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  • AG2004
    replied
    Phil Rizzuto

    The next shortstop under consideration is Phil Rizzuto.

    I see that Vern Stephens has been doing better than Rizzuto in recent BBFHOF voting. Rizzuto's win share totals are 231-86-121, while Stephens' are 265-93-129. Advantage, Stephens? Not quite. We have to remember that Rizzuto was in the military for three years during WWII (1943-45). Those were his years from age 26 to age 28, the middle of his prime. Stephens, on the other hand, was playing major league baseball during those three years, and, according to win shares, had two of his best three seasons during that span. If you were to remove 1943-45 from Stephens' record, his win shares totals would decline to 181-80-122. The effect of those three missing years could be that dramatic.

    There are several intangibles in Rizzuto's favor, and they are mentioned in the list and the conclusion. I decided to put Rizzuto in my queue.

    Case to Consider: RIZZUTO, Phil

    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?

    Rizzuto was named AL MVP and Major League Player of the Year in 1950. This honor was deserved, as he led all major leaguers in win shares that season. However, this was just for one season; when we consider spans of multiple years, he wasn’t considered baseball’s best.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Rizzuto led Yankees position players in win shares in 1950, and was second among New York’s position players in 1949 and 1951.

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

    According to win shares, Rizzuto was the best shortstop in baseball in 1950, and the second best in the AL in 1942, 1947, and 1951. He would have led NL shortstops in win shares in 1947 had he played in that league. While Rizzuto was fifth among AL shortstops in win shares in 1941, his total would have given him the lead among NL shortstops that year; that says something about the number of strong shortstops the AL had.

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

    In 1949, Rizzuto had 22 win shares as the Yankees won the pennant by one game, so he had a large impact that year. In 1950, the Yankees won by just 3 games, while Rizzuto’s 35 win shares was five wins over the All-Star-type season cutoff of 20 games, so that’s another season with a large impact. In 1952, Rizzuto had 21 win shares, and the Yankees took the pennant by just 2 games. Otherwise, the Yankees’ margin of victory was too large for any player to have much of an impact on the race.

    Rizzuto won the Babe Ruth Award in 1951, which means he was de facto World Series MVP. He also had a great World Series in 1942, hitting .381/.435/.524, but the Yankees lost that year.

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

    He was still a regular at age 37, so I would answer this question, “yes.”

    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: Jose Offerman, Claude Ritchey, Hughie Critz, Lonny Frey, Jim Gantner, Tom Herr, Johnny Evers, Bill Hallman, Delino DeShields, and Billy Rogell. None are in the BBFHOF, and only Evers is in Cooperstown. However, as Rizzuto lost three years to World War II, this list isn’t quite fair to him.

    Rizzuto earned 231 win shares in his career. The HOM people think he would have earned about 69 win shares from 1943 to 1945; I’ll be conservative and give him 290+.

    Career win shares, SS: Barry Larkin 314, Rabbit Maranville 302, Luis Aparicio 293, RIZZUTO 290+, Tony Fernandez 280, Bert Campaneris 280, Lou Boudreau 277, Joe Sewell 277. This is a very good sign for Rizzuto.

    We don’t know how Rizzuto would have done between 1943 and 1945. I’ll just put a plus sign after Rizzuto’s win shares to indicate that these numbers might have been higher if not for the war.

    Top three seasons, SS: Vern Stephens 93, Alan Trammell 90, Jim Fregosi 89, Maury Wills 87, Johnny Pesky 87, Rico Petrocelli 87, RIZZUTO 86+, Pee Wee Reese 85, Joe Sewell 84, Dave Bancroft 84, Ozzie Smith 83. Rizzuto is at the gray area; if we give him the benefit of the doubt for his years in the military, he’s on more solid ground.

    Top five consecutive seasons, SS: Johnny Pesky 130, Vern Stephens 129, Maury Willls 128, Eddie Joost 126, Joe Sewell 125, Rico Petrocelli 125, Ozzie Smith 123, RIZZUTO 121+, Tony Fernandez 118, Joe Tinker 118, Al Dark 118, Art Fletcher 116, Dave Bancroft 115. Unless you give him the benefit of the doubt for the war years, Rizzuto is in poor shape here.

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

    Rizzuto has no black ink. He’s 529th in gray ink, with a score of 46, which is a little low for shortstops – but he did miss those three years in World War II. He’s a terrible 692nd in HOF Standards, with a score of 18.9, but the missing years hurt him here as well. Rizzuto also earned four Win Shares Gold Gloves during the years he did play.

    Rizzuto is in Cooperstown, but not 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?

    Rizzuto lost three years to military service during WWII -- those were his seasons from 26 to 28. He struggled in his first season back from the war; hence, he lost most of his prime due to the War. Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese both ended up at the Norfolk Naval Base, which chose Rizzuto as the shortstop for its baseball team, so he was very good during those years.

    Also, Bill James classifies Rizzuto as an A+ defensive shortstop, and win shares may slightly underrate top defensive players.

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

    I would rate Dickey Pearce higher; however, one could build a case for Rizzuto.

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

    Rizzuto won the AL MVP award in 1950, and finished second in the 1949 vote. Overall, Rizzuto finished in the top ten of the MVP vote three times. He finished with just one season of 30+ win shares, but may have missed another due to the war.

    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?

    Rizzuto made five All-Star teams; even if you give him war credit, he would still be a little low. However, he had seven seasons with 20+ win shares, and lost two or three more such years to the military. That would put him over the rough BBFHOF borderline of eight such years.

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

    I don’t know. He had 25 win shares in 1942, and 26 in 1947, so he might have been able to lead a team to a pennant during the war years. Since he did earn 35 win shares at age 33, we can’t rule this possibility out.

    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?

    Rizzuto turned 1217 DPs in an estimated 13,614 innings at shortstop. That comes out to 89 double plays per 1000 innings, the highest ratio of all time. There are some players who recorded high DP totals because of a large number of opportunities. However, when Bill James compared actual double plays to expected double plays, the greatest double play combination in MLB history turned out to be Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto, and Rizzuto turned out to be the best ML shortstop ever at turning the double play (see page 638 of his newest Historical Abstract). [James admits that he didn’t know this fact when he wrote The Politics of Glory.]

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

    As far as I know, he did.

    CONCLUSION: There are a lot of shortstops Rizzuto can be compared to: Dave Concepcion, Joe Sewell, Vern Stephens, Maury Wills, and Artie Wilson are some of them. However, there are several things that separate Rizzuto from this pack. First, with war credit, Rizzuto has 10-20 more win shares than anybody else in that pack. Second, Rizzuto, unlike the others, did have a season as the best position player in baseball. Finally, Rizzuto was the best shortstop in major league history in turning the double play, both by raw DP per inning ratio and by comparing actual DPs to expected DPs. All of this lifts Rizzuto to the top of this group of shortstops and into my queue for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Dave Concepcion

    Here's another shortstop profile.

    Dave Concepcion may have been the best shortstop of the 1970s, but he was competing against a weak field. The 1980s featured Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount (it took him a while to blossom), Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell, and the start of Barry Larkin's career. Concepcion comes out short against anyone from that quintet. Had he played a decade later, it's doubtful that Concepcion would have had much support for a Hall of Fame case. When we measure him against the other shortstops of his century, and not just against those of his decade, Concepcion falls short of the BBFHOF. Dominating your position in your era might help your case if you're close enough otherwise, but Concepcion isn't that close to the line.

    Case to Consider: CONCEPCION, Dave

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Concepcion led Cincinnati’s position players in win shares in 1979 and 1982. While he was third on the team in 1978, he was never among the top three position players in win shares during the glory days of the Big Red Machine.

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

    He led major league shortstops in win shares in 1974, 1976, 1978, and 1981, and was tied for the NL lead among shortstops in 1980. He was second among National League SS in win shares in 1975, 1977, and 1979.

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

    Concepcion had 25 win shares in 1974, but the Reds still finished 4 games out of the division title. Nobody had a large impact on the race from 1975-1977, as the Reds finished with a huge margin each time. In 1978, Concepcion earned 25 win shares again, but Cincinnati was 2.5 games out of first. Concepcion had 24 win shares in 1979, when the Reds won the division by 1.5 games, so he did have a great impact that year.

    Concepcion batted .351/.400/.486 in five NLCS. He also went .308/.375/.462 in the 1972 World Series, and .357/.400/.571 in the 1976 World Series.

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

    As he was still a regular at age 37, yes.

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

    No.

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

    By similarity scores: Bobby Wallace, Tony Fernandez, Omar Vizquel, Royce Clayton, Bert Campaneris, Frank White, Luis Aparicio, Pee Wee Reese, Tony Taylor, and Red Schoendienst. Four are in Cooperstown; three are in the BBFHOF.

    Career win shares, SS: Tony Fernandez 280, Bert Campaneris 280, Joe Sewell 277, Lou Boudreau 273, CONCEPCION 269, Dave Bancroft 269, Vern Stephens 265, Jim Fregosi 261, Joe Tinker 258, Maury Wills 253, Dick Bartell 252. This is a gray area.

    Concepcion had a career year in 1981, a strike-shortened season. Adjusting for the lost games boosts his win share total in his best three years from 74 to 80, and his best five consecutive seasons from 111 to 118.

    Best three seasons, SS: Pee Wee Reese 85, Joe Sewell 84, Dave Bancroft 84, Ozzie Smith 83, CONCEPCION 80, Al Dark 78, Cecil Travis 78, Joe Tinker 78, Dick Groat 77, Bert Campaneris 77, Bobby Wallace 76, Art Fletcher 76. This is another gray area, but Concepcion gets a boost from timelining.

    Best five consecutive seasons, SS: Eddie Joost 126, Joe Sewell 125, Rico Petrocelli 125, Ozzie Smith 123, Phil Rizzuto 121, CONCEPCION 118, Joe Tinker 118, Tony Fernandez 118, Al Dark 118, Art Fletcher 116, Dave Bancroft 115, Dick Groat 112, Bobby Wallace 112. Again, timelining helps him some, but he’s still in the gray area.

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

    He has no black ink, and his gray ink total of 25 (879tth) is low even for a shortstop. He’s in 389tth place in HOF Standards, with a score of 25.9. However, he won five Gold Gloves, and earned five Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    Concepcion is in neither Cooperstown nor 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?

    Concepcion was an A+ defensive shortstop, and win shares may slightly underestimate top defensive players.

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

    No. I have Pearce, Long, Maranville, and Rizzuto rated higher among shortstops outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Concepcion was fourth in the 1981 NL MVP vote, and finished in the top ten twice. His 20 win shares in 1981 convert to 30 per 162 scheduled games, but that’s the only MVP-type season he had.

    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?

    He made nine All-Star games, which is good. However, he had only five seasons with 20+ win shares, which is a poor sign. He had 19 win shares in 1975 and 1977, but giving him the benefit of the doubt both years only gets him up to seven such seasons, and the boundary for the BBFHOF is somewhere around eight.

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

    No; Concepcion was simply too inconsistent.

    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?

    Not that I know of.

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

    In general, yes.

    CONCLUSION: There have been a lot major league shortstops with a profile similar to Concepcion’s. He does have the postseason play going for him, but, other than that, there’s not much that makes him stand out from similar players. Concepcion just doesn’t make my queue for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Dave Bancroft

    The Frisch-era Veteran's Committee is infamous for putting a lot of unqualified players into Cooperstown. The members enshrined so many undeserving honorees that the term "Frisch selection" has become nearly synonymous with mediocrity. This is unfair to the better players among these mistakes.

    Dave Bancroft wasn't worthy of Cooperstown. However, while creating this list, I realized that he was actually a very good player. In terms of value, he's fairly close to the likes of Maury Wills, Joe Tinker, and Dave Concepcion. He ought to be remembered as someone on that level. Unfortunately for his reputation, Frisch and friends put him in the Hall of Fame. This causes most of us to think he was much, much worse than those players. He wasn't nearly as bad as the two words "Frisch selection" suggest.

    Case to Consider: BANCROFT, Dave

    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?

    As far as I can tell, no.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He led the Phillies’ position players in win shares in 1918, the Giants’ position players in 1921 and 1922, and the Braves’ position players in 1925 and 1926.

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

    Bancroft led major league shortstops in win shares in 1920, 1921, and 1922; however, Chris Cobb’s Negro League projections indicate that Lloyd was better than Bancroft in 1920, and Moore was better than Bancroft in 1922. Bancroft led NL shortstops in win shares in 1923 and 1926, and was second among NL shortstops in 1915 and 1925.

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

    In 1915, when the Phillies won their first pennant, he had 21 win shares; there’s some impact there. Bancroft had 31 win shares in 1921, as the Giants won the pennant by 4 games; the margin of victory was almost equal to the difference between Bancroft’s play and that of a lower-level All-Star (20 win shares). The Giants won the pennant by 7 games in 1922, when Bancroft had 27 win shares.

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

    It’s debatable. Bancroft played in 149 games at the age of 37. However, that was the only season after age 31 when he played at least 130 games in a single season.

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

    No.

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

    According to similarity scores, the most comparable players to Bancroft are Steve Sax, Roger Peckinpaugh, Dick Groat, Jim Gilliam, Tony Taylor, Jack Glasscock, Bill Russell, Willie Randolph, Rick Ferrell, and Phil Rizzuto. Two of these players are in Cooperstown, but none are in the BBFHOF.

    Career win shares, SS: Bert Campaneris 280, Tony Fernandez 278, Lou Boudreau 277, Joe Sewell 277, Dave Concepcion 269, BANCROFT 269, Vern Stephens 265, Jim Fregosi 261, Joe Tinker 258, Maury Wills 253, Dick Bartell 252. This isn’t a good sign, since most players in this range have not been receiving BBFHOF votes.

    Due to a schedule adjustment for the 1918 and 1919 seasons, Bancroft’s peak five seasons are increased from 115 raw win shares to 119 adjusted.

    Peak 5 consecutive seasons, SS: Joe Sewell 125, Rico Petrocelli 125, Ozzie Smith 123, Phil Rizzuto 121, Julio Franco 121, BANCROFT 119, Tony Fernandez 118, Joe Tinker 118, Al Dark 118, Art Fletcher 116, Bobby Wallace 112, Dick Groat 112. This does not bode well for Bancroft, either.

    Best 3 seasons, SS: Alan Trammell 90, Jim Fregosi 89, Maury Wills 87, Johnny Pesky 87, Rico Petrocelli 87, Eddie Joost 87, Phil Rizzuto 86, Pee Wee Reese 85, Julio Franco 85, BANCROFT 84, Joe Sewell 84, Ozzie Smith 83, Al Dark 78, Cecil Travis 78, Joe Tinker 78. This is another gray area, with more people out of the BBFHOF than in it.


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

    His black ink total is 1. He’s in 412nd place in gray ink, with a score of 59; that’s good for a shortstop. They’re fairly low for shortstops. His HOF Standards total is 24.9, which puts him 433rd overall. Bancroft also won two Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    While Bancroft is in Cooperstown, he was a selection of the Frisch-era VC. He is not 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?

    He was captain of the Giants during their pennant-winning seasons of 1921, 1922, and 1923.

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

    He is not the best shortstop outside the BBFHOF; Pearce, Long, and Rizzuto are better.

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

    He finished sixth in the 1925 MVP voting, and ninth in 1926; however, there was no MVP voting for the first nine years of his career. Bancroft had only one season of 30 or more win shares.

    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?

    The All-Star game came after Bancroft’s career ended. He had nine seasons with 20+ win shares (after 1918’s schedule adjustment), which is a good sign, as the cutoff is around eight such seasons.

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

    From 1920 to 1922, probably. I have my doubts otherwise.

    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?

    In 1922, he set the single-season record for total chances by a shortstop.

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

    As far as I can tell, yes.

    CONCLUSION: Bancroft is remembered as one of Cooperstown’s mistakes. This causes people to underrate him. While making this list, I realized he’s not as bad as I thought. Bancroft was actually a pretty good player, and deserves to be remembered as such. Unfortunately, he’s not good enough to make my queue for the BBFHOF; he just doesn’t have enough going for him.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Rabbit Maranville

    I'm now turning my attention to shortstops over the next few days, as I consider some requests.

    My first list is for Rabbit Maranville. Ordinarally, someone with a peak as low as his would have a severe problem making my queue; I see a five-year total in the 110s as very low even for shortstops, second basemen, and third basemen. To make up for this, a player would either need several reasons why win shares underrate his peak value, or many other points in his favor.

    Bid McPhee (after schedule adjustments) is the first type of player. Win Shares doesn't give fielders of his era as much credit as they deserve when defensive win shares are split between fielding and pitching. Furthermore, for several of McPhee's teams, the caps Bill James put into his system held down the number of win shares the fielders received in this division. The caps come into effect only in extreme cases, but McPhee's teams apparently hit those extremes occasionally.

    Darrell Evans is the second type of player. While his five-year peak is low, he does much better for his three best seasons, and he also has a high number of seasons with win share totals in the high 20s. Evans also had bad luck in his poor seasons coming five years appart. Although he had 31 win shares in 1973, 28 in 1974, and 28 again in 1975, he had just 10 win shares in 1971, and only 9 in 1976. For most players, it wouldn't make a difference whether you used a five-year stretch or a four-year stretch. For Evans, it does.

    Maranville's closest comparison in the win shares categories is Bobby Wallace, and I didn't see Wallace as BBFHOF-worthy. There are two major differences between them that help Maranville. First, Maranville was in the military for most of 1918, and I think that military service lowered his peak win share measures a little. Wallace doesn't have this. Also, Maranville was an A+ shortstop, according to defensive win shares, while Wallace was just a B shortstop. Since the win shares system underrates top defensive players by a little, an adjustment for this helps Maranville, but not Wallace.

    I have two reasons for believing that the win shares system underrates Maranville's peak. Furthermore, Maranville did well in the 1913 and 1914 MVP votes; he finished 7th when the NL reinstituted the Award in 1924. They might have seen something that statistical analysis hasn't uncovered yet; analysis of fielding is not fully developed yet. Maranville and Wallace were close, but I think the line for the BBFHOF falls between them, with Maranville getting the edge.

    Case to Consider: MARANVILLE, Rabbit

    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?

    As far as I know, no.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He led his team’s position players in win shares just twice, in 1916 and 1917.

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

    He led all major league shortstops in win shares in 1914 and 1916, and was second among NL shortstops in 1921. However, during the 1910s, John Henry Lloyd was baseball’s top shortstop.

    Baseball Magazine named him their All-American shortstop in 1914 and 1916, and named him their All-NL shortstop in 1917 as well. (I don’t have their team lists for seasons after 1919.)

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

    Maranville earned 24 win shares in 1914, the season of the Miracle Braves. Although he earned 27 win shares in 1916, the Braves finished 4 games out of first. With the Pirates in 1921, he picked up 23 win shares, but his team still finished 4 games out.

    Maranville batted .308/.379/.346 in eight World Series games.

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

    Although he slid into the minors during his mid-30s, Maranville was able to return to the major leagues and play as a regular through the age of 41.

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

    There are many better players outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, Omar Vizquel, Nellie Fox, Bobby Wallace, Tommy Corcoran, Dave Concepcion, Bert Campaneris, Willie Randolph, and Bill Dahlen. We have four members of Cooperstown and five members of the BBFHOF here. On the other hand, only Corcoran has a career OPS+ lower than Maranville’s 82 (although Aparicio also has an OPS+ of 82).

    As Maranville missed most of 1918 because of World War I, I’m giving him 20+ win shares as compensation for military service in the career marks.

    Career WS, shortstops: Joe Cronin 333, Ozzie Smith 326, MARANVILLE 322+, Alan Trammell 318, Barry Larkin 314. Not only is Maranville in BBFHOF company here, he has more career win shares than any eligible shortstop outside the BBFHOF.

    Top three seasons, shortstops: Al Dark 78, Cecil Travis 78, Joe Tinker 78, Dick Groat 77, Bert Campaneris 77, Bobby Wallace 76, Tony Fernandez 74, Dave Concepcion 74, MARANVILLE 74, Jay Bell 74, Johnny Logan 74, Dick Bartell 73, Donie Bush 73, Billy Rogell 72, Ray Chapman 71, Travis Jackson 70, Garry Templeton 70. Except for Wallace, these are not BBFHOF members.

    Since Maranville missed most of 1918 due to War, I’m counting 1914-1917 and 1919 as his five best consecutive seasons. Maranville also gets a season length adjustment for 1919, bringing his total up to 113.

    Five best consecutive seasons, SS: Phil Rizzuto 121, Tony Fernandez 118, Al Dark 118, Joe Tinker 118, Art Fletcher 116, Dave Bancroft 115, MARANVILLE 113, Dick Groat 112, Bobby Wallace 112, Dave Concepcion 111, Cecil Travis 111, Johnny Logan 111, Bert Campaneris 109, Travis Jackson 109, Jay Bell 108, Dick Bartell 106, Billy Rogell 106, Donie Bush 106. Except for Wallace, this is not BBFHOF territory.

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

    Maranville has 2 Black Ink points, for 591st all-time. He’s 495th in Gray Ink, with 50 points, but that’s decent for a shortstop in Cooperstown. However, he’s just 352nd in his HOF Standards score, at 26.9. Maranville also won five Win Shares Gold Gloves at shortstop, and one at second base.

    Maranville is in Cooperstown, but he’s not 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?

    Maranville missed most of the 1918 season due to World War I. Also, Win Shares may underestimate the value of top defensive players.

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

    No. Among shortstops outside the BBFHOF, I would rate Dickey Pearce and Herman Long ahead of him. However, if you go purely by career value, Maranville would be the best MLB shortstop eligible.

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

    Maranville was 3rd in the 1913 NL MVP vote, and 2nd in 1914. The NL didn’t hold another MVP vote until 1924, when he finished 7th. Maranville finished among the top ten in MVP voting five times during his career, even though there was a nine-year stretch early in his career when the Award was not given. However, Maranville didn’t have a single season with 30+ win shares.

    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?

    Maranville’s career was ending just as the All-Star game was starting. He had seven seasons with 20+ win shares (counting 1919 after the schedule adjustment), and probably missed one more due to military service in 1918. Eight is the approximate borderline for the BBFHOF.

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

    I have my doubts, as Maranville only had one season with 25+ win shares. On the other hand, if win shares did understate his value to his teams, then “perhaps, during his peak,” might be a better answer.

    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?

    Maranville had 672 ABs and 747 PAs in 1922 without hitting a home run; both are major league records. He also has the career record for putouts by a shortstop, with 5139. Maranville is also remembered for his “vest pocket catch.”

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

    Maranville did have a problem with alcohol, but he did sober up as a result of being demoted to the minors in the middle of the 1920s. Maranville was also a practical joker; however, faking his own murder for laughs was carrying it a bit too far.

    CONCLUSION: Maranville comes out to a peak of 113 win shares during his five best consecutive seasons, and, even for people who play SS/2B/3B, that’s low. Ordinarily, that would be grounds for rejection. However, there are several reasons why this peak may be too low.

    First, Maranville missed most of 1918 due to military service. Although he was a very good batter for the 11 games that he appeared in, I doubt that he could have kept up a 133 OPS+ for an entire season. However, his best four years in OPS+ were 1916 (94), 1917 (110), 1919 (112), and 1920 (97). I think that playing all of 1918 would have given him a few extra win shares at his peak (again, after the schedule adjustment).

    Second, Win Shares could underrate the very greatest defensive players. While looking for information on Maranville, I came across a Maranville-Ozzie Smith comparison that linked to the following article:

    http://www.baseballgraphs.com/main/i...ng_win_shares/

    Chris Dial had looked at how Zone Ratings judged the latter half of Smith’s career. Dave Studeman compared Dial’s calculations to Win Shares, and determined that the win shares system underrated Smith by approximately one win share per eighty or ninety games.

    Maranville may not have been quite as good a fielder as Smith. However, according to win shares, Maranville was an A+ fielder at shortstop, and thus might be underrated a bit. (By contrast, Bobby Wallace, who is Maranville’s closest comp by win shares, was just a B fielder at short.)

    Taking these two factors into account, Maranville’s peak goes into the 120s, and I’m a bit more comfortable with that for SS/2B/3B, especially for players such as Maranville who had a lot of career value. Based on how well he performed in MVP voting, contemporary observers also thought that Maranville was something special; they might have seen something that didn’t show up in the raw statistics. I still have some misgivings, but Maranville just makes it onto by queue for the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-10-2008, 02:28 PM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Thurman Munson

    Someone requested a list for Munson. As Munson has picked up a couple of votes in this BBFHOF election, and a discussion thread has been posted for Munson today, I decided to pick him out of the backlog of requests for my next Keltner List.

    Since I have the BBFHOF in mind when I make these lists, I've compared Munson to current BBFHOF members. It is true that Munson is better than some of the catchers in Cooperstown. He's better than Ernie Lombardi and Rick Ferrell, but Lombardi and Ferrell are among Cooperstown's mistakes. Munson wasn't as good as Ted Simmons, a catcher who isn't in Cooperstown (and whose omission is another one of Cooperstown's errors).

    I believe that all off the catchers in the BBFHOF have been deserving of induction, and none of those catchers was worse than Munson. Munson isn't deserving of the BBFHOF, nor is he deserving of Cooperstown.

    Case to Consider: MUNSON, Thurman

    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?

    He was AL MVP in 1976, but that was just one season. Over a period of several seasons, no.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He was tied for most win shares on the New York Yankees in 1973, but that’s it.

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

    Munson led baseball’s catchers in win shares in 1976, and led AL catchers in 1970 and 1973. He was second among AL catchers in 1971, 1974, 1975, and 1977. However, the NL usually had more of the top catchers than the NL did; Munson was among the top four MLB catchers in win shares just four times.

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

    Not too much in the races themselves. He had 22 win shares in 1977, when the Yankees won the division by 2.5 games. In 1978, Munson just missed playing at an All-Star-type level, collecting 19 win shares. However, Munson batted .357/.378/.496 in the postseason, and hit .373/.417/.493 in three World Series, so he definitely had some impact in the postseason.

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

    We don’t know, as he died in a plane crash at age 32.

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

    No.

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

    By similarity scores: Carlos Baerga, Red Kress, Mark Loretta, Gil McDougald, Orlando Cabrera, Granny Hamner, Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Walker, Rich Aurilia, and Manny Sanguillen. None of these ten are in either Cooperstown or the BBFHOF, although only four are eligible for Cooperstown. Furthermore, of these ten, only Sanguillen was a catcher, and none had an OPS+ as high as Munson’s 116.

    Career WS, catchers: Darrell Porter 222, Ernie Lombardi 218, Bob Boone 210, Sherm Lollar 209, Roy Campanella 207, MUNSON 206, Rick Ferrell 206, Tim McCarver 204, Elston Howard 203, Jim Sundberg 200, Ray Schalk 191. With the exception of Campanella, who has Negro League credit, these are not BBFHOF members.

    Best three seasons, win shares: Roger Bresnahan 83, Gene Tenace 83, Darren Daulton 83, Gabby Hartnett 80, MUNSON 75, Mickey Tettleton 75, Bob O’Farrell 74, Darrell Porter 73, Lance Parrish 72, John Romano 71, Tom Haller 70. As far as post-1920 catchers go, this is not BBFHOF territory.

    Best five consecutive seasons: Elston Howard 119, Roger Bresnahan 116, Gabby Hartnett 114, MUNSON 111, Mickey Tettleton 111, Carlton Fisk 106, Tom Hallee 106, Manny Sanguillen 106, Lance Parrish 102, Darren Daulton 101. The two BBFHOF members here have over 100 more career win shares than Munson does.

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

    Munson has 0 black ink points, but that isn’t a problem for catchers. He’s 528th in gray ink, with a score of 46, but that isn’t too bad for catchers, either. However, his HOF Standards mark of 20.9, which is 585th all-time, is a problem. Munson also won three Gold Gloves, but earned just one Win Shares Gold Glove.

    Munson is not in Cooperstown, nor is he 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?

    Munson was the captain of a team that won three straight pennants and back-to-back World Series, so he could deserve credit for leadership.

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

    Among catchers outside the BBFHOF, Bresnahan and Trouppe were better than Munson.

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

    Munson won the 1976 AL MVP award, and was in the top ten three times in all. However, Munson never had a season with 30+ win shares.

    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?

    Munson was named to seven All-Star teams. However, he had just five seasons with 20+ win shares, although he earned 19 win shares in 1972, when a strike cut about a week off the schedule. Seven seems to be the cutoff for post-1920 BBFHOF catchers, so Munson is a little low.

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

    Given that his win share peaks were 26, 25, and 24, and they were spaced three years apart from each other, probably not.

    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?

    Not that I know of.

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

    Although he had public rivalries with Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk, Munson generally upheld the standards mentioned above.

    CONCLUSION: Someone with such a short career needs a higher peak. However, Munson’s peak isn’t typical of BBFHOF members. As win shares go, he’s an exact match in peak with Mickey Tettleton, and the difference in career value between the two comes to one All-Star-type season. I haven’t heard anyone argue that Tettleton would deserve membership in the Hall of Fame if he had compiled just one more All-Star-type season. That should tell you how I feel about Munson: He’s not BBFHOF material.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Charley Jones

    Here's another list for a Hall of Merit member and 19th-century outfielder who has picked up a few votes in BBFHOF voting: Charley Jones.

    As I note in my answer to the fifteenth question on the list, Jones was blacklisted in 1881 and 1882 after having been cut by Boston in September 1880 over a contract dispute. In 1878, 1879, 1883, and 1884 - the two full seasons Jones played on each side of the blacklisted time - Jones picked up the equivalent of 28, 35, 26, and 33 win shares per 140 scheduled games, respectively. His three win shares gold gloves came in 1878, 1879, and 1883. Those blacklisted years could very well have been the heart of Jones' peak. I wouldn't be that liberal with awarding him compensation, but giving him 25 WS per 140 scheduled games seems reasonable -- if you agree with compensating him for those years.

    On the other hand, Harry Stovey's win share totals from 1883 until 1889 give him 36, 27, 28, 24, 17, 28, and 28 win shares per 140 scheduled games. Jim O'Rourke had a dip between 1881 and 1883, with 23, 18, and 24 win shares per 140 scheduled games; otherwise, he was always at 26+ win shares per 140 scheduled games each year from 1876 to 1886. If Jones would have had such a dip in mid-peak, I would have a harder time arguing that he was Hall-worthy.

    I see Jones as superior to Stovey. However, I didn't have a copy of Win Shares when Stovey was elected. Now that I have season-by-season totals, I'm not so sure about Stovey, either, so his being in the BBFHOF doesn't help me too much with Jones.

    Charley Jones is near the borderline for the BBFHOF. However, I'm still not sure which side he belongs on.

    Case to Consider: JONES, Charley

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Jones led position players in win shares for Cincinnati (NL) in 1876, 1877, and 1878, Boston in 1879, and Cincinnati (AA) in 1883, 1884, and 1885.

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

    Jones led all major league OFs in win shares in 1879 and 1884, and was among the top three ML outfielders (and the top CF in the AA) in 1883. He was among the top six major league outfielders in win shares in 1877, 1878, and 1885. He was also fifth among AA outfielders in win shares in 1886.

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

    Jones’ teams never won the pennant. Cincinnati was 4 games out in 1878 (Jones had 12 WS, or 28 per 140 scheduled games). Boston was five back in 1879, but Jones had 21 WS, or 35 per 140 scheduled games. Jones was back again in 1883, when Cincinnati finished five back; he had 18 win shares, or 26 per 140 scheduled games. There was some impact, but not much.

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

    His last season as a regular was at age 37, so I would say yes here.

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

    I can’t make the claim that he’s the best baseball player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: Bug Holliday, Harry Rice, Freddy Leach, Billy Southworth, Socks Seybold, Charlie Hickman, Ival Goodman, Roy Johnson, Bake McBride, and Walt Wilmot. Nobody here was inducted to either Cooperstown or the BBFHOF as a player. On the other hand, of the ten players on this list, Piano Legs Hickman had the highest OPS+, at 132; Jones’ OPS+ of 150 was eighteen points higher than that. So this list is inconclusive.

    Jones had 238 adjusted career win shares; adding the blacklisted seasons to his total brings us up to 288+.

    Adjusted Career WS, 1800s LF: Harry Stovey 314, JONES 288+, Kip Selbach 233. If we expand this to CF and RF, we have also Mike Tiernan 278, Dummy Hoy 275, Pete Browning 266, Mike Griffin 266, Sam Thompson 261. This would put Jones at the 19th-century OF cutoff. Modern LF with totals around 292 include Joe Medwick 312, Brian Downing 298, Frank Howard 297, Joe Jackson 294, George J. Burns 290, Bob Johnson 287, Heinie Manush 285, Minnie Minoso 283 (MLB only), Jim Rice 282. We’re in the gray area here.

    Adjusted win shares, best three seasons, 1800s LF: Joe Kelley 103, Jim O’Rourke 100, JONES 97, Abner Dalrymple 96, Harry Stovey 93, Tip O’Neill 91. Moderns with around 97 win shares include Willie Stargell 100, Albert Belle 98, George J. Burns 97, Billy Williams 96, Jimmy Sheckard 96, Zack Wheat 95, Augie Galan 94, Goose Goslin 93, Bobby Veach 93, Roy White 92, Jim Rice 92, Lou Brock 91. Jones is in the gray area, but the timeline might hurt him here.

    I’m counting Jones’ best five consecutive seasons as 1879-80 and 1883-85, as he was blacklisted in 1881 and 1882. He might get another 4 or 5 adjusted win shares with credit for September 1880.

    Adjusted WS, best five consecutive seasons, 1800s LF: Jim O’Rourke 153, JONES 143, Tip O’Neill 139, Harry Stovey 132. Comparable moderns include Willie Stargell 148, Jesse Burkett 147, Goose Goslin 147, Billy Williams 142, Albert Belle 140, Roy White 140, George J. Burns 138, Bobby Veach 137. Jones is in the gray area here.

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

    Jones is 107th in black ink, with 20 points. He’s also 69th in gray ink, with a score of 162; 18 of those points are from second-place finishes in a one-league era. He’s just 886tth in HOF Standards, with a score of 16.0, but the short seasons and the missing blacklist years hurt him there. Jones also earned three Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    Jones is not in Cooperstown. While he is in the Hall of Merit, he didn’t get in until the 2003 election.

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

    There are several factors which may cause Jones to be underrated:

    *Jones was blacklisted for two years, so we don’t know what he would have done in 1881 or 1882. However, he was one of the top baseball players in America during those two seasons.

    *Jones was captain of the Keokuk Westerns in 1874, the year before they joined the NA. After the Westerns folded in 1875, Jones was captain of the Ludlow (KY) team, which did have a reputation in the Midwest. I’m not sure how much credit Jones deserves for those years, however.

    *In 1876, Jones’ Cincinnati team went 9-56, and the win shares system breaks down for a team that bad. Jones, who played 64 games and had a OPS+ of 154, finished with just 9 win shares. A comparable player on other teams would have earned at least several more win shares – and, after I make the schedule adjustment, win shares from a season with a 70-game schedule are doubled.

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

    Keller, Sheckard, and Burns are better LFs outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Jones had two seasons with 30+ win shares per 140 scheduled games. He may have lost another such season to being blacklisted.

    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?

    Jones had seven seasons with 20+ win shares per 140 games; but eight All-Star-type seasons is the approximate cutoff. However, as noted above, the win shares values for Cincinnati in 1876 are highly skewed – Cincinnati wasn’t even up to being a replacement-level team - and Jones deserves credit for an All-Star-type season there. He also probably lost two more All-Star-type seasons to the blacklist.

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

    With the way Jones played from 1878 to 1885, it would be likely that the typical team that had someone like Jones as its best player would be in the thick of the pennant race most years.

    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?

    Jones was the first player to hit two home runs in a single inning.

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

    Jones is best known for being blacklisted. On September 2, 1880, Jones demanded his pay for the full month of August, as his contract said that the August salary was technically due on August 31. However, Boston was on a road trip, and the practice at the time was to advance small payments on the road, and pay the balance only when the team returned home. After Boston refused to pay him the full amount, Jones refused to play the next day. Boston then released Jones, and he was expelled from the league. In 1882, Jones was signed by the Cincinnati AA team, but the AA decided to honor the blacklist, and Jones did not play in the AA until 1883.

    Jones had been in trouble before. In 1877, he left the Cincinnati NL team for Chicago, as he thought his original team was about to declare bankruptcy and fold. He was soon ordered back to Cincinnati. Jones also had a reputation for drinking, and there were suggestions that Jones had been blacklisted for insubordination.

    CONCLUSION: Without credit for those two blacklisted seasons, Jones doesn’t make it. However, technically, Boston broke the contract first. Since I am giving Jones credit for 1881 and 1882, I see him as the best outfielder of the 1800s outside the BBFHOF.

    If Jones’ record belonged to someone who lost time due to war, I would give that player the benefit of the doubt. However, Jones’ behavior in 1880 may have been a ploy for Boston to release him. While two years of being blacklisted does seem excessive, I can’t convince myself that Jones isn’t entirely blameless, and thus I can’t give him any credit for missing September 1880.

    There’s the further twist: How good was Jones in 1874 and 1875? I don’t know. He may have been good enough for those years to boost him onto my queue even if I didn’t give him blacklist credit, but I doubt it.

    I just can’t make up my mind. Sometimes I think yes; sometimes, no. I’ll just say he’s on the fence for now.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    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.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-01-2008, 08:51 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Ken Singleton

    It took me a while to get around to doing this list for Ken Singleton. Fortunately, I will have very few pressing matters this weekend, so I plan on creating a few more Keltner Lists by then.

    Singleton is the only position player outside the BBFHOF with 300+ career win shares, 100+ win shares in his best three seasons, and 150+ win shares in his five best consecutive seasons. Unfortunately, he is the worst position player in the group, and he just makes it over those cutoffs in those three categories. As Frank Howard misses out on those cutoffs by just three career win shares, the we-can-make-a-group argument fails here.

    There are some other interesting things about Singleton's overall profile. I like a couple of seasons with 30+ wins, and Singleton has those. However, I can see a player as worthy of the BBFHOF without such seasons if they have a lot of seasons with at least 26 or 27 win shares (George Van Haltren and Richie Ashburn are examples). In addition to those three MVP-type-seasons, Singleton had three more seasons with 27 to 29 win shares. With six seasons of 27+ win shares in an eight-year period, Singleton had a lengthy period of time where, if he were the best player on a team, that team could be in the pennant race year-in and year-out. That's better than a period of just four or five years, which puts Singleton at an advantage over most other players at this point in the BBFHOF voting process.

    Singleton's ink scores are low, I admit. However, the ink scores are based, in part, on what previous voters for Cooperstown have done. A player gets four points for batting average, and three points for total hits. However, no points are given for OBP and times on base, which, according to sabermetrics, are more important.

    Singleton had two seasons among the top ten in his league in BA, and just one season among the top ten in hits. However, he was among the top ten in OBP in nine different seasons, and among the top ten in times on base seven different times. A player gets two gray ink points for each time in the top ten in walks, but that's it. The ink tests will overrate a player with high BA and few walks, and underrate a player with a high OBP and a relatively low batting average. Singleton suffers from this weakness in the ink tests. That's one reason why I limit the ink tests and HOF Standards score to one answer out of fifteen; they are helpful, but they do have their limitations.

    In the end, I decided that Singleton is worthy of the BBFHOF. He merits it on his performance, and the limited acclaim he had during his career can be linked to his being a generalist, not a specialist, and to the fact that the sabermetric revolution was still in the future during his day. With more GMs aware of the importance of OBP, Singleton would be rated more highly today. I can't blame him for the fact the criteria people in the 1970s used to rate players were flawed in a way that lowered their judgment of him.

    Case to Consider: SINGLETON, Ken

    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?

    I doubt it.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He led Montreal position players in win shares in 1972 and 1973, and Baltimore position players in 1975, 1977, 1978, and 1979.

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

    Singleton led all MLB outfielders in win shares in 1975 and 1977. He led AL right fielders in win shares in 1978 and 1979, and was second best at his position in his league in 1973 (NL right fielders), 1976 (AL left fielders), and 1980 (AL right fielders).

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

    During his prime, Baltimore’s closest pennant races were in 1977, when they finished 2.5 games out despite Singleton’s 36 win shares, and in 1980, when they lost by three games and he earned 27 win shares. However, Singleton batted .300/.436/.509 from September 1 onward in 1977, and .373/.459/.595 from September 1 onward in 1980.

    Singleton also performed well in the 1979 ALCS and World Series. While the Orioles won the division by eight games, Singleton had 32 win shares, so he provided an impact; the difference between his performance and a 20-win share season accounted for half of the Oriole’s margin of victory.

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

    Yes; he lasted until age 37.

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

    I wouldn’t go that far, but you could make a case for Singleton being the best player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: Dusty Baker, Gary Matthews, George Hendrick, Bobby Murcer, George Scott, Jeff Conine, Ron Fairly, Wally Joyner, Cy Williams, and Felipe Alou. Neither Cooperstown nor the BBFHOF has any of these players. On the other hand, of the ten players in the list, Cy Williams has the highest OPS+, at 125. Ken Singleton’s OPS+ was 132, so he was arguably better than anyone on his similarity scores list.

    Career win shares, RF: Dave Parker 327, Sam Rice 327, Reggie Smith 325, Harry Hooper 321, Jack Clark 316, Harold Baines 306, Bobby Bonds 302, SINGLETON 302, Kiki Cuyler 292, Elmer Flick 291, Fielder Jones 290. This is a mixture of BBFHOF members, BBFHOF vote-getters, and people who aren’t on any BBFHOF ballots.

    Top three seasons, RF: Reggie Jackson 105, Sam Crawford 104, Tony Gwynn 104, Pete Rose 103, Paul Waner 102, SINGLETON 101, Dave Parker 101, Bobby Murcer 101, Elmer Flick 100, Harry Heilmann 97, Pedro Guerrero 97, Jose Canseco 96. Singleton is tied for the lead here among RFs outside the BBFHOF.

    Top five consecutive seasons, RF: Pete Rose 160, Sam Crawford 159, Paul Waner 154, Harry Heilmann 154, SINGLETON 153, Elmer Flick 152, Dave Parker 150, Bobby Bonds 149, Reggie Jackson 148, Roberto Clemente 146, Bobby Murcer 146, Rusty Staub 145. Singleton has the lead among RFs outside the BBFHOF in this category.

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

    Singleton’s Black Ink score is a mere 1. He’s 350th in Gray Ink at 69, and that’s not good, either. His HOF Standards score is only 30.1, which puts him at number 263 all-time.

    Singleton is in neither Cooperstown nor the BBFHOF.

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

    Baltimore played in one of the more extreme pitcher’s parks in the AL. When you combine this with the 12- or 14-team AL that he played in, you get lower ink scores.

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

    I would rate Bobby Bonds a bit higher because he had more MVP-type and All-Star-type seasons, but Singleton is close. If you go just by the peak win shares measures, Singleton is the best ML RF outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Singleton was second in the 1979 AL MVP vote, and third in 1977. He also had two more top ten finishes in the voting. Singleton had three seasons with 30+ win shares, which is a good sign; he also led AL position players in win shares in 1975, and was second in 1977.

    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?

    Singleton played in 3 All-Star games, and that is very low. However, he had eight seasons with 20+ win shares (after adjusting 1981 for season length), and that is generally the de facto lower limit for the BBFHOF.

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

    During his best eight-year run (1973-80), yes. While Baltimore may have won just one division title between 1975 and 1980, they did have five seasons with 90+ wins, and three with 97+ wins.

    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?

    Singleton holds the record for hits in consecutive at bats, with 10.

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

    Singleton won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1982.

    CONCLUSION: Singleton’s peak is BBFHOF-worthy, and his three win share totals put him close to Dave Parker and Elmer Flick, who are both in the BBFHOF. On the other hand, despite the two top-three finishes in MVP voting, he didn’t get a lot of recognition from his peers. I wonder how much of this lack stems from his retiring just as the sabermetric revolution was starting to get underway; Earl Weaver thought extremely highly of Singleton, and Weaver was a Moneyball-type manager decades before Moneyball was written.

    Singleton performed well in the thick of the pennant races. He had six seasons with 27+ win shares during an eight-year span, which is a very good sign when we use question 13 to compare him to other players at this ballot level. He was regularly among the top two players in his league at his position – during the two-division era.

    If you ignore question eight, Singleton’s performance is worthy of the BBFHOF. The ink scores and the HOF Standards tests were based on what had gotten players into Cooperstown, and they have some other problems as well, so, in my evaluations, poor totals there aren’t enough to sink a player’s chances by themselves. I see Singleton as worthy of the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 03-27-2008, 11:01 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Tony Oliva

    There's a large backlog of requests that I have to fill, and this was the first one in the backlog.

    Oliva's weak in the sabermetric measures I like to use, but he is strong in the recognition he received and in his ink scores. However, I wonder how much of this strength is due to the fact that he played in the American League. I'm not claiming that he would have been a worse player in the NL. However, the NL had more of the top players than the AL did.

    Here are the starting outfielders from the NL All-Star team in 1965:

    Willie Mays
    Hank Aaron
    Willie Stargell

    Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams, and Johnny Callison were reserves.

    Now here are the AL's starting outfielders from 1965:
    Rocky Colavito
    Willie Horton
    Vic Davalillo

    That's a huge difference in the competition Oliva faced for All-Star teams, MVP votes, and ink marks. (1964 was another odd year; while Oliva led AL right fielders in win shares, he was just fifth among major league RFs in that category.) The difference between the AL's best and the NL's best wasn't always as extreme as it was in 1965, but it was enough to help Oliva in some of the more traditional categories used to evaluate whether players are worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    Oliva doesn't make it on sabermetric measures alone, and the evaluations of contemporary observers are weakened some by the difference in talent at the very top of the two leagues. He doesn't make my queue for the BBFHOF.

    Case to Consider: OLIVA, Tony

    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?

    Not over a multi-year period.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He led the Twins’ position players in win shares in 1964 and 1965, and tied Killebrew for the lead in 1970.

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

    According to win shares, he was the top RF in the American League in 1964, 1965, and 1970. In 1965, he led all MLB right fielders in win shares, and was tied for third among MLB outfielders in 1970. He was among the top five outfielders in the AL in 1966 and 1967.

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

    He was a star when the Twins won the pennant in 1965 and their division in 1969 and 1970, but the Twins won by at least 7 games each of those three times.

    During the 1967 pennant race, he went .329/.390/.528 against Boston, Chicago, and Detroit, but Minnesota finished 1 game back. In Oliva’s three postseasons, although the Twins lost each time, he batted .314/.340/.588.

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

    He played three full seasons as DH after his knee injury in 1972; his last season as a regular fielder, however, was at age 32.

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

    No.

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

    By similarity scores, the most comparable players are Carl Furillo, Gus Bell, Bob Watson, Andy Pafko, Pedro Guerrero, George Bell, Rico Carty, Dante Bichette, George Kelly, and Bill White. Only Kelly is in Cooperstown, and he is widely considered one of the Veterans’ Committee’s biggest mistakes. None are in the BBFHOF.

    By career WS, the most similar RFs are: Ken Griffey Sr. 259, Pedro Guerrero 246, OLIVA 245, Johnny Callison 241, Felip Alou 241, Wildfire Schulte 239, Chuck Klein 238, George Hendrick 237, Wally Moses 237, and Babe Herman 232. Oliva’s company is not BBFHOF-caliber.

    By peak 3 seasons, the most similar RFs are: Enos Slaughter 95, Roberto Clemente 94, Bobby Bonds 94, Rocky Colavito 94, Jack Clark 94, Al Kaline 92, Dave Winfield 92, Roger Maris 92, Gavy Gravath 92, OLIVA 91, Rusty Staub 90, Johnny Callison 89, Kiki Cuyler 89, Chick Klein 89, Ross Youngs 89, Fielder Jones 88, and Dixie Walker 88. Oliva falls just below the borderline for the BBFHOF.

    By his best five consecutive seasons, the most similar RFs are: Tony Gwynn 136, Johnny Callison 136, Fielder Jones 135, Roger Maris 135, OLIVA 134, Pedro Guerrero 134, Rocky Colavito 133, Dixie Walker 133, Dave Winfield 132, Ross Youngs 132, Andre Dawson 132, Babe Herman 131, Al Kaline 130, Reggie Smith 129. Oliva’s in better shape here, but the BBFHOF members in this area all had much longer careers than he did.

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

    His black ink score is 41, good for 35th all-time. His gray ink score is 146, good for 96th all-time. Those are both positives. However, his HOF Standards score is just 29.0, putting him 288th overall. Also, Oliva won a Gold Glove in 1966, and earned one Win Shares Gold Glove in his career.

    Oliva is in neither Cooperstown nor 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?

    The late 1960s were not a hitter’s paradise, especially in the American League. Metropolitan Stadium did favor batters a bit, though.

    There are also some trouble with ink marks, as the top players in the NL during the 1960s were generally stronger than the top players in the AL. In 1964, Oliva’s 27 win shares were enough to lead right fielders in the AL, but there were four RFs in the National League that season with higher totals. In 1967, he was fifth among AL outfielders in win shares, but his total of 25 would have been only tenth among NL outfielders that year.

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

    No. I would prefer Bobby Bonds or Dwight Evans among right 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?

    Oliva finished second in the MVP vote twice, fourth once, and sixth once. He had more win shares than any other AL position player in 1965, and was named TSN AL Player of the Year twice (1965, 1971). However, he had just two seasons with 30 or more win shares.

    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?

    Oliva was named to eight All-Star teams. He was an All-Star every season from his 1964 rookie year until 1971, the year his knee went. He also had eight seasons with 20+ win shares, which is the approximate borderline for honors.

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

    During his peak years in the mid-1960s, 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?

    Not that I know of.

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

    As far as I know.

    CONCLUSION: Oliva’s five-year peak is borderline by win shares standards, but those players with similar peaks had much longer careers than he did. While Oliva did well in All-Star and MVP voting, the level of competition in the American League helped; had he faced the stiffer competition at the top of the National League, those honors wouldn’t have come as often as they actually did.

    To a large part, Oliva’s case depends on ink and peer recognition, since he falls short in the sabermetric criteria I use. Had Oliva’s numbers been borderline, the ink and honors could have pushed him in. But Oliva is too far away for the recognition to help. He’s not making my queue for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Quincy Trouppe

    Here's the long-delayed Keltner List for Quincy Trouppe.

    While replying to the comments thread for these lists, I realized that seven All-Star-Type seasons (20+ win shares) was the general cut-off area for post-1925 catchers and the BBFHOF; for the other field positions, eight was the general cut-off. Hartnett, who is a consensus member of the BBFHOF, has seven such seasons. Ivan Rodriguez, who most people here would consider worthy of Cooperstown, has also recorded seven such seasons. Since catching, more than playing any other of the eight "everyday" positions, makes high demands on the human body, and since there seems to be a limit on how often a human can catch, putting the cutoff a little lower here makes sense.

    For this reason, the de facto cutoffs that the BBFHOF has established for win shares are lower at catcher than at the other positions. Again, since there are physical limits to how often a human being can catch, I don't have a problem with this. Since Trouppe has reached these standards, he belongs in the BBFHOF.

    Case to Consider: TROUPPE, Quincy

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Between late 1944 and 1947, Trouppe was considered the star of the Cleveland Buckeyes. While the team was mediocre in 1946, it did win the pennant in 1945 and 1947.

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

    Trouppe’s MLEs project him with as many or more win shares than the top MLB catchers in 1939, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, and 1948, and more win shares than the top AL catcher in 1940 and 1943.

    However, only in 1947 and 1948 was Trouppe the best catcher in baseball. Until 1946, Josh Gibson was far and away the best catcher in the game, and Trouppe would have looked poor by comparison. (Next to Gibson’s MLEs, all other catchers look poor by comparison.)

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

    Cleveland won the NAL pennants in 1945 and 1947. In the 1945 Negro World Series, Trouppe batted over .400 as the Buckeyes swept the favored Homestead Grays.

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

    Trouppe had an All-Star-type season in 1948, at the age of 35, and caught for a few years more. Due to the color line, he didn’t appear in the major leagues until 1952, when he played in six games at age 39. I have to answer yes here.

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

    I doubt that Trouppe is the best player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Baseballthinkfactory’s MLEs credit Trouppe with 260+ career win shares and 113 in his best five consecutive seasons. They credit him with 84 win shares in his best three seasons. Dr. Chaleeko knocked down the figures for 1938 and 1946 on the grounds that Trouppe wouldn’t have caught as much in the major leagues as a linear translation would indicate. Since his five-year peak lasted from 1939 to 1943, the adjustments don’t affect that mark.

    The adjustments would lower Trouppe’s best three seasons from 84 to 79, however. On the other hand, in 1946, Trouppe was playing in Negro League games, and they counted in the standings for his team. Furthermore, the BTF people admit that their MLEs, while good for career value and five-year consecutive peaks, do understate the value of a player’s best three seasons, as they flatten out the peaks and valleys in individual seasons. For this reasons, I’ll use the unadjusted 84 figure here.

    Comparable career win shares, C: Mickey Cochrane 275, Bill Freehan 267, TROUPPE 260+, Lance Parrish 248, and Wally Schang 245. From 1933 to 1936, Trouppe played for a very good Bismarck team that held its own against established Black Baseball clubs. Due to a lack of data, there are no MLEs for those seasons, and credit for them would certainly push Trouppe above 275. Since every eligible MLB catcher with 267+ career win shares is in the BBFHOF, Trouppe exceeds the cutoff mark here.

    Best three seasons: Bill Dickey 87, Ted Simmons 86, TROUPPE 84, Roger Bresnahan 83, Gene Tenace 83, Darren Daulton 83, Gabby Hartnett 80. Trouppe is in the gray area.

    Best five consecutive seasons: Elston Howard 119, Roger Bresnahan 116, Gabby Hartnett 114, QUINCY TROUPPE 113, Mickey Tettleton 111, Thurman Munson 111, Carlton Fisk 106. Again, Trouppe lands in the gray area.

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

    The ink and HOF Standards tests aren’t applicable here. While Trouppe 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?

    Between 1933 and 1936, Trouppe was playing high-level ball with an independent Bismarck team, but statistics from that period are limited.

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

    I believe that Trouppe is the best eligible catcher outside the BBFHOF. He has the lead in career value, and is in the gray area in the peak measures.

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

    Before the playing time adjustment was made, Trouppe was credited with 31 win shares in 1946. That would have been Trouppe’s only season with 30+ win shares, according to the MLEs.

    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?

    Trouppe was named to five teams for the East-West game, and probably would have been on several more had it not been for all his years in Mexico. Trouppe has seven seasons that come out to 20+ win shares, and that is the lower limit for post-1920 catchers. He might have had another one or two with Bismarck, but we don’t have data for those years.

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

    At his best, 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?

    Not that I know of.

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

    As far as I can tell, yes.

    CONCLUSION: Trouppe really did come along twenty years too soon. The fact that he played for so many teams, all for short periods of time, kept him from being associated with any one club, and that hurt him when Negro League players were finally recognized. It didn’t help that several of those teams were outside the organized Negro Leagues (Bismarck, the Mexican League teams). Also, Josh Gibson was, by far, the best catcher in baseball during Trouppe’s peak.

    However, the statistical analysis at baseballthinkfactory has cleared away a lot of the screens standing between us and Trouppe. Trouppe’s peak puts him in the gray area for the BBFHOF, and his total career value puts him in the “admit-me” realm. He also had seven documented seasons with 20+ win shares, which seems to be the real cut-off line for catchers (Hartnett had seven such seasons, and, as of February 2008, Ivan Rodriguez also has seven). Trouppe’s record as a catcher makes him deserving of the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-20-2008, 09:06 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Ernie Lombardi

    Continuing with the catchers, we move on to Ernie Lombardi.

    Superficially, one might look at Lombardi's career OPS+ of 125 and his being named to eight All-Star teams, and conclude that Lombardi deserved membership in the Hall of Fame. However, there are weaknesses with both parts of the claim.

    Lombardi's OPS+ is impressive for a catcher. With the exception of Piazza, whose OPS+ is higher, the best catchers in major league history have had OPS+ marks in the 120-130 range. However, those best catchers have generally been impressive defensively. Lombardi, on the other hand, was not a great defensive catcher; he's more in the Piazza range on defense. Additionally, Lombardi's appearances in the field were limited, and this in turn limited his time at the plate. He had 500 PAs in just a single one of his many seasons in the big leagues. OPS+ does not reflect defensive play or playing time, and both are drawbacks for Lombardi.

    As for the All-Star appearances? Well, Lombardi was among the top two catchers in the NL in win shares six times. However, an All-Star team needs at least two catchers, and someone has to be among the top two catchers in the league each year. Lombardi had just one "All-Star-type" season; that is, he had just one season with at least 20 win shares. All those All-Star appearances reflect a dearth of good catchers as much as they reflect Lombardi's ability.

    I've explained in several other places why I don't like to begin with OPS+ when evaluating players for the BBFHOF. Remove OPS+ and All-Star appearances from consideration, and I don't see much of a case for Lombardi.

    Case to Consider: LOMBARDI, Ernie

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    1935 was the only time Lombardi led his team’s position players in win shares.

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

    Lombardi led major league catchers in win shares in 1942 and 1945, but the totals were among the worst for MLB leaders at a position – 18 in 1945, and just 16 in 1942. He led NL catchers in win shares in 1938 with 24. He was also the second-best pitcher in the NL in win shares in 1936, 1939, and 1940, but never reached 20 win shares in any of those three seasons.

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

    Not that much. Cincinnati won the pennant by 12 games in 1940, so no one player had much of an impact. They won by just 4.5 games the previous year, in 1939, but Lombardi finished with just 17 win shares that season.

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

    More or less, although World War II might have extended his career by a few years.

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

    He is not the best player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: Travis Jackson, Walker Cooper, Bill Dickey, Carlos Baerga, Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago, Elston Howard, and Bill Freehan. We have two members of the BBFHOF, and two members of Cooperstown here. However, Lombardi’s OPS+ of 125 is exceeded only by Dickey’s 127.

    Career Win Shares, C: Roger Bresnahan 231, Gene Tenace 231, Darrell Porter 222, LOMBARDI 218, Bob Boone 210, Sherm Lollar 209, Roy Campanella 207, Thurman Munson 206, Rick Ferrell 206, Tim McCarver 204, Elston Howard 203. With the exception of Campanella, these aren’t BBHFOF members, and Campanella’s career total was lowered by the color line.

    Best three seasons, catchers: Jim Sundberg 63, Ray Schalk 63, Johnny Kling 63, Mike Scioscia 62, Walker Cooper 60, John Roseboro 60, LOMBARDI 59, Tony Pena 59, Wally Schang 59, Ed Bailey 57, Johnny Bassler 55, Bob Boone 55. I don’t see anybody in the BBFHOF here.

    Best five consecutive seasons, catchers: Muddy Ruel 96, Del Crandall 93, Terry Kennedy 92, Bob O’Farrell 90, LOMBARDI 89, John Roseboro 85, Rick Ferrell 85, Tony Pena 84, Ray Schalk 84, Walker Cooper 82. Again, we don’t have BBFHOF members in this area.

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

    Lombardi’s black ink total of 8 (271st) and gray ink score of 83 (278th) are actually good for catchers. He’s just at 232nd in HOF Standards, with a score of 31.9, however. Furthermore, Lombardi won no Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    Lombardi is in Cooperstown, but not 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?

    While Lombardi was a catcher, he was a terrible defensive one; he earns a grade of D+ in James’ Win Shares book. Also, Lombardi had very high GIDP totals; had they been recorded during the first two years of his career, he may very well have finished among the top ten in career totals there. This is despite the fact that he had over 500 PAs in only one of his major league seasons.

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

    Among catchers outside the BBFHOF, Bresnahan is better.

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

    Lombardi was NL MVP in 1938, but had just one other top ten finish, which was ninth in 1940. However, Lombardi never had a season with 30+ win shares. He never came close to having such a season; his peak was 24 in 1938.

    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?

    Lombardi was named to eight All-Star teams, which is a good sign for a position player. However, he had just one season with 20+ win shares, and that is a very bad sign for the BBFHOF.

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

    With just one season of 20 or more win shares, there’s no way it would be likely.

    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?

    Lombardi is widely regarded as having been the slowest player in the history of Major League Baseball.

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

    In general, yes.

    CONCLUSION: If you go by OPS+ alone, his 125 puts Lombardi in Hall of Fame company. However, most of those other high-OPS+ catchers were also great defensive catchers; Lombardi, on the other hand, was terrible defensively. Lombardi also suffers from a relative lack of playing time, as reflected in games in the field and in PAs by season. Defensive play and quantity of playing time are not reflected by OPS+, and, when you compare Lombardi to other top-notch catchers, OPS+ ignores Lombardi’s major flaws.

    Win Shares does reflect the facets of the game that OPS+ ignores. Going by win shares, I just don’t see any case for Lombardi. He’s not worthy of the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Cal McVey

    There were a few more requests over the past week, so I'll be posting a few more lists over this weekend. The first three are for a trio of catchers (McVey, Lombardi, and Trouppe). I haven't started the Keltner Lists for the last two, but I have produced one for McVey.

    While McVey is listed as a catcher, it is hard to pin him down to a specific position. From 1871 to 1879, he played four seasons at catcher, three at first base, and one each at third base and right field. He was an outfielder during his two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds in 1869 and 1870, which makes positional comparisons even more problematic.

    To complicate matters even further, McVey had significant pitching time in 1876 and 1877. It wasn't enough to make him the regular pitcher, but it did boost his win share totals those years, and my usual linear adjustment to 140-game schedules during the 1870s would thus overstate his value as a position player only.

    Also, McVey left the major leagues after the 1879 season because of disagreement with the new reserve system, and started to play in California. Since some California teams were trying to set themselves up as equal in caliber to the NL (as the IA did in 1877 and 1878), and McVey's team was the best in the area in 1880, McVey deserves some credit for that year. However, since we don't have any indication that he played pro ball between 1881 and 1884, I can't give him credit for any seasons after 1880.

    McVey does appear in the Texas League during its inaugural 1888 season, and played there through 1890, but the TL was at too low a level during the late 1880s for McVey to get any credit there.

    Baseball was organized enough by the 1870s so that I can consider a player with a high peak and short career as worthy of the BBFHOF. That player happens to be Ross Barnes, who I see as being the best position player in baseball three times during a five-year span. For a player with such a short career during that point in baseball's development, McVey doesn't have a high enough peak to make my queue for the BBFHOF.

    Case to Consider: McVEY, Cal

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    According to win shares, McVey was the best position player for Chicago in 1877, and was the second best position player on his team in 1876 and 1878.

    One could argue that McVey was the best position player for Boston in 1875. He led the team in OPS+, but Deacon White and Ross Barnes might move ahead of him once one considers defense. WARP ranks McVey second on the team in 1875.

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

    One could argue that McVey was baseball’s best catcher in 1871, its best 1B in 1874, and best RF in 1875; James did not compute win shares data for the NA. According to the win shares method, McVey led NL first basemen in win shares in 1876 and 1879, catchers in 1877, and third basemen in 1878.

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

    No single Chicago player had a large impact on the 1876 pennant race, as the margin of victory was large compared to the length of the season. Again, Boston won the NA by large margins in 1872, 1874, and 1875, so McVey didn’t have a huge impact then, either. McVey had 11 raw win shares in 1878 (26 per 154 scheduled games), but Cincinnati finished 4 games back in a 60-game schedule.

    In 1880, McVey’s Bay City Athletics defeated the NL champion Chicago White Stockings in a postseason exhibition. However, we don’t have McVey’s statistics from that series.

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

    McVey left the NL after the 1879 season due to a dispute over the reserve club, and began to play in California. He played with the Bay City Athletics in 1880, but the next reference to him is with the San Francisco Pioneers in 1885.

    The official Texas League website states that McVey played for New Orleans in 1888, the TL’s first season, and joined Fort Worth for the 1889 and 1890 seasons.

    Since McVey seems to have played just one season at a relatively high level after the age of 30, I have to say no.

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

    I don’t see McVey as the best baseball player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: Ross Barnes, Bill Keister, Johnny Hodapp, Lip Pike, George Wright, Sammy Hale, Levi Meyerle, Bubbles Hargrave, Mike Grady, and Lew Fonseca. McVey’s OPS+ of 155 trails those of Barnes, Pike, and Meyerle. The fourth best OPS+ on the list belongs to Wright, at 125. However, as this list omits pre-1871 seasons, it has the effect of depressing Wright’s batting ability.

    As a rule, I convert raw WS totals to 140-game schedules (pre-1890) and 154-game schedules (1890 and later) when comparing 19th-century players to each other. McVey played just four years in the NL, and spent no more than two years at any one position, so this makes comparisons difficult. He earned 113 adjusted win shares in those four seasons, with 91 adjusted win shares in the best three seasons among them. As McVey played just a partial season in 1873, the best we can do with his five best consecutive years would be 1874-78.

    This would give McVey a peak in the mid-90s with his three best seasons and the in mid-140s for his best five consecutive seasons. (However, McVey’s pitching appearances in 1876 and 1877 would skew the adjustments upward.) I’ll compare him to 1B, 3B, and OF, since McVey was a catcher in just one season after 1873.

    Comparable 19th-century players, best three years: Jim O’Rourke 100, King Kelly 100, Pete Browning 98, Charley Jones 97, Abner Dalrymple 96, Willie Keeler 95, Harry Stovey 93, John McGraw 93, Ezra Sutton 93, Tip O’Neill 91, and Sam Thompson 128. This is a mixed bag.

    Comparable 1800s players, best five consecutive years: George Gore 146, Willie Keeler 145, Cap Anson 145, Pete Browning 143, Charley Jones 143, King Kelly 142, Tip O’Neill 139. Again, this is a mixed area.

    However, giving McVey credit for his NA play and his first year in California, his adjusted career win share totals would be in the mid-200s. Among the players with McVey-like peaks, the players with comparable career totals would thus be Charley Jones (242 without credit for blackballed seasons), Tip O’Neill (224), and Pete Browning (266). These three players are in neither the BBFHOF nor Cooperstown. Jones is in the Hall of Merit, but he was a late inductee, and some voters gave him credit for the years he was blackballed.

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

    McVey’s Black Ink mark of 22 (92nd all-time) and Gray Ink mark of 136 (121st) are both good. His HOF Standards total of 24.0 is a very low 451st, but the short seasons didn’t help. McVey earned no Win Shares Gold Gloves during his NL years.

    McVey is not in Cooperstown, but 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?

    McVey played two seasons with Cincinnati in 1869 and 1870, and those years aren’t included in the record. The 1880 Bay City Athletics seems to have been a major-league level team, and his record isn’t available in standard reference works, either.

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

    It’s hard to pin McVey down at a specific position. He was the top catcher on his team in 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1877, but was moved to other positions when he had Deacon White as a teammate, as White beat him out for catcher honors. Thus, it becomes difficult to argue that McVey is the best catcher outside the BBFHOF. McVey played three seasons at 1B; I can’t see that he is the best first baseman outside the BBFHOF.

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

    McVey led the NA in OPS+ in 1875, so that’s probably an MVP-type season there. McVey adjusts to 32 win shares in 1876 and 33 in 1877, which would give him two more. On the other hand, his pitching appearances could have boosted him over the 30-win share bar in either of those seasons.

    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?

    There were no All-Star games during McVey’s era. However, each of his four NL seasons adjust to 20+ win shares per 154 scheduled games. If you call 1871, 1872, 1874, and 1875 All-Star-type seasons, McVey would be up to eight seasons, which is the borderline.

    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, a team could probably win the pennant if he were the best position player on his team.

    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?

    McVey was one of Boston’s “Big Four.” He also organized the Bay City Athletics, but the team didn’t last for long, and California wasn’t able to mount a lasting challenge to the top eastern clubs.

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

    As far as I know, yes.

    CONCLUSION: McVey’s best years aren’t high enough for him to be worthy of the BBFHOF on peak alone. Since he played only four years as a catcher in the NA/NL (Deacon White beat him out for the position in his other five seasons) and a team could get by with one regular catcher during the 1870s, there’s no “catcher bonus” to compensate for the number of games he could catch being limited.

    Cal McVey did have a number of years as the top player at his position. However, after 1873, he didn’t have two consecutive seasons at the same position. Furthermore, while baseball was sufficiently developed in the early 1870s for being the best position player for several seasons to be a positive in itself (see Ross Barnes), I’m not sure it was developed enough for being the best player at a specific position during any of the NA seasons to be as significant.

    If McVey had played several years of top-level baseball in California, his career value would have been high enough for it, couple with his peak, to get him on my queue. However, McVey had just the one year in California. Combine it with his NA and NL years, and his career value isn’t enough to compensate for the lower peak. McVey doesn’t make my queue for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Billy Pierce

    I'm finally catching up with the backlog of requests I have received.

    This Keltner List is for Billy Pierce. I see him as falling just short of the BBFHOF. One could point out that one of his comparables in peak, Whitey Ford, is in the BBFHOF, while I have another comparable, Don Newcombe, in my queue. This introduction is as good a place as any to mention how Pierce compares to these other two pitchers.

    There is some superficial resemblence between Pierce and Whitey Ford in win shares. However, the win shares system assumes that pitchers faced a representative cross-sample of the team’s opponents. That assumption doesn’t hold true for Ford, as, season after season in the 1950s, he pitched more than his expected share of games against the other two teams who finished with the Yankees among the AL’s top three teams. Therefore, he saved more runs than the system gives him credit for, and, since those wins against top teams gave them an additional loss, he had gets more credit for winning pennants than mere statistics would claim. Hence, the win shares system understates Ford’s actual contribution to the Yankees during the Stengel era.

    This leaves the other comparison of interest. Newcombe had six seasons when he was among the top five pitchers in the NL in win shares, and his military service cost him one or two more. Although Pierce had six seasons among the top five AL pitchers in win shares, the competition he faced for the rankings was a little weaker. Pierce had only four seasons where he would have been among the top five in the NL in win shares, and didn’t lose any seasons in mid-career to the military. If you give Newcombe military credit, as well as credit for his performances in 1948 and early 1949 due to racism delaying his MLB debut, they are close overall in career value. Since Newcombe had more good seasons than Pierce, and a slightly higher peak than Pierce, I give Newcombe the overall advantage.

    Here's the overall list for Pierce.

    Case to Consider: PIERCE, Billy

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    He was the best pitcher on the White Sox during the 1950s, leading the team’s pitchers in win shares eight times (1950-53 and 1955-58).

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

    By win shares, he was the best pitcher in the American League in 1953, 1955, and 1958. The Sporting News gave him their AL Pitcher of the Year award in 1956 and 1957. So one could argue that he was the American League’s best pitcher during the late 1950s.

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

    Not that much. Although Pierce led AL pitchers in win shares in 1955 (with 23), the White Sox still finished 5 games out. When Chicago finally won the pennant in 1959, Pierce had just 14 win shares.

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

    For a few years; his last season as a regular starter was at age 35.

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

    Not in my opinion.

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

    By similarity scores: Vida Blue, Luis Tiant, Hal Newhouser, Jim Perry, Catfish Hunter, Milt Pappas, Bob Welch, Hoods Dauss, Orel Hershiser, and Mickey Lolich. However, Newhouser’s ERA+ was 129; Pierce’s, 119; everybody else’s, 114 or less. Similarity scores are inconclusive.

    Career WS, contemporary pitchers: Hal Newhouser 264, Whitey Ford 261, PIERCE 248, Bob Lemon 232. Pierce is in good company here.

    Top 3 seasons: Mel Parnell 76, Don Newcombe 74, Virgil Trucks 74, PIERCE 70, Whitey Ford 69. Pierce is a little low here.

    Top 5 consecutive seasons: Mel Parnell 111, Early Wynn 110, Whitey Ford 105, Don Newcombe 103, PIERCE 101. Pierce is a little low here, too, as Ford’s usage patterns mean that win shares underestimates his contribution to the team.

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

    His black ink total of 20, good for 88th all-time, is low. However, he’s 51st in gray ink at 187; the average HOF has a gray ink score of 185. He is low in HOF Standards, at 35.0, which is good for just 93rd place.

    Pierce is not in Cooperstown. However, he is in the Hall of Merit, although he was inducted late in the process, receiving 39% of all possible votes in the 1989 election.

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

    No.

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

    No.

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

    He led American League pitchers in win shares in three different years, which is good for a pitcher. He finished tied for third among AL pitchers one other year. However, the win share totals for those AL leads (24 in 1953, 23 in 1955, and 22 in 1958) are generally low for league leaders. He would have finished third among NL pitchers in win shares in 1955, and fourth in both 1953 and 1958.

    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?

    He was an All-Star seven times, which is good for a pitcher. He had five seasons overall where he was among the top four pitchers in the AL in win shares, one season in fifth, and another in seventh. That’s another positive.

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

    If he were the team’s best pitcher, his team could win the pennant.

    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?

    I don’t think he had much impact.

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

    Yes.

    CONCLUSION: Pierce did have the three seasons when he led AL pitchers in win shares, but he also had low peak win share totals. How do we reconcile these two facts? If you take Pierce’s win share totals, and put them in an NL context, he would have had just four top five appearances, with no first-place finishes among pitchers in win shares.

    Pierce’s raw win share totals are 248-70-101. I don’t see Luis Tiant as being worthy of the BBFHOF, but Tiant’s win share totals are 256-79-108, which are better than Pierce’s, and they came in a later era. Also, Tiant rarely contended for league leads in win shares. When it came to having top pitching, the AL of Pierce’s era was relatively weak.

    Pierce is borderline in career win shares, and low in the two peak categories. His chief positive is in league leadership in win shares, but part of the reason for that is because he faced weaker competition for those titles than he would have in the contemporary NL, or even in the AL a generation later (despite that pitchers have tended to pitch fewer innings per season as time progressed).

    In the end, I have to conclude that Pierce comes out a little short for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Lave Cross

    I recently received a Keltner List request for Lave Cross. Baseball-Fever had a Lave Cross discussion in late 2007, and, although I didn’t post a Keltner List then, I did participate in it:

    http://www.baseball-fever.com/archiv...p/t-66902.html

    I’ll quote a few excerpts from it, as they deal with analyzing a player’s career by looking at it on a year-by-year basis as opposed to looking at the career numbers by themselves.

    Originally posted by AG2004
    I decided to adjust Cross' raw win share numbers to 154 scheduled games in order to see how he faired. Cross finished with 301 adjusted win shares over his career. However, he had only four seasons with 20 or more adjusted win shares, and only two with 22 or more. Cross is rare among major league position players in reaching a high career value even though he was merely average through most of it.

    If you had a player who was just average over the course of a career, and rarely even reached the level of a borderline All-Star, how many seasons of play would it take for that player to be worthy of the Hall of Fame? My guess would be that no number of seasons would be enough. To take an extreme case, a hypothetical player who was just average for 25 years, and never had an All-Star appearance, would rack up impressive counting stats, but still would not be a Hall of Famer. Cross did have two very good seasons, but he was never close to being a great player; he doesn't belong in Cooperstown.
    One response to this was:
    Originally posted by 538280
    I have to question how Cross can be considered average through most of his career. I think I probably disagree with Win Shares in that case, if that's what they say. Cross had a 100 OPS+ over his career-average, and he was a tremendous fielder from what was a key defensive position at the time, third base, similar to 2B today. His stellar defense from a key defensive position should make him well above average as an overall player, since his hitting is around average. A 100 OPS+ over a career as long as Cross' IMO is impressive from a 3B in that time. Think of it like 2B today. If we had a 2B who had a glove similar to a Frank White, and was basically a league average hitter with a 100 OPS+, over a very long career of 2500+ games, I think that player would definitely be a HOFer.
    I pointed out that Cross’ career did not follow a standard arc, at least as far as his hitting went. In what should have been his prime years, he put up some terrible numbers.

    Originally posted by AG2004
    An All-Star-type season comes out to 20+ win shares; Cross recorded four over the course of his career. Your typical everyday position player comes out to 15-19 win shares; adjusting for 154-game schedules, Cross had 9 such seasons. (The four years at the start of his career were as his teams' backup catcher; the win share totals reflect this.)

    Cross' 100 OPS+ is a career total. He didn't play enough games in 1891 or 1893 to reach the All-Star-type season mark. He was dreadful with the bat in 1895, 1896, and 1897; he was in the 70s in all three of those seasons. An OPS+ of 88 in 1900 doesn't help much, either. You have to wait until 1902-1906 to find a time when Cross was a good batter who was in the lineup every day. However, he was old by then, and his defense had fallen off.

    Basically, in the 1890s, Cross was a wonderful defensive player, but he was either bad offensively or didn't play all that often; in either case, you end up with a season typical of an average starter. In the 1900s, he's very good with the bat, but his defense wasn't nearly as good as it used to be, so he had a number of average seasons there as well.

    Cross's best season was 1902, when he managed to put together a win shares gold glove at third with a 121 OPS+ while playing almost every day. But he wasn't able to put those three things together very often. Since his best years defensively tend to match up with his worst years offensively, and his best years offensively tend to match up with his worst years defensively, Cross ends up with a large number of average seasons, and relatively few All-Star-type seasons. That mismatch is why I can say that Cross was average through most of his career.
    538280 thought about it, and replied,
    Looking closer I think you are correct. His career rate of 100 OPS+ may exaggerate his season to season value because from season to season he was very "boom or bust" as an offensive player. He had some seasons where he was a good hitter and others where he was well below average. Overall, he comes out average, but in a good number of those seasons he was well below average.
    That’s one of the reasons I count “All-Star-type” and “MVP-candidate-type” seasons. It helps rule out players whose career numbers may look impressive, but who were actually average or played at a low All-Star-level (20-23 win shares per year) for most of their careers.

    It also reduces the impact that a single fluke year may have. Norm Cash is 315-93-130 in win share measures, while Orlando Cepeda is 310-93-130. However, Cash’ peak is driven by a 42-win-share season; his career high otherwise was 27. Since a team can win only one pennant per year, a distribution of, say, 32-31-30 in a player’s peak three seasons is more helpful than Cash’s actual 42-27-24 distribution in maximizing pennants. (For the record, Cepeda had a 34-30-29 distribution, but that 29 was in the NL in 1961; it increases to 30.5 in the 162-game AL context that year.)

    Now, onto the list.

    Case to Consider: CROSS, Lave

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Cross led his team’s position players in win shares just twice. In 1902, he was the best position player on the pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics. In 1898, he led position players on a 39-111 St. Louis team in win shares.

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

    Cross led AL third basemen in win shares in 1902, but was second among MLB 3B. He tied for second among AL 3B in 1901. In the one-league era, he was third among 3B in win shares in 1892 and 1894.

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

    Cross had 26 win shares in 1902 (a 140-game season), as Philadelphia won the AL pennant by 5 games. But that’s about it for impact.

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

    He was still a regular at age 40.

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

    I don’t see that he is.

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

    By similarity scores: George Davis, Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Bill Dahlen, Doc Cramer, Bobby Wallace, Red Schoendienst, Frankie Frisch, Omar Vizquel, and Pie Traynor. We have seven people in Cooperstown here, and six in the BBFHOF.

    Adjusted career win shares, 19th-century 3B: CROSS 301, Jimmy Collins 292, Deacon White 287+, Ezra Sutton 233+. White and Sutton both played five seasons in the NA, which James did not compute win shares for. Furthermore, since White spent his best years as a catcher, and would have played more games at C than at 3B had the schedule not been growing, one can debate whether White belongs on this list. Modern 3B with about 301 win career win shares include Ron Santo 322, Graig Nettles 322, Stan Hack 318, Home Run Baker 301, Buddy Bell 299, Bob Elliott 287, Sal Bando 283, Ron Cey 282, and Ken Boyer 280. This is a gray area for the BBFHOF.

    Adjusted win shares, best three seasons, 1800s 3B: Denny Lyons 82, Ed Williamson 81, Arlie Latham 81, Bill Joyce 80, George Pinckney 77, CROSS 76, Bill Shindle 75, Billy Nash 74. Moderns with about 76 win shares here include Graig Nettles 81, Pie Traynor 80, Ron Cey 80, Larry Gardner 80, Whitey Kurowski 79, Eddie Yost 78, Harry Steinfeldt 78, Red Rolfe 77, Tim Wallach 76, Bill Madlack 76, Doug DeCinces 76, Buddy Bell 74, Ken Keltner 74, George Kell 73, and Harlond Clift 72. Cross does not meet BBFHOF standards here.

    Adjusted WS, best five consecutive seasons, 1800s 3B: Billy Nash 115, George Pinckney 114, Arlie Latham 109, CROSS 107, Billy Shindle 94. 20th-century 3B with about 107 win shares here include Robin Ventura 109, Harry Steinfeldt 109, Matt Williams 107, Buddy Bell 107, Larry Gardner 106, Buddy Lewis 106, George Kell 106, Ken Keltner 104, and Tim Wallach 102. This is not BBFHOF territory.

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

    Cross has a black ink score of 0. His Gray Ink total of 83 is 278th all-time, but isn’t too bad for a pre-1920 third baseman. His HOF Standards mark of 40.0 is good for 143rd place, which is a positive. Cross has two Win Share Gold Gloves; the fact that he was competing against Jimmy Collins in a one-league era kept him from winning more.

    Cross is in neither Cooperstown nor 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?

    Cross was a great defensive third baseman – Bill James gave him a letter grade of A+ in his win shares book for his play in the field – at a time where 3B was a more important defensive position than it is now. However, the middle part of his career was played during the high-offense 1890s, and that affects his hitting stats.

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

    I can’t say that he is. Graig Nettles had more career value and more peak value, as well as more All-Star-type seasons than Cross did, and I don’t see Nettles as worthy of the BBFHOF.

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

    There was no MVP award in Cross’ time. He recorded 26 win shares in 1902, which comes out to 29 games per 154 scheduled games. That’s as close as he came to an MVP-type-season.

    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?

    There was no All-Star Game in Cross’ era. He had four seasons which come out to 20+ wins per 154 scheduled games, which is very low for a Hall of Famer. Furthermore, only two of those seasons come out to 22+ wins per 154 scheduled games, so he barely made it those two other years.

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

    No. He was far too inconsistent, and, in any case, rarely had an All-Star-type season. He led the 1902 Athletics in win shares, but that was Cross’ best season by at least three win shares. (Technically, it was 4 raw win shares, but it comes out to three after a season-length adjustment.)

    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?

    Cross is the only person to have played for four different teams in four different leagues, all in the same city (Philadelphia AA, PL, NL, and AL clubs). Cross retired as the all-time hits leader by a 3B, but expanding schedules did play a role in that.

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

    To the best of my knowledge, yes.

    CONCLUSION: Cross’ peak value and number of All-Star-type seasons are just too low. He is not worthy of the BBFHOF.

    Leave a comment:


  • AG2004
    replied
    Bernie Williams

    Here's another player whom I received a request for recently.

    For me, Williams is a gray case. I'm leaving him off my queue for now, mainly because I'm unsure of him. He's one of those players whom I need a little more perspective to get a good handle on, and it hasn't been that long since his retirement. In a few more seasons, I could see just how he stacks up among his contemporaries, some of whom are still active. By 2011, I should have a better evaluation of just how Williams stands.

    Case to Consider: WILLIAMS, Bernie

    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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Williams led Yankee position players in win shares in 1995, 1996, and 1998, and was second among Yankee position players each season from 1999 to 1902.

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

    Williams led MLB center fielders in win shares in 1995, 1999, and 2002. He also led AL CFs in win shares in 2000, and, while finishing second among AL center fielders in 1998, he had more win shares than any NL center fielder that season. Williams was also among the top six AL outfielders in win shares in 1996 and 2001.

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

    When the Yankees won the wild card by 1.5 games in 1995, Williams had 27 win shares. He followed that with a 26-win share season in 1996, when New York won the division by 4 games. There was another close race in 2000, when the Yankees won a playoff berth by 2.5 games, and Williams had 26 win shares. Otherwise, the Yankees made the playoffs by such large margins that no one single player had a major impact.

    Williams was named MVP of the 1996 American League Championship Series. His OPS exceeded 1.000 in the 1996, 2000, and 2001 ALCS (he batted .321/.413/.549 in all ALCS games). He also had a combined OPS of 1.149 in the 2003 World Series, but the Yankees lost in six games.

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

    He lasted until he was 37, so I would say yes.

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

    Not in my opinion.

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

    By similarity scores: Paul O’Neill, Bob Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Will Clark Ellis Burks, Edgar Martinez, Reggie Smith, Garret Anderson, Del Ennis, and John Olerud. None are in Cooperstown, and only Clark is in the BBFHOF. On the other hand, most of these people played less demanding defensive positions; only Burks was a career center fielder.

    Career win shares, comparable CFs: Richie Ashburn 329, Willie Davis 322, Vada Pinson 321, Edd Roush 314, WILLIAMS 311, Jimmy Wynn 305, Al Oliver 305, Cesar Cedeno 296, Brett Butler 295, Dale Murphy 294. This is mixed territory for the BBFHOF.

    Williams had 90 win shares in his best three seasons, but I’m adjusting it to 93 to reflect the shortened season of 1995.

    Best three seasons, CFs: Hack Wilson 98, Larry Doby 97, Dale Murphy 97, Edd Roush 96, Fred Lynn 94, Earl Averill 93, WILLIAMS 93, Cesar Cedeno 93, Kirby Puckett 92, Mike Donlin 91, Vada Pinson 90. This is another gray area.

    Best five consecutive seasons, CFs: Dale Murphy 150, Earl Averill 143, Jimmy Wynn 141, WILLIAMS 140, Cesar Cedeno 140, Vada Pinson 137, Richie Asburn 137, Edd Roush 136, Kirby Puckett 136, Max Carey 133, Roy Thomas 133. Williams is around the cut-off area here.

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

    Williams is very low in both ink marks; he’s at 403rd place in black ink with a total of 4, and 400th in gray ink with a total of 61. Even if we take into account the larger number of AL teams during his career, those are still very low. On the other hand, his HOF Standards mark of 48.4 is a very comfortable 82nd. Williams also has four Gold Gloves, and earned 4 Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    Williams is not yet eligible for either Cooperstown or 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?

    Williams did play in a high-offense era. On the other hand, his excellence as a defensive CF does not show up in his batting statistics.

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

    I think Jimmy Wynn would be a better choice among CFs, but Williams is in the race for second among center fielders outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Williams’ best finish in MVP voting was seventh in 1998, and he finished in the top ten just twice. However, adjusting for season length in 1995, Williams had three seasons with 30+ win shares, and that is a good sign.

    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?

    Williams played in just 5 All-Star games, and that is a low total for position players. However, making a schedule adjustment for 1994, Williams had nine seasons with 20+ win shares (per 162 scheduled games), and eight is the general cutoff, so that is a point in his favor.

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

    Perhaps; Williams could be a little inconsistent. He did lead the 1998 Yankees in win shares, but the Yankees roster that year had six position players with over 20 win shares that year, and nobody with 30.

    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?

    Williams holds the record for most postseason games, doubles, RBI, and extra-base hits. However, he did benefit from having three rounds of playoffs in all those years that the Yankees made the World Series; his record of 22 career postseason home runs was broken by Manny Ramirez the year after his retirement. Williams is also the only player to have hit home runs from both sides of the plate in a single postseason game.

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

    By all accounts, yes.

    CONCLUSION: I don’t know about Williams. From what I see, he’s in the gray area. His postseason records could push him over, but he did have the benefit of having three playoff rounds, and some of those records could be broken soon. According to win shares, he was one of the keys to the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s, but he may have been overshadowed his teammates in the public eye. This is one case where a little perspective might help. I’m reserving judgment for now, which means I’m leaving him off my BBFHOF queue for a little while to get a better view of where he stands. Call me back in a few years for a more solid judgement.

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