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  #1  
Old 07-10-2018, 04:00 PM
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Default Clemente: Inner circle of the elite, or on his way?

I had always considered Al Kaline to be a somewhat better player than Roberto Clemente, and objectively, the stats would seem to indicate that was true: Kaline--134 OPS+; .856 OPS; 15-time All-Star; 10 gold gloves; % runs created above league average of 154%. Clemente: 130 OPS+; .834 OPS; 12-time All-Star; 12 gold gloves; % runs created above league average of 142%.

Yet Karl Ravech's (clearly incorrect) statement on air recently that "Clemente built the Pirates' franchise" (ever hear of Honus Wagner, Karl, unanimously rated as the greatest shortstop of all time, linked with Cobb as the two best players of the first 20 years of the 1900-1920 era, and rated by Bill James as the second best player of all time) got me thinking. I perused my latest Heritage Auction catalog and found a great abundance of Topps Clemente cards in NrMT-Mt or better prominently featured. Obviously, the conclusion to be drawn therefrom is that he sells, and very, very well.

Has Clemente arrived within the inner circle of the elite, joining Ruth, Mantle, Cobb, Gehrig, etc., or is he on his way? Certainly his untimely heroic death and legendary humanitarianism boosts his stock considerably. Has he come that far, though? All thoughts appreciated.

Regards to all,

Larry

Last edited by ls7plus; 07-10-2018 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:25 PM
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I've always thought of Kaline and Clemente as roughly comparable with perhaps an edge to Clemente. But interestingly, on baseball reference, Kaline is not in the top ten for Clemente's similarity scores.
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:33 PM
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I have no idea who Karl Ravech is, but I find that many present day sportswriters don't think baseball existed before Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Clemente might be the oldest Pirate player he knows of, that and Mazeroski is too hard to spell or pronounce. Research is hard for some people.
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:37 PM
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Post war he is the second easiest sale after Mantle IMHO. He sells faster than Mays and Aaron for me.
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:49 PM
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On Karl Ravech and somewhat related:

While I totally agree with my statement on Clemente, I just remembered why this struck a chord.

Ravech is the idiot that on Jackie Robinson Day 2009 ended his piece on Jackie Robinson by saying, quote, "tragically lost his life in a plane crash delivering humanitarian supplies to Nicaragua". It was epic in it's stupidity.

So while Ravech is a twit, Clemente is top-5 postwar and maybe top-3.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:31 PM
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Post war he is the second easiest sale after Mantle IMHO. He sells faster than Mays and Aaron for me.
I agree 100% though Jackie is now also in the discussion. Especially since 42 came out and mlb retired his number. Mays Aaron and koufax seem to be the next level guys as far as demand goes.

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Old 07-10-2018, 07:36 PM
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Default Parker

I was just a few months old when Clemente died so I have to second peters statement that the best arm I personally saw was Dave Parker.

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Old 07-10-2018, 04:33 PM
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Not as far as the examples mentioned in the hobby. But certainly worked his way to Aaron hobby status.

I think taking away all the prewar examples you tossed out and focusing on postwar he is very likely top-5 and is relevant enough to be well known to the next generation of collectors.

Also, not to absolutely blow his cards out of the water in pricing. We have seen what has happened to Jackie's cards following the release of "42" which brought the story back in the limelight.

The same studio bought the rights to do a Clemente movie and hired director Ezra Edelman in February to direct it. It's a total go and should be coming out late next year or 2020. I would anticipate it would very much renew the interest to the casual person in the same way 42 did.

Roberto is not done.
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Old 07-10-2018, 05:02 PM
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Not as far as the examples mentioned in the hobby. But certainly worked his way to Aaron hobby status.

I think taking away all the prewar examples you tossed out and focusing on postwar he is very likely top-5 and is relevant enough to be well known to the next generation of collectors.

Also, not to absolutely blow his cards out of the water in pricing. We have seen what has happened to Jackie's cards following the release of "42" which brought the story back in the limelight.

The same studio bought the rights to do a Clemente movie and hired director Ezra Edelman in February to direct it. It's a total go and should be coming out late next year or 2020. I would anticipate it would very much renew the interest to the casual person in the same way 42 did.

Roberto is not done.
Very much look forward to seeing that one. I would also recommend the movie, "Chasing 3,000" (as I believe it was titled, about two teenagers originally from Pittsburgh who had to move to California with their mom and who just had to make their way back to Pittsburgh completely on their own in time to see Roberto get his 3,000th hit.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Larry

Last edited by ls7plus; 07-10-2018 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 05:05 PM
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Gary, Karl Ravech is in the ESPN broadcast booth, usually with Tim Kerkjian and Eduardo Perez. And Justin, I agree that he is absolutely a "twit." He likes to spout out regarding matters of baseball history, but is very ill-prepared to do so.

Highest regards,

Larry
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Old 07-10-2018, 05:57 PM
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OK admittedly as a Hispanic Pirate fan I am terribly biased. Nonetheless, when I think Pittsburgh Pirates Honus doesn't jump out at me as the face of the franchise. That would be Roberto Clemente. He transcends the game in a manner similiar to Jackie Robinson. His essence cannot be reduced to numbers. His pride, passion, compassion and elegance are impossible to define with statistics. The manner in which he died elevates him as well. It is frequently said that Jackie Robinson is baseball's social conscience and Roberto Clemente is its patron saint. No offense to Kaline, in my opinion Roberto rates in that inner circle you mentioned. I dont collect cards or memorabilia based on statistics. I collect Clemente and the 1971 Pirates because they evoke strong feelings in me. They stir my emotion and passion for baseball. I certainly hope Baseball eventually retires #21.
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:02 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:32 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
He had 3000 hits, was 37, and was coming off a 118 hit season. I don't think he was a threat to the all-time hit record.
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:43 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
These things can be debated for generations, and no doubt many bars and pubs across the country have held the same debates that we do on this forum. It's fun and it's what we do as sports fans.

Now, I'm as big of a Clemente fan as any, and while I had not seen either Kaline or Clemente play in person (too young), it should be known that Kaline also was known for a rocket arm. Just read the cartoon on the back of his 54 Topps rookie card.

Also, if you have a minute, check out this passage from Bill Dow's blog article. Here's the excerpt on Kaline's arm:
Quote:
Never mind his remarkable ability to make spectacular catches.

Kaline’s arm was a howitzer.

He once threw out at runner at second while making a throw from a sitting position. And when a hitter sliced a ball into Kaline’s Corner at Tiger Stadium, Al would make his patented spin playing the ball off the wall before whirling to make a throw at second. If he didn’t throw the runner out, chances are its because the runner didn’t even try for second knowing of Kaline’s powerful arm.

One of my greatest memories at Tiger Stadium occurred while sitting in the third row of the upper deck between home and third.

A long fly ball was hit to Kaline, and as he caught it, Baltimore’s Paul Blair tagged from third and headed home. Suddenly, half way down the line, Blair turned back and dove for third because Kaline had thrown the ball directly into catcher Bill Freehan’s glove on the fly. I am not kidding, the whole crowd stood as one and gave Kaline a loud standing ovation.

It still gives me chills.

Last edited by CW; 07-10-2018 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:03 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
300 hits per year for 4 years?
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:48 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
Not having read the whole thread yet I'm sure someone else has probably already pointed out that it is doubtful that he would have averaged 300 hits a year for his age 39, 40, 41 and 42 year old seasons. Just saying.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:10 PM
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Nobody, but nobody ever or now had / has the arm that RC had. Just a lazer shot for runners foolish enough to try stretching a double into a triple. Had he played another 4 years, I think he would now be the all time hits leader.
+1

...and his power numbers were somewhat suppressed by playing half his games...for many years in the cavernous Forbes field. I say somewhat suppressed because Clemente wasn't a pull-power hitter, but a slash, line-drive type.

I was so thankful to watch his diamond art-work in the '71 Series!

Not every truly great player has gaudy stats, though 3,000 hits is pretty damn gaudy!

The circumstances of his death left us wanting more...
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:30 PM
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The same studio bought the rights to do a Clemente movie and hired director Ezra Edelman in February to direct it. It's a total go and should be coming out late next year or 2020. I would anticipate it would very much renew the interest to the casual person in the same way 42 did.

Roberto is not done.
Nice! Good to hear about the movie, thanks.

And a card:


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Old 07-10-2018, 06:36 PM
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Has Clemente arrived within the inner circle of the elite, joining Ruth, Mantle, Cobb, Gehrig, etc., or is he on his way? Certainly his untimely heroic death and legendary humanitarianism boosts his stock considerably. Has he come that far, though? All thoughts appreciated.
Are you talking as a ball player or as a baseball card? The ball player question should not have changed in the last 45+ years. As far as cards, I think he is continuing to slowly rise. Those are two separate questions.
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Old 07-20-2018, 11:58 AM
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Going back to the discussion of top ten players of all-time, right now, Id probably go with these, off the top of my head:

1. Babe Ruth
2. Honus Wagner
3. Ted Williams
4. Willie Mays
5. Ty Cobb
6. Walter Johnson
7. Barry Bonds
8. Lefty Grove
9. Mickey Mantle
10. Lou Gehrig

Lots of other guys are very close. Hard to leave Musial, Young, Aaron, Schmidt, Clemens and a small handful of others off that top ten.







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Old 07-20-2018, 02:47 PM
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1. Babe Ruth
2. Honus Wagner
3. Ted Williams
4. Willie Mays
5. Ty Cobb
6. Walter Johnson
7. Barry Bonds
8. Lefty Grove
9. Mickey Mantle
10. Lou Gehrig
Many top-10 lists look similar to this, with all 10 having played in the last 100 years yet only 1 (sometimes 2) has played in the last 50 years. Were ball players really that much better in the early-mid 20th century? Or do we tend to inflate the legacies those players left behind? In 50 years from now, will Maddux and Clemens and Pedro and Randy Johnson and Arod sneak into these lists? Or have we been watching bad baseball the past 50 years?

sorry to get off-topic, just making an observation
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:49 PM
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Many top-10 lists look similar to this, with all 10 having played in the last 100 years yet only 1 (sometimes 2) has played in the last 50 years. Were ball players really that much better in the early-mid 20th century? Or do we tend to inflate the legacies those players left behind? In 50 years from now, will Maddux and Clemens and Pedro and Randy Johnson and Arod sneak into these lists? Or have we been watching bad baseball the past 50 years?

sorry to get off-topic, just making an observation
I think on a prewar card board there is going to be a lot of nostalgia inflation.
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Old 07-21-2018, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
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Many top-10 lists look similar to this, with all 10 having played in the last 100 years yet only 1 (sometimes 2) has played in the last 50 years. Were ball players really that much better in the early-mid 20th century? Or do we tend to inflate the legacies those players left behind? In 50 years from now, will Maddux and Clemens and Pedro and Randy Johnson and Arod sneak into these lists? Or have we been watching bad baseball the past 50 years?

sorry to get off-topic, just making an observation
No, it's ok. Interesting point. I've noticed it, too.

After my list I had that point about guys I seriously considered for the top ten list.

Cy Young is really hard to keep off, but I'd like to have seen him pitch in the live ball era.

Eddie Collins is just outside my top ten.

Two of the modern era guys I struggled to keep off were Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench. Bench doesn't have the WAR of the others, but he's one of those guys where I don't feel the numbers tell the whole story. I just can't help but feel they're low.

Consider his 1970 season. '70 was a bit of an outlier for the National League-4.52 runs were scored per game; league average for the six years before and after were 3.91 and 4.04, respectively. So Bench's offensive numbers appear a tick more impressive than they would have in any of those other 12 seasons.

He played 158 games (139 as a catcher), hit .293, scored 97 runs, had 35 doubles, 4 triples, 45 home runs, 148 RBI, 355 total bases, and slashed .345/.587/.932, good for a 141 OPS +.

He was an All Star, won the Gold Glove (1.8 dWAR), and NL MVP. Yet, that's only worth 7.4 WAR (per BBR)?

How many catchers not named Mike Piazza get 84 extra base hits in a season? Oh wait, Piazza's best was 73 XBH.

In 219 PAs with runners in scoring position, Bench hit .318 with 104 RBI and a 1.071 OPS. That's insane! He had a .990 OPS with men on. .319 with a .995 OPS in high leverage situations. .304 with a .970 OPS in medium leverage situations.

And he was only worth 7.4 wins? I also feel his 1972 season, where he's awarded an 8.6 WAR, is low. His average was lower-.270-but, he walked 100 times. He hit 40 home runs, drove in 125. Slashed .379/.541/.920. His OPS + is 166. All Star, Gold Glove and MVP again.

Joe Morgan is another I have a hard time keeping off. First off, the guy was a walking machine. 1,865 free passes in his career. He hit .271 career, and when he swung the bat, he could mash. Remember, that's an era of low scoring. Between '72 and '76, Morgan hit .303, averaged 113 runs scored, 22 home runs, 85 RBI, 62 stolen bases, 118 walks, slashing .431/.499/.930 with a 163 OPS+. That's his actual averages, not 162 game averages. And, he averaged 9.6 WAR per season for those five years. He had five other All Star caliber seasons outside that five year period (that being WAR of 5+), but during that half decade, he was historically good with WARs of 9.3, 9.3, 8.6, 11.0, and 9.6.
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:34 AM
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He was an All Star, won the Gold Glove (1.8 dWAR), and NL MVP. Yet, that's only worth 7.4 WAR (per BBR)?

How many catchers not named Mike Piazza get 84 extra base hits in a season? Oh wait, Piazza's best was 73 XBH.

In 219 PAs with runners in scoring position, Bench hit .318 with 104 RBI and a 1.071 OPS. That's insane! He had a .990 OPS with men on. .319 with a .995 OPS in high leverage situations. .304 with a .970 OPS in medium leverage situations.

And he was only worth 7.4 wins? I also feel his 1972 season, where he's awarded an 8.6 WAR, is low. His average was lower-.270-but, he walked 100 times. He hit 40 home runs, drove in 125. Slashed .379/.541/.920. His OPS + is 166. All Star, Gold Glove and MVP again.

Joe Morgan is another I have a hard time keeping off. First off, the guy was a walking machine. 1,865 free passes in his career. He hit .271 career, and when he swung the bat, he could mash. Remember, that's an era of low scoring. Between '72 and '76, Morgan hit .303, averaged 113 runs scored, 22 home runs, 85 RBI, 62 stolen bases, 118 walks, slashing .431/.499/.930 with a 163 OPS+. That's his actual averages, not 162 game averages. And, he averaged 9.6 WAR per season for those five years. He had five other All Star caliber seasons outside that five year period (that being WAR of 5+), but during that half decade, he was historically good with WARs of 9.3, 9.3, 8.6, 11.0, and 9.6.
This is the problem I have with WAR. The numbers seem so completely random at times. And there are some guys that seem to just tick all the right boxes for WAR and end up with a number that doesn't pass the smell test. To use a guy mentioned earlier in this thread - Gene Tenace in 1974 hit .211 with an OPS of .775. WAR of 5.0. Really?

Joe Morgan was a great player - for about 5 years anyway - and WAR just loves him. He ticks all the right boxes. But a WAR of 11.0 in 1975? OK. But then he goes out and improves in 1976 and his WAR *drops* to 9.6. Sure thing.
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:46 AM
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Pitching WAR is weird too. Fangraphs has Trevor Bauer as the best pitcher in baseball, even though (for example) his BABIP against is higher than the rest of the top 10. It also ranks Jon Gray with an ERA of 5.5 as the 12th best pitcher.
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tabe View Post
This is the problem I have with WAR. The numbers seem so completely random at times. And there are some guys that seem to just tick all the right boxes for WAR and end up with a number that doesn't pass the smell test. To use a guy mentioned earlier in this thread - Gene Tenace in 1974 hit .211 with an OPS of .775. WAR of 5.0. Really?

Joe Morgan was a great player - for about 5 years anyway - and WAR just loves him. He ticks all the right boxes. But a WAR of 11.0 in 1975? OK. But then he goes out and improves in 1976 and his WAR *drops* to 9.6. Sure thing.
Agree with everything you just said.

The variance in his WAR between 1975 and 1976 appears due to defensive regression. He went from a 2.0 dWAR to a 0.4. But he won the Gold Glove both years, so the guys watching the games didn't see a precipitous drop off in his defense.

Sometimes I love WAR, but sometimes I hate it. I don't think there's ever been a more divisive metric in baseball. It's great for comparing players within one era, but I find it maddeningly (is that even a word?) flawed when you compare players from even one generation apart. And the defensive component of it....let me just say I don't get it, and I'll walk away.

The very fact that WAR is computed differently by BBR and Fangraphs only adds to my nervous tick. When it comes to statistical analysis, I'm a very precise guy (shocking, right?). I don't like that I have to qualify which site I'm taking my information from when entering into a discussion. The talking heads at BBR and Fangraphs need to lock themselves in a room, agree upon one formula, and then blow smoke for the world to see, like when the Pope has been named by the College of Cardinals.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:59 AM
Edward Edward is offline
Ed I.vey
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Clemente's death, and circumstances surrounding, elevated his standing beyond statistical delineation.
Apart from that, I was 8 and had a Clemente 73 Topps and thought I was special.
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