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Mike Piazza vs Josh Gibson

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  • Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
    This is why it is hard (I firmly believe impossible) to compare players who played decades apart. Let's look at Piazza and Gibson for example. Josh Gibson played his last Negro League game 46 years before Piazza played his first major league game. They played in vastly different playing environments. They played against completely different set of competition (different pitchers who emphasized different pitching strategies), different ballparks, different baseball gloves, different baseballs, different bats, different rules, different strategies, and vastly different schedule lengths. Gibson played almost entirely day games while Piazza played day and night games. Gibson didn't wear a batting helmet and Piazza did. Given the desperate playing conditions they played IMO there is no rational basis for a direct comparison. I have no idea whether Gibson was "greater" than Piazza or vice versa.

    Using statistics is useless in comparing players across decades. A player's statistics are in a sense proxy for a player's baseball skill, but it is not 100% so. A player's statistics are heavily influenced by the the playing environment he plays in as well.
    This is why we have sabermetrics. Players can be compared to others in their era, and they can be compared across eras in the sense that we can ask, which player was better relative to the other players in his era? Now it’s true that we don’t have much in the way of value stats for Gibson. But the stats we do have, along with tons of testimony from both white as well as black contemporaries, suggest he was the best NeL hitter, in an era of several decades. The stats we have on Piazza show quite clearly he was not the best hitter in his era.

    You can argue that even if Gibson was the best player of his time, he might not have been as good as Piazza. In fact, you can argue that if Ruth were transported to today's era, he would not be the best player, and that might be the case. There was a thread here last year, prompted by an article claiming that if Honus Wagner were transported to today, he would not be as good as Jeter. But Ruth was the best player relative to his peers, and most would agree that Wagner was better, relative to his peers, than Jeter was.

    In fact, much of the difference between older eras and today is in nutrition and training. If an older player like Ruth or Wagner were transported to today in the sense of being born in this era, and having the same access to nutrition and training that contemporary players have, a much better argument can be made that they would be the best player or SS of the era. It's not certain, you can always argue that Ruth or Wagner might have been peculiarly suited to certain aspects of the game in their era, but the claim that they would still be the best today if someone identical to them genetically grew up today is a pretty strong one, and it's sabermetrics that allows us to make it. This is the sense in which we can compare Gibson to Piazza.

    Here are a couple of other objections to Gibson that have been debunked here:

    1) Even if he was dominant in the NeL, we don’t know how well that dominance would have translated to a higher level.
    a) We don’t know that MLB was in fact a higher level than the NeL. Data posted earlier by Blue Sky show pretty clearly that NeL was at the least a higher level than AAA. We also know that once black players could play in MLB, the best ones were equal to the best white players.
    b) Even if the NeL was at a lower level than MLB, what % of players who dominate even in AAA fail in MLB? Is it 50%? I don’t think so, and this thread is about preponderance of evidence, not that Gibson was better than Piazza beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    2) A full-time catcher could not maintain a high level of offensive productivity over a seventeen year career.
    a) We don’t know that he was a full-time catcher. Since most of his games did not count in any standings or towards a championship, it’s reasonable to believe he might have played at lot at first or some other less stressful position.
    b) Brad Ausmus played 14 consecutive years in which he appeared in more than 100 games, and 11 straight years with more than 125 games, almost all of them as a catcher. He’s 7th all-time in games caught as a catcher. He was not a good hitter, but he was consistent over that period. At age 38, his batting production was nearly as good as his career average. Of course he declined somewhat with age, but not noticeably more than typical players at other positions. So it is possible to have a long career as a catcher and remain fairly consistent offensively.
    c) Even if Gibson played mostly catcher for his entire career, the data we do have show pretty clearly that he did not decline that much up to his age 35 season. I find it ironic that people arguing against Gibson on the basis of data ignore the fact that those data reveal this. You can argue that because of the quality of play, his stats do not imply equivalent production to the best white players, but you can’t argue that he must have declined by such-and-such when the data quite clearly show he didn’t.
    Stolensingle
    Registered User
    Last edited by Stolensingle; 02-16-2015, 08:48 PM.

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    • Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post
      OK. Every time we get on the subject of the early black players, I get that feeling, what was missed. The history of the game is my favorite part of the game.
      Black players missed out the most, terrible injustice. Also fans of MLB back then missed out.
      I, and fans of today missed out. The history of the game would have been enriched so much more. Reading about Gibson facing Lefty Grove, Paige pitching in MLB in his prime.
      What a shame.
      I couldn't agree more Joe.

      We see eye to eye on this. Love the game and it's history. Labeled as one trick pony Ruth fanatics but we go so much deeper than that, and truly appreciate history. I would have loved to see the best of the best no matter the color, square off. I know it's only sports, and there were societal issues more important but baseball opening their minds much sooner could have went a long way for society as a whole.

      When I suggest ranking Negro Leaguers by themselves, on their own, it's not to (re)-de-segregate them. It's to gain perspective. They're on an equal playing field and it will serve as a educational tool for those who want to understand where THEY ranked in THEIR environment and agasint their competition. Unfortunately it's a hot button issue and it's met with disdain. Which is equally as sad.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
        This is why we have sabermetrics.
        No, sabermetrics were not designed nor is it their main purpose to compare players from different eras. Does sabermetrics take into account the difference in competition, different balls, different bats, different rules, different strategy, and everything else I listed in my previous post?

        Players can be compared to others in their era, and they can be compared across eras in the sense that we can ask, which player was better relative to the other players in his era?
        Comparing players from the same era is difficult enough but at least they faced generally the same competition and played under the same rules, same ballparks, same bats, same gloves, same ball, etc.

        Now it’s true that we don’t have much in the way of value stats for Gibson. But the stats we do have, along with tons of testimony from both white as well as black contemporaries, suggest he was the best NeL hitter, in an era of several decades. The stats we have on Piazza show quite clearly he was not the best hitter in his era.
        The fact that Gibson was considered the best NeL hitter and Piazza was not the best hitter of his era is NOT evidence that Gibson was a better hitter than Piazza.

        You can argue that even if Gibson was the best player of his time, he might not have been as good as Piazza. In fact, you can argue that if Ruth were transported to today's era, he would not be the best player, and that might be the case. There was a thread here last year, prompted by an article claiming that if Honus Wagner were transported to today, he would not be as good as Jeter. But Ruth was the best player relative to his peers, and most would agree that Wagner was better, relative to his peers, than Jeter was.
        If player A was 50% better than his peers and player B was only 40% better than his peers in an era decades apart doesn't prove that player A is better player B.

        In fact, much of the difference between older eras and today is in nutrition and training. If an older player like Ruth or Wagner were transported to today in the sense of being born in this era, and having the same access to nutrition and training that contemporary players have, a much better argument can be made that they would be the best player or SS of the era. It's not certain, you can always argue that Ruth or Wagner might have been peculiarly suited to certain aspects of the game in their era, but the claim that they would still be the best today if someone identical to them genetically grew up today is a pretty strong one, and it's sabermetrics that allows us to make it. This is the sense in which we can compare Gibson to Piazza.
        This debate Gibson vs Piazza as they were. This means we are talking about the real Josh Gibson who played from 1930-46 and the real Mike Piazza who played in the majors from 1992-2007.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
          No, sabermetrics were not designed nor is it their main purpose to compare players from different eras. Does sabermetrics take into account the difference in competition, different balls, different bats, different rules, different strategy, and everything else I listed in my previous post?
          I explained it in my previous post. All the differences from one era to another affect everyone in that era. So if a player is the best in that era, it means that facing all those aspects, he was better than others facing the same aspects. I don't know how I can make it any clearer.

          The fact that Gibson was considered the best NeL hitter and Piazza was not the best hitter of his era is NOT evidence that Gibson was a better hitter than Piazza.
          Of course it is. What you mean is it's not slam-dunk proof, but it certainly is evidence.

          If player A was 50% better than his peers and player B was only 40% better than his peers in an era decades apart doesn't prove that player A is better player B.
          I didn't say that was the case. What I said is that these kinds of comparisons are the best we can make, and they do provide a reasonable standard of comparison. If one player was 50% better than his peers, and another 20% better, I think most people would conclude the first player was better. The closer you get, the more difficult it is to decide.

          This debate Gibson vs Piazza as they were. This means we are talking about the real Josh Gibson who played from 1930-46 and the real Mike Piazza who played in the majors from 1992-2007.
          Yes, but that also means Jeter was probably a lot better than Wagner as he was, and Ruth, who was no giant, was probably not as good as Bonds, Pujols, Cabrera, Trout, et al. If you aren't going to use a player's performance relative to his era, then you are putting earlier players at a huge disadvantage.

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          • Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
            I explained it in my previous post. All the differences from one era to another affect everyone in that era. So if a player is the best in that era, it means that facing all those aspects, he was better than others facing the same aspects. I don't know how I can make it any clearer.
            I'm with you that the cream be the cream yo.

            That goes for any level, unless a certain level is being compared to another level where competition and/or performance is in question.

            In that case things must be questioned. Gibson's competition was questionable. I would put Japanese and PCL above them...nobody rates either here.

            It's all such an assumption. It baffles me how some think they can rank Negro Leaguer players, when even they know it's a crap-shoot.

            It's almost as if they think they're somehow elevated in thinking...like others can't comprehend. Nah, that opposite is true. Some aren't Sunday Salmon, swallowing hook line and sinker.

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            • Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
              I explained it in my previous post. All the differences from one era to another affect everyone in that era. So if a player is the best in that era, it means that facing all those aspects, he was better than others facing the same aspects. I don't know how I can make it any clearer.
              But that's not what I am trying to say though. Obviously if we are comparing a player to other players of his era then the conditions are the same. But when comparing players who played 50+ years apart then the conditions of the game are not the same. Given the vast differences of Negro League baseball circa 1933-46 and the National League circa 1992-2007 that I had stated previously I don't see how any direct comparisons between Gibson and Piazza can be made. At best we can make some general observations. For example we know both Gibson and Piazza were big men who had tremendous home run power. I wish we had film of Gibson hitting but unfortunately none exists that I am aware of.

              Of course it is. What you mean is it's not slam-dunk proof, but it certainly is evidence.
              I do not agree for the reasons I stated above. Is Sadaharu Oh a greater player than Hank Greenberg based solely on the statistical evidence?

              I didn't say that was the case. What I said is that these kinds of comparisons are the best we can make, and they do provide a reasonable standard of comparison. If one player was 50% better than his peers, and another 20% better, I think most people would conclude the first player was better. The closer you get, the more difficult it is to decide.
              This assumes that the baseline that each player is being compared against are equal.


              Yes, but that also means Jeter was probably a lot better than Wagner as he was, and Ruth, who was no giant, was probably not as good as Bonds, Pujols, Cabrera, Trout, et al. If you aren't going to use a player's performance relative to his era, then you are putting earlier players at a huge disadvantage.
              For relative performance to his era to be a valid measure of comparison it presupposes that the baseline being measured against is the same across all of baseball history. Basically, it assumes that the level or quality of baseball has remained stable throughout baseball history.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

              Comment


              • Again, I think you're talking about slam-dunk proof vs. evidence. If one player is better relative to his peers than another player is in a different era, that is evidence that the first player is better. If there is other evidence that points to a different conclusion, that can be brought in, but if there is not, then the preponderance of evidence indicates the first player is better. That is all we can say.

                Bench and Piazza played in different eras. Piazza's wRC+ of 140 was not that much better than Bench's 125, yet most people seem to conclude that Piazza was a better hitter.

                In Gibson's case, other evidence would pertain to the quality of the NeL, the baseline you're talking about. But nobody in this thread has made a very good case that the baseline in NeL was much below, if at all below, that of MLB at the time. I really don't get the comparison to the Japanese Leagues. Black America produced Aaron, Mays and some other great hitters. Japanese baseball has not yet produced any super star position player on that level, and far fewer more ordinary stars than black America has produced. It's on that basis that we can question whether Oh deserves to be compared to some great MLB sluggers.

                Moreover, there is a critical difference between contemporary non-MLB leagues and NeL. If a player is really good in a contemporary league, he will most likely make the move to MLB. That has the effect of keeping the talent level down in that league. In the NeL, of course, that wasn't possible, so the best talent kept accumulating.

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                • So do you guys argue that Piazza or Gibson would be totally better than the other, or would one have more power, one better average, one few K's, etc.?
                  "The first draft of anything is crap." - Ernest Hemingway

                  There's no such thing as an ultimate stat.

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                  • Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
                    Again, I think you're talking about slam-dunk proof vs. evidence. If one player is better relative to his peers than another player is in a different era, that is evidence that the first player is better. If there is other evidence that points to a different conclusion, that can be brought in, but if there is not, then the preponderance of evidence indicates the first player is better. That is all we can say.
                    I simply cannot agree with this. It is not evidence because it has not been established that the baseline that they are compared to are equal. Gibson is being compared to the contemporary pool of Negro Leaguers (1930-46). Piazza is being compared to the contemporary pool of players (1992-2007). We have no idea if both pools are equal or if one pool was better than the other and by how much.

                    Bench and Piazza played in different eras. Piazza's wRC+ of 140 was not that much better than Bench's 125, yet most people seem to conclude that Piazza was a better hitter.
                    Well we can say that at Piazza was more consistent as Bench had great years and poor years during his prime.

                    In Gibson's case, other evidence would pertain to the quality of the NeL, the baseline you're talking about. But nobody in this thread has made a very good case that the baseline in NeL was much below, if at all below, that of MLB at the time. I really don't get the comparison to the Japanese Leagues. Black America produced Aaron, Mays and some other great hitters. Japanese baseball has not yet produced any super star position player on that level, and far fewer more ordinary stars than black America has produced. It's on that basis that we can question whether Oh deserves to be compared to some great MLB sluggers.
                    The major difference is that Aaron and Mays started in the majors at a young age and and had the opportunity to hone their baseball skills at the highest level. None of the Japanese players have had that opportunity. Also, Mays and Aaron were not really products of the Negro leagues. They played in the Negro Leagues briefly but were signed by major league clubs at a very young age and both spent time in the minor leagues. They were not established veteran Negro League stars. What if the color line hadn't been broken until 1960 and Mays and Aaron had to play in the Negro Leagues for 9-10 years. Then they entered the majors at say at age 29-30. Would they have been as good as the real Mays and Aaron? I highly doubt it. If you look at the veteran Negro Leaguers who entered the majors at a later age none of them were Mays/Aaron type players in the majors though a lot of them were quite good. I don't think it's a coincidence that of the veteran Negro Leaguers and Japanese players that entered the majors the youngest players of each group (Roy Campanella, 26, and Ichiro, 27) also had the best major league careers.

                    As for Sadaharu Oh I will say this. He dominated his leagues for 20 years like no other NPB player. In the entire history of the NPB there have been just eight 500 home run hitters ever. Five of the eight players hit between 504 home runs and 536 home runs. The #3 guy hit 567 home runs. The #2 hitter hit 657 home runs. Oh is 211 home runs ahead of the #2 guy and a staggering 301 home runs ahead of the #3 guy. No one has challenged Oh's 868 home runs in the 35 years since his retirement. This strongly suggests that Oh was doing something radically different as a hitter than anyone else in Japanese baseball history.

                    Moreover, there is a critical difference between contemporary non-MLB leagues and NeL. If a player is really good in a contemporary league, he will most likely make the move to MLB. That has the effect of keeping the talent level down in that league. In the NeL, of course, that wasn't possible, so the best talent kept accumulating.
                    I agree with this.
                    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
                      Again, I think you're talking about slam-dunk proof vs. evidence. If one player is better relative to his peers than another player is in a different era, that is evidence that the first player is better. If there is other evidence that points to a different conclusion, that can be brought in, but if there is not, then the preponderance of evidence indicates the first player is better. That is all we can say.

                      Bench and Piazza played in different eras. Piazza's wRC+ of 140 was not that much better than Bench's 125, yet most people seem to conclude that Piazza was a better hitter.

                      In Gibson's case, other evidence would pertain to the quality of the NeL, the baseline you're talking about. But nobody in this thread has made a very good case that the baseline in NeL was much below, if at all below, that of MLB at the time. I really don't get the comparison to the Japanese Leagues. Black America produced Aaron, Mays and some other great hitters. Japanese baseball has not yet produced any super star position player on that level, and far fewer more ordinary stars than black America has produced. It's on that basis that we can question whether Oh deserves to be compared to some great MLB sluggers.

                      Moreover, there is a critical difference between contemporary non-MLB leagues and NeL. If a player is really good in a contemporary league, he will most likely make the move to MLB. That has the effect of keeping the talent level down in that league. In the NeL, of course, that wasn't possible, so the best talent kept accumulating.
                      If not Oh, then who ?

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                      • Originally posted by 1905 Giants View Post
                        So do you guys argue that Piazza or Gibson would be totally better than the other, or would one have more power, one better average, one few K's, etc.?
                        I wish we had film of Gibson batting. We could get a better understanding of his swing from a scouting point of view and see how he generated his ridiculous home run power. There are two sets of photos that I have found that should Gibson swinging a bat (but not in a game). It seems that Gibson started his swing in a crouched position, kind of like George Brett did.

                        1937-06-13 Pittsburgh Courier.jpg

                        Gibson swing.jpg
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                        • double post
                          Honus Wagner Rules
                          xFIP?! I laugh at you!
                          Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 02-17-2015, 08:12 PM.
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                            I'm with you that the cream be the cream yo.

                            That goes for any level, unless a certain level is being compared to another level where competition and/or performance is in question.

                            In that case things must be questioned. Gibson's competition was questionable. I would put Japanese and PCL above them...nobody rates either here.
                            I think SBC did this 6 pages ago.

                            Here are most (I think) of the players that actually played in the NeL and MLB.

                            Jackie Robinson
                            Larry Doby
                            Roy Campanella
                            Monte Irvin
                            Willie Mays
                            Ernie Banks
                            Hank Aaron
                            Luke Easter
                            Minnie Minoso
                            Don Newcombe
                            Hank Thompson
                            Junior Gilliam
                            Satchel Paige
                            Sam Jethroe
                            Bob Boyd
                            Connie Johnson
                            Joe Black
                            Sandy Amoros
                            Al Smith



                            These players won 6 rookie of the year awards. They also won 10 MVP awards, which is impressive---but even more so when you consider that:
                            1) most were in the same league competing for the same award
                            2) many weren't allowed to play in the majors until age 28, or 33, or 41.


                            Please list the top players from the Japanese league that are above them. Should be an interesting comparison.



                            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                            It's all such an assumption. It baffles me how some think they can rank Negro Leaguer players, when even they know it's a crap-shoot.
                            This is your opinion. You think it's an assumption. You're baffled. You think it's a crap shoot. Just because you can't or won't do something doesn't mean others can't do it and won't do it well.


                            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                            When I suggest ranking Negro Leaguers by themselves, on their own, it's not to (re)-de-segregate them.
                            seg·re·gate (sĕg′rĭ-gāt′)
                            v. seg·re·gat·ed, seg·re·gat·ing, seg·re·gates
                            v.tr.
                            1. To separate or isolate from others or from a main body or group.

                            I don't see the point:

                            1) people who believe there were great Black players, who believe the NeL stats are worth using, who believe the quotes of MLB players who saw them, and who can see the statistical evidence from 1947-1965 will have little problems ranking NeL players with pre-integration players.

                            2) people who have already stated their views that MLB opinions about NeL players are worthless, that NeL stats are worthless, and that most NeL players were worse than single A have no basis to rank anyone in the NeL. Based upon what would they rank?

                            One can't really spend all morning arguing that all the evidence to rank them is invalid, then rank them in the afternoon.
                            drstrangelove
                            Registered User
                            Last edited by drstrangelove; 02-18-2015, 02:04 AM.
                            "It's better to look good, than be good."

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                            • Originally posted by drstrangelove View Post
                              Oh I see what you mean. If I was missing your point each time, then I apologize. Anyway, I don't know why people have a hard time comparing players from different eras.

                              I think that if military historians can compare Patton to Alexander, or Napoleon to Hannibal, then comparing baseball players 70 years apart should be easier. But that's me.
                              "WAR" takes on a new meaning for those guys. Do they have advanced military metrics? They probably have WARG, wins above replacement general.
                              JR Hart
                              2010, 2012, 2014
                              Last edited by JR Hart; 02-18-2015, 07:50 AM.
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                              • Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                                "WAR" takes on a new meaning for those guys. Do they have advanced military metrics? They probably have WARG, wins above replacement general.
                                How do you think Lincoln settled on Grant in 1864?
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