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The Hall of Merit A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best


Saturday, July 13 - Full Blog Archive


Catchers

Here are the catchers. Deacon White is the man!


--posted by Joe Dimino at 12:03 AM EDT / Link / Discussion (29 Comments)

Posted 2:19 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#1) - Bill Barnwell (e-mail)
  If John Clapp is somehow related to Stubby Clapp, he's in.

As for Deacon White - he only got 39% of his WS at catcher. If he played those 5 years in the NA at catcher, I would be more apt to further him, but I'm not sure if they were.

The only guys who I would throw my support behind would be Buck Ewing and maybe Jack Clements.

Posted 2:45 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#2) - John Murphy
  What is Kid Baldwin doing on this list?

Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the catchers (NA not included as of yet):

Kid Baldwin: 3:09
Charlie Bennett: 23.95
Lew Brown: 21.43
Fred Carroll: 26.43
John Clapp: 24.40
Jack Clements: 20.44
Buck Ewing: 29.69
Jim Keenan: 18.59
Doggie Miller: 16.61
Jocko Milligan: 22.65
Jack O'Brien: 24.81
Deacon White: 23.78
Ed Whiting: 23.40

Posted 3:04 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#3) - John Murphy
  Deacon White and Buck Ewing are definite HoMers. Charlie Bennett and Jack Clements are the only others picks that I would take a look at (possibly Clapp).

Posted 12:03 p.m., July 13, 2002 (#4) - John Murphy
  Oops!

Kid Baldwin's Win Shares per 162 games: 14.33

That's what I get when I do calculations at two in the morning!

Posted 8:27 p.m., July 14, 2002 (#5) - John Murphy
  128 - 26, 22, 19 - 90 - Silver Flint - 8.8 sea. - 66 batting - 61 fielding.
C 90%, RF 7%, 1B 1%, 3B 1%, LF 1%.
notes: 1875;1878-88. 5-year peak from age 23-27. Played entire career in NL (except for 1875).

Win Shares per 162 games: 15.92

83 - 22, 15, 12 - 52 - Doc Bushong - 6.2 sea. - 83 batting - 30 fielding.
C 99%, 3B 1%.
notes: 1875-76;1880-90. 5-year peak from age 26-30. Played in NL 1876, 1880-1884, 1890; 1885-90 in AA; 1875 in NA (except for 1875).

Win Shares per 162 games: 13.50

Posted 11:39 p.m., July 14, 2002 (#6) - scruff (e-mail)
  Bill -- that doesn't mean Deacon only picked up 39% of his WS as catcher. It means he played 39% of his career as a catcher.

WS are position ignorant. What I mean is that 332 WS means the same thing whether you are a LF or a C. Catchers get a higher percentage of their WS from fielding than LF's generally, but once the final number is in, position has already been accounted for.

Deacon also did most of his catching in the NA, 4.3 of his 5.0 seasons in the NA were as a catcher. He caught the equivalent of about 7.0 seasons in his career.

Posted 8:47 a.m., July 15, 2002 (#7) - MattB
  Deacon White also has the first hit in major league history: a double on opening day, May 4, 1871 off of Ft. Wayne's Bobby Mathews in the top of the first inning. He was subsequently doubled up on a line drive to second, so did not score.

Posted 11:09 p.m., July 15, 2002 (#8) - DanG (e-mail)
  Catchers have short careers (duh!) I only turned up one other long-career catcher whom we might consider for our first ballot:

Jack Boyle 1886-98

DG

Posted 11:28 a.m., July 16, 2002 (#9) - John Murphy
  92 - 17, 13, 11 - 56 - Jack Boyle - 7.9 sea. - 53 batting - 39 fielding.
C 48%, 1B 42%, 3B 5%, SS 4%, RF 1%, 2B 1%, LF 1%.
notes: 1886-98. 5-year peak from age 24-28. Played in AA 1886-1889,1891; NL 1892-1898; PL 1890.

Win Shares per 162 games played: 11.78

Posted 6:31 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#10) - John Murphy
  - 39, 38, 29 - 132 - Cal McVey - 8.5 sea. - 97 batting - 12 fielding.
C 38%, 1B 27%, 3B 15%, RF 13%, CF 5%, 2B 1%, LF 1%, SS 1%.
notes: 1871-1879. He can't be properly evaluated because of lack of NA prorations (not to mention his pre-NA career) Played in NA for it's entire existence; NL 1876-1879.

Win Shares per 162 games played: 33.01

Scruff missed this one on the spreadsheet. Since he's doing a hundred different things for the HoM, I think Cal won't be too tough on him. :-)

One of the "Big Four", I think he definitely goes in. He accumulated 132 prorated WS after the age of 35. At this time, I don't know who was better: White, McVey or Ewing.

Posted 6:37 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#11) - John Murphy
  Er, I screwed up on McVey. He was only 28 when he retired from the majors. I still think he has a good case on peak, but he still sits behind White and Ewing.

Posted 8:50 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#12) - Marc
  White and McVey are an interesting pair. McVey was clearly better (a little better, but clearly) than White in the NA years even though McVey was just 20 in 1871 while White was 24. By 1879 White (already 31) had a better year and McVey (just 28) called it quits. Whether he was slipping (the numbers don't show much of a decline) or just decided to live a normal life, I don't know. But then White went on to another productive decade of play, thereby (I think) overtaking Cal. Not unlike Fisk and Munson IMO.

As a clarifiction it was White not McVey who got the 132 WS after 35.

Posted 4:47 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#13) - scruff (e-mail)
  Sorry Cal :-)

Posted 4:12 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#14) - DanG (e-mail)
  I turned up one more very-long-career catcher who also does well in TPR:

Pop Snyder 1873-91

He's probably worth a closer look.

DG

Posted 2:23 a.m., July 25, 2002 (#15) - John Murphy
  I'll have it done in a few days, Dan (same with those extra rightfielders). Snyder was a damn good player and deserves to be on the list.

Posted 2:00 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#16) - John Murphy
  155 - 27, 23, 18 - 90 - Pop Snyder - 11.2 sea. - 62 batting - 93 fielding.
C 94%, 1B 3%, CF 1%, RF 1%.
notes: 1873-1891 (except 1880). 5-year peak from age 24-29. Played in NA 1873-1875: NL 1876-1881,1889; AA 1882-1888, 1891; PL 1890.

Win Shares per 162 games played: 15.32

Posted 3:12 a.m., July 27, 2002 (#17) - John Murphy
  CORRECTION

Pop Snyder
Win Shares per 162 games played: 17.89

Posted 2:42 a.m., August 7, 2002 (#18) - good_ol_gil
  Ed Whiting is still alive!?

Posted 1:18 p.m., August 7, 2002 (#19) - Brian Hodes
  Not possible -- he would be about 142 years old (and we would know about it). To live that long he would have to be from Georgia (near Russia not Florida) or mentioned in the "begats" section of Genesis.

Posted 8:21 p.m., September 12, 2002 (#20) - TomH (e-mail)
  Ewing, thought of for many years as the best 19th cent player, is the class of catchers that I see. White's stats were in a weaker league. Ewing's WS per game are superb, and he was a utility man par excellants as they say. Bennett with his fine OWP of .570ish in the NL would be 2nd, followed by White and then Clements, another good hitting backstop with a streak of fine years in the early 1890s.
TomH

Posted 4:13 p.m., September 25, 2002 (#21) - John Murphy
  I think Buck Ewing was a better player than White (if we don't include the NA numbers). With the NA numbers, it's damn close. At this time, I can't say who the winner is (looking forward to your numbers, Joe). It's probably a photo finish.

That they are both definite HoMers is one big duh!

Posted 12:11 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#22) - John Murphy
  Update on the top five catchers (in order):
Buck Ewing
Deacon White (could be number one when we factor in the NA)
Charlie Bennett
Jack Clements
John Clapp
Honorable Mention: Fred Carroll (numbers are better than Clapp's post NA work)

Posted 10:33 a.m., October 18, 2002 (#23) - DanG
  I was taking a look at the leaders in games caught for the 19th century, and thought others might be interested.

I'm fairly sure that Deacon White was the first man to catch 400 games, reaching that mark in 1879. He caught very little after that year.

Pop Snyder was right behind White and soon passed him. Snyder reached 800 games caught in 1888 and ended his career in 1891 as the all-time leader with 877.

The year after Snyder retired, Charlie Bennett passed him up. Bennett retired after 1893 with 954 games caught.

The top 16 in games at catcher, through 1892, with year retired:
894 C. Bennett '93
877 P. Snyder '91
743 S. Flint '89
668 D. Bushong '90
646 J. Clements '00
635 B. Ewing '97
566 K. Kelly '93
542 J. Milligan '93
538 B. Holbert '88
534 W. Robinson '02
516 C. Zimmer '03
486 C. Mack '96
472 J. Clapp '83
461 D. Miller '96
459 B. Gilligan '88
458 D. White '90

By 1900, four catchers had reached the 1000 mark.
The top 18 in games at catcher, through 1900, with year retired:
1171 D. McGuire '08
1162 W. Robinson '02
1095 C. Zimmer '03
1073 J. Clements '00
954 C. Bennett '93
877 P. Snyder '91
815 D. Farrell '05
743 S. Flint '89
739 M. Kittridge '06
668 D. Bushong '90
636 B. Ewing '97
636 D. Miller '96
630 P. Schriver '01
609 C. Mack '96
605 J. O'Connor '07
595 H. Peitz '06
585 J. Milligan '93
583 K. Kelly '93

DG

Posted 1:01 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#24) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  Here's my list:

Buck Ewing
Deacon White
Charlie Bennett
John Clapp
Fred Carroll
Jack Clements
Pop Snyder
Jack O'Brien
Silver Flint
Doggie Miller

Ewing will likely be the only 1 in this group that makes my 1906 ballot. I think White and maybe Bennett will eventually get in(or at least crack into my ballot), but I don't think the rest are HoM material.

Posted 1:02 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#25) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  Here's my list:

Buck Ewing
Deacon White
Charlie Bennett
John Clapp
Fred Carroll
Jack Clements
Pop Snyder
Jack O'Brien
Silver Flint
Doggie Miller

Ewing will likely be the only 1 in this group that makes my 1906 ballot. I think White and maybe Bennett will eventually get in(or at least crack into my ballot), but I don't think the rest are HoM material.

Posted 1:03 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#26) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  Here's my list:

Buck Ewing
Deacon White
Charlie Bennett
John Clapp
Fred Carroll
Jack Clements
Pop Snyder
Jack O'Brien
Silver Flint
Doggie Miller

Ewing will likely be the only 1 in this group that makes my 1906 ballot. I think White and maybe Bennett will eventually get in(or at least crack into my ballot), but I don't think the rest are HoM material.

Posted 1:03 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#27) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  Here's my list:

Buck Ewing
Deacon White
Charlie Bennett
John Clapp
Fred Carroll
Jack Clements
Pop Snyder
Jack O'Brien
Silver Flint
Doggie Miller

Ewing will likely be the only 1 in this group that makes my 1906 ballot. I think White and maybe Bennett will eventually get in(or at least crack into my ballot), but I don't think the rest are HoM material.

Posted 1:06 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#28) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  Here's my list:

Buck Ewing
Deacon White
Charlie Bennett
John Clapp
Fred Carroll
Jack Clements
Pop Snyder
Jack O'Brien
Silver Flint
Doggie Miller

Ewing will likely be the only 1 in this group that makes my 1906 ballot. I think White and maybe Bennett will eventually get in(or at least crack into my ballot), but I don't think the rest are HoM material.

Posted 1:10 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#29) - Carl Goetz
  Sorry,
I had some computer problems. Can an administator or somebody erase a few of those extra posts?


Wednesday, July 10 - Full Blog Archive


Shortstops

Here are the SS's. Pebbly Jack Glasscock is by far the best candidate here. George Wright may have a case on peak value once we have some NA data. Ed McKean has a case he may get in before the next generation's big guns start hitting the ballot.


--posted by Joe Dimino at 1:52 PM EDT / Link / Discussion (60 Comments)

Posted 2:08 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#1) - Brian Kaplan
  George Wright's best years were probably before the formation of the NA. He was the highest paid player on the first all-professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Posted 2:17 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#2) - MattB (homepage)
  You might be mixing George up with his brother Harry. Both are in the Hall of Fame, but Harry was 36 in 1871, George was only 24. George was a young stud for Cincinnati, but it would be a stretch to say that he "peaked" at 22. Harry, on the other hand, was clearly past his prime by the time the NA started, but was still a great player.

Posted 3:03 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#3) - John Murphy
  George Wright and Jack Glasscock are the definites. I'm not to keen on Kean (sorry). George Davis and Bill Dahlen don't make the ballot for a while.

Scruff:
Did you get the stats on Davy Force that I sent you last month? He should definitely be on the list. His NA numbers will be fun to look at.

Posted 12:16 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#4) - scruff (e-mail)
  SS fielding letter grades:

Tom Burns A (as a 3B)
Jack Glasscock A-
Davy Force B+
Frank Fennelly B
Bill Gleason D+
Ed McKean F

Posted 3:13 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#5) - John Murphy
  Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Tom Burns: 19.94
Frank Fennelly: 25.35
Davy Force: 10.55
Jack Glasscock: 24.34
Bill Gleason: 22.13
Ed McKean: 21.65
Mike Moynahan: 30.68
John Peters: 17.49
Phil Tomney: 16.58
Sam Wise: 21.65
George Wright: 25.11

Posted 1:48 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#6) - ed
  George Wright and Jack Glasscock are probably my only candidates for votes at shortstop. No need to reach for somebody like McKean who is basically an outfielder playing SS. If they get in, I'll probably won't vote for any other SS until George Davis and Bill Dahlen get on the ballot. BTW where is good ol' Monte Ward? In the pitchers category?

Posted 2:41 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#7) - MattB
  I don't know if I agree with the fact that McKean is definitely "out."

It seems to me that after Wright and Glasscock are in, you have to decide whether McKean, as the third best (and best available)shortstop is better than, say the third best third baseman or the fourth best first baseman, or whoever are the other best players not in.

How do you compare those? I'd look at positional dominance. Now, I still have some doubts about the precision of Win Shares, but putting those aside, if McKean is the best shortstop available, and had 265 WS, I'd look at the fourth best on the list, Tommy Burns, who had only 224, and played more games at third base. That makes McKean 41 WS better (or 18% better).

I'd then look at the best available at other positions. If Anson, Brouthers, and Connor are already in at first, I'd see that the best candidates are Harry Stovey (381 WS) and Joe Start (244 WS + NA stats + pre-NA ball = say, 370 WS). If I decide that Stovey is only a little bit better, I don't know that I'd necessarily take the fourth best first baseman (who is only marginally better than the fifth best) over the third best shortstop (who is significantly better than the fourth best).

IOW, Stovey is more easily replaceable than McKean, even though McKean's raw numbers aren't as good.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#8) - John Murphy
  Monte Ward is on the pitchers list, ed.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#9) - scruff (e-mail)
  Matt, I don't know that because there happened to be 5 very good 1B and only 2 very good SS that that means McKean is harder to replace.

The top end a position has very little to do with the replacement level. Once you are down at that level there are a lot more players. Robert Dudek has done some work that shows the replacement level for AL SS's has not gone up significantly in this era, despite the presence of ARod, Nomah, Jeter, Tejada, etc..

Posted 3:26 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#10) - MattB
  I guess I was thinking of it more along the lines of "Who would I pay more for in a rotisserie league if everyone were available at the draft." If McKean is the first name thrown out, I know that there are only two players better than him, and the fourth is significantly worse. If Stovey's is, maybe I don't bid as high, because I know there are four other guys who'll give me comparable numbers.

Of course, I never did very well in rotisserie leagues when I used to play in them.

Posted 4:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#11) - Rob Wood
  I love this issue, so let me chime in too. I strongly believe that you should NOT use the "ranking relative to your position" argument to elevate weaker players (in some absolute sense) just because they are higher ranked than others at different positions. Ed McKean is the example used above, but this issue will come up in various guises throughout our extended voting.

In other words, I don't think a rotisserie-like draft is the proper mental model for our voting. We are not filling spots on a hypothetical team here. If two first basemen are the best two players of this era, say, then they should be the first two Homers.

I am generally unwilling to give any points for "rarity" except as it reflects special difficulties of playing the position. I know this may be hair-splitting but I think it is important to be clear on this issue. Think ahead about catchers. There I am willing to extend a little rarity credit since catchers generally are unable to play as many games or perform at their best throughout the season due to the hazards of the position. But this is probably the only instance I give something that may look like a rarity credit. In reality, this is a positional adjustment, and does not reflect voting by relative rankings.

Posted 1:07 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#12) - DanG (e-mail)
  Just to make sure we aren't overlooking any good candidates, here are a few more shortstops I found who had careers of a decent length:

Shorty Fuller 1888-96
Arthur Irwin 1880-91
Jack Rowe 1879-90
Germany Smith 1884-98

Smith amassed a career with 1,710 games played.

DG

Posted 1:21 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#13) - John Murphy
  Dan:
I'll work on them within the next few days. I'd be shocked if any of them are near HoM status, but you never know.

Posted 1:32 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#14) - John Murphy
  Scruff:
Do you have the Davy Force numbers that I sent you last month? Let me know if you need them.

Posted 2:33 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#15) - John Murphy
  Dan:
Jack Rowe should be on the catcher list.

Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Tom Burns: 19.94
Frank Fennelly: 25.35
Davy Force: 10.55
Shorty Fuller: 14.45
Jack Glasscock: 24.34
Bill Gleason: 22.13
Arthur Irwin: 17.16
Ed McKean: 21.65
Mike Moynahan: 30.68
John Peters: 17.49
Germany Smith: 16.57
Phil Tomney: 16.58
Sam Wise: 21.65
George Wright: 25.11

Posted 12:21 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#16) - MattB
  Rob,

You provided a different outlook for valuing players, and said that you did not subscribe to the "rotisserie" theory, but you did not offer any explanation as to what was wrong with it, or why your "absolute" scale is better.

The fifth best first baseman may be more "above replacement level" than the third best shortstop, but that doesn't mean that the first baseman will necessarily be harder to replace.

When the Phillies lose Scott Rolen, they will lose one of the best third basemen in the league (even if he is having an off year). He will be hard to replace with the limited number of third basemen available at any one time. If the Phillies lose one of their hot outfielder to a career-ending injury (Abreu, Burrell), the immediate absolute impact will be more, but in any given year lots of hard hitting outfielder flood the market. Abreu and Burrell are just more replaceable than Rolen.

The Orioles have had a revolving door at third base ever since Brooks Robinson retired. Same with the Cubs after Ron Santo. You never hear about how a team spent decades trying to find a suitable replacement for that first baseman or right fielder who retired.

Posted 1:11 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#17) - Rob Wood
  Okay, now I see what your point is. It's kind of a positional replacement argument. When people have looked into that issue in the past, it is very difficult to find evidence that the replacement level varies much across defensive positions. Or maybe I should say the "replacement gap" not the replacement level.

Tom Ruane did a comprehensive study on this issue a few years ago and concluded that there is no such effect. Tom used modern data so I guess it is possible that there was such an effect 100 or so years ago, but I am skeptical.

To summarize my position, I think that all issues related to value relative to replacement (by position if you want) should be wrapped up into the player's "value". Then it is best to vote for players with the highest values, regardless of their position.

Posted 10:22 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#18) - scruff (e-mail)
  Jack Rowe has been added above. His defensive letter grade is an F as a SS.

Posted 10:56 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#19) - ed
  Matt B wrote:

[ I don't know if I agree with the fact that McKean is definitely "out."

It seems to me that after Wright and Glasscock are in, you have to decide whether McKean, as the third best (and best available)shortstop is better than, say the third best third baseman or the fourth best first baseman, or whoever are the other best players not in. ]

The way I see it is that in a couple of years a bunch of better SS will be available for voting such as Dahlen, Davis, Jennings, Wallace, etc. Just because McKean happened to be the 3rd best SS who retired before 1900 doesn't make him a candidate I would vote for.

Posted 2:13 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#20) - John Murphy
  Here is the Win Shares per 162 games for the Jack Rowe: 22.35

Posted 1:21 a.m., July 14, 2002 (#21) - John Murphy
  97-21, 15, 11-62-Davy Force-13.8 sea.-28 batting-69 fielding
SS 67%, 3B 20%, 2B 13%.
notes: 1871-1877;1879-1886. Played 5.0 season in NA, remainder of career in NL. Best years were in the NA, numbers above do not reflect this, so he cannot be accurately evaluated by WS at this point.

Win Shares per 162 games played (NA not included): 10.55

Posted 8:36 p.m., July 14, 2002 (#22) - John Murphy
  I want to put in a good word for Dickey Pierce, who revolutionized the position of shortstop in the 1860s. By the time he made it to the majors, he was 35 (so his statistics don't stand out). I have no idea where to put him on my ballot, though.

Posted 9:36 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#23) - Gary Ashwill
  Just a brief return to George Wright. I think he did, in fact, peak before the NA started. He was already the biggest star on the 1867 Washington Nationals and the 1868 Morrisania Unions (unofficial national champions), and he was by far the dominant player on the Red Stockings. According to Marshall Wright, in 1869 he hit .629, and led the team with 339 runs, 304 hits, and 614 total bases--the next highest figures on the team being, respectively, 293, 228, and 422. I've seen somewhere that he hit about a home run a game (probably from the Chadwick scrapbooks). These seem like outlandish totals, but you have to consider the much higher offensive levels and weaker competition. The important thing is that he was easily the best player on the best team.

Wright suffered serious injuries in 1870 and 1871, and was never quite the same player afterward.

Posted 11:11 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#24) - jimd
  There were no teams playing at the level of the Cincinnati Reds in 1869, though there were a couple that may have been close. The list that I have shows them winning 64 games on their barnstorming tour with an aggregate score of 2708 RF and 626 RA, avg score of 42-10. Pythagoras predicts they should have gone 61-3, so they exceeded that slightly by going undefeated. They won all three of the close games; a 13-13 tie/forfeit in Troy, NY, awarded to them by the umpire when the opposition withdrew in protest of a ruling by said umpire in the fifth inning, a 15-14 victory over Spalding and Barnes in Rockford, Ill., and a 4-2 pitcher's duel in New York (not sure who was on the Mutuals). 17-12 was the next closest game, over the Athletics in Philadelphia. Remember that all of these games are on the road, too.

Posted 3:03 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#25) - jimd
  That should have said "Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869", making clear that I was referring to the team that George Wright played for when he hit .629. (I think that most of you knew what I was talking about, but just making sure.)

Posted 4:56 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#26) - Marc
  360 - 37, 33, 31 - 143 - Jack Glasscock

Being new to this discussion, can somebody tell me what the above numbers are? They look like career WS, Top 3 and Top 5 season WS, but do not match James' numbers. But the WS/162 do match James. What's the deal? Thanks.

Posted 5:20 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#27) - Rob Wood
  Marc, these numbers are the Win Shares figures you cite, but scaled up to a 162-game schedule. This is done since 19th century seasons were of varying lengths.

Posted 3:29 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#28) - Marc
  Thanks, Rob, and thanks to whomever (or to all of you) for this adjustment. I love WS, but I think the timeline adjustment is unfair, plus the fact that 19th century players simply cannot earn very many WS with the short schedule. I always said that a pennant is a pennant is a pennant; a world championship is a world championship. If they were won in 1885 or 1985, they are still great achievements not to be devalued. This adjustment is a very nice enhancement of WS. Thanks again.

Posted 8:59 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#29) - John Murphy
  Update on the top five shortstops (in order):
Jack Glasscock
George Wright (these two, IMO, are very close. Wright might be #1)
Monte Ward (more significant at short than as a pitcher)
Ed McKean
Jack Rowe
Honorable Mention: Dickey Pearce probably belongs somewhere on this list, but I don't know where.

Posted 6:44 p.m., September 30, 2002 (#30) - TomH (e-mail)
  Kudos to John M for boldly proclaiming his rankngs to date for many positions. Hey, we all need a target to aim our guns at, right? :)

While confessing to not know exactly where to place the players like Start and Wright whose peak values may be beyond our ability to see into the dark deep past, I do think we ought to be able to have a reasonable timeline perspective. John is still debating whether Wright is his #1 SS over Glasscock, and he is also in quandry about Ewing vs. White at catcher. Both fair arguments. But as a whole, if a ballot has on it mostly players at the top who peaked pre-1880 (Anson-not sure where his true peak really is, but likely somewhere between 1873 and 1885- at 1B, Wright at SS, White at C, Sutton at 3B, O'Rourke in LF, Hines in RF also a late 70s peak guy), that says the value system used is IMHO tilted a bit much to not accounting for league quality issues. I know we'll miss many 1890s peak guys on the first ballot or 2, but I would expect the 80s to be at least as well (if not better!) represented as the 70s, with some strong showings by 1890s players. I have Glasscock over Wright by a good margin - easily a longer career, even if Wright began in 1867; as best I know, probably better defense -- win shares per game, considering his "average" went down late in his career, and some accouting for league differences, I think Pebbbly Jack is ahead clearly here too. If I had a SS who led his league in hits 2 years running and stuck aronud for a full career, I'd say he was...hmm, Alan Trammell? Wright might be Robin Yount, if he (Yount) were unable to come back from his shoulder injury. If I had to vote today, Glasscock might be #6 on my ballot, with Wright a borderline #13-15 as the 2nd best SS.

Posted 8:47 p.m., September 30, 2002 (#31) - Marc
  George Wright a was premiere player certainly from 1869 to 1879, though his last two years could be characterized as a decline phase. As noted above, he may have been a premiere player (well, WAS a premiere player, just that data is not available) as early as 1867. If so, he had a 13 year run, excluding an unsuccessful comeback in 1882. He played just less than 600 games in the NA and NL over 9 of those years, which therefore represent about two-thirds of his productive years. I haven't seen WS for his NA years, but I do have TPR--his total was 13.0 TPR. Had he played a longer schedule he could easily have played 1500 games (2.5X) beginning in 1871 plus whatever from the four years previous. It is not difficult to imagine an adjTPR in the 40s or even higher. Glasscock's is 36.

This is highly speculative, yes, but not unfair. Note that his fielding avg 1871-79 was .911. Glasscock's for his later career was .910. Wright's OPS+ in the NA was 156, then in the NL it was 134, 95, 58, 122. One bad year but a nice comeback. Glasscock's was 112. Jack's best TPR year was 5.6 in 134 games (1889), Wright's was 2.4 in 70, in the same ballpark.

Nothing against Pebbly Jack. But I wonder if George Wright should be penalized or rewarded for having been a pioneer, for having played when the baseball landscape was poorly organized, and consisted of fewer games. Yes it was easier to dominate...if you happened to be George Wright.

The final question is how much stock you put in peak value as opposed to career value, whether you like to think of the "season" or the "pennant" as a denominator in any of our calculations. Taken on those terms, Wright was a giant, Glasscock a very large man.

Posted 8:55 p.m., September 30, 2002 (#32) - Marc
  Sorry I was unfair to Glasscock. The 36 was an unadjusted TPR. I am guessing his adjustment would be in the 1.5 range.

Posted 3:34 a.m., October 2, 2002 (#33) - John Murphy
  Tom H.:
The one thing I would point out with my picks are that the players from the 1870s had very long careers for the most part. I'm combining quality of play with durability.

I am taking into account the league quality for each season. I agree that the quality of the NA was inferior when comapring it to the next couple of decades worth of baseball. I'm not sure that means that the top players during that period were inferior. I'm more inclined to believe that there were more great players in the later decades, though. I don't think Cap Anson could have played until he was 45 if the competiton from the seventies had been that inferior.

I have George Wright as the best shortstop for 1876 and 1879, plus being the best second baseman in 1877. I also have Wright as the best shortstop for 1872,1873,1874 and probably 1875 (he was also the best in 1869 for the Red Stockings). He was easily more dominating than Glasscock (my pick for best shortstop in 1882, 1886 and 1889).

BTW, I picked King Kelly for right fielder (I had Hines in center).

Posted 9:06 p.m., October 2, 2002 (#34) - TomH
  Do we know enough of Wright's NA (and pre-NA!) career to give a guess at his total adjusted WS?

Posted 2:10 a.m., October 3, 2002 (#35) - John Murphy
  I didn't use any WS for Wright's pre-NL years (though Joe/Scruff is working on it for the NA). I used the available statistics for him to get a handle where he placed at shortstop during those years. From 1872-74, he dominated OPS+. Unless his fielding was atrocious during that time (there is no reason to think that), he would have to be the best for those years. I'm not as sure about 1875, so that's why I hedged somewhat in my prior post.

Obviously, the statistics for pre-NA are practically worthless. When there isn't any available stats, I think (IMO)we should go by the consensus opinion for that time. Wright was acknowledged as the king at short in 1869, so that is good enough for me.

Posted 12:25 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#36) - TomH
  OK....do we have OPS+ numbers for those NA players (Wright, Barnes, Anson, Start, O'Rourke) who might be HoMers? This would be a good place to start.

Gotta bigger question. Once we begin debating players between positions (is White better than O'Rourke?), should we open a new thread?

Posted 12:49 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#37) - John Murphy
  Try baseball reference.com for the NA numbers, Tom.

Posted 1:01 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#38) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  Where are we in terms of timetable here? I think it might focus our energies on the project and inspire many (including me) to make some tough ordering decisions, if we get a sense of when we will begin to vote? Any word from above?

Posted 1:12 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#39) - God
  Any word from above?

Sorry Andrew, but I'm too busy watching the Angel playoff games.

Go Halos!

Posted 1:20 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#40) - Marc
  I got NA OPS+ numbers out of TB.

Anson 5 seasons OPS+ 146 though he only exceeded 146 in 1872 when his OPS+ was 200 in 46 G and 217 AB
Barnes 5 years, 180 including league leading 206 (in 1872) and 191 numbers
Wright's are shown in a previous post above
White 5 seasons, 143 with a high of 178

The league leaders were Meyerle 243, Barnes (as noted) 206 and 191, Meyerle 182 and Pike 210

Meyerle's total in 5 seasons was 166
Pike's in 5 seasons was 161
Spalding's offensive contribution in 5 seasons was 121, not as high as I would have thought, his top 139 in 1872
Cal McVey's was 161 with a high of 193 in 5 NA seasons

So in order they were Barnes, Meyerle, McVey and Pike, Wright, Anson, White, Spalding. I'm sure I missed guys who rate ahead of Spalding but I don't think I missed anybody with a 5 year OPS+ btter than White's 143, because I looked at everybody who finished in the top 5 in any year. Wouldn't it be easier if the guys at the top had gone on to long NL careers instead of the other way around.

Posted 1:32 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#41) - John Murphy
  Marc:
Unfortunately, Barnes, Pike and Meyerle were hobbled by injuries. McVey left for Western baseball while he was still a fine player.

Posted 6:34 p.m., October 15, 2002 (#42) - Marc
  I know that the following fellows are not eligible yet, but I was moved to look at near-contemporaries Herman Long (b. 1866), Hughie Jennings (1869), George Davis and Bill Dahlen (both 1870) by the following numbers.

Career WS--Davis 398, Dahlen 394, Long 265, Jennings 214
1936 Veteran's HOF voting--Long 16, Jennings 11, Dahlen 1, Davis 0

What gives? Well, again, the 1936 veteran's vote was based largely on vague, though not necessarily inaccurate, recollections of the players' peak value, not their career value. In most cases, that is the inescapable conclusion. In this case, peak value explains Jennings,' Davis' and Dahlen's ranking in the 1936 vote. What about Long?

Following are the peaks for the four players in the 1890s. Being on the old-timers ballot, they were being evaluated against 19th century competition, not 20th. Davis and Dahlen were underrated vs. Long and Jennings from the 1890s, and vs. Wagner from the 1900s.

Long 29-28-26 WS, 3.1-2.6-2.2 TPR with an early decline
Jennings 36-32-29, 6.9-6.1-5.7
Davis 31-25-22, 6.3-5.4-4.4
Dahlen 32-31-27, 5.6-5.1-4.7

All are rated A+ with the glove except Davis, B.

So how did Herman do it? Well, it didn't hurt that he played for the Boston Red Stockings of the 1890s, and his supporters must have been the same people who made HOFers out of Duffy and McCarthy later on. Of course, Jennings played for the legendary Baltimore Orioles who were even more successful and were so much honored in the HoF.

The NL champion Red Stockings of 1892 were an odd bunch, however, #2 in runs scored, #2 in runs given up, not bad, but second place Cleveland was +25 in run differential but finished 8.5 games out. Pitchers Nichols and Stivetts were the stars. Long, McCarthy and Duffy all got a little bit of gray ink but not much.

In 1893 they were again second in runs scored and given up, but their scoring differential was +9 over second place Pittsburgh, yet they won by a comfortable 5 games. League offense had jumped a lot (due to the new 60 foot distance to the pitcher's rubber), and Long and Duffy took advantage for some big numbers.

The 1897 team was a lot better, leading the league in both runs scored and fewest given up. Nichols was still the pitching star, and Duffy, J. Collins and Hamilton now drove the offense. Long by now was overshadowed by these teammates and by Jennings and Davis as a SS.

But for some reason Clark Griffith picked him to his all-time team over Honus Wagner (!). And along with his contemporary SSs, none of his old Red Stocking teammates did anywhere near as well in the 1936 vote--Nichols 3, J. Collins 8, Hamilton 2, Duffy 4, McCarthy just 1. Maybe it was because Long died young, of tuberculosis in 1909, aged just 43, but I doubt it. A tragic death seems less so some 27 years later.

In sum, I don't know how or why Herman Long ranked ahead of Jennings in 1936. It is easier to see why he ranked ahead of Dahlen and Davis in that vote, though it is also easy to see that that vote was wrong. He is and will be a viable HoM candidate but only after the other three are safely enshrined.

Posted 6:07 p.m., October 18, 2002 (#43) - Brian H
  I was playing around with my 25 or so choices for a top 15, asking alot of the questions that I suppose everyone else is asking--
"How many Pitchers and First Basemen are too many?"
"Can I omit third basemen altogether ?"
"How much credit can I give for NA careers?" etc.
During the course of this I realized that one of the players I think has to be included somewhere isn't fitting in quite right. That player is John Montgomery Ward. We haven't really discussed him much because when things are divided by position he has an exceptional peak as a Pitcher but no staying power (ie career numbers)and a strong career in peak value as an infielder (but again insufficient career numbers to battle it out with players like Glasscock). In Win Shares James combines Wards two remarkable careers and gives him 409 WS -- more than any of the players elgible this go round except Keefe (413 WS).
Moreover, Ward's WS are not simply the result of a long career like Pud Galvin. Rahter he had two mini careers each with superb peaks.
While it seems utterly impossible today, several players in the 19th century excelled at more than one position and played multiple positions during their careers -- e.g. Carruthers, Kelly, Ewing and Foutz.
Ward's case is strenghten by the intangibles -- ie. that which we cannot gleam from the statistics. He was the protagonist in creating the original players brotherhood (i.e. union) and the Players' League; he managed with success and continued to be involved in significant ways with the development of major league baseball long after he had left the playing field for his law practice.

Well, that's the end of my commercial for Ward -- he belongs in the HOM even if we cannot easily determine his position.

Posted 1:50 p.m., October 22, 2002 (#44) - scruff
  Brian H -- I agree Ward is a slam dunk on the first ballot among the top 15 the question is where? I'd say near the top, he should definitely make it into the HoM on one of the first few ballots, if he's not in the top 5.

I think Caruthers is getting shortchanged a little, because people are forgetting about his hitting. I'll post his WS batting record over on the pitcher thread sometime in the next few days.

FYI - we're really going to get this cranking once the World Series is over, we're almost there. I'm working on a rules document, that will be a draft that we'll open up for comments before finalizing it. Stay tuned . . .

Posted 7:20 p.m., October 22, 2002 (#45) - Marc
  Having over-analyzed the pitchers, I'm making progress on my ballot. I think the top 7 are (in chronological rather than rank order) Spalding, G. Wright, Anson, Ward, Radbourn, Clarkson, Ward. Then I've got a bunch of '90s guys who are not eligible yet, so haven't worked out the whole thing.

Re. Ward, he had half a career as a pitcher and half a career at shortstop (well, OK, middle infielder including 3 years at 2B), basically. Take half of Tim Keefe (high WS total of any pure 19th century pitcher at 413) and half of Jack Glasscock whom most seem to agree was the top pure 19th century shortstop at least w/o including NA numbers (261 WS), take half and half and add it together and you get 337 WS. Ward got 409. Not just top 15, Monte is top 7-8 at least.

Posted 3:28 p.m., October 23, 2002 (#46) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  While he is probably my biggest baseball hero, I'm still not sure what I think of Ward's on-the-field qualifications. I agree that for six years he was on a HoM path as a pitcher (although the first 4 years are better than the last 2). And I acknowledge that he put up a substantial number of Win Shares as a SS. However, my concern is with his bat. His OPS+ numbers are a lot worse than I expected (only 4 years over 100; career 93). These numbers pale in comparison not only to 20th century SS but also to Dahlen, Davis, Jennings, Long, and Glasscock. Glasscock, for example, was over 100 10 times; Dahlen and Davis somewhere around 15 (I lost my counting sheet). The way I see it, Ward's qualifications turn on just how good his defense really was at SS. If he was Kevin Brown for 6 years then Ozzie Smith for 10, he's a Top 5 selection. If he was Kevin Brown for 6 years, then Omar Vizquel for 10 years (not to mention Clarence Darrow for another 20), he's a fascinating historical figure who is somewhere on the fringes of the first ballot. I lean towards the later but would be thrilled to be convinced otherwise.

Posted 12:44 a.m., October 24, 2002 (#47) - Brian H
  Andrew, I thinking you are over looking Ward's basic offensive production. While I am as suspicious as anyone about stolen bases as a statistic in the 19th Century I think Runs are meaningful. Even though he had only part of a career as a position player Ward scored more often than Glasscock and not that much less than next batch of Shortstops (Davis, Dahlen and Long) Indeed, I would estimate (without actually doing the math) that Ward's runs/game (1408/1825) was better than all of the four discussed above. Also, he scored over 100 Runs in a season four times including 134 Runs in just 128 games in 1890. His 1890 season was in the Players League (his brainchild) which was the highest callibre league in terms of talent of the 19th Century.

The defensive evaluation of Ward is particularly difficult. Ward's non-piching games are divided as follows: SS - 826 games; 2B -- 491 games; OF -- 215 games; and 3B -- 46 games (he Pitched in 292 games). James gives Ward (as a SS) a rating of 6.74 Win Shares per 1000 Innings. Comparatively, he gives Glasscock 6.02; Long 6.40; Dahlen 6.82; Davis 5.86. When evaluated against non-contemporary Hall of Fame Shortstops, Ward's numbers are even more impressive: Ozzie Smith 6.42; Honus Wagner 6.89; Joe Tinker 7.28*; Cal Ripken 5.69; Dave Bancroft 6.82; Pee Wee Reese 6.04; Wallace 5.46; Cronnin 5.49; Marranville 6.42; Aparicio 5.47; and Appling 5.40.
I can't say that I fully understand or unequivocally agree with these valuations but we don't have much else to go by. In terms of Ward's defensive reputation I would have to go back to the two recent biographys.

* Tinker is 2nd Highest all time behind only Marty Marion at 7.32.

Posted 3:23 a.m., October 24, 2002 (#48) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  Brian--

The last thing I want to do is bash Ward (who, as I said before, is probably my all-time favorite baseball figure), but I remain very skeptical of his offensive prowess. Since his OBP is not particularly high (barely over league average for his career, rarely if ever in the top 10 in the league, under average more often than over), I think his high run totals are primarilly the result of the batters hitting around him than of his own skill (though his smarts and speed obviously have something to do with it). Even granting his defensive skill, I have him as somewhere around the tenth best SS to start his career in the pre-1910 era (behind Wagner, Davis, Dahlen, Jennings, Glasscock, Wright, Long, and probably Tinker and B. Wallace). Adding in his pitching and his intangibles (but not his off-the-field contributions) and I see him, as I suggested earlier, somehwere closer to 15th than to 5th on the first ballot.

Posted 11:43 p.m., October 24, 2002 (#49) - DanG
  I tend to side with Andrew in the discussion about Ward's worthiness. He's not a top 10 player on the first ballot. However, he is a worthy HoMer, eventually.

To get an idea of Ward's quality, I tried to find comparable modern players. BBref has Maury Wills on his comp list, and I think that's actually a damn good comp. Both had higher BA's than the league, but neither walked much so both had OBP's below league. Both were below league in SLG, Wills worse in his era than Ward. Both were outstanding baserunners, regularly among the league leaders in SB.

Ward's peak was slightly higher. Adjusting to 162-game schedule and counting only Ward's seasons after 1883, here are their best ten seasons in win shares:
Ward 33/33/29/24/23/22/21/19/18/17
Wills 32/28/27/22/20/20/19/19/17/16

Ward is consistently 2+ win shares better. This is better than I expected to find. Mostly, it's in the defense. Ward had 6.74 WS/1000 (A+) to Wills' 5.60 (B+).

Summing Ward's adjusted WS 1884-94 I get 249, about equal to Wills' adjusted career total of 255. So Ward was a better player than Wills, a guy who many people think should be in the HoF.

Now, considering Ward's pitching career. BBref gives us Addie Joss as a close comp. In reality, Joss had a much better pitching career, considering the vast changes in the pitcher's job from Ward's time to Joss'.

I decided to do a crude translation of Ward's stats into modern day pitching. Here's what I came up with:

Year...W L...IP
1878 17-10 209
1879 26-10 263
1880 21-13 267
1881 10-10 148
1882 10--7 125
1883 8--6 108
1884 2--2 20
===============
Total 94-58 1141
ERA+: 118

Actually, very similar to Ruth (94-46, 1221 IP, 122 ERA+).

I looked for pitchers since WW-II who had about those career numbers and who in their two or three best years was one of the top pitchers. A lot of the guys you might think of first, like Randy Jones or Jim Maloney had longer careers than this. Or guys like Mark Fidrych or Herb Score were too brief.

I finally settled on Ewell Blackwell as the best modern comp (82-78, 1321 ip, ERA+ 120). Like Ward, he had the big season (22-8, MVP runnerup in 1947), and two or three other years among the best in the game. The Whip's W-L record suffered from playing for weak teams.

Blackwell had 103 career win shares. Ward had 174 pitching wins shares plus about 30 more for his hitting in games he pitched. Dividing that 204 in half (the rule of thumb for pre-1893 pitchers) gives us 102 WS.

Adding together Ward's 249 WS from his SS/2B years and his 102 from his pitching years gives us 351 WS, a clear HoMer.

Hmmm. Maybe he's top ten after all.

Dan

Posted 4:04 p.m., October 25, 2002 (#50) - Rob Wood
  Since this seems to be the only active thread at the moment, I'll post here. I am in the middle of re-reading Spink's history of 19th century baseball. I don't want to be overly swayed by what he says, but ... Spink claims that Mike "King" Kelly was the best player of the 19th century (and one of the true innovators). I am not sure where Kelly rightly belongs. Do others think he is a sure-thing first ballot HOMer?

Posted 4:32 p.m., October 25, 2002 (#51) - John Murphy
  Spink claims that Mike "King" Kelly was the best player of the 19th century (and one of the true innovators). I am not sure where Kelly rightly belongs. Do others think he is a sure-thing first ballot HOMer?

Without a doubt, IMO. I have him as the best right fielder of that time (that's without even giving him credit for the years he caught).

Posted 6:19 p.m., October 25, 2002 (#52) - jimd
 
Posted 8:37 p.m., July 17, 2002 - jimd
An example of how the pitching/defense balance will affect the discussions within just the position players. I know that career totals aren't everything, but here is a top-10 position players based on the career Win Shares posted so far. (I know, the NA is not yet included in these numbers.)

567 1B - Anson
488 LF - O'Rourke
488 1B - Connor
475 1B - Brouthers
421 RF - Kelly
419 LF - Hines
381 1B - Stovey
377 2B - McPhee
370 CF - Gore
360 SS - Glasscock

Here is a modified list based on the crude expedient of doubling the Defensive Win Shares to compensate for halving the pitching shares.

630 1B - Anson
557 LF - O'Rourke
541 1B - Connor
509 1B - Brouthers
500 2B - McPhee
497 RF - Kelly
492 LF - Hines
488 SS - Glasscock
446 CF - Gore
427 1B - Stovey

(Sorry, I don't know how to reference a post in another thread.)

Using BJ-WS, Anson is top on the career value list, and behind him are the three long-term heavy hitters, O'Rourke, Connor, and Brouthers. However, when a crude method of adjusting the defensive value is employed, Brouthers falls back into a knot of players at more challenging positions. McPhee is probably somewhat overrated by this adjustment, because much of his career is in the 1890's when pitching more closely resembles the modern game. However, I have no trouble seeing Kelly, Hines, and Glasscock as just as valuable as Brouthers, compensating for their lesser batting prowess with excellent defense. (Ward was not part of this original study, and I haven't yet integrated him, or the pitchers into my lists.)

I would love to be able to do peak comparisons of these players using Double-Defense Win Shares, but I lack the season-by-season Win Share batting/fielding breakdowns to do so. You guys who did the original Adjusted Win Shares - are those numbers still lying around somewhere? I think Gore may have a peak value argument in his favor, counteracting a shorter career when competing with these guys.

Posted 8:10 p.m., October 25, 2002 (#53) - jimd
  Question: if Babe Ruth had always taken his regular turn in 1918, would you consider him a pitcher (30 starts) or an outfielder (59 games)?

This is pertinent to King Kelly because catchers generally did not catch anywhere close to full-time during the 80's and 90's. Shinguards and masks had yet to be adopted, and even padding was artfully hidden under the uniform lest he appear "unmanly". So most teams carried almost as many catchers as pitchers and had 2 or 3 guys splitting the duties, perhaps employed in a catching "rotation". Managers were very creative at working battery players who could hit into the everyday lineup when they weren't playing their primary position. Right field and first base seem to be favored spots, I suppose because they are less demanding defensively. However, players that could handle it would also play key infield positions when they weren't catching/pitching, like Ward, George Bradley, Deacon White, and on occasion, Ewing and Kelly.

Posted 10:39 p.m., October 25, 2002 (#54) - TomH
  Brian wrote:
James gives Ward (as a SS) a rating of 6.74 Win Shares per 1000 Innings. Comparatively, he gives Glasscock 6.02; Long 6.40; Dahlen 6.82; Davis 5.86. When evaluated against non-contemporary Hall of Fame Shortstops, Ward's numbers are even more impressive: Ozzie Smith 6.42; Honus Wagner 6.89; Marranville 6.42; Aparicio 5.47;
---
Very impressive, and I must consider Ward more than I have. However, just as Hank Aaron padded his lifetime stats but lowered his rate stats by playing past 40, so the fielding numbers of players like Ozzie and Wagner must suffer when looking at career WS/per-something wince they played shortstop past 40 years of age! If Ward's defense i his day at short, which he played between ages 25 and 31, stil compares well to other great defenders AT THE SAME AGES, then I will believe his status moves toward the top 10 19th cent players.

Posted 12:42 a.m., October 26, 2002 (#55) - Marc
  I am intrigued by the comparison of King Kelly and Buck Ewing, two players who are not often compared but each of whom was claimed by some observers to be the best player of the 19th century. On the 1936 old timers' HOF ballot, Ewing tied with Anson for 1st with 40 votes (but both fell short of the number needed for election) while Kelly finished back in 9th place with just 15 votes. Ewing was ultimately selected in 1939, Kelly with the otherwise unfortunate class of 1945.

Kelly was almost 2 years older. Each debuted at the age of 20 (Kelly in 1878, Ewing in 1880). Ewing played longer, 18 years (through 1897), Kelly 16 years (through 1893). Ewing's raw (counting) career totals thus benefited, though only slightly (he had two productive years after 60 feet 6 inches, Kelly had none), from the go-go '90s.

Kelly played 140 MORE games, however, and only 50 FEWER at catcher (583 to 636 for Ewing). Kelly played OF early, then a plurality of games at C in his 11th year and then his 13th through 16th years. Ewing of course played mostly C through his 11th year then rarely after that. Ewing's second position was at 1B (253 G) with 236 G, mostly RF, in the OF. He also played more than 200 games at 2-S-3. Kelly similarly played almost 200 games in the IF, including 1B, but his primary position was RF with 742 games. It is not INaccurate to say each was at times "a catcher who could play key infield positions on occasion," but it is somewhat misleading. Each did that at times in his career but both played most of their non-catcher games as a regular at that other position.

Ewing's career percentages are .307/.351/.467, Kelly's .314/.368/.438. Kelly leads on OPS+ 136 to 130. Each scored and drove in about 1.5 runs per game (Kelly about 200 more for his career in those 140 more games), and each walked more than struck out. Kelly stole 368 bases after 1886, Ewing 354. Kelly had about 100 more 2B, Ewing about 75 more 3B. Each led his team to two pennants, Kelly the White Stockings in '85 and '86, Ewing the Gints in '88 and '89.

They were fundamentally interchangeable players, though Kelly shows better on WS largely because of one uncharacteristically awesome season, his 35 WS effort in 1886, when he led the league with .388 BA, .483 OBA and 155 runs while playing 56 games in RF and 53 at C. Other than this, he never earned more than 24 and Ewing only once more than 23 (27 in 1888). Ewing shows better only on WS/162, this being due I think to a shorter decline, Kelly having hung around a bit too long perhaps.

Kelly nevertheless looks better on paper than Ewing but the old timers who voted in 1936 disagreed. Does anybody know anything about the 1936 voters that might shed some light? But either way, those who wish to rank Kelly in the top 5 will have to show that he was indeed better than Ewing (or vice versa).

Posted 2:18 a.m., October 26, 2002 (#56) - John Murphy
  Marc, you got me. I also rate Kelly as greater than Ewing. I think the possible reason might be most people think of Ewing as a catcher, while most think of Kelly as a multiple-position player. Ewing played most of his games as a catcher, while Kelly played most of his in right (though, as you pointed out, this is somewhat misleading). Does that make sense?

Posted 5:39 p.m., October 26, 2002 (#57) - Marc
  John, I'm sure you're right, they gave Ewing some slack for his relatively low career numbers because "he was a catcher." Meanwhile, they gave Kelly no such slack. At face value this seems like a double standard. But the real point of my post is that it might in fact be a fair application of a double standard because Kelly, in an almost unheard of move, became a catcher late in his career. Would he have compiled better career numbers had he not become a catcher, if he had stayed in the outfield? I still rate Kelly a little better, but I guess this analysis makes me think of Ewing a bit more favorably as well. I think there is a genuine dilemma as to where to rate both. I said that if you want to rate one of them in your top five you have to show that he was better than the other. This also makes me wonder if either of them are that good. And tying back to the previous subject, when it comes to multiple and varied skills, I don't think either of them can stack up to Ward.

Posted 9:26 a.m., October 27, 2002 (#58) - TomH
  Ewing vs Kelly - "Kelly played 140 MORE games, however, and only 50 FEWER at catcher (583 to 636 for Ewing)."
This is factually true, but somehwat distorted by the fact that Ewing played mostly catcher early in his career, when the number of games played per season was shorter, while Kelly played catcher later on with longer season lengths.
The 19th century historians seemed to be more impressed with Ewing defensively as a catcher, it seems to me, which is why he may have been in the HoF first. That and Kelly's late-career catching burst may have not allowed him to get the catcher rep that Ewing had.
They are both clearly top 5 guys to me. When you have the choice between catcher/OFers with OWPs in the mid 600 hundreds and 1B/OFers in the same range, I'll go with the fella who played significantly at backstop.
My top 5 now includes Ewing, Kelly, probably Brouthers and Anson and Clarkson, with Connor begging for equal time.

Posted 10:45 a.m., October 28, 2002 (#59) - John Murphy
  Would he have compiled better career numbers had he not become a catcher, if he had stayed in the outfield?

I never thought about this. This would make it much closer between Kelly and Ewing. I don't know how you can correct for it, unless you guesstimate.

This is factually true, but somehwat distorted by the fact that Ewing played mostly catcher early in his career, when the number of games played per season was shorter, while Kelly played catcher later on with longer season lengths.

Absolutely true. Ewing played half his games at that position, while Kelly only played 35%. Catching was clearly Ewing's most dominant position, while Kelly's was right.

Both of you have given me something to think about. I would have to agree with Tom that both of them (tentatively) would make my top five, but I'm still doing my analysis.

Posted 6:45 p.m., October 28, 2002 (#60) - TomH
  I went to the Baseball Prospectus web site today, and they have come up with something they call "player cards". It appears to be their answer to Win Shares, adjusted for time and place, so it's the ultimate Uberstat - wins above a nominal replacement with schedule and league quality and timeline all somehow accounted for. I can't vouch for the methods, but these guys come up with really good stuff normally, and their evaluations of defense are IMHO at least on par with James' NHBA. I hope that they will write a few articles on Baseballprospectus.com in the near future on their methods...likely a tease for us to buy their annual book.

I haven't found a way to see their all-time rankings, but I scanned a few players and the top few I found were 1 Ruth 2 Aaron 3 Mays 4 Cobb 5 Bonds 6 W Johnson 7 Wagner, which is reasonable if you rememeber this is purely career value (no "peak" pts) and no military service time was added.

It looks like a very promising tool!


Third Basemen

Here you go . . . Patsy Tebeau has been added at 1B, he's not a serious candidate though.

I considered Tom Burns a SS as opposed to a 3B, despite the 48%/44% numbers (48% 3B). Burns prime was as a SS, and a bad half-season late in his career that pushed him a little bit ahead on PT as a 3B. It's a judgement call, and it means nothing, since WS take position into account already.

Ezra Sutton is by far the best candidate at 3B IMHO.


--posted by Joe Dimino at 1:49 PM EDT / Link / Discussion (60 Comments)

Posted 3:10 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#1) - John Murphy
  Scruff:
Levi Meyerle should be on the list. His stats will be on the same spreadsheet with Davy Force that I sent you. Obviously, they won't stand out until the NA numbers are created.

Sutton and Williamson are definites. Ferguson's case is good; looking forward to his NA numbers.

Tom Burns from the shortstop section should be here, but it's close.

Posted 3:34 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#2) - Craig B
  Latham's fielding win shares in particular are eye-popping, well above everyone else. I cannot figure out why this is. His raw numbers are good but not spectacular... can anyone let me in on why his WS figures are so far above everyone else?

Williamson in particular has better fielding stats but fewer WS per game, particularly odd since he did also play 450 games at shortstop (though not well).

Jerry Denny has much much better fielding stats than Latham and also pales in comparison in WS. Hell, Denny was so good he didn't need a glove. :)

Is this a "false normalization" problem? Denny played on some horrible teams in Indianapolis but some great teams in Providence too. Latham's Browns are legendary, but he played on some bad teams in Cincinnati.

Posted 5:29 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#3) - Craig B
  Frankly, I didn't think Latham had a chance before, which is unfortuante as I have always thought his nickname was the best ever, even better than Bob Ferguson's.

Now I'm not so sure, I think he could at the very least sneak onto some ballots. 276 WS are a lot. But I can't shake the feeling he probably should be around 255 or so.

Posted 10:01 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#4) - scruff (e-mail)
  Defensive letter grades from Bill James. Remember we think of these guys the way we think of 2B today.

A
(N)ed Williamson

A-
Arlie Latham

B+
Ezra Sutton

C+
Jerry Denny
George Pinckney

C
Hick Carpenter

C-
Denny Lyons

F
Bill Joyce

Posted 3:30 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#5) - John Murphy
  Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the shortstops (NA not included as of yet):

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

Posted 9:24 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#6) - Tim
  BaseballLibrary says "Joyce sat out 1893 in a contract dispute."

Posted 10:42 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#7) - John Murphy
  CORRECTION:

Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the THIRD BASEMEN (NA not included as of yet):

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

Posted 12:16 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#8) - Rob Wood
  I posted a question on the "distribution list" thread concerning who is eligible for the first HOM ballot. In particular, I don't see Jimmy Collins listed among the third basemen, though his career ended before 1910. (Sorry for the duplicative post, but I wanted to cover all bases, so to speak.)

Posted 1:22 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#9) - John Murphy
  The answer to your question is in the "distribution list" thread, Rob.

Posted 3:14 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#10) - MattB
  Craig B wrote re: Latham,

"Now I'm not so sure, I think he could at the very least sneak onto some ballots. 276 WS are a lot. But I can't shake the feeling he probably should be around 255 or so."

What gives you that feeling? I guess I'm not sensitized enough to the stat to know who many WS 12+ years of league average play and good defense should equal within 20 either way. Is it the sub-100 OPS+?

Does anyone even know if "fresh" had the same slang meaning 100 years ago that it does today?

Posted 4:00 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#11) - Rob Wood
  I just started looking carefully at 19th century players last night. There are a few 3B that I expected to see who do not appear above. Billy Nash and Deacon White in particular. I am not sure that either guy deserves serious consideration for the HOM, but I thought it was odd that they are not on the ballot, so to speak.

Posted 4:41 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#12) - scruff (e-mail)
  Rob -- Deacon White absolutely deserves consideration. He might be the best player of his era. I've listed him as a catcher (not up on the board yet). I think he's got as strong of a case, if not a stronger one than Buck Ewing.

James severely underrated him in his book. He's really a catcher, who played 3B late in his career. Kind of like if Biggio had stayed at catcher for 7 or 8 years before moving, since 3B then was like 2B is today.

White was catcher for 7.4 seasons, played third for 6.0.

I'll give his numbers here (which don't include the NA):

332 - 42, 34, 32 - 145 - Deacon White - 18.1 sea. - 261 batting - 69 fielding - 1 pitching.
C 39%, 3B 32%, 1B 13%, RF 12%.
notes: 1871-1890. 5-year peak from age 28-32. Played 5.0 seasons in the NA, which are not counted above. 5-year peak includes 1880 when he missed more than 1/2 of the season. When 1875 become part of that peak, he'll probably be around 170 or 180 for his 5-year peak.

He was a hell of a player. He, Ezra Sutton and Joe Start are my three favorite players from this era.

Billy Nash may not have made an All-Star team. I can run his numbers later for you.

Posted 4:43 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#13) - John Murphy
  Deacon White was more dominating as a catcher (and DEFINITELY deseves consideration for the HoM). Billy Nash retired after 1900, so he's not eligible yet.

Posted 4:49 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#14) - John Murphy
  Actually, Nash retired before 1900. Scruff should have the info I sent to him on Nash from last month.

Posted 4:53 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#15) - scruff (e-mail)
  Deacon White put up 332 adjWS after the age of 28, which has to be one of the highest totals ever. The fact that he played 18 seasons says a lot about his ability as well.

The WS numbers confirm earlier numbers I had produced based on offensive W-L, he jumped out at me about a year ago when I first started this stuff. He was just an awesome player. If his true peak was younger than 27-31 (which is likely, since that's true for most players), he's going to be around 450 WS when we are through with him, considering he was pretty good in the NA as well.

Posted 5:07 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#16) - scruff
  Billy Nash has been added above. He gets an "A" rating defensively from James. He's got a reasonable case.

If I had to rank them right now, I'd go:

Ezra Sutton
Billy Nash
Ned Williamson
Arlie Latham

They are the only ones I'd consider at this point. I still need to see what Bob Ferguson's NA numbers deflate to. I pick Nash and Williamson ahead of Latham because they have similar numbers, but Latham put his up in the AA during his best years, which was the weaker league. Nash and Williamson are very close, but Nash played a little bit later when the league was tougher, that outweighed Williamson's higher peak for me. I can see either one getting the nod for the 2 hole, but I think Sutton is clearly 1 and Latham is clearly below the other two.

I'm open to persuasion if someone thinks I'm off base here. Sutton is the only one that has a shot at being on my first 10-man ballot, and he'll probably be near the bottom if he is there, but he should get in eventually.

Probably by 1908 or 1909. He died in 1907, so maybe the 1908 sympathy vote will get him in. Too bad that if he doesn't get in the first two years he'll never know was a HoMer . . .

Posted 12:58 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#17) - DanG (e-mail)
  Just to make sure we're not overlooking anybody, I noticed a few other thirdbasemen who had careers of a good length.

Bill Kuehne 1883-92
Joe Mulvey 1883-95
Billy Shindle 1886-98

Shindle, at least, deserves to have his numbers put up.

DG

Posted 1:22 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#18) - John Murphy
  I made up the data for Shindle last week for Scruff. He should be able to put it up within the next few days. I'll make up the prorated stats for Kuehne and Mulvey for Scruff also.

Scruff:
Did you find the Meyerle stats I sent you? If you didn't, I'll send them over to you if you want me too.

Posted 11:40 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#19) - John Murphy
  Scruff:
I uploaded a new file for you.

Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the third basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Hick Carpenter: 15.22
Jerry Denny: 18.33
Bob Ferguson: 18.45
Bill Joyce: 27.78
Bill Kuehne: 15.05
Arlie Latham: 22.10
Denny Lyons: 27.46
Levi Meyerle: 21.15
Joe Mulvey: 15.92
Billy Nash: 23.21
George Pinckney: 21.87
Ezra Sutton: 24.98
Ed Williamson: 23.34

I didn't realize how good Nash was. Damn close between Williamson and Nash.

Posted 4:57 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#20) - Rick A.
  Scruff,

Not to sound ignorant or anything, but what do you mean when you say that 3B then was like 2B is today and vice versa? In what way?

Posted 7:12 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#21) - Craig B
  MattB,

My suspicion re Latham is the defense. His defensive stats just aren't that great; but his defensive WS are really high. However, that's the nature of the WS system; it encourages us to re-evaluate some of our preceptions about defense.

I haven't looked at it closely enough yet.

I got the 255 figure from taking off about 2 WS/year defesively, which would put him at about the same defensive value as others with similar defensive statistics.

Re the 19th-century meaning of fresh : it meant "bold" or "impudent", similar to one of the modern meanings.

Posted 7:15 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#22) - Craig B
  MattB,

My suspicion re Latham is the defense. His defensive stats just aren't that great; but his defensive WS are really high. However, that's the nature of the WS system; it encourages us to re-evaluate some of our preceptions about defense.

I haven't looked at it closely enough yet.

I got the 255 figure from taking off about 2 WS/year defesively, which would put him at about the same defensive value as others with similar defensive statistics.

Posted 7:58 p.m., July 12, 2002 (#23) - Craig B
  Perhaps if I had kept posting, I might have chopped off a little at a time until there was nothing left.

Posted 12:16 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#24) - scruff (e-mail)
  Rick -- you don't sound ignorant . . .

Think back to little league. The better infielders were your SS and 3B, not SS and 2B. This is pretty obvious, because the throw from third was much longer than from 2B, and the ball comes at you a lot quicker, you are closer to the hitter. Since 2B don't have to turn the DP, it was actually a very easy position (I know, it's where I was put to minimize my terrible arm). Just field grounders and make the short throw.

Before 1920, the DP was not that big of a factor, teams just didn't turn that many. There were less people on 1B, and when they were there, there was often a bunt, a hit and run or a steal, further reducing the need for a 2B that could turn two.

But 3B had to make that long throw, and most of the batters were fast. They had to field more bunts than today, because everyone bunted all the time. So 3B was were the better glove men went, not 2B.

Look at the batting stats of the typical 2B and typical 3B from 1871-1930 (it took about 10 years after the deadball era ended for managers to pick up on this and for the talent to start cycling through). The 2B were much better hitters, similar to the difference between 3B and 2B today, only reversed. What I've seen of Robert Dudek's replacement studies hold this up as well (replacement 2B hit better than replacement 3B before 1920).

That's one reason why Rogers Hornsby's numbers aren't quite as impressive (though they are very impressive, don't get me wrong). He was playing 2B when that was the slugging position. We should really be comparing he and Eddie Collins to guys like Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and George Brett, not to guys like Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Grich and Joe Morgan.

Guys like Jimmy Collins and Home Run Baker should be compared to Morgan and Sandberg, they shouldn't be compared to Schmidt and Brett.

Posted 10:31 a.m., July 13, 2002 (#25) - ChapelHeel
  For Rick's benefit, I don't think the role reversal analysis is all that straightforward.

I think the role reversal is important only if you are asking who is the best at a particular position and in weighting their defensive abilities. I'm not sure whether it is relevant to the HoMer ballot. These threads are set up by position for ease of organization, but I believe the latest iteration of the HoMer ballot eliminated voting by position. Accordingly, Arlie Latham may be the 4th best 3b from this era, but he is likely many, many ballots away from being elected a HoMer (and probably not at all, in my view). It doesn't really matter whether you compare Latham to Schmidt or Latham to Bill Mazeroski. He falls where he falls on the HoMer ballot. Sure, Latham had heavier defensive responsibilities than Schmidt, but those are taken into account their respective WS defensive numbers, right? Reasonable minds may differ on whether WS does an adequate job in this regard, but there is an adjustment in there somewhere.

Also, I don't think it's fair to say Hornsby's numbers are less impressive because he played what was then a hitter's position. I've never heard anyone say Babe Ruth's numbers are less impressive because he played outfield and outfielders often hit well. In my view, the role reversal theory should be applied to defense. A great hitter is a great hitter, no matter what position he plays. The role reversal might affect where Hornsby falls among the greatest 2b of all time (because different 2b had different defensive responsibilities), but I don't think it affects where he falls among all HoMers, as long as you don't give him more defensive credit than a 2b of his era is due. Again, WS numbers try to take this into account.

Finally, if you are going to apply this 2b/3b reversal theory, you have to apply it to everyone at those positions in the relevant eras. If you compare Hornsby to Mike Schmidt, you also have to compare Bid McPhee to Mike Schmidt. So Hornsby was a good hitter at a hitter's position and McPhee was a good defensive player at a hitter's position. What does that do to McPhee? One argument is that he is not a HoMer because he played a hitter's position but wasn't a spectacular hitter (considering the park he played in). On the other hand, Bill James has given him 5.25 WS per 1,000 Innings Played. If he was playing a position that did not have a heavy defensive role, then he must have been one hell of a defensive player to rack up more than 5 WS a season with his defense. Mazerosksi has less than 1 additional WS per 1,000 Innings Played at a time when the 2b had a greater defensive role.

My point is that there are many ways to look at the 2b/3b role reversal. WS tries to take this into account. If you are using another method, you may want to make some adjustments, but it will take some thinking.

Posted 1:01 a.m., July 14, 2002 (#26) - John Murphy
  30-20, 10, 0-30-Levi Meyerle-5.6 sea.-27 batting-1 fielding
3B 55%, 2B 22%, RF 12%, SS 7%, 1B 4%, LF 1%.
notes: 1871-1877;1884. Played 5.0 season in NA, remainder of career in NL; 1884 in U. Best years were in the NA, numbers above do not reflect this, so he cannot be accurately evaluated by WS at this point.

Win Shares per 162 games played (NA not included). 20.97

Posted 11:03 a.m., July 14, 2002 (#27) - John Murphy
  Small correction on Levi Meyerle's defense: it should read 3 fielding instead of 1.

I'm starting to like this HTML stuff!

Posted 11:45 a.m., July 15, 2002 (#28) - Rick A.
  Scruff,
Thanks for the info. That was very interesting. Having never played Little League, I never realized that one of the better fielders was the third basemen.

ChapelHeel,
You and scruff have given me something to think about when voting for these players. Thanks

Posted 5:06 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#29) - Chris F
  "I've never heard anyone say Babe Ruth's numbers are less impressive because he played outfield and outfielders often hit well."

Well, of course no one has ever said that because it would sound silly to call Ruth 'less impressive' than anything. But I think we would all agree that Babe Ruth would have been even MORE impressive if he had hit like he did as a SS or C.

Posted 11:12 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#30) - Craig B
  How about as a pitcher?

Amazing, that man, simply amazing.

Posted 11:18 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#31) - Craig B
  How about as a pitcher?

Amazing, that man, simply amazing.

Posted 8:16 p.m., September 12, 2002 (#32) - TomH (e-mail)
  My first look at the 3Bmen, and my first comments overall:

In general, I need more info on adjWS; is it adjusted for length of season? This would be good and overcome some of James' NHA problems of fewer WS for 19th cent guys. HOWEVER, there is a strong argument for lower quality of league the further back we go. I cannot equate similar OPS+ stats for guys like Sutton/White/Williamson in the 1870s to Lyons and Nash in the 80s / 90s. So, my initial cut at 3B rank goes like
Williamson by a nose over Lyons, with White and Nash close behind. White might be #3 at catcher as well. Then Sutton (his OWP ain't all that good), finally Joyce (who needs a longer career and better D) and Latham, after which there isn't much.
Tom

Posted 11:09 p.m., September 12, 2002 (#33) - Marc
  Good question about adjWS...is the adjustment to 162 games or to a 162 game schedule? In other words if a player in the 1880s played in 100 of 114 games is the adjustment 1.62 or 1.42?

As for Deacon White, he might be #3 at catcher and #3 at 3B. But if you add together his entire career he probably rates ahead of all the catchers and 3B besides Ewing as a "player."

Overall I'm not sure there is a HOF 3B from the 19th century. The 2B crop looks weak, maybe, but 3B looks weaker yet. I agree that Williamson was probably the best, just based on the accolades he got from people who saw him play.

Posted 12:04 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#34) - scruff (e-mail)
  The adjustment is to a 162-game schedule.

Marc and Tom, I really like Ezra Sutton as the best 3B of the 19th Century, and I think he is a HoMer, not a first ballot one obviously, but he was a helluva a player.

He racked up 273 adjusted WS playing in the NL, and he was good enough to be one of the better players in the NA from the age of 20-24. He racked up 39, 35 and 32 WS in his best 3 years, in the early 1880s, which was a much tougher league than the NA.

It's reasonable, especially in looking at his NA numbers to assume that he would have had some big years earlier as well had the NL existed. Even if you give him just 15 WS a year for his NA years, you are looking at a guy with 348 WS (significantly more than any other 3B), and a 16+ year career, very long for that era. And a high peak.

Sure his big years in the NA have to be discounted somewhat, but that doesn't mean they should be eliminated or not counted at all. I really believe it's an easy question for who the best 3B of the 19th century was. Williamson is a solid second, but Sutton wins this easily, IMO.

John Murphy, great sponsor line on baseball-reference :-) I think I'm going to grab Deacon White . . .

Posted 1:51 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#35) - John Murphy
  Thanks, Scruff.

I was actually left White for you, since you are the biggest proponent here at the Primer for his selection to both Halls (and rightly so).

Posted 2:02 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#36) - John Murphy
  Let me try this again:

Thanks, Scruff.

I actually left White for you, since you are the biggest proponent here at the Primer for his selection to both Halls (and rightly so).

Posted 6:18 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#37) - scruff (e-mail)
  Thanks John, you should see something by the end of the weekend . . .

Posted 10:48 p.m., September 14, 2002 (#38) - dan b
  Scruff writes "I really like Ezra Sutton as the best 3B of the 19th Century, and I think he is a HoMer"

I have been reading with interest comments such as the above along with other similar assertions posted on other blogs designating players such as Paul Hines, Charley Jones, Cal McVey, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White as certain HoMers. Unless I have stumbled into the meeting place of the Nineteenth Century Baseball Fan Club, I don�t think so. As our elections unfold, we will have divided points of view not just over peak value versus career value, but also �Best of Era� versus �Best Available Player�.

A few weeks ago when we were debating the election format, I compiled a mock HoM to try to get a feel for what our results might look like. Supposing that the collective wisdom of our electorate might some what concur with Bill James, I used his rankings in the Historical Baseball Abstract, and seeking positional balance took the top 18 players at each of (8) positions, 65 pitchers and the (12) Negro League players James lists in the top 100. I only considered players who will be eligible for the HoM by 2004. This gave me 221 players. Needing 224 to fill the HoM per Scruff�s post of July 23, I arbitrarily added the 19th ranking RF and CF and Monte Irvin (whose career split had him falling through the cracks). Although no attempt to micro evaluate the merits of say, the 18th ranking LF versus the 20th ranking CF was undertaken, this gave me a reasonable starting point for a HoM based on �Best Available Player�. After holding my mock elections, I offer the following observations:

1) Had we decided to start our process in 1921, every player selected would have come from the above described list of 224. Since we are starting in 1906, a total of 18 players not on the initial list needed to be found by digging a little deeper on James� rankings, beginning with Cupid Childs in 1908 and ending with Zack Wheat in 1933.
2) Only 9 players whose career ends before 1901 get in � Anson, Brouthers, Clarkson, Connor, Ewing, Keefe, McPhee, Mullane, and Radbourn. Voters looking for the best players on each ballot are not going to have room for players like Sutton (James ranking at 3B #98), Hines (CF #53),Jones (LF #67), McVey (C-not in the top 125), White (3B #76) or Richardson (2B #39) � well, maybe Richardson instead of Mullane.

The caliber of play in the nineteenth century is suspect. James makes a compelling argument in his comments on Amos Rusie (P #28)regarding the success of teenage pitchers in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the claim to be the best 3B in the 1880�s or the best RF in the 1870�s is no more justification for HoM recognition than best player in Kansas City Athletics history (Siebern 1B #63).

Posted 12:36 a.m., September 15, 2002 (#39) - John Murphy
  The caliber of play in the nineteenth century is suspect. James makes a compelling argument in his comments on Amos Rusie (P #28)regarding the success of teenage pitchers in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the claim to be the best 3B in the 1880�s or the best RF in the 1870�s is no more justification for HoM recognition than best player in Kansas City Athletics history (Siebern 1B #63).

The problem I have with this is that, a hundred years from now, all the great players of today might be as good as an average player of that time. Would we start throwing Barry, A-Rod and Clemens (not to mention Ted, Ty and the Babe) out of the Hall because, compared to the future players, the competition they played with would seem suspect?

I agree that there are more great players now than then. I think, however, the best third baseman in over twenty years of professional baseball (until Jimmy Collins) is worthy of the honor. Besides, James even says he might be wrong about Sutton.

Posted 12:18 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#40) - Marc
  This is the ultimate question. What exactly constitutes value? greatness? Is it whether or not said candidate could plop down in 2002 with the training and conditioning and knowledge and experience of 1871 or 1893 or 1918 or 1935 and play at an All-Star level? I love Bill James but if that's what he is trying to say, he is wrong. By that logic, if in other words we extend James' timeline adjustment into the future (John hit the nail on the head) then someday the stars of the 20th century will no longer be fit for the HOF either.

I would suggest that greatness is, first of all, a matter of peak value. Either you're great or you're not. You can't accumulate greatness. A reasonable length of career is also nice. But the standard, either way, is the impact you had on pennant races. If Ezra Sutton helped his team win or compete for a pennant in the 1880s, if he gave his team an extra edge by doing things his peers didn't do, then that is exactly as great an achievement as George Brett giving his team a similar edge 100 years later.

I have no clue if Ezra Sutton is a HOFer, by the way. But it is silly to believe that if George Brett had been born in 1850 that he would have been George Brett.

So I'm looking forward to voting some 19th century players into the HOM, and I'm not at all discouraged about voting out some players from the 20th. A pennant is a pennant, and the players' job is to compete and win during the lifetime and with the conditions that god gave him.

Posted 12:20 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#41) - Marc
  This is the ultimate question. What exactly constitutes value? greatness? Is it whether or not said candidate could plop down in 2002 with the training and conditioning and knowledge and experience of 1871 or 1893 or 1918 or 1935 and play at an All-Star level? I love Bill James but if that's what he is trying to say, he is wrong. By that logic, if in other words we extend James' timeline adjustment into the future (John hit the nail on the head) then someday the stars of the 20th century will no longer be fit for the HOF either.

I would suggest that greatness is, first of all, a matter of peak value. Either you're great or you're not. You can't accumulate greatness. A reasonable length of career is also nice. But the standard, either way, is the impact you had on pennant races. If Ezra Sutton helped his team win or compete for a pennant in the 1880s, if he gave his team an extra edge by doing things his peers didn't do, then that is exactly as great an achievement as George Brett giving his team a similar edge 100 years later.

I have no clue if Ezra Sutton is a HOFer, by the way. But it is silly to believe that if George Brett had been born in 1850 that he would have been George Brett.

PS. Ezra Sutton fans are advised BTW to start calling him by his middle name and the new nickname I am about to give to him. "Cat" Ballou Sutton. Now there's a name I can vote for!

So I'm looking forward to voting some 19th century players into the HOM, and I'm not at all discouraged about voting out some players from the 20th. A pennant is a pennant, and the players' job is to compete and win during the lifetime and with the conditions that god gave him.

Posted 2:00 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#42) - Eric Chalek
  But should the question of whether Sutton is the best 3B of his time or not be pertinent to our task? Shouldn't the question be: Is Sutton the most (or one of N-most) worthy candidates for induction? Sure I might include him on my ballot, but can he be reasonably ranked ahead of O'Rourke, Kelly, Connor, Brouthers, Radbourne, Keefe, or Clarkson, or for that matter McPhee on the first ballot? Or the leftovers from the first ballot plus Childs and Hamilton (and Rusie?) on the second ballot?

By my reckoning (and it could be wrong), our third election offers Sutton his best opportunity (the major new candidate that year would appear to be Dummy Hoy). After that he'll be squeezed by Delahanty, Jennings, Ryan, and Van Haltren; then the next year those leftovers plus Herman "The Original Flying Dutchman" Long. After that things get tight as a lot of candidates begin moving onto the ballot in quick succession.

I can't say yet that I personally will or won't vote for Sutton, but I can say that he'll surely have an uphill battle to make it.

POINT OF INQUIRY: Since Rusie's and Brouthers's names have come up, have we established any guidelines regarding how far away from the end of a player's regular career a token appearance must be if it is to be ignored for HOM eligibility purposes?

Posted 2:05 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#43) - Eric Chalek
  But should the question of whether Sutton is the best 3B of his time or not be pertinent to our task? Shouldn't the question be: Is Sutton the most (or one of N-most) worthy candidates for induction? Sure I might include him on my ballot, but can he be reasonably ranked ahead of O'Rourke, Kelly, Connor, Brouthers, Radbourne, Keefe, or Clarkson, or for that matter McPhee on the first ballot? Or the leftovers from the first ballot plus Childs and Hamilton (and Rusie?) on the second ballot?

By my reckoning (and it could be wrong), our third election offers Sutton his best opportunity (the major new candidate that year would appear to be Dummy Hoy). After that he'll be squeezed by Delahanty, Jennings, Ryan, and Van Haltren; then the next year those leftovers plus Herman "The Original Flying Dutchman" Long. After that things get tight as a lot of candidates begin moving onto the ballot in quick succession.

I can't say yet that I personally will or won't vote for Sutton, but I can say that he'll surely have an uphill battle to make it.

POINT OF INQUIRY: Since Rusie's and Brouthers's names have come up, have we established any guidelines regarding how far away from the end of a player's regular career a token appearance must be if it is to be ignored for HOM eligibility purposes?

Posted 2:29 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#44) - Eric Chalek
  Sorry about the double post.

Posted 7:11 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#45) - Marc
  Ditto re. the double post. And Eric, I agree with you re. Ezra Sutton. He was just a handy name to stand in for the 19th century generally. I guess part of this whole exercise is to decide whether we are going to pretend it is really 1906 or not. My understanding BTW is strict (Minnie Minoso) HOF rules; any late appearance pushes back ballot eligibility. That raises the interesting case of Sam Thompson who retired in 1898 but played a few games in 1906. If we are pretending it is January 1906, then we wouldn't have any way of knowing he would appear in a few games later that year.

Posted 8:35 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#46) - dan b
  So we are pretending it is 1906. Isn't it likely we will be even less impressed with Sutton's claim as the best 3B back in the 80's. Aren't we going to say to ourselves "although Sutton may have been the best back in the 80's, he was no John McGraw or Jimmy Collins". Won't we recognize that with the improved stability of the game came a higher level of play, that the stars of the recent past were better than the stars of the 70's and 80's?

Posted 12:09 a.m., September 16, 2002 (#47) - DanG (e-mail)
  What is Retirement?

On the topic of ignoring token appearances to determine HoM eligibility, Marc argues for no leeway: "My understanding BTW is strict (Minnie Minoso) HOF rules; any late appearance pushes back ballot eligibility. That raises the interesting case of Sam Thompson who retired in 1898 but played a few games in 1906. If we are pretending it is January 1906, then we wouldn't have any way of knowing he would appear in a few games later that year."

This topic was covered at some length in a very early thread here. If we were indeed following strict HOF rules, we wouldn't even have a five-year wait until the election of 1956. Anyway, the point is, under a strict rule we couldn't vote for Hughie Jennings until 1924 or Johnny Evers until 1935. I came up with a sensible rule that allows for a few exceptions: For determining retirement year, we should ignore all seasons with token appearances occurring more than two years after the player's last season of 10+ games (or IP for pitchers).

For example, Jennings' last year with 10+ games was 1902. Any token appearances in 03 or 04 would make one of those years his "retirement" year. In fact, Jennings played 6 games in 1903, so we use that year and make him eligible for our 1909 election. We ignore his token appearances in 07, 09, 12, and 18.

John McGraw is a more difficult example. His last year with 10+ games was 1903, his 12 games that year being just over our "token" limit. He appeared in <10 games in 04, 05, 06. Under my definition we'll use 1905 as his retirement year, ignoring the token appearances after that year.

Yes, it's an arbitrary cut-off, but it makes sense to draw the line somewhere about that point and allow players to enter the ballot with their contemporaries. For McGraw, he was actually done as a player in 1902. After that he was a manager. I would argue he was not a player-manager in 03-06; he was a manager who occasionally played himself in a pinch. This was not uncommon before 1920. I see no good argument for restarting the retirement clock based on token appearances long after someone's playing career is effectively ended.

I'm not adamantly opposed to some modification of my proposed rule. But to say that Sam Thompson "retired" in 1906 misstates the era in which he played. Sam retired in 1898. His 8 game comeback in 1906 was a post-career stunt. I think we want to avoid the "strict" interpretation of retirement year.

And regarding Minoso, he was a strange case. His major league career ended in 1964. For some reason, the BBWAA put him on the ballot after only a four-year wait. He received 6 votes in 1969 and then disappeared from the ballot. This was strange, because in the days before the 5% rule players normally would remain on the ballot with this level of support. Larry Doby is a similar story, receiving 7 votes in 1966 and 10 in 1967 before disappearing. By comparison, Bobby Thomson also received six votes in 1969 and continued on the ballot, drawing from 3 to 11 votes annually, until the 5% rule knocked him off in 1979. Vic Wertz stayed on the ballot, receiving from 2 to 5 votes every year from 1970-78.

Minoso remained off the ballot, then made token appearances in 1976 and 1980. The BBWAA reinstated him in 1986 and he received decent support until he had exhausted his 15 tries at election. He now appears on the 200-man ballot for the new VC.

I always though it was kind of ridiculous in the late 90's for the BBWAA to be considering him, when most of the voters by then had never seen him play in his prime. If they followed the Hall rules that allow eligibility up to twenty years after retirement, he would have been off the ballot after 1984. His appearances in 1976 and 1980 were post-career stunts that should not have restarted the eligibility clock.

Posted 4:29 p.m., September 17, 2002 (#48) - John Murphy
  Sure I might include him on my ballot, but can he be reasonably ranked ahead of O'Rourke, Kelly, Connor, Brouthers, Radbourne, Keefe, or Clarkson, or for that matter McPhee on the first ballot? Or the leftovers from the first ballot plus Childs and Hamilton (and Rusie?)

I like Rusie better than Radbourne. My three picks for pitcher:
John Clarkson
Tim Keefe
Amos Rusie
(Al Spalding could be #2 or 3, but I'll hold off on him until Scruff/Joe finishes his work on the NA).

Posted 12:45 a.m., September 18, 2002 (#49) - DanG
  Unless we decide on a different definition of token appearances than the one I have advocated (<10 games for players, <10 IP for pitchers), Rusie will not be eligible for our first election.

In 1901 Amos pitched 22 innings in only three games. If we modified the definition of token appearances for pitchers to say something like "less than 10 IP or <5 games," we could get him eligible for the first election.

Posted 2:40 a.m., September 18, 2002 (#50) - John Murphy
  DanG:
I thought Rusie made it. I should have checked again.

I'd probably put Spalding as the third best pitcher. I think Galvin was slightly better than Old Hoss, while Mickey Welch about even with Radbourne. Mullane and Caruthers bring up the rear.

Posted 3:13 a.m., September 18, 2002 (#51) - John Murphy
  BTW, I would place Tommy Bond with Caruthers and Mullane.

Posted 1:12 a.m., September 29, 2002 (#52) - John Murphy
  Update on the top five third basemen (in order):
Ezra Sutton
Billy Nash (best post NA numbers)
Ed Williamson
Denny Lyon
Bill Joyce

I have no idea if Levi Meyerle or Bob Ferguson belong here.

Posted 11:55 a.m., October 14, 2002 (#53) - TomH
  I'm having difficulty with the 3Bmen on my ballot. There all appear the same (except for the sort-of 3Bmen, White and Ewing, who would be the top of the class). Sutton has fine stats, but is 8 years earlier than Wiliamson, who had a ton of press written about him as a great one. Lyons a fine peak and a great hitter, Nash a fine career with ##s seemingly better than Williamson's but not the PR. Right now if my ballot had 20 spots, all 4 of these get in. But with 15 spots, it may only be 1, and that near the bottom.

Posted 12:15 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#54) - scruff (e-mail)
  I agree Tom, 3B is tight, no sure fire HoMers, just a few on the cusp (I consider White and Ewing C's).

I'd say Ezra Sutton is the top dog here, followed closely by Williamson. They are the only two that I think will make it (or should). There's too many good players at other positions, and pretty soon the big guns will start landing on the ballot, guys like Wagner and Young, etc.

Posted 6:02 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#55) - Marc
  Oddly enough, in the 1936 veteran's ballot for the HOF, Jerry Denny was the top 19th century 3B with 6 votes (not counting J. Collins) but never got another vote ever again (of course there were no more votes by that particular committee). I forget how many voters there were but 59 votes were needed for election (so I guess 79) and nobody was in fact elected (Anson and Ewing were tops with 40 votes each). Williamson had 2 votes and Latham had one. Sutton, Nash, all the others were at zero.

Posted 7:12 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#56) - TomH
  Marc, can you publish full account of the 1936 vet's ballot? Thanks.

Posted 8:07 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#57) - Marc
  Anson 40, Ewing 40, Keeler 33, Young 32, Delahanty 22, H.Long 16, Radbourn 16, K.Kelly 15, Rusie 12,
Jennings 11, Clarke 9, J. Collins 8, Denny 6, Lange 6, Stovey 6, Clarkson 5, Wagner 5, Duffy 4, Barnes 3,
Bennett 3, Nichols 3, Ward 3

2 votes--Brouthers, Dunlap, Glasscock, Hamilton, Lajoie, Lowe
1--Battin, Bekcley, Bond, Burkett, Criger, Dahlen, Daubert, J. Doyle, Keefe, Kilroy, Latham, McAleer,
McCARTHY, McVey, Pabor, Pike, Remsen, H. Richardson, Tenney, Van Haltren, Wallace, D. White.

If you look carefully at the old-timers voting, all the players started their career before 1900. If you look carefully at the regular ballot, all players were active in the 20th century. So some players (Young, Keeler, Delahanty, Clarke, J. Collins, Wagner, Lajoie, etc.) appeared on both lists.

Again, 59 votes were needed for election and nobody was elected, so apparently there were 79 ballots. I count 332 total votes above for a total of 4.2 votes per ballot. I don't know if there was a limit to the number of players who could be listed on a single ballot, but on the regular BBWAA ballot I think the limit was 10. Whatever it was here, the failure to elect anybody was in part due to a number of uncast ballots. Maybe some of the voters didn't think 19th century players belonged in the Hall, or simply had no knowledge of the 19th century, or were just very sure that only about 4 19th century players really belonged, I don't know why there were so many uncast ballots in the very first vote, when obviously there was a whole universe of players to chose from.

By position the top vote getters were C- Ewing, 1B-Anson (40-2 over Brothers, Connor was shut out), 2B- Barnes, SS- Herman Long over Jennings et al, 3B- Jeremiah Dennis Eldridge (aka Jerry Denny), OF-Delahanty, K. Kelly and Keeler though Lange was the top CF, P-Young, Radbourn, Rusie and Clarkson.

After Herman Long, Denny and Lange would be the forgotten men from the ballot. Denny played in the NL from 1881 to 1894, appears to TB have been a solid glove man but to WS only a C+ (Sutton is B+). Not much of a hitter with a career OPS+ of 98 despite one great year (1998) at 137 (he hit .340 and otherwise never hit over .282 in a full year) while Sutton had 5 years at 136 or better. His (Denny's) career BA/OBA/SA were .262/.287/.384 compared to Sutton's .281/.315/.381.

Sutton of course got zero votes. Undoubtedly he had been forgotten by 1936, 48 years after his retirement, despite playing for Boston's NL champs of 1877-78 and '83, one of his best seasons. Though a full 9 years younger, Denny played only 6 years later, retiring after the 1894 season. He played for Old Hoss Radbourn's great 1884 Providence champions of the NL, but his peak was spent in the utter obscurity of a really terrible Indianapolis team.

Oddly James has Sutton ranked 98th and Denny 99th, and points out that Denny has the most PO per inning of all 3B all-time. It is doubtful the 1936 voters knew about this.

Posted 8:12 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#58) - Marc
  Sorry, Jerry Denny's big year was 1887. James gives him 19 WS in 122 individual games. The team played 126 games, so his AdjWS would be 24.4. Not exactly MVP range.

Posted 8:19 p.m., October 14, 2002 (#59) - Marc
  Another PS. George Wright also got 6 votes and Spalding 4 in the '36 veteran's ballot. I pasted this in from another source and I'm obviously going to have to go back and see what else dropped out. Sorry.

Posted 12:00 a.m., October 15, 2002 (#60) - Marc
  All right, let me try this again. In addition to the list posted above at 8:07 on Oct. 14, the following persons also received votes in the 1936 veteran's HOF vote:

John McGraw 17 votes, Wilbert Robinson, George Wright and Charlie Comiskey 6, Albert Spalding 4 and (N)ed Williamson 2.

So, to the all-star team listed above you'd have to add McGraw as your all-star manager, unless, that is, you think half or thereabouts of Anson's votes were for his leadership qualities. Spalding is just one vote out of the running for a four-man pitching rotation.


Tuesday, July 9 - Full Blog Archive


Distribution list test

I sent an email last night to all 'registered voters', who are basically anyone I have in the address book for the Hall of Merit.

If you didn't get one, and you want to be on the correspondence list, please let me know, by sending an e-mail to me at this address, which is different than the one below; you can copy the nymetssuck12@yahoo.com address (the one below) as well. I haven't been checking that one below for some time, it had slipped my mind. Copying my regular home email will remind me to check the other address and get you in the address book . . .

You can also just post to this thread, leaving your email in the appropriate spot on the form.

I guess we can use this thread if someone wants to bring up an administrative issue, or anything else not related to discussing the merits of players.
--posted by Joe Dimino at 7:04 AM EDT / Link / Discussion (141 Comments)

Posted 9:36 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#1) - Matt Rauseo (e-mail)
  nm

Posted 11:56 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#2) - KJOK (e-mail)
  Joe, for some reason I didn't get your registered voter email....

Posted 12:21 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#3) - scruff (e-mail)
  No problem KJOK, I'll add you. Matt, what does 'nm' mean? I assume you want to be added?

Posted 10:09 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#4) - Servo (e-mail)
  I'd like to be added...thanks

Posted 2:02 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#5) - Brian Kaplan (e-mail)
  Hey Scruff,

I'd like to be added also.

Thanks!

Brian

Posted 2:28 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#6) - Matt (e-mail)
  Sorry for the confusion. I put my e-mail in the box thinking that was enough, the "nm" ment no message.

Posted 3:13 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#7) - Repoz (e-mail)
  I thought I had registered already.....

Add me in.....thanks

Posted 12:13 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#8) - Rob Wood
  I hope I am missing something here. I seem to be confused on the players that are being posted. As I understand it, these are the players appearing on (i.e., eligible for) the first HOM ballot. Also, as I understand it, the first ballot "year" is 1915, and with the 5-year waiting period, all players whose careers ended in 1910 or earlier are eligible.

If this is correct (and maybe I am missing something), then I would have expected more turn of the century players. Guys like Jake Beckley, Cupid Childs, Jimmy Collins, John McGraw, Lave Cross, George Davis, and Herman Long who, I think, all ended their playing careers in 1910 or earlier.

Maybe there will be a second "batch" of players posted later that are also eligible for the first ballot. Or maybe I have completely misinterpreted what is going on; if so, I apologize.

Posted 12:19 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#9) - John Murphy
  Rob:
The first ballot is for 1906. All players who retired by the year 1900 are eligible. The players you named retired after 1900.

Posted 12:23 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#10) - scruff
  Rob -- Originally, the ballots were going to start in 1915. But we realized that if we started with players whose careers were finished by 1900, we'd still have 30 years of major league ball (if you count the NA as major) to go on, or basically the first 2 generations of players.

We, or more specifically Robert Dudek and I, felt that it was important to make sure several of these players get in, before they have to compete with the Ty Cobb's and Honus Wagner's of the world. So we pushed the first election back.

Posted 12:25 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#11) - scruff
  Just to clarify -- It was a voter that actually suggested moving the elections back, I meant to say Robert Dudek and I agreed. It didn't come out like above for some reason.

Posted 3:43 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#12) - Rob Wood
  Thanks for the replies. It took me awhile to notice that there were virtually no players posted who played in the 20th century!

Posted 3:52 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#13) - Rob Wood
  On another topic that was raised in one of the position threads (on Joe Start), I have a few meta-questions. Is a voter allowed to consider non-professional accomplishments, such as pre-1871 performance? Second, how much weight should be given to being a pioneer, such as introducing new strategies into the game or being instrumental in new leagues? Third, is it acceptable to shade one's views in favor of players who were captains/managers of their teams? I guess I am seeking more guidance on what exactly are we doing here. Thanks much.

Posted 5:21 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#14) - Devin McCullen
  I believe scruff said somewhere that we were pretty much limiting ourselves to on-the-field accomplishments. I think there's a "statement of purpose" around somewhere. As far as managers go, there was talk of doing seperate managerial elections every 5 "years" or so. Again, I'm not sure what the final decision was on that.

On another subject, scruff, when you're putting the profiles of the various players up, could you include a link to their b-r pages? It's always nice to have numbers to throw around in the arguments.

Posted 6:35 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#15) - scruff
  Devin -- Duh!!! What the hell was I thinking? BR Links will be up as soon as I get a chance. I can't believe I didn't do that.

Posted 6:38 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#16) - jimd
  "What is the relationship between pitching and defense in 19th century baseball?"

To me, that is the fundamental question each of us has to answer first before we can rationally evaluate these players. I see the question having two possible answers:

1) It's pretty similar to today. Our modern tools for evaluating these players will work in about the same way. However, the conclusions are startling. The pitchers are doing the work of complete pitching staffs (1870's) or half of one (1880's). We can compare the star players behind them all we want, but these guys are supernovae. At their best, they are Randy Johnson pitching every day; Maddux and Glavine each doing half of the workload. When you prorate their stats to 162 games, the numbers become even more surreal; Radbourn's peak 3 win shares for 1882-84 are 50, 60, 89; scaling his team to 162 games gives him 96, 99, 129!. They rack up potential HOF careers in 3 or 4 years and then flame out. A star like Anson piles up impressive career stats, but when comparing him with Radbourn, its like the Sutton/Koufax quantity/quality debates.

2) It's not similar to today. Our modern tools for evaluating these players will not work unless somewhat modified. The pitchers do not have the impact that are otherwise deduced. However, there is a corollary to that; if the pitchers aren't winning that share of those games, then the defense is picking up the slack. For example, win shares uses a roughly 2:1 ratio between pitching and defense. If the pitcher's value is cut in half, then the defensive values must be doubled to maintain the overall totals. For 1Bmen this won't mean much; for SS and 3B, this can be huge.

In other words, either pitchers are the super-stars or defense is more important than today. I have no answer to this question, and, unfortunately, no time to devote to its study. I suspect each of us will come to a personal decision on this, and as a result, the first election(s) may be the most controversial.

We have to discuss and address this issue while evaluating the individual players.

(Apologies for hijacking the thread, but it looks like the pitchers will be last, and I think this issue is important enough to start thinking about it now.)

Posted 7:19 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#17) - Rob Wood
  The statement of purpose that I read did not address my three questions. Speaking with personal experience of the Baseball Survivor group, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of resolving (to the extent possible) these meta-issues up front. If they are not resolved, they will be revisited ad nauseum as we go forward, and likely some people will have their feelings hurt one way or the other.

My third question pertained to playing captains of the 19th century. As we know, most teams didn't have managers (in the modern sense). A player, typically the best player on the team, was the captain and formed strategy, lineups, etc. I am very willing to give these captains extra credit, especially on successful teams. I guess this can be considered "on-field performance", although much of the contributions are from their teammates.

My two cents on the other issues. I think we need some sort of statement defining who we are trying to honor in the HOM. Something like "the best players of major league baseball played in North America from 1871 to the present day". Thus, Negro Leaguers would be eligible, but not Japanese players (in Japan). Non-professional before MLB 1871 would be eligible, but they would be worthy only if they made significant on-field contributions in post-1871 MLB.

Regarding pioneers, I would extend them a small amount of extra credit, but not enough to elevate a marginal candidate into the HOM. That is, there would be no Homers based in any substantial manner on their pioneering activities. Of course, this is a grey area on which individual voters will have to exercise their best judgment, but I think a general statement up front would be a good idea.

Posted 7:38 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#18) - Rob Wood
  JimD raises the most meaty of all 19th century issues. I think most of us would agree that the split between offense/pitching/fielding in the 19th century probably bears little resemblence to today's game. There are analytical methods that can shed light on this important issue. I hope to look into this issue soon, but I am in the middle of some other research that I have to wrap up first.

Posted 8:56 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#19) - Rob Wood
  One more procedural question. Once we get started, how frequently do we anticipate the "annual" votes will take place? Is it on the order of once a week or so? Back of the envelope math: there will be 97 "annual" votes to cover the 1906 election through the 2002 election. 97 weekly votes is a little less than two years. Does this seem about right?

Posted 9:39 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#20) - Rob Wood
  One more procedural question. Once we get started, how frequently do we anticipate the "annual" votes will take place? Is it on the order of once a week or so? Back of the envelope math: there will be 97 "annual" votes to cover the 1906 election through the 2002 election. 97 weekly votes is a little less than two years. Does this seem about right?

Posted 8:40 p.m., July 15, 2002 (#21) - Rob Wood
  Still another issue that should get an airing is the practice of scaling up 19th century players' stats to 162 game season equivalents. I am all in favor of trying to put 19th century players on a level playing field with their 20th century brethren. However, short seasons can lead to small sample problems, which may become apparent when we scale up performance proportionately to the number of team games.

Of course, if a team only played a handful of games in a season, we would be very cautious before we would scale up all performances to a 162-game schedule. Well, the same concerns may apply to schedules of 80 or so games. If a batter hit .400 over the first 80 games of a season, we'd not jump to the conclusion that he'd hit .400 over a full 162-game season. The same argument applies if the season itself is only 80 games long.

There is no perfect way to do it, but I would propose using results from sampling theory. The confidence (standard deviation) of our estimates of a player's "true" performance over N games is inversely related to the square root of N. By using the binomial distribution for batting average, say, it is straightforward to derive the relevant factor of how much we need to scale down our per game multiplier to reflect our greater uncertainty. The factor depends upon the number of games played, the player's observed performance metric, and the degree to which we want to "shade" our estimates of a player's "true" performance.

For most reasonable values of the above parameters, I find that the multiplication factor should be about 96-98% of the straight-proportional scaling, even with as few as 80 games in a season. Thus, I feel very comfortable with the straight-proportional scaling of Win Shares, with the proviso that maybe around 3% of a early player's win shares are a little suspect. For players who played significant time on teams with far fewer than 80 games in a season, a more explicit shading is probably appropriate.

Posted 9:54 p.m., July 15, 2002 (#22) - jimd
  Very good points, Rob Wood. The National Association stats are going to exhibit this problem to an even greater degree. During the first season, teams played around 30 games against each other. (This starts as a loose association of the best barnstorming teams playing for bragging rights; they played many other games with amateur and semi-pro teams of varying quality, but the stats are for the NA games only.) The seasons increased in length each year, but 30 games is a very small sample (one reason why Levi Myerle hit .492; he was one hit away from being the first and last .500 hitter).

Posted 2:49 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#23) - Rob Wood
  Using the same methodology I utilized for an 80-game season (leading to an estimate for a shading factor of 96-98%), I find that a 30-game season should be discounted at a 93% rate. That is, under my assumptions it would be reasonable to scale a player's performance (win shares) achieved in a 30-game season up to a 162-game season proportionately, and then multiply by 93% (i.e., discount by about 7%).

At first I was surprised how small the discount is under this method (I expected the shorter seasons performances to be more suspect). The reason that the proportionate method is fairly robust is that the "event" that gives the N in the square root of N term is the number of plate appearances, not the number of games. In my formulas I assumed an average of 4 plate appearances per game. 30 games is around 120 plate appearances, which is not quite such a small sample as 30 plate appearances would be. (The multiplier for 30 events vs 162 under my assumptions would be 86%, but this is not correct since events are plate appearances, not games.)

Posted 3:46 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#24) - MattB
  Rob,

Granted, my statistics is a little fuzzy, and hazy, but your 7% "short season discount" strikes me as an odd way to look at him.

If Player X has 50 WS (when scaled to 162 games) in a 30 games season, one way to look at it is to say that we are only confident of this result to within one standard deviation, and therefore we will discount by 7%, and say that he was with relative certainty at least a 46.5 WS player that year.

That method -- it seems to me -- will systematically undervalue the short seasons, though. Standard deviations go it both directions, which means that Player X would have been just as likely to be a 53.5 WS player as a 46.5 WS Player. It would make more sense to me to present a range ("He was a 46-54 WS player in 1871"), and decide which is more likely by extrinsic evidence (team's pythagorean W/L, stats in surrounding years, strength of the team's pitcher, etc.)

Posted 4:01 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#25) - MattB
  Also, another criticism of the 162 game scaling (going in the other direction) is the idea that a player could do in 162 games anything like what he did in 30. Would a pitcher throwing twice a week for 15 weeks be as effective as the same pitcher throwing every day for two weeks straight? Does a player who plays one game on a gimpy ankle still play if he knows he won't have four days to recover before the next game? If a modern day closer can do what he can do one inning a game, should we multiply his numbers by three or four so he can be compared to starters? Do we multiply the righty side of a platoon by three to see what he'd do against right and left handed pitchers? Of course not. So why assume that players would perform the same in games whether they played in them or not?

If David Segui only good for 50 games per year, why should be get more credit for playing those 50 games in 1876 during a 50 game season, rather than in 2001, where he's got to go on the DL every other week? If Roger Clemens and Bobby Mathews both start 36 games per year, why should Mathews get more credit for being in a larger percentage of his team's games?

Posted 4:17 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#26) - John Murphy
  Don't worry about comparing players from then with now. It's not supposed to be a "time capsule." The idea was to put the 19th century players in a way that we are used to. There is going to be problems with any statistical setup. That's why it's good to have a forum that we can discuss the players: there are different ways to look at the same picture.

Posted 4:57 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#27) - MattB
  John,

It was more of an analogy than an attempt at comparison.

We adjusting to 162 games to make the variously-lengthed seasons comparable. But it's only comparable if there is an assumption that a player can do the same thing over 30 games that he can over 60 or 90. My initial assumption is that it's easier to do something twice a week (1876 stats) than it is to do it nearly every day (1899 stats).

But providing stats normalized to 162 games essentially assumes that a 10 game winner in 1876 equals a 25 game winner in 1899. And I think that degrades the later accomplishment.

Posted 5:05 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#28) - MattB
  John,

It was more of an analogy than an attempt at comparison.

We adjusting to 162 games to make the variously-lengthed seasons comparable. But it's only comparable if there is an assumption that a player can do the same thing over 30 games that he can over 60 or 90. My initial assumption is that it's easier to do something twice a week (1876 stats) than it is to do it nearly every day (1899 stats).

But providing stats normalized to 162 games essentially assumes that a 10 game winner in 1876 equals a 25 game winner in 1899. And I think that degrades the later accomplishment.

Posted 5:13 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#29) - Rob Wood
  I acknowledge that my "back of the envelope" method is just that. It uses one standard deviation of a player's accomplishment in N games as a proxy to the discount we should apply when we scale up his accomplishments to 162 games. I could not think of a better way to look at this issue. Of course, I encourage others to chime in as well.

I do have one comment on the scaling up. Since we are all well aware of 20th century win share figures (seasonal and career), it will be impossible to look at a 19th century player's scaled up win shares and not mentally compare (or judge) his accomplishments in light of our more well-known 20th century standards. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. But we should readily admit win shares scaled up to 162 game seasons will carry an added punch that may not entirely deserve.

Posted 7:40 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#30) - jimd
  Do not make the mistake of thinking that these are the only games that these teams are playing. They are not playing for a couple of months, or playing a couple of games a week. Their touring schedules include many exhibition games against other teams of various quality. 19th century fans apparently enjoyed seeing these pro teams beat the stuffing out of their favorite local team, giving them a real taste of the difference in quality between the teams.

Harry Wright's Cincinnati Reds of 1869 were the first openly professional team, acknowledging that all players were paid (not fake "amateurs" like the best players on some other teams), and issued a challenge to take on all comers. They barnstormed across the country from Boston to New Orleans to San Francisco and were undefeated in sixty-something games. Scores ranged from 4-2 against the top-flight New York Mutuals (Boss Tweed's team of New York city
employees whose primary job responsibility was to show up to play), to 103-8 against some unfortunate team called the "Buckeyes". They continued the next year, and their winning streak approached 90 games before the Brooklyn Atlantics defeated them 8-7 in 11 innings. Crowds dropped after the first defeat; their Cincinnati backers pulled the plug at the end of the season; so the Wright Brothers started another team in Boston. They also spawned imitators.

The National Association (NA) began the following year (1871) when some of these barnstorming teams agreed to play each other a set number of times during the year, at their own convenience. (Schedules were not published ahead of time until years later.) The player-managers ran the league; the team backers/owners initially left those details to the professionals, content to rake in whatever profits arose from this highly-speculative entertainment venture.

The National League (NL) arose from a back-room revolution where the backers/owners decided that the teams would be more profitable if they ran the big-picture, leaving the player-managers to run the individual teams, not set league policies. The 8-team NL of 1876 included 6 teams from the 1875 NA, and two "expansion" teams. Louisville built their team from NA veterans from folded clubs and free agents (reserve clause did not begin until 1879). Cincinnati was apparently an existing team from a lower level. They were terrible, and the reason that the 1876 NL might be considered inferior to the 1875 NA.

Be thankful the stat keepers of those times kept the league stats independent of the team overall stats.

Posted 10:12 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#31) - Joe Dimino (e-mail)
  Figured I'd use my regular name, what the hell.

Lots to catch up on.

I think the pitching defense relationship in the 1870's was much more slanted towards defense. Charles Saeger has given me a pretty solid formula to work with, although it's somewhat complex and I haven't had time to run it yet. (I'd share it, but it's at work right now).

From what I understand his numbers for the 1874 NA say something like 77% defense, as opposed to the assumption of about 32.5% defense Bill James works with in Win Shares (which is pretty valid for modern times).

What I propose doing is reworking pitching WS w/this formula (D% is the defensive % figured above):

pWS / (D%/.325)

Then adjust for 162 game seasons. I think this will give us a better way to assess the impact 19th century pitchers had on their teams. I'm curious as to what others think. It will also help us to assess their impact relative to the best position players.

As for the procedural things -- Rob I agree weekly will probably be the way we go.

After the first election we'll only have to add the new eligibles to our assessment/ballot, so we'll all have our personal rankings, and we'll just need to slot the new guys. Of course our personal rankings may shift as discussion continues, etc. But the really heavy work will be in sorting this first group out, after that it's evaluating how the top new candidates compare to the established eligibles. So I think one week is plenty of time for this.

I'll get to your other procedural things tomorrow, I'm running out of time here. Thanks for the patience.

Rob I like your discount method a lot.

For one, if the numbers listed above were that far off, we'd have many more 50 WS seasons, which we don't have. For the most part the players peaks don't look incredibly higher than for 20th century players. This is a good sign. Also, players do seem to maintain their peaks, there aren't too many out of control seasons. I think we're on a reasonable track here, I'm glad to hear you concur Rob.

MattB - I think all things considered equal, I'd take the player whose accomplishments came later. See my comments for the 3B. But I think you have to at least try to compensate for the varying schedule length. David Segui, playing 50 of 162 games is contributing in less than 1/3 of the games required for a pennant. Someone playing 50 of 82 games in 1880 would have contributed in 62% of the games needed for a pennant, which is where the difference lies IMO.

Posted 11:33 p.m., July 16, 2002 (#32) - jimd
  >> From what I understand his numbers for the 1874 NA say something like 77% defense, as opposed to the assumption of about 32.5% defense Bill James works with in Win Shares (which is pretty valid for modern times).

This I would like to hear more about. This suggests that the pitching portion of a pitcher's WS will be cut down by factors of 2 to 3. (The hitting portion will stay constant, and pitchers did make significant positive contributions as hitters; Spalding led Boston in plate appearances in 1874, suggesting that he may have batted leadoff at least part of the year; it's certainly doubtful he batted in the 9-slot.)

I would also point out that it means that defensive WS will go up by a factor of 2 or more. The position players WS/G will then increase, perhaps dramatically for the C/SS/3B fielders.

Posted 11:03 a.m., July 17, 2002 (#33) - John Murphy
  Matt B:

The easiest way to correct the problem is to find out the standard deviation of Win Shares per season.

My point before was in regard to the Hall of Merit only. We should be comparing players from roughly the same time period, so we shouldn't (if we elect wisely) have to worry about comparisons with today's players. I don't think we'll have a situation where a player has to wait over ninety years (such as Bid McPhee) before he's elected.

Posted 12:35 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#34) - MattB
  Joe wrote:

"As for the procedural things -- Rob I agree weekly will probably be the way we go.

After the first election we'll only have to add the new eligibles to our assessment/ballot, so we'll all have our personal rankings, and we'll just need to slot the new guys. Of course our personal rankings may shift as discussion continues, etc. But the really heavy work will be in sorting this first group out, after that it's evaluating how the top new candidates compare to the established eligibles. So I think one week is plenty of time for this."

Gee. Weekly seems pretty often. If I submit my ballot on Friday, how long will it be before you've tabulated them all to see who has won? Can you turn it around in a day or two? You can't start thinking about the next ballot until you know who will be eligible.

Assume a two day turnaround (which seems pretty ambitious to me). That only leaves five days to consider new entrants, re-slot the remaining eligibiles, and re-submit your votes. Plus, if I recall, you have wanted us to include explanations along with our ballots. I hope no one's planning to go on vacation for the next two years!

I would assume that most people will devote most of their attention to the top positions in their ballots, without worrying whether a guy is really the sixth or seventh best candidates. It is only as they move up the list that more critical analysis is necessary. Same thing with positions. If my favorite shortstop hasn't made it in yet, I'm not going to worry about where I put my second favorite on the ballot as much. Once he goes in, I would want to re-examine my second favorite shortstop (maybe 8th on my last ballot), and pay more attention to where he should be placed against other players.

Plus, if my favorite player, who I think is a shoo-in, turns out to be far lower on the ballot than I expected him to be, I'm going to want to marshall some arguments in favor of him. But if half the ballots for next year are submitted by the time I can do any further research, it won't really make a difference.

I'd advocate (at minimum) a week of discussion and politicking, followed by a week of open polls for balloting.

Sure, it would take longer, but as time goes on, and we're no longer picking the best of the best in each election, the gradations become finer and involve closer inspections.

Posted 1:11 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#35) - Craig B
  I agree that two weeks is much more sensible!

Posted 2:11 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#36) - scruff (e-mail)
  Agreed Matt, two weeks is much more reasonable. I forgot about the time it will take to actually add up the ballots. Four years seems so far away. It's a whole bachelor's degree or Olympics from now . . .

Posted 2:44 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#37) - MattB
  On the other hand, it'll be just in time to start ranking Gwynn, McGwire, and Ripken on our ballots.

Posted 8:06 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#38) - jimd
  When the pitching WS are posted, would it be possible to see both the "raw" WS (Bill James formula) and the adjusted WS numbers? It'd be nice to see how large the adjustments are.

Posted 8:37 p.m., July 17, 2002 (#39) - jimd
  An example of how the pitching/defense balance will affect the discussions within just the position players. I know that career totals aren't everything, but here is a top-10 position players based on the career Win Shares posted so far. (I know, the NA is not yet included in these numbers.)

567 1B - Anson
488 LF - O'Rourke
488 1B - Connor
475 1B - Brouthers
421 RF - Kelly
419 LF - Hines
381 1B - Stovey
377 2B - McPhee
370 CF - Gore
360 SS - Glasscock

Here is a modified list based on the crude expedient of doubling the Defensive Win Shares to compensate for halving the pitching shares.

630 1B - Anson
557 LF - O'Rourke
541 1B - Connor
509 1B - Brouthers
500 2B - McPhee
497 RF - Kelly
492 LF - Hines
488 SS - Glasscock
446 CF - Gore
427 1B - Stovey

McPhee and Glasscock now become comparable to Brouthers instead of Stovey in career value. (This is just an example of the methodological issue that we face.)

Posted 5:21 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#40) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  Please add me to the list.

Posted 5:31 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#41) - Rob Wood
  Concerning the split between offense and defense in 19th century baseball, I am confident that the "intrinsic" weights allocated to the defensive positions are quite different than they are today. I imagine that the third baseman, left fielder, and first baseman are more important in 19th century ball. Second baseman, right fielder, and center fielder are probably less important compared to today.

Is this a settled issue? Does Bill James adequately address this issue? Are we planning on using the defensive win shares from James, and then scaling them up to reflect the additional importance of fielding (relative to pitching) in 19th century ball?

Posted 8:34 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#42) - jimd
  To my knowledge, Bill James has shown little interest in 19th century baseball. He runs the numbers through his formulae and then says "I don't trust these results", leaving it up to others to explore where he doesn't care to. Which of course is fine; he's not our employee.

All I'm attempting to do is dramatize the situation by doing crude back-of-the-envelope adjustments to show the magnitude of the problem by demonstrating potential impacts. As I've stated before, I don't have the time or resources to do the real work, though I'm extremely interested in the results.

There's been talk of presenting "adjusted" pitching WS. This is fine, but if pitching has less impact, then fielding must have more, and those must be presented too.

I don't doubt that the relationships between the positions have changed. James discusses the shift in the defensive spectrum, 2B vs. 3B, in his Win Shares book, because it occurs during the 30's, part of the "modern" baseball he cares about. I am fairly certain that there is a shift like you mention, LF vs RF, during the 19th century. Before substitutions were allowed (without the consent of the opposing team), the backup pitcher often played RF in case he was needed; presumably he wouldn't have to make too many plays, but could catch and make a strong throw when necessary.

Posted 8:49 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#43) - Craig B
  Radical thought...

What if we decided to vote every two years, instead of every year, and doubled the number of players elected off each ballot?

This would result in a much quicker time frame overall, white retaining the moving-through-the-eras approach.

Thoughts?

Posted 10:41 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#44) - MattB
  Craig,

If the intent is to induct up to five people in later years, doubling the numbers would require us to vote for ten people, where the top ten would be inducted.

I don't know how many people are expected to vote, but I'm guess that, if its around 100, it would only take a handful of ballots to get a guy into the top 10.

Increasing the number of inductees allows a more marginal candidate to slip in if he has a small contingent of supporters. Assume 10% of voters love Ross Barnes, and the other 90% think he was a NA flash-in-the-pan. Ten voters give him first place votes, the other 90 don't vote for him at all. That might be enough to get him onto a top 10 list.

Is a guy a HoMer is 90% of the voters think he wasn't worthy of even a tenth place vote?

As it is, the voting process is subject to the Palmiero-gold-glove fiasco where the vote was split 15 different ways and a marginal candidate slipped in with a bare plurality.

It's been scientifically proven (economist named Arrow, I think) that anytime there is more than 2 options, there is no such thing as a majority will. Every vote is biased in favor of how the election is structured, and there is no way to "fix" the problem, because there's no right answer.

The only defense against this kind of problem is, generally, consensus. I am assuming that, for the most part, the people who are inducted will generally be on a majority of ballots somewhere. I may think Roger Connor is better than Cap Anson, but if Anson gets in first, and I only have him, say, seventh on my ballot, I don't really have a valid complaint.

If the top 6 or 8 or 10 guys on the ballot get in, chances are a sizeable chunk (sometimes even a majority) of the inductees will be people I (and everyone else) didn't consider a top 10 candidate.

Personally, I'm opposed to letting anyone other than the top candidate in, because it increases the risk of a marginal candidate with a small, strong following becoming chosen (I'd prefer two elections where only the top candidate gets in to one election where the top two get in.) That, however, is probably not practical.

Generally, a Barnes-like figure who may end up number 10 in total votes, may not end up in the top one or two (or even top five) after 10 individual votes. As Bill James wrote re: Palmiero, have a wide enough field of candidates, and eventually David Duke will be elected to something. The fringe Klansman will get his 12% no matter who he's running against, and the 8 moderate candidates will get 11% each from voters who would put the the other 7 moderates ahead of Duke (their 8th choice).

Posted 11:22 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#45) - scruff (e-mail)
  Very good points Matt. would adding more people to the ballot (say voting for the number elected, plus 10, instead of just 10) help or make it worse? I definitely want to avoid these types of problems.

Jim -- you are definitely correct about RF vs. LF. Robert has done replacement studies, and RF was worse than the modern DH. Not so much on the 1B side, although it was a little better than today, IIRC.

I think a big reason for this is that pitchers weren't throwing 98 and almost everything was pulled. Most of the hitters were RH, so naturally there are going to be a lot more plays for the LF/3B/SS.

I think WS will take this into account though, because if the LF's are making more plays, they are going to get more WS. James considers OF one 'contingent' in splitting out defense and then gives credit to the individual fielders based on the number of plays they made (minus adjustments for errors, assists, etc.). I don't think it's an issue.

Also for 1B he estimates unassisted putouts, etc. If they were making more plays, they'll get more credit. It's a pretty solid system in this respect, lots of self-correcting things like this.

If someone has the time (I don't right now) take the LF's and RF's and divide their defensive WS by their season numbers quoted. I think you'll see the LF's come out significantly ahead. The numbers will be a little soiled by players playing other positions, but that's just another sign that the players were better fielders.

Posted 11:30 p.m., July 18, 2002 (#46) - scruff (e-mail)
  Matt -- would designing the ballot something like 15 people (first year we elect 5), with points going 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3 work better? Getting on the ballot would be more important than where a guy finished, and thus make it harder for a strong minority to push a candidate through.

It would also make it easier to fill out your ballot. You don't have to decide if Roger Connor was better than Dan Brouthers. Vote them 2-3 and they each get 6 points. Or vote them 5-6 and they each get 5 points. That style ballot also shows the extreme end of the bell curve pretty well. I really like this idea, please point the flaws I'm not seeing out. If not, I'm strongly recommending this is how we do it. I don't remember this suggestion on the old threads.

I'm going to set up a few different threads tomorrow if I get a chance. I'll make one for ballot construction. One for a managers/execs/contributors wing also, since I've gotten some email on this. Any other suggestions for threads?

Posted 9:53 a.m., July 19, 2002 (#47) - MattB
  First, you have to decide whether there is a problem. Some earlier comments suggested that we allow people to have extra votes to scatter around their ballot. Extra votes would exacerbate the "vocal minority" problem, but would decrease the "strength of feeling" problem where people with a (say) 7-6-6-5 ballot don't feel that a first place vote adequately expresses how strongly they feel that the candidate was the best (or, by how much he was better than the second place guy), so want some extra votes to show how quantity of feeling.

Neither is the right answer, you just have to know that any choice involves trade-offs, and you have to decide which trade-offs you are making.

Scruff, your suggestion really had two parts: (1) change to ballot structure to 7-6-6-, and (2) increase the ballot to 15 people. I will address each of them separately.

Assume: 100 voters
Assume: 10-9-8 . . 2-1 voting structure
Assume: Top 5 get in
Assume: Wedge candidate Ross Barnes would garner 35 first place votes, while 65 voters don't consider him a top 100 second baseman, so would never appear on their ballots.

Minimum votes necessary for admission: 600 (if everyone had the identical ballot, in practice, a candidate will get in with fewer)

Likely range for admission: I looked at MVP voting since 1990 and saw how many votes the 5th place guy got. I eliminated the "first place bonus", and found that in 1997, David Justice was fifth in the AL MVP voting with 90 votes (none for first) from 28 voters. 90/280= 32%. Therefore, I would consider it likely that a fifth place candidate will at some point get as little as 32% of the maximum possible vote. In this example, 320 votes.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1997.shtml#NLmvp

Result: Barnes gets 350 votes -- might very well get in. (say, 10% shot, maybe more because early votes should be very diffuse among more great candidates than a single MVP vote).

Variation A:

Same as above, but ballot is extended to 15 people, and vote is 15-14-13 . . . 2-1.

Result -- Barnes gets 35 X 15 = 525 votes. Maximum vote is 1500. On the "David Justice in 97" scale, fifth place is 480 votes, and Barnes gets in, just as above.

Variation B:

Back to ten person ballot. Vote is 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4

Result: Barnes gets 35 X 7 votes = 245. Maximum is 700. Don't know if or how the "David Justice" scale applies here. BUT, Assume David Justice received his 90 points though 22 seventh place votes (3 points each) and 6 sixth place votes (4 points each) = 90 votes. His vote total on the modified 7-6-6 scale would be (22X4) + (6X5) = 88+30= 118 out of a maximum of 28X7= 196, or 60% of the maximum. 60% of 700 is 420. Barnes misses by a longshot.

Variation C:

Same as variation B, but with the full 15 person ballot scaled 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3.

Results: Barnes still gets 245 out of a maximum of 700, and misses on the "David Justice" scale by the same margin.

Conclusion: Changing the ballot structure from 10-9-8 to 7-6-6 will drastically reduce the chances of a Ross Barnes-like figure getting in. Extending the ballot from 10 to 15 will have no effect on whether Barnes gets in (It may even improve his chances a little, if he manages to pick up some 11-15th place votes).

Closing Thoughts: Despite the above example, I consider myself personally closer to the "Ross Barnes is the best second baseman ever" camp than to the opposite extreme. Before changing to a 7-6-6 ballot, consider the ramifications -- specifically there is a strong possibility that the PLAYER WITH THE MOST FIRST PLACE VOTES DOES NOT GET IN. In all of the above examples, I was assuming that, like David Justice in 1997, the field was very clear at the top (Griffey Jr. received every first place vote that year, and Tino Martinez received all but two second place votes).

It is entirely possible to get these results where Ross Barnes only appears on 35% of the ballots, but that he gets more first place votes than any other single candidate. MLB clearly wants to favor the candidate with the most first place votes for MVP, even if he fails to appear on some ballots, which is what you get if you choose a 14-9-8-7 voting structure. A 7-6-6 voting structure would almost certainly keep the wedge candidate out, but the question is -- Do you really want to do that?

Like I said at the top, there is no right answer.

Posted 10:07 a.m., July 19, 2002 (#48) - MattB
  Note, my link above goes to the 1987 NL MVP election results. Scroll up for AL results.

Looking back a little further, there were several players who got fifth place on the MVP ballot with about the same percentage of the maximum on a 10 point scale as David Justice. The lowest I found was Gary Matthews, who received 70 votes (none for first) in 1984. That's less than 30% of the maximum 240 on a 10-9-8 scale.

Posted 10:10 a.m., July 19, 2002 (#49) - MattB
  http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1948.shtml#NLmvp

Wait, I spoke to soon. 1948, Harry Brecheen, who I have never heard of, finished fifth with 61 votes out of 24 ballots, or about a quarter of the maximum on a 10-9-8 scale.

I'll stop now.

Posted 12:32 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#50) - jimd
  Nice work MattB.

I just want to point out that the flatter you make the points distribution, the more the ballot resembles the HOF ballot (completely flat), but without the 75% minimum requirement which insures consensus. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your perspective.

Posted 4:05 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#51) - dan b (e-mail)
  I would prefer a system which would prevent an organized, vocal minority from imposing their will on the majority. What if we combined a 10-9-8 scoring system with a 51% minimum requirement?

Posted 4:06 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#52) - Marc
  I'm new here but enjoy the discussion. As to ballot configuration, somewhere along the way I saw the the basic idea of the MVP-style ballot was that people (we) are familiar with it. A 10-9-8...2-1 configuration, yes, a 7-6-6-5-5-5...well, clearly that is not a familiar format. Not to mention, half the fun is HAVING TO DECIDE whether Roger Connor is better than Dan Brouthers. Would it make more sense to stick with a 10-9-8...2-1 format with a minimum percent needed to qualify rather than a fixed number of winners? Consensus is a good thing, and so are appropriate standards.

As to adjustments to pitching and defense, I saw the adjustments for defense and frankly my gut tells me that McPhee and Glasscock probably should rate closer to Connor and Brouthers rather than way behind. But I didn't see whether the adjustments to the pitching WS were proposed as halving the raw WS or the adj WS. The latter seems right. Take John Clarkson 1885 for example. Raw WS is 62, adjusted to 162 games is 89, then half of that is 44.5? Is that right? 44.5 sounds better than 31 given two man rotations. Clarkson pitched over 600 innings in just 113 (team) games, worth two-fifths of a modern rotation, plus of course he was effective as hell (adj ERA 162). So 31 doesn't do his achievement justice. Do I have this right? Thanks.

Posted 5:01 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#53) - jimd
  To keep ourselves from getting confused (and I probably am one of the sources of confusion), I propose the following terminology.

BJWS: "raw" Win Shares, calculated using Bill James' formulae as published.

AWS: "adjusted" Win Shares, takes BJWS and adjusts them to a 162 game season. Important to normalize 19th century due to constantly changing schedule lengths. When we get to 154 game schedule, this adjustment will act like a 5% sales tax.

MWS: "modified" Win Shares, recalculates WS using modified formulas to change pitching/fielding balance.

Posted 5:10 p.m., July 19, 2002 (#54) - jimd
  So what I meant by my post of "8:06 p.m., July 17, 2002" was: that I'd like to see the AWS (to compare with the AWS published on the position player threads), in addition to the MWS (if that is what is indeed published for the pitchers).

Posted 9:02 a.m., July 20, 2002 (#55) - ChapelHeel
  I know some of the adjustments are still in the experimental stage, but taking a step back from the numbers for a sec: How does a guy like Bid McPhee become the 5th best non-pitcher on the ballot in total WS? I think the guy is a HoMer, but fifth?

No question he was a great defensive player. However, he was a .270 hitter in a hitter's era and in mostly hitter's parks....his unadjusted OPS crossed .800 only twice in 18 years. What would those hitting stats be in a park-adjusted and era-adjusted environment?
Bill James has him as the 30th best second baseman of all time. He had only 6 out of 18 years in which his park-adjusted RC/27 was more than 25% above the league RC/27. Based on the STATS Retroactive All-Star list, his hitting got him named to the All-Star team only 2 times in 18 years (the list doesn't take into account defense). His hitting is weak, even for his position, and everyone seems to acknowledge that 2b was more of a hitter's position in the 19th century.

I know that some of those stats aren't good measures (e.g, batting average) and that James doesn't do a great job with 19th-century players, so I agree adjustments should be made. I also agree that he is definitely HoMer material. But fifth? I don't think anyone would have taken McPhee in a straight-up trade with Paul Hines.

Posted 11:42 a.m., July 20, 2002 (#56) - John Murphy
  ChapelHeel (Chapel Hill, NC?):
My response is at the second basemen site.

Posted 2:56 p.m., July 20, 2002 (#57) - Rob Wood
  Maybe this belongs in the ballot structure test, but I have another procedural question. Now that we have decided to have pre-1900 players on the first ballot, have we decided how many people are going to be elected in each ballot? I see in Joe's original article that he proposed 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, ..., but this was when the first ballot contained pre-1910 players. So I think we need to scale back how many are elected given that we'll now have 10 more elections. (Sorry if this issue has already been discussed/decided, but if so I cannot find the record of it.)

One reason that I am posting this question now is that it is somewhat related to the issues pertaining to voting tallies and possible minimum percentage requirements. Thanks.

Posted 3:26 p.m., July 20, 2002 (#58) - Rob Wood
  One other thought on ballot tallying. The flatter the point system the less room there is for "strategic" voting, by which I mean giving a player more points than they deserve in order to maximize his chances of getting elected. Or, probably even worse, not voting for someone deserving in order to get your personal favorite elected instead.

Saying the same thing, a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ballot will encourage people to tailor their ballot in such a way as to try to have the greatest possible personal impact on the results. (The difference between 10 points and 1 point is very large, whereas the difference between 1 point and 0 points is negligible.) This is something that is very hard to avoid and something we should think about and discuss.

Posted 7:15 p.m., July 20, 2002 (#59) - Marc
  Concerns about ballot manipulation seem a little far-fetched. You're only going to have bona fide ballot manipulation on a border line candidate, obviously, so I did a little computation on that assumption. Say you've got a border line candidate--not a shoo-in but a consensus top ten. Say he is placed on every one of 100 ballots but in the following distribution from 1st to 10th: 0, 0, 1, 5, 9, 15, 19, 21,17, 13 = 358 points. Based on the David Justice discussion, this is worth 4th or 5th place at best, if all the other votes are widely distributed, but probably more like 6th or 7th place. Now let's say a minority of eight voters all place this individual first, and he gets one less vote each at 3rd through 10th. Now the total is 402 which probably moves him up one spot.

This analysis also suggests that getting 501 votes (50 percent plus 1 of maximum among 100 ballots) is pretty slim. Maybe that's good, maybe that's what is wanted. Chances of anyone getting 75 percent plus 1 is of course slimmer yet. I would guess votes on this first ballot will be pretty widely distributed.

So anyway, what about a run-off procedure? A nominating ballot to reduce from 25 or whatever to 10. With 10 then a 75 percent requirement would be fair. With 25 and no Ruths or Cobbs or Wagners, I'm not sure if you can get a 50 percent consensus, much less 75.

Posted 7:34 p.m., July 20, 2002 (#60) - jimd
  On AWS: I don't think anyone is making the assertion that these numbers are an "extrapolation" of the players performance. In other words, that if he had played 162 games, this is what he'd have done. (This is particularly ludicrous on the pitchers.) I believe the intent is to simply scale the numbers to a constant season length. This shows the impact of the players numbers, and makes comparisons easier. This is a "value" oriented number, as opposed to an "ability" oriented number, which is what you might get if you folded in factors like career rates, performance in adjoining seasons, pitching inning limits, etc. to get a "reasonable" extrapolation.

As an extreme example of this, consider Al Spalding in 1872. I have come up with an estimate for him of having earned approx. 51 WS in a 48 game season. This scales to 172 AWS for the 162 game season. Before anyone howls in protest, consider this. Spalding had an 188 ERA+, comparable to Randy Johnson last year at 184. Spalding also tied for 5th in RBI. Imagine having Randy able to pitch everyday and also hit like, say, Pujols (29WS); Randy pitched 1/6th of the Arizona innings and earned 26 WS. 6 Randys plus Pujols adds up to 185 WS (or 55 WS in 1872). The impact or value comparison is not that far off (particularly if you consider how crude my 51 WS estimate is).

I'm not saying that Spalding could do 172WS over a 162 game season. I'm saying that that number approximates his value to Boston in the 1872 season. (At least it does if pitching as important in 1872 as it is today.) There is a difference.

Posted 7:47 p.m., July 20, 2002 (#61) - jimd
  There is always the possibility of MVP ballot manipulation. One of the most famous is the AL MVP vote in 1947 where Ted Williams lost to Joe DiMaggio by one point. It was later discovered that one writer had left the Triple-Crown winner (Ted) off of his ballot entirely. A 10th place vote would have made it a tie.

The current HOF ballot is not subject to that kind of manipulation because it is essentially an independent referendum on each candidate. Is he worthy? Yes or maybe. (No becomes the alternative only when the player is in his last year.) The flaw is due to the restriction on the number of Yes votes allowed, and only comes into play when there are too many qualified names on the ballot (like in the 40's).

Posted 11:42 a.m., July 21, 2002 (#62) - ChapelHeel
  Have any of you guys seen the "Baseball Immortals" page at http://www.baseballimmortals.net? It promotes itself as "an alternative to Cooperstown".

I haven't explored it, but thought some might be interested. It's got some great data on the player pages. The data is basically data we already have access to, but there are some interesting arrangements.

Posted 3:13 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#63) - Marc
  Sorry for cross-posting this (I just put it on the 1B discussion but note that there has been no discussion recently):

Where does Cal McVey fit in--I don't think I saw him as a C or a 3B or a 1B. He was a dominant player in the NA and deserves consideration to the same degree as Spalding, White and Barnes.

Posted 3:21 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#64) - Marc
  My comment re ballot manipulation was based in part on the assumption of 100 or so voters, significantly more than the 1947 MVP vote. I suppose a group of 10 to 15 could have the same impact here, but the analogy also fails in that in 1947 it was pretty obvious you had a two man race with only one winner. Here you've got a 25 man race with multiple winners.

The bigger question, I think, is whether we are indeed electing a fixed number or whether there is a fixed threshhold. (Has that been decided?) I'd rather get that right than worry too much about manipulation.

Another thing I worry about is that we all get carried away with our enthusiasm for this project, the result of that being that we have an unnatural desire to elect. Thereby lowering our standards.

Posted 7:27 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#65) - Craig B
  Scruff's declared intention is to get a Hall the exact same size as the Hall of Fame's player-only representatives... which I believe is 215 by 2002?

I think this is a good idea, and takes care of the lower/higher standards question. I am concerned that we get the number of electees in each year right, or at least reasonable, since we can back-weight the numbers (older players are still eligible down the road since no one loses eligibility).

jimd mentioned that One of the most famous is the AL MVP vote in 1947 where Ted Williams lost to Joe DiMaggio by one point. It was later discovered that one writer had left the Triple-Crown winner (Ted) off of his ballot entirely. A 10th place vote would have made it a tie. In fact, three writers also left DiMag off their entire ballot, an equally ridiculous decision. But at any rate, I don't see how this is "manipulation".

There are two principles we are supposed (as I understand it) to be following here: one, "serious voters only, please!"; and two, you have to be willing to stand up and defend your decision. I think this takes care of the "manipulation" question. If you don't believe that someone is one of the ten best candidates, and you can and will defend that decision, then by all means vote that way and "manipulation" be damned. Likewise, if you think Ozzie Smith is #1 on your 2002 ballot, vote that way. "Manipulation" is what people shout when a ballot doesn't go the way they wanted (or more legitimately, when it's decided that we won't count ballots and we'll just "declare" a winner :)

On the other hand, if you won't defend the decision, or give spurious reasons... "I just don't think so" isn't good in my view... then we can throw those votes out.

Does that sound reasonable?

Posted 11:28 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#66) - DanG (e-mail)
  On July 18, jimd wrote:

"To my knowledge, Bill James has shown little interest in 19th century baseball. He runs the numbers through his formulae and then says "I don't trust these results", leaving it up to others to explore where he doesn't care to. Which of course is fine; he's not our employee."

Recently on the SABR-L board was this posting. I think it's pertinent to our discussion here:

"Subject: Re: Win Shares and the Hall of Fame
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 13:46:32 EDT
From: BilJames@aol.com

Bill---

Thanks for sending me the Win Shares/Hall of Fame analysis.

The largest flaw in the Win Shares system at this point is in the
evaluation of 19th century pitchers. The system assumes, unwisely, that
the role of the pitcher in pre-1890 baseball is ESSENTIALLY the same as in
modern baseball. This was not a good assumption. At the onset of major
league baseball the pitcher had the role of "starting the action"; he was
not allowed to throw overhand, and batters would request pitches of a
certain height.

For this reason, we should have started the game with a much lower
value for pitchers, and gradually increased this until the pitcher achieved
(essentially) his present significance in the mid-1890s. If we get a
chance to review the system and re-calculate, we will make these
adjustments, and this will lower somewhat the values for pitchers of the
1880s.

I mention this because I want to be careful about contributing to a
"Tony Mullane for the Hall of Fame" campaign. While Mullane was certainly
an outstanding pitcher, and is certainly AMONG the best players not in the
Hall of Fame, I am not convinced he is actually THE most valuable player
not in the Hall of Fame. This may be a temporary conclusion based on a
slight miscalculation. I would hate to see this used to make a permanent
addition to the Hall of Fame roster, at least until we get a chance to
review the method and see what the new results would be.

Thanks again. . .appreciate your interest in the Win Shares system.

Bill James"

Posted 11:32 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#67) - DanG
  I want to weigh in with a proposal on how to structure the HoM.

It has been suggested that we use �biannual� elections beginning in 1906 to reduce the time it takes to produce the HoM. That makes sense, up to a point. Here is my compromise to reduce the number of elections from 100 to 70.

How about we start with biannual elections from 1906 through 1966, our first 31 elections. In 1967, the HoF returned to annual elections, so I suggest we do the same at that point, through 2005.

A major aim of the HoM is to be able to contrast it with the HoF elections. In the end we want to have the exact same number of players as the HoF has. How many is that?

There are 189 men in the Hall elected for their play in the major leagues. Add to this 17 men elected for their play in the Negro Leagues, 3 pioneers (Spalding, G. Wright, Cummings) and two managers who may have been good enough to be elected as players (McGraw, Griffith). That makes a total of 211 players up to 2002.

My compromise will require 70 elections. Assuming biweekly elections, that covers 140 weeks (about two years and eight months) and takes us into April 2005. The Hall has now entered a period of fewer electees, so lets assume two players per year will be elected in the next three years. So I think we�re aiming for a membership of 217 players in the end.

How many should we elect each year? Someone pointed out the potential for lesser players making the HoM if too many were elected in one year. With this in mind, I suggest we elect no more than five in any one election. I also agree with the ideas embodied in Joe�s structure of electing more players at first (to take in the backlog) and in the end (to account for expansion).

Here is a proposed schedule for inductions:

1906-12 (4 elections)�5 each time�total 20 players
1914-20 (4 elections)�4 each time�total 16 players
1922-40 (10 elections)�3 each time �total 30 players
1942-66 (13 elections)�4 each time �total 52 players
annual elections begin
1967-84 (18 elections)�2 each time �total 36 players
1985-05 (21 elections)�3 each time �total 63 players
and if we want
2006-09 (4 elections)�2/3/2/3 �just to let the HoF know whom they should elect

A couple of comparisons will help illustrate the reasoning behind my scheme. The HoF contains 57 players retired through 1926, the first 50 years of retired major leaguers. That includes the 3 pioneers, 2 managers and about 10 questionable selections. In an older thread, I pointed out the dearth of good candidates retiring in the years 1918-26. This means the four elections in 1926-28-30-32 will be catching up years, the last elections that many dead-ball and 19th century stars will have a good chance at election. My proposal gives the HoM 54 players to the same point. (Players from the early days will remain eligible so it�s possible, but unlikely, a few more will be elected.)

The HoM falls behind the HoF after the 1932 election, as it should. For players retired through 1960, the HoF has 155 members, including the 17 Negro Leaguers. My proposal gives the HoM 118 players through the election of 1966. This �shortfall� is appropriate, because the HoF is terribly overstocked with retirees from the 30�s and 40�s. Also, the vast majority of deserving players overlooked by the Hall retired after 1960. We�ll catch up in our last two decades.

Up until the 1950�s, the HoM balloting will look significantly different from the corresponding HoF balloting. But from 1956-on, with their introduction of the 5-year wait and biannual elections, our new candidates can be compared with their performances on the HoF ballot.

My proposed scheme reduces our total number of elections from 100 to 70 while retaining the benefits of a close comparison with HoF voting results. Whadaya think? Any tweaking needed for this scheme?

DG

Posted 1:13 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#68) - Rob Wood
  Having spent the better part of the last year of my life enthralled in the Baseball Survivor group exercise (weekly votes to determine the ranking of the game's all-time greats), I can personally attest that the "voting manipulation" issue needs to be addressed up front.

The number of voters has little relevance, nor does restricting the ballot to "experts". Nor does a requirement that you justify your vote. We don't really expect every voter to accompany each vote with a long message detailing his/her reasons, do we?

The point is that every ballot will likely allow each and every voter to potentially affect the outcome of the election (this is a good thing), especially if we use a wide point spread. Once you admit to that possibility, you automatically allow the opportunity for voters to misrepresent their views in order to effectuate an outcome they prefer. This is especially true if there will be a fixed number of selections each ballot rather than a minimum vote tally requirement.

As someone has already pointed out, this is related to a famous theorem in economics which essentially proves that there is no voting system that cannot be manipulated by misrepresentation of voter preferences. The upshot is that great care needs to be paid to how to structure the ballot, determine how the ballots will be tallied and the election requirements.

If anybody thinks this is not a potentially important issue to address, they haven't thought very hard about it.

Posted 3:26 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#69) - MattB
  "As someone has already pointed out, this is related to a famous theorem in economics which essentially proves that there is no voting system that cannot be manipulated by misrepresentation of voter preferences. The upshot is that great care needs to be paid to how to structure the ballot, determine how the ballots will be tallied and the election requirements."

Actually, quite the opposite. Since every voting system can be manipulated, I don't think it's really worth much thought. A 10-9-8 voting system is the most intuitive. For any other system, the question is, does it solve a problems without creating any new ones? I'd be dubious of any one that does. If I think Babe Ruth is a shoo-in, what will stop me from burying him 6th or 7th on my ballot to give more points to more marginal candidates that I like? Changing the voting scheme to 7-6-6 may solve that problem, but doesn't allow for strength of feeling among the mass of voters that won't act "strategically". If two candidates stand above the rest, why should one have to share six points with the greatly inferior #3 candidate. Maybe we should allow bonus points so we can structure the ballot based on our preferences . . .

It is just a fact that ballot structure will effect the results. You cannot decide on a correct ballot structure without first deciding what result you want. Want Ross Barnes in? Make voting 14-9-8-7.

Want him out? Have a run-off between the top two vote-getters in every election, and only let in the top one.

None of these formats are "wrong". They will just all give you different answers. John McCain won all the "open primaries" (where Democrats could vote) but lost all the "closed primaries". Different states had different rules that led to different results. As long as your choices aren't binary, there cannot be a "correct" majority will.

"Strategic" voting is not necessarily wrong, either. People often for for their second favorite candidate in order to avoid having their least favorite candidate win. ("I'd prefer Nader (Buchannan) become President, but if I vote for him, it's really a vote for Bush (Gore), so I'll vote for Gore (Bush) instead.") Is the "correct" answer for everyone to vote for their first choice? No, a complicated voting structure just allows manipulation by those who think about it long enough.

The best answer, I think, is a 10-9-8 format. Everyone will vote stategically (but they would anyway), and the "right" candidates win.

Posted 3:32 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#70) - MattB (homepage)
  Anyone interested in learning how to manipulate voting results should be interested in reading the above link.

Posted 3:54 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#71) - Rob Wood
  I hesitate to continue the debate with Matt since he has obviously made up his mind (presumably based upon a great deal of thinking about the issue). However, the issue is still important to discuss. I think Matt and I agree on the underlying situation, but not on the ramifications for the HOM.

We all agree that how the ballot is structured (etc.) can, and probably will, affect the HOM results. In fact, as Matt points out, certain schemes are more likely than others to lead to certain HOM results. Some voting schemes are more manipulatable than others. Some schemes allow a voter to reflect strength of preference while others do not. Unfortunately, as a general rule, schemes that can reflect strength of preference are the most manipulatable.

I conclude that we should have discussions up front as to how we "balance" these competing objectives. I for one do not want to be part of a multi-year exercise that is bedevilled by unintended consequences of its core rules.

Reserving the right to retract this view at a later time, I would be in favor of each voter agreeing not to vote strategically. I believe this is in the spirit of what Joe and Robert and the other HOM progenitors had in mind.

Posted 4:45 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#72) - scruff (e-mail)
  I don't have a lot of time to comment right now, but great discussion guys!

"Reserving the right to retract this view at a later time, I would be in favor of each voter agreeing not to vote strategically."

I cannot say strongly enough how much I agree with this. I think this should be part of the 'oath' or whatever you want to call it. We should all agree not to do this.

Let's use Barnes as the example.

I don't think anyone could possibly think Ross Barnes was the best player of the 19th century, even the people that want him in. I mean the guy played 2 1/2 years after the age of 26. Calling him the best player of the 30 year period is pretty ludicrous on any level. He had a great 6-year run, but that's it. If you count career value at all in your evaluation, you'd have to rank a few players ahead of him at least.

As such, his supporters should not strategically place him first, just to override people that don't think he's worthy at all. That would be dishonest in my opinion. What we are asking with the ballot, very specifically I might add, is to rank the X (currently 10, subject to change though) best players in their opinion, in order. Use career, peak, whatever you think, but be honest in your rankings.

On the flip side, no one should completely discount Barnes' 6-year run, just because most of it was against weaker competition. Reasonable deduction for weak competition sure, but not complete disregard for his achievements. We're asking people to consider that period, so they should.

I'll get the schedule for inductees as it stands right now, along with the rationale up in the next few days (maybe it'll be another article. I urge everyone, especially the new people with questions, to go back through the prior discussions on the archive, much of the questions asked here have been discussed previously. I have no problem answering, but if you went back through, you might get an answer quicker, my time has been tight of late and I haven't been able to check up here as often as I should.

Posted 6:21 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#73) - MattB
  Rob wrote:

"I hesitate to continue the debate with Matt since he has obviously made up his mind."

Aw, gee. Where's the fun of that?

Honestly, when this discussion started a few months ago, the consensus seemed to be for a "bonus system" where we could allocate more points to top selections in some years, or spread them out over several candidates in others when no candidate stood out. I objected to that scenario because it seemed to manipulatable.

Now, the consensus appears to be for a "flatter" vote. That method seems less subject to manipulation, but also less flexible in terms of expressing preferences. I agree with the other poster who felt that voting just wouldn't be as fun if it doesn't matter who you vote second or third, because it wouldn't matter anyway -- they'd both get six points. A flatter voting scheme would also result in more "bunching" of scores, with little differentiation between the top groups of vote getters (and would be more likely to result in ties).

Actually, as I write, I am starting to wonder if there might be a correlation between "bonus points" supporters and those who prefer "peak value", and between "flat voters" and those who prefer "career value." I don't know why I think this, but the idea sound somewhat appealing.

Really, "manipulation" is just a dirty word for "strength of feeling". If a life-long Democrat registers Republican in Louisiana just to vote against David Duke in the primaries, is he being "manipulative" (bad) or "stategic" (neutral), or is he merely expressing his opinion that who does NOT get elected is more important (in this case) than who DOES get elected.

I personally, have no intention to do anything other than list ten names in my personal order of preference and have whatever point values assigned to them that the consensus determines is accurate. I doubt there will be large conspiracies for or against any particular candidate.

My point on the ubiquity of manipulation possibilities was merely intended to promote a simple 10-9-8 balloting structure that, I think, combines the twin goals of "strength of feeling permission" and "large point manipulation avoidance."

Scruff wrote:

"I don't think anyone could possibly think Ross Barnes was the best player of the 19th century, even the people that want him in. I mean the guy played 2 1/2 years after the age of 26. Calling him the best player of the 30 year period is pretty ludicrous on any level. He had a great 6-year run, but that's it. If you count career value at all in your evaluation, you'd have to rank a few players ahead of him at least."

I also would not have Ross Barnes at the top of my first ballot. Without looking too far down the road, though, I could see that those who consider him a top tier second baseman might have him third on their lists (of second basemen), and move him to the top after the first two are enshrined. If Bill James were voting, he would never be on the list, as he does not put Barnes in his list of top 125 second basemen. After several iterations, it does seem likely that Barnes might be one groups' top 2B choice (and ballot topper in some cases, based on peak value), while others would omit him altogether.

The same can happen for Negro Leaguers, due to the problems in comparing them to White Leaguers.

Posted 8:41 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#74) - MattB
  The more I think about it, the more I think "manipulation" is a red herring. "Come up with the system that decreases the chance of manipulation" is sort of putting the rabbit into the hat. You come up with a different answer than "Come up with a system that allows voters to best express their true preferences."

Anyway, I spent a few minutes trying to come up with an example, so here is my mock election. I got three voters, I will call them Scruff, John, and Matt (not their real names). Assume that the top 3 vote-getters get in.

"Scruff" votes solely based on total adjusted Win Shares, as calculated through the charts listed in each category in these weblogs. This is his ballot, which looks like a potentially reasonable actual ballot:

Cap Anson
Jim O'Rourke
Roger Connor
Dan Brouthers
King Kelly
Paul Hines
Harry Stovey
Bid McPhee
George Gore
Jack Glasscock

"John" bases his votes solely on the WS/162 that John Murphy has posted. His ballot, which also looks like a potentially reasonable ballot to me, looks like this:

Dan Brouthers
Tip O'Neill
King Kelly
George Gore
Pete Browning
Mike Moynahan
Roger Connor
Charlie Jones
Harry Stovey
Hardy Richardson

Voter three is named "Matt", and his ballot is what my ballot looked like when I first went through all the names without thinking about anything very closely. It will not look anything like my final ballot eventually will, but it seemed kind of reasonable to me at one time:

O'Rourke
Kelly
Connor
McPhee
Anson
Brouthers
Gore
White
Start
Stovey

Anyway, assume these are three actual lists by the three actual voters. No one is trying to manipulate anything. Here are the vote totals, using a 10-9-8 voting system:

King Kelly 23
Dan Brouthers 22
Roger Connor 20
Jim O'Rourke 19
Cap Anson 16
George Gore 13
Bid McPhee 10
Tip O'Neill 9
Harry Stovey 7
Pete Browning 6
Paul Hines 5
Moynihan 5
White 3
Start 2
Jack Glasscock 1
Hardy Richardson 1

Kelly, Brouthers, and Connor go 1-2-3, so they get in.

Now, assume a 14-9-8 "MVP" style voting system. Here are the results:

Dan Brouthers 26
Jim O'Rourke 23
King Kelly 23
Cap Anson 20
Roger Connor 20
George Gore 13
Bid McPhee 10
Tip O'Neill 9
Harry Stovey 7
Pete Browning 6
Paul Hines 5
Moynihan 5
White 3
Start 2
Jack Glasscock 1
Hardy Richardson 1

Brouthers, O'Rourke, and Kelly go in. Using the "bonus" points, O'Rourke gets in, and Connor gets bumped.

Now, let's see who wins with a 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4 system:

Dan Brouthers 17
King Kelly 17
Roger Connor 16
Jim O'Rourke 13
George Gore 13
Cap Anson 12
Bid McPhee 9
Harry Stovey 8
Tip O'Neill 6
Paul Hines 5
Pete Browning 5
Moynihan 5
Jack Glasscock 4
Hardy Richardson 4
White 4
Start 4

This time, it's Brouthers, Kelly, and Connor again, but in a different order than the first time. George Gore moves into the top 5 on this system, but otherwise the top 5 is the same as the other two (although all three have them arranged differently).

I probably could have arranged my examples better, but I did this pretty quickly. You can see how a 7-6-6 style bunches the votes together, while a 14-9-8 system spreads them out. It's not clear to me, assuming that the votes show honest preferences, which one gives the "right" answers.

Anson's exclusion of the "John" ballot (he's not in the Top 10 is WS/162) hurt most on the 7-6-6 ballot, dropping him to sixth, because he only gets 7 points (rather than 10 or 14) for his first place vote by "Scruff".

The MVP style ballot helps O'Rourke over Connor, because O'Rourke gets a first place vote from "Matt," giving him 4 extra points, even though he also fails to appear of the "John" ballot. Connor is hurt because, although he appears on all three ballots, he doesn't get any first place votes.

The straight 10-9-8 ballot helps King Kelly most. His fifth, third, and second place appearances make the highest total, good enough for first overall absent any "bonus" points for first place.

Just looking at the three ballots, none of which strike me as overly bizarre, it's not clear which of the three methods leads to the better result.

But I thought some actual numbers might show some of the issues involved.

Posted 9:46 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#75) - Rob Wood
  Thanks Matt for showing the example; I think it does a good job of illustrating some issues. Okay, I'm willing to let go of the strategic voting issue. For the time being, let's suppose that every HOM voter takes an oath promising to not vote strategically (details to follow).

Now, even under that scenario, it is not clear what is the "correct" voting scheme. It depends on what we are trying to capture here, and on our underlying assumptions about the inputs (voter "preferences" over HOM worthies).

There are several questions pertinent here. Do we want each voter to express his/her opinion on the HOM worthiness of each candidate? Or do we want each voter to express his/her opinion on the relative value of all candidates on the ballot? These are related but different questions. Also, do we fix the number of selections per ballot (which I kinda like) or let it free float based upon minimum vote requirements?

An idea that intrigues me is to give each voter X number of points. The voter can allocate those points however s/he wants among all the players on the ballot (pile them up on only a few players or spread them out over several players). Either the top N vote-point getters are selected or all those who receive more than Y vote-points are selected, or some combination of the two. I guess this is similar to the bonus point scheme Matt mentioned above.

The reason this may be attractive is that MVP-type ballots (e.g., 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) seem more suitable to expressing your opinion about who was the single best player in the league (MVP, Cy Young). But it is not immediately clear that this is the best way to express your opinion as to who belongs in the HOM.

Returning to my original point, even abstracting from the strategic voting issue, a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ballot seems to me to be far too steep than appropriate. Giving a player 1 vote will very likely be operationally equivalent to not voting for him at all. And it will do a lousy job of reflecting my preferences for who is a Homer.

There is no way that the 10th guy on my ballot will be 10 times less "worthy" than the 1st guy on my ballot. Let's look at the opinion's of Matt's three hypothetical voters above. I would hazard a guess that each voter has more like a 2-1 ratio of worthiness from his top to his 10th best player on his respective list (Anson vs. Glasscock, Brouthers vs. Richardson, or O'Rourke vs. Stovey). 3-1 at the outside. That's my intuition anyway.

One last thought. I am wondering if anyone thinks the following experiment would be illuminating. Draw 1,000 random numbers from a normal distribution. Look at the distribution of the averages of the top 10 draws over many trials. My half-baked idea is that the 1,000 represents how many major leaguers are (essentially) on each ballot. 10 represents how many are really Homer candidates. The spread of these 10 "values" (such as career WS) may reflect a typical voter's worthiness scale over his/her top 10 candidates. If I can figure out how to run the experiment, I'll try to do it tomorrow.

P.S. Maybe the experiment should be to draw "true" values for the 1,000 players, and then draw 100 sets of noisy values around these values to reflect the 100 voters' perceptions. Then, over many trials, look at different voting schemes to see which type of scheme does the best at reflecting the underlying truth.

Posted 11:16 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#76) - Marc
  First, I would certainly support the concept of a "loyalty oath" though I am not comfortable that "we" would ex post facto decide that a voter was being "strategic" because of who they did or did not vote for. This sounds a bit too much like the Supreme Court deciding afterwards which votes to count and not count.

Second, Matt's analysis was extremely helpful in clarifying the issues. I find the 7-6-6-etc. system very uncomfortable mostly because I LIKE splitting hairs down the list, but also, as Matt points out, because the vote tally bunches up so much. In a perfect world, there might be a clear split between winners and non-winners.

I also prefer the 10 point tops versus 14. I would expect that anybody concerned about voter manipulation would prefer 10. Also no one player initially will be 1.4X better than the next. 10-9-8-etc. seems to me to do the best job of forcing all of us to split hairs, and a hairsbreadth more often than not represents the real differential among the players.

My biggest concern, frankly, is avoiding the very problem that has given rise to the HoM in the first place--weak candidates sliding through. I would much rather have a minimum vote requirement than 5 automatic winners. Matt's analysis shows that the 5th player in each of the three scenarios had 53.3 percent (10-9-8-etc.), 47.6 percent (14-9-8-etc.) and 61.9 percent of the maximum. In the case of the 10-9-8-etc. system I'd like to see the winners get something MORE than 53.3 percent of the max. I don't know if that's 55 percent or 60 percent--67 percent might be too high. But a minimum. With a failsafe, which is, if nobody gets elected, then have a run-off of some number (maybe the top five) with only one winner regardless of percent.

This could of course result in vastly underpopulating the HoM. But how can we avoid allowing weak choices to slip through--especially given our natural enthusiasm for electing people?

Posted 11:26 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#77) - MattB
  Rob,

I see what you are saying about the 2-1 ratio. In fact, the difference from Anson to Glasscock in WS (567 to 360) is less than 2-1, and the ratio of Brouthers to Richardson in WS/162 is even less.

My biggest problem with 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4 is that it does not distinguish between 6 and 10 at all.

Perhaps a compromise position is a 20-19-18. . . 13-12-11 ballot.

It preserves the distinctions between all ten positions, but also adds a 10 point "on the ballot" bonus. If two players have the same vote total on a 10-9-8 scale, the one that appears on more ballots would win on a 20-19-18 scale. These are the results based on my example above:
King Kelly 53
Dan Brouthers 52
Roger Connor 50
George Gore 43
Jim O'Rourke 39
Cap Anson 36
Bid McPhee 28
Harry Stovey 25
Tip O'Neill 19
Pete Browning 16
Paul Hines 15
Moynihan 15
White 13
Start 12
Jack Glasscock 11
Hardy Richardson 11

You can see that it is generally the same (orderwise) as the 7-6-6 ballot, but breaks the majority of the ties that are inherent in giving a lot of people the same number. Specifically, Gore and O'Rourke, who ended up tied for fifth place in the 7-6-6 ballot (we would need a procedure for ties anyway), are separated by 4 votes, with Gore taking fifth place alone. Kelly also passes Brouthers for uncontested first place.

This could work similarly with a 15-14. . . 7-6 ballot (2.5 times difference between first and tenth), with a smaller gap between 'ballot-worthy' or 'non-ballotworthy'.

Posted 11:40 p.m., July 22, 2002 (#78) - DanG
  To comment on a couple of points raised by Rob. He wrote:

"We don't really expect every voter to accompany each vote with a long message detailing his/her reasons, do we?"

Well, yeah, we kinda do. Not so much a LONG message. But at least a sentence or two indicating the direction of the reasoning.

Rob also wrote:

"I for one do not want to be part of a multi-year exercise that is bedevilled by unintended consequences of its core rules."

Yes, a central issue. Which is why we began thrashing out this structure over six months ago. I want to reiterate the idea that new readers here should go back and read the old threads.

One direction we could take is to have voters assign a point value to every player on the ballot. Earlier, a consensus indicated we would use a 100 player ballot for each election. We could adopt a structure similar to the following. On each ballot, voters will assign:

10 points to 3 players
9 points to 4 players
8 points to 5 players
7 points to 6 players
6 points to 8 players
5 points to 10 players
4 points to 12 players
3 points to 14 players
2 points to 17 players
1 point to 21 players

However, there is still the concern over rogue ballots; how should we handle highly idiosyncratic ballots? I say throw them out. But not arbitrarily.

Whatever structure we adopt, we should decide to eliminate the most extreme ballots cast. I don't think it would be that hard to use a system where each ballot could be "scored", calculating the amount of difference from the mean or average ballot cast. We would also adopt a set percentage to throw out, say 10%, (I think that 90% of our voters will have a conscientious and honest approach to their voting.) so that in each election the 10% "most different" ballots will be eliminated from the tallying.

I think if we do this it will discourage voters from straying too far from the consensus of the discussion. Voters who ignore the discussion, or are simply out of step with the consensus of our informed electorate, will have their ballots nullified. There isn't really any need to tell them, either.

DG

Posted 12:04 a.m., July 23, 2002 (#79) - jimd
  On Bid McPhee and Al Spalding: (or fielding vs pitching, again)

I did some more rough work with the National Association numbers and Al Spalding. Estimated AWS in the established format look like:

805 - 172,140,125 - 684 Al Spalding 5.81 seasons (detailed breakdown not available) His rate is, what, 138.55?

Babe Ruth has an adjusted total around 810 (756 BJWS). As incredible as Spalding's adjusted numbers may seem, they are not out of line for Randy Johnson if he pitches every day and can hit. 6 years of that is about as valuable as Babe Ruth's career.

If we believe that pitching numbers from the 19th century have the same interpretation as they do today, we are forced to the conclusion that the position players are not that important, at least not until they can pile up long careers. Using BJWS (or AWS), the MVP every year before 1899 is a pitcher; no position player ever gets within 10%. The position players would need a "Cy Young" style award to get any recognition. Peak value discussions will be about pitchers. It is a pitcher's game, except they have a tendency to burn out quickly (get hurt?) and have short careers.

The alternative to this picture is that fielding is much more important than it is today. Which was the point of my list above, where Bid McPhee was number 5 in career DFWS (Double Fielding Win Shares). These are not calculated with any precision, they are simply based on two principles: 1) run prevention is as important as run scoring, and 2) if the pitchers aren't preventing the runs then the fielders are. So let's double the fielding win shares and see what happens (This changes the balance of pitching:fielding balance from 2:1 to 1:2).

McPhee and Glasscock are the players with the long careers and high defensive WS totals who are most likely to benefit when reallocating their team's wins due to any shift of responsibility from pitching to fielding. It's a see-saw; if pitching goes down, then fielding goes up.

By the way: using DFWS, Spalding has a total of about 485, comparable to that block of Brouthers, McPhee, Kelly, Hines, and Glasscock.

Posted 12:09 a.m., July 23, 2002 (#80) - jimd
  BTW, that original voting discussion is not currently accessible in the archives. There is a problem with the link.

Posted 9:27 a.m., July 23, 2002 (#81) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  I realize that given my limited postings on thie site this message might come at my expense, but it strikes me that the best way to get a quality Hall of Merit is to have a very simple ballot design (10-9-8-etc. works for me; although a smaller ballot say 5-4-3-2-1 might work even better given that we are trying to identify the super-elite) and a highly knowledgable electorate committed to putting in the time to do its homework and to avoiding strategic voting. Though I wouldn't recommend this system for picking a President, how about we start out by assuming that everyone willing to put in their time is competent but allow the Powers that Be to screen out people who over a series of ballots don't sufficiently justify their votes and/or behave bizarrely (dropping and raising the same player for no discernible reason, putting Babe Ruth seventh because he struck out too much, etc.)?

Posted 1:41 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#82) - Eric Chalek
  Re Al Spaulding vs. Bid McPhee and pitching in general....

I think that Win Shares (and, no offense, the AWS estimates posted) dramatically overstate the value of pitchers in the 19th century. My line of argument may be redundant with previous posts, sorry if so, but just looking at the numbers on a macro level will tell you the story. K rates were dramatically lower as were HR rates meaning that fielders were required to make more, many more, plays than their modern or even early 20th century analogs. This also means that the role of pitcher was significantly different and perhaps even less important than today (pitcher as facilitator runs in the face of today's pitcher-centric viewpoint).

IMHO as the rules change to allow the pitcher more freedom in his delivery and more opportunities to challenge hitters and determine outcomes (for instance K rates go up signifcantly around the 1883-4 rules changes regarding deliveries [see below]), hurlers finally come to resemble modern moundsmen, so we probably need some kind of slidng scale to figure out how to adjust for that. A list of those rule changes is available at

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulechng.shtml

but I've copied some highlights in below. Notice that the number of called strikes and balls change frequently. 1884, 1887, and 1893 appear to be watershed dates in the modernization of the moundsman, but each year saw tinkering that affected the pitcher-defense relationship.

1879
The number of "called balls" became 9 and all balls were either strikes, balls or fouls.

1880
Base on balls was reduced to 8 "called balls."
The catcher had to catch the pitch on the fly in order to register an out on a third strike.

1883
The "foul bound catch" was abolished
The pitcher could deliver a ball from above his waist.

1884
All restrictions on the delivery of a pitcher were removed.
Six "called balls" became a base on balls.

1885
One portion of the bat could be flat (one side).

1887
The pitcher's box was reduced to 4 feet by 5 1/2 feet.
Calling for high and low pitches was abolished.
Five balls became a base on balls.
Four "called strikes" were adopted for this season only.

1889
Four balls became a base on balls.

1891
Substitutions were permitted at any point in the game.
Large padded mitts were allowed for catchers.

1893
Pitching distance increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches.
The pitching box was eliminated and a rubber slab 12 inches by 4 inches was substituted.
The pitcher was required to place his rear foot against the slab.
The rule allowing a flat side to a bat was rescinded and the requirement that the bat be round and wholly of hard wood was substituted.

1894
Foul bunts were classified as strikes.
Pitching slab was enlarged to 24 inches by 6 inches.
A held foul tip was classified as a strike.

1903
Foul strike rule was adopted by the American League.

1904
Height of the mound was limited to 15 inches higher than the level of the baselines.

Posted 6:02 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#83) - dan b
  I missed the first round of voting procedure discussions, please forgive me if this reflects thoughts presented before.

First, how will the procedure ultimately be determined? Do we have a commissioner or blue ribbon panel who will decide, or is this something we will vote on?

How many registered voters are there presently, and will others be able to join in after we get started?

I propose a system using a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ballot where only players who appear on 51% of ballots submitted are considered for enshrinement. This effectively gives every voter a "no" vote on any player not on their list and should avoid undesirable ballot manipulation results. If 49% of the voters rank Ross Barnes (not to pick on Barnes, we could call him Chick Hafey) #1 while the majority leave him off their ballot, Barnes does not get in regardless of his placement in the point tally. I would not require voters to list more players than they feel worthy of election - if it is their opinion that too many 19th century players have been already been selected, I would accept their blank ballot as a "no" vote on everybody.

I recognize that when there is a large pool of worthy candidates the possibility would exist that not enough players would be named on 51% of the ballots. In that case, a run off election could be held.

Posted 10:38 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#84) - scruff (e-mail)
  Great stuff Eric, thanks for the info!

I have to write my Bootleg column tonight, so I don't have a ton of time, but let me address the one thing that's got everyone questioning the system.

As this was designed the top X number of people in the voting (we'll leave how the voting is constructed alone for now) would be enshrined. X will depend on the year of election.

We set up a spreadsheet. The number of people elected in a given year is based on the number of 'team seasons' leading up to the election, of course we'll take time to catch up, not just elect our backlog of 19 HoMers for the 1906 election.

I'll outline the whole formula here, some of the final numbers are subjective.

Team seasons used in the calc:

1871-75: 0
1876-84: 8
1885-1900: 12
1901-45: 16
1946-64: 18
1965-71: 20
1972-79: 24
1980-95: 26
1996-00: 28
2001-next expansion +3: 30

The 0 for 1871-75 isn't an indictment, players from these years can be elected off the later numbers, this just represents the developmental level of the league at that time, we're looking for trends, not exact numbers).

There is a 3-year lag on all post-1901 expansions, to recognize that it takes time for the level of play to rise.

The increase of the number from 16 to 18 in 1946, despite a lack of expansion is to represent the increase in the competition level post-war, mainly through integration.

I could have lowered the numbers for the war years, etc. just didn't think it was worth the trouble, we're looking for basic trends.

Next we took the number of team seasons, and multiplied by .105. This is simply the wanted number (215 HoMers through 2002), divided by the total number of team seasons, we probably rounded it, honestly, I don't remember.

There is a lag of 13 years on the team seasons, and the number of players that should be enshrined. This is to pinpoint the middle of a 16 year career (so number of players is relative to the number of teams when they were playing), and then we add 5 years for the eligiblity lag upon retirement.

So the numbers say we should have 18.9 players at the first election. The number to be elected per year for the years thereafter (according the formula):

1907-13: 1.26
1914-58: 1.68
1959-69: 1.89
1970-77: 2.25
1978-84: 2.5
1985-92: 3.0
1993-2008: 3.25
2009-13: 3.5
2014-21: 3.75

Obviously we aren't going to elect 1.26 players per year or anything.

So this schedule works out the numbers to whole numbers:

1906: 5
1907: 3
1908-12: 2
1913-18: 1
1919-75: 2
1976-83: 2 odd years, 3 even years
1984-95: 3
1996-2008: 4 in leap years, 3 in other years
2009-14: 3 in odd years, 4 in even years.
2015-till next expansion + 13: 3 in leap years, 4 in other years.

We'll be 'caught up' in 1955, with 98 members in, and 98 the sum of the theory to that point. This is fine though. It give people more flexibility, if we feel the competition level was too low in the 19th century, we'll elect more modern players as the elections go by. If we err, it should be to the side of making players wait, as that gives more choice. If we err to the side of overrating 19th Century baseball, we'll elect inferior candidates.

I know it might seem like we are expanding too much at the end passing the HoF by. But from 1990-2001 (I think, I did this awhile back, going on the specifics from memory), the HoF elected 37 guys, and we'll elect 38. The Hall is electing just as many players as we will. Once we've caught up, there's no need to sway from our system, the goal is to have the same amount of HoMers as HoFers now, going forward, we'll just keep going with our system.

This is the basic plan for how players will be inducted. As always if any sees flaws, please bring them up. I'm pretty strongly against any kind of minimum vote standard or anything. It should be like an MVP vote, that's one of the foundations of the system.

A yes/no referrendum is exactly how the HoF problems arose. I'm vehemently against any kind of minimum standard because any minimum, either votes or points or whatever gets us back on the road that wrecked the HoF selections. I feel very strongly that it should just be the top X players, however we decide to determine them.

Posted 10:45 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#85) - scruff (e-mail)
  One note: the reason I think the minimum standard won't work is because it's arbitrary, just like the 75% rule for HoF elections. There's absolutely no way to know what number should be right. We'd just be pulling a number out of thin air, like the 75% number.

Posted 10:58 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#86) - Charles Saeger (e-mail)
  DanG: the system I devised fixes that.

Essentially, what I am doing is figuring three values:

* Runs that result from events charged only to the pitcher, like HR, BB and SO.

* Runs that result from events charged only to the fielders, like errors, outfield and catcher assists and DPs.

* Runs that result from everything else, namely hits.

The split is the pitcher-only runs and half the shared (hits) runs versus fielder runs and the other half of the shared runs. It scales nicely; here's the split for some seasons:

1874 NA 71.3% fielding
1884 NL 58.8%
1894 NL 45.1%
1908 NL 46.9%
1930 NL 37.5%
1941 NL 35.9%
1960 NL 33.9%
1967 NL 37.3%
1988 NL 37.3%
1997 NL 34.8%

The rate is always higher than James's base 32.5% rate. Considering Voros McCracken's research, I could argue that I am being generous for the pitchers' shares.

The second thing I wanted to say is about outfield Range Factors. In the 1874 NA, the left fielders earned the Range Bonus Plays (which James should not have calculated for outfielders, but that's another story). This is odd. The best explanation I heard for this phenomenon is the shortstop being away from the bag takes plays away from the center fielders -- but that doesn't explain the very low rates by right fielders and the high rates by left fielders. The pull rates are worthless, since batters do not pull flyballs.

Posted 11:29 p.m., July 23, 2002 (#87) - ChapelHeel
  Rob Wood wrote:

"An idea that intrigues me is to give each voter X number of points. The voter can allocate those points however s/he wants among all the players on the ballot (pile them up on only a few players or spread them out over several players). Either the top N vote-point getters are selected or all those who receive more than Y vote-points are selected, or some combination of the two. I guess this is similar to the bonus point scheme Matt mentioned above."

I think this is more subject to manipulation (and freak elections) than the other methods. In the corporate legal world, this type of voting is known as "cumulative voting". The concept of cumulative voting is to allow someone with less voting power an opportunity to have a greater say. In other words, some big 51% shareholder can't elect all the directors (even though the 51% shareholder bought a lot more shares). (Lest you be concerned about your own investments, cumulative voting is not permitted at most companies).

Anyway, cumulative voting is essentially a manipulative device to allow the little guy to trump the big guy. Our HOM ballot doesn't have the same concerns, because we all have the same number of votes and they are all of equal value. Accordingly, cumulative voting would introduce a manipulative (or manipulable) device to the HOM, but it would have no policy backdrop, because there's no "little voter" to protect. We're all equal.

Let's use the examples above, with the cumulative twist. Assume we gave every elector 55 votes. Suppose that there are 4 electors (for simplicity's sake). Two of those voters spread their votes in a 10-9-8-7 fashion, because they believe in that system.

Scruff:

10-Cap Anson
9-Jim O'Rourke
8-Roger Connor
7-Dan Brouthers
6-King Kelly
5-Paul Hines
4-Harry Stovey
3-Bid McPhee
2-George Gore
1-Jack Glasscock

John:

10-Dan Brouthers
9-Tip O'Neill
8-King Kelly
7-George Gore
6-Pete Browning
5-Mike Moynahan
4-Roger Connor
3-Charlie Jones
2-Harry Stovey
1-Hardy Richardson

Matt top loads his list, just a little:

15-O'Rourke
14-Kelly
6-Connor
5-McPhee
4-Anson
4-Brouthers
3-Gore
2-White
1-Start
1-Stovey

Jeff's loads up on Bid McPhee and gives a nod to a couple of other guys.

49-McPhee
1-O'Rourke
1-Kelly
1-Connor
1-Anson
1-Brouthers
1-Gore

Here's who got elected if you take the top 3 vote getters: McPhee (57), Kelly (29) and O'Rourke (25). McPhee was 8th on one ballot, 4th on one ballot, 1st on the manipulator's ballot, and omitted from another ballot, but he just got elected as the top dog. Maybe McPhee is a Hall of Famer so the heartburn isn't as obvious in the example, but what if McPhee in the example is replaced with Pop Smith?

This problem is less acute when you have 98 "normal" voters and 2 manipulators, but the more the normal voters spread their votes thin (or the more manipulators you have), the more power the manipulators would have.

This post could go on forever, so I think I agree with Matt. You can look at this 100 ways...all can be manipulated. I'm in favor of the simplest possible structure, so 10-9-8-7 is good for me, and I'll take an oath.

Posted 8:30 a.m., July 24, 2002 (#88) - scruff (e-mail)
  "The pull rates are worthless, since batters do not pull flyballs."

This might be true today, but when pitchers weren't throwing very hard and you could call your pitch high or low, I bet pull rates on everything were through the roof. I'd be very surprised if that wasn't the explanation.

Thanks for posting the pitching numbers Charlie -- there's a very nice progression there.

Posted 1:00 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#89) - DanG (e-mail)
  scruff proposed the following schedule of elections per year:

1906: 5
1907: 3
1908-12: 2
1913-18: 1
1919-75: 2
1976-83: 2 odd years, 3 even years
1984-95: 3
1996-2008: 4 in leap years, 3 in other years
2009-14: 3 in odd years, 4 in even years.
2015-till next expansion + 13: 3 in leap years, 4 in other years.

This compares pretty closely with the schedule I proposed here, with biannual elections through 1966:

1906-12 (4 elections)�5 each time�total 20 players
1914-20 (4 elections)�4 each time�total 16 players
1922-40 (10 elections)�3 each time �total 30 players
1942-66 (13 elections)�4 each time �total 52 players
annual elections begin
1967-84 (18 elections)�2 each time �total 36 players
1985-05 (21 elections)�3 each time �total 63 players
and if we want
2006-09 (4 elections)�2/3/2/3 �just to let the HoF know whom they should elect

I figured scruff's schedule gives us 217 players through 2002, not, as he said, 215. Anyway, I still think the right number is 211. Scruff's schedule would give us 227 HoMers through the 2005 election, 10 more than I think we should have.

Taking Scruff's schedule now and adapting it to the biannual-though-1966 approach gives us this schedule:

1906 & 08: 5
1910 & 12: 4
1914-24: 3 (6 elections)
1926-66: 4 (21 elections)
1967-75: 2 (9 elections)
1976-83: 2 odd years, 3 even years (8 elections)
1984-95: 3 (12 elections)
1996-2005: 4 in leap years, 3 in other years (10 elections)

I think it's important that we end up with EXACTLY the same number of players as the HoF. We want to be able to see at the end exactly which HoMers should replace which HoFers.

To eliminate the ten extra players, we could maintain two electees per year through 1986 and continue to elect three for all the rest, through 2005. This gives us this "modified-scruff" schedule:

1906 & 08: 5
1910 & 12: 4
1914-24: 3 (6 elections)
1926-66: 4 (21 elections)
1967-86: 2 (20 elections)
1987-05: 3 (19 elections)

This gives us 217 HoMers through our 70th election in 2005.

Posted 2:06 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#90) - jimd
  >> Thanks for posting the pitching numbers Charlie -- there's a very nice progression there.

Charles Saeger, it's also a tease. For this project, I'm on the edge of my seat, dying to know whether the changes are evolutionary or revolutionary (big changes when high impact pitching rules changes happen). Inquiring minds want to know more. Encore, encore.

Posted 2:21 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#91) - jimd
  >> A yes/no referrendum is exactly how the HoF problems arose.

scruff, I strongly disagree with this statement. "approval voting" is definitely appropriate for this kind of election, like the HOF. They required a very high standard of approval (75%) to insure that the writers were in strong agreement about a candidate's worthiness. The HOF's problem arose from putting an artifical limitation on the number of "Yes" votes. Combine that with a ballot overflowing with worthy candidates and deadlock developed. Add an old-timer's committee commissioned to induct some people pronto with inadequate research and then you had a big problem (unqualified people selected).

Please do not interpret this as me lobbying for a HOF style ballot here. I am quite curious about how the MVP ballot works out for this, and I think it should be the 14-9-8... scale for that reason. I'm agreeable with any variant on that that people come up with. My favorite was 4 bonus points for each candidate elected; i.e. 14-9-8... when electing one candidate, 14-13-8... when electing two candidates, 14-13-12-11-10-5-4-3-2-1 when electing five candidates.

Posted 2:42 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#92) - Rob Wood
  Just wanted to say that I am currently running some experiments (simulations) that may shed additional light on the ballot structure issue. I'll post the results later this afternoon.

Posted 7:39 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#93) - Rob Wood
  Okay, as promised, here are some results I hope will prove interesting. I performed a bunch of simulations into the impact of the voting structure. Let me say that in all of the simulations there were 1,000 players (think of this as the "universe" of potential MLB players), 100 voters, each voter voted for 10 players (except for one of the schemes, see below), and 5 players were elected.

I did 1,000 trials and averaged the results over the trials. In each trial, I drew 1,000 true values for all the players in the universe. The draws were from a normal distribution with mean 250 and standard deviation 75. Then for each of these 1,000 players I drew 100 perception values, one for each voter, where the draws were from a normal distribution with mean equal to the player's true value and standard deviation of 35.

Then voters voted according to their perception values. They voted for their top 10 players (except for one scheme). Votes were given different points according to what scheme was followed, and then the top 5 players who received the most total points were elected. I then compared how well the elections matched the truth (the top 5 players with the highest true values). I tried 5 different voting schemes and measured the results with 3 different metrics.

The five vote tally schemes. V1=10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. V2=1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. V3=14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. V4=20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11. V5=5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0. I could easily test other voting schemes if people want.

The three metrics from toughest to easiest. M1 simply counts how many of the top 5 best players (from the true values) were elected. M2 rewards different numbers of points to top-5 matches taking into account the rank both of the vote tally and the actual true values, giving more importance to electing the top players. Top vote getter gets 10 points if he was top true value, 8 points if 2nd true value, 7 if 3rd, 6 if 4th, and 5 if 5th. 2nd vote getter gets 7 points if 1st true value, 9 if 2nd, 7 if 3rd, 6 if 4th, and 5 if 5th. 3rd vote getter gets 5 if 1st, 6 if 2nd, 8 if 3rd, 6 if 4th, and 5 if 5th. 4th vote getter gets 5 if 1st or 2nd true value, 6 if 3rd, 7 if 4th, and 6 if 5th. 5th vote getter gets 5 if 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th true value, and 6 if 5th. (I apologize for all the details, but I think it is better if I present everything.)

The third metric M3 ignores where the player ranks in the vote tallies, but does care about the rank according to true value. If the top true value player is elected, that is worth 10 points. If the 2nd true value player is elected, that is worth 9 points. And so on all the way down to 1 point for the 10th highest true value player.

In the results below, I present the metrics as percentages of the total possible points. Hopefully this will make sense to people, but if not, feel free to ask for clarification (though I will not have access to the site for a couple of days starting tomorrow).

____ M1 M2 M3
V1: 71.7 90.2 98.4%
V2: 66.4 88.0 98.1%
V3: 70.6 90.0 98.3%
V4: 69.9 89.3 98.3%
V5: 50.5 75.4 88.1%

It looks like scheme 1 (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1), scheme 3 (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1), and scheme 4 (20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11) all do equally well, with scheme 2 (1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1) a little worse, and scheme 5 (5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0) a lot worse.

Remember my experiments were designed to exclude strategic voting and were based upon the premise that a fixed pre-determined number of players will be elected each election. Based upon our earlier discussions and these simulation results, I guess I'm in favor of a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ballot. I welcome comments from others.

Posted 10:36 p.m., July 24, 2002 (#94) - scruff (e-mail)
  Great stuff Rob, I'm glad someone's actually trying to objectively judge the voting system. It was one of my biggest hopes when I took this public (it originally started with just me doing everything for my own benefit, then I started MostlyBaseball, and so and so on).

Please give the 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4 or 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3 systems a try as well, if it's easy to do. Thanks! Also, if you are going w/5 electees, could you go with 14-13-12-11-10-5-4-3-2-1 voting as well? Thanks again!

I must say that I'm still up in the air, but I agree that the 10-down to-1 voting is in the early lead, although I'm hoping for the 14-13-etc. 5- down to -1 system to be the best.

Posted 10:32 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#95) - Marc
  You know, I'm on board with whatever voting procedure you guys come up with. And, sure, agonizing over the structure is important, not to mention part of the fun.

But one thing to remember is that the BBWAA voting is not the problem with the "real" HOF. The Veteran's Committee is the problem and there is no comparable structure or procedure contemplated here (thank goodness). That said, I don't understand the need to elect the same number of HOMers and HOFers. Now I recognize that this is not the same as saying that we are allowing the real HOF to establish the standard of excellence because they haven't established one. We will. Thank goodness again. I do feel that determining what and where that standard should be established is what the process is all about, not something that is arbitrarily determined ahead of time. That's no more logical than a 75 percent (or whatever) consensus requirement.

Posted 11:05 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#96) - Craig B
  Marc has an excellent point. How many mistakes have the Writers actually made? I don't think very many (wish I had my _Politics of Glory_ here to check).

Posted 11:11 p.m., July 25, 2002 (#97) - Craig B
  Marc has an excellent point. How many mistakes have the Writers actually made? I don't think very many (wish I had my _Politics of Glory_ here to check).

Posted 12:12 a.m., July 26, 2002 (#98) - jimd
  The bottom 5 by the writers, if you look at it from the POV of career WS:

181 Dizzy Dean
188 Rollie Fingers
194 Sandy Koufax
206 Catfish Hunter
207 Roy Campanella

Of course that's also why we should also take into account peak value and extenuating circumstances. (I also could have missed somebody.)

Posted 10:21 a.m., July 26, 2002 (#99) - scruff (e-mail)
  The BBWAA has been way too tough, their errors are errors of omission, because of the flawed ballot scheme and an arbitrary 75% of yeah/nay votes with no criteria to go on.

Because of the flawed BBWAA structure, the Veteran's Committee became a necessary evil, and their errors of commission come into the play.

The whole thing is just a mess, mainly because there was no foresight into structuring the initial rules.

Posted 3:00 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#100) - Marc
  I agree that the "whole thing" is a mess, the "whole thing" meaning the HOF's response to the BBWAA's failure to elect in some early election cycles. But the BBWAA over time has elected worthy players (mostly) and rejected unworthy ones (mostly, though how they missed Wahoo Sam Crawford is being me). The HOF responded by establishing a Veteran's Committee that elected unworthy players (mostly, at least early on). All of that is beyond challenge. That is why there is a HOM and I salute those of you who have given birth to this process.

But not to confuse ourselves. When we say the BBWAA has been "way too tough," what do we mean? Take second base as a case in point. Who that the BBWAA rejected should they have accepted? How many of the Vet's Committee choices should have been selected by the BBWAA? (The HOF roster is included here for reference.)

Rogers Hornsby BBWAA
Nap Lajoie BBWAA
Eddie Collins BBWAA
Joe Morgan BBWAA
Charlie Gehringer BBWAA
Rod Carew BBWAA
Frankie Frisch BBWAA
Nellie Fox Vet
Jackie Robinson BBWAA
Billy Herman Vet
Bobby Doerr Vet
Bid McPhee Vet
Red Schoendienst Vet
Tony Lazzeri Vet
Bill Mazeroski Vet
Johnny Evers OT

If the BBWAA has been too selective and the Veteran's Committee not selective enough, then apparently our goal is to ratify the BBWAA selections and also to select eight different second basemen in place of the Veteran's (and Old Timers) Committee choices?

Or, if the problem is the Veteran's and Old Timers choices, then why not select the same number of HOMers as have been selected by the BBWAA?

I don't presume to know the answers to any of these questions. My point is that neither does anybody. The right answer should emerge over time from the process.

Posted 3:04 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#101) - jimd
 
The BBWAA has been way too tough,

I don't think they've been too tough. I'd prefer a smaller HOF.

their errors are errors of omission,

Agreed. (see Sam Crawford and Arky Vaughan.)

because of the flawed ballot scheme and an arbitrary 75% of yeah/nay votes with no criteria to go on.

We disagree. Read my post of "2:21 p.m., July 24, 2002".

Because of the flawed BBWAA structure, the Veteran's Committee became a necessary evil,

The original veteran's committee had a mission just like ours. To research and select players from 19th century baseball, under the assumption that the current writers (of 1935) weren't knowledgeable about the subject. They had one election, elected nobody, and were never given another chance. Later versions were much smaller and were able to elect a lot more players, the great and the merely good.

and their errors of commission come into the play.

Boy did they ever. However, it was not a problem of concept but of implementation.

The whole thing is just a mess, mainly because there was no foresight into structuring the initial rules

Agreed.

Posted 4:07 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#102) - DanG
  Marc wrote:

"That said, I don't understand the need to elect the same number of HOMers and HOFers."

I think one of our tasks here is to show people exactly what HoF choices are errors and exactly which players ought to be there in their place. The HoM has no chance of replacing the HoF in the public consciousness, but our choices can be a way of framing the discussion to focus on the best overlooked Hall candidates. Hopefully, in some way, what we do here will have influence to help correct the existing injustices in the Hall's process of honoring baseball's greats.

As a guess, I think we will differ with the HoF on 10-15% of their 211 players, (21 to 32 guys).

Regarding BBWAA errors of omission, I would at least add Goslin and Mize to Crawford and Vaughn.

Reagrding the worst BBWAA choices. I think the worst are 1)Pennock, 2) Maranville, 3) Hunter.

DG

Posted 4:17 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#103) - DanG
  Marc wrote:

"That said, I don't understand the need to elect the same number of HOMers and HOFers."

I think one of our tasks here is to show people exactly what HoF choices are errors and exactly which players ought to be there in their place. The HoM has no chance of replacing the HoF in the public consciousness, but our choices can be a way of framing the discussion to focus on the best overlooked Hall candidates. Hopefully, in some way, what we do here will have influence to help correct the existing injustices in the Hall's process of honoring baseball's greats.

As a guess, I think we will differ with the HoF on 10-15% of their 211 players, (21 to 32 guys).

Regarding BBWAA errors of omission, I would at least add Goslin and Mize to Crawford and Vaughn.

Reagrding the worst BBWAA choices. I think the worst are 1)Pennock, 2) Maranville, 3) Hunter.

DG

Posted 10:50 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#104) - Marc
  I can't find the comment now about rushing Brouthers, O'Rourke and Rusie to eligibility (referring the fact that each appeared in a few games after the turn of the century and long after their first retirement). I don't have strong feelings about this either way, but I did discover an interesting little twist. Maybe somebody has already commented. Anyway, Sam Thompson retired after the 1898 season, then made a brief "comeback" (8 games) in 1906. If we are simulating a 1906 HOF election, then we would have no way of knowing early in the year that Thompson would do that. If this is a simulated reality, he would be on the ballot; if we want to acknowledge that it is not (now) 1906, then maybe not.

In Brouthers' case, it might be fun to see how we all rate Anson-Brouthers-Connor, head to head. In O'Rourke's case I don't really care either way, ditto Thompson. In Rusie's case, it might again be fun to see how we stack him up against the other leading pitchers who retired in the '90s--Clarkson, Keefe, Radbourn, Caruthers, Mullane, Galvin, Welch--but on the other hand you could also argue that he was more of a comtemporary of Kid Nichols who didn't retire until 1906.

I guess in the balance I'd rather consider these guys based on their original retirement, against their peers, just as I would have preferred that Minnie Minoso go against other players of the '50s. It feels right.

Posted 11:21 p.m., July 26, 2002 (#105) - Marc
  Dan wrote:

>Regarding BBWAA errors of omission, I would at least add Goslin and Mize to Crawford and
Vaughn.

I would have to add Delahanty, Kid Nichols, Anson, Brouthers, Clarkson and Keefe to Crawford and Mize, though the 19th century oversights are a little different story than the 20th century misses. Don't forget G. Davis. You got the big four 20th century misses along with Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown and Frank Baker. Mize is actually the only one of the lot who wasn't lost in the shuffle during the "sorting out" period through 1960 or so.

>Reagrding the worst BBWAA choices. I think the worst are 1)Pennock, 2) Maranville, 3) Hunter.

Pennock and Maranville for sure. I had Fingers third from the bottom though it is entirely possible that the standards for relief pitchers are still evolving and maybe I judge Rollie to harshly. Wilhelm actually has a pretty good case but every other reliever coming up (except Eck) has a tough time by any traditional standard. According to our schedule, hopefully we will have figured out how to evaluate relief pitchers in a couple of years, 'cause WS doesn't offer much encouragement. I have this wild idea that I have not really thought of or fleshed out, but that relief pitching can be conceptualized as the one and only real "clutch" situation that is worth our thinking about. That is because only the modern closer has every performed only in clutch situations, and so their performance in the clutch cannot be taken as a random distribution from their total. There is no separate total. Just a thought.

Posted 3:08 p.m., July 27, 2002 (#106) - Rob Wood
  I don't mean to speak for Scruff (or anyone else) who was in on the HOM ground floor. Having said that, let me chime in with why I think there needs to be some firm constraints on the voting. If we allow each voter to express his/her opinion on who belongs in the HOM without a pre-determined number of electees for each ballot, then the selection rule (e.g., minimum requirement such as 75%) will likely have a great deal of influence on who gets elected, and how many people get elected. So we wind up endlessly debating the selection rule (as distinct from the ballot structure). I don't think there is anyway around this issue and no way in the world that we can agree on the best selection rule.

As a way to "close" the system, Scruff has suggested that we fix the number of Homers equal to the number of HOFers. In this case, essentially we would be replacing the worst HOF selections with the best non-selections. And we would have era representation built-in from the start, something I am a strong proponent of. Though I personally think that there are too many HOFers, I have no problem with this approach.

To sum up, I think the system that Scruff has set up (i.e., pre-determined number of selections in a series of annual ballots starting in 1906 or so) is not perfect. But I cannot think of anything better, taking into account all the inherent problems associated with identifying the game's greatest players.

Posted 4:09 p.m., July 27, 2002 (#107) - Charles Saeger (e-mail)
  Splitting Win Shares between pitchers and fielders.

I'm probably making a few mistakes here, and this is my method, so there's no one to correct me, but here it goes.

1) Calculate the league strikeout value.

We need a strikeout value that takes into account hit prevention before we go anywhere. Therefore, we need the league hitting rates and XRuns to compute this value.

((0.50*1B)+(0.72*2B)+(1.04*3B)+(0.30*Err)-(0.098*(AB-H-SO-(0.60*Err))))/(AB-HR-SO)+0098

For the NL in 2001, this value is 0.174. This value is now chi, or X, for lack of a better shorthand.

2) Calculate pitcher-only runs.

There are some events we know to be pitcher-only, save for park and possible psychological effects of a decent defense. We need to find out the value of these events.

(1.44*HR.pkadj)+(0.34*(BB-IBB+HBP))+(0.25*IBB)-(X*SO)

HR.pkadj is park-adjusted Home Runs, which is just Home Runs allowed times the appropriate park adjustment.

For the 2001 Atlanta Braves, this value is 197.

3) Calculate fielder-only runs.

Likewise, there are events that are primarily the responsibility of the fielders.

(0.37*Err)-(0.32*DP.1b)-(0.50*A.of)-(0.32*A.c)-(LgR/PA*(AddlDP.1b+AddlA.of))

LgR/PA is the league Runs divided by league Plate Appearances. For the 2001 NL, this value is 0.124. AddlDP.1b is the team rate of Double Plays by first basemen over and above the league average rate. AddlA.of is the same for Outfield Assists.

Alternately, you could use OCS for A.c and add 0.18*OSB, where these are available. For the 2001 Atlanta Braves, this value is -17. For recent season, this value is typically negative, due to low error and high double play rates.

4) Calculate the shared runs.

This is Hits Allowed. We need to calculate the league value of a hit, where doubles and triples allowed are not known:

((0.50*1B)+(0.72*2B)+(1.04*3B))/(H-HR)

We'll call this LgH. For the 2001 NL, this is 0.564.

Then, we need a value for outs that reflects the hit-prevention value of a Strikeout:

(0.09*PO+0.008*SO-X*SO)/(PO-SO)

We'll call this LgPO. For the 2001 NL, this value is 0.48.

Now, the actual figure.

(H-HR)*Park-S*LgH-(PO-SO)*LgPO

Park-S is Bill James's Park-S adjustment. For the 2001 Atlanta Braves, this value is 524.

5) Split the shared runs.

This is where style and taste enters the system. However, the bland version, which I use, is just adding half the shared runs to the fielders, and half to the pitchers.

That's a thoroughly arbitrary split.

You could be named "Chris Dial" and blame hits allowed mostly on the pitchers, or named "Mike Emeigh" and blame hits allowed almost entirely on the fielders. If you are, you could move this 50/50 split to something like a 60/40 split either way, or a 75/25, or 81/19, or whatever. I use 50/50, which gives results in line with traditional values.

IAE, the 2001 Atlanta Braves now have 459 runs charged to the pitchers and 245 runs charged to the fielders.

6) Sum the league totals, and divide by league innings pitched.

Nothing special, but we need league rates. We'll call this LgP or LgF, as needed.

7) Figure the replacement rate for each value.

The replacement rate is 1.52*LgP*TmIP. Substitute LgF for the fielders. You might understand where I am going with this ...

8) Subtract the team value from the replacement rate to calculate Claim Points.

Very Bill Jamesey. For the 2001 Atlanta Braves ...

The 2001 NL is charged with 8699 runs to pitchers and 4128 runs to fielders in 23074.1 innings. The Braves played 1447.1 innings. Working the math, the Braves pitchers earned 370 Claim Points and the fielders earned 148 Claim Points.

9) Apportion Defensive Win Shares between the pitchers and fielders based on Claim Points.

I figure the 2001 Braves had 161 Win Shares on the defensive side, easily the best in the league (the Mariners had more in the AL, who had 165). Based on the above proportions, I figure the Braves pitchers earned 115 Win Shares (2nd in the majors behind the Yankees, who had 120) and the fielders earned 46 Win Shares (6th in the NL). The Braves had 28.6% of its defensive Win Shares going to fielders, the NL had 32.2%. Note even the total defensive Win Shares were above average, as a typical NL team had 40. Even as a percentage of total Win Shares, the Braves fielders came out ahead (a normal 88 win team in the 2001 NL would have 44 fielding Win Shares).

Posted 9:57 p.m., July 27, 2002 (#108) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  I assume that this was addressed at some earlier point, so before I do the math, here's a question: Is it my imagination or will our voting schedule result in the election of more 19th-century players than are already in the Hall (by defintion, at the expense of later players). If I'm right about this, isn't this problematic? Even if I'm wrong, why are we starting these elections so early chronologically? Isn't that prejudging one of the important questions evaluators of baseball talent have historically fought over, i.e., whether due to the growth of the population, integration of the game, and developments in nutrition and training, modern players are superior to their predeccesors? Put differently, shouldn't part of this exercise be to require us to determine whether Jim O'Rourke is really more deserving of a slot in the Hall than Charlie Keller, Dave Parker, or Gary Sheffield?

Posted 3:03 p.m., July 28, 2002 (#109) - Rob Wood
  Per Scruff's request, I have run another 1,000 trials of my vote structure tally simulator. See my July 24 (7:39 pm) post above for the details. Scruff asked if I could try out three more possible voting schemes. To ensure comparability, a ran another batch with the original five plus the new five: V1=10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. V2=1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. V3=14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. V4=20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11. V5=5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0. V6=7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4. V7=7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3. V8=14-13-12-11-10-5-4-3-2-1.

I calculate three different metrics (M1, M2, M3) to evaluate how well each voting scheme performs (see above post for details). Each metric is expressed as a percent of possible total points, so the ideal is 100% on each metric.

V1: 69.5 89.4 98.4
V2: 65.5 87.9 98.2
V3: 68.7 89.1 98.3
V4: 67.9 88.9 98.3
V5: 50.0 75.7 88.0
---
V6: 68.8 89.1 98.4
V7: 69.7 89.6 98.5
V8: 68.9 89.0 98.2

First off, the percents of the top 5 voting schemes are about 1-2% lower than the first batch of results I posted. The second batch of random numbers must have been a slightly tougher test than the first batch.

Anyway, several of the voting schemes perform similarly. Schemes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, or 8 would all be good schemes according to this experiment. Although they are bunched fairly tightly, if asked to rank them based upon the above metrics, I would say scheme 7 (7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3) appears to be the best, which is not too surprising since it is the only scheme that allows voters to vote for 15 players on each ballot. Then would come scheme 1 (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Scheme 3 (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1), scheme 6 (7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4) and scheme 8 (14-13-12-11-10-5-4-3-2-1) would come next in a very closely bunched group, just behind schemes 7 and 1.

I guess it comes down to how much information we are willing to ask each voter to reflect in each ballot. I hope this exercise has proven of some value to the group. Let me know if my vote tally simulator can be of any other use.

Posted 12:10 a.m., July 29, 2002 (#110) - DanG (e-mail)
  Andrew S. asked:

"Is it my imagination or will our voting schedule result in the election of more 19th-century players than are already in the Hall (by defintion, at the expense of later players). If I'm right about this, isn't this problematic? Even if I'm wrong, why are we starting these elections so early chronologically?"

Our number of 19th century players will be about the same as the HoF has. We feel this is appropriate representation for them, despite the fact that we know that "modern players are superior to their predecessors".

Players like O'Rourke competed for real championships at the highest level of play available. We feel these early greats are worthy of honor, being the best of their era.

If we started with a later date, there would be voters who entirely discounted the achievements of the 19th century greats. We think that is misguided thnking. They would have smaller representation in our hall than we feel they merit. So I think the HoM is set up deliberately to ensure the representation we feel is appropriate for them.

DG

Posted 9:22 a.m., July 29, 2002 (#111) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  Dan--

Well, I'm not going to relitigate an issue that is already decided, particularly one that has coherent arguments on both sides. I will say, however, that it seems to me that any voter who simply ignored the achievements of 19th-century players and defended that position on their ballot would be making a perfectly valid judgment about the relative merit of historically great baseball players and therefore adding to rather than detracting from the project's stated goals.

That having been said, I still look forward to participating and have even used this exercise as an opportunity to read up on the 19th-century stars in an attempt to bring my understanding of their strengths and weaknesses up to my level of knowledge on the 20th-cenutry's elite.

One thing that I find interesting in evaluating 19th-century players is the accumulation of talent on a handful of teams. Making a list of the 15 or 20 best non-pitcher candidates from the era and tracking them season-by-season I often find strong HOM candidates as the third, fourth, or even fifth best players on their own team. This isn't necessarily a problem, but it certainly requires an overriding of our 21st-century-honed understading of a superstar.

Posted 6:40 p.m., July 29, 2002 (#112) - Marc
  I think the biggest advantage of starting with 1906 is that 19th century players will be judged against their peers. It had to have been impossible to evaluate the 19th century players against Ruth, Cobb, Johnson, et al by 1936, which is why the HOF ended up punting.

If anything I'd argue that we could start earlier since it is a little bit of a stretch to argue that players like Brouthers, Ewing and Thompson are "peers" of Deacon White, Barnes, George Wright, Al Spalding and the others from the NA and pre-NA. Just comparing pitchers pre- and post-1893 is tough enough.

I personally want to consider NA performances as best I can, as well as pre-NA performances, and that will be difficult enough. But I really like the idea of considering such players as players, rather than copping out and calling them "pioneers." 1906 isn't too bad, though, in that as a practical matter we are talking about players who started their careers, at least, in the 1880s. Most who started in the '90s will not yet be eligible. But comparing the '70s vs. the '80s is tough enough, so maybe if we started right in 1900 or 1901 we could help ourselves just a tiny little bit. I don't think you'd commit to 5 electees at that point, however.

Posted 8:02 p.m., August 1, 2002 (#113) - Chris F
  This idea was mentioned earlier, but it seems to have been forgotten. I really liked the idea of going 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11, or perhaps 15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6, since it avoids the problem of the 10th best guy getting barely any more points than someone not on the ballot. This would seem to somewhat alleviate the problem of a player who is thought of very highly by a minority of voters getting through, which I think has been one of the chief concerns.

Also, it allows you to give #10 about 1/2 or 1/3 of the 'value' of #1, which I believe was a desire as well. And it forces you to make decisions, which I think is generally regarded as a weakness of the 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4 system.

Posted 8:33 p.m., August 1, 2002 (#114) - Rob Wood
  I have completed my preliminary investigation into the relative
importance of hitting vs pitching in major league baseball. I
thought that this would be particularly insightful as we start with
19th century ball.

Since this is a broad topic, I needed to first narrow the question
down to an issue amenable to statistical analysis. The question I
address is "In a major league plate appearance, who is more crucial
to the outcome, the hitter or the pitcher?". My analysis answers this
question separately for every major league season beginning in 1871
and going through 1997.

To motivate the ideas underlying my analysis, suppose that identical
mechanical pitching machines were used throughout baseball rather
than flesh and blood human pitchers. In this extreme case you may
think the identity of the "pitcher" would have absolutely no bearing
on the outcome of the plate appearance. This is generally true since
outcomes would depend almost solely upon the quality of the batter
(Mark McGwire vs Rey Ordonez, say). However, difference in quality
of the team's fielders behind the mechanical pitcher would still have
some bearing on the outcome of the plate appearances, which would
be ultimately reflected in the identity of the pitcher.

At the other extreme, suppose that all batters are identical somehow
(clones of Ty Cobb?). Then the identity of the batter should have no
bearing on the plate appearance, except for normal random noise,

Analysis of variance techniques have been developed to help us
measure the systematic influences different factors have on outcomes.
A prototype example of when analysis of variance methods are used
is planting different crop varieties on soils of different fertility. After
observing all of the different outcome permutations (yields), you want
to know how much of the observed variation in yields was due to the
specific varietals and how much was due to the soil fertility.

The same basic idea also applies to baseball outcomes. However,
there are thousands of individual batter-pitcher combinations that we'd
need to track to do the analysis at the batter-pitcher cell level. Instead
the analysis is typically performed on the "marginals"; that is, the data
for each batter (across all pitchers he faced) and for each pitcher
(across all batters he faced).

A simple stochastic model is that Xij = A*Hi + (1-A)*Pj + Eij, where Xij
is the outcome of a plate appearance when hitter I faces pitcher J,
Eij is random noise, Hi is the innate contribution of the hitter to the
outcome (say his career batting average), Pj is the innate contribution
of the pitcher (say his career opposition batting average), and A is the
importance to the outcome of the hitter relative to the pitcher. So the
outcome is essentially a weighted average of the innate ability of the
hitter and the innate ability of the pitcher.

In the extreme case of identical mechanical pitching machines, we
would expect A to be near 100%, and in the extreme case of
identical batters (clones), we would expect A to be near 0%.

It turns out that if this model is a good approximation of the underlying
stochastic process, A can be estimated by the variation among
hitters relative to the variation among pitchers. To make things
concrete, let's focus upon batting average for the moment. This
approach, then, suggests looking at the variation of batting averages
among hitters and comparing that to the variation of opposing batting
averages among pitchers. The greater the observed variation among
hitters, the more influence hitters are likely to have on whether a
plate appearance winds up as a hit or an out.

Variation among hitters is calculated as the sum over all hitters of the
squared deviation between his batting average and the league batting
average, weighted by the player's at bats. Call this Var(H). A similar
calculation is performed using pitchers' opposing batting averages.
Call this Var(P). Then our estimate of A, the relative impact of hitters on
batting averages, is given by Var(H)/[Var(H)+Var(P)].

I have calculated the relative importance of hitters on these outcomes:
hits per at bat, home runs per at bat, walks per plate appearance,
strikeouts per plate appearance, and hits per ball in play (H$ =
H/AB-SO-HR). These figures are calculated separately for every major
league season, from 1871-1997. By the way, I would greatly appreciate
hearing if anyone knows where I can get the 1998-2001 electronic hitter
and pitcher data (including batter SO and BB data).

To make the results more digestible, I will present the decade averages.
I also present the overall average of the five component decade avgs.
Note that there is typically little year-to-year or league-to-league variation,
except when the DH is introduced in 1973. Accordingly, I break out the
post-DH seasons by league. (You may need to switch to Courier font
to see the tables aligned.)

Years Hits HR BB SO H$ Avg
1870s 72.7% 68.8% 69.7% 78.4% 73.7% 72.7%
1880s 71.3% 72.7% 67.4% 78.5% 72.5% 71.8%
1890s 74.2% 67.6% 69.6% 81.5% 75.2% 73.1%
1900s 78.0% 65.1% 68.2% n.a. 81.2% 73.1%
1910s 77.8% 67.4% 64.0% 84.1% 76.8% 73.6%
1920s 79.1% 81.8% 65.7% 82.4% 75.3% 76.9%
1930s 76.7% 82.4% 66.1% 78.9% 74.0% 75.6%
1940s 76.0% 79.5% 66.1% 81.3% 72.5% 75.1%
1950s 74.3% 78.7% 62.7% 80.8% 70.3% 73.4%
60-72 76.2% 78.2% 63.8% 81.1% 71.6% 74.2%
73-79A 60.8% 76.8% 60.1% 57.1% 64.7% 63.9%
73-79N 75.7% 80.6% 70.6% 78.4% 72.5% 75.6%
80-89A 59.4% 74.0% 63.6% 61.4% 62.5% 64.2%
80-89N 73.9% 77.8% 69.3% 74.5% 71.6% 73.4%
90-97A 53.7% 72.7% 61.2% 59.6% 57.0% 60.9%
90-97N 71.8% 75.2% 64.7% 72.8% 69.1% 70.7%

AllYrs 73.8% 75.1% 65.7% 77.7% 72.5% 72.8%

Batter strikeouts were not recorded in several years around
the turn of the century, so they could not be used in the analysis.

The above results cry out for some interpretation. I hope that
others will post their comments and interpretations. Here are
mine.

1) The relative importance of batters vs pitchers has not varied
much in the over 125 year history of major league baseball. To be
honest, I am quite shocked by this result. For example, I would
have expected hitters would have been more important (pitchers
less so) in the 1870s and 1880s when the role of pitchers was
largely to simply put the ball in play, so to speak. Any ideas?

2) Hitters have always been the most important factor in determining
the outcome of a plate appearance, ranging from 60% to 80% from
time to time and variable to variable. I am surprised by this result
as well. One explanation is that the "hitter" influence may be picking
up the indirect influence of the importance of fielding, since some
hitters are in the lineup not for their bat but for their defense. As we
noted above, the team-to-team variation in fielding may be reflected
in the variation in "pitching", but I guess that the positional influence
of fielding on the hitters score may be greater than the team influence
of fielding on the pitcher score.

3) The introduction of the DH served to make hitters relatively less
important to the outcome of a plate appearance. At first this seems
counterintuitive, but after awhile it is clear why this is true. Replacing
weak-hitting pitchers with good-hitting DH's makes the hitting
population more homogeneous. Thus, the introduction of the DH
means that the identity of the hitter is actually less important in the AL
than in the NL (since in the NL you learn a lot about the likely outcome
of a plate appearance if you know that a pitcher is batting).

4) I would be interested in extending the analysis for 1998-2001 since
these years have continued the hitting explosion of modern times. I
am curious if the hitting explosion leads to a greater or lesser relative
impact for hitters.

Comments are strongly encouraged!

Posted 10:04 a.m., August 2, 2002 (#115) - Eric Chalek
  Rob, That's really interesting information. I'd be curious if you saw any little blips in the data correspondent to changes in schedule length (necessitating the use of more pitchers on the team level and de-homoginizing the pitching population). Did you see any variation in the average %s between the periods 1876-1878 (roughly 60 scheduled games), 1879-1884 (roughly 80 scheduled games), and 1887-1897 (roughly 130 games).

Then again there were a lot of rule changes (as noted in one of my earlier posts) that could also mask any changes wrought by introducing a longer schedule, so perhaps it would be impossible to disentangle these effects from each other(???).

Posted 1:43 p.m., August 2, 2002 (#116) - Rob Wood
  So that everyone can see the year-to-year variation in the 19th century, here are those results.

Year--Lg---Hit----Hr----BB-----SO----H$----Avg
1871 NA 79.4% 85.7% 80.2% 92.5% 79.5% 83.5%
1872 NA 57.5% 83.1% 86.3% 75.6% 59.5% 72.4%
1873 NA 69.8% 61.2% 80.5% 71.4% 71.7% 70.9%
1874 NA 79.1% 41.5% 67.6% 78.5% 80.1% 69.4%
1875 NA 73.0% 63.4% 71.9% 78.4% 74.3% 72.2%
1876 NL 59.4% 31.0% 59.5% 66.5% 61.8% 55.6%
1877 NL 76.9% 88.1% 76.1% 77.4% 78.4% 79.4%
1878 NL 77.8% 78.7% 43.7% 87.0% 77.6% 72.9%
1879 NL 81.4% 86.2% 61.2% 78.3% 80.4% 77.5%
1880 NL 65.5% 83.4% 62.3% 75.0% 67.6% 70.8%
1881 NL 81.1% 81.1% 80.8% 84.1% 82.9% 82.0%
1882 AA 70.1% 71.6% 69.6% n.a. 71.6% 70.7%
1882 NL 69.3% 72.7% 66.3% 79.2% 68.6% 71.2%
1883 AA 61.3% 77.6% 64.6% n.a. 64.1% 66.9%
1883 NL 63.0% 76.4% 46.9% 76.8% 62.8% 65.2%
1884 AA 74.9% 73.4% 71.1% n.a. 80.6% 75.0%
1884 NL 65.2% 67.7% 60.1% 74.5% 64.2% 66.4%
1884 UA 70.1% 71.1% 65.1% n.a. 77.2% 70.9%
1885 AA 73.1% 61.7% 64.1% n.a. 77.2% 69.0%
1885 NL 74.7% 70.8% 72.3% 80.2% 71.2% 73.8%
1886 AA 67.8% 60.3% 73.8% n.a. 75.0% 69.2%
1886 NL 75.2% 75.5% 70.9% 81.5% 71.8% 75.0%
1887 AA 72.6% 61.4% 67.9% n.a. 75.8% 69.5%
1887 NL 75.4% 81.6% 56.5% 80.9% 73.7% 73.6%
1888 AA 68.5% 66.9% 74.4% n.a. 72.4% 70.6%
1888 NL 74.9% 71.2% 72.3% 74.7% 74.2% 73.5%
1889 AA 73.0% 84.6% 73.8% 73.4% 71.8% 75.3%
1889 NL 78.1% 73.0% 68.0% 83.7% 73.5% 75.3%
1890 AA 72.4% 76.5% 66.9% n.a. 77.5% 73.3%
1890 NL 65.8% 61.0% 69.1% 78.7% 65.4% 68.0%
1890 PL 77.1% 62.6% 68.7% 82.0% 78.0% 73.7%
1891 AA 73.2% 72.0% 77.3% 78.5% 74.4% 75.1%
1891 NL 76.1% 64.2% 68.4% 77.0% 75.2% 72.2%
1892 NL 71.5% 67.7% 75.5% 85.7% 69.4% 74.0%
1893 NL 72.4% 66.1% 75.7% 86.5% 72.1% 74.6%
1894 NL 76.4% 60.1% 70.9% 85.0% 77.4% 74.0%
1895 NL 73.7% 72.1% 61.7% 78.0% 74.2% 71.9%
1896 NL 77.1% 65.7% 68.2% 82.1% 76.5% 73.9%
1897 NL 80.9% 69.7% 72.9% n.a. 84.4% 77.0%
1898 NL 74.8% 70.2% 64.9% n.a. 77.8% 71.9%
1899 NL 72.8% 70.5% 64.8% n.a. 76.0% 71.0%
1900 NL 82.5% 68.3% 66.4% n.a. 85.2% 75.6%

Posted 6:10 p.m., August 2, 2002 (#117) - Rob Wood
  Oops, I just noticed that the H$ formula I typed above is slightly wrong. I did the calculations correctly in my analysis, but I typed the wrong formula in the post above. Of course, H$ should be written as (H-HR)/(AB-SO-HR).

Posted 2:45 p.m., August 7, 2002 (#118) - Rob Wood
  I did another batch of runs of my voting simulation software. To look at the "minority voting bloc" issue (aka Ross Barnes and the like), I slightly modified my simulation. I still have 100 voters each ranking 1000 players according to their personal perceptions, which are randomly distributed around some "true" values for each player. People fill out their HOM ballots according to their personal perceptions.

The modifications are as follows. Now 20% of the voters are "minority" voters and give a sizeable additional value to 5 "minority" players. These minority players (aka Ross Barnes) are randomly selected among the 6th thru the 15th truly best players. The idea is that these minority voters will all vote for Ross Barnes, say, whereas very few of the majority will. The voting schemes will perform differently in the face of this minority issue.

Here are the results. Defns are given in my previous posts.

V1: 61.4 80.9 94.7 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V2: 59.1 81.4 95.1 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
V3: 61.4 80.6 94.4 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V4: 62.1 81.8 95.0 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11
V5: 44.1 67.8 83.3 5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0
V6: 61.7 81.7 95.0 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4
V7: 63.4 82.8 95.7 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3
V8: 61.1 80.6 94.5 14-13-12-11-10-5-4-3-2-1

These results are predictable. In the face of the minority issue, we would want a voting scheme that minimizes the impact of "rogue" votes (voters). This can be done by leveling the vote tallies (such as 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4) or by increasing the importance of being on the ballot vs not (such as 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11).

All things considered, it looks like V7 (7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3) is the strongest tallying scheme. The only caveat is that it was the only scheme I tested that forced voters to vote for 15 players. Since we are dealing with the greatest players of all time, and players never fall off the ballot (unless they are elected), I would be in favor of including 15 players on each ballot.

By the way, I will re-run this analysis with all the relevant voting schemes expanded up to forcing 15 players on each ballot in order to get a more apples-to-apples comparison with V7.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Posted 3:34 p.m., August 7, 2002 (#119) - Craig B
  The way I interpret Rob's results, the differences are minimal between all systems except the widely disliked V5. I just don't see ballot structure as accomplishing anything significant to combat any "minority voting bloc" issue. (Which, as I said before, I do not think is an issue as the number of people who are going to engage in strategic voting in an election like this is incredibly small.)

On that note, we are registering voters, are we not? We will need to.

I _do_ think that asking the voter to put their judgment to good use in making disctinctions is better, and would prefer a (14 or 10)-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ballot or a 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11 ballot, basically anything that ensures that rank order candidates are submitted... it's part of the fun and it encourages closer study of the candidates.

I should note, by the way, that a long ballot (provided it is weighted in some way) will go a long way to neutralizing this "problem" because it ensures that the better players are ranked on all ballots. Given that we are considering 10 ballot slots for (usually) 2 or 3 candidates, I don't see a need to make it longer, but it would be a solution. But while 10 seems doable, if you ask people to put down 15 or 20 names you will start losing voters.

Posted 3:36 p.m., August 7, 2002 (#120) - Craig B
  Many thanks to Rob, by the way, for such wonderful and detailed studies. These are great, and very helpful. But in general, Condorcet-type voting "deficiencies" or "paradoxes" are extremely tough to combat and in actual practice, are rarely problematic.

Posted 6:09 p.m., August 7, 2002 (#121) - Rob Wood
  Thanks Craig for those kind words. Permit me to reply to one issue you raise. Thinking carefully about the ballot structure seems to me to be a very important issue (as you can tell by the time and effort I am putting into it). Even ignoring strategic voting and "Condorcet-type voting paradoxes", which I have done in my analyses, this may be a key issue.

What is the best way to reflect a group of experts' views on the most meritorious players throughout baseball history? I think it far preferable to delve into this issue with objective and systematic analysis (i.e., make assumptions and test different schemes) up front than have concerns linger throughout the HOM exercise.

As a personal aside, I just spent a year of my life with the Baseball Survivor group exercise in ranking the top 100 players of all time. The exercise was a lot of fun and very informative. However, in retrospect I now wish we had spent more time up front discussing the voting rules since many of our results were a direct result of our voting scheme rather than the "best" reflection of the groups' expert opinions.

Posted 2:41 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#122) - Rob Wood
  Here's another report of results of my voting simulator. This time all the voting schemes force voters to vote for 15 players on each ballot so as to make the comparisons more fair. Plus the "minority" issue (Ross Barnes) is in play. See the previous post for descriptions. Results are averages over 1,000 trials.

V11: 60.9 81.6 96.9 15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V12: 56.8 81.5 97.2 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
V13: 60.7 81.2 96.8 20-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V14: 60.6 81.8 97.0 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6
V15: 61.2 81.9 97.0 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3
V16: 60.3 81.3 96.9 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

Again, there is not a lot of difference between the tally metrics. This is probably partly due to the amount of variability I sprinkled into the simulator. I bet that if I allowed more variability across voters, the differences between the tally metrics across vote schemes would be more pronounced. Let's not go there though.

All in all, I would recommend a vote tallying scheme that balances all of our objectives: a good number of votes per ballot (not too many, not too few), at least some amount of differentiation in vote points to reflect a voter's strength of preference across players on the ballot, a scheme that does a good job reflecting the "will of the voters" without being too sensitive to minority views, etc.

Posted 3:11 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#123) - scruff (e-mail)
  Rob how about this scheme, a variation on the 7-6-6-5-5-5-etc.

7-6.25-5.75-5.33-5-4.67-4.3-4.1-3.9-3.7-3.4-3.2-3-2.8-2.6.

Obviously that's a pain in the butt. But it solves Craig's ranking issue. Acutally try this, it's practically the same, but whole numbers:

70-63-58-53-50-47-43-41-39-37-34-32-30-28-26. It's the same general scheme of making the distinctions smalled as you move down the ballot, which represents the widening at the far end of the bell curve (that was my idea when I came up with the system anyway) as you move away from the end. I think the difference between 1 and 15 is a lot closer to 70-26 than 15-1, which is probably why this system keeps showing up near the top of the charts. There is a substantial penalty for not being named to a ballot, but I think that's okay, if someone doesn't think you are one of the 15 best, you are probably not one of the 2 or 3 best, generally speaking.

I don't think 15 will be too tough, especially for the first ballot. There's quite a backlog. After that, it's just a question of revising your ballot based on:

-discussion (people will change your mind, or you'll change their's)
-new eligibles on the ballot
-removing the new electees from the ballot.

I don't think a 15 person ballot will be too hard to maintain. If it weeds out a few voters that don't the dedication, I won't lose too much sleep.

Just a thought anyway.

Posted 3:14 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#124) - scruff (e-mail)
  That is a really dorky looking system though. I can imagine how we'll be called a bunch of mathmeticians, etc. if that voting scheme ever made it's way to the more mainstream media (should this project exceed expectations and take off) outlets, and as Primer's audience grows.

Do you all think that's something to be concerned with as we decide on a system or not? I don't really care, I just want the best system we can come up with, but I suppose someone should worry about things like that.

Posted 3:18 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#125) - scruff
  actually, Rob, try this one:

70-63-58-54-50-46-43-41-39-37-34-32-30-28-26

Just tweaked the difference for a 4th and 6th place vote from 53 and 47 to 54 and 46. Now the difference as you move down is the same or smaller each step of the way

1st-2nd 7 points
2nd-3rd 5 points
3rd-4th to 5th-6th 4 points
6th-7th 3 points
rest of the way, 2 points.

Posted 3:45 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#126) - Chris F
  I like that one. Its a bit clunky to look at, but once we actually start voting, I imagine we won't actually see it; we'll just rank the players 1-15.

I don't really think we should care what other people might think of the system. It's not that obtuse - it's still "higher ranking, more points". I hope/assume, everyone will be ranking the top 10 or 15 according to whomever they think is the better player, without reguard to the system.

Posted 3:57 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#127) - Craig B
  I really really like that system. We don't need to worry about what the points look like, anyway. And in the end, as Chris F points out you as the voter just rank order 1-15 and let the point-scoring system take care of itself.

Posted 4:12 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#128) - nitpicker
 
70-63-58-54-50-46-43-41-39-37-34-32-30-28-26

You missed a gap.

70-63-58-54-50-46-43-40-38-36-34-32-30-28-26

(37-34 is three points but should be two.)

Posted 4:31 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#129) - kitnipper
 
70-63-58-54-50-46-43-40-38-36-34-32-30-28-26

It's somehow more pleasing to have more 3 point gaps than 4 point gaps.

70-62-57-53-49-46-43-40-38-36-34-32-30-28-26

It still rounds off to the original

7 - 6 - 6 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 3

Posted 5:47 p.m., August 8, 2002 (#130) - MattB
  It seems to me that the "background" answer is 10-9-8 (or 15-14-13) since that is the MVP-style voting that was intended.

The question is, then, are any of the other voting systems preferable. Rob Wood's numbers don't seem to show a more than 1-2% advantage to any alternate system. That strikes me an insufficient to deviate from the norm. But, that's just one man's vote. Weigh it as you deem appropriate based on whatever voting scheme emerges as the favorite.

I assume this means that no one wants "extra points" anymore?

Posted 7:49 a.m., August 9, 2002 (#131) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  I agree with MattB wholeheartedly -- (1)if the discrepancies are as small as Rob's study leads us to believe, there is no reason to deviate from a straight rank system; (2) given these small differences, we shoud just vote on a system and get moving (as soon as Scruff is able to return his energies to the project, of course).

Posted 3:46 p.m., August 9, 2002 (#132) - Rob Wood
  At the risk of beating this dead horse, here's maybe the last installment of results from my voting simulator. Per Scuff's request, I have added one more voting scheme. I also sprinkled a little more variability into the simulator to see if the tally metrics would spread out; this didn't happen though.

V11: 53.4 75.7 95.0 15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V12: 50.7 76.1 95.3 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
V13: 53.4 75.4 94.9 20-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V14: 54.0 76.3 95.3 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6
V15: 53.8 76.2 95.1 7-6-6-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3
V16: 53.5 75.8 95.0 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
V17: 53.8 76.2 95.2 70-63-58-54-50-46-43-41-39-37-34-32-30-28-26

Again, very little difference between the top candidates.

Posted 6:09 p.m., August 9, 2002 (#133) - jimd
  Voting summary as I understand it.

To manipulate MVP style voting, I would:
a) vote my pet candidate as high as possible,
b) vote the perceived opponent(s) as low as possible.
Classic case is the 1947 AL-MVP where one of the DiMaggio voters leaves triple-crown winner Ted Williams off the ballot entirely.

To discourage manipulation:
1) publish the ballot along with the voters defense/explanation; the voter's integrity/reputation is on the line to discourage behavior extremes, both a) and b).
2) make the ballot very deep; combined with 1) this further discourages b) by making it harder to leave opponent candidates off the ballot entirely.
3) flatten the ballot points, combined with 1) this further discourages a) by reducing the incentive to boost pet candidates unusually high.

Posted 9:55 a.m., August 10, 2002 (#134) - Josh G
  Are we voting on Negro League players?

Posted 12:37 a.m., August 11, 2002 (#135) - scruff (e-mail)
  Yes Josh, you and Satchel P, Oscar C and Cristobal T are all eligible. Hopefully we'll get lots of discussion from the Negro Leagues experts in the group, so we can get a good idea of where to slot these players.

Posted 6:18 p.m., August 11, 2002 (#136) - Marc
  Thanks for the simulations. It looks as if there are a dozen or more formats that provide about the same level of discouragement (or not) to attempted manipulation. So I would hope, therefore, that we would choose a simple, intuitive system. (As suggested, if we simply rank our choices 1 through x, and they're converted to a 76-63-whatever-whatever calculation in tabulation, that is fine.)

As I think about this, though, a bigger concern has popped up for me. It's been suggested that a really deep ballot (15 names) makes manipulation harder. But it also forces me to vote for players who I know darn good and well don't belong in the HOF. And then I'm going to justify my ballot? What if I just plain don't think there are 15 worthies on the ballot?

Posted 8:26 a.m., August 12, 2002 (#137) - scruff (e-mail)
  Marc, the question we're asking isn't "is the player worthy of the HoM?". The question is "please rank the best X eligible players from 1 to X". 'X' is still to be determined, but will probably be somewhere between 10 and 15 (I like 15). We're only going to elect between 2 and 5 players in any given year.

Think of it like an MVP ballot. In almost any year, there aren't 10 players that deserve to win the MVP (or 3 that deserve the Cy Young Award) but they still put 10 names on the ballot. Same thing here.

Posted 2:11 p.m., August 16, 2002 (#138) - Tom Hanrahan (e-mail)
  Hi gang-
Wow, what an archive to search. Y'all been busy. I sent a note to Joe to ask to be on the list; at least, until I can figure out how much time this is going to take.
Are the players listed by position the best (only?) place to find comparisons? I'm looking for a quick way to catch up on my pitiful understanding of 1880s play, and any assistance would be appreciated.

Tom

Posted 11:57 a.m., September 13, 2002 (#139) - TomH (e-mail)
  Please add me to the distribution list

Tom Hanrahan

Posted 2:33 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#140) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  In case you missed it above, please add me to the list as well.

Thanks,
Andy

Posted 7:38 a.m., September 18, 2002 (#141) - TomH (e-mail)
  Pulling forward DanG's post from July 24.....

this "modified-scruff" schedule:

1906 & 08: 5
1910 & 12: 4
1914-24: 3 (6 elections)
1926-66: 4 (21 elections)
1967-86: 2 (20 elections)
1987-05: 3 (19 elections)
-----
Nice thinking that has gone into this. I fully support Scruff and Dan's analysis of "how many per year" to elect. Whether annual or biannual, it works well; good balance, match HoF. Biannual may be easier on vote talliers if we then can vote bi-weekly. Sometimes if you vote weekly (my experience with Survivor) you can feel like you just put your same guys back on the ballot again as last week, wit no new info to present.

Tom

This gives us 217 HoMers through our 70th election in 2005.


Monday, July 8 - Full Blog Archive


Second Basemen

Click on the discussion link for the summary of 2B.

--posted by Joe Dimino at 7:54 PM EDT / Link / Discussion (45 Comments)

Posted 8:04 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#1) - scruff (e-mail)
  Don't forget, these guys should really be thought of the way we think of 3B today. In the 19th Century 3B was a much tougher position defensively than 2B.

The only strong candidates here are McPhee and Richardson. How you rank them will depend on what you think of the peak vs. career issue.

Fred Pfeffer would rank 3rd here (although I'm interested in how Jack Burdock's NA numbers crunch) if I were voting, he was pretty good, but probably a notch below being a HoMer. Probably the weakest position on the ballot, except maybe 3B.

Posted 8:08 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#2) - scruff
  I meant to add the obligatory, "leaving Ross Barnes out of the discussion for the moment," to the comments above. He will probably be the most debated candidate on the ballot.

Posted 10:35 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#3) - Brian Hodes (e-mail)
  (This is my first post on this board and so please don't beat up on me too much)
I think that the the larger general issues we are beginning to face is the valuation of National Association careers. So far the two players I find most difficult to evaluate are 2B Barnes and 1B Start (we will likely be confronted by this problem with Pitchers Bobby Mathews, AG Spalding, and Tommy Bond). While Mathews and Start could reasonably be selected based primarily (but probably not solely) on their post National Association achievments, these others must all rely largely on their pre 1876 playing as shown by their National Association stats.
Do we want to consider the NA careers ?
and, if so, How much consideration do we give them ?

Posted 11:31 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#4) - scruff (e-mail)
  When this idea first started bouncing around between Robert Dudek and myself, the thought was to include National Association accomplishments.

Now that doesn't mean those achievements are considered on the same level as those of someone in a better league. But the players that dominated in that league shouldn't have their accomplishments completely negated. Sure we should try to accurately take some of the air out of them, but that doesn't mean completely disregarding the accomplishments.

Robert has started on a study (I don't know if he finished it) but his preliminary findings showed the 1875 NA as a stronger league than the 1876 NL, for example. Hopefully as this discussion takes off, we'll come up with some objective ways for giving credit for those accomplishments. You can only dominate the league you play in.

This will also come into play when we have to evaluate Negro Leaguers. Everything isn't in the stats, sometimes we'll just have to go with educated opinions. But that's better than copping out and saying we can't evaluate them so let's just forget them.

Posted 1:22 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#5) - John Murphy
  Before we hear that Ross Barnes should be disqualified because of the fair/foul bunt, he left the NL because of injuries (not because of the abolition of said hit). I was surprised when Paul Wendt of the 19th Century Committee of SABR pointed this out to me. Barnes will easily be in the top three (McPhee or Richardson weren't as dominating as Barnes) IMO.

The only other one I could see electing would be Pfeffer. He's a tough one (at least for me). :-)

Posted 3:20 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#6) - John Murphy
  Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the second basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Sam Barkley: 21.43
Ross Barnes: 28.39
Lou Bierbauer: 16.04
Jack Burdock: 16.54
Hub Collins: 25.25
Jack Crooks: 19.38
Fred Dunlap: 27.70
Jack Farrell: 18.88
Joe Gerhardt: 13.31
Bid McPhee: 23.14
Fred Pfeffer: 19.60
Hardy Richardson: 27.99
Yank Robinson: 21.70
Pop Smith: 16.75

Posted 12:31 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#7) - scruff
  John, I think you'd be better off re-running the numbers using the number of career WS above and the 'seasons' above. This will at least give a more accurate weight to seasons that were shorter because of the schedule.

For example Cap Anson played 2523 games. His midpoint, for games played came in his age 35 season. He played as many games after the age of 35 as before. Brouthers reached his midpoint in games played at 30. Cal Ripken also crossed the midpoint early in his age 30 season.

Even if you say that Anson played until he was 45, he still should have passed the midpoint at age 32 or 33, not 35. Just taking WS per 162 weighs someone like Anson's older seasons too highly.

Posted 12:32 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#8) - Craig B
  Only two players here are candidates to my mind (based on what we have seen so far) although Barnes may move up depending on the NA data. Dunlap looks to me to have no shot; he and Pfeffer are "best-of-the-rest" types but seem to be a level below HoM.

I would take Hardy Richardson over Bid McPhee notwithstanding McPhee's longer and later career, but the fact that McPhee's career is a bit later make it closer.

Posted 1:10 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#9) - DanG (e-mail)
  Did a quick look for long-career secondbaseman who were not included in the analysis. Found a couple guys, of course nobody great:

Cub Stricker, 1882-93
Danny Richardson, 1884-94

Perhaps not worthy for crunching of their numbers.

Also, a note about Fred Pfeffer. A long-time Chicago White Stocking player, he benfitted from the "friendly confines". Of his 94 career homers he had 81 home, 13 road.

Dan

Posted 2:21 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#10) - John Murphy
  Remember, Cupid Childs just misses being on this year's ballot. The second basemen are really not bad for the 19th century.

Dan:

Richardson and Stricker didn't meet the criteria of being on a STATS all-star team or being on a top 100 list in NBHA (though Richardson did make the 100-125 list). I'll tally up the numbers and send them over to Scruff.

Posted 2:41 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#11) - MattB
  Re: McPhee v. Richardson

I also like Richardson as the best of the bunch now, but part of what I'm going on is a basic understanding that the AA -- where McPhee played half of his career -- was a weaker league than the NL.

I'd be interested to know if that is the general consensus.

Posted 3:30 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#12) - MattB
  I'd like to throw out another name here that might otherwise get overlooked.

In the same way that Richardson and McPhee set out the peak/career distinction for second basemen toward the end of the century, Ross Barnes was only the "peak" half of a peak/career competition with Jack Burdock.

Burdock began his career in the NA, and had some fair seasons there. He only finishes 5th in total Win Shares excluding NA years (which could reasonably bump him up a notch or two when included), and while his offensive numbers aren't much, but the defensive portion is within a reasonable margin of error of 3rd place (and a clear third including NA numbers).

Burdock became, in 1888 (his last real season), the first player to ever play 1000 games at second base. And if you were to have started the balloting with players appearing through 1890 instead of 1900, Burdock would have stood at the head of the pack among second basemen of the first two decades of baseball (along with - depending on your politics - Ross Barnes).

So, while looking at 30 years of data gives you a general overview, I think Burdock gets lost in the pack the way that a player who played from 1972-1988 would get lost when compared as a bunch to players who played in the 1990s.

Does he qualify as a HoMer? I don't know. Right now he sits 4th on my 2B list (I'm pro-Barnes), and I don't know if that's enough. But if one of the criteria is "best of his era", I think he merits consideration in a sense that some of his WS peers above do not.

Posted 1:20 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#13) - John Murphy
  Here are the WS per 162 games for these second basemen:

Danny Richardson: 17.61
Cub Stricker: 13.82

I have sent the career WS prorations to Scruff so he can add them here

Posted 9:55 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#14) - scruff (e-mail)
  Bill James letter grades for the 2B. Don't want to beat a dead horse, but remember, we need to think of these guys like we think of 3B today.

A+
Bid McPhee

A
Hardy Richardson

A-
Lou Bierbauer
Fred Dunlap
Joe Gerhardt
Fred Pfeffer

B
Jack Burdock
Pop Smith

B-
Jack Crooks
Jack Farrell

D
Yank Robinson

Posted 9:42 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#15) - Bud Fowler
  Hey what about me!!!!!!!!!!!

I started out as a pitcher, but played most of my career at second base, which was my best position.

I invented shin guards to protect my legs from the white players who'd slide in to second spikes up.

I was the first black player to play for an all-white team. I broke the color barrier before Fleet Walker by pitching for the Lynn, Massachusetts "Live Oaks" of the International League in 1878.

Over 13 seasons, I played for 20 different teams because I was too good to pass up, but too black to stay for long.

The link below is to a picture of me in 1885. I'm the black one.

http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/education/primary_sources/negro_leagues/photograph_02.htm

I was born and raised in Cooperstown, New York.

I had a combined batting average of over .300 despite never playing anywhere for more than a few months. Plus, I beat the National League Champion Boston National 2-1 as a pitcher in an exhibition game 2-1 (April 24, 1878).

By 1884, I was banned from professional major league white baseball, due primarily to Cap Anson, who wouldn't play on the same field as a black man. He was probably afraid of the challenge. I continued to play on lots of minor league clubs, both black and white.

"The Sporting Life," a magazine written by and for white people, called me "probably one of the best players in the country."

I also managed, beginning in 1894.

I died in 1913 of "pernicious anemia," which is as bad as it sounds.

My real name was John W. Jackson. Here is my tombstone (erected by SABR).

http://thedeadballera.crosswinds.net/FowlerBudsGrave.html

I demand equal consideration, along with my pre-1900 colleagues, Moses Fleetwood Walker, his brother Wendy Walker, George W. Stovey and Frank Grant.

I am sure that, after a fair deliberation, at least George Stovey (the best 19th century black pitcher) and myself will be deemed worthy or your illustrious club.

--Bud

Posted 10:40 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#16) - John Murphy
  (I died in 1913 of "pernicious anemia," which is as bad as it sounds.)

Is that sickle-cell anemia?

Posted 10:48 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#17) - John Murphy
  Bud:
Actually, we are nominating African-American players prior to Jackie Robinson (though I think we were looking more at the Negro League players of the 20th century because we have more information on them). I think Fowler, Stovey, etc. should be looked at the very least.

Posted 11:10 a.m., July 11, 2002 (#18) - Bud Fowler
  (Is that sickle-cell anemia?)

No. Pernicious anemia is the name for the inability of the cells to absorb Vitamin B-12. It effects, ironically, primarily those of Scandinavian descent. It is also known as "Addison's anemia" and "Vitamin B-12 malabsorption."

It is apparently, very controllable now with monthly B-12 injections. Lot of good that did me in 1913.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000569.htm

I know there aren't a lot of stats on me and Stovey out there, but what there are are uniformly excellent.

There is also the circumstantial case. Why would all-white teams in the 19th century even try to sign a merely average black player? Seems hardly worth the trouble against all the grief they'd get. It seems to me that pioneers like myself and Stovey must have been among the best to even get considered. I would get cut from team after team and replaced by inferior players. (Gives a whole new meaning to "replacement value".) But there was always another team ready to give me a shot, and hope that maybe their fans would accept me. (A major league (NL) team actually tried to sign Stovey after the Fleet Walker incidents before Anson blocked it.)

There's just no reason to think that the black players who played in the main organized Negro Leagues were any better than us early integraters and barnstormers.

Far be it from me to suggest a black quota. But we just wanted to be given a fair shake along with the white players. And if you are inducting 10-20% black players after Jackie Robinson, you need to ask yourself whether there is a rational basis for not inducting 10-20% from the Negro League and pre-Negro League as well.

I suggested five players who I think could rival any white players in the 19th century, and who I'd vote for if dead ballplayers were allowed to vote in your elections. Of course, I didn't really get to see the white players on your lists play that often, so it's hard to compare. I'd put me and Stovey on the top of that list, but then, being me, I'm a little biased.

Posted 12:17 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#19) - scruff (e-mail)
  Bud -- You've convinced me. You and Stovey will get a vote from me along the way.

The question though, is how good were you relative to the other stars. Should I vote you ahead of guys like Deacon White and Roger Connor? Were you the best player on the planet? Or should I vote for you once we've got the obvious guys out of the way, but ahead of anyone marginal, like a Fred Pfeffer, etc.?

This ballot will be like an MVP ballot where we have to rank all of the players from 1-10. Because of this, I could see it taking you a couple of years to get in, but you'll have my wholehearted support.

Posted 12:42 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#20) - George Stovey
  Well, it was nice of Bud to put in a good word for me, but while he was the first great black player, I was the best black player of the 19th century. I got to play a couple of full seasons on all white teams, so more of my records survive. (I was a light-skinned black Canadian -- skin tone did make a difference to a certain degree.)

In 1886, I held opponents to a .167 average. In 1887, I went 34-14. The 34 wins remains an International League record over 100 years later. And when the New York Giants tried to hire a black player to join the National League, it was me (not Fowler) that they tried to sign before Anson stopped them. I then went on to be a star for the Cuban Giants, an all black team.

I was the best player in the highest level league in which I was allowed to play. If I could have done more to prove myself, I don't know what that would be.

http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/S/Stovey_George.stm

Posted 2:05 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#21) - Bud Fowler
  George,

Man, you put in a good word for a guy and look what it gets you!

Scruff:

You wrote:

"The question though, is how good were you relative to the other stars. Should I vote you ahead of guys like Deacon White and Roger Connor? Were you the best player on the planet? Or should I vote for you once we've got the obvious guys out of the way, but ahead of anyone marginal, like a Fred Pfeffer, etc.?"

I'd like to turn the question around to you. Assume 2 groups of players. Group A faces all competition, and their best players dominate. Group B also has a group of best players who dominate, but they refuse to face anyone in Group A. Who should bear the burden of proving they're the best? The best of Group A or the best of Group B? Group B, of course. There should be a presumption (I think) that they're too ch*ckensh*t to face Group A, unless they've got good extrinsic proof that they're better than Group A.

If White and Connor won't face us, how can they show that they're better than we are? How can we know if they're the "Best of the Planet," or should we only vote for them once we've gotten the obvious choices (me and Stovey) out of the way, but ahead of more marginal guys like Wendy Walker?

Deacon White was on the Boston team I beat in the exhibition game in 1878. That's the only data point I have. Not enough to extrapolate from, but it's not my fault that it's the only data point.

Posted 2:39 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#22) - scruff (e-mail)
  Bud,

I hear what you are saying, but . . .

1) Connor and his fellow players (save Anson) didn't ban you themselves. I don't think racism meant they were chickenshit. I think it meant they (the powers that be, not Connor personally) were racist. It was a different time back then, and they probably (incorrectly, I want to be sure there's no question about what I'm saying) felt you were beneath them, if not as a player, as a person.

I'm not excusing this behavior, just saying you have a good enough case already, you don't have to resort to calling the other guys chickenshit.

2) I think there is pretty good extrinsic proof that the NL and AA were better than the International League. That's why we call them the major leagues. I'd imagine the NL and AA paid the most money at the time, and I would think the best players would gravitate to those leagues. I'm not saying it's like it is today, and that 95% of the best players were in the 'majors', but I think I'm on pretty strong ground saying the AA and NL were the strongest leagues in the timeframe we are discussing.

I could be wrong here. I haven't done the digging, it's just solid guesswork.

3) I'm really trying to work with you Bud, but if we are going to convince the voters that you guys are worthy, we have to pick and choose our battles strategically, it might be a little to ambitious to convince everyone that you guys were the best two players of the era. However it's very reasonable to expect others to buy into the fact that you guys are among the best players of the era, which would warrant your induction. Again, this isn't a yes/no vote, so we are going to have to convince people to rank you and your buddy George ahead of specific players. That's a little tougher than convincing people to vote yay or nay.

It sucks, but like everything, strong political skills will not hurt in this quest. If you say, "they are the best two players until someone proves me wrong," it'll be very easy for people to say, "no they weren't" and the fact that they probably were very close will be obscured as the detractors try to shoot you down and the bickering starts.

But if you start with a reasonable premise like, "they were every bit as good as most of the best white players of their generation," people can accept this and it will go a long way towards building a consensus.

Best of luck,

Joe

Posted 3:05 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#23) - MattB
  I know this doesn't actually help, but I'd probably put Fowler in the same category and Ross Barnes -- great second baseman with a shorter career in a less dominant league. The problem, of course, is that I consider Barnes the third best second baseman of the era, and Bill James doesn't even put him in his Top 100, so it doesn't really help with placement.

On a related note: are pre-NA players eligible? I've read that Jim Creighton was supposed to be the best player in early pro ball and the first openly professional player. I don't know much about him, except that he died young of baseball-related injuries. Don't know if it's worth digging deeper.

Posted 3:32 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#24) - scruff (e-mail)
  Matt -- someone like Creighton would definitely be eligible. But it'll be up to someone who believes in him as a candidate to convince the ignorant (of which I'm a member).

Posted 3:49 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#25) - John Murphy
  Since Creighton died at the age of 21, I would say no.

Posted 5:04 p.m., July 11, 2002 (#26) - Bud Fowler
  Scruff,

Not trying to be "unstrategic". Just making my case the best way I know how.

Would've been nice to go in before Anson, but since he's probably got the best stats of any of the white players, that's probably unlikely.

Posted 2:56 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#27) - John Murphy
  Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the second basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Sam Barkley: 21.43
Ross Barnes: 28.39
Lou Bierbauer: 16.04
Jack Burdock: 16.54
Hub Collins: 25.25
Jack Crooks: 19.38
Fred Dunlap: 27.70
Jack Farrell: 18.88
Joe Gerhardt: 13.31
Bid McPhee: 23.14
Fred Pfeffer: 19.60
Danny Richardson: 17.61
Hardy Richardson: 27.99
Yank Robinson: 21.70
Pop Smith: 16.75
Cub Stricker: 13.82

Scruff:
Did you get the Danny Richardson, Cub Stricker and Bill Phillips spreadsheet?

Posted 1:55 a.m., July 14, 2002 (#28) - John Murphy
  152-21, 21, 18-87-Danny Richardson-8.6 sea.-83 batting-60 fielding>-10 pitching

2B 56%, SS 26%, CF 5%, RF 5%, 3B 4%, LF 4%.
notes: 1884-1894. 5-year peak ages 24-28. Played his whole career in the National League (except for 1890 in the PL).

135-18, 18, 16-72-Cub Stricker-9.8 sea.-87 batting-45 fielding-3 pitching
2B 95%, SS 2%, RF 2%.
notes: 1882-1885; 1887-1893. 5-year peak ages 27-31. Played his whole career in the AA (except for 1890 in the PL; 1892-1893 in the NL).

Posted 8:36 p.m., July 14, 2002 (#29) - John Murphy
  Bob "The Magnet" Addy was another good player who deserves mention, but I don't think he's a HoMer.

Posted 11:55 a.m., July 20, 2002 (#30) - John Murphy
  ChapelHeel said:

I know some of the adjustments are still in the experimental stage, but taking a step back from the numbers for a sec: How does a guy like Bid McPhee become the 5th best non-pitcher on the ballot in total WS? I think the guy is a HoMer, but fifth?

No question he was a great defensive player. However, he was a .270 hitter in a hitter's era and in mostly hitter's parks....his unadjusted OPS crossed .800 only twice in 18 years. What would those hitting stats be in a park-adjusted and era-adjusted environment?
Bill James has him as the 30th best second baseman of all time. He had only 6 out of 18 years in which his park-adjusted RC/27 was more than 25% above the league RC/27. Based on the STATS Retroactive All-Star list, his hitting got him named to the All-Star team only 2 times in 18 years (the list doesn't take into account defense). His hitting is weak, even for his position, and everyone seems to acknowledge that 2b was more of a hitter's position in the 19th century.

I know that some of those stats aren't good measures (e.g, batting average) and that James doesn't do a great job with 19th-century players, so I agree adjustments should be made. I also agree that he is definitely HoMer material. But fifth? I don't think anyone would have taken McPhee in a straight-up trade with Paul Hines.

I agree with you on McPhee. While I definitely think he's worthy of induction, he's behind Richardson and probably Barnes (still trying to sort him out), IMO. McPhee was never the best second basemen at one time. Richardson was the premier player in the 1880s, while Cupid Childs (not eligible yet) was the #1 in the 1890s. The one thing in his favor (and it's a big one) is that he was near the top for a very long time. He was the most durable keystone player until Lajoie. He belongs.

Posted 2:45 p.m., August 31, 2002 (#31) - John Murphy
  I think I have been a little too harsh on Fred Dunlap. The more I look at his career, he would be my pick for the second best second baseman of the 1880s (behind Hardy Richardson). McPhee and Pfeffer would follow, respectively, after.

Posted 2:01 p.m., September 7, 2002 (#32) - Marc
  >How does a guy like Bid McPhee become the 5th best non-pitcher on the ballot in total WS? I
think the guy is a HoMer, but fifth?

I don't doubt that McPhee is deserving of fifth place on CWS among 19th century players. He had a long career which lots of other 19th century players, and especially middle infielders, didn't have.

The real question always goes back to whether total career stats is the way to rate and rank, or whether peak value (whether WS or whatever) has a role. McPhee is the best 19th century 2B on CWS but probably no more than 3rd or 4th on PWS. So now comes the fun part that the numbers can't decide. How do McPhee's apples compare to Barnes'(or Richardson's or Childs') oranges?

Posted 8:49 p.m., September 12, 2002 (#33) - TomH (e-mail)
  defense of McPhee -- OWP of .552, OPS+ above average, very long career, few injuries, great defense. Maybe equal to Mazeroski as a hitter, not as good at 2B.

A very weak crop of 2Bmen. Did James miss out on H Richardson somehow in the NHA? Anyway, McPhee's career is likely as valuable as Richardson's, only 4 fewer WS per season and longer career. Dunlap is good in the 80s, but I see him as behind the other 2, and there just aren't many 2B I see as top 40 players overall. Bring on Cupid Childs!
TomH

Posted 12:27 p.m., September 13, 2002 (#34) - scruff (e-mail)
  McPhee was MUCH better hitter than Mazeroski Tom. It's not even close. Mazeroski's OWP is more like .400 than .552 (unless McPhee's number above is adjusted to defensive position, but I don't think it is).

I really think there are 3 paths to the HoF or HoM.

The first is obvious, long career, high peak. These guys (as Bill James once said) kick the doors open and yell, "I'm here, where's the beer!"

But there are two other paths, and both are equally deserving. One is the Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, McPhee, Rusty Staub, Vada Pinson path of being a very good player for a very long time, with a few big, but not huge years. These players are usually way underrated while playing. I wouldn't put Baines in this path, because he doesn't meet the "a few big years" standard. Very few of these guys actually end up getting in.

The other path is the Koufax, Kiner, Belle path, where the guy has some monster years, but for whatever reason a very short career. The Hall has typically welcomed these guys although they have to wait sometimes.

I think both paths are equally viable. But to compare Bid McPhee to Bill Mazeroski does the 19th century man a great disservice if you ask me. The only way this is possible is if you use a timeline adjustment and picture Mazeroski going back to 1885 as himself, with all of the nutritional increases (not to mention 3 extra generations of natural selection giving him a better gene pool), etc. I don't really think this is fair.

Sure a minor timeline adjustment is reasonable, because it's tougher to dominate a league these days (which makes Barry all the more incredible). But to just discount all of the old time players doesn't make sense to me.

McPhee was very, very good player for a very, very long time. That's worth a lot. Richardson had the one monster year, but the rest of his peak is pretty similar to McPhee's, and McPhee had a much longer career. I think the two are toss up, and I'd probably take McPhee if we were starting a league and it was 1879. I could see Richardson, but either way I think the two are damn close.

Richardson was a better hitter, but McPhee was a wizard with the glove, at 2B. I mean the position is treated like 3B is today (that is, not as important) and he still racks up almost as many defensive WS as Ozzie Smith did at SS. Unless the WS methodology for 2B is extremely flawed, the guy was an incredible defensive player.

I think the man to compare McPhee to is Brooks Robinson. 2B then was like 3B in modern times. Both were amazing, miles ahead of their peers with the glove. Both played their entire career in one city. Both were pretty good hitters, though nothing special with the stick. Brooksy, not Maz is the man to make the comparison with.

I'd equate Richardson to a guy like Ron Santo. Short career, very good hitter.

Both are HoMers IMO.

Posted 8:40 p.m., September 15, 2002 (#35) - Tom (e-mail)
  Scruff's point is good - Brooks is a much better comp than Maz for McPhee, although I'm not ready to put McPhee's defense quite in a class with Mr Robinson (as in, most valuable def career at his position).
Has anyone seen or posted Pete Palmer/Dallas Green's analysis of league quality differences? It is in the book The Hidden Game of Baseball, published in 1984 or so. I have it somewhere (not with me right now), and I would like to see how the AA compared to the NL in the years both leagues ran together. Any other insights on league quality would be greatly appreciated!

Posted 12:29 a.m., September 16, 2002 (#36) - John Murphy
  Has anyone seen or posted Pete Palmer/Dallas Green's analysis of league quality differences?

Boy, now that's an odd twosome! :-)

Posted 10:58 p.m., September 28, 2002 (#37) - John Murphy
  Updating my top five second basemen (in order):
Bid McPhee (I had been underestimating the competition he faced)
Hardy Richardson (originally had him number one, Hardy didn't play as many games as McPhee at a premium defensive position).
Ross Barnes (including his NA numbers)
Fred Dunlap
Fred Pfeffer

Posted 4:15 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#38) - TomH
  Has anyone seen or posted Pete Palmer/Dallas Green's analysis of league quality differences?

Boy, now that's an odd twosome! :-)
--
My bad. Really, really, my bad. It was Dallas ADAMS, not Dallas Green. Note to self: Think before hitting "send".

Tom

Posted 4:56 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#39) - John Murphy
  TomH:
You weren't the first to make a mistake here and you certainly won't be the last. I know from my own personal experience. :-)

Posted 4:16 p.m., November 2, 2002 (#40) - Rob Wood
  Spink says that Fred Dunlap was the greatest second baseman of the 19th century. Just throwing this out there for what it is worth.

Posted 7:44 p.m., November 2, 2002 (#41) - John Murphy
  Spink says that Fred Dunlap was the greatest second baseman of the 19th century. Just throwing this out there for what it is worth.

All-around or just as a fielder?

Posted 11:44 a.m., November 3, 2002 (#42) - Rob Wood
  I don't have the book with me right now, but I am almost sure Spink meant all-around (hitting, defense, baserunning). He spends about a full page singing Dunlap's praises, and quotes a couple other experts as saying that Dunlap was the greatest second baseman ever (written in 1909). The evidence that has come down to us seems to suggest that Hardy Richardson was a greater player, especially if we discount Dunlap's outstanding UA season.

By the way, Cap Anson named Fred Pfeffer as the second baseman on his personal all-time best team. Of course, Pfeffer played along side Anson for many years in Chicago, so we should probably disregard Anson's opinion. The full team (appearing in a TSN 1918 article) is Ewing, King Kelly, Anson, Pfeffer, Williamson, Barnes, Lange, Gore, Ryan, Duffy, Rusie, Clarkson, and McCormick.

Posted 8:06 p.m., November 3, 2002 (#43) - Marc
  Rob, are you sure of Anson's selections--two second basemen, no shortstop, five outfielders?

Posted 1:35 p.m., November 4, 2002 (#44) - Rob Wood
  Anson didn't go exclusively with one player per position. He had both Ewing and Kelly as catchers (though Kelly was a great all-around player). Barnes was listed as the shortstop. And I think he listed four outfielders because he wanted to add Lange who (in my opinion) doesn't really belong. Anyway, Anson's list is quite different from my list made almost 100 years later.

Posted 9:23 p.m., April 12, 2003 (#45) - Welday Walker
  Hey Bud, quit calling me "Wendy." How would you like it if I called you "Betty?"

Anyway, if I were voting for any 19th C. blacks, Fowler would be my pick. He probably wasn't as good a player as Frank Grant, but his longevity and role in organizing many teams gives him extra credit. I don't see where George Stovey has any better claim to the HoM than Perry Werden does. My brother Moses was good defensively, a so-so hitter, and not very durable.


First Basemen on the opening ballot

This will be the first of many threads to discuss players at each position on the first Hall of Merit ballot.

A gigantic thank you to David Jones, John Murphy and KJOK. They ran the numbers through the spreadsheets for me and it was a major help. Without their help it would be two months from now before this thread would have been posted. Thanks guys!!

I'm going to list the player's career WS, top 3 seasons, top 5 consecutive and a few other things, like % played at each position (based on seasons, not games, very important w/shifting schedule length), etc. All WS numbers are adjusted to a 162-game season, based on team games. Hopefully the formatting works . . .

The players are listed here alphabetically. Let me know if anyone was overlooked.

Later in the week, I'll be adding offensive W-L records that I've computed, as well as a total of Stats retroactive MVP, all-stars, etc., so check back here as well. This is just a beginning, these numbers aren't meant to be a criteria, just a starting point for discussion. I'll be adding NA WS by the end of the month I hope.

Coming up with reasonable adjusted pitching numbers are still in the works, hopefully in the next two weeks or so.

Let me know what you think of this format. More will be coming . . . The resumes will appear when you link into the discussion, you'll have to scroll back up.
--posted by Joe Dimino at 3:36 PM EDT / Link / Discussion (110 Comments)

Posted 3:48 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#1) - scruff (e-mail)
  I put the WS before the names so they'd line up better, but I can easily change that if people don't like it.

Anson, Connor and Brouthers stand above this pack. I think Joe Start deserves serious consideration considering his late start (no pun intended). I mean the numbers he put up after the age of 32 are truly amazing.

Harry Stovey should be a LF, but I imagine he'll get selected as well.

Dave Orr has a Koufaxish argument if you weigh peak value heavily. His 5-year peak would be higher, but he missed significant playing time in two of the 5 years. He'd have about 165 WS for the 5-year stretch from 1884-88 if he had been healthy in 1887-88. He did put those numbers up in the AA though, so they have to be discounted a little. Not saying he belongs, but he's worth a look-see at least.

Those six players are the only candidates that I see with any chance of being elected. I need to see where he ranks amongst players at other positions, but Joe Start is going rank pretty high on my ballot once we get past the obvious guys like Anson, Connor, Brouthers, Ewing, O'Rourke, etc..

Posted 4:16 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#2) - John Murphy
  Good job Scruff!

I would disagree with you on Stovey though. He played 43% of his games at first, while only playing 30% in LF. He also had his best seasons at first. IMHO, I think each outfield positions are different in value (as are each of the infield positions). As you have mentioned, it's not a big deal.

The Joe Start comments are interesting. He falls in the same category as Candy Cummings; they straddle professional and nonprofessional leagues. I don't know if we should set up a pioneer section to elect players such as these.

As of right now, the only three I would select are Anson, Brouthers and Connor (in that order). Stovey possibly, but I'm not sold on him. Orr and Larkin had short careers in a lesser league, so I would pass on them. Looking forward to other comments!

Posted 5:15 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#3) - scruff (e-mail)
  I just want to add a huge thank you for David Jones, KJOK and John Murphy for running the numbers through a spreadsheet that I've transcribed. I'll put this comment at the top as well, meant to do that and forgot. Great job guys!!!

Posted 5:22 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#4) - Craig B
  The very first discussion and already we are into meta-theoretical questions. :)

I speak of Joe Start, of course. One of the problems in evaluating whether Start is a good candidate for the HoM is whether or not we want to count pre-professional baseball, to what extent we count it, etc.

Start clearly was one of the five best players of his era, but "his era" is really before the NA was formed.

As a result, if we just want to name good ballplayers, then surely he should go in fairly easily. But in terms of winning games in the major (professional) leagues, then his candidacy is a longer shot.

So the question of how high to rank Start depends to some degree on what you think the project is about.

I'll be putting him up high and damn the torpedoes, but I'm interested in what the rest of you think. Maybe someone can change my mind. With his high peak (can you peak after your peak? :) he will be high on my ballot regardless.

My ranking among the 1B men, just from eyeballing the candidates, goes Anson-Connor-Brouthers-Start-Orr-Morrill and then (if it matters) the Larkin-Reilly-Tucker group.

I would only ever vote for the first five unless I had a very empty ballot...

Stovey I would put in the OF, but otherwise he ranks just behind Brouthers.

Interestingly, I thought Comiskey was a better player than this.

Posted 5:40 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#5) - MattB (homepage)
  According to Baseball Libary, Dave Orr's career ended following a "paralyzing, career-ending stroke."

Ouch.

Posted 5:43 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#6) - MattB
  Info on Joe Start, also from the baseball library:

"One of the foremost stars of baseball's early years, Start first gained prominence with Brooklyn's Atlantics (1861-70), whom he helped go undefeated in 1864 and 1865 to win the national championship. He played five years with the New York Mutuals of the old National Association and was in his thirties when the National League was formed in 1876. After leading the NL in hits (100) in 1878 with Chicago, he joined the Providence Grays, helping them to a pennant in 1879 and captaining the 1884 pennant winners. Start is credited as the first first baseman to play his position away from the bag (although some say it was Charlie Comiskey), an advantage underscored by the fact that his chances per game and putouts per game exceeded those of other first basemen of his time."

Posted 5:51 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#7) - MattB
  Thought I'd quote myself in a more appropriate forum is my quixotic effort to demote Cap Anson to third best first baseman of the era below Connor and Brouthers. The general gist of my argument is that, looking year by year, it's the rare year that Cap Anson is the best first baseman in the league (1872 and 1881 are the only years I'd put him first). Meanwhile, Connor and Brouthers alternated dominance for most of the era. I said also in another thread:

"When comparing offensively I like to look at prolonged dominance. Take, say, years with OPS+ above 150.

Connor: 8 consecutive, 10 out of 11 (1882-1892)

Brouthers: 9 consecutive (all above 160), 12 out of 13 (1881-1893)

Anson: 3 consecutive, 8 out of 17(scattered between 1872 and 1888), most dominant season was 1872, age 20 in the weak NA."

Posted 6:08 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#8) - MattB
  Another anti-Ansonian argument, looking just at Win Shares, is by considering Win Shares above Average. Assuming an average hitter receives 13.5 WS per year (81 wins times 3 WS per win divided by 2 950% for hitters) divided by 9 offensive players), Anson had 270 WS above average in his 22 year career, Brouthers had 288 WS above average, and Connor had 266 above average. The numbers would likely skew more away from Anson if one considered hitting numbers for average first basemen, or at least average non-pitchers.

Those numbers, of course, exclude Anson's NA years, but also gives him full credit for early NL years, where the competition was likely weaker, and when seasons were shorter and less onerous than the later seasons in which Connor and Brouthers excelled.

Posted 6:44 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#9) - And for my 5th post in a row . . . (homepage)
  What thread does Dave Foutz make the ballot as?

He was a much better pitcher than hitter, but played a majority of his games as first base, and did crack the Top 10 in some offensive categories.

Maybe you need a "multi-position" thread, too. Dave Foutz would be near the top of that list.

MattB

Posted 8:01 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#10) - Jumbo McGinnis
  Jumbo McGinnis, as quoted by Al Spink in "The National Game"
(published 1910, time of quote is from "this summer")

"Comiskey was the 'Hal Chase' of his day. He played a deep first base and was the first man to field the position as it should be covered. When 'Commy' started to play first base all the first basemen were big men of the Pop Anson, Dan Brouthers, Dave Orr, Roger Connor order. Dave Orr weighed 250 pounds. He was a left-handed hitter and could kill a fast ball, but he couldn't run a lick and never covered an inch of ground around first base. Dan Brouthers was another giant. Like Orr, he could fairly murder the pigskin, but he held his job on his hitting, not for any ability he ever displayed as a fielder around the initial sack. Connor handled the sack more acceptably than Brouthers or Orr, but he was never in the hunt with Comiskey as a fielding first baseman. About the only man of that period that classed with Comiskey as a fielder was Long John Reilly of the old Cincinnati Reds."

Jumbo pitched for Comiskey's Browns from 1882-86 and the Reds in 1887.

Posted 8:14 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#11) - scruff (e-mail)
  Comiskey was a terrible hitter for a 'first-sacker'. I have his career offensive W-L record at 94-113, .453. He's quite possibly the most overrated player in history, in that a lot of people think he was pretty good. He wasn't.

His average year as a hitter was that of Steve Cox or Wes Helms 2001. I don't care how good his glove was, he was just an awful hitter.

Posted 8:47 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#12) - Silver King
  I would love to know more about the fielding for these candidates. The info that's most inaccessible to us is how good they were as fielders, and y'alls work on the win shares includes their fielding win shares which is far better info than anything currently available (except maybe for anecdotes/public-impressions like Jumbo's).

But simply hearing that Connor totalled 50-odd career fielding shares doesn't convey much to me. Is it possible to convey how much better/worse than average the guy was in specific seasons? It'd be _great_ to know that, at least for the pretty serious candidates, at least for their prime years.

(I guess that'd be average for that time period, whatever that'd be. From the 1870's through the '90's, average might've morphed more than a little...)

If I recall correctly, Scruff/Joe is a big DMB enthusiast. An equivalent to the DMB fielding ratings would be sweet! E.g. knowing that Big Dan, while a humongous hitting beast in 1886, was just a "Fair" first sacker that year, while Roger Connor was a "Very Good". That'd give me the upshot of the data such that I could readily grasp a player's impact. Or if you can 'simply' provide the info by which we can figure out those labels for ourselves...

Of course, this goes for the other positions too.

Posted 9:20 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#13) - Silver King
  I would love to know more about the fielding for these candidates. The info that's most inaccessible to us is how good they were as fielders, and y'alls work on the win shares includes their fielding win shares which is far better info than anything currently available (except maybe for anecdotes/public-impressions like Jumbo's).

But simply hearing that Connor totalled 50-odd career fielding shares doesn't convey much to me. Is it possible to convey how much better/worse than average the guy was in specific seasons? It'd be _great_ to know that, at least for the pretty serious candidates, at least for their prime years.

(I guess that'd be average for that time period, whatever that'd be. From the 1870's through the '90's, average might've morphed more than a little...)

If I recall correctly, Scruff/Joe is a big DMB enthusiast. An equivalent to the DMB fielding ratings would be sweet! E.g. knowing that Big Dan, while a humongous hitting beast in 1886, was just a "Fair" first sacker that year, while Roger Connor was a "Very Good". That'd give me the upshot of the data such that I could readily grasp a player's impact. Or if you can 'simply' provide the info by which we can figure out those labels for ourselves...

Of course, this goes for the other positions too.

Posted 11:38 p.m., July 8, 2002 (#14) - scruff (e-mail)
  Silver, I'll eventually add the times in the top 1, 3 and/or 5 (suggestions) in the league in fielding win shares at the position. I'll try to come up with some era norms.

One thing I can do is put the letter grade Bill James gave the player based on his fielding. I'll try to get those up there at a minimum tomorrow.

I know win shares loves Roger Connor as a defensive 1B and thinks Brouthers was fair at best.

I've swapped an email or two with the powers that be over at Diamond Mind, and I've sent them my WS spreadsheet. I'm can't wait until they have the time to see how well their ratings correlate with WS, for the current data. If those correlate well, It'll be a big plus for the WS method. Right now WS are the best out there for a defensive rating when PBP data isn't there, but I'd love to see them validated w/PBP data.

Posted 2:55 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#15) - John Murphy
  Here are the Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morril: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68

The more I analyze Joe Start's credentials, the more I like.

Posted 8:11 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#16) - fracas
  "Interestingly, I thought Comiskey was a better player than this."

Interestingly, so did Comiskey. And he had unlimited opportunties (as an owner) to tout himself and his era as superior, and did so frequently. He also made claims (many proven false) to have invented most defensive positioning schemes and every piece of equipment from shoe leather to hair grease. Since he could throw you out of the pressbox, nobody really called him on it for decades, but you just can't take claims about Comiskey seriously without strong corroboration.

Posted 8:15 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#17) - fracas
  Can we perhaps get the original spreadsheet data as a download? I would love to play around with the numbers, reranking the lists by different categories of excellence, etc. I know it's probably a messy spreadsheet for the years with multiple leagues coming and going and varied schedule lengths, but I'd like to go poking around in the data's innards....

Great job!

Posted 9:07 a.m., July 9, 2002 (#18) - scruff (e-mail)
  Fracas, I'll be posting the original spreadsheets once they are cleaned up a little. Meant to say that as well. They are actually pretty user friendly, they were designed with public consumption in mind.

I'll probably just post them over at MostlyBaseball.com which as basically become a spreadsheet repository since Robert and I joined Primer last fall. Once they're up, I'll set up a link here. Hopefully by early next week, but I'm going to be out of town this weekend, and it's going to be a busy next week or so at work as well.

Posted 12:22 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#19) - Craig B
  Scruff, I will be very interested in getting spreadsheets, etc. so that I can build DMB seasons for these years. :) The fielding stats are the "missing link" I need in putting together old years, a project I am very interested in...

I will look over on mostlybaseball later.

As always, you go above and beyond the call of duty...

Posted 12:36 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#20) - scruff (e-mail)
  Craig thanks for the kind words, but I'm a little selfish here . . . I really want to see the results of this project. It'll give me such a better reference when I'm in one of those 'should he be in or shouldn't he be in' arguments.

This started because I'm an Andre Dawson fan, a huge one. But I'm not sure how I evaluate him. Right now the discussion is along the lines that he's better than some but not better than others, but what I want to know is, if the correct 215 or so guys were in, would he belong. So I started doing this myself and I thought, may as well get a strong group of voters and actually have elections, etc.

As a corallary, every can keep track of their own personal Hall of Fame through this project. Just note to yourself somewhere who would have made it if only you voted, and string your own personal elections along accordingly (while still voting in our 'real' one also).

John, good work, I posted this on the 2B thread as well . . .

I think you'd be better off re-running the numbers using the number of career WS above and the 'seasons' above. This will at least give a more accurate weight to seasons that were shorter because of the schedule.

For example Cap Anson played 2523 games. His midpoint, for games played came in his age 35 season. He played as many games after the age of 35 as before. Brouthers reached his midpoint in games played at 30. Cal Ripken also crossed the midpoint early in his age 30 season.

Even if you say that Anson played until he was 45, he still should have passed the midpoint at age 32 or 33, not 35. Just taking WS per 162 weighs someone like Anson's older seasons too highly.

Posted 1:18 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#21) - DanG (e-mail)
  Did a quick look for long-career firstbasemen who were not included in the analysis. Found a couple besides Foutz, of course nobody great:

Bill Phillips, 1879-88
Patsy Tebeau, 1887-1900 (also played a lot at 3B)

They may not be worth crunching the numbers for, but I wanted to be sure they weren't overlooked by accident.

DG

Posted 2:14 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#22) - John Murphy
  WS per 162 games should NOT be the sole criteria for evaluating a player. I just threw it in as another area of a player's contribution.

Here's the problem that Win Shares by themselves or career WS above and the 'seasons' above have. You can have two players with the same amount of Win Shares for a season, but one player could have created them in far fewer games (which is more valuable to the team). WS per 162 games can pick this up. Again, this is just another tool to use, not the sole one.

Patsy Tebeau will be on the third basemen list, Dan. Foutz will be on the pitchers list. Bill Phillips wasn't included because we only took players that were on a STATS all-star team or were included on the top 100 lists in the NBHA. Scruff explained that if you weren't on any of those lists, you are HoM bound. He did add that if someone wanted a player to be added, that was fine. I'll run up the numbers for tomorrow on Phillips.

Posted 3:29 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#23) - Rob Wood
  Great to see the progress. By the way, where can I read up on the structure of the ballot (by position, by era, etc.), how voters fill out their ballots (rankings, ratings, yes/no, etc.) and how the ballots will be tallied (who ultimately gets elected into HOM)? I am confident that these issues have been discussed and the decisions archived somewhere, right?

Posted 4:58 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#24) - jimd
  Jumbo doesn't say that Comiskey was 'great', just that he could field. Of the six fielders mentioned, the defensive win shares per season look as follows:
(integerizing the win shares makes the following averages somewhat imprecise particularly with shorter careers; added Start because of general interest in him)

2.4/5 Brouthers
2.4/5 Reilly
2.6/7 Orr
2.6/7 Start
3.0/0 Anson
3.0/0 Comiskey
3.2/3 Connor

Anson and Connor spent significant time at other positions; don't know how that affects these numbers. It's certainly evidence of their potential for being a good fielding first baseman. However, potential does not always translate into reality. If Comiskey is the one revolutionizing first base play by using a more mobile style of play, then the others will have lower numbers until/unless they adopt that style also. Of course, the influence could also go the other way (or originate with some unknown fielder whose name is now lost).

Posted 5:32 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#25) - jimd
  For completeness, here's everybody:

2.0/3 Cartwright
2.4/4 Tucker
2.4/5 Larkin
2.4/5 Brouthers
2.4/5 Reilly
2.6/7 Orr
2.6/7 Start
2.9/3.1 Werden
3.0/0 Anson
3.0/0 Comiskey
3.2/3 Connor
3.5/6 Stovey
3.6/6 Morrill

Stovey and Morrill spend even more amounts of time at other positions.

Posted 6:28 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#26) - scruff (e-mail)
  A few things . . .

JimD -- What does the second number mean, as in the '7' in '2.6/7 Start'? Thanks for figuring the numbers . . .

John wrote: 'Here's the problem that Win Shares by themselves or career WS above and the 'seasons' above have. You can have two players with the same amount of Win Shares for a season, but one player could have created them in far fewer games (which is more valuable to the team). WS per 162 games can pick this up. Again, this is just another tool to use, not the sole one.'

----

John, since the WS above are normalized to a 162-game season, as well as the 'seasons' above, I think it works out the same. If someone created 20 win shares in an 81-game season in 1882 and someone created 40 win shares in a 162-game season in 1961, the numbers are considered equal. Both would show up as 40 WS, 1.0 seasons (if they played all 162-games) above. If the player only played 73 or 146 games, it would be 40 WS, .9 seasons. Is this what you were getting at?

----

Robert, check the "Something Better" article located under my archive on the authors page (too tired/lazy/wanting to leave work to find the link it and link it).

I'd imagine the discussion is in a couple of the earlier threads as well. Basically it there will be a set number of electees each 'year' (based on a spreadsheet Robert Dudek and I worked on which evaluates number of teams and level of competition on moves the scale over time). Voters will simply rank the candidates from 1-10 on their ballots and the top 1-5 (depending on the year) get in.

We're going to have 5 the first year, then it will trail down, I think to one a couple of years, then 2 per year until sometime in the 70's or 80's and then we'll start adding 3 or so, and I think 4 some years.

In the end, we'll have exactly the number elected in real life through 2002. I ran a quick check and the real Hall inducted something like 38 from 1990-2002 and we had the same amount or within one or two.

There was discussion about allowing bonus points to 'weigh' a ballot, as well as following MVP tradition and giving 14 to the first place guy; also discussed (I think) was giving the extra 4 points through the spots we elect. For example, in a 3 inductee year, the ballot would be 14-13-12-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. In a 2 inductee year, the ballot would be 14-13-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. We never really came to a consensus I don't think.

If you (or anyone else) wants to raise any issues with this, feel free; please use either the 'distribution list test' thread or one of the earlier threads where this was discussed, so as to keep the confusion to a minimum.

Posted 7:39 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#27) - jimd
  Sorry, I wasn't clear about that. 2.6/7 means either 2.6 or 2.7 depending on whether "17 win shares" means "16.5" or "17.5". The shorter the career, the more the uncertainty. Cartwright's career is so short (3.7 seasons of 162 games) that his defensive value can range from 2.0 to 2.3 depending on whether "8 win shares" means 7.5 or 8.5 or somewhere in between.

Posted 11:19 p.m., July 9, 2002 (#28) - Silver King (e-mail)
  Craig B.: awesome project! I'm interested; tell us more.

Scruff: I'm particularly interested, beyond their career letter grades, in what seasonal letter grades the candidates deserved during their prime years as hitters. In the seasons when they were studs, how all-around or one dimensional were they?

I guess the handy spreadsheet stuff will impart the means to divine this knowledge... But I could use some help at understanding how to measure how good, normal, or bad a guy's numbers are.

Posted 1:30 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#29) - John Murphy
  (John, since the WS above are normalized to a 162-game season, as well as the 'seasons' above, I think it works out the same. If someone created 20 win shares in an 81-game season in 1882 and someone created 40 win shares in a 162-game season in 1961, the numbers are considered equal. Both would show up as 40 WS, 1.0 seasons (if they played all 162-games) above. If the player only played 73 or 146 games, it would be 40 WS, .9 seasons. Is this what you were getting at?)

Here is a perfect example of what I was trying to get at: Andy Messersmith and Randy Jones in 1975. They both had identical totals of 28 WS. However, Messersmith achieved his total in 321 innings, while Jones created his in only 285. Jones had more value for his team because he achieved his total in less innings. The 162 game projections that we created are great to place the 19th century players in a contemporary setting, but it doesn't correct the problem with Messersmith and Jones that I outlined.

As I have mentioned in other posts, I think we need a combination of career WS plus WS per 162 games to get a clearer picture of all eligible players. I hoped my explanation helped.

Posted 8:44 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#30) - MattB (e-mail) (homepage)
  WHY JOE START IS A BETTER HoM SELECTION THAN ANYONE ON THE 2002 ALL-STAR TEAM

The date was June 14, 1870, the year before the first organized professional league (the National Association) formed, but the year after the first all-professional team (the Cincinnati Red Stockings) formed.

For all of 1869, the Red Stockings were undefeated. The started 1870 just as they had the year before -- win after win after win.

Then, on June 14, the Red Stockings visited the Brooklyn Atlantics at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was viewed as a worthy challenger, but had yet to jump that final hurdle -- dethroning the champions.

The game was played hard and close in front of a full house (about 9,000 fans!), and the teams did not disappoint. In fact, going into the bottom of the 11th inning, the score was tied 7-7. (sound familiar?)

But, that day the game was not to end a 7-7 tie. No, instead in the bottom of the 11th, Brooklyn star Joe Start came to the plate. Start hit a hard liner into right field, and ran it out hard enough to earn a triple, but then scored the winning run on the same play on Cincinnati's Charlie Gould's throwing error.

Brooklyn won the game 8-7, and the Cincinnati Red Stockings suffered their first loss ever in a year and a half. This would set off a spiral of events, leading to Cincy's not joining the National Association the next year.

Start -- and half of his team -- would join the New York Mutuals in 1871, leaving the Atlantics a shell of their former selves when they too joined the next year.

Posted 9:57 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#31) - Craig B
  Silver King,

(BTW I love the handle)

I would like to compile season disks for DMB 8 for the NL and/or AA for pre-1893 baseball. The aim would be to get 8 or 16 owners together and play a league. I am working on the league format.

2 things will have to happen for this to go forward... since my time is short, I will need to find some way of automating the process (I think I might be able to write a script to automatically put together a season disk... I'd like to try it because it opens up all sorts of possibilities)

Second, I need decent fielding data for those years... which I don't have. I'd like to look at fielding WS to see how they match up to DMB ratings for contemporary players... if they match well, I think I've found my way of calculating fielding ratings (take fielding WS and take out the error component to get the range component).

I have some doubts about whether the DMB engine will be able to adequately reproduce the flavour of pre-modern (i.e. pre-1893) baseball but I think with careful attention to things like gb% and players' pull ratings I might be able to make it work. The fair-foul rule is a problem, of course... so are nine-ball walks and so forth.

I think that nevertheless the project would be fun.

Posted 10:24 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#32) - Bug SeaSlug
  (The game was played hard and close in front of a full house (about 9,000 fans!), and the teams did not disappoint. In fact, going into the bottom of the 11th inning, the score was tied 7-7. (sound familiar?)

But, that day the game was not to end a 7-7 tie. No, instead in the bottom of the 11th, Brooklyn star Joe Start came to the plate. Start hit a hard liner into right field, and ran it out hard enough to earn a triple, but then scored the winning run on the same play on Cincinnati's Charlie Gould's throwing error.)

The game ended? What an interesting concept!

Posted 10:56 a.m., July 10, 2002 (#33) - Synonym Police
  Actually, all games end. "End" is synonymous with "Finish" and "Stop." However, those second two words are not synonymous with each other.

Joe Start's game in 1870 finished. The All-Star Game last night merely stopped.

Posted 1:19 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#34) - John Murphy
  Here is the WS per 162 games for Bill Phillips: 16.54

I have sent the career WS prorations to Scruff so he can add them here.

Posted 1:43 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#35) - scruff (e-mail)
  Patsy Tebeau has been added to the list above. He's not a serious candidate.

John, I'll get the Bill Phillips numbers up there a little later, I had already edited the thread. 3B and SS numbers are coming soon . . .

Posted 3:13 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#36) - John Murphy
  I didn't realize Tebeau played more games at first than third. No matter, he ain't a HoMer.

Posted 9:38 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#37) - scruff (e-mail)
  Bill James letter Grades for defensive players. I added JimD's numbers also, and there isn't as strong a correlation as I thought there would be.

A+
Dave Foutz
Patsy Tebeau

A
Roger Connor 3.2/3
Perry Werden 2.9/3.1

A-
Charlie Comiskey 3.0

B
John Morrill 3.6
Dave Orr 2.6/7
Joe Start 2.6/7

B-
Cap Anson 3.0
Dan Brouthers 2.4/5
John Reilly 2.4/5

C+
Bill Phillips
Tommy Tucker 2.4

D-
Henry Larkin 2.4/5

Posted 10:21 p.m., July 10, 2002 (#38) - jimd
  I think part of that is that the "expected number of defensive win shares per season" varies drastically by position. What is phenomenal for a 1B would be terrible for a SS. So those players that spend significant time at other positions get distorted by the numbers I calculated.

Larkin's numbers look like a B- at 1B, except he spent 43% of his time at more demanding positions, so maybe his D- is quite warranted. Morrill's numbers are off the chart for a 1B, but he spent 31% of his time elsewhere, more than half of that playing SS/3B, so who knows, maybe his cumulative grade should be a B. The few guys that are 90+% 1B seem to line up pretty well.

A
Perry Werden 2.9/3.1
A-
Charlie Comiskey 3.0
B
Dave Orr 2.6/7
Joe Start 2.6/7
B-
Dan Brouthers 2.4/5
John Reilly 2.4/5
C+
Tommy Tucker 2.4

Bottom line is I don't think that my numbers were that helpful other than in helping quantify what the letter grades might mean.

Posted 2:48 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#39) - John Murphy
  Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morrill: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Patsy Tebeau: 14.57
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68

Posted 2:52 a.m., July 12, 2002 (#40) - John Murphy
  Correction:

Here is the updated Win Shares per 162 games for the first basemen (NA not included as of yet):

Cap Anson : 27.12
Dan Brouthers: 34.38
Ed Cartwright: 14.40
Charles Comiskey: 14.57
Roger Connor: 29.45
Henry Larkin: 24.22
John Morrill: 19.33
Dave Orr: 29.69
Bill Phillips: 16.54
John Reilly: 20.16
Joe Start: 25.18
Harry Stovey: 28.88
Patsy Tebeau: 14.57
Tommy Tucker: 16.90
Perry Werden: 22.68

Scruff:
Do you need me to send over to you the Bill Phillips data?

Posted 1:33 a.m., July 14, 2002 (#41) - John Murphy
  161-25, 20, 19-87-Bill Phillips-9.7 sea.-137 batting-23 fielding
1B 98%, C 1%.
notes: 1879-1888. 5 year peak from age 25-29. Played in N from 1879-1884; 1885-1889 in AA.

Posted 3:09 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#42) - Marc
  Two questions:

Where does Cal McVey fit into all of this. He, like Deacon White, was a dominant player in the NA who played all over the diamond--C, 1B, 3B. I believe he ended up with more games at 1B than anywhere else, though I am not sure if that is for his entire career or only for NL games. I have no idea if he is a HOFer or HOMer but he is probably deserving of consideration in the same way that White and Ross Barnes are.

Second, the contrast between Brouthers and Connor is interesting. Both played the same number of seasons and racked up similar career WS. Brouthers clearly did so in fewer games. Why did Brouthers miss so many games? Was it injury related, or possibly contractual, or what? Does anybody know the story. Thanks and thanks.

Posted 5:45 p.m., July 21, 2002 (#43) - John Murphy
  Marc:
Cal McVey's numbers should have been on the catcher site.

Posted 8:19 p.m., September 16, 2002 (#44) - scruff (e-mail)
  This is just to 'reactivate' this thread so people can find it.

Posted 11:28 p.m., September 28, 2002 (#45) - John Murphy
  Updated top five first basemen list (in order):
Cap Anson
Dan Brouthers
Roger Connor
Harry Stovey
Joe Start (if including pre NL numbers, better than Stovey)

Posted 12:53 a.m., September 29, 2002 (#46) - Marc
  Here's a wild hair. I am going to leave Anson off my year one ballot because of his role in organizing the banning of black players from MLB. Then I plan on voting for him in year number two. Just my way of weighing in on the "character" issue.

Just for the record, I will vote for Joe Jackson for the HOM, but here again maybe I'll skip him for a year or two. Haven't decided on Pete Rose yet.

Posted 12:55 a.m., September 29, 2002 (#47) - Marc
  Here's a wild hair. I am going to leave Anson off my year one ballot because of his role in organizing the banning of black players from MLB. Then I plan on voting for him in year number two. Just my way of weighing in on the "character" issue.

Just for the record, I will vote for Joe Jackson for the HOM, but here again maybe I'll skip him for a year or two. Haven't decided on Pete Rose yet.

Posted 12:12 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#48) - George Stovey (homepage)
  Marc,

I like your thinking, but how about instead of just leaving Anson off your ballot, you replace him with me?

I was the best black player in the 19th century, played for many white teams (completely dominating the International League, some of whose records I still hold), and was the black player most immediately affected by Anson's "character issue." (see link).

Posted 12:24 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#49) - John Murphy
  Mr. Stovey, how about if both Cap and you go in (plus Eddie Grant and probably Bud Fowler, also)? I don't know where they would place at their respective positions, however.

Posted 12:44 p.m., September 29, 2002 (#50) - Marc
  George, I read your post(s) earlier along with discussion of Fleet Walker et al. I hope that when our final ballot comes out that black players will be included. My assumption is that scruff and others are preparing such a ballot (thank you, thank you, thank you for all the work that involves) and that there will be some kind of summary, like an AdjWS number of something on the ballot/spreadsheet. For the black candidates a narrative description is probably needed in lieu of the quantitative analysis.

If you are not on the ballot please alert us to it at the time.

Posted 12:20 a.m., September 30, 2002 (#51) - Brian H.
  I am not certain which category (i.e. BLOG) this thought belongs in...
Back during some of the period we are interested in there were actually post-season games -- first between the AA and NL and then during the monopoly years the "Temple Cup" series. I realize that these were generally not approached with the same seriousness that players today -- or even those in the early 20th century -- approach the World Series. However, I think that 19th century post-season performances probably merit some sort of consideration. As it now stands (please correct me if I am wrong) our reliance on regular season performances ignores these games entirely.
Unfortunately, I have no real idea how to figure these post season contests into our analysis -- exactly how much consideration they warrant. But, I do think we should consider them.

Posted 9:05 p.m., September 30, 2002 (#52) - Marc
  Every analytical system I'm aware of excludes post-season play in every era, so the 19th century doesn't suffer by comparison. Has anybody ever done post-season WS?

Posted 1:38 p.m., October 1, 2002 (#53) - Brian H
  Even though we will not be figuring post-season achievments statistically (Win Shares etc.) it is fair to say that we will at least be considering them at least implicitly in many 20th century cases. For example, Mazeroski's HR in the 1960 series will stand him in good stead as will memorable post seasons by: B. Robinson, G. Nettles, Mathewson, Reggie Jackson, Enos Slaughter, Koufax, Phillippe etc. Obviously, this list is partial and perhaps even a bit controversial but at the very least it is fair to say that Post Season achievements -- generally World Series but more recently playoffs too -- will be considered when we get closer to our own era. Shouldn't we consider those 19th century players who had similar achievements in the 19th century World Series betwwen the AA and the NL and the subsequent Temple Cup series between the two best NL teams as well ?

Posted 1:39 p.m., October 1, 2002 (#54) - Brian H
  Even though we will not be figuring post-season achievments statistically (Win Shares etc.) it is fair to say that we will at least be considering them at least implicitly in many 20th century cases. For example, Mazeroski's HR in the 1960 series will stand him in good stead as will memorable post seasons by: B. Robinson, G. Nettles, Mathewson, Reggie Jackson, Enos Slaughter, Koufax, Phillippe etc. Obviously, this list is partial and perhaps even a bit controversial but at the very least it is fair to say that Post Season achievements -- generally World Series but more recently playoffs too -- will be considered when we get closer to our own era. Shouldn't we consider those 19th century players who had similar achievements in the 19th century World Series betwwen the AA and the NL and the subsequent Temple Cup series between the two best NL teams as well ?

Posted 3:08 p.m., October 1, 2002 (#55) - Rob Wood
  I for one will be hesitant to put much weight on 19th century post-season performance since the games often were not fully engaging. They played around with different approaches but nothing really worked until the advent of the 20th century version of the World Series. Too often one team (or both teams) did not take the games very seriously. In my opinion anyway.

Posted 1:07 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#56) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  I've been spending some time on the numbers and am having a hard time understanding the basis for prior generations' assumption that Anson was the top 1B of the 19th century. Was it career length? Team success? Some species of intangibles (whether real or imaginary)? On the numbers I think he's clearly behind Brouthers and Connor on peak value and they both had pretty long careers (though neither nearly as long as Anson's). At this point in time, I don't see Anson as anything more than the Pete Rose of the 19th Century: a legitimately very good player for a very long time who played on great teams but was often not even the best player on those teams and who has a strong non-playing-field reason not to give him the benefit of any doubts. I think both Anson and Rose are surefire selections among the top 210 players of all-time, but neither belongs at the top of that pile. Am I missing something?

Posted 1:59 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#57) - Rob Wood
  My two cents on Anson. He received a great deal of publicity for not only being a great player but also being a pioneer. He was the leader of his teams and was one of the "faces" put to early baseball. From our perspective of over 100 years after the fact, especially as we analyze the statistical trail, it is hard to recapture how mythic Anson was in his own time.

Posted 2:23 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#58) - John Murphy
  I have Anson about equal with Brouthers as a player (quality*length of career), though Cap wins when factoring in the NA. Brouthers was, without question, the better player, but wasn't as durable as Anson (who was?).

Posted 9:15 p.m., October 3, 2002 (#59) - Marc
  Anson's longevity was remarkable especially at a time when few had careers of modern-day length. Combine that with shorter seasons, and his 2200+ games are a lot--more than Gehrig, more than many modern first sackers. And you might want to read Bill James' write-up of Anson in the new Abstract. Anson, he says, "saved" major league baseball at a time when it had failed in New York and Philadelphia. He was the first to systematically steal the best players from other leagues, thus institutionalizing the NL as a "major" and others as "minor" leagues. And he made baseball popular in Chicago, the largest city left in the league at that time.

He was well-enough known to have gone on the vaudeville tour during the winter doing stupid baseball player tricks.

Of course we also know about Anson's other "intangibles."

But what is surprising is what Andrew and John have pointed out. His 381 WS are a lot, sure, but Brouthers is at 355 and Connor at 363, and their peaks are vastly higher. It is hard to see how James ends up with Anson at #11 and the latter twosome at 18 and 22. James' formula is supposed to rank CWS the same as the 3-yr peak WS and the 5-yr peak WS and the WS per 162 games.

� For CWS Anson is 5th (again, a remarkable achievement with the short seasons and not even including NA) but Connor and Brouthers are 7 and 8.

� For 3 yr peak Anson appears to be about 35th, which maybe reflects the short seasons; Connors is 11th and Brouthers about 18th.

� For 5 yr peak Anson is again around 30th or so, Connor is 12th, Brouthers about 15th.

� For WS per 162 games, where the short seasons are compensated for, Anson is indeed about 12th, but Brouthers is 2nd and Connor 10th.

Add all that up and Anson should be about 20th or so, Connor about 10th and Brouthers about 11th. The timeline adjustment would be insignificant but would not work in Anson's favor, anyway. So what is left in James' formula to account for his final ratings is "The Subjective Element," and there is good reason for this perhaps. Anson's NA performance would fall in here according to James' formula, but of course he totally blows off Wright's and Barnes' and White's NA performance. Then there's inequalities in the caliber of competition, post-season play, defense and other stuff, none of which work for Anson. Then there is the category of "Leadership." Well. If he single-handedly "saved" the game, that's a lot of leadership. And that other thing, that was a lot of leadership. James also has a category "Special Contributios Utterly Beyond the Reach of Statistics," and lists Jackie Robinson as the first example. Can Anson score highly in the same category as Jackie Robinson?

James has exposed Anson's role in banning black players from the major leagues. But his ranking, moving up about 10 places from where the numbers place him while the timeline pushes Brouthers and Connor down by six to ten slots, can only be understood as having an extremely large positive contribution in the "Subjective" category and the only subjective categories possible are the NA and the fact that he "saved" MLB in 1878. No apparent demerits for that other thing.

"The Pete Rose of the 19th century" is a nice snapshot, I'd never thought of it. Appropriate on pretty much every level.

Posted 12:15 a.m., October 4, 2002 (#60) - Brian H.
  Purely as player Anson certainly ranks no better than Connor or Brouthers, especially if we exclude the NA from consideration). However, his role in making major league baseball what it is (for better or worse) is likely unmatched by ANY other player from his era.

For instance, if "leadership" involves what Anson did as player-manager (which is I think how he earned the nickname "Cap") Anson was among the most successful of the 19th century. He won 5 NL titles in 7 years and put together a record of 1284-970 for a winning % of .570 (this includes a few games managing in the NA and his brief swansong with the New York NL team. From the various stories I've read he was also a relatively hands on manager who also performed many of the tasks that are viewed today as part of the GMs job -- scouting and trading players and trying to keep them in line. Conversely, Anson's role in ensuring that African-Americans be excluded from "organized baseball" (an unfortunate term that implies that the Negro Leagues were not organized) is reprehensible.

Ultimately, since we are selecting a top 210 or so, Anson gets in even if we cannot come to definite conclusions about where he ranks relative to Connor and Brouthers.

Posted 12:55 a.m., October 4, 2002 (#61) - jimd
  Did Anson have a long career? Just for fun, I adjusted some of Anson's other statistics (same idea as with the WS, though less defensible). Anson then would have 3941 G (Rose leads with 3562; he would have needed another 2.3 fulltime seasons). He also would have 5554 Hits (Rose "only" has 4256) in 16440 AB (Rose has 14053), raising his career BA to .338. He also would have 3223 RBI and 3276 R (compare Aaron with 2297 and Rickey with 2248, not including this year; they would each need to play another decade or so). And he'd be the career leader in Doubles with 945 (Speaker has 792, which would adjust up to about 840). (These adjusted numbers are conservative; I could probably justify more radical adjustments during the NA years.)

Pete Rose of the 19th Century indeed. Only those short seasons keep him from being as unreachable as Cy Young.

Posted 10:02 a.m., October 4, 2002 (#62) - dan b
  Jim must have been reading my notepad. I was going to make a similar comparison to Cy Young. Right now I have Anson at the top of my first ballot.

Posted 10:18 a.m., October 4, 2002 (#63) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  A couple of quick points:

(1) In addition to Rose and Young, another good comparison might be Hank Aaron -- incredible consistency and longevity and a peak value that made him one of the best players in the league (and on occasion the best) but didn't have him tower over the league like the top rung of stars. Ultimately, I think his peak fits in somewhere between Rose's and Aaron's and his ranking should probably do the same.

(2) I agree with the statements that Anson v. Brouthers v. Connor doesn't really matter because they're all in anyway. Going one step further, I'm having a hard time coming up with any metric that doesn't have all three of them in the top five on my first ballot. Is this one of those rare situations where talent in an era is concentrated in one position or should I look harder at defensive contribution and spread them out on the ballot? Thoughts?

Posted 11:24 a.m., October 4, 2002 (#64) - dan b
  I too would put all 3 1B in the top 5. Is it possible that given the equipment and game strategies of the time, the defensive role of the first baseman was greater than it is today, or at least perceived to be greater?

Posted 2:47 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#65) - jimd
  Andrew, using Adjusted WS on a career basis, and with no available NA stats, I agree with you. The other with a good career is OF Jim O'Rourke. Paul Hines will probably be comparable to Connor and Brouthers when NA stats are included. If you double the defensive WS (a crude compensation for halving the pitching WS), Kelly, McPhee and Glasscock also have careers about as valuable as Brouthers. (I published those numbers on another thread here last summer.)

Looking at peak value, with no NA numbers, Connor is the man. I don't have access to individual seasons for defensive WS, so I can't redo the peaks except in an extremely crude estimate; maybe Hines and George Gore can compete with him. I don't want to do any further analysis without NA numbers, because I estimate that an average member of the NA Boston team (aka, the NA All-Stars) will have peak numbers comparable to Connor. How this actually shakes out depends on how the pitching/defense split is resolved.

Posted 2:51 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#66) - jimd
  The caveat here is the pitcher/position-player debate. Depending on how the pitching numbers shake out, we may have a major debate on peak vs career, with the pitchers dominating the peak discussion and the position players the career discussion, and integrating the two being a significant issue.

Posted 3:02 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#67) - John Murphy
  Brouthers was, by far, the best first baseman using peak value. His Win Shares per game was much higher than Connors or Anson, while there is hardly any difference between Connors and Brouthers with their extrapolated Win Shares (191 for Roger; 188 for Big Dan).

Posted 3:35 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#68) - Marc
  I agree that all three go in...eventually. If ones enjoys picking nits, of course, it matters who goes in in year one and who waits. So if fans of the three first sackers pick them, say, 1-3-5, but others maybe like some pitchers better, than the #5 guy on some of our ballots might have to wait.

My choice would be to make Anson wait. Not that his numbers aren't impressive, and the extra leadership he showed in popularizing the NL at a crucial point in its history is "historic." But take away the leadership component (or in other words, considering his negative leadership to cancel out his positive leadership) and as I said in a previous post, he clearly ranks behind Brouthers and Connor. Taken all into account, I am going to leave Anson off my ballot for one year as my comment on his role in banning black players. Then the second year, having had my little protest and assuming he is not elected (big assumption), then, sure, I might put him #1.

Similarly I will vote for Shoeless Joe in his second year of eligibility, and probably Pete Rose too.

Posted 6:01 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#69) - jimd
  John, convince me why Rate has much to do with Peak. To me they are two different things. Peak measures the contribution in season size packets. Rate rewards a variety of things, some good, some bad, like not playing hurt or subpar, retiring too early instead of too late, coming up too late instead of too soon. Rate may measure ability in some sense, but if the player can't translate Rate into Peak, then you also need a quality backup player for when he can't play. (Starting pitchers today have Rates that dwarf position players, but you need at least 5 of them.)

Tip O'Neill has a quality Rate, right behind Brouthers. He also has a very short career, and his Peak values don't make my top-10 list. Whatever the reasons, he couldn't translate the Rate into Peak.

BTW, doing my double defense estimate, Gore passes Brouthers in Rate;
Ewing, Kelly, Moynahan, and O'Neill are right behind him. Moynahan was a one-year wonder at SS, and an injury case, if I remember correctly. Ewing and Kelly are Catchers who couldn't play there more than part-time due to the equipment shortage - shinguards and masks hadn't been invented yet and wearing visible padding was not manly. Kelly was more successful at playing other positions when not catching; his managers were better able to translate Rate into Peak than Ewing's.

Posted 6:07 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#70) - jimd
 
coming up too late instead of too soon

That should have said, "starting later instead of too soon".

Posted 7:35 p.m., October 4, 2002 (#71) - jimd
  I forgot to point out that Connor probably increases his lead over Brouthers in Peak if any defensive adjustment is applied to the original BJ-WS calculations to correct for overvaluing the pitching. (If pitching is devalued, then fielding would pick up most if not all of the slack.)

Posted 12:09 a.m., October 5, 2002 (#72) - dan b
  Marc writes �James has exposed Anson's role in banning black players from the major leagues�.

More accurately, James has attempted to minimize Anson�s role. In 1907 Sol White wrote �Were it not for Anson, there would have been a colored player in the National League in 1887.� I have a couple books in my library that pre-date anything Bill James wrote that quote White and attribute the color line to Anson. In �The Baseball Book 1990�, Bill James writes ��the portrayal of the color line as being a consequence of Cap Anson�s racism is extremely na�ve. Anson had no authority by which to impose a decree of racial exclusivity. The notion that Anson �intimidated� the National League into banning blacks is silly. Certainly, Anson was a great and imposing figure, but the National League at that time was full of great and imposing figures � Spalding, Chadwick, Ward, Harry Wright � many of whom had far more impact on the decisions of the league than did Anson.�

It was the time of Jim Crow. Sadly, it affected all walks of life in America and would have affected baseball without Cap Anson. James writes ��the weight of Anson�s voice was derived from one thing: that he was a spokesman for the majority position.�

HoM electors in 1906 would not have held Anson�s racial views against him. We shouldn�t either.

Posted 2:40 a.m., October 5, 2002 (#73) - John Murphy
  jimd:
Rate (at least in the way I was using it before)has nothing to do with Peak (which I don't use in my rankings anymore). To me, peak is to arbitrary. Should we go with three seasons? Or four? Maybe five?
I'd rather go with career WS (quantity) times WS per game (quality). I consider both of them equal. Am I right? Depends on how you want the HoM to be set up.

BTW, my Dan Brouthers analysis from before was using a combination of WS per game and total WS for his best three seasons.

Posted 5:26 a.m., October 5, 2002 (#74) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  John--

I understand why you think statistical measures of peak are arbitrary, but I think some assessment of how good a player was at his best has to be part of our analysis. To me, an exclusive focus on career numbers (longevity) and rate (productivity) doesn't begin to answer the single most important question we should be asking about a player: was he for some significant period of time legitimately great? Sure, there are exceptions -- players who were consistently good for so long that they belong among the top 210 players of All-Time (they Ryans and Roses of the world) -- but for the most part the first thing I want to know is was a guy at his best among the very best players in the game. While I fully understand that my position is only one of several possible approaches, I am going to consistently favor players who were among the very best in the game for 3 or 4 or 5 years (e.g., Paul Hines, Wally Berger, Dale Murphy).

Posted 12:19 p.m., October 5, 2002 (#75) - TomH
  Since we seem to have agreed to a ballot structure which emphasizes big point differences based on top 5 vs non-top-5 (who is "in" or "out"), I'll spend most of my analysis time diessecting my 4th thru 7th place votes.

I think Brouthers is a clear winner over Connor. Black ink? No contest. OPS+, 170 to 154. OWP diff .770s to .720s I believe. Brouthers led his league in OPS and OPS+ 8 times; those are Bonds-like numbers. Connors led in OPS+ once. Connor's advantage is a little better D, and a longer career, but that's not nearly enough. I don't think anyone doubts that Brouthers was THE dominant hitter of the 19th century...it would difficult not to put him #1 on my ballot.

My candidates I'm wrestling with in the 4th-8th positions (depending on if there's a spot or 2 for pitchers) are
adjWS WS/yr OWP Defense years
White 332+NA 23.8 607 C/3B good 71-90
Kelly 421 30.9 688 RF/CF 78-93
O'Rourke 488+NA ??? 647 LF/CF 72-93
Glasscock360 24.3 602 SS verygood 78-95
Connor 488 29.4 720? 1B good 80-97

Anson and Brouthers and Ewing are already "in" my top 5, the first 2 on both their numbers and the fact that the early 20th century players and writers saw them as supreme (tied for 1st in original HoF balloting, along with many other quotes about how they were tops). It looks like on raw numbers that Connor might go in too, but I'm having trouble listing 3 1Bmen. I don't have O'Rourke's WS/game, and I need to think some more about values of the strong defensive players. Hines' OWP is too low to include him here. Wright and even Joe Start are giants in the mist...it's hard to tell how tall they stand, but I will tend to put the the sure things in first.

Posted 5:04 p.m., October 5, 2002 (#76) - John Murphy
  Andrew, your approach is not wrong. There are other who value longevity over peak. They're not wrong either. It depends on what you think the Hall should be made up of.

I try to straddle both ends. By taking both rate and career, both peak and career guys get a shot at making it.

Maybe Bill James' original approach in his Historical Abstract of 1985 should apply. Have a Hall for the peak guys, while another for the longevity guys.

BTW, my approach would be kind to Rose, but not to Ryan. Pete was a much better player than the Express (but I'll take Nolan on character any day).

Tomh:
Orator Jim's WS per game was 27.85. I can't see him not making my first ballot, but you never know.

Posted 10:13 p.m., October 5, 2002 (#77) - Marc
  Im with Andrew in having a strong preference for honoring players with high peak value ovr those with high career value and career counting stat totals. The reason as has been said before is that the single most important unit of measure in all of MLB is not the run or the win or the out...it is the pennant. In principle and within reason, I'll take a player who gives his team an unfair chance to win a couple-three pennants over a guy who gives his team an unfair chance to finish second ten times.

Posted 10:23 p.m., October 5, 2002 (#78) - Marc
  Re. Cap Anson, I don't disagree that segregation on America's ballfields would have occured with or without him. As it happens it DID occur with Cappy loudly at the front of the parade.

If Anson doesn't get "credit" for this, then how are you going to evaluate Jackie Robinson?

I've already mentioned that Anson ranks about 20th on James' numerical ratings and moves all the way up to 11th, swimming upstream against the extremely strong current of his timeline adjustment, based on his great leadership. So Dan B. is right, James minimizes Anson's role.

But he turns it around in Jackie's favor. I count 22 second sackers with more career WS. Jackie has a high peak, it's true--5th for 3 years, 6th for 5 years, and 5th for WS/162. Add all of that together, however, and he averages out at about 9th-10th. With timeline adjustment and "intangibles," he jumps to 4th. What intangibles? The same ones that count for nothing on Anson's resum�, in reverse, of course.

If Jackie had never been born, somebody would have been first. If Anson had never been born, blacks still would have been banned. I don't know. I see it working both ways, on both resum�s or neither.

Posted 11:29 p.m., October 5, 2002 (#79) - Brian H
  While is it likely true that segration and desegration in major league/"organized" Baseball were inevitable in that they were inextricably bound up with the American history in general I do not think that Robinson is merely the beneficiary of "intangible points" we may allocate for integration. Just any other talented Negro League player would not have succeeded as Robinson did. in fact, were it that easy Branch Rickey would have spent far less time making his choice and just picked the best player without looking for someone with the exceptional character of Robinson.

Many men of all of colors would have wilted under the pressure and abuse Robinson was under as the first black in the majors. Indeed, the much discussed pressure and abuse Roger Maris endured as he broke Ruths record in 1961 or that Henry Aaron endured as he broke Ruth's record in 1974 pale in comparison to what Robinson prevailed over.
Robinson's achievment (and it has his achievment) was exceptional and few if any other players could have suceeded as he did.

Conversely, Anson's dubious achievment in effectively codifying segration was rather ordinary. By the standards of its time it was not particularly difficult. Yes, it would have happened -- almost exactly as it happened I would hazard -- if Anson had not played any leadership role in it. To me the praise Robinson deserves is enormous, while the condemnation due Anson is relatively minor.

If we want to point the finger of blame at individuals for segrating baseball in the 19th century and then maintaining it until 1947 I would lay the lions share of the blame at the one man in baseball who had the power and stature to have ended Baseball apartheid 25 years earlier, Judge Landis. It was only with his demise and replacement by Happy Chandler that Branch Rickey began to seek out a player of exceptional character and fortitude to integrate baseball.

Posted 11:51 p.m., October 6, 2002 (#80) - Marc
  Well, I can assure you that Judge Landis will also rank very low on my ballot.

Seriously, what you say may be true but Anson still will be missing on one first year ballot.

Perhaps more analogous will be the question of what to do with Enos Slaughter, Dixie Walker and others who gave Robinson a particularly hard time--of course, Slaughter may be the only one where any choice needs to be made, I don't know.

Posted 5:08 p.m., October 7, 2002 (#81) - scruff (e-mail)
  Great discussion guys. I've been out of town, just now checking back in.

My original intentions are up on www.mostlybaseball.com, posted last year at this time (boy, we are moving at a turtle's pace, which is mostly my fault, but that will soon be rectified).

Anyway, this is what I wrote:

"This project is not only about numbers, we all know the numbers don't always tell the true story. Allowances should be made for players who miss time for the war or the color line. Some players played in parks that hurt or helped them more than than they would an average player. Many things can distort the numbers.

We will, however, present numbers to show players' contributions in the proper context. We hope these tools will help you with your decisions. For each player on the ballot we will provide at a minimum a link to their career statistical record on www.baseball-reference.com, as well as their career offensive W/L record (adjusted for league, park and team games played). For pitchers, we will include the BB-ref link as well as an adjusted career W/L record that will take into account their park, league and team games played as well.

Players' contributions on the field are to be the main criteria for selection, off-field actions should only be taken into account for the effect they had on the players' teams on the field of play."

I don't think we should take Anson's racist actions into account at all. I agree pretty strongly with Dan B, that his actions were a product of their time, and should be left there. We are trying to identify the greatest players ever, that's it. If a guy indisputably threw a game, that's one thing. If a guy was such a jerk that his teams continually self-destructed, that's also important. I can't think of anything else that should affect a ballot.

I don't think Enos SLaughter or anyone else should suffer any ill will from the HoM for their taunting of Robinson either. Being a jackass doesn't exclude you. It's Merit as a player that gets you in or out here, at least that was the intent.

As always, I'm open to anyone trying to change my mind, if you'd like to try.

Separate issue, someone above made mention about Dan Brouthers having a black ink edge over Connor. Black ink does not take ballpark into account.

If WS are remotely accurate, Connor has to be considered at least equal to Brouthers at their peaks. Connor's 3 best years (when adjusted for season length) average 42.7 WS to Brouthers' 39.7. Connor had 191 (38.2/season) over his 5-year peak, Brouthers 188 (37.6/season). Any adjustment increasing defensive contribution would widen the gap, as Connor was a much better defensive 1B.

It's close, but I'll take Connor over Brouthers on peak or career value.

I think Anson's edge on career value is enough that he should be ranked ahead of the other two. Not even accounting for his NA years he's 79 WS ahead of Connor, 92 ahead of Brouthers.

And it's not like his peak was chopped liver. His 3 best years averaged 39.7 WS (same as Brouthers) and his 5-year peak averaged 33 per season.

Posted 6:07 p.m., October 7, 2002 (#82) - TomH
  career vs peak value, or Brouthers/Anson/Connor

My ballots will be much more closely related to career value than peak. Career value means to me how many pennants did this guy likely contribute to his team. Pennants are sometimes won by 20 players having good years, other times by 4 superstars. Thus, a player who adds 3 wins a year over 20 years was just as valuable (= good) as 6 wins a year for 10 years. The distribution is different, but the value the same. Yes, there could be small differences in the pennant value of 6 wins a year versus 3 wins twice, but I am convinced these are small, especially when taking into account the fact the MLB coaches/GMs like consistency when planning their teams. The problem with determining "wins" is the replacement level of course, which is why I wouldn't simply use WS because the implied replacement level is so low. I don't believe for a moment that Anson's teams would have won 570/3=190 ish less (pro-rated) games without him. Palmer's TPR sets replacement level at "average", which to me is too high, but maybe at least as close to the true value than James' use of barley a .250 wpct player. I recommend Baseball Prospectus' article in their 2002 book, which set the number somehwere in the low .400s WPCT depending on circumstances. Furthermore, while average or good players may be prevalent in all phases of MLB, it seems obvious that the level of quality of replacements on a 1870s team (and 1800s in general) was lower; this is another reason I discount Anson's huge WS totals. I would hedge toward rating players more along the lines of above average in the early days than above replacement. So, if I use WS, I would charge a small playing time penalty to account for this.

Having said all of that, I can't figure out why in the world Connor's WS per game are better than Brouther's. Yes it's true that black ink does not take into account park effects. But OPS+ DOES, and Brouthers is all over Connor. Speed is not a dig difference and I don't see Brouthers missing a lot of playing time. Where does Connors get his extra WS per game if Brouthers out-hits him almost every year??? I'm not trying to be stubborn...I could move Brouthers down, given convincing evidence, but so far my less-than-keen eyes have not turned up enough to make me disbelieve what the offensive ###s tell me and go with Win Shares for these 2.

Posted 6:24 p.m., October 7, 2002 (#83) - scruff (e-mail)
  Defense and Durability, Tom. Connor picks up 53 dWS for his career, Brouthers 34.

Also, for his career Brouthers has 6 more oWS, and played about 2 1/2 fewer seasons, because he missed more time. He was a better hitter than Connor, in any given AB.

Both players had 18 year careers, but Brouthers missed 4.2 seasons, Connor just 1.6. OPS+ will not take that into account. It's like Manny Ramirez this year, vs. Jason Giambi. Giambi didn't miss too much time, and was more valuable, despite the fact that Manny was a better hitter this year, when he was playing.

Posted 6:30 p.m., October 7, 2002 (#84) - scruff (e-mail)
  One other thing, just to put it in perspective, Connor played an average of 147.6 games in his 18 year career (adjusting all seasons to 162 games) and Brouthers only played 124.2. So while Connor wasn't quite as good as Brouthers per AB (which is what OPS+ measures), he played about 18% more games in any given year. That's why his best years were more valuable (and contributed more to pennants) than Brouthers' best years did.

Posted 8:23 p.m., October 7, 2002 (#85) - jimd
 
Separate issue, someone above made mention about Dan Brouthers having a black ink edge over Connor. Black ink does not take ballpark into account.

True, in general, though I don't think it applies that much here. Their OPS+ indicates that for most of the 80's, Brouthers was the best hitter in the league, and that Connor was #2. And WS says that in some years, Connor was able to more than make up the small difference through his defense.

I haven't run any numbers, but the difference in their Rates may derive from their decline phases. Brouthers disappeared quickly; in '94 he was 1B for the champion Baltimore Orioles, the WS "All-Star" at 1B. In '95, he's playing 22% of a season for last place Louisville, and in '96 43% for the 8th place Phillies, and then he's gone. Injury?

Connor has a more typical decline. (Note that he's 10 months older than Brouthers.) In 93, he and Brouthers are tied at 16, 1 WS behind Jake Beckley for WS "All-Star" 1B. In 94 he's slipped to 4th, 14WS, and shipped off to St. Louis, Louisville's arch-rival for the cellar the next few years. In 95 he's slipped to 5th, 12 WS. 96 is an off-year for 1st basemen; Connor has 14, and is 2nd to Dirty Jack Doyle, a converted catcher who had been his replacement at 1B in New York, and was now with Baltimore. In 97, the soon-to-be 40-year-old hits .229 for 22 games (17% season), and it's over. (WS numbers are unadjusted and I might have missed an "All-Star" if he got himself traded mid-season.) The difference is about 2-2.5 extra seasons of sub-par performance by Connor who was willing to play if someone was willing to pay. I imagine the St. Louis fans didn't have too much else to cheer about during these years with a .300 team. Rate*Career may penalize Connor because he takes the money and doesn't have the good sense to retire when the stat is maximized.

As noted in the BJNHBA, Connor became a successful minor-league team owner after his playing days were over. Brouthers became a night watchman at the Polo Grounds, a job acquired for him by his old teammate in '94, John McGraw.

Personally, I don't see much to separate them, except maybe the extra boost that depreciating the pitching gives to the defensive ratings. Connor played on two championship teams in his prime in New York, and is probably the team MVP in 1888 (3rd behind Tiernan or Ewing in 1889; I'm assuming depreciated pitching here). Brouthers played on four; he's a key part of Detroit's 1887 team (though Thompson is the team MVP); he's just another good player on Boston's Player's League Champion (Radbourn or Nash is the team MVP); again a key part in the Boston Reds of the AA in 1891 (CF Tom Brown is the team MVP); just another good player on the Orioles in 1894 (LF Joe Kelley gets the MVP).

Posted 9:45 p.m., October 10, 2002 (#86) - TomH
  Value of Durability

I see now that Connor has 3 advantages over Brouthers....defense, seasons played, and durability. After re-looking at the numbers, I agree that the difference between them is smaller than I had first thought. I also see the reason why Win Shares gives different answers than I come up with.

Win Shares (I will use what is in James's NHAbstract) show this:
WS career PA WS per 600 PA
Brouthers 356 7658 27.89
Connor 362 8837 24.58

Brouthers is +13.5% in per PA performance, and Connor had 15.4% more PA. BUT. This WS thing is "shares of wins above a very poor replacement player". What if I construct a measure of "shares of wins above an average player"? If "average" is 10 WS per season of 600 PA better than "very poor", then Brouthers is +17.89, Connor +14.58, which now makes Brouthers 22.7% better than Connor. Well, that's a bit different now, isn't it? If WS, still taking into account durability and defense, were scaled a bit more toward above average than the absurdly low value James used, Brouthers would have more career WS. Since his stats were beter concentrated, Connor gaining extra bulk in his decline seasons, Big Dan's peak would be that much higher than Connor's. The call may be reasonably close, but I think it's more than enough to put one man in the top 5 and the other out.

Posted 2:41 a.m., October 11, 2002 (#87) - John Murphy
  I have Brouthers as the best left fielder in the majors for 1881, while having him as the best first baseman in the majors for 1882, 1887, 1889, 1891, 1892, 1893, and 1894. I also have Big Dan as the best first baseman in his league for 1883 and 1884.

I have Connors as the best third baseman in the majors for 1880 and as the best second baseman in the NL for 1884. I have him as the best first baseman in the majors for 1885, 1886 and 1888, while being the best first baseman in the NL for 1890 and 1891.

I have to still go with Brouthers as the better player. While he didn't play as many games, he unquestionably was doing more per game than any other first baseman of that era.

Posted 7:27 a.m., October 11, 2002 (#88) - Andrew Siegel (e-mail)
  TomH--

Your Brouthers-Connor analysis was helpful for confirming my decision to rank Brouthers over Connor, but I was surprised by your last sentence. Maybe that difference is enough to rank Brouthers in the top 5 and Connor out of it if you have Brouthers number 4 or 5, but it certainly isn't if you have Brouthers 1 or 2. Right now Brouthers is the clear number 1 on my ballot and I'm leaning towards Connor number 2; he'll certainly be no lower than number 4. He was the second best hitter of the eligible era, an excellent defensive player, and had a relatively long career despite a late start. I hope he doesn't get lost in the shuffle for the HoM like he did for the HoF.

Posted 2:05 p.m., October 11, 2002 (#89) - jimd
 
I have Brouthers as the best left fielder in the majors for 1881

The best hitter in the majors, yes. Best left fielder? With a .797 fielding pct (error almost every other game), and a range factor 10% below average, I think not. It looks like Buffalo was trying to find a position for his bat, and they decided mid-season to put him at first. Does anyone know if this coincides with the facts?

Posted 3:57 p.m., October 11, 2002 (#90) - John Murphy
  jimd:
You have a point. I forgot Big Dan split up time between first and left. I'd would put Tom York as the best leftfielder for that year, though Brouthers was slightly the better player (his bat helped out a lot). I also agree about Brouther's defense.

Posted 10:27 p.m., November 7, 2002 (#91) - TomH
  Win Shares and WARP - both use a very low replacement level, and thus may overrate those who played many games

As best as I understand WS without buying the book yet, and WARP from the web site, the value is established as being above a very poor player, something like a .250 WPCT. I believe that especially in the sparser 19th century days, it makes far more sense to measure how much better a player was than something close to an average Major Leaguer, like TPR attempts to.

It's apparent that a player can rack up 10 WS in a 160-game schedule just by being mediocre. What if we look at the top 3 1Bmen and measure their WS above "mediocre"?

From the BJ NHBA,
Win Shares AB+W
Anson 377 10053 not including the NA years
Brouthers 356 7549
Connor 362 8798

if I go thru each season and subtract 1 WS per 60 PAs (not to go below zero in any season), the table becomes

WS above mediocre
Anson 209 not including the NA years
Brouthers 230
Connor 216

Well, that tells a different story, doesn't it? WS gives much credit for playing time, so that for example in 1896, when the MLB average OPS was 741, you have
PA OPS WS WS above mediocre
Brouthers 267 917 10 6
Connor 537 789 14 5
I think anyone trying to win a pennant would rather have a part-time world class player than one who hits about league avg for his position and played all year.

Including Anson's NA ##s and adjusting for the shorter schedule will still put him over Big Dan in my book.

Posted 12:22 a.m., November 8, 2002 (#92) - Marc
  >not to go below zero in any season

This is key. Until they start taking back pennants and World Championships from teams that fail to play .500 in some future year, there should be no negative values.

Posted 12:48 p.m., November 8, 2002 (#93) - MattB
  Tom,

I think it was Rob who, a few months ago, made the point that when determining career value, the appropriate comparison is against an "average player" rather than a "replacement player", since one would expect that, absent Star Player X, the team would, on average, play Average Player X for that decade. Replacement player is the appropriate standard for any measurement of a season or less, but once you get past a season time period, "average" is the way to go. I agree with that viewpoint.

Posted 7:19 p.m., November 9, 2002 (#94) - Craig B
  Replacement player is the appropriate standard for any measurement of a season or less, but once you get past a season time period, "average" is the way to go. I agree with that viewpoint.

I don't. I think the guy who plays ten years and is one-half of a win share below average per year is a much BETTER player than the guy who played two games in his career. He is not worse. In fact, I think they guy who plays quite badly (say four win shares below average per year) for five years is much much better than the guy who is average for one season, not vice versa.

It's two different ways of looking at what constitutes value. I'm not a GM, this is not (for me) a general manager's exercise, trying to put together a successful team. This is about who was a great player, and I think a guy playing average, even below average, for five years (say, at the tail end of his career) adds a substantial amount to his legacy, not vice versa.

Posted 3:10 p.m., November 10, 2002 (#95) - Rob Wood
  I have come to the view that the right way to think about this issue is to admit that the replacement level actually increases over time. The "next day" replacment level is quite low (say a .300 win pct), the "next year" replacement level is still rather low (say a .375 win pct), but eventually over a long enough time period (say 5 years) the replacement level approaches the league average level (.500).

So a player who hangs on for one more year and plays at a .400 level did indeed help his team and added to his legacy. But a player who hangs on for five years and plays at a .400 level over those five seasons probably did not help his team, and therefore should not add to his legacy (in terms of value).

Posted 10:08 a.m., November 11, 2002 (#96) - MattB
  "In fact, I think they guy who plays quite badly (say four win shares below average per year) for five years is much much better than the guy who is average for one season, not vice versa."

I guess we'll have to disagree on this one.

It is, of course, a perfectly valid way to look at a player to look at absolute contributions rather than comparing him to a baseline. The player who goes 1 for 50 in 50 major league plate appearances has contributed more, in some sense, than the player who doesn't play in the majors at all (by one hit).

On the other hand, if you want to compare a player to what the team could expect to get without him, one needs to look at replacement levels. In that case, over a sufficiently long career, the replacement level approaches the average performance at that position, since that is what the team could be expected to get if the player in question never existed.

I am not sure from Craig B's comment whether he is saying that he is looking at absolute values (not against replacement level), or whether he is comparing to the "one day replacement level" normally used to value a player over the course of a single season.

If it is the former, I cannot criticize, other than to say that I prefer a replacement level metric as more useful. If it is the latter, than I can criticize for the reason given by Rob above. If you compare a player to a baseline, it should be a reasonable baseline.

Without crunching the numbers, it is clear to me that the Orioles were better served by five years of above average Bobby Grich at second base than they were by ten years of about average Rich Dauer.

If Dauer never existed, the Orioles would have muddled through with a variety of second basemen who would have, on average, given average performances and the decade-end results for the team would have been about the same. If Grich never existed, one would expect the Orioles of the preceding five years to have been considerably worse.

A Billy Ripken, on the other hand, makes the Orioles a worse team than if he never existed. Six years of Ripken turning in below average numbers hurts the team more than two or three other guys taking turns putting up (on average) about-average numbers.

Give me one or two years of Grich over ten by Dauer, and one or two by Dauer over ten by Billy. The team will be better as a result.

Posted 3:04 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#97) - jimd
  I've often heard the term "replacement level" bandied about (and have a rough idea what is meant by it). Can anyone point me to articles which have been written about more accurately defining it, or, more importantly, measuring it?

Posted 3:32 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#98) - TomH
  The best I ever saw was a full article in the 2002 Baseball Prospectus

Posted 3:33 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#99) - TomH
  The best I ever saw was a full article in the 2002 Baseball Prospectus

Posted 3:37 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#100) - MattB
  jimd,

The best in depth analysis I've seen of "replacement level" is in the BP 2002 Book. Find a copy of that if you can.

Replacent level is generally not "measured" as much as "pegged", which means you give a pretty good guess and don't ask questions.

Baseball Prospectus' cards put a replacement level pitcher as one with a 6.11 ERA, a hitter as a player with an equivalent average of about .230 (you can adjust for position or not. Right fielders have higher replacement levels than second basemen). Fielding replacement is even more nebulous, because no one can really measure defense in absolute terms anyway.

BP then goes and messes up the whole thing by defining a "replacement player" as a player who is replacement level at hitting, fielding, and pitching, which is ridiculous since no one who has no above replacement skills would ever actually be a replacement player.

If you want to do it practically, remove the 750 players with the most major league playing time in 2002 (25 players for 30 teams). Then figure out the average stats of everyone else. That should be your composite "replacement player".

The term is generally used interchangeably with its identical-in-theory-but-not-in-practice cousin "freely available talent", which includes career minor leaguer and journeymen whom you can pay the league minimum.

Posted 4:35 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#101) - Craig B
  no one who has no above replacement skills would ever actually be a replacement player.

Shawon Dunston has no skills even *at* (much less above) replacement level.

Posted 5:06 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#102) - MattB
  I stand corrected.

Jose Lima, too.

Posted 5:53 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#103) - Craig B
  Yeah, I forgot LimaTime. Thank god those two didn't end up facing each other this year, or the combined weight of horribleness might have opened up a singularity and swallowed the Earth whole.

Actually, by the numbers, Dunston was easily above the zero level defensively in right field the last couple of seasons... so I may have to take back what I said!

Posted 6:39 p.m., November 11, 2002 (#104) - jimd
  Thanks, I'll go find me a 2002 Baseball Prospectus.

The actual definition of it has always perplexed me. I didn't know whether the bench guys were the replacement level players, or the guys called up from the minors, or who.

When we get before Branch Rickey, it makes a difference because clubs don't have a farm system, but have to dicker with independent minor league teams. Quality bench-level talent is not freely available at a moment's notice to the MLB clubs, but is already playing full-time under contract in the high minors.

When we're in the 1870's/1880's, clubs don't even have a bench (the no-substitution rule renders it superfluous for individual games). They take one general-purpose utility guy on the road with them, and if they're hit with an injury rash (two), they literally may have to hire somebody local to fill in for a game or two before somebody known to them can catch a train from home and join them. (This is the 1870's; in the 80's they're also carrying a couple of backup pitchers, one of whom can usually play a little right field, if necessary.)

Clubs value the ability to play multiple positions because this gives them more flexibility when dealing with short-term injuries. Once substitutions are allowed in 1889, teams start enlarging the bench, because in-game substitution as strategy becomes possible. Specialization becomes the norm, and position shifting on the scale of Kelly and O'Rourke seems to become a thing of the past. (Just a theory; there may be other reasons for this.)

Posted 1:20 p.m., November 19, 2002 (#105) - Carl Goetz (e-mail)
  My list:
Roger Connor
Dan Brouthers
Cap Anson
Harry Stovey
Joe Start
Dave Orr
John Reilly
Henry Larkin
John Morrill
Tommy Tucker
Charlie Comiskey

As you've probably guessed, I weight peak value more heavily than career value. This propelled Brouthers and Connor ahead of Anson. I think Brouthers was a better player than Connor, but Connor's durability advantage leads me to believe he was more valuable to his teams. The top 3 will all be high on my 1st ballot anyway, so the point is probably mute. I don't know exactly where my cutoff is for who is HoM material or not, but I do see Stovey and Start making my ballot relatively soon(but not the 1906 ballot).

Posted 12:51 p.m., March 9, 2003 (#106) - dan b
  Just thought I would pull up a thread from the days when we had some good, spirited discussion going on. On the assumption that this project is not dead in the water, has anyone given thought to what his 1907 ballot will look like? Last summer and fall we looked in detail at players eligible for the 1906 election with adjusted win shares and other sundry exercises in number crunching. Without the benefit of the adjusted numbers, where will you slot Billy Hamilton when his turn comes up in �07? Using the maligned James rankings as a starting point for discussion (although with the players I am bringing up, his time line adjustment is not a factor, as these players are contemporaries of the players eligible for our 1906 ballot) Hamilton is the first player we can vote on ranked in the top 10 at his position � If the first election enshrines Anson, Brouthers, Connor, Ewing and a pitcher, would it be reasonable to rank Hamilton at the top of your �07 ballot? How about Cupid Childs in 1908 or Ed Delahanty in 1909? . Childs is James� highest-ranking second basemen before we get to Lajoie in 1922. Delahanty is the first player we will be voting on listed by James in the top 100 players of all time. To put the question another way, if our first election were in 1909 instead of 1906, would Delahanty be at the top of your list?

Posted 1:45 p.m., March 9, 2003 (#107) - Tom H
  Right now Hamilton would make my top 7, not sure where without doing a bit more research. Delahanty would be a reasonable choice for #1 if he was on the '06 ballot, so I expect he'll be clearly at the top in '09 (unless Kid Nichols goes on the ballot the same year, in which case Kid bests all comers in my book)....but we got time to argue about them later :)

Posted 5:36 p.m., March 9, 2003 (#108) - dan b
  Let me correct myself. Childs is eligible in 1907. The player that James' rankings would shoot to the top of our ballots in 1908 is Jennings. Nichols pitched in 24 games in 1905 and waits until 1911. With 12 players selected through 1909, I see 4 going in that are not on the '06 ballot.

Posted 7:31 p.m., March 9, 2003 (#109) - Rob Wood
  If my voting ruled the day, I would vote in the ABC gang (Anson, Brouthers, and Connor) along with Kelly in 1906, then O'Rourke, Clarkson, and Hamilton in 1907, then White and Hines in 1908, and then Delahanty and Childs in 1909. By the way, in response to one of the questions, Delahanty would not be ahead of the ABC gang on my ballot if the 1909 ballot were our first ballot.

Posted 9:15 p.m., June 1, 2003 (#110) - John Murphy
  Right now Hamilton would make my top 7, not sure where without doing a bit more research.

I have Hamilton slightly inferior to Paul Hines in total value for all centerfielders up to 1901. The amazing thing is Sliding Bill accomplished this in six less seasons (BTW, this is by no means a knock on Hines).


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