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Thursday, March 21, 2002

The Man on the Outside Looking In

Don Malcolm champions his candidate to reach baseball’s elite status.

One adage that all armchair analysts are familiar with is that
when it comes to the Hall of Fame, players are less reliable than the
sportswriters in determining who should be admitted.

That adage was reconfirmed recently, in the form of a column by
Dave Anderson in the New York Times entitled “Who Is Not In The
Hall And Should Be By Now,” where the players once again proved
that-for the most part, at least-they really don’t have a handle on
this issue.

As usual, the player who is currently the most glaring omission
from Cooperstown was nowhere to be found in the players’ suggestions.

The occasion at which 26 Hall of Famers voiced their opinions
about which overlooked players deserved admission to the Hall was the
preview of the American Museum of Natural History’s “Baseball As
America” exhibit (check Sean
Forman’s blog
or Clutch
Hits
for links to AMNH). If, as Anderson intimates`, this is a
preview of how the Hall’s restructured Veterans’ Committee will
operate, look out below.

The names bandied about are some of the usual suspects-Gil
Hodges
, Tony Oliva, Jim Rice, and Maury
Wills
. Those first three are clearly borderline candidates; each
ranks at least in the top thirty by the method used in Bill James’ New
Historical Baseball Abstract. Interestingly, Wills ranks higher at
shortstop (19th) than any of these other candidates, but it’s hard to
see him as a serious candidate, even with laudatory comments coming
from someone as visible as Joe Morgan.

Morgan, however, made only a scant amount of sense in his
explanation. “He changed the dynamics of the game. You knew that home
run hitters would hit a home run or strike out; you could just play
your position. When Maury was on first base, you had to pay attention
to him every pitch.”

What Morgan omits, of course, is that Maury wasn’t on first as
often as some of those home run hitters, given his lifetime .331
OBP. Disruption, yes, but domination? Hardly.

This new Vets Committee just might wander down the road to
perdition that occurred in the late 60s and early 70s when Frank
Frisch
led the way for a parade of his ex-Giant teammates
(Travis Jackson, Freddie Lindstrom and George
Kelly
) to obtain entry into the Hall-a series of selections that
further blurred the line between achievement and the mere good fortune
of having friends in the right places.

There were many examples of teammates pushing teammates-Duke
Snider
pushing Hodges, for example. Stan Musial and Red
Schoendienst
touted shortstop Marty Marion, their teammate
on the great Cardinal teams of the early forties. Hank Aaron
plugged Lew Burdette with the odd statement “he won 200 games
when winning 200 games really meant something.” Carl Mays,
Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat might want
to know how winning more games than Burdette could somehow mean less.

Lou Brock pushed a Redbird from a later era-third baseman
Ken Boyer, his teammate on the 1964 world champs. Boyer
actually ranks 12th amongst third basemen in James’ revised rankings,
but he’s not the highest ranked third baseman who is not yet in the
Hall.

Some more intriguing suggestions came from Bob Feller and
Monte Irvin, though none of their candidates are slam dunks. In
the category of “what might have been” was Feller’s advocacy of
Cecil Travis, whose prime years were taken away from him by
World War II. Even with that, Travis ranks 29th on James’ list at
shortstop.

Feller’s other candidate would be a fine, albeit subtle, Veterans’
pick: catcher-outfielder Wally Schang, who ranks 20th among
catchers. Schang has been getting a boost from one source or another
ever since the first edition of the Historical Baseball Abstract in
1985, and I suspect that he’ll eventually get in. I’m much more
worried about that one guy that no one will name.

And no, that person isn’t Ron Santo, who ranks 6th on
James’ list at third base and is the other Player Who Needs To Go Into
The Hall Now. (Santo was championed by fellow third baseman Brooks
Robinson
.)  Both Santo and our Mystery Guest had careers that
petered out a bit too early for players with their levels of talent,
but their achievements and abilities are undeniable. Or at least they
should be.

Irvin had a much longer list, which included Allie
Reynolds
, Joe Gordon, and Alvin Dark (there’s that
teammate thing again), but the most intriguing name he tossed out was
Negro League outfielder Burnis “Wild Bill” Wright, who had a
mercurial 20+ year career, most notably with various incarnations of
the Elite Giants, a peripatetic team that moved from Nashville to
Baltimore with several stops in between. Wright is probably the most
outstanding Negro League player not yet in the Hall of Fame, and his
selection would continue a process of recognition that should not
simply sink into complacency.

Have you figured out who the Player Who Most Needs To Go Into The
Hall Now is? Of course you have, especially if you’ve struggled
through any of my previous entries on this topic. But let’s just play
along for a bit longer with this charade. His greatest season, which
occurred in a pitcher’s year, would translate into the 2000 AL as a
year in which he hit .354, had an on-base percentage of .482, and a
slugging average of .778. There were enough other great seasons in his
first eleven years to justify the statement that Bill James (otherwise
this man’s harshest critic) made about his abilities: “baseball talent
equal to that of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Joe
DiMaggio
.”

That player, whom James also called the “second-most
controversial…in baseball history,” is Dick Allen. Pete
Palmer’s
adjusted OPS (OPS+) metric shows Allen as having the
highest OPS+ of any inactive twentieth-century hitter not yet in the
Hall of Fame:

Dick Allen   157
Charlie Keller 152
Gavy Cravath   149
Jack Fournier 143
Frank Howard   143
Kevin Mitchell 143
Mike Donlin   142
Lefty O’Doul   142
Babe Herman   141
Jeff Heath   140

 

There are many reasons why most of the players on this list are
still outside looking in when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Some had
careers that were just a little too short; others have faded from
memory due to the fact that they didn’t play on championship teams, or
played in the shadow of more famous players on championship
teams. Like Pete Rose and Joe Jackson, however, Dick
Allen is the only player being kept out of the Hall due to something
people think he did. In Dick’s case, that would more accurately be
phrased “something people think he is.”

Such an occurrence is definitely a form of discrimination, but
it’s still something that can be rectified. Everyone knows that Dick
Allen was a great hitter; there’s just all that other baggage that
they’re afraid to open. One gets the impression that everyone is
worried that if he were to be up on the dais at Cooperstown, he’d
expose himself or something. The whole thing would be funny if it
weren’t so sad.

If I were on the Veterans’ Committee, I would vote for Dick Allen
and Ron Santo for induction into the Hall of Fame. They are an
appropriate pairing, given that both are from the same era and have
had their share of dark clouds. In Santo’s case, there is the grim
fact that his health issues are such that the Committee might need to
move swiftly in order to bestow the honor while he is still alive.

But it’s Dick Allen who has become a symbol of the Sixties-a
decade of love, war, liberation, protest, prejudice and possibility
that many seek to vilify or simply ignore. One really can’t stop the
process of revisionism-it’s about as sure as death and taxes-but one
can urge people to cease this silent demonization of a Hall of
Fame-worthy player simply because he was caught in the crossfire of a
troubled time, and became a lightning rod for the storms that
surrounded him. Let Dick Allen come to where he belongs-to
Cooperstown.

 

Don Malcolm Posted: March 21, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. tangotiger Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605004)
I've developed my own "sim scores", and looking at players born since 1930 (Allen was born 1942), and not active, my best comp is Willie Stargell (born 1940).

Willie Stargell played 25% more games. However, their rates stats are similar (Allen is a bit better). They are not only in the same "family" of hitters, but there are also both excellent hitters. The problem with Allen is that he played less than 2000 games. There is a 500 game / 2000 PA gap between them.

The only "problem" with Allen is that he didn't have those extra games to "pad" his counting stats.

I figure that Dick Allen is the best player since 1930 with less than 2000 GP.
   2. tangotiger Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605005)
Best hitters, aged 22 to 34, born since 1930.

Dick Allen was a GREAT hitter. But that's not what the HOF *is* always about.
<FONT size="2">
Lastname Firstname YOB PA G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB
Mantle Mickey 1931 7404 1767 6004 1362 1846 253 58 437 1192 1345
Mays Willie 1931 7969 1850 7003 1421 2224 351 109 481 1311 876
Robinson Frank 1935 8135 1912 6970 1306 2117 394 59 412 1294 953
Aaron Hank 1934 8714 2004 7819 1440 2472 420 73 470 1452 789
Killebrew Harmon 1936 7387 1752 6098 1060 1612 223 20 476 1233 1188
Allen Dick 1942 7089 1685 6137 1074 1800 314 78 346 1086 870
McCovey Willie 1938 6344 1660 5344 901 1479 228 35 371 1052 889
Schmidt Mike 1949 6892 1638 5663 1068 1496 269 48 389 1074 1086
Mathews Eddie 1931 8423 1944 7069 1300 1960 294 61 452 1277 1254
Stargell Willie 1940 6479 1629 5703 885 1614 304 47 346 1107 660
</FONT>
   3. tangotiger Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605008)
In the SIXTEEN games that the 1987 Astros gave Nolan Ryan 2 or less run support, he went 1-13 (!!!), even though his ERA was 3.03 in those games.

In 14 of those 16 games, Ryan gave up 3 or less ER. He pitched just good enough to lose.
   4. Jay Jaffe Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605011)
On Dick Allen: "He did more to keep his team from winning than anybody else who ever played major league baseball, and if that's a Hall of Famer, I'm a lug nut."--Bill James, The Politics of Glory

One thing that sticks out in looking at Allen's record--only six times in his 14 seasons (excluding a 10-game cup of coffee as a rookie) did he play in over 128 games, and he played in only about 77% of his team's games over the course of his career (excluding that same 10 game cup).

To put it another way, six times during his career (excluding the first year and the last two, when he was no longer a regular) he missed 34 games or more. I realize that's an arbitrary line to draw, but he missed 1/4 or 1/5 a season with alarming frequency, a couple times due to season-ending injury, but sometimes of his own volition--suspended for a month for failing to show up in '69, "retiring" with a month to play in '74.

I never saw him play and don't know a hell of a lot about those situations, but if given the opportunity to vote for him based upon what I do know, I woudn't touch him with a 10 foot pole. Give me Albert Belle any day of the week--for whatever he did, that guy showed up to play
   5. Robert Dudek Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605012)
Allen was a great hitter, but his short career and his (reputedly) poor defense remove him from the automatic list.

Note also that career adjusted OPS favors guys who had short careers because there isn't much of a decline phase.

I think Tango is right in pointing to Stargell as the most similar player of Allen's era (statistically). Willie had a significantly longer career and that makes him a better candidate. That's before considering "intangibles" where Willie undoubtedly trounces Dick.

Sheffield seems like another Dick Allen, but will likely play many more games in his career and so become am automatic pick when his time comes.

Before voting for Allen, I'd like to see some good analysis of his defensive contributions. Albert Belle would seem to be a very good comp too, given that their careers were of approximately equal length.

Personally, I think that Blyleven, Grich and Santo are the best eligible players not yet in the Hall.

Bert Blyleven = Robin Roberts.

One more point: as long as Ty Cobb is in the Hall I don't think anyone should be kept out solely due to their "character".
   6. Jay Jaffe Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605014)
Robert wrote: "One more point: as long as Ty Cobb is in the Hall I don't think anyone should be kept out solely due to their 'character'."

I realize that we're on thin ice here since most of us never venture inside a locker room to measure the clubhouse chemistry, but I think there's a difference.

S.O.B. though he certainly was, Ty Cobb's character never kept his team from winning (except maybe for that time he got supsended and his team fielded a bunch of scrubs and lost 24-2); if anything, his killer instinct helped his teams rather than hurt them.

Allen's character, on the other hand, caused him to leave his teams high and dry for large chunks of time on at least two occasions (plus once he apparently jumped a team in the NLCS, which is pretty odd for a HOF-caliber player), presumably decreasing their chances of winning by a considerable margin.

Guys who quit on their teams, especially multiple times, generally don't deserve enshrinement.

   7. Charles Saeger Posted: March 22, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605016)
Is Dick Allen the best candidate?

No. Ron Santo is the best candidate.

While Allen was a great hitter, he played about half his time at undemanding positions, of/1b, and then not great. When he played 3b, he wasn't even average on his best day.

Santo, OTOH, was a terrific fielder. As a hitter, true, he's not Allen. Still, he was a good hitter, and the demands of 3b combined with his excellence there put him over Allen.

Allen should be in Cooperstown. Santo should be there first.

And, does anyone really think Keith Hernandez is a better HoF candidate than Nolan Ryan? The only people who do are insane. Yes, Ryan was overrated. Overrated and clearly qualified. The two are mutually exclusive. Hernandez may be qualified, he may not be, and that clearly places him on a different level.
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 23, 2002 at 01:26 AM (#605021)
Where can one find Clay Davenport's defense work online?

One can't. One must buy or borrow Baseball Prospectus 2002.

-- MWE
   9. Rob Wood Posted: March 23, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605022)
Doesn't it seem odd that Joe Morgan, a truly great player whose "baseball intelligence" is well-known, frequently makes idiotic statements about who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Morgan actively supported Tony Perez's candidacy, and also really wants Maury Wills and Davey Concepcion to be elected.

While sabermetrics may be criticized for over-touting some marginal candidates (Santo, Grich, Allen), it has not done nearly enough to change the old-boy system of making the Hall of Fame. And if Joe Morgan is one of the principal culprits, I am not optimistic that things will change any time soon.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 24, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605024)
As an analyst, Joe Morgan is a sabermetrician's worst nightmare. If there is a hoary cliche to be found, he WILL find it!

Old fogey (great, GREAT player though)!
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 24, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605026)
(We also know that Allen and Santo deserve to be in the HOF. They both match up very well to a real baseball stud who has never gotten his due - Wes Ferrell. I can't see how anyone can assume that either Ryan or Blyleven were comparable to Ferrell as a peak value pitcher/performer. Ferrell was the Juan Marichal of his time, except that Marichal couldn't hit. As a matter of fact, Ferrell has stretches where hit hit like Santo and Allen)

One can make a good argument for Ferrell as a peak performer. Career length would be the caveat against his selection for the HOF. He is a borderline choice for me - maybe I'll make a decision about him someday!
   12. Don Malcolm Posted: March 24, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605027)
Some responses to the comments?

First, a general reminder. My tout of Dick Allen (and Ron Santo) is as a ?Veterans? Committee? pick?meaning that I believe that the de facto two-tier system operating in Cooperstown is a reasonable compromise for the ?public relations vs. greatness? issues that cloud the selection process.

Jay Jaffegives us a number of reasons why Dick Allen shouldn?t/won?t get enshrined, some of which use numbers. He also quotes the absolute nadir of Bill James? career, a summary statement that so blatantly biased that his long-time friend and associate Craig Wright felt compelled to write an essay refuting Bill?s ?perspective.? On this particular issue, Craig proved that Bill is a lugnut.

It?s true that Allen had a stormy relationship in Philadelphia, which stemmed from an incident with Frank Thomas (the white guy) and simply got out of hand. Allen was late to a game in 1969, and, as he tells it in his autobiography, found out that he was suspended while en route?which is at best a heavy-handed tactic. Sure, there was a lot of history there already, but that?s not the way things would be handled today, and we all know (or should know) why.

What Jay doesn?t seem to be aware of is that another player in the Hall of Fame?elected by the Veterans? Committee, in fact?has some similar baggage that was, shall we say, lost en route to his enshrinement. How many of you are aware that Orlando Cepeda?a more marginal HoF candidate than Allen or Santo, to be sure?walked out on his team (the Atlanta Braves) in 1971? The incident is well-documented in Bruce Markusen?s recent biography of the ?Baby Bull? (The Orlando Cepeda Story, Arte Publico Press, 2001):

You will more likely remember that Cepeda was also convicted of drug smuggling in 1976, and spent ten months in prison as a result.

Now I don?t consider either of these facts to be disqualifying factors in the Hall of Fame selection process; while I?m not convinced that Cepeda is totally qualified as a hitter to have a plaque, I?m certainly glad to see that the Vets Committee is capable of putting aside these matters of ?character.? Dick Allen has, to my knowledge, never been convicted of a crime; his troubles with management and fans in Philadelphia may have caused him to behave erractically at times, but walking out on your team isn?t part of a ?three strikes and you?re out of the Hall of Fame? selection process, as the Cepeda situation demonstrates.

As for Jay?s concerns about the number of games Allen played?yes, Allen was clearly injury-prone. (Of course, so was Cepeda.) Allen suffered a severe hand injury in 1967, a torn hamstring in 1970, and a broken leg in 1973. Injuries are not a disqualifying factor for Hall of Fame selection, either. In each case, Allen bounced back to his previous levels of production after these injuries.

Comparing Allen and Cepeda?s OPS+ numbers is probably overkill, but what the hell?

Allen, 199, 181, 173, 168, 164, 163, 160, 154, 146, 145
Cepeda, 166, 166, 158, 148, 135, 134, 133, 132, 130, 126

Those are their top ten seasons, ranked in descending order. Allen has seven seasons with an OPS+ of 160 or higher; Cepeda only two. Cepeda was a fine hitter, Allen was a behemoth.

Charlie Saeger suggests that Santo is a better candidate because of his defense. (And I think Charlie has a better handle on defense than Bill James or Clay Davenport, and one day I expect that many of you will, in fact, agree with me.) However, I think he?s wrong here, because while defense is important, it?s nowhere near as important as offense when we evaluate hitters. Using the same comparison of OPS+, we see that Allen mops the floor with Santo offensively:

Allen, 199, 181, 173, 168, 164, 163, 160, 154, 146, 145
Santo, 162, 161, 153, 144, 135, 128, 128, 124, 120, 112

Allen has ten seasons above 140; Santo has only four. I just don?t see the difference in defensive performance making up this much ground.

Santo should be in the Hall, of course, because Cooperstown is still light on third basemen and Santo is one of the best ever, in spite of a career that?like Allen?s?ended prematurely.

Interestingly, Bill James? Win Shares system, which incorporates defense into its evaluation, shows that despite his fewer number of games played, Allen has a higher raw Win Shares total than Santo (342 to 322). While I don?t necessarily agree with James? method (it will be very interesting to look at the component Win Share data when the new book comes out, so that we can ?deconstruct? the defensive values in the system?), I do note that even with what appears to be an overly generous weighting for defense, Santo does not overtake Allen.

Allen and Santo didn?t get along during the one season they played on the White Sox (1974). All of which, to my often-perverse way of looking at things, makes the idea of their co-selection that much more attractive. While playing for the Cubs, Ron Santo, was a jerk, and as a teenage cross-continental fan of the ?69 Mets, I reveled in the collapse of his Cubs. But time changes all of us, and despite my lingering lack of affinity for Santo as a person, he belongs in the Hall, and I think that the sight of two old antagonists burying the hatchet on the dais at Cooperstown is, as the Bard once said, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

I also agree that the tireless Dick Thompson has a good case and a good cause in the candidacy of Wes Ferrell, but among the pitchers I?d like to see another player shunned for one unfortunate incident in his career finally have that shadow lifted via enshrinement. I?m talking, of course, about Carl Mays?the only pitcher with 200+ wins and a .600+ WPCT to not be in Cooperstown.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 25, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605028)
Comments on Don Malcom's posting:

I would agree with your advocacy of Allen for the Hall. However, shouldn't there be something said for position durability. Santo is always referenced as a player who had a somewhat short career, but he is eighth in games played at third base. If we take Allen as a first baseman, he is no where near the top ten. This should be taken into account. Playing first is not the same as playing third in terms of wear and tear on the body.

One probably should adjust accordingly for Allen because of games played at second though. They both should go in.
   14. Rob Wood Posted: March 25, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605033)
JK asks about "pooling" one's credentials as a player and manager, and thereby electing someone who falls short in either category separately. This is explicitly permitted but the voters are rightfully hesitant to do so. I believe Red Schoendienst making the Hall of Fame is a rare example of "pooling".
   15. Robert Dudek Posted: March 25, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605034)
Don...

I understand your enthusiasm in promoting Allen for the Hall (now if you could just put a good word in for Jimmy Wynn), but I'm afraid you are misleading the readers when presenting Santo and Allen's OPS+ figures.

That works if you are comparing equally durable players who played the same position. Santo was very durable and Allen wasn't and OPS+, of course, does not account for this.

Also note career games played at various positions (minimum 10 games):

Allen: 1b-807, 3b-652, lf-256 - total 1749.
Santo: 3b-2130, dh-47, 2b-42, ss-18 - total 2243.

Allen played a little over 37% of his games at third, and only had 4 seasons as a regular 3B (1964-1967). This was when Allen was durable and had the most defensive value of his career (because he played third, not because he played it well).

Over their careers, Santo has a huge edge is positional value, an edge in defensive skill level for the position, and almost 500 extra games played.

Allen was unquestionably a better hitter than Santo, but I doubt very much if he contributed more to his teams.
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 26, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605036)
Thanks for agreeing with me Robert! By the way, I meant to say that Allen deserved some credit for playing third, not second.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 27, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605047)
(First off, he was below average in 1999 and 2001, and injury plagued several other years. I do not think he should retire, that would be absurd. I am merely saying that he is hurting his value relative to the greatness that should be a requisite for Cooperstown. Part of greatness is that you can still have gaudy numbers after the significant decline phase that is normal in a career. I am just saying that these years where he has been average should not have any positive weight in his case for the Hall of Fame. Of course they have value relative to his team, but there is a big differance between a player who can merely help a team and a player that causes his team to excel.)

If Appier pitches unadulterated crap for the next twenty years, that in no way should effect what he did before. The problem is the way we use statistics. In regard to TPR, I used to ignore all the negative seasons, so guys like Rose and Brooks would not be penalized for playing past their primes.

If I were figuring out who was the best hitter (for average) this year, I would take Hits (quantity) x BA (quality). For example, Ichiro's stats for last year would be 242 x .350 = 84.7. If this year, he only hits .200 and has 20 hits, his total would be 4. Added to last season's point total, he would now have 88.7. His lousy season doesn't affect what he did before (a better system is to create point totals per game but that would be harder to compile).

In regard to the above method, standardization and park factors would need to be added when comparing different eras. We wouldn't worry about below average seasons affecting a particular player's stats. They wouldn't.

   18. jmac_66 Posted: March 27, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605049)
"The Hall of Fame is about greatness. It cannot be achieved by being just a bit above average year in year out. "


Wellll--yes it can--you may not like it (I know I don't like it), but Hall of Fames (Halls of Fame?) are fraught with such players, in all sports. (George Blanda, Ozzie Newsome,Don Sutton, Robert Parrish, when he gets elected (and he will))

It would go against long established (perhaps stupid) precedent NOT to elect Ryan to the HOF, or to suggest that he doesn't "belong" there.






   19. Ron Johnson Posted: March 27, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605050)
Don Malcolm wrote:
among the pitchers I?d like to see another player shunned for one unfortunate incident in his career finally have that shadow lifted via enshrinement. I?m talking, of course, about Carl Mays?the only pitcher with 200+ wins and a .600+ WPCT to not be in Cooperstown.

That one incident isn't the only reason Mays isn't in. He was a
jerk of the first order (which doesn't disqualify a player but sure
as hell doesn't help a marginal candidate. In particular an awful
lot of people were terribly offended by his comments after killing
Chapman. SOmething very close to you've got to keep the hitters
honest and not worry about the consequences. To his dying day he said that it never weighed heavily on his conscience.

Ty Cobb accused Mays of throwing at Chapman saying "That Mays has been pitching like that since he came into the league... something has to be done now.....he killed a great little guy and a wonderful ballplayer....give the man a taste of his own medicine I say."

Mays actually had the nerve to blame the umpire, claiming that there was a rough spot on the ball and that it should have been thrown out of the game. (Nobody ever found the ball)

Mays also had been publicly accused of throwing World Series games by
a respected journalist (Fred Lieb). He said the both Miller Huggins
and part owner Cap Houston believed that Mays threw games in both the 1921 and 1922 world series. (Though Lieb's initial source was a gambler who claimed to have been part of the fix.)

Mays was cleared by Landis, but a lot of people believed Lieb.
   20. Rob Wood Posted: March 27, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605051)
I looked more closely at the group of pitchers that surrounds Carl Mays. I have found that there are 21 pitchers who have between 180-230 career wins and have win pcts between 590-650. 6 of the 21 are in the Hall of Fame (Bender, Chesbro, Coveleski, Gomez, Lemon, and Walsh). Below I report the 21 pitchers' career wins, win pct, my estimate of what their win pct would have been on a 500 team, and how many wins I estimate they would have had on a 500 team.

210 623 594 200 Chief Bender*
180 604 604 180 Kevin Brown (a)
198 600 581 192 Jack Chesbro*
193 611 586 185 David Cone
215 602 578 206 Stan Coveleski*
193 601 606 195 Wes Ferrell
217 598 576 209 Fred Fitzsimmons
224 629 606 216 Tom Glavine (a)
189 649 577 168 Lefty Gomez*
194 634 619 189 Dwight Gooden
185 614 583 176 Jimmy Key
207 618 574 192 Bob Lemon*
208 623 585 195 Carl Mays
184 607 568 172 Dave McNally
184 605 578 176 Art Nehf
181 633 577 165 Ed Reulbach
182 630 592 171 Allie Reynolds
187 615 611 186 Urban Shocker
195 607 595 191 Ed Walsh*
193 615 585 184 Lon Warneke
210 590 572 204 Bob Welch

This is a group of very good pitchers who may be considered somewhat weak Hall of Fame candidates. Even among this group, I don't see the case for Carl Mays jumping out at us. And when you consider his other baggage, he won't be making the Hall of Fame any time soon.
   21. Don Malcolm Posted: March 28, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605055)
A couple of final comments here...

Robert--Not trying to be any more unpleasant about this than usual, but I didn't mislead anyone with that data. Re-reading my post will indicate that I clearly stated that I felt positional differences have been overstated; it will also indicate that in James' win shares method--which does adjust for defensive value, but in a different way than what has become "accepted" in the neo-Jamesian orthodoxy--Allen has more raw win shares than Santo.

OPS+ simply shows who's a better hitter relative to league; that data clearly shows Allen's massive superiority at the plate. Unfortunately, TB's execrable FR measure creates so many distortions that the TPR rating is simply unreliable.

Many of you might also be surprised to discover that the offensive difference at 1B and 3B, especially in the NL in recent years, isn't nearly as massive as most believe it to be.

Charlie Saeger, if you're out there (and I know you are...), you could do all of us a quick favor by posting the difference in the number of ground balls fielded by 3B and 1B. The DA data I have stashed away indicates that 3B get about a third more GB opportunities, which means that if a defensive model assigns 3B twice as much importance as 1B, such a model is, in fact, overstated.

Rob Wood and Ron Johnson and Dick Thompson--We can start a "new" argument over Carl Mays, but most people won't find it as sexy as Santo or Allen (and certainly not as sexy as Roberto Petagine!!).

All I said, however, was that Mays was the only pitcher with 200+ wins and a .600+ WPCT not to be in the HoF. Ron pointed out the reason why; Rob tried to place Mays into a larger context of pitchers, which has some merit but simply ignores the factual content of the observation (something that the sabermetrically inclined seem to have an inordinate affection for doing...); and Dick pointed out the "baggage" Mays suffers from is probably part of a semi-morbid undercurrent in baseball that goes back to the days of Jim Creighton. (Thanks, Dick, for the fascinating historical tidbits about Mays' pre-Red Sox days; consulting my reference on the IL shows that you are dead on his 1914 W-L record.)

Let's put it this way: if Mays hadn't hit Chapman, it's pretty likely that the fixing allegations would never have come up (as in "once you're controversial, people will help you stay that way"). Absent the Chapman tragedy, then, Mays would probably be in the HoF, despite his alleged "personality defects," and none of us would find his inclusion to be particularly questionable.

FWIW--in the NHBA, James ranks Mays 38th in his list of pitchers; Wes Ferrell ranks 40th.
   22. Rob Wood Posted: March 29, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605058)
Personally I couldn't care less if Carl Mays were in the Hall of Fame or someone thinks that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. My reason for posting information on pitchers with similar records to Mays was to show the danger (i.e. stupidity) of relying on statements such as Mays is the only pitcher with 200+ wins and a 600+ win pct who is not in the Hall of Fame. This has absolutely nothing to do with "sabermetrics" but with clear and honest thinking.

Bill James devoted an entire chapter of his book on the Hall of Fame debunking this type of reasoning. I thought that we had seen the last of this type of spurious argument. Many players can be made to look better than deserved by trotting out such a "fact". If I remember right, Vada Pinson is the only player not in the Hall of Fame with some combination of hits, doubles, and home runs (or something like that). This does not make Pinson deserving of the Hall of Fame, just as the situation with Carl Mays does not make him deserving.
   23. Don Malcolm Posted: March 29, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605059)
Feel better now that you got that off your chest, Rob? Sorry that you find the comment about Mays' singular combination of stats to be so spurious. Your overreaction is a lot more interesting than your discussion.

What you seem to want to overlook in your need to escalate this little matter is that certain standards tend to make someone a lock for enshrinement--James spent a lot of time in his book (and previously, in his Abstracts) trying to define those standards. He didn't really do it successfully for pitchers, and all that was being noted was that every pitcher with 200+ wins and a .600+ WPCT has been enshrined--except one.

Whatever you or anyone else thinks of the "reasoning", the standard is a pretty rock solid one.

Those who are interested in a sympathetic retelling of the events that made Mays into an eternal HoF outsider would be well advised to read Mike Sowell's The Pitch That Killed, a definitive look at the Chapman matter and all of the events that made 1920 one of baseball's most significant seasons.
   24. Toby Posted: March 31, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605064)
I am coming late to this discussion and I don't really know much about Dick Allen's career. I don't have a position really on whether he should be in the Hall or not. But I do know this: "character" is, if I'm not mistaken, one of the criteria for Hall of Fame induction, not unlike as it is for MVP consideration. That may be a good thing, that may be a bad thing, but that's the reality.

If the question is, does Dick Allen meet the criteria for induction in the Hall of Fame, I suspect the answer is No, and a significant part of that answer is due to the many concerns that many have about his character shortcomings.

Those character concerns in Dick Allen's case are so strong that if the question is, should the Hall of Fame "character" criteria be downplayed to the point that Dick Allen is a Hall of Famer, a Yes answer effectively eliminates 'character' as a criterion entirely.

It will be fascinating to see how the debate plays out when Dick Allen comes on the ballot for the Hall of Merit. I suspect we will see a vigorous debate about (1) whether the HOM has, or should have, a character component; and (2) whether character/chemistry issues actually have an on-field effect.
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 31, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605066)
Toby: It doesn't really matter if there is a character component or not. I still won't vote for Shoeless Joe or Charlie Hustle (UNLESS Pete admits that he did something wrong). Some people are not going to vote for Allen regardless (I will unless someone can convince me otherwise).
   26. Rob Wood Posted: April 01, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605069)
I apologize if I over-reacted to one of Don's comments. It really bugs me though when points of view can be summarily dismissed because they are "sabermetric". I don't know why "sabermetrics" has achieved such a low position in certain circles. It's sort of like calling someone a "liberal" nowadays; there is little defense except to cry foul.
   27. Don Malcolm Posted: April 02, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605079)
Bobby--Thanks for adding the names of the "forgotten" nineteenth-century pitchers to the list of 200+ W--.600+ WPCT pitchers. Many people have made a case for Bob Caruthers, whose career was extremely short but quite notable. Jack Stivetts' career was a tad longer, but he clearly suffered in the minds of the voters from being on the same team with a significantly better pitcher (Kid Nichols).

Rob--Apology accepted, and my apologies if I came off as too harsh. There's nothing wrong with trying to adjust numbers to better reflect true value, which is what sabermetrics used to be all about. "Standards" and "value" are not easily reconciled; Bill James has spent more time than anyone grappling with that, and if even he can't get them both lassoed, then those of us who follow in his wake (and criticize him...) should be careful about how we define and use these terms. What your list indicates to me is that there are several pitchers in the HoF who are there in large part to the team(s) they were fortunate enough to belong to (cf. Lefty Gomez).

Andy Clarke--Kudos to you for digging out Craig Wright's article and providing us with exculpatory evidence for Dick Allen. Bill James has cast a giant shadow over the field of baseball analysis, but his lowest moment came when he penned his near-libelous statements about Allen that appear in The Politics of Glory (or POG for short). The fact that he's still at it in the NHBA ("[Allen] lost half of his career or more to immaturity and emotional instability") shows that his penchant for sixties revisionism is at least as high as Newt Gingrich (now there's a name we haven't heard in a long time...).
   28. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2002 at 01:27 AM (#605081)
"Chuck Tanner was his manager with the White Sox. His take on Allen? "He was the greatest player I ever managed, and what he did for us in Chicago was amazing...the leader of our team, the captain, the manager on the field. He took care of the young kids, took them under his wing. And he played every game as if it was his last day on earth."

I agree with your assessment of Allen as a team player, but you do have to admit one thing. Has Tanner EVER said anything bad about anyone publicly? Now if Larry Bowa said something nice about Allen...
:-)

Don:
I get the feeling sometimes you think James is maybe a tad to the left of Genghis Khan (maybe), but I have always felt he was somewhat centrist (not a mushy-headed moderate). He's always been pro-union, for gun control and government sponsored health care (among other liberal causes). If you read enough of Bill, he'll offend everybody somehow politically! :-)
   29. Don Malcolm Posted: April 05, 2002 at 01:28 AM (#605089)
John Murphy wrote:

Don: I get the feeling sometimes you think James is maybe a tad to the left of Genghis Khan (maybe), but I have always felt he was somewhat centrist (not a mushy-headed moderate). He's always been pro-union, for gun control and government sponsored health care (among other liberal causes). If you read enough of Bill, he'll offend everybody somehow politically! :-)

John, I think that Bill has drifted rightward over his career, and there are certain issues on which he is clearly reactionary?the race problems of the sixties are clearly one of them.

Since the primer ?prime guys? don?t want this site to morph into political discussions, I?d encourage you (if you are interested) to continue this discussion with me via email. I?d appreciate seeing some of your representations of Bill?s positions on the above with some citations (book and page number) should you have time and inclination to take me up on this.

Paul B. wrote:

James has a tendency to present his political opinions as just-plain-common-sense. Card carrying liberals (of whom I generally consider myself a fellow traveler) often get exasperated with the "common sense" attitude, since it's common sense is too often an argument for reenforcing the status quo.

That being said, it's preposterous to put James in a camp with right wing nuts like Gingrich or Ashcroft or whomever. James has been superb on first amendment issues when they overlap with baseball. In the managers book he pointed out the hypocrisy of so-called liberals censoring the hateful speech of Marge Schott, a position that many other writers began to understand more when John Rocker shared his opinions about the 7 train a few years later.


Paul, you?re right about this. Bill?s line was ?freedom of speech is a higher value than pandemic sensitivity.? I agree with him, but it?s really simple to see how baldly manipulative the media has become in the Age of Cable TV, and there is always someone trying to create a controversy out of an ?insensitive? remark.

His sixties revisionism, however, is what I was referring to, not to a slam dunk issue like Marge. The politicization of the race issue, which Bill viewed as the ?tragic flaw? of the Great Society, certainly had a victim and scapegoat in the personage of a certain baseball player from Wampum, PA. Bill?s model for black ballplayers is, of course, Jackie Robinson, who sublimated his personality at the behest of Branch Rickey in order to make integration possible. Dick Allen belongs to the next generation, and has more in common with the infamous ?black power salute? Olympic track stars who created such a furor than he does with the first generation of black ballplayers. Free agency came too late for Dick Allen; his career was clearly shortened, but as much by the political climate of the times as his own reaction to them.

Somehow Don Malcolm articles inevitably lead to politics. Or do they begin with politics? Calling Dick Allen a HOF is a way of throwing down the sociopolitical gauntlet, I guess.

No, calling Dick Allen a Hall of Famer is a way of affirming his achievements as a ballplayer first and foremost. If we can have the tolerance (as Bill put it) to live with the ill-considered and taken-out-of-context remarks of Marge Schott, we should also have the tolerance to smooth over the controversy surrounding Dick Allen by focusing on the level of achievement represented in his career in spite of those swirling winds. On what he achieved in his career (and surely most of you know by now that I am more of a ?peak? value man than a ?career? value man), I see him as being more than qualified.

Now I?m going to shut this down before I incur any further wrath from the people who run this site. I appreciate that they?ve let this go on as long as it has. They are more tolerant of my foibles than the baseball establishment was of Dick Allen?s?and that, too, is a sign of progress (IMO, at least!).
   30. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2002 at 01:28 AM (#605091)
Dan P.,
It seems to me that you're defining "greatness" in a way external to the game itself. To argue for a higher emphasis on peak value over career value is fine, but to argue that the HOF should be for something different than the game itself is not. You concede: There is value team-wise in playing at an average level.

Exactly. That's the point. Therefore, there should be value HOFwise in playing at an average level.

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