner shows up as only slightly better as a hitter (maybe a bit less than we would expect from a different of 3 points of career OPS+ -- here again are signs of WS underrating Kiner), and worse to a slightly greater extent as a fielder.

If one is claiming that Kiner is not significantly less valuable as a fielder than Wilson is, I have a hard time seeing how one could claim that he was significantly more valuable as a hitter, _except_ insofar as he was more durable season-by-season during his peak and had a longer career.

Kiner's durability puts him significantly ahead of Wilson in my rankings, and that feature of his skill set is the one that creates most of the distance between him and Wilson.
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: September 22, 2005 at 02:02 AM (#1634147)
In his peak seasons, Hack Wilson suffered no lack of durability. 738 games including 734 outfield games, all in center (148/147 per year); 3261 plate appearances (652 per).

In a large context, Wilson certainly was durable. In comparison to Kiner during his five-year peak, he is less durable. If Wilson had played as many games as Kiner during his peak and had maintained his rates, his peak would show up as better than Kiner's in the win shares view.

re Kiner vs. Wilson defensively:

Here's sunnyday2's table with a third line added: Wilson projected into Kiner's career games played.

Kiner 215 + 27
Wilson 195 + 29
Wilson+ 213 + 32

The differences in their career totals are influenced by Kiner's longer career. When their playing times are equalized, Kiner shows up as only slightly better as a hitter (maybe a bit less than we would expect from a different of 3 points of career OPS+ -- here again are signs of WS underrating Kiner), and worse to a slightly greater extent as a fielder.

If one is claiming that Kiner is not significantly less valuable as a fielder than Wilson is, I have a hard time seeing how one could claim that he was significantly more valuable as a hitter, _except_ insofar as he was more durable season-by-season during his peak and had a longer career.

Kiner's durability puts him significantly ahead of Wilson in my rankings, and that feature of his skill set is the one that creates most of the distance between him and Wilson (esp. since he gets war credit).
   60. yest Posted: September 22, 2005 at 07:44 AM (#1634646)
Kiner finished first in outfield putouts in 1947 and 2nd in outfield putouts in 1946 and 1948 though for the rest of his career the highest he ever finished was 9th (1949, 1950 and 1952)

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