a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #110-101

#120-111 is here.



110. Joe Cronin SS WARP+WAR=133.7
1926-45
Senators/Red Sox
OPS+ 119
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .280/.365/.465
MVPQ 1930 (18.2)

Cronin, like Boudreau, didn't miss time for the war, but he was a decade older, so it's unlikely it was a "shortstops are automatically 4-F" thing.  I've got two more shortstops in this block of ten; when we get through them both, I'll run down the full list.   

109. Ernie Banks SS/1B 133.8
1953-71
Cubs
OPS+ 122
.279/.341/.531
MVPQ 1955 (17.8), 1958 (19.5), 1959 (21.2), 1960 (17.3)

4 MVPQuality seasons (seasons with a combined WAR/WARP of 16+) puts Banks in the upper reaches of this half of the top 200 baseball players of all time.  Here's everyone on the list so far with multiple MVPQ seasons.

Vance (2), Bunning (3), Wynn (2), Joe Jackson (2), Caruthers (3), Snider (2), Feller (3), Baker (2), Newhouser (3), Marichal (2), Dick Allen (3), Jackie Robinson (3), Kevin Brown (2), Ed Walsh (5), Radbourn (2), Sandberg (2).

So - the position player on the list with the most MVPQ seasons is Banks, behind only the pitcher, Walsh.

108. Ron Santo 3B 134.1
1960-74
Cubs
OPS+ 125
.283/.375/.498
MVPQ 1964 (18.3), 1966 (18.3), 1967 (20.5)

Look at the Cubs, 7 MVPQ seasons in a little over a decade.  One could, were one inclined, go through those rosters to figure out why they didn't win a title.  Santo's the only third baseman in this section.   Here's all of them with OPS+

Collins 113, Nettles 110, Cey 121, Bell 109, Boyer 116, Hack 119, Evans 119 (one MVPQ season), Ventura 114, Baker 135 (2 MVPQ seasons), Allen 156 (3 MVPQ seasons), Robinson (104) 

That's 12, that's a good number of dudes.  Brooks has the best glove; Dick Allen the best bat and by a wide, wide margin.  Santo, as reflected in this number, had the best career and given his playing just 15 years, I think he was the best player.  If you were picking teams, I think I'd take Santo by a hair over Dick Allen with Home Run Baker third.  

I don't get too worked up about the Hall of Fame and don't have any emotional attachment to Santo at all, but I assume it would have mattered to him to have been recognized, and in the strongest possible terms, what I'd like to communicate is the baseball writers who did not vote for him when he was alive do not understand baseball well enough to keep their votes.  


107. Derek Jeter SS 134.4
1995 -
Yankees
OPS+ 121
.310/.383/.456
MVPQ 1999 (16.5)

Jeter's got 600+ postseason plate appearances now, so that's a regular season worth of work.  Here's his untranslated postseason line:

.309/.377/.472

Jeter, like virtually every athlete who has a large enough postseason sample size to make a reasonable determination, is essentially the same guy in the playoffs as in the regular season.   Guys don't have magical powers in October.  

Jeter had a down 2010, his combined WAR/WARP was 4.4.  If he can duplicate it, he's 98th after the 2011 season.  

Here's all the shortstops: Glasscock (OPS+ 112), Reese (98), Ward (92), Wallace (105),  Boudreau (120), Cronin (119) Banks (122).  It's close, right?  Jeter/Banks/Boudreau?   I'll take Banks, on the strength of those MVPQ seasons and that big adjusted SLG  if I'm drafting.  He and Santo next to each other on the left side of the 101-200 infield.  Jeter's gonna move solidly through this section for career value before he's done.   

106. Carl Hubbell LHP 134.5
1928-43
Giants
ERA+ 130
MVPQ 1932 (16.3), 1933 (19), 1936 (18.9)

Hubbell's the last lefty in this hundred.  Tanana (ERA+ 106), John (111), Newhouser (130) is the balance of the list.  Newhouser and Hubbell pretty solidly the cream of that crop; I'll take Hubbell, but it's razor thin.  

105. Mark McGwire 1B 134.7
1987-01
Athletics/Cardinals
OPS+ 162
.277/.405/.650
MVPQ 1998 (16.6)

Look at that adjusted .650 SLG.  Boom.  That's the highest of anyone in the bottom hundred.  An adjusted .650 slugging percentage.  Put him in the Hall of Fame.  Here's every first baseman and everyone with a 150+ OPS+ so far.  

Killebre-w (143), Olerud (128),  Beckley (125), Clark (137), Hernandez (128), Palmeiro (132).

Jackson (170),  Allen (156), 

Mac's the best first baseman.  The bat is solidly better than his nearest competitor (unless you want to call Allen a first baseman, then it's only a little better) and that makes up for the glove deficiency.  Best both for career and if you were picking.  McGwire joins Banks and Santo in the infield.  Hubbell the left handed pitcher.  

104. Yogi Berra C 135.1
1946-65
Yankees
OPS+ 125
.287/.344/.519
MVPQ none, Best season 1950, 1956 (13.1)

Here are the catchers: Kelly (138), Torre (128), Ewing (129), Hartnett (126), Dickey (127), Piazza (142), Fisk (112).  Kelly played a lot of RF, so that's why he's lower ranked despite his bat, and Fisk played forever, boosting his value despite the relatively weaker bat.  Everyone else ('cept for the one guy) is in essentially the same spot; Yogi's defense gives him the top career spot.

But what to do about Piazza's bat?  For career value, I'll take Yogi.  But if I'm picking sides, does Piazza's bat outweigh Yogi's glove?  

I'm gonna say yes.  I know.  It's a hard call; even now, I'm considering changing my mind.  

Okay, I've changed my mind.  I'll take Yogi's glove.  Hard to do.  

103. Billy Hamilton CF 135.8
1888-01
Phillies/Braves
OPS+ 141
.315/.434/.449
MVPQ 1894 (17.1)

Only 14 years to accumulate that value; that's a helluva career.  

Here are all the outfielders with their OPS+.

LF Goslin 128
LF Cruz 120
LF Medwick 134
LF Jackson 170
LF O'Rourke 133
LF Simmons 132
LF Williams 133
LF Stargell 147
LF Burkett 140
LF Clarke 132
CF Beltran 119
CF Wynn 128 
CF Lofton 107
CF Smith 137
CF Ashburn 111
CF Jones 111
CF Snider 140
RF Bonds 129
RF Clark 137
RF Guerrero 146
RF Slaughter 124
RF Dawson 119
RF Abreu 131
RF Caruthers 133
RF Sosa 128
RF Evans 127
RF Winfield 130
RF Flick 149
RF Keeler 126
RF Heilmann 148
RF Walker 140

If I'm drafting - Joe Jackson in left.  Elmer Flick in right, just over Heilmann.  Billy Hamilton in center.  

102. Tim Keefe 135.9 RHP 
Giants
1880-93
ERA+ 127

So, who are the right handed pitchers with their ERA+?  

Vance (125), Bunning (114), Halladay (136), Mullane (118), Griffith (122), Saberhagen (126), Tiant (115), Feller (122), Palmer (126), Galvin (108), Marichal (123), Ruffing (110), Rusie (129), Sutton (108), Lyons (118), Brown (127), Walsh (146), Radbourn (120), Schilling (128).

The outlier is clearly Walsh; he's the guy you'd pick on the schoolyard without reservation. 


101. Edgar Martinez DH 136.1
1987-04
Mariners
OPS+ 147
.319/.424/.559
MVPQ 1995 (16.3)

Edgar can't fit into the groupings of position players, but he allows me to do my favorite grouping of this list - the guys with the translated .300/.400/.500 slashlines.

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen
Joe Jackson (actually, a 3/4/6)
Elmer Flick.

And now Edgar.  His bat was undeniable.  

I haven't recapped second base yet (spoiler alert, it's gonna be Jackie).

Here they are with OPS+

Doerr (115), Gordon (120), Herman (112), Robinson (131), Randolph (104), McPhee (106), Sandberg (114), Kent (123)

Jackie's the best.  So - two lists here.  If you were drafting, just "who was the best player, not who had the best career"

C Berra
1B McGwire
2B Robinson
SS Banks
3B Santo
LF Jackson
CF Hamilton
RF Flick
RHP Walsh
LHP Hubbell

And then, for career value, just going off this list - here's your team.

C Berra
1B McGwire
2B Kent
SS Jeter
3B Santo
LF Clarke
CF Hamilton
RF Walker
RHP Keefe
LHP Hubbell

And here's the list.

200. Harmon Killebrew
199. Goose Goslin
198. Jimmy Collins
197. Jose Cruz
196. Bobby Bonds
195. Graig Nettles
194. Jack Clark
193. Ron Cey
192. Dazzy Vance
191. Jim Bunning
190. Bobby Doerr
189. Buddy Bell
188. Roy Halladay
187. Tony Mullane
186. Ducky Medwick
185. Clark Griffith
184. Carlos Beltran
183. Bret Saberhagen
182. Vladimir Guerrero
181. Enos Slaughter
180. Ken Boyer
179. Joe Gordon
178. Andre Dawson
177. King Kelly
176. Jimmy Wynn
175. Kenny Lofton
174. Joe Torre
173. John Olerud
172. Joe Jackson
171. Stan Hack
170. Bobby Abreu
169. Frank Tanana
168. Buck Ewing
167. Jim O'Rourke
166. Reggie Smith
165. Al Simmons
164. Richie Ashburn
163. Bob Caruthers
162. Billy Williams
161. Darrell Evans
160. Jake Beckley
159. Sammy Sosa
158. Duke Snider
157. Dwight Evans
156. Tommy John
155. Andruw Jones
154. Robin Ventura
153. Luis Tiant
152. Dave Winfield
151. Bob Feller
150. Jack Glasscock
149. Elmer Flick
148. Gabby Hartnett
147. Will Clark
146. Jim Palmer
145. Pud Galvin
144. Willie Stargell
143. Home Run Baker
142. Billy Herman
141. Hal Newhouser
140. Juan Marichal
139. Red Ruffing
138. Dick Allen
137. Bill Dickey
136. Amos Rusie
135. Pee Wee Reese
134. Keith Hernandez
133. Jackie Robinson
132. Monte Ward
131. Don Sutton
130. Willie Randolph
129. Jesse Burkett
128. Wee Willie Keeler
127. Bid McPhee
126. Mike Piazza
125. Harry Heilmann
124. Ted Lyons
123. Kevin Brown
122. Ed Walsh
121. Larry Walker
120. Brooks Robinson
119. Fred Clarke
118. Hoss Radbourn
117. Ryne Sandberg
116. Bobby Wallace
115. Lou Boudreau
114. Curt Schilling
113. Jeff Kent
112. Carlton Fisk
111. Rafael Palmeiro
110. Joe Cronin
109. Ernie Banks
108. Ron Santo
107. Derek Jeter
106. Carl Hubbell
105. Mark McGwire
104. Yogi Berra
103. Billy Hamilton
102. Tim Keefe
101. Edgar Martinez

100 down.  100 to go.  See you in a week.