Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Friday, November 26, 2004

Alejandro Oms

“El Caballero” was a talented and exciting centerfielder from the twenties.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 26, 2004 at 04:16 PM | 178 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
   1. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 28, 2004 at 04:52 PM (#985029)
Reposting a query from the ballot thread in case anyone (Gadfly?) has some information on the back end of Oms's career....

IIRC from Riley, he left the U.S. in the mid-30s and returned to Cuba where he played the rest of his career. Riley doesn't really say exactly why he left the U.S.

Does anyone know if he left because he was no longer above replacement (as suggested by the i9s projection) or did he leave for other reasons which the projection does not capture?
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2004 at 11:28 PM (#985368)
I thought I remembered seeing Oms' name in the record book quite a bit but cannot confirm it. He did lead the Cuban league in batting in 1928-29 and 1929-30 at .432 and .380, and tied for the lead in HR with 3 in 1931-32.

The other leaders those years were guys like Papa Bell and Mule Suttles (i.e in HR in 1928-29- and 1929-30, the year before that it was Oscar Charleston and two years before that Pops Lloyd. His .432 was the highest average since 1902 right up to 1961. Torriente led each category twice.

Odd fact--I don't know if anybody reported this, but Dolf Luque led the league in batting in 1917 at .355. Of course he led in pitching wins in 1929. Jose Mendez led five times and a guy named Jose Acosta also led five times from 1914-1925. Martin Dihigo led in pitching wins 4 times and batting once. Ray Brown led in pitching wins twice and HR once!

I can't see Oms making my ballot based on what I know but he looks like a top 50 anyway. A poor man's Torriente.
   3. Gary A Posted: December 08, 2004 at 04:21 AM (#1005063)
All Time Leaders in Batting Average, Cuban League

From Jorge Figueredo

1. Cristobal Torriente, .352
2. Alejandro Oms, .345
3. John Henry Lloyd, .329
4. Willie Wells, .320
5. Bernardo Baro, .311

Oms' career totals in Cuba:

Seasons: 19 (1922-41)

He won the batting title in 1924-25, 28-29, and 29-30; led in doubles in 24-25, 28-29, and 32-33; and led in homers and steals in 31-32.
   4. Brent Posted: June 17, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1410749)
Here is the Cuban League record of Alejandro Oms.
Year       Team               AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB  Avg 
1922-23    Santa Clara        94  26  41  7  3  0  --  7 .436 
1923-24    Santa Clara       139  33  53  7  4  2  -- -- .381 
1924w(S)   Santa Clara        76   7  22 -- -- --  --  0 .289 
1924-25    Santa Clara       145  32  57 13  4  1  --  3 .393 
1925-26    San José           68  10  22  7  2  0  --  2 .324 
1926-27    Cuba               18   5   9  2  0  0  --  1 .500 
1926-27(T) Marianao          101  28  37 -- -- --  -- -- .366 
1927-28    Habana             71  11  23  3  2  3  --  1 .324 
1928-29    Habana            176  38  76 18  6  1  --  5 .432 
1929-30    Santa Clara       166  37  63  9  4  5  -- -- .380 
1930f      Santa Clara         7   1   2  0  0  0  -- -- .286 
1930f(S)   Habana             55   7  10  0  0  0  --  2 .182 
1931-32    Habana            113  28  44  8  3  3  17 14 .389 
1932-33    Habana             57  13  21  4  0  0  12  4 .368 
1933-34    Season not held          
1934-35    Did not play          
1935-36    Santa Clara       180  38  56 10  3  2  30 -- .311 
1936-37    Did not play          
1937-38    Santa Clara        92  22  29  2  0  2  19  1 .315 
1938-39    Did not play          
1939-40    Almendares        101  15  23  2  0  0   9  5 .228 
1940-41    Almendares/Habana 166  22  39  4  2  0  12  5 .235 
1945-46    Cienfuegos          1   0   0  0  0  0   0  0 .000 
Totals                      1826 373 627 96 33 19  99 50 .343*
* Figueredo lists his career average as .345.

1922-23 - Santa Clara withdrew mid-way through season in protest of a league decision, forfeiting 27 games. Consequently, Charleston (.446) and Oms (.436) didn't qualify for batting championship (Baró, .401)
1923-24 - This Santa Clara team is widely considered the greatest in Cuban League history. Season ended early after team went 36-11, 11.5 games ahead of their nearest rival.
1924w(S) - Special season after regular season ended early.
1924-25 - Led league in average, tied for lead in doubles (with Torriente).
1925-26 - San José withdrew early after going 3-16, forfeiting 25 games.
1926-27(T) - An independent, rival league (Triangular) was formed and signed most of the better players.
1928-29 - Led league in average, setting all-time Cuban League record for highest batting avg (min. 100 AB). Record for most consecutive games hitting safely (30). Tied record for most hits in a game (6). Also led league in at-bats, hits, and doubles.
1929-30 - Led league in average. Record for most consecutive seasons batting .300 or better (8).
1930f - Season ended after 5 games due to a contract dispute over the stadium.
1930f(S) - Special season after regular season ended early.
1931-32 - Led league in runs, hits, and stolen bases. Tied for lead in home runs.
1932-33 - Led league in doubles.
1937-38 - Tied record for most times batting .300 or better in a career (11).

Oms ranked 5th all-time in runs, 10th in doubles, 8th in triples, 2nd in career average (behind Torriente).
   5. Brent Posted: June 17, 2005 at 03:25 AM (#1410772)
Here are a few comments on Oms from The Pride of Havana by Roberto González Echevarría.

His nickname was "El Caballero" (The Gentleman), apparently because he was known for his exquisite manners and for never raising his voice. He's described as a slender black from Santa Clara in Las Villas Province. In 1920-21 Santa Clara was not yet part of the Cuban League, but it fielded a team drawn from local sugarmills and amatuer clubs that won a regional championship featuring three Oms brothers. In 1922-23, a Santa Clara team was organized in the Cuban League and local boy Alejandro Oms became one of its stars.

González writes, "Oms threw and hit left-handed and seems to have been a line-drive hitter somewhat in the model of Rod Carew, though Oms had much more power. He was also a superb outfielder who roamed the vast expanses of Almendares Park and La Tropical. His only weakness was a mediocre arm." He died "in poverty and neglect" on November 5, 1946.
   6. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 17, 2005 at 12:51 PM (#1411048)

Any chance you've got league totals so we can compare Oms to his leagues?
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: June 17, 2005 at 01:20 PM (#1411083)
What about Bernardo Baro? As a matter of comparison, it seems that if Oms is not the next best Cuban hitter then maybe Baro is. If we can get Baro's record we could at last establish whether Oms is clearly a better candidate than Baro. I don't even know what position Baro played.

But here was Oms playing in a league with Bell, Charleston, Torriente, Suttles, Lloyd, Dihigo, Mendez, Ray Brown, and clearly being one of the stars of the league. Definitely an oversight so far.

I'm inclined right now to revise my list of RFer candidates as follows: Klein, Cravath, Oms, and that may underrate Oms. If Oms is 90 percent of Torriente, and apparently a fairly similar player....
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: June 17, 2005 at 01:25 PM (#1411094)
For comparison here is Torriente's Cuban record:

From Holway

1913 35-104 in Cuban play (.337)
1914 .48-186 in Cuban Play (.387)
1915 .9-23 (.391) vs. ABCs in Cuba
56-139 (.403) in Cuban Play

1919 21-73 vs. major-league competition in Cuba
36-100 in Cuban Play
1920 9-31 vs. major-league competition in Cuba
29-98 (.296) in Cuban Play
1921 7-20 (.350) in Cuban Play
1922 .61-194 (.351) in Cuban Play
1923 .377 in Cuban Play
1924 62-163 (.380) in Cuban Play
1925 43-122 (.344) in Cuban Play

Career Totals
15 documented seasons as regular
856-2548 (.336) lifetime in Negro-League Play, 53 HR
48-110 (.436) vs. major-league competition
386-1149 (.336) lifetime in Cuban Play

From Riley

Hit .352 in 13 Cuban Winter League seasons, with avgs. Of
.265, .337, .387, .402, .360, .296, .350, .346, .380, .344, .375, .222

Avg. vs. major-league competition, .313
   9. karlmagnus Posted: June 17, 2005 at 05:18 PM (#1411579)
If we start considering Oms and other Latin American players, surely we have to look at the Japanese leagues too.
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: June 17, 2005 at 06:34 PM (#1411761)

I'm going to guess that this is an argument against considering Latins.

But Oms did play in the U.S.

Cepeda, Vagas, Coimbre, et al, is of course a horse of another color. I think even then the difference is that we have a number of points of comparison of Cubans to NeLers to MLers. We have less than nothing to go on for Japan.

I'm game.
   11. Gary A Posted: June 17, 2005 at 07:21 PM (#1411896)
1928 Alejandro Oms
Cuban Stars (East)

G-29 (team 29)
AVE-.298 (NeL east .282)
OBA-.359 (NeL east .333)
SLG-.474 (NeL east .383)

Oms had nearly twice as many walks as anybody else on the team (the team didn't walk a lot). By the way, Bernardo Baro hit .325/.372/.350 in 19 games for the same team.

*-led east
G-28 (team 29)
RF-3.15* (NeL east 2.52)
FPCT-.988* (NeL east .965)

Oms also played one game at third base, with one putout and no errors in 8 innings.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: June 17, 2005 at 07:25 PM (#1411916)
Gary, do you know Oms' and Baro's age in 1928?

And does anybody have Baros' NeL record from Holway or Riley or wherever?
   13. Gary A Posted: June 17, 2005 at 11:44 PM (#1412594)
Found my Cuban books. Figueredo gives Oms a birthdate of March 13, 1895, making him 27 at his Cuban League debut in 1922 and 33 in 1928. He doesn't have a birthdate for Baro, who played in the Cuban League from 1915 to 1929 and died in June 1930. If I had to guess, I'd say he was about Oms's age.
   14. Gary A Posted: June 17, 2005 at 11:52 PM (#1412639)
Bernardo Baro and Valentin Dreke (b. 6-21-1898) seem very similar. Both were LH-hitting outfielders in the 1920s Cuban League (and in North America), both died young (Dreke in September 1929), and their career CuL stats are similar (excluding independent seasons, for which Figueredo doesn't give extra base hits):

   15. Gary A Posted: June 18, 2005 at 12:03 AM (#1412710)
Dreke and Baro were teammates in 1921. Baro was clearly better at this point, but then Dreke was only 23, and I suspect Baro was probably 26 or 27 or older:

1921 Bernardo Baro
Cuban Stars (West)

G-66 (team 69)
SB-29 (3rd in league)
AVE-.325 (NNL+ .267)
OBA-.379 (NNL+ .329)
SLG-.482 (NNL+ .366)

1921 Valentin Dreke
Cuban Stars (West)
G-68 (team 69)

Baro played center field with a range factor of 2.22 (NNL 2.08) and a poor fielding percentage of .900 (NNL .937); Dreke played left field and led the league with a 2.14 range factor (NNL 1.74) and had a fielding pct. of .957 (NNL .940).
   16. Gary A Posted: June 18, 2005 at 12:36 AM (#1412877)
From the Mac 8th edition:

Alejandro Oms 1921-28, 30-31, 35

Bernardo Baro 1917, 1920-29

Valentin Dreke 1919-27
   17. Gary A Posted: June 18, 2005 at 12:39 AM (#1412892)
To avoid confusion, the stats in posts 15-16 are for U.S. play only.
   18. Gary A Posted: June 18, 2005 at 12:42 AM (#1412909)
From Holway's Complete Book (U.S. stats only):

Alejandro Oms 432 for 1308, .330, 33 home runs

Bernardo Baro 412 for 1353, .305, career HRs not listed

Valentin Dreke 508 for 1552, .327, career HRs not listed
   19. Brent Posted: June 18, 2005 at 03:14 AM (#1413447)
Dr. Chaleeko asked:

Any chance you've got league totals so we can compare Oms to his leagues?

I'm sorry. Figueredo's Cuban Baseball presents year-by-year individual batting and pitching statistics, but no team or league statistics other than wins and losses.

I'll see if I can put together some other statistics that might be helpful in assessing Cuban League performance.
   20. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:49 PM (#1417511)
Begin posts from 1954 Ballot Discussion:

Posted by Chris Cobb on June 13, 2005 at 10:36 PM (#1402606)
Just a quick note on a couple of players who deserve a mention and more than passing scrutiny, though their careers will be difficult to reconstruct:

Francisco "Pancho" Coimbre. Widely regarded as the best Puerto Rican ballplayer before Clemente. He played only 4 seasons in the Negro Leagues 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1944, but he was a fixture in the Puerto Rican Winter League from its inception in 1938 through 1951, and his professional career in Latin America stretches back to the mid-1920s. Hit for very high average in his Negro-League seasons, with good doubles power and a bit of home-run pop. Statistics for his Puerto Rican career should be available somewhere.

Tetelo Vargas. Officially eligible since 1950, he hasn't yet received any attention. In 1954, he is still playing in the new summer league in his native Dominican, at the age of 47. Universally regarded as the best player of this era out of the Dominican. He played two stints in the NeL, 1927-31, 38-39, 41-44, all for Cuban teams. He began his career as an infielder (27-31 period) but was an outfielder by the late 1930s. He played in the Puerto Rican Winter League through most of the 1940s, so stats for those years could be found.

Anyone know more about these players, or about the Puerto Rico Winter League in which they starred?
   21. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:50 PM (#1417515)
Posted by Gadfly on June 14, 2005 at 03:56 PM (#1404147)
28. Chris Cobb-

Puerto Rican Winter League [PRWL] career records:

Francisco (Pancho) Coimbre, born 1909
PRWL 1938-39 to 1950-51
1915 370 646 135 17 24 .337 .463

Coimbre was a contact hitter, notoriously dificult to strike out. In the 1948-49 season, Coimbre walked 58 times and struck out just once in 239 ABs. That being said, it is also obvious that, in that season, the 39-40 year old Coimbre was working the count to make up for his age.

The available career PRWL BB-SO data for Coimbre is: 187 BB and 19 SO in 1043 ABs (129-18 in 804 disregarding 48-49).

Coimbre also played one season (1945) in the Mexican League:

89 356 55 123 26 6 5 .346 .494 10 31 8

Coimbre was a short squat outfielder (about 5 foot 8, 190-200 pounds) with good speed who would probably comp pretty well with Tony Gwynn. He started his Pro baseball career in 1929 and played until 1951.

In the first few seasons, he was a pitcher before his bat forced him into everyday play. In the 1930s, rather than play in the States during the summer, he played at home and in Venezuela.

He was probably the second greatest Puerto Rican player of his day after:

Pedro (Perucho) Cepeda [Orlando's Daddy], born 1905
PRWL 1938-39 to 1947-48, and 49-50
1589 240 516 60 31 14 .325 .428

Perucho started his pro baseball career in 1928 and played in Venezuela in the 1930s and was on the famous 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team with the cream of the Negro League. Reportedly he wouldn't play in the States because of 1) racial discrimination or 2) his wife and mistress and both families were in PR.

Although Cepeda's statistics are not as good as Coimbre's stats, this comes with a caveat. Cepeda was by far the best hitter in the PRWL from 1938 to 1942 (713 AB .411 BA .571 SA) except for Josh Gibson. In 1942, the 36-year-old Cepeda got a full-time job with the San Juan Sanitation department and was obviously not concentrating fully on his baseball career from that point on.

After a decent year in 1942-43, Cepeda wasn't that great a player for the rest of his career with BA of .283 (42-43), .245, .259, .265, .261, and .267 at age 44.

Cepeda was a SS in his prime who also played some 3B and RF (i.e he had a great arm), and, at the end of his career was a 1B. He stood 5 feet 11 inches, weighed 190 in his prime and 200 at the end of his career. He did not walk or strike out much. If I had to comp him with a modern player it would be Nomar, possibly Jeter.

For some Puerto Rican reference for these two guys, Roberto Clemente's PRWL career stats are .324 BA and .457 SA and Orlando Cepeda stats are .323 BA and .544.

All though some sources credit Pedro with more power than his kid, I don't think that's true. I think Pedro would have had 20-25 HR power with a .350-.375 BA in the Majors at his peak (Gehringer with a little more speed and power but less walks).

But, of course, neither Cepeda the elder nor Coimbre played in the PRWL during their prime. This is particularily acute with Perucho who was 33 in the first season of the PRWL.

And then, of course, there is Juan Esteban (Tetelo) Vargas. Vargas was born in the Dominican Republic in 1906. He began his pro baseball career in 1923 and was soon playing shortstop in the Negro Leagues (hitting .380 or so in 1929).

Like a lot of Latin Stars, he played in Venezuela in the 1930s, but also the New York Cubans (1935-36) and Ciudad Trujillo (1937).

By the 1930s, Vargas was mostly playing CF. In his prime, Vargas stood 5 feet 11 inches and weighed about 165-170 pounds. He had outstanding speed (in his first 3 PRWL season, Vargas stole 68 bases in 551 ABs). Vargas has a lot of similarities with Cool Papa Bell, though he seems to have been an even better hitter by a slight margin.

Tetelo began playing in the PRWL in its first season (1938-39) for the Guayama Warlocks. He would play in the PRWL until the 1954-55 season. Vargas loved Puerto Rico and settled there, eventually dying in Guayama in 1971.

Juan Esteban (Tetelo) Vargas, born 1906
PRWL 1938-39 to 41-42, 43-44 to 54-55
2821 606 906 119 56 23 .321 .428

There is one cavaet to Vargas' career and that is that some 2B-3B-HR info is missing from the war years. His actual career SA is probably about .435-.440.

Of course, Vargas played on well into his 40s, being 48 years old in his last season and this reduces his career BA-SA quite a bit.

If I had to rate these three, I think Cepeda was the best hitter and player in his prime, followed by Vargas and then Coimbre. Vargas, who played forever (1923-1954), would obviously be given the laurels for the career.

All three of these guys are talented enough for the Hall of Fame or Hall of Merit; but are triple cursed, being Black, Latin, and forgotten. And, in any event, Alejandro Oms was probably better than all three.
   22. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:52 PM (#1417522)
Posted by Chris Cobb on June 16, 2005 at 08:04 AM (#1408736)
If I had to rate these three, I think Cepeda was the best hitter and player in his prime, followed by Vargas and then Coimbre. Vargas, who played forever (1923-1954), would obviously be given the laurels for the career.

All three of these guys are talented enough for the Hall of Fame or Hall of Merit; but are triple cursed, being Black, Latin, and forgotten. And, in any event, Alejandro Oms was probably better than all three.

gadfly, thanks for the additional information on Coimbre, Vargas, and Perucho Cepeda. I'd be interested to here more about why you think Oms was better than all three.

It sounds like you rank them Oms, Cepeda, Vargas, Coimbre. Is that right?

I ask because I am not convinced that it is a waste of time to argue for the election of one or more players whose career was spent primarily in Latin America. Home Run Johnson was not Latin, but he was at least as forgotten and even less statistically documented than these players, and he was elected. He had the advantage of becoming eligible when there was les competition (now is very bad time for a marginal, underdocumented player to reach the ballot), but the competition is going to thin later.

Once we've made a first pass through the documented and better known Negro-League stars, they will provide a set of benchmarks to whom the Latin players can be directly compared, when the NeL stars were playing in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico (and Venezuela, if some stats can be found). Those comparisons, together with the limited NeL stats for Oms, Vargas, and Coimbre, should be enough to make a sound case for where they rank.

So we might as well start building a bit more of a collective awareness of these guys now, with a more statistically grounded analysis to follow in an HoM decade or so.
   23. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:53 PM (#1417525)
Posted by Gary A on June 16, 2005 at 07:28 PM (#1410424)
From Gadfly:
If I had to rate these three, I think Cepeda was the best hitter and player in his prime, followed by Vargas and then Coimbre. Vargas, who played forever (1923-1954), would obviously be given the laurels for the career.

All three of these guys are talented enough for the Hall of Fame or Hall of Merit; but are triple cursed, being Black, Latin, and forgotten. And, in any event, Alejandro Oms was probably better than all three.

From what I know I'd agree. I definitely think Oms and Cepeda deserve a look; Oms's Cuban League stats are up there with Torriente, Charleston, and Wilson in the 1920s. There's also the intriguing question of his age: according to the birthdate I have, he was supposedly already 27 in 1922 when his Cuban League career started, and in Cuba he played till his mid or late 40s. (I could be off a year or two on these numbers; I'm going from memory, as most of my books are still packed away from the move.) I know he played in the U.S. for the eastern Cuban Stars in 1921.

There was an Oms thread at some point, but I don't know where it is exactly (it's listed among the Negro League threads).
   24. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:56 PM (#1417531)
Posted by Gadfly on June 17, 2005 at 11:31 AM (#1411458)
101. Chris Cobb and 111. Gary A-

As for ranking the four players, I would put them like this:

Peak: Oms, Cepeda, Vargas, Coimbre
Career: Vargas, Oms, Cepeda, Coimbre

I'll try to get around to doing a breakdown on Oms (and the other three) on his thread this weekend. Oms originally came to the States in 1917, playing for Pompez. If I remember right, he didn't return until 1922, but McMillan lists him playing one game in 1921 and hitting 3 HRs in that game. That's incorrect, his 3 HR game was in 1922 against Ed Rile.

At the very worst, Oms was a comp for Zack Wheat in the 1920s. I think he was actually a lot better than that, maybe something like 90 to 95% of Stan Musial. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Off the Subject-

Grant (Home Run) Johnson, who is one of my favorite players, was elected before I started participating here, but, I must say, his election is certainly a kudo for the group. In my opinion, Johnson was quite comparable to his contemporaries: Nap Lajoie and Honus Wagner.

That he was elected with the scant evidence available cannot be anything but commended.
   25. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1417542)
Posted by Gary A on June 17, 2005 at 07:19 PM (#1412803)
Gadfly #119:
Oms originally came to the States in 1917, playing for Pompez. If I remember right, he didn't return until 1922, but McMillan lists him playing one game in 1921 and hitting 3 HRs in that game. That's incorrect, his 3 HR game was in 1922 against Ed Rile.

Oms definitely played in the U.S. in 1921. I have him in two games against the Brooklyn Royal Giants, hitting 4 for 9, the 4 hits coming in one game for which the box score has no extra base hits. He scored 2 runs, so couldn't have had 3 home runs. I also have Oms in 8 games vs. the Tesreau Bears, a very good white semipro team featuring Jeff Tesreau himself, Larry Doyle, Manuel Cueto, other former major leaguers, and several stalwarts of the NY semipro scene. The Bears were something like 21-16 against NeL teams in 1921.

Altogether in the ten games I have Oms hit .432/.457/.761 (and that's without the extra base hits for that 4-hit game). On August 28, Oms hit for the cycle against the Bears, going 5 for 5. He played left field in the eight games against the Bears, center field in the two against Brooklyn, and batted third in every game.
   26. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:02 PM (#1417543)
Posted by Gadfly on June 19, 2005 at 12:34 PM (#1415719)
129- Gary A

You are, of course, correct. Oms played for Pompez' Cuban Stars in 1921. I should have checked the Negro Leagues Book rosters first. His 3 HR game was on July 23, 1922, according to Holway's Complete Negro League book.

I was aware of how good the Tesreau Bears were right after the war, but the 21-16 figure is fascinating. If you don't mind me asking and have the info, how many boxscores do you have from these 37 games and how many were started by Tesreau?

I'm going to copy all the Oms stuff here and move it to his thread when I get a chance. Then I'll post some more info on Alejandro and maybe an analysis of his stats can be done by Chris Cobb and company.
   27. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:04 PM (#1417549)
Posted by Gary A on June 19, 2005 at 04:28 PM (#1416200)
(Apologies in advance for this detour from the ballot discussion.)

Gadfly, I have box scores for 34 of 38 games (their actual record was 21-16-1; 18-15-1 in the games with boxes). Of those 34 games, Tesreau started 9:


By comparison, here's Cyclone Joe Williams's record for the Lincoln Gts against the Tesreau Bears in 1921:


This was in a very high-scoring environment, with most of the games played in Dyckman Oval (and a handful in the Catholic Protectory Grounds). In those 34 games between the Bears and Negro League teams, the two teams averaged 12.59 runs a game (6.29 per individual team).

The NeL teams the Bears played (that I know of so far):
Lincoln Giants
Cuban Stars (E)
Brooklyn Royal Giants
Bacharach Giants
Chicago American Giants

Almost all of these box scores come from the Chicago Defender, which covered the Bears extensively (the paper was really more interested in the Bears than in the NY-area black teams). I'm still looking for another good source for New York box scores for that year--the Age didn't carry box scores, the Amsterdam News isn't archived before 1923, and the easily available NY papers (Times, World, Herald Tribune) didn't bother to cover NeL and semipro baseball.
   28. Gadfly Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:14 PM (#1417580)
Posts 20-27 transferred from the 1954 Ballot Discussion.

27: Thanks Gary. I've always been fascinated by the post World War One baseball boom and some of the odd teams that flourished then (like Spot Poles' Hell Fighters). The New York semi-pro scene was always especially fascinating (someday I like to see an article on the long and fascinating NYSP career of Andy Coakley.
   29. Gary A Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:40 PM (#1417654)
Thanks for moving this stuff over here where it's more relevant.

I've been intending to write up something on Tesreau's Bears; I need to do a lot more work on identifying the NY semipro players, though.
   30. Gary A Posted: June 26, 2005 at 04:14 AM (#1431233)
I've compiled some league totals for the 1920s Cuban League from Figueredo's book. As those who have the book know, it's a little erratic sometimes. It lists most non-pitchers and their (very basic) hitting stats, omitting pitchers except for a few who played substantial time at other positions. It also (I think) omits a few substitutes who didn't come to the plate often. As such, the averages presented below might be similar to bb-ref's league averages with pitchers omitted.

Some years have even less than this minimal information (see notes below). I list the totals for each season for every batter Figueredo lists, with the number of teams and batters, as well as players I've identified as Negro Leaguers and North American minor leaguers (not including pitchers who aren't given batting stats, which is to say most pitchers).

20/21 1948 219 485 49 35 4 39 249 316 3 44(7,3)
1921* 352 58 119 9 6 1 9 338 406 2 21(0,0)
22/23 4694 686 1328 164 80 19 80 283 364 4 43(3,1)
23/24**5582 906 1694 217 102 33 - 303 397 4 48(12,9)
24/25 4591 756 1370 194 86 36 37 298 402 4 53(16,10)
25/26 2865 446 876 112 57 20 44 306 406 3 36(5,0)
27/28 3245 508 979 139 54 39 64 302 414 3 41(12,0)
28/29 3949 628 1193 164 88 45 118 302 422 4 38(18,0)
29/30 5537 896 1581 210 96 42 - 286 381 4 42(15,0)

*-1921 saw only five games between Habana and Almendares.
**-Not including the special "Gran Premio" second season, for which Figueredo does not give extra base hits.
***-The 1926/27 season featured a rival league, the "Triangular" League, which grabbed most of the best players. Unfortunately, Figueredo's data are incomplete for both leagues, missing many players from the regular league (only two batters for Cienfuegos are given stats) and extra base hits for the Triangular.
   31. Gary A Posted: June 28, 2005 at 01:14 AM (#1435508)
Here are some averages for some players of interest for their 1920s Cuban League careers, adjusted for league totals. "Ave" and "slg" are unadjusted averages; "rave" and "rslg" are relative to the (partial) league totals in #30. I also give their ages for the seasons covered (excluding a few seasons with only token appearances). An asterisk indicates a player who had significant years in Cuba before or after the 1920s.

Oms and Lloyd may be the most impressive here, considering that Wilson is represented only by his prime. Smith is a little better than I thought; if the 1910s were included, I suspect Torriente would look even better. Dihigo's performance was awfully good for such a young player.

player ab ave slg rave rslg ages
Wilson 578 401 600 1.344 1.483 26-30
Oms* 859 390 565 1.315 1.417 27-34
Torriente* 739 348 501 1.193 1.313 27-32
Charleston 734 350 544 1.181 1.370 24-32
Smith 453 338 497 1.145 1.236 24-27
Lundy 640 336 441 1.134 1.110 25-31
Lloyd* 758 338 463 1.131 1.168 38-43
Dihigo* 574 317 477 1.071 1.188 18-23
Dreke 817 315 389 1.050 0.978 24-29
Baro* 716 307 387 1.034 0.981 ??
   32. sunnyday2 Posted: June 28, 2005 at 03:01 AM (#1435760)
I assume that's Chino Smith? Certainly not Hilton.
   33. sunnyday2 Posted: June 28, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1435767)
Can somebody post Oms' annual numbers from Holway for further comparison with other NeLers? I am beginning to think he deserves a much closer look.

And imust say that Lundy looks more like the 122-114 OPS+ hitter we had initially thought him to be than the 94 OPS+ that he has most recently been represented to be, don't ya think?
   34. Gary A Posted: June 28, 2005 at 03:45 AM (#1435820)
Yes, that's Chino Smith. Hilton Smith was a bit young to play in Cuba in the 1920s.
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: June 28, 2005 at 07:26 PM (#1436781)
Can somebody post Oms' annual numbers from Holway for further comparison with other NeLers.

I'll try to get that done tonight.

And imust say that Lundy looks more like the 122-114 OPS+ hitter we had initially thought him to be than the 94 OPS+ that he has most recently been represented to be, don't ya think?

Well, two things that sink Lundy's career OPS+ are (1) his low walk rate, which is corroborated by all the walk data that we have so far, and (2) his weaker hitting from 1930 on. This data from Gary A. doesn't include walks, and it shows us Lundy as a hitter in the 1920s. Let's guess that walks shave 5 points off of Lundy's OPS+, which is 124 using ba and sa. So that's 119. Multiply that by a rough conversion factor of .9, and you've got 107. That's not much at variance with what the projections are showing for his 1919-1928 first decade, which is in the 110-115 range.

Lundy's career OPS+ should be higher than 94, because the quality of competition in the NeL rose during the contraction years of the early 1930s, but I don't think this data suggests that his MLEs for the 1920s are way off target.

The key, of course, is the conversion factor, which is the hardest piece of the whole puzzle to get right.
   36. Brent Posted: June 29, 2005 at 04:32 AM (#1438416)
I'll add another player to the list Gary has provided in # 31--long-time MLB catcher and Cuban League player, Mike Gonzalez. Here are his Cuban statistics for the seasons that Gary has tabulated from 1920-21 through 1929-30:

ABs Ave _Slg Rave _Rslg Ages
649 .280 .361 .975 .943 29-39

And here are his MLB averages and park-adjusted averages relative to league excluding pitchers (from bbref) for the seasons 1920-29:

_ABs Ave _Slg Rave _Rslg
1393 .271 .354 .925 .861

It's just one player, but these numbers appear to be consistent with about a 95 percent quality differential for batting average between the Cuban League and the majors and a 91 percent differential for slugging. These numbers suggest that the 1920s Cuban League was closer than modern Triple AAA to major league quality.
   37. Chris Cobb Posted: June 29, 2005 at 01:41 PM (#1438547)
Alejandro Oms data

DoB, from Riley, March 13, 1895

Teams, from Riley: 1917 Cuban Stars East, 1921 All Cubans, 1922-32 Cuban Stars East, 1935 NY Cubans

Seasonal data from Holway

1917 .114; lf
1921 no data
1922 no ba data; cf (listed with Cuban Stars, but no batting average available)
1923 .349 (#4 in league); cf, all-star
1924 .281; cf
1925 .376, 14 hr (3rd in league), 32 hr/550 ab (3rd in league); lf [should have been named all-star by Holway, but wasn’t]
1926 .321; cf
1927 .287; cf
1928 .362, 11 2b (4th in league); rf
1929 no data (team listed, but not Oms)
1930 .320; cf, all-star
1931 .118; cf
1932 no data (Cuban Stars not listed in Holway)
1935 .396 (3rd in league), 13 2b (2nd in league); lf [should have been named all-star]

Career data from Holway
432-1308, .330
33 hr, 13 hr/550 ab
black ink/gray ink 0/19
mean avg. for 10 recorded seasons, .292

Career data from Macmillan 10th
247 g, 913 ab, 279 hits, 66 2b, 15 3b, 29 hr, .306 ba, .506 sa

There are significant discrepancies between the two career records, obviously.
   38. sunnyday2 Posted: June 29, 2005 at 02:03 PM (#1438580)
>There are significant discrepancies between the two career records, obviously.

No kidding. If he is really a .330 hitter in the NeL--along with apparently comparable to Wilson and Torriente in Cuba--then we oughta be looking seriously at him.

If he is a .292-.306 hitter in the NeLs, well, that is a different story, though you've still got a stellar Cuban League record to account for.

Right now I am inclined to slot him into my consideration set (my top 100+) for the first time, but the CF glut is a very tough group to decipher, so exactly where he goes I don't know yet.

Right now I am evolving, but:

1. Roush
2. Browning
3. Duffy
4. Bell
5. H. Wilson
6. Averill
7. Berger
8. Poles
9. Van Haltren
10. Ryan

The spread among Duffy, GVH and Ryan is too big, they are all pretty comparable. Still not comfortable about Bell. Don't know if Wilson is too high or Averill too low.

At best Oms would go into the big gap between Averill and Berger, at worst he could be down around #10. But I doubt that there is another position where #10 is as good a player as here.
   39. Gary A Posted: June 29, 2005 at 07:10 PM (#1439433)
Wow, Holway's 1928 data on Oms is way off (check my post #11 above). He's got him hitting 11 doubles, but his team only playing 4 games (going 1-3). In reality, the eastern Cubans went at least 8-18-3 against top black teams (all current or former league teams, plus the Grays), with Oms playing in all 29 games; I've got him with 8 doubles. Plus he played center field, not right field as Holway seems to have it.
   40. Gary A Posted: June 29, 2005 at 07:27 PM (#1439504)
The evolution of Oms's North American record is a little curious, as you can see:

Mac 8 259 934 310 66 13 29 18 .332 .524
Mac 10 247 913 279 66 15 29 -- .306 .506
Holway --- 1308 432 -- -- 33 -- .330 ---

Between 8th and 10th editions, he lost 12 games, 21 at bats, and 31 hits, but the extra base hits remained almost identical (except for two triples gained).

Keep in mind that Holway was involved in all three of these--his Complete Book is supposed to represent his continuation of the original Negro League Committee project. He's also, as I understand it, mostly responsible for the Macmillan 10th edition (which I think Dick Clark disavowed). I'm open to correction on this, as I'm not privy to all the gossip about this kind of stuff.

Also, a brief note on Riley's entry on Oms (see Chris's post #37): he did not (to my knowledge) play for the All Cubans in 1921, but rather for the Cuban Stars (East). They were two distinct squads that for some reason have often been conflated in reference works.
   41. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 29, 2005 at 08:13 PM (#1439683)
Here's how I9s projects Oms:
1921 174   48   8  4   2  12  15   6   2 276 323 402 725  23 
1922 570  172  26  9  11  34  51  30  12 302 341 437 778  85 
1923 617  194  32  8  18  32  67  35  18 314 348 480 828 101 
1924 533  182  33  9  14  34  55  24  14 341 381 516 897 103 
1925 638  226  37 11  22  40  68  27  15 354 392 550 942 135 
1926 501  155  27  7  10  27  52  22   9 309 345 451 796  78 
1927 422  118  28  4  12  27  40  16   7 280 323 450 773  61 
1928 495  165  28  6   7  29  53  17  12 333 370 457 827  82 
1929 219   56  10  2   4  11  24   2   4 256 291 374 666  23 
1930 443  139  21  4  13  24  53  16   9 314 349 467 816  71 
1931 255   74   9  2   2  15  36  12   4 290 330 365 694  31 
TOT 4867 1529 259 66 115 285 514 207 106 314 352 465 817 789 
   42. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 29, 2005 at 08:40 PM (#1439788)
Thinking about Oms, the biggest variable here is what happened to him after 1931. Obviously with the Negro Leagues falling apart due to the depression, Oms was left to return to Cuba and ply his trade there. So this data from Brent is absolutely crucial evidence for us because otherwise, Oms has just an 11 year career that's not going to HOM him.

1931-32    Habana            113  28  44  8  3  3  17 14 .389 
1932-33    Habana             57  13  21  4  0  0  12  4 .368 
1933-34    Season not held          
1934-35    Did not play          
1935-36    Santa Clara       180  38  56 10  3  2  30 -- .311 
1936-37    Did not play          
1937-38    Santa Clara        92  22  29  2  0  2  19  1 .315 
1938-39    Did not play          
1939-40    Almendares        101  15  23  2  0  0   9  5 .228 
1940-41    Almendares/Habana 166  22  39  4  2  0  12  5 .235 
1945-46    Cienfuegos          1   0   0  0  0  0   0  0 .000 

This evideicne suggests that Oms had something left in the tank when he left the U.S. I don't know what I9s does in terms of career shaping, but if they are shaping his career conventionally (i have no evidence either way), then I think their numbers could be off because they will see him trailing off well before his real decline may have begun, dampening his peak and prime in addition to his career.

Or not, I don't know, but I think that it's a point well worth investigating.

Gary A, do you have the league-wide Cuba data for Oms's later years?
   43. sunnyday2 Posted: June 29, 2005 at 08:41 PM (#1439789)
That certainly is underwhelming. That 817 is, what, maybe #300 in ML history? The top 100 goes through 862 (Rusty Greer 864, Danny Tartabull 863, 3 players [not named] tied at 862).

Oddly enough, the 1921-1931 timeframe seems based on his Cuban League play (post #30) instead of his NeL play through 1935, though I can see how they got there.

His 1921 season was his age 26 season, but his 1917 numbers suggest he wasn't ready much earlier. Apparently his biggest issue (in terms of his rating here) is a late start.
   44. Chris Cobb Posted: June 29, 2005 at 09:09 PM (#1439890)
The incompleteness of Oms' record is a problem. The 1917 data suggests, certainly, that he wasn't a major-league equivalent player at that time, but, as it's probably based on 4 games (Holway lists the Cuban Stars as 2-2 that year), it's hardly a decisive assessment. Maybe he wouldn't have reached the majors until 1921, but I don't think we can know that for sure based on the evidence we have available at the moment.

I'm guessing that the i9s projections are based on Oms' numbers as listed in Macmillan 10th, which, looked at on their own, suggest that Oms was pretty much done in 1931.

1930, 24-75, .320
1931 2-33, .061
1935 25-123, .203

I infer that they they used this as their basis for ending his MLE career in 1931.

Holway agrees on 1930, has Oms slightly better in 1931, and as having a great age 40 season in 1935, hitting .396! That data obviously suggests a very different shape to the latter part of Oms' career.

The post-1930 Cuban data makes it very clear that Oms was definitely not done as a major-league quality player after 1930, and probably wasn't done until 1937.

I have no clear idea at this point how I would project Oms: it's clearly going to take some combination of Nel and Cuban data, and some significant guesswork for several missing seasons.
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 30, 2005 at 01:57 AM (#1440527)
Incidentally, Holway lists Oms as playing in Santo Domingo in the Trujillo league in 1937, going 23 for 99 (.232).
   46. KJOK Posted: June 30, 2005 at 02:20 AM (#1440584)
Keep in mind that Holway was involved in all three of these--his Complete Book is supposed to represent his continuation of the original Negro League Committee project. He's also, as I understand it, mostly responsible for the Macmillan 10th edition (which I think Dick Clark disavowed). I'm open to correction on this, as I'm not privy to all the gossip about this kind of stuff.

Here are their public comments:


My gripe goes back about ten years to the ninth edition of the Macmillan stats. Dick and I had worked together on the first stats in the eighth edition. He decided not to help on updating them for the ninth. So I prepared a list of changes, which I sent to him for his approval. He made no reply, and I sent them to Mac. When the volume came out, Dick wrote a long item in the newsletter about all the errors in the ninth, that is, all the changes I had sent him.

I replied that those weren't errors, they were updates and he had not raised any objections when he reviewed them before publication.


....with regards to the Big Mac Encyclopedia and data in the 9th edition. John has had a lapse of memory. I vehemently argued against the changes
that John did with the 9th edition. I am still opposed to these changes and recommend the 8th edition. I do not believe PUBLISHED stats should be changed with a too small statistical database to work from.
   47. Gary A Posted: June 30, 2005 at 03:23 AM (#1440728)
On the question of Oms's career before 1921: I will echo Chris and say that the 4-game sample from 1917 probably doesn't tell us much. I do know, from Rene Gonzalez Echevarria's book on Cuban baseball, that there was a lot going in Cuban baseball outside of Havana and the few other cities involved in the Cuban League: sugar mill teams, the Amateur League, other semipro or professional teams. There were also occasional rival leagues in Havana that aren't covered by Figueredo (Julio LeBlanc was hit over the head with a bat and killed in an independent league game in 1922).

It is clear that when Oms does enter the historical record, he hits the ground running: he hit .432 in the games I have for 1921 in the U.S., then .436, .381, and .393 in his first three Cuban League seasons. He was keeping pace with Oscar Charleston while playing alongside him the first two seasons; his third season (24/25), he outhit Charleston by a mile (.393/.559, both of which led the league, to Charleston's .261/.458).

So I'd say it's very possible (likely, in fact) Oms was a major-league quality player prior to 1921--but I have no way of knowing how good or for how long.
   48. Chris Cobb Posted: June 30, 2005 at 04:13 AM (#1440838)
A little initial work on conversions for Oms suggests that gadfly's comparison of him to Zack Wheat in the 1920s is plausible. His best-documented NeL season, 1925, which was also possibly his best season, looks like it would yield an OPS+ of 145-150, while his Cuban seasons in the 1920s, if we go with the .95/.90 conversion rate suggested by the Mike Gonzales data, would yield a combined OPS+ of 153, substituting batting average for on-base percentage in both cases. Oms' walk rate is, of course, the wild card here, but he's looking like a player whose peak batting value is in the Zack Wheat to Paul Waner range, 145-155 OPS+ values, pending an assessment of plate discipline, of course. It's not yet clear how long he sustained this level of hitting, and since Wheat and Waner both earn a considerable portion of their value by having a lot of very good years, Oms would need a similarly long prime to be comparable in value, I think.

Oms seemed to play a good deal of center field, so his defensive value may well be higher than Wheat's and Waner's. Career length is, of course, another matter that needs to be worked out, but as I look more closely, Oms looks more like a serious candidate.
   49. Gary A Posted: June 30, 2005 at 05:03 AM (#1440894)
FWIW, the major league player Oms is most frequently compared to is Paul Waner.

On the question of his defense, here's a post I made on the Charleston thread (#1081232):

For the 1923-24 Cuban League season, I have 14 Santa Clara box scores; Charleston plays center field in 8 of those games, right field in 4, and left field in 1. Oms plays center in 4, and Mesa in 2. In one game, Charleston is listed as a second baseman, but I strongly suspect that's a typo, though it's very unclear what position he did play (there's a rf, lf, and cf listed aside from Charleston).

So in this small sample Oms was taking away a chunk of playing time from Charleston in center field--whereas, to compare with another Cuban center fielder, in 1919 Charleston played all the games in center for the Am Gts, with Torriente relegated to left.
   50. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 30, 2005 at 01:31 PM (#1441175)
Just taking a step back here to get the bigger picture of where we are with Oms...

Born 1895

PHASE 1: Growth
1917-1920 (ages 22-25)--Virtually no data, nor much anecdotal evidence thus far.

PHASE 2: Prime
1921-1931 (ages 26-36)--Well documented between U.S. and Cuba. Possibly comparable to Wheat or Waner. Was already at top of game entering his prime.

PHASE 3: Decline
1932-1937 (ages 37-42)--Poorly documented in U.S. with sketchy data on 1935, intermittent data on several years in Cuba, and a batting average for his year in S.D. in 1937. Pretty clearly not at MLB replacement level by end of period, but appears to still have a lot left entering the period.

MY OWN PERSONAL CONCLUSION: If Oms hit the ground running in 1921 in the NgL, and he was still socking the ball in Cuba in the depression era, then we've got to come to some kind of consensus about how many seasons we're "missing" here.

I'm thinking there's at least five viable seasons missing (1918, 1919, 1920, 1932, 1933), and perhaps as many as eight (1917-1920 and 1932-1935). So that's not only something like a third of the guy's career, it's also at least three probable seasons with the potential to add significant bulk to his career and extended prime and to, perhaps, help his extended peak and prime as well.
   51. sunnyday2 Posted: June 30, 2005 at 01:49 PM (#1441196)
Note to self: Compare Oms and Poles and decide which is more meritorious.
   52. Gadfly Posted: July 10, 2005 at 08:10 PM (#1462463)

Alejandro Oms was reportedly born on March 13, 1895, in the city of Santa Clara, Las Villas Province, Cuba. Although there is no way to check it, this date of birth was given throughout Oms’ career and there is no real reason to doubt it because 1) it fits his career path quite well and 2) most players in Oms’ situation (late start to their pro baseball career) would shave years off their age, not add years on. Oms, with the odd exception of 1917, really did not start his known professional baseball career until 1921 when he was already 26 years old.

Oms was a left-handed batter and thrower who, in his prime stood 5 foot 9 or 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighed between 170 and 180 pounds. His weight is sometimes given as high as 190 and his height as 5 foot 7 or 5 foot 8, but the photographic evidence does not really support those figures. Oms, who was slightly stocky, does not seem to have changed much, weight-wise, during his career. Besides the aging of his face, pictures of Oms from the early 1920s, late 1920s and mid 1930s show pretty much the exact same player.

This is interesting since Oms stayed a very good player for a very long time. Two of the hallmarks of a baseball player with good career longevity are that these players usually 1) are fast and 2) never let themselves get out of shape. Oms was, by reputation, very fast and also obviously always in shape.

Very little is known of Oms childhood, but an article in the Cuban magazine Carteles states that Oms was well-known in his youth as the best ballplayer in Santa Clara and turned down offers to go play for teams in Havana (i.e. the Cuban Winter League). Evidently Oms was content, early in his career, to stay home and play ball in his hometown. An interesting note in Robert Gonzalez’ book states that Oms played for the Santa Clara team during the winter of 1920/1921 with two of his brothers also on the team and yet another brother as a mascot.

It is extremely likely that a professional baseball career was not enticing and/or lucrative enough to get Alejandro Oms to leave home in his youth. In Santa Clara, Oms had his family, could play baseball as a big fish in a little pond, and was probably steadily employed. In some ways, Oms had a career much like that of Buck Leonard. This is interesting since both men, Oms and Leonard, were known as being gentlemen (Oms, in fact, was nicknamed ‘The Gentlemen’ by the other Cuban players) and both men played well into their forties.

Of course, one difference between Oms and Leonard is that Oms had an early taste of professional ball, playing for a Cuban Stars team that barnstormed the USA in 1917 when Oms was just 22 years old. The apparent reasons behind this are actually quite interesting.

Before the 1916 season, Alex Pompez, a Cuban born in the USA, was recruited by Nat Strong to form a Cuban team that could compete with the two best extent Cuban teams: Agustin Molina’s barnstorming Cuban Star team and the Long Branch Cuban team of New Jersey (Pompez would go on to operate Cuban teams in New York from 1916 to 1952: his Cuban Star team, now sometimes referred to as the Eastern Cuban Stars, from 1916-1929 and the New York Cubans from 1935 to 36, and 1939 to 1952).

Nat Strong was a New York booking agent who pretty much controlled the NY semi-pro baseball scene and had formerly booked Molina’s team. However, Molina, surely fed up with Strong’s infamous cheapness, had affiliated his team with Rube Foster’s booking agency in Chicago. In addition, the Long Branch Cubans, a team made up of white Cubans hoping to break into organized baseball (both Adolfo Luque and Mike Gonzalez came from this team), also did not use Strong as a booking agent.

Strong, who let no threat to his booking agency go unchallenged, flooded the New York semi-pro scene with Cuban teams (Pompez’ Cuban Stars, Almendares Blues, Havana Reds, etc.) in 1916 and 1917. He succeeded in driving the Long Branch Cubans out of business (although the start of World War One also helped) and Molina’s Cuban Stars completely out of NY semi-pro scene (Molina’s team would join Rube Foster’s Negro National League and become known as the Western Cuban Stars).

However, when Pompez started his Cuban Star team, he was at a serious disadvantage. Molina’s Cuban Stars had a lock on the best Cuban baseball talent that played in the Cuban Winter League (Molina worked for Abel Linares, the man who owned the League). Cuban players, who were white enough to hope for a pro baseball career, were being recruited by the Long Branch Cubans. Nat Strong’s other Cuban teams were soaking up all the rest of the baseball talent from in and around Havana.

Thus Pompez had to recruit talent with little experience in the Cuban Winter League. His 1916 team featured Bernardo Baro, Julian Fabelo, Jose Fernandez, Bartolo Portuondo, Ramiro Ramirz, and Julio Rojo. All of these players had very little experience in the Cuban League and all of these players would go on to fine careers. It is very apparent that Pompez was either a great scout himself or had a great scout working for him.

[One of the most interesting things about this team is how many of these players would go on to very long careers as managers and/or coaches for Cuban teams in both the USA and Cuba. Jose Fernandez, Ramiro Ramirez, and Julio Rojo all had extremely long careers as managers and/or coaches. In 1917, Pelayo Chacon, who would manage and coach for years and years in the USA and then Venezuela, joined the team. Although managing and coaching don’t always correlate with baseball intelligence, it is likely that this team was pretty sharp.]

Interestingly, both Julian Fabelo and Julio Rojo were from Las Villas Province in Cuba and apparently played on the same teams as Oms. Although it is unknown how it exactly happened, it is quite likely that one or both of these men probably recommended Oms to Alex Pompez for his 1917 team (One interesting point, which may be irrelevant, was that there was apparently a ‘city-folk’ and ‘country-folk’ animus between the people from Habana and Las Villas Provinces. It is quite possible that these attitudes also contributed to Oms’ late start in the Cuban Winter League).

The 1917 season for Oms is not very well documented. The obvious question would be: ‘How good of a hitter was Oms in 1917?

1917 Season:
Research in the 1917 New York Age uncovered 18 Sunday double-headers played by Pompez’ Cuban Stars’ team from May 13 to September 9 against the Lincoln Giants and top white semi-pro teams (mostly the Nat Strong booked Bushwicks). The Cubans played 10 games against the Lincoln Giants (splitting them 5-5) and eight games versus the white semi-pros (also splitting them 4-4). In the nine extent box scores, which do not have at bats or extra base hits, Alejandro Oms played LF in every game and batted fifth or sixth.

In the extent games, Alejandro Oms did not hit very well, scoring 2 runs on 5 hits. However, there is no way of knowing whether this is a true representation of Om’s talent at that time or simply a sample size problem. Another way of evaluating Oms would be by considering his place in the Pompez’ Cuban Stars’ line-up.

The most frequent line-up for the club would probably be (Cuban League statistics from 1912-13 season through 1921-22 season: BA/SA in ABs):

1) Ramiro Ramirez, CF (216/265 in 102 ABs)
2) Pelayo Chacon, SS (262/322-in 888 ABs)
3) Julian Fabelo, 3B (375/375 in 8 ABs)
4) Agustin Parpetti, 1B (258/306in 248 ABs)
5) Jose Fernandez, C or RF (237/281in 249 ABs)
6) Alejandro Oms, LF
7) Julio Rojo RF or C (176/200 in 85 ABs)
8) E. Rivas 2B (263/316 in 19 ABs)
9) Pitcher

[Notice that, during this time, only Pelayo Chacon was playing regularly in the CWL.]

It is very obvious from this that Oms was not the hitter in 1917 that he would later become. Based on his line-up position, Oms would have perhaps hit somewhere around a .250 BA and a .300 SA if he had played in the Cuban Winter League at this time. On the other hand, the 22-year-old Oms was fresh from a small city in Cuba and probably homesick and totally out of his element. Given enough at bats, his true talent may have shined through.

In any event, Alejandro Oms did not return to Pompez’ Cuban Stars for the 1918 season.

1921 Season:
In 1921, Alejandro Oms returned to play in the United States with Pompez’ Cuban Stars. As the statistics provided by Gary A show, the 26-year-old Oms was now the devastating hitter that he would remain for the next decade, at least. By all accounts, Oms had spent 1917 to 1921 playing in his hometown, Santa Clara. It is probable that his hitting skills had gotten so great that Pompez had finally made him an offer so lucrative to return to the Stars that Oms could not turn it down. In any event, in 1921, Oms was obviously the best hitter on the team.

1921-1922 Winter Season:
Oms evidently returned home once again to play in his hometown, Santa Clara.

1922 Season:
Alejandro Oms returned to play for Pompez’ Cuban Stars. Reportedly, Oms hit 40 home runs against all competition during the 1922 season and started getting some publicity as the ‘Cuban Babe Ruth’ in the Negro Press. Interestingly, the truly great blackball sluggers usually got credited with anywhere from 60 to 90 homers over a full season against all competition from 1920 to 1950. Using that measuring stick, the 40 HR figure that was credited to Oms would probably translate into about 20 to 25 home run power in the Negro or Major Leagues, exactly what his translations seem to show (although the method is admittedly crude).

1922-1923 Winter Season:
For the 1922-23 Cuban Winter League Season, a Santa Clara team was entered in an attempt of broaden the League’s base. Able to play for his hometown team, Oms finally played in the CWL and did not disappoint, hitting a spectacular .436 in 94 at bats. Interestingly, Oms is one of the very few examples of a Cuban player who played for a top Cuban team in the USA before actually playing in the CWL. Despite his late start, Oms would be a regular in the CWL for the next 20 or so years with his last season as a regular coming in the 1940-41 season.

1923 Season:
In the first year of the Eastern Colored League (ECL), Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Star club in the ECL. In the final published statistics, Oms was credited with a .357 batting averge. The research in MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .400 BA in 65 at bats.

1923-1924 Winter Season:
Oms returned to play for Santa Clara in the Cuban Winter League, hitting for a .381 batting average and slugging .556 in 133 at bats in the regular season and hitting .290 in 76 at bats during the special season.

1924 Season:
Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Stars’team in the Eastern Colored League. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .326 BA in 129 at bats.
   53. Gadfly Posted: July 10, 2005 at 08:12 PM (#1462472)
1924-1925 Winter Season:
During 1924-25, Oms played for Santa Clara once again, but financial troubles caused the team to be moved to Matanzas during the season. Despite the turmoil, Oms won his first Cuban League batting title with an average of .393 in 145 at bats while slugging .559 and leading the League with 13 doubles.

1925 Season:
Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Stars’team in the Eastern Colored League. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with .318 BA in 157 at bats.

1925-1926 Winter Season:
Oms played for the newly formed San Jose team in the Cuban Winter League, hitting .324 in 68 at bats.

1926 Season:
Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Stars’team in the Eastern Colored League. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .342 BA in 73 at bats.

1926-1927 Winter Season:
Oms played briefly for the Cuba team in the Cuban Winter League, hitting .500 in just 18 at bats. Then he jumped the team to play in the rival Triangular League’s Marianao club, hitting .366 in 101 at bats.

1927 Season:
Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Stars’team in the Eastern Colored League. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .348 BA in 132 at bats.

1927-1928 Winter Season:
Oms played for Habana in the Cuban Winter League, hitting .324 in 71 at bats.

1928 Season:
In 1928, Alejandro Oms played for Pompez’ Cuban Stars’team in the Eastern Colored League. During the season, the ECL disintegrated and the Cuban Stars returned to playing independent ball. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .308 BA in 117 at bats.

1928-1929 Winter Season:
Oms played for Habana in the Cuban Winter League, hitting .432 to win the batting title while slugging .619 and also leading the League in at bats (176), hits (76), and doubles (18). Oms’ 1928-29 and 1929-30 seasons would be possibly the greatest two back-to-back seasons in Cuban Winter League history.

1929 Season:
Oms played for Nat Strong’s Cuban Stars team. In 1929, the Eastern Colored League reformed as the American Negro League. Nat Strong, who had crippled the ECL with his refusal to find home parks for either of the teams that he booked (Brooklyn Royal Giants and Pompez’ Cuban Stars), was forced out. Pompez, breaking with Strong, joined the ANL. Strong immediately organized his own Cuban Stars’ team to compete with Pompez’ team for bookings in the NY area. This team was pretty much ignored by the Negro Press and is very poorly documented as it spent most of the season barnstorming the Northeast, but Oms was the star and main attraction for the team.

1929-1930 Winter Season:
Oms played once again for his hometown Santa Clara team in the Cuban Winter League, hitting .380 to win another batting title while also slugging .572 and finishing second in HRs to Mule Suttles.

1930 Season:
In 1930, Oms played for a team called, alternatively, Pelayo Chacon’s Cuban Stars or Stars of Cuba. In reality, this team was the same team as the previous year’s Nat Strong’s Cuban Stars. With the collapse of the ECL after the 1929 season and the temporary retirement of Alejandro Pompez from baseball, Strong was once again able to book his Cuban Stars’ team against the major black teams. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .320 BA in only 75 known at bats.

1930-1931 Winter Season:
Oms played for Santa Clara in the Cuban Winter League, playing just 2 games and hitting .286 in 7 at bats before the League fell apart with the death of Abel Linares. The league reformed and Oms joined the Habana team in the new League. Oms did not hit very well for Habana, batting just .182 (10 hits in 52 ABs) before the reformed League also collapsed. This was the first season with any indication of poor hitting by Oms since 1917.

1931 Season:
Oms played for Nat Strong’s Cuban Stars team. MacMillan 10 credits Oms with a .061 BA in 33 at bats. One of the very interesting things about Oms’ career is possible slump in the Winter Season of 1930-31 and the following Summer Season of 1931. In 92 known at bats during this time, Oms got just 14 hits for a .152 BA. This is so far off Oms’ usual performance that an injury seems possible. Or, of course, it is simply a sample size fluke.

1931-1932 Winter Season:
Oms played for the Habana in the reorganized Cuban Winter League. Oms once again hit extremely well, batting .389, slugging .593, and leading the League in runs (28), hits (44), home runs (3), and even stolen bases (14). What ever was wrong with Oms in 1931, if anything, seems to have gone away.

1932 Season:
Oms played for Nat Strong’s Cuban Stars team. MacMillan 10 does not list any statistics for Oms, but a simple check of the Negro Press shows Oms playing CF and batting third for the Cuban Stars and apparently hitting very well against top black and white semi-pro teams in New York.

1932-1933 Winter Season:
The 1932-33 Cuban Winter League lasted only 22 games as the political unrest following the collapse of the Machado government ended the season early in January. Alejandro Oms returned to play for the Habana team once again, hitting .368 in just 57 at bats before the season was called off.

1933 Season:
Oms played for Nat Strong’s Cuban Stars team. Once again, MacMillan 10 does not list any statistics for Oms. However, another simple check of the Negro Press shows Oms playing CF and batting third for the Cuban Stars and apparently hitting very well against top black and white semi-pro teams in New York.
   54. Gadfly Posted: July 10, 2005 at 08:14 PM (#1462478)
1933-1934 Winter Season:
Because of the continuing political unrest in Cuba that cut short the previous season, the Cuban Winter League never reformed for the 1933-34 season. However, the teams continued to play outside of the League structure. It is known that Alejandro Oms played for Almendares this season. In January of 1934, the Concordia Eagles, lead by Martin Dihigo (and also including Tetelo Vargas, Josh Gibson, Rap Dixon, and the original Luis Aparicio) played Almendares in Habana. Oms, batting third and playing center field, hit .538 for the Series against Concordia pitching (Dihigo, Silvino Ruiz, and Pedro Alejandro San). However, he was only the second best hitter in the Series as Gibson went nuts, smashing away at .643 with exceptional power.

1934 Season:
Oms played for the Santa Marta Tigers in Venezuela. In the National Championship Series, Oms hit .393 and finished second in the batting race behind the .396 mark of Luis Aparicio, Sr. [Aparicio Senior was, of course, the father of Major League Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. He was considered, with Vidal Lopez, Venezuela’s best player in the 1930s and reportedly turned down a contract with the Washington Senators in 1939.]
The National Series was played in San Agustin Stadium in Caracas Venezuela. Although the teams played games during the week, only the games played on Sunday counted in the standings (usually no more than 25 games a season). Oms would, if the statistics for the summer Venezuelan National Series (which lasted from 1930 to 1941) could be completely reconstructed, almost surely be the man with the highest lifetime batting average.

In any event, the 1934 National Series was won by the Concordia Eagles, the best team in Venezuela from 1932 to 1934, managed by the incomparable Martin Dihigo and financially backed by Gonzalo Gomez, the baseball mad son of Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gomez. Concordia’s best players were Dihigo (of course), Aparicio, another good Cuban pitcher named Silvino Ruiz, and the great Dominican, Juan Esteban “Tetelo’ Vargas [during the 1934 season, Dihigo went undefeated, 11-0, for Concordia].

1934-1935 Winter Season:
After the 1934 season, the Concordia Eagles (as they had in 1933-34) barnstormed through the Caribbean, stopping in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Basically, this Concordia team was an All-Star team of players from the 1934 Venezuelan National Series and included Dihigo, Aparicio, Silvino Ruiz, and Vargas from Concordia; the Cuban stars Alejandro Oms, Manuel ‘Cocaina’ Garcia, and Pedro Pablo Arango; the Puerto Rican star Emilio Navarro; Dominican star Pedro Baez; and Alex Carrasquel, who would later be the first Venezuelan to reach the Major Leagues. Oms played center field and batted fourth for the team. In the Puerto Rican portion of the Tour, Oms reportedly hit .407, leading the team (Vargas was second at .389).

1935 Season:
In January of 1935, Nat Strong died. Alejandro Pompez, out of baseball since 1929, immediately began planning a new Cuban team. Flush with money, Pompez recruited the best Latin talent he could find for his new team, the New York Cubans. Oms (along with Martin Dihigo and a lot of other Concordia players) returned to the USA to play for Pompez. Published statistics credit Oms with a .381 batting average for the season. However, MacMillan 10 credits Oms with just a .203 BA for 1935 (25 hits in 123 at bats).

1935-1936 Winter Season:
The now 40-year-old Oms returned to the once again reorganized Cuban League to once again play for his hometown team, Santa Clara. He proved that he could still hit, batting .311 and slugging .433.

1936 Season:
Oms played once again for the Santa Marta Tigers in Venezuela. In the National Championship Series, Oms hit .433 to win the batting championship. In the twelve-year summer history of the National Series (from 1930 to 1941), this was the highest recorded Batting Average. However, Santa Marta was a poor team, finishing fourth (out of five teams) in the 1936 Series. The Senadores team, lead by two great Cuban pitchers (Ramon Bragana and Cocaina Garcia), won the Venezuelan National Series fairly easily.

1936-1937 Winter Season:
Alejandro Oms remained in Venezuela following the 1936 season and signed to play with the Maracaibo Centaurs. Baseball in Venezuela was basically centered in two places, Caracas (the capitol of the country) and Maracaibo (the center of the oil industry). Each center had there own summer series during the 1930s (Caracas had the National Series and Maracaibo had the Zulia State Series). However, the best teams from Maracaibo also would sometimes enter and compete in the National Series in Caracas.

[In fact, the Summer Series in Venezuela would pretty much be destroyed by the financial competition set off by the 1940 Maracaibo Centaurs’ unrestrained spending to win the National Series. The Centaurs spent a bundle to build a super team featuring Negro Leaguer stars Josh Gibson, Bill Byrd, and Roy Partlow; Cuban star Oscar Estrada; Puerto Rican star Pedro Cepeda; and Venezualan star Luis Aparicio. The Centaurs, although leading the Series easily, were forced to disband halfway through the season when they couldn’t make their payroll.]

1937 Season:
In early 1937, the best Latin talent was being recruited to play for the Trujillo Cup in Santa Domingo of the Dominican Republic. Reportedly, Oms hit just .232 (23 hits in 99 at bats) in the Tournament. After the finish of the 1937 Dominican Tournament, many of the players, both Latin and Black American migrated down to Venezuela. Oms returned to play for the Maracaibo Centaurs. In the National Championship Series, Oms hit .367 and finished second in the batting race. Like Oms, the Centaurs also finished second behind Vargas (Vargas was lead by Negro League pitcher Bertram Hunter who finished with a 12-2 record). Interestingly, Oms’ team had a two man pitching staff. One was long-time Negro, Cuban, and even Major League veteran Oscar Estrada. The other pitcher was the one time Philadelphia Athletics’ ace, George Earnshaw.

1937-1938 Winter Season:
Oms returned once again to his hometown, playing his last season for Santa Clara in the Cuban Winter League. He hit .315 and slugged .402 in his last good Cuban Winter League season. Although those averages do not sound that good, the Cuban League in the 1930s was playing in an extreme pitching friendly environment.

1938 Season:
Oms played for the Maracaibo Centaurs in Venezuela. The team did not enter the National Championship Series that was based in Caracas, but instead played in the rival Zulia State Championships Series that was based in Maracaibo. No statistics for Oms are available.

1938-1939 Winter Season:
Alejandro Oms played for the Guayama Warlocks in the first season of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Although Oms’ statistics are unknown, Guayama (lead by Pedro Cepeda) won the initial PRWL championship.

1939 Season:
Alejandro Oms played for the Vargas team in Caracas, Venezuela. Only playing five games, Oms had 9 hits and 5 runs in 19 ABs for a .474 batting average in the National Championship Series. His fellow Cuban and Vargas teammate, Carlos Blanco, won the batting championship with a mark of .348 in 24 games.

1939-1940 Winter Season:
In the Winter of 1939-40, Oms returned to Cuba to play for Almendares. Oms batted .228 and slugged just .248 in 101 ABs as age finally caught up with him. Interestingly, he still had enough speed to steal five bases.

1940-1941 Winter Season:
The now 45-years-old Alejandro Oms played his last season in the Cuban Winter League for Almendares and Habana. Oms improved a little on his previous years’ performance, hitting .235 and slugging 283 in 166 ABs with, once again, five stolen bases to prove his speed was not totally gone.

1942-1943 Winter Season:
Oms played for the Magallanes Navigators in the Venezuelan National Championship Series. No statistics are available, but presumably Oms batted under .300 (League leaders above .300 are listed). Oms’ appearance in the 1942-43 Venezuelan Winter League seems to indicate that he was living in Venezuela. The summer leagues in Venezuela had collapsed after the 1941 season due to World War 2 and the long history of overspending on foreign players. The National Series was reformed in 1942 as a Winter League and only native players were allowed.

1943-1944 Winter Season:
Oms played for the Magallanes Navigators in the Venezuelan National Championship Series. In his final known professional season, Oms hit .306 to finish among the league leaders in BA.

1945-1946 Winter Season:
Dolf Luque, the manager of Cienfuegos, brought Alejandro Oms back for one last at bat in the Cuban Winter League at the end of the season. Oms struck out.

The Death of Alejandro Oms:
Alejandro Oms died in Habana, Cuba, on November 5, 1946 (some sources say the 6th or 9th but these dates are simply the dates his death was reported). Reportedly, Oms had just returned to Cuba from Venezuela at the time of his death; and, by all accounts, he was still playing baseball professionally, probably for an industrial or semi-pro team. Oms’ death completed the odd curse of the 1920s Cuban Outfielders. During the 1920 decade, there were five great Cuban Outfielders [Pablo Mesa (d. 1927), Esteban Montalvo (d. 1930), Bernardo Baro (d. 1930), Cristobal Torriente (d. 1938), and Alejandro Oms (d. 1946)]. All had short lives and virtually all were reported as dying from TB. Makes one wonder what was in the dirt in the outfields of Cuba.
   55. Gadfly Posted: July 10, 2005 at 08:50 PM (#1462543)
Chris Cobb-

I look forward to your analysis of Oms' record. I posted my bio stuff for you but have also been working on my own statistical analysis which may take forever.

A couple of points to remember:

1) Oms' 1920 statistics, particularily the ECL stats, are all being accomplished by what is essentially a road team. In other words, his Cuban team was virtually always the visiting team.

Although being the road team is a slight disadvantage in the Majors (historically, Major League teams have something like a 55-45 home-road split), it was an absolutely huge disadvantage in the Negro Leagues (most probably because the home team supplied the umpire).

This really shows up when you compare Oms' Negro League record to his Cuban League stats and do the same thing for some of his Negro League contemporaries.

In other words, I think Oms was a much better hitter than his Negro League stats indicate.

2) Another odd example of Oms and the hometown hitter strangeness is that Oms hit way better in Cuba while playing in his hometown, Santa Clara than anywhere else.

3) I don't know what to make of Oms' strange batting dip in 1931 (injury?) or the MacMillan 10 statisitcs for Oms in 1935 (.203 BA). Some basic research in 1935 showed Oms hitting better than he's being credited in Mac 10 but not as good as his published BA of .381 or Holway's .396.

One of the problems of researching Negro League statistics is that games against the best teams are usually much better publicized than games between the worst teams. In other words, many times you find hitters hitting much better than just looking at easily accessible games would have you believe.

But I do not know if this effect is at work here. It will be really interesting to see what the Negro League statistical project uncovers on Oms.

4) Oms' statistics in Venezuela are phenomenal, but I think have to be discounted for a simple reason. The Venenzuelan National Series was played at a pace well suited for an older player, i.e. games on weekends with some games during the week.

Buck Leonard had some really interesting stuff to say about aging and it applies to Oms. In essence, Leonard said that an older player could play up to his previous level but could not recover in time to play well the next day if he played constantly. If playing constantly, the older player would wear down and play poorly.

My own analysis of Oms career would go something like this: Oms was probably Major League caliber in 1918 or 1919 and advanced quickly to star caliber in 1920. Oms was a superstar caliber player from 1921 to 1930 and still a star player, with dimishing playing time up until 1935 or 1936. Oms would have almost surely still hit well in limited playing time until 1938 or possibly even 1939.

I think a typical Oms season in the 1920s would have looked like Zack Wheat's best season:

1924 566 212 41-8-14 .375 .549, 35 Win Shares

But I think Oms had more power (and noting that the 35 WS is oddly high for Wheat. Wheat had some comparable seasons to 1924 that come in at just 27 or 28 WS).

I think Oms would have gone well over 300 Win Shares for his career and should be on my list for the Hall of Merit.
   56. Chris Cobb Posted: July 11, 2005 at 02:52 AM (#1462904)

Many thanks for this thorough review of Oms' career!! The politics of Cuban baseball in the New York area are fascinating.

It's clear he was an outstanding ballplayer: he's clearly the #3 Cuban position player we've seen, after Torriente and Dihigo.

I was hoping that there'd be a way to use Oms' Venezuelan stats in his conversions, but it looks like there isn't. It's very good to have it confirmed, however, that he was playing baseball professionally in all of the seasons from 1921-1940 in which he is not documented in the NeL or in Cuban play.

As usual, my conversions are a bit lower than yours look to be, though the point about constant "road team" status suppressing Oms' performance in the NeL means that he's surely a bit better than he appears in the raw numbers.

My sense is that his best seasons are about like Wheat's top seasons, and I expect that he'll be over 300 win shares. How far above 300 depends on how much credit he gets pre-1921.

I should have an initial set of MLEs ready to post by tomorrow night. They'll at least provide a starting point for more discussion.

One more question: do you know any more details about his fielding? All Riley says is that "he had exceptional range and an accurate but not strong arm." Gary A.'s 1928 data confirms his range and his clean fielding. Is there anything more to be known here?
   57. Gary A Posted: July 11, 2005 at 03:54 AM (#1462975)
Oms’ death completed the odd curse of the 1920s Cuban Outfielders. During the 1920 decade, there were five great Cuban Outfielders [Pablo Mesa (d. 1927), Esteban Montalvo (d. 1930), Bernardo Baro (d. 1930), Cristobal Torriente (d. 1938), and Alejandro Oms (d. 1946)]. All had short lives and virtually all were reported as dying from TB. Makes one wonder what was in the dirt in the outfields of Cuba.

And Valentin Dreke, too--he died in 1929 at the age of 31.
   58. Gadfly Posted: July 11, 2005 at 03:33 PM (#1463623)
56. Chris Cobb-

The Venezuela batting stats that I have usually just list batters above .300 plus Home Run Leaders (this, because of how few HRs were hit, often includes EVERY HR hit) plus some miscellaneous stuff. On the other hand, the pitching statistics are much better, sometimes even including every pitcher.

Oms' Venezuelan batting stats, while not really helpful in developing conversions, are useful in showing that he was still a very good hitter late into his career.

57. Gary A-
Damn, I knew I missed one. I was writing that off the top of my head, but I should have remembered Dreke. I knew all their early deaths were just a coincidence, but it's still pretty strange.
   59. Gadfly Posted: July 11, 2005 at 03:47 PM (#1463658)
59. Chris Cobb-

As for Oms' fielding, every source I've ever seen pretty much says the same thing: sure-handed, good speed and range, and a weak arm. The one odd thing about Oms fielding is that Oms, who was usually not flamboyant at all, evidently would show off with behind-the-back catches on fly balls if the game was not close. He must have practiced it since I've never come across a reference that said he tried it and missed.
   60. Chris Cobb Posted: July 11, 2005 at 04:33 PM (#1463774)
Gadfly, thanks for confirming that his reputation is pretty consistent.

Last night, I did some comparisons of his 1928 fielding stats to major-league fielding center-field stats for that year, and his range and hands look well above average and his arm looks around average, maybe a bit below. Top rate that year for a centerfielder is about 5.5 ws/1000 innings, so I'm going to project Oms at 3.6 ws/1000 innings for that year -- that's an A rating. That was his age 33 season, so his fielding value will curve downward from there to the end of his career, curve up a little bit back to a peak around age 27-28, then down a little at the beginning of his career to reflect less polish in his skills.

His overall rating will probably be around A-/B+, 3.2-3.4 ws/1000.

A study of win shares indicates that a "weak arm" for a centerfielder is not a huge set-back for fielding value: range is a good deal more important. There are several centerfielders with reputations as weak throwers who end up with A- ratings in ws, corroborated as above-average centerfielders by WARP.
   61. Gary A Posted: July 11, 2005 at 05:38 PM (#1463896)
Hey Gadfly, great stuff on Oms. Is there a published source for the material on the Venezuelan leagues, or is that unpublished research?
   62. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:07 AM (#1465157)
Alenjandro Oms MLEs

Here are MLEs, presented in the usual format. These MLEs are different from any I have calculated previously because they use Cuban Winter League data together with Negro League data. The details for the CWL conversions are described below the data. If there are ways that my handling of the CWL conversions could be improved, I will do new MLEs accordingly.

For the 1920s, even-numbered years are converted to the corresponding NL season; odd-numbered years to the corresponding AL season. From 1930 onward, all conversions are to NL seasons.

Oms’ MLEs start in 1921 because that’s where the data starts. It is highly probable that he was an above average MLE player for a year or two before that. I intend to give him some credit for those seasons, but I have not attempted to project what those seasons would look like here.

Oms’ MLEs end in 1937 because a) that’s the last season for which the data suggests that he would have been major-league quality player and b) he was 42 years old that year. It’s possible that he could have continued as a pinch-hitter/occasional outfielder for a year or two more, but it wouldn’t add much to his value in any case.

I projected his playing time on the model of major-league outfielders who continued playing to and past the age of 40, primarily Doc Cramer and Enos Slaughter. I have accepted Gadfly’s suggestion that Oms was injured in 1930, because he posted numbers far below his career norms in both the NeL and the CWL that year.

Year Team      EqG   PA  BB  Hits  TB  BA   OBP  SA
1921 CSE       148  622  55  211  300 .373 .428 .529
1922 CSE/SC    154  647  52  229  319 .385 .434 .537
1923 CSE/SC*   151  634  62  202  279 .352 .416 .487
1924 CSE/SC    146  613  48  191  274 .338 .390 .486
1925 CSE/SJ    152  638  66  194  294 .339 .407 .513
1926 CSE/C/Mar 142  596  54  185  236 .341 .400 .435
1927 CSE/Hab   150  630  66  184  267 .325 .396 .473
1928 CSE/Hab   154  647  64  198  277 .339 .404 .475
1929 SC        150  630  66  193  290 .342 .411 .514
1930 CSE/SC/Hab 97  407  38  102  140 .276 .344 .379
1931 CSE/Hab   141  592  54  162  242 .301 .365 .450
1932 Hab       134  563  46  160  209 .309 .366 .404
1933 Vzl**     106  424  32  123  170 .315 .366 .435
1934 Vzl       112  448  34  133  177 .323 .375 .428
1935 NYC/SC    128  512  37  151  204 .319 .369 .430
1936 Vzl        71  284  21   82  110 .313 .365 .418
1937 SC         42  168  12   46   59 .298 .348 .381
              2178 9056 808 2747 3847 .333 .393 .466

Team column lists both U.S. and Cuban Teams
CSE = Cuban Stars East
SC = Santa Clara
SJ = San Jose
C = Cuba??
Mar = Marianao
Hab = Habana
NYC = New York Cubans
Vzl = Venezuela

*Special Season data not included
** There is no way to use the scanty available data from the Venezuelan league in the MLEs, so the totals for these seasons are averages of the surrounding seasons. Vzl is marked to confirm that Oms was playing professionally in those years.

Notes on Conversion Factors

1) Cuban Play. Oms’ MLEs are the first that I have done that use data from the Cuban Winter League. I decided to do this since Oms’ Cuban records are more complete, and probably more reliable, than his NeL records.

a) Conversion factor. The level of play in the CWL is generally regarded having been as higher than the NeL’s. No comprehensive conversion rate study has been done, but Brent’s study of M? Gonzalez suggests a .95/.91 ba/sa rate. To be a little conservative (since there are instances for single players of an NeL conversion rate of .95/.91), I dropped it to .94/.884, following the usual ratio of the BA rate as the square root of the SA rate. For Oms, this resulted in Cuban MLEs (.341/.465) that were quite similar to his Negro-League MLEs (.320/.470), so I think that, whether or not either conversion ratio is accurate in relation to major-league baseball, they are about right in relation to each other.

b) Offense levels. I used the CWL offense levels calculated by Gary A. to adjust for league offense levels in the CWL. That data indicates, surprisingly, that the CWL batting average was often higher than major-league ba in the 1920s, though slugging was lower, as we would expect from the league’s reputation. For seasons in which no league averages were available, I used the average offensive level conversion factors. If there was a significant change in the relationship of offensive levels between the CWL and the majors in the 1930s, that could throw off the conversions somewhat.

c) Park Factors. My understanding is that CWL games each season were all played in one ballpark, so I assumed that a park factor of 1.00 was right.

2) Combining Cuban play with NeL play. I treated each CWL season as part of the NeL season that had preceded it, so CWL 1922/23 was added to NeL 1922, not NeL 1923. My practice was to convert CWL and NeL seasons to MLE hits, total bases, ba, and sa separately, then add them together, then regress the combined totals.

3) NeL Park factors. In 1921, almost all of Oms’ recorded at bats were in the Catholic Protectory Oval, a very high-offense environment. In keeping with the runs-scored data that Gary A. compiled for those games and the park factor I used for the Oval when it was the NY Lincoln Giants’ home park in the late 1920s, I set the park factor for Oms for this season to 1.10. For the rest of Oms’ seasons with the Cuban Stars, I adjusted for “road team status” by assigning a park factor of .99. For Oms’ 1935 season with the NY Cubans, I assigned a park factor of 1.00.

4) Walks. The bb data for Oms is very slender: 11 walks in 114 ab in 1928, and (if I have derived the numbers correctly) 2 walks in 44 ab in 1921. Projecting a career’s worth of walks from 171 PA in two seasons is a dicey proposition, but I have done what I could. I combined Oms’ actual rate for 1928 (25% better than league avg.) with the lower rate projected from his 1921 walk rate, using Tangotiger’s aging patterns, and weighting the result by plate appearances. I then put this rate into Tango’s formulas to work out seasonal walk rates, then adjusted them according to the conditions in whatever ML season Oms was being projected into for a given year. His plate discipline by this method appears above average, but not highly exceptional. This is consistent with what I know of his reputation, which does not speak of him as either a free-swinger nor as a highly disciplined hitter.
   63. sunnyday2 Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:55 AM (#1465269)
I have championed Oms from the time he became eligible, though I don't remember when that was. But not having any data sources myself, he languished for awhile. I am thrilled that we are getting a handle on another "mystery man."


Up in #30 we see NeL BAs of .306 (McM) and .330 (Holway), and there is also that .345 in Cuba. In #45 we saw that I9s, which we once upon time regarded as notoriously overrating most NeLers, has him at .314.

His .333/.393/.466 compares to some guys:

Anson .331/.396/.448
Carew .328/.393/.429
J DiMaggio .325/.398/.579
Duffy .326/.386/.451
Gwynn .338/.388/.459
Lajoie .338/.380/.466
Medwick .324/.362/.505
A Simmons .334/.380/.535
Terry .341/.393/.506
S Thompson .331/.384/.505
Waner .333/.404/.473
H Wagner .328/.391/.467

All of this is a little misleading because many of these guys SA more than Oms projection, and so their OPS is better. Still, at 859 Oms is just off the top 100 ML OPS+ of all-time, and is just a few points below Joe Medwick whose OPS+ in 133.

And Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Tony Gwynn and Paul Waner are even better comps, at least superficially. Of course they all had at lest 11,100 PAs (Lajoie) or 22+% more than Oms, so again this might be misleading.

Yet Oms projects very big indeed. I have him #3 in RF after Cravath and Klein. But my question is this. Is this MLE too high? I mean, if this is right, he should go from outside my top 100 to inside my top 15 in two weeks time. Last week I asked if we thought he was better than Spot Poles. Now we're asking if he's Tony Gwynn or Paul Waner. And I'm not confident that that is right.
   64. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:37 AM (#1465371)

It's worth noting that Riley's bio concludes with this note: "His skills and playing style were considered to be similar to those of Paul Waner." So it's not like Paul Waner showing up as a comp is unprecedented.

That said, I think OPS+ will show Oms to be, offensively, not quite Waner's equal. He played throughout the high-offense 1920s, so his .333/.393/.466 line comps more directly to, say, Kiki Cuyler's .321/.386/.474. This is a closer match for Oms' career rates. Oms, however, has about 300 games of playing time on Cuyler in the projections, and could reasonably be credited for 1-2 seasons beyond that for unrecorded play between 1917 and 1921. We'll see what OPS+ and win shares show.

The discrepancy between this projection and the i9s projection, which has usually been higher than mine, calls for some explanation, but I think it is explained primarily by the superiority of our data to that used by i9s. It's pretty clear, as I argued in post 44 above, that they are projecting off of Macmillan 10th. Macmillan 10th shows Oms hitting .061 in 1931 and then not having any recorded play nothing until a .203 season in 1935. This data justifies the i9s projection of him as having ended his career in 1931, and not being all that special as a hitter overall.

This means they don't have
1) good data for 1921, which we have from Gary A.
2) good data for 1925, which we have from Holway
3) good data for 1935, which we have from Holway and which is given some corroboration by gadfly's quick check of boxscores
4) Cuban data of any sort, which appears to reinforce at every turn the view of Oms as a great player suggested by NeL projections that include the 1921, 25, and 35 data from Gary A. and Holway. And if one wonders about whether that is an effect of the CWL conversion factor being too high, I note that Gary A. has shown in post 31 above that during the 1920s Oms outhit every NeL star with significant playing time in Cuba except Jud Wilson, including Oscar Charleson and Cristobal Torriente. The Cuban data also shows clearly that Oms recovered from his off year in 1930 to continue playing at a high level, in Cuba, through 1937, with seasons at pretty much the level of his prime in 1931 and 1932.
   65. Brent Posted: July 12, 2005 at 03:16 AM (#1465467)

Good work. However, I'll caution you about the 1931-32 and 32-33 Cuban League seasons - the league was facing hard times and no North American players participated during either of those seasons. I'd suggest that the conversion factor needs to be lowered for those two seasons (I'd suggest maybe 5 percent). Cuba started inviting the North Americans again during 1935-36.
   66. KJOK Posted: July 12, 2005 at 04:38 AM (#1465617)
1931 2-33, .061

I think this 1931 number may just be a typo. I've found 3 games vs. Baltimore for Oms in 1931, and he had at least 3 hits, including a triple and a HR. He also batted cleanup.
   67. KJOK Posted: July 12, 2005 at 04:43 AM (#1465621)
Ahg, never mind. The games I found were 1930, not 1931...
   68. karlmagnus Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:05 PM (#1465919)
I wait agog for his MLEs (but could care less about the WS. He looks a somewhat inferior Beckley to me, slightly shorter career (what we have here looks about right; nome NEL projected careers like Bell's are far too long to me realistic in an ML context) and of course playing a less difficult fielding position.

As a Beckley fan, I expect to put Oms on my ballot towards the bottom. I would however suggest to the Oms fans that will no doubt spring up like bindweed that it is intellectually inconsistent not to have Beckley above him.
   69. karlmagnus Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:07 PM (#1465920)
..some projected careers like Bell's are far too long to be realistic... for those who can't read Linear B. I HATE not having spellcheck on the post window.
   70. karlmagnus Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:10 PM (#1465924)
That's his MLE OPS+ I wait for, in case it's not obvious. Too early in the morning, or something...
   71. Gadfly Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:17 PM (#1465927)
61. Gary A-

The statistics are from three Venezuelan books that I own. Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I made several trips to Venezuela and picked up them up. Interestingly, there was a Venezuelan baseball encyclopedia published in the late 1990s with apparently complete Venezuelan Winter League stats from 1945-1946 to the 1990s.

I've never seen a copy of it though. Someday, when Hugo Chavez and all the problems calm down, hopefully I'll get to go back and look for it.

62. Chris Cobb-

Thanks for the MLEs. Very interesting with only one nitpick: if Oms did have an off season, it should be 1931, not 1930. But for the overall analysis, it makes no difference.

Like you, I was also fooling around with Cuban to Negro League conversions. One interesting facet of such conversions is the point I already made: Oms hit much better in Cuba than he did in the States.

For instance, when comparing their performance from 1923 to 1927 in the Eastern Colored League and from the 1923-24 to 1927-28 season in the Cuban Winter League (AB-BA-SA):

Oscar Charleston
691 .407 .729 ECL
489 .331 .528 CWL -.076 -.201

John Lloyd
711 .373 .494 ECL
627 .337 .456 CWL -.036 -.038

Alejandro Oms
556 .340 .536 ECL
435 .377 .547 CWL +.037 +.011

Of course, I am not sure what exactly is causing this effect on Oms.

Charleston, of course, is being severly penalized by the CWL's extremely unfriendliness to power hitting (Mule Suttles' CWL stats show exactly what the League could do to a pure fly ball hitter). Charleston was obviously, because of his power, a much greater hitter than Oms in a neutral or power-friendly enviroment.

Lloyd's statistics, it must be said, are somewhat hurt by an atypically bad year in Cuba (1923-24), but he still hit better in the States. However, Lloyd was a prototypical line drive hitter that the CWL favored.

But Oms, although also a line drive hitter, hit for some power too. He shouldn't have hit worse in the States. His power should have actually made him more valuable. But this isn't the case.

Although I am not completely sure, I think this is proof of the (quite large) detrimental effects of the Cuban Stars always or almost always being the visiting team in the United States.

But who really knows?
   72. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:52 PM (#1465959)
I'm going on a 10-day vacation starting tomorrow, so I'm scrambling to figure Oms out before I leave so I can post a provisional ballot. To that end I really quickly threw together some MLE OPS+ numbers. Brent, David, or Chris, please feel free to offer corrections if I've made any errors.
                                      VS   VS
        MLE MLE  MLE        LG   LG   LG   LG MLE
1921 al 622 428  529  957  352  408 1.22 1.30 151
1922 nl 647 434  537  971  345  404 1.26 1.33 159
1923 al 634 416  487  903  346  388 1.20 1.26 146 
1924 nl 613 390  486  876  333  392 1.17 1.24 141
1925 al 638 407  513  920  356  407 1.14 1.26 140
1926 nl 596 400  435  835  335  386 1.19 1.13 132
1927 al 630 396  473  869  348  399 1.14 1.19 132
1928 nl 647 404  475  879  341  397 1.18 1.20 138
1929 al 630 411  514  925  347  407 1.18 1.26 145
1930 nl 407 344  379  723  358  448 0.96 0.85  81
1931 nl 592 365  450  815  331  387 1.10 1.16 127
1932 nl 563 366  404  770  325  396 1.13 1.02 115
1933 nl 424 366  435  801  314  362 1.17 1.20 137
1934 nl 448 375  428  803  330  394 1.14 1.09 122
1935 nl 512 369  430  799  328  391 1.13 1.10 122
1936 nl 284 365  418  783  332  386 1.10 1.08 118
1937 nl 168 348  381  729  329  382 1.06 1.00 106
TOTALS 9055 393  466  859                     133
   73. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 01:58 PM (#1465963)
Thanks for the MLEs. Very interesting with only one nitpick: if Oms did have an off season, it should be 1931, not 1930. But for the overall analysis, it makes no difference.

I agreee that it makes no difference, but it's probably worth explaining why this happened, as it may shed light on some of the issues that arise from combining NeL and CWL seasons.

The injury being placed in 1930 rather than 1931 is partly an effect of the interaction of the NeL and CWL data sets, partly an effect of my decision to count CWL seasons as part of the preceding summer season, and partly my response to the interaction of the data sets.

Oms had a good but not great summer in 1930, which was moderately well-documented: 24-75, .320/.507 .

Then he had a bad winter in 1930/31, which was moderately well-documented: 12-62, .194/.194 (it's possible that some xbh are missing from the record: it's the .194 slg that really kills 1930 for Oms).

The good and the bad seasons get added together in the conversion system. Since the # of at bats the two are about the same, 75/62, the Oms MLE 1930 pretty much splits the difference between good and bad.

Oms had his bad but lightly documented summer in 1931: 2-33, .061/.152.

Then he had a great, very well-documented winter in 1931/32: 44-113, .389/.593.

The great and the bad for 1931 are again added together, and this time, the great pulls up the bad quite significantly because Oms had 113 recorded at bats in Cuba but only 32 in the U.S.

Since the system has the effect of Oms' injury show up in 1930 rather than 1931, I figured that I should treat the playing time as lost in 1930.

Rigorous historical accuracy in the projections might lead to the argument that Oms was probably injured in the winter of 1930, so that shouldn't affect his 1930 MLE totals, and the injury continued into summer 1931, so his totals there ought to be affected, but once I recognized this, I had already combined all the seasons one way, so it didn't seem worth it to combine it the other way just to group the bad with the bad in 1930-31.

Another way to look at it, of course, is to notice the hazards and rigors of year-round baseball. If Oms had been playing only one season, he might not have gotten hurt. Even if he had, he would have been able to recuperate during the off-season instead of continuing to play.

Because with Oms I am converting year-round stats into seasonal stats, oddities of some sort or another seem bound to crop up.
   74. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:04 PM (#1465969)
133 OPS+

Well! If the good doctor has the right seasonal data, Oms does look quite Waner-like here, better than I had expected. David, do Dr. Chaleeko's match yours?
   75. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:17 PM (#1465980)
OK, one more post about Oms and then back to work:

1) Oms' improvement when playing in the big Cuban park reminds me of Turkey Stearnes, who got better as a hitter when he moved to the hitting-unfriendly Schorling Park in Chicago. It makes me think that Oms, like Stearnes, was a versatile hitter who was able to change his approach to take advantage of his circumstances. Just a thought.

2) I'd appreciate comments on two issues about the MLEs that have been raised so far.

a) Brent's suggestion that the early 1930s CWL seasons be converted at a lower rate (probably around the NeL standard of .90/.82) because the NeL stars were not part of the league in these years. Does such a change seem appropriate? In my NeL projections, I have not been changing the conversion factor for suspected changes in competition level within the NeL, but I have used changing conversion factors for MeL seasons, depending on the number of NeL stars there.

b) gadfly's note about the way I've handled Oms' 1930-31 (probable) injury. He doesn't suggest that a change is needed, but I wonder if you think there would be a more accurate way to model the effects of the apparent injury.
   76. karlmagnus Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:22 PM (#1465989)
Chris, .95 as a conversion factor for Cuba looks awfully high; you're essentially saying that the Cuban league was 5% better than the NEL. I find that hard to believe -- I know you have comps across the two but the few data points surely make the standard error far higher than the difference. If you use .9, like the NEL, for Cuba, what does that do for Oms? (It may be a little low some years, but is probably a bit high in others such as 1931-32 when there were no NEL players.)
   77. sunnyday2 Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:29 PM (#1465998)
Oms 133 9056 PAs
Medwick 133 ~8100 PAs
Waner 133 10,550 PAs

Oms 159-51-46-45-41-40-38-37-27-22-22 (11x >120)
Medwick 179-57-49-40-38-33-29-28-22 (9x)
Waner 156-54-52-52-44-44-36-33-32-31-28-28-20 (13x)

If Waner earned 423 WS and Medwick 312, I suppose Oms would be about half-way between (367.5), give or take. Among CF, his most comparable (just on WS) would be Joe DiMaggio and Duke Snider (Oms is between). Among RF, he is between Heilmann and Staub (below) and Clemente.

Oms .333/.393/.466 in 9000 PA

J DiMaggio .325/.398/.579 in 8000 PA
Snider .29/..380/.540 in about 8150
Heilmann .342/.410/.520 in 88700
Clemente .317/.359/.475 in 10,100
Staub .279/.362/.431 in 11,000
   78. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 12, 2005 at 02:57 PM (#1466052)

I think you're in the right territory there.

I've just completed two different WS estimates, one using sfWS and one using a quick-'n-dirty version of Chris's more rigorous OPS+-comps version. (In each instance, I tried to follow Chris's fielding model to get FWS, giving Oms about 60 for his career).

SfWS can be puffy, and they suggest that Oms was Waner's equal, actually exceeding him in three-year peak, but equalling him in five year peak, and 10-year prime and 15-year extended prime. Waner came out about 20-30 WS ahead for career. Another strong comp by this method was Al Simmons.

For a more conservative approach, I tried the OPS+ method (which pools together hitters with similar OPS+s and then uses their WS/PA as a tool for estimating the translated player). I must warn that I wouldn't post my Q'nD numbers as-is because I didn't have time to dig deep into seasonal data and instead leaned on previous MLE WS work to guide the WS/PA rates I used for each season of Oms's career. That said, this method suggested that Oms is in the Goslin/Keeler realm among corner outfielders. Among CFs, he would rank above Tommy Leach and very close to Earl Averill (with a slightly lower peak but a slightly better extended prime and career).

So, I think if you put these together, you get someone with Earl Averill's peak and prime and Al Simmons's extended prime and career value. Someone much like Enos Slaughter.

But again, this is preliminary work that I'm doing strictly so that I can place him on my provisional ballot.
   79. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 03:55 PM (#1466198)
Chris, .95 as a conversion factor for Cuba looks awfully high; you're essentially saying that the Cuban league was 5% better than the NEL. I find that hard to believe.

Karl, I hedged my bets by using .94, but, still, the question is reasonable. I can run numbers with a different conversion factor and see what happens.

I'm pretty sure, though, that in the 1920s the CWL was some degree of better than the NeL was. Someone with the Cuban baseball encyclopedia can do this better than I can, but here's a quick example.

In 1927 (year chosen randomly), Cuba fielded two teams in the Negro Leagues, all composed entirely of Cuban players. The eastern team, headed by Dihigo, Oms, Bernardo Baro, and Oscar Levis, was an even .500 team. Setting aside for now the lack of a home ballpark issue, this team is the definition of NeL average. The western team was less good, going 21-40. They can compete in the NeL, but they are closer to replacement level than to average.

The CWL had 4 teams, and we've just roughly identified the players who would fill two of those teams.

Now for a list of the NeL players whom Holway lists as playing in the CWL in 1927:

Jud Wilson
Pop Lloyd
Oscar Charleston
Chino Smith
Oliver Marcelle
Judy Johnson
Dick Lundy
George Scales
Chaney White
Bill Foster
Willie Powell
Connie Rector
Sam Streeter

This is an all-star team, far above NeL average (above average by major-league standards, in fact), more above average, certainly, than the Cuban Stars West were below average. Top regular NeL teams in 1927 had winning percentages of .621 and .659, so I'd say we're looking at a .750 team here, and we have probably 2 players more than the number needed to fill one team of regulars (I'm guessing that CWL teams did not need a 4-man rotation).

So far, then, the CWL looks better than the NeL, pending our identification of the players on the fourth team. A couple are overflow from the NeL stars. Some would have been white Cubans who played in the majors or the white minors. Dolf Luque was one in 1927, Mike Gonzalez was possibly another. Some might have been more NeL players. It would be possible to find out who these players were, but with the certainty that at least some of those players were playing in the majors or high white minors, I am pretty confident that the CWL during the 1920s was more competitive than the NeL. .94 might be too high a conversion factor, but I wouldn't want to go any lower than .92.
   80. karlmagnus Posted: July 12, 2005 at 04:21 PM (#1466285)
If the "all-star" NEL players you list are spread between 4 teams, the other two may not be any better than the ones that played in the NEL. Or am I misunderstanding?

In any case, what about the early 1930s? Even if .92/.94 is a fair representation of the peak, the average may not be so high.

The 133 looks very high, especially as about 5 posts earlier it had been suggested that that figure was an upper bound. Is it linear, so that 133 at .94 would translate into 128 at .90? At 133 he's Waner minus a couple of years, at 128 he's Beckley minus a couple of years, and without adjusting for Beckley's being an 1890s 1B or indeed his home park being more or less homer-proof (affecting a slugger like Beckley relatively more than an OBP king.)
   81. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 05:06 PM (#1466393)
If the "all-star" NEL players you list are spread between 4 teams, the other two may not be any better than the ones that played in the NEL. Or am I misunderstanding?

I'm just trying to get a picture of the total value of players in the league, not to identify the actual makeup of each team's players.

The Cuban Stars East squad was a .500 team in the NeL. I take that to mean that the 8 starting regulars plus the pitching staff, in the aggregate, are exactly NeL average. Even though some are better and some are worse than average, for the purposes of establishing league quality, they equal 8 average position players + an average pitching staff.

The NeL players were spread around among the teams, but in the aggregate, they are well above NeL average.

By looking at the players in team groups like this, we can get a sense, I think, of whether the the CWL was better or worse in quality than the NeL. In 1927, I think it looks better.

On the other hand, if you remove the NeL stars and substitute a group of players who, in the aggregate, are Latin-American average, the quality of the league would definitely drop. That, as I take it, was Brent's point about 1931/32 and 1932/33, and having looked at 1927, I agree with him and with you that league quality in those seasons would have been lower.

The 133 looks very high, especially as about 5 posts earlier it had been suggested that that figure was an upper bound. Is it linear, so that 133 at .94 would translate into 128 at .90?

Since OPS+ adds together OBP+ and SLG+, it will vary, under ordinary circumstances, at about 2x the rate of change in the conversion factor (I think). So, a 133 OPS+ at a .94 conversion rate becomes a 125 OPS+ at a .90 conversion rate, with some variance because ba and sa rates are above and below an overall conversion rate, and therefore players whose OPS+ is more OBP or SA heavy will vary differently.

In the case of Oms, since he is a balanced hitter and we are talking about adjusting the conversion rate for 50% or less of his career (the CWL part, not the NeL part), I would guess that a 4% drop in the conversion rate for the CWL for his career would probably drop his career OPS+ by 4 points or so.
   82. Chris Cobb Posted: July 12, 2005 at 10:08 PM (#1467260)
A quick check of Dr. Chaleeko's OPS+ calculations in post 72 shows that he used _league-wide_ OBP and SLG figures for his calculation, not the pitcher-removed values that bb-ref and our other MLE projections use. Use of the pitcher-removed values will certainly lower Oms' OPS+.

(Shout out to David Foss -- would you be able to run the numbers with the pitcher-removed league averages, as you have done in the past?)
   83. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 12, 2005 at 10:16 PM (#1467288)
Sorry folks, I completely forgot about the pitcher-removal issue. My bad all the way.
   84. Michael Bass Posted: July 12, 2005 at 10:45 PM (#1467393)
This is very interesting stuff...I've been slow to come around on Oms, but consider me intrigued now.

Can we get Oms' in the OPS+ chart that has gone in the recent NL hitter threads? And I hope that Win Shares estimates are incoming on him?

Sorry to ask so much, but those of us less smart than you guys need all the obvious comparisons we can get. :)
   85. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 12:14 AM (#1467625)
This is very interesting stuff...I've been slow to come around on Oms, but consider me intrigued now.

Good. At the very least, Oms is deserves to be considered intriguing :-).

Can we get Oms' in the OPS+ chart that has gone in the recent NL hitter threads? And I hope that Win Shares estimates are incoming on him?

Well, we're a few steps from having as solid a projection as possible yet, and that will need to be set before work on win shares can get started. I hope we'll have a solid projection by tomorrow night, and win shares then by the weekend.

More to follow in a moment.
   86. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 12:16 AM (#1467630)
More updates on Oms:

I have run alternate projections for Oms using different conversion rates for CWL seasons.

The original Oms career rate projection was:

.333 BA, .393 SA, .466 SLG

Following Brent's suggestion, I have done conversions using .90/.82 (NeL standards) for 1931 and 1932. This leads to a career projection of

.331, .391, .463 (this is about 2 OPS+ lower than the original projection)

Following karlmagnus's suggestion, I have done conversions using .92/.846 for all CWL seasons, except for 1931 and 1932, for which I used .90/.82. This leads to a career projection of

.328, .388, .453 (this is about 5 OPS+ lower than the original projections)

So which of these projections is most accurate? I am pretty confident that Brent is correct about 1931-32, as it’s pretty clear that taking a dozen NeL stars out of a 4-team league would lower its quality, but the question of the conversion rate for the CWL during the 1920s needs a closer look.

The main check that we have on the CWL translation is the NeL translation. Because the NeL translation covers mostly Om’s prime (his age 26-33, 35-36, and 40 seasons) while the CWL translation includes more of Oms’ decline (age 27-37, 40, and 42 seasons), we should not expect Oms to look exactly the same in both translations for his career. So let’s look at his seasons during the 1920s.

Oms’ NeL translations look like this for ba/sa (conversion rate is .90/.82)
.327/.487 in the NeL 1921-1928

In my original version (and in the Brent version), Om’s CWL translations at .94/.884 are
.362/.498 in the CWL 1922-1929

In the karl version at .92/.846, Oms hits
.354/.477 in the CWL 1922-1929

In every translation, the CWL looks like a high-batting-average environment, at least for Oms, which the translations may not be scaling quite right. However, if all American play was “on the road” and all Cuban play was “at home,” and in a park that was suited to Oms’ hitting style, would an 8 – 10% difference between home average and away average be that unusual? Someone in the group surely has some data on this . . .

On slugging average, however, I am inclined to favor the translation that sees Oms’ Cuban performance as slightly superior to his NeL performance (a .884 translation), rather than as slightly inferior to his NeL performance (a .846 translation), since it fits a) our expectation that a hitter will perform better at home and b) the evidence that Oms was a superior hitter to players like Charleston and Chino Smith in Cuba but inferior to them in the U.S.

We don’t have enough information yet for the evidence to be decisive, but I think the .94/.884 conversion rate is more likely for the 1920s.

CWL translations for the major NeL stars who played several seasons in Cuba would give us more to go on in setting the conversion level for the CWL in relation to the NeL. Both conversions could still be off relative to the majors, but we ought to have enough data to get the relative quality of these two leagues set. Unfortunately, a number of these players still lack full NeL conversions, so a lot of number-crunching would have to go in to getting decisive evidence.

For now, I’ll put together new seasonal projections for Oms using the lower conversion rates for 1931-32. Because of the regression formulas, changes to these two seasons will affect all of Oms’ seasons 1929-35 somewhat, so I’ll just repost his whole career. I’ll probably have that ready sometime tomorrow.
   87. Gary A Posted: July 13, 2005 at 12:57 AM (#1467797)
If anyone's interested, here are the regulars for the 1927/28 Cuban League season, plus pitchers with 5 or more decisions. For batters I also list ave/slg, for pitchers W-L. This is definitely the season Holway lists under 1927. By the way, there were only three teams (one of the reasons the Cuban League tended to be tougher).

Habana 20-13 (+ 4 forfeit wins)
Miguel Gonzalez, c, 296/422
Jud Wilson, 1b, 424/695
Ramon Herrera, 2b, 315/470
Angel Alfonso, ss, 284/375
Manuel Cueto, 3b, 307/436
Martin Dihigo, of/p 4-2, 415/600
Chino Smith, of, 342/450
Alejandro Oms, of, 324/549
Oscar Levis, p, 7-2
Cliff Bell, p, 6-2
Raul Alvarez, p, 1-4

Cuba 12-21 (+4 forfeit wins)
Larry Brown, c, 254/333
Jose Perez, 1b, 200/280
Pelayo Chacon, 2b, 290/348
Francisco Correa, ss, 272/320
Judy Johnson, 3b, 331/436
Oscar Charleston, of, 350/558
Justo Lopez, of, 297/373
Jose Lopez, of, 307/409
Bill Foster, p, 6-8
Willie Powell, p, 3-7
Basilio Rosell, p, 1-4

Almendares 17-15 (+ 8 forfeit losses)
Jose Fernandez, c, 333/433
John Henry Lloyd, 1b, 353/471
Oliver Marcelle, 2b, 336/445
Dick Lundy, ss, 321/460
George Scales, 3b, 282/393
Bernardo Baro, of, 246/328
Valentin Dreke, of, 252/288
Chaney White, of, 364/420
Adolfo Luque, p, 6-4
Emilio Palmero, p, 5-6
Isidro Fabre, p, 4-2
   88. Gary A Posted: July 13, 2005 at 01:09 AM (#1467839)
I won't type out all the regulars, but in the following season (28/29), in a 4-team league, the Cienfuegos club featured the core of the reigning NNL champion St. Louis Stars--Willie Wells, Mule Suttles, Ted Trent, and Branch Russell--added Newt Joseph and Frank Duncan from the Monarchs, Chaney White from Hilldale, Lefty Williams from the Grays, and Heliodoro Diaz from the western Cuban Stars--and finished dead last, 15-26 (disregarding forfeits). They were so far behind they quit the league early, as did Dolf Luque's Cuba club (starring Charleston, Judy Johnson, Baro, and Marcelle, among others).

The pennant winner was Habana, which starred Dihigo, Oms, Jud Wilson, Chino Smith, Cliff Bell, Mike Gonzalez, and Ramon Herrera.
   89. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 02:21 AM (#1468049)
Just to confirm how the CWL teams were staffed, here’s an annotation of Gary A.’s list of players for 1927.

Habana 20-13 (+ 4 forfeit wins)
Miguel Gonzalez, c, 296/422 – major-league catcher, 1912-1932
Jud Wilson, 1b, 424/695 – NeL all-star in 1927
Ramon Herrera, 2b, 315/470 – major-league 2b, 1925-26
Angel Alfonso, ss, 284/375 – starting ss Cuban Stars East, 1927
Manuel Cueto, 3b, 307/436 – major-leage 3b/of, 1917-1919, age 35
Martin Dihigo, of/p 4-2, 415/600 – NeL all-star in 1927, starter for CSE
Chino Smith, of, 342/450 – starter for Bkn Royal Giants, MVP, 1927
Alejandro Oms, of, 324/549 – starter for CSE
Oscar Levis, p, 7-2 – #1 starting pitcher for CSE
Cliff Bell, p, 6-2, -- #1 starting pitcher for Memphis Red Sox
Raul Alvarez, p, 1-4 #4 starting pitcher for CSE

Cuba 12-21 (+4 forfeit wins)
Larry Brown, c, 254/333 – starting catcher for Chi Am Giants
Jose Perez, 1b, 200/280 – starting 1b for Harrisburg Giants
Pelayo Chacon, 2b, 290/348 – reserve for CSE, starting ss for prior 10 yrs.
Francisco Correa, ss, 272/320 – probably starting ss for Cuban Stars West, if he is player listed as Cuco Correa
Judy Johnson, 3b, 331/436 – starting 3b for Hilldale Daisies
Oscar Charleston, of, 350/558 – NeL all-star in 1927
Justo Lopez, of, 297/373 – probably starting rf for CSW, if he is the same as Cando Lopez.
Jose Lopez, of, 307/409 – no info
Bill Foster, p, 6-8 – Won George Stovey award for best pitcher in NNL, 1927
Willie Powell, p, 3-7 #3 starting pitcher for Chi Am Giants
Basilio Rosell, p, 1-4 #1 starting pitcher for CSW

Almendares 17-15 (+ 8 forfeit losses)
Jose Fernandez, c, 333/433 – starting catcher for CSE
John Henry Lloyd, 1b, 353/471 – starting 2b for NY Lincoln Giants
Oliver Marcelle, 2b, 336/445 – NeL all-star in 1927
Dick Lundy, ss, 321/460 – starting ss for AC Bacharach Giants
George Scales, 3b, 282/393 – starting 3b for NY Lincoln Giants
Bernardo Baro, of, 246/328 – starting rf for CSE
Valentin Dreke, of, 252/288 – starting lf for CSW
Chaney White, of, 364/420 – starting cf for AC Bacharach Giants
Adolfo Luque, p, 6-4 – starting pitcher in major leagues, 1918-1935
Emilio Palmero, p, 5-6 – occasional appearances in majors, 1915, 16, 21, 26, 28
Isidro Fabre, p, 4-2 #3 starting pitcher for CSE

Since this was a three-team rather than a four-team season, the level of competition may have been higher than usual, but I’d guess that a .95/.90 conversion rate for this year would be conservative.
   90. Gadfly Posted: July 13, 2005 at 11:29 AM (#1468427)
89. Chris Cobb-

That's a pretty fascinating rundown. I had never really thought about it before, but the 1927-28 and 1928-29 seasons may be the absolute peak of the Cuban Winter League as far as concentration of talent went (especially hitting). I wouldn't be surprised if the League was actually briefly above the talent level of the Major Leagues.

Despite the concentration of hitting, it's also interesting that the team, Habana, with two number 1 starting pitchers having good years won.

On paper, Almendares looks like the best team, but three of their starters - Dreke (who was dying of TB), Baro (who also wasn't long for the world), and Scales were not hitting up to par.

Cuco Correa is Francisco Correa. Justo Lopez is Cando Lopez (a very good but forgotten player). Jose Lopez was a long time Cuban Winter League player (1918-19 to 1931-32) having his best year. He doesn't show up in the Negro Leagues because he was a white Cuban who played in the Minor Leagues from 1921 to 1928. He's also probably the worst regular in the league.
   91. sunnyday2 Posted: July 13, 2005 at 01:18 PM (#1468477)
Gad, I was thinking about why Jose Lopez and others (including Bobby Estalella) played in the white MiLs rather than the NeLs.

1. They could make more money.

2. They were white or very light-skinned and were not welcome in the NeLs.

3. If they played inthe NeLs they would have blown their chance to make the MLs, and they were light enough (and good enough) to have hopes of making the MLs.

4. Other conditions were more pleasant (where they could eat and sleep, how they traveled, ???).

Gad or anybody, any thoughts?
   92. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 02:28 PM (#1468611)
gadfly, thanks for confirming the ID's of Francisco Correa and Justo Lopez, and for identifying Jose Lopez.

Gary A., would it be too much trouble for you to list the rest of the pitchers who had decisions in the 1927 CWL? Given that all the ones listed so far had NeL or Major-league records and that there's not all that many of them, I'd like to do one-season MLEs for the lot of them from their nearest seasons to see what that suggests about a competition level for the CWL. It shouldn't take much more time than a single long-career pitcher would take.

I may do something similar for the batting regulars as well. I won't ask for a list of other players, but do you have a sense of how much anybody besides the regular position players played? Was it about like the majors in this respect, or did the regulars garner a higher percentage of the playing time?
   93. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 04:50 PM (#1469004)
I've now run OPS+ numbers for Oms using pitcher-removed values.

I plan to repost revised seasonal projections after I finish a quick estimate on the competition levels in 1927-28, which will use those competition levels as well as the lower competition levels for 1931 and 1932. To avoid clutter and confusion, then, I won't post seasonal OPS+ numbers for the old data, but, if you're curious, here's the career OPS+ for each of the views we now have of OMs.

Original view (.94/.884 conversion for all NeL seasons) -- 125
Brent View (.90/.82 conversion for 1931 and 1932) -- 123
Karl View (.92/.846 conversion, w/ Brent view of 31 & 32) --120

It'll probably be a couple of days before I have a fuller study of CWL competition levels done.
   94. Gary A Posted: July 13, 2005 at 06:32 PM (#1469335)
OK, here are all the pitchers listed by Figueredo for the 1927/28 Cuban League, Actually, I'll list all the stats he gives--games pitched, complete games, and W/L. He doesn't give starts or any other stats for this season. And I'll add each pitcher's 1928 stats in the NeL, hopefully enough to be useful--including the league total run average and the raw park factor for each pitcher's team (home r/g divided by road r/g):

Oscar Levis 15 7 7-2 / CSE 44.3 9.34 5.88 1-3 100
Cliff Bell 8 2 6-2 / MRS 151.7 4.75 5.26 9-7 101
Martin Dihigo 6 5 4-2 / HSG 17.0 7.41 5.88 1-1 87
Oscar Estrada 3 0 1-0 /
Sam Streeter 8 1 1-1 / HSG 50.0 5.94 5.88 4-2 87
Raul Alvarez 10 0 1-4 /
Manuel Garcia 2 0 0-1 / (see CUBA)
Juan Eckelson 3 0 0-1 /
Pedro Dibut 2 0 0-0 /

CUBA 12-21 G CG W-L / 28NeL IP TRA LG W-L PF
Bill Foster 16 8 6-8 / CAG 230.0 3.60 5.26 15-10 57
Willie Powell 18 4 3-7 / CAG 144.0 2.50 5.26 10-6 57
Manuel Garcia 5 2 2-1 / CSW 60.7 10.09 5.26 1-7 100
Basilio Rosell 13 2 1-4 / CSW 116.7 4.86 5.26 5-9 100
Rogelio Alonso 2 0 0-1 / CSW 29.7 10.31 5.26 1-3 100

Adolfo Luque 13 6 6-4 /
Emilio Palmero 15 5 5-6 /
Isidro Fabre 15 3 4-2 / CSE 25.0 2.88 5.88 0-2 100
Connie Rector 4 1 1-1 / LIN 139.3 5.94 5.88 7-9 130
Juan Eckelson 9 1 1-2 /
   95. sunnyday2 Posted: July 13, 2005 at 06:52 PM (#1469383)
No particular disrespect is intended but rather than Paul Waner, Oms now looks more like Heinie Manush. Or perhaps a more respectable comp is Hugh Duffy.

Oms 328-333
~9000 PAs

Waner 333/404/473/133 in 10,000+ PAs
Manush 330/377/479/121 in ~8200 PAs though Oms is a little more OBP-heavy and SA-light which is a good thing, right?
Duffy 326/386/451/121 Duffy is slightly lower in everything but including run environment so his OPS+ is closer

How was Oms fielding compared to Duffy??? And then there's my old question from last week--how does Oms compare with Spot Poles?
   96. Chris Cobb Posted: July 13, 2005 at 07:00 PM (#1469404)

Since I'm posting a brief note, I'll mention that an initial study of the 1927 CWL to the 1927 NeL suggests a conversion factor for batting average of around .97 , derived from an NeL conversion factor for ba of .9 . At this point in time the CWL sported significantly tougher competition than the NeL, at least on the batting side. I'll be fine-tuning the study before I post full results.

I should mention that if the NeL conversion factor is too low or too high in relation to the majors, the CWL conversion factor will of course be off by the same amount.

On a somewhat tangential note, it looks to me more and more like careful work with CWL data, season by season, coupled with study of NeL data (esp. the league-wide data for 1921, 1923, and 1928), and study of the cross-overs from the CWL to the majors and white minors, could really lead to more solidly grounded conversion factors for the NeL in the 1920s, if not the 1930s.
   97. sunnyday2 Posted: July 13, 2005 at 07:16 PM (#1469439)
PS. Hugh Duffy looks like a good benchmark. How does Oms stack up against Duffy? And it's a relevant benchmark because Duffy is part of a big cluster of players who made 10ish ballots (11 actually for Duffy) in 1955. And Duffy ranked as high as #5 on two ballots. And I would guess that at least some other voters still have Duffy in the CF glut along with:

CF Who Rec'd Votes in 1955 in Roughly Chrono Order
Duffy-Van Haltren-Ryan
F. Jones
Hack Wilson-Bell

Right now my own ranking is

1. Roush
2. Browning
3. Bell
4. Averill
5. Wilson
6. Duffy
7. Van Haltren
8. Berger
9. Poles
10. Ryan
11. F. Jones

Others will differ of course, but comping Oms to Duffy puts him more or less in the middle, and now I need to figure out if he should be above or below Duffy, and either way, whether he would also move ahead of Wilson-Averill-Bell or drop behind GVH-Berger-Poles.

I had earlier pegged him to Poles but that is a slippery slope because I still don't know where Poles belongs.

I agree that he could rate as high as #1 on this list if you take the top end of his range for BA-OB-SA and if he was a solid fielder. If he was really a RF playing out of place in CF and he belongs at the bottom of his BA-OB-SA range, well, then, he could rate at the bottom of the list, too.

But for the moment, taking the average seems the fairest way to go and that makes him the black Hugh Duffy.
   98. Gadfly Posted: July 13, 2005 at 09:38 PM (#1469799)
91. Sunnyday-

It was the money (1). Of course, if the money was equal, organized ball would probably win out over blackball on conditions (4); but basically it was the money.

The other two reasons (2 & 3) are inapplicable. A good number of white Cubans moved from organized ball to blackball and vice versa without hurting their chances of employment in either type of baseball (Pedro Dibut and Armando Marsans come to mind).

Estalella is an interesting example of this fluidity. He played in the Minors and then Majors from the early 1930s until 1945 and then was blackballed with the rest of the Mexican League jumpers.

He played in the Mexican and Provincial Leagues while banned (with tons of Cuban and Negro League players as teammates) before returning to the Minors (and Majors briefly) after the ban was lifted.

Estalella could have easily gotten a job on a Negro League team but was much better paid in Organized Ball.


On page 168 on John Holway's 'Complete Negro Leagues' Book' (chapter on 1922), he states that Alejandro Oms hit three home runs in one game against Edward 'Huck' Rile of the Lincoln Giants on July 23, presumably 1922.

I was trying to track this down but couldn't find it. Interestingly, the stats in Mac 10 credit Oms with 3 homers in one game and no other stats at all in 1921.

Turns out MacMillan was right and Holway is wrong. Alejandro Oms did hit three HRs against Ed Rile and the Lincoln Giants, but it was on July 17, 1921. The Cuban Stars won the game 19-5, scoring an amazing 14 runs in the ninth inning as Rile evidently fell apart. It is possible, but unknown, that Oms hit 2 homers in a single inning.
   99. sunnyday2 Posted: July 14, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1470433)
Gad, love to hear about Bobby Estalella. I'd like to reconstruct his career and get Chris and David and Doc et al to do some MLEs. I think he is a forgotten gem, possibly of Omsian proportions.
   100. Chris Cobb Posted: July 15, 2005 at 01:30 AM (#1473191)
Here's an Oms update and a request for help:

I'm making good progress on getting more reliable conversion factors for the CWL 1922-1937, but I could use more information about the number of American NeL position players in the league each season. Holway gives some info, but I don't believe he is exhaustive in most seasons. Here's a list of the number of players by season I think there are, based on Holway. Could Brent or Gary A. or someone else with the Cuban encyclopedia do a quick check to confirm or correct these numbers? I just need a figure on how many played. Also, I have generally assumed a 4-team league, except for 1927. Are there any other seasons where the number of teams was more or less than 4?

1922 3
1923 5
1924 11
1925 2
1926 7
1927 10 (3 teams)
1928 6 (this clashes with Gary A's post above, but perhaps Holway just isn't listing stats for players whose team quit early?)
1929 15
1930 1-2
1931 0
1932 0
1933 --
1934 --
1935 4
1936 6
1937 11

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
for his generous support.


You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.


Page rendered in 1.6002 seconds
38 querie(s) executed