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  • #16
    Continuing around the diamond . . .


    We need to note that, during the 19th century, third base was considered a key defensive position, comparable to what second base is today. That said, I'll put in very short comments about ten people, two of whom are not yet eligible.

    *Lave Cross - Bill James' gold glove winner of the 1890s at third. His career lasted until 1907. His 6.03 win shares per 1000 defensive innings is tops among third basemen.

    *Bob Ferguson - He was a member of the Brooklyn Atlantics from 1865 until 1870. He was about middle of the road as a hitter on that team then, and was better known for his glovework. He has a very weird career path. In the NA and NL, Ferguson's first season with a triple-digit OPS+ came in 1878, when he was 33 years old, , and it was the first of five consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of at least 100. I don't know what happened.

    *Bill Joyce - His 144 career OPS+ is high for any position player, even one who's supposed to be playing a defensive position. His .471 secondary average leads all third basemen. He was a terrible fielder, though, and Bill James gave him a grade of "F" for his defense.

    *Arlie Latham - He's not eligible, but only because he played in two games in 1909. His 822 errors at third are a major league record, but that's because teams didn't play 100+ games a season until he reached his prime, and gloves have been getting better since. James gave him a grade of "A-" for his defense. His 739 SB are also tops among third basemen. One of the St. Louis Browns' stars during the 1880s.

    *Denny Lyons - He has the highest rating among eligible 3B in the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (referred to as NBJHBA in the future), but White and Sutton suffered because their NA years weren't counted. Average fielder.

    *Levi Meyerle - Leecemark asked about him above. His contemporaries described him as a mediocre fielder at best. During the NA era, he was a terrible fielder. A severe ankle injury in 1877 ruined him. After that, he played in the minors for several years, and was no longer good enough for the NL.

    *Billy Nash - A fine fielder who won win shares Gold Gloves in 1888, 1889, 1890, 1892, 1893, and 1894. He was also captain of the NL champion Boston Beaneaters in 1891, 1892, and 1893.

    *Ezra Sutton - A very good fielder who was named to baseballthinkfactory's Hall of Merit in the 1908 election.

    *Deacon White - A catcher during the 1870s, he moved to third base in the 1880s. Elected to the baseballthinkfactory Hall of Merit in its first election, for 1898 (open to players who retired in 1892 or earlier), and was the top vote-getter in that election.

    *Ed Williamson - Bill James' Gold Glove winner for the 1880s decade. He hasn't been inducted into the Hall of Merit.

    In the 1894 Reach Guide, there was a small survey asking eleven old-timers to name the best baseball player, or "King Player," in history up to that point. Here are the results.

    Mark Baldwin: Voted for Cap Anson.
    Frank Bancroft: Voted for Buck Ewing
    James Hart: Declared it a tie between Ed Williamson and Hardy Richardson.
    Arthur Irwin: Voted for Ed Williamson.
    James O'Rourke: Voted for Ed Williamson.
    Fred Pfeffer: Voted for King Kelly.
    Gus Schmelz: Voted for Charlie Ferguson.
    Frank Selee: Voted for a tie between Buck Ewing and King Kelly.
    Al Spalding: Declared it a tie between George Wright and Ross Barnes.
    Oliver Tebeau: Voted for Cap Anson.
    George Wright: Voted for Cal McVey.

    There were nine people named in all. Buck Ewing, King Kelly, and Cap Anson appeared on two ballots each, while Ed Williamson appeared on three.

    If you're curious, Charlie Ferguson played from 1884 to 1887, pitched, and played in the outfield and at second. His lifetime ERA+ was 121, and lifetime OPS+ was 122. During his final season, his ERA+ and OPS+ were both 140. Unfortunately, he died of typhoid pneumonia on April 29, 1888, making him one of the biggest "What Ifs?" of all time.


    • #17
      Originally posted by AG2004
      Moving to my next position ...


      *During the 1870s, Pop Snyder was considered the top defensive catcher, but wasn't that great on offense. Looking at the decade as a whole, Deacon White was considered the top catcher; he went on to play 3B during the 1880s.

      *In the 1880s, Buck Ewing and Charlie Bennett were the top defensive catchers. James gives Chief Zimmer, not yet eligible here, his 1890s Gold Glove at catcher.

      *Jack Clements was about average defensively. He's best known for being the only left-handed-throwing catcher to have a long major league career.

      *I have to refer to Cal McVey
      Great work you're doing in these 19th century reviews. Another catcher worth a mention is John Clapp. Also, Fred Carroll, whom Bill James touts as the best "young" catcher before Bench, he was a victim of the 1890's contraction, if I'm not mistaken.

      I also think Ezra Sutton is worth a few more words. His plaque at the Hall of Merit reads:

      Ezra Sutton - 1908 - 3B/SS/1B
      16.3 seasons with: Cleveland 1870; Cleveland (NA) 1871-72; Philadelphia A’s (NA) 1872-75; Philadelphia (NL) 1876; Boston (NL) 1877-88
      Cap: Boston Beaneaters (NL)
      Two-time Stats, Inc. NL Third Baseman (1883, 1885). Three-time Win Shares NL Gold Glove winner (1878, 1883-84). Held fort at the “hot corner” for two champions (1878, 1883) and played shortstop for one other (1877). The greatest third baseman of the 19th Century. An outstanding hitter and baserunner for the position, he was also a very good fielder with a cannon arm. NL leader in Hits (1884), 3B Double Plays (1885) and 3B FA (1884). Retired owning many of the career NL third base records.
      Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

      Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.


      • #18
        Originally posted by Freakshow
        Great work you're doing in these 19th century reviews. Another catcher worth a mention is John Clapp. Also, Fred Carroll, whom Bill James touts as the best "young" catcher before Bench, he was a victim of the 1890's contraction, if I'm not mistaken.
        Thank you for the compliments. Carroll was a victim of the contraction, having had the misfortune to have a bad hand injury in 1891. His OPS+ that season was 84; his previous low OPS+ was 111 in 1885.

        Carroll also had some dominant seasons as a hitter in California's minor leagues from 1892 onwards. He pobably had major league talent during those years, but he was getting a salary comparable to some major leaguers, and he got to play in his home state instead of in the East (a place he disliked).

        And now we'll jump to the outfield and look at center fielders.


        *The NBJHBA lists the best position players in each season. The following CFs were the best position players in baseball in the given years.

        1878, 1879, 1884: Paul Hines
        1880: George Gore
        1888: Jimmy Ryan
        1891: Billy Hamilton
        1894: Hugh Duffy

        *Pete Browning, however, is listed as the top CF (among all those eligible in 1901) in the NBJHBA. Browning was a wonderful hitter; his 162 OPS+ rates him 12th all-time. He played in the AA during his peak years, though, and his fielding was absolutely dreadful. Playing 112 games in the outfield in 1886, he had a fielding percentage of .791, 86 points below the league FP. Mike Griffin is another player on James' list, falling behind Gore but ahead of Hines.

        *Paul Hines and Jack Remsen received two of James' three outfield gold gloves for the 1870s. Curt Welch and dreadful hitter Pop Corkhill won OF gold gloves for the 1880s. The four best defensive CFs of the 1890s, according to James, were Jimmy McAleer, Bill Lange, Hugh Duffy, and Steve Brodie.

        *Harry Wright is one of the three players, along with Start and Pearce, who had their peaks in the 1860s but continued to play into NA and NL years. Wright was the best hitter on his team until 1866 or 1867, when he fell into the "average" category (as far as his team went). Most of the praise from his contemporaries came for his "scientific hitting," and he probably wasn't as valuable as Pearce in the field.

        *Finally, Lip Pike broke into big-time ball in 1866. In the Pre-NA era, he was average or about average (on his teams) in hitting for average, but led his teams in total bases per game (hitting for power). Pike was known for his speed as well.
        The end of Pike's career has some controversy, though. He played in the minors in 1879 and 1880. Worcester signed him at the end of 1881; in five games, Pike hit .111, made 6 errors, and had a .647 fielding percentage. Worcester accused him of throwing games; on the other hand, Pike was 36 and the third-oldest player in the league, and the evidence consisted only of Pike's poor performance. There is no record of a hearing on the issue, and Pike was simply blacklisted by NL clubs. Pike did give a one-game farewell performance in 1887 with the AA's New York team, however.


        • #19
          how do I vote


          • #20
            yest: If you were not one of the 24 members who originally signed up on the "registration" thread, I would suggest sending JW a Private Message (PM) letting him know you are interested in partaking. He can then advise you how to place your ballot. Vote is via PM, but only those who are signed up can vote.
            You see, you spend a good deal of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. J. Bouton


            • #21
              Still continuing with position notes.


              We have to remember that defense at second base wasn't as valued then as it is today, and that 19th-century players regarded offense as being more important here.

              *Bid McPhee was the dominant defensive player of the era at this position, winning Bill James' decade gold gloves in both the 1880s and 1890s. Hardy Richardson earned a grade of "A" from James for his fielding, but McPhee won an "A+." As far as I can tell, Cupid Childs was about average on defense.

              *The position also offers interesting career vs. peak disputes. During the 1880s, Hardy Richardson led 2B in win shares. Fred Dunlap is second, but he beats McPhee because (a) Dunlap had a giant year in the Union Association and (b) McPhee didn't make his debut until 1882. McPhee earned more in his eight seasons than Dunlap did in his nine non-UA seasons during that decade.
              During the 1890s, Cupid Childs, who becomes eligible next year, led in win shares at 2B. McPhee finished second.

              *Ross Barnes is the big peak player at the position, but his career was short. He didn't have much of a pre-NA record due to his youth; this greatly contrasts to SS George Wright, who was probably the best or second best hitter on his team from 1867 to 1870. From what I've seen, Barnes appears to have been a good but not great fielder. He was injured after the 1876 season, at the same time the rule banning fair-foul bunts was instituted.
              Through the 1876 season, if a ball was bunted into fair territory and then rolled foul, the ball was considered a fair ball; this was called a fair-foul bunt. Barnes had the reputation of being the master of this type of hit. There was criticism that the fair-foul bunt stretched the defense too much; in 1873, Chadwick proposed adding a tenth man to ball teams in order for teams to be able to properly defend against this type of hit. It was much simpler to declare this a foul ball, which is what it became beginning in 1877.
              Thus, we don't know exactly what caused Barnes to cease being a great player then. It could have been injuries, or it could have been the rule change. In either case, he did have a short career. He was inducted as part of the first Hall of Merit class in 1898 over at baseballthinkfactory, but was the last one to make the cut that year.


              • #22
                --Barnes is a interesting player to highlight my different criteria between this voting and the BBF HoF voting. Compared only to 19th century players he was such a great star at his peak he made my first ballot. Compared to all players across time his short career and the weak league he played in may keep him from ever making my ballot. Meanwhile, McPhee and Richardson did not make my opening ballot here (both are candidates for the next one), but are higher in my BBFHoF queue than Barnes.
                -- None of them are amoung my top 15 2B's so any of them ever getting my vote in the other thread is highly dependent on how deep other voters are willing to go. Does my logic in ranking Barnes higher here, but lower for the BBFHoF than McPhee and Richardson make sense to anybody else? It seems the right way to go for me, but I'm willing to be persauded that it is a flawed approach.


                • #23
                  Re: signing up -- if anyone wants to sign up, go right ahead and plunk your name right here. Although I won't divulge who votes for whom, I will make who actually participates public.

                  Dudeman and CoasttoCoast, if you would confirm your participation? Yest, I've received your message as well.



                  • #24
                    that means I'm signed in?


                    • #25
                      Can I sign up to join so I can get into the Honeycomb Hideout? j/k

                      Thanks for signing me up.I thought I did on the other thread.

                      My ballot stands JW.


                      • #26
                        Still jumping around the field ...

                        NOTES ABOUT LEFT FIELD

                        *According to the NBJHBA, these are the ratings of eligible left fielders.
                        Harry Stovey (39)
                        Tip O'Neill (48)
                        Charley Jones (67)
                        Abner Dalrymple (93)

                        Note that Bill James discounts play in the 1870s and 1880s, and doesn't consider the NA at all.

                        It is also worth remembering that Jim O'Rourke was rated 37th at left field; he's not eligible, even though he ended his true major league career in 1893, because he made a token appearance at catcher in one game in 1904. Stovey actually played 550 games at first, as opposed to 519 in left; baseballthinkfactory considers him a 1B.

                        *Charley Jones won one of James' OF decade gold gloves in the 1870s. Of the other eight OF decade gold gloves, seven went to CFers, and one to a RF. Jones wanted Boston to pay his August salary on September 2, 1880, while on a road trip; he was legally entitled to this, but teams generally waited until they returned home to pay this money in order to avoid carrying large sums of cash on the road. The team wouldn't pay him, Jones refused to play until he got the money, and the NL responded by putting him on a blacklist. The AA honored the blacklist in 1882 but not 1883.

                        *Tom York suffers because he played a few years in the NA. From the statistics at baseball-reference, he appears to have been an above-average hitter and an exceptional fielder as well.

                        *Finally, here's something I saw online. It may not be entirely accurate, or may have applied only until the 1870s; I'm not sure.

                        Al Spink on left field in the early days.

                        "Left field has always been considered the hardest place to fill in the outer works."
                        "It was especially hard in the early days of the professional game, when the pitching was slower than it is now, when the ball contained more rubber than the ball used at the present time and when hits to the left field, long rangy hits, were the order of the day in nearly each and every game."
                        "So it happened that in the earliest days of the professional game the fleetest men on each team were assigned to positions at left field."

                        "The Left Fielders," from "The National Game," 2nd edition, 1911.

                        It is possible that the defensive value of left fielders in York's era was about equal to the defensive value of center fielders today.


                        • #27
                          Sorry I thought being a poster on the Fever signed me up....

                          Sign me up then.

                          Do I have to send another ballot JW?


                          • #28
                            Now jumping to the other side of the outfield ...

                            NOTES ABOUT RIGHT FIELD

                            *Jim Fogarty, in the 1880s, was the only RF to win one of James' decade gold gloves for outfielders. However, he played almost as many games in center as in right, and he was an average hitter at best.
                            I've heard statements that right field, not first base, was the place where teams of the nineteenth century placed their defensive duds, but I haven't studied the issue, and I'd have to check it.

                            *Speaking of defense, Hugh Nicol won 4.38 defensive win shares per 1000 innings in right field. That's an all-time record; from what I've seen, the second best is Jim Rivera, a RF of the 1950s, who had 3.66 DWS/1000 innings. Nicol also managed to steal 138 bases during the 1887 season. The schedule called for 140 games, but the St. Louis team played only 135.
                            I'm mentioning Nicol here because his record was interesting. Twice he finished in the top three in drawing walks. This didn't keep him from having a lifetime OBP 8 points below park-adjusted league norms. His slugging was .285, compared to a league norm of .350, and his lifetime OPS+ was just 78. His hitting ability was as bad as his defensive play was good.

                            *Mike Tiernan's defense was about average, while Sam Thompson was slightly below average. King Kelly's defensive statistics are just completely weird.
                            Kelly recorded 61.6 outfield assists per 162 games. That's 50% better than anyone else. Tommy McCarthy had 36.5 kills per 162 games, which is the best record among anybody playing over 1000 games in the outfield. His career FA in the outfield is .820, which is an all-time worst. I don't know what was going on there.

                            *Here are win shares per 162 games for eligible RFs, as well as for Sam Thompson, who would have been eligible if he had not made a token appearance in 1906.

                            King Kelly 30.95
                            Mike Tiernan 27.55
                            Sam Thompson 27.17
                            Oyster Burns 26.75
                            Ed Swartwood 26.40
                            Orator Shaffer 23.09
                            Tommy McCarthy 21.60

                            *How did Tommy McCarthy ever make it into Cooperstown?


                            • #29
                              I'm currently reading BJHBBA, and just went over that info on King Kelly that James discusses. I'm wondering if it just boils down to the fact that everyone ran on Kelly on balls hit to right, because he apparently misplayed a LOT of them (wonder what percentage of the errors he made occurred while fielding groundballs that were already hits, as opposed to flyballs), and he threw out a lot of runners on balls he didn't misplay. Or perhaps he had a scattergun for an arm, and a lot of the errors were throwing errors. Again, everyone would run on him, and by law of averages he would manage SOME good throws. Sure would be interesting to know, because it is a strange set of stats.
                              You see, you spend a good deal of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. J. Bouton


                              • #30
                                I've edited this out and logged your ballot, Chunk. I don't want the ballots made public this time around... though I suppose you can divulge who you voted for in your arguments.




                                had to do it.
                                Last edited by J W; 04-08-2005, 08:56 PM.
                                32 Mike Hampton
                                15 Tim Hudson
                                30 Horacio Ramirez
                                29 John Smoltz
                                52 John Thomson
                                23 Johnny Estrada
                                14 Julio Franco
                                1 Rafael Furcal
                                22 Marcus Giles
                                10 Chipper Jones
                                19 Adam LaRoche
                                33 Brian Jordan R/R 6-1 225 03/29/67
                                43 Raul Mondesi R/R 5-11 230 03/12/71
                                25 Andruw Jones


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