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Friday, December 23, 2005

Richie Ashburn

Eligible in 1968.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2005 at 01:44 AM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2005 at 02:25 AM (#1791091)
Retiring when he was still a fine player didn't help his HOF cause (waiting almost 30 years before he was inducted). Will it do the same thing for his HoM candidacy?
   2. OCF Posted: December 23, 2005 at 02:30 AM (#1791099)
More so than most, we really need a good sense of exactly what his defensive value was. He caught more flies than Willie Mays; can we work through all the illusions to understand what that really means?
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: December 23, 2005 at 04:03 PM (#1791720)
I think he's a HoMer someday, but after Hugh Duffy...and for my PHoM, after Earl Averill. His offensive value is just a little limited.
   4. DanG Posted: December 23, 2005 at 04:17 PM (#1791744)
His BBWAA HOF vote support history is poor. He's lucky the 5% rule wasn't in effect until 1979.
Year  Election  Votes Pct
1968  BBWAA  6  2.12  
1969  BBWAA  10  2.94  
1970  BBWAA  11  3.67  
1971  BBWAA  10  2.78  
1972  BBWAA  11  2.78  
1973  BBWAA  25  6.58  
1974  BBWAA  56  15.34  
1975  BBWAA  76  20.99  
1976  BBWAA  85  21.91  
1977  BBWAA  139  36.29  
1978  BBWAA  158  41.69  
1979  BBWAA  130  30.09  
1980  BBWAA  134  34.81  
1981  BBWAA  142  35.41  
1982  BBWAA  126  30.36  
   5. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: December 23, 2005 at 10:03 PM (#1792180)
I must say that his WS numbers dont' look that dissimilar to Enos Slaughter in my system. I think he will be a HOMer one day, but maybe after a bit of a wait.
   6. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 24, 2005 at 03:37 AM (#1792623)
Ditto what I wrote in the Yost comment - OPS+ isn't the way to look at this guy. That OBP is incredible. Led the league 4x in OBP, 5x in times on base. I think of him like Ichiro! in CF, or a rich man's Brett Butler.
   7. KJOK Posted: December 28, 2005 at 10:15 PM (#1797375)
Ashburn's "near contemporaries" are:

Mays
Mantle
DiMaggio
Snider
Doby
Wynn

I currently have a hard time ranking him above any of those guys, and "7th best CF" of his 30 year period probably won't make my ballot...
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: December 28, 2005 at 10:32 PM (#1797400)
My early sense is that he was indeed an amazing defensive CF, but I don't have anything tangible handy right now.

I'm surprised Max Carey's name hasn't come up yet.

Richie did quit early - age 35, after a .306 BA year - but he had 9706 PAs playing all but one year in the 154-game schedule era. So I don't think that's a problem.
111 OPS+, though. I start from hitting, then add or subtract fielding value from there. He adds, more than most, but even 'adding' 25 pts of career OPS to account for his fielding doesn't necessarily get him in. And that's one heckuva bonus.

Dimino's right on the OBP issue, though; I usually have to make only a slight adjustment with that, but Ashburn is an extreme case, so it's clearly better than a 111. So that requires less of a 'bonus' for fielding, I suppose.

I'm on the fence right now, as this is a tough one. I had Carey No. 15 when he got elected, Averill never got to my 'elect-me' spots, and I don't vote for Duffy (though he is trying to battle his way back in now). Is Ashburn in that category?
   9. Paul Wendt Posted: December 29, 2005 at 07:26 PM (#1798822)
Richie did quit early - age 35, after a .306 BA year

True. On the other hand, he was a mediocre batter on average in the last four seasons.

I had Carey No. 15 when he got elected, Averill never got to my 'elect-me' spots, and I don't vote for Duffy (though he is trying to battle his way back in now). Is Ashburn in that category?

Carey, good point. But neither Averill nor Duffy helps make a category. I think Fielder Jones belongs. Dom DiMaggio (with credit for 1943-1945). Mike Griffin is closer than Averill or Duffy, I think, but he quit when he was a star.
   10. DavidFoss Posted: December 29, 2005 at 07:36 PM (#1798849)
I currently have a hard time ranking him above any of those guys, and "7th best CF" of his 30 year period probably won't make my ballot...

I concur (even if you remove Wynn due to lack of overlap).

Lets not forget that Ashburn is actually *younger* than Duke Snider who is not yet eligible.
   11. OCF Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:34 AM (#1799747)
Here are my offensive numbers for a number of centerfielders, based on context-adjusted RCAA, with the RC from a Stats Handbook. In particular, this does put Ashburn's OBP-first record in its best light, and it does give credit for stolen bases. The first column is proportional to context-adjusted RCAA, in units that are something like wins. The second column is a nonlinear "big years bonus". The third column is like the first except that the baseline isn't average, it is 75% of average - thus it, in part, measures career length. The list is sorted by some composite score I make of the three numbers. This is all based on major league play only, which sells Averill a little short and Doby way short.
Player      RCAA  big yrs  RC/75
Doby         40    28       58
Van Haltren  40    21       67
Duffy        38    25       62
Ryan         36    20       64
H. Wilson    36    28       52
Ashburn      37    20       63
Averill      37    23       58
Roush        37    21       60
Thomas       37    23       55
Berger       35    23       51
Combs        33    19       51
F. Jones     31    13       54
Carey        31    12       59  
D. DiMaggio  27    10       50

(Carey would look a little better if you didn't use all of his career.)

This doesn't deal with defense. Include that, and some (Ashburn, Jones, Carey) would gain relative to the list and some (Wilson) would lose.

There's no point in showing you Cobb, Speaker, or J. Dimaggio - they rank higher, of course, as will Mays and Mantle when their turns come.
   12. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 30, 2005 at 12:44 PM (#1799786)
7th best OF of a 30-year period, while technically correct is awfully loaded, no?

4 of the 7 are among the top 100 or so players ever. 4 of the 7 are also 57% of the greatest 7 CF of the last 130 years, not just the 30 years around which Ashburn played.

There was nothing about 1945-65 that made it easier to be a great CF, nor was there anything that made CF inherently less valuable as a defensive position that it would otherwise be. Talent gluts sometimes just happen, and I don't see why Ashburn should be penalized for it.
   13. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 30, 2005 at 02:42 PM (#1799825)
Ashburn is slightly ahead of Carey in my book, but still outside the top 25 among CFs. The position is, in general, just too loaded with great players. Ahead of him and unelected are Duffy, GVH, Browning, Roush, Ryan, Leach, and maybe Poles.
   14. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: December 30, 2005 at 04:38 PM (#1799909)
I hadn't thought of Carey and Roush for some reason. I currently Have Ashburn in my top 20 sandwiched in between GVH/Slaughter, and Oms. However, I have Carey and Roush doen in the low thirties, so a connection to them could drop him a little.
   15. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: December 30, 2005 at 04:40 PM (#1799914)
Oh, and I agree with Joe on the talent glut. Ashburn shouldnt' be penalized because his career overlapped four of the seven best at his position ever.
   16. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1799957)
four of the seven best at his position ever.

Is Duke Snider really that high? He's a no-doubt HOM-er, for sure. Griffey & Hamilton are close. We'll discuss that in a couple of years when he's eligible I suppose. At any rate, there seems to be a big drop between three and four on that list.
   17. sunnyday2 Posted: December 30, 2005 at 06:03 PM (#1800026)
Cobb-Speaker
Mantle-Mays...any order you like

DiMaggio...any order you like

Snider
Griffey
Hamilton...any order you like

Snider is clearly somewhere 6 to 8 no lower.

James had Puckett 8 and Hamilton 9, I doubt that even he would do that any more. Slidin' Billy 337 career WS in shorter seasons.

I could see Doby in that cluster ahead of Puckett if you include his NeL years. But Carey and GVH are #8 and 9 in career WS at 351 and 344. Nobody would put them in that 6-8/6-9 cluster, would they?

Best single year peak:

Mantle and Speaker (!) 51
Cobb 48
Mays 43
Cy Seymour (!) 42
DiMaggio 41
Snider 39
Benny Kauff 38 but I'm assuming that's in the FL
Griffey, Hamilton, Wynn, Berger, Willie McGee (!) and Donlin 36
Wilson, Van Slyke, Dykstra 35

Snider clearly is an all-timer. 352 career WS is comp to Ed Delahanty, Harry Heilmann, Dan Brouthers...with a glove. The 39 comps McCovey, Joe Jackson, Tony Gwynn...with a glove. His 171 for 5 years comps Ott, Yaz, Foxx...with more letters.
   18. jingoist Posted: December 30, 2005 at 07:25 PM (#1800181)
Griffey below the Duke.....who would have ever thought that 5 or so years ago.
Jr. was going to rewrite the record books; leave Mays and Mantle in his dust and perhaps pass the babe before he was done.
Ahh the vicissitudes of life.
Jr will probably end up an inner circle guy if he can stay healthy another 3 or 4 years.
Due to the rash of injuries his career is beginning to strongly resemble Mantles now that he's in his mid 30's.
   19. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 07:52 PM (#1800228)
We'll discuss it more when there is a Duke Snider thread, but Griffey has a slightly higher OPS+ in as many PA's as Snider (more PA actually, but there was a season-length change). Plus, Griffey won Gold Gloves and ran better in his prime. Snider had his own post-30 injury issues. Griffey only slated to pass Mays/Mantle in homers, but nothing else. Mantle had at least eight seasons better than Griffey's best. Griffey may have been overrated in his prime -- but I still think he'll rank ahead of the Duke.

All this is skipping Charleston.
   20. OCF Posted: December 30, 2005 at 07:59 PM (#1800241)
This is a test
Random    Data
Bob        12  273
Frederick  26    4


All right: I have a (bracket)pre(bracket) before that; a (bracket)/pre(bracket) behind it. The 12 and the 26 are lined up with the first "a" in "Data", and the 273 and the 4 match on the right edge. It looks fine in live preview. It's the way I've always done things on this site.
   21. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:00 PM (#1800243)
Back to Ashburn. What did his Win Shares defensive letter grade end up being?

I know he was the CF-Putout King, but I also recall an essay in that book dealing with the flyball tendencies of the Phillie staff.
   22. OCF Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:00 PM (#1800247)
So what broke? Why doesn't the "pre" tag work the way it always has in the past?
   23. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:11 PM (#1800261)
1 1 1 1 1
W W W W W
   24. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:12 PM (#1800266)
testing
</pre>
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:13 PM (#1800268)
So what broke? Why doesn't the "pre" tag work the way it always has in the past?

I had the same problem with the unofficial results I had posted a few days ago on the Election thread. I'm going to notify Jim about it.
   26. DavidFoss Posted: December 30, 2005 at 08:21 PM (#1800278)
My guess is that there is some sort of change in the way the forum is posting. View->Source shows that the first "pre" disappears and then the second "pre" is then "html-encoded" so that its display does not change the web page. '<' becomes ampersand-lt-semicolon. Funny thing is that the preview pane still works as before.

I've read recently about message-board trolls who would post nasty html stuff in an attempt to 'break' the page. Maybe the software is trying guard against that type of thing. We've haven't had problems with trolls here in the past and I imagine John/Joe would be quick to remove posts like that. Perhaps there is an option to turn that filter off? Also, we just use the 'pre'-tag for the fixed-width font and spacing. Maybe there is another way we could do that? Another button to add to the bold/italic/underline/etc?

Just brainstorming here.
   27. OCF Posted: December 31, 2005 at 10:23 PM (#1801396)
Square brackets versus angle brackets? Over on another BTF thread, they're talking about square brackets.

Random     Data
Bob         12   273
Frederick   26     4 
   28. OCF Posted: December 31, 2005 at 10:27 PM (#1801400)
Well, that's freaky. The preview is bad, but the result is good - but blue.

Here's the table from post #11 - read the rest of #11 for the explanation.

Player       RCAA big yrs RC/75
Doby          40   28      58
Van Haltren   40   21      67
Duffy         38   25      62
Ryan          36   20      64
H
Wilson     36   28      52
Ashburn       37   20      63
Averill       37   23      58
Roush         37   21      60
Thomas        37   23      55
Berger        35   23      51
Combs         33   19      51
F
Jones      31   13      54
Carey         31   12      59 
D
DiMaggio   27   10      50 


The preview is still bad.
   29. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 31, 2005 at 10:43 PM (#1801406)
I had tried that originally, OCF, but if you look at the unofficial results on the Election thread, the lines don't set up right.
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: January 01, 2006 at 01:16 AM (#1801483)
The source for #28 uses "code" and "/code" in angle brackets.
So I will use "code" tags directly.

"Richie Ashburn" Content Analysis thru #30

content articles number percent
Ashburn 1-19,21 20 66.6
format 20,22-30 10 33.3

How is that? No, I won't repeatedly type or paste
ampersand n b s p semicolon
   31. OCF Posted: January 01, 2006 at 01:57 AM (#1801511)
Angle brackets, with code and /code?

Random Data
Bob 12 273
Frederick 26 4


The preview doesn't line up.

How about square brackets, with code and /code?

Random     Data
Bob         12   273
Frederick   26     4 


And that preview is wrong.
   32. OCF Posted: January 01, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#1801515)
So angle brackets with code and /code changes to the monospaced font but doesn't preserve the spaces; that's also what seems to have happened in post #30. Square brackets with code and /code seems to do the exact same thing as square brackets with pre and /pre.
   33. Chris Cobb Posted: January 03, 2006 at 05:25 PM (#1804253)
Here's some analysis of Ashburn's fielding as it is evaluated by Win Shares and WARP. To place Ashburn relative to other centerfielders, I created a comprehensive consideration set that included all players on Bill James' top 100 centerfielders list, all centerfielders with over 9000 defensive innings and a career fws rate of over 3.5 ws/1000 innings, even if they were not rated in the top 100 by James, and five current centerfielders who have played around 1000 games at the position through 2005, but who don't make James's lists, for a total set of 113 outfielders who probably include around the top 100 fielders and the top 100 hitters at the position.

First, win shares.

In playing time, Ashburn ranks high. As of 2001, he was 8th all time in outfield defensive innings among players who were primarily centerfielders with 18683, trailing Cobb, Mays, Speaker, Carey, Pinson, Willie Davis, and Doc Cramer. (Robin Yount has many more defensive innings if his SS playing time is counted). Ken Griffey, Jr., Marquis Grissom, and Kenny Lofton are probably much closer to Ashburn than they were 4 seasons ago, but I doubt any has passed him yet.

In career fielding win shares, Ashburn ranks seventh among centerfielders as of 2001, or ninth if one gives Tommy Leach and Robin Yount their infield fielding credit. Here's the top 20 over all.

117.7 Speaker
103.6 Mays
103.1 Yount
94.8 Carey
93.5 Leach
82.7 Cobb
78.4 Willie Davis
75.0 Flood
73.8 Ashburn
72.5 Otis
72.4 Cramer
69.2 Pinson
68.6 Lloyd Waner
67.9 Wilson
67.4 Fielder Jones
66.5 Grissom
63.9 Blair
63.2 Lemon
60.5 Joe Dimaggio
59.6 Jimmy Piersall

In fielding ws per 1000 innings, Ashburn ranks 30th among centerfielders included in James' lists (contemporary players, most notably Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds, who would rank higher, are not included in this ranking). His career rate of 3.95 win shares earns him a letter grade of A+. I estimate that the average rate for centerfielders is between 3.4-3.6 fws/1000 innings, so Ashburn is considerably above average for his career. The top five are Curt Flood 5.32, Curt Welch 5.11, Mike Kreevich 5.06, Tris Speaker 4.93, Marquis Grissom 4.7. Grissom has certainly dropped from that rate by now, and the #1 spot has almost certainly been taken by Anduw Jones.

Close comps for Ashburn by rate are Omar Moreno at 4.05, Joe Dimaggio at 4.01, Bill Virdon at 4.00, Hugh Duffy at 3.99, Earl Averill at 3.99, Kirby Puckett at 3.97, Johnny Mostil at 3.95, Willie Davis at 3.88, Barney McCoskey at 3.87, Kenny Lofton at 3.86, and Doc Cramer at 3.85.

Although this ranking by fielding rate is not especially impressive, it should be noted that few of the players with better rates than Ashburn were better hitters. Only five players who rank ahead of Ashburn in career fielding rate have better career EQAs than he does: Tris Speaker, George Gore, Joe Dimaggio, and Earl Averill. (Kirby Puckett trails Ashburn by WARP1 EQA but leads him by WARP2 EQA).

Second, WARP. In general, WARP evaluates Ashburn's fielding as being a bit less good relative to other centerfielders than WS does, but as WARP places more value on fielding in general, Ashburn may do better overall in WARP than he does vs. other centerfielders. All WARP totals are through 2005

First, some career measures. Ashburn has 360 FRAR in WARP1, 310 FRAR in WARP 2. He has 15 FRAA in WARP1, 12 FRAA in WARP2. So he is only slightly above average for his career, as WARP sees it, but his career was long enough that his value above replacement is very substantial. Here's how each of those values places him vs. other centerfielders.

360 FRAR W1 -- 23rd (Top 5 Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Willie Myas, Tommy Leach w/3B, Max Carey)
310 FRAR W2 -- 15th (Top 5 Willie Mays, Tris Speaker, Robin Young w/SS, Ty Cobb, Willie Davis)
15 FRAA W1 -- 51st (Top 5 Fielder Jones, Tris Speaker, Andruw Jones, Willie Mays, Curt Welch)
12 FRAA W2 -- 46th (Top 5 Andruw Jones, Willie Mays, Fielder Jones, Dom Dimaggio, Curt Flood)

Second, some peak/prime measures. Although Ashburn was very steady as a hitter in the view of EQA, with a low peak and only a few early and late bad seasons, he had, as WARP sees it, a strong fielding peak and subsequent decline that makes his career FRAA totals not really representative of his talent as a fielder. So I calculated WARP1 FRAA primes for career sections of just over 1000 games for all players in the consideration set, finding total FRAA for the prime and prime rate. I chose the best set of consecutive seasons adding up to at least 1000 games played for each player, extending it up to about 1350 games if that would benefit the player's rate and using the whole career if less than 1000 games. For these measures, I looked only at centerfield play, since WARP breaks it out. The career measures above include all fielding.

From 1951-1957, Ashburn was 49 FRAA in 1058.3 games for a prime rate of 7.13/154 games. That total is 27th all time. That rate is 29th. Had I done the rates in WARP2, Ashburn would have ranked somewhat higher, of course.

As with win shares, Ashburn is a better hitter (usually a significantly better hitter) than most of the centerfielders with better defensive primes than his own. There are 11 players with a career EQA greater than or equal to his who exceed his prime rate in WARP1: Mike Griffin (W1 only), Mays, Speaker, Hines (W1 only), Bill Lange (W1 only), Gore, Jimmy Barrett (W1 only), Van Haltren (W1 only), Jim Edmonds, Cobb, Lofton (W2 only).

Finally, turning the measures around, Ashburn is 40th and 33rd, respectively, in career EQA among this consideration set. He is a better fielder than all but a handful, and has a longer career than most. The question is, how many of these players does Ashburn pass on his fielding merits? He is 17th by career W1, 11th by career W3, and 11th by career WS.

If you're interested in seeing any specific comparisons out of this data set, just let me know and I will pull the numbers.
   34. DavidFoss Posted: January 11, 2006 at 05:42 AM (#1815557)
Test:
Random     Data
Bob         12   273
Frederick   26     4

   35. sunnyday2 Posted: January 11, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#1815769)
Some CFers (WS)

15. Roush 314/33-33-30/136/25.9 and A- fielder
16. Ashburn 329/29-28-28/137/24.3 and A+
20. Duffy 295/33-29-28/144/27.5 and A+
27. W. Davis 322/26-26-25/119/21.5 and A
28. GVH 344/30-29-26/121/28.1 and B

OPS+ (>100 in 100+ G)

Ashburn 142-36-22-22-19-16-10-10-108-5-1/111 in ~9550 PAs
W. Davis 136-24-17-17-16-12-11-5-4-4/106/~9600 PAs
Duffy 172-37*-25-25-23-22-16-6/121 in ~7700 PAs (adj to >9000)
Roush 162-53-49-47-45-42-35-25-25-14-8/126 in ~7850 PAs (adj to ~8000)
GVH 139-38-38-37-34-29-28-28-18-12-6-0/122 in ~9000 PAs (adj to >10,000)

* Competition discount (AA)

Career Measures

On career WS you need to adjust Duffy and GVH (and Roush ever so slightly) for season length.
GVH has a huge edge then, with no significant difference among the other 4.

Ashburn and Duffy are the best fielders while Roush, GVH and Duffy are the best hitters on a "rate" basis.

Peak Measures

Once you adjust for season length, Duffy had the highest raw WS peak. AFter that it's a bit of a muddle with Davis the only who can't make much of a case. On OPS+ it is clearly Roush. Duffy has one huge year but then drops into Ashburn range, while GVH quickly moves up into the #2 slot behind Roush. On defense one would again have to assume that Ashburn and Duffy had the highest peak values.

Overall

Aside from the extreme peak candidates, whom one cannot really compare to Ashburn anyway, Duffy, Roush and GVH seem to me to be the obvious ML candidates still eligible, while there was some discussion of Willie Davis somewhere recently so I was curious about him.

For career it seems pretty clearly GVH and then all the rest in a pretty tight formation. For peak pretty clearly Duffy, then Roush, then GVH and Ashburn, then Davis.

Overall I would have to put Duffy at the top, then GVH and Roush pretty close, then Ashburn, then I would have to say that one of these is not like the others despite the fact that he played long enough to rack up a lot of career WS.

Bottom line on Ashburn is his offensive peak is not high enough, and neither his defense nor his career length gives him a real advantage over Duffy once you adjust for season length. With GVH and Roush he has some advantages and I could see rating Ashburn ahead of GVH and Roush, but only with the help of a timeline.
   36. TomH Posted: January 11, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#1815949)
I could see rating Ashburn ahead of GVH and Roush, but only with the help of a timeline.

Or maybe an "ease of domination" correction?

5th highest amount of Win Shares by al players in different major league years:

1895 34
1900 27 (odd year of contraction: in 1901 it is 33)
1905 35
1910 36
1915 36
1920 37
1925 30
1930 35
1935 34
1940 31
1945 31 (war year; in 1946, it's 33)
1950 30
1955 32
1960 31

Ashbrun's string of years of 28 WS look good to me in comparison to Duffy/Rosuh/GVH's years of 30 WS.
   37. sunnyday2 Posted: January 11, 2006 at 05:17 PM (#1816032)
>Ashbrun's string of years of 28 WS look good to me in comparison to Duffy/Rosuh/GVH's years of 30 WS.

Keep in mind that Duffy's 33 WS came in 1894 in about a 130 game season and GVH's 30 came in 1890 in a 133 game season. One of Roush's 33s came in 1919 in a 140 game season.

So your statement is only true if you adjust Ashburn up (or the others down) via "timeline" or "ease of domination" or whatever you want to call it, but fail to adjust Duffy and Roush and GVH for season length.
   38. TomH Posted: January 11, 2006 at 06:34 PM (#1816189)
not sure I get you, sunny -- if it was more common in 1894 to achieve 30 WS in 130 games than it was in 1955 to achieve 28 WS in 154 games, what other adjustment do I need to make before I conclude that the 28 WS is a 'better' achievement?

One caveat that I didn't explain before, is that the top WS totals include pitchers. It would be more work than I was (am?) willing to do to strip out WS by position.
   39. sunnyday2 Posted: January 11, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#1816260)
TomH, you mean to say that you don't adjust for season length?

Actually my system is heavily weighted toward how a player stacks up against his peers--the #1 CFer of the 1890s and the #1 CF of the 1950s are generally regarded as being "equal" on that dimension. Obviously there are many other dimensions involved. But part of the evaluation is how do they stack up against their peers, so I am sympathetic to what you say.

And yet it's also true that the fact that it was "easier to dominate" in the 1890s doesn't make it less valuable. In fact, it made it more valuable for a team to have one of those guys who could dominate. So I could make a counter-argument.

In the end I can't quite get all the way to 28 in 154 in 1955 = 30 in 130 in 1894 because what that really says in 28 in 1955 = 35.5 in 1894 and that's too big of a leap.
   40. TomH Posted: January 11, 2006 at 09:42 PM (#1816662)
didn't mean to imply that I don't adjust for season length. I do; it's silly not to.
   41. Paul Wendt Posted: January 11, 2006 at 11:28 PM (#1816955)
There are 11 players with a career EQA greater than or equal to his who exceed his prime rate in WARP1: Mike Griffin (W1 only), Mays, Speaker, Hines (W1 only), Bill Lange (W1 only), Gore, Jimmy Barrett (W1 only), Van Haltren (W1 only), Jim Edmonds, Cobb, Lofton (W2 only).

Is Griffin (CF beside Fielder Jones in the 1890s) listed first because WARP1 rates his prime-years fielding best of the eleven?
   42. Cblau Posted: January 12, 2006 at 01:58 AM (#1817284)
sunnyday2,
Are those just Batting Win Shares you listed, or are they the full numbers including fielding?
   43. sunnyday2 Posted: January 12, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#1817355)
Cliff, they're the whole pkg.
   44. Chris Cobb Posted: January 14, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#1820735)
Is Griffin (CF beside Fielder Jones in the 1890s) listed first because WARP1 rates his prime-years fielding best of the eleven?

Yes. Of the centerfielders with higher WARP1 prime fielding rates than Ashburn who also have career WARP1 or 2 EQAs higher than Ashburn, Griffin has the highest prime fielding rate.

For the record, here are the FRAA/154 g prime rates of the centerfielders whose prime rates and career EQAs are higher than Ashburn's with their prime rate's rank all time (and W1/2 EQA in paretheses):

6. Griffin 13.12 (.295/.281)
7. Mays 12.36 (.325/.325)
8. Hines 12.32 (.301/.282)
9. Speaker 12.31 (.325/.316)
12. Lange 11.53 (.293/.282) [short prime c. 700 games, not 1000 for others]
13. Gore 11.52 (.310/.293)
18. Barrett 10.54 (.289/.282) [short prime c.700 games, not 1000 for others]
20. Van Haltren 9.01 (.293/.281)
21. Edmonds 8.99 (.304/.310)
24. Cobb 8.56 (.332/.323)
27. Lofton 7.67 (.278/.288)
29. Ashburn 7.13 (.288/.288)

And also for the record, the top 5 prime rates by WARP1 FRAA/154 g:

1. Fielder Jones 22.07 (.286/.278)
2. Andruw Jones 17.62 (.282/.282)
3. Dom Dimaggio 17.03 (.281/.280)
4. Curt Welch 16.68 (.279/.250)
5. Paul Blair 15.06 (.260/.258)
   45. Chris Cobb Posted: January 14, 2006 at 06:57 PM (#1820831)
I was interested by the debate that TomH and Sunnyday2 had above concerning the relative merit of peak performances in the 1890s and 1950s above.

TomH claimed that Duffy’s peak seasons, by win shares, were not much more impressive than Ashburn’s, even though they are higher, because it was so much more common for 30+ win share totals to be put up.

Sunnyday2 agreed in principle that there would be some difference between the merit of a 30-win share season (pro-rated to 154 games) in 1895 and in 1955, but that Tom’s argument implied that 28 win shares in 1955 was worth 35 win shares in 1895, and that differences was just too great.

Tom noted that his own decade-vs.-decade comparisons by top win-share values don’t separate pitchers from position players.

It struck me that, given win shares’ problems with overrating early pitchers, this could be a significant problem when comparing the 1890s to the 1950s, so I did a little study in which I used the _Win Shares_ book and an Excel spreadsheet to find and place in rank order all the seasons in which position players earned 20 or more win shares 1893-1897 and 1951-55. Because I was drawing the data from win share lists for each team, I may have missed a few players who were traded during the season, but I doubt the number of players omitted for this reason would significantly affect the results.

With this data, we can see whether an absolute number of win shares in a season (say 28 or 30) is more or less common in one period than the other, relative to the total number of starting position players or ranks more or less highly on average in the era. Since there are 16 teams in the 50s vs. 12 in the 90s, I figure that the 50s should have about 1/3 more players earning a certain number of win shares, or more (say 28 or more) than the 90s (when the totals for the 90s are adjusted to 154 games or the totals from the 50s adjusted to 132 games), if the level of competition in the two eras is about the same.

Here are some findings.

1) The ease of achieving 23+ win shares.

For 23+ win shares. 20 win shares in a 132-game season projects to 23.3 win shares in a 154-game season, so I compared the number of 20-and-up ws seasons in 93-97 to the number of 23-and-up seasons in 51-55.

1890s – 93
1950s – 108
1890s adjusted to 16-team environment – 124

It appears that it was relatively more common for position players to put up 20-win-share seasons in 132 games 1893-97 than it was for position players to put up 23-win-share seasons 1951-55.

This finding suggests that some sort of adjustment for quality of competition when comparing Duffy/Van Haltren/Griffin to Ashburn by win shares is appropriate.

2) The rank-equivalent of 28 win shares.

Players earning 28 win shares in a season in 1951-55 finished, on average, 9.4th among position players. This is equivalent to ranking 7th among position players in a 12-team environment.

On average, the 7th ranking win-share total among position players 1893-97 was 25.8 which adjusts to 30.1 win shares in 154 games.

The rank-equivalent of 28 win shares in 1951-55 for position players is 30 win shares, season-adjusted, 1893-97, or appx. 26 win shares with no season adjustment.

Sunnyday2’s concern that saying 28 win shares in the 1950s is equivalent to 35 win shares in the 1890s is much too large of a competition adjustment is corroborated by this analysis.

3) The 5-spot equivalents. The 5th spot in a 16-team league is equivalent in this methodology to the 3.75 spot in a 12-team league, so I compared the average 5th-ranked value from 1951-55 to the value 3/4 of the way from the 3-spot to the 4-spot 1893-1897.

The average 5th-ranked ws total 1951-55 is 32.6.

The average 3rd-ranked ws total 1893-97 is 29 – 33.8 season-adjusted
The average 4th-ranked ws total 1893-97 is 27.8 – 32.4 season-adjusted
The 3.75th ranked ws total 1893-97 is 32.8, season-adjusted.

Interestingly, as we move closer to the top of the rankings, the difference between the eras diminishes. Because the number of seasons in the pool is shrinking, the results are more attributable to chance and less attributable to real indicators of quality. I would also note that the top players of the mid-1890s were Burkett, Delahanty, Hamilton, and Jennings, while the top players of the early 1950s were Mays, Mantle, Musial, and Williams. It seems clear that the latter group is superior to the former, so it is not surprising that MMMW would put up ws totals equal to or better than those put up by BDHJ, even though they were facing, overall, better competition, as evidenced by the findings of study 1 and study 2.

The closer we get to the top of a ranking by period, the less reliable rankings by period become as a tool for comparing the players of one period to those of another.

Overall, I think it is reasonable to conclude from this study that a voter who uses season-adjusted win shares and who is interested in making a competition adjustments when comparing players from different periods might add 2 win shares per full season to Ashburn’s totals when comparing his totals to the season-adjusted totals of players who starred in the 1890s.
   46. sunnyday2 Posted: January 14, 2006 at 07:48 PM (#1820852)
Two points. This is certainly a nice analysis but it rests on some assumptions that ought to be explicit.

>I would also note that the top players of the mid-1890s were Burkett, Delahanty, Hamilton, and Jennings, while the top players of the early 1950s were Mays, Mantle, Musial, and Williams. It seems clear that the latter group is superior to the former,

1. What was the method for this conclusion? This renders this particular part of the analysis tautalogical I think.

So, if I accept the first part of Chris' analysis but not the latter, this bears out what I have said all along. The very best players are outliers and the pool has virtually no influence on their relative values. As you get down in the pool the differences become more and more relative to the relatively thinner and thicker pools.

But Ashburn is clearly not Mantle or Mays, or Delahanty or Hamilton, for that matter, so, fine, give him an extra couple WS/year when comparing him to Duffy if you must. But my concern is if anybody interprets this analysis as making him out to be Slidin' Billy, I think would be a wrong conclusion.

2. And before even accepting the first part of the analysis, I would think there is another variable that needs to be incorporated. That is in-season durability. How many WS did the players in question earn per game played? If as I suspect the '90s guys earned just as many or more WS per game--and I mean adjusted WS per Chris' method--then the difference is accounted for by in-season durability.

And if it is true that playing 100 percent of a teams games was more difficult in those days, due to the roughness of the game, lack of conditioning on the part of the players, etc. etc.--in other words if the lack of in-season durability is endemic to the game at the time, and almost nobody displayed the kind of durability that became common later--then the extra 2 WS are simply environmental, not really accruing to anything Ashburn did relative to his peers. Just as players born in the '10s and '20s ended up losing time to WWII, players born in the '60s and '70s almost all, by virtue of their date of birth, suffered an analogous loss of opportunity. Philosophically, if this is true, I have a hard time rewarding Ashburn differentially to Duffy because of the luck of the date of birth.

IOW you are crediting Ashburn because it was--endemically to all players--easier to dominate in the '90s. But maybe you need to credit Duffy because it was--endemically to all players--easier to be durable in-season.

If Ashburn's hypothetical/adjusted advantage is NOT attributable to in-season durability, then my point does not trump the Ashburn-Duffy debate. But in generic terms it is a question that ought to be part of any larger comparison of the '90s and '50s or whatever. Of course, this has all been said before, and not by me, as it relates to Cupid Childs.

I'd like to see Chris' method incorporate in-season durability and ask about Childs and, say, Schoendienst, who it appears will be on a ballot or two.
   47. TomH Posted: January 14, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#1820911)
good analysis, Chris, and response, Sunny. Surely it WAS eaiser to play full seasons (and longer careers!) in 1955, and this DEFINITELY should affect the Childs / Schoedienst question as well.

However, if we are comparing rank order to peers, ease of playing a full season between eras should aready be accounted for, by definition.

I would also note that the top players of the mid-1890s were Burkett, Delahanty, Hamilton, and Jennings, while the top players of the early 1950s were Mays, Mantle, Musial, and Williams. It seems clear that the latter group is superior to the former,

1. What was the method for this conclusion? This renders this particular part of the analysis tautalogical I think


well, there should be many many ways of concluding the above; it's almost so much of a historical given that many would think the burden of porrof woudl be on someone to show that the later group is NOT superior and thus acting as outliers.
   48. TomH Posted: January 14, 2006 at 08:46 PM (#1820916)
MLB leaders in times reached base, through Ashburn's career, 1948-1962 (figured as plate appearances * OBA)
--
Ashburn 3855
Musial.. 3771
not sre who 3rd place is, but no one else is anywhere close


Musial is first in runs scored, with 41 more than Richie.
   49. Chris Cobb Posted: January 14, 2006 at 09:41 PM (#1820962)
Tom's point about the rank-order method already taking durability into account is correct, though I would note that a more fine-tuned study would look separately at different positions within the position player pool.

If one looked only at outfielders, or only at infielders, or only at catchers, the results would differ. I think it is the case that no catcher put up a 20 win-share season 1893-97; certainly no one did so playing exclusively as a catcher. In the conditions of the 1950s, catchers put up a bunch of 20+ and even a couple of 30+ win-share seasons (Berra and Campy, of course). So if catchers are eliminated from the pool, I expect that it would look even harder for players at other positions to earn some high number of win shares per season. It's possible that, because of durability issues, it was also easier for infielders to put up high ws totals in the 1950s than in the 1890s. The matter could also be studied.

So if Ashburn were an infielder or a catcher, I'd say that not taking durability issues into account might prejudice the study against a player from the 1890s. But 1890s outfieders are clearly advantaged by durability issues when they are ranked against their peers by seasonal win-share totals (Duffy, fwiw, missed very few games during his prime). A more nuanced approach to durability seems much more likely to show that the competition adjustment for Ashburn versus 1890s centerfielders should be increased, not reduced. (I'm not sure how the practice of platooning in the 1950s would affect the study, but I'll mention it as another factor that possibly exerts some influence).


I wrote:

>I would also note that the top players of the mid-1890s were Burkett, Delahanty, Hamilton, and Jennings, while the top players of the early 1950s were Mays, Mantle, Musial, and Williams. It seems clear that the latter group is superior to the former,

Sunnyday2 wrote:

1. What was the method for this conclusion? This renders this particular part of the analysis tautalogical I think.

I eyeballed it. . . . Like Tom, I think the burden of proof would rest with anyone who wants to claim that BDHJ are either equal or better than MMMW. The point of looking closer at the top was to see whether the patterns at the top of the rankings correspond to the patterns at lower levels in the rankings. They don't. The very top players are outliers. If we want to document trends in changing levels of competition, we need to look at the relative ease with which players put up above-average win-share totals.

Sunnyday2 wrote:

But Ashburn is clearly not Mantle or Mays, or Delahanty or Hamilton, for that matter, so, fine, give him an extra couple WS/year when comparing him to Duffy if you must. But my concern is if anybody interprets this analysis as making him out to be Slidin' Billy, I think would be a wrong conclusion.

I certainly agree, though I don't see how anyone would reach that conclusion. If one takes 28-ws per year Richie Ashburn and adds 2 ws per year to make him 30-ws per year Richie Ashburn when ranking him against the 1890s guys, that doesn't in any way make him into 35-40-ws per year Billy Hamilton! It does help Ashburn in in comparison to 28-ws per year George Van Haltren, though, I think.
   50. Howie Menckel Posted: January 15, 2006 at 04:42 PM (#1822021)
Hey, fellas!
Feels like it's been months since I posted, but I'm still reading.

Ashburn just doesn't get me riled up much either way, and I was quite active in the last two weeks of December regarding the other candidates.
Hence the mere lurking.

Will be nice to see a ballot thread pop up tomorrow....
   51. KJOK Posted: January 17, 2006 at 11:20 PM (#1825806)
I just noticed that BP, at some point since this project began, drastically reduced Ashburn's rating. He was rated at a "107" originally, but is now rated "101" for his career, which is just barely above average..
   52. KJOK Posted: January 17, 2006 at 11:54 PM (#1825883)
I just noticed that BP, at some point since this project began, drastically reduced Ashburn's FIELDING rating.
   53. Chris Cobb Posted: January 18, 2006 at 01:20 AM (#1826046)
fwiw, all the analysis I posted on the thread above is based on the currently published BP numbers.
   54. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: September 06, 2007 at 03:25 PM (#2513987)
Does anyone have info on Ashburn's non-SB baserunning? I'm toying around with an estimator for non-SB baserunning pre-1972, and he comes out like a champ, as does Dom DiMaggio. I'd be interested to see how that squares with contemporary opinion.
   55. AndrewJ Posted: November 04, 2010 at 04:35 PM (#3683819)
MLB leaders in times reached base, through Ashburn's career, 1948-1962 (figured as plate appearances * OBA)
--
Ashburn 3855
Musial.. 3771
not sre who 3rd place is, but no one else is anywhere close


Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia has the Reached Base (apparently equal to Times on Base) statistic. Their top five from '48-'62:

1 Richie Ashburn 3815
2 Stan Musial 3769
3 Eddie Yost 3417
4 Nellie Fox 3186
5 Mickey Mantle 3083

Nobody else in that timeframe made it to 3000.

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