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Negro Leagues

Evaluating More Negro Leagues Pitchers, Part 7

Not even Yadier Molina takes as many trips to the mound as we are in this long series of articles on Negro Leaguers. Today we’ll get our signs straight with Eustaquio Pedroso, Cannonball Dick Redding, and Carlos Royer (we promised you Wee Willie Powell, but actually, we’d rather wait until more data for him becomes available). If you want to take a trip to the boring zone, we beckon you to read all about our Major League Equivalencies (MLEs) for Negro Leagues pitchers.

Eustaquio Pedroso

Either he was a great hitting pitcher or a poor hitting corner man. Somehow that feels like a Groucho one liner when I hear it in my head. Pedroso veered back and forth between the mound and the corners being great at neither, but at least average as a pitcher and a batter, iffy in the field, and overall a below-average position player. So let’s focus today on his pitching.

We’re seeing Pedroso as a pretty durable righty (5’11”, 200 pounds) with a few very good years, some averageish years, and some horrid years. Ultimately he’s not a great candidate, but as a two-way guy, he’s interesting.

Eustaquio Pedroso
Negro Leagues Stats | Bio
Career: 1907–1926
Destination: NL 1907–1922
               PITCHING          |  BATTING    |  TOTAL
YEAR  AGE   IP  RAA   WAA   WAR  |  PA    WAR  |   WAR
========================================================
1907   20  100    0   0.0   1.0  |   33   0.2  |   1.1 
1908   21  200  - 5  -0.6   1.3  |   67   0.4  |   1.7 
1909   22  260   10   1.3   3.8  |   87   0.5  |   4.3 
1910   23  250   24   2.9   5.3  |   83   0.4  |   5.7 
1911   24  310  -24  -2.4   0.9  |  103   0.6  |   1.5 
1912   25  300   14   1.5   4.6  |  100   0.5  |   5.1 
1913   26  300   12   1.4   4.4  |  100   0.6  |   5.0 
1914   27  310   15   1.8   4.8  |  103   0.7  |   5.5 
1915   28  300   13   1.6   4.5  |  100   0.6  |   5.1 
1916   29  250    1   0.1   2.5  |   83   0.5  |   3.0 
1917   30  200    4   0.5   2.4  |   67   0.4  |   2.8
1918   31  180  - 1  -0.1   1.7  |   60   0.3  |   2.0
1919   32  200  - 7  -0.8   1.1  |   67   0.4  |   1.5
1920   33  100  -11  -1.2  -0.1  |   33   0.2  |   0.0 
1921   34   20  - 8  -0.7  -0.5  |    7   0.0  |  -0.5
1922   35   10  - 4  -0.3  -0.2  |    3   0.0  |  -0.2
------------------------------------------------------- 
TOTAL     3290   35   4.9  37.4  | 1096   6.4  |  43.8
 
Hypothetical MLB career rankings (1871–1960) 
Innings pitched: 51st 
Pitching Wins Above Average: 283rd
Pitching Wins Above Replacement: 105th  
Total Wins Above Replacement (pitchers only): 79th

Worth noting before we move on: Pedroso didn’t pitch from 1918 to 1920, or at least not in the data on the Negro Leagues Database. If he hurt his arm or what have you, we may want to consider ending his career before or during his stretch. He did actually pitch from 1921 to 1926, but he stank it up.

Cannonball Dick Redding

I’ve probably only mentioned 154 times now that I am a participant in the Hall of Merit project over at Baseball Think Factory. Dick Redding has been eligible for election over there for roughly 80 years. In that time, many voters have check his box, but not me. For years, he looked to me like a low WAA, high-innings pitcher, and that’s not a pitcher that excites me. Early Wynn and Red Ruffing required great bats to get my vote.

I think I’m going to change my mind about Dick Redding.

After doing all the stuff I do to adjust this that and the other, Redding comes out looking like a heavy favorite to get a vote. To be fully transparent, he’s not a competitor for the best Negro Leagues pitcher ever. He’s got Satch, Smokey Joe, and Bullet Rogan clearly in front of him. Only Martén Dihgio is close behind. That’s true also when we remove batting and look only at pitching WAA and WAR. This list is ranked by Wins Above Average:

  1. Paige: 70.9 WAA, 119.8 WAR
  2. Williams: 63.7 WAA, 114.6 WAR
  3. Rogan: 49.0 WAA, 91.3 WAR
  4. Redding: 42.4 WAA, 91.5 WAR
  5. Mendéz: 39.7 WAA, 62.6 WAR
  6. Foster: 37.8 WAA, 70.4 WAR
  7. Dihigo: 32.1 WAA, 75.9 WAR

Redding wasn’t a pathetic hitter at all, in fact he translates to a bit above average for a pitcher. He simply doesn’t derive enough value from it to catch up to Rogan.

So what I’m saying is that I’ve been missing the boat for 80 electoral “years” at the Hall of Miller and Eric, but, for me anyway, Dick Redding’s ship has come in.

Dick Redding
Negro Leagues Stats | Bio
Career: 1911–1931
Destination: NL 1911–1931
Missing Data: 1927, 1929
               PITCHING          |  BATTING    |  TOTAL
YEAR  AGE   IP  RAA   WAA   WAR  |  PA    WAR  |   WAR
========================================================
1911   21  250   29   3.2   5.7  |   83   0.2  |   5.8 
1912   22  260   45   4.9   7.5  |   87   0.1  |   7.6 
1913   23  250  - 3  -0.3   2.2  |   83   0.2  |   2.4
1914   24  270  -12  -1.4   1.3  |   90   0.2  |   1.5
1915   25  300   12   1.5   4.4  |  100   0.1  |   4.5
1916   26  310   18   2.4   5.3  |  103   0.2  |   5.5
1917   27  300   19   2.4   5.3  |  100   0.1  |   5.3
1918   28  270   34   4.5   7.0  |   90   0.1  |   7.0
1919   29  280   42   5.5   8.1  |   93   0.1  |   8.2
1920   30  300    6   0.7   3.7  |  100   0.2  |   3.8
1921   31  300   35   3.8   6.9  |  100   0.2  |   7.1
1922   32  250   41   4.2   6.7  |   83   0.3  |   7.0
1923   33  210   20   2.0   4.1  |   70   0.2  |   4.3
1924   34  200    5   0.6   2.6  |   67   0.1  |   2.8
1925   35  210    3   0.3   2.5  |   70   0.2  |   2.7
1926   36  200    0   0.0   2.1  |   67   0.2  |   2.3
1927   37  210   22   2.3   4.4  |   70   0.2  |   4.6
1928   38  210   43   4.6   6.7  |   70   0.2  |   6.9
1929   39  180   16   1.5   3.4  |   60   0.2  |   3.6
1930   40  170    1   0.1   1.9  |   57   0.2  |   2.1
1931   41   10  - 5  -0.4  -0.3  |    3   0.0  |  -0.3
------------------------------------------------------- 
TOTAL     4940  371  42.1  91.3  | 1586   3.3  |  93.0
Hypothetical MLB career rankings (1871–1960) 
Innings pitched: 8th 
Pitching Wins Above Average: 11th 
Pitching Wins Above Replacement: 7th 
Total Wins Above Replacement (pitchers only): 7th

Yeah, those hypothetical career rankings indicate a pretty good pitcher….

Redding is to Smokey Joe Williams almost exactly as Pete Alexander was to Walter Johnson. Williams, as you saw a couple paragraphs ago was a cut above everyone but Paige, but specifically, above his near contemporary Redding, just as Alexander was close but clearly behind the Big Train. Williams began his career the same year as Walter Johnson (1907), and Redding began his the same year as Alex (1911). Johnson was a strong hitter for a pitcher, and so was Williams who often took turns in the outfield. Alexander, like Redding, was a decent hitting pitcher, but not nearly as good as Johnson.

That last paragraph is a fun analogy, but it’s an important reminder of how strong Redding appears to be in his MLE.

Carlos Royer

This 5’9″ righty was one of the great players of the early Cuban leagues. Which also means that our stats on him aren’t nearly as complete as we’d like. Right about half his likely MLE-length career resides in the Negro Leagues Database. So the MLE below must be considered provisional. 

Royer debuted at age 16 in 1890, making him a near contemporary of a lot of famous pitchers. He was three years younger than Amos Rusie and four years younger than Kid Nichols. The NLDB picks him up at age 28 when he threw 291 innings with a 21-12 record between the Cuban Winter League and its playoffs. He started all but one of Havana team’s games. The next winter he fashioned a 13-3 ledger in 142 innings, making all but four of the team’s starts. Whether his arm gave out or age simply caught up with him, Royer took fewer starts as the nineteen aughts wore on, yielding to younger talents such as José Mendéz, and eventually hung it up at age 36.

Carlos Royer
Negro Leagues Stats | Bio 
Career: 1890–1910
Destination: NL 1894–1910
Missing data: 1890–1901
Honors: Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame
               PITCHING          |  BATTING    |  TOTAL
YEAR  AGE   IP  RAA   WAA   WAR  |  PA    WAR  |   WAR
========================================================
1894   20   80    0   0.0   0.9  |   27   0.0  |   1.0
1895   21  160    3   0.3   2.1  |   53   0.0  |   2.1
1896   22  200    6   0.5   2.8  |   67   0.0  |   2.8
1897   23  290    8   0.7   3.9  |   97   0.1  |   4.0
1898   24  310   10   1.0   4.3  |  103  -0.1  |   4.2 
1899   25  310    5   0.4   3.8  |  103   0.1  |   3.9 
1900   26  290   11   1.0   4.2  |   97   0.1  |   4.2 
1900   27  290   16   1.6   4.7  |   97   0.0  |   4.7 
1902   28  280   17   2.0   4.8  |   93   0.0  |   4.8 
1903   29  270   36   3.8   6.6  |   90   0.1  |   6.7 
1904   30  260   20   2.4   4.9  |   87   0.0  |   4.9 
1905   31  250    5   0.5   3.0  |   83   0.1  |   3.1 
1906   32  180  -22  -2.5  -0.7  |   60   0.0  |  -0.7 
1907   33  180    1   0.1   1.8  |   60   0.0  |   1.8 
1908   34  160   11   1.4   2.9  |   53   0.0  |   2.9
1909   35  120   23   3.1   4.2  |   40   0.0  |   4.2
1910   36   80   12   1.5   2.2  |   27   0.0  |   2.2
------------------------------------------------------- 
TOTAL     3710  159  17.7  56.5  | 1237   0.3  |  56.8 

Hypothetical MLB career rankings (1871–1960) 
Innings pitched: 32nd  
Pitching Wins Above Average: 81st
Pitching Wins Above Replacement: 37th  
Total Wins Above Replacement (pitchers only): t-40th

Royer was a star in the 1890s, so we treated him like a top-of-the-rotation pitcher from 1897-1901, which is where all the innings are coming from. This is a very good but not great pitcher as we now estimate him. Perhaps if additional data arrives that fills in some of the front-half of his career, we’ll get a better idea of his performance. As it stands now, we have two big years plus the backside of his body of work.

* * *

Next time, we dust off our rhythmic hand clapping for centerfield. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and we’ll start with Bernardo Baro, Jerry Benjamin, Gene Benson, and Irvin Brooks.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Evaluating More Negro Leagues Pitchers, Part 7

  1. Eric –

    I just want to reiterate how thankful I am for these new MLEs , especially since all that’s left for the MMP projects are the pre-integration years when the Negro Leagues were in their heyday.

    And like you, I have been very lukewarm on Redding to this point (I believe I even used the term “a poor man’s Dwight Gooden). But now I’m pretty sure Cannonball will shoot to the top of my 2019 HoM ballot (pun intended).

    Posted by Michael Mengel | June 20, 2018, 2:39 pm
  2. Welcome to the Redding boat Eric! I’ve been a Redding supporter since I returned to the HoM a few years ago. Though, seeing these MLEs, I’m thinking I may have underrated him slightly as well. I had him in my head as a Black Rick Reuschel (in terms of career value and shape anyway; I can’t speak to pitching styles) but I’m thinking now that he was significantly better than that. Thanks again for all of you’re work. I’m finding this series extremely valuable in my research for Hall of Merit.

    Posted by CARL J GOETZ | June 27, 2018, 10:44 am

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