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John Carter wrote:  
"In my head, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Oscar Charleston were the all-time greatest of those leagues. Yet, Willie Wells leads them all slightly in career br-WAR, but by far in peak br-WAR (1926-1930). And, Turkey Stearnes is a close second in career WAR - not nearly as famous to me as other centerfielders such as Charleston and Cool Papa Bell."  
One needs to be cautious and careful in interpreting Negro league statistics. For example, teams in the 1920s often played 90 to 100 league games per season, whereas teams in the 1930s and 1940s relied more on barnstorming and may have played only 25 to 50 league games per season. This led to a disadvantage in raw statistics for players like Josh Gibson, who started his career in the 1930s. Similarly, Oscar Charleston's statistics at bb-ref do not include his excellent seasons from 1917 to 1919 before the Negro National League was organized. The Seamheads Negro League database includes data for these early years.
Asked by: clavey66

Answered: 12/8/2022
 Thank you.  I appreciate the information.   


John Anderson's SABR bio offers this:  
"Unfortunately Anderson’s reputation took a hit in 1903, when he reportedly attempted to steal an already-occupied second base. Although the evidence shows he was merely picked off first base, stealing an already occupied base – or any other mental blunder – became known as pulling a John Anderson."
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 12/8/2022
 Well. . .that's not the best possbile research on two points.   First, the exact date and game in which Anderson attempted to steal second with the bases loaded is known; it has been reported, so it's not ideal to say that he "reportedly" did this as if it might or might not have happened.  And second, it is not true that ANY mental blunder was called pulling a John Anderson.  That term was used specifically for trying to steal an occupied base.  It wasn't a general term for any mental blunder.  


At this year's baseball winter meetings, a few teams gave out long contracts to players where the pacts will not end until their late 30s, 40, or beyond.  
I have gathered from reading your past work that players probably peak in the mid to late 20s.  
Aside from the obvious fear of missing out, the desire to bolster a roster to improve the chances of winning the World Series right now, the hopes that each of these players will not have serious declines in ability as they age --  and the teams' just deciding that the back ends of the contracts will be sunk costs that they accept --  what is the biggest reason that we may not be seeing for why the teams are shelling out these nine-figure contracts  for these older players?
Asked by: wbinaz

Answered: 12/8/2022
 It's the structure of the system, if that makes any sense.  The Yankees know that Judge will be horribly overpaid in the last years of the new contract, but with the structure as it is, it costs more to pay a player $50 million a year for six years than it does to pay him $30 million a year for ten years, because of the luxury tax.   


The Stan Hack case is getting complicated and I'm hoping you could tell us if any of this adds to what you already know.  
1. From 1936-1940, both the Cubs and the NL averaged 51% success on SB attempts. Stan's 48% is only 1 or 2 more CS a year, so more or less average.  
2. He split leadoff duties with Augie Galan (and others) in 1936/37 before becoming the usual leadoff hitter for 1938-1940 (perhaps coinciding with Hartnett taking over for Grimm as manager). Augie (who was two years younger) had similar stolen base attempt totals those years (per game or at bat or times on first base).  
3. Sacrifice Hits dropped from league-leading under Grimm to average under Hartnett.  
4. However, Stan's SB attempt rate was similar no matter where he batted in the lineup, while Augie's rate dropped after he moved out of the leadoff spot.  
5. The occasional substitute leadoff hitter in 1938-1940 (61 games, 295 PA) had much lower SB attempt rates than Stan (9% of the time getting a 1B or BB, vs 16% for Stan
Asked by: jimmyp

Answered: 12/7/2022
 None of that seems complicated.  My earlier comments seem fully consistent with all of that. 


I have a copy of 'Bill James Baseball Book of 1990' and in the biography section on John Anderson,  you detailed the search you and Rob Neyer were doing looking for the actual Game where Andersen tried to steal a base that already was occupied.  He became a punchline in the press whenever someone else made a bonehead mistake in a game-they pulled a John Anderson.  Did you ever track down the game? You had narrowed it down to 1908 I think.    
Asked by: Manushfan

Answered: 12/6/2022
 I don't remember the details, but somebody did uncover the original event, yes.  


While Major League Baseball has officially recognized several of the Negro Leagues as Major Leagues, I haven't really haven't brushed up on their history since Only the Ball Was White. In my head, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Oscar Charleston were the all-time greatest of those leagues. Yet, Willie Wells leads them all slightly in career br-WAR, but by far in peak br-WAR (1926-1930). And, Turkey Stearnes is a close second in career WAR - not nearly as famous to me as other centerfielders such as Charleston and Cool Papa Bell.  
Is it just too difficult from what we know now to compare Willie Wells to Honus Wagner or Cal Ripken or any of Wells's contemporaries such as Joe Sewell or Joe Cronin with any keen insights from you beyond what Baseball-Reference's WAR has come up with?
Asked by: John Carter

Answered: 12/6/2022
 It's difficult if not impossible to make a CLOSE comparison.  Some broad general outlines, you can make comparisons.


Hey Bill - Just wanted to mention to Bill James Online members who may not have seen the recent article posting that we are holding our 7th installment of the "How Well Do You Know Your BBWAA?" prediction contest, where members can submit a ballot and predict what % of the vote each Hall of Fame candidate will receive in this year's voting.  No money, just bragging rights.  I'm hoping that posting this in Hey Bill will generate some additional responses.  Deadline to submit a ballot is end of day Monday, December 5th.  
The article and instructions on how to submit a ballot is posted under the Articles Section on this site (posted November 24) or members can go to this address:  
Thank you!  
Asked by: DMBBHF

Answered: 12/6/2022
 Well, I got to this one a little too late, then.  Sorry. 


Since 1995, major league baseball has had at least three rounds of playoffs.  There are, at present, 22 players with 300 or more postseason plate appearances and 22 pitchers with 120 or more playoff innings.   I would expect that, on average, players’ postseason stats would be slightly worse than their regular season stats.  Do you know if this is true?  If not, would you expect it to be true?
Asked by: evanecurb

Answered: 12/6/2022
 I would expect that it was true; I don't see how it could not be true.  But I haven't studied it.  


Pretty impressive to see Biggio show up as position champion for two different positions, (and catcher and second-base positions at that, it's not like he just moved from center to left or soemthing like that). Is he the only one to do that, or did someone like Pete Rose match that feat as dual-position champion?
Asked by: pablo

Answered: 12/6/2022
 I think just Biggio, unless you count something like Ruth in left field and right field.  Ruth played a lot of each.  


Heeeeeeey BILL!!  
You may have answered this before, in grand detail, but do think the Cy Young Award should be the MVP for pitchers, and only position players should be MVPs?    
Asked by: rjazzguy

Answered: 12/6/2022
 No.  I think if a pitcher is more valuable than a position player, he should be the MVP.  But that never really happens anymore.  


Based on the categorizing of HOF players that you recently discussed, where do you think Fred McGriff falls?
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 12/6/2022
 Group 3.  Meets the normal and usual standards of a Hall of Fame player. 


Hey Bill,  
Is there a place to on the website for readers to post their research for comment that you would be able to see as well?  I have been doing some actuarial Win Shares analysis (driven by your essay in Win Shares), but would be too long to show in this forum.  
Asked by: Royalrooter

Answered: 12/6/2022
 I'm pretty sure there is a reader posts section.  For some reason I can't access it, so I can't read your research there, but I think it is there somewhere.   Our software is old and pretty messed up. 


Re: interesting point about Stan Hack and the era considerations for CS%. However, I'm not so sure phorton01 was all that ignorant in commenting on Hack. In the five years from 1936-1940, there were 48 guys who stole at least 35 bases, and Hack was dead last in CS% at 48% and the only one under 50%.  
Gee Walker, for instance, had the same number of stolen bases as Hack during that stretch, 87, but did it at a 75% success rate.  
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 12/2/2022
 Stop typing "thoughts" at the end of an argument and pretending that makes it a question. 


Looking at your "best player in the game" lists, whether it's overall, forward-looking, backward-looking, AL, NL, or what have you, it seems that the only live ball era pitcher who appears is Hal Newhouser, and then only under unusual circumstances.  Do you think this is telling us something fundamental about the maximum value of pitchers relative to everyday players?
Asked by: tjmaccarone

Answered: 12/2/2022
That is certainly the way the Win Shares system sees it.  Whether that is accurate or not is another question.  Pitchers rarely or never achieve the level of year-in, year-out stability in their performance that Mays or Aaron or Mike Schmidt did.


In the season that just ended, Jose Ramirez had the greatest campaign by a third baseman since Miguel Cabrera's 2013, this according to Win Shares. Of the last five years, there's only one in which Arenado outperformed Ramirez, 2019. Arenado's most productive season (2018) would be Ramirez's fourth-best season. Maybe Cleveland fans don't just have Keltner and Bell to complain about.....
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 12/2/2022
You don't have anything to complain about now, either.  The ranking was for 2018.  


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