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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Left Fielders Ballot

These are the Hall of Merit left fielders to be voted on (in alphabetical order):

Jesse Burkett
Fred Clarke
Ed Delahanty
Goose Goslin
Charley Jones
Charlie Keller
Joe Kelley
Ralph Kiner
Sherry Magee
Joe Medwick
Minnie Minoso
Stan Musial
Tim Raines
Jimmy Sheckard
Al Simmons
Willie Stargell
Harry Stovey
Zack Wheat
Billy Williams
Ted Williams
Carl Yastrzemski.

The election will end on Aug 24 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 10, 2008 at 10:14 PM | 108 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 10, 2008 at 10:16 PM (#2897684)
hot topics
   2. OCF Posted: August 11, 2008 at 12:48 AM (#2897766)
OK, I'll go first. This is a 21-name ballot, and Henderson will join it after our 2009 election.

Babe Ruth
1. Ted Williams
2. Stan Musial

Hank Aaron
Mel Ott
Frank Robinson
Rickey Henderson
3. Ed Delahanty

Reggie Jackson
Sam Crawford
4. Carl Yastrzemski
Pete Rose
Joe Jackson
Harry Heilmann
Al Kaline
Paul Waner
Tony Gwynn
5. Tim Raines
6. Jesse Burkett
7. Fred Clarke

Roberto Clemente
8. Willie Stargell
9. Al Simmons
10. Billy Williams
(In my system, I have too much offensive difference to put him ahead of Stargell.)
Enos Slaughter
King Kelly? (Really not sure what to do with him)
11. Sherry Magee
Elmer Flick
Dave Winfield
12. Goose Goslin
13. Zack Wheat
14. Joe Medwick
15. Joe Kelley

Willie Keeler
16. Minnie Minoso
Dwight Evans
17. Charlie Keller (Still - it's a rather short career.)
18. Ralph Kiner
19. Jimmy Sheckard
20. Harry Stovey

Sam Thompson
21. Charley Jones (I didn't vote for him.)
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: August 11, 2008 at 02:35 PM (#2898169)
Some changes since my prelim.

(Bonds)
1. T. Williams
2. Musial

No changes here, however.

(big gap)

(Rickey)
3. Delahanty (moves up from 4)
4. Yastrzemski (up from 5)--on second look, a better peak than I thought
5. Simmons (down from 3)--I realized his peak offensive years were spent in LF, not CF
6. Burkett (up from 13)--that was just a mistake of the mathematical kind

(gap)

7. Stargell (was 7)--the only 20C LFer other than T. Williams and Musial with 140+ OPS+ and even 7,000 adjPA
8. Clarke (was 15)--head-to-head with Raines moves Clarke up and Raines down, similar players but Clarke was just a better hitter
9. Raines (down from 6)--has all the extras but his OPS+ is pretty underwhelming
(Manny)

(gap)

10. C. Jones (was 20)--head-to-head with Keller and Kiner leaves no doubt that Charley was more valuable
11. Kiner (was 10)
12. Keller (stays at 14)

(gap)

13. Minoso (was 8)--also like Clarke and Raines but maybe a step slower
14. S. Magee (was 16)
15. Medwick (down from 11)--head-to-head with S. Magee flips 'em
(Belle)
16. Stovey (was 19)--great numbers but AA discount keeps him down here
17. B. Williams (was 12)--only Sheckard on this list has fewer top 10 OPS+ seasons; over-rated
18. Wheat (was 17)--head-to-head with Clarke not a pretty thing
(F.Howard)
19. Goslin (was 9)--I had a prettier picture in my mind

(gap)

(J. Rice)
20. Kelley (was 21)--the not PHoMs start here
21. Sheckard (was 18)--up 'n down, on this list those downs kinda stick out
   4. Chris Cobb Posted: August 11, 2008 at 03:22 PM (#2898218)
Sunnyday, I have to ask what's going on with your ranking of Raines and the comment that he "has all the extras but his OPS+ is pretty underwhelming"?

I give you Willie Stargell's top 5 seasons by win shares: 36, 35, 29, 27, 26
I give you Tim Raines' top 5 seasons by win shares: 36, 34, 32, 32, 29 (which also happen to be consecutive)

I don't see why Stargell is more meritorious than Raines when Raines did more to help his team win just because Stargell has a more muscular OPS+.

Maybe you're just being contrarian about Stargell and Raines because others are running Stargell down, but I don't see how your ballot here is consistent with how you usually vote.
   5. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 11, 2008 at 03:43 PM (#2898241)
Moreover, Sunnyday, do you think that being able to catch the ball matters? That's why people are big on guys like Williams and Sheckard and down on Pops. Perhaps you don't, since you backed Larry Doyle.
   6. Rusty Priske Posted: August 11, 2008 at 04:19 PM (#2898286)
1. Ted Williams
2. Stan Musial

I'm with the majority on these two. The order seems both obvious and unassailable until Bonds is eligible (and then they just become the obvious 2-3).

3. Ed Delahanty
4. Carl Yaztrzemski

Still pretty standard. This election could have a pretty tight variation.

5. Tim Raines

The HoF's biggest current mistake.

6. Jesse Burkett
7. Al Simmons
8. Fred Clarke
9. Billy Williams

An unsexy grouping by general public name recognition values.

10. Willie Stargell

I haven't mentioned this before, but even though I know better I still do a double take whenever I see him listed as an outfielder. When I first started watching baseball and collecting cards etc., he was very clearly listed as a firstbaseman. Those formatitive opinions are hard to shake some times.

11. Zack Wheat
XX. Jim O'Rourke
12. Sherry Magee
13. Jimmy Sheckard
14. Goose Goslin
15. Joe Kelley
16. Joe Medwick

Quack

17. Minnie Minoso
18. Harry Stovey

Here is my PHoM line

19. Charlie Keller
20. Ralph Kiner
21. Charley Jones
   7. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 11, 2008 at 04:24 PM (#2898292)
Rusty, you sure Bonds > Williams? I think it's close...I currently have Teddy Ballgame higher but that's subject to war credit assumptions.
   8. Rusty Priske Posted: August 11, 2008 at 05:05 PM (#2898338)
Well that is my current opinion, but of course I haven't gone over Bonds' career fully yet.

Without that extra work, I have Bonds high...VERY high. I mean, Top 3 overall high. That could change.
   9. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2008 at 05:24 PM (#2898358)
5. Simmons (down from 3)--I realized his peak offensive years were spent in LF, not CF
15. Medwick (down from 11)--head-to-head with S. Magee flips 'em
19. Goslin (was 9)--I had a prettier picture in my mind
<<

That's better. Now flip Duck and Goose.
   10. Blackadder Posted: August 11, 2008 at 05:49 PM (#2898390)
Well, I agree Bonds is clearly top 3. The problem is, the other two are Williams and Ruth!

With no war credits or deductions, both Williams and Musial end up with around 130 WARP2 in Dan's system, while Bonds has about 165 (guessing at his 2006 and 2007). Given how much shorter his career was, Williams should still be rated higher than Musial without war credit, although the gap is not huge. I can see being sufficiently conservative with war credit that Williams ends up clearly ahead of Musial while still clearly behind Bonds.
   11. Rusty Priske Posted: August 11, 2008 at 05:59 PM (#2898412)
Isn't that a game?

"Medwick, Medwick, Goslin!"
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: August 11, 2008 at 06:29 PM (#2898444)
I predict that catching the ball won't matter a bit when Manny comes on-line. But the bottom line is, I knew I had under-rated Burkett but also took a fresh look at Fred Clarke and also realized he was better than Raines. And I was just never all that knocked out by B. Williams.
   13. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 11, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2898725)
Is there any doubt that the top three position players of all time are Bonds/Ruth/Williams, in some order, if you give war credit and don't deduct for steroids or timeline? Sometimes OPS+ really does tell the whole story....Cobb and Wagner should be in the discussion, but they seem clearly a notch down to me.
   14. DL from MN Posted: August 11, 2008 at 08:32 PM (#2898781)
> Is there any doubt that the top three position players of all time are Bonds/Ruth/Williams

Doubt is named Josh Gibson. I also have Honus Wagner above Ted Williams. Those are my top 5.
   15. TomH Posted: August 11, 2008 at 08:35 PM (#2898794)
Mays oughta be in there, if you include league qual and grant more for defense than Win Shares does. Wagner's rank may largely depend on a voter's preference for any "head an dshoulders above the competition" bonus. I.e., if you and I were drafting two teams against each other, Wagner is an amazingly obvious first pick, since if I don't get Ruth I can have other great OFers. It still holds true, IMO, if we expand it to a 6- or 10-team "league". But if you strictly rank by wins above replacement (a 500 team league if you will), Wagner is a bit shy.
   16. TomH Posted: August 11, 2008 at 08:36 PM (#2898800)
and yes, Josh G COULD be top 3, but he could also be top 30. Hard to tell.
   17. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 11, 2008 at 09:09 PM (#2898882)
Gibson's only near that stratosphere if he gets a full catcher bonus. I don't think he deserves one, since it seems to me that C in the NgL's wasn't quite the same position as C in the bigs. But I'm eager to be corrected.

Even if Mays was +200 in the field and +50 on the basepaths and gets a league quality bonus, does that really make up for the 40 points of OPS+ he's giving up to Ruth and a war-credited Williams? As I'm fond of saying, the OPS+ gap between Mays and Williams is the same as that between Mays and Chet Lemon--and that's before boosting Teddy's lifetime line for the missing war years. I just don't see how it adds up....
   18. Blackadder Posted: August 11, 2008 at 11:48 PM (#2899059)
Hmm, let's see. By Palmer Linear Weights, Williams is almost exactly +3.0 wins better than Mays per 650 PA (Chet Lemon, by the way, is closer to Mays than Mays is to Williams). The gap would be a little bigger if you filled in the war years (and their careers would be closer in length), but this is going to be rough anyway so I am going to ignore that. Mays picks up about 0.6 wins per 650 PA for playing CF instead of LF, so the gap goes to +2.4 wins. TotalZone, generously filling in Mays' early years, has him at +140 runs on defense, and I think Dan Fox was about +40 runs baserunning. Assuming 9 runs per win, that is +20 wins, which is about +1.0 wins per 650 PA.

So the remaining gap is +1.4 wins per 650 PA. League quality can lop off maybe .2 runs per, but anymore seems hard to justify. Thus, it seems that the only way Mays can be considered better than Williams is if Williams was consistently -1.3 wins on defense, over his entire career, which would make him one of the worst defensive outfielders ever. FRAA and FWS, and I believe contemporary opinion, agree that he was an indifferent fielder, but nothing horrible. TotalZone hates him at the end of his career, but then so does FRAA. Basically, while it seems POSSIBLE that Mays was better than a war-credited Williams--in contrast to the way is it impossible that, say, Jim Rice was better, contra Tim McCarver--it seems pretty darn unlikely.
   19. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM (#2899066)
Mays was a +40 runner from 1956-72. There's probably another +15 before that, maybe even a little more given what I imagine is the early-peaking aging curve for baserunning. Also, Mays was much more durable than Williams. All that said, Williams was just a better baseball player, by a rather big margin. Again, being "worse than Ted Williams" describes all but one or two players in the game's history in my view; it's hardly an insult.
   20. Blackadder Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:10 AM (#2899076)
Sure, I just wanted to get a rough sense of *how* bad Williams would have had to be, defensively, to be worse on a rate-basis than Mays.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:16 AM (#2899081)
re Raines

I think some things are ignored

I haven't voted yet, but some Raines comments will be (and there is zero dispute that his OPS+ is underwhelming; question is whether else overcomes it. maybe):

"Love the 1983-87, and the SB pct as well. He gets more underrated by OPS+ than anyone else. Belongs in the Hall of Fame. BUT after 1987, he only totaled 600 PA 3 times (4 if you count 1994, but who's to say he'd have been healthy anyway?). He's a mostly forgettable part-timer after age 35. His last top 10 in OBP (his bread and butter) came in 1989. A peak candidate, really, which would surprise a lot of people."
   22. ronw Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:17 AM (#2899083)
I know it is way off topic for this thread, but seeing Mays' name shows that Center Field will rival Second Base for the most contested election. Shocking that C, 1B, 3B, SS, LF and RF are unanimous or very nearly so. Pitcher is a closer call, but I'd be surprised if Walter Johnson didn't garner a significantly high percentage of votes. Interesting how easy it is to agree on an all-time team.
   23. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:42 AM (#2899101)
The top CF is Cobb.............no? 167 OPS+ over 24 years, best baserunner of his era? Unless you get him on league strength. His leagues were not easy to dominate *at all*--in fact, the aughts AL had the lowest stdev (both actual and regression-projected) of any period since 1893. Check out 1907, when a 119 OPS+ was good for tenth in the league!
   24. OCF Posted: August 12, 2008 at 12:59 AM (#2899125)
Historical HoM artifact: of the 56 voters in the 1934 election, one (I believe it was Brent) voted for Speaker 1st and Cobb 2nd. The other 55 had Cobb ahead of Speaker, although only 52 had Cobb 1st; the three others had Collins and/or Lloyd ahead of him.
   25. sunnyday2 Posted: August 12, 2008 at 03:36 AM (#2899306)
Bill James has the top 5 players of all time...

Ruth
Wagner
Mays
Charleston
Cobb

Then...

Mantle
T. Williams
W. Johnson
Gibson
Musial

Then...

Speaker
Aaron
DiMaggio
Gehrig
Morgan
Bonds (this was in 2001)
Paige
E. Collins
Grove
Alexander

I think we'll stipulate Bonds into the top 10, but I don't see anybody else from James' 2nd 10 challenging his top 10. And personally, for me, it would be Musial that would drop from #10 to #11 or thereabouts.

Then the question becomes, Who from his 2nd 5 is better than anybody in his 1st 5? Well, T. Williams and Gibson and Bonds are the 3 possibilities, with all due respect to Mantle. But, then, who drops down? Not Ruth, and not Wagner.

So 3 through 8 are clearly Mays, Charleston, Cobb, Williams, Gibson and Bonds. But in what order? HellifIknow. But I might be inclined to say Charleston, Bonds, Williams, Gibson, Mays and Cobb. And when I say Mantle is below that group, I mean in terms of the consensus. On my own personal list, I might be inclined to put him in that group somewhere. As a peak voter, I think Mantle was the greatest CF ever at his best. On a peak-only basis, he might be #3 after Ruth and Wagner.

But, then, this is the LF Ranch, so I'll leave it for now.
   26. DL from MN Posted: August 12, 2008 at 02:19 PM (#2899474)
LF ballot

1) Ted Williams - top 5 player (incl pitchers)
2) Stan Musial - top 10 player (excl pitchers)
(Rickey)
3) Carl Yastrzemski - there's about 15 wins difference in baserunning between Raines and Yaz.
4) Tim Raines - not far behind Yaz but not as good of a fielder which I wouldn't have guessed.
5) Ed Delahanty - I vote pure career. Unfair his career was cut short but that's how it goes. It would have taken almost 2 more seasons of play to make 3rd place assuming some decline.
6) Fred Clarke - Almost even with Delahanty.
7) Jesse Burkett - now we're past the top 100 players
8) Billy Williams
9) Al Simmons
10) Jimmy Sheckard - I'm not discounting the ridiculous defensive numbers. Maybe I should but every metric has Sheckard as the best defensive LF ever, the only difference being the range over which the metric allows for defensive value.
11) Zack Wheat
12) Joe Kelley - 12 through 17 could be picked out of a hat
13) Willie Stargell
14) Goose Goslin
15) Sherry Magee - The group of guys after him are getting various amounts of credit. This is where I break ties in favor of the player who actually played major league games.
(Bob Johnson)
16) Charlie Keller
17) Charley Jones
18) Minnie Minoso - Only 1 year NgL credit
19) Joe Medwick - Medwick in and Bob Johnson out still irritates me. I see Medwick as clearly inferior to Johnson.
20) Harry Stovey - makes my PHoM because I threw all the pioneers (pre 1893) that were already elected in without argument. After a closer look he's right on the edge of merit.
21) Ralph Kiner - just not enough career, hitter comparable to Belle or Manny but not for long enough. Not in my PHoM.
   27. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 12, 2008 at 08:28 PM (#2899866)
I'll vote early this time--remembering my segregation penalty this time

1. Teddy Ballgame, #2 alltime--guys, get real. With war credit you're talking about 22 years at an OPS+ around 200. Take your defense and baserunning and league strength and durability and put it where Putin apparently told Saakashvili to put his declarations of Western support. :)
2. Stan the Man--top 10 post-1893 MLB position players. Was his wartime D really that exceptional? Anecdotal reports, anyone? DRA agrees that Musial carried a mean glove in '43.
3. Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls
4. Rock
5. Yaz
6. Burkett
7. Clarke--DRA loves this Kool-Aid
8. Billy Williams--again, DRA-supported. Remarkable durability.
9. Bucketfoot Al
10. Keller--now giving him credit for 1938 and 1/4 of 1939; not his fault they gave his PA to Henrich
11. Miñoso
12. Kelley
13. Sheckard--such a tough guy to place. DRA does have him at over +200. I'm convinced that he was really something special with the glove, because his fielding numbers hold up despite playing on three different teams, and he did have the reputation to back it up.
14. Pops--All systems agree that he gave back substantial value on defense and baserunning, and he couldn't stay on the field.
15. Wheat
16. Magee
17. Goslin--I'd give him a tiebreak on component park effects, but there's no tie to break.
18. Stovey
19. Ducky
20. Kiner
   28. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 12, 2008 at 08:32 PM (#2899872)
Heads up Dan R. I believe you left off Charley Jones.
   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 12, 2008 at 08:40 PM (#2899877)
I think we'll stipulate Bonds into the top 10


Why? What did Bonds do after 2001 that improves his case over what he did prior to 2001?

-- MWE
   30. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 12, 2008 at 08:52 PM (#2899892)
Esteban, it appears I did. Apologies, particularly since I was a big supporter of his. He slides in at #17. Revised:

1. Teddy Ballgame, #2 alltime--guys, get real. With war credit you're talking about 22 years at an OPS+ around 200. Take your defense and baserunning and league strength and durability and put it where Putin apparently told Saakashvili to put his declarations of Western support. :)
2. Stan the Man--top 10 post-1893 MLB position players. Was his wartime D really that exceptional? Anecdotal reports, anyone? DRA agrees that Musial carried a mean glove in '43.
3. Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls
4. Rock
5. Yaz
6. Burkett
7. Clarke--DRA loves this Kool-Aid
8. Billy Williams--again, DRA-supported. Remarkable durability.
9. Bucketfoot Al
10. King Kong--now giving him credit for 1938 and 1/4 of 1939; not his fault they gave his PA to Henrich
11. Miñoso
12. Kelley
13. Sheckard--such a tough guy to place. DRA does have him at over +200. I'm convinced that he was really something special with the glove, because his fielding numbers hold up despite playing on three different teams, and he did have the reputation to back it up.
14. Pops--All systems agree that he gave back substantial value on defense and baserunning, and he couldn't stay on the field.
15. Wheat
16. Magee
17. Jones, with full blacklist credit. Pete Browning plus defense and half a career in the strong league.
18. Goslin--I'd give him a tiebreak on component park effects, but there's no tie to break.
19. Stovey
20. Ducky
21. Kiner
   31. Blackadder Posted: August 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM (#2899965)
Mike, are you trying to spark a steroids flame war? I think the answer to your question is pretty obvious.
   32. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 12, 2008 at 10:28 PM (#2899982)
Hey, for the one-season peak voter, nothing after '01 matters--or before, for that matter. :)
   33. Blackadder Posted: August 12, 2008 at 10:55 PM (#2899994)
Man, the one year peak-voter would be one interesting beast: Sammy Sosa the second best RF ever, Norm Cash one of the top 3 1B ever, Dwight Gooden possibly the greatest pitcher ever...
   34. OCF Posted: August 12, 2008 at 11:02 PM (#2899998)
Dan, you only get one vote. ;)
   35. Sean Gilman Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:31 AM (#2900211)
Left Field:

1. Ted Williams - He’s good.

2. Stan Musial - Him too.

3. Carl Yastrzemski - League quality moves him up to third, he’s still a long way from second.

4. Ed Delahanty - Best of the 19th Century guys, with small edges in peak and career over Burkett.

5. Tim Raines - Competition quality moves him up, WARP1 thinks he had a better peak than Yaz. Less career value though.

6. Jesse Burkett - Better peak, less career value than Clarke.

7. Fred Clarke - Less peak than Simmons, but a lot more career, even discounting for the higher standard deviations of the 19th Century.

8. Al Simmons - Very even with Williams, WARP1 likes Simmons’s peak a bit better.

9. Billy Williams - Just a bit less than Simmons, the gap between him and Sheckard is much larger.

10. Jimmy Sheckard - WARP loves his defense as well, I don’t see any reason to disagree.

11. Joe Kelley - About the same peak value as Clarke, but that doesn’t standout among the 19th century players and he has a lot less career value.

12. Charley Jones - I give him blacklist credit and some AA demerits. He’s still got a great peak and a reasonably long career.

13. Sherry Magee - Just very solid all around. It makes him forgettable, unfortunately.

14. Harry Stovey - Very comparable with Jones, I still don’t know how much I buy the baserunning argument.

15. Charlie Keller - Very good peak, but even with bonus credit his career is pretty short.

16. Willie Stargell - WARP punishes him for defense, but the leagues he played in were much tougher than most of these LFers, so that helps him a bit.

17. Zack Wheat - Good career value, mediocre peak.

18. Minnie Minoso - WARP1 doesn’t seem to like him. Not much of a peak and only slightly more career value than Medwick. I suspect WARP is missing something, but I don’t know what it would be.

19. Goose Goslin - Less career value than Wheat, about the same peak.

20. Joe Medwick - Never been a Ducky fan. He’s got the third least career value (after Keller and Kiner) to go with a solid but unspectacular peak.

21. Ralph Kiner - WARP1 isn’t particularly impressed by his peak, and he’s significantly behind everyone else in career value.
   36. OCF Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2900279)
Sorry, Dan - I didn't spot at first that that was a correction rather than a double post.
   37. bjhanke Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:46 AM (#2900647)
Dan R asks about Musial, "Was his wartime D really that exceptional? Anecdotal reports, anyone? " Anecdotally, yes. I grew up in St. Louis, and got to hear it all. The Cards had Terry Moore when Stan came up, so he didn't start in center. Then they had Harry Walker. If the system hadn't been churning out guys like that Stan would have been in center. Around the wartime, the management just got really odd about who played where. Check out the careers of Musial and teammate Johnny Hopp during the 1940s and see if YOU can make any sense of it. Sometimes, the manager thought that Musial was the better center field choice, sometimes Hopp. Makes no sense, nor does moving either player to first base. What you do get, if you look, is the clear impression that Musial was the first backup choice in center. If the regular had a day off or got hurt, Stan would go into center. That lasted for approximately a decade. I would consider, based on anecdotal info and sportswriter Bob Broeg, that the wartime Musial was a good center fielder, but not a really good one. After the war, he's a bit worse. But the wartime defense is real. He's a competent center fielder whose team just has better ones, so he plays elsewhere, where he looks great by comparison.
   38. bjhanke Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:36 AM (#2900810)
Hi. This is just to let you all know that the third base ballot thread isn't dead yet. I just posted up a three-post-long defense of my rankings of Jimmy Collins, Home Run Baker and Ezra Sutton. I told you all that I write for a living, didn't I? Still, that wouldn't take 3 posts. What is mostly there is an entire essay on how I think about very early players, and especially about their FSEs. I am pretty sure I'm at least on the right track and very sure that, if what I say proves out to be true, it's valuable. What I don't know is how much of this you guys already know. My voting disparities imply that I really don't think the same way as at least most of you, but I can't be certain. I do know that at least Grandma Murphy understands at least that you can't trust blind FSEs at early catcher. How much else you all know, that's what I don't know. Also, just for those of you with real math backgrounds, please be aware that I think like an engineer, not a pure mathematician, and did a lot of work on the 19th c. in the 1990s, when baseball databases were few and primitive. So I relied a lot on what I call Plausibility Tests. Just so you won't be disgusted at the lack of hard math. Leaves you free to be disgusted at the conclusions.
   39. TomH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:30 PM (#2900906)
ballot

1 - Williams
2 - Musial : Tom's retired alltime rank Ruth-Wagner-Mays-Johnson-Williams-Aaron-Musial
3 - Yaz
4 - Delahanty : tied with Yaz, but tie goes to the guy with the clutch 67 heroics versus getting drunk and dead.
5 - Raines : BBWAA, listen up you stooges.
6 - O'Rourke : tough to decide nbetween the mosern slugger Bily and the long career 1800s guy, but O'Rourke gets the nod.
7 - B Williams
8 - Burkett : how many people know he hit .400 three times?
9 - Clarke :
10 - A Simmons : close to 400 win shares = one good career
11 - Wheat : ditto
12 - Stovey : runs scored analysis from early days bumps him up to here
13 - Stargell : awesome slugger
14 - Kelley : next few are about tied
15 - Sheckard
16 - Goslin
17 - Magee
(gap)
18 - Minoso
19 - Medwick
20 - Keller : could be up to #18; depends on partial or full credit for early years.
21 - C Jones
22 - Kiner - borderline on my PHOM.
   40. OCF Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:51 PM (#2900959)
Tom: we (Joe, anyway) decided to move O'Rourke to the CF list, so you'll have to re-figure where he belongs. But your LF ballot is unambiguously ordered and we'll count it without you having to do anything.
   41. Rick A. Posted: August 14, 2008 at 01:05 AM (#2902213)
Leftfielder Ballot
1. Ted Williams - Clear #1 on this ballot
2. Stan Musial - Clear #2
(Rickey Henderson)
3. Ed Delahanty - Best 19th century leftfielder.
4. Jesse Burkett
5. Carl Yastrzemski - Very close to Burkett.
6. Al Simmons - Very nice peak value.
7. Fred Clarke
8. Tim Raines - Great player, long career, nice peak, but underwhelming OPS+
9. Sherry Magee
10. Harry Stovey - Speed and good bat.
11. Charley Jones - I give blacklist credit. High peak.
12. Joe Kelley
13. Charlie Keller - Short career but high peak. And I like a high peak.
14. Ralph Kiner - Difference between him and Keller is defense.
15. Zack Wheat - Best of the long career, low peak LFers.
16. Willie Stargell
17. Jimmy Sheckard - Long career candidates are bunched up here. (17-20)
18. Minnie Minoso
19. Goose Goslin
20. Billy Williams
--------------------------------------PHOM----------------------------------------
21. Joe Medwick Looking closely at him, he seems better than I thought. Moves within 5 of my PHOM. Nice 3 year peak, but career is a little short.
   42. Cblau Posted: August 14, 2008 at 02:13 AM (#2902382)
8 - Burkett : how many people know he hit .400 three times?

Sean Forman doesn't.
   43. whoisalhedges Posted: August 15, 2008 at 01:24 PM (#2904235)
1. Ted Williams - one of the three best hitters ever. With war credit, it's not close.

2. Stan Musial - without war credit, it does start to get close. More durable and a better glove than Ted.

3. Ed Delahanty - one of the greatest hitters of the 19th century; good glove, could be stretched to play infield.

4. Carl Yastrzemski - odd career shape, played seemingly forever after his peak was over. Still, a decade as an above-average 1B who rarely misses a game has a lot of value. Enough value to put him above...

5. Tim Raines - one of the more unjustly underrated players of all time. Only durability issues and peak defense have him below Yaz.

6. Al Simmons - I always feel he's been overrated by history due to all those RBI he piled up in a big-hitting league and era, hitting behind Bishop and Foxx. I didn't want to rank him this high, but his peak and defense make this ranking look fair. As a Milwaukee boy, he gets a bonus. ;)

7. Billy Williams - gets a huge bounce from his long career of never missing a game. Not as good in any one facet of the game as many of those ranked beneath him; but a very, very good all-around player for a long time.

8. Jim O'Rourke - I give O'Rourke a lot of credit for his ability to play anywhere on the diamond. Outstanding hitter for his era.

9. Jesse Burkett
10. Fred Clarke
11. Sherry Magee
12. Joe Kelley - these four are very, very close for me.

13. Willie Stargell - one of the great home run hitters of all time. Fairly one-dimensional game, and was pretty fragile.

14. Minnie Minoso - great all-around player, maybe could have come to the majors earlier; but I don't give him much credit for that, because I think he'd have spent a couple of years in the minors rather than being in MLB at 19. If I were timelining like I really want to, he'd be top-10.

15. Zack Wheat - Billy Williams-type player of the late deadball/early Ruth era. Not outstanding in any one aspect of the game, above average all-around. There's nothing really inspiring about him to me.

16. Jimmy Sheckard - probably made the HoM for his defense. Which was very good.

17. Charlie Keller - at his best, the equal of anyone not named Williams, Musial, or Delahanty. Simply did not play long enough or often enough to rank higher. Lost his entire age 27 season to WWII, for which he absolutely deserves some credit.

18. Goose Goslin - defense moves him up.

19. Ralph Kiner - I wonder what kind of numbers he could have created in the DH era.

20. Harry Stovey - if the AA had been a real major league, he might be top-10. It wasn't, so he's not. Still a good player, and a solid HoMer.

21. Charley Jones - truly a monster hitter for his era.

22. Joe Medwick - I'm not sure I'd vote for him. Nice peak, though.
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: August 15, 2008 at 02:40 PM (#2904329)
Same for Al, I guess - ignore O'Rourke and move the others up
   45. whoisalhedges Posted: August 15, 2008 at 04:48 PM (#2904464)
Same for Al, I guess - ignore O'Rourke and move the others up

Oh yeah, I forgot he'd been moved.

Yup, just slip him out.
   46. bjhanke Posted: August 18, 2008 at 11:21 AM (#2906747)
DL says, "10) Jimmy Sheckard - I'm not discounting the ridiculous defensive numbers. Maybe I should but every metric has Sheckard as the best defensive LF ever, the only difference being the range over which the metric allows for defensive value."

I had a thought just now, and looked something up. Sheckard's first two seasons, his partial at age 18 and first full season at 19, don't involve any serious hitting, given the time period. I have some doubts about those seasons because of my Standard Deviation / Percentage Dissonance theory (SD/%, see in Third Base posts). But if there was any real reason to play Jimmy in his first-year partial, much less start him in his second season, it almost had to be phenomenal defense.
   47. DL from MN Posted: August 18, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2907065)
Only 9 ballots in a week. Hopefully there's more action this week. Stargell has placed anywhere from 7th to 16th. Strange lack of consensus on a modern player.
   48. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 18, 2008 at 06:42 PM (#2907273)
DL from MN, I'm not surprised at all Stargell is so divisive. He's a fairly extreme player, in that the quantitative evidence suggests that poor fielding and baserunning really gobbled up a significant chunk of his value. Furthermore, he missed a ton of games every season. So voters who don't think that D and baserunning are actually part of baseball, and those who disregard in-season durability (both pure career voters and "peak-rate" voters), will have Stargell extremely high (the "OPS+ times PA" contingent). Those who do use fielding and baserunning as more than a tiebreaker, and who put weight on in-season durability (as my current salary estimator does), will have him in the bottom tenth of the HoM.
   49. Paul Wendt Posted: August 19, 2008 at 12:32 AM (#2907712)
Brock #46 on Jimmy Sheckard
I had a thought just now, and looked something up. Sheckard's first two seasons, his partial at age 18 and first full season at 19, don't involve any serious hitting, given the time period. I have some doubts about those seasons because of my Standard Deviation / Percentage Dissonance theory (SD/%, see in Third Base posts). But if there was any real reason to play Jimmy in his first-year partial, much less start him in his second season, it almost had to be phenomenal defense.

For one, he was cheap.
The Brooklyn club was a money-loser, occasionally or always rumored to be going out of business.

For two, except for its three outfielders, team OPS+ less than 75, team on-base average less than .275. There was no fourth outfielder after the loan of John Anderson to Washington (NL to NL). They moved Anderson before the first western trip, after he played 17 of 19 games in the east. I suppose that was a pure money-saving deal --what else?

Probably there is valuable comment on the deal, and decision to go with Sheckard, in some of the newspapers. NYTimes and WPost are widely available by internet and Brooklyn Daily Eagle is available to all.
   50. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: August 19, 2008 at 12:41 AM (#2907722)
Only 9 ballots in a week.


I'll probably get one in tomorrow. I was busy getting married when the balloting opened, but since I have tomorrow off due to TS Fay, I'll have time to work on it.
   51. Mark Donelson Posted: August 19, 2008 at 04:30 AM (#2908009)
I'll have one in sometime this week too--just had our second son a week ago, so a bit distracted!
   52. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: August 19, 2008 at 01:09 PM (#2908156)
Mark, you and I just have to get our priorities straight.
   53. Bleed the Freak Posted: August 19, 2008 at 03:08 PM (#2908310)
51. Mark Donelson Posted: August 19, 2008 at 12:30 AM (#2908009)
I'll have one in sometime this week too--just had our second son a week ago, so a bit distracted!


Congrats Mark!
   54. ronw Posted: August 19, 2008 at 03:33 PM (#2908349)
Left Fielder ranking. MVP/AS are my own calculations, but for Negro Leaguers I use some combination of Holway/James MVP and AS selections. Revised Monster = 13.5 WARP1 or WARP2 and above. Great=10.0 WARP1 or WARP2 and above. WAV is the average of career WARP1 and WARP2.

1. Ted Williams – 10 MVP, 16 AS. 165.9 WAV (Only Bonds (230.5), Musial and Henderson (176.0) have higher WAV) – war credit bumps him above Ricky and Stan the Man, but I think Teddy is below Barry. Monster 1942, 1946, Great 1939, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1957. Only complaint is the fielding.

2. Stan Musial – 10 MVP, 16 AS. 190.8 WAV – war credit. 4 Monster (1943, 1944, 1946, 1948), 7 Great (1942, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1954). I thought 1948 would be a monster WARP season. Stan probably would have vaulted over Gehrig for the #1 1B spot for many voters, including me.

3. Ed Delahanty – 7 MVP, 11 AS. 111.5 WAV. 1 Monster (1893), 5 Great (1895, 1896, 1899, 1901, 1902). Peak surpasses the long career guys, and he had enough of a career for this high placement.

4. Carl Yastrzemski – 3 MVP, 15 AS. 137.9 WAV. Monster 1967, 2 Great (1968, 1970). Yaz was steady for a long, long time.

5. Tim Raines – 5 MVP, 10 AS. 123.2 WAV. No Monster, 5 Great (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1992). One of my favorite players growing up, it is a shame that it might take it until my generation reaches 60 before Timmy makes the Hall of Fame.

6. Jesse Burkett – 6 MVP, 14 AS. 109.9 WAV. 1 Monster (1901), 3 Great (1895, 1896, 1899). Can be interchangeable with Simmons.

7. Fred Clarke – 5 MVP, 14 AS. 127.3 WAV. No Monster, 5 Great (1897, 1901, 1902, 1908, 1909). Very underrated. WARP loves his fielding.

8. Al Simmons – 5 MVP, 11 AS. 110.0 WAV. No Monster, 4 Great (1925, 1929, 1931, 1933). Played forever, but essentially nothing big past 1933.

9. Goose Goslin – 3 MVP, 13 AS. 104.3 WAV. No Monster, 5 Great (1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928). I like listening to Goose on the Glory of Their Times tapes. Better than I would have thought.

10. Sherry Magee – 3 MVP, 11 AS. 102.7 WAV. No Monster, 5 Great (1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1915). He played with the Phillies when the Braves went to the World Series and the Braves when the Phillies went. At least he got to play a little against the Black Sox.

11. Jimmy Sheckard – 3 MVP, 11 AS. 109.3 WAV. No Monster, 4 Great (1901, 1903, 1906, 1911). We now recognize the value of the walks.

12. Billy Williams – 2 MVP, 12 AS. 116.6 WAV. No Monster, 3 Great (1963, 1965, 1972). Overlooked because of 60’s contemporaries.

13. Willie Stargell – 3 MVP, 11 AS. 110.1 WAV. No Monster, 2 Great (1971, 1973). The Big Papi of the 70’s.

14. Joe Kelley – 3 MVP, 9 AS. 90.5 WAV. No Monster, 4 Great (1894, 1896, 1897, 1899). Always the last of the Big 4 Orioles I remember.

15. Zack Wheat – 3 MVP, 11 AS. 111.5 WAV. No Monster, 3 Great (1914, 1916, 1924). No real difference between Wheat and Williams.

16. Joe Medwick – 3 MVP, 11 AS. 98.6 WAV. No Monster, 3 Great (1935, 1936, 1937). Valuable enough player.

17. Charlie Keller – 4 MVP, 6 AS. 70.8 WAV – war credit. No Monster, 4 Great (1941, 1942, 1943, 1946). Probably my personal most surprising (but deserving) HOMer. He really had a fantastic peak, and may have been better than DiMaggio from 1941-1946..

18. Ralph Kiner – 4 MVP, 8 AS. 72.4 WAV – small amount of war credit. No Monster, 3 Great (1947, 1949, 1951). Great peak, but that’s about it.

19. Minnie Minoso – 2 MVP, 11 AS. 82.1 WAV – Negro League credit. No Monster, 1 Great (1954). Not enough heft to a decent-sized career.

20. Harry Stovey – 4 MVP, 11 AS. 82.8 WAV. No Monster, 3 Great (1884, 1888, 1889). Deserving enough rep from the AA.

21. Charley Jones – 3 MVP, 9 AS. 55.2 WAV. No Monster, 2 Great (1879, 1884). Hurt by the blacklist.

Only Stovey, Minoso, Kiner, Keller, and Jones are below 90. Besides Bonds (230.5), and Henderson (176.0), only Jose Cruz (103.9) surpasses 100 WAV among unelected players. Bob Johnson (95.8), Lou Brock (95.1), and Bobby Veach (90.1) break 90.
   55. Howie Menckel Posted: August 21, 2008 at 01:17 AM (#2910997)
no excuse other than working too hard
I hope this makes sense....

Our all-time Left Fielder HOMer ballot, 6th in a series

1. TED WILLIAMS - Led AL in OBP, 1940-42. WW II, 1943-45. Led AL in OBP, 1946-49. Also would have led in 1950, but only played 89 Games. Led AL in OBP 1951. Korean War, 1952-53. Led AL in OBP, 1954. Also would have led in 1955, but only 98 G. Led AL in OBP, 1956-58. Also would have led in 1960, but only 113 G. Not mentioned: 6th in OBP, 1939; and would have been 9th in 1959, but only 113 G.

2. STAN MUSIAL - 3 MVPs, 4 runnerups, 14 times in the top ten. 7 batting titles, 2 2nds, 5 3rds, 2 4ths, a 5th - that's 17 times in the top 5 (woulda been 18, no doubt, in 1945). From 1942 to 1958, a serious BA title contender every year he played. Then there's adjusted OPS+, where he was 1st 6 times, 2nd 4 times... well, I think you get the idea.

3. ED DELAHANTY - Still an elite player at age 35 when he stepped off the train - and then into eternity (4th adj OPS+ title came the previous season). Once everything clicked in 1892, became one of the game's best players over 11+ years. NY Times obit, with misspelled last name, is here: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/deaths/ed_delahanty_obituary.shtml

4. CARL YASTRZEMSKI - All-time great type player in 1967-68-70, excellent in 1963 and 1965, and very good in a lot of other seasons. Has attractive peak, prime, career numbers, but doesn't quite knock it out of the park in any of them compared to the highest of immortals. A little overrated but still should be highly rated. I like the 1963-74 prime a lot, and the early/extra years aren't all hanger-on stuff either.

5. AL SIMMONS - Counting stats must be popularly adjusted for silly-hitting-stats of era, but even that isn't quite enough to drop him from here. The years in CF are a nice boost, and 7 top 7s in OPS+ (4 of them in the top 5) is stronger than it looks given the conceded spots to Ruth-Gehrig-Foxx and friends.

6. BILLY WILLIAMS - I underrated him the first time around, as I had suspected. In-season durability for star players pretty well evens out so often that you can miss an extreme exception like this one. bb-ref page can be yours for $35. Matches Yaz in the "I like the 1963-74 prime a lot." Just not as much beyond it.

7. TIM RAINES - Love the 1983-87, and the SB pct as well. He gets more underrated by OPS+ than anyone else. Belongs in the Hall of Fame. BUT after 1987, he only totaled 600 PA 3 times (4 if you count 1994, but who's to say he'd have been healthy anyway?). He's a mostly forgettable part-timer after age 35. His last top 10 in OBP (his bread and butter) came in 1989. A peak candidate, really, which would surprise a lot of people.

8. JESSE BURKETT - Ten top 10 OPS+s, and one of the longer careers on the board. This is what I picture a Hall LF to look like; excellent hitter for a long long time. Crappy pitcher as a rook in a bad NL in 1890, but we'll forgive. Seemed like he still had something left in the tank when he quit at 36.

9. WILLIE STARGELL - Mashed a la Delahanty and Burkett for a long time. But as noted, durability deficit hurts him more than most. Most PAs he ever had is 609. Had 10 top-10 SLG PCT finishes. Also six top-5 adj OPS+ finishes. This is one case where the "Most similar player" gimmick does fairly well - he was pretty much Frank Howard with an earlier start and later finish, more a tribute to underrated Howard than a knock on Pops.

10. FRED CLARKE - Last multiple OPS+ champ on the board. A regular alongside Honus Wagner, and Honus's manager to boot, from 1898-1911. You'd think he'd have been great in 1898-00, too - if he had been, he'd have moved up a few notches.

11. SHERRY MAGEE - Still a very good player in 1918 at age 33, then hits .215 in 1919 for the World Champion Reds in a part-time role - hits .500 in the World Series, but it's 1 for 2, and he never plays again. So how does he get up here? A good player right out of the gate at age 19, and a great one by age 22. Grabs the 10 hole (barely) by just having fewer demerits than the pack. 5 top 5 OPS+ finishes.

12. JIMMY SHECKARD - Left startlingly few fingerprints in terms of baseball's collective memory, but you have to like the all-around skills and imprint on pennant winners. Needs every bit of the defensive nod to edge out several others.

13. ZACK WHEAT - Edges out Goslin; was a stellar player just a little more often. Weird peak at age 35-37 is worth several spots. Hit .300 14 times, but the last time was 1927 (his last year), when he hit .324 and the AL hit .300. Never "won a ring."

14. JOE KELLEY - Key is noting that his exact prime was in the 1890s one-league NL - tough crowd. If he hadn't mostly ran out of steam at age 32, he'd be a lot better remembered. Pretty good part-time finale as player-manager in Boston NL in 1908.

15. GOOSE GOSLIN - AL hit an amazing collective .290 in his career, he hit .316. But a good slugger with a nice overall prime at 1925-31.

16. RALPH KINER - His offensive competitiveness with Kaline over his top 9 years, and with Killebrew for a long stretch as well, is telling. Peak voters - how about a 184-184-173 trifecta of OPS+s? Then 156-146-140-132 to complete a stunning prime. A 121-117-116 completes the 10-pack.How many runs did he really cost his teams in the OF? Yes, deduct, but it's from a high place.

17. CHARLIE KELLER - Poor man's Ralph Kiner. Of his six actual big seasons of note, one was a weakened 1943 and another is a slight issue, 1942. Still, he has a dazzling peak that seems likely to have been longer if not for WW II. Yeah, his career looks funny, but plenty of Negro League guesstimates do, too. The world has a way of getting in the way of neat stats pages. I'm fine with him in HOM. I just couldn't extrapolate him any higher.

18. JOE MEDWICK - Very nice 5, 8, 10-year numbers. But look closer, and it's basically a (not-quite) Kiner-esque career with a few part-time seasons on the fringes.

19. MINNIE MINOSO - Eight OPS+s over 130 is pretty nice, and could field his position, too, but I'm disappointed to see that such negligible Negro Leagues credit is due. I thought he was a better player there than we discovered he is.

20. HARRY STOVEY - Underrated and interesting for his run-scoring machine efforts. But didn't stand out as much as you'd like given the era and the league.

21. CHARLEY JONES - Some sympathy for the contract issues, but it's just not the same as going to war or being the 'wrong' skin color. Therefore, I see his career as too short.
   56. bjhanke Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:29 AM (#2912407)
Well, here's mine. I reserve the right to make small changes until Sunday, because there are so many players so close that a good argument could change my mind. But if I haven't changed anything by the deadline, then this is it. Oh, yeah. I wrote too many long comments. The ballot won't send to this list in one post. I had to break it down into three. For those of you who do the tabulating, the simple ordered list of names is the first thing in this post. - Brock

1. TED WILLIAMS
2. STAN MUSIAL
3. ED DELAHANTY
4. AL SIMMONS
5. TIM RAINES
6. CARL YASTRZEMSKI
7. FRED CLARKE
8. MINNIE MINOSO
9. BILLY WILLIAMS
10. WILLIE STUNGUN
11. JESSE BURKETT
12. SHERRY MAGEE
13. JIMMY SHECKARD
14. GOOSE GOSLIN
15. JOE MEDWICK
16. ZACK WHEAT
17. HARRY STOVEY
18. JOE KELLEY
19. CHARLIE KELLER
20. RALPH KINER
21. CHARLEY JONES

1. TED WILLIAMS

You've all no doubt read Moneyball. And I imagine most of you don't think any more of it than I do. But there was one idea in there worth mentioning, even if the author didn't say it explicitly. That idea is that, in addition to the five traditional scouts' "tools", there is a sixth: strike zone judgment. It's a tool, not a learned skill

Ted Williams' ranking among all position players makes more sense if you know that. Otherwise, you've got a top-five guy who only has two of the five tools. He runs OK, fields OK, and throws OK, but no better than that. Not good, just OK. His only two real tools are hitting for average and for power. That's only two out of five, although it is the most important Big Two. But if you add in the walk judgment, and you value walks appropriately, you get outstanding in the Big Three tools. That sounds more like a top-five of all time guy, which is what Williams is, and is why he is who he is.

2. STAN MUSIAL

The odd thing is that you get the same ranking for Musial whether or not you count wartime. If you do, you make deductions for his 42-44 seasons, which drive his peak rankings, but you also add a prime year to his career. If not, then his peak stays way high, but he loses a year. The end result is the same, although the shape changes a bit.

I'm not sure that Musial's personality was a huge plus to his teams. He was too passive. He'd accept anything, and play anywhere, rather than complain. That, really, is why he ended up with so many games at first base. He wouldn't complain when a worse outfielder than he was got sent out there and he was relegated to first. The nadir of this occurred in 1959, when Solly Hemus, an atrocious manager by all accounts, sent Joe Cunningham AND Bill White out into right field, while Musial said not a word at first. Neither Joe nor Bill was an outfielder at all, and there was no excuse for Musial to be at first base with those two on the roster. But Musial wouldn't complain, and since he was the team's superstar and also one of the guys involved in the mess, who else was going to?

If you've read Curt Flood's autobiography The Way It Is (and I think it is arguably, though not certainly, the best book on baseball ever written), you get a sense of this in Flood's description of Musial. He comments at some length about Musial viewing the whole world through the lens of his own good fortune in being able to play baseball instead of working in the Pennsylvania coal mines. And no, it's not racial. For one thing, Musial was, like Williams, the opposite of a racist, a fact that Flood also documents (see the restaurant story). For another, Flood tells the Musial story as an analogy to Willie Mays. I think it's safe to say that Curt Flood had no racial problems with Willie Mays.

3. ED DELAHANTY

His first four seasons are junk, and his last one is a small partial, which leaves only 11 serious seasons. But boy! What an 11-year run. What's odd is that almost all the top left fielders from Ed's time can make a case for being center fielders playing out of position. Sheckard. Clarke. Burkett and Kelley likely. Delahanty and Magee don't have great defensive stats, but they did have the speed. Of course, so did Lou Brock, Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. Still, I don't think there's ever been a period like this for left field defense. My guess is that this is due to the asymmetrical ballparks of the time, which often had huge left fields, but I don't have the time to document that in any detail.

4. AL SIMMONS

I wasn't expecting this high a ranking. Simmons was what I call an RBI Vulture. It's not a compliment. It applies to power hitters who simply will not take their walks (see Vlad Guerrerro). Those guys get all the RBIs that come through their spot in the order, while never passing the rally down to the next guy. Makes them look great to sportswriters and award voters, but.... In addition, Simmons had his three best seasons at the exact time that his team had their three best (29-31 A's). That, too, will get you overrated. So will playing in the 1920s and 30s. He did miss about 20 games a year with nagging whatever, which does make his raw counting numbers look a little weaker than they really were. But it turns out that his averages and power were real, not just an era illusion, and his defense was outstanding. I'm not sure that he was really better than Raines, but I am sure that he was better than Yaz.

Also, although I gave no credit for this, Simmons spent several years of his life effectively managing the As for the elderly Connie Mack. He got no public credit for this. That's a contribution to a team and loyalty to a manager. I like it.

5. TIM RAINES

The third-best leadoff man in history, behind only Henderson and Hamilton. Through 1987, if you make the massive era adjustments, his career doesn't even look embarrassing next to the early (pre-48) Musial's, which is saying a lot. He's not as good as Stan, but he's close. But he got hurt that year, and just never recovered. It's sort of like combining the skills of the early Musial with the durability (and walks) of the late Kiner.

6. CARL YASTRZEMSKI

Wildly inconsistent early, with truly great seasons mixed in with truly ordinary ones. Then in 1970 or 71, he got hurt and, like Raines, never recovered. He is not a star of any sort in any season after 1970, and his last 5 years as a DH are so embarrassing that I don't even count them. He ranks better as an 18-season man.

7. FRED CLARKE

I tend to think of Fred Clarke as what would have happened to Jimmy Sheckard if Sheckard had become his own manager. When Clarke gets started in Louisville, he's playing left field while a revolving door is open in center, just like Sheckard. Why his managers never tried him there, I may never know. As soon as he becomes manager, the revolving door stops in center field. First, it's Dummy Hoy. Then Ginger Beaumont. Then Tommy Leach. And that's it. The odd thing is that, of the three, only Leach was certainly a better center fielder than Clarke would have been. But at least Clarke realized the value of having a star in center. Sheckard played next to a new guy almost every year. Clarke also understood what he could and could not do as a hitter, with the result that his placement in his batting orders makes sense, and the shape of his stats remains more or less consistent.

The other odd thing about Clarke is also about him as a manager. With Pittsburgh, at the beginning of the century, he developed what has to be the very best control pitching staff of all time. Deacon Phillippe. Sam Leever. Jesse Tannehill. Look 'em up. Then Babe Adams. Jeez. Ted Williams wouldn't have walked 50 times a year against those guys.

What I think was going on is this: in the 1890s, a few guys, led by McGraw and Hamilton, figured out that you could pile up tremendous offensive value if you sacrificed power and just hit for a very high average and took a hundred walks a year. Clarke realized what strength that kind of offense had, and just wasn't going to let it happen to his teams. Bill James talks about this happening in the early 1950s, with Robin Roberts as the feature guy. But compared to Deacon Phillippe, even Roberts had no idea where the strike zone might be.

And therefore, I will say this: if we were allowed to count contribution as a manager, I would have Fred Clarke ranked third here. I think he was a wonderful manager and student of the game. Comparable to Frank Selee.
   57. bjhanke Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:30 AM (#2912409)
This is Brock #2

8. MINNIE MINOSO

I seem to have Minnie ranked higher than the consensus, possibly because I approach his career differently than most of you seem to do. I spent no time on Negro League MLEs. Instead, I spent time trying to envision what his career might have looked like up through age 27 if he had been white. Minnie had his first full season in the bigs at age 28. If he had been white, he would have entered the league at age 21 or 22, probably with a couple of partial seasons. So let's say there are 5 or 6 FSEs to come up with. I used to have a tool, a couple of computers ago, that reverse-engineered Bill James' old BROCK2 formula. That is, the spreadsheet would take a career missing the early years and then backdate it until the player got too bad to play. If I still had it I would have used it. Instead, I had to guess. My guess ended with him right about here. Most of you seem to be giving him credit for a season or two of Negro League play. I'm giving him credit for 6 FSEs. And so, I have him ranked higher.

Oh, yeah. Back while I was in Indianapolis, I remembered Minoso as being on the 1959 Chisox. This is wrong. Their black star was Al Smith. Minoso was in Cleveland, and would not join the Sox until the next year.

9. BILLY WILLIAMS

I have no real idea of how to order the next 5 guys. They are so different from each other, and come up with such similar results in most hard math systems, that it's just hard to compare them.

Billy here was having a nice, standard, not-quite-Hall-of-Fame career until, in 1970, at the age of 32, he went on a three-season binge that puts him over the HoF (and HoM) borderline. Why? Well, here's one theory. As you know, in 1969, the Lords of Baseball decreed that the pitching mound be lowered. One season later, Billy Williams has his binge. Perhaps Williams had problems hitting sinking fastballs or sliders and the change helped him more than any other player. I don't know; that's my working theory. In any case, the binge is what puts him in the HoM at all, much less up here in the rankings. A poor defender.

10. WILLIE STUNGUN

Well, that's what Don Malcolm and I call him. The same situation as Williams. He has his two big seasons in 1971 and 73 at the ages of 31 and 33. Was he helped by the lowering of the mound? I don't know. The years are not as close to 1969 as Williams' are. In any case, I'm not going to make any deductions, like I am for Sherry Magee and Jesse Burkett, so he ends up ranked above them. A truly brutal defender, even at first. Really, a born DH.

11. JESSE BURKETT

Would rank above Williams and Stargell except for the following deduction: His best season, by a lot, is 1901. Well, 1901 is an expansion year, in effect. It has a high standard deviation, I would imagine. And with some gas taken out of that season, Jesse ends up here. A good defender, though not Clarke or Sheckard.

12. SHERRY MAGEE

Sherry had an injury in 1911, and for a couple of years his career looked like it was in collapse. His defense, in particular, was going to pieces, and he wasn't hitting much, either. Then 1914 came along and Lo! Sherry Magee was reborn! Well, no. What happened was the Federal League. Magee has a real hot 1914 and 15, and then goes back into a state of torpor, although he doesn't just collapse, like it looked like he would do in 1913.

13. JIMMY SHECKARD

Man, you could write a real good book about this guy. I mean, let's face it: Jimmy Sheckard's career looks like someone took the missing years from World War II, put them in a hat, and drew a few out in no particular order.

I speculated elsewhere in this thread that Jimmy might have been in the majors a couple of years before he was really ready. Paul Wendt suggested that the reason might have been a team with no budget for veterans, and suggested that I read me some newspapers from the time. So I did. I didn't find any mention of financial problems in Brooklyn, but I read maybe 50 columns, while Paul has probably read 500 or more. What I did find is what follows.

Jimmy came to the bigs in 1897 at the age of 18. He came up to fill in for Germany Smith, Brooklyn's injured starting shortstop, and likely to audition for the job. Smith, in his last full year, was really really finished. Sheckard, however, did not turn out to be a shortstop, and as soon as Germany was healed, Sheckard was on the bench. Brooklyn was a mediocre team, not a doormat, but that was about to change. Twice.

The Brooklyn offense was anchored around left fielder John Anderson, whom they traded early in the 1898 campaign. They then gave the left field job to Jimmy Sheckard, who at least could really play the position. However, they also inserted him into the cleanup slot in their lineup. Sheckard, at 19, was not a real cleanup hitter, but I looked up their roster and you know what? He was, indeed, the best hitter on Brooklyn that year. As you might guess, they were dreadful.

That might be why Sheckard started his career as a mid-order hitter; just a fluke of the Brooklyn roster. At the time, power hitters did not generally take walks. Their job was to drive runs in. Therefore, Sheckard did not take the walks for which he would later be famous.

Anyway, after a one-year hiatus in Baltimore, Sheckard returned to Brooklyn just in time to help them win the Temple Cup in 1900 (and THAT is one helluva two-year turnaround). After a few more years there, during which he played VERY well, he went to Chicago, just in time for 1906. He was certainly a help on the monster Cubbie teams; one of the best hitters on a squad that was really pitcher-driven.

In 1910, both Sheckard and Johnny Evers decide to really up the ante on taking those walks, and Sheckard transforms himself into a truly hot leadoff man. Unfortunately, he's already 32, and has only a couple of more years in him.

That's the outline of his career, but it omits one big thing: Jimmy's truly odd defensive career. As you all know. Sheckard is perhaps the best of all defensive left fielders. What you'd think, if you're me, is that he came up on a team with a superglove in center, and was just kept in left by that hot glove. No. He did come up behind a hot glove, Mike Griffin. But Griffin didn't stay in Brooklyn, nor did Jimmy. In 1899, Jimmy played right field in Baltimore, with Steve Brodie in center. Then back to Brooklyn, but with Fielder Jones in center. That's three different center fielders in three years, but at least they were all hot gloves. The weakest Bill James grade for any of the three is Griffin's A. The other two get A+.

OK, so it's weird so far, but it does make some sense. But then, it's 1901, and the Brooklyn center fielder is Tom McCreery. Grade C fielder. Then Cozy Dolan (C-). And then John Dobbs, who only played 5 years, and so doesn't have a Bill James ranking. That's six different center fielders in six years, and they're getting worse. There are two more years of Dobbs, and then Jimmy is off to the great Chicago Cubs of 1906. There he confronts three years of Jimmy Slagle (A), followed by Solly Hofman (A+) for 3 years, and then Tommy Leach (A+) until 1912, and then Jimmy is finished.

So Jimmy Sheckard, in a space of 16 years, played left field next to 9 different center fielders, of which 6 have A or A+ grades. But what happened in 1901? Tom McCreery is lousy, and then there's Cozy Dolan. How did Sheckard manage to avoid becoming the center fielder? I have no idea. But I doubt that you can find any other player who played that well next to that many center fielders, and never once got the job.

But then, this is Jimmy Sheckard.
   58. bjhanke Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:30 AM (#2912410)
This is Brock #3

14. GOOSE GOSLIN

Just what you all need: another Stan Musial story. In the Bill James Historical, you can find a quote from a contemporary of Goslin's, mentioning his exceptionally closed batting stance. The description sounds just like Stan Musial's famous superclosed stance, which has been a mystery for years.

Well, I think I might have figured this one out. As it happens, I've been stick fighting for 30 years now, and know a bit about stick hitting mechanics, although certainly not as much as a major league batter does. So what I did was take a bat and try to set up in Stan Musial's stance. And you know what? It worked. It gave me bat speed. What happened was that, as soon as I started taking my stride forward, my whole body turned, carrying my torso, my shoulders, and my arms with it. All I had to do was aim the bat at the ball, and follow through. Power came from my torso and rear end. The stance, essentially, wound my body up tight as a spring. As soon as I strode, all that torsion unloaded. Explains a lot about both Musial and Goslin.

One more Goslin note. In 1924, Goslin played for the Washington Senators. He hit 12 homers. The rest of the team hit ten, for a total of 22. The rest of the outfielders, starters and benchers included, hit one (Sam Rice). That matched Walter Johnson's total for the year. This team scored 755 runs and won the pennant. THAT is what Goslin's home park was like. Goose then hit three more taters in the World Series. And three more in the 1925 one.

15. JOE MEDWICK

I probably will have a high ranking for Medwick. What throws me here is the dissonance between the consensus ranking here and the consensus ranking of Bill James and Pete Palmer. The Historical Abstract has Medwick ranked 13th among left fielders. Total Baseball, skimming through the Total Player Rankings, has him even higher, at 11th. Those two are not generally that close, except on the absolute top end superstars. I place a lot of credibility any time the two have a consensus.

I looked at Medwick's numbers in detail to figure out where the problem comes from. As far as I can figure out, James and Palmer think much more of Medwick's peak than anyone here. Bill gives Medwick 40 Win Shares for his best season. That's higher than anyone ranked lower than Medwick among left fielders, except for Elmer Smith, who was a pitcher in 1887. Joe's second-best season comes in at 36 WS. No one lower can match that except for Sherry Magee's years during the Federal League (Magee didn't play in the Fed, but its dilution of talent all across the bigs made Magee look better than he was). Medwick's third-best year comes in at 33 WS. No one lower can match it. His five-year peak ranks at 157 WS. No one lower.... But there are 8 people who have more career WS than Medwick despite ranking lower, and many people who have more WS per 162 games. Palmer doesn't have such detailed breakdowns, but Medwick's TPR is hurt by several seasons at the end of his career that have negative values, because Pete uses the statistical mean as his zero point. According to TB, Medwick would rank higher if he had retired six years earlier than he did.

One last thing. Everyone's ballpark adjustments for St. Louis hurt Medwick. He was a righty in Sportsman's Park. That park was about neutral for righties. It was a bandbox for lefties. Makes a difference in the ranking.

In the end, I decided to split the difference between the consensus here and the consensus of the two Founding Fathers.

16. ZACK WHEAT

About even with Goslin and Medwick. His big feature, of course, is his improbable two-year comeback from an injury in 1924-25, when he was in his late 30s. I have no idea what to make of those years, but they obviously count. And, as a result, Wheat has only one year of a decline phase.

17. HARRY STOVEY

Stovey ends up here because the guys behind him have fewer seasons of any real value in their careers. I did make a deduction for the quality of AA play, but I also added some in for the short schedules. I didn't make any adjustments for stolen bases or errors, because I don't have any idea how big an adjustment to make. Here's the sb / error case as I see it:

A stolen base was worth more in Stovey's time than it is now. This is because the chance of an error is much greater, so you get a lot of 2 and 3-base "stolen bases." That throws the break-even point out of whack compared to the modern one, which explains the high volume / low stolen base percentages of early baseball. There are no caught stealing data for Stovey's time, so we have no idea how much of this advantage he gave up by running too often. However, he was a premier base stealer and those guys, in modern days, tend to have high percentages. If this is true of Stovey, then he might have a lot of stolen base value unaccounted for. Remember, too, that he was getting a lot more catcher errors in his stolen base attempts. That is, he was getting 2-base "stolen bases" that aren't even counted as SBs. They're counted as catcher errors. In short, I firmly believe that a lot of Stovey's stolen bases should be counted as doubles or triples, in terms of their impact on the game.

The same is true of ground balls for fast runners, and lefty hitters. Those guys beat out more grounders that hit pebbles, and they go to second more often on errant throws. Those things happened much more often in Stovey's time than they do now.

The big problem is trying to quantify this in the lack of light of any decent stats. No caught stealings. No way to find out who hit into how many errors. Certainly no way to figure out how many bases the errors were giving up. No way to determine how many stolen base attempts ended up scored as E2 instead of SB. My guess is that a stolen base in Stovey's time has approximately 1 1/2 times as much value as it does now, while the negative value of a caught stealing hasn't much changed. But that's a guess, based mainly on dead-ball era stolen base percentages and catcher error percentages.

As I said, I made no adjustments for this. Stovey ends up ahead of Keller, Kelley, and Kiner because of their short productive careers compared to Harry's. But in reality, he could deserve to be anywhere from below them to above Sheckard. I don't know and I have no way of finding out, unless we uncover some play-by-play data from the 1880s.

18. JOE KELLEY

My opinion is that there is almost no difference between Kelley, Keller, and Kiner. They all have short careers of any real value, and then some other seasons. That is, they're all sort of George Sisler types. I ranked them according to defense, because that was the only serious difference I could find.

Joe Kelley's last six seasons don't have much to offer. His first two have even less. That's 8 years out of his 17. The remaining 9 years are good, but not great; he has a noticeably weaker peak than Keller or Kiner. But they have a bit shorter careers of value, so it evens out.

19. CHARLIE KELLER

In Bill James's system, Charlie has a slightly lower peak (both 3 and 5-year) and a little less career value than Ralph Kiner. But his Win Shares per 162 games are noticeably higher because his weak seasons are partials, whereas Kiner was played full time even after he had stopped being RALPH KINER. Charlie was the better defender.

20. RALPH KINER

His 5-year stretch between 1947 and 1951 is truly great, easily better than anything Keller or Kelley can offer. But that was when he led the league in homers AND hit over .250. There are two more years, framing the five-year run, when he led in taters, but hit for lousy averages, so the seasons don't amount to much. And then, there are the other years. A brutal defender. A true peak voter will have him ranked over Keller, Kelley, and Stovey. I'm not one.

21. CHARLEY JONES

Charley didn't enter the bigs until he was 25, which is a little late for this caliber of player. He had his peak right on time, got derailed by the blacklist, and then came back for about three of the American Association's weak early years, and was dominant. But if you take some AA gas out of those 3 seasons, his missing years really hurt, both the blacklist years and the lack of early play.
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: August 22, 2008 at 04:10 AM (#2912421)
Some quick comments on Brock's ballot:

re Minnie Minoso:

One reason you have him ranked higher is that you are working with outdated information on Minoso's year of birth. He is younger than it was long believed that he was. He was not 28 during his first full season in the big leagues, but 25 (in 1951).

Check out his page at baseball-reference.

If you look at Minoso as a player who got his break at 25 and who was done at 38, you see a very different player than one who got his break at 28 and was done at 41.

re Billy Williams: Why do you see him as a poor defender?

re Willie Stargell: It's often thought that it was the move from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium that helped him, but I don't think his splits support that conclusion. My guess is just that he was healthier than usual for longer stretches in those two seasons.
   60. OCF Posted: August 22, 2008 at 04:17 AM (#2912423)
I was about to post essentially the same comment about age that Chris just did. The Minoso thread makes for good reading even now.
   61. OCF Posted: August 22, 2008 at 04:38 AM (#2912430)
About Stovey's speed: it's not just stolen bases that we're looking at. It's also extra base hits. He led leagues in HR five times, with several other years among the league leaders. My best guess is that not very many of those HR flew over fences. He also led leagues in triples and total bases. It is true that the XBH are directly part of his batting record - but you also have the effect that Brock was talking about of overthrows and extra bases. Circling the bases and having it recorded as a triple and an error, or going to third on a double.

But you may notice that, longtime Stovey defender that I am, I wound up voting him 20th. The AA discount, and the time at RF and 1B, just sucked away too much of my support for me to have him above that.
   62. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 08:16 AM (#2912474)
bjhanke--Billy Williams was a poor defender? The stats certainly don't say so.

Also, using the defensive stats available to us, Burkett's best year was 1896.
   63. bjhanke Posted: August 22, 2008 at 09:32 AM (#2912479)
Chris Cobb says, "One reason you have him (Minoso) ranked higher is that you are working with outdated information on Minoso's year of birth. He is younger than it was long believed that he was. He was not 28 during his first full season in the big leagues, but 25 (in 1951)."

Oh, wow, thank you!!! That's not one reason; that's the whole reason. I had no idea there was any problem with Minnie's age. I am so glad I left the opportunity open to change my votes. Minoso will certainly go down. I knew there was something funny going on with what you guys were saying and voting, but I didn't know what it was except focusing on Negro League MLEs. I should have checked out the thread, but I thought all it would have was Negro League MLEs. My fault.

Dan R says, "Billy Williams was a poor defender? The stats certainly don't say so."
Also, using the defensive stats available to us, Burkett's best year was 1896."

About Billy Williams' defense: Part of my opinion comes from watching him play, which mostly means in the caverns of Busch Stadium after 1966. Williams really didn't have the range to play there, although I'm sure he was fine in Wrigley. But in Busch, I'd rather have Lou Brock, who had speed but nothing else to offer. If you only saw Williams in Wrigley or on TV, you wouldn't see that. And maybe it only applied to the larger stadiums of the era. Now, I would not make a judgment based only on that. I check out the defensive rankings of Pete Palmer and Bill James, trusting Bill over Pete when there's a conflict. Bill gives Williams a C, which, in Bill's system, is poor. Pete has him down as at least average and maybe better. I went with my eyes and Bill's system. I could be wrong. Defense is a mess to evaluate.

About Burkett: I wasn't talking about just defense. Palmer gives Burkett a TPR of 5.2 in 1901, 3.1 in 1899, 3.0 in 1900, and 2.7 in 1896. Bill James gives Jesse 38 Win Shares in 1901, 35 in 1895, 30 in 1899, and 29 in both 1898 and 1896. In both systems, the drop from 1901 to the other years is overpowering. His defense alone, I didn't try to analyze yearly.

OCF says, "But you may notice that, longtime Stovey defender that I am, I wound up voting him 20th. The AA discount, and the time at RF and 1B, just sucked away too much of my support for me to have him above that."

You deduct for playing first base in the 1880s? I don't, especially when the player begins his career at first and then is moved to the outfield as he ages. Here's a quick anecdote: When I was working up Jimmy Sheckard, you may remember that I have him coming up at age 18 to try out at shortstop. That didn't work, so Brooklyn went to plan B. Plan B was to ask Candy La Chance, the team's starting first baseman, to move over to shortstop. I'm not kidding. It was all over the newspaper columns that September, and it did happen the next April. La Chance didn't want to go, and so it didn't work out, but that's a completely different view of first base as a defensive position than we have now. And that's the late 1890s. In the 1880s, with no gloves, much less mitts, first was a tough, tough spot. This is really true until the end of the dead ball era with all the bunting. And, as Bill mentions, John McGraw never did wean himself from the model of a first baseman as a defender first.
   64. Chris Cobb Posted: August 22, 2008 at 01:58 PM (#2912562)
Bill gives Williams a C, which, in Bill's system, is poor.

Not for his position. Remember, James grades all outfielders together, so the centerfielders grab most of the good grades. It is only the outstanding corner outfielders (esp. those with fairly long careers) who get even B grades. We worked out, once, long ago, what the true positional average grades for CF and for the corners were in James' system. I don't have time to hunt for that this morning, but I am pretty sure that an average centerfielder would earn a B+, while an average corner outfielder earns about a C.

Among Williams' near contemporaries, Roberto Clemente, whom _everyone_ agrees was a great defensive right fielder, earns a B- in James' system. Al Kaline earns a B-. Hank Aaron earns a C+, and his defense was very good. All three of these players were better in their prime, of course, but still, grades top out for modern corner outfielders at about B-.

Here's somewhat more detailed illustration. I used BB-ref to get lists of starting players in LF and RF in 1968, around the middle of Williams' career: this is a fair sample of his contemporaries. I looked up their letter grades in _Win Shares_. Here's the list (players who didn't log enough OF innings to get a grade are omitted), sorted by grade.

B Vic Davalillo (CF)

B- Jimmy Wynn (half CF)
B- Roberto Clemente
B- Johnny Callison
B- Tony Oliva
B- Pete Rose

C+ Cleon Jones
C+ Carl Yastrzemski
C+ Bob Allison
C+ Jim Northrup
C+ Frank Robinson
C+ Hank Aaron
C+ Roger Maris
C+ Ron Swoboda

C Billy Williams
C Roy White
C Joe Rudi
C Jesus Alou
C Ron Fairly

C- Lou Brock
C- Tito Francona
C- Willie Stargell
C- Lee Maye
C- Rick Reichardt
C- Reggie Jackson

D+ Alex Johnson
D+ Frank Howard
D+ Willie Horton

The only player who earns a B on this list is Davalillo, who is really a career center fielder, listed here only by the accident that he happened to play the most games in RF in 1968 for team that didn't actually have a starting right fielder. Jimmy Wynn is also more a center fielder than a corner guy, with 1182 games in CF and 658 on the corners. If we leave them out, the corner outfield distribution of grades becomes

4 B-
8 C+
5 C
6 C-
3 D+

The median grade is C, so for corner outfield, the C defenders are, in the view of Win Shares, around average. The poor and bad corner outfielders take the C- and D+ grades; the good and great take the C+ and B- grades, at least for the period 1960-75, for which the 1968 season provides a snapshot.
   65. andrew siegel Posted: August 22, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#2912571)
Weird to leave off 2 of the top 4 (Bonds and Henderson).

1) Williams--Top 5 All-Time.
2) Musial--Top 10 or 12 All-Time.
3) Delahanty--About 40th All-Time; surprisingly the only other retired LF who was clearly the best player in baseball for more than a blink of the eye.
4) Raines--Most of his value came in a 7 or 8 year extended prime, but they were extraordinary years.
5) Burkett--We eelected him immediately but never really discussed or appreciated his accomplishments.
6) Yaz--3 or 4 super-elite seasons and then an extraordinarily long HoVG career make for a very nice resume.
7) Simmons--Nothing to add.
8) Clarke--Career was better and longer than I remember.
9) Keller--Giving him war and minor league credit, he had a superior 7 or 8 year run.
10) Williams--Never super-elite, but excellent for a longtime.
11) Magee--I like his best seasons a lot, but the next 6 are close. Could rank much lower.
12) Stargell--Pluses: big bat, great intangibles; minuses: most everything else. But hitting counts mosts.
13) Wheat--Run-of-the-mill HoMer.
14) Goslin--Him too.
15) Kelley--Him three.
16) Minoso--Case for him as a top-tier HoMer depended on erroneous birth information. With correct birthdate, he projects as a bottom third HoMer.
17) Sheckard--Weird career pattern but legitimate bottom-quartile HoMer.
18) Stovey--Consistent, very good player with lots of positives; the numbers put him squarely on the borderline, however.
19) C. Jones--His AA seasons weren't that impressive when you translate, but perfectly reasonable to cut him some slack for rust. One of the very last players in my PHoM.
20) Medwick--When both the HoM and Win Shares overrate a guy, we are almost sure to follow. In retrospect, a very minor misake.
21) Kiner--Only 3 or 4 years when he was great and verry little to go along with it. Also, a minor misake.
   66. Paul Wendt Posted: August 22, 2008 at 02:22 PM (#2912590)
Quotations from Brock's ballot #56-58 unless noted otherwise.

56. bjhanke Posted: August 21, 2008 at 11:29 PM (#2912407)
Well, here's mine. I reserve the right to make small changes until Sunday, because there are so many players so close that a good argument could change my mind. But if I haven't changed anything by the deadline, then this is it. Oh, yeah. I wrote too many long comments. The ballot won't send to this list in one post. I had to break it down into three. For those of you who do the tabulating, the simple ordered list of names is the first thing in this post. - Brock

Hi, Brock
The only thing that's too long is the apology! Everyone has the right to revise a ballot by posting a new one. Your vote is identified as yours, easy enough to replace.
Your comments are good to excellent.
- Minoso, the functional comment :-)
- Sheckard and Stovey, the provocative comment, or should I say exhumtive because they provoke me to exhume the Sheckard and Stovey threads? I will not comment on these two now, Friday morning, but postpone.
- Billy Williams in the field, worth exhuming his thread now?

Miscellaneous

re Ted:
That idea is that, in addition to the five traditional scouts' "tools", there is a sixth: strike zone judgment. It's a tool, not a learned skill

But base on balls rate commonly increases during a player's major league career. We commonly say that a player has learned or is leanring strike zone judgment. You disagree.

re Stan:
Solly Hemus, an atrocious manager by all accounts, sent Joe Cunningham AND Bill White out into right field, while Musial said not a word at first. Neither Joe nor Bill was an outfielder at all, and there was no excuse for Musial to be at first base with those two on the roster.

That's ironic to me because in my time (barely his Philly seasons; I was in elementary school and not in that region) Bill White was supposed to be a good to excellent fielder at first. (not to make too much of it, "Bill White good, Joe Pepitone bad")

on the Pirates dynasty:
The other odd thing about Clarke is also about him as a manager. With Pittsburgh, at the beginning of the century, he developed what has to be the very best control pitching staff of all time. Deacon Phillippe. Sam Leever. Jesse Tannehill. Look 'em up. Then Babe Adams. Jeez. Ted Williams wouldn't have walked 50 times a year against those guys.

When you look 'em up begin with Jesse Tannehill at baseball-reference. His four most "Similar Pitchers" are Phillippe, Chesbro, Babe Adams, and Leever and none of the others can match that. (That is #1-2-3-4 from the 1900-1902 pitching staffs and #5-6-7 from the 1909 pitching staff.)

on Sherry Magee:
1914 came along and Lo! Sherry Magee was reborn! Well, no. What happened was the Federal League. Magee has a real hot 1914 and 15, and then goes back into a state of torpor, although he doesn't just collapse, like it looked like he would do in 1913.

Sherry Magee's years during the Federal League (Magee didn't play in the Fed, but its dilution of talent all across the bigs made Magee look better than he was).

I don't buy this.
1a) The dilution was minor, although greater in the NL than AL. b) Everyone who remained in the league should have benefited from dilution.
2a) There isn't that much up-and-down to explain. b) With 1914>1915 and 1913>1916 (by OPS+) it seems equally plausible that he was getting older and he had tailored his game to Philly. He wasn't very good after his twenties or after Philadelphia, age 19-29 and 1904-1914.
   67. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:11 PM (#2912649)
DRA has Billy Williams at +32. BP FRAA has him at +56. And the only thing being a C outfielder means in Bill's letter grade system is that you are not a CF. Actually, Win Shares is quite fond of Williams's D--he accumulated 14 more Win Shares over his career than a league-average LF would have had during his playing time. After correcting for the fact that WS absurdly squeezes the range of corner OF fielding ability, that translates to +48 runs over his career. All three systems are in fairly close agreement that Williams was a somewhat above-average defender. As for your own anecdotal evidence, with all due respect, how many chances did you see him get?

As for Burkett, what I meant was that after taking defensive stats into account, 1896 was Burkett's best overall year, not 1901. But I'll partially retract that. The latest version of FRAA has him at -1 in 1901 (compared to -7 in the version I used to make my WARP), although Fielding WS does give him 0.9 below average that year (which translates to -7), and DRA (a more accurate system) actually says +10. If Burkett's fielding in 1901 was even average, then it was definitely his best year as you say.

But on the standard deviation point, I think you've got it backwards. Although the AL was founded in 1901, the *only* HoM position players who crossed over were Lajoie (who promptly hit .426) and Jimmy Collins (plus John McGraw, who I think should be in the HoM, but he only played half the year). By contrast, the NL merely had Wagner, Burkett, Flick, Sheckard, Delahanty, Wallace, Clarke, George Davis, Crawford, Beckley, Keeler, Dahlen, Kelley, and Hamilton. As a result, there was not only a giant league strength disparity (players moving from the 1900 NL to the 1901 NL gained just 0.5 batting wins a season, while those moving from the 1900 NL to the 1901 AL gained 2.7 batting wins a season, although there may be selective sampling issues with that due to the low number of crossovers), but also a giant standard deviation disparity. Since the 1901 NL had virtually all the stars, its standard deviation (measuring offense alone for now) was the seventh-highest of all league-seasons since 1893 (after a bunch of years where Ruth drove the AL stdev to the clouds, and the 1941 Williams-DiMaggio-Cecil Travis AL), while the 1901 AL stdev is in the lowest 20% of all league-seasons in that period. Thus, contrary to what Stephen Jay Gould would have you believe, the higher standard deviation was evidence of higher, not lower, quality of play. It's the 1901 AL stats that need the air taken out of them, despite having a low standard deviation that would superficially make it seem difficult to dominate, while the 1901 NL stats if anything should be boosted upwards for league strength. (The same thing, to a lesser extent, is true of the teens, when Collins/Cobb/Speaker were tearing up the AL and all the NL had to write home about was Gavvy Cravath and George Burns).

The 1901 NL was indubitably easier to dominate than the 1900 NL. But I do not think it was easier to dominate than the mid-1890's NL, because the higher run scoring environment in those years (which correlates positively to standard deviation) just about cancels out the expansion effect. My standard deviation adjustments show that the 1894 NL should be regressed a full 16% towards the mean, 1895 13%, 1896 10%, 1897 11%, 1898 5%, 1899 10%, 1900 -2% (i.e, wins/runs above/below average should be multiplied by 1.02), and 1901 9% (both leagues). Then you need to make interleague (AL vs. NL) strength adjustments on top of that for 1901.
   68. Paul Wendt Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:26 PM (#2912674)
The 1901 NL was indubitably easier to dominate than the 1900 NL. But I do not think it was easier to dominate than the mid-1890's NL, because the higher run scoring environment in those years (which correlates positively to standard deviation) just about cancels out the expansion effect.

Dan, is that a strong correlation, for 1893-200x, between league runs/game and standard deviation of player wins (some intermediate sabrmetric before adjustment for standard deviation)?

--
I have exhumed Billy Williams as threatened or promised.
If I knew how to make a specific link using the post number (such as 63. #2912479), I would include a reference to Brock's observations on Williams in the field, with rejoinders by Chris Cobb and DanR (#63-67).
   69. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 03:39 PM (#2912692)
League RPG is one of the most important factors in my regression equation used to estimate the true ease of domincance of a given league-season. So yes, it's a strong correlation.
   70. bjhanke Posted: August 22, 2008 at 07:31 PM (#2913012)
OK, this is getting interesting and fun. Does anyone have a comment about Joe Medwick? That's the other one, besides Minoso, that I was worried about because I was not in agreement with a pretty close consensus.

I'll get to Williams' defense and Magee and Burkett's hot seasons, but those are longer posts than I have time for right now. Part of the defense thing is that I, like Bill, rank outfielders as outfielders. As you can see from my ballot, when I see a left fielder with an A grade, like Sheckard and Clarke, the first thing I do is try to figure out why he wasn't in center.

Paul, though, says, responding to my comments,

"That idea is that, in addition to the five traditional scouts' "tools", there is a sixth: strike zone judgment. It's a tool, not a learned skill

But base on balls rate commonly increases during a player's major league career. We commonly say that a player has learned or is leanring strike zone judgment. You disagree."

Yes, I'm afraid I do. Home run power increases over time, too, while running speed and defense generally drop. They're still tools. I think that the one thing worth getting out of all the Jeremy Brown nonsense was that Paul De Podesta had figured out that if you had a guy who took lots of walks in college, he would take at least a good number in the pro game. He was right about that; Brown just couldn't do much of anything else. It's only one tool out of six. But yes, I do think it's a tool. And I do agree that we commonly talk about it as though it were not. That's why I thought the insight from Moneyball was the one worthwhile thing in the book. I think we (meaning all baseball observers, not the HoM) should change our perception and rhetoric on this issue.

"re Stan:
Solly Hemus, an atrocious manager by all accounts, sent Joe Cunningham AND Bill White out into right field, while Musial said not a word at first. Neither Joe nor Bill was an outfielder at all, and there was no excuse for Musial to be at first base with those two on the roster.

That's ironic to me because in my time (barely his Philly seasons; I was in elementary school and not in that region) Bill White was supposed to be a good to excellent fielder at first. (not to make too much of it, "Bill White good, Joe Pepitone bad")"

You are absolutely correct. Your childhood memories underrate Bill White's defense at first, if anything. White was a really fine first baseman. Maybe even in Wes Parker and Vic Power's class. But he wasn't an outfielder. He just could not judge a fly ball at all. Having him in the outfield and Musial at first was a really huge error for a manager to make. Musial was much the better outfielder, and White was MUCH the better first baseman.
   71. OCF Posted: August 22, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2913087)
Does anyone have a comment about Joe Medwick?

In my offense-only system, his 1937 scores as a 97. That's essentially equivalent to Norm Cash 1961 or Will Clark 1989 - it's an absolutely tremendous year. The full sorted line looks like this:

97 66 64 35 33 29 28 26 24 21 and then a bunch of not-much years.

So there's a huge dropoff after his third best year. When I make the kind of ad-hoc aggregate of the whole line, with some rewards for high peaks and also using a little of a lower-baseline number that rewards career, I get him about level with Frank Howard and Joe Kelley and pretty similar to a war-credit extrapolated version of Keller.

It turns out that I'm actually Medwick's best friend so far. I have him 14th, to Brock's 15th. His average rank among all voters so far is 17.9 (which puts him 20th).
   72. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 09:03 PM (#2913164)
bjhanke--there's no doubt that Ducky's 1937 was a terrific season, although it's actually a nudge below average for a guy who was the best position player in his league. But that's his only year that screams, Peak! He was also excellent in the two preceding years--they were both typical of a guy who is the best player at his position in his league--but that's just not enough peak for a guy with his weak career. He's got another four All-Star caliber seasons, three more as an above-average regular, and filler. That's riiight on the in/out line for me.

OCF--you have Clark's offense in '89 with the same value above average as Cash's in '61? Before adjusting for standard deviations (which I don't think you do), I have Cash as a full 1.2 wins higher.
   73. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 09:10 PM (#2913195)
A little early this time, I will be out of town all weekend.

Basically I used DanR's WARP, turn it into Pennants Added (the number you see below in parenthesis) and then tweak. The numbers below include credit for time in the military service unless noted. This time, I'll include some others that aren't HoMers and where they'd rank.

1. Ted Williams (2.99) - With full war credit he has more value than Ruth, if you don't include Ruth's pitching. I'm not convinced Bonds was better, and I don't give any steroid demerits. As crazy as it sounds, he's probably underrated by general public.

Barry Bonds (2.70 through 2005)

2. Stan Musial (2.23) - Not much to add, he's as great as everyone thinks he was. Clearly #2 behind Williams, and just as clearly way ahead of everyone else except Bonds.

Rickey Henderson (1.74)

3. Ed Delahanty (1.15) - those numbers don't count 1888-1892. He wasn't great then, but he did have a big year in 1892, so I think it's reasonable to jump him ahead of the pack. Pretty underrated historically.

4. Tim Raines (1.23) - Probably the best eligible player the Hall of Fame hasn't elected. Easily the best on the current ballot. I do have hope though, 24.3% first time out isn't bad, and if we could get a groundswell of support for him, he could eventually make it. This year is pretty important, if he shoots up to 35%, I have no doubt he'll get in. If he drops to 15%, he's going to end up like Trammell. He was probably the best player in baseball from 1983-87, either Raines, Schmidt, Boggs or Henderson, it's close.

5. Carl Yastrzemski (1.23) - There's definitely a great peak and a long career, what more could you ask for?

6. Fred Clarke (1.14) - Long solid career, never a monster season, but many very good ones. Kind of the Billy Williams of the turn of the century, but a little better.

7. Jesse Burkett (1.05) - numbers don't include 1890-1892. He's still just a hair behind his near contemporary Clarke for me.

8. Billy Williams (1.05) - Best year 1972 at the age of 34 - maybe the streak, especially with all the Wrigley day games hurt him like it probably did Ripken? Great career, how did those 1960s Cubs never hit lightning in a bottle one year and win a pennant?

Manny Ramirez - if you include him as a LF (probably still a RF) I'd put him about here.

9. Al Simmons (1.02) - Some huge years from 1929-31. Those A's teams were pretty amazing.

10. Zack Wheat (.96) - Doesn't get a lot of credit, but it's a very good, long career. No monster season, just 16 years of reliable offense, which is worth a lot.

11. Jimmy Sheckard (.95) - Some huge years, and some very average ones. Very strange career arc, but when you sum it all up, there's a lot of value.

12. Minnie Minoso (.96) - I think going all the way back to 1947 for him might be a stretch, but I'm going to, the numbers here include credit for 1947-50. Start with 1949, and he'd be down to about Medwicks's ranking.

13. Sherry Magee (.93) - Forgotten star of the 1900s NL.

14. Willie Stargell (.93) - If only he could have stayed healthy. A force when in the lineup, but not in the lineup enough.

15. Joe Kelley (.93) - Doesn't include his 1891-1892, but theres little if any value there anyway.

16. Goose Goslin (.89) - Just a hair behind this pack, but still very worthy. One of my all-time favorite players, and my alias at What If Sports. For my 1924 Diamond Mind league team, he hit the World Series winning 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th, off Emil Yde and KJOK's Cardinals, into the RF bleachers at Yankee Stadium. We won the game and series 4-3, still one of the all-time great highlights of my fantasy playing life.

17. Charlie Keller (.88) - One more year at his peak, and he moves up between Wheat and Simmons. It's a tight group down here. Peak wise you could probably put him as high as #5 or #6. I'm pretty sure he's going to be ranked way too high by this group, as it seems like the peak voters have turned out much stronger than the career guys for these positional ballots.

18. Charley Jones - His OPS+ was 150 compared to Kiner's 149. He couldn't have been a worse defender, and had a longer career, even with no credit for his blacklist years. His numbers later in his career were somewhat inflated by the AA, but he was still a great hitter.

19. Harry Stovey - He needs some docking for playing his entire prime in the AA, but he was still a good hitter, most likely a great base-runner and definitely a very good player. I like him a little better than Medwick.

20. Joe Medwick (.85) - What a year in 1937. A true star from 1935-37, resk of his career just very good, and not much value after 1942. The numbers here do not discount him for 1943-45, but 1944 was the only year he had much value anyway.

Jose Cruz (.80) - Ultimate late bloomer and raw stats destroyed by the AstroDome..

Luis Gonzalez (.78) - number is through 2005. I didn't realize he'd rank this highly either.

Bob Johnson (.86) - that number doesn't give a war deduction for his play from 1943-45, but I'd still have him a little ahead of Kiner.

21. Ralph Kiner (.77) - I think we dropped the ball here. He was a great player from 1947-51. A good one from 1952-54. And that's it? Not quite enough for me. Rizzuto, for example, was a much better player, considering they ended about the same time, Rizzuto started a few years earlier. His 1950 was more valuable than Kiner's 1951.

Roy White (.74)
George Burns (.73)
Albert Belle (.72)
George Foster (.68)
Jim Rice (.64) - Bill James was right. Please don't elect Jim Rice to the Hall of Fame before Tim Raines, who was almost 2x as valuable during his career.
Lou Brock (.62)
   74. OCF Posted: August 22, 2008 at 09:46 PM (#2913304)
Dan - I don't adjust for standard deviations, but I do adjust for run context changing the win value of runs - and I think it's the low run environment of 1999 that does part of it, along with RC being particularly friendly to lines that look like Clark's.

Joe is the latest of several people to give an explicit ranking for Henderson. Since he's a dead-certain 2009 HoMer, I see his case as fundamentally different than Bonds (probably eligible 2013) and Ramirez (still active). So far, I haven't seen anyone place Henderson anywhere other than third, and most people have expressed things that look exactly like Joe's numbers above: nowhere close to Musial above him, nowhere close to Delahanty (or Yaz, or whoever) below him. I think we can pretty comfortably assume that that's exactly where Henderson fits on our ranking.
   75. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2008 at 10:38 PM (#2913374)
Yes, OCF, I'm measuring in win-value as well. I am very interested to see how we are getting such different results here--run estimators should not differ by this order of magnitude without a good reason. (I found a very interesting reason why my numbers are much less friendly to Musial's 1948 than BP's UEQR is: their estimator places much more relative weight on 2B and 3B compared to the other events than mine does, and Musial had 64 2B+3B that year).

Here is the nitty-gritty of my calculation:

Cash: 122 1B @.5 + 22 2B @.72 + 8 3B @1.04 + 41 HR @1.44 + 114 unintentional BB + HBP @.33 + 19 IBB @.25 + 11 SB@.18 + 5 CS @-.32 + 2 SF @.37 + 85 SO @-.106 + 257 fielded out @-.097 -.82 Net double plays @-.37 + 0.0 estimated non SB-baserunning runs = 154.43 eXtrapolated Runs. Divided by a 1.03 park factor is 149.9 XR. 342 AB - H + 5 CS + 2 SF - .82 Net double plays = 348.18 outs. The average AL team that year had 4163 outs, minus 348.18 is 3814.82 outs for the teammates. The league scored .1764 runs per out, so that's 672.9 XR for the teammates, plus Cash's 149.9, makes 822.8. The average team scored 734.2 runs in 162 games in the 1961 AL, so the Pythagorean exponent is ((822.8+734.2)/162)^.285 = 1.906, and the team's projected winning percentage is thus .554, .054 above average. .054 times 162 games is 8.8 wins above average.

Clark: 126 1B @0.5 + 38 2B @.72 + 9 3B @1.04 + 23 HR @1.44 + 65 unintentional BB + HBP @.33 + 14 IBB @.25 + 8 SB@.18 + 3 CS @-.32 + 8 SF @.37 + 103 SO @-.106 + 289 fielded out @-.097 -7.74 Net double plays @-.37 -0.9 non-SB baserunning runs = 124.46 XR. Divided by an 0.97 park factor is 128.3 XR. 392 AB - H + 3 CS + 8 SF - 7.74 Net double plays = 395.26 outs. The average NL team that year had 4238 outs, minus 395.26 is 3842.74 outs for the teammates. The league scored .1509 runs per out, so that's 579.87 XR for the teammates, plus Clark's 128.3, makes 708.2. The average team scored 639.4 runs in 162 games in the 1989 NL, so the Pythagorean exponent is ((708.2+639.4)/162)^.285 = 1.829, and the team's projected winning percentage is thus .5466, .0466 above average. .0466 times 162 games is 7.5 wins above average.
   76. KJOK Posted: August 23, 2008 at 05:32 AM (#2913705)
OCF says, "But you may notice that, longtime Stovey defender that I am, I wound up voting him 20th. The AA discount, and the time at RF and 1B, just sucked away too much of my support for me to have him above that."

You deduct for playing first base in the 1880s? I don't, especially when the player begins his career at first and then is moved to the outfield as he ages. Here's a quick anecdote: When I was working up Jimmy Sheckard, you may remember that I have him coming up at age 18 to try out at shortstop. That didn't work, so Brooklyn went to plan B. Plan B was to ask Candy La Chance, the team's starting first baseman, to move over to shortstop. I'm not kidding. It was all over the newspaper columns that September, and it did happen the next April. La Chance didn't want to go, and so it didn't work out, but that's a completely different view of first base as a defensive position than we have now. And that's the late 1890s. In the 1880s, with no gloves, much less mitts, first was a tough, tough spot. This is really true until the end of the dead ball era with all the bunting. And, as Bill mentions, John McGraw never did wean himself from the model of a first baseman as a defender first.


I think it's been all the way back to the beginning of this project when we hashed out the 19th century defensive spectrum. To recap:

1. Many Fields were laid out similar to the LA Coliseum baseball layout, only with RF and LF reversed, so that LF was often very large, and RF extremely small.

2. Teams played their backup or change pitchers in RF, or their worst defensive player. RF was the far right place on the defensive spectrum.

3. The IF was where the action was. Players hit many fewer balls to the OF. Lots of bunting, slap hitting, etc.

4. Gloves were at first non-exitent, then crude, etc. Just being able to catch and throw the ball was as important as range.

5. 3rd baseman had a lot of responsibility and chances, with all of the bunting, runners going from first or second to third, etc. 3rd base defensively was basically "2nd best shortstop" on the team.

6. 1st base was very important, with all of the bunting, runners going to other bases (meaning 1st baseman had to be able to throw), and of course he had to catch the ball. Probably more imporant position than 2nd base, at least in the early 19th century.

Putting it all together, and the generalized 19th century defensive spectrum would be something like:

C...SS.3B...1B.2B....CF.LF..RF.P
   77. mulder & scully Posted: August 23, 2008 at 06:45 AM (#2913724)
Left Fielders:

I use both WS and DanR WARP and I used to treat them about 50/50, but now I emphasize the WARP.

Career: the whole thing with war credit, NeL, Blacklist, some MiL.
Peak: best three years in a row. This helps the players who stay in the lineup. Need to watch for players like Medwick and Joe Jackson who have great three year stretches then really don’t match that level again.
Prime: best seven years. I do give tie breaks to the players with a more extended prime.
Seasonal: per year. What did you do when you were playing? Helps the Frank Chances.
All WARP ranks are out 19 because we don’t have WARP for Charley Jones or Harry Stovey.

1. Ted Williams: Best career, prime, peak, and “seasonal” score in WARP. His WARP seasonal score (non-War adjusted) of 8.70 is almost 2 wins better than second place, Delahanty’s 6.89. WITHOUT War Credit, he has 9 years over 7 WARP, 6 over 9, and 4 over 10. There is a player, Zack Wheat, who only has 6 years over 4. Williams has 6 over 9. Another example of how crazy good Williams was: Williams had 17 seasons without war interference. He has 15 years over 4 WARP! Yaz, a consensus top 5 pick, in 23 years, had 8. 14 time all-star.

2. Stan Musial: Second best career, prime, peak, and third “seasonal” score in WARP. The distance from Musial to Delahanty in third is greater than the distance from Delahanty to 21st. Musial comes close to Williams without war credit: 9 years over 7, 6 over 9, and 2 over 10. 15 years an all-star.

3. Ed Delahanty: Seventh in career, fifth in peak, third in prime, and second in seasonal in WARP. I didn’t estimate his 1888 to 1892 years because he doesn’t need them to finish third. 8 years an all-star.
6 years over 7 WARP, 3 over 8. After Williams and Musial, 6 years over 7 and 3 over 8 may not sound impressive. But, among Left Fielders, only Yaz has more than 1 year over 8 (he had 2), and only Raines has more than 3 years over 7 (he had 4). (Rickey had 5 seasons over 7 and 3 over 8 which is why he challenges Delahanty for third all-time)

4. Tim Raines: Third in career, fourth in peak, fourth in prime, sixth in seasonal (Williams, Musial, Delahanty, Keller, and Kiner). Raines gains 10 wins more than any other left fielder with his baserunning. 7 times an all-star. Only Williams, Musial, and Delahanty have more. I know some are saying Raines didn’t do much after 1987, but he still had the 4th most career value. So, he did something during those years. WARP likes him better than WS because of the fielding and the replacement LF during Raines career were the worst among all eligibles.

5. Carl Yastrzemski: Fourth in career, third in peak, fifth in prime, LAST in seasonal (78.6 WARP in 21.05 seasons is only 3.73. Only Goslin and Wheat are within .5 of a win of that.) 6 times an all-star which is tied with Magee and Simmons for fifth most. Yaz is tied for 4th in defensive WARP at 9.1. Only Sheckard, Musial, and Simmons are ahead of him. He is tied with Fred Clarke. Very, very thin margin between he and Raines. According to WARP, over his last 9 years, he only had 1 over 2.6 WARP.

6. Al Simmons: Eighth in career, fifth in peak (tied with Delahanty), seventh in prime, and 11th in seasonal score. Six all-stars and 5 gold gloves. Only Sheckard and Musial have more defensive value.

7. Jesse Burkett: Fifth in career, with estimates for 1890 to 1892, eighth in peak, eighth in prime, and seventh in seasonal. His four all-stars are not great, but he was competing with Kelley, Clarke, and Delahanty. Burkett had 8 years over 4, 5 years over 6, 3 over 7 and 1 over 8.

8. Charlie Keller: This includes WWII credit for 1944 and part of 1945, plus some minor league credit for 1938. 16th in career (ahead of Kiner, Medwick, and Goslin), eighth in peak, sixth in prime, and fourth in seasonal. He is an all-star 5 times without any credit, plus 2 gold gloves. With credit, I see 8 years over 4 WARP, 6 over 6, and 3 over 7.
   78. OCF Posted: August 23, 2008 at 06:45 AM (#2913725)
But, specifically in the 1880's, what about the offensive possibilities for the position as shown by ABC? Huge guys, and in one or two of those cases, maybe not all that mobile. (I can see huge, especially if it comes with big hands, as being a distinct throw-catching advantage.) Once ABC got old, there were no more like them - what was it about their generation?
   79. mulder & scully Posted: August 23, 2008 at 06:51 AM (#2913729)
9. Fred Clarke: 6th in career, 17th in peak (never had 3 big years in a row), 12th in prime, 8th in seasonal (.01 ahead of Kelley) I don’t give points over placement, just like to provide the info. Clarke had a very flat career. Only Ted and Musial had more 4.0 WARP years than Clarke’s 10. And only Raines, Delahanty, Ted, and Musial had more than Clarke’s 5 6.0 WARP years. But, Clarke never had a year over 7.0 WARP. Every other player had at least one. Excellent defender, only Simmons, Sheckard, and Musial had more defensive credit. 4 all-stars and 5 gold gloves.

10. Charley Jones: With over two years of blacklist credit, he does extremely well in prime. Adjusting for season length and two years of blacklist credit, gives him 8 years over 25 win shares and 6 years over 30. He may also be due credit for pre-NA play based on research in his thread, but his placement here does not include that. Only Ted Williams, Musial, Delahanty, Keller, and Kiner had a higher OPS+.

11. Joe Kelley: 15th in career (ahead of Keller, Goslin, Medwick, and Kiner), 7th in peak, 9th in prime, and 9th in seasonal. He has 4 all-stars and 3 gold gloves.

12. Billy Williams: 8th in career, 13th in peak (only 1 year over 6.9 WARP), 10th in prime, and 13th in seasonal. Has a very good base to build from with 8 years with at least 5.0 WARP. Only Delahanty, Musial, and Ted have more. The 4 years over 6.0 is middle of the road and one year over 7.0 is bettered by most. He played at a tough time to rack up all-stars – only 2 with 2 gold gloves.

13. Jimmy Sheckard: 11th in career, 12th in peak, 15th in prime, and 16th in seasonal. 3 all-stars and 6 gold gloves. Has a very flat career with a couple of spikes. 8 years over 4.0 WARP, but only 3 over 5.0. But those 3 years are all over 7.0.

14. Sherry Magee: 14th in career, 14th in peak, 14th in prime, and 12th in seasonal. Has 6 all-stars, but only 1 gold glove. He has a good base but a narrow peak: 8 years over 4.0 WARP, but only 5 over 5.0, and 2 over 6.0.

15. Ralph Kiner: Gets some war credit for 1945. 19th in career, 10th in peak, 11th in prime, 5th in seasonal (1 of only 6 players to average over 5.0 WARP). Not a good fielder, but everybody knew that, only Stargell was worse. 5 all-stars and 1(?) gold glove. He is middle of the pack using the WARP figures, but last when using the dollar figure method.

16. Willie Stargell: 12th in career, 16th in peak, 18th in prime, and 10th in seasonal. His lack of in-season durability really hurts his peak and prime totals, and his career totals are really hurt by his worst in class fielding and third-worst baserunning (thanks Minoso and Yaz).

17. Minoso: 13th in career, 18th in peak, 17th in peak, 15th in seasonal. Middle of the road with 8 years with at least 4.0 WARP and 6 over 5.0. Unfortunately only one year over 6.0. A very good fielder, but only Yaz was a worse baserunner.

18. Goose Goslin: 17th in career, 15th in peak, 13th in prime, 18th in seasonal. 4 all-star seasons and 3 gold gloves. 6 years over 5.0 WARP and 4 over 6.0 are good, but only 1 season over 7.0 and a lot of years without a lot of contributions. WS doesn't like him much better.

19. Ducky Wucky Medwick: 18th in career, 11th in peak, 16th in prime (not much after the big 3 years – only 3 years 5.0 or higher WARP), and 14th in seasonal. 4 years as an all-star and 1 gold glove. Three big years, but not much else to set him apart from the rest. When a player has 3 big years consecutively that are out of character with the rest of his career, I know my system will overrate them and adjust accordingly.

20. Harry Stovey: I don’t have a good feel for him. He was lower-middle of the pack without any discount for AA play. He did have great speed and hit for a large number of extra bases

21: Zack Wheat: 10th in career, 19th in peak, 19th in prime, 17th in seasonal. Worst in class 6 years with 4.0 WARP and 2nd worst in class 4 years with 5.0 WARP. Not a bad player by any means, just not as good as the above.
   80. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 23, 2008 at 06:53 AM (#2913730)
Raines gains 10 wins more than any other left fielder with his baserunning.


Some guy who used to play for the Newark Bears might beg to differ.
   81. mulder & scully Posted: August 23, 2008 at 07:40 AM (#2913733)
Has anyone ever figure out why so few people had big years in the American League in the 1950s?

Using Dan's WARP, these are the players over 6.0 and 7.0 each year. And the NL for comparison's sake. These are drawn from my All-Star spreadsheet. There may be a couple of 6.0 seasons missing from the NL b/c it has so many high years.

1950: 1 and 2
Over 7.0: Rizzuto: 8.5
Over 6.0: Rosen: 6.4

1951: 1 and 2
Over 7.0: Williams 7.4
Over 6.0: Joost 6.1

1952: 2 and 2
Over 7.0: Doby 7.3, Mantle 7.1

1953: 1 and 1
Over 7.0: Rosen 9.2

1954: 4 and 5
Over 7.0: Avila and Minoso 7.7, Mantle and Williams 7.5
Over 6.0: Berra 6.2

1955: 1 and 3
Over 7.0: Mantle 9.9
Over 6.0: Kaline 6.9, Williams 6.8

1956: 1 and 3
Over 7.0: Mantle 12
Over 6.0: Kuenn 6.7, Kaline 6.0

1957: 3 and 5
Over 7.0: Mantle 12.8, Williams 9.7, Fox 8.0
Over 6.0: McDougald 6.5, Sievers 6.3

1958: 2 and 4
Over 7.0: Mantle 10.3, Colavito 7.1
Over 6.0: Cerv 6.4, Jansen 6.2

1959: 1 and 3
Over 7.0: Mantle 8.0
Over 6.0: Kaline 6.6, Fox 6.0

1960: 2 and 2
Over 7.0: Mantle 7.8, Maris 7.5

NL:
1950: 2 and 4
Over 7.0: Stanky 7.5, Robinson 7.1
Over 6.0: Musial 6.8, Pafko 6.7

1951: 3 and 5
Over 7.0: Musial 9.9, Robinson 9.8, Kiner 8.0
Over 6.0: Ashburn 6.9, Campaneris 6.4

1952: 3 and 4
Over 7.0: Robinson 8.3, Musial 7.8, Sauer 7.1
Over 6.0: Hemus 6.4

1953: 3 and 5
Over 7.0: Snider 7.7, Musial and Mathews 7.5
Over 6.0: Campaneris and Schoendienst 6.7

1954: 4 and 6
Over 7.0: Mays 10.3, Mathews 8.3, Snider 7.4, Musial 7.3
Over 6.0: Ashburn 6.7, Big Klu 6.6

1955: 3 and 6
Over 7.0: Mays 10.3, Snider 8.8, Banks 8.3
Over 6.0: Ashburn 6.6, Musial and Mathews 6.5

1956: 2 and 3
Over 7.0: Snider 7.7, Mays 7.0
Over 6.0: Aaron 6.7

1957: 3 and 5
Over 7.0: Mays 8.4, Aaron 7.7, Banks 7.5
Over 6.0: Mathews 6.4, Musial 6.3

1958: 3 and 5
Over 7.0: Mays 10.1, Banks 8.8, Ashburn 7.3
Over 6.0: Aaron 6.9, Boyer 6.5

1959: 4 and 4
Over 7.0: Banks 10.1, Mathews 9.2, Aaron 9.0, Mays 7.8

1960: 5 and 5
Over 7.0: Mays 8.3, Banks 8.2, Mathews 7.8, Aaron 7.6, Boyer 7.4


In the 11 years, the AL had 19 over 7.0 and 32 over 6.0.
In the 11 years, the NL had 35 over 7.0 and at least 52 over 6.0.

AL: White vs. Non-white
7.0: 16 to 3 (Avila, Doby, Minoso each have 1)
6.0: 13 to 0

NL: White vs. Non-white
7.0: 17 to 18 (Robinson 3, Mays 7, Banks 5, Aaron 3)
6.0: 13 to 4 (Campaneris 2, Aaron 2)

Just looking at this, INTEGRATION seems to have something to do with it.
   82. mulder & scully Posted: August 23, 2008 at 07:43 AM (#2913734)
Dan, I just checked my spreadsheet of LF HoMers and next best I see is Magee's 2.5. Of course, Rickey has 14.7 and Bonds has high figure I assume (I haven't figured him yet.) Who am I missing?
   83. mulder & scully Posted: August 23, 2008 at 07:48 AM (#2913735)
Actually Bonds only has 4.8 baserunning WARP. I expected more with the high steel percentage combined with the quantity.

PS: I always forget about Rickey playing for Newark.

When you said Newark, I started thinking about OOOLLLLDDD Yankees.
   84. bjhanke Posted: August 23, 2008 at 10:23 AM (#2913745)
Just a quick note to thank KJOK for posting up the 19th c. defensive spectrum. I wasn't around when you guys did that, and had no idea how much of it you all knew. The only disagreement between yours and mine from the 1990s is that I don't have second base quite that close to first. But second base defense seems to change pretty quickly during those 30 years. It's not just one huge change where everyone moves off of second and into the mirror-shortstop position we have now. The change occurs over time, and with it, the defensive value of second base.

Also, Mulder and Scully is (are?) right about the race thing in 1950s baseball. It's why the All-Star games go so often to the NL. THe AL gets more than its share of the World Series wins, but that's because they concentrated so much of the league's talent in the Yankees. I repeat from my earlier post: the owners of the AL were in a state of panic. They were really afraid of losing any customers that they already had. So they were slow to integrate, for fear of losing white fans, with the sole exception of Bill Veeck. So every year, the NL sent Robinson, Mays, Aaron, Banks and/or some other quartet of black stars out to the All-Star game, and the AL sent out Larry Doby or Minnie Minoso. The white guys were evenly balanced. The NL won all the time. No one was surprised.
   85. Howie Menckel Posted: August 23, 2008 at 02:05 PM (#2913771)
Trivia(l): Rickey also played for Jersey City in 1978, the one year that the city was Oakland's Class AA affiliate.
   86. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 23, 2008 at 02:35 PM (#2913778)
Mulder & scully, yes, of course that's the integration factor. If one league is adding Banks, Jackie Robinson, Campanella, Frank Robinson, Mays, and Aaron, and the other counters with Doby and Miñoso, well, what do you expect? The '50s is widely considered to be the era with the biggest league strength gap evar, no?

By the way, I'd just take the opportunity to tout this as a crystal-clear example of how my standard deviation adjustment works. Talking about "so few people having big years" is simply "standard deviation" put into plain English. This is precisely why you can't use the actual standard deviation of a league to measure its ease of dominance--because if so, you'll wind up penalizing Cobb/Collins/Speaker or Mays/Banks/Aaron for playing in the same league (since the league-seasons that include them will have high observed stdevs), and you'll reward Cravath/George Burns/Maranville for not having to compete against the superstars. The correct approach is to look at all of baseball history to see which league FACTORS correlate to high standard deviations (run scoring and expansion are probably the two most important), determine the strength and direction of those relationships, and then use those factors to calculate how easy or difficult a league was to dominate, *without ever making reference to the actual set of players in a given league-season.* Not to dredge up old battles, but this is why sunnyday's old criticism of my system--that the causal arrow could run from the actual distribution of talent/presence or absence of stars to the standard deviation used to calculate my adjustment, rather than the other way around--was incorrect. My adjustment doesn't "know" who's playing in a given league-season; it only knows how many runs were scored, how long it had been since an expansion, etc., and then produces a result. The fact that it seems like the only guys who were really good in the 50's AL were Williams, Mantle, Berra, and Kaline shows that it's doing this right. From 1948-55, the observed standard deviation in the AL was over 6% lower than the forecast one, one of the longest extended gaps in the game's history.

Also, on those lists, I think you mean Campanella, not Campaneris.

Wow, I do have Rickey at +15, don't I. That's actually a bit too high; Dan Fox has him at +11. The reason why is fascinating. My old baserunning methodology (the one used on that spreadsheet) was to use a flat .18 run value for SB, a floating value for CS equal to -.32 minus the league-season's runs-per-out rate, and James Click's EqBR for non-SB baserunning. However, that was before Dan came out with his EqBRR, which not only include more factors than Click's EqBR (I think!), but also apply the same run expectancy framework to SB/CS themselves, weighting a steal of 2nd with 2 out far more than one of 3rd with 2 out, for example. There's not much difference between EqBR and EqBRR's takes on the non-SB components of Henderson's baserunning--Click puts it at +56, Fox at +65. But there's a *huge* gap between my context-neutral evaluation of Rickey's SB/CS runs (+87) and Fox's (+41). That suggests very strongly that Henderson was either meaninglessly padding his stolen base totals (like swiping 3B with 2 out, for example), or taking some chances he really, really shouldn't have (like, I dunno, getting caught stealing home with 0 out or something). Just as a spot-check, Raines comes out at +78 in my context-neutral measure and +69 in Fox, while Coleman comes out at +50 in my context-neutral measure and +40 in Fox, so it looks like I may be overstating SB/CS value a little across the board, but not nearly enough to explain Henderson's case. I'll e-mail Dan and see what he says might account for it.

All this said, this does not mean I am overrating Henderson overall, because my FRAA/FWS mix gives him only around 5 fielding wins above average, when TotalZone thinks he should get 10 and DRA 15. So that does more than cancel out the baserunning.

Fox has Barry at +24 through 2005, even lower than I do. He was only an average runner after coming to San Fran.
   87. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 23, 2008 at 08:31 PM (#2914070)
BP agrees with me on Cash '61 vs. Clark '89, BTW. It has Cash at 93 season-adjusted BRAA and Clark at 82 (and those are win-adjusted runs).
   88. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 24, 2008 at 02:27 AM (#2914421)
Brock, here's a repost of something I posted way back in "1939" (the ballot discussion thread posts 91 and 93). It should help you calibrate the win shares fielding scale for the corners:

This is something I've been wanting to post for a while. When Harry Heilmann became eligible, there was a lot of talk about his "defensive prowess" or lack thereof. Also, we were again reminded about how win shares is not too kind to corner outfielders in regards to its fielding ratings. Well, giving Heilmann the once over before placing him on my ballot, I cracked open the win shares book and was reminded of the details we sometimes forget when we have new numbers to "play" with.

In this case, it is a paragraph on page 136. This is the part of the book that explains how win shares does in regards to gold glove winners. The paragraph reads as follows, giving all credit to Bill James:

"Outfielders are different, because "outfield" is really three defensive positions which, due to the laziness of 19th century statisticians, we are compeled to treat as one. This creates data problems of all kinds, one of which is that a player who rates as outstanding for a left/right fielder--let's say, 2.6 Win Shares per 1000 innings--would still rank below the norms for a center fielder, since the center fielder is assigned a larger defensive responsibility. There are players who are regarded as very good defensive right fielders, who do not rate well when they are compared to center fielders, just as top-flight third basemen probably would not rate so well if compared to shortstops."

Basically, what this means is that the oufield scale used in the book is not really an outfield scale at all, it is a center field scale. That's why corner outfielders seem to be low on the scale. Same thing would happen if you put the third basemen in the shorstop scale, they will all appear low on it.

I then started wondering if there was a way to get a corner outfielder fielding scale. The only clue so far is that an outstanding corner outfielder would rate a 2.6 per 1000 innings.

Looking around on the other scales I found a way to do it. In each scale used by Mr. James, he took the threshhold of what he considered to be outstanding for each position and he divided it by 6 to get the range for the different classes. For example, at first base he established 2.00 win shares as an "A" fielder. Divide 2 by 6 and you get .33. Hence, each class is a third down. At catcher it is 6.30 which, when divided by 6 gives you 1.05. You round the number to 1 and you end up getting the difference in classes.

All the positons held to the same pattern, except that he usually rounded the numbers.
So if you want to fairly evaluate a corner outfielder by win shares, you take 2.6 divided by 6 which gives you .43, which rounds to .4.

Using this for the range in classes you get:

2.6 or better is an "A" fielder,
2.2 to 2.59 is a "B" fielder,
1.8 to 2.19 is a "C" fielder,
1.4 to 1.79 is a "D" fielder,
and less than 1.4 is an "F" fielder, or in other words, you're better off having a statue out there.

I hope someone finds this helpful.
   89. bjhanke Posted: August 24, 2008 at 06:56 AM (#2914487)
Sigh. Thanks to you all for the catch on Minoso. When did this info show up? All the reference materials I used have him at the age I used, but my materials are not up to date. I'd like to get something more modern, so I might as well use this. When did someone figure out that Minnie had padded his age by three years?

Anyway, I deducted three prime years from Minnie, and moved him down accordingly. The following should, please, be considered my final vote. No one posted anything about Medwick that threw me, so I guess that I just have a little higher opinion than most of you do. This is a crowded field; three prime years turns out to be a lot.

- Brock

1. TED WILLIAMS
2. STAN MUSIAL
3. ED DELAHANTY
4. AL SIMMONS
5. TIM RAINES
6. CARL YASTRZEMSKI
7. FRED CLARKE
8. BILLY WILLIAMS
9. WILLIE STUNGUN
10. JESSE BURKETT
11. SHERRY MAGEE
12. JIMMY SHECKARD
13. GOOSE GOSLIN
14. JOE MEDWICK
15. MINNIE MINOSO
16. ZACK WHEAT
17. HARRY STOVEY
18. JOE KELLEY
19. CHARLIE KELLER
20. RALPH KINER
21. CHARLEY JONES
   90. bjhanke Posted: August 24, 2008 at 08:11 AM (#2914492)
On Billy Williams' defense:

First off, I think most of the problem is semantic and philosophical. Philosophically, I happen to think that you really should rank outfielders all together; most of you seem to disagree. Rhetorically, I could have said, "Williams' defense was average or better for a left fielder," and that would have meant the same thing to me as "poor defender." I didn't use the first phrase because it reads condescending to me, and I didn't mean that.

As for why I think all outfielders should be ranked together: You're talking about the same set of skills, but a hierarchy as to who plays where. All outfielders can use the same skills - speed, judgment, glove, arm. The best at this get to play center. Of the rest, the ones with the best arms get to play in right. The remainder play left. This means, to me, that an average left fielder is a poor defender. He doesn't have the range and glove to play center, nor the arm for right. He's at the bottom of the skills list. The one skill he might have is speed, if his glove isn't the best or his arm is weak. Let's call that "Lou Brock Syndrome." But Billy Williams didn't have that. He wasn't really fast. And he didn't have great judgment about where balls were going to go, nor a hot glove when he got to a ball. And he didn't have a strong arm. He was an average or better left fielder, but not a center fielder nor a right fielder. That has to count for something.

A more technical reason for thinking this has to do with the distribution of skills. If you take all outfielders as a group, what you get is a distribution just like that for all the other baseball skills: the far right end of the normal bell curve. What I do with that curve is turn it 90 degrees, so the widest part is on the bottom, and make it bilaterally symmetrical. What I end up with looks like a Hershey's Kiss candy. A bulge at the bottom, with a graceful curve up to a real high spike where people like Willie Mays and Tris Speaker live. That's for all outfielders.

Now consider what happens when I discard the center fielders: I cut off the spike, leaving only the bottom bulge. That is, I compress the distribution. As Chris Cobb was kind enough to demonstrate in post #64, that's just what Bill's Win Shares system does. It compresses the distribution of defense in left field to range between B- and F. This is exactly what I would expect out of a realistic distribution for left fielders. All the A students, and all the high B students, have moved on to center field. Only the B- and lower are left. Billy Williams has a C. In a distribution that runs from B- to F, that's above average by a little. In a distribution that includes all the A students, it's poor.

Another way of looking at this is to compare median to mean. In terms of median - the point at which half the outfielders are better and half are weaker - you've got a C+. Remember, this is not the normal distribution. It's a Hershey's Kiss. There aren't many people in the spike, so it doesn't drag the median up much. The median is a C+ because Bill restricts himself to people who played a substantial number of games in the outfield, so the number of F draftees is only four (4), while the number of A+ grades is an astonishing 58! That skews the distribution enough to make the median a C+.

But the mean - the weighted average - is completely different, because those A+ guys really drag it upward. When I call Williams a "poor" defender, what I'm saying is that he's below the mean for all outfielders. With 58 A+ grades to balance against four Fs, I'm pretty sure the distribution will back me up.

Yes, I know it's possible to break out the left fielders, at least after the stats get decent. And you can then make a distribution from A to F. Some of you seem to have done that. But I don't think it's accurate, because I think the distribution of left field defense SHOULD be compressed. When I see a Fred Clarke or Jimmy Sheckard, who have A grades in left field, my first question is "Why wasn't this guy in center?" The first thing I do to answer the question is to look at who was playing center next to the guy. In Clarke's case, the answer is obvious: he was playing next to a whole bunch of A center fielders. In Sheckard's case, that's probably the reason. His companions in center are not just a monolith of A, but there's only a three-year gap of non-A in there.

But here's the list for Billy Williams. In parentheses is the grade if Bill James has one. If there's a "y", it means the player didn't have enough of a career to make Bill's cutoff. If there's a number in there (See Adolpho Phillips), it means that the guy was in center for that many years next to Williams (three in Phillips' case). I only counted full seasons when Billy was in left.

Al Heist (y), Lou Brock (C-), Ellis Burton (y), Billy Cowan (y), Don Landrum (y), Adolpho Phillips (3y) Don Young (y), Jim Hickman (C), Brock Davis (y), Rick Monday (2B).

So what do we have? A year each of Lou Brock and Jim Hickman. Oof. Two years of Rick Monday, and 9 years of guys who didn't play much, 8 of whom are one-year wonders. That is, Billy Williams played his entire career next to a wide-open revolving door of weak center fielders and never once got the job. He didn't always have the best managers making decisions, but still. Guys, Billy Williams simply was not as good a defensive player as an ordinary center fielder is. If he had been, he would have played there. His teams' center field options were less than ordinary. If you separate out the left fielders and give Williams a B or A grade, you are just not giving center field its due. Anyway, that's how I see it, and is why I used the word "poor." If you'd prefer I say "average or maybe better for a left fielder," that's fine, but there's no way I am calling Williams a good outfielder. He wasn't.
   91. Chris Cobb Posted: August 24, 2008 at 12:41 PM (#2914504)
If you'd prefer I say "average or maybe better for a left fielder," that's fine

When you are writing posts that rank left fielders against each other, that phrasing is much less misleading. Consider that next week, you'll have to start rating the center fielders against each other. And then you'd be stuck saying: "a great fielder" over and over again, just because anybody who plays center field gets a shiny letter grade from the win shares system.

The issue under discussion is difficult to get clear about because there's considerable unacknowledged slippage between value, merit, and ability in it. I think Brock's approach falls down at many points because it confuses these categories, and also because it doesn't show awareness of problems with the win shares fielding system itself that weaken the system's accuracy as a representation of fielding value. I don't have time right now to make that case fully, and others can make part of it better than I can, but here's are the main points.

1) Letter grades look like they are measures of ability, but the win share rates on which they are based are measures of value, which include an element of opportunity. Regardless of real, relative ability, in the modern game a centerfielder will earn more win shares than a corner outfielder, because he gets more chances. There might be a situation in which poor management has put the defender with more ability in the corner and the defender with less in center, and the centerfielder will get more win shares and the higher grade, because he gets more opportunities.

2) The compression of value reflected in the win shares grade system for outfielders does not match the reality of fielding value in the outfield or at any position. A great defensive player _at his position, any position_ can save his team a lot of runs, and weak defender can cost his team a lot of runs, relative to other players at that position. Win shares just doesn't register this properly, because it mashes together relative value at position and relative defensive value versus other positions on the defensive spectrum.

3) The outfield letter grades make for misleading comparisons between outfielders and infielders. If there can be no center fielder with a grade below B-, and that's giving center fielders their due, then how can there be F shortstops? But there are. In fact, the compression of outfield letter grades makes them a particularly poor tool for assessing center fielders, because all "A+" really tells us is that the player was above average in center field. For our purposes, we need to distinguish above average center fielders from great center fielders from among the best of all time in center field. The win shares letter grades are not at all helpful for that purpose. We'll have to look past the letter grades to the fielding rates to identify relative merit for the center fielders.
   92. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 24, 2008 at 03:14 PM (#2914541)
bjhanke, no one is suggesting that Williams had as much defensive ability as an average center fielder. What we are saying is that as a factual/empirical rather than theoretical question, a team would allow an extra 20-30 runs a year on average by replacing a superb left fielder (say Fred Clarke) with a poor one (say Ralph Kiner). We know this because the standard deviation of all the various play-by-play metrics used to assess defense in the modern game is pretty consistent at this level.

Now, the overall range of defensive value, which includes both which position you play and how well you play it, is much larger, on the order of 60-70 runs a season. So if you're grading total defensive contribution, then sure, Ozzie Smith would be an A+, Brooks Robinson, Curt Flood, and George Davis would be a B+, Derek Jeter and Roberto Clemente would be a C, and Edgar Martinez and Greg Luzinski would be an F. All the corner OF would be indeed be "compressed" as you say on that scale in the C-D range. But it's the same 20-30 run spread. So for the purposes of ranking players within a given position, all that matters is how much of a player's offense (which is on about a 100-110 run range excluding once-in-a-generation players, where A+ is Jimmie Foxx and F is Mark Belanger) needs to be offset by the quality of his fielding, since they all have the same positional value. We're not comparing Billy Williams to Willie Mays, only to Willie Stargell.

Chris Cobb, I'm not *sure* if a great defensive 1B can save his team a *lot* of runs (as in, say, 15 a year). Certainly he can't on range alone. Adding in the scooping variable might very well make it the case. That's very difficult to measure, but Rallymonkey has tried and found a range a little over 10 runs a year.
   93. Chris Cobb Posted: August 24, 2008 at 07:42 PM (#2914745)
Left Field Ballot

Time to get this in!

This position has an odd distribution. Two top-10 players, then a huge drop-off. We elected a lot of left fielders, but a lot of them are fairly weak. It’s tough to sort out 13-18 especially: that’s a very closely bunched group of lower-tier HoMers.

I. All-Time Top 10
1. Ted Williams. Total = 765. The second-best hitter in the Hall of Merit. Receives more war credit than any other player.
2.Stan Musial. Total = 613. Great, great hitter. Good defender, durable, long career.

II. Inner-Circle HoMers

none, until Rickey Henderson becomes eligible.

III. Among the best players of their generation
3. Ed Delahanty. Est. Total = 367. I was surprised that he placed as highly as he did. The best hitter of the 1890s. Would probably have become an inner-circle HoMer if he had not died an untimely death.
4. Carl Yastrzemski. Total = 364. Fabulous, fabulous peak, but it was short, and outside that peak he was mostly a very good player for a very long time.

IV. Obvious HoMers
5. Tim Raines. Total = 342. Not quite as good a peak or career as Yastrzemski, but a better prime. BBWAA’s treatment of him in his first year of eligibility was pathetic. Given the low-SD era in which he played, Raines has an argument to be numbered among the best of his generation, but I see him as a level below players like Ripken, Brett, Boggs, and Yount.
6. Fred Clarke. Total = 336. Not especially durable within seasons, but a very high impact player when he was on the field, even late in his career.
7. Jesse Burkett. Est. Total = 316. Second-best hitter of the 1890s after Ed Delahanty. Peak is lower than those of Simmons or Kelley, but he was above average to excellent fourteen years running, while neither of them managed to be much above average beyond a seven-year prime.
8. Al Simmons. Total = 313. Outstanding peak, but didn’t have the late career value of the players above him in the rankings, even though he had a long career.
9. Billy Williams. Total = 290. Well-rounded ballplayer; Stan Musial lite? Seems less impressive than he was because there were so many great outfielders in the 1960s—Mays, Aaron, Robinson, Kaline, Yastrzemski, Clemente. He’s not in their class, but he’s still an obvious HoMer.

V. Solid HoMers when you read the fine print
10. Jimmy Sheckard. Total = 283. Overrated by this number, but the combination of value from his outstanding early peak, his relatively long career, outstanding defense, and anomalous plate discipline make a solidly HoM-worthy package.
11. Willie Stargell. Total = 268. Overrated by history, for reasons Dan R. has documented, but probably the best power hitter of the 1970s, when healthy.
12. Joe Kelley. Est. Total = 267. Al Simmons lite. Great peak on offense and defense in the 1890s: the tail of his career in the aughts was nothing special. Left field was a stacked hitter position in the 1890s: Kelley is the fourth best left-fielder of his era, and he is well above the in-out line. Drops from my prelim as I switch to Dan R’s second version of numbers, which adjust 1890s OF replacement level significantly.
13. Charlie Keller. Total = 262. Eerily similar to Kiner, except that he was a much more well-rounded ballplayer and his career was even shorter. Minor-league credit is reasonable in Keller’s case, but this ranking includes only war credit.
14. Sherry Magee. Total = 260. Underrated a little by my system: the Willie Stargell of the aughts, except that he lacked Stargell’s gracious declining years with successful teams.
15. Ralph Kiner. Total = 264. This ranking includes war credit: I think it’s clear Kiner would have reached the majors sooner if not for WW2. Rather a one-dimensional ballplayer, but nevertheless valuable.
16. Goose Goslin. Total = 259. A lot like Zack Wheat, except that Wheat lasted longer, and Goslin would take a walk. Bumped up over Wheat on league strength considerations.
17. Zack Wheat. Total = 260. A very good player for a long time; successful adaptation to the lively ball sustained his late-career value and makes his HoM case despite his never having an outstanding peak.
18. Joe Medwick. Total = 251. I wasn’t sold on him when we elected him, but he did have a great peak. The rest of his career was nothing special, but there’s enough value overall to make him a creditable selection, I think.
19. Minnie Minoso. Est. total = 251. The mistaken belief that he was older than he was when he got his chance in the majors leads him to be overrated by many. He had a very nice prime, just enough to get him solidly into the HoM.

VI. Almost as good an argument to be out, as to be in
20. Charlie Jones. Est. total = 235. Probably the best hitter of the late 1870s. His case depends on blacklist credit. If you give it, he’s probably in, but if you don’t, he’s probably out. I give it, and I see him as just over the line. I’d really like to know more about his defensive reputation: his fielding numbers are all over the place in his career.

VII. Mistakes
21. Harry Stovey. Est. Total = 210. Unless there is a ton of hidden baserunning value in Stovey’s career (and I am sure that there is some, but probably not tons), he really belongs in the Hall of Very Good. His career might have been stronger if he had been shifted to the outfield earlier. I was an advocate for Stovey when he was elected, but I now think I rated him ahead of better players.
   94. Tiboreau Posted: August 24, 2008 at 07:54 PM (#2914764)
1. Ted Williams—Arguably the second greatest ballplayer of all-time & the greatest hitter of all-time.
2. Stan Musial—If you don’t give WWII credit, Stan the Man is fairly close to the Splendid Splinter; however, the addition of WWII credit widens the gap considerably.
3. Ed Delahanty—One of the great slugging stars of the 19th century, let alone the high-scoring 1890s, there is a sizable gap both fore and aft of Delahanty’s spot in my left field rankings.
4. Tim Raines—Last year’s HoF ballot displays the drawback to being the 2nd best leadoff hitter playing in the shadow of the best leadoff hitter while playing for Montreal in the ‘80s.
5. Carl Yastrzemski—A few excellent seasons and a very long career, although his prime wasn’t as good as you’d suspect based on his peak & career values; the latter is what separates him from Burkett, Simmons, Clarke & Williams below him.
6. Jesse Burkett—The poor man’s Ed Delahanty, the Crab may actually rate higher than this, but that’s due to Win Shares adoration of Burkett after adjusting to 162 games, which overstates things a bit, I think.
7. Al Simmons—Strongest peak, prime of the next three LF is enough to put him atop the trio despite having the weakest career value of the three.
8. Fred Clarke—Very good overall value, including all of career, peak, & prime value. Career is his strong point in favor of his candidacy but the other two certainly aren’t shabby either.
9. Billy Williams
10. Charlie Keller—Considered at the beginning of his eligibility to be Ralph Kiner with a slightly shorter career, King Kong’s candidacy looks a little different after proper WWII credit and recognition of Keller’s superior defense.
11. Joe Kelley—One of the stars of the most famous ball club of the 1890s, Kelley’s value takes shape in the shorter career, high peak mold and is very close to King Kong; however, while Kelley holds the advantage in career value Keller holds, after WWII credit, the advantage in peak value and played in a later, tougher era, so Kelley falls slightly below Keller.
12. Jimmy Sheckard—I’ve always tied these two ballplayers, Sheckard & Magee, together, and looking at their numbers I don’t see any reason stop continuing to do so: all 3 comprehensive metrics I’m using have the two looking very similar in career, peak & prime value as I measure it, all three giving a bit of an edge to Sheckard over Magee.
13. Sherry Magee—See Jimmy Sheckard comment.
14. Joe Medwick—Only 3 real good years during a good but not great career, however, those 3 years are enough to leave Ducky with a very nice 5 year peak and a decent prime. Good arguments could probably be made that I’m overrating Muscles by overemphasizing peak, but this is where I have him so this is where he stays.
15. Willie Stargell—The same story as Willie McCovey & Harmon Killebrew: an excellent hitter with poor defense, baserunning & in-season durability while playing in the expansion era.
16. Goose Goslin—There’s nothing particularly shabby about his career, peak, or prime value, all are good to very good, but they’re just not quite strong enough together to climb any higher on the LF ballot.
17. Ralph Kiner—See Charlie Keller & Zack Wheat comments.
18. Zack Wheat—A very good ballplayer who possibly would’ve been even better if he had been born a few years later and able to take fuller advantage of the Babe Ruth effect. While Kiner & Wheat are polar opposites, peak v. career, they are very close, IMO; BP’s perspective on the quality of the NL in the teens plays a part in Wheat falling below Kiner.
19. Minnie Minoso—His career his very good, but not spectacular, and isn’t enough to make up for a peak that is good, but nothing special, even with the addition of 3 years of Negro League play.
20. Charley Jones—A star of the 1870s & the American Association, he adds the addition complication of getting blackballed from baseball for 2½ years to the already difficult proposition of comparing one of baseball’s early stars to modern era ballplayers.
21. Harry Stovey—Like Edd Roush in the NL of the teens, Stovey benefited from playing in the weaker league of his era, except his era happened to the 1880s.
   95. Paul Wendt Posted: August 24, 2008 at 08:25 PM (#2914822)
Chris Cobb:
3) The outfield letter grades make for misleading comparisons between outfielders and infielders. If there can be no center fielder with a grade below B-, and that's giving center fielders their due, then how can there be F shortstops? But there are. In fact, the compression of outfield letter grades makes them a particularly poor tool for assessing center fielders, because all "A+" really tells us is that the player was above average in center field. For our purposes, we need to distinguish above average center fielders from great center fielders from among the best of all time in center field. The win shares letter grades are not at all helpful for that purpose. We'll have to look past the letter grades to the fielding rates to identify relative merit for the center fielders.

This is a matter to be continued next week.

We are still missing much of the game-level data to do this adequately --that is, to sort out LF CF and RF as best we can without any play-by-play or spatial data. BJ is wrong to blame lazy 19th century statisticians; for how many 20th century years does he have official LF CF and RF season data?

Anyway, whoever is to blame,
Outfield ratings and grades are based on a single record (except games played) that sums all three outfield positions. In contrast shortstop ratings and grades are based on a pure shortstop record; someone who also played thirdbase also has a thirdbase rating and grade, although few players have more than one published in the Win Shares book. So we do not have a rating and grade for Fielder Jones as a centerfielder, where we do have a rating and grade for George Davis as a shortstop.
   96. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 24, 2008 at 08:25 PM (#2914823)
Here is my leftfielders list:

01) Ted Williams - With war credit, the number one selection.

02) Stan Musial - Clear number two.

03) Carl Yastrzemski - Get well Yaz. Edges Delahanty on career value.

04) Ed Delahanty - One of the best of his era.

05) Fred Clarke - Great player and one could argue for player-manager credit.

06) Jesse Burkett - Great hitter.

07) Al Simmons - Time in centerfield is a plus for Bucketfoot.

08) Billy Williams - In hisc ase, the durability and prime help trump Raines and Stargell's peaks and lack of durability.

09) Tim Raines - Hopefully he amkes it into the Hall of famne in the next five years.

10) Willie Stargell - Lack of in season durability hurts him.

11) Zack Wheat - From Eddie Murray school of value.

12) Charley Jones - Gets blacklist credit and 1875 credit.

13) Goose Goslin - A lesser version of Zack Wheat.

14) Ralph Kiner - Big run but career is short.

15) Harry Stovey - Great all-around skills in his time.

16) Minnie Minoso - Does not get a lot negro league credit.

17) Joe Medwick - Big peak but not much else from Muscles.

18) Joe Kelley - Another one who has a peak and can't offer much after that.

19) Charlie Keller - Closer to Kiner than their rankings in my ballot indicate. After number 12 it is pretty tight.

20) Sherry Magee - Shame he fell apart so early.

21) Jimmy Sheckard - Just too much down years offensively and I'm wary of the defensive evaluations he receives.
   97. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: August 24, 2008 at 10:27 PM (#2914926)
Sorry about this, but my usual plans to do my ballot at the last minute were upset, because I'm unexpectedly going out to dinner. So here's my ballot with no comments. If there's anything people object to, I'll try to answer when I get back. (But I'm Mr. Consensus, so I'm probably OK.)

1. Ted Williams
2. Stan Musial
3. Carl Yastrzemski
4. Tim Raines
5. Ed Delahanty
6. Al Simmons
7. Billy Williams
8. Jesse Burkett
9. Fred Clarke
10. Goose Goslin
11. Willie Stargell
12. Zack Wheat
13. Sherry Magee
14. Joe Kelley
15. Minnie Minoso
16. Jimmy Sheckard
17. Joe Medwick
18. Charlie Keller
19. Harry Stovey
--PHoM Line--
20. Charlie Jones
21. Ralph Kiner
   98. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 24, 2008 at 10:54 PM (#2914934)
1) Ted Williams-LF (n/e): The king of the left fielders. Best major league right fielder for 1939. Best major league left fielder for 1939, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1954, 1955, and 1957. Best AL left fielder for 1952.

2) Stan Musial-1B/LF/RF/CF (n/e): Ridiculously qualified, whichever position you want to pigeon-hole him into. :-) Best NL left fielder for 1942. Best ML right fielder for 1943, 1944, 1948, 1949, and 1954. Best ML left fielder for 1950, 1951, and 1953. Best ML center fielder for 1952. Best ML first baseman for 1946, 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1958.

3) Ed Delahanty-LF (n/e): I actually had McPhee above him on my ballot in 1909, which is hard to explain now. I was more career-oriented back then, so it isn't that hard to explain after all. Arguably the greatest outfielder of the nineties. Remarkable player who should have learned to watch his step around waterfalls. Best major league left fielder for 1894, 1896, 1898, 1899, and 1902.

4) Jesse Burkett-LF (n/e): May deserve to be #3. Best ML left fielder for 1895 and 1901.

5) Carl Yastrzemski-LF/1B/DH/CF (n/e): Another guy who may deserve to be #3. Best major league left fielder for 1963, 1967, 1968. Best major league first baseman for 1970.

6) Al Simmons-LF/CF (n/e): Years in center help move him in front of Rock. Best major league center fielder for 1926 and close in 1927. Best AL center fielder for 1927. Best major league left fielder for 1930 and 1931. Best AL left fielder for 1934.

7) Tim Raines-LF/CF/DH (n/e): Not an inner-circle player, but could have been if he had sustained his prime a little longer. But he doesn't need to apologize for his career - it was still exceptional. Best ML left fielder for 1986 and 1987 (I like Guerrero in '85, but that's arguable and Raines did have a monster season). Close to being the best NL left fielder in the NL in 1983. Close to being the best ML center fielder in 1984.

8) Fred Clarke-LF: Plenty of career and some quality, too. Best ML left fielder for 1897 and 1909. Best NL left fielder for 1902 and 1908.

9) Charlie Keller-LF (3): A perennial MVP-caliber player almost every season he played, reasonable MiL and WWII credit move him into the top half at his position. Best ML right fielder for 1940. Best ML left fielder for 1943.

10) Charley Jones-LF/CF (5): He was playing a more difficult position than the one that it evolved into. I gave him a little more credit for his (unfairly) blacklisted years. Best major league left fielder for 1877, 1879 and 1884. Best AA center fielder for 1883. Best AA left fielder for 1885 (close to being the best in the majors).
   99. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 24, 2008 at 10:55 PM (#2914936)
11) Willie Stargell-LF/1B (n/e): Great, great hitter. Lack of (relative) durability keeps him from the inner-circle HoMers, IMO, but he's a bona fide worthy, nevertheless. Best ML left fielder for 1966, 1971, 1973, and 1974. Best NL first baseman for 1978.

12) Minnie Minoso-LF/3B (n/e): Probably the best ML left fielder of the fifties, though only because Teddy Ballgame was in Korea and Stan the Man played considerable amounts of games at other positions. Best ML left fielder for 1956 and 1959. Best AL of 1953.

13) Goose Goslin-LF (n/e): I wasn't that impressed with him when he was eligible. He didn't really stand out at his position, yet can't use the Babe Ruth excuse that he is being unfairly compared (like Heilmann or Waner can). I still voted for him, though. Best AL left fielder for 1924. Best major league left fielder for 1925 and 1927

14) Billy Williams-LF/DH (n/e): Durable and a quality player, I don't see him close to being inner-circle, but a HoMer, nevertheless. Best ML left fielder for 1972.

15) Zack Wheat-LF (n/e): Not really a truly great player at his peak, but compiled many seasons of quality baseball. A real good one. Best major league leftfielder for 1924. Best NL leftfielder for 1915, 1916, 1920, 1922 and 1926.

16) Harry Stovey-LF/1B/RF/CF (n/e): My lowest rated player of the ones that was on my ballot.

17) Sherry Magee-LF (n/e): Fine player, but I never voted for him. Better than Sheckard.

18) Jimmy Sheckard-LF (n/e): Another guy I didn't vote for, but not a serious mistake.

19) Joe Medwick-LF (n/e): Aged too soon.

20) Joe Kelley-LF (n/e): Kiner is rated lower, but he doesn't annoy me as a HoMer. Kelley does, however. With that said, I understand why many voted for him.

21) Ralph Kiner-LF (n/e): Not enough career value for me, but a legitimately great player at his peak.
   100. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 24, 2008 at 11:10 PM (#2914940)
Wow, John Murphy, that's Way harsh on Kelley--he was a *big* star in the 1890's, with eight straight All-Star-caliber seasons and two MVP-type seasons from 1893-1900. Could you clarify a bit why you find him so lacking?
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