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Metal Ed
04-03-2005, 02:06 PM
Figured I'd make a separate thread, rather than continue to hijack the Clash of the Titans thread.

Okay, here's how these work. Schell adjusts for 4 things:

1. Mean performance of the era. You all know what this means.
2. Park effects. His work really excels here. Rather than applying one broad park adjustment, as we see so often, he reasons that some parks are better for home runs than for batting average, and vice versa; some are good home run parks for lefties and some are good home run parks for righties; etc. So he has separate park adjustments for each offensive event analyzed, both from the right and left side!
3. Talent pool. He uses the standard deviation of the offensive event in question to adjust for the talent pool of the league at the time.
4. Late career declines. For each offensive event, the average productive career length is determined and becomes the basis for the number of at bats used to determine the fully adjusted stat for each player.

Then, the numbers are transformed into something that is easily understood: their equivalents for the period 1977-1992. In other words, what follows is what each player's career average per 550 NFP's (number of times facing a pitcher) is worth in 1977-1992 currency, assuming equal ballpark effects. Obviously, had he translated the numbers into 1992-2004 stats, we'd see bigger power numbers; into 1900-1910 stats, smaller numbers, power-wise, but bigger numbers in other categories like steals. He chose 1977-1992 because this period had a nice balance of power and speed, and no one single baseball strategy predominating to the exclusion of all others.

Note that the work rests on some assumptions, as all statistics do. He assumes that the quality of play has changed for the average player but not for the top performers - for eaxmple, the assumption is that a player in the 95th percentile in one era is the same as a 95th percentile in another era. He also assumes that universal changes in equipment or rules will affect all players equally (as do we all, when using mean-adjusted stats) when intuition says that this isn't true.

Only players with 4000 or more at-bats plus walks and plus hit-by-pitches were chosen for analysis. So 1140 players qualified for analysis. And the book has the numbers listed for each of them. Here's a juicy selection:

Hank Aaron

.310 BA; 28 HR; .378 OBP; .546 SLG; 23 SB

Ty Cobb

.336 BA; 22 HR; .406 OBP; .550 SLG; 63 SB

Joe DiMaggio

.309 BA; 31 HR; .369 OBP; .582 SLG; 4 SB

Barry Bonds

.294 BA; 36 HR; .429 OBP; .584 SLG; 33 SB

Mickey Mantle

.302 BA; 32 HR; .416 OBP; .554 SLG; 28 SB

Willie Mays

.308 BA; 29 HR; .391 OBP; .566 SLG; 49 SB

Honus Wagner

.324 BA; 22 HR; .395 OBP; .551 SLG; 45 SB

Babe Ruth

.309 BA; 50 HR; .439 OBP; .673 SLG; 10 SB

Ted Wiliams

.322 BA; 39 HR; .448 OBP; .628 SLG; 3 SB

Tony Gwynn

.338 BA; 6 HR; .392 OBP; .451 SLG; 25 SB

Rogers Hornsby

.327 BA; 31 HR; .430 OBP; .597 SLG; 10 SB

Despite the flaws in the assumptions, this is still light years better than the bogus "relative stats" drivel currently being paraded around as legitimate basis for cross-era comparisons.

leecemark
04-03-2005, 02:20 PM
--The examples seem like pretty good working assumptions to me. Obviously we can't know exactly how players would do outside their own time and place, but there is nothing on any of these players I'd say was seriously out of whack.

iPod
04-03-2005, 04:38 PM
2. Park effects. His work really excels here. Rather than applying one broad park adjustment, as we see so often, he reasons that some parks are better for home runs than for batting average, and vice versa; some are good home run parks for lefties and some are good home run parks for righties; etc. So he has separate park adjustments for each offensive event analyzed, both from the right and left side!

I've always been bothered by the park adjustment formula. It smears everything it touches; it's better than not adjusting, but its very, very, very flawed. VERY nice to see some more in-depth work in that field. Hopefully his work is adopted, or at least considered, by other sources.

iPod
04-03-2005, 04:42 PM
I'm also a little surprised by Joe DiMaggio's numbers. Only 4 SB per 550 PA? I woulda thought it would be a few more than that, when adjusting from the 40s when nobody ran, to the 80s when everyone ran. I'll defer to him, though. Does he record strikeouts? If so, what is DiMag's adjusted HR/K?

Metal Ed
04-03-2005, 05:14 PM
You'll have to do the math yourself, but he has Joe D. at 48 K's and 31 HR's/550 NFP. Great for a power hitter.

1. Tony Gwynn 19.7
2. Nellie Fox 22.0
3. Joe Sewell 25.0
4. Gregg Jefferies 26.7
5. Fernando Vina 27.5

1. Reggie Jackson 2692
2. Babe Ruth 2277
3. Jimmie Foxx 2117
4. Willie Stargell 1929
5. Mickey Mantle 1916
6. Tony Perez 1890
7. Mike Schmidt 1882
8. Andres Galarraga
9. Lou Brock 1803
10. Dale Murphy 1799

1. Hank Aaron 6607
2. Ty Cobb 6001
3. Willie Mays 5892
4. Stan Musial 5772
5. Pete Rose 5660
6. Babe Ruth 5583
7. Carl Yastrzemski 5436
8. Honus Wagner 5411
9. Eddie Murray 5327
10. Frank Robinson

Hunh. Eddie Murray.

leecemark
04-03-2005, 08:01 PM
--Murray is 9th all time in Total Bases for real too.

cubbieinexile
04-03-2005, 08:38 PM
Isn't Schell the guy who has the book that says that Tony Gwynn is the greatest hitter of all time?

leecemark
04-03-2005, 08:44 PM
--I believe that is greatest hitter for average of all time. I think that is an entirely reasonable claim, if indeed that is what he wrote. Any era adjusted look at the greatest hitters for average would have to have Gwynn and Carew at least near the top. Which, I must hasten to add, is far from saying the best hitters. Merely the highest average guys.

cubbieinexile
04-03-2005, 08:53 PM
I never read the book but Schell came out with a book called Greatest Hitters of all time and I believe in that book he called Tony Gwynn the greatest hitter of all time. Of course I have a feeling it was only based on batting average, and perhaps it was his publishers who decided to market the book that way. To stir up controversy and to cash in on Tony Gwynn's retirement. But is still weird to have that title floating out there for Tony Gwynn.

Now I believe he just published his newest book about sluggers and I believe he gives the title of greatest slugger to Ruth.

Metal Ed
04-04-2005, 07:10 AM
Correct, the first book was about batting average, and by that criteria, Tony Gwynn was the greatest ever. The new book looks at slugging - actually, at every major offensive event you can name.

RuthMayBond
04-04-2005, 09:23 AM
Mickey Mantle

.302 BA; 32 HR; .416 OBP; .554 SLG; 28 SB

Willie Mays

.308 BA; 29 HR; .391 OBP; .566 SLG; 49 SB

Tony Gwynn

.338 BA; 6 HR; .392 OBP; .451 SLG; 25 SB

Despite the flaws in the assumptions, this is still light years better than the bogus "relative stats" drivel currently being paraded around as legitimate basis for cross-era comparisons.I don't think these are too far from relative stats, but the SB AVERAGE for Mantle is interesting considering that is a third again more than his BEST season actual total and almost a fourth again more than Mays' BEST SB year. Gwynn's adjusted BA leader sure downgrades Cobb & TWilliams

leecemark
04-04-2005, 01:27 PM
--Mantle and Mays played in a time when nobody stole much. Moved to the 77-92 timeframe it seems fairly certain they would have stolen more than in real life. I believe Gwynn is only .001 ahead of Cobb in BA. He doesn have the highest career BA of anybody who started their career after WWII. Taking the more competive nature of the modern game into account he seems a likely candidate for the honor.

Metal Ed
04-04-2005, 01:36 PM
I don't think these are too far from relative stats, but the SB AVERAGE for Mantle is interesting considering that is a third again more than his BEST season actual total and almost a fourth again more than Mays' BEST SB year. Gwynn's adjusted BA leader sure downgrades Cobb & TWilliams

Cobb finished an extremely close second in BA. Williams was in the top 10, I can't remember the exact spot. I don't think either have been disrespected. Schell gives both much higher overall batter rankings than Gwynn when factoring in on base percentage and slugging.

csh19792001
04-04-2005, 04:05 PM
I believe Gwynn is only .001 ahead of Cobb in BA. He doesn have the highest career BA of anybody who started their career after WWII. Taking the more competive nature of the modern game into account he seems a likely candidate for the honor.

Considering Gwynn was the premier slap hitter in the greatest HR era in baseball history, it makes sense that his relative batting average in comparison to his league would be so fabulous (and, ergo, he would become the greatest average hitter in history after his numbers were run through a formula). Just like Ruth in the 20's concerning slugging and homeruns, his numbers are going to be artificially inflated because he was an iconoclast, not because he was actually that much better than everyone else.

The league slugging in Cobb's time was .354, ISO .090, HR% .071

In Gwynn's time the league slugging was .404, ISO .142, HR% 2.72

Of course, the fundamental change in the game (and how it diametrically contrasted Gwynn's style) is not reflected in any formula. When taking vital factors extrinsic to statistics into account (which, ironically, affect statistics in a very tangible way), it seems pretty likely that Cobb is still the greatest average hitter in history.

leecemark
04-04-2005, 07:08 PM
--I agree there is some merit to that Chris. I might be inclined to pick Carew myself. There were still lots of guys concentrating on average in his day and he dominating the batting charts to much the same extent in an era of (IMO) greater competitive balance than Gwynn. Clemente and Musial's names could be thrown into the argument as well. Cobb definately couldn't be ruled out either. Any of the players who were expected to win the batting title every year can have a case made for them.

hbinways
04-04-2005, 08:15 PM
:crazy too short?

Metal Ed
04-05-2005, 08:11 AM

Considering Gwynn was the premier slap hitter in the greatest HR era in baseball history, it makes sense that his relative batting average in comparison to his league would be so fabulous (and, ergo, he would become the greatest average hitter in history after his numbers were run through a formula). Just like Ruth in the 20's concerning slugging and homeruns, his numbers are going to be artificially inflated because he was an iconoclast, not because he was actually that much better than everyone else.

The league slugging in Cobb's time was .354, ISO .090, HR% .071

In Gwynn's time the league slugging was .404, ISO .142, HR% 2.72

Of course, the fundamental change in the game (and how it diametrically contrasted Gwynn's style) is not reflected in any formula. When taking vital factors extrinsic to statistics into account (which, ironically, effect statistics in a very tangible way), it seems pretty likely that Cobb is still the greatest average hitter in history.

Chris, that is a great point and I am ashamed that it didn't occur to me before! Somehow I think that this would be best phrased in the form of a primary assumption....

"He also assumes that universal changes in equipment or rules will affect all players equally (as do we all, when using mean-adjusted stats) when intuition says that this isn't true."

We should expand that to "assumes....changes in rules, equipment and strategy will affect all players equally". Obviously a lone player practicing a rare strategy (for the time) might be expected to place greater distance from the pack than at a time when said strategy is universal, irrespective of the effects of the talent pool. Call it the Babe Ruth/Tony Gwynn scenario.

leecemark
04-07-2005, 11:26 AM
--ME, In our discussion On Reggie Jackson it turns out Reggie had the 4th best OPS of all players who debuted in the 60s and 70s, with a"lowly" 139. Number one is Dick Allen at 156, 10 points ahead of second place. Allen was, in fact, the most dominating hitter (as determined by OPS+) to come along between Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. I was wonderign how that that would translate in Schell's system? I'd guess Allen would be top 10 or close to it.

Sirmudgeon
04-07-2005, 11:51 AM
Your stats aside, gentlefolk, did Tony Gwynn ever worry you in a game, against your team? Cobb must have, Carew didn't, nor did Boggs, Ashburn I think did (revising my original opinion of him), Rose probably, but Tony? When I think of Padres, I think of Colbert, and Winfield, and Kurt. Tony was definitive, of an era, a singles guy. Like Boggs, without the bad stuff. Like Carew, no huge impact on the game in question, but in the overall sense rather unimpressive. Mayhap I'm wrong here, but Tiny Tony never was that much "the guy".

RuthMayBond
04-07-2005, 11:54 AM
Your stats aside, gentlefolk, did Tony Gwynn ever worry you in a game, against your team? Cobb must have, Carew didn't, nor did Boggs, Ashburn I think did (revising my original opinion of him), Rose probably, but Tony? When I think of Padres, I think of Colbert, and Winfield, and Kurt. Tony was definitive, of an era, a singles guy. Like Boggs, without the bad stuff. Like Carew, no huge impact on the game in question, but in the overall sense rather unimpressive. Mayhap I'm wrong here, but Tiny Tony never was that much "the guy".Why would Rose worry one more than Gwynn, Carew, or Boggs?

mordeci
04-07-2005, 01:07 PM
everyone knows that the greatest hitter in the history of baseball was John Paciorek.

torez77
04-07-2005, 01:58 PM
everyone knows that the greatest hitter in the history of baseball was John Paciorek.

1.000 BA! 495 OPS+ :eek: Yeah, you may be right! ;)

Here's an article on Paciorek:

http://www.stevenkwagner.com/paciorek.htm

cubbieinexile
05-05-2005, 09:56 PM
For anyone interested over on BTF they have a link to a review of Schell's work along with some tidbits. Schell was kind enough to answer some of the primates questions regarding his work in the discussion section.

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/newsblog_discussion/28277/

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 05:19 PM
--ME, In our discussion On Reggie Jackson it turns out Reggie had the 4th best OPS of all players who debuted in the 60s and 70s, with a"lowly" 139. Number one is Dick Allen at 156, 10 points ahead of second place. Allen was, in fact, the most dominating hitter (as determined by OPS+) to come along between Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. I was wonderign how that that would translate in Schell's system? I'd guess Allen would be top 10 or close to it.

I missed this (as did Ed, apparently).

Just based on statistics, by Schell's methodology (translated to a 1977-92 context) Dick Allen comes out 39th alltime in overall offensive value, after attempting to adjust for positional value, era, and ballpark.

His line is .293/.388/.538 averaging 27 HR and 18 SB.

Notables in his neighborhood are Ed Delahanty (42nd), Reggie Jackson (36th), and McGwire (40th).

Note: Alex Rodriguez was already ranked 33rd alltime through the 2003 season. I'd say that based on on a statistical approximation alone, that seems accurate.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 05:42 PM

1. Reggie Jackson 2692
2. Babe Ruth 2277
3. Jimmie Foxx 2117
4. Willie Stargell 1929
5. Mickey Mantle 1916
6. Tony Perez 1890
7. Mike Schmidt 1882
8. Andres Galarraga
9. Lou Brock 1803
10. Dale Murphy 1799

This makes very little sense to me. It's clear that this guy is using relative strikeout totals for the time, which completely distort these projected strikeout numbers, for obvious reasons. I'll save the time and assume you know what I'm talking about. Not nit picking here, just being realistic. The same realistic thought that leads me to believe his HR numbers for Ruth are over-exaggerated and his batting average is under-exaggerated.

Hey Ed; for this project, Schell kept everyone with their same number of AB right? So Babe is still only working with 8398 and Aaron with around 12,000?

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 05:54 PM
Call it the Babe Ruth/Tony Gwynn scenario.

The only thing I would add...Both went against the style of the game, but more of Gwynn's peers could have hit for average, than Babe's peers could have hit for power, imo. In other words, relatively speaking, Gwynn's relative distance in average would have shrunk more than Babe's had other's tried their styles. Not only that, but Babe's relative average numbers would have shot through the roof. You could throw Cobb into the Ruth/Gwynn scenario, but his approach is harder to quantify.

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 07:37 PM

The only thing I would add...Both went against the style of the game, but more of Gwynn's peers could have hit for average, than Babe's peers could have hit for power, imo. In other words, relatively speaking, Gwynn's relative distance in average would have shrunk more than Babe's had other's tried their styles. Not only that, but Babe's relative average numbers would have shot through the roof. You could throw Cobb into the Ruth/Gwynn scenario, but his approach is harder to quantify.

I think we addressed the Babe's outrageously high strikeout/HR total issue, in the same vein Gwynn record BA comes into play. Both were complete inconoclasts (Gwynn for his entire career, Ruth for most of his (in terms of their approach to hitting). Since Schell takes the mean adjustment into account, the fact that these guys pretty much did their own thing augments their stats more than it should, and Gwynn ends up besting Cobb in career BA, which he shouldn't. Both Ed and myself acknowledged this.

http://www.baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=427903&postcount=1 (scroll down to the career batting average leaders chart Dave Kent put together for us)

http://www.baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=277687&postcount=14

http://www.baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=278102&postcount=17

We should expand that to "assumes....changes in rules, equipment and strategy will affect all players equally". Obviously a lone player practicing a rare strategy (for the time) might be expected to place greater distance from the pack than at a time when said strategy is universal, irrespective of the effects of the talent pool. Call it the Babe Ruth/Tony Gwynn scenario.

Ruth probably wouldn't hit 50 homeruns a year playing in an offensively neutral, integrated, modern game (as these stats are designed to project- before the homerun/steroid/expansion/bandbox park explosion of post 1993). I also doubt, given his talent, that he would strike out over 2,000 times, but hey, Babe led the league in strikeouts 5 times (only two players in history have led in more seasons). Babe was also in the top 3 in K's 12 times, which is still the alltime record. He finished second in the league in K's 7 times, also a record. Babe's career K record stood for nearly 40 years. This is taken fully into consideration.

He outhomered entire teams 93 times in his career in large part because he was Babe Ruth, and in part because most from the late teens through the late 20's, very, very few guys employed his approach to the game. If you look at photographs from the Black Sox era, many (perhaps most) guys are still choking up 4-6 inches on the bat.

So you take the good with the bad, Randy. I suppose either you reject both premises or accept them both. (i.e., to say that Ruth would both hit 50 homeruns a year AND strikeout at a low rate in the modern era is an unrealistic expectation, even for him).

Also, in case you're curious....
1. Ruth 855
2. Aaron 676
3. *Bonds* 622
4. Williams 588
5. Mays 587
6. Jackson 570
7. Schmidt 555
8. Robinson 542
9. Ott 533
10. Killebrew 522
11. Gehrig 516
12. McGwire 513
13. Foxx 513
14. Mantle 501
15. Honrsby 498

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 07:38 PM
What if you took the league averages from each league in the 20's, and then divided the players into two groups based on relative stats. You'd end up with the elites, and then the very good players, and you could see how far apart each group was from the league average in both leagues. Would that tell you anything? Don't mind me, just rambling here :o

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 07:43 PM
Babe led the league in strikeouts 5 times (only two players in history have led in more seasons). Babe was also in the top 3 in K's 12 times, which is still the alltime record. He finished second in the league in K's 7 times, also a record. Babe's career K record stood for nearly 40 years. This is taken fully into consideration.

This is good and true info Chris, but you know the problem with this. Leading the league back then with 70 strikeouts is far different from leading the league with 150 strikeouts. His strikeouts, in terms of approach is better compared with modern players. In that sense, he's about with Bonds in terms of 162 game average if I remember correctly. They were like one off.. 85/86 or 86/85?

So you take the good with the bad, Randy. I suppose either you reject both premises or accept them both. (i.e., to say that Ruth would both hit 50 homeruns a year AND strikeout at a low rate in the modern era is an unrealistic expectation, even for him).

Agree completely.

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 08:31 PM
What if you took the league averages from each league in the 20's, and then divided the players into two groups based on relative stats. You'd end up with the elites, and then the very good players, and you could see how far apart each group was from the league average in both leagues. Would that tell you anything? Don't mind me, just rambling here :o

I think that's kind of inherent in using standard deviations, actually. That's sort of what they're designed to measure.

This is the simplest, most jargon free definition I could find (I did some searching for you, Randy). :)

The standard deviation is a statistic that tells you how tightly all the various examples are clustered around the mean in a set of data. When the examples are pretty tightly bunched together… the standard deviation is small. When the examples are spread apart … that tells you have a relatively large standard deviation.

Metal Ed (or anyone else mathematically inclined) please correct me if I marr this explanation, (which I'm sure I will).

Think of an entire little league- you have a bunch of guys (often even the pitchers) hitting .600 with power, and also lots of coaches' sons playing right field hitting .100 with flukes constituting most of their hits.

The average spread from the league mean BA (or level of talent) is going to be huge at that level. Lots of lousy players and some relatively awesome ones too. That's a huge variance (or standard deviation). As you progress up through the levels, things get progressively tighter as players get more serious and specialized (the amount of seperation in talent becomes smaller and smaller). By the time you get to the big leagues there are 1,000's of players very close in talent competing for each roster spot. Then you have the majors, which is (presumably, today) close to representative of the 750 best baseball players in the world. (You could use 1950 or whatever year as your epitome of league strength- the year is irrelevant).

When you graph their performance spread, it's going to be very tightly clustered around the mean.

The SD's of baseball statistics have been more or less steadily dropping since 1871 (Look at the National Association stats and the performance of people like Ross Barnes/Al Spalding- it resembles little league, doesn't it?

So the assumption is that this is on a continuum, and with increases in training, scouting, vast increases in the talent pool, nutrition, the science of baseball, etc, etc, that we can infer/deduce from the SD evidence how much the game has changed in strength over time (how much the average player has improved).

I hope this primer helps a bit, if you hadn't been familiar with the concept before.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 08:47 PM
I think that's kind of inherent in using standard deviations, actually. That's sort of what they're designed to measure.

This is the simplest, most jargon free definition I could find (I did some searching for you, Randy). :)

The standard deviation is a statistic that tells you how tightly all the various examples are clustered around the mean in a set of data. When the examples are pretty tightly bunched together… the standard deviation is small. When the examples are spread apart … that tells you have a relatively large standard deviation.

Metal Ed (or anyone else mathematically inclined) please correct me if I marr this explanation, (which I'm sure I will).

Think of an entire little league- you have a bunch of guys (often even the pitchers) hitting .600 with power, and also lots of coaches' sons playing right field hitting .100 with flukes constituting most of their hits.

The average spread from the league mean BA (or level of talent) is going to be huge at that level. Lots of lousy players and some relatively awesome ones too. That's a huge variance (or standard deviation). As you progress up through the levels, things get progressively tighter as players get more serious and specialized (the amount of seperation in talent becomes smaller and smaller). By the time you get to the big leagues there are 1,000's of players very close in talent competing for each roster spot. Then you have the majors, which is (presumably, today) close to representative of the 750 best baseball players in the world. (You could use 1950 or whatever year as your epitome of league strength- the year is irrelevant).

When you graph their performance spread, it's going to be very tightly clustered around the mean.

The SD's of baseball statistics have been more or less steadily dropping since 1871 (Look at the National Association stats and the performance of people like Ross Barnes/Al Spalding- it resembles little league, doesn't it?

So the assumption is that this is on a continuum, and with increases in training, scouting, vast increases in the talent pool, nutrition, the science of baseball, etc, etc, that we can infer/deduce from the SD evidence how much the game has changed in strength over time (how much the average player has improved).

I hope this primer helps a bit, if you hadn't been familiar with the concept before.

Ok, yeah. Thanks Chris. That actually made sense, even for me :hp :cool:

So as the era's progress, it makes sense for the SD to regress toward the mean, due to various reasons such as more knowledge, advanced scouting, deeper "talent," etc.

So Ty Cobb's BA wouldn't be what it was because of evolution, not because he lacked the actual skills to be that great of a hitter. Where do you draw the line though. His raw batting average would come down, but how do you account for the negative factors he struggled through, and still put up .366? Obviously the evolution you speak of holds more weight, and his .366 would regress, but at some point, the elites are the elites, and that affect is minimized. Do you agree?

leecemark
04-04-2006, 08:55 PM
--I agree. It is not unlikely that Cobb could be the best hitter in his league whenever he played. It is just unlikely that he would dominate to the same extent he did in the early days of the AL.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 09:09 PM
Part of the reason the league BA today is only like .265, is because SO MANY players are taking an all or nothing approach, the fields are smaller, and advanced scouting. So this Schell guy is assuming Cobb would NOT go with the crowd, and that he would be more like Gwynn, right? It's hard to tell, but I'm inclined to believe Cobb should be ahead of Gwynn, by at least 5 points in BA. He's faster, could bunt, and he'd have a better eye with this small strike zone. I mean, how do we know how much weight to put on the hitters backdrops, lighter bats, helmets, travel, health, etc..We just don't know.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 09:13 PM
---------------

SHOELESSJOE3
04-04-2006, 09:17 PM
Over all a great book by Michael Schell, Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers. I was in touch with Mike a couple of years before the book was completed. He was kind enough to answer my emails, we exchanged a number of emails. In one of those emails before the book came out he hinted that he expected Ruth would be ranked number one.

I did in those emails point out to him that Ruth's relative batting average was not an accurate picture of how Ruth compared to those who played in his time. My reasoning, Ruth was a slugger competing with a game full of contact hitters, going to the plate with one thought in mind, make contact, don't strike out. To my satisfaction he did say that was a point to be considered but he had to go by the numbers only, not factor in the slugger competing with a sea of contact hitters. I had to agree with that, the comparison had to be based on numbers only.

As for his ranking Gwynn as the greatest hitter it was based on Tony's high batting average in this era. That .338 is some average, the second highest posted in the last 65+ years. Williams .346- Gwynn .338, ten points higer than the third and fourth highest, Boggs .328 and Carew .328.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 09:20 PM
To my satisfaction he did say that was a point to be considered but he had to go by the numbers only, not factor in the slugger competing with a sea of contact hitters. I had to agree with that, the comparison had to be based on numbers only.

Good info Joe.

So Schell wasn't willing to go deep enough; that's up to us, huh.

torez77
04-04-2006, 09:29 PM
As for his ranking Gwynn as the greatest hitter it was based on Tony's high batting average in this era. That .338 is some average, the second highest posted in the last 65+ years. Williams .346- Gwynn .338, ten points higer than the third and fourth highest, Boggs .328 and Carew .328.

I don't think Gwynn should be ranked above Cobb as a hitter, but it's nice to see Gwynn get some deserved praise. He is very underrated.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-04-2006, 09:39 PM
I http://www.baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=277687&postcount=14

Ruth probably wouldn't hit 50 homeruns a year playing in an offensively neutral, integrated, modern game (as these stats are designed to project- before the homerun/steroid/expansion/bandbox park explosion of post 1993). I also doubt, given his talent, that he would strike out over 2,000 times, but hey, Babe led the league in strikeouts 5 times (only two players in history have led in more seasons). Babe was also in the top 3 in K's 12 times, which is still the alltime record. He finished second in the league in K's 7 times, also a record. Babe's career K record stood for nearly 40 years. This is taken fully into consideration.

He outhomered entire teams 93 times in his career in large part because he was Babe Ruth, and in part because most from the late teens through the late 20's, very, very few guys employed his approach to the game. If you look at photographs from the Black Sox era, many (perhaps most) guys are still choking up 4-6 inches on the bat.

Why would Ruth be a long shot to hit 50 home runs in the era you speak of
Before the explosion of the early 1990s, from 1960 to 1990 after integration there was one hitter with 61 home runs, one with 54, two with 52 and six with 49. I think we could all agree that Ruth was as good a hitter and better than most of those who put up those numbers and as strong as any of them, 50 was in reach. Lets look at it this way, if you say Ruth could not hit 50 after integration, your saying no hitter from those times could, thats a hard sell. No one?

It's often brought up that Ruth was head and shoulders above all those in his time in home runs because he was one of the few playing that type of baseball. I agree with that but his number of strikeouts being higher than the hitters in his time was also because he was playing his own game and his competition was playing a different game, contact.

It has to be both ways, take some of the shine off of Ruth's domination in home run hitting in his time because he was one of the few sluggers. Then we have to consider why he was striking out more than those in his time, same reason, he swinging from the heels and the rest contact hitters.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-04-2006, 09:45 PM
I don't think Gwynn should be ranked above Cobb as a hitter, but it's nice to see Gwynn get some deserved praise. He is very underrated.

I would think you would have some company with that thought. I could see a good case for Ty being ranked over Tony. Myself I think Ty was a better combo hitter with some slugging ability, more so than Tony was.

leecemark
04-04-2006, 09:47 PM
--I think Ruth would have cracked 50 in his best years had he played in the 50s or 60s and perhaps in the 70s and 80s as well (almost certainly in the last 15 years). He may well have matched or even exceeded his actual totals. However, his average would have gone down and his strikeouts up. And if he was playing in the AL post-73 he would have spent much of his career DHing.

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 09:55 PM
But at some point, the elites are the elites, and that effect is minimized. Do you agree?

Yes, at this point I would agree with that assumption.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 09:55 PM
--I think Ruth would have cracked 50 in his best years had he played in the 50s or 60s and perhaps in the 70s and 80s as well (almost certainly in the last 15 years). He may well have matched or even exceeded his actual totals. However, his average would have gone down and his strikeouts up. And if he was playing in the AL post-73 he would have spent much of his career DHing.

I agree his average would go down, but not to .309 like Schell projects. I agree his strikeouts would go up, but not to the absurd numbers Schell projects. To project his K totals to be that high is to completely dismiss the rare gifts he possessed. Gifts that would come along with him, and when added to all the benefits later eras enjoyed, I don't see it. That's being realistic.

As far as DHing. There's no question he could not live his former lifestyle, but DHing is a stretch. He was a great fielding pitcher, a good to very good outfielder with a cannon for an arm, and who had what it took in non-physical areas to be good in the field. Those non-physical abilities are what allowed him to show flashes of brilliance, even when his legs did slow down. If he played when you speak of Mark, I think we can assume he would have stayed in better shape then he did.

There would have been better players to push him, giving him incentive as well, which could have made his performances even better. That's one thing rarely mentioned; other than Bill bringing it up. Imagine being that much better than everyone. Being crowned the All Time HR king in just your second full year as a position player. Had there been number to shoot for, single season or career, it's likely he would have taken on a different mind-set dedication wise, and been pushed to greater heights.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-04-2006, 09:58 PM
--I think Ruth would have cracked 50 in his best years had he played in the 50s or 60s and perhaps in the 70s and 80s as well (almost certainly in the last 15 years). He may well have matched or even exceeded his actual totals. However, his average would have gone down and his strikeouts up. And if he was playing in the AL post-73 he would have spent much of his career DHing.

That makes some sense, his average would most likely dip and strikeouts would have been higher.

I often wonder (not very seriously) what if Ruth came along as a pitcher in the American League when the DH was in the game. His hitting ability may never have been evident since he would not be in the batters box, except for inter-league games. He may have started and finished as a pitcher.

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 10:04 PM
So Schell wasn't willing to go deep enough; that's up to us, huh.

Right, and therein lies the folly of relying solely on numbers- Schell doesn't look at historical antecedents and things like guys who represent style abberations, etc, etc, because he can't. It's a strictly quantitative approach- numbers in, numbers out (forget the enumerate variables that went into producing those numbers).

It's up to us as historians to fill in all of the gaps and question/debate the merits of all of the assumptions. Some of us actively do this anyway, and many don't seem to care to look deeper and are satisfied with confiding in the statistics, taking them at face value, and putting all (or basically all) their faith in them. That's why many of these threads unfortunately devolve into an endless numbers palaver.

I just think Schell's work is a step in the right direction in terms of statistical analysis, as it's much more fair towards modern players than any other methodology I've been exposed to. He's also very thorough, but at the same time presents things in fashion interpretable to the average fan.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-04-2006, 10:05 PM
So Schell wasn't willing to go deep enough; that's up to us, huh.

I think he understood what I said but could make no exceptions. His relative batting averages would be based on the hitters average compared to those in his time with no outside factors being considered. I could understand that.

csh19792001
04-04-2006, 10:07 PM
Why would Ruth be a long shot to hit 50 home runs in the era you speak of

I didn't actually say that, though. What I said is that it's unlikely that Ruth would average 50 homeruns a year and end up with 855 career homers playing in a 1970's-80's context. In a somewhat similar way that it's unlikely that Cobb could possibly hit .367 playing in a neutral, modern timeframe.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 10:08 PM
Right, and therein lies the folly of relying solely on numbers- Schell doesn't look at historical antecedents and things like guys who represent style abberations, etc, etc, because he can't. It's a strictly quantitative approach- numbers in, numbers out (forget the enumerate variables that went into producing those numbers).

It's up to us as historians to fill in all of the gaps and question/debate the merits of all of the assumptions. Some of us actively do this anyway, and many don't seem to care to look deeper and are satisfied with confiding in the statistics, taking them at face value, and putting all (or basically all) their faith in them. That's why many of these threads unfortunately devolve into an endless numbers palaver.

I just think Schell's work is a step in the right direction in terms of statistical analysis, as it's much more fair towards modern players than any other methodology I've been exposed to. He's also very thorough, but at the same time presents things in fashion interpretable to the average fan.

Great post Chris. I would add... not only do some not want to look past the numbers, but when they do choose to, they carefully cater to their views in making those judgements.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-04-2006, 11:40 PM
--I think Ruth would have cracked 50 in his best years had he played in the 50s or 60s and perhaps in the 70s and 80s as well (almost certainly in the last 15 years)

I forgot to address this earlier Mark. Are you saying that 50 would have been his highest total?

Here are the 47+ homer season from that time period. We can agree that Babe was much bigger than most all of these guys, and moving him forward, that gap would only increase. Hitting skills wise, which of these guys were superior? He averaged 46 a year as is, so it's not a big stretch to think he could have averaged 38-42 during this time, with some seasons in the high forties and a few at or beyond 56-62.

Roger Maris ---- 61 - 1961
Ralph Kiner ----- 54 - 1949
Mickey Mantle -- 54 - 1961
George Foster -- 52 - 1977
Mickey Mantle -- 52 - 1956
Willie Mays ----- 52 - 1965
Ralph Kiner ----- 51 - 1947
Willie Mays ----- 51 - 1955
Johnny Mize ---- 51 - 1947
Andre Dawson - 49 - 1987
H. Killebrew ---- 49 - 1964
H. Killebrew ---- 49 - 1969
Ted Kluszewski - 49 - 1954
Willie Mays ----- 49 - 1962
Mark McGwire -- 49 - 1987
Frank Robinson - 49 - 1966
Frank Howard -- 48 - 1969
H. Killebrew---- 48 - 1962
Dave Kingman - 48 - 1979
Mike Schmidt -- 48 - 1980
Willie Stargell -- 48 - 1971
Hank Aaron --- 47 -- 1971
Ernie Banks --- 47 -- 1958
George Bell --- 47 -- 1987
R. Jackson --- 47 -- 1969
Ralph Kiner -- 47 -- 1950
T. Kluszewski- 47 -- 1955
E. Mathews -- 47 - 1953
Willie Mays -- 47 -- 1964
K. Mitchell -- 47 -- 1989

The thing about Schells numbers, they're from '77-'92, right. Assuming he starts at 20 years old, he'd be 33 years old in '90. That's a scary thought. Heck, if Cecil can hit 50... DH or not, put him in the Metrodome with a 32 ounce bat, helmet, etc, etc.. Or Foxx or Gehrig. Just scary.

538280
04-05-2006, 05:49 AM
I forgot to address this earlier Mark. Are you saying that 50 would have been his highest total?

Here are the 47+ homer season from that time period. We can agree that Babe was much bigger than most all of these guys, and moving him forward, that gap would only increase. Hitting skills wise, which of these guys were superior? He averaged 46 a year as is, so it's not a big stretch to think he could have averaged 38-42 during this time, with some seasons in the high forties and a few at or beyond 56-62.

Roger Maris ---- 61 - 1961
Ralph Kiner ----- 54 - 1949
Mickey Mantle -- 54 - 1961
George Foster -- 52 - 1977
Mickey Mantle -- 52 - 1956
Willie Mays ----- 52 - 1965
Ralph Kiner ----- 51 - 1947
Willie Mays ----- 51 - 1955
Johnny Mize ---- 51 - 1947
Andre Dawson - 49 - 1987
H. Killebrew ---- 49 - 1964
H. Killebrew ---- 49 - 1969
Ted Kluszewski - 49 - 1954
Willie Mays ----- 49 - 1962
Mark McGwire -- 49 - 1987
Frank Robinson - 49 - 1966
Frank Howard -- 48 - 1969
H. Killebrew---- 48 - 1962
Dave Kingman - 48 - 1979
Mike Schmidt -- 48 - 1980
Willie Stargell -- 48 - 1971
Hank Aaron --- 47 -- 1971
Ernie Banks --- 47 -- 1958
George Bell --- 47 -- 1987
R. Jackson --- 47 -- 1969
Ralph Kiner -- 47 -- 1950
T. Kluszewski- 47 -- 1955
E. Mathews -- 47 - 1953
Willie Mays -- 47 -- 1964
K. Mitchell -- 47 -- 1989

The thing about Schells numbers, they're from '77-'92, right. Assuming he starts at 20 years old, he'd be 33 years old in '90. That's a scary thought. Heck, if Cecil can hit 50... DH or not, put him in the Metrodome with a 32 ounce bat, helmet, etc, etc.. Or Foxx or Gehrig. Just scary.

Sultan, my best guess would be if Ruth played then he would be on that list a number of times, and may have gone over 50 a few times. I don't think it's realistic to claim he would hit 50 every year and reach 60 multiple times like you seem to think.

And yeah, Ruth is likely to strikeout a real lot in this era. Strikeouts weren't nearly as big a part of the game back then, and he was still striking out a lot in context. Nowadays he'd probably average at least 120 SOs a year (not that that makes him a bad hitter of course).

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 06:12 AM
Hey Chris, long time no argue, how have you been.

I was asking Mark about his comment. I wasn't sure if he was saying Babe would hit a max of 50, or if he meant something else.

I don't think it's realistic to claim he would hit 50 every year and reach 60 multiple times like you seem to think.

He averaged 46 a year as is, so it's not a big stretch to think he could have averaged 38-42 during this time, with some seasons in the high forties and a few at or beyond 56-62

I have no problem with disagreeing and debating, but please don't put words in my mouth like that Chris. I made it clear what my opinion is. It's right there. I'll clarify a little though; by "some" seasons, I was thinking 6-8. That's more than realistic imo. Look at some of the names on that list.

And yeah, Ruth is likely to strikeout a real lot in this era. Strikeouts weren't nearly as big a part of the game back then, and he was still striking out a lot in context.

You brought the strikeout thing up again? Shall I bother to explain why this is wrong? You know why it doesn't hold water Chris, so why bring it up? Hell, you post stuff on here that makes my head spin, and that simple concept you can't grasp? I doubt that. I've been reasonable and realistic with this, I think. Average is about 8-12 points too low, strikeouts are way too high, HR are too high, and his SA might even be a little high, but not much.

leecemark
04-05-2006, 06:55 AM
--Sultan, "cracked 50" was meant to mean he would have exceeded that figure in his best years. I went on to say in the same post Ruth probably would have matched or exceeded his actual HR totals had he played in the 50s/60s instead of the 20s/30s. If Maris could hit 61 I don't see any reason why Ruth couldn't have hit as many or more in that period.
--His average would have gone down significantly, if for no other reason than the league average went down dramatically. I think you underestimate his strikeouts too. It isn't just batters approaches that have changed, but pitchers. In Ruth's day most guys were pitching to contact and would only go for the K in a jam. Pitchers today are much more leary of contact. Even contact hitters today strike out more than their counterparts in the old days. There aren't any Joe Sewell's in the league anymore.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 07:08 AM
--Sultan, "cracked 50" was meant to mean he would have exceeded that figure in his best years. I went on to say in the same post Ruth probably would have matched or exceeded his actual HR totals had he played in the 50s/60s instead of the 20s/30s. If Maris could hit 61 I don't see any reason why Ruth couldn't have hit as many or more in that period.

Ok, thanks for the clarification.

--His average would have gone down significantly, if for no other reason than the league average went down dramatically.

Interesting rationale.

I think you underestimate his strikeouts too. It isn't just batters approaches that have changed, but pitchers. In Ruth's day most guys were pitching to contact and would only go for the K in a jam. Pitchers today are much more leary of contact. Even contact hitters today strike out more than their counterparts in the old days. There aren't any Joe Sewell's in the league anymore.

Pitchers back then weren't pitching to contact, the hitters were hitting to contact. The pitchers had a much larger strike zone to work with. Do you think pitcher's didn't take full advantage of it? Of course they did. The game revolves around the hitters approaches. Back then, they went for contact, today, they crowd the plate and don't cut down with 2 strikes. There's really no such thing as a contact hitter today who isn't a complete slappy like Eckstein or Kendall.

Look, I'm not claiming that his strikeouts wouldn't be higher than 1330, but my lord. That projection is absurd, and doesn't take into account the difference in approaches. Schell admitted he didn't go deeper than raw numbers. Had he done so, and assuming he knows anything about baseball, there's no way the K total would be 2300 or whatever it was. Just like the homers wouldn't be at 855 or whatever they were at.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-05-2006, 08:56 AM
-- I think you underestimate his strikeouts too. It isn't just batters approaches that have changed, but pitchers. In Ruth's day most guys were pitching to contact and would only go for the K in a jam. Pitchers today are much more leary of contact. Even contact hitters today strike out more than their counterparts in the old days. There aren't any Joe Sewell's in the league anymore.

There are not many contact hitters in todays game, far less than years ago. We never saw middle infielders hitting as many home runs as we see today. For one thing middle infielders of today are bigger and often go for the long ball.

Add to that not only chicks love the long ball but so do the player's agents. Home runs and especially RBI's mean a lot at contract time. Again I don't dispute that Ruth may have struck out more in todays game.

As far as strike outs in todays game, I think the philosophy of hitting has a bigger reason for the high strike out rate, more so than pitching strategy.

digglahhh
04-05-2006, 10:27 AM
I'm going to agree with Sultan here. Just because he led the league in Ks in his day doesn't mean he would be anywhere near leading the league now.

Ks/162:

Bonds: 85
Sheff: 71
Helton: 79
B. Giles: 75

Ruth: 86

What these guys all have in common is that they all hit for power and average. THey are all also trememdous OBP guys, (except Vlad who is good, actually in spite of discpline).

I think it is reasonable to assume that Ruth would strike out at a rate not all that different than he did in his day. Maybe he'd have a few seasons around 100, but I would assume his K rate wouldn't change drastically.

In fact, Helton's best years look like what Ruth might look like playing in the modern game but not in Coors. Now if Ruth played in Colorado...

csh19792001
04-05-2006, 10:38 AM
I think it is reasonable to assume that Ruth would strike out at a rate not all that different than he did in his day.

Why do you feel that this is the case?

Ubiquitous
04-05-2006, 11:10 AM
What it comes down to isn't k-rate or where he ranked in terms of his league but his actual skill and the skill of those pitching against him.

How effective was he against a breaking pitch? How good were the breaking pitches back then, how many pitchers threw good ones, and how often? How good were there fastballs, how many pitchers threw good ones and how often? If the answers to these questions is that pitchers did not throw tough pitches as often as they do now then the answer would be that Babe Ruth would strikeout more. If the answer is about same then his strikeout rate would be about same and if the answer was that they threw more then his strikeout rate would go down.

csh19792001
04-05-2006, 11:52 AM
If the answers to these questions is that pitchers did not throw tough pitches as often as they do now then the answer would be that Babe Ruth would strikeout more. If the answer is about same then his strikeout rate would be about same and if the answer was that they threw more then his strikeout rate would go down.

And judging from your reading/research, which of these scenarios seems most likely?

What do you think of Schell's findings and methodology? How about in comparison to the rankings yielded by that of a metric like Win Shares?

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 02:10 PM
What it comes down to isn't k-rate or where he ranked in terms of his league but his actual skill and the skill of those pitching against him.

How effective was he against a breaking pitch? How good were the breaking pitches back then, how many pitchers threw good ones, and how often? How good were there fastballs, how many pitchers threw good ones and how often? If the answers to these questions is that pitchers did not throw tough pitches as often as they do now then the answer would be that Babe Ruth would strikeout more. If the answer is about same then his strikeout rate would be about same and if the answer was that they threw more then his strikeout rate would go down.

In your opening you said a mouthful. "His actual skill." That skill, and his gifts would not leave him if he played from '77-'92. He would need to make adjustments in equipment and probably in his batting stance, but his skill would be there.

You ask who he was facing. He was facing the same pitchers everyone else was. Well sort of. He was facing the same pitchers, but those pitchers treated him different than every other hitter. He always got their best stuff. There was no "coasting" when Ruth was up to bat. He got their heighest focus, determination, bearing down, whatever you want to call it.

If he had a weakness, it was on the slow breaking stuff, but that didn't last long. He might make a swing or two that looked pretty bad, but you can bet that third time, the ball was hammered. He had to learn to be very patient and take what was given to him, which often times, wasn't much at all. You ask about breaking balls, that's cool. It doesn't begin and end with that question. The issue is that if you give a person with his skill, a 32 ounce bat, throw a helmet on him, put him in a smaller field, with a smaller strike zone, and give him modern technology, what would happen. Again, for Schell to project his strikeouts so high, he didn't go deeper than raw relative numbers, which completely ignores his rare gifts imo.

What's incredible is that Schell's projections are based on 15 years of playing, right? So he's basically saying he'd strike out 150 times every year.
lol, that's insane. And he's basing that on him hitting 50 HR a year, which is too high. Realistically, I'd say probably 5-7 seasons from 100-115, with the others being in the low to high 90's. I've already weighed in on the homers.

Ubiquitous
04-05-2006, 02:34 PM
And judging from your reading/research, which of these scenarios seems most likely?

What do you think of Schell's findings and methodology? How about in comparison to the rankings yielded by that of a metric like Win Shares?

I have only seen Schells work and some of his details here I haven't read either of his books. There was a lot of rankings books that flooded the market at or around the turn of the millenium and I really have no intention of reading any of them.

As for the scenarios its another one of those what ifs that will end up bogging everybody down into a bunch of notions that none of us have any firsthand experience with or anything close to it. Nobody here really knows what Stan Coveleski's fastball was like and how that compares to Roger Clemens fastball. We don't know the quality of the curveball in say 1923 for the average pitcher or even the top-tier pitchers.

For me its kind of like a eureka moment in the bathtub. You place a 50# weight into a 5 gallon bucket with 2 gallons of water you are going to see a noticeable rise (as in your feet getting wet). YOu put that 50# weight into Lake Michigan and you are not going to notice anything. Even if for some reason the 50# weight somehow triples in mass you still will not see a difference.

Babe Ruth could be in the top 99% of his day in terms of ability of hitting breaking pitches and fastballs but if he is only facing a difficulty level of 10% of what is faced today then yeah I don't think he would maintain his strikeout rate of 1926 or so. You throw a pitch at 99+ mph with some movement and no matter who you are you are less likely to hit it then if it is a 90 mph fastball with movement.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 03:29 PM
You throw a pitch at 99+ mph with some movement and no matter who you are you are less likely to hit it then if it is a 90 mph fastball with movement.

Confusing "pure speed" with "actualy pitching ability" is a mistake. There are more "throwers" today, nobody can deny that. How many throw 99 with movement? That was an exaggeration. How many can actually locate even when they bring it 95+? Nobody throws a fastball today which is unhittable. The bats are so light, and the strike zone is so small, that it just doesn't happen, short of a player chasing a ball out of the zone, or swinging from his arse on a 2 strike pitch. You're looking at this bassackward, but that's just my humble opinion. And it's not about Ruth, I'd say the same if we were talking about Foxx, Mantle, or whoever, although I believe Ruth's raw hitting gifts were superior to even those guys.

digglahhh
04-05-2006, 05:11 PM
Why do you feel that this is the case?

Well, I think that the more compelling argument for his K totals increasing big time would have to come from textured analysis of the differences in pitching between eras.

Ruth led the league in strike outs as a function of a completely different approach to hitting. Once that approach took hold, you saw Ks increase, especially amongst the power guys. Foxx for example averages 102 Ks per 162. Foxx was more of a traditional slugger than Ruth, Ruth was a better pure hitter.

Look at the career leaders in Ks. Of the guys with over 1500 strikeouts, how many of them can be considered elite pure hitters? Mays, Robinson, Mantle. Then you have some other real good hitters like Henderson, McGriff, Schmidt, Thome, Perez, McCovey, Bagwell.

History just hasn't really seen too many guys who hit well over .300 rack up league leading K totals, regardless of whether or not they hit for a lot of power.

You don't find all that many guys who compete for BA titles who are sure bets to strike out over 100 times in a season. Manny, A-Rod... But neither of those guys are the OBP threat that Babe was.

Once you look at the .300/.400/.500 guys, which is what you have to assume Ruth would be in any era, you don't really find too many 100 K per season guys.

Neither today's guys like Sheff and Helton, nor the 60's and 70's guys like Aaron, Mays or Robinson who huddled around the 300/400/500 territory average triple digit Ks per 162. I don't know why Babe would.

I'm not attempting to tackle the intergration, pitcher quality, reliever, no trick pitches situation.

But I think it is more telling to look at the K/162 of other guys who posted similar lines to what we project Babe to do than it is just to extrapolate the fact that he led the league a bunch of times. The unique approach is a severely mitigating factor in the league leadership.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-05-2006, 08:10 PM
The notion that Ruth was so puzzled, had problems with breaking pitches is exaggerated. This all started with John McGraw saying in words that Ruth could be handled with breaking balls.

I guess none of us saw the pitchers in Ruth's day but here is a sample, small I will agree of how he did against one of the fastest in the game with one of the best curves, a left hander to boot and considered by many as one of the best in his time and also high on the list of the best ever.

Grove gave up 89 home runs from 1925 to 1934, 13th on the list in the AL in those seasons. Most were came from RH hitters who comprised almost 70 percent of the hitters in the game at that time. Grove was no picnic to bat against if you were a LH hitter.

I picked the starting point 1925 since that was his first season (Grove) and went to 1934 Ruth's last season in the AL. To be considered Ruth was 30 years old when he first faced Grove. I have not scanned every box score to find how many times Grove faced the Yanks and I may never scan them all, thats a tough job, time consuming.

I did gather this much info.

Ruth in the years 1925-1934 hit 9 home runs off of Grove.

June 29, 1929 Ruth hit two in one game.

June 10, 1933 Ruth hit two in one game.

The "lost home run". At Shibe Park 1930 Ruth hit a drive that cleared the wall in deep right center. The ball struck a speaker support and bounced back on to the field. There was no ground rule covering this event. The Yanks lost the argument, Ruth was sent back to second base, Grove was the pitcher.

Quick job but I believe that total of 9 to be correct, it's at least 9, sure of that.

I have to scoff at how many times we hear how to negate the strength of some great hitters, not just Ruth. It may be effective but not very effective. Today I keep hearing announcers how to pitch to Vlad Guerrero, yea good luck, looks like they're keeping him in check. Not saying some good and greats do not have some weak spots only saying it's of little effect on the great ones.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 09:10 PM
It's tough to find a weakness, but if there was one, the slow breaking stuff would have to be it, and even at that, it was only a momentary weakness, as he quickly made adjustments.

The point; he could be fooled by a slow breaking pitch and look very bad on it. Next time he saw it though, the results would be different. We have to keep in mind that Babe never knew what was going to come, and where it was going to come. There was no pattern with him, nothing was off limits. 3-0 breaking balls, first pitch slow curves, 0-2 fastballs at the letters. With is big swing and heavy bat, the last thing pitchers wanted to do was fail to disrupt his timing. Must have been tough, cause where's the fine line between being too aggressive, and taking what's given to you. Well, knowing you were expected to hit homers, and would be booed if you didn't (even on the road), it must have been a constant battle to stay patient.

The Columbia tests showed that his optimal power swing was at the knees, out over the plate, where he could get his arms extended. Probably what helped him do well even against lefties. It's where righty Root's pitch in '32 was, and it's most likely where Lefty Williams' curveball was in '19 at Fenway when he hit a homer over the left centerfield scoreboard, breaking a window across Landsdowne street. Prompting Weaver to say "that was the most unbelievable poke I ever saw."

19 of his 60

221 of his 714 (ironically, 493 off righties, same number as Gehrig's career total)

digglahhh
04-05-2006, 09:25 PM
Scouting reports always help the great player more, theoretically.

Okay, so you have a sheet that tells Tomo Ohka how and where to pitch to Albert Pujols. Big deal. First, he has to execute it. And he has to execute to a level that is successful.

Coach: Hey, Jorge Julio, you want to handle Vlad, just follow Gagne's blueprint...

Well, it kinda helps to actually have Gagne's stuff there...

The point is that scouting reports would have helped Babe more than it would have helped the guys trying to get him out. Babe knowing what's coming certainly trumps knowing where Babe liked the ball. All external advantages are realized by filtering them and applying them through your skills, the guy with the better skills has the greater potential to benefit from the advances.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-05-2006, 09:44 PM
Makes sense Digg (or do you go by Dirk?:D)

--Hey Chris, I'm still waiting for a response to post #50 when you get a chance.

SABR Matt
04-06-2006, 12:12 AM
I just purchased this book, predominantly because I'd like to see for myself how he calculated park factors for lefties and righties before the era of play by play data among other things he claims to have done (and I hope he has because it would give me some insight) that interest me.

I don't like his approach of fitting non-normal distributions to the bell curve, but he's got some good ideas.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-06-2006, 01:06 AM
Matt,

Do you have access to opposite field home runs over the years? Is that info available anwhere? Thanks.

Metal Ed
04-06-2006, 10:11 AM
Look, I'm not claiming that his strikeouts wouldn't be higher than 1330, but my lord.

Going to have to agree with you here. Pitching approaches ARE different and pitchers are more adept at inducing the strikeout, so his K's would go up. But you are correct that Ruth's K difference from the league would have to be smaller in a league of sluggers vs. a league of contact hitters. Exactly where his K's would be between 1330 and Schell's projections, none of us can say with any certainty.

In defense of Schell, this kind of question is not what his work is capable of answering. (Who could answer it, really?) IMO, he was simply converting players' raw numbers into 1977-1992 "currency" under equal park effects, which I think is subtly different from making a "here is what would happen if we put them into a time machine" prediction.

Metal Ed
04-06-2006, 01:26 PM
Scouting reports always help the great player more, theoretically.

Okay, so you have a sheet that tells Tomo Ohka how and where to pitch to Albert Pujols. Big deal. First, he has to execute it. And he has to execute to a level that is successful.

Coach: Hey, Jorge Julio, you want to handle Vlad, just follow Gagne's blueprint...

Well, it kinda helps to actually have Gagne's stuff there...

The point is that scouting reports would have helped Babe more than it would have helped the guys trying to get him out. Babe knowing what's coming certainly trumps knowing where Babe liked the ball. All external advantages are realized by filtering them and applying them through your skills, the guy with the better skills has the greater potential to benefit from the advances.

I think that scouting reports do help some players more than others, but I don't agree with your poor player/great player distinction. To me it seems that some players will benefit more or less based on whether their approach is more cerebral or intuitive.

Some guys are "see ball, hit ball." Yogi Berra was notorious for this. "I'm up there to hit, not to think." Some players get all crossed up when they think too much. Mickey Mantle said he went into a slump after he talked to Ted Williams about hitting.

A Ted Williams or a Hank Aaron is much more cerebral in their approach than a Yogi Berra or a Mickey Mantle. Ted and Hank could never do too much thinking at the plate. Hank Aaron, for example, could tell you off the top of his head, if he hit 40 home runs that year, who they were off of, what the count was, what the situation was, what the pitch was, etc. He was constantly watching and dissecting a pitcher's sequences, even from the dugout.

I think that these types of very cerebral players might derive more benefit than others from scouting reports, but highly intuitive players might not benefit as much as the average player.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-06-2006, 01:41 PM
I think that scouting reports do help some players more than others, but I don't agree with your poor player/great player distinction. To me it seems that some players will benefit more or less based on whether their approach is more cerebral or intuitive.

Some guys are "see ball, hit ball." Yogi Berra was notorious for this. "I'm up there to hit, not to think." Some players get all crossed up when they think too much. Mickey Mantle said he went into a slump after he talked to Ted Williams about hitting.

A Ted Williams or a Hank Aaron is much more cerebral in their approach than a Yogi Berra or a Mickey Mantle. Ted and Hank could never do too much thinking at the plate. Hank Aaron, for example, could tell you off the top of his head, if he hit 40 home runs that year, who they were off of, what the count was, what the situation was, what the pitch was, etc. He was constantly watching and dissecting a pitcher's sequences, even from the dugout.

I think that these types of very cerebral players might derive more benefit than others from scouting reports, but highly intuitive players might not benefit as much as the average player.

That makes sense Ed, not all players take the same approach or thrive studying film and pitchers. It comes down to players having that available to them, and it couldn't hurt, only help.

Metal Ed
04-06-2006, 01:57 PM
That makes sense Ed, not all players take the same approach or thrive studying film and pitchers. It comes down to players having that available to them, and it couldn't hurt, only help.

Yah. The less cerebral, more intuitive player could always just disregard that resource if it didn't help him. So it can only help, not hurt.

I wanted to add that I think that it tends to help pitchers somewhat more than hitters (in general), because I think that pitchers by nature are more cerebral (in general) than hitters.

Sultan_1895-1948
04-06-2006, 02:13 PM
I wanted to add that I think that it tends to help pitchers somewhat more than hitters (in general), because I think that pitchers by nature are more cerebral (in general) than hitters.

In this era, I think that hitters are more cerebral, and pitchers revert to "throwing" most of the time, thinking it's all about velocity. Hitters have never taken a more scientific approach, which makes sense, since they have so much available to them.

It's one thing to be cerebral, but as you know, it comes down to executing through physical abilities. In that sense, hitters have the edge, watching video of themselves, and making slight adjustments. For a pitcher, they don't need to make mechanical adjustments except in rare cases. Scouting reports and tendencies on a pitcher are invaluable, since it's all about seeing and reacting to what you're prepared to see.

digglahhh
04-07-2006, 12:12 PM
Ed,

Sure. I was speaking theoretically, in terms of capacity.

I'm a terrible tutor. Academically, I'm a "see the assignment, write the paper" student. I'm not acutely sensitive to my own writing methods; I just know I've been consistently recognized for my writing from elementary to graduate school.

Now, somebody else who takes a more studious approach could break down my writing and teach somebody else how to do it, provided the subject has the literary capacity actualize it.

What I'm saying is that just because Vlad may not be wholly aware of what he does to hit like a freakish beast; that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from what he does.

The cerebral player with exceptional skills can learn certain things from Vlad. In fact, he can learn the potential benefits from putting aside the cerebral approach at times.

But whatever is learned can only be actualized to the level of the skills of the user. Conceptualizing hitting is one thing, putting it in practice is another. Ted Williams mind for hitting plus my skills equals the night manager at Burger King. Alright, maybe I could coach high school or college ball, but you get the point.

csh19792001
06-28-2010, 09:45 AM
This one deserves a revivial.

Paul Wendt
06-28-2010, 10:23 AM
On the cerebral approach:

... I'm a terrible tutor. Academically, I'm a "see the assignment, write the paper" student. I'm not acutely sensitive to my own writing methods; I just know I've been consistently recognized for my writing from elementary to graduate school.

Now, somebody else who takes a more studious approach could break down my writing and teach somebody else how to do it, ...

It's true that the value of study depends on the student. Yes everyone now in the industry knows that "bad mechanics" can effectively end a pitching career quickly. And even the least promising pitcher-student can recognize a change in his own mechanics over time, when a coach directs him to before and after video. So technological advance, in the cheap preservation and display of motion pictures, has made a "student" of every professional pitcher.

Writers may be disposed more than batters or pitchers to take up study on their own. Anyway, if a six-hour day of writing would put her/m out of business for a fortnight with shoulder or back strain, almost any writer would pay some attention to posture, and so learn how to moderate the strain or even how to avoid it entirely.

Paul Wendt
06-28-2010, 10:49 AM
I just purchased this book, predominantly because I'd like to see for myself how he calculated park factors for lefties and righties before the era of play by play data among other things he claims to have done (and I hope he has because it would give me some insight) that interest me.

I don't like his approach of fitting non-normal distributions to the bell curve, but he's got some good ideas.

What do you think of piece-wise linear regression and other piece-wise curve fitting?
It may be instructive to add "spline" fitting to the list.

--
Regarding data sources, I know that Michael Schell was very interested in the publication of home run data by SABR, in its HR encyclopedia. I don't know how much use he was able to make of the HR data, because I have read only his earlier book Batters. In principle the HR data should be crucial to his second book Sluggers. Naturally it fits the focus on slugging average rather than batting average but HR data provides the only direct evidence on performance by lefty and right batters.

csh19792001
04-15-2012, 11:32 AM
Bump this up so those running the site don't delete it categorically due to age!

pheasant
04-15-2012, 01:29 PM
I just purchased his book from Amazon. It should arrive in a week or so. I can't wait to read it. Perhaps some of the guys here on Fever should get a cut of the sales-- :cool2:

brett
04-18-2012, 09:52 AM
Your stats aside, gentlefolk, did Tony Gwynn ever worry you in a game, against your team? Cobb must have, Carew didn't, nor did Boggs, Ashburn I think did (revising my original opinion of him), Rose probably, but Tony? When I think of Padres, I think of Colbert, and Winfield, and Kurt. Tony was definitive, of an era, a singles guy. Like Boggs, without the bad stuff. Like Carew, no huge impact on the game in question, but in the overall sense rather unimpressive. Mayhap I'm wrong here, but Tiny Tony never was that much "the guy".

Wade Boggs lead the league in IBBs 6 consecutive years. Tony Gwynn is 12th all time in IBBs and hit .349/.432/.491 with runners in scoring position and .352/.411/.480 with men on base. Carew lead the league in IBBs 3 times and went .339 with runners in scoring position and .344 with men on base.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-18-2012, 11:05 AM
Wade Boggs lead the league in IBBs 6 consecutive years. Tony Gwynn is 12th all time in IBBs and hit .349/.432/.491 with runners in scoring position and .352/.411/.480 with men on base. Carew lead the league in IBBs 3 times and went .339 with runners in scoring position and .344 with men on base.

Shows the respect for these guys, fear they may drop in a hit. Usually IBB's handed out to the heavy hitters.
These three, almost had the feeling they were going to get a hit in every at bat.

csh19792001
02-06-2013, 11:49 PM
Bumping this up so it doesn't get erased, as hundreds of our older threads- many featuring our best work- have since been purged into the ether of cyberspace!

csh19792001
12-18-2013, 12:07 PM
In my 12 years here this may be THE most progressive, insightful thread on league quality over time. Certainly, Schell's methodology is light years ahead of everyone else's methods/output.

What are people's thoughts on PROPER park adjustments and statistical adjustments based on standard deviations, not mean-based stats?

csh19792001
12-18-2013, 12:08 PM
.............

Figured I'd make a separate thread, rather than continue to hijack the Clash of the Titans thread.

Okay, here's how these work. Schell adjusts for 4 things:

1. Mean performance of the era. You all know what this means.
2. Park effects. His work really excels here. Rather than applying one broad park adjustment, as we see so often, he reasons that some parks are better for home runs than for batting average, and vice versa; some are good home run parks for lefties and some are good home run parks for righties; etc. So he has separate park adjustments for each offensive event analyzed, both from the right and left side!
3. Talent pool. He uses the standard deviation of the offensive event in question to adjust for the talent pool of the league at the time.
4. Late career declines. For each offensive event, the average productive career length is determined and becomes the basis for the number of at bats used to determine the fully adjusted stat for each player.

Then, the numbers are transformed into something that is easily understood: their equivalents for the period 1977-1992. In other words, what follows is what each player's career average per 550 NFP's (number of times facing a pitcher) is worth in 1977-1992 currency, assuming equal ballpark effects. Obviously, had he translated the numbers into 1992-2004 stats, we'd see bigger power numbers; into 1900-1910 stats, smaller numbers, power-wise, but bigger numbers in other categories like steals. He chose 1977-1992 because this period had a nice balance of power and speed, and no one single baseball strategy predominating to the exclusion of all others.

Note that the work rests on some assumptions, as all statistics do. He assumes that the quality of play has changed for the average player but not for the top performers - for eaxmple, the assumption is that a player in the 95th percentile in one era is the same as a 95th percentile in another era. He also assumes that universal changes in equipment or rules will affect all players equally (as do we all, when using mean-adjusted stats) when intuition says that this isn't true.

Only players with 4000 or more at-bats plus walks and plus hit-by-pitches were chosen for analysis. So 1140 players qualified for analysis. And the book has the numbers listed for each of them. Here's a juicy selection:

Hank Aaron

.310 BA; 28 HR; .378 OBP; .546 SLG; 23 SB

Ty Cobb

.336 BA; 22 HR; .406 OBP; .550 SLG; 63 SB

Joe DiMaggio

.309 BA; 31 HR; .369 OBP; .582 SLG; 4 SB

Barry Bonds

.294 BA; 36 HR; .429 OBP; .584 SLG; 33 SB

Mickey Mantle

.302 BA; 32 HR; .416 OBP; .554 SLG; 28 SB

Willie Mays

.308 BA; 29 HR; .391 OBP; .566 SLG; 49 SB

Honus Wagner

.324 BA; 22 HR; .395 OBP; .551 SLG; 45 SB

Babe Ruth

.309 BA; 50 HR; .439 OBP; .673 SLG; 10 SB

Ted Wiliams

.322 BA; 39 HR; .448 OBP; .628 SLG; 3 SB

Tony Gwynn

.338 BA; 6 HR; .392 OBP; .451 SLG; 25 SB

Rogers Hornsby

.327 BA; 31 HR; .430 OBP; .597 SLG; 10 SB

Despite the flaws in the assumptions, this is still light years better than the bogus "relative stats" drivel currently being paraded around as legitimate basis for cross-era comparisons.

Tyrus4189Cobb
12-18-2013, 12:17 PM
In my 12 years here this may be THE most progressive, insightful thread on league quality over time. Certainly, Schell's methodology is light years ahead of everyone else's methods/output.

What are people's thoughts on PROPER park adjustments and statistical adjustments based on standard deviations, not mean-based stats?

I need to see more of the methodology

csh19792001
12-18-2013, 12:48 PM
I need to see more of the methodology

See post 83 for starters.

And:
http://www.amazon.com/Baseballs-All-Time-Best-Sluggers-Performance/dp/0691115575/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387396610&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+schell

Bothrops Atrox
12-18-2013, 01:00 PM
.

What are people's thoughts on PROPER park adjustments and statistical adjustments based on standard deviations, not mean-based stats?

Knowing nothing else, this is generally the right way to approach this sort of thing, of course.
I bet his findings align closely to what James did on with his LQ Indicators in the Bob Lemon section of the 2000 Historical Abstract.

BigRon
12-18-2013, 01:24 PM
I need to see more of the methodology

Buy the book! It's been out for at least 8 years.

csh19792001
12-18-2013, 04:30 PM
Knowing nothing else, this is generally the right way to approach this sort of thing, of course.
I bet his findings align closely to what James did on with his LQ Indicators in the Bob Lemon section of the 2000 Historical Abstract.

Esp. as erudite as you are, and given your statistical proclivities, I would STRONGLY suggest you read Schell's book. I'd love to hear your feedback, and learn from you as a result.

Bothrops Atrox
12-18-2013, 04:49 PM
Esp. as erudite as you are, and given your statistical proclivities, I would STRONGLY suggest you read Schell's book. I'd love to hear your feedback, and learn from you as a result.

It seems interesting. Won't promise i will read it. It is so hard to find time to read anymore.

BigRon
12-18-2013, 06:33 PM
It seems interesting. Won't promise i will read it. It is so hard to find time to read anymore.

Spoken like a child of the internet age. You definitely should read it- it's miles ahead of anything you see around here.

Herr28
12-18-2013, 06:35 PM
I have time now between the semesters to read again. I should see if I can find a copy around town, or maybe in Austin.

Bothrops Atrox
12-18-2013, 06:35 PM
Spoken like a child of the internet age. You definitely should read it- it's miles ahead of anything you see around here.

I don't doubt it. I do read quite a bit, but rarely anything technical. With books, Id actually rather read about the game's narrative that analytics. In fact, I think Wizardry by Michael Humphries might be my only saber leaning book of my many baseball books.

Herr28
12-18-2013, 06:39 PM
I don't doubt it. I do read quite a bit, but rarely anything technical. With books, Id actually rather read about the game's narrative that analytics.

I agree. I have to read so much while in school, and though I love the history books I get to read, some of them are way too dry or technical. I want more relaxing topics and great books about players or teams and the story of their times really hit the spot between the semesters. If this is too dry, I probably won't waste my time with it until the much longer break in the summer, before I hit grad school.

Bothrops Atrox
12-18-2013, 06:47 PM
Technical books re: herpetology are about the only ones i really like, generally speaking.

But I def. prefer the internet for analytics in sports.