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Thread: Ty Cobb General Thread

  1. #41
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    Is my above post showing up to anyone? It's not time stamping for some reason...
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  2. #42
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    Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net
    Yeah, he had it all, all right. Babe Ruth had 2 skills which were world-class. He could hit & he could throw. All the rest of his skills were easily matched by half of the league.

    Bill Burgess
    I'll repeat again: so what? As I said before, Carlos Beltran is a 5 tool player, and Albert Pujols is a 2 tool player, or possibly 3 (I don't know how his arm is). But could you really find me a manager who'd rather have Beltran than Pujols? Or (say three years ago when both were healthy) a manager who'd rather have Kendall than Piazza? Piazza's an awful fielder who can't run at all and can't throw out the garbage. Kendall can field, run, hit, throw, and hit for power. But I think you can fit all the baseball guys who'd rather have had Kendall than Piazza in a closet with room left over for spare linens.

    How many times in a season will a player get caught in a rundown? 2, tops? What difference does it make if one guy's the worst in the world and one guy's the best in the world at it? If somebody can get on base like Ruth and hit homers like Ruth, when would you ever possibly want him to bunt? With no outs and a runner on second in extra innings of a tie game at home? How often does that situation arise? The skills you're saying Ruth didn't have weren't skills that he even remotely needed ever. Sure, maybe they would have been worth two or three runs over the course of a year. But Ruth's hitting was worth much, much, much more than that.

    Oh, and as far as running down balls... Ruth's range factor in the outfield (where he played mostly in rightfield, with its short porch and resultant fewer defensive opportunities for right fielders) hovered right around or above league average until 1929... when he started to get slower because of age. Sure, it happens.

    Mr. Burgess, I've noticed that your last few posts to me seem to reflect a little... hostility. Please understand that I'm not trying to be antagonistic to you, or anything like that. Just trying to have a discussion here.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  3. #43
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    Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net

    No hostility intended. I like to point out those skills which Babe was not world-class, because so many people here post as if he were so amazing at all matters baseball. I really question if they knew how limited on a ballfield he really was.

    ElHalo:
    Taken in isolation, these skills like getting down to first in a hurry to beat out a throw, or running down a long line drive between FR & CF, might not seem important to you, but taken in total, all these skills are what wins or loses games in the real world.

    Bill Burgess
    I'm pretty sure fans know that Babe wasn't Cobb on the basepaths or Speaker in the field. But he was MORE than proficient at hitting and pitching, and hitting a pitching are 95% of baseball.

    And as for those skills losing or winning games in the real world... I guess that's why Babe's teams had such lousy winning percentages.

    Is it nice if somebody can do those things? Sure. Do you care if they can't do them if they hit .380 with fifty homers and 140 RBI? No, not a lick.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  4. #44
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    Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net
    (Bill - That 95% figure is just so wrong. The 1930 Phillies were a bruising offensive team and came in last, due to lousy pitching & defense.

    RMB:
    I think he's referring to that hitting is 95% of a BATTER's worth

    The 1923-25 Tigers outhit & outscored the Yankees, yet came in behind them, due to poor pitching & god-awful defense.

    RMB:
    The 1925 Tigers did not come in behind the 1925 Yanks

    Even with a minimum of offense, as the '08, & '63 Dodgers proved.

    RMB:
    If you're referring to the 1908 Tigers, they had more than a minimum of offense, as did the '63 Dodgers (3rd in adjusted BER & OPS)

  5. #45
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    Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net
    ElHalo,

    But he was MORE than proficient at hitting and pitching, and "hitting a pitching are 95% of baseball.

    Is it nice if somebody can do those things? Sure. Do you care if they can't do them if they hit .380 with fifty homers and 140 RBI? No, not a lick."

    (Bill - That 95% figure is just so wrong. The 1930 Phillies were a bruising offensive team and came in last, due to lousy pitching & defense.

    Get over your obsession with "hitting is 95% baseball", ElHalo. It's been disproved for over 140 yrs. of BB history. Both Bonds & A-Rod have been disproving your pet theory for 5 yrs. now. Superstars without the supporting cast don't win pennants.

    Bill Burgess
    It doesn't help that there was a typo in my original post, of course. It's supposed to say "hitting AND pitching are 95% of baseball." Of course you need good pitchers to win. In my opinion, good pitchers are more important than good hitters to winning ball games. Pitching wins ballgames, especially in the postseason.

    But pitchers really are responsible, in my opinion, for about 90% of how many runs a team gives up. If you think defense is really all that important, then let's see you put Walter Johnson up in front of a defense for 80 games, and then put, oh, I don't know, Jason Jennings up in front of that same defense for 80 games. If defense is so important, shouldn't they both give up about the same number of runs? But of course they won't. Because pitching is what determines how many runs a team gives up, for the most part. Not how rangy their right fielder is. That's certainly a part of it, but not a a huge part.

    Those 1930 Phillies (while not really a bruising offensive team... they finished 4th in the NL in runs) did so poorly because they had awful pitchers on their team... a team ERA of 7.69. And would you believe this? 14 different pitchers started a game for those 1930 Phillies.... and exactly one of them, Grover Cleveland Alexander, had a career ERA less than league average. And his ERA that year was 9.14! I don't care if you've got Tris Speaker, Richie Ashburn, and Roger Maris in the outfield, with Ozzie Smith, Brooks Robinson, Bill Mazeroski, and Don Mattingly in the infield, and Johnny Bench at the plate... with pitchers like that, you're not going to win a lot of ballgames.

    And can one guy win a pennant by himself? Of course not, and I never meant to imply that they can. I'm just saying that if Babe Ruth was hurting his team so much by not being able to, uh, bunt, then they wouldn't be winning so many games, would they? Because five times a game, when they really needed Babe to lay down a drag bunt, they just wouldn't be getting what they need.

    Is hitting 90% of baseball? Of course not. But it's certainly 90% of offense. And is pitching 90% of baseball? No, but it's certainly 90% of defense. If you've got a team full of Walter Johnsons pitching, and a team full of Ted Williams's hitting, do you really think you're going to lose that many ballgames? If fielding and baserunning were really what won ballgames, then guys like Ray Ordonez and Tony Womack would be having their doors knocked down by major league GM's, instead of bouncing around the minors.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  6. #46
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    Mr. Burgess;

    How long have you had this Ty Cobb obsession? Has he always been your favorite player?

    I know, personally, I hated Ty Cobb from the very first time I read about him... he was a racist and he never touched alcohol, and those are two things I absolutely cannot abide in a human being.

    But I know that to me, it was never the best players that I always had as my favorites. Babe Ruth, as great as he was, was never my favorite player... though I always loved him, more for his personality than his hitting feats. Pepper Martin and Billy Martin were always my favorites (odd that they've got the same last name...)... guys who were scrappy, spent most of their time drunk, and were as likely to fight you as look at you. I've always respected that, in a ballplayer and in a human being.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  7. #47
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    In some instances players can move a team up three to four places but the 1963 NL race is NOT a typical example. I'm laughing about where you say you're a big fan of the "rest of the team" then you say that one guy can make his team win twenty games just by himself.

  8. #48
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    Bill,

    I have to thank you for all the insight and great stories.

    I grew up living and breathing Detroit Tiger baseball (and George Brett), and Ty Cobb was always my favorite (after George Brett). Honestly I never knew about any of the 'bad stuff' about him until I was probably a late teenager. So I guess I was too young to realize he shouldn't be my favorite player because he was supposedly such a bad person or whatever???

    Anyway, I've been reading your posts here and find them VERY INTERESTING. I can see, agree or disagree, you have put a great amount of time and study into what you are saying. Thank you, it's great to see somebody with so much passion for what they speak of. I definately plan to check out some of the books you mentioned.

    Now I have to get off this thread before I end up not getting any work done

    --S.R.

  9. #49
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    My goodness, theres a lot of material to work throught in this thread. Bill, I applaud the effort you've put in to collecting your collections of Ty Cobb tributes. Some interesting reading, but do you really think it proves Cobb was better than Ruth? I think if anybody wanted to put in the effort (not volunteering myself thanks) they could come up with hundreds of equally glowing quotes about Ruth. Also, isn't it possible alot of the old timers picking Cobb over Ruth were as much expressing their preference the old "scientific" ball over the new live ball as anything else?
    El Halo, I think you drastically underestimate defense. Your Walter Johnson vs Jason Jennings comparison "wouldn't they give up the same amount of runs with the same defense behind the" is a classic strawman. NOBODY thinks defense is the only factor in preventing runs. If it was, all pitchers on every staff would have the same ERA. There is a theory floating around that pitchers only control strike outs and home runs and defense determines almost everything else. I personally don't buy that, but I think defense is more like 30-40 of run prevention than the 10 percent you estimate. If you go with 30% that would make 15% of a position players value defensive. I would double that for middle of the diamond guys and half it for corner guys (just rough numbers here). If you check out a few pitchers that moved from good defensive teams to poor ones I think you'll be surprised by how much their ERA is impacted.
    Total Baseball is a great reference in many ways, but I take their TPR with a grain of salt. Even though I respect defense more than some, I think they weigh it wrong and have some other conclusions that are hard to buy into. Bill Dahlen 20th all time? Tim Raines better than Joe DiMaggio? Art Fletcher better than Willie Stargell? I can't take that seriously.

  10. #50
    Mr. Burgess,
    I cannot fathom the amazing information and writing on Cobb you've done in this forum. In my history on baseball fever, I've never seen a better dissection and collection of research than what you've amassed on a singular player. You could write a book with all of your information! I give you much respect, and you deserve some kind of award for what you've done, because you're more than just a poster-you're a true baseball historian. I just wanted to comment on the fascinating job you've done, and I hold high respect for you on these boards. You bring extensive arguments to the table, and give every post some interesting information.

    Keep up the great work,
    Pumpsie

  11. #51
    Roy Hobbs,
    You have a good point on #1 of your last post. Mr. Burgess, if you're intending to win the argument that Cobb is indeed the greatest player that ever lived, you may or may not realize that you may be working against him if you bring ethics of a player to the table, because Cobb really was a brutally bad man, and even though there are shades of grey to the argument, his actions may affect how people see him as an overall player.

  12. #52
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    I think anybody who knows much about either man would have to agree both Cobb and Ruth were extremely flawed human beings and extremely great ball players. To a large degree, picking between them is as much a choice of styles as it is about talent. Roy, I don't think Bill really needs my help here, but comparing raw RBI and run totals for Ruth and Cobb doesn't tell the whole story. Runs were MUCH easier to come by in Ruth's day. Bill, don't give up on converting me. I'm actually going through somewhat of a change of heart on how to wiegh the total ball player vs hitter in evaluating greatness.
    Babe was a decent fielder in his younger days, okay range with a good arm. He was also an agressive baserunner -to the point of recklessness. I picture Hal McRae when trying to imagine a young Ruth on the basepaths. By the late 20's though he was a liability in the field and on the basepaths, frequently being lifted for pinch runners or defensive replacements (they didn't call Sammy Byrd "Babe Ruth's Legs" for nothing). Babe is still holding the #1 spot for me while I mull this over, but I could see a move of a better rounded player such as Ty or Honus or Willie or Bonds to number 1. Pure hitters like Williams and Hornsby would have to beat Babe on that basis and I can't see that.

  13. #53
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    Originally posted by leecemark
    I think anybody who knows much about either man would have to agree both Cobb and Ruth were extremely flawed human beings and extremely great ball players.
    Here I disagree. I agree that both were extremely great ball players. But I disagree that Ruth was an extremely flawed human being. Ruth was a heavy smoker, an alcoholic, a womanizer, a carouser... in short, exactly the kind of guy you'd want to have as a friend. Always quick with a smile and a dollar for the bartender. Loved children, loved women, loved liquor, loved life... in short, all of the qualities that one could hope to portray in themselves.

    How was he a flawed human being?
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  14. #54
    For the number crunchers.

    The 24 seasons that Cobb played in the major leagues his teams averaged 712 runs a season. Cobb averaged 13% of his team's runs overall.

    The difference between league total run averages in Cobb's career and Ruth's is 540.

    If we disperse that average across the league, each team scores on average 67 runs more in Ruth's era than in Cobbs.

    So, add 67 to the 712/season average for Cobbs team and you've adjusted it basically.

    Multiply that number by .13, you get 101.335, multiply that by 24 and you get Cobb's adjusted runs which = 2,432.

    Even with the adjustment Cobb scores a run every 4.7 ABs and Ruth scores a run every 3.8.

  15. #55
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    El Halo, I'll agree Babe was probably alot more fun to be around than Ty. I suppose if you don't think being a drunk, a whoremonger, a glutton, an an extremely ignorant, foul mouthed man who had absolutely no respect for authority and couldn't even be bothered to learn his teammates names are character flaws, then no he wasn't flawed in any way.

  16. #56
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    Originally posted by leecemark
    El Halo, I'll agree Babe was probably alot more fun to be around than Ty. I suppose if you don't think being a drunk, a whoremonger, a glutton, an an extremely ignorant, foul mouthed man who had absolutely no respect for authority and couldn't even be bothered to learn his teammates names are character flaws, then no he wasn't flawed in any way.
    Oddly, I consider those all to be positive character traits. Except the ignorance part, of course.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  17. #57
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    Originally posted by ElHalo
    Oddly, I consider those all to be positive character traits. Except the ignorance part, of course.
    I don't know whether to life or cry at that statement...from the irony of saying all are positive traits except ignorance by using an ignorant statement such as this...have you ever lived with an alcoholic? It's NOT a positive trait.

    Here's something to ponder over.

    Change

    Ty Cobb DID change, he built a hospital in a predominately black community in GA. He has a scholarship that is given not based on race but based on income. He fought many of his demons and won...many he still held. His mom killed his dad at 18 that is something no one can speculate what it would do to you, plus right afterwards he got hazed but his teammates and became paranoid.

    Babe NEVER learned from his mistakes, and they eventually took a toll on his health, decimated what could have been an even more eye popping career...and eventually killed him. When he was passed over for a managing job, he pointed fingers instead of looking in the mirror and pointing one at himself. He had everything handed to him on a silver platter for so long, he couldn't see how much of a terrible, dependent person he was.

    I'd rather be friends with Ty Cobb, because at least for the most part he saw many of the errors of his ways...unlike Babe. I think after the 3rd intervention with Babe I would have to walk away.

  18. #58
    "2) You can call Cobb "Mr. Intangibles" all you want. But there's only a few statistics I think matter in this debate:

    Ty Cobb had 2,245 R, 1,937 RBI in his career. This is over 11,434 AB, 3,035 G, 24 seasons.

    Babe Ruth had 2,174 R, 2,213 RBI in his career. This is over 8,399 AB, 2,503 G, 22 seasons.

    Now lets look at that.

    All that baserunning ability, all that stealing, all the ferocity, all of that, gave Cobb 71 more runs than Ruth. Seventy-one more runs in 3,305 more ABs and 532 more games. Wow Cobb, that's amazing. Your baserunning skills, your stealing, so impressive.

    Wow. 71 more runs in thousands more attempts.

    So what if Cobb was a great runner and Ruth wasn't. Ruth did much better at what REALLY COUNTED, getting back to home plate, simple as that. That is the point to baserunning, setting yourself up in the position to score a run. Cobb did a lot to score runs but realistically Ruth was obviously better at it.

    Ruth had many more RBIs and RBIs/AB than Cobb. I'm loathe to use RBI as a stastic of comparison because overall it is more of a team factor than an individual. But since you were talking about "place hitting" and contributing to the team... Well, all that place hitting et cetra didn't allow Cobb to drive in more runs.

    And sure, Ruth had typically a better supporting cast than Cobb did (although the Tigers were no slouches.) But that doesn't account for Cobb scoring only 71 more runs in thousands of more ABs."


    What are the runs/game, BA, SLG, and OBP for the American League during Ruth's career 1919-34 (as a regular) vs. Cobb's 1905-28???

    Ruth played in an era DRASTICALLY more offensively oriented (overall) than Cobb.

    Cobb never had anyone on any of his teams hit more than 21 homeruns, and most years nobody with CLOSE to even that weak figure.

    On "71 more runs"... if Ty had a guys AVERAGING 150 RBI'S a A YEAR BATTING BEHIND HIM for 10 years, I think the disparity would be SLIGHTLY more. Just speculation, though. lol

    He was on the top run scoring team of alltime (even with 154 games), and many others (murderers row) that were stacked with tremendous hitters, both power and for average.

    You have to look a lot harder at this one (way past raw numbers). Adjust and normalize everything first, then take into account the teams the players were on. Then take into account the equipment improvement and rule changes that favor Ruth tremendously (as a HR hitter). Then playing in parks with a 256 ft. right field line, and later in one with a short porch and a 296 ft. right field line.

    Ty Cobb had a 370 ft. right field line to contend with, conversely.

    Ruth had many huge advantages that Ty was never afforded, yet Cobb was better alot longer and put up a record that stands up to anyone's.

    And that's just ON PAPER, where Ruth shines. Read Bill Burgess' files to get some perspective on all the things Cobb did vastly better which by nature CANNOT show up in quantitative analysis. Baseball isn't a science, it's a game. And anyone who played most of their life (or was an astute observer) can tell you that there is a ton that happens on a baseball diamond that cannot show up in a stat book.

    Chris
    Last edited by csh19792001; 05-02-2004 at 06:55 PM.

  19. #59
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    Bill, you love to throw that home/away disparity in Ruth's 1921 season around. In the interest of fairness I think you might add that that was by no means typical of his career and his road slugging that season still lead the league by a wide margin. Ruth was helped by the Polo Grounds and later by Yankee Stadium, but to suggest he was a product of his park or that he wouldn't have been a tremendous slugger elsewhere cheapens the debate.

  20. #60
    On to Cobb's personality, they are based off the following accounts:

    One day while walking in Detroit, he stepped in freshly poured asphalt and was yelled at by Fred Collins, a construction worker who happened to be black. Cobb responded by slapping Collins, knocking him to the ground, and continuing on his way. He was charged with assault and battery and found guilty, but received a suspended sentence. Collins then filed a civil suit, which Cobb settled out of court for $75.
    and

    An unfortunate incident in Cleveland's Hotel Euclid forced Cobb to go through Canada to avoid arrest during the 1909 World Series in Pittsburgh. Late one Friday night, Cobb got in an argument with the elevator operator and slapped him. The night manager, a black man named George Stansfield, came to aid the elevator operator and ended up in a shouting match with Cobb. Stansfield then hit Cobb with his nightstick, and the two rolled on the floor. Cobb drew his knife and slashed Stansfield, while Stansfield drew his pistol and hit Cobb again with the nightstick. Stansfield filed both criminal and civil suits against Cobb, but later dropped the criminal suit. But the case was still pending during the World Series, with an arrest warrant out for Cobb. Police waited for the Tiger train through Ohio en route to Pittsburgh for the World Series to arrest him, but Cobb was going through Canada. The civil suit was settled for $100 and court costs.
    and

    These incidents pale in comparison with what happened at Hilltop Park in New York in May 1912, and what that episode triggered. A fan whom Cobb recognized as a regular heckler was sitting behind the Tigers' dugout verbally abusing Cobb. He and Cobb traded insults for a while, but Cobb wanted to avoid trouble, so he stayed in center field carriage park area during the second inning. In the third, he went by the New York dugout to look for the owner to ask to have the fan removed. When he got back to the Tigers' bench, he yelled something to the fan about his sister. The fan, Claude Lueker, responded to Cobb by calling him a "half-[racial epithet]." Sam Crawford asked Cobb if he would take that from the fan, at which point Cobb charged twelve rows into the stands and began to beat the fan vigorously.
    .

    The first incident is completely inexcusable. If you walk on freshly poured concrete you should most assuredly expect the construction worker who just took the time to pour it to say something to you. Cobb would be in the wrong there whether the man was black or white, and I don't know how Cobb would have replied if the man had been white. But I see how he replied when the man was black.

    The second incident in the elevator is hard to say. He was already engaged in a fight when the black man became involved so I can't say the whole incident was racially motivated.

    The third incident, Cobb's most famous incident, stems from nothing but racism since he proceded to actually climb into the stands because someone had had the gall to suggest Cobb was black.

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