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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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   101. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 06, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2809903)
Boston ran so roughshod over the competition that it doesn’t really look to me like a fair fight.


They ran so roughshod over the rest of the competition because they had all of the best players. Why should Ross Barnes be penalized for that?

So we have five premier years against mostly feeble competition,


If Babe Ruth played in the Babe Ruth league instead of the American League, he would still have been just as good. Yes, his numbers would need scrutinization and context, but his own inate greatness shouldn't be downgraded. The same goes for Ross Barnes, IMO.
   102. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 06, 2008 at 07:05 PM (#2809908)
bump
   103. TomH Posted: June 06, 2008 at 09:01 PM (#2810065)
John, I agree with the principle, but the problem is we KNOW how good Ruth was in the AL. We don't know how good he woulda LOOKED if blacks were allowed to play, but we can guess pretty closely.

But Barnes in 1873, with that level of league talent, adding in the funny foul bunt rule.. I can see arguments for Barnes up as high as 5th in this grouping, and as low as #21. It's reeeal foggy where I sit.
   104. Chris Cobb Posted: June 06, 2008 at 09:41 PM (#2810105)
Why should Ross Barnes be penalized for that?

Exactly. When Barnes led the league in OPS+, he beat his own teammates also, and he did it in an offensive statistic adjusted for both park effects and pitchers-faced effects.

The relative dominance of the best _team_ in a league is only weakly correlative with the weakness of competition at the level of individual players.

Also, pre-1871, Barnes played in the game that was available to him, on a team that was recognized as an outstanding regional team. Sure, it was "amateur," though players began to be openly professional starting in 1867 and it was not organized, but does anyone's high-school team now play against a barnstorming team that is traveling around to face the best teams all over the country, because that barnstorming team is trying to prove itself the best team anywhere? That's the context when Forest City squared off against the Washington Nationals in 1867. These players are "amateurs' outside of organized baseball because there isn't any professional, organized baseball available yet, not because they were good enough to play in the majors. Black players prior to integration played a lot of "unorganized" baseball, and they played in weak leagues with very uneven competition levels between teams. Does that mean there couldn't be any great players in black baseball? What is being said when Barnes' peak is dismissed is that it was impossible for any player to be great in a game that was not yet organized, and that position just doesn't fit the observable facts.

It may be harder for us to identify with certainty how great the players were, but that's our problem, not theirs. It has been the agreed upon position of the Hall of Merit electorate that we don't penalize players for _our_ uncertainty, because to be deliberately "conservative" with one player is necessarily to deliberately overrate another player. Players deserve to be ranked where our best estimates of their value places them.

adding in the funny foul bunt rule.

It's odd from our perspective, but it was the rule, no stranger than any other rule that those who made the rules had decided was a good idea. Batters could also call for a high pitch or a low pitch. Pretty funny rule. Surely no hitter can be given credit for being much of a hitter if he could call for a particular pitch . . . We should evaluate players based on how well they played the game as it was when they played, because it would have been impossible for them to strive to excel at any other game than the one they had. If Barnes developed a skill that enabled him to take better advantage of a particular rule than anyone else, why should he be penalized for that? The Baltimore Orioles apparently got the "bunting foul with two strikes is strike three" rule put into place because they became skilled at bunting pitch after pitch foul. Should their success prior to the rule change be discounted?
   105. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 06, 2008 at 09:43 PM (#2810107)
But Barnes in 1873, with that level of league talent, adding in the funny foul bunt rule..


That funny foul bunt rule is just as legitimate as any current rule that you can think of today, IMO. It was a real skill that many players back then failed at (and so would many today if they were given the chance).

We know Barnes was superior to many players that did well in the later, tougher NL (i.e. Anson, Hines, O'Rourke, Sutton). We also know that Barnes wasn't the same player due to an injury, which affected his extra-base skills (the loss of the fair-foul hit wasn't the culprit since doubles and triples weren't the byproduct of that skill).

I can see arguments for Barnes up as high as 5th in this grouping, and as low as #21. It's reeeal foggy where I sit.


That I don't disagree with, Tom.
   106. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 06, 2008 at 09:46 PM (#2810109)
Looks like Chris covered much of the same ground that I did, but more eloquently, as usual. :-)
   107. Bob Allen Posted: June 06, 2008 at 10:35 PM (#2810150)
Chris and others, your points concerning Ross Barnes are well taken and I may raise him on the ballot. However, I calls 'em as I sees 'em, and I presume others do the same.
   108. TomH Posted: June 06, 2008 at 10:57 PM (#2810165)
That funny foul bunt rule is just as legitimate as any current rule that you can think of today, IMO.

Agreeing with much of your post, Chris, but since I attempt to vote based both on value and ability, if a player's value was distorted by any rule that was in effect for only a small portion of MLB history, I adjust. I think it's fair, if there is a close decision between (for example) Harmon Killebrew and and some multi-skilled star, to break the near-tie in favor of the player who would have succeeded in both 1905 and 1950.
   109. Chris Cobb Posted: June 06, 2008 at 11:40 PM (#2810232)
However, I calls 'em as I sees 'em, and I presume others do the same.

Sure, but that doesn't mean no one is going to come out of the dugout to argue a call. Someone may question your knowledge of the strike zone or whether you have the right prescription lenses in your umpiring spectacles. In these parts, we don't curse, kick dirt, throw bases, or otherwise engage in gratuitously confrontational displays (mostly), but vigorous debate will happen when a ranking misses what someone views as the limits of a reasonable call.
   110. Bob Allen Posted: June 07, 2008 at 12:43 AM (#2810341)
...vigorous debate will happen when a ranking misses what someone views as the limits of a reasonable call.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be...
   111. Paul Wendt Posted: June 07, 2008 at 03:16 AM (#2810565)
2nd 10

Frisch
Sandberg
Barnes
G Johnson
Whitaker


Tom,
I guess you have Grant Johnson here in someone's place.
   112. sunnyday2 Posted: June 07, 2008 at 05:34 AM (#2810818)
Can't wait to see the adjustments for pitchers who can't throw 9 innings. Oh, there's no rule against it? Well, it's a funny practice. I'm gonna rate pitchers based on CG. And any pitcher who threw from less than 60 feet is a bum.
   113. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 07, 2008 at 11:47 AM (#2810852)
Can't wait to see the adjustments for pitchers who can't throw 9 innings. Oh, there's no rule against it? Well, it's a funny practice. I'm gonna rate pitchers based on CG. And any pitcher who threw from less than 60 feet is a bum.


:-)
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 07, 2008 at 12:04 PM (#2810856)
Agreeing with much of your post, Chris, but since I attempt to vote based both on value and ability, if a player's value was distorted by any rule that was in effect for only a small portion of MLB history, I adjust.


This is what I don't understand, Tom (BTW, I'm John, not Chris :-) - why is Barnes' value being distorted here? He didn't cheat to gain any advantage. Besides, I'm pretty sure that there would be many 19th century players and fans who would think that the modern game is the one that is distorting value (not me, BTW).

If MLB had never removed the fair-foul hit from the game (there's no reason that they couldn't have kept it in), we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I think it's fair, if there is a close decision between (for example) Harmon Killebrew and and some multi-skilled star, to break the near-tie in favor of the player who would have succeeded in both 1905 and 1950.


Well, if a two players are indeed tied, some form of tie-breaker is needed. In that case, I would have no problem with that method, Tom. However, if Barnes appears to be clearly ahead in your system over another player, then I would disagree about using it.
   115. TomH Posted: June 07, 2008 at 12:37 PM (#2810869)
Oops. I mistakenly added Johnson and missed Herman :)

Sunny's hyperbole I believe strecthes the point severely. C'mon, a pitcher who tossed 6 IP today could easily have tossed a CG in 1915. Right? But a man who succeeded by using a technique that lawfully existed only for a few years, prior to when the National League was formed over 130 years ago, and some of you think it is unethical or bordering on unconstitutional to say I question whether to give 100.0% credit for it? That's how it's coming across.

"A pennant is a pennant" is a good principle, not a mantra with no qualifiers. I thought we fought this battle "years" ago. Well, actually, now it is real years, isn't it?
   116. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 07, 2008 at 12:48 PM (#2810870)
But a man who succeeded by using a technique that lawfully existed only for a few years, prior to when the National League was formed over 130 years ago, and some of you think it is unethical or bordering on unconstitutional to say I question whether to give 100.0% credit for it? That's how it's coming across.


I haven't said that you were being unethical or even unconstitutional, Tom. I do feel you're being unfair to Barnes, however. To me, it's coming across that Barnes was doing something unfair or even cheap, which I can never buy. Again, there would be many players today who would fail in their attempts to duplicate Barnes' achievement. That's a real skill to be lauded, IMO.

Sunny's hyperbole I believe strecthes the point severely. C'mon, a pitcher who tossed 6 IP today could easily have tossed a CG in 1915. Right?


Right.
   117. Chris Cobb Posted: June 07, 2008 at 01:10 PM (#2810879)
I thought we fought this battle "years" ago.

Since the electorate is always changing no discussions will ever truly be finished here. In addition, the positional elections are causing us to return to the nineteenth-century candidates. Voters who joined the project after its first year have never had to analyze closely players with NA peaks and pre-NA playing time (the last player elected whose case included such factors was Lip Pike in 1940, I think).

A lot of questions that were much discussed in the first year of the HoM thus come back to the surface.
   118. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 07, 2008 at 05:28 PM (#2810998)
A lot of questions that were much discussed in the first year of the HoM thus come back to the surface.


That's probably for the best, too. It's good to rehash this every now and then, IMO.
   119. TomH Posted: June 07, 2008 at 10:31 PM (#2811242)
I am not penalizing Barnes at all for succeeding in the game in his day. I simply cannot, knowing that part of his success may likely have been due to his unique ability to excel in a very unique situation, put him above someone like Ryne Sandberg. Maybe it's more like I view Gavy Cravath; yes, he had value, plunking home runs over the unique short porch.. but sorry, that doesn't make him as good as a player who could have succeeded in the other 90% of MLB play.

I recall when Bill James discussed in an Absract how if you're a candidate for 'the greatest team ever', your team ought to be able to contend in 1910, in 1990, in big pakrs and little ones? He used the 61 Yankees as an example of a team that, while great, shouldn't be thought of anything like the 39 Yankees; because their massive Left Handed power strength was negated in place like Washington, where they lost frequently. I see Barnes a bit the same.

But hey, I rate him above 98% of all baseball fans!
   120. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 07, 2008 at 11:10 PM (#2811262)
Maybe it's more like I view Gavy Cravath; yes, he had value, plunking home runs over the unique short porch.. but sorry, that doesn't make him as good as a player who could have succeeded in the other 90% of MLB play.

It's not really the same, though, because that short porch wasn't a skill at all like Barnes' but an advantage for Cravath that most batters didn't have the fortune to experience during his career.

I recall when Bill James discussed in an Absract how if you're a candidate for 'the greatest team ever', your team ought to be able to contend in 1910, in 1990, in big pakrs and little ones? He used the 61 Yankees as an example of a team that, while great, shouldn't be thought of anything like the 39 Yankees; because their massive Left Handed power strength was negated in place like Washington, where they lost frequently. I see Barnes a bit the same.


Sounds like you assume that most of Barnes' greatness was due to the fair-foul hit. Again, his extra-base power belies that. Too bad he got injured and ruined any chance of showing us that he was much more than the "tricky-hit" specialist.

But hey, I rate him above 98% of all baseball fans!


You got us there, Tom. :-D
   121. TomH Posted: June 08, 2008 at 01:53 AM (#2811341)
My best guess is the fair-foul thing took him from great player in his time to the best player in his time.

I could be wrong.
   122. TomH Posted: June 08, 2008 at 09:06 PM (#2812142)
John, your ballot thread analogy is both funny and silly and lame. Sure, whatif MLB had deemed all balls flying over fences as "foul balls" back in 1900; I mean, hey, it's out of play, right? Makes sense! That bum Ruth, he never woulda been dominant. I mena, I'm superdupersure he couldn't have adjusted has stroke at all. He can't hold a candle to Tony Gwynn in RF... and we could whatif a thousand other possibilites. Whatif taking an extra bases on singles wasn't allowed? Whatif strikeouts took 7 strikes? Whatif TomH had a brain? Whatif you had to get to 2B to be "safe"?
   123. Howie Menckel Posted: June 08, 2008 at 10:16 PM (#2812197)
Career adj OPS+s, excludes Grant's estimates.
just a starting point; there's defense and era and league quality and many other adjustments.
(1 3 4 10) means the player's top 10 finishes in his league in adj OPS+ are 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 10th.
separated by broad eras.

Ross Barnes...........166 OPS+ in 2503 PA (1 1 1 3 4 9) doesn't include pre-NA credit
Hardy Richardson....130 OPS+ in 6029 PA (5 5)
Cupid Childs............119 OPS+ in 6758 PA (2 7 8)
Bid McPhee............106 OPS+ in 9409 PA (--)
Frank Grant.............

Rogers Hornsby.......175 OPS+ in 9475 PA (1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 6)
Nap Lajoie..............150 OPS+ in 10460 PA (1 1 1 2 2 2 4 6 6 6 6 8 9)
Eddie Collins...........141 OPS+ in 12027 PA (2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 7 8 10)
Charlie Gehringer.....124 OPS+ in 10227 PA (6 6 7 8 8 10)
Joe Gordon..............120 OPS+ in 6536 PA (4 4 6) significant WW II credit due
Bobby Doerr............115 OPS+ in 8028 PA (2 7 9) only very small WW II credit due
Billy Herman...........112 OPS+ in 8461 PA (5 6 8) only small WW II credit due
Frankie Frisch.........111 OPS+ in 10100 PA (8 9)

Joe Morgan.............132 OPS+ in 11329 PA (1 1 2 4 6 8 10)
Jackie Robinson......132 OPS+ in 5802 PA (2 3 4 8 9) doesn't include pre-BKN credit
Rod Carew..............131 OPS+ in 10550 PA (1 3 4 4 5)
Bobby Grich............125 OPS+ in 8220 PA (1 7 9)
Lou Whitaker...........116 OPS+ in 9967 PA (9 10 10)
Ryne Sandberg........114 OPS+ in 9282 PA (7 8 8)
Willie Randolph........104 OPS+ in 9462 PA (10)
Nellie Fox.................93 OPS+ in 10349 PA (----)

..........

pct of games by position (estimates for Negro Leaguers and Barnes)
2B - McPhee 100, Doerr 100, Childs 100, NFox 100, Gehringer 99, Morgan 99, Whitaker 99, Randolph 99, ECollins 98, Gordon 98, Herman 95, Sandberg 93, Grich 86, Lajoie 83, Frisch 77, Hornsby 72, Grant 70, JRobinson 60, Barnes 60, Carew 47, Richardson 43

hybrids, with percentages:
Lajoie..........83 2B, 12 1B
Frisch.........77 2B, 20 3B
Hornsby......72 2B, 16 SS
Grant..........70 2B, 20 SS
JRobinson...60 2B, 15 3B, 10 1B, 10 OF
Barnes........60 2B, 40 SS
Carew.........47 2B, 50 1B
Richardson. 43 2B, 40 OF, 13 3B

other HOMers with at least 10 pct at 2B:
HR Johnson 25, Ward 24, Groh 20, Hill 20, Pike 18, Rose 18, Dihigo 15, Molitor 15, Wright 10, Wilson 10
   124. Paul Wendt Posted: June 08, 2008 at 11:09 PM (#2812249)
Jackie Robinson......132 OPS+ in 5802 PA (2 3 4 8 9) doesn't include pre-BKN credit

The mysterious Howie Menckel.
of BKN?
Is he eligible for social security? Maybe not but I'll wager he is eligible for the senior circuit at golf or contract bridge.
   125. Howie Menckel Posted: June 09, 2008 at 12:03 AM (#2812321)
that's the bb-ref abbreviation for "Brooklyn"

Paul, I did adjust pcts for Barnes and Robinson a bit off your notes...
   126. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 09, 2008 at 12:17 AM (#2812342)
John, your ballot thread analogy is both funny and silly and lame.


I'm assuming you missed the emoticon, Tom.

As of right now, I won't mention Barnes again.
   127. Paul Wendt Posted: June 09, 2008 at 11:32 AM (#2812543)
> The mysterious Howie Menckel.
> of BKN?
> Is he eligible for social security?

that's the bb-ref abbreviation for "Brooklyn"


Ahem.
Baseball-reference and Retrosheet both use BRO following Pete Palmer.

I know BKN from a remark several years ago by Lyle Spatz, chair of the SABR Baseball Records Cmte, that he has always considered it the only acceptable abbreviation. I believe he is an old Brooklynder although I may be wrong. (Only about 15 years older than I am, but eligible for social security.)
   128. TomH Posted: June 09, 2008 at 01:19 PM (#2812610)
I'm assuming you missed the emoticon, Tom.

Apparently I did. "Lame" was over the top, I apologize.
   129. DL from MN Posted: June 09, 2008 at 02:46 PM (#2812703)
Right now my placing of Bid McPhee 7th appears to be an outlier. I think this is because my spreadsheet has him as the greatest defensive 2B of all time. I'm going to bump him down to Mazeroski levels but that still only slides him to 10th. Is there any reason why I should doubt that McPhee was the class of the 2B as far as defense is concerned?
   130. Howie Menckel Posted: June 09, 2008 at 02:55 PM (#2812715)
Thanks, Paul.
I've seen BKN in places, assumed it was there.
My father IS from Brooklyn, as well.
   131. ronw Posted: June 09, 2008 at 03:58 PM (#2812794)
Final 2B fielding analysis. Letter grade - Bill James Win Shares; Parenthetical - Clay Davenport's Career FRAA1. All at 2B, with other positions noted.

Unknown

N/A Frank Grant (N/A)

The Worst

C Joe Morgan (-54)
C Rod Carew (-17); 1B (12) (also C- at 1B)
C Rogers Hornsby (12); 3B (-12); SS (-18)

Again, Hornsby is better than expected. Both metrics are consistent here.

Solid

B+ Ryne Sandberg (40); 3B (12)
B Charlie Gehringer (47)
A Hardy Richardson (54); 3B (-8); LF (42); CF (8)
B+ Cupid Childs (65)

Richardson had a good to great rate for his short career, and seems to have been a good outfielder as well.

Good

A+ Jackie Robinson (66); 1B (0); 3B (38); LF (10)
B+ Billy Herman (86)
N/A Ross Barnes (90); SS (-8)
B- Lou Whitaker (90)
A Nellie Fox (91)

James's system doesn't like Whitaker as much. Davenport's doesn't like Fox as much. Barnes and Robinson are excellent rates for their short careers, Robinson even at 3B.

Great

A Joe Gordon (114)
B+ Willie Randolph (118)
A Bobby Grich (129); SS (4)
A Bobby Doerr (135)

James doesn't think Randolph belongs here.

Excellent

A+ Frankie Frisch (167); 3B (34)
A- Eddie Collins (173)
A- Nap Lajoie (178); 1B (6)

James not as impressed with Collins/Lajoie. Frisch (with excellent fielding at 3B hurting his career FRAA1 numbers) is probably the second-best fielding 2B of all-time.

Unreal

A+ Bid McPhee (331)

Agreement on both systems. As clear a #1 among HOM 2B as Hernandez is at 1B.
   132. OCF Posted: June 09, 2008 at 04:36 PM (#2812840)
Unreal

A+ Bid McPhee (331)


But against what baseline? The AA was a major league, all right, but it was for most of its existence the lesser major league. Wouldn't a significant portion of the difference between the AA and the NL have been defensive quality? People have argued here that a superior hitter might not be able to take full advantage of a lesser league, but I'm not so sure the same is true of defense. Can you imagine the impact a major league shortstop would have on a Sunday municipal league game?

I'm not suggesting that McPhee wasn't a great defender - he was, and he belongs in the HoM. I'm just wondering about the magnitude of that number.
   133. Chris Cobb Posted: June 09, 2008 at 05:46 PM (#2812934)
I'm not suggesting that McPhee wasn't a great defender - he was, and he belongs in the HoM. I'm just wondering about the magnitude of that number.

WARP2 cuts it down to 187 FRAA, so WARP is viewing the fielding baseline of the AA as very low.

A couple of comparative data points.

Lajoie 178-->101 FRAA2
Doerr 135-->111 FRAA2

Even at only 187 FRAA2 in 2120 games, though, McPhee appears among the best defensive second baseman of all time, certainly the best among HoM second basemen.
Mazeroski checks in at 203 FRAA2 in 2046 games, so WARP2 would put him ahead of McPhee, but I don't know who else might be up in that range.
   134. TomH Posted: June 09, 2008 at 07:41 PM (#2813131)
...and of course 2B was a lot different in 1890 than in 1950, so "FRAA" may not give a complete picture. Some difference in league-avg hitting at position could be added.
   135. Paul Wendt Posted: June 10, 2008 at 01:55 AM (#2813452)
. . . and McPhee played 1224 games in the NL, only 911 in the AA. He played the three shorter of the AA's weak seasons (290g sched) and missed the two longer (280g sched).


Marc sunnyday in the ballot thread:
21. Willie Randolph--the real black Dunlap?

Definitely not. Refer to their relative batting, onbase, and slugging averages:
Rdolph +.16 +.48 -.41
Dunlap +.38 +.45 +.63

16. Bobby Doerr--Gordon and Doerr close to each other on the list, but Gordon really was a lot more valuable.
Bill James taught me that in his 1980s Historical Abstract

17. Bid McPhee--19C version of Nellie Fox? Maybe.

With Robinson, Schoendienst, and Mazeroski out there it is impossible to argue that Fox was the best of his time in the field.
Probably I am missing the spirit of these comparisons (others deleted).
   136. OCF Posted: June 10, 2008 at 02:18 AM (#2813469)
An exercise with my offensive system, and my favorite ad-hoc way of cobbling together some combination of peak, prime, and career value: If the top four second basemen were first basemen, and if we reduced their defensive value to that of a typical first baseman, how would they rank on the first base list? (Leave off Anson, Brouthers, Connor, as their ranking is less systematic.) Of course all of the second basemen were more valuable than this, because of their positional value. The exercise hurts Collins more than it hurts Hornsby or Morgan. I come up with this order:

Gehrig
Hornsby
Collins
Foxx
Morgan
Lajoie
Mize

That's nearly a 3-way tie among Morgan, Lajoie, and Mize, and this is a version of Mize who has been granted some estimated credit for WWII.
   137. sunnyday2 Posted: June 10, 2008 at 02:47 AM (#2813490)
Paul, did you adjust for the UA? I realize that's only one year, but it was sooooo out-sized that it drags him up a bit higher than what is reasonable. Not enough to reduce his relative BA by 22 points, of course. You'll notice that I do have Dunlap ahead of Willie.
   138. Chris Cobb Posted: June 12, 2008 at 02:33 AM (#2816389)
There's been lots of talk about the top end of the second base ballot, as is only proper, but how about a little talk about the bottom end, specifically Randolph vs. Fox.

I am wondering if folks are paying attention to how much better Randolph was offensively than Fox?

Randolph career 104 OPS+, OBP+ of 115 in a strong, DH league
Fox career 93 OPS+, OBP+ 102 in a weak, non-DH league

Randolph 271 SB, 94 CS, 74% success rate
Fox 76 SB, 80 CS, 49% success rate

As to who was better defensively, the evidence is mixed. WS likes Fox better, WARP likes Randolph better. But there would need to be a lot of defense to make up the offense gap.

The only chit Fox is clearly holding over Randolph is durability, and I don't see how that makes up for the gap between them as offensive players,
   139. OCF Posted: June 12, 2008 at 05:30 AM (#2816572)
My post #4 on the first page of this thread does show what Chris is talking about, with a few extra nuances. It's based on RC, so it's OBP-friendly and does credit Randolph's base stealing. It doesn't really see Fox's in-season durability advantage, so you have to step outside to see that. The best five years of the two careers are pretty similar, but there is a consistent small advantage for Randolph. The mid-value years of each man's career point more clearly in Randolph's direction. And then: it's not uncommon for players, especially at key defensive positions, to have a few sub-par years, and it's not uncommon for a player to have an utterly terrible year (usually at the end - see Ken Singleton - but sometimes oddly earlier then the end, as with Ted Simmons.) But you don't often see what Fox's line shows: not just one bad year, but 4 or 5 years in which he was an offensive millstone. You could take the approach of just lopping off those years, but if you do, you also lop off his claim to having a long career.
   140. sunnyday2 Posted: June 12, 2008 at 11:38 AM (#2816633)
Actually, the chit that Fox has over Randolph, among others, is that he was considered to be one of the best players in the AL at the time, even winning an MVP award that wasn't and isn't regarded as a bad choice. Maybe Fox was just the best of a bad lot, maybe not. But I don't remember Randolph ever being regarded as being among the best players in the AL. In the Time Machine League, maybe this doesn't count for much, but in the real world it has to count for something.
   141. Dizzypaco Posted: June 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM (#2816642)
I view durability as more important than others - the fact that Randolph couldn't stay healthy is not a small thing. Every year, Fox would play virtually every single game, while the Yankees would have to play a backup for a portion of the season every year. Randolph was underrated, but its one of the reasons he wasn't a star.

Randolph clearly has an offensive advantage over Fox. Whether that's enough, I don't know, but it might be. Its an interesting comparison.
   142. Paul Wendt Posted: June 12, 2008 at 03:22 PM (#2816815)
138. sunnyday2 Posted: June 09, 2008 at 10:47 PM (#2813490)
Paul, did you adjust for the UA? I realize that's only one year, but it was sooooo out-sized that it drags him up a bit higher than what is reasonable. Not enough to reduce his relative BA by 22 points, of course. You'll notice that I do have Dunlap ahead of Willie.

No adjustment but I said that I may not understand the point of the comparisons.
> Refer to their relative batting, onbase, and slugging averages:
> Rdolph +.16 +.48 -.41 (negative)
> Dunlap +.38 +.45 +.63
Compare the first two (batting and onbase): Randolph was a walking man and singles hitter.
Bring in the last (slugging): Dunlap was a power hitter.
Adjustment for the weak UA (Dunlap 1884) will not change that picture, only bring Dunlap down closer to Randolph in overall value as a batter.


139. Chris Cobb Posted: June 11, 2008 at 10:33 PM (#2816389)
There's been lots of talk about the top end of the second base ballot, as is only proper, but how about a little talk about the bottom end, specifically Randolph vs. Fox.

Quick comment as I "must" spend time on Charlie Grant. It is better spent, but here I can feel like I am having conversations with people.

I would have guessed that the bottom third of the ballot would commonly include Doerr, Childs, Frank Grant, Herman, and Richardson as well as Fox and Randolph. (Barnes would get plenty of bottom thirds and might even get the most last-place votes but he would also be in the top third of a few ballots where the others would "never" be in the top half.)

During the preliminaries I have been surprised to see that there is no consensus for Gordon over Doerr. (Chris Cobb is one of Doerr's strongest supporters which inspired me to say it now.)
   143. DL from MN Posted: June 12, 2008 at 04:15 PM (#2816886)
> I have been surprised to see that there is no consensus for Gordon over Doerr

I would be surprised to see that there was a consensus for Gordon over Doerr. Doerr outpolled Gordon in every head-to-head year of HoM balloting. Doerr elected 1972, Gordon elected 1976.
   144. sunnyday2 Posted: June 12, 2008 at 04:46 PM (#2816928)
This is very down and dirty, just something to think about.

I tallied the 1st ten prelim ballots over here...and I tallied up a bunch of "outside" sources (NBJHA, HoFM, etc. etc.) over there. There were 8 2Bs--or, rather, 4 pairs of 2Bs--who differed 2 slots or more in the total rankings.

At the top

We have Hornsby 2 and Morgan 4. The "outside" consensus seems to be Morgan 1 (tied with Collins in these particular sources) and Hornsby 4. I am not surprised by Hornsby as much as I am surprised that a bunch of stat-heads has Morgan this low.

Then there's Sandberg and Barnes. We have Sandberg 10 and Barnes 11. "They" have Sandberg 8 and Barnes 16. I'm pretty sure we're right and they're wrong about Barnes. But I am surprised that we would rank Sandberg below some sort of "outside" consensus.

Then we have McPhee 16 and Gordon 17. They have Gordon 13 (tied with Fox in this particular grouping) and McPhee 18. Actually the 16-18 differential on McPhee seems pretty inconsequential. And one could argue that Gordon 13 is just an artifact of the outside consensus consistently under-rating the 19C guys. Somebody has to move up. But it's also true that the outside consensus has Gordon 13 Doerr 15, while we have Doerr 14 and Gordon 17. I'm think they're right and we're wrong about Gordon.

Finally, we have Grant 18 and Fox 19 (tied); while they have Fox 13 (tied) and Grant 21. I'm sure we're closer on Grant, and while I have Fox above our consensus, I'm sure we're more right on Fox, too.

That leaves the big "unexplained" discrepancies as the HoM voters ranking Morgan, Sandberg and Gordon below the outside consensus, for whatever reason.
   145. TomH Posted: June 12, 2008 at 09:19 PM (#2817721)
well, I s'pose if you included a bunch of other outside (non-sabermetric) sources, Morgan would quickly fall to #4 and we'd be more in line :)

even in our 2000-02 Survivor exercise, the 2B final ranking was Hornaby 13, Collins 19, Lajoie 21, Morgan 26, Gehringer 47, Jackie 62, Carew 65.
http://survivor.dmlco.com/voting.html
   146. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2008 at 01:32 AM (#2818094)
Actually, the chit that Fox has over Randolph, among others, is that he was considered to be one of the best players in the AL at the time, even winning an MVP award that wasn't and isn't regarded as a bad choice. Maybe Fox was just the best of a bad lot, maybe not. But I don't remember Randolph ever being regarded as being among the best players in the AL. In the Time Machine League, maybe this doesn't count for much, but in the real world it has to count for something.

Best of a bad lot indeed. According to win shares, Fox was indeed the best player in the AL with 30 win shares in 1959. Except for the 1963 AL, which Tom Tresh led with 29 win shares, this is the lowest league-leading total in either league from 1950 to 1969. The next lowest total is 33. So Fox's MVP season is MVP-worthy in only about 5% of cases.

Raising the subject of real-world value led me to wonder whether it could be determined how Randolph + his actual replacements compared to Fox as a no-replacement-necessary second baseman. Fortunately, WARP in its team pages gives defensive stats by position and EQA2 (that's competition adjusted EQA) for each position.

Doing a little calculating, I came up with the following results:

Player -- EQA1, EQA2
Randolph, career -- .276, .282
Randolph + reps, 1976-92 -- .268, .274
Fox, career -- .262, .253

So, as WARP's EQA sees it, Randolph + his replacements were more valuable on offense in their context, before adjusting for the DH or for competition quality, than Fox was. When one adjusts for the DH and competition, the offensive gap is huge.

Here's a quick look at defense:
Randolph, career -- 116 fielding runs above average in 2063.6 games, 9.1 FRAA/162 games
Randolph + reps -- 149 FRAA in 2700 games, 8.9 FRAA/162 games
Fox, career -- 92 FRAA in 2367 games, 6.3 FRAA/162 games

Again, Randolph + replacements is more valuable than Fox alone.

Now, this is a real-world study, not looking at replacement level as an abstract value. But, lest you consider that Randolph had the advantage of a bunch of super-subs, here's a list of the players who took more than 5 games at second in Randolph's starting seasons

1976 -- Sandy Alomar, Sr. 34 g
1977 -- George Zeber, 17.2 g
1978 -- Brian Doyle 14.8 g, Damaso Garcia 12.6 g
1979 -- Brian Doyle 6.7 g
1980 -- Brian Doyle 11.7 g
1981 -- Larry Milbourne 11.1 g, Fred Stanley 9.5 g
1982 -- Andre Robertson 11.0 g, Barry Evans 5.8 g
1983 -- Andre Robertson 26.6 g, Bert Campaneris 20.1 g, Larry Milbourne 15.0 g
1984 -- Tim Foli 14.4 g
1985 -- Rex Hudler 14.5 g
1986 -- Mike Fischlin 13.6 g, Bryan Little 12.1 g
1987 -- Bob Meacham 18.8, Juan Bonilla 16.9 g, Paul Zuvella 6.3 g
1988 -- Randy Velarde 20.3 g, Bob Meacham 10.3 g, Luis Aguayo 8.6 g
1989 -- Mike Sharperson 25.0 g, Lenny Harris 11.6 g, Dave Anderson 5.4 g
1990 -- Lance Blankenship 9.6 g
1991 -- Jim Gantner 50.5 g
1992 -- Jeff Kent 29.7 g, Bill Pecota 25.8 g, Jeff McNight 9.2 g, Junior Noboa 7.1 g, Chico Walker 7.0 g

It's Willie Randolph + these guys > Nellie Fox in offensive and defensive value
   147. Paul Wendt Posted: June 13, 2008 at 03:20 AM (#2818148)
DL in the ballot thread
11) Lou Whitaker - Platoon player but a long career helps to mitigate the playing time issues. It's not hard to find a RH utility infielder to give him a day off so it really shouldn't hurt the team.

How much was he platooned? (benched against lefty starting pitchers)
   148. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2008 at 01:04 PM (#2818293)
Dan R,

Does the fact that you have voted mean that you have done a study of non-PBP second-base fielding metrics, and they show considerable validity, or did you just go ahead and vote? If you did do a study, could you let us know what you found?
   149. Esteban Rivera Posted: June 13, 2008 at 02:14 PM (#2818379)
It's Willie Randolph + these guys > Nellie Fox in offensive and defensive value


Except that it was Randolph who was inducted, not Randolph + these guys. Any comparisons for the ranking should not include + these guys.
   150. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2008 at 06:36 PM (#2818698)
Any comparisons for the ranking should not include + these guys.

Then no one should use a metric that sets any sort of replacement level, because "replacement level" is essentially a theoretical proxy for "these guys." And if you look at the records of the second base subs while Randolph was starting, you'll see that they are pretty much the definition of replacement level material. That's why I listed them: to show that what we are looking at in Randolph's career is him and a bunch of replacement players, not a platoon-type situation, where a team has a starter- or near-starter quality alternative available at all times.

Here's the point, which has been made many times before, but I'll make it again. A team is going to put _somebody_ at a position, so it does not make sense to compare a player to zero to determine his real value to a team.

If you compare Randolph and Fox in terms of career value, adjusted for season length and the DH, Randolph wins. If you compare career rates similarly adjusted, Randolph wins.

The only basis for arguing that Fox was better than Randolph is the durability argument--that Fox had more "in season" value because he played every day and Randolph didn't.

What my study points out is the Randolph + a replacement player was more valuable on a season-by-season basis than Fox as iron man was.

If you are a GM, here's your choice:

Randolph for 134 games + your replacement-level utility infielders for 20 games (every team will have a couple of these guys on roster at all times)

or

Nellie Fox for 154 games.

The GM who picks Randolph plus the utility guys will get more wins out of second base than would the GM who picks Fox.

Doesn't that make Randolph the more valuable player, since the team with Fox will have the utility infielders anyway, so the real difference in value at second base is attributable to Randolph's quality?

The theoretical version of this argument runs that you should use a metric with a realistically high replacement level: otherwise you are going to overrate the value of exceptionally durable players. But, since "value in the real world" came up, I thought I would demonstrate that "replacement level" really is high enough that teams were better off with Randolph than with Fox.
   151. DL from MN Posted: June 13, 2008 at 08:02 PM (#2818801)
Whitaker was platooned more in his later seasons but his OPS+ of 67 against LHP suggests they could have done it more often earlier. However, that would have taken his glove out of the lineup.

Which of the second base candidates could have handled SS? I think Whitaker would have been a SS if HoM Trammell hadn't been there (strong arm, good range). Robinson likewise was blocked by HoM Pee Wee Reese. Grich played with Belanger, then suffered a back injury after the Angels switched him to SS in 1977. Frisch came up on a team that had Dave Bancroft. Could Eddie Collins have played SS?
   152. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 13, 2008 at 09:44 PM (#2818930)
I just went ahead and voted, because I was told that SFR was coming up so strongly because it wasn't using the same methodology for 2003-07 as for 1956-82 (it has more data now). I'm waiting to hear back from Dan Fox on this before I go ahead with these studies.
   153. OCF Posted: June 13, 2008 at 10:20 PM (#2818956)
Could Eddie Collins have played SS?

Just looking at how Collins broke in:

In 1907, Collins was 20 years old and got just a cup of coffee. That A's team had players with OPS+ over 100 at every single position-how rare is that? The youngest of them was the SS, Simon Nicholls. 2B was occupied by Danny Murphy (certainly a "name") and 3B was Jimmy Collins - quite old, but he could still play. In 1908, the 25-year-old Nicholls saw his offense slip (as did Jimmy Collins). There were two 21-year-olds around getting in some infield playing time: Eddie Collins and Jack Barry. Both Barry and Collins played some 2B and some SS. Collins had better range factors than Barry at both positions, but the samples are small and probably not very meaningful. In 1909, both Collins and Barry entered the starting lineup, with space being cleared by sending Murphy to the outfield and Nicholls to the bench. And it does appear that the decision about who went to which position was made once and for all before the beginning of the 1909 season: Barry played no position other than SS and Collins only one game outside of 2B. (In the same season, Jimmy Collins was replaced at 3B by a 23-year-old Frank Baker.)

In that 1909 season, Collins had an OPS+ of 171 and Barry 77. As to whether the A's would have had a better offense by benching Barry, playing Collins at SS and Murphy at 2B - I don't see enough outfielders to make that really work. The decision was made, anyway.

In 1910, Barry had an OPS+ of 112. While that was one of the two best offensive years of his career, he still turned out to be a fine player with a good career.

It does look like the A's could potentially have tried to make Collins a SS, but they explicitly chose Barry - and it's hard to criticize the choice. They did clear Danny Murphy out of the infield to make way for Collins.
   154. DL from MN Posted: June 13, 2008 at 10:40 PM (#2818972)
Good answer. How about Lajoie and Gehringer?
   155. Paul Wendt Posted: June 13, 2008 at 11:44 PM (#2819046)
If you are a GM, here's your choice:

Randolph for 134 games + your replacement-level utility infielders for 20 games (every team will have a couple of these guys on roster at all times)

or

Nellie Fox for 154 games.

The GM who picks Randolph plus the utility guys will get more wins out of second base than would the GM who picks Fox.


For those who are wondering about the cost of using a substitute player (in-game roster management), Cliff Blau has compiled a record of roster limits and cutdown dates for almost all seasons beginning 1910 and many earlier seasons.
roster size regulations
The short story is that 25- and 40-man rosters with 25 eligible to play in each game go back to 1910.
   156. Paul Wendt Posted: June 14, 2008 at 12:22 AM (#2819113)
Good answer. How about Lajoie and Gehringer?

Lajoie made the move offseason 1897/98, presumably by George Stallings decision. One season Lajoie played 0 of 127 games at second (or short or center); next season he played 146 of 147 games at second.
It appears that Lajoie replaced Dan Brouthers in 1996, perhaps with a lag. Lajoie was the regular 1B after his Aug 12 debut and throughout the 1997 season under Stallings.

The Phillies acquired Billy Nash for Billy Hamilton offseason 1895/96 and made Nash the captain/manager. It was a disaster in terms of what Nash and Hamilton had left to offer and it created a surplus of "throwing infielders too", shortage of outfield talent. (Tuck Turner crashed, the fourth outfielder who batted .416 and .386 in 1894/95. What happened?)
Anyway, Lave Cross, a super 3Bman who could play shortstop (but suddenly in mid-career unable to hit) became the utility infielder, and then in '97 the 2Bman.

A big trade helped clear up the infield disarray:
November 10, 1897: [Monte Cross] Traded by the St. Louis Browns with Red Donahue and Klondike Douglass to the Philadelphia Phillies for Lave Cross, Tommy Dowd, Jack Clements, Jack Taylor, and $1,000.
The date is early. Was Stallings already installed?
Lajoie and Monte Cross played essentially every game at second and short (and Lave Cross at third in St Louis).

Harry Wright's tenure ended more than two years before Lajoie arrived. After Wright the Phillies didn't have a fixture like Connie Mack who was in a position to plan for the long-term, maybe not the medium-term. (Mack and McGraw put young men in uniform for exposure to the fast game, usually from the safe distance of the bench.)
   157. bjhanke Posted: June 15, 2008 at 09:55 AM (#2820079)
Which of the second base candidates could have handled SS? I think Whitaker would have been a SS if HoM Trammell hadn't been there (strong arm, good range). Robinson likewise was blocked by HoM Pee Wee Reese. Grich played with Belanger, then suffered a back injury after the Angels switched him to SS in 1977. Frisch came up on a team that had Dave Bancroft. Could Eddie Collins have played SS?

Well, let's see: The big issues would be range and arm. Sometimes, these can be tested because of other positions played, sometimes not. In alphabetical order:

Collins - A strange deal, but I have my doubts. He came up in 1906, when Connie Mack was trying to find a replacement for his incumbent shortstop, the 36-year-old Monte Cross, who played 134 games and hit .200 with no power. Cross did steal some bases, and may have still had speed and defense, but was essentially done as a ML player. Collins was 19, however, and Mack had another prospect, Simon Nicholls, who was 23. In 1907, the shortstop job essentially went to Nicholls, although he played some second and some third as well. The fact that he was installed at short to start his career, and also played third, indicates that Nicholls probably had an arm. Cross played 74 games at short, which indicates that he could still play the position but was being beaten out by Nicholls' bat. Collins played only 6 games, all at short, which indicates that Mack thought of him as a shortstop in the trying out. In 1908, we get a real indicator. Nicholls has the shortstop job, although Collins was given a chance to win it (28 games at short). Mostly, though, Collins steals the second base job from Danny Murphy, who moves to the outfield. Those look like defense decisions. Nicholls was a better shortstop than Collins, and Collins was a better second baseman than Murphy. Jack Barry, the same 21 years old as Collins, gets the same split position tryout as Collins. In 1909, Barry takes the shortstop job, and Collins is at second and Nicholls is gone because he stopped hitting in 1908. Eddie Collins has lost an open shortstop job twice, to Nicholls and to Barry. Since range was not Collins' problem, and since the others, from the first, played more "arm" position time than Collins, I would conclude, although with no huge certainty, that at least Connie Mack thought that Eddie Collins' arm was a little short of short, to make a lousy pun.

Frisch - I argue in my ballot post that Frisch could have easily been a shortstop. When he was a kid on the Giants and the shortstop job was not open (Art Fletcher, and then Dave Bancroft), he played third, which is an arm spot. Given his undoubted range, I don't see how you can conclude anything other than that Frisch probably should have played shortstop, much less could have. He was just on the wrong teams.

Grich - Came up as a shortstop on a team that had Mark Belanger in what should have been his peak years. In 1972, Belanger, all of 28, stopped hitting, even for Belanger, played only 105 games, and Grich was the backup shortstop. He's also Dave Johnson's backup at second. In 1973, Grich had the second base job, because Belanger went back over the Mendoza Line. That's enough to convince me. Grich could have been a shortstop. It's one thing to be unable to beat out Simon Nicholls and Jack Barry (Barry alone would be different); it's another to be unable to beat out Mark Belanger in his prime.

Robinson - I am pretty sure he could not, and am very sure that his managers didn't think he could. Yes, he was on the same team as Pee Wee Reese, but Reese did occasionally miss a game, and Robinson was never the backup. In 1948, for example, Reese played 149 games, all at short. Robinson was the starting second baseman, played some first, and six games at third base. Starting third baseman Billy Cox played six games at short. Coincidence? Maybe so, but look up 1950. All kinds of guys got at least some games at short, including Cox again, and again moving over from his starting spot at third. Robinson got not one game at short. At that time, Brooklyn, a good team, usually had a backup shortstop with a good glove and a bad bat, but they did rotate around, under more than one manager, and Robinson never ended up at short. That's a real indicator. I'm not sure that arm was a problem, because Jackie did play a little third base, but range may have been. In any case, his managers never thought that he was the best option left for short, even when confronted with injuries and moving people around. And these are good managers.

Whitaker -I'd be astonished. Sparky Anderson really liked to keep people in their starting slots, but still. Take a look at 1983. Trammell only played 140 games, and Sparky's response was to move starting third baseman Tom Brookens over to short and let Wayne Krenchicki play third, rather than slide Whitaker over, even for one game. That happens year after year. Someone else plays short when Trammell is out. In his entire career, the only field position Lou played was second base. Other than that, he was a DH. If he could have played shortstop, even a little, managers and history have done an outstanding job of concealing it.
   158. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 15, 2008 at 01:59 PM (#2820122)
Robinson - I am pretty sure he could not, and am very sure that his managers didn't think he could.


He was good enough to play shortstop in the NeL. I'd be shocked if he wouldn't have been at least an average fielder at that position in the majors.
   159. Paul Wendt Posted: June 15, 2008 at 03:30 PM (#2820139)
Lajoie was one of the biggest players on his teams. Was that true of any of the other secondbasemen?
It occurs to me that Stallings(?) may deserve some credit for moving him from first to second, as they of Weaver and Ripken's move from third to short.
   160. Paul Wendt Posted: June 15, 2008 at 03:36 PM (#2820141)
from Howie Menckel's ballot yesterday
9. BOBBY GRICH - I stumbled onto the description "hit like Doyle, fielded like Grich" at one point, and that sums it up. This is a sweet skill-set for me - I want serious hitting in the infield if I can get it, and if you can combine it with great fielding - you're in!

If that was someone's description of Grich(?), the point of the fielding reference must have been someone else known for fielding rather than batting. If it was a description of someone else, Grich's batting was too good to be paired with Larry Doyle in this way.
   161. bjhanke Posted: June 15, 2008 at 11:34 PM (#2820757)
Grandma Murphy says of Jackie Robinson, "He was good enough to play shortstop in the NeL. I'd be shocked if he wouldn't have been at least an average fielder at that position in the majors."

Yeah. I know. It makes no sense that he should be a shortstop in the NgL and not ever be trusted to play there on the Dodgers. But more than one good manager passed on the opportunity. I can see bringing him up as a first baseman, because you want him to succeed, and so you give him the least challenging defensive assignment you can, so he can focus on hitting and keeping his temper. But after that.... Either the Dodgers had the most amazing assortment of backup infielders in history - all hot glove shortstops - or his managers thought Robinson should not be sent over there. Even in those occasional long close games where Reese is out and you've been pinch-hitting for your backup shortstops, and you need to do that again, but you're down to the last bench option, even then you don't hit for the backup shortstop and then move Robinson over to short and play the last gasp at second. And this goes on for years. I had to look at the career record twice, just to check if I had missed something. But no. It's not there. The Dodger managers of Robinson's day were just not willing to risk playing him at short, and they were willing to move another starter (Cox) over there in times of need. I have no idea why, but the evidence is really really clear. They may have made a mistake, but Leo Durocher was a hot glove shortstop himself, and ought to have been able to evaluate who could play there and who could not. And Robinson's other managers were, I think, generally considered to be good managers. I'd love to get a chance to ask Leo about this, but that's not going to happen, is it? I'm glad it puzzles you as much as it does me. I was a bit worried that I had missed something out of blindness.
   162. Paul Wendt Posted: June 16, 2008 at 12:16 AM (#2820810)
number of in-game substitutions and switches at 3b, ss, 2b
National League 1948-1952

Brooklyn substitutions and switches at
third - short - second

1948 : 38 - 6 - 24


Across all three positions, the league leaders are
41 Chicago SS
38 Brooklyn 3B
26 Cincinnati 2B
24 Brooklyn 2B

1949: 13 - 3 - 3

Team-position leaders and trailers
43 New York SS
24 Cincinnati 2B
. . .
4 Philadelphia SS (Hamner)
3 Philadelphia 3B (Willie Jones)
3 Brooklyn SS (Reese)
3 Brooklyn 2B (Robinson)

1950: 19 - 13 - 17

31 Pittsburgh SS
27 Boston SS
Brooklyn is in the top half at all three positions

1951: 31 - 9 - 30

47 Pittsburgh 2B
31 Boston SS
28 Philadelphia 2B
28 Brooklyn 3B
27 Brooklyn 2B

1952: 25 - 17 - 29

29 Brooklyn 2B
25 Brooklyn 3B

In 1953 Brooklyn moved Robinson off secondbase in favor of Jim Gilliam.

During these five seasons, Brooklyn was a very heavy user of substitutions and switches at both 3b and 2b.
   163. Cblau Posted: June 16, 2008 at 12:58 AM (#2820839)
When the Dodgers signed Robinson, some observers thought that he wasn't the best candidate to break the ML color line, and one reason was that they thought he wasn't a good enough SS to play in the Majors. Perhaps they were right, although he did so well as second and third, it's hard to believe he couldn't have been adequate at short.
   164. Gary A Posted: June 16, 2008 at 01:17 AM (#2820854)
I don't know. Take Frank White, a great defensive second baseman. From age 28 on, he played exactly one game at shortstop, same as Jackie. I can tell you from long observation of White that he would have been a perfectly good shortstop well into his 30s (or at the very least adequate), and the Royals were certainly unstable at short much of that time. Players just get locked into roles. And earlier in his career White played a lot of shortstop--Jackie, of course, didn't have the chance to play in the majors in his early to mid twenties.
   165. Chris Cobb Posted: June 16, 2008 at 03:53 AM (#2820948)
When the Dodgers signed Robinson, some observers thought that he wasn't the best candidate to break the ML color line, and one reason was that they thought he wasn't a good enough SS to play in the Majors. Perhaps they were right, although he did so well as second and third, it's hard to believe he couldn't have been adequate at short.

This point seems consistent with the broader context of the early years of integration, in which good enough performance from black major-leaguers wasn't "good enough": the black player had to be outstanding in order to get a chance. I think there were two causes of this phenomenon. One was racism; the other was a cautious response to racism. It appears that Rickey was very careful to bring the first black players up to the majors only when they would immediately be very successful: this was the case with Robinson, Campanella, and Newcombe. In this way, he avoided giving critics ammunition for attacking the players or integration on grounds of performance, and the players were positioned to answer the critics through their play. So we shouldn't expect that Robinson's play at shortstop would be judged according to the same standards that would have been applied if he were white. He would only have gotten a shot at shortstop if it were clear that he would be an outstanding shortstop. It wasn't until Ernie Banks in 1954 that a black player became a starting shortstop in the majors, yes?

I don't claim that the existence of this double standard proves that Robinson would, absent the racist double standard, have been an adequate major-league shortstop. But I think the double standard prevents us from being able to settle the question one way or the other. I don't think it is the case that any player who was a starting shortstop in the Negro Leagues could also have played the position adequately in the majors. Monte Irvin, for example, played shortstop in the Negro Leagues, and I don't know that anyone would propose him as having the fielding talent to be an adequate major-league shortstop. Am I wrong about that?
   166. Paul Wendt Posted: June 16, 2008 at 12:26 PM (#2821109)
From Tiboreau's ballot
20. Nellie Fox—There has been a lot of discussion concerning Mr. Fox since Mr. Rosenheck has participated in the HoM and I tend to agree with him concerning Nellie’s candidacy; however, I do respect durability and it’s enough for me to place him above Mets fans favorite manager.
21. Willie Randolph—A poor man’s Lou Whitaker.


Davie Johnson and Willie Randolph.
I think they would have helped the Mets more at second, let them manage the Orioles and Yankees.
How do they stand as candidates?
   167. ronw Posted: June 16, 2008 at 04:13 PM (#2821292)
I think Reese simply blocked Robinson, and was too popular to move off short in Brooklyn. In 1947, Robinson played first base for Shotton, who kept Stanky at second and Reese at short, and used rookie Spider Jorgensen at third. Further, the 1947 Dodgers still had fan favorite Cookie Lavagetto for third, and Arky Vaughan came back for his first post-war season. When Robinson started, 1B (Ed Stevens was the incumbent) was simply the open infield position, and Durocher/Shotton put Robinson where they needed him.

In 1948, Stanky left, the Eddie Miksis experiment didn't work, and Gil Hodges arrived, so Robinson moved to second. Spider Jorgensen wasn't working out at third, but Billy Cox (who had an outstanding fielding reputation) was ready. After that, Robinson was a second baseman until the rise of Jim Gilliam and the decline of Billy Cox.
   168. Paul Wendt Posted: June 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM (#2825731)
from andrew siegel's ballot:
(4) Nap Lajoie--I think he benefited from some weak leagues and agree with Bill James that he was a B+, not an A+, fielder. But, when you add it all up, he still is closer to the top 3 than he is to #5.

Bill James gives Lajoie A- in Win Shares, based on fielding win shares.

(8) Bobby Grich--A shockingly underrated player.

James misjudges in naming Darrell Evans the most underrated ballplayer --not even first in his time.

(10) Frankie Frisch--Wish I couold dock him for ruining the HoF.

He is "overrated" for that :-)

(11) Ross Barnes--The best player in baseball for a few years. His short career has to count against him, as does the fact that the game was still maturing when he dominated; the foul-fair bunt does not.

We'll never know how many fair-foul hits were bunts. I am a skeptic. (See the Ross Barnes page.)
   169. Paul Wendt Posted: June 22, 2008 at 02:32 PM (#2828852)
from the Ballot thread
Kelly (m & s)
11. Hardy Richardson – I tried to get a better picture of him by reading the 1898 – 1905 ballots (I got through 1903 – thank you Internet Archive). About the only thing I gathered was that he was the best second baseman available after Barnes. He had generally broad support, but didn’t seem to have strong supporters or disagreement.

Devin
11. Ross Barnes. I'm a bit wary about his pre-1871 results, because while he was playing with the best team around, we just don't have that much information about that squad. But he was the best player in baseball for awhile, and I don't think it was just the fair-foul hit.

For Hardy Richardson and Ross Barnes, and some other early players there is more information in the "Group" threads (Richardson Group 3, Barnes Group 4) and of course their personal threads. For almost all early players there is some perspective in those Group threads that is missing in the early annual Discussions.

18. Joe Gordon. He does deserve war credit, but I think to get him ahead of Doerr, you have to assume war greatness, and I won't go that far.

Considering what he did through 1948 (two years in Cleveland) it seems to me that he would have been a great player during the war.
To me his 1946 record is a downer so far out of line that I suppose it was war-related.
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