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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wally Schang

Gee Wally, why are acting so goofy?

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 12, 2004 at 12:40 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 09, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4668579)
With so much about pitch framing, plate blocking, and game calling out there right now, does anyone know of good narrative sources to research these? I'm particularly interested in Schang, Bresnahan, Lombardi, Tenace, Freehan, Campy, and Parrish.

   2. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4674084)
The pitch framing is based on PitchFX data so there won't be any historical information.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 22, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4675467)
DL, right, that's why I'm looking for narrative sources. There's not much in the usual omnibus spots (wiki, BR bullpen, SABR bioproj, NBJHBA, etc...), so if anyone knows any other more specific sources, I'd be much obliged!
   4. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 26, 2015 at 08:49 PM (#4888310)
Wow, I was hoping for a little more discussion here!

Schang is a player whose career mostly pre-dates my system but who received Hall-of-Merit votes in the most recent election, so I think I need to figure out what to do with him. My system relies on Retrosheet play-by-play data, and they've actually released partial data for four seasons of Schang's career: 1922, 1925, 1927, and 1931. These end up missing Schang's prime but his 1922 and 1927 seasons actually turn out to have been among the most "typical" seasons of his career. In 1922, Schang had an OPS+ of 111 and in 1927, he had an OPS+ of 121 vs. a career OPS+ of 121. If you add up his BB-Ref WAR for those two seasons (5.5) and adjust his games played those two seasons (221) up to his career total (1,842), that produces 45.8 WAR. BB-Ref shows Schang with 45.0 career WAR.

So, as a starting point, I thought it might be worth looking at what my system thinks of his 1922 and 1927 seasons and project that up to his full career. I only have data for 189 games for Schang those two seasons, but he looks quite good in those 189 games.

I tried to apply the weights that I did in my 2-part Discussion Thread post (comments #62 and #63, I believe) to Schang's 1922 and 1927 seasons and then blow that up for his full career. I gave him a pro-rated catcher bonus based on his having played 78% of his career games at C (according to BB-Ref), adjusted his seasons up to 162 games. For his 32 career World Series games, he batted .287/.362/.404 vs. a career batting line of .283/.393/.401. For simplicity, I assumed his World Series record would be proportional to his career; it's hard to say if that's reasonable or not.

Anyway, doing all of that, I think Schang ends up right around Jeff Kent (and probably Ben Taylor) on my ballot, probably somewhere around #10 or so. Looking at my numbers, that puts Schang in between Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez among catchers. My system isn't crazy about Ivan Rodriguez (he'll make my ballot when the time comes, but I suspect he'll be elected without me putting him in an "elect me" slot), and Carter ends up quite a bit better than Schang. The next two catchers below Rodriguez on my list are Ted Simmons and Jorge Posada, who are perhaps better comps to Wally Schang.

My system actually thinks fairly highly of Schang's defense, especially considering that the only four seasons were his age-32, 35, 37, and 41 seasons. My system doesn't take any explicit measure of pitch-calling or pitch-framing, and I don't know what Schang's reputation was in that regard (since nobody answered Dr. Chaleeko's almost-year-old question), but he did play for 6 pennant winners and was still catching a majority of his team's games at age 39, so I can't imagine his reputation was terrible.

Finally, I am perhaps not as well versed in this period of history as others (and/or I'm forgetting the obvious answer to this question), but during the 1910's and 1920's, who would have been the best catcher in MLB (and/or in the Negro Leagues)? Because being the best catcher in baseball is something that my system and I would tend to look very favorably upon, which could bump Schang even higher on my ballot (FWIW, he rates as the best catcher in the AL in my system in both 1922 and 1927). FYI, here's Wally Schang's player page from my website.

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