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How Good Was Pie? Is Pie STILL a Top 10 3Bman?

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  • How Good Was Pie? Is Pie STILL a Top 10 3Bman?

    I remember as a kid when Pie Traynor was universally called the best ever 3rd baseman. I'm talking around 1957-62. I had a coffee table soft back book, called Big Time Baseball, and Pie was the all time 3rd B. (The rest were: Gehrig, Hornsby, Wagner, Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio, W. Johnson, Dickey)

    And I never heard anything different until reading Bill James' first Historical Abstract, 1985, were he opines, "Thirty years ago Pie Traynor was generally recognized as the greatest third baseman of all time. . . . With the flood of high-quality third basemen of the post war era, Traynor can no longer be considered near the top at the position, and with the development of better understanding of the significance of offensive statistics, there have arisen serious questions about whether he belonged there at the time."

    That was the very 1st time where I had heard Pie put down, and since then, probably due to Bill James writing that, many others have felt empowered to put him down and crap all over him. And that just doesn't sit well with me.

    Mathews' bat, and Robinson's glove were valid competition, but to kick Pie out of the top 10? No way. Flood of post-war high quality 3rd basemen? There was Mathews, Robinson, Santo, both Boyers, Kell. Where's his vaunted "flood"? All better than Traynor? Prove it.

    I'd hope we can settle this issue, once and for all, here at The Fever. While I might not rate Pie at the top any more, I certainly don't see any need to declare open season on a wonderful player, and take cheap shots, such as "He doesn't rate in the top 10, and never did."

    To me, that's just pissing all over history. And it just isn't true. The only competition Traynor had for all time honors, from 1930-60, was Jimmy Collins. I just can't rate Home Run Baker in the same class, due to his clumsy defense. Traynor was a superb defender, at the Hot Corner, where reflexes are paramount. The slogan used to be in his day, "Hornsby doubled down the left field line, and Traynor threw him out." His defense was impeccable, and his hitting was very good, in a sea of fancy high average contact hitters. And Pie Traynor held his own quite nicely, thank you. Listening to ElHalo defend Pie all alone, reminds me of Davey Crockett, swinging his ol' Betsy, on the walls of the Alamo.

    Here are my top 3rd basemen, where I give bonus value to defense.

    1. Schmidt
    2. Brett
    3. Santo
    4. Traynor
    5. Mathews
    6. Boggs
    7. Robinson
    8. Collins
    9. Ken Boyer
    10. Bill Madlock
    11. Judy Johnson, Negro leagues
    12. Oliver Marcell, Negro leagues
    13. John McGraw, pre- 1900
    14. Ossie Bluege
    15. Willie Kamm
    16. Bill Bradley
    17. Freddie Lindstrom
    18. George Kell
    19. Larry Gardner
    20. Clete Boyer

    The order after Santo is totally fluid.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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    Pie's Relative Stats:

    ----Relative BA-----Rel.Slg.-------Rel.Onbase----Rel.ISO-------OPS+
    ---------1.08---------1.04------------1.02----------------------107 (712th)

    leecemark; November 12, 2004, 07:44 AM
    The Final Tally
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1. Mike Schmidt 183
    2. George Brett 162
    3. Eddie Mathews 152
    4. Wade Boggs 133
    5. Ron Santo 87
    6. Frank Baker 79
    7. Brooks Robinson 77
    8. Pie Traynor 63
    9. Ken Boyer 23
    10. Darrell Evans 17

    --Schmidt was a run away winner, which I'm sure is no surprise to most of us. There were alot of people getting votes and the 9th and 10th place winners were each actually mentioned by less than 1/3 of voters each with quite a few players having higher finishes on somebody's ballot than either Boyer or Evans.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    538280; 11-16-2005, 12:18 PM
    The results are now in. It wasn't particularly close, Mike Schmidt ran away with this one. These are the final results:

    1. Mike Schmidt-177 (14)
    2. Eddie Mathews-122
    3. George Brett-122
    4. Wade Boggs-98 (1)
    5. Ron Santo-87
    6. Frank Baker-50
    7. Brooks Robinson-47
    8. Pie Traynor-28
    9. Ken Boyer-20
    10. Paul Molitor-17
    10. Jimmy Collins-17
    10. Darrell Evans-17
    13. Ray Dandridge-12

    No one else received more than 10 points.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bill Burgess; May 9, 2007, 03:41 PM
    Here are the results of our 3Base poll, with the revised totals included from AG2004's ballot.

    3Base:
    1. Mike Schmidt - 154
    2. George Brett - 136
    3. Eddie Matthews - 117
    4. Wade Boggs - 102
    5. Ron Santo - 69
    6. Frank Baker - 60
    7. Brooks Robinson - 42
    8. Paul Molitor - 40
    9. Jimmy Collins - 31
    10. Pie Traynor - 21
    11. Chipper Jones - 17
    12. Pete Rose - 10
    13. John McGraw - 6
    13. Scott Rolen - 6
    13. Ray Dandridge - 6
    16. Clete Boyer - 4
    16. Edgar Martinez - 4
    18. Stan Hack - 2
    18. Harmon Killebrew - 2
    18. Darrell Evans - 2
    21. Judy Johnson - 1

    What we need more than anything else here, is for a stat person to do the Relative BA/SLG/OBP for Pie & all of his fellow 3rd basemen peers. I would if I could, but square roots were not embedded into my gene pool.

    And look! Voila! Someone has!
    Code:
    .....Relative BA/OBP/SLG
    1. Schmidt....100/113/134
    2. Mathews....104/115/128
    3. Brett......116/112/123
    4. Baker......115/109/127
    5. Santo......103/108/116
    6. Boggs......122/123/107
    7. Collins....105/101/114
    8. Hack.......110/117/103
    9. Molitor....116/111/111
    10. Boyer.....107/104/112
    11. Traynor...108/102/105
    12. Robinson..106/099/105
    13. Nettles....95/101/109
    14. Rosen.....107/111/126
    I date all my baseball photos using the following book. (Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official ML BB Guide, Researched, Illustrated & Written by Marc Okkonen, 1991, 1993)

    Also, the following website, hosted by the Hall of Fame, mainly using the same book above, but also using images after 1993, has assisted me in dating some of the photos. http://exhibits.baseballhalloffame.o...e.htm#database

    On this photographic gallery, I have attempted, using the book above, to date all the photos. If I caption a photo with the following, John Smith, Cubs OF, 1910-13, that means that the photo was taken sometime between 1910-13, when the player was on the Cubs. It does NOT mean that the player was only on the Cubs in that time frame. He might have been on the Cubs from 1900-18, but the photo was only taken between 1910-13.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    How Good Was Pie? Thread/Photos---BB Ref

    -------Pie Traynor, Pirates' 3B, 1923--------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1922


    -------------Pirates' 3B, 1923-31 ----------------------------------1925-----------------------------------1925


    -------------------------1920-----------------------------------------------------------1925


    -------------------- Pie Traynor, Pirates' 3B, 1933----------------------------------September 30, 1925


    --------------1932------------------------------1923-31--------------------------1937



    -----Pie Traynor, Pirates' 3B, 1923-31-------------------------------------------------------------1927-----BB Reference


    Pirates' manager, 1938-39---------------------------------------------------------1925


    --------------------1923-31---------------------------------------------------------------------------1931[/B]
    69
    Pie was the best 3rd baseman ever to play the position.
    5.80%
    4
    Pie was the 2nd best 3rd baseman ever to play the position.
    4.35%
    3
    I think Pie was the 3rd best at that position.
    0%
    0
    I think Pie was the 4th best.
    7.25%
    5
    5th best
    10.14%
    7
    6th best
    4.35%
    3
    7th best
    4.35%
    3
    8th best 3rd baseman ever to play 3B.
    5.80%
    4
    9th best.
    4.35%
    3
    10th best
    4.35%
    3
    11th
    2.90%
    2
    12th
    2.90%
    2
    13th
    0%
    0
    14th
    2.90%
    2
    15th
    2.90%
    2
    16th
    0%
    0
    17th
    0%
    0
    18th or below 18th best 3B.
    11.59%
    8
    I still rank Pie in my Top 10 ever at his position.
    28.99%
    20
    I no longer rank Pie in the Top 10 at 3B.
    28.99%
    20
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-28-2011, 09:09 AM.

  • #2
    Pie wasn't the best of all time, but he had some good years (he batted .366 in 1930)

    ----------------------------1925
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-04-2010, 02:39 PM.
    It's not the pace of life that I mind. It's the sudden stop at the life.

    Comment


    • #3
      Heres mine at 3rd.

      1.Schmidt
      2.Mathews
      3.Rosen
      4.Brett
      5.Traynor
      6.Robinson
      7.K.Boyer
      8.Boggs
      9.Kell
      10.Santo
      "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

      Comment


      • #4
        .......Relative BA/OBP/SLG
        1. Schmidt.........100/113/134
        2. Mathews........104/115/128
        3. Brett.............116/112/123
        4. Baker.............115/109/127
        5. Santo............103/108/116
        6. Boggs............122/123/107
        7. Collins............105/101/114
        8. Hack..............110/117/103
        9. Molitor............116/111/111
        10. Boyer.............107/104/112
        11. Traynor......108/102/105
        12. Robinson.........106/99/105
        13. Nettles...........95/101/109
        14. Rosen.............107/111/126
        Code:
        --------------------------AVG--------OBP--------SLG-----
        Mike Schimdt -----.267 (.267) .380 (.335) .527 (.394) 100% 113% 134%
        Ron Santo---------.277 (.268) .362 (.334) .463 (.399) 103% 108% 116%
        Eddie Mathews-----.271 (.260) .376 (.326) .509 (.399) 104% 115% 128%
        George Brett----- .305 (.264) .369 (.330) .487 (.396) 115% 111% 123%
        Wade Boggs------- .328 (.268) .415 (.337) .443 (.413) 122% 123% 107%
        Pie Traynor ----- .320 (.295) .362 (.353) .435 (.412) 108% 103% 106%
        Brooks Robinson --.267 (.253) .322 (.324) .401 (.383) 106%  99% 105%
        Ken Boyer-------- .287 (.269) .349 (.335) .462 (.412) 107% 104% 112%
        Jimmy Collins---- .294 (.279) .343 (.339) .409 (.367) 105% 101% 111%
        Frank Baker------ .307 (.266) .363 (.334) .442 (.349) 115% 109% 127%
        Now of course these are raw unadjusted numbers, but as a hitter Traynor doesn't seem to stack up with the elite men at his position. In average he is 4th in percentage above his league, but its a wide gap between him and the guys ahead of him. Plus Traynor doesn't seperate himself from the pack below him.

        For OBP, Traynor ends up looking even worse. His OBP differential is 5 points less than his batting average differential, the third biggest drop of the group. His differential score is the second lowest as well. Slugging wise, Traynor finishes only ahead of Robinson.

        Lets take a quick look at speed. None of these guys were real speedsters, but a few of them could run on occassion. Below is a list of their career stolen bases and the number of years they played. Traynor looks like he is 5th, but there is a wide margin between him the players below him.

        Baker (13 years) 235
        Brett (21) 201
        Collins (14) 194
        Schimdt (18) 174
        Traynor (17) 158
        Boyer (15) 105
        Mathews (17) 68
        Santo (15) 35
        Robinson (23) 28
        Boggs (18) 24

        So currently Traynor appears to to be the weakest hitter of the group and a good baserunner, but not the best. If he is going to make a case for the top 5, it would need to be on his defense.
        Code:
        --------------------------FP--------Range
        Mike Schimdt ---- .961 (.956) 3.35 (2.87) 100.5% 117%
        Ron Santo-------- .954 (.948) 3.07 (2.58) 100.6% 119%
        Eddie Mathews---- .956 (.950) 2.92 (2.68) 100.6% 109%
        George Brett----- .951 (.953) 2.98 (2.58)  99.8% 113%
        Wade Boggs------- .962 (.951) 2.62 (2.33) 101.1% 112%
        Pie Traynor ----- .947 (.947) 3.12 (2.82) 100.0% 111%
        Brooks Robinson-- .971 (.953) 3.10 (2.74) 102.1% 113%
        Ken Boyer-------- .952 (.950) 2.92 (2.64) 100.2% 111%
        Jimmy Collins---- .929 (.907) 3.61 (3.33) 102.4% 108%
        Frank Baker------ .943 (.937) 3.43 (3.24) 100.6% 106%
        We see Traynor does not exactly stand out from the pack here either. His fielding percentage differential is the second lowest and is dead even with the league. There are 5 third basemen with better range factors. Also surprising was that these numbers do not seem to indicate that Home Run Baker was a subpar fielder, as Bill implies.

        Looking at the numbers, I'd probably take Collins over Traynor. They're very close as hitters, but I think Collins might have an edge there. Collins is also a faster runner and a more sure handed fielder. Traynor does beat him in range factor. I'd say they are close, probably about a coin flip. As to Baker vs. Traynor, I'll give Traynor the edge in the field based on his reputation that I have heard touted here, but the numbers seem to indicate Baker was an above average fielder himself. Baker was also a faster runner and far better hitter. Overall, I'll take Baker.

        I look at Traynor as an inferior version of Wade Boggs. Boggs is a far better hitter, beating Traynor is average, OBP, and slugging when compared to the league. Boggs is slower, but only 3 third basemen have a better fielding differential than him and Boggs has a slightly better range factor to boot.

        If I had to rank the 10 guys above, it would go something like this:

        1. Mike Schimdt
        2. Eddie Mathews
        3. George Brett
        4. Wade Boggs
        5. Frank Baker
        6. Ron Santo
        7. Jimmy Collins
        8. Ken Boyer
        9. Pie Traynor
        10. Brooks Robinson
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-26-2008, 02:30 PM.
        "I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame."
        - Sammy Sosa

        "Get a comfy chair, Sammy, cause its gonna be a long wait."
        - Craig Ashley (AKA Windy City Fan)

        Comment


        • #5
          To me, Traynor is one of the 6 best 3B of all time. Schmidt, Brett and Boggs made my all-time Dream Team. Brett made it mostly because of his .390 year in 1980 (remember my DT goes by best single-seasons). However, when and if I create Dream Team II, Traynor will definitely be one of the 3B, along with Eddie Mathews and Brooks Robinson. Those choices are easy.
          To me, Boggs is the most underrated 3B ever. I'm glad to finally see him getting respect on this thread. His .328 avg leads all 3B! Need I say more?
          Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

          Comment


          • #6
            --Traynor was a very good hitter for average, but certainly not great. Well below Boggs and Brett in that department. He wouldn't take a walk and has a medicore OBP as a result. He didn't have much power -much further behind Schmidt and Mathews here than he was behind Boggs and Brett at average. He was also way behind Santo, Boyer, Baker, Nettles and even Robinson in this department. He has a great reputation defensively, but statisically looks more good than great. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was one of the best ever with the glove, but I wouldn't put him ahead of Robinson or Collins. If he was better than Schmidt or Boyer or Nettles it sure isn't provable. We had a lengthy debate on this subject a few days ago as a side discussion on the "Honus Wagner the 4th Best SS?" thread. I spit out a pile of numbers there, that I won't bore you with here, but if you're interested you know where to look.
            --Add up Traynor's total package and I see a very good 3B. He was the best of the 20s and I'd say the 3rd or 4th best prior to 1950. Jimmy Collins and Home Run Baker are IMO quite a bit more valuable. I also have Stan Hack ahead of Traynor, but that is open to question. The number of quality players at third since 1950 is much higher than it was before and Traynor has fallen to the point where I have a hard time seeign him in my top 10. As I see it:
            1. Mike Schmidt: best by a wide margin
            2. Edide Mathews: Close as a hitter, but Schmidt's glove/legs much better
            3. George Brett: Power shortage puts him behind Mathews
            4. Frank Baker: best before 1950. Peak maybe best period.
            5. Ron Santo: Why is he not in Cooperstown
            6. Wade Boggs: On base machine
            7. Jimmy Collins: Great glove and very good bat for his time
            Numbers 8-13 could easily be shuffled around depending on what you're looking for. This is how I have it (today anyway).
            8. Stan Hack: Best of the 30s, drop in NL numbers helps Traynor vs Hack
            9. Paul Molitor: If he really qualifies at 3B
            10. Ken Boyer: the most underrated great 3B
            11. Pie Traynor: already said enough
            12. Brooks Robinson: better peak than Traynot, but had some miserable years
            13. Graig Nettles: low BA, but glove and power won alot of games

            Comment


            • #7
              If anybody has a copy of Traynor's home/road splits, I'd love to see them. Because I really don't think he was helped out that much by Forbes Field.

              It's my firm (very firm) opinion that Traynor is easily the best contact hitting 3rd baseman of all time. The only guys who are close are Brett, who's not as good as Traynor, and Boggs, who was made by Fenway.

              If you go by SLG and HR, then yes, Traynor's power numbers aren't as good as a lot of 3rd basemen. If you go by RBI's, then nobody was as good of a power hitting 3rd baseman as Pie except for Schmidt.

              As for his fielding... yeah, statistically he's more good than great. But if you go by straight statistics... Mike Schmidt is much better than Brooks Robinson, and Terry Pendleton is head and shoulders above either of them. I don't know too many people who'd agree with either statement. I'll stick with Pie as my best defensive 3rd baseman.

              So, to me, Pie's the best contact hitting third baseman ever, the best defensive third baseman ever, and damn near the best run producing third baseman ever... that makes him the best third baseman ever. If you want to drop him a few slots from the top, that's fine... but I can't see a realistic argument for sliding him out of the top 5.

              Howard Groskloss, who played with Pie in the early 30's and is one of the few living players to have played with him, said of Pie a few years ago: "He was the greatest third baseman ever and one of the greatest all time players." No less a baseball mind than John McGraw called Pie "the greatest team player" that McGraw had ever seen. He was a huge "intangibles" player... one whose contribution came in much more strongly than it showed in the stat sheet.

              If you want to put Mike Schmidt ahead of Pie, hey, go ahead. If you want to put a guy with a .267 career average ahead of a guy with a career .320... that's fine. There are people who believe that Mark McGwire and his career .263 mark are better than Lou Gehrig, too.
              "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

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              Comment


              • #8
                Since Mark mentioned that he'd made a very relavant post on the Honus Wagner - 4th Best SS thread, I'd thought I'd go retrieve it and some of ElHalo's rebuttal to it. I think that they are both germane to the debate.

                But what I still insist is that until we get a truly qualified comparison for relative BA/SLG/OBA/OPS we're all just flailing and pre-supposing. And speculation just won't quell this debate. We require certainty. Certitude. Where are our stat men when we need them?!

                Defensively, I rate them in the following groups.

                1. Robinson, Billy Cox
                2. Traynor, Bluege,
                3. Schmidt, Collins, Kamm, Bradley

                leecemark:
                --"ElHalo, I think you missed my point in the earlier post on Forbes Field. What I said was Forbes was a huge negative for power hitters, but an excellent park for line drive, gap type hitters - like Pie Traynor. Forbes yielded home runs at only 69% of the league average, but allowed 2% more runs than the league average. Now 2% isn't anything to worry about in judging a hitter. It was basically a nuetral park offensively. However, if you have a nuetral park without the benefit of home runs that suggests it gave up hits, including many more doubles and triples than the average park. Traynor definately lost soem HR to forbes, but that wasn't his game anyway. He didn't hit them on the road either. Forbes was a significant plus park for a player of Traynor's type.
                --Traynor does have the second best BA all time amoung thridbasemen. However, that also needs to be looked at in context. The National League BA for the years Traynor played was .295. If you were just 5% better than average you hit .310. Sure Traynor drove in nearly as many runs per year as Schmidt - there were alot more runs being scored in the 1920s. Traynor never led the league and seldom his team. For example, when the 1925 Pirates won the pennant they averaged 5.96 runs per game. Traynor drive in 106 good for 3rd on the team. When the 1980 Phillies won the pennant they averaged 4.49 runs per game (2nd in the NL). Schmidt drove in 121 leading the league and leading his team by 34.
                --I know you've conceded that Traynor has no arguement using OPS+, and I have some issues with the stat myself, but in this case the numbers are so overwhelming against Traynor you really can't argue them away:
                Traynor's best year was 125.
                Schmidt's best year was 199, he had 13 better than Traynor's best
                Mathew's best year was 172, he had 10 better than Traynor's best
                Brett's best year was 202, he had 12 better than Traynor's best
                Baker's best year was 174, he had 8 better than Traynor's best
                Boggs' best year was 173, he had 9 better than Traynor's best
                Santo's best year was 164, he had 8 better than Traynor's best
                Robinson's best year was 145, he had 3 equal or better than Traynor's best
                Boyer's best year was 143, he had 3 better than Traynor's best
                Nettles' best year was 135, he had 2 better than Traynor's best
                Hack's best year was 142, he had 5 better than traynor's best
                Molitor's best year was 161, he had 9 better than Traynor's best
                Collins' best year was 142, he had 4 better than Traynor's best
                --Even if I were to agree that Traynor was the best defensive thridbaseman ever, he has alot of ground to make up offensively on all of these guys. Robinson, Schmidt, Boyer, Nettles and Collins were all outstanding defensive players who Traynor couldn't possible have more than a slight defensive advantage over regardless of how good he was. Only Molitor might be described as below average defensively.
                --Maybe Traynor could make up the difference with his glove or legs or some sort of intangible factor on the back half of this group. If you want to call him a better all around player than Brooks Robinson I'll give you that much. He was not nearly as good as Schmidt, Mathews, Brett, Baker, Boggs or Santo."

                ElHalo:
                "Mark,

                Forbes field was a great linedrive hitters park... for lefties. For righties, not so much. Guess which one Pie was?

                That .295 average is deceiving. That's park adjusted. Let me give you an example...

                In 1927, Pie hit .342. Baseballreference lists the league average that year on Pie's page at .299. In reality that year, the league average was .282... part of that is made up of pitchers being taken out of the adjusted league average, but much of it is a park adjustment. Forbes Field's park adjustment that year was 5% (105 park factor)... 5% that Traynor never got to see, because he hit from the wrong side of the plate.

                No, Traynor never led his league in RBI... but he was in the top 10 9 times in 13 full seasons... not exactly shabby. George Brett, by comparison, was top 10 in RBI 4 times in 20 seasons; Eddie Mathews was top ten 7 times in 16 seasons. Nettles cracked the top 10 3 times; Santo 8 times; Boggs, never.

                As for OPS+... ok, Pie didn't hit homers or draw walks much. That's fine. Ichiro, in his four years in the league, has never finished in the top 10 in OPS or SLG, and has finished in the top 10 in OBP only once, with a tenth place showing. But I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to say he's not a top 10 hitter in the AL... matter of fact, I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to say he's not been a top 5 hitter in the AL since he came to the states.

                There are others things to talk about... Pie was top 10 in MVP voting 6 times. By comparison, Mathews had only 4 top 10 finishes; Brett, 5. Santo and Boggs had 4. Nettles, 2.

                Offensively, the only 3Bman who really stands out to me as head and shoulders above Pie is Schmidt... and Schmidt's BA really, really, really drops his value in my mind. If we're talking in terms of OPS+, I'd probably say that the fact that Schmidt has a .267 career BA would probably cause me to drop at least 35 points off his career OPS+ in rating his offensive value... there is no excuse for a star major league player to ever have a career BA below .275.

                So, again... Traynor is the number 1 all time 3Bman.

                Postnote... I should point out: I'm not specifically discriminating against Schmidt here with this. Guys like Joe Morgan, Phil Rizzuto, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey and, to a lesser extent because of his position, Johnny Bench, all get the down arrow because of their inexcusable BA's. I lop off 30 or 35 points worth of career OPS+, and go from there. No amount of home runs or plate discipline can make up for an inability to but the bat on the ball."

                ElHalo:
                "Mark,

                I didn't at all admit that the BA at Forbes was 17 points higher than the BA for the league in general.

                I said that, in 1927, the BA listed at baseballreference.com was 17 points higher than the league BA. But the BA's listed at baseballreference.com, adjusted by park, aren't just the BA's attained by hitters at that park.

                What they do is, get the total park factor... 105, 107, 98, whatever. Then they divide that number by 100, to get an index to 1... 1.05, 1.07, 0.98, etc. Then they take the square root of that number, and multiply it by the actual league batting average, to get the "adjusted" league BA for that particular park.

                Point being... for a park like Fenway, which is much easier on righties than on lefties, the adjustment factor is going to be the same... and could be completely unrepresentative of actual reality. If there were a lot of runs scored at Forbes because of the short right field wall, even if it was a total negative for BA... BA would be adjusted up for the park as a whole, because there is no "BA factor"... just a total park factor.

                Speaking of which, I'm curious why you seem to think that the deep power alleys in Forbes' Left field harms contact hitters... it's generally thought that Death Valley in Yankee stadium, which was similarly large, and similarly needed a LF'er of great range, was extremely hard on RH hitters... and the (admittedly quick and informal) numbers I was looking at earlier tended to show that LH'ers had a much easier time of it than righties in Forbes.

                As for the other guys you mention as greater contact hitters than Traynor... well, start with Boggs. Everybody and their brother knows that Fenway is a HUGE hitter's haven... what with the Green Monster, the Pesky Pole, etc... well, you know what? When Boggs had his greatest average seasons, in 85-88, Fenway had a park factor of 103, 100, 102, and 104... why? Couldn't tell you. How was Fenway a neutral park in 1986? Don't know, but Boggs gets full credit for his BA in 86 (even though everybody knows that if anybody was made by Fenway, it was Boggs, with his line drives off the Green Monster), while Traynor's was consistently degraded because of a LH hitter's advantage he never got.

                If you just flat index the numbers that baseballreference.com gives you, then Kell and Baker might seem to be better average hitters that Traynor. But that's just flat not true. I'd really, really like to see a relative BA for Traynor that's not park adjusted... and one of these days I'll sit down and do it... won't be incredibly hard, since pulling pitchers out is the hardest part, and that's not necessary for leagues with no DH.

                My fingers are twitching, itching to put Pepper Martin in the top 3 3Bmen of all time... but I'll refrain. Everybody who saw both Baker and Traynor were pretty much unanimous in saying Traynor was better. The guys post 1950 with the best arguments are Schmidt, Mathews, and Brett... and I really do basically dismiss Schmidt and Mathews out of hand. I wouldn't want either one of them on my team, regardless of how many HR's they hit... BA's like that are simply inexcusable. There's really no way around that simple fact. Brett... Brett was a very, very good player. I remember watching him and liking him a lot. But he's no Traynor.

                If I'm ranking 3Bmen... specifically leaving Pepper Martin out of the discussion... it would go:

                1. Traynor
                2. Brett
                3. Baker

                Then everybody else... that's pretty much just that. Boggs gets downgraded because of his abuse of the Green Monster (he was ok, but not truly impressive, with the Yanks). Mathews and Schmidt get the boot for temerity (fun fact... even if they were paid the same amount of money and were equal defensively, I'd rather have Tony Clark than Jason Giambi play 1B for the Yankees... they're both equally useless at this point in getting the bat on the ball, but at least Clark doesn't have pretentions of being an All Star). Traynor's easily better than everyone else. That's pretty much all I have to say on this."


                I'd say this exchange between leecemark/ElHalo furthered the quality of the debate nicely.

                Any takers re: the Relative BA/SLG/OBP/OPS? C'mon, guys? We need your help here. ElHalo" Would this be too much for you? RMB? What about it?

                I refuse to believe that Robinson/Boggs outhit Pie until I see the stat proof with my own eyes. And when I see it, I'll believe it.

                Bill Burgess
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 01-21-2007, 10:44 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElHalo
                  If you want to put Mike Schmidt ahead of Pie, hey, go ahead. If you want to put a guy with a .267 career average ahead of a guy with a career .320... that's fine. There are people who believe that Mark McGwire and his career .263 mark are better than Lou Gehrig, too.
                  What's interesting about that is that the guy with the .267 average had a significantly higher OBP (.380 to .362) than the guy with the .320 average, and a much higher slugging percentage (.527 to .435). I'll take the guy with the higher OBP and higher SLP every time, thank you...
                  Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-10-2005, 02:25 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by baclightning
                    What's interesting about that is that the guy with the .267 average had a significantly higher OBP (.380 to .362) than the guy with the .320 average, and a much higher slugging percentage (.527 to .435). I'll take the guy with the higher OBP and higher SLP every time, thank you...
                    Depends on what your team needs. If I was down one in the bottom of the ninth and a man was on third, I'd pick Pie over Schmidt because he has a better chance to slap him in. There's a good chance Schmidt may strike out in that situation. If I really needed a HR, of course I'll take Schmidt. I will admit that Schmidt's lifetime .267 BA is pretty darn low. You want base hits, take Pie. You want walks and HRs, take Schmidt, but you'll also have to live with the K's.
                    Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Windy City
                      If I had to rank the 10 guys above, it would go something like this:

                      1. Mike Schmidt
                      2. Eddie Mathews
                      3. George Brett
                      4. Wade Boggs
                      5. Frank Baker
                      6. Ron Santo
                      7. Jimmy Collins
                      8. Ken Boyer
                      9. Pie Traynor
                      10. Brooks Robinson
                      Thanks for your great job of summarizing the relevant stats to guide this discussion.

                      Prior to 1960, the three best MLB third basemen ever were generally listed as Frank ("Homerun") Baker, Jimmy Collins and Pie Traynor,with Traynor almost always ranked first in this group. In those days we relied almost solely on "raw numbers" rather than adjusted to league average or park adjusted; and "batting average" was the most respected of all hitting stats.

                      These biases all favored Traynor over Collins and Baker at that time, so he was widely regarded as the best-ever third baseman to that time. Pie had the highest (raw) BA, and Baker's homerun power and slugging pct. advantage seemed trivial when compared with power hitters after Ruth. Traynor happened to enjoy his best hitting years when the whole NL went nuts, so his raw BA looks better than after adjustment to league norms.

                      Strange to say it today, but fielding percentage was then the most used stat for a fielder -- before Range Factor came into common use. Again Traynor does better on (raw) fielding percentage (without adjustment for era).

                      I agree pretty much with your overall ranking here. Without doubt the best third basemen ever were Schmidt, Brett, Mathews and Boggs.
                      I might also rank Santo ahead of Baker and Collins -- which says the 4 or 5 best third basemen ever all played after 1960. Traynor was highly regarded before 1960 because his competition was so weak.

                      And "on further review" we now view the careers of Jimmy Collins and Frank Baker as better than originally believed (and better than Traynor's) because we now value other numbers (especially OBP and fielding range factor) ahead of raw BA and raw fielding %. At least seven MLB third basemen should be ranked ahead of Pie Traynor.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-10-2005, 02:20 PM.
                      Luke

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I didn't rank them either, but it is a shame that Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson don't get mentioned.

                        Ray Dandridge-Those who saw him play considered him to be the best fielding 3rd baseman in baseball history, Negro or MLB!! His fielding often was compared to Brooks Robinson's after Brooks came up and many claimed Dandridge had the better arm.


                        Judy Johnson-Johnson was often called the "Black Pie Traynor". Johnson was known for his grace at intelligent play at 3rd base, and was a solid line drive hitter who posted BA of .406 in 1929 and .391, .369, and .392 in other seasons.
                        "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ElHalo
                          If you want to put a guy with a .267 career average ahead of a guy with a career .320... that's fine. There are people who believe that Mark McGwire and his career .263 mark are better than Lou Gehrig, too.
                          Always with the batting averages El Halo

                          Let's try a few other numbers out. Who would you rather have, a player with a career a +107 OPS+ (Traynor) or a player with a career +147 OPS+ (Schmidt)? And since I know you also like to look at peaks, Schmidt topped out at +199, while Traynor never got above +125, and that was during a golden era for offense.

                          Here a few more numbers - Schmidt averaged 37 homers a year while Traynor averaged only 5. Schmidt's career OBP was .380, Traynor's was .362 - so even though Pie batted 50 points higher than Schmidt, he still got on base much less than Schmidt. Schmidt edges Traynor in SB's as well.

                          It would appear that Pie was a very one-dimensional batter - he could hit for good average (during a time when the league average was an extremely high .295 anyway), but couldn't offer much else at the plate in that he didn't get on base much outside of hits and that he had extremely little power. So it's very narrow to favor Pie or Schmidt based purely on average, because Schmidt was most definitely the better player in most every other facet of the game. But go ahead, you pick Pie for your team because he hit .320 during a time when the average player was hitting nearly .300, while I pick the better player (including batting), Schimdt, to man the hot corner for my team and we'll see which player contributes more...

                          Also, I don't agree that Pie was the best contact hitting 3B. Boggs not only had a higher career average (.328 to .320), Boggs' average was 60 points above the league average, Pie's was only 25. Even with taking into consideration Boggs' advantage from playing at Fenway, I don't think you can make up that huge discrepancy in how much better a hitter Boggs was in his day than Traynor was in his day. Boggs' tremendous plate discipline (.415 career OBP) and hitting technique had much more to do with why he was a great hitter than playing at Fenway did.
                          Last edited by DoubleX; 08-16-2004, 12:00 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DoubleX
                            Always with the batting averages El Halo

                            Let's try a few other numbers out. Who would you rather have, a player with a career a +107 OPS+ (Traynor) or a player with a career +147 OPS+ (Schmidt)? And since I know you also like to look at peaks, Schmidt topped out at +199, while Traynor never got above +125, and that was during a golden era for offense.

                            Here a few more numbers - Schmidt averaged 37 homers a year while Traynor averaged only 5. Schmidt's career OBP was .380, Traynor's was .362 - so even though Pie batted 50 points higher than Schmidt, he still got on base much less than Schmidt. Schmidt edges Traynor in SB's as well.
                            Well, you do forget to mention Traynor's RBI's... he might have the best RBI/HR ratio of any player in the post dead ball era. And ordinarily it doesn't really matter that much to me for a hitter, but Pie's got one of the best K rates of any hitter ever.

                            As for Schmidt's OPS+ advantage... ordinarily I'm a big believer in OPS+, but if a player's got a career BA below .275, I really do just dismiss him out of hand. That's completely unacceptable for a position player that's not a catcher. That's the reason that I can't possibly consider Schmidt the best 3Bman of all time, that's why Joe Morgan doesn't crack my top 50 position players of all time or my top 5 catchers of all time (behind Hornsby-Lajoie-Collins-Gehringer-Frisch), it's the reason Reggie Jackson doesn't crack my top 10 all time RF'ers, and it's the reason Mark McGwire, despite his tremendous OPS+, doesn't crack my all time top 5 1Bmen. Sorry, it's just absolutely not ok for a star major leaguer to hit below .275. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Don't care what else they contribute; if they can't hit over .275, they don't belong on a major league roster as anything other than a utilityman.

                            It's also why, even as a Yankee fan, and even completely disregarding salary, injuries, and defense, there are at least a dozen major league 1Bmen I'd rather have than Jason Giambi. A BA that low is simply not an option.
                            "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                            Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElHalo
                              Well, you do forget to mention Traynor's RBI's... he might have the best RBI/HR ratio of any player in the post dead ball era. And ordinarily it doesn't really matter that much to me for a hitter, but Pie's got one of the best K rates of any hitter ever.

                              As for Schmidt's OPS+ advantage... ordinarily I'm a big believer in OPS+, but if a player's got a career BA below .275, I really do just dismiss him out of hand. That's completely unacceptable for a position player that's not a catcher. That's the reason that I can't possibly consider Schmidt the best 3Bman of all time, that's why Joe Morgan doesn't crack my top 50 position players of all time or my top 5 catchers of all time (behind Hornsby-Lajoie-Collins-Gehringer-Frisch), it's the reason Reggie Jackson doesn't crack my top 10 all time RF'ers, and it's the reason Mark McGwire, despite his tremendous OPS+, doesn't crack my all time top 5 1Bmen. Sorry, it's just absolutely not ok for a star major leaguer to hit below .275. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Don't care what else they contribute; if they can't hit over .275, they don't belong on a major league roster as anything other than a utilityman.

                              It's also why, even as a Yankee fan, and even completely disregarding salary, injuries, and defense, there are at least a dozen major league 1Bmen I'd rather have than Jason Giambi. A BA that low is simply not an option.
                              You make some valid points (especially about the RBIs, a facet that I deliberately left off because Schmidt and Traynor were very close in that way) and I've learned it's impossible to shake your stance on BA . But sometimes you have to take into consideration the era a player played in, especially when one of the two players played during the offensive golden age of the 20s and 30s and the other played during the offensive depressed period of 70s and 80s.

                              Pie's .320 might look pretty good, but not nearly as good as say Boggs' .328 considering that the league average was 30 points higher in Trayor's day. Taking era into consideration, Schmidt's BA is not nearly as bad as it seems - he batted .267, the same as the league average. Had Schmidt played in Pie's day and hit the league average, he would have been all the way up to .295 and I don't think you would begrudge him that too much. So if you're just going to blindly compare averages, you have to factor in eras, meaning that Traynor and Schmidt would be much closer with Schmidt being well above your .275 definition of respectability. Couple a .295 adjusted for era average with all of Schmidt's other advantages over Traynor, and I think your argument becomes pretty weak. Or, vice versa, if Traynor had played in Schmidt's day, his average being 25 points above league average would plummet to .292. Would you consider Traynor a hall of famer if you were to blindly look at his .292 average? Would his lack of power and plate discipline be able to compensate for the fact that he no longer stands out at first glance with a .320 average? (Also, at 60 points above league average, Boggs would have hit .355 in Traynor's day, and given your love for averages, I'd expect him to be one of your favorite players). My point is that you superficially look at averages like they are shiny objects, without questioning the substance behind an average. Pie was not really a .320 hitter. Had he played in most any other era, he would likely have been under .300 and perhaps even under .290.

                              Also, even though Pie batted more than 50 points higher than Schmidt, his on base percentage was still much lower than Schmidt's - that should tell you that Schmidt was a more disciplinedhitter than Pie. Throw in Pie's almost anemic +107 OPS and you get a hitter that's just above average. So I don't reasonably believe that an argument can be made that Pie was a better hitter than Schmidt, especially after you figure that by hitting the league average as he did in his day, Schmidt would have been very near .300 in Pie's day (or Pie below .300 in Schmidt's day, thus without a .320 average to help him stand out upon a superficial look).
                              Last edited by DoubleX; 08-16-2004, 01:36 PM.

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