Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Wagner/Mays: Who Do You Rank Higher as Historical Players?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Thank you, BSmile. I appreciate your participation. Really I do.

    I derive a deep perverse pleasure in comparing things that should not be compared. What's that say about me?

    Comment


    • I have no idea who I would rank higher than the other.

      Comment


      • Comparisons must be taken within context. Keeping it simple, Wagner was the greatest of all shortstops.

        Willie was not the greatest of all outfielders.

        I saw Willie play shortstop in the second game of a doubleheader on May 31, 1964. He was no Honus Wagner.
        Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by LouGehrig View Post
          Comparisons must be taken within context. Keeping it simple, Wagner was the greatest of all shortstops.

          Willie was not the greatest of all outfielders.

          I saw Willie play shortstop in the second game of a doubleheader on May 31, 1964. He was no Honus Wagner.
          Was Wagner the greatest of all infielders? Lumping Willie with right fielders and left fielders is liking lumping Honus Wagner in with Johnny Bench and Lou Gehrig.

          Comment


          • Tough one here, I went with Honus, after much more than a few minutes thinking it over.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
              Was Wagner the greatest of all infielders? Lumping Willie with right fielders and left fielders is liking lumping Honus Wagner in with Johnny Bench and Lou Gehrig.
              That seems like a much easier question than Wagner vs. Willie, and much easier than whether Mays was the greatest CF.

              Comment


              • Voted for Willie and my reasoning is outlined in the first few pages of this thread.
                "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


                • Originally posted by LouGehrig View Post
                  Comparisons must be taken within context. Keeping it simple, Wagner was the greatest of all shortstops.

                  Willie was not the greatest of all outfielders.

                  I saw Willie play shortstop in the second game of a doubleheader on May 31, 1964. He was no Honus Wagner.
                  When did you see Wagner play?
                  Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
                  Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
                  Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
                  Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
                  Robin Bill Ernie JEDI

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                    I have no idea who I would rank higher than the other.
                    Understood, Ubi. Don't you think many of the rest of us had a tough assignment trying to separate these two wonderful players, separated by a 35 years of rule changes, league quality, positional adjustments, etc.

                    Granted, our little discussions don't change anything, but might I persuade you to vote anyway, just for fun.

                    Maybe it's the ridiculousness of comparing such hard to compare things that gives us the perverse pleasure it does.

                    C'mon, Ubi. Join in our silliness. Take A Walk on the Wild Side. Express yourself even when it doesn't count, doesn't matter, doesn't change anything, and is irrelevant.

                    We did. It's not like I'm asking you to give a kidney.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Windy City Fan View Post
                      The case for Willie, at least as I see it, is largely an LQ one. Wagner dominated what is probably the weakest league outside of the Federal League since the 1880's or maybe even before. But I'll break things down for you ...

                      Defense: Mays is arguably one of the greatest CFers ever. Wagner isn't quite as highly regarded as a defensive SS, but he's still considered to be an excellent defender at a much more important/valuable position. Big edge for Wagner.

                      Running: I think you under estimate Willie. He played in the modern era when sluggers were not expected to run. In fact, they were often discouraged from running a lot due to the risk of injury. Baserunning was not a big part of the game in the 50's and 60's. Mays' first two seasons he only stole 15 total bases. Was because a young Willie was too slow? No, of course not, its because he wasn't asked/expected/told to run. If Willie had played in the deadball era, I could easily see him racking up 600 or more stolen bases. Mays did have 4 years in a row were he lead the league in steals. And 3 more years bracketing those league leading seasons in the top 5. The fact is league leaders didn't steal much back then. Keep in mind, Willie was able to swipe 23 bags in 1971 at the ripe old age of 40, and he did it to the tune of an 88% success rate. That's the most attempts he had in a decade. If he'd been allowed to run more in his youth/prime, Willie certainly would've had a lot more steals.

                      And I do think we can safely assume that Wagner's overall stolen base percentage is not that great, at least by modern standards. Even the seasons we have for Ty Cobb, one of the greatest if not the greatest base runners ever, show his steal percentages to be below what we expect in today's game. That's not to say that Wagner wasn't a great runner. He was. I think this aspect is very close. I might be willing to give a slight edge to Wagner but its by a razor thin margin.

                      Hitting: I just don't see how you can say Wagner wins here. Mays' career OPS+ is 156 to Honus' 150. Both of them had long careers, and when you factor in Willie playing a good chunk of his career with the 162 game schedule, their career PA is pretty even. Wagner's raw relative peak numbers are a little better, and yes he lead his league more, but level of competition has to be factored in.

                      Which brings us to my main argument. LQ adjustment. Mays had to compete with Aaron, Robinson, Snider, Banks, and others for his ink scores. Aaron and Robinson are both top 25 guys (Aaron is a top ten guy). Banks and maybe Snider are top 50 guys. In Wagner's best seasons, I'm not sure if he was competing with a top 100 guy. The league was thin overall and absolutely devoid of any major stars not named Honus Wagner.

                      Do me a favor, Bill. Pretend Willie Mays was born white and then remove every player of color from the leader boards during Mays' career. Tell me what his league leaderships look then. I see hitting as a solid edge for Willie and enough to put him over Honus comfortably.

                      I am puzzled by those who voted for Mays ahead of Wagner regardless of LQ. If you take Wagner's offensive numbers at face value and factor in the defensive value he brings as an excellent SS, then he should indeed be ahead of Mays. In fact, if you don't believe in LQ at all, I think Wagner would have a strong case for the top spot ever.
                      Alright, then. You want me to address these valid arguing points, Craig, so I will. Fine with me! Always pleased to oblige an old friend.

                      I guess the big issue here for you, Craig is LQ (league quality). So be it. Yes, I completely agree with you that the league that Willie had to cope with was much, much tougher than the one that Honus dominated. Much tougher.

                      So, we are in agreement on that issue. But we are far apart on how it impacts on this comparison between the two super-stars.

                      If Honus had been born later and competed in Willie's league, I just can't see him on that much of a lesser plane of excellence. I think Wagner would have been the best SS in the league by a mile, and pushed Ernie Banks into the shade.

                      If Wagner had played in Willie's league all during Mays' glorious career, I think Wagner and not Mays would have been the premier Player of the Era.

                      Why do you think that, Bill? I think that because I think Wagner would have given them lessons in defense and hit like a monster. I think Wagner would have matched Mays for power and destroyed him in fielding.

                      I think that if Wagner had played in Willie's league, that PA would have trumped LQ.

                      Willie was a titanic talent, a superstar and is my #3 Greatest Ever. But Wagner is all that and is my #2 Greatest Ever.

                      Wagner was a magician with the glove. He wore a tiny little one and he cut a hole out of the center so he could control the ball better. Imagine him with a good modern glove, with webbing, a hinged closing action and deep pocket.

                      His defense would have risen by a lot. Willie could never have handled SS. He lacked the finesse, soft hands, infield intuition, instinctive acumen. Infield is a completely different animal than outfield. The greatest out-fielders were placed there because they lacked the finesse that 2B, SS and 3B require. Hence, Hornsby was a better fielder than Cobb or Speaker or Mays.

                      That might sound weird or strange, yet it's true none-the-less. But it is also true that out-fielders can and did play 1B. Heilmann/Crawford/Ruth/Cobb all could handle 1B, but 1B is a lot less needful of finesse and defensive talent than 2B, SS or 3B.

                      So, all in all, I think that Wagner's PA (positional adjustments) trumps Willie's LQ (league quality). I think that Wagner was fully capable of dominating a much, much tougher league than the one he found himself in. He could have fit right in in Cobb's League or Ruth's league or Mays' league.

                      And he would have been a superstar in any of them. He just found himself in the one he had, so he made the most of it. What else could he do? He was stuck in a weak league. If Cobb or Ruth had had to play in Wagner's league, would that have made them any less great? I don't think so.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-17-2009, 03:47 PM.

                      Comment


                      • Bill, you're right in that if Wagner had been born at the same time as Willie, he would've been the best SS in the league. I don't think anyone here disagrees with that notion. Afterall, Wagner is solidly considered the best SS ever by the folks around here. He'd be the best at his position no matter what era he played in. He would've been a superstar in any league he played in. But would he have stood out as dramatically as he did in his day? No way.

                        I just looked the 1903 league leader boards. By that time the AL had raided most of the top talent in the NL. LEt's see who Wagner was competing against for all that black ink he racked up ...

                        Fred Clarke, Roger Bresnahan, Joe Kelley, Jake Beckley, and Frank Chance were the best names I saw. All HoFers, but no one would rank in the top 100 players ever. Possibly not in the top 150. And Beckley and Kelley were nearing the end of their productive playing days.

                        Compare that to Aaron, Robinson, Banks, Snider, Santo, Rose, Mathews, Musial, Clemente, McCovey, and Cepeda.

                        Here's a little hypothetical I posted earlier in this thread to see how Mays would've done in terms of black ink if he had played in a league of similar quality to Wagner's ...

                        Circumstance one: Mays is born white and plays in a segregated league. All players of color who finished ahead of him are removed from the leader boards as if it never happened. These are the extra league leads he would've won (only in ink catagories, so OBP/OPS/OPS+ ect are not listed):

                        1957 Runs (Banks and Aaron removed)
                        1958 SLG (Banks removed)
                        1959 Runs (Pinson removed)
                        1959 Doubles (Aaron and Pinson removed)
                        1961 SLG (Aaron, Cepeda, Robinson removed)
                        1961 Doubles (Aaron and Pinson removed)
                        1961 HR (Cepeda removed)
                        1961 RBI (Cepeda, Robinson removed)
                        1961 Steals (Wills, Pinson, Robinson, Aaron removed)
                        1962 SLG (Aaron Robinson removed)
                        1962 Runs (Robinson removed)
                        1962 Doubles (Robinson removed)
                        1962 RBI (Davis removed)
                        1963 SLG (Aaron removed)
                        1963 Runs (Aaron removed)
                        1963 HR (Aaron and McCovey removed)
                        39 Extra Black Ink Points (That's better than the career black ink totals of Tris Speaker, Joe DiMaggio, and Frank Robinson)

                        Circumstance Two: Mays is born white and plays in a segregated league that has been raided of all its top talent, ala the NL of the 1900's. All players of color are removed and all white players in my top 75 of all-time are removed. Here's the extra ink titles Mays would've won:

                        1954 Runs (Snider/Musial removed)
                        1955 AVG (Ashburn removed)
                        1955 RBI (Snider removed)
                        1957 AVG (Musial removed)
                        1957 Runs (Banks and Aaron removed)
                        1957 HR (Aaron, Banks, Snider removed)
                        1958 AVG (Ashburn removed)
                        1958 SLG (Banks removed)
                        1958 Hits (Ashburn removed)
                        1958 Triples (Ashburn and Banks removed)
                        1959 SLG (Aaron, Banks, Mathews removed)
                        1959 Runs (Pinson removed)
                        1959 Doubles (Pinson and Aaron removed)
                        1959 HR (Mathews, Banks, Aaron, Robinson removed)
                        1960 RBI (Aaron, Mathews, Banks removed)
                        1961 SLG (Aaron, Cepeda, Robinson removed)
                        1961 Doubles (Aaron and Pinson removed)
                        1961 HR (Cepeda removed)
                        1961 RBI (Cepeda, Robinson removed)
                        1961 Steals (Wills, Pinson, Robinson, Aaron removed)
                        1962 SLG (Aaron Robinson removed)
                        1962 Runs (Robinson removed)
                        1962 Doubles (Robinson removed)
                        1962 RBI (Davis removed)
                        1963 SLG (Aaron removed)
                        1963 Runs (Aaron removed)
                        1963 HR (Aaron and McCovey removed)
                        103 Extra Black Ink Points (By way of comparison, Wagner had 109 Black Inks points for his entire career)

                        Now remember that's only going up to 1963 too!
                        "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


                        • Originally posted by Windy City Fan View Post
                          Bill, you're right in that if Wagner had been born at the same time as Willie, he would've been the best SS in the league. I don't think anyone here disagrees with that notion. After all, Wagner is solidly considered the best SS ever by the folks around here. He'd be the best at his position no matter what era he played in. He would've been a superstar in any league he played in. But would he have stood out as dramatically as he did in his day? No way.

                          I just looked the 1903 league leader boards. By that time the AL had raided most of the top talent in the NL. Let's see who Wagner was competing against for all that black ink he racked up ...

                          Fred Clarke, Roger Bresnahan, Joe Kelley, Jake Beckley, and Frank Chance were the best names I saw. All HoFers, but no one would rank in the top 100 players ever. Possibly not in the top 150. And Beckley and Kelley were nearing the end of their productive playing days.

                          Compare that to Aaron, Robinson, Banks, Snider, Santo, Rose, Mathews, Musial, Clemente, McCovey, and Cepeda.

                          Here's a little hypothetical I posted earlier in this thread to see how Mays would've done in terms of black ink if he had played in a league of similar quality to Wagner's ...
                          Craig, I think you are making a miscalculation. True, Wagner was able to crush Clarke, Bresnahan, Kelley, Beckley, etc. But I also think that no big difference would have been resulted if we had replaced them with Arky Vaughan, Cronin, Boudreau. Honus was that talented.

                          He might not have crushed them by as wide a margin, I agree. But Honus was better than any other shortstop in history, and would have made them look inferior offensively.

                          There is just no way that Willie Mays outhit his center-field peers by as wide a margin. Willie did not dominate Cobb, Mantle, DiMaggio or Speaker in anywhere the same way as Wagner destroyed Vaughan, Cronin, Banks offensively.

                          So, you have a shortstop hitting like a center-fielder/first-base man!

                          So, we're left with a man who just kills his position peers offensively, and handles the most valuable defensive post (excluding catcher).

                          This is not a particularly tough comparison when seen through the correct prism. To put icing on his cake, Wagner ran magnificently. He led a league of runners 5 times, while Willie led a league of non-runners 4 times. And Wagner ran his whole career while Willie stopped running for some reason.

                          Honus was a real anomaly. A freak. Normally, guys who play shortstop are agile, little guys, like Aparico, Vizquel. Wagner was a big guy. That was unusual in itself. But he was a further freak in that he hit like an out-fielder. That just didn't happen before or since in the history of the game. The closest to him was Alexander Rodriquez for a season or two, but even he couldn't maintain it. And A-Rod wasn't a world-class runner or fielder. Wagner destroys A-Rod on the bags and in the field. A-Rod was up to Wagner in the batter's box temporarily, and then switched his position, which isn't nearly as tough.
                          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-17-2009, 04:19 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Being the best SS ever by a comfortable margin doesn't mean he's automatically better than the (arguably) best CF ever. If the standard of measurement is how well one compares to their peers at their position than Mike Schimdt should be right up there with Wagner. He blows away the competition at third just as Wagner does at SS.

                            My point is that Wagner played in a very unique situation of being the only superstar in his league for an extended period of time. Imagine Cobb with guys like Jackson, Speaker, and Collins to compete with. He would've been so much more dominant than he already was. When a player absolutely dominates his time, there is usually a reason beyond raw talent. Wagner had no top tier competition. Ruth pioneered the slugging approach. Bonds was chemically enhanced.

                            Mays played in one the hardest leagues ever to dominate because it was LOADED with top tier talent.
                            "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


                            • I am listening to and understanding your quite valid and good arguing points, Craig. But there was also a good reason Wagner dominated his position. He hit like no shortstop ever did, before or after. He was a big man who fielded like an agile little one. He was brilliantly acrobatic.

                              That was not a deficit of opposition. It was a unique gift. A big shortstop hit like an outfielder.

                              And I fully understand that Willie had hard competition. Which is part of his problem. Willie just didn't separate from Aaron offensively. He just couldn't. We rank him higher off his better glove/running.

                              Just because Wille had tougher competition doesn't automatically make him a better player than Wagner. Maybe he was, but that part of the argument doesn't mean he was. Aaron was not that worse than Willie and absolutely no one is putting Hank in Honus' class. At least not that I recall off-hand. Maybe they are.

                              Comment


                              • After all of this fierce cut, thrust and parry, they are virtually locked in stalemate! I just cannot believe that the Fever House cannot come up with a decisive decision.

                                Is anyone else as surprised as me?

                                Comment

                                Ad Widget

                                Collapse
                                Working...
                                X