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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Negro Leagues stats no longer stuff of legend

Over at the Seamheads Negro Leagues database, a dedicated few have combed through newspapers and scorebooks, photo albums and microfiche to piece together the most complete statistical record of the Negro Leagues to date.

For example, here, courtesy of Ashwill, are the pages from a 1941-42 Baltimore Elite Giants scorebook showing the Elites beating the Philadelphia Stars on Aug. 16, 1942:

“The biggest myth of them all is that the history of Negro League baseball is nothing but blurry, hard-to-substantiate legends and tall tales,” Ashwill wrote in an email to MLB.com. “I grew up with the distinct impression that no statistics could ever be compiled, that it was often unclear what happened at all, and that it was more or less impossible to find out anything for sure about many of the players.”

That started to change in the 1980s and early ‘90s as researchers like Dick Clark, Larry Lester, John Holway, James Riley and Phil Dixon began assembling a more robust statistical record. That mission continues today.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:35 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: negro leagues

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   1. DL from MN Posted: November 18, 2020 at 10:39 AM (#5989522)
Thank you for your dedicated work to document history.
   2. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: November 18, 2020 at 10:58 AM (#5989529)
This work is tremendous and deserves more press.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:10 AM (#5989534)
Are these stats reflected on BRef?
   4. DL from MN Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:22 AM (#5989539)
Are these stats reflected on BRef?


http://www.seamheads.com/NegroLgs/
   5. DanG Posted: November 18, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5989586)
Eric Chalek has translated the Seamheads data into Major League Equivalencies for all the great players from the Negro leagues.
   6. alilisd Posted: November 18, 2020 at 04:17 PM (#5989630)
Bravo!
   7. Gch Posted: November 18, 2020 at 07:47 PM (#5989699)
Seamheads is a fantastic website and I love their graphs.

Eric Chalek has translated the Seamheads data into Major League Equivalencies for all the great players from the Negro leagues.


Do you happen to know if Eric or anybody else has equivalencies for more basic stats? I play History Maker Baseball and when I saw that he had MLE's for individual seasons of the greats I thought about using them to create an alternate history integrated league for a random season, but History Maker requires batting average/doubles/home runs/walks/strikeouts.
   8. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:06 PM (#5989744)
Wow talk about some bad luck. In 1944 Satchel Paige posted a 0.72 ERA to go with a 6-3 record and five no-decisions. The weirdest part is that his team was scoring 3.9 R/G. Which means either that there were a HUGE number of errors, or else his team was scoring, like, six runs per game for everybody else on the staff, and none for Paige.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:02 AM (#5989851)

Wow talk about some bad luck. In 1944 Satchel Paige posted a 0.72 ERA to go with a 6-3 record and five no-decisions. The weirdest part is that his team was scoring 3.9 R/G. Which means either that there were a HUGE number of errors, or else his team was scoring, like, six runs per game for everybody else on the staff, and none for Paige.



Pedro Martinez had a season like that. In 2003, Pedro had a 2.22 ERA, good for a 211 ERA+. The Red Sox scored 961 runs, nearly 70 runs more than the second-highest scoring team in the AL. Pedro won 14 out of his 29 starts.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:17 AM (#5989857)
Do you happen to know if Eric or anybody else has equivalencies for more basic stats?

I'd suggest you inquire within one of the more recent Hall of Merit threads.
   11. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:19 AM (#5989858)
The more data we get, the clearer it becomes that Paige is right there with Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens: one of only three real contenders for the best pitcher of all time. Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller weren't joking when they each said Paige was better than their best.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:30 AM (#5989860)
or else his team was scoring, like, six runs per game for everybody else on the staff, and none for Paige.
Jacob deGrom would like to buy him a drink.
   13. DanG Posted: November 19, 2020 at 07:44 AM (#5989874)
The really great ones pitch to the score, we all know that.
   14. Rally Posted: November 19, 2020 at 08:09 AM (#5989876)
The more data we get, the clearer it becomes that Paige is right there with Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens: one of only three real contenders for the best pitcher of all time. Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller weren't joking when they each said Paige was better than their best.


Even that translation sells Satchel a bit short. From 1956-1958 he pitched for the Miami Marlins (a AAA team at the time, much like in 2018-2019). He was 49 to 51 years old, and he was beyond a doubt a good MLB pitcher at the time, if only a big league team was willing to play him. Most of his actual MLB career was due to Bill Veeck, and I believe at that time Bill was in one of his off periods of team ownership.

I did an article on translating those seasons in a Hardball Times print edition several years ago. It's actually very easy to do the translation without much worry of selective sampling, because something like 90% of his teammates in those years did have MLB careers. He was the best pitcher on the Marlins staff during that time.

Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a traditionalist, and it would be weird for me to complain about seeing value stats like WAR, but I kind of wish Eric also tried to project the traditional stats for some of these guys. Like how many wins, strikeouts, etc. Satchel might have had. Dizzy Dean won 150 games, Feller 266. Satchel probably would have won more than those two combined if the big leagues had been integrated when he started.
   15. Mefisto Posted: November 19, 2020 at 09:26 AM (#5989886)
@12: Matt Cain will buy him one too.
   16. Hank Gillette Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:28 PM (#5989928)
http://www.seamheads.com/NegroLgs/


I don’t know how they calculate WAR, but Josh Gibson had 56.5 career WAR with less than 4000 PA.

Yogi had 59.5 WAR with over 8300 PA.
   17. Rennie's Tenet Posted: November 19, 2020 at 01:10 PM (#5989944)
Most of his actual MLB career was due to Bill Veeck, and I believe at that time Bill was in one of his off periods of team ownership.


Veeck was involved in running the Marlins, though I'm not sure if he was the main operator. The team owners, Eliot Stein and Sidney Salomon, had been part of Veeck's ownership group in St. Louis.
   18. DL from MN Posted: November 19, 2020 at 01:33 PM (#5989955)
I don’t know how they calculate WAR, but Josh Gibson had 56.5 career WAR with less than 4000 PA.


I'm going to bet NGL replacement value is lower than MLB replacement value.
   19. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 19, 2020 at 02:26 PM (#5989977)
This is incredible. I didn't know the African-American newspapers in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, etc were comprehensively and reliably printing box scores. Because they weren't available to the people compiling the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia in the 70s (which I think got all its information either from the teams, from the leagues, or The Sporting News and didn't trawl through box scores for white players either) everyone just assumed that they weren't out there?

I guess it's not that simple because most of the games they played weren't part of the league season, but we didn't even have stats for the league seasons?
   20. flournoy Posted: November 19, 2020 at 04:53 PM (#5990008)
In 1944 Satchel Paige posted a 0.72 ERA to go with a 6-3 record and five no-decisions. The weirdest part is that his team was scoring 3.9 R/G. Which means either that there were a HUGE number of errors, or else his team was scoring, like, six runs per game for everybody else on the staff, and none for Paige.


The errors sound like a good guess. I would guess that Negro Leaguers didn't tend to have access to the top-of-the-line equipment and that their fields were not nearly as well maintained as their Major League counterparts.

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