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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Pitchers Ballot (1893 - 1923)

The inductees for this group are (in alphabetical order):

Pete Alexander
Mordecai Brown
Stan Coveleski
Red Faber
Rube Foster
Clark Griffith
Walter Johnson
Christy Mathewson
Joe McGinnity
Jose Mendez
Kid Nichols
Eddie Plank
Eppa Rixey
Amos Rusie
Rube Waddell
Ed Walsh
Smokey Joe Williams
Cy Young

The election ends April 5 at 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 16, 2009 at 12:34 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 16, 2009 at 12:59 PM (#3104419)
I'll post my ballot at a later date. No need to rush.
   2. karlmagnus Posted: March 19, 2009 at 12:37 AM (#3107947)
OK, I'm traditionally early, so here goes.

I will put the comments that I originally made when they were elected, but the ranking is my current one. Nichols and Walsh are higher than I would have had them at their time of election, McGinnity and Rixey lower. Rube Foster and Mendez would not be in my PHOM.

1. Walter Johnson 1st in 1933 5915IP@147, 417-279 Johnson’s the #2 or #3 player we’ve had so far, and clearly the #1 pitcher.

2. Cy Young 1st in 1917 7355 IP@138, 511-316. Comment lost, alas.

3. Grover Cleveland Alexander. 1st in 1936 373-208, 5093IP@135 Another no-brainer. I agree he was between Matty and the Big Train.

4. Kid Nichols 1st in 1911. 361-208, 5056IP@140. He’s about 2/3 of Cy Young, and would not be No. 1 against Anson, but on the other hand on career value he beats Radbourn, albeit without the 1884 peak. A worthy No. 1, ahead of noble, dogged Joe, but not quite an exceptional one.

5. Christy Mathewson 2nd in 1922 (below Caruthers.)373-188, 4781IP@135 373 wins considerably higher in the pantheon than Nap's 3242 hits, so he narrowly beats out Nap. Should also get extra points for being the first top star "gentleman-ballplayer" and thus expanding the game's reach to the professional classes. Without him, I suspect the skyboxes wouldn't exist, and the really serious sports money wouldn't be in baseball.

6. Smokey Joe Williams 2nd in 1936 Striking out 20 of the 1917 Giants, who won the National League is damn impressive – Clemens’ records weren’t against that level of competition. Level with Matty, behind Alexander sounds about right, even with the putative 400 wins (or 399 per Chris Cobb)

(big gap)

7. Eddie Plank 3rd in 1924 326-194, 4495IP@122 Better W/L and ERA+ than Welch puts him here, beating Brown by over 90 wins.

8. Mordecai Brown 4th in 1925 239-130 and an ERA+ of 138 (3172IP) says he's marginally better than McGinnity. Somebody had to be the keystone of those Cubs, and I think Brown was it, more than Sheckard, and much more than the Trio.

9. Amos Rusie x12th, I think in 1904 3770IP@129, 245-174. Comment lost

10. Ed Walsh 20th in 1920 – I had him rather too low.195-126, 2964 IP. Nice ERA+146, mainly from one superb year, and one very unlucky one, but less than 200 wins and ERA+ presumably inflated by no decline phase. All time #2 in WHIP, but that's a function of era. Better W/L than Waddell, though.

11. Rube Waddell 3rd in 1986. Up again on further reexamination of the minor league credit question. Only 193-143, and only 2961 IP but 134 ERA+, and UER were high but not exceptional. If you give minor league credit, he goes to say 3300-3400IP, and is clearly a HOMer.

12. Clark Griffith 9th in 1971. Credit for 1892-3 moves him up a notch. 3385 IP, 237 wins (say 270 with credit)-146 and an ERA+ of 121 not outstanding, but his winning percentage is good and his 1898 peak is nice.

13. Joe McGinnity 4th in 1928 246-142; 3441IP @120.. Career stats better than Griffith or Rusie; career ERA+ a meaningless stat before 1913.

14. Stan Coveleski 14th in 1938 215-142, 3082 IP@127 More wins than Leever and a similar ERA+, but started at the normal time, and less W/L pct. About the best of his era, but only marginally, and it’s not a very good era.

15. Red Faber 14th in 1939 ERA+ of 119, IP 4086 and 254-213 record, just a bit better than Willis, in a more difficult era. Slightly better ERA+ than Rixey, but fewer IP and worse record.

16. Eppa Rixey 6th in 1968. 266-251 and ERA+ of 115. Huge 4,494 IP. Better than Lyons with WW1 credit. Wynn’s going in and Ruffing has, and Rixey’s better – the Bert Blyleven of his day.

17. Rube Foster 16th in 1932 (weak year- Mendez was 27th) Convinced by looking at Mendez that he was better than I thought, although I remain rather unenthusiastic about him as a player (as distinct from as a pioneer, where he’s clearly HOM-worthy). I9 241-176 doesn’t bowl me over, but his peak was impressive, and there’s enough of a career there to feature, though not towards the top. Will drop in ’34, but may be elected first.

18. Jose Mendez . 71st in 1985. Jose Mendez Even I9 has him below 200 wins, and Chris has him at an ERA+ of 121. Since I think the projections are optimistic anyway (especially I9s) I'll pass, thanks. I think we already have too many NgL players, by any actuarial standard, and I wouldn't elect any more other than possibly Trouppe.
   3. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2009 at 11:51 AM (#3108196)
karlmagnus - who do you like better than those elected from this era and where would you have them? I use your ballots a lot to help me expand my consideration set
   4. karlmagnus Posted: March 19, 2009 at 12:12 PM (#3108202)
DL, thanks. The ballot took so long I forgot to include the extras, as I had meant to do. My extras from this era would be:

10a. Addie Joss 2327IP@142. 160-97, plus some minor credit for posthumous work (he died at 31.) He's a pretty close comp to Walsh, but somewhat shorter career (lower ERA+, but Walsh's is distorted by one fluke year.)

11a. Eddie Cicotte 3223 IP@ERA+of 123, 208-149. Could be just above or just below Griffith. His post-1920 shadow credit adds only modestly.

14a. Sam Leever, 2660IP @123. 194-100 Didn't start till 27 because of baseball's bad economy in the mid 1890s, so should probably get a little extra credit for previous years.

16a. Carl Mays 3021IP @119. 207-126, plus OPS+ of 83. Faber and Rixey beat him on career length, Coveleski slightly on quality, but his hitting moves him above the borderline.
   5. karlmagnus Posted: March 19, 2009 at 12:19 PM (#3108204)
Incidentally, the distribution of pitchers by era is very odd. Smokey Joe Williams is #6 on this ballot, but only about #8-9 overall of eligible pitchers (Clemens might beat him, but not yet eligible.) The gap between 6 and 7 is huge; it includes 3 or even 4 of the 1871-93 guys, and several from each of the later eras.
   6. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2009 at 01:54 PM (#3108251)
I agree, my top 6 from this era are in my top 10 on the big list. Then a 10 pitcher gap to get to Rusie/Plank.
   7. DanG Posted: March 19, 2009 at 07:57 PM (#3108783)
9. Amos Rusie x12th, I think in 1904 3770IP@129, 245-174. Comment lost

karlmagnus' 1904 ballot comment for Rusie rom Internet Archive:

12. (N/A) Amos Rusie Only 245 wins and nothing very special on ERA+ except for 2 seasons. I can’t see him higher than Welch, and nowhere near Radbourn or Galvin. Only a touch above Caruthers, given Caruthers’ hitting and better W-L percentage. Rusie was over-hyped by the NY media, IMHO. Nichols, 2 years older but not eligible for another 6 years, was a LOT better.
   8. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2009 at 08:36 PM (#3108830)
Pitchers 1893-1923 ballot

1) Walter Johnson
2) Cy Young - so much career value, remarkable that 1-2 are closer than 3-4
3) Pete Alexander
4) Smokey Joe Williams - 1-4 on this list are also my 1-4 on the all-time list
5) Christy Mathewson - 8th all-time
6) Kid Nichols - 10th all-time
7) Amos Rusie - Very close to Plank the differences are a slight edge to Rusie hitting and a peak advantage to Rusie
8) Eddie Plank
9) Jose Mendez - hard to peg but he was dominant when he pitched and was certainly one of the best hitters of this group
10) Stan Coveleski - arguably deserves minor league credit
11) Ed Walsh - Lots of peak value but a short career.
12) Rube Waddell - Give him credit for the Western League, strong value above average
(Urban Shocker)
(Dick Redding)
13) Red Faber - lots of spitballers in this era, deserves credit for WWI
14) Mordecai Brown - good postseason performance and good bat help him stay at the top of this group but Redding through Griffith are interchangeable in my spreadsheet
15) Eppa Rixey - long career candidate
16) Clark Griffith - good hitting keeps him over the in-out line
17) Rube Foster - like Rixey only a little less career value, I would rather we had elected Dick Redding
(Vic Willis and others)
18) Joe McGinnity - too short of a career for my liking
   9. karlmagnus Posted: March 19, 2009 at 08:59 PM (#3108870)
DanG, thank you very much. As of 1904, I seem to have been more impressed by Galvin than I am now -- Rusie would be several places ahead of him. However I'm glad I pegged him right vis a vis Nichols and indeed Caruthers.
   10. Rusty Priske Posted: March 23, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3111833)

Comment free at the moment. My schedule is erratic, but there is still a window. If I don't get back in ttime, feel free to omit.

1. Walter Johnson
2. Cy Young
3. Pete Alexander
4. Christy Mathewson
5. Kid Nichols
6. Smokey Joe Williams
7. Eddie Plank
8. Amos Rusie
9. Mordecai Brown
10. Eppa Rixey
11. Clark Griffith
12. Joe McGinnity
13. Rube Foster
14. Red Faber

My PHoM in/out line

15. Ed Walsh
16. Stan Coveleski
17. Rube Waddell
18. Jose Mendez
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: March 30, 2009 at 02:34 PM (#3118725)
the "real life" comments are from

1. WALTER JOHNSON - Top 5 in Adj ERA+ every year from 1910-1919, except 1917, when he was a 'dreadful' 23-16 with a 119 ERA+. Top 5 in Adj ERA+ 12 times (led league six times). Top 5 in IP 12 times (led league five times). His W-L record was 32-48 in first 3 years, 385-231 thereafter. Check out 1925, at age 37. No, not the ho-hum (for him) 20-9 with the 137 ERA+. Walter hit .433 that year (42-97), 2 hr, 20 rbi (103 RBI per 500 AB pace). He slugged .577 against an AL avg of .416. "He was tempted during the Federal League uproar, and actually signed with the Chicago Whales, but revoked the contract when penny-pinching Clark Griffith made an emergency trip to Kansas to up the ante and restore him to his pedestal."
2. CY YOUNG - Top 5 in Adj ERA+ 10 times (led league twice). Top 5 in IP 14 times (led league twice). Check out 1908 at age 41 - 21-11, 299 IP (6th), ERA+ 194 (2nd to Joss; a 20-yr-old Johnson, youngest player in the AL, was 5th. Young was 2nd-oldest to Deacon McGuire). "Portly, but without a twinge of pain in his arm, he was unable to field his position and was bunted into retirement at age 44."
3. JOE WILLIAMS - Best Negro League pitcher ever. Basically, a 400-game winner major league level. "In exhibition games against major leaguers, Williams compiled a 22-7-1 record with 12 shutouts. In 1915 he struck out 10 while hurling a 1-0 three-hit shutout over Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Phillies."
4. GROVER CLEVELAND ALEXANDER - 4-time ERA+ leader, and top 10 in 15 seasons. Led league in IP 7 times in a span of 20 years. I can't prove Smokey Joe was better, but that's my gut feeling. See 1936 ballot discussion thread for more on GCA's personal background. GCA in 1915: 31-10, 1.22 ERA, 225 ERA+. Not bad when you lead the league in ERA, ERA+, and innings!! "Alexander was ungainly, with a shambling walk; his uniform never seemed to fit properly, and his cap looked a size too small..... He retired believing his 373 wins placed him one ahead of Christy Mathewson for the most career NL victories, but later statistical research added another win to Matty's total."
5. CHRISTY MATHEWSON - Leader or 1st runnerup in ERA+ 8 times. Only once led league in IP, but top 5 eight other times. from - "The son of a gentleman farmer, Mathewson attended Bucknell University, where he was class president, an excellent field goal kicker, and, of course, star pitcher.....Off the field, public reputation aside, some found him brusque and stand-offish, others said he had a swelled head. He was also known to break a contract, once signing with the Philadelphia Athletics before changing his mind and jumping back to the Giants."
6. KID NICHOLS - Won 300th game at age 30. 8 times in top 5 in ERA+, mostly in one-league era. One of his 12 top-5s in IP was a 1st place. Impressive 124 OPS+ in 1901. - "Following the 1901 season, Nichols bought a part interest in the Western Association's Kansas City team and served as the club's manager for 1902 and 1903 while also recording 48 victories as a pitcher. .... Nichols subsequently formed a partnership with Joe Tinker, former Cub shortstop, and entered the motion-picture business..... While managing a bowling alley in Missouri, he was recognized as one of Kansas City's finest bowlers, winning the Class A Championship at age 64."


7. ED WALSH - And you thought Sandy Koufax was one of a kind? Cleared 230 IP only 7 times, but exceeded 360 IP in 5 of them (leading the AL in IP 4 times and runnerup once). Tossed 464 IP in 1908, runnerup Joss threw 325 (!), the 40 wins were 16 more than runnerup Joss. Pitched 3 games in 1915 - all complete-game wins, with a 1.33 ERA. In 370 IP in 1910, Walsh had a 1.27 ERA (career-best 189 ERA+), but he went 18-20. Teammate Doc White was 15-13 with a 90 ERA+. Weird. "Before playing pro baseball, Walsh worked in a Plains, Pennsylvania, coal mine, driving a mule team."
8. EDDIE PLANK - Debuted at age 25, had mostly Sutton-esque career, ERA+ between 111 and 128 his first 8 years. Broke thru with a 151 ERA+ in 1911, but only 6th in IP that year. A Federal League St. Louis Terrier in 1915. "Eddie Plank had never played baseball before entering college...... Although the times of some of his World Series games do not seem slow by today's standards - 1:55, 1:46, and 2:33 for a seven-run, 10-inning contest - he evidently irritated players, fans, and sportswriters.... In 1918 he was packaged with Del Pratt and $15,000 in a trade to the Yankees for Urban Shocker (and four others) but chose to retire rather than report."
9. MORDECAI BROWN - Otherwordly 1906 (1.04 ERA+, 253 ERA+, 26-6), but not in top 10 in IP that year. I like 1909, led league in IP with 1293 ERA+/27-9. Other top IP finishes were modest 5-7-10. Had 13 saves in 1911, his last of 9 years of major significance. As noted everywhere, helped dramatically by remarkable defense. "As a seven-year-old boy he caught his right hand in a corn grinder on his uncle's farm. It was necessary to amputate almost all the forefinger, and, although saved, the middle finger was mangled and left crooked. His little finger was also stubbed...... In 1914, American Monthly, a national magazine, published photos of his exercise program, a rugged series of body-building routines."
10. JOE MCGINNITY - Led the league in wins FIVE times, second another time. Top 7 in ERA+ five times. Tough era for pitchers not named Cy and Kid to pitch forever. Has the extended prime I want. Dreadful hitting hurts a little. Only two ERA+s above 137. "McGinnity was a rough, tough player who, when he ran a saloon, never had to hire a bouncer. He welcomed diminutive umpire Tom Connolly into the majors by spitting in the future Hall of Famer's face..... He went on for years in the minors, still throwing underhand and mixing in a spitball. He had racked up 171 minor league wins when he last took the mound at age 54."
11. AMOS RUSIE - Led NL in IP from 1890-94, if Wild Bill Hutchison hadn't done so in 1890-92 and if Amos had 3 more IP in 1894 -so yes, a workhorse. Like McGinnity, piled a long career's worth of IP in a relatively small amount of time. Only otherworldly year is 1894 (36-13, 444 IP, 189 ERA+). Sat out 1896 in money feud with new Giants owner, also wasn't allowed to pitch in 1897 until team hit a slump. In 1898, "with the league's basestealing champion, Bill Lange, on first, Rusie picked him off with a sudden throw. He tore muscles in his shoulder and had to rest for five weeks. He returned, apparently restored. However, when he tried to pitch in 1898, he found he couldn't and retired."....John McGraw brought Rusie back to the Polo Grounds in the 1920s to work eight years as superintendent of the ballpark."
12. STAN COVELESKI - Top 2 in ERA+ 5 times is impressive; never top 2 in IP but often hung around in the top 10 at least. Fewer significant years (11) and lesser peak than I'd like in a pitcher, but we're heading toward bottom now. "Coveleskie (as the name was spelled during his playing days) was a control pitcher .. who was equally sparing with strikeouts (981 lifetime).... A number of times he got out of an inning with three pitches, and on one occasion he went seven innings when every pitch was a strike, a foul, or a hit."
13. RED FABER - Only five dazzling years, if that. Kind of an odd arc, too, hard to get a handle on him. But a truly great pitcher in 1921-22 (led league in ERA+ twice and 1-2 in IP). Not generally a workhorse, otherwise. A lot of inning-eater years down the stretch, and didn't eat a ton. "Faber acquired his spitter in 1911, after a sore arm ruined early tryouts with the Pirates...... A .134 switch hitter, in 1915 he walked seven times in a row. Twice, he made the most of his rare on-base appearances by stealing home..........After baseball, he worked until his eighties on a Cook County Highway Department survey team."
14. CLARK GRIFFITH - Tough single-era competition is a key to this slot. It's remarkable how much better his W-L was than the teams he pitched for. I think he was a brilliant strategist long before he became a manager, and it showed in his pitching. Incredible 1898, 190 ERA+ best an in-his-prime Kid Nichols by 18 pts. Hurts cause by so-so durability. Weird 1905 with Highlanders - 102 IP, mostly in relief, at 173 ERA+ - Griffith finished a lot of games that arm-weary Jack Chesbro and Jack Powell couldn't handle anymore. "A native of the prairie, Griffith was a professional trapper at age ten, emulating his father, a commercial hunter. Griffith scuffed, scratched, cut, and spit upon nearly every pitch without hesitation..... The ex-vaudevillian always knew what drew a crowd. In 1946 he installed the first device to record pitch speed (borrowed from the U.S. Army) so that visiting flamethrower Bob Feller could give the fans a pre-game thrill.
15. EPPA RIXEY - 5 times in top 4 in IP, had 2-2-2-4-5-6-8 in ERA+ pretty good but league issues apply and never over a 144 ERA+. Helped a little by review the WW I issue. If only he had one huge year. "He was a fierce competitor, crafty on the mound, but hot-tempered after a loss and destructive to clubhouse furniture... He starred in basketball as well as baseball while earning a degree in chemistry at the University of Virginia... Eppa also acquired a middle name: Jephtha. It was invented by a sportswriter inspired by the resonance it had when spoken between "Eppa" and "Rixey." .. He missed the 1918 season, serving overseas with an army chemical-warfare division... He retired to run his insurance agency."
16. RUBE FOSTER - Best available Rube. Classic peak candidate, to me, though some may disagree. Dag Nabbit reminds us in the Foster thread (well, he did in 2004) what a good hitter Foster was, too. Not sure I'd toss him up there with Caruthers, but significant added value is due. In future years I think we'll get a better handle, I hope, on his true accomplishments.
17. RUBE WADDELL - Only 8 to 10 seasons of any note at all, never led his league in IP and only in the top 9 on three occasions - a major negative in an 8-team league. Overrated for the strikeouts a la Nolan Ryan, though I concede that Ks do take fielding issues out of the equation...... Waddell wrestled alligators in Florida, hung around in firehouses, married two women who then left him, and tended bar when he wasn't the saloon's best customer..... There was a provision in Waddell's contract barring him from eating Animal Crackers in bed..... In the spring of 1912, he was staying in Hickman, Kentucky, when a nearby river flooded. Standing in icy water, Waddell helped pile sandbags on the embankments. The incident affected his health... he collapsed while with Virginia (Northern League) in 1913 and landed in a sanatorium in San Antonio. He died there in 1914 on April Fool's Day."
18. JOSE MENDEZ - I reread his whole thread several yrs ago (it's long). I am satisfied as to Mendez being able to pitch to a level of a HOMer at his best, but there hasn't been quite enough there for me. "Hall of Famer John Henry Lloyd said that he never saw any pitcher superior to Mendez. Arthur Hardy, another contemporary, said that Mendez threw harder than the legendary Smokey Joe Williams...... Mendez played for the All-Nations of Kansas City from 1912 to 1916. The team was the most racially mixed of all time, carrying blacks, whites, Japanese, Hawaiians, American Indians, and Latin Americans on its roster.... Mendez was 8-7 in exhibition games against major league competition. He defeated Hall of Famer Eddie Plank in 1909, and split two games with Christy Mathewson."
   12. OCF Posted: March 30, 2009 at 05:47 PM (#3118993)
MORDECAI BROWN - Otherwordly 1906 (1.04 ERA+, 253 ERA+, 26-6), but not in top 10 in IP that year. I like 1909, led league in IP with 1293 ERA+/27-9.

Because of the IP, and because the RA+ isn't quite so dramatic, I have Brown's 1906 as his 3rd best year, after 1909 and 1908.

In raw terms, I have this:

1909: 343 IP, RA+ 173, equiv. record 27-11
1908: 312 IP, RA+ 188, equiv. record 26-9
1906: 277 IP, RA+ 202, equiv. record 23-7

But then Brown is one of the few pitchers for which I attempted a defensive correction, based on some numbers about overall team defense that one of you (I don't remember whom) gave me, and that shoots 1908 to the top rank:

1908: 312 IP, DefAdjRA+ 184, equiv. record 25-9
1909: 343 IP, DefAdjRA+ 151, equiv. record 25-13
1906: 277 IP, DefAdjRA+ 171, equiv. record 22-9

Someone who follows DERA+ can tell how that sees these three years.
   13. Paul Wendt Posted: March 31, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3119809)
10. JOE MCGINNITY - Led the league in wins FIVE times, second another time. Top 7 in ERA+ five times. Tough era for pitchers not named Cy and Kid to pitch forever. Has the extended prime I want.

McGinnity? extended prime?

11. AMOS RUSIE - Led NL in IP from 1890-94, if Wild Bill Hutchison hadn't done so in 1890-92 and if Amos had 3 more IP in 1894 -so yes, a workhorse.</i>

I agree, a workhorse, but this implies to me that he led the league in innings once in five seasons ... and that's true.

league rank by innings: 2-2-2-1-2
total innings: more than 2500

2 2 2 1 2 ~2500, Rusie
x 7 5 3 4 ~1850, Young (1891-94 about 1700 to Rusie's 1950)
5 6 5 2 5 ~2130, Nichols (consistent)
1 1 1 9 x ~2420, Hutchison (1890-92 about 1800 to Rusie's 1580)

Like McGinnity, piled a long career's worth of IP in a relatively small amount of time. Only otherworldly year is 1894 (36-13, 444 IP, 189 ERA+). Sat out 1896 in money feud with new Giants owner, also wasn't allowed to pitch in 1897 until team hit a slump. In 1898, "with the league's basestealing champion, Bill Lange, on first, Rusie picked him off with a sudden throw. He tore muscles in his shoulder and had to rest for five weeks. He returned, apparently restored. However, when he tried to pitch in 1898, he found he couldn't and retired."....John McGraw brought Rusie back to the Polo Grounds in the 1920s to work eight years as superintendent of the ballpark."
   14. Paul Wendt Posted: March 31, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3119814)
In 1898, "with the league's basestealing champion, Bill Lange, on first, Rusie picked him off with a sudden throw. He tore muscles in his shoulder and had to rest for five weeks. He returned, apparently restored. However, when he tried to pitch in 1898, he found he couldn't and retired."

when he tried to pitch in 1899?
Maybe I haven't read preseason news coverage in 1899. According to my reading in 1900 and 1901 he was considered a holdout as much as a retiree. He did come back in 1901.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: March 31, 2009 at 03:54 PM (#3119919)
"McGinnity? extended prime?"

Well, I prefer workhorse+dominance, but sometimes a pitcher can hit extremes mostly one way (Joss being the anti-McGinnity, but not quite enough for me). McGinnity's IP totals were overwhelming at his peak, even for that era.....

Was mostly being cute with the Rusie comment; but we agree he was a workhorse.
   16. Sean Gilman Posted: April 01, 2009 at 07:43 PM (#3121398)
Pitchers (1893-1923)

1. Walter Johnson - Best ever.

2. Cy Young - The latest WARP1 has him miles ahead of Johnson. It’s wrong.

3. Grover Cleveland Alexander - About halfway between Johnson and Mathewson, with WW1 credit.

4. Smokey Joe Williams - Best Negro League pitcher. Best guess puts him at not quite Alexander’s level.

5. Christy Mathewson - About the same peak as Plank and Rusie, almost twice as much career WARP1.

6. Kid Nichols - Like with Young, WARP1 is screwy on 19th Century pitchers, but I’m pretty sure he belongs here, ahead of the more peaky-Walsh and Rusie.

7. Ed Walsh - Career is almost entirely an outstanding 7-year peak, but it's a swell peak.

8. Amos Rusie - Almost identical to Walsh.

9. Stan Coveleski - More peak, less career than Plank.

10. Eddie Plank - More career, less peak than Coveleski.

11. Joe McGinnity - WARP1 would actually rank him higher, for a peak-leaner like me. But it’s probably wrong.

12. Clark Griffith - A slightly worse version of Coveleski.

13. Rube Foster - A peak like the other Rube, with more career value.

14. Rube Waddell - WARP1 thinks he’s got the same peak as Eddie Plank, but with half the career value.

15. Jose Medez - Closer to Rube than Rube.

16. Mordecai Brown - WARP1 hates him. This makes me sad.

17. Eppa Rixey - More career than the other good career/no-peak player.

18. Red Faber - Ahead of Sutton, Bresnahan, Lyons, Randolph and Beckley on my 2009 Ballot.
   17. sunnyday2 Posted: April 02, 2009 at 06:46 PM (#3122370)
Don't have much time for any really smart commentary. But when did I ever? The rankings are not strictly based on WS but I've gone back to them as a stand-by just to eyeball whether these are right or not. And of course they are.

1. Walter Johnson--564 WS, 54-47-42 peak. Best ever, not in WS, but just best pitcher ever. It is true that his peak is the best for anybody post-1893.

2. Cy Young--635 WS, 44-42-41 peak. Best ever in terms of total WS, though it's only about the fourth best peak in this group. Still, had about 2 HoM careers is what he did.

3. Grover C. Alexander--477 WS, 44-43-40. One of the surprises of this whole project is that he's clearly better than Matty.

4. Kid Nichols--479, 48-44-43. Underrated.

5. Christy Mathewson--426, 39-39-37. One other thing I learned in this project. One "t" in Mathewson.

6. Smokey Joe Williams. I don't know how I know, I just do.


7. Ed Walsh--265, 47-40-37.
8. Amos Rusie--293, 56-41-40. The best peaks among the also-rans.

9. Joe McGinnity--269, 42-40-35. Probably gets some extra MiL credit. That lifts him above the rest of this group, which is otherwise really close.

10. Rube Foster. I don't know how I know, and I won't say I do. His reputation probably exceeds his actual achievements, so he could be lower and probably couldn't be higher. But here he is.

11. Three-Finger Brown--296, 36-35-34. A handy fellow to have around, not quite the workhorse as the guys above him.

12. Rube Waddell--240, 35-33-32. I was always a big booster of Rube's, now for the life of me I can't remember why.

13. Jose Mendez. I don't know how I know, and I won't say I do. Could be higher, could be lower.

14. Eddie Plank--360, 31-29-29. He's the only guy on this list that was not on my ballot when he got elected. He was 16th. The kind of guy I didn't generally support. 31 WS isn't much of a peak in his day.

15. Clark Griffith--273, 34-32-30. Definitely deserving of extra MiL credit.

(GAP: in fact the rest of these guys are either not PHoM or very very borderline)

16. Red Faber--292, 37-31-25. How did he get in?

17. Stan Coveleski--245, 32-29-29. How did he get in?

18. Eppa Rixey--315, 26-26-24. I can see how a career voter could support him and I had him ahead of Faber at the time. Why?
   18. Paul Wendt Posted: April 02, 2009 at 11:23 PM (#3122691)
Like a rubber band in slow motion your personal Hall of Merit is contracting back to that 138 we had several years ago (before the HOM), or more like 180 with Negro Leaguers, and early players, and seven years of recent ones. These exercises need to be more frequent in order to keep you taut at 220 or higher.
   19. Chris Cobb Posted: April 03, 2009 at 01:12 AM (#3122773)
17. Stan Coveleski--245, 32-29-29. How did he get in?

I know you've said that these rankings aren't actually based on these win shares, but if you adjust Coveleski's two war-shortened seasons to 154 games, he shifts to

254--35, 32, 30

And then the question becomes--how does he rank behind Rube Waddell, esp. given that Rube's peak was in a higher seasonal IP era than Coveleski's. I suspect that if you adjust for these factors, Coveleski would cross the GAP and show up in the Waddell/Mendez/Plank/Griffith group.
   20. sunnyday2 Posted: April 03, 2009 at 03:20 AM (#3122862)
Before this project started I was a small hall guy. Now that's it's mostly over, yeah, I'm a small hall guy. About half the size that it is would be a lot better.

As to the comments re. Coveleski, specifically...there was a time, between the times when I was a small hall guy, that I would have known exactly how to respond. Now? That seems like a long long time ago.
   21. OCF Posted: April 03, 2009 at 04:49 AM (#3122910)
I posted a bunch of RA+ equivalent records on the discussion thread. They're background information for this.

1. Walter Johnson. With the caveat that I don't really know what to do with the top pitchers' years of the 1880's, I'll claim that Johnson's 1913 was the single best year ever, that his 1912-1913 was the best two consecutive years, and his 1912-1916 was probably the best five consecutive years. And he wasn't exactly chopped liver in the mid-1920's, a dozen years after his peak.

2. Cy Young. If you cut him in two, each half would be in the top half of this particular ballot.

3. Pete Alexander. Plop his career randomly into the history of baseball, and in most versions he'd be the greatest superstar of his times. Just his luck to have his career placed on top of Johnson's. One of the inaccuracies (I won't call it an injustice) of historical recognition is that his star shines so dimly next to Mathewson. I won't be surprised if we turn out to be unanimous in putting Alexander ahead of Mathewson.

4. Joe Williams. I just re-read his thread - I hadn't remembered just how far I got into the projections and equivalent records business with him. (Although what I did wasn't primary source stuff - I was just following up on what Patrick W. did.) Looking at the same evidence, Chris Cobb estimates him as a little below where I'm voting him, and Chris is probably right - but I think I'll stay with the way I voted in the yearly elections.

5. Christy Mathewson. Could easily rank ahead of Williams, but is nowhere close to Alexander. My raw RA+ equivalent numbers show him as being behind Nichols, peak and career, but that's misleading, as it doesn't account for the higher seasonal IP numbers in the 90's. I think it was Mathewson who actually had the higher peak.

6. Kid Nichols. Nichols, not Young, was the Pitcher of the Decade for the 1890's, although the margin isn't all that large. Did have stong defensive support.

7. Eddie Plank. Yes, I do pay a lot of attention to career value. I think some of the other voters are underrating him.

8. Ed Walsh. And now I cut against what I said about career by voting for a guy who basically only had 7 years - but his is the best case among the peaksters. From here on out, most of our candidates have peak/prime cases, with the exceptions being Faber and Rixie.

9. Joe McGinnity. Having two pitchers - Mcginnity and Mathewson - combine for 800 IP in a season was, as a managerial policy, on the wrong side of history. But it gave McGinnity a couple of awfully impressive seasons.

10. Amos Rusie. My numbers seem to show him ahead of McGinnity - they have about the same equivalent winning percentage, and Rusie has more bulk. But an awful lot of Rusie's bulk comes from 1889-1892, when he was pitching from the box and when 500+ IP seasons were possible. After the change, in 1893-94, it's almost as if Rusie was the only one who could still pitch in the new circumstances, so for a couple of years he towered above the newly run-happy league. And yes, he's a victim of management - he should have had at least one more year.

11. Stan Coveleski. Sure, he's no workhorse. But with his 209-134 equivalent record, there's nothing wrong with either his peak or his career.

12. Rube Foster. Now I'm guessing.

13. Red Faber See comment above for Plank. 255-199 equivalent record and a decent enough peak.

14. Mordecai Brown Defense helped him, and he had plenty of flash-in-the-pan teammates who pitched well for a year or two - but he was the ace, the stopper, the go-to-guy (including in relief) for a string of great teams.

15. Rube Waddell. His 200-129 equivalent record is only a tiny bit behind Coveleski, and he has the big years, and he has all those strikeouts - but if he didn't have the strikeouts, he wouldn't have had a job. And he did pitch when IP were more plentiful than in Coveleski's time.

16. Eppa Rixey. Impressive career value (275-224 equivalent), but no peak.

17. Jose Mendez.

18. Clark Griffith. I'm pretty much taking his RA+ at face value.
   22. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: April 03, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3123480)
Ballot is based mostly on my pitcher's pennants added, with some subjectivity/common sense thrown in as well. I adjust for many things, including quality of the defense behind the pitcher. This is a much bigger adjustment than most think.

These numbers do not take into account the changes to DERA in the latest iteration of Baseball Prospectus.

I give credit for seasons lost to military service, contract disputes, things beyond the players control. I do not give credit for injuries or things entirely within the player's control.

1. Walter Johnson (2.69 PA, 144 DRA+, 161 WAR) - Very good argument as the greatest pitcher of all time.

2. Cy Young (2.15 PA, 132 DRA+, 136 WAR) - The ultimate workhorse. Essentially 2 Ed Walsh's.

3. Pete Alexander (2.11 PA, 135 DRA+, 131 WAR) - Closer to Young than many realize. Kind of a forgotten All-Time Great, I don't hear much about him.

4. Smokey Joe Williams - In the discussion for greatest Negro League pitcher ever.

5. Christy Mathewson (1.52 PA, 126 DRA+, 95 WAR) - A little overrated historically, but still a great pitcher.

6. Kid Nichols (1.39 PA, 124 DRA+, 90 WAR) - Slots well between Mathewson and Plank. Pretty much forgotten by history.

7. Eddie Plank (1.21 PA, 121 DRA+, 81 WAR) - Better than I expected when this project started.

8. Eppa Rixey (1.09 PA, 111 DRA+, 75 WAR) - Extremely underrated, provided a ton of value, especially considering he lost a peak year in 1918.

9. Ed Walsh (1.06 PA, 134 DRA+, 64 WAR) - Great but very short career. A rich man's Ron Guidry.

10. Amos Rusie (1.04 PA, 127 DRA+, 65 WAR) - comparable to Stieb in terms of career length and having his peak center on a time with few other greats (he did have Young and Nichols), but a lot better.

11. Red Faber (.99 PA, 113 DRA+, 67 WAR) - Long productive career.

12. Stan Coveleski (.93 PA, 126 DRA+, 61 WAR) - Short spectacular career.

13. Rube Foster - I think slotting him between two other peakish candidates is reasonable.

14. Rube Waddell (.85 PA, 129 DRA+, 55 WAR) - the unearned runs thing with him was a red herring, not a major issue at all. My system fully accounts for it, and here is where he lands.

15. Clark Griffith (.85 PA, 119 DRA+, 57 WAR) - Very good hitter with a couple of excellent seasons.

16. Mordecai Brown (.84, 118 DRA+, 56 WAR) - I think he and Palmer were probably more helped by their defenses (relative to their time) than any other great pitchers.

17. Jose Mendez - I was never a big supporter of his. I think he was very good, borderline HoMer.

18. Joe McGinnity (.78, 115 DRA+, 51 WAR) - Somewhat overrated if you ask me. The peak was outstanding, but the career was very short.
   23. bjhanke Posted: April 04, 2009 at 01:48 AM (#3123971)
Joe says, "2. Cy Young (2.15 PA, 132 DRA+, 136 WAR) - The ultimate workhorse. Essentially 2 Ed Walsh's."

Wow. That gives me a whole new perspective on how big an adjustment you're making for defense. Without it, you get

Walsh 2962 146
Walter Johnson 5915 147
Walsh doubled 5928 146

In other words, making only ballpark adjustments, Walsh is almost exactly half of Johnson, not Young (I believe Walsh doubled is the very closest comp to Walter of anyone, doubled or not). Of course, Ed and Walter debuted within 3 years of each other, while Young debuted about 15 years earlier and so is not really time period comparable.

- Brock
   24. OCF Posted: April 04, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3123996)
By RA+ equivalent record, I have Johnson at 427-230, while Walsh doubled would be 420-238. So while that's the same neighborhood, I have Johnson pretty clearly ahead of double-Walsh.

So why is what I say different than what Brock says? I've got Johnson's career equivalent as .649, which Pythag reverse-engineers to an equivalent RA+ of 136; for Walsh those numbers would be .638 and 133. So their essentially equal ERA+ becomes unequal in this system. In this case, I don't think that's about unearned runs - I think it's about run environment and that sliding exponent. Walsh pitched in, on average, lower scoring times than Johnson, and needed a better actual RA+ to achieve the same effect.

Note that the DRA+ that Joe quotes makes that adjustment and then what looks like several other adjustments all pointing in the same direction to arrive at Johnson 144 versus Walsh 134 - a much bigger difference than I have.

By the same measure, I would have Young at 519-298 (.635, 132), which by its sheer bulk should be ahead of Johnson (and double-Walsh). Of course, that's not how I voted. What we're running into here is that rapid decline in expected IP per season and with it some fairly sweeping changes in the apportionment of credit between pitcher and defense. Young pitched through some very high scoring times, so the RA/WP conversion isn't the same for him as Johnson and certainly not as Walsh, but he started his career at a time when Hutchison and Rusie were leading the league with > 500 IP per season. Allowances should be made for that.

Of course the same IP slope matters to Walsh as well - he's certainly a workhorse in his prime years, but had he come along just a decade later, he couldn't possibly have had so many innings in so few years.
   25. bjhanke Posted: April 04, 2009 at 09:41 AM (#3124062)
OCFs adjustment in post #24 looks very good and very likely to me, and fits in with that giant study that I promised you all, but which got stalled when I lost 2 weeks to being sick. To compensate, I put up on the discussion thread a summary of the main point of the study. To my surprise, this quick and dirty actually fit into one post. It's #58 in the discussion thread, in case anyone wants to look at it before voting. I hate being sick. All I can do is sleep or veg in front of the TV. Doing any actual work is impossible.

- Brock
   26. Rob_Wood Posted: April 04, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3124233)
My ballot:

1. Walter Johnson - arguably the best ever (only Clemens has a case)

2. Cy Young - excellent peak and career value

3. Pete Alexander - from our vantage point, clearly better than Mathewson

4. Smokey Joe Williams - probably the best Negro Leagues pitcher ever

5. Christy Mathewson - helped improve the image of ballplayers in his time

6. Kid Nichols - very underrated, could be a smidge ahead of Big Six

[big gap]

7. Eddie Plank - best of the rest

8. Ed Walsh - best spitballer

9. Amos Rusie - short but meteoric career

10. Eppa Rixey - lost a prime year to war

11. Mordecai Brown - pitched in front of great defenses

12. Rube Waddell - luv the strikeouts, highly erratic

13. Stan Coveleski - largely unknown today

14. Red Faber - this bunch is hard to disentangle

15. Jose Mendez - hall of very good

16. Rube Foster - pioneering Negro Leaguer

17. Clark Griffith - long career but not enough peak

18. Joe McGinnity - weakest of pack, marginal PHOM
   27. OCF Posted: April 04, 2009 at 09:59 PM (#3124383)
6. Kid Nichols - ...

[big gap]

7. Eddie Plank -

From the votes recorded so far, we're really having two elections: one for the 1-6 spots on the ballot and the other for the 7-18 places. There has as of yet been no mixing of the two groups.

I am one of those who agrees with Rob that Plank belongs at the top of the second group.
   28. bjhanke Posted: April 05, 2009 at 10:32 AM (#3124615)
Hi. My name is Brock Hanke, and this is my final ballot on this group of pitchers.

For those of you who did not get to read my post in the Discussion thread, here's the little chart I was talking about. It lists the pitchers in this group, sorted by debut year. The columns are Name, Debut Year, Debut Age, Highest Number of IP in any Year, Career IP and Career ERA+. You can see the evolution of workloads pretty clearly here, as they drop down quickly until about 1900, and then "turn the corner" and start to level off. Remember, the listed Highs are individual seasons of top players. Most of them would be outliers in any real study. But even they pretty much illustrate the point, if you ignore Ed Walsh.

You might note that there are three clusters of debuts here: 1889-1891, 1899-1904, and 1911-1914. Waddell and Johnson are the two in-betweeners. I do make some use of that grouping system in my comments. The important thing is that those subgroups are real groups of "contemporaries" in terms of workload. Amos Rusie is not Red Faber's contemporary in any meaningful way.


Amos Rusie 1889 18 549 3770 129
Cy Young 1890 23 488 7355 138
Kid Nichols 1890 20 488 5056 140
Clark Griffith 1891 21 353 3386 121
Rube Waddell 1897 20 383 2961 135
Joe McGinnity 1899 28 434 3441 120
Christy Mathewson 1900 19 391 4781 135
Eddie Plank 1901 25 357 4496 122
Mordecai Brown 1903 26 343 3172 138
Ed Walsh 1904 23 464 2964 146
Walter Johnson 1907 19 372 5915 147
Pete Alexander 1911 24 389 5190 135
Eppa Rixey 1912 21 313 4495 115
Stan Coveleski 1912 22 315 3082 127
Red Faber 1914 25 352 4087 119

1. Walter Johnson
As I said in my discussion post, Johnson is perfectly placed in time to be the best pitcher ever, which he is. When he debuted, baseball had just gotten workloads under enough control that they were no longer habitually burning out their best hurlers at young ages. That means that they had just started giving the best pitchers the maximum loads they could safely handle. Equipped with the best arm around, Walter was able to exploit that to the fullest.

2. Cy Young
Yet another case of a pitcher who got very light workloads when young and so pitched forever. Young played semi-pro ball until just before he hit the majors at age 23. This gives him no minor league credit, nor should it. But it did allow his arm to settle in before it started pitching complete major league schedules. There are really only four pitchers who have any credible argument to be the best ever. Johnson will win, but Young, Satchel Paige and Lefty Grove have cases. Young's is, of course, longevity.

3. Grover Cleveland Alexander.
No minor league credit, because he spent those years recovering from a beaning. On the other hand, he's another one who got started late in the majors, at age 24. The late start may have helped him with the career length and early workloads. Within his actual peer group by time period (1911-1914 debuts, Pete, Eppa, Stan, and Red), Pete had the highest single season workload, and had six years higher than Red Faber's high of 352. Essentially, what happened is that Pete could handle league-leading workloads when he came up, and led the league almost every year until he was 33 years old in 1920. After that, he had a down season, as his arm had taken all it could take. Unlike teams of the 1880s, the 1921 Cubs were up to the task of adjusting to this, and Pete's workloads went down by about a hundred IP a year. With reasonable workloads, he pitched well until he was 42, despite seizures and alcoholism. Alexander is the best pitcher of the National League in the 20th century, IMO.

4. Kid Nichols
Gets minor league credit for 1902-03. His first five seasons, Kid pitched more innings than Pete Alexander's high of 389. However, none of those seasons led the league in IP, while Pete led his league constantly. That's the difference between an 1890 debut and a 1911. If you don't make that adjustment, he has 130 career IP less than Pete Alexander, 2 extra years of minor league credit, and an ERA+ five points higher than Pete's. You'd have to rank him above Alexander. The time period makes the difference, although those 5 ERA+ points do give you an argument over Pete.

5. Smokey Joe Williams
When I first got interested in the Negro Leagues, back in the early 1980s, the Big Names among pitchers were Paige, Williams, and Bullet Joe Rogan. Rogan was probably not the pitcher that the other two were, but was a much better hitter (Don Newcombe / Bob Lemon class). Williams was a better pitcher than Paige within the Negro Leagues, but there are good reasons to believe that Paige was much less focused on league games than Williams was. Paige focused on money, which led him to exhibitions and endless self-promotion. In a pinch, I'd rather have Paige, as long as he understood it was a pinch. When he did get a chance in the majors, Paige took it seriously and put up truly exceptional numbers for his age. I am not SURE that Williams could have done that, so I rank him under Paige. As you can guess, Paige is going to rank high when we get to him. By all accounts that I know of, Williams did throw harder than Paige, but didn't have Satchel's dozen different small-break fastballs.

6. Christy Mathewson
I do not think that there will be any other group of pitchers in which Christy Mathewson will rank as low as 6th. This period truly is the age of the pitcher. Has the second-youngest Debut Age of any of this group, but also the third-youngest End Age.

7. Ed Walsh
I may have him ranked higher than anyone else. The reason is that I think that his career length was hampered by extreme workloads. If you look at my little chart above, that 464 in the HIGH column just leaps out at you, and it's not isolated. That year is 1908, when Fielder Jones tried to ride Ed to the pennant in that magnificent horserace. But Jones gave Ed 422 IP in 1907, when he was again trying to win a close one. The result? In 1909, Ed pitched just as well as in 1908, but in half as many IP.

That's close to excusable, because there were pennants at stake. But then, starting in 1910, right after the warning of 1909, managers Hugh Duffy and Nixey Callahan gave Ed another trio of extreme workloads, and that did for his arm. By 1913, at age 32, Ed was all but done. And there were no pennants at stake (the team's offense had completely collapsed), just a player from a different era who was managing and hadn't adjusted to the need for lower workloads.

I tend to give guys like Ed a bit of extra credit (see Hoss Radbourne in the earlier ballot). I mean, yes, you can claim that the workloads were under their control, since they could have said no, but when was the last time you heard of a major league pitcher turning the ball down if he could lift his arm at all? It doesn't happen, so the workloads are not really under the control of the pitcher.

If you look at this cluster of rankings, and at the chart above, you will see that I rank four of the 1899-1904 debuts as their own little rankings cluster here, which is unintentional and does strike me as weird. Anyway, Mathewson comes up on top of that group, and I just happen to have Ed next. If someone else has Plank or Brown or even McGinnity ahead of Ed, I'm not going to complain. They have very different careers from each other, so everything depends on how you balance things out. I give a little extra credit to guys who got their arms burnt out, and I like 7-year extended peaks.

8. Mordecai Brown
Brown has an outstanding 7-year extended peak run from 1904-1910, never finishing below 5th in the league in ERA+, and working reasonable loads, though hardly league-leading. This is the big feature of his ranking to me.

His story is fascinating. He gets no minor league credit. He was a miner, literally, playing third base in semi-pro ball, meaning that he was playing on the weekends for a little extra cash. This was common at the time - my grandfather did it 15 years later - but the question is why he wasn't pitching. My guess is that the odd hand kept teams from thinking that he could, even though he had the arm strength and accuracy for third base.

In any case, the team ran out of pitchers one day, and Brown offered, and was instantly amazing. He blew through from semi-pro to the bigs in less than 2 years, signing with the Cardinals. The birds traded him for little to the Cubs the next year, in what his surely the worst Cardinal trade ever (Lou Brock was just long-overdue payback).

He debuted at age 26, which is the second-oldest in this group, and he'd been a semi-pro third baseman. You'd think that, with that lack of young workload, he'd have an Iron Arm, but he didn't. That's the weakness of his career; the lack of total IP fueled by moderate workloads. Why? Well, I have a guess. My guess is that Brown did not have what we think of as a real top major league arm. What he had was a weird hand that generated weird curves. But that meant that sooner or later, his arm was going to lose enough steam that even the curves would not save him. That's what appears to have happened. Best guess I can muster up.

9. Eddie Plank
In many ways, the anti-Brown. His candidacy is all career. He almost doesn't have a peak. This is partially due to the acumen of Connie Mack, who was on the cutting edge of pitcher management. Mack simply did not run ace pitchers into the ground. So Plank pitched nice, moderate workloads, was very very consistent, and piled up about 4500 IP before retiring at age 41. Without a peak, and with an ERA+ that is 16 points lower, he's not going to outrank Brown in my analysis, but I'm not going to complain if someone who is really career oriented does so. I like the sustained peak.

10. Amos Rusie
Rusie and McGinnity are two pitchers who very blatantly got their arms pitched off by managers who had no limit to workload. And both of them in New York, a decade apart. Which is odd, because they were born the exact same year, 1871, just as the National Association was getting going. But someone spotted Amos pitching semi-pro ball at the age of 17 and had him in the bigs in a year, just in time for the Players' League, the pitching rubber, and labor disputes with noted madman Andrew Freedman, owner of the Giants.

If someone had been paying attention, they could have seen Rusie's arm troubles coming. Instead, all they seemed to notice was that he was a very large man for his time and could throw very very hard (by contemporary reputation, harder then Cy Young, although that could be New York press; they came up within a year of each other, Cy never lead his league in strikeout rate, while Amos did that 5 times in half as many seasons as Cy pitched). After a 5-year run where his LOWEST IP was 444, Rusie's ERA went up a full run in 1895. He took '96 off due to Freedman, and returned with a fine 1897 season, leading the league in ERA, but only pitching 322 innings. The next year, trying to pick a runner off, he (my best interpretation of the source descriptions) blew his rotator cuff up and was finished.

I give Amos full credit for 1896, but only for about 350 IP, not over 400. I do think that some of the quality of 1897 was the result of no workload in '96. I also give him a little boost for being overworked, just like Ed Walsh.
   29. bjhanke Posted: April 05, 2009 at 10:34 AM (#3124616)
11. Rube Waddell
Ranked here for two reasons: His 135 ERA+ is the only one left over 127 (Coveleski), and I give a little extra credit to outliers, and Waddell is the very greatest strikeout pitcher of all time, if you make any adjustment for strikeout rates. He had higher strikeout rates than Amos Rusie before him, and he had higher strikeout rates than Walter Johnson after him.

Do you remember Steve Dalkowski? If not, Steve was an Orioles farmhand back in the 1960s, famous for posting higher numbers on a radar gun than anyone else ever. One year, Earl Weaver, working his way up the O's food chain as a manager, ended up with the AA team that had Dalko. Being Earl Weaver, he gave the team an IQ test. Dalkowski posted a number in the low 60s, which nowadays is sheltered workshop territory.

Weaver promptly figured out that Steve's problem was that his managers had him throwing his amazing fastball, but also a change and a curve. That was too many pitch mechanics for Dalko's brain to handle. Weaver told Steve to forget the curve and just chuck it in there with the occasional changeup to unsettle the hitter. Dalkowski destroyed the league. Weaver got promoted to AAA, but for some reason, the team did not send Dalkowski with him. Sure enough, the next AA manager decided that Steve needed another pitch to reach the bigs, reinstated the curve, and Dalkowski promptly blew his arm out.

To a large extent, Rube Waddell is Steve Dalkowski with more than one season of good managing. He came up with the Louisville club that would become the Pirates, and which already had Fred Clarke managing. Clarke knew what he was doing, but was addicted to the curve. (I looked up the Big Six Pirate control guys in the Neyer/James pitching book. They, all six of them, were curve ball specialists. The greatest control staff of all time, and they all threw curves.) Rube is mentioned as having a curve ball early, and that may have been Clarke. In any case, even a manager as good as Clarke could not handle Waddell's thinking processes, and cut him.

Connie Mack picked him up and made a star out of him by, essentially, catering to his mental weaknesses as much as possible. Waddell's peak is with Mack's As. Unfortunately, according to the sources, after a few years, Mack started to lose control of his other players, who saw him catering to Waddell, so Rube had to go. Off to the Browns, where he posted one more good year, one average one, and a bad one, and was done.

So he was, literally, a (by definition) moron, probably with ADHD as well, and maybe something else. But he was the greatest strikeout pitcher ever, and he led his league in ERA twice and in wins once. That's enough for me to rank him here.

Oh, yeah. About Dalkowski. I have a theory here, which is that when your mind is weak but your body is strong, you will end up trying to solve all your problems by using your muscles. In addition to the constant training that gives, your mind never gets in the way of your body's workings: you never overthink anything and you move freely. I think that probably was the key to both Dalko's and Rube's tremendous strikeout fastballs. They threw as hard as they could, without thinking about it, all the time.

12. Rube Foster
Back in the 1980s, Foster got mentioned primarily as a magnate (he's at the very top of that, along with people like Harry Wright and William Hulbert and Ban Johnson, who invented leagues). But there was always some mention that he had been a top pitcher, too. I can't rank him with Paige or Williams or even Rogan, but here seems about right. No hard analysis; just a feeling.

13. Joe McGinnity
It's synergy. That's what it is. Four factors combining into a whole that is more extreme than any of the components. Factor 1: McGinnity did not enter the major leagues until the age of 28, meaning that he had light workloads for absolutely all of his young seasons. Factor 2: He threw submarine or sidearm at least most of the time, which reduces arm wear. Factor 3: He came up just as the majors were expanding from 12 teams to 16 and entering the dead-ball era, which means lesser arm wear. Factor 4: He featured the curve ball, which is bad for arms, long term. Whole: Iron Man.

So, from his ML debut until 1904, Joe pitched monstrous numbers of innings, leading the league 4 times in 6 seasons. Then his ERA went up by about a run and his IP went down by about 100. It was 1905, and Joe was already 34 years of age. He would have one more good season in 1906, but he was, essentially, done in the majors, his arm blown out in just 6 seasons.

How much minor league credit to give Joe, who pitched in the minors for years prior to his ML debut? Well, I don't know. I found very little info on his early minor league teams (lots on the teams after he retired from the majors). But I did find one interesting factoid. On a team in Montgomery, at age 22, he played with Fred Clarke. This means that he was known to the major leagues. He wasn't some guy who just played for minor league teams that no major leaguer ever saw. Fred Clarke. Not amateur hour as a pitcher's manager. And he didn't think McGinnity had it at the ML level. I have to give that some respect, so not much minor league credit for Joe here.

I do, however, give him some credit for the monstrous overwork. Someone should have known that he couldn't pitch both ends of doubleheaders forever. John McGraw was not that someone.

14. Red Faber
He was already 25 when he hit the bigs, so early workload was not a problem. And still, they found a way. Faber had a real good year in 1921 at the age of 32. Pitched 331 innings; led the league in ERA. Not satisfied, the Chisox decided to see what he could do with 352 IP. He led the league in ERA again. But then, in 1923, at the age of 34, the IP go down 120, and the ERA goes up .6. He would pitch for 10 more seasons, but only reach as many as 200 IP three more times. Essentially, after 1923, he's a semi-starter, and that goes on for a whole decade, piling up bulk. The odd thing, though is that he never got bad, just a little above average. That's why his ERA+ stayed up at 119. Red never put in those four lousy years that drop it down. He just played out the string as a very acceptable 3rd or 4th starter.

His peak, from 1916 to 1922, is very good. His career is long for his time period. His ERA+ is better than anyone ranked lower except Clark Griffith. Overall, that's enough to rank him here.

15. Clark Griffith

It's almost impossible to compare Clark Griffith to Eppa Rixey. Rixey is all about career, Girffith is about everything else. He has a well-defined peak of value from 1894 to 1901. That's good. But 1898 was his only really good season. And literally half of his 20 campaigns are junk. The last five years are positively tiny. His ERA+ is too high to ignore, considering who is left, but it's all driven by five seasons. Clark actually has only those five (plus a 100-IP rouser in 1905) that are above that career ERA+. Only five.

I am not inclined to give much, if any, credit for 1892-1893. As I see it, he entered a collapsing league (the American Association of 1891) and was just a bit above average there. Baseball promptly contracted by 4 teams. I see no real reason to think that Clark Griffith was really a National League starter for the two-year interim. I think that the 1891 AA was a minor league, and he did not dominate it. This is not the Bob Caruthers period of the AA. Griffith was about ready for the bigs in 1894.

16. Eppa Rixey

Big career, not a great rate. I would have him over Griffith except that his good years are spread out so much that it's hard to even identify when his peak might have been. His IP high was only 313 IP in 1922, but that led the league. Five years earlier, it would have had no chance.

17. Stan Coveleski

I am not a Stan Coveleski fan. As I see it, Stan spent the years before 1916 demonstrating conclusively that he was not a major league pitcher, although he was close enough to get a cup of coffee in 1912. In 1915, a minor league pitcher showed him the spitball, and suddenly he was a major league arm. He spent 4 whole major league seasons with a level playing field, and then the spitball was banned except for several grandfathers, including Stan. That means that, for the remaining years of his career, he had an advantage not generally available. Almost all of the other grandfathers would have been major league pitchers without the spitter. They might not have been as good, but they would still have been ML quality. I do not think that Stan would have been. I think that he was a product of the spitball and the spitball only. And so, while he did do what he did do in the majors, I drop him down. Even if I hadn't, I don't think he could outrank anyone better than Griffith.

18. Jose Mendez

The consensus here is that Jose is at or near the bottom of the pack. I don't know nearly enough about him to dispute that. I'm not saying that he's not a HoM pitcher; I'm saying that I don't know, and the consensus is that, within this particular subgroup, he's at the bottom
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 05, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3124774)
How about if we give this another week, since we just don't have enough ballots yet, guys? We can close up shop on the Monday after Easter at 8 PM. Any objections?
   31. Chris Cobb Posted: April 05, 2009 at 05:24 PM (#3124793)
I have no objection to extending another week, but I'm going to go ahead and post my ballot now anyway, as I don't expect to have time to do anything more with it in the next seven days.

No changes from my preliminary ballot, which you can see on the discussion thread for more details on the system behind these rankings.

1) Johnson – Greatest pitching peak of all time + second greatest pitching career of all time equals #1 on this ballot.
2) Young – Doesn’t match any of the other big four in peak value, but he was so effective for so long that his total merit far exceeds Alexander’s and Mathewson’s, and it nearly makes up even for Johnson’s peak advantage in my system. If Johnson hadn’t also been one of the best hitting pitchers of all time (what an athlete he must have been), Young might have surpassed him.
3) Alexander – Tremendous pitcher. Great stuff, great durability, great smarts.
4) Mathewson – Same package as Alexander, but a bit less durability.
5) Williams – A monster of a pitcher in the teens. I’m not convinced he held his value well through the 1920s and into the early 1930s, though he continued to be very successful in an NeL context, so I rank him behind the big four, but well ahead of Nichols, who was no slouch.
6) Nichols – Steadily excellent. Less durable in context than he appears in all-time terms: over his best seasons, he only put up about the typical innings pitched for an ace, unlike folks like Johnson and Alexander, who were throwing 20% more innings than a typical ace at their peak.
7) Plank – A career rather than a peak candidate. His consistent excellence narrowly edges Walsh’s massive peak in my system. It could easily go the other way.
8) Walsh – The greatest innings eater of his era (on a seasonal basis), edging Johnson, McGinnity, and Alexander, because he put up McGinnity-like IP totals in a context of quickly declining IP after the shift to the 154-game schedule. He was more effective in those innings than McGinnity, as well, so that his peak is the best of the era, after the big four at the top.
9) Coveleski – I probably have him higher than most, but he was really effective for his whole career. His IP seem to lag behind the others’ but he had his two best seasons shortened due to WW1 and his whole career fell in a period of declining IP.
10) Rusie – overrated because of all the strikeouts and the big seasonal IP totals, which, as in the case of Nichols, were not as exceptional as all that for the 1890s. Rusie was notably more durable than a typical ace, however.
11) McGinnity – The Iron Man rates as highly as he does largely because of his fantastic durability, but he did couple it with exceptional effectiveness, too. Both he and teammate Mathewson appear to have been exceptionally good at working with their fielders. Nothing special outside of his big peak, but that’s definitely enough.
12) Foster – I evaluate him as Clark Griffith plus. He had more athletic ability and more peak durability than Griffith, but like Griffith he won as much with smarts as with talent, and his on-the-field value was undoubtedly truncated by the shift of his energy and attention to management and the business of building a sport.
13) Griffith – The one pitcher elected from this era who was never an innings eater. He has the lowest “durability peak” of all pitchers in the Hall of Merit, and his peak effectiveness is also on the low side. He held his effectiveness much longer than most of his contemporaries did, however, which enabled him to put together a HoM career.
14) Waddell – One of the hardest pitchers in this group to rank, though everyone from McGinnity on down is closely bunched. Probably the best stuff at his peak of any pitcher here, but his peak was not all that long, and everything else about his career pulls his value down from where his stuff pushed it to.
15) Rixey – Overall a career candidate, but he did have a good peak. Often ranked in lock-step with Faber. I agree that they are very close, but Rixey’s longer career and longer period of effectiveness as a starter give him a slight edge.
16) Faber – A career candidate, but his case depends upon two (and really one) spectacular season.
17) Mendez – Undoubtedly great during his peak. How much he pitched, and how much value he would have had outside of his peak, are awfully hard to estimate. Definitely enjoyed a surprising renaissance with the Monarchs in the early 1920s, before succumbing to tuberculosis later in the decade.
18) Brown – I long thought his election was a mistake. I have gone back on that view now, but I still find him the weakest of this group. His effectiveness was aided by extraordinary defensive support during his peak; he was not an innings eater; and his career was not especially long. He’s very similar to Eddie Plank in terms of peak and overall effectiveness, but with 1300 fewer IP.
   32. Rick A. Posted: April 05, 2009 at 09:25 PM (#3124983)
1893-1923 Pitchers Ballot
1. Walter Johnson - Great peak and career.
2. Cy Young - Long career. Hey, I hear there's an award named after him.
3. Pete Alexander - Less peak than Johnson, but still great.
4. Smokey Joe Williams - Almost beats Pete.
5. Kid Nichols - Nichols and Mathewson are very close.
6. Christy Mathewson
7. Amos Rusie - High peak but short career for his time.
8. Ed Walsh - Another high peak short career.
9. Eddie Plank - Well hear is the opposite of the last two.
10. Jose Mendez - Originally had him below Foster way back when, but his peak was higher.
11. Mordecai Brown
12. Joe McGinnity
13. Rube Foster
14. Stan Coveleski HOMer and higher than Carl Mays(who's in my PHOM), but not by as much as shown in the ballots.
Vic Willis
Dick Redding
Burleigh Grimes
15. Clark Griffith - Both Griffith and Waddell play havoc with my system. Griffith should not have been as successful as he was, although still a HOM. Waddell should have been a little more successful, according to my system, although still a HOMer. I rate them very close to each other.
16. Rube Waddell - see above
17. Eppa Rixey - I've lways had him ahead of Faber, bu behind Grimes. Doesn't have Faber's 2 year peak, but every other year is slightly better.
Wilbur Cooper
Carl Mays
------------------------------PHOM line------------------------------------------------------
18. Red Faber - Just misses my PHOM. Will be in in a few years.
   33. mulder & scully Posted: April 05, 2009 at 11:10 PM (#3125099)
Pitcher Ballot: I used to be able to spend a lot longer on these when my son was just a baby and not a 3-year old and I wasn't taking 2 Masters classes at night while working full-time.

Not a lot to say on many of these players because they are so well known.

1. Walter Johnson – I cannot think of anything else to say that hasn’t been said.

2. Cy Young – Too much at too high a level for so long.

3. Grover Alexander – Great peak and career. He was one of the better pitchers of the 20s, which it seems like many baseball histories forget. He had 5 top 10s in wins, IP, and ERA, 7 top 10s in WHIP from 1921 to 1930. And don’t forget 1918 credit – could he have reached 400 wins? Didn’t pitch in the majors until age 24.

4. Smokey Joe Williams – He could have been better than Alexander, but too much of his career is relatively unknown.

5. Kid Nichols – If Nichols didn’t get the ownership offer after the 1901 season, then he and Alexander may have each had 400 wins. Did have the support of the Boston defenses. Consistently great every year. But not the peak of the men above him.

6. Christy Mathewson – That he is sixth shows the tremendous depth of this ballot. A great pitcher and a role model.

Grand Canyon
7. Eddie Plank – Quiet, just pitched consistently. Eppa Rixey plus 4 more years of good Eppa Rixey. I wonder what the end of career would have looked like without the Federal League boosting salaries and if Mack could have kept his team together.

8. Ed Walsh – Peak just too big. Only had a few great years, but he packed so much into them that he places very highly.

9. Amos Rusie – I forget him a lot in the Hall of Fame game (see Coveleski). He did leave the game early. Deserves an extra year of credit. I didn’t want to place him this high, but I wasn’t enamored of the rest either.

10. Jose Mendez – Had the big peak and innings I like.

11. Three-Finger Brown – I understand why some voters have him so low. He did have great defenses behind him. But, did he take advantage of them better than others did? Also, he did have the relief usage.

12. Joe McGinnity – barely PHOM. I’ll take the same value in fewer years package vs. more years package. 4 full and 1 half year with ERA+ over 130. IP ranks those years – 4th, 1st, 1st, 1st. That pushes him over the line barely.

13. Stan Coveleski – One of the players, along with Joe Sewell, who I forget the most when I try and name all the Hall of Famers on May deserve some minor league credit. Enough big ERA+ years for me

Vic Willis
Burleigh Grimes
Wilbur Cooper
All three are PHOM

14. Clark Griffith – Not PHOM. Lack of big years, again. Had relatively good offensive and defensive support based on Chris J.’s RSI work.

15. Eppa Rixey – Not PHOM. Inning eaters do not do well with me. Relatively poor offensive support, but generally good or very good defensive support – per Chris J. RSI. Also, had the luxury of not being the staff ace due to pitching with Alexander and Dolf Luque. There are several other pitchers too similar to him who are not HOM.

Dick Redding is PHOM, but I elected him too fast and without enough context.

16. Red Faber – Not PHOM. 2 excellent years and didn’t throw the World Series. Only 5 years over a 117 ERA+.

Carl Mays

17. Rube Foster – Not PHOM. I started with the Hall of Merit just as he was being elected. Too much of his career is legendary for me to rank him highly.

18. Rube Waddell – Not PHOM. Not enough big years. Comparatively low innings pitched totals.
   34. Kenn Posted: April 05, 2009 at 11:57 PM (#3125149)
Bah, rushing these comments in under the deadline, even though I'd worked out my ballot two weeks ago...

1. Walter Johnson - Best pitcher ever, though Clemens was looking close
2. Cy Young - Another no brainer
3. Pete Alexander - And a third easy one
4. Smokey Joe Williams - I was surprised in going over his stats that to find that he had fewer truly exceptional season than I'd expected, but he had excellent seasons for a very very long time, especially for a negro league pitcher.
5. Christy Mathewson -
6. Kid Nichols - Fantastic Career and Peak. Big gap to #7.
7. Eddie Plank - Tons of career value.
8. Ed Walsh - Career somewhat like Nchols but getting patchy earlier. Love the miniscule HR rate, even if largely a function of era.
9. Mordecai Brown -
10. Jose Mendez -
11. Amos Rusie -
12. Eppa Rixey - All about the longetivity, although in season durability rather weak. Even in down years a very useful pitcher.
13. Rube Waddell - Love the K-rate, and give him a bump on that account that distinguishes from Covaleski.
14. Stan Coveleski - Rather the opposite of Rixey. Shorter career, but high quality inings during it.
15. Red Faber - Rixey redux.
16. Rube Foster - Very borderline by my read. Arguably I prefer Cicotte, Willis, Mays and/or Shocker better at this point in the listing.
17. Joe McGinnity - Was far from PHOM in my original, more career based system, but factoring more direct year by year results in league pulls up near borderline.
18. Clark Griffith - Extremely solid, but also

Okay, times up. Will fill in other comments tomorrow if wanted. Sorry for the lateness.
   35. Tiboreau Posted: April 06, 2009 at 12:49 AM (#3125316)
1. Walter Johnson—No explanation needed for the Big Train, the greatest pitcher in baseball history.
2. Cy Young—Baseball Prospectus absolutely loves him; Joe Dimino’s numbers seem a little more grounded in reality. Of course, reality still means the 2nd greatest pitcher of his era and easily among the top 10 in baseball history, possibly top 5.
3. Pete Alexander
4. Smokey Joe Williams—Negro League pitchers will be harder than position players were to rank among their MLB counterparts. The consensus in his thread, based both on reputation and adjusted i9 projections, was that Williams was slightly below Alexander after the latter’s WWI adjustment, so I’ll just go along with that assessment.
5. Christy Mathewson—A small step down from the top 3 according both BP & Joe D., but that’s hardly an indictment against his Hall of Fame credentials. . . .
6. Kid Nichols—Originally had him below both Walsh & Rusie, but felt that I was overrating peak a bit too much so stuck in the consensus position. I do think that he is more comparable in value to the 4 players below him than the 5 above him, who put up much greater IP totals compared to their peers than Nichols.
7. Ed Walsh—I realize that he only qualified for the ERA title 7 times & pitched fewer than 3000 innings in his career; however, in his top 5 seasons he was 1st in IP 4 times and 2nd once with an ERA+ between 146 & 189 during those years. IOW, his peak his good enough to propel his career value into a territory generally occupied by pitchers with greater years & IP, it’s that good.
8. Amos Rusie
9. Stan Coveleski—Prior to posting this I wavered back & forth between Coveleski & Plank, but decided to go with what I originally had. Coveleski is an underrated ballplayer due to spending half his career in a hitter’s era during a time of steadily declining IP.
10. Eddie Plank—IMO, the top 10 break into two groups with a bit of a gap between 5 & 6 and 10 & 11. The 1st group is obviously a group of inner-circle Hall of Famers, and while the 2nd group doesn’t compare they are, I think, all excellent HoFers. Plank ranking last among the 2nd group simply do to better peaks among the other 4 players.
11. Rube Foster—To be honest I’m not positive about this spot for Mr. Foster. Rube’s opens for a group of HoMers with good credentials that include the qualifier “yes, but . . . ” at the end of it. Including his contributions to the Negro Leagues off the playing field would obviously make his selection much easier.
12. Joe McGinnity—Like Walsh, Iron Man McGinnity’s HoF candidacy depends upon a brilliant peak to overcome his short career value. While he didn’t provide a peak of the same quality as Big Ed, he provided the same quantity with 4 IP titles and 1 2nd place finish in his top 5 years.
13. Jose Mendez—Obviously we know that at his best Mendez was an excellent pitcher, we just don’t know how good. He drew comparisons to Waddell in terms of overall value, peak v. career; the combination of greater quantity during his peak and some time as a presumably acceptable shortstop is just enough for me to feel comfortable putting Mendez above Waddell.
14. Rube Waddell—His credentials were well discussed during the HoM’s passage through baseball history: obviously a short career, excellent peak candidate who didn’t provide the same IP totals during his best years as some of his contemporaries. His quality during his peak is enough to support his HoM selection, IMO, even if the lack of quantity compared to his comparables means he’s among the bottom 5 on this list.
15. Red Faber—If his top 2 years were more like his other 18 Faber’s credentials would say, essentially, "the Jake Beckley of pitchers." Of course, his top 2 years weren’t comparable to his other 18; they were brilliant.
16. Clark Griffith—Less than spectacular IP totals, seasonal & career, but provided good quality, enough to make him a solid, if borderline, candidate for the HoM.
17. Mordecai Brown—The Cubs, unlike their cross-town rivals, made a conscious effort to spread out IP among its pitchers, which may mean that I am underrating a talented pitcher lacking an extraordinarily long career, but fewer IP means less value.
18. Eppa Rixey—An excellent career candidate, actually a slightly better pitcher than Red Faber year in, year out excluding Faber’s top 2 years. It’s those top 2 years that push Faber out of Don Sutton territory, leaving Rixey at the bottom of this ballot.
   36. Juan V Posted: April 06, 2009 at 01:29 AM (#3125426)
After building up and tearing down my pitcher system many times, I have decided to borrow Joe's calculation of NRA, to which I also add defense adjustments based on DERA, which I regress to the mean. I have a somewhat ad-hoc IP adjustment, which has seemed to produce sensible results.

1- WALTER JOHNSON: If Strasburg lives up to the hype, how long until he becomes the second-best Washington pitcher of all time?

2- CY YOUNG: I do have the Big Train over him even on career value. He'd still be #2 if we weren't doing the time segmentation (although I haven't done Clemens, Maddux et al)

3- PETE ALEXANDER: First time we've had an unanimous 1-2-3? *checks Howie's ballot* Maybe not.

4- CHRISTY MATHEWSON: Loses ground to those above him mostly on career. Slightly, but clearly, above the two below.

5- JOE WILLIAMS: A conservative placement perhaps?

6- KID NICHOLS: Virtually tied with Williams. No shame on being #6 to this crowd.

7- EDDIE PLANK: Like everyone else, I see a big dropoff here.

8- ED WALSH: Big peak

9- RUBE WADDELL: Big peak, too, although unearned runs and IPs hurt him.

10- THREE FINGER BROWN: Yeah, there's the issue of the defenses behind him. He's still good after adjusting for that. Pretty high value per finger :-)

11- STAN COVELESKI: About 95% of Walsh

12- RED FABER: A career guy! But one who packed a good chunk of his value on his better years. Like a pitching Tim Raines.

13- RUBE FOSTER: Looks like Griffith/Mendez plus

14- AMOS RUSIE: Feels weird ranking him in this group

(Babe Adams)
(Eddie Cicotte)
(Vic Willis)


16- CLARK GRIFFITH: Both of them need the bats to make my PHOM

17- EPPA RIXEY: Looks to me like a slightly lower, flatter careered version of Faber

(Chief Bender)

18- JOE MCGINNITY: Only non-PHOMer on the bunch (he's close, though)
   37. Paul Wendt Posted: April 06, 2009 at 02:46 AM (#3125581)
36. Tiboreau
2. Cy Young—Baseball Prospectus absolutely loves him; Joe Dimino’s numbers seem a little more grounded in reality. Of course, reality still means the 2nd greatest pitcher of his era and easily among the top 10 in baseball history, possibly top 5.

It's a mistake, no update from the preceding version. See my note in the "Battle" thread. If I get a reply from Clay Davenport, I will summarize there. (I have checked only last month's six-pack and these fifteen pitchers since the revisions. I can't afford time until knowing that the update is complete.)
   38. OCF Posted: April 06, 2009 at 08:40 PM (#3126952)
kenn: Since the deadline has been extended, how about those extra comments you promised in your post?

Dans least favorite fan: One small thing and one bigger thing -

The small thing is that we ballot counters do appreciate seeing numbers beside your choices. In this case, the numbers should run from 1 through 18. Your intent is fairly clear, but please do us this favor, OK?

The bigger thing: as you acknowledge, we don't know you yet, and since we don't know you, we see a one-line comment like "good peak" and don't really know the context for reading that. What we would find very helpful would be if you would provide some kind of overview statement. What methods do you use, what sources are you pulling your evaluations from? What kind of emphasis do you put on peak/prime/career, and for that matter, what do you mean by "peak" and/or "prime" and what kind of baseline do you use for career?

The list you've produced is pretty conventional (high-consensus), and I'm not objecting to any particular ranking in that. We'd like to include you and your evaluations. Could you please meet us halfway by providing just a little more context for why you said what you said?
   39. sunnyday2 Posted: April 07, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3127615)
Speaking of a small hall, which we were a bit ago: This ballot provides a nice example.

The top 6 are unanimous. I don't think I'm giving anything away.

IMO in a small hall, those 6 are all you would need. The rest are so hugely inferior to the Big 6, why bother?
   40. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 07, 2009 at 03:11 AM (#3127638)
What's the difference between "peak" and "prime"?
   41. bjhanke Posted: April 07, 2009 at 04:49 AM (#3127706)

Thanks for a reminder that these are ballots. I had forgotten to actually put the ordered list down somewhere without comments, so it would be easy to tabulate. Here's the list. It is identical to the one with all the comments, but should be easier to count up.

BTW, I don't think I ever mentioned what I call a "peak." My definition is the best three years within a five-year consecutive period. I use that one because there are obvious peaks out there that are interrupted by an injury or something, and I wanted to count the strong seasons without the weak ones. I first happened on the concept while analyzing Rogers Hornsby, since his best 5-year peak works much better if you can ignore 1926, which you should.

I use the term "extended peak" to mean 6-8 year runs of real good seasons, possibly including a clunker or two that I do factor in instead of ignoring. Hence my couple of comments using the term "7-year extended peak."

I don't really have a definition for "prime" because I separate 7-year peaks from "peaks."

Thanks again,

- Brock

1. Walter Johnson
2. Cy Young
3. Grover Cleveland Alexander
4. Kid Nichols
5. Smokey Joe Williams
6. Christy Mathewson
7. Ed Walsh
8. Mordecai Brown
9. Eddie Plank
10. Amos Rusie
11. Rube Waddell
12. Rube Foster
13. Joe McGinnity
14. Red Faber
15. Clark Griffith
16. Eppa Rixey
17. Stan Coveleski
18. Jose Mendez
   42. bjhanke Posted: April 07, 2009 at 04:55 AM (#3127709)
Sunnyday, are you aware of the old group The Baseball Maniacs? Back in the 1970s, Tom (a private person who doesn't always want his full name quoted), who founded the group with some other people from St. Louis, divided the Hall of Fame into the Inner Circle, the Middle Circle and the Outer Circle, and had us rank pretty much everyone who was eligible for the HoF. Your idea of a "small hall" is exactly the same as Tom's "Inner Circle." When we get all the positionals done, it might be fun to see if we could vote up the HoM into the three circles. Then you'd get to see a real voting consensus as to who your Small Hall might contain. - Brock
   43. Blackadder Posted: April 07, 2009 at 05:40 AM (#3127721)
If you want the HOM electorate's views on who counts as "inner circle", you could always just look at the positional voting, with the proviso that many people who participated in the regular elections did not participate in those ones.
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: April 07, 2009 at 05:41 AM (#3127723)
I have no objection to extending the deadline, perhaps ironic since I'd have been fired on any single day for several decades if I couldn't actually, you know, make deadline.

But the core of this group for years seems to have been determined to wait until the last second, then not meet the deadline - or meet it barely.

I'm not even trying to be critical; it is what it is, and my own computer illiteracy no doubt inconveniences others.

We have time, as this overall pitching effort is the last exercise of 2009 perhaps.
   45. sunnyday2 Posted: April 07, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3128408)
Hall of Fame

Hall of Very Good

Hall of Oops
   46. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: April 08, 2009 at 03:14 AM (#3129305)
OCF - thanks for your comments to Dan's least favorite fan. Right on the mark.

Howie - the really funny thing is that John made this election 3 weeks, and then we still needed the extra week. Going forward, I think we're better off with reverting to the 2 week time frame, and then extending if necessary. I think it is a wait for the last minute thing, and then oops, something else comes up at the last minute that gets in the way. I'm usually guilty of this as well, although this time around, I did get mine in on Friday. :-)
   47. Howie Menckel Posted: April 12, 2009 at 04:51 AM (#3134880)
When does this thing actually end again?

Reminder: Voters are allowed to cast their ballots more than 20 seconds before any announced deadline.
   48. Esteban Rivera Posted: April 12, 2009 at 04:44 PM (#3134991)
Pitchers 1893-1923

Ask me tomorrow and the bottom half would probably change:

1) Walter Johnson - Among the candidates for best ever.

2) Cy Young - They named the award after him, didn't they?

3) Pete Alexander - Alexander edges ahead of Mathewson with some war credit.

4) Christy Mathewson - The original smart finesse pitcher?

5) Smokey Joe Williams - Everything points to a top class pitcher.

6) Kid Nichols - Criminally forgotten nowadays.

7) Eddie Plank - Has enough career to place ahead of the peaks.

8) Mordecai Brown - The defense issue reminds me of the chicken or egg argument. Was he a great pitcher because of the defense or was he a great pitcher who utilized his defense to great effect?

9) Ed Walsh - Here's a peak that trumps some of the careers below it.

10) Amos Rusie - Like Walsh, another workhorse for a short period of time.

11) Rube Waddell - Includes minor league credit.

12) Rube Foster - The Rubes are paired up.

13) Clark Griffith - The poster boy for pitching in a pinch?

14) Stan Coveleski - Includes extra credit.

15) Joe McGinnity - Includes some credit.

16) Jose Mendez - Can't find a higher place for him.

17) Red Faber - Wasn't too crazy about him when elected.

18) Eppa Rixey - Wasn't too crazy about him when elected.
   49. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 13, 2009 at 02:38 PM (#3135977)
I actually had my list made weeks ago, but the thought of typing out comments dissuaded me from actually posting them earlier.

1) Walter Johnson-P (n/e): The very best. Outstanding peak and career - 'nuff said! Best major league pitcher for 1912, 1913, 1914, 1918 and 1925. Best AL pitcher for 1915 and 1924.

2) Cy Young-P (n/e): No, he wouldn't have won 500 games if he had started his career the same year as the Big Train or won 400 games post-WWII, but the guy was Warren Spahn, Sr. Best major league pitcher 1896, 1901, 1902 and 1903.

3) Pete Alexander-P (n/e): Our first member of the House of David to be elected! Mahletov! :-D Best major league pitcher of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1920. Best NL pitcher for 1927

4) Smokey Joe Williams-P (n/e): I think he was slightly below Alexander, but above Big Six.

5) Kid Nichols-P (n/e): I give him some credit for 1902-03.Best major league pitcher for 1892, 1897 and 1898.

6) Christy Mathewson-P (n/e): He may be overrated by some people based upon a lack of context for his statistical achievements, but he's clearly among the top echelon of this group. Greatest pitcher who played exclusively during the Deadball Era. Best major league pitcher for 1905, 1909. and 1911. Best NL pitcher for 1908, 1910, 1912 and 1913.

7) Eddie Plank-P (n/e): The "Mechanical Man" of pitching during the Deadball Era. Wind him up and he gave you at least 250 innings of fine mound work every season. I agree with some of the others here that Plank is much closer to the first 6 on my ballot than the rest, too.Best FL pitcher for 1915.

8) Stan Coveleski-P (n/e): Excellent pitcher whose prime straddled the Deadball and Lively Ball eras. Consistently near the top among the best pitchers for almost all of the seasons that he pitched.

9) Rube Waddell-P (n/e): I am giving him average-value credit for 1898-99, which helps him among this group. Tied for best major league pitcher for 1902. Best AL pitcher for 1905.

10) Amos Rusie-P (n/e): He actually didn't make my ballot back in 1904, which was very silly in retrospect. Best ML pitcher for 1893 and 1894.

11) Joe McGinnity-P (n/e): Durability, in the defense of your team, is no vice! :-) Best major league pitcher for 1900 and 1903. Best NL pitcher for 1904.

12) Three Finger Brown-P (n/e): Great defense behind him hurts his place on my ballot, but not severely. Best major league pitcher for 1906. Best NL pitcher for 1910.

13) Red Faber-P (n/e): Of all of the Black Sox pitchers, I'll take Faber over Cicotte any day of the week (comparable peak and much longer career). Best major league pitcher for 1921 and 1922.

14) Eppa Rixey-P (n/e): Before Spahn, he was the winningest lefty in the NL. Comparable to Faber, except Red had a better peak.

15) Rube Foster-P (n/e): High peak and long enough career allow him to be placed here.

16) Ed Walsh-P (n/e): The last of these inductess that I agree belong in the HoM. Best major league pitcher for 1908. Best AL pitcher for 1907.

17)José Méndez-P (n/e): Except at the time he first became eligible, I was never a fan of his candidacy. I'd still take him over Griffith, however.

18) Clark Griffith-P (n/e): Overrated. Never close to being a dominating pitcher and his career numbers are not really that impressive in context. HOVG.
   50. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 13, 2009 at 02:41 PM (#3135980)
Howie - the really funny thing is that John made this election 3 weeks, and then we still needed the extra week. Going forward, I think we're better off with reverting to the 2 week time frame, and then extending if necessary.

I think the number of candidates might have scared off a few voters, IMO.
   51. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 13, 2009 at 02:44 PM (#3135983)
When does this thing actually end again?

Tonight at 8, Howie, as I posted above last week. I had no intention of working on this on Easter. :-)
   52. Juan V Posted: April 13, 2009 at 08:18 PM (#3136444)

3) Pete Alexander-P (n/e): Our first member of the House of David to be elected!

Did the Mets just sign him? :-)
   53. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 13, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3136666)
Did the Mets just sign him? :-)

Heh. I was also following that thread about Citi Field, Juan. :-)
   54. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 14, 2009 at 12:01 AM (#3136839)
The election is now over. Results will be posted after 24 ends.
   55. OCF Posted: April 14, 2009 at 12:15 AM (#3136872)
All right, John will be the one to post the new thread. But 24 doesn't even come on until four hours from now, so I'll give a glimpse of the results in the post I was making ready for later:

Here is my version with both the average placement and the standard deviation of placement for each candidate. The first number after each name is the average placement and the second number is the standard deviation.

1.  Johnson .  1.00  0.00
2.  Young 
. .  2.00  0.00
3.  Alexander  3.05  0.22
4.  Williams 
4.58  0.87
5.  Mathewson  4.95  0.69
6.  Nichols 
.  5.42  0.75
7.  Plank 
. .  8.00  1.75
8.  Walsh 
. .  8.89  2.49
9.  Rusie 
. .  9.37  1.60
10. Brown 
. . 11.68  3.13
11. Coveleski 12.53  2.68
12. McGinnity 13.21  3.05
13. Waddell 
13.42  2.58
14. Foster 
.  13.74  2.12
15. Mendez 
.  14.58  3.12
16. Faber 
. . 14.74  1.94
17. Griffith  14.84  2.03
18. Rixie 
. . 15.00  2.90 


1. The election was disjoint between the top 6 and the bottom 12; these two groups did not mix.

2. Consensus scores on my -100 to 100 scale ranged from 79 to 87. The total agreement on the 6 vs. 12 split, and the substantial agreement within the top six, insured that that score would be high. I'm not going to bother breaking it out by individuals.

3. McGinnity and Brown did as much to define factions within the electorate as and candidates. Count me in the McGinnity high, Brown low faction

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