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eric has written 258 posts for the Hall of Miller and Eric

Negro Leaguers and Standard Deviation, Part II

Last week, we shared information showing that the standard deviation of offensive performance in the Negro Leagues and Latin leagues was considerably higher than that of the major leagues of the same era. But players in the Jackie Robinson era also played in the white minor leagues, and someone translating their performance to an MLB level would want to know whether the minors were more like the majors or the Negro and Latin leagues. Did those leagues have wider variation than the majors as well?

Before we turn to the record itself, let’s ask this question. Why might the white minors be dissimilar or similar to the majors in terms of STDEV? We explored some of the structural and game-play drivers of a wider standard deviation in the Negro Leagues last time out. Do they hold for the minors?

  • Leagues came and went: This is true of the minors, though not nearly to the degree of the Negro Leagues. The organized minors included hundreds of leagues.
  • Teams came and went, including during the season: Again this is true of the minors but infrequently true and covered by those hundreds of leagues.
  • Players in some cases jumped from team to team or league to league: Not true at all for the organized minors, which made up the vast majority of minor leagues.
  • The best Negro League teams were further apart from the worst than their counterparts in the majors: This is more difficult to ascertain, so I’ll leave it be.
  • The Negro Leagues had many teenage players and 40+ players: Not generally true, in fact, in many cases, affiliated teams had a narrow band of ages because teams served specific development purposes to the parent club.
  • Field conditions were likely worse than on MLB diamonds: This is surely true, particularly given the wide variety of climates and budgets in the minors, but not likely to the same degree as the Negro Leagues.
  • International leagues signed away large numbers of players who then required replacement: Not so much. The Mexican League snatched some career minor leaguers but few prospects.
  • Negro League teams typically had much shorter rosters than big league teams: Minor league teams probably had longer rosters than Negro League teams.
  • The Negro Leagues played much shorter schedules, which means some jumpier stats didn’t have time to stabilize as they would in the 154-game slate: Not at all true of the minors, the Pacific Coast League actually played a longer schedule for many years.
  • Negro League talent procurement and development was likely not as systematized and routinized as white organized baseball: Axiomatically, this is untrue of a great many leagues or teams in the affiliated minors.

So we already see that the conditions that made the Negro Leagues’ performances spread out further from the average than MLB’s in most cases either don’t apply to the minors or are muted. But we need to look at the stats to know whether or not STDEV was nonetheless driven by other factors, or whether it mirrored the majors. As we look at this question, we’ll examine the results level by level using the same technique as in our previous article.

AAA and Open Classifications

Although right around Jackie’s time, these leagues got new classifications or jumped a class, they remained the highest rungs on the sub-major ladder. (For a graphic that helps to visualize how the classifications of minor leagues has changed over the last hundred-odd years, check out this article.)

  • PCL = Pacific Coast League
  • IL= International League
  • AA = American Association (ceased play after 1962)
YEAR    MLB |     PCL    |     IL     |     AA
      STDEV | STDEV  ADJ | STDEV  ADJ | STDEV  ADJ
===================================================
1946   1.55 | 1.24  1.12 | 1.32  1.09 | 1.30  1.10
1947   1.46 | 1.61  0.96 | 1.58  0.96 | 1.52  0.98
1948   1.59 | 1.85  0.93 | 1.13  1.20 | 1.38  1.08
1949   1.50 | 1.44  1.02 | 1.58  0.98 | 1.56  0.98
1950   1.43 | 1.48  0.98 | 1.52  0.97 | 1.13  1.13
1951   1.50 | 1.66  0.95 | 1.22  1.12 | 1.71  0.94
1952   1.17 | 1.09  1.04 | 1.28  0.96 | 1.62  0.86
1953   1.49 | 1.14  1.16 | 1.53  0.99 | 1.52  0.99
1954   1.65 | 1.14  1.22 | 1.54  1.04 | 1.31  1.13
1955   1.43 | 1.18  1.11 | 1.51  0.97 | 1.20  1.10
1956   1.59 | 1.47  1.04 | 1.33  1.10 | 1.37  1.08
1957   1.85 | 1.23  1.25 | 1.24  1.25 | 1.41  1.16
1958   1.50 | 1.74  0.93 | 1.33  1.07 | 1.04  1.22
1959   1.39 | 1.12  1.12 | 1.42  0.99 | 1.16  1.10
1960   1.15 | 1.14  1.00 | 1.16  0.99 | 1.82  0.82
1961   1.64 | 1.54  1.03 | 1.27  1.15 | 1.17  1.20
1962   1.31 | 1.63  0.90 | 1.36  0.98 | 1.16  1.07
1963   1.22 | 1.01  1.10 | 1.08  1.06 |
1964   1.37 | 1.25  1.05 | 1.47  0.97 |
1965   1.29 | 1.36  0.97 | 0.87  1.24 |
---------------------------------------------------
AVG    1.45 | 1.37 1.04 | 1.34 1.05 | 1.38 1.07

How about them apples?! The high minors actually had less standard deviation than the majors. Before we draw conclusions, let’s see if that’s how things play out down the ladder.
AA Classifications
In each instance as we tour the minors, I’ve only included seasons where I’m aware that a top Negro Leagues candidate played in a given league. Therefore, there may be gaps in the information I’m presenting, especially compared to the AAA/Open leagues. As it turns out, we only have solid information for seasons in question from one league that would currently be considered AA, and that’s the Texas League. Other leagues included Negro League candidates, but their stats aren’t yet on BBREF, so I couldn’t include them.

  • TXL = Texas League
YEAR    MLB |    TXL
      STDEV | STDEV  ADJJ
=========================
1953   1.49 | 1.50  1.00
1954   1.65 | 1.59  1.02
1955   1.43 | 1.28  1.06
1956   1.59 | 1.51  1.03
1957   1.85 | 1.19  1.28
1958   1.50 | 1.26  1.10
1959   1.39 | 1.50  0.96
1960   1.15 | 1.44  0.90
1961   1.64 | 1.56  1.03
-------------------------
AVG    1.52 | 1.42  1.04

Yet again, a minor league is actually a little tighter than the majors….
A
Today we have Hi-A and Lo-A levels, but that split only occurred in 1990. Before that every A-level team was in the same category. Once again, we only have stats for one league (and one season in it) at this level.

  • WES = Western League
YEAR    MLB |     WES
      STDEV | STDEV ADJ
=========================
1958   1.50 | 1.83  0.91

B
If we’re starting to get into the exurbs with B leagues, we’re going to be out past the boonies with C and D leagues. The lower in the classification system we go, the more localized the leagues and teams are.

  • IIIL = Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (aka: The 3I league)
  • NORW = Northwest League
  • WINT = Western International League
YEAR    MLB |    IIIL    |     NORW   |   WINT
      STDEV | STDEV  ADJ | STDEV  ADJ | STDEV  ADJ
===================================================
1951   1.50 |            |            | 1.39  1.04
1954   1.65 | 1.62  1.01 |            |
1962   1.31 |            | 1.27  1.02 |

C

  • AZMX = Arizona-Mexico League
  • CAL = California League
YEAR    MLB |    AZMX    |      CAL
      STDEV | STDEV  ADJ | STDEV  ADJ
======================================
1954   1.65 |            | 2.12  0.89
1958   1.50 | 2.13  0.85 | 1.24  1.10
1959   1.39 |            | 1.00  1.19
--------------------------------------
AVG    1.51 |            | 1.45  1.06

D

  • FLOR = Florida State League
YEAR    MLB |    FLOR
      STDEV | STDEV  ADJ
=========================
1958   1.50 | 1.43  1.02

My boss’ boss has more than a few pearls of wisdom inside her. She likes to say that a good rule of thumb for making decisions says that if something happens once, it’s an occurrence. If it happens twice, it’s notable. If it happens three times it’s a pattern, and you need to take action. So looking at the minor leagues, we see that nearly every league we’ve looked at, and most seasons in each league we examined, show up as having a lower standard deviation than the majors of the same season. This was at first a surprising result. But maybe it shouldn’t have been?

From an anecdotal and qualitative perspective, it does makes sense that minor league standard deviations are closer to the big leagues than the Negro Leagues were. Rarities such as .400 hitters or 60-homer hitters don’t litter the annals of minor league history, but such batting averages and equivalent feats of batsmanship do occur more often in the Negro Leagues. But that’s also a clue to the minors tighter variance.

I initially thought that because the minors tended to employ less experienced players in the farm-system model, play would be somewhat uneven. Similarly, the minors in this time had more independence than today and were at liberty to sign MLB vets who could no longer keep at job in the show. In the case of the PCL, which signed many such players, guys originally from out west may also have opted to forgo the worst of their decline phase in MLB to play out west nearer their homes. Today a so-called AAAA player might be in his late 20s or very early 30s, but back then, fringe types might be older. Indeed, from 1947 to 1954, the average age in AAA/Open leagues was around 27.5 for the AA, 28 for the IL, and 30 for the PCL. The Coast League was the most active in terms of signing ex big leaguers, for example LA-born and Portland native Joe Gordon for his age-36 season. The majors at that time were around 28.5 years old. From 2011 to 2015, the average age in the PCL was this close to 27 and roughly the same in the IL. The PCL lost three years in average age by becoming a development league, whereas the IL had lost only one year because its teams had been mostly affiliated all along.

In fact, the average age of a league tells us something simple and significant about why standard deviations were so tight: Everyone in the league is basically at the same developmental level. In the minors, if you’re too good, you get promoted quickly. If you’re too awful, you get demoted. If you stay the whole year, you’re getting appropriately challenged for your level of experience. That’s the whole point of the minors! Today this is much more apparent because the average the different levels is more highly stratified than ever. Rookie ball is filled with 18–20 year olds. Short season ball is all 20 or 21 year olds, etc. So no matter what other factors may contribute to the variance in a league, age/experience may be the most important. To be sure, this is isn’t ironclad reasoning, but it does pass the smell test for me.

OK, so we’ve now had a look at the Negro Leagues themselves and some of the leagues that Negro Leagues expats played in. Next time out, we’ll take a look at how all of this may change our perspective on the offensive value of some famous blackball heroes.

Mount Rushmore: The D’Backs

So our pal Miller had a fine idea: Whose faces would be on the Mount Rushmore of each team. I’ll be your guide through the National League’s Black Hills, and since we’re going alpha by city, we’ll start in Arizona.

The only catch with our Rushmore series is that each face of the franchise has to be someone who only played for that team. Which leaves a club like the Arizona Diamondbacks, extant not quite 20 years as of this writing, in a bit of a pickle. If not for that little hitch in the rules, why they’d be chiseling in the faces of Randy Johnson (51.2 BBREF WAR) WAR, Luis Gonzalez (29.9),…and Curt Schilling (25.4). Well, I’m sure Alex Jones will have a conspiracy theory about our choosing not to include guys with right-wing radio shows. (Hint: It’s the Deep State!)

But, in fact, we decided this is an honor for faithful, loyal soldiers. In which case, things get a little, uh, weird for a team still in early bloom of its flowering. The primary candidates for Snake Mountain are, on offense:

  • Goldschmidt (32.5 as noted above and still building his considerable legend)
  • A.J. Pollack (16.1 and counting)
  • David Peralta (7.5 and counting)
  • Jake Lamb (6.3 and counting)
  • Chris Owings (4.5 and counting)

Moundwardly there’s Brandon Webb (31.5), and, well, uh, Patrick Corbin’s 4.5 WAR. And that’s about it. At least for another few years.

So, for the moment, on June 14th, 2017 at 9:50 PM, it’s these guys…until one or more split or get split: Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Webb, A.J. Pollack, and David Peralta.

Frankly, there’s not a ton to say about these guys that you don’t already know since most are of very recent vintage. Goldschmidt is Bagwellesque, right down to the surprising steals and excellent glove. He’s not quite Bagwell’s equal, but he’s in that mode, and his athleticism bodes well for a lengthy and productive career. Every time I see his name, I imagine Dame Shirley Bassey singing “Gooooooooooooldschmidterrrrrrr.” But, you know, that’s just how I roll.

Webb is a-not-so-old favorite of mine. In fact, if the fates played fair, he’s still be pitching in the big leagues. Webb had this absolutely vicious sinking fastball threw, nearly 1200 innings from age 25 to 29, walked off the mound in his first start of 2009, and never threw another pitch in anger again. Total bummer. Wonderful pitcher who could use that dead, if rapid, fish to avoid the thin-air proclivities of the run-drenched high-desert environment.

As for the others I’ve mentioned, I invite you on the journey of a decade or more as we discover what the future holds for them and the many other players supporting the D’Backs youth movement.

Dead Presidents

What if we want to take the Dead Presidents approach, however, and force ourselves to only use retirees who were Hooked on Phoenix their whole career? You know what, go ahead and grab a beer or some garlic knots and a Sunny D. I’m going to be a few minutes. It’s OK, I’ll have the answer by the time you get back. Well, and if you need a pee break, might as well go for it. I mean, don’t get into the latest episode of Fargo or anything. I won’t be that long.

[Trawls through BBREF’s Play Index with increasingly hangdog expression and red, bleary eyes.]

  • Clay Zavada! 0.7 WAR in 2009
  • Robby Hammock! 0.6 WAR from 2003 to 2011
  • Geraldo Guzman! 0.5 WAR from 2000 and 2001
  • Alex Cabrera! 0.4 WAR in 2000

Pretty cool, huh?!

Mount MeMore

That leaves one other question we like to answer. Who would our personal Mount Rushmore for the team be? Well, The Big Unit has to be on there. In fact, I’d gladly use him for all four faces. He’s just awesome no matter what team he played for. Obviously, I’m something of a Brandon Webb partisan. And there was that one great year of Junior Spivey (2002 for those who may have misplaced that particular memory). For a franchise this young, I’m going to bend the rules a little. Because doesn’t this ring a bell? “Reached on E1 (throw to 2B) (Bunt); Dellucci to 2B.” So my fourth for the AZ Rushmore is none other than Mariano Rivera.

Negro Leaguers and Standard Deviation, Part I

A lonnnng time ago now, we presented findings about how standard deviation may color our perceptions of any given MLB season. The rough answer is that for whatever reason, in some years performance is bunched closely together so that the highest WAR total in the land is under 7.0, and in other seasons, it’s practically the wild west, and we see players racking up WAR at every integer between -2 and 12.

I created a seasonal adjustment factor to compensate for this phenomenon, which I use in my home-cooked WAR. As I’ve rolled out a few articles recently about the Negro Leagues, I’ve begun to wonder about the effect standard deviation might have on blackball players.

There are several indicators that suggest player performance varied more widely in the Negro Leagues than in MLB:

  • Leagues came and went with all the bumpiness that accompanies startups and expansions
  • Especially before the late 1930s, teams came and went during the season as well as between seasons
  • Players in some cases jumped from team to team or league to league
  • The best Negro League teams were further apart from the worst than their counterparts in the majors
  • The Negro Leagues had many teenage players and 40+ players
  • Field conditions were likely worse than on MLB diamonds
  • In some seasons, for example, 1938 through 1948, international leagues signed away large numbers of players who then required replacement
  • Negro League teams typically had much shorter rosters than big league teams
  • The Negro Leagues played much shorter schedules, which means some jumpier stats didn’t have time to stabilize as they would in the 154-game slate
  • Negro League talent procurement and development was likely not as systematized and routinized as white organized baseball.

That’s a lot of indicators that variance among players, between leagues, and between seasons might have swung wider than the majors. Further clouding the picture is the sheer number of leagues we’re talking about. To properly evaluate Negro League players, we’d need to know not only about the Negro Leagues themselves, but also about various Caribbean leagues (winter and summer), the Mexican League, and, for Integration-era players, the minor leagues as well as certain independent leagues.

So I, your trusty servant, decided to look into things, and I pulled out my trusty spreadsheets, opened BBREF and the Negro League Database, and got to work.

The Method

For now, I’ve only worked up hitting stats. To keep this reasonably simple, here’s what I did:

  • Calculate the RC/27 for each player in the league that either BBREF or the Negro Leagues Database indicates qualified for the batting title. I use Bill James’ version from Win Shares because it accounts for the effect of an individual player on his lineup, and because it’s a little easier to deal with than Base Runs.
  • Find the STDEV of RC/27 among these players.
  • Compare the STDEVs found in step 2 to the MLB-wide STDEV for the corresponding season.
  • Adjust the quotient in step 3 such that the difference between average (1.0) and step three is reduced by half.

The result is a STDEV factor.

A note of caution. Many leagues, including MLB, did not tally some or all among caught stealing, GIDP, intentional walks, HPB, SF, strikeouts, and even walks in various seasons. We’ve avoided calculations that don’t involve walks, and we’ve worked around the lack of caught stealing by assuming that hitters will be caught stealing 80% as often as they are successful. That’s a 55% success rate, approximately the MLB average for most of the time span we’re dealing with. In some cases, if too little information exists, we haven’t included the season in our researches.

The Negro Leagues

Let’s start with the Negro Leagues themselves. That term refers to a collection of at least 8 different loose affiliations and actual organizations. The Negro Leagues Database does not yet have complete information for all seasons. Nor does it currently have park factors or strength of schedule adjustments. Ideally, these would be made before doing the STDEV calculation, but we didn’t make this adjustment for big leaguers either. We’ll take it in chunks of time so we can fit more information in.

EAST = Independent clubs in the east
NAC = National Association of Colored Professional Clubs of the United States and Cuba
WEST = Independent clubs in the west

YEAR     MLB |     EAST     |     NAC      |    WEST
       STDEV |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ  | STDEV  ADJ
=========================================================
1905   1.39  |  3.68  0.69  |              |
1906   1.16  |  7.81  0.57  |              |  3.53  0.66
1907   1.03  |              |  1.96  0.76  |
1908   1.10  |              |  2.30  0.74  |  3.40  0.66
1909   1.10  |              |              |  6.34  0.59
1910   1.24  |  2.96  0.71  |              |  7.61  0.58
1911   1.46  |  2.62  0.78  |              | 14.55  0.55
1912   1.58  |  4.42  0.68  |              |  3.33  0.74
1913   1.31  |  2.76  0.74  |              |  6.84  0.60
1914   1.27  |  3.85  0.67  |              |  2.87  0.72
1915   1.21  |  2.97  0.70  |              |  2.08  0.79
1916   1.26  |  3.09  0.70  |              |  3.03  0.71
1917   1.18  |  3.78  0.66  |              |  7.90  0.57
1918   1.09  |  2.53  0.72  |              |  1.97  0.78
1919   1.41  |  2.47  0.79  |              |  4.80  0.65

We can see already the whopping difference in STDEVs, and the proportionally whopping adjustment that can result from it.

Here’s 1920–1932, a very active time for league formation and for league destruction thanks to the Great Depression.

NNL = first version of Negro National League
ECL = Eastern Colored League
EWL = East West League (only played in 1932, for convenience placed in the ECL column)
EAST = Independent clubs in the east
IND = Independent clubs

YEAR     MLB |      NNL     |    ECL/EWL   |     EAST     |   IND
       STDEV |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ  | STDEV  ADJ
=======================================================================
1920   1.90  |  1.89  1.00  |              |  3.07  0.81  |
1921   1.81  |  2.30  0.89  |              |  3.09  0.79  |
1922   1.78  |  2.29  0.89  |              |  4.61  0.69  |
1923   1.89  |  2.13  0.94  |  2.17  0.94  |              |  1.74  1.04
1924   1.92  |  1.35  1.21  |  1.94  0.99  |              | 
1925   1.81  |  2.16  0.92  |  2.34  0.89  |              |
1926   1.59  |  1.98  0.90  |  2.12  0.87  |              |
1927   1.80  |              |              |              |
1928   1.84  |              |  3.04  0.80  |  4.19  0.72  |
1929   1.82  |              |              |              |
1930   2.03  |              |              |  3.55  0.78  |
1931   1.80  |              |              |  3.00  0.80  |
1932   1.74  |              |  2.20  0.90  |              |  4.13  0.71

With more organized leagues bringing a higher level of owner and team into the festivities, the NNL’s and ECL’s STDEVs both dropped rapidly from the independent teams’ of the previous decades. These two leagues and the EWL in 1932 were nearly on par with the majors in terms of STDEV especially compared to the independents and the previous era. But even the Eastern indies in this period moved toward MLB’s level of variance. That said, whiteball moved toward blackball as well. The sudden surge in run scoring in the 1920s increased the variance among MLB hitters’ performance.

Now onto the final phase of the Negro Leagues, the more stable era of 1933–1944.

NNL = second version of Negro National League
NAL = Negro American League
IND = Independent clubs


YEAR     MLB |      NNL     |      NAL     |     IND
       STDEV |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ
=========================================================
1933   1.73  |  2.07  0.92  |              |  7.02  0.62
1934   1.74  |  2.77  0.81  |              |  2.48  0.85
1935   1.67  |  2.50  0.83  |              |
1936   1.93  |  2.79  0.85  |              |  4.62  0.71
1937   1.94  |  3.39  0.79  |              |
1938   1.81  |  2.66  0.84  |              |
1939   1.62  |  2.70  0.80  |  2.27  0.86  |
1940   1.56  |  1.96  0.90  |  1.83  0.92  |
1941   1.89  |  2.45  0.89  |  2.17  0.94  |
1942   1.59  |  1.92  0.91  |  1.96  0.90  |
1943   1.30  |  3.30  0.70  |  1.73  0.88  |
1944   1.60  |  2.63  0.81  |  2.71  0.80  |

Generally, the NNL and NAL stayed relatively close to the majors. Mexican League defections and World War II probably increased performance variation overall in 1943 and 1944. The big leagues had whole farm systems full of replacements of decent quality and a huge white population (and light-skinned Latino population) to draw from. Black Americans numbered hundreds of millions fewer and so were more difficult in some ways to find reasonable replacements for.

Latin Leagues

Some of the information that follows includes calculations based on data that won’t be available on the Negro Leagues Database for a little while yet. I happened to have access to it, and it is ultimately all derived from Pedro Cisneros’ Mexican League encyclopedia. The information for the various Cuban leagues is all from the Negro Leagues Database.

CWL = Cuban Winter League (la Liga general de base ball de la República de Cuba)
PV = Cuban Summer League (el Premio de verano)
GP = Grand Winter Championship (el Gran premio invernal)

YEAR     MLB |      CWL     |      PV     |      GP
       STDEV |  STDEV  ADJ  |  STDEV  ADJ |  STDEV  ADJ
=========================================================
1902   1.39  |  1.82  0.91  |             |
1903   1.39  |  1.27  1.03  |             |
1904   1.39  |  1.53  0.89  |  2.53  0.74 |
1905   1.39  |  1.45  0.98  |  2.06  0.84 |
1906   1.16  |  1.45  0.90  |  2.08  0.78 |
1907   1.03  |  1.66  0.81  |  2.67  0.69 |
1908   1.10  |  1.71  0.82  |  1.99  0.78 |
1909   1.10  |  2.63  0.71  |             |
1910   1.24  |  2.19  0.78  |             |
1911   1.46  |  2.29  0.82  |             |
1912   1.58  |  1.97  0.90  |             |
1913   1.31  |  1.70  0.89  |             |
1914   1.27  |  2.11  0.80  |             |
1915   1.21  |  2.67  0.73  |             |
1916   1.26  |  1.88  0.84  |             |
1917   1.18  |              |             |
1918   1.09  |  1.44  0.88  |             |
1919   1.41  |              |             |
1920   1.90  |  1.83  1.02  |             |
1921   1.81  |              |             |
1922   1.78  |  2.53  0.85  |             |
1923   1.89  |  2.00  0.97  |             |  1.76  1.03
1924   1.92  |              |             |
1925   1.81  |              |             |
1926   1.59  |              |             |
1927   1.80  |  2.74  0.83  |             |

The Cuban winter leagues show roughly the same range of standard deviation that the latter-day Negro Leagues did. The early summer league looks similar, if a little tighter than, the NAC did.

YEAR     MLB |     MXL
       STDEV | STDEV  ADJ
===========================
1937   1.94  |  3.68  0.76
1938   1.81  |  2.28  0.90
1939   1.62  |  1.98  0.91
1940   1.56  |  2.20  0.85
1941   1.89  |  2.24  0.92
1942   1.59  |  2.29  0.85
1943   1.30  |  1.66  0.89
1944   1.60  |  1.74  0.96
1945   1.32  |  1.97  0.83
1946   1.55  |  1.74  0.95
1947   1.46  |  1.23  1.09
1948   1.59  |  1.85  0.93
1949   1.50  |  1.65  0.95
1950   1.43  |  1.67  0.93
1951   1.50  |  1.81  0.91
1952   1.17  |  2.05  0.79
1953   1.49  |  2.02  0.87
1954   1.65  |  2.05  0.90

La Liga comes in consistently close to the big leagues for quite some time in terms of the spread of its hitters’ performance. Drawing on a large native population that only rarely made it to the Big Leagues, taking the cream of the crop from the Negro Leagues, and pinching a few players in 1946–1947 from MLB and the US minors, Mexico reduced its overall spread in talent and performance. It rates as a little more tightly bunched than the NNL and NAL of the same period.

Here’s an overall look at the entire span of time for each of the leagues mentioned above. The MLB column includes only those seasons that correspond to the seasons with available data for each respective Negro or Latin league.

Average Standard Deviation 1902–1954
           YEARS | STDEV | MLB STEDEV
=====================================
CWL   1902–1927* |  1.94 |  1.38
PV    1904–1908  |  2.26 |  1.18
EAST  1905–1931* |  3.58 |  1.48
WEST  1906–1919* |  5.25 |  1.26
NAC   1907–1908  |  2.13 |  1.06
NNL1  1920–1926  |  2.02 |  1.81
ECL   1923–1928* |  2.32 |  1.81
IND   1923–1936* |  4.00 |  1.81
GP    1923       |  1.76 |  1.89
EWL   1932       |  2.20 |  1.74
NNL2  1933–1944  |  2.60 |  1.70
MEX   1937–1954  |  2.01 |  1.56
NAL   1939–1944  |  2.11 |  1.59
*Indicates span includes discontinuous seasons

Here we see the strong effect of a league structure. The East, West, and Independent teams show a far higher degree of variance (about 50%–100%) than the more structured league setups. Other than those three, however, the rest of the leagues show a fairly narrow range of STDEVs, roughly a half run or less among them. Setting aside the East, West, and independents for a moment, MLB shows a similar overall range but with a little more clumping around the 1.80 level.

Let’s remember that the spread of performance in a league shares many markers with the league’s overall quality of competition. But factors beyond those indicating quality of play influence variance, and others that influence quality may not affect STDEV as much. The long and short of it is this: Standard Deviation is a real thing, and it is a statistical thing. I adjust for it because as a statistical thing, all statistics derived from the league’s record will be influenced by the degree of variance. And that variance is outside an individual player’s immediate control. Just as his park, his league, his run environment, the strength of the schedule he faces, and many other factors that have an impact on his numbers, subtly or not so subtly.

Next time out, we’ll check in on the Integration-era minor leagues to see how they compare to the big leagues. Then in a final article, we’ll recap by showing how adjusting for STDEV may change our perceptions of several Negro League stars.

Value-based HoME Standings

Miller and I love to get comments! Here’s one that grabbed me from one of our most loyal readers, Ryan, about the series of articles we recently posted about the HoME Standings. Those articles calculated standings solely based on playing time:

Do you have an alternative standings with a weighting of CHEWS+ values of each player for every franchise?

In a word, no. But it prompted me to put together standings based instead on the WAR values I compute. Thanks, Ryan!

Rather than run a three-article odyssey again, I’m going to sum things up in one post. This time around, I’ve based the standings on the percent of a player’s career spent with a given team. If Joe Schmuckface had 50 WAR with the Yanks and 50 WAR with the Sox, then each team gets 0.50 standings points assigned to them.

First off, let’s note that the standings by playing time included managers and executives who were specifically associated with teams in the roles we elected them for. And to answer another reader question, this time from JD, we elected Spalding as an executive. We didn’t feel that his case as an exec required the support of his playing career, unlike combo candidates Roger Bresnahan, Clark Griffith, and Frank Chance. In the same way, we didn’t include John McGraw and Connie Mack’s executive and/or player careers because they weren’t necessary for their election.

OK, on with the show.

The Grays Area

When we looked at the standings by playing time, several current MLB teams fell into what I coined “The Spiders’ Web.” These four clubs have so far failed to give HoMErs as much playing time as the highest-ranking defunct franchise, the Cleveland Spiders. But looking by value, the story is different in the details.

Five teams currently fall into “The Grays Area.” Among all long-dead franchises, The Providence Grays rank 26th among all clubs historically in our value-based standings. They received the contribution of 1.88 HoMErs, among whom were 76% of Old Hoss Radbourn’s value, 63% of Paul Hines’, 29% of Monte Ward’s, 13% of George Wright’s, and 7% of Jim O’Rourke’s.

The Toronto Blue Jays, 26th among current MLB teams are right behind them by 0.03 careers and are certain to pass them in 2019 at the latest. The Arizona Diamondbacks jump up a spot with 0.82 standings points. Only two defunct franchises stand between them and the Jays, the Buffalo Bisons (1.46) and the Detroit Wolverines (1.19). Ironically, these two teams shared a large number of core players. Two more dead teams separate the Colorado Rockies (0.65 careers) from their fellow Mountain Time foes. One is those famous old Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1890s, and the other is our old pals the Spiders. The Louisville Colonels and the Cleveland Infants of the Players League stand between the Rox and the Miami Marlins (0.51 careers). And then, a yawning gulf opens, and 24 cold, dead franchises sit above the Tampa Bay Rays who, to date have accumulated 0.1 careers’ worth of HoMErs. Better get cracking, Mantamen!

The Ring of Sixteen

Another target for expansion teams to aim for is “The Ring of Sixteen.” That is, catching up to one of the original franchises of the AL/NL peace accords of the 1910s. For Twins fans holding your breath, keep those cheeks puffed out because you’re about to get owned. The Houston Astros (4.73) trail the Twinkies by less than half of a single career, far less than what the Mets by in the playing-time version of our standings. The presence of Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt, and Carlos Beltran could very well get them there. The threats to the Ring of Sixteen loom less dangerously below the Stros. The New York Mets (3.27) probably don’t have enough HoME irons in the current fire to catch up very soon, even if we end up electing David Wright. But they will be well positioned to enter the 16 in the mid-term. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Texas Rangers are tied with 2.97 HoMErs’ worth of value. The Metroplex Marshalls have a lot of little slices of careers out there to add as well as something like a third of Adrian Beltre’s career and half of Ian Kinsler’s plus a not-quite predictable piece of Cole Hamels. There’s a lot of opportunity for them if things break in their favor. The Halos are in something like the same boat but with more uncertainty. Like if Mike Trout leaves someday. Maybe they do need a stinkin’ badge?

Three more teams cluster up behind these three. The Washington Nationals (2.87) will have six years of Bryce Harper and a few years of Max Scherzer but little else to look forward to. I’d say they’re stuck in committee. The Kansas City Royals (2.75) are similar to the Nats. There’s no clear line of succession between Zack Greinke and the next Royals star. The last team in this little group is the San Diego Padres (2.61) whose missionary activities have attracted no HoME followers.

Rounding out the expansion group, the Seattle Mariners (2.32) and Milwaukee Brewers (2.25) have managed to haul themselves out of the gray area. The M’s have a whole bunch of third- or half-careers in the ready plus Ichrio. King Felix, and Kyle Seager bring more support. They could move quickly. And the Brew Crew continue to enjoy their status as a recognized MLB team.

Turning It Up to 10

Once we get into the Ring of 16, teams fall fairly neatly into two categories: those who have at least 10 careers worth of HoMErs, and those that don’t. The latter category comprises seven teams. As we mentioned early, the Minnesota Twins (5.12) lag far, far behind the other originals. The next squad on the horizon is nearly two full careers away, which is a lot considering how few careers were spent in the Twin Cities. Joe Mauer and Johan Santaña could take them a ways toward their next competitor, but they’ll still be short, and there’s little in the short- or mid-term climb, let alone keep the Astros at bay. Which means that the Cincinnati Reds (7.00) aren’t facing losing their spot in the Ring of Sixteen. The Reds aren’t in much better position than the Twins, but, thanks to nearly two decades of spectacular ineptitude, the Pittsburgh Pirates (7.65) won’t be in any position to scuttle the Redlegs’ hopes. Particularly if Andrew McCutchen is permanently broken. The Chicago White Sox (8.21) are in something of the same boat as the Reds and Bucs with relatively little near-term firepower. These three clubs will struggle among themselves for “supremacy” in the standings and won’t be reaching 10 players for a decade or more. Our next three teams, however, are knocking on the proverbial door.

Just three-quarters of a player away, the Baltimore Orioles (9.21) don’t have much to sing about with only guest shots by Jim Thome and Vlad Guerrero coming up. But Manny Machado seems very likely to earn them at least half of that 0.75 WAR they need to migrate northward. Relatively speaking, the St. Louis Cardinals (9.36) got a lot more playing time from their HoMErs than they did value. They rank sixth in our playing-time-base standings and 11th in value-based standings. But 10 careers is pretty much in the bag for the Redbirds. Albert Pujols gets them most of the way, and Scott Rolen and Carlos Beltran could put them over. If things break right, they might end up chirping about more than those guys too, but that’s up to the baseball gods, Adam Wainwright’s elbow, and Yadier Molina’s bat. Finally, the Philadelphia Phillies move up from 13th in playing time to 10th in value. They trail their former city mates, the A’s, by a shade more than 1 career, and they’ve got plenty in the pipeline among Rolen, Halladay, Thome, Hamels, and Chase Utley with Hughie Jennings, Cupid Childs, and Roy Oswalt representing opportunities for pick-ups as well. In the next three to five HoME elections, they’ll earn their tenth career. Speaking of the Oakland Athletics, at 10.56 careers, they’ve broken through a barrier, but they’ve got a lot of work to do to move up in the standings. Nearly two full careers separate them from the 8th place franchise. The White Elephants have some of Tim Hudson, and a bunch of HoME question marks who weren’t with them all that long. Expect a change in the standings here as the A’s cede the #9 slot to the Phils.

Four teams sit within a single HoME career of one another, and have a position from which to launch an assault on the top of the standings. The Cleveland Indians (12.41) have a couple careers’ worth of HoMErs in the near- and mid-term, plus a few younger players who could keep them climbing in the long term. They are running neck-and-neck with the Detroit Tigers (12.42). The Bengals counter with a lot of star power in Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, Max Scherzer, and several borderliners who could make it. I’d say they’ll keep ahead of the Tribe and might even be able to turn these guys into 6th place. That’s because the Boston Red Sox (13.32) and Atlanta Braves (13.37) sit within a single HoME career. For the sox it all depends on how long Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, David Price, and Chris Sale can continue to accumulate HoME credentials. Especially Pedroia, a lifetime Sock so far. Los Bravos have more than two careers’ worth of value coming their way in Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Tim Hudson. That’ll keep all three teams below them from reaching 5th place. But will it get them into the “Gang of Four?”

The Gang of Four

The top four teams in our standings are separated by less than two HoME careers. The Braves have the Los Angeles Dodgers (14.31) under siege for the moment. But they probably can break it with Clayton Kershaw leading the charge. In the long term Seager, Bellinger, and Urias could propel them toward the top. The Chicago Cubs (14.55) are in trouble and will undoubtedly lose the 3rd spot. They might tumble to fifth and are at some risk of dropping into sixth place. They just don’t have many HoMErs coming along very soon. Most of their talent is too young to project a HoME career. The outlook is much rosier for the Evil Empire. The New York Yankees (15.75) have something like three careers’ worth of value simply awaiting our vote, and there’s more where those three came from. Lots more. They sit only one-half a career behind the top spot and will take it perhaps as soon as Andy Pettitte’s eligibility, if not Mariano’s. They will almost certainly become the first club with 20 HoME careers. That leaves us with the San Francisco Giants (16.25). Look, mostly in this country we all love to hate the Yankees. So does SF have any hope of holding off the Darth Vaders of MLB? Nope. The inevitable is going to happen unless our planet is destroyed first. I guess that’s one instance where I’d root for the Yanks. Heinie Groh and Carlos Beltran are their best near-term opportunities. Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Johnny Cueto have to nail down their claims to greatness first. A sudden and prolonged surge of great pitching from Matt Cain would help. Which isn’t much of a hope to offer. I guess bad money drives out good money. Or at least money that’s not as bad.

The Standings

Here then are the standings by value. You’ll find that we’ve added this information to our HoME Stats report on the honorees page. Enjoy.


     TEAM                   YEARS    HoMERS  /YEAR
=====================================================
 1 San Francisco Giants   1883–2017  16.25   0.15
 2 New York Yankees       1903–2017  15.74   0.14
 3 Chicago Cubs           1871–2017  14.55   0.10
 4 Los Angeles Dodgers    1884–2017  14.31   0.11
 5 Atlanta Braves         1871-2017  13.37   0.10
 8 Boston Red Sox         1901–2017  13.32   0.12
 7 Detroit Tigers         1901–2017  12.42   0.11
 8 Cleveland Indians      1901–2017  12.41   0.11
 9 Oakland Athletics      1901–2017  10.56   0.10
10 Philadelphia Phillies  1883–2017   9.43   0.07
11 St. Louis Cardinals    1882–2017   9.36   0.07
12 Baltimore Orioles      1901–2017   9.22   0.08
13 Chicago White Sox      1901–2017   8.21   0.07
14 Pittsburgh Pirates     1882–2017   7.65   0.06
15 Cincinnati Reds        1882-2017   7.00   0.05
16 Minnesota Twins        1901–2017   5.12   0.05
17 Houston Astros         1962–2017   4.73   0.10
18 New York Mets          1962–2017   3.27   0.07
19 LA Angels of Anaheim   1961–2017   2.97   0.06
20 Texas Rangers          1961–2017   2.97   0.06
21 Washington Nationals   1969–2017   2.87   0.07
22 Kansas City Royals     1969–2017   2.75   0.07
23 San Diego Padres       1969–2017   2.61   0.06
24 Seattle Mariners       1977–2017   2.32   0.07
25 Milwaukee Brewers      1969–2017   2.25   0.05
26 Toronto Blue Jays      1977-2017   1.85   0.05
27 Arizona Diamondbacks   1998–2017   0.82   0.06
28 Colorado Rockies       1993–2017   0.65   0.04
29 Miami Marlins          1993–2017   0.51   0.03
30 Tampa Bay Rays         1998–2017   0.01   0.00

The Pace of Integration: Separate and Unequal

We’ve heard many stories about the ugly part of the MLB integration era, about Jackie Robinson and his early-integrating peers enduring the worst kind of slurs from the stands, clubhouse alienation, and on-field abuse. But perhaps the ugliest fact of baseball’s integration was this: By time Jackie retired after 1956, three teams had still not given a dark-skinned player even one plate appearance or pitching appearance: The Phillies, the Tigers, and the Red Sox. Bigotry so saturated the sport that the last team to integrate required 13 years.

But there’s more, much more, to it than that. Giving Pumpsie Green some playing time does not equal integration. I googled the definition of integrate and this was its second definition:

Bring (people or groups with particular characteristics or needs) into equal participation in or membership of a social group or institution.

We can parse the word equal in this definition all day and night, but in the interest of keeping this article to a semi-reasonable length, let’s agree to keep things as simple as we can. Let’s merely ask ourselves this: When in our game’s history can we say with reasonable certainty that the majors had integrated?

As you can tell from above, a list of when each team integrated doesn’t cut it for me. What would? I’m no sociologist, nor am I a demographer, nor a trained statistician. As I’ve told you all before, I merely play one on the Internet. But a basic indicator to my mind is the rate of participation in MLB compared to the US population of dark-skinned people. Uhhhhh, yeah, except there are four issues there (at least):

  • How do we define rate of participation in MLB?
  • How do we define the number of dark-skinned people in the US?
  • What about dark-skinned players from other countries?
  • How do we define dark-skinned?

Let’s take the last one first. I believe we have to use the term dark-skinned because African Americans were not the only people affected by the color line. Players from outside the US with dark skin were not permitted to play in MLB. How do we know who was dark-skinned? To be honest, we have to guess by looking at pictures. If the person is a light-skinned Latino who might pass as being merely olive-complected, they “pass.” It’s a bit dicey.

In terms of the rate of participation, we have at least two ways to look at it. We can count the number of players of color appearing in a given season. Or we can use their actual playing time (plate appearances and innings pitched). The latter makes better sense since in the same way that equality isn’t equity.

That brings us to the population/demography matter. Obviously, the percentage of African-American people in the population compared to the entire population makes the most sense. But that once again doesn’t account for dark-skinned Latinos. I think merely adding the UA Latino population to the African-American population should be a decent guidepost. Not every Latino is dark-skinned (and in the US, perhaps most aren’t), but it was in the time a big enough yet small enough group not to overly skew things but to provide some additional depth to the population pool we’re working with.

So here’s how I looked at it.

  • For each team and season from 1947 onward, identify its dark-skinned players
  • Determine the PAs for position players and IP for those pitchers
  • For the teams or the NL and AL separately, determine the annual rate of participation for dark-skinned players. I used this formula, weighting batters and pitchers differently since there are more hitters in the league than pitchers:
    (0.6 * (dark-skinned players’ PAs / league PAs) + (0.4 * dark-skinned players’ IP / league IP).
  • Compare #3 to the percentage of the US population that same year that was comprised of dark-skinned people.

Because we don’t have annualized census data, for step 4 I estimated it for each season based on linear population growth among African-American and Latino/a populations from census to census. For those curious, here’s how this looks:

YEAR    A.A.    LAT  COMBINED
=============================
1947   9.94%  2.17%  12.11%
1948   9.96%  2.28%  12.24%
1949   9.98%  2.39%  12.37%
1950  10.00%  2.50%  12.50%
1951  10.05%  2.61%  12.66%
1952  10.10%  2.72%  12.82%
1953  10.15%  2.83%  12.98%
1954  10.20%  2.94%  13.14%
1955  10.25%  3.05%  13.30%
1956  10.30%  3.16%  13.46%
1957  10.35%  3.27%  13.62%
1958  10.40%  3.38%  13.78%
1959  10.45%  3.49%  13.94%
1960  10.50%  3.60%  14.10%
1961  10.56%  3.71%  14.27%
1962  10.62%  3.82%  14.44%
1963  10.68%  3.93%  14.61%
1964  10.74%  4.04%  14.78%
1965  10.80%  4.15%  14.95%
1966  10.86%  4.26%  15.12%
1967  10.92%  4.37%  15.29%
1968  10.98%  4.48%  15.46%
1969  11.04%  4.59%  15.63%
1970  11.10%  4.70%  15.80%

Once a team matched my estimate of the US’s dark-skinned population, it had integrated. Once a league matched that estimate and each of its teams had employed more than a token number of dark-skinned players, it was integrated. Until both leagues were fully integrated, the majors were not integrated.

So let’s take that list of the first dark-skinned players per franchise and blow it out to see how long it took each team to actually integrate. By the way, it’s worth noting that a team could integrate and then backtrack. Several teams did, but we’ll assume that a year of full integration denotes a willingness to be fully integrated. Note that for Pittsburgh, I’m using Carlos Bernier as the first dark-skinned player, not Spec Roberts.

TEAM      PLAYERS      FIRST INTEGRATED
========================================
BRK/LAD  J. Robinson   1947   1949
CLE      L. Doby       1947   1951
SLB/BAL  H. Thompson   1947   1957
NYG/SFG  H. Thompson   1949   1951
 	 M. Irvin      1949
BSN/MLN  S. Jethroe    1950   1954
CHW      M. Minoso     1951   1961*
PHA/OAK  B. Trice      1953   1955
CHC      E. Banks      1953   1955
PIT      C. Benier     1953   1961
STL      T. Alston     1954   1958
CIN      N. Escalera   1954   1956
 	 C. Harmon     1954
WAS/MIN  C. Paula      1954   1960
NYY      E. Howard     1955   1963
PHI      J. Kennedy    1957   1960
DET      O. Virgil     1958   1961
BOS      P. Green      1959   1965
*In 1956, the Sox fell about half a percentage point below the estimate. That’s pretty close but I don’t report it for consistency’s sake.

On average, MLB clubs required about five years to fully integrate after the debut of their first dark-skinned player. NL teams ramped up in about three seasons on average, once they played a dark-skinned person. Taken as a whole, the NL had integrated percentage-wise by 1955 or 1956, but the Phillies had not yet broken their color line. It would be fair to say, however, that the NL was effectively integrated by 1960. Then there’s the AL. Its teams required an average of six years to fully integrate. By percentage, the AL had fully integrated by 1963. This seems fair. The laggardly Red Sox reached double-digit participation rates that very year.

So as a matter of opinion after studying the question a little, I would consider integration completed at the MLB level by 1963.

Two questions remain for me. First: Why did NL teams take less time to integrate overall and especially once they began the process? The simple answer: In an arms race you have to catch up fast. The Dodgers started winning the pennant every darn year, and they integrated earliest, most completely, and most quickly of any team in baseball. They did it by opening up a whole new talent pool and plucking from it some of its available players. So what about the Phillies? Yeah, they resisted, but once John Quinn took over, the pace accelerated with 100 G force and laid the groundwork for the near-pennant-winning 1964 team. Quinn, of course, had signed Hank Aaron, Sam Jethroe, and several other import dark-skinned players as the GM of the Braves.

The second question is a little more involved. I don’t remember exactly where I’d read or seen this question referenced, but it goes like this: Did teams artificially cap the number of dark-skinned players on their rosters in the early part of integration?

Only two teams fielded more than four dark-skinned players in a season before 1954 (the Indians from 1951 to 1953 and the Giants in 1951). One of the charges of this collusion is that teams sough to limit the simultaneity of dark-skinned players on rosters. If these two very active integrators were party to this agreement, we should see some evidence in how they managed their black players.

In 1951, the Indians’ gave playing time to five dark-skinned players:

  • Larry Doby (551 PAs)
  • Luke Easter (532 PAs)
  • Harry “Suitcase” Simpson (382 PAs)
  • Minnie Minoso (17 PAs)
  • “Toothpick” Sam Jones (8.2 IP)

Doby, Easter, and Simpson stayed on the roster all year long, though the latter didn’t play regularly until May. Minoso played regularly from April 17th through April 29th and was traded to Chicago. Jones spent most of his season at AAA and came up only for two a pair of starts in games 151 and 155 of the season.

In 1952, the Tribe featured six dark-skinned players:

  • Doby (611 PAs)
  • Simpson (607 PAs)
  • Easter (486 PAs)
  • Dave Pope (35 PAs)
  • Quincy Trouppe (11 PAs)
  • Jones (36 IP)

Doby and Simpson each stayed on the roster all year. Easter spent a couple weeks in the minors at the beginning of July after hitting just .208/.274/.385 in the season’s first 70 games. After returning on July 15th, he crushed it the rest of the way. Dave Pope was in the majors…from July 1st through July 16th and then again for three games in the season’s last week. Trouppe, a thirty-nine year old catcher, appeared six times in early May. Jones appeared in May and June, returned in July, and made two other brief appearances later in the year.

For 1953:

  • Doby (617 PA)
  • Simpson (264 PA)
  • Easter (230 PA)
  • Al “Fuzzy” Smith (173 PA)
  • Dave Hoskins (112.2 IP)

Doby, Simpson, Easter, and Hoskins appear to have survived the entire season on the roster. Smith was recalled on July 10th and stuck.

If you squint you can maybe see some race-oriented roster manipulation in 1951 or 1952. Nothing definite but maybe a little whiff. Not so much in 1953. Let’s turn to the 1951 Giants.

  • Monte Irvin (657 PA)
  • Willie Mays (523 PA)
  • Hank Thompson (308 PA)
  • Ray Noble (148 PA)
  • Artie Wilson (24PA)

Irvin and Noble were around all year, and the rookie Mays hit .477 in AAA and forced his way into the lineup for good on May 25th. A slumping and presumably banged up Thompson missed a couple weeks several times and spent a couple in AAA as well. Wilson pinch hit numerous times early in the season, got only three starts, and was farmed out to AAA in late May hitting under .200.

The 1952 Giants:

  • Thompson (486 PA)
  • Mays (144 PAs)
  • Irvin (136 PAs)
  • Noble (5 PAs)

Irvin got hurt, Mays got drafted, Thompson got better, and Noble got farmed out. In the minors, the Giants had few dark-skinned replacements for their injured. Ray Dandridge was playing at AAA Minneapolis, but despite a nice .291 average, his overall slash line was a putrid: .291/.327/387 in a league that scored 4.88 R/G versus the NL’s 4.17 and slashed .271/.352./407.

I think we can stop here. If some “gentleman’s” agreement existed not to have more than X, Y, or Z number of dark-skinned players on a roster, these two teams don’t appear to have taken part in the collusion. It is, of course, possible that the rest of the league was so colluding, but I don’t have enough time to go through every team’s rosters and their players’ game logs to ferret it out. I’ll leave it to someone else. The point is that from this limited evidence if there is collusion, it’s kind of patchy. It’s much more likely that these teams were merely managing their rosters around injuries and poor performance. At least that’s my take. I’d love to see more in the comments from those who might have more complete information.

Memorial Day

This is our national day of remembrance, and we thank all of our veterans whose lives were sacrificed in the protection of our democratic institutions, our liberty, and our safety. The baseball world doesn’t have a remembrance day, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back on some of the 80 ballplayers who died since Memorial Day 2016 (May 30th).

We can’t talk about every ballplayer who died because, frankly, we’d all be asleep. But we’ll list them all out and provide commentary as we are so moved. Please place your own remembrances, comments, and stray thoughts in the comments.

Obviously, we hope that the loved ones these men leave behind are comforted in their time of loss and understand the joy their ballplayer family member or friend brought to many millions of others.

  • Dick Adams
  • Red Adams
  • Bob Addis
  • Vic Albury
  • Gair Allie
  • Ruben Amaro, Sr.
  • Jose Arcia
  • Steve Arlin
  • John Barfield: No relation to Jesse and Josh.
  • Vic Barnhart
  • Juan Bell: Bad year for the 1980s Phils. Bell, Greg Jelks, and Dallas Green all goners.
  • Neil Berry
  • Bob Bowman
  • Ralph Branca: An acquaintance of mine is Ralph Branca’s niece…. Of course, Branca threw one of the ten most notorious pitches in MLB history. What are those other nine doomed pitches? Here’s some strong candidates:
    • Eddie Cicotte: Hitting Reds’ leadoff man Morrie Rath with the game’s first pitch indicated that the Black Sox fix was in.
    • Al Downing: Hank Aaron’s 1974 record-breaking homer had a similar effect, but in the racially charged 1970s, with Hammerin’ Hank receiving death threats as he approached the Babe’s 714 homers, the atmosphere was even more charged
    • Bump Hadley: Crushing Mickey Cochrane’s skull with a fastball and effectively ending his career.
    • Carl Mays: Killing Ray Chapman with a pitch in 1919, Major League Baseball’s lone on-field fatality
    • Donnie Moore: Allowed the Dave Henderson homer that sent the Angels’ hopes to hell in 1986. Especially notable because it haunted Moore for years until he took his own life
    • Tracy Stallard: Roger Maris homered, and the Babe was dethroned, asterisk be damned, ending an era of sorts.
    • Bob Stanley: The wild pitch that tied the score in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, setting up the Buckner botch
    • Ralph Terry: Giving up Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 World Series game-seven winning walk-off homer
    • Mike Torrez: Bucky Dent’s homer to catapult the Yankees over the reeling Red Sox in the 1978 one-game playoff to decide the AL East
    • Tim Wakefield: Aaron Boone turned Wakefield’s 12th inning pitch into a walk-off playoff win.
    • Mitch Williams: Coughing up Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series game-six winning walk-off roundtripper
  • Alan Brice
  • Jackie Brown
  • Mark Brownson
  • Bob Bruce
  • Mike Brumley
  • Jim Bunning: I hate the Senator’s politics, but I love the pitcher’s career. An easy choice for the Hall of Miller and Eric, and a shame that the BBWAA couldn’t figure him out for the 15 years they kicked his name around. My various adjusted WAR for him shows four seasons with more than 7.0 WAR and another with 6.6. Tack onto those two 4.0+ seasons, one above 3.0, and four more above 2.0. His career is slightly more stretched out version of Juan Marichal’s, or a peakier Luis Tiant. Regardless, his career is plenty good enough for the HoME or any Hall worth its salt.
  • Putsy Caballero: Caballero means gentleman in Spanish. It can also mean a horseman in the southwestern US. Putsy (an alternative spelling of putzy) means stupid, idiotic, foolish. Which makes one wonder how Ralph Joseph Caballero from New Orleans got his nickname.
  • Chris Cannizaro: Poor guy. As a 24-year-old in 1962, he was rostered by the famously inept 1962 Mets. Then in 1969, at a more mature 31, he played for the inaugural Padres squad. He and his 68 OPS+ were the Friars’ lone All-Star representative. The honor could easily have devolved upon Nate Colbert (127 OPS+) or Al Ferrara (124 OPS+). In fairness, his OPS dropped 50 points from the time the voting was conducted to the actual game itself, then it collapsed again in the second half.
  • Eddie Carnett
  • Bob Cerv: Here’s one of those guys that made AL fans in the 1950s puke. Cerv could really hit, but the Yanks were lousy with outfielders, so they traded him to the KC A’s, also known to the AL as the unofficial farm team of the Yanks. There he proceeded to hit the dickens out of the ball for a couple years, at which point, the Yanks said “thanks for taking care of him, we’ll have him back now.” The Bombers got 8 homers and a 113 OPS+ as they patched over an injury to Roger Maris. They let him go in the expansion draft to the LA Angels, who promptly traded him back to the Bronx where he mashed down the stretch to help the Yanks breeze to the pennant and once more patch over injuries. The team could seemingly summon guys like Cerv, Enos Slaughter, Johnny Mize, or whoever they needed at will from some corner of the baseball world (usually KC), and those guys rarely sucked. Kinda like the 1990s–2000s Yanks, now that I think on it.
  • Bill Champion
  • Bryan Clutterbuck: Out of respect for those who have passed on, I’m not going to tell you exactly why I pause every time I see his name, but I suspect you can guess.
  • Choo-Choo Coleman: One of the great early Mets, famous, of course, for calling everyone “”
  • Marlan Coughtry: They don’t make names like this anymore. Straight out of central casting for tough-guy westerns.
  • Neil Dade
  • Joe DaMaestri: Sort of the Johnnie LeMaster of his day, without the awful moustache.
  • Bill Endicott
  • Leon Everitt
  • Jack Faszholz
  • Jose Fernandez: Obviously, a death representing both tragedy and the foolishness of youth. But if we play What If, can we say much about what the baseball world will miss out on? It’s very hard to say because Fernandez had already gone under the knife and had never reached 200 innings. His best campaign was his first, though none were too shabby. 38-17 with a 151 ERA+ for the Fish is pretty great. He could hit a little too. At 20 Fernando was his most comparable pitcher with Denis Eckersley and George Uhle also in the top ten. At 21 it shifted to Jack Stivetts, Mark Fidrych, he first Dutch Leonard, and Howie Pollett. At 22, Fidrych and Mark Prior plus Pollett once again. Fydrich and Prior = bad news. But after age 23 came an interesting mix include some incredible comps (Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens), some very good ones (Addie Joss and Mel Stottlemyre) and another warning sign (Herb Score). With pitchers, you always take the more conservative approach because it’s a game of survival, not merely ability. The Marlins and their fans would no doubt sign up for Joss (160-97, 45.9 WAR) or Stottlemyre (164-139, 40.6 WAR).
  • Chico Fernandez: Fernandez was a bad baseball player, -2.3 career WAR. But I mention him now because I hope that no one else in MLB from now until eternity will be known regularly as “” The word means “boy” in Spanish. (Although to be fair it can also be a nickname for Francisco.) We would never, ever call a player “boy” today, especially not an African-American. The last player I recall being referred to as “Chico” even a little bit was Jose Lind. I haven’t heard it since. Good riddance.
  • Dave Ferriss: Great hitting pitcher. He had MVP votes in 1945 and 1946, winning 46 games over the two years. His arm went south in 1947 and never recovered. He was done by 1950.
  • Todd Frohwirth: A submariner and a bullpen mainstay for two amazing years. Today his 1991–1993 stats look like a joke. He tossed 299 innings of 153 ERA+ baseball, including 106 frames in 1992. He saved only 11 games in his career despite his overall effectiveness. He had a massive platoon split to the tune of 175 points of OPS. His K/BB ratio against righties was 2.13:1 and 0.80 versus lefties.
  • Phil Gagliano
  • Ned Garver: Not to be confused with turn of the 20th Century hurler Ned Garvin. Garver’s record is pretty impressive despite its appearance: 129-157, 3.73 ERA, leading the AL in losses in 1949, hits allowed in 1955, and earned runs allowed in 1955. He mad just one All-Star team (1951) and never received a Cy Young vote (it wasn’t initiated until much of his career was over). He did finish second in the MVP voting for 1951, the one year he won 20 games and even picked up a stray vote the year before despite a 13-18 record with the lowly Browns. He pitched mostly for crappy teams, coming to the big leagues with the late 1940s Brownies, sliding over to the so-so Tigers of the mid 1950s, gliding toward retirement with the lowly KC A’s, and wrapping up with the expansion Angels in 1961. The underlying facts, however add up to a better pitcher than all that. My own systems indicate a candidate about as strong as Steve Rogers, Carl Mays, Eppa Rixey, Jesse Tannehill, and Mickey Welch. Yeah, not a HoMEr, but a pretty good. And less famous than any of those guys, except maybe Tannehill.
  • Dallas Green: I never liked Dallas Green. In fact, I still carry a grudge. Green hailed from some fictitious era and land of chest-thumping, red ass machismo. As a player Dallas Green was 20-22 with an 88 ERA+. A great basis from which to judge the performance of others. He destroyed the arms of Generation K because…Dallas Green. That was what real men did I guess. Soon after, he went back to the Phillies, where he’d worked for two decades in the 1960s and 1970s. He helped push Scott Rolen out of town by trash talking him in the press. “Scotty’s satisfied with being a so-so player. I think he can be greater, but his personality won’t let him.” Rolen, 27 at the time, was merely turning in the same excellent season he always did. But you know…Dallas Green (and fellow loudmouth, red-ass fool Larry Bowa who piled on). Rolen was dealt shortly after to the Cards. He was going to be a free agent at the end of the season, and Green led the organizational charge to ensure that the great third baseman wouldn’t resign. Green did some wonderful work to help get the Phillies a title in 1980 and the Cubs into the playoffs in the 1980s. But destroying three young arms and riding a team’s best player out on a rail seem like the kind of stupidity that should mar his reputation. Instead, upon his death, he was considered an outspoken baseball lifer or baseball man. Let’s hope that’s a dying breed because it sure looks like a synonym for jerk to me.
  • Doug Griffin
  • Vern Handrahan
  • Bill Hands: Little remembered today, from 1967–1973 Hands ran off a string of fine seasons, including an 8 WAR performance in 1969. He tossed 1547 innings of 126 ERA+ ball, never made an All0Star team, never got a Cy Young vote. With 30 pitching WAR, he’s very similar to Teddy Higuera and Mike Garcia, well known pitchers with relatively short careers but a very nice prime. Because Garcia was one of Cleveland’s four aces in the 1950s, Hands is probably the least well known of the three. But he was a fine, fine pitcher.
  • Phil Hennigan
  • Jim Hickman: In 1970 at 33, he came out of absolutely nowhere to throw down a 5.0 WAR season, get onto the All-Star team and finish 8th in the MVP voting for the Cubbies. Timing is everything, and that same performance just a year earlier would have gone a long way toward fending off the Amazin’ Hickman’s 1970 is amazingly anomalous compared to the rest of his career. His bat was worth +63 runs. He produced +43 of them in 1970. He had just one other season with more than 1.4 WAR in 1972 at 35 when he popped out 2.4 WAR for the Bruins thanks to another +15 batting runs. Which means that +58 of his +63 runs came in just two years. Pretty weird.
  • Mark Higgins
  • Hal Hudson
  • Greg Jelks: Not to be confused with the great Steve Jeltz on those amazing late-1980s Phillies squads.
  • Joe Kirrene
  • Steve Korcheck
  • Bob Kuzava
  • Jim Lehew
  • Stu Locklin
  • Turk Lown: At one time, the majors featured two Turks: Lown and Farrell. I’ve always conflated both of them with the infamous Turk Wendell of the tween-innings teeth-brushing. Lown is the worst pitcher of the three. Farrell and Wendell were actually pretty good.
  • Harry MacPherson
  • Andy Marte: Marte died this January in an automobile accident. Something happened to him in 2005 that derailed his career. Marte began his pro career at age 17 with the Braves’ rookie ball squad in the Appalachian League. He advanced a level a year, losing very little in his offensive slash line as he faced stiffer competition. Prospect mavens named him the #9 prospect in the minors before 2005. He stiffed as a 21-year old in a brief stint with parent club but continued to hit well in AAA. Before 2006, he was still the #14 prospect in the minors and was traded to Boston for Edgar Renteria and then flipped to Cleveland in a deal for CoCo Crisp. In Buffalo that year, he lost power and patience, in the majors, he flopped (though he showed some pop), and lost his place on prospect lists. The rest of his career was similar. Up and down and never really finding a foothold and, except for 82 games in AAA in 2009, never again as a younger player showed much of what made him a well-regarded prospect. I don’t know what happened. Was he injured in 2005? Was he out of shape? I remember rumors to that effect. Or is there really such thing as a Quad-A player?
  • Gordon Massa
  • Sam Mele
  • Ed Mierkowicz: A name that sounds like he should have been a mechanic on the Andy Griffith show.
  • Carl Miles
  • Don Minnick
  • Steve Nagy
  • Morris Nettles: No relation
  • Russ Nixon
  • Luis Olmo: In baseball random happens. Olmo tripled 13 times in 1945 to lead the NL—more than half his 25 career three-baggers.
  • John Orsino
  • Lee Pfund
  • Ruben Quevedo: A real lifesaver in baseball Scrabble.
  • Robert Ramsay
  • Johnny Rutherford
  • Bob Sadowski
  • Charlie Sands
  • Joe Schaffernoth
  • Roy Sievers: Sievers won the Rookie of the Year in 1949. He suffered some shoulder and arm injuries the next several years. He slumped terribly in 1950 as a 23 year old, and according to the man, himself, the organization tried to fiddle with his swing. It didn’t work. The Brownies jerked him around for another three years before dealing him to Washington. He was 27. Through age 34, all he did was make four All-Star teams, receive MVP votes six times, finishing as high as third, and lead the AL in homers in 1957 with 42, despite playing his home games in cavernous Griffith Stadium. Stupidly, the team made him a left fielder. He was OK at first but poor in the pastures, and the long distances in DC exposed him. He later played in Comiskey Park, another chamber of horrors for power hitters. One wonders how many dingers he’d have hit playing in Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Or, for that matter, for a team that knew what to do with him in his early 20s.
  • Daryl Spencer: Couldn’t hit. Average runner. Kinda spotty glove. But could fake it well enough in the middle infield to be an average big leaguer…until he couldn’t, which took about 4000 PA. A fairly similar player in all these regards to Billy Martin
  • Dick Star: There used to be a lot of Dicks in the majors. Now, for reasons that should be obvious there aren’t. This guy should have gone by Rich.
  • Mike Strahler
  • Walt Streuli
  • Yordano Ventura: Another very sad and untimely death. Most deaths are untimely since in general we don’t want folks to die. With the exception of a few truly awful souls, whose deaths are untimely because we wished they’d gone sooner. Anyway, a la Jose Fernandez above, we can’t speak much to what baseball’s future loses in Ventura’s absence. He threw a mere 548 innings. Mostly they were good innings, and he finished with a 106 ERA+ and 7.2 WAR. After his age-25 season, he had a nice set of comps that included Jack Morris, Gio Gonzalez, Ernie Broglio, Darryl Kile (spookily), Joe Sparma, Wade Miller, Black Jack McDowell, Roy Halladay, and Mike Torrez. All of these guys were quality pitchers (Gonzalez, of course, is still at it). If an arc between Wade Miller and Roy Halladay describes his potential MLB career, then any fan would want to see it through.
  • Ken Wright
  • Jose Zardon

And that’s our baseball memorial roll since last Memorial Day. There’s lots more to say about any or all of these guys. Please add your thoughts in the comments.

HoME Standings III: finally, fully updated

We’re finally into the top ten in the HoME Standings. If your favorite team isn’t on the list below, check back on our first two posts You’ll be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn who our top contestant is, but there’s a lot going on underneath them, and if your favorite nine remains, cheer up, most of these clubs have some very interesting prospects for advancement.

#10–1

TEAM                       YEARS    HoMERS /YEAR
=================================================
10 Cleveland Indians     1901–2017  11.11   0.10
 9 Oakland Athletics     1901–2017  11.40   0.10
 8 Detroit Tigers        1901–2017  13.15   0.12
 7 Boston Red Sox        1901–2017  13.37   0.12
 6 St. Louis Cardinals   1882–2017  13.92   0.11
 5 Atlanta Braves        1876-2017  15.45   0.11
 4 Chicago Cubs          1876–2017  17.91   0.13
 3 San Francisco Giants  1883–2017  18.50   0.14
 2 Los Angeles Dodgers   1884–2017  19.63   0.15
 1 New York Yankees      1903–2017  22.16   0.21
  • Cleveland Indians
    HoMErs: Bob Feller (100%), Lou Boudreau (96%), Stan Coveleski (81%), Joe Sewell (79%), Nap Lajoie (64%), Elmer Flick (63%), Kenny Lofton (62%), Tris Speaker (55%), Joe Jackson (50%), Wes Ferrell (50%), Early Wynn (50%), Manny Ramirez (42%), Buddy Bell (41%), Al Lopez (38%), Joe Gordon (36%), Luis Tiant (34%), Gaylord Perry (21%), Roberto Alomar (20%), Denis Eckersley (19%), Graig Nettles (19%), Orel Hershiser (18%), Bert Blyleven (15%), Chuck Finley (14%), Eddie Murray (10%), Bobby Bonds (8%), Phil Niekro (7%), Cy Young (7%), Sam Rice (4%), Frank Robinson (2%), Steve Carlton (2%), Keith Hernandez (2%), Hal Newhouser (2%), Jeff Kent (1%), Dave Winfield (1%)
  • Retired: Jim Thome (115), Dwight Gooden (99), George Uhle (97), Ralph Kiner (96), Jason Giambi (95), Larry Doby (95), Cliff Lee (95), Mark Langston (95)
  • Active: C.C. Sabathia (104), Bartolo Colon (86), Victor Martinez (74), Corey Kluber (55), Terry Francona

The Tribe has done a nice job of developing and collecting HoME talent…and a lousy job of timing many of those acquisitions. But Thome and Sabathia should provide about 1 HoME career between them. As we mentioned last time, Larry Doby could also contribute 80% of a career if we do the Negro Leagues and elect him. Call it 1.9 or so careers. Tack on maybe a third of Tito’s tenure, and there’s a lot in the till. Definitely enough to claim 9th place, maybe enough to reach 8th. It’s probably too late for Michael Brantley to build enough of a case to make the HoME, but Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor are well on their way, and Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar have enough talent that if one of them goes on the Randy Johnson career path, they could be a contender. I wouldn’t be the house on that, though.

Oakland Athletics

  • HoMErs: Connie Mack (96%), Eddie Plank (86%), Bob Johnson (79%), Mickey Cochrane (78%), Sal Bando (73%), Mark McGwire (71%), Rube Waddell (63%), Lefty Grove (60%), Al Simmons (59%), Home Run Baker (58%), Rickey Henderson (56%), Jimmie Foxx (54%), Reggie Jackson (48%), Eddie Collins (38%), Tony Phillips (38%), Wally Schang (30%), Tony La Russa (29%), Denis Eckersley (18%), Dick Williams (16%), Nap Lajoie (15%), Kevin Appier (11%), Billy Williams (10%), Frank Thomas (8%), Ty Cobb (7%), Jimmy Collins (7%), Goose Gossage (5%), Mike Piazza (4%), Joe Morgan (4%), Don Sutton (4%), Willie Randolph (4%), Zack Wheat (3%), Dick Allen (3%), Tris Speaker (2%), Tim Raines (1%), Elmer Flick (1%), Joe Jackson (1%), Stan Coveleski (1%), Willie McCovey (+0%)
  • Retired: Eddie Rommel (106), Tim Hudson (102), Gene Tenace (102), Ron Cey (97), Enos Slaughter (96), Jason Giambi (95), Billy Martin
  • Active: Ben Zobrist (90), Bartolo Colon (86), Josh Donaldson (85), Matt Holliday (82), Carlos Gonzalez (62), Billy Beane

Those Swingin’ A’s are about to slide outside the top ten. We talked about the surging Phils the last time out, and the Indians just above, and they will sweep away the Athletics who have very little to come back at them with. About 40% of Hudson, Billy Bean, and tiny bits of some others who might or might not pan out. It could be 1.0 to 1.5 careers. Not enough to catch the next team, not enough to drown out the war drumming of the Indians, maybe just enough to Phight the Phils phor now.

Detroit Tigers

  • HoMErs: Bill Freehan (100%), Charlie Gehringer (100%), Al Kaline (100%), Alan Trammell (100%), Lou Whitaker (100%), Hal Newhouser (98%), Harry Heilmann (94%), Ty Cob (93%), Hank Greenberg (92%), Bobby Veach (90%), Sam Crawford (84%), Sparky Anderson (64%), Jim Bunning (505), Tony Phillips (36%), Darrell Evans (26%), Ivan Rodriguez (25%), Goose Goslin (23%), Mickey Cochrane (22%), Gary Sheffield (10%), Al Simmons (7%), Eddie Mathews (2%), Wally Schang (1%)
  • Retired: Hughie Jennings (102), Charlie Keller (101), Chet Lemon (99), George Uhle (97), Dizzy Trout (95), Larry Doby (95)
  • Active: Miguel Cabrera (115), Justin Verlander (101), Ian Kinsler (99), Max Scherzer (98), Curtis Granderson (86), David Price (75), Victor Martinez (74), Jordan Zimmerman (55)

I’m pretty sanguine about the chances of Cabrera, Verlander, Kinsler, and Scherzer together, they’d add about 2.4 careers to the Bengals’ total. That’s certain to push the team at least one or two notches upward, and maybe more. After that, however, Price wasn’t around that long and his future isn’t certain given his current injury. Jordan Zimmerman would need to turn in a great second act, and none of the other active players looks like they will step up.

Boston Red Sox

  • HoMErs: Bobby Doerr (100%), Ted Williams (100%), Carl Yastrzemski (100%), Dwight Evans (97%), Harry Hooper (71%), Wade Boggs (68%), Roger Clemens (56%), Reggie Smith (53%), Joe Cronin (52%), Luis Tiant (51%), Pedro Martinez (48%), Manny Ramirez (48%), Carlton Fisk (44%), Denis Eckersley (42%), Jimmie Foxx (41%), Lefty Grove (40%), Tris Speaker (38%), Cy Young (35%), Wes Ferrell (33%), Jimmy Collins (27%), Red Ruffing (25%), Curt Schilling (21%), Wally Schang (18%), Dick Williams (16%), Bob Johnson (15%), Bret Saberhagen (13%), Babe Ruth (13%), Frank Chance (9%), Fergie Jenkins (9%), Bobby Veach (8%), Andre Dawson (7%), Jesse Burkett (7%), David Cone (5%), Lou Boudreau (4%), Tom Seaver (2%), Juan Marichal (2%), Rickey Henderson (2%), Al Simmons (1%), John Smoltz (1%)
  • Retired: John Olerud (99), Dizzy Trout (95)
  • Active: Adrian Beltre (115), Dustin Pedroia (87), Chris Sale (86), Bartolo Colon (86), Adrian Gonzalez (85), Jon Lester (84), Hanley Ramirez (77), David Price (75), Victor Martinez (74), John Lackey (72), Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, John Henry

The Sox have been great in the Twenty-First Century, though often featuring a roster full of talented players. Among the players above, what they seem likely to end up with is about 10% of Beltre’s career, at least 80% of Pedroia’s career, at least 20% of Sale’s career, if he doesn’t break down, about 60% of Lester’s tenure, half of Theo, and a third of Tito 2.5 careers. That’s a lot! If Miller and I get sentimental, then maybe David Ortiz has a shot. At this point he’s more appropriate for the Hall of Fame rather than the Hall of Miller and Eric. Like Detroit, if things bounce right for them, the Sox could barge into the top five. In the longer term, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and, perhaps, Andrew Benintendi can give them additional fuel to continue rising in the standings.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • HoMErs: Sam Breadon (100%), Bob Gibson (100%), Stan Musial (100%), Ken Boyer (85%), Ozzie Smith (75%), Rogers Hornsby (71%), Ted Simmons (67%), Whitey Herzog (64%), Branch Rickey (61%), Frankie Frisch (56%), Billy Southworth (55%), Keith Hernandez (55%), Jim Edmonds (55%), Tony La Russa (51%), Johnny Mize (49%), Miller Huggins (30%), Mark McGwire (29%), Roger Bresnahan (25%), Steve Carlton (24%), Jesse Burkett (20%), Bobby Wallace (10%), Roger Connor (17%), Reggie Smith (17%), Joe Torre (16%), Bob Howsam (16%), Jose Cruz (16%), Pete Alexander (16%), Charlie Comiskey (15%), Jack Glasscock (11%), Cy Young (9%), Kid Nichols (8%), Dick Allen (7%), Mordecai Brown (7%), Larry Walker (7%), Bill McKechnie (6%), Dazzy Vance (5%), Vic Willis (5%), Willie Davis (4%), Denis Eckersley (3%), Bobby Bonds (3%), Chuck Finley (3%), Jimmy Sheckard (2%), Pud Galvin (2%), Clark Griffith (1%), John Smoltz (1%)
  • Retired: Bob Caruthers (116), Scott Rolen (115), Cupid Childs (106), Dizzy Dean (106), Pete Browning (104), George Gore (102), Gene Tenace (102), Will Clark (101), Cesar Cedeño (98), Jake Beckley (97), Ted Breitenstein (96), Tony Mullane (96), Enos Slaughter (96), Babe Adams (95), Lance Berkman (95), Joe Medwick (95)
  • Active: Albert Pujols (163), Carlos Beltran (115), Adam Wainwright (85), Matt Holliday (82), Yadier Molina (76), John Lackey (72), John Mozeliak

If everything goes the Cards’ way, they could make a big jump. That would mean we elected Rolen, Slaughter, Pujols, Beltran, Molina, and Wainwright, putting about 3.75 Cards careers into the HoME. Or we might only end up with Rolen, Pujols, and Beltran, which would be about 1.2 careers. When you look at how these standings are bunched, that’s a very large difference. Perhaps enough to swing 6th place to someone else.

Atlanta Braves    

  • HoMErs: John Smoltz (98%), Warren Spahn (96%), Eddie Mathews (94%), Hank Aaron (94%), Kid Nichols (90%), Bobby Cox (86%), Phil Niekro (85%), Frank Selee (77%), Tom Glavine (77%), Vic Willis (65%), John Schuerholz (63%), Greg Maddux (49%), John Clarkson (47%), Billy Southworth (45%), Billy Hamilton (42%), Bill McKechnie (34%), Darrell Evans (33%), Old Hoss Radbourn (32%), George Wright (32%), King Kelly (30%), Charlie Bennett (30%), Jimmy Collins (25%), Casey Stengel (23%), Dave Bancroft (23%), Harry Wright (21%), George Sisler (19%), Sherry Magee (17%), Jim O’Rourke (14%), Ross Barnes (12%), Gary Sheffield (11%), Joe Torre (11%), Bill Dahlen (8%), Dan Brouthers (7%), Jimmy Wynn (7%), Paul Waner (7%), Rogers Hornsby (7%), Kenny Lofton (6%), Ted Simmons (5%), Paul Hines (4%), Deacon White (4%), Al Simmons (4%), Billy Herman (3%), Gaylord Perry (3%), Graig Nettles (2%), Cy Young (1%), Babe Ruth (1%), Ed Walsh (1%), Wes Ferrell (1%), Bucky Walters (+0%)
  • Retired: Chipper Jones (120), Andruw Jones (115), Tim Hudson (102), Charlie Buffinton (97), Harry Stovey (100), Wally Berger (97), Enos Slaughter (96), Hardy Richardson (95)
  • Active: Bartolo Colon (86), Brian McCann (72), Jason Heyward (69)

Jones, Jones, and Hudson would give the Bravos another 2.3 careers. And they need every one because it’ll be a long time before anyone else is electable. Those are the last of the 1990s Braves and most of the last of the 2000s Braves that made the playoffs for nearly a decade. Jason Heyward? Maybe Freddie Freeman? Could Julio Tehran take a step up and stay there a long while? It won’t be enough to catch the Cubbies, it should be enough to hold off the Cards’s best case scenario.

Chicago Cubs

  • HoMErs: Ernie Banks (100%), William Hulbert (100%), Ryne Sandberg (100%), Al Spalding (100%), Gabby Hartnett (98%), Ron Santo (96%), Billy Williams (90%), Cap Anson (89%), Joe Tinker (86%), Sammy Sosa (80%), Frank Chance (73%), Mordecai Brown (72%), Billy Herman (71%), Rick Reuschel (65%), Fergie Jenkins (59%), Jimmy Sheckard (48%), King Kelly (48%), Bill Dahlen (44%), Greg Maddux (41%), Greg Maddux (41%), John Clarkson (37%), Pete Alexander (37%), Andre Dawson (33%), Leo Durocher (28%), Frank Selee (23%), Joe McCarthy (22%), Roger Bresnahan (19%), Ross Barnes (18%), Tommy Leach (17%), Denis Eckersley (16%), Rogers Hornsby (14%), Clark Griffith (14%), Richie Ashburn (11%), Rube Waddell (9%), Rafael Palmeiro (8%), Paul Hines (8%), Deacon White (4%), Jim Edmonds (4%), Goose Gossage (3%), Jimmie Foxx (3%), Kenny Lofton (3%), Bobby Bonds (2%), Robin Roberts (1%)
  • Retired: Dizzy Dean (106), Ned Williamson (104), George Gore (102), Ron Cey (97), Ralph Kiner (96), Jim Sundberg (96)
  • Active: Ben Zobrist (90), Jon Lester (84), John Lackey (72), Jason Heyward (69), Anthony Rizzo (55), Jake Arrieta (53), Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon

What makes the Cubs’ a threat to go dynasty on the league is also what makes their near term HoME outlook a little bleak. The earliest they might elect a player that we haven’t already passed over is maybe eight to ten years from now. That’s when Ben Zobrist comes due. He might yet assemble a strong enough case, or he might just fall short. Jon Lester will arrive several years after that, and the team should get a nice chunk of his career. If Jason Heyward learns to hit again, his turn would be another for or more years thereafter. But he’s a big question mark. After that, you’re waiting for Theo or Maddon to retire, though Maddon will have a tougher climb if he doesn’t win another title. At that point it’s probably also Rizzo’s time. He’s been awfully good and very durable, and if we’ve seen his best, he’ll have to go the Eddie Murray route and be very good for very long. Then it’ll be Kris Bryant’s turn. He’s played a total of 344 games, so I’m not excited to start calling him a HoMEr yet. His BBREF comps have some danger signs: Danny Tartabull, Ralph Kiner, Carlos Gonzalez, Rocky Colavito, Fernando Tatis, Tom Tresh. Let’s not start casting the bronze quite yet. There’s a lot of reason for optimism here, and there’s not much we can safely predict yet.

San Francisco Giants  

  • HoMErs: Carl Hubbell (100%), Mel Ott (100%), Bill Terry (100%), Christy Mathewson (+99%), Juan Marichal (98%), Willie Mays (96%), Amos Rusie (93%), John McGraw (93%), Willie McCovey (88%), Art Fletcher (86%), Barry Bonds (66%), Joe McGinnity (61%), Monte Ward (61%), Bobby Bonds (57%), Roger Connor (56%), Buck Ewing (55%), George Davis (47%), Tim Keefe (44%), Frankie Frisch (44%), Roger Bresnahan (43%), Gaylord Perry (43%), Darrell Evans (41%), Jeff Kent (41%), Jim O’Rourke (39%), Johnny Mize (38%), Leo Durocher (31%), Dave Bancroft (30%), Bill Dahlen (22%), Rick Reuschel (16%), Jack Glasscock (13%), Joe Morgan (8%), Rogers Hornsby (7%), Orel Hershiser (7%), Reggie Smith (5%), Jesse Burkett (5%), Gary Carter (3%), Goose Gossage (2%), Randy Johnson (2%), Duke Snider (2%), Gabby Hartnett (2%), Kenny Lofton (2%), Warren Spahn (1%), King Kelly (1%), Willie Keeler (%), Steve Carlton 91%), Dan Brouthers (0%)
  • Retired: George Gore (102), Will Clark (101), Heinie Groh (101), Jake Beckley (97), Wally Berger (97), George Uhle (97), Joe Medwick (95), Hardy Richardson (95)
  • Active: Carlos Beltran (115), Buster Posey (89), Madison Bumgarner (72), Matt Cain (71), Johnny Cueto (69), Bruce Bochy, Dusty Baker, Brian Sabean

The Giants led the pack for many electoral years until our number one club wrested the top spot away about two-thirds through the journey. At this point, a chunk of Heinie Groh, a sliver of Beltran, probably most of Posey, and that’s the more bankable stuff. MadBum and Cueto are very much building their legend, and in the backlog, no one else is screaming elect-me to us at this time. So the Giants will need to turn to off-the-field honorees. Bochy is a slam-dunk and worth about two-thirds of a career. Sabean’s probably also a slam dunk, and he appears to be a lifer at PacBell/AT&T/whatever it’s called now. Dusty Baker ought to win the big one before any gets excited over his prospects. Sans the management team the Giants over the long term are likely to lose some ground to the pack whether or not they are passed. Their leadership is their saving grace.

Los Angeles Dodgers    

  • HoMErs: Walter Alston (100%), Roy Campanella (100%), Al Campanis (100%), Don Drysdale (100%), Sandy Koufax (100%), Walter O’Malley (100%), Pee Wee Reese (100%), Jackie Robinson (100%), Zack Wheat (97%), Duke Snider (93%), Dazzy Vance (93%), Willie Davis (82%), Don Sutton (72%), Orel Hershiser (69%), Buzzie Bavasi (60%), Larry MacPhail (45%), Jimmy Sheckard (41%), Ned Hanlon (40%), Mike Piazza (39%), Leo Durocher (35%), Willie Keeler (27%), Bill Dahlen (27%), Kevin Brown (26%), Reggie Smith (26%), Billy Herman 925%), Jeff Kent (23%), Gary Sheffield (21%), Arky Vaughan (20%), Branch Rickey (20%), Eddie Murray (15%), Jimmy Wynn (15%), Monte Ward (15%), Dan Brouthers (13%), Davey Johnson (13%), Casey Stengel (12%), Dave Bancroft (12%), Joe Torre (10%), Max Carey (10%), Manny Ramirez (9%), Dick Allen (9%), Willie Randolph (8%), Kenny Lofton (6%), Paul Waner (4%), Pedro Martinez (4%), Frank Robinson (3%), Ken Boyer (3%), Gary Carter (3%), Greg Maddux (2%), Jim Bunning (2%), Rickey Henderson (1%), Juan Marichal (+0%), Wes Ferrell (+0%)
  • Retired: Bob Caruthers (116), Andruw Jones (115), Jim Thome (115), Pete Browning (104), Jim McCormick (103), Hughie Jennings (102), Nap Rucker (102), Harry Stovey (100), Mike Griffin (99), Cesar Cedeño (98), Ron Cey (97), Wilbur Cooper (97), Bobby Abreu (95), Joe Medwick (95)
  • Active: Clayton Kershaw (119), Adrian Beltre (115), Zack Grienke (107), Chase Utley (104), Russell Martin (93), Adrian Gonzalez (85), Hanley Ramirez (77)

We can’t realistically predict how long a player will stay with his team. Even if he signs a big, long contract, trades, buy-outs, and opt-outs happen. So I can really only give about 60% of Clayton Kershaw to the Dodgers. Adrian Beltre is worth about 40% of a career to the team. Grienke about a quarter of a career. Chase Utley about 15%. If Russell Martin should rebound enough to just ease over the line, then there’s probably another 40%. Among retirees, Andruw Jones is three points, Jim Thome’s worth 0% (just 17 PAs). En toto that’s about 1.8 careers, if things work out well. The Dodgers need 2.5 careers just to reach where the Yanks are right now. It’s absolutely possible to squint and see Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger and Julio Urias all coming through. But I don’t trust my squinty eyes that much.

New York Yankees      

  • HoMErs: Ed Barrow (100%), Bill Dickey (100%), Joe DiMaggio (100%), Whitey Ford (100%), Lou Gehrig (100%), Mickey Mantle (100%), Thurman Munson (100%), Jacob Ruppert (100%), Roy White (100%), Yogi Berra (100%), Babe Ruth (87%), Willie Randolph (79%), Red Ruffing (72%), Miller Huggins (70%), George Weiss (68%), Joe McCarthy (67%), Joe Gordon (64%), Graig Nettles (61%), Casey Stengel (49%), Joe Torre (45%), Mike Mussina (44%), Home Run Baker (42%), Dave Winfield (51%), Willie Keeler (39%), Urban Shocker (35%), David Cone (32%), Wally Schang (30%), Goose Gossage (28%), Larry MacPhail (27%), Wade Boggs (25%), Reggie Jackson (24%), Roger Clemens (23%), Joe Sewell (21%), Rickey Henderson (20%), Frank Chance (18%), Gary Sheffield (14%), Johnny Mize (13%), Randy Johnson (10%), Luis Tiant (10%), Clark Griffith (9%), Tim Raines (9%), Phil Niekro (8%), Bobby Bonds (8%), Kevin Brown (7%), Kenny Lofton (3%), Wes Ferrell (2%), Stan Coveleski (2%), Rick Reuschel (2%), Bobby Veach (2%), Jimmy Wynn (1%), Dazzy Vance (1%), Gaylord Perry (1%), Jose Cruz (1%), Ivan Rodriguez (1%), Paul Waner (+0%)
  • Retired: Alex Rodriguez (172), Andruw Jones (115), Andy Pettitte (102), Charlie Keller (101), Derek Jeter (100), Dwight Gooden (99), Noodles Hahn (99), John Olerud (99), Ron Guidry (98), George Uhle (97), Bernie Williams (97), Enos Slaughter (96), Bobby Abreu (95), Lance Berkman (95), Jason Giambi (95), Mariano Rivera
  • Active: Robinson Cano (120) Carlos Beltran (115), CC Sabathia (104), Ichiro (102), Russell Martin (93), Bartolo Colon (86), Curtis Granderson (86), Matt Holliday (82), Brian McCann (72), Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi

No doubt that no one is shocked to see Emperor Palpatine’s favorite team leading the pack. They will get 3.33 to 3.5 careers just out of the retirees. Establishing a long dynasty and staying competitive does that. Cano, Beltran, Sabathia, Ichiro together will add another 1.25 to 1.5 careers. So the New York Vaders are tacking on 5 HoMErs in short order. Toss Cashman and Girardi on the heap, and that’s for reals like 7 careers’ worth of Yankees. Hate or hate ‘em, they get the job done.

So that’s the state of play for now. Of course, this is all speculation and prediction. No one knows whether Clayton Kershaw will suddenly demand a trade to the Rays, or whether  Derek Jeter will buy the Marlins and put himself at shortstop, or whether Jason Hayward will rediscover his stroke or discover he’s had a stroke. It’s all up in the air. These are just some best guesses at what the future holds. And as a certain philosopher once said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Home Standings Part II: Finally, fully updated

On Monday, we began our look at the HoME team cap standings with defunct franchises as well as the bottom third of the current league. Some of those expansion squads and the ones we’ll talk about in a moment actually have a chance to climb into the Ring of Sixteen. None has yet, but the day may be coming soon, ya know. Once again, we’ll look at each team’s future HoME outlook by examining their current HoMErs, retired players with a 95 or higher CHEWS+, and active players with a good shot (CHEWS+ through the 2016 season).

#20–11

TEAM                        YEARS    HoMERS /YEAR
===================================================
20 Kansas City Royals     1969–2017   3.18   0.08
19 LA Angels of Anaheim   1961–2017   3.92   0.08
18 Houston Astros         1962–2017   4.85   0.10
17 New York Mets          1962–2017   4.94   0.10
16 Minnesota Twins        1901–2017   6.07   0.06
15 Cincinnati Reds        1882-2017   9.20   0.07
14 Pittsburgh Pirates     1882–2017   9.83   0.08
13 Philadelphia Phillies  1883–2017  10.02   0.08
12 Baltimore Orioles      1901–2017  10.05   0.09
11 Chicago White Sox      1901–2017  10.50   0.10

Kansas City Royals

  • HoMErs: George Brett (100%), Kevin Appier (70%), Bret Saberhagen (65%), John Schuerholz (37%), Whitey Herzog (30%), David Cone (15%), Gaylord Perry (2%)
  • Retired: Jim Sundberg (95)
  • Active: Carlos Beltran (115), Zack Grienke (107), Ben Zobrist (90), Jose Bautista (82), Alex Gordon (69), Johnny Cueto (69)

Isn’t it kinda weird that George Brett is the only KC position player to make the HoME? While Beltran (35% of a career) and Grienke (40%) will give the R’s a nice boost, no one else is an odds-on favorite quite yet. Zobrist is inching closer, but in his mid-30s, his game could collapse at any moment. Alex Gordon’s run at immortality has stalled thanks to injuries. Cueto is still very much making his case, but he spent only about two months in Royal blue. Jose Bautista spent less time than even that. So looks the team will at best tread HoME water for some time to come, and at worst will be forced to dip their crowns as other clubs pass them by. Unless, that is, Sal Perez takes a step forward as a hitter in his late 20s and deep into his 30s.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • HoMErs: Chuck Finley (84%), Bobby Grich (59%), Nolan Ryan (41%), Jim Edmonds (37%), Rod Carew (34%), Buzzie Bavasi (24%), Reggie Jackson (24%), Bobby Bonds (14%), Tony Phillips (12%), Dick Williams (11%), Kevin Appier (11%), Bert Blyleven (10%), Frank Robinson (10%), Dave Winfield (9%), Don Sutton (8%), Eddie Murray (1%), Rickey Henderson (1%), Luis Tiant (1%), Willie Davis (1%), Whitey Herzog (+0%).
  • Retired: Vlad Guerrero (101), Bobby Abreu (95), Mark Langston (95), Harry Dalton
  • Active: Albert Pujols (165), Mike Trout (118), Zack Grienke (107), Bartolo Colon (86), John Lackey (72), Joe Maddon

It’s not a bad outlook for the Angels. They’ve got enough to stay ahead of the Royals and might have enough cushion to keep up with the hard-charging teams behind that. On the other hand, in the longer term, the team has little in the minor league system and may be due for a rebuild, so you Halo Hombres might be facing a long drought after Mike Trout. Who by the way, you might notice already has a compelling case for the HoME based on his performance through 2016. He’s on a 10-WAR pace again this year.

Houson Astros

  • HoMErs: Jeff Bagwell (100%), Craig Biggio (100%), Jose Cruz (83%), Jimmy Wynn (75%), Joe Morgan (40%), Nolan Ryan (34%), Jeff Kent (12%), Roger Clemens (11%), Don Sutton (7%), Leo Durocher (5%), Eddie Mathews (4%), Ivan Rodriguez (3%), Robin Roberts (3%), Buddy Bell (3%), Curt Schilling (3%), Randy Johnson (2%), Kenny Lofton (1%)
  • Retired: Andy Pettitte (102), Roy Oswalt (101), Cesar Cedeño (98), Lance Berkman (95), Bobby Abreu (95)
  • Active: Carlos Beltran (115), Brian McCann (72)

If we elect Oswalt, then the Astros have enough on hand to rocket past the lowest member in the Ring of Sixteen (about 1.2 careers). Even if not, they have a wide launch window. Unlike the Angels and Royals, the Stros have youngsters with the right stuff to take off into stardom. Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, and maybe even George Springer have HoME liftoff potential. Put this team in the watch bucket. And they are awfully close to passing…

New York Mets

  • HoMErs: Tom Seaver (63%), Mike Piazza (51%), Keith Hernandez (43%), Davey Johnson (41%), David Cone (41%), George Weiss (32%), Gary Carter (32%), Tom Glavine (23%), Jeff Kent (21%), Bret Saberhagen (20%), Pedro Martinez (18%), Joe Torre (16%), Casey Stengel (15%), Eddie Murray (10%), Nolan Ryan (10%), Roberto Alomar (9%), Ken Boyer (9%), Kevin Appier (8%), Orel Hershiser (6%), Duke Snider (5%), Rickey Henderson (5%), Richie Ashburn (5%), Willie Mays (4%), Willie Randolph (4%), Gary Sheffield (3%), Warren Spahn (3%), Tony Phillips (3%), Yogi Berra (+0%)
  • Retired: Johan Santaña (110), John Olerud (99), Dwight Gooden (99), Bobby Abreu (95), Frank Cashen
  • Active: Carlos Beltran (115), David Wright (101), Curtis Granderson (86), Bartolo Colon (86), Sandy Alderson

The Mets could flex some serious HoME muscle. Santaña certainly has my eye, Beltran’s basically a given, and Wright is right on my borderline even if he never plays again. Add them up, and they’d be worth a minimum of a player and a half, maybe almost two. That’s enough to bust into the ring of sixteen. There’s also considerable young talent on the current roster. Michael Conforto is the only young hitter with potential for special things (if the team would quite jerking him around), but we already know that several of their pitchers have Hall kind of talent. But can they convert to a HoME career? Noah Syndergaard, of course. Who knows whether Matt Harvey can recapture his form, but if so, he’s got a shot. Jacob DeGrom has been great when he’s been healthy. I won’t tell you that all or most of these guys will end up near the HoME, but one might. That is if Mr. Met will leave Thor alone….

The Ring of Sixteen: The next big step for our expansion clubs is to slide into the sixteenth spot. Our next entrant has the lowest total of HoME careers among any of the teams thought of as the original AL/NL teams of the early two-league era. Consider these franchises have 60 to 100 years on their younger competitors, it’s impressive that any latter-day teams could make a run at entering the Ring of Sixteen, and it’s, in a darker way, impressive that one of the sixteen has been this unbelievably bad at collecting and locking down great players.

Minnesota Twins

  • HoMErs: Walter Johnson (100%), Sam Rice (96%), Clark Griffith (70%), Rod Carew (66%), Goose Goslin (59%), Bert Blyleven (51%), Joe Cronin (47%), Early Wynn (28%), Stan Coveleski (17%), Paul Molitor (15%), Wes Ferrell (14%), Al Simmons (10%), Ed Delahanty (8%), Dave Winfield (7%), Bob Johnson (6%), Tris Speaker (5%), Graig Nettles (3%), Luis Tiant (3%), Steve Carlton (1%), Bobby Veach (1%), George Sisler (1%)
  • Retired: Jim Thome (115), Johan Santaña (110)
  • Active: Joe Mauer (109), Andy MacPhail

Yah know, that’s a heck of a pickle they got themselves into. They’ve got it worse than any other olde tyme team. How come our team is goinabe the first one of the original-16 that’s bein’ passed by some lousy expansion team? That Miguel Sano, though, he’s pretty darned important. He could be a true star and can make a HoME-run! That’ll help our Twinkies keep those Mets and Astros at bay. Well, it’s not like Brian Dozier’s going to keep it up forever after comin’ out of nowhere. And when Byron Buxton is hittin’, he looks like a walleye put into saltwater. And we haven’t had a half-decent pitcher come along since they got Radke and Santana. Well, Idaknow. things’ll get better, donchaknow.

Cincinnati Reds

  • HoMErs: Johnny Bench (100%), Barry Larkin (100%), Bid McPhee (100%), Bob Howsam (84%), Pete Rose (78%), Bucky Walters (75%), Frank Robinson (55%), Joe Morgan (44%), Bill McKechnie (38%), Sparky Anderson (36%), Ken Griffey, Jr. (35%), Larry MacPhail (27%), Tom Seaver (23%), Sam Crawford (16%), Buddy Bell (16%), Davey Johnson (15%), Buck Ewing (12%), Ned Hanlon (10%), Sherry Magee (10%), Charlie Comiskey (7%), Harry Heilmann (6%), Joe Tinker (6%), Mordecai Brown (6%), Clark Griffith (5%), Hoss Radbourn (5%), Tommy Leach (4%), Jimmy Sheckard (2%), Dazzy Vance (1%), Amos Rusie (1%), Jim Edmonds (+0%), Al Simmons (+0%), Christy Mathewson (+0%)
  • Retired: Scott Rolen (115), Pete Browning (104), Heinie Groh (101), Noodles Hahn (99), Cesar Cedeño (98), Jake Beckley (97), Wally Berger (97), Ted Breitenstein (96), Tony Mullane (96)
  • Active: Joey Votto (104), Johnny Cueto (69)

At least the Redlegs won’t get rolled by a team half their age like the Twins. However, they are one of only two other squads in the Ring of Sixteen with fewer than 10 total HoME careers. Obviously, that’s not good. The Reds, like the Twins, have often seemed downright provincial in their operations, perhaps contributing to their general lack of HoME-level players. There’s an additional consideration here that works in their favor. Should we get play-by-play data in for Edd Roush that improves his standing, he could become a more serious candidate. The same could be true for Joe Kelley, but we know that’s not coming for eons. Aside from that, Heinie Groh is the most likely old-timer on the list to make it. The current Reds offer little in terms of future stardom, have a couple back doors to make progress, and, overall, should get into the 10+ club relatively soon. Unlike, say, the Twins.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • HoMErs: Joe Brown (100%), Roberto Clemente (100%), Max Carey (90%), Paul Waner (89%), Honus Wagner (87%), Arky Vaughan (80%), Barney Dreyfuss (76%), Tommy Leach (73%), Fred Clarke (65%), Pud Galvin (35%), Barry Bonds (34%), Vic Willis (29%), Bill McKechnie (19%), Rick Reuschel (17%), Bert Blyleven (14%), Branch Rickey (12%), Jack Glasscock (9%), Jim Bunning (9%), Hank Greenberg (8%), Rube Waddell (8%), Goose Gossage (7%), Ned Hanlon (5%), Kenny Lofton (4%), Connie Mack (4%), Deacon White (4%), Paul Hines (2%), Luis Tiant (2%), Joe Cronin (1%) Willie Randolph (1%), Billy Herman (1%), Dazzy Vance (+0%)
  • Retired: Pete Browning (104), Jim McCormick (103), Heinie Groh (101), Jake Beckley (97), Fred Dunlap (96), Ralph Kiner (96)
  • Active: Russell Martin (93), Andrew McCutchen (87), Jose Bautista (82)

Unless Andrew McCutchen rebounds, the Bucs stop here. Among retired players, only Groh has a real shot. Among the actives, we’ve already mentioned that Martin is in a doldrums in his mid-thirties, and we all know that McCutchen’s gone from MVP to swabbie. Gerrit Cole might help in the long term. Gregory Polanco doesn’t look like much of a hitter, and Sterling Marte just failed a pee test. As soon as Joey Votto is eligible for the HoME, the Reds will fly the flag of 14th placed. But, me hardees, that’s what happens when ye have two decades a losin’. Squawk! Two-decades a-losing’, two decades a losin’. Squawk!

Philadelphia Phillies

  • HoMErs: Mike Schmidt (100%), Ed Delahanty (85%), Richie Ashburn (84%), Robin Roberts (80%), Sherry Magee (74%), Steve Carlton (70%), Dick Allen (62%), Harry Wright (57%), Curt Schilling (51%), Pete Alexander (48%), Billy Hamilton (48%), Jim Bunning (40%), Elmer Flick (37%), Dave Bancroft (35%), Bucky Walters (25%), Nap Lajoie (21%), Pete Rose (20%), Art Fletcher (14%), Tim Keefe (12%), Pat Gillick (11%), Roger Connor (8%), Joe Morgan (4%), Kenny Lofton (4%), Dan Brouthers (3%), Kid Nichols (3%), Jimmie Fox (3%), Pedro Martinez (2%), Fergie Jenkins (+0%)
  • Retired: Roy Halladay (122), Scott Rolen (115), Jim Thome (115), Charlie Buffinton (107), Cupid Childs (106), Hughie Jennings (102), Roy Oswalt (101), Wally Berger (97), Cliff Lee (95), Bobby Abreu (95)
  • Active: Chase Utley (102), Cole Hamels (101), Terry Francona, Andy MacPhail

Sure seems like the Phils are going places over the next few HoME elections. Halladay, Thome, and Rolen will buy about 1.0 career. Chase Utley’s near the end of the string and a strong candidate. He’d add another 85% of a career. If Cole Hamels’ injury this year doesn’t wreck his career, he’s got a real nice shot at a plaque, fetching about two-thirds of a career. Tito is very, very close to being a slam dunk and worth about another third. Plus Childs, Jennings, and Oswalt represent small potential pickups as well, though none except maybe Oswalt, is nearly as sure as those mentioned above. At the MLB level now, the Phils have very little to offer as their best youngsters haven’t yet emerged from the minors. They are neck-and-neck with the O’s and not far behind the #12 and #11 teams either. In other words, things could get real interesting in the middle of the standings. Adding two-and-a-half careers would get the Phils inside the top and maybe even as high as #8.

Baltimore Orioles

  • HoMErs: Jim Palmer (100%), Cal Ripken Jr. (100%), Brooks Robinson (100%), Earl Weaver (100%), George Sisler (81%), Urban Shocker (65%), Bobby Wallace (64%), Eddie Murray (63%), Mike Mussina (56%), Bobby Grich (41%), Rafael Palmeiro (36%), Frank Robinson (30%), Wally Schang (20%), Jesse Burkett (19%), Goose Goslin (18%), Rube Waddell (18%), Roberto Alomar (18%), Robin Roberts (16%), Davey Johnson (13%), Pat Gillick (11%), Eddie Plank (8%), Branch Rickey (7%), Kevin Brown (5%), Reggie Jackson (5%), Sammy Sosa (4%) Dwight Evans (3%), Curt Schilling (2%), Tim Raines (+0%)
  • Retired: Jim Thome (115), Dizzy Dean (106), Vlad Guerrero (101), Will Clark (101), Dizzy Trout (95), Frank Cashen
  • Active: Jose Bautista (82), Manny Machado (71), Andy MacPhail, Buck Showalter

Another team where a long losing skid cost them a shot at a higher ranking. Thome’s tenure wasn’t long enough to make a difference, Dean’s was one game. Guerrero’s one season. Really, it’s Machado who can make the most difference. Whether Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman can be healthy or productive enough to join Manny, only time can tell. Either way, however, this team looks like its wings have been clipped, and it will a minimum of two ranks in the standings over the next couple decades.

Chicago White Sox

  • HoMErs: Luke Appling (100%), Red Faber (100%), Ted Lyons (100%), Ed Walsh (99%), Frank Thomas (85%), Charlie Comiskey (75%), Al Lopez (62%), Eddie Collins, (62%), Carlton Fisk (56%), Shoeless Joe Jackson (49%), George Davis (34%), Goose Gossage (34%), Harry Hooper (29%), Tim Raines (28%), Early Wynn (22%), Tony La Russa (20%), Dick Allen (19%), Al Simmons (19%), Tom Seaver (12%), Sammy Sosa (10%), Tony Phillips (10%), Ron Santo (4%), Kenny Lofton (4%), Roberto Alomar (3%), Clark Griffith (3%), Ken Boyer (3%), Ken Griffey, Jr. (1%), Red Ruffing (1%), Bobby Bonds (1%), Steve Carlton (1%), Manny Ramirez (1%), Dave Stieb (1%)
  • Retired: Jim Thome (115), Mark Buehrle (98), Larry Doby (95)
  • Active: Chris Sale (86), Bartolo Colon (86), Jose Quintana (55)

Most of Mark Buehrle and maybe a quarter of Chris Sale can’t hurt. It’s a little early to count on Quintana yet, but he’s well worth watching. The Chisox do, however, have a means to pick up some help. Doby and Minnie Miñoso (93 CHEWS+) are both near the borderline at their positions, and both will benefit if we choose to elect Negro Leagues players. Doby only a smidgen, but for Minnie, it’s likely three-quarters or more of a career. That won’t buy the team a boost in the standings, but it could keep a team or two at bay.

That’s a wrap for the second tier of our HoME standings. Next time, we check out the top-ten teams. There’s a lot of jockeying there for position beneath the undisputed holder of first place.

The HoME standings: finally, fully updated

It’s been more than a year since we’ve updated you on how your favorite team has fared in the HoME standings. David Neft’s election catches us all the way up to the Hall in each of the three categories we’ve voted for: players, managers, and pioneer/executives.

In a moment, we’ll show you the agate type to find out which teams are the most HoMErific. First quick notes on what the table shows you.

  1. Franchises that moved include players from before and after the move (e.g.: The Orioles’s HoMEr count includes players from the St. Louis Browns)
  2. We calculate the number of HoMErs for each team by finding the percentage of each honoree’s career was spent with a given club, then summing it for all who appeared for them
  3. Hitters are calculated based on plate appearances, pitchers by batters faced, managers by games managed, and execs by years of service as applicable
  4. HoMErs per year is (b) above divided by the number of years the franchise has been in existence.

To begin with, and to pay them their due while getting them out of the way, here are the results for all defunct franchises who played for five or more seasons:

TEAM                      YEARS    HoMERS /YEAR
==================================================
Cleveland Spiders       1887–1899   1.60   0.12
Providence Grays        1878–1885   1.51   0.19
Boston Red Stockings    1871–1875   1.44   0.29
Buffalo Bisons          1878–1885   1.32   0.19
Detroit Wolverines      1881–1888   1.06   0.13
Louisville Colonels     1882–1899   1.01   0.06
Baltimore Orioles       1882–1899   0.99   0.05
Cincinnati Reds         1876–1880   0.34   0.07
Cleveland Blues         1879–1884   0.27   0.05
New York Metropolitans  1883–1887   0.21   0.04
Washington Senators     1891–1899   0.12   0.01
Philadelphia Athletics  1871–1875   0.10   0.02

More on the Spiders, Grays, Red Stockings, and Bisons later. Speaking of the latter, I’m not sure if it’s Bisons or Bison, but we ain’t speaking no Queens English neither. Not surprisingly most of these are well known among Nineteenth Century squads for one reason or another.

The period of stability ushered in by the contraction of the NL and the rise of the AL gives the rest of the standings more comprehensibility. We’ll knock out the thirty franchises in descending tiers of ten. I’ll give a quick write up for each team, listing their current HoMErs with the percentage of career spent with the team; all retired, unenshrined players with at least 95 CHEWS+; and active players who we might reasonably project as strong candidates (with CHEWS+ figures through the end of 2016).

Today, we’ll cover the bottom ten, and we’ll follow on with two more articles this week to cap things off.

#30–21

TEAM                      YEARS    HoMERS /YEAR
================================================
30 Tampa Bay Rays        1998–2017  0.08   0.01
29 Miami Marlins         1993–2017  0.45   0.03
28 Colorado Rockies      1993–2017  0.62   0.03
27 Arizona Diamondbacks  1998–2017  0.63   0.05
26 Seattle Mariners      1977–2017  2.48   0.07
25 Toronto Blue Jays     1977-2017  2.55   0.07
24 Milwaukee Brewers     1969–2017  2.62   0.06
23 Texas Rangers         1961–2017  2.94   0.06
22 Washington Nationals  1969–2017  3.03   0.07
21 San Diego Padres      1969–2017  3.13   0.07

As you surely would have guessed, the four most recent expansion franchises finish in the ultimate, penultimate, antepenultimate, and anteantepenultimate slots. And the rest of the 20s are occupied by the three previous rounds of expansion.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • HoMErs: Wade Boggs (8%), Manny Ramirez (0.2%)
  • Retired: Dwight Gooden (99)
  • Active:Evan Longoria (102), Ben Zobrist (90), David Price (75), Joe Maddon

Chuck Lamar, eat your heart out. Sixteen defunct franchises stand between the Rays and the Marlins, most of which clubs only existed a year or two. Longo’s a good bet to deliver at least 80% of a career, Zobrist could give them another 60%, and Price 40% more. Maddon could give them another 50% depending how long he stays in the dugout and how many more titles he wins. So at a max, we’re looking at 2.3 more HoMErs within the next 20 years, but after Longo, there’s a lot of ifs. Still, even Longo’s contribution will at least get the team in the vicinity of the famous old NL Baltimore Orioles. Overall, Mantamen fans, it’s going to be a long wait.

Miami Marlins

  • HoMErs: Gary Sheffield (22%), Kevin Brown (14%), Ivan Rodriguez (6%), Andre Dawson (3%), Tim Raines (1%), Mike Piazza (5 amazing games)
  • Retired:  Mark Buehrle (98)
  • Active: Miguel Cabrera (115), Ichiro (102), Hanley Ramirez (77), Giancarlo Stanton (69), Dave Dombrowski

The Fish aren’t swimming in would-be honorees, but a few members of their school have a decent near-term shot to make a HoME splash. Cabrera is a lock, and he’s a third of a career. Ichiro is similarly locked in and would deliver at least 17% of a career. Buehrle is a borderline candidate and would give them 6% of a career should we find him worthy. So the team’s sitting on about 60% a career, give or take. At the big-league level, if Giancarlo Stanton stays healthy and productive, he should provide at least 50% of a career. After that, however, the cupboard is being restocked, but who knows who will be doing the shopping. Christian Yelich or Marcel Ozuna could go nuts for a few years and help out. This is a place where the team misses Jose Fernandez. En toto, the Marlins could see be passed by their Sunshine State rivals somewhat soon and have relatively little opportunity to climb the ladder where they swim now.

Colorado Rockies

  • HoMErs:Larry Walker (62%), Bret Saberhagen (2%)
  • Retired:  Todd Helton (112), Roy Oswalt (101), Jason Giambi (95)
  • Active: Troy Tulowitzki (86), Matt Holiday (82), Carlos Gonzalez (64), Nolan Arenado (58)

If we elect Todd Helton, which wouldn’t shock us, an entire career goes into the Rox column, which would push them beyond the Spiders’ Web (more on that in a moment). The Rockies, however, face a structural challenge like no other team. Despite the presence of 2% of Roy Oswalt’s career (and he’s no certainty for election), the Purple Mountain Majestics have to rely on hitters for virtually all of their representation in the HoME because it’s not like we’ll be seeing a long-tenured Rockies pitcher getting in soon…perhaps ever. Longer term, however, counting on Tulo to stay both healthy and productive is, uh, not a good bet. Let’s say he’s a 40% chance from this point forward to end up with a HoME career, which I think is pretty generous. He’s likely to have spent about 65% of his career as a Rocky. Multiply those odds by that career percentage, and you’ve got about another quarter of a player. Arenado (born on my birthday!) is something of an unsung hero, and I love his chances, but there’s a long way to go.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • HoMErs:Randy Johnson (39%), Curt Schilling (23%), Roberto Alomar (1%)
  • Retired:  n/a
  • Active: Zack Grienke (107), Max Scherzer (98), Paul Goldschmidt (72)

The Snakes are in rougher shape than the three teams behind them. Despite at least three-quarters of a HoME career among Grienke, Scherzer, and Goldschmidt, there’s nothing else brewing. It’s enough to stave off the Fish, at least. You know maybe if Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley develop quickly, the team could add to this list. And maybe if Densby Swanson…oh, never mind.

The Spiders’ Web!!! Now those four recent expansion teams are miles behind all other active franchises. In fact, they each fall under within The Spiders’ Web. That is, the total for the Cleveland Spiders, who have the highest number of HoMErs among all defunct franchises (1.60). The Rockies have a way out of that one, the other teams, well, it might take them some time…and some don’t have a clear path out yet.

As we move into the mid-20s in our rankings, with the Spiders’ Web behind them, how much can teams expect to move upward in the standings? And how quickly? At this position among the teams, there’s not much hope of catching the leaders, let alone leaping into the top-ten. But no expansion team has gotten past the Ring of 16 (which we’ll talk about in our next post), the teams of the original AL/NL setup. Do they have a path to make that leap and maybe draw a bead on the bottom of the top tier?

Seattle Mariners

  • HoMErs:Edgar Martinez (100%), Ken Griffey, Jr. (64%), Randy Johnson (45%), Pat Gillick (15%), Dick Williams (12%), Gaylord Perry (6%), Rickey Henderson (3%), Goose Gossage (3%)
  • Retired: Alex Rodriguez (172), John Olerud (99), Cliff Lee (95), Mark Langston (95)
  • Active:Robinson Cano (120), Adrian Beltre (115), Ichiro (102), Felix Hernandez (98), Kyle Seager (73)

The Mariners are within a half a career of four other teams. Among their retirees, only A-Rod (29%) has an undeniable shot at our Hall. But Beltre (about 30%) and Ichiro (about 70%) will soon follow, so that the Boatsmen might have more than 1.3 careers to tack on by 2025. That would get them to about 4.0 full careers’ worth of HoME players, a figure that would currently place #19. But the winds are in their favor over the longer haul too. Cano will bring at least a quarter of a career if not a half, Felix (minimum 70% if he sails away soon), and maybe half of Seager will help them ride the crest of the tide. That’s another possible career and a half. The Seattleites, then could push upwards of 5.0 to 5.5 careers. Still outside the Ring of Sixteen but ready to fire the proverbial shot across the bow.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • HoMErs:Dave Stieb (99%), Pat Gillick (63%), Roberto Alomar (30%), Paul Molitor (15%), Bobby Cox (14%), Roger Clemens (10%), Frank Thomas (7%), David Cone (6%), Dave Winfield (5%), Jeff Kent (2%), Rickey Henderson (2%), Tony Phillips (1%), Phil Niekro (+0%)
  • Retired:  Roy Halladay (122), Scott Rolen (115), John Olerud (99), Mark Buehrle (98)
  • Active: Russell Martin (93), Troy Tulowitzki (86), Josh Donaldson (85), Jose Bautista (82), David Price (75)

Halladay (75% a Jay) and Rolen (10%) should be HoMErs quickly. Buehrle has a shot. But all of the active players have a question mark or two. Martin appears to be losing his bat and might not make it across the finish line. Tulo’s body (as mentioned above) is reliably unreliable, and he still has a lot of HoMEwork to do entering his 30s. Josh Donaldson’s remarkable career path guarantees nothing going forward. Jose Bautista looks cooked. Even David Price has a scary injury this year. The Jays could really cash in and leap forward or they could end up with only Halladay and Rolen likely to contribute. That’s about 1 player’s worth, which isn’t enough to keep the Mariners at bay, but is enough to fly by two of the teams directly ahead.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • HoMErs: Robin Yount (100%), Paul Molitor (69%), Ted Simmons (29%), Sal Bando (27%), Gary Sheffield (11%), Don Sutton (10%), Hank Aaron (6%), Willie Randolph (5%), Jim Edmonds (3%), Jimmy Wynn (2%)
  • Retired:  Jim Sundberg (96), Harry Dalton
  • Active: Zack Grienke (107), Ryan Braun (90)

Sorry, Brewers fans, but your future outlook for the HoME is worse than a flat Milwaukee’s Best from the can. You’ll very soon be the 26th best team as you’re passed by Seattle and Toronto, and you don’t have much ammunition to fire back and catch up. Especially not long term. But we can always drink to the memory of Harvey’s Wallbangers.

Texas Rangers

  • HoMErs:Ivan Rodriguez (60%), Rafael Palmeiro (56%), Kevin Brown (41%), Buddy Bell (40%), Fergie Jenkins (32%), Nolan Ryan (15%), Gaylord Perry (15%), Bert Blyleven (9%), Bobby Bonds (7%), Whitey Herzog (6%), Sammy Sosa (5%), Kenny Lofton (4%), Goose Gossage (2%), Willie Davis (2%)
  • Retired: Alex Rodriguez (172), Andruw Jones (115), Vlad Guerrero (101), Will Clark (101), Jim Sundberg (96), Lance Berkman (95), Cliff Lee (95)
  • Active: Adrian Beltre (115), Carlos Beltran (115), Cole Hamels (101), Roy Oswalt (101), Ian Kinsler (99), Jon Daniels

The Rangers lassoed the Spiders as the 1990s teams came through the electoral pipeline, and they’ve got some serious opportunities to flash their badges. A-Rod, Andruw, and the Impaler give the Metroplex Marshalls about 40% of a career if they get a plaque. All those active players could add about a career to that. Depending on how things pan out for the teams above them, the team could get into the top 20 within 15 years.

Washington Nationals

  • HoMErs:Gary Carter (67%), Tim Raines (60%), Andre Dawson (57%), Larry Walker (33%), Pedro Martinez (28%), Dick Williams (24%), Davey Johnson (17%), Willie Davis (7%), Ivan Rodriguez (5%), Pete Rose (2%), Randy Johnson (1%), Graig Nettles (1%)
  • Retired:  Mark Langston (95)
  • Active: Max Scherzer (98), Bartolo Colon (86), Bryce Harper (59), Dusty Baker

Like their real-life political counterparts in DC, the Nats appear to have a bumpy road HoME ahead of them. Scherzer is an odds-on favorite for a plaque, and he’d chip in 25% of a career. There simply aren’t a ton of good, projectable options after that. It’s very early in Bryce Harper’s career, and he’s had only one great season. Anyway, he’s likely leaving town as soon as Scott Boras can get that $400 million. I don’t know, maybe Jordan Zimmerman or Stephen Strassburg has an amazing run into his late 30s? The M’s, Jays, and Rangers are all hot on their tail, and this squad could also easily find themselves in 25th place, snuggling uncomfortably close to the Brewers. I don’t think it’ll get that bad for them, however, because our next team is losing ground even more rapidly.

San Diego Padres

  • HoMErs: Tony Gwynn (100%), Dave Winfield (37%), Ozzie Smith (24%), Dick Williams (21%), Roberto Alomar (19%), Goose Gossage (16%), Buzzie Bavasi (16%), Graig Nettles (13%), Willie McCovey (12%), Rickey Henderson (11%), Gaylord Perry (9%), Gary Sheffield (8%), Kevin Brown (8%), Greg Maddux (7%), Mike Piazza (6%), Willie Davis (5%), Jim Edmonds (1%)
  • Retired:  Gene Tenace (102), Mark Langston (95%)
  • Active: Adrian Gonzalez (85), Bruce Bochy

We don’t need to see any good players. They can go about their boring losing. Move along. Move along…to a battle with the Nats and Brewers for the 26th spot.

So as you can see, some teams are on the move, while several are drifting. Next time out, we’ll look at the last four expansion franchises and then see how things look inside the Ring of Sixteen.

  • Will a Johnny-come-lately expansion squad crash the Sweet 16 HoME soiree?
  • Which Ring of Sixteener is in a HoME hole?
  • Can anyone stop The Joker’s latest fiendish plot to sow chaos and fear in the hearts and minds of the people of Gotham City?

Tune in next time when you’ll hear Eric say, “Yah know, that’s a heck of a pickle they got themselves into.”

David Neft’s case for the Hall of Miller and Eric

Last week, we shocked ourselves by deciding to postpone the last scheduled election in the Hall of Miller and Eric’s Pioneers/Executives wing. We had between us agreed upon Vin Scully. And on Monday, May 1st, Rob Neyer happened, and we had to ask whether we’d dumped David Neft too quickly.

We like Rob’s work a lot, and he’s a trustworthy researcher and voice with connections all over the baseball world. He was, as most of you know, Bill James’ research assistant prior to launching the ESPN column that pushed sabrmetric thinking into the mainstream (and spawned a love of flannel shirts among analysts). So when he tells us this, we listen:

A world without the Big Mac might not just mean a world without Baseball-Reference.com, it might also mean a world without Bill James, which might mean a world without sabermetrics, a world without Moneyball, a world without the analytics that have transformed so many other sports.

We’d always understood that The Baseball Encyclopedia (aka the Mac or Big Mac) represented a true first in the annals of the game. In fact, it is an annals of the game. It was the first that scrupulously combined meticulously researched consistency with the breadth of categorical completeness we now associate with BBREF or Total Baseball or any compendium online or in print. As Neyer and Mark Armour’s SABR Chadwick Award bio tell us, there were other encyclopedic sources, but they resembled the Big Mac as an IBM Selectric typewriter resembles the Mac I’m using to compose this article. (I see what I did there….) We had, however, underestimated its influence on the game’s analytical revolution when we crossed Neft off of our list months ago.

We might think of the Mac as part of a statistical and analytical timeline that goes like this:

Baseball-Reference.com (Sean Forman)
^
Baseball Prospectus (BP gang)
^
Total Baseball (Pete Palmer and John Thorn)
^
Baseball Abstract, etc. (Bill James)
^
Baseball Encyclopedia (David Neft)
^
The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (Hy Turkin and S.C. Thompson)
^
The Sporting News (The Spinks)
^
Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player; Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide, etc. (Henry Chadwick)

Now, that’s a pretty impressive list of annuals, periodicals, and encyclopedias. Each represents an increment of evolution, but the Mac stands out both because the leap it made was so big compared to anything in the 100 years since Chadwick’s first guides and because that large of a leap enabled a decisive quickening of subsequent leaps (especially in combination with the miniaturization of higher computing power).

Of course, that’s just the book itself. David Neft is the guy we’re talking about. In order to be worthy of the Hall of Miller and Eric, we need evidence that he was the force behind the Mac. Consider the people above. While Bill James was the one driving force behind his work and Sean Forman the force behind his, the Baseball Prospectus enclave has been an evolving cast of characters with distributed workloads. It’s much harder give anyone in that group a plaque, nor even all of them, perhaps, because of the collective’s comings and goings.

But Neyer’s article explains clearly that Neft made that 6.5 pound, 1200-page book happen. He worked with biographical research legend Lee Allen, purchased a collection of 19th-century data from another important researcher, John Tattersall, and then put together a staff of 21 people who raked through microfilm and periodicals collections nationwide to gather and validate (with multiple box scores) the data that would comprise the book. That level of work had never been done before on baseball’s statistical history, which prior to 1920 was especially sketchy and prone to inconsistencies. Neft conceived the book, got it funded, and project-managed the whole thing.

That, however, is not the end of it. Neft’s great innovation made every latter day encyclopedic book possible to manufacture and sell at a cost that people might actually be capable of paying. You saw in Neyer’s article that the book retailed for the equivalent of $150 of today’s money. Total Baseball would cost $60 and more in later editions. But without Neft’s forward thinking, they would have been prohibitively expensive to make.

Neft recognized that a book like the Mac required a few things that would make it too costly to produce and sell:

  • Massive typesetting costs in both money and time
  • Massive proofreading costs in the same
  • A truckload of pages because of the overwhelming amount of information
  • A stitched, hardback binding—no mere glue would hold all those pages.

Worse yet, the typesetting costs by themselves carried additional risk for the publisher. if you happened to mistakenly drop Lou Boudreau’s 1938 season from his entry, and it caused a line in someone else’s entry to move to a subsequent page, you’d now have to reflow every single page remaining in the batting records or perhaps the entire book. It’s not as though you can simply edit a player’s season out of existence and be credible. Hundreds of hand-reflowed pages, friends, is a bookmaker’s nightmare because it massively increases typesetting costs and lengthens the production schedule.

But Neft came to the vital realization that typesetting via computer could reduce overall typesetting costs and also make the book relatively easily reflowable. I work in the publishing industry, and my wife is a Production Editor (the person who takes manuscript and turns it into a printable book while keeping a strict budget to ensure profitability). When I asked her about it, she said that without computing technology the book would be possible but so expensive to produce that no one would buy it. And it would take forever to get print-ready.

Why am I going into that level of detail? Of course, because it’s a crucial piece of Neft’s story, but also because it demonstrates why The Baseball Encyclopedia became so important. As the research community used it, found discrepancies, recommended adding this or that, the book could change and grow. So now could any baseball book that relied on a background database. Which eventually gets you to BBREF. The rapid evolution of baseball research, analytics, and publishing were enabled by Neft’s breakthrough thinking. As Armour writes,

It can be said without hyperbole that everything that followed—the creation of SABR, the widespread interest in baseball analysis, fantasy baseball, the popular statistical websites of today—owes a large debt to the work of David Neft and his team for what they did in the 1960s.

So on Friday we will name our final honoree in the pioneer/executive sweepstakes. But first, tune in on Wednesday for Miller’s analysis of the case for Vin Scully, our other finalist.

Institutional History

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