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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Pitchers Ballot (1871 - 1892)

In alphabetical order:

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

The election will end March 8 at 8 PM Eastern.


John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 15, 2009 at 09:00 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 15, 2009 at 09:36 PM (#3077709)
1) John Clarkson: The finest pitcher of this era, IMO, and had a long career judged by the standards of that time. Best ML pitcher for 1887 and 1889 (close in 1885 and 1891).

2) Al Spalding: Besides being (easily) the king of all NA pitchers (and doing a great job for the NL in 1876), he was also a star pitcher for a few seasons prior to the formation of the first professional league. If you don't give credit for his pre-NA work, then that would be the only way you could consider his career short. Impressive hitter, too

3) Tim Keefe: Second-best pitcher for his era, despite the (credible, in most cases) downgrading of his worth here the past few years. Best ML pitcher for 1883.

4) Pud Galvin: The era's workhorse. I am giving some credit to him for his IL days.

5) Old Hoss Radbourn: That season of his in 1884 wasn't too shabby. Neither was the rest of his career. Would be ahead of Galvin if I wasn't giving the Pudster IL credit.

6) Bob Caruthers: A worthy HoMer that took me a long time to come around to (karlmagnus, you wore me down :-). Without his offense, this list would be down to only five candidates, however.
   2. HGM Posted: February 15, 2009 at 09:51 PM (#3077717)
1) John Clarkson - Easily the best of the bunch to me. Phenomenal peak and long career for his time.
2) Al Spalding - Credit for his pre-NA years. Phenomenal peak, very good bat to go along with his pitching.
3) Tim Keefe - Not quite the peak of Clarkson, but a long career with barely any poor seasons. Slight discount for his AA years and playing in front of good defenses.
4) Charley Radbourn - His 1884 is a sight to behold even if it's not quite as good as it would appear at first glance.
5) Pud Galvin - Very long career. Credit for his IL play pushes him above Caruthers.
6) Bob Caruthers - Short but outstanding peak. Love the two-way player aspect of him, awesome bat for two years and very good the rest combined with very good pitching. Needs his bat to make the HoM, but a solid inductee.
   3. karlmagnus Posted: February 15, 2009 at 10:45 PM (#3077743)
Repeat my prelim, which I have seen no reason to alter. All 6 of these guys are well above the borderline.

1. Clarkson 4536IP@134, 328-178, 432 hits@60OPS+. Was behind Old Hoss on my 1900 ballot, but he was better.

2. Spalding 2890IP@142, 253-65, 613 hits@116. More or less single-handedly pitched his way to several pennants, and was no mean hitter.

3. Caruthers 2828IP@123, 218-99, 695 hits@135. By far the highest peak of any player other than Babe Ruth; about 131 ERA+ until his last lousy year. At his peak, this is the guy you'd want on your team, of all pre-1983 players.

4. Radbourn 4535IP@119, 309-195, 585 hits@72. Superb peak, falls off a bit outside it. Better competition than Keefe.

5. Keefe 5047IP@127, 342-225, 390 hits@58. Close between him and Galvin; I could be persuaded either way.

6. Galvin 6003IP@107, 364-310, 552 hits @46 and that's without giving him credit for two years in the IL.
   4. Rusty Priske Posted: February 16, 2009 at 01:56 PM (#3078014)
After reading my old notes as well as the discussion thread I see that memory had Clarkson too low.

I still don't have him at #1 though.

1. Old Hoss Radbourne - Peak and career. Should be considered on eof th ebest, in my opinion.
2. John Clarkson - Peak and career again.
3. Tim Keefe - COnstantly top-notch
4. Al Spalding - I don't give as much credit as some for his early years, but they still exist.
5. Pud Galvin - Career
6. Bob Caruthers - We were slower than we should have been to get him in, but he still falls short of these other greats.
   5. DL from MN Posted: February 16, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3078103)
1) John Clarkson - longer career with a good number of "top seasons" for the era
2) Tim Keefe - the numbers have him really close to Clarkson but the quality of competition makes it an easy decision to rank Clarkson higher
3) Charley Radbourn - The prototypical "workhorse"
4) Al Spalding - top pitcher of his era but the career was over at age 27
5) Pud Galvin - gets credit for 'prehistoric' pitching seasons
6) Bob Caruthers - hitting makes him a worthy player but a short career
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: February 17, 2009 at 01:00 AM (#3078608)
change from prelim has Caruthers jumping 2 places and Galvin down 2; I hadn't compared them all as hitters quite enough before (though obviously Caruthers had already gotten some bonus)

1. John Clarkson - Clarkson had a wondrous quality/quantity package for his time, and earned his way as first pitcher into HOM.
2. Tim Keefe - I'm in the queasy-'bout-competition-at-times club as many are, but his longevity puts him this high even with a discount.
3. Old Hoss Radbourn - Really wish he had ONE more solid season. Has the peak, a little lacking in the prime.
4. Bob Caruthers - Tough career to digest, and I battled "anti-AA" bias for a while. I've finally adjusted enough for hitting.
5. Al Spalding - Still vague on whether he has very much "behind the fog" performance to raise him higher, and I do have that "softball pitcher" picture in my head. But that's not quite fair.
6. Pud Galvin - Unique career length tells me he was something special. Many doubted him as a HOMer way back when, but I'm comfortable with all 6 in there, and maybe could live with Welch as well had it happened.
   7. bjhanke Posted: February 19, 2009 at 04:11 AM (#3080878)
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.

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:


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
   8. ACE1 Posted: February 21, 2009 at 06:33 PM (#3082719)
With the following measures:

A) Number of seasons with 20 or more starts divided into total of games started in those seasons (this tends to weed out the slow rise and inevitable decline phase of a players career, and bring focus to the seasons where a player is making a sustained contribution to their teams' overall success)

B) Total WS accumulated over those seasons noted in A) divided by the number of seasons in A) gives you the avg WS per season (giving us a comparable marker for career value)

C) divide the average number of WS per season in B) by the average number of games started in A) gives you a career WS percentage or CWS%

For Example:

...John Clarkson played in 12 seasons in which he started 20+ games in 9. His total games started in those 9 seasons was 484/9 = 53.77 avg games per season. His total WS during this same 9 seasons was 360/9 = 40.00 avg WS...

40.00/53.77 = .744 CWS%

The CWS% for others on this list...including avg ERA+ from 'career' years in A) above...

Caruthers .747 129
Clarkson .744 136
Radbourn .707 119
Keefe .669 132
Galvin .573 110
Spalding n/a 149

Although Bob Caruthers matches Clarkson in CWS%,...Caruthers played 5 of his 7 career years in the American Association. Albeit he finished top 3 in ERA+ during that span (1885-89),arguably the overall talent in the AA was less than the NL, so a very good player could dominate more easily, than in the NL (not totally convinced with this assumption). During the span of 1885-93, John Clarkson finished top 5 in ERA+ in 7 of his 9 career years! Clearly top of the class for this list.

Spalding was the best in his era with Candy Cummings the number 2. Depending on how one chooses to weight the various measures, you could make an argument for Spalding as #1 in this group based on his ERA+

Pud Galvin was the first in a line of 'long career/above average performance/limited peak value' pitchers...not directly comparable to the rest of this group. Don Sutton comes to mind as a modern day example.

The tricky part is how to choose between the remaining three. Keefe certainly had the longer career value, although his individual contribution to his teams success was not as impressive as that of Old Hoss or Caruthers. Unfortunately we have no head to head match up's to fall back on. Both Radbourne and Caruthers had great peaks,(1882-84,...and 1885-87 respectively) but at different times and in different leagues. At this point I have Caruthers ahead on avg CWS% value...

What to do with Sir Timothy! Again, not directly comparable to the other two. Keefe is a better version of Galvin. His Top ERA+ in the 1885 and '88 seasons give him some peak value credentials, along with 7 Top 5 ERA+ placings out of his total of 12 career years. On that basis, his long and excellent career trumps Caruther's accomplishments over a shorter time frame. I'll place him ahead of the other two for now.

The revised:

Clarkson .744 136
Spalding n/a 149
Keefe .669 132
Caruthers .747 129
Radbourn .707 119
Galvin .573 110
   9. stax Posted: February 22, 2009 at 06:22 PM (#3083151)
1. John Clarkson - Best combination of career (2nd highest career ERA+ of the bunch), career length (effectively tied w/ Radbourn for 3rd most IP), and a very good peak (86, 89, and 85 is truly absurd)
2. Tim Keefe - Similar all-aroundness to Clarkson. 3rd best career ERA+, 2 most IP, multi-year great peak
3. Charley Radbourn
4. Al Spalding - I really wasn't sure how to order these two. Ultimately I see Radbourne's 84 as better than any Spalding year, and Spalding really depends on a peak-only argument. Radbourn's best 2900 innings stand up w/ Spalding, and then there's more solid value to be found.
5. Bob Caruthers
6. Pud Galvin - There is value in career length. I really consider myself a career guy. But Pud Galvin is basically the Nolan Ryan of this era. Roughly 10% above league average by ERA+ for his very long career, but with only really 1 superstar year (Ryan's 1981, Galvin's 1884). And at least Nolan has 77, 87, and 91 too.

I'm rather similar to DL from MN, I see.
   10. Sean Gilman Posted: February 24, 2009 at 10:55 PM (#3085243)
Pitchers (1871-1892)

1. John Clarkson - Great peak and career value. That he played in the toughest leagues makes his numbers the most reliable.

2. Tim Keefe - Only his time in the AA keeps him out of first place.

3. Charley Radbourn - A bit less career value and a bit lower peak than Keefe and Clarkson, better leagues than Spalding and Caruthers.

4. Al Spalding - The best of his generation, but pitchers were worth less in his day than at any time in history.

5. Bob Caruthers - Peak a bit better than Galvin. The AA hurts.

6. Pud Galvin - Long career but his merely good peak doesn’t compare with this crowd.
   11. stax Posted: February 27, 2009 at 03:48 AM (#3087641)
@Sean Gilman: [Valley Girl] Like, oh my gawd, we're like clones or something. [/Valley Girl]
   12. bjhanke Posted: February 28, 2009 at 06:50 AM (#3088720)
Here's my ballot, without the normal paragraphs of comments. I have a very busy weekend. I'll get the comments done by Sunday, but possibly not by Sunday before the deadline. So here's the official ballot for now, with minimal comments:



In my opinion, the greatest peak ever by any player at any position at any time, 1882-1884 or 1882-1886, depending on whether you prefer 3 or 5 year peaks. Also, probably due some credit for minor league play, since he was already 26 when he entered the bigs. I just can't find a source for what he was doing through age 25, so I have to guess the likely credit. Pitched in only one World Series (of sorts, only three games) but uniquely drove in more runs (2) than he gave up earned (zero), and won all three games without a reliever. That is, in 1884 alone, pennants added pretty much equals 1 and world championships added equals 1.


Again in my opinion, the prototype 1880s ace pitcher. They vary so much, but John seems to be at the center of almost all the variances. A better career than Radbourne, but not the peak. One dominant World Series and a couple of others not so good.


Record pretty much speaks for itself. The amount of time spent in the AA is not enough to amount to any serious discount.


Hitting included, of course. The one greatest oddity of Caruthers is that, among these pitchers, he pitched the fewest innings per season when healthy. I don't know if that was due to a weak arm or to Charlie Comiskey getting the idea of a dual ace staff rather than ace and a change pitcher. In any case, it did not seem to make his arm any more durable. Virtually no AA discount, because he only played in the AA during its best seasons, not because I think there's no AA discount in any season. I think that, at his best, Caruthers was a better pitcher than Keefe, but there's only so long I can ignore some 1700 extra IP.


The flip side of the Ed Delahanty / Joe Jackson comments I made in their respective positionals, where I said that there's only so long you can ignore that high an OPS+ because of a short career. With Galvin, there's only so long you can ignore the second-most IP of any pitcher ever because of a mediocre ERA+. I kept wanting to move him up into the middle of the group, but then I realized that my real problem is that I think there are a few more 1880s pitchers due to go into the HoM. I mean, it is the decade where the value of an individual ace pitcher is at its highest, much higher than any individual position player.


I give Spalding a boost for having seasons in the NA where he could not really pitch a full workload due to short schedules. Essentially, it's like FSEs. On the other hand, almost no credit for play before the NA because he was only 20 when he entered the bigs. It's almost impossible to get me to give credit for ages younger than 18 or full credit for age 18 itself. The most I could give Al would be 1 1/2 years.

- Brock Hanke
   13. Kenn Posted: February 28, 2009 at 06:04 PM (#3088865)
I've tended to rely a great deal on a combination of ERA+ and IP in the past, with a bunch of adjustments, but have been working through year-by-year comparisons lately, and in this era have been looking at simple runs rather than ER more.

1. Tim Keefe - Fantastic, sustained run from 82 to 90, and I love that kind of consistency from pitchers. I seem to be the only one picking him at #1 so far, so let me see if I can figure out why... My league adjustments are very gentle, so he doesn't lose much for time in AA. He and Clarkson are about as identical as can be in my purely numerical system. However, I find that there are more individual years where Keefe stands out above the rest of his league (even reducing credit for AA time), so I've given him the nod.

2. John Clarkson - Very, very similar to Keefe by my measures, with fantastic consistency again. I use fairly gentle league adjustments, and Keefe turns out slightly ahead. I went back and forth on putting Spalding in between Keefe and Clarkson as a compromise to Spalding's extremely high scores strictly by the numbers in my ranking system and my subjective opinion of how appropriate it is to use the same ranking methods. Finally decided Keefe and Clarkson were too similar to be split apart.

3. Al Spalding - Most dominant of the group according to my system (#1 pitcher 72-76), but dominant at a less valuable role. Nonetheless, I give a lot of credit for that.

4. Charley Radbourne - The middle ground among this group for me. Peak years carry a good but somewhat less spectacular career than the pitchers above.

5. Bob Caruthers - Takes hitting to push Caruthers over my borderline, but comfortably across once taken into account.

(Jim McCormick)

6. Pud Galvin - Just outside my PHOM, with too many mediocre years preventing the value I would have expected to build up based on IP. Probably underrated by me against pitchers in general, but I'm comfortable with this rank among this group.
   14. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 01, 2009 at 07:44 PM (#3089615)
Only 10 ballots so far - should we extend a week? I just sent an email to the yahoo group . . . any thoughts?
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 01, 2009 at 09:13 PM (#3089664)
I just sent an email to the yahoo group . . . any thoughts?

As I posted to you via the Yahoo group, Joe, we really have no choice but to extend it another week.
   16. OCF Posted: March 02, 2009 at 12:11 AM (#3089777)
Extend it a week or not - I don't think we're ever going to get all that many votes for this. This is a world of evaluation so alien to our experience with baseball that it's very hard for even original voters and even harder for anyone who joined along the way. Note all of the people with comprehensive evaluation schemes who draw a line and leave these pitchers on the outside, with no numbers beside their names.

I'm going to submit a ballot. The comments are skeletal and I'm not offering it in any great certainty. From 3 through 6, this is a copy of my own 1905 ballot order.

1. Clarkson. Does seem to have been the dominant pitcher of his times.
2. Keefe. Like Clarkson, elected before I joined - this is in part a nod to the opinions of those who voted for him back then.
3. Radbourn. I do think there is greatness in his peak.
4. Galvin. I've shown career-leaning tendencies, and he is the one with the greatest bulk.
5. Spalding. Of course he was a fine baseball player. I'm wary of him because he left the game so young and because I find it hard to disentangle his own value from that of his teammates.
6. Caruthers. Pitched fewer innings than many. Not a lot to distinguish him from Mullane or Whitney.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 02, 2009 at 12:34 AM (#3089800)
This is a world of evaluation so alien to our experience with baseball that it's very hard for even original voters and even harder for anyone who joined along the way.

Which is worrisome because that might mean they some haven't even bothered with evaluating the eligible candidates still waiting in the wings from the 19th century such as Mickey Welch, Tony Mullane, Jim McCormick and Ed Williamson. I really hope that's not the case.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: March 02, 2009 at 12:48 AM (#3089807)
The title of the discussion thread also is almost identical to the actual ballot thread (first time I've seen that).

Are there any ballots on the other thread, accidentally placed there?

I agree this group is extremely tough to differentiate for the most part, and as noted even some longtime voters never had to get to these.

As for the 19th-century leftovers, we don't have that many left. You noted 4 reasonable ones, and I guess a couple of others get more votes? (or had a cup of coffee in the century at least).

By mid-year I'd suggest a thread where we list the all-time votes pts of unelected 19th century guys, and ask for anyone to advocate for a closer look.
   19. Tiboreau Posted: March 02, 2009 at 12:53 AM (#3089815)
1. John Clarkson—According to both BP’s WARP & Joe Dimino’s numbers, Clarkson is clearly the best pitcher among this odd group of early hurlers.
2. Tim Keefe—The 2nd spot on the ballot was solidified after Joe’s adjustment based on newer BP numbers, leaving two more closely aligned evaluations of Mr. Keefe.
3. Charley Radbourn—An excellent peak in ’83 & ’84 as well as some very good seasons before and after makes Radbourn a solid choice for the HoM despite lacking a lengthy career.
4. Al Spalding—Obviously a very difficult player to rate, Spalding does deserve recognition for his performance prior to ’71, which combined with a very nice peak during the ‘70s puts him just above the next two candidates.
5. Bob Caruthers—Like Spalding, an excellent peak during a career shortened by arm troubles, Caruthers falls just behind him due to a variety of reasons, including, lower IP compared to his HoM peers and Spalding’s stature as the premier pitcher of his era.
6. Pud Galvin—One of only two pitchers with more than 6000 IP, Galvin’s achievements scream career candidate; however, I prefer peak and Galvin’s lack of it means that his career value isn’t enough to best Spalding & Caruthers’ peak value.
   20. Howie Menckel Posted: March 02, 2009 at 01:20 AM (#3089830)
Well, I doubt that 4 of the 6 slots would change even with 20-30 more ballots.
The other 2, possibly.

But this isn't "electing a guy for all eternity" anyway.

I've found prior results instructive not with which player noses out another by a couple of votes; that answer tells me we could not clearly decide - doesn't matter which one had the tiny edge.

Already the dozen votes are telling us some pretty clear sentiments overall.
   21. OCF Posted: March 02, 2009 at 01:23 AM (#3089835)
Are there any ballots on the other thread, accidentally placed there?

I don't think so, other than items that were posted in both places.
   22. Esteban Rivera Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:14 AM (#3089930)
If it's still good here's my order:

1) John Clarkson - Number one in terms of length and quality.
2) Charley Radbourn - The peak puts him here.
3) Al Spalding - Outclassed his contemporaries.
4) Tim Keefe - AA years slighly hinder him against the top three.
5) Pud Galvin - Longevity edges Caruthers combo.
6) Bob Caruthers - Worthy HOMer but last in this group.
   23. AJMcCringleberry Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:35 AM (#3089941)
If you are still taking ballots:

1. Clarkson - Career and peak.
2. Keefe - Slightly below Clarkson.
3. Radbourn - Slightly below Keefe.
4. Caruthers - Excellent pitching and hitting. I like '86 and '87: 1st and 3rd in OPS+, 3rd and 2nd in ERA+.
5. Spalding - Done at 25.
6. Galvin - 6000 IP, but fewer seasons at a high level than the other guys here.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: March 02, 2009 at 04:41 AM (#3089942)
I'd support keeping those, and no major objection to a further delay.
But again, those that follow this most and voted within (or nearly so) of the time frame seem to have a general sentiment.

Not sure how much more we have to cajole further results, especially since the other 3 groups presumably are more enticing (though complicated by their size of competition).
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 02, 2009 at 01:02 PM (#3090030)
Are there any ballots on the other thread, accidentally placed there?

I don't think so, other than items that were posted in both places.

I agree with OCF, though I did revise the heading anyway.

I agree this group is extremely tough to differentiate for the most part, and as noted even some longtime voters never had to get to these.

I don't know, Howie. This seems like the easiest group to me.

BTW, the revised deadline is now next Sunday at 8 PM EDT, just in case anybody was confused by my earlier post.
   26. mulder & scully Posted: March 02, 2009 at 05:50 PM (#3090341)
Thanks for extending the deadline again.

1. Clarkson - Very good peak and better prime years than anyone else. Little Mickey Welch fact - In Clarkson's 53-16 year, he lost 7 times to Welch.

2. Radbourn - An amazing peak carries him to the second spot.
3. Spalding - Exemplifies the difficulties of weeding out team defenesive effects from the pitcher when there is only 1 or fewer Ks per 9. Also, he pitched for an All-Star team for most of his career. Can I just leave 3 blank and vote 2 number 4s? Kidding.
4. Caruthers - It was a short peak, but it was an extremely high peak. Basically tied with Spalding.

5. Keefe - When I was leading the Welch bandwagon, I noted how little difference there was between Keefe and Welch when they pitched on the same team. What set Keefe apart were the AA years, plus one more year at the end of his career. A HoMer and made my retro-PHOM early, but not as good as the top 4.

6. Galvin - Innings eaters don't do well with me. His peak doesn't match the rest. He seems like he falls into that class of pitcher like Young, McGinnity, Ryan where they just can pitch forever.
   27. Mark Donelson Posted: March 02, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3090474)
I'll get a vote in with the extension (for what it's worth)--just ran out of time last week.
   28. Rick A. Posted: March 03, 2009 at 12:55 AM (#3090778)
Pitchers Ballot
1. John Clarkson - Nice career and peak
2. Al Spalding - High peak, Including 1860's credit.
3. Charley Radbourn - His peak lifts him above Keefe.
4. Tim Keefe - Not as good as previously thought. Still HOMer.
5. Bob Caruthers - Great hitter. Almost beats Keefe.
6. Pud Galvin - Many innings at an above average rate.
Tommy Bond - Dominated the majors in his brief career.
------------------------------PHOM line-------------------------------
Tony Mullane - This recent look at early pitchers has raised him a few spots on my most recent listing.
Jim McCormick
Mickey Welch
   29. Yardape Posted: March 03, 2009 at 06:04 AM (#3090974)
I voted in the Hall of Merit back in the early days, but stopped around 1926 or 1927 when I got too busy...and I've never caught up. Very sad. However, after Joe's e-mail to the Yahoo group, I decided I could vote in this election, since most of these guys were around when I was participating.
For pitchers of this era, I think a high peak is important. Not the only thing, but it seems to me that pitchers had more pennant impact in the 1880s than probably any other position at any other time in baseball history. So it would be nice if a candidate took advantage of that. That said, it's clearly not the only thing. My ballot:

1. John Clarkson It appears to me that Clarkson does a better job of combining peak and career than anyone else in this group, or anyone else in this era. There's a reason he was the first pitcher in the HoM.

2. Al Spalding I joined the HoM in time to jump on the Spalding bandwagon and help push him over the top. Looking back, I don't think I measured him quite right; I gave him too much credit for pre-NA play. Even rectifying that, however, I think he's No. 2 here. He was clearly the best pitcher of his era, even if it was lower impact than the guys in the following decade. So much of his value was hitting, but he was a good hitter, especially for a pitcher, and we're considering them as a whole player. He's tough to rate, I could see people having him anywhere on this ballot, but I'm comfortable with him here.

3. Bob Caruthers I was also a big booster of Parisian Bob back in the day, although I think I had stopped voting before he got in. I'm a little less sold on Caruthers now than I was then, but I think he still ends up here (although it's very close with the two below him). Like Spalding, tough to judge because of all the hitting. What a peak, though. I agree with Brock's assessment that the AA was darn near equal to the NL by the time Caruthers was at his best, so there's not much of a league quality adjustment for his peak. Plus he carried some of it with him when he changed leagues.

4. Charley Radbourn Old Hoss was another one with great peak - one of the greatest pennant impacts in any season ever. Caruthers' hitting keeps him (slightly) ahead of Radbourn, but I think they're similar.

5. Tim Keefe Boy, this is a tight ballot, IMO. Keefe isn't that far behind Clarkson, but I like Spalding, Caruthers and Radbourn just a bit more. The Welch comparison dropped him here, at least in my book.

6. Pud Galvin I was never a big fan of Galvin. Not that he doesn't belong in the HoM, but he's lower tier. Clearly a lower peak than everyone else on this ballot, and for me that means he's on the bottom of this list.

I'll be traveling for a couple of days, but I will check the ballot thread before Sunday in case anyone has any questions. I realise since I've been away from the project for so long that my ballot should be reviewed and accepted, so I'll be back to try and address any concerns. I'll also continue to try to get caught up and vote in future elections, although studying for grad school and looking for a job has to take priority at the moment.
   30. OCF Posted: March 03, 2009 at 06:14 AM (#3090977)
I voted in the Hall of Merit back in the early days, but stopped around 1926 or 1927

According to my records, your most recent vote in a regular election was in 1926. Your consensus scores were pretty much dead-center average 1921-25 but dropped off in 1926, which was a backlog election.
   31. sunnyday2 Posted: March 04, 2009 at 01:59 AM (#3091934)
It's not that this is that hard, it's just...nuanced.

I'm gonna vote off the top.

1. Clarkson--I remember him as an easy choice at the time.
2. Radbourne--also has the career and peak angles covered.
3. Spalding--played baseball. Quite well.
4. Caruthers--AA was very close to NL during his peak and he was far and away the star of the AA.
5. Keefe--better than Welch, well short of Clarkson.
6. Galvin--I, too, was never a fan and I would in fact say he doesn't really belong in the HoF or HoM. Being good to mediocre for a long time never adds up to great.
   32. Rob_Wood Posted: March 05, 2009 at 11:01 PM (#3094002)
I'll vote when I get home tonight. Thanks for extending the deadline.
   33. Mark Donelson Posted: March 05, 2009 at 11:13 PM (#3094010)
Another thanks for the extension.

1. John Clarkson. I concur with the growing consensus. Has it all--peak, career, everything in between.
2. Al Spalding. The mist is thick, but what I can make out seems like a prodigious peak. The hitting doesn't hurt.
3. Charley Radbourn. Wondrous peak.
4. Bob Caruthers. Really I could easily have Spalding-Radbourn-Caruthers in any order. Another great peak, with great hitting, and the league wasn't that weak, as Sunnyday points out.
5. Tim Keefe. Resembles Clarkson, certainly, but far enough off him in peak to drop him here. Keefe is Clarkson-lite, and Welch is Keefe-lite?
6. Pud Galvin. I don't doubt he belongs, but he's clearly the last of this group for this peak voter.
   34. Rob_Wood Posted: March 06, 2009 at 04:04 AM (#3094170)
Here's my ballot (it was fun looking back at these old-time pitchers again):

1. John Clarkson: clear number one with his overall great quality and quantity
2. Tim Keefe: significant drop to Keefe who had very good quality and quantity
3. Al Spalding: best of his era, hard to know how great he really was at this juncture
4. Charley Radbourn: awesome peak with decent shoulder seasons
5. Bob Caruthers: solid HOM'er due to his peak combo of pitching and hitting
6. Pud Galvin: long career with lesser peak

I am sure of #1 and #6. Ordering the others was pretty tough.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: March 06, 2009 at 04:23 AM (#3094182)
well, I didn't oppose an extension, but I salute those who sought it.
this will work out well....
   36. OCF Posted: March 06, 2009 at 04:50 AM (#3094191)
I'll add to what Howie just said the comment that I'm happy to have been wrong about this.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: March 06, 2009 at 04:56 AM (#3094192)
that's the beauty of being non-dogmatic - you can change your mind without losing face

   38. jimd Posted: March 07, 2009 at 02:02 AM (#3095059)
1) J. Clarkson -- A close decision between 1 and 2. The quality numbers that others are citing are exaggerated by the dilution of the league pitching quality caused by lengthening the schedules. He also doesn't benefit from the extra impact that the short schedules gave to Ps pre-1885 by enabling them to pitch the majority of a team's innings. It's a double-whammy that isn't Clarkson's fault, but it's there. Prime 1885-91. Best player in 1885, 1887 and 1889. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1885, 1887, 1889, and 1891. Other star seasons include 1890.

2) C. Radbourn -- Pitchers dominate the early 1880's; there's no doubt that they are important in each game (the pitching records like no-hitters, perfect games, a 19 strike-out game all demonstrate this). Individuals also are close to complete staffs. My interpretation is that a great pitching season put a team in contention, even over an All-Star team which hit like Chicago. Radbourn is the best of this generation, the best P of 1882, 83, and 84. Prime 1881-85. Best player in 1883 and 1884, candidate in 1882. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885. Other star seasons include 1890. Honorable mention in 1881.

3) A. Spalding -- The hardest of these guys to place. He's a full-time hitter and a very good (but not great) one. Combined with the pitching and he was an annual all-star. Prime 1871-86. Best player candidate 1872 and 1873. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875. Other star seasons include 1876.

4) P. Galvin -- Ditto. TangoTiger style thought experiment: suppose that they played Clarkson/Caruthers-length schedules (140 games) during Galvin's peak. Galvin's raw stats would stay the same. His ERA+ would be much better, because the Ps pitching all those extra innings would be replacement-level Ps (the #2 backup starters of the 84 game schedule), or worse (the #3 starters that couldn't get NL jobs at 84 games). His value to his team (in Wins) would improve somewhat due to the drop in replacement level. Prime 1880-84. Best player candidate 1883 and 1884. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1881, 1883, 1884. Honorable mention in 1880, 1882, and 1887.

5) B. Caruthers -- Outstanding combination of pitcher and hitter. Prime 1885-89. Best player in 1886; candidate in 1887. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1886, 1887, 1889. Other star seasons include 1888. Honorable mention in 1885.

6) T. Keefe -- His career value is comparable to Radbourn but Keefe doesn't have the peak. Peaks win pennants. Keefe was on more pennant-winning teams, but he also had better teammates (Connor, Ewing, Ward, O'Rourke, Welch, Tiernan vs. Hines & elder Start). Prime 1882-88. Never a best player candidate. 1st-team MLB All-Star (SP) in 1882, 1883, 1887. Honorable mention in 1886 and 1888. AA discount too large to consider him best player of 1883 or 1884.
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: March 07, 2009 at 04:05 PM (#3095319)
6) T. Keefe -- His career value is comparable to Radbourn but Keefe doesn't have the peak. Peaks win pennants. Keefe was on more pennant-winning teams, but he also had better teammates (Connor, Ewing, Ward, O'Rourke, Welch, Tiernan vs. Hines & elder Start).

Keefe also played for weaker teams than Radbourn did.

More important, if true, Providence for Radbourn (and Ward) was a better fielding team than was New York for Keefe (and Welch) --strikingly so according to the mid-aughts edition of Clay Davenport's analysis. From Dan Greenia I know that the DT cards are recently out in their late-aughts edition. I'm loathe to take a peek.
   40. KJOK Posted: March 08, 2009 at 04:42 AM (#3095769)
1. John Clarkson - 43 Pitching Wins, 396 Win Shares, 134 ERA+, .640 Neutral Win % in 4,536 IP.

2. Tim Keefe - 36 Pitching Wins, 413 Win Shares, 125 ERA+, .611 Neutral Win% in 5,050 IP.

3. Charley Radbourn - 32 Pitching Wins, 391 Win Shares, 120 ERA+, .595 Neutral Win% in 4,527 IP.

4. Bob Carruthers - 34 Player Overall Wins, 337 Win Shares, 123 ERA+, .599 Neutral Win% in 2,9289 IP. Gains about 170 runs in batting on Radbourn, but not quite enough to overtake him.

5. Al Spalding- Cetainly helped by his teammates, but 24 Pitching Wins, 137 ERA+, .795 NEUTRAL W%, and about 375 Runs Saved Above Average in 2,887 IP.

6. Pud Galvin - Only 10 Pitching Wins, 403 Win Shares, 109 ERA+, .537 Neutral W% in 5,941 IP.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 08, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3095977)
I voted in the Hall of Merit back in the early days

Glad to see you back after all of these years, Yardape!
   42. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 08, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3095987)
Keefe also played for weaker teams than Radbourn did.

More important, if true, Providence for Radbourn (and Ward) was a better fielding team than was New York for Keefe (and Welch) --strikingly so according to the mid-aughts edition of Clay Davenport's analysis. From Dan Greenia I know that the DT cards are recently out in their late-aughts edition. I'm loathe to take a peek.

Not that it's your fault, Paul, but I wish you had posted this a few weeks ago.

Hopefully Smilin' Mickey Welch gets a boost in the next election in regard to this.
   43. Chris Cobb Posted: March 08, 2009 at 10:12 PM (#3096090)
I would have liked to have been more systematic about these rankings, but I've had no time for new analysis. These are "best-guess" rankings.


1. John Clarkson. Best peak of the era (dominant starter of the late 1880s), very solid career.
2. Tim Keefe. Not as dominant as Clarkson, but consistently excellent for most of a decade.
3. Al Spalding. Might deserve to rank higher. I give him credit for 1867-70. Pitching meant something different in his time than it did in the 1880s, but he was an excellent starter for a decade (1867-76), with a few dominant seasons and a consistently above average bat.
4. Charley Radbourn. Dominant starter of the early 1880s. Not exceptional after that, but still threw a lot of innings.
5. Pud Galvin. A career pick. A few huge seasons, and the rest was innings-eating. Jimd's point that his ERA+ would have been better if he'd been pitching in the conditions of the later 1880s for his whole career. Replacement level was very high prior to 1883. I give him credit starting in 1877.
6. Bob Caruthers. Splendid peak, but I am more skeptical about the quality of AA play than many, and almost all of his case relies on his 1885-89 years in the AA.
   44. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 08, 2009 at 10:35 PM (#3096101)
This is the Commish's ballot:

   45. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 09, 2009 at 12:00 AM (#3096153)
The election is now over. Results will be posted at 10 PM EDT.

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