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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Catcher Ballot

Johnny Bench
Charlie Bennett
Yogi Berra
Roger Bresnahan
Roy Campanella
Gary Carter
Mickey Cochrane
Bill Dickey
Buck Ewing
Carlton Fisk
Bill Freehan
Josh Gibson
Gabby Hartnett
Biz Mackey
Cal McVey
Louis Santop
Ted Simmons
Joe Torre
Quincy Trouppe
Deacon White

Election to end May 11th at 8 p.m. EDT, unless another time is more convenient for John Murphy and the ballot counters.

Also remember, all eras (even the 19th Century), and the Negro Leagues are to considered fairly (meaning not conservatively), if you are unable to do this, please refrain from voting. Thanks!

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 28, 2008 at 12:21 PM | 163 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 28, 2008 at 12:25 PM (#2761150)
Hot topics.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: April 28, 2008 at 12:57 PM (#2761163)
Can we send emails to prodigal voters?
   3. DL from MN Posted: April 28, 2008 at 03:58 PM (#2761352)
Catcher Ballot
1) Gibson, Josh - My #1 player all-time, one of the best hitters ever equivalent to Frank Robinson or Jimmie Foxx and putting up those numbers while catching is remarkable.
2) Bench, Johnny - This is a difficult placement and the spreadsheet says there's little difference but I'm going with the cloudy nature of scoring catcher defense as a tiebreaker and putting Bench ahead of Yogi.
3) Berra, Yogi - Just barely behind Bench, underrated defender and smart ballplayer despite his verbal shortcomings.
4) Dickey, Bill - War credit jumps him just ahead of the pack
5) Carter, Gary - Hard to believe he had to wait at all to get into the other Hall. Lots of good catchers who wore #8.
6) Hartnett, Gabby - Strong reputation as a terrific backstop but it was his bat that got him up this high on my list.
7) Ewing, Buck - Outstanding defender, my favorite as the best of the early catchers.
8) Fisk, Carlton - Better v. replacement than several above but due mainly to longevity. His value above average wasn't quite as high as the others.
9) Cochrane, Mickey - I was surprised he came out this low based on reputation but anywhere from 4-12 is pretty interchangeable
10) Santop, Louis - Might be the most important find of the recent HoF Negro League induction.
11) White, Deacon - Harder to place with the play all around the diamond and the changing responsibilities of catcher but he's clearly one of the best.
12) Campanella, Roy - 3+ seasons of Negro League credit is included but no credit for the career-ending injury.
13) Bresnahan, Roger - Big gap between 12 and 13, I have to agree that Bresnahan dominated his era at the position and I think there's a reason why there was so much attrition.
14) Torre, Joe - Hitter first and foremost but able to handle high value positions like C and 3B
15) Bennett, Charlie - Not confident about the short season guys but I've slotted him here.
16) Trouppe, Quincy - Similar to Torre but not quite the bat
17) Simmons, Ted - Poor defense offsets a pretty good bat for a catcher. Hit better off the dish except for the one year I disregarded.
18) Freehan, Bill - Lots of all-star appearances (11) and a good RH bat but we're heading toward the in-out line.
19) Mackey, Biz - Bob Boone level defender with just enough bat to make the cut.
20) McVey, Cal - I may not have taken as much time to sort him out but he strikes me as lesser than Bennett.
   4. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: April 28, 2008 at 09:31 PM (#2761750)
Catcher ballot:

1. Josh Gibson: I know he was an all-time great and certainly the best of the catchers. But I'm having difficulty separating the facts from the hyperbole. DL (and others) have compared him to Jimmie Foxx. I punched in Foxx's career numbers and added bonuses for catching, and Gibson came out so far ahead of Bench and Berra I'm having trouble buying into it all.
2. Johnny Bench: There's not a nickel's worth of difference between Bench and Berra. Bench wins on defense, and I'm not even sure his defense was THAT much better.
3. Yogi Berra: It's nice to see him get recognition for being a great player, not just for saying (or being credited for) saying funny things. And his defense seems underrated to me.
4. Deacon White: A higher ranking than most will have, I'm sure. I had difficulty with his low PA's, but once I accounted for shorter seasons he moved up the pack. The difference between #4 and #13 in my rankings is very small.
5. Roy Campanella: Negro League service bumped him up to #5.
6. Bill Dickey. I gave Dickey just a bit of war credit, as he was in the twilight of his career during the missed time. Because of the tightness of the rankings, it moved him from 10th to 6th.
7. Buck Ewing: Moved ahead of Fisk and Carter based on shorter pre-1900 seasons. His SB totals helped as well.
8. Carlton Fisk: Since I base my peaks on consecutive seasons, Fisk gets hurt a bit. Also, I tend to weight peak over career, so Fisk gets zapped twice.
9. Gary Carter: Virtual tie with Fisk.
10. Mickey Cochrane: I fully expected him to rank higher, but a shortish career didn't help. Was surprised to see BB-Ref had his closest comp as Jackie Robinson.
11. Louis Santop: Accounts I read make him out to be Josh Gibson before Josh Gibson. That being said, I couldn't look at the numbers I found and bring him above #11.
12. Ted Simmons: His defense cost him about 5 places in the rankings. What a wonderful hitter he was, though.
13. Gabby Hartnett: The hardest for me to place. I could make an argument for anywhere from 5th to 17th. His career length is impressive, but his lack of seasons where he got 500 PA's hurts.
14. Charlie Bennett: I had him rated lower, but after re-assessing the season length issues, he bumped up a bit.
15. Joe Torre: He's Gabby Hartnett without the defense.
16. Quincy Trouppe: Comparisons to Torre seem apt.
17. Roger Bresnahan: The most overrated among the catchers.
18. Cal McVey: If I were making a list, he (and the following folks) wouldn't be on it.
19. Biz Mackey: See #18.
20. Bill Freehan: There's a lot here to like if you're looking at having a solid backstop for the next 10 years, but he really doesn't compared even with the players 4-5 spots above him.
   5. Chris Cobb Posted: April 28, 2008 at 10:17 PM (#2761786)
But I'm having difficulty separating the facts from the hyperbole. DL (and others) have compared him to Jimmie Foxx.

Check out his thread. The thing about Gibson is this: there were some great hitters in the Negro Leagues: Oscar Charleston, Turkey Stearnes, Jud Wilson, John Beckwith, Cristobal Torriente, Buck Leonard, Mule Suttles. The translation system comps these guys to hitters like Mel Ott, Al Simmons, and Paul Waner. It comps Gibson to Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.

Maybe the system is off somewhat, but here is the nub of the argument about his being a Foxx-class hitter:

1) All of the available Negro League data indicates that Gibson was the best hitter ever in the Negro Leagues, by a substantial margin. This is not debated.

2) Unless the other great hitters of the Negro Leagues were borderline Hall-of-Fame hitters, a claim rejected both by common sense and by the most careful translations we could develop, then Gibson was one of the game's all-time great hitters.

I doubt he would have remained long at catcher in the major leagues (note that Jimmie Foxx didn't), but since playing in the Negro Leagues he did catch for his whole career, he is far and away the best of all time at that position.
   6. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 28, 2008 at 11:46 PM (#2761838)
Can we send emails to prodigal voters?


Howie, I just sent one last week, not sure how well it would be received to send another one . . . I don't want to become an email pest.

I'm much more concerned that we have a group of voters throughout this phase that is consistent if not limited (I'd like at least 20 ballots though).

I would encourage you (and others) to send sitemails to voters you know, etc..

Does that make sense? Or am I being overly cautious?
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: April 29, 2008 at 01:27 AM (#2761902)
Well, maybe I'd be flexible on the deadline at the end of the week?
20 is about what I'd shoot for as well.
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: April 29, 2008 at 02:28 AM (#2761953)
1. Gibson--who was it that said this was the easiest choice of all? Was that Bill James? Or one of you guys? Or was that me? I dunno. To me, you'd have to be confused about whether to put Babe Ruth in LF or RF for this to be true. But still, it's close to true.

(gap)

2. Bench
3. Berra--clearly 1 & 2 in MLB, pretty interchangeable, but Bench has the edge on defense.

(big gap)

4. Carter--best combo of peak and career among this very very tight group through #12.
5. Hartnett--also a nice combo of peak and career.
6. Campanella--great peak, up there with Bench, better than Berra, but short career.
7. Cochrane--nice peak, career a little short.
8. White--if a full-time catcher, he'd be #4.
9. Ewing--old-timers regarded him as the greatest player of the 19C.
10. Fisk--pretty spotty on consecutive peak, and I'd take Munson on peak anyway.
11. Santop--this could be a little too low, but how would we know?
12. Dickey--rated #1 all-time when I was a kid. That's generous. Too many days off, basically. But the gap between Carter and Dickey is less than between Berra and Carter. There just happen to be a lot of guys who squeeze into that (Carter-Dickey) gap.

(gap)

13. McVey--the poor man's Deacon White. I think some gave him extra credit for an early retirement from "MLB" to continue playing in California. Of course, if he continued playing, it's not really extra credit, it's just credit

14. Simmons--legitimate HoMer but the first guy on this list who I'd describe as "near-great."
15. Freehan--near great, but not for as long a time as Simmons.
16. Torre--great bat but not as a catcher.

(gap)

17. Bennett--legitimate HoM, plenty of catching. Comp to Freehan.

18. Bresnahan--not much behind Bennett but in/out line happens through there.
19. Trouppe--near-near-great.
20. Mackey--HoVG.
   9. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: April 29, 2008 at 12:01 PM (#2762131)
Chris,

I responded to your post over in the discussion area, as not to clutter things up here.
   10. Rusty Priske Posted: April 29, 2008 at 12:31 PM (#2762142)
1. Josh Gibson - To say he is the best catcher ever almost undervalues him. He is one of the greatest PLAYERS ever.

2. Johnny Bench
3. Yogi Berra

Some have this the other way, and that is cool too. They were both clearly great.

4. Gary Carter

Underappreciated during his playing years.

5. Carlton Fisk

Amazing career

6. Deacon White

7. Roy Campanella

A somewhat short career stops him from being higher.

8. Louis Santop

9. Bill Dickey

10. Gabby Hartnett

Wasn't he in Sin City?

11. Joe Torre

If only he found something to do after he retired...

12. Mickey Cochrane

Career numbers drop him for me.

13. Quincy Trouppe

14. Cal McVey

A little undervalued, I think...but not by much.

15. Ted Simmons

A little overvalued, I think... but not by much.

16. Biz Mackey

17. Bill Freehan

These two were borderline IN for me.

The rest did not make by PHoM.

18. Buck Ewing

19. Charlie Bennett

20. Roger Bresnahan
   11. Chris Cobb Posted: April 29, 2008 at 01:06 PM (#2762162)
The rest did not make by PHoM.

18. Buck Ewing


!!!???!!!???!!!

This is simply indefensible.
   12. Rusty Priske Posted: April 29, 2008 at 05:35 PM (#2762514)
Indefensible? Go back to the 1902 ballot when voter after voter were saying 'overrated'. Why was he still elected despite all those people saying he was overrated? Easy. It was early in the process and the ballot was not yet deep. Now that we have a whole lot more years included, there are a number of catchers who came after him that were better. By my estimation there were 17 of them. James had him at #17 in the catcher rankings. If you take out the current players that would have him at 14 or 15 (from memory). I'm not much below that.

Obviously your opinion is different, but 'indefensible' is a huge overstatement.
   13. ronw Posted: April 30, 2008 at 05:14 PM (#2764208)
Catchers ranking – MVP/AS are my own calculations, but for Negro Leaguers I use some combination of Holway/James MVP and AS selections.

1. Josh Gibson – 11 MVP, 13 AS, 35.6 bWS/700PA (from MLE). Positive: All-Time great hitter. Negative: May not have been a fantastic fielding catcher.

2. Yogi Berra – 6 MVP, 13 AS, 22.4 bWS/700PA. Positive: Durable and versatile. Negative: Played for best team in a relatively weak league.

3. Johnny Bench – 4 MVP, 13 AS, 20.6 bWS/700PA. Positive: One of the best fielding and power hitting catchers ever. Negative: Not a big OBP machine.

4. Bill Dickey – 2 MVP, 14 AS, 21.6 bWS/700PA, very slight war credit. Positive: Great all-around catcher. Negative: Always platooned, affecting PT.

5. Carlton Fisk – 3 MVP, 14 AS, 18.1 bWS/700PA. Positive: Played forever. Negative: Big seasons generally came with low PT.

6. Buck Ewing – 1 MVP, 11 AS, 22.5 bWS/700PA. Positive: Durable, especially for 19th century. Negative. No huge offensive seasons.

7. Deacon White – 2 MVP, 13 AS, 18.4 bWS/700PA (missing NA years from bWS/700PA). Positive: Played forever. Negative: Many big seasons came in short-schedule early days.

8. Louis Santop – 7 MVP, 7 AS, (from Holway, etc.). Positive: Fantastic hitter. Negative: Never got to play in MLB.

9. Gary Carter – 5 MVP, 10 AS, 16.7 bWS/700PA. Positive: Good fielding and hitting for a substantial period of time. Negative: No outstanding offensive season.

10. Gabby Hartnett – 0 MVP, 13 AS, 20.7 bWS/700PA. Positive: Hitting. Negative: Playing time.

11. Mickey Cochrane – 1 MVP, 10 AS, 21.8 bWS/700PA. Positive: On base machine. Negative: Beaned while still a productive player.

12. Roy Campanella – 2 MVP, 9 AS, 20.0 bWS/700PA (includes 2 Negro League All-Star seasons). Positive. Outstanding power for a catcher. Negative: Missing early years.

13. Ted Simmons – 2 MVP, 13 AS, 17.5 bWS/700PA. Positive: Great hitter through 1983. Negative: Defense.

14. Cal McVey 2 MVP, 9 AS, 22.9 bWS/700PA (missing NA years from bWS/700PA). Positive: Fabulous hitter. Negative: Quit too early.

15. Joe Torre – 2 MVP, 9 AS, 20.5 bWS/700PA. Positive: Terrific hitter. Negative: Not enough time as a catcher.

16. Roger Bresnahan – 1 MVP, 10 AS, 22.7 bWS/700PA. Positive: On-base monster. Negative: Playing time.

17. Bill Freehan – 2 MVP, 10 AS, 17.8 bWS/700PA. Positive: Defense. Negative: Nothing spectacular offensively.

18. Biz Mackey – 2 MVP, 8 AS, 12.8 bWS/700PA (from MLE). Positive: Defense and longetivity. Negative: Low MLE offense.

19. Charlie Bennett – 1 MVP, 6 AS, 15.9 bWS/700PA. Positive: Remarkable fielder. Negative: Played in a tough era for catchers regarding playing time.

20. Quincy Trouppe – 0 MVP, 3 AS (from Holway, etc.). Positive: On-base percentage. Negative: Best years outside widely-known leagues.
   14. Sean Gilman Posted: April 30, 2008 at 08:33 PM (#2764529)
Catchers:

1. Josh Gibson -- Off the charts.

2. Johnny Bench -- Best peak and most career value of all 20th century MLB catchers.

3. Yogi Berra -- WARP actually prefers Carter, but I don’t believe it.

4. Gary Carter -- Equal to Bench, according to WARP, I still don’t believe it.

5. Deacon White -- Looking at the discussion thread, I can’t believe that after all these years we still having the “a pennant is a pennant” argument.

6. Bill Dickey -- I see a clear divide between the top 5 and this next group of 6. Dickey’s the best peak/career combination of this set.

7. Buck Ewing -- Not overrated.

8. Mickey Cochrane -- Best peak of the low career value catchers.

9. Roy Campanella -- Slightly better peak than Santop.

10. Louis Santop -- His MLEs show him nearly identical to Campanella.

11. Charlie Bennett -- Underrated.

12. Ted Simmons -- Also underrated. Bigger peak gives him the edge on Fisk.

13. Carlton Fisk -- I think consecutivity matters when measuring peak, and Fisk’s up and down career and lack of in-season durability hurts him here.

14. Gabby Hartnett -- WARP has him very comparable to Fisk.

15. Cal McVey -- Would rank higher had he not quit the majors so young.

16. Joe Torre -- Multi-positionality hurts him and Bresnahan on a list like this.

17. Bill Freehan -- These next three borderliners are pretty similar. All-around solidty.

18. Quincy Trouppe -- Near as I can tell, a better peak than Mackey.

19. Biz Mackey -- Maybe the new numbers make him look better, but I can’t imagine him moving out of this borderline area.

20. Roger Bresnahan -- Not in my PHOM, though he’s been close at times.
   15. TomH Posted: May 01, 2008 at 12:01 PM (#2764905)
1) Gibson, Josh - J Foxx, if Foxx had stayed at C his whole career. Only Wagner is a clearer #1 at his position to me.
2) Bench, Johnny
3) Berra, Yogi - dadgum close to Bnech. Better hitter, and brilliant baseball man, as well as ya gotta give him credit for all of those WS titles. In times where SBs were unusual, I'd take him easily over Johnny B, but in 1910 or 1980, no way.
4) Carter, Gary
5) Hartnett, Gabby
next 4 are about tied; not sure what I'll do
6) Fisk, Carlton
7) Cochrane, Mickey
8) Ewing, Buck
9) Dickey, Bill
10) Campanella, Roy - NBJHA overrates this guy; he had some big years that system counted an awful lot.
11) White, Deacon - The diff between #4 and #11 is not large, but someone has to be 4th, and someone has to be 11th.


the 19th c and NgLgers are tough to rank....
12) Santop, Louis
13) McVey, Cal
14) Bennett, Charlie

15) Simmons, Ted
16) Torre, Joe
17) Bresnahan, Roger
18) Freehan, Bill
19) Mackey, Biz
20) Trouppe, Quincy
   16. Mark Donelson Posted: May 02, 2008 at 09:38 PM (#2766849)
I'm one of those prodigal voters, returning (where's the fatted calf?)... To remind those who don't remember, I'm a peak voter, and my system uses WS primarily for hitters, but takes into account WARP and also plain old OPS+.

1. Josh Gibson. By a lot, like everyone says. Nearly as far ahead of Berra in my system as Berra is ahead of Quincy Trouppe.

2. Yogi Berra. The extended peak/prime outweighs the defensive difference between him and Bench.

3. Johnny Bench. Amazing short peak, excellent defense. Again echoing most everyone, he and Berra are very close in overall value.

4. Roy Campanella. The remarkable peak and NeL credit put him ahead of the Carter-to-Santop pack.

5. Gary Carter. One of those superprime candidates whose numbers overwhelm my usual preference for superpeaks.

6. Mickey Cochrane. Neck-and-neck with Carter; (slightly) better peak, less career.

7. Buck Ewing. It’s hard to figure out how to fold in the 19th-century guys, particularly at this position, but the numbers we have are so overwhelming, I can’t justify putting him any lower that this. I could even see him as high as #5, but I’ll be conservative.

8. Bill Dickey. Rather Carter-like numbers overall, just a notch lower across the board. Another great prime guy.

9. Deacon White. Not a full-time catcher, but achieved an awful lot at the position. Sure, in short seasons, but a pennant is a pennant.

10. Carlton Fisk. Another great prime, which seems the theme of most great catchers, due to durability and exhaustion issues.

11. Louis Santop. Based on the MLEs, he comes out very similar to Fisk, with slightly less career value. Last guy in an extremely tight pack from 5 to 11.

12. Gabby Hartnett. His argument seems more career-oriented to me than most of these guys’. Good but not flabbergasting peak, excellent defense.

13. Ted Simmons. Close to Hartnett purely on offense, but defense separates them by quite a bit.

14. Charlie Bennett. Adjustments for playing time leave him here.

15. Joe Torre. Sure, not a catcher for long and not that good a catcher when he was one. But the bat alone gets him above the just-made-it group.

16. Bill Freehan. Yes, only borderline, but really much, much better than he’s ever gotten credit for being.

17. Cal McVey. Very short career limits how high I can put him, but behind the usual 19th-century haze, there’s a remarkable hitter.

18. Quincy Trouppe. Similar to Torre, but not (apparently) quite the hitter.

19. Roger Bresnahan. Low on playing time, especially at catcher, but he still hit well enough for enough of the time to belong.

20. Biz Mackey. He made my pHOM at the time, but after revamping my system a bit I’ve come to the conclusion he was a mistake. He’s the only HOM catcher I wouldn’t vote for now.
   17. Jim Sp Posted: May 03, 2008 at 12:58 AM (#2767047)
well, all, it doesn't look like i'll be able to put in full comments.

if this is acceptable given my previous comments in the yearly election posts please count this ballot, if not then I'll just post it for discussion.

1. Josh Gibson--i came out of this project convinced that he was clearly the best catcher ever
2. Johnny Bench
3. Carter
4. Berra
5. Hartnett
6. Fisk
7. Dickey
8. Cochrane
9. Santop
10. Ewing
11. Campanella
12. White--here and above are the "no doubt about it" catchers for my HoM.
13. Bennett--a little doubt, but not much
14. Simmons--
15. Freehan
16. Bresnahan
17. Mackey--Mackey and below I have serious doubts about.
18. Torre
19. McVey
20. Trouppe
   18. caiman Posted: May 03, 2008 at 03:25 AM (#2767468)
Hi All,

I(Mike Gimbel)just joined this site tonight after seing some responses to my article on the "Blacklisting" of Barry Bonds. After posting my belated response there, I looked at the current list of topics and saw this one. Hope that you don't mind my contributions!

I've rated every hitter with at least a career total of 500 AB's and every pitcher with a career total of at least 125 IP's in MLB from 1900-2006 using my RPA formula. The RPA formula had to be modified due to the lack of sufficient data. I had to only use those pieces of data that were common for the entire period. That left out all defensive data that I use to rate current players since there is no comparable data for all those years. Therefore no defensive data was used in these ratings. Only offensive data was used but this was unavoidable if I did not want to bring in subjective ratings into my objective ratings. That is something that I could and would not do.

All my ratings use an annualized league and stadium adjustment with the normal being set at a .115 RPA (Runs per Plate Appearance). In order to compare the offensive contribution of each player at each position, I compared that player to the .115 RPA standard and multiplied that by his computed plate appearances. For example, let's take a player that had a career offensive .150 RPA over 1000 AB's. The difference (.150 minus .115) is .035 runs times 1000 for a difference of +35 runs of value. The following list of the top hitting catchers is for the player's entire career production in terms of plus runs produced (as per above example), which includes games played at other positions, together with the total plus runs produced:

Player & Run Value
1. Mike Piazza 437.762
2. Johnny Bench 340.705
3. Joe Torre 327.884
4. Yogi Berra 310.300
5. Gene Tenace 291.541
6. Bill Dickey 256.749
7. Gabby Hartnett 256.111
8. Ted Simmons 251.881
9. Gary Carter 246.024
10. Mickey Cochrane 238.209
11. Carlton Fisk 224.397
12. Mickey Tettleton 216.990
13. Roy Campanella 196.152
14. Ernie "The Schnozz" Lombardi 194.055
15. Jorge Posada 175.752
16. Darrell Porter 164.662
17. Ivan Rodriguez 164.316
18. Mike Stanley 160.495
19. Wally Schang 153.196

--Mike Gimbel
   19. Srul Itza Posted: May 03, 2008 at 03:43 AM (#2767520)
Dear Mike:

Welcome aboard.

I hope you have a thick skin.

Illegitemi Non Carborundum
   20. OCF Posted: May 03, 2008 at 04:08 AM (#2767562)
Welcome aboard.

I hope you have a thick skin.


Indeed, welcome aboard. And I'll cast the first criticism. As a ballot counter, I'll say that I can't count this. This particular ballot is not a regular Hall of Merit election but rather a ranking of those who have already been elected to the Hall of Merit in previous regular elections. The full list is at the top of this thread.

The problems:

1. Piazza, Posada, and Rodriguez are not yet eligible for election.

2. Tenace, Tettleton, Lombardi, Porter, Stanley, and Schang have not been elected to the Hall of Merit. (I am someone who has had Tenace on my ballots occasionally - but he doesn't get a lot of support.)

3. This one is the big sticking point. Participants in this project must be willing to consider Negro League and 19th century player, and not merely consider them on separate lists but compare them straight up and fairly with the better-documented 20th century major league players.

As a comment: your list seems to have a very strong dependence on offense and a very weak dependence on defense at catcher. The big tipoffs are the very high ratings for Torre and Tenace, neither of whom were particularly close to being full-career catchers. That Tettleton is even on the list is another marker in the same direction. (Although Bench over Berra suggests that you're assigning some value to defense.)
   21. OCF Posted: May 03, 2008 at 04:28 AM (#2767578)
OK, now I see that it was all offense - so it makes sense. And Bench does rank ahead of Berra in your offensive system.

But if you want to vote, you will have to find a way to consider defense, and to adjust for differing season lengths, and you will have to cope ranking players for whom you don't have all the statistical evidence that you'd like to have.
   22. caiman Posted: May 03, 2008 at 06:06 AM (#2767633)
There is no way to measure defense based on the data available for the period in question. Any attempt to do so cannot be defended as valid. The good defensive data available is only from about the last 15 to 20 years, at most. This is even more so for catchers than for any other position because the main responsibility of the catcher is calling the game, not throwing out runners. Strong armed catchers are usually highly over-rated on defense. They tend to over attend to the runner on base and less to the hitter, essentially negating the value of their throwing ability.

My list above has nothing to do with the "Hall of Merit" list above because I can't rate players without a basis to do so. The Negro League players were every bit as good as the MLB players but I have not attempted to evaluate their play because there is even less reliable data available than for the MLB players. I believe that Josh Gibson was probably the best catcher ever, but that must remain my belief. My list, above, is published here to add information only about MLB catchers to the discussion. Please do not count it as a vote! I am not a member of this project, especially since I was never aware of its existence. I did a lot of work to normalize all the data from season to season and stadium to stadium within each season. The result is what I found, nothing more. Again, my message was posted purely for informational purposes. It is not a vote.

--Mike Gimbel
   23. Rick A. Posted: May 03, 2008 at 03:41 PM (#2767749)
Catcher's Ballot

1. Josh Gibson - Clear #1
2. Yogi Berra - Razor-thin margin between Berra and Bench. Went wil Berra's greater peak value.
3. Johnny Bench
4. Carlton Fisk - Long career. Another close call between him and Carter.
5. Gary Carter
6. Buck Ewing- Greatest 19th century catcher.
7. Roy Campanella
8. Deacon White - Full career at catcher would have helped.
9. Mickey Cochrane - His peak value lifts him over Dickey and Hartnett. Hey, I'm a peak voter.
10. Bill Dickey
11. Gabby Hartnett
12. Louis Santop - Greatest Negro League catcher not named Gibson.
13. Ted Simmons - Further down than I thought I'd have him. Little more peak value would move him up some. Great career value.
14. Cal McVey - Great hitter.
15. Joe Torre - Defense keeps him down here. Very close between 15-19.
16. Quincy Trouppe - Versatile.
17. Biz Mackey - Decent hitter, great defense.
18. Charlie Bennett
19. Bill Freehan
(Elston Howard)
(Thurman Munson)
Roger Bresnahan
<b>--------------------------------------------PHOM line------------------------------------------
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 05:51 PM (#2767811)
Election to end Sunday night at 8 p.m. EDT, unless another time is more convenient for John Murphy and the ballot counters.

I'm thinking maybe another week to end it, since I didn't even realize we setting this up already while studying for real estate classes and work in general. IOW, unless there's a herculean effort on my part, I doubt it's ending tomorrow. :-)
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 06:36 PM (#2767841)
Of course, it had to be another 20-man ballot election to short circuit my ballot-counter again...

Any specific reason why the tried-and-true 15-man ballot was no good for this project?

(sigh)

Make it three weeks (no, I'm somewhat kidding, but...)
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2767843)
Unless someone can construct a better ballot-counter to handle 20-man ballots, I might have to consider letting someone else handle the chore after this election. Too much of a pain in the ass.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 07:04 PM (#2767863)
I doubt he would have remained long at catcher in the major leagues (note that Jimmie Foxx didn't), but since playing in the Negro Leagues he did catch for his whole career, he is far and away the best of all time at that position.


That about sums it up.
   28. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 07:06 PM (#2767867)
Howie, I just sent one last week, not sure how well it would be received to send another one


I never saw it, Joe, though I got an e-mail with jimd's ballot included a day ago.
   29. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#2767875)
Unless Joe objects, I'm going to change the deadline from tomorrow to next Sunday at 8 PM (is a Mother's Day deadline going to be a problem?) Since we had two-week elections with the Special Groups recently, this shouldn't be a problem.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 07:31 PM (#2767885)
Indefensible? Go back to the 1902 ballot when voter after voter were saying 'overrated'.


Overrated in the sense of Ewing being the greatest player of his era and even all-time (some were stating the latter in the Ruth era)? Certainly. Overrated in the sense that Ewing wasn't a great player? That's a different story, Rusty.
   31. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 07:36 PM (#2767895)
--Mike Gimbel


The Mike Gimbel?

Welcome!

There's no way for you to say this with even the least amount of certainty, you know.


Surprisingly, Chris Dial has taken over Kevin's screen name. ;-)
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2767925)
This is jimd's ballot:

Catchers:

1) Josh Gibson -- Legendary!

2) Johnny Bench -- Best MLB catcher.

3) Yogi Berra -- Very close to Bench. Might argue he was ahead due to contraction.

4) Gary Carter -- Surprised he came up this high.

5) Deacon White -- Catcher was more difficult then.

6) Bill Dickey -- Best of the 30's trio.

7) Roy Campanella -- With NeL credit.

8) Mickey Cochrane -- Higher peak than Hartnett.

9) Gabby Hartnett -- Longer career. These two are very close in my rankings.

10) Carlton Fisk -- Lack of peak hurts in my rankings.

11) Luis Santop -- Great NeL catcher overshadowed by Gibson.

12) Buck Ewing -- Stats don't quite reveal the legend.

13) Ted Simmons -- Could rank higher but I don't quite believe my own ranking.

14) Joe Torre -- Hard to place.

15) Cal McVey -- Versatile.

16) Charlie Bennett -- Defensive great when it was most important.

17) Bill Freehan -- Underrated and overlooked.

18) Biz Mackey -- Borderline but in.

19) Roger Bresnahan -- Made my (revised) PHOM in the 1920's drought.

20) Quincey Trouppe -- Not in my PHOM.

I would rate Howard, Munson, Schalk, Parrish, and Schang as below but competitive with the marginal electees from the above list.
   33. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: May 03, 2008 at 08:55 PM (#2767979)
kevin, I know in my formula a lot of the catchers rated between about 5-13 were almost interchangeable. If I'd decided to weight career over peak by just a little, my ballot would look a lot different in the middle. I think that was common for most of us.
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 08:56 PM (#2767980)
You really think Dickey was better than Cochrane, John?


Read the top of post #33 again, Kevin. ;-)
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: May 03, 2008 at 09:39 PM (#2768003)
Wasn't Cochrane regarded more highly when they were both playing than Dickey was?

Dickey reached his peak after Cochrane's career was ended by the beaning. Clearly, when they were both active, Cochrane was the better player, but Dickey's best was yet to come.

Didn't Cochrane win two MVP awards?

So did Roy Campanella. The MVP is not, on its face, a trustworthy award.

And weren't the early 30's A's as impressive as just about any team ever, and Cochrane was considered a central element of that?

Yes. They were almost as good as the late 30's Yankees, of which Dickey was a major part.

And didn't Cochrane continue to have stellar success when he moved on to Detroit?

Yes. And Dickey continued to have stellar success as long as his career lasted.

Demonstrating that Cochrane was a great player is easy: he was. Clearly demonstrating that he was superior to Dickey is hard, and none of these argument do that. Voters who weight career significantly will seldom prefer Cochrane to Dickey, and Cochrane's peak advantage is not very large. If Mark Donelson, peak voter extraordinaire, has Cochrane just two slots ahead of Dickey, that's a pretty clear indication that voters who are not very peak heavy will generally prefer Bill Dickey. Most voters so far have them within two or three places of each other in the rankings, so neither the career voters nor the peak voters see one as far better than the other.
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 09:49 PM (#2768006)
Well, yeah, I saw that after I was locked out of editing, John. But still, it seems most people are rating Cochrane too low.

I actually will have Cochrane higher than Dickey myself whenever I get my ballot posted.
   37. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 03, 2008 at 10:22 PM (#2768029)
I have Dickey and Cochrane literally tied, at $213 mil each.
   38. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 11:33 PM (#2768087)
1) Josh Gibson-C (n/e): The greatest catcher of all-time, IMO. Nuff said. Estimated best major league catcher for 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1946.

2) Yogi Berra-C/LF/RF (n/e): Best ML catcher of the fifties. Inner-circle HoMer. Best ML catcher for 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, close in 1958, and 1959. Best AL catcher for 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1958, and 1960.

3) Johnny Bench-C/3b (n/e): The greatest all-around backstop that I ever saw. Best major league catcher for 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, (close in 1975), and 1976. Best NL catcher for 1975.

4) Deacon White-C/3b (n/e): Excellent peak and very long career have to place him high on the ballot. Best ML catcher for 1873, 1874, 1875 and 1879. Best ML first baseman for 1877.

5) Gary Carter-C (n/e): One of the true greats, I'm happy to place his name this high. I don't think he ever played a game not full-bore. Best ML catcher for 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1986. Best NL catcher for 1979 and 1983.

6) Roy Campanella-C (n/e): His great peak and fairly long career of quality play for a catcher allow him to be this high on my ballot. Best major league catcher for 1949, 1951, 1953, and 1955. Best NL catcher for 1948, 1950, and 1952.

7) Mickey Cochrane-C (n/e): Immense peak and prime makes up for a relatively short career. Best major league catcher for 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933 (close in 1934). Best AL catcher for 1928, 1934 and 1935.

8) Gabby Hartnett-C (n/e): Greater than Dickey, IMO. Best NL catcher for 1924, 1932, 1933 and 1937. Best major league catcher for 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930, close in 1931, 1934 and 1935.

9) Buck Ewing-C/1B/RF/3B (n/e): Greatest player who caught during the 1880s. Best catcher for 1884, 1885, 1886 (arguable), 1888, and 1890.

10) Carlton Fisk-C (n/e): The Energizer bunny of catchers. Great player when he was healthy as a youngster. Best AL catcher for 1972, 1974, 1985 and 1988. Best ML catcher for 1977, 1978 and 1983.

11) Bill Dickey-C (n/e):Is he a HoMer? What a silly question! However, a little overrated, IMO. Best major league catcher for 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941 and 1943 (though Gibson is estimated as better for all of those years except '38). Best AL catcher for 1942.

12) Louis Santop-C (n/e): Greatest catcher of his era, black or white.

13) Cal McVey-C/1B/RF/3B (n/e): Never had a bad season during his career. Might deserve to rank higher - that's how good he was. Best ML catcher for 1877. Best ML third baseman for 1878. Best ML first baseman for 1876.

14) Ted Simmons-C/DH/1B (n/e): One of the most underrated players ever, glad to see that he's a HoMer. Best NL catcher for 1977 and 1978 (very close to being the best in the majors for both years).

15) Joe Torre-C/1B/3B (n/e): An outstanding multipositional player, he's a deserving HoMer. Best NL catcher for 1964. Best ML catcher for 1966 (close in 1965). Best ML third baseman for 1971.

16) Roger Bresnahan-C/CF (n/e): Greatest catcher of the Deadball Era not named Santop. The poor man's Buck Ewing. Best major league catcher for 1905, 1906, and 1908. Best major league centerfielder for 1903.

The last four weren't on my ballot when they were inducted:

17) Bill Freehan-C: I feel bad that he never made my ballot, since I think he wasn't that far off from greatness.

18) Quincey Trouppe-C (n/e): Like Freehan, always close to making my ballots.

19. Biz Mackey-C (n/e): Long career, but not enough peak for me.

20) Charlie Bennett-C: Even giving him a catcher bonus, I don't see him as a great player.
   39. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 03, 2008 at 11:38 PM (#2768089)
Estimated best major league catcher for 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1946.

He couldn't get it done in '38? Gibson sucks.
   40. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2008 at 11:39 PM (#2768090)
He couldn't get it done in '38? Gibson sucks.


Yeah, that's my take on Gibson, too. ;-)
   41. DanG Posted: May 04, 2008 at 12:15 AM (#2768106)
He couldn't get it done in '38? Gibson sucks.

Gotta discount those war years, too.
   42. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 04, 2008 at 12:20 AM (#2768110)
1. Josh Gibson - Yeah. Top 15-20 overall.

2. Johnny Bench
3. Yogi Berra - Virtually even. Gave Bench the edge due to defense.

4. Gary Carter - Fisk with a better peak.
5. Carlton Fisk

6. Roy Campanella - Excellent hitter, career cut short.

7. Bill Dickey
8. Gabby Hartnett - About even, Dickey was a little more durable.

9. Mickey Cochrane - Short career keeps him from being higher

10. Deacon White
11. Ted Simmons
12. Buck Ewing
13. Joe Torre

White and Torre only get partial catcher bonus.

14. Quincy Trouppe
15. Louis Santop - Coincidentaly two negro leaguers end up side by side. Trouppe had more career, Santop had more peak.

16. Bill Freehan
17. Roger Bresnahan

---PHOM Line---

18. Cal McVey - Hell of a hitter, didn't play long.
19. Charlie Bennett - A nice 6 year run, but that's not enough
20. Biz Mackey - Meh.
   43. Tiboreau Posted: May 04, 2008 at 04:10 AM (#2768269)
Chris Cobb: Yes. And Dickey continued to have stellar success as long as his career lasted.

kevin: Well, not really. He started to perceptibly decline a few years before WWII and got a bump by playing in a talent-depleted league.

Cochrane's last full season was '35 (the career-ending beaning occurs 2 years later); Dickey had his best seasons after '35 (his top 4 OPS+ and 5 of his top 6 were posted from '36 to '40).

Also, considering he missed 2 of the 3 WWII seasons ('43 to '45) that were "talent-depleted," I don't think he received any "bump."
   44. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 04, 2008 at 06:11 AM (#2768310)
And now my old habit of getting rid of the stats of players post-induction comes back to bite me. Oh well.

1. Josh Gibson. No real question for me on this one. Nobody hit like him, simple as that.
2. Johnny Bench. Very close with Berra, gets the nod because he had more of his value as a catcher.
3. Yogi Berra. Not that people don't know he's great, but you wonder if the "Yogi-ism" rep has obscured how good he was. He didn't make the 1969 Centennial team (the only one I could find before Bench)
4. Carlton Fisk. His durability was pretty unique, even among this crew. His peak's a bit behind some, but he makes up for it.
5. Gary Carter. Surprised he was this high, but his peak is more impressive than I'd realized.
6. Roy Campanella. I think his extended Negro League experience shows his durability, even if all the time wasn't MLE-worthy. And he had some excellent years.
7. Buck Ewing. Yes, he didn't catch that much. But you don't get named the best player of the 19th Century for nothing. And the man could hit.
8. Gabby Hartnett. Differentiating between him, Cochrane and Dickey is tough. He was the most consistent of the three, though.
9. Bill Dickey. Yes, it took a while before he hit his peak, but it does look slightly better than Cochrane's.
10. Mickey Cochrane. Again, these 3 are close, and Cochrane had the shortest career.
11. Deacon White. Played for a very long time, and was the best catcher of his era.
12. Louis Santop. His defense may have been a little shaky, but he hit enough to make it worthwhile.
13. Joe Torre. An excellent hitter, suffers a bit because he didn't play enough at catcher, and his defense wasn't great.
14. Ted Simmons. Just behind Torre, similar player but didn't quite have his peak.
15. Charlie Bennett. This may be a bit high, but I did have him ahead of McVey when they were both on the ballot. Not as good as Ewing, but clearly ahead of everyone else in his era.
16. Bill Freehan. His better fielding still leaves him behind the contemporary Torre.
17. Cal McVey. One of the best players of his era, but he just didn't last that long.
18. Quincey Trouppe. A very long career, hit pretty well. If you fully accepted the MLEs, he should probably be higher, but they have him playing too much.
19. Biz Mackey. In my PHoM, but in the bottom 10%. An outstanding fielder and a long career, but his hitting just wasn't that great.
(19A Elston Howard.)
20. Roger Bresnahan. Not in my PHoM. Just not a long enough career, and not enough time spent at catcher.

Munson, Schang and Lombardi are the next 3.
   45. bjhanke Posted: May 04, 2008 at 10:34 AM (#2768326)
Um, hi.My name is Brock Hanke. Don Malcolm told me about the Hall of Merit, but this is the first time I've posted here. I hope this is allowed, and that I'm not breaking HoM rules or anything. If I am, please let me know. Thanks.

1a. Buck Ewing
Played a completely different position than catcher is now; at the time, a catcher absolutely had to have speed to chase down all the errant pitches. Ewing was, apparently, the fastest, among other strengths. The first catcher to be moved off the spot because his team needed his bat in the order every day more than they needed him to play catcher (this and the very short playing schedules of his time are why he has so few games played at catcher). It wasn't for lack of glove. I have a set of 1800s guides, and my readings of what defensive stats are there for catchers is that Charlie Bennett was the Gold Glove catcher of Ewing's time, except for throwing arm, and Ewing was second-best. Ewing's arm was clearly the best of any catcher of his time; Bennett is a contender for second.

His hitting doesn't look like that much, until you compare it to his peers, who scored runs by hitting into errors as often as not. In his time, Ewing was a top power/speed guy; I would speculate somewhere between Bobby and Barry Bonds, if you made the massive era adjustments. So, in general, I visualize Ewing as one of the Bondses, with Johnny Bench's glove and arm attached. Does that explain the ranking? You might not agree, but that's the picture I get.

If I am not mistaken, Ewing holds two odd records. I believe he is the person - not just catcher - to have led his league in home runs while playing the lowest percentage of his team's games played. I believe the same is true for triples. Please note that Bill James says that he had Ewing ranked no lower than 5th until he made some of his subjective adjustments, based on playing time at catcher. I obviously think the adjustments were wrong to make.

1b. Or Josh Gibson
Essentially, Roy Campanella's good years (which are tremendous) without the bad ones (which were pretty bad). If you think about it, that's the best catcher of the 20th century. The only caveat is that he might not have been able to stay at catcher in 154-game Major League seasons. I have no idea whether that is true or not, but it gets said.

1c. Or Yogi Berra
I have nothing to say that hasn't been said a thousand times already. Impossible to compare in detail to Ewing or Gibson, due to differences in playing conditions. Ranked "behind" Gibson and Ewing because I listed the three of them chronologically. Biggest weakness was not taking his walks.

4. Johnny Bench
I spent some time thinking about Bill James' inability to find a ranking system that would give Bench an A+ on defense, which he certainly deserves, based on his individual skills. However, there is the question of value to the team. Essentially, the trouble with ranking Bench systematically is that he didn't throw out that many base stealers, because no one would run on his cannon. But think about it - isn't that reality for his team? An offense can always reduce the value of a catcher's base-stealer arm to nothing by simply not attempting any steals. Well, that's real value not lost by the offense, nor gained by Bench's Reds. It's reality. In reality, Bench is "only" an A- or B+ at throwing base stealers out, because he doesn't get that many chances. It's not his fault - his arm was, if anything, too wonderful - but the game is set up so that an offense can neutralize that strength. That's not Bench's fault, either, but it is part of reality for the Reds of his time.

5. Mickey Cochrane
The only catcher on this list who I am absolutely certain could have succeeded at catcher in any time or league of baseball. Enough power, exceptional speed, took his walks, Gold Glove with top arm. There's no weaknesses for the 19th century or the Negro Leagues or the modern game to exploit. Career cut short by beaning.

6. Roy Campanella
In his good years, Josh Gibson. In his bad years, almost a drag on the offense. Always great defense.

7. Gabby Hartnett
Defense is off the chart. Offense may have been helped by his ballparks, but I can't be sure until I see some ballpark adjustments made separately for right and left-handed hitters.

8a. Biz Mackey
According to what I've read, the very best defensive catcher of the Negro Leagues. A fine hitter, but not absolutely tremendous. That's the exact same set of credentials that Charlie Bennett offers, except it's 19th century instead of Negro Leagues.

8b. or Charlie Bennett
The Biz Mackey of the 19th century.

10. Carlton Fisk
A top catcher by any standards. Here, where everyone was a top catcher, career length is what he has to sell. It's a large offering.

11. Ted Simmons
Average defense. The baserunners of his time kept pushing and pushing his arm until they reached the break-even point where the caught stealings evened out the stolen bases. That is, there are seasons where Simmons's arm was worth almost as much to the Cards as Bench's was to the Reds, due to the oddity of the offense being able to choose whether to run or not. If you don't think this way, but want to rank his individual arm skill, move him down a few spots. As a hitter, he's pretty much Mickey Cochrane without the walks, adjusted for time period. Maybe more power than Mickey.

12. Gary Carter
Fisk, Simmons, Carter, and Dickey are so close in my mind that I can't sort them out really well. I could just as well have had them as 10a, b, c, and d.

13. Bill Dickey
I drop him below most people because he gets an unjustified ride from having his ballpark adjustments made from numbers that don't distinguish between left and right handed hitters. His trick of hitting fly balls right down the right field line for homers isn't really available to righties.

14. Louis Santop
Could rank higher, depending on what his bat turns out to have really been worth. This is the impression I get right now, based on what I've read.

15. Joe Torre
Moved out from behind the plate because he could not actually play catcher. Ted Simmons was not moved because he actually could catch, although he was in no danger of winning Gold Gloves. If you look at his hitting stats as a catcher compared to elsewhere, you'll end up moving him below Simmons, too.

16. Quincy Trouppe
The impression I get from what I've read is that Trouppe was just a tad weaker than Santop.

17. Bill Freehan
If he could have run a little faster, and if he'd played in the 1880s, he'd have been Charlie Bennett. But he's one skill short, and it's a big one for Bennett's ranking.

18. Deacon White
My opinion, which you may not agree with, is that he is outmatched by this group, and doesn't really belong here.

x. Cal McVey
Not really a career catcher. The first great multi-position player that I know of. Should be compared to Martin Dihigo, rather than Josh Gibson. That is, I don't have him ranked 19th; I have him ranked as not-a-catcher.

x. Roger Bresnahan
Again, really a multi-spot star. I tend to think of him as the last of the great 1900s catchers, who needed all that speed. I'd compare him to Craig Biggio, rather than to a bunch of career catchers. Again, this ranking is as not-a-catcher.
   46. sunnyday2 Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:04 AM (#2768329)
I'll bite. As a pre-emptive strike, I'll say that Brock's ballot looks fine to me and ought to be accepted. Obviously he has thought things through and it's a well considered ballot.

BUT.

If I were a ballot-counter, I'd want a clarification. Should Ewing, Gibson and Bench be counted as all 3 tied for 2nd place? Or should they be counted as Ewing 1, Gibson 2 and Bench 3?

Ditto Mackey and Bennett. Do you want them to be considered to be tied for 8th place, or Mackey 8 and Bennett 9?

And finally, is McVey #19 and Bresnahan #20? I don't think our procedure allows them to be not-on-the-ballot.

So Brock, if you see this: It ain't really up to me, but I think this is what the powers-that-be are gonna say. I hope they don't say, BTW, that a ballot that has Deacon White at #18 is "indefensible." It's not mainstream, but not only is it defensible but Brock has defended his choices better than most of the rest of us.
   47. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:32 AM (#2768332)
First of all, Brock, welcome!

Secondly, you're right, Marc. Brock needs to get rid of the ties and McVey and Bresnahan must be on the ballot or else the ballot will be disqualified..
   48. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:48 AM (#2768333)
18. Deacon White
My opinion, which you may not agree with, is that he is outmatched by this group, and doesn't really belong here.


Since White was a better player than Ewing, Brock, I disagree.

First of all, we take into account his NA years years. Secondly, White wrongly gets lumped in with the third basemen because his years as a catcher are not prorated due to the much shorter schedules (of course, his stats need to be somewhat regressed after proration). Unquestionably, he was much more valuable as a backstop than he was at the hot corner.

White sailed in the first year he was eligible to the HoM, BTW.

As for McVey and Bresnahan, they created their greatest value as catchers.

White, IMO, is one of the HOF's serious omissions.
   49. Paul Wendt Posted: May 04, 2008 at 01:18 PM (#2768342)
4. Johnny Bench
I spent some time thinking about Bill James' inability to find a ranking system that would give Bench an A+ on defense, which he certainly deserves, based on his individual skills. However, there is the question of value to the team.


BJ assigns fielding grades for career averages which can explain some anomalies.
Probably Bench is not an example. Digesting the same data with Clay Davenport sees almost no decline for Bench, only the 1980 season. Rather consistent throughout 1967-1979.
Johnny Bench, DT card (See Fielding Statistics as Catcher, Rate
   50. Paul Wendt Posted: May 04, 2008 at 01:41 PM (#2768347)
The first catcher to be moved off the spot because his team needed his bat in the order every day more than they needed him to play catcher (this and the very short playing schedules of his time are why he has so few games played at catcher). It wasn't for lack of glove.
Moved off catcher? Do you mean for the 1887 season?
Or for 1892-1896? Davenport thinks he had declined as a catcher by 1892, from super to average. He had missed most of the 1891 season and he was moved off catcher to first. When he shared catcher with Bill Holbert in Troy, 1880-1882, he had played short and third when not catching. Do you think he was still "the same player".

(He proved to be immensely valuable. Cleveland traded George Davis for him, Ewing looking forward to one more good year and Davis to fourteen.)
   51. bjhanke Posted: May 04, 2008 at 03:30 PM (#2768392)
I have to get to bed, but I thought I'd kick in a couple of comments, since you guys were so welcoming and not at all hostile. I didn't know about the ties rule or the everybody gets a vote rule. Responding to those, I'll rank the #1s Gibson, Ewing, Berra, although I think that Josh's running speed might have relegated him to a different position had he played in the 1880s. Lord knows he hit well enough to play anywhere. Mackey ahead of Bennett. Bresnahan between Santop and Torre, and McVey at the very end. The first three are coin flips, as they are so hard to compare. My impression is that Mackey was a better hitter than Bennett, and that his arm was the best in his league, not the second best. I could be wrong about that, of course. Bresnahan's walk-driven OBP is the big seller for me, plus you have to adjust up somewhat for playing during the dead ball era. McVey played 9 whole years in the bigs, including 5 in the National Association. Also, his career games are split reasonably closely among 4 positions. Catcher leads first base by all of 5 games. And no, McVey did not have a short career because he was already in his 30s by the time the Association got going. He was 20 or 21, depending on where you assign his birthday, when the NA started. He retired at the age of 29 or 30, meaning we don't have a decline phase for him at all.

I've done a little research on Buck Ewing, because I think so much more highly of him than almost everyone else does now. As far as I can tell from the sources, he was moved off catcher to keep him in the lineup two or three times: 1882, 1887, and maybe 1892, although the last is after what appears to have been a serious injury in 1891. For the others, I looked for mentions of why the moves occurred, and why teams kept moving him back to catcher, but all I can find is vague references to how good he was. There's nothing in there about having to move him because he was hurt or anything. Also, both times, they moved him to third, which indicates that he didn't have an arm-only problem that would have forced him off of catcher. In the absence of any such references, and considering his enormous value as a catcher, I concluded that the teams were doing this because he was missing games. Also, his stats during the move years are not weak, as might show up if he were hurt. It just looks like they moved him without the normal set of causes, so I use as my working hypothesis that they were trying to keep him in the lineup all day every day. Another indicator is how much of each game he was playing. In both move years, his At-bats-to-Games ratio is higher than it was the year before or would be the year after. Again, that's an indicator that he was having to leave fewer games in the middle due to split fingers or whatever. The 1892 is dicey to analyze. By then, Ewing was a star of the magnitude that can often just decide where they are going to play. Also, he was hurt bad in 1891, although his 1892 season is still clearly a Ewing season. After that, in Cleveland, he just collapses, while playing the outfield, I think due to an injury in 1894. Does that help?

As for, "Essentially, what you're saying is the only value of a catcher's arm is the extra outs the team gets by scratching baserunners. I strongly disagree with that," that's not quite correct. What I meant to say, at least, was that Bill James was having problems, and he identified the source as not being able to rate Bench's caught stealing record as highly as he thought the mans' arm should give him. That is, the artificial restriction of the effects of an arm to catching base stealers was part of the original problem as defined by Bill. I was trying to figure out where that particular problem was coming from. I claim nothing more than just that, as I haven't analyzed the entire effect of a good catching arm. You are ahead of me on that.

And I should say something about Deacon White, just because Grandma Murphy has always been a good guy whenever I've run across his work. Here are my problems: Including the NA, White played 458 games at catcher, but 826 at third. Yes, there are more games in the schedule later, when he was playing third, but the ratio is nothing like 826/458. White is primarily a third baseman. White also missed a higher percentage of his team's schedule than Ewing, although both are 1900s catchers, and so both miss some time. White is short of strong seasons. I only see three: 1875, in the NA (by far his best according to Pete Palmer), 1877 (my opinion of his likely best year) when he played mostly at first base, and 1879. To compare, using Total Baseball as a quick-and-dirty, Pete has those three years as being worth, in chronological order, 3.6, 2.3 and 2.2 TPR. He has Ewing down for 9 seasons of 2.2 or more, including 2 over 3.6. And only one of Ewing's good years is after White quit playing full time. After 1879, which is age 32, White is basically a third baseman, and not that good at it. It looks like he may have been badly hurt in midseason 1880, and that may have cost him a lot of his value, something like George Sisler (although not that strong an effect). In any case, something in or about 1880 apparently robbed him of his ability to play catcher and also of a lot of his hitting skills. Even by the standards of his time, he didn't walk, so his OBP was low, given his batting averages. He also lacked power. His defense was not among the very best in his league. I could very well be exaggerating here, but the image I get of Buck Ewing is of one of the Bondses with a cannon arm. The image I get of White is of Matty Alou with enough arm to play catcher. Well, somewhere between Alou and Sisler. I'm not comfortable with Alou, but I can't think of anyone closer off hand. I just don't see how you can match that up with Buck Ewing. The offense is weaker. The defense is weaker. He played less catcher and more third. His span of good seasons is much shorter. You may have crunched some numbers that I haven't, but I don't see it. And yes, I would love to see what the counter-argument looks like.
   52. DanG Posted: May 04, 2008 at 05:44 PM (#2768440)
Welcome Brock! It took ya long enough to find this site!

I want to express my appreciation of your effort to keep the annual abstract alive. Even if it was a one and done deal,

Brock can speak to this, but it was a lot more than one and done. Yes, the name only lasted for one year. But Brock continued the publication under the name The Baseball Sabermetric for a few years and eventually evolved into The Big Bad Baseball Annual. I think I have a complete collection, likely one of the few on board with him for a decade.

It shouldn't take long to get up to speed; start reading the six-plus years of threads.
   53. Chris Cobb Posted: May 04, 2008 at 09:42 PM (#2768712)
Probably we should move the discussion generated by Brock's ballot over to the catcher ballot discussion thread. I'll be posting there shortly.

Welcome, Brock!
   54. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 04, 2008 at 10:15 PM (#2768747)
Welcome Brock. It was good meeting you at SABR convention last year.

Regarding Deacon White, he did not play more than 7 games at 3b before he was 34 years old. He absolutely is not a 3b. He was a catcher in his prime, and played there for most of his best years.
   55. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 04, 2008 at 10:20 PM (#2768756)
Also, for our purpose, 1871-1875 counts, when White was one of the best players in the NA. We elected him first on our first ballot, which counts everyone whose career ended before 1892. I think you are vastly underrating him.
   56. Chris Cobb Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:18 PM (#2768807)
Catchers Ballot

Posting now in case the voting ends today. If we have another week, I may submit a revised ballot later.

All-Time Top 10

1. Josh Gibson. Only candidate for “greatest hitter ever” to play a demanding defensive position. Easy #1

Inner-Circle HoMers

2. Johnny Bench.
3. Yogi Berra. Bench over Berra by a smidgen: he was a greater defensive force, and played against tougher competition.

Among the best players of their generation
4. Gary Carter. Almost as good as Bench and Berra.
5. Buck Ewing. By reputation, one of the very best players of his generation. WARP’s numbers back that up, with Ewing outdistancing all his contemporaries except for the ABC boys. So I am ranking him with the catchers who were among the top stars in their leagues. Fisk’s statistical total in my system is almost a dead ringer for Carter’s, but I think those who rank Fisk somewhat lower for his lack of contiguous peak due to frequent injuries are accounting for something important that my system overlooks, so I will bring Ewing in above Fisk but below Carter. If I were building a team, I’d want the 1976-86 Gary Carter over any comparable stretch Fisk could give.
6. Carlton Fisk. See Ewing comment.

Obvious HoMers
7. Bill Dickey. Best combination of hitting, defense, and career among the closely packed 1930s major-league catching greats.
8. Gabby Hartnett. A tad behind Dickey. Better defensively.
9. Deacon White. Great 1870s peak, but nowhere near Barnes, Wright, Anson, during that decade. A very ordinary player in the 1880s.
10. Louis Santop. The first modern power-hitting catcher.
11. Mickey Cochrane. Not his fault his career was foreshortened, but career matters to me.
12. Roy Campanella. A few great seasons, a lot of good ones when his NeL play is included. Didn’t become a top-notch player until he started hitting for power.

Solid HoMers when you read the fine print
13. Ted Simmons. Great hitting catcher; enough defensive value.
14. Charlie Bennett. Great defensive catcher; enough batting value, especially in his fine peak.
15. Quincy Trouppe. All-around athlete, very good on offense and defense.
16. Cal McVey. Deacon White lite. Moved off catcher faster than White was because he wasn’t exceptional defensively. Short career lowers him in my rankings.
17. Joe Torre. Just enough catching to be a solid HoMer. Something of a defensive liability wherever he played.

Almost as good an argument to be out, as to be in
18. Biz Mackey. Great defensive reputation; good hitter in the 1920s. Wouldn’t have hit enough to stick in the majors after 1934 or so.
19. Bill Freehan. Very nice peak, but it’s short.
20. Roger Bresnahan. Not enough playing time or defensive value to rank higher.
   57. Kenn Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:19 PM (#2768809)
Final ballot for my favorite position. It's been a long time since I actually played baseball, but the part I enjoyed the most by the end of my little league career was

1. Gibson - The easy one
2. Bench - Lots of people mention having the group after Bench and Berra very close. I find even the B's don't get much separation. Being among the best on both sides of the plate (er, behind and beside?) gets Bench the leading position.
3. Berra - Gave Bench the nod due to defense.
4. White - I, too, had him as a 3B, but I can understand counting him as a C. What I'm certain of is that he was fantastic.
5. Hartnett - see below
6. Dickey - Hartnett & Dickey grade out almost identically, with Gabby winning on a slightly longer career.
7. Fisk - Played forever. Played well.
8. Carter - Played almost forever. Played perhaps well-er.
9. Cochrane - Didn't play forever. Played fantastically. These three obviously depend on peak/career tendencies, and I lean career. That said, Cochrane is the first real on-base machine among the catchers, which is impressive.
10. Ewing - Pulling up here in part due to reputation, in part to conditions where he was catching. Stats do tend to cast doubt.
11. Simmons - A player I'm surprised I knew so little about before reading BTF.
12. Torre - At least he'll make the HOF in some form.
13. Campanella - NeL record doesn't help much, in his case, but I also think his time was very disadvantageous for players making the transition, which should be accounted for.
14. Santop - In the stats I've seen, neither Santop nor Mackey look as good as I'd like, but I also rely on rep for NeL. Both have the rep, and Santop has the more respectable record, IMO. As such, I have him clearly in my PHOM, where Mackey is outside looking in.
15. Bresnehan - One of my favorites, though I do think his playing time is only just barely enough to be worthy of a position.
16. McVey - I'm willing to trust in his skills prior to 1871.
17. Bennett - Impressive to have played so exclusively catcher compared to his peers.
18. Freehan - On the bubble
19. Trouppe - Really hard to judge, though I think is fantastic he came to light.
20. Mackey - Not impressed by stats that I've seen. Only C on this ballot not in my PHOM
   58. bjhanke Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:21 PM (#2768810)
First off, I really really want to say thank you to you all for treating me well here. I wasn't sure what I'd get, and this is better than the high end of my hopes. Thanks! Second, it's obvious that you guys have a discussion structure here and that I don't know it. Is there another thread that has discussions regarding these ballots? Should I move my comments there? Should I have sent my entire "ballot" there, since I wasn't even aware that it might be counted? If someone would please tell me the drill as you guys are used to it, I'll try to conform until I figure it out.

Second, the history of the 1989 Baseball Abstract, which I did indeed publish (and thanks for admitting that you bought and read the thing. It's always heartwarming to hear that). I had the license from Bill James to use that name for only one year. I was also asked to co-publish with Rob Wood. Rob and I did not have the same idea of what the book should be, so we were at bad odds by the time the year as out. I wasn't about to ask Bill to let me have the name by myself, so I had to change the title. I tried several. After 7 years of this, I was going bankrupt, as the crunch time for the book (October through December) also happens to be hiring time in my field (contract technical writer), and I couldn't work those months. So I passed the torch to Don Malcolm, who published several more years under the Big Bad Baseball Annual title, which happened at 3 in the morning, when we were on the phone, I tossed out a silly idea, and Don and I both liked it. Don's books are the ones that run 500 pages; mine are the 300-page ones. The various titles include Baseball Sabermetric, Baseball Insight, and BBBA. I'd have kept Baseball Insight, except that the title was already used, by a gentleman in the gambling industry who bought my book every year, politely asked me not to use his title, and I was happy to comply. I do still have a small cache of the entire run, in case anyone collects old sabermetrics books.

Third, for Joe Dimino, who was very pleasant to deal with at the SABR con: I thought I'd get flak for ranking Ewing up there among the #1s. Deacon White surprised me. I will certainly concede that he was the greatest catcher of the 1870s - I don't see how you can argue otherwise. And I do consider the NA to be a a major league. When people ask me about 19th century analysis, I tell them that the first two things they have to do is amortize all the totals for the short schedules of the time, and then they have to decide what the timeline is for improvement of the game and apply it. You do all know about the timeline factor in James' Historical Abstract, right? Well, I know there are people who don't think it exists, but to keep matters short, I think it does, and more, I don't think it's linear. I think it needs to be treated like the parabolic curve that it's supposed to estimate. And therefore, I make large adjustments for the 1890s, massive adjustments to players in the 1880s, and REALLY massive ones for the 1870s. That's one big reason I have White as low as I do and one reason I worried about Ewing - I'm not sure I take enough gas out of his stats. The other reason is that, even within his own time, I read White's stats as those of a slap hitter who relied almost entirely on his batting average for value. I picked Matty Alou and George Sisler as comps because of the shape of their stats: high averages, low power, very low walks. I'm not going into detail about the time line here, because there's no room. I have a large essay about that topic that I need to write up and post up somewhere (in addition to deciding that the timeline was not linear, I concluded that it applies differently to individual players, since what it measures is, essentially, the magnitude of the standard deviation of performance). This is not the place for that essay. Maybe the "discussion thread" would be.

And finally, I have no problem with being the new kid in the house, but I don't want to become the new jerk in the house by posting up large responses to every post I get. When you all get tired of hearing me rant, do please let me know.

Thanks again for all of your politenesses! - Brock
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: May 04, 2008 at 11:47 PM (#2768828)
Our all-time Catching HOMer ballot, 1st in a series

1. JOSH GIBSON - Definitely an inner-circle Hall of Famer and my gut says he's just ahead of Bench. Cruel to think how close he came to having gotten a chance at The Show. Sometimes timing sucks. I expect he wins maybe unanimously. Still, Bench's defensive edge (I'm very confident of this) makes this a better battle than some see. Not sure if there isn't a small percentage of sentimentality creeping in here.

2. JOHNNY BENCH - Best 20th-century OPS+ as full-time C (166); only such C to have 6 seasons at 133 or better; also best 10th-best as fulltime C and best 12th-best as well. And might be the best defensive catcher on the board!

3. CARLTON FISK - Has the two monster seasons at C that Berra never had; 1500 extra PA, and Fisk still played a higher pct of games at C. Had 13 "fulltime C" seasons, most on the board, and all were a definite help to the team (worst is a 97). I agree that if consecutive seasons are important to you, he has to drop behind Yogi.

3. YOGI BERRA - Incrediibly, has the LOWEST 'best OPS+' for a full-time season (142) of the 20 Cs here; and only Bresnahan didn't have a higher one than Yogi's best as a full-time catcher. Plus AL stunk at times for a portion of his career compared to NL. So how does he get here? Had some quality seasons as a hybrid, but mostly because of his hard-to-beat durability. Career numbers not far behind Bench, in fact.

5. BILL DICKEY - Excellent 3- and 5-year peak, but problematic in that he had a lot of good seasons without being a true fulltime C. Partly that's a product of an era, I think, and he still was quite effective in those seasons.

6. MICKEY COCHRANE - Beats out Dickey on prime, but he just needs another year or two of solid play to move up. Best 8 seasons as a fulltime C among the best ever.

7. ROY CAMPANELLA - Again, the key is not requiring consecutive-season quality, obviously. Some Negro League credit, not massive, but enough to overcome some short-career issues if not all. I like his best-3 season argument as much as anyone here.

8. DEACON WHITE - Not sure about this one, but his 1870s numbers while catching really are impressive by any measure. Plus that puts him in the argument with a lot of players career-wise, yet he has a "second career" as well. Still, he just didn't wear-and-tear a lot at catcher in those short seasons, so I can see why people might place him lower.

9. GARY CARTER - So many of these guys offer a different but solid argument. Here, it's 'played forever, excellent peak, managed a game well.' Dragged down a little by some mediocre seasons, but the package still appeals.

10. JOE TORRE - Tough to place, as he was as good a hitter as Johnny Bench - but with minuses as a catcher, a lot of half-C seasons, some great non-C years, etc. Best 20th-century peak OPS+ (171) on the board, but he wasn't a catcher that year.

11. GABBY HARTNETT - Nice OPS+ career package (126 in 7297 PA), and I can forgive some less-full seasons a la Dickey. But this usage (only 4 true full-time C seasons) suggests to me that it SHOULD have been easier for Gabby to maintain his hitting quality - less wear and tear.

12. BUCK EWING - Maybe someday someone can prove to me more clearly how great he was defensively (obviously he was quite good), and he moves up several notches. But I'd expect slightly higher OPS+s for the era (never better than 5th in OPS+ !).

13. CHARLIE BENNETT - VERY tough to be a catcher in his time, yet Bennett has 4 big full-time C seasons and 7 overall. Well above his rivals overall.

14. LOUIS SANTOP - Tricky career. Playing opportunities for him varied greatly, he didn't always play C, some winter ball, etc. I see him as a solid backstop with great power, not sure if I can give him a long prime though.

15. CAL MCVEY - Phenomenal hitter year after year, not as much at C as would have helped here. If he'd have known we'd be following it 130 years later, he might have stayed in the NL a little longer to move up some slots on our ballots, lol. Fascinating player.

16. TED SIMMONS - I really like the 8 120 OPS+ full/parttime seasons, and 12 at least at 110. Plus his 148-44-42-41-35-27-24 prime as a full-time C are sweet. But seems to me he was just faking it back there, and his baserunning - among the worst ever? I don't penalize for the brutal end-game of career, but this is a tough field.

17. ROGER BRESNAHAN - I like the idea of this player - field general who can play a mean CF or a mean C in a given year. Looks ok, even, in the "best OPS+s for 300+ PA or equivalent" as well. But too few full-time seasons at any position, and virtually none as an actual, you know, catcher. Not on the field often enough to rate higher.

18. QUINCY TROUPPE - Might be the toughest of all the careers to evaluate. Originally was pronounced "Troo-PAY," though for his college professor son (ah, progress) it's "Troop." Grabs this spot because Iike his hitting and he always found a place to play, somehow somewhere. Played some 3B as well, of course. Was questionable treatment in 1952 cup of coffee worth it? Yeah, got to majors, but way too little and way too late.

19. BILL FREEHAN - Tossup at the bottom. I like Freehan's D a lot, and two excellent and two more very good years as a fulltime C. I also like him when he's hitting league-average with this defense.

20. BIZ MACKEY - Not sure I ever voted for him. karlmagnus once compared him to Deacon McGuire; I still keep seeing just that comp. Really durable and really competent, but look at this field above him.
   60. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2768871)
Brock:

For every ballot that we've ever done, there's a discussion thread and then a week or two later there's a ballot thread. After there's a ballot thread, the two threads run side by side. Most of the talk goes on the discussion thread, typically, but it's not a big deal if it's here.

Are you familiar with the actual Hall of Merit? I mean, with the players that we've elected. Click on Hall of Merit and then the plaque room. Or, start with the annual ballot results. After the discussion thread and the ballot thread, there's the results thread for each year. Click on Hall of Merit and then on (I forget what it's called, shoot, I'll come back and finish).
   61. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2768873)
Important Links.
   62. Howie Menckel Posted: May 05, 2008 at 01:46 AM (#2768931)
Welcome, Brock !

this is the plaque room

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/the_hall_of_merit_plaque_room

this one is key, as it lists all the year by year voting AND results AND discussion

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/hall_of_merit_ballot_discussion_and_results_thread

and HERE, there are lists of all key candidates, among other things

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/the_baseball_hall_of_merits_important_links

Finally, here is the 2008 voting (no expiration date on candidates, so note who we like best pending the next crop (ReSmith-Walters-Leach-McGraw-Redding-Puckett-BoJohnson etc):

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/2008_results
   63. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 05, 2008 at 02:36 AM (#2768978)
If the voting ends tonight, I don't have time. Otherwise, I'll get it in by next Sunday. Either way, I'll just post my salary results for the post-1893 MLB catchers here, plus my Gibson (and adjusted Campanella) estimates using published MLE's.

1. Josh Gibson, $531M--overall, tied for #6 with Willie Mays.
(Mike Piazza, $286M)
2. Johnny Bench, $273M--overall, tied for #28 with Eddie Mathews.
3. Yogi Berra, $248M
4. Gary Carter, $244M
5. Carlton Fisk, $233M
(Iván Rodríguez, $219M)
6. Bill Dickey, $214M
7. Mickey Cochrane, $213M
8. Gabby Hartnett, $212M--wow, the 30's catchers are all dead equal in my system.
9. Roy Campanella, $205M
10. Ted Simmons, $182M
(Jorge Posada, $176M)--a slam-dunk Hall of Famer if he retired today, in my book. Last year put him way over the top.
11. Roger Bresnahan, $160M
12. Bill Freehan, $157M
=======PHoM========
(Gene Tenace, $147M)--why Torre over him again?
(Thurman Munson, $141M)
13. Joe Torre, $141M
Next would be Darrell Porter at $131M.
   64. Blackadder Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:46 AM (#2769012)
Dan, I assume this is the less peak-centric salary estimator, right?
   65. Howie Menckel Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:47 AM (#2769015)
"2. Yogi Berra - Razor-thin margin between Berra and Bench. Went wil Berra's greater peak value."

?????????????????
   66. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:48 AM (#2769016)
Indeed, it's the "consensus" one that uses an exponent of 1.5 rather than 2 and is applied to seasonal totals, not rates.
   67. Howie Menckel Posted: May 05, 2008 at 04:31 AM (#2769027)
17 ballots so far?
   68. Esteban Rivera Posted: May 05, 2008 at 05:15 AM (#2769034)
Haven't been able to post a ballot because of a heavy workload this week. If the voting is still open for this coming week, I'll get a ballot in (probably by Tuesday at the latest).
   69. bjhanke Posted: May 05, 2008 at 07:33 AM (#2769063)
I see I have some research on the HoM to do, so it may take me a while to get another post up. The only prior info I have about the organization is Don Malcolm's stories. However, there are three items that I can mention quickly, and hopefully helpfully, and get out of here with some semblance of reputation intact.

QUINCY TROUPPE - "troup - pay" - would be correct for the original language (I assume French). For those of you who don't know this, English has something called the Great Vowel Shift, which occurred in the 15th century. At that time, all our vowel values changed from the originals, which come from Europe, to the set we have now. The rest of Europe stayed with the originals. If you want to figure out how to pronounce European vowels, just use the pronunciations from Spanish, which has been completely regular about keeping the original ones intact. Changing it to "troup" is probably an attempt at Americanization. French is the worst of the European languages about keeping vowel values straight.

Charlie Bennett's defense - For the 19th century, I use the reprints of the various Reach and Spalding guides that a gentleman named Ralph Horton produced for years before he died. You may still be able to find a set somewhere. In those guides, they almost always print 4 defensive stats for catchers. Three are general defense, and one is for arms. Bennett usually leads the league in all three non-arm stats, and Ewing comes in second. The arm stat is Ewing's specialty. Bennett sometimes comes in second, and is always close to the top. I have no good method for trying to adjust these, so I just use them raw, ignoring possible ballpark effects. If anyone has 1900s defensive ballpark effect charts, I'd sure be happy to see them. I can't figure out how to make them.

McVey and White's rankings - I am beginning to strongly suspect that the real issue here is that I use much more severe timeline adjustments for the 1870s than anyone else does. That has the effect of changing the title of the debate from "How good were McVey and White" to "How do you make your timeline adjustments." So, I'm asking. What do you guys use? If you don't timeline adjust at all, that would explain the highest of the rankings. If you go with James' linear ones, but do adjust for schedule length, that would explain the rest, compared to mine. I adjust for schedule length, but then make more-than-linear adjustments for timeline.
   70. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: May 05, 2008 at 11:28 AM (#2769070)
Unless someone can construct a better ballot-counter to handle 20-man ballots, I might have to consider letting someone else handle the chore after this election. Too much of a pain in the ass.


John, I can do something in Excel and add ballots. In fact, I already worked it up this morning for the catchers, and can do the same for the others when I see what the count is (Pitchers are going to have a rather lenghty ballot, aren't they). Working 4-day weeks does help sometimes.

All I'd ask is to let me e-mail someone with the final spreadsheet and let them format the numbers for the thread.
   71. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 12:02 PM (#2769075)
Brock,

"Timeline" has always been a dirty word here. Our Constitution says that we will be "fair to all eras." We also say, "a pennant is a pennant." The 1885 pennant races and Temple Cup are just as meaningful as the 1985 pennant races and World Series. The 1985 players are not assumed to be better than 1885. I can't speak for Joe, but my take is that represents an implicit rejection of Bill James' treatment of the 19C. IOW, we normalize to 162 games, for starters.

Still, most of us use some sort of a "competition adjustment." This first and foremost means that the AA, for most of its run, is discounted. My discounts range from 0 to as much as 35 percent. The UA is discounted 65 percent. Some voters discount the early 20C NL and the post-integration AL, though I don't. The best from one era is not assumed to be inferior to the best from another, but there are "major leagues" that can be shown empirically to be inferior to other leagues at the same time and this is especially true for the 19C.

But the bigger issue is standard deviations. It clearly was easier to dominate at different times. Dan R's system is undoubtedly the most thorough on this. Others of us apply it mostly for the 19C. This is really where the "timeline" becomes legitimate, when it is empirically based rather than an a priori. Oversimplifying, but I'd say that a 175 OPS+ in 1885, e.g., is worth about a 150 in 1985. There is no assumption that the best players in 1885 are inferior to 1985, but we do know empirically that they faced inferior competition.

But if Deacon White or Buck Ewing was the best player in the world (stating this as a hypothetical e.g., not as a fact) and later Johnny Bench was the best player in the world, then they would be regarded as being more or less equals. How you would rate and rank them would be based on the details of their records, not on assumptions. I personally think Bench was better than either, but that's based on what he did, not when he played.
   72. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 05, 2008 at 01:44 PM (#2769132)
Did somebody call my name? :) Just to be clear, there is by no means a one to one inverse relationship between standard deviation and quality of play. Anytime you have a "star glut," you'll have the stronger league with the higher stdev. The factors I've shown to have a statistically significant relationship with standard deviation are things like run scoring, integration, and expansion, *NOT* league strength. But then again, I'm only going back to 1893--stdevs certainly seem to have been higher in the pitchers' box era, and quality of play might have something to do with it. I just don't know.
   73. Rusty Priske Posted: May 05, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#2769151)
Just a note about Brock's ballot...

We used to allow ties. I don't recall that they become ilegal, just that people stopped submitting them. My memory could be faulty however.
   74. Dizzypaco Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:06 PM (#2769191)
The factors I've shown to have a statistically significant relationship with standard deviation are things like run scoring, integration, and expansion, *NOT* league strength.

I was all over this general issue in the discussion thread, but just to put my two cents in one last time, I agree with Dan. Using standard deviation (which I think is a good idea) is not to make implications about the overall quality of the league. Correct me if I'm wrong, but standard deviations have been higher in the past fifteen years than they were in the '70's and '80's - its not becuase the quality of play has gone down.

There is no assumption that the best players in 1885 are inferior to 1985, but we do know empirically that they faced inferior competition.

This, I believe, is completely illogical. Either you assume that the overall competition is exactly the same in each era, or you don't. And if you believe that the level of competition was inferior in 1885 compared to 1985, there's no reason to think that the best players weren't inferior as well.

Still, most people are assuming the former, and you can still incorporate the concept of standard deviations without making any assumptions about quality of play.
   75. whoisalhedges Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2769213)
Okay, this is my first attempt at voting in a HoM thread, so here goes:

1) Gibson

2) Bench

3) Berra - I have no concerns about these rankings, and really nothing to say about them. Some may have Berra above Bench. I don't.

4) Carter - level of competition noses him over the next three.

5) Hartnett - as good a hitter as Cochrane or Dickey, maybe a better fielder, caught more games.

6) Cochrane - peak value puts him above...

7) Dickey - would probably rank higher if he weren't platooned for most of his career.

8) Fisk - consistency gives him the edge over Campy...

9) Campanella - but accounting for Negro League play makes it close.

10) Santop - I think he was the greatest catcher to play organized baseball before Hartnett.

At this point it really gets hard for me to make distinctions. All good or great players, several of whom played against lesser competition or with scarce statistical records. I have more confidence in ranking Gibson and Santop, who have generally been considered by Negro League authorities as all-time greats, than I do Trouppe or Mackey -- or, for that matter, Ewing, McVey, White, or Bennett.

11) Simmons

12) Torre - both great bats, both average in the best of times gloves.

13) Ewing - reputation counts for a lot in this ranking. And, to be fair, he didn't really have the benefit of protective equipment. Probably the best of the 19th-century catchers, but not by a great margin.

14) Trouppe - may very well have been a similar player to Simmons, but with a much better glove. It's hard to rank him higher than this, as we don't have enough numbers and he spent most of his career in the shadow of Josh Gibson. Also was shifted to the mound or outfield when Double-Duty Radcliffe (who didn't even make the HoM) was behind the plate, so his teams often seemed to consider him their #2 catcher. Still, well-regarded defensively, and a good hitter from both sides of the plate. It's hard to rank him higher than this, but part of me feels like I should.

15) Bill Freehan - MVP-caliber player in '67 and '68, 11-time All Star (though he probably only deserved 6 or 7 of those). Good defensive backstop, decent pop, got hit by a lot or pitches, caught 1500+ games.

16) Deacon White - played more at the hot corner than behind the plate, but he's listed here. Incredible longetivity for a 19th-century player (especially one who caught a third of his games). Great hitter relative to league.

***Cal McVey -- I don't know how to rank him. I pretty sure he was better than Bresnahan, probably more valuable tham Mackey and Bennett. But honestly, he could rank anywhere from #11 to #18.

Clearly there were some truly great baseball players in the 1870s, players who would have been MVP-caliber performers in today's game. But major league teams in the 1870s also had plenty of players who wouldn't make a AA roster today. I just cannot ignore the level of competition factor. So, I believe I am ranking 18th-century players fairly; but the only way to rank them fairly is to rank them conservatively. The same can be said for the Negro Leaguers, based upon the unreliable statistical record, but even a conservative approach has Josh Gibson far and away at #1.

All and any of that said, Cal McVey was a superstar, a superlative hitter who played anywhere his team needed him to. He was a better hitter relative to his leagues than Ewing, and the paucity of league games in the record is similar to the situation we face when attempting to rank Negro Leaguers: Cal McVey didn't play only 530 games in his career, he played many, many more -- just not under the auspices of the National League. And whereas it's absolutely fair to view his accomplishments in the light of much weaker competition, it's not fair to discount his accomplishments due to the short schedule of the organized major leagues.

For purposes of the vote, put me down for McVey at #17. I'm not at all sure I like that vote, though.

18) Charlie Bennett - same positives and negatives apply to Bennett as McVey, but I think McVey was probably better, though Bennett had the edge defensively.

19) Mackey - great glove, weakest bat of HoM catchers.

20) Bresnahan - top-notch player at his best, but didn't catch a lot of games for a backstop in the shin guard and glove era. Not regarded as a top-flight defender.
   76. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:39 PM (#2769216)
> I have Dickey and Cochrane literally tied, at $213 mil each.

Does Dickey get war credit?
   77. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2008 at 03:44 PM (#2769219)
> Incredible longetivity

Fantastical versatileness also.
   78. TomH Posted: May 05, 2008 at 04:04 PM (#2769237)
welcome Brock! If my memory wasn't so poor I would recall your involvement more from the late 90s.
   79. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 04:25 PM (#2769269)
I have always said that HoMers and HoFers are outliers, whose ability has little or nothing to do with the size of the player/talent pool.

The overall level of competition, of course, does have something to do--a lot to do--with the size of the talent pool. The only problem with this is that we understand the talent pool fairly poorly.

So I don't think it is illogical in the least to say that we cannot assume that the greatest players of one generation are inferior to those of another, though they probably faced inferior competition.
   80. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 04:27 PM (#2769271)
Either you assume that the overall competition is exactly the same in each era, or you don't. And if you believe that the level of competition was inferior in 1885 compared to 1985, there's no reason to think that the best players weren't inferior as well.


Just to be clear, in other words, I disagree with this.
   81. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2769320)
But the size of the talent pool determines the number of outliers. What we're doing here is ranking the outliers so determining how well they performed against which talent pool is highly relevant. I agree that it is difficult to quantify which talent pools are the best but you can make decent estimations.
   82. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 05:12 PM (#2769341)
DL, we are agreeing, sort of.

There are competition studies that purport to rate the quality of the overall talent pool year by year. Reasonable people disagree how effective the actual studies are. It seems logically possibly to do this, though the margins of error are probably pretty high. And the variances between studies says the same thing.

The size of the talent pool may very well influence (I would disagree that it determines, but it surely influences) the number of outliers. But neither does it determine the ability or value of those outliers. And even its influence on the ability and value of those outliers would by definition be smaller yet than its influence on their number.

So I agree you can make decent estimations of the talent pool. But getting from there to the value of the outliers is more art than science. As I said of Bench vs. White or Ewing, I think Bench is better, but that has more to do with the details of his record (what he did) than it does with who he played against or when.
   83. DL from MN Posted: May 05, 2008 at 05:49 PM (#2769407)
> we are agreeing, sort of

As usual.

I think the noise factor is higher on the rule/game changes than it is on the talent pool. How do you determine whether someone who caught in 1970 would be effective in 1870? Irrespective of fielding ability, was it even valuable to put a good hitter behind the plate during periods of high attrition for catchers?
   84. Dizzypaco Posted: May 05, 2008 at 06:25 PM (#2769470)
Sunnyday, there are two types of outliers. The first type of outlier is the type that exceeds the performance of those around him - a relative outlier. In every league, down to little league, there are relative outliers. In a pick-up softball league, there are relative outliers.

Then there are absolute outliers - those that would perform better than those around them, no matter when or where they played. These are clearly among the greatest players in American history. I think there is universal agreement than Josh Gibson, Johnny Bench, and Yogi Berra meet this criteria for catchers. Most of us would agree that the level of talent was not so different between the 1930's, 1950's, 1970's, and today that these three players were not true outliers.

Clearly White and Ewing were relative outliers. But were they absolute outliers? There is literally no way of knowing for sure. You cannot show with math or science that they were. You cannot point to their statistics to show that they were absolute outliers, given that the quality of the league was questionable. All that's really left is pure faith - religion if you will, that they were as good as modern players.

In my opinion, based on math and logic, it would make sense that the level of play in around 1871 would be inferior than today, and that the relative outliers would not be as good as the relative outliers playing in the majors in 1971. I understand that you disagree, but other than the smaller talent pool, I don't know what else is relevant.

For the purposes of HOM voting, a decision has been made to assume that the quality of play at all times is the same, a pennant is a pennant, and all that's relevant is how well a player played relative to his peers. Its a reasonable approach. But its not the same thing as saying that trying to statistics to show how Deacon White compared to Johnny Bench on an absolute, rather than relative, basis.
   85. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 05, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2769493)
82. Dizzypaco Posted: May 05, 2008 at 11:06 AM (#2769191)
I agree with Dan.


Are pigs flying?

No, I didn't know Dickey fought. I'll add that on, which will move him up; no idea how much.
   86. Dizzypaco Posted: May 05, 2008 at 06:59 PM (#2769518)
Are pigs flying?

No, but I think they just found snowballs in Hell.
   87. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 07:30 PM (#2769542)
How do you determine whether someone who caught in 1970 would be effective in 1870? Irrespective of fielding ability, was it even valuable to put a good hitter behind the plate during periods of high attrition for catchers?


I don't. The "time machine" scenario shouldn't apply, IMO. I supported Ross Barnes, e.g. Doesn't matter what he would have done in 1890 or 1920 or 1950 or 2008.
   88. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 05, 2008 at 07:34 PM (#2769545)
I'll be adding my new comments on the discussion thread shortly, but I first want to welcome Al Hedges (who is that guy anyway?)

John, I can do something in Excel and add ballots. In fact, I already worked it up this morning for the catchers, and can do the same for the others when I see what the count is (Pitchers are going to have a rather lenghty ballot, aren't they). Working 4-day weeks does help sometimes.

All I'd ask is to let me e-mail someone with the final spreadsheet and let them format the numbers for the thread.


Thanks for the offer! While I was just crabbing and not really going to give up tallying the numbers up, the ballot counter I'm using doesn't present the results nicely when posting here compared to the 15-man ballot counter that Evan Reich generously created for us. IOW, if you can help us out, I would be in your debt.

If you need to e-mail me, just click on my name hyperlink and you can find my e-mail address there.

Thanks again!
   89. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2008 at 07:40 PM (#2769553)
Then there are absolute outliers - those that would perform better than those around them, no matter when or where they played.


Same answer as to DL. I mean maybe this is semantics. But the reason you know that Josh Gibson was better than Buck Ewing is because Gibson was more of an outlier among his cohort than Ewing was.

IOW, relative outliers and absolute outliers are different in degree, not in kind. A more accurate term would be BIG outliers and little outliers, or major and minor outliers.

Clearly White and Ewing were relative outliers. But were they absolute outliers? There is literally no way of knowing for sure. You cannot show with math or science that they were.


Right. Nor can you do so for Bench and Berra and Carter, much less for Gibson.

given that the quality of the league was questionable


IOW, I think you are saying that the overall scope of talent in the talent pool defines and delimits how good an outlier can be. I don't agree. That's what outlier means. Their ability is not proportional to the pool. It transcends it. So an outlier from a small, weak pool can be as good or better than an outlier from a big, strong one.

But, yes, it's all relative.
   90. Dizzypaco Posted: May 05, 2008 at 08:10 PM (#2769594)
But the reason you know that Josh Gibson was better than Buck Ewing is because Gibson was more of an outlier among his cohort than Ewing was.

Right. Nor can you do so for Bench and Berra and Carter, much less for Gibson.


1. I strongly believe the overall quality of major league baseball in the 1950's was not substantially different than major league baseball in the 1970's and 1980's. There's no reason for it to be. By the 1950's (and before), the major leagues were drawing from an extremely large talent base. Some things (such as expansion and possible decreasing interest in baseball) diluted talent and some things (such as a increasing population base and an influx of talent from Latin America) worked the other way, but in general, I don't think there's much reason to think there was a tremendous difference in the quality of the leagues. Not to mention that its a short period of time.

You absolutely can't say the same about baseball circa 1871. There are very significant reasons to the quality of play changed from 1871 to 1971, and to discount them is a matter of faith.

2. The Negro Leagues are trickier, and especially when discussing the earlier years of the Negro Leagues, getting the correct MLE is very tricky. However, Gibson was so dominant, during a time in which MLE's were getting more accurate, that you can reliably call him an absolute outlier. You're right that neither White nor Ewing were that dominant, and when combined with the fact that no reliable MLEs have been, or could ever be established for this period of play, I question their absolute value.

3. I do not question White and Ewing's relative value. They were terrific players relative to their competition, and for purposes of the HOM, that's all that really matters. You said it yourself, it doesn't matter for purposes of the HOM what someone would have done in 1890, or 1920, or 1950, or 1980. If they're dominant in the time that they played, its all that matters for purposes of these elections. I just don't think they can be reliably said to be among the best catchers in absolute terms, but that really doesn't matter.
   91. bjhanke Posted: May 06, 2008 at 04:01 AM (#2770347)
I don't want to get into a full-blown debate on time adjustments, because I have a very large essay on the subject, that I have spent several years working on, that I don't have time to get written up right now, and also should not post until I've read all of this group's discussions on the subject. I do want to say a couple of things here, so that people get a generally correct impression of how I think and make adjustments. I don't mind being clobbered for thinking something stupid, but I do mind getting clobbered for things that aren't actually my thoughts. So far, everyone has been really good about stepping around me. Thanks, but I really should return the favor by giving you some info.

IMO, there are 2 sorts of adjustments to consider. First is the standard deviation adjustments, which apply over time, because they measure the maturity of the game. Using the term "improvement of quality" poisons the discussion. What we're measuring here is the maturity of the game - how many different skills are needed to just make entry level, how good the game is at identifying its most productive prospects, things like that. Things that lead to increased parity. Those adjustments get made on the assumption that a major league is a major league, and the mean performance of one league should be considered equal to that of another. All adjustments of this kind are made to standard deviation, or some other such measure, but never to the mean.

If you want to contend that one league is really not a "major" league in the way that another is, you don't adjust the standard deviation. You adjust the mean. I would do that for the Union Association, the Negro Leagues, and American Association, and leagues like that. Of course, you do have to deal with the very hard question of how much to adjust for each of these leagues, which are not equal to each other. For the Negro Leagues or the AA, not so much. For the UA, a huge adjustment to the mean. For the American League in the 1950s, when it was not nearly as fully integrated as the NL was, an adjustment similar to that for the AA.

So, for the 1800s catchers, I make no adjustment to the mean for any of their leagues, but I do make a small one for Josh Gibson and the other Negro Leaguers. I do adjust for the standard deviation in all cases. I have what I think are very good reasons to believe that the standard deviation adjustments increase as you go back in time and that the rate of adjustment increases the further you go back, too. That is, I think the adjustment for the 1870s should be bigger compared to the 1880s than the 1880 adjustment should be compared to the 1890s, and so on. The fact that I think the standard deviation adjustments for the 1870s are really really massive is why I rate McVey and White so low. They take NO penalty to the mean. The National Association was a fully major league IMO, just not a very mature one.

But worse, I can't give you a full accounting of why I think this is valid until I've gotten the whole goddam essay written. I promise to post it up here when I get that done. Until then, if you disagree with me, please agree to disagree until I get the essay done. Then you can ream me another one.
   92. Chris Cobb Posted: May 06, 2008 at 04:37 AM (#2770393)
bjhanke,

The principles you have just laid out here--SD adjustments for "maturity of the game" and adjustments to the mean for "weaker contemporary leagues"--correspond pretty closely to what most of us here believe to be true, I think, though individuals implement and apply these adjustments in many different ways.

Where I (and many others, I think) would disagree with you re White and McVey is on your assumption that standard deviations were much higher for the 1870s than for the 1880s. I am not an expert on this subject, but my strong impression from studying the numbers and listening to people who are more expert than I am is that standard deviations were higher for most of the 1880s than they were for the 1870s NL (if not the NA), because of the AA expansion. The AA was the weaker league, but parity decreased significantly in the NL because of the AA.

The most widely accepted conclusion here, I think, is that the NL of 1977-82 was the most competitive the professional game would be until the contraction in the 1890s, and that even the NA's SDs were not massively greater than those of the 1880s. I'll be interested to see how you do your accounting. This group has done a lot of looking at this issue of competition levels in the early game over the years, so we may have some ways of approaching the issue that you have not considered. We'll see.
   93. rawagman Posted: May 06, 2008 at 02:56 PM (#2770620)
As I have not kept my numbers for elected HOM'ers, I do not feel comfortable simply taking a stab at rankings. Since I don't currently have the time to redo stats on such a scale, I will not be actively participating in the exercise of ranking the already enshrined, but will enjoy reading the thoughts of the others.
   94. Mark Armour Posted: May 06, 2008 at 09:45 PM (#2771075)
I guess everyone has ralled around Gibson as the number one catcher, but I am pretty skeptical. I tend to apply pretty large adjustments to pre-segregation white baseball, and I am sure that the pre-segregation black baseball (drawing on a comparably tiny population, and likely with inefficient selection), was much worse. Given the uncertainties, I feel comfortable saying that Bench was almost definitely a better player.

I understand the sentiment for Gibson, but I do not understand how one could approach the selection without a great deal of self-doubt.
   95. whoisalhedges Posted: May 06, 2008 at 11:11 PM (#2771128)
Mark,

I see your point, but Gibson was just that dominant in his leagues. Yes, the Negro Leagues probably had a less efficient means of talent acquisition and distribution than the major leagues; and even the majors really probably weren't identifying and signing the best players with any consistency until almost mid-century. Still, John McGraw said Oscar Charleston was the best player he ever saw. I tend to trust McGraw. If Charleston was the best player McGraw ever saw, maybe other authorites were right about Paige, Bullet Rogan, Buck Leonard, and yes, Gibson.

I'm just sort of thinking out loud here, and pretty much repeating what a lot of posters in this thread have argued re: 19th century baseball -- just because the average player was less talented than today, just because replacement level was probably the equivalent of today's good high school players, that doesn't mean the superstars weren't true superstars.
   96. Mark Armour Posted: May 06, 2008 at 11:59 PM (#2771179)
I understand, and I sympathize with that view somewhat. Its just that my somewhat-informed and hopelessly-limited view is that had Johnny Bench played on the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the 1930s, he would have hit as well or better than Gibson and fielded like ... well, like Johnny Bench. I also sympathiize with Charleston (a friend of mine is in the process of writing a well-researched biography of him) though, again, he was the best player among a very small number of people.

John McGraw might have been right about him, sure. McGraw also said that George Kelly was the greatest player he ever had, and the best player of the 1920s. I suspect most people on this board simply cast that view aside when viewing the case of Kelly (the leader of the only NL team to win four straight pennants).

I think the less we know, the more we allow ourselves to be carried away. Josh Gibson might have been the best black player of his generation. Willie Mays was the best black player of the succeeding generation, and I am 90% sure that he played in a better generation, played against vastly superior competition, and was a better player.
   97. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2008 at 12:18 AM (#2771218)
I probably come closer to agreeing with Mark than anybody, without quite agreeing.

I question Gibson's defense as well, and saying that Gibson is "without question" better than Bench, and other comments, well - Bench had just a phenomenal all-around career.

I still had Gibson No. 1 on preponderance of what evidence we had, but like so many here I welcome a reasonable challenge to status quo.

I asked why Berra, who by OPS+ is the weakest in the group on best peak year, and shaky in best 3 years or so, is so far ahead of most of the pack by most vote descriptions.

I've had no luck on that so far.
I had Berra 4th, but with 5-6 guys nipping at his heels. Phenomenal player, but we're battling among 10 best catchers ever, and never having a 145 OPS+ starts you behind the 8-ball. I have him winning over most at the wire (and I've met Yogi several times, a friend of mine is so close to the family that it was "Uncle Yogi" to him growing up, and I can say that every sense of class and humility you guess about the gentleman is reinforced by everything I know about him. But we're talking peak and prime production here, as well as career and league quality and other more baseball-specific things).
   98. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2008 at 12:20 AM (#2771221)
sorry, thought this was "ballot discussion" thread.

probably we should move this over there...
   99. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2008 at 12:12 PM (#2771911)
Here's the problem: we know how great Gibson was compared to his NeL peers. Now, if Josh really was only as great as Bench as a hitter, then that would mean there were practically no great NeL hitters, which doesn't pass the smell test for me.
   100. TomH Posted: May 07, 2008 at 12:36 PM (#2771914)
Howie, quick analysis of Berra, compared to Fisk and Dickey:

player games WS WARP1
YBerra 2120 375 . 113
C. Fisk 2500 368 . 108
Dickey 1790 314 . 104

Berra's career ##s are as good as Pudge's, in far fewer games. His prime much better also.

Compared to Dickey, Berra was as good per PA, for longer. Better using WS, worse using WARP. I could see a peak-centric voter using Dcikey's laet 1930s greatness as a reason to rank him higher, but Berra had a sweet 5-year peak/prime as well. Add in Berra's W.S. stats, and his MVP voting (3-1-4-2-1-1-2, possibly the best 7 year stretch of ANYONE!!), I have him clearly ahead.
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