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Monday, November 22, 2004

Sam Rice

Steady, dependable outfielder for his time. Is that enough for the HoM?

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 22, 2004 at 03:48 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Cblau Posted: September 27, 2005 at 11:58 PM (#1647112)
SWW says on his 1961 ballot that Rice was the best everyday player on a very bad team. How were they so bad? The Nationals finished first 3 times during Rice's stay, and last 0 times. 13 first-division finishes in 19 years. Anyway, being the best everyday player on a bad team isn't a strong recommendation for the HOM.
   2. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 28, 2007 at 03:45 PM (#2501919)
Does anyone think the story in this article means Rice should get some extra credit?
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 28, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2502005)
Joe, which aspect of the article. I give him a little war credit, though it doesn't get him too much closer.
   4. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: August 28, 2007 at 05:11 PM (#2502008)
Very interesting story, but it'd hard for me to get extra credit out of it. I guess the argument is that, had it not been for the tragedy, he'd have made it to the big leagues sooner. Which might well be true, but there was nothing stopping him from playing baseball except his own choices. I feel heartless saying that, but it's how it is.
   5. Chris Cobb Posted: August 28, 2007 at 05:56 PM (#2502049)
My grandmother was four and a half years old in the summer of 1912, living in northwest Indiana. She told stories about the storms that day. One of the tornados passed through a field about a half mile from her family's home. She said the clouds in the sky looked like butter churning.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 28, 2007 at 06:17 PM (#2502071)
I feel heartless saying that, but it's how it is.


My sentiment exactly, Devin.

BTW, does Rice make Jake Beckley look like he had a peak?
   7. Esteban Rivera Posted: August 28, 2007 at 06:21 PM (#2502078)
He's been getting WW1 credit from me. Was he a part of the Navy before he reached the majors? I'm not too clear on that part of the article. I had heard about the tornado killing his wife and daughters but did not know it was actually the entire Rice clan that was involved. I can not even begin to imagine how Sam Rice dealt with such a tragedy.

On a lighter note, I don't know why, but Sam Rice strikes me as a proto-Ichiro. Anybody else see it?
   8. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 28, 2007 at 06:55 PM (#2502117)
I was referring to the tornado. I'd file that under 'out of his control', similar to a war or strike - wasn't really a function of his ability, as injuries are.

I'm not 100% convinced he'dve made it there sooner, but I can definitely see the argument.
   9. sunnyday2 Posted: August 28, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2502130)
Well, George Sisler didn't chose to get sinusitis either. By our definition, Joe, it sounds like illness is different than injuries. Kirby Puckett's glaucoma had nothing to do with his baseball ability.

My position has always been that if an entire cohort of players is affected--as with segregation and war--then extra credit is justified. Otherwise, stuff that affects individuals is filed under "that's baseball" or alternatively "that's life." But when a whole cohort, on the day they are born, are condemned to a mass misfortune, then that to me is what is special and deserving.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 28, 2007 at 08:16 PM (#2502217)
I'm with sunny on this one. Being born in the Black part of town in 190X is big-time different than being born in the part that gets pummeled by the funnel.
   11. BDC Posted: August 28, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2502232)
It also seems that, unlike, say, Lyman Bostock, what befell Rice did not prevent him from establishing beyond any doubt how good he was as a baseball player. Now, if you are a dedicated "career" enthusiast, you might want to imagine a Rice who could have added a few hundred hits to his resume, and so promote him to a (speculative) HOM. But it's hard to imagine history working out so that Rice could have become a markedly different and better hitter. And it looks like he never excited anyone as a peak/prime candidate for any Hall.
   12. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 29, 2007 at 01:56 PM (#2503323)
Illness falls under the 'injury' designation. That's part of the player's genetics.

A tornado wiping out your entire family and leading you to drift for a few years is just an act of God or Government that falls into the 'out of your control' category. For me anyway.

Bostock is an interesting one too.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: August 29, 2007 at 02:04 PM (#2503335)
I guess I just can't imagine making things "right" for every fallen sparrow, as they say. It's just when an entire generation gets the shaft that I then feel compelled to build a monument or two.
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 29, 2007 at 05:18 PM (#2503556)
again, agreeing with sunny. johnstown flood vicitims do not get ex-credit from me. they do get retroactive FEMA money, however.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 29, 2007 at 09:33 PM (#2503798)
I guess I just can't imagine making things "right" for every fallen sparrow, as they say. It's just when an entire generation gets the shaft that I then feel compelled to build a monument or two.


I agree, Marc. Beyond that and we start opening too many cans of worms.
   16. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 30, 2007 at 02:49 AM (#2504425)
There aren't that many cans of worms. I'd rather try to fix them one by one as we discover them . . .
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 30, 2007 at 01:46 PM (#2504547)
It's a moot point in the case of Rice anyway, Joe, since he still going to be considered not HoM worthy by the majority of us with or without extrapolating his career.
   18. Paul Wendt Posted: August 30, 2007 at 02:07 PM (#2504567)
There aren't that many cans of worms. I'd rather try to fix them one by one as we discover them . . .

JTM's reply is practical but I'm with Joe on principle.

Regarding Charley Jones he made the point essentially so: "this would not have cost him two seasons today".
   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 30, 2007 at 03:26 PM (#2504645)
Rice didn't play any minor league games between the time of the tornado and his debut with the Senators in 1915?
   20. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 30, 2007 at 04:27 PM (#2504707)
Regarding Charley Jones he made the point essentially so: "this would not have cost him two seasons today".

Seems un-analagous to me. The event in Rice's life occured as a result of non-baseball-universe activity. Jones' blacklisting is an inside-the-game thing that prevents us from comparing his career to a player who had the modern benefit of union protection.

Rice's case is more analgous in this sense to Joss or Youngs, whose careers were interrupted by non-baseball calamities that today would have been treatable. If you consider the population of the tornado-infested town as analagous to the decentralized population of those who developed Bright's disease or whatever the heck Addie had. But no one would give death credit, right???

But even this is a poor analogy since tornados aren't treatable these days. How about Hubbs or Munson? Assume for the moment that their crashes were due to instrument failure and not pilot error. Living in a possible tornado area is risky. Flying a mechanical device is risky. They assumed the risks.

My example of the Johnstown flood is more like what we're talking about. Or for that matter Katrina. Do we give any baseball player who was affected in any way by Katrina extra credit? I don't think we should. It's too local, there's too many other variables that get caught up between a storm and a career, particularly when there's three years between them.
   21. BDC Posted: August 31, 2007 at 03:00 AM (#2505736)
Rice didn't play any minor league games between the time of the tornado and his debut with the Senators in 1915?

This may be a rhetorical question, but in any case: Sam Rice played in 1914 and 1915 for Petersburg of the Virginia League, going 9-2 and 11-12 as a pitcher, hitting .310 and .301. In all he played 93 minor-league games in those two seasons, pitching in 44 of them (presumably the rest were outfield games or pinch-hitting appearances).

IOW, he was 20 when the tornado struck and 22 when he made his professional baseball debut.
   22. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2007 at 11:29 AM (#2505805)
>There aren't that many cans of worms. I'd rather try to fix them one by one as we discover them . .

Well, there are real cans of real worms that haven't been fixed, like Don Newcombe and Bobby Estalella and maybe Elston Howard. That is, guys who (like Sam Rice) present the illusion of having a "normal" ML career but who didn't. And where Rice's problems were his and his alone, Newcombe and the rest were victimized by racism and/or military service, which are both different than a tornado in moral terms, I think. I mean, a tornado is an act of God, racism and war are stupid human tricks.
   23. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2007 at 12:36 PM (#2505818)
Don Newcombe and Bobby Estalella and maybe Elston Howard.

And maybe Bobby Avila. And certainly Cepeda, Vargas, Coimbre. Maybe this is Monroe' category too.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 31, 2007 at 01:22 PM (#2505850)
This may be a rhetorical question, but in any case: Sam Rice played in 1914 and 1915 for Petersburg of the Virginia League, going 9-2 and 11-12 as a pitcher, hitting .310 and .301. In all he played 93 minor-league games in those two seasons, pitching in 44 of them (presumably the rest were outfield games or pinch-hitting appearances).

IOW, he was 20 when the tornado struck and 22 when he made his professional baseball debut.


It wasn't a rhetorical question, Bob. Thanks!

If we can convert his minor league seasons into MLEs (and if they were of major league quality), then I would be certainly willing to give him credit for them.
   25. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2007 at 02:18 PM (#2505887)
The wiki listing for Rice says he was playing MiL ball in 1912:

Rice grew up in various towns near Morocco, Indiana, on the Indiana-Illinois border, and considered Watseka, Illinois, his hometown. In 1912, Rice was playing with a low-level minor-league baseball team in Galesburg, Illinois, near the Iowa-Illinois border, when his wife, two children, mother and two younger siblings, along with a hired hand on the family farm, were all killed in a tornado that swept through the area.

So he's playing ball in 1912 in the low minors. I checked on Mike McCann's MiL page, and, indeed, the Galesburg Pavers were in the Central Association (nee Iowa State League) from 1910-1912. This was a Class D League.

In 1914 and 1915 he's apparently playing higher MiL ball and then promoted. In fact, The VA league was Class C, and Petersburg's team was apparently known as...the Goobers. That's what McCann says! The Goobers were in existence in both 1912 and 1913.

So 1913 is in doubt.

And yet, there seems little unusual about this career path in that he took three-four years to get into MLB. What's unusual to me is that despite not attending college, he appears to have started his career at age 20, a bit late by modern standards. Maybe not so much back then?

So two questions:
1) Does anyone know if he played anywhere in 1913?
2) Does anyone know if he played anywhere before 1912?

KJOK, do you have anything info that could be helpful?
   26. DL from MN Posted: August 31, 2007 at 02:21 PM (#2505894)
Maybe if you'd opened the can of worms earlier the sparrow wouldn't have died.
   27. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2007 at 03:30 PM (#2505995)
Yes, absolutely, Bobby Avila.

Monroe is a different problem though it is true that we don't have the statistical info that we would like--ditto Ben Taylor, et al. But with Monroe we know what we don't know. With Avila (and Estalella and Newcombe), if you think their ML careers were "normal" and reflects their ability and his career "normally," that would be a case of not knowing what we don't know.

But I don't think that sparrows eat worms. Thrushes eat worms. You know, like Robin Ventura.
   28. KJOK Posted: August 31, 2007 at 03:58 PM (#2506042)
Don't have anything on 1913

1912:

Team - Muscatine

League - Central Association

G - 18

AB - 62

H - 12

2B - 1

3B - 0

HR - 0

AVE - .194
   29. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2506064)
OK, assuming this is the earlist sighting of Rice, then we have a guy who doesn't hit my weight in 1912 (and may have been a pitcher), nothing for 1913 (post-tornado), then normal in 1914, 1915. IN fact, much improved in 1914-1915 after a year's layoff in a higher-classification league.

I don't think the ex-cred scenario is all that strong here.
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: August 31, 2007 at 05:05 PM (#2506133)
22. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2007 at 07:29 AM (#2505805)
>>
>There aren't that many cans of worms. I'd rather try to fix them one by one as we discover them . .

Well, there are real cans of real worms that haven't been fixed, like Don Newcombe and Bobby Estalella and maybe Elston Howard.
<<

Ah, yes, HOM-relevant cases. People who should be high in the backlog, Marc believes.

I didn't mean anything but agreement with JoeD in principle, that it makes sense to open all of the relatively small number of cans that "we discover".
There aren't that many cans of worms. I'd rather try to fix them one by one as we discover them ...
Typically we discover by accident or by the activity of one moderate advocate. That isn't systematic, can't be, doesn't bother me much, nor JoeD.
   31. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 31, 2007 at 07:08 PM (#2506373)
I've fixed all of them in my systems. I just don't think they measure up quite enough. I've got Newcombe pretty high, but just short, with liberal extra credit.
   32. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 31, 2007 at 07:10 PM (#2506375)
All of them referring to Newcombe, Howard and Estalella. I haven't looked that deeply into Avila.

I'd agree that Rice probably doesn't get much, though without the tornado, he probably arrives in the big time a year earlier.

Frank Baker is probably the most similar type of case, I'm fairly certain I remember extra credit being discussed for him for the year he took off to take care of the kids after his wife died.
   33. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2007 at 09:13 PM (#2506564)
I'd agree that Rice probably doesn't get much, though without the tornado, he probably arrives in the big time a year earlier.

Did he start 1915 with WAS? If not, a credit scenario might instead place him in WAS to start the year instead.

I haven't looked that deeply into Avila.

Joe, I'd say he's worth looking into. He was in MxL from age 20 until he went into the Int'l league. I think his thread has lots of discussion. Another discussion, possibly on his thread...possibly not...attempted to ascertain whether he would pass the color test, particularlly in light of his being a high-society type in Mexico.
   34. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2506566)
Joe, forgot to mention about Avila. When i ran his numbers a long time ago, he came out about even with the Gordons and the Doerrs. Maybe a spot below, but close. Since I recollect you supporting both, you may find his case of interest.
   35. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2007 at 10:02 PM (#2506597)
YEAR LG AGE PO AVG OBP SLG G PA AB H TB BB ops+ sfws
----------------------------------------------------------------------
1944 NL 20 2b .276 .353 .348 154 612 547 151 190 65 98 18.5
1945 NL 21 2b .263 .337 .312 114 450 404 106 126 46 81 11.1
1946 NL 22 2b .311 .392 .408 146 589 520 162 212 70 127 24.5
1947 NL 23 2b .302 .382 .403 122 491 435 131 175 56 109 19.6
1948 NL 24 2b .205 .270 .222 59 227 208 43 46 18 34 2.3
1949 AL 25 2b .300 .390 .404 140 563 497 151 201 66 109 22.6
1950 AL 26 2b .299 .387 .383 80 230 201 60 77 29 98 7.0
1951 AL 27 2b .304 .374 .410 141 602 542 165 222 60 112 24.0
1952 AL 28 2b .300 .370 .415 150 664 597 179 248 67 118 24.0
1953 AL 29 2b .286 .353 .379 141 617 559 160 212 58 98 22.0
1954 AL 30 2b .341 .404 .477 143 614 555 189 265 59 142 34.0
1955 AL 31 2b .272 .368 .400 141 619 537 146 215 82 107 20.0
1956 AL 32 2b .224 .317 .318 138 583 513 115 163 70 69 14.0
1957 AL 33 2b .268 .334 .289 129 509 463 124 134 46 73 13.0
1958 AL 34 2b .253 .349 .365 113 430 375 95 137 55 98 12.0
1959 2lg 35 2b .227 .314 .322 93 298 264 60 85 34 74 5.0
======================================================================
.282 .360 .375 2004 8097 7217 2037 2709 881 101 273.6

</pre>
If you use 162adjWS, his career total is 287.

6. Bob Dernier Metro Posted: November 03, 2005 at 09:47 AM (#1717401)
Avila was definitely on the wrong side of the color line prior to 1947, and he was caught in a bit of a logjam in the Indians organization after they signed him and a boatload of other stars of color in 1947-48.

He was a Mexican League batting champion with .346 in 1947 (age 23), and hit .333 with 125 runs scored in the Mexican League in 1960 (age 36). See his bio page at the Mexican Salón de la Fama

7. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: November 03, 2005 at 09:54 AM (#1717406)
Here are Avila's non-MLB stats (excluding his 1960 MxL season). The TMG for 1943-1945 in the MxL are estimates. Avila played in more games than are listed in the standings or among pitchers decisions.

MEXICO
YEAR LG TM AGE PO TMG G AB H TB 2B 3B HR SB BB K AVG SLG BB/H LG AVG LG SLG LG BB/H
1943 MX PUE 19 2B 88 88 301 69 83 3 4 1 8 41 31 .229 .276 .594 .273 .367 .402
1944 MX PUE 20 2B 90 90 371 124 175 17 14 2 19 53 16 .334 .472 .427 .284 .387 .464
1945 MX PUE 21 2B 92 92 354 124 170 17 10 3 25 63 20 .350 .480 .508 .291 .405 .445
1946 MX PUE 22 2B 98 93 384 138 188 27 7 3 6 38 12 .359 .490 .275 .281 .381 .422
1947 MX PUE 23 2B 119 113 428 148 198 25 11 1 18 74 20 .346 .463 .500 .278 .366 .436

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE
1948 IL BAL 24 2B 147 56 182 40 49 9 0 0 6 23 11 .220 .269 .575 .260 .401 .495

CUBAN WINTER LEAGUE
1945 cwl alm 21 2b 60 29 102 22 25 3 0 0 2 .216 .245 .263 .335
1946 cwl mar 22 2b 66 63 223 72 93 13 4 0 9 .323 .417 .250 .330
1947 pfl cub 23 2b 91 58 207 63 73 4 3 0 17 .304 .353 .266 .349
</PRE>
   36. Paul Wendt Posted: August 31, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2506608)
Eric Chalek wrote that Avila is
worth looking into. He was in MxL from age 20 until he went into the Int'l league. I think his thread has lots of discussion. Another discussion, possibly on his thread...possibly not...attempted to ascertain whether he would pass the color test, particularly in light of his being a high-society type in Mexico.

Mark Armour is best known as the founder and chair of the SABR BioProject. Some of you must know him. For a research project presented at SABR37 he identified all mlb players 1947-86, at least, whom the color line would have banned --colored players for short. That was the biggest part of the project, building the database that he studied statistically, 1947-86 only. I'm sure that he consulted likely experts regarding many particular classifications.

The SABR Latinos in Baseball Cmte might provide some judgments. The chairs can be contacted by email via the "Research" directory at sabr.org. Armour, too.
   37. sunnyday2 Posted: August 31, 2007 at 10:28 PM (#2506614)
Comps

Everybody here played 154 games so I haven't adjusted that. I've only adjusted for games lost to WWI and WWII, and of course Avila's totals are MLE adjusted.

Avila 274 CWS 34-24-24 124 21.8

Doerr 308* 27-27-25 131 22.6
Gordon 293* 31-27*-27* 134 21.1

Evers 268 28-27-27 117 24.3

Lazzeri 252 30-27-24 115 23.5
Myer 258 33-24-23 115 21.7

Doerr and Gordon were better, especially after you adjust for their missed WWII years, though you could argue that Avila was better than Doerr at his peak (at least for one year, a la Rizzuto) and you could note that Avila has a better rate than Gordon.

Evers is closer overall, but the rate is the only place where he is better.

Avila looks pretty clearly like a better player than Lazzeri or Buddy Myer, not that either is a ringing endorsement for HoM-worthiness.

Avila 274 CWS 34-24-24 124 21.8
Rizzuto 297* 35-26-25 124 22.5

Offensive WS: Avila 192 Rizzuto 172

Probably not a HoMer. Avila has never been on my ballot. But I could probably argue that he is right there among eligible 2B's today. Personally I prefer Doyle and I like Dunlap and Monroe. But there's not another 20C MLer who is clearly better. Just a bunch of guys who are close and all of whom could be argued more on philosophical than on empirical grounds.
   38. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 01, 2007 at 01:38 AM (#2507038)
I have run Avila through the new MLE routine and placing him in the AL this time, not the NL. It changes his WS a little bit:

YEAR WS  BWS/FWS OPSAVG/OBP/SLG MLEPA
---------------------------------------
1944 19 13.4/7.3  88  257/314/345  620
1945 19 14.5
/7.2  91  246/321/338  607
1946 20 14.6
/6.9  90  267/318/365  587
1947 21 16.2
/7.0  94  267/341/358  589
1948  6  2.6
/2.8  60  241/310/292  241 


Compare those rates to his MLB rates: .281/.359/.388 104 OPS+ in 5343 PA. Seems pretty reasonable to me since Avila debuted at 25 in MLB, so it makes sense that his offensive numbers would be lower than his MLB stats which are skewed toward his peak/prime years. In fact these rates look a lot like his age 33 and 34 years in 1957 and 1958 bit with better durability.

Taking those together with his MLb WS you get

1944 19
1945 19
1946 20
1947 21
1948 6
1949 23*
1950 7
1951 24
1952 24
1953 22
1954 34
1955 20
1956 14
1957 13
1958 12
1959 5
--------
tot 283
*pickup of previous MLEs

So he picks up a little bit in my new MLE routine, primarily in 1945. The primary reason why is that I did not use the CWL data in the MLEs: Avila played every MxL game but only 29 of 60 CWL games, the latter reducing his PAs in my previous MLEs but not being an issue in the current ones.

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