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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Heinie Groh and Tommy Leach

Two players who deserves a closer look at…

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 23, 2004 at 03:17 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 26, 2004 at 08:57 PM (#879262)
I see there isn't much discussion gong on here...

I do want to see what more people have to say in regards to Leach vs. the outfielders. He is a player that may very well make a large jump (from 17 to maybe like 9 or 10) on my next ballot but I am not sure about him. I have him as the second best 3B on the ballot, but where he fits since he spent half his years in center field is giving me problems.
   2. TomH Posted: October 14, 2004 at 02:40 PM (#915937)
using the two ubersystems
...careerWS WSrate |||| WARP1 yrs
Groh. 271 ..26.2 |||||| 103 12
Leach 329 ..24.7 ||||||| 118 17

By career WS, Leach wins. If I use a replacement WSrate of 13/yr, they are even.

By WARP, Leach wins by 15 runs overall, and 5 extra runs per year in the 5 more years he played.

Without league qual adjustments, Leach looks a bit better. Gorh has about 13 years on the timeline advantage.

Leach has somewhat better post-season stats. Both excelled i deadball. Groh's career ended in the live ball era, but he did not adjust very well (or else he merely got old).

Maybe Groh deserves an advantage for getting beat up at 3B his whole career (possible reason for shorter carreer length?)

All in all, I'm not sure why we collectively have Groh so much higher. Maybe an emphasis by those who value peak seasons?
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 14, 2004 at 03:23 PM (#916018)
All in all, I'm not sure why we collectively have Groh so much higher. Maybe an emphasis by those who value peak seasons?


Maybe Groh deserves an advantage for getting beat up at 3B his whole career (possible reason for shorter carreer length?)

IMO, there should be no maybe there.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: October 14, 2004 at 06:18 PM (#916389)
Maybe, but I put Leach onto my ballot last time, and likely will keep him there.
Even mere 'half-credit' for his 3B efforts is worth more credit than he's gotten.
   5. PhillyBooster Posted: October 14, 2004 at 09:29 PM (#916786)
If I can add a third player I am struggling with into the mix:


Groh: 271/103/3B

By what system may Groh be placed above Leach based upon peak and time at the abusive position of 3B, that would not also place Leach above Carey, due to the exact same factors?

Groh only played 350 more games at 3B than Leach (1300 to 950). Leach played 950 more games at 3B than Carey.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 14, 2004 at 11:24 PM (#916989)
By what system may Groh be placed above Leach based upon peak and time at the abusive position of 3B, that would not also place Leach above Carey, due to the exact same factors?

I don't have Leach or Carey on my ballot, so I can't be accused of being inconsistent. :-)

Groh only played 350 more games at 3B than Leach (1300 to 950).

Groh also played 325 games at the physically demanding position of 2B.
   7. PhillyBooster Posted: October 15, 2004 at 02:42 AM (#917222)
Hm, perhaps, then, I can lead you in the opposite direction, Mr. Murphy, and introduce you to a player who played an even more demanding position?

Roger Bresnahan played over 1000 games at very demanding positions -- 975 at catcher, and another 100+ at 2B/SS/3B. And that is assuming that we consider his 200+ games in CF to be at an "easy" position.

If Groh's "hard position" mojo leaps him over players with more WS, how about a man with slightly fewer WS at an even tougher defensive position (and, I might add, a higher OPS+)?

This meanwhile, might be another place to point out the importance of the "rate" you look at in your rate calcuations. While different players take longer to reach 162 games, different players also have more opportunities per game.



Bresnahan: 231
Groh: 272

WS/162 games:

Bresnahan: 25.88
Groh: 26.29

WS/600 PA

Bresnahan: 25.79
Groh: 23.20

Groh may have had the better rate "per game", by a half WS per season, Bresnahan actually was better "per plate appearance", by a relatively large amount.

At first I assumed this was a deadball/liveball thing, with 1920s players getting more PAs per game than other players, but Bresnahan's contemporary stars were all getting between 4.0 and 4.3 PAs per game, much closer to Groh's number (4.2) than Bresnahan's (3.7).

My theory is that it's mostly a catcher thing. If your team is up 6-0 in the 6th inning, maybe you take out your star catcher to rest his knees for 3 innings. If that's the case, then Bresnahan was actually accomplishing in 3 or 4 PAs what Groh was accomplishing in 4 or 5, and living one plate appearance on the table every other game for some other player to accumulate Win Shares with.
   8. Chris Cobb Posted: October 15, 2004 at 03:26 AM (#917251)

Your point about differences between WS per PA rate versus WS/game rate is brilliant! It may go some way towards explaining why catchers generally have lower WS rates than players at other positions, and it certainly affects my view of how I have been ranking catchers.

Have you looked at Schang's rates also? His rate per game isn't close to Bresnahan's, but if it improves similarly when looked at in terms of PAs instead of games, that would boost him as well as Bresnahan in my rankings.
   9. karlmagnus Posted: October 15, 2004 at 11:59 AM (#917441)
I think Schang stacks up very well indeed against Groh, and against Bresnahan when his much longer career, particularly as a catcher, is factored in. He's debuting about half way up my ballot, which in this year with a lot of top holdovers and a residue of old favorities, is high. Groh hovers around the bottom of the ballot, Bresnahan and Leach some way off it.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 15, 2004 at 01:26 PM (#917477)
It's not that simple for me with the Duke of Tralee. He was undeniably the best player who was primarily a catcher during his time, but he didn't really stand out to the point that he should be high on my ballot. This evaluation can be patently unfair if you are second best behind a Ruth or Bonds, but Bresnahan didn't have a Gibson, Bench or Piazza ahead of him.

I've had Bresnahan on my ballot for a long time until 1934 and he has a good shot of returning again. I'll take another look at him.
   11. sunnyday2 Posted: October 15, 2004 at 01:53 PM (#917502)
What's missing from the discussion above is a consideration of the shape of the career--especially the peak value. To me, what we're really trying to do with peak value is to determine as best we can not only how many runs and wins a player produced, but how many pennants. At least that's my approach, and that plays to peak.

I define peak a little differently than, say, Bill James.

3 years consecutive--to me, if a player is among the best players in baseball for three consecutive years, he is on his way to getting considered, at least, to be a "great player." I don't think it takes 5 consecutive years before a player gets that kind of recognition, so I use 3 consecutive rather than any 3 or 5 consecutive.

best 5 years total--and if you want to ask what a player's peak level of performance was over the course of a career, I think it takes 5 years, not merely 3, to establish that "peak level," so I use 5 total, not 3 total or 5 consecutive.

In addition to that, I believe that from a pennants-added perspective, rates really don't matter (per 162 or per PA). What matters is rate per season (how ever many games he played).

I will acknowledge, however, that there might be something to Matt's suggestion that the play of the great catchers might have been leveraged, but right now that is a hypothesis and there is no real evidence either way as to its validation. But in my final rankings (not reflected in the numbers below I give catchers up to a 30 percent position bonus anyway [30 percent if 100 percent of games played were at catcher], which seems to me to be more than adequate to account for leverage, wear and tear and any other factors unique to the position.

So having said all of that, here are the totals for the players discussed here along with some others who have been paired with the players discussed in this thread.

3 consecutive seasons

adjWS--Groh 107 Roush 99 Leach 86 Bancroft 84 Bresnahan 83 Carey 83 Schang 59

adjWARP1--Groh 37.1 Carey 34.5 Bancroft 33.7 Roush 31.8 Leach 27.4 Bresnahan 23.9 Schang 21.0

adjTPR--Bancroft 15.8 Groh 15.0 Carey 10.9 Roush 10.6 Leach 10.1 Bresnahan 8.0 Schang 7.0

5 best seasons

adjWS--Groh 160 Roush 157 Leach 138 Carey 134 Bresnahan 134 Bancroft 128 Schang 96

adjWARP1--Groh 58.0 Carey 57.1 Bancroft 53.7 Roush 49.7 Leach 48.2 Bresnahan 39.7 Schang 33.4

adjTPR--Bancroft 23.7 Groh 21.8 Carey 19.0 Roush 16.3 Leach 15.1 Bresnahan 13.5 Schang 12.0

Then I use a floating prime based on how many seasons a player performed within 20 percent of his floating average performance level. You get different primes from different measures--e.g. WS, WARP and TPR--and I list all 3 for the number of prime seasons, and then I list the average per prime season for WS and WARP (all are adj to season length).

Carey 13-13-15 years at 23 WS and 8.9 WARP1/year
Schang 9-16-14 years at 17 WS and 4.8 WARP
Roush 10-11-15 years at 25 WS and 7.2 WARP1
Bancroft 10-12-11 years at 23 WS and 8.7 WARP1
Leach 9-9-14 years at 24 WS and 8.3 WARP1
Groh 8-11-12 years at 24 WS and 10.1 WARP1
Bresnahan 6-7-7 years at 26 WS and 7.3 WARP

What makes all of this group hard to judge is 1) WS and WARP see almlost all of them quite differently so it just depends on which measure you prefer, and 2) those with the longer primes played at lower levels, those with short primes had higher peaks.

Being more of a peak (pennants added) voter, I come up with:

1. Groh--highest peak on all 6 measures (WS, WARP, TPR for 3 and 5 years) and highest WARP average prime

2. Carey--excellent peak on WARP and TPR (not WS) and longest prime with 2nd highest WAPR average prime

3. Bancroft--is included because like Carey a high ranking would necessarily be based on his WARP (and/or TPR) defensive values, has an outstanding peak especially 3 years and even on WS.

4. Roush--pretty respectable on all measures though not dominant in any one

5. Leach--respectable on all measures though not dominant on any one

6. Bresnahan--nice prime rates

7. Schang--one of these players is not like the others, though in fairness he had the second longest prime, probably due to frequent rest throughout career.

In summary, none of these guys is an NB though Groh did have a truly outstanding peak. Other Groh at the top and Schang at the bottom, all of these guys are in the 10 to 20 range in the current pool.
   12. Chris Cobb Posted: October 15, 2004 at 02:29 PM (#917540)
Nice peak analysis, Sunnyday2!

Groh's peak does set him apart.

A few notes on Schang in relation to these other guys:

1) I definitely underrated him on my prelim ballot: he's going to move up from 39 to the 20-25 range on my actual ballot.

2) One reason that he moves up is that he is hurt pretty severely in win shares by being stuck on the 1916 Athletics. If one compares his personal batting numbers for that year with surrounding seasons, he was exactly the same player offensively (indeed Schang was tremendously consistent as a hitter, can't imagine why karlmagnus likes him :-) but he earns 5 fewer batting win shares win shares. I think this is a case where Schang deserves more credit that win shares gives him. 5 win shares in one season does not make a huge difference, but it makes some difference.

3) Another reason that Schang moves up is that his rates benefit even more from being calculated in terms of plate appearances instead of games than Bresnahan's do. Following our discussion of Roush vs. Carey, I would make the argument that it's important to give players credit for a high rate of performance, even in pennant-terms. If you have two players with the same number of win shares for a season, the one with the higher rate is more valuable because he used fewer outs, meaning that other players also had opportunities to add value to the team. Unless one has a good, consistent way to establish a zero line for replacement level in one's use of the comprehensive metrics, just looking at seasonal win shares will overrate more durable players. Durability is valuable, and it is rewarded in seasonal totals; high rates are also valuable, and they ought to be rewarded somewhere in one's assessment of merit.

4) Even with a correction to his 1916 win shares and a rate stat based on plate appearances, Schang still isn't ballot-worthy unless one is a pure career voter or gives a really large catcher bonus (neither of which I agree with).

5) Looking ahead at all catchers, I see Bresnahan and Schang as right on the all-time in-out line for the HoM. Maybe they both belong in, maybe neither of them do. It's too early for me to say for sure.
   13. PhillyBooster Posted: October 15, 2004 at 02:38 PM (#917556)
Easy enough to look at:
Groh: 272
Schang: 245 WS
Bresnahan: 231 WS

WS/162 G
Groh: 26.29
Bresnahan: 23.86
Schang: 21.55

WS/600 PA

Bresnahan: 25.79
Groh: 23.20
Schang: 22.87

As you can see, by looking at PA instead of G to compensate for Schang's miniscule 3.49 PA/G, while not enough to catch up to Bresnahan, almost completely closes the 5 WS/162 game with Groh.

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