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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Willie Wells

Willie Wells

Eligible in 1953.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 15, 2005 at 10:56 PM | 105 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 15, 2005 at 11:05 PM (#1339320)
Will his MLEs impress or will he do a Mackey or Bell on us?
   2. OCF Posted: May 16, 2005 at 02:56 AM (#1339573)
Did the Devil make you do it, John?
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 16, 2005 at 01:35 PM (#1339982)
Did the Devil make you do it, John?

Now, what do you mean by that, OCF? :-D
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 16, 2005 at 01:38 PM (#1339988)
Without any league stats to look at or any MLEs, just impressions, my reading of Holway and Riley indicates that Wells was truly excellent. He had the goods: power, speed, and average (no read on his walks or defense yet). I expect that he'll translate very well, but his conversions will require careful attention to seasons outside of the US.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: May 16, 2005 at 01:58 PM (#1340012)
I hope that in evaluating Wells we can make some comparisons to the other NeL SSs still in the pool, meaning Moore and Lundy. Let's make sure the Devil is really the best NeL SS candidate before we go overboard on him.

And keep in mind, there is at least some reason to think that the competition in the 1940s was not as strong as in the '20s and '30s, what with the Mexican League luring so many NeL stars south of the border in the period of '37-'48ish.
   6. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 16, 2005 at 02:36 PM (#1340083)
Sunny,

Are you inferring that maybe our conversion rates for players of this period (Gibson?) are actually too high because of the MxL influence? Should we look into changing the conver rates that we use? Not that this has any impact on Gibson since he could lose about 30 points of OPS+ and still be a first ballot HOMer.
   7. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2005 at 02:40 PM (#1340091)
The wild card with Wells will be park factors: he was a teammate with Mule Suttles and Cool Papa Bell in St. Louis, and that inflates his batting numbers a good deal.

Nevertheless, I think he will translate as a better hitter than Lundy (pending data on plate discipline, of course). Probably not quite as good as Moore, but of course he has it all over Moore for career.

I'll also note that the early 1920s, at least in the east, were probably also weaker than 1923-1936, so Dobie Moore's peak may be a little higher than it looks. Not a lot, but a little.

I'll have Holway's data available for inspection later today.
   8. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2005 at 02:46 PM (#1340099)
Are you inferring that maybe our conversion rates for players of this period (Gibson?) are actually too high because of the MxL influence? Should we look into changing the conver rates that we use?

I won't answer for what sunnyday2 was implying, but, in my view, I'll say that two seasons, 1940-41, might be especially low because of the large number of NeL stars playing in Mexico. Of course, those are the seasons that Gibson is there, so his Negro-League only stats aren't affected in those seasons.

In general, there is strong reason to believe that from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, competition in the NeLs was stronger than it was before or after. Since the conversion factors that we are using are based off of 1944-48, the players of the 1940s would not need to be lowered (with the exception of 1940-41 for the MeL factor and of course war discounts for 1943-45 [these were included in the conversion factor calculations], but the players of the 1925-1935 would need to be raised somewhat for that period.
   9. Carl G Posted: May 16, 2005 at 02:55 PM (#1340114)
When does wells become eligible?
   10. Tiboreau Posted: May 16, 2005 at 03:04 PM (#1340131)
Willie Wells will be eligible in 1953, which will be an interesting year. Redding, Hack, Herman, Greenberg, Lombardi, and fellow Negro Leaguer Bill Byrd are eligible then as well.
   11. Tiboreau Posted: May 16, 2005 at 03:05 PM (#1340133)
Red Ruffing, that is . . .
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: May 16, 2005 at 03:10 PM (#1340150)
What Chris said, yes, that is what I meant.

If one is looking at Chris' MLEs, of course, one would want to boost the '25-'35 guys in order to maintain MLE.

If one is looking at raw data and only interested in comparing NeLers, then it really doesn't matter if you boost '25-'35 or discount '37-'47.

The main point is to remember that Willie Wells' raw numbers compared to Lundy's and Moore's will be more favorable to Wells than it should be.

Ditto pitchers of the R. Brown era vs. the W. Bell era.
   13. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2005 at 03:20 PM (#1340175)
The main point is to remember that Willie Wells' raw numbers compared to Lundy's and Moore's will be more favorable to Wells than it should be.

Certainly due to park effects, less certainly due to competition levels.

Dobie Moore 1917-1925
Dick Lundy 1918-1937
Willie Wells 1924-48

Wells' prime (the first half of his career) falls into the high competition period.
   14. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2005 at 03:23 PM (#1340183)
Willie Wells Seasonal and Career Data, from Holway

Teams: 24-31 Stl Stars, 32 Det/Homestead/KC, 33-35 Cole’s Am Giants, 36-39 Newark Eagles, 40-41 Mexico, 42 Newark, 43-44 Mexico, 45 Newark, 46 several teams

1924 .263 for Stl; ss
1925 .270 for Stl; 14 sb (5th); ss
4-27 in playoff vs. KC
1926 .371 for Stl; 4th in ba, 23 hr/550 (5th); ss, all-star
1927 .380 for Stl; 5th in ba, 23 hr (1st), 34 hr/550 (3rd), 20 2b (2nd); ss, all-star, MVP
1928 .353 for Stl; 17 hr (4th), 32 hr/550 (5th), 22 2b (2nd); ss, all-star
8-25 in playoff vs. Chi Am Giants
1929 .373 for Stl; 4th in ba, 27 hr (1st), 44 hr/550 (2nd), 21 sb; ss, all-star, MVP
8-16 in World Series vs. Homestead
9-22 vs. major-league competition
57-177 in Cuban play
1930 .403 for Stl; ba 2nd, 15 hr (1st), 29 hr/550 (2nd), 32 2b (1st), 17 sb (2nd); ss, all-star, MVP
1931 .263 for Stl; 5 hr (2nd), 30 hr/550 (1st); ss
3-10 vs. major-leageu competition
1932 .330 for Det, .255 for KC; 14 2b (2nd), 3 3b (4th), 7 sb (3rd); ss
2-3 vs. major-league competition (home run)
1933 .265 for Chi Am Giants; ss
1934 .264 for Chi Am Giants; 10 2b (3rd), 8 3b (1st), 3 sb (4th); ss
3-15 in playoff vs. Phi Stars
1935 .270 for Chi Am Giants; 7 sb (2nd); ss
2-4 vs. major league pitching (backed by semipro teams)
1936 .237 for Newark Eagles; ss
30-88 in Cuban Play
1937 .320 for Newark Eagles; ss
0-18 in World Series vs. Chi Am Giants
36-126 in Cuban Play
1938 .404 for Newark Eagles; ba 1st, 6 hr (5th), 34 hr/550 (3rd), 4 2b (5th), 3 sb (1st); ss, all-star
36-117 in Cuban Play
1939 .355 for Newark Eagles; ba 5th, 3 sb (1st); ss, all-star
1-14 in playoffs
6-20 on Homestead’s Cuban tour
63-192 in Cuban Play
1940 In Mexico
117-330, .345
1941 In Mexico, 140-403, .347; ss
In Puerto Rico, .378, 17 2b (2nd)
1942 .358 for Newark Eagles; ba 3rd, 6 hr (3rd), 24 hr/550 (3rd), 5 sb (1st); ss, all-star
1943 In Mexico
1944 In Mexico and .500 for NY Black Yankees; ss
1945 .216 for Newark Eagles; ss and manager

Career
1306-3981, .328
138 hr, 20/550 ab
41-116, .353 vs. major-league competition
Mean avg. 316
   15. Gary A Posted: May 16, 2005 at 05:10 PM (#1340417)
1928 Willie Wells
NNL St. Louis Stars

Batting
*-led league
G-82 (team 83)
AB-326
H-119
D-28*
T-6
HR-23*
R-85*
W-28
HP-6
SH-7
SB-14
AVE-.365* (NNL .278)
OBA-.425* (NNL .333)
SLG-.699* (NNL .384)

St. Louis park factors apply, of course. Check out the Suttles thread for the whole St. Louis lineup in 1928.

Fielding-shortstop
G-81*
DI-713.7*
PO-186*
A-280*
E-23
RF-5.88 (NNL ss 5.59)
FPCT-.953* (NNL ss .922)

St. Louis shortstops (almost all Wells) accounted for 31.2% of the team's assists (minus catchers and of). The NNL figure is 30.2%. Wells averaged 3.53 assists per game; the league average was 3.32. The team's OBA allowed was .334 (league .333), and St. Louis pitchers struck out 10.4% of batters, compared to a league average of 10.1%. In other words, although this isn't a systematic analysis, it looks like there aren't any extreme biases that could affect Wells's fielding stats, at least his assists.
   16. Gary A Posted: May 16, 2005 at 05:22 PM (#1340448)
I don't have time right now to do a real groundball/flyball ratio analysis, but here's a quickie version, if you buy that pitcher's range factors (almost all assists) generally reflect his groundball tendencies (I think Bill James has said something like this, or maybe it was Rob Neyer).

Anyway, if you buy that, St. Louis pitchers' RF was 2.53, with the league figure for pitchers being 2.89. This is the lowest figure in the league (the Bacharachs on their western tour come in at 2.59, and Birmingham has a 2.70). This would be an indication that the St. Louis staff was a flyball staff.
   17. Chris Cobb Posted: May 16, 2005 at 05:42 PM (#1340507)
Wells' walk rate per AB+BB in 1928 is slightly higher than league average, which isn't bad for a 23-year old.

I'd expect that his Mexican League stats, from his 35, 36, and 38 seasons to show an above-average walk rate. Let's see if that is borne out . . .

I haven't worked out playing time yet for Wells, so I haven't done regressions, and I also haven't substituted Holway's stats for Macmillan stats where they represent a larger body of data, I don't have Mexican league stats yet (anybody able to post those), and I won't project OBPs until I have the MeL data, but the very first pass through the MLEs makes Wells look pretty much in the Cronin/Appling class as a hitter: from 1926-46, he's at .298/.455 ba/sa with at least a decent walk rate. Cronin was .301/.468 and Appling .310/.398. Cronin and Appling were in higher offensive contexts; Appling had _great_ plate discipline. Wells' career length is probably closer to Appling's than to Cronin's.

There's a lot more fine-tuning to be done, and Wells' career rates will almost certainly drop in the regression process because his current stats are weighted towards the 1920s (2-3X more games recorded per season than for the 1930s), but early returns suggest a solid but not inner-circle HoMer. I'd guess he'll be in close competition with Dickey, Greenberg, Suttles, Beckwith, and maybe Ruffing for election in 1953.
   18. Gary A Posted: May 16, 2005 at 08:58 PM (#1340937)
Willie Wells, Mexican League

Yr--G---AB---H--D-T-HR---R-RBI-BB-SO-HP-SH-SB-AVE-OBA-SLG
40-084-339-117-30-2-03-095--57-35-21--3-06-17-345-411-472
41-100-403-140-29-6-09-102--77-57-20--1-07-14-347-430-516
43-087-319-094-15-4-04-041--51-44-11--2-06-10-295-384-404
44-083-293-086-13-3-10-063--52-65-11--1-10-09-294-423-461

Totals
G-354
AB-1354
H-437
D-87
T-15
HR-26
R-301
RBI-237
BB-201
SO-63
HP-7
SH-29
SB-50
AVE-.323
OBA-.413
SLG-.467
   19. OCF Posted: May 17, 2005 at 04:43 PM (#1343252)
A question; where were the Mexican League teams of this time located. Knowing the effect that altitude has on baseball, I'd be interesting in knowing how the venues split between low altitude (e.g., Veracruz), high altitude (e.g., Monterrey, Guadalajara), and insanely high altitude (e.g., Mexico City).
   20. Chris Cobb Posted: May 17, 2005 at 06:34 PM (#1343510)
Willie Wells MLEs

1924-1929 Major-League Environment
1930-1948 National League Environment

1941 Mexican League converted at .90/.82; other MeL seasons at .87/.76

Year Team  EqG   PA    BB  Hits TB   BA  OBP   SA
(1924 Stl  120   480   32  105  144 .236 .287 .322)
(1925      140   560   41  133  189 .257 .311 .365)
1926       138   552   44  156  232 .308 .364 .457
1927       153   643   55  184  293 .313 .372 .498
1928       152   638   56  179  311 .307 .367 .534
1929       154   647   63  178  311 .306 .373 .534
1930       137   575   58  180  293 .348 .414 .567
1931       130   546   57  141  230 .289 .364 .470
1932 KC*   123   517   55  127  197 .276 .354 .427
1933 Chi   146   613   67  151  204 .276 .355 .373
1934       137   575   65  136  202 .266 .348 .396
1935       143   601   69  147  205 .277 .360 .386
1936 Nwk   115   483   57  115  162 .270 .355 .380
1937       141   592   70  149  189 .285 .369 .361
1938       145   609   72  175  232 .326 .406 .433
1939       139   584   70  162  195 .315 .397 .379
1940 MeL   135   540   51  148  180 .303 .368 .368
1941       146   584   72  159  212 .310 .395 .415
1942 Nwk   128   512   62  134  178 .298 .384 .396
1943 MeL   103   361   44   82   98 .258 .348 .311
1944 MeL**  94   276   50   58   79 .257 .392 .349
1945 NY/Nwk 83   258   29   55   66 .239 .326 .289
1946 NY/Bal 40   130   14   23   31 .202 .289 .271
(1947 Ind   40   130   13   29   36 .247 .325 .311)
(1948 Mem   30    90    9   25   31 .306 .374 .383)
Total#    2682 10836 1181 2839 4502 .294 .371 .425


*Also played for Detroit and Homestead
** Also played a few games (2 recorded) for NY Black Yankees
#Career MLE totals do not include 1924-25, 1947-48
   21. Mike Webber Posted: May 17, 2005 at 06:47 PM (#1343540)
1930 137 575 58 180 293 .348 .414 .567

Just curious, What was the league context for 1930 in the Negro Leagues; is it like 1930 in the National League where the league averave was .303?
   22. Chris Cobb Posted: May 17, 2005 at 06:57 PM (#1343568)
It was a high-offense season, especially the East. The East, if I recal correctly, has an offensive level about even with the National League. The West, the Negro National League, is high-offense in comparison to its own other seasons, but it is quite a bit below the NL, so Wells ba/sa get a 1.1/1.12 boost when they are converted to MLEs for this season.

These stats, remember, are meant to show what Wells would most likely have done in that particular season in a particular major league, so the spike in Wells' OPS will be smoothed out somewhat in his OPS+.
   23. ronw Posted: May 17, 2005 at 10:17 PM (#1344044)
Player   Pos    Begin   End     BA      OBP     SA      OPS+
Gibson   C      1931    1946    0.327   0.431   0.595   180
Suttles  1B-OF  1923    1941    0.302   0.366   0.538   137
Beckwith 3B-SS  1919    1935    0.333   0.387   0.522   137
Wilson   3B-1B  1922    1938    0.336   0.431   0.447   132
Scales H 2B-IF  1923    1938    0.292   0.392   0.440   118
Scales M 2B-IF  1923    1938    0.277   0.382   0.413   109
Bell     OF     1924    1946    0.297   0.365   0.382   100
Mackey   C      1920    1941    0.301   0.359   0.393   98
Lundy    SS     1919    1935    0.299   0.333   0.391   92
Wells    SS     1926    1946    0.294   0.371   0.425   ???


Player   Pos    Begin   End     G       PA      BB      H       TB
Gibson   C      1931    1946    1930    7837    1210    2165    3941
Suttles  1B-OF  1923    1941    2420    10163   924     2791    4967
Beckwith 3B-SS  1919    1935    1905    8010    648     2451    3847
Wilson   3B-1B  1922    1938    2352    9879    1413    2845    3789
Scales H 2B-IF  1923    1938    1986    8136    1153    2039    3072
Scales M 2B-IF  1923    1938    1986    8136    1174    1936    2876
Bell     OF     1924    1946    3230    13637   1371    3710    4665
Mackey   C      1920    1941    2255    9020    745     2493    3249
Lundy    SS     1919    1935    2212    9160    451     2600    3408
Wells    SS     1926    1946    2682    10836   1181    2839    4502


A couple of little tables showing completed MLE's to date. These numbers are pirated from various lists, and may not be completely accurate.

Notes:

1. No Martin Dihigo. He had so many undocumented seasons that no final OPS+ number was ever given.
2. Cool Papa Bell may be overstated. Chris has said that he has reduced Bell's numbers, but I couldn't find the actual reduction.
3. George Scales H is his Holway 1932-1936 estimates, Scales M is his MacMillan 1932-1936 estimates.
   24. DavidFoss Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:24 AM (#1344732)
Willie Wells

-First you have Year, Team(s), PA.
-Second you have Chris's MLE's
-Third, in parentheses, you have pitchers-removed offense context. MLB for the 20s, then NL
-Fourth, you have AVG+/OBP+/SLG+
-Lastly, is the OPS+

1924 Stl    480  0.236/0.285/0.322   (0.294/0.356/0.406)    80/ 80/ 79     59
1925 Stl    560  0.257/0.311/0.365   (0.300/0.364/0.425)    86/ 85/ 86     71
1926 Stl    552  0.308/0.362/0.457   (0.289/0.355/0.402)   107/102/114    116
1927 Stl    643  0.313/0.372/0.498   (0.292/0.355/0.406)   107/105/123    127
1928 Stl    638  0.307/0.368/0.534   (0.290/0.355/0.412)   106/104/130    133
1929 Stl    647  0.306/0.372/0.534   (0.298/0.363/0.432)   103/103/124    126
1930 Stl    575  0.348/0.414/0.567   (0.312/0.370/0.464)   112/112/122    134
1931 Stl    546  0.289/0.363/0.470   (0.285/0.344/0.403)   101/105/117    122
1932 KC*    517  0.276/0.352/0.427   (0.284/0.337/0.412)    97/104/104    108
1933 Chi    613  0.276/0.356/0.373   (0.274/0.327/0.376)   101/109/ 99    108
1934 Chi    575  0.266/0.350/0.396   (0.287/0.342/0.408)    93/102/ 97     99
1935 Chi    601  0.277/0.359/0.386   (0.286/0.341/0.407)    97/105/ 95    100
1936 Nwk    483  0.270/0.356/0.380   (0.286/0.345/0.400)    94/103/ 95     98
1937 Nwk    592  0.285/0.370/0.361   (0.280/0.342/0.397)   102/108/ 91     99
1938 Nwk    609  0.326/0.406/0.433   (0.275/0.339/0.391)   119/120/111    130
1939 Nwk    584  0.315/0.397/0.379   (0.280/0.346/0.401)   113/115/ 95    109
1940 MeL    540  0.303/0.369/0.368   (0.272/0.337/0.391)   111/109/ 94    103
1941 MeL    584  0.310/0.396/0.415   (0.266/0.337/0.375)   117/117/111    128
1942 Nwk    512  0.298/0.383/0.396   (0.256/0.328/0.356)   116/117/111    128
1943 MeL    361  0.258/0.349/0.311   (0.265/0.334/0.360)    97/105/ 86     91
1944 MeL**  276  0.257/0.391/0.349   (0.268/0.335/0.377)    96/117/ 93    109
1945 NY/Nwk 258  0.239/0.326/0.289   (0.273/0.343/0.377)    88/ 95/ 77     72
1946 NY/Bal 130  0.202/0.285/0.271   (0.263/0.338/0.368)    77/ 84/ 74     58
1947 Ind    130  0.247/0.323/0.311   (0.274/0.349/0.407)    90/ 93/ 76     69
1948 Mem     90  0.306/0.378/0.383   (0.269/0.343/0.398)   114/110/ 96    106
   25. DavidFoss Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:27 AM (#1344741)
Using 1926-46 data for Willie Wells

(omitting years Chris had in parentheses)

Counting stats (+/- 2 for rounding?)
10836 PA
9651 AB
2839 H
4100 TB

Percentages
Wells -- 0.294/0.371/0.425
Context -- (0.282/0.344/0.400)
Plusses -- 104/108/106

OPS+ = 114
   26. Michael Bass Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:29 AM (#1344749)
Not bad at all...how was his defensive reputation? The one snapshot we have above looks solid, but those can be deceiving.

Chris, are you planning to do WS for him?

Thanks to everyone contributing to this!
   27. DavidFoss Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:37 AM (#1344779)
Some similarities to Cronin there. Same strange career path with the head-scratch-inducing mid-career lull. Cronin's career rate is a little bit higher (119-114) and so are his peak rates (138/136/135 to 134/133/130). Actually its almost a cross between Cronin & Frisch.

Still need to look at baserunning and fielding of course.

Is the 1934-37 lull for real, or is it an artefact of the translation?
   28. Mike Webber Posted: May 18, 2005 at 03:01 AM (#1344833)
How was his fielding?

TINSTAAPFNeL!!!

(There Is No Such Thing As A Poor Fielding Negro Leaguer.)
   29. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2005 at 04:50 AM (#1344863)
David, thanks for the OPS+ data! Very helpful, as usual.

Is the 1934-37 lull for real, or is it an artefact of the translation?

Three factors here:

1) This is further evidence that the level of competition in the NeL was at an all-time high during the single-league environment 1932-36: the conversion factors for these seasons are very likely too low.

2) Wells played for the Chi Am Giants 33-35; the park killed his power. Those seasons are heavily park-adjusted, but it still affects his record.

3) Wells suffered a serious beaning in 1936. While according to Riley it didn't keep him out of the lineup (I have projected that it would have caused him to miss time in the majors), I infer that it affected his hitting.

How was his fielding?

The 1928 data look quite good.

Here's what Riley says: "Possessing good range, sure hands, and an accurate arm, Wells compensated for a weak arm by a quick release and knowledgeable positioning based on a studied analysis of the hitters."

My current plan for fielding win shares is to project him as a B shortstop for his career: A/A- in the early years and then a gradual decline through the B range.

How does that sound?
   30. karlmagnus Posted: May 18, 2005 at 12:33 PM (#1345032)
Not quite as good as Cronin; a good benchmark would appear to be Sewell, though Wells is a little better. Modestly the right side of the dividing line, IMHO.
   31. TomH Posted: May 18, 2005 at 12:43 PM (#1345038)
"Possessing ... sure hands, and an accurate arm"
--
if we have fielding pct compared to league avg, this should easily confirm the above.
..
I think it would be difficult to be a grade A or A- shortstop with a weak arm and merely "good" range. There seems to be a consensus that Lundy was definitely a better fielder; I don't know how the grades translate to WS, but if I were attempting to create a metric solely based on rep (no stats), I'd peg Lundy at 5-10 runs (or 7-14 plays or 25-45 OPS) better in the field than Wells. Which, given Wells better hitting and longer career, probably won't be enough to rate Lundy over Wells.
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:00 PM (#1345125)
OPS+ = 114

With his fielding, that looks like someone who will easily make my ballot.
   33. Michael Bass Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:08 PM (#1345136)

My current plan for fielding win shares is to project him as a B shortstop for his career: A/A- in the early years and then a gradual decline through the B range.


Sounds accurate to me.
   34. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:26 PM (#1345174)
"Possessing ... sure hands, and an accurate arm"
--
if we have fielding pct compared to league avg, this should easily confirm the above.


See post 15 above. He led the league SS in fielding percentage, with .953, compared to a league average of .922. This does seem to confirm these qualities. (Major-league starting shortstops averaged .944 fielding percentage in 1928, btw., so Wells was above average by that standard as well. Given that fielding conditions were surely worse in the NeL than the majors, I'd guess that he would have ranked among the leaders there:

.972 Hod Ford (career B-)
.969 Rabbit Maranville (career A+)
.963 Joe Sewell (career A- at SS)
.955 Wally Gerber (career B)

His range factor was also above average, though it did not lead the league, for a staff that was probably a fly-ball staff.

Lundy was rated at 6.19 ws/1000 defensive innings for his career.

I'm not sure what Tom's numbers mean, but, looking at WARP for 1928, a shortstop who is 10 FRAR worse that an A shorstop (6.2 ws/1000 defensive innings, i.e. Lundy), scaled to win shares, would be 5.2 ws/1000 defensive innings a B/B- shortstop.)

I'll look at some long-career shortstops with this sort of career rate and see how that scales into a typical career shape.
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:31 PM (#1345185)
The obvious career-comp for Wells is shaping up to be Luke Appling.

Appling -- 20 year career, 2422 games, 112 OPS+, 5.4 ws/1000 innings at shortstop

Wells -- 21 year-career, 2682 games, 114 OPS+, 5.2 ws/1000 innings at shortstop
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 18, 2005 at 02:35 PM (#1345196)
The obvious career-comp for Wells is shaping up to be Luke Appling.

Appling -- 20 year career, 2422 games, 112 OPS+, 5.4 ws/1000 innings at shortstop

Wells -- 21 year-career, 2682 games, 114 OPS+, 5.2 ws/1000 innings at shortstop


Better than Appling? Yup, he's a HoMer.
   37. Michael Bass Posted: May 18, 2005 at 03:29 PM (#1345327)
Plus, looking at this OPS+'s, his strongest batting years coincide with what would have been his best fielding years. This is going to make for what I would guess to be a very impressive peak.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2005 at 04:20 PM (#1345449)
two tidbits from baseballlibrary.com


In his prime, Wells's hot bat and aggressive play made him a frequent beanball target.... But he never backed off, fighting back with his bat and his spikes. "He could run and he'd move you out if you got in his way," said Hall of Famer Judy Johnson. Wells acknowledged that he was filled with a Ty Cobb type of intensity and competitiveness.


» July 4th, 1942: In the eighth inning of an 8-4 Negro League victory over the Newark Eagles at Yankee Stadium, Baltimore Elite Giants spitball ace Bill Byrd beans Eagles manager Willie Wells. Wells is carried from the field, and the incident causes him to design a batting helmet. When he steps into the batter's box Thursday he will be wearing a modified construction worker's hardhat.
   39. Chris Cobb Posted: May 18, 2005 at 04:27 PM (#1345467)
Hm.

Riley dates the beanball/construction worker's helmet to 1936.

One wonders if it happened at all.
   40. ronw Posted: May 18, 2005 at 04:35 PM (#1345480)
Updating # 23 above puts Wells between the two versions of Scales on OPS+ rank, but he is obviously above all on career except Bell.

Player   Pos    Begin   End     BA      OBP     SA      OPS+
Gibson   C      1931    1946    0.327   0.431   0.595   180
Suttles  1B-OF  1923    1941    0.302   0.366   0.538   137
Beckwith 3B-SS  1919    1935    0.333   0.387   0.522   137
Wilson   3B-1B  1922    1938    0.336   0.431   0.447   132
Scales H 2B-IF  1923    1938    0.292   0.392   0.440   118
Wells    SS     1926    1946    0.294   0.371   0.425   114
Scales M 2B-IF  1923    1938    0.277   0.382   0.413   109
Bell     OF     1924    1946    0.297   0.365   0.382   100
Mackey   C      1920    1941    0.301   0.359   0.393   98
Lundy    SS     1919    1935    0.299   0.333   0.391   92


Player   Pos    Begin   End     G       PA      BB      H       TB
Gibson   C      1931    1946    1930    7837    1210    2165    3941
Suttles  1B-OF  1923    1941    2420    10163   924     2791    4967
Beckwith 3B-SS  1919    1935    1905    8010    648     2451    3847
Wilson   3B-1B  1922    1938    2352    9879    1413    2845    3789
Scales H 2B-IF  1923    1938    1986    8136    1153    2039    3072
Wells    SS     1926    1946    2682    10836   1181    2839    4502
Scales M 2B-IF  1923    1938    1986    8136    1174    1936    2876
Bell     OF     1924    1946    3230    13637   1371    3710    4665
Mackey   C      1920    1941    2255    9020    745     2493    3249
Lundy    SS     1919    1935    2212    9160    451     2600    3408


So, how much better was Wells than Scales? It seems they were close to the same hitter, but that Wells played 21 MLE seasons to Scales' 16. Also, Wells played the more demanding defensive position. I think that Wells is a HOMer. Scales however might be a lot closer to my ballot next week.

What's strange about Scales is that he is almost never mentioned as better than contemporary 2B Newt Allen. We don't have Allen's MLE's but his preliminary numbers showed someone who wasn't close to Scales as a hitter.
   41. Michael Bass Posted: May 18, 2005 at 04:50 PM (#1345528)
What's strange about Scales is that he is almost never mentioned as better than contemporary 2B Newt Allen. We don't have Allen's MLE's but his preliminary numbers showed someone who wasn't close to Scales as a hitter.

Not too terribly surprising. Most of the Negro League players that the electorate has determined to be vastly overrated (Marcelle, Johnson, Bingo, even to a lesser extent Mackey and Bell) were considered bigtime defenders. Allen fits this mold. And most of the Negro League players we've found to be underrated were not noted for their defense (Beckwith, Wilson to name a pair). Scales fits that mold.
   42. Gary A Posted: May 18, 2005 at 05:10 PM (#1345583)
Just curious, What was the league context for 1930 in the Negro Leagues; is it like 1930 in the National League where the league averave was .303?

In the MLE thread, I estimated (using some team information) that the 1930 NNL hit 279/341/408, scoring 5.36 runs/game.
   43. sunnyday2 Posted: May 18, 2005 at 11:03 PM (#1346886)
On the whole, Willie seems to deliver. I had frankly sort of expected him to disappoint more or less according to the Cool Papa Bell model.

OTOH I would urge everybody to make at least an eyeball comparison of Wells and Bell. Not having seen Willie's OPS+ yet, they seem somewhat comparable except that Bell has almost 1,000 more hits.

I'm not a Jake Beckley fan, yet I have to wonder if we are underestimating CP. Do voters think he's not as good as Max Carey, or just unlucky in his competitive set?

1953 shapes up as one of our most interesting elections yet. Have we ever had so many solid but second tier candidates all at once, representing a variety of profiles--pitchers, hitters, MLers, NeLers...? Not sure Willie is an "elect-me," but I'm not sure he isn't.

BTW I'll just call this my Trevor Hoffman post: "Well's (and) Bell's."
   44. Gary A Posted: May 18, 2005 at 11:35 PM (#1346935)
OTOH I would urge everybody to make at least an eyeball comparison of Wells and Bell. Not having seen Willie's OPS+ yet, they seem somewhat comparable except that Bell has almost 1,000 more hits.

In #40 above, Wells gets a 114 OPS+ to Bell's 100. I'd have to say that agrees with my impression of them as hitters.

Btw, here's how they compare in stolen bases when they played for the same teams (everything from the Macmillan 8th ed. except 1928 from my research):

1924 Bell 9, Wells 2
1925 Bell 24, Wells 15
1926 Bell 23, Wells 8
1927 Bell 13, Wells 5
1928 Bell 16, Wells 14
1929 Bell 28, Wells 21
1930 Bell 15, Wells 16

In Cuba:
1928/29: Bell 17, Wells 5

Bell 145, Wells 86
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 18, 2005 at 11:43 PM (#1346963)
Was Bell leading off ahead of Wells?
   46. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 19, 2005 at 02:36 AM (#1347239)
The following is an encyclopedia article I once had to write about Wells... for whatever it's worth, probably not too much.
-----------------


Wells, Willie James (“Devil”) (b. 10 August 1906 in Austin, Texas; d. 22 January 1989 in Austin, Texas), scrappy, intelligent player in baseball’s Negro Leagues for more than two decades, who was the first shortstop in baseball history to combine spectacular fielding with home run power.

Wells was the youngest of five children born to Lonnie Wells, a pullman porter, and Cisco White, a homemaker who took in laundry to earn extra money. He grew up in Austin, a dusty frontier town which had one paved street and a population of 22,000 when he was born. As a youngster Wells frequented Austin’s Dobbs Field, where black baseball teams often played. The San Antonio Aces’ catcher, Biz Mackey (who many years later would become Wells’ teammate) took the youngster under his wing, getting him into games for free and letting him sit on the bench with the team. Wells honed his own baseball skills at Anderson High School, Austin’s segregated school for blacks. He briefly attended Sam Huston College in Austin, but left school when the St. Louis Stars, a formidable team in the Negro National League, offered him $300 per month to play professional baseball.

As a rookie in 1924 Wells struggled to hit the curveball, but after working diligently at it he eventually became one of the best curveball hitters in the game. A contact hitter who seldom struck out, Wells was fussy about the bats he used, insisting on a heavy hickory model instead of the usual white ash. A right-handed batter, he enjoyed playing in hitter-friendly Stars Park, and frequently found himself among the league leaders in batting average, doubles, home runs, and stolen bases. Though he usually batted second in the lineup, he displayed a power stroke unprecedented for a shortstop. In 1929 Wells hit 27 homers in 88 league games, setting a single-season record that would never be broken. His closest friend on the Stars was speedy outfielder James “Cool Papa” Bell, with whom he often played cards to pass the time on road trips. Led by Bell and Wells, St. Louis won championships in 1928, 1930, and 1931.

The bow-legged Wells displayed such impressive range at shortstop that, as opponent Judy Johnson noted, it “looked like he had roller skates on.” While with St. Louis Wells suffered an arm injury that hampered him for the rest of his career, but he compensated for the weak throwing arm by cutting a hole in the palm of his glove to enable him to get rid of the ball more quickly. “What he lacked in arm strength he made up for in wisdom,” teammate Monte Irvin remembered. “He was very smart about playing hitters. Very rarely would anyone hit a ball that he couldn’t get to.” After the Great Depression forced the Stars to fold in 1931, Wells drifted from team to team, eventually landing in Chicago, where he played three years for the Chicago American Giants. In 1933, with Wells’ help, Chicago won the pennant. The next year, fans voted Wells as the starting shortstop in the inaugural East-West all-star game, an annual contest in which he would eventually make eight appearances. In 1937 Wells left Chicago to join the Newark Eagles, a talented young team owned by gambler Abe Manley and his wife Effa.

Wells seemed to save his best for exhibitions against white major leaguers, batting .392 in 40 such games on record. In 1929, against a team of major league all-stars, Wells stole home on consecutive days to win both games. Though he stood just 5 feet, 8 inches and weighed 165 pounds, Wells was considered one of the toughest players in the game. He owned two sets of baseball shoes, one for regular play and one with longer, sharper spikes to intimidate infielders. His unrelenting style of play made him the target of frequent beanballs, and after getting hit in the head by Baltimore’s Bill Byrd in 1942, Wells pioneered a solution: He appeared in the next game wearing a construction hard hat. It was said to be the first time a professional player had ever worn a protective batting helmet.

In 1940, after Newark refused to meet his salary demand, Wells joined the Veracruz Blues of the Mexican League. He was an immediate hit in Mexico, where affectionate fans nicknamed him “El Diablo” (The Devil). In 1942 he rejoined Newark as player-manager, but after only a year, he returned to Mexico. “One of the main reasons I came back to Mexico is because I’ve found freedom and democracy here, something I never found in the United States,” Wells told the Pittsburgh Courier. “Not only do I get more money playing here, but I live like a king. ... I was branded a Negro in the States and had to act accordingly. Everything I did, including playing ball, was regulated by my color. They wouldn’t even give me a chance in the big leagues because I was a Negro, yet they accepted every other nationality under the sun. Well, here in Mexico, I am a man. I can go as far in baseball as I am capable of going.”

Over his four summers in Mexico, Wells batted .323 and posted a stellar .410 on-base percentage. He also spent many winters in Havana, where he became one of the best players in the history of the prestigious Cuban Winter League. Wells batted .320 over seven seasons in the league, while winning two home run titles. In 1929-30, he was named Most Valuable Player when he batted .322 to lead the underdog Cienfuegos team to its first-ever league title. Ten years later he won a second MVP trophy, batting .328 for pennant-winning Almendares.

Wells returned to Newark for a final season in 1945, again as player-manager. Wells studied opposing players meticulously to learn their tendencies, and barked orders from his position at shortstop. He also received high marks for his teaching ability, and several of the young players he mentored later became major league stars, including Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, and Don Newcombe. Wells quit Newark in 1946 after a conflict with Abe Manley, and over the next several years he spent brief periods with teams in New York, Baltimore, and Memphis, where he and his son, Willie Jr., were teammates. In 1950, along with his son, Wells went to Canada to join the Manitoba-Dakota League, an integrated independent league. In 1953, after two years managing the Winnipeg Buffaloes and two more with the Brandon (Manitoba) Greys, Wells retired from baseball.

Wells was married to Lorene Sampson and had two children, Stella and Willie, Jr. After his baseball career he settled in New York City, where he worked for 13 years in a delicatessen at Nassau and Liberty streets in Lower Manhattan. He grew weary of the city’s crime, however, and in 1973 he returned to his hometown of Austin to care for his ailing mother. He moved back into the modest home on Newton Street in which he had grown up, and passed his later years watching baseball games on television and playing dominoes at the corner barbershop. Suffering from diabetes which left him legally blind, Wells died on 22 January 1989. He was buried in Austin’s Evergreen Cemetery. Eight years after his death, on 3 August 1997, Wells was inducted posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Willie Wells was one of the most enduring and well-traveled players in baseball history, playing 30 years in five countries and countless American cities. His talent enabled him to make the entire Western Hemisphere his home. He was said to have a lifetime batting average of .332, and his slugging set the precedent for a bevy of power-hitting shortstops that includes Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken. Wells determinedly overcame the racism which barred him from the major leagues, and his intelligence and teaching ability were admired by many. “He was always there when you needed help,” one of his players, Len Pearson, remembered. “Willie Wells was a hell of a man.”

--------------------------------------------
A joint biography, Dandy, Day, and the Devil (James Riley, 1987), covers Wells’ career and those of his teammates Ray Dandridge and Leon Day. A chapter on Wells is included in the seminal work of Negro Leagues oral history, Voices From the Great Black Baseball Leagues (John Holway, 1975). A file of news clippings, correspondence, and other documents is in the archives of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York. Significant articles appeared in Austin magazine (June 1979), the Austin American-Statesman (12 May 1973, 2 January 1977, and 7 August 1977), The New York Times (23 March 1997), and The Daily Texan (9 February 1998). An obituary appears in The New York Times (25 January 1989).
   47. Gary A Posted: May 19, 2005 at 03:19 AM (#1347341)
Was Bell leading off ahead of Wells?

In 1928 he was (Bells hit first, Wells third, Suttles fourth). I'd bet that was the arrangement for many of those years.
   48. Gary A Posted: May 19, 2005 at 04:12 AM (#1347467)
Records from the California Winter League might provide some interesting comparison points among NeL hitters. Offensive levels were quite high, I think, and the overall quality of pitching the NeL hitters were facing was probably triple-A or lower (see Brewer thread for more details):

player--------G--AB---H--D--T-HR-AVE-SLG--years
N. Allen------135-552-179-35-06-04-324-431--25-31
Bankhead----080-276-096-16-09-08-351-558--32-34,44
Beckwith-----046-172-071-13-01-19-413-831--27-29
C.P. Bell-----159-596-219-31-12-16-368-540--22-45
G. Carr------197-715-240-52-17-27-336-569--15-31
Charleston--023-088-033-08-06-00-375-602--21-22
R. Dixon----139-479-156-33-07-18-326-536--25-31
S. Hughes---076-294-113-17-05-17-384-660--34-42
Mackey------272-957-350-62-17-28-366-596--20-45
D. Moore----096-377-145-28-13-13-385-631--20-25
Rogan-------130-434-157-25-05-15-362-546--20-30
Stearnes----207-754-281-39-16-56-373-690--22-36
Suttles------126-450-170-29-00-64-378-869--30-40
Wells--------146-528-159-40-06-11-301-462--24-35,44-45
J. Wilson----015-049-023-09-02-03-469-918--30-31
B. Wright----112-416-156-26-11-15-375-599--33-45

Compare Mackey to 1931, with Mackey from 1935 on:
20-31-------221-812-312-56-17-27-384-595
35-45-------051-145-038-06-00-01-262-324

Bell's CWL career was kind of spread out, with 1924/25, 33/34, and 34/35 accounting for 97 of his 159 games.

Stearnes played 17 games from 1922-24, then his CWL career went from 1926-31, and 1933-36.

Most striking are Suttles's HR hitting, his zero triples in 126 games, Wells's relatively poor CWL career, and Beckwith's hitting.
   49. Gary A Posted: May 19, 2005 at 04:17 AM (#1347485)
Mackey's overall SLG is .554, not .596.
   50. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 19, 2005 at 01:27 PM (#1348089)
At this juncture, it's hard for me to imagine putting anyone but Wells at #1 on my 1953 ballot. The Luke Appling comp seems a reasonable one, with the exception that Wells hit the occasional home run and Appling did not. That's a hell of a lot of career value; his 10,000 MLE PAs are almost as many as Greenberg and Dickey combined (13,000).
   51. David C. Jones Posted: May 19, 2005 at 03:31 PM (#1348253)
I'm with Eric. Wells will probably be at the top of my ballot in 1953. Since I don't, and won't, give war credit to anyone, the shortness of Greenberg's career hurts him.
   52. TomH Posted: May 19, 2005 at 05:16 PM (#1348438)
for those of us who do give was credit, and who recognize the difficulty of achieving career PA at catcher, the awesomeness of Dickey and Greenberg may sentence Wells to wait a year.
   53. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 19, 2005 at 05:37 PM (#1348485)
FWIW, Chris Cobb in the 1952 discussion thread rated Wells above Greenberg despite giving Greenberg war credit. I'd like to hear his thoughts on Wells vs Greenberg.
   54. Chris Cobb Posted: May 19, 2005 at 07:01 PM (#1348646)
My thoughts on Wells vs. Greenberg are not yet well-formed, and not exactly the stuff of dramatic persuasive arguments.

My rankings for 1953 are not set yet, and won't be until i actually estimate win shares for Wells.

But going on the assumption that Wells' totals will match or exceed Luke Appling's, my system will prefer Wells to Greenberg, as it prefers Appling by a narrow margin, but not so narrow a margin that Dickey doesn't slip in between the two.

I expect to see considerable disagreement over the ordering of these three players in 1953 because each one has a big variable in their value equation, which voters are going to fill in quite differently.

For Wells, it's obviously how exactly to value the Negro Leagues vs. the majors.

For Greenberg, it's how much war credit to give. I give him 4 seasons at 28 ws each plus 15 for the first half of 1945. I accept that he would have been substantially above average, but I don't feel comfortable projecting him at exactly the rate of his surrounding seasons, so I deduct 15%. Others may give more or less credit than this. I think some credit ought to be given, though Greenberg's peak is strong enough that he would merit eventual election even without it.

For Dickey, it's how to adjust catchers in relation to other players.

Depending on exactly how one handles these adjustments, these three could come out in any order, or be placed somewhere on the ballot below the top 3.

My way of handling each element ends up valuing each of the three players almost equally, so I think this is a case where differences in the systems used will be decisive in the ordering.

Maybe when I see Wells' win shares I will feel able to make a stronger argument, or a different one.
   55. David C. Jones Posted: May 19, 2005 at 10:52 PM (#1349027)
Just curious: for those who give "war credit", would you give credit to a player who was a member of a religion which required him to take a pilgrimage for one or two years?

I know that my view is a minority one, but to me this is very simple: How much value did Greenberg provide the Tigers while he was in the Army? Answer: None.
   56. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 12:07 AM (#1349069)
SABR Greenberg Bio

Greenberg was drafted. Sounds like his draft status was an oft-mentioned issue in the press for most of the first half of 1941. I'll leave the details for a future Greenberg thread, but the military draft is not exactly optional. I suspect the list of players who miss time due to WWII is shorter than the list of players who did not.

Its a big stretch, but the Tigers weren't going anywhere in 1941 anyways (age caught up with Gehringer and Newsom came back to earth). Greenberg's early departure also led to an early return and Hank was a key contributor in a tight pennant race and seven game World Series in 1945.
   57. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 20, 2005 at 12:45 AM (#1349107)
Then number of players who missed time due to WWII was actually something like 90% (Steve Bullock). Herbert Simons of Baseball Magazine said that there were nearly 500 MLB players in the service as of 1944. This of course means that he was counting anyone with MLB experience as a simple calculation (16 X 25 = 400) proves that to be impossible. I have sources for this but it is on another computer that I don't have access to right now.

Most players who enlisted did because they knew they would be drafted. AND most players played baseball in the service. I could echo any numbers of people here and ask if you think that the 7th AAF team or the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Cutters mattered at all? Obviously to the soldiers and officers they did.

These players were in effect barred from playing in MLB because there was a war going on. Could I not ask how much help to any MLB team Martin Dihigo or Josh Gibson had? These players had value to their teams, their teams were just military teams. Those that didn't play for military teams were either younger guys who weren't MLB stars at the time and had no choice(Yogi Berra) or guys who wanted to spend their military time fighting (Williams). If there had not been a war these guys would have been playing in MLB.

Sorry if I sound rude here but I find not giving guys war credit just as bad as voters completely disregarding NeL players. And we dont' actually have any of those.
   58. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 01:11 AM (#1349137)
There was discussion early on of all the various reasons why players "miss games" and how we treat the different cases.

• Some reasons are just a part of the game--injuries sustained on the field, decline, "held back in the minors," etc. etc. Here most voters to not give any extra credit.

• Others are not intrinsic to baseball but are pretty darn intrinsic to life. That is, they have affected players through the decades and even century-and-a-half, rather than disproportionally victimizing a specific generation or other class of players--sinus infections, glaucoma, auto accidents, drunkenness/drugs, etc. Here most voters don't give any extra credit.

• Then there are some that do affect players disproportionally at certain times--certain generations of players are affected, but not others. This might include the desire/ability to make a better and/or more respectable living doing something else. Here again, most of us don't give any extra credit, because in this case the action in question was by the choice of the player.

• But other things that affect certain generations disproportionally include WWI and WWII, things that the player has little or no choice over.

• And of course, black players had no choice over their opportunities pre-1947.

So it seems to me that extra-credit (i.e. ML or MLE credit to players who did not play the ML games) applies:

a. when whole classes of players are affected, rather than a random set

b. when the player has no choice.

Obviously, a person can agree or disagree but at least this seems to clarify the reasons and rationale for doing so.
   59. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 01:17 AM (#1349142)
All of the previous post aside, it is perhaps more important to note that extra credit also comes in other scenarios, not only for players who miss playing time.

E.g. David, do you normalize 19th century players to a 154 or 162 game schedule? Well, if so, you're giving players credit for games in which they did not (really) play. Is that different? How?

Because the players had no choice? Nor did most players in the war years.

For that matter, do you normalize NeL seasons to 154 or 162 games? Even aside from MLEs, that is extra credit.

To summarize, it frankly would seem to be an anomoly for voters who give extra credit in these various other situations to deny it to WWII veterans.
   60. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 01:34 AM (#1349154)
I agree with the view that military service in WWII falls into the category of "involuntarily prevented from playing major league baseball" and is thus analogous to the situation of Negro-League players in that respect, though the analogy is not perfect and cannot be pressed too far without some disrespect to each group, and some NeL players, of course, were doubly constrained.

For me, the other major reason to give WWII credit has to do with the nature of merit. There are two considerations here.

1) Although the prime indicator of merit is "value to teams," ability is also a component of merit. I generally favor "value" over "ability" in my rankings, but that's partly because value is almost always a valid indicator of ability, though the reverse is not true. Missed play due to wartime service is the clearest case where lack of value to teams during wartime service is not at all a valid indicator of the player's ability. So ignoring military service in an assessment of an individual player's merit on the basis of value alone is a mistake.

2) Merit also has to be understood contextually, as the HoM recognizes by proceeding chronologically, rather than creating an asynchronous "top X" players list. It seeks to improve upon the Cooperstown Hall in part by giving fair representation to players from all eras. If some way of accounting for the fact that most of the great players of the 1935-1950 era missed 1-4 years of playing time due to WWII is not included in one's rankings, one will have to conclude that players of this era are generally less meritorious than those players in surrounding decades who did not have extended, obligatory military service as part of their performance context. This, again, seems to me to be a mistake.

I find giving wartime credit the most straightforward way to adjust for this fact, although my system will also take account of it indirectly, since the first measure I use in preparing a ballot is the player's rank within the group of his immediate contemporaries. But wartime credit also adjusts players relative to their immediate peers, which is also necessary.
   61. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 02:34 AM (#1349192)
I agree with the view that military service in WWII falls into the category of "involuntarily prevented from playing major league baseball"

Problem is, the incarcerations of Ron LeFlore and Mike Donlin, among others, fall into that category as well. Once you start awarding points for hypothetical play, you're forced to start making value judgments about the hundreds of various reasons why people have missed playing time. This is a slippery slope that I personally don't care to venture out onto.

For those who give wartime credit, I have a question. Let's say Camilo Pascual was a communist and lost time fighting for Castro's rebels in the 1950s. Does he get war credit? What if Dennis Martinez missed time fighting with the Sandinistas (or against them)? Or if the U.S. went to war with China and Chin-Feng Chen was conscripted into the Chinese army. Would you give those players war credit also?
   62. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 03:02 AM (#1349212)
Problem is, the incarcerations of Ron LeFlore and Mike Donlin, among others, fall into that category as well.

I have a pretty easy time making a value judgment between prison time and military service, though I have serious objections to both the U.S. prison system and the U.S. military.

(According to James, LeFlore _learned_ baseball in prison or at least was discovered there, anyway, so that puts a different twist on its role in his life in that particular case).

Sunnyday2's point about "whole classes of players being affected," which I raised in less clear and concise terms, also clearly distinguishes between the two cases, at least with respect to eras when the military draft was in effect.

Not giving a large, clearly defined group of players credit for missed time who obviously deserve it because it will require one to make value judgments in a few individual (and as far as I can tell, mostly hypothetical) cases) makes little sense.
   63. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 03:08 AM (#1349215)
I have a pretty easy time making a value judgment between prison time and military service, though I have serious objections to both the U.S. prison system and the U.S. military.

I do too. I was trying to make the point that somewhere in the moral gulf (?) between military service and prison time, the voter is forced to make a value judgment and draw an arbitrary line. And that's not a line I particularly feel comfortable drawing, which is why I decided not to give people credit for time hypothetically spent playing baseball.
   64. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 03:36 AM (#1349233)
the voter is forced to make a value judgment and draw an arbitrary line.

It's not arbitary: there are a number of specific criteria that can be applied, though I don't expect we would reach consensus about where that line would be drawn.

which is why I decided not to give people credit for time hypothetically spent playing baseball.

I see it not as credit for hypothetical play but as compensation for missed opportunities.

If it were just a matter of making a distinction between individual players, I would not argue against a decision not to give credit for military service.

But it's a matter that affects an era of baseball history. If the HoM were to elect many fewer players from 1935-1950 because of the war, that would be a mistake: we would have failed to account for the effects of the war on the game of baseball.

There are ways other than giving compensatory credit for time missed that will fairly honor the best players of this era. But some accounting for the effect of WWII on the careers of the players of this era needs to be made.

Otherwise, (to speak from a directly pacificist perspective for a moment) the HoM would be giving in to the legacy of the draft in a way that it was designed not to give in to the legacy of institutionalized racism: its project would diminish the legacy of a group of people who, through no fault of their own, were prevented from peacefully exercising their talents to the fullest degree that they were able.

Now, the players who served in the military in WWII have had their share of honor for that service (again, the analogy between miliary service and institutionalized racism can only be taken so far), but I think it's worth affirming that the better world is one in which people can play baseball rather than having to fight wars.

I hope this post does not seem to have strayed too far from the subject of baseball!
   65. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 20, 2005 at 04:04 AM (#1349249)
Otherwise, (to speak from a directly pacificist perspective for a moment) the HoM would be giving in to the legacy of the draft in a way that it was designed not to give in to the legacy of institutionalized racism: its project would diminish the legacy of a group of people who, through no fault of their own, were prevented from peacefully exercising their talents to the fullest degree that they were able.

This is an excellent point, and while it doesn't change my mind, it's the rationale for giving wartime credit that makes the most sense to me personally.

On the other hand, however, (to speak from a directly pacificist perspective for a moment), by giving wartime credit one implies that being a soldier is a more honorable and worthy endeavor than, say, being a teacher or a cop -- an implication I very strongly disagree with and do not wish to condone.
   66. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 04:31 AM (#1349256)
To answer some of the questions:

-As I mentioned in another thread in anticipation of this issue, I do give credit to baseball played in the military service, but very little. I consider it analogous to, say, Biz Mackey touring Japan in 1932. Yeah, he was playing baseball and it entertained people, but it was not at anywhere near the same level of competition. It's the equivalent of barnstorming, and maybe not even that. And anyway, if we're talking about Hank Greenberg, he didn't play much during his years in the service either. Read his biography; he was doing other things.

-About normalizing the 19th century seasons: I don't see that as giving credit for games not played, but rather understanding the value of the games they actually did play in order to facilitate comparison with players who played in later eras.

I would also make the point that if people are going to seriously hypothesize accomplishments for major leaguers during the war years, they had better do their research. Joe DiMaggio is one classic example of a player who presents numerous problems to this type of analysis. DiMaggio was not drafted, first of all, and it is also not the case that he was forced to volunteer because he was about to be drafted. He had secured his draft status, he entered the military because a.) his wife told him she would divorce him otherwise, and b.) he expected to be booed constantly if he played in the majors in 1943.

Then there's the problem of what he actually did during his three years in the service. He played very little baseball, maybe 30 or 40 games total over 1943 and 1944, and none at all in 1945. He spent most of his time in the service injured or hospitalized with ulcers. So are you going to assume then that DiMaggio, had he been in the majors, would have been 100 percent healthy and producing at the level you would expect? Why?

And if you do, how would you then extrapolate the rest of his career? This is a player whose body broke down piece by piece from really 1934, when he injured his knee, all the way up through the arm injuries, ankle injuries, shoulder injuries, and heel injuries that progressively robbed him of his raw skills. So if DiMaggio had played all of 1943-1945, how much more punishment would his body have taken, and then how would he have done from 1946 to 1951? When would he have retired? I would find it completely phony if someone just inserted three MVP-caliber seasons into those years and then assumed the rest would have continued the same.

I wonder how other players who will get "war credit" would look if they were placed under a similar microscope.

Finally, this reflexive instinct to give players "war credit" carries the faint odor of bullshit patriotism to me. As Eric notes above, why don't we hypothesize the careers of other players who decide to do other things during their prime years? If the issue is that they had no choice, what choice did Mickey Cochrane have when Bump Hadley decided to intentionally throw at him and hit him in the head with a fastball? Life isn't fair. So you argue that the 1940s will now be underrepresented. Well, my answer is the 1940s SHOULD be underrepresented, because the baseball being played during the war years wasn't as good. Why shouldn't an era when the baseball being played was clearly inferior not have fewer members in the Hall of Merit?
   67. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 04:39 AM (#1349259)
I ####### hate the way this website censors language. Now people won't know what adjective I actually used in front of "patriotism." Great.
   68. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 20, 2005 at 04:52 AM (#1349268)
and b.) he expected to be booed constantly if he played in the majors in 1943.

Anybody that didn't have a good reason to serve during WWII was going to get a ton of grief. It didn't matter if you were a ballplayer or a ditch digger, if you were young, healthy and didn't have family concerns, you were expected to serve.

Finally, this reflexive instinct to give players "war credit" carries the faint odor of #### patriotism to me.

If DiMaggio decided to volunteer for service during peacetime and died in battle, I wouldn't give him any credit. While I would definitely respect and honor his sacrifice, he made a choice to do something that he didn't have to do. The WWII generation is a totally different story, though. Therefore, the odor your smelling is coming from somewhere else. :-)
   69. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:02 AM (#1349273)
Why shouldn't an era when the baseball being played was clearly inferior not have fewer members in the Hall of Merit?

Because the players who had full but interrupted careers in this era were not inferior to the players who had full and uninterrupted careers ten years earlier.

Finally, this reflexive instinct to give players "war credit" carries the faint odor of #### patriotism to me.

Reflexive instinct?? Come on. The people here don't do _anything_ without examining and re-examining their rationale every six months. Besides If it were "#### patriotism," that would be an acculturated response, not an instinct.
   70. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:10 AM (#1349275)
On the other hand, however, (to speak from a directly pacificist perspective for a moment), by giving wartime credit one implies that being a soldier is a more honorable and worthy endeavor than, say, being a teacher or a cop -- an implication I very strongly disagree with and do not wish to condone.

There is this danger, but then we're honoring baseball players rather than teachers in the first place, so we're already in danger of honoring the trivial in place of the essential.

And I'd certainly give compensatory credit to any player who spent time as a CO rather than in military service. I don't know of any players who took that route.
   71. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:16 AM (#1349277)
Because the players who had full but interrupted careers in this era were not inferior to the players who had full and uninterrupted careers ten years earlier.

A baseball player's career is measured by his actual accomplishments, not by what-if equations.

Reflexive instinct?? Come on. The people here don't do _anything_ without examining and re-examining their rationale every six months. Besides If it were "#### patriotism," that would be an acculturated response, not an instinct.

I don't agree on this issue. First, it's an acculturated response which has been internalized and become instinct. I don't mean "instinct" in the scientific sense of the term; obviously we are talking about culture here.

The idea of giving players "war credit" is almost as old as the war itself. You hear it all the time. I don't think the arguments in favor of it are so compelling that they would naturally cause people to react the way they do when they find out I don't give war credit. And before you say that it's my tone that causes the reaction, that's not true. I've raised this issue in a very casual way in other threads and people have acted like I just pissed on their living room carpet. For some reason folks get very sensitive about this. I really don't understand why, since we're talking about evaluating baseball careers here, and clearly players who don't play for three full seasons are going to have their careers compromised. I think it's a much further stretch to erect a fantasy alternate universe where these players kept playing, when in fact, they weren't playing.
   72. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 05:18 AM (#1349280)
There is this danger, but then we're honoring baseball players rather than teachers in the first place, so we're already in danger of honoring the trivial in place of the essential.

I don't understand how this statement conforms with your view that players deserve war credit. "We're honoring baseball players rather than soldiers in the first place..."
   73. Kelly in SD Posted: May 20, 2005 at 08:39 AM (#1349356)
Long-ish post. Somewhat random.

First, didn't we have a thread about this somewhere? This post is not intended to be an attack, but it's late so something may come across wrong.

I agree with Chris on this. The voters for the HoM have generally adopted one of Bill James' comments: "I make adjustments for any player who is clearly a major league player, but who is prevented from playing in the major leagues by forces beyond his control."
James lists 5 types of career gaps for which he gives compensatory (major leage) [inserted by me]credit:
1. Wartime service.
2. Seasons missed because of racial segregation.
3. Seasons in which a major league star was trapped in the minor leagues by factors beyond his control.
4. Seasons missed by players born early enough that they were in mid-career before the National League was organized.
5. Players who were blocked from playing by league wars impacting their contracts.

Something important to remember, everyone from that time had to contribute. I, and I assume everyone else, had relatives who worked 2 jobs during WWII: your regular job and a war-related job. (Mine worked for General Dynamics.) Baseball players had to contribute like everyone else.
Everyone was prevented from having a normal life for 4 to 5 years. Should we pretend players took a year, or 2, or 3, or 4, off? They were prevented from playing by circumstances beyond their control.

I see it as giving the players credit for what they were. For example, Hank Greenberg was a great player - a threat to be the best player in the AL in a year he was healthy. Being in the military does not change that. Now, if you want to not give Greenberg 4.5 full seasons because of his injury history, that is understandable.
Cecil Travis was a good player who had a great year before going to war and was not the same player after. I do not give him several years of great player performance.

Another way of looking at it, is to look at WWII as another set of circumstances under which baseball was played. These circumstances need to be allowed for when comparing players across eras. You allow for the drastically curtailed offensive totals during the deadball era. You allow for the fact NeL players could not play in the "majors." You allow for the innings early pitchers were able to pitch. You allow for the offensive differences between the AL 30s and the NL 30s. When we come to the 1940s, do we allow for WWII or remark on the greatness of Bill Nicholson and Stuffy Stirnweiss and wonder why Ted Williams took 3 years off?

Just to clarify: I am generally anti-war, my favorite Star-Spangled Banner rendition is Hendrix', and about the only time the word patriot crosses my lips is when I talk about how much I hate the style of play of the New England Patriots.

Oh, and I am looking forward to the win shares translations for Willie Wells. Great job as always with the translations, Chris, Gary, and David.
   74. Chris Cobb Posted: May 20, 2005 at 02:10 PM (#1349460)
I wrote:

Because the players who had full but interrupted careers in this era were not inferior to the players who had full and uninterrupted careers ten years earlier. <>

David wrote:

<i>A baseball player's career is measured by his actual accomplishments, not by what-if equations.


I wrote:

There is this danger, but then we're honoring baseball players rather than teachers in the first place, so we're already in danger of honoring the trivial in place of the essential.

David wrote:

I don't understand how this statement conforms with your view that players deserve war credit. "We're honoring baseball players rather than soldiers in the first place..."

I've quoted these two exchanges because they are related to each other, and they go back to the part of my argument in defense of compensatory credit that David has not directly responded to -- the one part, actually, that has nothing to do with military service as such -- the claim that merit is not the same thing as value, that ability matters in some way. A player's career necessarily reveals his value exactly (if we know how to measure value correctly), but his career does not necessarily reveal his ability exactly, if his career was disrupted by factors that are unrelated to changes in his ability.

In those cases where the expected relationship between value and ability does not obtain (a relationship that underpins the design of my ranking system), I have to make a judgment about how to adjust the system for the breakdown of this relationship. If a player had to interrupt his baseball career to serve in the military, that distorts the shape of his career from what we would normally expect to see, and so it makes the record of his value and his recognized ability diverge in ways that it normally would not. I don't give him compensatory credit because he was a soldier, I give him compensatory credit because he missed playing time for reasons that had nothing to do with his ability and that were 1) basically beyond his control and 2) not his fault.

If one rejects the claim that ability is a component of merit, then this argument for compensatory credit will not be persuasive, but it should at least make clear why my decision to give compensatory credit is consistent with the design and purpose of my ranking system as a whole.
   75. DavidFoss Posted: May 20, 2005 at 02:50 PM (#1349513)
Isn't there a thread for this? Its an interesting discussion that is increasingly relevant throughout the 50s elections, but this is an extreme tangent to the Willie Wells discussion.
   76. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:30 PM (#1350090)
Dave,

Sorry if what I wrote seemed inflamatory and reflexive. I just don't really understand why one would not give war credit. We are supposed to be fair to all eras and I can't see hwo we can be fair to all eras when we are punishing one generation of players for something beyond their control.

Maybe you are against giving players actual WS, WARP, HR etc. But you do need to find a way to create an even playing field for the players that played between 1935-1955 and those that didn't. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try and figure out if DiMaggio missed three MVP level seasons or if Cecil Travis should recieve any more 30 WS seasons (I doubt it). But they still deserve some credit.

I also dont' think this has anything to do with whether or not you agree with war, WWII, or what your political leanings are. It doesn't matter if you think that cops, teachers, waitresses are more or less important. Those things simply aren't relevant. These players still didnt' have a choice of whether or not to go to war. They didn't start the war, they didn't decide to go to war, they didn't decide to have a draft.

If a player was conscripted into the army in a modern era and we have enough evidence that they would have been HOM candidates or they play ball during the war and put up HOM level stats then they deserve credit for that. If they made a purely voluntary choice they don't deserve credit, a la Dobie Moore.
   77. David C. Jones Posted: May 20, 2005 at 06:39 PM (#1350131)
Maybe you are against giving players actual WS, WARP, HR etc. But you do need to find a way to create an even playing field for the players that played between 1935-1955 and those that didn't.

This discussion has moved over to the appropriate thread, but to answer this question: No, with all due respect, I don't "need" to create an even playing field for players from 1935-1950. I am simply going to evaluate them based on their actual accomplishments, and then compare them to everyone else on the ballot and vote accordingly.

In my voting I tend to value peak over career, so not giving "war credit" won't greatly affect players who already have tremendous peaks. For players who missed out on a substantial part of what we would expect to be their peak years because of the war, I'm not going to conjecture as to what they "would have done." They will be evaluated based on what they actually did accomplish.
   78. sunnyday2 Posted: May 20, 2005 at 07:07 PM (#1350248)
Re post #40, thanks, Ron. It is easy but dangerous to get focused on a decision between:

Willie Wells, HoMer?
or, Willie Wells, not HoMer?

The real question is always whether he's the best candidate. So the list in #40 gets us back to the right perspective.

However: Where is Dobie Moore on that list? Of course, I know he was a little early and we don't have all the numbers, and of course his career totals will look weak compared to the longer careers. But MLEs:

Wells .294 .371 .425
Moore .306 .511

And Moore's actual career avg. in the NeLs was .365 to Wells' .328. Moore's OBA for two years was in the .380s and .390s, and these were years when his BA was .324 and .365, below in total his career avg. So I don't know what his OBA was but based on the two years that we have BB and OBA for, it could easily have been in the .390-.400 range or higher. That would translate to something within 10 points (more likely below, but possibly either way) of Wells'. Then there's his SA which blows Wells away. On OPS Moore is probably about 75 points ahead.

Then of course there is the matter of career length. Wells 22 years in NeL, Cuban Lg and MxL, Moore 10-13 yrs with Wreckers and NeL. (Keep in mind Wreckers were reputed to be pounding the tar out of PCL teams during Cravath's and Arlett's and O'Doul's era there.)

And there is no evidence that Wells was a better SS, and good solid evidence that he was not better (that Moore was outstanding, just as good at a minimum).

Career voters of course will prefer the Devil. I myself am a peak/prime voter and I prefer the deep blue sea.
   79. Tiboreau Posted: May 25, 2005 at 06:16 AM (#1360068)
bump
   80. Chris Cobb Posted: May 31, 2005 at 12:53 AM (#1372334)
Willie Wells Win Shares

Just so everybody remembers him . . .
I should have MLEs for Bill Byrd in the next day or two.


Year Team BWS    FWS  Total
1926 Stl. 15.0   5.0  20.0
1927      19.3   7.1  26.4
1928      22.5   5.4  27.9
1929      20.2   6.4  26.6
1930      21.9   6.9  28.8
1931      16.8   4.3  21.1
1932 KC*  11.9   5.2  17.1
1933 Chi  14.8   7.6  22.4
1934      11.2   6.3  17.5
1935      12.9   7.5  20.4
1936 Nwk   8.5   4.4  12.9
1937      11.5   7.1  18.6
1938      20.3   8.1  28.4
1939      14.7   7.4  22.1
1940 MeL  12.2   5.9  18.1
1941      17.6   7.1  24.7
1942 Nwk  16.9   5.0  21.9
1943 MeL   6.1   3.4   9.5
1944 MeL#  6.5   2.2   8.7
1945 NY^   1.7   1.7   3.4
1946 NY$   0.1   0.6   0.7
         282.6 114.7 397.3



*Also played for Detroit and Homestead
#Also played briefly fore the NY Black Yankees
^Also played for Newark
$Also played for Baltimore
   81. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 31, 2005 at 12:58 AM (#1372343)
Just so everybody remembers him . . .

I had him pegged for #1 before your numbers, but it's nice to have it confirmed. Great player, without a doubt.

Thanks, Chris!
   82. Michael Bass Posted: May 31, 2005 at 02:28 AM (#1372556)
I like the guy a lot, but for this peak-oriented voter, he's no Dobie Moore. Will be behind him, but above Sewell; not sure of the exact placement. Certainly on ballot.
   83. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: June 01, 2005 at 01:58 AM (#1373245)
Yeah, his peak does look at littel disspaointing. Right now I will have him anywhere from #3 (ahead of Jennings but below Dickey Greenberg) to #6 (Behind Jennings, Suttles, and Beckwith). I think he was certainly better than Herman and Hack.
   84. OCF Posted: June 01, 2005 at 05:30 AM (#1373730)
That win share pattern in Chris's #80 - 397 WS, but never more than 30 in a season - would be rather unusual in major league history. My son searched through the win share totals in the NBJHBA searching for similar cases. He used these criteria: ? 350 WS total career, ? 90 WS in the sum of the top two seasons. We're looking for comparables to:

Willie Wells, 387 WS, 85 in top thee seasons.

Cap Anson made the list: 381 - 83. His case is nothing like what we're looking for.

Then we had three cases of players who started in the 1890's and may have peaked during 130 game seasons:

George Davis: 398 - 88
Bill Dahlen: 393 - 90
Fred Clarke: 400 - 90

Then a cluster of 162-game season players:

Lou Whitaker: 351 - 84
Brooks Robinson: 355 - 85
Paul Molitor: 412 - 89
Darrell Evans: 364 - 87
Rusty Staub: 358 - 90

And finally, one player from a comparable time:

Max Carey: 351 - 84

One likely possibility is that the apparent lack of top seasons in the translated Wells record is an artifact of the translation. Another thing to consider for Wells, Bell, and several other Negro League players is whether the lower replacement level and high level of incentive to keep playing artificially inflates bulk career numbers.

It is an odd an interesting cluster of comparable players. There are some others not too far from this list, including Andre Dawson.
   85. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 01, 2005 at 11:44 AM (#1373848)
"Let's say Camilo Pascual was a communist and lost time fighting for Castro's rebels in the 1950s. Does he get war credit? What if Dennis Martinez missed time fighting with the Sandinistas (or against them)? Or if the U.S. went to war with China and Chin-Feng Chen was conscripted into the Chinese army. Would you give those players war credit also?"

Unequivically, yes, I give credit to all of them.

I think your reason for not giving any credit is a major cop out.

Well, some decisions might be tough so I won't make any. If you are fighting in a war, you get credit. If you are a terrorist, you don't. If you go to jail you don't. Unless like Hurricane Carter, you didn't do it.

It's taking the easy way out not to make those judgements.
   86. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 01, 2005 at 11:47 AM (#1373850)
"Finally, this reflexive instinct to give players "war credit" carries the faint odor of #### patriotism to me."

This has nothing to do with it. For me at least (and I'm sure most others).

In real life I'm pretty much against all war, except for things like Hitler where you have to stop a madman. I'm against the war in Iraq. But if Khalil Greene is drafted or enlists and loses three prime years defending his country, I'm not going to dock him relative to Dave Concepcion for this.
   87. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 01, 2005 at 11:48 AM (#1373851)
And I'll add that I think failure to give credit smacks a lot more of 'anti-war' mentality than giving credit smacks of '#### patriotism'.
   88. TomH Posted: June 01, 2005 at 11:52 AM (#1373852)
what Joe said :)
   89. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 01, 2005 at 11:53 AM (#1373853)
Sorry for getting that going back on this thread, but that's where the comments were.
   90. sunnyday2 Posted: June 01, 2005 at 12:41 PM (#1373865)
I was really perplexed by the vehemence of those who oppose a WWII credit. I only give half a credit because of the potential for injury, etc., so I don't feel like a real partisan here.

My simple rule is that individual players have problems that reduce their value over their careeers--C. Jones, G. Sisler, E. Averill, et al. Generally speaking, tough luck, though I have allowed myself to become convinced about G. Cravath.

But if an entire class or generation of people, on the day they are born, are significantly disadvantaged, well then an adjustment is appropriate. E.g.

• 19th century short seasons
• NeLers
• WWII

There might be other cases.

But all adjustments are made to enable the various cohorts and generations to be on a more or less equal footing, as much as that is possible.

The idea that we should reject a WWII adjustment (or for that matter utilize a WWII adjustment) because it is patriotic is...well, I can't think of a word for it that wouldn't be inflammatory. Let's just say it is not "scientific." To me it is very very similar to normalizing short seasons--it "pretends" that a player participated in games that he didn't (or that weren't even played). Other adjustments "pretend" that players were in a different environment than they really were. But all are just designed to enable us to fairly compare players from different times and places. No big deal!
   91. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: June 01, 2005 at 12:53 PM (#1373871)
I was really perplexed by the vehemence of those who oppose a WWII credit.

Yes, so perplexed that you had to resort to ad hominem personal attacks.
   92. Tiboreau Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:14 PM (#1374783)
Willie Wells' Win Shares numbers are interesting not only for the reason mentioned by OCF but also for when in his career he achieved his peak numbers.

According to the numbers graciously provided by Chris, Wells' best five consecutive years are 1927 - 31 (130.8 WS)--his age 21-26 seasons. After his rookie season he established a consist playing level around 26-28 Win Shares during his early twenties. Then, during those years when we'd expect a player to be at his best, age 26-31, Willie's at his worst as a regular, ranging from 13 to 22 Win Shares (108.9 total). In his waning years as a regular, however, he improves a bit on his solid, yet unspectacular, performance during his peak years, ranging from 18 to 28 Win Shares.

Splitting his career as a starter into 3 equal parts, we get:
[i]1926 30  1931 36  1937 42[/i]
 20  20.0   25  21.1   31  18.6
 21  26.4   26  17.1   32  28.4
 22  27.9   27  22.4   33  22.1
 23  26.6   28  17.5   34  18.1
 24  28.8   29  20.4   35  24.7
            30  12.9   36  21.9
    [i]129.7      111.4      133.8[
/i] 

OCF mentions two reasons for the Wells' apparently low peak for such outstanding career value--either it's the effects of translation or it's a player hanging on longer than expected for an MLB career.

While the second possibility is definitely true, just as it was in the PCL, I believe (IOW, I'm going from memory) that those seasons are usually trimmed. In Willie Wells' case, his last full season comes merely at age 36 and his last season at age 40. Considering Willie's player type--athletic, quick, hit's for good average w\ decent power--one would expect him to play for about as long as Chris has accounted for; 36 seems to me to be about the age a shortstop of his type would last to.

No, why would a .300 hitter in the early and latter parts of his career suddenly become a .270 hitter in his prime? Why would a hitter put up OPS+ numbers between 120 and 130 in his early twenties, then struggle to break even in his late twenties & early thirties, only to put up an above average OPS+ in his mid-thirties? This has been discussed before, even a bit in this thread, but I think that the Negro Leagues were more competitive in the early '30s than we thought, and Wells is a prime example of this.

Considering that, and the tendency of regression to diminish peak a bit, Willie Wells looks like a better peak performer than before, I think.
   93. Michael Bass Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:20 PM (#1374794)
I actually don't doubt that Wells' peak is diminished by the regression technique, something which has been pointed out several times in the past. When I look at Chris's work, I tend to mentally up the peak a bit, while lopping a little career length off for that reason.

Still, re: the comparison to Moore, all evidence we have is that he was one hell of a hitter *and* a great defender. I have little doubt that he was, for a couple years there, one of the 5 best players in baseball. I don't think that was the case for Wells.
   94. DavidFoss Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:21 PM (#1374797)
No, why would a .300 hitter in the early and latter parts of his career suddenly become a .270 hitter in his prime? Why would a hitter put up OPS+ numbers between 120 and 130 in his early twenties, then struggle to break even in his late twenties & early thirties, only to put up an above average OPS+ in his mid-thirties? This has been discussed before, even a bit in this thread, but I think that the Negro Leagues were more competitive in the early '30s than we thought, and Wells is a prime example of this.

Part of this might have to do with the giant shift in context occurring at exactly the same time. The context used here (MLB-20s, NL after) has a huge drop in the early 1930s. That explains much of the raw dip in numbers but not the adjusted numbers, though.
   95. Chris Cobb Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1374822)
That explains much of the raw dip in numbers but not the adjusted numbers, though.

In my view, the shape of Wells' projected career is strong evidence for contraction raising the level of competition in the Negro Leagues significantly above what it was in the mid-1940s, the years used in creating the conversion factors. I don't have enough data to attempt to correct for this yet, but I hope to work on the problem over the course of the summer.
   96. sunnyday2 Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:38 PM (#1374836)
Eric,

Claiming on this forum to be the only person who has thought about an issue is a somewhat personal approach as well.
   97. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:42 PM (#1374843)
I never made any such claim.
   98. sunnyday2 Posted: June 01, 2005 at 09:55 PM (#1374870)
Chris,

I think what you are saying is that the odd shape of Wells' career may very well be an artifact of the conversion. Two questions, then:

• Is the real Willie Wells the one who played in the late '20s or the one who played in the '30s?

• And while a player of his "type" might easily remain active through age 36, would a player of Wells' actual ability (within type) do so? (To offer a hypothesis: The Wells of the late '20s would have, the Wells of the '30s might not.)

I doubt that we will really resolve this and so each of us will have to make a judgement call. I'm not sure Willie is actually a "borderline" candidate, maybe just a "borderline NB" or "borderline inner circle" candidate. But he's a fuzzy one either way.

I have Wells above Dobie Moore on my prelim, but I am thinking about that. For peak/prime:

3 yrs-5 yrs

Moore ~100 ~150 (same as Cronin)
Wells 84 131 (more like Fregosi, Wills, Sewell)

We have new info now that Moore played 4 years with the Wreckers + 6.5 in the NeLs. That's one more year than we thought. 11.5 x 25 = 287.5, or maybe 11.5 x 30 = 345. It still ain't 397 but even the low number is more than Lou Boudreau or Joe Sewell. The higher one is more like Cronin, Banks, Vaughan, Ozzie. Halfway between is Larkin, Trammell, Reese.

397 is of course more than Appling, about G. Davis.

So, do you prefer Cronin's peak and at least Sewell and maybe Trammell and maybe maybe Cronin for career (Moore)?

Or Sewell's peak and Appliing's or G. Davis' career?

I don't see how this is an easy choice.
   99. Tiboreau Posted: June 02, 2005 at 12:09 AM (#1375211)
Looking at the Dobie Moore thread, the Wreckers presumably played from 1913 to 1920. According to Gadfly, Moore joined the Wreckers in 1916 and left partway through the 1920 season, while koufax states that Moore's military baseball career begins in 1917.

Anyways, the Win Shares provided in the thread:
[i]1917  22   14
1918  23   21
1919  24   23[
/i]
1920  25   24
1921  26   34
1922  27   36
1923  28   26
1924  29   31
1925  30   28
1926  31   15
          [b]252[
/b] 

The numbers for 1917 - 19 are projected based on age and future performance, while his 1920 season only takes his play with the Monarchs into account. Those numbers look like Hughie Jennings' adjusted Win Shares totals. However, Moore's translations were among the earliest provided, and Chris Cobb has admitted that the peak may be a little too high.

Now, I have Dobie Moore on my ballot because even if his peak may be a bit overstated it's still outstanding, but I think 287.5 career WS would be on the high end, and 345 is out of the question, IMO.

Still, re: the comparison to Moore, all evidence we have is that he was one hell of a hitter *and* a great defender. I have little doubt that he was, for a couple years there, one of the 5 best players in baseball. I don't think that was the case for Wells.

Yes, Moore had a great reputation, but so did Wells. Bill James, in his NHBA, has Wells as the 2nd greatest shortstop in the Negro Leagues. In James Riley's The All-Time All-Stars of Black Baseball, Willie Wells makes Second Team All-Star according to Negro League veterans and experts. Their numbers according to Holway . . .
[i]        avg.   ab    h  hr[/i] 
Moore  .355  1760  625  50  15 hr
/550 ab
Wells  .328  3981 1306 138  20 hr
/550 ab 

. . . indicate that Moore was a better hitter, especially considering that Wells spent a good portion of his career playing in a good hitter's park, but it also excludes' both Moore's career ascent and decline.

Yes, Moore was a better hitter than Wells and therefore had a greater peak. But Wells was an excellent player himself; I don't think the difference in peak is that large--certainly not large enough to make up the difference in career.

Considering his reputation and numbers, I see Wells as the best shortstop eligible and among the top ballot candidates. He will be Numero Uno this year, IMO.
   100. Gary A Posted: June 02, 2005 at 02:07 PM (#1376490)
On the subject of the one-league era, ca. 1933-36: I think this is definitely something to take into account. It's fairly obvious when you look at rosters.

For example, the Chicago American Giants were one of the best teams in the NNL throughout its existence--they won two World Series in 1926-27, and won the NSL pennant in 1932. By 1934, with the St. Louis Stars (best NNL team 1928-31) and Detroit Stars now defunct, the American Giants had added to their roster probably the three best players from St. Louis--Willie Wells, Mule Suttles, and Ted Trent--along with Detroit's superstar, Turkey Stearnes.

Likewise the Philadelphia Stars, along with inheriting many players from Hilldale, had added Jud Wilson, Dewey Creacy, Chaney White, and Pete Washington -- all of whom spent most of the 1920s with teams that were by 1934 either defunct, marginal, or out of the league.

The Pittsburgh Crawfords had added Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, and William Bell, again all from 1920s teams that either didn't exist anymore or had come down in the world. (Josh Gibson came from the Grays, of course, who were still operating, though only as associate members of the NNL--and, as we know, they'd be back with a vengeance.)

I'm probably leaving some people out, but you get the idea.
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