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1970s vs. 1930s-Top Level Talent

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  • 1970s vs. 1930s-Top Level Talent

    I remember maybe about a month ago I got in a debate with ElHalo and Myankee4life about the league quality of the game in the 1970s vs. the quality of the 1930s. I, presented what I think it the key evidence that the average player in the 1970s was WAY better, and gave reasons for why this is true. I also talked about the fact players in the 1970s didn't distance from the pack as much as 1930s players, and used this as a factor that suggested that the average player was indeed much better in the 1970s than 1930s.

    But, ElHalo and Myankee basically came back by saying that the top level players in the 1970s just weren't any good, not nearly as good as the 1930s top level players.

    About a week ago I remembered this and decided to do sort of a study on it. To me, "top level talent" would seem to indicate a player who was top 25 all time at his position. So, the question came how do I define a top 25 level player. I obvioiusly couldn't use my rankings, because then the other side would just claim they're biased. I decided to use Bill James' rankings, because I think most people think he isn't really biased towards one era or another. So, I made up a sort of chart to show top 25 players at each position according to Bill James who played a significant part of their career in the 1970s, and the 1930s. I would then compare. Here is the chart (numbers in parenthesis indicate where they are ranked):

    Catcher
    1970s-Bench (2), Fisk (6), Carter (8), Simmons (10), Torre (11), Freehan (12), Munson (14), Porter (18), Boone (21), Tenace (23), McCarver (24)
    1930s-Cochrane (4), Dickey (7), Hartnett (9), Lombardi (22)

    First Base
    1970s-McCovey (9), Perez (13), Allen (15), Hernandez (16)
    1930s-Gehrig (1), Foxx (2), Greenberg (9)

    Second Base
    1970s-Morgan (1), Carew (9), Grich (12), Lopes (23)
    1930s-Gehringer (8), Herman (14), Lazzeri (19), Myer (24)

    Third Base
    1970s-Schmidt (1), Brett (2), Robinson (7), Evans (10), Bando (11), Nettles (13), Cey (16), Bell (19)
    1930s-Hack (9), Traynor (15)

    Shortstop
    1970s-Yount (4), Fregosi (15), Campaneris (25)
    1930s-Vaughan (2), Cronin (8), Appling (11)

    Left Field
    1970s-Yastrzemski (5), Stargell (9), BWilliams (11), Brock (15), White (25)
    1930s-Simmons (7), Medwick (13, Goslin (16)

    Center Field
    1970s-Wynn (10), Lynn (17), Pinson (18), Cedeno (21), Otis (22)
    1930s-DiMaggio (5), Berger (13), Averill (14), Wilson (19)

    Right Field (I'll leave out Aaron/Robinson just so no one says I'm unfair)
    1970s-Rose (5), RJackson (7), Winfield (13), Parker (14), BoBonds (15), Murcer (17), Singleton (18), RSmith (20), Oliva (21), Evans (22), Staub (24)
    1930s-Ott (4), Waner (9)

    For pitchers I'm just using the top 100

    Pitchers
    1970s-Seaver (6), Carlton (15), Palmer (17), Perry (18), Jenkins (23), Ryan (24), Niekro (26), Gossage (37), Blyleven (39), Tiant (52), John (63), Hunter (64), Kaat (65), Guidry (66), Lolich (72), Reuschel (81), Blue (86)
    1930s-Grove (2), Hubbell (13), Ferrell (40), Lyons (43), Warneke (44), Ruffing (51), Gomez (67), Walters (69), Bridges (77), Hoyt (78), Harder (92),

    Looking at this chart, it would appear to me the 70s "win" catcher, 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and pitcher. The 30s "win" 1B, SS, CF. The 70s won more positons and won the positions much more handily.

    Now, I realize of course that this is not a perfect way to look at the issue and that Bill James' rankings are really no more perfect than anyone else's. But, I would like to talk about this topic a bit.
    23
    1930s
    52.17%
    12
    1970s
    47.83%
    11
    Last edited by 538280; 02-03-2006, 07:17 PM.

  • #2
    I agree with you Chris (imagine that! ) .The 1970s had a much stronger game than the 1930s.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
      I agree with you Chris (imagine that! ) .The 1970s had a much stronger game than the 1930s.
      HWR, I actually agree with you on a lot of things. It's just that we tend to foucus on the things we disagree on.

      Do you also agree the top level players of the 70s were better?

      Comment


      • #4
        --Put me down for yes and yes.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would have said that the 70s was a stronger league than the 30s by a fair margin. Looking at your chart(albeit not the most scientific) really only strengthens my suspicion.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, I have a second to look at this...

            Originally posted by 538280
            Catcher
            1970s-Bench (2), Fisk (6), Carter (8), Simmons (10), Torre (11), Freehan (12), Munson (14), Porter (18), Boone (21), Tenace (23), McCarver (24)
            1930s-Cochrane (4), Dickey (7), Hartnett (9), Lombardi (22)
            This is absolutely disgusting. The very idea that someone could rank Gary Carter ahead of Gabby Hartnett and then look themselves in the mirror makes me physically ill. Fisk better than Dickey? I don't even have the words... moving on...

            First Base
            1970s-McCovey (9), Perez (13), Allen (15), Hernandez (16)
            1930s-Gehrig (1), Foxx (2), Greenberg (9)
            I've never really gotten the McCovey thing. I'm not a big Dick Allen fan, but the idea of him ranking behind Tony Perez doesn't do wonders for James' credibility. Not that this would do wonders for my credibility, but I'd rank another 30's guy, Hal Trosky, ahead of all of the 70's guys here. Ditto Bill Terry (something of a 30's straddler). Really, really don't get the Perez selection; if we want to make a 30's reference, he's probably about comparable to Ripper Collins with a longer career... ugh.

            Second Base
            1970s-Morgan (1), Carew (9), Grich (12), Lopes (23)
            1930s-Gehringer (8), Herman (14), Lazzeri (19), Myer (24)
            It's official: If I'm ranking him as a 2Bman, Carew goes ahead of Morgan for my number 5 slot at the position. So, good job him. I question James' sanity in ranking Gehringer so low, but then he does have that Craig Biggio fetish.

            Third Base
            1970s-Schmidt (1), Brett (2), Robinson (7), Evans (10), Bando (11), Nettles (13), Cey (16), Bell (19)
            1930s-Hack (9), Traynor (15)
            Traynor is, as always, too low, but I don't have all that much to say about this position; it was a good time for 3Bmen. Pepper Martin is a glaring oversight (well, to me anyway, don't even pretend to expect anyone else to agree...)... could see Pinky Higgins.

            Shortstop
            1970s-Yount (4), Fregosi (15), Campaneris (25)
            1930s-Vaughan (2), Cronin (8), Appling (11)
            Robin Yount doesn't belong in this discussion; he played more games at CF than SS, and in the entire decade of the 70's, he had an OPS+ above average exactly once (110 in 1978). Jim Fregosi doesn't belong with fifteen slots of Luke Appling, much less four. Moving on...

            Left Field
            1970s-Yastrzemski (5), Stargell (9), BWilliams (11), Brock (15), White (25)
            1930s-Simmons (7), Medwick (13, Goslin (16)
            Medwick and Goslin should be higher; none of the 70's guys really impress me all that much. Not entirely certain I'd take Yaz over Goslin, and definitely not over Medwick. I'd take Chick Hafey over Brock or White. I'd take Heinie Manusch over everybody but Yaz.

            Center Field
            1970s-Wynn (10), Lynn (17), Pinson (18), Cedeno (21), Otis (22)
            1930s-DiMaggio (5), Berger (13), Averill (14), Wilson (19)
            There's no one on the 70's list who belongs in the same discussion with anyone on the 30's list (despite what you have to say about Wynn).

            Right Field (I'll leave out Aaron/Robinson just so no one says I'm unfair)
            1970s-Rose (5), RJackson (7), Winfield (13), Parker (14), BoBonds (15), Murcer (17), Singleton (18), RSmith (20), Oliva (21), Evans (22), Staub (24)
            1930s-Ott (4), Waner (9)
            The utter ludicricity (made up a new word) of having only two 30's RF's in his top 25 boggles my mind. Ott, Waner, and Klein are better than everyone on the 70's list. Babe Herman probably goes in front of everyone but the first three for me. I'd probably take George Selkirk over over the last four guys on the 70's list.

            For pitchers I'm just using the top 100
            Pitching I'll hand to the 70's; outside of Hubbell and Grove, not much going on in the 30's pitching department.

            In sum: pretty simple here. The 70's win pitching and 3B on sheer volume of great talent (though I'd still take Hubbell or Grove over anybody who pitched in the 70's). But for pretty much every other position, the 30's win in a cakewalk, with a good chunk of the positions having 3 or 4 guys from the 30's who were better than anybody at all from the 70's. Doesn't seem too complicated to me.
            Last edited by ElHalo; 02-03-2006, 09:23 PM.
            "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

            Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with alot of what you said, ElHalo, except I think you exaggerate a few of your opinions, such as Trosky better than ALL of the '70s 1Bmen and Selkirk better than four of the '70s RFers.
              Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by torez77
                I agree with alot of what you said, ElHalo, except I think you exaggerate a few of your opinions, such as Trosky better than ALL of the '70s 1Bmen and Selkirk better than four of the '70s RFers.
                Selkirk was probably going too far. I'm sold on Trosky, though. The highest rated 1Bman from the 70's there is McCovey, who I generally rate around 15th or 16th all time at the position... I usually rate Trosky around 12th or 13th. People forget just how amazing Trosky was; through age 27, he was essentially Albert Pujols with less plate discipline and HR pop. Guy was an absolute demon. He could never get his career back on track after the war, but before then, just a sheer terror.
                "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  --More of an imp than a demon. Trosky has a career OPS+ of 129, hardly inspiting for a 1B with a short career. His career high of 154 isn't much above McCovey's career average. Norm Cash is way ahead of him for both peak and career.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ElHalo
                    Well, I have a second to look at this...

                    This is absolutely disgusting. The very idea that someone could rank Gary Carter ahead of Gabby Hartnett and then look themselves in the mirror makes me physically ill. Fisk better than Dickey? I don't even have the words... moving on...
                    Wait, I'll look myself in the mirror. All right, I did it. Are you physically ill?

                    Carter was better than Hartnett. He played for longer, was better on defense, and was only a small bit behind on offense. His peak was probably better.

                    Fisk is way better than Dickey. He played WAY longer, better peak, just as many good years, better offensively becaue Dickey was helped tremendously by Yankee Stadium.

                    I've never really gotten the McCovey thing. I'm not a big Dick Allen fan, but the idea of him ranking behind Tony Perez doesn't do wonders for James' credibility. Not that this would do wonders for my credibility, but I'd rank another 30's guy, Hal Trosky, ahead of all of the 70's guys here. Ditto Bill Terry (something of a 30's straddler). Really, really don't get the Perez selection; if we want to make a 30's reference, he's probably about comparable to Ripper Collins with a longer career... ugh.
                    Tony Perez was a player who hung around forever as a pretty good player, and had a few years as one of the best players in the game early on. I agree James does overrate him a bit, but he's certainly better than Terry. He played longer than Terry and was a much better slugger. Perez also played third for part of his career and was okay there, which really helps his defensive value.

                    The McCovey thing.....Maybe when you have one of the best hitting peaks of all time people will rank you pretty high. I personally think James underrates him.

                    Hal Trosky.....Please tell me how on earth you can put him over McCovey.

                    It's official: If I'm ranking him as a 2Bman, Carew goes ahead of Morgan for my number 5 slot at the position. So, good job him. I question James' sanity in ranking Gehringer so low, but then he does have that Craig Biggio fetish.
                    You said at the end the 30s win this positon. Well, how? If the 70s have two top 10 guys and the 30s have only one and outside of that not much else (I can't imagine you like Grich), then how do the 30s win in your opinion?

                    Traynor is, as always, too low, but I don't have all that much to say about this position; it was a good time for 3Bmen. Pepper Martin is a glaring oversight (well, to me anyway, don't even pretend to expect anyone else to agree...)... could see Pinky Higgins.
                    Traynor is actually too high IMO.

                    Robin Yount doesn't belong in this discussion; he played more games at CF than SS, and in the entire decade of the 70's, he had an OPS+ above average exactly once (110 in 1978). Jim Fregosi doesn't belong with fifteen slots of Luke Appling, much less four. Moving on...
                    With Robin Yount, fair enough. If you want to rate him as a CF fine.

                    Jim Fregosi's numbers don't look like much but he was actually a very, very good player. 113 OPS+ for a shortstop in that era is very impressive and his peak years are great as well. James rates him about right I think.

                    Medwick and Goslin should be higher; none of the 70's guys really impress me all that much. Not entirely certain I'd take Yaz over Goslin, and definitely not over Medwick. I'd take Chick Hafey over Brock or White. I'd take Heinie Manusch over everybody but Yaz.
                    Chick Hafey over Roy White and Lou Brock......You're making me physically ill.

                    I agree Yaz is really overrated, and I guess I could see him below Goslin (park effects, baby!). He's defenitely way better than Medwick though.


                    There's no one on the 70's list who belongs in the same discussion with anyone on the 30's list (despite what you have to say about Wynn).
                    Don't want to talk about Jimmy here.....and Cesar Cedeno, Vada Pinson, and Amos Otis are all better than Hack Wilson IMO.

                    The utter ludicricity (made up a new word) of having only two 30's RF's in his top 25 boggles my mind. Ott, Waner, and Klein are better than everyone on the 70's list. Babe Herman probably goes in front of everyone but the first three for me. I'd probably take George Selkirk over over the last four guys on the 70's list.
                    Chuck Klein better than Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson....you're making me physically ill again. Don't even have to say anything else.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      --Fregosi was an outstanding SS - in the 60s. He was done as a SS and an elite player very early in the 79s. SS and 1B are positions that clearly beong to the 30s guys. Conception and Campaneris were the top SS of the 70s and they were good, but not close to Vaughan, Cronin and Appling (a trio reasobably compared to the big 3 of the 1990s). Firstbase was just insanely loaded with talent in the 30s. Gehrig and Foxx are generally considered the top 2 ever and Greenberg and Mize make most top 10s. The 2nd tier guys like Terry and Camilli (and I suppose Trosky) weren't bad either, although both were far behind McCovey (who I have over Greenberg and Mize).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Chris, as usual, good job.

                        The one thing that concerns me is that there are more teams, thus more players to choose from, in the 70's that give them a slight advantage.

                        However, overall I agree that the 70's were a better more competitive era in terms of the best players simply because the 'average' player in the 70's is so much better than the 'average' player in the 30's.

                        OTOH, when I reard ElHalo's remarks with some of his renderings simply amazed me. Hal Tosky? George Selkirk? Pepper Martin? Pinky Higgins? Cjick Hafey??? h

                        Yankees Fan Since 1957

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by yanks0714
                          Chris, as usual, good job.

                          The one thing that concerns me is that there are more teams, thus more players to choose from, in the 70's that give them a slight advantage.
                          It doesn't give them an advantage when talking about just the number of superstars in the leauge (which is what we're talking about). Just because there are more players in the leauge doesn't mean there are more superstars.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well my belief stands basically because I disagree with Bill James Ranking. I think James is biased towards '70-'80's players. I still think that the BEST players of the '30's are better than the BEST of the 70's. I will concede however that there were more GOOD players during the '70's.

                            Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg, Dimaggio, Gehringer, Simmons, Cochrane...

                            Bench, Morgan, Jackson, Schimdt, Mccovey, Yastremski......

                            IMO the league's best players from the 30's are BETTER than the 70's.
                            Also alot of these players James ranked higher due to their accomplishments in other decades. Mccovey, Schimdt, Yount, Yaz, Allen, Brett etc all made their names in a different era. If thats the case then the 30's should get Ruth added to them or Williams for that matter.

                            In our Top 25 positional players of all time list

                            Players from 1930's come in - 9th,15th,16th,17th,20th,23rd place
                            Players from 1970's come in - 14th,18th,19th,22nd,24th place
                            "I was pitching one day when my glasses clouded up on me. I took them off to polish them. When I looked up to the plate, I saw Jimmie Foxx. The sight of him terrified me so much that I haven't been able to wear glasses since." - Left Gomez

                            "(Lou) Gehrig never learned that a ballplayer couldn't be good every day." - Hank Gowdy

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              --I guess that depends on where you draw the line for who was a 30s/70s guy (and how accurate you think our rankings are). You credit DiMaggio for the 30s, but not Aaron for the 70s - even though Aaron played 6 years in the 70s to DiMaggios 4 in the 30s. Lookings at guys who played at least half of each decade:
                              30s: Ruth (1), Gehrig (9), Hornsby (12) -although he was a part timer for most of it), (Charleston? and Gibson are 15-16 but are actually a counter arguement to league strength since they represent great players who weren't allowed to play in the majors), Foxx (20) and Ott (23) - for total of 5.
                              70s: Aaron (9), Schmidt (14), Robinson (18), Morgan (19) and Bench (24) - for a total of 5.
                              --The 30s five rank slightly ahead of the 70s 5, but that is a little misleading. Aaron was better in the 70s than Ruth in the 30s (although his 60s are way behind Ruth's 20s). I personally rank Schmidt over Gehrig, but I'm in the minority there. Hornsby ranks above Morgan for most, but nobody in their right mind would argue his 30s were anywhere near as good as Morgan's 70s. Robinson beats Foxx in the rankings, but this is reversed looking only at these decades and the advantage switches to the 30s. Ott and Bench are harder to compare, but Bench is widely regarded as the best MLB catcher ever and Ott is seldom ranked higher than 4th at his position.
                              --Even if you do like the very best players of the 30s a little better, the 70s are much deeper in talent. It is the depth of talent that really detrmines league stregth.

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