The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #30-21

Monday, March 21, 2011

The previous ten is here.

We're reached rare air.  170 players down - the 30 greatest MLB careers left.

I'm keeping two running rosters.  The all time roster, based just on the list - and a subjective/peak/who would you draft if you were creating a team roster.

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Anson (Pujols)
2B Gehringer (Carew)
SS Davis (Vaughan)
3B Boggs (Brett)
LF Yastrzemski (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Clemente (Kaline)
RHP Niekro (Perry, Blyleven, Nichols, Gibson, Roberts)
LHP Johnson (Carlton, Grove)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Pujols (Foxx)
2B Robinson (Carew)
SS Vaughan (Banks)
3B Boggs (Brett)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Flick (Clemente)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Nichols, Gibson, Feller, Clarkson )
LHP Grove (Johnson)

30. Cal Ripken SS (B-R WAR+WARP)194.2
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .286/.352/.490
MVPQ 1983 (18.4), 1984 (21.3), 1991 (23.5), 

MVPQuality seasons are any seasons where the player had a WARP+WAR (I use the baseball-reference version) above 16.

I've got a few sublists going; Ripken's career allows for two updates.

Every position player with 3+ MVPQ seasons

Ken Griffey
Ed Delahanty 
Ernie Banks (4)
Ron Santo
Dick Allen
Jackie Robinson
Frank Thomas
Arky Vaughan (4)
Joe Dimaggio
Jeff Bagwell
Wade Boggs (5)
Albert Pujols (8)
Jimmie Foxx
Cal Ripken

Yes, if you're just reading now - Albert Pujols has had 8 already.  Yes, that's who he is.  Also note that Ripken lines up behind both Vaughan and Banks among MVPQ seasons for SS.  

And here's every 20th/21st century position player with an MVPQ season above 20 (a supermonster MVPQ)

Sosa 2001 (22.5)
Robinson 1951 (21.7)
Boudreau 1948 (22.6)
Banks 1959 (21.2)
 Santo 1967 (20.5)
Biggio 1997 (20.3)
Yount 1982 (21.1)
Yaz 1967 (22.1)
Vaughan 1935 (21.2)
DiMaggio 1941 (20.5)
Bagwell 1994 (20.6)
Pujols 2009 (21.2)
Foxx 1932 (20)
Ripken 1984 (21.3)
Ripken 1991 (23.5)

Two things happen there - Cal Ripken is the first position player on the list with two 20+ seasons, and his 1991 season is the best of any position player thusfar.

You still take Arky Vaughan over Ripken for the subjective roster, his bat was significantly better.  Was Cal Ripken better than Ernie Banks - Banks had a better better, his pop outweighing Ripken's on base advantage.  Ripken had a better glove and a ton more career value in not too many more years.

Ripken beats him out - he's the new backup shortstop.

29. Warren Spahn LHP 195
ERA+ 119
MVPQ 1947 (16.4), 1953 (16.9), 

Spahn doesn't make the team.  I know, right?  Clarkson's the last righty on the roster - his adjusted ERA is solidly better than Spahn's - and while the 19th century players get a break from WAR, which is why I don't include them in the sublists - he had 3 20+ MVPQ seasons and a season that essentially broke the system.  You knock him down for the era - but not far enough to allow Spahn to slip by.  Like Carlton - Spahn doesn't make the subjective team. 

28. Eddie Mathews 3B 197.4
OPS+ 143
MVPQ 1953 (16.8), 1954 (16.2), 1959 (17.7), 1960 (17.8), 

The new best third baseman who ever lived.  He bumps Boggs to the backup and Brett leaves the roster.

27. Christy Mathewson RHP 200.3
ERA+ 136
MVPQ 1901 (18.2), 1903 (17.4), 1905 (19.5), 1908 (23.7), 1909 (20.6), 1910 (16.9), 

I don't have a proprietary interest in the old NYGiants, not really - not until we get to Thomson's homer, but it would have been fun to root for this guy.  6 MVPQ seasons, the new leader on the board for pitchers - and he's got two 20+ seasons to boot.

Here's the pitching list of 3+ MVPQs.

Pedro Martinez
John Clarkson (4)
Carl Hubbell
Ed Walsh (5)
Hal Newhouser
Bob Feller
Bob Caruthers
Lefty Grove
Kid Nichols (4)
Christy Mathewson (6)

Here are the post 19th C pitchers with 20+ seasons.

Feller 1946 (21.3)
Marichal 1966 (20.6)
Walsh 1908 (22.5)
Walsh 1910 (22.1)
Walsh 1912 (22.2)
Martinez 2000 (20.2)
Gibson 1968 (24.6)
Gibson 1969 (21)
Carlton 1972 (25.4)
Perry 1972 (22)
Mathewson 1908 (23.7)
Mathewson 1909 (20.6)

This is the new greatest pitcher of all time.  The combination of the half dozen MVPQ seasons with two of them going over 20 is enough to get Matty past Rivera.   Mathewson had Ed Walsh's peak - and then spent almost the entire rest of his career just slightly off that peak.   Rivera's adjusted ERA is still a hammer, but the half dozen MVPQ seasons puts Mathewson ahead.  I talked about this with the Rivera/Pedro discussion; Rivera's lack of innings is a huge issue - when balancing his career against every other arm thusfar, I still leaned Rivera (Pedro's lack of innings compared to arms still to come will be part of that discussion) - but now, the lean is Mathewson.  

26. Alex Rodriguez SS/3B 207
OPS+ 145
MVPQ 1996 (19.3), 2000 (21.5), 2001 (16.3, w/Texas), 2002 (16.5, w/Tex), 2005 (16.9), 2007 (18.9),

2011 is ARods 8th year as a Yankee, that makes him longer tenured in NY than in Seattle; he's still a couple of years away from having more games played at third than at short, but he's got as much SS time logged as did Banks.

If Pujols has the same 2011 value he had in 2010, he's 31st on the list in a year.

ARod neither has as much value, nor as much room to climb - if his 2011 matches his 2010, he's just able to jump to 24th.

6 MVPQ seasons for ARod, second on the list to Pujols.  He also had a 20+ season.  ARods the new best SS ever, bumping Vaughan to backup and knocking Ripken from the roster.  

25. Tom Seaver RHP 211
ERA+ 128
MVPQ 1973 (20.2)

So, was Seaver better than Feller?

Yes.   Better adjusted ERA and a ton more career value.  Feller's off the roster.  Was Seaver better than Gibson?  No.  Same adjusted ERA, Gibson had several more MVPQ seasons.  Gibson.  So, Seaver's the last man on the subjective rotation - which is important because of who comes next.

24. Greg Maddux RHP 212.7
ERA+ 132
MVPQ 1992 (17.8), 1994 (18.5), 1995 (19.5)

Maddux is better than Gibson, knocking Seaver from the subjective rotation.  Was Maddux better than Nichols?  Nah.  There's just no measurement where Maddux is better than Nichols outside from the career value.  Adjusted ERA, MVPQ seasons, top season - Nichols was better, so that's where we slot Maddux.

23. Joe Morgan 2B 221.3
OPS+ 132
MVPQ 1972 (22.2), 1973 (20.7), 1974 (20.1), 1975 (24.5), 1976 (20),

Joe Morgan had an adjusted slugging percentage of .500.

There isn't a single position player with more than two super MVPQ seasons, seasons where their WARP/WAR topped 20.

Joe Morgan had 5 in a row.  It's by far the greatest stretch for any player in baseball history to this point on the list.  Joe Morgan was the Big Red Machine.  He bumps Robinson to the backup 2B spot and kicks Carew from the roster.  

22. Frank Robinson RF/LF 221.7
OPS+ 154
MVPQ 1962 (17.9), 1966 (18.1)

I get to return to my favorite sublist - guys with a translated .300/.400/.500 slashline:

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen (3/4/6)
Joe Jackson (3/4/6)
Elmer Flick
Gary Sheffield
Edgar Martinez
Manny Ramirez
Chipper Jones
Dan Brouthers
Frank Thomas (3/4/6)
Arky Vaughan
Jeff Bagwell
Albert Pujols (3/4/6)
Frank Robinson

Frank gets by Flick and is the new all time RF - the question now is Clemente or Delahanty to be the backup corner OF.  It's Delahanty.  Clemente's off the team.  

21. Lou Gehrig 1B 222.7
OPS+ 178
MVPQ 1927 (23.1), 1928 (18.7), 1930 (18.6), 1931 (17.8), 1932 (16.4), 1934 (20.8), 1935 (17.6), 1936 (17.9), 1937 (16.5)

Is Albert Pujols about to get an incurable disease?

Pujols busted through the bracket when we saw him 20 slots ago; 8 MVPQ seasons 3 more than the closest position player (Boggs).

Until now.  Gehrig has 9.  And a 20+ season.  And a 3/4/6 slashline.  And a career adjusted OPS of 178.

He's the best player on the list so far.  If you're drafting, take Gehrig.  He and Pujols have very similar numbers, it will be interesting to see where Albert finishes for career value, and if he just mows by Gehrig you mind wind up sliding him into that 1B spot - but right now, it's still Gehrig.

Edit - as of the All Star Break, 2011, here's the new ranking, 21-30.

21.       Robinson 212.5

22.       Lajoie 211.9
23.       Rodriguez 209.5

24.       Spahn 205.1
25.       Ott 205.1

26.       Mantle 204.8

27.       Morgan 203.1

28. Anson 196

29.       Ripken 192.8

30.       Mathewson 190.5

Here are the rosters with only the top 20 left.

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Gehrig (Anson)
2B Morgan (Gehringer)
SS Rodriguez (Ripken)
3B Mathews (Boggs)
LF Yastrzemski (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Robinson (Clemente)
RHP Maddux (Seaver, Mathewson, Niekro, Perry, Blyleven )
LHP Spahn (Johnson, Carlton)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Gehrig (Pujols)
2B Morgan (Robinson)
SS Rodriguez (Vaughan)
3B Mathews (Boggs)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Robinson (Flick)
RHP Mathewson (Rivera, Martinez, Walsh, Nichols, Maddux, Gibson, )
LHP Grove (Johnson)

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