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Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Something Better

Who are the best?

I absolutely love baseball history. Always have, as far back as I can remember,   it?s been my favorite part of the game. The Hall of Fame has been central to   this for me, since the first time I visited the shrine (during the 1983 World   Series, my 11th birthday present was the trip, a 5-hour drive from   Long Island). As I walked through the Plaque Room back then, I just assumed   these were the greatest players of all time, because we were told they were,   and writers must know more than an 11-year old.

Two years later, I read my first ?Baseball Abstract?. At that point, I started   questioning the conventional wisdom, and along with this, I started to wonder   about the players in the Hall of Fame. I received my first ?McMillan Encyclopedia?   for my 16th birthday, and when I saw the numbers of some these guys   I started thinking, huh?

I finally was able to read the ?Historical Baseball Abstract? during the summer   of 1991, and my respect for the Hall of Fame selections dipped some more. Then   came the ?Politics of Glory? (renamed ?Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?).   I was especially disturbed by the Veterans Committee?s dark periods, 1945 and   the early 70?s. I?ve hated Frankie Frisch (the dominant force on the early 70?s   Committee) ever since. These were to the two periods where the majority of mistakes   and arbitrary decisions came from. Lee Allen on the other hand, who was a large   contributor to the Committee in the 1960?s (a period where many of the mistakes   of the mid-1940s were corrected) became one of my all-time baseball heroes.   I started thinking this guy had the job I was born for. At this point, I was   convinced that I needed to come up with something better, even if it was just   for my own benefit.

In reading the historical book, I was very impressed with the article about   ?Honors?. In this article, James talks about how well constructed the MVP ballot   is (the voters aren?t great, but the system is pretty solid), and how poorly   constructed the Hall of Fame voting system is. The major drawbacks are that   there is no way to express degrees in voting, and the election cutoff is arbitrary   (75%), not absolute (say 2 per year).

So the Hall of Something came to my mind. I couldn?t think of a good name,   and other than some 80?s baseball cards and a Bobby Ramos autographed Tommy   John replica glove, I didn?t have much memorabilia to draw visitors to my basement.   But I figured, ?you?ve gotta start somewhere? and started working on it anyway.   I re-worked my way through ?Politics? and came up with a list of mistake players.   I also came up with a list of unjustly shunned players.

Then I started thinking of going back to 1935 and trying see who should have   been elected in each election, only I would take the top players each year based   on actual voting, whether or not they garnered 75% of the vote. I started by   allowing 5 in for 1935, 4 for 1936-37, 3 in 1938-39, then when the elections   were down to every 3 years I?d take the top 9. By the late 1940s, satisfied   that the 65 years of baseball history before elections had been made up for,   I cut it to two per season (or a multiple of this for years where the elections   alternated). I also tweaked my annual ?elections? by allowing the Bill James   top 100 lists to override the BBWAA vote when appropriate. This list came out   better that what is in the Hall presently, but still shunned the 19th   Century players and Negro Leaguers.

At that point (October 2000), I stumbled onto ?Baseball Reference?, while looking   for info about the 1996 Marlins. Then a few months later, I noticed the ?Outside   the Box? weblog and discovered that I wasn?t the only baseball lunatic out there.   I started talking with Robert Dudek, and over several months, we refined these   ideas. He came up with a name that made a lot of sense. ?Fame? shouldn?t the   criteria for selection, ?merit? should be. We should label our ?shrine? for   what it takes to get in, not the reward for getting in. We had a name - the   Hall of Merit.

Our basic premise is not that there are too many people in the Hall of Fame,   but that there are too many mistakes. Around April 2001 I became aware of the   r-s-bb Hall of Fame. I think their concept is excellent, with elections every   year, etc. But I felt that it was too exclusive a club. Only 83 players have   been enshrined, and it took greats like Willie McCovey over 15 years to get   in. Again, I really don?t think there are too many people enshrined, just too   many mistakes. Add Ron Santo and Stan Hack and remove George Kell and Freddy   Lindstrom, for example, and the Hall looks better. Get rid of Tommy McCarthy   and put Deacon White in and we take it up another notch. A few more of these   ?trades? and all of the sudden, the whole thing starts looking a lot better.   Everybody knows that Ruth, Mantle and Mays are the greats. The key in my opinion   is honoring the correct people that are just a notch below them as well. The   r-s-bb Hall is great as an inner circle, but we feel that it is too exclusive.

By starting over, we can correct the mistakes of Cooperstown?s past.

Over the next several years, we will travel through time, selecting the greatest   players in the history of baseball, and learning a good deal in the process.   We want to correct the flaws of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voting   system. We?ve decided to start with elections in 1915. This will put the great   players of the 19th Century on the first few ballots, so we ensure   that we are electing them as well. 19th Century baseball is largely   forgotten, but w/the statistical advances of the last 30 years we can finally   evaluate them fairly. The great players of that era deserve to be enshrined,   even if they weren?t as great as today?s stars, they have a place in history,   and real pennants were won and lost during that time.

We?ve kept the 5-year waiting period in tact, so the first elections will encompass   careers ending in 1910 or earlier. The basic structure of the ballot will be   an MVP-type vote, where electors will vote for the top 10, in order (ties are   allowed on the ballot). We still aren?t sure about the weighting, and we?d like   to open that up to the mathematicians out there for debate. We were leaning   towards the 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the BBWAA, but recently we?ve heard that   14 might be too much for first place, we?re open to ideas there.

As for the number of people to be elected, we?ve run a spreadsheet that takes   the ?team seasons? into account (we?ve adjusted downward for the early years,   it?s not a straight X teams equals X electees), and we want to allow for some   ?make up? selections, since the first election will encompass 40 years of careers   (1871-1910). We are going to start with 5 for the 1915 and 1916 elections, 4   from 1917-19, 3 from 1920-25 and then 2 per year through 1977. At that point,   we?ll start upping the number elected, to account for expansion and growth in   the population. From 1978-83 we’ll alternate 3 per year in even years, 2 in   odd years. From 1984-94 we’ll elect 3 players per season. Starting in 1995 we’ll   elect 4 players every 4th year, 3 in the other years. In 2007 we’ll   start alternating between 3 (even years) and 4 (odd years) players per season.   Players will never lose eligibility. Both Robert and I feel that this is crucial:   it means that if new information about a player comes to light that player can   benefit (as an example, I offer Bill James? reassessment of Phil Rizzutto based   on new evidence of his defensive prowess). It also means that if a voter thinks   there were more great players from a certain era than in others, he can vote   for a player that might have been squeezed out by his contemporaries in his   previous tries. Since the inherent structure of the vote forces the best   players to the top of the ballot, there is no reason to remove players from   the process artificially. Following this procedure, we’ll have 218 honorees   after the 2002 ceremony. The current Hall of Fame has 215 members (as players),   with a few more coming in 2002.

We?ve thought of putting a positional quota in, with one player at each position   (plus 4 pitchers) required in each decade. If a decade?s ballots come up short   at a position, in the last year of the decade we?d have two elections, one for   the position that is short, and one for everyone else. This is open to debate   though.

As far as criteria, numbers aren?t everything: there are things we cannot account   for in the numbers. But since we have them, we are going to make them available   to help you with your ballots. Players? contributions on the field are   to be the main criteria for selection; off-field actions should only be taken   into account for the effect they had on the players? teams on the field of play.   The language may be tweaked so as many people are comfortable with the criteria   as possible. We want to make the criteria reasonably broad so that each voter   is able to interpret them according to his own tastes.

Robert has done some excellent work on figuring the relative strengths of the   leagues each year during the 19th Century, so this will help us to   distinguish the greats as well. He?s also figured positional replacement levels   from 1871-1919. Jim Furtado is going to have Offensive XWins going back to 1900   pretty soon.

We will present numbers to show players? contributions in the proper context.   We hope these tools will help you with your decisions. A page will be set up   for each player, and we?ll post things like adjusted offensive wins and losses,   Win Shares Gold Gloves, TPR (although I think the defensive part of TPR is useless,   we?ll put the data there), etc. The goal is to make as much information as possible   available. If any of you have your own stats that you think would be good to   add (Hoyts, let?s say), let us know, and we?ll post those too. We?ll adjust   things like Win Shares, TPR, etc. for the shorter seasons in the 1870?s and   80?s, strike years, etc., so everything is on a 162 game scale. There will be   a Hall of Merit Weblog set up as well, where we?ll be able to discuss the ballot,   the process, lobby for players, etc. We want to spend the next few weeks discussing   these aspects of the project with the Primer readership.

As far as the first election is concerned, we want to wait for the Win Shares   Book to come out in April. There are several reasons for this. I personally   think the defensive analysis we get from Win Shares will be light years ahead   of anything we?ve had previously. Although Win Shares pegs the replacement level   too low (zero) this can be adjusted for. Also, since this information will be   available, it?d be terrible to make mistakes that could have been avoided. Waiting   a few months is a little frustrating, but it will also mean a more solid foundation   for the first election, so why not wait? The goal should be to have as much   information available as possible. This is especially important for the earlier   elections, where we have the least amount of information.

Another reason for waiting is that the first election will encompass 40 years   and a huge number of candidates. After the first election, a much smaller number   will be added to the pool for subsequent elections, which will be much easier   to handle.

We?ll set up a Plaque Room as well, where people can go and we?ll have all   sorts of things there: pictures (depending on copyrights), stats, links to purchase   books about the player, etc.

We look forward to your comments, suggestions, and ballots. The Hall of Merit   weblog should be up shortly. In the meantime, feel free to comment here or drop   Robert and I an email. We want to emphasize that this will be a Primer community   project.

This is going to be fun.

 

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 11, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Robert Dudek Posted: December 11, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604456)
I just want to clarify one point.

The by-line says Joe Dimino and Robert Dudek. The truth is that Joe wrote the piece - I threw in a few suggestions and helped edit it. That's why the article starts with "I" instead of "We".
   2. Robert Dudek Posted: December 11, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604458)
Ryan...

In answer to your question, that has yet to be determined but we will most likely be posting new material at www.mostlybaseball.com very soon and, with Sean and Jim's permission, linking to it from here.

Joe and I would like to do a review of the players who retired during and after the 2001 season. We'll probably start looking at some of the less heralded ones soon, like Stan Javier, Eric Davis (remember when he was a baseball god?) and Tony Fernandez.

   3. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604459)
Yes, this _is_ going to be fun.

By the way, a note about Win Shares : having gone through the book more carefully, I really do believe that, based on some of the comments I've seen, the WS system does use a replacement level of the "marginal" level, and not a "zero" level. I do think James has some sort of normalization that brings negative figures up to zero... it's hard to tell. I have little to go on (and the comment that a zero-level WS is someone who "can't play" gives me pause) but a general feeling, though.

And yes, I agree about the Win Shares treatment of defensive numbers being advanced (I actually think that the way James is analyzing numbers is similar to how Diamond Mind do their defensive analysis.. does anyone know how DMB arrive at their ratings?) But we should certainly begin discussing the candidates before the book comes out... there are a LOT of candidates to sort through who retired before 1910.

This will be a great project, great for the website, and a huge time-sink for a lot of us!
   4. Carl Goetz Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604465)
Craig,
If you go to DiamondMind's site, they have a complete article about their defensive ratings.
www.diamondmind.com
   5. Carl Goetz Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604466)
Where will the ballots and player analysis be posted? On this site? I want to make sure I'm in on this from the beginning.
   6. Robert Dudek Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604467)
Our idea is to distribute the ballots via e-mail. They will be made available to anyone who wishes to vote. We already have a list of interested voters which numbers in the several dozens.

The elections will probably not take place for awhile, but info and articles will start appearing shortly.

We would like to make the ballots public and we will ask every voter to state their reasoning behind their selections.
   7. Carl Goetz Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604469)
How can I get on the emailing list?
   8. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604470)
To get on the list, send an email to the address above this post it is different than the email address I normally use when posting on this site. I should have put that in the article, but I wasn't sure how it would come out when published.

Robert has done some great work at pegging the replacement level for 19th century players and that will be published soon. He's also worked on figuring the comparitive strength of the leagues (such as 1876 NL v. 1882 NL) through 1900 at least, maybe 1910, I'm not sure how far he's come.

Steve, James uses 1/3 WS because, "it works". He thinks using single WS would not distinguish enough. That is an 8 WS would encompass too wide a range. Allowing him to use 23, 24 or 25 to describe "8" WS gives the system more flexibility. But on the same token, he thinks decimals are too precise, they imply a level or precision that does not exist. He's confident a 25 is slightly better than a 24, but not confident that 8.4 is better than 8.3, so a "25" makes them even. He also said that he could have used 1/2 or 1/4 as the scale and those would work, but whole numbers and decimals don't.

There is a big advantage to 1/3's, and I don't even know if he realized it when he chose 1/3's, but the pitcher WS tend to come out equal to wins. That's because one of the inherent assumptions is that on a normal team that does everything equally well, the offense gets 50% of the WS, the defense gets 16.25% and the pitchers 37.5%. Since a WS is 33% of a win, the pitcher WS are instantly meaningful, from an intuitive sense.

   9. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604472)
Jason: You don't have to be any good to be above the 'marginal' level... half the league average in runs scored, or 1.5 times the league average in runs allowed.

Carl: When you read the "Evaluating Defense" article, it goes into tantalizingly few details about how their rating system actually works. Tippett does talk about the need for individual defense ratings to "add up" in a team context, which leads me to believe that they use a system that may look similar to WS, but perhaps without James' adjustments for false normalization.

Steve: I assume that the WS calibration was set at 1/3 of wins, in order to make the number as equivalent as possible (over a career) to wins by a starting pitcher. Since a pitcher's contribution is ballparked by James at 32.25% of wins, (67.5% times the 50% of winning that is preventing runs) a pitcher's "win" is equivalent to about 1/3 of a win. Setting up the equivalence this way allows at a glance to judge a season or career by an already-established metric... we know what a 10-win season by a starter means, we know what a 25-win season by a starter would mean, and we know what 150 and 300 career wins "mean", roughly speaking.

Second point: simply because WS add to the raw total doesn't mean there isn't a replacement level calculation done; the calculation could take place internally in the figuring of the statistic rather than externally in discounting the "raw" statistic to replacement level. More simply: you can use a player's contribution _in excess_ of a base value (in James's case, I think, it's the "marginal" value) and use that to apportion team wins amongst the players. So instead of figuring each player's raw runs created, and apportioning the offensive win shares according to each player's percentage of runs created, you use runs created above marginal and use that to apportion the win shares.

An example from the book will show what I am saying. In the '69 Phillies example, Dick Allen has 22 WS and Cookie Rojas, playing next to him in the infield, has 3. So Dick Allen has seven times the win shares of Rojas.

All things being equal, we know how unlikely it is that the "raw" defensive contribution of a 2B playing 100 games can't possibly be much less than the "raw" defensive contribution of a 1B playing 118 games, no matter how you slice it. So if James is using raw figures, then Dick Allen must have created seven times as many runs as Cookie Rojas (he has about 496 PA and made 329 outs, Cookie had about 426 PA and made 330 outs. I don't see any adjustment necessary for the opportunity factor, as they made practically the same number of outs.)

Using basic runs created, Allen created 97 runs. Rojas created 31 runs.

That's only 3 times as many, which doesn't get Allen to seven times the contribution. There's a further problem, as well, which is that the defensive contribution needs to be subtracted from the 22 and 3 WS respectively. (Even if both had just one WS of defensive contribution, Allen has then TEN times more contribution with the bat). And Cookie's raw numbers aren't bad defensively; it would take a _big_ adjustment drop to take his defensive value down to zero.

But if we adjust those raw totals, and use a "replacement" level of marginal runs (as James seems to advocate) then the numbers can come out correctly.

Anyway, I hope that's clear. These numbers don't make any sense unless they are calculated using some sort of replacement level... the variations are much too large.

By the way, the NL average RS was 4.05 in 1969, making the marginal offensive rate about 2 runs per 27 outs. Rojas created about 2.5 runs per 27, making his contribution above marginal 0.5. Allen created about 7.9 runs per 27 outs, making his contribution above marginal 5.9, or twelve times as many runs above marginal than The Cookster, leaving lots of room for a figure for defensive contributions which makes sense.
   10. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604473)
That should say pitchers get 37.75%, oops.
   11. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604474)
That should say pitchers get 37.75%, oops.
   12. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604475)
I'm pretty certain Diamond Mind uses play-by-play data for their ratings. From what I understand, Tom Ruane works with them or has worked with them, if he's reading, maybe he can expand on this.

Sorry for the double post earlier.
   13. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604477)
As far as managers go, here's my suggestion, based on your format. Have seperate elections for managers, maybe every 5 "years" or so, and only a person's managerial record would be considered (this works in parallel with your decision to limit criteria for players for what they did on the field.) I don't think that there's any reason NOT to include them. I think most voters would feel comfortable with their ability to judge managerial skill.

I think that this sort of thing COULD be extended to other areas, and it might be worth considering an election category for exceutives/GMs/comissioners/labor leaders/whatnot, because the Hall of Fame has made mistakes in these areas as well (Morgan Bulkley, anyone?)
   14. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604478)
Negro Leaguers will be considered with all of the other players, there won't be a special committee or anything like that. If we see people excluding obvious Negro Leaguers from their ballots then we might have to adjust the process, but I don't see that happening, we have a pretty knowledgable group here :-)

As for managers, that's tougher. We could maybe set up a Manager's Committee, or better yet a seperate ballot, that elects 1 every 5 years? I'm open to suggestions there. I think a few managers from each era would be a great idea.

Minor Leaguers are much tougher. There is little data, and even most hard core people don't know a lot about these guys, other than what Bill James has written, unless they've taken a particular interest and followed through on it. Maybe we could set up a seperate "wing" for them. I could definitely be underestimating the knowledge level.

I wouldn't be comfortable with running that operation due to my lack of knowledge, but I'd love it if someone would volunteer to run that "wing", provide relevant, strong information so we can vote knowledgably, etc. I think that would be great. If someone wants to volunteer to run that end, leave a post here or send me an email.

   15. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:17 AM (#604479)
Devin, I hadn't seen your post, when I posted.

That's pretty funny, that we both came up with that idea for manager elections at the same time. Great minds must think alike!
   16. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604485)
Jordan,

What we (I say we meaning those of us that peg replacement as zero) are saying is that a replacement level player has zero value because you can pluck a guy from AAA or Japan or Mexico or the Devil Rays that can do the exact same thing. So what a player does up to that level is essentially not worth anything, because you can find "anyone" to do it. You can pull an even trade and not give up anything of value for a replacement that can accomplish the same thing. The player performing at replacement level does not bring any added value to the team, so he is easily replacable.

I agree that everyone on the team contributes, but when you set replacement level at zero, you are only giving credit for the extra value a player brings. A player above the replacement level can't just be replaced by someone from AAA or Baltimore without the team losing something, so that is where his true value begins.
   17. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604486)
One more thing Jordan . . . a player below the replacement level really does hurt the team, because he could be replaced by someone off the proverbial scrap heap that is better.
   18. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 13, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604491)
Good point curious. I can't believe it took a day for the Rose topic to surface.

I felt like Rose and Jackson would be eligible. There is a rough (subject to discussion/change) layout of the rules on www.MostlyBaseball.com. In there, we state that a player's performance on the field is what should be considered, and his off field performance should only be considered if it affected his team(s) on the field.

I realize I'm in the minority on the Rose issue. I think even if he did bet (which we don't know for sure), he's been punished long enough. I also think the facts are cloudy on Jackson at best.

I imagine there will be a strong enough block against to keep them out even if they are eligible, but it was my intent that they would be eligible. I'm not sure what Robert thinks, I really can't remember discussing it with him.

I hate opening this topic up, because all discussion inevitably shifts there, like your eyes when you drive by a car wreck. Once the blog is set up (I think Dec. 19 is the goal), we'll set up a thread to discuss this topic. Can this wait until then?
   19. Carl Goetz Posted: December 13, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604492)
If we're basing this entirely on on-field performance, I think they both should be eligible. I'll probably give Jackson a 1st place vote the 1st election he is eligible.
   20. Eric Enders Posted: December 13, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604493)
I agree that both Jackson and Rose should be eligible.

However, it could be argued that their off-the field activities did influence their team's performace on the field. Indeed, that possibility is the very reason that both were banned in the first place.

Each voter will have to weigh this issue carefully on their ballot. How great can a player really be if he tries to lose the most important games?

Anyway, I'm not losing much sleep over it either way. Sometimes I just wish Rose and Jackson had never existed so I wouldn't have to listen to all the inane drivel that people spew forth about them.
   21. Robert Dudek Posted: December 13, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604495)
The following are my own opinions only, not Hall of Merit policy statements:

1) Managers should have their own wing, but I think we should wait until the Players wing is up and running before we start on that project.

2) In principle, every player should be eligible. This should include Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose, however I think a voter ought to have the right to leave a "disgraced" player off his/her ballot if they so choose and if they are ready to justify their decision.

3) Negro leaguers and minor leaguers are eligible. The candidacy of every player depends a lot of the quality of objective information available about their performance (especially the context). I would not feel comfortable putting a player I knew almost nothing about on my ballot. It would be a great help if anyone who had access to info, especially numbers, to post it on the site (i.e. the eventual Hall of Merit section of Baseball Primer). But I also respect the right of voters to use more subjective criteria if "objective" information is lacking.

4) In this regard, any studies which estimate the "playing strength" of minor leagues and negro leagues would be an invaluable aid in assessing the merits of players who were not able to play in the "majors" for a significant period of time or indeed at all.

   22. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 14, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604504)
jdw-

Seaver was a zero in 1982. Spahn's 1964 was a 1 and Matty's 1915 was actually a 4.

Ed Brandt has 3 WS to show for his efforts in 1935, which included 5-19, 76 ERA+ over 174.667 IP, the Braves 50-103 mark didn't hurt.

Lefty Grove in 1934 was 8-8, but with a 74 ERA+ in 109.3 IP and he picked up 2 WS.

Dennis Eckersley's 1983 was classic, 176.3 IP, 9-13, ERA+ 78, 3 WS.

Greg Maddux 1987, 155.7 IP, ERA+ 77, 6-14, 2 WS.

Steve Carlton 1986 and 87 - 9-14, 176.3 IP, ERA+ 78, 4 WS; 6-14, 152 IP, ERA+ 80, 4 WS.

I wish I had Mike Parrott's 1980 season 1-16, 7.28 ERA (57 ERA+), only 94 IP though. That HAS to be a zero. Might be the worst year any pitcher has had in the last two decades. 7.28.

Could anyone forget Don August's 1989? 12-12 and just 2 WS, in 142.3 IP. 73 ERA+. What was his Run Support?! 1.67 WHIP in County Stadium in a pitcher's year (DH league, 3.88 ERA) and he goes 12-12.

Still couldn't find anyone to rival Seaver 1982 with 0 WS in more innings. I'm sure there's someone, but we'll have to wait for the book. Craig Anderson of the 1962 Mets had 1 WS in 131.3 IP. He was 3-17 with an ERA+ of 78. Craig Minetto had 1 WS for the 1979 A's, he was 1-5, with an ERA+ of 73 in 118.3 IP.
   23. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: December 15, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604506)
Steve, don't forget that James's "replacement level" is really really low... the "marginal rate" is a player who contributes at a level of one-half the league average on offense or 50% over the league average on defense. Gus Bell looks to me to have been performing at a bit under the marginal rate.

I also suspect that negative win shares on either offense, defense, or the mound are arbitraily "zeroed" and then redistributed amongst teammates.

By the way, since the zero-win-share level (the marginal rate) is 50% over the league average defensively, a raw, context-independent estimate of the zero-level for a pitcher is an ERA+ of 67.
   24. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: December 16, 2001 at 01:18 AM (#604514)
Steve,

The WS "zero-line" of an ERA+ of 67 is only a guideline. Broberg's 2 WS with 118 2/3 innings and an ERA+ of 67 could be explained in any of a few possible ways.

First, and most likely, the '73 Rangers were a poor defensive club. I would offer this as a conjecture, but I really don't think much conjecture is needed. Jim Mason and Toby Harrah (neither of whom was very good defensively) split the year at short, Jeff Burroughs played in right, a converted infielder (Vic Harris) took most of the centrefield duties. Rico Carty, in his last extended PT in the field, played 53 games in the outfield.

If the Rangers are poor defensively, they take "credit" for some of Broberg's poor ERA, therefore moving his own contribution off the zero-line. This is by far the most likely thing to have happened.

(Of course, whether the Rangers' defense should necessarily take much credit for Broberg getting bombed (given his perhipherals, which are pretty awful) is another story.)

There are other possibilities. James may be using different park factors, which could move the figures a little bit... BR.com has his ERA+ at 67, Total Baseball at 66. The other possibility is that Broberg might have given up an unusually low number of unearned runs. I don't know if that's true; I don't have RA data from '73 on hand. Finally, Broberg may get a boost from situational data.
   25. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 19, 2001 at 01:19 AM (#604580)
Steve, in a rating system, I don't think comparing a player to the league average is really of any use, at least no more use than comparing a player to 1.2 or .86 or whatever of the league average. It's a just a number of no real significance.

You'd be better off comapring the player to the league average above the replacement level, or anything relative to the replacement level IMO. What you need to do in the situation you propose, is look at the available options, and compare each option in cost and performance above the replacement level. This is really all you need, as it covers every possible situation.

Player X 3.3
Player Y 4.5
Average 3.2
Replacement level 0

If you compare Player X and Player Y to the average, you'd say that Player Y is 13 times more valuable (+.1 vs. +1.3). This is inaccurate. If I could have Player X for $1 million or Player Y for $13 million, I'd take Player X, because it frees up more resources to help the team.

If you compare Player X and Player Y to the replacement level, you'd say that Player Y is 36% better. And you'd be exactly correct. Player Y will produce at a rate 36% better than player Y. If you are going to have to pay Player X $9.5 million and player Y $13 million, you've got a much tougher decision, and really, you could flip a coin, because both players are being paid the same, relative to their contribution.
   26. jimd Posted: December 27, 2001 at 01:20 AM (#604641)
Definitely sounds like an interesting project.

I'm curious to see how the change in voting system works out. That aspect would be most interesting though if the balloting began in 1936, which would make it more directly comparable to the actual BBWAA results.

The proposed MVP-style ballot sets up a directly competitive process
that should work well when there are obvious candidates, but may produce some surprises when there are no strong candidates on the ballot. (How profound, just like the MVP awards.) The inability of the electorate to say "There are NOT ENOUGH qualified candidates
on this ballot" may result in a clunker or two (relatively speaking) being elected.
   27. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 28, 2001 at 01:20 AM (#604644)
Jim, I don't think that will be a problem (clunkers). I ran through a few "mock" elections while I was developing this whole idea, and there really was never a shortage of candidates.

I'm pretty confident there are definitely 200+ qualified players out there. The problem with the current system is all of the mistakes. If we could trade out the 20-30 worst Hall of Famers for the 20-30 most qualified non-Hall of Famers, we wouldn't be talking about how there are too many in there.

I think it's very important to go a notch below the Mantle's and Mays's, but to GET IT RIGHT when you do. For one, what would a Hall of Fame of Mantle's and Mays's tell us that we don't already know? We all know who those guys are, and in our heads they are in an inner circle already. The more inclusive the honor is (within reason, and I think ~200 is reasonable), the more careers we get to look back on remember when we visit the institution.

But by honoring the Bobby Grich's and Jimmy Wynn's, instead of the Kiki Cuyler's and Bill Mazeroski's, we'll end up with a much better appreciation of who the truly valuable players of a generation were, after the household names. So when the average fan peeks in, he'll say, "wow, I didn't realize (insert player) was that good." I can't overstate how important I think this is.

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