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Sliding Billy or the Man of Steal

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  • #16
    Originally posted by yanks0714
    Obviously you know next to nothing about Augue Galan. For all intents and purposes Augie was a fine player. No superstar but a very serviceable player.
    See Mark's comment. I don't disagree with your comments here. That doesn't equate to him being the number 7 leadoff hitter of all time.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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    • #17
      Billy Hamilton had a .344 career batting average with a league park-adjusted average of .286, so he was .58 better than the average hitter of his time. Sliding Billy had a career on base avg. of .455, 100 points better than the park adjusted league avg of .355. Rickey Henderson hit .279 career with a park-adjusted league avg. of .260, so he was only .19 points better than average. Rickey's on base avg. was .401 with a league avg. of .327, so he was .74 points better there. Billy wins handily on both measures.

      Regardless of how the steals were tabulated, Hamilton was the premiere base thief of his time, as Henderson was of his.

      Interestingly enough, in my all time offensive player ratings project, I have Rickey Henderson at # 22 all time, and Billy Hamilton # 25.

      So, I would say Rickey Henderson was a better overall offensive player than Billy Hamilton, but I still think Billy Hamilton was a better leadoff man.

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      • #18
        --Henderson wasn't just the best base stealer of his time, he was the best base stealer of all time.

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        • #19
          Billy doesn't really win handidly in both measures. For starters we are comparing a player that played for 14 seasons against a guy who played for 25 seasons. We are comparing a guy who played in a league that was so bad so inequally comprised that they had to fold 4 teams, that played in a league that had a major rule change that greatly effected offense, that played in a league in which rules were not even formalized to what they are for 100 years against a guy to a guy who got none of that and on top of that had to compete against the best of the world.

          The numbers maybe park adjusted (which actually means very little and is probably actually creating more errors then correcting)but they are certainly not era adjusted, league quality adjusted, time length adjusted.

          Billy Hamilton went from the American Association where he batted .301 in a hitters park to batting .325 and then .340 in the NL.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Ubiquitous
            Billy doesn't really win handidly in both measures. For starters we are comparing a player that played for 14 seasons against a guy who played for 25 seasons. We are comparing a guy who played in a league that was so bad so inequally comprised that they had to fold 4 teams, that played in a league that had a major rule change that greatly effected offense, that played in a league in which rules were not even formalized to what they are for 100 years against a guy to a guy who got none of that and on top of that had to compete against the best of the world.
            Well, i guess we'd better take Cy Young and Kid Nichols off that thread of all-time great pitchers, huh? I mean, that Young guy played in that "terrible" national league for ten years and then jumped to the new league in an expansion year. Well, that's just plain cheating! How dare he win more games than anyone else. How dare we name an award after him! Let's change it to... I dunno...the Christy Mathewson award. No wait! That's cheating too! I mean, all that guy did was pitch his entire career in the best pitchers era ever, when guys could easily rack up 45+ starts in a year, and win 38, 40, even 41 games in a season (which nobody did 1893-1901)! That wouldn't be fair to everyone else, would it? Well, what in the world shall we call the award?

            Maybe it should be named after a hitter, like...I don't know...Nap Lajoie? No, wait, that wouldn't be right either! He played five seasons in that "terrible" league, before jumping to the expansion league and then whipping off four straight batting titles against inferior opposition, especially those first two seasons when fouls were not counted as strikes. How dare he win a triple crown! How dare he post the best AL average ever! That man should be removed from the Hall, along with that Young character, for playing half of their careers against such inferior opposition- they're not all-time greats. And throw that Hamilton guy out as well- the nerve of him, spending half of his career in a hitter friendly era, not like other great hitters who really had to work to have career BAs similar to his; guys like Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry, Harry Heilman, or Lefty O'Doul.

            So...what I'm asking is, which years can we count? Hamilton broke in in 1887, Burket in 1890, Keeler didn't play full time till 1894, Lajoie in 1896, and Wagner in 1897. Which of those guys are automatically not that good and which of those guys are still revered heroes?

            I mean, Gehrig's everyone's hero and everyone's number one choice as RBI king (except mine- he comes second behind Anson), but he played for a team that played in 9 world series in his 17 year career (and won 8 of them), and finished second almost every other season it didn't win. He played every game of the year for this fabulous star-studded team, great, but he played his whole career in a league that only hit below .280 four seasons of his whole career, and even managed to top .290, and he spent a large part of that career batting just behind the man who's number 2 all-time in OBP, and this guy drove in a lot of runs? There's a big surprise. And do we take that with a grain of salt? No, nobody does. Everybody says Gehrig was the best, and so he may well have been, and in that vein, I think you're being really unfair to guys from an earlier hitters era, and Billy in particular (and his runs totals). Billy's leagues had averages in the .240's and .250's until 1893, and he was hitting in the .330s and .340s at that time- his hitting increased with the league, not because of it, and he was even posting OBP as high as .450 (in a league that posted an average of .319) before the offensive 90s even got going- doesn't that sound like a good leadoff man to you? Then he scored 192 runs leading off for Sam Thompson and Ed Delahanty. That deserves some respect- same as Gehrig's 184 RBI, when five other guys on his team scored more than 100 runs, and the two that didn't were Bill Dickey and Tony Lazzeri. Doesn't mean it was any less of a great feat does it? Course Mr. Ruth drove in 163 of them too.

            Ah well, I'm rambling. Simpsons starts here in a few minutes.
            "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

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            • #21
              I never said don't count it. It should be factored in and considered. His .344 average his OBP his steals happened in a different era when those numbers did not have the same value that they have nowadays. You look at those with eyes of person who has watched modern baseball. Again they don't have the same meaning as someone hitting .344 today.

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              • #22
                Well, again, I suppose the question is- what meaning do they have? Billy Hamilton pioneered the stolen base- not just the modern variety, but the taking of an extra base on a hit, and he was the man who brought the head first slide to the game. He was undoubtedly the best leadoff man of his era.

                But what meaning do stats from the teens and twenties have today either? Names like Ruth, Cobb, and Speaker command a lot more respect today than names like Delahanty and Brouthers, and yet the game from, say, the 20s, has much much more in common with the game of the 1890s than with today's game. Try explaining the DH and the closer to Tris Speaker, for example.

                That's why polls like this are fun. We can't ever know if Henderson or Hamilton was better- anyone who saw Hamilton play and can actually remember it (let alone judge it) would be at least 115, and that would only catch Billy at the end of his career even then, but I don't think the game was so cut and dried that players are just plain better today. Trained better and better at specialization, sure, but for a large proportion of today's players, baseball was not their first sport as kids and teens, and even if it was, they no doubt played other sports during other times of the year. Back then, baseball was the one and only- and that was for everyone, in places (where the weather permitted) it was all year round too (I'm not talking professionally; I'm talking kids now). It was also meaner, leaner, and more cutthroat, and it wasn't just a game of power pitching and power hitting- not instant dominance in other words. It was a game of finesse and angles. Henderson would have undoubtedly been a great star (forgetting all about race issues) back then, though maybe not pre-1893, but I think the star quality translates well from era to era, and I believe that this is where we disagree.
                "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

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                • #23
                  The only way to realistically compare players of different eras is to look at how they performed relative to their peers. Hitting .303 in the NL in 1930 meant you were an average hitter, hitting .303 in 1968 made you a star.
                  To say Billy Hamilton's batting avg. and on base avg. don't mean much in relation to his peers because it was a weak era is, well, weak. I guess Babe Ruth's 54 homers in 1920 don't mean much either, because it was a weak league? The next closest guy hit 19 homers, so Babe wasn't that great, the rest of the league was just that bad, right? Since there are a lot of guys who have hit over 54 homers now, that shows that Babe wasn't as good a home run hitter as them, and he played with a bunch of guys who couldn't hit home runs. C'mon!

                  Obviously, it is my opinion that Ruth's 1920 & 1921 seasons are the best of all time. To hit more homers than any other team, and out-distance the nearest competitor by nearly 3 times, shows true greatness.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by ElHalo
                    I think the fact that Augie Galan comes in seventh on this list shows that this is a completely idiotic way of ranking anything.
                    I think the fact that Hartsel and Dykstra are ranked ahead of Boggs, Bonds, Biggio, and Rose are a lot more disturbing.
                    Johnson and now Goligoski gone.
                    I hope that's all.

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                    • #25
                      It seems one thing is constantly overlooked when eveyone keeps saying how many runs were scored in the 1890's. The error rates were unbelievably high. The BA/SLG/OBP #s weren't that high, so where do you think all those extra runs came from?

                      Hamilton was better, but for a shorter time. And as the unofficial defender of all things Silidin'.....(I even sponsor his BBR page!) I vote for Billy and his ridiculous .455 OBP.

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                      • #26
                        The only problem is the comparative OBP gives Billy only a slight edge (128 to 125 for the first 14 years of both men's careers).

                        Jim Albright
                        Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                        Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                        A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

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                        • #27
                          I probably shouldn't have voted....my heart is Slidin' Billy all the way, but the greedy little saber guy in me knows it should be Rickey. I'd have to give Billy a lot of credit for re-designing the game in a way few have managed over the years though.... his impact in that regard is tough to measure, and Rickey has nothing there to compare. Also, relative slugging actually favors the slight of build, singles hitting Hamilton, and Billy leads OPS vs. league .161 to .076! Hamilton also leads in OWP by a nice little .744 to .682 margin. Billy was one of a kind, and still is.

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                          • #28
                            How did Billy redesign the game? He perfected the slide right? Big deal.

                            He didn't bring speed to the game, he didn't create small ball. Anything besides sliding that he did was largely ignore by baseball.

                            I have seen several people pick Bill Hamilton because he was a such a pioneer, well all I see him pioneering is different slides. Thats great but that doesn't make one better then Rickey Henderson.

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                            • #29
                              I'll say Hamilton was more dominant, but Rickey nearly as dominant and for A LOT longer. I picked Rickey.
                              Johnson and now Goligoski gone.
                              I hope that's all.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by baseballPAP
                                I'd have to give Billy a lot of credit for re-designing the game in a way few have managed over the years though.... his impact in that regard is tough to measure, and Rickey has nothing there to compare.
                                I know, I completely agree with Ubiquitous in this regard. If Hamilton really did "redesign the game in a way few have managed over the years" then wouldn't he have been remembered? Hamilton actually wasn't remembered at all, and completely disappeared from the literature of the sport. If it wasn't for Lee Allen looking at old stats 80 years later, he probably wouldn't even be in the Hall of Fame. If he was one of the game's greatest pioneers, this certainly wouldn't have happened.

                                And Rickey actually did sort of change the game in the early 80s. Why do you think so much "little ball" and speed oriented offenses proped up in that time period? Ricky rallies weren't just in Oakland and New York, you know. They spread throughout the league. Everyone was looking for the Henderson prototype for a few years.

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