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  • When it asks did the player meet HOF standards, you would reference the Baseball-Reference measurement of HOF Standards. Is it asking you how the player does on that or some other set of Hall of Fame standards?
    Chop! Chop! Chop!

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    • Originally posted by AG2004 View Post
      Lip Pike

      I'm still working on the backlog of requests. The order I'm filling them has changed slightly; in general, the preference goes to players who have received votes in recent BBFHOF elections.

      One of those players is Lip Pike, who played the bulk of his career before 1876. There are so many issues regarding pre-NL play that it substantially helps a player's case if (a) he was widely regarded as the best position player in baseball at his peak and/or (b) had a very long career. Since the player base was limited in the NAPBBP, and even more so before 1871, just being the best at one's position isn't enough. Furthermore, a long career indicates that a player was still able to play during a long decline phase - and, since the area from which the top players came was expanding during that time, that player's previous dominance would probably be due more to actual ability than to the limited number of players available. On the other hand, if the end of a career came early - and not as a result of a severe injury or disease, but as a result of a player's gradual decline - that hints that the player might not have been dominant had the initial player pool been substantially larger.

      Pike wasn't quite good enough at his best, in terms of either performance or number of seasons at that level, for him to get in on peak alone. He doesn't have the necessary career length (for pre-NL stars) to compensate for that shortcoming. His strength and speed were the stuff of legend, but the overall record is a bit weak. There is a possiblity that better information from the era could help him, but I'll leave him off the queue for now.

      Case to Consider: PIKE, Lip

      1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

      Although Pike was famous for his speed and strength, I haven’t found many references to his being the best player overall.

      2. Was he the best player on his team?

      Pike was the second-best offensive player on the Athletics in 1866. He was third-best offensively for the Mutuals in 1867, but only fifth or sixth on the team in 1868. He was arguably the best player for the Atlantics in 1869. For Atlantic in 1870, he was third in hits average, and first in total bases per game; he vied with Joe Start for the title of the team’s best position player that year.

      Pike was probably the best position player on his NA teams in 1871, 1874, and 1875. He also led St. Louis position players in win shares in 1876.

      3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

      Pike was arguably the best RF in the game in 1871 and 1873, and the best CF in 1874 and 1875. In 1876, he was tied for the lead for win shares among NL outfielders.

      In 1911, Francis Richter named Pike one of his three outfielders for his 1870-1880 team.

      4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

      Atlantic was the second-best team in 1869, and, due to the rules in play at the time, was the “championship” team at the end of the season. Atlantic was the first team to beat the Reds in 1870, but finished only fifth among professional clubs that year. From 1871 onward, Pike had no impact on pennant races.

      5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

      No. Pike was done as a regular major leaguer at the age of 33.

      6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

      I doubt it.

      7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

      By similarity scores, Pike is closest to George Hall, Lyman Bostock, Jimmy Bannon, Bill Lamar, Austin McHenry, Danny Taylor, Ray Blades, Smead Jolley, Cliff Lee, and Tuck Turner. However, Pike’s 155 OPS+ is much higher than that of anyone else on the list, and Pike is missing his pre-1871 seasons. So the similarity scores don’t help us.

      Pike had 17 win shares in 1876, 7 in 1877, and 7 more in 1878. These are rates equal to 34, 16, and 16 win shares per 140-game schedules, respectively. However, we don’t have WS data before 1876, so we can’t make a good comparison by that standard.

      8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

      Pike’s Black Ink total of 26 is a very good 69th overall. He’s 159th in Gray Ink, at 120 points, but that’s solid considering that the scores don’t exist for the first five years of his play at baseball’s top level. His HOF Standards score of 23.0 is only 484th, but very short schedules and those missing five years have something to do with the value being so low.

      While Pike is not in Cooperstown, he is in the Hall of Merit.

      9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

      Pike’s NA ink scores are lowered because his teams in 1874 and 1875 did not play a full complement of games, thus reducing his counting stats those years. Also, Pike played for top clubs between 1866 and 1870, and these seasons are not indicated on the baseball-reference site.

      On the other hand, although Pike was famous for his speed, he was stuck in right field, the least demanding defensive position of the era, from 1871 until 1873. Since those were his years from age 26 to age 28, that indicates he wasn’t a first-rate defensive player.

      10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

      I can’t argue that he is. He might seem comparable to Berger in overall peak/career combination, but the timeline advantage would lead me to prefer Berger. I can’t see Pike overtaking Wynn and Oms among center fielders.

      11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

      Pike was tied for the honor of second-best position player in the NL in 1876, at least according to win shares. One could argue that he was the best position player, or close to it, in 1874 and 1875.

      12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

      In the NL, Pike had just one season with 20+ win shares per 140 games. However, he had three or four such seasons between 1871 and 1875, and one or two such years before that. However, that means he had five to seven All-Star-type seasons, and that is below the approximate cut-off value of eight.

      13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

      At his peak, yes.

      14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

      Pike was baseball’s first Jewish star.

      15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

      Pike was blacklisted after playing poorly for Worcester in 1881. However, since his record is otherwise outstanding, and since Pike had been out of the NL for three years after having been cut by two clubs in 1878, I believe that Pike’s poor play was due to his deteriorating talent, and not due to any intent to throw games.

      CONCLUSION: Pike was a NA star with a high peak and short career. Ross Barnes comes to mind as a comparison, but Barnes’ peak was superior to Pike’s, and Pike didn’t have as many good seasons as Barnes. Pike’s pre-1871 record isn’t up to George Wright’s level, either. Pike was impressive at his best, but, with the game not as organized as it would be later, he needs more than just a good peak to be worthy of honor.

      Unfortunately, Pike comes up a little short when it comes to career value. When I count up his good seasons, I have to be generous to get the tally up to eight, and an All-Star-type season in the context of the late 1860s has to be balanced by the awareness that the game was just starting to develop in the Midwest then.

      For all intents and purposes, Pike was done as a player at baseball’s top level at the age of 33. Had his career been a few years longer, it may have helped him. Dickey Pearce, who I see as a worthy BBFHOF candidate, was able to post OPS+ marks of 106 and 100 as a full-time shortstop at the ages of 38 and 39, and that says something about how good he probably was during his prime. However, the shortness of Pike’s career raises questions about how much of his perceived greatness was due to his own ability and how much was due to the limited size of the player pool – a pool that was still growing at a healthy rate during the 1870s.

      Pike might have been worthy of the BBFHOF. However, I have too many doubts about him.
      Happy early 164th birthday!

      SABR BIO:
      https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/7a6a0655

      I couldn't find a specific thread for Pike, some good discussion was had here about Lip and Charley Jones:
      http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/...jones_lip_pike

      Voting on centerfielders:
      http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/...ielders_ballot

      Ineligible HOF players with strong resumes:
      http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/..._na_nel_and_ba
      http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/...roup_4_na_nel_

      One of the early baseball greats, whether HOF worthy or not, to be celebrated!
      Last edited by Jar of Flies; 05-24-2019, 07:12 AM.
      Jacquelyn Eva Marchand (1983-2017)
      http://www.tezakfuneralhome.com/noti...uelyn-Marchand

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      • AG2004 If you are still doing these, could you perhaps do up a list for Jimmy Key (or load it up in the queue if it's still going) ? Somehow he doesn't even have a HOF thread for himself after nearly 20 years

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        • He hasn't posted on the site since the end of 2013. I'd sadly conclude he's gone from the site.
          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.

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          • that is a shame, his posts here have been very enlightening in how I view certain players. In that case, I think I will delve a bit more into evaluating Jimmy's career before starting a thread for him.

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