The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #200-191

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part I in the series, with the top players who just missed, the top active players who are in the vicinity of the list, and the underlying methodology is here.

The positions and teams listed aren't comprehensive, instead they are most representative of the player's career.

The slash stats aren't raw, they're translated for park/era.

MVPQ refers to all seasons where the player had a combined WAR/WARP of 16, as that's the number that means a MVP caliber season.

200. Harmon Killebrew 1B/3B   WARP+WAR 111.4
1954-75 Twins
Translated BA/OBP/SLG             .268/.383/.545
OPS+ 143
MVPQ – none (Best season ’67 WARP+WAR 14.7)

-The precision with which we evaluate offense is sharper than our understanding of defense; were you looking to make changes to the list, one way would be to bump up guys like Killebrew, whose value was almost entirely tied into offensive production.  An OPS+ of 143 is a big ole' stick.

199. Goose Goslin LF 111.5
1921-38 Senators
OPS+ 128
MVPQ – none (Best season ’28 – 13.7)

-Gotta love that translated +.500 SLG.

198. Jimmy Collins 3B 111.5
1895-1908 Red Sox
OPS+ 113
MVPQ – none (Best season ’98 – 15.4)

-WAR (reminder, I use the B-Ref version) overrates the 19th century players a little bit; consider that when looking at guys like Collins.

197. Jose Cruz LF 111.8
1970-88 Astros
OPS+ 120
MVPQ – none (Best season ’84 – 15.3)

-Of note, Cruz's best seasons, sizeably so, were when he was 35 and 36.  He has avoided steroid accusations.

196. Bobby Bonds RF 112.2
1968-81 Giants
OPS+ 129
MVPQ – none (Best Season ’73 14.6)

-The first SFG; the father/son Bonds is the greatest father/son combo in baseball history.

195. Graig Nettles 3B 112.4
1967-88 Yankees
OPS+ 110
MVPQ – none (Best season ’76 15.1)

-A mistake sportswriters have been prone to make (as reflected in HOF votes) is underestimating positional value (WAR does as well a little bit).  Nettles wasn't a great bat, as evidenced by that 110 OPS+, but there aren't many guys who could give you two decades at third base with even that bat - and that's why Nettles makes the list.

194. Jack Clark RF 113.2
1975-92 Giants
OPS+ 137
MVPQ  - none (Best Season ’87, with Cardinals 12.7)

-Two SFG in this first section; note that his best year wasn't with the Giants, but instead with the Cardinals.

193. Ron Cey 3B 113.2
1971-87 Dodgers
OPS+ 121
MVPQ – none (Best season ’75 - 15.1)

-The best of that longtime Dodger infield.

192. Dazzy Vance RHP 113.4
1915-35 Dodgers
ERA+ 125
MVPQ – 1924 (18.7) 1928 (18.7)

-Our first pitcher on the list; ERA+ works like OPS+ the higher above 100 (the baseline number) the better.  Also the first player to have MVP type seasons; in my previous build of this list, I gave bonus points for those seasons to reflect some type of peak in my list - I'm not doing it here, but if you want to consider that, at his best, Vance was one of baseball best players (twice!) and bump him up, I wouldn't object.

191. Jim Bunning  RHP 113.5
1955-71 Tigers/Phillies
ERA+ 114
MVPQ – 1966 (17.7) 1965 (17.4) 1967 (16.2)

-A better pitcher than statesman, which probably is not the last political comment in the list, but they're unlikely to be any more incendiary than that.

That's the first ten - next ten coming next week.

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