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Hall of Merit
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit Center Fielders - Discussion

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

Richie Ashburn
Earl Averill
Cool Papa Bell
Willard Brown
Pete Browning
Max Carey
Oscar Charleston
Ty Cobb
Andre Dawson
Joe DiMaggio
Larry Doby
George Gore
Billy Hamilton
Pete Hill
Paul Hines
Monte Irvin
Mickey Mantle
Willie Mays
Alejandro Oms
Jim O’Rourke
Lip Pike
Edd Roush
Duke Snider
Tris Speaker
Turkey Stearnes
Cristóbal Torriente
Jimmy Wynn

The election begins August 31 and ends on September

14

21 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 24, 2008 at 11:42 PM | 221 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Paul Wendt Posted: September 14, 2008 at 11:06 PM (#2941307)
Brock,
This page provides some of the access you would have inside that database with its state of birth field.
"Biographical Data" at baseball-references
   202. Cblau Posted: September 15, 2008 at 01:06 AM (#2941481)
My comments on Brock's ballot:
is it possible that Hamilton and McGraw were able to take their enormous numbers of walks because they were milking the lack of a foul strike rule, fouling pitches off until the pitcher finally threw his fourth wild one?

It is not only possible, but it is a fact. That was the reason for the foul strike rule. Roy Thomas and Jesse Burkett were others who would do that.

Re:Snider and the platoon advantage- for his career, Snider had 6650 (AB+W) vs. RHP and 1127 vs. LHP. The percentage of games started by LHP in the NL during his career was typically 25-35%. Against the Dodgers from 1951 on it was much lower.

O'Rourke:
Jim O'Rourke spent more than half his career as a corner outfielder. Is this versatility, or just a guy who, though a fine athlete, wasn't really that great a defender, so he got tried at other spots but ended up in the corner outfield?

I think it's a guy who played CF (with some catching for good measure) when he was young, and even up until he was 35, but lasted so long that his last years as a corner OF make him a career LF/RF.

Bell: A single and stolen base doesn't have the same value as a double because you can't score a runner from first by hitting a single and stealing second.
   203. bjhanke Posted: September 15, 2008 at 10:44 AM (#2941846)
Paul, as usual, is a great help here, and I have a week to do some more digging. Just off the cuff, here are a couple of comments on Pauls's comments:

Paul says, "In Louisville Pete Browning's rightfield partner was Jimmy Wolf (at bb-ref), one of the few 10-year men in the AA." True. I missed that for lack of time. Looking through Total Baseball, here's what I see. Browning was converted to a center fielder in 1885, which is truly odd. The manager who did this was named J. Hart, about whom I know absolutely nothing except that he can't have been Jim Ray. Hart only lasted a couple of years, but the conversion took. That is, Pete Browning was moved to center AFTER he aged some and presumably got slower. The left fielder the year he was moved was someone named Maskrey, about whom I know almost nothing except that he could not hit and he was the center fielder while Browning was in left earlier on the team for a year. After 1885, Maskrey is gone, presumably because he had no bat, and there's a revolving door in left. But in right field, Jimmy Wolf is always there. Wolf plays some shortstop, third base, and catcher, so that's an indicator he had a glove. His range factors in right field, from BB-Ref, are close to the league range factors, starting above them and dropping below as he ages. I have no idea how to interpret that in the context of the AA. But he was indeed the one constant in the Louisville outfield until Browning moves to center. In any case, the managers of the Louisville team did think that Pete was their best option in center for the LAST part of his career. Very strange. Center field, of course, was not quite the prime position then that it is now. I have no idea at all how to interpret all that as an evaluation of Browning's defense. I go by contemporary reps, which almost universally list him as wretched.

On Lip Pike, I said that he has only five seasons of any real worth. Paul asks, "Five seasons? So you begin counting in 1871. Why not seven seasons, 1871-77?" The five I count as having "real value" are 1873-77. 1872 was an off year for Lip, and 1871, while not bad, has so few games played that I am hesitant to count it as a "season." If you do count it, then he has six.

On Earl Averill, I say that he was "wildly inconsistent" in his prime. Paul asks, "Inconsistent in what respects?" I count Earl's peak as 1934-1938. His TPR from Total Baseball for those five years are 4.2, 0.7, 3.9, 0.4, and 3.2, which is almost beyond "wildly." His Win Shares, however, are 33, 22, 27, 24, and 26; the same pattern, but much closer to each other. WS also gives Earl credit for 24, 30, 30, and 26 WS between 1930 and 33. TPR does not think anything like as much of these years. I essentially averaged the opinions. WS thinks of Earl as MUCH more consistent than Linear Weights does. I didn't feel competent to actually choose between the two opinions when they are so different. That is, they are too different to write it all off to WS being much better than TPR at rating defense. If I had to guess, I would guess that WS sees his defense as much better in 30-33 than TPR does, and I'd go with Bill on that. But I'd rather average the opinions than choose, in this case.
   204. bjhanke Posted: September 15, 2008 at 11:06 AM (#2941847)
Cblau made some nice comments, too. Just off the cuff again, I have these:

Thanks for the confirmation on the foul strike rule. I guess the only reason that Hamilton didn't get Ross Barnes' reputation for exploiting a cheap trick is that he wasn't the only one to exploit it real good. Thanks again. Hamilton, McGraw, and Thomas are real suspects there, because they have no power, and power is one thing you're going to have to give up to exploit the rule. Burkett was a surprise.

Also, thanks for the confirmation on my old childhood rep about Snider. I feel, if anything, even better about ranking Doby above him now. The thing about stuff that I heard when I was a kid is that I had no critical abilities at the time, and no access now that I knew of that would give me the Dodger opposing pitcher hands. You do, and I really thank you for using it. BTW, what was your source? I'm obviously unaware of it, and can no doubt use it later, with other players or teams.

About Jim O'Rourke, you may be right that he was a viable center fielder when young, but aged out of it. I'm voting that he wasn't any more than adequate in center at any time, and so should be considered a corner outfielder. One reason for doing this is that I think he would rank higher in left or right than he does in this tough peer group (see Turkey Stearnes). His center field time would be a plus. His corner time would not be a minus. But he's here, in center, and I was trying to compare him to Paul Hines, who was a no doubt center fielder.

About Cool Papa Bell and base stealing, Cblau says, "Bell: A single and stolen base doesn't have the same value as a double because you can't score a runner from first by hitting a single and stealing second." True, I listed a couple of exceptions myself. But I think the situations where the stolen base does make the effective conversion far outweigh the number of exception times. And, dealing with Negro League stats, as you have to with Bell, you have to make a lot of judgment calls. This was one. It's not something I am absolutely certain of, but then, neither is almost anything about the NgL. It's also true that you can't always score a runner from first by hitting a double. Depends on the type of double and the speed of the runner on first. You can generally score Bell from first on a double, because he was so fast, but that's not true of everyone. And most of the time, a single will get him home from second. Therefore, getting to second has extra value if you can really run, which is the one thing about Bell about which there is no doubt.
   205. Paul Wendt Posted: September 15, 2008 at 01:00 PM (#2941872)
Browning was converted to a center fielder in 1885, which is truly odd. The manager who did this was named J. Hart, about whom I know absolutely nothing except that he can't have been Jim Ray. Hart only lasted a couple of years, but the conversion took. That is, Pete Browning was moved to center AFTER he aged some and presumably got slower.

Hart acquired control of the Chicago club from Spalding, served about ten years as President. He was the chairman of the rules committee that made foul balls strikes and eliminated first base on hit by pitch. The league repealed the latter on the Opening Eve, having generated a rebellion.
   206. Paul Wendt Posted: September 15, 2008 at 01:43 PM (#2941885)
True, I listed a couple of exceptions myself. But I think the situations where the stolen base does make the effective conversion far outweigh the number of exception times.

That must depend heavily on the batting position. Supposing a leadoff batter the quality of the 8 and 9 batters must be important and it is extremely variable, perhaps highest in today's AL and lowest in today's NL?
   207. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: September 15, 2008 at 02:29 PM (#2941911)
1871, while not bad, has so few games played that I am hesitant to count it as a "season."


Um, a pennant is a pennant? There's no way that's constitutional. You can certainly regress 1871 statistics heavily to the mean to account for the extraordinarily high standard deviation resulting from a 28-game season, but you absolutely cannot discard it altogether. At the most extreme, you could regress everyone say 65-70% to the mean, making Meyerle's OPS more like a 145 and the vast majority of players between 90 and 110--in fact, I think you probably should. But even if you regress so much that virtually everyone is close to league average, you still have to give full credit for those league-average seasons, which matters quite a bit to the career voter (it's like 13 Win Shares! :)).
   208. bjhanke Posted: September 15, 2008 at 04:44 PM (#2942069)
Paul says, regarding Lip Pike, "Um, a pennant is a pennant? There's no way that's constitutional. You can certainly regress 1871 statistics heavily to the mean to account for the extraordinarily high standard deviation resulting from a 28-game season, but you absolutely cannot discard it altogether." Oh. I didn't know that. If it helps, I didn't ignore 1871 in the rankings. As you know, I have extensive, though indirect, ways of approaching very short league schedules. I left it out of the comment because I don't have much confidence (in either the conversational or statistical sense of the term) in that small a sample size. But when ranking Lip, I assure you that I did not simply discard 1871. However, since it's unconstitutional to ignore the season, I'll be more careful about wording next time. Thanks again.
   209. Cblau Posted: September 16, 2008 at 01:58 AM (#2943135)
My source for the Snider data was David Smith of Retrosheet, who posted it on SABR-L years ago. Much of it is available from Retrosheet's Web site now.
   210. Mike Webber Posted: September 16, 2008 at 02:26 PM (#2943394)
On the ballot thread Devin McCullen asked:
10. Billy Hamilton. Best leadoff hitter until Rickey came along. I wonder why he retired at 35, he seemed to have a decent year in 1901.


According to Baseball's First Stars and article by Norm Macht says he played and managed in the minors from 1902 to 1916 - though the stats in the article only show him playing until 1910.

The first 3 years in minors he played in the New England League. In 1905 its the Tri State league.

1902 .337 243 ABs - no BB shown
1903 .455 132
1904 .412 408 74 SB
1905 .341 386

He trails off from there, well, okay he still hit .332 as late as 1909. His XBH are basically the same as his MLB time.
   211. DL from MN Posted: September 16, 2008 at 02:35 PM (#2943405)
Doesn't affect my ranking among CF but perhaps there's not as big of a gap between Hamilton and Stearnes as I had thought. Was the New England League AA equivalent or lower?
   212. KJOK Posted: September 16, 2008 at 11:31 PM (#2943952)
Doesn't affect my ranking among CF but perhaps there's not as big of a gap between Hamilton and Stearnes as I had thought. Was the New England League AA equivalent or lower?


The New England League was a Class B league those years. Class A was the hightest classification, so it was similar to modern day AA.

The Tri State League was an independent league.
   213. Paul Wendt Posted: September 17, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2945001)
Hamilton and Kid Nichols both left for greener pastures in the minor leagues. Both had coached college teams in the spring for several years (Harvard?). Both had been stars of strong teams that were the toast of the town. Both had recently declined in ability and durability. The club had been a leader in salary control and it showed little interest in competing with the AL for players so the team was clearly over its hill.

(Nichols and Hugh Duffy carried the flag for Organized Baseball in a losing war with the new American Association. With a different outcome, I suppose they might have become presidents and part owners of leading minor league clubs, but in the event they were back as National League player-managers in 1904.)
   214. DL from MN Posted: September 17, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2945012)
Well, he destroyed the double-A equivalent. With his history of drawing walks he may have put up a .600 OBP in 1903.
   215. bjhanke Posted: September 17, 2008 at 07:32 PM (#2945108)
First off, I apologize for attributing to Paul a Lip Pike comment made by Dan. Second, just for anyone who thought my response to the Lip Pike post was weak (which it was), what I did to Lip Pike's major league career, for purposes of voting, was to double it. All of it. And then add about three years before 1871, due to his being 26 when the NA started. This doubling is a byproduct of my Plausibility Testing method that I've promised you all about Jim O'Rourke et al. The adjustments just about bring Pike's playing time up to Pete Browning's. But, of course, that's before making any schedule adjustments to Browning. Third, is it possible - that is, does anyone have any anecdotal knowledge - that the reason Billy Hamilton moved to the Eastern League in 1902 had to do with the foul strike rule? In other words, did the Eastern League still lack the rule? Could Hamilton have accepted a downgrade in league status to get a manager's job (which probably boosted his salary to somewhere near his one in the NL) and to be allowed to keep using his style of hitting? - Brock
   216. Paul Wendt Posted: September 17, 2008 at 09:08 PM (#2945238)
I doubt it but I don't recall details of any reported retirement talk from 1900 and 1901. There was some retirement talk by Tim Murnane, but I'm not sure which year it was that Murnane was saying this would probably be Hamilton's last.
He had missed a lot of games: 42, 69, 6, and 38 in his last four seasons.
   217. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 21, 2008 at 03:50 PM (#2949235)
Is there a DanR translated MLE for Cool Papa Bell anywhere? I can't seem to find one . . .
   218. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 21, 2008 at 03:52 PM (#2949236)
Also looking for Willard Brown, Pete Hill, Alejandro Oms . . .
   219. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 21, 2008 at 09:49 PM (#2949550)
Hey guys, we're extending the deadline a day, as we await new and improved Cool Papa Bell MLEs . . .
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