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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ranking the Hall of Merit Second Basemen - Discussion

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

Ross Barnes
Rod Carew
Cupid Childs
Eddie Collins
Bobby Doerr
Nellie Fox
Frankie Frisch
Charlie Gehringer
Joe Gordon
Frank Grant
Bobby Grich
Billy Herman
Rogers Hornsby
Nap Lajoie
Bid McPhee
Joe Morgan
Willie Randolph
Hardy Richardson
Jackie Robinson
Ryne Sandberg
Lou Whitaker

The election starts June 8 and ends Sunday on June 22 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 01, 2008 at 10:03 PM | 170 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:06 AM (#2802488)
The battle for the top spot should be much more challenging than it was for the previous two position elections.
   2. Blackadder Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:21 AM (#2802505)
I can't wait to see how many Hall of Famers Bobby Grich beats!
   3. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:48 AM (#2802649)
The top four is going to be a hell of a debate. Right now I have it Hornsby-Lajoie-E. Collins-Morgan, but depending on what you value, you could end up with any grouping of 1-to-4.

What are the odds no one can get to double-digits in first place votes.
   4. OCF Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:55 AM (#2802741)
Time for another offense chart. This is offense only; you're all very much aware of the extent to which you have to consider defense as well. This is for a player's whole career, so it includes years played at other positions. War credit is not acknowledged - for the likes of Gordon or Doerr I'd suggest inserting blanks in appropriate places and shifting the rest of the line to the right.

I don't have Barnes, McPhee, or Grant worked up in this system. I have included four non-HoM 2nd basemen for a little perspective.

Hornsby 107 104 94 92 91 76 74 73 60 55 43 42 41 30 26 11  2  1  0  0 ---3
Collins  90  85 80 79 70 67 65 57 48 44 40 37 32 32 32 20 20 18 16 10  1  0 
---3
Lajoie  100  96 95 56 56 44 40 39 37 36 36 35 35 30 29 21 19  6  0
-10-20
Morgan 
92  84 76 73 71 49 47 46 45 40 30 28 27 20 19 19 13 12  9  4  2 -3
Carew 
.  90  57 53 52 43 39 34 32 28 27 23 21 19 16 15 10  8  8  3
Gehringer 68 56 50 48 45 44 30 29 29 29 28 27 15  2  1  0 
--8-13
Robinson 67  67 60 44 41 30 26 21 14  7
(Doyle)  59  48 44 37 34 30 25 25 20 18 17 15 12 -4
Whitaker 42  42 42 41 28 28 26 19 17 14 14 13 13 12  8  5  3 
-2-14
Sandberg 57  55 49 48 36 29 15 12 12  5  3  0  0 
---5
Grich 
.  39  38 37 36 34 33 33 23 22 19 16 10  6  4  2  2 -5
Childs 
60  53 48 36 34 28 23 16 10 ---5-19
(Evers)  52  39 38 33 30 27 25 17 10  9  8  7  5  1  0 -7
(Lazzeri53 37 37 36 22 22 20 15 13 13 11  6  5
Herman 
42  42 41 36 28 27 15 13 10  9  5  3  2 --5
Gordon 
51  37 32 32 29 23 17  9  5  3-13
Doerr 
.  50  34 24 21 17 16 16 16 14  9  0 --6-11
Randolph 49  33 26 25 14 12 12 12 10  9  8  8  5 
-----7
(Lopes)  46  32 29 24 24 20 14 12 11 11  7  3  1 ---6
Fox 
. .  45  31 22 20 19  9  7  5  3  0  0 ----9-11-15-23-24 
   5. Chris Cobb Posted: June 02, 2008 at 03:32 AM (#2802774)
Second Base Preliminary Ballot

I. All-Time Top 10
1. Eddie Collins. Total = 606. Maybe doesn’t belong in the all-time top 10 group b/c WARP1 overstates the value of second base defense prior to the 1930s, but I consider everyone who totals 600 in my system to be top 10 material. Definitely at the head of the second base group, in any case.

II. Inner-Circle HoMers
2. Rogers Hornsby. Total = 584. Greatest hitting second baseman of all time. Fielding was indifferent, but that’s beside the point.
3. Joe Morgan. Total = 520. People who view the quality of the modern game as much higher than the pre-integration game will have Morgan #1, and he’s good enough to justify that. However, the numbers I use do make adjustments for ease of dominance, and Morgan still does not catch Hornsby and Collins. Morgan’s peak was fabulous: at his best, he was the top player of his generation, and the best since Mays/Mantle/Aaron. But he only sustained that level for about six years. Outside of that peak, he was great, but not in the argument for the best player in baseball. For that reason, I am quite comfortable with my system’s conclusions. I do bump Morgan over Lajoie, but that’s as far as I go in revising my system’s conclusions.
4. Nap Lajoie. Total = 550. Second-best player of the aughts, after Wagner. Like Wagner, combined stellar defense and top-of-league offense, but didn’t have quite as much of either one.

III. Among the best players of their generation
5. Charlie Gehringer. Total = 379. Bobby Grich with superior durability and with batting strengths that caught people’s attention.
6. Jackie Robinson. Total = 321. His total is low because his career was short, but that was affected by racism on both ends, so I go outside my system and focus more on Robinson’s peak value, which was the highest among all twentieth-century second basemen not in the inner circle. Gehringer has the next highest rate after Robinson and a fabulous prime, so I don’t bump Robinson ahead of him. But if I am building a team, and you give me the choice of Jack Robinson, Bobby Grich, Rod Carew, or Frankie Frisch, Robinson is an easy pick. Robinson or Gehringer, that’s more of a toss-up in my mind, so I give the edge to the player with more actual value.

IV. Obvious HoMers
7. Bobby Grich. Total = 344. It’s a little surprising to me that Grich places at the top of this group, ahead of Carew, Frisch, and Sandberg, all of whom were recognized as great players. The under-rating of all around talents is at work, I guess.
8. Rod Carew. Total = 338. Truly extraordinary during his peak with the Twins, but he was a pretty ordinary player at first base for the Angels.
9. Frankie Frisch. Total = 338. A dynamic player on both offense and defense. If he would have taken a walk more often, he would be up in Gehringer territory.
10. Ross Barnes. est. Total = 326. Best peak of the 1870s, and probably of the nineteenth century. It’s too bad his career was diminished by injury just as he was adapting to the removal of the fair-foul hit. Important to remember that he wasn’t a one-trick pony: he was excellent defensively, and probably would have played shortstop for many teams, but Boston had George Wright.
11. Ryne Sandberg. Total = 292. My system prefers Whitaker, but if Sandberg hadn’t “retired” for a while, he’d be ahead of Whitaker, and Whitaker was platooned, which I mark down slightly for.
12. Lou Whitaker. Total = 302. Tell me again why the BBWAA have ignored Whitaker and Trammell? Outrageous.
13. Bobby Doerr. Total = 293. One of the greatest defensive second basemen ever, and a fine hitter.
14. Billy Herman. Total = 281. Strong on both offense and defense: Charlie Gehringer lite.

V. Solid HoMers when you read the fine print
15. Bid McPhee. ????? His case depends on his having been a historically great defensive player. Everything we know indicates that he was.
16. Joe Gordon. Total = 267. Not quite as good as his contemporary Doerr, because his defense tailed off sooner, but otherwise a match. Needs war credit, though to make his case, which may be why he has been overlooked.
17. Hardy Richardson. ???? Fine hitter; accomplished and versatile on defense. If he had been good enough defensively to play third base, would probably have been famous like Ed Williamson. My raw totals rank him around Billy Herman, but a competition adjustment drops him to just below Gordon.
18. Willie Randolph. Total = 264. I find his case to be solid, but most of the electorate would probably have him in the “Almost as good a case to be out as in” category. Fine defense, and good plate discipline in the lead-off spot. A bit weak on in-season durability (not an uncommon problem for second-basemen), and not the hitter near-contemporaries Morgan, Whitaker, and Sandberg were, so it’s easy to see why he was overlooked.

VI. Almost as good an argument to be out, as to be in
19. Cupid Childs. Total = 247. Truly great offense for a second basemen in the 1890s, but he fielding was nothing special, and his career was short.
20. Frank Grant. ?????. The last African-American star to showcase his talents in organized professional baseball prior to Jackie Robinson, when he played for three seasons for Buffalo in the International League. His case is nevertheless among the most speculative of any player we have elected.

VII. Mistakes
21. Nellie Fox. Total = 218. I am in agreement with Dan R. on Fox’s case, though my view of him isn’t quite so strongly negative as Dan’s. Had a few fine seasons as a hitter, but in most seasons made too many outs, and he never had any power. Overrated mainly because of his durability. Durability is a virtue, but when value is being measured over a baseline that is too low, durable players will be overrated. The overrating of Fox took him across our in/out line.
   6. bjhanke Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:08 AM (#2802793)
A couple of quick questions and some insider information on Rogers Hornsby's defense:

1. Can I assume that Pop Lloyd will show up in the shortstops, and that's why he isn't here?
2. The HoM hasn't elected Larry Doyle yet? Huh. He seems like the quality and type that would have impressed this group.
3. I hate to ask, since probably everyone here but me knows, but what do the numbers in OCF's list represent? They look useful, but I don't have the key.

On Hornsby: If I track the numbers right, Hornsby's balance inner-ear problem occurred in 1923 and persisted thereafter. This agrees with Bob Broeg's memory, but he did not claim much accuracy for that. He did not claim to be an expert on injuries and had, for example, no idea what happened to Hornsby in 1918 that caused him to be moved away from shortstop. However, when I asked him, and my dad, what the effect of Hornsby's balance problem was, they both said exactly the same thing, just as for George Sisler's bunts. They said that Hornsby's teams, after 1923, had a special play for popups and fly balls that might cause the second baseman to have to back up. In the play, the first baseman and shortstop, not to mention the right fielder, took off to try to catch the ball. The pitcher went to first base, and Hornsby covered second. I'm not sure - neither old man was - but this may have been the standard play on Hornsby's teams for any high popup to second base. The effect of the play was to minimize popups to second falling in for singles. I tried, in one of the BBBAs, to examine this claim by looking at putout totals for second baseman, first basemen and shortstops on the teams surrounding Hornsby player moves. I'm not sure the study was definitive, because there wasn't good consistency in who was playing first and short when, but I do think I saw enough to believe that the overall effect on Hornsby's teams was on the order of 5 or so extra singles a year, which isn't much. I'm pretty sure that 10 would be too high. I think that, if you think about it, that makes sense. You're talking about popups that a normal second baseman CAN catch while backing up, but that neither a shortstop nor a first baseman nor a right fielder can catch running forward, which is much faster moving than backing up is. That's not a lot of plays there. If the popup is high enough, one of the three forward runners can catch it. If it's too low or too hard, no second baseman is going to get to it.

On the other hand, Bob Broeg did also add that one of the things that caused Hornsby's teammates to get mad at him was that he would not hang in there on a close play on a stolen base. He was afraid of getting spiked, and thought of himself as such a valuable hitter that a stolen base was not worth the risk (reasonable, if you think about it, but no doubt annoying). If Broeg is to be believed, and I think he may, some of Hornsby's teams may have just had the shortstop cover second on all stolen bases, which would have exposed those teams to the hit and run.

I don't know what value you will place on either of these concepts, but they would both cause Hornsby's defensive stats to drop quite a bit. In the first case, you can argue that the effect on Hornsby's stats was much greater than on his team's wins, but in the second case, there is the hit and run to deal with. I mean, if you know that the shortstop is always going to cover....

Anyway, that's all the Broeg/dad stuff I have on Hornsby. Hope some of it helps.
   7. OCF Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:19 AM (#2802796)
1. Pop Lloyd will be classified as a SS. I'm guessing Paul Molitor will be classified as a 3B, and I'm afraid to ask which list Pete Rose is on.

2. Despite my efforts over these many years, we have not elected Larry Doyle. We know he could hit. Attitudes about his defense range from calling him a "statue" to saying, "hey, McGraw left him there for many years, and McGraw appreciated defense."

3. My numbers: a home-brew of RCAA adopted from a single specific source - a 2000 edition of a Stats Handbook. Runs created above average are then run through a PythPat computation to become wins; the numbers, season by season, are in 10ths of wins (which is, under some circumstances, pretty close to runs.) There's no adjustment for position - it's RCAA, not RCAP. For presentation, I sort the seasons of a career from best to worst.
   8. Gary A Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:21 AM (#2802798)
1. Can I assume that Pop Lloyd will show up in the shortstops, and that's why he isn't here?

Lloyd was a regular shortstop from 1907 through 1923, 17 seasons. He didn't become a second baseman until he was 39. He moved himself when he became manager of the Bacharachs in 1924 because the team already had the much younger Dick Lundy at short. He would remain at second until midway through 1928, when he rearranged the Lincoln Giants' infield and put himself at first.
   9. DCW3 Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:47 AM (#2802805)
The battle for the top spot should be much more challenging than it was for the previous two position elections.

It's interesting to me how clear-cut the top player seems to be at so many of these positions. Catcher and first base were unanimous choices, and I wouldn't expect a lot of debate over #1 at 3B, SS, LF or RF. (There would be some arguments at LF if you were waiting to vote until Bonds was eligible, but not much as it is, I'd think.) Really, second base and center look like the only non-pitcher positions where the top spot will be a challenge.
   10. whoisalhedges Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:15 PM (#2802838)
My top four is also bunched incredibly tightly. A strict timeline/quality of competition adjustment, which I favor personally but doesn't seem to be in keeping with the spirit of the HoM, would put Little Joe first. In following these discussions, though, and seeing the Hall's efforts to ensure that the oldtimers get their due from us geeks who like to point out that black players, foreign players, and Westerners were effectively prevented from displaying their abilities, I'll probably relent and go with Collins.

Funny, just like in James' rankings, Rajah ends up stuck at #3. Odd for such a great hitter, but both Morgan and Collins were better with the leather and more durable.

My preliminary top-10:
1) Collins
2) Morgan
3) Hornsby
4) Lajoie
5) Robinson
6) Grich
7) Sandberg
8) Gehringer
9) Whitaker
10) Barnes

A few spots might change, but the rest of my ballot is a lot more variable at this point.
   11. sunnyday2 Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:25 PM (#2802841)
Prlim

1. Eddie Collins
2. Joe Morgan--flip a coin

3. Nap Lajoie
4. Rogers Hornsby--then flip another. But for me, there's something to the fact that so many teams shipped Hornsby's ass out of town the first chance they got. He's a guy I just wouldn't pick for my team in the real world, and so the virtual world follows.

(Big Gap)

5. Jackie Robinson--this is based on peak value, obviously, though for peak value I suppose I could have him as high as #1.
6. Charlie Gehringer--above: the Inner Circle. Below: the merely Great.

(Gap)

7. Ryne Sandberg
8. Rod Carew--this is probably too high, Carew is one of the more over-rated players around. Take Carew and Killebrew, e.g. I am guessing the consensus would be for Carew. Having watched them play for a decade or so apiece, to me there's no question I would want Killebrew on my team first. Still I'm not sure who else to put at #8 if its not Rodney.

9. Bobby Grich--better than Carew, I suppose...?
10. Frankie Frisch--grrr

11. Ross Barnes--best peak among the rest, 19C version of Rod Carew?

(Small Gap)

(Larry Doyle)

12. Billy Herman
13. Nellie Fox--perfect storm of small ball skills, not the type of player I usually like, but....
14. Hardy Richardson--19C version of Ryno?
15. Joe Gordon

(Small Gap)

16. Bobby Doerr--Gordon and Doerr next to each other on the list, but Gordon really was a lot more valuable.
17. Bid McPhee--19C version of Nellie Fox?
18. Frank Grant--19C version of Lou Whitaker?
19. Cupid Childs--19C version of Bobby Grich?

(Not PHoM)

20. Lou Whitaker

(Fred Dunlap)
(Bill Monroe)

21. Willie Randolph
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:13 PM (#2802860)
Really, second base and center look like the only non-pitcher positions where the top spot will be a challenge.


LF is not a done deal either, though I would still go with Williams.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:17 PM (#2802864)
I'm guessing Paul Molitor will be classified as a 3B, and I'm afraid to ask which list Pete Rose is on.


Correct about Molitor, OCF, and Rose is a right fielder.
   14. Dizzypaco Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:38 PM (#2802878)
Rose is a right fielder.

Rose played more games at 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and left field. Just curious for the rationale of putting him in right. I know he had a few of his better seasons while playing right, but it was so short. I suppose you could find an argument for putting him almost anywhere...

Also, it would be an interesting study to see how it affects him - where would he rank at each position if you put him there. I guess you could leave out 1st, because those years were just the end of his career.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:44 PM (#2802882)
Rose played more games at 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and left field. Just curious for the rationale of putting him in right.


He had more value in right field than any other position.
   16. Paul Wendt Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:21 PM (#2802905)
OCF:
2. Despite my efforts over these many years, we have not elected Larry Doyle. We know he could hit. Attitudes about his defense range from calling him a "statue" to saying, "hey, McGraw left him there for many years, and McGraw appreciated defense."

good summary


9. DCW3 * Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:47 AM (#2802805)
> The battle for the top spot should be much more challenging than it was for the previous two position elections.

It's interesting to me how clear-cut the top player seems to be at so many of these positions. Catcher and first base were unanimous choices, and I wouldn't expect a lot of debate over #1 at 3B, SS, LF or RF. (There would be some arguments at LF if you were waiting to vote until Bonds was eligible, but not much as it is, I'd think.) Really, second base and center look like the only non-pitcher positions where the top spot will be a challenge.


Bill James puts Stearnes, Suttles, Irvin, and Hill in left but none would challenge Ted. He needs to move Charleston over.


sunnyday2:
8. Rod Carew--this is probably too high, Carew is one of the more over-rated players around.
around the Twin Cities?
Take Carew and Killebrew, e.g. I am guessing the consensus would be for Carew. Having watched them play for a decade or so apiece, to me there's no question I would want Killebrew on my team first. Still I'm not sure who else to put at #8 if its not Rodney.
. . .
11. Ross Barnes--best peak among the rest, 19C version of Rod Carew?


anything in particular?
Carew would have been one of the best fair-foul hitters of his time, I'm sure of that.


bjhanke:
1. Can I assume that Pop Lloyd will show up in the shortstops, and that's why he isn't here?

We have about 30 players from the Negro Leagues

In the Biographical Encyclopedia, Riley lists 2b as the primary position of Frank Grant and Larry Doby and first among the primary positions of Martin Dihigo ("2b of p 1b").
He lists 2b as a secondary position for shortstops Lundy, Wells, Lloyd, and Johnson (not Robinson or Moore) and for thirdbasemen Dandridge and Wilson (not Beckwith or Johnson).
   17. frannyzoo Posted: June 02, 2008 at 02:59 PM (#2802951)
Dear Far Smarter Than Me Students of Baseball: One of the many fun things of being a schoolteacher in Summer is having the time to read these threads. I learn a great deal, and appreciate you guys taking the time to hash these things out. I'm especially looking forward to the rest of the 2B thread, to see if Morgan ends up overtaking at least Hornsby for 1st/2nd.

Meanwhile, on Pete Rose...John you say his value was highest at RF, but wasn't his arm so-so? Or are you looking at his offensive production during his time at RF? I always think of him as a 3B myself, I guess because that's where he was during the heyday of the "Big Red Machine". Well, a 3B and a scumbag. Perhaps you guys can finish your analysis with a vote for biggest scumbag in the HOM.
   18. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2008 at 03:03 PM (#2802956)
2B prelim

One interesting thing to note, there are no PHoM not HoM second basemen on my list. There is, however, one HoM not PHoM player...

1) Eddie Collins - consensus seems to be gaining
2) Rogers Hornsby - what a hitter
3) Nap Lajoie - terrific defender as well as a great hitter
4) Joe Morgan - I'm not going to override anything the system spits out here
5) Charlie Gehringer
6) Bid McPhee
7) Jackie Robinson - would rank 5th if I considered intangibles including position versatility
8) Rod Carew - better than Killer at defense, baserunning, situational hitting, pretty much everything except hitting home runs
9) Frankie Frisch
10) Bobby Grich
11) Lou Whitaker
12) Ryne Sandberg - seems awfully low when you consider reputation
13) Ross Barnes - a most uncertain placement, I need help on him
14) Frank Grant
(Roberto Alomar)
15) Billy Herman
16) Bobby Doerr
17) Joe Gordon
18) Willie Randolph
19) Hardy Richardson
20) Cupid Childs
21) Nellie Fox - If I could rank him lower, I would. Worst player in the HoM, about 110 players (and 5-6 second basemen) stand in line ahead of Fox for my PHoM.
   19. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: June 02, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2802990)
Prelim and subject to change:

1. Hornsby
2. Lajoie
3. Collins: The top three may get shuffled
(small gap)
4. Morgan
(gap)
5. Robinson
(small gap)
6. Barnes: I think he's going to drop a bit as I read more about him.
7. Gehringer
8. Carew
(small gap)
9. Grich
10. Sandberg
11. Frisch
12. Richardson
13. Doerr
14. Herman
(small gap)
15. Whitaker
16. Grant
17. McPhee
(gap)
18. Gordon
19. Childs
(gap)
20. Fox
21. Randolph
   20. Dizzypaco Posted: June 02, 2008 at 03:45 PM (#2802994)
Depending on the system, I could see a scenario where Morgan is particularly underrated. Morgan's OPS, for example, is heavily based on on-base percentage, meaning traditional OPS and OPS+ probably underrates him. Then, combine that with excellent speed and baserunning, creating possibly synnergy, as would be the case with Henderson and Raines (and Collins). Some systems may account for all of this, but keep it in mind.
   21. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2803031)
I'm not a voter, but have followed the process from afar for a while. And I wanted to throw some thoughts into this thread:

Hornsby seems to suffer from the Dick Stuart observation that Bill James quoted (and I can't find where either said it, so I'm almost certainly mangling the line and/or the attirubtion), that a guy can hit 30 home runs and he's a star, but hit 60 home runs (when everyone else is hitting 30) and people can't take it in, so they discount it and/or ignore it.

He hit for a 175 OPS+.

Here are the OPS+s for what look like the early choices for the rest of the top four: Lajoie, 150; Collins, 141; Morgan, 132.

For comparison, here are the OPS+s for some first basemen

Gehrig: 179
Foxx: 163 <- reasonably analogous to Lajoie
Anson: 141 <- reasonably analogous to Collins
Hernandez: 128 <- reasonably analogous to Morgan

Gehrig was the consensus number one first baseman and it is arguable that Hornsby was the better hitter (without adjusting for position). Foxx had a longer career than Gehrig and was likely a better fielder (getting opportunities at catcher and third base, and possessing a good enough arm to get opportunities to pitch) and yet most everyone ranked Gehrig ahead of Foxx. Anson had a longer career than Gehrig, and yet Gehrig ranks ahead. Hernandez had a longer career than Gehrig and was likely a MUCH better fielder and yet didn't come close to beating out Gehrig.

What are the knocks against Hornsby: personality? His teams got rid of him quickly, especially later in his career. And? As if we who follow baseball haven't seen lots of stupid decisions made by teams all the time? As if we haven't seen people mis-evaluate the value of players all the time? Hornsby was the Ted Williams (or Barry Bonds) or the Babe Ruth of his position -- and suddenly we're worrying about personality?

Then there's the knock on his defense. So not only did Hornsby play 1500 games at second, but he played 350 at shortstop and 150 at third base. If this were a player that Bill James hadn't gone out of his way to knock his defense, would we be so quick to assume he was bad enough defensively as to make Collins/Lajoie/Morgan better? Maybe he wasn't Mazeroski, but teams still did not move him to first base (again, because this can't be repeated enough, where he would have been about as good a hitter as Gehrig for his career).

I'm not sure of why Hornsby gets this treatment. Partly I think it's the Bill James influence. Partly I think it's the very human tendency to want to make the unconventional, offbeat choice to show how much more of an insider one is. Baseball teams do this when they try to justify playing players like Darren Erstad -- he's got value that you, who don't know as much, can't see. Analysts do this when they want to rank Speaker over Cobb (which I will try to sometimes argue) or Tenace over Freehan (which I've tried to argue) or... and so on. And there's nothing wrong with that. But in this case we've got one of the five best hitters of all time, playing a (relatively -- not as much so back then as now) key defensive position well enough that he wasn't moved from it except to play other key positions, and it seems we're looking for reasons not to vote for him.

I'm not saying that he's the best (and even if I were, I'm not voting, so my saying so is unimportant). I'm asking the voters to consider whether or not they're ignoring an elephant in the room. If we had the numbers to justify it, it might well be the case that Hornsby : second basemen :: Gibson : (nonPiazza) catchers. And Gibson finished first. Or, Hornsby : second basemen :: Williams : (nonBonds) left fielders. And Williams seems likely to finish first at his position too. So why does Hornsby get dropped?

I know... because his defense was allegedly bad and he had an allegedly poison personality and because the other players vieing for the top spot were good players too who were more well-rounded and so forth. If that's the consensus, then so be it. Collins over Hornsby seems like a lot more difficult to argue than, say, Speaker over Cobb, but if that's just me, then fair enough.

One last thought. Step into a time machine. Make Rogers Hornsby a first baseman from the get-go. Defensively, he's fine (somewhere between Hernandez and Stuart, and not too close to either -- popups are covered by the second basemen and the catcher, and he's fine on everything else). And he hits the way he did. I submit that it'd be justifiable to place him ahead of Gehrig as a first baseman (at the least, it'd be tough to choose between them). In that same time machine, move Gehrig to second base (Wally Pipp never sits out?) and assume his defense is good enough for his teams never to move him off of second base. Where would Gehrig rank as a second baseman?

There are lots of reasons to knock Hornsby down. Are we making too much of them, and ignoring how much better his bat was than anyone else who ever played his position (or just about any other)?
   22. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:44 PM (#2803033)
Aargh, I hate not being able to edit after the fact. Assume that any lousy spelling, grammar, or arguments would be wonderfully and magically cleaned up (if I hadn't been silly enough to hit "submit" before remembering that I wouldn't be able to edit later).
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2803035)
Edit feature not working?
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:51 PM (#2803036)
Yup.
   25. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2803039)
Dan R's numbers (not the latest revision) for a career analysis

Player BWAA2 BRWAA2 FWAA2 WARP2
Collins 83.4 5.5 13.1 130.2
Hornsby 99.2 -0.4 -5.8 123.5
Lajoie 75.2 0.4 17.4 117.4
Morgan 68.2 7.8 -0.6 113.9

Hornsby clearly has the advantage in batting but he gives it up by being only an average baserunner and a below average (not poor) fielder. Collins was a terrific baserunner and fielder and that makes up the gap from Hornsby's bat.

I don't bother to look at peak/prime so I'll let someone else comment about how Hornsby ranks in those areas.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:08 PM (#2803052)
Meanwhile, on Pete Rose...John you say his value was highest at RF, but wasn't his arm so-so? Or are you looking at his offensive production during his time at RF?


I'm factoring in his total offensive and defensive contribution in right field.

Dear Far Smarter Than Me Students of Baseball: One of the many fun things of being a schoolteacher in Summer is having the time to read these threads. I learn a great deal, and appreciate you guys taking the time to hash these things out. I'm especially looking forward to the rest of the 2B thread, to see if Morgan ends up overtaking at least Hornsby for 1st/2nd.


Thanks, Franny!
   27. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:08 PM (#2803053)
What credit does Hornsby get for his time at shortstop and third under Dan R's system? How are baserunning values determined (and to tenths of a win?) for players for which caught-stealing data is incomplete?

For whatever it's worth, bb-ref has the following numbers for "batting wins" (compared to average):

Hornsby85.4
Collins
66.4
Lajoie
:  61.9
Morgan
:  50.4 


That's 19 wins that Collins needs to make up on Hornsby in baserunning (despite almost certainly not having good success percentage-wise at stealing bases) and fielding (despite the fact that Hornsby was, at one point, considered a good enough fielder that he played 500 games at short and third base). I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's far from a given, it would seem to me.
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#2803065)
Foxx had a longer career than Gehrig and was likely a better fielder (getting opportunities at catcher and third base, and possessing a good enough arm to get opportunities to pitch) and yet most everyone ranked Gehrig ahead of Foxx.

Foxx played 14.35 full seasons equivalent in the field, Gehrig 13.90.
Collins played 17.72, Hornsby 14.20.

Gehrig and Collins played more genuinely full seasons.
Foxx and Collins played more calendar years.

Lajoie 16.19, Morgan 16.01
I am surprised that Morgan played only 16 full seasons fielding games (#33 at all positions in sum), merely half-way from Hornsby to Collins.

--
(Gehrig and Lajoie played almost every game in the field. The other four finished with about 3/4 fse games as batters and runners only, presumably pinch-hit games.)
(Anson played much longer than everyone else here, measured by fse games or by the calendar.
Hernandez played only 12.81 seasons in the field.)
   29. whoisalhedges Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:35 PM (#2803075)
#21) Actually, James goes out of his way to state that Hornsby was not a horrible fielder, just not as good as anyone who played more games than he did at second. He wasn't a BAD second baseman; it's just that if he was any worse, he wouldn't have stayed at second.

James' interpretation is a lot kinder to Hornsby than I've seen traditionally. Until I read the new Historical Abstract, I'd been raised with the impression that Hornsby was historically awful in the field, that his managers were flat-out stupid not to have moved him to first or the outfield. Now, I don't think that to be the case. I am, however, fairly certain that he was a sight worse than Collins, Morgan, or Lajoie with the glove.
   30. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:38 PM (#2803079)
> considered a good enough fielder that he played 500 games at short and third base

Is second base not considered an important defensive position?

Hornsby was a good enough fielder to play a slightly below average 2B for many seasons. I think you can tally 16 (Dan R's number) to 19 (your number) wins over the course of a career between a gold glove 2B and a merely average 2B. That's less than 1.5 wins a season.
   31. Paul Wendt Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:53 PM (#2803089)
I'm not sure of why Hornsby gets this treatment. Partly I think it's the Bill James influence. Partly I think it's the very human tendency to want to make the unconventional, offbeat choice to show how much more of an insider one is.
outsider?

Ranking Rogers Hornsby baseball's greatest secondbaseman is not so conventional that anyone can win a reputation as Hunter S. Thompson, Sigmund Freud, Oscar Wilde, or Bertolt Brecht by ranking someone else number one.

For reference here are the

Clay Davenport's WARP
WARP1    tBRAR    tBRAA    tFRAR    tFRAA    tPRAR    WARP2    WARP3
235.5    1068    728    514     84    0    172.7    180.6    Collins
[b]173.8[
/b]    1059    738    446    -79    0    [b]163.3[/b]    165.3    Morgan
214.9     935    630    487    109    0    154.8    163.8    Lajoie
201.9    1118    866    330    
-69    0    155.5    162.8    Hornsby

181.4    964    642    658    218    0    177.6    183.0    Robinson x 2 


Those are translated batting and fielding runs, which put Morgan in the first class with the others. The others lose a lot in translation for league quality where Morgan does not lose much (bold).
Before translation Davenport sees Hornsby 57 runs above Collins at bat, 337 runs behind Collins in the field. Net 280 runs for Collins which is the whole(?) or the main part(?) of the 33 extra wins for Collins.
   32. Paul Wendt Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:54 PM (#2803091)
23. Ray DiPerna Posted: June 02, 2008 at 12:50 PM (#2803035)
Edit feature not working?

We have never enjoyed an edit feature here.
   33. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 05:58 PM (#2803093)
As I understand it, second base was not considered as important a defensive position in Hornsby's time as short and third were. And of Hornsby and Collins, Hornsby was the one who actually spent 500+ games at short and third. That doesn't mean anything in and of itself (Jose Offerman spent more time at shortstop than Bill Mazeroski), but exceptions aside, it might tend to suggest he may not have been as bad relative to Collins as one might think.

As for Collins's defensive advantage, I'm happy to grant that it may have been as big as that, but I'd be wary of actually granting that it was... at least until I have a sense of how the numbers used to compare old ballplayers (for whom we don't have PBP) compare modern ballplayers for whom we do have PBP (and thus for whom we have other metrics we can use in comparison).

I absolutely do not trust witnesses' accounts of their defense -- I don't ignore the accounts, but I don't trust them either. If the only things that survive the Libertarian Revolution of 2017 are some award voting records, the opinions of the most established members of the fourth estate, and one feverishly-impassioned denigration of Mike Bordick by one of the leaders of the Revolution, then fifty years from now Derek Jeter might end up being considered one of the best fielders for his position of the last 20 years. I wouldn't want our descendants to trust those witnesses' opinions either.
   34. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2803109)
But aren't two of the oft-quoted problems with the WARP numbers that replacement level for offense is set too low, and that no one trusts the defensive numbers whatsoever, including the BP people who theoretically use them?

By BRAA, Hornsby has a 128-run advantage over Morgan, a 138-run advantage over Collins, and a 236 run advantage over Lajoie. This may well not give enough credit to the others for their longer careers, but is that worse than (possibly) giving them too much credit? Taking BRAA and FRAA (for whatever we think that's worth), we get...

Collins 812, Hornsby 797, Lajoie 739, Morgan 659.

Again, I don't know what credit FRAA deserves in its valuation, nor do I know what credit Hornsby gets (or deserves) for time spent at possibly more difficult defensive positions (at a time in his career when he likely was a better fielder, and so could have racked up more defensive value if he'd been compared to second basemen rather than shortstops/third basemen).

It seems to me that there's a very real peak vs. career argument to be waded through with respect to Collins and Hornsby. It may well be that Collins deserves to rank ahead of Hornsby when all is said and done. I'd just like to see the arguments made (but again, since I'm not voting, if you and other voters don't feel like making the arguments any more than you already have here and in other threads, I guess that's certainly fair enough -- it's your Hall of Merit much more than it is mine).

If it turned out that Gehrig really played second base all those years (and played it acceptably), would he rank as low as fourth? I find it hard not to look at Hornsby and not see a right-handed Lou Gehrig who played second base (albeit with a higher average and fewer home runs, of course). I find it difficult to wrap my head around the idea that if Lou Gehrig can be the best first baseman pretty much on the basis of his bat (or Josh Gibson the best catcher on the basis of his bat or Ted Williams on the basis of his), that someone who hit just about as well at second base (against a much lower standard of offense than Gehrig or Williams, at least) wouldn't be the best second baseman.
   35. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:38 PM (#2803125)
We have never enjoyed an edit feature here.


I never understood why we don't rate that feature.

As for Hornsby? Looks like he will be #1 for me.
   36. Mark Donelson Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:47 PM (#2803135)
This is the position where I'm most out-of-sync with the electorate--four HOM/not PHOMs, and one PHOM/not HOM (Larry Doyle). I make it up with third basemen and catchers, I like to think.

prelim

1. E. Collins-Yeah, me too. Defense is what puts him over the top, obviously.
2. Hornsby-Very, very close. Could still swap these two.
(gap)
3. Lajoie
4. Morgan-Only timelining can get him past Lajoie in my system, and I'm not starting now.
(gap)
5. J. Robinson
(gap)
6. Gehringer
7. Sandberg
8. Barnes-An estimate, perhaps a bit too high
9. Frisch
10. H. Richardson-Oddly, I feel pretty good about this placement.
11. Grich-Not quite the peak to get higher with me, but still, what have the voters been smoking?
12. Carew
13. Herman
14. Childs
15. Grant-Very speculative, perhaps also too high
16. Gordon
17. Fox-Not as low on him as many. Borderline, certainly, though.
18. Doerr-Not actually in my PHOM yet, but will be my very next backlogger in.
19. Whitaker-Not in my PHOM, though also getting fairly close. Not enough peak; would have to be Ozzie Smith with the glove to be as high for me as some here have him.
(gap)
20. McPhee-Not in my PHOM. Looks more like the 19C Bill Mazeroski to me.
21 Randolph-Not in my PHOM and won't be. Much as I love Willie (proving I'm a Yankees fan, not a Mets fan), just nowhere near enough peak, and in his case, even the best defense in recorded history wouldn't fix that.
   37. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:48 PM (#2803136)
LF is not a done deal either, though I would still go with Williams.

I'd go with Musial.

Prelim:

1. Collins
2. Hornsby
3. Morgan
4. Lajoie

All top 20 players

5. Gehringer
6. Robinson
7. Carew
8. Frisch
9. Sandberg
10. Grich
11. Herman
12. Whitaker
13. McPhee
14. Doerr
15. Fox
16. Randolph
17. Richardson
18. Gordon
19. Childs
20. Barnes
21. Grant

I'm going to have to read up again on the last 2.
   38. Mike Green Posted: June 02, 2008 at 06:48 PM (#2803137)
The other tricky part in evaluating Hornsby is L/R issues. Sportsman's Park was a paradise for a left-handed hitter (354 ft. to right-center and 315 feet to right-center). In the early 20s, spectacular lines were put up by left-handed hitters Sisler and Kenny Williams there.

I see his dominance from 1921-25 as resulting from a perfect storm. Very good to excellent hitter entering his prime in the right place when the lively ball era arrives. It's like Hack Wilson's 1930 writ long.
   39. Mark Donelson Posted: June 02, 2008 at 07:08 PM (#2803169)
I never understood why we don't rate that feature.

Well, I can see it causing problems with voting, potentially, no?
   40. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 07:09 PM (#2803176)
The other tricky part in evaluating Hornsby is L/R issues. Sportsman's Park was a paradise for a left-handed hitter (354 ft. to right-center and 315 feet to right-center). In the early 20s, spectacular lines were put up by left-handed hitters Sisler and Kenny Williams there.


Except Hornsby was right-handed.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 07:12 PM (#2803179)
Well, I can see it causing problems with voting, potentially, no?


As a ballot tallier? Could be if the voter correcting his ballot didn't notify me about it.
   42. RobertMachemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 07:58 PM (#2803237)
Except Hornsby was right-handed.
Which would mean that spectacular numbers by lefties there would make Hornsby look worse than he actually was since things like OPS+ would assume the park was helping him as much as it was the lefties.

As I say, it's entirely possible that Hornsby was a better hitter than Gehrig (he may not have been as well, but adjusting for how their park helped their handedness hurts Gehrig and helps Hornsby, for instance). And Hornsby played second base.

Gehrig = Hornsby? If so, unless Collins (and maybe others) > Gehrig, then Hornsby > Collins (and others).
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2803251)
Which would mean that spectacular numbers by lefties there would make Hornsby look worse than he actually was since things like OPS+ would assume the park was helping him as much as it was the lefties.


I agree, Robert.
   44. TomH Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:25 PM (#2803259)
excpet Gehrig is a clear #1 at 1B more because we lack great career 1Bmen more than anything else. I mean, who is #2; Foxx let's say. J Foxx would not rate in our overall top 30 if we rated EVERYBODY together. While our 4th-best second baseman would, as would our 3rd best LFer and 5th best CFer.

BP tranlstaed stats

slugger AB+w .OBP SLG
Hornsby 9586 .418 .629
Gehrig . 9220 .417 .668

I can see putting the Rajah ahead of Lou, even if his D was poor, based on the position difference. Personally, tho, Gehrig's stunning WS ##s (1200 OPS, more RBI than G played) push him ahead.

I have Rajah-Morgan-Collins virtually tied for the top spot, after spending too much time pondering the question over the past 10 years. Discounting Lajoie's 1901 nudges him down to 4th place.
   45. OCF Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:31 PM (#2803264)
Discounting Lajoie's 1901 nudges him down to 4th place.

I'm probably with you on that one. But I just wanted to note that in my post #4 you see three 95+ entries in Lajoie's line - and the top one isn't even 1901. It's 1904.

But then after those three top years, Lajoie is clearly 4th out of 4 for years 4 through about 10.
   46. Dizzypaco Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:35 PM (#2803266)
Comparing Hornsby to Morgan and Collins is strange, because you are comparing two multi-dimensional players to a one-dimensional player. But the one dimension is so incredible that I think Robert is right. I didn't necessarily think that before today, but after looking at their careers for a while, I think its pretty clear. I agree that Lajoie is a pretty clear #4.
   47. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:55 PM (#2803278)
Rose played more games at 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and left field. Just curious for the rationale of putting him in right.

He had more value in right field than any other position.


Rose is a strange/tough case for sure. He had 4 years at 2B, 3B, LF and RF from 1963-78, with very little crossover (1969, where he play 101 in RF and 59 in CF, was the only year he played less than 123 games at one position during that timeframe).

I think it's debatable where he had more value, without having run the numbers, between LF and RF.

I think RF is the most reasonable spot to put him. For one it's very close, no matter where you pick. And LF/RF is pretty darn close to the same thing, and combined, it clearly represents his prime and is more valuable than his 2B or 3B time. RF is a little tougher than LF (because you need an arm) and since his non-LF/RF years were 2B/3B (leaving out his 1B years since he didn't get there until he was 38), I'd lean towards putting him at the more skilled position. I'd probably rank them RF/3B/LF/2B/1B in terms of the most appropriate list to put him on.

I still see an argument for putting Dick Allen at 3B instead of 1B as well.
   48. bjhanke Posted: June 02, 2008 at 08:58 PM (#2803281)
Here are some additional Hornsby notes, since the comments here are all over the place.

1. Hornsby was NOT discarded by a bunch of teams as soon as they could get rid of him. That happened exactly once, in 1927, when he and John McGraw found themselves unable to get along (Hornsby was desperate for a managing job, which was not available on the Giants), so the Giants jettisoned him one year after acquiring him. They traded him to Boston, whose owner was trying to win a pennant by acquiring the aging Hornsby and George Sisler (and letting Hornsby manage). This didn't work, so Hornsby ended up in Chicago, where he finished his effective career. McGraw spent the next couple of decades telling the New York press how horrid Hornsby had been, since he had to explain trading his best player away after only one year. That's not to say that Hornsby was pleasant to deal with, but he was not a travelling horror show until very late, when he was more a manager than a player. I have a longer post on this subject, but it will have to wait until tonight. My basic opinion is that McGraw did a lot of the damage to Hornsby's pesonality reputation. Hornsby's obsession with managing did the rest.

2. Hornsby's defense was NOT considered bad when he was young. Before 1918, he was a shortstop, and a decent one. Something happened that year - he missed some games - and he was moved off of short and to second. Then, and I do think it was 1923, he developed some sort of inner ear balance problem that left him unable to back up to catch popups. This is excessively well documented, both the nature of the injury/illness and the specific effect on his defensive skills. As my post above says, there is some anecdotal evidence that Hornsby's teams were able to counter the problem to a large extent, which is in Hornsby's favor. Against Hornsby is the comment that he was reluctant to cover second on a tough play.

3. One thing that I think is true is that the balance problem is what led to Honsby's remaining at second. Consider the exact problem - the man could not go back for a fly ball or popup. Well, that eliminates the outfield and catcher. And then it eliminates first base and third. Hornsby was moved off shortstop in the teens. What's left? Second base. You simply cannot project Hornsby as a first baseman, because the specific nature of his defensive problem eliminates that position. There are too many popups to first for someone with that problem to play there. So Hornsby remained anchored at the keystone. After 1931, he moves around a lot, but he's playing very small parts of seasons, and he is his own manager. Other managers realized that it was second or nothing.

4. You can find a larger post on the effects of Sportsman's Park in a post I made about George Sisler in the first base discussion thread. Essentially, someone ran enough numbers to prove that the park was neutral for Hornsby's homers. I believe that the park was essentially neutral for Hornsby and all righty hitters. It was a bandbox for lefty power hitters like Ken Williams. Later on, they put a screen up in front of the right field seats, and the park started turning homers into doubles, but in Hornsby's time, it was a true lefty homer bandbox.
   49. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 02, 2008 at 09:02 PM (#2803283)
I'm assuming that Babe Ruth will be regarded as a rightfielder? The numbers for games in LF (1057) and RF (1131), are close, but post-1921, Ruth's position was mandated more by which was the sun field in a particular park that day than anything else.
   50. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 02, 2008 at 09:08 PM (#2803286)
I find it difficult to wrap my head around the idea that if Lou Gehrig can be the best first baseman pretty much on the basis of his bat (or Josh Gibson the best catcher on the basis of his bat or Ted Williams on the basis of his), that someone who hit just about as well at second base (against a much lower standard of offense than Gehrig or Williams, at least) wouldn't be the best second baseman.


I agree it seems strange, but I think it's happened because the standard is tougher up the middle - more stars play those positions. Better athletes play 2B and SS. 1B is reserved for mashers that can't field - at least it has been since the end of the deadball era, save the occasional Keith Hernandez. As an aside I've never thought of that before, but Hernandez probably would have been an all-time great (as opposed to just a HoMer) if he'd played before 1920.

Anyway, 1B is strange (especially before the heyday of the 1990s and 2000s at the position) in that there haven't been a ton of superstars there. After Gehrig and Foxx, Johnny Mize is probably the 3rd best player post-1900 at the position. While Mize was great, that's a bit of a dropoff. There's probably a better '3rd best' player at every position than Mize, except maybe 3B.
   51. Dizzypaco Posted: June 02, 2008 at 09:10 PM (#2803288)
Here are some additional Hornsby notes, since the comments here are all over the place.

Terrific posting, I was going to try to do something similar myself, but I think you did a better job than I would of in making these points. I agree with all of it- your reading of point one is one of the primary reasons why I'm convinced Hornsby should be number one, rather than being marked down for this issue.
   52. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 11:13 PM (#2803359)
I think it's debatable where he had more value, without having run the numbers, between LF and RF.


I don't necessarily disagree, Joe, though my analysis of those two positions points to right field for me.
   53. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 11:21 PM (#2803366)
I still see an argument for putting Dick Allen at 3B instead of 1B as well.


Actually, I'm not sure why I placed 1B before 3B for him, Joe. That was a mistake on my part. Even with less games played, he was more productive at the hot corner.

IMO, I think we should delete Allen's vote total from the 1B results thread and insert him in the 3B thread when that election is held (is that the next one, Joe, or is it shortstops?)
   54. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 02, 2008 at 11:23 PM (#2803367)
I'm assuming that Babe Ruth will be regarded as a rightfielder? The numbers for games in LF (1057) and RF (1131), are close, but post-1921, Ruth's position was mandated more by which was the sun field in a particular park that day than anything else.


Ruth is a right fielder, vortex (and the greatest one of all-time, too).
   55. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 02, 2008 at 11:50 PM (#2803388)
Ruth is a right fielder, vortex (and the greatest one of all-time, too).


No argument there. :-)
   56. Howie Menckel Posted: June 03, 2008 at 01:35 AM (#2803547)
pct of games played at 2B, by pct (estimate for Grant):
2B - McPhee 100, Doerr 100, Childs 100, NFox 100, Gehringer 99, Morgan 99, Whitaker 99, Randolph 99, E Collins 98, Gordon 98, Herman 95, Sandberg 93, Grich 86, Lajoie 83, Frisch 77, Hornsby 72, Grant 70, Barnes 69, JRobinson 65, Carew 47, Richardson 43
.........

hybrids, with percentages:
Richardson 43 2B, 40 OF, 15 3B
Carew......47 2B, 50 1B
JRobinson..65 2B, 15 3B, 10 1B, 10 OF
Barnes.....69 2B, 28 SS
Grant......70 2B, 20 SS
Hornsby....72 2B, 16 SS
Frisch.....77 2B, 20 3B
Lajoie.....83 2B, 12 1B
...............

other HOMers with at least 10 pct here:
HR Johnson 25, Ward 24, Groh 20, Hill 20, Pike 18, Rose 18, Dihigo 15, Wright 10, Wilson 10
   57. Paul Wendt Posted: June 03, 2008 at 01:50 AM (#2803591)
RM:
Again, I don't know what credit FRAA deserves in its valuation, nor do I know what credit Hornsby gets (or deserves) for time spent at possibly more difficult defensive positions (at a time in his career when he likely was a better fielder, and so could have racked up more defensive value if he'd been compared to second basemen rather than shortstops/third basemen).
Davenport assigns Hornsby about half of his negative fielding runs (above average, translated, tFRAA) for his WWI seasons at shortstop and thirdbase and about half for the translation that supposedly puts him in context of superior modern fielders. (This part of the baseballprospectus website is open to the public. Davenport Translations, so-called DT cards.) Indeed, most of that half is for 1915 and 1916 when Hornsby was one of the worst in history at third and at short, according to D.

At secondbase he assigns these relative rates (average=100)
109 Lajoie
107 Collins
101 Hornsby
98 Morgan

Someone else alluded to reasons why Hornsby was reassigned to second. I don't know the story. If there was no change in his skills and Davenport's system is reliable at the single-season level, then it was probably a mistake to move him.
   58. Paul Wendt Posted: June 03, 2008 at 03:02 AM (#2803756)
33. Robert Machemer Posted: June 02, 2008 at 01:58 PM (#2803093)
As I understand it, second base was not considered as important a defensive position in Hornsby's time as short and third were.

Bill James draws a bright line in 1930 but his approach requires that he draw a bright line somewhere. Any change was gradual so if he is correct about the optimal place to draw the line the difference must be trivial on both sides. The question remains, how far on both sides?

In Lajoie's time, yes, the baseball writers in Sporting Life and daily newspapers remarked on 3B fielding more often than 2B fielding.

Collins became a regular 2B eleven years after Lajoie and eleven years before Hornsby but Lajoie suffered a lot of down time and played some first base during Collins's first five seasons whereas Collins was a fixture at second during Hornsby's first five seasons. On average, Collins's prime time at second was closer to Hornsby's than to Lajoie's, if that matters.


Three to five years ago in this forum, jimd looked at the batting records for evidence of contemporary perceptions about third and second. How good were the batters that managers put in the field at 3B and 2B? As I recall he found small differences. That is, between the 1900s and 1960s the positions did not flip-flop. Rather 3B was slightly the fielding-first position and 2B became hugely the fielding-first position.
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   60. bjhanke Posted: June 03, 2008 at 09:53 AM (#2803990)
OK, here's the post I promised, analyzing Hornsby with managing in mind. I want to admit up front that I have no mathematical evidence for most of this. What I did, once I realized that I wanted to know about Hornsby and managing, was to go through the writings I had about Hornsby and try to analyze them as writing. (For those of you who don't know, I do have a bachelor's degree in math, but that's nothing in strong sabermetrics. I also have a master's in English, though, and have been trained to analyze writing for things like subtext.) This means that, while I'm sure of what I write here, I can't prove any of it. Just wanted to get the confessional out of the way up front.

OK, Hornsby starts his career as a shortstop in a 1915 cup of coffee. In 1916, he gets a split tryout at third and short, settling into short in 1917. He played great there that year, but 1918 was different. Hornsby didn't play well, for him, and was likely on the borderline for shortstop defense. In any case, the Cards acquired Doc Lavan in 1919. Lavan wasn't much of a hitter, but he was a good shortstop, and ran Hornsby off the position (either that, or they got Lavan because they weren't satisfied with Hornsby's defense).

The next big thing to happen to Hornsby was 1920. That year, Babe Ruth broke loose with 54 homers, which certainly induced most fanatic hitters to at least try to see if they could apply this advantage to their own play. Also, the Cards moved out of Cardinal Park and into Sportsman's Park. This was a big thing for Hornsby. Cardinal Park was built on a long narrow city block, and its left field went halfway to Oklahoma (just for you, OCF). Sportsman's, while actually neutral for righty hitters, must have seemed like paradise to Hornsby. In any case, he proved to be one of the very first National Leaguers to be able to apply the Ruth Lesson, and started hitting tons of homers in addition to everything else. That is, it is in 1920 that Rogers Hornsby turns into ROGERS HORNSBY.

Back to shortstop. When Doc Lavan started to wear out, around 1922, they brought in Specs Toporcer, who could hit, but was, if anything, a worse defender than Hornsby. At that point, manager Branch Rickey (yes, that's right) decided to leave Hornsby at second. I don't know why. Then, in 1923, Hornsby has the balance problem (Neft & Cohen list him as having an injury that year). That problem locked him into second base, even though his defense was less than good.

The Cardinals of this period are an odd team. They have talent, because Rickey's farm system plan was starting to pay off (Rickey was both GM and manager after the Yankees lured Miller Huggins away). However, they are not a good team, probably because Rickey was not really suited to field managing. In 1925, he retired to the front office, and turned the field reins over to his superstar Hornsby. This worked great. The team improved immediately, in mid-season 1925, and played like pennant winners right through the end of 1926, winning that pennant.

At this point, Hornsby does not, as far as I can tell, have the reputation of a cosmic horror. If you look in the Historical Abstract, Bill James quotes Frank Frisch as praising the Cardinals' laid-back spring training methods, which would be the ones Hornsby installed. He's a driven, compulsive, obsessed superstar hitter, but baseball is littered with those. But then. He gets into some sort of fight with owner Sam Breadon, and also starts to fancy himself as a manager, taking credit for the '26 pennant away from Rickey's player acquisition plans. Rickey, a notorious backdoor politician, apparently hated this, and that meant that both the owner and GM wanted Hornsby gone. (My opinion of Rickey's politics are from insider info.)

At this point, lets stop thinking about Hornsby the player and start thinking about Hornsby the manager. And let's not forget that it's 1926. What's Hornsby's resume? He's managed for a year and a half, all at a pennant-winning level, with a team that Banch Rickey could not win with. And this is 1926. Branch Rickey is just getting his farm system going well, and has hired no black men to play baseball. That is, from the viewpoint of 1926, Branch Rickey is a front office politician with a big mouth full of promises that Rogers Hornsby made come true. He is nowhere close to being the BRANCH RICKEY that we all remember. If you were Sam Breadon, and Rickey and Hornsby got into a fight over credit for a pennant, which one would YOU keep? In 1926? But this louse-ridden pol gets the great Rogers Hornsby, superstar player AND manager, traded.

So what would you want, if you were Rogers Hornsby in 1927? How about revenge on Rickey and Breadon? And how to get that? Well, first, you've got to get yourself another managing job. Unfortunately, you've just been traded to the Giants, and their manager is John McGraw. The job isn't available. So McGraw and Hornsby have, shall we say, a difficult relationship, and Hornsby ends up getting discarded as soon as the season is over. He goes to the Boston Braves, whose owner was happy to let Hornsby manage if that meant he could get the great player for little in exchange. But it doesn't work. The Braves, despite adding Hornsby and George Sisler's reputation, don't go anywhere. The owner gives up on the Hornsby plan after just one year. So what was Hornsby's personality like after that year? Well, he didn't get any revenge, and his enemies' team won the pennant instead. It actually started to look like Rickey's farm system plan might be more valuable than Hornsby's managing after all. Hornsby could not have felt good about that. So what would he do to his next team? Would he poison it beyond repair with his revenge-driven obsessions?

That brings us to 1929, and Hornsby's move to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs' manager is someone named "Joe McCarthy," which means that this is another managing job that Hornsby is not going to get. Now let's look at this team, which also won its pennant. Did Hornsby's poison personality destroy this team? Well, no. They won. Was the team just so bulletproof that even the horrid Hornsby couldn't hurt it? Hardly. In fact, they really don't gain any playing quality out of Hornsby. The reason I might say that, when Rogers replaced a second baseman who hit .279 with one whole homer? Well, they did gain Hornsby, but they also lost catcher Gabby Hartnett for the entire season (sore arm). The BEST of the guys who played catcher that year hit .274 with one whole homer. And he was not Gabby Harnett on defense, either. Overall, the two positions are a wash in playing quality. And that's not to mention the likely effect on the team's pitchers of suddenly losing their defensive superstar catcher. If there was ever a good team that was primed to self-destruct over a poison personality, this was it. But they won. My conclusion? Hornsby was not poison that year. I don't know whether his one taste of managing in 1928 calmed him down, or if it was McCarthy who got him under control, but he could not have been that bad in Chicago in 1929.

1930 is another odd year. Hornsby got hurt (foot) and didn't play much, and the Cubs finished second to the hated Rickey/Breadon Cards. But it looked like light at the end of that tunnel for Hornsby's revenge. The Yankees got hold of Joe McCarthy and the manager's job went to - you guessed it. And under Hornsby, the Cubs go 4-0, almost pulling out the pennant (finished two games behind). I mean, if Hornsby had been able to play full speed, the Cubs would almost certainly have won. Is 1931 going to be Hornsby's season of triumph?

No. The Cubs slip 6 games, although they do win 84, and the foot injury turns out to have basically finished Hornsby as a player. And something finishes him as a person. By 1932, Hornsby can't play, and the Cubs are in total revolt. He does have them at the same .545 (well, .546) as 1931, but he gets fired and Charlie Grimm improves the team to .649, bringing in the flag. Hornsby gets picked up by the woeful St. Louis Browns, who probably figure that Hornsby's name will sell more tickets than his salary will cost. The team improves for one year, largely because Harlond Clift shows up. But there are no more Harlond Clifts in store, the team stays lousy, and Hornsby's behavior gets worse and worse. There will be no revenge. He can't play any more, and his drop off the player map was too fast to really adapt to. He ends up bitter, dogged by whatever Rickey and McGraw are saying and no longer able to defend himself with his bat. The book title says it all: "My War with Baseball."

Wow, this turned out to be a long post, in spite of my efforts to write short. But there it is; my analysis of what actually happened to Hornsby and when. Conclusion? Hornsby was indeed poison in 1927 and after 1931. But other than that, I don't see it. I do see a man driven by revenge, and with the wrong personality to just get over it. And also a man with the wrong enemies list (Rickey and McGraw) if you want your reputation to remain intact. A man who really destroyed his own reputation after his bat could no longer defend it, but a man who, for the great majority of his career, was no more poison than any other obsessed and cranky superstar. That's it.
   61. sunnyday2 Posted: June 03, 2008 at 11:53 AM (#2804002)
8) Rod Carew - better than Killer at defense, baserunning, situational hitting, pretty much everything except hitting home runs


This is of course hyperbole, but even if true wouldn't necessarily make Carew better or more valuable.

But just for instance, Killebrew took over 1500 walks in his career including 7 years of 100 or more, with a high of 145. His BB rate was .120. Carew took about 1000, which is not bad, but never more than 78. His rate was .065. Carew's BA is of course much higher than Killebrew's but his OBA ends up only .013 better.

Then there's run scoring. Yes, run scoring. Carew scored 100 runs once. Killebrew did it, OK, only twice. But he scored 90 6 times to Carew's thrice.

And don't take "better at defense" too much to heart. Carew was never a strong 2B.

But like I said, even if Carew was better at everything else, Killebrew's OPS is still 142 and Carew's is still 131. I would take Killebrew on my team if I could only have one.
   62. Rusty Priske Posted: June 03, 2008 at 12:41 PM (#2804018)
Prelim

1. Eddie Collins
2. Rogers Hornsby
3. Nap Lajoie
4. Joe Morgan
5. Jackie Robinson
6. Charlie Gehringer
7. Rod Carew
8. Ryne Sandberg
9. Frankie Frisch
10. Bobby Grich
11. Lou Whitaker
12. Bobby Doerr
13. Ross Barnes
14. Frank Grant
15. Billy Herman
16. Bid McPhee
17. Nellie Fox
18. Cupid Childs

Not in PHoM

19. Hardy Richardson
20. Joe Gordon
21. Willie Randolph

People who could still move up:

Nellie Fox
Cupid Childs
Bid McPhee
Frankie Frisch

People who could still move down:

Billy Herman
Bobby Grich
   63. bjhanke Posted: June 03, 2008 at 12:45 PM (#2804022)
Ack! Typo alert. Neft and Cohen has Hornsby down for an illness in 1923, not an injury. Sorry about that.
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: June 03, 2008 at 01:30 PM (#2804057)
Howie Menckel is plain, Paul Wendt is bold, neither is italic :)
>>
hybrids, with percentages:
Richardson 43 2B, 40 OF, 15 3B : centerfield 1878, Rochester, International Association
Carew......47 2B, 50 1B
JRobinson..65 2B, 15 3B, 10 1B, 10 OF : shortstop 1945, Kansas City, Negro American League
Barnes.....69 2B, 28 SS : shortstop 1867-1870, Forest City, Rockford IL; secondbase 1878, London, IA
Grant......70 2B, 20 SS
Hornsby....72 2B, 16 SS
Frisch.....77 2B, 20 3B
Lajoie.....83 2B, 12 1B</i>
<<

Richardson was one of the best players in IA1878. NY Clipper named him the best centerfielder. The SABR member who compiled records from box scores wrote 'of-2b-c' which supposedly covers every position he played at all.

Robinson played shortstop only, according to Riley.

This year I have posted some more information on Richardson 1878 and Barnes pre-1871 in their threads.
   65. Paul Wendt Posted: June 03, 2008 at 01:39 PM (#2804070)
argh, Richardson played for Utica not Rochester

In 1876 and 1877 he played for Binghamton, a leading team that (without Richardson) joined the IA pennant race in 1878.
   66. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 03, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2804180)
Whoops, I didn't get to vote on first basemen--I've been super busy--but I don't think I would have changed anything. My post-1893 MLB rankings:

1. Hornsby, $450M
2. Collins, $431M
3. Lajoie, $410M
4. Morgan, $377M--and that's after crediting him for playing in a low standard deviation league with a low 2B replacement level. I do not see how you get Morgan above the three golden oldies without timelining, unless like your only criteria is 5 year consecutive peak (in which case he's still behind Hornsby).
5. Gehringer, $245M
6. Grich, $215M
7. Robinson (with extra credit only for 1945 and 46), $210M
8. Frisch, $210M
9. Carew, $207M
(Biggio, $194M)
10. Sandberg, $187M
11. Whitaker, $183M
(Alomar, $169M)
12. Doerr, $164M
13. Herman, $159M
14. Gordon, $155M
15. Randolph, $151M
16. Childs, $146M
(Kent, $135M)
17. Fox, $135M

I'll try do to another updated defensive analysis before the voting gets going.
   67. Paul Wendt Posted: June 03, 2008 at 03:53 PM (#2804202)
My post-1893 MLB rankings:
16. Childs, $146M


Does he get to $146M without any credit for 1890-92? Or is that mainly included via some moving average?
   68. Mark Donelson Posted: June 03, 2008 at 05:32 PM (#2804286)
Someone tried to do this on another recent thread, but let me try again: What are we doing with the pitchers? (It seems that a mild consensus is forming around doing the outfielders separately by LF, CF, RF, which would be my vote as well. But the pitchers still seem more up in the air.)

Fixed.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to admit to laughing every time Kevin does one of these. Somehow it never gets old for me....
   69. whoisalhedges Posted: June 03, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2804294)
I suppose this post may be apropos of nothing, but I thought I'd do it anyway.

Having HoM-caliber players is far from the be-all/end-all (c.f. the Santo/Banks/Williams Cubs of the '60s), but normally you'd think that teams featuring the BEST PLAYER EVER at his position would be pretty good. Here's how Hornsby's teams finished in the years he played 100 or more games:

7th
3rd
8th
7th
5th
3rd
3rd
5th
6th
4th
1st ('26 Cards, won World Series, Pete Alexander might have had something to do with that)
3rd
7th (the Braves were horrible then, hard to fault Rajah)
1st ('29 Cubs)
3rd

Just a little better than half the time did Hornsby's team end up in the first division. And Rajah was hardly the only good player on most of those teams. In 1926 (the first time his team won the Series), Hornsby had the worst season of his career to that point. And the '29 Cubs, with their outfield of Riggs Stephenson, Hack Wilson, and Kiki Cuyler; and with Charlie Root on the mound, probably would have had a pretty damn good season anyway, even without Hornsby.

This is not to take anything away from Rogers Hornsby as a ballplayer. It's just curious. If a team has Jim Bottomley at first, Ray Blades and Chick Hafey in the outfield, and Bill Sherdel and Jesse Haines pitching... PLUS the all-time greatest second baseman ever, don't you think they'd win more than one pennant?

Again, this proves nothing. But it doesn't give me reason to rank Hornsby above Collins, either.
   70. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 03, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#2804301)
Paul, I came up with an estimated salary for 1890-92. The AA conversion was a bit tricky.
   71. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 03, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2804325)
Robert Machemer, Hornsby gets full credit for playing 3B and SS in the years that he did, assigning the value that those positions had in the seasons in which he played them.

Baserunning value is calculated through a ghastly regression equation that uses just about everything (position, SB rate, triples rate, estimated lineup slot etc.) to come up with an estimate. Except for seasons with extraordinarily high SB per time on base rates (like Eddie Collins in 1910), the values are almost always compressed into a -0.3 to +0.3 wins per season range.
   72. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 03, 2008 at 06:27 PM (#2804337)
Having HoM-caliber players is far from the be-all/end-all (c.f. the Santo/Banks/Williams Cubs of the '60s),


Banks wasn't remotely a HoM-caliber player after 1961.

but normally you'd think that teams featuring the BEST PLAYER EVER at his position would be pretty good.


Only if the rest of the team is up to snuff.

I guarantee you that the 1962 Mets or 1935 Braves would have still been lousy if they had either Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Mantle or Bonds at their peak.
   73. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 03, 2008 at 06:29 PM (#2804339)
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to admit to laughing every time Kevin does one of these.


I'm not sure he's doing it for a laugh, however. ;-)
   74. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 03, 2008 at 09:56 PM (#2804483)
Ruth is a right fielder, vortex (and the greatest one of all-time, too).


No argument there. :-)


You know you're good when you play the same position as Hank Aaron and there is no question as to who's better.
   75. bjhanke Posted: June 04, 2008 at 03:32 AM (#2805082)
whoisalhedges says, "This is not to take anything away from Rogers Hornsby as a ballplayer. It's just curious. If a team has Jim Bottomley at first, Ray Blades and Chick Hafey in the outfield, and Bill Sherdel and Jesse Haines pitching... PLUS the all-time greatest second baseman ever, don't you think they'd win more than one pennant?"

What you've missed is context. Hornsby arrived on the Cards just as Branch Rickey did. At that time, the only talent they had was Hornsby. Rickey slowly built up the talent as GM, but that took some time, and he also insisted on being field manager, at which job he was truly lousy. Hornsby's second-division finishes break down as follows:

the 1928 Braves - one year
1916, when Miller Huggins was still managing but the team had no talent - one year
five years when Branch Rickey was managing and building up the talent - five years

That is, it's simply not true that there are a run of seasons where Hornsby was surrounded by all that other talent, and the team could not win. The talent took time to arrive, and the field manager for five of the bad years was a disaster who could not be fired because he was his own GM. When Hornsby had talent around him and a decent manager (well, McGraw and McCarthy were better than decent, but 2/5 of these years are managed by Hornsby himself), his teams finished in the first division. There are only 5 years of the good context, and even that's stretching it: 1925 (second half, Hornsby managing himself), 1926 (Hornsby managing himself), 1927 (McGraw) and two years of the Cubs under McCarthy. That's five years, with two pennants, two third places, and one fourth place, in the split-manager season of 1925. I don't think Hornsby has to apologize for that. I think Branch Rickey does, if anyone.

When Ruth and Gehrig were together, with all the other Yankee talent, they just matched that rate, winning 4 pennants in ten years. And their managers for nine of those years were Huggins and McCarthy. Do you blame Santo, Williams, and Banks for the 1969 Cubbie collapse, or do you blame Leo Durocher? People tend to deify Branch Rickey, because of the farm system and integration, and I do think he deserves a halo of some sort. But as a field manager, he was absolutely awful. As soon as he turned the team over to Hornsby, it just exploded with wins. If the Cards had kept Hornsby through 1931, thereby actually giving him some years surrounded by all that talent, he would have had at least four pennants, right? And maybe another in 1927. Branch Rickey is the dominant figure on the Cardinals of this period, not Rogers Hornsby. Oh, and by the way: Hornsby had Pete Alexander on his team with him for one half of one season, in 1926. Pete went 9 and 7, which is not exactly carrying the team. It was the next year, 1927, when the team improved by 3 games despite losing Hornsby, that Pete went 21-10, carrying all that talent plus Frank Frisch to second place.
   76. Blackadder Posted: June 04, 2008 at 02:41 PM (#2805546)
Actually, Bill James once used the fact that the Ruth/Gehrig Yankees only won four pennants in ten years as a justification for not ranking Gehrig too highly (although I think his overall ranking of Gehrig is fair).
   77. Paul Wendt Posted: June 04, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2805568)
Yes, I read that Monday night. It is in the top 100 players section of the new Historical Abstract. But his comment pertains to some of his rivals who rank Ruth-Gehrig #1-#2, in contrast to his own ranking of Gehrig merely in the second ten.

By the way, counting win shares through 2002 (Win Shares, there were 40 teams with ten players on the roster who earned 200 career win shares. Six of them were Ruth-Gehrig Yankees: 11 players in 1925, 1928, and 1933 (one pennant); 10 players in 1930, 1931, and 1934 (no pennants).

Only four teams had more than 11 players from the 200-cWS class, led by another Yankees team with 13. That was 1979, the one season 1976-80 when they didn't win.

Setting the threshold at other career totals some of the teams that show up as all-time leaders are the 1928 Athletics, one year before three straight pennants; the 1987 Athletics, one year before three straight pennants; the 1970 Cardinals, two years after back-to-back pennants.

There is not generalization here, only something that I would call remarkably common.
   78. ronw Posted: June 04, 2008 at 07:24 PM (#2805810)
After my Connor fiasco, I'm posting a preliminary. Have at the rankings below. Second Basemen ranking – MVP/AS are my own calculations, but for Negro Leaguers I use some combination of Holway/James MVP and AS selections. Monster = 15.0 WARP1 and above. Great=10.0 WARP1 and above.


Eddie Collins. 27.0 bws/700PA, 10 MVP, 18 AS. Small war credit. He knew he was awesome. Monster 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1920. Great 1911, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1923. Pro: Everything. Con: Nothing, he really had no weaknesses.

Rogers Hornsby. 32.8 bws/700PA, 10 MVP, 15 AS. Not even close on who was the best hitting 2B. Monster 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1927. Great 1917, 1919, 1923, 1925, 1928, 1929. Pro: Hitting Con: Attitude. Fielding.

Nap Lajoie. 26.7 bws/700PA, 7 MVP, 15 AS. Clearly an all-time great. Monster 1901, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910. Great 1898, 1902, 1903, 1907, 1909. Pro: Everything. Con: Shouldn’t have managed.

Joe Morgan. 26.2 bws/700PA, 9 MVP, 16 AS. He wouldn’t believe that he is the 4th best hitting 2B of all-time. Monster 1972, 1975. Great 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977. Pro: All-around play. Con: If anything, not as strong a fielder as Collins/Lajoie.

Jackie Robinson. 24.3 bws/700PA, 4 MVP, 9 AS. Did everything well. Great 1949, 1951, 1952. Pro: Playing style impact, even aside the historical significance. Con: No monster seasons; Late start due to racism.

Charlie Gehringer. 20.2 bws/700PA, 3 MVP, 13 AS. Reliable All-Star for over a decade. Great 1929, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937. Pro: Hitting. Con: No spectacular seasons.

Frankie Frisch. 17.9 bws/700PA, 4 MVP, 13 AS. Strikes me as a lesser Eddie Collins. Monster 1927. Great 1921, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1930. Pro: All-around player. Con: Lack of home run power; no monster seasons.

Bobby Grich. 20.1 bws/700PA, 5 MVP, 12 AS. Mr. underappreciated. Great 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976. Pro: Well rounded player. Con: Only potential monster season came in strike-year 1981.

Rod Carew. 22.0 bws/700PA, 4 MVP, 9 AS. As the Beastie Boys said, he got mad hits. Great 1974, 1975, 1977. Pro: Place-hitting Con: Short 2B career, lack of home run power.

Ross Barnes. 21.2 bws/700PA beginning 1876, 5 MVP, 7 AS beginning 1871. His bws/700PA would rival Collins/Lajoie/Morgan if we had WS from his NA years. Great 1875, 1876. Pro: Hitting Con: Short career.

Ryne Sandberg. 18.8 bws/700PA, 4 MVP, 10 AS. Did it all. Great 1984, 1989, 1991, 1992. Pro: Hitting, fielding. Con: Should not have come back after retirement.

Billy Herman. 17.7 bws/700PA, 2 MVP, 13 AS. War credit. Solid player for many years. Great 1935, 1936, 1937, 1943. Pro: Easily the best post-Hornsby/Frisch NL 2B. Con: No big years.

Joe Gordon. 18.5 bws/700PA, 2 MVP, 9 AS. War credit. I’m not giving 1946 credit. Great 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943. Pro: Fielding. Con: No huge seasons.

Hardy Richardson. 21.0 bws/700PA, 1 MVP, 11 AS. Unsung member of the Big Four. Great 1883, 1886, 1887, 1889. Pro: Hitting Con: Short schedules.

Bobby Doerr. 17.1 bws/700PA, 0 MVP, 10 AS. One year of war credit. Great 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946. Pro: Good hitter with good power. Con: No monster seasons.

Lou Whitaker. 18.7 bws/700PA, 1 MVP, 13 AS. Another unsung player. Great 1983. Pro: All-around steadiness for a long period. Con: No big seasons.

Cupid Childs. 18.6 bws/700PA, 2 MVP, 9 AS. Dominated a compressed league. Monster 1892, Great 1890, 1896. Pro: Clear leader of his decade. Con: Short career.

Frank Grant. N/A. The big unknown. Pro: Played at the highest level possible for 20 years. Con: Little documentation.

Bid McPhee. 15.4 bws/700PA, 1 MVP, 14 AS. A long career that deserves reward. Great 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892. Pro: Fielding. Con: Hitting; played in weaker league.

Willie Randolph. 15.8 bws/700PA, 1 MVP, 10 AS. Solid player for years. No monster and no great years. Pro: Nothing to complain about. Con: No great years.

Nellie Fox. 13.1 bws/700PA, 2 MVP, 10 AS. Not sure he should have been elected. Great 1957. Pro: Fielding Con: Hitting.
   79. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2008 at 01:19 PM (#2806614)
ronw,
Did you consult the James or Davenport fielding measures? WARP1 includes the Davenport measure above replacement, I know, but I'm not sure how much you are relying on WARP1. No one below Grich gets an "everything" or "well-rounded" comment (nor does Gehringer). So I wonder whether the mention of "Fielding" as a pro or con summarizes how you have considered their fielding.

It seems that you consider five of the top eight plus fielders.
Pro: other (5)
neutral: Morgan, Gehringer
Con: Hornsby

And four of the also-rans.
Pro: Sandberg, Gordon, McPhee, Fox
neutral: other (8, not counting Grant)
Con: no one (only Hornsby, up amid the all-rounders)
   80. TomH Posted: June 05, 2008 at 01:35 PM (#2806630)
But his (James') comment pertains to some of his rivals who rank Ruth-Gehrig #1-#2, in contrast to his own ranking of Gehrig merely in the second ten.
Unfortunately, James' comment was based on the uber-lousy PR release of SABR's top 100 players ranking in 2000 (vote open to all members), which purportedly had Gehrig number 2 overall behind Ruth. The SBAR ranking definitely did NOT have Gehrig #2, but once results were announced that way, the perception was out there.

SABR rankigns, top 25 plus a few key other 2Bmen
1 Ruth, Babe
2 Cobb, Ty
3 Mays, Willie
4 Williams, Ted
5 Wagner, Honus
6 Johnson, Walter
7 Gehrig, Lou
8 Aaron, Hank
9 DiMaggio, Joe
10 Mathewson, Christy
11 Mantle, Mickey
12 Musial, Stan
13 Young, Cy
14 Hornsby, Rogers
15 Grove, Lefty
16 Koufax, Sandy
17 Clemente, Roberto
18 Foxx, Jimmie
19 Spahn, Warren
20 Bench, Johnny
21 Schmidt, Mike
22 Gibson, Bob
23 Feller, Bob
24 Alexander, Grover
25 Speaker, Tris

32 Lajoie, Nap
40 Morgan, Joe
50 Collins, Eddie
52 Carew, Rod
72 Frisch, Frank
   81. Bob Allen Posted: June 05, 2008 at 03:16 PM (#2806763)
I'll call this "preliminary", although I don't expect the final ballot will change much. The numbers in parentheses are Regular Seasons-MVP Season-AllStar Seasons, all according to my definitions (outlined briefly in the catcher and first base threads.

1. Eddie Collins (19-9-14) - Margin over #2 is career length and all-around play.
2. Rogers Hornsby (14-9-12) - I discount all personality issues and focus on what he did.
3. Nap Lajoie (20-8-14) - Close behind Hornsby.
4. Joe Morgan (19-6-12) - Only the 6 big seasons with Cincy, otherwise just very good.
5. Charlie Gehringer (16-6-11) - Not close to the top four.
6. Frankie Frisch (16-4-9) - Way above average bat and glove.
7. Jackie Robinson (10-3-6) - Placed as if he had enjoyed a full career.
8. Bobby Grich (15-4-9) - I've been a supporter even during his playing days.
9. Ryne Sandberg (15-5-7) - Ditto.
10. Rod Carew (19-4-7) - Fortunate that he's considered with second basemen, not 1B.
11. Billy Herman (13-3-8) - He gets some war credit, but don't think he would have been worth much in those years.
12. Bobby Doerr (13-2-9) - Gets the edge over Gordon for more consistent performance.
13. Joe Gordon (11-2-7)
14. Bid McPhee (18-2-9) - Could rank higher but for tepid competitive environment.
15. Cupid Childs (11-3-5) - Could hit, but didn't everybody in those days?
16. Hardy Richardson (14-1-4) - Useful multi-position player.
17. Willie Randolph (17-0-7) - Career length and consistency are his only arguments.
18. Lou Whitaker (17-0-5) - Randolph with more bat (sometimes), less glove (sometimes).
19. Nellie Fox (16-1-6) - Standout when he was playing, but overshadowed by several "befores" and "afters".
20. Ross Barnes (?) - Such a short career and not worth much after they changed "his" rule.
21. Frank Grant (?) - What we don't know about him outweighs what we do know.
   82. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2008 at 04:27 PM (#2806878)
81. TomH Posted: June 05, 2008 at 09:35 AM (#2806630)
But his (James') comment pertains to some of his rivals who rank Ruth-Gehrig #1-#2, in contrast to his own ranking of Gehrig merely in the second ten.
Unfortunately, James' comment was based on the uber-lousy PR release of SABR's top 100 players ranking in 2000 (vote open to all members), which purportedly had Gehrig number 2 overall behind Ruth. The SABR ranking definitely did NOT have Gehrig #2, but once results were announced that way, the perception was out there.

Thanks. I am a member of that organization and it's hard to believe Koufax and Clemente are not in the top ten.

Seriously, do you know whether we published an incorrect list or simply misleading prose? Our chapter has a poster that has looked wrong to me. If I will see it again this fortnight I'll try to remember to take a printed list along with me. Is it on the society website now?
   83. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2008 at 04:30 PM (#2806881)
>>
5. Charlie Gehringer (16-6-11) - Not close to the top four.
6. Frankie Frisch (16-4-9) - Way above average bat and glove.
7. Jackie Robinson (10-3-6) - Placed as if he had enjoyed a full career.
<<

meaning you'll take Gehringer or Frisch day-in day-out?
   84. Bob Allen Posted: June 05, 2008 at 04:53 PM (#2806927)
"meaning you'll take Gehringer and Frisch day-in day-out?"

If you mean the placement of Jackie behind those two, yes, I'll take careers that actually happened over one that didn't. Robinson's pre-1947 career can only be guessed at.
   85. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2008 at 05:19 PM (#2806995)
15. Cupid Childs (11-3-5) - Could hit, but didn't everybody in those days?

Only the ones you've heard of. Contemporary shortstop Bob Allen didn't hit much.
- career leader, fielding win shares per 1000 innings (7.73)
- season leader, fielding win shares (12.83, NL 1890) - surpassed by Orlando Cabrera 2001
   86. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2008 at 05:23 PM (#2807008)
>> 7. Jackie Robinson (10-3-6) - Placed as if he had enjoyed a full career.

> "meaning you'll take Gehringer and Frisch day-in day-out?"

If you mean the placement of Jackie behind those two, yes, I'll take careers that actually happened over one that didn't. Robinson's pre-1947 career can only be guessed at.


No, I didn't understand. Now I think you mean as if he had enjoyed a full career and in a full career achieved only his 1947-56 mlb record. I think you probably take Robinson at least fifth, day-in day-out.
   87. Bob Allen Posted: June 05, 2008 at 06:59 PM (#2807381)
Paul, that's not quite it re:Jackie.

We have his peak years (28-32) and his decline, so we're missing his formative seasons when, realistically, he might have been (was) in the service or playing football. If I were going to dream up stats for those years, they would be conservative ones, yet still enough to place him where I did (#7). I'm guessing, like we all are.

As for Cupid Childs, I have him for 3 "MVP"-type seasons, fewer "All-Star"-type seasons (5) than most above him in my rankings, and only 11 regular seasons all told, the least of anybody but Gordon and Robinson. Yes, he could hit, yes, he could field, but I think I have him placed about right.
   88. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 05, 2008 at 07:02 PM (#2807396)
Prelim:

I'm certain about the top and last four. Not so sure about the others. Tougher than the last two positions to figure out, IMO. I'll probably do some more tinkering before the start of this election.

Hornsby
Morgan
Collins
Lajoie
Barnes
Robinson
Gehringer
Sandberg
Childs
Grich
Frisch
Carew
Whitaker
Herman
Gordon
Doerr
Grant
Richardson
McPhee
Randolph
Fox
   89. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 05, 2008 at 07:05 PM (#2807414)
Actually, I'm not certain about McPhee and Richardson, either.
   90. TomH Posted: June 05, 2008 at 07:42 PM (#2807651)
Paul, it was mostly misleading prose.

The voting consisted of 2 parts; first, check off names of the top 100 players. Total how many votes each player got. Well, obviously, most everyone voted for Ruth, Aaron, mantle, etc; the only votes they did NOT get were likely oversights, which is not hard to do when you're working from a hardcopy and must check (or punch) 100 marks.

From this subtotal, Ruth and Gehrig tied for the most votes; something like 755 out of 758. So 3 dufusses (dufi?) missed them.

ALSO, each voter was asked to list their top 5 players in order. These players got bonus points added to their total (5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, etc.).

Somehow when the results were announced & posted, the bonus pt part was not added in, so Ruth and Gehrig were listed as 1-2.

Really quite an embarrassing oopsie; my non-SABR friends understandably gave me grief.
   91. Mike Webber Posted: June 05, 2008 at 08:24 PM (#2807856)
From this subtotal, Ruth and Gehrig tied for the most votes; something like 755 out of 758. So 3 dufusses (dufi?) missed them.


I always wondered if this was
1) a mistake
2) "I'm not voting for any players that played before 1947"
3) Some other timelining freak
4) Some that was dying to say "I was the only one that didn't vote for Babe Ruth."

BTW I am really enjoying these ballot discussions, and am sorry I missed the first two votes. I will try very hard to get a vote in this time.
   92. OCF Posted: June 05, 2008 at 09:43 PM (#2808127)
Re: the exchange between Paul Wendt and me in posts #39, 41, and 42 of the first base ballot thread about what I was doing last weekend ... The results are now posted. Even though we fell one point short of winning the West, it was still by far our teams' best finishes ever. Yay!
   93. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 05, 2008 at 10:09 PM (#2808157)
Congrats, OCF!
   94. Howie Menckel Posted: June 06, 2008 at 01:35 AM (#2808577)
Hey, "almost wins" are really good at such a tough level!

:)

Congrats.
   95. Chris Cobb Posted: June 06, 2008 at 03:24 AM (#2808862)
Something should be said about Ross Barnes.

AJM wrote in his prelim:

20. Barnes
21. Grant

I'm going to have to read up again on the last 2.


Bob Allen wrote in his prelim:

20. Ross Barnes (?) - Such a short career and not worth much after they changed "his" rule.
21. Frank Grant (?) - What we don't know about him outweighs what we do know.


Both Barnes and Grant are better than this. A rant on Grant would be more involved than I can manage tonight, but here are a few points about Barnes.

1) His career was short, but no shorter than that of some other HoM second basemen. As Paul Wendt recently noted, he was playing on a top regional team as early as 1867, when Forest City (for which Barnes played shortstop, and which also featured pitcher Al Spalding) gave the Washington Nationals their only defeat on their barnstorming tour. In 1878, as Paul also noted recently, Barnes played in the International Association, as did a number of other players who had been in the NA and the NL in its first years. This was a strong league, and it was by no means obvious at the time that the NL was the “major” league and the IA the “minor” one. He then returned, as did a number of other former NL players, in 1879 when the NL returned to 8 teams. Overall, then, Barnes had a career of 13 consecutive seasons, 1867-79, plus a 14th in 1881.

For quick comparison, here are the shortest HoM careers for second basemen:

15—Doerr, 1937-51
14—Barnes, 1867-79, 81
13—Gordon, 1938-50
12—Robinson, 1945-57
12—Childs, 1890-1901

2) Barnes was excellent defensively. He played shortstop before becoming George Wright’s teammate in 1871, and he was back at shortstop (albeit a below average shortstop) in his final two seasons, 1879 and 1881. BP’s WARP1 has him 100 runs above average (that’s 11 wins) in 298 games from 1871-76: saving one run above average every 3 games. Obviously the standard deviations for this era are very high, but Barnes was clearly a star defensive second baseman in his prime as well as a great hitter.

3) Barnes’ decline was not just a result of the change in the fair-foul hit rule. He suffered a serious (ankle?) injury in 1877, which cost him half that season, and he clearly never regained his speed and mobility fully, as he defense slipped as well after the injury. Because of the timing of the injury, we can’t precisely establish how much the rule change cost him. But it is worth remembering that he was still a bit better than league average as a hitter in 1879 and 1881, which was very good for a shortstop in those years. He had the #2 shortstop OPS+ in 1879 (108) behind Wright’s 121, and the #3 OPS+ in 1881 (102) behind Burns’ 111 and Houck’s 105. He gave some of that hitting advantage back with his glove, of course, so he was not much more than an average player in those years, but they weren’t bad seasons.

4) Barnes was the best hitter in the league during his prime. Whatever the rules, he was the best, leading the league in OPS+ three times, and finishing in the top ten all six years an in the top five in five of six.

So, while differences in competition and the value of second base defense over time need to be taken into account, let’s look at Barnes vs. Robinson

Career length—Barnes 14, Robinson 12 seasons
Fielding prime—Barnes top 2B in league, Robinson top 2B in league, both capable of playing shorstop
Batting prime—Barnes 3 #1 OPS+, 5 OPS+ top 5, 6 OPS+ top 10; Robinson 3 OPS+ top 5, 5 OPS+ top 10

My point is that Barnes’ profile is a lot like Robinson’s, but more impressive offensively. Most agree that Robinson is around #6-#7 at the position, though of course he is a special case, but he is top 10 just on what he did while he played.

Also: without adjustments, here’s how Barnes’ offensive peak compares to the other top hitters at 2B.

Joe Morgan’s offensive peak was a lot like Barnes’: 2 #1 finishes, 4 top 5 finishes, and 6 top 10 finishes in six years in OPS+
Nap Lajoie’s was a little better: 3 #1s and 2 #2s in six years
Eddie Collins’ was similar: no #1s, but eight top 5 finishes in a row
Rogers Hornsby’s was a lot better: seven #1s in a row.

I repeat that competition adjustments are needed for Barnes, but do they take a player who has the profile of a top 10 second baseman and drop him to last or dead last among the top 20? That seems rather severe to me.
   96. ronw Posted: June 06, 2008 at 06:19 AM (#2809348)
Paul asked about my fielding rankings. My Pro/Con comments are off-the-cuff, and omissions from these should not be interpreted to mean I think a player is a neutral to bad fielder.

However, I thought about how each of these guys rank as fielding 2B, considering FRAA at 2B only

The Worst

Joe Morgan (-54)
Rod Carew (-17)
Rogers Hornsby (12)

I never thought Morgan would be the worst by this much. As comparison, Larry Doyle is at -99. Compared to Morgan's FRAA, Hornsby looks like a good fielder.

Solid

Frank Grant (N/A)
Ryne Sandberg (40)
Charlie Gehringer (47)
Hardy Richardson (54)
Cupid Childs (65)



Good

Jackie Robinson (66)
Billy Herman (86)
Ross Barnes (90)
Lou Whitaker (90)
Nellie Fox (91)

Robinson also had a 38 at 3B, and his 2B # was over about 5 seasons, so he is probably an excellent rate. Fox should have fared better in his supposed strength.

Great

Joe Gordon (114)
Willie Randolph (118)
Bobby Grich (129)
Bobby Doerr (135)

Fantastic fielders, but this is an all-time list.

Excellent

Frankie Frisch (167)
Eddie Collins (173)
Nap Lajoie (178)

I think Frisch is underrated as a fielder.

Disgustingly unreal

Bid McPhee (331)

Something is either broken with Davenport's ratings, or McPhee was that outstanding. By comparison, Bill Mazeroski is at 204. At shortstop, Ozzie is at 247. When translated to FRAA2, it is Ozzie 254, Mazeroski 203, and McPhee 187.
   97. OCF Posted: June 06, 2008 at 06:26 AM (#2809352)
What would it take to create a ballot here that doesn't contradict any of my yearly ballots? As near as I can figure, these are the requirements:

Richardson > McPhee > Grant > Childs > Gordon > Doerr

Lajoie > Grant

Herman > Childs

Robinson > Childs

Grich > Fox > Childs

Whitaker > Randolph

Or I could change my mind about something - the most suspect thing I see there is the question of why I have Fox that high. (I'll note that Fox had slipped out of my top 30 before he was elected.)

On a different front, I did have Collins > Speaker.
   98. ronw Posted: June 06, 2008 at 02:59 PM (#2809576)
Here are the Win Shares letter grades for the second basemen, and their FRAA. With the exception of Hardy Richardson and Jackie Robinson, who spent significant time at other positions, they are generally consistent:

The Worst

Joe Morgan (-54) - C
Rod Carew (-17) - C
Rogers Hornsby (12) - C

James and Davenport agree on these three as the bottom tier of fielding HOM second basemen.

Solid (according to FRAA)

Frank Grant (N/A) - N/A
Ryne Sandberg (40) - B+
Charlie Gehringer (47) - B
Hardy Richardson (54) - A
Cupid Childs (65) - B+

Richardson had a relatively short career at 2B, which keeps his career FRAA low.

Good (according to FRAA)

Jackie Robinson (66) - A+
Billy Herman (86) - B+
Ross Barnes (90) - N/A
Lou Whitaker (90) - B-
Nellie Fox (91) - A

Robinson of course had an excellent rate. Fox redeems himself a bit under James' formula, and Whitaker looks a bit worse.

Great

Joe Gordon (114) - A
Willie Randolph (118) - B+
Bobby Grich (129) - A
Bobby Doerr (135) - A

Randolph sticks out a bit.

Excellent

Frankie Frisch (167) - A+
Eddie Collins (173) - A-
Nap Lajoie (178) - A-

Again, Frisch is underrated. James did something unique with the deadball 2B that affected Lajoie (and perhaps Collins) but it didn't seem to affect Frankie.

Disgustingly unreal

Bid McPhee (331) - A+

I think no matter how you slice it, McPhee is the class of the fielders, probably followed by Frisch.

Others

Bill Mazeroski (204) is an A+, and Larry Doyle (-99) is a C+
   99. Bob Allen Posted: June 06, 2008 at 04:17 PM (#2809683)
My low ranking of Ross Barnes seems to have bothered at least Chris Cobb, who mounts a good argument in Barnes’ defense.

I have a problem in attributing full credit to players in the National Association. In that league there was Boston and an ever-changing coterie of other teams moving in and out of the league. Boston ran so roughshod over the competition that it doesn’t really look to me like a fair fight. The competition was poor in 1872-1874 but nearly non-existent in 1875. Certainly that was a great team with several top players of the period, but it effectively was playing in its own league. I understand that a pennant is a pennant, but when imbalance such as this exists, how much are those particular pennants really worth in retrospect compared with those won under more competitive conditions?

More specifically on the subject of Ross Barnes, his pre-NA playing days were spent as a teen-ager playing an amateur game with primitive rules against, basically, whomever his team could arrange to play – much like my own boyhood career (:. We can guess that he was a “phenom” but there’s not a lot of documentation to support it.

So we have five premier years against mostly feeble competition, one fine year with an NL pennant, and then four years when Barnes was (I hate to say it) just another player. To me, that doesn’t add up to a top ten or even top 15 ranking. Obviously, others feel differently, and that’s fine.
   100. TomH Posted: June 06, 2008 at 06:57 PM (#2809896)
prelim thots and rankings

don't wish to spend ALL my effort on "who's #1". but it IS a fascinating subject.

Collins > Lajoie is the easiest call. Not easy, but easy-EST.

Hornsby v Collins: Collins has 72 more WS in his career, and since most agree WS underrates defense, I think the 'real' answer ought to be closer to 85. WSAB, discouting Collins' 4 more "years" of play, would still give Ed more career value. Hornsby had a better peak, Colins had some great W.S. ##s. WARP shows it close as well. It's really a toss-up, but given worries about the Rajah's intangibles, I'll nudge Collins ahead.

Hornsby v Morgan; easier to compare these two than Morgan to Collins. But after running all of the numbers, it comes down to how much bonus I give Morgan for integrated league strenght (or, if you hate the word timelining, less-easy-to-dominate league). Both were clearly the best player in their league (Morgan in all of baseball, Rajah not) for a few yrs. Morgan more career value (using WS, without timelining) in longer career, and that does NOT account for WS not seeing well the pos diff in 2B pre-1935. It's close, but Joe is so clearly the #1 2B post-1935, I have to put him on top if it's a coin flip.

Morgan
Colins
Hornsby
Lajoie
(gap)
Gehringer-Jackie R
(gap)
Grich-Carew
Richardson
McPhee

2nd 10

Frisch
Sandberg
Barnes
G Johnson
Whitaker
Randolph-Gordon-Grant
Childs
Doerr
Fox
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