Circle of Greats 1974 Part 3 Runoff – Allen/Brown/Lyons/Ramirez

We need a quick runoff vote to resolve the tie at the top in the 1974 part 3 voting. Voting closes next Wednesday night, so vote early. More after the jump.

This is our first 4-way runoff, but it’s the second runoff in as many years for Manny Ramirez, after losing to Mordecai Brown in last year’s COG elections. Here are the career stats for our four candidates.

Player WAR OPS+ G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
Manny Ramirez 69.4 154 2302 9774 8244 1544 2574 547 20 555 1831 1329 1813 38 .312 .411 .585 .996 79D/H CLE-BOS-LAD-CHW-TBR
Dick Allen 58.7 156 1749 7315 6332 1099 1848 320 79 351 1119 894 1556 133 .292 .378 .534 .912 357/H46D8 STL-LAD-CHW-PHI-OAK
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/28/2019.
 
Player WAR G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV IP BB SO ERA FIP ERA+ WHIP K% BB% BF Tm
Kevin Brown 68.4 486 476 72 17 1 211 144 .594 0 3256.1 901 2397 3.28 3.33 127 1.222 17.7% 6.7% 13542 TEX-BAL-FLA-SDP-LAD-NYY
Ted Lyons 67.6 594 484 356 27 91 260 230 .531 25 4161.0 1121 1073 3.67 4.01 118 1.348 6.0% 6.3% 17797 CHW
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/28/2019.

 

Our candidates’ top 50 career rankings (5000 PA or 2500 IP) in the live ball era look like this.

  • Ramirez: BA 47th, OBP 19th, SLG 9th, OPS 8th, OPS+ 19th, HR 15th, XBH 15th, RBI 17th, Runs 30th
  • Allen: SLG 40th, OPS 43rd, OPS+ 14th
  • Brown: WAR 21st, WAA 16th, ERA 34th, FIP 31st, ERA+ 12th, WHIP 31st, GS 45th, SO 43rd, K% 26th, Losses 42nd, W-L% 30th
  • Lyons:  WAR 24th, WAA 46th, ERA+ 40th, BB% 37th, IP 19th, BF 18th, GS 38th, CG 2nd, CG% 1st, Wins 24th

So, the choice is yours. However you decide, your ballot in this runoff round, unlike the usual three-name ballot, should identify only the one candidate you prefer (you will also need to add at least a little bit of extra verbiage though, because the WordPress engine that supports the site won’t accept comments of only one or two words).

All votes must be in by 11:59PM EST on Wednesday night, March 6th, with vote changes allowed until 11:59PM EST on Monday night, March 4th. If the result of this runoff is still a tie, a tie-breaker process will be followed to discard the last votes cast until a winner is determined. So, vote early to ensure your vote counts! If you would like to keep track of the vote tally for the runoff, you can check this tally spreadsheet: COG 1974 Part 3 Runoff Vote Tally.

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112 Comments on "Circle of Greats 1974 Part 3 Runoff – Allen/Brown/Lyons/Ramirez"

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oneblankspace
Guest

Ted Lyons… one of three players to play 20+ years for the White Sox and no other teams.

Hub Kid
Guest
Wow- thanks all the late voters for making that really interesting. Doug has said it above – it’s our first four-way tie. Heck, it’s the first that’s more than a two-way tie. I’d be happy to see any of these four in the CoG: -Lyons- great (complete games, war service + still darn good into his 40s); -Brown (overshadowed by having to compete with a ridiculous amount of no doubt HoFers; PEDs) -Manny (great hitting talent, famously unreliable teammate although a big part of two World Series; PEDs) -Dick Allen (as good a hitter as Manny in a different era,… Read more »
Dave Humbert
Guest

Manny Ramirez….of the 4, most representative of the elite player in his time. Qualifies as great to me, and even with late career PED’s, his exploits make him part of baseball’s recent story. I believe he fits in the COG at this point. If this were just for the HOF (230+), any of these candidates would fit, but which one generated the most excitement and interest among fans in his day?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

To supplment Doug’s stat line:

pWAR (Tot bWAR)…Peak5..Top5…WAR/162IP…..ERA+…Career length
68.5 (68.3)……………37.0…..37.0….….3.4…………127……..1.0…………Kevin Brown
67.2 (71.6)……………24.2…..29.0……..2.9…………118……..1.3…………Ted Lyons

WAR(fWAR)…………Peak5…Top5…WAR/500PA….OPS+…Career length
58.7 (61.3)……….…..31.5……36.7…….4.0…….……156………1.0……….Dick Allen
69.2 (66.3)……………28.7……29.9…….3.6…….……154………1.3……….Manny Ramirez

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
A few comments on stats: Doug’s and the ones I just posted. On Allen and Ramirez, OPS+ seems particularly important, since Allen played in baseball’s second Dead Ball Era, while Ramirez played in its second hitting explosion. On Brown and Lyons, again, eras make a difference: Lyons pitched in a low-SO/high-CG era, Brown in the opposite. On Brown, his career has an unusual pattern: ages 23-29, ~1270 IP, ERA+ 108; ages 30-36, ~1500 IP, ERA+ 158. On Lyons, his career too has an unusual pattern: ages 24-31 ~1980 IP, ERA+ 121; ages 34-41 ~1460 IP, ERA+ 131. Both became more… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
This is unexpectedly difficult. I have a hard rule about known PED use that I’ve applied since the beginning. I’m not wowed by either Allen (too short a career) or Lyons (Allen was a victim, BTW–different era, MLB was not ready for his type of personality and could be more open about it). I have voted for Allen as part of a 3 man choice, but I have to think about whether he’s really a #1 when this election is strictly about that. But if I don’t vote, I’m giving a leg up to Brown and Manny–and I’m not really… Read more »
mosc
Guest
Oh man. I feel like I have to put 11:50 on my calendar for wednesday night. I guess I’m voting AGAINST people this round. In order of most opposed… Manny: Roids + fenway + offensive era = lots and lots of out of context numbers. Manny was a train-wreck defensively in other non-hitting related ways. Please don’t be blinded by gaudy hit, HR, and RBI numbers. His WAR is not nearly as good as you think it is. If you dock him at all for his blatant cheating (he was suspended multiple times), he’s not one of history’s finest. Brown:… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest

Mosc, just curious, when you say Manny’s WAR is “not nearly as good as you think it is,” what exactly do you mean? Are you skeptical of WAR in general, or is there something specific to Manny’s case that makes you say his particular WAR is off somehow?

mosc
Guest

I’m saying his triple slash line, his HR total, his hit total, and his OPS all lie more than usual due to era and fenway. Look at his WAR, or at least his OPS+. Even that you should look at in the context of steroids and a guy who’s peak value wasn’t has high as you think it was. Manny’s got 2 seasons above a 5.5 WAR. Two.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I’m voting for Lyons.

Although Allen entering the CoG would lower the bWAR threshold (for players without “bonus” consideration) beneath Killebrew’s standard, I think he is exceptional is other ways and ultimately belongs in the Circle.

Michael Sullivan
Guest

What bonus consideration did Sisler get? The “he was a big name in the 30s” bonus?

Dr. Doom
Guest

I think some people gave Sisler some special consideration for the sinus infection that caused him to miss ’23, the consequences of which changed his career drastically from that point forward (or so the story goes). I’m not sure that was the right thing to do, but there were some in the electorate at the time who felt that his case deserved special consideration.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Yeah, that’s the case, and it was very much a borderline call. However, without that special consideration it was clear he would not have made it in.

Michael Sullivan
Guest
I think it’s a bit prejudicial to be throwing up all those raw number placements for Allen and Ramirez, when one played a big chunk of his career in a context which was a LOT closer to the deadball era (including 2-3 years that were comparable to all but the most dead deadball years) than anything Ramirez (or Lyons or Brown) ever saw. Witness the massive difference between rankings in OPS — Ramirez 8th, Allen 43rd — vs. OPS+ — Allen 14th, Ramirez 19th. In terms of batting prowess in context, the *latter* number is what we should be looking… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
OK, everyone. You know that I’m voting for Kevin Brown. For anyone who’s been around here for years, it may well be the thing you MOST associate with me as a poster: Kevin Brown COG advocacy. (Second, I would guess that I’m the “WAR defender,” and third is probably my Brewers fandom.) I believe I’ve cast something like 10-15% of the votes Kevin Brown has ever received in this process. So you can guess that I’m pretty giddy for this: this is the closest Kevin Brown has come to election. I believe he’s now the #1 vote recipient in this… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I think I’ve become Doom’s particular adversary on Brown, but after reading this post all I want to say is that Brown’s candidacy is fortunate to have such an articulate advocate!

Mike L
Guest

Bob, I’m drafting behind you on Brown, letting you do the work. I just don’t see it unless you completely ignore PEDS. And even with that, it’s not that he’s a stand out amongst pitchers. 48th SP according to JAWS. Very good. Lyons, without the juice, is 50th.

mosc
Guest

He was regarded by many as a jerk, wasn’t he? I understand your statistical argument but not your passion for his character.

Michael Sullivan
Guest
Interesting, modulo a couple of disagreements we seem to have very similar views, Doom. Both relative hard saber/math, and seem to have a similar era focus, even though I think you’re a good 15 years younger. But then I all that big a baseball fan in my teens, much more focused on roundball. I got more interested in my 30s after playing softball. In any case, you’ve actually turned me around a bit on peak vs. longevity, but… Stop maligning Lou Whitaker. He had 10 years over 4 WAR, and 2 over 6 WAR. 4 WAR is a LOT. The… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Thanks for the thoughtful responses so far, electorate. Let me respond: 1. Bob: Thank you! 2. Mike L.: I do, generally ignore PEDs. But you point out that he’s 48th in JAWS. True… but misleading. First of all, there are 39 pitchers in the COG, so that seems like he’d be out. However, your analysis omits that, of the 47 in front of Brown: A.) 14 are ineligible, 19th-century players; B.) one is the still-active Clayton Kershaw; C.) another is the retired-but-yet-to-be-eligible Roy Halladay; and D.) literally every other player in front of him is ALREADY IN THE COG. Therefore,… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Doom, thanks for the very closely reasoned response, as well as the research. Your point about JAWS is a good one, but it actually makes me want to for Lyon because he was 50, separated from Brown by Greinke (who could go either way) and Lyons wasn’t a PED user. So, assuming I could modify my aversion to PED users sufficiently to consider them with a discount, I’d have Lyons ahead of Brown.
Which, I may do now that you’ve made such a compelling argument (in that area) for Brown. Still making up my mind.

Dr. Doom
Guest
You’re welcome, Mike! I understand that Brown and Lyons were separated only by an active player, and therefore (for our purposes) right next to one another. The only point I would make in separating them would be the one that Doug makes: the WAA difference. Here are their WAR, WAR7, and WAA numbers: Player……..WAR……WAR7….WAA Lyons……..71.5…….41.2……..28.1 Brown…….68.0…….45.2……..40.4 So Lyons has more career WAR, though not by very much in a longer career. And his top seven years are quite good; nearly as good as Brown’s, though definitely worse. But the really disturbing part for Lyons’ case is in the ratio of… Read more »
Michael Sullivan
Guest
Doom, the way I think about it is this: Let’s assume you’re getting a random sample from a given player’s overall peak years. By this I mean the years in which, barring injury, ex-ante, they were capable of, and would reasonably hope to produce seasons comparable to their career average. In the case of Whitaker, you get an outside shot at a 4-5 WAA season, but a damn near guaranteed 2 WAA season. In the case of Brown, you get a much better shot at a 4-5, 2 6 WAA seasons, but a much higher chance of a relative bust… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Just a couple points: 1. It’s definitely preferable for a player to have his best 2, 3, 5, 8, whatever, years consecutively, because it gives you a better chance to know when your window is. Luis Tiant, for example, has the knock against him that you really don’t know when you’re competitive. 2. In regard to higher peak vs. consistency, Bill James did a study a bunch of years ago (I can’t remember – might’ve been in the Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?/The Politics of Glory, but I can’t remember for sure) that a single great season drastically… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

I vote for Ted Lyons. I like pitchers who can complete games.

mosc
Guest

i feel like there’s some list of guys who pitched like they were in the previous era than they were. Lyons pitched like he was a guy from the 1910s or 1920s with complete games. I’d also point to Blyleven who pitched like he was a 1950s/1960s guy. Today maybe Verlander pitches like he’s a 1980s/1990s guy. They have their own charm for that alone.

Doug
Guest

If Lyons pitched like he was a guy from the 1920s, maybe it’s because he was a guy from the 1920s? 🙂

Paul E
Guest

VOTE:
Dick Allen.

ADHD moment:
Does anybody else wish that Bryce Harper would have signed with the Rockies and broke Bonds’ single season and career home run marks during the course of a 13 year deal? He has 184 career homers and would only need 44 HR/season…….

Mike L
Guest

Intriguing idea, Paul. I’ll say one other thing about Harper. But for that one insane year, and the hype coming out of school, Harper doesn’t look that extraordinary. The irony is that he could end up looking more like Norm Cash than Barry Bonds.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Harper is an exceptionally well marketed product.

Doug
Guest

To your point, among players with 1000 PA over the past three seasons, 47 recorded more oWAR per PA than Harper.

Doug
Guest
I think Brown and Ramirez have a leg up on the other candidates. Allen’s career was just too short, and Lyons’ value is too much for his longevity and not enough for his peak (best 5 years only 24.5 WAR), with his WAR concentrated below average performance rather than above. People criticize Manny’s offensive numbers for coming in an offensive era, but I don’t think there’s much doubt that he was among the top 5 hitters of his era, averaging almost 5 oWAR over an extended 12 year peak (1995-2006). But, on the flip side are defense, distraction and PEDs… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Here is how Manny and Richie match up through roughly 7000 PA. I’ve omitted Allen’s final season of 200 PA. And this is Ramirez through 2005. (note that he still had 2 exceptional seasons, 2 above average seasons, and one average season left in the tank) 55.1 WAR / 30.0 WAA / 240.0 PaWaa 58.5 WAR / 33.4 WAA / 213.0 PaWaa .314 / .409 / .599 / 1.008 / 156 .293 / .379 / .539 / .918 / 158 _______________________ Leaders in OPS+ since 1946: 190 … Ted WIlliams 182 … Bonds 172 … Mantle 163 … McG 157… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I have no idea at this point who Im going to vote for.
Im inclined to dismiss Allen, simply due to his shorter career.
However, I was one of the most vocal boosters of both Larry Walker and Lou Boudreau, so…
Of course, those guys excelled at every aspect of the game (Lou taking it a step further being player/manager/shortstop/MVP on a WS Champ).

Perhaps a pitcher…

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Those ops+ leaders are for 5000+ PA.
Trout is sitting on 4673 and 175

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
There has been plenty of discussion of PEDs, but I think it would be good to restate some points. As everyone here surely knows, I don’t believe that the stats of any player for whom there is hard evidence of PED use should be regarded as accurate. But at least four robust arguments in favor of accepting PED-involved player stats as is have been offered on this site (there may have been more; these made the greatest impression on me becsuse they’re hard thought). Let me try to restate them (I’m obviously simplifying according to my understanding, and certainly open… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Before I respond to the comment, I want to try to be helpful about linking back to a comment. If you’re looking on the non-mobile version of the site, each comment has two little logos in the upper right-hand corner – one with a “Share” logo and one with a “Link” logo. I just click the chains for the link logo and copy-paste it into the new comment. I believe you were talking, in your post, about this comment. Hope that was the right one. Now my three-year-old is very jealous of me using the computer and wants to write… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Wow! It works. I always thought those doo-dads were simply decorations. Thank you, Doom. I’ll look for your response later on, after your son has completed his own commentary.

Mike L
Guest

Bravo, Bob. You said it all.

Paul E
Guest
If I were to venture a guess, the anti-PEDs faction is over 45 years of age. But, it has been universally agreed across sport (except for American team sports) that if you’re caught cheating, a la Ben Johnson or Tim Montgomery, your records are expunged and your medals surrendered. No one is hankering to remove the Super Bowl Steelers of the 70s from the record book despite strong evidence (in hindsight) of steroid use nor deny Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds surpassed Maris. This aspect of American culture to me is almost as jive as the CIA overthrowing governments in Central… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Yes, the NCAA does the same thing, Paul. I’d oppose it for baseball. It’s an all-or-nothing zero-tolerance approach that I think errs on the other side as much as ignoring PED’s effect on statistics. And it would deeply undermine what makes MLB special to create empty gaps in its almost 150-year-old statistical record. After all, who on this site doesn’t share your obsession with baseball statistics? Unfortunately, I think the best MLB can do with its records is to leave them as they are. It’s up to us to deal with the imprecision and ambiguities that remain, and I think… Read more »
Michael Sullivan
Guest

But…. the asterisk!! They put in an asterisk!

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Well Paul, being 45.9 years old, I definitely straddle two worlds.
Still the revolutionary youthful agitator, but also a fully embodied curmudgeon.
What those two personas share is a zero-tolerance for phonies.
And our whole danged society feels like a banana republic.

Numbers, however, are true.
And baseball stats are beautiful.
And I hate that the whole collection of delicious numbers has been compromised.

Mike L
Guest
Paul E. I am part of the anti-Peds faction, I am well past 45 years old (not sure how that happened that fast, but it did). I never mind old records being broken–it’s part of the magic of baseball that historic marks are chased every few years–someone measuring themselves up to Ruth, DiMaggio, Ted Williams, etc. When I was growing up, Walter Johnson’s career record for K’s was almost considered beyond reach–3509 seemed crazy–who could imagine pitching 17 years of 200K per year (many seasons no pitchers reached 200) and still being short? Johnson held the record from 1921 to… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

To illustrate your point, Walter Johnson broke his own record.
When we were growing up he only had 3508.

Paul E
Guest
Mike L. It’s not so much that Sosa Mc Gwire and Bonds surpassed Maris – it’s more like everybody and a ham sandwich hitting 40 homers or knocking in 125+ runs. Sosa hit 60 THREE times…. It just didn’t feel ‘authentic’ as it was happening. And all the pitching around batters (even in the 7 and 8 slots in the order) and the numerous pitching changes and 4+ hour games – it was ugly. The offensive explosion was new and it was a novelty at one point. But, it got old and ugly. I can’t say when the steroids started… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Two thumbs up for that “ham sandwich” comment. It’s what I should have said. I sometimes have more sympathy for the marginal guy who juiced just to stay in the game….but then I think about the minor leaguers who didn’t, and maybe lost the call-up. I just can’t reconcile the use of it. I also don’t understand why MLB stands aside with A-Rod in the TV booth (and Ortiz as some sore of “ambassador”

Josh Davis
Guest
Bob, perhaps this falls under the file of beating a dead horse, but I am struck by this statement from your post: “Players who used steroids played with an unfair advantage over players who were not users, and we see clearly in a case like Barry Bonds that the effects of PEDs could both dramatically raise performance – altering WAR rate – and increase career longevity – inflating total WAR. Players who did not use PEDs did not get these benefits, and their stats suffered relative to those of PED users (including stats like ERA+ and OPS+), both because they… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Actually, Josh, I believe the way you frame your position on PEDs is the most challenging one to respond to — not that Voomo and Doom don’t offer strong arguments, but the force of yours seems the greatest to me. It isn’t just a baseball issue. There are endless cases where society treats differently rule-breaking activities that may appear to be the same in some key respect, and it is often hard to find clear reasons why we do so. And once we have found the reasons, it may be unclear whether we should endorse them as adequate or argue… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest
Thanks for look back at previous voting — I wasn’t around for that and didn’t know about those conversations. As for “we” treating players differently, I’m not sure how that works since each individual voter has their own standards. Personally, I lean towards a more all or nothing approach, and in that view the cat is already out of the bag with Perry in. Another way of looking at it: You say many voters penalize or discount the career totals of proven cheaters. OK, but should we also take into account the fact that Ramirez actually did serve suspensions, whereas… Read more »
Bruce Gilbert
Guest

It’s very close, but to me it’s Lyons, especially since he lose seasons due to WW II

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
WAR by best seasons. Brown/Lyons/Allen/Manny 8.6 … 7.4 … 8.8 … 7.3 7.9 … 6.0 … 8.6 … 6.0 7.1 … 5.4 … 7.5 … 6.0 7.0 … 5.4 … 6.4 … 5.4 6.2 … 5.3 … 5.4 … 5.3 4.8 … 4.8 … 5.3 … 5.2 4.5 … 4.7 … 3.8 … 4.8 4.3 … 4.7 … 3.7 … 4.6 4.0 … 4.4 … 3.5 … 4.5 3.6 … 3.8 … 2.9 … 4.4 3.1 … 3.3 … 2.3 … 4.2 2.8 … 2.5 … 0.7 … 4.1 2.1 … 2.0 … 0.0 … 3.0 1.6 … 1.9 …… Read more »
Bruce Gilbert
Guest

Sorry for the above typo. Lyons lost three seasons due to WW II. In his final season before the war he led the AL in ERA with a 2.10, and won 14 games. He then missed the next three seasons; but for the war he may well have finished with 300 wins. His 71.4 WAR would also have likely moved up into the high 70’s.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Just to reinforce your point, Bruce, when Lyons returned from the War in 1946 he completed all of his five starts with a 148 ERA+ before retiring in order to become manager.

Richard Chester
Guest

And I might add that Lyons volunteered for the military.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Most of the years are pretty close. The only significant gaps between 1st place and 2nd place are Manny in years 10 through 13.

That either speaks to conditioning, genetics, talent, and greatness.
Or that he did something we don’t yet approve of to maintain his excellence into a 2nd decade.

Or both.

koma
Guest

If i look at the Hall of Fame Statistics from BR, Manny Ramirez is clearly my choice.
He is not very far behind in
Black Ink and Gray Ink, which favor players from the past and he leads the 3 others in the Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards.
And his JAWS is also the best of the four.
He is 10th alltime in Left Field JAWS, with the 9 players in front of him beeing 7 HOFers, Barry Bonds and Pete Rose;-)

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

And only 652 of Rose’s
3435 starts were in LF.

I think the concept of being that he had more value there then at first base, where he appeared in more games. Rose is his own category, having played five positions.

Michael Sullivan
Guest
Of course, if you’re looking at the Bill James Hall monitor and standards, that implies you’re aiming to act like a 1980s-90s BBWAA voter (what James was trying to predict with those stats, *NOT* player greatness or value). And if you’re doing that, one might wonder why you care about the COG or alternate halls at all. We *already have* the hall that the HOM/HOFS decision making process implies. It’s in Cooperstown, and even for those of us who disagree with a lot of their decisions, it’s a really cool place to visit. You should totally go see it!
opal611
Guest

My vote is for Manny Ramirez.

Thanks!

Andy
Guest

Compelling arguments for all run-off candidates, but here is my ranking of the 4:

1. Brown
2. Ramirez
3. Lyons
4. Allen

So Kevin Brown has my vote.

Doug
Guest

Interesting article advocating mandated reductions in the size of pitching staffs as a way to speed up the game and reduce strikeouts.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/relievers-have-broken-baseball-we-have-a-plan-to-fix-it/

no statistician but
Guest

A terrific analysis and very good proposal until he starts talking about emergency pitchers, then it enters the realm of fantasy.

Mike L
Guest

Agreed. Complexity can be the enemy of good policy. I also don’t see the need to limit positional players getting on the mound. What I’d rather see is a 3 batter minimum through six innings, if we are going down this road. Once you get to the seventh, i don’t have a problem with situational changes. I also like the idea of a 10-person max pitching staff. I’d like to see more creativity with roster use in game and you can’t do that right now when you have virtually no bench.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I think what Silver’s worrying about is not position players on the mound, but relief pitchers classified as position players to evade the minimum.

Mike L
Guest

Maybe I should sleep more before commenting…

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Good article. More rules than ideal, but perhaps there’s no alternative: obviously Nate Silver has given this a lot of thought. It’s an interesting thing, related but tangential, that the main driver of all this is simple physiology: A pitcher can put enormous stress on his arm for a dozen pitches every couple of days without damage, and this can turn an ordinary starter into a fearsome reliever (in Silver’s terms, an “Oh My God!”). It’s not new knowledge; it’s surprising it took a century after the lively ball was introduced for teams to start drawing the logical conclusion. (It’s… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Since tomorrow’s the last day for vote changes in this runoff, I though it might be helpful to post an update of the vote so far. This is what my tally shows after 12 votes:

4 – Lyons
3 – Brown, Ramirez
2 – Allen

Voters: oneblankspace, Hub Kid, Dave H, epm, Doom, Richard C, Paul E, Doug, Bruce G, koma, opal611, Andy

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I should have specified that “tomorrow” means Monday (which is, at the moment, “today”).

Dr. Doom
Guest
Something occurred to me today: I started thinking about Ted Lyons. Bruce Gilbert mentioned that he could’ve gotten to 300 wins, without WWII. That’s true; but you know what? Don Sutton did get to 300 wins. Don Sutton, in fact, pitched 1150 more innings than Ted Lyons (5282-4161), with a much lower ERA (3.26 to 3.67). Some of that is the epoch in which they played (don’t you find the word era confusing when people are talking about ERAs, as well? I always do); Sutton has a lower ERA+ (118-108). That said, it’s only 10% lower, while he pitched 20%… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
In preparing a response to Doom’s comment, I discovered a significant error that I have made repeatedly in posting Ted Lyons’ stats. When I began to use the measure of WAR/162IP a few rounds ago, I miscalculated Lyons’ figure and exaggerated his value. His career figure should be 2.6 WAR/162IP, rather than 2.9. I apologize. It’s quite an embarrassing miscalculation, seeing that I have relied on the higher figure in arguing Lyons’ case. With the wind out of my sails, I will nevertheless attempt to respond to Doom’s comparison of Lyons and Sutton. Here are the corrected (I hope) figures… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Oh. One more detail concerning Doom’s argument. He notes that Sutton was in four All-Star games and Lyons only one. Lyons’ five best seasons were all within the period 1925-32. The first All-Star game was in 1933.

Dr. Doom
Guest

The argument was ever-so-slightly cheeky and facetious, Bob. Im perfectly aware of when the All-Star Game started. I just don’t think Lyons is a very strong candidate, and I don’t think he’s a markedly better candidate than Sutton. They’re similar, more than your argument lets on. But still, I think it’s funny to speculate about 300 wins for one guy as a qualification while ignoring a guy who actually HAS 300 wins.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Sorry, Doom. I saw the edgy humor, but I didn’t spot the tongue in cheek. I suppose the reason some of us don’t see anything odd about pointing out that with his three War seasons Lyons would probably have reached 300 games is because 300+ wins is the heart of Sutton’s case: the thing he’s got that Lyons doesn’t (along with a lot of average innings and higher K-rates, much of which reflects the eras). 300 wins is a very good thing, a major accomplishment, but is not, in itself, a CoG ticket, per Early Wynn, and in peak and… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
I have to step in here with a fairly old and boring argument that always has bothered me. “fWAR thinks Sutton is far better for two reasons. (1) lots more IP, (2) lots more strike outs. Bob then points out, correctly, “It is not measuring game success, it is telling us that Lyons was a finesse pitcher and Sutton a power pitcher, which is certainly true.” I certainly grant that in today’s game, a power pitcher is generally to be preferred. But, go back to Lyon’s era, and not only was the pitching game was played differently, with an emphasis… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

If you start with the first full season for each, Lyons and Sutton, look at league K-rates at 5-year intervals (fudging a little for Lyons to dodge his war years), this is what you get:

SO/9….League SO/9….Differential
2.3…………3.2…………….. – 0.9…………Lyons
6.1…………5.4…………….. +0.7………..Sutton

So Sutton’s significantly stronger in Ks relative to his era, but the situation isn’t like, say, Sandy Koufax or Randy Johnson, whose K-rate differentials were about +4.0.

Mike L
Guest

Thanks Bob. OK, so for argument’s sake, let’s bore down a little. Sutton was 13% better than league. So, if he was playing in Lyon’s time, he’d be averaging about 3.7 K per nine? He pitched 5282 innings, translating to a projected cumulative K total of 2,171. About 100 per season. Eh. I know he likely would have done better, being bigger, but eh

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Well, Sutton was never a high-K pitcher in the context of his league — his best showing was 4th twice, and it was much the same with his SO/9 story. It’s only when you think about fWAR across eras that he becomes a high-K guy, mostly because he reflects his era. I think Sutton’s strength is really SO/W, and if I’d been in a fairer mood earlier, I’d have said that fWAR liked him relative to Lyons because of that figure. Their BB/9 figures are very close, but Lyons’ SO/W ratio suffers from low-K, while Sutton’s looks better in terms… Read more »
Michael Sullivan
Guest
Are we sure that fWAR for pitchers doesn’t context adjust these things accurately so that even if pure FIP would favor pitchers in low-scoring contexts, fWAR would not? I don’t actually know, but I’d say if it doesn’t, we should basically throw fWAR out completely. If it *does* adjust for context reasonably, then it *might* tell us something useful about Sutton’s value v. Lyons or power vs. finesse pitchers generally, or at least about the reliability of their RA9 based numbers as a pitcher value gauge. And it would also mean that this argument is largely irrelevant because the difference… Read more »
Dave Humbert
Guest
The debates have been very thoughtful in this runoff, with positions well fought…. Finding that it is getting harder to pass on Brown the more slots open up. He was no ray of sunshine, and PED suspicion is there. But his on field numbers are there with his contemporaries already in, and his case has been ardently supported since early on. Manny was no angel either, but despite his dominance, his PED violations obviously make him a tough call for this electorate. I just can’t get excited about Lyons in comparison, and Allen needs a significant credit as well. Let’s… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Allen and Ramirez, their stats adjusted to a 2018 American league neutral Park

.302 / .390 / .552 / .942
.297 / .393 / .555 / .948

Mike L
Guest
Time for me to vote. I appreciated everyone’s careful analysis. I eliminated Manny and Brown not just for consistency’s sake (no PEDS as a rule) but also because of what Paul E noted it below-the extreme unlikelihood of Sosa hitting over 60 HRs in 3 separate seasons. That over-performance against a historic standard tells me either Sosa was some sort of freak of nature, or that PEDS made the man. Inevitably, it brings you back not just to cheating, but to quantifying the value of the cheating. In Sosa’s case, it’s completely reasonable to assume it was huge. So, when… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Okay, I am going to try to settle on a vote today. Allen vs Manny? I see them as essentially the same hitter. Except Manny came to the plate nearly 2500 more times. Personalities? Dont care. If anything, Im more inclined to like difficult people. PEDs? Do we know that Manny used during his peak? No. So, if Im picking between those two, I’ll go with Manny. _____ Brown vs Lyons? Brown was dominant when he was dominant. ‘Only’ 3rd or 4th best pitcher in his own league? Yes. But in an era of truly great pitchers. Did he use… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Voom,
Never heard of “Niggeling” and thought you were making some reference to “Nig” Cuppy. Anyway, thanks for the list since that was a pretty ineteresting career for Niggeling

mosc
Guest

Doug’s right. Lyons has no peak and Allen’s career was just too short.

So, with love to our most evil Dr.

Kevin Brown

Oh man that felt horrible to type.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Ive mentally changed my vote from Manny to Lyons to Brown in the last 90 seconds.
As a 40-something in an obstinate stare-down with time and injury, Im gonna give it to the guy who got it done late and gave it up with something left in the tank:

Vote:

Ted Lyons

mosc
Guest

Yeah, I IMMEDIATELY wanted to edit my post and change it. This is a nerve wracking runoff for sure.

JEV
Guest

I’ll vote for Kevin Brown.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Jose LeClerc just signed an extension with Texas. Last year he had the lowest H/9 of all time in a season of at least 55 IP. Here are the leaders for 50+ IP: 3.50 … Aroldis (54 IP) 3.75 … LeClerc (58) 3.88 … Kimbrel (63) 3.93 … Carl Edwards (66) 3.98 … Hader (81) 4.00 … Uehara (74) 4.04 … Gagne (82) 4.12 … Marmol (87) 4.13 … Jeff Nelson (65) 4.21 … Aroldis (51) 4.22 … Wagner (75) 4.29 … Valverde (50) 4.30 … Kimbrel (69) 4.32 … Aroldis (50) 4.32 … Balfour (58) 4.34 … Bastardo (58)… Read more »
Michael Sullivan
Guest

Interesting that Rivera isn’t on this list, and his lowest season mark isn’t that close at around 5.2. It was one of his best seasons, highest ERA+, and one of the lower FIP, and trailing only his 107IP 1996 season (before they made him a “closer”) in WAR and WAA.

Mike L
Guest

Rivera was never an ultra-high strikeout pitcher. He was over 9.8 K/9 only once. He managed two decades of consistent brilliance by consistently keeping the total number of baserunners down. His lifetime WHIP is 3rd.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Three things: I read recently that Bill James has entered the “You kids get off of my lawn” phase of his career; that’s not untrue. He’s often unkind to ideas that aren’t his own. But he has a REALLY interesting take on Baseball-Reference pitcher WAR. The finale of the series is available here. The series began on February 14, and you can read the whole set of posts in the archive here (though you’ll actually have to go to page two for the first article, but the rest are on that first page). He makes a great argument, I think,… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Three voters from the 131st round have yet to cast ballots, so there may be some interesting action today. It is unquestionably true that Sutton’s greatest strength lies in his SO/W ratio, and that Lyons is unusually weak in that stat, entirely because of his low K-rate. Sutton is also strong in WHIP. I’d need more time than I have today to match up Sutton & Lyons in era contexts, but Lyons did not often make the leaderboard. I think no one has claimed that Lyons is super electable — it’s not true. I voted for him here but he… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Tango posted another reply article today. Bob will hate it, because it make heavy use of the dreaded term “random variation,” but people might find it interesting.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
If Tango or anyone else would acknowledge that “random” is just a convenient but misleading term for “indeterminately caused” I’d shrug and say fine, use the term. The fact that we don’t have fine enough data to determine the causes of an event doesn’t make the event or data about it random. When Tango speaks of “random variation” he means variation caused by factors presently unknowable to us, but we do know that, in almost all cases, those factors are entirely exhausted by two phrases: what the pitcher did with the ball in applying skill to intent / what the… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
I’ve been thinking about your monomania regarding the use of the word “random.” I think, perhaps, a test can be put to you that might help clarify your preferred use of the word. Is a coin flip or a dice roll random? My thought is this: if you say “Yes,” then you should have no problem with the way Tango, I, or others use the term. If you say, “No,” fine; there ARE things that cause it to happen; what Tango, I, and others would argue is that those causative factors are so incalculable as to best be considered random.… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Maybe

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Doom, I used to be good at flipping a coin so it would come up on the same side that was up when I flipped it (had to do with catching it at the same height I flipped it at, and practice — these were coin flip where you caught the coin and slapped it onto the back of your other hand). That was not random because skill was involved. When I missed it was because I didn’t do it quite right, and I’d usually (but not always) know before I caught it that I’d probably bungled it. So I’d… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Bob, I wrote a very long post, but chose to delete it. You and I will never agree on this, because I see literally dozens of factors that are random – or at least are random from the point of view of the pitcher, so I think “random variation” is a VERY good explanation for a lot of phenomena on the field. “Random variation” does not mean, “There’s no skill involved,” which is, I think, what you believe it to mean. Rather, its meaning is that the distribution of results are random. Such and such a pitcher will give up… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Doom, I’m not a statistician, as you well know. We are using “random” in the context of different frameworks. My particular peeve for years has been the use of the terms “chance” and “luck.” I’ve written that I think “chance” has no place in discussions of baseball ( beyond wind gusts, etc.), but that “luck” could legitimately be used if the perspective of the batter, pitcher, fielder was used. (There it means that a set of circumstances outside a player’s control made an outcome that was good or bad for him more likely — e.g., “It was his bad luck… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
I think that my quibble is that, while you see your interpretation as “common sense interpretation,” we’re not in the realm of common sense. We are, to use the Wittgenstein framework, placing in the “baseball statistics” language game. I and others are using the language as it is commonly used within the discipline. When you choose to reject the language of the discipline, we are, for all intents speaking different languages. It becomes difficult to talk about things. A similar thing happens if you talk about pitcher wins, and someone decides to make the argument about the fact that a… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Fair enough, Doom. As I said, I translate the language of statistics in this case because of the confusion among concepts that bear family resemblances for most people, and “random” is a crossover term in that context. (I’m not sure we need to drag Ludwig in; “term of art” covered what you’re calling “language game.”) I can’t play the statistics language game, because, like some others, my interest in baseball statistics does not arise from a statistics background or competence in that language. When you signaled that I would not like Tango’s argument because it used a “dreaded term,” my… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Doom, I know I mentioned this, but in the 1980’s I wrote Bill James a letter–which he did answer (postmark, Lawrence, Kansas) and even then he was a little rough in dismissing my point (hindsight tells me he was right) but he wasn’t entirely ungenerous to anyone actually interested in something other than traditional stats. Still have the letter. Haven’t sold it to pay for child’s grad school….

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Here are Kevin Brown, Ted Lyons, and Don Sutton.
Actual stats.
And then, neutralized to a 2018 NL neutral ballpark:

211-144 / 3.28 / 127+ / 1.222
260-230 / 3.67 / 118+ / 1.348
324-256 / 3.26 / 108+ / 1.142

211-161 / 3.36 / 1.215
272-216 / 3.56 / 1.265
321-274 / 3.64 / 1.208

Bruce Gilbert
Guest

One stat missing from Voomo’s post just above is the number of seasons lost due to service in an American war. Brown—zero; Sutton—zero; Lyons—three seasons (and those three seasons came immediately after he won the AL ERA title).

mosc
Guest

I agree, but remember 1942 ERA title is partly jaded by the war already. And in ’46 he was hardly pitching a huge number of innings so how many did he really miss? He was well into his 40s remember.

Josh Davis
Guest

VOTE: Kevin Brown

Michael Sullivan
Guest

My vote is for Kevin Brown

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Brown now has a lead of two votes with 20 ballots in, and with the tie-breaker rule, Lyons would need three to overcome lead. I believe there will be corks popping in the Doom household tonight!

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Midnight has passed. Kevin Brown is now in the Circle. Congratulations to his most steadfast advocate, Dr. Doom.

Chris C
Guest

Manny Ramirez is my vote

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