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The Ten Best Players from Each Decade Not in the Hall of Fame Take Two

July 30, 2018
                                           The Ten Best Players from Each Decade

Who Are Not in the Hall of Fame Take 2


              OK, I messed up a few things on these lists earlier in the day, so let me try it again.  While I am at it I’ll explain how these lists were defined.  

              They’re based on Win Shares.   In the initial run I figured each player’s Win Shares in each decade, and then found the harmonic mean between THAT number and the player’s career Win Share total.  The harmonic mean is like the Power/Speed Number; if the two numbers are 100 and 200, the harmonic mean is 133.33.   If the two numbers are 200 and 300 the harmonic mean is 240.   If the two numbers are 100 and 300 the harmonic mean is 150.

              This method "counts" or "includes" everything the player does in his career, but it does give an advantage to a player whose career aligns well with the limits of a particular decade, as opposed to a player whose career sprawls over two different decades.   Rocky Colavito, for example; two of his best seasons are in the 1950s, and three are in the 1960s.   This gives him a lower score than if his career was all in one decade.   Bucky Walters is another example.  Bucky had an MVP season in 1939, but otherwise was much better in the 1940s than in the 1930s.

              I changed the process in this way.   First, I figured each player’s Win Share total for every decade (1950-1959, 1951-1960, 1952-1961, 1953-1962, 1954-1963, etc.) and registered the player’s maximum total for any decade.   Then I found the harmonic mean between THAT number and the player’s career Win Shares, and multiplied that product by the player’s total in a "defined" decade (1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc.)  

              This method still gives some advantage to the player whose career fits neatly into one decade, but less advantage than the earlier method.  It gives better scores to guys like Rocky Colavito, Bucky Walters and Bobby Murcer, whose careers don’t fit neatly in a decade.  It has a second advantage, which is that it gives a better score to a player who has a strong ten-year period, as opposed to a player who hangs around longer, piling up a few points a year.  Jack Quinn, for example, won 18 games in 1910, had his best year in the Federal League in 1914, winning 26 games, won 18 games in 1920 and won 18 games again in 1928—and was still in the majors five years after that, at age 49.  He was around a long time, picking up a few Win Shares a year, but he had a lot of nothing years in there.  That kind of career moves down the list, with this adjustment, in comparison with guys like Wilbur Cooper and Carl Mays, who had a run of outstanding seasons and a higher peak. 

              Also I tried to have at least two pitchers on the list from each decade, and no more than five.  But sometimes it just isn’t reasonable to move a pitcher on the list just to get two from the decade, so I didn’t.

              So anyway, these are the revised lists:



1.        Jim McCormick, p

2.       Tony Mullane, p

3.       Bob Caruthers, p-of

4.       Jim Whitney, p

5.       Guy Hecker, p-of

6.       Paul Hines, cf

7.       Harry Stovey, of

8.       George Gore, cf

9.       Hardy Richardson, 2b

10.   Jack Glasscock, ss

(List is the same as it was except that Richardson has moved ahead of Glasscock.)



1.       Jack Stivetts, p

2.       George Van Haltren, p-of

3.       Bill Dahlen, ss

4.       Cupid Childs, 2b

5.       Kid Gleason, p-inf

6.       Herman Long, 2b

7.       Bill Hutchison, p

8.       Jimmy Ryan, of

9.       Mike Tiernan, of

10.   Ted Breitenstein, p


(List is the same ten players as it was except that Ted Breitenstein has replaced Elmer Smith.   Some players have moved up on the list and others down, including Stivetts passing Van Haltren as the #1 man.) 



1.       Jimmy Sheckard, of

2.       Roy Thomas, of

3.       Fielder Jones, of

4.       Tommy Leach, of-3b

5.       Cy Seymour, of-p

6.       Topsy Harstel, of

7.       Jack Powell, p

8.       Ginger Beaumont, of

9.       Doc White, p

10.   Harry Davis, 1b


(List is the same ten players as it was, but some positions have changed on the list.)



1.       Joe Jackson, of

2.       Sherry Magee, of

3.       Larry Doyle, 2b

4.       Clyde Milan, cf

5.       George Burns, lf

6.       Ed Konetchy, 1b

7.       Heinie Groh, 3b

8.       Larry Gardner, 3b

9.       Eddie Cicotte, p

10.   Hippo Vaughn, p


(Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte have replaced Babe Adams and Slim Sallee, although Babe Adams is one of my favorite players.   Jackson and Cicotte had been accidentally eliminated from the list because they are not eligible for the Hall of Fame, which was not my intention.  The order of the list is essentially the same; Burns and Heine Groh have edged up relative to the people around them.)



1.       Dolf Luque, p

2.       Urban Shocker, p

3.       Joe Judge, 1b

4.       Ken Williams, of

5.       Wilbur Cooper, p

6.       Eddie Rommel, p

7.       George Uhle, p

8.       Carl Mays, p

9.       Jacques Fournier, 1b

10.   Cy Williams, of


(Luque and Shocker have moved ahead of Judge.   Wilbur Cooper has jumped onto the list and all the way up to fifth and Carl Mays has also joined the list, pushing out Jack Quinn and Jimmie Dykes.  This is probably a more accurate list.) 



1.       Wally Berger, cf

2.       Wes Ferrell, p

3.       Ben Chapman, of

4.       Buddy Myer, 2b

5.       Mel Harder, p

6.       Indian Bob Johnson, of

7.       Dick Bartell, ss

8.       Babe Herman, of

9.       Lon Warneke, p

10.   Larry French, p


(Babe Herman has replaced Tommy Bridges on the list.   Indian Bob Johnson has moved ahead of Dick Bartell and Lon Warneke ahead of Larry French.  But basically the same list.)




1.       Bob Elliott, 3b-rf

2.       Dixie Walker, racist

3.       Vern Stephens, ss

4.       Stan Hack, 3b

5.       Bill Nicholson, of

6.       Charlie Keller, rf

7.       Bucky Walters, p

8.       Dizzy Trout, p

9.       Jeff Heath, of

10.   Phil Cavaretta, 1b


(Bucky Walters has moved ahead of Dizzy Trout and Phil Cavaretta.  Jeff Heath has moved onto the list, replacing Dutch Leonard.  Top six are the same as they were.)



1.       Minnie Minoso, of

2.       Gil Hodges, 1b

3.       Eddie Yost, 3b

4.       Billy Pierce, p

5.       Al Dark, ss

6.       Mickey Vernon, 1b

7.       Gil McDougald, inf

8.       Al Rosen, 3b

9.       Gene Woodling, lf

10.   Don Newcombe, p


(Al Rosen has replaced Ted Kluszewski.  Some minor position shuffling from spots 5 down; top four are the same as they were.) 




1.       Frank Howard, of

2.       Norm Cash, 1b

3.       Vada Pinson, of

4.       Dick Allen, 3b-of

5.       Maury Wills, ss

6.       Johnny Callison, rf

7.       Rocky Colavito, rf

8.       Larry Jackson, p

9.       Ken Boyer, 3b

10.   Jim Kaat, p


(Frank Howard has moved ahead of Cash and Pinson.  Rocky Colavito has replaced Willie Davis.

Comparing Larry Jackson to Jim Kaat; both men are similar pitchers.   Both were inning-eaters; Jackson went 18-13 and 24-11 in 1960/1964, Kaat went 18-14 and 25-13 in 1962/1966.

       Kaat won 283 games in his career, Jackson only 194, so we expect Kaat to be ahead of Jackson.   But the difference between them is not as large as the difference in Wins.   Kaat has only 268 Win Shares—less than his wins—and Jackson has 225 Win Shares—more than his wins.   (In WAR, Jackson actually has more than Kaat, 52.7 to 45.4). 

       In Win Shares Kaat has more, but Jackson has (a) more Win Shares in the 1960s (158 to 139) and (b) more Win Shares in his best ten-year run (182 to 160).   So Jackson ranks higher.



1.       Pete Rose, gambler

2.       Bobby Bonds, of

3.       Ken Singleton, of

4.       Bobby Murcer, of

5.       Reggie Smith, of

6.       Amos Otis, cf

7.       Ted Simmons, c

8.       Rusty Staub, of

9.       Graig Nettles

10.   Luis Tiant, p

11.   Vida Blue, p


 (Had un-intentionally eliminated Pete Rose from the list.  Ken Singleton has moved up.  Graig Nettles is way down.   Stretched the list to 11, and Vida Blue has moved ahead of Tommie John and Jerry Koosman to claim the last spot.) 



1.       Dale Murphy, of

2.       Dwight Evans, rf

3.       Keith Hernandez, 1b

4.       Lou Whitaker, 2b

5.       Jack Clark, of

6.       Pedro Guerrero, of

7.       Darrell Evans, 3b

8.       Willie Randolph, 2b

9.       Don Mattingly, 1b

10.   Dave Stieb, p


(A substantially different list.  The problem was that I was/am using an old, old file to calculate the lists.  The file had marked guys like Murphy and Mattingly as not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, and had thus unintentionally excluded them from the list.) 




1.       Barry Bonds, of

2.       Roger Clemens, p

3.       Rafael Palmeiro, 1b

4.       Gary Sheffield, rf

5.       Mark McGwire, 1b

6.       Fred McGriff, 1b

7.       Will Clark, 1b

8.       Larry Walker, rf

9.       Albert Belle, slightly deranged

10.   Edgar Martinez, dh




COMMENTS (50 Comments, most recent shown first)

In response to KLamb 819:

Tommy Helms was one of the worst regulars in the history of major league baseball. No strategy that got him into the lineup was a good one. Now as for the 1975 move of Rose to third--Tony Perez was a perfectly decent third baseman. They would have been better off teaching George Foster to play first--even though he was a decent left fielder--and leaving Perez on third. Of course, the team was so awesome that no one noticed.

Rose was still a decent hitter for one season with the Phillies, 1979, when he generated +27 offensive runs above average. That was the last time he was any good at all for a full season, although he did have decent numbers during strike-torn 1981. He was bad in 1980 and terrible beyond belief, for a first basemen, in 1982-3. The Expos figured this out but the Reds, of course, picked him up for gate value.

As for MarisFan61--a versatile player, it seems to me, is someone like Ben Zobrist or Jackie Robinson who really can play various positions well, not pretend to. When you "solve" one problem by creating another, you have stayed in place at best.

David K
3:51 PM Aug 6th
By the way, I would like to echo MarisFan61's comment about the method of choosing players by decade. The way Bill did it seems quite arbitrary, and is only useful in spurring discussion about relative HOF merit of players who you have slotted this way -- which of course has nothing to do with how players make the HOF in the first place.

He's of course welcome to do whatever he wants (obviously) but it just strikes me as weirdly out of place to use objective criteria for so much of the analysis, and then to arbitrarily add a pitcher here, or move someone up or down there based on, what? Hunches?
6:33 PM Aug 5th
@ Rich Dunstan

Are you taking into account park effects when calculating Racist Shares?​
6:17 PM Aug 5th
Adding examples to Maris's great point . . .
. . . Starting George Foster in LF instead of John Vukovich at 3B, of course, but also . . .
. . . All-Star Tommy Helms at 2B instead of .194-hitting Art Shamsky in LF, and . . .
. . . Alex Johnson in LF instead of Mack Jones in RF

My memory confirms what David said about Rose's best position being corner outfield. He had the arm to play right without the range to play second. And Bristol's putting him in center for the first one-third of the '69 season was even crazier when you remember the new guy replacing Rose in right was Bobby Tolan.

When he went to the Phillies in 1979, they had Schmidt at third, five decent outfielders and no first baseman after trading Hebner to the Mets. Rose was 38, still a good hitter and really not mobile enough to play anywhere else. Even 10 years earlier, when I was just getting old enough to notice this kind of thing, he might have been the slowest great base runner I've ever seen.

12:08 AM Aug 5th
Kaiser: I don't think the analysis you're talking about takes into account how the moving-around of Rose affected the rest of the team's alignment and therefore what the rest of the team was able to do, nor the more subtle and elusive thing of how his versatility facilitated the team's roster composition and allowed management not to worry as much about certain aspects of it as they might have had to, and how this might have enabled good decisions on other matters.

These kinds of things are far more complicated than can be assessed by simple calculation, or even complex and sophisticated calculation.

BTW, I'm not much of a Rose fan. I'm not coming from wanting to prop him up, but only to note the hidden and probably-impossible-to-calculate value of such versatility.​
9:06 PM Aug 4th
Rich Dunstan
Wasn't Ben Chapman more of a racist, or at least more viciously racist, than Dixie Walker?

12:31 PM Aug 4th
About Rose--seriously, he would have been much more valuable if he could have been kept at the corner outfield positions. He was good there. He was a terrible second baseman, a terrible third baseman, and a terrible first baseman. And in 1969 Dave Bristol may have cost the Reds the pennant by playing Pete in center field for more than 50 games, I believe, where he really stank. But he should never have played first base for another reason: the moment of his switch to first base coincided with the end of his career as a player of significant positive value. At that time he had a little over 3000 hits.
9:33 AM Aug 4th
I'm surprised that no one else has thanked Bill for finally settling the question of which position to assign Pete Rose.
4:14 PM Aug 3rd
I am surprised by Grich and Wynn not being there, but not insulted. Growing up in the 70's in Baltimore I just thought Grich was what all second baseman should be, but that was just the child in me. I also was a Willie Randolph fan for some reason, but I cant remember why.

I also got to see Ken Singleton play, and met him several times as I would get into games for free whenever my brother (a cop) got stadium duty overtime. I would stay out near the bullpen, but before games Singleton was always over there working on something and being nice to all the fans. He really is as nice as you would expect him to be.

Weaver never mentioned it directly in his books, but he always had a team of nicer people with very few angry men or knuckleheads. I don't know where he got that from, but Weaver always had a clubhouse mostly filled with quality, happy people.
12:30 PM Aug 3rd
@ Manushfan

I mentioned Dykstra.
3:12 PM Aug 2nd
I don't think many of us are "insulted." :-)
Just taking note, and somewhat surprised
11:40 AM Aug 2nd
I love it-Bill for once Doesn't extoll Mssrs Grich and Toy Cannon, you guys are acting insulted. You know there ARE other players out there to write about, yes?
5:03 AM Aug 2nd
Maris Fan, Topps wasn’t the only one. Sometimes, Happy Days called Rocky Baruffi, “Rocco Malachi”.
10:10 PM Aug 1st
......How about we take the same kind of look at Wynn that I did with Grich -- i.e. how he would seem to do according to the method that Bill used for the rankings in the New Historical Abstract.
BTW, the reason I keep doing this exercise (here and elsewhere) is:
-- it's very user-friendly
-- it's fun, and
-- I think it's as close to perfect as could be.

The consideration on Wynn is more complicated than on Grich, because Wynn's career is so equally divided between decades. It's slightly more '60's than '70's but really quite close. So, I'll compare his overall career to guys listed in both decades.

Here are the last few position players who do make the list in each decade:

6. John Callison (sorry, I never thought of him as "Johnny")
7. Rocky Colavito (BTW some of his Topps cards called him Rocco)
9. Ken Boyer (was always Ken)

7. Ted Simmons
8. Rusty Staub
9. Graig Nettles

Here are Wynn's Win Share numbers as shown in the New Historical Abstract, which, again, isn't his full list but just these things:

Career total: 305
Top 3 yrs: 36,32,32
Best 5-yr run: 151
Per 162 games: 25.73

The other guys;

Callison: 241; 32,29,28; 136; 20.70
Colavito: 273; 33,32,29; 133; 24.02
Boyer: 280; 31,28,27; 131; 22.30

'70's: (as done below, for Grich)
Simmons: 315; 30,28,28; 127; 20.78
Staub: 358: 32,30,28; 145; 19.65
Nettles: 322; 28,27,26; 121; 19.32

Conclusion: Granting, as before, that these data are from Bill's original Win Shares method and that the comparisons could look different by the newer version, I think it's safe to say that going by the way that Bill 'crunched' the numbers in the New Historical Abstract, Wynn would rank ahead of at least half these guys if not all -- for sure ahead of Callison, Colavito, and Boyer, i.e. all of the last-3-listed position players in the '60's, and very likely also ahead of the '70's guys -- Simmons, Staub and Nettles. Wynn's career total is a bit lower than Simmons and Nettles and considerably below Staub's, but I think those other Win Share things would probably outweigh that.
The comparison to Staub would be the toughest choice.

P.S. I'm trying hard to avoid the usual need for me to correct mistakes. :-)
8:08 PM Aug 1st
OK. It appears that Bill's decade-conscious method really screwed Jim Wynn.

Baseball gauge shows Wynn with 306.6 win shares. If we place him in the 1960s, that is more career win shares than Frank Howard (295), Rocky Colavito (270.5), Jim Kaat (268.8), Maury Wills (250.4), Johnny Callison (237.9), Larry Jackson (225.1), and Ken Boyer (283.5). He would therefore rank fourth on that list.

If alternatively we rank Wynn against the 1970s players, his 306.6 win shares are more than Ken Singleton (297.6), Bobby Murcer (271.9), Amos Otis (288.9), Luis Tiant (252.7), and Vida Blue (204.6) He would rank 7th on that list.

Bill should be congratulated for doing the impossible: he found yet another metric that obscures how great Jim Wynn was.

I know it wasn't on purpose.

David Kaiser

7:03 PM Aug 1st
No Pete Browning? It's the eyebrows. Has to be.
1:22 PM Aug 1st
Even revised and still no Pete Browning. Poor old Pete.
1:01 PM Aug 1st
The 1890s by Bill with bb-ref career WAR in parentheses:

1. Jack Stivetts, p (41)
2. George Van Haltren, p-of (40/1)
3. Bill Dahlen, ss (75)
4. Cupid Childs, 2b (44)
5. Kid Gleason, p-inf (32/8)
6. Herman Long, 2b (37)
7. Bill Hutchison, p (41)
8. Jimmy Ryan, of (43)
9. Mike Tiernan, of (42)
10. Ted Breitenstein, p (52)

VanHaltren and Gleason's numbers broken down by pitching and position player value.

Hutchison had 28 wins of his 41 in three years.

Looking at best bb-ref WAR careers from 1885-1905, Lave Cross was worth 44 and not on Bill's list. Jack Glasscock at 44, but on the 1880s list. Mike Griffin at 41. Ed McKean at 39. Kip Selbach at 37.

Among pitchers: Silver King at 51, Gus Weyhing 46, Noodles Hahn 46, Frank Dwyer 42, Sadie McMahon 42, Charlie Buffinton 41, Nig Cuppy 40, Jesse Tannehill 39, Pink Hawley 39.

Bill Dahlen sticks out like a sore thumb. bb-ref WAR and JAWS has him as better than Jeter, Larkin, Cronin, Reese, Boudreau, and right on par with Appling and Ozzie and Ernie Banks. Bill has him somewhere in the Hanley Ramirez, Mark Belanger, Rafael Furcal range.
7:23 AM Aug 1st
Following up on JohnPontoon.... :-) (I'm figuring you didn't mean it totally literally)....

Is there anyone here who, if we're talking actual "Hall of Fame-ness," wouldn't move Rosen from #8 up to at least #3 on that '50's list?

I'm serious, even though I realize that any time we say "is there anyone," of course there is.
12:40 AM Aug 1st
By my hasty calculations, Bill, you have ordered every list exactly perfectly. Congratulations, sir, on this astonishing achievement! I am mystified that others see things differently.
12:24 AM Aug 1st
......and also, part of my comment mistakenly was as though Bill ranked Nettles above Staub; in fact he does have Staub above.
11:07 PM Jul 31st
(The obligatory correction and apology:
I accidentally left off #11 from the 1970's list, Vida Blue.
Didn't matter because I was comparing Grich just to the position players, but I didn't mean to truncate the list.)
10:12 PM Jul 31st
Taking a look at Grich:

The decade where he might have made it is the '70's.

Here are the last few who do make that list:

6. Amos Otis
7. Ted Simmons
8. Rusty Staub
9. Graig Nettles
10. Luis Tiant

Here are Grich's Win Share numbers as shown in the New Historical Abstract, which isn't his full list but just these things:

Career total: 329
Top 3 yrs: 32,31,29
Best 5-yr run: 143
Per 162 games: 26.54

For starters, let's see how it compares with the bottom position player on the list:

9. Graig Nettles
322; 28,27,26; 121; 19.32

Hmm. :-)
From these numbers, we'd guess that Grich would be ahead, but, as I said, these numbers don't represent all the data that Bill is using, plus, these are OLD data, from the original Win Shares model. It's possible that Grich does less well in the new model.

Let's look at the next higher position player:

8. Rusty Staub
358: 32,30,28; 145; 19.65

It's not evident, is it, from these older partial Win Share that these guys would rank as they do?
I gotta think that Grich was very close to making the list, and indeed that he does less well in the newer model.
Similarly, that the differences in the newer model are more favorable to Nettles than to Staub.

One more:

7. Ted Simmons
315; 30,28,28; 127; 20.78


By Bill's 'decade-ic' formula, these guys rank:

Going by those figures as shown in the New Historical Abstract and giving somewhat more weight to the peak-type aspects than to career total, as Bill did in that book, and taking some account of "time-line" (and not using any 'decade-ic' weighting like he did here), the order would seem to be:

9:52 PM Jul 31st
(a.) Still surprised no Bobby Grich.
(b.) These lists confirm what I believed all along ... I don't think there are any truly outrageous or indefensible "snubs," other than the debates over the PED users and suspects. This is why I'd be fine if they bagged the variations of the vet committee for a decade or so. Yeah, there are borderline guys, but there will always be borderline guys. I don't think there's anyone left anymore - other than the PED debate - whom you could point at and say "It's an outrage that he's not in"

8:37 PM Jul 31st
P. Guerrero was a terrific hitter but, for what it's worth (I do put a lot on it), Win Shares doesn't seem to give much support to the notion that he was the best hitter in the game except for relatively brief moments.

BTW the reason I only say "doesn't seem to" rather than "doesn't" is that the data I'm looking at aren't Bill's but from The Baseball Gauge. I'd hugely rather take Bill's, but the only way I know of to use his figures for those years would be by an intensive 'brute force' from the Win Shares book, whereas The Gauge is very user friendly for things like this. As most of you probably know, the respective data are mostly quite close but not close enough for comfort, and I don't put nearly as much faith in The Gauge's data, although more than I would on "WAR."

The Gauge's offensive Win Shares show him among the top 10 in the game in only 2 years:
1983: 1st but by a decimal hair; several guys bunched at the top
1985: 4th
8:27 PM Jul 31st
I find Edgar Martinez to be good deal more compelling Hall of Fame candidate than Fred McGriff. Martinez was a much better batter (look at his yearly wRC+ compared to McGriff's for instance) and the defensive difference between a below average 1B and a 3B/DH isn't that great.

Maybe McGriff's best years were clustered together, which might explain his higher ranking here.
8:20 PM Jul 31st
arnewcs: one of three MVPs, in a really stupid vote. He was the de facto MVP. One of Bill's early hobbyhorses was that Pedro was the best hitter in baseball but almost nobody was aware of it because of park effects. I grew up on the East Coast rooting for an AL team (which lost the '81 series, as it happens), so I had no idea what Bill was talking about. But he was probably right. :)
7:55 PM Jul 31st
Bill: Just curious -- why do you give any emphasis/bonus at all to "career fitting neatly into one decade"?
If we're looking for who were the best players, why not do it just with the rest of what you said but without the additional factor of "total in a 'defined' decade," and then just slot the players into whatever decade that best matches their careers?
3:53 PM Jul 31st
This method favors good health and consistency over consecutive years. Oliva and every catcher got injured too often and catchers don't play every day. Some of my favorite players show up very well in the method (Howard was my idol growing up in Washington; Whitaker, Nettles, Evans, Reggie Smith, Gil McDougald). Others do not do well (Rivera would not show up well even when eligible, Freehan). It is great fun! It also help with Keltner list thinking - are there better players not in the Hall than your candidate in the same era? It seems that you should be in the top 3 for a decade to be a serious candidate, at least those not relievers or catchers.
3:27 PM Jul 31st
Thanks. This was fun.

Due to expansion of teams producing players and other reasons, could we have the 1960s expanded to 12 names, the 1970s expanded to 14 names, the 1980s expanded to 15 names, and the 1990s taken up to 16 names? (i.e. number of teams divided by two plus two).
3:21 PM Jul 31st
Like a few others, I thought Grich would be on here for sure.

My Best-Carey
2:34 PM Jul 31st
I'd add Dykstra somewhere on the 90's list but not sure who I'd remove.

Maybe Sheffield or Clark. Lenny's a garbage human being but could really play and was a fantastic leadoff hitter
1:43 PM Jul 31st
Great read. When I started to read this "correction" list I really though that this new method would help Tony Oliva who's almost perfectly half/half between the 60's and the 70's. Three Batting Titles and didn't make the list? What is he missing?
12:29 PM Jul 31st
Pedro Guerrero is an interesting name on the '80s list. Ahead of Evans and Mattingly. Looking him up, I see he was the '81 World Series MVP.
11:46 AM Jul 31st
I say something's laughable, then I get it wrong on my first 3 tries at saying how many teams' worth it is when we're talking about 32 players....

Hey, y'know how hard it is to divide 32 by 9???? :-)

It's 3½ teams' worth.

OK, laugh -- you're entitled. :-)
11:00 AM Jul 31st
damit.....I meant 4½
10:54 AM Jul 31st
.....sorry, pretty bad typo:
"9½ teams' worth of players till you get to the next catcher" isn't right -- catchers don't get that screwed.
It's 5½.
10:53 AM Jul 31st
At risk of making such a broad statement that it can only be wrong :-) all evaluation except perhaps, ironically, unsophisticated and non-numerical evaluation, underrates the best catchers.

My basis for that: Look at any (OK, almost any; gotta cover myself a little bit) .....almost any sabermetric ranking of the greatest players.
Catchers get screwed.
They are disproportionately absent from the top ranks.
I can imagine some justifications for it, but to me they're weak (the ones I can imagine) alongside the emperor's-new-clothes observation that it's absurd for the greatest players at the most important defensive position (i.e. position-player position) to be so absent from the top ranks.

Bill, in the last Historical Abstract, did better than most: he at least put a catcher in the top 10 (Josh Gibson, 9th). But after that, you have 9½ teams' worth of players till you get to the next catcher, Berra, at #41. (Bench is #44.)

Let's look at "WAR" stuff (per
Career WAR (which doesn't have J. Gibson as eligible since it doesn't cover Negro League players) shows 5 teams' worth of players till you get to a catcher at all, Bench in a tie at #47 with Sam Crawford which, if you separate yourself from metrics for a second and just think about it, is, I think, laughable -- no catcher in history as valuable as Sam Crawford. Just as funny, you don't get to a second catcher until #68, Gary Carter, and Berra is tied for 124th.
I'd guess that the WAR "JAWS" ranking, which gives some weight to a player's top years, would be a little less embarrassing; I couldn't find such a list.
10:38 AM Jul 31st
Piggybacking on the comment about the lack of catchers on the lists, I was surprised Bill Freehan didn't make the 1960s list.
8:03 AM Jul 31st
I only see one catcher, Ted Simmons, on any of the lists. Does this mean the Hall of Fame has gotten it right with that position - minus Simmons.

It seems like big divide between the greats/not-great at catcher.
4:16 AM Jul 31st
I love your stuff, but what have you against Johnny Kling?
2:10 AM Jul 31st
I forgot how good Frank Howard was. His OPS+ is better than David Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero, Chipper Jones amongst some better known currently retired players.

My Best-Carey
1:51 AM Jul 31st

I don't remember anything about Howard's fielding and I'm not doubting what you're saying about it not being good, but just wanted to mention, his assists totals aren't bad, and one year he remarkably had 19 outfield assists. Also, I recall Bill's piece about him, in one of the Historical Abstracts, which mentioned that he had "an arm." (It was a lead-in to a story about how Vic Power, his manager on a winter league team, put him on the mound which was admittedly in part because he couldn't really play outfield.) I don't doubt either that his arm was worse after his elbow got hurt....
9:57 PM Jul 30th
Just a note about Frank Howard, who I saw a whole lot of when he played in Washington: He was certainly an outstanding slugger, but he was the worst outfielder I've ever seen. I read about Luzinski and a couple others, and I'm sure they were bad too, but I didn't see them enough to really get a feel for their ability or lack of it. Howard gave a good enough effort, but he was very slow, and after hurting his elbow he couldn't throw much either.

I seem to remember that in the Win Shares book, when Bill rated all outfielders who played some minimum number of games, he gave Howard a D-minus, or maybe even a D-plus, and I was kind of shocked by that. I was expecting him to be at or near the absolute bottom.

9:27 PM Jul 30th
I'd just like to say that in some of the articles you write, Bill, you sometimes do some back-of-the-envelope explaining about people's careers or like what happened to the 1926 A's or something, and those blunt, opinionated (but not ungenerous) little asides are always my favorite part of the thing.​
7:55 PM Jul 30th
The most obvious omission is Pete Browning, who should be Number One from the 19th C. Many-most- historians would also include the NA of 1871-75, in which case Ross Barnes and Bobby Matthews should be there.
Maybe Bill Dineen as a pitcher-umpire. If managers were included, Jim Mutrie.
7:34 PM Jul 30th
Being similar in STYLE is not a condemnation; after all, Mike Schmidt is similar in style to Dean Palmer. What matters is not image but production. Howard's OPS was a whopping 71 points higher than Kingman's--and I would guess that would be 100 points if you park- and era-adjusted it, since Howard played through the 1960s and was in pitcher's parks most of his career. Howard hit .273, .352 on base percentage, .499 slugging; Kingman was .236/.302/.478.

6:48 PM Jul 30th
Feels to me like an instantaneous answer to my Colavito prayer on the other thread. :-)

Interesting that all the while you were in fact doing a revision of the decade-ation!
6:38 PM Jul 30th
Glad to Nettles and Randoph make the list. I thought they fell off the Hall of Fame ballot too quickly.​
6:33 PM Jul 30th
Oh okay I see, these look good too. Explain Frank Howard to those of us in the back who didn't get to see him play, for whatever reasons he reminds me of a Dave Kingman with a better grasp of the strike zone? What was the difference?
6:29 PM Jul 30th
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