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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, April 28, 2003

New Eligibles for 1900

The 20th Century is almost upon us (that starts in 1901). William McKinley will be facing off with Williams Jenning Bryan in the Presidential Election. Some other facts about our nation this year:

- 76 million people
- median age is 23 (35 in 1998); life expectancy is 47 (76 in 1998)
- average salary is 18.7 cents an hour (52 hour week on average); $11.48 an hour for a 37.9 hour week in 1998.
- 1 in 7 homes have a bathtub
- 1 in 13 homes have a telephone
- Brownie camera: $1
- lb.of sugar: 4 cents
- dozen eggs: 14 cents
- lb. of butter: 24 cents
- there were 4,000 cars sold, world wide
- 42% of the workforce are farmers (3% in 1998).

Oh yeah, we’ll be electing 2 new members to the Hall of Merit. The top newcomers:

Elton Chamberlain
John Clarkson
Charlie Comiskey
Jerry Denny
George Haddock
Tony Mullane
Paul Radford
Danny Richardson
Larry Twitchell
John Montgomery Ward
Farmer Weaver

JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: April 28, 2003 at 10:53 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. jimd Posted: May 02, 2003 at 09:53 PM (#512759)
Koufax vs Whitney


This is WARP1, which is a measurement of what they accomplished on the field. There is NO controversial schedule-length adjustment; there is NO "quality-of-competition" adjustment within season or across eras.

Whitney's numbers are in chronological order, Koufax's are also but reversed. Somehow I get the feeling that Koufax is forgiven the years of mediocrity before the greatness, because he figured it all out and then walked away on top. (Winning three pennants and two WC in that peak-3 didn't hurt either.) Conversely, Whitney is being penalized for doing it backwards, coming out of nowhere (California actually) and being unable to maintain the excellence. Does that ordering really matter? (except to the owner who paid Whitney :-)

   102. jimd Posted: May 02, 2003 at 10:12 PM (#512760)
For those who take seriously the lower portions of James' rankings.

#86 C Wilbert Robinson
#86 1B Eddie Robinson
#86 2B Yank Robinson

Maybe this alignment of the Robinson's is a cosmic coincidence.

Maybe if you take the first names and positions and run them through your cipher decoder with the keyword 86Robinson, a secret message will appear. If so share it with us, I can't wait to find out.

   103. jimd Posted: May 02, 2003 at 11:05 PM (#512762)
Here are the results of a poll that I saw in the Boston Herald (Sunday, August 11, 1889):

"Out of 375 votes received by the New York Sporting Times for the best general player, Ewing has 171, Kelly 48, Anson 33, Ward 29, Connor 25, Glasscock 17, Ganzel 14, Williamson and Buffinton 10, A. Irwin 8, Faatz 5, Denny 3 and Dunlap 2. In the association, Foutz 138, Comiskey 72, Stovey 46, Caruthers 35, Burns 21, O'Neill 16, Orr 12, Collins 6, Marr 5, Earle and Mullane 3, Long 2, Mack 1."

Interesting. Unfortunately, it's a general readership poll. If the Mets were in first place in mid-August, would Piazza outpoll Bonds? Quite possibly. So you probably have to disregard all the Giants and Dodgers in the list (like Ewing, Ward, Connor, Foutz, Caruthers, Burns, Collins; Orr was a favorite from the defunct Mets). There are no pitchers in this list, except for hybrids; otherwise you'd expect to see Keefe and Welch too.

Charlie Ganzel? Must be doing something right catching for Boston to get that many votes (or he has a relative who doesn't mind springing for stamps). Lefty Marr? (Good ROY candidate for 1889; never did much afterwards though.) Billy Earle? Jay Faatz from Weedsport? (He was in the top 10 in being HBP for 3 years running.) I had fun looking these guys up.
   104. favre Posted: May 02, 2003 at 11:40 PM (#512763)
I've really enjoyed reading the debates! I'm wondering: is voting open to anyone, or is it by invitation only?
   105. MattB Posted: May 03, 2003 at 12:12 AM (#512764)
Voting is open to anyone willing to take the effort to construct a ballot and explain their reasoning.

I'm not sure if Joe is still making people sign up on his Yahoo group first.
   106. jimd Posted: May 03, 2003 at 12:46 AM (#512765)
Joe, you need to look at the integrated picture with Whitney. If you look at only the pitching stats you won't get it. In 1882 (his best year with the bat admittedly) he has an OPS+ of 183. And he's qualified for the batting crown. He's third in OPS+ just behind Roger Connor (185) and just ahead of Cap Anson (180). You don't have to pitch like Koufax to have a Koufax-like impact, if you're a good pitcher that hits like Roger Connor, and you get to play enough. He couldn't sustain this level (if he did, he'd have been another Babe Ruth), but it's still impressive. In 1883, he pitched 60% of the innings at a 139 ERA+, played CF (!) the rest of the time, hit a 124 OPS+, and Boston won the championship, stopping Chicago's run at 3 in a row. It would have been a sensation to see, with his eccentric delivery and all.

If you're career-value oriented, Whitney's not for you. If you value peak, he should be examined. Like Koufax, it was a short period of time; in Whitney's case, like Caruthers, it's a very unconventional career, but Whitney's got the advantage of doing it in the better league.

BTW, it's not so much that I'm selling Whitney; he's below my line of those I consider definite HOM'ers. I just see him as better than Caruthers, who has acquired some constituency here. (I was also surprised that Koufax did not score better on WARP3.)
   107. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2003 at 02:27 PM (#512767)
FWIW, I have the Grasshopper as better than Caruthers as a pitcher, but I take Freedom Bob over Whitney when I factor in his offense while playing the outfield. It's close, though.
   108. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2003 at 02:18 PM (#512769)
I think, by most accounts, Comiskey was a jackass (besides possibly being the worst longtime ballplayer of the 19th century). But evil incarnate? Gee, do you think we're overdoing it just a wee bit here? Being a tightwad doesn't really place him in the Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, etc. group of fun guys, does it? :-)
   109. Jeff M Posted: May 04, 2003 at 04:44 PM (#512770)
Just wanted to pass along a couple of thoughts about Spalding, without starting a fresh debate. I've seen some back and forth in these threads in which one side says "Spalding must be HOM material because he was the highest paid player on a team of all-stars" and the other side says "That's because he was such a good businessman...he knew how to had little to do with his talent or contributions." (I'm paraphrasing these arguments).

Yesterday, I picked up a used copy of "A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball" by Peter Levine. I learned this (among other things): When Harry Wright moved to Boston to form the N.A., he initially had half a lineup full of potential All-Stars and a limited budget. The next item on his shopping list was a pitcher, and he travelled to Chicago to sign Spalding. Spalding signed for $1,500 per year and was not the highest paid player on the club that first year.

Fair to say that Harry Wright was probably THE most astute baseball man circa 1871. He could have signed anyone, but he went halfway across the country to sign Spalding for his first club in the NA.

Three years later, Spalding became the highest paid player on the team when he signed for $2,000 a year. Maybe Spalding was the only player smart enough to ask for more money, but I don't think a $500 raise after three years of All-Star performances is attributable to Spalding outnegotiating Wright. Also, while Spalding did have an exceptional entrepreneurial talent, keep in mind that he was negotiating his salary with Harry Wright, who wasn't exactly short on entrepreneurial talent either.

I don't think the salary debate is dispositive, but it is some evidence of his reputation. I think it is more impressive that Harry Wright HAD to have him (and Wright knew what he was doing). Spalding performed up to Wright's expectations. However, after being involved with Wright's exhibition of baseball in Britain, Spalding started to see the more dignified, and lucrative side of the game, which at the time was in the management and ownership of a club. His father died when he was young, and the message that Dad left to Mom was "Raise our sons to be industrious." Being a businessman was more industrious than being a pitcher in a rough and tumble sport.
   110. Jeff M Posted: May 04, 2003 at 04:45 PM (#512771)
Anybody have a link or spreadsheet regarding calculation of WARP3? Thanks.
   111. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2003 at 06:49 PM (#512773)
Jeff, that was interesting stuff about Spalding. It only reinforces my view that, if Spalding isn't the best pitcher, he most certainly has to be close to the top.
   112. favre Posted: May 04, 2003 at 10:31 PM (#512774)
Thanks for the welcome, everybody. Here are my prelims:

1. John Clarkson
2. Monte Ward
3. Hardy Richardson
4. Tim Keefe
5. George Wright
6. Ezra Sutton
7. Charlie Bennett
8. Charley Radbourn
9. Harry Stovey
10. Bob Caruthers
11. Pete Browning
12. Pud Galvin
13. Joe Start
14. Ned Williamson
15. Al Spalding
   113. Carl Goetz Posted: May 05, 2003 at 02:02 PM (#512776)
The problem with evaluating Start with any metric is that he was already 28 when the NA was formed. This was an era when it could be argued that peak age was younger than today. I think most people who are bumping Start up on their lists(myself included), are doing so because of the subjective evidence that he was one of the best baseball players of the 1860s. Unfortunately, we have no numbers whatsoever to back that up. This makes me uncomfortable with my ranking to say the least, but given the career he had that was documented and the evidence from contemporary observers, I would feel much more uncomfortable dropping him on my list.
   114. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 05, 2003 at 02:19 PM (#512777)
I give Start credit for his eleven seasons before the NA, but only as an average player. Coupled with his NA and NL stats, I can't see how anybody could leave him off their ballot.
   115. DanG Posted: May 05, 2003 at 02:42 PM (#512778)
Here's a good site I found for pictures from the 19th century.
   116. DanG Posted: May 05, 2003 at 02:43 PM (#512779)
Wait. Here is the picture site. That last one is an article about the National Association.
   117. DanG Posted: May 05, 2003 at 02:45 PM (#512780)
Finally, an article about Cal McVey, from the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame site.
   118. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2003 at 04:59 AM (#512784)
I agree with you, David. The same goes for Tip O'Neill.

What's the deal with the AA stars? They had relatively short careers (except for the "Jim O'Rourke of Second Baseman", Bid McPhee).
   119. Marc Posted: May 07, 2003 at 03:17 PM (#512785)
Hey, Tom, could you also post Dave Foutz' post-season record? Thx.

As to short AA careers, interesting point. Was there a cause and effect? Did the AA gravitate toward men with self-destructive tendencies, or did it teach them to them? Was the AA so rowdy and rough that it ate guys up, or did "gentlemen" get the hell out at the first opportunity?

I am not convinced that there "has" to be anybody from the AA in the HoM. Not to say that a case cannot be made for certain individuals but I don't agree that a token must be made.
   120. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2003 at 04:13 PM (#512786)
I am not convinced that there "has" to be anybody from the AA in the HoM. Not to say that a case cannot be made for certain individuals but I don't agree that a token must be made.

I totally agree, Marc, though I think McPhee belongs based on his credentials.
   121. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 14, 2004 at 03:09 PM (#797391)
All posts have been reconstructed up to #93.
   122. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 05, 2004 at 07:46 PM (#838158)
This thread is now completely restored.
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