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  • AG2004
    replied
    While working on a list for Cravath, I remembered that, a few months ago, I mentioned that it might be nice to create a list for a contemporary NL outfielder, George J. Burns.

    The ability to score runs has generally been underrated, which may be why Burns hasn't been well-regarded here. From 1914 to 1920, Burns led the NL in scoring runs five times, was second once, and finished fourth in the remaining season -- all while his home field was one of the two worst hitter's parks in the National League.

    Furthermore, while Cravath made just two of Baseball Magazine's all-NL teams during the 1910s (only three outfielders made each all-league team), Burns made four such teams during the teens. Here's someone whom contemporaries considered better than Cravath, and had high scores in both black and gray ink, but seems to be overlooked today.

    Thus, I made a list for Burns. He turned out to be a minor surprise; I see him as worthy of the BBFHOF.

    Case to Consider: BURNS, George J.

    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 to my knowledge.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Burns led position players on the Giants in win shares in 1914, 1917, 1918, and 1919.

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

    Burns led major league left fielders in win shares in 1913, 1914, and 1917, and NL left fielders in win shares in 1915, 1918, and 1919. He was among the top six outfielders in the NL in win shares in 1916, 1920, 1921, and 1922. Also, Baseball Magazine named Burns to its all-NL team in 1914, 1917, 1918, and 1919 (I have no information for the 1920s).

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

    Burns was on pennant winners in 1913, 1917, and 1921. However, 1913 was a runaway win for the Giants. 1917 was also a runaway (they won by 10 games), but Burns earned 34 win shares that season. Burns picked up 22 win shares in 1921, as New York won the pennant by 4 games.

    Burns batted .333/.389/.515 in the 1921 World Series, and would have been in contention for the World Series MVP had such an award been in existence then.

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

    For a few seasons, but his last season as a regular was at the age of 33.

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

    No, he is not.

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

    By similarity scores: Dummy Hoy, Clyde Milan, Wally Moses, Jimmy Sheckard, Charlie Jamieson, Fielder Jones, Willie Wilson, Stan Hack, Paul Hines, and Brett Butler. None of these players are in Cooperstown, but Hack and Hines are in the BBFHOF.

    Career win shares, LF: Brian Downing 298, Frank Howard 297, Joe Jackson 294, BURNS 290, Bob Johnson 287, Heinie Manush 285, Minnie Minoso 283, Jim Rice 282. While this is the gray area for Cooperstown, it is low for the BBFHOF. The exceptions are Minoso (who has Negro League credit) and Jackson (who had a higher peak than Burns).

    Burns played in shortened seasons in 1918 and 1919. Adjusting those years to 154-game schedules lifts Burns from 97 to 100 win shares in his best three seasons and from 138 to 146 in his best five consecutive seasons.

    Best three seasons, LF: Sherry Magee 105, Al Simmons 104, Charlie Keller 102, Frank Howard 102, Tim Raines 102, Ralph Kiner 102, Willie Stargell 100, BURNS 100, Albert Belle 98, Billy Williams 96, Jimmy Sheckard 96, Zack Wheat 95. Most of these players are in the BBFHOF.

    Best five consecutive seasons, LF: Al Simmons 153, Frank Howard 153, Sherry Magee 151, Willie Stargell 148, Goose Goslin 147, BURNS 146, Billy Williams 142, Roy White 140. Most of these players are in the BBFHOF.

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

    Both of his ink scores are impressive. His Black Ink mark of 33 is good for 49th, while his Gray Ink total of 165 still puts him 65th all-time. He’s not so good in HOF Standards, with his score of 27.0 placing him 340th, but playing in a pitchers’ park during the deadball era hurt him. He also picked up one Win Shares Gold Glove.

    Burns 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?

    Burns’ best years came during the deadball era. Furthermore, the Polo Grounds was one of the worst parks for hitters during the deadball era, and that pushes Burns’ raw numbers down even more.

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

    I would rate Charlie Keller and Jimmy Sheckard higher among left 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?

    Burns was fourth in the NL MVP vote in 1914. However, the only two seasons when Burns was a regular and there was an NL MVP Award were 1913 and 1914.

    Burns had three seasons with 30+ win shares, which is a good sign. He led all NL position players in win shares in 1914, but that was only his third best 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 during his era. However, Burns recorded ten seasons with 20+ win shares, and just missed another such season in 1922, when he had 19 win shares. Most players with that many All-Star-type seasons are in 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 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?

    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?

    Burns was never ejected from a game during his career, so I have to answer yes to this question.

    CONCLUSION: Burns is a bit low on career value overall, since he had just 11 seasons as a regular. But he missed having a 20-win-share season in each of those eleven seasons by just one win share overall (he had 19 in 1922). Burns also had 3 30-win-share seasons. Those two numbers and his peak win share marks would put him in solid company among the lower half of the LFs who are already in the BBFHOF. Burns’ ink scores are also impressive, and his contemporaries recognized him as one of the top outfielders in the NL.

    If Burns had compiled two more seasons as a merely average starter, or one season as an average starter and two as a part-time player, his career win share totals wouldn’t pose a problem. But those types of seasons would basically have been padding on Burns’ resume, and I don’t think a lack of padding should keep one out of the BBFHOF. If you had three MVP-Candidate-type seasons and ten All-Star-type seasons in your career, you had a good career. I see Burns as deserving of a spot on my queue for the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Gavy Cravath

    The issue of minor league credit for Cravath was not an academic question for me, since I wanted to resolve it before evaluating his case. In the end, it didn't matter that I gave Cravath credit for his time with the Minneapolis Millers. Even with it, he still isn't good enough for the BBFHOF.

    There's another issue regarding Cravath. In one of the side issues regarding Jimmy Wynn, I noted that, if a players' splits are better at home in a pitchers' park, and worse on the road, than one might expect from park factors alone, win shares understates his actual value to his team by a small amount. I also noted that in the opposite case -- when a player performs better at home in a hitters' park than park factors alone would predict from his road numbers -- the win shares system would overstate his actual value by a small amount. Since 93 of Cravath's home runs came at home (92 during his NL years), I think Cravath might have benefited from an abnormal home/road split, and hence may have had a little less value than his win shares numbers would indicate.

    And, for the record, Cravath signed his name "Gavy" with one v, so I'm using "Gavy" here.

    Case to Consider: CRAVATH, Gavy

    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 to my knowledge.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Cravath led Phillies position players in win shares in 1913, 1915, and 1917. He had more value than any other position player on the Millers in 1910 and 1911 (and the 1910-11 Millers are in contention for the honor of best minor league team ever).

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

    Cravath led MLB right fielders in win shares in 1915, and NL right fielders in 1913, 1914, 1916, and 1917. His 1910 and 1911 MLEs with the Millers would have been high enough to put him in the top three outfielders in win shares in either the AL or NL each season.

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

    He had some impact. He gathered 35 win shares in 1915, when the Phillies won the NL by 7 games. Philadelphia lost the pennant race by 2.5 games in 1916, when Cravath had 26 win shares.

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

    Yes. Cravath was still a regular with the Phillies at age 37.

    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: Raul Ibanez, Rusty Greer, Troy O’Leary, Steve Kemp, Ival Goodman, Stan Spence, Trot Nixon, Bernard Gilkey, Buck Freeman, and Bob Nieman. On the other hand, Freeman and Nieman are tied for top career OPS+ on the list at 132, while Cravath had an OPS+ of 151 in the major leagues, so this list is not of much use to us.

    Cravath had 202 win shares in MLB, which isn’t BBFHOF-caliber. However, adding MLE credit for his years with the Millers would bump him up to 280 win shares.

    Career win shares, right fielders: Bobby Bonds 302, Ken Singleton 302, Kiki Cuyler 292, Elmer Flick 291, Fielder Jones 290, Chili Davis 285, CRAVATH 280, Dixie Walker 278, Bobby Murcer 277, Rocky Colavito 273. Even with credit for his Millers years, Cravath isn’t quite there yet.

    If you count his Millers years, Cravath goes up from 92 to 97 in win shares during his top three seasons. I’ll list them both here as CRAVATH (92) and CRAVATH* (97).

    Top three seasons, RF: Dave Parker 101, Bobby Murcer 101, Ken Singleton 101, Elmer Flick 100, Harry Heilmann 97, CRAVATH* 97, Pedro Guerrero 97, Jose Canseco 96, Enos Slaughter 95, Roberto Clemente 94, Rocky Colavito 94, Jack Clark 94, Bobby Bonds 94, CRAVATH 92, Roger Maris 92, Dave Winfield 92, Tony Oliva 91, Rusty Staub 90, Johnny Callison 89, Kiki Cuyler 89, Ross Youngs 89. This is the gray area for the BBFHOF.

    Giving Cravath credit for his seasons in Minneapolis does not change his total for his best five consecutive seasons.

    Top five consecutive seasons, RF: Dave Parker 150, Bobby Bonds 149, Reggie Jackson 148, Roberto Clemente 146, Bobby Murcer 146, Rusty Staub 145, CRAVATH 144, Enos Slaughter 141, Chuck Klein 140. This is a gray area for the BBFHOF, but the BBFHOF members here had longer careers than Cravath did.

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

    Cravath is an impressive number 30 in black ink, with 46 points. However, his 110 points of gray ink are only 190th overall. He’s 484th all-time on the HOF Standards list, with a score of 23.0.

    Cravath 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?

    Due to the actions of Joe Cantillon, Cravath was stuck with the Minneapolis Millers for 2.5 seasons, and he should get some credit for that.

    On the other hand, Cravath benefited from playing in the Baker Bowl. While Cravath hit 119 home runs, a very high total in the deadball era, 92 of them came in Philadelphia. In both 1914 and 1918, Cravath led the NL in home runs without hitting a single home run on the road.

    Cravath’s MLE win share totals jumped up when he joined the Millers; they weren’t that good in the PCL, nor was he playing at quite that rate with the Red Sox. The Millers played in Nicollet Field, which, like the Baker Bowl, had a very short right-field fence and was known as a home-run park. One could argue that Cravath was a late bloomer. On the other hand, he may have been helped substantially by his home parks. If his adjusted OPS+ was higher at the Baker Bowl than on the road, Cravath’s win share totals overstate his value a little.

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

    I would argue that Bobby Bonds, Dwight Evans, and Ken Singleton would be better choices for the BBFHOF 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?

    Cravath finished second in the 1913 NL MVP vote, but the last such award given during Cravath’s career was in 1914. Cravath had one major league season with 30+ win shares (1915), and gets credit for another in 1911, but two such seasons is a little low. Cravath led NL position players in win shares in both 1913 (29 win shares) and 1915, however.

    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 Cravath retired. I give Cravath credit for seven or eight All-Star-type seasons (MLE projections for 1909 put Cravath on the edge). However, eight is the general 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?

    If the team’s home park had a short right field fence, yes. Otherwise, I’m not too sure.

    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?

    Cravath produced a new kind of catcher’s mitt in 1915, but, since Cravath was an outfielder, this would help him only in the contributors section of a BBFHOF vote.

    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: Even giving Cravath credit for his years with the Millers, he isn’t quite BBFHOF material. He’s borderline at best in the MVP-Candidate-type seasons and All-Star-type seasons, and his career isn’t quite enough when coupled with his peak. Since win shares may overstate his true value with Philadelphia a little, he can’t get the benefit of the doubt there, either. Cravath falls just short of making my queue.

    Leave a comment:


  • AG2004
    replied
    Side Issue for Gavy Cravath (Minor league credit)

    I recently received a request for a Keltner List for Gavy Cravath, specifically mentioning that I take his minor league years into account.

    Cravath’s PCL seasons of 1906 and 1907 project to 16 and 21 win shares, respectively. However, I’m not sure that major league teams would have taken a chance on him for the 1907 season had he been available, since his raw numbers for 1906 weren’t very high, and there would have been questions about his staying power. Thus, I’m not giving Cravath credit for his 1906 and 1907 seasons.

    Cravath’s years with the Minneapolis Millers are different. As a result of some research, I decided that he deserves credit for those seasons.

    The following post was originally made on January 10, 2008. Subsequent posts quoted here were from January 11 and 12.

    Originally posted by AG2004
    From the "Albright's Musings thread:"
    Originally posted by jalbright
    Cravath had a short career in significant part because he failed to persuade three MLB teams to keep him before his age 31 tryout with the Phils. I don't see sufficient reason to give him more credit than he actually earned, and thus I cannot support his candidacy.
    Actually, I have grounds for believing that a huge con job kept Cravath from sticking in the major leagues in 1909.

    In 1908, Cravath makes his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox, and records an OPS+ of 136. However, Doc Gessler had a career year with an OPS+ of 162. Boston's other corner outfielder that season was Jack Thoney, who contemporaries said was the fastest player in baseball. He might have been the fastest player, but, during 1909, Boston finally realized that Thoney couldn't hit. The Red Sox already had Tris Speaker on their roster in 1908, and signed Harry Hooper in November of that year.

    On February 16, 1909, the Chicago White Sox bought Cravath from the Red Sox. The White Sox need a new CF following the retirement of Fielder Jones, and Boston has too many outfielders to use, so the sale makes sense for both teams. I can't interpret this as Cravath failing a trial with Boston, since he wasn't released outright, and one of the top clubs in baseball wanted to purchase him after the 1908 season.

    ----

    The trial with Chicago is the only one of the three trials that Cravath actually failed. The White Sox already had two established corner OFs, and Cravath's defense wasn't that impressive, so they figure they don't need him. The fact that he hit just .180 didn't help Cravath. Cravath also had an OBP of .406 during his stint with the White Sox, but I guess the team wasn't aware of that.

    ----

    After Boston (successful trial, but just too many outfielders) and Chicago (failure), Cravath ends up in Washington, and appears in four days. Senators manager Joe Cantillon tells the front office that Cravath can't play in the major leagues, and the team sells him to the Minneapolis Millers.

    I'll give you one guess as to who owned the Minneapolis Millers in 1909.

    That's right, Joe Cantillon.

    Cantillon guided the Senators to eighth place in 1907, and raised them up to seventh in 1908, but he led them right back to eighth place in 1909. He figured he wasn't going to get a fourth season managing the team in 1910. So, given this player who did a good job with Boston in 1908, Cantillon wants him for his team -- the one he owns, not the one he manages. Basically, he cons the Senators into giving him a great player for virtually nothing.

    Had there been no conflict of interest involved, Cantillon would have kept Cravath on the Senators. He would have been able to play in the majors in 1909, 1910, and 1911. Instead, Cantillon's con job keeps Cravath out of the majors for two and a half seasons.

    Teams were interested in drafting Cravath after 1909, 1910, and 1911 -- several teams actually tried to draft him -- but the Millers could lose only one player per year through the draft, and the luck of the draw meant that other Millers players were drafted instead. (Teams told the National Commission who they wanted to draft; if there were conflicts, lots were drawn to resolve them.) Finally, at the beginning of 1912, a clerical error in a telegraph the Millers sent to Pittsburgh led to Cravath's being freed from his contract, and he was free to return to the major leagues.

    ----

    Was Cravath trapped in the minor leagues between 1909 and 1911 by forces beyond his control? I believe so. Joe Cantillon was deliberately acting to prevent the Senators from keeping Cravath, and was doing so for his own personal gain. No matter how well Cravath would have done in Washington, Cantillon would have tricked the Senators into giving him to the Minneapolis Millers -- and Cantillon would never have given Cravath enough chances to demonstrate his skills to the big league club.

    I don't know if giving Cravath credit for those 2.5 years with the Millers would move him onto my BBFHOF queue. However, given what Joe Cantillon did to him in 1909, Cravath should get credit for those 2.5 years.

    ----

    I have one question for Jim. Now that you know about Cantillon's behavior, would it be "sufficient reason" to give Cravath extra credit for his years with the Millers?

    -----
    POSTSCRIPT: I remembered that the 1910 Millers have been considered one of the best minor league teams of all time, and that the Millers had a lot of former major leaguers in 1910-1911. Cravath, who led the AA in batting average and home runs in 1910, had been with the Senators in 1909. Long Tom Hughes led the AA with 31 wins in 1910; he had been with the Senators in 1909. Otis Clymer batted .308 with the Millers in 1910, good for third among the team's regulars. Clymer was with the Senators in 1909. Nick Altrock was either the second or third best pitcher on the Millers roster in 1910. His last major league appearance before that was with the Senators in 1909.

    The majority of the Millers' top players (four out of six or seven) in 1910 played with the 1909 Senators. Since the manager of the 1909 Senators also owned the Millers in 1909, I don't think that fact is a coincidence. Joe Cantillon was tricking the Washington Senators into giving him the players he needed to dominate the AA in 1910. I think he successfully carried off one of the biggest swindles in baseball history.
    Jim Albright said that the question was interesting but academic, since he didn't see Cravath as worthy of the BBFHOF even with the extra credit.

    Paul Wendt added:
    Originally posted by Paul Wendt
    From memory I think the 1911 Millers may be rated above the 1910 Millers as a candidate greatest minor league team. Some other (not Senators) recent major league players with rather good careers on the 1911 Millers: Hobe Ferris and Jimmy Williams on the bases, Claude Rossman in the outfield, Sam Leever and Rube Waddell pitchers.

    Bill James concludes his article in BJHBA, 2d (1988) "how they built their team is no different, really, than ... how the Red Sox or any other major league team of their team built their strength. They made good trades and put out the money when they had to."
    Wendt was trying to make the point that the minor league teams of the era were independent, and not farm clubs for major league teams. I interpreted the last paragraph differently, and replied:

    Originally posted by AG2004
    Yes, there were good players on the 1911 Millers who hadn't played with the Senators.

    However, there is one difference between the Millers and most other teams of the era. Not only did Joe Cantillon own the Millers in 1909, he also managed the Washington Senators that year. Furthermore, given Cantillon's managerial record, it seemed unlikely that he would be back with the Senators the following year.

    If you were in Cantillon's position, and saw a player that you wanted to keep, which team would you keep him on? The team which could fire you, or the team that you yourself owned? This is a classic conflict of interest situation; it was not in his best interest for Washington to have all the best players.

    In this sense, it doesn't matter if you remained with the Senators or got sold to the Millers, since, either way, Joe Cantillon decided that you were worth keeping. Furthermore, if Cantillon decided to get you on the Millers, his position as manager in Washington put him in a position to fool the Senators brain trust into thinking that you were not a major-league caliber player, and thus get you on the Millers instead.

    The fact that four of the top seven players on the 1910 Millers had been with both the 1909 Senators and the 1909 Millers leads me to believe that Cantillon took advantage of his position with the Senators to get talent for the team that he himself owned. That abuse of power on Cantillon's part is what leads me to believe that Cravath deserves credit for his years in Minneapolis. The Senators' manager had decided to keep Cravath around; it just happened to be on the other team he had an interest in.

    Jim Albright then responded:
    Originally posted by jalbright
    On Cravath:

    1) It's possible Cantillon was robbing the Senators, but in the case of Cravath, I wonder if he didn't realize that power was a big part of Cravath's value--and that power was far more valuable in Nicollette Park than the spacious Griffith Park (HRs were ridiculously low there).

    2) Also, while there may have been interest in Cravath during his time with the Millers, it seems that it was far from a unanimous opinion that he was the best player on the Millers during his years there, or he would have been drafted. That seems a strange thing if you're making a HOF case for a guy who should be in his prime--not even clearly the best player on a minor league team over a period of several years.
    I responded to the second point as follows.
    Originally posted by AG2004

    There are two things to remember here.

    First, a minor league team [in the AA] could lose only one player per year in the draft. If several major league teams tried to draft players from the same club, the decision of which player would be drafted, and which club would get him, were decided by chance. If there had been no limits on how many players could have been drafted from the Millers, Cravath would have been drafted in 1910 - but there were limits, and Cravath wasn't the only Minneapolis player that a team might want to draft.

    Second, a team's draft choices are determined, in part, by their needs. The Millers lost Dave Altizer, their shortstop, in the 1910 draft to Cincinnati. Why didn't the Reds draft Cravath instead?

    Cincinnati was satisfied with having Bob Bescher in left field and Mike Mitchell in right field. However, they had a gaping hole in shortstop. Tommy McMillan batted .185, while all the other regulars batted at least .245, and McMillan couldn't steal bases that well, either. Tom Downey could do a better job at the plate, but his fielding percentage was just .879. Even with a league fielding percentage of .924, that's poor.

    So who would Cincinnati draft? Even if they thought Cravath was better than Altizer, they would still draft Altizer. The Reds needed an extra corner outfielder like they needed extra holes in their heads; what they really needed was a shortstop. Cravath didn't play shortstop, but Altizer did.

    If you have a hole at one of the corner outfield positions, Cravath would be a nice choice. If your hole is at second, third, or short, even though you consider Cravath the best player on the Millers, Altizer would be a better choice for your immediate needs. Since there are just two outfield positions, but three key defensive infield positions, it follows that more teams would have felt that Altizer would be a better choice than Cravath for filling their immediate problems.

    (Also note that there were four regular pitchers on a team. If you need a pitcher more than anything else, would you draft Cravath, or submit a bid for Long Tom Hughes instead?)

    Also, George Davis had played his last game in 1909, and Bill Dahlen played just three games in 1910. This loss of two long-time regular shortstops from a 16-team groups of major leagues would have resulted in a higher demand than usual for new shortstops.

    Three big league teams submitted bids for Cravath in the 1910 draft, while six submitted bids for Altizer that year. This does not necessarily mean that six teams considered Altizer a better player overall than Cravath. It could just mean that more teams had problems in the infield than in the corner outfield. NFL and NBA teams will use their draft picks to fill holes, and may skip over better players if a worse player may do a better job of solving a problem at a particular position. Since MLB teams of the deadball era would have used the draft in a similar fashion, some of them might have opted for another Minneapolis player even if they considered Cravath the best player on the Millers' roster.
    Paul Wendt corrected me on one point above: a team could submit bids for multiple players from the Millers. However, only one player from the team could have ended up in the major leagues.

    I also realized that Jim Albright wasn’t arguing the same point I was. Albright thought that I was arguing that Cravath belonged in the BBFHOF. I decided to make my position clear, and did so while responding to the first point he maid.

    Originally posted by AG2004
    Just to clear up any misconceptions: I am not arguing that Cravath belongs in the BBFHOF. I don't know if Cravath belongs in the BBFHOF. I am focusing on a more limited point -- that Cravath deserves credit for his years with the Millers.

    . . . .

    If Cravath were the only Senator to end up with the Millers by the end of 1909, I might buy that argument. However, four different Senators ended up with the Millers by the end of the year, and two of them were pitchers, who should have been more valuable in Griffith Park than at Nicollet. Also, Cravath was eighth in the AL in triples in 1908 despite limited playing time - and the ability to hit triples would have been valuable in Washington. I think the hypothesis that Cantillon was robbing the Senators makes more sense.
    That last post ended the discussion in question.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    [NOTE: The following list was originally posted on November 5, 2006, as part of a thread dedicated to Martinez. Since it wasn't on the main BBFHOF discussion thread, I overlooked it when setting up this Keltner List thread in July 2007. Also, since Jim Albright had copied this list on his musings thread, I didn't realize I hadn't copied it here. My mistake.]

    I decided to make my own Keltner List for Edgar Martinez. As it was hard to think of career DH, I compared him to first basemen when I had to make comparisons based on positions. Otherwise, I've kept the same standards I've used with my other Keltner Lists, including the adjustment of peak performance for strike-shortened seasons. I reached the conclusion that Martinez is no Hall of Famer, and did so without considering the debate about whether career DHs should be admitted to Cooperstown.

    Case to Consider: MARTINEZ, Edgar

    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?

    1995 was the only season that he was the best player on the Mariners. During his peak years, he was generally the third-best player in the lineup, behind Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.

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

    He was the best DH from 1995 until 1999. However, 1995 is the only season that he was better than all the 1B in the American League. In 1996 and 1999, there were three AL first baseman with more win shares than Martinez.

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

    The Mariners would not have won the division in 1995 had he merely been very good. Martinez generally performed well in division series, but poorly in league championship series.

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

    For about 2 or 3 seasons.

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

    No.

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

    By Similarity Scores, the most comparable players are: Will Clark, John Olerud, Bernie Williams, Bob Johnson, Ellis Burks, Moises Alou, Paul O’Neill, Luis Gonzalez, Orlando Cepeda, and Larry Walker. Only Cepeda is in Cooperstown (although seven of the players are not yet eligible for Cooperstown). On the other hand, Martinez’ OPS+ of 147 is higher than that of anybody on the list.

    Since Martinez played the majority of his games at DH, I’ll compare him to first basemen in the categories.

    Career win shares, 1B: Jake Beckley 318, Norm Cash 315, Keith Hernandez 311, Orlando Cepeda 310, MARTINEZ 305, Mickey Vernon 296, George Sisler 292, Ed Konetchy 287, Boog Powell 282. Some are in Cooperstown, but some aren’t.

    Best five consecutive years: Keith Hernandez 136, George Sisler 135, Hank Greenberg 135, Dolph Camilli 135, Rafael Palmeiro 133, MARTINEZ 132, Fred McGriff 132, Orlando Cepeda 130, Norm Cash 130, John Olerud 130, Gil Hodges 129, Cecil Cooper 127, Jim Bottomley 127, Jack Fournier 127, Ted Kluszewski 125, Steve Garvey 124. (Numbers have been adjusted to 162-game schedules in strike seasons.) Martinez is a little on the low side.

    Top 3 seasons: Tony Perez 96, Eddie Murray 95, Don Mattingly 95, Frank Chance 95, Bill Terry 93, Orlando Cepeda 93, Norm Cash 93, Rafael Palmeiro 92, MARTINEZ 91, Keith Hernandez 91, George Sisler 91, John Mayberry 91, Jack Fournier 91, Mickey Vernon 86, Boog Powell 87, Dolph Camilli 85, Bob Watson 85, Steve Garvey 84. (Again, we adjusted for strike seasons). Martinez is at the cut-off line for Cooperstown.


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

    He has a black ink score of 20 (103rd place; 27 is average), a gray ink score of 107 (144th place; 194 is average), and a HOF Standards score of 49.9 (77th, 50 is average). The ink totals are a little low for someone whose job consists purely of hitting, but not out of HOF territory.

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

    He played during the 1990s, a hitter-friendly time. Also, he was a DH for about 70% of his games, which means he had no defensive value whatsoever during that time.

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

    He’s the best DH, but there’s little competition at that position. Most DHs spent many years in the outfield or at first before moving to the DH position. I’m having a hard time thinking of anybody else who had a long career at DH. There are first basemen who would be more deserving than Martinez.

    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 third in the 1995 MVP voting, and was sixth in 2000; those are his only top ten finishes. He did finish first in win shares among American League players in 1995. However, 1995 was the only season in which he recorded 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?

    He played in 7 All-Star games, which is low for a position player. He finished with 20 or more win shares in 10 seasons, however, and that is good for a position player.

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

    I doubt it. He wasn’t all that consistent. If you rack up consecutive seasons with 36 (adjusted for season length), 23, 27, 24, 22, and 28 win shares, your team would out of contention in half of those seasons.

    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?

    The AL’s designated hitter award is now known as the Edgar Martinez Award.

    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; in 2004, Martinez won the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award.

    CONCLUSION: Martinez was the best DH, but that’s a position commonly occupied by players at the end of a long career; there are not very many career designated hitters. He doesn’t compare well to contemporary first basemen, and he wasn’t the dominant player on his team. He just doesn’t look like a Hall of Famer.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Lloyd Waner

    While I'm at it, I'll post a Keltner List for Lloyd Waner, who for some inexplicable reason, garnered three votes in the last BBFHOF election.

    I know the story: .316 batting average, great defense in CF, and 1993 games played. However, given that Waner was at his best from 1927 to 1932, his average was inflated by the era he played in. Furthermore, hitting for average was the only part of offense that he did well. He couldn't hit for power, and he didn't walk very often, so his secondary average was a very poor .140. His career OPS+ was 99, so he was a slightly below average hitter during his career.

    Waner had 18 seasons in the major leagues, but played in 120 or more games only ten times, and appeared in 130+ games in just seven different seasons, so that cuts into his value on a season-by-season basis. After his first six seasons -- and, admittedly, he was pretty good, but not great, then -- the remainder of his value is spread too thinly among the remaining twelve years in the majors.

    To take a line from Dorothy Parker, there is less here than meets the eye.

    [April 20, 2008 Update: Lloyd Waner gained no votes at all in the most recent BBFHOF election. This list might have helped.]

    Case to Consider: WANER, Lloyd

    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?

    Lloyd Waner never 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?

    Waner led major league CFs in win shares in 1929, and was third among NL outfielders in win shares in 1928. His only other season among the top six National League OFs in win shares was in 1927.

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

    In 1927, when the Pirates won the NL by just 1.5 games, Waner had 25 win shares. In 1932, he finished with 23 win shares, but Pittsburgh finished 4 games back. That’s it for the regular season.

    Waner batted .400/.471/.600 in his only World Series appearance, but Pittsburgh was swept in four games in 1927.

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

    Not really. The last time Waner played in at least 120 games was in 1938, at the age of 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: Richie Ashburn, Willie Wilson, Charlie Jamieson, Jake Daubert, George J. Burns, Patsy Donovan, Fred Tenney, Brett Butler, Paul Hines, and Clyde Milan. We have two members of the BBFHOF and one member of Cooperstown. However, only Wilson and Donovan have career OPS+ marks lower than Waner’s 99.

    Career WS, CF: Chet Lemon 265, Roy Thomas 260, Rick Monday 258, WANER 245, Wally Berger 241, Willie Wilson 237, Ben Chapman 233, Andy Van Slyke 231, Ginger Beaumont 229, Earle Combs 227, Dode Paskert 227. These aren’t members of the BBFHOF.

    Top three seasons, CF: Willie Davis 77, Willie McGee 77, Dode Paskert 75, Al Oliver 75, Andy Pafko 75, Jimmy Barrett 75, Paul Blair 74, Chet Lemon 74, Dwayne Murphy 73, Lloyd Moseby 73, Gus Bell 73, Matty Alou 73, WANER 72, Rick Monday 71, Mickey Rivers 70, Garry Maddox 70, Barney McCosky 69, Ben Chapman 67, Jose Cardenal 67. These aren’t BBFHOF members, either.

    Top five consecutive seasons, CF: Al Oliver 114, Matty Alou 112, Lloyd Moseby 111, Lenny Dykstra 111, WANER 110, Chick Stahl 110, Brady Anderson 109, Willie Wilson 109, Chet Lemon 109, Andy Pafko 107, Pete Reiser 106, Ben Chapman 106, Rick Monday 105. These still aren’t members of the BBFHOF.

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

    Waner’s Black Ink mark of 10 puts him in 226th place. He’s lower in the Gray Ink standings at 334th place, with a total of 71. His HOF Standards score of 31.0 places him at number 246 in the rankings. On the plus side, he did win eight Win Shares Gold Gloves.

    Lloyd Waner is in Cooperstown, but 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?

    Waner played in the 1920s and 1930s, and benefited from the hitter’s environment then. Also, while Waner had a BA of .316, his secondary average was just .140, and that’s the worst of any person whom Bill James has in his top 100 at any outfield position. He was a lot worse on offense than his batting average indicates.

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

    No. There are a bunch of CFs who have better scores in the three win shares categories than Waner: Jimmy Wynn, Fred Lynn, Vada Pinson, Cesar Cedeno, Amos Otis, Brett Butler, Willie Davis, Roy Thomas . . .

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

    Waner was fifth in the 1929 NL MVP voting, but was in the top ten just twice overall. Also, Waner never had a season with 30+ win shares; the best he did was 27, in 1929.

    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?

    Waner made just one All-Star team, but his five best seasons all came before 1933. He had just five seasons with 20+ win shares, and that is low for a Hall of Famer.

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

    No. He just wasn’t good enough.

    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?

    The Waners combined for more MLB hits than any other set of brothers.

    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: With the sole exception of Cooperstown’s blunder, there is nothing here that indicates Lloyd Waner is even close to being worthy of the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-20-2008, 08:55 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Kiki Cuyler

    I'm still working on some Keltner Lists I promised back in December. Here's one for Kiki Cuyler.

    Case to Consider: CUYLER, Kiki

    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 led Pittsburgh’s position players in win shares in 1925, the Cubs’ position players in 1931, and Cincinnati’s position players in 1936.

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

    Cuyler led all major league OF in win shares in 1925. He was among the top three NL OF in win shares in 1926, 1930, and 1931, and was among the top six outfielders in the NL in 1924, 1934, and 1936.

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

    Cuyler had 34 win shares in 1925 as the Pirates won by 8.5 games, so there’s some impact there. He recorded 29 win shares in 1930, but the Cubs finished 2 games out; the Cubs also won by 10.5 games in 1929, so nobody had that much of an impact during the regular season.

    Cuyler batted .281/.313/.484 in 16 World Series games, and got the game-winning RBI in Game 7 of the 1925 series.

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

    Yes, he was.

    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: Heinie Manush, Joe Kelley, Edd Roush, Kirby Puckett, Hugh Duffy, Jimmy Ryan, Johnny Damon, Dixie Walker, Sam Thompson, and Bobby Veach. We have six members of Cooperstown and five members of the BBFHOF here.

    Career win shares, RF: Harold Baines 307, Bobby Bonds 302, Ken Singleton 302, CUYLER 292, Elmer Flick 291, Fielder Jones 290, Chili Davis 285, Dixie Walker 278, Rocky Colavito 273. The only BBFHOF member here is Flick, but he had a much higher peak than Cuyler did.

    Best three seasons, RF: Roberto Clemente 94, Bobby Bonds 94, Rocky Colavito 94, Jack Clark 94, Al Kaline 92, Dave Winfield 92, Roger Maris 92, Gavy Cravath 92, Tony Oliva 91, Rusty Staub 90, Johnny Callison 89, Kiki CUYLER 89, Chuck Klein 89, Ross Youngs 89, Fielder Jones 88, Dixie Walker 88, Dwight Evans 86, Reggie Smith 84, Babe Herman 84, Andre Dawson 83, Roy Cullenbine 83, Jeff Burroughs 83. Cuyler is a little low here.

    Top five consecutive seasons, RF: Dwight Evans 122 (before strike adjustment), Tommy Henrich 122, Ruben Sierra 120, Larry Walker 120 (adjusting for strikes), Jack Clark 118, Harry Hooper 118, John Titus 118, Tim Salmon 117, CUYLER 116, Sam Rice 115, Bob Allison 115, Bobby Thomson 112, Jackie Jensen 109, Tony Phillips 109. This is not a BBFHOF-type peak.

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

    Cuyler is 105th in Black Ink at 20, 119th in Gray Ink at 137, and 94th in HOF Standards at 46.0. All are good marks. Cuyler also picked up two Win Share Gold Gloves in the outfield.

    While Cuyler is in Cooperstown, 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?

    Cuyler played during a high-offense era.

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

    No. There are better right fielders outside the BBFHOF. To begin with, there’s Bobby Bonds, Dwight Evans, and Ken Singleton.

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

    Cuyler finished second in the 1925 NL MVP vote, but had just one other season in the top ten. Cuyler had just one season with 30+ win shares (1925), but finished with 29 in 1930.

    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?

    Cuyler played in just one All-Star game, but the contest started when he was 34. He recorded eight seasons with 20+ win shares, which puts him at the borderline.

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

    No. He had only two seasons with more than 26 win shares, and he was inconsistent as well.

    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 know of any significant 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?

    He was benched by manager Donie Bush for much of late 1927 for arguing over his position in the lineup.

    CONCLUSION: Cuyler is yet another big hitter of the 1920s and 1930s who was inducted into Cooperstown despite not deserving the honor. He is not worthy of the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Chief Bender

    Today's other list is for Chief Bender.

    As I note in my answer for question 8, Bender's usage patterns in 1910, 1911, and 1913 were unusual. However, even after adjusting for that, Bender's peak still isn't close to being enough to merit indiction. Eddie Plank has the lowest peak values of any pitcher of the "Oughts" who is currently in the BBFHOF. Even after making a generous adjustment in Bender's favor, he would be 10 win shares below Eddie Plank in the best three seasons category, and 20 win shares below him in the best five consecutive seasons category. There's no way Bender's relatively low career value could make up for such a poor peak.

    Case to Consider: BENDER, Charles Albert “Chief”

    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?

    Bender led Philadelphia pitchers in win shares in 1909 and 1913, 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?

    Bender was never among the top three pitchers in the AL in win shares.

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

    Bender earned 22 win shares in 1907 and 1909, but the Athletics finished just a few games out of the pennant each time. Otherwise, when Bender had 18 or more win shares, Philadelphia won the pennant easily; when Philadelphia won a close race in 1905, Bender wasn’t that good.

    In the World Series, Bender had sub-2.00 ERAs in 1905, 1910, and 1911. He might have won the World Series MVP in 1911 had the award existed, but Frank Baker’s performance that year, with a .375 average and two home runs, might have given him the trophy instead.

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

    No. His last season as a regular starter was 1915, and he was just 31 then.

    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: Carl Mays, Eddie Cicotte, Jack Chesbro, Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown, Stan Coveleski, Lon Warneke, Sam Leever, Joe McGinnity, and Urban Shocker. Five are in Cooperstown, and five are in the BBHFOF. However, Chesbro (110) and Bender (111) are the only ones of these eleven pitchers to have an ERA+ under 119, so this is not necessarily a point in Bender’s favor.

    Career win shares, contemporary P: Babe Adams 243, Al Orth 243, Rube Waddell 240, Doc White 235, Jesse Tannehill 233, BENDER 231, Sam Leever 213. Except for BBFHOF member Waddell, these are pitchers who aren’t even receiving votes for the BBFHOF.

    Best three seasons, contemporary P: Bill Dineen 81, George Mullin 80, Nap Rucker 78, Ed Reulbach 78, Doc White 77, Sam Leever 77, Deacon Phillippe 76, Wild Bill Donovan 72, BENDER 70. These aren’t even pitchers who have received votes for the BBFHOF.

    Best five consecutive seasons: Jack Powell 116, Doc White 114, Sam Leever 107, Babe Adams 107, Wild Bill Donovan 106, Al Orth 103, BENDER 100. Again, these pitchers haven’t received votes for the BBFHOF recently.

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

    Bender’s Black Ink score is 17 (118th place), and his Gray Ink score is 158 (82nd). Neither is that good. However, he stands at 32nd the HOF Standards list with a score of 51.0.

    Bender is in Cooperstown, but not in the BBFHOF.

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

    Bender pitched during the deadball era, and his winning percentage was improved by Philadelphia’s offense.

    Also, Bender had unusual usage patterns in 1910, 1911, and 1913. During the last twenty days of each of those three seasons, he made a combined total of one start. Connie Mack was probably saving him for the World Series, as Bender was the Game One starter each of those years. If Bender had been pitched regularly in those situations, he would have had somewhere around 77 win shares in his best three seasons, and about 111 win shares in his best five consecutive seasons.

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

    Bender is not the best pitcher eligible for the BBFHOF. I can’t even see him as being among the best 20 pitchers 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?

    The only MVP awards given during Bender’s career were from 1911 to 1914, but Bender never made the top 10. Bender was fourth among AL pitchers in win shares in 1909 – his best finish – so he might not have figured much in Cy Young voting if there had been such an award back then. On the other hand, those gaudy winning percentages in 1910, 1911, and 1914 might have gained him some votes.

    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 during Bender’s era. He finished in the top eight AL pitchers in win shares just three times: fourth in 1909, fifth in 1910, and eighth in 1913. Three All-Star-type seasons is a very low total, even for a pitcher.

    Baseball Magazine named Bender to its All-AL team just twice, in 1910 and 1911, when five pitchers were named. Bender doesn’t appear in its top three for the AL in 1912 or 1914, or in its AL top four in 1913.

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

    Generally, a team with someone like Bender as its best player wouldn’t be a regular pennant contender. Philadelphia featured Eddie Collins, a peak-level Frank Baker, and a team OPS+ that never dipped below 119 between 1910 and 1914, so the 1913 Athletics would be the exception to the rule.

    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 see much of an 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?

    According to all accounts, he did.

    CONCLUSION: When the only positive you have is a 32nd-place finish in the HOF Standards list, you don’t have much of an argument for the BBFHOF. Postseason play can’t come close to bridging the gap between Bender’s regular-season performance and my standards for induction. Cooperstown made a mistake when it inducted him. Let’s not repeat that mistake at the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Vic Willis

    I've gone longer than I wanted since posting my last list. To make up for that, I'll be posting lists for two deadball-era pitchers today.

    I'll begin with Vic Willis.

    Case to Consider: WILLIS, Vic

    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 to my knowledge.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Willis led Boston (NL) pitchers in win shares in 1899, 1901, 1902, and 1903, and Pittsburgh pitchers in 1906, 1907, and 1908.

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

    Willis led all NL pitchers in win shares in 1899 and 1901, and was second among NL pitchers in 1902 and 1906.

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

    He was credited for helping Boston win the pennant in 1898; as they won by 6 games that year, his 25 win shares helped. Likewise, his 24 win shares helped Pittsburgh win by 6.5 games in 1909. In 1908, Willis earned 20 win shares, but the Pirates finished 1 game out of first.

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

    Not for very long; his last season was at the age of 34.

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

    I don’t think he’s quite the best player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    By similarity scores: George Mullin, Red Faber, Jim McCormick, Burleigh Grimes, Jack Powell, Bob Gibson, Tony Mullane, Dennis Martinez, Amos Rusie, and Wilbur Cooper. Four are in Cooperstown, and three are in the BBFHOF.

    Career WS, contemporary pitchers: Three Finger Brown 296, WILLIS 293, Jack Powell 287, Joe McGinnity 269, Ed Walsh 265. Willis is in very good company here.

    Best three seasons, contemporary P: Three Finger Brown 105, Jack Chesbro 103, WILLIS 101, Rube Waddell 100. Except for Chesbro, this is good territory, and Chesbro is here due to a fluke season (his best three seasons in win shares were 53, 25, and 25).

    Best five consecutive seasons, contemporary P: Rube Waddell 145, Jack Chesbro 145, WILLIS 138, Bill Dineen 134, Eddie Plank 133, Addie Joss 131, Jesse Tannehill 130. Willis is around the cut-off area here.

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

    Willis is 66th all-time in black ink, with a score of 25. His gray ink score of 204 is good for a nice 35th place. He’s borderline at 59th place in the HOF Standards list, with a score of 43.0.

    Willis is in Cooperstown, but 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?

    Willis pitched in the deadball era.

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

    Willis might not be the best pitcher outside the BBFHOF, but I could make the argument that he is the best MLB starter outside the Hall.

    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 Willis’ era. Willis was first in win shares among NL pitchers in 1899 and 1901, and second in 1902 and 1906, so he would have been in the running for the Cy Young award several times had it existed back then.

    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 addition to the four top-2 finishes in the NL listed above, Willis finished fifth in the NL among pitchers in win shares in 1909. He was tenth in 1898, but there was only one league; tenth place would correspond to somewhere between fourth and sixth in a two-league setup. Willis also finished 7th among NL pitchers in win shares in 1908, and 8th in 1907. Six All-Star-type seasons is good for a pitcher; seven is even better.

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

    If Willis were a team’s best pitcher, it would be likely that the team would be in the pennant race.

    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?

    Willis holds the modern-era record for most complete games in a season and most losses in a season. However, this is partly a result of the decision to set the start of the modern era at 1900.

    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 have been able to determine, yes.

    CONCLUSION: Willis had a good number of Cy Young-candidate-type seasons and a suitable number of All-Star-type seasons. He’s in a good place as far as overall career value is concerned; he has the highest WS total of any pitcher of his time who's not in the BBFHOF. His five-year peak is at the current cutoff line, but the only contemporary ahead of him there is Jack Chesbro, who (a) has just 209 career win shares and (b) benefits from having a fluke season. Chesbro had 53, 25, and 25 win shares in his three best seasons; Willis had 39, 33, 29, and 29 win shares in his four best seasons. Vic Willis is deserving of membership in the BBFHOF.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Kevin Brown

    [NOTE: The original Keltner List was posted here on December 11, 2007. Two days later, the release of the Mitchell Report gave the first allegations that Kevin Brown used performance-enhancing substances. Due to the report, I have to change my mind on Brown; he is now off my queue for the BBFHOF. The post-Mitchell Reports conclusion follows the original post, which is preserved here intact.]

    This post is in response to a request for an evaluation of Kevin Brown.

    When making my win shares comparisons for starting pitchers, I see how they do against their contemporaries. A straight comparison to all modern (post-1900) pitchers can be misleading, as usage patterns for pitchers have changed over the decades.

    Taking a step back from these win share comparisons, there is a sense in which the pitchers most similar to Kevin Brown are Joe McGinnity, Stan Coveleski, Don Drysdale, and Wes Ferrell. Those four pitchers and Brown all have two things in common:

    (1) Compared to their peers, the only starting pitchers with higher five-year peaks in win shares are obvious Hall of Famers. The only possible exception might be Dizzy Dean (for Wes Ferrell), but would have to disregard peak performance altogether to leave Dean out of the Hall.

    (2) Their career win share totals are all in the 230-270 range.

    Those other four pitchers are all in the BBFHOF. After I made the list, I have to conclude that Kevin Brown also deserves BBFHOF membership.

    Case to Consider: BROWN, Kevin

    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 led Texas’ pitchers in win shares in 1992 and 1993, Florida’s in 1996 and 1997, San Diego’s in 1998, and the Dodgers’ in 1999 and 2000. He also led the Dodgers’ starting pitchers in win shares in 2003.

    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 MLB starters in win shares in 1998, and was second among NL and MLB starters in 1996. He was also among the top five MLB starters in win shares in 1997, 1999, and 2000.

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

    He didn’t have much of an impact. He had 23 win shares in 1997, when Florida won the wild card by 4 games. In 1998, when he led MLB pitchers in win shares, the Padres made the playoffs easily; he did pitch well in the NLDS and NLCS, though. Otherwise, when Brown had his best seasons, his teams didn’t come close to making the playoffs.

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

    Yes.

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

    I don’t think he’s quite there.

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

    By similarity scores: Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Don Drysdale, Catfish Hunter, Milt Pappas, Dazzy Vance, Curt Schilling, Vida Blue, Luis Tiant, Freddie Fitzsimmons. Three are in Cooperstown, and two are in the BBFHOF, while Schilling has not yet retired. While Brown’s ERA+ of 126 trails Schilling’s by one point, it is better than the ERA+ of any of the retired pitchers on this list.

    Career win shares, contemporary SP: John Smoltz* 285, Mike Mussina* 256, Curt Schilling* 254, Pedro Martinez* 250, BROWN 241, Chuck Finley 213. The asterisks indicate players who were still competing in 2007. Brown is in the second tier of pitchers in career value as of December 2007, but Mussina, Schilling, and Martinez may leave him behind.

    I have adjusted win share totals in the peak measures for the short 1994 and 1995 seasons. These adjustments don’t affect Brown’s totals, but they do help some other players out.

    Best three seasons, contemporary SP: Pedro Martinez 82, Randy Johnson 81, BROWN 75, Bret Saberhagen 75, Mike Mussina 72, Frank Viola 71, Curt Schilling 70, David Cone 70, Tom Glavine 69, Orel Hershiser 69.

    Best five consecutive seasons, contemporary SP: Randy Johnson 126, Roger Clemens 125, Pedro Martinez 117, BROWN 114, Tom Glavine 106, David Cone 103, Orel Hershiser 102, Kevin Appier 102, Curt Schilling 101.

    Kevin Brown has the fifth best peak among starters of his era (Greg Maddux comes out on top after season length adjustments are made).

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

    Brown’s black ink total of 19 is 100th overall. His grey ink total of 166 is good for 75th, but that’s still low. His HOF Standards score of 41.0 places him 66th all-time, which is borderline at best.

    Brown is not yet eligible for Cooperstown, nor is he eligible for the Hall of Merit yet.

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

    Brown pitched during a hitter’s era. He also had some bad luck when he went 17-11 with Florida in 1996 while leading the NL in ERA; the Marlins scored only 11 runs in those 11 losses.

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

    I don’t see him as the best pitcher 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?

    Brown never finished in the top ten in MVP voting. However, he finished second in the Cy Young vote in 1996 and third in 1998. He was first among NL pitchers in win shares in 1998, and second in 1996.

    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?

    Brown was named to six All-Star teams, which is good for a pitcher. He finished among the top five starters in his league in win shares six times, and was tied for sixth in the AL in 1992. That makes seven All-Star-type seasons, which is also a good sign for a pitcher.

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

    During Brown’s peak years, a team with someone like Brown as its best pitcher would be in the thick of the pennant race.

    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?

    Brown was the first person to sign a $100-million contract in December 1998, when he agreed to a five-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers.

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

    Brown was known for having a temper. In 2004, he broke a bone in his glove hand while punching a wall.

    CONCLUSION (Pre-Mitchell Report): Brown has the fifth best peak of his contemporaries, behind Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, and Martinez. His 241 career win shares may seem low, but it’s still ninth among his contemporaries, and we do have a number of pitchers in the BBFHOF with career win share totals in the mid-200s. Brown also has enough All-Star-type seasons to meet the benchmarks for pitchers, and recorded a season where he led MLB pitchers in win shares, so he’s in good shape overall.

    Actually, if the contemporary pitchers ahead of you in peak are all “no-brainers” for induction, and you have a career win share total is around 250, you’re probably in the BBFHOF. Coveleski’s five-year peak is 142, and he trails only Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander among his peers there. Drysdale’s 117 trails only Bob Gibson, Koufax, and Marichal among the top pitchers of the 1960s. McGinnity is neck-and-neck with Mathewson, and trails just Cy Young among those who came up in the one-league era and had success in the first decade of the 1900s. You want the big peaks of the 1930s? Wes Ferrell trails just Grove, Hubbell, and Dean.

    Now look at the career win share totals: McGinnity has 269, Drysdale has 258, Coveleski has 245, and Ferrell has 233.

    Brown fits the same mold as those four players. Like them, the only contemporary pitchers with higher peaks are all no-brainers for Hall of Fame honors. Like them, his career win share total falls in the 230-270 range. Also, like them, Kevin Brown deserves to be in the BBFHOF.


    CONCLUSION (Post-Mitchell Report): According to Kirk Radomski, Kevin Brown first obtained performance-enhancing substances from him in "2000 or 2001." Brown's best three seasons in win shares were in 1996, 1997, and 1998, so if Brown started using these substances in 2000 or 2001, that set of numbers doesn't change.

    Brown's best five consecutive seasons were from 1996 to 2000. If we consider just the seasons through 1999, Brown's best five-year stretch would become 1995-1999, with 107 win shares, or 109 if we adjust for the short season of 1995. It's still the fifth-best peak among his contemporaries, but it's not a huge lead.

    However, at the end of the 2000 season, Brown had just 200 win shares. I noted that the BBFHOF has included pitchers with 230-270 career win shares if they have fairly high peaks. However, the BBFHOF has inducted just two starting pitchers with fewer than 230 career win shares: Koufax and Dean. Both of them were among the leaders in their era in peak performance. Brown's peak, however, is substantially behind the peaks of Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and the pre-Toronto Roger Clemens. We also have to drop the All-Star-type season that he had in 2003 from consideration, since he didn't make the cutoff by that much, and that also weakens his overall case.

    If Brown's use of certain chemicals started before 2000, that would eat further and further into his peak. As I have reason to believe that Brown would not have reached my standards for BBFHOF induction without the use of performance enhancing substances, I have removed Kevin Brown from my queue for the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 12-13-2007, 06:21 PM. Reason: Release of the Mitchell Report

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Lee Smith

    I recently received a request for a Keltner List for Lee Smith, as he has drawn some support in BBFHOF voting recently. I plan to add lists for Chief Bender, Kiki Cuyler, Leon Day, Cal McVey, and Vic Willis before December 21, the end of the current BBFHOF voting cycle.

    While looking over the data for Lee Smith, I discovered that the period where he performed the best was not the period when he received the most recognition for his pitching, and tried to figure out why this was the case.

    Smith led NL relievers in win shares in 1985, with 17 - but that was only good enough for fifth among major league relief pitchers. His best finish among MLB's relief pitchers was in 1990, when he tied for third with 17 win shares. He was tied for fourth in 1983, 1986, and 1991.

    Smith won three Rolaids Relief awards: 1991, 1992, and 1994. In each of those three years, led the league in saves. However, he had 15 win shares in 1991, 12 in 1992, and just 8 in 1994. While he had 19 win shares in 1983, and 17 win shares in 1985, 1986, and 1990, he finished ninth in the Cy Young voting in 1983, and didn't gain any votes in those other three years. It's very odd that he didn't do that well in awards voting and All-Star appearances during his best seasons, and only started gained a lot of recognition while in his decline phase.

    His other numbers in those years indicate why he won all that recognition. In 1991, he pitched 73 innings in 67 games, gathering 47 saves in 61 finishes; his W-L record was 6-3. In 1992, with 75 IP and 55 games finished in 70 games, he ended up with 43 saves and a 4-9 W-L record. Then, in 1994, he piitched in 41 games, gathering 33 saves in just 38.3 innings pitched. However, his W-L record that year was 1-4.

    In those seasons, and in 1994 in particular, Smith was reserved for one-inning save situations, while most of the top closers weren't reserved for those situations. On the other hand, during the 1980s, Smith was being used as a lot of other top relievers were: when the game was close, with a comparatively large number of two-inning perfermances.

    Smith didn't impress a lot of people in the 1980s. However, when his usage pattern changed in 1991, he gained a lot of recognition, mainly because a lot of people just looked at his high save totals and thought he must be a great relief pitcher.

    He wasn't.

    Case to Consider: SMITH, Lee

    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?

    This question does not work too well with relief pitchers. We can compare position players to each other, and starting pitchers to each other, but a baseball team typically has just one relief ace.

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

    Smith led all NL relievers in win shares in 1985, but was just fifth among major league relief pitchers that season. The only season he appeared in the top three among ML relievers in win shares was 1990, when he tied for third place.

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

    Not really. While the Red Sox won their division by just one game in 1988, Smith had a bad year, gathering just 12 win shares. He did not do very well in the postseason, either.

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

    Smith was still a closer at the age of 37, so I would answer 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: Jeff Reardon, John Franco, Roberto Hernandez, Trevor Hoffman, Doug Jones, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Rick Aguilera, Mariano Rivera, and Kent Tekulve. There are two Hall of Famers, and two members of the BBFHOF, in this list, but the scarcity of honored relievers makes this list problematic.

    Career win shares, relief pitchers: Goose Gossage 223, SMITH 198, Rollie Fingers 188, John Franco 182, Bruce Sutter 168. This is a pretty good sign for Smith.

    Best three seasons, RP: Rollie Fingers 59, Kent Tekulve 57, Sparky Lyle 54, SMITH 53, Tug McGraw 53, John Franco 51. Except for Fingers, these players are not in the BBFHOF.

    Best five consecutive seasons, RP: John Hiller 89, Hoyt Wilhelm 85, Mike Marshall 83, SMITH 83, John Franco 76. This is not a good sign for Smith, either.

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

    There are no recognized standards for relief pitchers, and the ink tests are geared more towards starters, so the information is not relevant in Smith’s case. Smith 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?

    During the 1980s, he was used like other relievers of the period. Smith was put in when the score was close, and would pitch two innings on many occasions. Starting late in 1990, Smith was used in a new manner: for one inning when his team had the lead. Since he was reserved for save occasions, while most other top relievers of the early 1990s weren’t, Smith was able to obtain very high save totals compared to other relievers.

    Smith didn’t gain much recognition until the early 1990s. Again, when he was used like other relievers, he didn’t gather many honors. When his usage pattern changed, allowing him to rack up high save totals despite lowered win share totals, Smith received most of his All-Star team nominations and Cy Young votes.

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

    If you go purely by career win share totals, Smith is the best reliever outside the BBFHOF. But, since I consider other aspects when judging a player, I see Quisenberry and Sutter as better relievers.

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

    Smith was eighth in MVP voting in 1991, his only top ten finish. He was second in the Cy Young vote that year, the only time he finished with at least 5% of all possible votes. While Smith led all NL relievers in win shares in 1985, he didn’t figure in the voting that 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?

    Smith was named to seven All-Star teams, which is good for a pitcher. However, he had only four seasons when he finished among the top three relievers in his league in win shares, and that is not a good sign.

    Smith earned three Rolaids Relief awards, but only the first (1991) came when he finished among the top three in win shares among his league's relievers.

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

    This question does not seem very relevant for relief pitchers.

    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?

    Smith holds the major league record for games finished in relief, and is second in career save totals.

    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.

    CONCLUSION: The statistical analysis indicates that Smith may have been pretty good for a while, but being pretty good does not put one in the Hall of Fame.

    Smith was at his best from 1983 to 1990, but he did not gain much recognition during his first decade in the majors. He wasn’t regarded as a great reliever until the early 1990s, when he was declining in value; the acclaim was due to his high save totals, and those totals are a result of Smith being reserved almost exclusively for one-inning save situations while other top relievers generally continued to be used in the pattern common in the 1980s. When one compares Smith’s win share totals to those of other relievers of the early 1990s, one can see that Smith didn’t deserve most of the honors given to him then. He received them because voters looked at the save totals, and didn’t consider the usage patterns behind them.

    If Smith had been able to reach greatness at some point in his career, then his career length might be able to help him. However, Smith never came closer than 4 win shares to the major league lead in win shares among relief pitchers, despite the fact that the leaders in those seasons finished with between 19 and 21 win shares.

    I have to conclude that Lee Smith was another player who, though good for a long time, doesn’t have the peak necessary to make my queue for the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-21-2008, 10:22 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Ken Keltner

    Some time ago, I received a request for a Keltner List about Ken Keltner. I replied that I would create such a list to celebrate the 100th post on this thread.

    For post number 100, here's Ken Keltner!

    Case to Consider: KELTNER, 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?

    No.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    Keltner led his team’s position players in win shares just once, in 1939.

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

    He was the leader in win shares among American League third basemen in 1941, 1944, and 1948, but never led ML third basemen in that category. He was second among AL 3B in 1939 and 1941.

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

    He had 25 win shares in 1948, when the Indians won the pennant in a play-off against Boston, but that’s about it as far as seasons go. However, in the 1948 playoff, Keltner hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie on the way to an 8-3 Cleveland win.

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

    No; Keltner’s last season as a full-time player was at the age of 31.

    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: Joe Randa, Harlond Clift, Hubie Brooks, Jorge Orta, Edgardo Alfonzo, Andy Van Slyke, Doug De Cinces, Adrian Beltre, Don Money, and Hank Bauer. These are not Hall of Famers.

    With war credit, Keltner would have about 212 to 224 win shares.

    Comparable 3B, Career WS: George Kell 229, Richer Hebner 220, KELTNER 216, Harry Steinfeldt 209, Terry Pendleton 203, Doug DeCinces 203, Willie Kamm 201. Except for George Kell, who is widely regarded as one of Cooperstown’s mistakes, these are not Hall of Famers.

    Best three consecutive seasons, 3B: Eddie Yost 78, Harry Steinfeldt 78, Bill Werber 78, Red Rolfe 77, Tim Wallach 76, Doug DeCinces 76, Bill Madlock 76, KELTNER 74, Buddy Bell 74, Red Smith 74, George Kell 73, Pete Ward 73, Harlond Clift 72, Ray Boone 72, Pepper Martin 72. This is not BBFHOF territory.

    Best five consecutive seasons, 3B: Harlond Clift 111, Robin Ventura 109, Harry Steinfeldt 109, Buddy Bell 107, Matt Williams 107, Larry Gardner 106, George Kell 106, Buddy Lewis 106, KELTNER 104, Ray Boone 104, ken McMullen 103, Tim Wallach 102, Terry Pendleton 101, Pepper Martin 101. With the exception of Kell, none of these players are in Cooperstown.

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

    Keltner’s Black Ink total is 1. His Gray Ink score of 71 (334th) and HOF Standards score of 19.0 (664th) are both low. However, Keltner earned three win shares gold gloves.

    Keltner 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?

    Keltner was known for his defensive play, and he missed a season due to World War II.

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

    I don’t think he’s close to being the best third 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?

    Keltner never finished in the top ten in MVP voting, nor did he have any seasons with 30+ win shares. Those are bothh bad signs.

    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?

    Keltner was named to seven All-Star teams, which is a little low, but he likely missed one more All-Star game due to the war. However, Keltner’s five seasons with 20+ win shares is very low for a position player.

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

    No. He had only two seasons with 25 or more win shares, and they came ten years apart.

    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?

    He was the inspiration for Bill James’ original Keltner List. Also, he made two great fielding plays to deny Joe DiMaggio hits in the game that broke DiMaggio’s record hitting streak.

    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. The SABR biography for Keltner didn’t say anything negative about his character.

    CONCLUSION: Ken Keltner is not deserving of the Hall of Fame, but we all knew that going in. Still, it was fun to create my own Keltner List for him.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Alejandro Oms

    [NOTE: Originally posted on November 3, 2007. Oms was elected to the BBFHOF on April 4, 2008.]

    I added Oms to my BBFHOF ballot in September, but didn't create a Keltner List for him then. Since Oms gathered six votes in the last BBFHOF election, it's about time I take the information I have on him and turn it into a list.

    Case to Consider: OMS, Alejandro

    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?

    Alejandro Oms was generally the best position player on the Cuban Stars (East) during the 1920s.

    Oms appears to have been the best position player on his Cuban league teams in 1924/25 (Santa Clara), 26/27 (Marinao), 27/28 (champions Habana), 28/29 (champions Habana), 29/30 (Santa Clara), and 31/32 (Habana). He may have edged Pablo Mesa for title of the best position player for San Jose in 1925/26. Oms was the second-best position player for Santa Clara in 1922/23, but Charleston was the team's leader that year.

    Oms may have been the third-best position player for Santa Clara in 1923/24, but Oscar Charleston and Ollie Marcelle were ahead of him, and he was competing with Moore for being third-best. In 1928/29, Oms was better than teammate Jud Wilson.

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

    I’ll compare Chris Cobb’s projections for Oms with where he would be had he competed in the majors. Since Cobb’s method lowers the peaks and raises the valleys for Oms, I’ll list similar outfielders season by season as well.

    *1921 – 29 WS. Oms is ahead of any major league CF (Speaker has 27) and any NL outfielder.
    *1922 – 31 WS. Oms leads all OFs (Speaker and Ken Williams have 30).
    *1923 – 27 WS. Second among AL CFs; third among NL OFs (Roush has 28; Youngs, 25).
    *1924 – 26 WS. First among NL CFs (Carey has 25). Second among AL CFs (Cobb has 27).
    *1925 – 27 WS. Fourth among AL outfielders (Cobb and Speaker each have 25); second among NL OFs (Wheat has 27, Carey 26).
    *1926 – 23 WS. Fourth among NL outfielders.
    *1927 – 26 WS. Fifth among AL OFs and second among AL CFs (Simmons 26); fourth among NL OFs(Stephenson 27, Harper 26, Lloyd Waner 25).
    *1928 – 28 WS. Second among NL OFs and first among NL CFs (Wilson 28, L. Waner 26). First among AL CFs, third among AL OFs (Combs 28, Goslin 26).
    *1929 – 29 WS. Third among AL outfielders, and first among AL CFs. Fourth among NL outfielders (Ott 31, O’Doul 31, P. Waner 30, L. Waner 27).

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

    Oms' teams generally weren't in close races; when they won, they won by a lot. However, when Santa Clara won the 1924 Gran Premio by 1/2 game, Oms had the third-best batting average on the team (and the top two spots were occupied by Oscar Charleston and Dobie Moore). In 1932/33, Habana and Almendares were tied for the league lead when the competition folded; Oms led Habana in batting average.

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

    Yes. Not only was Oms a regular in Cuba, but the various MLEs and projections indicate that Oms still could have been a major league regular through the age of 40 had it not been for the color line.

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

    Given his career length and peak, Oms might be the best position player outside the BBFHOF.

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

    Chris Cobb credits Oms with 340 win shares from documented competition; however, Oms had a few undocumented years with sugar mill teams before appearing in the Cuban Winter League at the age of 26. Thus, Oms should get credit for 370+ career win shares. Major league CFs with totals close to 370 include Joe DiMaggio 387 (without war credit), Duke Snider 352, and Max Carey 351. This is Hall of Fame territory.

    Oms is credited with 140+ win shares over his five best consecutive seasons (1921-25; we have no numbers for 1919 and 1920). We have Dale Murphy 150, Earl Averill 143, Jimmy Wynn 141, OMS 140+, Cesar Cedeno 140, Richie Ashburn 137, Vada Pinson 137, and Edd Roush 136. Oms is around the cutoff area, and may be a little higher than that.

    Oms comes out to 89+ win shares in his best three seasons. As noted, Chris Cobb’s projections lower how players do in this category. Major League CFs with similar totals include Larry Doby 97, Dale Murphy 97, Edd Roush 96, Fred Lynn 94, Earl Averill 93, Kirby Puckett 92, Mike Donlin 91, Vada Pinson 90, Lenny Dykstra 90, Roy Thomas 89, Andy Van Slyke 88, Clyde Milan 88, Chick Stahl 87, Ginger Beaumont 87, and Richie Ashburn 86. Oms is around the cutoff territory when we account for the problems with the projection method used.

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

    We don’t have the information available. Oms did lead the Cuban league in batting average 3 times, doubles 3 times, home runs once, and stolen bases once.

    Oms is not in Cooperstown. While he is in the Hall of Merit, he was on 25 ballots when he was elected in 2006, and received only 25% of all possible points.

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

    There are two key components here. First, Oms’ Negro League play in the 1920s came with the Cuban Stars (East). The Cuban Stars played a majority of their games, and sometimes all of their games, on the road. Since the home teams provided the umpires, this would lower the numbers of players on the team.

    Second, Oms’ first season in the Cuban League is at the age of 26; Chris Cobb’s MLE projections give him about 29 win shares that year. Oms was the star of a Santa Clara club that won a regional championship in 1920-21. According to Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, the club drew its players from the top sugar mill and amateur teams in the area. Since playing for a sugar mill team would provide year-round employment, it might well be preferable to playing in the Cuban League in the winter and independent Black clubs in the United States for those barred from organized baseball by the color line. If Dobie Moore gets credit for playing baseball for an Army team, Oms should also get credit for playing on a top mill/industrial team. This would give Oms at least 30, and perhaps more, career win shares.

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

    Oms could be the best CF outside the BBFHOF; he has a huge advantage in career win shares, and his five-year peak of 140 is pretty good.

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

    We don’t have MVP awards. Cobb projects one MVP-type-season for Oms, in 1922. However, Cobb admits his method evens out the peaks and valleys. Since Oms’ best seasons come out to 30, 29, 29, 28, 27, and 27 WS, and we don’t have projections for 1919 and 1920, Oms probably had around three MVP-type-seasons. That’s a very positive 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?

    Cobb’s projections give Oms nine seasons of 20+ win shares. Since Oms projects to 29 WS in 1921 and 31 WS in 1922, and was playing baseball professionally in 1920 at the age of 25 (although not in any documented competition), I figure Oms had ten or eleven seasons of play at an All-Star level. Since eight is the cutoff, this is a very good sign for Oms.

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

    Yes. A team with someone like Oms as its best player would most likely be in the pennant race most years. Cobb’s projections for 1921-29 have Oms averaging about 27-28 win shares per season, and those were the seasons between ages 26 and 34.

    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?

    Oms was called “El Caballero,” or the gentleman, by his contemporaries, and certainly upheld these standards.

    CONCLUSION: When I received information on Oms' Cuban league teams, I was able to determine that, at his best, Oms was usually either the best position player on his teams or trailed only BBFHOF members/serious candidates for that honor. In all other categories, Oms' record generally meets or exceeds the standards we have set for BBFHOF membership.

    When we include his play for sugar mill teams, Oms comes out to 370+ career win shares. The only major league position player with at least 370 career WS who isn’t in the BBFHOF is Rafael Palmeiro, and his record is tainted by steroid use. Oms’ five year peak of 140 win shares is also solid. Oms proved himself fully worthy of induction into the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 04-20-2008, 09:11 AM. Reason: Comparisons to Cuban League Teammates added

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Wilbur Cooper

    Wilbur Cooper, the third and final pitcher in this group, is better than people give him credit for. I'm not sure why he's underrated; there may be two reasons.

    First, there are years when Cooper drops out of the top ten in ERA+, but comes up big in complete games and innings pitched. With the state of relief pitching in Cooper's era, a team would actually benefit from high IP and CG totals. Instead of a specialized closer who could provide a great finish a lot of times, a relief pitcher would usually be someone who just wasn't that good. Using a reliever might be a step down for a team.

    Second, Cooper was a fairly decent hitter; he would often bat in the number eight position during one of his starts. Pitching statistics don't account for how well a pitcher hits. However, hitting does make a difference in winning games. If we compare pitcher A to pitcher B, does it really matter if the difference between the two comes down to ten extra runs saved by pitcher A's throwing, or if it comes down to ten extra runs produced by pitcher A's offense?

    ERA+ does not reflect IP, nor does it reflect offensive totals. However, the win shares method reflects both of these numbers. Thus, Wilbur Cooper comes out better by win shares than by ERA+. Addie Joss, on the other hand, comes out better by ERA+ than by win shares, since ERA+ doesn't reflect his IP totals (only two times in the top ten during his career) or his relatively poor hitting. Since I'm not sure how best to adjust ERA+ for innings pitched, and the win shares system adjusts for both quality and quantity, I generally use win shares.

    Case to Consider: COOPER, Wilbur

    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 led Pirates pitchers in win shares each year from 1916-18 and 1920-24.

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

    No, he wasn’t. Grover Cleveland Alexander was easily the best pitcher in the NL. However, Cooper led all NL pitchers in win shares in 1922, and finished second in the NL in 1921 and 1924. His best season was 1920, with 31 win shares, but he was only third in the NL that year.

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

    The Pirates finished 4 games back in 1921, and 3 back in 1924. In each of those years, Cooper was second among NL pitchers in win shares.

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

    Not really. He was burnt out by the age of 34.

    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 pitchers are Rube Marquard, Hooks Dauss, Larry French, Stan Coveleski, Don Drysdale, Dolf Luque, Milt Pappas, Jim Perry, George Mullin, and Freddie Fitzsimmons. Three are in Cooperstown, although Marquard is widely considered a mistake. Two are in the BBFHOF.

    By career WS among contemporaries, we have: Eppa Rixey 315, Red Faber 292, Burleigh Grimes 286, COOPER 266, Waite Hoyt 262, Carl Mays 256, Stan Coveleski 245, Sad Sam Jones 245, Babe Adams 243, Dazzy Vance 241, Dolf Luque 241. He’s in fairly good company here.

    Both the 1918 and 1919 seasons were shortened, so I adjusted Cooper’s peak shares to 154-game schedules in order to reflect this. This boosts his total in his best three seasons from 86 to 87, and his best five consecutive seasons from 133 to 140. The peak totals for several other pitchers also reflect this adjustment.

    By top three seasons, we have Stan Coveleski 97, Carl Mays 96, Dazzy Vance 94, Jim Bagby 94, Red Faber 93, Burleigh Grimes 91, Smokey Joe Wood 90, Hippo Vaughn 90, Dolf Luque 89, Claude Hendrix 87, COOPER 86, George Uhle 84, Jeff Pfeffer 84, Urban Shocker 84, Bob Shawkey 81, Babe Adams 81, Rube Marquard 78, Eppa Rixey 76. Cooper is closer to those who aren’t in the BBFHOF than to those who are.

    By peak five consecutive seasons, we have Stan Coveleski 151, Carl Mays 148, COOPER 140, Hippo Vaughn 136, Urban Shocker 128, Dazzy Vance 124, Burleigh Grimes 122, Dulf Luque 121, Eppa Rixey 118, Urban Faber 118, Bob Shawkey 114. Cooper is in a good position here.

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

    Cooper has a black ink total of 17 (118th), a gray ink total of 173 (65th), and a HOF Standards score of 33.0 (113rd). These are all low, though the gray ink isn’t terrible.

    Cooper 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?

    The Pittsburgh clubs he pitched for were generally bad to mediocre, thus affecting his W-L record. Also, Cooper was a good hitter for a pitcher; he would usually bat eighth in the lineup in games he started. His hitting does not affect his pitching statistics, but it is reflected in his win share totals.

    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?

    Neither the MVP nor the Cy Young was around when Cooper played. However, Cooper did have more win shares than any other NL pitcher in 1922, and was second in the NL in 1921 and 1924. He had 31 win shares in 1920, but was third among NL pitchers in win shares that year. This is good for a pitcher.

    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?

    Cooper retired before there was an All-Star game, but he finished in the top four among NL pitchers 6 times, and finished fifth two other times. Those eight times were in consecutive seasons (1917-1924). He was sixth among NL pitchers in 1916 as well. Eight or Nine All-Star-type seasons is good for a pitcher.

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

    A team with someone like Cooper as its best pitcher would usually contend for the pennant during his peak 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?

    He picked off a record seven runners at third base during the 1924 season.

    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: Going by the five consecutive years measure, Cooper has the best peak of any MLB pitcher of his era who isn’t in the BBFHOF. Also, not only does Cooper have a pretty good career win share total, he was also among the top five pitchers in his league in win shares each year for eight consecutive seasons. He was among the top six in the NL each year for nine consecutive seasons. Someone who would make an All-Star team year-in and year-out is usually a Hall of Famer. I have to conclude that Cooper is worthy of the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 02-17-2008, 11:52 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Eppa Rixey

    Making a list for Rixey led me to change my mind about him. He wasn't merely a slightly above-average pitcher who happened to have a long career, as I discovered that Rixey actually had a fairly impressive number of All-Star-type seasons. He was a good pitcher at his peak; he just didn't have that one season which stands out from the rest.

    [NOTE: Rixey was elected to the BBFHOF on February 1, 2008.]

    Case to Consider: RIXEY, Eppa

    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?

    Rixey led Cincinnati’s pitchers in win shares in 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1928. He finished third among Cincinnati’s pitchers in win shares in 1925, but his 26 win shares that year would have been enough for the lead on all fifteen other teams.

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

    He never led his league’s pitchers in win shares, but he was second in 1922. He was among the top four major league pitchers in win shares in 1923 and 1925.

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

    Not really. Rixey didn’t have a good season in 1915, the only time a team he was on won the pennant. However, he was the third best pitcher in the NL in 1916, when the Phillies were 2.5 games out, and 1923, when the Reds finished 4.5 games back.

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

    Yes; he pitched 201 innings at the age of 38.

    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: Jack Powell, Red Faber, Ted Lyons, Jim Kaat, Robin Roberts, Burleigh Grimes, Jack Quinn, Tommy John, Tony Mullane, and Ferguson Jenkins. Five are in Cooperstown, and four are in the BBFHOF.

    Career win shares, contemporary P: RIXEY 315, Urban Faber 292, Burleigh Grimes 286. Rixey is second among the era’s pitchers here; Alexander is first by a wide margin.

    Top three seasons: Hippo Vaughn 82, Bob Shawkey 81, Rube Marquard 78, RIXEY 76, Dick Rudolph 74, Vean Gregg 74, Dutch Leonard 74, Joe Bush 73, Herb Pennock 73, Larry Chaney 72, Jeff Tesreau 72, Sad Sam Jones 71, Waite Hoyt 69. These are not members of the BBFHOF, let alone serious candidates.

    Top five consecutive seasons: Jim Bagby 125, Dazzy Vance 124, Burleigh Grimes 122, Dolf Luque 121, RIXEY 118, Red Faber 118, Claude Hendrix 117, Bob Shawkey 114, Smokey Joe Wood 111. Rixey appears to be a bit low here, but he is tied with Faber, so he's around the gray area.

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

    His black ink score of 10 is very low, as it is just 228th all-time. He does better in gray ink; his mark of 175 puts him in 63rd place. He is 93rd on the HOF Standards list, with a score of 35.0.

    Rixey is in both Cooperstown and 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 the 1910s are known for low scores, Rixey’s home park in that decade was the Baker Bowl. The latter half of his career came during a high-offense era, but those seasons were spent in Cincinnati, which had a pitcher’s park. Rixey also pitched for a lot of bad teams, which lowered his W-L record.

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

    Rixey is not the best pitcher 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?

    Rixey was second among NL pitchers in win shares just once, in 1922. He was third four other times; these include his top three seasons in 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 was created in Rixey’s last season. However, he had six seasons among the top four pitchers in the NL by win shares, with an additional season in sixth and one more in seventh place. That’s good for a pitcher.

    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, a team with a player like Rixey as its star pitcher would usually contend for a 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?

    Rixey is the only pitcher since the live ball was introduced to have given up just one home run while throwing 200 innings in a single season, having done so in 1921. He also had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 1917. On the other hand, Rixey has the career record for most losses by a left-handed pitcher.

    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.

    CONCLUSION: In the past, I had been under the impression that Rixey’s main accomplishment was gathering together a lot of wins, and that he didn’t really have much of a peak to speak of. He didn’t have the big seasons, but he did finish in the top three among NL pitchers in win shares in five different seasons. The peak may be a little lower than I’m comfortable with, but his career totals compensate for that. Rixey makes my queue for the BBFHOF. [He was added to my ballot after October 31, 2007.]
    Last edited by AG2004; 02-05-2008, 08:11 AM.

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  • AG2004
    replied
    Red Faber

    [NOTE: Originally posted on October 31, 2007. Faber was inducted into the BBFHOF in the December 21, 2007 election.]

    Today, I'm posting evaluations for three pitchers whose career started in the 1910s - Red Faber, Eppa Rixey, and Wilbur Cooper. Faber and Rixey have both drawn solid support in recent BBFHOF elections. I made a list for Cooper out of curiousity, as he is ahead of both Faber and Rixey in Bill James' rankings.

    With Red Faber, the first of the three pitchers, the issue of wartime credit comes up. Usually, military service does not affect a pitcher's career totals. While he is not competing in the major leagues while in the service, the fact that he isn't playing baseball will help preserve his arm, and the pitcher will get those years back at the end of his career. However, during his stint in the Navy in 1918, he became a pitcher for the Great Lakes Naval Base's team. Since he was playing baseball then, the usual argument for not giving pitchers wartime credit falls apart; Faber deserves some consideration for the time missed.

    Case to Consider: FABER, Urban (Red)

    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 led White Sox pitchers in win shares in 1920, 1921, and 1922.

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

    In both 1921 and 1922, he had more win shares than any other pitcher in major league baseball.

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

    No. He was decent in 1917, with 16 win shares, but had only 6 win shares in 1919 (he had arm trouble and the flu). He had 25 win shares in 1920, when the White Sox were in the race until the end of the season. However, he did go 3-1 in the 1917 World Series with a 2.33 ERA. If there had been an MVP Award for the series back then, it probably would have gone to Faber that year.

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

    Yes; he was still a regular in the White Sox rotation at the age of 41.

    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, he’s most comparable to: Burleigh Grimes, Vic Willis, Jack Quinn, Ted Lyons, Eppa Rixey, Dennis Martinez, George Mullins, Sam Jones, Tony Mullane, and Waite Hoyt. Five are in Cooperstown, but only Lyons is in the BBFHOF. However, Faber’s 118 ERA+ ties Willis’ for the highest of the bunch.

    By win shares among contemporaries, we have: Eppa Rixey 315, FABER 292, Burleigh Grimes 286, Wilbur Cooper 266. Faber is actually third on the list (Alexander has 477).

    However, early in 1918, Faber joined the Navy, and served as recreation director for the Great Lakes Naval Base, also pitching for the base’s team. With wartime credit, Faber would be at 300+ win shares. This is a case where a pitcher deserves wartime credit, since his military job involved playing baseball.

    By win shares in the top three seasons, we have: Dazzy Vance 94, FABER 93, Carl Mays 92, Burleigh Grimes 91, Stan Coveleski 90, Smokey Joe Wood 90. Again, Faber is third among his contemporaries (Alexander is in first by a wide margin), and in solid BBFHOF territory.

    By best five consecutive seasons, we have: Jim Bagby 125, Dazzy Vance 124, Burleigh Grimes 122, Dolf Luque 121, Eppa Rixey 118, FABER 118, Claude Hendrix 117, Bob Shawkey 114, Smokey Joe Wood 111. Faber is a little low here. However, if we knew how well he pitched in the Navy in 1918, he might move up a bit.


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

    His black ink score is 22 (77th), his gray ink score is 161 (78th), and his HOF Standards score is 37.0 (84th). So he misses out here.

    Faber is a member of both Cooperstown and the Hall of Merit. The HOM inducted Faber in his first year of eligibility.

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

    All those games for the Chicago White Sox after the Black Sox scandal lowered his W-L percentage.

    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 never received a vote in the MVP voting during the 1920s. However, he was the best pitcher in baseball twice. Had there been a Cy Young award in 1921, he might have won the vote, recording the lowest ERA in the American League and going 25-15 for a team that went 62-92 overall.

    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 1921 and 1922 seasons were the only ones in which he finished in the top four in win shares among AL pitchers. However, he finished fifth among AL pitchers in 1920, and might have been an All-Star that year. Overall, though, three All-Star seasons is low for a pitcher.

    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, 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?

    Faber was the last legal spitball pitcher in the American League.

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

    After retirement, Faber tried selling cars and real estate, but failed at both. His lack of success was attributed to his being too honest.

    CONCLUSION: It’s a close call. Faber certainly has the career value. His peak is decent, and he had back-to-back seasons as the best pitcher in major league baseball. However, he had only three seasons among the best eight pitchers in his league, and that’s low.

    To be fair, he may have been able to pick up another top-notch season in 1918; he had 7 win shares in 80.7 innings pitched before he joined the navy. Four good seasons at his peak, a long career, and first-ballot induction into the Hall of Merit put Faber onto my queue for the BBFHOF.
    Last edited by AG2004; 01-20-2008, 01:35 PM.

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