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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best
Friday, April 05, 2002
The New Historical Baseball Abstract
In the extended text (click on discussion) I’m posting Bill James’ thoughts on our first ballot (1906, for players that retired before 1901), according to the NHBA. I think his rankings need to be adjusted for season length, which will make a huge difference for guys like Deacon White and Ezra Sutton.
The top-ranked players eligible for our first election, according to Bill James. The players listed all finished in the top 100. Don’t forget, these rating are heavily skewed towards peak value.
I’ll list career Win Shares (he gives three for each team win), top 3 years, top 5 consecutive, per 162 games.
James called Fred Carroll the second best young catcher EVER. Second only to Johnny Bench. WOW. I assume he faded . . .
I remember really liking Hardy Richardson in creating my spreadsheet for OW-L. Good to see that validated here.
Personally, I move Deacon White to the top of this list. He was much older than these guys, so the early part of his career was spent with much shorter seasons. He also caught a bunch, but the numbers do take that into account, although those season were shorter. I listed him as a catcher, and I have him as the top peak value player whose career ended prior to 1906 (as far as I’ve gotten in my spreadsheet). I also had him 3rd in career value, behind only Anson and Jim O’Rourke. He’ll be a very interesting debate early in the voting.
I also had Ezra Sutton ranked as the greatest 3B up that point, ahead of Williamson, Latham, Lyons, Pinckney, Denny. James doesn’t give any credit for 1871-75 (which hurts White also), and again his best years were with shorter seasons. His 24.98 per 162 is pretty high on the list, and he played 18 years. He was as good a 3B as there was before the turn of the century. He’d be behind McGraw on peak, behind Jimmy Collins on career (barely), both of those guys won’t be eligible for a few years.
I really think he underrates the players from the 1870’s and early 1880’s. Just an opinion. I can’t wait until I get the Win Shares book, so I can game adjust the seasonal numbers to get true peaks for the older players. I do see his point that it was inferior competition, just don’t think their accomplishments should be discounted. The older players would have benefitted from the development of the game as well. I strongly discount the “time-machine” method of evaluation.
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