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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tito Francona, a Former Baseball All-Star, Dies at 84

Tito Francona, a former All-Star who played for 15 seasons in the major leagues and was the father of Terry Francona, the Cleveland Indians’ manager, died on Tuesday night at his home in New Brighton, Pa. He was 84.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2018 at 09:02 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cleveland, cleveland indians, general, indians, obituaries

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   1. DanG Posted: February 15, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5625771)
Led the AL in Hitting Average in 1959 with .363!
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 15, 2018 at 07:58 PM (#5625808)
I first remember Tito Francona from his playing days as an Indian, and until I read this obit I always thought he was Latino. But then for many years I thought Lou Piniella's ancestors were Italian.
   3. wjones Posted: February 16, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5626028)
That Indians outfield in 1959 was stacked! How did they lose to the Chisox?
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 16, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5626043)
Not very hard to explain: Outside the 3 OFers (Colavito, Francona, Minoso), they didn't have much in the way of position players. And their starting pitching couldn't match the White Sox. The 5 game margin that the Sox won by was more than covered by the 15-7 head-to-head split.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 16, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5626049)
Led the AL in Hitting Average in 1959 with .363!

except, under the rules at the time (minimum 400 ABs)--he didn't qualify--same reason Teddy Ballgame didn't officially win it in 1954

it is impossible to explain how bad an outfielder Tito was--a born DH but born 25 years too early
   6. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: February 16, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5626058)
it is impossible to explain how bad an outfielder Tito was--a born DH but born 25 years too early


I regularly watched Adam Dunn "play" outfield. Hard to believe anyone could be worse than that
   7. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5626069)
under the rules at the time (minimum 400 ABs)--he didn't qualify
The 3.1 PA/G rule was in force by then, and Francona had less than the 477 needed to qualify.

Even by 1959 the term "Batting Average" had long since become an anachronism. When the term was coined, a measure of hits was all one needed to know to assess "batting". By 1920, walks, homeruns, etc had to be accounted for in any accurate assessment of "batting".

So what we call Batting Average is actually Hitting Average. To qualify for the Hitting Average title, the qualifier should be the number of hits, not PA. In 1959 Francona had 145 hits, tied for 15th in the league. He clearly qualifies for the Hitting average title.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5626107)

Even by 1959 the term "Batting Average" had long since become an anachronism. When the term was coined, a measure of hits was all one needed to know to assess "batting". By 1920, walks, homeruns, etc had to be accounted for in any accurate assessment of "batting".

So what we call Batting Average is actually Hitting Average. To qualify for the Hitting Average title, the qualifier should be the number of hits, not PA. In 1959 Francona had 145 hits, tied for 15th in the league. He clearly qualifies for the Hitting average title.


Yes, that's much simpler.
   9. BDC Posted: February 16, 2018 at 01:15 PM (#5626114)
RIP. I did not realize till seeing his obituary that Francona was such a good player or such a recent player. I have no memory of him from 1967-70. My impression of him was of some forgettable Phillies' journeyman from the '50s, but his actual forgettable Phillies stint was in '67. He was not only a legitimate star c.1960 – he also batted .286 in 1968, and then .318 in 1969 (though not qualifying for the Average title either time) … he was pretty good (with the bat, at least).
   10. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5626143)
I, too, thought Tito was a Latino (if, indeed, I thought about it).

except, under the rules at the time (minimum 400 ABs)--he didn't qualify--same reason Teddy Ballgame didn't officially win it in 1954

Except Williams would have won the batting title in '54 under present-day rules. Tito wouldn't have, as I remember the rule, would he have? And adding hitless ABs so he would qualify would reduce his BA to not much more than .300.
   11. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5626147)
So what we call Batting Average is actually Hitting Average. To qualify for the Hitting Average title, the qualifier should be the number of hits, not PA. In 1959 Francona had 145 hits, tied for 15th in the league. He clearly qualifies for the Hitting average title.
Likewise, what we call Slugging Average is actually Total Bases on Hits Average. (Slugging Average would be a perfect name for what is called Isolated Power.)

In 2011 Mike Napoli led the AL in Slugging Average with .631 but is not recognized as the league leader because he had only 432 PA. But if you use the proper qualifier for this category, Total Bases rather than PA, Napoli is seen as the rightful leader. His 233 TB were good for a tie for 42nd in the 14-team AL, whereas 74 players officially qualified for the SLG title (502 PA).

There are a lot of unrecognized league leaders such as this, due to using the wrong qualifier for the category.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:15 PM (#5626148)
Except Williams would have won the batting title in '54 under present-day rules. Tito wouldn't have, as I remember the rule, would he have?

you're right--he only had 446 PAs--for some reason, Joe Gordon didn't start playing him regularly until june
   13. gef the talking mongoose, amorphous lefty blob Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5626153)
Wow, does his son look like him.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5626162)
In 2011 Mike Napoli led the AL in Slugging Average with .631 but is not recognized as the league leader because he had only 432 PA. But if you use the proper qualifier for this category, Total Bases rather than PA, Napoli is seen as the rightful leader. His 233 TB were good for a tie for 42nd in the 14-team AL, whereas 74 players officially qualified for the SLG title (502 PA).


So you establish the qualifiers for the SLG title by PAs, but the winner qualifies by TB? That's bizarre.

Ultimately, it seems as if you're saying that as long as the guy with the highest rate had more total bases than the worst "qualified" hitter, he should win the SLG title.
   15. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5626163)
I, too, thought Tito was a Latino (if, indeed, I thought about it).


I figured he had to be Yugoslavian.
   16. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5626164)
Ha, I never thought of that either.
   17. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:42 PM (#5626171)
So you establish the qualifiers for the SLG title by PAs, but the winner qualifies by TB? That's bizarre.
No that's not it. You establish the qualifiers for the SLG title by TBs.

To determine the number of qualified players, use the 502 PA standard. In 2011 AL there were 74 qualifiers. Then to determine the SLG qualifiers, take the top 74 players in TB; in this case that's 183+ TB. Among those 74 players with 183 TB, Napoli had the highest SLG.

Similarly, to determine the qualifiers for the BA leadership, take the top 74 players in the AL in Hits that year. So that's everyone with 118+ hits. Napoli finished 6th in BA at .320.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5626186)
To determine the number of qualified players, use the 502 PA standard. In 2011 AL there were 74 qualifiers. Then to determine the SLG qualifiers, take the top 74 players in TB; in this case that's 183+ TB. Among those 74 players with 183 TB, Napoli had the highest SLG.

Similarly, to determine the qualifiers for the BA leadership, take the top 74 players in the AL in Hits that year. So that's everyone with 118+ hits. Napoli finished 6th in BA at .320.


OK, I guess that's more reasonable than how I initially interpreted it. I still don't understand why you think this is an improvement or that it makes a great deal of sense. It basically amounts to, if you get close to the PA standard, we'll give it to you.
   19. BDC Posted: February 16, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5626193)
I was looking for the oddest result that DanG's system would produce. I think it's probably Ted Williams in AB per HR, in 1953. (This is the inverse of the Macmillan Encyclopedia's old HR% number; it's just a curiosity, but B-Ref lists it anyway.)

Anyway, in 1953 Ted Williams hit 13 home runs in 91 at-bats, an even 7 ABs per HR. There were 42 batting-title qualifiers in the AL that year, and Williams tied for 16th-20th in the league in home runs.

Making Williams eligible for the AB/HR title gives him not just the league title in 1953, but the all-time AL record. The only mark better is Barry Bonds' 6.5 in 2001.

Except … there's something off about that, right? The rate of 7 AB/HR is great for a small sample, but Williams never came anywhere near it over a full season. His career best otherwise was 11.1 to lead the AL in 1957.
   20. gef the talking mongoose, amorphous lefty blob Posted: February 16, 2018 at 03:22 PM (#5626196)
Except … there's something off about that, right?


Steroids. Duh.
   21. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5626212)
The general principle is: to qualify for leadership in a rate stat where higher is better, the minimum qualification should be a certain number of the statistic for which the rate is being measured, and not the number of PA or IP. I think this is fair and logical.

So the qualifier should be
• Hits for BA
• TB for SLG
• TOB for OBP
• HR for HR%
• SB for SB%
• SO for SO/9
• W for WL%

The question of how many players should qualify is an open one. I’m saying to have as many qualifiers as there would be under the current system. But I acknowledge there are other ways to answer this question.

As for Williams in 1953, yes I think a guy who finishes tied for 16th in HR in an eight team league should qualify for the HR% leadership. The fact is, even if he failed to hit a HR in 81 more AB (about four weeks of play) he would still have a better HR% than the official leader did. However, I think to qualify for the AL record, you set a minimum number of HR, say 30, to qualify; so I wouldn’t list Williams as holding that record.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5626218)
The general principle is: to qualify for leadership in a rate stat where higher is better, the minimum qualification should be a certain number of the statistic for which the rate is being measured, and not the number of PA or IP. I think this is fair and logical.


Except you still have to use the number of PA or IP to establish a threshold for comparison (as you have here).

Rather than the Williams situation, how about this hypothetical? Mike Trout posts a .634 SLG this season in 710 PA. Chris Davis bounces back with the stick, but misses a month and a half with injury, the O's sit him against some tough lefties and he registers a .636 in just 380 PA.

In that scenario, what determines who wins the AL SLG title is whether enough offensively challenged middle infielders managed to stay healthy enough to reach the SLG PA threshold and push Davis's 241 TB into the required Top xx. Sorry, but I think that's a ludicrous way to determine a rate stat title. And it sure doesn't strike me as more sensible than simply adding the empty PAs to the appearance-challenged rate leader's stat line until he reaches the PA threshold.
   23. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5626221)
And it sure doesn't strike me as more sensible than simply adding the empty PAs to the appearance-challenged rate leader's stat line until he reaches the PA threshold.
How is this not ludicrous? To add empty PAs to someone’s record is creating an unrealistic hypothetical. Leaderships should be awarded on actual performance, and not through making unrealistic assumptions.

By adding empty PAs, you're saying a guy didn't make enough outs to qualify for the title. I see no sense in that.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 05:01 PM (#5626236)
How is this not ludicrous? To add empty PAs to someone’s record is creating an unrealistic hypothetical.


If it's truly ludicrous, perhaps you shouldn't have done the same thing in 21 to show why Ted was a reasonable leader in PA/HR.

Leaderships should be awarded on actual performance, and not through making unrealistic assumptions.


And based on his actual performance in a rate category, he didn't have enough PAs to qualify. The addition of empty PAs is a method of allowing to see if he was still good enough. If he was really close to the line, or if he was far enough in front of the next-best guy, he might do it. If he wasn't all that close to the threshold, or the race bewteen him and the next guy was tight, he probably won't. It won't be determined by whether he managed to finish ahead of enough crappy hitters who managed to scrape together the requisite PAs.


A primer on your proposal.

How do I win a SLG title? You've got to be close to the PA threshold.

How close? We're not sure, just enough so that your TBs exceeds the total produced by the guy who finished in xx-place in the category, given that xx number of guys have met the PA threshold.

However, you may want to watch the end of today's season-ending Mariners-A's game, because if Marcus Semien makes four trips to the plate, and Jarrod Dyson can squeeze out five, you're in.
   25. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 16, 2018 at 07:55 PM (#5626290)
what we call Batting Average is actually Hitting Average


I prefer Chadwick Ratio.

   26. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2018 at 09:09 PM (#5626304)
However, you may want to watch the end of today's season-ending Mariners-A's game, because if Marcus Semien makes four trips to the plate, and Jarrod Dyson can squeeze out five, you're in.

this reminds me of my hypothetical re the Wins category

someone texts you in the 9th inning and asks how the SP did today. you reply, "he looked good, but he left the game about 45 minutes ago after 7 innings. if this reliever in the 9th doesn't allow the game to be tied, then our SP did great. otherwise, our SP did just ok"
   27. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 16, 2018 at 10:54 PM (#5626319)
I prefer Chadwick Ratio.

that was me from 2007
   28. DanG Posted: February 16, 2018 at 11:38 PM (#5626323)
How close? We're not sure
Yeah, sometimes the race is undecided until the final day. So what else is new?
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: February 16, 2018 at 11:52 PM (#5626324)
Yeah, sometimes the race is undecided until the final day. So what else is new?


But in this case, the race would be decided by people other than the guys at the top of the leader board. That's definitely new in individual races.

You're never going to convince me that your solution is anything remotely approaching an improvement.

But maybe it's me. I'm legitimately curious if anyone else sees your proposal as a better way of determining rate stats.
   30. DanG Posted: February 17, 2018 at 12:53 AM (#5626329)
the race would be decided by people other than the guys at the top of the leader board.
This would be true in only an insignificant number of cases. Surely, the only race that people care about is the race for the Batting crown; the other rate stats in #21 tend to get public notice, if any, when the season is over.

So can you point to a real life example, under the system I'm advocating, when the BA race was decided on the last day by people other than the guys at the top of the leader board? I'd be surprised if it would ever have been a concern.

Also, pointing back to the thread topic, don't you think it would have been an improvement if the regular player with the league's highest batting average, Tito Francona, had been awarded the Batting Crown in 1959? There were several 20th century batting crown winners with less playing time. Isn't it bizarre that the player tied for the 5th most Offensive WAR in the league couldn't win the batting crown?

Do you have any suggestions for improving the current system?
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: February 17, 2018 at 01:37 AM (#5626333)
So can you point to a real life example, under the system I'm advocating, when the BA race was decided on the last day by people other than the guys at the top of the leader board? I'd be surprised if it would ever have been a concern.


No, and I have no interest in finding out if it there is one. But the truth is it can happen, which is ridiculous enough on its face for me to deem your proposal ludicrous.

I'm sorry, but you haven't made a compelling case why TB total (sort of), should be the determining factor in the SLG rate stat title.

In every season, you will have x number of players who will reach the PA/IP requirements for rate crowns. Those x number of players will never be the Top x number of players in any cumulative statistic. So you're already taking the sensible and consistent PA threshold for qualification and then just blending in some undetermined and random number of players below it (maybe 20 in this category, 30 in another) who are also in the running for a rate-stat crown. I honestly can't fathom how you think this is an improvement.

Also, pointing back to the thread topic, don't you think it would have been an improvement if the regular player with the league's highest batting average, Tito Francona, had been awarded the Batting Crown in 1959? There were several 20th century batting crown winners with less playing time. Isn't it bizarre that the player tied for the 5th most Offensive WAR in the league couldn't win the batting crown?


It's no more bizarre than the guys who finished first, two-thirds of the guys who finished second and the other guy who tied for third in offensive WAR didn't win the batting crown. They didn't because their batting averages weren't high enough, Tito I didn't because he didn't have enough PAs in a rate stat. Meeting both criteria are required to win a rate stat crown, as it should be.

Do you have any suggestions for improving the current system?


I don't think there's anything wrong with the current system.* MLB establishes a reasonable threshold for plate appearances/IP to claim an individual rate title. If you don't meet that threshold, you're not automatically eliminated, but can still claim the honor (with your actual total) if you would have won it even given empty PAs up to the threshold (as you did in 21 to support Teddy Ballgame). This system has the benefit of not ruling out the player who fell short of the PA/IP threshold, but also making the relative performance of the would-be champ/runner-up relevant to the discussion of who finishes first. Your method ignores him.

It may not be perfect in every instance, but I do believe it's the closest we can get. And, quite honestly, until this afternoon, I had never heard anyone who thought otherwise (I suppose there might be some hardcore "if you don't meet the PA threshold, you can't win it no matter how many empty PAs you add" types, but that's kind of far removed from the position you're taking).

Just because MLB is doin' it don't mean MLB is doin' it wrong.

* Other than sacrifice flies should count as at bats in BA and ROE should count as reaching base in OBA, but I don't think that's what you had in mind.
   32. BDC Posted: February 17, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5626372)
I'm legitimately curious if anyone else sees your proposal as a better way of determining rate stats

I don't. Any playing-time threshold you set for rate championships will be arbitrary, of course. But once it's set it should be set, not variable year-to-year.

A couple of caveats: some of the thresholds have changed over the years, and that B-Ref, for instance, incorporates those changes rather than figuring things consistently in retrospect. (See 1954, below.) And there is a growing trend for fewer starting pitchers to meet the one-IP-per-scheduled game mark, so that perhaps the consistent threshold in that case gives an inaccurate picture of who the best "regular" starters really are, anymore.

But anyway, rate-state titles, IMO, are about sustaining a rate for a whole season. The Williams example, though extreme, shows that in some cases (by DanG's reckoning) a brief hot streak could qualify as a season-long rate title. That seems to go against the spirit of rate titles.

As to adding empty PAs, I can see that either way. You have to be both very close and very good to win a title that way. But I can also see holding the line and saying that playing time must be actual playing time. The obvious difference is that nobody believes that Ted Williams could have stayed on a 7-AB/HR pace for the entirety of 1953, whereas in other cases a player clearly could have sustained his pace, because he would have had to achieve nothing at all positive to do so.

In fact the very next year, 1954, B-Ref does credit Williams with the AB/HR title (at 13.3) with empty-AB credit. Larry Doby was second in the AL in 1954 with 18, so Williams could sustain quite a few empty ABs before falling below Doby. I believe they must be empty ABs in this case because Williams had 526 PAs in '54, but drew his usual ton of walks, so eligibility must then have been figured on the number of ABs. In fact Williams would have won the 1954 batting title by DanG's calculation, since he hit .345 to Bobby Avila's .341 and had 133 hits, which must have been high enough. But adding empty ABs in that case drops Williams' BA below Avila's.

At least I think that's what's going on in 1954. This is pretty confusing territory.


   33. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 17, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5626378)
.
   34. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 17, 2018 at 01:33 PM (#5626405)
Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 16, 2018 at 10:54 PM (#5626319)


I prefer Chadwick Ratio.

that was me from 2007


Thanks! I will try to remember that so I can give suitable credit in future.

But 2007? Good lord we're old.
   35. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 17, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5626469)

I prefer Chadwick Ratio.

that was me from 2007


Thanks! I will try to remember that so I can give suitable credit in future.But 2007? Good lord we're old.


I was the first to use it here on BTF, but I didn't make it up--I heard it or read it somewhere; maybe on the old days of rsbb

Cordially...

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