Circle of Greats: 1918 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 66th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round adds to the ballot those players born in 1918, a group that includes some guys who were pretty good at baseball. Rules and lists are after the jump.

This round’s new group of 1918-born players joins the holdovers from previous rounds to comprise the full set of players eligible to receive your votes this round.

The new group of 1918-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, 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 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.

All voting for this round closes at 11:59 PM EDT Tuesday, August 5, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:59 PM EDT Sunday, August 3.

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 1918 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-1918 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 twelve 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 1918 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.

There is one 1918-born player who makes the ballot despite having played in only nine major league seasons, based on a career Wins Above Replacement total over 20. That’s Whitey Kurowski, who overcame a childhood injury that badly damaged his right arm to last nine years in the majors, including several years as a star third basemen for the Cardinals during and after World War II, until the arm finally gave out.

Whitey Ford (eligibility guaranteed for 6 rounds)
Kenny Lofton (eligibility guaranteed for 6 rounds)
Craig Biggio (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Ryne Sandberg (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Minnie Minoso (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Roberto Alomar (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Kevin Brown (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Roy Campanella  (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Dennis Eckersley (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Harmon Killebrew (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ralph Kiner (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Eddie Murray (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)

Everyday Players (born in 1918, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Mickey Vernon
Ted Williams
Pee Wee Reese
Bobby Doerr
Don Kolloway
Frank Baumholtz
Jim Russell
Snuffy Stirnweiss
Whitey Kurowski

Pitchers (born in 1918, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Bob Feller
Bob Chipman
Jack Kramer
Eddie Lopat
Marv Grissom
Randy Gumpert
Red Munger


Circle of Greats: 1918 Balloting — 210 Comments

    • How are you dealing with war years Doc? I’m currently mulling over Pee Wee Reese, and leaving him off my ballot would definitely not be an easy decision for me.

      • You’re right, RJ! I totally missed that Reese was on there. I noted it in LAST round’s voting, but totally forgot when the time came this time ’round. Here are the players that I have as number 3-9, by peak-adjusted WAR:

        KBrown – 71.9
        RSandberg – 71.1
        KLofton – 67.9
        RAlomar – 67.8
        CBiggio – 66.6
        PReese – 66.0
        EMurray – 64.7

        So the question is: do I think Reese’s War years were worth more than 6 WAR? The answer is, “Undoubtedly.”

        First time ever (I think) amending my ballot:

        Ted Williams
        Bob Feller
        Pee Wee Reese

        Thanks to RJ!!!

        • No problem Doc! I genuinely wanted to know if you had a reason for leaving Reese off; turns out you’re just a scatterbrain like the rest of us. :)

  1. Here’s the vote according to my methodology. I take four measures of player value as a gauge of how players compare across advanced 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 – 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 awhile ago 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):

    Williams 4
    Brown 10
    Lofton 16
    Sandberg 17
    Feller 21
    Alomar 24
    Murray 28
    Reese 29
    Eckersley 36
    Biggio 37
    Killebrew 45
    Kiner 51
    Ford 51
    Minoso 53
    Doerr 56
    Campanella 64

    This is an interesting round, right in the perfect time for the ‘war credit’ question to be most pertinent. For me, it’s easy – looking at Feller and Reese in those years, I’d put them above everyone on the ballot save Williams, assuming they would have had 3 ‘normal’ years (which I think is the fairest thing we can do). Doerr would be a borderline call if he did 3 years too, but he did 1 so it’s hard to give him enough credit to even get him as a borderline candidate. He’s out.

    Williams is in another stratosphere. I knew he was the best hitter of all time, of course, but just looking at his WAR numbers before and after WWII, they were between 10-11 consistently. Before and after Korea, it was 7-8 WAR years. Assuming ‘normal’ performance, it would give him another 44 or so WAR, which would put him with Bonds and Ruth in terms of position players, and no one else. In terms of the metric of WAR/162*WAR, his score is 1071.01; for context, the next highest is Kevin Brown with 358.17 (for the equivalent WAR/250IP*WAR). That’s just nuts.

    Anyway, I have little doubt that Reese and Feller will get the regular ‘first time showing up’ votes enough to move on, so I’ll vote for the best player and the best players I’m worried about dropping off:


  2. to plagiarize bells ” I’ll vote for the best player and the best players I’m worried about dropping off”


  3. Williams, Feller, Ford

    I just discovered that you can do a PI search by the first and/or last letter of a player’s first and/or last name. Just for the heck of it I searched for players whose first and last names ended in “z”. I found two such players, Fritz Mollwitz and Fritz Von Kolnitz. And they were teammates on the 1915 Reds. I also found that this year’s Yankees are the only team to have 5 starters whose names all ended with “a” and started at least 4 games. Ah, the amazing things you can do with the PI.

    • That must be a new feature, yes? Surely I would have noticed that before.

      In the Kabbalah version of the COG the ballots are based on last letters of names instead of birth year.

  4. This year’s tidbits.

    Mickey Vernon’s 43 doubles in 1953 would be the high-water mark for the 35 and older crowd for 25 years, until Pete Rose’s 51 double season in 1978 at age 37. Who are the only players older than Rose with a 50 double season?

    Ted Williams’ 1949 season of 150 runs, 150 RBI and 150 walks is unique in baseball history. Think about that – try driving in 150 runs when you’re walked more than 20% of the time you come to the plate.

    Bob Feller’s 1946 season marks of 371 IP, 348 strikeouts, and 36 CG were then the live ball era records. The latter mark still stands and the former ones have since been eclipsed by only a handful of players. Using Tom Tango’s pitch count estimator, Feller’s 1946 season works out to 5848 total pitches, including 5649 in his 42 starts, an average of 135 per start (in comparison, in the two seasons that Randy Johnson surpassed Feller’s strikeout total, Johnson averaged 120 and 117 pitches per start in 7 and 8 fewer starts).

    Pee Wee Reese’s 8 consecutive seasons with 90 runs scored are the longest streak by an NL shortstop. Who is the only AL shortstop to match that feat?

    Bobby Doerr was the first 2nd baseman with 1000 runs, 2000 hits and 200 home runs while playing in the AL. Only Lou Whitaker has since matched that feat.

    Eddie Lopat is one of 4 left-handed starters to appear in the World Series for 5 winning Yankee teams. Who are the other three, and which of them never appeared in a World Series game that his team lost?

    Bob Chipman’s 880 career IP were then the fewest among pitchers with 250 games including 75 starts. Who are the only retired pitchers with fewer career IP than Chipman in 250 games including 100 starts?

    Don Kolloway is the only player with exactly one season with 100 games at 1st base, exactly one season with 100 games at 2nd base, and no seasons with 100 games at any other position. Who is the only player with exactly one season of 100 games at 1st base, 2nd base and one other position?

    Jack Kramer was the ace of the 1944 Browns, leading the AL champs in starts, IP, ERA and strikeouts. With Boston in 1948, Kramer (acquired by the Red Sox with Vern Stephens) led the AL in W-L% and got the ball for the season’s penultimate game, beating the Yankees to knock them out of the pennant race and keep Red Sox hopes alive (Boston would lose the pennant to Cleveland in a one game playoff).

    Frank Baumholtz and Jackie Robinson are the oldest players with 700 PA in a first season, both in 1947. Who is the oldest player since with that many PA in a debut season?

    Marv Grissom, at age 38 in 1956, and Red Munger (1944) own the two highest pre-expansion ERA+ marks for live ball seasons of 80+ IP. Who is the only live ball pitcher as old as Grissom with 200 ERA+ in an 80 IP pre-expansion season?

    Red Munger was one of five pitchers with 20 starts, 150 IP and a SO/BB ratio below 1.0 for each of the 1948 to 1950 seasons. Who is the last pitcher with two such seasons consecutively?

    Snuffy Stirnweiss is the only player to twice lead his league in runs, hits, triples and stolen bases, doing so in consecutive seasons (1944-45). Who are the only other players to lead in all four categories in the same season?

    Jim Russell was traded by the Pirates after the 1947 season in exchange for Danny Murtaugh, an instance of a player being traded for a team’s future manager. Which All-Star player did Pittsburgh trade to acquire another future manager?

    Randy Gumpert’s 1000 IP career is unique in starting at age 20 or younger but having no major league service for ages 21 to 27. Which other two pitchers with 1000 IP careers starting at age 20 or younger had fewer than 100 IP aged 21 to 27?

    Whitey Kurowski ranks in the top 4 among Cardinal third basemen for career marks in games, hits, walks, HR and RBI. He ranks first for the same Cardinal career marks (except HR) in World Series play.

      • I was certain that Willie Wilson was one of the answers but it turns out that his 79 stolen bases in 1980 was only good enough for second place behind some flash-in-the-pan named Henderson.

    • The randomness of 90 disqualifies Jeter because
      of the injury in 03.

      Even so, at least 84 runs scored for 17
      consecutive seasons.

      Not Ripken either.


      Is it Alan Trammel?

        • True. The interesting question is if Arod had never gone to New York and had remained a shortstop…

          Is he the greatest SS ever?

          Because right now the answer is the Flying Dutchman, with whom I share a birthday.

          Arod may have made it a debate.

          In 1908, the lowest scoring season in MLB history, my time twin had 109 RBI’s and 100 runs scored.

          Impressive totals in those low scoring days when teams
          averaged a mere 3.4 runs per game.

          He led the league in the following in 1908:

          Stolen Bases

          The following five categories he led in from 1907-09…

          Batting Average
          On Base Percentage
          Slugging Percentage
          Total Bases

          All six categories, three years in a row!

          That 1908 season bathed in a plethora of baseball
          reference style black ink, stacks up as quite possibly
          the greatest single season in MLB history.

          Even if he had remained a shortstop, the battle Arod
          would have waged on the all-time SS lists, goes no
          further then number 2.

    • For the Eddie Lopat question, I´ll say Whitey Ford never appeared on a Yankee loss.

      For the Baumholtz/Robinson question, I´ll guess Ichiro.

      • Cantu is correct.

        The other player with one 100 game season at both 1st base and 2nd base is Denis Menke, who also had five 100 game seasons at shortstop and two at 3rd base.

    • I’d have to think Bonds’ 01′ season was one of the closer recent seasons to Ted’s 49′ of 150*3. 129r/137RBI/177BB…that’s besides Ted’s 42′ and 46′ seasons of course that barely missed the mark.

      Ruth missed it twice…21′ by 5 walks and in 27′ by 13.

      Bagwell in 99′ posted 143/126/149

      Only 11 times has anyone reached 150BB.

      • ’49 was also the year Williams famously lost the batting title to Kell, and his 3rd triple crown as well, by .0002

    • Interest in the quizzes has seemed to have died out so here are some answers.

      Marv Grissom question: Ellis Kinder
      Red Munger question: Ricky Bones
      Bob Chipman: Darren Dreifort and Jim Hannan

      • The answer to the Mickey Vernon/Pete Rose doubles question is Tris Speaker and Luis Gonzalez, both age 38 when they hit 52 doubles.

      • Richard,

        No guesses on the Jim Russell question?

        As a hint, the player Pittsburgh traded was MVP the next year while the future manager they acquired lasted less than a season as skipper.

        • The Pirates traded Bob Elliott to the Braves for Billy Herman. Herman lasting less than a year as manager was the giveaway. I just searched the list of Pirate managers and looked for a season with more than one manager.

    • Whitey Kurowski isn’t the first to appear in the COG balloting—but he may be the first who isn’t better known to younger HHS contributors—to have his name appear in what song? Many more will follow in the next few ballots.

  5. my vote is: Ted Williams, Bob Feller, and……i’ll try to keep Ralph Kiner alive

    I can’t decide on my third between Ford, Kiner, Doerr, and Reese, so I might as well go with the guy on the bubble who needs the most help.

    this ballot includes 4 surefire HOF in Williams, Feller, Doerr, and Reese. but we shouldn’t discount Eddie Lopat or Mickey Vernon as quality players.

    Mickey Vernon is one of 10 regular hitters to appear in 5+ all-star games at the age of 35 or older. The other 9 include 7 hall of famers, Pete Rose, and Barry Bonds.

    Eddie Lopat is one of 12 players to have 10+ wins in each of his first 11 career seasons. The guys on that list are not as impressive but the 5 to do it after the deadball era are Carl Hubbell, Don Sutton, Tom Seaver, CC Sabathia, and Lopat.

  6. Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Dennis Eckersley.
    Every time I look at Williams Baseball Reference Page I’m amazed. His 1.096 OPS and 190 OPS+ at the age of 41 caught my eye this time. He probably could have come back in 1973 at the age of 54 and been a pretty good D.H.

  7. PeeWee Reese missed his age 24 thru 26 seasons to WW2.

    At age 23 he produced 5.7 WAR. Three years later he returned from the service and produced 6.0, a figure he topped the following season.

    Every year he played from 1942 until 1955 he produced at least 4 WAR. If we only credit him for 4 WAR for each of his missed season that would still give him 68.3 WAR.

    If we credit him with 5 WAR for those seasons- a number he topped every year but 1 between 1942 &1955 but one (OK, 2 actually but 1 was 4.9)- that gives him 71.2 career WAR. The ONLY player with at least 70 career WAR that we have failed to enshrine so far has been Rick Reuschel (70.0 career WAR exactly).

    If we credit him with 6 WAR for those 3 seasons- which is what he averaged the season prior and 2 seasons after returning- that gives him 74.2 career WAR and places him 80th all time.

    Just sayin’…

    • Reese’s WAR is 66.3; wouldn’t giving him 4 WAR for 3 missed years give him 78.3 total, and giving him 6 WAR make it 84.3? For me he’s a no doubter, but he’ll have to wait 2 rounds until Williams and Feller are in.

      • Ha! That’s what I get for posting when I wake up at 3 am and can’t sleep…

        The saddest part is that after I typed everything up that little warning bell in the back of my mind went off so I looked at the numbers a second time and decided for a second time that I had them “right”…

        So at 4 WAR per season he moves up on the list into a tie for 65th, at 5 to 60th and at 6 to a tie for 52nd.

        And yeah, I have to agree that Teddy Ballgame and Rapid Robert have to go first.

    • I show Pee Wee with 66.3 actual WAR, which means if you spot him 4 WAR for his 3 missed seasons (a very conservative estimate that he probably would have exceeded barring injury), he ends up with 78.3, or 81.3 if you give him 5 each (again, not an especially optimistic estimate).

      I think that makes him pretty much a COG lock.

      Feller works similarly. Without the war credit, it’s questionable whether he’s better than some of the modern holdovers given weaker pre-integration leagues etc. But with any reasonable war credit it’s clear he should be a lock. The same goes for a few other guys we’ll see over the next 10-12 birth years.

      Doerr OTOH, is at best borderline for the hall of fame. Not only did he only miss 1 year, 2 or 3 of the years he played was against lesser competition during the war, so a fair could have been might be dinging him on that almost as much as we give him for the year he missed. No way does he sniff the COG.

      • Doerr benefited greatly from playing at Fenway Park. His home tOPS+ of 125 is the highest for players with 3000+ PA. His OPS at home was an excellent .928 but on the road it was a so-so .716. He hit 3 HR in 499 AB at Yankee Stadium. Even Phil Rizzuto hit HR at a greater rate than that at the Stadium.

    • OK, war years aside the hard pill to swallow for me is that Reese was a productive offensive player. But I really do believe OWAR mostly gets the math right and his OWAR is an eye-popping 55.6… ignoring a healthy 117 RFIELD.

      I guess we have to recall the era that Reese played in. Shortstops couldn’t hit worth a lick and stolen bases were down. Still, he ran the bases as well as anybody and swung a competitive bat, leveraging his speed with a healthy walk rate. He had so many good hitters behind him over the years that getting on base with speed and playing great defense year in and year out does seem like what they needed, not driving in runs.

      OWAR tells us Reese was more than competent in the batters box for a very long period, just not in the ways we’re used to seeing. He doesn’t seem like a guy with such high OWAR (considering 3 peak years missed to war), but taking that as justified for what it is he’s a no brainer.

  8. Ted Williams, Pee Wee Reese and Bobby Doerr.

    As far as I can tell Doerr did everything well (my favorite stat is his 89 career triples), and then retired young.

    • That Feller was something special, and I don’t mean in regards to baseball.

      From his obit in the NYT…

      It was Dec. 7, 1941. I was driving to my meeting with my Cleveland Indians bosses to hash out my 1942 contract, and out it came on the radio: the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

      The last thing on my mind right then was playing baseball. I immediately decided to enlist in the United States Navy. I didn’t have to — I was 23 and strong-bodied, you bet, but with my father terminally ill back in Van Meter, Iowa, I was exempt from military service.

      It didn’t matter to me — I wanted to join the fight against Hitler and the Japanese. We were losing that war and most young men of my generation wanted to help push them back. People today don’t understand, but that’s the way we felt in those days. We wanted to join the fighting. So on Dec. 9, I gave up the chance to earn $100,000 with the Indians and became the first professional athlete to join the Navy after Pearl Harbor.

      …and finally this…

      I knew then, and I know today, that winning World War II was the most important thing to happen to this country in the last 100 years. I’m just glad I was a part of it. I was only a gun captain on the battleship Alabama for 34 months. People have called me a hero for that, but I’ll tell you this — heroes don’t come home. Survivors come home.

      As for the Splendid Splinter, these words from his obituary speak

      After leaving the military, Williams went straight back to playing baseball. He continued to earn accolades but was called back to the military in 1952 to serve during the Korean War. He flew with the Third Marine Air Wing, 223rd Squadron and was hit multiple times. During a large strike over Kyomipo, Korea, Williams was hit by North Korean forces and safely crash landed. He was uninjured and flew again the following day, but again took enemy fire over Chinnampo. Afterwards, Williams developed pneumonia and an inner ear problem which hampered his flying ability. This bout of illness influenced his decision to leave the Marines in 1953.

      Williams flew 39 missions and earned an impressive array of medals and awards. They include three Air Medals for Aerial Flight Operations, Navy Unit commendation, Presidential Medal of Freedom, American and Asian Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and more.

      Tom Brokaw is correct when he refers to these folks as the “greatest generation.”

      The Splinter and Rapid Robert are COG Americans.

      • My copy of “My Turn At Bat” is packed away, but my recollection is that in it Williams complained rather bitterly about being recalled to active service for Korea. Does anyone have a copy at hand to check?

      • I don’t have a copy of’ My Turn At Bat’ in front of me, but I do recall that while didn’t he publicly express his displeasure at being recalled into the armed forces for the Korean War, he did resent being called back.

        They may have been called the “greatest generation’, but that doesn’t mean that 100% of them supported US participation in a major war 100% of the time. There were conscientious objectors and those who opposed war in every conflict the US has fought in, including WWII.

        • You are correct Lawrence.

          Regardless, Teddy performed in Korea, and the fact that
          he resented it and did it, only increases my admiration.

          I will admit that my “greatest generation” comment is
          probably tainted in the sense that I should not over
          romanticize it, which I did.

      • Re Bob Feller:

        About 11 years earlier than Feller and 20 miles further south in Iowa someone many people associate with American patriotism was born. He is the image of the WWII fighting man, but only the image, since all his battles were filmed in studio lots or “on location.” Feller is the reality, just a modest “gun captain” on a battleship that saw action in many of the important battles in the Pacific 1943-45, supporting the taking of various islands with shell bombardment, etc.

        As a gun captain, Feller seems, logically, to have been in the thick of that support, notwithstanding his modest assessment of his military career.

          • Ok, a few things need to be said here.

            The portrayal of John Bernard Books is an
            orgiastic feast of the senses.

            John Wayne in the Shootist=Ted Williams in 1960.

            Katherine Hepburn saying “Mr. Books,” is a treat for 2/5 of the known head holes.


            “little Opie Cunningham,”* as Gillom, performs
            a little “eye for an eye” justice, then throws away the gun in disgust.

            A dying eye agrees and approves.

            A fifty year career concludes.

            *Thanks to the great Eddie Murphy.

  9. Most Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasonal totals:

    Williams 95.3
    Brown 43.3
    Feller 39.4
    Lofton 39.3
    Sandberg 38.8
    Alomar 37.1
    Biggio 36.3
    Eckersley 34.3
    Murray 33.7
    Reese 33.4
    Killebrew 33.0
    Minoso 30.6
    Ford 29.3
    Doerr 28.9
    Kiner 27.0
    Campanella 19.2

    I just learned that Feller once had a -4.4 WAA (-2.9 WAR) season. Tough to justify throwing that out there every four of five days. He’s still an all-time great, of course.

    Williams, Brown, Feller

  10. Williams, Miñoso, Alomar.

    A few things caught my attention while reading Williams´ numbers. First, he didn´t made the All Star team during his rookie year, which everyone knows, is one of the all time greatest rookie seasons ever. What I´m not sure if everybody knows (at least I did not), is that he batted .400 on two occasions other than his famous 1941 season, albeit two shortened ones due to military service.

    Another thing is that after hitting well over .300 for 17 straight seasons he batted .254 in his next to last year, but rebounded nicely to .316 in his farewell tour.

    Finally, Williams got MVP votes in almost every season(!), including 1953 when he only had 110 PA, and 1959 when he had 331 PA, but batted only .254/.372/.419.

    • Luis, I had a look at the six outfielders selected ahead of Williams for the 1939 All-Star game, and it’s not such a strange decision. Ted’s .306 batting average at the break was actually second lowest of the group, and his OBP and OPS were middle of the pack. He did lead in RBI and doubles, but I’m guessing there’s a sort of incumbent effect that prevented Williams from cracking the team without obviously superior numbers.

      It’s difficult to see why William’s centerfielding teammate, Doc Cramer, got the nod at RF ahead of him though. Cramer led the Splinter in batting average, but not much else. Cramer’s SABR bio also suggests that 1939 was a trying season for him, starting poorly with the bat, overcompensating in the field with hustling but ultimately fruitless plays, and being overshadowed by the power of his better slugging teammates. Cramer at least tried to make up for this slugging deficiency in more traditional areas; supposedly he threw a punch at Williams in objection to the rook’s cockiness.

      Anyway, as it turns out, each of the six American League All-Star outfielders had worse second halves than first. Williams himself only got better, hitting .345/.458/.632 in the second half to finish at .327/.436/.609 and a 160 OPS+ on the year. He didn’t have a lower mark for another 20 years.

      • RJ – I did a bit of digging and this is what I found:

        “It is hard to fathom today, but as he rose to the majors Ted was universally regarded as a screwball.

        Joe McCarthy, the AL squad’s manager, decided to teach the brash kid a lesson. He selected Doc Cramer, the Red Sox center fielder, to start the game in right field and passed Williams over entirely.”

        Back in 1939, the managers were responsible for selecting the whole team. At least the selection of Cramer makes some sense. It was his 3rd straight All-Star game and 4th overall at that point in his career.

        Looking at the other reserve OFers, I don’t think anyone can argue with Bob Johnson being on the team. George Case was the lone Washington rep (no idea if the minimum one player per team rule existed at the time).

        That leaves the puzzling selection of Myril Hoag. Hoag was a 31 year nobody. The Browns also had George McQuinn on the roster, so why select Hoag?

        Looking a bit closer, I think the answer is obvious. It was Hoag’s first year with the Browns. Prior to that, he played 7 seasons with the Yankees, with Joe McCarthy as his manager!

    • @56/LG:

      In 1959, Williams had neck troubles almost the whole year. To quote the SABR biography “… he developed a very troublesome stiff neck during spring training that saw him wear a neck brace and have a very difficult time trying to overcome it. He never truly got on track… “.

      Even in his worst year of 1959, he had above-average walk and HR rates, and thus an OPS+ of 114.

      The main reason he came back in 1960 was that he didn’t want his final season to be so disappointing.

      • RJ, DP, LA: Thank you all for sharing that information.

        Although I´ve read before about Williams´cockiness, it never occurred to me as a reason for the manager to left him out of the AS team.

        On his next-to-last season, I kind of imagined an injury would have played an important part of it, but just wasn´t sure.

        It really helps to know the whole context in which each story is developed.

  11. Just noticed that in the Yankees 12-11 win over Texas, J.P. Arencibia became just the second player to lose a game with 4 XBH and 7 RBI, and the first to do so in a 9-inning contest (Roberto Clemente did it in 1967 in a 10-inning game).

    Arencibia is also the only player with more than 10 total bases in his career debut game.

  12. Ted Williams
    Bob Feller
    Eddie Murray

    As much as I would put Kevin Brown as my third, I couldn’t ever forgive myself if Murray fell off.

    OK, I could, but it would take a week or two at least.

  13. I seem to recall there was a provision by which a player who received 75% or more of the vote was to receive 6 additional rounds of eligibility. Is that still in effect, or has it been dropped? Feller might be the first to benefit from it, if it’s still a possibility.

    • Yes, thanks, I was going to raise that. Although i haven’t been reciting that rule as part of the weekly ballot post, because the likelihood of its use has seemed so remote, that rule is still in effect, and might possibly be applicable this round. Whether a candidate who hits the 75% level would ever actually need to call on six rounds of eligibility is another question, but he would be entitled to it.

  14. Through 42 ballots cast this round, there have been exactly 42 votes cast for holdovers, 42 votes cast for Ted, and 42 votes cast for other players born in 1918.

    • There’s no play index for the CoG voting, but I’m pretty sure the 43rd vote is the latest vote to break a unanimous ballot. I guess that’s a feather in the cap for Teddy Ballgame.

      David, can I ask why you’d vote for Reese, who already has ten votes, and not someone like Eck, who has 3 and is on the bubble? It seems like your strategy is to vote for guys who you think need your vote to stay on the ballot; but if this is a ‘straight’ vote (3 best players), I’d totally love to hear your reasoning for these players (not meant as a sarcastic backhanded compliment; I’m genuinely curious).

      • As a strategic voter, I do vote to keep players on the ballot, but only if I think they ultimately belong in the CoG – I don’t vote to keep players on just for the sake of keeping them on.

        Of the 7 players on the bubble, there are only 3 I think definitely belong: Alomar, Campanella, and Murray. I’m 50/50 on Killebrew, and dubious at best about Eckersley. Kiner, no, and I just don’t like Brown. So I didn’t vote for Eck ’cause I consider him a marginal candidate, and I don’t vote for marginal candidates.

        Alomar looks pretty safe this round, so I voted for Campanella and Murray. For my 3rd vote, I figured I’d try to help Reese get 25% and stay off the bubble going forward; I think he belongs, for sure. I also considered Sandberg, but he has a few rounds of eligibility stored up, so it’s not a big deal if he burns one this round. If Reese drops well below 25% or Murray gets enough other votes to be safe I might switch a vote to Sandberg, we’ll see.

        • I have the exact same thought process, except I reserved one vote for who I thought was the best player instead of using all 3 on keeping guys on. I’m forgetting about Lofton, Sandberg and Biggio for now because they have eligibility stored and this is such a big ballot year; I think everyone on my list (detailed in my vote post) belongs down to Murray, and maaaaybe Eck. I personally don’t see it for Campy, that’s the only difference. I’m definitely not voting for Killer or Kiner to save them, although I think one time I voted for Killebrew because I didn’t want him to fall to the redemption ballot and take votes away from guys I thought were more deserving of returning. Talk about strategic voting, haha.

          • I will occasionally vote for the best player, but most of the time I’m voting “full strategic” these days.

            As for Campanella, I wasn’t initially sold on him, but after some consideration decided he belongs. He had some great years at a key position for a very successful team (and a couple of stinker years, too, true); add to that a “catcher adjustment” and “segregation adjustment”, and I think he makes it

            Positional scarcity is another minor factor: we currently have 5 catchers in the CoG, my guess is that 3 more (Cochrane, Dickey, Hartnett) will make it, that’d give us 8. I don’t think Lombardi or Schang is going to make it (nor do I think they should), and potential redemptionees such as Freehan, Munson, and Ted Simmons haven’t drawn much support. So Campy would make it 9.

            (Also to note: Ivan Rodriguez, born in 1971, is two HoF election cycles away from being CoG-eligible.)

  15. It’s instructive to look at Teddy Ballgame with the same idea as Feller and Reese. What if he hadn’t been called away for the war in his prime.

    Looking at Williams’s record — the two years before he’s called up for WWII he has 10.6 WAR in each. The year after he comes home he gets 10.9 and then 9.9. It really looks like he loses close to 30 WAR expected over those three years.

    And that’s not all. When he goes to Korea, he plays just 6 games in 1952, so almost a lost season, and then 37 games in 1953, generating 2.3 WAR. In the seasons around those, he’s over 7 WAR, except for 1950 when he played only 89 games (but still performed at a >7WAR pace). His whole career he has only 3 seasons with less than a 6 WAR pace, his last 3. So reasonable to think he could have generated 12 WAR instead of 2.3 in those 2 seasons without the second call up. That’s another 9.7.

    Add 39.7 to his 123.1 and you get 162.8. That would put him #2 on the list, just beating out Barry Bonds, and less than 1 WAR shy of the Babe’s total as a position player.

    Realistically, I don’t know whether I really put him ahead of Mays or Aaron given the time period, but he’s certainly in their company. Giving him some war credit makes him an arguable #2, and pretty clear top 5 position player in my book. I’m normally thinking of him in Musial/Speaker/Wagner company, just a little bit less than Mays/Cobb/Aaron/Bonds but he’s not, he’s in that top ring. This is the first I’m really seeing that the amount of legit war credit you can give the guy turns out to be 2/3 of a hall of fame career.


    Looking at WAA confirms this idea. While Teddy is 11th in career WAR, he’s 6th in career WAA, better than a number of players ahead of him on the WAR list including Aaron. Of the players ahead of him, only Ruth, Bonds and Hornsby have better WAA/PA rates, and only ruth by very much.

    • If hitting were the only aspect of play that mattered, Williams might have been the best of all time. I think Bill James called it very close between him and the Babe. But hitting isn’t the only aspect of the game that matters, even leaving out pitching. Williams was an indifferent baserunner, a sporadic fielder early on—meaning, his mind wasn’t in the game half the time—and a poor one later. He had demons that haunted him in a negative way, so that very few people considered him a team player, although he apparently was liked by some of his fellow Red Sox. The nostalgia of the Boston fan base for his memory doesn’t match up with the contentious reality of what went on at the time. In 1956, far into his career, he was fined $5000—tying for the largest fine ever levied up to that time—for spitting at the Boston crowd for booing him, as they had throughout his career.

      Calling him “Teddy Ballgame” is to me a farcical misnomer. Call him “Teddy Hitting” if you want. Stan Ballgame Musial would be far more appropriate, except that Stan has a better nickname, one that he earned.

      • NSB:

        The origin of the Teddy Ballgame nickname is interesting.

        What follows is the version I believe:

        Following is from “My Turn at Bat”, Williams’ autobiography.

        Teddy Ballgame I got from a kid. A friend of mine, a photographer named Fred Kaplan, brought his little boy to a game at Fenway Park. He couldn’t have been more than two years old at the time, but it made an impression on him. A couple of years ago Fred was going to the park again and the boy wanted to come, too. “Why,?” Fred said. “Who do you want to see/”
        “I want to see Teddy.”
        “Teddy who?”
        The boy thought for a minute. “Teddy Ballgame.”

        Fred Kaplan wrote this letter to Sports Illustrated in 1968

        I first met Ted Williams in 1947 when he lived down the street from me in Brighton (a suburb of Boston). [snip]
        I got a great kick out of reading how he refers to himself several times in his story as Teddy Ballgame [SI had been publishing previews from the book]. This is a nickname that my oldest son, Lee (now 11), gave to him when he first met Ted in 1961, at the age of 4. Being a close personal friend of Ted’s, I regularly visited him at his home, often taking Lee along with me. The first time he was introduced to Ted he said, “Hi, Teddy Ballgame,” and Ted cracked up. From that time on that’s the name we used in referring to him, and Ted likes to use it sometimes in referring to himself.

        It is a cute story, a little boy combining the person and his profession into
        one name.

        An interesting list would be one of players deserving of such a moniker.


      • One of my favourite passages I read the first time I read the BJHBA was in his ranking of left fielders, he ranked Musial ahead of Williams. In his justification (I don’t have the book here to quote but I remember well enough) he started by saying that as stats get more and more advanced, it becomes clear that Williams, and not Ruth, is the best offensive player of all time (this was in 1986, I think). But then he went on to detail how much more valuable Musial was on the basepaths, in the field, in the clubhouse. The beautiful punchline was something like ‘the only place I’d take Williams is with the wood in his hands. But Musial could hit some, too’.

    • @91/MS, 93/nsb;

      Excellent point, nsb; while hitting is of course the main component of value for a position player, the other stuff matters – often, a lot. While a LFer is the second-least important defensive position, defense and baserunning can still add significantly to a LFer’s value.

      For this reason (referencing MS in #91), I cannot put Ted Williams in the All-Time Top 5 of position players, although he’s certainly in the Top-10:

      1) Babe RUTH
      2) Willie MAYS
      3) Honus WAGNER
      4) Barry BONDS
      5) Ty COBB
      6) Hank AARON

      7) Ted WILLIAMS

      8) Tris SPEAKER
      9) Stan MUSIAL
      10)Eddie COLLINS

      I know what WAR says; this is based on more than WAR. In the case of near-equivalent value, I’ll go for the all-around players over the hitting-only (Williams) guys. …And this is from a guy who is a HUGE Ted Williams fan.

  16. Feller is doing extremely well in the voting so far, and justly so. But I’m just slightly surprised that no one has started a discussion about just how unusual his career is, even ignoring the 3+ seasons he lost to the war.

    Feller is one of those players whose reputation is so imposing that you just generally accept that he deserves his status as unquestionably “inner-circle.” (Kind of like Koufax, at least outside of the HHS community.) Putting my cards on the table, I think Feller does deserve that status, but it could be interesting to discuss some of the stranger components of his career in attempting to gauge just where he should fall on the hierarchy of immortal greats.

    1)He’s done as an above average pitcher by the time he’s 28. That’s pretty shocking; not something I had ever really considered given some of his impressive looking W/L records after his late 20s.

    2)WAR doesn’t necessarily love him. He has virtually the same amount of WAR/IP as Whitey Ford, someone who has inspired a lot of debate during this process.

    3)Those remarkable seasons (1939-1941; 1946) where he’s putting up huge WAR, are also seasons where he’s racking up huge amounts of IP. (I recall some discussion maybe about a year ago regarding Steve Carlton’s famous ’72 season, and how evaluation of his historic WAR that season should be qualified, at least in some measure, by the enormous amount of innings he pitched.)

    4)Those walks. Yikes. His WHIP is pretty pedestrian all things considered.

    Now, the vexed question of extra credit for the war. Like most other fans, I make an adjustment for all that missed time the way I do for those other immortals who lost prime years to the war. I’m going to suggest, though, that it is more tenable to make an adjustment for everyday players than for pitchers. When you look at Feller’s career it seems pretty plain that his arm just got prematurely exhausted due to A)how young he was when he entered the league and B)how many innings he pitched on average in his early years. It doesn’t seem an unreasonable speculation to suggest that, had he not missed those WW II years, his arm would (or could) have lost its snap all the sooner. Sure, an everyday player also risks injury every time he steps on the field; but with Feller, who lost the pop in his arm so young, I have a harder time granting him an extra 20-30 WAR for his career than I would for, say, Williams or DiMaggio.

    • I agree that it’s trickier to project pitchers who lost time due to the war. What’s more, Feller was worked *far harder* than any young pitcher in the lively ball era; here are the top 20:

      Most IP through age 22 season, 1920-present

      Feller 1448.3
      Blyleven 1054.6
      McCormick 988.3
      Dierker 980.6
      Gooden 924.3
      Tanana 840.6
      Hunter 803.3
      Drysdale 802.3
      Houtteman 786.6
      W Hoyt 775.0 (incl IP in 1918-19)
      Valenzuela 752.0
      Pappas 737.0
      Nolan 736.0
      Branca 717.3
      Newhouser 690.6
      Harder 690.6
      Sadecki 675.6
      F Hernandez 666.3
      Gullett 658.3
      Stobbs 642.3

      And with all those walks and strikeouts, he must have thrown a tremendous number of pitches. As I hardly need tell any of you, very few pitchers on the above list enjoyed long, productive careers.

      • Re: “very few pitchers on the above list enjoyed long, productive careers” — Clearly, few were productive in their 30s. But those 20 pitchers averaged 40 career WAR (with the same median). They averaged 27 WAR after age 22.

        Four topped 60 career WAR and made the Hall of Fame — plus two other HOFers, three more 200-game winners, and King Felix looking stronger than ever.

        I’m not advocating 250-IP workloads for 20-year-olds. But the list itself is not, I think, a strong case against it.

        Suppose a given pitcher has two potential futures: 40-50 WAR over 10 years if he’s pushed at a young age, or 50-60 WAR over 15 years if he’s handled much more gingerly. The latter way makes more money for the pitcher, but which has more pennant impact? It’s far from a hypothetical question.

        Ten of those 20 pitchers combined for 19 world championships in their 20s. All were productive in those championship years, and they combined for an 18-6 record in those Series wins, with at least one win for all but Gooden.

        (Hoyt, Drysdale, Catfish and Gullett all won three WS titles in their 20s; Nolan won two; and one apiece for Newhouser, Sadecki, Blyleven, Fernando and Gooden.)

        I can’t say how many of those titles depended on a heavy workload by a young pitcher. But some did, as did some other pennants these guys won:

        — Newhouser’s MVP years (625 IP total at age 23-24) lifted Detroit to one championship (pennant won by 1.5 games) and another pennant race lost on the final day.

        — Drysdale’s 270 IP at 22 helped the ’59 Dodgers win the pennant by 2 games. No teammate reached 200 IP.

        — Fernando’s ’81 Dodgers won the 1st-half division by a half-game thank to his early shutouts.

        — Hoyt’s ’21 Yankees trailed into September. Hoyt’s 61 IP and 2.35 ERA that month helped win their first pennant, and gave him 282 IP at age 21.

        — Branca’s team-high 280 IP and 21 wins at 21 helped the ’47 Dodgers win the pennant by 5 games.

        The extreme counterexample is Stephen Strasburg getting benched for the 2012 postseason. That’s obviously not typical, but let’s see 10 years from now if he’s still bitter about it, even if he remains productive into his 30s.

        • «I knew it would ruin my arm, but one year of 25-7 is worth five of 15-15.»
          — Steve Stone, whose 25-7 was in 1980 and who never lost more than 12 in a season

        • I think this should be read by more general managers dealing with young arms, particularly when you talk about the financial structure of players salaries in regards to free agency. You get 3 years of paying nearly nothing and 3 years of cost reduced controlled time after that. You can ring out a 7th year too if you are careful when you call them up. But what value do they have after that? Unless you sign them to some long extension that removes free agency years, you’re going to be paying near the top salary in the league for a pitcher who’s already been throwing for 6 or 7 years.

          Why not manage Strasburg like you don’t care if he’s done after getting over 6 years service time? Maximize the value you have in the time you have him locked up for. Maximize the value when you have him paid under what he’s worth. If you really want to think about how a young pitcher’s going to do age 30+, I hope you extend him for that long while you still can. Like, if you’re the mets and Harvey pitches well at the start of next season either put him out there for 115 pitches a game and junk him at the end of arbitration years or sign him for a decade while you won’t have to pay 300mil to do it. I can’t see much good in doing something in between.

    • Paget – The story behind Feller’s lost effectiveness post age 28, is that he slipped off the mound during a rainy game with the A’s on June 13, 1947. According to Feller, he hurt his back and/or knee, which in turn effected his fastball. And that’s why he lost effectiveness.

      Indeed, through June 13, he was averaging 7.2 KOs per 9 innings. The rest of the year it was only 5.2 per 9 innings. And for the rest of his career, he never topped 5.3 per nine innings.

      • The difference between the statistician’s view and the generalist’s view: “his SOs fell off, his WAR plummeted, blah-blah,” vs.” he redefined himself sufficiently after the injury to be a contributing, effective pitcher for the next seven years despite losing the pitch that had hitherto made his career.”

        • I don’t know that that’s a difference between a statistician and a generalist. You can be a stats-focused guy and see (in fact you may more clearly see) that he was great pitcher before and still had the creativity, resourcefulness and talent to to be a good pitcher thereafter despite his lost strikeout pitch. You can be a generalist and be saddened that a pitcher of unprecedentedly unique abilities was left something more ordinary if still good. The difference may be more between a glass-half-full mood or sensibility and a glass-half-empty one, rather than a stats versus poetry contrast.

          Whatever, it’s still David P’s historical/biographical contribution to the discussion that I found most interesting in itself.

          Kudos to all the commenters on the lively discussion of the newcomers to the ballot.

      • @108,
        Interesting–I wonder if this actually makes me more or less inclined to give extra credit for the missed time. Will have to mull that a bit..

        At all events, I’m surprised that the opinion of Feller seems to be as unanimous as it is. I wouldn’t have quite expected that, again, given his pedestrian WHIP, incredibly high walk totals, and unexpectedly low WAR.

        • Since 1920, there have been five pitchers to reach 9 WAR or more in at least three different seasons: Lefty Grove hit 9 WAR or more six times and four pitchers reached that level three times — Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Bob Feller. A good argument might be made that if you fill in the war years with good, not necessarily great, years, Feller’s career looks a lot like Pedro’s.

          • @141,
            Absolutely. Let me a bit more clear: I’m a big Bob Feller fan — but I’m also a big Koufax fan, and I guess what I’m saying is that I was expecting that there might be a disunion of opinion regarding Feller’s career to match that which greeted Koufax during his tenure on the COG ballot.

            As to comparison with Pedro, Martinez put up 20 more WAR in 1000 fewer innings. I by no means believe that WAR is the end-all-be-all–I’m just not sure he’s the best comp for Feller. Actually, looking for a comp, I’d probably go with Koufax.

          • An inverted Koufax, maybe, since Feller produced most of his value in the first years of his career, rather than final years.

  17. So Williams, Feller & Reese could be considered the 3 best players on the ballot. Teddy Ballgame is a shoo in this round. I would guess that Feller goes in the next (the 2 best newcomers are Boudreau and Rizzuto) plus it’s a 2 parter so maybe Reese in part 2.

    After that comes:
    1915-1 Joe Gordon (who has a solid case with time lost to WW2)
    1914 DiMaggio
    1913 -1 Mize (or maybe part 2 depending)- probably good enough as is but definitely when you factor in 3 years of military service
    1912 Arky Vaughan- I’m guessing he goes in first ballot
    1911 Greenberg (who has a great case with time served) and Ducky Wucky Medwick (who doesn’t)
    1910-1 Dizzy Dean (I’m not seeing it)
    1909 Mel Ott
    1908 Lefty Gomez/Ernie Lombardi/Wes Ferrell
    1907 2 parts- Luke Appling/Bill Dickey/Jimmy Foxx all in part 1 most likely

    So in the next 13 ballots I would guess we have 7 fairly certain (Feller, Reese, DiMaggio, Mize, Vaughn, Greenbery & Ott) plus maybe Gordon and Slaughter (I don’t see Boudreau getting in but I might be wrong). I don’t see anyone else with a good enough case to be made.

    That means that at least 4 and possibly 6 of our holdovers will be going in.

    And outside of the 9 I listed (10 if you want to count Boudreau)- I don’t see anyone else on the ballot who is any better than the weakest of our holdovers.

    And since we are going to possibly be selecting as many as half of them for the COG I would like to have as many options as possible for us to choose from when the time comes.

    My vote-

    Sandberg, Minoso, Campanera

    • I just realized I skipped 1916 in my list- which is a 2 parter and where Slaughter enters the picture. There is no part 2 to 1915- but there are still 13 ballots from 1917 to 1908.

      • If we continue the new pattern of having a redemption round every 10 ballots (instead of every 10 years), we’ll have our next one around 1914, which will add some new candidates to the holdover list.

        • There is that. Still, with 7 guys on the bubble and thru our current tally (@ 106) except for the 3 newcomers only 4 other guys are above 10%.

          • Except those with guaranteed eligibility rounds (Ford, Lofton, Biggio, Sandberg, and Minoso) do not need 10% to move through. I noticed that you voted for two of those players hoping to keep them on the ballot, but they don’t those votes. Right now, the only ones in serious danger of falling off the ballot are Campanella (3 votes through 50 ballots) and Kiner (only 1 vote through 50 ballots). Eckersley and Killebrew also sit at exactly 10% through 50 ballots.

          • I still only vote for people that I am convinced belong in the COG.

            There are 4 players on our holdover list that I think belong in the COG and 3 that I don’t.

            The remaining 5 fall in the grey area for me where there are maybe 2 dozen or more players- some with wildly differing credentials and cases to be made for them- for the last handful of spots. Where I see them fitting within that group has changed over time and, I suspect, will continue to do so as more players come onto the ballot.

            When I looked ahead at the next decade of candidates coming on line outside of the players that I mentioned I see at most maybe a handful that I think will garner even minimal support or that have a case to be made for them as good as even the players I currently don’t think belong (altho I’m always willing to listen and even change my mind when someone makes a compelling enough argument).

            As far as my voting for 2 guys that aren’t currently on the bubble I would simply point to Edgar Martinez who- before he fell off the ballot entirely the first time around- had I believe at one point accrued 3 or 4 rounds of eligibility.

            David’s reminder that redemption rounds will be held ever 10 ballots instead of years has allayed some of my concerns but not all of them.

          • @127 Hartvig: I think you’re misremembering. Martínez never made it off the bubble the first time around, maxing out at a 20% share of teh vote in 1960.

          • RJ- You’re right. I stand corrected.

            He didn’t start accruing additional eligibility until he returned after the redemption round 10 ballots later.

  18. My initial ballot:

    1. Ted Williams (9.0 WAR/162 during 10-yr peak of 1939-51)
    2. Bob Feller (7.1 WAR/season during 7-yr peak of 1938-47)
    3. Kenny Lofton (6.8 WAR/162 during 1992-99)

    Ranking of others:
    4. Ryne Sandberg (6.2 WAR/162 during 1984-92)
    5. Pee Wee Reese (5.8 WAR/162 during 11-yr peak of 1942-55)
    6. Craig Biggio (5.8 WAR/162 during 1991-99)
    7. Kevin Brown (5.7 WAR/season during 1992-2000)
    8. Ralph Kiner (7.1 WAR/162 during 1947-52)
    9. Harmon Killebrew (5.3 WAR/162 during 1959-70)
    10. Minnie Miñoso (5.7 WAR/162 during 1951-59)
    11. Eddie Murray (5.7 WAR/162 during 1978-86)
    12. Roy Campanella (6.1 WAR/162 during 1949-55)
    13. Bobby Doerr (5.9 WAR/162 during 7-yr peak of 1942-49)
    14. Roberto Alomar (6.0 WAR/162 during 1996-2001)
    15. Dennis Eckersley (5.6 WAR/season during 1975-79)

  19. As a Red Sox fan, how could I NOT vote for:
    -Ted Williams

    To keep on the ballot:
    – Roy Campanella
    – Harmon Killebrew

  20. For the 1918 election, I’m voting for:
    -Ted Williams
    -Craig Biggio
    -Roberto Alomar

    Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):

  21. Snuffy.

    First two full seasons (war years0, led the league in

    triples, and

    Tragedy at the end:

    ” He died at age 39 in a train wreck when his train went off the CRRNJ Newark Bay Bridge between Elizabethport, NJ and Bayonne, New Jersey, killing many people. He was a foreign freight agent at the time. He had six children, the youngest only 17 months old.

    Two explanations are given for the nickname “Snuffy”. First, it is said he had a football injury that affected his breathing. Second, he had sinus problems that he treated with snuff. “

    • Outside of those 2 epic seasons, Stirnweiss fits quite nicely in the long string of light hitting/good fielding second basemen that the Yankees employed for the next 30 plus years, spelled occasionally by Gil McDougald on his journeys around the diamond who could both hit and field. For the most part you could take almost any season for Stirnweiss (post WW2), Jerry Coleman, Billy Martin, Bobby Richardson & Horace Clarke and swap it for one of the others on that list & not be able to tell it apart, except for perhaps Clarke’s stolen base totals.

      • McDougald’s offense suffered greatly from playing at Yankee Stadium. His home tOPS+ of 78 is by far the lowest of all players with 3000+ PA.

  22. I can’t see not voting for Ted Williams. If the race was close between Williams and Feller, I would vote only Williams to express a preference, but it’s not, so Feller’s my second choice. Sandberg brings up the rear. Several players are going to lose a round this time because of the paucity of “neither of the above” votes, but that’s the way the system works.

  23. @98;

    Since no one commented, I assume all of you agree with all of my all-time Top-10 ranking of position players, ha ha ha. Actually, I’m pretty sure that NO ONE would agree with all of my rankings, so I’m rather surprised that it has been posted here for over a week with no comments.

    For those of you who do not wish to scroll up to #98, here’s the list:

    1) Babe RUTH
    2) Willie MAYS
    3) Honus WAGNER
    4) Barry BONDS
    5) Ty COBB
    6) Hank AARON

    7) Ted WILLIAMS

    8) Tris SPEAKER
    9) Stan MUSIAL
    10 Eddie COLLINS

      • @164/RC;

        Well, Richard, the folks voting for BR’s Fan EloRater certainly agree with you:

        1 Babe Ruth
        2 Lou Gehrig
        3 Ted Williams
        4 Honus Wagner
        5 Willie Mays
        6 Stan Musial
        7 Ty Cobb
        8 Rogers Hornsby
        9 Nap Lajoie
        10 Mickey Mantle

        11 Jimmie Foxx
        12 Joe DiMaggio
        13 Tris Speaker
        14 Hank Aaron
        15 Mel Ott
        16 Frank Robinson
        17 Charlie Gehringer
        18 Rickey Henderson
        19 Eddie Collins
        20 Eddie Mathews

        Everyone mentioned in this discussion is also on this list, except for Barry Bonds, for obvious (PEDS) reasons. The Fan EloRater has well-discussed drawbacks, so make of this Top-20 what you will.

    • The one big difference between your top 10 and the top 10 position players at Adam Darowski’s Hall of Stats is Rogers Hornsby.

      The Hall of Stats has Hornsby in the top 10 instead of Collins (who the HoS ranks 11th).

      It also has Hornsby in the top 6, instead of Wagner (who is ranked 7th in the HoS).

      • Consider this six-year period in the NL, 1920-1925. Hornsby led the National League in all four slash-line categories and OPS+, every single year. That’s a 6 x 5 block of black ink, unmatched by anyone in baseball history.

        • On the other hand, maybe Eddie Collins should get some credit for signing Ted Williams for the Red Sox. The story is Collins, Boston’s GM, was on a scouting trip to look at the 18-year-old Bobby Doerr, playing for the San Diego Padres, when he also saw the 17-year-old Ted.

    • Minus the choice of two Negro League players, Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson, and one pitcher, Walter J, the NBJHBA lists these as the top ten position players:

      1. Ruth
      2. Wagner
      3. Mays
      4. Cobb
      5. Mantle
      6. Williams
      7. Musial
      8. Speaker
      9. Aaron
      10. DiMaggio

      with Gehrig at 11, Joe Morgan at 12, Barry Bonds at 13, Eddie Collins at 15. Hornsby is at 17 behind Mike Schmidt. I wonder if James agrees with those rankings 13 years later. He admits that he is alone in putting Mantle so high.

      For myself, the problem with having Barry Bonds on the list at all is the uncertainty factor, which has been discussed here to the point of exhaustion, about how much of his later performance is Bonds and how much is pharmaceuticals. Further, I wonder at the lack of names other than Bonds’ from the last forty years when, according to the going wisdom, players have been so much bigger, faster, and stronger that many argue that Ruth, Cobb, et al would be journeymen at best if they could make the bigs at all. Or is it that these later times have become so pitcher dominated that position players cast much smaller shadows than they used to?

      • @174/nsb;

        Yes, I had the NBJHBA list in the back of my mind when I did #98, though I didn’t look at it directly until after posting my list here.

        Of course, Bonds hadn’t had his fantastic 2001-2004 stretch when James put together the list in #174. As for the Barry Bonds/PEDS issue, as much as it pains me, I take his numbers at face value, since to decrease his performance by a set % would be purely arbitrary, and to dismiss him altogether would be to throw a metaphorical log on the fire of the vastly overblown “how to evaluate suspected PED users?” brouhaha, which I have _no_ interest in resurrecting here.

        As for ‘time-lining’ players or decreasing the value of players from the distant past, I firmly believe that players in any sport can only be fairly evaluated as to how dominant they were in their own time against their contemporaries. While the talent level of the average MLB player is certainly greater now than a century ago, I believe the greatest players then would also be great now. Otherwise, by that reasoning, in 50 or so years, we’ll see people wondering what the big deal was about these Mays and Aaron and Mantle guys…

        Of course, some players took advantage of unique situations that cannot be duplicated now. For instance, Ed Walsh’s main pitch was the spitball, which was outlawed in 1920. Ross Barnes took advantage of the fair-foul hit rule, which was changed in 1877. This debate will never end, nor should it.

        Mays vs. Mantle?
        Ruth vs. Ted Williams?
        Kaline vs. Clemente?
        Clemens vs. Maddux?
        Coke vs. New Coke? (well, that one is easy: ‘New Coke’ was a disaster…)

        • Well now, New Coke often beat out regular Coke in taste tests; the flavour of the thing wasn’t necessarily the issue. But I fear we’re getting off topic…

      • There’s no question in my mind that Cobb, Ruth etc. would still be stars and probably HOFers, maybe inner circle greats if they played today in the sense of someone with their DNA being born today to a family where they would be introduced to baseball at an appropriate age and have a desire to play.

        If you literally time traveled the adult Cobb or Ruth in the middle of their prime into a modern MLB game, it would not surprise me if they were pretty good (after a reasonable time to get used to the changes), but it would also not surprise me if they were scrubs who couldn’t stick in the show. It would surprise me *a lot* if they were as good as today’s stars and future hall of famers.

        But note, the reason for a lack of names from recent years is directly *because* of the weaker standard of play in the 1900s and 1920s/30s. We are judging these guys all by how they did relative to replacement and average players of their time. And what many of us believe is that today’s replacement players would all be stars on teams before late pre-integration times, if you could teleport them back in time from today, and probably be well above average on other terms, assuming they made it through the gauntlet of disease and pollution, and lack of good training that few have to face today.

        The stats we’re looking at to say Babe Ruth was so much better than pretty much everybody and Cobb/Speaker and Wagner were better than everybody but maybe Mays and Bonds is all relative to replacement level. But the replacement level for guys playing now is worlds better than replacement level in the 1920s So the best players were demolishing replacement players in what they produced.

        Look at any league — when the league is better, the difference between top and bottom teams/players is smaller. The difference between the best and worst pro football teams is *tiny* compared to the difference between the best and worst div 1 college teams. Same with basketball.

        Or how about women’s college basketball vs. men’s college basketball. You can tell how low the overall quality of the women’s game is in comparison by how dominant the top few teams are year after year.

        Well you can use the analogy to see that the fact that the best players on yesteryear were *so* dominant compared to the stars of today, probably says more about the quality of the last players who made the team, than the quality of the stars. In every sport where the rules stay the same, records eventually get broken. It’s only the transcendent superstars who can keep a record for many years, and even they eventually get passed and to a point where ever serious competitor does as well as they did.

    • @164, 167, 169;

      Thanks, this was the response that I was looking for.

      @164/RC – leaving Gehrig out of the Top-10 was probably the toughest omission, along with Hornsby. But, as I said above in #98, I prefer the all-around players:
      “I know what WAR says; this is based on more than WAR. In the case of near-equivalent value, I’ll go for the all-around players over the hitting-only (Williams) guys”.

      Eddie Collins I chose over Gehrig and Hornsby because of that. Yes, I know that Hornsby was a second baseman too and a pretty good at times, but Collins was outstanding defensively, plus he was a great base runner and base stealer, and was great both in the dead ball AND live ball eras. None of this is set in stone for me though.

      I would put Speaker over Gehrig for the same reason; while Gehrig was a couple notches better as a hitter, Speaker has a _HUGE_ advantage defensively; while Gehrig was decent at first, Speaker was a great, great defensive centerfielder, perhaps the best-ever.

      Also remember that Speaker doesn’t get his full due on defensive WAR value, as when you go back to the deadball era, defensive WAR value is regressed quite a bit, since not all the stats are available, and some of the results have to be estimated.

      Anyway, this is just a fun exercise that will hopefully produce some interesting discussions. My work is done here :).

    • Lawrence:
      A mere single ballplayer who played after the Ford administration? Yeah, why not – after all, it’s your list :-) And, five guys who played in the segregated major leagues their entire careers…..
      I see no Mantle on your list, nor a Bench, Berra, Morgan, Schmidt, or Ripken. In his BJHBA Bill James made the argument for Negro League players in his rankings (Gibson, Lloyd, Bell, Leonard, Paige, etc..) based on a ratio of successful ML’ers like Aaron, Mays, and Robinson once baseball integrated. Perhaps a similar concept of ratios could be employed to figure out what percentage of current or recent players might belong in an all-time Top 10?

      • @179/Paul E;

        I’m not sure that the very greatest of anything is distributed evenly over a particular time period considered. It might be possible that there _were_ no Top-10 MLB players between Mays/ Aaron and Barry Bonds.

        As for the other players you mentioned:
        Bench/Berra – catchers, by the very nature of the demands of catching, don’t have esp. long careers. I couldn’t put Bench in the Top-30, Berra in the Top-40.

        Morgan/ Schmidt – probably in the Top-15, certainly in the Top-20, but behind Mantle

        Ripken – underrated defensively, but just not enough bat/too many ordinary hitting years to get him into the Top-20 (kind of like Yaz)

        OK, I’ve done enough yakking/defense of my initial list – let’s see someone _ELSE’s_ list, so I can take it apart, ha ha ha


        11 – Mickey MANTLE
        12 – Alex RODRIGUEZ
        13 – Lou GEHRIG
        14 – Mike SCHMIDT
        15 – Joe MORGAN
        16 – Rogers HORNSBY
        17 – Rickey HENDERSON
        18 – Joe DIMAGGIO
        19 – Frank ROBINSON
        20 – Albert PUJOLS

        • LA:

          I’m thinking the stealth candidate for the top ten is Henderson. He was around for so long and played for so many teams that he kind of gets taken for granted. But did he ever puts the runs on the board.

        • I wondered when ARod was finally going to turn up in this discussion. I don’t know how much moving from short to third cost him in terms of WAR or even how much it would have mattered because of his subsequent injuries but certainly prior to his PED scandals he looked to be a likely eventual member of the top 10.

        • And another issue, what’s the “template”. James used best 3 seasons, best 5 consecutive seasons, and career “Win Shares”. And I believe that was also the order of importance/weight. Except, of course, when he threw all objectivity out the window and suggested some of his KC favorites were the superior of some of THEIR superiors. :-(

          If you ask me, it sure appears Mantle was more “talented/gifted” than Ted Williams. As was, say, Dick Allen than Billy Williams, Stargell, or McCovey. But, everybody loves lists. “Who were the most gifted athletes to play baseball at the ML level” is, obviously, a totally different list.

          Then, of course, is the issue of comparing eras. PFI on that one

        • I know he tipped a few, and played a pedestrian first base, but no love for XX in the group? He ranks tantalizingly close at 21st for position players (Bonds included)and put up an AL War rankings like this against fairly stiff HOF competition
          1929 AL 7.5 (2nd)
          1930 AL 6.5 (5th)
          1932 AL 10.0 (1st)
          1933 AL 9.2 (1st)
          1934 AL 8.3 (2nd)
          1935 AL 8.0 (1st)
          1936 AL 6.1 (5th)
          1938 AL 8.1 (1st)
          1939 AL 7.0 (2nd)
          1940 AL 5.2 (5th)

      • I always think about it in two contexts:
        1) There’s the context of career achievement. Through just cause or folly, a career was what it was and can be looked at for what happened fairly quantitatively.
        2) Talent. Specifically talent as best highlighted at the players absolute peak. Just how good did they get? If you could hold them there forever, how would they rank?

        So for me, I see the production of Ruth as the definition of 1 and the talent of Mantle as basically the full measure of category 2. Neither are exclusive. You can’t judge talent without results and you can’t produce without the elite talent. Still, there are examples of people who produced without talent or showed amazing talent without much production. Biggio was not an extremely talented guy, neither was Boggs. On the other side, there were plenty of one hit wonders, like the year Rico Petrocelli could hit, but instead I’d point to extreme talent that shouldn’t have been as fleeting as it was. Guys like Al Rosen or even Heilmann and Koufax who just weren’t around as long as they should have been.

        Gehrig’s problems were he played first and his unique durability was cut off abruptly before it’s time but it’s hard to argue over a Koufaxian-type peak, he wasn’t the best first basemen ever by a very long distance. That’s at first, so you expect him to outhit the field, but he also kind of did. I think he was every bit the hitter that “best hitter ever” Williams was (which I say posh to, I’d still take Ruth bat alone). 4 guys in history with 100+ RBAT. Williams did it only once, as did Gehrig. Barry roided 3 of em, Ruth did it a staggering 5 times. Rajah got close but nobody else really achieved that level of success with the bat.

        I have Gehrig above a lot of outfielders like Speaker and Aaron. I have a hard time saying he was inferior to Williams. Fenway is very forgiving to left fielders (so WTF Jim Rice). Williams has the advantage of producing at a stratospheric level as late as 1957, well into an integrated and extremely competitive league. That year makes Williams pretty high on my list since it’s kid of the last hurrah. I guess I go:


        Speaker’s defense would be missed, I’ll have to suffer with the defense 789 of Bonds, Mays, and Aaron. I put Cobb as low as 10th because I don’t think he would succeed in the modern game bunting and slap hitting, nor do I think he’d particularly like high heat. Certainly a legend in terms of hand/eye coordination I’m sure he’d adapt but power was not his game.

        • Oh, and since early Bonds one of my absolute favorite subjects to rant on, can we talk about the absurdity of his ’92 and ’93 seasons? Who hit like that between the 40s and the 90s? Almost nobody
          -Williams in the aformentioned ’57
          -Mantle in ’56, ’57, and ’61
          -Norm Cash in ’61
          -McCovey in ’69

          That’s how we should view Bond’s 1992 and 1993. He hit like mantle. He would win his third and fourth gold glove those years, and was still averaging 30+ steals a year. Either you think he was roiding since then or you accept that pre-roids, he matched legends in a way that we had not seen in a very long time. As you go further into the 90s you see bigger bats show up again and Barry clearly changed into a different kind of freak we need to remind ourselves of those seasons. Barry Bonds of that early 90s vintage was a hall of fame inner circle legend long before 2000.

        • @189/mosc;

          Ty Cobb DID have a lot of power for his era.

          But first – THANKS much for being the only other person here to post a Top-10 list. It’s quite reasonable, though I’d put Gehrig and (especially) Hornsby somewhat lower.

          As for Cobb – yes, I know that the common image of Cobb is as a scientific ‘slap’ hitter, a punch-and-Judy type. But he was also a big strong guy (6′ 1″, 190 lb) who could hit the ball a long, long way if he wanted to. Yes, he’d place-hit, but he would sometimes swing as hard as he could holding the bat at the end if he saw a fat pitch he really liked.

          For his time, he was one of the leading power hitters of the Dead Ball Era, maybe the best. Year after tear after year he ranked at or near the top in almost all the power categories, such as extra base hits and slugging average.

          This is for the years 1907-1919, his first 13 complete seasons:

          EXTRA BASE HITS: in the Top-10 11 times, first 3 times
          TOTAL BASES: in the Top-10 12 times, first 6 times

          SLUGGING: in the Top-10 13 times, first 8 times
          RBI: in the Top-10 9 times, first 4 times

          DOUBLES: in the Top-10 10 times, first 3 times
          TRIPLES: in the Top-10 11 times, first 4 times
          HOME RUNS: in the Top-10 10 times, first one time

          Several other DBE players had impressive records in these categories (Honus Wagner, Sam Crawford, Joe Jackson), but I think that Cobb was as good a power hitter as any one of that era.

        • mosc, I agree with you: Bill James was dead wrong when he predicted that advanced metrics would favor Ted Williams over Babe Ruth as an offensive force. I’ve looked at it, and even if you give Williams career-high numbers for every one of his lost wartime years, his OPS+ would still be shy of Ruth’s 206 mark. And the baserunning is a wash.

          I’ll disagree, though, about Gehrig being head-and-shoulders above every first baseman that’s ever swung a bat. I think Albert Pujols’ 95 WAR (in modern times) could be considered relatively comparable to Gehrig’s 112 from a time when the true greats of the game dominated their peers to a larger extent than today. I think Pujols deserves at least a mention here. Cheers to LA for penciling Albert into his top 20.

          • I was looking into Ruth vs. Williams a bit too, trying to give Williams more stats for lost years (I think he could have topped 100 Rbat in one of those missing seasons, maybe more), looking at parks and run scoring environments in detail (Williams has the better park, Ruth the better run scoring environments) and I came to the following conclusion:

            Ruth’s .690 career slugging percentage pretty much sets him apart. Ruth had 1000 more PAs than Williams, but those extra 200 HRs provide a huge boost. It’s really, really difficult to overcome a 54 point advantage in SLG, even with Williams’ 8 point OBP advantage.

            Trying to get away from the Ruth-Williams debate to make things clearer, Jim Thome had a .554 SLG and a .402 OBP. It’s almost like asking “Purely as a hitter, would you rather have Thome or the best combination of Ryan Klesko (.500 SLG) and Eddie Stanky (.410 OBP)?” Even going with ratios rather than absolute differences that would be a player with a .509 SLG (Fred McGriff) and a .409 OBP (Harry Heilmann). You gotta take Thome (as a hitter), and that’s what Williams is up against with Ruth. And Williams is really the only one who makes it that close, because even when looking at Gehrig his SLG is about the same distance away from Ruth as Williams’ is but his OBP is 25 points below the Babe’s.

            Now if the SLG was closer, something like a Thome/Bagwell comparison, one might give up 14 points in SLG (.554 to .540, advantage Thome) for 6 points in OBP (.408 to .402, advantage Bagwell) and take the guy with the .948 OPS over the guy with the .956 OPS. Bagwell does have more Rbat than Thome (591 to 587) despite 1000 less PAs, though removing some of Thome’s negative Rbat seasons would get him ahead of Bagwell (though not by much and still with more PAs).

          • bstar:
            If you gave Albert HGH right now, he would absolutely hit another 200 homers. As is, he is currently on pace for ~ 310 total bases. That number would rank 11th for the period 1901 – 1993 (pre-roids/further expansion/?juiced ball?) for 34 year olds.

            He is probably the superior of Jimmie Foxx, Greenberg, Bagwell, McGwire, McCovey, Murray, etc… Gehrig? Probably, but how do you compare the eras? Plus, you’ve got the whole sacrosanct Iron Horse thing going on – How dare you go there!

          • Artie, it sucks but you got to stay away from slugging without neutralization. RBAT is at least factoring in ballparks. Fenway has always been a hitter’s paradise. The babe played his fair share there too lets not forget but the house that Ruth built still wasn’t yet, well, built through some of Ruth’s career. I don’t think it’s an accident his OBP shot up to .545 the year it opened for his age 28 season.

            I also would point out that Ruth being a successful pitcher does not discount the bat he had on the bench during those years. In a way, that’s similar to the war years with Williams. Understandably, the years of career missed are different and the circumstances are different but I think there are what if’s on both sides, not just Williams. I also would not discount absolute peak. You want to know honestly which one had the best week, the best month, the best season, the best 3 seasons, etc. I would factor all of that in with the title “best hitter ever”. To me, it’s not really a long career type achievement. You want to see that the level of performance was no fluke and he could do it year in and year out but you also don’t really care if he could only do it in his 20s and not in his 40s. I’d also say OBP isn’t a Williams advantage over Ruth. Ruth had 5 seasons with an OBP over .500. Ruth played hurt, or disgruntled, or after/during pitching more than Williams did and thus appears more streaky which drags down his career averages. At their peaks, there was quite a bit of space between them. Maybe you say Williams missed his peak entirely due to WWII but I think that’s a stretch. It’s possible Ruth missed his peak by trying to be a starting pitcher in his early 20s.

            Ruth honestly is out of William’s league. My point of comparison, and why I rank him so highly, is that he is very comparable with Gehrig. Williams hit .400 but Gehrig broke .370 and .360 more times than Williams did over their careers. The overall batting line is very similar, Williams was a little better at taking the walk. That might be partially explained though by Gehrig mostly being Ruth’s protection for the majority of his career (only played 4 full seasons without Ruth). Gehrig also hit later in the lineup costing him some at bats.

            Going back to RBAT, it’s hard to even find a window that favors Williams. Single season? Gehrig 103 to 101. Best 3 years? Gehrig 291 to 275. Best 3 years in a row? Gehrig 255 to 242. Longer stretches in a row look even uglier mostly due to the Iron Horse’s consistency vs Williams war service. Ages 24 to 34 over 11 seasons, the Iron Horse AVERAGED 80 RBAT. There aren’t even 11 guys who have reached that in a single season! Left field isn’t first but you aren’t going to get much closer. For what it’s worth, DWAR says Gehrig was the better fielder adjusted for position.

            The difference to me is quite small and all relates to that 1957 season. Williams returned to a level only a handful of guys have ever reached and did so in the twilight of his career against perhaps the peak era of baseball talent (1950-1970). Toss that out, I’d actually take Gehrig over Williams.

          • On Albert, I think the cardinals cost us a top ten all time great when they stuck him at first base. Puhols should have been a third basemen. His arm, his glove, and during his 20s his range were all above average to profile him at the hot corner. In his Angels decade, I’m sure he’ll be better at first than he would be at third but the Cardinals should have let him flash some leather.

            I don’t think Puhols is the same level of bat that we saw in Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, nor did he have great speed to go along with his bat like Bonds, Mantle, or Mays. I think Puhols is the second best first basemen ever and was a far better defender than Gehrig. Far better than needed at first base. Plop him at third through his 20s and you turn a first ballot hall of famer into a top ten hall of famer.

            Puhols had a much better bat than Schmidt and although I don’t think he would have been that level of third basemen defensively I think he could have been above average, enough where the bat would have made him the best third basemen ever.

            In conclusion: I hate Scott Rolen for denying us the best third basemen of all time. So what if he won 4 gold gloves there for the cardinals during those years and was arguably the best ever defensively at the hot corner. Puhols’s career WAR suffered mightily.

          • @200/ Artie Z;

            Agreed; Ruth’s large advantage in SLG more than makes up for Ted William’s advantage in OBA. I ran both of them through B-R’s neutralizer, and while Ted gains a couple points in OBA, Ruth maintains his dominance in SLG.

            @203/ the fallacy of using nice big round numbers as points of comparison:

            While Ruth beats Ted Williams in seasons of .500+ OBP, five to two, Williams has _four_ seasons of OBA from .497 to .499, plus a season of .490. So if we use a .490 OBP as the standard, instead of a .500 OBP, Ruth and Williams are tied at seven each.

            Which leads as – where? Ruth and Williams were in a class by themselves in getting on base, and in combining that with power – but I think we all knew that.

          • Artie @200: that’s exactly right about the SLG setting Ruth apart. Here’s their career OPS+ marks broken into the OBP and SLG components:

            TWilliams OPS+: 100 + 35 (OBP) + 55 (SLG) = 190 OPS+
            Babe Ruth OPS+: 100 + 34 (OBP) + 72 (SLG) = 206 OPS+

            Ted was 35% better than a league average player at OBP in his exact ballparks and era, but Ruth basically matched that at 34% (I think this is what tripped BJames up.)

            It’s the 17 point advantage in SLG (72% to 55%) that basically IS the difference between the two in OPS+.

            I didn’t use total Rbat because of Ted’s missed years. wRC+ from FGraphs (instead of OPS+) does suggest a closer gap between the two—197 to 188 for Ruth. wRC+ would have to be considered more accurate.

          • mosc @204: Let’s see what Albert at third exclusively in his 20’s would have had to produce to equal his defensive production mainly at first.

            From age 21 to 29, Pujols was +35 runs defensively [+106 fielding runs + (-71) pos. runs].

            Using Adrian Beltre as a template, we see he had +22 positional runs almost exclusively at third from 2001-2009, in 5474 PA. Prorating that to Albert’s 6000+ PAs in the same time period, that would be +24 positional runs for Pujols had he manned the hot corner in his 20’s.

            So, to match his defensive output at first, Albert would have had to have been +11 (35 – 24) fielding runs to be +35 runs defensively at third in his 20’s.

            I suppose that’s possible, but please consider that Albert’s range, which was exceptional for a first baseman, may have only been, at best, average when compared to the range of all third basemen. That’s really what the positional adjustment is doing; it’s correcting for the differing skill levels of pools of defenders to get everyone on an even baseline.

            But you’re going much, much further than that in suggesting Pujols would be a top-10 great simply by changing positions. My suspicion is you’re making the same mistake again, assuming that Albert would have been +105 fielding runs at third since he had that many at first. That’s extremely unlikely, given the fact that at third he’s being compared to fielders with better range than the pool of first basemen.

            I ask you this: why did the Cardinals acquire Scott Rolen in 2002 if they thought Albert could be a well-above average third baseman defensively?

            What’s more, Albert towered over the field of other first basemen in the 2000s as far as fielding runs go. If Pujols was the best defender at his position for a decade, doesn’t this strongly suggest that Albert was optimally leveraged defensively at first?

          • mosc: If we aren’t going to look at the different bits and pieces in detail, why even bother with anything except looking at OPS+ (which shows Ruth’s advantage over Williams)?

            The park factors for Fenway, 1939-1960:

            104, 104, 102, 104, 102x, 99x, 102x, 106, 107, 105, 108, 110, 110, 107x, 104x, 111, 109, 112, 106, 106, 104, 103

            The years with x’s are the years that Williams didn’t play at all (or very much) due to military service

            For Yankee Stadium, 1920-1934

            104, 102, 102, 102, 100, 98, 99, 98, 98, 94, 96, 95, 95, 94, 94

            AL run scoring 1939-1960:

            5.21, 4.97, 4.74, 4.26, 3.89x, 4.09x, 3.90x, 4.06, 4.14, 4.72, 4.67, 5.04, 4.63, 4.18x, 4.46x, 4.19, 4.44, 4.66, 4.23, 4.17, 4.36, 4.39

            AL run scoring 1920-1934:

            4.76, 5.11, 4.74, 4.78, 4.97, 5.19, 4.73, 4.92, 4.77, 5.01, 5.41, 5.14, 5.23, 5.00, 5.13

            The lowest run scoring environment for Ruth was 4.73 – Williams caught the tail end of that 1930s stretch at the beginning of his career, and there were a few other years in the late 1940s-early 1950s that were in the 4.6-4.7 range (with one topping 5 runs), but he also had 4.19, 4.17, and 4.23. I don’t know if it is a perfect wash with the park effects, but it’s pretty darn close, which is why I used raw numbers.

            While I was doing a Ruth/Williams comparison (which I don’t think is close – I choose Ruth hands down), it basically works for Gehrig as well. Williams had the better parks, Ruth/Gehrig had the better overall run scoring environments (the AL from 1935-1938 had 5.09, 5.67, 5.23, and 5.37, and Yankee Stadium actually popped up to 100 and 102 in park factor Gehrig’s last two full years). It’s probably even more of a wash for Gehrig/Williams when looking at park factors and run scoring environments.

            On the other thread there are some who want to give Monte Irvin and Larry Doby and Minoso 70 WAR based on what they might have done. Ted Williams at age 23 put up 87 Rbat. He missed 3 years of baseball, and came back and put up another 87 Rbat. He had 56 Rbat at age 32, then basically missed another 2 years of baseball, and put up 61 at age 35. What do you want for consistency? Over the 11 year span from 1941-1951 Williams averaged 75.25 Rbat in the 8 seasons he played, and he didn’t even play a full season one year due to injury (I won’t count that as a benefit to him – he missed time due to injury, he deals with it).

            Here’s how I think Williams beats Gehrig. Starting with their age 22 seasons (because Gehrig didn’t really play at ages 20-21), and chopping out Gehrig’s age 24-26 seasons (because Williams missed those seasons), and then going through their age 35 seasons (because Gehrig was done at age 36), Gehrig leads Williams 729 Rbat to 689. But that also includes Williams’ Korea years – Williams had a grand total of 132 PAs in those 2 years (and had 23 Rbat). All he needs to do is put up 40 Rbat in the 800 or so PAs he would have had at a minimum … and he did that every season he wasn’t in a war (not every 800 PAs, every season) except 1950 (when he put up 37 in 89 games), 1959 (when he was age 40 and had, by far, his worst year), and 1960 (when he put up 38 at age 41 in 113 games). It’s a little unfair to Gehrig in that he had his big monster year (103 Rbat) at age 24 and thus it gets cut, but it does compare them at the same ages when Williams was in the league, though I’d argue it’s a little unfair to Williams that he had to miss his age 24-26 seasons and most of his age 33-34 seasons through no fault of his own.

            Over their careers, which were both very long (as of today Gehrig is still 103rd all-time in PAs, even though it seems like his career was cut short) but had different shapes due to circumstances (Gehrig never missing a game, Williams going to war), Gehrig had 60.29 Rbat per 600 PAs. That’s a phenomenal number (Bonds is around 53, Foxx is around 47, Cobb around 45). But Williams had 65.53 in a longer career. Ruth is in a different league around 75 (including time as a pitcher).

            Other than Gehrig having the uninterrupted run of seasons, I can’t see how he rates ahead of Williams. And I won’t fault Williams for his career interruptions (it’s not like he was injured all the time, or in rehab for a substance problem, or suspended for a substance problem). I have him as number 2, Gehrig as number 3. But that’s my reading – it’s close, possibly closer than I thought. But Ruth, Williams, and Gehrig are the only players with PAs less than 10*Rbat in 3000+ PAs. Forget 10*Rbat – they are the only ones with PAs less than 11 times Rbat (going up to 12 brings in Bonds, Hornsby, and Brouthers).

  24. I know two guys I’m voting for easily
    1) Ted Williams, I always vote for the best
    2) Campanella. I think he’s as good as any catcher ever and he’s in danger of not even lasting the round!

    The final spot is a mess for me. I would like to see Eck get in but other than him and campy, I don’t like the bubble crowd. There are plenty of first basemen who will get in, and lots of guys who played first for good chunks of their career. Of our guys not on the bubble I think Ford was best but nowhere near as good as Feller or Reese. Neither Feller or Reese will be on the bubble ever, they just need to get a round without an obvious choice so I really don’t want to support them until I have to so I’m down to Eck or Ford. I feel like voting for Ford here is useless but it seems to be what I do:

    Williams, Campanella, Ford

    • Well, Reese will be on the bubble after this round unless he gets a late flurry of votes to push him over 25%. But I agree that he’s not likely to remain there for very long…

  25. After topping 70 ballots just once between our 14th round and our 59th we have now topped that number 4 times in the last 7 elections and the 74 ballots this round are the most since the 13th.

    Perhaps it’s time once again to say thank you to birtelcom for coming up with this idea in the first place and for overseeing this process since it all began way back on December 9th, 2012.

    Well done and I’m looking forward to many, many more interesting discussions and elections.

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