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Friday, February 18, 2005

Wally Berger

Wally Berger

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 18, 2005 at 03:08 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 18, 2005 at 03:12 AM (#1151543)
hot topics
   2. DavidFoss Posted: February 18, 2005 at 04:24 AM (#1151687)
One of the more underrated players in history.

Braves Field was a pitchers paradise in the 1930's. I know his numbers will be park-adjusted, but sometimes extreme parks have strange effects on players. Anyone have any home-road splits on him?

The Braves were mostly an average ballclub with Wally, but they did have the one awful year in 1935 where Berger was the lone bright spot. A rare McKechnie failure that year.

Only ~5600 PA's in 7-8 full seasons, though. I gotta rank him below Averill. Probably won't make my ballot.
   3. Michael Bass Posted: February 18, 2005 at 07:23 AM (#1152061)
Nice player. Not gonna make my ballot, but a top 50 type.
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 18, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1153116)
Two cents on Berger, here's a little comparison to his most similar HOM-eligible CFs (as I see them)

Win Shares prorated to 162 schedule

NAME.....3....5.....10....15....CAREER
BERGER...105..160...252...254...254
=========================
WILSON...103..160...231...236...236
SEYMORE..99...153...258...294...294
AVERILL..98...154...282...295...295
THOMAS...93...151...275...284...284
MILAN....92...140...241...285...285
STAHL....93...140...232...232...232
GRIFFIN..88...137...245...284...284

His peak looks just like Duffy's and Roush's, but they've got prime, extended prime, and well, Wally doesn't:

BERGER...105..160...252...254...254
ROUSH....102..158...264...322...322
DUFFY....106..166...289...336...337

A player in the future who sits squarely between newcomers Berger and Averill will be Larry Doby

BERGER...105..160...252...254...254
DOBY.....102..160...270...282...282
AVERILL..98...154...282...295...295

Of course, this total does not include Doby's NgL time, nor any war credit if appropriate.

Looking into the corner infielders and 1Bs for other matches....

BERGER...105..160...252...254...254
=========================
Chance...103..154...231...262...262
Veach....101..156...256...256...286
Thompsn..98...151...255...285...285
Terry....98...157...272...292...292
Youngs...95...147...221...221...221
Manush...95...146...248...299...300
Tiernan..93...154...264...296...296
Hartsel..93...147...234...241...241

Looking ahead, some similar future candidates

BERGER...105..160...252...254...254
=========================
BELLE....105..163...251...257...257
MURCER...101..147...245...279...279
HONDO....102..155...261...298...298

This suggests to me that Berger's going to be comfortably within the HOVG unless there's some untold and compelling story of why he didn't make the majors until age 24 (but was an immediate starter and star).
   5. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: February 20, 2005 at 12:22 AM (#1154796)
Just ran Berger through the Win Shares part of my system. His peak is roughly equal to that of Hack Wilson, but he has a better prime and peak. had he been eligible for 1945 he would have been around #25 or so, i.e. Joe Sewell territory. That's right FOJS, I have your boy as equal to Wally Berger.

With a very strong class this year, I think that Berger will be around #30.

Still have yet to look at WARP and my other adjustments, however.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: February 20, 2005 at 01:46 AM (#1154931)
from 'the library'


"Berger had torn up the Pacific Coast League with Los Angeles in 1929, establishing a club record with 40 HR, but he was the property of the Cubs, who in 1930 had the only all-100 RBI outfield ever, with Riggs Stephenson, Hack Wilson, and Kiki Cuyler."

» November 14, 1929: The Braves send OF George Harper, P Art Delaney, and cash to Los Angeles (PCL) for OF Wally Berger.

"He had success with curveball pitchers, but his nemesis was Carl Hubbell, whose screwball would upset Berger's timing for several games."

After his league-leading performances of 1935 (34 HR, 130 RBI), Berger suffered a shoulder injury in 1936. It worsened in 1937, when he was traded to the Giants, and he saw limited duty before being sent to the Reds, for whom he batted .307, in May 1938. Relegated to part-time play again in 1939, he was released by the Phillies in May 1940."
   7. Kelly in SD Posted: February 21, 2005 at 09:49 AM (#1157148)
Berger Info:

Minor League stats from Dagguerotypes
year Gms ABs RNs Hit 2B 3B HR RBI AVG. SLG.
1927 092 361 073 139 21 08 24 xxx .385 .687
1927 014 063 007 023 02 00 03 xxx .365 .540
1928 138 535 094 175 34 07 20 094 .327 .529
1929 199 744 170 249 41 05 40 166 .335 .565

1927: started with Pocatello in the Utah-Idaho League before moving to Los Angeles of the PCL
1928: Los Angeles
1929: Los Angeles

led the Utah-Idaho League in Average.

Win Shares Best National League Outfielders and Berger during his career.
1930: 26, Tied for 6th outfielder in NL with Paul Waner. Wilson 35, Babe Herman 32, Cuyler 29, Klein and Ott 28.
1931: 31, Best outfielder in NL, 3rd highest in Majors behind Ruth and Simmons. Best player in the National League
1932: 26, 5th outfielder in NL. Ott, O'Doul 33, Waner 32, Klein 31.
1933: 36, Best outfielder in Majors, Best player in National League
1934: 33, Second best outfielder in Majors behind Ott 38
1935: 21, 7th best outfielder in National League
1936: 23, Tied for 7th best outfielder in NL with J White.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 1933.
He finished 6th in 1935.

Black Ink: 9
Home Runs once, in 1935. RBI once, in 1935. Games once, in 1931. Strikeouts once, in 1933.
Grey Ink: 103
10 straight top 10s in homeruns. 6 top 10s in SLG, total bases, extrabase hits.

Career Numbers:
.300 / .359 / .522. He walked less than Averill, but had more isolated power.
299 doubles, 242 homers, 809 runs, 898 RBI, 956 runs created or 114 per 162 games.
54th highest SLG. 88th highest aOPS+. 83rd highest OPS.
Defensively, win shares sees him as an A+ centerfielder. He wins the gold glove 4 times: 1931 when he has the most defensive win shares of an outfielder; 1932; 1933 - best in NL; and 1936.
   8. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: February 21, 2005 at 03:34 PM (#1157253)
It seems by Kelly's #'s that Berger had better Minor League numbers than Averill. Averill had two realy good seasons with a so-so one sandwiched in between. Berger had three really good seasons. Should Berger get credit for these?
   9. Brent Posted: February 28, 2005 at 04:47 AM (#1169516)
Here are MLEs for Wally Berger. The methodology is the same as I've developed for Arlett and Averill. I’ve taken Berger's PCL record from post # 7 by Kelly from SD and ignored his record in the Utah-Idaho League.

The estimated run environment for Los Angeles was pretty high—20.6 percent above the major league average for 1927, 1.5 percent below for 1928, and 12.8 percent above for 1929. Wrigley Field in Los Angeles was apparently a hitters’ park. For fielding win shares I’ve used his major league value, 3.42 fWS per 1000 innings. I’ve made the latest adjustments for undercounting of AB and overcounting of bWS that are described in a recent post on the Arlett thread (# 97).

Year Age Gms ABs Rns Hits 2B 3B HR RBIs BB Avg OBA SLG RC
1927 21 011 0048 004 015 01 00 02 000 003 .313 .353 .458 008
1928 22 111 0438 066 133 26 04 14 066 033 .304 .352 .477 075
1929 23 152 0564 099 167 28 02 23 097 048 .296 .351 .475 096
Total xx 274 1050 169 315 55 06 39 163 084 .300 .352 .475 179

And here are his estimated batting, fielding, and total win shares:

Year BWS fWS WS
1927 01.6 0.3 02
1928 15.3 3.4 19
1929 16.7 4.7 21
Total 33.7 8.4 42

It looks like the inflated run environment of LA’s Wrigley Field takes a lot of air out of Berger’s raw 1929 PCL statistics. Still, he had two quality seasons in the PCL to his credit.

I know that Gadfly is going to say that the low MLE batting averages for Berger (relative to his major league totals, which were put up in a pitchers’ park) are more evidence that the difference in quality between the PCL and the majors was narrower than used in my estimates. I agree, but I continue to work on a larger research project that will include evidence from a larger number of players. I’m interested by Chris’s latest work on MLEs for the Negro Leagues and hope to do something comparable for the PCL.
   10. jimd Posted: February 28, 2005 at 03:57 PM (#1170272)
Wrigley Field in Los Angeles was apparently a hitters’ park.

It was the home park for the Los Angeles Angels in their first season (1961). It's BPF/PPF: 111, 112. While that's thirty years later, it does give a hint.
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 28, 2005 at 04:36 PM (#1170330)
Was Berger principally a centerfielder in the minors?
   12. Paul Wendt Posted: March 01, 2005 at 06:51 PM (#1172959)
One of the more underrated players in history.
. . .
The Braves were mostly an average ballclub with Wally, but they did have the one awful year in 1935 where Berger was the lone bright spot.


and one of the more WS-underrated players in history. Win Shares implies that Berger was over the hill in 1935. Those Braves underperformed Pythagorus by 25% (deficit 12 of 50 wins), a huge underperformance for such a bad team, it seems to me.

It was a disastrous year economically, perhaps partly thanks to the newly competitive Yawkey Red Sox (renovated Fenway Park; acquired Ferrell, Grove & others). At a SABR meeting early in this millenium, someone presented on the Braves trying to schedule games in Maine and New Brunswick.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: March 05, 2005 at 04:52 PM (#1182143)
Some of this is on my ballot, but here's a comparison of the seven-year primes of Berger vs Sisler, OPS+s:

Sisler 181 170 167 161 154 140 132
Berger 172 147 144 142 137 131 120

Then come your adjustments for position, era, league, etc.
I like Sisler, so this doesn't kill him with me. But it may effectively eliminate Berger for a lot of other voters.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: April 22, 2005 at 03:12 PM (#1279273)
   15. Carl G Posted: April 22, 2005 at 03:25 PM (#1279307)
They also overperforming in all of the other 6 full seasons he was there by a total of 23 games. I think he got a net bonus as far as that aspect of WS is concerned. He probably does deserve a bonus in '35 because thats 36 WS that didn't get handed out to that team, but he would have to be docked slightly in each of his other full seasons too.
   16. Carl G Posted: April 22, 2005 at 03:26 PM (#1279313)
I was referencing Paul Wendt's #12 post.
   17. Paul Wendt Posted: April 23, 2005 at 05:13 AM (#1281551)
Excuse me. I did mean that "Berger was the lone bright spot and one of the more WS-underrated players in history" in 1935, not for his career. And CarlG indicates why he may not be WS-underrated at all, for his career.

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