Not Just Friends of Frisch – Part 4

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 Hall of Famers. In Part 4, nsb takes a look at the outfield positions, and 14 selected Hall of Fame outfielders who are outside of the Hall of Stats. More after the jump

We’ve just recently concluded four rounds of argument with an underlying premise: that certain baseball players, because of their superior performance or impact over a number of seasons, should belong to a select group called the Circle of Greats. Choosing this year’s inductees was a difficult and sometimes contentious process owing to the lack of any candidates with a clear-cut edge over their peers, save in the case of Derek Jeter—and his reputation did not come through the process unscathed.

‘Not Just Friends of Frisch’ addresses a very different issue concerning players similar to those we considered during recent Circle of Greats elections. Specifically, I want to assess those players who have been elected to the official baseball Hall of Fame but whose credentials, according to one compelling measure, fall below a set standard, that of the Hall of Stats. It’s well to remember that the official HOF has no set criteria in terms of levels of performance; it’s for the voters, whether members of committees or journalists, to decide and they’re not bound by this or that statistical construct, nor are they instructed to ignore non-statistical factors that to them might seem relevant in considering who deserves enshrinement. In particular, some HOF voters may be more sensitive to certain nuances, such as record-setting figures and awards, and less sensitive to more progressive statistical analyses.

In contrast, the present exercise is to examine certain of those players who are in the HOF but not in the HOS, with an eye to determining which, if any, “belong” despite falling below the HOS evaluative level of 100. In part IV, I look at outfielders. As before, I am providing the HOS rating for each player as well as the number of plate appearances, plus the OPS+ and WAR figures. As a point of comparison, I’m also providing the 7th highest ranked retired players at each position, as ranked by JAWS.

Left Fielders:
Heinie Manush 79—8420 PA; 121 OPS+; 38.7 WAR
Ralph Kiner 93—6256 PA; 149 OPS+; 49.4 WAR
Lou Brock 72—11240 PA; 109 OPS+; 45.3 WAR
Jim Rice 84—9058 PA; 128 OPS+; 47.7 WAR
JAWS 7th: Al Simmons 132—9519 PA; 133 OPS+; 68.8 WAR

Center Fielders:
Max Carey 96—10768 PA; 108 OPS+; 54.0 WAR
Edd Roush 87—8147 PA; 126 OPS+; 45.3 WAR
Hack Wilson 77—5555 PA; 144 OPS+; 38.9 WAR
Earle Combs 75—6514 PA; 125 OPS+; 42.5 WAR
Earl Averill 88—7220 PA; 133 OPS+; 48.0 WAR
JAWS 7th: Duke Snider 130—8237 PA; 140 OPS+; 66.4 WAR

Right Fielders:
Harry Hooper 83—10255 PA; 114 OPS+; 53.5 WAR
Sam Rice 82—10252 PA; 112 OPS+; 52.7 WAR (WW I: 1 year)
Kiki Cuyler 88—8100 PA; 125 OPS+; 46.7 WAR
Enos Slaughter 95—9086 PA; 124 OPS+; 55.3 WAR (WW II: 3 years)
Harold Baines 58—11092 PA; 121 OPS+; 38.7 WAR (60% of starts at DH)
JAWS 7th: Al Kaline 187—11596 PA; 134 OPS+; 92.8 WAR

The challenge, again, is this, to argue for (or against) the presence in the Hall of Fame of any or all of the 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; this 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’ll make my usual follow-up remarks later on.

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52 Comments on "Not Just Friends of Frisch – Part 4"

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Bob Eno (epm)
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It’s been awhile since the last installment of nsb’s series, and in the interim I’ve been thinking about ways to get some additional clarity about the various approaches to the question of Hallworthiness. Because of Mike Hoban’s participation in these discussions (and I hope he’s still planning to join in), I thought it might be interesting to use this discussion of Hall of Fame outfielders to highlight the very different ways Win Shares (WS) and bWAR assess position player careers. When Mike H joined our HHS discussions, Doug indicated that we’d soon be discussing the WS-based CAWS system that Mike… Read more »
no statistician but
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Let me raise an issue right away that to me seems apparent among the outfielders from the HOS list in that several owe their HOF status to obvious voter recognition of special factors: 1) Hack Wilson’s 1929-1930 seasons generally, the 191 RBIs and 56 HRs, the four years out of five leading the NL in HRS; 2) Lou Brock’s stolen bases and World Series excellence; 3) Ralph Kiner’s two 50+ HR seasons and seven consecutive years leading the NL in HRS—still a record; 4) Max Carey’s 10 years as stolen base king, the NL’s answer to Ty Cobb in that… Read more »
Brett Alan
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I have always interpreted “Hall of Fame” in the later way…it’s a Hall to preserve sand extend the fame of the deserving, not a hall of the famous. Certainly some of the owners and other behind-the-scenes figures weren’t all that famous.

Anyway, I think any number such as WAR or HOS is useful but not perfect. Kiner, for example, might fall a little short in those numbers because he retired early, but with that eye-popping OPS+ and his top-five all time at bats per home run (he was second only to Ruth until the 90s), I think he clearly is worthy.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Brett, In considering how AB/HR contributed to Kiner’s case, I’d call him a “top-three” guy. It would be wrong, I think, to lower his standing because others boosted theirs with steroids. This is exactly the sort of situation where we need to “asterisk” PED-users so as to take fairer measures of cross-era talent. Here’s an interesting comparison (I think). If you compare Kiner with the #2 guy on the real (PED-free) list, Jim Thome, and simply project Kiner’s totals with Thome’s total PA, you get pretty much the same player: …H……..2B……3B…..HR……RBI……BB……SO………dWAR 2328….451…..26…..612….1699…1747…2548……-16.4……Thome 2392….356…..64…..608….1733…1667…1235……-18.0……Kiner, projected Of course Thome actually compiled his… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
nsb and Brett, I do think it tends to be the “modern way” to discount the factors you mention, which is why I ended my comment by saying, “I want to repeat that I think these crunched-stats lists need to be starting points for assessments that include historical and narrative elements, not endpoints for final answers about who is and who isn’t Hallworthy.” The factors you point to belong to what I called “historical and narrative elements.” My comparison of CAWS and WAR-based figures was not an endorsement of either as a stand-alone approach. However, I think the most interesting… Read more »
Doug
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My choices for being Hall-worthy are Carey and Slaughter, and not just because they have the two highest HOS ratings (though, for me, that speaks well for those ratings). Carey actually has quite similar offensive and baserunning numbers to another player under examination here (Brock), but where Brock was a defensive liability, Carey was a definite asset, both by defensive metrics (such as they are) and by reputation. So, Carey could beat you with his legs and his glove, and hold his own with his bat, not unlike an outfielder we elected to the CoG even before he retired (Ichiro,… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
To follow up on the figures that compare CAWS to a perfectly parallel bWAR-based system, I want to add another chart. As I’ve been saying, unpersuasively, perhaps, I think career WAR rate is an important factor to consider in making assessments of total career value (in part to more appropriately assess what nsb has called “bland accumulators”). After more than ten minutes of thought, I’ve come up with a single-number formula that I feel better reflects the way I’d initially assess players, using the types of WAR-based figures I’ve been posting for the past couple of years. The formula adds… Read more »
no statistician but
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Bob’s drawing Elmer Flick into the discussion made me look up that famous performance of 1905, the .306 (recently adjusted to .308) batting championship. In the past I’d just assumed that it was a fluke caused by the fact that Nap Lajoie only played in 65 games, and so his .329 average was disqualified. The previous season Flick’s .306 would have placed a distant fourth to Lajoie’s .378, and the following season ninth behind a horde of players (including himself at .311). In any event you would think, right? that 1905 was a down year for hitting and scoring, like… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
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. . . recently adjusted to .308 . . .

Thanks, nsb. I hadn’t heard and thought it was my mind that needed adjusting.

Voomo Zanzibar
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Amazing to me how many historically exceptional offenses had a terrible-hitting 2nd baseman as their leadoff hitter. Looking at Hack Wilson got me to the 1930 Cubs. Surely Hack was batting behind a couple of guys with exceptional OBP. Yes, yes, and no. Hack batted 4th. 2nd and 3rd were two guys who played all 156 games: Woody English (.430 / 152 R) Kiki Cuyler (.428 / 155 R) Leading off, however, was Footsie Blair, a rookie. .306 OBP 65 ops+ -35 Rbat Footsie became a regular because Rogers Hornsby was struggling to recover from heel spur surgery and then… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Highest OPS from the 7-hole, minimum 300 PA from that slot:

1.058 … Hartnett (1930)
1.000 … Harlond Clift (1935)
.993 … Dusty Baker (1977)
.991 … George Grantham (1925)
.967 … Hartnett ! (1928)
.957 … DiMaggio (Vince) (1941)

Clift raked at 7, but bounced around the order, sucking in every other slot.
He had 163 PA batting leadoff, with a .672 OPS

Baker, same.
227 PA batting 6th, .728 OPS

And Vince DiMag
250 PA batting 6th, .639 OPS

Doug
Guest

Blair and Cuyler in 1930, and English in 1929 all scored more than 50% of the time they reached base. Only one other Cub has done so since 1901: Rick Monday in 1976 and he swatted 32 homers.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Following up on the theme of what should count in Hall assessments — stats only or more subjective factors — I want to return to a theme Mike Hoban raised in an earlier “Friends of Frisch” post. Mike was speaking about Brock’s qualifications for the Hall and he said that, in his view, 3000 hits should be a sufficient criterion for enshrinement, regardless of anything else. He mentioned too that he’d support Ichiro for the Hall even though Ichiro did not reach the CAWS threshold. I think that’s a perfectly valid position. Since the Hall has not specified what the… Read more »
Richard Chester
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Rice’s season low of .293 BA is the highest such value for retired players with 10+ seasons. His 1 strike out per 33.7 AB is 6th best for players with 1000+ games. After he retired Clark Griffith offered Rice the opportunity to play until he reached 3000 hits but he turned down the offer because he did not want to go through the rigors of getting back in shape.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

That story about Griffith, which Rice told later, includes the fact that when he retired Rice didn’t have any idea of his total hits. If Rice’s statement that this was “a couple of years” after his retirement is accurate and means two years (1936), then he would have been 46 when the issue came up. I wonder whether the initial Hall vote in ’36 was the occasion upon which this sort of focus on milestones emerged.

Doug
Guest

Ty Cobb happened to get his 4000th hit playing against the Tigers in Detroit, with a first inning line drive that Harry Heilmann tried to catch with one hand, but had it glance off his glove for a double (some clues there about official scoring in those days). The milestone was noted in the Detroit press, but barely; most of the notice went to Heilmann’s 4 for 4 with a HR and two doubles, as the Tigers prevailed 5-3.

https://www.detroitathletic.com/blog/2013/11/18/no-hoopla-when-ty-cobb-got-his-4000th-hit/

Gary Bateman
Guest
I would put in a word for Earl Averill. 48.0 bWAR in just 13 years is fairly impressive in and of itself, but Averill could possibly have been a star several years before he was purchased by the Indians from San Francisco. He had three solid seasons with the Seals. The PCL always seemed to have players who became big league stars quickly after being sold to a ML club (DiMaggio, Gordon, Doerr), so it is not out of the question to expect Averill to contribute immediately for, say, his age 24,25 and 26 years. Granted, this is not quite… Read more »
Paul E
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Gary,
first 10 years, just like Ichiro, were from age 27-36. 137 OPS + for Averill; 117 for Suzuki. Apparently, Averill wrenched his back(?) and that was the end of it ?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
That’s an interesting angle on Averill, Gary. I hadn’t checked his pre-MLB career. Averill’s career path is a strange one. Apparently he started his pro career with the Seals — a very high level to break in at. He was already 24. Oddly, there is no SABR bio of him, and I can’t locate any information about why he started so late. With three years in S.F., he didn’t get to the Majors till he was almost 27, missing all the lead in to peak years. (He was, famously, from the West Coast, so he may not initially have been… Read more »
Doug
Guest
Averill apparently had no plans to pursue baseball after he was told in high school that he had a “dead” arm (no, he wasn’t a pitcher; apparently, he couldn’t make the throws from the outfield). So, he quit high school and worked various jobs. Played for local amateur teams for a few years (apparently his arm wasn’t dead) and was persuaded to try out for the Seattle PCL team. Didn’t make it, so back to local baseball for a couple more years, until the SF Seals finally spotted him and invited him to tryout (this time he made the team),… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Great find, Doug. This fills in what we’re missing because of the absence of a SABR bio. (The writer seems a little less familiar with baseball than we might expect: he calls Averill’s 1928 PCL total of 173 RBI “staggering,” apparently unaware of the long PCL schedule that let Averill compile that total over 189 games — but B-R doesn’t even have PCL RBI figures.)

no statistician but
Guest

Bill James, I believe, notes that Averill worked as a florist.

Mike L
Guest

Makes total sense, nsb. Averill showers bring May flowers. He played with Bob Seeds on the 1932 Indians
Late in his career he was traded to the Tigers, where, in 1939, he played with: Hank Greenberg, Birdie Tebbetts, Pete Fox, Dizzy Trout, and George Gill.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Hmmmm. Maybe we should consider a rule against doing damage to aging minds on Sunday mornings.

Mike L
Guest

Mine or yours? In 1940, he added teammates Scat Metha and Cotton Pippen…
I had to go to the office this morning. Damage had already been done….

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Mike, one more and I report you to the authorities.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
If I were to advocate for some of the 14 on nsb’s list, I think I’d start with Slaughter and Kiner. I think Slaughter’s is an easy case to make. By any measure he’s not far below the Hall threshold, and he lost his age 27-29 seasons to the War. His career WAR total is surely at least 10.0 lower than it would otherwise have been. There’s something of an anomaly in Slaughter’s record that I find interesting. Although he didn’t hit too many HR (169), he hit a lot of triples (148), leading the league twice (once at age… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
There’s one other player I think deserves extra consideration, which may compensate for his underwater status in the Hall of Stats: Max Carey. Carey is the closest to the HoS benchmark among the 14 outfielders up for discussion, and CAWS sees him as Hallworthy — just over the line. nsb earlier mentioned his ten stolen base championships, and that’s a large part of the reason I see Carey as more Hallworthy than, say, Averill, who sits just above him on my statistical list. The meaning “stolen base” didn’t reach its current profile until 1898. When Carey retired, he was third… Read more »
Doug
Guest
I kind of have a problem with the notion that a player “hung around too long”. If the team was willing to continue paying him, even after he was no longer producing value, seems to me that’s the team’s fault, not the player’s. Especially in those days, a player was just trying to make a living, so he’d be reluctant to retire until forced to by his team, or because of injury. So, maybe the rate stat part of the equation should be for the best 80%-90% of the player’s career, or some similar mechanism for throwing out the lowest… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
You’re perfectly correct. “Hung around too long” is relative to some things and not others. It’s principally relevant to the issue of career record and to whether the player was helping the team. Management sometimes prefers to keep a player past his productive time on the team because he may inspire younger players or, draw in crowds, or (today) be a lot cheaper to keep than to fire when you have to eat the contract. If management prefers to maximize revenues rather than maximize competitiveness, that’s its prerogative and the player is not to blame, but the decision and the… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Doug, In the rush of my initial quick series of postings on this string I managed to overlook your post addressing the same three guys I’ve talked about here. I spotted your comment a little while ago (a Wait . . . What? moment) and see I’ve more or less simply repeated some of your comments about Carey and Slaughter, failed to anticipate others, and written as though I’d ignored your comment on Kiner. Sorry!

Doug
Guest

np, Bob.

I wasn’t offended.

no statistician but
Guest
Bob: I’m going to play the devil’s advocate concerning Enos Slaughter, in spite of the fact that by my own reckoning he is as deserving of HOF status as anyone in this series. Why? Because I discovered by accident an interesting fact that bothers me about his long stint in St Louis: WAR rank among Cardinal POSITION players: 1938 Slaughter 6th (1.0 WAR),12th overall 1939 Slaughter 3rd (4.3) behind Mize (7.9) and Medwick (4.6), fourth overall 1940 Slaughter 3rd (3.9) behind Mize (7.4) and Terry Moore (4.4), fourth overall 1941 Slaughter 3rd (3.3) behind Mize (5.4) and Jimmy Brown (4.2),… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
It’s an interesting perspective, nsb (and I appreciate the work putting this list together). I’m not sure there’s too much traction in a comparison between Slaughter and Whitaker — Whitaker has a Hall of Stats rating of 145: he’s miles better than Slaughter, and I think no one here would argue otherwise. The fact that Whitaker isn’t in the Hall while Slaughter is is absurd — but someone has outlawed making an argument against Slaughter on that basis. As for Slaughter on the Cards, as you note, his seconds were distant, but they were distant to Stan Musial, a leading… Read more »
Gary Bateman
Guest

I would assume that Lombardi would win by a nose.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Nice. You know, if I remember correctly, in “Glory of Their Times,” Hans Lobert, who was known as a speedster, described how he raced a horse around the basepaths with the crowd placing bets. He reports that they said the horse won by a nose, but points to his own, Lombardi-like, nose, and says he thinks that most unlikely.

Paul E
Guest

Only if Carey was running backwards

Paul E
Guest

Here are Averill and Roush, in 1961, at the time of Roush’s induction into Cooperstown.
WAR, 51%+ G , CF, 1901 – 1961
1 Ty Cobb 151.0
2 Tris Speaker 134.1
3 Mickey Mantle 84.8
4 Joe DiMaggio 78.1
5 Willie Mays 77.0
6 Duke Snider 64.5
7 Richie Ashburn 61.8
8 Max Carey 54.0
9 Larry Doby 49.6
10 Earl Averill 48.0
11 Edd Roush 45.3

Everybody else is in above these two. I would suspect, without looking, that Whitaker and Trammell are probably somewhere, currently, in the same ballpark (10th-11th) at their respective positions.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I think Trammell is where you suspect him to be (11th), but Whitaker is higher up, about 7th. I’m not sure whether you’re saying Roush and Averill were a reasonable choices at the times of their vote or something else. In 1962 (which was Roush’s year; Averill’s was ’75, by which time players like Vada Pinson, Jimmy Wynn, Willie Davis were well ahead of him on this list), the Hall had about 90 total members; now it has about 330 — Trammell’s relative strength at his position is far greater than Roush’s was at his. When Roush was inducted, Carey… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob,
F W I W, I believe Roush was deemed the greatest Reds player ever with the 1969 baseball centennial celebration. Interestingly enough, I guess Frank Robinson was no longer a Redleg in spirit either? Who else would it be at that point? Frank McCormick?

Paul E
Guest

From Wikipedia (so, it’s gotta be true):
“In addition to Roush’s selection into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 (chosen with Bill McKechnie), he is also a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, inducted in 1960.

Considered the greatest player in Reds’ history at the time, Roush was invited to throw out the first ball at the last game at Crosley Field on June 24, 1970. Joe Morgan called Roush “the best of us all”
In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included Roush in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.”

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I recall Roush mentioning a vote of Cincinnati fans naming him the best of the Reds in “Glory of Their Times,” which was published in the mid-’60s. I would have thought Bucky Walters would have won out, but I guess Roush made more of a splash locally than we’d think today — plenty of people were alive who recalled the Reds of 1919, the first to win a pennant and Series, however tainted. I guess your first love always has priority. Roush had a very good stretch with the Reds, given that his strength, batting average, was what was most… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob,
“no distinction is made between the two classes.”
Correct. Mantle and Mays (Happy Birthday!!) are in the same Hall of Fame as Baines and Roush. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made the same mistake in residential lending 15 years ago when they gave the same interest rate to a 620 credit score as an 820. You saw what happened after that….Fortunately, the consequences of the inadequacies of Cooperstown aren’t as severe as the housing crisis of ten years ago

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I’d rather not go down the road of apparent parallel examples outside of baseball, Paul.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Jordan Luplow hit two homeruns yesterday in a five inning game.
I don’t know how to search to see if that’s been done before. The play index Does not allow for searches of a specific game length, as far as I can see.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Voomo, Although I can’t help on five-inning games, here’s a topper from Retrosheet:

“6/2/1976: Atlanta’s Earl Williams lost two home runs to rain in a game at Fulton County Stadium. He led off both the second and third innings with homers to left off the Padres’ Alan Foster. The game was called in the bottom of the fourth with the Braves ahead 5-0.”

Doug
Guest

The most home runs in a 5 inning game are 6, two by the Phillies and four by the Cubs, on Sep 19, 1997. No player had more than one.

Jeffrey Hammonds (May 30, 2001), Andre Thornton (May 6, 1986), Russ Nixon (Sep 9, 1958), Ralph Kiner (July 4, 1951), Hal Trosky (June 25, 1940) and Jimmie Foxx (Sep 7, 1938) all had two home runs in a 5-inning game (Hammonds’ and Kiner’s games were 5½ innings, but their homers came in the first 5 innings).

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Great! How did you search for this, Doug?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Not to downplay Voomo’s eagle eye for how MLB events occurring day to day now fit into baseball history (I don’t know how to search for multi-homer games that were rain-shortened either), I want to bypass his neat comment to add a point related to nsb’s project. While this pause in HHS has been extended, I’ve been thinking about ways to place nsb’s exercise in a larger perspective. nsb gave us a total of 70 names in his initial post, all players with sub-100 HoS scores who are in the real Hall. Ten were Friends of Frick, four had their… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I’m paying a penalty for not having my stat formulas under control. I overlooked the fact that the Hall of Stats already makes adjustments for schedule lengths.

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