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, February 22, 2011

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #70-61

The previous ten is here. 

I've got two rosters I've been keeping a running total of as I reveal this list of the 200 greatest careers in baseball history; one, a lineup right from this list - based on career value; the second, more of a subjective/peak list.

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)


Subjective/Peak
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)


And here we go -


70. Frankie Frisch 2B WARP+B-Ref WAR=149.5
1919-37
Giants/Cardinals
OPS+ 110
Translated BA/OBP/SLG  .293/.356/.436
MVPQ 1927 (17.9)

We open the top 70 with the Fordham Flash; his + glove adds to two decades of a good bat to earn this spot, but he just isn't close to Robinson, and Grich nudges him across the board as well.  





69. Rod Carew  2B/1B 150.4
1967-85
Twins/Angels
OPS+ 131
.344/.409/.470
MVPQ 1977 (17.9)
Carew's career was pretty evenly split between second and first, so he's going to leap right up into that second base battle just discussed in Frisch's slot.  Carew didn't have Frisch's glove, but had a whole lot more bat, and while he didn't have the punch that the Grich/Kent ballplayer had, the OBP advantage balances it out.  By a nose, Carew goes by Grich to back up Robinson - they had the same OPS+, Carew and Jackie, but Robinson matched Carew's adjusted on base while also having the Kent/Grich power, and Robinson's got 3 MVPQ seasons in a ten year career.  


68. Paul Molitor 3B/2B 150.5
1978-98
Brewers
OPS+ 122
.319/.383/.493
MVPQ none 1982 (12.8)

We get to look at the third basemen again, and if you're just clicking by on this portion of the list, you're likely to be surprised that Scott Rolen is currently the starting third baseman in both all time lineups. Rolen might pass Molitor on the career value list in 2011 - on the subjective lineup, you'd take Rolen, mildly better bat, solidly better glove. Santo was better than Molitor also, virtually identical numbers - but Santo put up his career in fewer seasons and had multiple MVPQ's to Molitor's none.  


67. Tom Glavine LHP 153
1987-08
Braves
ERA+118
MVPQ none Best seasons 1991 (14.8)

It has been awhile since our last left handed starter; Hubbell and Newhouser each put up 3 MVPQ seasons and adjusted ERAs of 130, and that keeps Glavine out of the subjective roster pretty clearly.  Glavine, btw, had a career postseason record of 14-16.



66. Bill Dahlen SS 154
1891-1911
Cubs/Dodgers
OPS+ 109
.253/.346/.426
MVPQ none Best season 1896 (15.1)

Dahlen neither played for the Cubs (Colts) nor the Dodgers (Superbas), when I can, I try to use the lineal descendants for ease of understanding.  The adjusted OBP really gives that low BA a boost, enough to give a representative bat to his +glove.  He didn't have the bat to break up that Banks/Jeter combo, but had a better glove than either.  


65. Ken Griffey, Jr. CF 154.4
1989-2010
Mariners/Reds
OPS+ 135
.282/.368/.541
MVPQ 1993 (16.2), 1996 (17), 1997 (18.1)

Hamilton's bat a little better, and very different - Griffey had a much bigger bat, almost a hundred more points of adjusted slugging - but Hamilton walked where Junior didn't, and his crazy, crazy adjusted OBP of .434 pushes his bat a nose ahead of Griffey's.  Junior had a couple more MVPQ seasons - boy, it's hard, and when you consider an easier comp, Duke Snider - Snider's bat was a little better and Griffey bled away all of his career defensive value by the end.  You know what?  Man, it's close.  It might be a rock, paper, scissors thing here - I put Hamilton ahead of Snider because of the OBP - but Griffey's got 2 extra MVPQ seasons over Hamilton and that kinda makes him seem better than Billy...but Duke's bat, although it was close, edges Griffey's.

Yeah, it's tight - Griffey's the new best CF of all time.  




64. Nolan Ryan RHP 154.5
1966-93
ERA+ 112
Astros/Angels/Mets/Rangers
MVPQ none, Best season 1973 (15.8)

Nolan Ryan was a "compiler" - that's not a word I like as I think there's value in a long career; I like doing a list that reflects the most systemically underrated ability in all of sports - the ability to stay healthy.  Ryan's not presented as a guy like that - but here he is, with the modest ERA+ and no MVPQ seasons.  He doesn't crack the subjective 7, my list of the 7 best RHP of all time to this point on the list.   


63. Chipper Jones 3B 154.5
1993-
Braves
OPS+ 142
.310/.409/.532
MVPQ none, Best season 2007 (15.4)

Chipper lets us update my favorite sublist; players who have 3/4/5 translated slashlines.  

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen (3/4/6)
Joe Jackson (3/4/6)
Elmer Flick
Gary Sheffield
Edgar Martinez
Manny Ramirez
Chipper Jones


Chipper's bat just blows him to the top of the field - the lack of an MVPQ season is a real downward weight, however, considering Santo had 3.  Chipper was better all around, better bat, comparable in the field, but Santo had a top end not just better - but significantly better than Chipper's top end.  The best of Santo was better than the best of Chipper.  Man.  Chipper clearly was a better bat than both Rolen or Santo - Rolen got the nod over Santo because he had an MVPQ season, minimizing Rolen's advantage of 3-0 over Jones.  

Man.  This is a tough spot.  'Cause Chipper doesn't have Dick Allen's bat.  Man, look at Dick Allen's bat - so, here's what happened - Allen had three MVPQ seasons, but I chose Santo because he also had three, and a better glove.  Then I took Rolen over Santo because his bat was comparable, and had a better glove.  But now it's Jones - he's got a better bat than Rolen or Santo, but not as good as Allen...man.

Okay.  I can't take Chipper, the lack of MVPQ seasons is a dealbreaker - he doesn't make the team.  Done. Whew.


62. Barry Larkin SS 155.1
1986-04
Reds
OPS+116
.300/.377/.461
MVPQ none Best seasons 1996 (15.3)

Nudging closer to Banks with a pretty hefty OBP advantage, but countered by the SLG.  Larkin had a better glove, Banks had a significant MVPQ edge that keeps his job.  Jeter and Larkin have nearly identical offensive numbers, Jeter a tick better today, but probably he'll give that edge back as he ages.  I'm gonna go Jeter, Larkin had a better glove but not a superior one - Jeter's a below average glove, Larkin's an above average...nah, Larkin's better.  Same bat, better glove - Larkin wins.


61. Ozzie Smith SS 155.5
1978-96
Cardinals
OPS+ 87
.279/.356/.357
MVPQ none, Best season 1987 (15.6)

His entire value is in the glove; his bat is below major league average, driven downward by the lack of punch - but he might be the most valuable glove of all time.  Was his glove worth 20 points of OBP and a hundred points of slugging to Larkin as Banks's backup?  Yeah, yeah it was.  All those MVPQ years keeps Banks the starter - but Ozzie's glove makes him the backup.

Here are the two lineups with 60 to go.

Career value:
C Carter (Berra)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Carew (Frisch)
SS Smith (Larkin)
3B Jones (Molitor)
LF Delahanty (Raines)
CF Griffey (Edmonds)
RF Jackson (Waner)
RHP Ryan (Mussina, Clarkson, Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, )
LHP Glavine (Hubbell)


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