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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jon Bernstein: Would Musial Crack the All-Dead Team

I’ll start with the All-Dead Team. Talk about a hard OF to crack! We’ll certainly carry five OFers on the 25-man roster, and I’d think that the selections have been easy: Williams starts in LF, Ruth of course in RF, and then pick ‘em from Cobb, Mantle, and Speaker. Does Musial displace one of them? Yikes! That’s a tough call. By the way, just as a shortcut, that group of six count for six of the top twenty all-time in baseball-reference’s WAR list.

So that’s my roster:

Dickey, Cochrane
Gehrig, Hornsby, Collins, J. Robinson, Wagner, G. Davis, Mathews
T. Williams, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, Ruth, Musial

 

The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:07 AM | 121 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, hall of fame

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   1. AndrewJ Posted: January 26, 2013 at 08:11 AM (#4355363)
Reminds me of the old joke about the Almighty getting a phone call from Satan challenging him to a Heaven/Hell baseball game.

God: "Are you kidding? I've got the greatest ballplayers of all time up here!"

Devil: "That's okay... I've got all the umpires."
   2. Publius Publicola Posted: January 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4355414)
Mathews instead of Foxx? Hmmm.
   3. Mefisto Posted: January 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4355420)
It's not like Gehrig needs a rest or anything.
   4. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4355429)
Roger Clemens: But I'm not dead yet.
Ned Flanders: Hey listen, I did a favor for you!
   5. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4355432)
Jackie Robinson is not needed on that team. I'd take Foxx instead, You've got a real shortage of RH power.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4355439)

I think it's delightful that even in death, someone is keeping Josh Gibson out of the mix.

#notdelightfulatall
   7. ecwcat Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4355446)
I think it's delightful that even in death, someone is keeping Josh Gibson out of the mix.


White guilt is the individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4355447)
Jackie Robinson is not needed on that team. I'd take Foxx instead, You've got a real shortage of RH power.
I'd take Jackie for roster purposes - you can stock up on big boppers and pitchers with the rest of the roster. Robinson's the best utility man ever. Collins and Hornsby are both clearly better than Robinson, but for roster building I'd take Foxx over one of them.

As Howie points out, the shortage of RH power can be easily remedied while at the same time massively upgrading the catcher position.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4355450)
White guilt is the individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently.
Josh Gibson is the greatest catcher of all time by the merits, but your hangups about race are noted.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4355458)
It is interesting that in spite of the countless number of actual competitive baseball games played between white and black players for decades prior to 1947 - and the matter-of-fact recognition by white players who hardly were bleeding hearts of the quality of the top Negro League players - it is difficult for some people to fathom the idea that a pre-Jackie black player could be as good as the best white players.

Too bad none of the later black players of that era got to compete in the majors, too, because then we could actually tell pretty well whether the top players were similarly skilled. Oh, wait....

   11. tshipman Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4355469)
JB in the comments:

I agree that Gibson was probably the greatest catcher ever, almost certainly the greatest dead catcher, and I should have at least mentioned that.


He based the list off picking a WAR list from BBref.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4355488)

But why limit yourself?

Can't speak for that guy, but it's funny that many people scoff condescendingly at religious folks but treat WAR as a sacrament.

   13. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4355490)
Can't speak for that guy, but it's funny that many people scoff condescendingly at religious folks but treat WAR as a sacrament.



Nothing funny at all. WAR is based on logic, religion is totally illogical.

   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4355493)
it's funny that many people scoff condescendingly at religious folks but treat WAR as a sacrament.
That's not what a sacrament is.

Bernstein's never scoffed at religious folks, as far I know, so this just reads as a pointlessly ####-stirring non sequitur. (And hey look, you caught some fish trolling that hook.)

Anyway, Bernstein's just playing around on a blog. I do think he's missing major concerns in evaluating and comparing old-time ballplayers, in part because he didn't engage enough with what WAR is and how it works. That's a perfectly fair critique, there's no reason to lard unrelated political rhetoric on top of it.
   15. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4355497)
Gibson should be there instead of Dickey.

C - Gibson, Cochrane
1B - Gehrig, Foxx
2B - Hornsby, Collins, Lajoie
SS - Wagner, Davis
3B - Mathews
RF - Ruth
CF - Speaker, Cobb, Mantle
LF - Williams, Musial
P - Johnson, Mathewson, Alexander, Young, Nichols, Spahn, Feller, Paige, Grove

The third catcher is Foxx. Davis, Hornsby and Wagner all played a decent amount of 3B, Cobb and Musial both played a lot of RF, and Ted played RF his rookie year. Hornsby would be the emergency SS. This staff only needs 9 pitchers, with Ruth as the 10th pitcher if needed.

This team could bat all LHers aganst Righties, and could bat 7 RHers against lefties if they used Lajoie at 2B, Hornsby at 3B and Davis in the OF.

   16. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4355498)
How come nobody picks Rocky Marciano as the best heavyweight of all time? Look at his record!
   17. puck Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4355499)
Seeing Glenn Davis on the all-time team was a surprise. I mean, I didn't know he had died.
   18. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4355501)
Dickey, Cochrane
Gehrig, Hornsby, Collins, J. Robinson, Wagner, G. Davis, Mathews
T. Williams, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, Ruth, Musial



Without Foxx you have no 3rd catcher.

   19. tshipman Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4355502)
it's funny that many people scoff condescendingly at religious folks but treat WAR as a sacrament.


From the article:

(Aside: B-R's WAR is fine, in my view, but because of how easy it is to access, it seems to be everyone's go-to all-in-one stat and is therefore quite a bit overused, from what I see. Although I don't see all that much these days, so I guess it depends, and I'm certainly very guilty of it myself).


So he agrees.

In addition:
Bernstein's never scoffed at religious folks


JB observes the high holy days, so I don't know the level of his devotion, but he's at least conversant with a major religion.
   20. JJ1986 Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4355505)
Unfortunately, I think Gary Carter should be the 2nd catcher.
   21. Joe OBrien Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4355510)
It's perfectly fine to make a list like this and leave Josh Gibson off. Everyone (as in literally everyone on the planet) knows more about the quality of individual players from old-time MLB than the Negro Leagues. Some of us know quite a bit more. So if someone is more comfortable making an MLB only list, that's fine.

The problem with putting Gibson on the list is that you'd better consider other players, too. Oscar Charleston, for starters, who hasn't been mentioned in this thread. Personally, I don't feel qualified to evaluate all Negro League players fairly, which is why I stick to MLB only when making such lists. Obviously I know Gibson was better than Dickey and Cochrane. But putting only him on strikes me as tokenism.

And then there's Japan...
   22. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4355512)
Is it safe to question whether Gibson would've been kept at catcher if he were white?
   23. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4355513)
Personally, I don't feel qualified to evaluate all Negro League players fairly, which is why I stick to MLB only when making such lists. Obviously I know Gibson was better than Dickey and Cochrane. But putting only him on strikes me as tokenism.
If you want to make a list without Negro Leaguers, call it an "MLB-only" team. Don't call it an all-time team.

Also, Charleston's numbers, while great, do not show him to have been quite the equal of his rough contemporaries Speaker and Cobb. He belongs on a lot of lists, but not necessarily this one. I considered Charleston as well before commenting about Gibson, but my evaluation was that he's a bit short.

Smokey Joe Williams and Satchel Paige both deserve slots on the pitching staff of this team.
   24. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4355514)
a Heaven/Hell baseball game

Now that would be fun, aside from the umpiring issue.

HEAVEN

C Roy Campanella
1B Lou Gehrig
2B Charlie Gehringer
3B Eddie Mathews
SS Honus Wagner
OF Babe Ruth
OF Oscar Charleston
OF Stan Musial
P Satchel Paige

HELL

C Pierzynski's alive, so ... Thurman Munson?
1B Hal Chase
2B Rogers Hornsby
3B John McGraw
SS Leo Durocher
OF Joe Jackson
OF Ty Cobb
OF [kept warm for Pete Rose]
P Carl Mays
   25. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4355518)
Is it safe to question whether Gibson would've been kept at catcher if he were white?

Reading about Gibson in John Holway's books, years ago, I did wonder about this. I saw him as about Joe DiMaggio at the plate, but rather ordinary behind it. In reading more as analysis has improved, I imagine he was a somewhat better hitter than DiMaggio, and a better catcher than I thought – IOW by all likelihood both a better hitter and better catcher than Mike Piazza. (Others know a lot more about this than I do and can correct my impressions.)

So it may be a question of era. Piazza himself would have been moved off catcher if he'd played in some eras when catchers were pure defenders. Conversely, translate Gibson into the Piazza's era, and sure, he'd have stayed at catcher; why not? In and just before Gibson's own day, some superb hitters stayed at catcher: Cochrane, Hartnett, Dickey. Was Gibson that much inferior to them defensively? Probably not, is the picture I'm developing; at least, not a butcher. If Ernie Lombardi could catch in those days, then certainly Gibson.
   26. andrewberg Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4355521)
How about a team of dead players who played a game after 1980?
   27. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4355522)
The 20s through the 50s were probably the easiest time in baseball history to be a catcher. No one ran, and bunting had fallen off a lot, too. It's hard to say how many of the great catchers of this era, Gibson included, could have handled the position if they'd come up alongside Johnny Bench.

Given the array of doubtful athletes who remained at catcher in the big leagues during this period, I don't see Gibson as a particular outlier.
   28. Delorians Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4355525)
Seeing Glenn Davis on the all-time team was a surprise. I mean, I didn't know he had died.

Not sure how serious this is, but just in case, they're referring to the 1890s SS, not the Astros' 1980s 1B, who as far as I know is very much alive.

On second thought, the shortstop's name is George, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.
   29. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4355545)
The problem with putting Gibson on the list is that you'd better consider other players, too.


So it's a problem that you should consider ALL players in the ALL-time ALL-dead Team?
   30. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4355553)
Robinson's the best utility man ever.

What about Dihigo?

EDIT: Cap Anson might be a good option on the "Hell" team.
   31. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4355560)
It's perfectly fine to make a list like this and leave Josh Gibson off. Everyone (as in literally everyone on the planet) knows more about the quality of individual players from old-time MLB than the Negro Leagues. Some of us know quite a bit more. So if someone is more comfortable making an MLB only list, that's fine.



As Bill James said, I'd rather misrank the great Negro Leaguers then to exclude them all over again.

I think Gibson and Paige clearly belong on the team. Charelston certainly is close, and may in fact have been better than Speaker. He seems to have been like a Speaker with more HR power, but probably playing in a weaker league than the AL or the NL.
   32. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4355564)
Robinson's the best utility man ever.



If he wasn't already the best SS, Wagner may be the best utility man. At various times he was a regular at RF, 3B and 1B, and played almost all his games in CF as a rookie.



   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4355566)
Everyone (as in literally everyone on the planet) knows more about the quality of individual players from old-time MLB than the Negro Leagues.


Everyone (who cares enough to have an opinion) thinks they know more about the quality of individual white players pre-integration than black players, but do they? Evaluating the white players of that era runs you into the exact same problem as evaluating the black players: they played in a segregated league, so their statistics were not compiled against all of the best available players.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4355569)
Smokey Joe Williams may well have been better then Paige, and both belong on a 10-12 man pitching staff for this team.
   35. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4355570)
If he wasn't already the best SS, Wagner may be the best utility man. At various times he was a regular at RF, 3B and 1B, and played almost all his games in CF as a rookie.


Look at the 1901 Pirates page on BB-Ref. Wagner played in every game for the Pirates that year (140) but isn't listed as a starter, because somebody else played at least a little bit more at all nine positions.
   36. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4355571)
If you want to make a list without Negro Leaguers, call it an "MLB-only" team. Don't call it an all-time team.


QFT I

Everyone (who cares enough to have an opinion) thinks they know more about the quality of individual white players pre-integration than black players, but do they? Evaluating the white players of that era runs you into the exact same problem as evaluating the black players: they played in a segregated league, so their statistics were not compiled against all of the best available players.


QFT II.

Not to mention that when the Negro League players of the time competed with the Major Leaguers, they more than held their own. And if you take a look at the offensive leaderboards of the only league (the NL) that made a real attempt to integrate in the 1947-65 era, you'll see that it's dominated way disproportionately by African American players.
   37. Publius Publicola Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4355579)
On second thought, the shortstop's name is George, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.


Humor detector at the shop this week, Delorians?
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4355589)

also funny are responses that remove the "Can't speak for that guy," from my sentence.

I'll concede that I could/should have worded the rest of the sentence differently to avoid risk of unneeded tangent, though the intended point about WAR worship in general stands.

And maybe the parsers can concede that it's not cool to repost only part of someone else's sentence, particularly if it makes the point being made somewhat irrelevant...
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4355590)
Josh Gibson is the greatest catcher of all time by the merits, but your hangups about race are noted.

I really don't know how you can say that so definitively. He may have been, but "among the greatest" is about the most I think one can say with certainty.

I mean we've got 1987 PAs spread over 16 years against competition of uncertain quality. Do we even know if he could have physically held up to catching 130-140 games a year like Bench and Berra did?
   40. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4355591)
Gibson caught tons of games, they just weren't mostly league games.

Basically, if Gibson wasn't the greatest catcher of his time, then no one in the Negro Leagues in the 30s and 40s - whom he consistently out-hit - was more than a very marginal Hall of Famer. The conversions required to knock Gibson down to the level of Dickey and Cochrane would take his peers out of the Hall altogether.

I can see an era-based case for either Bench or Piazza as the greatest ever. But without very heavy timelining, it just doesn't work.
   41. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4355594)
With all of the exhibition and winter games Gibson played in other countries he probably caught more games in some years than any major league catcher ever did.
   42. bobm Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4355596)
[26] How about a team of dead players who played a game after 1980?

C: Carter
1B: Porter
2B: Uribe
SS: Belanger
3B: Caminiti
LF: Stargell
CF: Puckett
RF: Bobby Bonds


SP: Joe Niekro, Flanagan, Perez, Kile, Splittorff, (Fidrych, Lima :-) )
RP: Quisenberry, McGraw, Beck, Howe

                                                            
Rk              Player WAR/pos Died From   To  OPS       Pos
1          Gary Carter    66.4 2012 1974 1992 .773   *29/375
2          Bobby Bonds    55.7 2003 1968 1981 .824    *98/D7
3      Willie Stargell    54.2 2001 1962 1982 .889    *73/98
4        Kirby Puckett    48.2 2006 1984 1995 .837 *89/D7456
5       Darrell Porter    37.8 2002 1971 1987 .763     *2D/3
6        Mark Belanger    37.6 1998 1965 1982 .580     *6/45
7         Ken Caminiti    30.9 2004 1987 2001 .794     *5/3D
8         Bobby Murcer    29.0 2008 1965 1983 .802  98D/7564
9            Al Cowens    12.4 2002 1974 1986 .722   *98/D75
10   Aurelio Rodriguez    11.7 2000 1967 1983 .626   *5/64D3
11         John Milner    11.1 2000 1971 1982 .757     37/98
12       Ivan Calderon    10.2 2003 1984 1993 .775    97D/38
13             Bo Diaz    10.1 1990 1977 1989 .684      *2/D
14           Pat Kelly     9.1 2005 1967 1981 .731    *97D/8
15          Ryan Freel     7.9 2012 2001 2009 .723    8954/7
16          Jose Uribe     7.3 2006 1984 1993 .613      *6/4


                                                                                      
Rk                 Player  WAR Died   To From   To   Age   W   L  W-L%  SV     IP ERA+
1              Joe Niekro 25.3 2006 1988 1967 1988 22-43 221 204  .520  16 3584.1   98
2         Dan Quisenberry 23.9 1998 1990 1979 1990 26-37  56  46  .549 244 1043.1  146
3           Mike Flanagan 22.8 2011 1992 1975 1992 23-40 167 143  .539   4 2770.0  100
4              Tug McGraw 19.7 2004 1984 1965 1984 20-39  96  92  .511 180 1514.2  117
5         Paul Splittorff 19.5 2011 1984 1970 1984 23-37 166 143  .537   1 2554.2  101
6            Dave Roberts 19.4 2009 1981 1969 1981 24-36 103 125  .452  15 2099.0   97
7             Darryl Kile 18.3 2002 2002 1991 2002 22-33 133 119  .528   0 2165.1  104
8           Pascual Perez 17.9 2012 1991 1980 1991 23-34  67  68  .496   0 1244.1  110
9             Rick Mahler 17.3 2005 1991 1979 1991 25-37  96 111  .464   6 1951.1   96
10              Jim Bibby 16.5 2010 1984 1972 1984 27-39 111 101  .524   8 1722.2   99
11          Woodie Fryman 16.0 2011 1983 1966 1983 26-43 141 155  .476  58 2411.1   96
12             Bob Forsch 16.0 2011 1989 1974 1989 24-39 168 136  .553   3 2794.2   98
13              Eric Show 13.4 1994 1991 1981 1991 25-35 101  89  .532   7 1655.0   99 ...


16           Mark Fidrych 10.8 2009 1980 1976 1980 21-25  29  19  .604   0  412.1  126
17               Rod Beck 10.7 2007 2004 1991 2004 22-35  38  45  .458 286  768.0  124
 ...
20             Steve Howe  9.7 2006 1996 1980 1996 22-38  47  41  .534  91  606.0  130
 ...
34              Jose Lima  4.1 2010 2006 1994 2006 21-33  89 102  .466   5 1567.2   85





   43. Delorians Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4355601)
Humor detector at the shop this week, Delorians?

I guess so. With Glenn being obviously underqualified for this team, and the article referencing George, i don't see the humor in the original post.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4355602)
Basically, if Gibson wasn't the greatest catcher of his time, then no one in the Negro Leagues in the 30s and 40s - whom he consistently out-hit - was more than a very marginal Hall of Famer. The conversions required to knock Gibson down to the level of Dickey and Cochrane would take his peers out of the Hall altogether.


That's a different question. I'd agree he was almost certainly better than Dickey and Cochrane.

I can see an era-based case for either Bench or Piazza as the greatest ever. But without very heavy timelining, it just doesn't work.

Honest question. How do we have any idea about how the quality of pitching Gibson faced compares to that Bench or Berra faced? The guys who pitched in the games vs. MLBers would have been the elite of the NeL pitchers.

With all of the exhibition and winter games Gibson played in other countries he probably caught more games in some years than any major league catcher ever did.

Was he catching in those games, or playing 1B?
   45. Jay Z Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4355612)
Everyone (who cares enough to have an opinion) thinks they know more about the quality of individual white players pre-integration than black players, but do they? Evaluating the white players of that era runs you into the exact same problem as evaluating the black players: they played in a segregated league, so their statistics were not compiled against all of the best available players.


"But there are stats!" is mainly what it comes down to.

In reality there is a substantial fuzz factor in any comparison between eras. All we really know about Ty Cobb is he dominated the times and conditions he played in. Those "real" numbers don't tell us how he would fare in another context. But the numbers were recorded, so people fool themselves into thinking they can apply factor X to Cobb's stats and have an excellent approximation of what Cobb would do in a "neutral" context (disregarding that there is no such thing as a neutral context.) It's all hogwash.
   46. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4355620)
against all levels of competition Gibson hit 69 home runs in 1934; the same year in league games he hit 11 home runs in 52 games.

In 1933 he hit .467 with 55 home runs in 137 games against all levels of competition. His lifetime batting average is said to be higher than .350, with other sources putting it as high as .384, the best in Negro league history.

The Baseball Hall of Fame maintains he hit "almost 800" homers in his 17-year career against Negro league and independent baseball opposition. His lifetime batting average, according to the Hall's official data, was .359. It was reported that he won nine home run titles and four batting championships playing for the Crawfords and the Grays. It is also believed that Gibson hit a home run in a Negro league game at Yankee Stadium that struck two feet from the top of the wall circling the center field bleachers, about 580 feet (180 m) from home plate. Although it has never been conclusively proven, Chicago American Giants infielder Jack Marshall said Gibson slugged one over the third deck next to the left field bullpen in 1934 for the only fair ball hit out of Yankee Stadium. Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith once said that Gibson hit more home runs into Griffith Stadium's distant left field bleachers than the entire American League.

   47. KJOK Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4355624)
Was he catching in those games, or playing 1B?


He primarily caught, but he also spent some time in the outfield when he was younger, just like Gary Carter and Johnny Bench.

   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4355631)
Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith once said that Gibson hit more home runs into Griffith Stadium's distant left field bleachers than the entire American League.

Griffith exaggerated, but not by that much. In 1943, in perhaps his most amazing slugging exhibition, Gibson hit 10 home runs in 40 games at Griffith Stadium, while the Senators hit 9 in 77 games, and the rest of the American League hit another 14. In 1945, Gibson hit "at least" 4 home runs in Griffith, but the second place Nats only hit 1 all year, and the entire rest of the AL only added another 6. (Source: Brad Snyder, Beyond The Shadow Of The Senators, p. 171 and p. 227; Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, 1996 ed., pp. 660-661)
   49. jdennis Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4355633)
this team would have a blatant chemistry issue. if you have any black players on the team, you need to get rid of speaker, hornsby, and maybe cobb although i think you could convince cobb to stay eventually. there are lots of good choices for replacing hornsby. he already has collins and jackie robinson, so you could go with lajoie. gehringer also available. or you could go with a defensive second baseman like mcphee, pfeffer, et al. you could get character guys or guys who would accept a backup role. of course, you may not need any of them as you already have capable players. i also think george davis is a poor shortsop choice. not as many great hitters to replace him with but you could go with a player like hughie jennings. he eventually learned to hit and he was obviously a great fielder. also, would you want more black players so they wouldn't gang up on one if there was a problem? who to replace speaker with? how about the criminally underrated ed delahanty, who i have as the best player in baseball 5 different times (no one had more than 3 before him)?

if anyone cares, i did a "conversion" on josh gibson to estimate what his mlb stats would be, i basically got mike piazza's stats but with more triples. so i guess gibson was a piazza-like hitting catcher before piazza.

   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4355638)
if anyone cares, i did a "conversion" on josh gibson to estimate what his mlb stats would be, i basically got mike piazza's stats but with more triples. so i guess gibson was a piazza-like hitting catcher before piazza.

That sounds fair.
   51. jdennis Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4355641)
as far as the negro leagues are concerned, they did not have the draw of fame and fortune, they worked from a smaller population base, their fielding percentages were lower. clearly the negro leagues were not as good as the NL and AL.

that said, i think paige would have won 300 games and had an era right around 3 and i think gibson would have had 400+ hr.
   52. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4355643)
I'm somewhat shocked that more AA players don't wear #20 in honor of Gibson.
   53. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4355651)
In 1943, in perhaps his most amazing slugging exhibition, Gibson hit 10 home runs in 40 games at Griffith Stadium, while the Senators hit 9 in 77 games, and the rest of the American League hit another 14.


Gibson's ten may all have been to LF while some of the others might have been hit to RF.
   54. SavoyBG Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4355654)
i also think george davis is a poor shortsop choice. not as many great hitters to replace him with but you could go with a player like hughie jennings. he eventually learned to hit and he was obviously a great fielder.


Davis was a much better career player than Jennings, plus he was a regular CFer and 3Bman before he went to SS. He could be the team's 3Bman against LHers. Jennings was the best player in baseball for 2-3 years, but he was only great for like 5 years.

We could also go with Arky Vaughan, although he's another LH hitter.



   55. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4355674)
C: Carter
1B: Porter
2B: Uribe
SS: Belanger
3B: Caminiti
LF: Stargell
CF: Puckett
RF: Bobby Bonds


Porter's WAR is heavily driven by being a C. He loses about 1.5 wins a season at 1B. Surely better to put Stargell at 1B (800 starts spread throughout his career) with Murcer in the OF. Murcer/Puckett/Bonds in the OF (and Cowens on the bench) would cover a lot of ground too. Against tough righties, you could get Porter, Milner, Stargell and Murcer all in the lineup.

EDIT: And how did Ruth end up on the heaven team? I'm glad to know the Lord doesn't get worked up about whorin' and drinkin' but I'd still think he'd make Ruth wait an eon or two just like the roiders. Or is the Big Guy willing to look the other way as long as Ruth hits some dingers?

EDIT 2: What era is our all-time team playing in? I'm not buying this 9/10-man pitching staff and, even if I was in a 9-10 staff era, I think I might still find room for Hoyt Wilhelm. His career ERA+ is the same as Walter Johnson's.
   56. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 26, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4355714)
In 1943, in perhaps his most amazing slugging exhibition, Gibson hit 10 home runs in 40 games at Griffith Stadium, while the Senators hit 9 in 77 games, and the rest of the American League hit another 14.

Gibson's ten may all have been to LF while some of the others might have been hit to RF.


Good point, and in fact that's almost certainly true, since the RF wall was only 320' down the line.
   57. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4355747)
And how did Ruth end up on the heaven team? I'm glad to know the Lord doesn't get worked up about whorin' and drinkin'

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, sex and beer are God's way of letting us know he loves us and wants us to be happy.
   58. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2013 at 12:41 AM (#4355803)
Also Mariano Rivera ... are cyborgs alive?* If not "alive" are they "dead" or simply inert?

* Yes, I've seen that Next Generation episode. I thought Picard's case was kinda weak and he only won because Ryker was tanking it. Next you'll be telling me there's a Cylon god.
   59. bjhanke Posted: January 27, 2013 at 02:35 AM (#4355836)
I did zero research, so this is just of the top of my head. Feel free to criticize.

Starters:
C - Josh Gibson
1B - Lou Gehrig
2B - Eddie Collins
3B - Eddie Mathews
SS - Honus Wagner
LF - Ted Williams
CF - Willie Mays
RF - Babe Ruth

Bench:
C - Buck Ewing
1B - Jimmy Foxx
2B - Rogers Hornsby
3B - Home Run Baker
SS - Pop Lloyd
LF - Stan Musial
CF - Ty Cobb
RF - Hank Aaron

UT - Martin Dihigo

Starters (NOT in any order):
Walter Johnson
Lefty Grove
Pete Alexander
Cy Young
Satchel Paige

Closer:
Hoyt Wilhelm (I think he's dead)

Bullpen:
Kid Nichols
Smokey Joe Williams

That's 25, if I counted right. Hardest decision - Pop Lloyd or George Wright. If I read the sources right, which I may not have, Oscar Charleston, after several years of great great CF, got fat and ended up as a first baseman. I don't know how many years he was which player, or even if he got fat and played 1B at all, really. Dihigo is the emergency catcher. If you try to make a lineup of the starters, Eddie Mathews bats 8th. - Brock Hanke

   60. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2013 at 02:45 AM (#4355841)
CF - Willie Mays
RF - Hank Aaron


Sorry Brock, they're only pining for the fjords.
   61. bjhanke Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:49 AM (#4355850)
Walt - Thanks. I, doing no research, wasn't completely sure who was dead and who was not, although I should have remembered that Aaron is still alive. Obviously, Cobb would move up to the starters, and I'd have to flip coins between Speaker, Mantle, and Charleston for "backup" CF. My next RF would be Frank Robby, but I think he's still alive, too. I know Paul Waner is dead, so I'll go with him in RF, because I have no way of seriously comparing him to, say, Turkey Stearnes or any other of the big NgL OF bats. Or I could go with Bob Caruthers as a RF/P, which would expand the pitching staff to more like current numbers, while adding amusement value. A "bullpen" of Nichols, Williams, Caruthers and Dihigo is hilarious, at least to me. - Brock
   62. Delorians Posted: January 27, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4356042)
[26] How about a team of dead players who played a game after 1980?

C: Carter
1B: Porter
2B: Uribe
SS: Belanger
3B: Caminiti
LF: Stargell
CF: Puckett
RF: Bobby Bonds


SP: Joe Niekro, Flanagan, Perez, Kile, Splittorff, Lima
RP: Quisenberry, McGraw, Beck, Howe


I started to compile a list, but stopped when I realized I was including too many from my home team (Astros) and that therefore I must be forgetting too many others for the list to be worth posting. Turns out, the only Astro I had that Bob M didn't is RP Dave Smith (instead of Howe)
   63. Mefisto Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4356067)
Brock, Ott would be a better choice than Waner for your revised RF slot. Of course, Mantle played RF as a rookie so maybe you could shift him there.
   64. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4356072)
I'd love to see a list of greatest teams composed of players dead or alive born in each decade.

---

The NeL issue is unfortunate. Yes, ideally we would always try to rank NeL players into these lists but it's tough because of the lack of data - at least data that's easily accessible and placed as best as possible into context. What makes WAR the go-to stat is that it's easy to use on b-r, and Jonathan recognizes that.

I agree with Snapper on Gibson. I've been involved in a lot of Gibson discussions over the years, and in my opinion "among the greatest catchers ever" is about the best we can do. The question should not be an emotional one, but too often it is. Ironically, I actually think it would be unfair to the greatest MLB catchers to rank him above them on the basis of fragmentary data and barnstorming.
   65. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 27, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4356132)
The NeL issue is unfortunate. Yes, ideally we would always try to rank NeL players into these lists but it's tough because of the lack of data - at least data that's easily accessible and placed as best as possible into context. What makes WAR the go-to stat is that it's easy to use on b-r, and Jonathan recognizes that.

I agree with Snapper on Gibson. I've been involved in a lot of Gibson discussions over the years, and in my opinion "among the greatest catchers ever" is about the best we can do. The question should not be an emotional one, but too often it is. Ironically, I actually think it would be unfair to the greatest MLB catchers to rank him above them on the basis of fragmentary data and barnstorming.


There's nothing unreasonable about that position, as long as you apply the same terminology"---among the greatest outfielders ever"---to Jim Crow Major Leaguers like Ruth and Cobb, rather than omitting the qualifiers only for the Major Leaguers. Since both the Major Leaguers and the Negro Leaguers were playing against obviously restricted competition, that seems about the best we can do. You know damn well that there's no way (for instance) to prove that Ty Cobb was greater than Oscar Charleston, not in the same way you can prove that Barry Bonds was greater than Ken Griffey Jr.

Of course there are two ways out of the bind: The simplest would be to state that your "all-time best" lists are restricted to Major Leaguers only, and don't make any pretense of making any claims beyond that, unless you want to exclude all players from the Jim Crow era, both black and white.

The other would be to let yourself go beyond knowable numbers, take a deep breath, and admit evidence that can't be proven with any mathematical certainty. This is admittedly a messier way to compile a list, but with all evidence considered it might just turn out a team that really is the all-time best, even if no two people might agree with it.
   66. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4356134)
Basically, if Gibson wasn't the greatest catcher of his time, then no one in the Negro Leagues in the 30s and 40s - whom he consistently out-hit - was more than a very marginal Hall of Famer. The conversions required to knock Gibson down to the level of Dickey and Cochrane would take his peers out of the Hall altogether.

The problem is that assuming things are linear like that isn't necessarily safe. Different environments can cause the transition to affect different players in different ways. The same is true for the jump from AAA to MLB, but the difference is that other than raw quality, the environments between those two levels are quite similar. Not sure that can be said about the Negro Leagues vs MLB.

Obviously though Gibson was a major superstar and deserves to be recognized as such.

Position players two a decade:

1890s = Delahanty, Jennings
1900s = Wagner, Bresnahan (needed him here for a backup C)
1910s = Cobb, Pop Lloyd
1920s = Ruth, Hornsby
1930s = Gehrig, Gibson
1940s = Williams (I suppose this is where Musial would be)
1950s = Mantle, Jackie (or Eddie Mathews it's a very tough call)

So that would be:

C - Gibson
1B - Gehrig
2B - Hornsby
3B - Jackie
SS - Wagner
OF - Williams
OF - Cobb
OF - Ruth

C - Bresnahan
IF - Jennings
IF - Lloyd
OF - Mantle
OF - Delahanty

You could, if you like, get rid of Bresnahan and add Gary Carter. But I always thought Bresnahan has gotten underrated because of the reality of how often Catchers could reasonably play back then.

The 1880s guys are hard because of the vastly different nature of the game but maybe you could also get rid of Bresnahan and add Buck Ewing.
   67. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4356143)
versus

1960s = Mays, Aaron
1970s = Bench, Morgan, Carew
1980s = Schmidt, Henderson, Ripken
1990s = Bonds, ARod, Griffey
2000s = Pujols, Mauer

C - Bench
1B - Pujols
2B - Morgan
3B - Schmidt
SS - ARod
OF - Bonds
OF - Mays
OF - Aaron

The team might need an extra lefty hitter as there are only two in that lineup. I guess you could replace Aaron with Griffey (or throw him out and add Yaz) and Mauer would play for Bench a lot against righties.

C - Mauer
IF - Carew
IF - Ripken
OF - Henderson
OF - Griffey
   68. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4356145)
I don't doubt that Gibson belongs on an all-time great team, just not sure if he belongs at catcher. Playing catcher in the NeL was a significantly different job than playing a 162 game, 9 inning grind in MLB.
   69. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4356151)
Looks like the "live" team has the better gloves and the "dead" team has the better bats.
   70. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4356162)
You know damn well that there's no way (for instance) to prove that Ty Cobb was greater than Oscar Charleston, not in the same way you can prove that Barry Bonds was greater than Ken Griffey Jr.


Andy, I don't see it as an equally reciprocal situation. For one player (Cobb) we have lots of evidence; for the other player (Charleston) we have less evidence. That's simply the way it is, and no amount of hand waving will change that.

It may be that the greatest baseball player ever was a wheat farmer in Iowa in 1932. But since she never played against MLB competition, we don't have enough evidence to say, and we can rank Ruth ahead of her with reasonable certainty.
   71. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4356192)

Andy, I don't see it as an equally reciprocal situation. For one player (Cobb) we have lots of evidence; for the other player (Charleston) we have less evidence. That's simply the way it is, and no amount of hand waving will change that.


Concur. For Charleston we have 3000 NeML PAs, for Cobb we have 13,000 MLB PAs. For Gibson we have 1570 NeML PAs for Ruth we have 10,600 MLB PAs.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:26 PM (#4356198)
I don't doubt that Gibson belongs on an all-time great team, just not sure if he belongs at catcher. Playing catcher in the NeL was a significantly different job than playing a 162 game, 9 inning grind in MLB.

The first 162 game schedule in the Majors wasn't until 1961 (AL) and 1962 (NL). But never mind that, because Mickey Cochrane never even played 140 games in a season, and played 130 or more only six times. And in the only nine years Bill Dickey was even eligible for the batting title, he averaged 127 games. Between regular games and exhibition games, including some days he played three games in a row in different towns, Gibson would've easily beaten that.

Cochrane and Dickey also traveled in first class accommodations and ate on a regular schedule. Gibson traveled in beat up buses and cars, and stayed in run down hotels and rooming houses. If you'd dropped Cochrane or Dickey into that sort of environment, I'd love to see how they would've handled it.

Whether Gibson was better than Bench or Piazza, we'll never know, because they played in different eras under radically different conditions. We can argue the points in favor of any of them, but with no definitive answer.

-----------------------------------------

You know damn well that there's no way (for instance) to prove that Ty Cobb was greater than Oscar Charleston, not in the same way you can prove that Barry Bonds was greater than Ken Griffey Jr.

Andy, I don't see it as an equally reciprocal situation. For one player (Cobb) we have lots of evidence; for the other player (Charleston) we have less evidence. That's simply the way it is, and no amount of hand waving will change that.


That completely misses the point. Of course we have more evidence of Cobb's records against white Major Leaguers than we have of Charleston's records in the Negro Leagues. But all that speaks to is Cobb's relative standing within the Major Leagues. It doesn't address how either might have performed in a mixed league against equal competition.

It may be that the greatest baseball player ever was a wheat farmer in Iowa in 1932. But since she never played against MLB competition, we don't have enough evidence to say, and we can rank Ruth ahead of her with reasonable certainty.

It doesn't speak too well of your confidence in your own argument that you'd compare Oscar Charleston to a hypothetical woman as a way of making a point, but then your comparisons are always colorful if nothing else.
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4356209)
That completely misses the point. Of course we have more evidence of Cobb's records against white Major Leaguers than we have of Charleston's records in the Negro Leagues. But all that speaks to is Cobb's relative standing within the Major Leagues. It doesn't address how either might have performed in a mixed league against equal competition.


Is it really likely that the best players in a league drawing from 10-12% of the population are going to be better than the best players in a league drawing from the other 90%?
   74. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4356212)
Is it really likely that the best players in a league drawing from 10-12% of the population are going to be better than the best players in a league drawing from the other 90%?


So it doesn't seem likely to you that Willie Mays could have been the best player in his league. But he was.

This is a classic Musial-related thread in that no one's actually talking about Musial. Stan the Also-Ran.
   75. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:53 PM (#4356215)
Actually a not so far-fetched way of putting a Cobb-Charleston comparison into perspective would be to look at the pool world of the 1980's, when the first "invasion" of Filipino players made it over here.

Prior to that, all the known records and all the known championships were held by American players, and whenever discussions took place as to the "best all-time player", the only real dispute was how to compare the tournament players (or "fun players", as they were referred to by gamblers) to the shadow "champions" of the back roads and bar rooms, where no records were kept but the competition was every bit as intense, or even more so.

Bottom line: Within ten years after the first Filipinos came over here and started gambling and playing in our tournaments, it became universally recognized that the top Filipinos were as good as or better than the top American players. And with the competition now coming from all over Asia and Europe, there are no more than a handful of Americans considered to be in the top 20 overall.

And yet before the mid-1980's, the world of Filipino pool was even more unknown to Americans than the feats of the Negro Leaguers were to the general white public of the 1920's and 30's. Even for those who saw the NeLers play, there were only tales of wonder, and few if any concrete bits of written statistical evidence.

Knowing what we do about how the Filipinos fared once they came over here, it's not unrealistic to imagine that their best players prior to that time were a match for our best, even without statistical "proof". And knowing what we do about how the best black players fared in the Major Leagues once they were integrated---and how their fathers and grandfathers fared in exhibitions against the Major Leaguers of their time---it takes more than "hand waving" to pretend that we can say with any assurance at all that the best Major Leaguers in the era of Cobb and Charleston were necessarily better than the best Negro Leaguers.
   76. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 27, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4356216)
Is it really likely that the best players in a league drawing from 10-12% of the population are going to be better than the best players in a league drawing from the other 90%?

Look at the NL offensive leaderboards of the 1950's and 1960's and then repeat that comment with a straight face. I'll see your response tomorrow after the Hitchcock mini-festival is over.
   77. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 09:57 PM (#4356245)
If I were to guess how it worked, I'd guess that the top 1% from each league were probably pretty close to even, but then the gap would widen the further down the list you go. So that the top 35% of Major Leaguers were probably substantially better as a group than the top 35% of Negro Leaguers.

It is a little dangerous to necessarily extrapolate the percentage of black players who were top hitting stars from the 50s and 60s to the teens through 30s, particularly since the trend really didn't hold by the end of the 80s. IOW it might have just been a 40s through 60s thing and not necessarily a teens through 60s thing. Or it could have been the same throughout.

The way I see it, you can probably bump a guy like Charleston all the way up into Joe DiMaggio/Tris Speaker territory and be pretty sure he's at least close to there. But it's just so hard to have him surpass a guy like Cobb, because even the tiniest bit of regression based uncertainty would have him come up short. When it came to MLB stars of the teens, there were two groups: Ty Cobb and everyone else. I really think Gibson is the only pre-integration Negro Leaguer with enough of enough to get him up into that kind of rarefied air.
   78. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4356253)
Bottom line: Within ten years after the first Filipinos came over here and started gambling and playing in our tournaments, it became universally recognized that the top Filipinos were as good as or better than the top American players. And with the competition now coming from all over Asia and Europe, there are no more than a handful of Americans considered to be in the top 20 overall.


Dog meat is a PED.

Pool is nowhere near as popular now as it was 60 or 70 years ago, when bar pastimes were a much more common form of distraction. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a commensurate decline in general ability as the talent pool evaporated. Lord knows it happened with boxing.
   79. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4356271)
Is it really likely that the best players in a league drawing from 10-12% of the population are going to be better than the best players in a league drawing from the other 90%?


At what point since the 1950s has it not been obviously, objectively true that the best African-American and/or "black" players were as good as or better than the best white players? Jackie Robinson, Campanella, Mays, Banks, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Clemente, Stargell, Carew, Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Frank Thomas, Pedro Martinez, Matt Kemp, etc., etc.

For one player (Cobb) we have lots of evidence; for the other player (Charleston) we have less evidence.


But if the question being asked is, "Who was better, Cobb or Charleston?", the lack of evidence of how good a player Charleston was is equally damning to both sides of the question. How can you express an opinion about how much better Cobb was than Charleston or how much likely he is to have been better without a sense of how good a player Charleston was? If you can't say anything about Charleston, then you can't say anything about Cobb in relation to Charleston.
   80. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4356273)
It is a little dangerous to necessarily extrapolate the percentage of black players who were top hitting stars from the 50s and 60s to the teens through 30s, particularly since the trend really didn't hold by the end of the 80s.


I don't understand what you mean here. The OPS+ league leaders from 1988 - 1991 included Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell, Fred McGriff, Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, and Frank Thomas.
   81. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM (#4356277)
Well if you look at the top five position from the 1960s, probably four of the five were black (Mays, Aaron, Robinson, Clemente). From the 1980s, one of the five (Rickey) were. Maybe you could stretch that to two, but I don't think so. The 90s were a little higher with Bonds and possibly Griffey (not sure how you want to classify ARod), but then there's Piazza, Bagwell and Chipper as well. I'd say two in the 70s (Morgan and Carew).

All I'm saying is, just because during the 50s and 60s more than half of the top five position stars were black, doesn't mean that would have also been the case from the 1910s to 1940s.
   82. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM (#4356279)
If you can't say anything about Charleston, then you can't say anything about Cobb in relation to Charleston.

But you can. If the weather on July 4th this year in Phoenix is 121 degrees, while I can't say for sure it will be hotter than any July 4th since I've been here (since I don't know all the high temps the last 11 years), I can still take an educated guess that it probably would be, since days that hot on any day are so incredibly rare.

Players of Cobb's quality (in the context of MLB when he played) are so rare, if you have another player whose quality you know a lot less about, your best guess would naturally be lower than that. It's regression more than anything.
   83. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4356280)
The 90s were a little higher with Bonds and possibly Griffey (not sure how you want to classify ARod), but then there's Piazza, Bagwell and Chipper as well.


If you're not including Frank Thomas as one of the best hitters of the 1990s, you're not doing it right.

But more generally, the 1950's don't have to be representative of the 1910s-30s to put Gibson and Charleston on a 25-man "best dead" roster. The 1980s work just fine. By BB-Ref WAR, the best player of the 1980s - by 10 wins - was African-American (Rickey), as were 4 of the next 11 (Ozzie, Raines, Dawson, Eddie Murray). Since they started playing together, it has always been the case that the best African-American and/or black baseball players have been at least comparable in talent and value to the best white players. If that was also true in the 1920s and 1930s, then Charleston and Gibson have very strong cases for being comparable in talent to their white contemporaries.
   84. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM (#4356281)
If you're not including Frank Thomas as one of the best hitters of the 1990s, you're not doing it right.

Position players. Thomas was one of the best five hitters, but not one of the best five position players. And yeah, I'd put Gibson in my top 25 dead team, I just did. Delahanty is in there and not Charleston because I wanted representation across several decades (and Hornsby was needed as an infielder). And Williams, Cobb, Ruth and Mantle all fall under the "regression" explanation above.
   85. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM (#4356283)
Position players. Thomas was one of the best five hitters, but not one of the best five position players.


BB-Ref WAR, 1990 - 1999, position players only:

1. Barry Bonds, 77.9
2. Ken Griffey, Jr., 65.0
3. Jeff Bagwell, 55.0
4. Craig Biggio, 51.4
5.(t) Barry Larkin, 50.6
5.(t) Frank Thomas, 50.6
   86. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4356284)
You're using a different interpretation (and one that punishes players whose careers start in the middle of decades), obviously since ARod isn't on there. The players get ranked first, and then I group them roughly by decade. ARod missed half the 90s, but he's a better fit there than the 2000s. WAR also unfairly punishes catchers, and I definitely put Piazza ahead of Thomas. Chipper also didn't play throughout the entire 90s, but is best fit there and I think bests Frank by a nose.

So no, neither Frank, nor Larkin would be in my 90s top 5. Nor Biggio for that matter either.
   87. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4356286)
You're using a different interpretation (and one that punishes players whose careers start in the middle of decades), obviously since ARod isn't on there. The players get ranked first, and then I group them roughly by decade.


Well, you're the one who mentioned "90s". But we're getting into semantics. There was a period of time where Frank Thomas was unquestionably one of the two or three best players in major-league baseball, even with his horrific baserunning and fielding.
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM (#4356290)

At what point since the 1950s has it not been obviously, objectively true that the best African-American and/or "black" players were as good as or better than the best white players? Jackie Robinson, Campanella, Mays, Banks, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Clemente, Stargell, Carew, Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Frank Thomas, Pedro Martinez, Matt Kemp, etc., etc.


As good, yes. Better, I don't think so.

All I'm saying is, just because during the 50s and 60s more than half of the top five position stars were black, doesn't mean that would have also been the case from the 1910s to 1940s.

Exactly.

Look at the NL offensive leaderboards of the 1950's and 1960's and then repeat that comment with a straight face. I'll see your response tomorrow after the Hitchcock mini-festival is over.

Andy, are you arguing that blacks have some inherent superiority to whites in playing baseball? Because, if that were true, why are approximately zero of the best players today American blacks?

Isn't it more likely that baseball drew a disproportionate amount of attention/effort from blacks in the '50s and '60s because it was a rare escape from poverty, and now there are lots of other options?

When a large percentage of the white population had baseball as a rare escape from poverty (1900-1930's), it's likely you got a lot more great white ballplayers, than in the '50s and '60 where an average white guy could earn a decent living anywhere, or even go to college with relative ease.
   89. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4356305)
I would say if you took the best 20 position players whose careers were the bulk amount between 1890-1942, having 8 black players would be about the right amount. Whereas from 1946-1998 maybe that number is more like 10 to 12. The increase in players from the Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and then Venezuela complicates that latter half though. For the first group, almost all the foreigners of note were Cubans. (And we'll leave Japan out of this).

So something like Gibson, Suttles, Wells, Lloyd, Charleston, Torriente, Home Run Johnson or Frank Grant and maybe Pete Hill would cover a nice range of positions and active years. And you can then add Cobb, Ruth, Hornsby, Collins, Cochrane, Wagner, Delahanty, Gehrig, Jennings (my list so "peak" guys rule), Speaker, DiMaggio and Foxx would be a good dozen. There's not a lukewarm HOFer in there besides Jennings and I felt like I needed another shortstop, and for four years Jennings fit in quite well with the rest.

There's plenty of solid HOF guys from that era who wouldn't be in that top 20, whether it's Charlie Gehringer and Arky Vaughan or Biz Mackey and Turkey Stearnes. But if I were to guess at the right ratio, that (around 40%) would be my guess. A little less from like 1890-1910, a little more from say 1925-1942.

But that's still just a guess.
   90. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4356307)
why are approximately zero of the best players today American blacks?


How small is your set of "best players today" that it doesn't include Andrew McCutchen and Matt Kemp?
   91. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM (#4356313)
I guess circa right now, if you were to list the top 12 American (or Canadian or Cuban) position players, something like: Mauer, Posey, Kemp, Braun, Trout, McCutchen, Zobrist, Votto, Tulowitzki, Longoria, Pujols (I guess he belongs on here) and David Wright maybe? Who is the best black American position player not on this list? Fielder, Granderson, Phillips, one of the Uptons, Bourn or Stanton? I think Stanton will be on this list real soon.

So right now that ratio looks like 25 to 30% (3 out of 11 or 12 on the list).

EDIT: I forgot Cespedes who should count, but I don't think he would make the top 12 yet either.
   92. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:46 AM (#4356316)
Bottom line: Within ten years after the first Filipinos came over here and started gambling and playing in our tournaments, it became universally recognized that the top Filipinos were as good as or better than the top American players. And with the competition now coming from all over Asia and Europe, there are no more than a handful of Americans considered to be in the top 20 overall.

Dog meat is a PED.


Yeah, but practicing rotation and then playing nine ball is even more of one. It's like going from Justin Verlander to Carl Pavano, and the Filipinos have been doing it for many decades.

Pool is nowhere near as popular now as it was 60 or 70 years ago, when bar pastimes were a much more common form of distraction. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a commensurate decline in general ability as the talent pool evaporated. Lord knows it happened with boxing.

It's possible, but not likely. BITGOD (and there actually was such a thing in pool), there was so much easy money to be had from suckers on the local level** that local players never had to be that good to take it down. Whereas today, the easy money to be picked up from one-on-one pool gambling has evaporated, since the fish are throwing away their money on lottery tickets, poker and casinos, where they think they can win, rather than in a game that takes far more apparent skill. (I say "apparent" since poker is every bit as much of a skill game in the long run.) Which means that in order to make a living at the game today a MUCH higher level of skill is required.

In addition, the equipment today is far tougher than BITGOD. The pockets are smaller and cut at angles that make shots down the rail far more likely to jar than they used to on most tables. Add the foreign players to the mix and the overall level of talent at the top is almost certainly at an all time high.

**There were over 2000 pool rooms in New York City in the 1920's. You'd be lucky to find two dozen today. More proof of our declining culture.
   93. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:53 AM (#4356322)
Who is the best black American position player not on this list? Fielder, Granderson, Phillips, one of the Uptons, Bourn or Stanton? I think Stanton will be on this list real soon.


He may not be the right answer, and he's definitely not top 12 overall, but Adam Jones probably belongs in this part of the conversation.
   94. Mefisto Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:53 AM (#4356323)
I would say if you took the best 20 position players whose careers were the bulk amount between 1890-1942, having 8 black players would be about the right amount. Whereas from 1946-1998 maybe that number is more like 10 to 12. The increase in players from the Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and then Venezuela complicates that latter half though. For the first group, almost all the foreigners of note were Cubans. (And we'll leave Japan out of this).


This seems to me to agree with Andy's basic point. If you agree that the top NeL players deserve to be considered in the conversation, then I'm not sure there's any disagreement.
   95. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:57 AM (#4356324)
My point is that you would ultimately have something like 1 out of the top 5, 3 out of the top 10, and 8 out of the top 20 because of regression. Because our best guess for any player we have some uncertainties about is just never going to be Ty Cobb or Ted Williams or Barry Bonds. That's not a best guess for anybody.
   96. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:00 AM (#4356327)
Andy, are you arguing that blacks have some inherent superiority to whites in playing baseball? Because, if that were true, why are approximately zero of the best players today American blacks?

Isn't it more likely that baseball drew a disproportionate amount of attention/effort from blacks in the '50s and '60s because it was a rare escape from poverty, and now there are lots of other options?

When a large percentage of the white population had baseball as a rare escape from poverty (1900-1930's), it's likely you got a lot more great white ballplayers, than in the '50s and '60 where an average white guy could earn a decent living anywhere, or even go to college with relative ease.


First, I'm not arguing for any "inherent" superiority of black ballplayers, either then or now. What I am saying, and all I am saying, is that you can't show with the statistics we have that the best MLB players in the Jim Crow era were better than the best NeL players. Was Cobb better than Charleston? Was Grove better than Paige? To state either of those propositions---or their opposite---is more a matter of faith and / or intuition than any sort of rigorous study.

I brought up the leaderboards of the 50's and 60's not to show any "inherent" superiority of black ballplayers, but to make the point that simply assuming the superiority of the best white Major Leaguers in the Jim Crow era over their best black contemporaries in the Negro Leagues is just that---an assumption, an assertion that can't be proven. It's the same reason I brought up that comparison of American and Filipino pool players. There are simply too many unknown and conjectural factors out there to make any blanket statements of superiority, no matter how many closed circles of statistics you can gather about one of those sets of players.
   97. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4356331)
The difference is that the Major leagues from 1910-1942 and the Negro Leagues (and the random assorted games that go with them) are not two sets of leagues that we know equally as much about, nor did they have the same level of uniformity in competition and environment, nor did they have the same level of statistical accuracy and completeness in their numerical records (and the Negro Leagues had much shorter seasons usually). That's a huge part of the tragedy of it all, guys like Charleston never really got to show exactly how good they really were at the same level of competition and so we're left with little lingering what ifs that can never be answered.

Ultimately we just know more about Ty Cobb's playing career than Oscar Charleston's. And at that extremely high level of performance, it gives Cobb an advantage if we were to take a best guess at how good they were. Gibson is the only one whom the statistical and contemporary evidence we have is so overwhelming that I think he reaches that level of certainty. People thought Lloyd and Charleston were great players. They stared in disbelief at Gibson.
   98. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:15 AM (#4356336)
BITGOD (and there actually was such a thing in pool), there was so much easy money to be had from suckers on the local level**...**There were over 2000 pool rooms in New York City in the 1920's. You'd be lucky to find two dozen today. More proof of our declining culture.


But I'd say that only supports my belief, not rebukes it. All of those old-timey pool players would be doing something else these days. Surely you can't think that only the most naturally talented potential pool players are attracted to the game; there's a discover process, a winnowing, a refinement of talent that produces the best wheat when allowed to shed much chaff. The same thing certainly held for boxing during this same period, when New York played host to hundreds of boxing clubs and you could find a professional card every night of the week. In today's environment do you think there's a chance in hell Benny Leonard (still universally considered an all-time elite lightweight) becomes a boxer? All-time elite lightheavyweight Gene Tunney? That's boxing's loss. Obviously that's a good thing for an contemporary Leonard or Tunney equivalents of course, their brains have more value to society as something more than targets but that's neither here nor there.

In addition, the equipment today is far tougher than BITGOD.


Well that's an entirely separate issue, and one very pertinent to boxing as well, as the 1920s was an era with 6oz gloves, almost no referee stoppages, varying judging rules and standards, and nonexistent athletic commissions that allowed Harry Greb to fight 20+ times a year. Today's bigger, more uniform gloves with high tech padding means broken hands are things of the past, opening up new techniques of punching and blocking, for example. I don't think that detracts from the larger point - bigger pool equates to better talent at the top, all things considered.
   99. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:16 AM (#4356339)
Ultimately we just know more about Ty Cobb's playing career than Oscar Charleston's. And at that extremely high level of performance, it gives Cobb an advantage if we were to take a best guess at how good they were. Gibson is the only one whom the statistical and contemporary evidence we have is so overwhelming that I think he reaches that level of certainty. People thought Lloyd and Charleston were great players. They stared in disbelief at Gibson.

Charleston was often compared to Cobb by many of their Major League contemporaries, and not unfavorably, and by white sportswriters who saw him play. McGraw thought Charleston was better. There's no way to prove any of that, but there's one more thing we do know: Cobb refused to compete against blacks after a not so great showing against some black Cuban teams early in his career. Perhaps it was merely racism on Cobb's part, but in that case it seems strange that that same racism wouldn't have stopped him from playing against blacks before. OTOH Charleston never ducked competing against whites.
   100. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:29 AM (#4356347)
All of those old-timey pool players would be doing something else these days. Surely you can't think that only the most naturally talented potential pool players are attracted to the game; there's a discover process, a winnowing, a refinement of talent that produces the best wheat when allowed to shed much chaff.

I'd say that's true if you were just to talk about the United States, but that bigger American talent pool has now been replaced by the foreign pool, which is infinitely deeper, especially in Asia. If that hadn't happened, I'd be more likely to consider your point valid. Speaking from my relatively limited experience, there was far more pool talent in the Washington area 40 or 45 years ago than there is today. But since the top local players now compete on a national level, and the top national players compete against the best foreign players, the talent at the very top hasn't really dropped. I've seen the best of them play since the mid-1960's and the best players from any era aren't any better or worse than the players from other time periods.

Of course pool is also different from boxing in one very important respect: In pool, there's almost never been a (male) player since Willie Mosconi who's been capable of winning more than about 20% of the biggest tournaments against world competition; the talent difference among the top 10 players is much smaller than the difference among the top 10 boxers in any weight division.
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