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

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  • Old Throwing records:

    At a long-distance baseball throwing contest in October, 1872, John Hatfield of Mutual club, won the contest with a heave of 133 yrds, 1 foot, 7.7 inches. He was followed by Andy Leonard of Boston club (119 yds. 1 ft. 10 inches), George Wright of Boston club (117 yrds. 1 ft. 1 inch), Bill Boyd of Mutual club (115 yrds. 1 ft. 7 inches), Wes Fisler of Athletics club (112 yrds. 6 inches), Adrian C. Anson of Athletics club (110 yds. 6 inches).

    Ned Crane threw a baseball 117 yards (351 feet) in a contest at Worcester, MA in 1879.

    At Cincinnati baseball grounds on Sunday, Oct. 9,1910, Sheldon Lajeune of the Evansville baseball Club, threw a baseball 426 feet, 9.5 inches. He had preceded this throw with heaves of 385' 3", 383' 4", both throws against the wind. He then asked if he could throw in the opposite direction. This was granted and he threw 401' 4.5", he then warmed his arm up and then uncorked a mighty heave of 426' 9.5". Previously he had thrown 399' 10.75" on September 11, 1908 at the Cincinnati grounds.

    Joe Jackson threw a baseball 132 yards (396'9") on September 27, 1917, at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., in a contest, defeating Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth. It was at a benefit game for Tim Murnane's widow. Duffy Lewis of the Red Sox and Clarence (Tillie) Walker of the Phil. Athletics tied for second with tosses of 384'6". (This occasion happened presumably before Ty Cobb hurt his throwing arm.)
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-16-2013, 10:11 PM.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
      Old Throwing records:

      At a long-distance baseball throwing contest in October,1872, John Hatfield of Mutual club, won the contest with a heave of 133 yrds, 1 foot, 7.7 inches. He was followed by Andy Leonard of Boston club(119 yds. 1 ft. 10 inches), George Wright of Boston club(117 yrds. 1 ft. 1 inch), Bill Boyd of Mutual club (115 yrds. 1 ft. 7 inches), Wes Fisler of Athletics club (112 yrds. 6 inches), Adrian C. Anson of Athletics club (110 yds. 6 inches).

      Ned Crane threw a baseball 117 yards (351 feet) in a contest at Worcester, MA in 1879.

      At Cincinnati baseball grounds on Sunday, Oct. 9,1910, Sheldon Lajeune of the Evansville baseball Club, threw a baseball 426 feet, 9.5 inches. He had preceded this throw with heaves of 385' 3", 383' 4", both throws against the wind. He then asked if he could throw in the opposite direction. This was granted and he threw 401' 4.5", he then warmed his arm up and then uncorked a mighty heave of 426' 9.5". Previously he had thrown 399' 10.75" on September 11, 1908 at the Cincinnati grounds.

      Joe Jackson threw a baseball 132 yards (396'9") on September 27, 1917, at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., in a contest, defeating Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth. It was at a benefit game for Tim Murnane's widow. Duffy Lewis of the Red Sox and Clarence (Tillie) Walker of the Phil. Athletics tied for second with tosses of 384'6". (This occasion happened presumably before Ty Cobb hurt his throwing arm.)
      This is great info, Bill. I believe this provides some tangible evidence that the pitchers back then weren't lobbing the balls at 70-75 mph back then like some believe.

      I don't know what a throw of 400+ feet equates to. But I bet these guys were throwing the ball well over 90 mph.

      Getting back to Honus. I believe he once chucked a ball 403 feet. He also ran like the wind and was extremely versatile in the field. The only question mark for me is his ability to hit for power. The more posts by HWrules that I read, the more I believe that he was indeed a great powerhitter. If this is actually the case, then Honus Wagner has an excellent case for being the best ever. I actually would not replace Wagner by anybody to play the Dead Ball game of the early 1900s(Ty Cobb's Dead Ball play squeaks by Wagners', but I like Wagner's huge versatility). My question mark is how well Wagner's game would have transferred over to the Live Ball era.

      It's possible(not likely) that Honus Wagner might move up 5 spots in my rankings(I have him at #6). Wagner is a work in progress for me right now. This guy was truly a freak. Mays is #2 for me right now.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by pheasant View Post
        This is great info, Bill. I believe this provides some tangible evidence that the pitchers back then weren't lobbing the balls at 70-75 mph back then like some believe.

        I don't know what a throw of 400+ feet equates to. But I bet these guys were throwing the ball well over 90 mph.

        Getting back to Honus. I believe he once chucked a ball 403 feet. He also ran like the wind and was extremely versatile in the field. The only question mark for me is his ability to hit for power. The more posts by HWrules that I read, the more I believe that he was indeed a great powerhitter. If this is actually the case, then Honus Wagner has an excellent case for being the best ever. I actually would not replace Wagner by anybody to play the Dead Ball game of the early 1900s(Ty Cobb's Dead Ball play squeaks by Wagners', but I like Wagner's huge versatility). My question mark is how well Wagner's game would have transferred over to the Live Ball era.

        It's possible(not likely) that Honus Wagner might move up 5 spots in my rankings(I have him at #6). Wagner is a work in progress for me right now. This guy was truly a freak. Mays is #2 for me right now.
        I found this Spokane Daily Chronicle (04/12/1933) article where Wagner states that he and Cobb batted the "wrong" way.

        Spokane Daily Chronicle 04-12-1933 pg 11.jpg
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • Originally posted by pheasant View Post
          This is great info, Bill. I believe this provides some tangible evidence that the pitchers back then weren't lobbing the balls at 70-75 mph back then like some believe.

          I don't know what a throw of 400+ feet equates to. But I bet these guys were throwing the ball well over 90 mph.

          Getting back to Honus. I believe he once chucked a ball 403 feet. He also ran like the wind and was extremely versatile in the field. The only question mark for me is his ability to hit for power. The more posts by HWrules that I read, the more I believe that he was indeed a great powerhitter. If this is actually the case, then Honus Wagner has an excellent case for being the best ever. I actually would not replace Wagner by anybody to play the Dead Ball game of the early 1900s(Ty Cobb's Dead Ball play squeaks by Wagners', but I like Wagner's huge versatility). My question mark is how well Wagner's game would have transferred over to the Live Ball era.

          It's possible(not likely) that Honus Wagner might move up 5 spots in my rankings(I have him at #6). Wagner is a work in progress for me right now. This guy was truly a freak. Mays is #2 for me right now.
          The throwing contests were not normally won by pitchers, but by position players.

          The post before mine shows Honus won a contest with a throw of 403 feet, proving his arm was among the very strongest.

          When it comes to the power game, I have always believed that Wagner and Mays were about comparable. About the same. Wagner was not encouraged to go for long shots because his ballparks were among the very worst in the game. Exhibition Park featured BOTH foul lines of 400 feet!!!! Truly encouraged long line drives between the out-fielders.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
            The throwing contests were not normally won by pitchers, but by position players.

            The post before mine shows Honus won a contest with a throw of 403 feet, proving his arm was among the very strongest.

            When it comes to the power game, I have always believed that Wagner and Mays were about comparable. About the same. Wagner was not encouraged to go for long shots because his ballparks were among the very worst in the game. Exhibition Park featured BOTH foul lines of 400 feet!!!! Truly encouraged long line drives between the out-fielders.
            If Wagner had Mays' power, which is quite possible, then he's the best player ever. That is a big leap of faith. However, several players from the past have already mentioned that. Guys like Barrow and McGraw agree completely. Wagner STILL put up a dWAR of 1.6 per year at SS from ages 35-41! His 40.9 WAR during that timeframe is off the charts. Talk about a nice adjustment as an old guy going against a new generation of players.

            I am still not 100% convinced that Wagner would have hit 40+ HRS a year during the Live Ball era. I get why it is certainly possible. But without any actual numbers, I cannot make that leap.

            I wish there was a way to look up how long Wagner's blasts were like Jenkinson did with Babe Ruth. For example, in 1918, Jenkinson figured that Ruth would have hit 35 HRS that year had the parks been the same dimensions as those today.

            How did Wagner collect those doubles and triples? Were they line smashes to gaps that only traveled 225-250 feet in the air? Were they 400-425 foot blasts to the outfield?

            If the latter is true, then he's the best ever. If the former is true, then I like his rating of 6th. My gut feeling is that it's somewhere in the middle. I might have to move this guy up. I'll admit that I've always been firm on my top 5. However, Wagner deserves a lot more research.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by pheasant View Post
              If Wagner had Mays' power, which is quite possible, then he's the best player ever. That is a big leap of faith. However, several players from the past have already mentioned that. Guys like Barrow and McGraw agree completely. Wagner STILL put up a dWAR of 1.6 per year at SS from ages 35-41! His 40.9 WAR during that timeframe is off the charts. Talk about a nice adjustment as an old guy going against a new generation of players.

              I am still not 100% convinced that Wagner would have hit 40+ HRS a year during the Live Ball era. I get why it is certainly possible. But without any actual numbers, I cannot make that leap.

              I wish there was a way to look up how long Wagner's blasts were like Jenkinson did with Babe Ruth. For example, in 1918, Jenkinson figured that Ruth would have hit 35 HRS that year had the parks been the same dimensions as those today.

              How did Wagner collect those doubles and triples? Were they line smashes to gaps that only traveled 225-250 feet in the air? Were they 400-425 foot blasts to the outfield?

              If the latter is true, then he's the best ever. If the former is true, then I like his rating of 6th. My gut feeling is that it's somewhere in the middle. I might have to move this guy up. I'll admit that I've always been firm on my top 5. However, Wagner deserves a lot more research.
              Read my post #401 and tell me what you think.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                Read my post #401 and tell me what you think.
                What do you think about the batting titles? Just as many, more?
                "The first draft of anything is crap." - Ernest Hemingway

                There's no such thing as an ultimate stat.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by 1905 Giants View Post
                  What do you think about the batting titles? Just as many, more?
                  I'm not sure. But I'll put it this way. Kiki Cuyler hit .338/.401/.518, 136 OPS+ from 1924-27. In 1925 Cuyler hit .357/.423/.598, 152 OPS+, 43 doubles, 26 triples, 18 HRs, 102 RBI, 144 R. Could Wagner hit as well Cuyler?

                  Culyer 1.jpg

                  Culyer 2.JPG


                  wagner-fielding-ball-300.jpg Cuyler 3.jpg
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                    Read my post #401 and tell me what you think.
                    You've got me thinking on this one, HWR. I beginning to think that Hornsby is a good comp for Honus Wagner in the hitting department for peak value, which means Wagner would dust Hornsby for cumulative stats. This is a frighening proposition.

                    Hornsby put up a 150 OPS+ until 1920, the first year of the true Live Ball era. Wagner matched that for his entire career. Granted, Hornsby was young then. But Wagner's OPS+ includes his decline years.

                    If you think that Wagner could have put up similar relative stats in the 1920s that he did in the 1900s, then his numbers look incredible.

                    From 1920-1929, Hornsby put up some video game numbers to the tune of .382/.460/.637. However, Hornsby's league averaged .291/.349/.406 during this time frame.

                    From 1900-1909, Wagner went .352/.417/.508. Wagner relative stats in those 3 categories were: 1.323/1.271/1.485.

                    If we assume Wagner would have put up the same relative stats during Hornsby's era, then
                    Wagner's 10 year peak now looks like this from 1920-1929: .385/.444/.603.

                    I've always agreed with the batting average and on-base percentage piece. The number I've questioned is the slugging percentage. However, the more I've read about Wagner, the more I realize the he didn't simply chop at the ball for singles. Wagner was a very powerful man for his era and he swung hard at the ball. Wagner had a good homerun swing. If this is true, then Wagner easily could have added 95 points to his slugging percentage with a much more lively baseball, the banning of spitballs, and a good slugging park like St Louis. 95 points might be underestimating his slugging ablities.

                    .385 avg and .603 slugging percentage alone moves Wagner up.

                    More on Wagner later.

                    Keep the great articles coming. I appreciate them.

                    Comment

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