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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Thursday, September 23, 2004

George Van Haltren, Hugh Duffy and Jimmy Ryan

After Sliding Billy, the three best centerfielders of the 1890s…

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 23, 2004 at 02:05 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. rawagman Posted: September 11, 2006 at 09:52 AM (#2173178)
I was looking further into the defensive abilities of my best friend, Hugh Duffy.
Some have argued that Hugh should be downgraded becasue he really only spent four full seasons as his team's CF.
So let's look into that.
Physically speaking, yes, he only was the actual CF for 4 years. (1892-1895)
That gives us the 3 years before (1889-1891) and the four eyars after (1896-1899). How should we view those years?

For the first two years, Duffy played in the Chicago. Firsth, with the White Stockings, then with the Pirates. Both years, he stood beside Jimmy Ryan, who was patrolling CF. In both years, Ryan was the better outfielder. In 1889, Duffy wasn't really that great at all. By 1890, Dufy was much beter, and subbed for Ryan when Ryan was unavailable.
But it would still be fair to say that Jimmy Ryan was a more useful outfielder by all non-metric stats, except for Assist to error ratio (Duffy: 34-26, Ryan: 25-25)
In 1891, Hugh Duffy had moved on to play for the Boston Reds of the AA.
Hugh Duffy was generally the RF for the Reds, Tom Brown playing CF. This is where Duffy "prooves" himself as a CF.
On this team, more balls were going to CF than to RF. Brown put up a fielding % of .878. Duffy? .917.
Then again, who looked at statistics back then, right?
Back to assist to error ratio. Brown: 23-35, Duffy 23-17. Same amount of assists, half the errors.
Hugh Duffy is prooving to be more effective than the "true" CF.
To wit, the following season, 1892, Hugh Duffy has moved on to play for the Beaneaters of Boston (NL) and is now a "true" CF.

Then came 1896 - Duffy (age 29) went Left. Billy Hamilton was the Beaneater CF, for those of you at home.
But something tells me that the Beaneaters needed their CF to play in LF.
Outfield G PO A E DP .933 2.12 LF CF RF
BHamilton 131 276 8 20 2 .934 2.17 6 125 0
HDuffy 120 250 15 12 2 .957 2.21 114 6 0

I hope the formatting works out. If not, basically, Duffy played 11 less games, had 26 less putouts. He also had 8 fewer errors and 7 more assists. His F% was .024 higher and range factor was .004 higher.

1897 - same cast of characters.

Outfield G PO A E DP .935 2.06 LF CF RF
HDuffy 129 266 12 7 2 .975 2.16 129 0 0
BHamilton 126 296 10 12 0 .962 2.43 0 126 0
Similar to 1896. More putouts ot CF. More errors to CF as well. More assists to Hugh. Without pbp, I can see how this season can be argued both ways. But I stand firm, that I mean both ways - It is no stretch of the imagination to say that Duffy was the better, more valuable OF for the Beaneaters in 1897.

1898 - same LF/CF combo. Let's include the RF (C. Stahl) in the evaluation.
Outfield G PO A E DP .937 2.03 LF CF RF
HDuffy 152 332 18 16 2 .956 2.30 115 39 0
CStahl 125 199 14 7 4 .968 1.70 8 0 118
BHamilton 110 189 8 21 2 .904 1.79 0 110 0
In this year, the CF was easily the worst of the three. Stahl actually looks to have had a stellar season. Hugh's extra errors, more than the other years suggest to me that they may have occured mostly in his time in CF. Meaning? CF was tougher. OK - I admit it.
On the other hand, Hugh's SB totals have also began to decline. From 1889-1897, Duffy had between 39-85 SB each season. In 1898, Duffy set a career high in games played, but his SB total dropped to 29. Injuries/age catching up? Likely.

Finally, 1899.
Outfield G PO A E DP .944 2.11 LF CF RF
CStahl 148 253 26 9 6 .969 1.89 1 1 146
HDuffy 147 344 9 11 1 .970 2.40 138 8 1
BHamilton 81 166 11 9 2 .952 2.19 2 78 1
GStafford 41 86 0 4 0 .956 2.10 6 33 2
CFrisbee 40 68 9 11 1 .875 1.93 0 36 4
CF was a rotation, now. Duffy's play is not quite so effective, and this was, in fact, his last full season. One thing to notice to his credit, though. PO's. He had more than Stahl in RF and the triple headed CF.

Conclusion - I beleive Duffy should be considered as a CF in terms of value for a minimum of 8 seasons. And as a very good/excellent OF for all of them.
   102. rawagman Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#2179355)
17. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:32 AM (#2000480)

Hugh Duffy Keltner List Part 1 of ?

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
I don't have access to any primary sources for the years when Duffy played. The closest I have is a copy of Spink's The National Game from 1911. In it, he provides commentary about most of the good players back to the National Association. He usually only has good things to say. His comment about Duffy details that he was the starting center fielder for Boston when they won in 1892 and 1983 and starting left fielder in 1897 and 1898. Then it says, “Up to the closing days of his career as a player Duffy was a magnificent fielder and batsman. Although below the medium in height he was a strong, husky figure on the field and he was one of the best men in an emergency the game has ever known.” Spink, The National Game, p. 244.
I checked the Spalding Guide for 1894 (covers the 1893 season) and it doesn’t get into individual players other than mentioning how McCarthy, Duffy, and three others on Boston were the new brainy players.
The Spalding Guide for 1895 doesn’t describe the efforts of any individual player.
Considering the esteem in which batting average was held at the time, I assume Duffy was considered one of, if not the, best player in baseball in 1894.
By win shares each year, (unadjusted by schedule)
1888: 10 WS - NR
1889: 17 WS – NR
1890: 26 WS – 2nd in PL to John Ward – 27
1891: 28 WS – 3rd in AA to Tom Brown – 31 and Dan Brouthers 29.
5th in majors behind Billy Hamilton – 36, Brown, Brouthers, and Herman Long – 29.
1892: 29 WS – 4th in NL to Brouthers - 34, Dahlen and Childs – 32. Elmer Smith had 31 as an outfielder and a pitcher in 134 innings.
1893: 28 WS – 1st in NL tied with Ed Delahanty.
1894: 33 WS – 1st in NL. Joe Kelley is second – 30.
1895: 23 WS – 9th (tied with Willie Keeler) in NL. Burkett 35, Delahanty 31, Hamilton 30, Griffin and Bill Lange 29, Sam Thompson and Jake Stenzel 28, Joe Kelley 27.
1896: 17 WS - NR
1897: 25 WS – 8th. Keeler 32, George Davis 31, Fred Clarke 30, Hughie Jennings 29, Hamilton 28, Collins and Kelley 26.
1898: 25 WS – 13th.
1899: 17 WS – NR.

From 1890 to 1894, Duffy had 144 WS.
Billy Hamilton: 135
Cupid Childs: 127
George Van Haltren: 117
Herman Long: 113
Bid McPhee: 105
Sam Thompson: 105
Billy Nash: 104
George Davis: 101
Mike Griffin: 96
Ed Delahanty: 95
Jimmy Ryan: 95
Bill Dahlen: 91
Jake Beckley: 90

It is at least arguable that Duffy was the best position player of the first half of the 90s.

2. Was he the best player on his team?
If we consider pitchers, then the answer is no – it would be Kid Nichols every year.
Let’s consider just position players and look at Win Shares and WARP1. I know some voters have issues with WS and some have issues with WARP, but there was no MVP vote and no All-Star teams named so lets go with something. Win Shares then WARP.
Year / win shares and games played / rank on team / team’s finish in league / players ahead of him on his team.
1888: 10 WS in 71g: 7th on Chi – 2nd in NL
1889: 17 WS in 136g: 4th on Chi – 3rd in NL (Ryan 25, Anson 21, Van Haltren 21)
1890: 26 WS in 138g: 1st on Chi – 4th in PL (Ryan was second with 23)
1891: 28 WS in 127g: 3rd on Bos – 1st in AA(Brown 31, Brouthers 29)
1892: 29 WS in 149g: 1st on Bos – 1st in NL (Long was second with 28, then Billy Nash 22)
1893: 28 WS in 131g: 1st on Bos – 1st in NL (Long was second with 25, Nash 25)
1894: 33 WS in 125g: 1st on Bos – 3rd in NL (Lowe was second with 20)
1895: 23 WS in 130g: 1st on Bos – 5th tied in NL (Bannon and Long were second with 19)
1896: 17 WS in 131g: 3rd on Bos – 4th in NL (Hamilton 30, Long 20)
1897: 25 WS in 134g: 3rd on Bos – 1st in NL (Hamilton 28, J Collins 26)
1898: 25 WS in 152g: 3rd on Bos – 1st in NL (J Collins 34, Hamilton 33)
1899: 17 WS in 147g: 4th on Bos – 2nd in NL (Chick Stahl 32, Fred Tenney 25, J Collins 23)
1900: 5 WS in less than half time play
1901: 8 WS in half time play. 4th on Mil – 8th in AL

1888: 3.8: 7th on team
1889: 4.4: 6th on team
1890: 8.8: 1st on team
1891: 9.4: 2nd on team to Duke Farrell’s 10.2
1892: 7.9: 3rd on team to Herman Long’s 10.2 and Bill Nash’s 8.7
1893: 8.3: 1st on team (tied with Long)
1894: 10.8: 1st on team
1895: 8.8: 1st on team
1896: 5.5: 3rd/4th on team to Hamilton’s 8.1, Long’s 7.4, and Lowe’s 5.6
1897: 8.6: 2nd on team tied with Hamilton behind Jimmy Collins’ 9.3
1898: 8.7: 2nd on team to Collins’ 11.2
1899: 5.6: 6th on team behind Stahl’s 10.5, Tenney’s 9.4, Collins’ 8.3, Lowe’s 6.9, and Long’s 6.1
1900: 2.2
1901: 3.4: 4th on team.

He was a regular for 11 years.
By win shares, Duffy was the best position player on his team 5 times, 3rd best 4 times, 4th best 2 times. He finished behind HoMers Anson once, Brouthers once, Hamilton 3 times and J Collins 3 times. Jimmy Ryan, George Van Haltren, Tom Brown, Herman Long, Chick Stahl and Fred Tenney were all good players also.
By WARP1, Duffy was the best position player on his teams 4 times, 2nd best 3 times, 3rd 2 times, and 6th 2 times.
18. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:37 AM (#2000482)

Hugh Duffy Keltner List Part 2 of ?

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
Considering all the outfield positions the same and using win shares, Duffy is one of the best 3 outfielders in his league:
1890 in the Players’ League, he is the best outfielder in the league, 26 WS. Three players in the lesser quality National and American Assoc have 26 also.
1891 in the American Association, he is the second best outfielder in the league, 28 WS. Billy Hamilton has 36 in the National. Mike Tiernan and Harry Stovey have 26 in the NL.
1892 in the National League, he is the best outfielder in the league, 29 WS. Elmer Smith has 31 WS between LF and P.
1893 in the National League, he is tied with Ed Delahanty as the best outfielder in the league, 28 WS.
1894 in the National League, he is the best OF in the league.

It is at least arguable that from 1890 to 1894, Duffy is the best outfielder in baseball by Win Shares.

If you split it by LF/CF/RF, then we have the following:
1889: 17 WS – 3rd behind Mike Tiernan 28 and King Kelly 24 in the NL
1890: 26 WS – best in PL. Jimmy Wolf in the AA has 27. With allowances for league quality, Duffy is the best.
1891: 28 WS – best in AA. NL is Stovey 26 (25% of games in LF), Tiernan 26, Thompson 22, C Carroll 16, Burns 15, F Carroll 8, Halligan 8, Johnson 6, Marr 6. With league adjustments, he probably slides just behind Stovey and Tiernan.
1892: 29 WS – best in NL
1893: 28 WS – best in NL
1894: 33 WS – best in NL
1895: 23 WS – 5th best in NL behind Hamilton 30, Griffin 29, Lange 29, Stenzel 28.
1896: 17 WS – 7th best in NL behind Delahanty 31, Kelley 31, Burkett 29, Elmer Smith 26, Burke 20, Selbach 18
1897: 25 WS – 3rd best in NL behind Clarke 30, Kelley 26
1898: 25 WS – 5th best in NL behind Delahanty 33, Burkett 29, Ryan 28, Elmer Smith 27, tied with Clarke 25
1899: 17 WS -

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Difficult to say. The only two years that I have access to, 1894 and 1895, in Spalding Guides don’t have any descriptions of individual contributions. Here is how Duffy’s teams did in September/October.
1889: Chi – 12-14 as team finishes 3rd, 19 games out. On Sept 1, team was 55-51, 12 games out in 4th.
1890: Chi – 17-10 as team finishes 4th, 10 games out. On Sept 1, team was 59-53, 10 games out in 5th.
1891: Bos – 17-10 as team finishes 1st, 8.5 games in front. On Sept 1, team was 77-32, 8 games in front.
1892: Split Season. Boston won first half at 52-22 by 2.5 games. Boston finished second in second half at 50-26 by 3 games. Best record overall by 8.5 games. Boston beats Cleveland 5 games to 0 to win championship.
1893: Bos – 12-11 as team finishes 1st, 5 games in front. On Sept 1, team was 74-32, 12 games in front.
1894: Bos – 14 -11 as team finishes 3rd, 8 games out. On Sept 1, team was 69-39, tied for second, 2 games out.
1895: Bos – 13-15 as team finishes tied for 5th, 16.5 games out. On Sept 1, team was 58-45, 9 games out in fourth.
1896: Bos – 15-8 as team finishes 4th, 17 games out. On Sept 1, team was 59-49
1897: Bos – 18-5 as team finishes 1st, 2 games in front. On Sept 1, team was 75 – 34, ½ game in front.
1898: Bos – 31-6 as team finishes 1st, 6 games in front. On Sept 1, team was 71-41, tied with Cin for first.
1899: Bos– 24-14 as team finishes 2nd, 8 games out. On Sept 1, team was 71-43, 6 games out in second.

Team improved itself in 1890, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899. Team had nothing to play for in 1891, 1892, 1892, 1893. Team plays worse in 1894, 1895. I would say this is neither a positive nor negative factor for Duffy.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
Duffy was injured in 1900 at age 33. He came back to play half-time and manage the Milwaukee team in the new American League with a 120 OPS+ at age 34 and then retired to become a manager. He seems like he could still play. This is probably not a point in his favor.
   103. rawagman Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2179357)
19. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2000485)

Hugh Duffy Keltner List Part 3 of ?

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Merit?
Depends on who you ask.
According to the HoM voters in 1974, 3 people thought he was the best candidate other than Mantle and Mathews. 3 others thought he was the second most deserving.

Per Career Win Shares, adjusted for Wars and schedule length and giving credit to Negro Leaguers:
384 - George Van Haltren (344 unadjusted)
370 - Willard Brown (328 w/o war credit)
351 - Jimmy Ryan (316 unadjusted)
348 - Jake Beckley (318 unadjusted)
346 - Sam Rice (327 unadjusted)
340 - Alejandro Oms (NeL translations)
340 - Mickey Vernon (296 w/o war credit)
335 - Tommy Leach (328 unadjusted)
329 - Harry Hooper (321 unadjusted)
326 - Ben Taylor (NeL translations)
324 - Hugh Duffy (295 unadjusted)
322 - Rabbit Maranville (302 unadjusted)
321 - Edd Roush (314 unadjusted)
310 - Bob Johnson (287 without a year of minor league credit)
305 - Fielder Jones (290 unadjusted)
(I have Spots Poles, Dick Lundy, Bill Monroe, and Bus Clarkson between 300 and 325 but some of these are from very sparse actual numbers.)

However, career totals are not everything.
Lets look at my peak measure – best 3 straight years, adjusted to 154 games.
102 – Pete Browning (75)
102 – Charlie Keller
101 – Hugh Duffy (90)
100 – Al Rosen
98 – Charley Jones (69)
97 – George Burns (89)
97 – Ralph Kiner
96 – Dobie Moore
95 – Wally Berger
95 – Hack Wilson

Lets look at my prime measure – best 7 years, adjusted.
232 – Charley Jones (132)
223 – Pete Browning (161)
218 – Hugh Duffy (194)
217 – Charlie Keller (190)
201 – George Burns (193)
201 – Mike Tiernan (176)
200 – George Van Haltren (179)
198 – Spots Poles
197 – Ralph Kiner
197 – Alejandro Ohms
196 – Wally Berger
196 – Gavy Cravath (175)
196 – Roy Thomas (189)

And Seasonal, or Win Shares per 648 PA to try to equalize differences b/t offensive levels
30.9 – Charlie Keller
30.8 – Frank Chance
28.8 – Gavy Cravath
28.5 – Roger Bresnahan
28.4 – Dobie Moore
27.8 – Al Rosen
27.7 – Wally Berger
27.43 – Pete Browning
27.42 – John McGraw
26.6 – Hack Wilson
26.4 – Charley Jones
26.3 – Roy Thomas
26.1 – Larry Doyle

Duffy is about 50th among eligible position players at 122. There are 26 players between 127 and 122.

STATS All-Stars:
STATS is not enthusiastic about him, finding him an all-star just twice.

Win Shares All-Stars:
Win shares likes his defense a lot. It finds him an all-star 5 times. 11 players are all-stars either 6, 7, or 8 times.

Win Shares Gold Gloves:
Win Shares thinks he very good defensively with 4 gold gloves. 17 other players have between 5 and 7 and Ray Shalk has 9.
20. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2000488)

Hugh Duffy Keltner List Part 4 of ?

7. Are most of the players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Merit?

Tough question because of the changes in the game. I am going to limit my search to players whose careers were predominantly pre-Lively Ball.
Let's look at some counting numbers first - this is all based on BaseballReference's top 100 lists. I'll look at players with 10% more to 10% less than Duffy.
Hits: Duffy 2282.
The total is not in the top 100. In the 1890s-1890 to 1899, Duffy has the second most hits with 1860. Only Delahanty has more with 1863. The rest of the top 10:
Burkett: 1798
Van Haltren: 1782
Hamilton: 1690
McKean: 1606
Geo. Davis: 1587
Long: 1560
Beckley: 1554
Donovan: 1536.

Beckley has 119, 97th all-time. Players with similar totals include Fred Pfeffer, Chick Stahl, Dummy Hoy, Duke Farrell, and John Anderson. This is not a HoMer total.

Duffy has 325 which is nowhere near the top 100 all-time. He does have the second most in the decade however. Ed Delahanty is by far the best however.
Delahanty: 373
Duffy: 271
Davis: 265
Ryan: 264
Beckley: 259
Long: 251
Griffin: 239
Thompson: 236
Dahlen: 225
Doyle: 215

Runs: Everyone scored a lot who played in this era. Duffy had 1552. Looking between 1750 and 1450 gives the following. There are 13 players between 1750 and 1550. 10 are HoMers and Beckley, Ryan, and Van Haltren are not. The 10 HoMers are Wagner, Hamilton, McPhee, O'Rourke, Keeler, Burkett, Connor, Clarke, Delahanty, and Dahlen.
From 1550 to 1450, there are the following HoMers: Davis, Brouthers, Lajoie, and Stovey. Defensive positions and better hitters, higher peaks/primes. Also, there are the following non-HoMers: Tom Brown, Arlie Latham, and Herman Long. Key players for the best team of the 1890s don't get in, nor do Brown and Latham who get hit with the AA markdown.

In the 1890s, Duffy is second to Billy Hamilton.
Hamilton: 1351
Duffy: 1264
Delahanty: 1209
Van Haltren: 1185
Burkett: 1170
Childs, Long, Hoy, Ryan, and Tiernan finish the top 10 down to 1009.

The majority of players with similar runs scored are in. Those that are not had lower peaks and primes than the elected or suffer from the AA discount. Where do you see Beckley?

RBI: Duffy had 1302 which is 91st all-time. The top 100 only goes to 1273 so not much downward comparison.
Players from pre-1920 with similar totals are: Connor: 1322, Thompson: 1299, Brouthers: 1296. No one else is within 70.
In the 1890s, Duffy leads with 1088. Followed by
Delahanty: 1075
Beckley: 953
Davis: 933
McKean: 927
Thompson: 846
Brodie, Long, Kelley, and Lave Cross finish the top 10 down to 759.

Runs Created: Using the numbers from the STATS book, not BB-Ref.
Duffy created 1609 so we will look at 1750 to 1450.
1750 to 1609: Hamilton, Davis, Ryan, Crawford, Clarke, GVH, Duffy.
All these players have been discussed.
1609 to 1450: McPhee, Keeler, Dahlen, Kelley, O’Rourke, and Stovey.

Duffy is in the top 100 in AVG, but not OBP, SLG, or OPS+. The following players who are frequently mentioned above are:
AVG: Delahanty, Speaker, Hamilton, Brouthers, Keeler, Burkett, Lajoie, Collins, Anson, Wheat, Connor, and Clarke are all HoMers.
GVH, and Roush are top 100 but not HoMers.
OBP: There are 8 HoMers from this era mentioned above in the top 100. There are no non-HoMers from above on the list.
SLG: Brouthers and Delahanty are the only ones on the list. None of the non-HoMers listed above are on the list.
OPS+: There are 11 HoMers from those listed above in the top 100. There are no non-HoMers on the list.

I’m not sure where to post this information, but since we are looking at counting numbers, it makes some sense to put park factors here:
First BB-Ref’s park factors, batter’s then pitcher’s (remember over 100 is good for hitters)
1888: 107 / 106
1889: 105 / 104
1890: 104 / 103
1891: 99 / 94
1892: 109 / 107
1893: 108 / 106
1894: 108 / 107
1895: 108 / 107
1896: 106 / 104
1897: 106 / 104
1898: 105 / 102
1899: 110 / 108
1900: 112 / 112
1901: 95 / 98

I thought it would be interesting to see how Duffy’s teams ranked in runs scored and allowed at home and on the road:
year RS/RA at home, RS/RA on road (1 is best and 8 or 12 is worst)
1888: 1 / 8 - - - 4 / 4
1889: 5 / 7 - - - 2 / 6
1890: 4 / 1 - - - 7 / 2
1891: 2 / 3 - - - 1 / 3
1892: 2 / 6 - - - 2 / 1
1893: 5 / 3 - - - 2 / 6
1894: 2 / 12 - - - 1 / 3 - WOW
1895: 2 / 5 - - - 9 / 7
1896: 3 / 6 - - - 8 / 5
1897: 1 / 3 - - - 2 / 2
1898: 3 / 10 - - - 5 / 3 - WOW
1899: 7 / 4 - - - 3 / 2
1900: 1 / 8 - - - 8 / 2 - WOW
1901: 6 / 6 - - - 8 / 8

Duffy played on teams that had great hitting during the first half of his career. The second half of his career, the park greatly aided them. The park helped the team’s numbers every year, but based on the runs scored on the road, in the first 7 years his teams had legitimately very good offenses.

Overall. The strong majority of players with similar numbers to Duffy are in the HoM.
   104. rawagman Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2179359)
21. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:51 AM (#2000490)

8. Does the player's numbers meet Hall Of Merit standards?

I don't know. When I first started in the HoM, I was told to judge each election separately and not to focus on Least Common Denominator arguments.
But let's look at few different standards.
Bill James Hall of Fame Standards: Duffy scores a 54.2. The average HoFer will have a 50. By this standard, Duffy has met the standards of an average Hall of Famer.
Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor: Duffy scores an 151.5. A likely Hall of Famer is over 100, and a score of 130 is pretty much a guarantee of HoF election.

Looking at commonalities among center field electees to the Hall of Merit.
I am looking at Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, Charleston, Mays, DiMaggio, Stearnes, Hines, Gore, Hamilton, Torriente, Snider, Ashburn, Carey, Doby, Hill, Averill, and Bell. I didn't include Lip Pike because half of his career is pre-1876 and I have issues about how much weight to place on NA stats.

Unadjusted by War credit or schedule evening Win Shares: HoMers range from Hines’ 249 to Cobb’s 722. Duffy, 295, would be be ahead of Hines, Gore, Doby, and Averill.

Adjusted for war and schedule (War credit based on 3 years on each side of break and schedule straight line adjusted): Averill's 308 to Cobb's 731. Duffy, 324, would be ahead of Averill only.

Win Shares per 162 games: HoMers range from Mantle’s 37.2 to Bell’s 20 or Carey’s 21.7. Duffy’s 24.7 is ahead of Bell, Ashburn, Carey, and Hines.

Center field is tough because it has some of the most consistently high achieving careers that also lasted forever. Cobb, Speaker, Mays, Mantle, Charleston, and Stearnes all made James’ top 25 players of all time.

Some people are not fans of Win Shares, so let's move on.
STATS All-Stars:
Cobb: 16
Speaker: 13
Mantle: 12
Mays: 12
DiMaggio: 10
Averill: 6
Hamilton: 6
Gore: 5
Hines: 5
Snider: 5
Doby: 2
Duffy: 2
Ashburn: 1
Carey: 1

I don't know of another source other than win shares so that I can provide another view of yearly all-stars. But another point-of-view is always good.
Cobb: 13
Speaker: 13
Mantle: 13
Mays: 12
DiMaggio: 10
Averill: 9
Hamilton: 8
Ashburn: 7
Hines: 7
Snider: 6
Carey: 6
Gore: 5
Duffy: 5

Mantle: 172
Cobb: 167
Speaker: 158
Mays: 156
DiMaggio: 155
Hamilton: 141
Snider: 140
Doby: 136
Gore: 136
Averill: 133
Hines: 131
Duffy: 122
Ashburn: 111
Carey: 107

Black Ink:
Cobb: 150
Mantle: 65
Mays: 57
Hamilton: 43
Duffy: 38
Speaker: 34
DiMaggio: 34
Ashburn: 32
Carey: 32
Hines: 30
Snider: 28
Gore: 19
Doby: 18
Averill: 6

Grey Ink:
Cobb: 417
Speaker: 346
Mays: 337
Mantle: 272
DiMaggio: 226
Hines: 186
Snider: 183
Ashburn: 156
Carey: 148
Duffy: 147
Averill: 145
Hamilton: 132
Gore: 125
Doby: 124

Defensive Win Shares Grades and retro-Gold Gloves:
Speaker: A+ / 11
Carey: A+ / 10
Mays: A+ / 10
Ashburn: A+ / 8
DiMaggio: A+ / 8
Gore: A+ / 7
Duffy: A+ / 4
Hamilton: A / 2
Doby: A / 1
Hines: A- / 7
Averill: A- / 4
Snider: A- / 4
Mantle: B+ / 5
Cobb: B+ / 3

Yearly accomplishments as a hitter – Duffy would be among the bottom half in the group, but center field has the highest concentration of great hitters with long careers.
Fielding accomplishments: Duffy meets these.
Career numbers: See question #7 on previous page. Duffy is consistent in the middle of many HoMers of his era and he and Delahanty had the best totals of the 1890s.

9. Is there evidence to suggest the player was SIGNIFICANTLY better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Team’s record: Duffy’s teams overachieved based on their runs scored/runs allowed almost every year. I agree with the idea that the players should receive credit for their team’s achievements. I know win shares does this, but think that we are missing something about the great Boston teams of the 1890s.

Stolen bases. Duffy stole 574 bases, the vast majority under the old-style rules. Duffy is 21st all-time and 7th among the old-style players behind Hamilton’s 912, Latham’s 739, Tom Brown’s 657, George Davis’ 616, Dummy Hoy’s 594, and Van Haltren’s 583. We don't have caught stealing data so we don't know if there is a hidden positive or negative.

Ground Into Double Plays: Don't have the information to see if he was Jim Rice or Craig Biggio.

Hitting and Running / Small ball: The hit and run was created by he and Tommy McCarthy. Either that or they perfected it to such a degree that current-day observers were amazed.
Duffy was considered a brainy player I believe.

Clutch: I have no information about whether he was considered clutch or not.

Conclusion: I believe Duffy may have been better than his numbers to a degree because of the way his teams, specifically the Boston ones, were able to consistently perform better than expected by their runs scored and runs allowed. I believe he was an excellent base runner. I believe he played a key role in creating or perfecting the motion and running offense. I do not know if those are sufficient markers to meet the “significant” requirement.
22. Kelly in SD Posted: May 02, 2006 at 02:55 AM (#2000496)
   105. rawagman Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:47 PM (#2179360)
Hugh Duffy Keltner List Part 6 of 6

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Merit but not in?

A little more depth.
My top 11 eligible center fielders are Berger, Browning, Duffy, Fielder Jones, Alejandro Ohms, Spots Poles, Roush, Ryan, Thomas, Van Haltren, and Wilson.

Career Win Shares (schedule adjusted/war credit/minor league credit for screwy team management.) and unadjusted totals.
384 – Van Haltren – 344
353 – Poles – 327
351 – Ryan – 316
340 – Ohms
324 – Duffy – 295
321 – Roush – 314
305 – Jones – 290
293 – Browning – 225
270 – Thomas – 260
241 – Berger
224 – Wilson

Peak - 3 consecutive years - adjusted for season length only
102 – Browning
101 – Duffy
95 – Berger
95 – Wilson
92 – Roush
92 – Ryan
87 – Ohms
87 – Poles
87 – Van Haltren
85 – Thomas
84 – Jones

Per 648 Plate Apps:
27.7 – Berger
27.4 – Browning
26.6 - Wilson
26.3 – Thomas
25.8 – Roush
25.0 – Van Haltren
24.7 – Duffy
24.6 – Jones
24.5 – Poles
24.3 – Ohms
22.6 – Ryan

STATS all-stars then Win Shares All-Stars:
8 – Browning – 5
7 – Ohms – credit from various sources
5 – Roush – 5
5 – Wilson – 4
3 – Berger – 3
3 – Poles
2 - Duffy – 5
2 – Ryan – 2
1 – Jones – 5
1 – Thomas – 4
0 – Van Haltren - 2

162 – Browning
144 – Wilson
138 – Berger
126 – Roush
125 – Ohms
124 – Ryan
123 – Thomas
122 – Duffy
121 – Van Haltren
111 – Jones
Poles - unknown

Black Ink:
38 – Duffy
31 – Wilson
21 – Browning
17 – Thomas
14 – Roush
12 – Ryan
9 – Berger
7 – Van Haltren
0 - Jones
Poles and Ohms – no figures

Grey Ink:
147 – Browning
147 – Duffy
125 – Roush
121 – Van Haltren
116 – Ryan
110 – Wilson
103 - Berger
67 – Thomas
61 – Jones

A+: Berger, Duffy, Jones
A: Poles
A-: Roush, Thomas
B+: Ryan
B/B+: Ohms
B: Van Haltren
C+: Browning, Wilson

11. How many MVP-type seasons did the player have? Did the player ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

First, there was no MVP award during his career so he could never have won one. I think Duffy would be a strong candidate in 1891, 1892, and 1893 as he was the best position player on pennant winning teams. I think Duffy was an obvious MVP candidate with his triple crown domination year of 1894.

Second, from my examination of his career, it looks like he had several, as many as 6, MVP-type seasons. A win shares season of 30 or more is an MVP-type season. After adjusting for season-length, Duffy had years of 29, 32, 29, 33, 39, and 29.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did the player have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other player who played in his many go into the Hall of Merit?

There were no all-star games during his career.

How many all-star type seasons did he have? 5 years as the league's best at his position. A season of 20-30 win shares is an all-star type year and Duffy had 3 between 20 and 27 after adjusting for schedule length. So he had 9 years between an All-star and MVP type years.

13. If this man were the best on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I would say yes. He was the best player on two teams that won pennants. He was the 3rd best player on three other pennant winners.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipement? Did he change the game in any way?

Along with Tommy McCarthy, the perfection and popularization of the hit-and-run and “brainy ballplaying”

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guideline, instructs us to consider?

Non-applicable, but I have no information that Duffy was an #######, a killer, a racist, a gambler, had a bad temper, frequently assaulted people, or a convicted violent felon.
   106. rawagman Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2179361)
All "Keltner-list" caveats apply.
   107. Cblau Posted: August 18, 2007 at 02:10 AM (#2490194)
From the 2003 ballot thread:
I commented to Joe then that I would bet $1 that Van Haltren was hugely leveraged in a negative way. I haven't done the research and there were lots of double headers then and maybe he was just the 2nd game starter (even at that wouldn't it mean he drew a weaker opposing pitcher regardless of the team's record?) but I'll bet you Anson was mostly starting him against the lesser teams in the league.

Van Haltren's first game was June 27, 1887. He pitched regularly for the rest of the season, although he was clearly the third starter behind Clarkson and Baldwin. Van Haltren did start several games against both Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch. If I counted correctly, he started 9 of the team's 49 games against the top 4 teams in the league (excluding Chicago) while he was with them, and 9 of 38 games against the bottom 3 teams. (That includes 3 games vs. Boston that were thrown out; VH didn't start any of those.)

In 1888, he was the opening day starter and pitched regularly until July 27, after which he only started one game (sore arm, or did Anson decide he'd rather have VH in LF?) He started games against Keefe and Welch, as well as Clarkson, Radbourn, Morris, etc. 13 of his starts (ignoring the last one) were against the other 4 over .500 clubs in 44 team games, while he made 10 starts against the bottom 3 clubs in 30 team games. In the two years, he started the second game of a double header once.

In 1890, Van Haltren was a regular starter until July 4, after which he made 2 starts. He was again the opening day starter. Up to July 4, he started 15 of 42 games against the other 4 clubs that finished over .500, 10 of 22 against the weaker 3 teams.

I think that adds up to minor leveraging, maybe more in 1890. Looks like you owe Joe $1 (Joe, I'm expecting a cut.)
   108. Mike Webber Posted: August 18, 2007 at 02:16 AM (#2490224)

well I was ahead at poker at the convention - which proves that luck is more important than skill in the short run - so I guess I can't really complain.

Thanks for the research CBlau! I guess :) It is interesting though, isn't it?
   109. Paul Wendt Posted: September 04, 2007 at 04:53 PM (#2511178)
I should have moved this earlier. Sorry about that.

"2004 Ballot" #15,
15. Howie Menckel Posted: September 03, 2007 at 05:07 PM (#2510178)
[quoting rwagman]
"1)Hugh Duffy - Super peak, wonderful prime. Amazing bat, super glove. (PHOM)"

Which years were amazing at bat?

1894 - 177 OPS+, YES

1891 - 147 OPS+ in laughable 1891 AA, which pretty much consisted of stud Dan Brouthers and a bunch of guys named Jersey Bakely, Elmer Cleveland, and Ed Eiteljorge, so NO

1897 - 127 OPS+, top 10 goes only down to 133 OPS+, 8th in Runs Created, 3rd in RBI, 6th in R. Strong. But amazing?

1895 - 126 OPS+, top 10 goes only down to 147 (!), and a top 10-less year all-around, so NO

His 2nd-best year might be 1890 in a pretty good Players League. I'll give you that one (RC, H, Total Bases among the top 3s that year. very nice, the 123 OPS+ underrates his offense this time).

But Duffy was in the adj top 10 OPS+ just once in his career (outside of 1891).

I'm not amazed by his bat.

28. Paul Wendt Posted: September 04, 2007 at 11:13 AM (#2511062)
[quoting Chris Cobb to rwagman on Reggie Smith]
"But Oliva has the black ink . . . as does Hugh Duffy, for that matter."

Duffy has james ink too, part of what someone calls "Win Shares biggest mistake".

Hugh Duffy, rank in league by Win Shares, ignoring pitchers and ties
1888 - 10ws
1889 - 17ws
1890 - #3 behind OF Van Haltren and SS Ward
1891 - #3 behind OF Brown (his teammate in center) and 1B Brouthers (another teammate)
1892 - #5 behind 1B Brouthers, SS Dahlen and 2B Childs, OF Smith
1893 - #1 (tie with OF Delahanty, #7 overall behind six pitchers)
1894 - #1 (#6 overall behind five pitchers)
1895 - #10 with outfielders Burkett, Delahanty, and Hamilton #1-2-3 among four others (7)
1896 - 17ws
1897 - #8 behind outfielders Keeler, Clarke, Hamilton, and Kelley #1-3-5-6
1898 - #13 behind outfielders Hamilton, Delahanty, Van Haltren and Burkett #2-2-6-6 and three others (7)
1899 - 17ws
1900 - 5ws
1901 - 8ws

That is rank among outfielders 2-2-2-1-1 in five seasons 1890-1894.

29. TomH Posted: September 04, 2007 at 11:28 AM (#2511075)
"> But Oliva has the black ink . . . as does Hugh Duffy, for that matter.
Duffy has james ink too, part of what someone calls "Win Shares biggest mistake"."

Those anonymous detractors! Come out from the shadows and debate! :)

Duffy's black ink, largely 1894, is a benefit of the Fenway / Coors / Citizens Bank park factor of his day.
And his "James ink" (Win Shares); yes, some of us are indeed skeptical.

30. karlmagnus Posted: September 04, 2007 at 11:31 AM (#2511080)
As I've said on a number of occasions, WS overrates centerfielders in the 1890s and underrates 1B. If you compare Duffy to the immortal Jake (who was 9 months younger) Duffy wins in terms of OPS+ in 1894 (of course), 1891 (in a weak AA), 1892 and marginally 1897. Jake wins in 1888, 1889, 1890, 1893, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900 and 1901. Then Duffy more or less retires while Jake goes on to have 5 more productive seasons. Duffy's 1894 is an excellent season, though not close to the top 100 OPS+ all time (177 vs the 100th 190). Nonetheless the comparison is Exhibit#1 in demonstrating that particular inaccuracy of WS.

34. Paul Wendt Posted: September 04, 2007 at 12:38 PM (#2511148)
Duffy, Boston AA 1891
"1891 - #3 behind OF Brown (his teammate in center) and 1B Brouthers (another teammate)"

Oddly, Tom Brown (mlb 1882-1898) played mainly the corners in the 1880s, then exclusively CF in the 1890s: almost 1000 games with only 3 corner games.
   110. Paul Wendt Posted: September 08, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2516105)
In "Battle of the Uber-Stat Systems" #312 ff there is some discussion of Win Shares illustrated by Hugh Duffy and Sam Thompson 1892.
Quoting myself,
Wins above Pythagorean projection, Boston NL 1891-99
2 <u>8 8 5 0 1 2 4 0</u>

bold - excellent team, .625 or better (7 of 9 seasons)
<u>underline</u> - Hugh Duffy a regular outfielder (8 of 9 seasons, four cf then four rf)

That is nine seasons of success equal to or greater than Pythagorean projection, +30 wins in sum, but more than half of that is +8 +8 in 1892 and 1893 (winning two pennants, the former a split-season plus playoff).

During those nine seasons Boston won 13 of the 72 "win shares gold gloves", including Billy Nash and Hugh Duffy in 1892, Nash in 1893.

Career win shares gold gloves for regular fielders, Boston NL 1891-99 (bold: wsgg while playing for these nine teams)
C - Bennett 81-82-86-90, Kittridge 01
1B - Tucker 87-88-90, Tenney 02-04-05
2B - Lowe 98-99-02
SS - Long 91-02
3B - Nash 88-89-90-92-93-94, Collins 97-99-00-01-03
OF - McCarthy 88, Brodie 91-93-95-96, Duffy 90-92-98-99, Hamilton 97-00, Stahl 00-01
   111. Paul Wendt Posted: September 08, 2007 at 01:50 AM (#2516117)
number of win shares gold gloves, Boston NL 1891-99
2 2 1 1 0 0 2 2 3

bold - excellent team, .625 or better (7 of 9 seasons)
   112. Paul Wendt Posted: September 08, 2007 at 02:20 AM (#2516224)
Joe Quinn 90 should be listed too.

Boston NL 1891-99, regular fielders who won win shares gold gloves sometime in their careers
1891 - 23456*8_ ; * LF Bobby Lowe, later wsgg at 2B
1892 - _3456*89 ; * LF Bobby Lowe, later wsgg at 2B
1893 - 2345678_
1894 - _345678_
1895 - _345678_
1896 - _345678_ ; plus backup C-OF Fred Tenney, later wsgg at 1B
1897 - _3456789
1898 - _3456789
1899 - _3456789

numerals 2 to 9 represent the fielding positions C to RF
<u>_</u> represents a regular fielder who never won a win shares gold glove

<u>That is, at six fielding positions Boston for nine seasons always fielded a sometime wsgg winner</u>
1B - six seasons Tommy Tucker then three Fred Tenney
2B - two Joe Quinn, seven Bobby Lowe
3B - five Billy Nash, four Jimmy Collins
SS - nine Herman Long
LF - two Bobby Lowe (wsgg at 2B), three Tommy McCarthy, four Hugh Duffy
CF - one Steve Brodie, four Hugh Duffy, four Billy Hamilton

Otherwise the rightfielder was a sometime wsgg winner in four seasons (underlined): Harry Stovey '91, <u>Tommy McCarthy '92</u>, Cliff Carroll '93, Jimmy Bannon '94-96, <u>Chick Stahl '97-99</u>
Four-time-including-1890 wsgg catcher Charlie Bennett played 75, 35, and 60 games at the position in 1891-92-93, making him the "regular" catcher in '91 and '93.
   113. mulder & scully Posted: September 08, 2007 at 07:49 PM (#2516769)
Boston definitely needed 2 CFs when they moved into the third South End Grounds in July 20, 1894. The second one burned May 15, 1894. These dimensions are taken from
Left field foul pole was 250 feet
Left-Center was 445
Deep Left-Center was 450
Center was 440
Right-Center was 440
Right field foul pole was 255

There was a 20 foot wall in right field also, but I don't know for how long it extended. There are many photos from the outfield looking toward home or from one side of the stands to the other, but nothing from home looking out. The park did have a huge amount of foul ground.

Looking at an architectural diagram found on Boston Publid Library's website, the park is similar to the Polo Grounds. The park fit the lot, a long narrow one. The lot was angled slightly - like a trapezoid - but not symmetrical. There were 250 feet foul poles, then the outfield fence ran along the property lines out to the end of the property. I'm guessing the angle at the foul pole to the outfield fence at about 135 degrees.

I can understand how "brainy"/good defensive players could take advantage of the fields size and shape - knowing how to play the corners, taking advantage of the foul territory. I don't know if they did this, but the field looks narrow enough that you could play 2 outfielders and bring the 3rd up as a fifth infielder or short-fielder.

This doesn't have much to do with Duffy, but I thought it was interesting.
   114. progrockfan Posted: December 31, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5912009)
For the past several months I’ve been doing my due diligence, combing through the history of baseball to better educate myself as a HoM voter.

To this point I’ve been advocating Luke Easter as the #1 omission from the HoM. I’ve documented his case to my own satisfaction – but I’m saving that proof for another place.

But in the course of my research, I’ve found another player who I believe is also a major omission – and this time, the proof is there for all to see. Allow me to focus on the HoM qualifications of Hugh Duffy.

* * *

In an odd way, Duffy’s 1894 season is, I think, sometimes held against him. The distance from the pitchers’ mound to the plate was changed from 50 to 60½ feet for the 1893 season, decreasing the velocity of the ball as it crossed the plate and giving the hitters a longer look before swinging. Averages skyrocketed across baseball; in 1894, four players besides Duffy chalked up .400+ averages. Duffy took greater advantage of this change than any other player, winning back-to-back NL batting championships in 1893 (.363) and 1894 (his famous .440).

Duffy’s success cannot be wholly ascribed to the change in batters’ circumstances in 1893. He was already an established high-average hitter, having finished second in the AA batting race in 1891 (.336 to Dan Brouthers’s .350), and being one of only nine NL hitters to finish above .300 in 1892. In the final analysis, Duffy has held the record for highest single-season batting average for 125 years and counting, and how can that not count in his favor?

Fortunately, the argument for Duffy has numerous facets beyond this single (albeit important) record. I’ve read the HoM thread on Duffy very carefully, and will try to summarize my arguments as succinctly as possible, without re-tracing too much ground that’s already been covered:

* In every season in which he played, Duffy was a well above-average player – and from 1890-1894, was probably the best position player in baseball.

* For the decade of the 1890s, Duffy led all players in multiple offensive categories, and was near the top in many more.

* Duffy was one of the two most durable players of his time.

* Duffy was a fabulous defensive outfielder.

* Duffy was the greatest post-season hitter of the 19th century.

Addressing these points in turn:

* * *

* In every season in which he played, Duffy was a well above-average player – and from 1890-1894, was probably the best position player in baseball.

The argument that Duffy was probably baseball’s best position player for the first half of the 1890s has been admirably put by @rawagaman, and I won’t repeat it here, other than to reiterate that he led all position players with 144 Win Shares for this half-decade stretch – the basis for a formidable peak argument, if one happens to agree with the methodology.

As for being above average in every season in which he played, I’ve A/B’d Duffy against the leagues in which he played in seven calculated stats: batting average, OBP, slugging, isolated power, secondary average, OPS, and OPS+.

Over the course of his career, Duffy out-performed his leagues by 52 points in batting average, 47 points in OBP, 85 points in slugging, 33 points in isolated power, 74 points in secondary average, 132 points in OPS, and 28.3 points in OPS+. Not counting 1906, when he came to the plate exactly once, on a year-by-year basis Duffy out-performed his league in 103 of 112 (92%) of possible calculated categories.

Duffy’s .300+ average in each of his four professional leagues is a mark of consistency, but here’s a better one: he out-performed all four of the professional leagues in which he played in all seven calculated offensive categories. It’s perfectly true, as @Chris Cobb notes, that “hitting .302 in 79 games is not exactly dominating the [1901 AL]” – but he was nonetheless above league average in every category, including +.025 in batting and +.068 in slugging.

Mr. Cobb cites Duffy as “strong on batting average and home runs, not as strong on walks”, which is correct in and of itself, but this is hardly Andre Dawson we’re talking about here: he was in the top half of 1890s players in walks per plate appearance, and his OBP advantage vs. league is +.047, only five points below his batting advantage of +052.

Duffy played in hitter’s parks; that’s incontrovertible. How much of a discount you apply for this is up to you. Overall, I find the package compelling. The strength of Duffy’s OBP and secondary average vs. league norms convince me that while he was undoubtedly aided by his park, the man could flat-out hit.

* Duffy led all 1890s players in multiple offensive categories, and was near the top in many more.

For the decade of the 1990s, Duffy ranked:

1st in games
1st in at bats
1st in plate appearances
2nd in runs scored
1st in hits
2nd in doubles
1st in home runs
3rd in extra-base hits
2nd in total bases
1st in runs batted in
3rd in stolen bases (mostly under the old rules)

Duffy’s high counting totals are partly thanks to his extreme durability (see below), but he was not merely a compiler, winning two batting titles, one title in OPS, two in hits, one in doubles, two in home runs. He was first in both at bats and plate appearances, but fourth in outs made.

Duffy was an efficient baserunner, ranking sixth in the decade with .201 runs scored per plate appearance (caveat: this percentage was boosted by the high offensive levels of his team). While we don’t have GIDP data for this period, his .301 secondary average (74 points above league) and reputation as an excellent defender in center field, a position requiring healthy foot speed, would seem to indicate a player who could likely avoid the double play at an above-average rate.

Duffy cannot be considered the dominant batsman of the 1890s; Ed Delahanty, Jesse Burkett, Dan Brouthers and Willie Keeler all rate as superior in my book. But Duffy’s got to be right up there; he’s second only to Delahanty in 1890s black ink, and when he retired as a full-time player after the 1901 season his 106 career home runs ranked fifth all time.

* * *

* Duffy was one of the two most durable players of his era.

From 1889 to 1898 Duffy played 1350 of 1380 possible games, or 97.8%. His only rival for the distinction of his era’s most durable player was fellow center fielder George Van Haltren, who from 1891 to 1900 played 1389 of 1411 possible games, or 98.4%. For the decade of the 1890s Duffy out-performed Van Haltren 97.5% (1361 of 1396) to 95.5% (1340 of 1403).

* Duffy was a fabulous defensive outfielder.

The image of Duffy as an outstanding defender has remained constant through time. Hall of Famer Fred Clarke described him as “a really great center fielder”; his manager Cap Anson raved that he “play[ed] the outfield carrying a crystal ball” and was “always there to make the catch”; Alfred Spink cited Duffy as “a magnificent fielder”; his contemporaries on the Hall of Fame Veterans’ Committee memorialized him as “brilliant as a defensive outfielder”.

Advanced metrics support these contemporary observations. Bill James rates Duffy as an A+ outfielder, awards him five retrospective Gold Gloves, and names him to the 1890s Win Shares Gold Glove team.

* Duffy was the greatest post-season hitter of the 19th century.

In the 1892 Championship Series Duffy keyed Boston’s 5-0-1 rout of Cleveland, leading both teams in batting (.462), slugging (.846), OPS (1.328), hits (12), total bases (22) and RBI (9). No player on either team had more than two extra-base hits apart from Duffy, who had six. Had the award existed, Duffy would unquestionably have been named Series MVP.

There’s no surviving box score for the game of September 27, 1897 which secured Boston the league championship – but we do know that Duffy ignited the decisive rally with a 7th inning leadoff single, and scored the winning run on a double by Herman Long. In aid of a losing effort in the ensuing Temple Cup series Duffy was once again extremely effective, hitting .524/.545/.619 with 6 runs scored and 7 RBI in five games.

In the 11 games comprising the 1892 and 1897 playoff series, Duffy hit .489/.510/.745 with five doubles, two triples and one home run, scoring 9 runs and driving in 16. That’s the greatest post-season batting record of the 19th century, and still ranks as one of the greatest of all time.

Duffy had a contemporary reputation as a clutch hitter, with Alfred Spink writing that “he was one of the best men in an emergency the game has ever known” – but I doubt that even his most ardent supporters would have cited him as the greatest post-season hitter of the 19th century. Of the many things I learned about Duffy in the course of my research, this is the one that took me completely by surprise. The conclusion is nonetheless inescapable.

* * *

Duffy obviously can’t be named the greatest player of the 1890s, as he shares the decade with Kid Nichols. Nor can I cite him as the greatest position player of the 1890s, who I see as Ed Delahanty. But Duffy’s got a decent peak, great defense, superb durability, numerical dominance of a full decade, and genuine post-season excellence. Considering the total package, I personally see Duffy as at least the equal of Willie Keeler, and as such, deserving of a place in the Hall of Merit.

It’s easy to understand why voters might regard Duffy, Ryan and Van Haltren as more or less interchangeable as candidates, but I don’t see it that way. To my eyes, Duffy rates as superior to Ryan – and, for that matter, to Edd Roush – on peak, baserunning, defense and durability. Van Haltren is a tougher comparison. Duffy wins on peak and power, GVH on career length and a not-insubstantial pitching bonus; a small edge, in my estimation, to Duffy. Their OBP and OPS+ are exactly equal – but as Duffy played in hitter’s parks, this should be interpreted as a small edge to GVH; durability I see as a dead draw between them; baserunning is a small edge to Duffy, who tallied more runs and steals per PA than GVH. It’s probably not fair to give Duffy a bonus for his post-season credentials, as GVH had no such opportunities. As to defense, while GVH was a plus defender and likely had the better arm, Duffy was clearly superior overall, a truly great defender at all three outfield positions. For what it’s worth, Duffy also holds two all-time records that can safely be considered unbreakable. I’m a confirmed Van Haltren fan, he’s one of my favorite players of all time – but I see Duffy as ahead by a healthy margin, and will rank him in an elect-me slot on this year’s ballot.
   115. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 31, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5912017)
This is apropos of little to the HOM, but Hugh Duffy was probably one of history's worst long-time managers.
535-671, .444, -31 v pypthagenpat, 0 titles, 0 WS appearances

I've done a lot of looking into managers, and the only definitively worse than Duffy are Buddy Bell and Jimmie Wilson who were both absolutely terrible. Duffy is in a battle for third worst with the likes of Jim Riggleman. I base this on a mashup stat I created that looks at Z-Scores in categories such as
WS wins
WS appearances
Playoff appearances
WS wins vs expected
WS appearances vs expected
Playoff appearances vs expected
+/- vs Pythagenpat
+/- vs Pythagenpat win%
+/- wins vs expectations (which is based on old James equation for team expectations, I think from his manager's book, which talks a lot about the Plexiglass Principle)
+/- vs expected win%
+/- vs historically adjusted wins (which takes into account the unusual spread of team winning percentages prior to the war and especially 1871 through the deadball era)
+/- vs historically adjusted win%

Take that altogether, and Hugh Duffy looks awful! Out of the 135 managers, including actives, with 1,000+ games managed, he ranks
123rd in wins
130th in win%
109th in WS wins vs expected
t-64th in number of WS wins (tied at zero, of course)
t-88th in WS appearances (at zero, of course)
t-86th in WS appearances vs expected
t-66th in playoff appearances (at zero, of course)
t-36 in playoff appearances vs expected
131st in +/- vs Pythagenpat
133rd in +/- vs Pythagenpat win%
134th in +/- wins vs expectations
133rd in +/- vs expected win%
122nd in historically adjust wins
129th in historically adjusted win%

He was really, really bad at managing.

We now return to discussion of his play.
   116. progrockfan Posted: January 02, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5912297)

Bill James summarizes Duffy's managerial tenure as "painful". ;)
   117. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 08, 2020 at 11:16 PM (#5914060)
I gave Duffy another look. His case is actually quite similar to a CF counterpart 100 years later: Andruw Jones.

Jones was a dominant player in his twenties and fell apart, posting 1.7 WAR after his age-30 season. Duffy has an uncannily parallel career arc, dominating in his twenties and posting a mere 3.5 WAR after his age-31 season.

I don't have Jones on my 2020 ballot, but I know a lot of voters do and I find it inconsistent to support him but not Duffy.
   118. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 09, 2020 at 04:51 AM (#5914075)
440. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 02, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5912298)
Regarding Duffy and contemporary Griffin, same era, same playing time, it's hard to separate one from the other, 12 season comparisons...
HD: 1888-1899, 6902 PA, 119 wRC+, 169/606 PA, 136/601, 126/614, 126/621, 124/611, 122/673, 118/657, 112/308, 105/645, 102/632, 95/601, 85/641.
MG: 1887-1898, 6832 PA, 122 wRC+, 140/631 PA, 139/484, 130/524, 128/637, 122/625, 122/429, 119/595, 116/556, 114/610, 113/602, 112/579, 107/560.

As to defense, Win Shares was a big supporter, but the others not as much:
HD: +4.9 B-R/TZ, +7.2 B-G/DRA
MG: +5.2 B-R/TZ, +12.4 B-G/DRA

Duffy was a bit better baserunner, and adds two partial seasons (1900 and 1901) with some value and was more durable in-season, but these guys are close.
I trust DRA more than TZ, so I've got Griffin ahead of Duffy.

Mike Tiernan is an eligible OF at a similar level, more offense at wRC+ 132 @ 6716 PA, but only scratch defense in RF, a bit worse baserunner.

Let's throw in the modern Andruw Jones as a comparison:
HD: 1888-1899, 6902 PA, 119 wRC+, 169/606 PA, 136/601, 126/614, 126/621, 124/611, 122/673, 118/657, 112/308, 105/645, 102/632, 95/601, 85/641.
AJ: 1997-2007, 7163 PA, 114 wRC+, 134/672 PA, 130/659, 127/729, 124/669, 118/659, 113/631, 112/679, 112/646, 97/693, 96/467, 86/659.
Andruw has more in-season durability, but Hugh was a better hitter and baserunner, Jones added a dash more of value outside of these years vs Duffy.

Playing in a modern league at all-time or close defensive value, Andruw has lept to my #1 ballot spot.

Ardo's comment holds well with a review with win shares, though I don't believe it does with WAR's assessment of Duffy's defense.
   119. progrockfan Posted: January 09, 2020 at 09:32 AM (#5914096)
As it concerns one of my elect-me slots…

@117: “I don't have Jones on my 2020 ballot, but I know a lot of voters do and I find it inconsistent to support him but not Duffy.”

I agree with this completely – especially as Duffy was a much better hitter, in the context of his own time, than Andruw was in his. There’s the twelve-point difference in career OPS+ - and then there’s this:

Top 5 finishes in a range of offensive categories

     Duffy  Andruw
G      4      3
H      6      1
1B     6      0
2B     3      0
3B     0      1
HR     3      2
RBI    2      1
TB     7      2
Outs   2      2
R      6      1
RBI    5      2
SB     2      0
BA     3      0
OBP    2      0
SLG    1      1
OPS    2      0
+   2      0
OWAR   2      0
RC     3      0

Neither player was historically great offensively, neither was close. Having said that, Duffy has two home run crowns to Andruw’s one, and matches Andruw’s one RBI title – plus, Duffy adds a title in runs scored, two titles in hits, a title in doubles, a title in total bases, two batting championships and an OPS crown.

Obviously Andruw was historically great defensively (though Duffy was no slouch himself). Given the magnitude of his defensive impact, I can easily see giving Andruw a higher ballot place than Duffy; I don’t agree, but I can see it.

To me it would be a bit like ranking Ozzie Smith over Cal Ripken Jr.; Ozzie (like Andruw) has the historic glove, and (like Andruw) could hit a little too, but Cal (like Duffy) has a much better rounded offensive skill set, and (like Duffy) was no defensive slouch himself. (Please don’t dissect this comparison to death; it’s a quick & dirty head-to-head to illustrate a point, and not an exercise in mathematical precision. ;) )

What I can’t see, or justify logically, is giving a ballot place to Andruw and leaving Duffy completely off-ballot – unless, that is, you value Andruw's defense far, far above Duffy's blend of high-performance offensive and defensive skills. And I cannot agree with that position.

Ymmv as always.
   120. progrockfan Posted: January 09, 2020 at 09:34 AM (#5914097)
May I add that the closer I look, the more I see a substantial gap between Duffy and Van Haltren, and a yawning gap between Duffy and Ryan.

I think lumping Duffy into the same thread with Ryan and Van Haltren actually might do Duffy's case a mild psychological disservice in the minds of some voters.

I know they were lumped together due to perceived similarities, but I'm thinking more and more strongly that these similarities are mostly superficial, and that Duffy is by far the greatest of the three.
   121. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 09, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5914101)
Prog, comparing finishes in offensive categories in a 12 team league v a 30 team league is deeply problematic.
   122. progrockfan Posted: January 09, 2020 at 10:16 AM (#5914104)

Very true, Doctor, and an excellent point.

It doesn't belie the fact that Duffy had more impact offensively in his time than Andruw had in his. But I cannot dispute your thesis.
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