The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #170-161

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#180-171 is here.

170. Bobby Abreu RF WAR+WARP=118.1
1996-         Phillies
OPS+ 131
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .300/.404/.492
MVPQ  (none) Best Season - 2003 (13.2)

-Another active player on the list (we've already seen Halladay, Beltran, and Vlad) He turns 37 in 2011, you suppose he knows his translated career batting average sits precariously right at .300?  

169. Frank Tanana LHP 118.3
1973-93   Angels/Tigers
ERA+ 106
MVPQ (none) Best Season – 1975 (15.7)

-The list is cumulative only, so were you inclined to see Tanana and his 106 ERA+ and not think of him as sufficiently elite, I understand - but Tanana had top end peak seasons as well as a 21 year career, from '75-77 his combined WAR/WARP was 46+, that's 3 near miss MVPQ seasons from ages 21-23.  He may have left his arm in the mid 70s, from '74-8 he threw about 1250 innings and that was the end of his time as an elite pitcher.

168. Buck Ewing C 118.4
1880-97     Giants
OPS+ 129
MVPQ  (none)

The third catcher on the list, benefiting a bit from WAR's excessive bump to 19th century players - but injured by WAR's insufficient positional credit to catchers.  Lets say it comes out in the wash and this is where Ewing should be.

167. Jim O’Rourke LF 118.7
1872-04   Giants
OPS+ 133
MVPQ (none) 

-Ewing and O'Rourke were teammates for 8 years on those 19th century Giants - I'm looking right now at 1885, there's Roger Connor and Tim Keefe and Monte Ward and Mickey Welch; challenging to balance it being a great club with historically significant players with those pre 19th century players being a little overvalued.  I mean, within the broader construct that all players coming before today are overvalued - watch an NBA game from the 1980s on ESPN Classic sometime and compare the guys you think of as the best players ever with LeBron James to see what I mean.  Bigger/fast/stronger and more skilled - that's the athletic arc.  The greatness of all of them in comparison to 2011 athletes - Babe Ruth, Jim Brown, Bill Russell - is a bit of a fiction.     

166. Reggie Smith CF/RF 119.5
1966-82   Red Sox/Dodgers
OPS+ 137
MVPQ  none Best Season (1977) (13.8)

-There's probably a little pre-teen racism in play, but in the way fans of the American league thought of Jim Rice as "feared" - I thought late 1970s Reggie Smith was a bad, bad man when he would come to town with the Dodgers.  I think his fight with the fans at Candlestick was '81, I would have been ten, and when he finished up his career as a Giant in '82 I was thrilled.  Joe Morgan and Reggie Smith!  I loved that '82 team, my favorite SFG club until '86.  

165. Al Simmons LF/CF 119.6
1924-44  Athletics/White Sox
OPS+ 132
MVPQ none Best season 1929 (15.1)

-Comparable to Smith, right?  And given that Simmons played a few more seasons, you might take Reggie if given your druthers.  Reggie Smith - better than you think.  

164. Richie Ashburn CF 119.6
1948-62  Phillies
OPS+ 111
MVPQ none Best season 1958 (15)

-Absolutely no power, and that drags down a .400+ translated career OBP to a barely above average OPS+, but he could get on base - and when you add that to his glove, Ashburn makes the list; Kenny Lofton was in the previous ten; 

163. Bob Caruthers RF/RHP 119.8
1884-93  Browns/Dodgers
ERA+ 123
OPS+ 133
MVPQ  1886 (22.1) 1887 (21.5) 1889 (20)

-Another 19th century player here - Caruthers had 3 blowaway seasons; the three best seasons on the list so far; note that both his OPS+ and ERA+ are substantial; Caruthers only played 9 seasons to accumulate this value; were you to make a list that accounted for peak, and didn't substantially reduce the pre 20th century numbers, Caruthers would absolutely make the top 100.  

162. Billy Williams LF 120.6
1959-76 Cubs
OPS+ 133
MVPQ none Best Season 1965 (13.7)

-You can throw Williams in that Smith/Simmons mix, really ranking them in any way the need strikes you.

161. Darrell Evans 3B/1B 120.7
OPS+ 119
MVPQ 1973 (18.1)

The 18th greatest San Francisco Giant of all time.  Good career value plus that MVPQ year in Atlanta in '73 and the WS win with the Tigers in '84.  Evans deserves this exact spot.  

40 down.  160 to go.  I'll be back next week.  

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