The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #80-71

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The previous ten is here.

I'm keeping two running rosters, which you probably know if you're reading the post.  The first is just based on this Top 200 list; here's where we currently stand.

C Berra (Fisk)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Alomar (Biggio)
SS Appling (Yount)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Ramirez (Clarke)
CF Edmonds (Hamilton)
RF Sheffield (Walker)
RHP Clarkson (Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, Keefe,)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

The second is more "who would you pick if you were picking sides" - trying to look more at peak value than a career total.  

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Kent)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Ramirez)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

So - here we go.  

80. Lou Whitaker 2B WARP+WAR=145.6
OPS+ 116
Translated BA/OBP/SLG  .291/.378/.473
MVPQ none, Best season 1983 (13.6)

Trammell was in the previous ten; they should both be in the HOF and they should go in together.  Whitaker bumps Alomar to the backup spot on the career roster and takes Biggio off the list.  The peak list remains unchanged - Jackie's the best 2B, Kent's the backup.  

79. Gary Carter C 146
OPS+ 115
MVPQ 1982 17.1

Carter's now the starting catcher on the all-time career roster, moving Berra to backup.  Now, what to do about the Berra/Piazza tandem on the other roster.  Berra just edges Carter, his bat was a little better as reflected in translated slugging.  Piazza's bat was significantly better - and for the same reasons I've kept Piazza in this slot, he continues through Carter.  

78. Bobby Grich 2B 146.1
MVPQ none Best season 1973 (15.2)

Above average glove and an OPS+ of 125, hopefully somewhere in the closing credits of Moneyball will be a  photographic montage of the forgotten greats in MLB history whose contributions weren't noticed by the prevailing wisdom of the time.  So - once again, we have the Jackie/Kent 2B combo putting their roster spots on the line.  Robinson keeps the spot - better at every phase than Grich.  Then we get to my guy Kent; essentially identical bats, Kent with a tick more power, Grich better at getting on base.  Their careers of comparable lengths - Grich takes the spot on the strength of the glove disparity.  Yeah - Grich was better, not by a lot - but better, absolutely. 

77. Tim Raines LF 146.3
OPS+ 123
MVPQ 1985 (17)

I love me some Tim Raines.  If there had been no Rickey Henderson, the Rock might be my favorite non-Giant ever.  There's something about that type of OBP weapon right there at the top of the order that makes me feel good as a fan.  Or would - 'cause SFG has been historically disinclined to care about leadoff hitters who get on base.  Now to the subjective lineup - the left fielders are Joe Jackson and Manny Ramirez.  He can't get by Jackson - that 170 OPS+ and translated .300/.400/.600 career line is impenetrable.  And, sadly, Manny gets him too - a 155 OPS+ and a 3/4/5 slashline beats out Raines.

76. Sam Crawford RF 146.3
OPS+ 144
MVPQ none, Best season 11.9

Crawford loses out to Flick and Sheffield on the OBP disparity and can't quite crack the subjective roster.

75. Tony Gwynn RF 146.9
OPS+ 132
MVPQ 1987 (17.5)

And Gwynn can't crack that RF roster either, his OBP matches (but doesn't really exceed, despite the huge BA advantage) Flick/Sheff, but he isn't within 50 points of their SLG.  Gwynn had more career value than Gary Sheffield - but if I'm picking, I'm taking Sheff.  Hey, we've hit the 75 best baseball players of all time.

74. Paul Waner RF 147.8
OPS+ 134
MVPQ (none), Best season 1936 (15.5)

Quite a run of right fielders.  Waner = Gwynn.  20 years with the same club, high BA that drove the OBP, good slugging, good enough in the field.  It's the kind of guy who should make up the bulk of a more selctive HOF - but neither was the player that Flick/Sheffield was.  

73. Ed Delahanty LF 147.9
OPS+ 152
MVPQ 1893 (17.2), 1896 (16.5), 1899 (16.8)

Delahanty's sliding past Ramirez, similar numbers but more value in significantly fewer years given a solid defensive advantage (Delahanty played some second, not a position you would often find Ramirez) into the backup LF spot behind Jackson.

72. Mike Mussina RHP 148.6
ERA+ 123
MVPQ none, Best season 1992 (14.7)

A long, consistent career.  Never brilliant, the Moose doesn't have a year better than '92 - but he didn't acquire this career number in 25 years either.  He doesn't crack the subjective 7 (I'm carrying 7 right handers on the peak/subjective lineup) but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be in the HOF.

71. Reggie Jackson RF 149.5
OPS+ 139
MVPQ 1969 (18.5)

Here's Mr. October in October - .278/.358/.527.  Those are untranslated numbers - but the general point is the same, Reggie wasn't better in the postseason than the regular season.  He was who he was, like almost everyone if given a representative sample.  

Jackson doesn't catch Flick - it's a photo finish between he and Sheffield; Sheff's got a higher OBP driven by batting average; Reggie's career value is slightly higher in approximately the same timeframe.  It's close - but it's Sheffield.  I know how that sounds - but the 30 points of adjusted OBP is the only real gap between them. 

Career value:
C Carter (Berra)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Grich (Whitaker)
SS Appling (Yount)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Delahanty (Raines)
CF Edmonds (Hamilton)
RF Jackson (Waner)
RHP Mussina (Clarkson, Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Grich)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

130 down.  70 to go.  See you in a week.

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