Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

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

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Roger Bresnahan

Roger appears to have been Rogers Hornsby’s mentor for diplomacy. :-)

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 11, 2004 at 11:06 PM | 90 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

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

   1. Paul Wendt Posted: October 19, 2005 at 04:52 PM (#1692696)
The Roger Bresnahan thread is null no longer.

In 1963 Ballot Discussion, KJOK noted the similarity of Bresnahan and the newly-eligible Campanella in length and value of their major league careers, with Roger significantly better on offense and Roy on defense.

--
Someone asked
What is Bresnahan's story for the years between his brief ML stint as a pitcher in 1897 and his return to the majors as one half of John McGraw's catching squad in 1901?

This isn't something I would have noted on paper. I think I recall Sporting Life references to Bresnahan as a pitcher.

David Fleitz features Bresnahan as an obscure Hall of Famer!
>>
Ghosts in the Gallery at Cooperstown: 16 Little-Known Members of the Hall of Fame is the latest book by SABR member David Fleitz, and is published by McFarland. It contains detailed biographies of Roger Bresnahan and 15 other obscure Hall of Famers.
<<

The Deadball NL biography is unusually skimpy and the SABR BioProject version is unrevised in this respect.
[1896], after graduating from Toledo's Central High School, Roger became a full-fledged professional with Lima of the Ohio State League, playing mostly catcher but also occasionally pitching.
more: SABR BioProject: Bresnahan
   2. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2005 at 04:58 PM (#1692710)
Thanks, Paul!
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: October 19, 2005 at 05:13 PM (#1692745)
So lemme get this straight. A Rajah thread was opened December 11, 2004 and the first post was today? That should tell you everything you need to know about his chances of election!
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2005 at 05:32 PM (#1692786)
So lemme get this straight. A Rajah thread was opened December 11, 2004 and the first post was today? That should tell you everything you need to know about his chances of election!

I created this page long after his initial debut, so the smoke had already settled by then. His case was made in the discussion threads from the early '20's. Hopefully, Paul and Kevin can start a rejuvernation for him.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 19, 2005 at 07:22 PM (#1692952)
I've gone completely 180 degrees on Roger. Once I began taking a more honest-with-myself approach to positional balance, I came to the conclusion that if you look at him as a catcher he's more impressive versus other catchers than, Medwick, Cravath, Burns, and Averill are compared to their respective positions.

In my system, the Duke is the 17th best catcher ever. In CF Averill is 19th; in RF, Cravath is 20th; in LF Medwick is the 22nd best. But that's not really enough for me to move him over the outfielders, else I'd have Williamson and Latham on my ballot too.

The topper for me is that in my view, he's got more distance than the outfielders between himself and the in/out line. Here's what I mean: I draw an abstract in/out line after the first 25 at each position. The line is actually an average of the six guys surrounding the location of this line line, so for me, players ranked number 23-25 and 26-28. The mythical player that results from this averaging is kind of like replacement level, and I measure players above it against it so that I can how far from being borderline they are.

Bresnahan comes out ahead by this kind of reckoning.

N/ed Williamson, on the other hand, comes out looking so-so. Still a good candidate, the 17th best 3B, but not quite as good looking compared to the mythical replacement HOMer.

(Note: I'm not making much differentiation about Bres's non-C seasons.)
   6. jimd Posted: October 19, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1692985)
Just curious. Where is your pitching in/out line?
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 19, 2005 at 08:16 PM (#1693060)
I've split pitching into SP and RP. For SP, my in/out line is currently at the 88th best starter, while the RP line is after the tenth best.

I figure it this way: ~230 electees by the end; 30-33% pitchers, which is about 75. RPs should be about 5-7 electees, leaving about 70 SPs. Following the example I've set in looking at the top 25 at each position, figuring that we're electing roughly the top 20 at each position, applying 25/20 to 70 SPs gives me 88. I'm a little extra generous with the relievers because I don't really know enough about them yet to make any kind of firm decision. So 10 instead of 8 or 9.
   8. PhillyBooster Posted: October 19, 2005 at 09:09 PM (#1693164)
Cherry-picking Best 6 Consecutive Years:

Bresnahan: 45.8 WARP-1 (1903-1908)

Compared to other NL starting catchers in 1906 (his peak year):

Johnny Kling: 41.0 (1903-1908)
George Gibson: 30.9 (1909-1914)
Red Dooin: 26.2 (1904-1909)
Admiral Schlei: 24.4 (1904-1909)
Mike Grady: 19.4 (1896-1901)
Bill Bergen: 8.4 (1904-1909)
Tom Needham: 6.7 (1904-1909)

Avg: 22.4

Now, let's cherry pick to put another player in his best light:

Top 6 (non-consecutive)

Joe Medwick: 55.1 (includes 1944)

Compared to other NL left fielders in 1937:

Augie Galan: 51.4
Jo-Jo Moore: 44.1
Chick Hafey: 42.1
Roy Johnson: 33.5
Debs Garms: 22.3
Morrie Arnovich: 20.0
Woodie Jensen: 11.4

Avg: 32.1

Having a Bresnahanian catcher who, at peak, was worth twice as much (23.4 WARP) as the average competitor, is worth more than a Medwickian leftfielder who, at his (un-reduced) peak, was worth 72% more (23 WARP) than an average leftfielder.
   9. jimd Posted: October 19, 2005 at 09:40 PM (#1693245)
Cherry-picking Best 6 Consecutive Years:

Bresnahan: ... (1903-1908)


The problem with this analysis is that Bresnahan was not a catcher in 1903 or 1904. He was used as a catcher in 1901 when he first came up, though apparently not satisfactorily (though he showed promise as a hitter). McGraw tried him out at various positions, mostly 3B the first half of 1902, RF the second half, and settled into CF for 1903 and 1904. He resumed catching in 1905.

To make this analysis useful, you have to remove the catching values for 1903-1904 and substitute the starting CF values for those teams for those years.
   10. KJOK Posted: October 19, 2005 at 09:45 PM (#1693253)
I've also seen the argument against him that he wasn't a "full time" catcher.

Bresnahan played 974 games at C, 221 in CF.

When he retired, he was solidly in the top 12 in CAREER games played at catcher. The man deserves to be considered as a catcher....
   11. OCF Posted: October 19, 2005 at 10:34 PM (#1693324)
Bresnahan played 974 games at C, 221 in CF.

(and another 160 or so games at LF, RF, 1B, 2B, 3B)

When he retired, he was solidly in the top 12 in CAREER games played at catcher.

Yes, but.

Bresnahan retired before George Gibson. Gibson would retire with 1194 games caught. Gibson had a lifetime OPS+ of 81, so we aren't all that interested in him as a candidate - I bring him up to illustrate how many games it was possible for a player to catch.

Johnny Kling had 1168 games at catcher. Over his whole career, Kling wasn't as good on offense as Bresnahan, but you have to remember that our impression of Bresnahan as an offensive player is strongly influenced by his 1903 and 1904 seasons. Yes, Bresnahan deserves to be called a catcher - but in his two best offensive years, he wasn't a catcher.

Some of this is going to come up again when Joe Torre is a candidate.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2005 at 10:37 PM (#1693328)
I understand differentiating Bresnahan's C years from his CF seasons, but he was the best ML center fielder for 1903. He also picked up his offense up a notch, so it's hard to argue that season as somehow inferior to his catching seasons.

I don't have him as the best CF in the ML or in the NL in 1904, but that was still another excellent season (though he didn't play a lot for an outfielder, I admit).
   13. KJOK Posted: October 19, 2005 at 10:44 PM (#1693340)
Some of this is going to come up again when Joe Torre is a candidate.

Yes, and I'll probably be a strong booster of Torre's also.

As a interesting sidelight, if it weren't for the AL expansion in 1901, Bresnahan's major league fulltime career might have started as late as Campanella's.

At the end of the 1900 season, the Cubs had the following players AHEAD of Bresnahan at C in the organation:

Tim Donahue - Their starting catcher 1898-1900
Frank Chance - RF/C in 1901, future HOF 1B
Charlie Dexter - Became starter in 1901
Johnny Kling - Starter 1902 - 1908
Art Nichols - Went to Cardinals as starter in 1901
   14. OCF Posted: October 19, 2005 at 10:57 PM (#1693378)
The problem is that it takes a "catcher bonus" to get any catcher - well, anyone but Josh Gibson - high on the ballot. Yes, Bresnahan was a good outfielder, for a while. His years as an outfielder don't go towards earning him that "catcher bonus." In my (peak-friendly) offensive system, who at other positions does he resemble? I have him a little behind Mike Donlin - Donlin's best year will trump Bresnahan's 1903, after all. Compared to first basemen? Somewhere between Konetchy and Judge, with less career than either. At 3B? Less peak and more career than Al Rosen, but the overall effect is about the same. And you're saying - it's not fair to compare Bresnahan to Donlin, Konetchy, Judge, or Rosen. Not fair because Bresnahan was a catcher and catchers are special. That's the point, isn't it?

Put the question another way: why Bresnahan and not Wally Schang, who had 500 more games caught?
   15. jimd Posted: October 19, 2005 at 11:37 PM (#1693459)
but he was the best ML center fielder for 1903

WARP disagrees with that, putting Barrett and Thomas ahead of him by rate, and then adding Seymour, Beaumont, and Fielder Jones on quantity, given that Roger played little more than half the season. He's the best hitter, but he's subpar defensively. Factoring in his replacement (37-year-old replacement-level Van Haltren), the Giants had the 8th best CF (4th in the NL).

WARP rates his 1904 as the best CF by rate. (His defense improved markedly.) However, it's only half a season. By quantity, he's 8th, behind Thomas, Smoot, Stahl, F.Jones, Seymour, Heidrick, Barrett, and Beaumont. Factoring in his replacement (Moose McCormick), the Giants had the 3rd best CF in 1904, behind the Phillies and Cardinals. They still won the pennant easily.
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 19, 2005 at 11:52 PM (#1693480)
Factoring in his replacement (37-year-old replacement-level Van Haltren), the Giants had the 8th best CF (4th in the NL).

I have a hard time swallowing that, Jim. Of course, Bresnahan had zero impact on how Van Haltren played, too.
   17. KJOK Posted: October 20, 2005 at 05:38 AM (#1693971)
Put the question another way: why Bresnahan and not Wally Schang, who had 500 more games caught?

Because Bresnahan provided more "value" to his team, even in fewer games caught.
   18. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 20, 2005 at 11:13 AM (#1694114)
Right on OCF - I like Schang much better than Bresnahan, precisely because Wally gets more of a catcher bump.

Bresnahan was a heckuva player - when he was on the field. But he only had 400 PA 7 times and 2 of those years were as a CF - and he still missed 80 games. He just didn't play enough.

Schang's entire career was as a catcher (except a decent part of 1915-16, but he was still a 30% catcher those years) and he played longer. He wasn't quite the hitter Bresnahan was, but he has to easily trump him on career value.
   19. sunnyday2 Posted: October 20, 2005 at 12:33 PM (#1694157)
A good comp for Bresnahan is Frank Chance. Great rates that don't necessarily add up to great total value.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 20, 2005 at 02:14 PM (#1694238)
Bresnahan was more dominating of a player than Schang, but Schang is on my ballot, too.

A good comp for Bresnahan is Frank Chance. Great rates that don't necessarily add up to great total value.

Bresnahan played a lot more compared to others at his principal position than Chance ever did at his, so I question that comp, Marc.
   21. Paul Wendt Posted: October 20, 2005 at 02:19 PM (#1694249)
I think 'Bresnahan' does not appear in the minor league reserve lists, which suggests that he was for 1897 to 1901 under multi-year contract, a free agent (probable for 1897), or controlled by a National League club (presumable for 1899 and following KJOK 1901).

--
I created this page long after his initial debut, so the smoke had already settled by then. His case was made in the discussion threads from the early '20's. Hopefully, Paul and Kevin can start a rejuvenation for him.

I hate to see continuing discussion of Bresnahan in 1963 Ballot, so having something to contribute . . .
There is no way to search thread titles, I think. ("Advanced" search at top right is dead for me.) So I searched the HOM archives, page by page. Thanks to Secy Murphy's delay, 'Roger Bresnahan' is on the second page, each one covering about six months.
   22. Paul Wendt Posted: October 20, 2005 at 02:24 PM (#1694255)
Cherry-picking Best 6 Consecutive Years:

Having a Bresnahanian catcher who, at peak, was worth twice as much (23.4 WARP) as the average competitor, is worth more than a Medwickian leftfielder who, at his (un-reduced) peak, was worth 72% more (23 WARP) than an average leftfielder.


WARP is denominated in wins. So the raw differences (both ~23 WARP) rather than the percentage differences (Duke ~100% and Ducky 72%) show the relative values. Right?
   23. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 20, 2005 at 02:25 PM (#1694257)
Paul, almost all of the Important Links were archived when Jim made the changeover the past week. I had been going through the laborious chore of opening up again, but Jim said for everybody to use the HoM Archives that you accessed on your own, instead. Eventually, that section will be the main one to visit and will be grouped in the same fashion as the Important Links are now.
   24. sunnyday2 Posted: October 20, 2005 at 05:24 PM (#1694709)
Well, I dunno. Chance was a C and Bresnahan was a CF, too. But I didn't mean a comp in terms of value but in terms of their being lower on the total value ranking than on the rate ranking, if you see what I mean.
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 20, 2005 at 05:38 PM (#1694757)
But I didn't mean a comp in terms of value but in terms of their being lower on the total value ranking than on the rate ranking, if you see what I mean.

I understand where you're going now, Marc.
   26. jimd Posted: October 21, 2005 at 07:29 PM (#1696954)
Factoring in his replacement (37-year-old replacement-level Van Haltren), the Giants had the 8th best CF (4th in the NL).

I have a hard time swallowing that, Jim.

(Note: the reason I bothered with this in such detail is that when doing these WARP/WS comparisons, I usually learn something new about each system. I'm not always happy with what I learn. See below on Thomas' fielding.)

1903
Team Totl BRAR/FRAR - Plyr WS BWS FWS OPS+
PHI-N --- 104 56/48 --- 56/44 23 20.8 2.5 137 Thomas
CIN-N --- 088 48/40 --- 46/38 23 18.2 5.4 134 Seymour
PIT-N --- 087 54/33 --- 55/33 28 22.9 5.4 134 Beaumont
NY--N --- 071 43/28 --- 43/29 24 19.9 4.1 120 Bresnahan/VanHaltren (WS, OPS+ estimated)

DET-A - 103 59/44 - 59/43 26 22.1 4.3 143 Barrett
CHI-A - 076 36/40 - 36/39 20 15.4 4.7 111 F.Jones
STL-A - 067 30/37 - --/-- -- ---- --- --- Heidrick/Hemphill
PHI-A - 066 36/30 - 35/30 19 14.4 4.3 106 Pickering

This table shows the CF allotments for WARP-1 (an earlier version), and then the same for WS, with the Giants estimated. The WS estimate is derived taking 90% of VanHaltren plus 70% of Bresnahan (79G in CF, 113G total). (Yes, Roger had a 162 OPS+ but George had a 72 OPS+ and it's almost a 50-50 mix.)

WS places the tandem 3rd, behind Pittsburgh and Detroit (Beaumont and Barrett).

First the AL. The Browns and A's rated ahead of the Giants only after application of the NL discount. I know you reject that John, so I won't bother to delve into that further. The White Sox WARP/WS comparison perplexes me. How can the BRAR be so close, and the BWS so far apart? (Is this a park factor issue?)

Cin and Phi are both close to NY (less than a full WS). Both teams have Pythagorean underperformance issues, Cincy by 5 games, Philly by 8. This means less Win Shares to spread around.

Comparing Cin vs NY, both WARP (BRAR, EQA) and OPS+ rate Cincy's team offense as better than NY's (108-98 OPS+), but they receive the same number of Batting Win Shares. This translates into B/VH getting 1.7 extra WS for a collective offensive performance clearly inferior to Cy Seymour's.

I don't know what Win Shares has against Roy Thomas' fielding.
GmP -PO -A -E Fpct -RF BPdef FWS
130 318 19 13 .963 2.59 105 2.5 (only!) Thomas
135 318 14 36 .902 2.46 105 5.4 Seymour
141 258 15 15 .948 1.94 099 5.4 Beaumont
142 272 16 12 .960 2.03 097 4.1 Bresnahan/VanHaltren

Can one of the Win Shares advocates here explain to me (in some detail, please) what happened to cause Thomas to only get 2.5 Win Shares for his fielding. On the surface Thomas certainly looks the best here.

In summary, of the 7 teams rated better by WARP in CF in 1903, two were better than NY in both systems; in two cases, maybe three, NY rated better in WS due to unusual quirks in the Win Shares system; and two, maybe three cases, rated better than NY due to the NL discount.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 22, 2005 at 02:58 PM (#1697793)
I don't know what Win Shares has against Roy Thomas' fielding.
GmP -PO -A -E Fpct -RF BPdef FWS
130 318 19 13 .963 2.59 105 2.5 (only!) Thomas
135 318 14 36 .902 2.46 105 5.4 Seymour
141 258 15 15 .948 1.94 099 5.4 Beaumont
142 272 16 12 .960 2.03 097 4.1 Bresnahan/VanHaltren

Can one of the Win Shares advocates here explain to me (in some detail, please) what happened to cause Thomas to only get 2.5 Win Shares for his fielding. On the surface Thomas certainly looks the best here.


I'm guessing that the Phillies had a flyball staff, so WS adjusted for that.

Thomas does get a career rating of A-, so WS does love him.
   28. KJOK Posted: October 22, 2005 at 11:47 PM (#1698256)
Thomas does get a career rating of A-, so WS does love him.

But you must remember, A- is as an outfielder, NOT as a CF. Thomas getgs 3.5 wins shares/1000 innings, which is about average for a CF.

I believe the only CF who has a bigger difference between their fielding win shares ranking and their WARP ranking is Dwayne Murphy.

The person with the largest difference going the other way (high in win shares, low in WARP) seems to be Earl Averill.
   29. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:16 PM (#1699108)
But you must remember, A- is as an outfielder, NOT as a CF. Thomas getgs 3.5 wins shares/1000 innings, which is about average for a CF.

Which is kind of silly, when you think about it.

If I haven't mentioned this before (okay, I know I have :-), I hate lumping all outfielders together as if they were the same position. No, it's not as bad as if all infielders were lumped together, but it is still bad.
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: October 23, 2005 at 05:27 PM (#1699340)
JTM
Can one of the Win Shares advocates here explain to me (in some detail, please) what happened to cause Thomas to only get 2.5 Win Shares for his fielding. On the surface Thomas certainly looks the best here.

I'm guessing that the Phillies had a flyball staff, so WS adjusted for that.


Some high putout rates for Jimmy Slagle and Ed Delahanty recently surprised me. Now consulting baseball-reference, the distribution of outfield putouts in 1901 is amazingly uniform 1901 Phillies. The "Previous" may not be amazing --note the big year-on change for Flick in right-- but Slagle in left does lead Thomas in center. 1900 Phillies

Thomas has very good putout rates 1903-1908 (btw Slagle, Delahanty, and Flick all gone in 1902).


Thomas does get a career rating of A-, so WS does love him.

KJOK:
But you must remember, A- is as an outfielder, NOT as a CF. Thomas gets 3.5 wins shares/1000 innings, which is about average for a CF.

Yes, and A- is about average.


We do not have fielding data by outfield position, except the games played compiled by Pete Palmer. Palmer uses that plus plate appearances to estimate innings by fielding position, but no one loves his basic approach to fielding wins.

This month I posted outfielding leaders in the Total Baseball "Annual Record" format, for five league-seasons covering Jimmy Barrett. Outfielding Leaders
Comments? I plan to cover more seasons this Fall.
   31. Paul Wendt Posted: October 23, 2005 at 06:06 PM (#1699461)
This note features 1901 because of my interest in that season. But Roger Bresnahan makes an appearance.

NL 1901 outfielding

The number of outfield putouts in Phi is high and the distribution is uniform. LF range factor is close to CF for six teams (give parenthetically); RF range factor is close to CF for Philadelphia only (Flick rf 2.18)
putouts (team); 
_______ range factors (team OF, regular CF)
817 Bos 2.06 2.41 Hamilton (various lf close to 2.41)
804 Bro 2.11 2.41 McCreery (Sheckard lf 2.50)
901 Phi 2.30 2.26 Thomas (Slagle lf 2.50 48 games)
828 Pit 2.10 2.23 Beaumont (Clarke lf 2.32)
855 SL_ 2.17 2.31 Heidrick (Burkett lf 2.28)
810 Chi 2.09 2.47 Green
695 NY_ 1.84 2.12 Van Haltren
787 Cin 2.00 2.00 Dobbs (Harley lf 1.99)

NL 1903 outfielding

The number of in-game substitutions is no longer negligible --for New York, 6 at LF and 8 at CF. But that is a minor point relative to the differences across the four team-seasons {1901,1903} x {NY,Phi}.
putouts (team); 
_______ range factors (team OF, regular CF)
764 NY_ 1.94 1.95 Bresnahan (Mertes lf 2.11)
806 Phi 2.17 2.59 Thomas
   32. Paul Wendt Posted: October 23, 2005 at 06:29 PM (#1699504)
Well, my alphabetization by team was misguided and incomplete. Here is the same table ordered by CF range factor.

NL 1901 outfielding
putouts (team); 
_______ range factors (team OF, CF ; LF if close to CF)

810 Chi 2.09 2.47 Green
817 Bos 2.06 2.41 Hamilton ; (various lf close to 2.41)
804 Bro 2.11 2.41 McCreery ; (Sheckard lf 2.50)
855 SL_ 2.17 2.31 Heidrick ; (Burkett lf 2.28)
901 Phi 2.30 2.26 Thomas   ; (Slagle lf 2.50 in 48 games)
828 Pit 2.10 2.23 Beaumont ; (Clarke lf 2.32)
695 NY_ 1.84 2.12 Van Haltren
787 Cin 2.00 2.00 Dobbs    ; (Harley lf 1.99)

Philadelphia detail
 LF  CF  RF  range factor
 48   0   0  2.50  Slagle 
  0 129   0  2.26  Thomas
 82   1   1  2.24  Delahanty
  1   0 137  2.18  Flick  
 12  15   2  1.86  other

143 145 140  2.30! sum games, team range factor! 

! evidently, I don't know how team range factor is calculated at baseball-reference

who voted for extra whitespace following each /pre tag?
   33. jimd Posted: October 24, 2005 at 06:50 PM (#1701708)
I don't know what Win Shares has against Roy Thomas' fielding in 1903.
GmP -PO -A -E -Fpc -RF BPdef Team AjRF FWS
130 318 19 13 .963 2.59 105 2.10 2.40 2.5 (only!) Thomas
135 318 14 36 .902 2.46 105 1.95 2.45 5.4 Seymour
141 258 15 15 .948 1.94 099 1.85 2.04 5.4 Beaumont
142 272 16 12 .960 2.03 097 1.93 2.05 4.1 Bresnahan/VanHaltren

I'm guessing that the Phillies had a flyball staff, so WS adjusted for that.

I added two new columns. The team OF range factor (thanks to Paul Wendt for the tip to avoid B-R.com's team factor; I recalculated); the league factor was 1.944. And an adjusted RF to take into account the apparent FB/GB tendencies of the staff. Cincy and the Giants had neutral staffs so there is little adjustment for Seymour or B/VH. Pittsburgh tended towards ground-balls so Beaumont's range looks better. Philly was fly-ball, so Thomas comes down a little and now appears to have had less range than Seymour, though still much better than the other two.

This does have a small effect, but is far from the total explanation.
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 25, 2005 at 11:10 PM (#1703900)
This does have a small effect, but is far from the total explanation.

I know Win Shares also factors in the rate of strikeouts in their calculations, though this wouldn't affect Thomas here since K's weren't tabulated during Thomas' era until the very end.

James alludes to taking park effects into account when working on the defensive end of Win Shares, so that may be your answer there, Jim.

Paul:

Great data!
   35. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 26, 2005 at 11:18 AM (#1705517)
"James alludes to taking park effects into account when working on the defensive end of Win Shares, so that may be your answer there, Jim."

The only way the parks are taken into account (directly) in fielding is in determining the split between offense and defense (pitching + fielding).

"I know Win Shares also factors in the rate of strikeouts in their calculations, though this wouldn't affect Thomas here since K's weren't tabulated during Thomas' era until the very end."

K's were still tracked for pitchers back then, which is all WS needs fielding wise.
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 26, 2005 at 01:55 PM (#1705624)
K's were still tracked for pitchers back then, which is all WS needs fielding wise.

That's true, Joe. I forgot about that.
   37. jimd Posted: October 26, 2005 at 06:45 PM (#1706138)
BPF PPF APF - NKF Aj2RF FWS
097 100 099 - 103 2.33 2.5 (only!) Thomas
111 109 110 - 100 2.45 5.4 Seymour
103 099 101 - 101 2.02 5.4 Beaumont
104 102 103 - 096 2.14 4.1 B/VH

OK. The 'NKF' column measures the non-K fielding effect. Thomas plays behind a non-K pitching staff, enough to give 3% extra fielding outs; the Giants had a strikeout staff, enough to reduce fielding outs by 4%. The Aj2RF column takes this into account.

I'm not sure how to take the Park factor into account (b-r park factors aren't the right ones to use anyway, though they do give an indication of how the park plays). IIRC, Win Shares massages the run factor for fielding purposes, removing home runs and doing other stuff, too. (Shouldn't be too many HR's in 1903.) I'm not too sure what difference it makes anyway, unless certain positions benefit more than others (does a high park factor indicate more fly balls, a low park factor more ground balls, or what?). It seems moot anyway, as Thomas plays in a nearly neutral park, as does Beaumont, the main partipants in the huge 5.4/2.5 FWS discrepancy.
   38. jimd Posted: October 26, 2005 at 06:46 PM (#1706140)
Again, this does have a small effect, but is far from the total explanation.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 26, 2005 at 07:20 PM (#1706205)
I think I remember James' reasoning now, Jim: assists. His theory is that you can tell which teams were predominantly flyball or groundball staffs by the number of infield assists (excluding catchers). I don't have the time at the second to check this out, but I bet you will find that the Phillies of 1903 had a very low rate of assists in the infield, which would indicate that it had a very good flyball staff that year.

IIRC, he illustrated this in his Ashburn/Hammer essay in his Win Shares book. Whitey had these phenomenal defensive stats, while Hammer looked like was a bad fielder. However, Ashburn was never considered a historically great outfielder during his era, while Hammer was thought of as a fine fielder by his contemporaries.
   40. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: October 26, 2005 at 07:37 PM (#1706241)
To piggyback onto what John said I believe that WS show that Hamner was a decent fielder and that Ashburn was not an all-time great, but still good.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 26, 2005 at 07:57 PM (#1706274)
To piggyback onto what John said I believe that WS show that Hamner was a decent fielder and that Ashburn was not an all-time great, but still good.

..and jschmeagol with the assist! :-)

I believe Hammer is not given a rating in the book, but Ashburn received an A+.
   42. karlmagnus Posted: October 26, 2005 at 08:32 PM (#1706323)
A good flyball staff in 1903 would be different, and produce different results, from a good flyball staff in 1933 or 2003, because of the soggy baseballs, crowds overlapping the outfield and lack of HR. I think if I'm a 1903 GM I'd rather have a ground ball staff.
   43. KJOK Posted: October 26, 2005 at 08:49 PM (#1706336)
I believe Hammer is not given a rating in the book, but Ashburn received an A+.

Hamner had 67.2 defensive win shares, but because he played so many games at 2B, he didn't have enough defensive SS innings to make James' list, and it's virtually impossible to figure out how many win shares to allocate to SS vs. 2B...
   44. jimd Posted: October 26, 2005 at 10:54 PM (#1706465)
I've already removed 8% of his RF because the staff was fly-ball, and removed 3% because the staff was non-K. His RngF has been adjusted by me from 2.59 to 2.33. Maybe this other fly-ball adjustment will be more than 8%? 10%, 12% ain't gonna explain the final number.

Let's take another tack on this. An average team would win 70 games or 210 Win Shares. 109 (52%) go to defense, 35.5 (32.5%) to fielding, 10.3 (29%) to the OF'ers, 3.4 (1/3rd) to each one, 3.2 (130/140 93%) to an average OF with his playing time. Win Shares only gives him 2.5, or 80% of the credit that an average OF would get (60% of an average CF). His rate is 2.14 per 1000IP that season. Sam Thompson was 2.28 for his career. IOW, WS says "he s*cked" in 1903. And his raw stats don't look bad at all, they look very good in fact. We've got to remove 40% of his raw range to get down to about where WS rates him - WS says he benefited from a MUCH bigger fielding illusion than any Colorado batter ever did.

I don't understand. And until I do, I don't buy it.
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 27, 2005 at 01:11 AM (#1706630)
jimd,

Even as a WS guy, I agree it seems like Thomas is overly deflated just based on the info on this thread. It's kind of the inside out version of WARP's overrating outfield defense (e.g. 20%+ of Barry Bonds' RAR coming from fielding).
   46. Chris Cobb Posted: October 27, 2005 at 01:42 AM (#1706668)
It's not Bresnahan data, but anyway . . .

I believe Hammer is not given a rating in the book, but Ashburn received an A+.

Hamner is rated: his letter grade at shortstop is A.

Hamner had 67.2 defensive win shares, but because he played so many games at 2B, he didn't have enough defensive SS innings to make James' list, and it's virtually impossible to figure out how many win shares to allocate to SS vs. 2B...

Hamner does make James' SS list. He is credited with 49.0 fws at shorstop in 8016 defensive innings, for a career fws rate at shortstop of 6.11 ws/1000 def. innings.

In fact, he also has enough defensive innings to make James' 2B list. There, he is credited with 17.4 fws in 4720 defensive innings, for a career fws rate of 3.68/1000. This would be a D+, according to the letter grade system.

Hamner apparently picks up 0.8 win shares for his 31 games at third base.
   47. jimd Posted: October 27, 2005 at 01:43 AM (#1706670)
Whether WARP overrates or underrates OF fielding in general can only be determined by a careful analysis of where replacement level really is.

Win Shares ratings for Roy Thomas is a separate issue. I understand that there are many illusions present in fielding; we've tried to account for some here (FB/GB, K rates, park effects, etc.)

Take a look at Roy's fielding stats in 1903 and in 1905. The staff is still non-K, and appears to be even more extreme FB. Yes, his error rate got better, but it was excellent to begin with. Are the extra assists that important? He had a few more than the other 1903 guys to begin with, anyway.

GmP -PO -A -E -Fpc -RF BPdef FWS
130 318 19 13 .963 2.59 105 2.5 (only!) Thomas 1903
147 373 27 07 .983 2.72 103 7.6 (wow!) Thomas 1905

You might expect some similarity for similar performances here. I'm totally mystified.
   48. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 27, 2005 at 11:02 AM (#1707560)
Jim - have you looked at the Phillies' overall defense quality (pitching+fielding)? If they were giving up a ton of runs, all of the fielders are going to suffer . . . that's usually the biggest adjustment - how many dWS did the Phillies have to divy up, compared with the others?
   49. Kelly in SD Posted: October 27, 2005 at 04:46 PM (#1708005)
Win Shares in 1903:
Team Wins WS DefWS CF
Pit  91   273  45.0  (Beaumont)
NY   84   252  46.0  (Bresnahan & Van Haltren)
Cin  74   222  37.7  (Seymour)
Phi  49   147  22.8  (Thomas) 
1905: 
Phi  83   249  45.3  (Thomas)

To figure the defensive win shares available to an outfielder requires the following formula.
First, determine the amount of win shares that go to the outfield as a whole using four figures:
outfield putouts adjusted for assists and strikeouts (weighted at 40%)
Park-adjusted Defensive Efficiency Rating (weighted at 40%)
Assists + Double plays (weighted at 10%)
Outfield Error Percentage (weighted at 10%).
This figure used to determine the what portion of the team defensive win shares go to outfielders.
Next, determine how the outfield win shares are apportioned to the outfielders:
The four factors which go in to an outfielder's defensive win shares are as follows: PO, Assists (multiplied by 4), Errors (multiplied by 5), and Range Bonus Plays (multiplied by 2)(the number of plays by which an outfielder exceeds the average number of plays per game that an outfielder on his team makes - see Win Shares, p. 76. If all the outfielders together average 2.25 plays per game, an outfielder who averages more than that, gets bonus points.) The PO, assists, and Bonus Plays are added and the error total is subtracted to give a total of "claim points." Add all the claim point for all outfielders then find the ratio of individual claim points divided by total outfield claim points. Multiply the outfield total win shares by the individual's claim percentage to get an individual's win shares.

Specifically looking at Thomas' 1903. He has the highest error total and error rate among the 4 main outfielders. His total is second best to a player with 30 fewer games and his assist rate is 3rd out of four. You have an outfielder who makes the most plays, but makes a lot of errors and does not have great assist totals and plays for a crappy team that doesn't have many win shares to go around anyway. Also, the 1903 Phillies were 8 games under their pythag projection so Thomas gets hit by that as well.
Come 1905, the team has 34 more wins and 102 more win shares to divide. This time, Thomas has the most assists among the 3 regular outfielders, the most putouts and half the errors of either other regular.
Hope that helps.
   50. jimd Posted: October 27, 2005 at 06:24 PM (#1708210)
Thanks Kelly, but you need to check your stats again. Thomas in 1903 has a FPct of .963 compare to the league OF average of .942. He made 19 assists in 130 games; league average would be 18. He has no negatives there.

Now granted, he plays on a bad team. This will inflate his fielding stats to some extent. If everybody else is 10% worse than an average fielder, then 10% of the other plays will not be made (they become hits), and he gets a fair share of the extra outs that still have to be made. These have to be adjusted for.

But to say that this cuts his fielding value by 2/3rds is ludicrous. It's like taking two similar batting lines and saying that one 200 OPS+ season occurred for a championship team, it's worth 30 BWS; this other 190 OPS+ season occurred for a last place team, it's only worth 12 BWS.

Something's not right.
   51. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 27, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1708274)
I don't know if this will add anything to the discussion, but, here's the Phils' RA for the seasons in question. Rank in the league is in parens.
 RA
1902 649 (7th)
1903 738 (7th)
1904 784 (8th)

Also, here's the teams' ERA, RA/G, and RS/G

     ERA  RA/G  RS/G
1902 3.50  4.70  3.51
1903 3.96  5.31  4.44
1904 3.39  5.06  3.68
   52. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 27, 2005 at 07:47 PM (#1708387)
Does anyone know what Thomas's fielding rep was during the time that he actually played? Paul?
   53. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 28, 2005 at 09:06 AM (#1709070)
I don't think it's such a terrible thing Jim.

The team was awful defensively, and CF is a decent part of defense. WS may be exagerrating the effect, but I think there's definitely something to it.

League average assists for a terrible team means he's below average. I'm assuming the Phillies had a ton of runners on base, if he had a 'good' arm, he'd be well above the league average in assists.
   54. Kelly in SD Posted: October 28, 2005 at 09:14 AM (#1709076)
I hope this all makes sense. It's late and defensive win shares are complicated. I am not sure I used the correct park run factors/home run park factors.

The distribution of claim points for Phillie outfielders in 1903 and 1905:

Distribution formula for the outfield win shares among individual outfielders on a particular team. Start with the claim points formula for outfielders: PO + 4A - 5E + 2RBP(range bonus plays).
1903 Outfielders for Phillies:
Player  Gm  PO  A  E  Rng
Thomas  130 318 19 13 2.59
Barry   107 211 14  7 2.10
Keister 100 136 22 10 1.58
Titus    72 126 13  7 1.93
Team    139 806 70 38 2.10

The claim points for each:
Thomas:   318+76-65+128=457
Barry:    211+56-35+0  =232
Keister:  136+88-50+0  =174
Titus:    126+52-35+0  =143
A few other guys who played the outfield and they had 17 total claim points 


The outfielders share of the Phillies' 22.8 defensive win shares is figured by going through 4 steps:
1. 40% figure - Outfield Putouts
20+(A-B)*100 where
A = Outfield PO divided by (Team PO-K-A)
B = League Avg of same.
A = 806/(3618-381-1762) = 806/1475 = .54644
B = 6067/(29500-3767-14647) = 6067/11086 = .54726
OR
20+((.54644-.54726)*100) = 19.918 (out of 40)
The Phillies led the league in outfield putouts. But this is a result of their last place finish in pitcher strikeouts.

2. 40% figure - Park Adjusted DER
Need to compute the DER points.
First, James computes short-form DER using (BFP-H-BB-K-HBP) divided by (BFP-HR-BB-K-HBP).
For the Phillies, this is (5206-1347-425-381-62)/(5206-21-425-381-62) = 2991/4317 = .6928.
This needs to be park adjusted.
Subtract the DER from 1: .3072
Divide by the Park-S adjustment: To determine the Park-S Adjustment we need the Park Home Run Adjustment, the Park Run Adjustment, the league total of runs and then home runs.
First, figure the percentage of league runs that are home runs: league runs in 1903 NL - 5349 and home runs - 151. Home runs were .0282 of league runs.
Second, multiply this figure by 1.5: .0282 times 1.5 is .0423 or 4.23% of NL runs were scored on home runs.
Third, subtract this from 1.000 to determine runs NOT scored on homers or 95.77%.
Fourth, multiply the percentage of runs on homers by the the park home runs adjustment or .0423 times 1.035 or .0438.
Fifth, subtract this amount from the park run adjustment. .99 minus .0438 is .9462.
Sixth, divide that by the league percentage of runs scored without home runs. This is .9462/.9577 or .988.
Seventh, square root this or .994. This is the Park-S Adjustment.
Divide .3072 by .994 = .3091.
Subtract this from 1.000 = .6909.
The Park Adjusted DER is .6909.

Now, we need to convert this DER to claim points. The formula is 100 + (team park-adj DER-Lg DER)(2500). OR 100 + 2500(.6909-.7049) = 65.

These DER points (65) are put into the formula [(DER points*.29)-9] or 9.85 out of 40 points.

3. 10 point scale - outfield arms.
Formula: 5+[(A-B)/5]
A = Outfield A + DP
B = Lg total of same times Team/Lg PO Percentage
A = 70 + 9 = 79
B = 578(.1258) = 72.7
5 + [(79-72.7)/5} = 6.26 points out of 10

4. 10 point scale - outfield error percentage
Formula: 10 - 5(A/B)
A: Outfield error percentage
B: League average
A: 38/(806+70+38)=.0416
B: 405/(6067+466+405)=.0584
Formula: = 6.44 points out of 10.

Add the 4 figures up:
19.92 + 9.85 + 6.26 + 6.44 = 42.47 claim points or claim percentage of .4247. This is below average. We subtract .2 from that to get .2247. Multiply this by the position's "intrinsic weight" of 58 points = 13.03 points. The other fielding positions have their points also. These are added up and compared to the win shares allocated to defense.

Using some algebra, from the 1023 claim points for outfielders, Thomas' 457 claim points, and his 2.5 DWS, we can determine there were 5.59 defensive win shares allocated to the outfield out of the team total of 22.8. Win shares sees this as a poor defensive team and a poor defensive outfield. Thomas is a good player. He gets almost 45% of the win shares credited to the outfield. There just are not many to go around.

By 1905, a number of things have happened:

The schedule is 14 games longer.
The Phillies win 34 games more than 1903.
Thomas plays 17 more games in the outfield.
The pitchers strike out a few more and are 6th in the league.
The home run park factor has gone from over 100 to under 100.
The outfield defense has improved so they get more win shares to share among themselves. 35.9% of the defensive win shares in 1905 vs. 24.6% in 1903.
   55. Kelly in SD Posted: October 28, 2005 at 09:15 AM (#1709077)
How did that bar end up in there?
   56. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 28, 2005 at 02:00 PM (#1709238)
How did that bar end up in there?

It shows up on IE, Kelly. Mark Donelson and I have brought it to to Jim's attention, but I don't know when he'll get around to it.

Thanks for your work, BTW!
   57. Paul Wendt Posted: October 28, 2005 at 03:49 PM (#1709398)
John (Don't Call Me Grandma!) Murphy Membership Posted: October 27, 2005 at 03:47 PM (#1708387)
Does anyone know what Thomas's fielding rep was during the time that he actually played? Paul?
<<

very good, I think.
Among centerfielders when he arrived in the majors, not as good as old Griffin or Lange or young Heidrick, I think.

My reading of AL coverage is much heavier than NL. I am not aware of glowing praise for Thomas as for Barrett, Heidrick, and Jones (all in the AL by 1902 but including earlier praise for Heidrick), but my reading is biased.
   58. jimd Posted: October 28, 2005 at 07:01 PM (#1709656)
Fantastic stuff Kelly.

Add the 4 figures up:
19.92 + 9.85 + 6.26 + 6.44 = 42.47 claim points


Here's one source of the discount. WS says:
OF PO: 19.92 out of 40: these guys collectively have average range.
OF A: 6.26 out of 10: these guys collectively have good arms.
OF E: 6.44 out of 10: these guys collectively have good hands.
DER: 9.85 out of 40: there are a LOT of hits given up.

I checked the other positions. None of them are directly penalized for a bad team DER. (They are penalized indirectly because it also affects the total number of FWS available.) IOW, it is the OF's job to prevent hits. To quote James:

"We are now measuring the relative contribution of outfielders to the success of the defense, and we are using the overall success of the defense to measure the value of the outfielders. We are perilously near, then, to circular definition -- that is concluding that the defensive outfield on a good team is always good because we all know that you can't win without a good defensive outfield." -- Win Shares p.65

And as a corollary, that the defensive outfield on a bad team is always bad because we all know that you can't lose without a bad defensive outfield.

How fair is this? There is some truth to this, particularly in the modern game. What percentage of hits are infield hits: hard-shots through the gaps, seeing-eye singles, IF stops without a play? The preponderance of hits go to the OF on the fly. So I can see that this applies in most cases.

Now, how about during the deadball era? Does this apply equally well? Is it just as fair? With all the bunting going on, the choking up for bat control to hit that dirty, soft, soggy baseball where people ain't? (I think people can guess my answer to that.)
   59. jimd Posted: October 28, 2005 at 07:47 PM (#1709740)
DER: 9.85 out of 40: there are a LOT of hits given up.

If this was changed to 20 - IOW, if the OF was not collectively penalized for all of the hits - then (if I've done the math correctly) Roy Thomas would get 3.3 FWS. He would now be judged an average OF (and somewhat below average CF).
   60. jimd Posted: November 02, 2005 at 01:00 AM (#1715229)
the defensive outfield on a bad team is always bad because we all know that you can't lose without a bad defensive outfield

Unfortunately, this appears to be what is implemented in Win Shares.

In the table below, I calculate a quantity I call FRat. It's the number of FWS earned divided by the expected number of FWS (avg player on an avg team, taking playing time into account). It should be comparable to ERA+ or OPS+, if Fielding WS are an accurate accounting of fielding prowess. (100 is average, 200 is twice as productive, etc.)

I also calculate a similar quantity, Team FRat. It's the number of Team FWS earned divided by the expected number of FWS for a .500 team which was average in all respects (offense, pitching, fielding).

Col 1: Year
Col 2: Fielding Win Shares for Roy Thomas (RT)
Col 3: Fielding Games for Roy Thomas
Col 4: Expected FWS for Avg OF with RT's playing time
Col 5: FRat: (Col 2) / (Col 4)
Col 6: Team FRat: (Team FWS) / (Expected Team FWS)

Year   FWS  GP  XFWS  FRat TmFRat
------------------------------
1899:  4.8  149  3.6  134  106 (14G @ 1B)
1900:  2.4  139  3.4   70   94
1901:  5.3  129  3.2  166  127
1902:  3.4  138  3.4  100   87
1903:  2.5  130  3.1   80   66
1904:  2.2  139  3.4   65   46
1905:  7.6  147  3.6  213  116
1906:  4.9  142  3.5  140   85

1907:  5.5  121  3.0  186  122
1908:  4.1  107  2.6  155  115 (6G Phi, 101G Pit)
1909:  1.4   76  1.9   74   70 (BosN LF)

1910:  0.3   20  0.3   62   99 (Phi CF backup)
1911:  0.3   11  0.3  111  122 (RF backup)
------------------------------
Total 44.7 1434 35.5  126   96

</pre>

What's unfortunate is that there is a strong correlation between Thomas' FRat and his team's FRat. I took the 11 seasons he was a regular (1899-1909, throwing out the short seasons as a backup because I didn't want to attempt weighting everything) and calculated the correlation coefficient between the two columns. It was .84.

It's been awhile (30+ years) since I took my stat course, but IIRC, this means that 70% of the variation in Thomas' FRAT is explained by the team performance. (Or 70% of the team's variation is explained by Thomas' performance, though given the size of the team numbers involved, this doesn't make sense.)

IOW, Win Shares is NOT measuring the fielding performance of Roy Thomas, but (mostly) the fielding performance of his team (usually the Phillies).
   61. Paul Wendt Posted: April 21, 2007 at 12:50 AM (#2340961)
Just above is a good 18-month old discussion of fielding win shares focusing on Roy Thomas, featuring jimd as lead author. Thomas was one of Bresnahan's colleagues in CF.

--
Now for another skimpy overlap with Bresnahan, what of Chief Zimmer? Never discussed here that I recall.
Davenport likes his fielding very much (and Pete Palmer loves it, worthless, I know).
Unfortunately the bulk of his career is just before the 1893-2006 epoch DanR has covered, but he played not-so-bulky for ten years after '92.

Bill James rates him almost the same as Johnny Kling (~150 WS, ~20 WS per 162g) and ranks them both about the same as three Zimmer contemporaries, Deacon McGuire, Jack Clements and Duke Farrell. The 19c quartet played for a long time. Zimmer, McGuire, and Clements all debuted in the majors in 1884, when there was suddenly excess demand for players --for batterymen in particular, I presume, because each team needed at least two catchers and three pitchers. On Zimmer's start in pro baseball James says (NBJHBA p418) "he was a carpenter's apprentice, just kind of messing around with baseball, when the Detroit Wolverines,desperate for help during the 1884 player shortages caused by the Union Association, signed him to back up Charlie Bennett. He was 24 years old."

Zimmer gets 44% of his win shares for fielding.

(Coincidentally for me today, Palmer ranks Chief Zimmer #201 as a batter-fielder just behind Vern Stephens.)
   62. KJOK Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:02 AM (#2341204)
OK, it's about time for us to elect Roger, so I'll try to help convice some more voters:

Dr. C says:

I've gone completely 180 degrees on Roger. Once I began taking a more honest-with-myself approach to positional balance, I came to the conclusion that if you look at him as a catcher he's more impressive versus other catchers than, Medwick, Cravath, Burns, and Averill are compared to their respective positions.


This is my position for ranking Bresnahan so high on my ballot.

One argument against Bresnahan seems to be:

The problem with this analysis is that Bresnahan was not a catcher in 1903 or 1904.
and/or the argument that he wasn't a full-time catcher.

I already responded with one argument:

Bresnahan played 974 games at C, 221 in CF.

When he retired, he was solidly in the top 12 in CAREER games played at catcher. The man deserves to be considered as a catcher....


The argument I didn't use, and which really applies to ALL multi-position players, is that not being a catcher 100% shouldn't really be held for or against him because it's very possible that actually hurts, not helps, his 'metrics' since CF has a much, much higher positional hitting baseline AND he would be getting much less defensive value credited to him. So, although he theorically would have played fewer games as a 100% catcher, his runs created above position and defensive value as a catcher very well could have more than made up for the lost value due to less playing time.
   63. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:26 AM (#2341223)
I too am a supporter of Bresnahan, for the same reason that I back ConcepciĆ³n. C was an absolute wasteland in Bresnahan's era, and when he was behind the plate, his teams simply had an immense advantage over the Bill Bergens their opponents were throwing out there.
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:40 PM (#2341394)
Jack Warner of the New York Giants wasn't much of a batter either.

Zimmer whom I mentioned last night must have been well above average with career OPS+ 95.

At the turn of the century, the catcher and pitcher routinely batted eighth.

The Phillies were one exception with Ed McFarland batting fifth or fourth (after or without Lajoie); backup Klondike Douglas in the same position. (The latter was another norm of the day: a man's co- or backup at a fielding position also shares the batting position. But Douglass was another strong batter for a catcher.)

Washington was another exception with Bill Clarke in the middle of the lineup, fourth in 1901 iirc. Look at the bats on that bench! It's easy to understand why pitcher Win Mercer was the favorite utility man.

Frank Chance was a strong batter but eventually moved out from behind the plate.
   65. sunnyday2 Posted: April 21, 2007 at 04:55 PM (#2341430)
>cmead@sprintmail.com

Still is if your name is Ron Gardenhire. Check the Twins with Casilla batting 1st, Redmond 3rd when he is replacing Mauer (last night he was DH replacing not-Mauer). That way Torii Hunter is spared the indignity of batting anywhere other than 6th.
   66. sunnyday2 Posted: April 21, 2007 at 07:55 PM (#2341576)
Oops. How in the world did that happen. That email address should not be there, please don't embarrass me by actually emailing the poor fellow.
   67. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:54 PM (#2343036)
I'm starting to believe that managers didn't want to risk someone who could hit by playing them behind the plate in that era - the rate of injury was just too high. It is more than not choosing catchers for their bats, it is actively avoiding putting a decent bat behind the plate. I don't know how much credit Bresnahan should get for being in that environment.
   68. KJOK Posted: April 23, 2007 at 07:57 PM (#2343315)
It is more than not choosing catchers for their bats, it is actively avoiding putting a decent bat behind the plate. I don't know how much credit Bresnahan should get for being in that environment.


Well, I'd argue he gets 100%, full credit, since he was giving his team a definite advantage. Plus, I think teams still do this today, as it's been pretty much proven that playing Catcher reduces both playing time and batting rates, although it often happens when the player is still in the minors.
   69. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2007 at 08:13 PM (#2343325)
I'm not willing to give 110% credit for it though (best of era, fills a gap, etc) which is why he doesn't make the ballot.
   70. Paul Wendt Posted: May 22, 2007 at 07:14 PM (#2374240)
not Bresnahan but Chief Meyers
Wally Schang has zero articles and I don't see another early catcher on the board.
This is a copy of part of 1999 Election #30

David Foss, 1999 Election #26
7. Larry Doyle -- MVP deadball second baseman. Position player cornerstone of the 1911-13 Giants pennant dynasty. Hit like an OF-er.

John Tortes Chief Meyers has an equal claim. As for Doyle, an extraordinary strong batter sometimes criticized as a weak fielder at an important position (catcher). MVP? In the Chalmers vote Meyers 10-3-5 and Doyle 3-1-17. Fielding stars Buck Herzog and Art Fletcher entered the lineup only in 1912, George J. Burns only in 1913 and not yet the Geo who garners votes here.

Meyers is prominent in Jeffrey Powers-Beck's book, The American Indian Integration of Baseball.

Only with Project Muse access you can read more than the first 250 words of this article.
Powers-Beck 2001 article, '"Chief": The American Indian Integration of Baseball'

This review of the book is organized as a sketch of its contents.
Sports Literature Association review of Powers-Beck 2005 book
   71. Paul Wendt Posted: May 22, 2007 at 07:33 PM (#2374256)
Hey, he was the successor to Bresnahan, albeit only one year younger.

Meyers was a capable major league batter before he got the job.

As a 29-year old rookie, Chief Meyers played 64 games behind the plate with 26 pinch appearances, OPS+ 128.
(His so-called baseball age is misleading, 29th birthday in July.)
Losing his everyday job in 1915, he was already among the ten oldest players in the league!

Born California, another major league career delayer.

Did anyone here ever look at his amateur/minor record?
From the Transactions Database via baseball-reference,
"July 1, 1908: Purchased by the New York Giants from the St Paul (American Association) for $6,000."
   72. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 23, 2007 at 01:22 AM (#2375127)
Ask and ye shall get stats....

Meyers 1908 season:

STP: 88G 329AB 45R 96H .292AVG

Or 1918...in the IL

BUF: 65G 204AB 28R 67H 14 2B 1 3B 0HR 2SB .328AVG

I don't have any other numbers for him.
   73. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 23, 2007 at 01:35 AM (#2375193)
Incidentally, what that means is that Meyers does not appear in my source books for the PCL, AA, IL, or TxL for any seasons other than 1908 and 1918. I'm certain he must have been somewhere, I just can't tell you where.
   74. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 02:38 PM (#2480988)
Alex Rodriguez fan, "2003 Ballot Discussion" #20
Bresnahan's case to the peak voter should rest on a remarkable 4 season peak as a catcher (1905-1908). Bresnahan had OPS+'s of 124, 144, 118 and 161; and games played at catcher of: 87, 82, 95, and 139.

Here is some data on the number of catchers with high workloads (all major leagues).

Number of MLB catchers, 100+ games
1886 1 (Bushong; 140 games introduced by AA)
1890 3
1891 3
1892 3
1894 3
1895 1
1897 2
1898 5 (154 games)
1899 1 (154 games)
1901 3
1902 1
1903 2
1904 2 (154 games finally established)
1905 4
1906 3
1907 4
1908 7

<u>Number of MLB catchers, 110+ games</u>
1890 2 (the Players' National League induces a shortage of players)
1891 1
1892 2
1895 1
1897 1
1898 3 (154 games)
1901 2
1902 1
1903 1
1905 1 (154 games finally established in 1904)
1906 1
1907 1
<u>1908 7 (wow)</u>

<u>Number of MLB catchers, 120+ games</u>
1890 1
1895 1 (McGuire 132 of 132 sched.)
1898 2
1903 1 (Kling 132 of 140 sched.)
<u>1908 6</u> (Gibson 140 of 154 sched.; Bresnahan and Sullivan also top and Dooin matches 132 games;
Bresnahan decides that he should be making these decisions himself :-)
   75. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 04:08 PM (#2481011)
Here is the 1905-1908 four-year record of catcher games for the nine men who worked 110 or more games in any season. There were only two other seasons at 100 or more games, one each by Lou Criger and Bill Bergen. The five men listed above Bresnahan generally carried heavier workloads. (Gibson was a newcomer, Schreckengost an oldgoer, Sullivan the senior catcher by service time.)
---  81 109 140 Gibson
 92 118 108 137 Sullivan
107 107  94 132 Dooin
106  96  98 117 Kling
114  89  99  71 Schreckengost
 87  82  95 139 Bresnahan
 44  54 115  90 Clark
---  67 103 121 Schmidt
 30 
--- --- 128 Street 


1888-1908,
14 catcher-seasons worked at least 80% of team games scheduled including two by Kling.
28 catcher-seasons worked at least 75% of team games scheduled including Kling 3, McGuire 2, Sullivan 2.

Career records of the leading catchers
Kling, catcher games as share of team games scheduled, 1898-1908
__ __ 10 49 80 94 67 68 62 63 76
Sullivan
__ 14 47 69 50 22 69 59 76 70 89
Schreckengost
_5 41 AL 51 50 55 54 74 57 64 46
Dooin
__ __ __ __ 60 36 62 69 69 61 85

Bresnahan
__ __ _1 49 27 _7 __ 56 53 61 90



Year <u>Number of catchers who worked 60% of team games scheduled</u>
____ ____ relative to the sizes of major leagues
1888 5 -11
1889 4 -12
1890 17 -7
1891 10 -6
1892 5 -7
1893 10 -2
1894 8 -4
1895 7 -5
1896 5 -7
1897 9 -3
1898 7 -5
1899 7 -5
1900 3 -5
1901 9 -7
1902 10 -6
1903 8 -8
1904 10 -6
1905 9 -7
1906 10 -6
1907 10 -6
1908 14 -2

1890 is the Players League war.
1893 matches general economic depression.
Loosely, I suppose that the clubs would not pay for enough players during bad times.
   76. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 04:28 PM (#2481024)
closing (/pre)-tag, if necessary

blue? black? sigh
   77. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 04:38 PM (#2481026)
There is more information on catcher workloads in "Chief Meyers". Bresnahan's successor Meyers helped establish the catcher workload at George Gibson level (not to say Gibson 1908 level, but a clear increase from the aughts).
Chief Meyers (short)

In particular, quoting "Chief Meyers"
5. Brent Posted: May 22, 2007 at 06:03 PM (#2374399)
Paul - there's quite a bit of information on catcher workloads at the Catchers thread, especially post # 52 by jimd and # 83-86 by Kelly in SD.

truer words never spoken
   78. Brent Posted: August 11, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2481030)
I've long assumed that the 1905-08 surge in catcher workloads was in response to the introduction of new protective equipment, but must admit that I've never verified it. Paul, can you shed any light? Was equipment such as shin guards, face masks, etc., introduced or substantively improved during the early aughts?
   79. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 10:31 PM (#2481321)
I don't know but I may be able to shed some light.

Chuck Rosciam knows better than I do. Maybe he has posted accounts or photos that are helpful, maybe not.
Encylopedia of Baseball Catchers (Rosciam)

Probably you all know, there is a tendency to focus on acquiring one of some model (collectors and exhibitors) or on identifying the first use of some innovation (historians). Bob Schaefer of SABR and Florida has done some research on adoption and distribution, I think, using the annual baseball guides. Before 1942 the annual guides were published by sporting goods magnates. Spalding (in the 1880s, I know) devoted dozens of pages to advertisement of sporting goods, and evidently sold few advertisements by modern standards. If you have a friend who has a collection of BB Guides, even a spotty collection, that is great research material.

Advertisements for base ball goods in Spalding's Official B B Guide 1887
(one or two per page except where noted)
full uniforms
shirts
pants
shoes
shoe plates
caps and hats
bat bags
bases
belts
stockings
Spalding's Trademarked Catcher's Masks
Cheap Masks
Spalding's Trademarked Catcher's Gloves
Amateur Catcher's Gloves
supporters
umpire indicators
turnstiles
grandstand cushions
Gray's Patent Body Protector (for a catcher)
sliding pads
score books
balls (10 pages)
handbooks
Spalding's Trade Marked Bats (3 pages, including Plain Finished Bats, 3 lines)

By the way, there are six pages of presumably paid advertisements (* two share one page)
Clifton House (hotel in Chicago, for traveling base ball clubs, $2 per day)
The Chicago Tribune (daily newspaper, $10 per year; Sunday $2)
The Inter-Ocean (daily newspaper, $8 per year; Sunday $2)
The National Daily Base Ball Gazette (out of New York, daily except Monday)
*Base Ball Printing (posters, window hangers, illuminated score cards by John B. Page)
*Sportsmen's Wear (outer wear for outdoorsmen)
Wright & Ditson, Fine Lawn Tennis (specifically listing balls, $4/dozen; official rules, 10c; Lawn Tennis by James Dwight, 50c)
   80. Paul Wendt Posted: August 11, 2007 at 10:46 PM (#2481341)
[my mistake, don't blame Al or Henry] Catcher's ==> Catchers'

<u>catchers' masks</u> - one page
Spalding's Trademarked
00. Spalding's Special League Mask $3.50
0. Regulation $3.00
1. Boys $2.50
cheap
A. Amateur $1.75
B. Boy's Amateur $1.50

<u>gloves (per pair)</u> - one page
Spalding's Trademarked
000, 00, 0, 1 (model numbers) $5.00 $3.50 $2.50 $2.00
Amateur
A B C D E F (models) $2.50 $1.50 $1.00 75c 50c 25c
Apparently the left glove in each pair ranges from full to open back, the right open back perhaps fingerless

<u>supporters</u> - 1/2 page
Morton's Perfect flannel 50c
Guth's Improved chamois 1.50, muslin 50c

<u>Gray's Patent Body Protector</u> - 1/2 page
"The most useful device ever invented for the protection of catchers or umpires, and renders it impossible for the catcher to be injured while playing close to the batter." $10.00

<u>Summary: catcher protective equipment, 1887, available by mail from Spalding</u>
none from Spalding: cup, throat guard, shin guard, foot guard
primitive : glove
adequate: face mask, body protector (too expen$ive for many clubs)
   81. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 01:39 AM (#2481666)
Perusing the 1906 Spalding Guide (available at Library of Congress), the situation may not have been that different 20 years later--they were selling masks and a body protector, but I didn't see any ads for cup, throat guard, shin guard, or foot guard. (The masks and body protectors appear starting with image # 452.)
   82. Cblau Posted: August 12, 2007 at 01:39 AM (#2481668)
Was equipment such as shin guards, face masks, etc., introduced or substantively improved during the early aughts?
Yes, of course. Bresnahan introduced shin guards.
   83. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 01:44 AM (#2481680)
Do you know when he introduced them? (before or after the 1905 surge in catcher workloads?)
   84. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 02:10 AM (#2481729)
Answering my own question, I see that the article on Bresnahan in Deadball Stars of the National League includes a paragraph on his contributions to development of playing equipment. It says he showed up wearing shin guards on Opening Day 1907, which were initially met with ridicule and protest, yet were in general use by 1909. Around 1908, he also added padding to the wires of the catchers mask to help absorb the shock.

His innovations appear to have been more a response to the 1905-08 surge in catcher workloads than a cause for it.
   85. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 02:24 AM (#2481747)
The 1910 Spalding Guide (also available on the Library of Congress web site) advertises shin guards "as supplied by Roger Bresnahan." (see image # 453)
   86. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 02:28 AM (#2481753)
correction: "as supplied to Roger Bresnahan"
   87. Paul Wendt Posted: August 12, 2007 at 01:26 PM (#2481912)
Peter Morris, Game of Inches, may report early uses of some types of catcher equipment.

The Harvard club introduced a catcher's mask in the 1877, commonly recognized as the first.

Brent quoted on Bresnahan:
Around 1908, he also added padding to the wires of the catchers mask to help absorb the shock.

Are the wires padded today? That would reduce visibility, especially in olden days when padding must have been bulkier.

By the way, one important difference among the 1887 models as advertised by Spalding's is the wire gauge.
#00 (Special) extra heavy wire
#0 #1 heavy wire
#A #B lighter wire

Lest anyone imagine the 1880s catchers in a bare wire cage against the face,
No. 00--Spalding's Special League Mask, used by all the leading professional catchers, extra heavy wire, well padded with goat hair, and the padding faced with the best imported dogskin [can't buy it domestically?], which is impervious to perspiration and retains its pliability and softness....... $3.50

And about that purported Harvard College invention, the advertisement opens with this paragraph!
" The suit for infringement on Catchers' Masks brought against us by F. W. Thayer of Boston (formerly catcher of the Harvard College nine) was after two years' litigation decided against us by Judge Blodgett in the U.S. District Court, and in settlement for back damages we arranged to protect all of our customers who had purchased masks of us in the past, and we took a license from said Thayer to manufacture in future under his patent, paying him a royalty on each mask made.
" On account of this royalty we are forced to slightly advance the price on catchers' masks . . .
. . .
Beware of counterfeits. None genuine without our Trademark stamped on each Mask."

That text, abridged here, plus a thumbnail illustration, is about 60% of the page as printed.

--
James Alexander Tyng appears in Nineteenth Century Stars thanks to local researcher Bob Richardson. He was the catcher, Thayer the captain who devised the mask. Tyng was the best player, 3b-cf, evidently a first-year law student by 1877 when he moved behind the plate because only he would handle the new fast pitcher.

With Tommy Bond injured for a show-down series with Providence in 1879, Boston manager Harry Wright put (young lawyer Tyng?) in the box four straight days: 7-3, rain after three, 4-15, 6-7.
   88. Paul Wendt Posted: August 12, 2007 at 01:35 PM (#2481916)
1887 is the latest edition i own. No 1886 but i have 1885 whose advertisement for the mask is notably different.

Spalding's Trade-Marked Catcher's Mask
[ did F.W. Thayer revise Catcher's to Catchers'?]
[ same thumbnail drawing]
"The first Catcher's Mask brought out in 1875, was a clumsy affair, and it was not until we invented our open-eyed mask in 1877 that it came into general use. . . .
. . .
Beware of counterfeits. None genuine without our Trade Mark stamped on each Mask."

The three models 0, 2, 3 seem identical to 1887 models 00, A, B.
Prices $3.00 $2.00 $1.75 (1885) vs $3.50 ... ... $1.75 $1.50 (1887)
   89. Brent Posted: August 12, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2482041)
Are the wires padded today? That would reduce visibility, especially in olden days when padding must have been bulkier.

I guess I should have quoted the description from the source. From the SABR Bresnahan bio, which is available online here, "In another innovation that remains in use to this day, Roger added leather-bound rolls of padding to the circumference of his wire catcher's mask around 1908 to help absorb the shock of foul tips."
   90. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 13, 2007 at 02:25 AM (#2482978)
Also, if you read the newspapers during Gibson's establishment of the new "upper limit" for catcher durability, you see that people were completely blown away by what he accomplished...on some level, I think it was a matter of Gibson breaking a league-wide psychological block on what was possible at the catcher position (although obviously, the narrative that Gibson broke lingered on into the 20's, since Schang basically played half-seasons for his entire career as well...

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
dirk
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.8855 seconds
49 querie(s) executed