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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit First Basemen - Discussion

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

Dick Allen
Cap Anson
Ernie Banks (just kidding, but if Deacon White allegedly is a third baseman… :-)
Jake Beckley
Dan Brouthers
Will Clark
Roger Connor
Jimmie Foxx
Lou Gehrig
Hank Greenberg
Keith Hernandez
Harmon Killebrew
Buck Leonard
Willie McCovey
Mark McGwire
Johnny Mize
Eddie Murray
George Sisler
Joe Start
Mule Suttles
Bill Terry

The electon starts May 18 and ends Sunday on June 1 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 11, 2008 at 10:20 PM | 160 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2008 at 12:02 AM (#2777061)
Hot topics.
   2. Chris Cobb Posted: May 12, 2008 at 12:29 AM (#2777104)
Let's get this one started! See what y'all think of this . . .

First Base Preliminary Ballot.

I’ve used the same set of seven categories to group players that I introduced on the catcher ballot. Numerical rankings are my system’s composite score, which looks at career value above “replacement,” career value above average, and peak five-year rate in win shares, WARP1, and Dan R’s WAR. Since I don’t have numbers from Dan R for pre-1893 players or NeL players, I have to handle them differently. ???? below indicates players whom I am re-examining. These are mostly the pre-1893 players.

I. All-Time Top 10

none.

II. Inner-Circle HoMers
1. Lou Gehrig. Total = 495. Anson has more career value, but Gehrig has the better peak and prime and, well, all the character considerations break Lou’s way, too. To get perspective on Gehrig vs. Foxx: Jimmie Foxx, at his best, was Lou Gehrig’s equal. Foxx’s peak rate over his 5 best consecutive seasons is 8.41 WAR/162 games (using Dan R.’s [old] numbers). Gehrig’s peak rate over his 5 best seasons in 8.46 WAR/162. This is a neglible difference (setting aside durability, of course). However, Gehrig’s rate over his 10 best seasons is 8.44. So what Foxx was able to maintain for five years, Gehrig maintained for 10.
2. Cap Anson. est. Total = 424. One of the best careers ever.

III. Among the best players of their generation
3. Jimmie Foxx. Total = 414. Could mash and was excellent defensively. As good as Gehrig at his best, but didn’t maintain that level of play for nearly as long.
4. Roger Connor. ???. Could mash and was excellent defensively.
5. Dan Brouthers. ???. Could mash! Best hitter of the 1880s.
6. Johnny Mize. Total = 373. Could mash! Players of his generation (who had the bulk of their career in the 1940s) who rank ahead of him in my system are Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Joe Dimaggio, and Luke Appling. All but Appling are inner-circle greats.

IV. Obvious HoMers
7. Hank Greenberg. Total = 343. Could mash, but fairly short career.
8. Eddie Murray. Total = 337. Low peak, but excellent prime and career. The midpoint in this first-base career profile between Cap Anson and Jake Beckley.
9. Mark McGwire. Total = 303. One of the best pure power hitters of all time, but playing time very limited.
10. Buck Leonard. Total = 288. The highest ranking “line-drive” first baseman. Excellent hitter and defender in a long career. Durable, where the boppers immediately above and below him were not.
11. Willie McCovey. = 282. Peak was awesome, but short. Terrible in the field.

V. Solid HoMers when you read the fine print
12. Joe Start. ????. Hard to evaluate, but was the top player of the 1860s, and played forever.
13. Dick Allen. Total = 277. Could mash, but a defensive liability in a short career.
14. Will Clark. Total = 274. The next highest ranking “line-drive” first baseman. Would have been Buck Leonard if he had played until he was 38.
15. Harmon Killebrew. Total = 269. Like Allen, but also couldn’t run the bases.
16. Mule Suttles. Total = 269. Willie McCovey lite. The best pure power hitter in the Negro Leagues after Josh Gibson.
17. Keith Hernandez. Total = 260. Possibly the greatest defensive first baseman of all time, and underrated offensively, though he is a weaker hitter than everyone above him in the rankings.

VI. Almost as good an argument to be out, as to be in
18. George Sisler. Total = 232. A few truly great seasons and a strong seven-year prime, but was below average player after the sinusitis. Remarkable that he could play effectively at all with double vision, though.
19. Jake Beckley. ?????. Fine career, no peak.

VII. Mistakes
20. Bill Terry. Total = 219. In the line-drive first base mold. Excellent for about five years, but peak is no better than most of the guys above him, and his prime and career are well short of the rest.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: May 12, 2008 at 12:46 AM (#2777143)
to clarify - we have 20 again, and no Banks, yes?
   4. OCF Posted: May 12, 2008 at 12:47 AM (#2777146)
Here is my offensive system for the first base candidates, plus a few others. I don't have Anson/Brouthers/Connor in this system, and I don't have the Negro Leagues. I haven't inserted any war-credit years. Of course, those do matter, particularly for Mize and Greenberg. I do have a league-quality deduction for war years, but not any other league quality adjustments.

Gehrig 109 103 102 99 98 97 87 87 81 79 62 54 40 16  5  2 -4
Foxx 
. . 100  95  85 72 70 66 64 62 55 40 35 31 30 29  9  6  2  0 --4
Mize 
. .  85  72  71 68 66 61 59 52 49 48 21 14
McCovey 
98  79  75 71 61 57 50 43 41 31 31 21 21 18 18 18 10  7  5 ---5
McGwire  105  71  70 60 56 55 50 47 47 45 24 15 14 12 
--2
Allen 
. . 90  75  74 65 59 53 50 50 41 34 29 13 ---7
Killebrew 83  78  59 57 57 48 42 38 38 37 36 35 27 16  3  1 
-----7-10
Murray 
.  62  61  58 53 50 40 38 35 33 31 28 28 26 24 23 20 18  6  1-16-19
Clark 
. . 99  81  68 55 47 37 36 35 26 26 20 19 14 10  2
(Cash) . 100  45  45 38 37 33 33 31 29 29 23 21 17 17  5  4
(McGriff60  52  50 45 42 38 38 37 28 25 20 18 16 12 11 10  3  0 -5
Cepeda 
.  70  63  55 45 43 42 38 30 26 20 13 12  7  4  3 --6
Hernandez 58  58  53 52 41 40 36 34 34 24 22 18 18  2 
---9
(Chance)  78  66  66 52 41 29 27 24 23 12  8  7  4  2  0  0
(Powell)  64  59  50 50 42 33 30 30 23 21 18 11 10  1 ---5
Terry 
. . 69  68  59 53 47 38 37 35 28 18  8  6  1  0
Sisler 
.  70  68  51 46 44 37 35 15 10 10  5 ----9
Beckley 
38  36  34 29 29 27 24 20 20 20 19 19 15 15 13 10  8  4 -8-11 
   5. Tiboreau Posted: May 12, 2008 at 12:59 AM (#2777166)
I have Killebrew and Keith Hernandez in Group VI and Beckley in Group VII (sorry karlmagnus); other than that the only differences between Mr. Cobb's ballot and mine is the order within the groups. I may be underrating ABC, but it seems kinda odd to have 3 19th Century ballplayers in the top 5.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2008 at 01:04 AM (#2777176)
to clarify - we have 20 again, and no Banks, yes?


You are correct, sir.
   7. Paul Wendt Posted: May 12, 2008 at 01:04 AM (#2777177)
I expect that the 1880s firstbase trio A-B-C will fare at least as well as the 1930s catchers C-D-H (white) and the 1930s firstbase trio G-F-G (white) almost as well as the first three 1970s catchers B-C-F. What's this with the beginning of the alphabet?
   8.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 12, 2008 at 01:32 AM (#2777228)
Sorry for spam, but did you get my email John?
   9. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 12, 2008 at 02:57 AM (#2777432)
Love the Banks line John! How anyone can consider a guy's primary position one he never played more than 7 games in a season at before age 34 is beyond me!
   10. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 12, 2008 at 03:28 AM (#2777498)
My salary estimator says (post-1893 MLB only)...

1. Lou Gehrig, $379M--overall, tied with Morgan and Schmidt.
2. Jimmie Foxx, $306M--overall, below Frank Robinson and above Vaughan.
3. Johnny Mize, $276M--overall, just above Eddie Mathews.
4. Hank Greenberg, $256M
(Jeff Bagwell, $236M)
(Frank Thomas, $218M)
5. Mark McGwire, $188M
6. Dick Allen, $183M
7. Eddie Murray, $181M
(Jim Thome, $178M)
(Rafael Palmeiro, $178M)
(Albert Pujols, $176M--yes, he's already done enough to get in IMO)
8. Harmon Killebrew, $153M
9. Will Clark, $162M
10. Willie McCovey, $162M
11. Jake Beckley, $160M
(Jason Giambi, $156M)
12. Keith Hernandez, $156M
13. George Sisler, $152M
(Norm Cash, $144M)
14. Bill Terry, $141M
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: May 12, 2008 at 05:00 AM (#2777516)
I found the Cs tougher to judge than most, I think - and here we go again.......
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2008 at 10:55 AM (#2777550)
Love the Banks line John! How anyone can consider a guy's primary position one he never played more than 7 games in a season at before age 34 is beyond me!


Thanks, Joe. :-)

I don't mind considering it if the value of a candidate's play was equal or greater than what he did before age 34, but obviously this is not the case with either White or Banks. Bottom line: both White and Banks have credible HoM cases if we take into account just their original positions; they have absolutely no HoM cases if we analyze only the positions they moved to in their thirties.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2008 at 10:56 AM (#2777551)
Sorry for spam, but did you get my email John?


Yes, I did, Shock. I'll get back to via e-mail sometime today.
   14. Mark Donelson Posted: May 12, 2008 at 01:36 PM (#2777590)
As someone who arrived after Terry's election, I'd be curious to hear the argument for him (however tepid) from anyone who voted him in at the time. (It seems the only mentions of him anymore are by those who think, and mostly always thought, he was a mistake.)

I'll go over all the old threads again, too, of course.
   15. OCF Posted: May 12, 2008 at 01:57 PM (#2777597)
It's not much help as an answer to Mark's question, but here's my 1942 ballot:

1. Van Haltren
2. Vance
3. Sewell
4. Doyle
5. Beckwith
6. Bill Terry (new) Overrated by history, but that's no reason for us to underrate him. The standard for first basemen is not Connor, Foxx, or Bagwell, so the fact that Terry doesn't belong with that group isn't the issue. We're comparing him to Beckley, Chance, and Sisler - and I have him ahead of all three of them.
7. Rixey
8. Jake Beckley (13, 13, 6, 7, 9) Not much peak, long career.
9. Childs
10. Duffy
11. Roush
12. George Sisler (15, 15, 11, 11, 14) My peak-heavy offensive evaluation system likes Chance ahead of Sisler, and Sisler ahead of Beckley. The order gets reversed because of playing time.
13. Traynor
14. Waddell
15. Mendez
16. Frank Chance (12, 17, 14, 14, 17) Huge offensive seasons, discounted for his lack of playing time. Still has a chance to get back to my ballot.
17. Bresnahan; 18. Ryan; 19. Redding; 20. Jennings; 21. Schang; 22. Rice (Sam); 23. Cravath; 24. Maranville; 25. Leach.

It was very much a backlog year.
   16. Mike Green Posted: May 12, 2008 at 02:33 PM (#2777624)
Terry vs. Sisler is very interesting. They're both peak/prime candidates, but I think DanR has the ranking right, once you make the era adjustment and take into account fielding and baserunning.
   17. DL from MN Posted: May 12, 2008 at 03:38 PM (#2777682)
Prelim ballot

1) Lou Gehrig - this isn't nearly as clear-cut as Gibson but it is still highly certain
2) Roger Connor - I like him best of the ABC group but I can be swayed
3) Cap Anson
4) Jimmie Foxx
5) Johnny Mize
6) Dan Brouthers
(Jeff Bagwell)
7) Hank Greenberg
8) Buck Leonard
9) Eddie Murray
10) Mark McGwire
11) Mule Suttles
12) Will Clark
13) Willie McCovey - Clark ahead of McCovey sure doesn't fit the conventional wisdom
14) Keith Hernandez
(Ben Taylor)
15) Dick Allen
16) Jake Beckley
17) Harmon Killebrew
(Norm Cash)
18) Bill Terry - not PHoM but top 50 HoVG
19) George Sisler - not PHoM and outside top 100 HoVG
XX) Joe Start - haven't been able to place him yet but he'll probably be between #12 and #16. Some discussion on Start would help me a lot.

I didn't know who Roger Connor was before I started in on this project which is exactly why I participated.
   18. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 12, 2008 at 04:05 PM (#2777701)
DL from MN, that's damn harsh on Allen. Are you docking him for perceived clubhouse issues? If you place a gigantic weight on 1B fielding, that could push Clark and Hernandez ahead of him, but then McCovey would drop below...
   19. DL from MN Posted: May 12, 2008 at 04:19 PM (#2777716)
There are no subjective deductions for Dick Allen. I think it's more that he was only productive for 11 seasons. Wait, I found it, no 3B credit - he jumps up to 12th.
   20. OCF Posted: May 12, 2008 at 04:23 PM (#2777725)
Quick headlines for Joe Start: It is presumed that his primary peak was in the late 1860's. Documentation of that era doesn't match what we have later, but Start was by reputation one of the handful of best base ball players in the country (or in the Northeast, which is nearly the same thing). He played forever, and had something of a second peak when he was very old for a ballplayer. In an age when no one wore gloves, the mere act of catching a throw at 1B was not as routine as it would become later. Start was by reputation a good fielder.

You do have to take quite a bit on reputation.
   21. DL from MN Posted: May 12, 2008 at 04:24 PM (#2777727)
Killebrew moves up with a little multiposition credit also. He's 13th and I'm going to guess Joe Start is 14th. That would move Will Clark to 15th.
   22. Rusty Priske Posted: May 12, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2777988)
This is VERY prelim. It seems that every player on the list also made my PHoM.

I have placed *** beside the players I think will move up as they don't seem to feel right where they are, and I want to try and find out what I am missing.

1. Lou Gehrig
2. Jimmie Foxx
3. Johnny Mize
4. Hank Greenberg
5. Cap Anson ***
6. Eddie Murray
7. Mark McGwire (I think he may drop)
8. Dan Brouthers ***
9. Buck Leonard
10. Willie McCovey
11. Will Clark
12. Roger Connor *** (This one REALLY seems low, I realize)
13. Harmon Killebrew
14. Keith Hernandez
15. Dick Allen
16. Mule Suttles
17. Jake Beckley *** (This should move up quite a bit, I would think. I inducted him into my PHoM 85 'years' before he was put in the HoM.)
18. Joe Start ***
19. George Sisler ***
20. Bill Terry (He went it to my PHoM 33 'years' AFTER he went into the HoM)
   23. Bob Allen Posted: May 12, 2008 at 08:43 PM (#2778006)
Preliminary thoughts, some may change and I need to think more about where to place the Negro Leaguers:

1. Gehrig - an easy call
2. Foxx - Not very far behind
3. Murray - Steady Eddie gives me problems. He never had seasons as great as some ranked lower, but had more good ones than almost anybody.
4. Mize - Because my numbers say so, though my heart doubts it
5,6,7 - A-B-C? B-C-A? C-A-B? They run together in my mind but will try to sort them out.
8. McCovey - Scary at his peak, still a little scary after his knees gave way
9. W. Clark - May slide lower when voting time comes
10-13. Another group here that I need to sort out, consisting of Allen, Hernandez, McGwire and Greenberg. Four guys, four wildly different cases.
14. Killebrew - lowest among the power hitters
15-16. Sisler, Terry - both several cuts below the top 14
17. Beckley - I can think of twenty guys I'd rank above him
18. Start - His presence here depends too much on pre-MLB for me
Not ranked yet - Suttles and Leonard
   24. Mark Donelson Posted: May 12, 2008 at 09:19 PM (#2778053)
Prelim, prelim, prelim. Like everyone else, I'm a little fuzzy on precisely where A-B-C should go, and very fuzzy on Start. Beyond the top, oh, two, things could move around anywhere, even dramatically.

1. Gehrig
2. Foxx
3. Connor - peak separates him from Anson, defense from Brouthers
4. Mize
5. Brouthers - I prefer his peak to Anson's career
6. Anson
7. Greenberg
8. Allen
9. Leonard
10. Murray
11. Killebrew
12. McCovey
13. Clark - if I bought into the WS story entirely, he'd be higher
14. Suttles
15. McGwire - no penalties; this is just where he ends up
16. Start??? very unsure still of where to put him
17. Terry - a short but extant peak and apparently good-to-excellent defense--borderline, but doesn't look like a mistake to me
18. Hernandez
19. Sisler - at the lowest borders of my pHOM
20. Beckley - the only one here not in my pHOM
   25. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 13, 2008 at 03:08 AM (#2778604)
DL from MN, yep, that looks right to me.
   26. OCF Posted: May 13, 2008 at 05:26 AM (#2778660)
In post #4, I didn't intend to short Greenberg, I just skipped a line. And Cepeda isn't HoM. Just for the sake of completeness, here is that list repeated:

Gehrig 109 103 102 99 98 97 87 87 81 79 62 54 40 16  5  2 -4
Foxx 
. . 100  95  85 72 70 66 64 62 55 40 35 31 30 29  9  6  2  0 --4
Mize 
. .  85  72  71 68 66 61 59 52 49 48 21 14
McCovey 
98  79  75 71 61 57 50 43 41 31 31 21 21 18 18 18 10  7  5 ---5
McGwire  105  71  70 60 56 55 50 47 47 45 24 15 14 12 
--2
Allen 
. . 90  75  74 65 59 53 50 50 41 34 29 13 ---7
Killebrew 83  78  59 57 57 48 42 38 38 37 36 35 27 16  3  1 
-----7-10
Murray 
.  62  61  58 53 50 40 38 35 33 31 28 28 26 24 23 20 18  6  1-16-19
Clark 
. . 99  81  68 55 47 37 36 35 26 26 20 19 14 10  2
Greenberg 77  76  65 64 63 58 46 30 23 15  6  3
(Cash) . 100  45  45 38 37 33 33 31 29 29 23 21 17 17  5  4
(McGriff60  52  50 45 42 38 38 37 28 25 20 18 16 12 11 10  3  0 -5
(Cepeda)  70  63  55 45 43 42 38 30 26 20 13 12  7  4  3 --6
Hernandez 58  58  53 52 41 40 36 34 34 24 22 18 18  2 
---9
(Chance)  78  66  66 52 41 29 27 24 23 12  8  7  4  2  0  0
(Powell)  64  59  50 50 42 33 30 30 23 21 18 11 10  1 ---5
Terry 
. . 69  68  59 53 47 38 37 35 28 18  8  6  1  0
Sisler 
.  70  68  51 46 44 37 35 15 10 10  5 ----9
Beckley 
38  36  34 29 29 27 24 20 20 20 19 19 15 15 13 10  8  4 -8-11 
   27. sunnyday2 Posted: May 13, 2008 at 10:20 AM (#2778695)
Prelim

1. Gehrig--a pretty easy choice

(gap)

2. Foxx--also a pretty easy choice

(gap)

3. Mize--criminally under-rated by the establishment, clearly preferable to Greenberg
4. McCovey--uneven performance over the years, but even the weaker years were pretty good
5, McGwire--I'm more of a peak voter and what a peak

(slight gap)

6. Anson
7. Brouthers--tempted to rate above Anson based on peak, but can't quite get there
8. Killebrew--under-rated
9. Greenberg--slightly over-rated by history
10. Murray--this hurts, I've had him as high as #4 but the peak is not that high for a 1B

(gap)

11. Start--one of the top 2 position players in the game at his peak
12. Connor--pretty interchangeable with Brouthers
13. Sisler
14. Terry--Sisler-Terry, Terry-Sisler, worthy HoMers
15. Suttles
16. Leonard--Suttles and Leonard a cut below the Mizes and Greenbergs

(gap)

17. Clark--still a solid HoMer
18. Allen--still a solid HoMer
19. Hernandez--not PHoM

(gap)

20. Beckley--not PHoM
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: May 13, 2008 at 12:52 PM (#2778727)
6. Anson
7. Brouthers--tempted to rate above Anson based on peak, but can't quite get there
. . .
12. Connor--pretty interchangeable with Brouthers


This doesn't seem right. Maybe it's a new meaning for "pretty".
   29. DL from MN Posted: May 13, 2008 at 01:29 PM (#2778751)
Suttles ahead of Buck Leonard? Can you enlighten me?
   30. sunnyday2 Posted: May 13, 2008 at 04:39 PM (#2778924)
Paul, I agree with Bob Allen who has the ABC boys 5-6-7 but doesn't know what order to put them in. They're all pretty interchangeable. Though 5-6-7 is a little too high. 'Course I have then 6-7-12. Probably what I would do is take out the (gap) and just say that 6 thrugh 12 are all pretty interchangeable. So Brouthers at 7 and Connor at 12 are pretty interchangeable but there just happen to be 4 other pretty interchangeable guys who end up in between.

In other words, I think ABC is right.

And set them aside and, well, I'm not at all sure that Killebrew-Greenberg-Murray is right. So the whole group is a muddle.

As Suttles and Leonard, does anybody remember what we learned about these guys? I just remember that Suttles was better than I would have thought and Leonard wasn't. Suttles was 3rd on my ballot when he got elected and Leonard was 4th. That's all I know right now.
   31. whoisalhedges Posted: May 13, 2008 at 05:31 PM (#2778998)
Funny, my 1B ballot looks a lot more skewed to the old-timers (whereas my catcher ballot leaned heavily toward more recent backstops).

PRELIMINARY:

Gehrig (not prelim)
Foxx (this won't change, either)
Mize
Anson
Brouthers
Leonard
Greenberg
Connor
McCovey
Allen
Murray
Killebrew
McGwire
Suttles
Start
Clark
Hernandez
Sisler
Terry
Beckley
   32. Chris Cobb Posted: May 13, 2008 at 11:59 PM (#2779443)
Here is some summary Major-League equivalents data copied over from the Buck Leonard thread. It is useful for comparing Leonard and Suttles. The table below gives career rates and counting stats for five of the best Negro-League hitters: Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Mule Suttles, John Beckwith, and Jud Wilson. There were two other long-career players who were similar to this group for whom I never did complete MLEs: Oscar Charleston and Turkey Stearnes. I hope to do them before we get to the CF rankings, since they both will be considered there. I am guessing that they will fall somewhere between Leonard and Gibson, though probably closer to Leonard than to Gibson.

Player...Pos..Begin End...BA.....OBP.....SA....OPS+
Gibson....C...1931-1946..0.327..0.431...0.595..180
Leonard
...1B..1934-1948..0.308..0.417...0.476..145
Suttles
...1B..1923-1941..0.302..0.366...0.538..137
Beckwith
..3B..1919-1935..0.333..0.387...0.522..137
Wilson
....3B..1922-1938..0.336..0.431...0.447..132

Player
....G......PA.....BB.....H.....TB
Gibson
...1930...7837...1210...2165..3941
Leonard
..2081...8669...1358...2255..3477
Suttles
..2420..10163....924...2791..4967
Beckwith.1905
...8010....648...2451..3847
Wilson
...2352...9879...1413...2845..3789 


Cristobal Torriente would probably land in this group as well, though it’s harder to say for sure since half of his career was before 1920, so the statistical record for him is much more fragmentary.

Much more detail about both Leonard and Suttles can be found on their respective threads. I encourage anyone wanting to refresh your memory or get a start on ranking these players to read their threads. The Leonard thread is not all that long, actually. The Suttles thread is longer, but it is more thorough, and also goes into NeL park factors, which are important for interpreting Suttles’ record.
   33. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:18 AM (#2779507)
Prelim

1. Gehrig
2. Anson
3. Foxx
(Bagwell)
4. Connor
5. Brouthers
6. Murray
(Palmeiro)
7. McCovey
8. Clark
9. Allen
10. Mize
11. McGwire
12. Leonard
13. Killebrew
(Perez)
14. Hernandez
(Olerud)
15. Suttles
(McGriff)
16. Greenberg (before anyone asks, the answer is no)
17. Beckley
18. Sisler
(A bunch of guys)
19. Terry
XX. Start

Not sure what to do about Start yet. All but he and Terry are in my PHOM.
   34. OCF Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:23 AM (#2779519)
Greenberg (before anyone asks, the answer is no)

Well, I think the one we would ask you about (WWII issues) would be Mize rather than Greenberg. Mize behind Murray, Clark and Allen seems pretty low to me.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:49 AM (#2779595)
Only have my 1st list so far

These lists do not account for Negro Leagues first basemen Buck Leonard and Mule Suttles.

And we haven't even started yet on defense, baserunning, strength of the era, etc. But it's a start.

OPS+s, batting title-qualifying seasons (3.1 PA per G), can be any position (measure overall hitting effectiveness)

listed in packs of roughly comparable players for various reasons on these prelim numbers

Cap Anson.................197 91 80 78 76 76 62 57 48 48 46 46 42 42 42 34 33 33 26 24 20 20 10 10 08 (92)

Dan Brouthers............206/03 99 90 87 80 79 77 74 68 64 43 32

Roger Connor.............198 85 81 76 71 68 67 62 61 57 51 41 40 28 28 15 11

Lou Gehrig.................221/08 03 94 94 90 81 77 77 76 66 52 32 27

Jimmie Foxx..............205/00 88 86 82 82 73 62 55 50 48 40 39 28

Mark McGwire...........216 00/96 77 76 70 64 43 34 29 03

Dick Allen..................199 81 74 65 64 62 60 51 45 45

Willie McCovey...........209/81 74 64 61 61 59 53 32

Johnny Mize...............178 76 75 72 61 61 60 56 56 (due a lotta war credit)

Hank Greenberg.........172 71 69 69 63 56 56 32 18 (due a lotta war credit)

Harmon Killebrew.......177 74 61 59 57 53 47 45 43 38 38 38 37

Eddie Murray..............158 56 56 56 56 49 40 36 36 30 29 23 20 15 13 11 05 (87 86)

Jake Beckley.............152 44 39 33 33 30 28 28 27 27 26 26 26 24 22 12 12 05 02

Joe Start...................153 44 42 42 36 35 33 25 25 21 17 08 (96 82 74) (due a lot of 1860s credit)

George Sisler.............181 72 61 57 55 40 32 10 10 01 (98 91 85 81)

Will Clark...................175 60 54 52 50 44 40 26 25 23 17 01

Bill Terry....................158 56 49 41 37 35 31 28 25 19

Keith Hernandez.........151 47 43 42 40 31 29 27 25 20 08
   36. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2779614)
Mize behind Murray, Clark and Allen seems pretty low to me.

8-11 are all pretty close. I didn't put too much thought into the prelim.
   37. OCF Posted: May 14, 2008 at 01:12 AM (#2779701)
From my chart in #26: who are the best in each column? That is, who had the best (or second best, or whatever) 7th best year? I'll list the top 6 in each column. Parentheses are for ties; I'll only use positive numbers. I want you to particularly note Mize and note that war credit would have the effect of pushing some of his years further to the right on that chart, making him look better than what I have below.

1. Gehrig, McGwire, (Foxx, Cash), Clark, McCovey
2. Gehrig, Foxx, Clark, McCovey, Killebrew, Allen
3. Gehrig, Foxx, McCovey, Allen, Mize, McGwire
4. Gehrig, Foxx, McCovey, Mize, Allen, Greenberg
5. Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, Greenberg, McCovey, Allen
6. Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, Greenberg, McCovey, McGwire
7. Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, (McCovey, McGwire, Allen)
8. Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, Allen, McGwire, McCovey
9. Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, McGwire, (McCovey, Allen)
10. Gehrig, Mize, McGwire, Foxx, Killebrew, Allen
11. Gehrig, Killebrew, Foxx, McCovey, Allen, Murray
12. Gehrig, Killebrew, Foxx, Murray, (McCovey, Cash)
13. Gehrig, Foxx, Killebrew, Murray, McCovey, Cash
14. Foxx, Murray, McCovey, Cash, (Gehrig, Killebrew)
15. Murray, McCovey, Beckley, McGriff, Foxx, Gehrig
16. Murray, McCovey, (Beckley, McGriff), Foxx, Gehrig
17. Murray, McCovey, Beckley, McGriff, Foxx
18. McCovey, Murray, Beckley
19. McCovey, Murray
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: May 14, 2008 at 02:19 AM (#2779908)
I like it

by my first measure (friendly to oldtimers, not fair to war or 1860s guys)

1. Gehrig, McGwire, McCovey, Brouthers, Foxx, Allen
2. Gehrig, Brouthers, McGwire, Foxx, Anson, Connor
3. Gehrig, Brouthers, McGwire, Foxx, Connor, Anson
4. Gehrig, Brouthers, Foxx, Anson, McGwire, Connor
5. Gehrig, Brouthers, Foxx, Anson, McGwire, Connor
6. Gehrig, Foxx, Brouthers, Anson, McGwire, Connor
7. Gehrig, Brouthers, Foxx, Connor, McGwire, Anson
8. Gehrig, Brouthers, Foxx, Connor, Anson, Mize
9. Gehrig, Brouthers, Connor, Mize, Foxx, Anson
10.Gehrig, Brouthers, Connor, Foxx, Anson, Allen
11.Gehrig, Brouthers, Connor, Foxx, Anson, Killebrew
12.Gehrig, Anson, Brouthers, Connor, Foxx, Killebrew
13.Anson, Connor, Foxx, Killebrew, Gehrig, Brouthers
14.Anson, Foxx, Connor, Gehrig, Beckley, Murray
15.Anson, Connor, Beckley, Murray, Start
16.Anson, Connor, Beckley, Murray
17.Anson, Connor, Beckley, Murray
18.Anson, Beckley, Murray
19.Anson, Beckley, Murray
20.Anson
21.Anson
22.Anson
23.Anson
24.Anson
25.Anson
26.Anson
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: May 14, 2008 at 05:10 AM (#2780059)
31. whoisalhedges Posted: May 13, 2008 at 01:31 PM (#2778998)
Funny, my 1B ballot looks a lot more skewed to the old-timers (whereas my catcher ballot leaned heavily toward more recent backstops).


Even Bill James ranks Anson, Brouthers, and Connor highly: #11, #16, and #22 at firstbase (or #9, #14, and #18 among those eligible for the Cooperstown and the HOM).
At catcher he ranks Ewing #17.
At all the other fielding positions, including pitcher, there isn't another player with a career centered before 1893 whom he ranks in the top 25. No one with debut before 1888 (Hamilton, Delahanty, Duffy).
   40. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:26 PM (#2780139)
Where's Nick Esasky?


Fishing? Bowling? Spelunking?
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 14, 2008 at 12:51 PM (#2780150)
Prelim:

Gehrig
Anson
Brouthers
Mize
Foxx
Connor
McCovey
Greenberg
McGwire
Allen
Leonard
Murray
Killebrew
Hernandez
Clark
Sisler
Start
Terry
Beckley
Suttles
   42. DanG Posted: May 14, 2008 at 01:55 PM (#2780226)
Where's Nick Esasky?

The breakout season spurred heavy interest in the free-agent market, and Esasky -- who lived in Georgia -- eventually inked a three-year contract with the Braves worth $5.6 million.
Soon after Opening Day, Esasky developed an inner ear infection that caused vertigo and the debilitating dizziness that followed quickly removed him from the starting lineup. His ninth game with the Braves -- on April 21, 1990 -- was his last in the major leagues.
   43. OCF Posted: May 14, 2008 at 06:28 PM (#2780588)
Hmm: AJM has Mize behind Murray, McCovey, Clark, and Allen. John Murphy has Mize ahead of Foxx. Both are rather provocative positions; everyone else who has posted a prelim (and I'll be with them) has Mize third among 20th century MLB players behind Gehrig and Foxx. (There are other differences involving the placement of A-B-C and Leonard; it's understandable why there would be differences there.)
   44. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 14, 2008 at 08:24 PM (#2780787)
John Murphy has Mize ahead of Foxx.


I might change that by next week, OCF. Even with WWII credit, Foxx would still have more PA and he did play 3B and C.

I do think Mize was as good of a hitter (without Foxx's peak, though WII might have damaged that).
   45. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: May 14, 2008 at 08:47 PM (#2780828)
What is the ruling on ties? I have two players on my worksheet that are so close I wouldn't feel right picking one over the other (561.398 to 561.387).

Of course, if ties aren't allowed, I'll have to make a decision.
   46. Esteban Rivera Posted: May 14, 2008 at 09:18 PM (#2780884)
What is the ruling on ties? I have two players on my worksheet that are so close I wouldn't feel right picking one over the other (561.398 to 561.387).

Of course, if ties aren't allowed, I'll have to make a decision.


I'd try to avoid ties. In this case, look at other criteria. Did either of them play other positions? Did one of them face slighly weaker competition than the other? Did one of them play in a DH league? Is there any credit that either may deserve, such as war credit or minors credit from before the minors became how they are today? Did one accumulate that value in more full seasons than partial seasons? Did one get platooned more than the other?

These are some suggestions in breaking the tie. Of course, however you feel most comfortable should be the correct way to go.
   47. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: May 14, 2008 at 09:51 PM (#2780969)
On my prelim ballot, I'll leave them tied and make a decision later.

1. Lou Gehrig
T2. Dan Brouthers
T2. Cap Anson
4. Jimmie Foxx
5. Johnny Mize
6. Roger Connor
7. Hank Greenberg
8. Harmon Killebrew
9. Mark McGwire
10. Willie McCovey
11. Eddie Murray
12. Buck Leonard
13. Dick Allen
14. Jake Beckley
15. Mule Suttles
16. George Sisler
17. Will Clark
18. Bill Terry
19. Joe Start
20. Keith Hernandez
   48. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: May 15, 2008 at 02:39 PM (#2781734)
Studes posted offensive rankings from Michael Schell on THT today. I was curious to see how the HOM 1B compared:

Gehrig--55.6
Foxx--47.1
Connor--37.4
Brouthers--37.4
McGwire--37.2
McCovey--36.4
Killebrew--35.4
Mize--33.3
Allen--33.0
Murray--32.8
Clark--28.0
Greenberg--27.5
Anson--26.1
Hernandez--24.6
Terry--22.3
Beckley--19.2
Sisler--16.3

Not ranked: Leonard, Start, Suttles
   49. TomH Posted: May 15, 2008 at 02:44 PM (#2781740)
wow, Anson's ##s from Schell are low compared with Brouthers and Connor. Does he not count pre-1876? Is longevity a teeny factor with Schell (I note McGwire very high)?
   50. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: May 15, 2008 at 02:54 PM (#2781747)
It's strictly average career value, so no credit given for longevity or peak. And it also doesn't take into account defense or baserunning. So needless to say, it should not be used as an exclusive rating--but it's interesting nonetheless.

What I found most interesting was how well Killebrew did. And it confirmed for this Giants fan that McCovey >> Clark (although Clark is still a worth HOM 1B).
   51. DL from MN Posted: May 15, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2781820)
Nobody really disputed McCovey > Clark offensively, it's the defense (and to a lesser extent baserunning) where McCovey gives it all away and Clark makes up ground.
   52. jimd Posted: May 15, 2008 at 10:00 PM (#2782593)
It's strictly average career value

Average per season? Or per N games played?
   53. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 12:29 AM (#2782686)
I'm not nearly far enough along to actually post up a ballot here, but I do have a couple of notes and questions.

1. What is the source for the Negro league MLEs that people cite here? My understanding from another forum (for the Cadaco All-Star Baseball game, of all things) is that there was some sort of huge NgL data gathering project, but that the data has yet to be published. If it has been published, one of the nicest guys on that forum is going to be ecstatic. So please let me know - is there a published source for a huge upgrade in the amount of NgL data out there? Are there real MLEs based on serious percentages of stats? And if so, where can I find them? My ranking of Biz Mackey seems to be completely at odds with the mainstream here, and I do know that part of the reason is that you guys seem to have MLEs that you trust, whereas I don't.

2. Someone got snarky about my opinion of Deacon White (which is fair, given how far my opinion varies from the norm here), and mentioned some phrase like "noted slap hitter Cap Anson." So I looked up Anson and you know what? If you're just talking about the 1870s (when Deacon White was catching), Anson IS a slap hitter. Here are some highlights: Anson played full time all 5 years of the NA. He hit not one home run in that time. In 1876, he hit 2, one to celebrate the formation of the League, and one to celebrate Hulbert's surrounding him with an All-Star team pillaged from Boston like the vandals sacking Rome. Apparently unhappy with having to run all four bases at one time, he took three years off from hitting any homers, and then hit one in each year from 1880 to 1882. He hit none in 1883, giving him a then total of five for his 13 seasons of play. To compare, Deacon White had hit 10 taters by 1883. Buck Ewing had played a bit over 3 years by then, and had hit 12, although his big season of ten does skew the distribution there. But then, so does the playing time. Charlie Bennett had hit 18 homers in his five full seasons through 83. Anson, of course, hit 21 during 1884's Lakefront Fiasco, and something there seems to have completely changed his approach to offense. After 84, Cap is good for 7 to 12 homers every year until 1891. I have no idea what happened there. Perhaps 1884 opened Cap's eyes to the possibility of hitting homers. And yes, I did look at triples. As far as I can tell, Anson's triples numbers are normal for a good player playing full time. But they're not high enough to make up for lack of homers. His doubles numbers are high, as far as I can tell. Perhaps the doubles were Lakefront Doubles, where Cap hit the ball over the fence, but that was a double in Lakefront. Or perhaps that was where his power lay at the time - what we'd call line-drive power. In any case, until 1884, I'm willing to defend that Anson was a slap hitter with very high batting averages, very few homers, what seems to be a reasonable number of triples, and what seems to be a high number of doubles. Please note that I am not downgrading Cap Anson. He'll rank high in my ballot because his career is his career, no matter how it divides up. And I will quickly admit that the teams he played for in the 1870s did not hit many homers as teams, even compared to other teams of the time. But in a context of the 1870s, Cap Anson is just not the hitter he's remembered as. That happens after 1884. Does anyone actually know what happened there? It would sure help my ranking of him if I knew what was going on.

3. I have no idea what to do with Joe Start or his contemporaries, given what I've read here. Are we supposed to cover baseball from the 1860s as though the professional teams of that period were in major leagues? Are we supposed to make some sort of "informed instinct" adjustment to the ranking? I'm not sure what to do, and I know next to nothing about pre-1870 baseball. Could someone please give me a clue? Thanks!

4. On Ernie Banks. Yes, I know this is all for fun, but I did turn up an oddity when I looked Ernie up. His last season as a shortstop happened to be 1961, which also happened to be the last year the National League (as opposed to the AL) played a 154-game schedule. This means that, if you're comparing Banks' playing time at first to at short, you should amortize all his shortstop games by a factor of 162/154. Banks played 1125 games at short. Amortizing, I get 1183 games at short, compared to 1259 games at first. Worse, Ernie played only 11 games anywhere except first after 1961, for a total of 1270. While a shortstop, Ernie played 88 games at other positions, minus the 7 of those 88 which were at first, and those remaining 81 also have to be amortized, coming to 85. Added to 1183, that comes to 1268. In short (sorry), if you amortize for the schedule increase and count all games played everywhere, Ernie played a whole two games more while a first baseman than while a shortstop, and 7 of those 2 were played while he was a starting shortstop. At this point, I consider the two positions equal in terms of playing time, and so certainly would consider Ernie to be a shortstop. There's no balancing act to be performed juggling his best value position against his most playing time position. Playing time is equal, so value rules.
   54. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 01:41 AM (#2782740)
What is the source for the Negro league MLEs that people cite here?

The MLEs we use are derived from our own work. Most of the calculations were done by me and by Eric Chalek. You can find them on the threads for the individual Negro-League players. You can find those threads by going to the home page for the Hall of Merit, then clicking on the "Important Links" link. That takes you to a page with an index of links, one of which is to "Links to Discussions of Negro League Candidates." If you click on that link, you go to a page with an alphabetical listing of all the Negro-League players who have received independent discussion for the Hall of Merit. These threads provide a lot of raw data, and the threads for most of the serious candidates include MLEs.

The MLEs are based on the best data available at the time they were calculated. The big project to which you refer is a project organized under the auspices of the Hall of Fame to compile data including all available official league games from the major Negro Leagues. That data has not yet been made public in total, but seasonal data (including some league averages) was published for all of the players who made the final ballot for the big Negro League catch-up election the HoF held a couple of years ago. That HoF data has been used in a few cases, but most of our work was done before that was released. Our data is drawn variously from several sources. The main source is the Macmillan Encyclopedia 8th & 10th editions. This is supplemented by published league stats provided to us by NeL researchers, by John Holway's _Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues_ (which is rarely useful for individual seasonal stats, but provides the broadest view of league offensive levels available in the absence of full league statistics), by statistics from the Cuban Winter League, Mexican League, Puerto Rican Winter League , and integrated minor leagues(where applicable), and by original research for selected seasons derived from box scores, provided mainly by Gary A. These last were extraordinarily helpful for the seasons they covered, since they included league averages, solid walks data, and even raw park factors. The numbers we used are certainly subject to some error, but we have not found a case where the data we used and the data released by the HoF project have been in major disagreement (which I would define as leading to very different assessments of the player's quality). They differ in many matters of detail, but not in the overall pictures they create. The only exception to this agreement concerns bases on balls. Data on walks were very scarce prior to the HoF data's release, so our projections of walk rates were based on just a couple of seasons in most cases. The HoF has provided full data here. This fuller data set changed our view of one player, Dick Lundy, who was elected when it was discovered that his plate discipline was considerably better than we had inferred it to be.

Aside from the quality of the underlying data, the key factor in the reliability of the MLEs is the conversion factor applied. The basic conversion factors were derived from the records of players who played in the Negro Leagues and who played at least three full seasons in the major leagues. The players' NeL performances were adjusted for league offense levels, and all were also adjusted for age effects. We were able to cross-check this conversion factor for the 1920s by looking at the Cuban Winter League, which, since it had players from both the majors and the NeL in it, provided a place for comparison. These suggested that our factors were about right for the 1920s. Data for the 1930s is harder to come by, and we think our factors are probably a bit harsh for the period of the East-West League, when contraction raised the level of competition. My MLEs also use regression to the mean, based on five-year rolling averages, to adjust for the small samples available for many NeL seasons.

The discussions in which the methodology was substantially worked out appear in the John Beckwith thread, but many small alterations were discussed and documented elsewhere.

To our knowledge, the breadth of data gathered, the thorough vetting of the methodology, and the application of the best sabermetric tools the data allowed us to employ makes these MLEs the best available view of the quality of the Negro League players currently available. They could certainly be improved by the better data that we earnestly hope the HoF will bring into print soon, and by the more powerful statistical methods that fuller data would enable, but the methodology has consistently produced results that appear both reasonable and consistent with careful sifting of the anecdotal evidence.
   55. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 01:52 AM (#2782747)
Dear Chris Cobb and all the people who worked with him - WOW!!! Thank you!!! I had absolutely NO idea that anyone had done this vast amount of work, rather than waiting for the HoF to get its act in gear. I do want you to know that I have every intention of using your MLEs as the basis for my NgL rankings until something better comes along. I knew I was playing in a tough peer group here who did their work and took it seriously, but I had NO idea. Again, THANKS! - Brock
   56. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 01:58 AM (#2782750)
Someone got snarky about my opinion of Deacon White (which is fair, given how far my opinion varies from the norm here), and mentioned some phrase like "noted slap hitter Cap Anson." So I looked up Anson and you know what? If you're just talking about the 1870s (when Deacon White was catching), Anson IS a slap hitter.

As the snarker, I should note was that the point of the snark is that, in the 1870s, everyone was a slap hitter, if you evaluate their hitting stats according to the standards of the modern game. Walks were virtually non-existent, the ball was pitched underhand and was, compared to a modern ball, very soft. Hence, driving the ball was a lot more difficult than under later conditions. Home runs were, therefore, almost non-existent also. In addition, the fair-foul rule gave the hitter a much wider range of options for placing hits than batters would enjoy after the rule change, so placement was as good (or better) a source of extra-base hits as power. Overall, then, "power" in the modern sense was a small factor in this game, because conditions simply didn't permit it. Hitters who could drive and/or place the ball would get a higher number of doubles and triples and occasionally home runs. It doesn't make sense, then, to evaluate a player who was obviously an outstanding hitter under these conditions as if he were a modern slap-hitter who is not capable of hitting for power. White produced as much offensively as anyone during his prime, and that's what had value, not what "kind" of hitter he was.

White, and, more spectacularly, Anson, showed that they were not limited to one style of play as they adapted to the different hitting conditions of the 1880s (what happened over the course of that decade, in short, was that pitchers were permitted to throw overhand and so pitched a lot faster, the number of balls needed for a walk dropped, and the ball got harder, so that driving the ball became more meaningful, as did walks and strikeouts: others here can give a fuller answer than I), and they remained effective hitters. To see what the careers of hitters who couldn't really adapt look like, check out guys like Dave Eggler and Davy Force: they were offensive stars until the NA rules who turned into offensive non-entities in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Force had a long career anyway because of his great glove, but he was a very weak hitter after an early peak. White's career shows a different path.
   57. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 02:03 AM (#2782756)
Again, THANKS! - Brock

You're welcome. Although I ran a lot of the numbers, the credit really belongs to the whole group, because it was the broad discussion of issues and the many hands contributing data from many different sources that made it all possible.

As you read through our work, if you have questions or suggestions, please bring them up. The pace of work on the NeL MLEs has slowed down greatly (almost to a standstill in the last year), but it is still an ongoing part of the HoM.
   58. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 02:11 AM (#2782765)
I have no idea what to do with Joe Start or his contemporaries, given what I've read here. Are we supposed to cover baseball from the 1860s as though the professional teams of that period were in major leagues? Are we supposed to make some sort of "informed instinct" adjustment to the ranking? I'm not sure what to do, and I know next to nothing about pre-1870 baseball. Could someone please give me a clue? Thanks!

I'll leave the description of pre-1870 baseball and considerations of how to deal with it to others, but I'll take the opportunity to put up a post that I've been working on for the past couple of days that shows one way to approach the problem. Here's what I was planning to post when I got to the site and found Brock's set of excellent questions and comments:

-------------

The big questions for Joe Start’s candidacy have to do with how much credit to give him for the first decade of his career, 1861-70. I won’t go into the arguments about whether play before the beginning of the NA and, indeed, before the beginning of openly professional baseball ought in principle to be credited. I and most of the electorate have concluded that it ought to be, and I will leave it at that for this post. However, it is impossible to turn the meager statistics available for pre-1871 play into sophisticated sabermetric measurements of quality and value. It seems to me, therefore, that assessment by analogy seems the best way to get a handle on Joe Start’s qualities as ballplayer, and that’s what this post is mainly about.

I will note, however, that it can be readily gleaned from the available statistics (as Paul Wendt has done on the Joe Start thread) that Start was the best hitter on the Brooklyn Atlantics from 1865-69 and that the Brooklyn Atlantics were pretty much the best team in baseball during the first three years of that stretch, and among the best teams over the last two. It’s very likely, then, that Start has a peak as one of the top players in baseball during this period (best hitter on best team is likely sign of being one of the top players). The pool is thin, but Dickey Pearce was an established star, George Wright was on the rise (I would say Wright passes Start as the best player in the game about 1867 or 8 and holds that distinction until Ross Barnes peaked in the early 1870s), and Lip Pike was beginning to make an impact by 1868-9, and there were other standout players whose careers were limited mainly to the 1860s. Start was known as a star (we have anecdotes from King Kelly about going to see Joe Start play when he was a boy), so the anecdotal evidence matches the statistical evidence that far at least.

Given that Start probably has his main peak at a fairly early age (22-26), as players in those days usually peaked early, what needs to be assessed by analogy is how high that peak was and how it would contribute to his overall career value. I’ll look at both these issues, taking the second one first.

To see what Start’s career totals might well have looked like, I have calculated OPS+ values for all of the “long-career” HoM first basemen, plus Tony Perez. I define “long-career” as anyone who played as a regular through at least age 38. The table below lists those players, the dates of their career, their age 28+ seasons, their age when they peaked offensively, their career OPS+ and their OPS+ from their age 28 season on.


Player......career...28yrs..ages...peak age....career OPS+...28OPS+
Joe Start...1861-86..1871-86..28-43..22-26.......???????.......121
Cap Anson
...1871-97..1880-97..28-45..29-36.......141...........140
R
Connor...1880-97..1886-97..28-39..24-30.......153...........150
J
Beckley..1888-07..1896-07..28-39..20-23?......125...........123
M
Suttles..1923-41..1929-41..28-40..24-30.......137...........132
B
Leonard..1934-48..1936-48..28-40..28-32.......145...........147
W
McCovey..1959-80..1966-80..28-42..27-32.......147...........148
Tony Perez
..1964-86..1970-86..28-44..27-31.......122...........122
E
Murray...1977-97..1984-97..28-41..25-29.......129...........122 


Analysis: All long-career HoM first basemen who peaked before age 27 have a career OPS+ that is 2-7 points higher than their 28+ OPS+. Long-career first basemen who peaked starting age 27 or later have a career OPS+ that is within 2 points of their 28+ OPS+. This data would suggest that Start’s career OPS+, if full data were available pre-1871, would fall in the range of 123-128.

Now, let’s look at some data addressing the first question: how high Start’s early peak was likely to have been?

Career vs. Peak OPS+
Suttles 137, 219, 186, 153, 152, 142, 125. Top diffs = 82, 49
Anson 141, 191, 180, 178, 176, 176, 148, 146, 120. Top diffs = 50, 39
Connor 153, 198, 185, 181, 176, 171, 161, 141. Top diffs = 45, 32
Beckley 125, 157, 152, 127, 126. Top diffs = 32, 27
Leonard 145, 176, 171, 167, 148, 143. Top diffs = 31, 26
McCovey 147, 209, 181, 174, 164, 159, 153. Top diffs = 52, 34
Perez 122, 159, 158, 145, 140, 120. Top diffs = 37, 36
Murray 129, 156, 156, 156, 156, 149. Top diffs = 27, 27

NA/ML seasons only, ML peak 1877-82, ages 34-39
Start 121, 153, 144, 142, 142, 133, 125. Top diffs = 32, 23

Analysis: The best peak seasons, setting aside Mule Suttles’ one enormous outlier, seem to top out at appx. 50 points above career OPS+. These big seasons were all produced, however, by the big boppers: Anson, Connor, McCovey, and Suttles. For the rest, top performance is 27-37 points above career OPS+. This seems like a more likely range for Start, an idea that is reinforced by the height of his late peak.

These comparisons would suggest, then, that Start’s 1865-69 peak probably topped out at around 160, a bit better than the 153 he put up in 1878 at age 35, but nothing comparable to the peak seasons of the big boppers.

Even though he was one of the best baseball players at his peak, comparisons of him to his most similar players do not suggest that he dominated the game offensively after the fashion of Connor or McCovey during their primes. His peak seems likely to have been strong, but his case is probably stronger as a career case than as a peak case.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: May 16, 2008 at 02:32 AM (#2782778)
Wow, great stuff as always, Chris Cobb.

I tend to think of Start as the Murray type - fair to say that your analysis gets you there?

And good questions here on what the heck to do with Start.
It's literally been years since we went after that....
   60. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:48 AM (#2782836)
I tend to think of Start as the Murray type - fair to say that your analysis gets you there?

Yes. I see the two players whose profiles Start most resembles as Murray and Beckley. In terms of quality he is somewhere between these two, I think. He's Beckley with a somewhat better peak and 30% more career; He's a lot like Murray offensively but in a much higher standard-deviation environment, but with more defensive value, and a longer career.
   61. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 04:20 AM (#2782858)
Chris -

Boy. Thank you so much for all the very useful info. The stuff on Stark is so good that I think I might actually have a feel for what he was like. Great job there.

Regarding Anson, you said (there is lots of context):
"As the snarker, I should note was that the point of the snark is that, in the 1870s, everyone was a slap hitter, if you evaluate their hitting stats according to the standards of the modern game." I could not agree with you more. However, what I was trying to say is that, even by the woeful power standards of the 1870s, Anson and White are still slap hitters. Both of them have very high offensive values, but both are mostly driven by batting average. Just so you can get a hold of how I started thinking about this, here's the start of my process:

The first thing I did was look the players up in Total Baseball and check for bold face type. You know, the bold face that says league leader for the year. Neither White nor Anson has much. The Deacon has 11 pieces of bold type in his career, and all but three (one batting title and 2 rbi titles) are in 1877, the year he mostly played first base. Normally, I would cut a catcher a big break on that, because of playing time, but White was playing every day. Anson has noticably more, but about half of it is after 1884, and much of the rest is either from 1881, which is his huge year, or is RBI, which are a suspicious stat, if we really are to believe that he used his manager position to decide whether to bat in the first inning or not. If you look up the really superdominant hitters - Musial, Mays, Williams, Ruth - their stat boxes are just littered with boldface. And so I decided that neither White nor Anson was all that superdominant.

The other thing that bothered me about White is that he is not the dominant hitter on his own team, nor is he second, and the whole team's hitters may be a little overrated. Granted, that Boston outfit either had the best hitters' park in the game or all the league's superstars, but White does not stand out among the assorted George Wrights and O'Rourke's and McVeys and Barnses. If anything, Barnes is the A student, with White one of the Bs, along with Wright, McVey and O'Rourke. Then I looked at 1876, the one year when White and Anson were both on the same Chicago team. White led the league in RBI, with 60. Hines, Barnes, and Anson have 59, and McVey has 53, and they are all on Chicago. White is hardly dominating here. Other than that, neither Anson nor White led the team, much less the league, in anything. Mostly, Barnes did.

If you look, you'll see that when TB lists Adjusted Batter Runs next to Batter Runs, the Boston guys always drop down a bit. Occasionally, Lip Pike or someone else from another team will vault over the Boston guys in the transfer from Batter Runs to Adjusted BR. Now, if I understand "Adjusted" correctly, TB is trying to tell us that Boston had a hitters' park, so all the Boston guys may have some gas in their stats. I also had to just discount Runs Scored and RBI, because there were so many bats on the Boston roster that those totals were always high due to the synergy of having all those other top hitters around you. Then there's 1876 again. Barnes leads the league in Batter Runs, with 50. Second place is Philadelphia's Hall, with 29. Anson is third, with 24. White is not among the top 5. But when the Adjusted Batter Runs get their list, Barnes adjusts down to 39 from his 50, which is an enormous hit. Anson disappears from the leader board entirely.

In any case, I did decide early that Anson and White were at least one step below the absolute first-ballot gods of baseball. And I did that by examining their stats in the context of their time, not by comparing them to later players. What I would really like to read is your comment on all this. It's very superficial - just the start of a serious analysis - but I think some of the points are telling. I always like to look for bold type and I always like to look for a player's standing on his own team, and I always try to find ballpark adjustments. So, I imagine, does everyone else. So the question is did I do a good job of looking there, or did I just miss a bunch of stuff I should have seen?
   62. Paul Wendt Posted: May 16, 2008 at 05:45 AM (#2782900)
On ratings by Michael Schell
53. jimd Posted: May 15, 2008 at 06:00 PM (#2782593)
> It's strictly average career value

Average per season? Or per N games played?


In his "Best Hitters" book Schell uses rates per at bat or plate appearance --akin to the batting, on-base, and slugging averages and virtualy kin to OPS+. He truncates all careers at 8000 ab or pa and makes a good case for that in chapter 1, part 1, whatever. If he maintains truncation today, that is quite significant for some players, such as Eddie Murray and Hank Aaron.
   63. Howie Menckel Posted: May 16, 2008 at 05:48 AM (#2782902)
bj,
are you looking at adj OPS+?

in low-HR eras, sometimes it smokes out the best 'power' hitters
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:27 AM (#2782912)
Brock:
If you look, you'll see that when TB lists Adjusted Batter Runs next to Batter Runs, the Boston guys always drop down a bit. Occasionally, Lip Pike or someone else from another team will vault over the Boston guys in the transfer from Batter Runs to Adjusted BR. Now, if I understand "Adjusted" correctly, TB is trying to tell us that Boston had a hitters' park, so all the Boston guys may have some gas in their stats.

Yes, but the Total Baseball "park factors" PPF and BPF account for the advantage or disadvantage of playing only the other teams (equally, by assumption) rather than ones own. That part of the adjustment is separately for batters and pitcher, which is why there are two "park factors". According to Pete Palmer, a 10% ballpark effect is common and a 1% teammate effect is common. But the Boston teams of 1870s probably exceed that. (See next item.)

I also had to just discount Runs Scored and RBI, because there were so many bats on the Boston roster that those totals were always high due to the synergy of having all those other top hitters around you.

Yes, yes, although you must visit the 1878 team, Harry Wright's last champion. How can a team win the pennant with OPS+ 79 and average-plus pitching? One answer is spelled out on the Ezra Sutton page, which is very short.

In any case, I did decide early that Anson and White were at least one step below the absolute first-ballot gods of baseball. And I did that by examining their stats in the context of their time, not by comparing them to later players. What I would really like to read is your comment on all this.

OK as far as it goes.
(Too late for me. Good night.)
   65. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:37 AM (#2782914)
Howie Menckel asks, "bj,
are you looking at adj OPS+?

in low-HR eras, sometimes it smokes out the best 'power' hitters"

It's worth a try, and I'll do that when I get the first base ballot done. I'm used to thinking of things like OPS, adjusted or not, as mostly sorting out the high average hitters when there's no power and no walks. Anson and White are hardly short of batting average. But you may be right. I'll take a look.
   66. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:51 AM (#2782916)
Paul Wendt, who is surely making me work for my respect (that was a compliment, BTW), says, "Yes, yes, although you must visit the 1878 team, Harry Wright's last champion. How can a team win the pennant with OPS+ 79 and average-plus pitching? One answer is spelled out on the Ezra Sutton page, which is very short."

I could not find the Ezra Sutton page, although I'll try again tomorrow. As for 1878, I do believe the answer is "they won it with pitching and defense." Their pitcher was Tommy Bond. Bond only finished 5th in ERA, but he led the league in innings pitched (532.2), and the only guy who is close (Larkin, 506) is not on the ERA leader board at all. Will White finished third in both ERA and IP, and yep, his team finished second. But the real clue is that, although Bonds' ERA is only 5th, his team's runs allowed are first, by 40 runs in a 60-game schedule. And sure enough, they have two players (Burdock and Wright) on the Fielding Runs leader board. So the factors would be 1) Boston's best pitcher pitched a lot more innings than the best pitcher on any other contender, and 2) the team didn't give up as many unearned runs as any other team. In general, I have found that factor #1 - the number of innings you actually get out of your ace - is very very important in winning pennants in the 19th century. The reason is that there are often huge gaps between pitcher workloads in this period. Ezra Sutton. Hmmm.
   67. bjhanke Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:58 AM (#2782918)
Paul also said, "Yes, but the Total Baseball "park factors" PPF and BPF account for the advantage or disadvantage of playing only the other teams (equally, by assumption) rather than ones own. That part of the adjustment is separately for batters and pitcher, which is why there are two "park factors". According to Pete Palmer, a 10% ballpark effect is common and a 1% teammate effect is common. But the Boston teams of 1870s probably exceed that."

Thank you. I had never thought of this "teammate effect" at all in this context. I promise to add it to my toolkit for quick analysis, and for detail as well. You DO earn your respect, don't you?
   68. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:11 PM (#2783102)
Yes. I see the two players whose profiles Start most resembles as Murray and Beckley. In terms of quality he is somewhere between these two, I think. He's Beckley with a somewhat better peak and 30% more career; He's a lot like Murray offensively but in a much higher standard-deviation environment, but with more defensive value, and a longer career.


Just about where I have him also, Chris.
   69. Mark Donelson Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:19 PM (#2783111)
Just about where I have him also, Chris.

Me, too, though I'm feeling a whole lot better about it after Chris's post. (Am I the only one here who sometimes thinks Chris should be appointed to the Supreme Court or something?)
   70. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:24 PM (#2783115)
However, what I was trying to say is that, even by the woeful power standards of the 1870s, Anson and White are still slap hitters.


Anson's park-adjusted ISO was above the league average, while White's was about leage average. Therefore, they weren't slap hitters in their era.

As Chris mentioned above, Davy Force was a true slap hitter.
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:26 PM (#2783118)
(Am I the only one here who sometimes thinks Chris should be appointed to the Supreme Court or something?)


He'd probably write up some well written opinions, now that you mention it, Mark.
   72. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:28 PM (#2783123)
I could not find the Ezra Sutton page, although I'll try again tomorrow.


He's filed under "Selected 19th Century Players," Brock.
   73. Paul Wendt Posted: May 16, 2008 at 03:44 PM (#2783141)
> According to Pete Palmer, a 10% ballpark effect is common and a 1% teammate effect is common.
> But the Boston teams of 1870s probably exceed that."

Thank you. I had never thought of this "teammate effect" at all in this context. I promise to add it to my toolkit for quick analysis, and for detail as well. You DO earn your respect, don't you?


More on the Teammate Effects in Palmer park factors, which are also used at baseball-reference
Many teams exceed 10% and 1% or they wouldn't be common.
Suppose one team in an eight-team league is 14% above league average at scoring runs, or batting and baserunning.
When that team is in the field it faces "offenses" that are 2% below league average, on average. The ratio is 7:1, seven other teams to this one team. (This one team is 16% above the average of the other seven. There a ratio 8:1 can be seen.)

Now for the big jumps.
-1- Suppose we focus on the batter-pitcher matchup, as if baserunning and fielding don't matter (but it is closer to the truth that they are noise we can't measure).
-2- Suppose OPS+ and ERA+ measure the abilities of batters and pitchers on the runs scale.

Now consider one team with OPS+ 114 in an eight-team league. Its pitchers face batters with average OPS+ 98 so they benefit by 2% on the ERA+ scale because they do not face their teammates as batters.

Application: Tommy Bond in 1878 benefits by 3% on the ERA+ sale because he does not face those 79 OPS+ teammates as batters. He faces batters with average OPS+ 103.

There is at least a small jump here (3). Granting a balanced schedule and big jumps 1 and 2, this is still only an approximation. The calculations are all simultaneous. Those team ERA+ and OPS+ already incorporate teammate effects.
   74. OCF Posted: May 16, 2008 at 04:22 PM (#2783201)
I expressed some skepticism about Boston 1878 in post #118 of this thread:

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/ranking_hall_of_merit_players_not_in_the_hall_of_fame_group_3/P100/

Maybe there is some giant coincidence involved, but having nearly every individual on the team suffer a large offensive dropoff, and having the team win the pennant anyway ... something is weird there.
   75. DCW3 Posted: May 16, 2008 at 04:45 PM (#2783237)
Just out of curiosity--if Musial had been classified as a 1B, would he be the consensus #1 among this group? Would anyone take Gehrig ahead of him?
   76. OCF Posted: May 16, 2008 at 05:19 PM (#2783269)
Offensively, I have it as a very close call: Gehrig with more peak (which really means "longer peak" or "more peak years"), Musial with a career advantage. But offense isn't everything, and Musial has a substantial defensive advantage over Gehrig (primarily coming from his ability to play the outfield and play it well.)
   77. DL from MN Posted: May 16, 2008 at 05:32 PM (#2783282)
> Would anyone take Gehrig ahead of <Musial>?

I wouldn't, but I'm a career voter. Gehrig had a pretty abrupt career end.
   78. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:07 PM (#2783318)
Musial over Gehrig, and it's not that close.
   79. OCF Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2783328)
That causes a look-ahead question to occur to me. I suppose that when we do the position-by-position vote, we will probably separate the LF from the RF, and force all of the borderline cases (Joe Jackson, Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson, and, yes, Musial) into one bin or the other. For my own sake, I have never preserved the distinction between LF and RF. They're all one list to me. The one thing I'll ask of whoever posts that discussion thread: can you list both all of the LF and all of the RF in the header or an early post? What I'll probably do is rank the whole list of LF/RF and then extract from that ordered list my particular ballots.
   80. Mark Donelson Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:40 PM (#2783368)
I wouldn't, but I'm a career voter.

I wouldn't either, and I'm a peak voter. Probably closer for me than for the career folks, but it's not a squeaker or anything.
   81. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:45 PM (#2783374)
The one thing I'll ask of whoever posts that discussion thread: can you list both all of the LF and all of the RF in the header or an early post?


I would be totally against doing that, OCF, since they're not the same position (however similar they may appear to be - a good left fielder will not necessarily be a good right fielder). Unless Joe decides he wants to do it that way, I probably won't.

I know it's not a big deal, OCF :-), but combining those two positions has been a big bugaboo of mine for decades now.
   82. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:47 PM (#2783378)
BTW, I would also take Musial over Gehrig. However, if Gehrig hadn't beein inflicted with ALS, I doubt that would be the case.
   83. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 06:49 PM (#2783383)
Playing time is equal, so value rules


Value should always rule, Brock, IMO.
   84. OCF Posted: May 16, 2008 at 07:37 PM (#2783439)
Leaving the pitching out of it, did Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth really play different positions?
   85. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2783567)
Leaving the pitching out of it, did Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth really play different positions?


In that specific case, OCF, you do have a point (though Jackson did play a significant amount of games in center compared to his game total in right and left).
   86. sunnyday2 Posted: May 17, 2008 at 04:03 AM (#2783909)
I do have Musial as a 1B. He played more games at 1B than at LF or RF or CF, and to me those are different positions.

I have Gehrig #1 and Musial #2.
   87. bjhanke Posted: May 17, 2008 at 07:30 AM (#2783971)
Well, hell. I've been debating what to do here for a few days, since the first basemen thread got started. I finally decided that the best approach is to ask you guys.

Here's the deal. As it happens, I'm from St. Louis, and am old enough (60) and was into baseball young enough (8) that I remember the last third of Stan Musial's career. Also, my father was from St. Louis, too, and was into baseball young enough that I inherited a collection of 1922 baseball cards from him. Also as it happens, I spent a few years with a press pass for the Cardinals, and struck up a friendship with Bob Broeg, who was writing baseball for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from the 1920s through the 1990s. I also struck up a friendship with Bing Devine, who was the GM of the Cardinals for several years. Through these contacts and experience, I have some first-hand and second-hand information about Musial and George Sisler that may not be generally known, even to this group.

The question is whether I should work up a little post of this stuff that I know, so you guys can factor it into your voting, or whether I should not. So, would you guys like to see that post, or would you regard it as out of place or presumptuous or something? I don't promise anything you don't know, but I might have something or other in there. I just don't know whether you guys want that kind of info involved in HoM threads.

So please let me know. I don't want to be the new kid #######, but I do want to share the info if it might help someone.

Thanks,

- Brock
   88. OCF Posted: May 17, 2008 at 07:52 AM (#2783975)
When have we ever said no to an offer of additional information? I'd say the issue of whether it affects this vote or the next is entirely secondary; we're interested. Deal.

I would suggest finding the Musial thread (from the "selected 20th century players" link) and putting it there.
   89. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2008 at 10:38 AM (#2783980)
I do have Musial as a 1B. He played more games at 1B than at LF or RF or CF, and to me those are different positions.


I also have Musial as a first baseman based on value. I probably pushed for him to be classified as such back then, but I assume the majority added up his games in the OF and felt he belonged out there regardless.

The question is whether I should work up a little post of this stuff that I know, so you guys can factor it into your voting, or whether I should not. So, would you guys like to see that post, or would you regard it as out of place or presumptuous or something? I don't promise anything you don't know, but I might have something or other in there. I just don't know whether you guys want that kind of info involved in HoM threads.


Of course we would, Brock. If you peruse any of the old threads, you will find countless posts such as what you are suggesting to do. Instead of discouraging that, we encourage it.
   90. Chris Cobb Posted: May 17, 2008 at 12:41 PM (#2783989)
On the LF/RF question: In my own system, I make divisions first between infield and outfield. If a player had more value total in the outfield than in the infield, he's an outfielder. If the reverse, he's an infielder. I then divide the outfielders again by a similar method between corner outfielder/centerfielder. If he had more value on the corners than in center, he gets placed as either a leftfielder or a rightfielder, but not a centerfielder.

In an ideal world, we would have spent some time discussing the rationale for positional placements and reviewing the HoM plaque room position designations to make sure they were consistent: I think our criteria may have varied in the early years.

But it's a lot more interesting to rank players than it is to discuss algorithms for positional placement :-), and only a handful of players raise questions about it.
   91. Chris Cobb Posted: May 17, 2008 at 12:50 PM (#2783991)
From post #63.

Brock wrote:

In any case, I did decide early that Anson and White were at least one step below the absolute first-ballot gods of baseball. And I did that by examining their stats in the context of their time, not by comparing them to later players. What I would really like to read is your comment on all this.

This is certainly a reasonable conclusion. One method you employ that can be misleading for the very early game, I think, is comparisons to teammates, because talent tended to be very highly concentrated. Barnes, Wright, White, and McVey were four of the top six hitters in the NA, and they all played for Boston, and Al Spalding was there, too. As Howie Menckel suggested, a stat adjusted for park and team effects, like OPS+, is a useful check. Another point worth considering is how defensive value fits into the picture. White was less of a hitter than Barnes or Pike, for example, but he played a more demanding and valuable defensive position, which brings him closer to the top players in the league. I myself think the only player in the 1870s who was clearly more valuable, as a total package for that decade, than White was Ross Barnes. George Wright has an argument, but it depends on just how great a fielder he was, and how much more valuable a good shortstop was than a good catcher (defensively), and these are highly debatable points.

What puzzles me in your reasoning is not that you decided that White was at least one step below the absolute first-ballot gods of baseball, but that you decided that he was 19th of 20 among HoM catchers. . .
   92. Paul Wendt Posted: May 18, 2008 at 03:23 AM (#2784832)
What he said, Old Cardinal Fan #90
and what he said, Chris Cobb #93

--
and what he said, Chris Cobb #92
First decide whether to call Musial an outfielder.

88. sunnyday2 Posted: May 17, 2008 at 12:03 AM (#2783909)
I do have Musial as a 1B. He played more games at 1B than at LF or RF or CF, and to me those are different positions.

But you do also group players as "bats" and "gloves". Maybe invented it.
   93. bjhanke Posted: May 18, 2008 at 06:30 AM (#2784911)
Chris Cobb says, "What puzzles me in your reasoning is not that you decided that White was at least one step below the absolute first-ballot gods of baseball, but that you decided that he was 19th of 20 among HoM catchers. . ."

You should be puzzled by now. A post on this subject that I thought would take a day or two has taken over a week to work up. The essence of the post is that I think you should amortize 1870s catcher playing time out to maybe 90 games instead of 162 when you're doing Season Equivalents, and that this is the only decade and the only position to which that applies. It only applies to catchers, and it only applies to 1870s catchers, except for one season of Charlie Bennett (1882) when he actually played his team's entire schedule, albeit not all at catcher.

I'm trying to keep the post as short as possible, which isn't easy, and the post involves compiling a historical chart, and then explaining the absurd relationship of myself to curve fitting algorithms, and then begging for help if anyone here actually knows how to do curve fitting. That is, it hasn't turned out to be easy to write. To make matters worse, I originally did this work over a decade ago, for a magazine called Gravengood's, and I'm trying to remember what all I did, when my notes are long since gone. I expect the post to be a very hard sell, especially to Deacon White and Cal McVey fans, and so I'm trying to be careful. I mean, when you're trying to convince Deacon White fans that they really should, after amortizing his playing time out to 162 games, throw 40% or so of that playing time at catcher out the window, you're not preaching to a choir. I know that Grandma Murphy makes some sort of similar adjustment, because he said so, and that really helps writing my post, because I don't have to explain everything from the ground up, but I doubt his adjustment is 40% or anything close, given what he thinks of Deacon White.

Eventually, I will get the post written, and I promise to take all of whatever heat it generates. The main reason that I am willing to put this much work into redoing something a decade old is that, if I have made any sort of mistake, you guys are hot enough to catch it. It took me a couple of weeks, at the time, to convince myself that I had hold of the right end of the stick, but there's still that lingering doubt, because I had, at the time, no one who was capable of understanding the work enough to correct it. Understand it yes - Don Malcolm would certainly have understood it - but being able to correct it is a stronger mathematical standard, and my math is at least as strong as Don's is. Some of you guys, on the other hand, seem to be at least a little ahead of what is left of my moldy math degree from 1968 (Vanderbilt, if anyone cares).

Does that help? I do promise to get the post written, and as soon as possible. But this is one post that I just don't want to mess up. I'll be asking for enough trouble as it is.
   94. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2008 at 11:48 AM (#2784924)
I know that Grandma Murphy makes some sort of similar adjustment, because he said so, and that really helps writing my post, because I don't have to explain everything from the ground up, but I doubt his adjustment is 40% or anything close, given what he thinks of Deacon White.


Again, this is where I'm coming from regarding Deacon White. After you make your adjustments, Brock, who is still the greatest NA-NL catcher of his era while he caught? It's still easily White. How can that translate into White as a third baseman when guys like Sutton, Williamson and Billy Nash were superior during the 1880s?

Now, like you, I don't accept the premise that White would have played in almost every single game if he had played the same schedule as Buck Ewing (or Mike Piazza, for that matter). Some regression of his numbers is necessary. This is important for placing each player in their proper context.

However, for catchers from all eras, I also give a positional bonus depending on how tough it was behind the plate so they can compete with the easier positions (a 100-game season from Bresnahan as catcher was more impressive than a 100-game season from an outfielder, all things equal; it was more impressive than even a 100-game season today behind the plate, too). Therefore, catchers from all eras can still compete on a level playing ground. Does that make sense to you, Brock? Do you dole out some form of compensation for catchers yourself?

BTW, I hope none of my posts have been snarky to you. Though I may have a little fun here and there, I always try to be respectful (which I am).

To all voters: I will post the ballot thread sometime later on today. I haven't forgot. :-)
   95. Paul Wendt Posted: May 18, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2784993)
I have posted some remarks in "Battle of the Uber-Stat Systems" and "Ranking the Hall of Merit Catchers".
   96. bjhanke Posted: May 18, 2008 at 11:50 PM (#2785423)
Paul Wendt says, "I have posted some remarks in "Battle of the Uber-Stat Systems" and "Ranking the Hall of Merit Catchers"."

Which is, of course, where it should be. When I get my giant post finished, I will post it there and just a notice here that it's finally done. This thread really should be about first basemen, and I feel a bit guilty right about now.
   97. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 19, 2008 at 09:44 PM (#2786621)
I've been doing a bunch of research on the relationships between the PBP and non-PBP defensive metrics, and I have some findings that I think may be very useful and surprising to the group.

I ran regressions on all the different combinations of metrics available to us against an average of PBP stats for all 1B seasons with over 100 games played from 2003 to 2006 (using a 50/50 UZR/Dewan average for 2003-05 and a 50/50 UZR/PMR average for 2006). The good news is that we have a pretty good handle on defense for the Retrosheet era. The four metrics we have access to for 1987-2003 (Chris Dial's RSpt, Dan Fox's Simple Fielding Runs, Sean Smith's TotalZone, and Michael Humphreys's DRA) explain 69% of the variance in the PBP average for the 2003-06 period, which is outstanding. The three metrics we have access to for 1956-1986 (SFR, TZ, and DRA) by themselves aren't that much worse, accounting for 59% of the variance in the PBP average for 2003-06.

However, let me be clear: We have absolutely no effective quantitative means of measuring 1B defense in the pre-Retrosheet era. BP's FRAA only explain 10% of the variance in the PBP average for 2003-06, and neither DRA nor Fielding Win Shares showed a statistically significant correlation to it at all. The most variation in 1B fielding we can credibly attribute to a pre-1956 season is 3-4 runs away from average, and even that is extreme. For all intents and purposes, you are better off assuming that all pre-1956 1B were average fielders and adjusting for anecdotal reports than you are by attempting to quantify it using the available tools. This is a big deal.

I will post updated defensive numbers for the post-1956 1B presently. In the meantime, it would be extremely helpful to me if someone could help give me a sense of what the defensive reputations were of the pre-1956 1B candidates.
   98. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: May 19, 2008 at 10:13 PM (#2786646)
Tommy Bond in 1878 benefits by 3% on the ERA+ sale because he does not face those 79 OPS+ teammates as batters. He faces batters with average OPS+ 103.

I may be misunderstanding you, but I believe OPS+ and ERA+ already adjust for the fact that players do not face their own teams.
   99. bjhanke Posted: May 20, 2008 at 07:29 AM (#2787319)
David Concepcion says, "I will post updated defensive numbers for the post-1956 1B presently. In the meantime, it would be extremely helpful to me if someone could help give me a sense of what the defensive reputations were of the pre-1956 1B candidates."

I will post up longer in my George Sisler post, but here's the gist. Before the injury in 1922, the reputation was, and this is a close paraphrase of a few sources, "Sisler was a Gold Glove shortstop who just happened to be left handed. His specialty was pouncing on bunts, to the extent that the league basically did not bunt on the first base side when Sisler was in the game." As far as I can tell, and on the specific issue of his reputation I have made an effort, this is the consensus estimate of his peers and the observers of his time. It is, essentially, the same reputation among first basemen that Johnny Bench enjoys among catchers. Absolute A+. As good as Hal Chase's reputation ten years earlier, before it became obvious that Chase was selling a LOT of ballgames.

After the injury, he was nothing like the same defensive player, although his reputation may have kept teams from bunting on him for a couple of years. Overall, having looked at this issue reasonably closely and with access to Sisler contempraries who certainly knew his reputation if nothing else, I would give him an A-/B+ overall, divided into A+ before 1923 and B- after. I will discuss the issue of bunts in some detail in my post on Sisler, which has just been moved up to tomorrow, because of David's request.
   100. TomH Posted: May 20, 2008 at 03:05 PM (#2787498)
My ranking of the 1Bmen are hopelessly contorted. Peak/career, 19th centruy, NgLg, defense values questionable, war time credit... I have 6 guys I could rank 3rd. I have no one I wish to rank last. I'll vote, but...

prelim
Iron Horse
The Beast
--
--
--
anson
murray
brouthers
mize
big mac
connor
mccovey
start
greenberg
leonard
killebrew
suttles
terry
clark w
beckley
hernandez
sisler
allen
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