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Monday, July 25, 2005

Charlie Keller

Charlie Keller

Eligible in 1957.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 25, 2005 at 01:49 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 25, 2005 at 01:58 PM (#1496137)
Was his son Charlie Jr. nicknamed "Son of Kong?"
   2. DavidFoss Posted: July 25, 2005 at 02:51 PM (#1496248)
Would he approve of Peter Jackson's remake? Fay Wray or Naomi Watts?

Tough candidate. He certainly played well enough when he did, but only 4604 PA with the last 800 or so spread across his last 5+ seasons. (Compare to Joe Jackons's 5600 PA).

There's war credit for 44-45 to add to that and some war discount to apply to 43 & 45 as well. That should come out positive, but will it be enough. This peak voter is not sure.
   3. OCF Posted: July 25, 2005 at 03:07 PM (#1496279)
Someone last week invoked the comparison of Charlie Keller to Ralph Kiner. That's fair. They were both flank outfielders whose case rests on their bats. For both, the biggest knock is that their careers weren't long. Both were fly-ball power hitters, with significantly more home runs than doubles. Kiner was more extreme in that, although not after he moved to Chicago. Both Kiner and Keller were aiming at the shorter right field line in an asymmetrical ballpark. Both led leagues in walks, more than once; neither was much of a candidate for a batting championship.

There is one key difference: Kiner played 1472 major league games and Keller only 1170. In the years he was active, Kiner was a durable everyday player; Keller always missed more time in season.

I put both of them through my modified RCAA system. What was the result? They're twins. Any way I sort, they sort right next to each other.

But here's another thought. Are you serious about considering Keller? Can you make an argument for a position player with ~1200 games played? Because if you are going to make that argument, then what about Frank Chance? Chance had 1286 games played. I've tried to support him, but the games played weighed so heavily against him that I eventually dropped him from my ballot. As a dead-ball era first baseman, and a good one, Chance had more defensive value than either Kiner or Keller.

The "modified" in my modified RCAA system corrects for the different value of a run in high scoring times as opposed to low scoring times. Here are Kiner, Keller, and Chance, with their RCAA in arbitrary units (roughly tenths of wins), sorted from best year to worst.

Kiner     81 76 70 42 41 28 24 20 10  7
Keller    75 68 65 54 48 47 22 20  7  6  3  1  0
Chance    78 66 66 52 41 29 27 24 23 12  8  7  4  2  0  0
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 25, 2005 at 03:36 PM (#1496343)
Following up on OCF's post...with the addition of one more fellow.

WS prorated to 162 arranged highest to lowesst
Kiner  (254) 39 37 32 32 24 24 20 20 16 12
Chance (262) 37 36 30 26 24 21 17 15 15 11 10 9 5 5 1 0 0
Keller (272) 36 34 33 32 30 30 25 23 11  8  5 3 2 0
Veach  (286) 37 33 32 28 26 23 23 22 19 14 14 9 3 3 0 0

[bold indicates war credit---i chose to show the maximum credit I'd offer to give the best-case scenario for Keller.]
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 25, 2005 at 03:37 PM (#1496347)
Hmmm. the bold didn't show up, but it's the two 30 WS seasons in the middle of Keller's career.
   6. OCF Posted: July 25, 2005 at 05:18 PM (#1496596)
Keller is listed in bbref as 5'10", 190 lbs - the same general size range as a lot of people, including Mantle and Mays. Somehow one expects more from "King Kong." I gather that he did look impressive with his shirt off.
   7. DavidFoss Posted: July 25, 2005 at 05:29 PM (#1496620)
The black bushy eyebrows were part of the name as well says baseballlibrary.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 25, 2005 at 05:30 PM (#1496623)
Somehow one expects more from "King Kong." I gather that he did look impressive with his shirt off.

He was named "King Kong" because he was a hairy son of a gun, plus he wasn't the best looking guy out there.
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 25, 2005 at 05:44 PM (#1496660)
Keller wasn't a great looking guy, but in comparison to King Kong Kingman he's Jessica Lange.
   10. OCF Posted: July 25, 2005 at 09:43 PM (#1497182)
I would add that the system I describe in #3 does not really put Veach into this conversation, at least in terms of translated offense:

Veach   60 52 42 36 29 25 17 14 11  5  5  4  1  1

I like the Keller/Chance comparison, despite being completely different types of offensive players, and at different positions. In both cases, nagging a recurrent injuries caused them to miss significant numbers of games even during their peak seasons. In both cases, the injuries ultimately truncated the meaningful playing career. But both made huge contributions on offense, even when they weren't playing every game. I don't see adding anything like 300 games to Keller as war credit - after all, he did play in 1945 (the "22" from my list in #3), and the health of his back was an issue. More likely, you'd wind up with just about as many games as Chance.
   11. Brent Posted: July 26, 2005 at 04:28 AM (#1498351)
OCF wrote:

I don't see adding anything like 300 games to Keller as war credit - after all, he did play in 1945 (the "22" from my list in #3), and the health of his back was an issue.

Are you saying that Keller missed significant playing time in 1945 due to injuries? I'd be interested if you have information. My understanding had been that he missed most of the season due to military service.

BBlib says the following:

ยป July 11, 1945: Aaron Robinson, Yankees C, returns from the military. Red Ruffing is back too, and so are Hugh Mulcahy and Buddy Lewis. Charlie Keller will follow, and a couple of dozen former major-league players will be in uniform before the season is over.

It's not very specific, but it suggests that Keller returned to the Yankees sometime after July 11.

Bill James says that the injury that effectively ended Keller's career took place in a game in Detroit in June 1947. But from 1940-43, 46 his games played totals were 138, 140, 152, 141, and 150 -- not Gehrig or Ripken, but certainly better at staying in the lineup than Frank Chance.
   12. Rick A. Posted: July 27, 2005 at 02:36 AM (#1500944)
Maybe not Frank Chance, but one person he reminds me of is a pre-injury George Sisler.

Here are their OPS+ during their peaks. (Only listed if they played more than half their team's games)

GS  181, 170, 161, 157, 154, 140, 132
CK  168, 163, 162, 159, 144, 141, 110

This doesn't include any war discount/credit or the rest of Sisler or Keller's career.

Looking at this, I don't see how you can anyone can take Keller over Sisler.
   13. rawagman Posted: March 07, 2007 at 09:46 AM (#2308073)
This thread screams for a bump. Keller looks a good bet to be inducted this week.
I can't give him minor league credit, but I definitely am on board with full WWII credit at established career rates. Not quite peak, but most of his truncated career was at near peak level, so it really doesn't make much difference.
His candidacy is hurt by prominent lack of in-season durability almost as much as it is by general shortness from start to end.
He definitely looked better than Browning taking the glove into consideration, but even so, he probably wasn't a gold glove type.
His home stadium was assymetrical, as pointed out by OCF in post 3. Does OPS+ account for this in its home field adjustments. Can a park's factor be understated if it affects different hitteres in different ways?
If so, maybe Keller is really a glorified version of Jim Rice? Even if that's a bit of an oversimplification, the resemblances are tangible.
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 07, 2007 at 02:10 PM (#2308089)
To quote Lefty Gomez: "Keller wasn't scouted by the Yanks; he was trapped."

Keller was also a very muscular guy. As in he looked ripped even amongst fellow athletes. In pictures just holding the bat you can see the definition in his forearms and biceps. Toss in that Keller wasn't exactly Mr. Congeniality, particularly when teased about his layer of fur, and the nickname was a dead match.

Heckuva player. If not for the back problems he would have been a Hall of Famer.
   15. rawagman Posted: March 07, 2007 at 02:16 PM (#2308094)
exactly, Harvey. Anyone would be hard-pressed to deny that.
But he did have back problems. Bad ones. They ended his career. So does he have the merit to belong in the HOM?
   16. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 07, 2007 at 02:55 PM (#2308112)
Yes, he does. Then again I have been one of his best friends since the 1950's.

I think that he deserves MiL credit, especially if you have given credit to anyone else. He had a season that translates to 28 WS in 1937 (I believe, I don't have the numbers in front of me) and one that translates to 30 WS in 1938. I dont' give him credit for 1937, that was his, "Hey, look at me!" season. But does it make sense not to give him credit when he would have had a low ballot MVP year in 1938 had he been in pretty much any other organization? And of course this level of play is backed up by his coming into MLB and having a string of very good to great seasons right away.

As for the in-season durability, I am usually one of the biggest advocates that peak players need to have in-season durability. That said, it didn't stop him from churning out 30 WS seasons every year during his prime. IOW, his problems weren't of the McGraw/Chance variety.

Yes, the back problem ended his career, but then again his candidacy doesnt' rest on the years tacked onto his peak. And I also want to state again, that his career was not prolonged by the war as he was either playing baseball or in combat and both of those things are at least as hard as playing baseball. He wasn't just sitting around.

Finally, how many HOM voters take component park factors into consideration? I think they are very useful if you are trying to build a team in the here and now. However, that is not our task, our task is about finding players in the past that had the most 'merit'. Taking advantage of one's park gives one's team real value. I don't adjust for Jim Rice in this regard and I don't adjust for Charlie Keller.

Also, the best discussion on Charlie Keller were probably the discussion threads where James Newburg started to really push for his election. When were they? BTW, is it wrong of me to send an email to James to urge him to vote this year (I don't think he has for a few years now) since Keller could be elected? Is that strategic voting? I am nto saying I am even going to do it, I am just wondering what the line is.
   17. rawagman Posted: March 07, 2007 at 03:06 PM (#2308119)
Taking advantage of one's park gives one's team real value. I don't adjust for Jim Rice in this regard and I don't adjust for Charlie Keller.

That's great. But from my understanding, park factors are imbedded in OPS+. In which Keller excels. My point is that maybe the park factors are misleading, especially when it comes to assymetrical stadia, such as Yankee stadium was. One short porch, one far porch. the park factor is based on the average. But the OPS+ looks at the average instead of the player's actual, indivual effect. The same can be true in ERA+. Yes, I am Lefty Gomez' best friend.
Does anyone have an opinion on potentially skewed OPS+ results in assymetric parks?
   18. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 07, 2007 at 03:18 PM (#2308126)
Well, as someone who thinks Kiner is one of our least HOMish selections (sorry Sunny) and who doesn't vote for McGraw or Chance, and who does give war credit, but who thinks that Keller's MiL case is weak (not in an independent league, on a specifically affiliated farm club, just baseball), I've got him as better than Rice, better than Veach, better than Kiner, better than R. White and Jose Cruz.

But I don't think he's as good a candidate as Frank Howard, Lou Brock, Charley Jones, and maybe not Augie Galan (???). I see the HOM in/out line as directly below a knot of four LFs: Stargell, G.J. Burns, Kelley, Clarke. Sheckard is in this vicinty too.

Keller's peak is really good, but it's not so good that it balances out his lack of career even with military credit. He was the best player in his league for one three-year period, ditto his position, and he's got four really good years, but his credentials after that aren't amazing. Part of that is playing in Ted Williams' league, of course, but he doesn't have the other markers to back it up either because of his short career, or because his peak was merely high instead of lights out. If he had five or so years of Williams or Mantle I'd be voting for him. But he doesn't, just like Kiner didn't. I didn't vote for Kiner, and I think Burns and Howard are both better candidates than either Kiner or Keller.*

*WS voter, your own system will vary.
   19. Mike Green Posted: March 07, 2007 at 03:40 PM (#2308141)
Keller had a congenital back condition. It is fair to interpolate some value into 1944-45, but a straight line projection with no discount for contingencies, taking into account that congenital back condition, seems quite generous to me. Unless one knew that his military service involved more strain on the back than playing baseball. Military service can take many forms.
   20. rawagman Posted: March 07, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2308154)
Military service can take many forms.

Very true.
I served in the military (Israeli) for two years. I came out relatively unscathed (1 cornea infection, 1 mild case of pneumonia). Other people lose limbs or lives.
How about, instead of saying that he was doing more strenous things in the military, or that he wasn't doing any things, can anyone think of a source that would tell us exactly what Keller was doing in the US military machine between 1944-1945?
If we cannot find anything like that, how can we honestly pull out all the plugs to give him every possible benefit of the doubt?
If Albert Pujols never played again, would he be in the HOM?
How about another thought exercise? What if Keller hadn't hurt his back and had a normal decline phase. Let's say we line up his peak with others who had a similar peak. NO WS/WARP please - just rate stats. Who else had similar peaks? How do/did we view their candidacies?
   21. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 07, 2007 at 04:10 PM (#2308158)
If Albert Pujols never played again, would he be in the HOM?

He would be in mine. Pujols has an already established peak nearer the level of the Williams type groups, vastly superior to Keller. This level of peak production is already enough to establish him as a lower-rung 1B HOMer in my system's estimation. Others will likely object owing to the shortness of his career, but that is, to me, offset by the level of dominance he's shown. He's that good. Not Ruthian, sure, but much closer to it than Keller or Kiner.
   22. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 07, 2007 at 06:26 PM (#2308234)

On the park factor thing, I think we are talking past each other. I am saying that I dont' think it should matter that a park is assymetrical and that this may have helped Keller. If he took extra advantage of his parks, I dont' care, that is real value. Same thing with Rice.

I am nto 100% sure on Charlie Keller but I did my undergrad thesis on baseball players in WWII and most every one was either playing 100+ games of baseball a year all around the different theaters (pacific, europe, at home) for the troops, OR was able to convince the military to let them fight. You may have been in the military but were you in the military during a period of fighting like WWII (I honestly dont' know when you were in and I know that Israel has had many skirmishes over the years)? The congenital Back condition is highly unlikely to have afflicted him in this period while playing MLB if it had not done so while in the military.

And yes, if Albert Pujols retired today I would vote him #1 on my ballot (though I guess he would be #2 or 3 since Bagwell and Clemens may be on the same ballot). I don't really care about decline phases (unless they have many 20+ WS seasons).
   23. sunnyday2 Posted: March 07, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2308241)
How much better is Albert than the other Albert (Belle)?
   24. rawagman Posted: March 07, 2007 at 07:02 PM (#2308272)
I didn't really do all that much in the IDF. Mainly guard duty and office work. My point is, I guess, it seems to me that some voters are going out of their way to ignore the weaknesses in Keller's game and I'm not sure if I see those same weaknesses pushed back for other candidates.
It looks like there's a good chance that we'll be electing at least 2 backloggers and Keller is way up that list.
This is our in-out line. Let's make sure we get it right.
   25. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 07, 2007 at 09:18 PM (#2308356)
How much better is Albert than the other Albert (Belle)?

Currently, a little. Two to three years like the ones he's had, a lot.
   26. Juan V Posted: March 07, 2007 at 09:22 PM (#2308358)
Isn't Bagwell class of 2011? With Palmeiro (don't want to see his thread), Brown, Olerud, Walker...

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