Not Just Friends of Frisch – Part 2

Regular HHS contributor “no statistician but” (or nsb) continues his series examining where the Hall of Fame cutoff line really lies with his look at marginal HoF inductees. If you missed his Part 1 introduction, you can read it here. In Part 2, nsb looks at the positions of catcher and first basemen. More after the jump.

The question of who does or doesn’t belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame, encompassing a variety of points of view, notably the “Small Hall” and “Big Hall” perspectives, is at the heart of what I want HHS followers to consider here. When you exclude Negro League inductees; non-playing inductees such as managers, executives and broadcasters; marginal 19th century stars; talented inductees whose careers were blighted by injury, illness, or even death; and lastly, the notorious ‘Friends of Frisch,’ what remains is a group of forty-eight players who by one standard, at least, that of the
Hall of Stats, fail as individuals to measure up. These forty-eight (identified in Part 1), it seems to me, are at the heart of the conundrum of how to define a Hall of Fame player.

To lay the groundwork for discussion, I’m going to begin with the positions of catcher and first baseman where there are just six players—three of each— who make the HOF but not the HOS. The listing below provides what I think are the most relevant stats for overall comparison: first the Hall of Stats rating, where 100 rings the bell automatically; then the number of career plate appearances and career OPS+ and WAR figures—with dWAR added for catchers; and finally the JAWS position rating (JAWS rating combines career WAR with WAR for a player’s best 7 seasons). As a further point of comparison I’ve appended the name of and figures for the player at each position ranked 6th by JAWS.

Catchers:

  • Roger Bresnahan 94—5376 PA; 126 OPS+; 42.5 WAR; 6.5 dWAR; JAWS 20th
  • Ray Schalk 52—6240 PA; 83 OPS+; 33.2 WAR; 18.3 dWAR; JAWS 30th
  • Roy Campanella 78—4815 PA; 123 OPS+ 37.0 WAR; 8.5 dWAR; JAWS 21st (MVP Award 3 times)

JAWS #6: Yogi Berra 136—8359 PA; 125 OPS+; 59.8 WAR; 9.2 dWAR (MVP Award 3 times)

First Basemen:

JAWS #6: Jeff Bagwell 165—9431 PA; 149 OPS+; 79.9 WAR

The challenge I want to issue to HHS followers is this, to argue for (or against) the presence in the Hall of Fame of any or all of the six players listed here with a HOS rating below 100. One argument is disqualified: saying that Richard Roe doesn’t belong because John Doe, who was better, has been passed over for inclusion, fails on every count to meet the terms of the challenge. The merits or demerits of the listed players, comparisons to other HOFers, the use of more detailed statistics, historical and biographical information—these and similar bases for argumentation are all welcome.

So: who belongs? I personally see three players who pass a basic test, but I’d prefer some discussion before I chime in.

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55 Comments on "Not Just Friends of Frisch – Part 2"

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Mike H
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Just to start things off, here are the rankings for catchers (since 1900) according to the CAWS Career Gauge. CWS = career win shares CV = player’s core value = sum of win shares for 10 best seasons CAWS = career value = CV + .25(CWS – CV) The 12 Catchers with Hall of Fame Numbers (CAWS = 250) ________________________________________CWS_____CV______CAWS 1.......Yogi Berra......(1946-1965).....375.....276.....301 2.......Johnny Bench....(1967-1983).....356.....277.....297 3.......Mike Piazza.....(1992-2008).....325.....273.....286 4.......Gary Carter.....(1974-1992).....337.....263.....282 5.......Carlton Fisk....(1969-1993).....368.....240.....272 6.......Ivan Rodriguez..(1991-2011).....345.....234.....262 7.......Joe Torre.......(1960-1977).....315.....244.....262 8.......Ted Simmons.....(1968-1988).....315.....240.....259 9.......Mickey Cochrane.(1925-1937).....275.....250.....256 10......Bill Dickey.....(1928-1946).....314.....235.....255 11......Joe Mauer.......(2004-2018).....293.....241.....254 12......Gabby Hartnett..(1922-1941).....325.....229.....253 Note: Joe Torre is in the Hall of Fame as a manager – not as a… Read more »
Mike H
Guest

Sorry about the numbers collapsing together. Not sure how to fix that.

no statistician but
Guest

Doug:

Just discovered that I have Roger Bresnahan’s career OPS+ entirely wrong. It should be 126, not 84. Mea culpa, possibly, although . . .?

It looks like Baseball Reference has done some adjusting of all its figures since I first wrote this, especially for catchers. Now Campanella’s OPS+ is at 123, but his WAR is 37.0, while Schalk now has 33.2 WAR with 18.3 dWAR.

CursedClevelander
Guest

I was going to say, scanning the post, the OPS+ seemed way too low for Bresnahan, who was not a weak hitter. I didn’t know what it should be, but I was sure it couldn’t be so close to Schalk’s.

Doug
Guest

I’ll update the post with the current figures. There really have been some significant changes for the catchers.

no statistician but
Guest
Some notes on players: Roger Bresnahan: An innovator at the catcher position, instrumental in the adoption of shin guards and padded masks. At his peak with the Giants from 1903-1908, his OPS+ numbers were 162, 140, 132, 140, 129, 137. In 1909 he went to Cardinals as player manager, cutting his appearances by about a third but keeping the high OPS+ going at 105, 134, 146, 144. Ray Schalk: Noted for his fielding innovations, such as backing up plays at first, third, and even second at times. Small, wiry, and fast, started 150 games at catcher in 1927, something unheard… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Just spotted that nsb’s Part 2 was posted. It’s late, so for now I’ll just note some different numbers for the three catchers, plus Berra, and add a few comments. (C% here is the percent of games played in which the catcher actually caught; Career length is now indexed to 5000PA=1.0.) WAR…WAR/500PA…Peak7…OPS+…dWAR…Career…C% 43.3………..4.0………….29.9…..126……..6.5……..1.1……71%…..Bresnahan 37.0………..3.8………….33.5…..123……..8.5……..1.0….100%…..Campy 33.2………..2.7………….22.3…….83……18.3……..1.2….100%…..Schalk 59.8………..3.6………….38.2…..125……..9.2……..1.7……87%…..Berra Note that Bresnahan, Campy, and Berra are virtually identical in offensive strength, as reflected in OPS+. Schalk’s strength is in defense, far superior to the others (when he retired, his dWAR was the best ever for a catcher, and was not surpassed, I believe,… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Here’s a table that puts Bresnahan, Campanella, and Schalk in company with all the catchers listed by Mike according to CAWS. This is a bWAR-base list, rather than Win Shares, and I’ve chosen to sort it according to WAR/500PA, that is, according to rate of WAR compilation. So I’d think of this as a kind of raw “quality” ranking. The nature of the quality would be roughly indicated by the OPS+/dWAR balance — is value primarily derived from hitting or from fielding? Obviously, longevity has its virtues as well, and total WAR and Career (indexed to 5000PA=1.0) give some rough… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Here are some stats for the 1B Famers, nsb’s three plus Bagwell (whom nsb used as a comparative standard), ranked according to WAR rate: WAR….WAR/500PA…Peak7…OPS+……dWAR……Career 45.7………..4.5…………..35.3…..135……….2.9…………1.0…….Chance 79.9………..4.2…………..47.4…..149………-7.2…………1.9…….Bagwell 50.2………..2.9…………..30.3…..133…….-13.8…………1.7…….Cepeda 54.0………..2.5…………..36.5…..122………-6.6…………2.2…….Perez This is an interesting mix of strengths and weaknesses. Chance looks terrific in every respect except career longevity: he barely amassed the equivalent of ten modern qualifying seasons. Of course, he was managing terrific teams in Chicago as a bonus, but they had been assembled by his managerial predecessor, Frank Selee, so while he gets credit for the work, he can’t really claim much for the quality (he did not prove… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
OK, Tony Perez: Personally, I didn’t (and don’t) see a need to have another 1970s Red in the Hall. There are plenty of them there, particularly if you consider that, but for his post-playing activities, Rose would be in. But let’s look at Perez. First, we have the Hall Rating: it’s 96. I mean… are we really confident enough in WAR to say that a guy THAT close definitively shouldn’t be in? To me, if the numbers are close enough and there are some subjective opinions that put him above the line, that’s okay by me. Statistically, I think he… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Doom, You’ve gotta be the best advocate a player could wish for. This is a great post to read. I think that at the end you go a little too far. Here are Perez’s peak 8 seasons (1968-75) vs. Chance’s career (per your comparison), and Perez 1964-67, 1976-86: WAR….WAR/500PA…Peak8…OPS+……dWAR 45.7………..4.5…………..37.4…..135……….2.9………Chance, career (5112 PA; Peak 8 WAR/500PA: 5.0) WAR….WAR/500PA…Peak8…OPS+……dWAR 38.9..……..3.7…………..38.9…..137………..0.6………Perez, 1968-75 (5203 PA) WAR….WAR/500PA…Peak7…OPS+……dWAR 15.1……….1.3…………..13.9…..109………-7.2………Perez, 1964-67; 1976-86 (5658 PA; WAA: -3.8) Perez’s eight prime seasons are a lot like Chance’s Peak8 in total WAR, but Chance had a far higher WAR rate (5.0 vs. 3.7, which I know is not the… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Bob, Regarding Perez’s “natural position,” this is always an interesting debate. My assumption was that he played third in the minors because, yes, he had a good enough arm to play third IN THE MINORS, much the way a 6’4″ kid will be a center in high school basketball, but will never play that position if you move up a level, because such a player is just too short (even in D3). Similar to Machado or others who played a fair amount of SS in the minors, to be moved to third or second in the majors. It happens. That… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Thanks for this reply, Doom. It’s a counter-argument that I hadn’t anticipated and have to acknowledge could be plausible.

I like the Chance/Perez comparison. I have actually thought all along that neither of them belonged in the Hall, but thinking through nsb’s challenge I found myself surprised by Chance, and was really impressed with your arguments for Perez. So I’m more inclined towards both of them than I was a few days ago. Still, I identify as a Small Hall guy, so . . . It’s nice that unlike the CoG, this string we don’t have to vote, just argue.

Doug
Guest

Don’t think it’s true that Chance never played out of position. He spent his first five seasons as a part-time catcher with unimpressive defensive stats (-6 Rfield). While he was reluctant to make the move to first base, once he did so, he proved to be far more adept (54 Rfield) and resilient there (as would be expected) than behind the plate.

Had he played first base from the start of his career, you could probably add 8-10 more WAR and 1000-1200 PA for his first 5 seasons, making his career totals look a lot closer to those of a HOFer.

Paul E
Guest

Perez is 30th all-time in batting runs among guys who played 50% of their career games at 1B.
Joey Votto is 11th in about 3,500 fewer PA’s.
If Votto got hit by a truck tomorrow, he doesn’t make Cooperstown. However, Perez is in due to career length and great teammates. Baseball must have been fun batting behind guys like Harper, Rose, and Pinson….Rose, Tolan, and Bench….Rose, Griffey, Morgan, and Bench. Hence 1 RBI per every 5.8 AB’s versus a league average of 8.8 durung his career.
Nice guy but, IMO, not a HoFer

CursedClevelander
Guest

I think Votto would get in on the strength of his peak even if he retired tomorrow – I hope he still has some pop in his bat, but his 2018 numbers combined with his spring training numbers this year make it seem like he’s turning into Ferris Fain.

Of course, there are worse players to turn into, since Fain had a nice career.

Paul E
Guest

CC,
Taking that walk-Moneyball. I wonder if the A’s are willing to assume the rest of that Votto contract?

howard rosen
Guest

I don’t see anything weird about the platooning on either end of his career. Gordy Coleman hit better than Perez in 1965 & Perez was better (though not good) the next year after which he became a regular. Later on, after a poor age 39 year, he predictably became a part timer like any number of former stars who hung on Past their primes.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Also, UPDATE on park-adjusting defensive stats:
Historic seasons in Baseball-Reference WAR definitely ARE adjusted to account for ballpark, so those are not double-counted. Rally made a comment on Tango’s site about how he designed the original rWAR using TotalZone, and has some interesting comments on this post, if anyone’s interested. I know it’s not germane to the discussion here, but I lost track of the thread on which that was being discussed, so I thought I’d just post it on the most recent stuff. Sorry for going off-topic.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Doom, your link (“this post”) lacks the URL in code. Could you add it? I’m a little confused by your post, but perhaps reding Smith’s comment will clear it up.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Thanks, Doom. I think this puts to rest Bill James’s objections and my own speculations, but it does leave @dackle’s findings (described last thread) unexplained.

Rally makes the following statement in his explanation: “The 1980 A’s pitchers are not being double penalized for a pitcher’s park factor and a defensive rating that looks good because of a park.” What James was actually suggesting is something a little different: that the park factor may unduly reflect the quality of the home team defense. I’m not sure the inverse results in the same outcome, but perhaps after a night’s sleep I will be.

Mike H
Guest
Here are some rankings of first basemen according to the CAWS Career Gauge. CWS = career win shares CV = a player’s core value = sum of WS for 10 best seasons CAWS = career value Some first basemen with HOF Numbers (CAWS = 280) ……………………………….. CWS …..CV..….CAWS 1…..Lou Gehrig…………489……384..….410 2…..Albert Pujols ……..476……347……379 8…..Jeff Bagwell………..388……287..….312 11….Jim Thome………….392…..270……301 A few first basemen who just missed the benchmark. 15….Jason Giambi………318……266……279 16….Joey Votto…………. .285……273……276 17….Tony Perez………… 349……249……274 20…Orlando Cepeda…..310……251……266 Three first basemen who are in the Hall of Fame but who did not make it into the top 20. George Sisler…………….292……239……252 Jim Bottomley……………258……214……225… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
“Frank Chance is not even close” That’s certainly true according to your metric, Mike. In the “New Abstract,” James rates Chance just one slot below Sisler (whom he doesn’t much like either) and far (11 spots) above Bottomley. I assume the difference between measuring 3/5-year-peaks vs. 10-year-peak accounts for most of disparity with CAWS. Perez is rated much higher by James, but his WS Peak5 is almost identical with Chance’s (just as WAR would suggest), and Chance’s WS-rate, something James does also consider, is almost 50% higher than Perez’s. (Chance was, in fact, ninth in WS rates among first basemen… Read more »
Mike H
Guest
The whole point of the CAWS Career Gauge is to try to determine how good a player’s ENTIRE CAREER was. One reason why I chose the 10 best seasons as a player’s Core Value is because if we are judging whether a player had HOF numbers, then we should be making the criteria as difficult (within reason) as possible. I do not believe we should be cherry-picking among the many stats to try to justify a player’s “worthiness” if his entire career just does not measure up. I think your last sentence sums it up well – “Chance was clearly… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Mike, I’m not sure how we might agree on what constitutes the core value of a career, but I do agree that cherry picking is not a good approach. On the other hand, I’d stretch the metaphor and say that I think there are multiple kinds of fruit in a career, and while me may want get a general idea of them in a combination smoothie, it’s also worthwhile to look at each kind on its own terms. My interest in rate stats as a complement to aggregate would unpack the metaphor. Ray Schalk’s exceptional defensive skills might constitute another… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Mike H
I agree that any system of evaluation should use a career peak longer than 7 years but 10 years is just as “arbitrary” as 7 (but definitely better). If a guy is a great talent (Luis Tiant, por ejemplo) and suffers serious injury mid-career peak, perhaps even 10 is not long enough? I dunno. In the example above, Bagwell has several seasons of greater than 20 WS yet those seasons are outside his 10 year peak window. I believe James called the 20 WS seasons “All Star” caliber. Shouldn’t they be included in comparing the “greats”? Just asking

Mike H
Guest

Paul,
Just to clarify – in the CAWS Career Gauge, I do not use the concept of “peak.” A player’s core value is the sum of his 10 best seasons – whenever they occur during his career.

Paul E
Guest

Mike H
very fair – and even less arbitrary. Logically speaking, when comparing superstars, you could even take it out further – say, 15 best seasons? You know, like to settle the Cobb-Mays-Mantle or Collins-Hornsby-Morgan debate…..McCovey vs. Stargell or Williams/DiMaggio,etc….

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I don’t know, Paul. It seems more arbitrary to me, but I suppose you can look at it either way. Picking out widely dispersed seasons because they meet the 10-best criterion is a lot closer to cherry picking than finding the block of 5, 7, or 10-best seasons and seeing the level of excellence a player could sustain over a career prime (although that is a form of cherry-picking too). But in cases like Tiant you’d need to be aware that a “prime/peak” calculation under-represents his quality, just as for players whose 10-best number correlates to their peak10 you’d want… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Bob, As far as advocating for the “mosc approach”, I believe he’s also eliminating negative WAA seasons. However, with WS, I don’t believe there are negative seasons- just positve and less positive. Not every guy’s career is a perfect bell curve. I don’t believe Mantle’s half-crippled seasons (’63, ’65, ’66) should be held against him any more than Mays’ struggles with the Mets (bad example-end of career/bottom of bell curve). Mantle was injured and later was “less crippled” in some subsequent seasons. But if we go 10 straight, Mays would lose an MVP season (either ’54 or ’65). For guys… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Yes, as I understand it WAA+ is simply total WAA without the WAA- seasons. And, yes again, there are no negative Win Shares (though I believe some people have rebuilt WS to create them). My view is that we want to count all seasons, but we want to understand the factors that create outliers. So Mantle’s “crippled seasons” would be “held against him” — what happened on the field actually happened, we can’t wish it way. But assessments of Mantle’s stature include an understanding of the causes of those poor numbers, and a judgment that is qualitative, rather than a… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob,
“I remember poring over those lists trying to figure out James’s thought processes as he translated that portfolio of numbers into a ranking. ”
Check out the 1B rankings. Dick Allen is possibly, by James’ mathematical standards, the 3rd or 4th best 1B of all time. Then he gets into the subjective stuff and treats him like a witch at Salem. Basically stating, “possibly the greatest talent I have ever seen”, he then ranks him 15th for all the BS and soap opera that went on in Allen’s career – numbers be damned. But, it’s his system and his book…..

Mike H
Guest
Actually, CAWS has Dick Allen ranked as tied with Eddie Murray as the #7 best 1B. That would be #8 if you think of Frank Thomas as a 1B and not as a DH. How good was Dick Allen? Only 25 players since 1900 have a core value grater than 300 and Allen is one of them – that is, an average of better than 30 win shares over his 10 best seasons (where 30 win shares is an MVP-type season). Allen is arguably the best player (not banned or a PED user) who is not in the Hall of… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Mike,
Sorry, re Allen, I was referring to the BJHBA player ratings

Paul E
Guest

Mike H
At the risk of being “that guy”, Allen is missing from your list in “The 250/1800 Benchmark” starting on page 27 of 80 of the monograph. He is the exception as he played in only 1,749 major league games and amassed a 314 CAWS career gauge score and has yet to be asked to give a speech at Cooperstown.

Mike H
Guest

Paul,
Thank you for pointing that out. So, Dick Allen becomes the only such player who has not been elected to the Hall.

Paul E
Guest

Mike H
Yes, apparently Allen is not just a ‘touchstone” for a lot of issues but also an exception who stands out at times statistically. I believe one of three greatest position player rookie seasons ever by several measures including WS (maybe 1st?) and WAR (Mike Trout, Joe Jackson)

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Paul, I think I recall reading an attack on Allen along those lines but there’s nothing like that I see in the “New Abstract,” where the numbers appear. Basically, James writes off Allen’s Peak3 and Peak5 numbers by saying he did have a few super seasons but made a train wreck of the rest of his career. Personally, I think James really is out of line being so casually judgmental, especially since Allen’s case was multi-sided during an era when race was even more explosive than it is today. But it’s also true that we’ve faced similar issues when debating… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob
You are correct. The “greatest ” label was in the original abstract. I believe when comparing Allen Rose Killebrew and Leach as multiple position players. It’s also in an assessment recently made on his website concerning a chronology of baseball’s best player based on a 4 year rolling average of win shares

no statistician but
Guest
I said I’d chime in later, so here it is: Of the six, who is a genuinely poor choice? I’m not talking about which player or players have stats that don’t measure up to a basic standard, because, in fact, none of them do, depending on which standard is used. At first my view was that Schalk, Cepeda, and Perez weren’t good choices, while Bresnahan, Campanella, and Chance, because of their high performance in relatively few career appearances, actually cleared every hurdle but longevity or durability, meaning that the original voters, not constrained by the rage for accumulation built into… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Discussion here seems to be winding down, and I’ve been asking myself where I stand in answer to nsb’s question. after listening to everyone’s viewpoints. It’s not so easy. I sometimes call myself a Small Hall guy, but I tend to get behind good players whose stats and stories I get to know well, even if their inclusion implies a large Hall. Things look different up close. One easy call for me is Campanella, whose rate and peak figures are clearly Hall caliber, but whose career was stalled by segregation. That leaves Bresnahan and Schalk. Schalk has really attracted my… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I see that while I was working on my morning project of the post above, nsb posted his own. It looks like we differ on where we draw the line, but not so much on the reasoning that gets us there.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Bob, Thanks for your feedback. I wouldn’t say I’m a Perez backer. As I’ve said above, I really DON’T see him as a Hall of Famer. I’m not offended by his presence there; he’s a borderliner, but I can’t see that he’s any more or less worthy than, say, Frank Tanana. Is a Hall of Fame better or worse with players like that? I don’t know. Probably better, so I can see him in; but I realize that an ideal Hall with such players is probably 400+ people, which many would deem too large. If you’re a Small Hall kind… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I guess I’m a small Hall guy because it seems possible to begin to articulate what constitutes a “great” player for me if the examples are so good that I start out feeling confident that they’re great and then I work backwards to the details of their stats and narratives to identify what caused that assessment (which can still change both ways when new facts come to the fore). When dealing with players like Cepeda or Perez — or Chance, for that matter — I feel lost looking for a frame of reference, so a Hall that extends out to… Read more »
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