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1916, Results

1916 HoME Election Results

Congratulations to our fourth class of inductees: George Davis, Bill Dahlen, Buck Ewing, Old Hoss Radbourn, and Amos Rusie for gaining entrance to the Hall of Miller and Eric with our 1916 election.

The HoME is now populated with 16 of the greatest players in the game’s history.

Per our rules, all five had to be named on both ballots for induction. Let’s look to see how we voted.

Rank

Miller Eric

1

George Davis George Davis

2

Bill Dahlen Bill Dahlen

3

Old Hoss Radbourn Buck Ewing

4

Buck Ewing Amos Rusie

5

Amos Rusie Old Hoss Radbourn

6

George Wright

7

Jesse Burkett

8

Paul Hines

9

Charlie Bennett

10

Ross Barnes

George Davis is easily a top-ten shortstop in big-league history – think more of Ripken and Yount than Larkin and Trammell. He put up over 1500 runs scored and 1400 runs batted in to go with over 2600 hits. Plus, he was a very impressive defender. His career WAR total is bested by only 31 hitters in the game’s history, and he outclasses the likes of Ken Griffey, Brooks Robinson, and Joe DiMaggio on that list. Notably, he was once traded straight up for fellow Hall of Famer and HoMEr Buck Ewing, and he was baseball’s first man to triple and homer in the same inning.

Bill Dahlen may not be in the Hall, and won’t have another chance until the Pre-Integration Era Committee reconvenes in 2015, but he finds his way into the HoME on the first ballot. The longtime National Leaguer spent parts of 21 seasons in the bigs and ranks 45th on the all-time WAR list for position players right between Paul Molitor and Johnny Bench, guys you might have heard of. He placed in the top-five in the NL in WAR five times, and for those who want more conventional numbers, if a bit obscure, he held the all-time record for games played when he retired, he still holds the all-time record for total chances by a shortstop, and he has the longest hitting streak by a right handed hitter in NL history. He’s a worthy addition to the HoME.

Buck Ewing is the best catcher of the 19th century and likely the best before Gabby Hartnett. He combined great defense, adept base running, and an outstanding bat with endurance behind the plate at a time when the position was almost unimaginably hard to play without getting hurt. A catcher who can both lead the league in home runs (1893) and in triples (1894) is a rare player indeed. His WAR total, just thirteenth among catchers, underrates his ability. None of the twelve catchers ahead of him played in as few games. In fact, no catcher in baseball history has more WAR per 100 games played. Only Mickey Cochrane and Johnny Bench are close.

Old Hoss Radbourn was likely the best pitcher in the game from 1881-1885. The highlight of his career was the 1884 season during which he won an astounding 59 games for the Providence Grays. Overall, he managed 309 wins in just 11 major league seasons. Among pitchers, his WAR total is 29th, right between Tom Glavine and Don Sutton, two pitchers who were in the majors for a decade more than Hoss. And only seven pitchers in history averaged more WAR per year than Radbourn.

Amos Rusie is one of the players on that made up list. He’s immediately in front of Radbourne in seventh place. In only nine full seasons, “The Hoosier Thunderbolt” managed 246 wins and five strikeout titles. Like Radbourn, he had a five-year stretch where one could argue he was the game’s best – 1890-1894. After the 1898 season, the Giants wanted to cut his salary, so he sat out – for two years. Before he made it back in 1901 he made his final contribution to the Giants when he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds in what might have been the most lopsided trade in the game’s history. For the Reds, he pitched 22 innings without a win and then retired. The man the Giants got for him pitched for 17 seasons and accumulated 373 wins. That man, of course, was Christy Mathewson.

Each season, some guys are elected, while others receive votes from only one of us. Below we’ll explain our reasons for such votes

Miller: With all of my votes being seconded this election, I don’t need to lobby for any candidates going forward.

Eric:

George Wright: Part of me wonders if I’d be electing too many SS in the 1800s if I take Wright. Then I am reminded that the NL had no SS worth a damn between Ernie Banks and Ozzie Smith. Waves hit and they go back out to sea as well. Wright was the best player in the country by contemporary and historical acclimation. He was excellent in the early professional era, if not the equal of Rosco Barnes. His career is longer than Barnes’, which gives me a little more confidence in voting for him than voting for Barnes.

Jesse Burkett: One of the most prolific singles and triples hitters of all-time, he was the Billy Williams of his era. That means he’s right in the meat of left fielders historically – neither one of the best of the best, nor anywhere near the borderline. Even this early in the process, it’s safe to commit to players not near the HoME borderline at their positions.

Paul Hines: He’s Deacon White in centerfield, and the best CF before Billy Hamilton. Since CF is a little more packed with talent than 3B, he’s not quite as high on the all-time CF lists as White at 3B. But that’s baseball for you. The impressiveness of his longevity and performance is masked by the length of the schedules in his day. And perhaps overshadowed by the extreme longevity of Cap Anson and Jim O’Rourke.

Charlie Bennett: He’s an iron-man behind the plate whose bat would have played at any other position as well. His greatness is often overlooked due to what appears to be a paucity of games played. However, catcher really beat a guy up back then, and he routinely either led the league in games caught or was among the leaders. If you catch that much you probably won’t be fit to play elsewhere. But if you don’t catch that much you might not be considered a catcher…like King Kelly!

Ross Barnes: All the outward indicators point to an amazing player who absolutely crushed his league for six consecutive years. I like that a lot, and I need to see it if we’re talking about a time when the level of play was in the infancy of its ever-upward trajectory. The short career is not ideal, but he remained an average player after his salad days, so he obviously was able to come down a long way to stay productive.

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Please visit our Honorees page to see their plaques and to see more information about the HoME and those who have been elected.

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Discussion

6 thoughts on “1916 HoME Election Results

  1. Considering he died so young, what are your thoughts on Addie Joss against the other candidates from 1916?

    Posted by Lucas | August 13, 2013, 4:24 pm
    • Thanks for your question, Lucas. One of the critical components of the HoME is that we only evaluate what actually happened. As such, we don’t speculate on what might have been for Joss or anyone else. Even so, there are at least two things that might hold Joss back. First, though he compiled 4 WAR or more every year of his career but his last, he just didn’t dominate. He was only in the top-5 in WAR for pitchers three times. Furthermore, if we consider only the years during which he pitched and no other seasons, there are four pitchers better and another half dozen who are in the conversation. The second real issues is that his career hit the skids not because of his premature death but because of an elbow issue he had in 1910. Might he have been great into his 30s had he not been stricken with tuberculosis meningitis, or whatever it was? Perhaps. But perhaps the elbow injury would have done in his career by itself.

      Posted by Miller | August 13, 2013, 4:43 pm
  2. Lucas, MOD! Great to hear from you, thanks for following along.

    Joss has miniscule ERAs, but it belies some underlying issues of context .
    -He allowed more about 55 more unearned runs than a league average pitcher.
    -His defensive support was about two-tenths of a run better per nine innings than average (Nap Lajoie and Elmer Flick were teammtes of Joss’).
    -Even his park was mildly pitcher friendly.
    (All taken from bb-ref.)

    Take it all together, and despite an ERA 42% better than his leagues, Joss saved “only” 25% more runs than average. About the same as Rube Waddell. The problem for Joss is that Waddell hurled 600 more innings. Lop off Rube’s 600 worst innnigs, and he saves about 260 more runs than an average pitcher. Joss saves “just” 197 in the same number of innings (about 75% as many as Waddell). And Joss couldn’t hit a lick….just like Waddell actually!

    So far, for me Waddell is near the borderline as a candidate, and Joss is a good bit behind him. So I read Joss as below the line where I would consider a vote for him.

    Posted by eric | August 13, 2013, 6:00 pm
  3. Thanks for the quick responses. I probably should have phrased my question better. I guess I was more trying to see how you guys would weigh career stats for guys with short careers, like Joss, but your explanations more than clarify. Looking forward to the next election.

    Posted by Lucas | August 14, 2013, 10:59 am
  4. Lucas, I can only speak for me, but the sidebar post about starting pitcher peaks during the 1921 election cycle actually staked out my ground on the peak/career question. I informally reckoned peak to be worth about 10% more to me than career value is.

    For someone like Joss, whose only calling card is peak value, he’s got to have a strong peak to offset the short career. Alas for him, he does not. We run into this Ross Barnes: 9 seasons, 6 as the best player in his league, 1 in the top 3 or 5, 2 as averageish, one bad year. For me that’s enough because the peak value is huge. But for others it might not be. Somewhere between Joss and Barnes is the dividing line.

    Posted by eric | August 15, 2013, 9:30 pm

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