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Bill James and Dick Allen

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  • Bill James and Dick Allen

    Dick Allen has received much support around sabermetric circles as the best player outside of the Hall of Fame. His numbers are excellent in the context in which he played, and taking out the subjective element, Bill James's Win Shares rankings would have him as the second greatest first baseman of all time.

    But James wrote in Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, that Allen's bad attitude and disruptions did more to keep his teams from winning than any player in baseball history. "And if that's a Hall of Famer," James wrote, "I'm a lug nut."

    When it comes to Hall of Fame voting in BBF, if we just went based on the numbers, Allen would get in easily. In fact, I think he did. But if you factored in his reputation as a clubhouse cancer, would you come to the same conclusion as James, or say that Allen's disruptions didn't have anywhere near the impact of his play on the field?
    22
    Yes, his bad reputation meant almost nothing.
    13.64%
    3
    Yes, although his reputation had some negative effect.
    59.09%
    13
    Yes, although his reputation had a large effect.
    13.64%
    3
    No, because his reputation had some effect.
    9.09%
    2
    No, because his reputation had a large effect.
    4.55%
    1
    No, his reputation destroyed the team.
    0.00%
    0
    "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

    - Alvin Dark

  • #2
    I would ask that you read the first post, because the poll title isn't really what the question is; I just put it there because I couldn't think of an appropriate one that would fit.
    "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

    - Alvin Dark

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by AstrosFan
      I would ask that you read the first post, because the poll title isn't really what the question is; I just put it there because I couldn't think of an appropriate one that would fit.

      --Of course, if we're reading this post we probably already read the first one . For me, Allen's disruptive behavior is a negative that detracts from but doesn't trump his numbers. He also has a shortcoming in terms of durability and longevity. He was great enough that I think he belongs in Cooperstown despite those dual issues, but they do drag his all time ranking for me. He was probably one of the top 25 most talented players of all time, but might not make my top 100 in terms of actual value to his teams.

      Comment


      • #4
        Allen was a simply unbelieveable hitter, and he was the best player in baseball at his peak, and certainly in contention for the title multiple times over his career. It's hard to keep a guy like that out of the Hall.

        Dick Allen's clubhouse cancer reputation has been exaggerated though the years also IMO. Craig Wright wrote a long article about Allen, interviewing those people who played and managed Allen through their careers. He asked them about many of the incidents James writes about in his article, the Frank Thomas fight, the voluntarily retiring from the White Sox, they all say that Allen's part in those has been ridiculously exaggerated, that he got along with teammates, and that the managers never had problems with him.

        I certainly would not describe Allen as a model citizen, though, and it does slightly detract from his HOF case. But he still should, overwhelmingly, be in the HOF. My new rating system has him BY FAR the best player outside of the HOF, and that's even giving him a sizeable 15 point intangible deduction (Allen is at 371, the next closest is Grich at 360).

        Comment


        • #5
          I chose the second poll option.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AstrosFan
            Dick Allen has received much support around sabermetric circles as the best player outside of the Hall of Fame. His numbers are excellent in the context in which he played, and taking out the subjective element, Bill James's Win Shares rankings would have him as the second greatest first baseman of all time.

            But James wrote in Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, that Allen's bad attitude and disruptions did more to keep his teams from winning than any player in baseball history. "And if that's a Hall of Famer," James wrote, "I'm a lug nut."

            When it comes to Hall of Fame voting in BBF, if we just went based on the numbers, Allen would get in easily. In fact, I think he did. But if you factored in his reputation as a clubhouse cancer, would you come to the same conclusion as James, or say that Allen's disruptions didn't have anywhere near the impact of his play on the field?
            James wrote that Allen is the second most "controversial" player in MLB history, behind only Rogers Hornsby. If you've read my posts, you know I detest Hornsby. He is the ONLY player in MLB history I am willing to downgrade for having been a clubhouse cancer, because as a general rule, it's my view that a guy's having been an a.h. doesn't prove he poisoned his team(s). Cobb was Cobb, but the Tigers wanted him for 22 years. Bonds is #@$&, but nobody's wanted to trade him. But I've explained at length why I'm comfortable in saying Hornsby can be knocked down for being a clubhouse cancer.

            OK. Back to Allen.

            I think it's absurd to say what James said. In 1964, the Giants--of whom I was an 11-year-old rabid fan--had a tremendous rookie 3Bman named Jimmie Ray Hart. We wanted him to be Rookie of the Year, and in the vast majority of years, he would have. Wrong year. Richie Allen was also a rookie 3Bman, and he just flat blew Hart away. But in the process, he was subjected to more racist taunts in one year than just about any player not named "Robinson." Philly was NOT the city to be a black ballplayer in back then.

            Well, Richie Allen became Dick Allen, but under any name he remained a tremendous hitter for many, many years. And for Bill James to rate him one rung below Rogers Hornsby on baseball's a.h. list, and to say that he "lost half of his career or more to immaturity and emotional instability," is beyond the pale.

            Bill James has exactly the same credentials as a psychologist that I do. He also has exactly the same first-hand knowledge about being black, and about playing for and against loudly, viciously racist fans, as I do... which is to say he has none. Allen experienced a ton of that, and then the media jumped on him like jackals when he reacted, much as they did Albert Belle after a "fan" tormented him about his battle with alcoholism and he exploded in response.

            The difference is, Allen never beat the hell out of anyone in the stands, nor, to my knowledge, did he try. As I've said on other threads here, I have a very close African-American friend who is well-known for his distant college basketball glories and his TV/movie roles, particularly one great show that ran for 8 years. He was never a baseball fan until I made him into one. I'd told him quite a lot about Allen's career previously. When James' 2001 abstract came out, I read him the part about Allen. Suffice it to say, he didn't like it.

            Neither do I. And I don't think ANY of us who aren't black should try and guess what it was like to play through those years in the 1960's in Philly, which preceded the "behavior" James is so superciliously talking about in the 1970's.

            I'm one of those who voted for Choice #1.

            BHN

            Comment


            • #7
              I definitely think James has been too difficult on Dick Allen. He is by far the best player not in the HOF. Chris pretty much sums up my thoughts in his post. Allen was the best and most feared hitter in the late '60s. Also, I've read his posts with the evidence that his "clubhouse cancer" has been highly overblown. By those accounts, he was not hated by his teammates, but by the media. This would seem to make his clubhouse issues non-existent. Sportswriters have been known to hold vendettas against certain players (Ted Williams anyone?) and I get the sense that this is the case with Dick Allen. James needs to swallow his pride and move Allen back up the ratings where he belongs subjectively.

              Comment


              • #8
                I will only say that while Allen is CLEARLY a hall of famer based on his offense, any win shares or relative value based system that has him anywhere near #2 all time at first base is inherently flawed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I can't agree that Allen is the best player not in the HOF that's eligible. That honor goes to Albert Belle, IMO.

                  Allen was toast at 33. He played it out to age 35, but from age 33 on, he was just another player. He was part of a Phillie divisional championship, but he really wasn't a key player in the Phillies' rise.

                  Bill James, in his articles, pointed out mitigating factors for Allen. They sent him to the Arkansas Travelers farm club for triple A; he was a young 20 year old black player and the only black on a team in a segregated city. This affected Allen negatively, and the Phillies were stupid not to think of the effect of doing this to a young black future star who was only 20 years old. On the other hand, Allen had a problem with alcohol for much of his career, and his alcohol abuse is also documented. I didn't need Bill James to tell me that Allen missed batting practices more than once because he was drunk.

                  Allen did not have the negative effect on his teams James indicates he had when he first came to teams. The 1970 Cardinals improved significantly over the 1969 Cards, and this was due to Allen in no small part. The 1971 Dodgers came within 1 game of the NL West title; they were way out the year before. Both teams declined when Allen left. The 1972 Chisox also improved dramatically. The 1964 Phillies were leading the pennant race for most of the year, but choked in the last week, not due to Allen. I do believe, however, that the Phillies in the late 1960s fell to lower depths than they should have in no small part due to the disruptive nature of Allen's behavior.

                  His numbers are indisputable, and I believe James overstated the case, but not as much as some here believe. I remember Allen's antics firsthand, and he was a real jerk at his worst.
                  "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

                  NL President Ford Frick, 1947

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've read differring accounts of the Allen/Thomas incident and it seem clear to me that Thomas deserved the ass kicking that he received from Allen.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by brett
                      I will only say that while Allen is CLEARLY a hall of famer based on his offense, any win shares or relative value based system that has him anywhere near #2 all time at first base is inherently flawed.
                      It's not the Win Shares system that's flawed, it's the way that James puts it together in his system. It gives FAR too much weight to peak performances. I think it's a very realistic argument that Allen may have the second best peak among first basemen, but I agree he is not really close to the 2nd best overall.

                      Originally posted by wamby
                      I've read differring accounts of the Allen/Thomas incident and it seem clear to me that Thomas deserved the ass kicking that he received from Allen.
                      Absolutely he should have. Especially at that time, you shouldn't get away with making racist remarks towards a young player (Thomas was doing this to young black outfielder Johnny Briggs). I would actually commend Allen for his actions. It was the right thing to do.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Old Dick Allen post here. Read through it if you're not familiar. It was in response to someone who said "his stats aren't good enough.", or something like that.

                        Yeah, the 156 OPS+ in the 1960s and 1970s isn't good enough. The 140 rel. SLG isn't good enough. The fact he is second in 3 year Win Shares peak among all 1B in the NBJHBBA, ahead of Jimmie Foxx, that's just not HOF matierial.

                        I've shown it before, his peak EqAs are just about the same as Ty Cobb.

                        Based on Bill James' rating system he introduces in his New Historical Baseball Abstract, Allen rates 2nd all time among first basemen.

                        You say he was a great fielding 1B? I must say, that's the first time I've ever heard that. From what I've read, he was considered to only be fair with the glove. But, he still was a much more valuable defensive player than most other 1B, simply because he played a lot of third base.

                        Eyewitness opinions are also in his favor. Allen was always the center of attention on any team he was on, not only because of his temperment, but also because he just had so much talent. People would see him and just go "wow, that guy can hit!". Look at what Chuck Tanner had to say about him:

                        "He was the greatest player I ever managed, and what he did for us in Chicago was amazing. In Pittsburgh I had guys like Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Phil Garner, Bill Madlock, but in Chicago it was Dick Allen and, what, Bill Melton? There just wasn't a lot of talent there. With Dick -- well, we were able to battle the Oakland A's, one of the greatest teams ever. Without him we simply weren't a first division team."

                        See that? He says Dick Allen was the kind of player who could take a team with almost no talent and transform them into winners. The stats certainly support that-just look at the Win Shares system. Dick Allen was worth in his career a little more than 30 Win Shares per season (his per season mark is better than any 1B but Gehrig, I may add). Each Win Share is one third of a win so that means Allen by himself was worth about 10 wins. 10 Wins is a huge thing. It's enough to transform a mediocre team into a pennant winner. That's what Dick Allen was worth his whole career.

                        Many of his detractors will look at his traditional stats and say they're not quite up to par. Only one season with 40 HRs, only 3 100 RBI years, only once over 200 hits, etc. Well, that is of course ridiculous. Allen played in one of the toughest hitting eras of all time. The league average OPS in his time was .706. For those who find relative stats too complicated, all you need to do is look at his performance in league leads. Allen was top 10 in BA 6 times, and never led despite finishing top 5 three of those years. He led in OBP twice, SLG three times, OPS four times (he finished top 10 in OPS every single full season of his career), runs scored once, home runs twice, RBI once, and runs created three times. Quite a good index of league leads. No question Allen was a fantastic hitter despite his less than eye popping traditional stats.

                        If relative stats are your bag, Allen is one of the best all time. I already mentioned his OPS+. It is fifth all time among players who played mostly post 1950.

                        A critiscism may be that his stregths were all centered around slugging. Allen certainly was a tremendous slugger, but he had speed and contact skills as well. He truly was a well rounded hitter. For a player who was primarily a 1B, his speed was very good. He finished top 10 in SBs twice, he led the league in triples once and was top 10 6 times, he also led in power/speed once.

                        But the biggest criticism against Allen-and the one that probably is the most legitimate-is the claim that he was a horrible teammate and hurt his teams as much as he helped them. Bill James wrote a scathing article in his book The Politics of Glory which says the exact same thing.

                        Craig Wright once wrote an article which examined this, to see if Allen was really as horrible a clubhouse influence as many claimed that he was. Wright interviewed his former manager Gene Mauch, and Mauch had this to say about Allen:

                        When asked if Allen was a clubhouse lawyer who distracted teammates:

                        "Never. His teammates always liked him. You could go forever and never meet a more charming fellow."

                        "He wasn't doing anything to hurt his teammates play of the game, and he didn't involve his teammates in his problems. When he was personally rebellious, he didn't try to bring other players into it."

                        One of the main things people say when they talk about how bad a person Allen was was how he got into a fight with Frank Thomas in the 1964 season. They claim this upset the Phillies that year and set the stage for their later collapse. Pat Corrales (former MLB player who played a bit on the Phillies in 1964 and was on the team when the fight occured) says this about the incident, though:

                        "It had really started earlier on our road trip in Chicago. Thomas was your tough
                        bully type, and he had been picking on Johnny Briggs [21-year-old black outfielder],
                        saying `Boy this' and `Boy that.' Dick didn't go for that, and there were some words
                        between them. We get back to Philly, and during early BP I'm down the line talking
                        with Mauch, when we see this commotion down at the cage. They were just pulling
                        them apart at this point, after Thomas swung the bat. During the fight, Thomas had
                        hit Dick with a bat -- on the shoulder."
                        The fight bothered Thomas so much that in the following game he hit his first homer
                        of the year, but his career continued to slide away. He finished the year as a weak
                        reserve with Houston and Milwaukee, hitting .187 in 91 ABs.
                        When Mauch told Allen that Thomas was being put on irrevocable waivers, Dick
                        protested on Frank's behalf. Mauch ordered Allen and his teammates not to speak to
                        the press about the fight and backed it up with a threat of stiff fines. That was
                        unfortunate as the press and the fans heard just Thomas's side, and they did not
                        take kindly to a young black guy popping a white veteran. Mauch told me, "They
                        really turned on him [Allen] after the Thomas fight. From there, if he did one little
                        thing wrong, they would see it as so much worse because it was Allen. They got it in
                        their heads that this was a bad guy, and they booed his every move."

                        Corrales then goes on to say this:

                        "But the view of the fans and the press was not the view in the clubhouse. Both
                        Mauch and Corrales saw no effect on team morale, and Corrales noted that his
                        teammates backed Allen in this dispute. In the book Crash, teammate Johnny
                        Callison said, "Thomas rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Mauch wanted him
                        gone -- and here was his excuse. ... Thomas got himself fired when he swung that
                        bat at Richie. In baseball you don't swing a bat at another player -- ever."

                        So, overall, at least according to the people who were right at the scene and knew Dick personally, Allen was not nearly the clubhouse distraction that he was made out to be. His reputation was probably undeserved, and it shouldn't hurt his HOF chances.

                        I'm glad you respect Dick Allen-but really, he should be in the HOF, no question.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wamby
                          I've read differring accounts of the Allen/Thomas incident and it seem clear to me that Thomas deserved the ass kicking that he received from Allen.
                          I don't know that I'd go that far, but I have to agree Thomas clearly provoked Allen. My favorite comment on the incident comes from Richie Ashburn, who I had the pleasure to listen to for many years. Ashburn rarely had a bad word about anyone, but his comment on Thomas was that he "wasn't called the 'Big Donkey' for nothing" (i.e. he was a jackass).

                          Jim Albright
                          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I believe there were only three HR championships won during the many decades (Old) Comiskey Park stood. They were won by Bill Melton, Dick Allen and Dick Allen.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fuzzy Bear
                              I can't agree that Allen is the best player not in the HOF that's eligible. That honor goes to Albert Belle, IMO.

                              Allen was toast at 33. He played it out to age 35, but from age 33 on, he was just another player. He was part of a Phillie divisional championship, but he really wasn't a key player in the Phillies' rise.
                              So was Albert Belle. His last season was literally at age 33. Belle put up a 143 OPS+ over 6673 plate appearances. Allen's was 156 over 7314 PA's. He put up a higher OPS+ over a longer career. Finding it hard to support Belle's case.

                              And while Allen might get intangible subtractions against most players, certainly that was not the case against Belle. Both were considering quite the head cases.

                              And Belle did his hitting as a corner OF/DH. Allen played 1B and 3B.

                              And Allen wasn't a key to the Phillies success? He was far and away their best hitter on those teams. Rarely was anyone within about 50 OPS+ points of him.

                              Belle put up better traditional stats because he played in an offensive era, but Allen was far better compared to his league. Even in Belle's spectacular 1995 season, his OPS+ that year would have only been the 3rd highest of Allen's career.

                              Comment

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