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

Sunday, May 11, 2003

1900 Results - John Clarkson and John Ward elected

John Clarkson and John Ward have been elected to the Hall of Merit in balloting for the 1900 election. Clarkson was easily elected, receiving 19 of 35 first place votes and 756 points. Ward finished with 617 points, edging Tim Keefe (582) and George Wright (580). Wright was actually named first or second on 11 ballots, Ward 10, but Ward had deeper support, being named no lower than 10th on every ballot. Wright was left off of 1.5 ballots completely.

Pud Galvin made the biggest jump, from 16th to 13th. He received 19% of the potential points in 1899, 34% this year.

Harry Stovey and Tip O’Neill experienced the biggest drops. Stovey fell from 5th to 9th, he lost 38 points in the voting despite 4 more people casting votes. O’Neill has fallen from 14th to 18th to 23rd. He was named 13 ballots in 1898, 7 in 1899 and just 4 in 1900.

30 of 31 voters from 1899 returned for 1900, and we added 5 new voters.

The Boston Beaneaters and Chicago Orphans will play the Hall of Merit Game in 1900. In 1900, these are the only two original teams remaining from the NL’s inaugural season of 1876. Boston is led by 3B Jimmy Collins, CF Billy Hamilton, pitchers Bill Dinneen, Vic Willis and Kid Nichols. Chicago’s stars include 2B Cupid Childs, OF Jimmy Ryan and pitchers Ned Garvin and Clark Griffith.

RK  LY  Player          Pts Ballots 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
 1 n/a  J.Clarkson      756  35.0  19  5  4  3  3     1
 2 n/a  J.Ward          617  35.0   3  7  6  5  3  1  3  3  3  1
 3   4  T.Keefe         582  35.0   1  5  6  7  3  5  2     1  4     1
 4   3  G.Wright        580  33.5   4  7  2  4  6  3  2     1     2  1        1.5
 5   6  C.Radbourn      484  32.0   3  1  3  2  6  4  2  4     1  3  2        1
 6   7  H.Richardson    452  33.0      2  3  1  1  3  7  4  3  4  1  2	2
 7   8  E.Sutton        441  31.0   1  2  4  3  2  5  1  3  1  3     1  1  2  2
 8   9  A.Spalding      403  30.0   2  2  1  2  3  3     1  3  4  1  3  1  2  2
 9   5  H.Stovey        382  30.0   1     3     1  3  6  3  2  2  3  1     5
10  10  J.Start         378  28.0      2  1  3  2  2  3  4  3  1  3  1     3
11  12  C.Bennett       287  26.0      1  1  1     2     2  3  2  4  1  5  2  2
12  11  B.Caruthers*    284  23.0   1  1     2     1  2  3  2  2  2  3  2     2
13  16  P.Galvin        284  26.0            2        3  3  2  2  6  2  4  1  1
14  13  P.Browning      256  26.0               2     1  1  1  3  5  3  6  3  1
15  15  C.McVey         193  17.0               2  2  1  1  3  2  1  2        3
16  14  E.Williamson    182  21.0                     1  1  2  1  1  3  3  5  4
17  17  L.Pike           96  11.0                           1  1  1  2  4  1  1
18 n/a  T.Mullane        83   9.0         1                 1        2  1  3  1
19  20  M.Welch          79  10.0                           1     2  1     2  4
20  19  F.Dunlap         49   6.0                           1           3  1  1
21  21  J.McCormick      46   5.0	                 1     1        2     1
22  22  D.Pearce         45   5.0                  1                 2        2
23  18  T.O'Neill        41   4.0               1           1              1  1
24  23  C.Jones          35   5.0                                       1  3  1
25  24  J.Whitney        24   2.0                        1     1
26T 25  T.York            9   1.0                                    1
26T --  H.Wright          9   1.0                                    1
28  27  B.Mathews         7   1.0                                          1
29T --  L.Meyerle         6   1.0                                             1
29T --  J.Creighton       6   1.0                                             1
29T 29  D.Orr             6   1.0                                             1
32  --  C.Welch           3   0.5                                             0.5
* wins tiebreaker, named higher than Galvin on more individual ballots.
Dropped out: Henry Larkin (26), Tommy Bond (28)


JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: May 11, 2003 at 11:47 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Sean Gilman Posted: May 12, 2003 at 12:12 AM (#513001)
Here's the HOM game:

Man that Chicago team is bad. WIS doesn't even have a first baseman listed for them.
   2. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2003 at 12:41 AM (#513003)
Looking at my ballot:

Since I didn't have Old Hoss on my ballot, I could say that he was the most overrated for the election. However, I'm not fully confident that I have him exactly right, so I would go with Harry Stovey (though not nearly as much as last "year").

Most underrated would be Al Spalding again.
   3. sean gilman Posted: May 12, 2003 at 01:10 AM (#513004)
According to baseball-reference, John Ganzel was the regular first baseman for Chicago that year. But WIS lists him as an outfielder. Probably just a mistake in their database that nobody's noticed until now.
In the box score for the HOM game, Green gets 4 ABs as a 'ph'.
   4. Marc Posted: May 12, 2003 at 03:46 AM (#513006)
Compared to my ballot:

Most overrated--Sutton and Stovey by 7 places each
Most underrated--Spalding and McVey by 7 places each

I still love those "pioneers" with their great peak seasons. Looks like Keefe and Wright will move up in '01. They're both great choices but my ballot will probably be 1) Spalding, 2) Keefe and 3> Wright, or else switch 2 and 3. Glasscock has moved up from #7 to #5 but he's not on top yet.

   5. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 12, 2003 at 04:37 AM (#513007)
I'm the missing voter - sorry about that. I left it to the last minute again, had a crazy weekend, and just dropped the ball. I will do better next time.
   6. MattB Posted: May 12, 2003 at 10:56 AM (#513009)
Bob Caruthers seems to have been hurt by the "pitchers" thread, that downgraded his pitching ability based upon innings thrown per season, and ignored his hitting ability altogether.

I guess I'm going to have to divert my attention away from Dickey Pearce-bashing to Bob Caruther-supporting.
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: May 12, 2003 at 12:00 PM (#513010)
I have O'Rourke and Ward as having been teammates of five of the other seven HOMers, with O'Rourke missing Kelly-Clarkson (our anthem singer, no doubt) and Ward missing White-Barnes (appropriately rural imagery). The others had four except Clarkson, who teamed with only three.
White-O'Rourke eight years together, with three different franchises. Kelly-Clarkson were together for six years.
   8. MattB Posted: May 12, 2003 at 01:04 PM (#513013)
Also, in the NHBA, I noticed the other day that Bill James has a couple paragraphs in his "Top 100" section about ranking pitchers. His concern is the common one that ranking based on win shares will give pre-1892 pitchers all the slots, and discounting pitching too much will give post-1892 pitchers almost no slots.

Anyway, James comes up with his technique, and then ranks all players based on win shares per games played. Babe Ruth (of course) comes out first, and then is followed by a bunch of hitters. Bob Caruthers is 12th on the list, and the top player (other than Ruth) to receive a significant percentage of his Win Shares from pitching.

If you love peak (and you know you do!), you've got to love Parisian Bob.
   9. Jeff M Posted: May 12, 2003 at 01:08 PM (#513014)
Most Overrated: 1. Bennett. The group thinks he is more valuable than Caruthers, Galvin, Browning and McVey. That seems impossible, given his hitting statistics. Don't like the concept of "hit well for a catcher." 2. Richardson. A great 2B, and if we were electing on a position by position basis I might think differently, but better than Sutton, Spalding and Stovey?

Most Underrated: 1. Spalding. We can discount him because of his short career and the league he played in, but he WAS the best pitcher of his era. He was a pitcher and became the best at it. What more should he have done? Look at team photos from his playing days. He is in the center and the other players surround him. This is on the team of "so-called" all-stars. 2. Mickey Welch.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 12, 2003 at 03:13 PM (#513018)
Am I the only one who's going to vote for Jim Creighton?

Way too short of a career. He only played five years at the highest level of baseball for his time. Maybe the Pioneer wing could take him in.

Al Spalding was the best player at his position for maybe 8 years.

Which is terrific for a pitcher during the 19th century. What other pitcher can claim that? BTW, I would only claim four seasons that he was the best. While he was definitely near the top in his other seasons, whether he was the best before the NA is a mystery to me.

In regard to some posts on the subject, Spalding did blow out his arm in 1877. After ten years, that's not surprising for the time.

A fantatsic control artist?

He did have the best career Base on Balls/9IP for his time (though not that much better than Cummings or Bonds).

If you love peak (and you know you do!), you've got to love Parisian Bob.

Unfortunately for Bob, I love career equally. Sorry, dude. :-)
   11. Marc Posted: May 12, 2003 at 04:59 PM (#513020)
Spalding will be #1 on my ballot in '01 and there's no need to exaggerate his achievements to get him there. I'm referring to his achievements pre-'71. Spalding was born in Byron, IL, in 1850, and he grew up to a strapping 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds. He first achieved notoriety pitching for Rockford in (I believe) '69 or maybe it wasn't even til '70. Rockford loudly proclaimed its expertise and therefore the major barnstorming teams would pass through Rockford. He impressed the big shots (G. and H. Wright, etc.) enough to get the offer to come to Boston. I'm sure he pitched as many games as the next guy in '69 and '70 but his reputation really rested on just a handfull of games against the big barnstormers until '71.

Another interesting sidelight to the debate about 19th century (and especially 1870s) pitchers, I think, is this. It has been said that Spalding simply was blessed with the good fortune to have an all-star fielding team behind him, and maybe so. But why is it, then, that while pitching almost every game from '71 to '76 Spalding had the following ERA while his team gave up the following numbers of runs per game.


1871 3.36 (2nd) 10.1 (5th)
1872 1.87 (2nd) 4.9 (1st)
1873 2.46 (2nd) 7.7 (3rd)
1874 1.92 (3rd) 5.8 (2nd)
1875 1.59 (5th) 4.2 (2nd)
1876 1.75 (5th) 3.9 (3rd)

I'm not sure what this proves, except that Spalding appears to have slightly outperformed his defense twice out of six years. I'm not sure it proves that his defense was carrying him. I am sure I'd have to do a lot more analysis including comparisons to other teams to really answer that question. Just to push the discussion along, does anybody know why there were such great fluctuations, especially from '71 to '72? It seems more likely to me that pitching (rather than fielding) "improved" in some way, perhaps as a result of a rules change? I don't see fielding improving by 100% in one year.

What I do see is a slow improvement in fielding as total runs declined from about 3X earned runs to about 2.5X, but the fluctuations in ERA suggest some pitching innovations that exploited some rule changes. This would be exactly the environment, I think, in which "clever baseballists" might thrive.

It is also true that Spalding never "won" an ERA title and his lead in games won is clearly a team artifact. But he led in IP twice and games pitched three times. And again, using the slow pitch softball analogy to the 1870s (which analogy may or may not be apt, I never saw baseball in the '70s), the pitcher is clearly the single most important defender though not as important as MLB today. At his peak his OPS+ was in the 130s (2 years). Even forgetting his salary, he was a dominant figure on the dominant team of the day. 100 years later, he and Barnes and Wright were reincarnated as Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose. Supply your own further analogy (which was which).

   12. jimd Posted: May 12, 2003 at 08:22 PM (#513021)
Well, how many pitchers were there in his era? Ten?

Thousands. Only the best dozen or so could land a job pitching for a club in the NA or NL, though. Each club needed only 1 pitcher, with some choosing to have a 2nd one available in the lineup playing another position just in case the manager wanted to make a change (in-game substitutions are not allowed until 1890 except for injury and even then require the permission of the umpire and the opposing team).

the fact that one person (the owner) thought that Spalding ought to be the highest-paid player

Harry Wright was not the owner. He was the player/manager/gm that put together teams that won 8 championships in 10 years (counting the Cincinnati Red Stockings). He thought that Spalding (and Barnes) were worth a trip from Boston to Rockford to sign, and that eventually they were worth paying as much or more than his brother George, the star SS. I tend to trust his judgement. Hulbert may have given Spalding a piece of the team to sign with Chicago; that's a different story.

If Spalding were a great pitcher, can we describe why?

I wish I knew more of the details here. Spalding was a tall lanky fellow, known for having the best fast-ball, and an abrupt delivery that upset hitter's timing. He also was a very-good hitter (career OPS+ of 116, peak season of 141; Jeter is 121 with no decline phase factored in yet). The rules required that all pitchers pitch strictly under-hand during his career; the first strike zone was adopted in 1871 and was smaller than today (that high-low zone, either shoulders-to-waist, or waist-to-knees, with the batter choosing which zone he wanted).

None of the following changes Marc's excellent points, but I'll correct the record here. Spalding first gained national notoriety when his unknown Rockford team (including Barnes) upset the Washington Nationals in 1867. The Nationals were the top-ranked team in the East that year, and the first such team to take a barnstorming tour through the MidWest. It was the only loss on their tour through the Ohio River and Great Lakes cities. George Wright was the star on the Nationals. That Rockford team would almost upset (H&G) Wright's Cincinnati Red Stockings during their undefeated 1869 season, and did upset them the following season. No wonder the Wrights' wanted them on their team.
   13. Marc Posted: May 12, 2003 at 10:38 PM (#513022)
Jim, thanks for the details re. the Rockford team. I had read about them, couldn't find the info, and didn't realize that Spalding's breakthrough came at age 16. But I remembered that Rockford was not highly regarded, for obvious reasons, but "shocked the world" largely because of Spalding.
   14. jimd Posted: May 12, 2003 at 11:23 PM (#513023)
Barnes was only 4 months older. And George Wright was 20. I suppose an analogy might be a state champion high-school or Legion team taking out the #1 ranked college team in the country. It's the right age groups anyway. But it's big news because there are no major leagues. (There aren't many older players around like Start and Pearce because the money is all under the table at this time; the NY Mutuals allegedly got no-show city jobs for their star players.)
   15. Marc Posted: May 14, 2003 at 01:55 PM (#513024)
Hey Joe, when you get home, how about a note on the '00 results in Clutch Hits? Better late than never just so it's before the '01 results. The response from the Clutch Heads is always fun. Last year the election of O'Rourke and Kelly stimulated some discussion of the IRA (not your retirement account). Cool!
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 08, 2004 at 04:52 PM (#784473)
This thread is now fully reconstructed.

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