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  • Cobb vs. Wagner

    Just thought I'd stir up another debate here - Ty Cobb vs. Honus Wagner! It's been done before, but I wasn't here for all of it. Some people on this board rank either Cobb or Wagner #1, and I want to see those 2 stand off.

    Bill - rest assured, Cobb gets my vote 100% here!
    100
    Wagner was greater than Cobb.
    23.00%
    23
    Cobb was greater than Wagner.
    72.00%
    72
    Cobb was one of the 2 greatest players ever.
    30.00%
    30
    Wagner was one of the 2 greatest players ever.
    10.00%
    10
    Ranking Ty Cobb lower than 5th all time is "reasonable".
    30.00%
    30
    Ranking Ty Cobb lower than 5th all time is NOT "reasonable"
    41.00%
    41
    Ranking Wagner lower than 5th all time is "reasonable".
    33.00%
    33
    Ranking Wagner lower than 5th all time is NOT "reasonable.
    32.00%
    32
    Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

  • #2
    Originally posted by torez77
    Just thought I'd stir up another debate here - Ty Cobb vs. Honus Wagner! It's been done before, but I wasn't here for all of it. Some people on this board rank either Cobb or Wagner #1, and I want to see those 2 stand off.

    Bill - rest assured, Cobb gets my vote 100% here!
    I'm fired up!!!! :radio I will post my defense of Wagner really soon.

    Mr Cobb was a fantasic player but he was no Wagner...

    Somehow, I believe that Bill and I will have serious disagreements...
    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'm fired up!!!! :radio I will post my defense of Wagner really soon.

      Mr Cobb was a fantasic player but he was no Wagner...

      Somehow, I believe that Bill and I will have serious disagreements...
      Don't see how you can do it Honus, but there's no law against trying...
      Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by torez77
        Just thought I'd stir up another debate here - Ty Cobb vs. Honus Wagner! It's been done before, but I wasn't here for all of it. Some people on this board rank either Cobb or Wagner #1, and I want to see those 2 stand off.

        Bill - rest assured, Cobb gets my vote 100% here!
        They were BOTH bums
        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


        • #5
          Originally posted by RuthMayBond
          They were BOTH bums
          But Cobb is a bit more "bummier" than The Flying Dutchman!
          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

          Comment


          • #6
            Although people nowadays tend to see them as contempoararies, they weren't exactly. Honus, twelve years older than Ty, played from 1897 through 1917; Cobb's playing career ran from 1905 through 1928. Cobb's league didn't even exist when Wagner began his career. Quality of play, style of play, playing conditions, all need to be kept in mind when comparing their records.

            I'll take Wagner, simply because (1) an truly outstanding shortstop is inherently far more valuable than a good outfielder, and (2) Cobb was a truly outstanding hitter, but Honus could make contact every now & then himself.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by westsidegrounds; 03-11-2005, 03:32 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by westsidegrounds
              Although people nowadays tend to see them as contempoararies, they weren't exactly. Honus, twelve years older than Ty, played from 1897 through 1917; Cobb's playing career ran from 1905 through 1928. Cobb's league didn't even exist when Wagner began his career. Quality of play, style of play, playing conditions, all need to be kept in mind when comparing their records.

              I'll take Wagner, simply because (1) an truly outstanding shortstop is inherently far more valuable than a good outfielder, and (2) Cobb was a truly outstanding hitter, but Honus could make contact every now & then himself.
              A very observant post.

              Wagner, actually, over 13 years older than Cobb, played a "power" game. Though he never led the NL in HRs he led many many times in doubles, triples, and slugging percentage. His 1908 season is one of the greatest. By the Win Shares method it is the most dominant season of the 20th century, even better than Ruth's best season. Of course Win Shares is just one method to "score" the best seasons and may or may not be the best method.

              When Cobb met Wagner in the 1909 World Series, Wagner was already 35 years old while Cobb was just 22 going on 23. Their age differences are about the same as Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran...
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                A very observant post.

                Wagner, actually, over 13 years older than Cobb, played a "power" game. Though he never led the NL in HRs he led many many times in doubles, triples, and slugging percentage.
                Surprisingly, in those 3 areas combined, I see Wagner leads Cobb by 1 year in how many years he led the league, 16-15. But did Wagner have any stat that could come close to matching Cobb's 12 batting titles in 13 seasons? I think not!
                His 1908 season is one of the greatest. By the Win Shares method it is the most dominant season of the 20th century, even better than Ruth's best season. Of course Win Shares is just one method to "score" the best seasons and may or may not be the best method. I take it you're counting defense in those WS too, right? Please show me the numbers. I gotta see this!

                When Cobb met Wagner in the 1909 World Series, Wagner was already 35 years old while Cobb was just 22 going on 23. Their age differences are about the same as Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran...
                When comparing Wagner to Cobb, I do it much like I compare Cobb to Ruth. Cobb and Wagner both played in the deadball era. Wagner was king from 1900 til 1907 when Cobb came along and took his throne. I am surprised to see that Wagner has Cobb beat in OPS+ in the years 1907-1909. But from 1910 on, it's no contest. Wagner was 36 by this time, however.
                Maybe this is closer than I thought. The fact remains, however, that Cobb dominated his league from 1910-20 more spectacularly than Wagner did in the 1900's. And overall, Cobb beats Wagner 167-150 in OPS+, has him beat by a wide margin in Win Shares (Cobb has 722, not sure what Honus has, don't have James' book) and all of the other adjusted stats. Not even close.

                Running - Cobb by a good margin.
                Fielding - Ooh, I'd have to say Honus, since he fielded a more difficult position and was more diverse.
                Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Times in the Top Ten in Their League in Various Categories:


                  BA: Cobb 20, Wagner 15
                  OBP: Cobb 21, Wagner 14
                  SB: Cobb 16, Wagner 10
                  SLG: Cobb 16, Wagner 15
                  R: Cobb 16, Wagner 12
                  H: Cobb 15, Wagner 13
                  TB: Cobb 15, Wagner 15
                  2B: Cobb 14, Wagner 15
                  3B: Cobb 15, Wagner 10
                  RBI: Cobb 13, Wagner 16
                  Adj OPS+: Cobb 14, Wagner 16
                  Power/Speed #: Cobb 12, Wagner 13

                  That's only one of the ways to look at them, of course; but they're not miles apart as hitters.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by westsidegrounds
                    Times in the Top Ten in Their League in Various Categories:


                    BA: Cobb 20, Wagner 15
                    OBP: Cobb 21, Wagner 14
                    SB: Cobb 16, Wagner 10
                    SLG: Cobb 16, Wagner 15
                    R: Cobb 16, Wagner 12
                    H: Cobb 15, Wagner 13
                    TB: Cobb 15, Wagner 15
                    2B: Cobb 14, Wagner 15
                    3B: Cobb 15, Wagner 10
                    RBI: Cobb 13, Wagner 16
                    Adj OPS+: Cobb 14, Wagner 16
                    Power/Speed #: Cobb 12, Wagner 13

                    That's only one of the ways to look at them, of course; but they're not miles apart as hitters.
                    Great idea for a thread, Torrez!!! Great to see your support, too!

                    Wagner played the years 1901 till about 1904 in a league that had lost 70% of its players to the upstart American League, which offered much better salaries. The fact that he was playing in a very diluted league for at least a few years doesn't show up in any statistic.

                    That historical caveat aside...

                    Win Shares- Cobb, 722 Wagner 655
                    OPS+ Cobb 168 (8th alltime), Wagner 151 (32nd alltime)

                    http://www.baseball-reference.com/le..._monitor.shtml
                    http://www.baseball-reference.com/le...standard.shtml
                    http://www.baseball-reference.com/le...lack_ink.shtml
                    http://www.baseball-reference.com/le...gray_ink.shtml

                    There are a million other stats I could site where Cobb comes out ahead- and he also had the overwhelming support of the greatest baseball experts of the era.

                    If one wants to argue Wagner was more valuable because he was a SS (and leave it at that), I can't really argue against that. Perhaps you'd be correct.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by csh19792001
                      OPS+ Cobb 168 (8th alltime), Wagner 151 (32nd alltime)
                      That gap closes very quickly when you consider that Wagner was an elite shortstop, even though Cobb was an elite center fielder. (I know you said it at the end of your post, just putting my opinion out there)

                      WARP
                      Cobb- 121.1
                      Wagner- 121.5

                      WARP/162
                      Cobb- 6.5
                      Wagner- 7.0

                      Adjusted for all-time
                      FRAR
                      Cobb- 375
                      Wagner- 635

                      FRAR/162
                      Cobb- 20
                      Wagner- 37

                      FRAA
                      Cobb- -5
                      Wagner- 167

                      FRAA/162
                      Cobb- 0
                      Wagner- 10

                      Hitting/Fielding runs above replacement
                      Cobb- 1713
                      Wagner- 1598

                      Hitting/Fielding runs above replacement/162
                      Cobb- 91
                      Wagner- 93

                      Hitting/Fielding runs above average
                      Cobb- 974
                      Wagner- 789

                      Hitting/Fielding runs above replacement
                      Cobb- 52
                      Wagner- 46

                      In the end, Cobb is better/season, but what do you want? A SS putting up those numbers, or an outfielder putting up those numbers, and the SS plays far superior defense.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by csh19792001
                        Great idea for a thread, Torrez!!! Great to see your support, too!
                        If one wants to argue Wagner was more valuable because he was a SS (and leave it at that), I can't really argue against that. Perhaps you'd be correct.
                        That's my position, anyhow - that Wagner's defense conterbalances Cobb's edge in hitting.

                        As to the question of league quality, remember Honus spent four seasons in the NL when that was the only Major League around - and therefor presumably tougher than either of the post-1900 leagues. So maybe that balances out.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by torez77
                          When comparing Wagner to Cobb, I do it much like I compare Cobb to Ruth. Cobb and Wagner both played in the deadball era. Wagner was king from 1900 til 1907 when Cobb came along and took his throne. I am surprised to see that Wagner has Cobb beat in OPS+ in the years 1907-1909. But from 1910 on, it's no contest. Wagner was 36 by this time, however.
                          What's the point of comparing a player past his prime with one just entering his prime? That's not a fair comparison.
                          Maybe this is closer than I thought. The fact remains, however, that Cobb dominated his league from 1910-20 more spectacularly than Wagner did in the 1900's. And overall, Cobb beats Wagner 167-150 in OPS+, has him beat by a wide margin in Win Shares (Cobb has 722, not sure what Honus has, don't have James' book) and all of the other adjusted stats. Not even close.
                          Ah, that stats game. I can come up with other sabermetric values that put Wagner in front of Cobb.

                          Check this out...

                          http://members.cox.net/~harlowk22/atgwsobj.html

                          Also Wanger was a spectacular SS and Cobb was a good center Fielder. Also, Wagner led his team to a World Title and Cobb did not. Also, the people who ACTUALLY SAW the both of them were far more imporessed by Wagner.

                          Here are some quotes from eye witnessess:

                          This is quote from Fred Lieb’s book, Baseball As I have Known It, pg 45:

                          Barrow blamed Wagner’s failure to hit more home runs (101) on the dead ball used during Wagner’s entire twenty-one year career. “If Wagner had batted against the lively ball he would have fifty home runs almost every year.”


                          Here is more...

                          Here is a quote from Sam Crawford, a contemporary of Wagner from The Glory of Their Times, page 59:

                          Cobb could only play the outfield, and even there his arm wasn’t anything extra special. But Honus Wagner could play any position. He could do anything. In fact, when I first played against him he was an outfielder, and then a third baseman, and later the greatest shortstop of them all. Honus could play any position except pitcher and be easily the best in the league at it…The greatest ballplayer who ever lived, in my book.

                          Again from the same book, here is a quote from Jimmy Austin, another player from the dead ball era, page 89:

                          I guess when you talk about the greatest baseball player who ever lived it has to be either the Babe, Ty Cobb, or Honus Wagner.


                          Here is more from Fred Lieb, from his wonderful book, Baseball As I have Known It, page 45:

                          Two smart efficient baseball men, John McGraw and Ed Barrow, were better positioned that Kuhn and they didn’t forget it. Both McGraw and Barrow rated Wagner as baseball’s number one player of all time, putting the Dutchman ahead of even Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb…McGraw said, “I consider Wagner not only the number one shortstop, but had he played in any other position other than pitcher, he would have been equally great at the other seven positions. He was the closest thing to a perfect player no matter where his manager chose to play him.”


                          Running - Cobb by a good margin.
                          Fielding - Ooh, I'd have to say Honus, since he fielded a more difficult position and was more diverse.
                          Cobb, a better baserunner? It'a pretty much a toss up between the two of them. Both had tremendous base running skills.
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by csh19792001
                            That historical caveat aside...

                            Win Shares- Cobb, 722 Wagner 655
                            OPS+ Cobb 168 (8th alltime), Wagner 151 (32nd alltime)

                            ...

                            If one wants to argue Wagner was more valuable because he was a SS (and leave it at that), I can't really argue against that. Perhaps you'd be correct.
                            If you want more win shares data:

                            Win Shares by Season, Wagner
                            1897: 9 (132-game season)
                            1898: 22
                            1899: 26
                            1900: 34 (140-game season)
                            1901: 37 (140-game season)
                            1902: 35 (140-game season)
                            1903: 35 (140-game season)
                            1904: 43
                            1905: 46
                            1906: 45
                            1907: 44
                            1908: 59
                            1909: 43
                            1910: 30
                            1911: 30
                            1912: 35
                            1913: 18
                            1914: 19
                            1915: 23
                            1916: 17
                            1917: 5

                            Ty Cobb
                            1905: 4
                            1906: 16
                            1907: 41
                            1908: 36
                            1909: 44
                            1910: 46
                            1911: 48
                            1912: 40
                            1913: 31
                            1914: 26
                            1915: 49
                            1916: 40
                            1917: 46
                            1918: 31 (126 games played when season suspended)
                            1919: 32 (140-game season)
                            1920: 20
                            1921: 26
                            1922: 29
                            1923: 24
                            1924: 27
                            1925: 25
                            1926: 10
                            1927: 22
                            1928: 13

                            If you look only at a player's best five consecutive seasons, then Wagner's 237 win shares put him first; Cobb's 215 is good for seventh.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                              What's the point of comparing a player past his prime with one just entering his prime? That's not a fair comparison.
                              Ah, that stats game. I can come up with other sabermetric values that put Wagner in front of Cobb.

                              Check this out...

                              http://members.cox.net/~harlowk22/atgwsobj.html

                              Also Wanger was a spectacular SS and Cobb was a good center Fielder. Also, Wagner led his team to a World Title and Cobb did not. Also, the people who ACTUALLY SAW the both of them were far more imporessed by Wagner.

                              Here are some quotes from eye witnessess:

                              This is quote from Fred Lieb’s book, Baseball As I have Known It, pg 45:

                              Barrow blamed Wagner’s failure to hit more home runs (101) on the dead ball used during Wagner’s entire twenty-one year career. “If Wagner had batted against the lively ball he would have fifty home runs almost every year.”


                              Here is more...

                              Here is a quote from Sam Crawford, a contemporary of Wagner from The Glory of Their Times, page 59:

                              Cobb could only play the outfield, and even there his arm wasn’t anything extra special. But Honus Wagner could play any position. He could do anything. In fact, when I first played against him he was an outfielder, and then a third baseman, and later the greatest shortstop of them all. Honus could play any position except pitcher and be easily the best in the league at it…The greatest ballplayer who ever lived, in my book.

                              Again from the same book, here is a quote from Jimmy Austin, another player from the dead ball era, page 89:

                              I guess when you talk about the greatest baseball player who ever lived it has to be either the Babe, Ty Cobb, or Honus Wagner.


                              Here is more from Fred Lieb, from his wonderful book, Baseball As I have Known It, page 45:

                              Two smart efficient baseball men, John McGraw and Ed Barrow, were better positioned that Kuhn and they didn’t forget it. Both McGraw and Barrow rated Wagner as baseball’s number one player of all time, putting the Dutchman ahead of even Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb…McGraw said, “I consider Wagner not only the number one shortstop, but had he played in any other position other than pitcher, he would have been equally great at the other seven positions. He was the closest thing to a perfect player no matter where his manager chose to play him.”




                              Cobb, a better baserunner? It'a pretty much a toss up between the two of them. Both had tremendous base running skills.
                              And we all know how Burgess respects eyewitnesses
                              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

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