1958 – Bob and Terry back-and forth regarding Jud “Boojum” Wilson

Bob

Thought I might do a little proselytizing for Jud Wilson. It’s just playing around with some numbers; it doesn’t really prove anything.

From 1924 to 1933, Wilson was in the Top 5 in batting average in the NeL all ten years, winning a couple of batting titles. What would that be equivalent to in the white leagues? I don’t know for sure, but being in the Top 10? Over those ten years, would he have hit .370? Hornsby over his 10 best seasons hit .382; Heilmann hit .367. Wilson batting .370 might be a tad high, but within the realm of possibility. But let’s just say he came in 10th place every season. Looking up who came in 10th each season on BBR, the average for those season was .345. Let me use that as a base. It’s hard to know for sure, looking at his stat line, how often he would have walked. It doesn’t appear that he walked a lot, so let’s say he had an OBA of .395 for those ten years.

Looking at white players who could be called general comps (Manush, P Waner, Ott, Cronin, guys like that) played between 1393 and 1490 games. Let’s say, being conservative, that Wilson played 1400 games over those 10 seasons. During those years the average batter went to the plate 4.3 times per game. Let’s put Wilson down at 4.2, even tho he most likely would have batted 2nd or 3rd and likely would have had more than 4.2 PA/G. 1400 game times 4.2 PA/G equals 5880 PAs for those 10 years. If we know PA, BA and OBA, we can figure out At Bats, Hits and Walks. The formulas are (if anyone is interested):
1. W = (OBA-BA) X PA divided by (1-BA)
2. AB = PA – W
3. H = AB X BA
Using these and knowing PAs is 5880, BA is .345 and OBA is .395, Wilson over these 10 seasons would have 1400 Games, 5431 At Bats, 1874 Hits and 449 Walks. Does this seem like a pretty fair, conservative estimate? I think so.

(I should probably interject here that I am not using Wilson’s BBR stats. A couple of his BBR seasons in the 1924-1933 period don’t look that good, altho ’34 and ’35 do – but I’m not counting those as “prime” years, nor am I counting ’23 when it looks like he came in 6th in the BA race. If I had used the same numbers, but instead used a 13-year peak, Wilson would have had 1820 Games, 7060 At Bats, 2436 Hits and 584 walks. But I am trying to be as conservative in my number-crunching as I can.)

After 1933, Wilson played for 12 more seasons, plus his cup of coffee in ’22 and his first full season in ’23. It really is hard to tell, but it looks like he was a regular in ’23 and ’34-’38, six more years. If he only played 130 games per year for these 6 seasons, that would come to 780 games. He may or may not have played 7 more years, but let’s say he played some, enough to get him to 220 games (that way we’ll have another 1000 games to play around with). If he hit in the .320 range in the three seasons of ’23, ’34 and ’35, couldn’t we expect that he hit a little better than .300 over those 1000 games? Let’s be conservative and say he hit .290, with an OBA of .340, and let’s drop his PA/G down from 4.2 to 3.9. Over these 1000 games he’d have 3900 PAs. Using the formulas above, in these 1000 games, he’d have 3621 ABs, 1086 H and 279 W. Add the two together, Wilson’s stat line would/could look like this:
2400 Games
9052 At Bats
2960 Hits
728 Walks
.327 BA
.377 OBA
Being conservative in EVERY particular, he ends up with a .327 BA and 2960 hits. These seem to me to be the bare minimum of what Wilson’s stats might look like.

Let’s look at his power. Chuck, in the “Negro League Stats” thread, post #19, takes a look at Wilson, using The Baseball Factory’s numbers. According to them, Wilson would have had .111 IsoPower. This to me devalues Wilson’s power significantly. On multiple occasions, Wilson was in the Top 5 in Doubles, Triples and Home Runs. One doesn’t have a lifetime .111 IsoPower doing that. Cronin, a non-homerun hitter, had a career IsoPower of .167. Wouldn’t you think that Wilson would have at least matched that in his ten prime season? To end up with a .111, over those extra 1000 games, Wilson would have had to lose so much power that he’d have a lower IsoPower than Lloyd Waner or Matty Alou. How does one go from a minimum 30-10-15 (2B-3B-HR) per 162, which would give Wilson approximately a 150 IsoPower during his prime, to a maximum 18-5-3 per 162? Wilson sure seems to me to be in the Al Oliver/Roberto Clemente hitting family: legendary line-drive-power hitters. Oliver had .148 IsoPower and Clemente had .158. Wilson surely would have been in that range for his career. In fact, just looking at his projected BA and Hits, don’t Wilson’s stats look an awful lot like Clemente’s career numbers?

Re-reading that last paragraph, it comes across as whining. Sorry about that. It’s just that I see Wilson as a .335/.400/.500 in 2600 games type of player, something along the lines of
2600 Games
9700 At Bats
3250 Hits
500 Doubles
100 Triples
300 Home Runs
1050 Walks
That to me is a very strong B Grade 3rd baseman. Definitely in the George Brett range (adjusting for eras).

Terry

Bob and I have been tossing Boojum Wilson back and forth (not literally) for a few weeks. My own take on him is similar to Bob’s “normal” take on him, rather than the worst case scenario he posted above:

2200-2400 games, .335-.345 ba, 250-350 homers, lots and doubles and triples, 50-70 walks per year. He wasn’t a good defensive player, and I would personally guess that, had he played in the majors, he would have been a left fielder/centerfielder in the mode of Hack Wilson and Wally Berger. I project his career to have been 1923-1939. He came to the “PCL” in 1922, which puts him in the majors either late that year or early the next. He had a serious injury in 1938 after a resurgent 1937 season reversed several years of steady decline.

There are a couple of things I’ve noticed about these guys, and their stats:

1- Career lengths have to be taken with a monstrous grain of salt. They played forever if they were stars, and nobody was forced to the minors when they were in their early to mid 30s like the white major leaguers were. Lose your speed in the majors, you are gone. Lose your speed in the NeL, you play first base, pinch hit, maybe even play second or third base. Many of the big stars took over their teams as the manager, becoming older versions of what Pete Rose became in the 1980s.

2- Peripheral stats aren’t fully counted. This ain’t exactly an epiphany, but the fallout might be: A guy with 200 atbats, 85 hits and a resulting .425 batting average might be listed with 5 doubles, 1 triple and 4 homeruns. Think about that for a second….. We’d expect something more like 20-25 doubles and triples, especially back in the 1930s, wouldn’t we? I don’t do the kind of extensive, valuable work that Chuck, Bob and some others are attempting with these guys, but if I did I would come up with some ratios in the more accurately counted white major leagues, and do some pro-rating. This goes for pitchers as well. One of my largest knocks against Ray Brown were his low strikeout rates. I now know that those rates are artificially low, because they weren’t fully documented by the scorers of the time.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on Wilson, and on NeL stats.

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