Circle of Greats 1928 Part 2 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 53rd round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round complete the addition of those players born in 1928.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

Players born in 1928 are being brought on to the COG eligible list over two rounds, split in half based on last names — the second half by alphabetical order this round, while the first half by alphabetical order was brought on in last week’s round.  This week’s new group joins the holdovers from previous rounds to comprise the full set of players eligible to receive your votes this round.

As usual, the new group of 1928-born players, in order to join the eligible list, must have played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues or generated at least 20 Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, as calculated by baseball-reference.com, and for this purpose meaning 20 total WAR for everyday players and 20 pitching WAR for pitchers).

Each submitted ballot, if it is to be counted, must include three and only three eligible players.  The one player who appears on the most ballots cast in the round is inducted into the Circle of Greats.  Players who fail to win induction but appear on half or more (but less than 75%) of the ballots that are cast win four added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Any other player in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances, or who appears on at least 10% of the ballots, wins one additional round of ballot eligibility. Should a candidate ever appear on over 75% of the ballots but not win induction, he would gain six future rounds of ballot eligibility

All voting for this round closes at 11:00 PM EDT Monday, April 7, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:00 PM EDT Saturday, April 5.

If you’d like to follow the vote tally, and/or check to make sure I’ve recorded your vote correctly, you can see my ballot-counting spreadsheet for this round here: COG 1928 Round 2 Vote Tally.  I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes.  Initially, there is a row in the spreadsheet for every voter who has cast a ballot in any of the past rounds, but new voters are entirely welcome — new voters will be added to the spreadsheet as their ballots are submitted.  Also initially, there is a column for each of the holdover candidates; additional player columns from the new born-in-1928 group will be added to the spreadsheet as votes are cast for them.

Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players.  The 13 current holdovers are listed in order of the number of future rounds (including this one) through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the future eligibility number is the same.  The new group of 1928 birth-year guys are listed below in order of the number of seasons each played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.  In total there were 20 players born in 1928 who met the “10 seasons played or 20 WAR” minimum requirement.  Ten of those are being added to the eligible list this round (alphabetically from Jim Lemon to Daryl Spencer).  The ten players higher up in the alphabet were on last week’s ballot.

Holdovers:
Sandy Koufax (eligibility guaranteed for 8 rounds)
Juan Marichal (eligibility guaranteed for 5 rounds)
Ernie Banks (eligibility guaranteed for 4 rounds)
Bobby Grich (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Whitey Ford (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Willie McCovey (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
John Smoltz (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Craig Biggio (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Harmon Killebrew (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Kenny Lofton (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Edgar Martinez (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Eddie Murray (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ryne Sandberg (eligibility guaranteed for this round  only)

Everyday Players (born in 1928, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Pete Runnels
Jim Lemon
Al Smith
Billy Martin
Gil McDougald
Hal Naragon
Bubba Phillips
Daryl Spencer

Pitchers (born in 1928, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Joe Nuxhall
Erv Palica


Comments

Circle of Greats 1928 Part 2 Balloting — 157 Comments

    • Erv Palica had nine seasons as a pitcher in the majors, beginning in 1947. But in 1945, barely past his 17th birthday, the Dodgers included him in two April games as a pinch-runner — apparently Branch Rickey wanted to make sure he qualified for the COG.

      Palica did lead the Dodgers in appearances over the three-year period 1948-50, though after Leo Durocher, Dodger managers couldn’t seem to abide him and Charlie Dressen, who took over as Brooklyn’s manager in 1951, ripped him publicly in the press.

  1. “Probably two weeks prior to that, I was pitching against seventh, eighth and ninth graders, kids 13 and 14 years old. All of a sudden, I look up and there’s Stan Musial . . .”

    – Joe Nuxhall, about his first game as a 15-year-old major leaguer.
    ________________________

    Nuxhall was actually discovered while the Reds were scouting his 34-year-old father, Orville, to fill their World War II-depleted roster.

    Instead, they liked what they saw of the younger Nuxhall, and the club signed him to a $175 per month contract after the school year ended.

    He spent most of his time sitting on the bench, but on June 10, 1944, with the Reds trailing the St. Louis Cardinals 13-0, Reds skipper Bill McKechnie put Nuxhall into a game.

    He walked one and retired two batters before seeing future Hall of Famer Stan Musial on deck.

    Nuxhall then unraveled, allowing five earned runs and failing to retire another batter.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Joe_Nuxhall

  2. Pete Runnels holds the seasonal record for most CS without ever stealing a base. In 1952 had had 10 CS and 0 SB.

    • Runnels certainly benefited from the move from Griffith Stadium to Fenway.

      in Washington
      .281 .363 .355 .718

      in Boston
      .332 .418 .422 .840

      • Being tutored by Ted Williams certainly didn’t hurt. At his own request he was traded to Houston after winning the AL batting title in 1962, Texas was his home. Outside of Rogers Hornsby, offhand, I can’t think of any other players who were traded after winning a batting title.

          • Also Bill Madlock was traded from the Cubs to the Giants following his ’76 batting title.

          • David P @34:

            If I remember rightly, Madlock asked for $200,000. Bill Wrigley offered half that unconditionally and decided that Madlock was some kind of trouble maker, so he traded him to the Giants for Bobby Murcer with some others thrown in on both sides. The Giants appear to have signed him for $260,000. The Cubs signed Murcer for . . . $320,000.

        • Ernie Lombardi led the NL with a .330 BA in 1942 while playing for the Braves. He asked for a raise but due to Treasury Department WWII wage guidelines the Braves could not meet his demands. The Giants were able to meet those demands, so that’s where Ernie ended up.

  3. Just a quick bit about Billy Martin, as a Manager.
    Every team he ever managed got better.

    Here are the teams, the year before Billy, and his first year:

    Twins
    79-83
    97-65

    Tigers
    79-83
    91-71

    Rangers
    57-105
    84-76

    Yankees
    83-77
    97-62

    Athletics
    54-108
    83-79

    Yankees
    79-83
    91-71

    Yankees
    87-75
    97-64

  4. Murray, Marichal, Ford

    also wanna vote for McCovey, Banks, Koufax and (eventually)3 second basemen, one of whom also caught and played CF- you’ll have to figure that one out.

  5. It does seem odd that at one point the Washington Senators- playing in cavernous Griffith Stadium- would at the same time have Jim Lemon, Harmon Killebrew and Roy Sievers on their roster, any of whom could have served at some point as the archetype of the slow, lumbering slugger playing outfield that seemed to be so common in the 50’s.

    I’m sorely tempted to vote for Gil McDougald. It’s said by some that his versatility made a genius out of Casey Stengel. I think it’s very conceivable that playing in a different ballpark for a different manager he could have been a Hall of Famer.

    Sandberg, Martinez, Grich

    • Hartvig:

      Actually, they moved in the fences at Griffith, dramatically in left field, in the mid fifties.

    • Good find! If you carefully study the lips of the guy on the right, you can see he’s telling the Babe: “No new taxes”.

      • Dana Carvey is the first thing I thought of when I read “No new taxes.” I’m not sure what that says about me (maybe it says I was in middle/high school during those years).

        In related news, I believe Tim Keefe holds the record for most career WAR without ever having to pay income tax while a player. That may be the most useless baseball trivia in history.

        • I remember that the Piazza-to-Florida trade was held up in 1998 because one of the (five) players leaving Florida wanted his new contract adjusted to cover the state income tax in California that Florida did not have. I can’t remember which one.

  6. I see no reason to change my vote. Everyone got 10% last round and there’s less on the ballot this year.

    Koufax, Ford, Smoltz

    I would love to see smoltz get above 25% again. Look again, you know he deserves it. Don’t just assume he’s defacto in by staying on the ballot this long.

  7. Grich – I’ve voted for Grich a ton, maybe he makes it?
    Killebrew – gets punished for playing 3B/LF terribly when he should have been installed at 1B and played slightly below average defense. Also a terrible average in a time when BA was king.
    Lofton – One of the weirdest careers – 10 teams for no more than 1 year? Always good enough to pick up, but after Cleveland, no one would commit to him. A lot of defensive and baserunning value for a very long time.

    • If you add up Killebrew’s rField and rPos numbers, they total -155. Taking the season where he played 160 games at 1B as representative of what his rPos would look like if he’d played only 1B, he had -9 for 689 PAs, average that over his entire career and you get -128 for rPos. That means if he’d been an average fielder at 1B he’d have 3 more bWAR over his career. But when he played 1B, he was slightly below average. So if he’s -1 run rField at 1B per season, that means he’d have about 1.5 bWAR more over his career. If he’s -2 per season at 1B, then it wouldn’t change anything.

      AFAICT, he’s not actually being penalized for playing those harder positions. He played them well enough to be worth putting there in context, and that generally means that the credit he gets for playing them at all, pretty much makes up for his poor fielding relative to the average, when compared to putting him at first or DH.

      Now, is the positional flexibility worth something extra, even above the credit he gets for PAs while playing 3B/LF/etc? Possibly, but it’s hard to quantify.

      • I see little variation in Killebrew’s defensive value (Rfield + Rpos) across the different positions he played. Here’s some examples:

        1959: -9 Rfield, +2 Rpos = -0.8 dWAR, regular at 3B
        1960: -7 Rfield, -3 Rpos = -1.1 dWAR, split time between 1B/3B
        1962-1964 avg: -6 Rfield, -7 Rpos = -1.6 dWAR in LF per year
        1967: -4 Rfield, -9 Rpos = -1.8 dWAR, full-time 1B
        1970: -10 Rfield, +1 Rpos = -1.1 dWAR, 3B/1B (84% at 3B)
        1972: 0 Rfield, -7 Rpos = -0.9 dWAR, full-time 1B

        • Another great example of why positional adjustments are so important. A below average third basemen being an average first basemen shouldn’t surprise anybody. In fact multi-position players who put up similar total DWAR at varying positions are supportive evidence that the positional adjustments are correct.

          • Indeed, I believe that to a significant degree it is through checking the performance of multi-position players that the position adjustments are derived in the first place.

  8. Most Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasons:

    Grich 43.6
    Martinez 41.3
    Smoltz 40.1
    Lofton 39.3
    McCovey 38.9
    Sandberg 38.8
    Banks 36.8
    Biggio 36.3
    Murray 33.7
    Killebrew 33.0
    Marichal 32.7
    Koufax 32.3
    Ford 29.3

    I keep voting for these same three guys, but I think this is the first time they’ve been first, second, and third in positive WAA.

    Grich, Martinez, Smoltz

  9. Boy do the Rfield numbers ever back up Gil McDougald’s reputation! Being +90 runs in a career (with no negative seasons at that) is impressive, but even moreso when you consider that McDougald rarely played full seasons. An intriguing candidate who won’t get much support, but deserves a second look and a tip-of-the-cap.

    Anyway, to the voting:

    Ernie Banks
    Bobby Grich
    Juan Marichal

    • Part of the reason McDougald looks so good in terms of Rfield is that he had no late career decline phase, when guys will often rack up negative Rfield numbers. And he had no decline phase because he retired at age 32 rather than be exposed by the Yankees to the expansion draft before the 1961 season. His last season he had a 104 OPS+ (not bad at all for a infielder) and a 3.0 WAR in just 387 PAs. If he’d been willing to play for an expansion team he might have had several good full-time years left and ended up with stronger career totals.

      Apparently the Yankees were upset that he announced his retirement before the expansion draft rather waiting till after, because they would have preferred to screw the expansion teams out of a player, but McDougald thought that would be unfair.

      • True that he didn’t have a decline, but it would’ve had to have been a pretty sharp decline to make anything resembling a dent in his defensive resume. He played only 1804 innings his final two seasons and ended up +23 in those two years alone! And that’s already in his early 30s. Even if he had stuck around for another 3-4 years, he may not have dwindled below league average (as a fielder; as a hitter, he certainly would’ve). I’m still impressed.

      • A teammate of McDougald’s from the early 1950s, Gene Woodling opted to keep playing when exposed for the expansion draft. Of course, unlike McDougald, Woodling had had the experience of losing, in stints with the Orioles and Indians after leaving New York.

        Woodling suffered the double indignity of toiling for the ’61 Senatiors AND the ’62 Mets, for whom he still performed decently with a 128 OPS+ in about 750 PA for those age 38-39 seasons. At least, he got to be reunited with Casey.

    • McDougald’s first 10 years looks like a slightly older, slightly more versatile, slightly less playing time version of Lou Whitaker.

      5398 PAs, 40.7 WAR, 31.0 oWAR, 14.0 dWAR, 24.1 WAA – McDougald career
      6078 PAs, 42.7 WAR, 36.3 oWAR, 11.5 dWAR, 23.7 WAA – Whitaker 1977-1987
      6042 PAs, 43.4 WAR, 38.5 oWAR, 9.8 dWAR, 24.6 WAA – Whitaker 1980-1989

      I have 1977-1987 as Whitaker’s first 10 years because he only played 11 games in 1977. The 1980-1989 seasons are Whitaker’s age 23-32 seasons (the same age as McDougald’s career). Looking at the breakdown of Rbat, Rfield, etc. shows McDougald as a good bit better than Whitaker in the field, behind in baserunning and DP, and better or worse than Whitaker depending on which slice of the data one looks at (better than Whitaker’s 1977-1987, worse than 1980-1989, though the differences are only 10-20 runs total).

      Also, both won ROY. If McDougald had played a little longer at his consistent level we may have had another addition to the pool of infield candidates.

    • McDougald’s strong rate of WAR per game does lift his standing in my book, but only so far.

      — He’s #298 in total WAR among all position players, and 37th among those with 500+ games at 2B. But …
      — In WARprod, my mash-up stat — the product of WAR and WAR/G — he’s #205 overall, and somewhere between 25th and 30th among second basemen.
      — Among those with 30+ career WAR and 500 G at 2B, McDougald is 20th in WAR/G.

      P.S. Would anyone be interested in a post about WARprod?

  10. Grich, Smoltz, Lofton, I like Martinez but I get the feeling that his WAR would have been less if he had played in the field. Just enough to place Lofton ahead. I know its a very subjective comment not objective.

    • I think it’s pretty clear that his glove was well above your typical DH-type levels but he was pretty injury prone. More a DH by optimization than lack of fielding skill. He has a positive RFIELD at third which matches the opinions at the time.

      I penalize him more as a big bat in the steroids era who had little to no pop before age 32 and then all of the sudden was one of the top 3 hitters in baseball for 7 years. If I’m totally off base then I’m persecuting an innocent by association.

      • Making sense of Martinez…
        Essentially three years playing the field.
        Negative baserunner.

        He did that one thing well.
        How well?

        178th in Plate Appearances
        _____
        125th in HomeRuns
        80 th in Times On Base
        50 th in Doubles
        41 st in RE24
        30 th in Adjusted Batting Runs
        _____
        21st in OBP
        44th in OPS+

        _____________

        For much of his peak he batted cleanup, without much ‘protection’ behind him.
        But Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. in front of him.

  11. Here’s the vote according to my methodology. I take four measures of player value as a gauge of how players compare across metrics that value things slightly differently. Then I give them a cumulative rank with all players on the ballot over 50 WAR, adding their ranking of each measure. Here are the measures:

    WAR – is it too new to call it ‘classic’? Well, it’s the ‘classic’ way of measuring a player’s value over a player the team could have gotten to replace the player, over that player’s career, to show how ‘good’ that player was.

    WAA+ – adding the wins above average players (rather than replacement) for that player’s positive seasons (ie. tossing out the negative seasons), to measure how great that player was when he was great.

    JAWS – a weighted WAR score to incorporate both peak and career performance by weighting a player’s best seasons.

    WAR*WAR/162G (250 IP for pitchers) – this is a fun construction I saw John Autin use on the last redemption round that takes into account peak and career performance, but using games played as a unit rather than seasons.

    My hope is that ranking this will give a bit of an overall picture of player value. Here are the cumulative rankings, in order (a ’4′ would rank first in all 4 categories):

    Grich 5
    Martinez 12
    Smoltz 17
    Lofton 18
    Banks 21
    Sandberg 21
    McCovey 30
    Marichal 32
    Biggio 38
    Koufax 43
    Killebrew 43
    Ford 51

    Competition for the third spot is interesting. We’ve got 4 guys that are pretty interchangeable in terms of cumulative ranking, but very different players making it tough to compare. I have some thoughts and musings on it, but for now I’ll just go with the top 3 by numbers and reevaluate later.

    Grich, Martinez, Smoltz.

  12. Some tidbits on new players appearing on this week’s ballot.
    Pete Runnels ranked 7th in the majors in PA for 1952-63. Runnels, Eddie Mathews and Nellie Fox were the only players with 120 games and 400 PA in each of those seasons.
    Jim Lemon was the first AL player with a season (1956) of 20 HR, 75 RBI and 125 SO (following Steve Bilko from last week’s ballot, the first to do so in the NL). Lemon’s 144 career HR as a pre-1961 Senator rank 2nd all-time, behind only teammate Roy Sievers.
    – Until Grady Sizemore matched the feat in 2005, Al Smith was the last member of the Tribe to score 100 runs in the first qualifying season of a career. Smith was one of only 4 AL hitters with 75 runs and 75 walks in each of the 1954 to 1957 seasons.
    – Until Allen Craig matched the feat in 2011, Billy Martin was the last player to be caught stealing twice in a World Series game.
    Gil McDougald’s World Series PAs amount to 3.83% of his total regular season and World Series PAs, the highest rate of any position player with 50 plate appearances in the fall classic. In a 10-year career, McDougald played on 8 pennant-winners, and started every post-season game for 7 of those teams.
    Hal Naragon is among a small group of players to appear in a game on his birthday, in both the regular season and the World Series.
    Bubba Phillips joined Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito and Bill Bruton as players acquired by trade (the first 3 from the Tribe) who posted a qualifying season for the 1963 Tigers. Aside from Cash, it would 8 years later, in 1971, when Detroit next had a qualifying season from a player acquired by trade, when Aurelio Rodriguez and Ed Brinkman moved to the Motor City from Washington.
    Daryl Spencer was 2nd in games played among NL middle infielders for 1956-60. Like the next 6 players on that list, Spencer compiled at least 10 WAR over that period, but less than half the WAR of games leader Ernie Banks.
    Joe Nuxhall was the first post-WWII Reds pitcher to record 5 straight seasons (1954-58) of 10+ wins and a .500 W-L% record. Six more Reds pitchers have matched that feat since Nuxhall, but none since Mario Soto 30 years ago.
    – In a tale of two career halves, Erv Palica compiled a 106 ERA+ over his first 426 IP, but only 84 over the final 412 IP. The latter mark is second lowest among 46 retired pitchers since 1901 with 400+ IP both through age 22 and after, and with a 105 ERA+ up to age 22.

    • This past Feb. 16 you and I found that Naragon. Maury Wills and Pat Duncan were the only players, since 1916, to have played on their birthday in the WS and the regular season. You also said that Wills was the only one to get a hit in both the WS and the regular season. Naragon did not get a hit in the WS. He did not even get a PA, he was a defensive replacement for Jim Hegan after Hegan was pinch-hit for.

      • Thanks for the correction, Richard.

        I’ll fix it.

        BTW, can also add Johnny Podres to list of players to appear in a birthday game in the regular season and WS.

    • McDougald’s extreme high percentage of World Series PAs, as a fraction of his regular season PAs, is partly the result of what I noted in comment 40: a decision to retire relatively early rather than leave the Yankees in the expansion draft. One wonders whether the Yankees’ extraordinary level of success over his career just made it too stark a contrast for him to go play for what was almost inevitably going to be loser.

    • Looks like it might be shaping up to be another second baseman (this time in the form of Grich only) vs. pitching (Koufax with Smoltz coming on strong) race although others (Marichal) could still join the fun.

      Also looks like we might have 4 or 5 also rans picking up an extra ballots eligibility.

    • Then you had better hope that the Yankees can win it all this year so Jeter can give him a Yankees jersey next year…

      Me, I think he’d look better in Tiger grey & orange.

    • i thought all Yankee fans were Republicans because, their team is always old, rich and don’t care about the “lower class” teams.

      • Common fallacy, Jeff B. in New York it’s possible to be a Democrat and a Yankee fan, all while showing your generosity by giving your household staff off on Opening Day.

  13. What to do now that there is no Sweet Lou?

    Marichal, Murray, and … Banks, because his 6 consecutive year peak outdoes Koufax.

    1955-1960: 47.3 WAR, 32.4 WAA
    1961-1966: 46.6 WAR, 30.9 WAA

    And that doesn’t include the negative from Koufax as a hitter (-2.4 WAR and WAA).

  14. I was curious if our second baseman backlog would retain votes that Whitaker was receiving. Looks like Grich is the biggest 2B beneficiary as he is leading the current vote so far. Minimal additional support so far for Biggio/Sandberg but those can easily be attributed to the weaker ballot though.

    • Grich was close in support to Whitaker before. It’s natural to think he’d get more support than other 2Bs who haven’t been doing as well. I’ve been supporting both Whitaker and Grich till now (though many votes I’ve not used for Lou because he had plenty of rounds and no chance in the round I was voting). After Grich is elected, while I think eventually I will support Sandberg and Biggio (and Alomar), I’ll be going for pitchers in the next few rounds. Smolz, Marichal and Roberts (to come in 1926) are my next three top picks, and maybe somebody can convince me about Ford ahead of some of these others as well.

  15. Biggio who leans into pitches
    Grich to get a secondbaseman off the ballot
    Murray the switchhitter

    And a hello to Al Smith and Bubba Phillips, who played for the Sox in the last World Series at Comiskey Park

    AL Leaders, Homeruns, 1981:

    1. Murray (BAL) 22
    DwEvans (BOS) 22
    Armas (OAK) 22
    Grich (CAL) 22

    5. GThomas (MIL) 21
    Luzinski (SOX) 21

    7. Baylor (CAL) 17
    ClJohnson (OAK) 17
    Rice (BOS) 17
    Aikens (KC) 17
    Mayberry (TOR) 17

  16. If Grich takes this, our forever-long middle-infielder backlog is going to be basically gone, or at least significantly reduced if Santo, Whitaker and him get in all in a row. Seems the narrative might be shifting to a ‘pitchers whose reputations are greater than their advanced stats’ backlog.

    That’s one of the things I love about the CoG and the shifting goalposts of the process… you have a few dozen ballots to talk about the relative merits of some recent players who have become advanced stat darlings, get some (like Trammell, Raines, Blyleven) elected but have a lot hold over, have that narrative be subsumed by the crazy glut of ultra-megastars born in the 30s, and then revisit that debate once things have settled… but not only revisit it, but now with the addition of true ‘legends’ of the game like Ford/Koufax/Marichal whose names have had decades to ring out but whose advanced stats aren’t quite on the same level. All in all, good baseball discussions, and good stat discussions.

    • I agree we’re starting to have a pitcher backlog. The worst part is that some of the better pitcher candidates aren’t on the ballot — they were on the redemption round ballot and didn’t make it. I’d take Tiant, Brown, Reuschel ahead of the trio you listed (and maybe Cone, Eck and Saberhagen), as well as Smoltz, who I’m hoping will win the 1927 round.

      That said, ultimately I may end up supporting Ford, Marichal and possibly Koufax as well, especially if some of my preferred redemption pitcher candidates don’t make it to the ballot in time.

      • To add one thing about my personal preferences. I’d rather put in a few candidates whose advanced stats are dodgy but have pretty good fame/peak/uncaptured value arguments and played post-integration, to borderliners who played their whole career before 1947, and *especially* before the 20s/30s when the popularity of the game exploded and the bottom of the roster started to get stronger. I’m extremely suspicious that players in the 70-80ish WAR range with high peaks from before the 20s would stand out from their peers in the same way playing in post-integration ball. My threshold for presumed consideration is going from about 60 WAR for who we’ve looked at so far (considerations also made for catchers, war service and soon late entrants from the negro leagues) to somewhere around 75 WAR as we get into 19th C players, and somewhere in the middle between now and then.

        That’s another reason I want to see holdovers staying on the ballot.

  17. Looking ahead, I see 17 spots in the next elections back to 1910 (including this one) for a holdover or redemption candidate, or a new candidate who is comparable to our existing holdovers or the top of our redemption list. Of the new candidates, I only see about 5 holdover class candidates. Players who could make it over some of our current crop, but aren’t obvious choices — the rest are either easy selections (and I’ve already counted them in to get down to 17 spots), or not-serious candidates. We have 13 holdovers. That tells me that come 1910, our holdover list will have at most 3-4 candidates on it of the caliber of our existing ones, plus whoever may be voted back in a redemption round between now and then.

    So it seems important to make sure we keep our existing holdovers around, unless we are really sure they don’t belong. I’m not excited about some of them, but I’m planning to vote strategically to keep around anyone in danger of dropping that I think would be an acceptable choice, because I’m worried the pool will get dry. Some of those 5 candidates coming that I call “holdover class” I would not choose ahead of anyone on the current ballot, nor would I choose them ahead of my top 5-6 redemption round candidates. I don’t want to have to vote them in because we dropped somebody better and they didn’t get redeemed in time.

    I’ll be waiting until late again, to make sure I don’t miss an opportunity to keep someone on the ballot.

    I’m starting to wonder if everyone on the holdover list belongs and will make it in.

    • ………

      The redemption ballot is now more stocked than the active ballot.
      If we voted for ONE redemption player every single week, I think it would only enrich this process.

      • Keep in mind that all the viable redemption ballot guys have lost their ballot spot to holdovers and inductees, fair and square through the voting process. Some of us may individually think that there are some stronger candidates in redemption-land, but that’s not what the voters as a whole have decided. It seems to me the system should respect those decisions, even while keeping a subsidiary redemption round process as a safety valve to cover the possibility of a changing consensus and a changing balloting dynamic.

        • Just to clarify further, what I’m mainly watching for to see if we need extra redemption rounds is something like the following scenario: First, the length of the holdover list dwindles down toward less than nine. Second, guys from the new birth-years fall into the lower reaches of the top 9, and thus stay on the ballot, but they are not strong candidates compared to some of those exiled to redemption land. That would suggest that the system itself is preventing voters from making choices that are not just repeats of choices they have previously made. That’s where the case for more redemption rounds will be most compelling.

          • I think the system is fine.
            Where I feel we are lacking at this point is in raw number of voters. The voting suffers from small sample size.

            I say suffers because there are arguable equivalents to everyone on our ballot lingering in the redemption zone. And then some.

            The difference between getting 7 votes and 6 votes doesn’t convince me that the player with 6 votes is less worthy.

            This process excels because we are having great conversations, both statistically and as fans.

            I’m only suggesting more opportunities to have these conversations.

          • Interesting discussion. The only disagreement I might have with you Voomo is that I think there may be more of a line between the holdovers and the guys banished to redemption than you suggest. I think it’s quite rare that the difference between remaining on and falling off the ballot is really one or two votes on a single ballot. There seems to be a fairly loyal core of support that keeps the holdovers in place across rounds, a core that either never coalesces or eventually gives way with respect to those who fall off. It may seem like the holdovers are only getting just over the minimum, but often that seems to be a tactical decision by a number of voters to avoid using up valuable votes on guys who are already assured a return. The level you see is not always the maximum level of a holdover’s support.

  18. Ford, Sandberg, Killer.
    I’m not totally convinced on Killer, but I’d rather not go through another redemption round vote on him, while we sort out what mostly looks like a slate of long time hanger-ons. It is interesting that we have to get to 1920s to vote in players who have been on the field in the last ten years.

    • well, there’ve been more great major league baseball players each year during the last 20-30 years than any time before. The number of teams has expanded, and the baseball playing/caring population has as well, now that we are consistently drawing players from Japan and the caribbean — plus the population of the US is more than twice what it was in 1950 when some of the players we are seeing now started their careers.

      There are just more baseball players now of COG level than there were previously, (because there are more baseball players period), but this process allows us to vote in 1 1/3 per birth year exactly for every time period. So it was natural that the players of our current era closer to the borderline would have to wait for the dry years in earlier days.

      To avoid that we’d have had to have more elections in the later birth years, and fewer in the early one. I think birtel is doing some of that by having extra years now, and will mash some years together in the 19th century. But we haven’t seen those changes yet.

      • It makes sense to me, time-wise. Expansion started in 1961, right? So a player born before 1930 had already been through his peak before expansion came along, ie. everyone born before 1930 was definitely playing in a 16-team league, whereas most people after 1930 played at least the second half of their career post-expansion, giving more opportunity for teams to play for, stats to accumulate, etc.

        I like that we’ve got to this point of the process, where we’re comparing guys that were on the field in different generations. To me, that’s what talking about all-time baseball greats is all about. And not the obvious candidates, but as I mentioned in a previous post, comparing the Witaker/Grich/Santo kind of guys to the Koufax/Ford/Duke Snider kind of players. I already can’t wait until December to toss a 1970 ballot into the late 19th-century mix.

  19. I was going to type some stuff about Ernie Banks and his amazing peak accomplishments but perhaps those words will be better served when he is in strong contention for the win.

    Koufax, Banks, and a guy I haven’t voted for in the longest, John Smoltz

    I may change one vote if Eddie Murray or Killebrew look like they are in danger.

    • I hope you’re not a marshmallow salesman, but regardless, I’d watch my back now if I were you. He may be the late Billy Martin, but I’m not sure that matters.

      • When we do the COG for managers he’s got my vote.
        Was just hoping to get someone to bite on a Billy conversation for a few days while the ballot took shape.

        I still remember Christmas being ruined in 1989.

        • …And I still remember the insanity of what
          I think was July 29, 1978. It was old timers
          day in the Bronx.

          Not sure about the date. Won’t check.

          Martin who had been fired about five days prior,
          was introduced last that day, as DiMaggio seethed.

          Before Martin ran out, the great Bob Shepard explained
          that Bob Lemon would manage the Yankees for the
          rest of 1978 and all of 1979. At which point the Yankees
          would again be managed by number 1…

          At this point Billy runs out, the crowd goes
          crazy, and the words “Billy Martin” are not able
          to be heard by the over 110,000 ears in attendance.

          The Bronx Zoo was never more open for business
          than at this moment.

      • In a September 1985 piece for SI, Moss Klein
        Documents Billy Martin’s pugilistic record from
        1952 (Jimmy Puersall) until Ed Whitson in 1985.

        He puts his record at 13-4. These include a
        May 1956 bout against Tommy Lasorda (Martin-Decision),
        An October 1979 bout against Joseph N. Cooper,
        the aforementioned marshmallow salesman
        (Martin TKO) and even a June 83 bout against
        a porcelain urinal (Martin KO).

        As Voomo documents Billy was an extraordinary
        manager, vastly improving every team he managed.

        His epitaph, authored by Billy himself, sums it up…

        I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I was the proudest.

        Here is Klein’s article…

        http://www.cnnsi.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1119946/index.htm

  20. For the 1928 Part Two election, I’m voting for:
    -Ryne Sandberg
    -Edgar Martinez
    -Craig Biggio

    Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):
    -Smoltz
    -Grich
    -Lofton
    -Murray
    -McCovey
    -Banks
    -Marichal

    • Vote Change:

      From Banks, Lofton, McCovey

      to

      Banks, Lofton, Billy Martin

      I think Billy deserves at least one vote. And now that Voomo has abandoned him, somebody has to pick him up.

  21. Attempting new personal heights of wishy-washiness, I am changing a vote for Smoltz to a vote for Murray to ensure Eddie stays on the ballot.

    Old vote: Koufax, Banks, Smoltz

    change to: Koufax, Banks, Murray

  22. A bit of vote-tallying errata:

    1) On the tally spreadsheet, the first vote of Kirk’s ballot @79 was entered in the correct row, but the other two votes were entered on the row above – this is trivial in that it has no effect on the vote totals, but I figured I might as well mention it.

    2) Dr. Doom’s ballot @26 was Banks, Grich, Marichal, but was tallied as Banks, Grich, Koufax.

    3) Aaron’s ballot @58 was tallied correctly, but the spreadsheet is summing rows 3-169 instead of rows 2-169, so his votes aren’t being added to the totals.

    SPOILER ALERT: if you don’t want to know the current vote totals, please skip the rest of this post.

    So – if I’ve tallied everything else correctly, after making the corrections in 2) and 3) above the current totals (after 59 ballots) are:

    Grich 24
    Koufax 22
    Marichal 21
    Banks 16
    Smoltz 16
    Ford 15
    Martinez 14
    Biggio 9
    Sandberg 9
    Lofton 8
    McCovey 8
    Killebrew 7
    Murray 7
    Martin 1

    • Ho hum, just a 3-man, nail-biter finish this time around then.

      Six guys above 25% and another just 1 vote away (Martinez).

      And with everyone at 7 votes or above it’s likely all of our holdovers will move forward.

    • I think Fox will have a tough time making the cut, myself. Looking down the road, second base and right field seem to be the positions with the deepest pools of plausible candidates. Right now we have only 3 second baseman in the CoG (Morgan, Carew, Whitaker); let’s assume Grich will make it, that’d give us 4.

      But then we have Jackie Robinson (5), and a passel of pre-war players: Lajoie, Collins, Hornsby, and Gehringer (6,7,8,9), all of whom I expect to sail in easily. I’m less certain about Frisch – some may hold his Veterans Committee shenanigans against him – but I’d say he belongs, too (10).

      Then there are the moderns, either those still on the ballot (Biggio, Sandberg) or off (Alomar, Randolph) – and we haven’t even mentioned Herman, Gordon, Evers, Lazzeri, Doerr….there’s just a lot of talent at the position.

      • If we figure a roughly 80/30 ratio for position players to pitchers that works out to about 10 players at each position.

        But I’m not sure that all positions are created equal and after looking over the list of eligible candidates multiple times I think that the positions with the deepest talent are right field, shortstop and second base, in that order. And, of course, a lot of that depends on at what position you consider to be a players position. If you put Musial, Carew, Banks, Killebrew and Allen to all be first basemen then it’s much deeper than if you just limit it to players who had the most career value there.

        Either third base or catcher would probably be the shallowest positions, with a few caveats. And even though we have already inducted 7 third basemen (assuming that’s where you put Molitor but not Rose) we have already seen all of the best that the position has to offer with the possible exception of Home Run Baker. If WAR is your primary criteria, Baker is the only remaining candidate who would even rank with the best of the candidates in the redemption rounds. Catcher is similar although much will depend there on how much of an adjustment people make for the position. If you go by the adjustments that Adam Darowski made in the Hall of Stats, only Berra & Dickey meet the criteria of those who remain. If you’re a little more generous then Cochrane and Hartnett are possibilities and Campanella needs a fair bit of credit for time lost to segregation and/or his career ending accident.

        As far as David’s analysis at second base goes I agree with the 10 that he lists and I’d add at least 2 and possibly a 3rd from the rest that he named.

        I’m really hoping that the BBWAA goes wild this year and adds another half a dozen or more players so we have room for everyone I think belongs.

        And even then there are going to be a dozen or more that were *so* close…

        • I consider Molitor a 1B/DH since he played over 1100 games at DH and just under 800 at 3B.

          It’ll be interesting to see how much of a “catcher adjustment” people apply. Myself, I’m inclined to put in Hartnett and Cochrane, as well as Berra and Dickey; not sure about Campanella, who presents a particularly tricky case.

          I’d like to see the BBWAA go nuts next HoF election, too, but I’m not holding my breath – the last time the BBWAA voted in more than 3 players was 1955, a ballot that featured 35 players who would eventually make the Hall (many of them via the VC, true).

          My guess is that they’ll most likely elect 3 (Johnson, P Martinez, Biggio), and *maybe* a 4th, but no more.

        • Musial, Carew and Banks all clearly had most of their value playing in other positions and should be slotted there, even if they played more games at 1B than any other particular position. Musial only played more at 1B because he split his corner outfield time between left and right. If you take those as similar enough, he played a lot more games in the outfield.

          Allen, and Killebrew, OTOH, I think it’s reasonable to slot at 1B, even though they both played a lot of games at other positions, a bigger share of their career value came at 1B than any other position.

          As far as catchers, it looks like we have 4 in now, and Rodriguez is a very solid candidate from the 1970 birth year coming up. Berra and Dickey would give us 7, not terrible. Perhaps we should be a little more generous and seriously consider the three you mention. I can’t think of anybody we’ve left on the table from previous ballots who’d be a better candidate than those three at C. Munson and Simmons fall below them (IMO — Campanella depends on how you treat his could-have-beens). Torre is the one who maybe has fallen through the cracks. He didn’t play 50% of his games at C, so he misses a lot of the searches, but he did provide about 70% of his value during seasons when he was primarily a catcher, I’m guessing 50%+ at the position.

          He shouldn’t get any catcher WAR adjustment for playing outside the position, but even if you adjust him less than others, he had almost 60WAR to begin with, so I think it’s worth putting him back in the conversation, especially if they day comes the field feels a little thinner than it is now.

          That gives us 12 catchers worthy of consideration. We should probably be looking to elect at least one, maybe two of Hartnett, Cochrane, Torre and Campanella, for balance. All four look like reasonable borderline choices to me.

          At third, I think it’s worth dipping into the redemption round players. I’d seriously consider Nettles and Bell before HRB. The only reason to do the latter IMO, is the complete lack of 3Bs before the 50s otherwise. By hall rating he falls below them and at #130, not considering players as yet ineligible for the hall, *and* he played his whole career pre-integration. That’s a player I normally would not select, but for being the sole reasonable choice at his position over the first half of the game’s long history.

          One consideration is that there are a number of good 3B candidates who haven’t reached our ballot yet at the other end. Chipper Jones (1972) should be a slam-dunk. Then further out, Rolen and Beltre both look like good candidates (better than Baker, Nettles, Bell anyway). Arod is almost 1/2 and 1/2 now as SS vs. 3B both for games and for value, but he did come in at short, and only moved because he teamed up with another iconic shortstop and somebody had to, so I guess he’s not really a 3B, but he’d be another slam dunk.

          If we count those guys, we get up to 10 without electing any of Baker/Nettles/Bell, but of course, by the time we get to Beltre, we’re hoping the COG will include a few more players. Still I think we’re probably okay at 3B as well.

          • Ivan Rodriguez was born in 1971, not 1970.

            I agree that Chipper Jones, Rolen, and probably Beltre are all CoG-worthy candidates, but I’m not sure that we’ll reach birth year 1972 by the time we’ve finished this process.

            I think Baker is CoG-worthy on his own merits: he had a good peak, he was a key member of one of the dominant teams of his time, and if he hadn’t sat out 2 seasons mid-career and had put up just average (for him) performances in those years he’d have over 70 WAR for his career.

          • I hate to think of the COG as being “finished.” It’s better than the hall after all — I imagine it continuing indefinitely as long as baseball is a major sport, even though I know that’s unlikely.

          • I’m really surprised that people see Cochrane as a maybe. Sure, if you just look at his WAR, he doesn’t stand out. But I see WAR as a starting point and I think it’s necessary to go beyond WAR. Three points re: Cochrane:

            1) He obviously played in the 154 game era which hurts him a bit in relation to more modern players.

            2) His career ended when he was hit in the head by a pitch from Bump Hadley. This was in the era before batting helmets. Normally I wouldn’t give an “injury bonus” but this seems like a situation that’s quite different from most injuries. His stats from his last season indicate that he could still play.

            3) Finally and most importantly. During his time Cochrane was considered a great defense catcher. Yet his Rfield numbers don’t reflect that (career Rfield of -2). But we know that a) defensive metrics aren’t as well developed as offensive metrics, b) this is particularly true of catchers, c) the defensive metrics are particularly poor for players from the earlier years of baseball. In fact, if you look at his Rfield numbers you see that they barely change from one year to the next. They range from -3 to +2. That hardly seems possible for someone who was a regular for 11 years. In a situation like this, I think you have to give a lot of weight to the opinion of the people who saw him play and accept that Rfield just isn’t up to the task.

          • I know he would never be selected for the COG but it wouldn’t hurt to at least consider catcher Wally Schang whose career spanned 1913-1931. At the time of his retirement he led all catchers in the following lifetime categories: G, PA, AB, R, H, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB, HBP, RC and WAR. He was 2nd in OBP, OPS+, and WAR batting runs, 3rd in SLG, OPS and HR, 4th in SB and 6th in BA. He played on 6 pennant winners (with a significant number of PA in each season), more than anyone but Ruth and Frisch, I believe.
            For the entire span of years to date his RC of 815 puts him in 24th place overall and his OPS+ of 117 puts him in 19th place, tied with Carlton Fisk. Finally, not that it matters, he was the first player, since 1901, to hit HR from both sides of the plate in a game.

          • David P-

            I can see from what I typed that someone might think that I might view Cochrane as a maybe but the fact is that I long ago decided that I was voting for him when the time comes.

            I don’t want to go to deep in to my argument for his inclusion at this point but the short version is that it seems to me that excluding the best catcher(s) – by a considerable margin and depending on how you view Buck Ewing (who we don’t consider)- in the first 75 years of the game is as unfair and illogical as what Murray Chass is doing today. I’m not absolutely certain about Hartnett yet but I’m about 90% of the way there.

            And I feel the same way about Baker at third base as I do Cochrane.

            And while I don’t think Wally Schang belongs in the COG (other than maybe for being named Wally) I’m a big fan and the fact that Ray Schalk is in the HOF and Schang isn’t might be THE best single example of how irrational the HOF voting process can be.

          • @138/MS;

            I don’t see how Cochrane can be less than Top-8 all time for catchers (where JAWS in B-R has him); I’d put him 5th all-time, only behind the guys who played after him:

            – Berra
            – Bench
            – Berra
            – I-Rod
            – Piazza

            This is not a case o a player once considered #1 at his position a long time ago, but in retrospect being grossly overrated, such as Pie Traynor.

            This is where the ‘intangibles’ come into play; he was almost considered almost universally a fiery on-field leader. This reputation wasn’t just because he played on some great A’s teams; when he was traded to the Tigers to become player-manager, this is his record in his three full years:

            1934: won pennant, lost WS in seven G
            1935: Won WS
            1934: second in AL (though only 81-73)

            That’s very impressive.

          • @152;

            Well, at least SOMEONE is reading my comments, mess-ups and all…

          • LA @ 151 –

            To me Cochrane, Dickey, and Hartnett seem like a pretty tight grouping:

            Cochrane: 1482 G, 129 OPS+, 52.1 WAR
            Dickey : 1789 G, 127 OPS+, 55.8 WAR
            Hartnett: 1990 G, 126 OPS+. 53.4 WAR

            They played in the same era, they were all members of multiple pennant-winning teams. The main difference is Cochrane’s injury, which foreshortened the decline phase of his career, so he has a little less WAR and a little higher OPS+ than the others.

            Since we haven’t yet reached the era when player-managers were not uncommon, I haven’t yet thought about whether to give successful player-managers extra credit.

            David P @ 147 makes an excellent observation about the Rfield numbers – all three of these players’ Rfield numbers vary only within a very small range, which suggests that Rfield is effectively throwing up its hand when it comes to catcher defense in this era.

            Anyway, I think all 3 of them are CoG-worthy, and if I were ranking all catchers I suppose I’d put them in a 3-way tie behind Bench, Berra, Rodriguez, Piazza, and Carter.

          • @154/DH,

            All excellent points, but I’d still rate Cochrane clearly ahead of Dickey/Hartnett, though the margin isn’t that big.

            Before advanced stats (say, 30+ years ago…) Cochrane was ALWAYS rated over the other two. It’s possible I’m overrating him and new evidence shows that, but I don’t think so.

            Interesting that when he first came up, he was considered a good hitter but rather hopeless defensively, staying in the line-up only because of his bat. He must have improved very quickly.

          • Hartvig – Thanks for your clarification re: Cochrane.

            David H – There’s definitely something weird with the catchers’ Rfield numbers from that era. Does it effect other position players as well? Haven’t had time to look. BTW, the baserunning numbers look a bit strange to me as well.

          • I took a look at a few long-term regular infielders and outfielders from that era, and although it was just a handful all of their Rfield numbers have a much broader range of variation than the catchers.

            Maybe it has something to do with the running game becoming increasingly less important from the mid-20s on? And perhaps also a simple lack of data – there are no CS numbers for the NL for most of Hartnett’s career, so the formula that calculates Rfield for catchers may just have less to work with.

  23. Looks like everybody is safe now, so no need to save my vote.

    Grich is my pick. Smoltz is my second choice and conveniently could use a vote to keep him comfortably over the 25% threshold. Then who for third. My third choice is probably Marichal, but he’s well ahead of 25%, and it doesn’t seem like he can win this round at this point. Whitey could use some headroom to get his second year, if I don’t vote for him, only one more ballot without his name will drop him below 25%. OTOH, Edgar needs one to get into 25%. Two in jeopardy or one comfortable? decisions decisions:

    Grich, Smoltz, Martinez

    • Other second basemen with long careers and similar OPS+ include Red Schoendienst (OPS+ 94) and Junior Gilliam (OPS+ 93). Gilliam was shut out in last round’s voting, and I doubt Schoendienst will do much better. On the other hand, Fox was probably one of the better fielding second basemen in history; his dWAR is 5th all-time for the position.

      I suppose we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here, so I’ll leave off the Fox hunt for now.

  24. Goddangit, should have waited after all.

    Now that I can’t change my vote, somebody needs to vote for Ford to give him an extra year.

    • Well, at least Ford isn’t on the bubble to begin with. I’m glad it appears that Martinez will get a little breathing space.

  25. Banks, marichal and murray. I dont understand the love for grich, there are many players in the redemption pile i would vote for over him. But i dont want to get into an argument over him, so ill leave it at that.

    • I haven’t voted for Grich, but I can see the case for him. He has the 7th most WAR for players who played at least half their games at 2B, trailing only Hornsby, Collins, Morgan, Lajoie, Gehringer, and Whitaker (if we include Carew, he’d be 8th), and is tied for 9th best OPS+ (or 10th, if Carew is included).

      Of the players ahead of him in OPS+, 2 are active (Utley and Cano, who are only a tick ahead of Grich and haven’t finished the decline phases of their career), and 2 are deadball era players (Larry Doyle and Danny Murphy) with shortish careers.

      So one can certainly argue that he’s one of the top 10-12 second baseman of all time; certainly not at the Hornsby-Collins-Morgan level, but solidly in the tier below them.

  26. – Marichal
    – Banks
    – Ford

    I’ve been preparing/away on a trip the last full week; I look forward to catching up on the latest discussions, and posting my opinions when I have something useful to say (and probably some times when I have something not very useful to say :) ).

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