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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Right Fielders Ballot

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

Hank Aaron
Roberto Clemente
Sam Crawford
Dwight Evans
Elmer Flick
Tony Gwynn
Harry Heilmann
Joe Jackson
Reggie Jackson
Al Kaline
Willie Keeler
King Kelly
Mel Ott
Frank Robinson
Pete Rose
Babe Ruth
Enos Slaughter
Sam Thompson
Paul Waner
Dave Winfield

The election will end October 12 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2008 at 04:59 PM | 111 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. sunnyday2 Posted: October 01, 2008 at 02:48 PM (#2962366)
Has this started?

1. Ruth--756 WS, more than 100 more than any other RF, and OPS+ 209 a whopping 50+ pts ahead of the pack

2. Aaron--second in both categories though only 156-155(Ott)-154(F. Robby) on OPS+, but in 2,000 more PA

3. F. Robby
4. Ott--this could go either way; if you adjust for season length Ott has a fair edge on WS and PA; but to me, the league adjustment is a much bigger deal; F. saw a lot higher caliber of competition

5. R. Jackson--the only guys who have a better OPS+ and more PA are above Reggie on this ballot
6. Crawford--with adjustments Crawford may catch Reggie on PA and leads 143-140 on OPS+; here again, league difficulty is a big tie-breaker
7. J. Jackson--arguably the #4 or 5 peak, maybe ahead of Ott
8. Waner--big on WS, due in part to durability; rates are lower than Kaline's and Gwynn's, about equal to Clemente
9. Rose--mediocre rates are off-set by added defensive value; still, as a peak/prime voter, I can't get him any higher than this
10. Kaline--most people remember Clemente being better, but the numbers don't support that;

11. Gwynn
12. Heilmann
13. Clemente--these 3 are even tighter than the Crawford-Waner-Kaline group

14. K. Kelly--would like to have him higher but I would like to have Clemente higher, too
15. Slaughter--with WWII credit; the rates and peak just aren't there otherwise
16. Winfield--low peak

17. Thompson--under-rated but in present company, this is as good as it gets
18. Flick--a poor man's Joe Jackson; a really poor man

19. Dw. Evans--not PHoM
20. Keeler--not PHoM
   2. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 01, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2962715)
Stunned to see Flick so low for you, sunnyday, since I don't think of you as one to be troubled by a short career. He had a heck of a peak, did he not? I have him as one of the top 6 players in baseball in six different seasons (#2 in 1900, #5 in 1901, #4 in 1904, #5 in 1905, #6 in 1906, #5 in 1907). His 1898 and 1903 were also high All-Star type seasons. Certainly Crawford, who you have at #6 on the list, couldn't compete with that kind of peak...
   3. whoisalhedges Posted: October 01, 2008 at 06:29 PM (#2962727)
1) Ruth
2) Aaron
3) Ott
4) Robinson - I read the discussion thread, and have agreed with the seeming consensus ranking Ott ahead of Robinson. It was tough, because I do have Frank ahead offensively on quality of competition... but Mel's time at third pushed him over the hump.
5) Rose - too bad he had several bad years at first base trying to get the record. Credit for playing... well, six positions.
6) Kaline
7) Reggie
8) Clemente - went ahead and gave enough defensive credit to bump Kaline ahead of Reggie. Clemente's bat still wasn't enough to propel him north of Mr. October, though.
9) Shoeless Joe - no credit for missed time. He chose to cheat, it counts as a retirement in my book. Great rate stats, but if only he'd have been able to stay honest and play a few more years... we'll never know.
10) Waner
11) Crawford
12) Gwynn
13) Slaughter - Wahoo Sam is the only prototypical slugging RF in this group. Okay, it's not like Big Poison could really rack up homers in Forbes Field, but still. Gwynn may deserve to rank a little higher on QoC, but I'll stick with this order.
14) Flick - historically underrated, I think.
15) Kelly - positional versatility matters, even though he wasn't superlative at any position he played. Still nice to be able to slot that bat in the lineup, no matter where you needed to put him.
16) Evans
17) Winfield - QoC puts these two ahead of the rest, defense and walks puts Evans ahead of Winfield.
18) Heilmann
19) Keeler - Wee Willie just didn't have Slug's bat. Of course, Heilmann wasn't much with the leather.
20) Thompson - Hard to know if he was truly great. He played in the Baker Bowl in the 1890s. That inflates his hitting numbers tremendously; and they were nothing compared to Big Ed Delahanty's stats.
   4. OCF Posted: October 02, 2008 at 01:59 AM (#2963842)
whoisalhedges: would you please go over to the new Monte Irvin thread and place him among the LF? (I'll issue the same reminder to anyone who casts a vote here and hasn't been to the Irvin thread yet - provided it's someone who did vote on the original LF thread.)
   5. OCF Posted: October 02, 2008 at 02:03 AM (#2963849)
My ballot. Explanations are all over the place - I've been in lots of debates about these guys. The top half of the RF ballot is much stronger than the corresponding part of the LF ballot, as is clear from my list.

1. Babe Ruth
Ted Williams
Stan Musial
2. Hank Aaron
3. Mel Ott
4. Frank Robinson

Rickey Henderson
Ed Delahanty
5. Reggie Jackson
6. Sam Crawford

Carl Yastrzemski
7. Pete Rose
8. Joe Jackson
9. Harry Heilmann
10. Al Kaline
11. Paul Waner
12. Tony Gwynn

Tim Raines
Jesse Burkett
Fred Clarke
13. Roberto Clemente
Willie Stargell
Al Simmons
Billy Williams
14. Enos Slaughter
15. King Kelly

Sherry Magee
16. Elmer Flick
17. Dave Winfield

Goose Goslin
Zack Wheat
Monte Irvin
Joe Medwick
Joe Kelley
18. Willie Keeler
Minnie Minoso
19. Dwight Evans
Charlie Keller
Ralph Kiner
Jimmy Sheckard
Harry Stovey
Reggie Smith
20. Sam Thompson
Charley Jones
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 11:53 AM (#2964402)
Dan, as to Elmer Flick...I supported Elmer for HoM for sure but his career is one of those cases where I can't give any XC. So given his actual record, he suffers pretty seriously compared to the other shorter careers such as Joe Jackson and also Harry Heilmann. Heilmann's is not a short short career, but among players < 10,000 PA, his OPS+ is 1 point less than Flick in > 2,500 extra PA. Flick is also uncomfortably similar to Sam Thompson, just superficially at 149-146 OPS+, and Thompson has an extra 300 PA in shorter seasons. Looking at my ballot in hindsight, what is perhaps more surprisingly than having Flick too low is that I perhaps have Slaughter and Winfield too high.
   7. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 02, 2008 at 12:01 PM (#2964406)
I was under the impression you were a pure peak voter, sunnyday. Didn't you support Al Rosen at one point? Obviously, there's a case against Flick, but it's one that I think would only matter to long prime or career voters.
   8. Rusty Priske Posted: October 02, 2008 at 12:58 PM (#2964423)
1. Babe Ruth

I hear he was pretty good.

2. Hank Aaron

Him too

3. Mel Ott
4. Frank Robinson
5. Paul Waner
6. Sam Crawford

I mean...really. Are any of these controversial in any way?

7. Tony Gwynn

Great hitter. Seems like a smart guy. Just get that voice off of TV please.

8. Al Kaline

9. Reggie Jackson

I considered putting Reggie ahead here.

10. Roberto Clemente

My first baseball hero thanks to a biography I got out of my elementary school library.

11. Enos Slaughter

12. Harry Heilman

13. Pete Rose

I think he should be higher, but I am not willing to try and justify it too myself.

14. Joe Jackson

I am not convinced he didn't get a raw deal. I am also not convinced he did. Either way, I am a career voter mostly and he just doesn't rate high enough.

15. Dwight Evans

16. King Kelly

17. Dave Winfield

Remember when he cracked the million dollar contract barrier.


18. Elmer Flick

19. Willie Keeler

20. Sam Thompson

The only non-PHoMer on the list.
   9. DL from MN Posted: October 02, 2008 at 02:16 PM (#2964474)
RF ballot

1) Babe Ruth - The only argument against him being the most valuable player that ever played the game would be Josh Gibson
2) Henry Aaron - one of my favorite players, loved his autobiography when I was 15 and I've been wearing 44 on softball jerseys ever since which is ironic since I'm anything but a slugger. I probably should be wearing 35.
3) Mel Ott - His bat was better than Robinson's and he played some 3B.
4) Frank Robinson - Amazing how he's made himself less noticeable by hanging around baseball.
5) Paul Waner - thanks for the information on the impressive minor league performance that bumps him up to 52nd in my all-time list
6) Pete Rose - positional flexibility helps him out, long career doesn't hurt
7) Al Kaline - Provided power in RF for years. Just kept going and going.
8) Sam Crawford - A little lower placement but his glove didn't rate all that well and this is a tough ballot at the top
9) Tony Gwynn - Another of my favorite players. I spent a lot of time daydreaming in RF.
10) Reggie Jackson - not a good baserunner or fielder though he didn't hurt you too bad. Ranks just below Clemente in the spreadsheet so I decided to use the postseason performance as a tiebreaker. There's 281 AB of .278/.358/.527 which is nudge better than Clemente.
11) Roberto Clemente - I'm not giving extra credit due to the shortened career. I am giving him credit for the best glove on the ballot.
12) Enos Slaughter - Good glove, good baserunner, great argument for WWII credit.
13) Harry Heilmann - Bad glove which bumps him down here
14) Dwight Evans - Good glove, strike credit, tough era
15) Willie Keeler - Great glove gets him just ahead of Flick
16) Elmer Flick - Short career for a career voter, great player though
17) Dave Winfield - for a great athlete he was an unusually bad fielder
(Reggie Smith)
18) King Kelly - might be wrong if I'm systematically underrating the early ballplayers and I wouldn't argue against someone who rates him higher
19) Sam Thompson
(Gavy Cravath)
20) Joe Jackson - no credit for 1919/1920 so his career is really short (9 years). Still makes my PHoM.
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 07:05 PM (#2964789)
Wow, if somebody can explain Paul Waner 5th to me, then I might worry a little more about whether I have Elmer Flick too low.
   11. Mark Donelson Posted: October 02, 2008 at 09:00 PM (#2965021)
1. Babe Ruth. By a landslide, of course.
2. Hank Aaron. Not by quite so much, but clearly. Puts the #2 spot away on his extended prime/career, which are basically the same thing for him (and would be a peak for most people!).
3. Mel Ott. Again, a decent separation both before and after him. His prime is also the differentiating factor from those below him, though it’s not the wall-o’-prime you get from Aaron.
4. Frank Robinson. Monster short peak, then an excellent prime. I have little question as to my placement of any of these first four. (Would that the rest were so easy.)
5. Joe Jackson. He gets full credit for all his MLB stats from me, and the peak he had time to sustain is enough to place him this high, IMO. Not much career here, of course, but being a peak voter, I don’t care.
6. Sam Crawford. More of a career guy, but he has a nice little peak as the cherry on top too.
7. Pete Rose. OK, he’s a creep. But he had a little of everything--good peak, good prime, great career, and the positional versatility doesn’t hurt at all.
8. King Kelly. Not the career of Rose by any means (though it wasn’t tiny for its time), but a short-but-monstrous peak, and positional variety as well. And he may well have been a creep too. (Sounds like he was an entertaining one, though.)
9. Paul Waner. His numbers mirror Crawford’s, just not quite as long a productive career.
10. Elmer Flick. Impressive peak, and again, the short career doesn’t bug me. Just edges out Reggie--they’re very close.
11. Reggie Jackson. Only one truly phenomenal season, but a lot of really good ones in that peak as well.
12. Tony Gwynn. Another player who was truly incredible at his very best, even if his very best didn’t last that long.
13. Harry Heilmann. Pretty close to Gwynn, and another impressive peak, though not a ton beyond it.
14. Enos Slaughter. Dropped a bit, now that I’m convinced his defensive WS are inflated. This is with war credit.
15. Roberto Clemente. Edges Kaline thanks to the great defense; he’d trail him otherwise (the two are really, really close in my system).
16. Al Kaline. Not a ton of peak here, but a very strong prime.
17. Dave Winfield. A borderline case, certainly; one of those just-good-enough-just-long-enough guys.
18. Dwight Evans. He hasn’t quite made my pHOM even after adjusting for defense and era and the strike year--still not enough peak for my taste. He’s not far below the line, though, and could make it eventually.
19. Willie Keeler. Doesn’t compare to anyone above him in anything except career (or perhaps extremely tiny peak, but it’s not that fantastic and it’s really tiny). Not enough for me--not in my pHOM, and not close.
20. Sam Thompson. Even less impressive than Keeler; he matches up in my system with guys like Roy White (which ever since Bill James isn’t the insult it once was, right?). Not remotely close to my pHOM.
   12. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 02, 2008 at 10:10 PM (#2965128)
I'll have Waner at #5 as well, with no MLE's not rocket science, sunnyday. I think you have trouble seeing Waner's value because you vote based on Win Shares, a system that is rigged to pretend that the difference between Roberto Clemente and Greg Luzinski in the field is about a win per season. Waner, both by stats and reputation (according to recent posts), was a positively brilliant defensive right fielder--not just good, but downright great. Win Shares more or less sticks its head in the sand and pays no attention to this rather gigantic factor. To correct for the empirically false compression of RF defense in Win Shares, you could probably add something on the order of three WS per season to Waner's first 11 years in the majors. I suspect if you did that, you might find him more to your liking.
   13. RedSoxBaller Posted: October 02, 2008 at 11:31 PM (#2965355)
Hey this looks like a really cool thing you guys are doing. Am i allowed to do this? I know my baseball, and I like win shares, WARP3, VORP, etc. So can I take part, or did I have to enroll first? Thanks
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 11:41 PM (#2965386)
RSB, you can join any time. The drill if you want to vote is to cast a preliminary ballot on the discussion thread. We operate by consensus and if the participants see your ballot as being well-informed, then you're in.

Unfortunately you have found us after we have held more than 100 "annual" elections for the HoM (1898-2007) and after we have rank-ordered 7 of the 8 fielding positions. Pitchers yet to come. Also a 2008 ballot coming up pretty soon, if I remember correctly.
   15. sunnyday2 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 11:43 PM (#2965390)
Well, WS and OPS+. Doesn't OPS factor in defense?

Just kidding.
   16. RedSoxBaller Posted: October 02, 2008 at 11:48 PM (#2965397)
Hey sounds good. Wish I found this site earlier, seems like a great place. I will cast my ballot this weekend, right now, Ive got some baseball to watch
   17. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 03, 2008 at 12:05 AM (#2965426)
Sunnyday, how many wins per season do YOU think separated Roberto Clemente from Greg Luzinski in the field? According to Win Shares, it's 0.56 (3.96 Fielding WS/162 for Clemente, 2.29 Fielding WS/162 for Luzinski's outfield seasons). Modern play-by-play metrics agree that the range of true talent at the outfield corners is about 10-15 runs above/below average per season, so about a 2.5 win difference from best to worst--five times bigger than the gap posited by Fielding WS.
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: October 03, 2008 at 11:35 AM (#2965975)
Let's shift this discussion over to the Dan R WARP thread.
   19. Widds Posted: October 03, 2008 at 03:54 PM (#2966230)
About the time Mcguire/Sosa were bringing the fans back with their charade I began an informal poll asking people on the street who donned a MLB cap: for $5 tell me who are the two(2) best baseball players of all time? I got the usual,predictable responses and there was indeed a modest bias aligned to cap denomination. Finally, during Thanksgiving weekend '07 I ventured into a bookstore(no plugs here) and saw a young fellow with a red sox cap and a Harvard tee/sweat shirt reading a magazine. After 7/8 yrs. or so of a lotta' Ruth/Williams from bosox dudes I assumed my $5 was still quite safe;should've had it in some mortgage backed crap long ago! I presented the question to him as I had to hundreds before...he proceeds to lift his head up from the magazine,momentarily paused and simply replies 'oh ok, Mays 'n Clemente'. He accepted the money as if nothing extraordinary had happened and went back to reading.The Ivy League label had been reinforced at least 'til W's next move!
I realize I have bias unlike those I polled but some bias nevertheless. It is out of respect that I urge everyone here to go back and read David Speed's post(s) here on Clemente. I believe his May '06 verbage is the most poignant,most informative and without a doubt most accurate posture on Mr. Clemente.
There is so much hype/marketing of athletes esp.since the explosion of tv/internet that I would prefer limiting the definition of a superstar to simply: if you never saw them perform then you never really saw the 'game';with that criteria in mind my narrowed to Ali,Jordan & Roberto. I'm well aware of sabremetrics and applaud any effort to dissect data for any purposeful end;my brother(assistant dean computer science)labored over algorithms to determine very low outcome probabilities & corresponding wagering on sporting events. HI PETE! I think we all should have detected Mcguire/Sosa while it was happening.
Roberto Clemente is the best ballplayer I've ever seen and that indeed comes from one who values the way victory is achieved as much as victory itself.Part of my life involves teaching putting in golf.I'm very very good at this...exceptional even. I feel, however the game places way way too much value here. One doesn't need sabre like data to realize great shotmaking w/o above avg. putting(hope avg. still holds water here) won't let one retire early.Golf needs to change this ,it needs to place less value on putting..more on athleticism.
Baseball needs to change too! The 4-6-3 double play is easier than finding a mediocre ball girl. Two outs for around the horn activity? The outfield fence/wall immediately rewarded trajectory over bat control/ also rewarded $ the owners with more seats.Sand lot ball rewarded solid contact/foot speed. Shotmaking in golf rewards both low/hi trajectory. What if an outfield assist were an additional 3 outs instead of the 1 tag out? Honestly now, which is more RARE a Clemente catch/throw or the lazy 350 ft. home run? (which,of course, any outfielder with just normal wheels would have caught if that damn wall wasn't there.) How about this one: We alternate base path direction(clockwise making 3rd base become 1st giving right handed hitters the inherent value lefties have had all these years.
Is it possible sabremetrics has more importantly exposed what's wrong with baseball's format than correctly identifying who the best ballplayers are? Clemente's display of complete mastery of all facets of the game during the '71 World Series is something that should be aired every year so kids will understand why Bowie Kuhn said 'He gave complete a new meaning'
   20. Mark Donelson Posted: October 04, 2008 at 08:37 PM (#2967911)
Well, that shut us all up....
   21. Chris Cobb Posted: October 05, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2969119)
Right Field Ballot

Not many tough calls at this position, except right in the middle of the ballot. To see how it feels, I have done this ballot using my usual formula career value + sum of seasonal values above average + 5*peak rate, but instead of calculating this total for WS, W1, and Dan R’s WAR2, and combining them using weighted factors of 1/4, 1/4, 1/2, I have just gone with total I get from Dan R’s WAR2.

I. All-Time Top 10
1. Babe Ruth. Total = 347.7. This does not include pitching! Greatest player ever. Barry Bonds may be close, though.
2. Henry Aaron. Total = 279. My favorite player among the all-time greats. The epitome of quiet dignity and steady greatness.

II. Inner-Circle HoMers
3. Mel Ott. Total = 240.8. People forget how good he was. He gives Gehrig a good run for best major-league player of the 1930s.
4. Frank Robinson. Total = 220.2. The second-best rightfielder of the 1960s, the best decade ever for the position. Amazingly durable for a player who played as hard as he did.

III. Among the best players of their generation
5. Paul Waner. Total = 171.6. Probably better defensively than the comprehensive metrics credit him for, which edges him above Kaline. It’s defense that gives him a leg up over the bigger boppers Wahoo Sam and the Candy Bar Guy. What style of hitter was Big Poison, really?
6. Pete Rose. Total = 164.5. Destroyed by the very qualities that drove him to success. Tremendous career value, and an excellent prime, but his peak is the lowest of any top 10 right fielder, and that drops him into the second five. Does less well in this system than Kaline, but I can’t really buy the conclusion that Kaline did more to help his teams than Rose did.
7. Al Kaline. Total = 172.2. Another great 1960s right fielder. I am surprised to have him this high, but he played a long time and was consistently excellent. He’s not close to an inner-circle guy because he was injured so often, but it looks like he’s being seriously underrated on some ballots.

IV. Obvious HoMers
8. Sam Crawford. Total = 163.5. Best pure power hitter of the deadball era, but an indifferent fielder.
9. Reggie Jackson. Total = 159.9. Like Crawford, he wouldn’t be called a complete player, but he was still the best power hitter in the AL in the 1970s and not bad in the field. I overrated him a little bit in the past because I was applying a redundant DH adjustment to Dan R’s WAR, which already included a DH adjustment. Fixing that error drops him below Sam Crawford. He, Clemente, and Gwynn are very closely bunched in my system.
10. Roberto Clemente. Total = 156.7. Best man among the HoM RFers, with Henry Aaron second. I am just too young to have had the chance to see him play and remember it. I have Clemente higher than most, perhaps because I include peak rate in my assessment of merit. Clemente is a step behind all the rest of the top 10 and Tony Gwynn on career and prime value, but his peak rate is at least .5 wins/year better than everyone above him but below the inner circle. That’s enough to nudge him past Gwynn in my rankings. Gwynn had a couple of monster years, but he never put together a sustained peak of excellence that was comparable to Clemente’s run in the late 1960s. My ranking of Clemente over Gwynn is really a matter of taste. It’s close enough to go either way, but this is how it goes for me.
11. Tony Gwynn. Total = 156.2. One of the best contact hitters ever. Could have been higher if he had stayed in shape with as much dedication as he studied the science of hitting.
12. King Kelly. Total = ???. One of the biggest stars of the 1880s, his reputation was greater than his accomplishments, but he was one of the game’s top players in the first half of the 1880s. Even when he played right field, he didn’t really play right field, so I’m not sure this is the best list to put him in, but this is where I think he ranks in this cohort. He would be higher at most other positions, but the top 10 in right field is a very impressive group of players who are strong in peak, career, offense, and defense.
13. Harry Heilmann. Total = 150.6. The man could flat-out hit and is obviously HoM qualified. He’s not higher because he was awful in the field, and his career was rather short by RF standards: just about every player above him except King Kelly has an 18+ year career. Peak voters may rank him higher.
14. Enos Slaughter. Total = 150.2. Lost his peak to the war: this total credits him for that.
15. Joe Jackson. Total = 152.5. Everything I said above about Heilmann applies to Jackson, too, except for the awful fielding. His shortened career is his own fault, too. He probably would have ended up somewhere between Waner and Ott, if he’d not helped throw the World Series. One has to look past that, of course, to remember his on-the-field value. Would rank ahead of Slaughter with full credit, but penalties on 1919 and 1920 drop him here.

V. Solid HoMers when you read the fine print
16. Elmer Flick. Total = 141.4. Great player, short career, but it’s enough.
17. Willie Keeler. Total = 139.7. The great nickname and the high batting average have kept Keeler from being overlooked. Sabermetricians have been skeptical, but there’s easily sufficient HoM value in Keeler’s career, even if he had the poor taste to concentrate that value in stats the uninformed fan understands. . .
18. Dwight Evans. Total = 135.2. For the sabermetrician, he is an obvious HoMer, but his talents are apparently easy for the BBWAA to overlook.
19. Dave Winfield. Total = 131.8. Only once achieved the kind of dominating season people always thought he was capable of, but he was a star for a long time and a good player for a very long time. Is he the most successful tall hitter of all time?

VI. Almost as good an argument to be out, as to be in
20. Sam Thompson. est. total = 122.5. I long thought he was a big mistake, but now I see him more as a questionable pick. Had we not elected him, he would probably be around the bottom of my 2009 ballot. Certainly he could hit, but his career was short, he was injured quite a bit during that short career, and the value of his defense was questionable. Underrated by win shares for reasons I have never quite figured out, but surely related to its way of apportioning batting win shares. Overrated by WARP1, I think, because it sees him as a stupendous defensive right fielder, which I find highly doubtful. He may benefit in WARP1 from being compared to players at a position that was used to stash subs. Here the WS approach of putting all the outfielders in one group probably leads to the more accurate assessment.
   22. Rusty Priske Posted: October 06, 2008 at 01:06 PM (#2971384)
You gave out $5 if someone could randomly choose your two favourite players while claiming they were the best ever?

Sorry if I sound snarky but as a Clemente fan, I can't even fathom the idea that he was better that Ruth, Williams, Ewing, whoever.
   23. ronw Posted: October 07, 2008 at 09:09 PM (#2973773)
Right 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. Babe Ruth – 236.7 WAV, 16 MVP/CY, 19 AS, 9 Monster (1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1930, 1931), 6 Great (1916, 1917, 1918, 1928, 1929, 1932), .374 eqA1, .363 eqA2. Greatest. Player. Ever.

2. Hank Aaron – 219.9 WAV, 15 MVP, 19 AS, 2 Monster (1963, 1968), 12 Great (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969), .330 eqA1, .328 eqA2. Probably the most consistently great player ever.

First Tier

3. Mel Ott – 181.8 WAV, 10 MVP, 17 AS, 2 Monster (1932, 1935), 9 Great (1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1942), .331 eqA1, .328 eqA2. Just edges Robinson for #3 and for most unsung all-time great.

4. Frank Robinson – 175.6 WAV, 6 MVP, 18 AS, 2 Monster (1962, 1966), 4 Great (1961, 1964, 1967, 1969), .329 eqA1, .325 eqA2. It’s really the playing time that drops him below the Aaron level.

Second Tier

5. Pete Rose – 159.7 WAV, strike credit, 7 MVP, 17 AS, No Monster, 5 Great (1968, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1976), .293 eqA1, .289 eqA2. His peak doesn’t get him here, but he held value for a remarkably long time.

6. Roberto Clemente – 130.6 WAV, 3 MVP, 12 AS, No Monster, 5 Great (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968), .305 eqA1, .302 eqA2. Probably could have passed Pete if not for 12/31/72. Much better than I expected in this analysis.

7. Paul Waner – 131.2 WAV, 5 MVP, 12 AS, No Monster, 5 Great (1927, 1928, 1931, 1934, 1936), .310 eqA1, .305 eqA2. The alcoholism keeps him from breaking free of this pack.

8. Reggie Jackson – 130.7 WAV, strike credit, 5 MVP, 14 AS, No Monster, 4 Great (1969, 1971, 1973, 1974), .306 eqA1, .307 eqA2. Interesting that he has the exact same eqA2 as Tony Gwynn. What a neat metric. The DH bump and tough league boost him.

9. Sam Crawford – 125.4 WAV, 8 MVP, 15 AS, No Monster, 3 Great (1905, 1909, 1914), .311 eqA1, .301 eqA2. Before I ran the numbers, I thought Crawford would be an easy #5. He near the bottom of the second tier of greats, beginning with Rose and ending with Gwynn.

10. Al Kaline – 131.3 WAV, 3 MVP, 12 AS, No Monster, 3 Great (1955, 1961, 1967), .308 eqA1, .298 eqA2. Solid for a long time, but nothing really spectacular.

11. Tony Gwynn – 119.5 WAV, strike credit, 5 MVP, 10 AS, No Monster, 3 Great (1984, 1986, 1987), .308 eqA1, .307 eqA2. Does get a competition boost, but didn’t really have the PT at the end that the others in his tier enjoyed.

12. King Kelly – 90.1 WAV, 4 MVP, 14 AS, No Monster, 3 Great (1879, 1886, 1888), .304 eqA1, .292 eqA2. Probably belongs with the second tier. Versatility is offset by atrocious fielding (but great arm).

Third Tier

13. Harry Heilmann – 102.2 WAV, war credit, 5 MVP, 11 AS, No Monster, 1 Great (1923), .318 eqA1, .309 eqA2. Begins the third tier of greats.

14. Dave Winfield – 120.2 WAV, strike credit, 3 MVP, 13 AS, No Monster, 1 Great (1979), .297 eqA1, .301 eqA2. A season or two shy of Al Kaline.

15. Elmer Flick – 95.9 WAV, 5 MVP, 9 AS, 1 Monster (1906), 5 Great (1900, 1901, 1904, 1905, 1907), .323 eqA1, .315 eqA2 Fantastic while he played.

16. Joe Jackson – 84.3 WAV, war credit, 7 MVP, 8 AS, 1 Monster (1912), 5 Great (1911, 1913, 1916, 1917, 1920), .338 eqA1, .327 eqA2. Almost a mirror of Flick, but we know something else did Jackson in. Was well on his way toward the second tier, and could have gotten to Ott/Robinson levels had the gamblers not intervened.

17. Enos Slaughter – 102.5 WAV, war credit, 3 MVP, 9 AS, No Monster, 1 Great (1942), .298 eqA1, .295 eqA2. War credit easily brings him in the third tier, but nothing really spectacular when he did play.

18. Dwight Evans – 109.1 WAV, strike credit, 3 MVP, 8 AS, No Monster, 2 Great (1981, 1982), .290 eqA1, .296 eqA2. Someone has to be #18. Dewey was solid, but never really considered the best player in the league. Even in 1981, the world was agog over Fernando, Schmidt and George Foster’s big RBI season in the NL, and Evans probably had competition from Henderson and Murray in the AL (not to mention Grich).

Fourth Tier

19. Willie Keeler – 107.2 WAV, 1 MVP, 13 AS, No Monster, 1 Great (1897), .294 eqA1, .286 eqA2. The Ichiro of his day was valuable, and deserves his HOM selection, but really is in the fourth tier (by himself) of HOM right fielders.

Fifth Tier

20. Sam Thompson – 80.4 WAV, 1 MVP, 8 AS, No Monster, 3 Great (1886, 1887, 1892) .307 eqA1, .298 eqA2. I now think he was a better choice than Mike Tiernan (but not by much). However it feels like we elected the Rocky Colavito of the 1880’s-90’s. Sam (by choice, it seems) just didn’t have enough career. Maybe if you give Thompson some pre age 25 credit because of the weirdness of 1880s baseball, but if so, why didn’t he play in 1884 of all seasons?
   24. Brent Posted: October 08, 2008 at 03:57 AM (#2974019)
Dave Winfield... Is he the most successful tall hitter of all time?

It depends on where you draw the boundary for "tall." If it's >= 6'6", then Winfield, Frank Howard, and Darryl Strawberry are the leading candidates. If the cut-off is 6'5", it'll be Mark McGwire or Frank Thomas. Relative to their contemporaries, both Williams (6'3") and Ruth (6'2") were considered tall.
   25. Paul Wendt Posted: October 08, 2008 at 06:11 PM (#2974508)
also big Dan Brouthers 6'2"
and his statistical sidekick, giant Roger Connor 6'3"
   26. stax Posted: October 08, 2008 at 09:37 PM (#2974712)
Hey guys. I've been following this voting like RSB for a while and feel I'm ready to submit a ballot and see how consistent I can be. I'm going into fullon spreadsheet mode, trying to list as many valuable #s as I can find. I would consider myself at the outset much more of a career voter than a peak, peak/prime seems more like a tiebreaking force or a cherry on top between two close competitors than an outright reason to vote for someone. I'm putting together my lil' sheet right now, I'll vote soon enough.
   27. stax Posted: October 09, 2008 at 12:39 AM (#2974872)

1. Babe Ruth - He's a decent baseball player. Think the Yankees were better off with him than they are with Bobby Abreu? Lulz.
2. Hank Aaron - I wonder if The Hammer ever drank a Screwdriver?

3. Mel Ott
4. Frank Robinson - Ott had a virtually identical OPS+ but F-Rob did it through 1500+ more ABs. I think league strength also favors Robinson a bit. Ott's 3, 5, and 7 year peak/prime pretty clearly beats out Robinson's, however. Add that to leads in career WARP and Win Shares for Ott (though a narrow lead for that last one) and I get this order.

5. Paul Waner
6. Sam Crawford
7. Pete Rose - These three were very close for me, each with their own clear leading aspect. I gave Waner the edge for the added defensive reputation he seems to have, plus he's "Big Poison" and how awesome is that for a nickname? Crawford over Rose because, as nice as all that big long career was, the man's OPS+ is the lowest of anyone on the ballot at 118. He only surpassed Crawfords career mark of 144 twice in a season (68: 152, 69: 158, nearly a third in 76 with 141). Obviously a positional advantage to Rose, but Crawford (in 19 seasons, so not really just a short peak career like Shoeless Joe) slugged 50 points higher than Rose in the deadball era (for their career Crawford's league slugged 50 points lower on average than Rose's). In 4500 more ABs (roughly 50%) than Crawford or Waner Rose only amassed 20ish more WARP1 (14% more) or 100ish more WS (22.7%).

8. Roberto Clemente
9. Reggie Jackson
10. Al Kaline - I think you have to include Reggie's half a season's worth of postseason ABs at basically his career rates. Reggie held a narrow OPS and in particular SLG lead (slightly bigger if you look at ISOP instead since Reggie had less AVG-boosting-SLG) plus Reggie hit 150 more homers in practically the same number of games. Clemente clearly had the weakest bat of the 3, but not by much. His higher average and best-at-the-position glove make up for a few points of slugging or OPS+.

11. Joe Jackson - He was an offensive god with the second best OPS+ on the ballot, truly crazy numbers. Babe freaking Ruth (to steal from Wiki) "claimed that he modeled his hitting technique after Jackson's". The two things working against him are the shortest career on the ballot (stopping at age 30 makes his rate stats a less than perfect measure in comparison to other guys who had older years) and obviously the Black Sox. Every bit of evidence seems to suggest Jackson was actually quite innocent in the affair, but he was nevertheless banned from the game (leaving him without age 31+ seasons to truly display his dominance and pass some guys ahead of him).
12. King Kelly
13. Tony Gwynn - Had these two very close. Despite 1000 more games by Gwynn and playing in the 80s and 90s rather than the deadball era Gwynn only hit 60 more HR than Kelly. Also, while we don't have CS data for that far back, Kelly clearly deserves some baserunning credit over Gwynn. Gwynn was fine, a few top-10 season SB performances and at a not-really-hurting-the-team career % of 71%. Kelly managed 50 more SBs than Gwynn (on b-ref) despite no listings for his age 20-27 seasons. Add that to his baserunning reputation (partly due to the new slide technique he popularized, I'd bet) and you get a pretty darn speedy guy. 368 SB over only 5 really big years a 2 end-of career ones? Have to expect at least a moderately good SB%, I mean Ty Cobb in his 96 SB, age 28 season stole at 71.6% (roughly Gwynn's rate). It's hard to imagine Kelly's manager would keep sending him out there if he wasn't stealing (and he wouldn't become so famous for it) if he wasn't at least reasonably good at it. Runs are an incredibly imperfect stat, but his consistent high run scoring only further plays into an image of a very speedy guy. Add in a positional advantage, though probably cancel most of that with Kelly's terrible fielding and you get two very close guys. Gwynn generated about 7.9 WARP1/162 by BP's current calculator, Kelly 11.6. If you make anything close to a fair adjustment for Kelly playing in far shorter-season eras (he played in all 60 of Cincinatti's games his rookie year) that career advantage for Gwynn disappears. Plus he sounds like an absolute badass, stealing 3rd illegally when the umps weren't looking, and had an awesome mustache.
14. Harry Heilmann - Similar level of career value to Gwynn, but unlike Kelly wasn't playing in those crazy short seasons for which Kelly deserved some balancing credit. Very good hitter, though clearly helped by the livelier ball as he didn't break double digit HRs once 1914-1920 then was in double digits 9 of his 10 remaining full seasons (1921-1930).

15. Enos Slaughter - Includes war credit
16. Wee Willy Keeler - Despite batting 140 points better than league average for his career he only OBPed 40 points better. Glove and career length gets him ahead of Flick
17. Elmer Flick - Good, but short career

18. Dave Winfield
19. Dwight Evans - Winfield maintained a slightly better offense hitting slightly more home runs in 370 more games. His decent glove compared to Winfield's reasonably bad glove makes it closer, but I still vote this way.
20. Sam Thompson - Just... No...
   28. Rick A. Posted: October 09, 2008 at 12:51 AM (#2974880)
Rightfield Ballot
1. Babe Ruth - Clear #1
2. Hank Aron - Clear #2
3. Mel Ott - Just edges ahead of Frank Robinson
4. Frank Robinson
5. Sam Crawford - Majorly underestimated by BBWAA.
6. Paul Waner
7. Pete Rose - Great player, Lousy person
8. Reggie Jackson - Mr. October.
9. Joe Jackson - With discounts for 1919 and 1920
10. Harry Heilmann
11. Al Kaline - Better than Clemente. Best long career, lowish peak player.
12. King Kelly
13. Elmer Flick - Great Peak, but short career.
14. Tony Gwynn
15. Dave Winfield
16. Roberto Clemente - Great player, better person. Would like a little more peak to place him higher.
17. Enos Slaughter - With WWII credit.
Ken Singleton
18. Willie Keeler
19. Dwight Evans - Both Evans and Keeler are in despite lowish peaks. Career value gets them in.
Gavy Cravath
---------------------------------------------------PHOM Line---------------------------------
Reggie Smith
Dave Parker
Mike Tiernan
Jack Clark
20. Sam Thompson - I think he's a mistake, although not as bad as HOF mistakes.
   29. OCF Posted: October 09, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2974883)
Hi, stax: are you new here? Or are you someone we know with a changed handle? I'm guessing new, so welcome.

I don't see anything to dispute about your ballot; it's reasonable and explained. My one comment is that I don't think you'll find a lot of enthusiasm among the rest of us for proclaiming Joe Jackson's innocence. Even so, your placement of him is very close to the average of the voters who have gone before you.
   30. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 09, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2974884)
19. Dwight Evans - Winfield maintained a slightly better offense hitting slightly more home runs in 370 more games. His decent glove compared to Winfield's reasonably bad glove makes it closer, but I still vote this way.

Evans had a *great* glove, not a decent one...although by glove I really mean arm.
   31. stax Posted: October 09, 2008 at 01:29 AM (#2974903)
OCF: Yes, I'm quite new, I'm still in single digit post count here (though I've gone back and read a great number of your threads, love the discussions). Thanks for the welcome. I got the drift that people here weren't in love with Joe Jackson, heh. I'd be interested to hear the reason for the distaste over Jackson. Basically everyone in the conspiracy seems to have agreed that Jackson wasn't at the meetings, wasn't playing along, wasn't taking his payments, was trying to talk to people about it, etc.

Dan R: Fair enough. Any of the groups where I just did one comment for a group of players I could just as easily see that order switched around without much objection.
   32. bjhanke Posted: October 09, 2008 at 04:44 AM (#2975018)
Hi, guys. This post and the next are the first half of my right field ballot as it stands now. After Frank Robinson, I have a few differences with what seems to be the consensus, and most of the differences have to do with some of my odd methods. If it's not too much trouble, could some of you read this over and bias-check it and fact-check it, just to see if I'm being consistent with myself or out of control? I do really think the stuff I wrote here is right, but a couple of extra eyes never hurts. And yes, I know I write long and the first ten guys should not require two posts to get onto the site. But, sigh, I am who I am.

Thanks, - Brock

It's odd. I don't have Ruth as the best position player ever. I have Honus. And I don't have Ruth as the best hitter, either. That's Williams. And, of course, Ruth didn't pitch enough years to get ranked there. And defense was his weak suit, except maybe for baserunning. So he isn't the very top man in any particular arena, but the combination is without question number one.

I got to see Aaron play quite a bit in my youth. One of the things I remember most was on defense. When a batter hit a fly ball that ended up in the stands foul, Aaron would usually not chase it at all. I don't mean that Hank let a lot of balls fall in for doubles or just foul flies because he was lazy. I mean that he seemed to have absolutely uncanny judgment as to which balls would be catchable and which ones would not. Even if the ball was going to have to hook to get into the stands, Aaron seemed to know that from the time it left the bat. I thought it was amazing then, and I think so now. Of course, I'm also working from my memories as a kid and a teenager.

Ott held the NL title for career homers for quite a while, at a time when the league was not exactly short of power. I give a little credit for that - for being the number one guy for a long while at a feature stat. I'd give more except for the park factor for homers. What I don't give credit for is position flexibility. Ott was an outfielder who could be stretched like Tony Perez to play third if you had too many other outfielders who simply could not. As with Perez, his team needed him to do that for a while, so he did (see Pete Rose comment). But he wasn't really flexible on defense. He was a corner outfielder. Too short to really play first. Enough arm that he didn't have to play left.

I don't really have much to say about Frank. I saw him play, just like Aaron, but he didn't do anything that was visually spectacular, or even statistically so. There's nothing to hold up like Hank's odd defensive judgment, except for oddities related to Frank's moving between leagues, which wasn't common at the time. So here's a related note. I got to know Bing Devine, the old Cardinal GM, pretty well in his old age. It turned out that my uncle just happened to live across the street from Bing, and when Bing found out there was a Hanke in the press box, he came over to me and asked if I was related to Harold. I would never have had the nerve to go groupie up to Bing, so I'm real happy he did that.

Anyway, I data mined Bing for old insider info all I could. One of the first things he told me was that his very favorite trade of his entire career was his first, for Curt Flood. The Reds weren't using him, and Bing saw a talent he could steal. The reason the Reds weren't using Flood, according to Bing, was that they already had Frank, and Vada Pinson was coming soon, and they weren't willing to cross the Rubicon of having an all-black outfield. This was in 1957, which tells you how long and hard the integration fight really was. Of course, Flood was really young at the time, and you can argue that his bat was really not major league ready, but racism is what Bing said the motivation was.

Just to bring up a fun memory, does anyone else remember the Cincy All-Star game voting scandal in 1957? Essentially, voting for the game's starters was conducted by having the hometown newspapers print up ballots - every day - that readers could clip, fill out, and mail in. The Cincy paper printed a bunch of ballots with all the Cincy players preprinted on it. This worked beyond expectations. The NL voting roster for the game was Stan Musial (over the 36-year-old George Crowe), and the Reds' players everywhere else. The league stepped in, and Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were allowed to replace two of the Reds' outfielders. Frank Robinson was the Reds' outfielder allowed to remain. Musial, due to Solly Hemus, was at first. I'm not sure, but this may have been the very first all-black outfield to start a major league game.

A very durable, very reliable great player through age 34. Paul had the illusion of tremendous doubles power but not too many homers. That may be a ballpark effect; the same one that had him in a corner outfield slot despite great defense. I don't mean to suggest that Waner would have hit homers like Foxx or anything, just that he would have had more homers and fewer doubles in a different park. There is a quote out there somewhere, which I could not find, where Paul talks about designing a swing to hit the ball down the line for doubles because he could not get the ball out of his park anyway.

In 1938, at age 35, Paul basically collapsed as a player. His seasons after that are of questionable value. I can't find any injury reference, but the stats would suggest that. Other than that, his reliability was so great that except for the many anecdotes, no one would guess that he drank.

No one else seems to be giving Sam credit for his enormous career length. The number of seasons is "only" 19, but Crawford played an abnormal percentage of his teams' games. It isn't until Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker came along that any outfielder surpassed him in games played, and it wasn't until Waner, who was 25 years later, that any right fielder played more games. Add that to a nice total of black ink, and I'm a total believer. Sam quit the moment he declined. Only two years before his last partial season, he had led the league in triples and RBI, and stole 24 bases with a decent percentage. This is one reason (there are others, like hitting quality) why I have Sam ranked ahead of Pete Rose; he didn't hang on after he was done, but still had a huge career. In fact, I'd have him above Waner, except for the defense.

Sam had speed, and came up as a center fielder, but wasn't that good with a glove. But he had a top arm, and played very little left field. He did play a few games at center as late as 1910, and came close to 500 games in center for the career. He played center full time from 1907 through 1909, when Ty Cobb was young and very very fast and on the same team. That is, I have doubts about Sam's ranking as a lousy defender. The rankings could be right, but there is evidence against that.

It also puts into question just how much Sam hated Ty Cobb. The myth is that Cobb, when young, had to be moved to a corner spot so someone could play center in between the two men. The trouble is that it's not possible for more than a few games. When Cobb came up in 1905 and again in 1906, he played primarily center, perforce next to Crawford. Then there are three years where Cobb is in a corner, but Sam is in center. Then it's Cobb back to center. There is not even one whole season where the two men both play corners.

I probably have him higher than anyone else, and think he might deserve to rank even higher. There are two reasons for this, both of which have shown up in the discussion thread. First, he has a long career, not a short one or even a mediocre one, if you make any reasonable adjustment for contemporaries and schedules. Second, I don't count errors on defense, and Kelly has the worst record for making errors of anyone I know of. Other than errors, Kelly has excellent defensive stats. His range factors aren't good (just a tad below league average for the career, but individual seasons are all over the place), which is where I claim the errors come in. Kelly's range factors aren't good because he kicked a huge number of balls that he did get to. If you count that and ALSO count fielding percentage, you are, in effect, counting errors twice. Meanwhile, Kelly's baserunner kills (assists) are just as through the roof as his errors are, and I count the kills. Bill James factors in fielding percentage as well as range; without that, Kelly's grade of B+ would be an A if not an A+. I give him the A. Even B+ is a heck of a win shares grade for a right fielder. I have him even with Waner.

I also give Kelly mondo credit for positional versatility, unlike Mel Ott and Pete Rose. Those two did not play the tough spots. They were OK defenders with good arms, not shortstops or catchers or center fielders. Well, King Kelly was as much a catcher as anything else (583 games against 750 in right and 122 everywhere else), given how few games catchers of his era played. He played a little shortstop, too. That is, he could play the tough ones. I also wonder, with no way of ever finding out, whether his games in right field weren't a concession to his odd style of play. At the time, if you had someone who wasn't going to stay in his normal spot, but was going to range all over the field, you'd put him in right, just like you did with change pitchers a bit earlier. In any case, his reputation for odd positioning, which is monolithic, has to be while playing right field. I mean, there's only so much you can do at catcher. I'm pretty sure that even Kelly never lined up in fair territory while assigned to catch pitchers. So it all has to be while he was nominally a right fielder.

So what I have is that he hit what he hit, which is excellent or better, but in a LONG career and with grade A defensive value and grade A versatility. I rank that here.
   33. bjhanke Posted: October 09, 2008 at 04:45 AM (#2975021)
I am old enough to have seen Al Kaline play, and I can assure you all that it was truly a thing of beauty. You should dig up some tapes, especially early in the career. Al was fluid, smooth, and graceful, in the field, at the plate, and running the bases. That, in fact, was what he was most famous for in the 1950s. He just LOOKED like a great great ballplayer. That, of course, is no help in ranking him, but I thought it was worth throwing in.

Al had a long extended peak (1955-1967), broken up by a couple of injury years, and finally finished by a broken arm in 1967. This was unfortunate for his rep, as his team won the World Series in 68, when he really could not throw. He ended up with a much worse rep than his arm should have commanded. Aside from Clemente's, which lapped the field, Kaline before 1968 had as much arm as anyone. When young, he played 484 games in center, although a broken collarbone in 1962 robbed him of much of his range (an odd effect, given the injury, but it was piling on top of a career-long foot problem similar to Albert Pujols'). Bill James' ranking of his defense as a B- is probably close to an accurate average, but the young Kaline was an A- or so.

As a hitter, Kaline was always near the top of the league, but never number one. That is, he's a grey ink guy, not a black ink one, but there's just an awful lot of grey ink, especially in the most important stats, like OBP, SLG, and, therefore, OPS. It's not the ballpark, either. His OPS+ numbers are high for a long while, and only below 100 in three out of 22 injury-filled years. In short, I am completely certain that, gambling completely set aside, I would rather have Kaline's 22 seasons than Pete Rose's 24.

9. Harry Heilmann.
Um. Guys. Harry Heilmann does NOT have a short career for a right fielder, if you make even the slightest effort to adjust for time period. It's not medium, either. It is quite LONG. If you run a BB-Ref sort for 50% right fielders up through 1940, which includes all of Heilmann's contemporaries and more, he's got the #5 career, having just been passed by 6 games by Paul Waner. If you run it all the way out to 1955, which is WAY beyond his contemporaries, he's still sixth. 1960? Still seventh. After than, modern medicine and the 162-game schedules catch up to him. But NO, Harry Heilmann does NOT have a short career. Not by any reasonable standard of comparison. Sorry to rant and preach, but I've been on this horse since Jimmy Collins and Home Run Baker, and I am a bit stunned to find myself still confronting it here in right field. At most positions, including right field, the number of games played goes up steadily throughout baseball history. If you don't adjust for that, well, isn't that, in effect, timelining?

Enough nonsense from my hobbyhorse. Let's look at Harry's odd career path. As those of you who read the BBBAs know, I have a theory called "iambic development." Iambic is an extension of the concept of Sophomore Slump. I theorize that young players come up when having a hot season (when else would the big club bring him up?), the league's pitchers take a year to figure out which pitch he hits worst, he takes a year to adjust, they go to the #2 pitch, etc. What you end up with is a player who lurches from strong to weak seasons, gathering quality as he approaches his peak. This applies, according to my informal checking, to about 3/4 of all players. I've never published this systematically because I can't figure out why some of the "even-numbered iambics" (players whose strong seasons are at ages 22, 24, 26, and 28) have their peaks at age 26, while others have it at age 28. If I ever figure that out, I'm publishing. If you do, please feel free to publish yourself. Just let me know, so I can see what I've been missing.

Anyway, Harry Heilmann is the only player I know of who is actually famous for an iambic season pattern. The odd thing is that, as a developing player, Harry does NOT have a purely iambic pattern. That doesn't start until 1919, when Harry's already 24 years old. He drops at age 25, back up at 26, down at 27, hits his peak season at age 28, and then varies more in batting average than he does in overall quality. Of course, there's a war there in 1918, but still. I would expect the one famous guy to actually fit the theory all the way back to his rookie campaign.

Heilmann had a dreadful glove, no doubt, and I am not completely certain that I should have him ahead of Pete Rose. Bill James has Rose ahead; Pete Palmer has Harry. Both of them have Harry's defense as dreadful, so that's not the difference. In the end, I tend to discount some of Rose's career length as being driven by chasing a record, and I apparently think much more of Harry's length than anyone else (I do think that some of Bill's odd placements are due to the win shares system making no adjustment for contemporary career lengths, and then timelining on top of that). Given a split between Palmer and James, that gives me one reason to break the tie in Harry's favor out of one reason to disagree with either man.

10. Pete Rose.
I give Pete Rose approximately zero credit for defensive versatility. The reason is that he could not play the tough positions - short, center, catcher. He could play the mediocre and weak ones only. His reputation for versatility comes from two moves. The first was in 1967, when Rose moved off of second base and into the outfield to make room for Lee May. Here's the whole deal. In 1966, the Reds had Tony Perez at first, Rose at second, Leo Cardenas at short, and Tommy Helms at third, which is a very reasonable defensive infield. May broke through the next year, leaving the team with two first basemen, neither of whom could play the outfield. Well, Perez could be stretched to play third, so they did that, which forced them to move Helms. Helms was a much better defender than Rose was (when Cardenas got hurt, Helms was the backup shortstop and Pete got pulled back onto second), so Pete went into the outfield. The guy to whom I give credit for versatility here is Helms, not Rose.

But really, isn't the real versatility guy Cardenas? Does anyone really doubt that Leo could have played second or third at least as well as Tommy Helms, much less Pete Rose? Leo had fine speed; he might not have been good at judging fly balls, but if he was even adequate, wasn't he qualified to play center? Wasn't the most versatile defensive player of the 1980s actually Ozzie Smith? That's why I don't give credit for flexibility unless the man can play the hard spots. King Kelly? Could be listed among the catchers and had center field speed. Pete Rose? Second base, third if you had to, and corner outfield. It's not even close, in my opinion. The real most versatile players are shortstops, center fielders and 19th century catchers. The only reason that they don't look versatile is that there's no reason to move them off their top spot, so they never get a chance to show versatility. Larry Doby was versatile, and Willie Mays was likely even more so. Mickey Cochrane was a catcher who could actually run. Deacon White was versatile. Pete Rose was not.

The second move, by the way, was in 1975, from the outfield to third base. Here's what really happened. In 1974, the Reds, having discarded Dennis Menke for failing to even match the Mendoza Line, tried the very young Dan Driessen (yes, they did) at third base. That absolutely did not work, plus the Reds had come up with a trio of young outfielders named Griffey, Geronimo and Foster. So Rose plugged the gap at third, while Driesen became the fifth bat, behind the three outfielders and Perez at first. That's not Rose being defensively versatile. That's Rose being at least better than Dan Driessen and Tony Perez at third.

I will concede that a hard core value guy (MVP credentials) as opposed to ability (HoF credentials) can argue that making way for Lee May's bat and Ken Griffey's has value. That's true, but I consider it to be an accident of the teams he was on. It wasn't that Rose could play anywhere; it was that his teams were desperate and he was better defensively than the big sluggers they had. And, as I posted elsewhere, the HoM is a Hall of Fame-like thing, rather than a MVP-like one, so ability should always trump value, in my opinion. It doesn't help that most metrics I've seen have Rose as a poor second and third baseman (win shares is alone in having him as a good infielder). They just have Driessen and Perez as worse. That's not my idea of versatile. My idea is Tris Speaker, who never got to show it.

What Pete Rose actually has to sell to me are two things: durability and doubles. Rose had real doubles power, and I am willing to give him credit for that. Of course, that credit is fully measured in his slugging percentages. But his durability is his feature quality. He played huge percentages of his teams' games. There is an entire dozen-year run (1969-1980) where his LOWEST number of games played is 154. Overall, he has ten years of 160 games or more (not all in the run). That's really really valuable, and drives my placement of him here.

You will note that I have written not one word about gambling. Joe Dimino told me that Rose's actions as a manager are not to be counted, so I did not factor in any manipulating of ballgames. However, as a player, his value is questionable after 1976, and almost nothing after 1981. If he hadn't been putting fannies in seats by chasing a record, I doubt any team would have been willing to start him at first base in the 1980s, and he wasn't "versatile" enough to play anywhere else that late. In terms of seasons of real value, Pete Rose has fewer than Sam Crawford. Or Harry Heilmann, if you look them up. There's a difference between playing a lot of ballgames and playing them well, and Rose dodged the factor of getting released by milking a freak show.

Now you all know why I want you guys to bias check this part of my ballot.

Thanks, - Brock
   34. OCF Posted: October 09, 2008 at 06:15 AM (#2975051)
Just the few comments I can see about Brock's ballot:

1. Obviously, we can't count it until you give us 11-20.

2. Crawford is getting plenty of credit for his career length. Most voters have Crawford quite close to where you have him.

3. You're tied with me for the position of Heilmann's best friend - so I wouldn't be the one to criticize you for that. Someone else might slam the both of us.

4. You are the best friend of Kelly so far. Since Kelly confuses me more than any other person on this ballot, I have nothing intelligent or intelligible to say about that.

5. Reggie isn't in your top 10. Why not? I understand that Kaline was a better fielder than Reggie, but I also see a pretty substantial difference in offense going the other way, especially when you take into account the run-poor environment that Reggie played in.
   35. bjhanke Posted: October 09, 2008 at 10:50 AM (#2975080)
Wow, OCF, thanks! That was a lot more positive than I thought it would be. I put up the ten-man prelim because I was worried about 4 things: 1) my opinion of what to do with early career lengths, which few seem to share; 2) my opinion of how to handle errors on defense; 3) my opinion of what does and does not constitute defensive versatility (the last two drive my Kelly ranking); and 4) worry about anti-Rose bias. I've disliked Pete Rose ever since he got the nickname Charlie Hustle. It was driven by his running out walks. I looked at the next few Rose games I got to see, and noticed that he always turned right when he got to first. That is, he always took the safe route, where he could always go back to first, but he never even thought about trying for second. Well, the only BASEBALL reason for running out walks is the two times in your career that the fourth ball might get behind the catcher and let you go to second. Rose never even considered that. He was just going for the cheap crowd please. At least, that's how I see it, and the gambling didn't improve my opinion any. I was worried that I had underrated him because of all the bias. You didn't even mention that, so I guess I'm OK, at least by you. Again, thanks.

Oh, PS - I have Joe Jackson at #11 and Reggie at #12 (short version is that Joe's career OPS+ is 170 and Reggie's is 139 and I don't think career length, even with Joe's decline phase dropping the OPS+ some, can counter that much difference). Joe is the one whom I might move up. I think there's a big gap between Reggie and #13, which is where I start to have real trouble sorting the players out. The high rates are the short careers, and I'm not sure where to draw which lines. Reggie is the last guy I am sure of right now. I see Reggie and Kaline as close in offense, after adjusting for the Oakland ballpark, with Al getting a big defense boost up to #8. - Brock
   36. TomH Posted: October 09, 2008 at 12:40 PM (#2975101)
Brock, many thanks for your explanations. I will no way make as much time to explain my ballot.

I will say that I have Reggie Jackson 5th or 6th. The man earned 444 win shares. 132 WARP1. If you're more into basic measurements, he hit 563 home runs in lousy hitting ballparks, and and stole over 200 bases. If he was born 25 years later and played in Citizen's Bank Park, he would hit about .290 and crush somewhere around 800 home runs. Peak? He led the league in OPS+ 3 of 4 years (73-76); that's pretty good. He played an avg RF (good in his prime), and logged almost 200 games in CF. Oh, and dd OK in the post-season too, helping his teams win 11 of 17 series.

I do not LIKE Reggie Jackson. He was terribly arrogant, and Billy Martin's quote ("born liar") may be accurate if unkind (I like Martin even less). But the man could play ball.
   37. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 09, 2008 at 03:02 PM (#2975149)
as a player, his value is questionable after 1976

You kidding? Rose's '79 was an All-Star caliber season...130 OPS+ over one hundred and sixty three games played.
   38. stax Posted: October 09, 2008 at 05:12 PM (#2975269)
Brock: The one ranking I don't get is how Heilmann winds up in front of Reggie and Clemente. I love King Kelly (he was fun to read about in doing this) and given the time he played clearly had a lot of value forced onto the sidelines because of schedules so that rank seems plausible to me. Even Kaline seems reasonable, I had them quite close as well. But Heilmann?

Reggie: Only slightly lower OPS+ through 700 more games (you can make a bit of a 154-to-162 adjustment, but it doesn't make up 700 games), playing 2 seasons more than Heilmann despite also starting 2 years later. Reggie hit 563 HR in horrific hitters parks compared to 183 for Heilmann. Does Harry have some pre-1920 years that hamper him? Sure, but post-1920 he showed himself to be a roughly 20-a-year guy, maybe a bit higher with a 162 game schedule. Reggie, on the other hand, only hit below 20 HR twice up to his age 37 season (15 in 81, 14 in 83) at which point Harry had retired, then Reggie went on and added on 25, 27, 18, and 15 to close his own career out. Jackson has 3 year peak and 7 year prime WS leads, career WS and WARP leads and ones big enough that Heilmann only holds a narrow WS/162 games lead.

Clemente: Still a WS and WARP lead, roughly equivalent peak and prime to Heilmann, and the greatest glove at the position.
   39. Al Peterson Posted: October 09, 2008 at 07:23 PM (#2975406)
HOM RF ballot. Can’t believe I’ve got a pitcher at the top slot…Methodology in brief: The system used for my ranking entails a little bit of everything including WS, WARP, OPS+/ERA+, positional adjustments, edits for minor league, war, NeL credit, even some contemporary opinion. Oh, and Dan R’s salary estimator made me re-examine folks as well. So once that info is assembled I try and make other changes to metrics when deemed fit, weighting the various measures. My hope by including all this material is to get the most complete picture, a worthy player from all angles. The results of this work tend to favor prime/peak players over career types but that is not 100% tried and true.

1. Babe Ruth – HR king who had 13 OPS+ and 1 ERA+ crowns.

2. Hank Aaron – HR king, part II. Smoooooth looking player who really could do it all so well.

3. Mel Ott – 511 HRs when it meant something.

4. Frank Robinson – MVP in both leagues who showed leadership on and off the field.

5. Paul Waner – Big Poison who really wasn’t any bigger than a singles hitter nowadays.

6. Pete Rose – That versatility might have been thrust upon him but he did it with value added to his team. Not going to win any personality contests but we don’t vote on that.

7. Roberto Clemente – You can’t have one…

8. Al Kaline – without the other. Both had gloves to die for and would wield the lumber pretty well.

9. Sam Crawford – If you told me he had less than 100 HRs in his career I wouldn’t have believed it. But those 309 triples, such was the way of the deadball era.

10. Reggie Jackson - .357/.457/.755 in World Series action. Seems like Mr. October fit as a nickname.

11. King Kelly – Toughest to place but he appears about here.

12. Joe Jackson – No penalties for his game-throwing ways. He was a monster hitter, right there with Cobb.

13. Elmer Flick – Another short career slugger, decent speed as well.

14. Willie Keeler – Nod to longevity but some years his lack of extra base power is impressive.

15. Tony Gwynn – Rough when an 8-time batting champ is this low. His late career physique makes it hard to envision point guard.

16. Enos Slaughter – War credit all around. Missed possibly his best years.

17. Harry Heilmann – Masher but the glove was not good.

18. Dwight Evans – Sabermetric dream

19. Dave Winfield – Seagull nightmare

20. Sam Thompson - Was a big fan at the time of his election but we were in a drought of candidates. Had a nice World Series in 1887.
   40. bjhanke Posted: October 09, 2008 at 08:43 PM (#2975466)
Dan R says, "You kidding? Rose's '79 was an All-Star caliber season...130 OPS+ over one hundred and sixty three games played." 1979 is certainly Rose's best season after 1976. Win Shares agrees with you about the value. If anything, Bill likes the season even more than you do (27 WS). But Pete Palmer doesn't; I don't know why. If I had to guess, I'd guess that Pete P. is comparing Pete R. to the league's first basemen for ranking. I think that's what he does, and 79 is when Pete moves from third to first, as well as from Cincy to Philly. I basically averaged the two opinions. Bill also thinks that a couple of the seasons right around then have more value than Pete has them down for, although they're not great seasons even to Bill. I used 1976 not because I think that 79 specifically is a poor season. I used it because it's when the run of years that has questionable value begins. I didn't mean to say that no season after 1976 has anything to offer. I meant to say that the group of them is of questionable value, and 1979 is isolated. If I could figure out why Bill and Pete disagree, I might make a different decision about the group. But I don't know, so I averaged them, and the average is questionable - for the group, not for 1979 alone. BTW, comparing Rose to other first basemen in 1979 is, in my opinion, pretty fair. Two of them are Stargell and Hernandez, although Stargell's year could be better. Steve Garvey hit .315 with 28 homers that year, in 162 games. In Dodger Stadium. Rose hit .331, but with 4 taters. Rose's OBP is, of course, higher because Garvey didn't take many walks. If you lack power, first base is a tough peer group.

As for Heilmann, I imagine that the main reason I have him ranked high is that I make era adjustments to playing time. In raw time, Heilmann has less than Reggie and about the same as Clemente. But I add to Heilmann's career because of the fact that right fielders of his time just don't play as many games, or seasons, as later ones do. Remember that Win Shares makes no adjustment for this, so of course Reggie's career WS are higher than Heilmann's. I make Reggie take a discount, or pad Heilmann's totals. In the end, I give Reggie about one season more than Harry. If someone argued for 2, I'd probably concede, but I think 1 is about right, really.

Heilmann has an OPS+ of 148 for his career. Reggie has 139 and Clemente 130. These are not slight differences to me. Harry's peak, from 1921-25, is also higher than any run Reggie or Roberto can claim. If Reggie had had Roberto's glove, I would rank him higher, but he didn't. Win Shares, for example, has Harry down for a well-deserved D, which is awful. But Reggie gets a C-, which is lousy in its own right. Remember that Reggie got to play 630 games at DH, which would have been Harry's natural-born position. I think Bill has Clemente undervalued at a B- ranking, but I'm unwilling to go more than B+. I remember Roberto well from my youth. He had the greatest arm I've ever seen on an outfielder. But range - that's a different question, and a more important one. He did not have great range. He wasn't Paul Waner, a center fielder in disguise. He was a fine right fielder, with good range and an incredible arm. But it's not great range, even for a RF, and there's 18 OPS+ points of difference on offense, and, sadly, Clemente can't even claim a decline phase.

I will admit that I am surprized that the most complaint I have had is about Reggie Jackson. I like Reggie (he's fun!), so I know there's no bias. I'll go reevaluate him, but the bad glove does hurt.
   41. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 09, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2975496)
The presence of Garvey or Stargell in the '79 NL has absolutely zero consequence for Rose's value. Neither Garvey or Stargell were anything remotely resembling freely available. What determines Rose's value is the replacement level for 1B at that point in time, which was actually at one of its lowest points of the postwar era--remember, that was the height of the artificial turf period, when a premium was placed on infield D. If you compare to positional average, then you wind up thinking that Hank Greenberg or Cap Anson were just kind of OK first basemen during their primes, which is patently ridiculous. Sometimes you get star gluts at a position; sometimes you get droughts. They are meaningless.

Ya know, if you're torn btween Palmer's and James's numbers, you might as well just use mine...:)

By the way, Sean Smith has just been kind enough to send me his outfield arm runs. Here are leaders and trailers for the Retrosheet era--not many surprises. Remember for guys who straddle the line that this is only post-'56.


1. Roberto Clemente, +85.3
2. Jesse Barfield, +67.8
3. Al Kaline, +61.6
4. Raúl Mondesi, +60.1
5. Andruw Jones, +59.9 (on top of the dang)
6. Larry Walker, +55.8
7. Dwight Evans, +55.1
8. Carl Yastrzemski, +54.1 (not sure if these are park-adjusted)
9. Ken Griffey, Jr., +51
10. Willie Mays, +50.3
11. Jim Edmonds, +49.9
12. Andy Van Slyke, +47.9
13. Johnny Callison, +38.4
14. Ellis Valentine, +37.5
15. Barry Bonds, +36.6
16. Paul Blair, +34.9
17. Kenny Lofton, +33.9
18. Bobby Abreu, +33.7
19. Andre Dawson, +33.1
20. Vladimir Guerrero, +31.9
21. Kirby Puckett, +31.9
22. Rocky Colavito, +31.2
23. Ichiro Suzuki, +29.3
24. José Cruz Jr., + 28.9
25. B.J. Surhoff, +28.8
26. Dave Henderson, +28.4
27. Mark Whiten, +28.3
28. Jimmy Piersall, +28.1
29. Alexis Ríos, +26.8
30. Hank Aaron, +26.5
31. Dale Murphy, +26.2
32. Joe Rudi, +25.3
33. Glenn Wilson, +25.2
34. César Geronimo, +25.1
35. Vada Pinson, +25


1. Lou Brock, -46.5
2. Johnny Damon, -45.6
3. Ken Griffey, Sr., -42.9 (wow, the apple sure fell far from the tree)
4. Bernie Williams, -42.6
5. Juan Pierre, -36.1
6. Jeff Burroughs, -34.7
7. Don Baylor, -34.6
8. Jerry Morales, -31.4
9. Frank Howard, -28.1
10. Brady Anderson, -25.9
11. Roy Sievers, -25.2
12. Jim Lemon, -24.7
13. José Cruz Sr., -24.2 (see the Griffeys)
14. Roy White, -24.1
15. Rusty Greer, -23.2
15. Rick Monday, -23.2
17. Otis Nixon, -23.1
18. Cleon Jones, -23
19. Duke Snider, -22.8
20. Luis Polonia, -22.7
20. Brian McRae, -22.7
22. Robin Yount, -22.6 (and in so few seasons...I'm surprised the SS arm didn't transfer out there)
23. Pat Kelly, -22.2
24. Claudell Washington, -21.7
25. Jeroy Burnitz, -21.4
26. George Hendrick, -20.9
27. Ken Singleton, -20.8
28. Dante Bichette, -20.6
29. Tom Goodwin, -20.2
   42. Juan V Posted: October 09, 2008 at 09:31 PM (#2975497)
22. Robin Yount, -22.6 (and in so few seasons...I'm surprised the SS arm didn't transfer out there)

He did have to move because of shoulder problems.... although did someone think of him at 2B? Molitor had already moved by then.
   43. Gonfalon B. Posted: October 09, 2008 at 09:54 PM (#2975509)
...does anyone else remember the Cincy All-Star game voting scandal in 1957? ...The league stepped in, and Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were allowed to replace two of the Reds' outfielders. Frank Robinson was the Reds' outfielder allowed to remain... I'm not sure, but this may have been the very first all-black outfield to start a major league game.

Our friend the internet says it was Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson, in Game One of the 1951 World Series.
   44. DL from MN Posted: October 09, 2008 at 10:02 PM (#2975511)
I wasn't giving Kelly any credit for catching, which is ludicrous. Please accept this revision:

15) Willie Keeler
16) King Kelly
17) Elmer Flick
18) Dave Winfield
19) Sam Thompson
   45. DL from MN Posted: October 09, 2008 at 10:07 PM (#2975512)
> Ken Griffey, Jr., +51

It's depressing to watch people run on his arm now. I hope he retires, it's hard to convince my son he was ever any good.
   46. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 12:45 AM (#2975628)
bjhanke: Jackson and Clemente (though Clemente only narrowly) also lead Heilmann in Player Overall Wins which prorates to deal with schedule length issues. Beyond that, the years where he did admittedly play a large %age of the games (since the years he was unable to play a full schedule he would likely have simply missed more games in a 162 game schedule) he only picks up a few games here or there. Durability is valuable, particularly in letting a guy stay out there an accrue numbers, but I have a hard time seeing it as additional value in it of itself. Heilmann's durability (or Cal Ripken's or anyone elses) was valuable to their team because it let them keep their frontline star out there for X many games rather than some replacement. But that would be measured by the additional value he provided for his team (WARP, WS, POW, whatever).
   47. OCF Posted: October 10, 2008 at 02:13 AM (#2975682)
DL from MN: I have edited my tally of your vote.

Dan: In post #41, what units are those numbers in? Runs, total, over a career? If so, is there any attempt to adjust for the different win value of a run in different scoring environments?
   48. Cblau Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:13 AM (#2975731)
It wasn't Crawford that Cobb had the problem with, it was McIntyre, the left fielder. Supposedly he and Cobb wouldn't talk to each other even to call for fly balls, necessitating putting Crawford between them.
   49. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:27 AM (#2975736)
Stax - You're new, so you have no good way of knowing this, but you've run into an ongoing discussion. Not your fault. When I first got started doing this (right when we were voting for catchers), I ran into several of them, so I know what it's like. The issue, to me, isn't schedule length. It's career length among contemporaries. Research that I did years and years ago convinced me that the number of games that players can play in a career does in fact increase over time, due probably to modern medicine and better field conditions. What I'm saying is that, if you want to compare Heilmann to Jackson or Clemente, you have to adjust for the number of games, seasons, whatever, that right fielders played during Heilmann's time as opposed to Jackson's or Clemente's. You can't just throw Harry in with Reggie and Roberto. If you do that, you'll conclude that almost all the long careers, in terms of games played, occurred in the last 40 years. Everyone in the early 20th century will look like they had a short or medium career. That's why I was running sorts of right fielder playing times run out to 1940, then 1955, then 1960. I wanted to see how long Harry held up as having a long career. It turns out that it's long up through 1960. Relative to his actual peers, it's close to as long as Reggie's and longer than Roberto's. In raw numbers, this is not true, but I make adjustments beyond the schedule length. Worse, they're not strict numerical adjustments, because those drove me nuts when I tried them. I use the sorts because they give me the info I want. If you want to see the discussion in full detail go over to the third base threads and look for my posts about Jimmy Collins and Home Run Baker. But someone who just adjusts for schedule length isn't doing enough for me to use his system.
   50. Brent Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:32 AM (#2975741)
Right field ballot:

1. Babe Ruth
2. Hank Aaron – These two were easy.

3. Frank Robinson
4. Mel Ott - I regard these two players as very close. The edge went to the one who played in integrated leagues.

5. Pete Rose - In 8 seasons as a 2B/3B (1963-66, 75-78), he averaged 157 games a season with an OPS+ of 117. In another 11 prime seasons at RF/LF/1B (1967-74, 79-81), he averaged 158 games a season with an OPS+ of 129. Closer to # 4 than to # 6.

6. Paul Waner - Includes two seasons of PCL credit.

7. Reggie Jackson – Among 1970s position players, only three Reds (Morgan, Rose, and Bench) rank higher.

8. Sam Crawford – Long career, hit for average and power, but didn't draw a lot of walks.

9. King Kelly – By far the most difficult placement. It's hard to know how to evaluate his defense while playing "right field," but his play as catcher is what convinced me to place him this high. In addition to 3 seasons as the regular catcher, he was his team's primary backup catcher for 10 seasons. In the 1880s, catcher was the one position for which teams absolutely had to carry a backup. Having a backup catcher who was an outstanding hitter and could play other positions was extraordinarily valuable.

10. Tony Gwynn
11. Roberto Clemente
12. Joe Jackson
13. Al Kaline
14. Elmer Flick – These five are all easy HoMers; Jackson and Flick are hurt by short careers.

15. Enos Slaughter
16. Willie Keeler
17. Dave Winfield – These three are more marginal HoMers who made it in by playing well for a long time.

18. Harry Heilmann – I'm not a fan – to me he looks similar to and just a little better than Frank Howard.

19. Dwight Evans – Barely made it over my PHoM line.

20. Sam Thompson – Among 1890s outfielders, I preferred Duffy and Van Haltren, though I'm starting to warm up to Thompson's case.
   51. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:46 AM (#2975748)
Dan - First, that's a real good list of arms there. Thanks for posting it. Sifting through my memories, the first guy among the good arms who I have doubts about is Barry followed by Kenny Lofton. Other than that, it really is a list of big-rep arms, down to at least #20, as I remember the reps. In the weak arms, I would argue that Howard and Cruz Sr. had good arm reps. Sievers, Hendrick and Singleton didn't have bad ones, if I recall right. The other guys clearly did not throw well. Do you know how he did it? Assist totals are, as Bill James mentions repeatedly, often the effect of a fast runner with a weak arm. Because the arm is weak, everyone runs on the guy, and he gets to the occasional ball that runners don't think he'll get to. But this list seems to have bypassed that problem. Did the guy check for first-to-third rates or something? I'd like to know. It's a real good list.

I also feel a bit foolish for not asking you for your rankings of these Rose seasons. There are days when I think Pete Palmer is just being stubborn about his methods. Then there are days when I think that Pete Rose (for example) couldn't play anywhere but first base at the time, so his peer group is not all players, but all first basemen. I've read Palmer's defense of his method, and it isn't stupid, although it hasn't carried the sabermetric community. So, if you'd be so kind, what do you have for Rose's seasons from 1976 through 1981? I will certainly take them into account before posting my final ballot. Anything to help me overcome my Pete Rose bias.

Thanks, - Brock
   52. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:51 AM (#2975752)
Gonfanon - Thanks. I didn't try to check the all-black outfield thing because I don't know everyone by race. I would have missed 1951, series or not, because I wouldn't have remembered Hank Thompson as being black. BTW, can you give me the url for the source? There's a bit of research that I'd like to do if I had a race for every player. I just don't pay that much attention to that, and I don't know of any source for the info. Thanks. - Brock
   53. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:57 AM (#2975754)
Cblau - Thanks to you, too. I had the myth wrong, and have had it wrong for years. The one I got was that Cobb ran McIntyre off the center field job and Crawford was McIntyre's friend, so.... That's wrong. The Tiger center fielder in 1905 was Dick Cooley, whoever he was. McIntyre was, indeed, the left fielder. I'd never checked that out, because I've "known" the myth for so long that I just assumed I had it right. My bad, or the bad of whoever told me the myth decades ago. - Brock
   54. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 04:25 AM (#2975763)
bj: But I still don't understand this. How does in-season durability provide value other than that it allows you to play more games? Even if you say Heilmann would play 162/162 games (which I think would be crazy) that doesn't cut down Jackson's lead (at least).
   55. Juan V Posted: October 10, 2008 at 04:36 AM (#2975767)
So, I'm having so much fun rebuilding my pitching system that I had forgotten to post my vote. Like most, I have some more or less clearly defined tiers, which I'll share.

Tier 1

1-Babe Ruth Insert witty comment here.

Tier 2

2-Hank Aaron His peak lasted 20 years.

Tier 3

3-Mel Ott

4-Frank Robinson Very close, but the little things break it in Ott's favor.

Tier 4

5-Paul Waner Lots of durability, lots of defense and MLE credit make up for the pedestrian (for this crowd) OPS+

6-Sam Crawford Plenty of power (or, what passed for power during the deadball era). My mental image of him included more baserunning value that what he seems to have.

7-Al Kaline Clemente seems to be the comp, but he has 4 points of OPS+ and two season's worth of PAs on him.

8-King Kelly A tough one to place. Given his catching time, I think this is a good place for him.

9-Joe Jackson Has a case for second best peak in the ballot (by my measure of peak, he is slightly below Aaron and Ott, and miles behind the Babe). As we all know, career is lacking.

Tier 5

10-Pete Rose Multipositional value puts him at the top of this group. Note that most of his positive FWAA come from his time at the less demanding positions, though.

11-Roberto Clemente

12-Tony Gwynn Clemente has a defense edge, Gwynn has a baserunning edge, but they might as well be identical twins (or so my spreadsheet says).

13-Reggie Jackson

14-Harry Heilmann Purer bats than the few guys above them, just a little more emphasis on OPS+ might push them ahead.

15-Elmer Flick Short career. He has, arguably, the best peak of Tier 5, but definitely lower than the Tier 4 average.

Tier 6

16-Dwight Evans Least orthodox value for a rightfielder in this ballot, after Kelly and Rose. Not much on peak (for this crowd), but pretty consistently good.

17-Sam Thompson

18-Wee Willie Keeler

19-Dave Winfield Lowest peak in the group

20-Enos Slaughter Adjusting his FWAA to make him average for his career as discussed drops him to the bottom.

I haven't rebuilt my PHoM and I only have a guess as to where the line would lay, but I think all 20 would be in it. Slaughter has a comfortable lead over my top backlog rightfielder (Reggie Smith).
   56. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 08:19 AM (#2975820)
Stax - I'm apparently not explaining this clearly, for which I apologize. Here's a really dumbed-down example, to get extraneous stuff out of the way, not because I think you need it "dumb" or anything, but just to get the distractions out of the way. I repeat: this is NOT what I actually do. It's just a simplified example. For a much more thorough explanation, go to the Hall of Merit Third Base ballot thread, find my ballot, and look up Jimmy Collins, Home Run Baker, and Ezra Sutton.

Consider Harry Heilmann's career. It spans from 1914 through 1932, with 1915 and 1931 missing. That gives Harry 17 seasons played. Let's take the range 1914-1932, and add five years on to each end, to get anyone who really is Heilmann's contemporary. That gives us a time period of 1909-1937. There's a web site called Baseball Reference, which I strongly support, that allows us to do various sorts. Let's do this one: we'll look for guys who played at least 50% of their career in right field, in the range 1909-1937. That ought to get anyone who is Heilmann's contemporary. Then we'll sort those guys by games played. Here are the top three results:

Sam Rice 2404 games
Harry Hooper 2309
Harry Heilmann 2148

Heilmann is third in this list.

Now let's do the equivalent for Reggie Jackson. His career is 1967-1987. Adding five years to each end, we get 1962-1992. We run the same sort, but for this time period. Here are the results:

Rusty Staub 2951 games
Reggie 2820
Dave Winfield 2705

As you can see, all three of the later group have many more games played than even Sam Rice, who is #1 in the early group. Now, the period 1962-1992 has 162-game schedules, while the earlier period has 154. So lets multiply the first group by 162/154, to even out the schedules (this is called Full Season Equivalencies here, or FSEs). Here are the results:

Rice 2529
Hooper 2429
Heilmann 2260

As you can see, the #3 guy on the later list, Winfield, STILL has about 450 more games played than the #1 guy on the early list (Rice). So adjusting for the extra schedule games is NOT enough to even things out.

To make the needed further adjustments, what I do is look at where the players show up on the lists. Harry Heilmann is third on the early list. Dave Winfield is third on the later list. So I credit Heilmann with Winfield's 2705 games played, for purposes of comparing him to Reggie Jackson. To compare Heilmann to a different player, I would run the sort for that player's time period. This is just for Heilmann vs. Reggie.

Reggie has 2820 games played, which is 115 games more than Winfield. So I credit Jackson with one season more than Heilmann, but no more, because I'm treating Heilmann as if he had Winfield's career length.

Does that explain it? What happens, if you work through the research, is that the number of games that players can play goes up throughout baseball history. Even after the schedules stabilize at 154 games, an adjustment to 162 games is not enough to compare earlier players to later ones. You have to look at the players' relative standings on their respective lists.

That's why I have Heilmann ranked so highly. I am, essentially, giving him credit for 20 seasons played when I compare him to Jackson's 21. That's one year in Reggie's favor, but no more. Again, if I were comparing Heilmann to a different player, I would run that player's list and figure out where he stood. This is just for purposes of comparing to Reggie. Heilmann has a career OPS+ of 148, while Reggie's is 139. That's a much bigger difference than one season of play. Reggie has a better glove, but not much better. It's still not enough, in my opinion, to rank him over Harry. But the key is that Reggie is #2 on his list, while Harry is #3 on his, so I don't give Reggie hundreds of games of career length over Harry. I give him only the 115.

I hope this helps. You seem to really want to understand, so I'm doing the best I can to help. I hope this simplistic example didn't come across as condescending. That wasn't what I was trying to do. I was just trying to simplify the example enough to focus on what, exactly, it is that I do.

Thanks for the interest, and for being willing to spend some time working this out! - Brock
   57. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 10, 2008 at 10:24 AM (#2975827)
OCF: Raw runs, with no adjustment for changing run environments.

bjhanke--Yes, it includes both baserunner kills and hold rates. My WARP spreadsheet is available on the Hall of Merit Yahoo group--just go to, search for Hall of Merit, sign up for the group, go to Files, and download.
   58. Gonfalon B. Posted: October 10, 2008 at 10:44 AM (#2975830)
Gonfanon - Thanks. I didn't try to check the all-black outfield thing because I don't know everyone by race. I would have missed 1951, series or not, because I wouldn't have remembered Hank Thompson as being black. BTW, can you give me the url for the source? There's a bit of research that I'd like to do if I had a race for every player. I just don't pay that much attention to that, and I don't know of any source for the info. Thanks. - Brock

I just typed "first black outfield" into Google and there were multiple matches. Assuming it to be true, it only happened because regular outfielder Don Mueller broke his ankle immediately before Bobby Thomson's famous home run, and was unavailable for the Series. Game One was Hank Thompson's first appearance in the outfield in 1951.
   59. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 02:13 PM (#2975880)
You didn't come across as condescending (though I am well aware of b-ref, didn't need that mentioned, heh). My worry is with this though:

So I credit Heilmann with Winfield's 2705 games played, for purposes of comparing him to Reggie Jackson. To compare Heilmann to a different player, I would run the sort for that player's time period. This is just for Heilmann vs. Reggie.

He didn't play those games. He didn't. I understand we adapt for things like war credit where a player missed games due to forces outside their control, and you could argue the same thing for playing a 154 (or even shorter before that) schedule as I did with King Kelly on my ballot. But when you go from recognizing the value came at a different rate in that era to actually actively giving credit by scaling up seasons to modern levels, aren't you just timelining in the opposite direction? Won't basically every deadballer become insanely valuable because the most valuable player in a 60 game schedule (for example) scaled up to 162 games a season will become just unreachably good?

It seems to me that if you are truly going to abide by the rule (although in looking at the Constitution I don't see the bit against timelining) then the methodology for voting should be value provided and skill displayed within your period of play. The moment you start translating, for example, Ty Cobb into a modern player and a modern length season with modern competition and modern rules and all that there are so many biasing factors that things like MLEs become less valuable (everyone accepts MLEs are less accurate for single-A players than AAA, yet it seems harder to convince people the same inaccuracies will arise the farther back in time you go).

What modern major leaguers can stand up to the likes of even a pretty good deadballer (other than the Hank Aarons and Willie Mays') if we're simply going to plop that deadballer into a modern length schedule and assume they would produce at the same rate? Harry Heilmann would not put up his raw career OPS+ in Reggie Jackson's time, so making a direct comparison of the two comes off as rather silly. Ty Cobb batted .366/.433/.512 for his career with an OPS+ of 167. 2008 AL league average OPS was .757 but does anyone really think Cobb would consistently put up a 1.264 OPS in the modern game (that OPS+ applied to today's league OPS)?
   60. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 10, 2008 at 02:21 PM (#2975882)
Stax, that's not how OPS+ is calculated - it's (OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1)*100. Cobb's 167 OPS+ would translate to a 1.016 OPS - still awesome, but not quite Bondsian.
   61. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 10, 2008 at 02:44 PM (#2975898)
stax, I certainly don't adjust games played for most position players beyond a schedule length correction, but if you make no such adjustment for catchers (particularly deadball and 19C catchers), probably the only two MLB C in your HoM would be Bench and Berra.
   62. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 02:49 PM (#2975900)
Eric: Whoops, I'm dumb.

Dan R: True enough, but Heilmann does not fall into that category.
   63. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:49 PM (#2975943)
Stax - NOW we're getting somewhere. You understand the fundamentals of what I do. Remember what I wrote about my example being exceedingly simplistic? That's because, mostly, when you get back to the 19th century, all heck breaks loose. If you FSE very early guys, you do, indeed, come up with career lengths that are so long that no modern player can compete. If you read my third base comments, particularly on Ezra Sutton, you'll get an idea of how I deal with that. Or read the section in my ballot here, the King Kelly comment, where I talk about FSE "fluff." That's the downgrade you have to apply to a 19th century guy to get past the FSEs. So yes, you would be right if my method didn't get past the level of the example, but it does. I make adjustments for very early players' FSEs. War seasons and work stoppages don't help any. That's why I ran Heilmann out to 1940 and then all the way to 1955. I was trying to avoid corruption from the war years by skipping them over as a breakpoint.

Oh, BTW, this group does not use the "he didn't actually play those games" argument. We've dealt with players from as far back as the late 1950s by doing projections and equivalencies. And that's not counting the Negro Leaguers, of whom there are several, just not at this position (see center field). Well, "we" is too personal a term. There are people in this group who do that, and I take their word for it. When you see the name Paul Wendt on a post here, you're about to get a history lesson of that sort, usually. Paul is really good at the old history. So are some of the others, but Paul seems to specialize in them. Listen to Paul. Listen to Dan R. Listen to Chris Cobb's Negro League MLEs. Listen to several others, whom I am not going to list for fear of forgetting someone. All I'm trying to do is get people to listen to me, too, and check the results out. I really do think I'm on to something.

What I've been trying to do since third base is convince people like Dan R (post 61) that we SHOULD be making adjustments beyond schedule length for ALL positions, not only catcher. My contention, based on long-ago research, is that you have to do that, or you end up overrating all the modern guys. It's not as bad at other spots as it is at catcher, but the effect is still there, I am completely certain. I think the effect is caused by poor early playing fields and weak medicine, compared to today, but I am certain that the effect exists, whatever the cause.

Oh, one more thing. I have been using OPS+ not because it is a wonder stat (I don't actually like it), but because it is the only easily-available stat that adjusts for ballpark. I'd be much happier with a ballpark-adjusted RC/G, but there's no encyclopedia that carries it, as far as I know. I'd also like ballpark adjustments separately for lefty and righty hitters, and I'd like them broken down by individual stat. But the data collection enterprizes of today don't have all that stuff. I haven't done the work myself, so I can't complain too much, but I'd sure like to have it. If you want to apply a corrective to the various OPS+ numbers I gave, there are people here who work out standard deviations for each season. Perhaps they can add a correction as to how hard it was for Harry Heilmann to put up a 148 as opposed to Reggie Jackson putting up 139. I didn't ask for that because I thought the differences were reasonable between the players here.

But now that you've got the fundamentals, what I really want to do is send you to the third base ballot thread. I go into a lot more detail there about the adjustments you have to make to use my methods.

Thanks so much for having the patience to work through all this with me. - Brock
   64. TomH Posted: October 10, 2008 at 03:59 PM (#2975952)
here we go. Career-oriented ballot. Lotsa comments buried in dozens of threads. If a pick needs defending, let me know.

1 babe
2 aaron
...... closer to #1 than most other people have it, but still not that close
3 ott, the boy wonder
4 f robby
...... I was sure I was gonna have Robinson 3rd, but the ##s don't quite agree. In my overall rankings, Ott comes out 28, and Frank 29.
5 rose
6 reggie
...... the two above are the two of the most overrated and underrated players, simultaneously, in MLB history
7 big poison
...... I laugh at the batting avg bias of the early days; story goes that the Pirates fans were betting the Yankee fans that the Waner brothers would "outhit" Gehrig and Ruth in the 27 Series. Well, they won the bet, but you can see why teams shall not live by batting average alone, but on every base that proceedeth from their offense.
8 clemente
9 kaline
10 gwynn
11 crawford
12 kelly
.... a challenge to rate!
13 winfield
.... what a sweet #13 ranking. Good group of RFers here, eh?
14 Elmer Flick
15 Harry Heilmann
16 Joe Jackson
..... I discount his 1919 value some.
17 Sam Thompson
18 Willie Keeler
19 Dwight Evans
20 Enos Slaughter
   65. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 10, 2008 at 04:37 PM (#2975976)
bjhanke, if you just want a superior offensive rate stat to OPS+, use my BWAA (either the raw or the standard deviation-adjusted version) and divide it by SFrac. (The relationship between BWAA1/SFrac and OPS+ is BWAA1*11.43/SFrac + 90.8 for non-DH leagues). It includes just about everything under the sun (double plays net of opportunities, sac flies, changing relative value of OBP to SLG in different run environments, etc.). Unfortunately I can't help you with component park factors.

I currently apply a standard deviation adjustment to TOTAL wins above average (batting + baserunning + fielding), but that muddies the waters as far as you're concerned, since you're just asking about a straight OPS+ comparison. I do keep a hitting-only stdev reference table, though, which I can apply here. Using the 2005 major league stdev, Jackson's "fair" OPS+ (adjusting for all those factors mentioned above etc.) would be 137, and Heilmann's 140. So yes, the stdev factor is pretty substantial there. The 1920's AL was very easy to dominate.
   66. Howie Menckel Posted: October 10, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#2976017)
Our all-time Right Fielder HOMer ballot, 8th in a series of 8 hitting ballots

1. BABE RUTH - His 13 1st-place OPS and OPS+ finishes in a 14-year stretch (1918-31) has to make him worthy of consideration, no? Or traditionalists may prefer to focus on the 12 HR titles. Bonus for his pitching, too.
2. HANK AARON - Incredibly, top 10 OPS every year from 1955-73, with 15 of those being top 5 finishes. Also top 10 in HRs 18 times and was top 5 in 14 of those tries. Top 5 in runs for 12 straight years, 1956-67, and 17 times overall. Also 16 top 10s in RBI, eight top 10s in SBs (all in the 1960s), 14 top 5s in intentional walks, and a 21-time All-Star. Also, .... eh, this is probably enough to convince any holdouts ;)

3. MEL OTT - From 1928-45, never below a 133 OPS+. Incredible. I wonder if some think his stats were inflated by his era; even after adjustments, including the favorable park, he's a monster. What Todd Helton once dreamed of being someday. Also 256 G at 3B, a key in nosing out Robinson.
4. FRANK ROBINSON - Top 10 in OPS 16 times, and top 6 every year from 1959-71. 15 top 10s in Hrs and 13 in RBI. A dozen times top 10 in walks. Was top 7 in steals five times. Underrated stat - top 5 in hit by pitch 16 times, and a 7-time league leader. Surprisingly, only a 12-time All-Star. But that's ok.

5. PAUL WANER - His LOWEST OPS+ in his first 12 seasons was 129, all in years with more than 600 PA! Was only league average for his last 7-8 years, but his place already was assured. Top 10 in OBP 13 times. Ask your friends to name the Yankees who are in the Hall of Fame (or Hall of Merit!), and probably none of 'em will ever think of Waner (1 for 7 in 10 games, 1944-45). Such a good fielder, too. All 5 of these are just amazing careers.

6. ROBERTO CLEMENTE - These next 4 are close. Fairly irrelevant 1955-60. But wow, what a prime for Clemente after that! OPS+s of 170-68-58-51-49-46-45-45-38-35-35-21-15-05 - that's a dozen at 135 or better (a few late-career with 400-500 PAs, but still). The majority of HOMers cannot make that claim, and Clemente adds immeasurably to his case with fielding. Glad to see that on balance, the wondrous player I remember isn't as overrated as I feared. Big fielding needed and received to beat out Jackson.

7. SAM CRAWFORD - Never led league in OPS+ (thanks to impossible competition) but finished top 10 13 times, with 9 OPS+ of 150 or better in the better league. I wish he'd hit better in the World Series and also gotten to 3,000 hits, but geesh, I'm getting awfully greedy. Wonderfully long and consistent career.

8. REGGIE JACKSON - Three OPS+s over 170, with eight over 150 and 13 over 130. Packed peak, prime, AND career into his resume. Slightly hurt by indifferent fielding and DH time. On a killer ballot like this, the little things can mean a lot. Slight postseason bonus, but 'Mr October' is World Series-specific. He hit .357 with 10 HRs in 98 WS ABs, but only .227 with 6 HR in 163 AB in the ALCses.

9. AL KALINE - Had 4 seasons of 150 OPS+ as regular, 8 at 140+, and 12 at 128 or better, and 9 top 10s. Ranks right up there with the great Clemente. But Kaline's durability is an annual issue from 1962 forward (he fails to clear 133 Gs nine times after that), and it barely costs him in a brutal field.

10. TONY GWYNN - Hit .289 as a rookie, then rang up 20 straight .300 seasons (the last 2 as a pinch-hitter). Hit .394 in 1994. Top 10 in OPS+ 7 times. Long-career type of HOM arc, but a higher peak and better prime than that model. Ah, 1997. Hit .372 with 119 RBI (by far a career high at age 37). Just a nice exclamation point on a HOM career.

11. SHOELESS JOE JACKSON - Ah, 'tis romantic to picture a misty time when ballplayers were utterly honest men, with only the Black Sox ruining our idyll. Or to picture a guy hitting .375 in the series having hit .650 if only he tried. Sadly, it really was a messy time with tough, often nasty men both playing and owning teams. There were numerous proven and unproven scandals in the previous 20 years, and Comiskey's cheapness only added fuel to the fire. Jackson gets no sentiment from me for having his career cut short; if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. But he wasn't the central figure in the scandal, either. His prime spanks Flick's:
Jackson OPS+s (only 400+ AB seasons) 193 192 192 172 166 160 155 146 143
Flick's OPS+s (only in 400+ AB seasons) 172 166 159 157 156 155 153 136 136 120

12. HARRY HEILMANN - Harry's 1921-30 decade of hitting is inner-circle type stuff, but arthritic wrists prevented the spectacular ride from lasting just a little longer. We'll need to be careful not to be too dazzled by 1920s and 1930s stats, but when they're like Harry's, we also need to recognize that some of them ARE that spectacular. Not convinced that his defense was way below mediocre.

13. KING KELLY - As noted elsewhere, respect for him among peers is topnotch. Tricky career in so many ways. More than one-third of his valuable was as a topnotch catcher, which means a lot. OPS+ leader at age 21 but never again, but often in the top 10. Very durable, which is hard to tell at a glance when the schedule length keeps changing.

14. PETE ROSE - All-time leader in OS (Out Shares). Probably most overrated player ever. His best OPS+ of 158 matches Reggie's 5th-best, and the fielding can't bridge the gap. Will benefit from misleading Win Share tally, unfortunately. 'Hard to like' doesn't begin to describe it, although if you too got a copy of the "Charlie Hustle" hardcover book as a kid you'd understand why he sprinted to 1st base off each walk drawn. His ridiculous durability, longevity, and chameleonic position changes furiously willed him up to this slot. Truly was a force of nature, if you missed his career. Excellent player for a long time, easy HOMer - but just look at this competition.

15. DAVE WINFIELD - Phenomenal player from 1978-84. But. His prime (best 7 years) looks a lot like Jimmy Wynn's, with a long tail trailing behind him instead of a stump. I also like some of Beckley 120s OPS+s as an early 1B more than Winfield 115-125s as a modern OF, but Winfield's prime is better. Still, never dreamed those would be two comparisons I'd be making, even if Winfield wins them. Was he Enos Slaughter? No, a bit better than that even with war credit. At best, he's Billy Williams - a boring HOMer.

16. ENOS SLAUGHTER - Outstanding player in 1941-42 at age 25-26, and a good one in 1946 and 1948; very good in 1949 and so on. With war credits of roughly 145, 135, 125 OPS+s, he'd gain a slight edge over, say, Jake Beckley in Years 1-9 - but then there's Beckley's endless career as a solid regular and by the greater importance of Beckley's fielding.

17. DWIGHT EVANS - Almost identical hitter to, say, Bob Johnson for best 10 years. But Johnson has those useful 11-13 seasons (127-25-25 OPS+) while Evans finally starts petering out. Splitting hairs there, but Evans had significant defensive value that elevates him a little in this field.

18. ELMER FLICK - See Jackson, Shoeless Joe. Nice prime, but that's all there is and it isn't historic. Belongs in HOF and HOM, granted. But near the bottom. Top 3 in AL OPS+, 1904-07. And then it's virtually over. We think of him, I think, as this frail, oft-ill player who had to retire. Yet he died in 1971 (!) right where he was born, Bedford, Ohio, two days shy of his 95th birthday.

19. WILLIE KEELER - Hit 61 pts higher than the league avg, but OPS was only 47 pts higher. Walk this way? No thanks. Only reached a 150 OPS+ once, in 1897 (2nd in NL, one of only 2 'top 8' appearances). A better bit for HOF than HOM, but he did succeed in the 1890s one-league environment - if not always by an overwhelming amount. First player ever to lead the Highlanders/Yankees in hits, with 160 in 1903.

20. SAM THOMPSON - Nine seasons as a regular, OPS+ top 10s are 1-2-2-5-9-10. I'm not convinced he was a great fielder, but he could have been like Clemente and it wouldn't raise him above a battle for 19th. I never did get this one. Neither do the ghosts of a lot of other OFs of the era.
   67. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 06:05 PM (#2976066)
DanR: Do you have some kind of file or spreadsheet with the equations for some of your models in it? I ask because I'm a member of the Yahoo group but I often see you referring to your WARP, BWAA, and salary calculator systems which I'd love to have access to.

bj: I know the group does things like MLEs for NeLers, that's not what I was referring to. I was more worried about what you explained in the first bit of #63, the idea of getting these unreal career lengths by overestimating the damage schedules did to the value someone could provide.
   68. sunnyday2 Posted: October 10, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2976087)
18. Harry Heilmann – I'm not a fan – to me he looks similar to and just a little better than Frank Howard.

Wow, somehow I missed where Hondo hit .400.
   69. sunnyday2 Posted: October 10, 2008 at 06:24 PM (#2976093)
How to tell that your system for evaluating ballplayers needs some tweaking:

Reggie is 13th.
   70. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 10, 2008 at 06:33 PM (#2976106)
stax: see post #57.
   71. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 06:40 PM (#2976110)
Yeah, that was the list I was using, thanks Dan!
   72. Brent Posted: October 11, 2008 at 04:54 AM (#2977509)
sunnyday2 wrote:

Wow, somehow I missed where Hondo hit .400.

I was careless in my wording. Other than the fact that they were both right handers who hit the ball very, very hard, obviously Hondo and Slug weren't similar hitters. Though Howard was a much better hitter than most people remember, with his records obscured by playing in pitchers' parks during the 1960s. In almost any other decade he would have hit .300 several times. Relative to the leagues and parks that Heilmann played in, Howard's .273 lifetime average was equivalent to .310. Howard's .296 relative to 1969 Washington was equivalent to .345 in 1923 Detroit.

What I'd intended to say was that Heilmann and Howard were similar in their basic performance rates--that is in their slugging and on base percentages relative to their leagues and in their fielding. Heilmann was a little better and played longer, but the following differences aren't huge:

OBP+ 116/110
SLG+ 132/132
OPS+ 148/142
EQA1 .318/.316
EQA2 .309/.308
fWS/1000 1.79/1.91
FRAA1 -61/-118
FRAA2 -92/-135

Both were regulars through age 35. Their most significant difference is that Heilmann became a regular at 21, while Howard's rookie season came at 23.

I'm not trying to argue that Howard was Heilmann's equal (I do have HH ahead). But if there's consensus that Howard wasn't one of the top 250 players in baseball history, then I'm having trouble seeing Heilmann as one of the top 150.
   73. andrew siegel Posted: October 11, 2008 at 11:28 PM (#2977883)
1. Ruth--Obviously.
2. Aaron--Him too.
3. Ott--I can see the argument for Robinson, but like Ott's game just enough to prevent the timelining from being the tie-breaker.
4. Robinson--No shame to being 4th in this group.
5. Rose--The next four are very close. The sum of his achievements put him at the top of the group.
6. Waner--Defensive value puts him ahead of the next two.
7. Crawford--Lots of career value.
8. R. Jackson--His peak ranks below only the top 4 and J. Jackson and he had a lot of career value, but somewhat erratic and famously difficult. When it is this close, I'll take the steadiness of the four above him.
9. Kelly--With the catching credit, this is my best guess.
10. J. Jackson--Great peak; after much thought, I'm giving him credit for the post-fix season and partial credit for the fix season. Without them, he'd rank 5 or 6 spots lower; with full credit, he'd be 9th.
11. Kaline--Next few are really close too.
12. Gwynn--Overrated by James and some modern observers but still an easy HoMer.
13. Clemente--Overrated by most but still an easy HoMer.
14. Flick--Similar to Shoeless Joe, though not quite as good.
15. Heilmann--Abysmal defense drops him to bottom quartile of the HoM.
16. Slaughter--Not much to add.
17. Winfield--Surprisingly underwhelming, though still in my PHoM.
18. Keeler--Another in the just barely in club.
19. Dwight Evans--Not PHoM. I'm not overhwlemed by the stats. Peak hurt by fact that defensive and offensive peaks were not simultaneous.
20. Thompson--Not PHoM, not particularly close.
   74. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 11, 2008 at 11:44 PM (#2977893)
Just letting everybody know that the deadline has been extended to next Sunday.
   75. Sean Gilman Posted: October 12, 2008 at 05:53 AM (#2979736)
Right Fielders:

1. Babe Ruth - WARP1 actually seems to barely prefer Honus Wagner, but they’re probably wrong.

2. Hank Aaron - Big career edge on the rest of the field, peak about the same as Ott’s.

3. Mel Ott - Close to Robinson only with a big integration/competition discount, otherwise a clear #3 according to WARP1.

4. Frank Robinson - Solid edges on Rose in career and peak value.

5. Pete Rose - These Top 5 seem pretty clear to me, at least in looking at BP’s numbers. Rose has about the same peak as Waner, with a fair amount more career.

6. Paul Waner - A bit more peak than Crawford, a bit less career.

7. Sam Crawford - A bit less peak than Clemente, a bit more carrer.

8. Roberto Clemente - His peak looks better if you look at consecutive years. Very close to Jackson.

9. Reggie Jackson - WARP1 finds him only slightly worse than Celemente career-wise and in the ways I look at peak.

10. Tony Gwynn - A bit of a bump for what Dan R’s WARP is measuring that BP’s isn’t.

11. King Kelly - Might be the hardest guy to measure of all of these folks, but this feels right to me.

12. Elmer Flick - WARP1 gives him the best peak outside the top 3 of this group.

13. Al Kaline - Great career value, peak relatively unimpressive.

14. Willie Keeler - WARP1 really likes him, I think they’re probably overrating him a bit for some reason.

15. Joe Jackson - Nice peak, but still overrated.

16. Harry Heilmann - More career value than Jackson, but less peak.

17. Enos Slaughter - More career value than Heilmann, but less peak.

18. Dave Winfield - Less career value than Heilmann, about the same peak. Might deserve to rank higher due to 80s competition levels.

19. Sam Thompson - I still like Browning better.

20. Dwights Evans - WARP1 really doesn’t like his peak. I don’t really think they’re wrong.
   76. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 12, 2008 at 03:25 PM (#2979852)
Due to utter craziness at work, I won't be able to get a ballot done before Thursday. My fault, I should have done it last weekend. So don't hold up the announcement on my account.
   77. Babe Adams Posted: October 12, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2979924)
There's a web site called Baseball Reference, which I strongly support, that allows us to do various sorts. Let's do this one: we'll look for guys who played at least 50% of their career in right field, in the range 1909-1937. That ought to get anyone who is Heilmann's contemporary. Then we'll sort those guys by games played.

Lurker here, apologies for disrupting the flow. Where on bb-ref is the starting point for something like this? I've never even been able to locate lists of most games played at each position.
   78. stax Posted: October 12, 2008 at 06:58 PM (#2979935)
   79. sunnyday2 Posted: October 12, 2008 at 07:14 PM (#2979941)
Does everybody remember that Harry Heilmann missed half of 1918 in the military, and that 1919 was also a short season?

He also won 4 batting titles. Yeah, BA is over-rated, but .394, .403, .393, .398? Career OBA .410. Yes it was a high offense era but OPS+ works out to 148 with peaks of 195-79-72-67-61. The real knock on Harry IMO is his every-other-year pattern, which dilutes his peak. And the Tigers did not do well but that's not so much Harry's fault. And his in-season durability appears to be kind of so-so but, again, 2 of those "short seasons" (1918-1919) were short seasons due to WWI. He was injured in 1922. Otherwise 4 150 game seasons and 7 more >140 games.

But mainly, just a reminder that he missed perhaps as many as 90-100 games due to WWI.
   80. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 12, 2008 at 07:50 PM (#2979952)
I like Heilmann plenty--I'll have him above Flick, Keeler, Evans, Winfield, and I don't yet know what I think of Thompson. I also didn't realize he deserved 1918 war credit, although it won't help him very much as it was pre-peak. But yeah, the fielding was definitely quite bad (DRA has him at -98 just for 1917, 1921, and 1923-28, although there are stdev issues there), and the 20's AL was *really* easy to dominate. Leave Ruth, Gehrig, Speaker, Cobb, and Collins out of it, since you can't judge an era by its inner-circle Hall players. But you still had guys like Sisler, Simmons, Ken Williams, Goose Goslin, Tony Lazzeri, Heinie Manush, Sewell etc. posting outstanding RCAP scores throughout the decade. (Compare that to, say, the mid-teens, when after the inner-circle guys you were getting down into Amos Strunk territory pretty quickly). A 148 OPS+ just didn't buy as many pennants in those days as it did in, say, the 1980's: adjusting for standard deviations, Heilmann's career OPS+ "should" be just two points higher than Reggie Jackson's, not 9. Slug was a great player and an easy HoM'er, but don't let the shiny OPS+ scores dupe you into thinking he was more than he was.
   81. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 12, 2008 at 11:07 PM (#2979996)
Here is my rightfielders list:

1) Babe Ruth - A force of nature.
2) Hank Aaron - Clear number two.
3) Mel Ott - Numbers bear him out at third.
4) Frank Robinson - Tough field when he places fourth.
5) Paul Waner - PCL credit edges him ahead of Crawford.
6) Sam Crawford - Career length stood out for his time. Quality.
7) Roberto Clemente - Ahead of Kaline on consecutiveness of peak and league quality.
8) Reggie Jackson - Loses points for trying to kill the queen (thank you Enrico Pallazo).
9) King Kelly - Slide Kelly Slide into the top ten (catcher credit included).
10) Al Kaline - He kept producing and producing and producing...
11) Pete Rose - Begrudgingly.
12) Tony Gwynn - Similar to Keeler but better.
13) Willie Keeler - Gwynn 100 years before and with less (doughnut) filling
14) Harry Heilmann - Love the bat and the mayo (though I don't eat as much now).
15) Elmer Flick - Ahead of Slaughter based on fieding reevaluation of Slaughter.
16) Enos Slaughter - Includes war credit.
17) Joe Jackson - Say it ain't so.
18) Sam Thompson - Like him more than most but this is a tough field.
19) Dave Winfield - Agree with others that his career looks more underwhelming than I remembered.
20) Dwight Evans - Didn't vote for him.
   82. OCF Posted: October 13, 2008 at 12:18 AM (#2980029)
Just letting everybody know that the deadline has been extended to next Sunday.

Then our next act should not be to rank the pitchers. The next thing on our agenda should be the regular 2009 HoM election. (Rickey Henderson and two backloggers - and things will get tougher for backloggers in a few years.)

We're up to 18 votes on this thread.
   83. bjhanke Posted: October 13, 2008 at 03:03 PM (#2980435)
Mr. Rothstein, sir, asks, "Lurker here, apologies for disrupting the flow. Where on bb-ref is the starting point for something like this? I've never even been able to locate lists of most games played at each position."

That's not what I'm doing (I'm the one who posted the quote you responded to). All I'm doing is getting the career games played, regardless of position, by players who played more than 50% of their careers at, say, right field. You can do this easily in the Play Index (PI) area of BB-ref. Go to Batting Seasons, fill out the screen there and you'll get what I'm getting. Make sure you click the Careers button instead of leaving it on seasons, or you'll get individual seasons. The reason I'm doing what I'm doing is that the rules here are that everything counts, regardless of position. That is, King Kelly, who played mostly right field but a lot of catcher, gets credit for all his catcher time, and also time at any other spot than right field.

I don't know of any EASY way to do this sort returning JUST the games played at the position. If that's what you want, I suggest running my list and then taking the top 20 or so and look them up for just how many games they played at a particular spot. Takes more time, and is nor really relevant to most HoM discussion,s but should be possible with few mistakes in no more than an hour.

Thanks for asking, - Brock

Oh, yeah. On Heilmann. Don Malcolm came through town yesterday, and we spent a couple of hours obsessing over Heilmann vs. Reggie. No matter what we tried, they ended up almost equal. But we never tried anything (too hard) that involved taking Reggie's years as a DH into account, nor did we think to add war credit to Harry. I'm going to end up ranking them Heilmann/Reggie, with no one in between. They really do seem to be that close, when I take everything into account that I can think of. The main result of the obsession is that I realized that I had badly underrated Joe Jackson. I'm probably going to end up with him ahead of either Harry or Reggie. There's just no arguing with an career OPS+ of 170 over what I consider to be 14 seasons (same war credit as Heilmann). And, as Dan just said, a lot of Joe's career was in a league that was hard to dominate, in the 'teens.
   84. Paul Wendt Posted: October 13, 2008 at 08:27 PM (#2980643)
Brock #83,
Do you consider Joe Jackson a 14-season player? Do you mean fullish seasons including several years of play after 1920?

66. Howie Menckel Posted: October 10, 2008 at 01:22 PM (#2976017)
Our all-time Right Fielder HOMer ballot, 8th in a series of 8 hitting ballots

hey, 8 fielder ballots

53. bjhanke Posted: October 09, 2008 at 11:57 PM (#2975754)
Cblau - Thanks to you, too. I had the myth wrong, and have had it wrong for years. The one I got was that Cobb ran McIntyre off the center field job and Crawford was McIntyre's friend, so.... That's wrong. The Tiger center fielder in 1905 was Dick Cooley, whoever he was. McIntyre was, indeed, the left fielder. I'd never checked that out, because I've "known" the myth for so long that I just assumed I had it right. My bad, or the bad of whoever told me the myth decades ago. - Brock

Brock, you have the common version re separating Crawford and Cobb and it's the one Bill James repeats in his blurb "Jimmy Barrett", New BJHBA, p767. There Bill James also mistakes Jimmy Barrett for McIntyre, I believe, although I do not have a smoking gun. CF Barrett and RF Crawford were big stars. (Do such players make the purported kind of friend of McIntyre?) At most Cobb in 1905 would have threatened to relegate Barrett to one of the corners

In his autobiography Cobb does attribute his "fight" with C Boss Schmidt to Schmidt's friendship with McIntyre. Barrett barely appears but Ty doesn't hint that Barrett was one of his tormentors as James says. That is to be expected given that Barrett suffered devastating injury in spring 1905, bad enough that he did not participate in 1906 spring training and he was gone before 1907 (in case the roster adjustment to Cobb continued). Dick Cooley was never the CF, only one emergency fix; calling for Cobb in August was another.

54. stax Posted: October 10, 2008 at 12:25 AM (#2975763)
bj: But I still don't understand this. How does in-season durability provide value other than that it allows you to play more games? Even if you say Heilmann would play 162/162 games (which I think would be crazy) that doesn't cut down Jackson's lead (at least).

It isn't strictly a value measure that Brock is seeking here, if I may say so.
There is a lot of scope for judgment in following the constitutional stricture to treat all generations fairly or whatever it says.

In effect re playing time measured in games, Brock amplifies the playing record of Jim O'Rourke by a factor less than pro-rating to 162 games would amplify it or the use of "per 162 games" rates would effectively amplify it. At the same time he amplifies the playing record of Sam Crawford by a factor greater than pro-rating to 162 would do. There is some implied intermediate point, maybe differing in two major leagues, where he would agree with pro-rating to 162. It might be the return to 140 games in 1900. It might be the elimination of AA competition and contraction to 12 major teams in 1892. It might even be 1892 for AA players and the increase to 140 games by the NL in 1888.

75. Sean Gilman Posted: October 12, 2008 at 01:53 AM (#2979736)
14. Willie Keeler - WARP1 really likes him, I think they’re probably overrating him a bit for some reason.

WARP3 likes Keeler more. From WARP1 to WARP3 he does not suffer the big discount that hits contemporary CFs Mike Griffin, GVH, Jimmy Ryan(part CF), Roy Thomas, Fielder Jones. That surprises me because I expect a greater estimate of 1900-1970(?) improvement in replacement-level fielding at RF than at CF. In other words, I expect Keeler to benefit in WARP1, relative to contemporary CFs or modern RFs, from his evaluation in reference to a low-quality pool of fielders. Why, after free substitution was permitted in 1892? Because members of the pitching and catching staffs still played some RF games that a fourth or fifth career OF would play in the future. Rosters were small, or traveling squads were small.
   85. bjhanke Posted: October 14, 2008 at 06:06 AM (#2981360)
Paul asks, "Do you consider Joe Jackson a 14-season player? Do you mean fullish seasons including several years of play after 1920?"

No. I'm not talking about FSEs or any play after 1920, which I consider to be unconstitutional. What I was doing was giving Jackson credit for 13 actual seasons played, plus one more for war credit in 1918/1919. According to my sources, Jackson spent the war at a civilian job in shipbuilding. The whole story appears to be that the family was his mother, an invalid sister, and four brothers. All the brothers went into the army, leaving Joe as the main support for his mother and sister. His mother could not work full time, because she had to take care of the sister, and the brothers didn't make enough as soldiers to send much home. Joe could probably have made more money playing baseball, even for Comiskey, but felt that he had to do something to aid the war effort. So he took a pay cut and sent a large percentage of his pay home, in order to support the war. I consider that to be war credit.

However, that's "was." I made a mistake, and I am really glad you made me look back at Jackson. I had thought that he did not play in 1918 at all. He did, and it's one of the 13 seasons he did play, although it's only a few games. What I now mean to do is give him credit, in terms of games played, for an extra full season's worth of games over what he has, to compensate for the war credit. That is, I now still give him credit for 13 seasons, but one of them (1918) gets a lot more credit for war, and another (1919) gets a little extra credit. Sorry about that. I can imagine you were wondering what I was up to. - Brock
   86. bjhanke Posted: October 14, 2008 at 06:34 AM (#2981364)
Paul (oh, and thanks again for the Cobb myth clearup. I've "known" that myth for far longer than the BJHA, and it's clearly wrong) says, "In effect re playing time measured in games, Brock amplifies the playing record of Jim O'Rourke by a factor less than pro-rating to 162 games would amplify it or the use of "per 162 games" rates would effectively amplify it. At the same time he amplifies the playing record of Sam Crawford by a factor greater than pro-rating to 162 would do. There is some implied intermediate point, maybe differing in two major leagues, where he would agree with pro-rating to 162. It might be the return to 140 games in 1900. It might be the elimination of AA competition and contraction to 12 major teams in 1892. It might even be 1892 for AA players and the increase to 140 games by the NL in 1888."

What I'm doing is actually simpler and far less mathematical. I just figure out time periods that surround a player's career, and find out where he is on the list for the position at hand. For example, as in my post above, if you take a time period surrounding the player's career by five years before and five after, Reggie is second in games played within his period, while Dave Winfield is third within Reggie's period. If you do the same for Heilmann, Harry is third within Harry's period. So I give Harry credit, when comparing him to Reggie, for Winfield's number of games played. I do this because I am absolutely convinced that the number of league games that a major league player can play before his body gives in does in fact have a limit, and the limit has been going up over time due to better playing conditions and better medicine, NOT just longer schedules. I believe that my method automatically adjusts for schedule length difficulties, except for weird periods like WWII and the 19th century. So, I use a standard that essentially goes "third place on the appropriate list is third place." That's why I give Harry credit for Dave's games played when comparing Harry to Reggie. Harry and Winfield are the third place guys on the respective lists. It's that simple, except for the 19th century.

The problem with people like O'Rourke is that the first thing you have to do is FSE everyone, because schedules are increasing so fast that the concept "period of time surrounding a player's career" is useless. All the highest numbers are for the guys who are in the latest part of the period. And, once you FSE them, it's clear that the long careers, after FSE, are way TOO long to be at all reasonable for the time period. So what I do is start with 1871 and run the time period out to long enough that it contains both players and anyone who could be considered at all their contemporary. Then I start comparing lists. I actually don't end up giving Crawford any extra credit at all, because he is first on any list of right field comps anywhere near his time period. He has a long enough career in real games that I don't think his career deserves (much less needs) any help.

Someday, when I get more time and don't have to meet ballot deadlines, I intend to make up charts of adjustment factors. However, the fact that I intend to do this doesn't mean I think it will be easy, or even easy enough that I can finish the job. But in the absence of the charts, what I do is just compare lists and keep in mind that FSEs can easily overrate guys in the 19th.

I can see why no one grasped that, given that I was listing Joe Jackson at 14 years, which makes no sense and which doubtless seemed like it had to be some outgrowth of my system. That was my mistake. Please ignore it.

Does that help? - Brock
   87. bjhanke Posted: October 14, 2008 at 08:12 AM (#2981374)
A cheap confessional, spurred by Paul's catching my Jackson mistake. That kind of mistake, where I have theory (war credit) right, but make a detail mistake (Jackson did play 17 games in 1918, whereas I was assuming that he had not played at all) is exactly the kind of mistake that I make. My dad used to say, "You never make a stupid mistake. You're not stupid. But you do make 'stoopid' mistakes, with a double-o." And he was absolutely right. I've been like that since I was a kid. Minnie Minoso's birthdate. I completely missed it, and only made a reasonable placement because I asked for help, since I was so far off the consensus. When DL from MN had to change his ballot because he had forgotten that King Kelly played a lot of catcher, no one was more sympathetic than me. It's exactly my kind of mistake.

The odd thing is that I can do accounting and proofreading if I concentrate on nothing else. I've run two businesses, kept the books by hand, and they were immaculate. In between tech writing contracts, I'd do freelance proofreading, which work I could always get, because I'm good at it. However, despite spending about 2 man years proofreading medical textbooks, I learned almost nothing about medicine. I had to blank out everything else except the proofreading.

You can see some of these in the BBBAs. I excoriated a Red Sox manager once for not using Roger Clemens in regular rotation without it occurring to me for a minute that Clemens was probably hurt that season. Drives me nuts, and I'm sure it does little for my credibility.

In short, that's why I write these long explanations - so I will get caught in things like this. And I also really really thank everyone here for putting up with this, correcting me when it's obvious something went wrong, and not getting disgusted. Really. Thanks!

- Brock
   88. stax Posted: October 14, 2008 at 05:20 PM (#2981610)
For example, as in my post above, if you take a time period surrounding the player's career by five years before and five after, Reggie is second in games played within his period, while Dave Winfield is third within Reggie's period. If you do the same for Heilmann, Harry is third within Harry's period. So I give Harry credit, when comparing him to Reggie, for Winfield's number of games played.

I still just don't see how that's fair. Ignoring the pretty broad statement without (it seems) any official study to back it up (that being #3 in games played in Harry Heilmann's time is the same as #3 in games played in Winfield's time) there is still this. If the principle is timelining (which is unconstitutional) is that you cannot reevaluate a player in terms of how they would perform in the modern game (oh sure Walter Johnson looks great, but his fastball wouldn't even get Neifi Perez out today) how can you just freely give someone hundreds and hundreds of games through such a reevaluation? Someone in King Kelly's time, who played 59/60 games is not the same as someone who played 161/162. They aren't. Similarly, someone who played 2148 games (Heilmann) is not the same as someone 2973 games (Winfield) simply because of their ordinal rank on the games played list for roughly their period of play.
   89. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 14, 2008 at 07:16 PM (#2981701)
stax, again, while I don't happen to follow bjhanke's methodology involving teens-20s RF, I think his approach is perfectly legitimate and certainly constitutional. Look, I'm sure you'll concede the need to make *some* adjustments to playing time for historical norms. Let's pretend you're a pure peak voter, top three seasons only. If you made no adjustments for playing time, you certainly wouldn't have any pitchers in your HoM post-1920, and quite possibly none post-1893. Clearly, all of the most valuable pitching seasons, in terms of ultimate effect on a team's bottom line, took place before the institution of the mound, topped by Old Hoss Radbourn's 59 wins in 1884. Was Radbourn's season really 2-3 times as great as, say, Gibson's '68 or Gooden's '85? No, it just took place in a different context. Relative to his peers, Radbourn's season was certainly exceptional, but not necessarily more so than the great outliers of subsequent eras.

Moving away from the "blindingly obvious" cases to the "barely debatable" ones, there's an overwhelming consensus in the group that adjustments need to be made for catchers' playing time as well as that of pitchers. In the decades before modern equipment, etc., an absolute iron man catcher would handle a little over half of his team's games. The position was simply too demanding to be played full-time. Without correcting for this, the HoM probably would not have inducted any full-time catchers before Cochrane and Hartnett. Not only borderline selections like Bresnahan, but no-brainers like Ewing as well, were chosen only because the group paid attention to positional-era durability norms.

Now, that's about where I stop, and I think the majority of the group agrees with me there. When we start getting into regular position players, I am not at all sure that it was *impossible* for a right fielder to play a full 20 years before 1930, the way I'm sure it was impossible for a catcher to do so--it's perfectly plausible that they could have, but just didn't happen to. But bjhanke is free to disagree, and all he is doing is using the same approach for RF that we all apply to pitchers, and probably 95% of us apply to catchers.
   90. stax Posted: October 14, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2981767)
Nono, I completely agree you have to look at a player's performance in the context of his peers. But where I take issue is the idea that #3 in Heilmann's time = #3 in Winfield/Reggie's time, which seems quite arbitrary.

Catcher's bonus makes sense because there's work done on it and clear evidence. If you start giving things like RF bonus tho, as I said in #59, you'll end up with nobody in the Hall past 1920 except the Ruths and Mays' of the world, which doesn't seem right.
   91. Cblau Posted: October 15, 2008 at 02:10 AM (#2982345)
According to my sources, Jackson spent the war at a civilian job in shipbuilding.

Actually, he spent the war playing baseball for a shipbuilding company, so he could avoid the draft.
   92. bjhanke Posted: October 15, 2008 at 08:26 AM (#2982643)
Dan says, about my approach to playing time, "all he is doing is using the same approach for RF that we all apply to pitchers, and probably 95% of us apply to catchers." Bingo! I could not have said this better myself if I tried for a month. I understand that Stax disagrees violently with the premise, and that's fine. But Dan has absolutely nailed what I am trying to do.

Stax says, "If you start giving things like RF bonus tho, as I said in #59, you'll end up with nobody in the Hall past 1920 except the Ruths and Mays' of the world, which doesn't seem right." Um. I posted a preliminary top ten above. It has Aaron, Ott, and Frank Robinson as 2, 3, and 4. Al Kaline is 8, and Pete Rose is 10. Pete Rose is going to move down and out as Joe Jackson gets inserted. That will still leave me with 1 guy from the 19th century (Kelly), 1 from the very early 20th (Crawford),1 dead ball guy (Joe Jackson), 2 from the 20s and 30s (Waner and Heilmann), 1 from the 30s and 40s (Ott), 1 from the 50s (Aaron), 2 from the 60s (Robinson and Kaline), and Babe Ruth, who is technically past 1920 as a right fielder. Reggie will be #11, in a virtual tie with Harry. Only 3 out of the 10 are before 1920. That's 30%. Major League baseball from 1871-1920 is 60 years. 1871-2010 is 140 years. 60 is 43% of the 140 total, and It's going to get worse as we actually deal with people who played in the last 30 seasons. I understand the fear, but it simply doesn't happen. If anything, it's the early guys who are getting done in. The only guy who gets into the top ten because of playing time adjustments is Heilmann, and some other voters have him in similar places to my 10th, and most of whose career is after 1920 anyway.

Cblau says, "Actually, he (Joe Jackson) spent the war playing baseball for a shipbuilding company, so he could avoid the draft." That makes sense. If Joe needed to make money to send home to his mother and sister, he should have been playing baseball. I did wonder, when I did the research, why he took the pay cut to becoming an entry-level shipbuilder. WWII draft rules, if I remember my dad right, would not have allowed Joe to be drafted, because he was the only male in the family who was not in the army, and because he was the "sole support" of his mother and sister. In WWI, things were not so advanced. I'm still giving him credit. But thanks for the info. It did clear up a wonder I was having.

- Brock
   93. Tiboreau Posted: October 18, 2008 at 11:24 PM (#2986469)
1. Babe Ruth—The greatest Base Ball player of all time.
2. Hank Aaron—Not too much competition for this spot either, despite the gap between #1 & #2. . . .
3. Mel Ott—Ott’s position over Robinson is a situation of lots of little things adding up to one obvious conclusion: all three comprehensive measures agree that Mel had slightly greater career and peak value (the latter of the 5-year, non-consecutive variety) as well as a more decided advantage using the cream-off-the-top measure for peak/prime, which is enough to best the competition advantage of a later era.
4. Frank Robinson—See Mel Ott comment.
5. Paul Waner—A bit of a gap after Robinson followed by a little closer competition, but Waner’s peak advantage (particularly according to Dan’s WARP) is enough to surpass the Hustler’s strengths.
6. Pete Rose—In a battle that gives away my peak tendencies, Rose & Shoeless Joe are paired once again, this time for spot #6 on my RF ballot. The Hustler’s era advantage breaks the tie betwixt the two.
7. Joe Jackson—See Pete Rose comment.
8. Sam Crawford
9. Reggie Jackson—Very close competition between Jackson & the two below him. Concerning Jackson & Kaline, the latter holds the slight career advantage while the former holds a slight peak advantage. As someone who leans toward peak, Kaline falls just below Jackson & Flick.
10. Elmer Flick—I’ve always been more of a peak voter, over the years increasingly so. As we’ve worked our way through the HoM positional rankings I’ve toned it down a bit (for example, Al Rosen will not make my ’09 HoM ballot), but I’ve noticed that I’m more favorable toward short career, big peak OF compared to the consensus than I was with their IF counterparts; it’s probably due to longer careers among the long career, low peak OF candidates than their IF counterparts, which gives them a bigger advantage over their nemeses but as a peak voter that means less to me than it does to others. Anyways, Flick’s got the 7th best peak on the board, which is enough to make it to 10th on my ballot despite his short career and early era.
11. Al Kaline—See Reggie Jackson comment.
12. Tony Gwynn—The second in a group of four RF I’ve come to group together over the course of HoM voting, and they fall one right after the other on my RF ballot. All four have a strong prime and career (after Slaughter’s WWII credit) but without the type of peak that would move them into the top 10.
13. Roberto Clemente—Rather close to Gwynn, but both WS and Dan’s WARP agree that the former is slightly better both peak & career. BP’s WARP3 gives Clemente the career advantage put sees their peak as basically even. Era consideration is just one more tally in Gwynn’s favor.
14. Enos Slaughter—Below the other three prior to Dan’s re-evaluation; Country just doesn’t quite have their career or peak despite his excellent ’42.
15. King Kelly—The most confusing ballplayer on an admittedly relatively easy ballot. Played practically every position as a big star of the 1880s, using BP’s WARP3 he’s better than Wee Willie, but I just don’t think I could put him above the next four.
16. Willie Keeler—He must’ve been a fun player to watch. A surprisingly good peak, enough to overcome Heilmann’s career advantage, BP’s WARP3 also prefers Wee Willie due to the his defensive advantage, I assume.
17. Harry Heilmann—Obviously an excellent hitter and a deserving HoMer, his defense just holds him back from climbing up a fairly strong ballot.
18. Dwight Evans—Prior to ranking my RF ballot I don’t believe I’d’ve placed Dewey Evans above Dave Winfield; in fact, I was a little leery of his HoM election. Upon reflection, Dewey, like Darrell, is a deserving member of the Hall, particularly a hall of the size of the HoM or HoF.
19. Dave Winfield—Better career value than Evans, but he didn’t really have a big peak. Evans didn’t either (outside of ’81), but it was better than Winfield’s. He is a deserving HoMer, however.
20. Sam Thompson—Possibly the least deserving HoMer among position.
   94. bjhanke Posted: October 19, 2008 at 05:02 AM (#2987827)
Due to a visit from Don Malcolm (fun, but not focused on this) and swordfighting workshops, I'm not sure I can complete a full ballot, with my usual paragraphs of comments, before the deadline. I'll get that done sometime Sunday night, but probably not before the deadline. So, for official purposes, here is mine, with really minimal comments.

- Brock

There's only so long you can ignore an OPS+ of 170, even in a truncated career. Any normal decline phase would rank him above even Aaron. Credit for 13 seasons, not 14, and none for the 1919 Series. My post about 14 seasons was a mistake; I had thought he did not play at all in 1918.
If I was SURE about his defense, he would rank above at least Waner.
Dan's work on his adjusted OPS+ jumped him up to here.
When I did the preliminary, I did not know that Rose has the lowest OPS+ of anyone on this list (118). If you try to raise the OPS+ by discarding some of the late trash years, you've undermined his career length advantage.
I wasn't a fan of his defense when he was young and could run some.
Short career, but almost no trash seasons. The next three have longer careers, but with more trash and much lower career OPS+.
War credit gets the career length up to the point where the trash seasons don't drop the career down to anything but VERY long.
How can you be this short, on a team with Mc Graw, and in a league with Hamilton, and STILL not figure out about walks? Taking walks has to be a tool, or Keeler would have taken many and would rank much higher.
Only about ten years of any value, which is about 4 fewer than Thompson has. A margin of only 3 in OPS+ can't make up that difference.
Here's the OPS+ list for this group:
Ruth 207
Joe 170
Aaron 155
Ot 155
Robinson 154
Flick 149
Heilmann 148
Thompson 146
Crawford 144
Reggie 139
King 138
Waner 134
Kaline 134
Gwynn 132
Clemente 130
Winfield 130
Evans 127
Keeler 126
Slaughter 123
Rose 118
   95. EricC Posted: October 19, 2008 at 01:38 PM (#2987873)
Top HoM right fielders ballot. An easier ballot than for some of the other positions, with the in/out line more obvious for some reason.

1. Babe Ruth A Cy-Young type season, in addition to many, many, MVP-type seasons. At age 37, after declining for a decade, he was still an MVP-type player.

2. Hank Aaron Extraordinary career.

3. Frank Robinson Multipositional star; among the longest careers for RF; multiple AS-type years.

4. Mel Ott Has a good argument to be #3. Classic HoF career arc, with a full career and consistent AS to MVP level play at his peak.

5. Pete Rose Another multipositional star; less peak than any of the above, but extraordinary durability and career length puts him this high.

6. Reggie Jackson Career value that can't be ignored.

7. Al Kaline Lower, more spread-out peak than Jackson.

8. King Kelly A rarity in my system: an 1880s player that ends up in the top 100 all time MLP. Durable and consistently AS-level. Makes me curious on what basis the HoF recognized him in 1945.

9. Sam Crawford Apart from his stats, which are clearly HoM calibre, impresses me for how little impression I have of him.

10. Tony Gwynn Illustrates a point about the modern HoM/HoF player: relatively few seasons in which he was actually an all-star calibre player and many seasons in which he was downright "mediocre", but in the HoF sense, had easily recognized components of his skills in which he was frequently among the leaders and accumulated the magic 3000 hits. The point being, a modern player of the same value whose value was distributed differently would have no shot at the HoF.

11. Enos Slaughter Battling with Sosa for most crossword puzzle appearances; full career; war credit included.

12. Dave Winfield Typical modern HoM/HoF player. Most impressive factoid is his age-40 season in 1992 after having come back from missing all of 1989.

13. Joe Jackson Perhaps inner-circle type ability. Relative off-years in 1914-1915 knock him down a bit; off-career after 1920 knocks him down more. No penalty for 1919. To pick a point maybe not worth picking, nothing he did in 1919 had any effect on whether any other team in either league fairly won or did not win a pennant, and I'm not using any postseason play in my ratings anyway.

14. Paul Waner Full career, decline after 1937 keeps him from being higher.

15. Roberto Clemente Of course, any system that had a subjective element or a character element would have him higher. I have him here mainly because he was a late bloomer: at age 27, after 1061 games played, he only had a career 105 OPS+.

16. Harry Heilmann Coincidentally (and not ironically, because irony does not mean mere coincidence), the only player on Clemente's top 10 sim scores at age 27 that made the HoF is Heilmann. Consistent all-star at his peak, but relatively short career for a HoM RF.

17. Dwight Evans Yet another late bloomer. Best season was the strike year. Modern HoM/zero chance at HoF type player, because of the distribution of his value.

18. Elmer Flick AS to MVP-type peak, but career shortness is an issue.

(Reggie Smith: above my in-out line)

19. Willie Keeler A little below my in-out line. Very interesting how his moderate decline with age combines with the transition to the deadball era to make his classical stats appear to drop so much over time.

20. Sam Thompson Probably in the HoF due to classical stats, but his eyeballed classical stats don't even look that impressive, given his relatively small number of career games played (in context). Win Shares is particularly harsh on him for reasons that I've never fully understood, but, then, why isn't it so harsh on his OF teammates Hamilton and Delahanty?
   96. EricC Posted: October 19, 2008 at 01:44 PM (#2987876)
Re: my comment on Enos Slaughter. Pete Rose is a contender too, and Mel Ott is probably the winner.
   97. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2008 at 08:23 PM (#2988067)
Except for the top guys, the difference between the rest is not as great as it is at other positions, IMO. IOW, a low spot on my ballot doesn't necessarily mean that I don't like a particular candidate.

1) Babe Ruth-RF/LF/P (n/e): No defense is necessary for him. Best major league left fielder for 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1926. Best major league right fielder for 1923, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932 (close in 1933). Best AL right fielder for 1933 and 1934.

2) Hank Aaron-RF/LF/CF/1B/DH (n/e): Oh, Henry! Possibly the greatest #2 among positions ever. Best ML right fielder for 1956, 1957, (close in 1958), 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, and 1965. Best NL right fielder for 1958 and 1969. Best ML first baseman for 1971.

3) Frank Robinson-RF/LF/DH/1B (n/e): Just edges out Ott on my ballot. Very underrated, which is odd when you view the numbers. Best ML right fielder for 1962 and 1966. Best NL left fielder for 1956 and 1957. Best ML first baseman for 1959. Best DH in 1973.

4) Mel Ott-RF/3B (n/e): Easily the greatest right fielder of the thirties. That he doesn't have the same respect as some of his contemporaries is a crime. Best NL right fielder for 1929, 1932, 1939, 1940 and 1941. Best major league right fielder for 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937. Best major league third baseman for 1938.

5) Pete Rose-RF/3B/LF/2B/1B (n/e): (holding my nose while I type this). Best ML right fielder in 1968. Best ML third baseman for 1975. Best NL third baseman for 1978.

6) King Kelly-RF/C (n/e): The greatest right fielder of the 19th century, he may have had the weirdest travel along the defensive spectrum ever by becoming a good catcher late in his professional life. Could be classified the best third baseman or right fielder for 1879. Best right fielder for 1881, 1885 and 1886.

7) Reggie Jackson-RF/DH/CF (n/e): Tough parks masked the true greatness of his career. Best ML right fielder for 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, and 1980.

8) Sam Crawford-RF-CF (n/e): Wahoo! Greatest right fielder of the Deadball Era, he was one of baseball's greatest sluggers. Best major league right fielder for 1905. Best major league center fielder for 1907. Best AL right fielder for 1906, 1914 and 1915.

9) Joe Jackson-RF/LF (n/e): Le Pew! He was unquestionably great at his peak, but to be an inner-circle HoMer for me, I need more career. Obviously, his own avarice ended his career abruptly. Best major league right fielder for 1911, 1912 and 1913. Best major league left fielder for 1916 and 1920. Best AL left fielder for 1917.

10) Al Kaline-RF/DH/1B (n/e): Better than Clemente, but not as flashy. Best ML right fielder for 1955.Best AL right fielder for 1956, 1957, and 1967 Best AL CF for 1966.
   98. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2008 at 08:27 PM (#2988071)
11) Tony Gwynn-RF/CF (n/e): Possibly the greatest hitter for batting average ever. Best ML right fielder for 1984, 1986. Best NL right fielder for 1989 and 1994.

12) Paul Waner-RF (n/e): Not a Ruth, Gehrig or Schmidt-type, but you don't really have to when you have over 400 WS on your resume.

13) Roberto Clemente (n/e): The bad: nowhere near being the best of his generation among right fielders, not to mention of all-time. The good: he was still great, nevertheless. :-) Best NL right fielder of 1966.Best ML right fielder of 1967

14) Elmer Flick-RF (n/e): Great peak places him here despite his somewhat short career. Best major league rightfielder for 1898, 1901, and 1904. Best major league centerfielder for 1906.

15) Harry Heilmann-RF/1B (n/e): Maybe a slug as a fielder and baserunner, but not as a hitter. Best major league rightfielder for 1921 and 1922 (close in 1926). Best AL rightfielder for 1925 and 1926.

16) Enos Slaughter-RF (n/e): WWII credit, a long career, and a good peak land him here. Arguably should be higher. Best ML right fielder for 1942, 1946, and 1952.

17) Dave Winfield-RF/LF/DH/CF (n/e): He was not as great as his record-breaking salary with the Yanks would suggest, but if you like long careers of sustained quality, you have to love Winfield. Best NL right fielder for 1976. Best ML right fielder for 1979 (close in 1976). Close to being the best DH in 1992.

18) Willie Keeler-RF (n/e): Greatest right fielder of the '90s. He didn't age that well during the next decade, however. Best major league right fielder for 1894, 1896, 1897 and 1902.

19) Sam Thompson-RF (n/e): Big Sam was arguably the best right fielder of era, sandwiched between King Kelly and Willie Keeler. Best major league right fielder for 1887, 1893 and 1895. He's still overrated as an RBI guy, though.

20) Dwight Evans-RF (n/e): While the only one of the group I never voted for, his career value and sterling defense can not be denied.
   99. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2008 at 11:25 PM (#2988155)
Guys, due to a family issue (nothing serious), I would like to extend the deadline just one more day until 8 PM EDT. I hope this is not a problem for anyone.

   100. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 19, 2008 at 11:56 PM (#2988166)
A good measure of the quality of this group - not counting first-year ballot omissions for character, the only 20th century player who had to wait at all for induction was Heilmann getting stuck behind Pete Alexander and Joe Williams for a year. And Flick and Keeler didn't have to wait too long to get in.

1. Babe Ruth. A legend in his own time, in our time, and a hundred years from now.

2. Hank Aaron. Agree with John that he may well be the greatest #2 - although Cobb or Mays and Williams or Bonds are nothing to sneeze at.

3. Frank Robinson. I think Frank and Mel are extremely close, and I can see an argument either way. I'd probably go with Robinson in any case, but one thing that hasn't come up is leadership. Robinson is well known for his leadership abilities, while Ott was the nice guy who finished last. Ott's teams were successful, but he was clearly not the leader on them, Bill Terry was. Robinson led a surpising Reds team to a pennant, beat the Koufax/Drysdale Dodgers in the Series, and was part of the 69-71 Orioles that was one of the all-time great teams (although they had problems in the World Series.) And he wrapped it up by becoming the first African-American manager in MLB history, and hitting a home run in his first at-bat with the team. (Not worth much, but a great story.) I'm just saying, if I had to pick one of the two to have on my team, it would be Robinson, and his documented leadership is one reason why. (I'm not arguing that we know what it's worth, just that we know that it exists.)

4. Mel Ott. Which isn't to say that Ott wasn't a great, underrated player who contributed in many different ways.

5. Pete Rose. I grant that 2B and 3B aren't premier defensive positions, but they are more important than corner OF. The combination of Rose's versatility, career value, and several excellent seasons puts him here.

6. Sam Crawford. An outstanding hitter, played for a long time for his era and was very good when he wasn't great.

7. Roberto Clemente. Somewhat overrated by people who think he's better than Frank Robinson, but an outstanding fielder and a very good hitter once he got established.

8. Reggie Jackson. My favorite player as a little kid (before I switched to the Mets), a great slugger who made life more difficult for himself than it needed to be.

9. Al Kaline. Played in a weak league, but he was very good for a long time.

10. Paul Waner. Behind Ott in his era, but still a very formidable hitter.

11. Tony Gwynn. A little bit overrated, perhaps, as he slipped a little from his strong start. But still one of the great hitters for average in history.

12. Joe Jackson. An outstanding peak, but like Gwynn he did slip a little after his first few years (although Joe's were better). I'm not docking him for any time he was playing, though.

13. King Kelly. This is kind of a best guess, but he did have a long career for his era and a lot of defensive value.

14. Harry Heilmann. Another outstanding hitter, but a bad fielder. He is overlooked historically, but this is a really tough peer group.

15. Elmer Flick. A hell of a prime, and then nothing else. I'm surprised he made the HoF, to tell you the truth, although that's because of their uncertain standards.

16. Enos Slaughter. With war credit. This might be too low, but he's clearly ahead of the rest.

17. Dave Winfield. Very good for a long time, but rarely great. Even favoring career value only gets you so far.

18. Willie Keeler. A worthy choice, but nothing about his career stands out among this group.

19. Dwight Evans. In my PHoM, but not by much. Doesn't have a really strong peak, was consistent but didn't have an exceptionally long career.

20. Sam Thompson. If my 14th-place vote in 1929 put him over the top, I apologize. Not in my PHoM, had a short career and not a remarkable peak.
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