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Kid Nichols - How Good Was He?

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  • Kid Nichols - How Good Was He?

    It seems that in the greatest pitcher threads on Fever, Kid Nichols typically doesn't show up in the top ten....or the top fifteen judging by the most recent thread. I'm guessing that while there are a fair number of posters that have him in the top ten, there are plenty that don't rank him highly at all dropping him down to about #20 overall. Bill James had him at #9 in his 2001 Abstract.

    Granted, 2001 was 8 years ago and I'd expect people like Maddux, Clemens, Pedro and Unit would be higher now than then. But it still seems that Nichols is held in a bit lower regard here than on James' list. I'm wondering why? Perhaps because 19th century pitchers fare well on Win Shares, thus inflating him in James' system? Or a bias against 19th century players in general on Fever?

    How good was the Kid? Any modern-day comps?

  • #2
    Seems to me like Nichols is almost always in the top 13 or so when we do those polls.
    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

    1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

    1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


    The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
    The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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    • #3
      Here's something I wrote about Nichols elsewhere on this site:

      Kid Nichols

      This guy is a vastly underappreciated great. He was

      in the top five in ERA 9 times;
      7th in career wins;
      3 time leader and ten times in the top 10 in wins;
      42d in win loss percentage;
      in the top 10 in win-loss percentage 9 times;
      14th in career ERA+;
      led the league in ERA+ twice and was in the top 10 twelve times;
      41st among pitchers in black ink;
      9th among pitchers in gray ink; and
      8th among pitchers in HOF standards.

      If that doesn't convince you, let's look at his win share scores against his top contemporaries:

      Code:
      Pitcher....	career	best3	5Consecutive
      Radbourn..	391	199	270
      Clarkson..	396	173	248
      Rusieā€¦....	293	137	205
      Nichols....	479	135	208
      Young.....	635	127	200
      Willis.......	293	101	138
      Mathewson..	426	115	161
      McGinnity..	269	117	162
      Griffith.....	273	96	143
      Plank......	360	89	133
      Waddell....	240	100	145
      Chesbro....	209	103	143
      Nichols beats everybody but Cy Young on the career level, and gives serious ground to Radbourn and Clarkson on the peak measures (he does get edged by Rusie, but his career advantage is so huge it overcomes that) that you can at least argue for those two over him. That still puts him ahead of HOFers like Willis, Mathewson (!), McGinnity, Griffith (though he has other credits), Plank, Waddell and Chesbro.

      Nichols is difficult to compare, though, because he's one of the rare ones to make it through the transition to the 60 feet, 6 inches pitching distance.
      Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
      Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
      A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've got Nichols ranked #10, between Seaver and Martinez.

        Comment


        • #5
          Behind only Young from 1890 to 1905.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's a shame that Nichols left the majors to own and manage Kansas City in 1902 and 1903. He very likely would have 400 career wins had he not done so, and would consequently get more love.

            He was also amazingly consistent, and out Younged Cy Young in the 1890s- seven 30 win seasons is more than anyone else ever had.
            "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by STLCards2 View Post
              Seems to me like Nichols is almost always in the top 13 or so when we do those polls.
              In the most recent "greatest player by position" thread, Nichols did not crack the top 15. And I believe in a recent "greatest pitchers" thread, he also did not make the top 15 and while getting some support, did not appear to be a lock to make the top 20 had that thread not died. I've got him around #10 - maybe that's a slot or two too high, but not making the top 15 or top 20 just seems too low to me. He pitched during a high offensive era in which many pitchers gave up a lot of runs. And, as was already mentioned, he pitched very well when the pitching mound was 50 feet from home and as well (or better if using ERA+) when it was moved to 60 feet, 6 inches in 1893. I get the impression he would have been a great pitcher in any era. I get the sense that he is a bit of a victim from a 19th century bias.

              Comment


              • #8
                who ranks Nichols where?

                The Hall of Merit ranks Nichols number six among pitchers who worked primarily 1893 to 1923, behind Johnson, Young, Alexander, Williams, and Mathewson. Ranking all 63 member pitchers is one matter for this fall, with discussion now open and election probably next month. (Pitchers Combined Ballot Discussion)


                The Top 100 Pitchers project, last year in the Hall of Fame forum, selected pitchers in ten tiers of size twenty. There was no ranking within tiers but the numbers of votes for election to the first tier shows two clear gaps, one between 15 and 16, another between 17 and 18.

                Nichols and Sandy Koufax are the two who evidently rank 16 and 17 in some order. Here are the fifteen clearly ahead of them. (Choosing Tier 1, closed)


                Top 15 inferred from Top 100 Pitchers, tier 1
                Young, Mathewson, Johnson, Alexander
                Grove, Paige, Feller, Spahn
                Gibson, Seaver, Carlton
                Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Martinez


                Nichols was the 13th pitcher named by the "Collaboration" to rank at least 500 players, underway in the Hall of Fame forum. There he follows twelve of the "Top 15 inferred" above and he precedes three: Feller, Gibson, and Carlton. (Collaboration, ranking now in the low 200s)


                Almost ten years ago Bill James in the New BJHBA named Nichols number nine in the major leagues. He did not consider the Negro Leagues (Paige) or the whole careers of Clemens and younger pitchers. Otherwise he put Nichols ahead of Feller and Carlton among the fifteen named above.


                add:
                In this forum last week about twenty readers voted Kid Nichols "15th Greatest Pitcher". Thus he follows fourteen of the "Top 15 inferred" above and he precedes one: Carlton. Numbers one to fifteen have been named by a continuing series of five-man rank-order ballots; the "16th" is now underway. (16th Greatest Pitcher)
                Last edited by Paul Wendt; 09-24-2009, 12:02 PM. Reason: add "15th Greatest Pitcher" poll

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Buzzaldrin View Post
                  It's a shame that Nichols left the majors to own and manage Kansas City in 1902 and 1903. He very likely would have 400 career wins had he not done so, and would consequently get more love.
                  And had he got more than 94% of average run support, compared with Matty's and Spahn's 108%.
                  I have him at about ninth
                  Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                  Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CTaka View Post
                    In the most recent "greatest player by position" thread, Nichols did not crack the top 15. And I believe in a recent "greatest pitchers" thread, he also did not make the top 15 and while getting some support, did not appear to be a lock to make the top 20 had that thread not died. I've got him around #10 - maybe that's a slot or two too high, but not making the top 15 or top 20 just seems too low to me. He pitched during a high offensive era in which many pitchers gave up a lot of runs. And, as was already mentioned, he pitched very well when the pitching mound was 50 feet from home and as well (or better if using ERA+) when it was moved to 60 feet, 6 inches in 1893. I get the impression he would have been a great pitcher in any era. I get the sense that he is a bit of a victim from a 19th century bias.
                    Well, he had been running near 13- 15 in past years. I wonder why he is sliding?
                    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                    1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                    1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                    The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                    The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by STLCards2 View Post
                      Well, he had been running near 13- 15 in past years. I wonder why he is sliding?
                      BBFers are
                      trying to tag him
                      as an irrelevant old-timer
                      Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                      Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RuthMayBond View Post
                        BBFers are
                        trying to tag him
                        as an irrelevant old-timer
                        Could be, but it sems to me like a lot of the most vocal massive LQ adjusters have been around less, not more lately.
                        1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                        1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                        1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                        The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                        The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by STLCards2 View Post
                          Well, he had been running near 13- 15 in past years. I wonder why he is sliding?
                          Maybe because he hasn't had a great season in the past couple of years?

                          I think part of it is a bias against 19th century players. Some have a feeling of "it was a different game then, different conditions, so since I don't know how to account for that, I'll just rate them low."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CTaka View Post
                            Maybe because he hasn't had a great season in the past couple of years?

                            I think part of it is a bias against 19th century players. Some have a feeling of "it was a different game then, different conditions, so since I don't know how to account for that, I'll just rate them low."
                            Oh come on, there are just as many if not more guys around here who glamorize/idolize old players and come up with any reason possible to make current players look bad. Many completely ignore LQ all together including integration, etc. which is way more laughable than putting Nichols down a few slots.

                            The biases run both ways.
                            1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                            1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                            1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                            The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                            The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by STLCards2 View Post
                              Oh come on, there are just as many if not more guys around here who glamorize/idolize old players and come up with any reason possible to make current players look bad. Many completely ignore LQ all together including integration, etc. which is way more laughable than putting Nichols down a few slots.

                              The biases run both ways.
                              I think the "glamorization", if it is there, starts with the deadball era. I disagree that 19th century players have been "glamorized/idolized" - to the contrary, I think they are more often dismissed as "irrelevant".

                              Comment

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