Best Players For Their Franchise

by KerryWhisnant

In a recent article, John Bowen asked whether or not was Garrett Anderson the best Angel ever. Following up on that, I thought it would be interesting to do the same for all thirty teams. The following tables list the top three players by WAR for each franchise, using only the years the players played for that team. A “franchise” includes all the venues for a given team, so, for example, the Braves franchise includes players who played in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

In some cases the best player is obvious, but for some teams the WAR values will be good fodder for discussion. The list for the AL, with WAR  values (taken from

Team 1st 2nd 3rd
LA/Cal/Ana C. Finley 49.2 Fregosi 44.1 Ryan 41.1
StL/Bal Ripken 89.9 B. Robinson 69.1 Palmer 63.5
Bos T. Williams 125.3 Yastrzemski 88.7 Clemens 74.8
Chi F. Thomas 70.6 Appling 69.3 E. Collins 66.0
Cle Lajoie 74.7 Speaker 73.3 Feller 66.0
Det Cobb 153.7 Kaline 91.0 Gehringer 80.9
KCR Brett 85.0 Appier 44.1 Otis 42.3
Was/Min W. Johnson 127.7 Carew 62.7 Killebrew 61.4
NYY Ruth 149.6 Mantle 120.2 Gehrig 118.4
Phi/KCA/Oak Henderson 75.3 Plank 63.9 Foxx 61.3
Sea Griffey, Jr. 67.5 E. Martinez 67.2 Suzuki 55.2
Tam Crawford 26.1 Longoria 18.1 Kazmir 16.7
Was/Tex I. Rodriguez 48.6 Palmeiro 40.1 B. Bell 34.3
Tor Stieb 53.6 Halladay 47.4 Delgado 33.8

Some of these are no surprises (Ripken, Williams, Cobb, Brett, Ruth). For some teams that moved, there is a clear best player for each era in the franchise (Johnson for the old Senators, Carew for the new, with Killebrew split across both). Cleveland is the only team with no modern (post-1960) players, while the Browns/Orioles are the only one of the original eight AL franchises with no players before 1950. Roy Halladay was close to becoming the face of the Blue Jays, but won’t now unless he returns to them in the future. Evan Longoria will likely become the best Ray in 2012, at least as measured by WAR.

The list for the NL:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd
Ari R. Johnson 45.1 Webb 29.2 L. Gonzalez 25.6
Bos/Mil/Atl Aaron 141.2 Mathews 95.9 Spahn 92.7
Chi Santo 68.5 Banks 64.4 Sandberg 62.1
Cin Rose 74.6 Bench 71.3 Larkin 66.9
Col Helton 57.9 Walker 44.1 Tulowitzski 18.6
Fla H. Ramirez 29.1 L. Castillo 20.1 Cabrera 18.7
Hou Bagwell 79.9 Biggio 66.2 Cedeno 49.4
Brk/LAD Reese 66.7 Snider 66.5 Drysdale 65.7
Sea/Mil Yount 76.9 Molitor 60.6 Cooper 29.3
NYM Seaver 75.9 Koosman 41.8 Gooden 41.2
Phi Schmidt 108.3 R. Roberts 67.8 Carlton 63.5
Pit Wagner 116.5 Clemente 83.8 P. Waner 69.4
StL Musial 127.8 Hornsby 91.6 Gibson 85.6
SDP Gwynn 68.4 Winfield 30.4 Hoffman 28.1
NY/SF Mays 153.0 Barry Bonds 121.6 Ott 109.3
Mon/Was Carter 52.6 Raines 46.5 Rogers 45.8

Some of these are obvious – most people would choose Aaron, Helton, Bagwell, Yount, Seaver, Schmidt, Wagner, Musial, Gwynn and Mays for their respective teams. The Cubs list might start a lively discussion, as well as the lists for the Reds, Dodgers, and Expos/Nationals. For those wondering, Albert Pujols is a close fourth for the Cardinals with an 83.8 WAR; barring injury he will pass Gibson for third (and possibly Hornsby for second) this year, but whether he makes a run at Musial will depend on the outcome of his contract negotiations – if he does sign a long-term deal with St. Louis, he is a good bet to catch Stan the Man in maybe six or seven years.

Not everyone likes WAR, but for the most part it does a good job identifying the contenders. If you disagree with these rankings, or think that a deserving player has been missed, let’s hear about it!

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112 Responses to “Best Players For Their Franchise”

  1. Raul Says:

    It’s hard to know what the difference was between Lajoie and Speaker, but I think most people would choose Speaker.

    It is nice to see some names up there that aren’t mentioned much like Kevin Appier
    Jim Fregosi.

  2. Chuck Says:

    I’m sure Kerry will look at this on Monday and be disappointed at the lack of comments.

    The topic is a solid one..the qualifying criteria, not so much.

  3. Kerry Says:

    Ah, but if you disagree with the results, Chuck, suggest other players :-)

  4. Hartvig Says:

    I’m not slavishly devoted to WAR but…

    how else do you compare pitchers to hitters?
    how do you compare players of different eras?
    how do you best evaluate players you didn’t see play?

    Let’s try the Chicago Cubs. You can’t use one statistic to compare hitters to pitchers so we’ll have to do them separately.

    Wins: 1) Root 2) Brown 3) Hutchinson
    ERA (min 1000IP) 1) Brown 2) Pfiester 3) Overall
    Strikeouts per 9 1) Wood 2) Prior 3) Clement
    SO/BB 1) Larkin 2) Lieber 3) Eckersley
    Strikeouts 1) Jenkins 2) Zambrano 3) Root

    Batting Average (min 3000 PA’s) 1) Stephenson 2) Anson 3) Lange
    OPS (min 3000 PA’s) 1) Wilson 2) Sosa 3) Lee
    Home Runs 1) Sosa 2) Banks 3) Williams
    RBI 1) Anson 2) Banks 3) Sosa
    Runs 1) Anson 2) Ryan 3) Sandberg

    Who’s the best? Offensively it would have to be Cap Anson, with either Sammy Sosa or Ernie Banks coming in second. Pitching would seem to be either Mordecai Brown or Charlie Root. Look on almost any team you want. Your pitching leaders are going to be from pre-1920, the ‘60 or post-1970 (if you’re looking at strikeouts/AB). Batting leaders will be from the 20’s & 30’s or steroid era.

    Is WAR perfect? No. Is it too complicated? Possibly. Can it be improved? Yes. Do I always agree with it? No.

    But I’m far more inclined to accept it’s results than I am of any other statistic or the overwhelming majority of observers.

    I still have some quibbles with the rankings. Finley leads the Angels only because his career was so much longer than any one else. I would take Killebrew over Carew, Spahn over Mathews, Banks over Santo, Cabrera over Castillo. But overall, it’s probably pretty close to what I would pick.

  5. Chuck Says:

    My problem is in 20 years somebody’s going to look at any list of great Cubs players and unknowingly believe Sosa was a great player.

    Maybe Kerry and some of the other statheads can come up with a stat that measures steriods.

    Would certainly be time better spent than trying to improve on WAR.

  6. Cameron Says:

    The only real surprising leaders to me are Stieb (really?), Finley (Already covered), and Pee Wee Reese (With all the great old Dodgers, he’s the one?)

  7. Chuck Says:

    Dave Stieb was a GREAT pitcher, Cameron.

    He had eleven healthy seasons in a sixteen year career (shoulder issues..sinkerballer) and still managed borderline HOF numbers.

    Stieb beat the crap out of Jack Morris in career WAR 53.0 to 39.3, in 920 fewer innings.

    Did you hear what John Hart said about Eric Hosmer?

  8. Lefty33 Says:

    “(shoulder issues..sinkerballer)”

    I always thought his shoulder injuries were brought on by his slider.

    I thought Stieb had more or less the same rotator cuff type issues that finished off Carlton mostly due to the same pitch.

  9. KerryWhisnant Says:


    I agree, you may have some disagreements basically because WAR is a counting stat that may overvalue long careers. But it gets back to the whole quality versus quantity argument that comes up in Hall of Fame discussions. I would agree with you about Banks over Santo (although it is close). The others you mentioned are 2nd/3rd place decisions, so they don’t impact the BEST player.

    All in all, as Hartvig said, WAR does a good job picking out the best player. Of course, that’s a low standard, as I’m sure Chuck would say.

    Regarding steroids, if everyone did them, the fact that WAR compares players to those in the same era, WAR would be fine. But since some used and others didn’t (presumably), and you don’t always know which was which, it’s hard to make any steroid correction. Even if you knew who did use, you would have to come up with a steroid factor (kind of like a park factor :-) ). (It’s probably already been done, or certainly could be done.)

  10. Cameron Says:

    Not saying Stieb wasn’t great, I was just surprised considering the real greats Toronto had for them. However, the edge over them Dave had was he played in Toronto a lot longer than guys like Doc and Robbie Alomar.

    And please, inform me what was said about Hosmer. Oh, speaking of Eric, I found something interesting. The 6′4″ Eric Hosmer weighs as much as the 5′11″ Mike Moustakas.

    Also, KC is 5-1 in Spring training and 4 of those games we scored 8 runs or more. I hope the god this new life in the offense is a trend.

  11. Chuck Says:

    KC leads the entire ML in ST BA and OBP.

    If you look at their hitting stats from last year..second in BA, sixth in OBP, seventh in walks, fewest strikeouts (in the majors, by the way), all they lacked was some power and consistency with RISP.

    Hart said Hosmer has the highest ceiling of any minor league prospect.

    Moose lost, IMO, 10-15 pounds in the off-season and looks to be in great shape, probably in the 190-195 range as opposed to the 205-210 he had been carrying around.

    Although it must be noted the only way Moustakas is 5′11″ is if he was measured standing on a stool.

    Yeah, Hosmer is lanky, but he’s not puke enducing lanky like Chris Sale.

  12. Cameron Says:

    Nah, the big lanky man on KC’s campus is Mike Montgomery. About 6′4″ or 6′5″ and he weighs 185. The boy should put some muscle on so he throws harder and doesn’t completely unravel.

    And that is really impressive. The highest ceiling? When you’ve got Harper’s raw power, five-tool stud in Trout, Chapman’s developing offspeed and breaking stuff and if he starts… And Hosmer’s got it?

    At the end of this, I just hope we have someone in Cooperstown besides #5 wearing a Royals cap.

  13. Chuck Says:

    “Hart said Hosmer has the highest ceiling of any minor league prospect.”

    Sorry, Cam. He actually said “position” prospect.

    My bad.

  14. Jim Says:

    #7 Did I read correctly that Chuck used WAR in comparing Morris and Stieb? Damn, pigs do fly.

    And Stieb was a superior pitcher to Morris.

  15. Chuck Says:

    “Nah, the big lanky man on KC’s campus is Mike Montgomery. About 6′4″ or 6′5″ and he weighs 185.”

    He looked bigger to me, actually.

  16. Chuck Says:

    It’s a WAR based discussion, Jim.

    If I was starving I’d eat haggis.

    OK, well, maybe I wouldn’t, but you get the point. :)

  17. Cameron Says:

    Ah, who was the best overall prospect according to Hart, Chapman? If the experiment with his change and slider (or was it a curve) goes well, I might agree in the long run.

    And I’m just going by what’s listed on KC’s spring roster. Montgomery might have put on some more muscle since then.

  18. John Says:

    “My problem is in 20 years somebody’s going to look at any list of great Cubs players and unknowingly believe Sosa was a great player.
    Maybe Kerry and some of the other statheads can come up with a stat that measures steriods.
    Would certainly be time better spent than trying to improve on WAR.”

    Come on Chuck.

    According to traditional stats, Sosa grades out as a spectacularly great player. 600+ homeruns, 1667 RBI, 1475 runs, 4700 career total bases.

    According to WAR, he’s at 59.7 with just 3 seasons in the top 10 in the league. According to OPS+ he’s at 128, which is good, but not HOF worthy from a corner outfielder unless you’re “feared.”

    These statistics DO show that Sammy Sosa wasn’t an all-time great. They DO adjust for the steroid era.

    Whether you like it or not, WAR proves your point.

  19. KerryWhisnant Says:

    To follow up on John’s point, I think anyone below 60 in WAR is generally considered by WARriors to be a weak Hall candidate; players in the low 60s are borderline. So it certainly has adjusted to a great extent for the increased offense due to steroids. (Although not fairly for those who didn’t use steroids…)

    Some of the players just above Sosa in WAR not in the Hall:
    34 Keith Hernandez 61.0
    35 Buddy Bell 60.8
    36 Sal Bando 60.6
    37 Willie Randolph 60.5
    38 Andruw Jones 59.9
    39 Jim Wynn 59.8
    40 Sammy Sosa 59.7

    Chuck probably doesn’t think it does enough that way, but he seems to be a black/white kind of guy :-)

  20. KerryWhisnant Says:

    I suppose I should have left Jones off the list above since he is still not eligible, but I don’t think too many people would vote for him as it stands now.

  21. Chuck Says:

    “Ah, who was the best overall prospect according to Hart, Chapman?”

    He said “highest ceiling”, he didn’t say anything about best overall prospect.

    There is a difference.

  22. Chuck Says:

    I guess you could look at it that way, John.

    But will people in 20 years look at it that way?

    Because that was the question.

  23. Cameron Says:

    Ah, thanks. Though I wonder who does rank as the best pitching prospect. Much as I love Lamb and Montgomery, for some reason I still like Aroldis. That fastball is something, even if it doesn’t have movement yet. Adding an offspeed so they can’t expect 105 MPH the whole time and their timing is just shot, he could be something.

    Hellickson really stands out as being solid all-around… But off the sheer sexiness of what they bring to the table, Chapman’s one-pitch repetoire makes me rank him behind Julio Teheran. Atlanta’s got great young pitching there (solid 3 in Hanson, Jurrjens, and Minor) and with guys like Teheran and Vizaciano on the way, they’re set for a long time.

  24. John Says:

    Depends on whether or not they use sabermetrics!

    I dunno, Sosa was very good for about five years. Lots of people will fondly remember him for that memorable homerun chase.

    But no one thinks that Roger Maris is an all-time great.

    In case you were wondering:

    Before 1998, his career line was .257/.308/.469 (106 OPS+).
    After 2002, his line was .253/.327/.486 (109 OPS+)

  25. Cameron Says:

    Small sample size post 02 though. ‘03-’04 in Chicago, ‘05 in Baltimore, and ‘07 in Texas. His time in the AL was pretty much as a bench bat too.

  26. Cameron Says:

    You know, looking at the talent in Cleveland, the AL Central will pretty much do a complete 180 in a couple of years. KC and Cleveland will competitive while everyone else is middling or bad. I’ve talked KC to death, but looking over Cleveland a bit more, I feel I may have been selling them short for a long time. Here’s the core their building to as I see it.

    Catcher – Carlos Santana
    First Base – Matt LaPorta
    Second Base – Jason Kipnis
    Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera
    Third Base – Lonnie Chisenhall
    Left Field – Michael Brantley
    Center Field – Grady Sizemore
    Right Field – Shin-Soo Choo

    Rotation (In no real order)
    SP1 – Fausto Carmona
    SP2 – Carlos Carrasco
    SP3 – Alex White
    SP4 – Drew Pomeranz
    SP5 – Jason Knapp

    Closer – Chris Perez

    With the current low-end starters and bullpen guys filling the rest of the pitching and guys like Trevor Crowe and Luis Valbuena making an athletic and defensive-minded bench, the Indians could start to be a real threat again. That lineup is solid up and down and the pitching is pretty intriguing.

  27. Hartvig Says:

    Kerry- You’re right of course about WAR being something of a counting stat but it’s relatively easy to adjust for that by taking a quick glance at the players career. And there’s not always a right answer to a question like “who was the greatest?” anyways. Who was greater, Warren Spahn or Sandy Koufax? Depending on how you interpret the question, both answers are right.

  28. Mike Felber Says:

    Sometimes you need to remind WAR guys that it is not just the total #, but peak value. Whitaker I have said is worthy, but his B-R WAR is close to 70: I would take about 10 point off of that as a rough estimate of qualification, since he never was very dominant/had a low pwak. Not that his consistency was not more than admirable, accumulation of true value means something.

    But for example, 20 years at 3.5 WAR with little variation is less impressive than 10 years at 7. The latter guy is in a significant sense “better” than Steady Eddie.

    We have discussed ad nauseum the problems with WAR: though I think it is a good effort & usually decent, I am disturbed by HOW different the various WAR measures can be. They often are approaching or over 20% distinction between the 4 systems I have heard of. Thus I think that ALL WAR reporting should have the initial before it saying which one is it from.

    And not all the differences come from problems with handling defensive value, though that can be significant. is there a reason to find ANY of them generally better than the others? I do not know. But something like a slugger with few other skills are rated very differently.

  29. Cameron Says:

    Speaking of consistent performance, who do you think of when you know you’ll get the same performance year after year? Me? Charlie Gehringer. Almost no variation, but peak performance regardless.

  30. Bob Says:

    So Cobb and Mays are the two best players of all-time, using WAR

  31. John Says:

    Nah…just the most WAR for one team.

    Babe Ruth is #1; he’s #1 all-time for position players (just ahead of Barry Bonds) but tacked on another 15 or so for his pitching performance with the Red Sox.

  32. KerryWhisnant Says:

    Actually, it’s Ruth, Bonds, Cobb, Mays — remember the table above has totals only for one team. Ruth had about 20 WAR with Boston, and Bonds had about 50 with Pittsburgh.

  33. KerryWhisnant Says:

    Oops, John beat me to it :-)

  34. Hartvig Says:


    “So Cobb and Mays are the two best players of all-time, using WAR”

    Except for Babe Ruth, who has a WAR of 172.0 as an offensive/defensive plays AND a WAR of 18.0 as a pitcher

  35. Hartvig Says:

    Damn, Kerry and John beat me to it. Slowin’ up in my old age

  36. Chuck Says:

    Chisenhall is my “pick to click” for Cleveland if I can ever again get two hours uninterrupted and finish my AL rookie article.

    He went yard again yesterday, second homer in three days and both off ML pitchers.

    I’m almost certain Cleveland will have him in AAA for two months to stop his arbitration clock, so from there I expect him to be an early June call up, ala Buster Posey last year.

    Derrick Lee is hurt and may start the season on the DL, the Orioles are looking at Josh Bell at first base.

  37. Raul Says:

    Happy Birthday:

    Jeff Kent (42)
    Joe Carter (50)
    Jeff Burroughs (60)
    JR Richard (61)

    Jeff Kent has some Hall of Fame supporters based on his offensive numbers as a 2nd baseman. But even I am surprised to know that Kent was elected to only 5 all-star teams in his career.

    Joe Carter hit one of the most famous home runs in the history of baseball, winning the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays with a shot off Mitch Williams. While a case for Joe’s HOF candidacy didn’t go anywhere, Joe is well-respected and considered one of the great guys in the game.

    Jeff Burroughs was the overall #1 pick of the Washington Senators in 1969 (a great year for Brautigan, I’m sure). Burroughs, like most #1 selections never became a superstar but he did manage a 16-season career and won the AL MVP in 1974 beating out FOUR Oakland Athletics (Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter). Jeff’s son Sean was also a 1st round pick – taken 9th by the
    by the Padres in 1998 – at one point labeled the 4th best prospect in baseball. But Sean also failed to live up to expectations. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since 2006.

    JR Richard. Not much needs to be said about him. A once promising star pitcher whose career was cut short at the age of 30 due to medical problems. While it’s known now that Richard suffered from a stroke, the lingering belief is that the Houston Astros mis-managed him and destroyed his career. Consequently, Richard’s career remains a story of caution for General Managers and Coaches who push pitchers to throw more.

  38. Raul Says:

    Proof that Major Leaguers have quite a sense of humor:

    According to his Wikipedia page, when Sean Burroughs was struggling in San Diego his teammates would call him The Bachelor — because all he could hit were singles.

  39. Hartvig Says:

    Burroughs probably didn’t deserve the 1974 MVP but he wasn’t a bad choice either. I thought that his RBI totals may have been inflated by the park he played in but whatever effect Arlington Stadium had was more than offset by the guys he had doing most of the hitting in the 1 & 2 spots ahead of him- Dave Nelson, Toby Harrah, Lenny Randle & Cesar Tovar. Tovar was very good at getting on base and Randle was better than average but Harrah and especially Nelson were awful. But where they really excelled at taking away RBI opportunities was on the bases- they managed to get thrown out over 40% of the time in 132 attempts.

    Nice to hear that JR Richard is still alive and kicking too.

  40. Raul Says:

    JR Richard’s Wikipedia page says he’s involved in a church and appears to have put his life back together after a rough stretch in the late 80s and 90s.

  41. John Says:

    What really bothers me about Richard was that he was accused by the media of being lazy and a slacker when he had a legitimate medical issue. And that the Astros did nothing about said issue. He was throwing too many pitches…he shouldve been throwing zero and gotten help.

    If only he had been white and had punted footballs at Nebraska.

  42. Bob Says:

    John, not sure I follow. Erstad never played for Houston, and he never pitched. Not sure I see your angle.

  43. John Says:

    Erstad was always hurt…which was somehow viewed as “gritty”

  44. Raul Says:

    There’s a mentality still prevalent in sports that athletes should shut up and play through pain. That they should never take themselves out of games or ask for help.

    This past summer Rob Dibble suggested Stephen Strasburg “stop crying” and “suck it up”. Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter.

    My guess is that mentality sent JR Richard out there day after day.
    Now would Richard’s career have been over anyway? Possibly. Maybe even probably. But I don’t blame him for what happened to him. Things happen. That’s life.

  45. Mike Felber Says:

    WAR career totals do not tell who is the best player of all time, even if we accept them as 100% accurate. And knowing that there are a few DIFFERENT versions of WAR-it seems that WAR is being referred to here.

    but more centrally: WAr tells who was best relative to their peers. It makes no claim or adjustment for era, such as the improving quality of play. opinions vary vastly-from Ruth struggling to be even a good player today (which i think is absurd), to still being the best ever.

    Also, again: most WAR accumulated over a career, even not considering the above factors, does not necessarily mean the “best ever”. One very big part of “greatness” is how much value you added over a career. But another is how good you were for a sustained period of time, & at your very peak

    Do we give a lot of extra credit if one guy had 5 more pretty decent years, but not near what he did for 12-15 years? how about those who could have been dominant, like Williams & DiMaggio, but war service limited their WAR achievements? They were still great, unlike if injured. Williams would have been battling it out for 4th all time in WAR if both had no lost war time.

  46. Mike Felber Says:

    I meant Williams & Mays would have been 4 & 5 all time in WAR if they had no war time service, likely in this order. Considering how they were performing just before & after they left & returned from wars.

  47. Chuck Says:

    “opinions vary vastly-from Ruth struggling to be even a good player today (which i think is absurd)”

    Which one?

  48. Chuck Says:

    This opinion of the Astros forcing Richard to pitch knowing he was ill is a load of crap.

    It’s not like the guy had a phyiscal injury which could be documented.

    If Richard was so concerned there was a problem, whether the Astros believed it or not, why not go see your own doctor on your own dime?

  49. brautigan Says:

    Bob: Erstad did play for Houston (2008 and 2009).

    John: Calling Erstad “gritty” is code for calling Bloomquist “versatile”. Bloomquist’s versatility is he can suck at many positions, and “gritty” doesn’t mean you play when you’re hurt, it means your play hurts your team.

  50. Raul Says:

    That’s not the point, Chuck.

    The point is that there’s a culture in sports where players are afraid to even seek medical advice because they don’t want to be perceived as weak or cowards.

    You know damn well players keep injuries to themselves all the time. And that it’s routine for teams to give players a quick fix just to get players out on the field.

    JR Richard may not have handled the situation in the best way possible. But considering the time, context and culture of sports with regard to injury, he damn sure didn’t handle it in a non-understandable way either.

  51. Chuck Says:

    The Yankees forced Roger Maris to play half a season with a broken hand and it ended up costing him some pretty prime years in the long run, and probably the HOF.

    The player and the team are equally responsible, if we’re going to throw the Astros under the bus for their treatment of Richard, we should, with the other hand, be throwing Richard under the same bus because he didn’t do enough either.

    There’s alot of one way streets in sports.

    This isn’t one of them.

  52. Raul Says:

    That’s fair.

    I’m not blaming the Astros. If they were truly that careless you would have seen more careers that tanked.

  53. brautigan Says:

    Back in the old days, when players were fighting for positions, no one wanted to be the next “Wally Pipp”. So, they do what they don’t do now, play hurt. Dizzy Dean is a good example of that. He gets hit by a line drive in the all star game by Earl Averill resulting in a broken toe. He tries to pitch with the broken toe, altering his arm slot and the resulting delivery ruins his arm.

    MLB history is full of examples like Dizzy Dean and Roger Maris.

  54. KerryWhisnant Says:

    BTW, I’ll make an official announcement in a week or so for the Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge, so everybody who’s interested should start thinking about their predictions for number of wins for each team — I know I am :-)

  55. John Says:

    Can’t wait. Maybe I should predict that every team goes .500…it would be an improvement over last season!

  56. Raul Says:

    I wonder how many seasons have to go by for every team to finish .500.

    It has to be statistically probable.

  57. Bob Says:

    I’m game. Raul, while I am no statistician, it might be once every 162 years. Just a guess.

  58. Chuck Says:

    Also born old buddy Ed Bouchee, and Jose Cano, who is better known for his breeding skills than his own playing career.

  59. John Says:

    “It has to be statistically probable.”

    Over an infinite number of years, sure. Anything can happen.

    But the actual expected number of years it would take for that to happen is like 1*10^97 or something.

  60. Chuck Says:

    Today marks the 117th anniversary of the invention of the pitching rubber.

    There was no mention towards the discovery of any other type rubbers.

  61. KerryWhisnant Says:

    Did you do a calculation, John?

    The odds of a single team going 81-81 is about 1 in 16, assuming all teams have equal strength. taking that to the 30th power (for 30 teams) gives a probability of about 1 in 10^36 (that’s one in a trillion trillion trillion). Now that may not be right because the teams’ games are coupled, but it’s still really small. If teams are not equal strength, it would be less likely.

    This is similar to a situation in physics, where the probability of all air molecules in a room going to one side of the room (leaving the other half in a vacuum) is extremely small (like not even once in the lifetime of the universe small), but not zero.

  62. KerryWhisnant Says:

    “Today marks the 117th anniversary of the invention of the pitching rubber.”

    Do I hear another nomination for the Hall of Fame?

  63. Mike Felber Says:

    If the ellipses follow the statement Chuck, then the comments therein refer to the preceding statement. Thus I meant that it is absurd to think that Ruth would have a hard time being even good today. And I know you agree, even thinking that Ruth would do better today than he ever did, which I think is going a little too far, given that the average player & pitcher just has got to be somewhat better today due to training, nutrition,a larger pool, etc…

    Though if Ruth had the best training available for years, there would be a chance that he could be at least as good, relative to any peers, as before. He was that much of an outlier in native skills.

  64. Mike Felber Says:

    i love that kind of stuff Kerry. Still, I cannot intuitively grasp that 30 teams breaking even would be nearly as remote a chance as you describe.

    Are their any extraordinarily rare events that could occur randomly & have large scale consequences in the universe/ The chance of that Cern particle accelerator creating a significant black hole (lasting for long enough to do any damage, are incredibly remote. Do you see any events that might effect anything in the universe that humans could potentially observe, just due to chance/

    Though I know something like an asteroid destroying all life on Earth is a very small, but not quite so infinitesimal chance, right? And a somewhat bigger, but still fairly small chance over a period of say a million years, of causing mass extinctions again world wide.

    Those odds would be more like one in a few hundred, right?

  65. John Says:


    I did not do a calculation, Kerry.

    Actually, I was doing other calculations (or really, derivations) from a book written by one of your colleagues, so I just through a number out there.

  66. KerryWhisnant Says:

    Mike: Yes, over millions of years, the odds of an asteroid hitting Earth might be large enough to start worrying about. I think crudely speaking it’s a volume issue (area, really, since most stuff in the solar system is in about the same plane). Since area goes like the square of a linear dimension, so at most you get a small number squared giving a probability.

    For the black hole creation, I think it’s an exponential suppression, which makes that probability much, much smaller.

    Back to the baseball problem, it’s a matter of combinatorics. There are 2^2430 or about 10^732 different possible outcomes (think of each of the 2430 games in a season as a coin flip). Having all teams end up with 81 wins is a very particular result out of many, many possible outcomes, and extremely unlikely.

  67. Mike Felber Says:

    Thank you Kerry, but don’t you have to factor in that very many combinations are very to extremely unlikely? As you get further from a neutral record, it gets increasingly unlikely a team will win or lose a great % of their games. Even 2/3 is very unusual, & going much above that is has never happened in modern baseball. (Mets are the “leader’ with exactly 3/4 lost in ‘62. No team has ever won that % of games. So less than 1/2 the “field” of possibilities has any significant chance of occurring, & even amongst the other outcomes, as you get further from break even, it becomes statistically less likely. It is a small % of teams that even won or lost 100 games in one year.

    I know all teams hitting 81 wins is easily highly unlikely, it just does not intuitively seem quite astronomically unlikely to me.

    Given that there were a couple of enormously massive extinctions over the last few 100 million years, I would think that given the stakes, even over like 100,000 years the odds of civilization or all human life being wiped out would be significant enough to warrant concern. I would guesstimate the odds over this time period would be 1 in not many thousands. Enough to not rush at all, but if Homo Sapiens last long at all, we have plenty of time to work on asteroid zapping.

    This seems like a far out speculation: but are there any weird events that are at least likely enough to have rarely occurred & been observed in human history, thus giving rise to superstitious or religious thinking since causation was not understood? I mean like a particular visual illusion, spontaneous combustion that has no conventional, undiscovered explanation, Weather phenomena that chaos theory would predict might occur once in a great while?

  68. KerryWhisnant Says:

    You’re right that the probability of getting too far from 81-81 is not high (about 1 in 16 for any given team, assuming they are average). But then to get all 30 teams to do that, the probabilities must be combined (multiplied). If they were independent events, it would be 1 in 16^30, or about 1 in 10^36. Of course this isn’t correct since the teams’ games are not independent (they play each other); the real situation is much more complicated.

    Like I said the baseball versus asteroid comparison is like combinatorics (very large powers of numbers) versus a simple squaring (area from length). The high powers you get from multiplying probabilities will win every time (i.e., give a lower probability).

    I got serious and actually calculated the odds of 3 teams, each playing each of the other teams 18 times, all ending up at 27-27. There are a lot of ways that that can happen, as you suggested, but there are a whopping total of 2^108 possible outcomes. Anyway, the probability of all three ending up 27-27 is about 1 in 50.

    That doesn’t sound too unlikely at all, but then if you go to 4 teams playing each of the other teams 18 times, the probability of all teams ending at 36-36 is about 1 in 620. Still not too large, but notice that as you add a team, the probability goes down by a large factor (about 12 in this case). For 5 teams the probability is 1 in 9306, another factor of 15 bigger.

    Now imagine adding another 25 teams; if adding each team multiplies the odds by 15 or so (and the factor seems to be getting bigger, but we’ll ignore that), you get a probability of about 2 in 10^33. That’s not far from my previous estimate.

    I’m doing the calculation for 6 teams, but there are so many possibilities the computer can’t do them all in a reasonable amount of time (it’s still grinding away on it as I’m writing this), but it looks like it will be something like 1 in 200,000 — a factor of 20 less likely than for 5 teams.

    Back on the asteroids: yes, we probably should figure out how to deflect them sometime in the next thousand years or so, just to be safe!

  69. Mike Felber Says:

    Yes, this is a great example of how “common sense” intuition cannot normally conceive of the power of…things multiplying on the order of by the power. Like the old saw about take a month & start with a penny, double it each day…You do not have muchin 2 weeks, but are a multi-millionaire inside of the month.

    My strange & rare event question was perhaps too vague to address profitably. A random bit of wonder indulged in a surreal muse. Thanks kerry, enlightening as always.

  70. John Says:

    “Back on the asteroids: yes, we probably should figure out how to deflect them sometime in the next thousand years or so, just to be safe!”

    Has Professor Wie made any developments in the area, or is he hoping that I’ll get there by learning from his S/C dynamics & control text?

  71. KerryWhisnant Says:

    It is estimated that 100–200 meter asteroid could devastate a region the size of Iowa, and that a 100-meter object could hit us is once every several thousand years.

    For those who don’t know, the Prof. Wie John is referring to is in the Aero Engineering department here at Iowa State University, and has started the Asteroid Deflection Research Center. They have some ideas, but still need to work out the details.

    Getting back to baseball, maybe all we need to do is get a really big bat and a bunch of guys on steroids to knock the asteroid away. Let’s just hope they don’t strike out…

  72. Chuck Says:

    What’s the size of Libya compared to Iowa?

  73. KerryWhisnant Says:

    LOL, Libya is about 12.5 times larger. You’d need a much bigger asteroid.

  74. Raul Says:

    Happy Birthday:

    Jim Bouton (71)
    Jim Rice (58)
    Dick Allen (69)

    Bouton pitched 10 seasons in the Majors but is best known for writing what is possibly the most famous/infamous book in the history fo baseball: Ball Four.

    Jim Rice was elected (after considerable debate) to the Hall of Fame in 2009. Generally referred to as “the most feared player” of the 1970s and 1980s, he won the AL MVP in 1978 over Ron Guidry’s magical 25-3 season. Rice took 20 first place votes to Guidry’s eight. A difference I will never understand. Talk about the “Bad Guy” not getting any respect; he won the MVP over a guy who was universally loved around the game – and by a wide margin.

    Dick Allen. It’s hard to someone to argue that Allen does not belong in the Hall of Fame but Jim Rice does. Adjusting for context, Allen outperforms Rice in virtually every conceivable way. But like Rice, Allen has a reputation as being a bad guy. Perhaps much worse than Rice. And the politics around HOF election certainly are connected to feelings. Allen won the 1972 AL MVP with a remarkable 199 OPS+, hitting .320/.403/.603. A nice addition to his 1964 Rookie of the Year Award. According to his Wikipedia page, Dick Allen was also a singer in the 1960s, with his group, The Ebonistics.

  75. Chuck Says:

    Also Phil Nastu.

    I faced him a couple of times in high school and college.

    He was pretty tough obviously, but I do remember having a good day against him in, I believe, an American Legion game.

  76. John Says:

    “For those who don’t know, the Prof. Wie John is referring to is in the Aero Engineering department here at Iowa State University, and has started the Asteroid Deflection Research Center. They have some ideas, but still need to work out the details.”

    No kidding? That’s pretty sweet. The Chinese proved that you could blow up a small satellite with a missile, but I think doing that with an asteroid might create enough space debris to make a pretty devestating impact on LEO satellites.

    W.R.T Jim Rice; why did he enjoy so much support such that he ultimately got in, but Dwight Evans was 3 and done, topping out at 11%?

    A quick stat-look:

    Evans: 127
    Rice : 128

    Evans: 385
    Rice: 382

    Evans: 1384
    Rice: 1451

    Total Bases
    Evans: 4230
    Rice : 4129

    Times on Base
    Evans: 3890
    Rice : 3186

    Evans: 61.8
    Rice : 41.5 (!)

    You can have the “feared” one. I’ll take the almost-as-good-on-offense-and-like-eons-better-on-defense one.

  77. Raul Says:

    I don’t think anyone has ever heard Dwight Evans even speak.
    He was consistently good for 20 years.

    I agree that his case is stronger than Rice’s.

  78. Chuck Says:

    “I don’t think anyone has ever heard Dwight Evans even speak.”

    Which probably hurt him just as much as Rice’s outspokenness hurt him.

  79. Raul Says:

    I realize Evans played more seasons than Rice.

    But people have to decide for themselves how much value you give to a player who is able to remain in the league for a long time.

    People talk about sample size, but it appears contradictory sometimes.

    A guy is awesome for 5 years but mediocre for 10 years. Yet he is viewed in a better light than someone who was very good for 20.

    I’m really not sure what the correct view is sometimes.

  80. Kerry Says:

    It is subjective. There are merits to both longevity and peak value.

  81. brautigan Says:

    I met Dewey Evans twice. Both times, he was less than a stellar human being.

    You can have him.

  82. Cameron Says:

    If Allen’s attitude in Philly is the reason for getting out of Philly, I’ve heard Richie’s side of the story. Philly in the 60s? Racist as all hell, and I can believe them on that. He wanted his own ass out of there and if he needed to force a trade by acting like a complete asshat, he’d do it.

    Sort of the same thing Manny did in Boston, except with a much better motivation.

  83. Mike Felber Says:

    Rice was overrated for peak value too, based partly on gaudy Fenway & line up dependent @s. Dewey is clearly more qualified. Evens is at least borderline for the Hall, Rice not. However decent each of them were, if it does not impact baseball directly in a more significant way than being a better good will ambassador, if they did enough in peak value & over a career, they should get in.

    That asteroid destroying iowa: what would be its impact on the rest of the planet Kerry. Would that one be enough to change the weather/sunlight enough to cause significant extinctions?

  84. Mike Felber Says:

    And a # of folks, including his Managers, said he WAS a good influence on the team & worked hard. Frank White Attacked him with a BAT (brave that) & caused him a major shoulder injury, after Allen spoke up for a team mate that White was riding hard, & seemingly in a racist way.

    Allen & the team were forbidden to discuss the issue, though Allen was vilified & blamed when the story hit the media.

  85. Cameron Says:

    You mean Frank Thomas, Mike. Frank White’s too much of a nice guy to attack anyone with something more dangerous than a boiled egg.

  86. Kerry Says:

    Mike, I’m not an expert on atmospheric physics, but apparently the great dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago might have been caused by something 5000 m in diameter, much bigger than the 100 m size we are talking about. So probably no, although there would probably some noticeable atmospheric effects (just not cataclismic).

  87. Cameron Says:

    I live in KC, right on the western border of the state and Iowa’s pretty close. It’d mess up the weather in the midwest pretty bad.

    …And if you’ve ever lived in the midwest, you know the weather here’s pretty fucked to begin with.

  88. Kerry Says:

    Allen may have been vilified, but Thomas was the one who was traded away. Of course he was old and declining, and Allen was still young.

  89. Kerry Says:

    “…And if you’ve ever lived in the midwest, you know the weather here’s pretty fucked to begin with.”

    LOL. It’s called meteorodiversity.

  90. Cameron Says:

    Really? We just call it hell.

  91. Ron Says:

    Looking at these players, I think of Mantle, Junior, and Kaline and all the games lost to injuries. About 600 each for Mantle and Griffey, and 400 for Kaline. While Mickey and Griffey had monster years with 50 homeruns and such, Kaline was always getting hurt and missing 20 to 60 games most years, (1961 was the last year he played over 150 games), which cost him maybe 4 or 5 thirty or more homerun seasons.
    Also, the tragic loss of Clemente, who’s to say he couldn’t have played at least two more if not three or four more years.
    Then the WWII players, Williams, Feller, Greenberg.
    Thankyou for the article.

  92. brautigan Says:

    I see where Kansas City sent 2B Johnny G. to their minor league camp. AND he was the guy I thought would beat out Getz.

    Are you guys still wanting ME to be the AL West prognosticator? This makes it pretty obvious I am no Nostradamus! LOL

  93. Bob Says:

    Be kind to Getz. He and I went to the same high school.

  94. brautigan Says:

    LOL @ Bob. I’m generally kind to ballplayers, that is until they say or do something to me that I personally take offense to.

    Are you listening Barry Bonds?

  95. Bob Says:

    Have you met Getz yourself?

  96. Cameron Says:

    Eh, Giavotella’s good, but I think he’s still a bit green and he’s going to be in Omaha of NW Arkansas for most of the year. Knowing KC, I can pretty much bet safe money on your opening day field.

    1B – Kila Ka’aihue
    2B – Chris Getz
    SS – Alcides Escobar
    3B – Mike Aviles
    LF – Alex Gordon
    CF – Melky Cabrera
    RF – Jeff Francouer
    DH – Billy Butler

    Getz is the first to go though. If he gets hurt, Wilson Betemit is in at third with Mikey at second.

  97. Chuck Says:

    Sorry, Cam, but Aviles is starting at second and Betemit at third..unless Moose wins the job.

    And I’d bet on Butler playing first and Kila at DH.

    Melky Cabrera sucks.

    Big time sucks.

    He sucks more than a porn star.

    Or Charlie Sheen’s agent.

  98. Hartvig Says:

    You guys can all relax about the Iowa meteor.

    It already happened.

    Seventy four million years ago a 2 kilometer meteor (that’s 10 to 20 times the size of the one we’re talking about) struck what is now Pocahontas county in Iowa leaving a crater that is 38 km’s (that’s almost 24 miles) in diameter. It was thought for a while to be the one that killed the dinosaurs. It’s known as the Manson crater, after a nearby town. Unfortunately there’s nothing to see there because it was filled in during the Ice Ages.

    IF it does happen again however, I don’t think that weather changes in Kansas City will be your biggest concern Cam.

    And now, back to your game already in progress…

  99. Bob Says:

    Are you kidding? Charlie Sheen is talking with Mark Cuban about doing some stuff. And on Saturday, Comedy Central played “Major League.” Sheen is far from done, if he stays alive.

  100. Cameron Says:

    Kila’s a better fielder than Butler, Billy’s been DH with guys like Ross Gload and Ryan Shealy as starters, Butler’s a through-and-through DH.

    And Melky sucks, yes, but Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson still have minor league options and Melky doesn’t. You know how the proceedings go by then.

    Wilson was a tough thing to go on actually, because he’ll be on the team, but I don’t know if he’ll be super-utility or a starter.

  101. Cameron Says:

    And how’d I forget to list the starting catcher? This one’s actually a tough pick. Kendall’s out for the first month or so… I’d say Brayan Pena gets the job, but the guys here like Lucas May and I like May a bit more too. Still, I say Brayan wins the starting job.

  102. John Says:

    Did you all hear that Greinke is out for 2-4 weeks because of a rib injury sustained during pick-up basketball?

  103. Chuck Says:

    Yeah, dumbass.

    Melky’s a fourth OF even for a team as bad as KC.

    If Cain keeps hitting the way he has been so far, he should be the starter.

    He has ML experience, so the arbitration clock has already started.

  104. Cameron Says:

    Melky’s been decent enough in spring and management is high on him. He’s not the best choice, but he’s the favorite of the guys in charge. Dyson’s not great and Cain still has tweaking that needs to be done. Lorenzo’s not on a major league deal yet, so if we can keep him in the minors when the season starts and then call him up, we save a couple hundred grand. It’s a bastard of a budget move… But if we’re not gonna compete now, I don’t mind letting the guys in Omaha teach Cain to K in less than a quarter of his ABs.

  105. Mike Felber Says:

    Thomas, right, the 1st one. And being traded away was a mild consequence for his actions-he should have been suspended & fined at least, maybe jailed.

  106. Cameron Says:

    He beat up a black guy in the early 60s. That wasn’t illegal back then. Least… Don’t think it was.

    Oh, fun fact. I just learned what the first number retired in professional sports was. The person who says it first gets… Uh… A picture of a cookie?

  107. Bob Says:

    I believe the number was one. Ray Flaherty

  108. Chuck Says:

    Single dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

    Seriously, the invention of the internet wasn’t good for some people.

    With Chase Utley having knee problems, somebody suggested trading Cliff Lee to the Yankees for Robinson Cano.

  109. Raul Says:

    Chase Utley is now 32 years old, has knee trouble and plays 2nd base.
    Provided he’s healthy, I think Utley’s bat can play at 3B in the future.

    But I have no idea if he can do it defensively.
    I do think his days at 2B are quickly coming to an end.

    Utley becomes a free agent for the 2014 season.
    Assuming he misses most, or all of the 2011 season, that still gives him 2 more years under contract.

    Better to sell early than late, right?
    Look for Utley to be the subject of trade rumors next July.

    Trading Robinson Cano for Cliff Lee is one of the dumbest things I’ve read lately.

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich wrote it.

  110. Raul Says:

    The Nationals are “wowed” by the progress Bryce Harper is making.

    It sort of reminds me of Major League II.


    Rube: Wow, Willie’s really got some power!
    Lou (manager): Off a guy who’ll be bagging groceries next week!

  111. Mike Felber Says:

    Of course it was illegal Cameron. Even during Jim Crow & back to about slavery times the codified law would make assault illegal. The law just was often not enforced.

    In all likelihood Allen could have polished off Thomas in a fair fight. I see thomas is still around. I wonder if he ever came to terms with what he did? I mean admit, if only to himself, what a cowardly & criminal act that was.

  112. Cameron Says:

    Here’s your cookie for the Flaherty answer, Bob. It looked so good I ate a piece though.

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