Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ranking the Hall of Merit Pitchers (1871-1892) - Discussion

We’ll start light. The first group are the pitcher’s box era pitchers, those whose careers were centered on the period 1871-1892.

Al Spalding
Charley Radbourn
Pud Galvin
Tim Keefe
John Clarkson
Bob Caruthers

We’ll discuss this week, vote next week. It’s a small group, so I think one week of voting will work.

Also, it’s a small group, so it should be pretty easy, please vote!!

Going forward, the other groups will be:

1893-1923: (18) Young, Nichols, Griffith, Rusie, McGinnity, Plank, Waddell, MBrown, RFoster, Mathewson, Walsh, JWilliams, Alexander, Mendez, Johnson, Faber, Coveleski, Rixey.

1924-1958: (19) Rogan, Vance, Grove, Lyons, Hubbell, Ruffing, BFoster, Dihigo, Paige, Ferrell, RBrown, Feller, Wynn, Lemon, Spahn, Newhouser, Roberts, Pierce, Ford.

1959-1986 (plus post-1986 for now): (20) Wilhelm, Bunning, Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal, Perry, Niekro, Jenkins, Seaver, Carlton, Sutton, Fingers, Palmer, Ryan, Blyleven, Gossage, Eckersley, Stieb, Saberhagen.

Let’s keep discussion on this thread to the 1871-1892 guys. Please use the pitcher thread for the others for now. If you want me to open up discussion threads for each group now, that probably wouldn’t hurt anything, let me know what you think (on the pitchers thread).

—Joe

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:59 PM | 130 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2
   101. bjhanke Posted: February 20, 2009 at 06:04 AM (#3081750)
Sigh. I put this on the wrong thread yesterday. When you guys get to the ballot thread, please ignore comment #7. It's just a copy of this one.

First off, since two of these guys could really hit and the other four could not, I wanted a stat that combined hitting and pitching. While Win Shares are not perfect, that is exactly what they are designed to do. So, here are the candidates, ranked by career WS. I don't have a source for national association WS, so I estimated Spalding's WS by the brute force method; I noticed that his ERA+ in 1876 was just about the same as his career ERA+, took his 57 WS from 1876, and multiplied them through by his career innings pitched. As you can see, it didn't help Al much.

Name WS IP ERA+
Keefe 413 5047 127
Galvin 403 6003 107
Clarkson 396 4536 134
Radbourne 391 4535 119
Caruthers 337 2828 123
Spalding 311 2890 142

This is not the order I have them in right now, because this doesn't take peak into account, and because some of these guys are just weird. The 1870s - 1880s are what I call the Era of Experimentation. Professional baseball was just trying to figure out what rules and standards to use. Among the other odd results of this was that they had to try to find out how many innings a solid starting pitcher could actually handle. To find this out, there is no method other than to test some arms to destruction. This certainly happened to Spalding and Radbourne, as well as some guys who are not in the HoM. It arguably happened to Caruthers. So, doing the best I can to balance career vs. peak and to deal with victims of experiments, I have the following preliminary:

Radbourne
Clarkson
Keefe
Caruthers
Galvin
Spalding

I am unwilling to give any serious early credit to Spalding because he was only 20 when he entered the NA, and that was the worst of his ML years. Right now, I am unwilling to give Galvin credit for his two year hiatus because it looks to me like the Warren Spahn effect: pitching against weak competition when he was young allowed his arm to last longer than it normally would have. As of right now, my biggest decision is whether to flip Keefe and Caruthers. It's peak vs. career in an era where I don't trust the stats too much.

Two quick notes. I checked out the fielding records of these guys and you know what? They all have lousy range factors in the outfield. So do a few other hurlers that I checked. I am looking for help here, but this is my best guess as of right now: They were right fielders in leagues that had very few lefty hitters. So they have lousy range factors because they have lousy arenas of opportunity. That, I imagine, was why they were in right field in the first place. A couple of them, including Clarkson, were so bad that their teams didn't even play them in the outfield at all when they weren't pitching. This, of course, decreases their peak values.

Also, Caruthers was a better hitter than even I imagined. I ran a sort for OPS+ for Bob's career. He came in 19th overall, which means he was a mid-lineup hitter. In his two hot years, he ends up with OPS+ that are right next to Dan Brouthers', and these were good Brouthers seasons. So what we seem to have is an excellent hitter, except for two years when he was Dan Brouthers. Plus an ace pitcher. That's a peak.

Further, looking at his change year from the AA to the NL and also at his postseason numbers, I don't see, well, any league effect on Caruthers from the AA. I'm sure there is a general league effect, but it doesn't seem to warp Bob's personal numbers. This may be because he got started at the height of the AA, when it was closer to the NL than at any other time. Then he got out before the AA collapsed. So his personal league adjustments may not amount to anything. I am right now treating them as though they don't. I am happy to accept help on this as well.

- Brock
   102. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: February 20, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3081886)
Brock, so by this logic, we shouldn't discount Larry Walker's 1997 numbers for Coors because his home and road stats are similar, or Hal Newhouser's '44 and '45 because his '46 was also sublime? That's not how these things work. If a guy doesn't take advantage of a favorable environment, he needs to be penalized for that "opportunity cost."
   103. bjhanke Posted: February 20, 2009 at 03:52 PM (#3081917)
Dan, a very fair question (and BTW I did respond to your question on my concept of Standard Deviations on that steroids thread that is now dead). I'm not sure that I know the answer, but I do have three things to say:

1 - No consensus seems to exist as to exactly what the discount for the AA should be.

2 - It is very possible that the discount varies from year to year and was at its least during the years Caruthers played in the AA. In those years - the peak years of the AA - it probably was very close to the NL in quality. It's the early and late years that are way down.

3 - It is possible for one player to buck a general trend. I have no idea where the extra playing quality of the NL was concentrated, but it may have been concentrated in an arena that Caruthers excelled at, and so took that excellence unchanged into the NL.

I always try to at least take some look at an individual player's response to an environment change. I don't use it as the primary,much less the only, criterion, but I do look at it. When I looked at Bob's adjustments, I didn't see anything. Then I noticed that he played in the exact AA years that have the minimum discount to apply. So it does look like, for Caruthers' years in the AA, the trend was weak, and he may have been able to buck that weak trend. I have no good way to quantify all this; it's one of my ongoing attempts to ask enough good questions about players to get a decent answer among the many answers I get from asking many questions. That is, I'm not saying we should ignore the quality of competition during wartime or the effects of Coors Field. I'm suggesting that taking a look at how the individual player responded adds information, at least about that player.

- Brock
   104. sunnyday2 Posted: February 20, 2009 at 09:51 PM (#3082315)
1 - No consensus seems to exist as to exactly what the discount for the AA should be.


Depends on your definition of consensus I suppose. 5-6 years ago this was a lively topic and most participants at that time seemed to agree that a discount was called for, at least. That's a consensus of some kind. But how much?

I worked out discounts for each season that made sense to me. When applied to those players who moved between the two, they smoothed things out so that it looked like a single more or less continuous career, which is what they were. I don't have the numbers handy anymore, but I can summarize.

They started out pretty big--like 35 percent--but quickly fell by maybe half and half again. By 1885-1886 the discount was like 5 percent and then zero, or zero and 5. Then it started to grow again but more slowly that it fell-e.g. 3 percent, 5 percent, probably no more than 7-8 percent until '92 when it went all the way back up to 35 percent.

So, yes, when a guy was in the AA is a big deal. If a guy like a Pete Browning spent his entire (more or less) career in the AA a 10 percent discount works pretty well. But if he was there for only part of a career, it matters a lot when it was. Caruthers did indeed peak when the differential was small which (along with a peak orientation) would be the reason(s) a person would rank Caruthers very highly, which I did.
   105. bjhanke Posted: February 21, 2009 at 11:57 AM (#3082578)
The above post #104 is about what I thought. I meant that there seems to be no consensus on "how much" of a discount to take, not on whether there is any at all. The only real consensus seems to be what Sunnyday, and some others I have read elsewhere, have agreed: The discount depends mightily on which years you're talking about. Sunny's estimates of zero to no more than 5 percent during Caruthers' AA tenure seems about right to me, and that's what I applied, or, rather, didn't apply. And, as you again said, if I were dealing with someone who played the whole of the AA, or at the beginning or end, it would be much higher. My checking of Caruthers' personal discounts was really a checkup on that concept.

BTW, I think it's possible to make too much of Caruthers' peak. Individual pitchers of his era appear to have had much more impact, relative to individual position players, than they do now, just because they pitched so many more innings than they do now. Caruthers' pitched pretty low season IP totals when compared to other top pitchers. That's why his career IP totals are so far behind people like John Clarkson, who only pitched two more years than Bob, but who pitched noticeably more innings per year (also see Pud Galvin; surprisingly few seasons, surprisingly high yearly IP numbers). Bob's position play is a big help, but to some extent, it's swimming upstream, even at the Dan Brouthers level. That's why his personal Win Shares for his best years are nothing like Hoss Radbourne's or the other top pitchers' top seasons. You just can't make up the IP difference with position play. Not in the 1880s.

- Brock
   106. Brent Posted: February 21, 2009 at 04:39 PM (#3082637)
A couple of years ago, I posted a study of AA league quality as part of the discussion of the candidacies of Charley Jones and Pete Browning. See post # 134 of the estimating league quality thread. Please also note that in response to some of the comments, I posted revised estimates in post # 158. My results were pretty similar to what sunnyday summarizes above. I only looked at batters, so I'm not sure how well the results translate to pitchers. Sunnyday mentions that some earlier studies were also done here on this subject (I missed the first ~30 HoM elections myself), but it may be difficult to locate them.
   107. Howie Menckel Posted: February 21, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3082796)
For star-quality, at least, number of HOMers per league per year in AA era (includes only 'regulars' as 1 IP per G or hit in at least half your team's games):

1882 - NL 20 vs AA 2 (McPhee and Browning)
1883 - NL 17 vs AA 5
1884 - NL 17 vs AA 5 vs UA 1 (Glasscock)
1885 - NL 19 vs AA 5
1886 - NL 18 vs AA 6
1887 - NL 18 vs AA 5
1888 - NL 17 vs AA 4
1889 - NL 19 vs AA 5
1890 - NL 15 vs AA 1 (Childs) vs PL 16
1891 - NL 24 vs AA 5

Huh, I still would say we say a real rise and fall of AA quality, but you'd hardly know it from this inexact measure. Of course, one could say there's a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here, though I'm pretty confident that's not true.
   108. bjhanke Posted: February 22, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3083143)
Does anyone know off hand why Hoss Radbourne did not get started in the NL until he was 26? I checked out the Galvin/Radbourne HoM thread, BB-Ref and the SABR minors database and came up with nothing. Does he deserve some sort of minor league credit? If so, it's very likely greater than anyone else's because everyone else on this short list started earlier. If not, then that might explain why he was able to pitch a couple of seasons of ungodly workloads. Thanks in advance. - Brock

BTW, Howie, the main thing that leapt out at me about your list is that the total number of HoM guys in the bigs between 1882 and 1889 holds steady between 21 (88) and 24 (82, 85, 86, 89) guys. Then in 1890, the PL comes along, appears to steal 4 guys from the NL and 4 from the AA and find 8 extras somewhere, for a huge leap to 32. Then, in 1891, it only drops down to 29. Did the PL actually find 8 bonus minor leaguers who turned out to be HoM guys? That's what it looks like, and it would be something to look at if true. Or did the PL just create an opportunity for retired guys to come out for a bonus year and/or kids who would have been a year or two away to come up early?
   109. Paul Wendt Posted: February 23, 2009 at 07:44 PM (#3083859)
Huh, I still would say we say a real rise and fall of AA quality, but you'd hardly know it from this inexact measure. Of course, one could say there's a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here, though I'm pretty confident that's not true.

The annual count of Howie Menckel-regular HOMers is notable.
22 22 23 24 24 23 21 24 32 29

Three major leagues (bold) inevitably bring more players into the major leagues, approximately 50% more. Union Association competition didn't bring in many players whom we have judged meritorious, not even by extending and jump-starting a few HOM careers. Players League competition did so; presumably the NL and AA literally did more of that work by signing replacement teams (AA) and players (both). Several of those new players of 1890 remained in the majors next year, which confirms that were some discoveries in 1890; PL competition didn't simply extend careers and bring some known players back to the majors.
   110. Paul Wendt Posted: February 23, 2009 at 09:30 PM (#3083984)
Brent,
I wonder whether you have worked at Wikipedia and learned that election to the Hall of Merit has fared poorly there (considered unworthy of the encyclopedia) or is it specifically linking that has fared poorly?

Whether or not that experience is yours, I would like to consult by phone or email. You are not in the SABR directory, I believe. If you are willing, please send contact info to me, pgw [at] theworld.com
   111. jimd Posted: February 24, 2009 at 03:11 AM (#3084287)
I could only find 31 HOMers in 1890, so I must have missed one (from the NL).
Anyway, here's a list comparing 1889 to 1890.

AA: 5 -> 1
Stovey and Browning jumped to the PL.
McPhee and Caruthers moved to the NL with their teams (Cin and Bro).
Hamilton purchased by Phi NL after his team (KC) left the AA (went under?).
One of the new IL teams added as a replacement team had a young star, Childs.

NL: 19 -> 14
Gore, O'Rourke, Kelly, Ward, Keefe, Brouthers, Ewing, Connor,
Radbourn, Richardson, Galvin, and Beckley jumped to the PL (12).
White and Delahanty also jumped, though they were not regulars in 1889.
(White's almost done and Delahanty's not yet established).
Hines, Clarkson, Anson, Glasscock, Bennett, Thompson, Rusie stayed behind.
McPhee, Caruthers, Hamilton came in from the AA.
4 young players established themselves as regulars: Nichols, Burkett, Davis, Young.

PL: 0 -> 16
Stovey and Browning jumped to the PL.
Gore, O'Rourke, Kelly, Ward, Keefe, Brouthers, Ewing, Connor,
Radbourn, Richardson, Galvin, and Beckley jumped to the PL (12).
White and Delahanty also jumped, though they were not regulars in 1889.

There was an influx of new talent (Nichols, Burkett, Davis, Young, Childs),
followed by an outflow (last season as regular for White and Hines, while
Radbourn, Richardson, Gore, and Bennett had one more season left as regular).
   112. Paul Wendt Posted: February 24, 2009 at 04:32 AM (#3084353)
Hamilton purchased by Phi NL after his team (KC) left the AA (went under?).

Kansas City and Baltimore dropped out to find more congenial minor leagues as Cincinnati and Brooklyn dropped out in favor of a more congenial major league. I don't know whether that move was successful for KC or for the presumed western league they would join. Baltimore rejoined the AA mid-season after the replacement club in Brooklyn failed. The Cincinnati and Baltimore departures temporarily cut the original members from five to three (St Louis, Louisville, Philadelphia) and cut the population rankings seriously, too.
   113. Howie Menckel Posted: February 26, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3086911)
Paul,
your "14" figure for NL is correct; Hines played for both Boston and Pittsburgh that year and got double-counted by me....
   114. bjhanke Posted: February 28, 2009 at 08:00 AM (#3088721)
I think the other thread is the ballot thread, and this is the discussion, but just in case I'm wrong, here's my ballot. A copy of this ballot, complete with a few short comments, is on the other thread.

Radbourne
Clarkson
Keefe
Caruthers
Galvin
Spalding

- Brock Hanke
   115. Paul Wendt Posted: March 01, 2009 at 05:23 PM (#3089471)
Rabourn
- His biography may be the longest in Baseball's First Stars (SABR 1996, 131-32). Editor Fred Ivor-Campbell handled this one himself and filled the second large-format page.

His family came from England "shortly before" his birth in Rochester NY and moved to Bloomington IL "shortly after".
His father was a butcher, and Rad seemed destined for the same career until he escaped to a job as a railroad brakeman. In 1878, however, when he was 23 (or 24), his baseball abilities won him a place on the roster of an impressive barnstorming club from Peoria, Illinois. There his pitching caught the eye of Ted Sullivan ... He hired Radbourn to pitch for Dubuque, where he caught the attention of Buffalo's National League club. Rad, a good all-around player as well as a dominant pitcher, was hired for the 1880 season to pitch relief at Buffalo, playing in the field until needed. Unfortunately, in his enthusiasm he strained his shoulder before he had an opportunity to pitch, and was released after only six games as an infielder and outfielder.
. Rad's arm recovered over the summer, and in 1881 he returned to the NL with Providence ...
when Ward moved on to New York in 1883, Rad became the Grays' only regular pitcher. ...
. But Rad had been overworked and by the end of the season his arm was lame. [Bancroft returned Providence to the two-man system for 1884.]
. [1884]
. Some saw in Radbourn's season an argument for giving pitchers more work, but his exertions has worn him down. ... he was never again as productive ... In addition, changes in the pitching rules outlawed his leaping delivery and what he called his "balk trick" that kept runners close to first, further hampering his effectiveness.


The end was painful. April 1894 a hunting companion shot him in the face; he was disfigured and blind in one eye. February 1897 he died from advanced syphillis.

Keefe
- Keefe was born and bred in Cambridge MA. His retirement home stands (very close to Memorial Hall, one location where college students played ball in the 1850s-60s). It changed hands between ten and twenty years ago and the leftover contents were junked on a day when Seamus Kearney happened to walk by --too late. (Founder of the SABR Boston Chapter ten years ago, Kearney then worked in Harvard Square.)

Clarkson
- Clarkson was born and bred in Cambridge at the same time, four years younger than Keefe. His boyhood home stands in Cambridgeport, a southern bend of the Charles River, between northern bends at Harvard and at MIT approaching the harbor.
- The Keefes and the Clarksons never mixed, according to Bob Richardson. They never played on any of the same teams. John Clarkson's two brothers, five and 17 years younger, both pitched for Harvard and in the majors. At baseball-reference I see that two Hackett cousins also played in the majors; they were from Cambridge, two and four years older than John. It's a raw day with light snow or I would check out the Keefe family plot. I suppose that Tim Keefe had younger siblings or cousins; or the point about playing separately means the Hacketts too and chiefly.

: The second of SABR's collected biographies, Baseball's First Stars (1996) covers all of the "19th century" Hall of Fame members except Davis, Hanlon, Hulbert, McPhee, and Selee. They were elected 1995-2001 and they are in the first volume, Nineteenth Century Stars (1989).
: Unless I say otherwise (eg, regarding Bob Richardson above), Baseball's First Stars or 'BB1*' is the source of biographical quotation and information about the starts and ends of baseball careers here.

"Clarkson first began to play baseball at the Webster school in Cambridge. In the early 1880s he played with the Beacons and the Hyde Parks, two of the better-known semipro clubs about Boston at the time. He had a brief trial with Worcester of the NL in 1882 [age 21], but was bothered by a sore shoulder. In 1883 and 1884 he was with Saginaw, Michigan, in the Northwestern League. [1884] was Clarkson's pivotal year: he won over 30 games at Saginaw and struck out close to 400 batters before joining Chicago in mid-August." --Dick Thompson, BB1*

After retiring from the diamond he returned to Saginaw Bay, namely Bay City where he operated both a cigar shop and a short-lived minor league club. He was institutionalized May 1905 in Flint MI with some "mental disorder" and he died February 1909 at a mental health facility near his family's Cambridge home.

"Keefe began his amateur career in the mid-1870s with amateur clubs in Cambridge and neighboring Boston. He turned professional in 1879 with Utica, later playing with New Bedford and, in the following season, Albany. In midsummer 1880 Troy, then in the National League, acquired his contract. ...
. Keefe remained in baseball as a NL umpire for a few seasons before returning to Cambridge, where he ran a real estate business for many years." He died of heart attack at 76. --John J. O'Malley, BB1*
   116. Paul Wendt Posted: March 01, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3089480)
[Bancroft returned Providence to the two-man system for 1884.]

That is a short version of Ivor-Campbell's account. Here is a better slightly longer one.
[Bancroft returned Providence to the two-man system for 1884 but newcomer Charlie Sweeney jumped to the Union Association mid-season and Radbourn worked alone during the second half.]

About half of the biography is the account of 1884, and comment on the performance, ending as I have quoted: "Some saw in Radbourn's season an argument for giving pitchers more work ..."

--
not from SABR biographies:

Brock Hanke wonders whether Comiskey pioneered the two-man system. The Browns were leaders in using three men. Some of Clarkson's managers, on the other hand, used him to work more than half of the games, approaching the system of "pitcher and change pitcher" that was out of date. When Clarkson finally arrived in 1884 the NL already scheduled 112 games. Radbourn's workload was exceptional, diametrically contrary to design, and it only happened under the stress of expansion (the AA from two? to twelve in three years) and Union Association competition.

Sweeney also worked hard in 1884, certainly overworked. In the spring of 1887, I have read of him asking for a contract that limits his work and asking for a contract that pays him by the game.

--
sheer speculations:

Spalding - Did he ever throw a curve? I have read modern historians that he didn't but I presume that he did. I interpret others to mean that he never mastered it, never made curve pitching a reliable part of his repertoire. Maybe he hurt his arm curving?

The wrist snap was illegal until 1872, maybe one reason Candy Cummings joined the NAPBBP only in 1872?
   117. bjhanke Posted: March 01, 2009 at 06:10 PM (#3089491)
Paul -

Those last two posts could not possibly have been any more helpful. Thanks SO much. I missed the two SABR books (my membership was spotty in the 1990s), but I'll try to see if they're still available as back issues. If not, there's always Amazon. But as of now, I now know what happened to Radbourne early, and know that there is no early extra credit to give him, and I know not only what happened to Caruthers' workloads, but what the theory was. I was essentially a pitcher behind (I was thinking of two aces who shared the workload more or less evenly, rather than one ace and one guy who pitched 250 fewer innings, not three pitchers), but it seems that it was indeed another bright idea by Comiskey that affected Bob's workloads.

I do have a speculation about Spalding, based on what little I've read and what I've seen (a reasonable amount) of high-end underhand softball. In softball - it's easiest to find on TV in the form of women's college - all the pitches move a lot. They have - at least the best ones have - multiple rising and sinking fastballs, and the short distance from the mound to home gives the batters little time to adjust to that. During his couple of years of excellence, Al Hrabosky (the Mad Hungarian) threw a rising fastball that moved like a softball pitch. It overmatched even people like Willie Stargell, but he could only throw it for one inning, and it blew out his arm in just a couple or three years. Underhand doesn't seem to put the same sort of strain on it. Also, many of the best softball pitchers I have seen have a "leaping" delivery where they essentially jump forward off the mound that they use when they REALLY need a single pitch to be a killer. Radbourne added (according to what I've read so far) a spinning motion that probably served to hide the delivery (a la Tiant) and leapt a lot, not from a mound, but from running forward in the box.

So thanks again, Paul, not only for the info you provided, but for sending me to books that very likely have a lot more of the same, about the 19th century, in which I am really interested. I'm going on the SABR website right now.

- Brock
   118. Paul Wendt Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:18 PM (#3090105)
Brock,
There will be some more. I went to the library and looked at the New Orleans Picayune for March 1887. I didn't get out until the 8:00pm alarm.
   119. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:35 PM (#3090132)
Roger Kahn mentioned in some book that Radbourn was acquainted with Jesse James, but I never saw that mentioned anywhere else.
   120. Paul Wendt Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:41 PM (#3090141)
What's this, is it March in 2009 now?
;-)

Radbourne added (according to what I've read so far) a spinning motion that probably served to hide the delivery (a la Tiant) and leapt a lot, not from a mound, but from running forward in the box.

There was plenty of dispute in 1887 about whether the new rules should be enforced, as well as how well they were being enforced. The wrench in the works for Detroit's super team is that Lady Baldwin will not be able to adjust (lame in April/May). Mullane is one said to depend on a balk. Throughout April the baseball notes occasionally name pitchers likely to do quite well or quite poorly.

Umpires cut the pitchers some slack, I infer from some sharp complaints (eg, Mullane opponents), some neutral tidbits, and some clarifications or re-instructions issued by Nick Young.

I suppose that some pitchers, certainly including sidearmers like Radbourn iiuc, had used motions about halfway between what the new rules evidently prescribed and what we know from the shot, discus and hammer Field events. Practically they required the pitcher to face the plate throughout the motion: (for rhp) the left foot must remain always left of a line between the right foot and the plate. There was no plate or rubber to push from. Scads of pitchers' methods for throwing partly with the body rather than entirely with the arm must have been ruled out.
   121. Paul Wendt Posted: March 03, 2009 at 06:30 PM (#3091330)
Here are all the 2500-inning major league pitchers with debuts before 1890 (Rusie and McMahon in, Young and Nichols out). They are ordered by innings per plate appearance and the gaps in the layout correspond to four, five and six plate appearances as a batter per nine innings as a pitcher.

debut inn plate
1884 2678 1157 Ed Morris 2.31460674157303
1877 3543 1535 Will White 2.30814332247557
1887 2811 1238 Mark Baldwin 2.27059773828756

1880 5048 2262 Tim Keefe 2.2316534040672
1884 2540 1140 Charlie Getzein 2.2280701754386
1889 2634 1183 Sadie McMahon 2.22654268808115
1886 2522 1143 Elton Chamberlain 2.20647419072616
1882 4536 2056 John Clarkson 2.20622568093385
1887 4324 1965 Gus Weyhing 2.20050890585242
1887 2727 1254 Bert Cunningham 2.17464114832536
1884 3078 1422 Bill Hutchison 2.16455696202532
1886 3191 1477 Silver King 2.16046039268788
1875 6003 2788 Pud Galvin 2.15315638450502
1889 3770 1763 Amos Rusie 2.13840045377198
1880 4802 2286 Mickey Welch 2.10061242344707
1888 2810 1340 Frank Dwyer 2.09701492537313
1888 2754 1334 Red Ehret 2.06446776611694
1878 4276 2104 Jim McCormick 2.03231939163498
1871 4956 2560 Bobby Mathews 1.9359375
1874 3629 1997 Tommy Bond 1.81722583875814

1880 4535 2654 Charley Radbourn 1.7087415222306
1881 4531 2970 Tony Mullane 1.52558922558923
1881 3496 2306 Jim Whitney 1.51604509973981

1882 3404 2309 Charlie Buffinton 1.4742312689476
1871 2891 1987 Al Spalding 1.45495722194263
1884 3514 2555 Adonis Terry 1.37534246575342
1889 2888 2144 Jack Stivetts 1.34701492537313
1875 2940 2298 George Bradley 1.27937336814621
1884 2829 2906 Bob Caruthers 0.973503097040606
1882 2906 3052 Guy Hecker 0.9521625163827
   122. Paul Wendt Posted: March 03, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3091368)
Here are the "bottom" ten with debuts 1943 and later. Tom Glavine stands out in contrast to nine from the beginning of the subperiod. There are four 1970s debuts and Greg Maddux in the next ten.

Glavine played occasionally in the pinch (never in the field, never as a relief pitcher). He leads all pitchers in sacrifice hits; beside pitching deep into games for his time, I suppose that he sometimes remained in the game to bunt when another pitcher would have been removed for a pinch batter.

debut inn plate
1959 3884 1489 Bob Gibson 2.60671140939597
1960 3507 1339 Juan Marichal 2.61716417910448
1956 3432 1309 Don Drysdale 2.61984732824427
1950 3170 1208 Whitey Ford 2.62200165425972
1948 4689 1782 Robin Roberts 2.62983735277622
1945 3307 1255 Billy Pierce 2.63296178343949
1947 3348 1256 Curt Simmons 2.66348448687351
1950 2672 1000 Vern Law 2.66933066933067
1987 4413 1645 Tom Glavine 2.68104495747266
1955 3760 1401 Jim Bunning 2.68188302425107

At the bottom of the pre-1890 list, at least Hecker, Caruthers, and Spalding wre in the middle of the batting order. However, batting fifth rather than ninth yields only 10% more plate appearances. Those pitchers and any others good enough to bat fifth were more than good enough to take some regular turns in the field, which yield the plate appearances in large numbers.
   123. DL from MN Posted: March 03, 2009 at 08:36 PM (#3091523)
Scoring environment also increases plate appearances. If you're winning 25-4 you get to bat a lot.
   124. Paul Wendt Posted: March 05, 2009 at 03:51 PM (#3093286)
That's true. It's possible to do a lot more at the single-season level than at the career-level, such as accurate adjustment for scoring environment. We have convenient aggregate data on the scoring, of course. For many pitcher-seasons, the fielding and batting data for all season-teammates must support good estimates of the pitcher's innings played in the field and his number of pinch-hit appearances. I don't know how commonly the estimates are how good.

One reason this has popped into mind for me is that I read report of speculation by Chris von der Ahe early in spring 1887, after some rule changes in favor of batting. He said that some teams may soon put pitchers in left and right fields to prepare for two substitutions in one game. (The legendary Chris von der Ahe's command of English excludes the possibility of sarcasm but the historical CvdA may have been capable.)

That led me to wonder how many teams actually put one frequent pitcher in rightfield? Some teams employed good two-way players and did so routinely but others used "non-pitchers" in rightfield every day. Their rightfielders were not pitchers under any strict or moderate definition; some of them never pitched in the majors although they may have had some professional experience pitching.
   125. jimd Posted: March 05, 2009 at 09:57 PM (#3093800)
Career Numbers
GB = Number of Batting Games
GP = Number of Pitching Games
GN = Number of Non-pitched Games Played (GB-GP)

GB - GP - GN - Name
705 340 365 Caruthers
653 528 125 Radbourn
411 347 64 Spalding
731 705 26 Galvin
618 600 18 Keefe
546 531 15 Clarkson

Radbourn was a decent hitter for a pitcher. Not Caruthers or Spalding certainly, but in his best seasons he had an average bat (a 104 and a 97 OPS+ to his credit and 3 other seasons above his career average of 72).
   126. Paul Wendt Posted: March 06, 2009 at 06:05 PM (#3094540)
Spalding
- Spalding was born in Byron, Illinois (a "well-to-do family"). When he was eight his father died and the family soon moved to Rockford. He and Ross Barnes of the junior Pioneers joined the Forest City club in 1866 (Frank Phelps on Barnes in 19c*), when Al turned 16 in September.
"By the age of 15 he was the pitcher for Rockford's Forest Citys team, and he first achieved celebrity at age 16 by defeating the touring Washington Nationals in 1867. [July 25, six weeks before age 17.] ... The Forest Citys subsequently became the dominant team in the Midwest, and by 1870 were able to upset the mighty Cincinnati Red Stockings.
. When Harry Wright moved from Cincinnati ... he lured the young pitcher away from Rockford for a salary of $1500."
... Adding his $2500 base salary and a percentage of the profits, Spalding was paid $6902.86 for the 1876 season, a huge figure for the era. ... His performance on the mound was second only to that of George Washington Bradley of St. Louis, who beat him in five of nine games. The following year the Whites acquired Bradley, and Spalding moved over to first base. [That's all on the end of his pitching.]
... In 1876 Spalding, with his brother and brother-in-law, had founded a sporting goods business at 118 Randolph Street, Chicago. He secured a contract to provide the official league ball and immediately began publishing a baseball guide. ... Through expansion and acquisitions, Spalding & Brotheres dominated the industry by the end of the century, and made Spalding a millionaire. ..."
. He died of a stroke in 1915" --William E. McMahon, BB1*

Galvin
"Galvin was born in the Kerry Patch section of St. Louis on Christmas Day, 1856. That was a neighborhood so Irish ... they called corned beef and cabbage 'Irish turkey'. He trained to be a steamfitter, but soon gravitated toward baseball for a livelihood." --Joseph M. Overfield, BB1*
- 1875, St Louis Browns (NA), eight game, six pitcher games
- 1876, St Louis Red Stockings ("Galvin pitched professionally" including a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies and a perfect game against Cass of Detroit)
- 1877, Allegheny (IA)
- 1878, Buffalo (IA)
- 1879, "the Bisons and Galvin advanced to the NL"
"In 1892, with his arm played out and his weight out of control, he was released by Pittsburgh and finished the season at St. Louis. He tried his hand at umpiring in 1893, but could not take the abuse and quit. He tried to come back as a pitcher for Buffalo (Eastern League) in 1894, but it was no go."
He died March 1902 after more than three months confinement at home (pneumonia, cause of death catarrh of the stomach). Baseball people and local friends raised money to help his widow pay the funeral bill. --Joseph M. Overfield, BB1*

Caruthers
Bob Caruthers is in the first volume of SABR's collected biographies, Nineteenth Century Stars (1989).
- Bob Caruthers' family moved from Memphis to Chicago when he was a teenager (a "wealthy family".
"He began his professional career in 1883 at age 19 by signing with Grand Rapids. He played right field and pitched for Minneapolis the following season. When the Northwestern League collapsed, Caruthers signed with the St. Louis Browns for $250 per month. He made his major league debut September 7, 1884 ..."
. After brief stints with Chicago and Cincinnati in 1893, Bob slipped to the minors. He finished up with Burlington in the Western Association in 1896.
. He then turned to umpiring around the Midwest." He died not long after a nervous collapse while working in 1911. --Robert L. Tiemann and L. Robert Davids, 19c*
   127. Paul Wendt Posted: March 07, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3095359)
This is from "Pitchers for the Hall of Merit", concerning World Series Added.

>>
496. Paul Wendt Posted: February 06, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3069736)
The second page of "1910 Ballot Discussion" includes a lot on playoff WPA (win probability added) for pitchers, by DL from MN plus discussion partners.
playoff WPA for pitchers (see #125-153)

152. DL from MN Posted: February 06, 2009 at 12:41 PM (#3069502)
. . .
For the 1880s guys I just followed the general rule of thumb that a shutout was worth about 0.6, giving up 1-2 runs was worth around 0.3, giving up 4 runs was worth 0 and more than that was progressively more negative. You have to eyeball the game too though, if you give up 5 in a 7-5 win then the pitcher typically gets no WPA while a 1-0 10 inning win is worth around 0.75. I certainly didn't calculate actual WPA for any playoff series pre-1903.

Without complete digitized play-by-play there will be no WPA calculations soon, so it won't be possible to handle the 1880s systematically. That's why we have segregated the 1880s pitchers! Maybe I'll be able to do something for Caruthers and others when the time comes.
<<

I will not be able to do this.

Probably you know, the play-by-play has not been compiled. For what it's worth, I have some doubts about the value of Win Probability calculations for that distant past, based on the modern distribution of runs scored per half-inning or on modern line scores.
   128. Paul Wendt Posted: March 08, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3095861)
These data are gleaned from the SABR collected biographies.

Spalding 1850-09-02
1866 Rockford NABBP
1867 Rockford NABBP
1868 Rockford NABBP
1869 Rockford NABBP
1870 Rockford NABBP professional
...
> Chicago NL officer, later club president and principal owner

Radbourn 1854-12-11
1878 ? Peoria barnstorming club
1879 24 Dubuque NWL (3-0 in six pitcher games)
1880 6 Buffalo NL (no pitcher games)
...
>1891 Radbourn's Place billiards parlor
sometime ballclub "organizer", Bay City MichStLg

Galvin 1856-12-25
1875 8 St Louis Red Stockings NAPBBP (62 ip, 4-2, 1.16)
1876 8 St Louis Stocks [Al Spink?] (??, 2-6, ??)
1876 50 St Louis Red Stockings professional (50, 31-16, ??)
1877 18 Allegheny IA (162 ip, 12-6, ??)
1878 43 Buffalo IA (380 ip, 28-10, ??)
1879 66 Buffalo NL (593 ip, 37-27, 2.28)
1880 9 Athletic Cal (82 ip, 6-3, ??) "a brief defection to the California League in 1880"
1880 58 Buffalo NL (459 ip, 20-35, 2.71)
...
1893 umpire
1894 3 Buffalo EL (??, 0-2, ??)

Keefe 1857-01-01
< amateur clubs in Cambridge and neighboring Boston
1879 28 Utica New Bedford Albany NA (238 ip, 11-14, ??)
1880 18 Albany NA (154 ip, 7-9, 1.87)
1880 12 Troy NL (105 ip, 6-6, 0.86)
...
>1893 umpire
>real estate

Clarkson 1861-07-01
< Webster school in Cambridge
< early 1880s, Boston Beacons and Hyde Parks
1882 3 Worcester NL
1883 21 Saginaw NWL (? ? ?)
1884 45 Saginaw NWL (391 ip, 34-9, 0.64)
1884 14 Chicago NL (118 ip, 10-3, 2.14)
...
>1894 Bay City Michigan cigar shop

Caruthers 1864-01-05
1883 50 Grand Rapids NWL (outfield)
1884 51 Minneapolis NWL (17-15 in 35 pitcher games)
1884 23 St Louis AA (82 ip, 7-2, 2.61)
...
1894 133 Grand Rapids WL (1b)
1895 92 Jacksonville WA (lf-2b, 0-0 in one pitcher game)
1896 52 Burlington WA (1b)
1898 3 Burlington WA (of)
>umpire [longtime]
   129. Paul Wendt Posted: March 08, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3095867)
Age in years.months during first April as a major league player. (old SABR data)
S 20.7
R 25.4
G 22.4
K 24.3
C 23.9
C 21.3
   130. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 08, 2009 at 07:29 PM (#3095991)
Thanks, Paul, for all of the data that you have posted recently!

Roger Kahn mentioned in some book that Radbourn was acquainted with Jesse James, but I never saw that mentioned anywhere else.


FWIW, my paternal grandfather knew Bat Masterson during his sports writer days in NYC. Not that Bat was a varmint like Jesse, of course. :-)
Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
BDC
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.5389 seconds
49 querie(s) executed