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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tris Speaker

Eligible in 1934.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 12:40 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 12:45 PM (#2314534)
We spoke about Spoke on these threads:

1934 Ballot Discussion

Center Fielder Positional Thread

If you know of any others, please let me know.
   2. tfbg9 Posted: March 20, 2007 at 04:26 PM (#2314695)
Current Red Sox TV guy Orsillo did not know that Speaker played CF. Pretty bad.
   3. Willie Mays Hayes Posted: March 20, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2314704)
Having had the extreme displeasure of having to sit through him and Remy for two baseball seasons while I was inexplicably living in enemy territory, I can safely say that does not surprise me a lick.
   4. Mike Humphreys Posted: March 20, 2007 at 04:55 PM (#2314722)
It looks as though, based on the above threads, that nobody believes that Speaker's clearly better fielding trumps Cobb's higher batting average. I'm not so sure. It's very easy to believe that Speaker was at least 20 runs better than his peers, at least during his peak seasons, in which case Speaker's peak (three, five, ten years) was maybe better than Cobb's. For me the question comes down to this: if you were a team owner in 1907 and could choose one of these guys, who would you take? The fielding and the more positive personal characteristics lead me to favor Speaker.
   5. Willie Mays Hayes Posted: March 20, 2007 at 05:18 PM (#2314742)
FWIW, I'm not so sure I wouldn't take Speaker; I think it would depend on my home ballpark.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 06:11 PM (#2314783)
I don't hink it a coincidnece thaqt Speaker's teams were generally more successful than Cobb's were.

Speaker's teams did have better players on average than Cobb's, though. With that said, The Grey Eagle would have been a lot easier to get along with, that's for sure.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2007 at 06:28 PM (#2314799)
Of course if it really was 1907 you wouldn't know what each of them would go on to do.

But in fantasy land, you do. I think most HoM voters would probably take Speaker for the reasons mentioned above.

As HoM voters, we are sworn not to give the so-called character issues much consideration, however. And Spoke's defense alone doesn't, IMO, make up for Cobb's offense. You need the character issue to get to Speaker. And, again, HoM voters have agreed not to appeal to the character issue except in extraordinary cases.
   8. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2007 at 06:55 PM (#2314824)
52 of 56 #1 votes is quite a resounding preference of Cobb over Speaker. I see that vote as being similar to Barry Bonds MVP votes. People were looking for reasons not to vote for him, but the raw production was just too overwhelming. Cobb has a 92 WS edge over speaker. That's a lot of ground to make up with character issues. None of this takes away anything from Tris though. A great, great player.

The teams being more successful remark isn't necessarily that true. Both played for the same number of pennant winners... but Cobb went 0-3 and Speaker 3-0 partly due to the difference in their own postseason play.
   9. jimd Posted: March 20, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2314862)
Cobb has a 92 WS edge over speaker.

BP WARP1 has Cobb's career edge at 11.6 WARP, 232.0 to 220.4. Cobb also played 246 more games. Expressing the career numbers as a rate per 154 games (i.e. a typical 154 game season), Speaker leads 12.2 to 11.8. Using WARP, one could build a case for Speaker without recourse to the character issues.
   10. Mike Humphreys Posted: March 20, 2007 at 08:47 PM (#2314890)
jimd, thanks for bringing that up. BP probably understates Speaker's defense by half--if you add another 100 runs saved, his cumulative WARP is virtually the same. As a tie-breaker, I think you have to go for Speaker, not because he's a 'nicer guy', but because he was probably less disruptive and probably a positive force in terms of bringing along players. Also, wasn't he a great player-manager?
   11. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2314914)
We don't count player managing here (see Frank Chance).

I feel like a cranky curmudgeon taking the Cobb side in a Speaker thread. :-)

As much as there is no shame in finishing second to Ty Cobb, I will concur that Speaker is indeed an all-time great. He would have been a unanimous #1 most other years.
   12. TomH Posted: March 21, 2007 at 02:29 PM (#2315228)
posted this before, but it's (to me) very intriguing info:

Tris Speaker has some incredible home/road splits. Far larger than any 'park effect' adjsutments would sugest. And this occurred in both of hte parks he caled home for over 1000 games. Either the man was so smart he figured out how to adjsut his swing to two home parks, or they were similar enough that his natural swing worked for both, or the data Bill Deane gave me is hosed up (I doubt that one!), or some other reason. But here are Speakers career home/road numbers:

.AB ....R ....H ...2B .3B .HR BB HB AVG .OBP SLG OPS
5007 979 1827 469 115 59 713 48 .365 .449 .540 .989
5188 902 1687 322 108 58 668 54 .325 .408 .462 .870

The extra amount of doubles he hit at home amazes me. I've never seen any bio of Speaker that suggests why it might be so. But he did take far more advantage of his parks than most great players. Don't know if he could pul this off in some other pace and time; and this beocmes my tie-breaker to relegate him to "only" fourth among MLB's great CFers.
   13. Mike Humphreys Posted: March 21, 2007 at 04:18 PM (#2315326)
"I cut my drives between the first baseman and the line and that is my favorite alley for my doubles." Don Jensen, "Tristram E. Speaker, Centerfielder, 1907-1915" 436 Deadball Stars of the American League (SABR 2007). Maybe there was a park effect down the line in both of his home parks. Part of me wants to credit him for his smarts; the other part says he couldn't be as effective overall in other parks, no matter how smart he was.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: March 22, 2007 at 02:01 PM (#2315789)
Is there any park in history where a line drive between the first baseman and the line is not a double? Have you ever heard of a player being able to surgically place line drives through such a narrow gap?

The Indians & Sox both regularly lead the league in doubles when Tris was with them. Fenway & League Park had huge centerfields (though I don't know how huge relative to other parks). This was 20-25 years before the funny ground rule that helped Earl Webb get 67 doubles in Fenway, no?

Plus, I haven't been a big fan of looking at home/road splits outside of the PF. Maybe Speaker didn't like to travel. I'm going to side with Tris on this one. There, I feel less curmudgeonly now. :-)
   15. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: March 22, 2007 at 02:41 PM (#2315817)
Hmm, just went back to look at my 1934 Ballot - I had Cobb 1st, Speaker 4th, although I noted I might take him on my team first, as people were saying then. Other things I noticed were that I'm still using a couple of the same descriptive lines on my ballot (for Monroe and Leach, although I've added stuff), and I've PHoMed players 1-9, 11-15, 23, 28 and 33. (Jimmy Ryan's the poor bastard left behind at #10.)
   16. jingoist Posted: March 22, 2007 at 09:02 PM (#2316181)
Jimmy Ryan's the poor bastard left at some reasonably high numer of a lot of lon-time voters ballots.
Duffy, GVH and Ryan seemingly are doomed to be relegated to the HoVG.
Tris would be either #3 or #4 on my all-time CF team behind Mays, Cobb and tied/ahead of Mickey.

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