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  • >>>>On the other hand, the argument in favor of the older eras is that since there were less teams, the talent was more densely packed, which makes for better teams.




    Not so fast, my man! You're assuming that the talent pool from which to construct teams was the same size, which it wasn't.

    Sure, if we only have 100 qualified players, and we try to stretch them into 30 teams instead of 16, and fill out the rosters with underqualified second-stringers, then you're right, the smaller league is more densely packed with talent.

    So sure, 1998 was diluted in talent compared to, say, 1992, since there were expansions during that time, and the population pool from which they got players didn't expand all that much in that time - certainly not enough to keep pace with the growth of the league.

    But that's 1998 vs. 1992. Not the same as 2004 vs. 1920. To think that talent was more densely loaded in 1920 than in 2004 is crazy, and I'm not Brian Fellows. Please go back to my first post in this thread, post #75. Look at the expansion of the population from which players are drawn. The U.S. population was about 1/4 the size back then, so the doubling of the league size is already taken care of right there and then some. And it wasn't the entire U.S. population that was available to play back then, but mostly only those from the Northeast. And only the white guys at that. And we haven't even started on the populations of other countries yet (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican.)

    And, the process of identifying the best players in the available population was nowhere near what it is now. There was no organized farm system to funnell all the best players into one lague, like there is now. Lots of qualified major league prospects never made it past the minors because the minors were independent, not slaves providing players to another league.


    >>>Plus, only the very best got to play in the majors, while many others who could have gotten into the league under today's system were turned down.



    No way. I sincerely doubt that the bottom feeders in the majors in 1920 would even be playing professional ball at ANY level nowadays.

    Go back to 1920, take only the best white guys from Ruth's major leagues, and toss out the bottom feeders in the league. Then go to the Negro Leagues and take only the best players from there, and toss out the bottom feeders.

    Then do the same thing with the Mexican League, and the Dominican League, and anywhere else that they get ballplayers from these days.

    And, go out west, and get all the best white players from the Pacific Coast League, too, and toss out the weaker players.

    Now put all those good players into one single league and let 'em fight it out for batting titles and home run crowns and Cy Young awards. THAT's what Bonds (who would have been in the Negro Leagues and never would have had the chance to play in the majors), Pedro Martinez (who is from the Dominican Republic and never would have had the chance to play in the majors), and Randy Johnson (who is from California and would have been stuck in the Pacific Coast League and never would have had the chance to play in the majors, even though he is white) have to deal with today. Ruth dealt with a MUCH less competitive environment. You can see it in the way that team winning percentages are being driven ever closer to .500, despite revenue gaps and free agency. What ABOUT those team winning percentages, anyway? Why has no one reacted to those after I brought them up? Why is the league becoming MORE competitive despite free agency and the money gap between big and small market teams? What other explanation can there be other than the simple explanation that the league is simply more competitive now? If theres some other explanation, I need to hear it.





    >>>>As far as the steroid issue goes, no, I personally don't know if Bonds is taking them. His physical appearance and his performance level now compared to the 90's is dramatically different, which makes it obvious on the outside. They haven't proven it yet, so I'll go on record and say that a man is innocent until proven guilty, as with any case.


    Good on you. More people should think like that, and I do agree with you that people are innocent until proven guilty. Though it does seem that Bonds' innocence is hanging by a very thin thread now.
    Last edited by Metal Ed; 02-22-2005, 10:47 AM.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Metal Ed
      >>>>On the other hand, the argument in favor of the older eras is that since there were less teams, the talent was more densely packed, which makes for better teams.




      Not so fast, my man! You're assuming that the talent pool from which to construct teams was the same size, which it wasn't.

      Sure, if we only have 100 qualified players, and we try to stretch them into 30 teams instead of 16, and fill out the rosters with underqualified second-stringers, then you're right, the smaller league is more densely packed with talent.

      So sure, 1998 was diluted in talent compared to, say, 1992, since there were expansions during that time, and the population pool from which they got players didn't expand all that much in that time - certainly not enough to keep pace with the growth of the league.

      But that's 1998 vs. 1992. Not the same as 2004 vs. 1920. To think that talent was more densely loaded in 1920 than in 2004 is crazy, and I'm not Brian Fellows. Please go back to my first post in this thread, post #75. Look at the expansion of the population from which players are drawn. The U.S. population was about 1/4 the size back then, so the doubling of the league size is already taken care of right there and then some. And it wasn't the entire U.S. population that was available to play back then, but mostly only those from the Northeast. And only the white guys at that. And we haven't even started on the populations of other countries yet (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican.)

      And, the process of identifying the best players in the available population was nowhere near what it is now. There was no organized farm system to funnell all the best players into one lague, like there is now. Lots of qualified major league prospects never made it past the minors because the minors were independent, not slaves providing players to another league.


      >>>Plus, only the very best got to play in the majors, while many others who could have gotten into the league under today's system were turned down.



      No way. I sincerely doubt that the bottom feeders in the majors in 1920 would even be playing professional ball at ANY level nowadays.

      Go back to 1920, take only the best white guys from Ruth's major leagues, and toss out the bottom feeders in the league. Then go to the Negro Leagues and take only the best players from there, and toss out the bottom feeders.

      Then do the same thing with the Mexican League, and the Dominican League, and anywhere else that they get ballplayers from these days.

      And, go out west, and get all the best white players from the Pacific Coast League, too, and toss out the weaker players.

      Now put all those good players into one single league and let 'em fight it out for batting titles and home run crowns and Cy Young awards. THAT's what Bonds, Pedro, and Randy have to deal with today. Ruth dealt with a MUCH less competitive environment. You can see it in the way that team winning percentages are being driven ever closer to .500, despite revenue gaps and free agency. What ABOUT those team winning percentages, anyway? Why has no one reacted to those after I brought them up? Why is the league becoming MORE competitive despite free agency and the money gap between big and small market teams? What other explanation can there be other than the simple explanation that the league is simply more competitive now? If theres some other explanation, I need to hear it.





      >>>>As far as the steroid issue goes, no, I personally don't know if Bonds is taking them. His physical appearance and his performance level now compared to the 90's is dramatically different, which makes it obvious on the outside. They haven't proven it yet, so I'll go on record and say that a man is innocent until proven guilty, as with any case.


      Good on you. More people should think like that, and I do agree with you that people are innocent until proven guilty. Though it does seem that Bonds' innocence is hanging by a very thin thread now.
      Metal Ed said --- "But that's 1998 vs. 1992. Not the same as 2004 vs. 1920. To think that talent was more densely loaded in 1920 than in 2004 is crazy, and I'm not Brian Fellows. Please go back to my first post in this thread, post #75. Look at the expansion of the population from which players are drawn. The U.S. population was about 1/4 the size back then, so the doubling of the league size is already taken care of right there and then some. And it wasn't the entire U.S. population that was available to play back then, but mostly only those from the Northeast. And only the white guys at that. And we haven't even started on the populations of other countries yet (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican.)"

      Gotta say I agree with you, sir. That's why we'll never know how the Negro Leaguers would have faired in the Majors, though by popular opinion some like Gibson, Paige, Lloyd, Williams, and Rogan would have excelled, though their numbers would have declined from the Negro Leagues. That is a knock on the older eras, because they were racist.
      However, besides Gibson, name me another player from that time from any country who could have rivaled Ruth's numbers. Also, keep in mind that Gibson's numbers have never been confirmed as fact. I'd like to hear names of players from the 20's from any country and any league - Dominican, Japan, Canada, Australia, who could have surpassed Ruth. On record, there is nobody. And those leagues overall weren't nearly as strong as the Majors. American baseball was and still is the strongest baseball in the world, and Ruth dominated it like no other. Would the league have been even stronger had more people from other countries joined in? Not necessarily. The gap between America's baseball and other countries was much wider than it is today, so there's no way you can say those countries' best players could have just come over to the Majors, surpassed Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb etc and given Ruth a run for his money.

      Metal Ed said --- "No way. I sincerely doubt that the bottom feeders in the majors in 1920 would even be playing professional ball at ANY level nowadays."


      Not going to argue that. That's the time-machine argument, which I said I would avoid.


      Metal Ed said ---"Go back to 1920, take only the best white guys from Ruth's major leagues, and toss out the bottom feeders in the league. Then go to the Negro Leagues and take only the best players from there, and toss out the bottom feeders.
      Then do the same thing with the Mexican League, and the Dominican League, and anywhere else that they get ballplayers from these days.
      And, go out west, and get all the best white players from the Pacific Coast League, too, and toss out the weaker players.
      Now put all those good players into one single league and let 'em fight it out for batting titles and home run crowns and Cy Young awards. THAT's what Bonds, Pedro, and Randy have to deal with today. Ruth dealt with a MUCH less competitive environment."


      This goes back to my previous statement. Yes, the Major Leagues in the 20's may have been even stronger overall had you tossed out the worst whites and taken the best from the other countries and put them in. The fact still remains that Ruth accomplished his career against the best baseball in the world, American. And he outperformed the 2nd best in the Majors - Hornsby and Gehrig - by a good margin. Why assume anybody else from any other country, playing in much weaker leagues, would have come in and given him a run for his money? Highly unlikely in my view.


      Metal Ed said ---"You can see it in the way that team winning percentages are being driven ever closer to .500, despite revenue gaps and free agency. What ABOUT those team winning percentages, anyway? Why has no one reacted to those after I brought them up? Why is the league becoming MORE competitive despite free agency and the money gap between big and small market teams? What other explanation can there be other than the simple explanation that the league is simply more competitive now? If theres some other explanation, I need to hear it."

      More teams, along with free agency, does make for a more competitive environment, but in a different way - because of diversity, not because of talent level. Thus, there are more teams and more divisions. In the 20's, the best teams had to play against eachother more often since the league was smaller. Looking through the 20's teams, the Yankees were usually on top, but certainly not without their contenders. St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York Giants, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. all had good teams. In fact, the Yanks only won 3 titles in the 20's when they should've won more, proving there was more than enough overall talent to knock them off any year. All in all, every era in history is competitive in its own way, and that's why I say they're all relative.

      Why should we always assume that today's athletes, or today's world for that matter, has it tougher than yesterday's - with all our access to better technology, medicine, less war and famine, more comfort, etc, etc. Sure, we have our problems, but so have other eras, and it's all relative.

      Getting back to baseball, you bring up good food for thought to munch on, Metal Ed. But to me it boils down to this -- Ruth beat the best in his day, Bonds beat the best in his day.
      Last edited by torez77; 02-22-2005, 02:36 PM.
      Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

      Comment


      • Hey Torrez- I'm out for the day. I'll give you a buzz tomorrow on this thread. Cool chatting with you.

        Comment


        • I would yield on the assumption that Ruth led the league in most slugging stats and home runs because he was the forerunner of the fence busters, thats true. Before I go any deeper on that first sentence let me remind others that some of Ruth's monster seasons still stand with the best even to the year 2004. Still some of the best slugging, OBA and OPS seasons you will see are in his name, more than a few times in the top ten single seasons in regards to those stats. So lets not keep the focus on how he did in his time, he is still near the top even with those that followed him.

          It's been over 80 seasons and no one has yet to reach base more often 379, equal him in total bases 457, extra base hits 119 and 177 runs scored. That 177 runs scored came in 1921 before Gehrig. Though runs scored unlike the other 3 stats is team aided, consider that Ruth had a great deal to do with all those runs scored. Scored himself 59 times, 59 home runs but also put himself in scoring position with 44 doubles and 16 triples.

          Ruth or Bonds have no advantage when it comes to batting average compared to the league in their time,same ball, same strike zone, same rules and same conditions. Both have it no more difficult or any easier than those that play in the league during the same period they do and Ruth did much better. Ruth hit 63 points higher than the league and Bonds hit 37 points over the league average. In 1923 Babe Ruth missed batting .400 by 4 base hits.
          If one were to go through news archives and look at the, daily or weekly seasonal stats you will see only two hitters that over their WHOLE career are at or near the top in home runs and batting average, almost always among the best in the league, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. I have seen others in those weekly stats that were often near the top in batting average, others in home runs, none like Ruth and Williams at the top in both. Some in some seasons, but none as consistent as Ruth and Williams over many seasons.

          From the start of the live ball era there have never been any better hitter/slugger over a whole career than these two hitters.
          Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 02-22-2005, 06:10 PM.

          Comment


          • All this doesn't account for pitching improving along with hitting. That could account for Ruth's counting totals keeping pace with modern players. I'm in the process of running a study based on standard deviation, variance, and the probability of a historic season occuring, ie 73 HRs vs 60 HRs. I'm excited to discover the results.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by therealnod
              All this doesn't account for pitching improving along with hitting. That could account for Ruth's counting totals keeping pace with modern players. I'm in the process of running a study based on standard deviation, variance, and the probability of a historic season occuring, ie 73 HRs vs 60 HRs. I'm excited to discover the results.
              Thats a tough one to clarify, many variables. even if we could determine pitching improvement over the years we then have to look at the park sizes, the strike zone and the ball in todays game. My point, if Ruth did have some favorable conditions with the level of pitching that could be negated to a degree, would the 1990s hitters hit all those home runs with the higher strike zone, bigger parks and the less lively ball. I could see some conditions favoring both time periods.

              I certainly can't give any numbers but it would seem like with 40-50 and even 60 home runs hit so often in the last ten seasons that a big strong guy with great wrists, reflexes and eyes would have to be right near the top.


              Good luck on the search.

              Comment


              • Okay, I'm back. Hello again to all.

                Torrez:

                >>>The gap between America's baseball and other countries was much wider than it is today, so there's no way you can say those countries' best players could have just come over to the Majors, surpassed Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb etc and given Ruth a run for his money.

                >>>>This goes back to my previous statement. The fact still remains that Ruth accomplished his career against the best baseball in the world, American. And he outperformed the 2nd best in the Majors - Hornsby and Gehrig - by a good margin. Why assume anybody else from any other country, playing in much weaker leagues, would have come in and given him a run for his money? Highly unlikely in my view.



                Torrez, I'm not arguing the point that Ruth WASN'T the best player of his era, or that somebody from one of those other leagues was better, or that those other leagues, on average, was better than the Majors. That's moving away from my intended point. My point was that expanding the population pool and diversifying the league makes the average player better - and thus puts less distance between the best in the league and the league average, making stand-out performances more difficult.

                Okay, please bear with me as I go off on a long tangent to illustrate. I think we can both agree that the Ruths and the Bonds of any particular era are going to hit the worst pitchers in their respective leagues better than the best ones. Okay, occasionally there's a guy with a 5.83 era who, for whatever reason, seems to have Bonds' number - exceptions like that do occur. But they are the exceptions. Same thing with the best pitchers vs. the worst hitters. Occasionally we find that a schlub with a career .207 average is in the lineup against the Big Unit simply because he's gone 9-for-16 against Randy Johnson. These things happen, but they are the exception that proves the rule. In general, the worst pitchers are the easiest to hit off of - that's why they are the worst pitchers (obviously); and the best hitters are the hardest to pitch to - that's why they are the best hitters.

                I'm not going to pull up the numbers on this one, but I'm sure that we can both agree that if we divided the league into quintiles of ability - say, top 20%, bottom 20%, etc. - we would no doubt find that the Ruths and the Bonds have their highest slugging percentages against the bottom 20% of the pitchers in their leagues, not against the top 20%. If you had to play the All-Star team everyday, your numbers wouldn't be very good, and it would not be because you're not good.

                Vice versa, if we divided the hitters into quintiles, I'll bet that the lowest opposing hitters' BA against Randy Johnson comes from the bottom 20% of the hitters in the league - not the top 20%.

                You said that: "Yes, the Major Leagues in the 20's may have been even stronger overall had you tossed out the worst whites and taken the best from the other countries and put them in." MAY have been? Pardon my french, but that's horse poopie, my friend. OF COURSE they would have been.

                Okay, I'm definitely NOT trying to say that Ruth would have been out of a job if the league had been integrated. Or Lou Gehrig, or Walter Johnson. OF COURSE those guys still make the team, integrated or not, and of course they'd perform at the top of the league. But that "top" spot would not be as high as it once was. It would not be as far above the average as it used to be. Because the bottom feeders in the league are gone. The bottom percentile is gone, replaced by another league's best.

                Come on. Do you honestly believe that the WORST player in the white big leagues in 1920 was still better than the BEST player in the Negro Leagues?

                OK, let's toss race out the window. I don't want to play the race card anyway. Hey, I'm not even balck. Take another white league. Do you honestly believe that the BEST player in the white Pacific Coast League was not as good as the worst player in the white Major Legaues? That not a single low level player could have been replaced by someone more qualified? What's the East got that's so special? Remember, the guys in the PCL weren't in the majors, not because they weren't good enough to play in the majors but because transportation wasn't sufficiently developed to bring them in and even give them a chance to contend. It wasn't unitl the late 30's and early 40's that these guys came in.

                Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams got started in the PCL. Had they been born 20 years earlier, we might have never heard their names, because they never would have made the majors. Don't tell me that there weren't ANY players in the PCL who couldn't have been better than the WORST players in the Majors in the 1920's.

                In the last 7 years of its existence, the Negro Leagues gave up HOFer's Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Lary Doby, and - pause for emphasis - Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. What would the previous 40 years of the Negor Leagues have yeilded? Not a SINGLE player who might have been better than the WORST player in the majors at the time?

                OF COURSE the best players in the PCL and Negro Leagues were better than the worst players in the Majors, and OF COURSE diversifying the league would have made it stronger. No "maybes" about it. How many of the majors bottom feeders would have been tossed out, replaced by someone better ? I don't know. The bottom 10%, the bottom 20%, the bottom 40%? I don't know, how many guys in the Majors today AREN'T from the white Northeast U.S.? Probably a lot.

                OF COURSE Ruth and Gehrig would still have been in an integrated league, and OF COURSE they'd still be in the elite. But now, the bottom 20% or 30% or whatever of the competition - the ones that they've been slapping silly - have gotten better. They're not going to slug 1.000, or whatever, against those guys anymore. The same thing goes for the top pitchers - with the bottom feeding hitters in the league having gotten better, the top pitchers stand out from the pack less so than before. When the bottom gets better, and the average gets better, the distance between the best players and the worst players will shrink. The best will still be the best, but by a smaller margin.

                Adjusting for the league mean - using OPS+ and ERA+ - only adjusts for the balance between offense and pitching in the league at the time. When we talk of OPS+ and ERA+, we are looking no longer at the balance between hitting and pitching, but at the balance between the top performances and the rest of the league. And that balance will almost always favor old players over modern ones. As the popuation from which players are drawn expands, and as talent pool thickens and the talent in the leagues becomes denser, the performance of the best players in the league, relative to their peers, is going to be dragged down by the fact that the average is now better. Going back to my IQ example, a man with an IQ of 165 in a room full of men with an average IQ of 100 has an IQ+ of 165, but at a Mensa meeting, his IQ+ is 165/150 = 110. It's not that he's gotten dumber; the competition has gotten stiffer.

                This affects both pitchers and hitters, because mean-adjusted stats compare players to their peers. That's why the best OPS+ guys are Ruth, Williams, Gehrig; that's why the best ERA+ guys are Grove and Walter Johnson (ok, Pedro Martinez, but that's because he's still young; as hs career moves forward, his numbers will drop).

                Actually, OPS and ERA are kind of limited. It's better to look at a broader stat, like Win Shares - something like 75 or 80 of the top 100, I can't remember, Win Shares totals are from before 1950. That's doesn't make any sense unless one realizes that the most talented players from that time were playing in a relatively talent-poor environment, allowing them to dominate their game that much more.

                In my first post in this thread, I said that any argument over whether Ruth was the greatest ever is going to boil down to how much one thinks the league has improved. I should rephrase that and say that it will degenerate into an argument over how much the average and below average players in the league have improved.






                >>>>>>More teams, along with free agency, does make for a more competitive environment, but in a different way - because of diversity, not because of talent level. Thus, there are more teams and more divisions. In the 20's, the best teams had to play against eachother more often since the league was smaller.


                But wouldn't have the opposite effect- wouldn't that drag down the winning percentages of the best teams, rather than raise them? I don't see how this is a refuation of what I was saying. Actually, it seem to strengthen my argument. If currently, the best teams play the worst teams more often, we should be seeing even bigger gaps in winning percentages.




                >>>Why should we always assume that today's athletes, or today's world for that matter, has it tougher than yesterday's - with all our access to better technology, medicine,



                Because those things are irrelevant when comparing players to their peers. ALL of today's athletes have these advantages, AND THEY ARE COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER. (god, someone please tell me how to italicize these things, I don't mean to shout.)

                It's not like Ruth was the only drunk, hot-dog-eating guy in a league full of athletes with access to modern medicine and training, and it's not like Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds are the only guys with access to modern medicine in a league full of drunken hot dog eaters. These things don't convey an advantage when we are talking about mean adjusted stats, BECAUSE MEAN ADJUSTED STATS COMPARE YOU TO YOUR PEERS AND ALL YOUR PEERS HAVE THESE "ADVANTAGES" TOO. (please help me italicize, I'm retarded.) It would be like saying track athletes have an advantage because they wear cleats now, and cleats help you run faster. Well, that's the playing field now.


                >>>>>Getting back to baseball, you bring up good food for thought to munch on, Metal Ed. But to me it boils down to this -- Ruth beat the best in his day, Bonds beat the best in his day.[/QUOTE]



                Yup, they are the best of their times. What this argument boils down to is: Ruth was way above the rest of the league in his day, more so than Bonds is above the league in his HIS (Bonds') day. The question is, how much higher is the playing field, and is it enough to send Bonds, or Schmidt, or Mays, or whomever you like, above Ruth? As I said when I jumped onto the thread, it comes down to how much higher you think the playing field has become - how much harder is it now to BE that much higher than the average player? How much better IS the average player?

                I don't know the answer. I'm not REALLY looking to convince everybody that Mike Schmidt and Barry Bonds are the greatest players who ever lived - because I'm not even sure if I totally believe it myself. I'm also far from convinced that Babe Ruth was the best, or that Josh Gibson was the best.

                I'm just trying to steer you away from the attitude that says "Look at their OPS+, look at how they dominated their leagues, badda-bing badda-boom, Babe's the best." It's not that simple. Mean-adjusted stats are helpful in adjusting for the balance between pitching and hitting for that era - not for the balance between the greats and the rest of the league.

                Comment


                • --ME, great post. You've summarized my own views on the topic better than I could have. BTW, if you highlight what you want in intalics and then click the slanted I at the top of the reply to post box you can avoid the shouting.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3
                    Thats a tough one to clarify, many variables. even if we could determine pitching improvement over the years we then have to look at the park sizes, the strike zone and the ball in todays game. My point, if Ruth did have some favorable conditions with the level of pitching that could be negated to a degree, would the 1990s hitters hit all those home runs with the higher strike zone, bigger parks and the less lively ball. I could see some conditions favoring both time periods.

                    I certainly can't give any numbers but it would seem like with 40-50 and even 60 home runs hit so often in the last ten seasons that a big strong guy with great wrists, reflexes and eyes would have to be right near the top.


                    Good luck on the search.


                    OK, what's the deal with the "livelier ball" stuff? Hasn't this been laid to rest already? Compression tests on the balls have not found a significant difference.

                    If it's anything, it's probably the extra coating of lacquer that they put on the bats these days to make them extra-hard that gives the ball extra jump. Anyway, all this stuff falls under the balance between pitching and hitting. Using mean-adjusted stats cancels that out.
                    Last edited by Metal Ed; 02-23-2005, 08:27 AM.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by leecemark
                      --ME, great post. You've summarized my own views on the topic better than I could have. BTW, if you highlight what you want in intalics and then click the slanted I at the top of the reply to post box you can avoid the shouting.

                      Thanks. Now I feel stupid.

                      Comment


                      • Did Mays or hammerin Hank or Rajah or Bonds or any other great hitter also own a scoreless inning World Series pitching record for 45 years?

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Metal Ed
                          Okay, I'm back. Hello again to all.

                          Torrez:

                          >>>The gap between America's baseball and other countries was much wider than it is today, so there's no way you can say those countries' best players could have just come over to the Majors, surpassed Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb etc and given Ruth a run for his money.

                          >>>>This goes back to my previous statement. The fact still remains that Ruth accomplished his career against the best baseball in the world, American. And he outperformed the 2nd best in the Majors - Hornsby and Gehrig - by a good margin. Why assume anybody else from any other country, playing in much weaker leagues, would have come in and given him a run for his money? Highly unlikely in my view.



                          Torrez, I'm not arguing the point that Ruth WASN'T the best player of his era, or that somebody from one of those other leagues was better, or that those other leagues, on average, was better than the Majors. That's moving away from my intended point. My point was that expanding the population pool and diversifying the league makes the average player better - and thus puts less distance between the best in the league and the league average, making stand-out performances more difficult.

                          Okay, please bear with me as I go off on a long tangent to illustrate. I think we can both agree that the Ruths and the Bonds of any particular era are going to hit the worst pitchers in their respective leagues better than the best ones. Okay, occasionally there's a guy with a 5.83 era who, for whatever reason, seems to have Bonds' number - exceptions like that do occur. But they are the exceptions. Same thing with the best pitchers vs. the worst hitters. Occasionally we find that a schlub with a career .207 average is in the lineup against the Big Unit simply because he's gone 9-for-16 against Randy Johnson. These things happen, but they are the exception that proves the rule. In general, the worst pitchers are the easiest to hit off of - that's why they are the worst pitchers (obviously); and the best hitters are the hardest to pitch to - that's why they are the best hitters.

                          I'm not going to pull up the numbers on this one, but I'm sure that we can both agree that if we divided the league into quintiles of ability - say, top 20%, bottom 20%, etc. - we would no doubt find that the Ruths and the Bonds have their highest slugging percentages against the bottom 20% of the pitchers in their leagues, not against the top 20%. If you had to play the All-Star team everyday, your numbers wouldn't be very good, and it would not be because you're not good.

                          Vice versa, if we divided the hitters into quintiles, I'll bet that the lowest opposing hitters' BA against Randy Johnson comes from the bottom 20% of the hitters in the league - not the top 20%.

                          You said that: "Yes, the Major Leagues in the 20's may have been even stronger overall had you tossed out the worst whites and taken the best from the other countries and put them in." MAY have been? Pardon my french, but that's horse poopie, my friend. OF COURSE they would have been.

                          Okay, I'm definitely NOT trying to say that Ruth would have been out of a job if the league had been integrated. Or Lou Gehrig, or Walter Johnson. OF COURSE those guys still make the team, integrated or not, and of course they'd perform at the top of the league. But that "top" spot would not be as high as it once was. It would not be as far above the average as it used to be. Because the bottom feeders in the league are gone. The bottom percentile is gone, replaced by another league's best.

                          Come on. Do you honestly believe that the WORST player in the white big leagues in 1920 was still better than the BEST player in the Negro Leagues?

                          OK, let's toss race out the window. I don't want to play the race card anyway. Hey, I'm not even balck. Take another white league. Do you honestly believe that the BEST player in the white Pacific Coast League was not as good as the worst player in the white Major Legaues? That not a single low level player could have been replaced by someone more qualified? What's the East got that's so special? Remember, the guys in the PCL weren't in the majors, not because they weren't good enough to play in the majors but because transportation wasn't sufficiently developed to bring them in and even give them a chance to contend. It wasn't unitl the late 30's and early 40's that these guys came in.

                          Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams got started in the PCL. Had they been born 20 years earlier, we might have never heard their names, because they never would have made the majors. Don't tell me that there weren't ANY players in the PCL who couldn't have been better than the WORST players in the Majors in the 1920's.

                          In the last 7 years of its existence, the Negro Leagues gave up HOFer's Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Lary Doby, and - pause for emphasis - Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. What would the previous 40 years of the Negor Leagues have yeilded? Not a SINGLE player who might have been better than the WORST player in the majors at the time?

                          OF COURSE the best players in the PCL and Negro Leagues were better than the worst players in the Majors, and OF COURSE diversifying the league would have made it stronger. No "maybes" about it. How many of the majors bottom feeders would have been tossed out, replaced by someone better ? I don't know. The bottom 10%, the bottom 20%, the bottom 40%? I don't know, how many guys in the Majors today AREN'T from the white Northeast U.S.? Probably a lot.

                          OF COURSE Ruth and Gehrig would still have been in an integrated league, and OF COURSE they'd still be in the elite. But now, the bottom 20% or 30% or whatever of the competition - the ones that they've been slapping silly - have gotten better. They're not going to slug 1.000, or whatever, against those guys anymore. The same thing goes for the top pitchers - with the bottom feeding hitters in the league having gotten better, the top pitchers stand out from the pack less so than before. When the bottom gets better, and the average gets better, the distance between the best players and the worst players will shrink. The best will still be the best, but by a smaller margin.

                          Adjusting for the league mean - using OPS+ and ERA+ - only adjusts for the balance between offense and pitching in the league at the time. When we talk of OPS+ and ERA+, we are looking no longer at the balance between hitting and pitching, but at the balance between the top performances and the rest of the league. And that balance will almost always favor old players over modern ones. As the popuation from which players are drawn expands, and as talent pool thickens and the talent in the leagues becomes denser, the performance of the best players in the league, relative to their peers, is going to be dragged down by the fact that the average is now better. Going back to my IQ example, a man with an IQ of 165 in a room full of men with an average IQ of 100 has an IQ+ of 165, but at a Mensa meeting, his IQ+ is 165/150 = 110. It's not that he's gotten dumber; the competition has gotten stiffer.

                          This affects both pitchers and hitters, because mean-adjusted stats compare players to their peers. That's why the best OPS+ guys are Ruth, Williams, Gehrig; that's why the best ERA+ guys are Grove and Walter Johnson (ok, Pedro Martinez, but that's because he's still young; as hs career moves forward, his numbers will drop).

                          Actually, OPS and ERA are kind of limited. It's better to look at a broader stat, like Win Shares - something like 75 or 80 of the top 100, I can't remember, Win Shares totals are from before 1950. That's doesn't make any sense unless one realizes that the most talented players from that time were playing in a relatively talent-poor environment, allowing them to dominate their game that much more.

                          In my first post in this thread, I said that any argument over whether Ruth was the greatest ever is going to boil down to how much one thinks the league has improved. I should rephrase that and say that it will degenerate into an argument over how much the average and below average players in the league have improved.






                          >>>>>>More teams, along with free agency, does make for a more competitive environment, but in a different way - because of diversity, not because of talent level. Thus, there are more teams and more divisions. In the 20's, the best teams had to play against eachother more often since the league was smaller.


                          But wouldn't have the opposite effect- wouldn't that drag down the winning percentages of the best teams, rather than raise them? I don't see how this is a refuation of what I was saying. Actually, it seem to strengthen my argument. If currently, the best teams play the worst teams more often, we should be seeing even bigger gaps in winning percentages.




                          >>>Why should we always assume that today's athletes, or today's world for that matter, has it tougher than yesterday's - with all our access to better technology, medicine,



                          Because those things are irrelevant when comparing players to their peers. ALL of today's athletes have these advantages, AND THEY ARE COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER. (god, someone please tell me how to italicize these things, I don't mean to shout.)

                          It's not like Ruth was the only drunk, hot-dog-eating guy in a league full of athletes with access to modern medicine and training, and it's not like Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds are the only guys with access to modern medicine in a league full of drunken hot dog eaters. These things don't convey an advantage when we are talking about mean adjusted stats, BECAUSE MEAN ADJUSTED STATS COMPARE YOU TO YOUR PEERS AND ALL YOUR PEERS HAVE THESE "ADVANTAGES" TOO. (please help me italicize, I'm retarded.) It would be like saying track athletes have an advantage because they wear cleats now, and cleats help you run faster. Well, that's the playing field now.


                          >>>>>Getting back to baseball, you bring up good food for thought to munch on, Metal Ed. But to me it boils down to this -- Ruth beat the best in his day, Bonds beat the best in his day.



                          Metal Ed said --- "You said that: "Yes, the Major Leagues in the 20's may have been even stronger overall had you tossed out the worst whites and taken the best from the other countries and put them in." MAY have been? Pardon my french, but that's horse poopie, my friend. OF COURSE they would have been."

                          The reason I say they MAY have been is because of the gap between the majors and the other leagues at that time. How much would the best from other countries dominate the worst in the majors? Would they make up the bottom 20%, or as you suggest, possibly the bottom 40%? That's quite a big number of players to throw out. Perhaps they would've, perhaps not. Why assume they would have just blown them all away? My point was that Ruth accomplished his stats against the best overall league in the world.

                          Metal Ed said--- "Don't tell me that there weren't ANY players in the PCL who couldn't have been better than the WORST players in the Majors in the 1920's."

                          I never said there weren't ANY. I only said the best of the other leagues' players wasn't as good as the best of the Majors.

                          Metal Ed said --- "Not a SINGLE player who might have been better than the WORST player in the majors at the time?"

                          Ditto. I never implied such a thing.

                          Metal Ed said --- "Adjusting for the league mean - using OPS+ and ERA+ - only adjusts for the balance between offense and pitching in the league at the time. When we talk of OPS+ and ERA+, we are looking no longer at the balance between hitting and pitching, but at the balance between the top performances and the rest of the league. And that balance will almost always favor old players over modern ones. As the popuation from which players are drawn expands, and as talent pool thickens and the talent in the leagues becomes denser, the performance of the best players in the league, relative to their peers, is going to be dragged down by the fact that the average is now better. Going back to my IQ example, a man with an IQ of 165 in a room full of men with an average IQ of 100 has an IQ+ of 165, but at a Mensa meeting, his IQ+ is 165/150 = 110. It's not that he's gotten dumber; the competition has gotten stiffer."

                          Yep, great point. I read you before. Don't think I ignored it. This makes the older players' stats look better. Which proves how much the game has changed.
                          All in all, it boils down to however you want to compare older vs. modern players - do we want to grab them from their respective eras, put them in a time machine and drop them off in an older or newer era, OR do we want to have them born at an older or newer time and have them start and finish their careers in those eras? I personally prefer the latter. Let's take Ruth vs. Bonds - if Ruth had been born when Bonds was born, how would he have done? And if Bonds had been born when Ruth was born, how would he have done? If Ruth had been born in the late 60's and started baseball in the late 80's, would he dominate the league by the same distance he did in the 20's? I would say no, and by your arguments, you say no. Some say he would because of the smaller strike zone, smaller parks, lower mounds, etc. But no, in my view, he wouldn't outdistance himself the way he did, because nobody else is now or has since the 20's.
                          Now let's do Bonds - if he had been born in the 1890's and started his career in the 20's would he dominate even more in the 20's than he has today (the last 4 years, mind you), minus all the offensive advantages today's game has? Ridiculous to automatically say yes, because he hasn't done it his whole career, and you have to count his whole career, not just the last 4 years.

                          Metal Ed said ---"Because those things are irrelevant when comparing players to their peers. ALL of today's athletes have these advantages, AND THEY ARE COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER. (god, someone please tell me how to italicize these things, I don't mean to shout.)
                          It's not like Ruth was the only drunk, hot-dog-eating guy in a league full of athletes with access to modern medicine and training, and it's not like Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds are the only guys with access to modern medicine in a league full of drunken hot dog eaters. These things don't convey an advantage when we are talking about mean adjusted stats, BECAUSE MEAN ADJUSTED STATS COMPARE YOU TO YOUR PEERS AND ALL YOUR PEERS HAVE THESE "ADVANTAGES" TOO. (please help me italicize, I'm retarded.) It would be like saying track athletes have an advantage because they wear cleats now, and cleats help you run faster. Well, that's the playing field now."

                          Exactly my point. The advantages or disadvantages a player has in his era, all of his peers have those too. Ruth played in his time, Bonds played in his. Is it just tougher to succeed nowadays then back then? All conditions are relative.

                          Metal Ed said ---"But wouldn't have the opposite effect- wouldn't that drag down the winning percentages of the best teams, rather than raise them? I don't see how this is a refuation of what I was saying. Actually, it seem to strengthen my argument. If currently, the best teams play the worst teams more often, we should be seeing even bigger gaps in winning percentages."

                          Maybe I phrased it wrong. At any rate, looking at the teams in the 20's and what happened, you can see there was more than enough competition. This goes back to the peers vs. peers argument. Also, what about the Yankees 114-48 record in '98? Every year, there are modern-day teams that win over 100 games. All in all, more teams are above .500, but there are more than enough sub-.500 teams and bottom feeders that the best teams can feast on. I really don't see the big difference in competition. Again, this goes back to the peers vs. peers argument. It's all relative.

                          Metal Ed said ---"Yup, they are the best of their times. What this argument boils down to is: Ruth was way above the rest of the league in his day, more so than Bonds is above the league in his HIS (Bonds') day. The question is, how much higher is the playing field, and is it enough to send Bonds, or Schmidt, or Mays, or whomever you like, above Ruth? As I said when I jumped onto the thread, it comes down to how much higher you think the playing field has become - how much harder is it now to BE that much higher than the average player? How much better IS the average player?

                          I don't know the answer. I'm not REALLY looking to convince everybody that Mike Schmidt and Barry Bonds are the greatest players who ever lived - because I'm not even sure if I totally believe it myself. I'm also far from convinced that Babe Ruth was the best, or that Josh Gibson was the best.

                          I'm just trying to steer you away from the attitude that says "Look at their OPS+, look at how they dominated their leagues, badda-bing badda-boom, Babe's the best." It's not that simple. Mean-adjusted stats are helpful in adjusting for the balance between pitching and hitting for that era - not for the balance between the greats and the rest of the league."

                          Nice post, Metal Ed. I understand your point of view, and you're right that the league has become more diversified. No doubt about it. It's a different game now. Again, my main point is - it's all relative. What the old players accomplished happened in their day under their conditions, what the new players are accomplishing now is happening under their conditions. Above, I told you how I compare older vs. modern players.
                          When debating what might have been, I guess I don't like to assume when trying to prove an argument, but go by what actually happened. Of course, no one person here at Baseball Fever is 100% right, but that's what this forum is for - to have fun with theories and assume, when comparing eras, and it is fun to do so. When all is said and done, I like to revert back to what actually happened, especially when I'm debating a point, so then I have leverage with the facts.
                          OK, once when I'm done speculating and playing alternate history, what do I do? I go back to what actually happened. When comparing Ruth vs. Bonds, go back to my post of Ruth's stats vs. Bonds' stats. This is what it boils down to - for me anyway.
                          Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

                          Comment


                          • Cool, Torrez. I think we're winding down this debate here; I think we've both made our points. This is my last little bit here, unless someone else wants to jump in and rumble with me:


                            >>>>Above, I told you how I compare older vs. modern players.
                            When debating what might have been, I guess I don't like to assume when trying to prove an argument, but go by what actually happened. Of course, no one person here at Baseball Fever is 100% right, but that's what this forum is for - to have fun with theories and assume, when comparing eras, and it is fun to do so. When all is said and done, I like to revert back to what actually happened, especially when I'm debating a point, so then I have leverage with the facts.
                            OK, once when I'm done speculating and playing alternate history, what do I do? I go back to what actually happened. When comparing Ruth vs. Bonds, go back to my post of Ruth's stats vs. Bonds' stats. This is what it boils down to - for me anyway.



                            That's fine; but since you mentioned assumptions, I just wanted to make you aware of the assumption (that I perceive is) inherit in this approach that you use: the assumption that being 207% of the league average in 1920 was the same thing as being 207% of the league average in 2004. The assumption that the league averages are necessarily at the same level; the assumption that being twice as good as the average player then was the same thing as being twice as good as the average player now. I don't think that's valid because I think the average player is better now, so it is harder to be twice as good as average. But, I do agree with you that, relative to the rest of the league, no one ever dominated like Babe Ruth did. And no one ever will. Well, Barry Bonds from 2001-2004......but not career wise. Which brings up another point: How do we determine the balance career value and peak value in judging players? There's an idea for a new thread.

                            I will try to find a web site that shows the change in winning percentages over time. The 1998 Yankees played .700 ball and were a big anomaly for modern baseball. If I can find a plot on the web of winning percentages I'll send it your way.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Metal Ed
                              Cool, Torrez. I think we're winding down this debate here; I think we've both made our points. This is my last little bit here, unless someone else wants to jump in and rumble with me:


                              >>>>Above, I told you how I compare older vs. modern players.
                              When debating what might have been, I guess I don't like to assume when trying to prove an argument, but go by what actually happened. Of course, no one person here at Baseball Fever is 100% right, but that's what this forum is for - to have fun with theories and assume, when comparing eras, and it is fun to do so. When all is said and done, I like to revert back to what actually happened, especially when I'm debating a point, so then I have leverage with the facts.
                              OK, once when I'm done speculating and playing alternate history, what do I do? I go back to what actually happened. When comparing Ruth vs. Bonds, go back to my post of Ruth's stats vs. Bonds' stats. This is what it boils down to - for me anyway.



                              That's fine; but since you mentioned assumptions, I just wanted to make you aware of the assumption (that I perceive is) inherit in this approach that you use: the assumption that being 207% of the league average in 1920 was the same thing as being 207% of the league average in 2004. The assumption that the league averages are necessarily at the same level; the assumption that being twice as good as the average player then was the same thing as being twice as good as the average player now. I don't think that's valid because I think the average player is better now, so it is harder to be twice as good as average. But, I do agree with you that, relative to the rest of the league, no one ever dominated like Babe Ruth did. And no one ever will. Well, Barry Bonds from 2001-2004......but not career wise. Which brings up another point: How do we determine the balance career value and peak value in judging players? There's an idea for a new thread.

                              I will try to find a web site that shows the change in winning percentages over time. The 1998 Yankees played .700 ball and were a big anomaly for modern baseball. If I can find a plot on the web of winning percentages I'll send it your way.
                              I just thought of something, Metal Ed. I had this in the back of my head before, but it hasn't come out until now. Sometimes I'm kinda slow. It kind of goes along with what I've been saying all along.
                              Let's just imagine that in the 20's the league had become more diversified and the best players from all leagues came into the Majors, and thus it would have become more balanced, just as it is more balanced today. The pitching would be better. Thus, we can assume Ruth's numbers would have declined, as would have everybody else's. Get my drift, here? Ruth outdid the 2nd best in the Majors by a wide margin. So why would that margin get smaller if everybody else along with Ruth is getting worse?
                              Again, it's all relative.
                              Last edited by torez77; 02-23-2005, 02:06 PM.
                              Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

                              Comment


                              • All of the current major leaguers in the 20's would've experienced a numbers drop, but the bottom end players wouldn't be playing as better talent would've replaced them. So the talent becomes higher and more compact.

                                To use a scale let's say there are a 100 players. The average player is rated a 50 and Ruth is a 100. That means Ruth is 200% of the average player (about his career OPS+). Now let's say the bottom 20 players average a rating of 20. Get rid of them, and replace them with the best players from the Pacific Coast League, the Negro League, the Mexican and Cuban Leagues. These replacements average a 60 rating. Now the average player in the league is rated a 58. Ruth is still a 100, but the distance between him and league is less. I hope this numerical analogy makes sense.
                                "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)

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