I listen to more soulless Jonathan Elias synth-pap than I do The Elias Sports Bureau. Oh, and B-Ref’s Explaining the Honus Wagner Career Hits Discrepancy...
Steve Hirdt, executive vice president of Elias, said, “Major League Baseball for as far back as I know has dated its origins to 1876, the first year of the National League. The National Association is regarded as the first professional league but not major league.” As for statistical differences related to Wagner, Hirdt said, “As good a job and as clean cut and as beyond reproach as the statistics are today, when the whole enterprise started back then they weren’t kept with the same type of precision.”
Sean Forman, founder of Baseball-Reference.com, said Anson’s hits in the National Association should count.
“Our view is that the number of players who continued from the National Association into the National League in 1876 was significant,” he said. “The level of play, based on how those players did, moving from the National Association to the National League, indicates that it was at a high level of play.” Five players from the National Association are in Cooperstown.
“People expect to have solidity in these numbers and high confidence in these numbers and from 1970 on that’s essentially true,” Forman said. “Previously these were clerical workers working with pen and paper inserting everything in large ledger books every day. Mistakes were made. It’s part and parcel of the business. We’re 100 percent confident in Jeter’s hit total, but people like Anson and Wagner, their hit totals were calculated retroactively in a lot of cases 30, 40, 50, 60 years after the fact. We’re looking as carefully as we can.”
Hall of Fame spokesman Craig Muder said, “The Hall of Fame does not endorse any singular set of historical statistics. Official stats are kept by MLB and as such the Hall of Fame recognizes them. As a museum and library research center the Hall and the museum consults a variety of sources. We provide equal access to all these sources for our patrons. Baseball-Reference would be one of the varieties of sources that we use.”
A spokesman for MLB said, “We recognize Elias as the official stats.”
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