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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Third Basemen

Here you go . . . Patsy Tebeau has been added at 1B, he’s not a serious candidate though.

I considered Tom Burns a SS as opposed to a 3B, despite the 48%/44% numbers (48% 3B). Burns prime was as a SS, and a bad half-season late in his career that pushed him a little bit ahead on PT as a 3B. It’s a judgement call, and it means nothing, since WS take position into account already.

Ezra Sutton is by far the best candidate at 3B IMHO.



163 - 36, 27, 19 - 108 - Hick Carpenter - 10.4 sea. - 108 batting - 55 fielding.
3B 92%, 1B 6%, RF 2%.
notes: 1879-1889, 1892. 5-year peak age 26-30. Played entire career in AA, except 1879-81 and 1892 in NL (4, 9, 8, 0 WS respectively).

195 - 25, 24, 23 - 101 - Jerry Denny - 10.6 sea. - 129 batting - 66 fielding.
3B 90%, SS 6%, 1B 2%, 2B 1%, RF 1%.
notes: 1881-92, 1894. 5 year peak age 24-28. Played in NL entire career.

141 - 29, 23, 21 - 96 - Bob Ferguson - 12.2 sea. - 102 batting - 37 fielding - 2 pitching.
3B 55%, 2B 35%, SS 8%, C 2%.
notes: 1871-84. 5 year peak age 32-36. Played 4.9 seasons in NA. Rest of career in NL, except 1884 (AA) 0 WS.

181 - 34, 25, 22 - 123 - Bill Joyce - 6.5 sea. - 160 batting - 21 fielding.
3B 83%, 1B 13%, 2B 4%.
notes: 1890-92, 1894-98. 5-year peak age 28-32. Played entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 22 WS, and 1891 (AA) 20 WS. Don’t know why he missed 1893, but he missed 61 games in 1892 and 33 and 1894, maybe it was a 2-year injury or something.

276 - 34, 29, 28 - 130 - Arlie Latham - 12.6 sea. - 182 batting - 94 fielding.
3B 96%, 2B 1%, SS 1%, RF 1%, C 1%
notes: 1880, 1883-96, 1899, 1909. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Played his best years (1883-1889) in the AA (167 WS). His first full year in the NL (1891) was his 2nd best season (29 WS), at age 31.

224 - 33, 32, 29 - 144 - Denny Lyons - 8.2 sea. - 182 batting - 42 fielding.
3B 97%, 1B 3%
notes: 1885-97. 5-year peak age 21-25. Peak in AA (1886-91), rest of career in NL.

278 - 31, 27, 24 - 124 - Billy Nash - 12.2 sea. - 188 batting - 90 fielding.
3B 94 %, 2B 2%, SS 2%.
notes: 1884-1898. 5-year peak age 24-28. Entire career in NL, except 1884 (AA) 18 WS and 1890 (PL) 24 WS.

190 - 37, 26, 25 - 131 - George Pinckney - 8.7 sea. - 140 batting - 50 fielding.
3B 90%, 2B 8%, SS 2%.
notes: 1884-93. 5-year peak age 24-28. Played in AA from 1885-89 (peak was 1886-90), 114 WS. Best year was 1890, 37 WS in watered down NL.

273 - 39, 35, 32 - 146 - Ezra Sutton - 16.3 sea. - 198 batting - 74 fielding.
3B 71%, SS 18%, 2B 3%, 1B 3%, LF 3%, RF 1%
notes: 1871-88. 5-year peak age 30-34. Played 5.0 season in NA, remainder of career in NL.

278 - 34, 31, 30 - 143 - Ned (or Ed?) Williamson - 11.6 sea. - 192 batting - 80 fielding - 6 pitching.
3B 66%, SS 30%, C 3%, 2B 1%, 1B 1%.
notes: 1878-90. 5-year peak age 23-27. Played entire career in NL, except 1890 (PL) 3 WS.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: July 10, 2002 at 05:49 PM | 124 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. yest Posted: October 17, 2005 at 07:03 PM (#1689239)
but before and after he still was leading the leauge.
Also wouldn't having more balls hit towards third make third base a more important defesive position?
   102. jimd Posted: October 17, 2005 at 07:50 PM (#1689313)
Also wouldn't having more balls hit towards third make third base a more important defesive position?

I would think it should increase the value of a good one. It's effect on one who was between replacement and average is interesting; his FRAR should go up because he's better than replacement, but his FRAA should go down (get more negative) because he's costing runs relative to an average fielder.
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 17, 2005 at 07:58 PM (#1689331)
What Jim said.

in 1959 Yost led the AL in putouts and fielding% while playing for the tigers there were 310 lefty innings pitched out of 1360 innings

Does anyone know if it was a ground ball staff?
   104. Dizzypaco Posted: October 17, 2005 at 08:32 PM (#1689386)
in 1959 Yost led the AL in putouts and fielding% while playing for the tigers there were 310 lefty innings pitched out of 1360 innings

Note what is not mentioned here - assists. There were seven third basemen who played between 145 and 155 games that year. Of the seven, Yost was sixth in assists, behind, among other players, Harmon Killebrew. If you include assists, his traditional numbers aren't that good.
   105. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 17, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1689422)
Note what is not mentioned here - assists. There were seven third basemen who played between 145 and 155 games that year. Of the seven, Yost was sixth in assists, behind, among other players, Harmon Killebrew. If you include assists, his traditional numbers aren't that good.

Sounds like his arm wasn't that good.
   106. sunnyday2 Posted: October 17, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1689441)
Yost led the league in FA in 1958 and 1959 but is assigned -12 and -8 FR by the Baseball Encyclopedia. He is further rated as an 85 and 85 for Range and 83 and 85 for Throwing. It just sounds like he didn't get to many balls but when he did he picked it okay.

Still he led the league in PO 8 times. How does that happen? Those are supposed to be pretty much random. 'Course in Washington he coulda scarfed up a lotta screamin' line drives with their pitching in those days. But seriously, a lot of CS? No, I doubt that.

He also led in A twice, DP twice, errors twice, FR once.

Well here's the deal. He led in A in 1954 when he played 155 games. The only other 3B who played more than 120 games was Ray Boone. He led again in 1956 despite only 135 games at 3B. Boone and Andy Carey were the only others to play 130.

He led percentage in 1958-1959 playing 114 and 146 games. Only Malzone and Brooksie played more than 114 in 1958, and in 1959 only Malzone and Killebrew played 130 (both 150+).

So that fielding black ink can be a bit misleading. It really looks like he was a pretty bad fielder.
   107. DavidFoss Posted: October 17, 2005 at 10:59 PM (#1689584)
Still he led the league in PO 8 times

Don't most systems ignore 3B-PO because its mainly a function of the size of the foul territory.

That leaves out line drives though and I do have fond memories of Graig Nettles going completely horizontal to make diving catches of those. I used to imitate Nettles in my front yard when I was a kid. :) I suppose in the grand scheme of things, foul territory is a bigger factor.
   108. OCF Posted: October 17, 2005 at 11:55 PM (#1689633)
Foul ground is some of it; some of the rest of it is putouts on throws. At third base, most putouts on throws are completely non-routine plays (CS, outfield assist, head man on a bunt) but there is some element of discretion about some of them - not that anyone else is going to cover that base most of the time.
   109. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:34 PM (#2652766)
Posted 3:10 p.m., July 10, 2002 - John Murphy
Scruff:
Levi Meyerle should be on the list. His stats will be on the same spreadsheet with Davy Force that I sent you. Obviously, they won't stand out until the NA numbers are created.

Sutton and Williamson are definites. Ferguson's case is good; looking forward to his NA numbers.

Tom Burns from the shortstop section should be here, but it's close.

Posted 3:34 p.m., July 10, 2002 - Craig B
Latham's fielding win shares in particular are eye-popping, well above everyone else. I cannot figure out why this is. His raw numbers are good but not spectacular... can anyone let me in on why his WS figures are so far above everyone else?

Williamson in particular has better fielding stats but fewer WS per game, particularly odd since he did also play 450 games at shortstop (though not well).

Jerry Denny has much much better fielding stats than Latham and also pales in comparison in WS. Hell, Denny was so good he didn't need a glove. :)

Is this a "false normalization" problem? Denny played on some horrible teams in Indianapolis but some great teams in Providence too. Latham's Browns are legendary, but he played on some bad teams in Cincinnati.

Posted 5:29 p.m., July 10, 2002 - Craig B
Frankly, I didn't think Latham had a chance before, which is unfortuante as I have always thought his nickname was the best ever, even better than Bob Ferguson's.

Now I'm not so sure, I think he could at the very least sneak onto some ballots. 276 WS are a lot. But I can't shake the feeling he probably should be around 255 or so.

Posted 10:01 p.m., July 10, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Defensive letter grades from Bill James. Remember we think of these guys the way we think of 2B today.

A
(N)ed Williamson

A-
Arlie Latham

B+
Ezra Sutton

C+
Jerry Denny
George Pinckney

C
Hick Carpenter

C-
Denny Lyons

F
Bill Joyce

Posted 3:30 a.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

Posted 9:24 a.m., July 11, 2002 - Tim
BaseballLibrary says "Joyce sat out 1893 in a contract dispute."

Posted 10:42 a.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
CORRECTION:

Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the THIRD BASEMEN (NA not included as of yet):

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

Posted 12:16 p.m., July 11, 2002 - Rob Wood
I posted a question on the "distribution list" thread concerning who is eligible for the first HOM ballot. In particular, I don't see Jimmy Collins listed among the third basemen, though his career ended before 1910. (Sorry for the duplicative post, but I wanted to cover all bases, so to speak.)

Posted 1:22 p.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
The answer to your question is in the "distribution list" thread, Rob.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 - MattB
Craig B wrote re: Latham,

"Now I'm not so sure, I think he could at the very least sneak onto some ballots. 276 WS are a lot. But I can't shake the feeling he probably should be around 255 or so."

What gives you that feeling? I guess I'm not sensitized enough to the stat to know who many WS 12+ years of league average play and good defense should equal within 20 either way. Is it the sub-100 OPS+?

Does anyone even know if "fresh" had the same slang meaning 100 years ago that it does today?
   110. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2652767)
Posted 4:00 p.m., July 11, 2002 - Rob Wood
I just started looking carefully at 19th century players last night. There are a few 3B that I expected to see who do not appear above. Billy Nash and Deacon White in particular. I am not sure that either guy deserves serious consideration for the HOM, but I thought it was odd that they are not on the ballot, so to speak.

Posted 4:41 p.m., July 11, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Rob -- Deacon White absolutely deserves consideration. He might be the best player of his era. I've listed him as a catcher (not up on the board yet). I think he's got as strong of a case, if not a stronger one than Buck Ewing.

James severely underrated him in his book. He's really a catcher, who played 3B late in his career. Kind of like if Biggio had stayed at catcher for 7 or 8 years before moving, since 3B then was like 2B is today.

White was catcher for 7.4 seasons, played third for 6.0.

I'll give his numbers here (which don't include the NA):

332 - 42, 34, 32 - 145 - Deacon White - 18.1 sea. - 261 batting - 69 fielding - 1 pitching.
C 39%, 3B 32%, 1B 13%, RF 12%.
notes: 1871-1890. 5-year peak from age 28-32. Played 5.0 seasons in the NA, which are not counted above. 5-year peak includes 1880 when he missed more than 1/2 of the season. When 1875 become part of that peak, he'll probably be around 170 or 180 for his 5-year peak.

He was a hell of a player. He, Ezra Sutton and Joe Start are my three favorite players from this era.

Billy Nash may not have made an All-Star team. I can run his numbers later for you.

Posted 4:43 p.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
Deacon White was more dominating as a catcher (and DEFINITELY deseves consideration for the HoM). Billy Nash retired after 1900, so he's not eligible yet.

Posted 4:49 p.m., July 11, 2002 - John Murphy
Actually, Nash retired before 1900. Scruff should have the info I sent to him on Nash from last month.

Posted 4:53 p.m., July 11, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Deacon White put up 332 adjWS after the age of 28, which has to be one of the highest totals ever. The fact that he played 18 seasons says a lot about his ability as well.

The WS numbers confirm earlier numbers I had produced based on offensive W-L, he jumped out at me about a year ago when I first started this stuff. He was just an awesome player. If his true peak was younger than 27-31 (which is likely, since that's true for most players), he's going to be around 450 WS when we are through with him, considering he was pretty good in the NA as well.

Posted 5:07 p.m., July 11, 2002 - scruff
Billy Nash has been added above. He gets an "A" rating defensively from James. He's got a reasonable case.

If I had to rank them right now, I'd go:

Ezra Sutton
Billy Nash
Ned Williamson
Arlie Latham

They are the only ones I'd consider at this point. I still need to see what Bob Ferguson's NA numbers deflate to. I pick Nash and Williamson ahead of Latham because they have similar numbers, but Latham put his up in the AA during his best years, which was the weaker league. Nash and Williamson are very close, but Nash played a little bit later when the league was tougher, that outweighed Williamson's higher peak for me. I can see either one getting the nod for the 2 hole, but I think Sutton is clearly 1 and Latham is clearly below the other two.

I'm open to persuasion if someone thinks I'm off base here. Sutton is the only one that has a shot at being on my first 10-man ballot, and he'll probably be near the bottom if he is there, but he should get in eventually.

Probably by 1908 or 1909. He died in 1907, so maybe the 1908 sympathy vote will get him in. Too bad that if he doesn't get in the first two years he'll never know was a HoMer . . .

Posted 12:58 a.m., July 12, 2002 - DanG (e-mail)
Just to make sure we're not overlooking anybody, I noticed a few other thirdbasemen who had careers of a good length.

Bill Kuehne 1883-92
Joe Mulvey 1883-95
Billy Shindle 1886-98

Shindle, at least, deserves to have his numbers put up.

DG

Posted 1:22 a.m., July 12, 2002 - John Murphy
I made up the data for Shindle last week for Scruff. He should be able to put it up within the next few days. I'll make up the prorated stats for Kuehne and Mulvey for Scruff also.

Scruff:
Did you find the Meyerle stats I sent you? If you didn't, I'll send them over to you if you want me too.

Posted 11:40 a.m., July 12, 2002 - John Murphy
Scruff:
I uploaded a new file for you.

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

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Bill Kuehne: 15.05
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
Joe Mulvey: 15.92
Billy Nash: 23.21
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

I didn't realize how good Nash was. Damn close between Williamson and Nash.

Posted 4:57 p.m., July 12, 2002 - Rick A.
Scruff,

Not to sound ignorant or anything, but what do you mean when you say that 3B then was like 2B is today and vice versa? In what way?

Posted 7:12 p.m., July 12, 2002 - Craig B
MattB,

My suspicion re Latham is the defense. His defensive stats just aren't that great; but his defensive WS are really high. However, that's the nature of the WS system; it encourages us to re-evaluate some of our preceptions about defense.

I haven't looked at it closely enough yet.

I got the 255 figure from taking off about 2 WS/year defesively, which would put him at about the same defensive value as others with similar defensive statistics.

Re the 19th-century meaning of fresh : it meant "bold" or "impudent", similar to one of the modern meanings.

Posted 7:15 p.m., July 12, 2002 - Craig B
MattB,

My suspicion re Latham is the defense. His defensive stats just aren't that great; but his defensive WS are really high. However, that's the nature of the WS system; it encourages us to re-evaluate some of our preceptions about defense.

I haven't looked at it closely enough yet.

I got the 255 figure from taking off about 2 WS/year defesively, which would put him at about the same defensive value as others with similar defensive statistics.
   111. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2652768)
Posted 7:58 p.m., July 12, 2002 - Craig B
Perhaps if I had kept posting, I might have chopped off a little at a time until there was nothing left.

Posted 12:16 a.m., July 13, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Rick -- you don't sound ignorant . . .

Think back to little league. The better infielders were your SS and 3B, not SS and 2B. This is pretty obvious, because the throw from third was much longer than from 2B, and the ball comes at you a lot quicker, you are closer to the hitter. Since 2B don't have to turn the DP, it was actually a very easy position (I know, it's where I was put to minimize my terrible arm). Just field grounders and make the short throw.

Before 1920, the DP was not that big of a factor, teams just didn't turn that many. There were less people on 1B, and when they were there, there was often a bunt, a hit and run or a steal, further reducing the need for a 2B that could turn two.

But 3B had to make that long throw, and most of the batters were fast. They had to field more bunts than today, because everyone bunted all the time. So 3B was were the better glove men went, not 2B.

Look at the batting stats of the typical 2B and typical 3B from 1871-1930 (it took about 10 years after the deadball era ended for managers to pick up on this and for the talent to start cycling through). The 2B were much better hitters, similar to the difference between 3B and 2B today, only reversed. What I've seen of Robert Dudek's replacement studies hold this up as well (replacement 2B hit better than replacement 3B before 1920).

That's one reason why Rogers Hornsby's numbers aren't quite as impressive (though they are very impressive, don't get me wrong). He was playing 2B when that was the slugging position. We should really be comparing he and Eddie Collins to guys like Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and George Brett, not to guys like Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Grich and Joe Morgan.

Guys like Jimmy Collins and Home Run Baker should be compared to Morgan and Sandberg, they shouldn't be compared to Schmidt and Brett.

Posted 10:31 a.m., July 13, 2002 - ChapelHeel
For Rick's benefit, I don't think the role reversal analysis is all that straightforward.

I think the role reversal is important only if you are asking who is the best at a particular position and in weighting their defensive abilities. I'm not sure whether it is relevant to the HoMer ballot. These threads are set up by position for ease of organization, but I believe the latest iteration of the HoMer ballot eliminated voting by position. Accordingly, Arlie Latham may be the 4th best 3b from this era, but he is likely many, many ballots away from being elected a HoMer (and probably not at all, in my view). It doesn't really matter whether you compare Latham to Schmidt or Latham to Bill Mazeroski. He falls where he falls on the HoMer ballot. Sure, Latham had heavier defensive responsibilities than Schmidt, but those are taken into account their respective WS defensive numbers, right? Reasonable minds may differ on whether WS does an adequate job in this regard, but there is an adjustment in there somewhere.

Also, I don't think it's fair to say Hornsby's numbers are less impressive because he played what was then a hitter's position. I've never heard anyone say Babe Ruth's numbers are less impressive because he played outfield and outfielders often hit well. In my view, the role reversal theory should be applied to defense. A great hitter is a great hitter, no matter what position he plays. The role reversal might affect where Hornsby falls among the greatest 2b of all time (because different 2b had different defensive responsibilities), but I don't think it affects where he falls among all HoMers, as long as you don't give him more defensive credit than a 2b of his era is due. Again, WS numbers try to take this into account.

Finally, if you are going to apply this 2b/3b reversal theory, you have to apply it to everyone at those positions in the relevant eras. If you compare Hornsby to Mike Schmidt, you also have to compare Bid McPhee to Mike Schmidt. So Hornsby was a good hitter at a hitter's position and McPhee was a good defensive player at a hitter's position. What does that do to McPhee? One argument is that he is not a HoMer because he played a hitter's position but wasn't a spectacular hitter (considering the park he played in). On the other hand, Bill James has given him 5.25 WS per 1,000 Innings Played. If he was playing a position that did not have a heavy defensive role, then he must have been one hell of a defensive player to rack up more than 5 WS a season with his defense. Mazerosksi has less than 1 additional WS per 1,000 Innings Played at a time when the 2b had a greater defensive role.

My point is that there are many ways to look at the 2b/3b role reversal. WS tries to take this into account. If you are using another method, you may want to make some adjustments, but it will take some thinking.

Posted 1:01 a.m., July 14, 2002 - John Murphy
30-20, 10, 0-30-Levi Meyerle-5.6 sea.-27 batting-1 fielding
3B 55%, 2B 22%, RF 12%, SS 7%, 1B 4%, LF 1%.
notes: 1871-1877;1884. Played 5.0 season in NA, remainder of career in NL; 1884 in U. 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). 20.97

Posted 11:03 a.m., July 14, 2002 - John Murphy
Small correction on Levi Meyerle's defense: it should read 3 fielding instead of 1.

I'm starting to like this HTML stuff!

Posted 11:45 a.m., July 15, 2002 - Rick A.
Scruff,
Thanks for the info. That was very interesting. Having never played Little League, I never realized that one of the better fielders was the third basemen.

ChapelHeel,
You and scruff have given me something to think about when voting for these players. Thanks

Posted 5:06 p.m., July 25, 2002 - Chris F
"I've never heard anyone say Babe Ruth's numbers are less impressive because he played outfield and outfielders often hit well."

Well, of course no one has ever said that because it would sound silly to call Ruth 'less impressive' than anything. But I think we would all agree that Babe Ruth would have been even MORE impressive if he had hit like he did as a SS or C.

Posted 11:12 p.m., July 25, 2002 - Craig B
How about as a pitcher?

Amazing, that man, simply amazing.

Posted 11:18 p.m., July 25, 2002 - Craig B
How about as a pitcher?

Amazing, that man, simply amazing.

Posted 8:16 p.m., September 12, 2002 - TomH (e-mail)
My first look at the 3Bmen, and my first comments overall:

In general, I need more info on adjWS; is it adjusted for length of season? This would be good and overcome some of James' NHA problems of fewer WS for 19th cent guys. HOWEVER, there is a strong argument for lower quality of league the further back we go. I cannot equate similar OPS+ stats for guys like Sutton/White/Williamson in the 1870s to Lyons and Nash in the 80s / 90s. So, my initial cut at 3B rank goes like
Williamson by a nose over Lyons, with White and Nash close behind. White might be #3 at catcher as well. Then Sutton (his OWP ain't all that good), finally Joyce (who needs a longer career and better D) and Latham, after which there isn't much.
Tom

Posted 11:09 p.m., September 12, 2002 - Marc
Good question about adjWS...is the adjustment to 162 games or to a 162 game schedule? In other words if a player in the 1880s played in 100 of 114 games is the adjustment 1.62 or 1.42?

As for Deacon White, he might be #3 at catcher and #3 at 3B. But if you add together his entire career he probably rates ahead of all the catchers and 3B besides Ewing as a "player."

Overall I'm not sure there is a HOF 3B from the 19th century. The 2B crop looks weak, maybe, but 3B looks weaker yet. I agree that Williamson was probably the best, just based on the accolades he got from people who saw him play.

Posted 12:04 p.m., September 13, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
The adjustment is to a 162-game schedule.

Marc and Tom, I really like Ezra Sutton as the best 3B of the 19th Century, and I think he is a HoMer, not a first ballot one obviously, but he was a helluva a player.

He racked up 273 adjusted WS playing in the NL, and he was good enough to be one of the better players in the NA from the age of 20-24. He racked up 39, 35 and 32 WS in his best 3 years, in the early 1880s, which was a much tougher league than the NA.

It's reasonable, especially in looking at his NA numbers to assume that he would have had some big years earlier as well had the NL existed. Even if you give him just 15 WS a year for his NA years, you are looking at a guy with 348 WS (significantly more than any other 3B), and a 16+ year career, very long for that era. And a high peak.

Sure his big years in the NA have to be discounted somewhat, but that doesn't mean they should be eliminated or not counted at all. I really believe it's an easy question for who the best 3B of the 19th century was. Williamson is a solid second, but Sutton wins this easily, IMO.

John Murphy, great sponsor line on baseball-reference :-) I think I'm going to grab Deacon White .
   112. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:36 PM (#2652769)
Posted 1:51 p.m., September 13, 2002 - John Murphy
Thanks, Scruff.

I was actually left White for you, since you are the biggest proponent here at the Primer for his selection to both Halls (and rightly so).

Posted 2:02 p.m., September 13, 2002 - John Murphy
Let me try this again:

Thanks, Scruff.

I actually left White for you, since you are the biggest proponent here at the Primer for his selection to both Halls (and rightly so).

Posted 6:18 p.m., September 13, 2002 - scruff (e-mail)
Thanks John, you should see something by the end of the weekend . . .

Posted 10:48 p.m., September 14, 2002 - dan b
Scruff writes "I really like Ezra Sutton as the best 3B of the 19th Century, and I think he is a HoMer"

I have been reading with interest comments such as the above along with other similar assertions posted on other blogs designating players such as Paul Hines, Charley Jones, Cal McVey, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White as certain HoMers. Unless I have stumbled into the meeting place of the Nineteenth Century Baseball Fan Club, I don?t think so. As our elections unfold, we will have divided points of view not just over peak value versus career value, but also ?Best of Era? versus ?Best Available Player?.

A few weeks ago when we were debating the election format, I compiled a mock HoM to try to get a feel for what our results might look like. Supposing that the collective wisdom of our electorate might some what concur with Bill James, I used his rankings in the Historical Baseball Abstract, and seeking positional balance took the top 18 players at each of (8) positions, 65 pitchers and the (12) Negro League players James lists in the top 100. I only considered players who will be eligible for the HoM by 2004. This gave me 221 players. Needing 224 to fill the HoM per Scruff?s post of July 23, I arbitrarily added the 19th ranking RF and CF and Monte Irvin (whose career split had him falling through the cracks). Although no attempt to micro evaluate the merits of say, the 18th ranking LF versus the 20th ranking CF was undertaken, this gave me a reasonable starting point for a HoM based on ?Best Available Player?. After holding my mock elections, I offer the following observations:

1) Had we decided to start our process in 1921, every player selected would have come from the above described list of 224. Since we are starting in 1906, a total of 18 players not on the initial list needed to be found by digging a little deeper on James? rankings, beginning with Cupid Childs in 1908 and ending with Zack Wheat in 1933.
2) Only 9 players whose career ends before 1901 get in ? Anson, Brouthers, Clarkson, Connor, Ewing, Keefe, McPhee, Mullane, and Radbourn. Voters looking for the best players on each ballot are not going to have room for players like Sutton (James ranking at 3B #98), Hines (CF #53),Jones (LF #67), McVey (C-not in the top 125), White (3B #76) or Richardson (2B #39) ? well, maybe Richardson instead of Mullane.

The caliber of play in the nineteenth century is suspect. James makes a compelling argument in his comments on Amos Rusie (P #28)regarding the success of teenage pitchers in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the claim to be the best 3B in the 1880?s or the best RF in the 1870?s is no more justification for HoM recognition than best player in Kansas City Athletics history (Siebern 1B #63).

Posted 12:36 a.m., September 15, 2002 - John Murphy
The caliber of play in the nineteenth century is suspect. James makes a compelling argument in his comments on Amos Rusie (P #28)regarding the success of teenage pitchers in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the claim to be the best 3B in the 1880?s or the best RF in the 1870?s is no more justification for HoM recognition than best player in Kansas City Athletics history (Siebern 1B #63).

The problem I have with this is that, a hundred years from now, all the great players of today might be as good as an average player of that time. Would we start throwing Barry, A-Rod and Clemens (not to mention Ted, Ty and the Babe) out of the Hall because, compared to the future players, the competition they played with would seem suspect?

I agree that there are more great players now than then. I think, however, the best third baseman in over twenty years of professional baseball (until Jimmy Collins) is worthy of the honor. Besides, James even says he might be wrong about Sutton.

Posted 12:18 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Marc
This is the ultimate question. What exactly constitutes value? greatness? Is it whether or not said candidate could plop down in 2002 with the training and conditioning and knowledge and experience of 1871 or 1893 or 1918 or 1935 and play at an All-Star level? I love Bill James but if that's what he is trying to say, he is wrong. By that logic, if in other words we extend James' timeline adjustment into the future (John hit the nail on the head) then someday the stars of the 20th century will no longer be fit for the HOF either.

I would suggest that greatness is, first of all, a matter of peak value. Either you're great or you're not. You can't accumulate greatness. A reasonable length of career is also nice. But the standard, either way, is the impact you had on pennant races. If Ezra Sutton helped his team win or compete for a pennant in the 1880s, if he gave his team an extra edge by doing things his peers didn't do, then that is exactly as great an achievement as George Brett giving his team a similar edge 100 years later.

I have no clue if Ezra Sutton is a HOFer, by the way. But it is silly to believe that if George Brett had been born in 1850 that he would have been George Brett.

So I'm looking forward to voting some 19th century players into the HOM, and I'm not at all discouraged about voting out some players from the 20th. A pennant is a pennant, and the players' job is to compete and win during the lifetime and with the conditions that god gave him.

Posted 12:20 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Marc
This is the ultimate question. What exactly constitutes value? greatness? Is it whether or not said candidate could plop down in 2002 with the training and conditioning and knowledge and experience of 1871 or 1893 or 1918 or 1935 and play at an All-Star level? I love Bill James but if that's what he is trying to say, he is wrong. By that logic, if in other words we extend James' timeline adjustment into the future (John hit the nail on the head) then someday the stars of the 20th century will no longer be fit for the HOF either.

I would suggest that greatness is, first of all, a matter of peak value. Either you're great or you're not. You can't accumulate greatness. A reasonable length of career is also nice. But the standard, either way, is the impact you had on pennant races. If Ezra Sutton helped his team win or compete for a pennant in the 1880s, if he gave his team an extra edge by doing things his peers didn't do, then that is exactly as great an achievement as George Brett giving his team a similar edge 100 years later.

I have no clue if Ezra Sutton is a HOFer, by the way. But it is silly to believe that if George Brett had been born in 1850 that he would have been George Brett.

PS. Ezra Sutton fans are advised BTW to start calling him by his middle name and the new nickname I am about to give to him. "Cat" Ballou Sutton. Now there's a name I can vote for!

So I'm looking forward to voting some 19th century players into the HOM, and I'm not at all discouraged about voting out some players from the 20th. A pennant is a pennant, and the players' job is to compete and win during the lifetime and with the conditions that god gave him.

Posted 2:00 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Eric Chalek
But should the question of whether Sutton is the best 3B of his time or not be pertinent to our task? Shouldn't the question be: Is Sutton the most (or one of N-most) worthy candidates for induction? Sure I might include him on my ballot, but can he be reasonably ranked ahead of O'Rourke, Kelly, Connor, Brouthers, Radbourne, Keefe, or Clarkson, or for that matter McPhee on the first ballot? Or the leftovers from the first ballot plus Childs and Hamilton (and Rusie?) on the second ballot?

By my reckoning (and it could be wrong), our third election offers Sutton his best opportunity (the major new candidate that year would appear to be Dummy Hoy). After that he'll be squeezed by Delahanty, Jennings, Ryan, and Van Haltren; then the next year those leftovers plus Herman "The Original Flying Dutchman" Long. After that things get tight as a lot of candidates begin moving onto the ballot in quick succession.

I can't say yet that I personally will or won't vote for Sutton, but I can say that he'll surely have an uphill battle to make it.

POINT OF INQUIRY: Since Rusie's and Brouthers's names have come up, have we established any guidelines regarding how far away from the end of a player's regular career a token appearance must be if it is to be ignored for HOM eligibility purposes?

Posted 2:05 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Eric Chalek
But should the question of whether Sutton is the best 3B of his time or not be pertinent to our task? Shouldn't the question be: Is Sutton the most (or one of N-most) worthy candidates for induction? Sure I might include him on my ballot, but can he be reasonably ranked ahead of O'Rourke, Kelly, Connor, Brouthers, Radbourne, Keefe, or Clarkson, or for that matter McPhee on the first ballot? Or the leftovers from the first ballot plus Childs and Hamilton (and Rusie?) on the second ballot?

By my reckoning (and it could be wrong), our third election offers Sutton his best opportunity (the major new candidate that year would appear to be Dummy Hoy). After that he'll be squeezed by Delahanty, Jennings, Ryan, and Van Haltren; then the next year those leftovers plus Herman "The Original Flying Dutchman" Long. After that things get tight as a lot of candidates begin moving onto the ballot in quick succession.

I can't say yet that I personally will or won't vote for Sutton, but I can say that he'll surely have an uphill battle to make it.

POINT OF INQUIRY: Since Rusie's and Brouthers's names have come up, have we established any guidelines regarding how far away from the end of a player's regular career a token appearance must be if it is to be ignored for HOM eligibility purposes?

Posted 2:29 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Eric Chalek
Sorry about the double post.

Posted 7:11 p.m., September 15, 2002 - Marc
Ditto re. the double post. And Eric, I agree with you re. Ezra Sutton. He was just a handy name to stand in for the 19th century generally. I guess part of this whole exercise is to decide whether we are going to pretend it is really 1906 or not. My understanding BTW is strict (Minnie Minoso) HOF rules; any late appearance pushes back ballot eligibility. That raises the interesting case of Sam Thompson who retired in 1898 but played a few games in 1906. If we are pretending it is January 1906, then we wouldn't have any way of knowing he would appear in a few games later that year.

Posted 8:35 p.m., September 15, 2002 - dan b
So we are pretending it is 1906. Isn't it likely we will be even less impressed with Sutton's claim as the best 3B back in the 80's. Aren't we going to say to ourselves "although Sutton may have been the best back in the 80's, he was no John McGraw or Jimmy Collins". Won't we recognize that with the improved stability of the game came a higher level of play, that the stars of the recent past were better than the stars of the 70's and 80's?
   113. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:37 PM (#2652771)
Posted 8:12 p.m., October 14, 2002 - Marc
Sorry, Jerry Denny's big year was 1887. James gives him 19 WS in 122 individual games. The team played 126 games, so his AdjWS would be 24.4. Not exactly MVP range.

Posted 8:19 p.m., October 14, 2002 - Marc
Another PS. George Wright also got 6 votes and Spalding 4 in the '36 veteran's ballot. I pasted this in from another source and I'm obviously going to have to go back and see what else dropped out. Sorry.

Posted 12:00 a.m., October 15, 2002 - Marc
All right, let me try this again. In addition to the list posted above at 8:07 on Oct. 14, the following persons also received votes in the 1936 veteran's HOF vote:

John McGraw 17 votes, Wilbert Robinson, George Wright and Charlie Comiskey 6, Albert Spalding 4 and (N)ed Williamson 2.

So, to the all-star team listed above you'd have to add McGraw as your all-star manager, unless, that is, you think half or thereabouts of Anson's votes were for his leadership qualities. Spalding is just one vote out of the running for a four-man pitching rotation.
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 23, 2007 at 08:39 PM (#2652773)
Posts #109-113 contains earlier posts from July 2002 to September 2002 that had been either chewed up or had been lost during the last transition.
   115. Cblau Posted: December 27, 2007 at 06:57 PM (#2654527)
Not like this is going to get him elected or anything, but everyone should check out Jerry Denny's fielding stats at shortstop. I happened to look at them the other day, and now I think the guy must have been playing out of position most of his career. Jack Glasscock's numbers are excellent, but Denny's blow his out of the water.
   116. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: October 28, 2008 at 08:03 PM (#2998048)
Well, I’ve been slacking off a bit, I guess. Or maybe not slacking off enough, since I thought I would get these done when it’s quiet at work. Anyway, here are the current candidates at third base.

Tommy Leach (6th, 275 points, 20 voters)

1898-1915, 2156 games, .269/.340/.370, 109 OPS+, 328 WS, 124.8 WARP 1

(Split career between 3B and CF, Thread also includes Heinie Groh)

Sean Gilman – 2: May be the most underrated candidate out there. Great career value, fine peak and played two premium defensive positions.

Mike Webber – 2: 328 Win Shares, only one MVP type season, 8 seasons 20+ Win Shares. Good peak, excellent defensive player at third and in centerfield.

Mulder & scully – 2: Great defense at third and CF - gold glove level at both. A key player in one of the best defensive teams ever. Top 15 if whole career is at 3rd and top 25 in CF if whole career was there. Split the difference and he is about even with Hack and Sutton (w/o NA credit).
Top 10 in league in 1902, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1913, 1914. Rank in league/majors: 4th/5th, 14th in 1903 but 9 are outfielders, 6th t/16th t, 3rd t/7th t, 4th/9th, 7th/11th, 4th t/12th t, 4th/9th.
Best in league at 3rd: 1902, 1903, 1904. Best in majors: 1902.
Top 3 in league in outfield: 1907, 1913, 1914. 4th by one WS in 1909.
WARP really supports how impressive his defense was.

John McGraw (7th, 273 points, 17 voters)

1891-1902, 1009 games played, .334/.466/.410, OPS+ 135, 207 WS, 76.5 WARP1

(Thread includes several others)

TomH – 2: Dominant 9 year prime. Provided huge advantage over every other MLB team at third base. Add in our shortage of 1890s infielders & shortage of pre-WWII 3Bmen, and he’s clearly “in” for me.

KJOK – 2: 20 POW, 207 Win Shares, 78 WARP1, 459 RCAP & .727 OWP in 4,909 PAs. Def: AVERAGE. Was CAREER ALL-TIME OBP% leader until Ruth qualifies in 1923, EVEN adjusting for League, and is STILL #3 behind Williams and Ruth. AND he played 3B, where offensive output was generally very low. Plus led his team to 3 consecutive championships. Oh, AND at least 2nd best 3B between 1875-1900!

Bus Clarkson (18th, 177 points, 13 voters)

MLE: 1939-1956, .276/.366/.455, 123 OPS+ 343.9 WS – the AVG/OBP/SLG are from an earlier MLE that came up with 374 WS, but there wasn’t a line with the more recent version. The OPS+ was the same in both versions.

(Negro, Minor League and war credit, did play briefly in MLB but was not given much of a chance. Could be considered a SS or a 3B.)

John Murphy – 2: Looks like the best shortstop of the Forties, which is surprising to me. IMO, Eric would have to be totally off with his projections for Clarkson not to be near the top of everybody's ballot. Shave off 50 WS from his MLE and he still comfortably belongs.

Devin McCullen – 2: Parallels Elliot’s career, but with war credit he comes out ahead, and he presumably had more defensive value. The latest MLE’s didn’t boost him that much, but it was enough to move him to the upper reaches of my ballot. (Quick comparison to Sandberg – WS 344 to 346 in 800 fewer PA, OPS+ 123 to 114, 3B/SS to 2B. Even deflating the MLEs a bit, that looks pretty close to me.)

Bob Elliott (34th, 110 points, 10 voters)

1939-1953, 1978 games played, .289/.375/.440, 124 OPS+, 287 WS, 94.8 WARP1

(Also played in OF, mostly RF. Numbers may be inflated by playing during WWII)

Rob Wood – 7: good 3B mired with woeful Pirates and Braves

David Foss: 7 - Excellent 3B of the 40s and early 1950s.

Esteban Rivera: 7 - The post someone made about holding his outfield time against him was true in my case. Not as much an outfielder as I had previously thought.

Ed Williamson (40th, 80 points, 6 voters)

1878-1890, 1201 games played, .255/.332/.384, 113 OPS+, 173 WS, 81.2 WARP1

(Got credit for 27 HR in 1884 due to temporary change in scoring at home ballpark. About 1/3 of career at SS. Thread includes several others)

sunnyday2 – 2: great glove, spent 2 years at SS; led the league in games played 4 times; good bat, good enough to take unfair advantage of the short LF porch for bunches of ground-rule 2B when hitting it into the stands was a ground-rule 2B, and when they decided to call them HR, well, I don’t see how hitting it out there hurt his team, +109.5 WS over position medians

Pie Traynor (42nd, 79 points, 8 voters)

1920-1937, 1941 games, .320/.362/.435, 107 OPS+, 274 WS, 91.3 WARP1

DanG – 7: Rated by many baseball’s all-time best thirdbasemen before the expansion era. SABR survey #70; Bill James ~#184.

Sal Bando (51st, 53 points, 4 voters)

1966-1981, 2019 games played, .254/.352/.408, 119 OPS+, 283 WS, 86.5 WARP1

Brent – 6: Over 10 seasons (1968-76, 78) he averaged 157 games (162-adj) with an OPS+ of 128.

Al Rosen (61st, 45 points, 4 voters)

1947-1956, 1044 games played, .285/.384/.495, OPS+ 137, 185 WS, 58.0 WARP1

sunnyday2 – 8: the #1 WS peak of anybody in my 30 hitters, and +11 WS per year versus position median; basically, Albert Belle with a glove

Buddy Bell (70th, 35 points, 2 voters)

1972-1989, 2405 games played, .279/.341/.406, OPS+ 109, 301 WS, 97.0 WARP1

Chris Cobb – 3: Better than I realized. Both WARP and WS love his defense, and he’s on the good side of the in-out line by both metrics in my system. Very similar to the recently and deservedly elected Nettles.

Carlos Moran (89th (Tie), 13 points, 1 voter)

MLE: 1899-1913, 1734 equiv. games, .299/.385/.337, OPS+ 112, 272.2 WS

(Played in Cuba and for several years in the Negro Leagues.)

Brent – 8: Please check out the analysis on the Carlos Morán thread.

Ron Cey (101st (Tie), 6 points, 1 voter)

1971-1987, 2073 games played, .261/.354/.445, OPS+ 121, 280 WS, 99.6 WARP1

Tiboreau – 15: The best ballplayer from those great Dodgers infields. He had a nice peak, although it was nothing earth-shattering, had a nice career, although it wasn’t Ryan-like; however, the combination of the two plus the position is enough to make my ballot.

Matt Williams (2009 New Candidate)

1987-2003, 1866 games played, .268/.317/.489, OPS+ 112, 241 WS, 79.2 WARP1

(No thread at this point in time.)

George Kell (Received votes in 2007)

1943-1957, 1795 games played, .306/.367/.414, OPS+ 111, 229 WS, 69.4 WARP1

(Played during wartime, but not particularly well.)

Bill Madlock (Received votes in 2007)

1973-1987, 1806 games played, .305/.365/.442, OPS+ 123, 242 WS, 64.4 WARP1

Tim Wallach (Received votes in 2003)

1980-1996, 2212 games played, .257/.316/.416, OPS+ 102, 248 WS, 82.5 WARP1

Levi Meyerle (Received votes in 2001)

1871-1877, 307 games played, .356/.360/.479, OPS+ 162, 24.8 WARP1

(Played before start of NA, and a few years in the International Association after leaving the NL. Thread includes several others)

Lave Cross (Devin’s consideration set)

1887-1907, 2275 games played, .292/.328/.382, OPS+ 100, 278 WS, 114.1 WARP1

(Thread includes several others)

Ray Dandridge

MLE: 1934-1952, .282/.317/.374, OPS+ 89, 265.0 WS. As with Clarkson, the WS total is from a revision of the MLEs.

(Negro and minor league credit.)

Eddie Yost (NHBA Candidate)

1946-1962, 2109 games played, .254/.394/.371, OPS+ 109, 267 WS, 65.5 WARP1
   117. ronw Posted: October 28, 2008 at 09:54 PM (#2998130)
It is interesting to me that Lave Cross (114.1) is the #1 3B (by WARP1) in the history of MLB until you get to Eddie Mathews, and he is still #6 all-time. Cross's WARP1 beats those of electees Darrell Evans (110.2), Wade Boggs (111.8), Heinie Groh (109.5), Harmon Killebrew (109.1), Jimmy Collins (107.7), Frank Baker (106.5), Dick Allen (105.5), Graig Nettles (100.7), Deacon White (99.8), Stan Hack (99.0), Ken Boyer (96.1), and Ezra Sutton (84.9).

That's right, only Mike Schmidt (156.7) Mathews (143.6), Brooks Robinson (129.8), George Brett (122.1), and Ron Santo (115.5) have a higher WARP1 than Lave Cross.

The WARP2 translation (and Dan R's use of it) kill Lave, as he drops to #29 all-time at 3B (including Allen and Killebrew for this calculation), with his 80.7 WARP2 below every HOMer except White (65.5) and Sutton (46.1).

Lave Cross gets no votes, probably because of his 100 OPS+ and .254 eqA2, but he did have an extraordinarily long career, played in the competitive 1890s, and by all accounts was an outstanding fielder, even playing catcher at the beginning of his career. Could Lave Cross be closer to Brooks Robinson (104 OPS+, .263 eqA2) than we realize?
   118. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 28, 2008 at 10:27 PM (#2998157)
No. His high score is simply due to BP's goofball FRAR system, which posits that replacement infielders in the old days would have been like 50 runs below average a year. If you just use BRAA + FRAA + some reasonable constant (say 20 BP runs per 162 games at third base for replacement level), Cross's total will drop far more than those of any of the electees you name.

I make no use of BP's WARP, in any version, other than to steal their FRAA as part of my fielding wins, and the stat's name.
   119. Chris Fluit Posted: October 29, 2008 at 03:34 PM (#2998588)
No. Robinson crushes Cross offensively in terms of both consistency and quality. Just using OPS+ for a quick offensive measurement.

Robinson had 16 consecutive seasons in which his OPS+ was 90 or higher
He had 10 seasons over 100, and another 6 over 90

Cross' best streak was 6, followed by another at 5.
He had 8 seasons over 100, and another 5 over 90, for a total of 13.
So he's clearly trailing Robinson in the number of good offensive years and the consistency of those years. A big reason for that is that in the midst of his career, Cross had three seasons of OPS+ of 76, 74 and 71 when he was pretty much playing below replacement level as a hitter. Cross needs all three of those seasons over 90 and two of them over 100 in order to get close to Robinson.

Then, there's the question of their best years. Robinson's top five OPS+ is 145-126-124-124-123. Cross' is 132-130-123-121-114. Cross does take the second-best year. But Robinson takes the other four, with big margins in year one (145 to 132) and year five (123 to 114).

Plus, there's also the question of context. Robinson played in the AL in the '60s so he benefited from expansion. Yet his biggest years did not coincide directly with expansion ('64-'68). But Cross extended his career by jumping to the AL at its inception and two of his best years came against clearly weaker competition (123 and 121 in '01 and '02 AL).
   120. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 29, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2998673)
Wasn't the '02 AL the stronger league? I thought the Pirates were able to beat up on the rest of the league so much because all the non-Pittsburgh stars had jumped to the Al.
   121. DL from MN Posted: October 29, 2008 at 05:09 PM (#2998688)
I have Lave Cross in my top 30 probably because I am giving him a bunch of credit for being a catcher in that era.
   122. Paul Wendt Posted: October 16, 2010 at 05:55 PM (#3665749)
Does it make sense to revive these "Positional Threads" (their listing at Important Links)? I'm not sure but here I am.

Esteban Rivera posted in "2011 Ballot Discussion",
>>I'll talk about this more in-depth when I get around to the Live Ball Era tables, but it surprises me how the thirdbasemen of this era just drop compared to the previous eras in terms of WAR's evaluation (or most metrics for that matter). It almost seems as if we are not calibrating the third base's positional adjustments on the spectrum accurately for this time period.
<<


The reference is to career ratings, I suppose.

Suppose baseball conventionally, perhaps efficiently, used the thirdbase role in ways that generated few of the most valuable careers among primary 3b, and few primary 3b among the greatest players?

It may be relevant that there were no very long careers fielding thirdbase before the 1950s. Eddie Mathews and Brooks Robinson were the earliest of the nine players with 13 or more full seasons equivalent games at the position. (This count does not cover the Negro Leagues or recent/active players such as Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen, but those two are shy of 12 full seasons.)

In the 1890s, Hall of Merit shortstops Bill Dahlen, George Davis, and Bobby Wallace all played third before settling at short. --like Cal Ripken without the late return to third.
   123. Paul Wendt Posted: October 16, 2010 at 05:55 PM (#3665750)
Full seasons fielding 3b, career leaders organized by debut decade

11.83 Ezra Sutton
12.08 Arlie Latham, 11 Billy Nash
11.99 Lave Cross, 11 Jimmy Collins
(1900)
----- 10.95 Larry Gardner, 10 Frank Baker, 9 Jimmy Austin
----- _8.97 Milt Stock, 8 Heinie Groh, 8 Jimmy Dykes

(1920)
12.09 Pie Traynor
11.88 Stan Hack, 11 Pinky Higgins
12.97 Eddie Yost
17.95 Brooks Robinson, 13 Eddie Mathews, 11 Ken Boyer
15.26 Graig Nettles, 13 Ron Santo, 12 Aurelio Rodriguez, 11 Sal Bando
13.96 Mike Schmidt, 13 Buddy Bell, 12 Ron Cey
14.41 Gary Gaetti, 14 Wade Boggs, 13 Tim Wallach, 12 Robin Ventura, 11 Terry Pendleton, 11 Matt Williams
   124. Paul Wendt Posted: October 16, 2010 at 06:14 PM (#3665755)
Those are all of the players with 11 full seasons fielding 3b (prior to 1990), arranged by debut decade. For the 1900s and 1910s debuts, when there were no 11-season men, I have listed the three leaders. Bold highlights all the 13-season men.

The exceptionally limited editorial capability is maddening here, so good night.
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