Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wally Schang

Gee Wally, why are acting so goofy?

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 12, 2004 at 12:40 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 09, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4668579)
With so much about pitch framing, plate blocking, and game calling out there right now, does anyone know of good narrative sources to research these? I'm particularly interested in Schang, Bresnahan, Lombardi, Tenace, Freehan, Campy, and Parrish.

Thanks!
   2. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4674084)
The pitch framing is based on PitchFX data so there won't be any historical information.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 22, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4675467)
DL, right, that's why I'm looking for narrative sources. There's not much in the usual omnibus spots (wiki, BR bullpen, SABR bioproj, NBJHBA, etc...), so if anyone knows any other more specific sources, I'd be much obliged!
   4. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 26, 2015 at 08:49 PM (#4888310)
Wow, I was hoping for a little more discussion here!

Schang is a player whose career mostly pre-dates my system but who received Hall-of-Merit votes in the most recent election, so I think I need to figure out what to do with him. My system relies on Retrosheet play-by-play data, and they've actually released partial data for four seasons of Schang's career: 1922, 1925, 1927, and 1931. These end up missing Schang's prime but his 1922 and 1927 seasons actually turn out to have been among the most "typical" seasons of his career. In 1922, Schang had an OPS+ of 111 and in 1927, he had an OPS+ of 121 vs. a career OPS+ of 121. If you add up his BB-Ref WAR for those two seasons (5.5) and adjust his games played those two seasons (221) up to his career total (1,842), that produces 45.8 WAR. BB-Ref shows Schang with 45.0 career WAR.

So, as a starting point, I thought it might be worth looking at what my system thinks of his 1922 and 1927 seasons and project that up to his full career. I only have data for 189 games for Schang those two seasons, but he looks quite good in those 189 games.

I tried to apply the weights that I did in my 2-part Discussion Thread post (comments #62 and #63, I believe) to Schang's 1922 and 1927 seasons and then blow that up for his full career. I gave him a pro-rated catcher bonus based on his having played 78% of his career games at C (according to BB-Ref), adjusted his seasons up to 162 games. For his 32 career World Series games, he batted .287/.362/.404 vs. a career batting line of .283/.393/.401. For simplicity, I assumed his World Series record would be proportional to his career; it's hard to say if that's reasonable or not.

Anyway, doing all of that, I think Schang ends up right around Jeff Kent (and probably Ben Taylor) on my ballot, probably somewhere around #10 or so. Looking at my numbers, that puts Schang in between Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez among catchers. My system isn't crazy about Ivan Rodriguez (he'll make my ballot when the time comes, but I suspect he'll be elected without me putting him in an "elect me" slot), and Carter ends up quite a bit better than Schang. The next two catchers below Rodriguez on my list are Ted Simmons and Jorge Posada, who are perhaps better comps to Wally Schang.

My system actually thinks fairly highly of Schang's defense, especially considering that the only four seasons were his age-32, 35, 37, and 41 seasons. My system doesn't take any explicit measure of pitch-calling or pitch-framing, and I don't know what Schang's reputation was in that regard (since nobody answered Dr. Chaleeko's almost-year-old question), but he did play for 6 pennant winners and was still catching a majority of his team's games at age 39, so I can't imagine his reputation was terrible.

Finally, I am perhaps not as well versed in this period of history as others (and/or I'm forgetting the obvious answer to this question), but during the 1910's and 1920's, who would have been the best catcher in MLB (and/or in the Negro Leagues)? Because being the best catcher in baseball is something that my system and I would tend to look very favorably upon, which could bump Schang even higher on my ballot (FWIW, he rates as the best catcher in the AL in my system in both 1922 and 1927). FYI, here's Wally Schang's player page from my website.
   5. DL from MN Posted: January 27, 2015 at 11:14 AM (#4888497)
Louis Santop is the top catcher among Schang's contemporaries. Cochrane and Gabby Hartnett were better for part of the 1920s.
   6. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 27, 2015 at 11:26 AM (#4888506)
Louis Santop is the top catcher among Schang's contemporaries. Cochrane and Gabby Hartnett were better for part of the 1920s.


Thanks, DL. Cochrane and Hartnett both seem a little past Schang's time - they overlapped, obviously, but Schang has a decade of prime before Cochrane even shows up and about that long before Hartnett really comes into his own, right? Is Santop the only Hall-of-Merit catcher whose prime fell within the 1910's? If so, I probably will have Schang on my ballot somewhere in the area of Kent and Taylor - maybe even ahead of those two?
   7. Rally Posted: January 27, 2015 at 11:35 AM (#4888516)
If someone want to put the work in to estimate the pitch framing/game calling of early catchers, look at box scores and see how pitchers fared in strikeouts and walks with and without the catcher.
   8. Ron J2 Posted: January 27, 2015 at 12:09 PM (#4888536)
#7 Also worth looking at whether there's a significant difference in BABIP (I doubt it, but nobody to my knowledge has checked) and HR rates.

It seems plausible that a catcher who was good at the Ks and walks side might be calling more hittable pitches.
   9. DL from MN Posted: January 27, 2015 at 02:02 PM (#4888640)
Strikeout rates were so much lower then that framing would probably have less impact.
   10. Ron J2 Posted: January 27, 2015 at 03:20 PM (#4888692)
#9 Good point. Almost everybody was pitching to contact.
   11. DL from MN Posted: January 27, 2015 at 03:31 PM (#4888696)
Controlling the running game, fielding bunts, blocking spitballs that got away - those would be important. BABIP should be higher then than now due to less effective gloves.
   12. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 28, 2015 at 01:40 AM (#4888928)
Summary: Schang is the only pre-integration white player who clearly should be in the Hall of Merit and isn't.

Schang's durability, like Roger Bresnahan's, must be looked at in context. When he retired, he was 3rd all-time in Games Caught. He's still in the top 40. The only ones ahead of him were ageless wonder Deacon McGuire (who got a smattering of votes early in this project) and Ray Schalk (a Cooperstown mistake, the Tony Pena of his era).

His offense is easy to spot. Schang was incredible at not making outs. His OBP is top-100 all time, next to Rod Carew and Gary Sheffield on the all-time list. That's unadjusted OBP; this is a 1910's catcher, folks.

His defense, in proper context, has been unfairly maligned by Hall of Merit voters. His caught-stealing rates are slightly better than league average & improved gradually over the course of his career. Much of the criticism comes from two sources:

- His poor defense in his sophomore season of 1914. If the SABR Bio Project is believable, it was a one-off: Schang was trying to play through a broken thumb.

- His play at positions other than catcher. Schang shouldn't be marked down for this.

After Connie Mack broke up his dynastic 1911-14 A's, Schang played third base and outfield for the woeful 1915-17 teams to get his bat in the lineup more often. On a "not historically awful" team, Schang stays behind the plate.

Then, for the 1920 Red Sox (the year after giving up Babe Ruth), Schang played 39 games in CF - fairly well - while Ed Barrow determined if Roxy Walters, who backed up Schang in 1918-19, had the chops to be an MLB starter. Walters couldn't hit and didn't stick. The next year, Schang hopped onto the Boston-New York shuttle and caught 132 games for Ruth's Yankees.

Also, since postseason credit has come up a lot lately, Schang was the most valuable position player in both the 1913 and 1918 World Series.

Hope I'm convincing voters to take a fresh look!
   13. Carl Goetz Posted: June 28, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5701724)
On his defense, I believe he was known as having a strong arm and was agile behind the plate. I use a combination of TZ and DRA in my WAR system and I definitely believe Schang and Munson are both being undervalued on the defensive side.

I've been doing a lot of work on catchers lately and have a very improved view of Schang and Posada. I'd probably rank them Schang, Munson, Posada as the top 3 catchers not yet enshrined. I have a lot of work remaining on other positions in the next few months so I won't speculate 2019 ballot slots yet, but I see all 3 in my top 30 for sure and probably top 25.
I feel very confident that Schang was the best catcher in white baseball (and I think fairly close in value to Santop based on Dr Chaleko's MLEs) between Bresnahan and Cochrane/Hartnett/Dickey. Others were better in single seasons during that period, but none were consistently in the top 1-4 for as long as Schang. While I don't have an explicit Keltner list that I employ, being the best there is at your position does add a subjective bonus to a player in my rankings. I'm feeling comfortable with Schang and Santop as HOM quality representatives of that era. Certainly, the era that followed with the trifecta from White ball plus Gibson and Mackey was a more rich catcher era, but Schang is certainly deserving.

I was already giving Munson that bonus for being the best for a couple years in the 70s. I look at Munson as a more meteoric, dominating peak while Schang was a longer less bright burn.

Long term, I'd like to see Schang, Munson, and Posada all enshrined (and I still can't decide on Tenace). Ernie Lombardi is next on my list and he's a definite out for me.

Just wanted to come out as Schang's biggest (or at least one of his biggest) fans :)
   14. DanG Posted: June 29, 2018 at 08:10 AM (#5702057)
Most WAR for catchers debuting 1901-21:

Player           WARWAAOPSRfield   PA From   Age
Wally Schang     45.0 20.5  117  
-21.0 6432 1913 23-41
Ray Schalk       28.6  4.5   83   46.0 6239 1912 19
-36
Steve ONeill     24.2  2.8   88   11.0 5569 1911 19
-36
Chief Meyers     24.1 13.7  117    5.0 3229 1909 28
-36
Hank Severeid    20.1  2.0   92    3.0 4787 1911 20
-35
Bob OFarrell     19.8  4.8   98    5.0 4743 1915 18
-38
Johnny Bassler   19.6  8.9  104    9.0 2864 1913 18
-32
Muddy Ruel       18.6 
-1.2   83   20.0 5295 1915 19-38
Bubbles Hargrave 18.6  9.5  118    1.0 2849 1913 20
-37
Hank Gowdy       18.2  8.1  104    9.0 3144 1910 20
-40 

Chief Meyers is the only one here besides Schang that deserves any scrutiny for the Hall of Merit. Steve O'Neill also had an outstanding career as a manager.
   15. karlmagnus Posted: June 29, 2018 at 09:11 AM (#5702071)
DanG, Roger Bresnahan should really be on that list -- debuted 1897, but only for 17 PA as an 18-year-old, real debut was 1901. He had 40.1 WaR, reading it quickly, which makes Schang not quite so unique. Bresnahan is of course both HoF and HoM, though marginal in both cases. But I have long favored Schang for the HoM.
   16. Carl Goetz Posted: June 29, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5702160)
As a catcher 1901 is appropriate, though Bresnahan had more than a cup of coffee in 1897 as he pitched 41 innings. With pitching he goes to 41.7 rWAR.
   17. DanG Posted: July 05, 2018 at 07:54 AM (#5705423)
For the first hundred years of professional baseball, Schang and Lombardi are the top catchers that the HoM has not elected.

Most WAR, debut 1966 or earlier, at least 29% of career Games at catcher:

Rk          Player WARWAAOPSRfield   PA From   To
1       Yogi Berra 59.4 34.0  125   29.8 8359 1946 1965 H
2        Joe Torre 57.6 26.8  129  
-28.8 8802 1960 1977 H
3      Bill Dickey 55.8 31.6  127   20.0 7065 1928 1946 H
4   Gabby Hartnett 53.4 29.7  126   12.0 7297 1922 1941 H
5  Mickey Cochrane 52.1 29.5  129   
-2.0 6208 1925 1937 H
6       Buck Ewing 47.7 28.2  129   74.0 5772 1880 1897 H
7   Ernie Lombardi 45.9 24.4  126  
-21.0 6352 1931 1947
8     Deacon White 45.7 22.1  127  
-19.0 6973 1871 1890 H
9     Wally Schang 45.0 20.5  117  
-21.0 6432 1913 1931
10    Bill Freehan 44.8 21.2  112   28.0 6900 1961 1976 H
11      King Kelly 44.3 22.9  139  
-44.0 6457 1878 1893 H
12 Roger Bresnahan 40.9 23.0  127  
-15.0 5375 1897 1915 H
13 Charlie Bennett 39.2 23.8  119  142.0 4310 1878 1893 H
14  Roy Campanella 34.1 15.6  123   17.0 4815 1948 1957 H
15   Smoky Burgess 33.3 14.2  116   12.0 5013 1949 1967
16   Jack Clements 32.2 16.3  117   49.0 4721 1884 1900
17  Deacon McGuire 31.3  7.7  101   
-6.0 6937 1884 1912
18    Sherm Lollar 30.3 11.3  104   39.4 6220 1946 1963
19    Rick Ferrell 29.8  5.9   95   
-3.0 7076 1929 1947 
   18. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 05, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5705517)
Re #17

Lombardi's place on this list is artificially propped up by three things:
a) No system currently accounts for his awful base running accurately
b) No system currently accounts for his super high GIDP debits
c) Fielding system preference.

Re (a), my own estimations put Lom anywhere from 20 to 30 runs beneath the +5 runs that BBREF currently shows him at. That BBREF figures is NOT based on play-by-play. He was at least as bad a runner as David Ortiz in the latter's later years. Lom suffered numerous foot, ankle, and leg injuries, which further impeded his already legendary "speed."

Re (b), Lombardi is easily the number one finisher in GIDP/BIP, if you sort worst to first. It's not really all that close. Take the information in (a) and apply it to a righty hitter in an era with lots of balls in play but lower DP rates than we have today, and that's a recipe for DP disaster. Probably 20 to 30 runs of disaster.

So between these two traits, he's losing 40 to 60 runs of value, or five WAR, if you prefer.

Finally (c), it's also worth noting that Lombardi also fares 15 runs worse in DRA than in Rfield. At catcher, I'm not really satisfied with any system, so I give Rfield and DRA equal weight, which nicks another 7 or so runs from him.

Put it all together, and his candidacy in my system is torpedoed. He goes from above the line to far enough below that I'm confident he's an also ran, even though he's one of the leading also rans. Of course, everyone else may have something different, but this is a very specific case where we really need to be cognizant of the missing data or not yet compiled value.

BTW: The opposites of Lombardi are fellows such as
Harry Hooper
Sam Rice
Tommy Leach
Max Carey

The baserunning value of these fellows is not necessarily well calibrated since the PBP hasn't been compiled into value yet (if available), because their GIDP isn't know or isn't compiled yet (and they were very fast and/or left handed), and they had excellent outfield arms (well, three of them did), which are not yet compiled with PBP.
   19. QLE Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5706255)
#17-

I feel that this listing by WAR is misleading, in several regards:

1) Campanella's career was split between the Negro Leagues and MLB- if the current projections for his MLEs are remotely accurate (and I have no reason to doubt them), he's at roughly the career value of Dickey.

2) White, Kelly and Bennett played in an era when seasons were considerably shorter than they were for Schang or Lombardi- as a result, they were far more dominant in-period than either Schang or Lombardi were.

3) Freehan had an actual peak, beyond what either Lombardi (who had one season at 4 or more WAR) or Schang (who never had more than 4.4 WAR in a season) had- and, even then, I'm inclined to think he's on the borderline.

4) That leaves Bresnahan- and, given some of the catchers who by my calculations merit induction as much as him (Darrell Porter, Jim Sundberg, Jason Kendall), I'm inclined to regard his induction as a mistake, and one that seems motivated, as some other mistaken inductions were (Stan Hack comes to mind), by feeling a compulsion to induct the best MLB player of a certain position in a certain timeframe. At any rate, my calculations have Schang as closer in value to Yadier Molina than to Bresnahan, so there's that to keep in mind.

In these ways, this data doesn't necessarily prove the assumed point, as the ways in which WAR is tabulated means that a career value in WAR being higher does not necessarily demonstrate being a better player.
   20. DL from MN Posted: July 09, 2018 at 03:07 PM (#5707256)
feeling a compulsion to induct the best MLB player of a certain position in a certain timeframe


otherwise framed as being fair to all eras and positions
   21. QLE Posted: July 09, 2018 at 04:55 PM (#5707304)
otherwise framed as being fair to all eras and positions


Well, yes, being fair to all eras and positions is important (which is why my calculations for this sort of thing aren't based on pure career WAR- it severely underrates pre-1903 position players, and somewhat overrates a certain type of player of the last few decades)- but, at the same time, my calculations indicate that, while talent at all positions tends to approach equality in the long run, this isn't necessarily the case in the short run.

Moreover, in both cases I give above, there are HOM-worthy players at those positions during the rough times Bresnahan and Hack were playing- it's just that they were in the Negro Leagues rather than MLB.
   22. Carl Goetz Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:20 AM (#5707638)
"At any rate, my calculations have Schang as closer in value to Yadier Molina than to Bresnahan, so there's that to keep in mind."
I have him closer to Munson (who I also advocate for) and Louis Santop (Schang's contemporary in the negro leagues who is already inducted) than Molina (as of end of 2017). I would need 3-4 more slightly above average seasons (probably his best case scenario at this stage of his career) after 2017 to be a Yady supporter. Schang did have 15 seasons as an above average player. I am generally a peak favoring voter as well, but generating a peak case as a catcher 100+ years ago was extremely difficult. Even Santop (who I assume you were referring to in the Negro Leagues comment) was more of a career-based case from Dr. Chaleeko's current MLEs as well (though his 1916 does look to be better than any of Schang's seasons).

I also feel as though deadball catcher defense is underrated by the defensive metrics we have right now. There was a lot more stealing and bunting going on and play by play data is spotty at best here. We don't have CS data for a lot of these years which leads me to question how well catcher arms are being accounted for. All accounts are that Schang had a strong arm. I also read (I believe in his SABR bio) that he was considered to be one of the most 'athletic catchers of his day' and was described as 'agile and alert'. And we have no idea who the best framers and handlers were of the period. -21 Rfield by TZ and +8 runs by DRA both seem like a disservice to Schang's defense to me.
On the offensive side, Rbaser info is limited for this period and Rdp is non existent. As a switch hitter with above average speed, he is the type of guy who loses in WAR when this information is not available.

I haven't adjusted explicitly for this because I don't know how to quantify it. But, it seems reasonable to me that he is being underrated by the tune of 3-5 WAR, most of which would come during peak/prime type seasons. My point isn't that I'm adding 5 WAR (or suggesting anyone else should for that matter); rather its that by WAR, Schang (and Munson) are the top unelected catchers and I believe its much more likely that Schang is being underrated than overrated. And yes, I do think it matters that I have Schang as either 1st or 2nd in his era and Munson is a pretty solid 5th in his behind Bench, Carter, Fisk, and Simmons. And again, to be clear, I am a supporter of Munson for induction as well, so please do not take anything in this post to be anti-Munson. I just rank Schang higher.
As for Porter, Sundberg, and Kendall; I do think they have better cases than the average fan would expect, but all 3 still fall short for me. And while all have similar WAR to Bresnahan on the surface, if you make any adjustments for length of season, Bresnahan moves ahead. While I have Schang and Munson ranked higher than Bresnahan, I'm inclined to think that he belongs, though he'd rank at or near the bottom of HoM catchers for me.
   23. . . . . . . Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5707646)
That leaves Bresnahan- and, given some of the catchers who by my calculations merit induction as much as him (Darrell Porter, Jim Sundberg, Jason Kendall), I'm inclined to regard his induction as a mistake, and one that seems motivated, as some other mistaken inductions were (Stan Hack comes to mind), by feeling a compulsion to induct the best MLB player of a certain position in a certain timeframe. At any rate, my calculations have Schang as closer in value to Yadier Molina than to Bresnahan, so there's that to keep in mind.


Bres's induction properly reflects the near-impossibility of playing enough games at C in his era to accumulate career stats that match later catchers. Put differently, Bres's induction is correct; your calculation are a mistake.
   24. DL from MN Posted: July 10, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5707920)
while talent at all positions tends to approach equality in the long run, this isn't necessarily the case in the short run


And yet, in the long run, we are still short on catchers.
   25. Rally Posted: July 10, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5707967)
I also feel as though deadball catcher defense is underrated by the defensive metrics we have right now. There was a lot more stealing and bunting going on and play by play data is spotty at best here. We don't have CS data for a lot of these years which leads me to question how well catcher arms are being accounted for


BBref does have CS data for catchers. For example in 1914 Schang threw out 108 runners in 211 steal attempts. If he did that today he'd have a defensive number off the charts, something like +30 runs. But in 1914 every catcher threw out about half of the guys who ran on them. League average was 45% CS. Instead of a slight positive D runs for that he gets a -3. It looks to me that is a result of his league leading 30 errors, and 17 passed balls, one away from leading the league.

I don't want to claim that we have anywhere close to a complete understanding of defense for deadball catchers, or deadball players anywhere. But we do have and use their stats against the running game.
   26. Carl Goetz Posted: July 10, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5708004)
My bad on the arm. I assumed since we didn't have it for runners in those years, it wasn't available for the catchers either. My mother told me not to assume. I guess things like this are part of the reason I wasn't making explicit adjustments yet. Do we know why there is no wild pitch data from 1913-1924 portion of his career? Was everything called a PB then?
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 10, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5708015)
re #22

"...more of a career-based case from Dr. Chaleeko's current MLEs as well."

You should not assume that's the case simply from the MLE. There's a lot of background calculation that involves rolling averages or career averages so that we can avoid crazy peaks and valleys. But in many cases that means the value that probably resides in a peak ends up spread over a career.

I would say this:
a) The career figure is likely better to use than the seasonal figures
b) The seasonal figures are _probably_ in the _general_ shape of his actual career, but even so, the addition of just a season or two of data can completely realign the MLE at a seasonal level and change our perceptions at the career level.

Willard Brown is one of the better cases in point for (b) because we mostly only had his latter-day career prior to this year. But the addition of 1938, 1946, and 1947 has really pushed his MLE up much further. I suspect when we get 1948 and recalculate, he'll look even better. For that matter, if we should ever get PRWL figures, he'll really stand out. So these MLEs are stable until they aren't. ;)
   28. QLE Posted: July 10, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5708054)
I have him closer to Munson (who I also advocate for) and Louis Santop (Schang's contemporary in the negro leagues who is already inducted) than Molina (as of end of 2017).


I have Munson and Santop as 13 and 12 WAR better in peak/prime than Molina- Schang, meanwhile, is 1 WAR better than Molina by this calculation.

Even Santop (who I assume you were referring to in the Negro Leagues comment) was more of a career-based case from Dr. Chaleeko's current MLEs as well (though his 1916 does look to be better than any of Schang's seasons).


Not necessarily- using those MLEs, I have Santop (who, indeed, was the player I had in mind) as having the same value in peak/prime as Dickey.

Bres's induction properly reflects the near-impossibility of playing enough games at C in his era to accumulate career stats that match later catchers.


Questionable, in three ways:

1) After 1904, all of Bresnahan's seasons were of 154 games in length- and, before 1904, his only season above replacement value was 1903. He deserves an adjustment for his 1903 (which was one of the best seasons of his career), but those before don't really help his argument, and his 1903 by itself would not be enough to get him over the line with adjustments.

2) While I adjust 154-game seasons to 162-game ones for the other positions, I am not convinced it makes sense to do so for catcher- in Bresnahan's specific case, the fact that he only twice played as many as 120 games in a season suggests that Bresnahan's backups would have caught a considerable number of those games.

3) Even if I do give full adjustments and reincorporate the adjustments for 1903, he still falls short- he'd be the best catcher not in, but still out.

And yet, in the long run, we are still short on catchers.


Not by much- and that's with Munson and Posada out and Mauer and (unless it all collapses on him now) Posey still active players.
   29. Rally Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:37 AM (#5708233)
Do we know why there is no wild pitch data from 1913-1924 portion of his career? Was everything called a PB then?


Wild pitch data exists. If you look at pitchers for those years you can see how many WP they threw. We just don't have that data linked by catcher. Probably just a case of nobody doing the hard work of going through the game logs yet.
   30. Rally Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5708239)
Here's an example, a game from 1916: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO191606201.shtml

We know Eppa Rixey threw a wild pitch in this game, one of his 13 for the season. We know that Bill Killefer caught the whole game, so he's the catcher who failed to block that wild pitch. If you download all the game logs from Retrosheet and have some programming skills, you could probably assign most of the wild pitches to catchers with reasonable accuracy. Only problem is when more than one catcher is used in a game. You could either just assign 80% or so of WP with the others unknown, or get creative and try some method of imputation.

Interesting on the league side, wild pitches are more common now than they have been, .37 per game the last three years. Maybe due to harder throwers and an emphasis on spinning the breaking balls. For the 1920s to 1950s, we only had about half as many wild pitches. To find a time where WP were more common than today you have to go back to the 1800s. That's pretty easy to attribute to catchers not wearing gloves.
   31. Carl Goetz Posted: July 11, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5708249)
"You should not assume that's the case simply from the MLE. There's a lot of background calculation that involves rolling averages or career averages so that we can avoid crazy peaks and valleys. But in many cases that means the value that probably resides in a peak ends up spread over a career."
Thanks for the reminder Eric. Its easy to look at the numbers and forget that they are estimates.

   32. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 30, 2020 at 01:42 PM (#5996631)
Bump, on mobile, will plan to copy discussion from 2021 ballot discussion thread over later unless someone can before.
   33. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 30, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5996664)
Recent chatter on Wally part 1:

https://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/hall_of_merit/discussion/2021_hall_of_merit_ballot_discussion/P400

443. Chris Cobb Posted: December 21, 2020 at 10:18 PM (#5995434)
Wally Schang – ranks somewhere between 30 and 45. His lack of peak, as mentioned by others, weakens his case. Among catchers, my current ranking of eligible is Munson, Posada, Schang. I hope to get caught up on recent advances in analyzing catcher defense by the 2022 election.

451. Al Peterson Posted: December 22, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5995542)
Wally Schang: We’re doing this guy? Alrighty, not my cup of tea. If ordering catchers have him below Posada (Jorge is around #30), real close to Tenace/Munson/Lombardi but that’s aways back.

458. Carl Goetz Posted: December 22, 2020 at 07:44 PM (#5995605)
2) Wally Schang: Ditto to Thurman, only he's #2. He's easily the best MLB catcher between Bresnahan and the 30s stars. I rate him better than Santop and I agree with Santop's election.

485. Howie Menckel Posted: December 26, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5996049)
WALLY SCHANG - He keeps bouncing on and off my ballot as well. May need others to carry his water well enough to get me back on board for good.

491. rwargo Posted: December 27, 2020 at 06:19 PM (#5996157)
8. C: Wally Schang (26.0) - #18 all time C. Higher WAA than Torre (adjusted), Freehan and Campanella, plus 19th century guys.

509. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 29, 2020 at 08:50 PM (#5996503)
9. Wally Schang - 107

511. Mike Webber Posted: December 29, 2020 at 10:43 PM (#5996523)
I'm enjoying the Cravath discussion, I have certainly moved in my initial evaluation of him a few years ago when I thought he was not really worthy of discussion to being more open to him belonging in the HOM.

The discussion of Wally Schang and Thurman Munson have caught my attention too. Here is a question I wanted to throw out while the board is very active, about Schang.

Depending on what you do with Buck Ewing who had 48 WAR, compared to Schang’s 47.9….

Wally Schang debuted in 1913 and became the all-time leader in WAR for catchers in 1927, passing Roger Bresnahan. He stayed there until 1937 when Mickey Cocharne passed him. Schang was down to 4th all-time by the start of WW2, with Dickey and Hartnett passing him also. Schang would stay locked into the 4 spot, until Yogi passed him in 1958. Johnny Bench passed him in 1975, Simmons in 1982, Fisk in 1983. He’s still 11th, among people that played half their games at catcher.

If you lower the standard from having only played 40% of your games instead of 50%, which is reasonable, Joe Mauer, Joe Torre and Buck Ewing slot in ahead of him too. Ewing played 47% of his defensive innings at catcher. Schang played 85% of his at catcher.

Everyone ahead of Schang, except Mauer, is in the Hall of Merit. King Kelly just behind him is in. Tenace, Munson, Freehan, Posada and Bresnahan are the rest of the top 20.

At third base, conveniently number 14 in total WAR is Schang’s teammate Homerun Baker. He was the 3b with the most WAR until Eddie Mathews passed him. Baker is in the HOM but the guys around him Bell, Ken Boyer, Bando, Darrel Evans and Longoria mostly aren’t.

Number 14 at 2b is Biggio, SS is Pee Wee Reese, and the guys around them are all in.

Framing Schang’s candidacy that way, my two basic questions are:
If Schang had the most WAR of any MLB catcher until 1937, is that enough evidence alone that he should be in the Hall of Merit?
If Schang was one of the top 6 catchers in WAR in the first 100 years of MLB, is that enough evidence alone that he should be in the Hall of Merit?
I think the answer is yes. But I didn’t put him on my ballot this year, which I’m happy to say is a mistake.

Please feel free to throw stones at this and tell me why this isn’t the right way to frame the discussion. Thanks.


512. kwarren Posted: December 30, 2020 at 12:22 AM (#5996536)
Framing Schang’s candidacy that way, my two basic questions are:
If Schang had the most WAR of any MLB catcher until 1937, is that enough evidence alone that he should be in the Hall of Merit?
If Schang was one of the top 6 catchers in WAR in the first 100 years of MLB, is that enough evidence alone that he should be in the Hall of Merit?
My opinion is that catchers are a bit like relief pitchers in that they don't have the same playing time as other position players. This diminishes their value. There is also the issue that the rigours of playing the position make it more difficult for them to hit at as high a level as they might if they played another position. My feeling is that this makes catchers, on an individual basis, less valuable that other top players at other positions who often have 650-700 plate appearances in a season. The amount that catchers are compensated suggests that this is the way that general managers value them also. Catchers are the lowest paid position, other than relief pitchers, even lower than DH's.

Regarding the assertion that Schang was the best catcher before 1937 I would point out that Bill Dickey (1928-1946), Gabby Hartnett (1922-1941), Buck Ewing (1880-1897), and Mickey Cochrane (1925-1937) all had much higher WAR totals and periods of greatness.

Schang never had even one great season. He was good for a long time but never great. The Hall of Merit's objective is to recognize greatness. I really don't see Schang meeting that criteria even for a short time during his career. His WAR7 is 27.7. You have to go all the way down to Russell Martin in 27th place in JAWS before to run into another catcher as low as that. His best season was 4.4 WAR.

Gene Tenace & Thurman Munson both seem to be more qualified and then we have Joe Mauer and Buster Posey on the way who are both clearly better.

513. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 30, 2020 at 12:26 AM (#5996539)
His WAR7 is 27.7


Except, we don't have all encompassing measures for catchers defense, so 27.7 may be WAY understating his true value.
514. Jaack Posted: December 30, 2020 at 01:05 AM (#5996544)
I'm sort of Schang skeptical. He's never done well by my system, but the funky-ness of catcher usage prior to Cochrane and Hartnett keeps me from having any confidence in that. Teams really had no consistent approach to catching - there were catchers by committee, elite players like Ewing and Bresnahan played off position all the time, guys like Bill Bergen got substantial playing time - feel that my standard methods of accounting for positional and era balance are actually accurate.

I also would like to see another stab done at catcher defense from this era if and when we get more substantial data. Teams were clearly valuing defense incredibly highly at the position in deadball, and right now I don't think our data is much better than an educated guess. This may be a good opportunity for a WOWY-type of thing, as the standard sample size issues would be less substantial with backups playing so much more than nowadays.
515. kcgard2 Posted: December 30, 2020 at 10:10 AM (#5996581)
Except, we don't have all encompassing measures for catchers defense, so 27.7 may be WAY understating his true value.

Yes, again, except that if we had those, it wouldn't move Schang much relative to the whole catcher population, who would also commensurately gain value. Schang looks like roughly an average to slightly above average defensive catcher, so perhaps he would gain a few ordinal spots in catcher rankings if we had all-encompassing defensive measures, or perhaps stay roughly the same as really good defensive catchers leapfrog his offensive contributions. Or perhaps it would turn out Schang was better defensively than the surface stats indicate. Or perhaps worse.

I will add some more thoughts about Schang, as the discussion has been interesting to me. Ignoring the last two seasons of his career (because they aren't part of his HOM case at all), Schang averaged 366 PAs a season. This is basically a guy who played about 55% of what would have been a full-time job over the course of his career. Modern catchers play 80-90% full time. Schang was a valuable defender (roughly average at the most demanding position) and a good offensive player (120 wRC+ in his career). The question is, as kwarren is alluding to, how do we account for catchers of Schang's time? Only getting 55% of full-time play is a huge barrier to the accumulation of value. There are two basic approaches: the kwarren approach which says you'd have to be monstrously valuable within your playing time to be good enough to get in the HOM if you only have 55% playing time, because your overall value will be depressed by lack of playing time. Or the fairness-to-position approach (if no one objects to me calling it that) which says compared to the catchers of his time, Schang was among the best, so he deserves to go in. You could also take a hybrid approach to the two.

Personally, I do take a hybrid approach. If Schang had gotten 75 or 80% playing time, would his offense (or defense) have suffered from the wear and tear? Probably, IMO. Also, in general I am strict when it comes to hypotheticals. We see what Schang's value actually was.

I think there is a case to be made out there for Schang. But I also think that case would have to thread a lot of needles in order to convince me. I'm only speaking for myself, many others are already convinced. If modern catchers only got 55% playing time, I doubt we'd be stumping to elect any of them. In that scenario, one of them would still stand out as being among the iron men of catchers and among the most valuable. But now I am getting into speculation myself :)
516. Howie Menckel Posted: December 30, 2020 at 10:13 AM (#5996582)
"Balloting is open from now (December 18) through January 7, 2021 at 5 p.m. EST."

..............

"Modern catchers play 80-90% full time."

they do?
517. Chris Cobb Posted: December 30, 2020 at 10:37 AM (#5996586)
kcgard's post sums up the problem nicely. I'll add a few small points:

-I see it important to the "positional fairness" argument that two NeL contemporaries of Schang -- Louis Santop and Biz Mackey -- have been elected. I'd like to see their presence more fully acknowledged in arguments re Schang's case.

-If catcher defense is significantly more valuable relative to other positions in Schang's time than WAR allows, then Schang's case in my system would be considerably strengthened.

-Schang's peak is hurt not only by lack of playing but also by lack of peak production. His peak WAR/162 games is lower than that of any of his elected major-league contemporaries and lower than any elected catcher. At 4.56 BWAR/162 games, Schang's best play was barely of "all-star" quality. The HoM electorate, in the aggregate, has generally wanted to see evidence of peak performance that rises to a higher level than Schang showed. Of course, if his defense is being underrated, then adding defensive value would bring up his peak rate also.

Considering these points, I would find analyses from Schang advocates that dig in on the topic of catcher defensive value to be the most useful. One thing that comes to my is that, given usage patterns, WOWY-style analysis of the catchers in Schang's period ought to be quite feasible, for those with the statistical power to do it, and if the game-level data via Retrosheet is sufficient to support it.
   34. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 30, 2020 at 03:36 PM (#5996665)
Schang discussion part 2:

518. Al Peterson Posted: December 30, 2020 at 12:21 PM (#5996610)
Fun stuff on Schang. He doesn't get a ballot spot from me, I think the era is fine for representation once you add in Santop and Mackey. Another item that doesn't tip the needle for me on Schang is the feeling that new defensive metrics will bump him up. His major league years 1913-1931 were a time of transition - started in dead ball era and move to live ball era/ban of the spitball. With it came a change in hitting & pitching. You check the metrics pre- and post-1920 and you see decreasing rates of the following: stolen bases, strikeouts, wild pitches, passed balls, all while runs scored and WHIP are going up in the new scoring environment. Pitchers are pitching to contact and not going for K's, the long ball is leading to less stolen base attempts. I'd argue that the 2nd half of Schang's career might have been one of the easier for catchers from a defensively standpoint.
519. kcgard2 Posted: December 30, 2020 at 03:11 PM (#5996657)
@Qufini (ballot thread): William Bell is not in HOM. Dobie Moore has barely half the PAs of Taylor in Seamheads' database.

Do modern catchers play 80-90% of full time? If you consider 650 PAs as the benchmark of full time, then the ones we might ever consider for HOM do. Jason Kendall averaged 90%, Lance Parrish averaged 80% (removing cup of coffee and hanger-on seasons), Thurman Munson averaged 89%, Sundberg averaged 76% until age 36 season, Darrell Porter didn't, only about 65%, Javy Lopez 74% removing a season mostly lost to injury, Brad Ausmus 74%. It looks like it may be fairer to have said 75%, but then nobody really considers Lopez or Ausmus for HOM either.

For current guys: Yadier Molina 77%, Brian McCann 78%, Russell Martin 78% (including injury season), Salvador Perez currently 84% (still young), Joe Mauer only played 6 seasons as an honest-to-goodness catcher (do people realize it was that short??), but he played 89% full time in those seasons. Buster Posey going strong at 85% removing his injury season.

Look at HOMers and it's clearer: Gary Carter almost 90%, Fisk 77% without adjusting for strike or 2 of his 4 injury years, Bench 90%, Freehan 81%, Yogi Berra 86%, Piazza 87% removing injury year, Rodriguez at 80% without adjusting for any strikes or injuries. Campanella 77%, Bill Dickey 75% and almost from the same time frame as Schang, Ted Simmons 82% without strike adjustment, Torre 85% (through 1968 when he was primarily a catcher) removing injury season.

For guys who've gotten in HOM or got consideration, roughly 75% of full-time playing load basically looks like a lower bound. Bresnahan might the closest comp, IMO, in terms of playing load, except that teams played about 138 games a year in his years of full-time catching, compared to 154 in Schang's. Through his 20s, Bresnahan was at 82%. Unless you cherry pick away a large portion of Schang's catching career, it's hard to even get him into the 60s. Using age 25-34 (1915-1924) is the most favorable stretch I can hand to Schang and he's at 63.5% playing time load there, but it's also accounting for less than 2/3 of his career value in that stretch. FWIW, the cherry picked Bresnahan stretch was worth almost exactly 2/3 of his career value.

There's kind of a lot to unpack. Why was Schang's playing time so low? Hartnett was at 73% and Cochrane at 83%, Dickey 75%, Rick Ferrell 72% and their careers were just later than Schang. Buck Ewing was at 94% for the years he was a primary catcher (1881-1890 excluding 1887)...I just don't entirely know what to do with all this in relation to Schang. Was Schang at the exact nadir of MLB catcher usage norms? Why couldn't/didn't he play a few games at another position when he wasn't catching, as many of these other guys did? His bat was good enough. He ended up playing a lot of games at catcher over the course of his career because his career lasted at catcher longer than other guys. Was that effectively a trade of bulk in given years for longevity spread over more years? If the light yearly load helped the longevity of his career, should he get credit for low yearly usage? If not, then you are stuck with a marked lack of peak.


https://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/hall_of_merit/discussion/2021_hall_of_merit_ballot/

1. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:41 AM (#5994850)
12) Wally Schang - best C available, PHoM 1987

3. kcgard2 Posted: December 18, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5994969)
Wally Schang #170. I'm just not with the electorate here. There's no peak at all. I have him as the 6th best catcher available (in order: Munson, Tenace, Posada, Sundberg, Porter, Schang, Kendall, Parrish, Lombardi, Javy Lopez)

4. kwarren Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:37 PM (#5994987)
Wally Schang - Had no peak whatsoever. Best 7 years of WAR = 27.6 the lowest of anybody among the 27 top catchers. He was a good solid catcher for a long time, but never a great one. Not good enough to be on a Hall of Merit Ballot.

5. Jaack Posted: December 19, 2020 at 01:26 AM (#5994995)
73. Wally Schang - I honestly don’t know what to do about Schang. On the one hand, I totally get it – his bat was excellent for a catcher in this era, and his low PA isn’t out of place for one either. At the same time, he’s never done particularly well by my system. Very open to be convinced here – perhaps more data for his career will sway me either way.

8. progrockfan Posted: December 19, 2020 at 09:22 AM (#5995010)
3. Wally Schang. The most under-represented group in the HoM is third basemen, but I don’t see any eligibles who are (imho) worthy of election—whereas catchers are the second most under-represented group, and I can see a case for Schang. If he doesn’t make it this year, though, Mauer will push him down the list. His .393 career OBP ranks second all-time at catcher. Good career longevity and brilliant defense in four World Series.

10. cookiedabookie Posted: December 21, 2020 at 04:52 PM (#5995379)
4. Wally Schang - My second-ranked catcher, 18th overall. He should be inducted into the HoM.

12. Rob_Wood Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:49 AM (#5995510)
Required disclosures: Other top-ten returnees not on my ballot are Lance Berkman (16) and Wally Schang (200).

15. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 22, 2020 at 08:53 PM (#5995615)
3. Wally Schang (C #13): Helps remedy the the dearth of catchers, and given that I rank him 13th there, outweighs my concerns about his era

16. The Honorable Ardo Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:55 PM (#5995639)
1. Wally Schang (4-3-2) The bandwagon is rolling! Career on-base percentage of .393, higher than Gary Sheffield and Rod Carew, as a catcher who played half his career in the dead-ball era. Defense? Above the AL average in CS% at a time when everyone ran. Durability? 3rd all-time in games caught at his retirement.

17. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 23, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5995719)
8. Wally Schang - this is largely moving outside of my stat as his prime still mostly pre-dates my stat.

21. Qufini Posted: December 30, 2020 at 10:03 AM (#5996578)
Wally Schang: great catcher, I have him 3rd at the position him behind Munson and Howard

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
HowardMegdal
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.5943 seconds
41 querie(s) executed