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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The All-Time Negro League All Star team

First Base: Walter ‘Buck’ Leonard is our starting first baseman. A teammate of Josh Gibson, Leonard is another player who hit for power and average. He regularly posted .350+ batting averages, leading the Negro Leagues in 1948 with a .395 mark, and often finished second in home runs behind Gibson.

Second Base: at second base, we place utility man Martin Dihigo. The pitcher / outfielder / second baseman hailed from Cuba, and was another player in the Cool Papa Bell-mold of disruptive lightning quick on the bases.

Third Base: Ray Dandridge is our starting third baseman. A born shortstop, Dandridge played at the hot corner for most of his career since his teammate Hall of Famer Willie Wells manned up-the-middle. Dandridge was an exceptional fielder, with a strong bat.

Shortstop: Few shortstops can claim to play a decent middle infield into their mid-40s, but John Henry Lloyd is one such player. As a 45-year-old in 1945, Lloyd batted .370, and followed up by hitting .369 the following season.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 10, 2021 at 06:12 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: negro leagues

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   1. Mike Webber Posted: February 11, 2021 at 10:16 AM (#6004689)
Shortstop: Few shortstops can claim to play a decent middle infield into their mid-40s, but John Henry Lloyd is one such player. As a 45-year-old in 1945, Lloyd batted .370, and followed up by hitting .369 the following season.

John Henry Lloyd was born in 1884.

He did have a great year in 1929 when he was 45 though.

And as much as I love the Cool Papa stories, having him in center is questionable at best.

This list is exactly the list of players that were admitted to the BBHOF from 1971 to 1977 with Dandridge swapped in for Judy Johnson at 3B.
   2. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 11, 2021 at 01:51 PM (#6004735)
All of the players selected here were great, of course, but I probably would have gone with Turkey Stearnes over Monte Irvin. I'd have been tempted to take Grant Johnson over Dandridge - put Johnson at second and slide Dihigo over to third.

Torriente over Bell maybe? Joe Williams or a Foster Brother over Paige?

I'm splitting hairs. These guys were all incredible players.
   3. Moeball Posted: February 12, 2021 at 03:11 AM (#6004824)
It was difficult to pin Paige down to a contract, he had spent so much of his life as barnstorming showman. But there is no doubt he was a brilliant pitcher. Wasn't allowed to pitch in MLB until he was at least 42. Pitched off and on into his 50s with a career ERA of about 3.3. Last time I checked, pitchers aren't in their prime in their 40s and 50s but Satch could definitely still get hitters out. Even when he was about 60 he still pitched 3 shutout innings against the Red Sox and I think Yaz was the only one that got a hit against him. I seriously doubt Brother or Williams would have been able to do this. For that matter, I seriously doubt many of the greatest HOF pitchers in MLB history would have pitched that effectively at such advanced ages. I have to think Paige must have been absolutely untouchable in his prime.
   4. bjhanke Posted: February 12, 2021 at 08:58 AM (#6004830)
I'd agree with most of this list. Second Base was probably the weakest position in the Negro Leagues; if you want to put Martin Dihigo somewhere, Second Base is probably the best choice. Most Negro League enthusiasts whose opinion I know think that Ray Dandridge was a better player than Judy Johnston, and that there is a serious gap between them and any other Negro League 3B. Choosing Oscar Charleston as the RF is an odd choice. Oscar was a superstar CF until about 1930, when something happened, and he appears to have put on weight, and he's playing 1B. He'd be the obvious CF choice, except for that second part of his career. Putting him in right field amounts to saying that you think that Cool Papa Bell was a better player than Turkey Stearnes or Mule Suttles: You know, the normal choices at RF. I have no real idea where to rank Monte Irvin, because so much of his career is actually in the white Majors, and he wasn't superhuman then. Who knows whether he was better than Stearns? And Cristobal Torriente is exceptionally hard to rate, because he played so much of his career in Latin America, instead of the Negro Leagues. His numbers when in the NgL are outstanding.
   5. Rally Posted: February 12, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6004832)
My thought was putting Turkey in for Cool Papa. I'm sure Cool Papa was faster, but they played mostly contemporaries and by the Seamheads data the OPS+ difference is 173 to 125 in the favor of Turkey. Turkey was also a centerfielder, so while you might be sacrificing some defense it's not like you're replacing Gary Pettis with Greg Luzinski. Plus with Charleston on the team, you'd still have two CF and the defense would be fine.

Paige was the best pitcher and I don't think it's particularly close. Again by the Seamheads data, he had a 170 ERA+ in over 1500 innings. The next best for anyone with at least 1000 innings was 149. He looks even better by fielding independent pitching. His strikeout rate is far above everyone else, and his walk rate is among the lowest. Add in that he was able to get major league hitters out until age 59, and he is not just my pick for greatest Negro League pitcher, but greatest pitcher to ever live period.
   6. Mefisto Posted: February 12, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6004833)
It's hard to be superhuman when you don't get to the majors until you're 30, don't play regularly until you're 32, finish 3d in the MVP voting, and then break your leg and never fully recover.
   7. TomH Posted: February 12, 2021 at 10:13 AM (#6004843)
I don't have the chops of many others to choose this team... I would be regurgitating Seamheads and Holway and Ted Knorr, etc.

But if I WERE to write an article, I would say "here is why I chose Satchel Paige over X and Y"; without acknowledging the alternatives, there is a big hole in the process IMHO.
   8. . Posted: February 12, 2021 at 10:25 AM (#6004845)
At age 45, Satchel Paige had a 2.85 FIP in 138 innings and a K rate 50% higher than league average, before modern medicine, modern training, all the rest. He's one of the top 5-10 pitchers in baseball history, without question and very well might be the best.
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 12, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6004850)
From the perspective of having run up a lot of MLEs for these guys, the data suggests the following
C: Josh Gibson
1B: Buck Leonard
2B: George Scales
3B: Jud Wilson
SS: John Henry Lloyd
LF: Mule Suttles (spent a little less than half his time there, and the next best, Fats Jenkins is far behind; could put Monte Irvin here because he played there in the majors tho on any other team he was probably a CF)
CF: Oscar Charleston
RF: Either Heavy Johnson or Hurley McNair

P1: Satchel Paige
P2: Smokey Joe Williams
P3: Bullet Rogan (doubles as extra OF)
P4: Martin Dihigo (doubles as UT)
P5: Either Dick Redding or the unheralded Walter Ball

Of course, we can tweak the corner outfield spots and put some of the legion of CFs there. Stearnes and Torriente are the two top CFs who could take a corner.
   10. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: February 14, 2021 at 03:49 PM (#6005102)
Cool Papa Bell's Strat-o-Matic card (on 2-12, I believe) has something like, "out, hit by own line drive".

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