The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #100-91

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The previous ten, which includes #200-101, is here.

Are you ready for the 100 greatest baseball players who ever lived?  Hells yeah!

100. Dennis Eckersley RHP WARP+WAR=136.2

Red Sox/Athletics
ERA+ 116
MVPQ none, Best season 1979 (13.4)

All 3 closers on the list are in this section; two both started and closed in their careers.  Here are my essential thoughts about closers.

1. They're overrated in the minds of the public and traditional baseball media.  
2. They're underrated by WAR, and so I'd subjectively push them up this list and maybe add a couple more.

In my previous post, I had two separate lineups, one, just going down the list for career value - which would mean that Eckersley takes the slot, albeit momentarily, as best right handed pitcher thusfar; and the second, more subjective, just asking "who would you pick" - not looking at career value, as this list is, but thinking more about peak.  Eck doesn't get near that 25 man roster.  

99. Willie McCovey 1B 136.9

OPS+ 147
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .284/.392/.585
MVPQ 1969 (17.7)

McCovey's the fourth greatest San Francisco Giant of all time.  Here's his SFG career with WAR/WARP totals.


1959 6.9                                          
1960 3.5                                          
1961 4.6                                          
1962 4.6
1963 12.1
1964 .2
1965 11.4
1966 13
1967 10.3
1968 14.9
1969 17.7
1970 14.1
1971 5.3
1972 -.7
1973 7.4
1977 3.5
1978 -1
1979 .3
1980 -1.4

McCovey doesn't pass McGwire on the subjective team.  Willie Mac played many more years, didn't pick up much ground on Big Mac with the glove, and didn't have the OPS+ or the slashline.  I'm all SFG, McCovey's one of my guys - he wasn't as quite as good as McGwire.  

98. Rick Reuschel RHP 137.8

ERA+ 114
MVPQ 1977 (17.4), 

Yes, Rick Reuschel is massively underrated.  19 seasons, while a good number, isn't like a 26 year compilation only career.  He did have one MVPQ season and the ERA+, while putting him near the bottom of the pitchers on the list so far, matches Bunning, and beats Sutton, Tanana, and John, the guys he should most readily be compared with.  That's the company you should think of when you consider Reuschel.

97. Eddie Murray 1B 139.4

OPS+ 129
MVPQ none, Best Season: 1984 (13.8)

Palmeiro is probably the best comparison; you'd put Murray behind McGwire/McCovey and I'd take Clark third for the 3/4/5 slashline.  

96. John Smoltz RHP 139.6

ERA+ 125
MVPQ none Best season: 1996 (13.3)

He's over 200 IP in the postseason, so that's an extra year.  15-4, 2.67, 199K, 73BB.

You'd want him to have that one big year, and he just didn't - instead, it's two decades of really good baseball; you'd rank him right with Schilling.  His career looks a little like Jim Palmer's.  Ed Walsh was better.

95. Craig Biggio 2B/C 140

OPS+ 111
MVPQ 1997 (20.3)

What I need to do now is a list of every 20+ season after the 19th century.  Biggio wasn't as good as Jackie, and I'm going to leave Kent as the current subjective backup.

Here are the 20+ WAR/WARP seasons, non 18th century version.

Sosa 2001 (22.5)
Feller 1946 (21.3)
Marichal 1966 (20.6)
Robinson 1951 (21.7)
Walsh 1908 (22.5)
Walsh 1910 (22.1)
Walsh 1912 (22.2)
Boudreau 1948 (22.6)
Banks 1959 (21.2)
 Santo 1967 (20.5)

And then Biggio.  So, Boudreau has the top season through the first 110 players, assuming no one remaining in this section catches him.

94. Mariano Rivera RHP 140.9

ERA+ 205
MVPQ none, Best season 2008 (13.3)

-Yes, that ERA+ is correct.  It's the best of all time.  Walsh has the best untranslated ERA of all time, and his 146 ERA+ is the best we've seen thusfar, right up until Rivera.

205.  It's the ERA+ equivalent of Milton Berle's dong.

While we're here, here's the postseason record:

8-1, 42 saves, IP 139.2, ERA 0.71, 109 K, 25 walks.

If Rivera's 2011 is the equivalent of his 2010, he'll finish the year in the top 75 of all time, that's how tight things still are at this level.

So, what to do with all of that?  Rivera's at 1100+ IP for his career; that's a third of the innings pitched by the guy who is coming next, Drysdale.  It's a little more than a third of the innings pitched of the guy Rivera would be replacing on my subjective list of the best pitcher on the list so far, Walsh.   Even that postseason record, which might well mark Rivera as the greatest postseason player who ever lived, is still just 139 innings of work, a really good sample for a closer - but half a season for Drysdale.  Were you arguing against Rivera (or any closer) that's where you'd point; and while many of those innings are very important innings (the average inning for Rivera more crucial than the average inning for Drysdale) the extent to which that is true is overstated (the ninth inning isn't always the most important, and a run in the second against Drysdale counts just as much as one in the ninth against Mo).

At the end of the day, where I come out is I like closers a little more than is reflected by the list.  Billy Wagner  and Trevor Hoffman could both be subjectively placed at the end of a top 200.  Eckersley could be pushed a tick higher.  And Rivera, with that 205 ERA+ should be considered one of the 50 best players ever.  Right now, I'll put him ahead of Walsh and call him subjectively the best pitcher on the list thusfar.

93. Don Drysdale RHP 142.7

ERA+ 121
MVPQ 1964 (17.6)

Drysdale will finish this section as the top pitcher, for career value, on the list so far.  

92. Roberto Alomar 2B 142.9

Blue Jays/Orioles/Indians
OPS+ 116
MVPQ none, Best season 1999 (15.6)
Alomar and Biggio both appear in this section, clearly similar in both peak and career to a guy like Sandberg.  Robinson keeps his spot as the subjective best second baseman ever, his bat just solidly above everyone else in the field thusfar.  And I'll keep Kent as his backup, his bat just nudging him ahead of the pack.  

91. Gary Sheffield RF 143

OPS+ 140
MVPQ 2003 (16, with Braves)

If you're playing along, you know my adoration for a translated 3/4/5 career slashline, the list of guys so far carrying one adds a member with Shef.

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen
Joe Jackson (3/4/6)
Elmer Flick
Edgar Martinez

It's tight, but I'll keep Flick ahead of Sheffield as my subjective all time RF thusfar.  Here are the current lineups.  First, the subjective lineup, not looking at career value, just looking at who was best.  Backups in parentheses.  It will add up to a full 25 man roster.

C Berra (Piazza)
1B McGwire (McCovey)
2B Robinson (Kent)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Santo (Allen)
LF Jackson (Stargell)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Walsh, Feller, Marichal, Halladay, Smoltz, Schilling)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

And now, going off the list, here's the current all time career value roster. 

C Berra (Fisk)
1B Murray (McCovey)
2B Alomar (Biggio)
SS Jeter (Banks)
3B Santo (Robinson)
LF Clarke (Burkett)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Sheffield (Walker)
RHP Drysdale (Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, Keefe, Schilling, Radbourn)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

110 down.  90 to go.  I'm going to take next week off to just make football posts, but two weeks from today I'm back with the next ten.  Promise.

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