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Pioneers/Executives

Pioneers and executives: Who are we still considering?

So who’s left among pioneers and execs? About two dozen people for the final five Hall of Miller and Eric plaques, and today I’m going to tell you a little about all of them. I’m also going to give you a status update on how the rest of our pioxec elections will go.

Turns out that we’ve whittled that number down over time from nearly 100 candidates to a quarter of that. The easy part is over. The degrees of difference between the remaining candidates are often either narrow or difficult to compare across divergent roles. Like this:

Executives

  • Team builders (aka: those who fill the role we’ve called General Manager for decades, but thanks to title inflation may have grander names for the role)
  • Team owners (who may also be team builders depending on what era we’re talking about)
  • League executives (Commissioners, League Presidents, etc)

Pioneers

They come in many forms, including HoME members (author and leader of the sabrmetric revolution), J. G. Taylor Spink (publisher), Frank Jobe (surgeon), and many more. In short, anyone whose innovations wrought important, lasting effects on the quality of play. Our remaining pioneers fall into these groups:

  • Coaches
  • Announcers
  • Publishers
  • Organizers

So let’s find out whose left, starting with the more conventional executive candidates.

General Managers

Sandy Alderson

Athletics 1982–1997, Mets 2010–2016
1671-1655, .502, +10 vs expected wins, +11 vs Pythagenpat wins

Special Note: Alderson is eligible for election through our initial 28 pioxec honorees because the electoral rules through 2016 allowed any sitting executive 65 or older to be eligible. Alderson was born very in 1947, so for 2016, he was 68. He will not be eligible again for us until 2018 because for 2017, the rule was changed so that sitting executives must be 70 or older.

Highlights

  • Architect of the Bash Brothers A’s
  • Good postseason record
    • 6 playoff appearances
    • 4 World Series appearances
    • 1 World Series championship
  • Hired Tony LaRussa
  • Important figure in sabrmetric history (hired and mentored Billy Beane and began introducing some player analysis to A’s)
  • Worked in MLB league office
  • CEO of San Diego Padres

Lowlights

  • Winning percentage of .502 is poor for our candidates
  • Poor trader; here are all his trades where either he or his opponent won by 10 or more WAR:

Won

  • 1987 (+16 WAR): Received Dan Rohn and Dennis Eckersley (16) for Brian Ginn, Mark Leone, and Dave Wilder (0)
  • 1989 (+21): Received Rickey Henderson (30) for Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk, and Luis Polonia (9)

Lost

  • 1984 (-25): Received Jose Rijo, Tim Birtsas, Eric Plunk, Jay Howell, and Stan Javier (6) for Bert Bradley and Rickey Henderson (31)
  • 1987 (-23): Received Matt Young and Bob Welch (9) for Alfred Griffin, Jay Howell, Kevin Tapani, and Wally Whitehurst (32)
  • 1987 (-14): Received Rick Honeycutt (3) for Tim Belcher (17)
  • 1987 (-37): Received Dave Parker (1) for Tim Birtsas and Jose Rijo (38)
  • 1991 (-13): Received Kevin Campbell (0) for Dave Veres (13)
  • 1996 (-10): Received Allen Battle, Jay Witasick, Bret Wagner, and Carl Dale (-1) for Todd Stottlemyre (9)
  • 1997 (-20): Received Blake Stein, Eric Ludwick, and T.J. Mathews (0) for Mark McGwire (20)

Joe Brown

Pirates 1955–1976, 1985
1816-1625 (.528), +48 vs. expected wins, -5 vs. Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Two World Series titles, and six post-season appearances
  • Architect of Pittsburgh’s 1970s dynasty that went to October five times in six years, with big influence on 1979 world champs
  • Consistently fielded contending teams over a long career
  • Super strong in signing impact amateur free agents, and opened up Latin America (Stargell, Oliver, Sanguillen, Alley, Clendenon, McBean, Stennet, Tekulve, Pena)

Lowlights

  • His taste in managers was pretty meh, overall -5 wins versus their Pythangenpat record
  • His 1960s Pirates took forever to break through despite an enviable core of Clemente, Stargell, Virdon, Mazeroski, Groat, Friend, Law, and Veale
  • 1970s Buccos didn’t win the World Series very often despite frequent October appearances. A series of poor trades in the 1967 offseason may have damaged the team’s ability to keep up with the western powerhouses; the results of those deals brought the team Juan Pizzaro, Maury Wills, and Jim Bunning (5 total WAR) in exchange for Wilbur Wood, Bob Bailey, Woodie Fryman, Don Money, and spare parts (108 total WAR)

Al Campanis

Dodgers 1968–1986
1576-1280, .552, +44 vs. expected wins, +8 vs. Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Third best winning percentage (.552) among post-war candidates
  • Good October resume
    • 6 playoff appearances plus 1980 one-game playoff loss to determine NL West winner vs Houston
    • 4 WS appearances
    • 1 title
  • His teams were virtually always in contention, and not just at the fringes; from 1969 to 1985 they finished 1st five times and 2nd nine times (three times within a single game of first place, once just 3.5 out and another 4.0 out), which is 14 of his 17 full seasons
  • His acquisitions formed the core of the 1988 World Series winners and transitioned from the Garvey Dodgers to the Hershiser Dodgers
  • Before being GM, was scouting director who helped Buzzie Bavasi draft Garvey, Lopes, Cey, and other core contributors to the 1970s–1980s dynasty

Lowlights

  • His racist comments on Nightline got him fired
  • Dodgers’ stupendous organization was in place before his promotion to GM and may have made his task easier than that of most of GMs

Frank Cashen

Orioles 1971–1975, Mets 1980–1991
1342–1177, .533, +27 vs. expected wins, -1 vs. Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Built the lowly Mets into World champs, including drafting Strawberry and Gooden and dealing for Carter, Hernandez, Darling, Fernandez, Cone, HoJo
  • In Baltimore, helped lay foundation for 1979 O’s and 1983 O’s:
    • Drafted Eddie Murray, Mike Flanagan, and Rich Dauer
    • Signed Dennis Martinez
    • Traded for Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez

Lowlights

  • Contributed very little to 1973–1974 AL East winners (just 12% and 13% of their WAR was acquired by him)
  • Was more a caretaker with the Orioles: Singleton trade and Torrez deal happened before his last season there and were only impact moves that affected them during his tenure

Harry Dalton

Orioles 1965–1971, Angels 1971–1977, Brewers 1977–1991
2175-1965, .525, +64 vs. expected wins, +9 vs. Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Good October resume:
    • Made playoffs 4 times
    • Made World Series 5 times
    • Won World Series twice
  • 64 wins vs expected is very strong
  • Hired Earl Weaver
  • Was scouting director for Orioles in early 1960s and literally wrote the book on the Oriole Way, creating important infrastructure for the Oriole dynasty of the late 1960s and 1970s

Lowlights

  • Managers he hired in California and Milwaukee weren’t very good
  • Contributions to Orioles dynasty weren’t especially huge because Lee MacPhail had laid the groundwork. His acquisitions never accumulated more than 40% of the team’s WAR
  • The famed Frank Robinson trade wasn’t really his trade; as Lee MacPhail’s last act as Orioles GM, he set the swap up then left it to Dalton to give the final approval upon taking office
  • Wasn’t very effective in California
  • Contributions to California and Milwaukee playoff teams weren’t very strong either
  • Didn’t have much of a transition plan in Milwaukee once core of Yount, Molitor, Cooper (none of whom he acquired) aged out or left

Barney Dreyfuss

Louisville Colonels 1899–1900, Pirates 1900–1929, 1931
2701-2101, .562, +28 vs. expected, +111 vs. Pythagenpat

Highlights

  • Built the Pirates dynasty of the 1900s and mini-dynasty of the 1920s, the latter a complete rebuild
  • Amazing eye for talent
  • His winning percentage of .562 is third only to Barrow and Schuerholz among GMs we’ve tracked, and he has more wins (2701) than anyone but Rickey (3265) and Griffith (2967)
  • Strong post-season record
    • 6 World Series appearances or pennants (the latter prior to 1903)
    • 4 World Series wins or best-possible championship (prior to 1903)
  • Outstanding taste in managers: Fred Clarke and Bill McKechnie
  • Teams nearly always in contention
  • Key figure in the deadball era who served as league president

Lowlights

  • The complete rebuild for the 1920s likely precipitated by his hanging on to his aging core too long; rebuild didn’t get underway until nearly a decade after 1909’s championship and four years in the wilderness, including a 103 loss (.331 win percentage) year in 1917
  • It was far easier to achieve a high winning percentage 100+ years ago
  • Wins vs. expectation is quite low (28) for a good GM
  • He let go of 920 WAR of value, second only to Branch Rickey who GM’ed about 1500 more games
  • Dreyfuss probably rostered as many good or great players as anyone ever, but he frequently bought them around age 20, they struggled a year or two, and he sold or cut them, then they went on to star elsewhere. These are just those with 20+ WAR after leaving Dreyfuss’ teams:
    • Rube Waddell: 4.4 IN / 53.6 OUT
    • Terry Turner: 0.1 IN / 38.9 OUT
    • Cy Falkenberg: -0.9 IN / 21.6 OUT
    • Hans Lobert: -0.1 IN / 22.7 OUT
    • George McBride: 0.1 IN / 20 OUT
    • Red Faber: 0 IN / 64.9 OUT
    • Sherry Smith: -0.4 IN / 26.7 OUT
    • Dazzy Vance: -0.2 IN / 60.1 OUT
    • High Pockets Kelly: -0.4 IN / 27.2 OUT
    • Burleigh Grimes: 0 IN / 35.9 OUT
    • Joe Cronin: 0.1 IN / 66.3 OUT

Chub Feeney

Giants 1947–1969
1956-1655, .542, +64 vs expected wins, +14 vs Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Winning percentage is very good
  • Strong contributions to important Giants teams:
  • 50% of WAR earned by 1951 World Series team were by players he acquired
  • 1954 champs were 89% his guys
  • 1962 WS team was 100% his guys
  • 1971 playoff squad, two years after his departure, was 84% his guys
  • Nearly always fielded a competitive team
  • Expert at signing your talent with numerous HoME-level talents (Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Perry, Davenport, Alou brothers, Bonds, Dietz, Hart)
  • Early adopter of integration gave him a strong competitive advantage (Irvin, Thompson)
  • Added Alex Pompez to Giants’ scouting network, opening Caribbean and Negro Leagues to the Giants
  • Hired Leo Durocher
  • NL President after GM career

Con

  • Despite the high winning percentage, his teams only made the World Series 3 times and won just once
  • Beginning in 1958 or 1959, he went on perhaps the worst extended trade fiasco of any GM. He traded away 300 WAR and got back only 83. This likely crippled the long-term chances at a dynasty. While the 1962 Giants made the World Series, they continually played bridesmaid for the rest of the decade, and having some of that value back would have made a huge difference and probably cost him pennants in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1969

Charlie Finley

Owner A’s 1961–1982
GM 1962–1980
1488-1577, .485, -14 vs expected wins, -17 vs Pythagenpat wins

Highlight

  • Great postseason record
    • 5 Playoff appearances
    • 3 WS appearances
    • 3 WS wins
  • Completely rebuilt A’s from laughing stock franchise into a dynasty using draft and amateur free agents
  • When stars all left after 1976 and 1977, completely destroying the team, his drafting allowed the team to return to the playoffs by 1981
  • Despite low winning percentage, teams were in contention about as often as other GMs we’ve looked at
  • Hired Dick Williams and later Billy Martin

Lowlights

  • Record below .500
  • Poor wins vs expectation (-14)
  • Worst Pythagenpat too (-17)
  • He was by all accounts an asshole penny pincher, which, when free agency arrived, meant all his good players bolted as quickly as possible
  • He fumbled away Catfish by missing an annuity payment

A note
There is some distortion in Finley’s record that we should be aware of. He inherited an absolutely abysmal team, the Arnold Johnson A’s who in the late 1950s routinely dealt all their good players to the Yankees for a few sleeves of peanuts. Prior to Finley’s arrival, the A’s had managed a single winning season since 1950, and it was a .513 year. Since then, they’d played .388 ball, which in 162 notation is 63-99. The A’s won 61 games in Finley’s first year, then 72 and 73 as he learned how to acquire players. He realized that crappy vets wouldn’t help him contend, so he dispensed them and won 57 and 59 games in 1964 and 1965. From there, things progressed as we know. 1961–1965 happened, no denying. But the talent he inherited was that bad, in fact, -40 of his poor wins vs expected come from 1961 to 1965.

Bob Howsam

Cardinals 1964–1967, Reds 1967–1978, 1983–1984
1331-1049, .559, +63 vs expected wins, +44 vs Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • From 1970–1981, Reds finished 1st seven times, 2nd three times, 3rd once, 4th once, and one second and the third were after he was no longer GM
  • Very good Octobers:
    • 5 playoff appearances
    • 4 WS appearances
    • 2 WS wins
  • Outstanding winning percentage
  • Excellent performance against expected Wins (+63 in relatively short career)
  • Hired Sparky Anderson, leading to excellent +44 against pypat
  • Moderate-strong to strong contributions to four October teams:
    • 1973: 59%
    • 1975: 65%
    • 1976: 70%
    • 1979: 90% (he was promoted after 1977)
    • Also, 91% of 1981 team with best overall record in MLB (though split-season format kept them out of playoffs)

Lowlights

  • Short career
  • Had a strong core to begin with, though, he did a good job of transitioning around core departures

Walt Jocketty

Cardinals 1994–2007, Reds 2007–2016
1834-1709, .518, +31 vs expected wins, +6 vs Pthagenpat wins

Special note: Jocketty is eligible for election through our initial 28 pioxec honorees because the electoral rules through 2016 allowed any sitting executive 65 or older to be eligible. Jocketty was born in 1951. He will not be eligible again for us until 2021 because for 2017, the rule was changed so that sitting executives must be 70 or older.

Highlights

  • Good postseason numbers
    • 10 appearances
    • 2 World Series appearances
    • 1 World Series win
  • Long-tailed contributions to Cards playoff teams
    • 2009: 91% of the team’s WAR was earned by players he originally acquired
    • 2011: 65% (World Series champs)
    • 2012: 46%
    • 2013: 34%
    • 2014: 29%
    • 2015: 12%
  • Strong record of transactions in St. Louis
    • Hired Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan
    • Signed or drafted youngsters Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Matt Morris
    • Signed or traded for impact veterans: Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Adam Wainwright, Edgar Renteria

Lowlights

  • Reds have run aground under his watch
  • Overall winning percentage is low among candidates

Lee MacPhail

Orioles 1958–1965, Yankees 1966-1974
1181-1036, .533, +54 vs expected wins, +31 vs Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Accelerated O’s build in late 1950s and early 1960s into a powerhouse
  • Rebuilt the Yankees after their mid-1960s collapse
  • Wins vs expected and Pythagenpat are good for his career lenth
  • May deserve credit for F-Rob trade since he set it up and left it for Dalton to pull the switch on
  • Biggest influence on O’s dynasty:
    • 1966 O’s: 62% WAR from his acquisitions
    • 1969 O’s: 52%
    • 1970 O’s: 60%
    • 1971 O’s: 59%
    • 1973 O’s: 44%
    • 1974 O’s: 35%
  • Well-reputed AL President

Con

  • Relatively short career (shorter than Howsam’s)
  • Never made it to October on his own watch, and had lots of time to do so
  • Both O’s and, especially, Yanks took a long time to gel, and Yanks needed more talent from Gabe Paul to break through

Dick O’Connell

Red Sox 1966–1977
1042-892, .539, +58 vs expected wins, +29 vs Pythagepenpat wins

Highlights

  • Turned a mediocre franchise into a model of scouting/development, leading to two decades of competitiveness…amazing drafter and acquirer of young talent (Boggs, Evans, Rice, Lynn, Gedman, Lee, Hurst, Fisk, Burleson, Stanley)
  • Super strong vs expected wins (+59 in fewer than 2000 games)
  • Hired Dick Williams
  • Contributions to important Sox teams had long tail:
    • 1975 was 94% his
    • 1978 was 74% his
    • 1986 was 57% his
    • 1988 was 40% his
    • 1990 was 15% his
  • His teams were nearly always competitive

Lowlights

  • Short career
  • Just a terrible trader (though he limited the number of trades he made, and he rarely traded a core player)
  • Teams didn’t make October all that often, inability to make better trades probably meant he couldn’t put the team over the top
  • Or, in other words, for a short career candidate, he doesn’t have a lot of trophies to show for it

John Quinn

Braves 1945–1958, Phillies 1958–1972
2147-2126, .502, +20 vs expected wins, -7 vs Pythagenpat wins

Highlights

  • Architect of Spahn-and-Sain Braves
  • Then transitioned them into the Aaron/Mathews/Spahn Braves
  • Turned around struggling Phillies and got them this close to the 1964 World Series
  • Acquired second-most WAR of any GM we’ve studied
  • Did amazing work to acquire young players (Aaron, Mathews, Niekro, Crandall, Logan, Allen, Schmidt, Bowa)
  • Phillies were nearly unintegrated when he arrived, and he got them moving strongly in that direction
  • Acquired Steve Carlton for Phillies
  • Strong and long-tailed contributions to October teams
    • 1948 Braves: 69%
    • 1957 Braves: 87%
    • 1958 Braves: 90%
    • 1959 Braves: 85% (one-game playoff, left Braves after 1958)
    • 1969 Braves: 38%
    • 1976 Phils: 39% (left Phils in midst of 1972)
    • 1977 Phils: 57%
    • 1978 Phils: 64%
    • 1980 Phils: 44%
    • 1981 Phils: 56%
    • 1982 Braves: 19% (yeah, seriously, Phil Niekro)
    • 1983 Phils: 34%

Cons

  • Merely a .502 record
  • He left the Phils’ MLB team in rough shape (the famous Steve Carlton and 24 other guys season)
  • Post-season record is unexceptional
  • He was only +20 against expectations, and that’s not good compared to our others
  • Worse yet is the -7 pypat
  • He hired Fred Haney who mismanaged the Braves in 1959 (after Quinn’s departure) into a tie with LA that led to a play-in game that the Braves lost
  • His Phillies started Dick Allen out in the minors in some southern-based leagues in 1961, a bad idea, and Bill James, for one, claims that this may have negatively affected Allen

League Officials

Bud Selig

Commissioner of MLB 1992–2015

We recently went over his case in some detail, and here’s what we wrote:

MILLER: [Selig] forced interleague play into the game. Yuck! He made the All-Star Game worth something, so the ads say. But the game is actually as unimportant as ever. He expanded the playoffs, which I hated. But then he added the second wild card. That one-game playoff is exciting. And it’s the crapshoot that’s deserved by those who don’t win their division.

But there a huge reason that Selig rises above many others for me. He was placed in a Commissioner position unlike any before him. He wasn’t given the job to look out for the best interests of the game. Rather, he was put in there to make the most money possible for the game’s owners. And that he did. Has there ever been anyone who’s brought as much money into the game as Bud?

ERIC: Money. If that’s the best thing about Bud Selig, then he’s got issues. The reality of baseball as a business has a curious relationship with the Hall of Fame. I don’t recall any plaque that mentions money, revenues, licensing, concessions, or gate receipts. Lots of mentions of winning championships and personal achievements. Some pioneer and executive plaques talk about improvements of the experience for fans or innovations that made the game stronger.

And Selig has some of those innovations. During his tenure, MLB Advanced Media grew and thrived. It now leads all sports in providing a more immersive, interactive online connection with the game. A big plus for baseball overall. Though it’s hard for me to imagine that an octogenarian used-car salesman had much of a hand in creating something steeped in contemporary technology.

But very few of his accomplishments came without a dark side to them. And that dark side was always about one thing…grabbing more money from players, from fans, from taxpayers, from any pocket in sight.

Take the boom in new ballparks. Baseball rebuilt its entire infrastructure during the Bud era. And in municipality after municipality, the commissioner rode into town and talked about how the team would have to move if there wasn’t a new ballpark paid for mostly if not entirely by the city and regional taxpayers. To create leverage for this ruse, Selig had to badmouth his own product and make empty threats about contracting teams. If I ever hear the word “disparity” from him again, I might go postal. All this just before and after expanding the league! If so many viable markets were queued up to embrace a team on the move, why haven’t we seen more interest in relocation or further expansion? The move to Washington made sense, but what huge market has had a hankering for baseball since? To sell these stadia he also made claims about community financial benefits that economists have found dubious.

A nasty undercurrent of dishonesty and dissembling pervaded much of what Selig said in public. His stern position on steroids after years of ignoring them and lapping up the beaucoup bucks from fans who dig homers. Crying poverty while baseball busted the billion-dollar revenue mark and signed players to big contracts. Claiming people loved interleague games when attendance figures suggested otherwise.

Selig also had terrible taste in friends, and his favoritism has led to on-field issues. Jeffrey Loria is among the very worst owners in sports today, and it was Bud who welcomed him to the fold. Loria ran the once proud Expos into the ground before the smoke-and-mirrors deal that gave him the Marlins. In Miami he pulled the same routine until the city capitulated to a stadium deal, despite county voters first rejecting it. Now he runs the team at a profit by sucking off revenue sharing money and chronically underfunding team payroll. All this while acting like a tyrant, churning through managers, and behaving like a petty tyrant.

Then there was Frank McCourt. His purchase of one of the Dodgers, one of baseball’s crown-jewel franchises, in 2004 was almost entirely debt-leveraged. He proved an utter embarrassment to the game and the team in both his very public divorce proceedings, which laid bare how he mismanaged the team, and the over-extravagant lifestyle he led. All this despite the team raising ticket prices each year of his reign to service its debt. There was also a scandal in which a close friend was paid about a quarter of the funds of the McCourt Foundation to be its executive officer. (McCourt himself was required to pay back $100,000 dollars of that money.)

And then there’s the Wilpons. Bud allowed them to carry a debt load much higher than the league’s ownership rules allow. This meant he was supporting beneficiaries of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Bernie was a good friend of the Wilpons, so wink-wink. The Mets, a successful franchise situated in the nation’s largest metro area, had to shed payroll like crazy and are still hamstrung by the Wilpons’ debt issues.

Meanwhile, thanks to the anti-trust exemption, Bud and his cronies have denied Mark Cuban a chance to buy in. He’s been highly successful in other sports, but, you know, he calls a spade a spade, and owners shouldn’t make waves. Just ask model citizens McCourt, Loria, and Wilpon.

Let’s not forget that Selig was one of the hardline owners associated with the 1986–1988 collusion cases. He was at it again in the 2002–2003 collusion case, and probably in the blackballing of Barry Bonds.

The question isn’t whether Bud Selig was good for baseball. On the whole he likely was. But does he rise to the level of a Hall of Famer? No one is Ghandi in the back rooms of baseball, but Selig seemed like either a snake oil salesman or a mere tool of the owners. In the former case, I’m not buying. In the latter case, why would I buy? In any case, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the money argument.

MILLER: I think we’re just going to have to disagree here. Selig was the first baseball Commissioner whose job is was to make the owners money. Did he hold cities hostage? Maybe. But baseball makes them money. Did he build on the backs of the players? Hardly, they’re making millions. Did he hurt the fan? Attendance says he didn’t.

Team Owners

Walter O’Malley

Dodgers 1950–1979

Highlights

  • During his ownership, the Dodgers were a powerhouse:
    • 3 League Championship Series appearances
    • 11 World Series appearances
    • 4 World Series appearances
  • Architect of 40 years of success; articulated a strong vision for success through stability and quality, ultimately known as The Dodger Way, which was essentially vertical integration because the team scouted and developed so much talent that it rarely needed to acquire top-line talent from outside the organization
  • The organization was so strong and stable that in the ten years after Walter’s death, the team went to four more League Championship Series, leading to two more World Series titles
  • Hires included Buzzie Bavasi, Walter Alston, Al Campanis
  • The driving force behind MLB’s move west, which opened the game to more fans, and which also supported subsequent expansion

Lowlights

  • If you’re from Brooklyn, I guess he’s not your favorite

Sam Breadon

Cardinals 1920–1947

Highlights

  • The Ruppert to Rickey’s Barrow
    • 9 NL pennants
    • 6 World Series titles
    • .570 winning percentage during his ownership
  • Created a crown jewel franchise from a laughing stock
  • Promoted Branch Rickey to GM from field manager/GM, which allowed the Mahatma to focus on acquiring talent
  • Put the cards on sound financial footing by dismantling their firetrap ballpark, selling the land for $275,000, signing a lease to play in Sportsman’s Park, all of which allowed the team to pay off its debts and have positive cash flow
  • Went with Rickey’s farm system idea, bankrolling both the purchase of teams and the purchase of players
  • Hired Bill McKechnie, Billy Southworth, Eddie Dyer, and other successful managers

Lowlights

  • Latter-day feuding with Branch Rickey (early 1940s) may have stripped the Cards of their most important off-field asset.

Pioneers

Robert Davids

Highlights

  • Founded in 1971 the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)
  • Began rich tradition of providing journal outlets for baseball research, including some of the earliest publications of information on the Negro Leagues
  • Ran SABR out of his home during its earliest days and nurtured its growth
  • SABR has influenced the entire game of baseball thanks to its statistical researches, but it has also influenced how baseball is reported and written about, what topics in baseball are written about, and has supplied the world with numerous authors and, in the last decade or so, has supplied major league baseball with analysts.

Pete Palmer

Highlights

  • Compiler of the most thorough and accurate database of baseball statistics, which serves as the basis for numerous encyclopedias, websites, and research projects
  • Co-author of the seminal sabrmetric classic The Hidden Game of Baseball
  • Co-editor of Total Baseball, the BBREF of its day…on paper
  • Co-publisher Total Sports
  • Creator of Linear Weights statistic, the foundation of the most important analytical stats in use today

John Thorn

Highlights

  • Co-author of the seminal classic in Sabrmetrics The Hidden Game of Baseball
  • Co-editor of Total Baseball, the BBREF of its day…on paper
  • Co-publisher Total Sports
  • Official historian of Major League Baseball

Announcers

Vin Scully

Dodgers, 1950–2016

  • Of course!

Coaches

Dave Duncan
Charlie Lau
Leo Mazzone
Johnny Sain

So, the reality here is that our researches are ongoing, but we’ve narrowed down to these four coaches. We are beginning the process now of looking for any statistical evidence of their effectiveness. That is, easy-to-spot stuff, you know, big flashing red neon lights. Then we have to assess whether they meet the criteria of pioneer, because they sure ain’t execs. But this is actually going to take us a while for reasons we’ll describe at a later date. Which means that we can only elect through our 24th pioneer/executive until we finish the coaches. Which leads us to our status update….

Status Update

Because of the data we need to dig up for the coaches, we are going to take a little break from electing into this wing. For the next several weeks, we hope to entertain and edify you, dear reader, with another kind of status update. This time it’s our annual look at how much active players and managers helped (or hurt) their case for the Hall of Miller and Eric. We’ll go position by position (with pitchers broken into lefty starters, righty starters, and relievers). After that, it’ll be Hall of Fame ballot time, and soon after that, VC results analysis. But we’ll be back cranking on these folks shortly after all that.

 

 

 

 

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Discussion

One thought on “Pioneers and executives: Who are we still considering?

  1. Great stuff guys, I shared a link at the Hall of Merit, but Jim Albright has done some great work on contributor value quantification:
    http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?126921-Albright-s-Musings-v-2-0&p=2546864#post2546864

    Vin Scully seems like the obvious first choice if you were to induct an announcer, he’s legendary.

    I recently became convinced on Johnny Sain, he had a fine playing career (too bad WWII interrupted this) and was an excellent coach.

    Posted by Ryan | April 2, 2017, 3:40 pm

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Institutional History

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