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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ray Brown

Ray Brown

Eligible in 1955.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 12, 2005 at 08:57 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 12, 2005 at 09:25 PM (#1399594)
He was a great jazz bassist, too! :-)
   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 13, 2005 at 12:38 AM (#1400067)
Didn't realize this, but Ray Brown pitched three or four seasons in Mexico after 1945. And he pitched very successfully there, with ERAs consistently under 4.00...which seems to be very good for this period.
   3. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2005 at 04:32 PM (#1401295)
Ray Brown Data, from Holway

Born February 23, 1908

Teams: 1930 Dayton Marcos, 1931 Indianapolis ABCs, 1932 Detroit Wolves & Homestead Grays, 1933-45 Homestead Grays, Mexico 1939 and 1946-49

1930 no data; Riley has him pitching for Dayton, a non-league (lesser) team
1931 11-8; team 43-23, #1 in dec. , -1.9 WAT
2nd in wins
1932 4-3 for Det, 7-3 for Homestead; Det 30-12, Home 54-28; #3 in dec. –0.7 WAT
1933 6-2; team 12-3, #1 in dec. –0.9 WAT
3rd in wp, 1st in TRA,
1934 13-4; team 32-34 #1 in dec. 6.4 WAT
5th in wins, 4th in wp
1935 12-4; team 30-29 #1 in dec. 5.3 WAT
2nd in wins, 3rd in wp, 4th in TRA, 3rd in K, all-star
1936 8-6; team 19-26, #1 in dec. 3.0 WAT
1937 9-4, team 31-15, #1 in dec., 0.3 WAT
3rd in wins, 3rd in K;
1938 15-0, team 27-10 #1 in dec. 6.8 WAT
1st in wins, 1st in wp, 1st in TRA, all-star, GSA
1939 6-3, team 17-12, #1 in dec. 1.1 WAT
5th in wins, 5th in wp
Also pitched in Mexico
1940 20-4; team 42-23, #1 in dec., 7.1 WAT
1st in wins, 3rd in wp, 1st in TRA, 1st in K, all-star, GSA
1941 12-6*, team 27-17, #1 in dec. (tie) 1.6 WAT
2nd in wins, 2nd in wp, 4th in TRA, 3rd in K,
1942 13-4, team 27-15, #1 in dec. 3.5 WAT
2nd in wins, 2nd in wp, 4th in TRA
1943 8-1, team 44-14, #3 in dec. 1.5 WAT
4th in wins, 1st in wp, 4th in TRA
1944 9-3, team 32-9, #1 in dec. –0.5 WAT
2nd in wins, 2nd in wp, 1st in TRA
1945 4-1, team 32-7, #4 in dec., -0.1 WAT
1946-1949 no data, pitched in Mexico

*Holway’s data is conflicting here. The league leaderboards list Brown as 14-6, but in the team data he shows up as 12-6. I’ve gone with 12-6 here, but there’s no telling in this case which is correct.

Career Totals

157-54, .744 wp
32.5 WAT
Black/Gray Ink 35/122
Holway’s own totals are 146-55, .726
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 21, 2005 at 02:57 PM (#1419823)

Please consult the Re-evaluating Negro League Pitchers thread for league and team data for Brown. Generally, however, I can say this
-1946: He was probably a little below league average as he was below his team’s average in ERA and other rates. This was the only good team he played for in Mexico.
-1947: His ERA was below his team’s, his K and BB rates were not as good as his mates, but his H/9 was lower than the team. Roughly league average.
-1948: Two teams. My own estimated team splits show him as having a very good 36 innings in comparison to his teammates at Veracruz but showing the same pattern as 1947 in 117 innings with Tampico, namely a lower ERA that is driven by a lower H/9 than team, despite worse K and BB numbers.
-1949: Appears to be an excellent season. He creams his teammates in ERA, K rate, BB rate, and H/9, while going 15-11 for a 41-43 team.

YEAR 1946 1947   1948 1949
W      13   10    13    15
L       9   12     4    11
G      31   28    28    32
GS    n/a   22    18    28
CG     16   15     9    15
SHO     1    0     2     4
INN   204  194.7 153   231.3
H     199  190   132   226
ER     80   70    55    83
BB     93   92    65    92
K      93   47    55   118

ERA  3.53 3.24  3.24  3.23
K/9  4.10 2.17  3.24  4.59
BB/9 4.10 4.25  3.82  3.58
K/BB 1.00 0.51  0.85  1.28
H/9  8.78 8.78  7.76  8.79
WAT  0.17 0.15  5.11  3.34

I think overall, the worst one could say about his Mexican years is that he was kind of average and simply added bulk to his career. However, I think once Chris analyzes the data for a translation it's possible Brown will come out with one or very good years that will continue to paint him as a very attractive candidate.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: June 21, 2005 at 03:25 PM (#1419912)
Brown's NeL record is just about as good as anybody's with the exception of Smokey Joe. He had already pitched 15 years when he went to Mexico at age 38-39-40-41. Even so he earned 9 WAT over those 4 years.

Reading through Doc's commentary, I thought his narrative under sold Brown's time in Mexico a little bit and his conclusion is pretty non-commital. For a guy at his age, adding bulk is about what any pitcher accomplishes.

I don't think his Mexican career in general nor Doc's commentary should affect his case much either way, especially for us peak/prime voters. But even for a career voter, I see a more positive four years here than Doc's commentary comes across as.
   6. Michael Bass Posted: June 21, 2005 at 03:36 PM (#1419939)
Brown's NeL record is just about as good as anybody's with the exception of Smokey Joe.

I agree with sunnday, and in fact I'll take it a bit further. My initial glance is that he is clearly the second best pure Negro League pitcher we've see so far, a definate step up from Bill Foster (I express no opinion as to whether his overall game was better than Rogan's).

I'm waiting for WS of course, on both him and Leonard, but they definately look like 1-2 on my ballot, and I'm leaning toward Brown 1 at the moment.
   7. Michael Bass Posted: June 21, 2005 at 03:42 PM (#1419957)
Sorry for the double post, but a little rant...

Seriously, how is this guy not in the HOF? They inducted everyone else from the 30s with a pulse, but missed Brown, the best pitcher on many excellent teams, who pitched for nearly 20 years with a high peak?

He's competing with Torriente as the most egregious Negro League HOF whiff in my view.
   8. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 21, 2005 at 03:51 PM (#1419983)

I was being purposely non-commital about the Mexican seasons because I don't want to jump to any conclusions before Chris weighs in with his translations. [Of course, I usually jump insanely quickly to conclusions then have to retract or rephrase them, but I didn't want precedent to stand in the way.]

On a related note... I think it's worth asking what ramifications Ray Brown's Mexican League numbers have on Andy Cooper's case. In Cooper's case we don't have much of anything on him for this same age range, just a few starts in the NAL. If we find that Brown is able to maintain effectiveness into his early forties, should we be more open to Cooper having perhaps done the same?
   9. andrew siegel Posted: June 21, 2005 at 04:05 PM (#1420022)
Answer: Dickey Pearce, Lip Pike, Cal McVey, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, John Beckwith, Jud Wilson, and Ray Brown.

Question: Who has been or will be elected to the HoM who I had never heard of before we began this exercise?
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: June 21, 2005 at 06:28 PM (#1420450)
BTW, in all fairness, I would love to hear from somebody who thinks that the HoF done good by taking Hilton Smith over Ray Brown. Anybody want to make that case? Or even if you don't believe in it, tell us what the heck the case was supposed to be?

I infer from a post elsewhere that it was because Buck O'Neil said so. Second question: What was Buck's relationship to the two of them? Presumably, Smith was a teammate???
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 22, 2005 at 01:14 AM (#1421826)
Answer: Dickey Pearce, Lip Pike, Cal McVey, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, John Beckwith, Jud Wilson, and Ray Brown.

Question: Who has been or will be elected to the HoM who I had never heard of before we began this exercise?

The answer for me would be: Ezra Sutton, Pete Hill, John Beckwith, Jud Wilson and Ray Brown.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: June 23, 2005 at 01:39 PM (#1425310)
What strikes me about Ray Brown is this. Add his MxL to his NeL record and it adds up to 208-90, playing for NeL teams with (throwing out 1932-33) anywhere from 30 to 65 games played. (Don't have games played for MxL handy.)

How many more decisions would he have gotten in a longer season? Who knows. Twice as many for awhile and he blows out his arm, perhaps.

But over 19 years he averaged 11-5, getting about one decision out of every 3-4 games played by his teams. Reduce that to one out of 5-6 and you're up to about 25 decisions per year X .698 = 332-143.

Now of course add in a conversion factor for the MLs, whatever you like. But he certainly looks like a 475 decision guy and that is conservative. Reduce his pct. to .550 even and he is still 261-214, and that would have to be considered the rock bottom of his range, certainly not his most likely outcome.

As for me, split the difference and add in a small WWII discount and you've got something in the vicinity of a 286-189 record. This strikes me as a likely outcome for Ray Brown in the bigs. Then by all means

I'm sure Chris and David and Doc can do better with a more rigorous MLE analysis but until then...
   13. karlmagnus Posted: June 23, 2005 at 02:29 PM (#1425385)
Although I may be the most ignorant HOM voter, a fact I try to disguise by noise and hand-waving, my "never heard of" list would not include Pearce, McVey or Grant, all of whom I had heard of before we started (but not Gore, Glasscock or McPhee). On the other hand, it would include the #1s on most of my ballots, since I hadn't heard of any of Joe Start, Beckley or indeed Caruthers before becoming a voter (the only primarily AA player I had heard of was Browning.)

The NEL reps are divided between those I'd heard huge amounts about but wouldn't now vote for (Cool Papa Bell) and those I'd never heard of at all, but think wholly worthy (Jud Wilson.)

I think it's really cool we've dissed Dizzy Dean, even though I kind of like the guy. Proves that fame isn't everything.
   14. karlmagnus Posted: June 23, 2005 at 02:30 PM (#1425388)
Brown I expect to end up on my ballot somewhere, BTW, but I'm waiting for Chris' wisdom.
   15. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 23, 2005 at 03:02 PM (#1425457)
I'm beginning to lean to Ray Brown, not Buck Leonard for the top of the 1955 ballot. Leonard was clearly a wonderful player, but Brown seems better right now. Consider:

-A long, consistent record of dominance over his league
-High standing in every career category we can calculate
-Very good tail-end of career in Mexican League indicating that when he left the U.S., he was still on his game well into his late thirties and early forties
-Key contributor to championship dynasty
-Big WAT scores despite great teammates
-Big career numbers despite having less opportunity due to shorter schedules in the late 1930s and early 1940s and league chaos in the mid 1930s.

The two possible contextual illusions or "drawbacks" are
-he pitched quite a lot in favorable home parks, but since we're not really dealing with ERAs with him until he gets to Mexico, that's not much of a concern.
-he pitched for great teams, but as mentioned previously, he still racked up big-time WAT totals.

I'm not saying he's Lefty Grove or Satchel Paige or Walter Johnson, but I think he's very clearly a dominant pitcher who will merit #1 on my ballot.
   16. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 23, 2005 at 03:33 PM (#1425528)

1931: 2nd in NNL, 3rd in NgLs
1932: 7th in East, 10th in NgLs
1934: 4th in EWL
1935: 2nd in EWL
1936: 4th in NNL
1937: 4th in NNL
1938: 1st in NNL and NgLs
1939: 5th in NNL and 8th in NgLs
1940: 1st in NNL and NgLs
1941: 3rd in NNL and NgLs
1942: 2nd in NNL and NgLs
1943: 4th in NNL and 5th in NgLs
1944: 2nd in NNL and 4th in NgLs
1945: 5th in NNL and 10th in NgLs
1946: 5th in MXL
1947: 10th in MXL
1948: 4th in MXL
1949: 5th in MXL

Meanwhile, he only placed in the top 10 in losses six times (1931, 1936, 1941, 1946, 1947, 1949), and three of them were in his twiglight years in Mexico.

Decisions? Top ten every season from 1931-1949 except for 1933 and 1945.

His top 8 WAT scores include

His worst 8 WAT scores

So even in his bad seasons, he was extremely close tothe league average.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 23, 2005 at 04:47 PM (#1425685)

286-189 (.602) seems pretty close to the mark. Using the same process I used for Andy Cooper but substituting Brown's (ER * 1.1) for his estimated RA, and using the same 85% discount rate for Mexico as for the NgLs, I came up with 297-215 (.580) with a DERA of roughly 3.93. My estimation could be conservative, however, or it could just be plain old wrong!

Anyhow, that's to say that Brown's record looks quite good. My MLEs show him with about 4450 innings. He was a #1 starter virtually every season in his NgL career and a #2 starter in his Mexican years.
   18. Chris Cobb Posted: June 23, 2005 at 05:00 PM (#1425711)
I think the estimates from Sunnyday2 and Dr. Chaleeko are definitely in the ballpark.

I have had a work crisis come up that's going to limit my HoM time significantly for at least the next two weeks, so I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get full analyses for Ray Brown or Buck Leonard done in time for the 1955 election or not, and I certainly won't be getting to backlog work I want to be doing on various NeL cases. Anything I would do on Brown and Leonard at this point, though, would basically be fine-tuning the assessment that the discussions of both players have already clearly established.
   19. sunnyday2 Posted: June 23, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1425872)
The other thnig that strikes me about Ray Brown is he is clearly (and by a wide margin) the best pitcher available.

By contrast, Buck Leonard is not clearly the best hitter--and if the best hitter (and he may be) certainly NOT by a wide margin. A cursory review suggests that depending on your method Mule Suttles, Joe Medwick, George Sisler, Chuck Klein or Gavy Cravth, just to name some cornermen I like, are in a cluster that includes Leonard. Again, Leonard may be the best of the cluster, but he is in a cluster.

Brown among 1955 eligibles is not in a cluster of any kind that I can see.
   20. karlmagnus Posted: June 23, 2005 at 06:11 PM (#1425916)
As I said above, Brown looks ballot-worthy, but the number of innings/decisions looks very high -- 4450IP would put him at #29 all-time, immediately below Roger Clemons. His actual career, as distinct from his projectedcareer, was not all that long -- he's not Williams/Lloyd, going on into his late 40s. One of the things I most welcome about Chris's projections is that whtever bias they have is presumably uniform. An MLE ERA+ number would be good, too -- are we talking 115, or 130, do you think?

If you subtract 10% from the Chaleeko/sunnyday mean you get 263-182, subtract 15% and you get 249-172. The latter with an ERA+ below 120 would be very borderline indeed. I think on balance he's the right side of the line, and others will doubtless be more optimistic; he's about a pitching Wells.
   21. sunnyday2 Posted: June 23, 2005 at 06:30 PM (#1426002)
At either 286-189 or 297-215 here are some Brown comps.

On the Win side, everybody from 286 to 297:

T. John 288-231
Blyleven 287-250
R. Roberts 286-245

On the Loss side, from 189 to 215 (20C):

Faber 254-213
Derringer 223-212
Grimes 270-212
Koosman 222-209
Alexander 373-208
Seaver 311-205
Willis 249-205
J. Niekro 221-204
Mullin 228-196
Osteen 196-195
Plank 326-194
D. Martinez 245-193
Lolich 217-191
R. Reuschel 214-191
Reuss 220-191
Zachary 186-191
Orth 204-189

With the obvious exceptions of Alexander, Seaver and Plank, he is projected to win more games (generally many more games) than the kinds of pitchers who lost as often as he did.

More to the point, he is likely to have lost quite a bit less than the pitchers who won about as often as he did.

IOW with those 3 exceptions he appears to be better than anybody on these lists. In fact his closest comp--simply taking the differentials of wins and losses--is Tom Seaver, who is +11 games compared to the average of the two proposed MLEs (292-202). Plank is +26 with the help of his FL years.

Tommy John is -16.5 games
Grimes -16
Willis -23
Roberts and Faber -24
Blyleven -26.5
   22. sunnyday2 Posted: June 23, 2005 at 07:00 PM (#1426129)
As for his IP, 4450 today would of course be a lot and 29th all-time seems like a lot. But for his era (roughly) you've got Rixey, Ruffing, Grimes, Lyons, Faber, Spahn, Roberts and Wynn over 4000, and Grove, Quinn, Jones, Hoyt, Newsome and Feller all over 3750 and more than one of those (Grove and Feller at least) are artificially low for their careers.

Roberts 531 in 4689 IP
Wynn 544 in 4564
Rixey 517 decisions in 4495
Ruffing 498 in 4344
Grimes 482 in 4180
Lyons 490 in 4161
Faber 467 in 4087

Total 3,529 decisions in 30,520 IP
Average 504 in 4,360
1 decision every 8.65 IP

Chaleeko had 512 decisions in 4450 or one every 8.69 IP so there is alignment there. Karl's point however is probably more that the IP and decisions are both too high. I don't know. He pitched 19 years and as a #1 guy throughout most of those years.

For comparison the 2 biggest inning eaters among the MLers (above) are Wynn who was ERA-eligible 18 times and pitched in 23 seasons, and Roberts (15 and 19). Let's say Brown was at 15 and 19, same as Roberts and his IP are 250 lower.

Delete his last 4 years in Mx, which I think is a pretty extreme notion, but delete those and say that you've got 3,750 IP and 425 decisions (karl's 15 percent discount). His IP are still in the Grove, Quinn, Jones, Hoyt, Newsome and Feller class and at .600 his W-L is still 255-170. Between 250 and 260 are Gibson, Hubbell, Morris, Faber and Lyons. Only Hubbell among this group lost fewer than 170.

So with a 15 percent discount off Chaleeko's numbers--which basically says he is ready to retire from the MLs about the time he went to Mx which, again, seems extreme (he went 21-5 in his last 3 years in NeL and went 49-36 in Mx where Maglie and Lanier struggled) and he's not quite Hubbell but close to Gibson and better than Faber and Lyons.

If this is the real Ray Brown, he is still the best pitcher available. Take the 10 percent discount (or no discount at all) and, well, he can't rate higher than #1 anyway. So if I'm Ray Brown, I'm happy for you to take the 15 percent discount and the very high confidence level that gets you.
   23. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 23, 2005 at 07:52 PM (#1426342)
In all fairness, Sunnday2, Lanier and Maglie both thrived in Mexico, but my cursory analysis says they posted numbers in line with the seasons surrounding their respective south-of-the-border sojourns.
I think one thing that I'm starting to feel about the NgL pitcher translations is that 15% is too steep of a discount, and that the innings are a little bit tricky to figure.

Negro League teams didn't seem to have much problem throwing youngsters into the #1 slot and pitching them like veterans. Likewise, good pitchers seemed to retain their status as #1 pitchers deep into their career, (this could in an illusion cause in part by there being fewer league games and so fewer decisions for us to make an effective evaluation).

Anyway, here's the year, age, DERA, innings, and W-L I slotted Brown into. Remember, my method is to figure out Brown's rotation slot on his own team, then to give him roughly the NL average for his slot. In two seasons (his 15-0 year and his 20-win year) I went about two dozen innings over the average, figuring he'd probably pitch more in his really great years. In a couple places he's a 1/2 slot starter, and in one season a number 4. Anyway, here goes

YEAR  age   DERA   INN     W      L
1931   23   4.49   250   14.4   14.3
1932   24   4.16   260   16.2   13.7
1933   25   3.57   275   19.4   12.2
1934   26   3.49   270   19.4   11.7
1935   27   3.57   275   19.4   12.2
1936   28   4.61   265   14.9   15.6
1937   29   3.89   265   17.4   13.0
1938   30   3.68   280   19.3   12.9
1939   31   4.04   230   14.7   11.8
1940   32   3.10   280   21.8   10.4
1941   33   4.04   225   14.3   11.5
1942   34   3.49   240   17.2   10.4
1943   35   2.77   190   15.8    6.0
1944   36   3.57   240   16.9   10.7
1945   37   3.29   160   12.0    6.4
1946   38   4.69   204   11.2   12.2
1947   39   4.29   195   11.7   10.7
1948   40   4.31   175   10.5    9.6
1949   41   4.29   175   10.5    9.6
TOTAL       3.94  4454  297.1  214.8

The DERA does not contain a WAR adjustment nor an adjustment for changing levels of play due to the outflux of layers to the Mexican League.
   24. Chris Cobb Posted: June 24, 2005 at 02:05 AM (#1427352)
The discussion here has inspired to squeeze out my system’s take on Brown’s MLEs tonight. I’ll probably be out of the discussion entirely until Monday now . . .

Ray Brown MLEs

Year IP  wins losses DERA DERA+
1931 214 10.3 14.3   5.29  85
1932 204 10.7 12.7   4.89  92
1933 229 11.8 14.5   5.00  90
1934 286 23.4  9.5   2.86 157
1935 262 20.4  9.7   3.10 145
1936 248 15.5 13.0   4.13 109
1937 252 14.6 14.4   4.46 101
1938 304 28.0  6.0   2.24 201
1939 254 15.6 13.6   4.21 107
1940 268 22.0  9.7   2.98 151
1941 234 13.5 13.4   4.50 100
1942 268 18.8 12.0   3.60 125
1943 195 15.9  6.5   2.87 157 
1944 220 12.7 12.6   4.46 101
1945 151  9.2  8.1   4.25 106
1946 122  6.3  7.7   5.00  90
1947 124  7.0  7.2   4.59  98
1948 138  8.1  7.8   4.41 102
1949  95  5.3  5.6   4.59  98
    4075 269.1 190.1 3.78 119 


1) This is being extremely conservative with the Mexican League numbers for 1946-49. The Sal Maglie example suggests that these numbers should not necessarily be discounted all that much. I have used a 20% discount for 1946, 47, and 49, an 15% discount for 1948, which looks like a smaller, higher quality league (only 6 teams), and I have projected Brown as a #5 to #6 starter MLE. It’s clear that even with this heavy discount he was right around league average in quality, and he was throwing around 200 innings a year in Mexico, so I think it plausible that he could have thrown 150-160 innings a year in the majors.

2) The NeL competition adjustment throughout is .85 . There is no adjustment for the war years.

3) Regression would smooth the totals out a bit, but I think it pretty likely that, pitching for a decent major-league team, Brown would have been a 20-game winner 3-5 times in the majors. His prime from 1934-1943, (ages 26 to 35) is very nice.

4) I definitely concur with the judgment that Ray Brown is the best pitching candidate available in 1955. He looks to me like he is in Hubbell/Lyons territory. Not quite Hubbell's peak, but more career value. Not quite Lyons' career, but better peak.
   25. Brent Posted: June 24, 2005 at 02:06 AM (#1427353)
I guess Brown’s Cuban League statistics haven’t been posted yet, so I thought I’d post them.

Ray Brown pitched 5 seasons in Cuba. His first season, 1936-37, was arguably the greatest season ever by a pitcher in the Cuban League, at least according to the limited statistics that are available. He went 21-4, setting the all-time record for victories in a season, for a team that with its other pitchers went 16-28. He nearly single-handedly led his team, Santa Clara, to a tie for the lead at the end of the season, resulting in a 3-game playoff against Martín Dihigo's Marianao team. In the first game Brown beat Dihigo 6 to 1, but Marianao won the second game 4 to 2. In game 3, Brown again squared off against Dihigo with only two days rest, but this time Marianao won the game, and the pennant, 7 to 3. Reminiscent of Chesbro, 1904.

Brown's next two Cuban seasons were also very successful. Brown was the top pitcher on the pennant-winning team each season, though he received considerably more support as Santa Clara added Sam Bankhead, Lázaro Salazar, Bob Griffith, and (in 1938-39) Josh Gibson.

His last two seasons in Cuba, 1945-46 and 47-48, he had only a few decisions, so it is likely that he was being used quite a bit in relief.

Here’s his pitching record:
Year      Team         G CG  W  L Tm W* Tm L Tm Pct Pennant  WAT
36-37     Santa Clara 26 23 21  4   37    32   .536         11.9
37-38     Santa Clara 20 14 12  5   35    18   .660    *     1.1
38-39     Santa Clara 22 16 11  7   34    20   .630    *    -0.5
45-46     Almendares  15  4  2  2   29    31   .483          0.1
45-46     Marianao     3  0  0  1   23    37   .383         -0.4
45-46     Total       18  4  2  3                           -0.3
47-48(PF) Cuba         1  0  0  0   46    45   .505           -
47-48(PF) Santiago     2  0  0  1    7    14   .333         -0.4
47-48(PF) Total        3  0  0  1                           -0.4
Total                 89 57 46 20                           11.9
* Excludes games won/lost by forfeit: 1937-38 (9-W)   

1936-37 Set all-time Cuban League record for most wins in a season (21). Led league in percentage (.840), complete games (23), and wins (21). Pitched a no-hit, no-run game.
1937-38 Led league in percentage (.706), complete games (14); tied for lead in wins (12).
1938-39 Led league in complete games (16).
1947-48(PF) Players Federation - an independent league that operated for one season. Santiago dropped out part way through season.

Ray Brown was also a very good hitter, which can be seen in his batting statistics. He hit for a good average and with power; 6 home runs in 353 at-bats is particularly impressive in Cuba, where the ballparks were huge and home runs were rare. (Batting stats for his last two seasons were not available in Figueredo.)
Year   AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI SB  Avg
36-37 132 23 41  5  2  1  27  2 .311
37-38  86 11 22  0  1  4  14  - .256
38-39 135 17 31  4  2  1  23  1 .230
Total 353 51 94  9  5  6  64  3 .266

1937-38 – Tied for league lead in home runs hit (4).
   26. Brent Posted: June 24, 2005 at 02:46 AM (#1427420)
Here are short-form win shares estimates based on Chris Cobb's MLEs. This time I've boosted the short-form formula given by Bill James by 10 percent, because I continue to find the pitcher short-form WS formula gives estimates that are lower than the actual WS of comparable pitchers. In addition to Lyons (312 WS) and Hubbell (305 WS), a couple of other pitchers with comparable innings and DERA were Feller (292 WS) and Palmer (312 WS).

Year WS
1931 _4
1932 _7
1933 _7
1934 34
1935 28
1936 16
1937 13
1938 43
1939 16
1940 30
1941 12
1942 23
1943 23
1944 12
1945 _9
1946 _4
1947 _6
1948 _8
1949 _4
Total 299
   27. karlmagnus Posted: June 24, 2005 at 11:47 AM (#1427796)
Great, I feel more confident. 269-190 may still be on the high side of reality, and I'm surprised how few WS he has, but for me Brown is clearly modestly the right side of the line.
   28. TomH Posted: June 24, 2005 at 12:59 PM (#1427830)
great stuff, gang

others opinions: Holway had him #5 among all NeL pitchers (ahead of Rube). Ted Knorr had him in his top 6. The Courier poll had him in their top 6. Bill James didn't make much mention of him.

All in all, even before the data that has been supplied here, I had Brown temporarily slotted pretty high. The research seems to confirm the other opinions. Brown will be #1 for me next week, unless Arky Vaughan is still eligible.
   29. KJOK Posted: June 24, 2005 at 05:42 PM (#1428323)
Great stuff indeed. Looks like Ray Brown is at least equal to slightly better than Rube Foster, and on a career basis seems similar to the major league careers of Ferguson Jenkins or Ted Lyons or Red Faber...
   30. sunnyday2 Posted: June 24, 2005 at 06:54 PM (#1428469)
I would have to think that Brown would rank as follows:


1. Smokey Joe Williams
2. Ray Brown
3. Wild Bill Foster
4. Dick Redding?
5. Andy Cooper?


1. Williams
2. Jose Mendez
3. Rube Foster?
4. Hilton Smith?
5. Ray Brown or Dave Brown or Cooper or Nip Winters?


1. Williams
2. R. Brown
3. Willie Foster?
4. Rube Foster or Mendez?
6. Redding or Cooper or H. Smith?
9. Winters?
10. And don't forget about Bill Byrd who had more career than Smith and a decent peak too.
   31. TomH Posted: June 24, 2005 at 06:56 PM (#1428475)
   32. sunnyday2 Posted: June 24, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1428624)

I was thinkin' about full-time pitchers I guess, just to keep it kinda clean.
   33. DavidFoss Posted: June 28, 2005 at 02:56 AM (#1435751)
   34. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 29, 2005 at 07:15 PM (#1439463)
In addition to the PWS Chris gives above, Brown should probably given somewhat liberal hitting credit, as he was, like so many NgL pitchers, an excellent hitter. (See his Cuban numbers above for example) I'd recommend something on the order of 7%-8.5% of his total value. Mays gets 7.3% of his total value from BWS, Walters around the same, Lemon about 8.8% of his total value, and finally Ferrell gets a robust 10.6% of his value from hitting.

This final adjustment would make Brown's total WS something like 320-330 based on Chris's estiamates (which I don't think account for batting).

#1 all the way for me.
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: June 29, 2005 at 09:50 PM (#1439972)
This final adjustment would make Brown's total WS something like 320-330 based on Chris's estiamates (which I don't think account for batting).

Well, since my estimates are entirely win-based, they should account for batting value indirectly: they attribute all of the pitcher's wins above average to pitching skill, but for good-hitting pitchers some should be assigned to batting value as well.

However, my own calculations of win shares based on Brown's projected support-neutral record suggest that 320-330 is a more likely estimate than 300 win shares, anyway.
   36. Brent Posted: July 02, 2005 at 10:06 PM (#1446000)
However, my own calculations of win shares based on Brown's projected support-neutral record suggest that 320-330 is a more likely estimate than 300 win shares, anyway.

Chris, if you've calculated win shares for Brown, we'd appreciate it if you'd post them. I posted the short-form calculations only because I thought you might not have time to get to them.

   37. Jeff M Posted: July 03, 2005 at 04:05 PM (#1446672)
Using the method I described in the Hilton Smith thread, here are the WS I come up with (closer to Chris Cobb's):


I discount those by 5% for a total of 313.2, but I may add them back for hitting.

Using the WS/Pythag Wins method for MLB pitchers with comparable win percentages from '31-'49 produces 301.7 pitching WS for his career (the factor was 1.1215).

So I think we have the range.
   38. Chris Cobb Posted: July 03, 2005 at 06:57 PM (#1446881)
I haven't done seasonal win-share projections for Ray Brown. I've just done a basic estimate off of his career-support neutral record. A 269.1-190.1 support-neutral record is 39.5 wins above average. Multiply that by 3 to turn the wins into win shares, and you get 118.5. In the win shares system, an average pitcher should earn .058 win shares per inning pitched. Multiply that by 4075 and you get 236.3, for a total of 354.8 win shares.

In my experience, this method of estimating runs about 10% higher than actual win shares because of peak distortions, so I guess Brown to be at 320-330 total.

Anybody who likes this system and wants seasonal totals can get them the same way, but top seasonal estimates should be reduced 10-20%.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 04, 2005 at 01:45 PM (#1447861)
I'm now convinced Ray Brown needs to be number one on my ballot. Long career and an impressive peak says it all for me.
   40. Jeff M Posted: July 04, 2005 at 03:40 PM (#1447933)
I'm now convinced Ray Brown needs to be number one on my ballot. Long career and an impressive peak says it all for me.

I agree he is a strong candidate, but these WS calcs we are doing seem to be substantially below the WS for Buck Leonard.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 04, 2005 at 07:15 PM (#1448391)
I agree he is a strong candidate, but these WS calcs we are doing seem to be substantially below the WS for Buck Leonard.

But it's tougher for a pitcher to earn 300 WS than for a position player.
   42. Jeff M Posted: July 04, 2005 at 08:52 PM (#1448597)
But it's tougher for a pitcher to earn 300 WS than for a position player.

Agreed, but it is tougher for a first baseman to earn 375 WS than it is for a pitcher to earn 320 WS. Only 9 first basemen in MLB history have more than 375 WS (counting Carew at 1b and Molitor at DH). However, there are 26 starting pitchers in MLB history with more than 320 WS.

   43. Chris Cobb Posted: July 04, 2005 at 09:05 PM (#1448632)
But since there are generally 4 starting pitchers among a team's starters and only 1 first baseman, shouldn't we expect, that equivalent levels of difficulty in accruing career win shares would be indicated by 3-4 times as many pitchers reaching a certain threshold as players as a single position?

To me, 375 win shares for a first baseman and 320 win shares for a pitcher, by Jeff M's count, look like they indicate rather similar thresholds of difficulty for players at the two positions (though if I were really using this threshold in my rankings I'd want to see how the count of players at each position breaks down by era . . . )
   44. Jeff M Posted: July 04, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1448693)
...shouldn't we expect, that equivalent levels of difficulty in accruing career win shares would be indicated by 3-4 times as many pitchers reaching a certain threshold as players as a single position?

I might buy 3, but not 4. Rarely are the innings that evenly distributed among four starters. But point taken.

So that's one way to look at it. Another way is that three or four pitchers are eating up the vast majority of the pitching WS (which average about 37.5% of a team's WS) while the majority of the remaining 63.5% of the team's WS are being given to the 8 starting position players. I think your instinct about similar thresholds is probably right.

...though if I were really using this threshold in my rankings I'd want to see how the count of players at each position breaks down by era...

The 9 first basemen with >=370 WS are Musial, Rose, Gehrig, Murray, Foxx, McCovey, Carew, Killebrew and Palmeiro. I miswrote 375 earlier...I actually used 370. If you want to use 375, lop off Killebrew (but Palmeiro this year I'm sure has moved past that would be 8).

Anyway, there's no one on the list from pre-1920s era baseball, but otherwise it is a fairly equal distribution from the '20s to present. About 1/3 are roughly from Leonard's era.

The 26 starting pitchers are: Young, Johnson, Nichols, Alexander, Mathewson, Keefe, Spahn, Mullane, Clarkson, Grove, Radbourne, Seaver, Clemens, Niekro, Perry, Carlton, Plank, Welch, Maddux, Blyleven, Roberts, Caruthers, McCormick, Ryan, Jenkins and Ruffing.

If you knock out some of the really old guys who got abnormal numbers because of the way pitchers pitched, we can take out Young, Nichols, Keefe, Mullane, Clarkson, Radbourne, Welch, Caruthers and McCormick. That leaves 17 guys. Roughly four or five are contemporaries of Ray Brown.

Can I go back to my consistency argument now? :) :) :)
   45. Jeff M Posted: July 04, 2005 at 10:48 PM (#1448744)
I thought I posted this earlier, but I guess not. I checked Short Form Pitching WS and Chris Cobb's formula from #38 above to see which had better predictive value of actual pitching WS. Since Chris' is far simpler to calculate, I wanted to know.

I only used pitcher seasons with 50 or more IP, and they had to have at least .1 pitching WS. There were approximately 18,000 data points.

For Chris' formula, I used pythagorean wins and losses, since I don't have his support neutral numbers for all 18,000 players. With that modification (if it is one), Chris' formula correlated with actual WS at .938, which is extremely high. On average, the formula was about 7% high, which is approximately what Chris suggests in post #38. However, that doesn't mean the formula always predicts on the high side...about 25% of the seasons were underpredicted by 1 WS or more. Still, it is pretty accurate for such a simple calculation. About 75% of the seasons were off by 3 WS or less. About 60% of the seasons were off by 2 WS or less.

Short Form WS also had a very high correlation, at .838, but not as high as Chris' formula. Also, only 61% of the seasons were off by 3 WS or less and only 46% of the seasons were off by 2 WS or less. Since Chris' formula is also easier, it seems to be the better choice.

In the process, I refined the formula I described in the Hilton Smith thread to predict WS from linear weights. Linear weights can be calculated with just Innings Pitched, ERA and league ERA. In Chris' MLE's, league ERA is always 4.50, and he computes the IP and ERA.

While Linear Weights is easy, this third formula is far more complicated than Chris', so it is not as useful. However, it correlates to actual WS slightly higher at .958. Importantly, though, 91% of the seasons are off by 3 WS or less and 80% are off by 2 WS or less, which makes it significantly more accurate. (Caveat: I'm not a mathematician).

I actually calculated separate formulas for various eras, but also did a "general" one. In addition, there's a slight modification for saves.

I'll post the general formula next, with a real-life example.

This does not mean that for every player, Chris' formula is more accurate than Short Form WS or that my formula is more accurate than Chris'. There's lots of variability.
   46. Jeff M Posted: July 04, 2005 at 10:56 PM (#1448756)
Here's the formula mentioned in my prior post, if you'd like it:

1. First, figure the player's linear weights (from The Hidden Game of Baseball), as follows:

LWTS Runs=(LgERA-(LgERA/(LgERA/ERA*ParkFactor)))*(IP/9)

2. Second, figure how many LWTS runs it takes to win a ballgame. You need the runs scored per game for the league. If you don't have the runs scored per game, you can roughly estimate it by multiplying the league ERA by 1.15 (except in very early baseball). Chris Cobb's negro leagues MLE's use a baseline league ERA of 4.50, so runs per game would be roughly 5.21 under that measure. Here's the formula (I think it was TangoTiger's, but I'm not sure):

LWTS Runs required for a Win = (10*SQRT(LgRunsPerGame/4.5))

For the negro league MLEs, if you use 5.21 runs per game for the league, then it always takes 10.76 LWTS Runs to equal one win.

3. Figure the player's Linear Weights Wins (LWTS Wins) by dividing his LWTS Runs by the LWTS Runs required for a Win. #1 divided by #2.

4. We want to base this on some standard number of Innings Pitched. I use 250 IP. So divide his LWTS Wins by his number of innings and multiply the number by 250 to estimate how many LWTS Wins he would have if he had pitched 250 innings. Call this LWTS Wins-250.

5. Estimate his WS above average (WSAA) by multiplying his LWTS Wins-250 times 2.338. Why is it 2.338? Because it is the best predictor. (I actually have different numbers for different eras...the highest is 2.746 for 1876-1881 and the lowest is 1.604 for 1893-1900).

6. Add his WSAA to the WS for an average player with 250 innings pitched, which for the general formula is 14.1. That gives you his WS if he had pitched 250 innings. Call this WS-250.

(The highest constant is 15.4 for 1882-1892 and the lowest is 13.7 for 1963-1976 and 1977-1992).

7. To get his predicted Win Shares, take the WS-250, multiply it by his IP, and divide by 250.

Here's a real player example, using Carl Hubbell in 1933 and the general formula. I selected this at random (and hope it works as a good example).

LgERA = 3.34
LgRunsPerGame = 3.97
Hubbell ERA = 1.66
Hubbell IP = 308.67
Park Factor = 0.96

1. LWTS Runs=(3.34-(3.34/(3.34/1.66*.96)))*(308.67/9) = 55.25

2. LWTS Runs required for a Win = (10*SQRT(3.97/4.5)) = 9.39

3. LWTS Wins = 55.25/9.39 = 5.88

4. LWTS Wins-250 = 5.88/308.67*250 = 4.77

5. WSAA = 4.77*2.338 = 11.14

6. WS-250 = 11.14+14.1 = 25.2

7. PredWS = 25.2*308.67/250 = 31.2

Hubbell actually had 33.3 pitching WS in 1933. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty good. Some will be closer to accurate, and some not. When I used the formula for the 1921-1941 era, it predicted 31.1 WS.
   47. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 05, 2005 at 03:59 PM (#1449927)

How many pitchers and first basemen have had over 300 WS after Ray Brown's debut?
   48. Chris Cobb Posted: July 05, 2005 at 04:02 PM (#1449929)

Thanks for posting your formula. It _is_ more complicated, but the results look good! I think with several ways of looking at NeL pitcher win shares, we're getting an increasingly fair view of their quality.
   49. Jeff M Posted: July 05, 2005 at 08:05 PM (#1450649)

I hope that's a real question and you aren't just teasing me, because it takes a little bit of work.

Anyway, not sure what you mean by "after," but assuming you mean started their careers in 1931 or later:

19 1b
17 pitchers
(through 2003)
   50. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 05, 2005 at 08:26 PM (#1450702)
And presumably there's one or two pitchers and 1Bs whose careers might have eclipsed 300 but for the war.
   51. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 05, 2005 at 09:08 PM (#1450805)
I hope that's a real question and you aren't just teasing me, because it takes a little bit of work.

That was a real question. Sorry about that, Jeff. I thought you might have had that info handy when you compiled your numbers from yesterday. I wasn't trying to burden you with work that I could have done myself. :-) Thanks for your response!

Judging by your numbers and how much greater the pitching population is, I'm even more convinced that it's more difficult to earn 300 WS. Not that we should go overboard now and overrate pitchers compared to first basemen.
   52. Jeff M Posted: July 05, 2005 at 10:29 PM (#1450988)
Unfortunately my career WS sheet doesn't have the years played, but it wasn't that much more work. I just thought maybe you had already looked it up and there were 50 first basemen and 8 pitchers, or something like that. :)
   53. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 05, 2005 at 10:33 PM (#1450997)
I just thought maybe you had already looked it up and there were 50 first basemen and 8 pitchers, or something like that. :)


No, I don't believe in playing games like that with my friends. Somebody I dislike? That's a different story. :-)
   54. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: August 16, 2006 at 07:27 AM (#2142706)
From SABR-L today:

Stew Thornley: I talked to the sexton at Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio, today,
and he gave me the info (section, row, etc.) for Ray Brown's grave, which I posted on my web site at

The grave is unmarked, and he said they are trying to raise funds to purchase a marker for him. If anyone wants to contribute, you can send a check payable to Greencastle Cemetery, Ray Brown Memorial Fund, and send it to Greencastle Cemetery, 2045 Nicholas Road, Dayton, Ohio

I know there are other unmarked Hall of Fame graves and there are efforts to get markers for them although I don't have any specific details on the other ones.

FXF's reply: Generally speaking the SABR Board has been inclined to assist in these fund raising matters, including receiving earmarked donations and having SABR cut the checks so that these things are tax deductible. We just helped out with
the Barnes grave marker in Seattle. Stew, be in touch with the exec dir about this...


Thought that might interest some here.

Maybe we can send a collective donation from the Hall of Merit via SABR if any are interested? Not sure how that would work tax deductibility wise, etc.. If there's interest, I'll talk to FX.
   55. Paul Wendt Posted: August 16, 2006 at 05:17 PM (#2143102)
The Negro Leagues Cmte recently (but not the August newsletter) called for help in identifying and perhaps marking gravesites. As I recall, they made all 6-10 unknown/unmarked sites for the 39 finalists equal in priority. (Frank Grant and Sol White may be two, both in greater NYC.) Maybe the SABR Office or the NLC will clarify to SABR-L, maybe not, for staff members and NLC leaders are rarely visible there.

Tax deductibility pertains to taxpayers, so it is individual payments to SABR, earmarked for the gravesite marker purpose, that would be tax deductible. Ask the SABR Office about entries such as "Joe Dimino, Hall of Merit" or "Hall of Merit" in a print or web list of donors, which is a separate matter from who gets the tax deduction (Dimino or another individual payer).
   56. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 21, 2017 at 11:12 AM (#5559511)
Hey, everyone,

Please find my latest MLEs for Ray Brown here. The fully articulated MLE method is linked in the the article.
   57. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 21, 2017 at 11:14 AM (#5559512)
Fixed the url

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