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

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Shortstops

Here are the SS’s. Pebbly Jack Glasscock is by far the best candidate here. George Wright may have a case on peak value once we have some NA data. Ed McKean has a case he may get in before the next generation’s big guns start hitting the ballot.



224 - 28, 26, 26 - 106 - Tom Burns - 11.0 sea. - 153 batting - 71 fielding.
3B 48%, SS 44%, 2B 7%, LF 1%.
notes: 1880-1892. 5-year peak age 23-27. Played entire career for Chicago in the NL.

172 - 43, 34, 26 - 149 - Frank Fennelly - 6.5 sea. - 124 batting - 48 fielding.
SS 97%, 2B 1%, 3B 1%.
notes: 1884-90. 5-year peak age 24-28. Played entire career in AA.

360 - 37, 33, 31 - 143 - Jack Glasscock - 15.0 sea. - 232 batting - 128 fielding.
SS 92%, 2B 7%, 3B 1%.
notes: 1879-95. 5-year peak age 22-26. Played entire career in NL, except part of 1884 (38 of 110 G) in UA.

161 - 33, 28, 27 - 131 - Bill Gleason - 6.9 sea. - 122 batting - 39 fielding.
SS 100%.
notes: 1882-89. 5-year peak age 23-27. Played entire career in AA.

265 - 31, 30, 25 - 118 - Ed McKean - 12.0 sea. - 211 batting - 54 fielding.
SS 94%, LF 3%, 2B 2%, 1B 1%.
notes: 1887-1899. 5-year peak age 23-27. Played entire career in NL, except 1887-88 in AA, 18 and 30 WS (first two years of 5-year peak).

58 - 38, 9, 9 - 58 - Mike Moynahan - 1.8 sea. - 47 batting - 11 fielding.
SS 73%, LF 21%, 2B 3%, 3B 1%, RF 1%.
notes: 1880-81, 1883-84. Entire career from age 24-28. The big year (1881) was in the NL, 1880 also in NL, 1883 in AA.

123 - 30, 25, 21 - 95 - John Peters - 8.6 sea. - 78 batting - 45 fielding.
SS 88%, 2B 11%.
notes: 1874-1884. 5-year peak age 26-30. Played 1.9 seasons in NA, rest of career in NL, except 1882-84 in AA (21, 1, 0 WS respectively).

207 - 26, 26, 23 - 113 - Jack Rowe - 9.4 sea. - 163 batting - 44 fielding.
SS 54%, C 33%, LF 6%, RF 4%, 3B 2%, CF 1%.
notes: 1879-1890. 5-year peak from age 26-30. Played entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL), 9 WS.

30 - 21, 7, 2 - 30 - Phil Tomney - 1.8 sea. - 14 batting - 16 fielding.
SS 100%.
notes: 1888-90. Entire career from age 24-26. Played entire career in AA.

212 - 28, 28, 23 - 118 - Sam Wise - 9.8 sea. - 161 batting - 51 fielding.
SS 51%, 2B 35%, 1B 5%, 3B 5%, RF 3%, LF 1%.
notes: 1881-91, 1893. 5-year peak age 25-29. Played entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL), 17 WS and 1891 (AA), 14 WS.

117 - 39, 30, 22 - 112 - George Wright - 8.9 sea. - 73 batting - 44 fielding.
SS 89%, 2B 11%.
notes: 1871-82. 5-year peak age 28-32. Played 4.3 seasons in NA, rest of career in NL. Best years were in the NA, numbers above do not reflect this, so he cannot be accurately evaluated by WS at this point.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: July 10, 2002 at 05:52 PM | 360 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.

Page 3 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 
   201. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:27 PM (#2591246)
Dizzypaco, I couldn't agree with you more. I strongly support War Credit, since we know the player was MLB-caliber based upon the seasons before and after. I support MiLB credit for blocked players who, as soon as they reached MLB, were stars, because there's no reason to believe that, say, Charlie Keller or Wade Boggs magically transformed between their last MiLB game and first MLB game. I support NgL credit for guys who played in the best league in which they were allowed to play in, and starred. But I do not believe in credit for guys who could have been signed by any team in a top-flight league, but were ignored; I think the "test" of a great league is essential to prove the ability of the player, and I think the notion that we're better able to judge a player's abilities than his contemporary talent evaluators is ludicrous.
   202. Dizzypaco Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:27 PM (#2591247)
According to the BBWAA, Brooks Robinson was a better player than Ron Santo, even though Santo was actually the greater player. Should I discount that and just go along with the former's greater reputation instead?

Ron Santo did not have a bad reputation. He was voted to the all star team almost every year. Its not clear that cotemporaries thought Robinson was better than Santo, and I can guarantee you that some people thought Santo was great while he was active.

No one thought Bus Clarkson was even potentially a great player. If you take two thirty something year old African American ball players playing in the late 40's/early 50's. One is thought to be a great player, with a chance of dominating in the majors, while the other is thought to be possibly a good one, and who might have a decent career, but no superstar. What was likely to happen is that the player who was thought of as potentially great would be given a shot, while the one was not would never be given that chance, because of the quota system and other sources of bias, even though he might have been good enough to play. The point remains - no one thought Bus Clarkson was even potentially a great player when he was active. Its not at all the same thing as Ron Santo.
   203. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:29 PM (#2591251)
Why the short trial? Because the Braves had changed managers. On June 2nd, they hired Charlie Grimm, and Grimm's first move as manager was to send down Clarkson and replace him with Johnny Logan.


Since Grimm didn't like black people and had a good player in Logan to replace him with, it's not really surprising why Clarkson went back down to the minors. Of course, if Grimm hadn't been the manager...
   204. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:32 PM (#2591263)
I think the "test" of a great league is essential to prove the ability of the player, and I think the notion that we're better able to judge a player's abilities than his contemporary talent evaluators is ludicrous.


Then why are we involved with this project? Why don't we just rubber-stamp every candidate's reputation and be done with it.
   205. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:37 PM (#2591265)
The point remains - no one thought Bus Clarkson was even potentially a great player when he was active. Its not at all the same thing as Ron Santo.


Clarkson made All-Star teams, so I'm not sure that his contemporaries didn't think he was potentionally a great player.

As for Robinson-Santo, my point was that reputations are sometimes wrong. That doesn't mean we ignore them, but it shouldn't mean that we blindly follow them, either.
   206. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:37 PM (#2591266)
Since Grimm didn't like black people feuded with Buck O'Neil.

Fixed.
   207. Dizzypaco Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:40 PM (#2591273)
Then why are we involved with this project? Why don't we just rubber-stamp every candidate's reputation and be done with it.

The more that you are able to rely on the statistical record, the less reputation matters. Whether or not contemporaries thought Ron Santo was great is irrelevent. He did play in the majors, and he did well. The next level down is probably the Negro Leagues from the 30's - as I understand it, statistics from this era are reliable enough, and the competition was good enough, that the players who clearly dominated this era statistically, year after year, should go in, even if their reputation is not that they were the best players in the league.

But for players who played in the Negro Leagues in earlier years, or who, like Clarkson, played a few years here and there in leagues mostly of questionable quality, or where the statistical record is questionable, reputation has to be an important factor - a very important factor.
   208. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:43 PM (#2591276)
Then why are we involved with this project? Why don't we just rubber-stamp every candidate's reputation and be done with it.

"Reputation" doesn't help much when comparing, say, Greg Nettles to Kirby Puckett. Both have sterling reputations in their own way; Nettles as a fabulous defensive player, Kirby as a balls-out player and great hitter. What we're doing is using the stats to compare and contrast players, and, yes, where necessary, to correct an erroneous reputation.

But generally, the reputations have been a pretty good guide for us, don't you think? Most MLB guys for whom the reputations and the stats have been way out of line, its been more of a peak-career issue than an issue of the reputation being way off. In fact, I think if you gave each player a reputation score, and correlated it with your stat of choice (WARP, Dan's WARP, WS), you'd find a really high r^2.

What you're asking with Clarkson is to assume that the reputation (not worthy of bringing up to the Majors) and the reality are further apart than almost any other player in history. I grant that there are outliers, and maybe Clarkson is, in fact, the one player for whom reputation is completely, totally in error. But the burden of proof to convince me of such an improbable event is extraordinarily high.
   209. sunnyday2 Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:00 PM (#2591293)
If anything, my biggest disappointment with the HoM is that we've followed the conventional wisdom (reputations, HoF voting, etc.) too much. So I think it's great that Clarkson is in our consideration set and, as I've said, I'm satisfied that he was the victim of racism (racial quotas) as much as Dick Lundy was. I just don't see him as being as good as Lundy and Don Newcombe and a bunch of other guys.
   210. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2591297)
Since Grimm didn't like black people feuded with Buck O'Neil.

Fixed.


Did O'Neill have a habit of using the race card?
   211. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:05 PM (#2591299)
The more that you are able to rely on the statistical record, the less reputation matters.


I agree. I don't see how that hurts Clarkson, though.
   212. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:07 PM (#2591302)
But the burden of proof to convince me of such an improbable event is extraordinarily high.


That's probably a task not suited for mere mortal men, so it makes more sense that supporters of Clarkson make their case to the other 50+ voters.
   213. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:09 PM (#2591303)
That's probably a task not suited for mere mortal men, so it makes more sense that supporters of Clarkson make their case to the other 50+ voters.

When in doubt, resort to the ad hominem. You stay classy.
   214. DL from MN Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:13 PM (#2591307)
"How is that not a damming contemporary assessment of Clarkson's ability to play at the big league level?"

It would be if you truly believe that decisions regarding black players at that time were only made on the ability to play. It is clear that they weren't.

The Negro Leagues are now a "minor" league in 1941?

Newcombe got a better shot mainly because he was younger. That does play into "value".
   215. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:18 PM (#2591317)
<i>The Negro Leagues are now a "minor" league in 1941?<i>

Just to be clear, I'm not questioning Clarkson's early career, but rather the post-1950 section, when he starred in the International & Texas leagues.
   216. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 02:23 PM (#2591328)
When in doubt, resort to the ad hominem. You stay classy


What ad hominem?!
   217. rawagman Posted: October 24, 2007 at 03:24 PM (#2591426)
The truly amazing thing about this little quibble is that 'zop, of all people, is intimating that someone else lacks "class."

Was Clarkson's level of play in his mid/late 30's HOM play? Probably not. What it was, was a very strong indication that his prime level/quality of play may very well have been of HOM standard. The choice before us is what to make of his later play. Do we believe in the implications therein, or not? I do. Moreso than I believe in the bare record of many of the MLB candidates still before us from the backlog.
   218. Tiboreau Posted: October 24, 2007 at 06:34 PM (#2591675)
John Murphy: That's probably a task not suited for mere mortal men, so it makes more sense that supporters of Clarkson make their case to the other 50+ voters.

'zop: When in doubt, resort to the ad hominem. You stay classy.

The "mere mortal men" is a general comment; it's not a snide remark directed at anyone in particular, 'zop. I've never seen John roll that way at the HoM (even in some pretty strong debates) and I'd be surprised to see him start now.
   219. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2591855)
The truly amazing thing about this little quibble is that 'zop, of all people, is intimating that someone else lacks "class."

And its truly amazingthat you would call me out for calling someone else out. It's like hypocrisy folded within hypocrisy folded within hypocrisy. Very post-modern.
   220. Dizzypaco Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2591882)
It would be if you truly believe that decisions regarding black players at that time were only made on the ability to play. It is clear that they weren't.

The Negro Leagues are now a "minor" league in 1941?


Getting back to the Clarkson debate...

How many years did Clarkson:

A. have a significant level of plate appearances
B. in a league of comparable quality to the major leagues
C. and perform at a HOM level?

It is my understanding that this number is very, very small. And I don't believe he was historically dominant in the few years this may have been true. So if you believe he met all three criteria in 1941, how many other years does this hold true? And exactly how dominant was he in the very few years in which all three criteria do hold true?

Its also clear that while the decisions to sign and play Black players in the late 40's/early 50's were not entirely based on ability and reputation, the decision of which players to sign and play were based, at least in part on these criteria. If there was a player that someone considered to be among the greatest that ever lived, I believe someone would have given that player a shot. I believe it was players that were considered the next level down, who were quality ballplayers but considered unlikely to be superstars, that were denied their opportunity. And I believe that description fits Clarkson.
   221. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2591897)
Satchel Paige was *41* and it didn't keep him out of the majors...
   222. Tiboreau Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:44 PM (#2591921)
Satchel Paige was *41* and it didn't keep him out of the majors...

Satchel Paige was Satchel Paige, inner-circle HoFer, and an entertainer whether he could bring it or not. And his employer was Bill Veeck. It's an even less appropriate comparison than Ron Santo.
   223. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:46 PM (#2591924)
Satchel Paige was *41* and it didn't keep him out of the majors...


Paige was Paige. If Satch had been dead, I would think that Veeck would have found a way to get his corpse on the roster anyway. :-)
   224. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:47 PM (#2591925)
Well, Tiboreau beat me to the punch, I see. :-)
   225. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:50 PM (#2591934)
Paige was Paige. If Satch had been dead, I would think that Veeck would have found a way to get his corpse on the roster anyway.

And if you think there was this free HOM-caliber player floating around the minors, that Veeck wouldn't have leaped at the chance to play him on the Browns?
   226. Dizzypaco Posted: October 24, 2007 at 08:58 PM (#2591948)
A little thought experiment. Over the course of baseball history, there have been several players who started out like sure HOM players, and whose careers kind of fizzled, so that they were still quality ball players into their 30's but who definitely came up short. Guys like Cesar Cedeno and Fred Lynn, to name two who come to mind.

Lets say that after their first few great years, they missed a couple of years entirely (such as due to a war), and then were restricted to playing in the high minors or similar quality leagues. How do you think they would have performed playing in these leagues?

My guess is that they would have dominated. If you are 32 years old, and can play well in the majors, there's a real good chance you can dominate a lesser league.

So if you believe that a pre-war Bus Clarkson was as good as a young Fred Lynn or Cesar Cedeno (which I don't know that I believe), why are we assuming that he would have continued to be that good into his 30's, based mostly on his ability to dominate a minor league?
   227. Chris Cobb Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:03 PM (#2591957)
So if you believe that a pre-war Bus Clarkson was as good as a young Fred Lynn or Cesar Cedeno (which I don't know that I believe), why are we assuming that he would have continued to be that good into his 30's, based mostly on his ability to dominate a minor league?

He stayed healthy, and he didn't shoot anybody, and besides, our best projections based on his minor-league stats suggest strongly that he did?
   228. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:09 PM (#2591965)
He stayed healthy, and he didn't shoot anybody, and besides, our best projections based on his minor-league stats suggest strongly that he did?

Then why didn't a big league team snap him up? Say you're going to argue the Braves would play an obviously qualified player because were racist. I don't think I buy that, since they took one look at a rookie, 20 year old Henry Aaron during spring training next season and batted him 5th on Opening Day (and stuck with him the whole year, although Aaron was no superstar in his first season). But forget that. Say you buy that the Braves didn't want to play a black player. How, then, do you explain that no one else wanted Clarkson either? Bill Veeck, who was busy selling off Bob Turley to the Yankees to make ends meet and had a 60OPS+ at SS, he wouldnt have taken a flyer on Clarkson if he thought he could succeed? Given the inherent imprecision in MLE's, why do you ignore the compelling non-statistical evidence that Clarkson wasn't a HoM-caliber player after the war?
   229. sunnyday2 Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2591975)
Well, Bill Veeck brought up Willard Brown and dumped him the first chance he got. Even Veeck had not particular interest in a black player actually succeeding as a Brownie. Willard was just a tall, black midget.
   230. Tiboreau Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:18 PM (#2591979)
And if you think there was this free HOM-caliber player floating around the minors, that Veeck wouldn't have leaped at the chance to play him on the Browns?

Was he a free player? Wasn't Clarkson property of the Browns? Besides, this ignores the poin I made earlier: that Paige was an entertainer. He would've drawn crowds whether he was his HoF self or not. Bill Veeck was also an entertainer, and would've recognized Paige's value in that regard and given him a job (also there were other reasons, more personal, for Veeck's hiring of Paige).

So if you believe that a pre-war Bus Clarkson was as good as a young Fred Lynn or Cesar Cedeno (which I don't know that I believe), why are we assuming that he would have continued to be that good into his 30's, based mostly on his ability to dominate a minor league?

I don't know how others view Negro and Minor league translations, but I don't see them as hypotheticals, as "what they would've done," but as what they did. They've been adjusted for competition level, just as the AA and WWII-era MLB should be, and, in the case of the Negro league players, adjusted for Small Sample Size (SSS) syndrome. If we assume that Gavy Cravath, that Buzz Arlett, that Bus Clarkson , that a host of Negro leaguers were held back unfairly from the majors then we, or at least I, assume that what they did in the minors, adjusted for competition and SSS syndrome, is what they would've done and that the pennants they strove for were of value as the pennants MLB players sought.
   231. sunnyday2 Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:23 PM (#2591983)
OK, next topic. This one has been covered. So we disagree.
   232. Chris Cobb Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:23 PM (#2591985)
To respond with a somewhat lower level of snark to this debate:

The contributors who think that Clarkson's failure to get a real shot at the majors is evidence against his HoM case have a right to their opinion.

I think that opinion is 100% wrong. Older black players had a lot going against them. There were quotas for black players per ML team into the early 1950s, and some teams were not breaking the color line anyway. There were a number of instances of highly talented older black players who were brought in, but who had a very tenuous hold on major-league jobs nevertheless-- see the cases of Luke Easter and Bob Boyd. The transition from the Negro Leagues to the major leagues was difficult because it called for a different style of play on top of the social challenges of it, that meant it generally took players a half season of full-time play to make the adjustment, and a full year to start really playing up to their potential -- see the cases of Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, etc. We know that a number of black stars were not given the time to make this adjustment -- see Willard Brown, the early ML career of Boyd, Clarkson, etc.

A plurality of the electorate has been convinced by these sorts of arguments, since they chose to elect both Willard Brown and Quincy Trouppe, both of whom did not succeed in brief major-league stints late in their career and who excelled in minor-league play in the 1950s. Trouppe even lacked, as does Clarkson, a sterling reputation, partly because he, like Clarkson, played outside of the U.S. for much of his prime. So I am confident that the electorate, in the aggregate, has better judgment on this issue than those who are arguing against Clarkson because he didn't succeed in the majors.

Does that mean we ought to elect Clarkson? Not necessarily. Does that mean that I accept Clarkson's minor league MLEs at 100% face value? No, it doesn't. But I think it is more appropriate to debate the merits of Clarkson's case based on what we actually know about his career and to examine the reliability of the MLEs rather than to make arguments about why we should accept the talent judgments of a (significantly) prejudiced baseball establishment and simply dismiss the evidence of what Clarkson accoomplished when he was playing in the minors.
   233. Tiboreau Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:25 PM (#2591986)
Then why didn't a big league team snap him up? Say you're going to argue the Braves would play an obviously qualified player because were racist. I don't think I buy that, since they took one look at a rookie, 20 year old Henry Aaron during spring training next season and batted him 5th on Opening Day (and stuck with him the whole year, although Aaron was no superstar in his first season). But forget that. Say you buy that the Braves didn't want to play a black player. How, then, do you explain that no one else wanted Clarkson either?

They didn't snap him up because he was a 37-year-old black middle infielder at a time of racial hatred and quotas who was also property of the Boston Braves. A 37-year-old white middle infielder would be given a decent chance to prove he can have a solid year, Bus Clarkson would never be given the same chance. Meanwhile, Hank Aaron was a 20-year-old toolsy, potential superstar, potential inner-circle HoFer; it was two years later and there's no way and team would give up that talent.
   234. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 24, 2007 at 09:48 PM (#2592013)
If we assume that Gavy Cravath, that Buzz Arlett, that Bus Clarkson , that a host of Negro leaguers were held back unfairly from the majors then we, or at least I, assume that what they did in the minors, adjusted for competition and SSS syndrome, is what they would've done and that the pennants they strove for were of value as the pennants MLB players sought.


Then the question really becomes this: is there a sound and logical basis for the assumption that those players WERE held back UN-fairly? And in that context, MLEs don't help - because MLEs, while being a measure of "what the player did", tell you nothing about whether or not "what the player did" was repeatable at the major league level for an entire career. MLEs are a statistical model; they represent about 2/3 of players fairly, as do most statistical models, and then can severely overvalue or undervalue players on the extreme ends. We don't really know whether Clarkson is fairly represented by his MLEs, or whether he was just able to play at a high level for 4-5 years, a la Cedeno, and then burned out.

-- MWE
   235. DL from MN Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:49 AM (#2592776)
> on top of the social challenges

Bus Clarkson didn't go to Mexico and Canada because the beer was better there.

> We don't really know whether Clarkson is fairly represented by his MLEs

We don't know about Oms either and he just got elected. Clarkson out-performed HoM honored players in comparable leagues.
   236. Brent Posted: October 25, 2007 at 05:31 AM (#2592808)
I (similarly to sunnyday) see myself as sort of in the middle on this debate. There's no question that the older black players of the integration era faced blatant discrimination and disruption of their careers. Jackie Robinson was 28 years old when he broke the color barrier in 1947. How many black players older than Jackie had a "fair" shot (e.g., more than 250 PAs or 100 IP)? I can think of only 3--Sam Jethroe (one year older than Robinson), Luke Easter(3 years older), and Satchel Paige. Am I missing anyone? And, as has been discussed on earlier threads, even these three players (especially Easter) probably didn't get as fair a shot as they deserved.

Clarkson was age 32 when the color barrier broke. The barrier came down very slowly--6 years after Robinson's entry (in the spring of 1953), 10 of the 16 teams still had never played a black player. To argue that Clarkson is undeserving because MLB passed him over during this period is to ignore the history of discrimination.

On the other hand, I'm not sold on Clarkson as a candidate either. As I've said before, I think Eric's translations of minor league statistics are too high (a little bit high for Triple-A, quite a bit inflated for Double-A). However, when he asked me for evidence, I didn't (and don't) have it. It would be great to have reliable quality factors for minor leagues--they must be available somewhere, since a number of folks are doing translations. But without the data, I'm just saying that it's my impression that Eric's overstated Clarkson's Texas League MLEs. Regardless, I think Clarkson was a good hitter for a SS/3B, probably not an OPS+ of 126, but maybe 110-115. What I don't have, however, is a good impression of his fielding ability. If I was confident that he was an average or above-average major league SS/3B, he'd easily make my ballot. However, I'm not confident that he was.
   237. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 25, 2007 at 01:15 PM (#2592890)
Well, Bill Veeck brought up Willard Brown and dumped him the first chance he got. Even Veeck had not particular interest in a black player actually succeeding as a Brownie. Willard was just a tall, black midget.

I wanted to double-check my sources before responding to this, but this post is almost certainly in error. I say, almost certainly because it's possible that Veeck engaged in a lot of post-facto revisionism of his stance towards integration. But every source that I can find, including Veeck's own autobiography and other secondary sources, indicates that Veeck was strongly in favor of integration, even before 1947. Veeck appears to have thought that black players were better athletes than white players, so why not play them?
   238. Mike Webber Posted: October 25, 2007 at 01:31 PM (#2592911)
Well, Bill Veeck brought up Willard Brown and dumped him the first chance he got. Even Veeck had not particular interest in a black player actually succeeding as a Brownie. Willard was just a tall, black midget.


Also, in 1947 Veeck was in Cleveland with Doby, and because syndicate baseball was frowned on at the time he was not the owner of the Browns.
   239. Mike Webber Posted: October 25, 2007 at 01:35 PM (#2592914)
I'm enjoying the discussion, but here is my question.

Traditionally the middle infielder of this period that was considered MLB worthy but held back by quotas is Artie Wilson. Maybe because he was a star in the more visible PCL instead of in the Texas League.

Is it possible that this is the right discussion about the wrong man?
   240. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 25, 2007 at 02:46 PM (#2593020)
Clarkson out-performed HoM honored players in comparable leagues.


Did Clarkson do that "consistently", over a long period of years, or did he outperform "some" of them for a handful of years? You can always find years where non-HoM players outperform HoM players; the former don't stay at that level, where the latter do. It seems to me that if you want to present the argument for Clarkson as a HoM-worthy player who was "held back" unfairly, you should be addressing whether his quality of play was such that there is NO question he'd have been a bonafide star at the highest level.

I want to emphasize the word unfairly, again. In reading these discussions, it seems to me that there is a de facto assumption that any minority player who performed at a high level in segregated ball was being held back unfairly. There is no question that such players were held back, and for a reason that had nothing to do with their talent - the question is whether such players would have been "held back" ANYWAY, for reasons that DID have everything to do with their talent, if MLB had been free and open. It seems to me that's what you have to assess - would this player have been among the recognized stars in a completely free competitive environment? And if you cannot answer that question with a (close to unequivocal) YES, then I don't see how you can put the player high on the HoM ballot.

I realize this is an incredibly difficult task to do with the fragmentary evidence out there for many of the players under discussion - one that the HoM electorate has handled very well. I suppose what I'm arguing against here are blanket assumptions that, because Clarkson wasn't one of the "elect" during the transition from segregated ball to integrated ball, he was being held back unfairly. It's not at all clear that was the case, just as it's not at all clear (to me, anyway) that Cravath and Arlett (who were raised as points of comparison up-thread) were also being held back unfairly.

I totally agree with this Chris Cobb statement, above:

So I am confident that the electorate, in the aggregate, has better judgment on this issue than those who are arguing against Clarkson because he didn't succeed in the majors.


and I would add that I am also confident that the electorate, in the aggregate, has better judgment on this issue that those who are arguing for Clarkson based in large part on his MLEs.

-- MWE
   241. sunnyday2 Posted: October 25, 2007 at 02:59 PM (#2593040)
#237 and 238 are correct,my error. But the point holds. The Browns, sans Veeck, had no interest in Willard Brown actually succeeding. I hope you enjoyed my line about Brown being a tall, dark midget. His function and importance to the Brownies was the same as Gaedel's.
   242. sunnyday2 Posted: October 25, 2007 at 03:14 PM (#2593058)
The fundamental problem with MLEs as I see it is this. And of course I myself use the MLEs quite extensively,and I think they are probably the most valuable contribution that the HoM has made to baseball knowledge. But there is still a fundamental problem with them.

Take guys like Lundy and Oms, e.g. MLEs pretend to show what they would have done if they had had the opportunity to perform in the MLs. So far, so good. However, they do so in something of a vacuum. In effect, if you are looking at Lundy, it presumes that MLB rosters consist of all of the players who are in the MLs at that time + 1. Plus Lundy. Ditto Oms, and ditto Clarkson, and so on. In the aggregate they assume on behalf of the players whose MLEs we are looking at that there are X + Y spots on ML rosters.

Meanwhile the MLers themselves are restricted to filling the actual X number of slots. The players whose MLEs we are looking at escape the real competition for roster spots that MLers had to contend with.

This is a small factor, I suppose, except that we end up with NeLers who consistently have flat peaks, but very long careers. In theory, the flat peak and long career cancel one another out. But not really. For career voters the NeLers look great, for peak voters not so great. The bias is built in either way. Of course, voters make their own adjustments for the most part and probably pretty successfully.

The same holds true, of course, when looking at MLEs from the MiLs only more so. If the cream of the crop of NeLers represents a theoretical expansion of ML rosters of X + Y, then a theoretical expansion of ML rosters by virtue of an influx of MiLers who give the appearance of being ready for ML ball must be on a magnitude of X + 2Y. If, IOW, MiLers can generally carry 80 to 85 or 90 percent of their value into the MLs--which those who make the jump actually do, often enough--then the fact is that the players who are "ready" for ML ball represent a substantially larger number than there are roster slots available.

Again, I have used MLEs and supported many players on their basis. But it seems to me that MLE players actually have an unfair advantage over MLers in that, again, they don't actually compete for roster spots except theoretically, and in a universe where there are theoretically an almost unlimited number of roster spots available. And so we all split hairs, accepting MLEs for some players but not others. And the basis on which we reject players like Clarkson has almost nothing to do with the MLEs themselves--that is to say, the numbers--but with the fact that they are theoretical. We discount some and not others for reasons that are almost entirely qualitative.

So IOW the opposition to Clarkson is not based on HIS MLEs but on the concept of MLEs generally. That not every great MLE describes a player who was great in reality.

Does any of this make sense?
   243. Dizzypaco Posted: October 25, 2007 at 03:36 PM (#2593082)
So IOW the opposition to Clarkson is not based on HIS MLEs but on the concept of MLEs generally. That not every great MLE describes a player who was great in reality.

Does any of this make sense?


I think this is precisely accurate. My problem with Clarkson is the same as my problem with MLE's. I do not think the ability to dominate a lesser league is the same thing as the ability to slightly less dominate a greater league. If you play at level 9 on a ten point scale at a lesser league, it is not the same thing, nor as impressive, as playing at level 7 or 8 in a league with more talent.

This is just one of the issues, but when a player jumps to a higher league, adjustments sometimes happen. Sometimes they are moved to an easier position, either because of difficulty in playing the more difficult position, or because someone else is already there. There have been lots of players who played shortstop in the minors, but moved to an easier position once they reached the majors. Sometimes a player has to compete for playing time, and spends several years in platoon situations or something similar. Sometimes a player simply has difficulty adjusting to the higher level of play.

So as I have said before, the ability to dominate a lesser league suggests the possibility that you can dominate a greater league. It does not mean that it is probable that you would dominate that higher league.

All of which is to say that I don't believe in ever electing players to the HOM based solely on MLE's, particularly when comparing players from inferior leagues to those with superior leagues. This has two implications. First, that reputation while active, whatever it may have been, matters. And second, that the precision with which we can determine the value of many under discussion is far lower than among those who played in the majors. It is the maddening lack of precision in the evaluation of non-major leaguers that has prevented me from voting all along. I just don't think we really know how good these guys were.
   244. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 03:44 PM (#2593094)
Sunnyday, this is exactly the same thing I say about segregation, and why I dock all pre-integration players in my rankings. If Ruth had had to hit against Williams and Paige and compete against Charleston and Gibson, his OPS+/WARP/WS would have been lower. But, conversely, if Williams/Paige/Charleston/Gibson were being translated to an integrated league rather than to the contemporaneous major leagues, that league would would be more difficult and the NgL/ML conversion factor would be lower, resulting in lower MLE's and MLE OPS+/WARP/WS. Theoretically, the segregation penalty (applied to ML'ers and NgL'ers alike) should be similar to the change in league quality from the 1899 to 1900 NL--moving from 12 teams to 8 is the same % change as moving from 24 teams to 16.
   245. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 25, 2007 at 03:49 PM (#2593103)
First, that reputation while active, whatever it may have been, matters.


...and should be looked at much more closely to understand the reasons for it.

-- MWE
   246. DL from MN Posted: October 25, 2007 at 03:54 PM (#2593112)
I think focusing on the Texas League numbers loses focus on Clarkson. Those numbers help you determine that he was still an effective ballplayer LONG past his prime - which is a Keltner question. To me the most compelling evidence is he came out of college and went straight to the NgL all-star team. Then, after sojourns outside of the country due to war and race, he comes back 9 seasons later and puts up another NgL All-Star season. Are there a lot of players who are All-Stars at ages 22 and 30 that aren't during their prime years? He wasn't going to get a fair shot in the 1950s, but he destroyed the upper minors in his late 30s. I'm not going to project that he would be a major league all-star at that age from those MLEs but I'm going to say, yeah he could have contributed in the majors at 37, which is pretty old for an infielder.

All those innings at SS indicate he was a decent fielder at his worst and I've chosen Jay Bell as a comparable defender. Try looking in the historical record for player opinions about Jay Bell's fielding, they're not going to be as easy to find as Ozzie Smith.

I'm still trying to figure out how we elected Willard Brown. He has decent, not great MLEs but he never walked, was an indifferent fielder and the contemporary opinion (Buck O'Neill) was that he was too hard to motivate to consistently get full use of his talent.
   247. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:02 PM (#2593126)
Dan, I think that is completely wrong theoretically.

For one, if all of these Negro Leaguers had been allowed into the majors circa 1920, baseball most assuredly would have expanded before 1961. If not, you'dve had a super league with no expansion for 60 years.

I don't believe there should be ANY dock pre-integration.
   248. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:06 PM (#2593135)
If integration made these leagues so much tougher - why didn't all of the established stars stats go in the toilet, for one?
   249. Dizzypaco Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2593151)
I think focusing on the Texas League numbers loses focus on Clarkson. Those numbers help you determine that he was still an effective ballplayer LONG past his prime - which is a Keltner question. To me the most compelling evidence is he came out of college and went straight to the NgL all-star team. Then, after sojourns outside of the country due to war and race, he comes back 9 seasons later and puts up another NgL All-Star season. Are there a lot of players who are All-Stars at ages 22 and 30 that aren't during their prime years? He wasn't going to get a fair shot in the 1950s, but he destroyed the upper minors in his late 30s. I'm not going to project that he would be a major league all-star at that age from those MLEs but I'm going to say, yeah he could have contributed in the majors at 37, which is pretty old for an infielder.

Think about this for a moment. He had a very good year at age 22. Not MVP level, but all-star level. Several years later, he had another very good year. That's two. And based on this and A LOT of extrapolation, people are arguing for him to be voted into the HOM. There are far too many assumptions being made to elect someone to the HOM.

All those innings at SS indicate he was a decent fielder

But it doesn't indicate that he would have played short in the majors, which I think matters.
   250. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:53 PM (#2593188)
Are there a lot of players who are All-Stars at ages 22 and 30 that aren't during their prime years?

It's not a precise analogy, but Elston Howard springs to mind, particularly since that's a screwed, integration-era African-American player whose candidacy I've supported in the past. The essential difference between Clarkson and Howard/Newcombe is that the latter two demonstrated that their talents translated to MLB.

It's interesting to me that a couple of the people who are most strenuously arguing against Clarkson have voted for Elston Howard in the past. As others have pointed out, there's a fundamental difference of opinion about the ability to project a player's MLB value purely from MLEs achieved in a lesser league.
   251. OCF Posted: October 25, 2007 at 04:54 PM (#2593191)
Are there a lot of players who are All-Stars at ages 22 and 30 that aren't during their prime years?

Not a lot. But there is Lonnie Smith.
   252. rawagman Posted: October 25, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2593200)
RE. points 246 and 249.
I agree with both. I support Clarkson's candidacy due to his performance in the Negro Leagues when situation dictated he play in them. Two AS years so widely seperated, and seperated due to reasons not entirely of his own making, provide me with a strong indication that this was a high quality, meritorious ballplayer throughout that period - with no factor indicating that he was not. The late stuff simply tell me that he had a long career, and remained somewhat effective later on.
That said, without a high reputation regarding his defense, I look at him with the value of a solid third baseman within the defensive spectrum.
   253. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2593267)
Joe Dimino, why would that be the case? Expansion is driven by the game's economics, not the absolute quality of the player pool. Even pre-integration, every study I've seen of quality of play show that the major leagues of 1946 would definitely be considered a "super-league" by the standards of 1901.

And other players' stats DID go down after integration--that's exactly what the league quality studies show! We could both cherry-pick examples to find guys who either did worse or didn't in the late 50s NL compared to 1946, but on the whole, the performance of established regulars definitely deteriorated. The recorded gap in league strength between the AL and NL in the mid-50s is clear evidence of this. Take a look at Baseball Between the Numbers; I think David Gassko did a similar study using pitcher hitting as well. If you really don't believe me, I'll look up the exact data and methodology.
   254. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 07:46 PM (#2593429)
And other players' stats DID go down after integration--that's exactly what the league quality studies show!


Please show me the studies . . . Just cherry picking the superstars I don't see this. Adjusting for age, do guys like Musial, Spahn, Williams, Aaron, Mathews who were around in the late 40s and early 50s get worse as the 1950s progress and integration is fully implemented? I certainly don't see evidence of that.
   255. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 07:48 PM (#2593430)
The recorded gap in league strength between the AL and NL in the mid-50s is clear evidence of this.


All this shows is that the NL was better than the AL in the 1950s - it does not show that the overall level of play in say 1955 was any higher than in 1941.
   256. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 07:51 PM (#2593437)
To be clear on my position, integration certainly improved the quality of play, I'm not denying that.

I'm saying that other factors caused a decline in the quality of play, and all integration did was to offset what otherwise would have been a decline - mostly due to the war, but also due to some other less important factors.
   257. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:03 PM (#2593450)
Because of this - the lack of evidence of overall improved play in the 1950s, followed by 50% expansion from 1961-69, I basically see correcting for integration as timelining, which I'm strongly against.
   258. Dizzypaco Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2593456)
I've heard that baseball was either a higher quality in the 1930's or at least the same level in the 1930's as it was in the 1950's. I know people have attempted studies, but I'm skeptical. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a major change in the quality of play in the AL during this time, since there wasn't much integration, but I would be very surprised if the quality of play in the National League in the late 50's wasn't better than it was in the 1930's. I don't know of any changes that would be large enough to balance the impact of integration in the National League during this period.

If you don't do some form of adjustment, you end up with a situation where the 1930's are overrepresented - which is precisely what ended up happening.
   259. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2593482)
The main one is the war Dizzy.

This wouldn't show up in 1946, when most of the established stars came home.

But by the 1950s, when the 18-25 year olds of 1942-45 would have been in their primes, many, who we never heard of were dead, maimed or lost key development time and turned into the players they would have otherwise.

IMO, integration basically offset this, as well as the increased competition from other sports and a booming economy.
   260. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:26 PM (#2593483)
By the time we had another 'full' generation of players, baseball started expanding like crazy, which again offset the gains.
   261. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:26 PM (#2593484)
So IMO, NL up, AL down, overall neutral.
   262. sunnyday2 Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:31 PM (#2593492)
League quality adjustments versus "timeline" adjustments is nothing but gray area with one exception.

That is making league quality adjustments within the same season. The NL was better than the AA in 1882. The FL was weaker than the other 2 leagues in 1914-1915. The UA sucked.

Any differences between the AL and NL are of an order of magnitude LESS than these, though they're there. AL in 1910s was better, NL in 1955ff and probably continuing through the 1980s, and etc.

Whether the AL in 1955 was better or worse than the AL of 1941 is immaterial AFAIAC. It would be "timelining" to say it was better IMO. OTOH to say the NL of 1955 was better than the AL of 1955 and therefore Gil Hodges 23 WS are better than Ted Williams 23 WS that year, that seems to me to be defensible, though I myself don't make that judgment. Any reasonable person OTOH would agree that Fred Dunlap's 38 WS in 1884 are NOT better than Jim Whitney's 37. But was Kid Nichols' 37 in 1894 or Honus Wagner's 37 in 1901 better than Whitney's? Not that I care.
   263. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:34 PM (#2593497)
I agree wholeheartedly sunny - although I do make exceptions for expansion - which typically takes 4-8 years to wash out, WWI (1918), WWII (1942-45, though 1942 is slight, mostly in AL), and sudden changes in the number of teams (1882, 1884, 1890-92, 1900, Federal League).

But for the most part, I follow your post #262.
   264. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:37 PM (#2593501)
I also think a portion of the AL's advantage in inter-league play comes from the built in advantage they have using the DH in AL parks. The NL can't just keep a David Ortiz or Travis Hafner or Edgar Martinez or Frank Thomas on the bench for these games.

The AL doesn't have a similar disadvantage in the NL parks, because 1) they can still work such a player into their new 8-man lineup anyway and 2) their pitchers don't hit all that much worse than the NL pitchers.

I'm not sure how to quantify this edge, but it does show up in my BS dump.
   265. Dizzypaco Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:50 PM (#2593534)
The main one is the war Dizzy.

This wouldn't show up in 1946, when most of the established stars came home.

But by the 1950s, when the 18-25 year olds of 1942-45 would have been in their primes, many, who we never heard of were dead, maimed or lost key development time and turned into the players they would have otherwise.


Several problems with this. First, the country's population was growing at this time, so that even including the war, the number of males of professional baseball age grew from the 1930's to the 1950's, not shrunk.

Second, any impact of a "lost generation" of players who were 18 to 25 from 1942-45, if such a thing existed, would wash out by the mid to late 50's, when this generation would be past its prime, anyway.

In the late 40s, when the impact of the war was high, and the impact of integration was low, quality of play might have dipped. By the mid to late 50's, the quality of play in the National League should have far exceeded the 30's, unless there were other factors at work.
   266. Dizzypaco Posted: October 25, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2593539)
Whether the AL in 1955 was better or worse than the AL of 1941 is immaterial AFAIAC. It would be "timelining" to say it was better IMO.

By not timelining people are creating a huge bias toward the 1930's, which has resulted in far more players being elected from that decade than from almost any other. Either you assume that the players of the 1930's were just flat better than the players of the 1950's, and therefore you should be electing more players from the 30's, or you use some kind of timelining. Those are really the only options.
   267. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2593565)
Joe, I'm arguing that the entire period where you had the NgL's alongside the major leagues was one giant expansion period, when you had 50% more teams for the same talent pool. Then with integration you had a 50% contraction, just like 1899-1900.
   268. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:13 PM (#2593569)
Except that the 1899-1900 contraction shows up in the numbers, and integration does not.

My particular explanation may not fit, but some combination of factors offset integration in terms of quality of play.
   269. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2593572)
Ah, OK, this really is empirical. OK, when I get home I'll post all the data I have on this.
   270. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2593575)
Cool, I'm looking forward to it.

I've posted my numbers (derived from Prospectus) before also, on the "pitchers" thread, but I don't have time to look for it right now.

I'm certainly open to seeing other data.
   271. Jim Sp Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2593577)
I realize that there is data "showing" the effects of expansion leveling off over a few years.

However I remain a bit skeptical--intuitively the replacement level has to drop permanently with expansion absent other factors. And some of those factors, like growth of population base, were ongoing even in the pre-integration, non-expanding AL and NL.

Is there perhaps a competitive balance mechanism that makes it look like the quality of the league goes back up to pre-expansion levels, when in fact it does not? I am speculating here...

I think assuming that integration counteracts segregation is only broadly true, but then again I was the first person to use the phrase "reverse timelining", so you know my commitment to "a pennant is a pennant" is pretty suspect. :-)

Why the number of electees should be proportional to the number of teams has always eluded me. Leagues expand for reasons unrelated to league quality.

If we were doing the NHL hall of merit this would be obvious, but applying the principle to baseball still is only correct in a very general way.
   272. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 25, 2007 at 09:22 PM (#2593585)
Jim, I've said this earlier this week, but in case you missed it - I think the talent pool develops based on the available jobs - in essence enough players are produced to fill the jobs that are out there. More teams mean more minor league teams which means more players get a chance to experience professional coaching, etc..

I think it's only very loosely based on population, there's no other explanation (that I can think of) for such high concentrations of talent coming from such small population areas like the Dominican Republic.

Sure it takes some time to 'wash out' but typically, I think it's 4-8 years (not 3 like James suggested in his Abstracts, but not 'never' either).

*******

Here's what I posted on the Gibson thread awhile back. Still looking for other stuff, I'm almost positive I posted the actual numbers somewhere.

I'm into the early 70s. Summary, no data now, not enough time . . . this 'theory' makes a lot of sense to me. As I've said earlier, this methodology used by Davenport nails all of the 'big ones' (AA, UA, PL, FL, WWII), so to me the burden of proof is on the doubters for the other years when they disagree.

Remember this applies only to pitchers. The background stuff of 1871-1925 or so is important, but the really interesting stuff comes later.

1871 NA - plays gets better until 1874.

1875/76 NA/NL - NA falls apart, NL gets started, competition suffers a bit.

By 1877 this has washed out, play gets progressively better, with a big leap forward in 1880.

1882 AA comes along. NL takes a minor hit, AA is very bad early, much worse relative to the NL than the WWII quality of MLB or the Federal League, for example.

1884 UA hurts NL AA stagnates.

1885-88 - AA makes gains, overall MLB quality improves. By 1889 both leagues combined are at about 1880 NL quality, but NL is still the better league. AA never reaches equality with the NL, gets closest in 1888.

1890 PL is the best league, AA takes the very serious hit. NL is worse than PL, but not by a lot, all three leagues worse than either league at any point after 1886. Seriously watered down baseball everywhere.

1891 AA is pretty bad - worse relative to NL than at any point since 1884.

Note the expansion to double the major league teams never really 'washed out' until the AA folded.

1892-1899 - 1892 NL is essentially the same quality as 1881 NL. NL makes steady progress, especially from 1897-99.

1900 NL - by far the toughest league ever to this point. NL of 1900 as strong relative to 1899 as 1899 was relative to 1889, with 33% more teams.

1901, NL far better than AL. But in 1902 the tables are turned and AL is the better league through 1905. Expansion doesn't wash out until 1907.

Overall quality of MLB from 1902-06 is equivalent to MLB of 1892-96. It doesn't get back to the level of 1897-99 until 1907.

1911-12 - MLB pitching takes a dip - perhaps the offensive explosion was simply caused by the fact the overall quality of pitching took a little dip?

1914 - Federal League doesn't have much impact on the two existing leagues in terms of overall quality - but is signficantly worse than ML overall. This tells me there were many good minor league players out there for the taking, since the FL wasn't God-Awful and MLB quality barely felt the impact (the few quality MLB players that were taken were replaced by minor leaguers of a similar quality). The FL quality is equal to that of the 1886-87 AA a little worse than the 1873-74 NA in absolute terms. Relative to MLB of 1911-13 it's about as bad as the 1891 AA (slightly worse, technically).

1916 - overall MLB as strong as ever (saving 1900 NL). AL still the better league.

1918 - slight dip in overall quality due to players leaving for WWI. This mostly impacts the AL for whatever reason (meaning I don't know).

1919-20 - play returns to quality of 1917, not quite 1916 level.

1921-23 - pitching a little worse - I think part of this might have to do with WWI - kids that would have been 18-23 in 1917 are now 22-29 . . . it's probably because a few pretty good pitchers that we never found were killed in WWI.

1924-31 - play steadily improves as population and scouting improve, and no teams are added. AL far ahead of NL pitching wise from 1919-27. By 1928 parity is reached, then from 1929-37 NL has the better pitching.

1932 overall quality of play takes another leap forward.

1937 another big leap.

1942 - AL is much more hurt by WWII than NL - makes sense, AL loses Feller and Greenberg for one. 1942 NL is the strongest league ever to this point.

Note huge gains have been made over the last 25 years. There has been no expansion of teams during this time.

1943-45 - overall quality of play gets much worse - 1943 the quality of play has regressed back to that of 1934. 1943-44 is knocked all the way back to that of the early 20s. Again - AL much worse, the 1945 AL had essentially the same pitching quality of the 1901 AL.

I know some might see this not being strong enough - how could the quality of pitching of the war years overall only be as bad as the early 20s? Shouldn't it be worse?

Well for one, you've still got guys like Bucky Walters, Hal Newhouser, Mort Cooper, Dizzy Trout - it's not like everyone left. And you've had 25 years of improvement, that's a pretty serious setback.

Now here's where it gets interesting, if you are still reading . . . 1946-51, we're basically back to 1937-41 levels, slightly worse but close enough.

But there's a huge drop from 1952-55. Why? Korea for one, but I think also as important an issue is that an 18 year old in 1942-44 is 25-33 during these years. Several of the guys that would have been great early 50s pitchers never got the chance because of WWII.

From 1956-60 pitching is improved but not quite to the 1946-51 level. I don't think integration was enough to offset the WWII/Korea impact. The NL is far better than the AL during this time - which makes sense since they integrated faster.

1961 AL expands and quality dips, but not as bad as you'd think. But when the NL expands in 1962 things are much worse. This expansion doesn't wash out until 1966-67.

1969 Expansion is even worse than 1961-62. I'm not done yet - but based off the few guys I've checked into the mid-70s, this expansion probably isn't washing out before the 1977 expansion.

OVerall - WWII really did a number on MLB quality in the "Golden 50s". By the time this washed out, MLB expanded by 50% over a 9-year period - while baseball was fully integrated by this time, it is also competing with the NFL and NBA for athletes and the plusses don't offset the minuses enough to allow a 50% expansion.

I think this lays out a pretty strong argument that is extremely logical for why the baseball of the late 30s is probably the strongest we've seen at least by the time of the early 70s. The AL is going to expand again in 1977 - I'm guessing baseball doesn't get back to the late 30s quality until the mid-1980s.

Again, when I say 'quality' I'm talking about the overall quality of play - obviously there are more good players in 1969 than 1939 - but not 50% more, and there are 50% more teams.

Integration was just one thing pulling quality higher - but there were three very strong forces (wars, expansion, competition from other sports) hurting the average quality of play. Those two forces appear to me to be stronger than integration, based on Davenport's numbers.

Anyway, I'm not penalizing guys based on the overall quality of play (except for cases of expansion and wars), but I thought it was interesting to document WARPs interpretation of it. I am going to adjust for the relative quality of league compared to other leagues those years.

I'm adjusting for de- or ex-pansion/war for 1875-76, 1882-91, 1900-06, 1918, 1942-45, 1952-55, 1961-67, 1969-?

I'm also adjusting for AL/NL league quality relative to each other from 1901-forward.

Out of town this weekend hope to have a new PA chart with these adjustments up sometime next week.
   273. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 25, 2007 at 11:38 PM (#2593687)
I'm nearer the center of this debate than one might think.

I agree that MLEs are a blunt tool. I also agree the TxL years look weird in my MLE. I don't deny it, and I never have. I have before and still do encourage everyone to take them as a guide not a Bible.

But on the other hand, I also think the fact is that the conditions were very weird after Jackie for like 20 years. The idea that "baseball" thought that a black player was good or not isn't really applicable. It's more like 25% of baseball thought no black players were good. 25% thought that 3 black players per team was enough. And 50% were feeling their way from the first to the second position. The only true blanket statement to make of the era was that black men had very complicated and less-fair circumstances for inclusion than white guys.

Now as to whether Clarkson's a HOM-level talent, hard to say. He's an obvious backlogger. And it's fair to him and to the other candidates to say that. If elected, he'll be the 225th or so guy on the list.

Also, Webber's right. Artie Wilson should be getting looks from glove-oriented prime voters.
   274. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 26, 2007 at 12:21 AM (#2593740)
Joe, OK, I've got the book out. The methodology is just comparing the aggregate performance of players from one year to the next and seeing if they get better or worse. It has the NL with a .74 difficulty in 1899, a .81 difficulty in 1900, and a .74 again in 1901. It has the NL with a .95 difficulty in 1953, .98 in '54 and '55, and 1.02 in '56, where it held steady until roughly the late 1970s (with expansion canceling out talent pool increases). It has the AL with a .91 difficulty in 1953, .93 in 1956, .97 in 1960, and 1.01 in 1968, where it held steady until the early 1980's. In both leagues, the quality of play increase correlates overwhelmingly to their rate of integration. (I have black players per team data, I could get you the exact correlation if you're interested).

I'm not sure if this answers your question, but these are the numbers published in the book.
   275. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 26, 2007 at 01:41 AM (#2593975)
but what do those #'s mean? That a player in 1899 would have .74 RC relative to one in 1968? That's ridiculous - that's basically saying Honus Wagner would be replacement level in modern times - anything that says that is ludicrous from the start, IMO.

To me, the actual numbers they base their WARP, DERA, etc. on seem a lot more reliable. I take those above with a grain of salt without seeing the methodology.
   276. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 26, 2007 at 01:42 AM (#2593980)
Or do they mean a 10 win player in 1901 would be a 7.4 win player in 1999? That seems a lot more plausible, not that I would necessarily treat it that way for HoM purposes.
   277. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 26, 2007 at 02:21 AM (#2594142)
They're meant to be applied to EqA, so that that a .300 EqA in the 1901 NL would be a .222 EqA in the 1975 AL. Here's the commentary:


Let's put Babe Ruth into our Time Machine and transport him exactly seventy years forward so that he comes up as a rookie in 1984 and finishes in 2005. Ruth's career EqA would be .274. He probably would have made the All-Star team a couple of times, with an EqA in his best seasons approaching .300. But he'd be remembered as merely a good player and certainly wouldn't be a credible candidate for the Hall of Fame...

The Time Machine standard, however, is not entirely fair to Ruth...because he doesn't get to reap the benefits of new technology. If Ruth were playing today, his nutritionist would take notice of his penchant for red meat and put him on the Atkins Diet, keeping his muscles strong but subtracting the excess weight that hampered him toward the end of his career. Perhaps the Yankees' team psychologist would detect that Ruth's periodically heavy drinking was the result of clinical depression and compel him to turn to Prozac rather than the bottle. Perhaps would have been able to DH instead of playing the field, extending his career by a couple of seasons.

We can also think of things the other way around: What if Barry Bonds had somehow overcome the color barrier and were playing in the 1930s? Bonds severely damaged his elbow during the 1999 season, suffering from bone spurs and a damaged triceps tendon. He also had bad knees for msot of his thirties. The most productive portion of Bonds's career has come in spite of these injuries. Without access to modern medicine, his career might have ended much sooner.

Our solution to this problem is to eschew the Time Machine in favor of something more moderate: the Timeline Adjustment. Let's take another look at the graph of league difficulty factors. We can draw a trendline on the graph representing the typical increase in difficulty since World War II. The end of World War II brought a confluence of events that combined to sharply increase baseball's difficulty level over a short period: the integration of blacks, the expansion of the game into Latin America, and the widespread acceptance of the farm system. These events went beyond the ordinary, inevitable, and highly linear increase in difficulty that we see in other seasons. As a result, essentially all of the data points before World War II fall below the trendline. To make the Timeline Adjustment, we compare players not against an absolute standard of quality by against the relative standard of quality represented by the trendline. Honus Wagner's .354 EqA in 1908, for example, is adjusted downward not to .232, as under the Time Machine standard, but only to .344.


The relevant point in all of this, Joe, is that the data DO show an increase in quality of play resulting from integration that is of exactly the same magnitude as that of the 1899-1900 contraction, just as one would expect.

Why do you not adjust for the effect of the Negro Leagues on the majors (and vice versa), but you do adjust for the effect of the Federal League? It seems to me to be the *exact* same phenomenon.
   278. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 26, 2007 at 04:17 AM (#2594604)
Except that it shows in that chart, but doesn't show in the numbers I used. Where's the consistency.

Also - I have very little faith in any metric that shows Babe Ruth hitting to a .274 EQA in any era. I'll stick with what I've been using for now.
   279. Howie Menckel Posted: October 26, 2007 at 06:00 AM (#2594678)
"I hope you enjoyed my line about Brown being a tall, dark midget. His function and importance to the Brownies was the same as Gaedel's."

This intrigued me, bluntness not a deterrent for me either.

What are the details for this conclusion?
Thanks.
   280. sunnyday2 Posted: October 26, 2007 at 11:51 AM (#2594724)
Howie, the first half of that statement is mine, the second half is BJ's, from his BJNHBA comment about Jeff Heath who made it his mission to torment Willard and nobody from the Browns lifted a finger for Brown. The team told him not to bring any bats, but then they somehow neglected to get him any. The only bats his teammates would allow him to use were already broken.
   281. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 26, 2007 at 12:05 PM (#2594728)
The only bats his teammates would allow him to use were already broken.

And obviously, there are no places to buy bats in the city of St. Louis.
   282. sunnyday2 Posted: October 26, 2007 at 12:16 PM (#2594735)
Hey I read a story, I shared it with you. Excuuuuuuuse me.
   283. KJOK Posted: October 27, 2007 at 04:40 AM (#2595546)
I think James got the story wrong. The version I've read is that Heath broke the knob off of one of his bats. Brown liked Heath's bats, but since Heath wouldn't share with a black man, Brown actually used the broken, knobless bat to hit his first home run with, and afterwards Heath shattered the bat to prevent even his discarded bat to be used by a black man.
   284. sunnyday2 Posted: October 27, 2007 at 12:34 PM (#2595615)
Yes, and nobody (manager, front office, etc.) nobody took Brown's part. James himself said the part about the Browns not really wanting him to succeed. He was just a promo.
   285. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 27, 2007 at 01:29 PM (#2595635)
Hey I read a story, I shared it with you. Excuuuuuuuse me.


No need for an apology, Marc.
   286. Paul Wendt Posted: October 28, 2007 at 05:08 AM (#2596879)
Joe Dimino
1924-31 - play steadily improves as population and scouting improve, and no teams are added. AL far ahead of NL pitching wise from 1919-27. By 1928 parity is reached, then from 1929-37 NL has the better pitching.

How large are these swings? or this swing from 1927 to 1929?

1932 overall quality of play takes another leap forward.

1937 another big leap.


How can it be that pitching quality "leaps"?


I think this lays out a pretty strong argument that is extremely logical for why the baseball of the late 30s is probably the strongest we've seen at least by the time of the early 70s. The AL is going to expand again in 1977 - I'm guessing baseball doesn't get back to the late 30s quality until the mid-1980s.


Why late 1930s rather than early 1940s --AL 1940-41 and NL 1940-42?
   287. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2652756)
I'm reposting earler posts that were either chewed up or lost during the last transition:

Posted 2:08 p.m., July 10, 2002 - Brian Kaplan
George Wright's best years were probably before the formation of the NA. He was the highest paid player on the first all-professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Posted 2:17 p.m., July 10, 2002 - MattB (homepage)
You might be mixing George up with his brother Harry. Both are in the Hall of Fame, but Harry was 36 in 1871, George was only 24. George was a young stud for Cincinnati, but it would be a stretch to say that he "peaked" at 22. Harry, on the other hand, was clearly past his prime by the time the NA started, but was still a great player.

Posted 3:03 p.m., July 10, 2002 - John Murphy
George Wright and Jack Glasscock are the definites. I'm not to keen on Kean (sorry). George Davis and Bill Dahlen don't make the ballot for a while.

Scruff:
Did you get the stats on Davy Force that I sent you last month? He should definitely be on the list. His NA numbers will be fun to look at.

Posted 12:16 a.m., July 11, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
SS fielding letter grades:

Tom Burns A (as a 3B)
Jack Glasscock A-
Davy Force B+
Frank Fennelly B
Bill Gleason D+
Ed McKean F

Posted 3:13 a.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Tom Burns: 19.94
Frank Fennelly: 25.35
Davy Force: 10.55
Jack Glasscock: 24.34
Bill Gleason: 22.13
Ed McKean: 21.65
Mike Moynahan: 30.68
John Peters: 17.49
Phil Tomney: 16.58
Sam Wise: 21.65
George Wright: 25.11

Posted 1:48 p.m., July 11, 2002 - ed
George Wright and Jack Glasscock are probably my only candidates for votes at shortstop. No need to reach for somebody like McKean who is basically an outfielder playing SS. If they get in, I'll probably won't vote for any other SS until George Davis and Bill Dahlen get on the ballot. BTW where is good ol' Monte Ward? In the pitchers category?

Posted 2:41 p.m., July 11, 2002 - MattB
I don't know if I agree with the fact that McKean is definitely "out."

It seems to me that after Wright and Glasscock are in, you have to decide whether McKean, as the third best (and best available)shortstop is better than, say the third best third baseman or the fourth best first baseman, or whoever are the other best players not in.

How do you compare those? I'd look at positional dominance. Now, I still have some doubts about the precision of Win Shares, but putting those aside, if McKean is the best shortstop available, and had 265 WS, I'd look at the fourth best on the list, Tommy Burns, who had only 224, and played more games at third base. That makes McKean 41 WS better (or 18% better).

I'd then look at the best available at other positions. If Anson, Brouthers, and Connor are already in at first, I'd see that the best candidates are Harry Stovey (381 WS) and Joe Start (244 WS + NA stats + pre-NA ball = say, 370 WS). If I decide that Stovey is only a little bit better, I don't know that I'd necessarily take the fourth best first baseman (who is only marginally better than the fifth best) over the third best shortstop (who is significantly better than the fourth best).

IOW, Stovey is more easily replaceable than McKean, even though McKean's raw numbers aren't as good.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
Monte Ward is on the pitchers list, ed.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Matt, I don't know that because there happened to be 5 very good 1B and only 2 very good SS that that means McKean is harder to replace.

The top end a position has very little to do with the replacement level. Once you are down at that level there are a lot more players. Robert Dudek has done some work that shows the replacement level for AL SS's has not gone up significantly in this era, despite the presence of ARod, Nomah, Jeter, Tejada, etc..

Posted 3:26 p.m., July 11, 2002 - MattB
I guess I was thinking of it more along the lines of "Who would I pay more for in a rotisserie league if everyone were available at the draft." If McKean is the first name thrown out, I know that there are only two players better than him, and the fourth is significantly worse. If Stovey's is, maybe I don't bid as high, because I know there are four other guys who'll give me comparable numbers.

Of course, I never did very well in rotisserie leagues when I used to play in them.

Posted 4:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 - Rob Wood
I love this issue, so let me chime in too. I strongly believe that you should NOT use the "ranking relative to your position" argument to elevate weaker players (in some absolute sense) just because they are higher ranked than others at different positions. Ed McKean is the example used above, but this issue will come up in various guises throughout our extended voting.

In other words, I don't think a rotisserie-like draft is the proper mental model for our voting. We are not filling spots on a hypothetical team here. If two first basemen are the best two players of this era, say, then they should be the first two Homers.

I am generally unwilling to give any points for "rarity" except as it reflects special difficulties of playing the position. I know this may be hair-splitting but I think it is important to be clear on this issue. Think ahead about catchers. There I am willing to extend a little rarity credit since catchers generally are unable to play as many games or perform at their best throughout the season due to the hazards of the position. But this is probably the only instance I give something that may look like a rarity credit. In reality, this is a positional adjustment, and does not reflect voting by relative rankings.

Posted 1:07 a.m., July 12, 2002 - DanG (e-mail)
Just to make sure we aren't overlooking any good candidates, here are a few more shortstops I found who had careers of a decent length:

Shorty Fuller 1888-96
Arthur Irwin 1880-91
Jack Rowe 1879-90
Germany Smith 1884-98

Smith amassed a career with 1,710 games played.

DG
   288. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2652757)
Posted 1:21 a.m., July 12, 2002 - John Murphy
Dan:
I'll work on them within the next few days. I'd be shocked if any of them are near HoM status, but you never know.

Posted 1:32 a.m., July 12, 2002 - John Murphy
Scruff:
Do you have the Davy Force numbers that I sent you last month? Let me know if you need them.

Posted 2:33 a.m., July 12, 2002 - John Murphy
Dan:
Jack Rowe should be on the catcher list.

Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Tom Burns: 19.94
Frank Fennelly: 25.35
Davy Force: 10.55
Shorty Fuller: 14.45
Jack Glasscock: 24.34
Bill Gleason: 22.13
Arthur Irwin: 17.16
Ed McKean: 21.65
Mike Moynahan: 30.68
John Peters: 17.49
Germany Smith: 16.57
Phil Tomney: 16.58
Sam Wise: 21.65
George Wright: 25.11

Posted 12:21 p.m., July 12, 2002 - MattB
Rob,

You provided a different outlook for valuing players, and said that you did not subscribe to the "rotisserie" theory, but you did not offer any explanation as to what was wrong with it, or why your "absolute" scale is better.

The fifth best first baseman may be more "above replacement level" than the third best shortstop, but that doesn't mean that the first baseman will necessarily be harder to replace.

When the Phillies lose Scott Rolen, they will lose one of the best third basemen in the league (even if he is having an off year). He will be hard to replace with the limited number of third basemen available at any one time. If the Phillies lose one of their hot outfielder to a career-ending injury (Abreu, Burrell), the immediate absolute impact will be more, but in any given year lots of hard hitting outfielder flood the market. Abreu and Burrell are just more replaceable than Rolen.

The Orioles have had a revolving door at third base ever since Brooks Robinson retired. Same with the Cubs after Ron Santo. You never hear about how a team spent decades trying to find a suitable replacement for that first baseman or right fielder who retired.

Posted 1:11 p.m., July 12, 2002 - Rob Wood
Okay, now I see what your point is. It's kind of a positional replacement argument. When people have looked into that issue in the past, it is very difficult to find evidence that the replacement level varies much across defensive positions. Or maybe I should say the "replacement gap" not the replacement level.

Tom Ruane did a comprehensive study on this issue a few years ago and concluded that there is no such effect. Tom used modern data so I guess it is possible that there was such an effect 100 or so years ago, but I am skeptical.

To summarize my position, I think that all issues related to value relative to replacement (by position if you want) should be wrapped up into the player's "value". Then it is best to vote for players with the highest values, regardless of their position.

Posted 10:22 p.m., July 12, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Jack Rowe has been added above. His defensive letter grade is an F as a SS.

Posted 10:56 p.m., July 12, 2002 - ed
Matt B wrote:

[ I don't know if I agree with the fact that McKean is definitely "out."

It seems to me that after Wright and Glasscock are in, you have to decide whether McKean, as the third best (and best available)shortstop is better than, say the third best third baseman or the fourth best first baseman, or whoever are the other best players not in. ]

The way I see it is that in a couple of years a bunch of better SS will be available for voting such as Dahlen, Davis, Jennings, Wallace, etc. Just because McKean happened to be the 3rd best SS who retired before 1900 doesn't make him a candidate I would vote for.

Posted 2:13 a.m., July 13, 2002 - John Murphy
Here is the Win Shares per 162 games for the Jack Rowe: 22.35

Posted 1:21 a.m., July 14, 2002 - John Murphy
97-21, 15, 11-62-Davy Force-13.8 sea.-28 batting-69 fielding
SS 67%, 3B 20%, 2B 13%.
notes: 1871-1877;1879-1886. Played 5.0 season in NA, remainder of career in NL. Best years were in the NA, numbers above do not reflect this, so he cannot be accurately evaluated by WS at this point.

Win Shares per 162 games played (NA not included): 10.55

Posted 8:36 p.m., July 14, 2002 - John Murphy
I want to put in a good word for Dickey Pierce, who revolutionized the position of shortstop in the 1860s. By the time he made it to the majors, he was 35 (so his statistics don't stand out). I have no idea where to put him on my ballot, though.

Posted 9:36 p.m., July 17, 2002 - Gary Ashwill
Just a brief return to George Wright. I think he did, in fact, peak before the NA started. He was already the biggest star on the 1867 Washington Nationals and the 1868 Morrisania Unions (unofficial national champions), and he was by far the dominant player on the Red Stockings. According to Marshall Wright, in 1869 he hit .629, and led the team with 339 runs, 304 hits, and 614 total bases--the next highest figures on the team being, respectively, 293, 228, and 422. I've seen somewhere that he hit about a home run a game (probably from the Chadwick scrapbooks). These seem like outlandish totals, but you have to consider the much higher offensive levels and weaker competition. The important thing is that he was easily the best player on the best team.

Wright suffered serious injuries in 1870 and 1871, and was never quite the same player afterward.
   289. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:19 PM (#2652758)
Posted 11:11 p.m., July 17, 2002 - jimd
There were no teams playing at the level of the Cincinnati Reds in 1869, though there were a couple that may have been close. The list that I have shows them winning 64 games on their barnstorming tour with an aggregate score of 2708 RF and 626 RA, avg score of 42-10. Pythagoras predicts they should have gone 61-3, so they exceeded that slightly by going undefeated. They won all three of the close games; a 13-13 tie/forfeit in Troy, NY, awarded to them by the umpire when the opposition withdrew in protest of a ruling by said umpire in the fifth inning, a 15-14 victory over Spalding and Barnes in Rockford, Ill., and a 4-2 pitcher's duel in New York (not sure who was on the Mutuals). 17-12 was the next closest game, over the Athletics in Philadelphia. Remember that all of these games are on the road, too.

Posted 3:03 p.m., July 18, 2002 - jimd
That should have said "Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869", making clear that I was referring to the team that George Wright played for when he hit .629. (I think that most of you knew what I was talking about, but just making sure.)

Posted 4:56 p.m., July 18, 2002 - Marc
360 - 37, 33, 31 - 143 - Jack Glasscock

Being new to this discussion, can somebody tell me what the above numbers are? They look like career WS, Top 3 and Top 5 season WS, but do not match James' numbers. But the WS/162 do match James. What's the deal? Thanks.

Posted 5:20 p.m., July 18, 2002 - Rob Wood
Marc, these numbers are the Win Shares figures you cite, but scaled up to a 162-game schedule. This is done since 19th century seasons were of varying lengths.

Posted 3:29 p.m., July 19, 2002 - Marc
Thanks, Rob, and thanks to whomever (or to all of you) for this adjustment. I love WS, but I think the timeline adjustment is unfair, plus the fact that 19th century players simply cannot earn very many WS with the short schedule. I always said that a pennant is a pennant is a pennant; a world championship is a world championship. If they were won in 1885 or 1985, they are still great achievements not to be devalued. This adjustment is a very nice enhancement of WS. Thanks again.

Posted 8:59 p.m., September 29, 2002 - John Murphy
Update on the top five shortstops (in order):
Jack Glasscock
George Wright (these two, IMO, are very close. Wright might be #1)
Monte Ward (more significant at short than as a pitcher)
Ed McKean
Jack Rowe
Honorable Mention: Dickey Pearce probably belongs somewhere on this list, but I don't know where.

Posted 6:44 p.m., September 30, 2002 - TomH (e-mail)
Kudos to John M for boldly proclaiming his rankngs to date for many positions. Hey, we all need a target to aim our guns at, right? :)

While confessing to not know exactly where to place the players like Start and Wright whose peak values may be beyond our ability to see into the dark deep past, I do think we ought to be able to have a reasonable timeline perspective. John is still debating whether Wright is his #1 SS over Glasscock, and he is also in quandry about Ewing vs. White at catcher. Both fair arguments. But as a whole, if a ballot has on it mostly players at the top who peaked pre-1880 (Anson-not sure where his true peak really is, but likely somewhere between 1873 and 1885- at 1B, Wright at SS, White at C, Sutton at 3B, O'Rourke in LF, Hines in RF also a late 70s peak guy), that says the value system used is IMHO tilted a bit much to not accounting for league quality issues. I know we'll miss many 1890s peak guys on the first ballot or 2, but I would expect the 80s to be at least as well (if not better!) represented as the 70s, with some strong showings by 1890s players. I have Glasscock over Wright by a good margin - easily a longer career, even if Wright began in 1867; as best I know, probably better defense -- win shares per game, considering his "average" went down late in his career, and some accouting for league differences, I think Pebbbly Jack is ahead clearly here too. If I had a SS who led his league in hits 2 years running and stuck aronud for a full career, I'd say he was...hmm, Alan Trammell? Wright might be Robin Yount, if he (Yount) were unable to come back from his shoulder injury. If I had to vote today, Glasscock might be #6 on my ballot, with Wright a borderline #13-15 as the 2nd best SS.

Posted 8:47 p.m., September 30, 2002 - Marc
George Wright a was premiere player certainly from 1869 to 1879, though his last two years could be characterized as a decline phase. As noted above, he may have been a premiere player (well, WAS a premiere player, just that data is not available) as early as 1867. If so, he had a 13 year run, excluding an unsuccessful comeback in 1882. He played just less than 600 games in the NA and NL over 9 of those years, which therefore represent about two-thirds of his productive years. I haven't seen WS for his NA years, but I do have TPR--his total was 13.0 TPR. Had he played a longer schedule he could easily have played 1500 games (2.5X) beginning in 1871 plus whatever from the four years previous. It is not difficult to imagine an adjTPR in the 40s or even higher. Glasscock's is 36.

This is highly speculative, yes, but not unfair. Note that his fielding avg 1871-79 was .911. Glasscock's for his later career was .910. Wright's OPS+ in the NA was 156, then in the NL it was 134, 95, 58, 122. One bad year but a nice comeback. Glasscock's was 112. Jack's best TPR year was 5.6 in 134 games (1889), Wright's was 2.4 in 70, in the same ballpark.

Nothing against Pebbly Jack. But I wonder if George Wright should be penalized or rewarded for having been a pioneer, for having played when the baseball landscape was poorly organized, and consisted of fewer games. Yes it was easier to dominate...if you happened to be George Wright.

The final question is how much stock you put in peak value as opposed to career value, whether you like to think of the "season" or the "pennant" as a denominator in any of our calculations. Taken on those terms, Wright was a giant, Glasscock a very large man.

Posted 8:55 p.m., September 30, 2002 - Marc
Sorry I was unfair to Glasscock. The 36 was an unadjusted TPR. I am guessing his adjustment would be in the 1.5 range.

Posted 3:34 a.m., October 2, 2002 - John Murphy
Tom H.:
The one thing I would point out with my picks are that the players from the 1870s had very long careers for the most part. I'm combining quality of play with durability.

I am taking into account the league quality for each season. I agree that the quality of the NA was inferior when comapring it to the next couple of decades worth of baseball. I'm not sure that means that the top players during that period were inferior. I'm more inclined to believe that there were more great players in the later decades, though. I don't think Cap Anson could have played until he was 45 if the competiton from the seventies had been that inferior.

I have George Wright as the best shortstop for 1876 and 1879, plus being the best second baseman in 1877. I also have Wright as the best shortstop for 1872,1873,1874 and probably 1875 (he was also the best in 1869 for the Red Stockings). He was easily more dominating than Glasscock (my pick for best shortstop in 1882, 1886 and 1889).

BTW, I picked King Kelly for right fielder (I had Hines in center).

Posted 9:06 p.m., October 2, 2002 - TomH
Do we know enough of Wright's NA (and pre-NA!) career to give a guess at his total adjusted WS?

Posted 2:10 a.m., October 3, 2002 - John Murphy
I didn't use any WS for Wright's pre-NL years (though Joe/Scruff is working on it for the NA). I used the available statistics for him to get a handle where he placed at shortstop during those years. From 1872-74, he dominated OPS+. Unless his fielding was atrocious during that time (there is no reason to think that), he would have to be the best for those years. I'm not as sure about 1875, so that's why I hedged somewhat in my prior post.

Obviously, the statistics for pre-NA are practically worthless. When there isn't any available stats, I think (IMO)we should go by the consensus opinion for that time. Wright was acknowledged as the king at short in 1869, so that is good enough for me.

Posted 12:25 p.m., October 3, 2002 - TomH
OK....do we have OPS+ numbers for those NA players (Wright, Barnes, Anson, Start, O'Rourke) who might be HoMers? This would be a good place to start.

Gotta bigger question. Once we begin debating players between positions (is White better than O'Rourke?), should we open a new thread?

Posted 12:49 p.m., October 3, 2002 - John Murphy
Try baseball reference.com for the NA numbers, Tom.

Posted 1:01 p.m., October 3, 2002 - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
Where are we in terms of timetable here? I think it might focus our energies on the project and inspire many (including me) to make some tough ordering decisions, if we get a sense of when we will begin to vote? Any word from above?

Posted 1:12 p.m., October 3, 2002 - God
Any word from above?

Sorry Andrew, but I'm too busy watching the Angel playoff games.

Go Halos!
   290. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:19 PM (#2652759)
Posted 1:20 p.m., October 3, 2002 - Marc
I got NA OPS+ numbers out of TB.

Anson 5 seasons OPS+ 146 though he only exceeded 146 in 1872 when his OPS+ was 200 in 46 G and 217 AB
Barnes 5 years, 180 including league leading 206 (in 1872) and 191 numbers
Wright's are shown in a previous post above
White 5 seasons, 143 with a high of 178

The league leaders were Meyerle 243, Barnes (as noted) 206 and 191, Meyerle 182 and Pike 210

Meyerle's total in 5 seasons was 166
Pike's in 5 seasons was 161
Spalding's offensive contribution in 5 seasons was 121, not as high as I would have thought, his top 139 in 1872
Cal McVey's was 161 with a high of 193 in 5 NA seasons

So in order they were Barnes, Meyerle, McVey and Pike, Wright, Anson, White, Spalding. I'm sure I missed guys who rate ahead of Spalding but I don't think I missed anybody with a 5 year OPS+ btter than White's 143, because I looked at everybody who finished in the top 5 in any year. Wouldn't it be easier if the guys at the top had gone on to long NL careers instead of the other way around.

Posted 1:32 p.m., October 3, 2002 - John Murphy
Marc:
Unfortunately, Barnes, Pike and Meyerle were hobbled by injuries. McVey left for Western baseball while he was still a fine player.

Posted 6:34 p.m., October 15, 2002 - Marc
I know that the following fellows are not eligible yet, but I was moved to look at near-contemporaries Herman Long (b. 1866), Hughie Jennings (1869), George Davis and Bill Dahlen (both 1870) by the following numbers.

Career WS--Davis 398, Dahlen 394, Long 265, Jennings 214
1936 Veteran's HOF voting--Long 16, Jennings 11, Dahlen 1, Davis 0

What gives? Well, again, the 1936 veteran's vote was based largely on vague, though not necessarily inaccurate, recollections of the players' peak value, not their career value. In most cases, that is the inescapable conclusion. In this case, peak value explains Jennings,' Davis' and Dahlen's ranking in the 1936 vote. What about Long?

Following are the peaks for the four players in the 1890s. Being on the old-timers ballot, they were being evaluated against 19th century competition, not 20th. Davis and Dahlen were underrated vs. Long and Jennings from the 1890s, and vs. Wagner from the 1900s.

Long 29-28-26 WS, 3.1-2.6-2.2 TPR with an early decline
Jennings 36-32-29, 6.9-6.1-5.7
Davis 31-25-22, 6.3-5.4-4.4
Dahlen 32-31-27, 5.6-5.1-4.7

All are rated A+ with the glove except Davis, B.

So how did Herman do it? Well, it didn't hurt that he played for the Boston Red Stockings of the 1890s, and his supporters must have been the same people who made HOFers out of Duffy and McCarthy later on. Of course, Jennings played for the legendary Baltimore Orioles who were even more successful and were so much honored in the HoF.

The NL champion Red Stockings of 1892 were an odd bunch, however, #2 in runs scored, #2 in runs given up, not bad, but second place Cleveland was +25 in run differential but finished 8.5 games out. Pitchers Nichols and Stivetts were the stars. Long, McCarthy and Duffy all got a little bit of gray ink but not much.

In 1893 they were again second in runs scored and given up, but their scoring differential was +9 over second place Pittsburgh, yet they won by a comfortable 5 games. League offense had jumped a lot (due to the new 60 foot distance to the pitcher's rubber), and Long and Duffy took advantage for some big numbers.

The 1897 team was a lot better, leading the league in both runs scored and fewest given up. Nichols was still the pitching star, and Duffy, J. Collins and Hamilton now drove the offense. Long by now was overshadowed by these teammates and by Jennings and Davis as a SS.

But for some reason Clark Griffith picked him to his all-time team over Honus Wagner (!). And along with his contemporary SSs, none of his old Red Stocking teammates did anywhere near as well in the 1936 vote--Nichols 3, J. Collins 8, Hamilton 2, Duffy 4, McCarthy just 1. Maybe it was because Long died young, of tuberculosis in 1909, aged just 43, but I doubt it. A tragic death seems less so some 27 years later.

In sum, I don't know how or why Herman Long ranked ahead of Jennings in 1936. It is easier to see why he ranked ahead of Dahlen and Davis in that vote, though it is also easy to see that that vote was wrong. He is and will be a viable HoM candidate but only after the other three are safely enshrined.

Posted 6:07 p.m., October 18, 2002 - Brian H
I was playing around with my 25 or so choices for a top 15, asking alot of the questions that I suppose everyone else is asking--
"How many Pitchers and First Basemen are too many?"
"Can I omit third basemen altogether ?"
"How much credit can I give for NA careers?" etc.
During the course of this I realized that one of the players I think has to be included somewhere isn't fitting in quite right. That player is John Montgomery Ward. We haven't really discussed him much because when things are divided by position he has an exceptional peak as a Pitcher but no staying power (ie career numbers)and a strong career in peak value as an infielder (but again insufficient career numbers to battle it out with players like Glasscock). In Win Shares James combines Wards two remarkable careers and gives him 409 WS -- more than any of the players elgible this go round except Keefe (413 WS).
Moreover, Ward's WS are not simply the result of a long career like Pud Galvin. Rahter he had two mini careers each with superb peaks.
While it seems utterly impossible today, several players in the 19th century excelled at more than one position and played multiple positions during their careers -- e.g. Carruthers, Kelly, Ewing and Foutz.
Ward's case is strenghten by the intangibles -- ie. that which we cannot gleam from the statistics. He was the protagonist in creating the original players brotherhood (i.e. union) and the Players' League; he managed with success and continued to be involved in significant ways with the development of major league baseball long after he had left the playing field for his law practice.

Well, that's the end of my commercial for Ward -- he belongs in the HOM even if we cannot easily determine his position.

Posted 1:50 p.m., October 22, 2002 - scruff
Brian H -- I agree Ward is a slam dunk on the first ballot among the top 15 the question is where? I'd say near the top, he should definitely make it into the HoM on one of the first few ballots, if he's not in the top 5.

I think Caruthers is getting shortchanged a little, because people are forgetting about his hitting. I'll post his WS batting record over on the pitcher thread sometime in the next few days.

FYI - we're really going to get this cranking once the World Series is over, we're almost there. I'm working on a rules document, that will be a draft that we'll open up for comments before finalizing it. Stay tuned . . .

Posted 7:20 p.m., October 22, 2002 - Marc
Having over-analyzed the pitchers, I'm making progress on my ballot. I think the top 7 are (in chronological rather than rank order) Spalding, G. Wright, Anson, Ward, Radbourn, Clarkson, Ward. Then I've got a bunch of '90s guys who are not eligible yet, so haven't worked out the whole thing.

Re. Ward, he had half a career as a pitcher and half a career at shortstop (well, OK, middle infielder including 3 years at 2B), basically. Take half of Tim Keefe (high WS total of any pure 19th century pitcher at 413) and half of Jack Glasscock whom most seem to agree was the top pure 19th century shortstop at least w/o including NA numbers (261 WS), take half and half and add it together and you get 337 WS. Ward got 409. Not just top 15, Monte is top 7-8 at least.
   291. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:20 PM (#2652760)
Posted 3:28 p.m., October 23, 2002 - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
While he is probably my biggest baseball hero, I'm still not sure what I think of Ward's on-the-field qualifications. I agree that for six years he was on a HoM path as a pitcher (although the first 4 years are better than the last 2). And I acknowledge that he put up a substantial number of Win Shares as a SS. However, my concern is with his bat. His OPS+ numbers are a lot worse than I expected (only 4 years over 100; career 93). These numbers pale in comparison not only to 20th century SS but also to Dahlen, Davis, Jennings, Long, and Glasscock. Glasscock, for example, was over 100 10 times; Dahlen and Davis somewhere around 15 (I lost my counting sheet). The way I see it, Ward's qualifications turn on just how good his defense really was at SS. If he was Kevin Brown for 6 years then Ozzie Smith for 10, he's a Top 5 selection. If he was Kevin Brown for 6 years, then Omar Vizquel for 10 years (not to mention Clarence Darrow for another 20), he's a fascinating historical figure who is somewhere on the fringes of the first ballot. I lean towards the later but would be thrilled to be convinced otherwise.

Posted 12:44 a.m., October 24, 2002 - Brian H
Andrew, I thinking you are over looking Ward's basic offensive production. While I am as suspicious as anyone about stolen bases as a statistic in the 19th Century I think Runs are meaningful. Even though he had only part of a career as a position player Ward scored more often than Glasscock and not that much less than next batch of Shortstops (Davis, Dahlen and Long) Indeed, I would estimate (without actually doing the math) that Ward's runs/game (1408/1825) was better than all of the four discussed above. Also, he scored over 100 Runs in a season four times including 134 Runs in just 128 games in 1890. His 1890 season was in the Players League (his brainchild) which was the highest callibre league in terms of talent of the 19th Century.

The defensive evaluation of Ward is particularly difficult. Ward's non-piching games are divided as follows: SS - 826 games; 2B -- 491 games; OF -- 215 games; and 3B -- 46 games (he Pitched in 292 games). James gives Ward (as a SS) a rating of 6.74 Win Shares per 1000 Innings. Comparatively, he gives Glasscock 6.02; Long 6.40; Dahlen 6.82; Davis 5.86. When evaluated against non-contemporary Hall of Fame Shortstops, Ward's numbers are even more impressive: Ozzie Smith 6.42; Honus Wagner 6.89; Joe Tinker 7.28*; Cal Ripken 5.69; Dave Bancroft 6.82; Pee Wee Reese 6.04; Wallace 5.46; Cronnin 5.49; Marranville 6.42; Aparicio 5.47; and Appling 5.40.
I can't say that I fully understand or unequivocally agree with these valuations but we don't have much else to go by. In terms of Ward's defensive reputation I would have to go back to the two recent biographys.

* Tinker is 2nd Highest all time behind only Marty Marion at 7.32.

Posted 3:23 a.m., October 24, 2002 - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
Brian--

The last thing I want to do is bash Ward (who, as I said before, is probably my all-time favorite baseball figure), but I remain very skeptical of his offensive prowess. Since his OBP is not particularly high (barely over league average for his career, rarely if ever in the top 10 in the league, under average more often than over), I think his high run totals are primarilly the result of the batters hitting around him than of his own skill (though his smarts and speed obviously have something to do with it). Even granting his defensive skill, I have him as somewhere around the tenth best SS to start his career in the pre-1910 era (behind Wagner, Davis, Dahlen, Jennings, Glasscock, Wright, Long, and probably Tinker and B. Wallace). Adding in his pitching and his intangibles (but not his off-the-field contributions) and I see him, as I suggested earlier, somehwere closer to 15th than to 5th on the first ballot.

Posted 11:43 p.m., October 24, 2002 - DanG
I tend to side with Andrew in the discussion about Ward's worthiness. He's not a top 10 player on the first ballot. However, he is a worthy HoMer, eventually.

To get an idea of Ward's quality, I tried to find comparable modern players. BBref has Maury Wills on his comp list, and I think that's actually a damn good comp. Both had higher BA's than the league, but neither walked much so both had OBP's below league. Both were below league in SLG, Wills worse in his era than Ward. Both were outstanding baserunners, regularly among the league leaders in SB.

Ward's peak was slightly higher. Adjusting to 162-game schedule and counting only Ward's seasons after 1883, here are their best ten seasons in win shares:
Ward 33/33/29/24/23/22/21/19/18/17
Wills 32/28/27/22/20/20/19/19/17/16

Ward is consistently 2+ win shares better. This is better than I expected to find. Mostly, it's in the defense. Ward had 6.74 WS/1000 (A+) to Wills' 5.60 (B+).

Summing Ward's adjusted WS 1884-94 I get 249, about equal to Wills' adjusted career total of 255. So Ward was a better player than Wills, a guy who many people think should be in the HoF.

Now, considering Ward's pitching career. BBref gives us Addie Joss as a close comp. In reality, Joss had a much better pitching career, considering the vast changes in the pitcher's job from Ward's time to Joss'.

I decided to do a crude translation of Ward's stats into modern day pitching. Here's what I came up with:

Year...W L...IP
1878 17-10 209
1879 26-10 263
1880 21-13 267
1881 10-10 148
1882 10--7 125
1883 8--6 108
1884 2--2 20
===============
Total 94-58 1141
ERA+: 118

Actually, very similar to Ruth (94-46, 1221 IP, 122 ERA+).

I looked for pitchers since WW-II who had about those career numbers and who in their two or three best years was one of the top pitchers. A lot of the guys you might think of first, like Randy Jones or Jim Maloney had longer careers than this. Or guys like Mark Fidrych or Herb Score were too brief.

I finally settled on Ewell Blackwell as the best modern comp (82-78, 1321 ip, ERA+ 120). Like Ward, he had the big season (22-8, MVP runnerup in 1947), and two or three other years among the best in the game. The Whip's W-L record suffered from playing for weak teams.

Blackwell had 103 career win shares. Ward had 174 pitching wins shares plus about 30 more for his hitting in games he pitched. Dividing that 204 in half (the rule of thumb for pre-1893 pitchers) gives us 102 WS.

Adding together Ward's 249 WS from his SS/2B years and his 102 from his pitching years gives us 351 WS, a clear HoMer.

Hmmm. Maybe he's top ten after all.

Dan

Posted 4:04 p.m., October 25, 2002 - Rob Wood
Since this seems to be the only active thread at the moment, I'll post here. I am in the middle of re-reading Spink's history of 19th century baseball. I don't want to be overly swayed by what he says, but ... Spink claims that Mike "King" Kelly was the best player of the 19th century (and one of the true innovators). I am not sure where Kelly rightly belongs. Do others think he is a sure-thing first ballot HOMer?

Posted 4:32 p.m., October 25, 2002 - John Murphy
Spink claims that Mike "King" Kelly was the best player of the 19th century (and one of the true innovators). I am not sure where Kelly rightly belongs. Do others think he is a sure-thing first ballot HOMer?

Without a doubt, IMO. I have him as the best right fielder of that time (that's without even giving him credit for the years he caught).

Posted 6:19 p.m., October 25, 2002 - jimd

Posted 8:37 p.m., July 17, 2002 - jimd
An example of how the pitching/defense balance will affect the discussions within just the position players. I know that career totals aren't everything, but here is a top-10 position players based on the career Win Shares posted so far. (I know, the NA is not yet included in these numbers.)

567 1B - Anson
488 LF - O'Rourke
488 1B - Connor
475 1B - Brouthers
421 RF - Kelly
419 LF - Hines
381 1B - Stovey
377 2B - McPhee
370 CF - Gore
360 SS - Glasscock

Here is a modified list based on the crude expedient of doubling the Defensive Win Shares to compensate for halving the pitching shares.

630 1B - Anson
557 LF - O'Rourke
541 1B - Connor
509 1B - Brouthers
500 2B - McPhee
497 RF - Kelly
492 LF - Hines
488 SS - Glasscock
446 CF - Gore
427 1B - Stovey

(Sorry, I don't know how to reference a post in another thread.)

Using BJ-WS, Anson is top on the career value list, and behind him are the three long-term heavy hitters, O'Rourke, Connor, and Brouthers. However, when a crude method of adjusting the defensive value is employed, Brouthers falls back into a knot of players at more challenging positions. McPhee is probably somewhat overrated by this adjustment, because much of his career is in the 1890's when pitching more closely resembles the modern game. However, I have no trouble seeing Kelly, Hines, and Glasscock as just as valuable as Brouthers, compensating for their lesser batting prowess with excellent defense. (Ward was not part of this original study, and I haven't yet integrated him, or the pitchers into my lists.)

I would love to be able to do peak comparisons of these players using Double-Defense Win Shares, but I lack the season-by-season Win Share batting/fielding breakdowns to do so. You guys who did the original Adjusted Win Shares - are those numbers still lying around somewhere? I think Gore may have a peak value argument in his favor, counteracting a shorter career when competing with these guys.

Posted 8:10 p.m., October 25, 2002 - jimd
Question: if Babe Ruth had always taken his regular turn in 1918, would you consider him a pitcher (30 starts) or an outfielder (59 games)?

This is pertinent to King Kelly because catchers generally did not catch anywhere close to full-time during the 80's and 90's. Shinguards and masks had yet to be adopted, and even padding was artfully hidden under the uniform lest he appear "unmanly". So most teams carried almost as many catchers as pitchers and had 2 or 3 guys splitting the duties, perhaps employed in a catching "rotation". Managers were very creative at working battery players who could hit into the everyday lineup when they weren't playing their primary position. Right field and first base seem to be favored spots, I suppose because they are less demanding defensively. However, players that could handle it would also play key infield positions when they weren't catching/pitching, like Ward, George Bradley, Deacon White, and on occasion, Ewing and Kelly.

Posted 10:39 p.m., October 25, 2002 - TomH
Brian wrote:
James gives Ward (as a SS) a rating of 6.74 Win Shares per 1000 Innings. Comparatively, he gives Glasscock 6.02; Long 6.40; Dahlen 6.82; Davis 5.86. When evaluated against non-contemporary Hall of Fame Shortstops, Ward's numbers are even more impressive: Ozzie Smith 6.42; Honus Wagner 6.89; Marranville 6.42; Aparicio 5.47;
---
Very impressive, and I must consider Ward more than I have. However, just as Hank Aaron padded his lifetime stats but lowered his rate stats by playing past 40, so the fielding numbers of players like Ozzie and Wagner must suffer when looking at career WS/per-something wince they played shortstop past 40 years of age! If Ward's defense i his day at short, which he played between ages 25 and 31, stil compares well to other great defenders AT THE SAME AGES, then I will believe his status moves toward the top 10 19th cent players.
   292. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:21 PM (#2652761)
Posted 12:42 a.m., October 26, 2002 - Marc
I am intrigued by the comparison of King Kelly and Buck Ewing, two players who are not often compared but each of whom was claimed by some observers to be the best player of the 19th century. On the 1936 old timers' HOF ballot, Ewing tied with Anson for 1st with 40 votes (but both fell short of the number needed for election) while Kelly finished back in 9th place with just 15 votes. Ewing was ultimately selected in 1939, Kelly with the otherwise unfortunate class of 1945.

Kelly was almost 2 years older. Each debuted at the age of 20 (Kelly in 1878, Ewing in 1880). Ewing played longer, 18 years (through 1897), Kelly 16 years (through 1893). Ewing's raw (counting) career totals thus benefited, though only slightly (he had two productive years after 60 feet 6 inches, Kelly had none), from the go-go '90s.

Kelly played 140 MORE games, however, and only 50 FEWER at catcher (583 to 636 for Ewing). Kelly played OF early, then a plurality of games at C in his 11th year and then his 13th through 16th years. Ewing of course played mostly C through his 11th year then rarely after that. Ewing's second position was at 1B (253 G) with 236 G, mostly RF, in the OF. He also played more than 200 games at 2-S-3. Kelly similarly played almost 200 games in the IF, including 1B, but his primary position was RF with 742 games. It is not INaccurate to say each was at times "a catcher who could play key infield positions on occasion," but it is somewhat misleading. Each did that at times in his career but both played most of their non-catcher games as a regular at that other position.

Ewing's career percentages are .307/.351/.467, Kelly's .314/.368/.438. Kelly leads on OPS+ 136 to 130. Each scored and drove in about 1.5 runs per game (Kelly about 200 more for his career in those 140 more games), and each walked more than struck out. Kelly stole 368 bases after 1886, Ewing 354. Kelly had about 100 more 2B, Ewing about 75 more 3B. Each led his team to two pennants, Kelly the White Stockings in '85 and '86, Ewing the Gints in '88 and '89.

They were fundamentally interchangeable players, though Kelly shows better on WS largely because of one uncharacteristically awesome season, his 35 WS effort in 1886, when he led the league with .388 BA, .483 OBA and 155 runs while playing 56 games in RF and 53 at C. Other than this, he never earned more than 24 and Ewing only once more than 23 (27 in 1888). Ewing shows better only on WS/162, this being due I think to a shorter decline, Kelly having hung around a bit too long perhaps.

Kelly nevertheless looks better on paper than Ewing but the old timers who voted in 1936 disagreed. Does anybody know anything about the 1936 voters that might shed some light? But either way, those who wish to rank Kelly in the top 5 will have to show that he was indeed better than Ewing (or vice versa).

Posted 2:18 a.m., October 26, 2002 - John Murphy
Marc, you got me. I also rate Kelly as greater than Ewing. I think the possible reason might be most people think of Ewing as a catcher, while most think of Kelly as a multiple-position player. Ewing played most of his games as a catcher, while Kelly played most of his in right (though, as you pointed out, this is somewhat misleading). Does that make sense?

Posted 5:39 p.m., October 26, 2002 - Marc
John, I'm sure you're right, they gave Ewing some slack for his relatively low career numbers because "he was a catcher." Meanwhile, they gave Kelly no such slack. At face value this seems like a double standard. But the real point of my post is that it might in fact be a fair application of a double standard because Kelly, in an almost unheard of move, became a catcher late in his career. Would he have compiled better career numbers had he not become a catcher, if he had stayed in the outfield? I still rate Kelly a little better, but I guess this analysis makes me think of Ewing a bit more favorably as well. I think there is a genuine dilemma as to where to rate both. I said that if you want to rate one of them in your top five you have to show that he was better than the other. This also makes me wonder if either of them are that good. And tying back to the previous subject, when it comes to multiple and varied skills, I don't think either of them can stack up to Ward.

Posted 9:26 a.m., October 27, 2002 - TomH
Ewing vs Kelly - "Kelly played 140 MORE games, however, and only 50 FEWER at catcher (583 to 636 for Ewing)."
This is factually true, but somehwat distorted by the fact that Ewing played mostly catcher early in his career, when the number of games played per season was shorter, while Kelly played catcher later on with longer season lengths.
The 19th century historians seemed to be more impressed with Ewing defensively as a catcher, it seems to me, which is why he may have been in the HoF first. That and Kelly's late-career catching burst may have not allowed him to get the catcher rep that Ewing had.
They are both clearly top 5 guys to me. When you have the choice between catcher/OFers with OWPs in the mid 600 hundreds and 1B/OFers in the same range, I'll go with the fella who played significantly at backstop.
My top 5 now includes Ewing, Kelly, probably Brouthers and Anson and Clarkson, with Connor begging for equal time.

Posted 10:45 a.m., October 28, 2002 - John Murphy
Would he have compiled better career numbers had he not become a catcher, if he had stayed in the outfield?

I never thought about this. This would make it much closer between Kelly and Ewing. I don't know how you can correct for it, unless you guesstimate.

This is factually true, but somehwat distorted by the fact that Ewing played mostly catcher early in his career, when the number of games played per season was shorter, while Kelly played catcher later on with longer season lengths.

Absolutely true. Ewing played half his games at that position, while Kelly only played 35%. Catching was clearly Ewing's most dominant position, while Kelly's was right.

Both of you have given me something to think about. I would have to agree with Tom that both of them (tentatively) would make my top five, but I'm still doing my analysis.

Posted 6:45 p.m., October 28, 2002 - TomH
I went to the Baseball Prospectus web site today, and they have come up with something they call "player cards". It appears to be their answer to Win Shares, adjusted for time and place, so it's the ultimate Uberstat - wins above a nominal replacement with schedule and league quality and timeline all somehow accounted for. I can't vouch for the methods, but these guys come up with really good stuff normally, and their evaluations of defense are IMHO at least on par with James' NHBA. I hope that they will write a few articles on Baseballprospectus.com in the near future on their methods...likely a tease for us to buy their annual book.

I haven't found a way to see their all-time rankings, but I scanned a few players and the top few I found were 1 Ruth 2 Aaron 3 Mays 4 Cobb 5 Bonds 6 W Johnson 7 Wagner, which is reasonable if you rememeber this is purely career value (no "peak" pts) and no military service time was added.

It looks like a very promising tool!
   293. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2652763)
All posts from July 10, 2002 to October 28, 2002 have been reposted unabridged.

BTW, I was surprised to see that Gary A was posting in our threads as early as July 2002. I thought he started doing so when the NeLers began to be voted in, but apparently not.
   294. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 20, 2008 at 09:56 PM (#2990430)
Continuing the series, here are the current candidates at shortstop. Perhaps surprisingly, DanR only shows up once among the best friends. More surprisingly, one guy who got multiple votes in the last election doesn’t seem to have a discussion thread.

Phil Rizzuto (13th, 221 points, 18 voters)

1941-1956, 1661 games played, .273/.351/.355, OPS+ 93, 73.9 WARP1

(3 years of war credit, and possible minor league credit for 1940 – the Yankees certainly could have used him that year.)

danb – 4: PHoM 1995. 1993 reevaluation moved him up. Stark says he is overrated, but Stark didn’t give him any war credit. NHBA #16.

zoperino – 4: With war credit, and malaria credit for 1946, he nudges above the rest of the MLB SS backlog.

Mike Webber – 4: 231 Win Shares, one MVP type seasons, 7 seasons 20+ Win Shares. With a conservative 60 or so win shares during the war, I move him ahead of Sewell. Same arguments as Nellie Fox, only with a 3-year hole in his career at ages 25 to 27, plus a bad return to MLB in 1946.

Dave Concepcion (22nd, 157 points, 13 voters)

1970-1988, 2488 games played, .267/.322/.357, OPS+ 88, 269 WS, 99.3 WARP1

Chris Fluit – 3: PHoM- 2005. No longer surprised that I've got Concepcion this high. No other eligible shortstop can match Concepcion for length and quality of prime. Excellent all-around shortstop for 8 out of 9 years from 1974 to 1982 (1980 was a down-year exception), 8 ½ if counting his 89 game season in 1973.

Vern Stephens (45th, 67 points, 5 voters)

1941-1955, 1720 games played, .286/.355/.460, OPS+ 119, 265 WS, 82.6 WARP1

(WWII years may need to be adjusted downward.)

karlmagnus – 4: Short career – only 1859 hits, but comparing him to Reese he was much better, and not far short of Doerr. TB+BB/PA .508, TB+BB/Outs .756. OPS+ 119 Best season 1944, however. Sliding up ballot.

Johnny Pesky (46th, 63 points, 7 voters)

1942-1954, 1270 games played, .307/.394/.386, OPS+ 108, 187 WS, 57.3 WARP1

(Does not appear to have a thread. Pesky gets 3 years of war credit if you give it.)

zoperino – 8: All war credit.

(To be fair, zoperino also includes the numbers he gets from the salary estimator, which I left out for lack of context. But that’s still a weak comment. Just saying.)

Bert Campaneris (47th, 62 points, 5 voters)

1964-1983, 2328 games played, .259/.311/.342, OPS+ 89, 280 WS, 94.7 WARP1

DanR – 6: The candidate most benefited by the new version of my WARP, as he now gets credit for his absolutely superlative non-SB baserunning for his pre-1972 years. Brock voters should really take a look at him--if you like speed, he seems to me to be clearly the best option. The usual spiel about low SS replacement level and low standard deviations in his era applies.

Dave Bancroft (48th, 60 points, 5 voters)

1915-1930, 1913 games played, .279/.355/.358, OPS+ 98, 269 WS, 113.4 WARP1

(Don’t know if he gets any WWI credit. Discussion includes Rabbit Maranville and Joe Sewell.)

Andrew M – 5: Great glove, above average hitter, walked a lot. Had some durability issues, but ended up with over 110 WARP(1) and had a couple of 10+ WARP seasons.

KJOK – 5: 36 POW, 269 Win Shares, 111 WARP1, 157 RCAP & .498 OWP in 8,244 PA’s. Def: EXCELLENT. Similar to Bobby Wallace and Ozzie Smith – better hitter than Ozzie, and almost as great fielding - so surprised he’s not getting more votes.

Rabbit Maranville (73rd (Tie), 27 points, 3 voters)

1912-1935, 2670 games played, .258/.318/.340, OPS+ 82, 302 WS, 134.9 WARP1

(Possible WWI credit for 1918. Discussion includes Dave Bancroft and Joe Sewell)

Rob Wood – 11: better career than most realize (with credit for 1918)

Luis Aparicio (75th, 27 points, 2 voters)

1956-1973, 2601 games played, .262/.311/.343, OPS+ 82, 293 WS, 91.2 WARP1

rico vanian – 5: nine Gold Glove awards, led the American League in stolen bases nine seasons and was named to the All Star squad 10 times. When he retired in 1973, he held the career record for shortstops for games played, double plays and assists. I saw alot of love for Ozzie, how about some for Looie?

Jim Fregosi (101st (Tie), 6 points, 1 voter)

1961-1978, 1902 games played, .265/.338/.398, OPS+ 113, 261 WS, 81.9 WARP1

KJOK – 15: 26 POW, 261 Win Shares, 76 WARP1, 203 RCAP & .565 OWP in 7,402 PA’s. Def: FAIR. Just needs a little more something – defense, or career length, etc. – but still historically underrated, and perhaps just as good as Dobie Moore and Concepcion.

Jay Bell (2009 New Candidate)

1986-2003, 2063 games played, .265/.343/.416, OPS+ 101, 245 WS, 77.4 WARP1

(No current discussion thread.)

Tony Fernandez (Received votes in 2007)

1983-2001, 2158 games played, .288/.347/.399, OPS+ 101, 280 WS, 83.6 WARP1

(May get some Japanese credit. Thread also includes Bobby Bonilla, Wally Joyner and Ken Caminiti)

Herman Long (Devin’s consideration set)

1889-1904, 1874 games played, .277/.335/.383, OPS+ 94, 265 WS, 112.8 WARP1

Joe Tinker (Devin’s consideration set)

1902-1916, 1804 games played, .262/.308/.353, OPS+ 95, 258 WS, 126 WARP1

(Thread also includes Donie Bush and Ray Chapman.)

Artie Wilson (Devin’s consideration set)

MLE: 1944-1957, .304/.344/.376, OPS+ 94, 310.8 WS

(Was 28 in his first documented year, may have more credit from earlier play.)

Maury Wills (NHBA candidate)

1959-1972, 1942 games played, .281/.330/.331, OPS+ 88, 82 WARP1
   295. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 20, 2008 at 09:58 PM (#2990431)
Housekeeping note, John. I didn't see Vern Stephens on the "Selected 20th Century Players" page, although he does have a discussion thread.
   296. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 20, 2008 at 10:50 PM (#2990478)
Tony Fernández played in Japan? Can I get MLE's on that? He's not far off my ballot without it.
   297. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 21, 2008 at 05:00 AM (#2990649)
Fernandez was in Japan in 2000. There are MLEs down towards the end of his thread,
   298. sunnyday2 Posted: October 21, 2008 at 10:52 PM (#2991434)
Wow. WARP has 'em:

Maranville 135
Tinker 126
Bancroft 113
Long 113

Does anybody want to defend WARP's reasonableness in light of this?

Also, Artie Wilson is #1 on MLE WS. Anybody want to defend the reasonableness of our MLEs in light of this? Only Maranville at 302 is also over 300.

For that matter, straight WS has Maranville #1, and Fernandez and Campaneris tied for #2. Anybody want to defend WS in light of this?

Our top 2, Rizzuto and Concepcion, are basically nobody by these measures. Anybody want to defend the reasonableness of our voting in light of this?

And then there's this. On BA, Pesky and Wilson are way ahead. On OBA, Pesky is way ahead. On SA, Stephens is waaaay ahead. Anybody want to explain why none of this matters?
   299. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 21, 2008 at 10:58 PM (#2991442)
Maranville is a very simple case--he played absolutely forever, and both WS and BP WARP use replacement levels that are far below the actual MLB level. Thus, long-career "hangin' around" types (Maranville, Tony Pérez) are grossly overrated by both systems.

I haven't seen Artie Wilson's MLE's. For that matter, I haven't even heard of him.

I support Campaneris and Pesky very strongly. Fernández would not be a bad choice.

I have made my case for both Rizzuto and Concepción God knows how many times. WS underrates defense and overrates career length. Concepción played in an era when good shortstops were impossible to come by, and a 155 OPS+ could lead the league. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Since when do we look at raw rate stats? Lloyd Waner hit .316 lifetime...
   300. Bleed the Freak Posted: October 24, 2008 at 11:19 AM (#2993800)
294. Devin McCullen has no value to Eastern Europe Posted: October 20, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2990430)

Thanks for posting these informative lists. Bus Clarkson should be mentioned, and I think John Murphy may have been his best friend. Toby Harrah had an interesting career too, while Davy Force is an interesting 1870s candidate.
Page 3 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Kiko Sakata
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 1.5002 seconds
49 querie(s) executed