1893 – Bob’s case for Charley Smith

I’m going to take one more shot at trying to convince you that Charley Smith is a strong, viable candidate for your support.

I think I’ve figured out who is comp his. It’s not a perfect comp (what comp is), but it’s really close. As I have said many times, I spend a lot of time pouring over newspapers from the 1860s and 1870s. I spend a lot of time pouring over what few stats we have from the Amateur Era. I have spent hundreds of hours manipulating these stats, trying to figure out what they mean. I have many different formulas I use to get a handle on this era. I don’t claim to being absolutely right, but I do think I have a “feel” for them.

Smith’s comp is Frank “Home Run” Baker. Baker played from 1909-1914 (6 years) on a team that won 4 pennants. Smith played from 1858-1865 (8 years) for a team that won 4 or 5 (depending on the source) champions. Their production rates were extremely similar. Baker had an OPS+ of 153 for these years, where Smith’s Amateur Era Production Value (my formula that is very close to OPS+) is 143.

Then they both took a year off, Baker in 1915, Smith in 1866. When they came back, both had lost some of their skills. For 4 years, 1916-1919, Baker’s OPS+ was 118. For 5 years, 1867-1871, Smith’s AEPV was 116. Both Baker and Smith retired. However, Baker came back for two more years, 1921-1922, but with an OPS+ of 98, tho the Yankees won the pennant both those years.

Baker ended with a 136 OPS+ for his career of 13 seasons; Smith had a AEPV of 131 for his 13-year career. Both were significant offensive forces on multiple great teams. Baker was better, but not by much.

I don’t have a lot of defensive stats for the Amateur Era. At least not collected well enough to compare with any sense of accuracy. But….the sportswriters of that time were generally impressed with Smith’s defense, and likely would have won the Amateur Era’s version of the Gold Glove a few times, I’d guess in the range of 2 to 6 times. it’s really hard to know for sure. Just a best guess. Plus, remember that back then, third base was an extremely important defensive position. I haven’t got a firm handle on the exact Defensive Spectrum of that era, but the three most important positions were Catcher, First and Third, but I am not positive how to rank them.

So what we have is a very good hitter, a very good fielder, at a key defensive position, on a perennial champion-caliber team, for over a decade. I don’t know if Baker is the best comp, I think he is, but I’m not 100 percent sure. Garciaparra might be another decent comp, tho he lacks the championships. Garciaparra on the low end; Baker on the high end, perhaps.

Have I mentioned he was the manager/captain of the best or second best team of the decade, either his Atlantics or McBride’s Athletics? He does have two glaring weaknesses: his prime was before all the Civil War hostilities were over, and no one has ever heard of him.

There are only three elections left for these guys to get into the GOR. Starting in 1896, no one on the current ballot as a chance of getting in. There are 5 guys who I think warrant serious consideration: Mathews, McCormick, Ferguson, Leggett, and the guy I think I’ll be voting #1 on my ballot the next two years, Charley Smith.

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