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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Pitchers Ballot (1924-1958)

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

Bullet Rogan
Dazzy Vance
Lefty Grove
Ted Lyons
Carl Hubbell
Red Ruffing
Willie Foster
Martin Dihigo
Satchel Paige
Wes Ferrell
Ray Brown
Bob Feller
Early Wynn
Bob Lemon
Warren Spahn
Hal Newhouser
Robin Roberts
Billy Pierce
Whitey Ford

The election ends May 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 19, 2009 at 10:58 PM | 68 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 19, 2009 at 11:00 PM (#3144948)
hot topics
   2. karlmagnus Posted: April 20, 2009 at 12:59 AM (#3145024)
Again, early – long tradition now! I will put the comments that I originally made when they were elected, but the ranking is my current one. The Negro League pitchers I am particularly unsure of, so have ranked them roughly where I originally ranked them, in the hope that I knew then more than I know now. Newhouser, Vance and Ruffing I have ranked higher than I had them at the time; Roberts, Wynn and Lemon lower.

1. Lefty Grove 1st in 1947 3941 innings at an OPS+ of 148, I’ll take it. Could have got close to 400 wins if he hadn’t been trapped in Baltimore.

2. Warren Spahn 1st in 1971 5243 IP, the most since the Big Train (and only a few coming up subsequently – Clemons is 500 short.) 363-245. 118ERA+ the only non-elite stat, but the IP compensates for that. Unlike Berra and Snider, better than his reputation.

3. Bob Feller 1st in 1962 Over 320 wins with WWII credit. 3827 innings, 266-162. ERA+ only 122, but pulled down by long tail and lack of wartime peak.

4. Carl Hubbell 3rd in 1949 Easy HOMer, personal HOM this year, 3591IP, 253-154 @130 ERA+. Welch’s W/L was better, and many more innings.

5. Satchel Paige 2nd in 1959 Not quite his reputation, not quite Smokey Joe Williams, but a HOMer nonetheless.

6. Whitey Ford 3rd in 1973 Even when you discount for Yankeehood and thus weak competition, he’s up here. 236-106, ERA+132 in 3170 innings (so no Joss career-length problem.) OPS+28, so no discount here, either

7. Hal Newhouser 7th in 1960 Hal Newhouser. 2993IP is shortish, but 207-150 and 130 ERA+ both excellent – average as a hitter. War discount should be quality, not length, so his career shouldn’t be shortened but his ERA+ reduced to the 122-125 level. At that level, he’s Cicotte with a slightly shorter career.

8. Robin Roberts 3rd in 1972 Not as good as Welch – fewer innings (4689), same ERA+ (113), fewer wins (286). In reality a great pitcher and an easy HOMer, but the group’s refusal to elect Beckley and Welch is causing a blockage.

9. Ted Lyons 8th in 1949 4161 IP, 260-230 and an ERA+ of 118 put him very close to Rixey, but fewer innings (4161) Better hitter – 43 vs 22 OPS+. Think currently he’s just below not just above. Not much WW2 credit – he was 41.

10. Ray Brown 12th in 1955. I’ve called him a pitching Wells, so here he goes. May move above Leonard if further info is positive, or below Beckwith if not.

11. Martin Dihigo 15th in 1950 Poor man’s Caruthers, but considerably less good than Caruthers either as a hitter (Caruthers OPS+135) or as a pitcher. Longer career, though. Scrapes over my HOM bar, but only just.

12. Dazzy Vance 42nd in 1942 2967IP@125, 197-140 Vance nice but shortish career, below pitcher glut, significantly less meritorious than Waddell, IMHO

13. Red Ruffing 25th in 1966 4344 IP@109, 273-225 Somewhat above average pitcher, with excellent counting stats because he happened to pitch for the Evil Empire (he was lousy for the Red Sox – typical). War credit would inflate his counting stats even further, but probably to just below 300 wins as he was winding down. ERA+ only 109, but 4333 IP and 273-225.

14. Bullet Rogan 16th in 1940 Very unsure of this placement, but not a HOMer on pitching alone, and not convinced he could have hit as well as that in the majors.

15. Early Wynn 7th in 1970 4564 innings at 106 ERA+, 300-244 not as good as Rixey, though more wins. Better than Grimes -- longer career. Missed 1945 but 43-44 should be discounted slightly. Would look better without early Washington part of his career (228-157 at about 115.) Hit nicely for his era – 53 OPS+

16. Billy Pierce 16th in 1987 Surprisngly good ERA+ in weaker league but not a Yankee. 3307 innings at 119 ERA+ 211-169 definitely better than Redding and Quinn, somewhere around Maglie. Swayed by consensus so moved him up towards ballot.

17. Wes Ferrell 38th in 1964 2623IP@117, 100OPS+, 193-128 Hon. Mention really, because of his hitting. Even Mays is only hovering around 15, and Ferrell not as good a pitcher, for not as long.

18. Bob Lemon 10th in 1967 2850IP, 207-128, ERA+ of 119, plus he could hit with OPS+ of 82. Distinctly better than Ferrell, and deserves a year or so’s war credit, since he didn’t start till 25.

19. Willie Foster 37th in 1945 Covaleski minus, I think – shortish career.
   3. OCF Posted: April 20, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3145668)
Bob Lemon ... Distinctly better than Ferrell

And yet you rank him below Ferrell. I'm guessing that your comments are a collection taken from your yearly ballots and that of course you've done some shifts of opinion over the years. But just checking in - does the order of the ballot you just posted reflect your current opinion?
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 20, 2009 at 06:20 PM (#3145694)
1) Lefty Grove-P (n/e): King of all lefthanders. His minor league years are just icing on an impressive cake. Best AL pitcher for 1928 and 1936. Best major league pitcher for 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, close in 1933, and 1935.

2) Warren Spahn-P (n/e): The Cy Young of his era. Best ML pitcher for 1947 and 1964. Best NL pitcher for 1957 and 1958

3) Satchel Paige-P (n/e): Not the best all-time, but clearly in the upper echelon.

4) Robin Roberts-P (n/e) Too bad he didn't pitch during the '60s. Maybe more baseball fans would know who he is today. Best NL pitcher for 1952, 1955, and 1956. Best ML pitcher for 1953 and very close in 1956.

5) Bob Feller-P (n/e): I gave Feller WWII credit, but at a much lower rate of innings than he had pre-WWII. Still places extremely high here. Best AL pitcher for 1939. Best ML pitcher for 1940.

6) Carl Hubbell-P (n/e): A great one. Too bad that there is too much emphasis on his All-Star performance in '34 instead of his terrific pitching when it really counted. Best major league pitcher for 1933 and 1936.

7) Hal Newhouser-P (n/e): Truly dominating (and he still would have kicked butt in '44 and '45 if Joe D., Teddy Ballgame, Hammerin' Hank, etc. had played, IMO), his career was long enough that I don't feel bad placing him this high. Best major league pitcher for 1945 and 1946 (extremely close in '44). Best AL pitcher for 1947 and 1948.

8) Ray Brown-P (n/e): Another great NeLer forgotten due to the vagaries of time. How many of us had even heard of him before this project? Possibly would have been the best major league pitcher for 1938.

9) Whitey Ford-P (n/e): The best AL pitcher of the '50s. Consistently good. I'm giving him credit for '52-'53. Best AL pitcher of 1961 and 1963.

10) Bullet Rogan-P (n/e): Amazing pitcher who could really hit. It's hard not to come to the conclusion that he was the best pitcher/hitter combination not named Ruth (and Ruth didn't do it anywhere near as long).

11) Martin Dihigo-EVERYTHING! (n/e): I'm very impressed by the sum total of his career. Nobody is really comparable to him. That uniqueness makes him standout among his peers, IMO.

12) Ted Lyons-P (n/e): If he had only pitched for the Yankees...Best major league pitcher for 1927.

13) Dazzy Vance-P (n/e): The Dazzler! What a weird, but wonderful career. If he only had those bone chips removed years earlier. Last of the pitchers from this group that I supported during the regular election cycle. Best major league pitcher for 1924 and 1928. Best NL pitcher for 1930.

14) Willie Foster-P (n/e): He was extremely close to making my ballot the year he was elected, FWIW.

15) Red Ruffing-P (n/e): A very good pitcher and could hit, but those crappy seasons with the BoSox don't really help his case that much.

16) Wes Ferrell-P (n/e): A longer career would have been nice, since his peak was quite good. The best pitcher that I ever had so far on my DMB team.

17) Bob Lemon-P (n/e): I'd really like to give him WWII credit, but I don't see how it's possible in his case. If it's possible, that would move him up a few spots.

18) Billy Pierce-P (n/e): Not really a dominating pitcher, but I see why others here like him.

19) Early Wynn-P (n/e): Even though I have him ranked here, a 300-game winner has to have been at least a HOVG pitcher.
   5. karlmagnus Posted: April 20, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3145708)
Grandma, the best pitcher-hitter combo, whether or not named Ruth, was Parisian Bob Caruthers. Ruth was never a better pitcher, later of course became a much better hitter, but his best combo years were not as good as Parisian Bob's peak.

OCF, yes the comments are the original ones, so my view later changed. Ferrell/Lemon very close; this time around I gave Ferrell's extra 18 points of OPS+ more credit than Lemon's 227IP and 2 points of ERA+. With hindsight, Ferrell was (unless I'm forgetting one) the only major post-1920 pitcher whose hitting was good enough to strengthen a team's offense significantly; effectively a team with Ferrell had a DH, although only a moderately good one.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 20, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3145719)
Grandma, the best pitcher-hitter combo, whether or not named Ruth, was Parisian Bob Caruthers.

Nope. ;-)
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: April 21, 2009 at 12:16 AM (#3146052)
1. Grove. I think James said he was the only pitcher ever who had an argument over the Big Train.

2. Spahn. Spahn or Paige? Paige or Spahn? The only serious difference is that Spahn's accomplishments are better documented.

3. Paige.

4. Hubbell. Struck out 5 guys in a row!

5. Roberts. Nearly forgotten but other than Grove, the best prime of any MLer on this list.

6. Feller. Almost as good as Roberts. No, really.

7. R. Brown. Somewhere in the Jim Palmer-3 Finger Brown range.

8. Ford. Overrated, but substantially better than the guys below. The small hall ends here.


9. Newhouser. I would cheerfully list these four in just about any order. I really have no idea.

10. Dihigo.

11. Vance.

12. Rogan. Even a large hall probably should have ended here.


13. W. Foster.

14. Ruffing. 39-96 as of early 1930. One trade away from being Bobo Newsom.

15. Lyons. That Sunday thing was brilliant. His manager should be in the HoM. Wow, Jimmie Dykes was his manager from early '34 to early '46 when he was succeeded by...Teddy Lyons.

16. Ferrell.
17. Lemon.
18. Pierce. Some good years but, hey, Doc Gooden had better. Ferrell 193-128, 117 in 2623 IP. Lemon 207-128, 119 in 2850. Pierce 211-169, 119 in 3306. Gooden 194-112, 110 in 2800. OK, 110 is not 117 or 119 but, seriously, I don't see a huge gap there.

19. Wynn. One trade away from being Hugh Mulcahy.
   8. Mike Green Posted: April 22, 2009 at 08:25 PM (#3148428)

If you have a large Hall ending after Rogan, it means that you have way under 30% of the Hall being pitchers. That seems strange, unless you think that a greater percentage of run prevention ought to be attributed to fielders, as opposed to pitchers, than almost everyone else.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 27, 2009 at 01:12 PM (#3154322)
Three ballots for the first week...
   10. DL from MN Posted: April 27, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3154336)
I'd post a ballot but I wanted more discussion on Bullet Rogan before I submit.
   11. sunnyday2 Posted: April 27, 2009 at 01:41 PM (#3154341)
Mike, the number of honorees at the other positions would be similarly truncated.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: April 27, 2009 at 01:51 PM (#3154355)
Oh #### no edit function. What's with that?

I would add, however, that the distribution of players in a hall of honor by position has nothing really to do with the distribution of run scoring and/or run prevention, because halls of honor recognize individual players not classes of players.

Eg. the distribution of pitcher run prevention among individual pitchers has evolved dramatically. Of course it's also true that the distribution of run prevention among pitchers and fielders has changed, too, but let me set that aside for the sake of example. Before 1893, pitcher run prevention was concentrated among a small number of pitchers, many of whom therefore could run up huge numbers of whatever your measure is (WS, WARP, etc.). Over the past quarter-century, OTOH, pitcher run prevention is fragmented among a very large pool of pitchers, none of whom can come even close to having the kind of value the old-timers had.

So even if the allocation of run prevention had not changed, you could easily have many more pitchers in your hall of honor, on a per team basis, from the 19C than from the 21C. Some would agree that in fact we should, because that's where real value lay. Others would say, no, I still only want x percent. I could see going either way, but in the end it comes down to cases.

Ie. the HoM elected a fixed number of players and, so, in the end we had to decide (theoretically) between Bucky Walters and Kirby Puckett. Nobody appealed to the current distribution of HoMers by position in making those choices.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: April 28, 2009 at 01:39 AM (#3155240)
I've got 11 slots down out of the 19; will definitely make it (why ruin a perfect record?)

Maybe by this weekend.
   14. DL from MN Posted: April 30, 2009 at 08:48 PM (#3159426)
Better post it, doesn't look like I'm going to get much additional discussion.

1) Lefty Grove - Trails only Walter Johnson, maybe Clemens. Strong post-season value also.
2) Warren Spahn - right after Seaver
3) Satchel Paige - more career, less peak than Feller
4) Bob Feller - 3 seasons war credit, just behind Paige
5) Martin Dihigo - My notes say 125 OPS+, 110 ERA+ as a pitcher in 460 games. His value in context due to positional flexibility on a tight roster is probably higher than his translated value but that helped his teams win. Some wild combination of Orel Hershiser, Tony Phillips and Dave Parker.
6) Carl Hubbell - In the Carlton/Blyleven/Perry/Niekro group
7) Dazzy Vance - His career had a late start, and therefore an odd shape. Still, the value is enormous.
8) Robin Roberts - I don't really think of him as being in this group, a slightly lesser Blyleven
9) Ray Brown - Assuming Ferguson Jenkins but with a decent bat
10) Whitey Ford - 2.4 postseason WPA leads this group, gets war credit
11) Ted Lyons
12) Hal Newhouser - Lyons/Newhouser is career v. peak but they end up nearly tied in my spreadsheet
13) Bill Foster - Seems a lot like Whitey Ford, Lyons, Newhouser, etc. This would put him close to Mendez overall also.
14) Bullet Rogan - a poor guess due to lack of MLEs but better than nothing. Good hitter, long career if you include military credit.
))) Tommy Bridges - We're overlooking this strikeout machine. Good postseason work with 1.4 WPA which is similar to Koufax postseason value. Gets WWII credit. He comps to Drysdale, Marichal, Bunning, Koufax and Stieb.
15) Red Ruffing - 2.0 postseason WPA, good hitter
16) Wes Ferrell - very good hitter, hurt by short career
17) Billy Pierce - I don't like him as much as I did when he was elected but still better than some others in my PHoM. 60th best pitcher overall (not including those ineligible)
))) Dizzy Dean - not PHoM but damned close to the line. Wouldn't mind if he was the last guy in from this era.
18) Early Wynn - inducted into my PHoM, if I could redo it he wouldn't make it. I like Hilton Smith, Bucky Walters, Virgil Trucks, Dizzy Trout, Lefty Gomez and Wilbur Cooper better among others.
19) Bob Lemon - career too short, hitting does not add enough, only beats out Rollie Fingers among pitchers we have inducted. Not in my top 100 pitchers. Big Freaking Mistake, like Nellie Fox division.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: May 01, 2009 at 04:20 AM (#3160070)

1. LEFTY GROVE - Cleared 150 ERA+ a ridiculous 11 times, and topped 175 a staggering five times. 9 ERA titles. Top 3 in wins 7 straight years. Top 6 in IP 7 straight years and 10 of 11. Struck out 593 times, the most ever by a pitcher. But we'll overlook that. Oh, minor league credit for sure; was a MLB-quality guy by any measure in Baltimore. Of course, he doesn't need it either, well not 'til the finals against the all-time SPs of all eras.

2. WARREN SPAHN - Spahnie won 180 games after his 35th birthday, which ain't bad. Top 10 in Wins AND innings AND Complete Games every single year from 1947-63; in top 3 in Wins in 14 of those 17 years (and league leader in 8 of them). Top 3 in Innings every year from 1947-59. Led league in Complete Games every year from 1957-63, at age 36 through 42. Hey, I love ERA+, but if you don't see this guy as one of the greatest pitchers ever, might be time to rethink your criteria, he says respectfully.

3. BOB FELLER - He's spectacularly good at both age 21 and 27, and quite useful at age 17-18 and age 35-36. HOMer even with FOUR missing or near-missing seasons that likely would have been outstanding. Strikeout totals are ridiculously low for him re 1952-56, yet he still had decent results. A super-fireballer turned no-stuff-but-still-gets-outs guy. Great career, and we know it woulda been so much better without the damn war. Maybe he'd have burned out sooner, but he also would have burned out brighter.

4. SATCHEL PAIGE - Best pitcher on the 1952 Browns at age 45. Muddy middle career, but don't let it fool you. He was great earlier, dazzled at times later, and was a top-notch pitcher who was actually pitching, a lot, even when it wasn't those "organized Negro Leagues."

5. CARL HUBBELL - ERA+ in his nine years with 240+ innings: 193 169 168 149 140 124 122 121 118. What really clinches it is going top-3 in IP in each of the five eye-popping years. Has four useful years beyond the top 9 as well. Not the top career guy, but has friends in both the peak and prime community no doubt.

6. WHITEY FORD - A rare combination of good peak and career length with phenomenal prime. Deserves some war credit as well. Superficially nearly matches Hubbell in ERA+ head-to-head battle, but Whitey was not in the top 7 in IP in either of his best (176-170) ERA+ years. Cemented his place with a 24-7 1963 leading the AL in IP, then a 170 ERA+ in 245 IP in 1964. 2.71 ERA in 146 World Series IP, went 10-8. 1960-61, insane 32 scoreless while going 4-0 in those Series.

7. ROBIN ROBERTS - Led the league in IP 10 times - the same number of times he cleared 120 ERA+. Unusually high combo of workhorse and thoroughbred, underrated by history. Top 5 in IP a remarkable 10 times, led every year from 1951-55. Margins ahead of 2nd-place finisher from 1952-55: 40-81-53-48. Yes, he threw a total of 222 more IP than the runnersup, who of course were different people. ERA+s 141-152-136-121. We tend to look at those as "not dazzling," but when you throw THAT many more IP than anyone else, think again. Also rang up some mediocre and crappy years, which our various systems weigh differently.

8. RAY BROWN - A review of the MLEs and other analysis suggests a Robin Roberts/Ted Lyons type, and I like the type. One of the best pitchers in his league year in and year out, and the late-career jaunt in Mexico is interesting. Nice combo of peak and prime; only Roberts' stunning IP tallies win the day.

9. TED LYONS - First or second in IP four times. Top 6 in ERA eight times. Blew out his arm in mid-career 1931, and the White Sox had the brains to use him in fewer IP per year thereafter. I can see how some would downplay the value of the innings by more than this, but it's still 4200 IP of 118 ERA+. Works for me.

10. MARTIN DIHIGO - His quick election might have made some squeamish, in the sense that we can't hammer down numbers or even rock-solid MLEs, IMO. But too many contemporaries were too dazzled by his performances for us to fret on that count. At a certain point, we have to put some faith in countless eyewitnesses to do this project. Arguably could be as high as No. 8 or as low as No. 13.

11. HAL NEWHOUSER - Maybe a 'weaker' slot than some would have him, but I like him plenty. I see little reason to believe he would not have sliced and diced all comers in '44 and '45 even if there was no WW II. Would be intriguing to see career stats of Prince Hal vs Cronin, Dickey, Appling, DiMaggio, and Boudreau. 2993 IP is shortish, but 207-150 and 130 ERA+ both excellent – and league average as a hitter. War discount should be quality, not length, so his career shouldn’t be shortened but his ERA+ reduced to the 122-125 level.

12. WILLIE/BILL FOSTER - Better than half-brother, Rube. Bittersweet to read this: Detroit slugger Charlie Gehringer told Foster after a 1929 game involving the two, "If I could paint you white, I could get $150,000 for you right now." Ugh.

13. BULLET ROGAN - Very unsure of this placement, but not a HOMer on pitching alone, and not convinced he could have hit as well as that in the majors. But I still think he would have been a solid hitter, even better than Ferrell, and he had the sort of dominance and reputation that makes him seem stronger than the rest of this pack.

14. DAZZY VANCE - Wildly, wildly overrated by the crowd. Three incredible years, but only reached 120 ERA+ a total of four times. Dazzy dazzles our crowd, Dizzy not so much. Go figure. So shockingly bad as a hitter than someone with more guts might have convinced me to rate him behind all of the hybrids here.

15. EARLY WYNN - I like these long-career good SPs; they suffer in ERA+ because they had long peaks and long struggles. Outstanding in 55 mostly relief IP at age 43; seems like he coulda played another year, in spite of the myth that he was a hanger-on. Nearly caught from behind due to batting issues.

16. RED RUFFING - I see him as very Rixey-like. Tiny edge on peak, which Rixey only reverses with superior war credit and late-career advantage.A little WW II credit helps, and he really racked up the innings. And of coiurse he was quite the apple-smacker, which is critical. And gotta love his overcoming losing four toes on his left foot in a mine accident as a kid. Seemed to have something left when he was drafted for 1943, so a little war credit cinches this slot.
17. WES FERRELL - Also not a Hall of Merit-quality pitcher. But with hitting, too, yes he belongs. .280 career hitter, 100 OPS+, wow. 1931 - .319, 9 HR, 30 RBI in 128 AB - about the equivalent of 35 HR, 115 RBI per 500 AB. 151 OPS+. Also went 22-12 that year with a 122 ERA+. Hit .347 in 1935, with 7 HR, 32 RBI in 150 AB. 140 OPS+, and went 25-14 with a league-leading 322 IP and 134 ERA+. So why isn't he higher? His entire age 30+ career is worthless to me.

18. BOB LEMON - Seven straight years in the top 4 in IP, and in four of those years he was right there with the best "rate" pitchers as well. Also a very good hitter; how much that is worth to you may determine the fate of a lot of these pitchers

19. BILLY PIERCE - I like Pierce as a pitcher, and think of him as better than a number of the guys above him. But he was almost as bad a hitter as Vance, and without the monster peak. I must respect the value of the hitting of the other guys, granting that it was an era where most pitchers weren't as helples opponents there as Pierce or Vance. Some interesting comparisons with Griffith, but a little less effective, played in a weaker league vs a strong one-league, etc.
   16. Rob_Wood Posted: May 02, 2009 at 01:47 AM (#3161162)
My ballot:

1. Lefty Grove: all time great, definitely in top 5
2. Satchel Paige: storied long-career pitcher who was clearly great (just ahead of spahn)
3. Warren Spahn: consistently among the top pitchers in the league every year
4. Bob Feller: teen-age sensation, great strikeout pitcher
5. Carl Hubbell: great control artist

6. Whitey Ford: over-rated by public, but a truly great pitcher
7. Robin Roberts: complete games and innings eater
8. Ted Lyons: aged well
9. Joe Rogan: hard thrower, again difficult to rank
10. Red Ruffing: tale of two cities

11. Dazzy Vance: luv the strikeouts, stuck in majors a bit too late
12. Martin Dihigo: multi-position star, hard to rank
13. Hal Newhouser: great during and immediately after the war
14. Ray Brown: great 1940 season
15. Early Wynn: a lot of solid seasons add up to something

16. Willie Foster: very good pitcher for a few years
17. Billy Pierce: spotty career, helped Giants to 1962 pennant
18. Bob Lemon: not sure he belongs in HOM, maybe his bat makes him worthy
19. Wes Ferrell: bat does not put him above any of these guys
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: May 02, 2009 at 02:52 AM (#3161187)
It appears balloting is scheduled to end on Sunday night
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 02, 2009 at 07:36 PM (#3161526)
I know you will be surprised to here this ;-), but since the number of ballots so far is pretty pathetic, Joe and I have decided to extend the election for one more week.
   19. puck Posted: May 02, 2009 at 08:14 PM (#3161579)
I am sorry if this is the wrong place to bring this up, but there are so few newsblog entries on the likes of Grove and Hubbell. Would anyone care to comment on their usage patterns? In peak years, they made more starts than one would make on a 5-man rotation, but they never started a full quarter of the team's games. They also made a lot of relief appearances. Is this typical usage for an ace of the era? Their teams seemed to use 4 primary starters; on what occasions did the other pitchers make their starts? Did Grove suffer injuries as well? He started more than 30 games (32) only once in his 11 post-age 30 seasons.

Sorry, that ended up being a lot of questions.
   20. Brent Posted: May 02, 2009 at 08:58 PM (#3161668)
Although pitchers have been used in a rotation-like pattern since at least the 1880s, my understanding is that the "rigid" version of the 4-man rotation (that is, repeatedly rotating through the pitchers in exactly the same order) didn't become common until sometime in the 1950s or early 60s. The 5-man rotation became common in the 1970s and 80s. Before about 1950s, it was common for teams to "leverage" starting pitchers by adjusting the timing of their starts so the team's best pitcher would get more starts against its strongest opponents. (I learned about this through a series of articles on starting pitcher leverage by Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times; he also contributed much of this information to our early discussions of pitchers here at the HoM.)

My understanding is that an important reason why leveraging was so much more important before the 1960s (and the rigid rotation wasn't feasible then) is that travel via train took more time, and led to more off days and more doubleheaders. So while teams usually had four main starters, they also needed at least a couple of guys who could switch from long relief to starting as needed. Also, sometimes managers would use a team's ace starter as the relief ace when needed; it was a way to get some value from the ace while resting him to face a crucial opponent. I think expansion probably also played a role in the move to a rigid rotation--with 8-team leagues, each pair of teams faced each other 22 times during the season, so arranging for your best pitcher to face your opponent in the pennant race could make quite a difference.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: May 03, 2009 at 04:33 AM (#3162043)
Can we email all the voters in previous positional elections?
I think we need at least 15 votes to be representative.

Generally speaking, this ballot has about one-third guys voters will love, one-third they see as as solid, and one-third they also serve as HOMers (or not).
   22. mulder & scully Posted: May 03, 2009 at 07:53 AM (#3162066)
I'll be posting a ballot today.
   23. OCF Posted: May 03, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3162274)
My ballot. With pitchers, I've got a distinct career value lean. My methods and reasons are on display in the discussion thread.

1. Grove
2. Spahn
3. Paige - Paige and Spahn both lasted forever, and are otherwise hard to compare.
4. Hubbell
5. Feller
6. Roberts
7. Ruffing. Yes, that's higher than most of you have him.
8. Brown
9. Ford
10. Dihigo. From here down, many orders would have been possible.
11. Lyons
12. Vance. Better than my RA+ numbers by DERA; worse by offense.
13. Newhouser
14. Wynn
15. Foster
16. Rogan
17. Pierce
18. Ferrell - I made too much of his offense earlier.
19. Lemon - probably the one I wouldn't have elected.
   24. Esteban Rivera Posted: May 03, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3162283)
I've been dealing with finals and several work presentations. I don't think I'll be able to get one in today but if there is an extension I'll be able to finish my ballot in the next few days.
   25. puck Posted: May 03, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3162331)
#20, thanks.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2009 at 11:27 AM (#3162803)
Can we email all the voters in previous positional elections?
I think we need at least 15 votes to be representative.

I'm going to broadcast an e-mail via our Yahoo! site, Howie.
   27. Kenn Posted: May 04, 2009 at 03:41 PM (#3162991)
I should be able to post a ballot late today. Sorry for the delay.
   28. Mark Donelson Posted: May 04, 2009 at 09:00 PM (#3163472)
Here's my ballot. Blessed be the extension; I got back from a weekend trip later than expected.

1. Lefty Grove. Easily, even without any minor-league credit.
2. Satchel Paige. I'm trusting Brent's analysis here, but since it brings our view more in line with the historical view, it "makes sense." Would have liked to hear any opposing views, but it's not a huge change anyway--he'd have been at worst 4th before I read Brent's recent post on the Paige thread.
3. Bob Feller. Obviously I'm in the minority view here, but I feel his peak (including large helpings of war credit) just edges out Spahn's career. Barely.
4. Warren Spahn. No argument here that he was one of the greatest--one of those careers that's like one huge prime.
5. Dazzy Vance. Love the peak, even if it's short. (Hey, I like Dizzy more than most, too.)
6. Robin Roberts. One of the great discoveries for me in this project: I'd never realized how great Roberts was. I guess he could be described as Spahn-lite, but not by much, and that's not faint praise anyway.
7. Carl Hubbell. Always thought of him as a peak guy, but he's really more a prime guy (if the distinction isn't a silly one).
8. Martin Dihigo. As a NeL guy with value as a hitter too, he's doubly hard to pin down, but I lean toward the upper side of our consensus view of his value.
9. Hal Newhouser. I'm not entirely convinced he'd have been as dominant in the war years with everyone playing, but his peak is still plenty good.
10. Whitey Ford. Pitchers from the '50s in general score weakly in my system in general, and Ford scores weakly in particular. I've made a lot of adjustments to correct for all that, and more adjustments for Ford's usage patterns, and he ends up around here. The end result is almost as hazy as my NeL placements are, but I'm surprisingly confident in this case that I have it more or less right for my criteria.
11. Ray Brown. Here, however, I get really uncertain. The comparisons to Roberts and Lyons seem fair enough, and he seems to fall somewhere between the two. I'm guessing here.
12. Wes Ferrell. This will probably be his highest position on any ballot by a wide margin, but he was always a favorite of mine. Great short peak (and I've shown before my willingness to place more value on those than just about anyone), plus a bat of real quality.
13. Ted Lyons. Likewise, this appears to be Lyons's lowest showing thus far. Obviously more of a career candidate, which isn't as much to my taste; I have Ferrell just edging him out.
14. Bill Foster. Short career but nice peak--again quite my type. Similar to Ferrell, falling slightly short of him IMO. He, Lyons, and Ferrell are really very tight.
15. Billy Pierce. Another mega-adjusted '50s guy with usage patterns like Ford's. He ends up near the bottom of the group, but clearly pHOM.
16. Bullet Rogan. A guess, really--very hard to say with no MLEs, and his combo hitting-pitching candidacy makes it even tougher. I'm being admittedly quite conservative, but couldn't find much reason not to be.
17. Red Ruffing (not pHOM). Not as down on him as I once was, and he's not all that far from my pHOM now, with his hitting credit, but in general not the kind of pitcher I tend to like.
18. Early Wynn (not pHOM). Also not that far back, just a bit behind Ruffing.
19. Bob Lemon (not pHOM). Even all my '50s adjustments don't get him remotely close.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: May 05, 2009 at 12:35 AM (#3163748)
I haven't looked at that yahoo email in years myself, can't vouch for others.....
   30. DL from MN Posted: May 07, 2009 at 03:58 PM (#3168805)
8 ballots?! The glaring omissions are Joe Dimino and Chris Cobb. Brock Hanke is also missing. Kenn and mulder&scully;chimed in that they would be posting but haven't yet. That would make 13 which is much better than 8.
   31. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2009 at 11:39 PM (#3169866)
I haven't looked at that yahoo email in years myself, can't vouch for others.....

Did you sign up for the HoM group on Yahoo! (everybody who votes should be signed up, BTW), Howie? If you did, you should have received one (unless you turned that function off).
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2009 at 11:45 PM (#3169877)
That would make 13 which is much better than 8.

It's still pretty bad.
   33. Chris Cobb Posted: May 08, 2009 at 02:35 AM (#3170133)
I am around, but crazy busy. I was about to vote last Sunday when the extension was announced. I hope to take a look at MLE batting numbers for Joe Rogan before I vote, which is why I have been holding off, in addition to being crazy busy. I will definitely vote before the deadline.

Brent's posts on Martin Dihigo and Satchel Paige have been fabulous, btw. I wish we were doing more original analysis in the course of the positional rankings. . . I just don't have the time now, myself.
   34. Juan V Posted: May 08, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3170172)
Add another one

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-LEFTY GROVE: #3 among all HOM-considered pitchers.

2-BOB FELLER: Normal WW2 credit (using the same method as I do for hitters), although I see the argument for other approaches

3-WARREN SPAHN: His peak is HOM-able, which is good for someone with his career.






9-JOE ROGAN: The two-way guys give me total fits. It's a good thing they both clear the HOM line clearly.

10-ROBIN ROBERTS: A shorter careered Spahn

11-WHITEY FORD: A lot of help from his defenses. I'm adjusting for his usage patterns.



14-BILLY PIERCE: 90% of Ford



17-WES FERRELL: The ace pitcher, and probably the cleanup hitter, on the Born-on-my-birthday team.


19-BOB LEMON: Only non-PHOMer. Seems considerably less good than Ferrell. Case for war credit is iffy.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: May 08, 2009 at 03:09 AM (#3170173)
I still see 15 as the acceptable number of voters.

The law of diminishing returns already has a decent pecking order on many levels, as well as suggesting which areas are pretty much tossups. But every 3-4 votes adjust those parameters slightly, for the most part.

I don't actually use yahoo, and likely others who had to sign up years ago ultimately don't, either.

Given that we have more than 6 months til the next "yearly" election, I'll acknowledge that we can be a little patient here if need be.
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 08, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3171122)
I don't actually use yahoo, and likely others who had to sign up years ago ultimately don't, either.

Nobody needs to use Yahoo!, Howie, but only accept e-mails from the site. Of course, as I did yesterday as co-moderator, I sent a special e-mail to all members that overrode any e-mail restrictions.
   37. Kenn Posted: May 08, 2009 at 08:13 PM (#3171286)
Finally. No especially interesting comments; I have been using two systems, one a homegrown system based primarily on ERA+ with many adjustments, and the second a yearly head-to-head comparison of players, but the latter only complete through 1947.

1. Lefty Grove - easy first choice
2. Warren Spahn - Pick'em with Paige, but much more certain.
3. Satchel Paige - essentially even with Spahn. Had an edge earlier, than decided I liked Spahn's peak better. Among NeL, I have him second to Bill Foster in the 30s, still quite good in 40s, and keeping on into the majors.
4. Bob Feller - Next 4 form another group in my rating system. Incredible career start, and I give significant war credit.
5. Whitey Ford - very high on Ford, compared to others. Aways solidly above average, though IP could lag. Gets some war credit, at a solid level, given consistency afterwards.
6. Carl Hubbell - Excellent decade, consistently near league lead in IP with excellent ERA, but not as much beyond as the pitchers above.
7. Hal Newhouser - Scores unusually well in my system. Similar profile to Hubbell, but not quite as many effective years, and to some extend benefitting from wartime.
8. Bill Foster - Theres a significant gap after Newhouser in my ratings, which the NeL pitchers fit in well. That said, I think that is in part due to evening out effect of my attempts to rate NeL pitchers, either through MLEs or head-to-head comparisons over the years. Foster is the most impressive in my view, top NeL pitcher of the 30s.
9. Martin Dihigo - when I work through his NeL record, I actually consider Dihigo more valuable as a 2nd baseman than as a pitcher. Combined value puts him in the middle of this pack.
10. Bullet Joe Rogan - Best peak of the three Negro leaguers here, but I'm not terribly impressed with effectiveness later on in career.
11. Robin Roberts - Long, good quality career around poor years in middle, which I judge much more harshly than poor years at the beginning or end of a career.
12. Raymond Brown - Somewhat unsure of placement this high, as most credit comes from later era of NeL, where I may be too generous (and this could go for Paige, as well). Still, MLe's look okay as well, so leaving in the middle.
13. Red Ruffing - Not much to standout besides extremely long career, but it adds up.
14. Dazzy Vance - didn't spend enough time at high level to be rated higher, though easily qualified
15. Ted Lyons - Next four are essentially interchangeable in my system, though they get there different ways. Long, effective career, but seems to have relied a somewhat more on defense than the pitchers I've ranked ahead, and carried a poor BB/K record. I like Tommie Bridges above this tier.
16. Bob Lemon - Gets a small amount of war credit. Lacks the poor years in the middle of the career of some of the other pitchers in this group, but also lacks the career length.
17. Billy Pierce - More consistently above average then Wynn, but mostly only slightly, with one huge year. Still qualified, though.
18. Early Wynn - Long career, but just barely effective over it to make my PHOM.
19. Will Farrell - Not sufficiently impressed with pitching, even when complemented by hitting performance. Several other pitchers I prefer here, particularly Newcombe, Gomez, and Trucks.
   38. OCF Posted: May 08, 2009 at 08:56 PM (#3171400)
"Will Farrell"? What have you been watching?
   39. Brent Posted: May 09, 2009 at 06:24 AM (#3172064)
For quite a while I’ve included on my ballots brief summaries of pitchers’ records during their all-star-type seasons. Although my system for ranking players is quite a bit more complicated, these lines summarize the part of the career that I, as a peak/prime voter, tend to focus on. For quite a while I've reported BP's DERA+, which adjusts for defensive support. I observed that the numbers have changed quite a lot since these players appeared on my ballot (I report below the old number/new number when it appeared on my original ballot.) While I think DERA usually adjusts in the right direction, I think the new numbers tend to over-adjust for pitchers who received strong defensive support—e.g., Ford, Hubbell, Lemon—and frankly, I think some of them are implausible. So my rankings are perhaps more consistent with the old DERA numbers, or maybe somewhere between the raw ERA and the old DERA.

I know I’ll have a low consensus score.

1. Lefty Grove. Over 13 seasons (1926-33, ‘35-39) he averaged 21-8, 4.3 wins above team, 257 IP, 165 ERA+, 150 DERA+, 153 SO, 72 BB. He also has the best case for minor league credit of any player in the HoM—at least two of his minor league seasons (1921 and ‘23) belong in that line. One of the top 20 players of all time.

2. Satchel Paige. With the new HoF data (see my post on the Satchel Paige thread), it’s relatively easy to rank him ahead of Spahn. Although Spahn pitched great forever, Paige did it for even longer, and his peak was better than Spahn’s. Paige versus Grove is a tougher call, and I’m not completely sure I have it right.

3. Warren Spahn. Over 15 seasons (1947, 49-59, 61-63) he averaged 20-13, 3.1 wins above team, 280 IP, 127 ERA+, 126/125 DERA+, 47 OPS+.

4. Martín Dihigo. While I have to make a couple assumptions (I assume that he was a pretty good defensive player, especially during his younger years, and that he probably had a couple of very good seasons during his age 27 to 29 seasons in Venezuela for which data are unavailable), on the whole his career is actually quite well documented.

My high ranking is based on my assessment that there were two periods when he was one of the top five players in baseball: In 1926-27, as a young slugging infielder with an MLE OPS+ of about 148, his value can be compared to any active player except Ruth. Again, during 1936-38 as a pitcher who played the outfield when not pitching, his value can be compared to any active player except Gibson.

In the Cuban League of 1935-36 and again in the Mexican League of ‘38, he led the league in many or most batting and pitching categories. The summer of ’37 in the Dominican Republic, he appears to have been the second best hitter (behind Gibson) and the second best pitcher (behind Paige) in a very strong league.

Besides these five seasons as one of the top players in baseball, I figure a 20 year career as a major league-level player (1926-45) with at least 12 of them at the all-star level. His pitching records in Cuba (107-56) and Mexico (119-57) compare favorably, for example, with Luque (106-71 in Cuba).

5. Bob Feller. Over 8 seasons (1938-41, 46-47, 50-51) Feller averaged 22-11, 5.5 wins above team, 301 IP, 132 ERA+, 131/129 DERA+. Also receives credit for seasons missed for military service.

6. Robin Roberts. Over 11 seasons (1949-55, 58, 60, 62, 64) he averaged 19-13, 3.6 wins above team, 279 IP, 127 ERA+, 127/126 DERA+, 138 SO, 55 BB.

7. Wilbur Rogan. I haven’t run batting MLEs using the HoF data, but from eyeballing the data (.338/.409/.515), he appears to have been close to Dihigo as a batter. Career W-L record of 116-50 with a 3.66 TRA, plus credit for pre-NeLg career in the army.

8. Ray Brown. This high rating is consistent with his long career and good (105-44) NeLg W-L record, but his less impressive 4.16 TRA leaves me a little concerned that we may be overrating him.

9. Hal Newhouser. Over 7 seasons (1942, 1944-49) he averaged 21-12, 3.7 wins above team, 279 IP, 153 ERA+, 144/145 DERA+, and 177 SO. Even with a war discount, that’s one of the best pitcher peaks in baseball history.

10. Wes Ferrell. Over 8 seasons (1929-36) he averaged 20-12, 4.6 wins above team, 264 IP, 128 ERA+, 124/131 DERA+, 103 OPS+.

11. Carl Hubbell. Over 9 seasons (1929-37) he averaged 20-11, 3.0 wins above team, 291 IP, 141 ERA+, 125 DERA+, 136 SO, 53 BB.

12. Dazzy Vance. Over 7 seasons (1923-25, ’27-30) he averaged 20-12, 4.9 wins above team, 271 IP, 144 ERA+, 147 DERA+, 195 SO, 69 BB.

13. Bill Foster. According to the HoF data, he had a 143-69 record and 3.36 TRA, which I believe is second to Paige among the pitchers for whom data are available. Doesn’t rank higher because (a)his career was relatively short (15 years with most of his success in the 9 years from 1925 to ’33), (b) he received good defensive support, and (c) he didn’t contribute much with the bat.

14. Whitey Ford. Over 12 seasons (1953-56, ‘58-65) he averaged 18-8, 2.8 wins above team, 234 IP, 131 ERA+, 117/111 DERA+, 146 SO, 79 BB. I think BP’s new DERA has him significantly underrated.

15. Ted Lyons. Over 9 seasons (1925-27, ‘29-30, ’32, ’35, ’39, ’42) he averaged 17-12, 4.0 wins above team, 243 IP, 133 ERA+, 134 DERA+.

16. Bob Lemon. Over 9 seasons (1948-56) he averaged 21-12, 1.1 wins above team, 272 IP, 123 ERA+, 111/109 DERA+, 88 OPS+.

17. Early Wynn. Over 9 seasons (1943, 47, 50-52, 54-56, 59) he averaged 20-11, 2.0 wins above team, 257 IP, 126 ERA+, 117/119 DERA+, 64 OPS+.

18. Billy Pierce. Over 8 seasons (1950-53, ’55-58) he averaged 17-12, 1.5 wins above team, 246 IP, 134 ERA+, 121 DERA+.

19. Red Ruffing. Over 8 seasons (1925, 28, 32, 35-39) he averaged 17-12, 0.4 wins above team, 249 IP, 123 ERA+, 119/117 DERA+, 88 OPS+.
   40. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 09, 2009 at 09:24 AM (#3172084)
I've been lazy and missing these elections. Working nights makes it seem like I have a lot less free time. I'll try and get a ballot together by Sunday.
   41. Kenn Posted: May 09, 2009 at 01:47 PM (#3172120)
Hah, oops! And I'm not sure I've even seen an entire Will Ferrell movie... Let's try "Rick Ferrell" in slot 19...
   42. DL from MN Posted: May 09, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3172143)
Wow, Brent tops me for Best Friend of Dihigo. Can't say I have any arguments with his reasoning.
   43. Kenn Posted: May 09, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3172161)
Or Wes Ferrell. Arghhh.
   44. DL from MN Posted: May 09, 2009 at 10:59 PM (#3172659)
> Or Wes Ferrell. Arghhh.

...and Bullet Joe Rogan's name isn't Joe.
   45. bjhanke Posted: May 10, 2009 at 09:33 AM (#3172989)
Well, here's my ballot. As usual, I wrote a lot of comments, so I've listed these pitchers in order before those comments. Just for you guys who do the thankless job of tabulating all our stuff.

- Brock Hanke

Lefty Grove
Satchel Paige
Warren Spahn
Carl Hubbell
Bob Feller
Bullet Rogan
Martin Dihigo
Ted Lyons
Robin Roberts
Whitey Ford
Ray Brown
Red Ruffing
Hal Newhouser
Bob Lemon
Dazzy Vance
Early Wynn
Wes Ferrell
Billy Pierce
Willie Foster

Lefty Grove
Do I really have to write something to justify this placement?

Didn't think so. But just to you don't think I've started writing short comments, there was a post on BTF a few days ago that led to a YouTube video of Three-Finger Brown, of all people. The long url is:

The video was pieced together from a flip book, and is really fascinating, at least to me. The oddity everyone notices is that Brown's arm, at the bottom of his windup, flops against his butt. But watch his head. Right before the flop, Brown turns his head about 70 degrees to look directly at the catcher. Combined with the flop, the effect is to stretch his whole body out from head to hand and also from head to toe. Then what he does is just release the spring, letting his legs and torso do the work of propelling his arm around.

What does this have to do with Lefty Grove? Well, Grove and Satchel Paige had very thin builds, very flexible bodies, very similar to each other's, and as far as I can tell from what sources I have seen, they threw with similar motions, too. They did the stretch thing without the flop and then threw their whole bodies forwards like whips, with the baseball in the hand at the very end of the whip. That motion generates a lot of speed, but is thought to have been unusual for the times. Walter Johnson's very easy motion is supposed to be normal. I think it's interesting to se Brown taking the same approach in the early 1900s.

This motion, BTW, is similar to what Stan Musial did with his odd batting stance. I've mimicked the stance, and what I found is that Stan's twisted up body with the head peering over the right shoulder winds the body up just like Brown does. As soon as Stan took his step forward in the box, his body started to unwind, whirling his torso around and generating a lot of bonus bat speed out of his legs and rear end. That is, it's a speed mechanic for hitters as well as pitchers.

At the extreme, this leads to Bob Gibson, with the huge leg kick, completely stretched body, and violent fling forward. Gibson once said (I am paraphrasing), "You don't know what it's like to throw a 100-mph fastball. It hurts. Your whole body hurts. Your BUTT hurts." With that motion, it does. Your glutes come into play, driving your torso and arm. A great mechanic, and apparently earlier than anyone thought. There are even descriptions of Hoss Radbourne that suggest he was doing something similar, twisting his body around and then releasing it.

Satchel Paige
I am not at all certain that Satchel was not the very greatest pitcher of all time. The evidence is not solid enough to put him ahead of Lefty, but here's what I see:

1) Satchel is the standard of negro league comparison. You read a lot of people writing that Smokey Joe Williams or Bullet Rogan or someone was faster than Satchel, but no one saying that Satchel was faster than anyone else. Paige is the standard of comparison. He is also the most famous of all negro league pitchers (or players), and that's counting among his contemporaries and the white major leaguers he played against.

2) In the majors, Satchel pitched 476 innings, all in his 40s, with an ERA+ of 124. Nobody has an ERA+ of 124 in his 40s. Dazzy Vance pitched to age 44, with a CAREER ERA+ of 125. Spahn also made it to 44, but with a career ERA+ of only 118. No one else in this group pitched past age 42 except Bullet Rogan, who was not in the majors. Paige was even one of the pioneers of the closer role, with the Browns. That is, starting at age 41, Satchel Paige pitched beyond all expectations and was on the cutting edge of usage. The more I look at that, the more impressive it looks.

3) There may be negro league MLEs that have Satchel behind some others. But the others were guys who treated the negro leagues as their primary source of employment. Paige was by career a barnstormer who sometimes treated the negro leagues as a steady but unspectacular paycheck that he could skip or double up by making barnstorming side trips. So his workload and his focus were different from other negro leaguers, as best the anecdotes convince me. When Paige did hit the majors, he was competitive about it, enough to complain when his manager gave him only 2/3 IP in the World Series. (and Paige was right about that).

Warren Spahn
No war credit, for reasons that are in earlier posts, where I use Spahn as the poster boy for no war credit if you were young then and went on to have a huge career. The dangers of war credit show up comparing Spahn to his teammate Johnny Sain. Sain had almost the exact same development pattern as Spahn, although he was three years older throughout. But in spite of not having a full season in the majors until age 28, Sain did not last. His arm could not take the workloads that Spahn's could. One reason could very well be that Sain featured the curve ball, whereas it was secondary to Spahn. But whatever the reason, the difference between the two careers point out how difficult it is to actually figure out what kind of war credit to give someone.

This placement means that I think that Spahn's best 3500 or so innings would have an ERA+ of about 125 to add to the extra 1700 lesser innings he has over the competition.

Carl Hubbell
I have no idea how Carl managed to avoid getting out of AA ball until his jump to the majors. Since Detroit had the option during his minor league years, I have to suggest that the Detroit management just missed the boat. It's not like Carl was having trouble with the competition down in AA. It's hard to give minor league credit for AA work, but Carl might deserve a year or two. On the other hand, he didn't need any to end up here, and he wasn't going ahead of Spahn anyway, so I didn't have to decide.

Hubbell is what I'm looking for when I want consistency. There are fully 12 consecutive prime years without an ERA+ under 118, followed by a very orderly decline phase, with the ERA+ dropping each year until he's done. He's also what I'm looking for in World Series performance.
   46. bjhanke Posted: May 10, 2009 at 09:34 AM (#3172990)
Bob Feller
With war credit, he ends up with about 4300 IP and an ERA+ of 122. That ends up about here. He takes fewer deductions than some for pitching in the AL in the 1950s, because that's not the prime of his career, nor the bulk.

Bullet Rogan
I do give him a few years' credit for his decade of army pitching, although it's very possible that the low level of competition produced the Warren Spahn effect, whereby Rogan was able to pitch into his late 40s because his arm was so sound. In any case, Rogan did pitch until the very advanced age of 49.

When I first started following the negro leagues in the 1980s, analysis of them was just getting started. Sometimes, the analysts of the time just missed guys like Ray Brown. And sometimes they just underrated guys like Oscar Charleston. But the top reputations pretty much remain on top even now. And, in those 1980s, the only three pitchers I heard getting the top reps were Paige, Williams, and Rogan here. And when I confront a serous lack of real numbers, as I do here, I am very prone to letting the rep have its way. That's probably why I have Rogan ranked higher than the consensus here.

This ranking presumes that Rogan could hit as well as Wes Ferrell. I'll admit that I'm guessing here, entirely based on the man's reputation.

Martin Dihigo
I think a lot of Dihigo. He has a great negro league rep and the numbers to back it up. That being said, I think he would rank higher as a third baseman, where he would clearly be the best between Baker and Mathews. At third, I'd rank him somewhere between 4th and 7th because of the enormous extra pitching credit. That's in the Boggs / Brett class. And pundits of the 1980s did in fact count Dihigo as a hot cornerman.

BTW, the evidence as best I see it is that Martin was a fine defensive third baseman and corner outfielder, but not a great shortstop or catcher. He could play all nine positions, but if he had been outstanding at short or catcher, I think he'd have ended up there. I also think that neither he nor Rogan would have had the careers they had if they had been in the majors. Reason? Roster size. In the negro leagues, if someone got hurt, it would really help to have a Dihigo available to play in the field when not pitching. I see his usage pattern as something like start, day off, two days in the field, day off, start.... That, of course, presumes a period when Martin is pitching well enough to be in the rotation and there aren't a huge number of position-player injuries to cover for.

Ted Lyons
I have nothing serious to add to the discussion, as Lyons' career is pretty transparent. This is just where 4100 IP with a 118 ERA+ ended up in my rankings.

Robin Roberts
The second-longest major league career here. An ERA+ of 113. Pitched in the tough league of the 1950s. In my opinion, a testament to how long you can pitch if you throw almost all fastballs.

Whitey Ford
I am not a Ford fan. I am a Cardinals fan from the 1950s and 60s, when the Yankees were D**n. And he probably is the single pitcher here who takes the most discounts. He pitched in the 1950s for the weak league. That league had one dominant team and he was on it, so he didn't have to pitch against it. He had fine defenses behind him. He was a lefty pitcher in a ballpark that suppressed righty hitting. His workloads were lightish, although since he was in the World Series every year, the loads are not as light as the regular-season stats make them look. But still he does have 3170 IP and an ERA+ of 133 before you take those discounts.

Looking at the World Series records, I find that Ford's stats are about the same as his regular season ones except that he drops about one walk a game in the Series. That produces his Series ERA of 2.71, which is more impressive than his regular season figure of 2.75 because the level of the competition was higher in the Series. This is among the reasons that I don't take a huge 1950s discount. He pitched about as well against top end NL teams with black superstars as he always did.

Ray Brown
One of the negro league guys that the 1980s analysts missed; I don't know why. Perhaps he didn't have that flashy fastball. What he does have is a MLE of 4000 IP with a 119 ERA+. Even being conservative, that's here.

Red Ruffing
Huge IP, low ERA+, fine hitter. That balances to here for me. I rank Ruffing's hitting further behind Bob Lemon than the OPS+ (81 to 82) suggests. Why? Because Ruffing pitched 20 years earlier than Lemon, and pitcher hitting has been dropping downwards in a nice graceful parabolic curve ever since 1871. An OPS+ of 81 starting in 1924 simply is not nearly as impressive as an 82 starting in 1946.

Bonuses for Ruffing include 2 years of war credit and a bit of credit for fine pitching in the World Series.

Hal Newhouser
His 130 ERA+ starts to really stand out here, even after discounting the war years.

Bob Lemon
As I wrote about Ruffing, I am more impressed with Lemon's hitting than most, because it happened later than Red or Wes Ferrell. Also, here is where it gets hard to sort people out. No player's credentials really resemble the competition. I mean, after Bob here, I have a guy with about the same IP, but a higher ERA+, but lousy hitting. Then there's one with a huge IP, the lowest ERA+ here, and good hitting, but not great. At some point, you have to admit that the methods aren't precise enough to sort out those distinctions and just go with the best you can do. Some discount for being in the 1950s AL. A little extra bonus peak credit for the huge seasonal workloads.

BTW, the idea that Lou Boudreau switched Bob Lemon from position player to pitcher at the major league level is wrong. Bob pitched at least a little every year of his MINOR league career (I don't know about in the army). He resisted being made into a pitcher, though, and wouldn't make the full-time conversion until it became obvious that he would be a better ML pitcher (starter) than he was going to be a ML hitter (bench warmer).

Another BTW: As a position player, Lemon was sort of Ken Boyer light. That is, he came up as a center fielder due to team need (which would soon be filled by Larry Doby), and then switched to third base. He had played both spots in the minors. He was probably the fastest third baseman of his era, at least after Stan Hack retired in 1948. He probably was the fastest runner among pitchers for most of his career.

Dazzy Vance
No minor league credit because he wasn't a major league pitcher until age 31. Why? Well, here's the big clue, as I see it. He had two cups of coffee while young. In 1915, his walks per game (W/G) was 6.2, which is awful. In 1918, it was 7.7, which is even worse. But then, in 1922, he hit the bigs for good with a W/G of only 3.4. That is, when he literally cut his walks in half, he became a major league pitcher. He stayed employed in the minors until then because he threw so hard that minor league hitters could not handle the stuff, control or no control. Major league hitters could, more or less.

Early Wynn
Early has what I call a scattered career. There's no real peak because there's no real consistency for any period of time. That does cause a small discount for me. His IP are, of course, his credential, and peak voters will not have him here. Hit pretty well for a pitcher.

Wes Ferrell
Wes wore his arm and his bat out pretty early in his career. I imagine that his strong supporters are looking at the early peak and prime, while those who have doubts look at the back end of the career. As I said about Red Ruffing, if you compare Ferrell's bat to Bob Lemon's, you have to discount Ferrell a bit. Pitcher hitting has dropped steadily, and Ferrell is two decades earlier than Lemon. I think he still counts as a better hitter than Bob, but I also thing the margin is pretty small, much smaller than a normal drop from OPS+ 100 to OPS+ 82.

Billy Pierce
Another 1950s AL guy, although he did not play for the Yankees or the Indians, who had the best offenses. Billy had to face those bats. I give Billy no minor league credit for 1946-47 because his minor league numbers don't justify it. He was certainly a major league pitcher in 1947, but not in 1946. I can't blame his major league team for not being sure until he had spent a whole year dominating strong minors. He was still only 20 years old in 1947.

Willie Foster
Comparing Foster to Pierce: Willie's MLE IP are 3171 and the ERA+ is 116. Billy has 3307 and 119, so he's ahead on both counts. There is a 1950s AL discount for Billy, but Willie's numbers are negro league MLEs. Billy was a lousy hitter (he'd outrank Wes Ferrell if he had hit at all), but I have no evidence that Foster was a good one. On balance, I'm not willing to make the 1950s AL discount equal to the difference between the two sets of numbers, when one set is all MLEs. Chris Cobb does a great job with the MLEs, but I don't think he himself would try to claim that they are quite that "deadly accurate."

- Brock
   47. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:06 PM (#3173045)
11. Robin Roberts - Long, good quality career around poor years in middle, which I judge much more harshly than poor years at the beginning or end of a career.

If you're going to judge anybody harshly for this, Kenn, it should be his manager(s) for making him pitch as often as Roberts did. The guy was the workhorse of his era and should be higher up in the tally after taking into account how his ERA+ suffered for this abuse, IMO.
   48. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3173047)
Lefty Grove
Do I really have to write something to justify this placement?

Seems kind of silly, now that you mention it, Brock. ;-)
   49. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3173051)
Regarding Feller I think John has it closest in that WITHOUT the war it is VERY likely that the 1946 type season happens several years earlier and Feller's career ends that much sooner.

Now, I doubt his actual TOTALS would have changed that much.

But what I think is happening here is that folks are giving Bob extra years of productivity that I do not believe would have actually happened. He threw 343 innings before he went into the Navy. He threw 371 when he got returned. (And averaged 8 innings a start in his brief 1945 stint). So even with the change in managers Bob's usage pattern was not altered.

Just a thought. But one I think is worth considering...............
   50. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3173063)
Going to be a little light on comments. Not going back through the Negro Leaguers threads so I'm going to rely on the rankings I gave them back when I first looked at them.

1. Lefty Grove
2. Warren Spahn

Close, I'll give Lefty the edge due to peak.

3. Robin Roberts - Nice peak early. Up and down in his early 30's, nice comeback in his late 30's.

4. Ray Brown

5. Hal Newhouser - Great peak, back to back MVPs.

6. Bob Feller
7. Satchel Paige

8. Martin Dihigo - I have him listed at RF, so he was probably a pretty good hitter.

9. Carl Hubbell - Led league in ERA+ three times and was 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in IP those years.

10. Early Wynn
11. Red Ruffing

Pretty similar.

12. Ted Lyons
13. Bob Lemon

Same ERA+, but Lyons had a bunch more innings.

14. Dazzy Vance
15. Whitey Ford

Nice peaks, but short careers.

16. Wes Ferrell - Not a bad hitter either.

17. Billy Pierce
18. Willie Foster
19. Bullet Rogan
   51. Howie Menckel Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:52 PM (#3173072)
Who did AJ Macaroni used to be known as?
   52. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 10, 2009 at 03:53 PM (#3173073)
   53. Tiboreau Posted: May 10, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3173211)
Still a few comments missing, but it's the last day so I'll just go with it.

I imagine that the added difficulty of not only ranking Negro League pitchers but also ranking hybrid Negro League pitcher/position players made this a more difficult ballot than usual. At least, it did for me.

1. Lefty Grove—With credit for his time with the Baltimore Orioles he is, IMO, the 2nd greatest pitcher in baseball history
2. Warren Spahn
3. Satchel Paige—A great showman and one of the more fascinating personalities of the Negro Leagues, possibly the greatest pitcher from said league, along with Smoky Joe Williams.
4. Bob Feller—I waver back & forth on whether or not to give him full WWII credit, but I think he deserves most of what he’d get and that’s enough to put him ahead of Roberts.
5. Martin Dihigo—Probably more than any other player in baseball history, Dihigo had it all: great pitching, hitting, and the ability to play defense absolutely anywhere. Unfortunately, that just makes this Negro Leaguer that much more difficult to compare to the other ballplayers on this list.
6. Robin Roberts
7. Carl Hubbell
8. Bullet Rogan—A poor man’s Martin Dihigo, considering that he spent a good portion of the teens playing for the 24th & 25th infantries Rogan enjoyed a long career playing at an above average level both as a pitcher & a hitter.
9. Hal Newhouser—I think he is one of the more underrated HoFers in baseball history; he suffers the misfortune of his peak coinciding with WWII, and his success will forever be marred by the notion that it was primarily due to the balata ball & absence of the game superstars. I don’t agree with that—while his WWII seasons should be discounted for being weaker than the years before or after, he still provided vital value to Detroit’s pennant drive and continued to perform at a similarly stellar level for 3 years after the war, as well as adding 2 all-star caliber seasons in ’42 & ’49.
10. Ray Brown—Looking at Chris Cobb’s analysis of Brown & Foster & the discussion it spawned, the consensus opinion then appeared to be that they were mid-level HoFers, possibly around Dazzy Vance’s value. So, I’ve sandwiched Vance between the two lesser known, second tier of Negro League pitchers, with Brown’s advantage in quantity (1000+ est. IP over Foster) supplanting Foster’s advantage in quality (est. 125 ERA+ v. 119).
11. Dazzy Vance—Both BP & Joe D. agree on the value of his excellent peak and a better career than other peak\prime candidates after Newhouser. I have him as fairly similar in value to Amos Rusie.
12. Bill Foster—See Ray Brown comment.
13. Wes Ferrell—Seems kinda low for a peak voter and professed Ferrell fan; If he had debut 20 years earlier and performed at a similar level would’ve ranked 9th on our last pitchers ballot.
14. Ted Lyons—The first of three career candidates in succession, BP considers Lyons’ peak to be of similar value to Dazzy’s while Joe D. isn’t quite as effusive about it. I’ve placed him below Vance & Ferrell, but all the pitchers ranked between 10th & 15th are rather close IMO.
15. Red Ruffing—The second of three successive career candidates, however, there’s a bit of a gap, IMO, between Ruffing, who is similar in overall value to the 5 pitchers above him, and Early Wynn.
16. Early Wynn—Compared to Ruffing he pretty much falls short by a bit in each category: slightly less peak & prime value than Red, and Wynn is a bit behind Ruffing in career quality as well, despite the quantity advantage in IP.
17. Whitey Ford—He could very well be suffering from the same dilemma as Mordecai, although I have Ford a fair bit ahead of Three Finger Brown. Like Mordecai, performed at a high quality level but with less quantity than I prefer even with 2 1st & 1 2nd place finishes, as opposed to 1 1st place finish for Brown. Would actually fall somewhere between McGinnity & Waddell (13th or 14th) on the last ballot.
18. Bob Lemon
19. Billy Pierce
   54. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: May 10, 2009 at 07:56 PM (#3173250)
Here we go, finally!

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.

Numbers in () are Pennants Added, DRA+ (my version of ERA+, adjusted for team defense and other things), Translated IP (my own translation, not BPro's) and Batting Runs Above Replacemnt.

1. Lefty Grove (1.87 PA, 138 DRA+, 4684 tIP, -57 BRAR) - Just an amazing pitcher. This gives him credit for 1922-24 as a major leaguer with a DRA+ of 114, 115, 121 and about 635 IP.

2. Satchel Paige - I'm going with Brent on this one, but another amazing pitcher with a long career.

3. Warren Spahn (1.83 PA, 121 DRA+, 5269 tIP, 52 BRAR) - Some huge years, and was an above average pitcher every year from 1946-63, with DRA+ over 115 for 16 of the 18 years.

4. Bob Feller (1.67 PA, 121 DRA+, 4962 tIP, -12 BRAR) - I give him credit for 1942-45, at what works out to a value level around his 1938 or 1947 seasons. With no credit he'd be equal to Hubbell.

5. Martin Dihigo - Trusting our experts here. But an all-star infielder converted to an all-star pitcher with a long career feels right here.

6. Robin Roberts (1.44 PA, 116 DRA+, 4747 tIP, 20 BRAR) - A poor man's Spahn, or a rich man's Wynn. Some great years, especially that 1950-54 peak, where he threw a ton of innings (relative to his peers) at a very good rate. Similar to Steve Carlton.

7. Bullet Rogan - Pitching and hitting both very good, taking Brent's word on this one, very tough to rate.

8. Ted Lyons (1.32 PA, 115 DRA+, 4631 tIP, 28 BRAR) - Very good pitcher 1925-27, 1930-32, and then extremely effective in a slightly reduced role from 1935 through 1942. I also give him credit for 1943-45, at his 1940-41 level, but with reduced IP.

9. Carl Hubbell (1.25 PA, 127 DRA+, 3553 tIP, -8 BRAR) - Great defensive support lowers him a bit, and his career wasn't nearly as long as the guys above him. Great from 1931-36.

10. Willie Foster - Similar to Hubbell. I think he was definitely better than Ferrell.

11. Red Ruffing (1.30 PA, 108 DRA+, 4787 tIP, 117 BRAR) - The best hitting 'pure pitcher' of all time (career hitting value). His offense is 16% of his career value, pretty amazing from such a good pitcher. I kind of equate him as a better Jamie Moyer, took forever to figure it out (or get traded to the Yankees) but once he did was a very valuable pitcher for a long time.

12. Ray Brown - Feel like sliding him in around Ruffing/Wynn is reasonable.

13. Hal Newhouser (1.11 PA, 124 DRA+, 3152 tIP, 8 BRAR) - Arguably the best pitcher of the 1940s. A monster from 1944-49. Not a whole lot else though, and this is tough competition.

14. Whitey Ford (1.10 PA, 118 DRA+, 3677 tIP, 18 BRAR) - Did not have a bad year from 1950-65. Had great defensive support though, so his 133 ERA+ is not a realistic indicator of his value. He also didn't throw a ton of innings relative to his peers. He was consistently very good, I see him a lot like a Mike Mussina, throw into incredibly circumstances.

15. Dazzy Vance (1.09 PA, 134 DRA+, 2842 tIP, -18 BRAR) - Pretty amazing to have accomplished this entirely from age 31 forward.

16. Early Wynn (1.16 PA, 104 DRA+, 5204 tIP, 58 BRAR) - Very good hitter, had a couple of big years (1950-51, 55-56) and a bunch of good years (1946-47, 52, 54, 59) it all adds up to a pretty valuable package.

17. Billy Pierce (.92 PA, 114 DRA+, 3440 tIP, -4 BRAR) - Very good pitcher and a pretty long career. I'm very glad we elected him, he's the kind of player this project was designed to honor. We definitely got this one right, even if he is near the bottom of the Hall of Merit.

18. Wes Ferrell (.96 PA, 115 DRA+, 2618 tIP, 103 BRAR) - Great hitter 19% of his value was in his offense. Was a better hitter year to year than Ruffing, but didn't last as long. He was also a heckuva pitcher from 1929-36.

19. Bob Lemon (.84 PA, 109 DRA+, 2913 tIP, 76 BRAR) - Excellent hitter, but had great defense behind him, and his biggest years (1948-49, 52, 56) really aren't anything all that special. He was a good pitcher, a poor man's Ferrell.

I really don't get his election. I've got 25 pitchers between Pierce and Lemon on the PA scale. Those from this era include Don Newcombe, Burleigh Grimes, Bucky Walters, Virgil Trucks, Waite Hoyt, Bobo Newsom, Dizzy Trout, Dolf Luque, George Uhle, Dutch Leonard. Most of those would have been a better choice. Frank Viola would be a better choice.
   55. Esteban Rivera Posted: May 10, 2009 at 07:59 PM (#3173254)
Pitchers 1924-1958

01) Lefty Grove - Includes IL credit.

02) Warren Spahn - Edges Paige for due to higher confidence in his performance.

03) Satchel Paige - If showmanship added points, he'd be at the top.

04) Carl Hubbell - Ahead of Feller due to my handling of pitcher war credit.

05) Bob Feller - Feller's case for war credit is hard due to a pitcher's wear and tear.

06) Robin Roberts - Has the peak years along with career bulk.

07) Ray Brown - Find him to be the best of the remaining negro leaguers.

08) Hal Newhouser - Doesn't get dinged as much for pitching during the war.

09) Martin Dihigo - An all-around package.

10) Ted Lyons - Effective for a long time.

11) Whitey Ford - Another case of a pitcher benefitting from his defense that causes me to wonder who was helping who.

12) Bullet Rogan - His placement is due to the combo of being very good to great in both pitching and hitting. Includes

Wreckers credit.

13) Dazzy Vance - Would he be the first example of medicine saving and allowing a high caliber pitching career?
14) Willie Foster - On pitching only would be ahead of Dihigo and Rogan but since we factor in everything...

15) Red Ruffing - Hitting is factored in.

16) Billy Pierce - Agree with others that he is similar to Ford.

17) Early Wynn - Really a career candidate.

18) Wes Ferrell - Never was crazy about him.

19) Bob Lemon - Similar to Ferrell.
   56. Chris Cobb Posted: May 10, 2009 at 08:24 PM (#3173296)
Quick Ballot. Lots of analysis I wanted to do but didn't, but this represents my thinking as far as it went.

1. Grove – Doesn’t have the career heft of Young and Johnson, but with ML credit is well over 4000 IP and as effective as anyone this side of Pedro at his best.
2. Paige – A good chance he was better than Grove, but a good chance he wasn’t. Brent’s analysis puts him clearly ahead of Spahn. A lot of the electorate seems to think Joe Williams was better among NeL pitchers. I disagree; I think we overrated Williams a bit and are underrating Paige.
3. Spahn – A master of consistent excellence.
4. Roberts – I have him higher than most. Among the most durable aces of all time relative to his peers at his peak, and had a long, effective career to go with it.
5. Dihigo – Apparently could do everything well.
6. Hubbell – Outstanding prime, but lacks the career heft of those above him.
7. Feller – I am dubious about much war credit for Feller. Peak was a little better than Roberts’ peak, but Roberts’ career was significantly more impressive.
8. Newhouser – Even with war discounts a spectacular peak.
9. Vance – Brilliant peak in quality, but lacks the workhorse innings that Feller, Newhouser and Roberts added to their peak.
10. Ford – Light workload, but outstanding for a decade and a half. A money pitcher.
11. R. Brown – I’m treating him as Ted Lyons with a good bat.
12. Lyons – I like the strong career. Had a lot of very good years, but suffers by consecutive measures of quality because he has clunkers thrown in at about five-year intervals.
13. Rogan – May be underrating him, but it’s hard to know how much credit to give him before 1920 and after 1928 or so. Definitely a great player during this prime, which was a little longer and a little stronger, I think, than Wes Ferrell’s, who ranks next. If Rogan does deserve credit for a 15-20 year career, he could rank as high as 7.
14. Ferrell – Tremendous value for seven years, and then nothing. Wasn’t quite as good as Grove or Hubbell for those seven years, but he was close.
15. B. Foster – Relatively short effective career in this company, and doesn’t appear to have had the peak of Newhouser or Vance, but still, I think, a solid HoMer.
16. Wynn – I like him better than most. As I see it, he had a prime that was pretty near as good (and as substantial) as Bob Lemon’s career, and then another 2000 inning as a back-of-the-rotation guy who helped his teams but wasn’t anything special. Was more successful than his component stats predict. I give him some credit for that.
17. Ruffing – Most have him ahead of Wynn, and by the component stats I can see it. My system downgrades him somewhat because his peak weak both on effectiveness and durability and because he underperforms his run support win expectations by a lot. He has enough career to make the HoM legitimately, but he is a pure career candidate, perhaps the most pure career candidate among pitchers outside of Don Sutton.
18. Lemon – Just over my in-out line. Consistent, durable, effective, but career was short and he was never a lights-out guy. Pitched in low-SD era, so even though he’s right on my in-out line, I’m pretty comfortable having him in.
19. Pierce – I’m no longer convinced he belongs. A lot of his case depends upon leverage for relief pitching, and I am doubtful about the merits of that case.
   57. Sean Gilman Posted: May 10, 2009 at 08:29 PM (#3173301)
Sorry this is so late/sparse, but I've been too busy.


1. Lefty Grove - He’s good.

2. Satchel Paige - Him too.

3. Warren Spahn - Most career WARP1 of this group.

4. Bob Feller - Great peak without war credit.

5. Carl Hubbell - Great peak, good career value.

6. Martin Dihigo - Best guees.

7. Robin Roberts - I remember Dan R’s system hating him. Is that correct?

8. Bullet Rogan - A bit less than Dihigo?

9. Wes Ferrell - Best WARP1 peak on the ballot.

10. Hal Newhouser - Another great peak, war hurts a bit.

11. Ray Brown - Solid.

12. Dazzy Vance - A bit less than Hubbell?

13. Whitey Ford - WARP1 hates him. They’re probably wrong/

14. Bob Lemon - A bit less than Vance.

15. Willie Foster - Also solid.

16. Early Wynn - Great career value, mediocre peak.

17. Red Ruffing - Great career value, worse peak.

18. Billy Pierce - I recall drinking this kool-aid, but I’m not sure why.

19. Ted Lyons - Looks better with this iteration of WARP1 than I remember.
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 10, 2009 at 09:32 PM (#3173338)
7. Robin Roberts - I remember Dan R’s system hating him. Is that correct?

I have no idea, Sean, but I don't know how any system could hate him.
   59. mulder & scully Posted: May 10, 2009 at 09:33 PM (#3173340)
First off, thanks for keeping the balloting open for so long. It was great to reread the threads for the NeL'ers.

1. Lefty Grove: Not much to say. Remember he also had 55 saves to go with the .680 winning percentage. No other starter in the HoM had as many saves, I think. And you can add the 148 ERA+, the 9 times leading in ERA+, 11 top 10s in innings pitched, the years of minor league credit to add to the bulk.

2. Satchel Paige: Was going to be number 3, but then I read the new stuff on his thread. I think that moves him above Spahn. Both pitched forever, but Paige did it at a higher level.

3. Warren Spahn: Others, Howie and Brock, have said everything I would say. Consistently very good with a lot of innings every year.

4. Robin Roberts: See above. Best pitcher in the NL with some ties for 6 straight years and in baseball those same years with an argument with Shantz in ’52. His innings pitched advantages over the rest of the league creates a significant amount of value. Of course, he was overworked and not the same pitcher for the rest of his career. He had a few more good years, some average, and some poor.

5. Carl Hubbell: I forget how good he was. Close between Roberts and Hubbell for this spot. This time, Roberts’ 1950 to 1955 takes it. They had similar black ink, edge to Roberts, and the exact same grey ink. Their WHIPs are almost exactly the same. Today, the ERA+ edge for the career comes in second.

6. Martin Dihigo: Did everything well. I just finished rereading all the NeL pitcher threads for the 5 and I didn’t see this addressed. How do we adequately create MLEs for pitchers who pitched 10 month seasons between Cuba, NeL, and Mexico? Difficult to rank, but just a tremendous amount of value – and more value in his leagues than he would have had in the AL or NL because of the roster sizes.

7. Bob Feller: I had the worst trouble with War Credit for him. I don’t think anyone is giving him full credit, because if you gave him 4 more years of 24 wins, 330 IP, and a 130 to 150 ERA+ each year, he’d be battling for 2nd. Looking at Ferrell, Feller himself, Roberts, Newhouser, et al., there is no way he could have thrown 300 or so innings for 11 straight years. Still, top 30 or 40 all time is nothing to sneeze at.

8. Ray Brown: I just reread his thread and I am still impressed. Very long career. The good hitting. See my comment about Dihigo about how to balance/incorporate players with two “seasons” per year.

9. Hal Newhouser: Shortish career, but a great 6 year run from ’44 to ’49. Does anybody know the story about 1942? He had an ERA+ of 161 (2nd in the league), but finished 8 – 14. The team started 45 – 40, then finished 28 – 41. The next year, he is 8 – 17, but with an ERA+ of 116. He and Ferrell are two more experiments about how many innings you can throw before age 30. Only 321 IP and a 22 – 18 record after his age 29 season.

10. Whitey Ford: Definitely helped by being with the Yankees in the ‘50s. But, he was spotted against the better teams for all of Stengel’s managerial time. Also, has Korea credit. Plus the World Series performances.

11. Bullet Rogan: Tough to rank without the MLEs. Plus, not sure how much credit to give for Wrecker play. Looks like a good hitter. Did play for great teams and rose above them. Also has the value of being able to play at other positions.

12: Wes Ferrell: Always a fan. After his age 29 season, 18 – 13 and 216 IP. Previous 3 seasons, he led the league in complete games, IP, and hits allowed each year. 5 top 10s in ERA coincide with 5 top 4s in IP, 2 of them 1sts.

13. Bill Foster: Not much difference to me with 13 through 16. It wasn’t a long career, but the peak/prime was very good. Pitched against stronger teams, but they may have been a bit of the star vs. star that would go on.

14. Ted Lyons: had some big IP years in his 20s, but his arm couldn’t handle it after a while. But he was able to be a once a week starter for a decade after and make it into the HoF/HoM. I wonder if he would have been better off being born 60 years later and get to pitch with a strict 5 man rotation.

15. Dazzy Vance: 3 great years plus 1927 and strikeouts. That’s it. No other years with an ERA+ over 119. And the peak years weren’t consecutive. Had bad offensive and defensive support.

16. Bob Lemon: Better peak than Wynn. Nice combination of effectiveness and IP. His six top 10s in ERA+ coincided with leading the league in IP 3 times, a 3rd , a 4th , and a 5th. Yes, he had the support of the Indians team and he played in the 1950s AL, but he was a good pitcher. Also, the 82 OPS+.

17. Early Wynn: If he doesn’t get traded to Cleveland, he doesn’t make the HoF or the HoM. Does have some big years with very good ERA+ and IP combos, but just too many years mixed in with ERA+ under 100.

18. Red Ruffing: If he didn’t have the bat, he’d be last. Totally a product of the Yankees. In fact, the Yankees record when he didn’t start or get a decision versus when he got a decision was the exact same. In the seven years that the Yankees finished first from ’32 to ’42, Ruffing went 28-27 against the second and third place teams, the other Yankees went 150-98. And when the Yankees were 2nd or 3rd, Ruffing had a worse record against the 1st place team than the rest of the Yankees did.

19. Billy Pierce: Doesn’t have the big years that I look for. A good pitcher. But if they only have 3300 innings, I want more a peak than he had. Only 5 years with an ERA+ over 125. OPS+ of 19 doesn’t help.
   60. Paul Wendt Posted: May 10, 2009 at 11:15 PM (#3173381)
15. Howie Menckel Posted: May 01, 2009 at 12:20 AM (#3160070)

1. LEFTY GROVE - Cleared 150 ERA+ a ridiculous 11 times, and topped 175 a staggering five times. 9 ERA titles. Top 3 in wins 7 straight years. Top 6 in IP 7 straight years and 10 of 11. Struck out 593 times, the most ever by a pitcher. But we'll overlook that.

The batter strikeout record is incomplete for some season, affecting many pitchers.
I don't have information to say that Grove is not the true career leader.

6. WHITEY FORD - A rare combination of good peak and career length with phenomenal prime. Deserves some war credit as well.

Korea '51-52?
about how much credit?

11. HAL NEWHOUSER - Maybe a 'weaker' slot than some would have him, but I like him plenty. I see little reason to believe he would not have sliced and diced all comers in '44 and '45 even if there was no WW II. Would be intriguing to see career stats of Prince Hal vs Cronin, Dickey, Appling, DiMaggio, and Boudreau. 2993 IP is shortish, but 207-150 and 130 ERA+ both excellent – and league average as a hitter. War discount should be quality, not length, so his career shouldn’t be shortened but his ERA+ reduced to the 122-125 level.

That seems like a big discount, especially at the low end, but I haven't examined its underpinnings.

<i>14. DAZZY VANCE - Wildly, wildly overrated by the crowd. Three incredible years, but only reached 120 ERA+ a total of four times. Dazzy dazzles our crowd, Dizzy not so much. Go figure. So shockingly bad as a hitter than someone with more guts might have convinced me to rate him behind all of the hybrids here.

No. At career OPS+ 10, Dazzy Vance was merely a poor batter, not extremely bad, certainly no outlier.

15. EARLY WYNN - I like these long-career good SPs; they suffer in ERA+ because they had long peaks and long struggles. Outstanding in 55 mostly relief IP at age 43; seems like he coulda played another year, in spite of the myth that he was a hanger-on. Nearly caught from behind due to batting issues.

IIRC there is direct evidence that he was hanging on for 300 wins.

Early Wynn was a good batter but he could be "caught from behind" thus, on Howie's list, because Howie ranks Ruffing and Ferrell 16 and 17.

19. BILLY PIERCE - I like Pierce as a pitcher, and think of him as better than a number of the guys above him. But he was almost as bad a hitter as Vance, and without the monster peak. I must respect the value of the hitting of the other guys, granting that it was an era where most pitchers weren't as helples opponents there as Pierce or Vance. Some interesting comparisons with Griffith, but a little less effective, played in a weaker league vs a strong one-league, etc.

At career OPS+ 19, Pierce was an average batter.
   61. Paul Wendt Posted: May 10, 2009 at 11:16 PM (#3173382)
My desktop table of career pitcher data now includes 635 pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances. (That is not complete.) For 36 of them with debuts in the 1940s, median career OPS+ is 21 and Pierce is next.

For debuts in the 1910s (Vance) and 1920s (maybe a closer match to Vance's pitching career) the medians are OPS+ 39 and 23.
Among the 1920s debuts, 35 of 40 pitchers have career OPS+ in the range -3 to 62. Here are the five outliers.

100 Wes Ferrell
084 Red Lucas
081 Red Ruffing
-22 Si Johnson
-22 J Petty

Combining the 1910s and 1920s debuts provides 94 pitchers in my incomplete set. Median is OPS+ 28 {Rommel, Root, Ehmke}. The trio at OPS+ 10 {Vance, Faber, Toney} rank 75 to 77 which represents something like 18 to 21 percentiles. Among the group of pitchers at hand two rank slightly further down the list, Coveleski at 9 and Grove at 6.
   62. bjhanke Posted: May 10, 2009 at 11:58 PM (#3173409)
I just realized - duh - that I should put numbers in with the tabulation list of my ballot, so the tabulators can easily keep track of who I have ranked where. So this is the numbered list. It's no different from my ballot above, just with numbers for ease of tabulation. - Brock

1. Lefty Grove
2. Satchel Paige
3. Warren Spahn
4. Carl Hubbell
5. Bob Feller
6. Bullet Rogan
7. Martin Dihigo
8. Ted Lyons
9. Robin Roberts
10. Whitey Ford
11. Ray Brown
12. Red Ruffing
13. Hal Newhouser
14. Bob Lemon
15. Dazzy Vance
16. Early Wynn
17. Wes Ferrell
18. Billy Pierce
19. Willie Foster
   63. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM (#3173411)
The election is now over. Results will be posted at 10 PM EDT.
   64. bjhanke Posted: May 11, 2009 at 12:21 AM (#3173444)
Paul says, "My desktop table of career pitcher data now includes 635 pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances. (That is not complete.) For 36 of them with debuts in the 1940s, median career OPS+ is 21 and Pierce is next.

For debuts in the 1910s (Vance) and 1920s (maybe a closer match to Vance's pitching career) the medians are OPS+ 39 and 23.
Among the 1920s debuts, 35 of 40 pitchers have career OPS+ in the range -3 to 62. Here are the five outliers."

Oh, now, this is excessively useful. It's one thing to know that I should discount Ferrell and Ruffing compared to Lemon; it's entirely another to know how much the discount might be and also to know that Billy Pierce was a median hitting pitcher for his time. I wish I had known you had this info before I finished my ballot. Just for everyone's use, would it be hard for you to generate a list of the mean (I think that mean will work better for estimating discounts than median) OPS+ of pitchers starting in all the decades? I promise to save the file and to use it in further rankings.

Also, I agree about the discount for Newhouser. I dropped his OPS+ to about 128, not 124 or so. I mean, the balata ball is not an issue in OPS plus, because all the games have it. So the entire discount is for the decrease in hitting quality due to war enlistments. And it's only 2 years of full discount. Now if only someone had compiled a list of everyone who went to war and what they hit and all the people who came up to replace them and what THEY hit and then computed the actual offense discount for the various war years. Someone with a bigger database than I have or who can point me to one.

- Brock
   65. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: May 11, 2009 at 02:02 AM (#3173644)
mulder&scully;. . . I know you mention that Pierce's OPS+ of 19 doesn't help, but I've only got him 4 runs under an average hitting pitcher (which is also replacement level for pitcher hitting) for his career.

By the 50's pitcher hitting had slipped a good deal. He was a better hitter than Vance, Feller, Hubbell and Grove.

This group has a bunch of pitchers that hit very well for pitchers.
   66. mulder & scully Posted: May 11, 2009 at 04:24 PM (#3174298)
Thanks for the information. I didn't remember that overall pitcher OPS+ had dropped so far by then.
   67. Kenn Posted: May 11, 2009 at 08:30 PM (#3174730)
If you're going to judge anybody harshly for this, Kenn, it should be his manager(s) for making him pitch as often as Roberts did. The guy was the workhorse of his era and should be higher up in the tally after taking into account how his ERA+ suffered for this abuse, IMO.

John, I think it would be perfectly valid to do as you advocate. The "harshness" comes from the fact that I'm much more comfortable writing off poor years at the beginning or end of a player's career, as I consider to a manager or team to have some reasonable expectation of a mid-career player to continue at their previous level of performance. I consider it a bit more detrimental to a team to have an assumed-to-be mid-career player have bad years than an young or old player they were taking a risk on in the first place. True, with a pitcher, it's not so safe to assume a player is mid-career, and they didn't have control over their earlier usage patterns, but I'm not entirely willing to give a player the break in those circumstances.

I will defend "Bullet Joe" as a legit title for Mr. Rogan, as if I'm off there, at least a lot of other sources are, too.
   68. Paul Wendt Posted: May 12, 2009 at 01:13 AM (#3175203)
Also, I agree about the discount for Newhouser. I dropped his OPS+ to about 128, not 124 or so. I mean, the balata ball is not an issue in OPS plus, because all the games have it. So the entire discount is for the decrease in hitting [sic] quality due to war enlistments. And it's only 2 years of full discount.

I believe that we need separate discounts for pitchers and batters and the discount for pitchers is the one that matters regarding Newhouser (at least in this context, where OPS+ is on the board).

pitcher batting - I am trying to remember to use the "Pitchers" thread

Wilbur Rogan - I agree that "Bullet Joe Rogan" is so common that we must accept it. I think we should hold the line at "Joe Rogan".

Kenn also schreit
John, I think it would be perfectly valid to do as you advocate. The "harshness" comes from the fact that I'm much more comfortable writing off poor years at the beginning or end of a player's career

I agree.

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