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  #81  
Old 07-12-2018, 09:11 AM
jrawlsian jrawlsian is offline
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Default Clemente

Interesting thread. I can see this from three different perspectives.

As a collector, my main observation is that Clemente items command a premium from the so-called "deceased player" effect. No, he isn't going to sell for the same as Ruth and Cobb items, but there's still a healthy arbitrage to be had.

As a stats guy, I'd say 40th all-time in career WAR feels right - I could probably move him to the top 30 if certain normalizing adjustments were made.

As a baseball fan from Pittsburgh, I wouldn't rank him higher than Ruth, Cobb, etc., but I do own his jersey, wear it to each game and see that jersey's appearance on the rise. In Pirates history, he is clearly second after Honus, but benefits in "mindshare" from a recency effect. There is also a primacy effect - He wasn't the first Latin American MLB player, but he was the first Latin American player to be inducted into Cooperstown.
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  #82  
Old 07-12-2018, 09:19 AM
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  #83  
Old 07-12-2018, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packs View Post
I have always thought the best of the best and maybe even just the average major leaguer was far more talented in the dead ball era than they are today. So many more people played baseball in the dead ball era. Every single boy in every single town, and you had to be better than all of them. Now you only have to be better than the kids who decide to play baseball, which the news tells you is a smaller and smaller pool every year.
But: (1) overall population I would assume has increased by a factor greater than baseball expansion; and (2) blacks and international players now part of talent pool.
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  #84  
Old 07-12-2018, 10:12 AM
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Peter, I'm looking at Bill James' 2002 book now; he has Clemente ranked 74th on his list of the 100 greatest players of all-time. To be fair, eight of the guys on the list ahead of Clemente either never played in the Major Leagues, or played when their career was in its twilight. I take an issue with that. I have no doubt these guys were tremendous players, but unless it's Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige, guys who absolutely dominated the Negro Leagues, I don't think these other guys belong on the list ahead of Clemente, who proved himself day day in, day out for eighteen seasons. I think Roberto's ranking, and Robin Yount's, are both a bit low (Yount he had at 55). There's some personal bias, as they're my favorite two players of all-time, but I can make a compelling case for their being a few slots higher. Now, of course, both players have been knocked down some by the players that have come into their own since 2002.

The comments that Clemente wouldn't have gotten to 3,500 hits are rubbish. Clemente had a few nagging injuries that kept him from playing a full 1972 season, but towards the end of the year, he was close to full strength. From the start of September to the end of the year, Clemente played in 27 of the Pirates' 32 games, hitting .333, slashing .379/.511/.890. He was preparing to come back for spring training in 1973 when his plane crashed.

Clemente's game was built to play past 40. While the big power hitters often lose a step late in their careers, Roberto was getting better. His last four seasons-1969 to 1972, age 34 to 37, he hit a combined .339 with a 153 OPS+ (.345 in 1969, .352 in 1970, .341 in 1971 and .312 in 1972). He played in 480 games combined. Look at his 162 game averages for this period-103 runs scored, 209 hits, 31 doubles, 13 triples, 19 home runs, 101 RBI, and a slash line of .387/.521/.908. And BBR has his WAR for 480 games at 25.0. He averaged 8.3 WAR per 162 games played.

Does that sound like a guy that is about ready to hang 'em up? The Pirates were 98-57 in 1972. Clemente was raking the last month of the season, and had every motivation to come back, and keep playing beyond 1973. Willie Stargell was NL MVP runner up in '73. Richie Zisk was a star on the rise-between 1973 and 1976, before being traded, Zisk hit .302 as a Pirate with a 138 OPS +. Al Oliver would hit .305 between 1972 and 1977 for the Pirates, with a 124 OPS +. Dave Parker was a rookie in '73, and by '75 he would lead the NL in slugging. What kind of lineup would the Pirates have had with Zisk, Oliver, Clemente, Stargell and Parker as the top five in the order?
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  #85  
Old 07-12-2018, 11:12 AM
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All this WARing and JAWing misses the essence. Clemente isn't a top tier card collecting favorite because of his stats alone, he is at the pinnacle because of the other factors that make his story so compelling and that make people want to have his cards. Clemente was a great ballplayer, but he was an even greater human being. You can fling stats at each other like monkeys slinging poo but it won't change the reality on the ground, which is that if you had a son who said Al Kaline is his role model, you'd say that's nice but if he said Roberto Clemente was his role model you'd be a very proud papa.
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Last edited by Exhibitman; 07-12-2018 at 11:14 AM.
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  #86  
Old 07-12-2018, 11:24 AM
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Who said Roberto wouldn't have made it to 3500? The responses were to the suggestion he would have ended up as the all time hit leader.
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  #87  
Old 07-12-2018, 11:41 AM
packs packs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
But: (1) overall population I would assume has increased by a factor greater than baseball expansion; and (2) blacks and international players now part of talent pool.
Overall population has expanded but participation in baseball is way down. There's no way you'll ever convince me more, or even an equal amount, of people play baseball in 2018 as did in 1918. Baseball was the only major sport. Now there are 4 major sports.

Black and international players were always part of the pool of people who played baseball. International players probably play more baseball than Americans now, which means their talent has elevated itself the same way America's talent would have had to in the dead ball era.

In addition, African American participation in the sport, or lack thereof, has been a trending topic in recent years.

Last edited by packs; 07-12-2018 at 11:45 AM.
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  #88  
Old 07-12-2018, 11:50 AM
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Population has increased 3x in the past 100 years. That offsets a lot of declining participation in baseball in terms of the talent pool. Plus we are now drawing on huge numbers of international players who, even if eligible, were not similarly epresented in 1918 or for decades afterwards. And of course none of the black players back then were in the majors.

Personally I think the peak of talent may have been the 50s and 60s, with the influx of black and Latino players and while baseball was still the dominant sport even if others were making inroads. Also pre-expansion.
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Last edited by Peter_Spaeth; 07-12-2018 at 11:54 AM.
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  #89  
Old 07-12-2018, 12:19 PM
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Great is great, no matter what era. In 1964, Bob Hayes ran an anchor leg in the Olympics that is still considered by many to be the fastest 100 meters ever run by a human. He did that on a crappy track with 1964 shoes, not the fancy stuff of today. If Bob Hayes were 22 years old now, he would have even BETTER stats than he did in the NFL of his time.

So, when we disparage the old guys, let us keep in mind that they did what they did under completely different conditions. Are they as well conditioned and did they eat as well as today's athletes? Of course not. But, today's American athletes don't have to work a job in the off season. They didn't grow up without electricity. They didn't have to plow fields without a tractor. Why do you think the Latin American baseball players come here and kick butt? Because they grew up with nothing and worked their tails off to get here. Mariano Rivera grew up poor in Panama and helped his dad fishing for sardines. He didn't get any kind of special training or conditioning or diet. He just worked hard to get to the majors. Once he got there, that's when he got better conditions. Don't you think players of the 1920's would do the same if they were playing today?

As far as the Clemente issue, he was a grade A player, and a grade A+ human being. Card collectors are giving him a bigger value on the A+ part. I'm just fine with that.
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  #90  
Old 07-12-2018, 12:22 PM
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After Mantle, I would put Clemente second in terms of popularity. Hard to believe he would be ahead of Aaron and Mays, but I truly think he is. Also hard to believe that players like Frank Robinson and Eddie Mathews are just a notch above commons, with the exception of their rookie cards. Clemente seems to be trending up and I think it will stay that way, at least for a while.
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