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The Top 100 Right Fielders

February 9, 2020
 

The 100 Greatest Right Fielders of All Time

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

1

Babe

Ruth

9

3

3

0

1

1405

2

Hank

Aaron

1

7

6

3

0

1271

3

Mel

Ott

0

5

4

5

2

1020

4

Frank

Robinson

2

1

3

5

5

952

5

Sam

Crawford

0

2

4

2

6

776

6

Gary

Sheffield

0

2

6

1

2

759

7

Paul

Waner

0

2

4

5

1

739

8

Reggie

Jackson

1

0

4

3

5

737

9

Al

Kaline

0

0

4

3

3

701

10

Tony

Gwynn

0

2

3

0

3

627

 

 

              Comments on the Top 10:

1)      I decided to add Level-6 seasons to the summary; should have done that earlier.  I was printing too many zeroes.  My belief is that if you’re publishing data that is mostly zeroes, you’re doing something wrong. 

 

2)     To refresh your memory, since it has been a while since I published the rest of this series, a Level-10 season is a one-in-500 players season.  A Level-9 season is 5 in 500, or 1-in-100; actually it is the next 4, after the top 1.   A Level-8 season is 14 in 500, or top 2.8%; actually it is the next 9, after the top 5.  A Level-7 season is 30 in 500, or top 6%; actually it is the next 16, after the top 14. 

 

In "scoring" the player’s career, a Level-10 season counts 100 points, a Level-9 season counts 81 points, a Level-8 season counts 64 points, a Level-7 season counts 49 points, etc.   It’s a new system, and it needs a little work, but I like it, and I think I’ll use it if I can ever get time to do another edition of the Historical Abstract.

 

3)     I messed with the system to credit Aaron with one Level-10 season, 1963.  The rules are that only one season in 500 qualifies as a Level-10 season.   I had 6,418 seasons by right fielders, so that would be 13 Level-10 seasons.  Aaron’s highest-scoring season, 1963, ranked 14th, but it seemed wrong to me that Aaron didn’t have a Level-10 season, so I decided to include it on the list.   It doesn’t change the rankings.  Aaron would be the #2 right fielder even without the little boost.  

 

4)     At the other positions, most of the Level-10 seasons are MVP seasons.  In right field, only a couple are.  Ruth’s string of Level-10 seasons ends before the BBWAA MVP Awards begin, although Ruth won a League MVP Award, but eight of his nine are not.  Aaron did not win the MVP Award in either of his best seasons, 1959 and 1963, and Reggie did not win the MVP in his Level-10 season, 1969.   Frank Robinson did win it in one of his Level-10 seasons (1966) but not the other one (1962).

 

5)     This group of players contain the most impressive teammate combinations in history, I think—Ruth and Gehrig, Aaron and Mathews, and Cobb and Crawford.  Not sure there are any other players who accomplished as much as teammates as these three pairs, maybe Mantle and Berra.   As baseball has expanded, the probability of the best two players in any season being teammates has gone down, of course, or the likelihood of 2 of the 3 or 2 of the 4 best players.  And with free agency, we don’t have as many long-term teammates.

 

6)     The surprise here is Gary Sheffield.  Most people probably wouldn’t rate him this high, based on two issues:  steroids, and defense.   This system doesn’t care if you used a monkey gland. . ..old reference.  There is a poem somewhere, which I know I have borrowed and published it, which ends with the line "methinks Cobb used a Monkey Gland."  It was a steroid craze of that era, using transplanted glands from monkeys to increase your testosterone and thus give you sort of what steroids give you.  It probably actually worked at a very low level, and there is no evidence that Cobb used a Monkey Gland. 

 

Anyway, defense.  Several modern analytical systems believe that Sheffield was such a bad defensive player that it reduced his overall value.   Could be, I guess.

 

7) You may be surprised at Sam Crawford being #5, but note that the distance between #4 and #5 is greater than the distance between #5 and #10. 

 

8) Regarding Al Kaline, ranked as the #9 right fielder of all time. .. this is just a little bit of preparatory work for comments I wanted to make later.  In my Game Log file I have the data for 24 of the top 100 Right Fielders.  Actually, that count is not quite correct; that includes Floyd Robinson, who was a right fielder and whose data is included, but actually Floyd Robinson was not one of the top 100 right fielders, he ranks 145th among right fielders, and also it includes Dale Mitchell and Charlie Keller, whose data is included and who were top-100 players, but who weren’t right fielders, they were left fielders; for some reason I marked them as right fielders when I was creating that file.  I could go back and take them out of the data very easily, but I can’t see what difference that would make so I’ll just live with it.

            OK, so we’ve got 21 Top-100 right fielders and three interlopers.  Altogether they played 46,505 major league games, but for the present study I don’t want to include pinch hitting appearances and defensive substitute appearances, etc., so let’s just include starts.  Altogether those 24 players had 41,567 games started in the major leagues, or about 1700 apiece. 

            I coded each game’s accomplishments with a 3-digit code.  The first digit of the code is the number of SINGLES that the player had in the game—singles only, extra base hits are separate.  The second digit of the code is the number of walks that the player drew in the game, and the third digit is the number of extra base hits. 

            There are 66 different codes which occur in the data; however, 8 of those codes occur only once, and 5 occur only twice.   The code 600, for example, means six singles, no walks, no extra base hits.  Floyd Robinson had a game (July 22, 1962) in which he got six singles in a nine-inning game.  No one else in the study did that.  A couple of other unique codes are 312 (three singles, a walk and two extra base hits—Roberto Clemente) and 104 (a single and four extra base hits—Felipe Alou.) 

            Of the 66 codes, however, there are only 17 which each account for at least 1% of the games in the data.  Those 17 codes account for 94.4% of the games started.  Al Kaline has games represented in 46 of the 66 distinct codes, and the 17 most common codes overall are also the 17 most common in Al Kaline’s games.  By frequency of occurrence, those 17 codes are:

            000—(no hits or walks in the game); 18% of games.   We will call these "empty games".   Al Kaline has 8% fewer empty games than the overall percentage rate although, because his career was so long, he is tied for third on the list of empty games, with 436. 

            100—(a single, no walks or extra base hits); 17% of games.  This code is almost exactly as common in Al Kaline’s games as in all games—17.2% for Kaline vs. 17.3% overall—but, since Kaline has 8% fewer empty games, the 100 games marked 100 are the most common code for Kaline. 

            010—(a walk, no hits); 9% of games.

            001—(an extra base hit, no walks or singles); 8% of games.

            110—(a single and a walk); 7%.

            200—(two singles); 7%.

            101—(a single and an extra base hit); 6%.

            011—(a walk and an extra base hit); 4%.   Al Kaline has 13% more of these games than the overall average.   The average player has this code in 4% of his games; Kaline, in 4.5%.

            020—(two walks); 3%.  Al Kaline has 21% more of these games than the average player.

            210—(two singles and a walk); 3%.

            111—(a single, a walk and an extra base hit); 3%.  Actually, the last three codes each account for 2.6% of the games, although still listed in declining frequency.

            201—(two singles and an extra base hit); 2%.

            120—(a single and two walks); 2%.  Al Kaline has 37% more of these games vs. the overall average, 2.3% vs. 1.7%. 

            002—(two extra base hits); 2%.  Al Kaline had 28% fewer of these games than the average player. 

            300—(three singles); 2%.

            021—(two walks and an extra base hit); 1%.  Al Kaline had 39% more of these games than the average player. 

            102—(a single and two extra base hits); 1%.  Kaline here was just under 1%.

 

9) Continuing with this theme; this is now a Reggie Jackson comment, although (1) it is technically out of sequence, and (2) I was determined not to make any more Reggie Jackson comments after that long article I posted about Reggie and the game logs.  

            Anyway, given the 66 different codes, each player "owns" one code or another one.  That’s not exactly true; but different players dominate in different codes, if that makes sense. 

            Reggie, for the same reasons that he stood out in the previous study, also stands out in this one.  He was a relatively unique player with a long career.  Reggie "owns" 11 codes, meaning that these 11 codes appear more often in Reggie’s career than in anyone else’s.  within my study. Reggie and Ichiro are the dominant names; Ichiro also owns 11 codes.  The two are, in a sense, polar opposites:  both left-handed hitting right fielders, both had long careers, both Hall of Famers, but their games are, in a sense, polar opposites.  You’ll get what I am saying when I give you the data. 

            Anyway, Reggie owns 11 codes.  The code 000, for example, is an empty game—no hits or walks.  Reggie had 507 of those in his career, the most of any player in my data.  I mentioned in the previous article that Reggie had a lot of games when he didn’t do anything, but then he had a lot of high-impact games, too.  I didn’t know this when I wrote that, but now I do; Dave Parker, a somewhat similar player, had 457 Empty Games, second-most on the list:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Reggie

Jackson

000

507

Dave

Parker

000

457

Al

Kaline

000

436

Rusty

Staub

000

436

Roberto

Clemente

000

403

Ichiro

Suzuki

000

382

Jose

Cruz

000

382

 

            Despite getting no hits or walks in those games, Reggie scored 18 runs in those 507 games, and drove in 40 runs:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

Reggie

Jackson

000

507

18

40

Dave

Parker

000

457

14

43

Al

Kaline

000

436

26

32

Rusty

Staub

000

436

13

44

Roberto

Clemente

000

403

25

29

Ichiro

Suzuki

000

382

24

16

Jose

Cruz

000

382

23

35

 

            It is interesting to note that, even when they had no hits in the game and no walks, the difference between Reggie and Ichiro can still be seen in their data.   Ichiro still scores more runs; Reggie still drives in more, although this may be only because of batting order position, I don’t know. 

            Anyway, despite driving in and scoring a few runs, every player is nonetheless a drag on the offense in those games in which he does not reach base.   We charge Reggie with a negative 226 Runs Created in those 507 empty games.  When a player makes an out, that causes some of the positive run creation elements of other players in the game to be negated.  Player A hits a double; that creates a certain number of expected runs.   Players B, C, and D all make outs, so no run scores.  Players B, C and D have created negative runs, in that they negated the contribution of Player A.

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

Reggie

Jackson

000

507

18

40

-226

-.446

Dave

Parker

000

457

14

43

-206

-.451

Al

Kaline

000

436

26

32

-191

-.438

Rusty

Staub

000

436

13

44

-197

-.451

Roberto

Clemente

000

403

25

29

-189

-.469

Ichiro

Suzuki

000

382

24

16

-168

-.438

Jose

Cruz

000

382

23

35

-163

-.425

 

            The number of negative runs created in an empty game is always ABOUT .445, but varies to a minor degree based on the number of at bats, double play balls, sacrifice flies and other data. 

The code 001 indicates that a player had an extra base hit in a game, no walk or single, and 002 indicates that a player had two extra base hits in a game, no walks or singles.  Reggie also owns those codes:

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

Reggie

Jackson

001

261

203

292

211

.808

Dave

Parker

001

222

147

204

151

.680

Al

Kaline

001

195

145

191

138

.710

Roberto

Clemente

001

184

119

178

123

.669

Rusty

Staub

001

182

119

180

128

.701

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

Reggie

Jackson

002

62

91

141

132

2.13

Dave

Parker

002

50

63

104

100

1.99

Darryl

Strawberry

002

38

67

88

86

2.25

Rusty

Staub

002

36

36

70

69

1.91

Roberto

Clemente

002

35

40

58

69

1.96

 

            Reggie had 261 games in his career in which his only offensive contribution was one extra base hit, and 62 games in which his only contributions were two extra base hits.  As to why the effect of two extra base hits in a game is not just twice the effect of one extra base hit in a game, two reasons.   First, when you have more hits, you have fewer outs, so not only is an extra base hit being added when 002 is compared to 001, but an out is normally being removed.  Second, offense is non-linear.  Let’s say a team has 40 plate appearances in a game.  If you have 5 hits, one walk and one of the hits is a double, you’ll probably score one run in the game—but if you have 10 hits, two walks and two of the hits are doubles, you can expect to score 3 or 4 runs.  It’s non-linear.  That’s why Linear Weights don’t work very well.

            Noted from above. . .Reggie had 292 career RBI in games in which his only offensive contribute was one extra base hit, and 201 career RBI in games coded 101 (a single and an RBI).   Those are by far his largest RBI contributors. 

            The code 112 (meaning a single, a walk and two extra base hits) occurs 16 times in Reggie’s career, whereas it occurs no more than 10 times in the careers of any other player in the data:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

112

151

277

349

504

3.34

Reggie

Jackson

112

16

31

50

58

3.65

Rusty

Staub

112

10

18

22

33

3.33

Bill

Nicholson

112

10

20

29

32

3.23

 

            These are relatively rare games.  Reggie had 16 games like this in his career, but drove in 50 runs in those games—bringing us back to the point that Reggie has many empty games, but also a certain number of very high-impact games. 

            The code 022 (two walks and two extra base hits) occurs eight times in Reggie’s career, which is more than for any other player.  It’s another high-impact game:

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

022

57

111

104

176

3.08

Reggie

Jackson

022

8

15

12

26

3.25

Rocky

Colavito

022

7

17

17

22

3.17

Al

Kaline

022

6

11

11

20

3.32

 

            In the much more common code 021 (two walks, an extra base hit), Reggie is tied with Al Kaline:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

021

420

494

457

680

1.62

Reggie

Jackson

021

37

37

32

61

1.64

Al

Kaline

021

37

50

36

59

1.60

Jack

Clark

021

35

43

47

59

1.70

Rocky

Colavito

021

29

35

26

47

1.64

Darryl

Strawberry

021

28

31

32

47

1.67

Ken

Singleton

021

26

27

28

42

1.61

 

            The code 020 (two walks in the game, nothing else) is two and a half times as common as 021 and almost twenty times as common as 022, but again, Reggie owns that code, with 93 games like that in his career:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

020

1092

541

92

358

0.33

Reggie

Jackson

020

93

40

5

28

0.30

Jack

Clark

020

81

37

9

26

0.32

Rusty

Staub

020

79

39

1

25

0.31

Ken

Singleton

020

73

37

12

23

0.32

Al

Kaline

020

71

26

2

23

0.32

 

            The codes 012, 011 and 010 indicate games with a walk and two extra base hits, one extra base hit, or no extra base hits, but Reggie owns all three codes:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

012

279

443

559

709

2.54

Reggie

Jackson

012

30

48

61

78

2.59

Al

Kaline

012

20

32

39

51

2.54

Jack

Clark

012

18

32

43

48

2.64

Ken

Singleton

012

17

23

32

41

2.41

Rocky

Colavito

012

16

23

29

41

2.59

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

011

1671

1554

1739

1994

1.19

Reggie

Jackson

011

124

118

138

159

1.28

Jack

Clark

011

120

113

120

141

1.18

Al

Kaline

011

119

121

128

144

1.21

Rusty

Staub

011

109

94

107

121

1.11

Rocky

Colavito

011

96

90

132

128

1.34

 

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

010

3920

1017

347

-255

-0.07

Reggie

Jackson

010

319

87

23

-22

-0.07

Rusty

Staub

010

249

52

17

-19

-0.07

Ken

Singleton

010

247

63

23

-19

-0.08

Jack

Clark

010

222

49

22

-10

-0.04

Al

Kaline

010

222

58

19

-16

-0.07

 

            We’re now talking about very significant numbers of games.  The code 010 (a walk but nothing else) represents more than 10% of Reggie’s career games.   The remaining codes that Reggie "owns"—meaning he did this more times than anyone else—the other ones are rare codes that he owns with just a few occurrences. 

            Coming at this from a slightly different angle, these five codes are the most common codes for all players in the study:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

All

Players

000

7497

349

591

-3301

-0.44

All

Players

100

7190

2012

2045

1229

0.17

All

Players

010

3920

1017

347

-255

-0.07

All

Players

001

3390

2350

3221

2451

0.72

All

Players

110

2996

1553

942

1703

0.57

 

            And those five codes, in the same order, are also the most common in Reggie’s career:

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

Reggie

Jackson

000

507

18

40

-226

-0.45

Reggie

Jackson

100

382

120

112

74

0.19

Reggie

Jackson

010

319

87

23

-22

-0.07

Reggie

Jackson

001

261

203

292

211

0.81

Reggie

Jackson

110

167

88

58

98

0.59

 

            In Al Kaline’s career, however, 100 (a single) is more common than 000 (an empty game), and 110 is as common as 001 (195-195 for Kaline, 167-261 for Reggie.)

First N

Last

Code

Count

Runs

RBI

RC

RC/Game

Al

Kaline

100

453

128

139

78

0.17

Al

Kaline

000

436

26

32

-191

-0.44

Al

Kaline

10

222

58

19

-16

-0.07

Al

Kaline

110

195

122

74

110

0.56

Al

Kaline

001

195

145

191

138

0.71

 

            The best game of Reggie’s career was in Fenway Park on June 10, 1969; Game Line 6 2 5  10—two singles, a double, two homers, a walk and 10 RBI.   He was later found to have been using an illegal bat.  If Manfred was the commissioner then, he’d have gotten the death penalty. 

 

            The second ten right fielders:

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

11

Roberto

Clemente

0

1

2

5

2

626

12

Dave

Winfield

0

1

1

3

4

615

13

Harry

Heilmann

0

1

3

2

3

587

14

Bobby

Abreu

0

0

1

7

2

572

15

Vladimir

Guerrero

0

0

2

5

3

525

16

Elmer

Flick

0

0

5

2

2

511

17

Willie

Keeler

0

0

2

1

6

507

18

Sammy

Sosa

1

1

1

2

2

505

19

Bobby

Bonds

0

0

4

0

5

495

20

Ichiro

Suzuki

0

1

1

3

4

493

 

 

 

19)  Bobby Bonds

            Still working with the Game Logs; I have probably added 50,000 or 100,000 games to the data since the stuff above (the previous paragraph) was written last November. In my Game Log data at this moment there are 256,093 Game Lines for hitters.  Of those, there are:

            93,142 games in which the batter got no hits,

            96,442 games in which the batter got one hit,

            49,901 two-hit games,

            14,083 three-hit games,

            2,297 four-hit games

            217 five-hit games,

            10 six-hit games, and

            1 seven-hit game. 

 

            If you like percentages, that works out to 36% games with no hits, 38% games with one hit, 19% games with two hits, 6% games with three hits, and 1% games with four hits or more. If you don’t like percentages, you could be in the wrong study group here.  

            I assign each game a "Game Score"; not sure if I have ever explained it all or not, but anyway, the average Game Score for a hitter in a game is 25.52.   Since the hitters included in the study are mostly very good or outstanding hitters, the average Game Score for ALL hitters would be lower than 25.52.

            Let us say, for the sake of discussion, that every game in which a hitter has a Game Score higher than 25 is a Good Game (GIHG—Good Individual Hitter Game) and every game in which he has a Game Score no higher than 25 would be a bad game.  Whether there is any game that figures at EXACTLY 25.00000 or not I don’t know; I doubt it.  Anyway, let’s say that above 25 is a Good Game.  If that is true, then there are 103,912 Good Games by hitters in the data, and 152,181 Bad Games.   There are some glitches in the definition; for example, a hitter who pinch hits and hits a single but does not drive in or score a run is scored as having had a bad game, which obviously is not what he would say in the post-game interview.  But let’s move on.

            The data is off center, of course, because the best games are much, much further from the mean than  the worst games.  The Metric HAS to be set up that way; if it were not, it would not be representing the real world.  If the league batting average was .500, the number of good games and bad games would be about equal.   But since the league batting average is closer to .260, .270, a hitter who goes 0-for-5 is less than 1.5 hits below average, while a hitter who goes 5-for-5 is more than 3.5 hits above average.   If a hitter had 25 to 40 at bats in a game, you could re-center the data so that the average aligned with the center of the chart, because no hitter would go 25-for-25 in a game, just as no hitter goes 25-for-25 in a week.  But given the smaller number of trials, it is not possible to make them align in this way without eviscerating the Game Score. 

            Anyway, the average Game Score of a hitter who has no hits in a game is 13.99.   Of the 93,142 hitters who had no hits in a game, 2,160 had what score as Good Games despite having no hits in the game, but 90,982 are scored as Bad Games.   These are breakdowns for all levels of hits in the data:

           

              No Hits              Average Score  13.99                Good Games:  2,160    Bad Games:  90,982

              1 Hit                   Average Score: 25.55                Good Games: 40,912 Bad Games:  55,530

              2 Hits                  Average Score: 37.88                Good Games: 44,249 Bad Games:   5,652

              3 Hits                  Average Score:  50.71               Good Games:  14,066 Bad Games:         17

              4 Hits                  Average Score:  63.88               Good Games:  2,297    Bad Games:  None

              5 Hits                  Average Score:  77.65                Good Games:      217       Bad Games:  None

              6 Hits                  Average Score:  88.12                Good Games:          10          Bad Games:   None

              7 Hits                  Average Score:  75.32                Good Games:             1  Bad Games:  None

 

            In my data, the best game by a hitter in which he had no hits was by Larry Doby on September 19, 1951; Doby walked 5 times in that game and scored 4 runs, which makes a Game Score of 51.9.  The Indians drew 13 walks in the game, and won the game 15-2.   The worst game by a hitter with no hits was the game by Joe Torre on July 21, 1975, in which Torre went 0-for-4 and grounded into four Double Plays for a Game Score of negative 2.13, the only game in my data, so far, which has a negative score.  His team, the Mets, lost the game, 6-2.  I think that Joe Morgan once had a game in which he went hitless but scored five runs, but Morgan isn’t in my data yet.   For the sake of you percentage eaters, 97.7% of hitters who don’t get a hit in a game have had what we will consider a Bad Game, but 2.3% of them have managed to have a good day anyway.

            We can generalize that when a hitter has no hits in a game it is a bad game, when he has two or more hits in a game it is a good game, and when he has one hit in a game it is a 50/50 proposition; not precisely accurate, but good enough for gub’ment work. 

            In more specific terms, one-hit games are 42.4% Good Games by hitters, but 57.6% Bad Games.  The BEST game by a hitter with only one hit in the game (in my data) was by Bobby Bonds on September 9, 1979.   Serving as the DH in that game and batting third, Bonds had a Game Line of 2 1 1 5—a Grand Slam homer, four walks, and a stolen base.   The game scores at 76.7, but looks better the more closely you look at it; in a more detailed system it probably would score even higher than that.  The Grand Slam Home Run was hit with the score tied in the bottom of the 9th inning, winning the game 14-10; it was a walk off homer.   One of the walks came with the bases loaded, driving in a run; another one came with two men on base, loading the bases.  After a third walk, he stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch; after a fourth walk (not chronologically) the pitcher threw the ball away in trying to pick him off of first base, and he raced to third.   Then, in the 9th inning, the opposing manager genius intentionally walked Rick Manning, who was 0-for-4 in the game and had grounded into TWO double plays, to pitch to Bonds with the bases drunk.  Bonds hit a home run to end the chess match.   

            The worst game by a hitter in which the hitter had a hit was by Toby Harrah in the first game of a double-header on August 1, 1986; Harrah went 1-for-4 but was caught stealing and grounded into two double plays, giving him a Game Score for the day of 6.62.  The Rangers still won the game, 7-2.   The second-worst, however, was by a right fielder, Johnny Callison; Callison on July 13, 1968 went 1-for-7 with a strikeout (7 0 1 0), but was caught stealing twice.  He was caught stealing after his hit, but also reached on an error, and was caught stealing then, too. 

            Trying to draw the line between a "Good" Game and a bad game—Darryl Strawberry on June 9, 1983 and Bob Allison on July 20, 1962 both went 1-for-4, and in both cases the one hit was a double.  That’s a border-line case; if a hitter goes 1-for-4 with a double, it is usually a good game if he does drive in or score a run, and a bad game if he does neither.  Strawberry was 4010, Allison was 4110; advantage, Allison.  Strawberry also struck out 3 times in the game, which is another negative albeit a small one, and Allison had a Sacrifice Bunt, which is also a small positive.  Allison winds up at 24.999.  Strawberry, however, also had a walk and also stole a base in his game, which pushes him over the line, to 25.01.   It’s a good game for Strawberry—double, walk and a stolen base, although he neither drove in nor scored a run—but a bad game for Allison—double and sac bunt, although he did score a run.  You have to draw a line somewhere. 

            Two hit games.  85% of two-hit games by a hitter are "Good" games, 15% are still Bad Games.   The BEST two-hit game by any player in my data was by Kirby Puckett on August 10, 1994; 3 4 2 7.   He went 2-for-3 with two homers and also three walks, although two of the three walks were intentional.  That scores at a whopping 107.94, which makes it a Super Game; there are a handful of 2-hit Super Games in my data.  Although we all remember Kirby as a Center Fielder, he was playing Right Field in that game. 

            The best two-hit game in my data which was by a  player who was primarily a right fielder was by Jim Northrup on June 24, 1968, 4 2 2 8 with a walk, 97.4 Game Score.  Two grand slam homers and a walk.  The Tigers won 14-3, pushing Denny McLain’s won-lost record to 13-2.   Northrup drove in two runs in the game after that, and, two games after that, hit another Grand Slam Home Run, making McLain 14-2.   Northrup drove in 14 runs in a 4-game sequence in 1968, the worst hitting season in the last 100 years. 

            The WORST 2-hit game in my data was by Bobby Bonds on August 20, 1978; Bonds in that game was 2-for-4 (4 0 2 0), but grounded into a double play and was caught stealing twice, Game Score of 12.63.   And, getting back to that "this is where we draw the line" thing, Bonds also had the best two-hit game in my data which was still a bad game.  In that game (4 0 2 1) Bonds had two singles and drove in a run with a Sacrifice Fly, but also had a strikeout and grounded into a double play, putting him at 24.999.  Not a REAL bad game, but we’re going to call it a bad game. 

            The best 3-hit game in my data was by Reggie Jackson on September 18, 1986 (4 4 3 7); Reggie had three homers and two walks, although he also grounded into a double play, but still, if you’re on base five times and hit 3 homers and drive in 7 runs, we’ll give you the double play ball.  The game scores at 121.64.  The worst 3-hit game in my data was by Bill White on May 5, 1963, 5 0 3 0.   Three singles in the game but was caught stealing twice. 

            Reggie, however, was not a right fielder in that game; he was a DH.  The best three-hit game that was actually by a right fielder was by:  Jim Northrup on July 11, 1973; 4 3 3 8.   Northrup in that game had two three-run homers and a sacrifice fly; he also walked, and he also reached on an error on a play on which he drove in a run (E-2 with a runner on third), and he scored a run after reaching on that play.  Tigers won the game 14-2.  I’ve probably mentioned that before, because I love this fact:  while no member of the Milwaukee Brewers has ever driven in 8 runs in a game, Jim Northrup did it twice—and he doesn’t rank as one of the 100 top right fielders of all time!

            The best 4-hit game in my data was by a right fielder, Rocky Colavito’s 4-homer game on June 10, 1959 (4 5 4 6); he also walked and scored in the game.  The third- and fourth-best 4-hit games in my data were also by right fielders—the best game of Roberto Clemente’s career, and the best game of Al Kaline’s career.   On May 15, 1967, Roberto Clemente hit three homers and a double (5 3 4 7, 123.8)—and the Pirates lost the game, 8 to 7, as no one else drove in a run for the Pirates and the pitching was bad all day.  (When I write these things, I tend to assume that everybody knows that Clemente’s entire major league career was with the Pirates.  Very likely, some people reading don’t know who Clemente played for.  Sorry.)  On April 17, 1955 Al Kaline had three homers, a single and a walk (5 3 4 6) against Kansas City.   I wrote about that game in Reggie Jackson and the Game Logs; that was the game that made Kaline a star, because it was very early in the season and Kaline’s big game left him with a batting average of .560 (14 for 25).  People react to anything that happens early in the season at a higher level than they do something that happens later in the season, so that game set off an explosion of coverage of the 20-year-old Kaline, and launched him to stardom.  He never had another game as good.   The worst four-hit game in my data was by Vic Power on August 9, 1957 (6 0 4 0, grounded into a double play.)  But that’s still a good game. 

            The best 5-hit game in my data is Joe Adcock’s game of July 31, 1954, four homers and a double (5 5 5 7).  The best by a right fielder was Dave Parker on September 15, 1987 (5 4 5 8, a double and two homers.  That was also the best game of Parker’s career.)   Adcock’s game scores at 156.39, Parker’s at 132.92.  The worst five-hit game in my data was by Cesar Tovar on August 14, 1974, 5 0 5 0, also a caught stealing.  Scores at 41.01. 

            The best game of Bobby Bonds’ career was in Candlestick Park against the Cardinals, May 8, 1973.   3 3 3 5, a single, two homers, two walks and a stolen base. 

 

 

20.  Ichiro

            Best game of his career:  June 17, 2003, in the Kingdome against the Angels, 4 4 4 2, two home runs. 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

21

Reggie

Smith

0

0

1

3

5

486

22

Enos

Slaughter

0

1

2

1

3

483

23

Ken

Singleton

0

1

2

3

1

475

24

Jack

Clark

0

0

3

1

3

471

25

Andre

Dawson

0

0

1

3

2

470

26

Kiki

Cuyler

0

1

1

3

3

467

27

Dave

Parker

0

1

2

2

1

464

28

Brian

Giles

0

0

3

3

1

463

29

Dwight

Evans

0

0

2

1

3

456

30

Larry

Walker

0

1

0

4

1

451

 

  22)  Enos Slaughter. 

            Among the right fielders in my game log file, Enos had the highest "Good Game Percentage"—49.9%. 

            First of all, in figuring the "Good Game Percentages", I used only Games STARTED, rather than all games, since pinch-hitting and pinch-running appearances rarely would be scored as good games for a hitter.   The highest Good Game percentages for any players in my data are by 1930s hitting stars:

First

Last

Good Games

Games

Pct

Hank

Greenberg

785

1374

57.1%

Earl

Averill

877

1579

55.5%

Joe

Medwick

984

1848

53.2%

Charlie

Keller

526

999

52.7%

Bob

Johnson

959

1837

52.2%

Will

Clark

962

1896

50.7%

Paul

Molitor

1324

2647

50.0%

Enos

Slaughter

976

1955

49.9%

Larry

Doby

703

1415

49.7%

Dick

Allen

837

1692

49.5%

 

            Will Clark has the highest Good Game Percentage of anybody that you might remember and for whom I have the data in the file, and Enos the Meanest has the highest Good Game Percentage of any Right Fielder in my data—49.9% good games.   

            Slaughter was a racist and a brawler; he was married and divorced five times, and in countless on-field and off-field incidents.   As late as the 1970s, this redneck image contributed to his popularity. 

            For many years, I interpreted the gradual decline of the Cardinals from 1948 until about 1961 as the Stan Musial Syndrome.  Musial was SUCH a bright star that the Cardinals tended to think always in terms of just giving Musial enough support to win the pennant, which they were never able to do (after 1948).  They finally won the pennant the year after Musial retired, and they won it in part because they had moved on; they were looking forward, rather than backward.

            But I realize now that the decline of the Cardinals in that era was more the Enos Slaughter Syndrome than it was the Stan Musial Syndrome.  Slaughter’s outspoken racism, combined with the fact that St. Louis was the most Southern city in baseball at that time, and no doubt combined with a lack of vision from ownership, put St. Louis behind the curve while the rest of the league was bringing in black players.  While the other two Cardinal Hall of Famers, Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial, were both great gentlemen and were both welcoming and supportive of black athletes, the Cardinal culture was not.   It wasn’t until Slaughter was gone that the Cardinals could start the re-building process. 

            Best game of Slaughter’s career:  May 16, 1946 at Boston, 4 4 4 4, a double, two homers and a walk.  That’s not Fenway; that was Braves Stadium, just down the street from Fenway on Commonwealth Avenue. Parts of the old park are still standing, now on the campus of the Boston University.   I lived right by the old park when I lived in Boston, 2006-2008.   

 

23)  Ken Singleton

            Nobody thinks of him as a Hall of Fame candidate, and I don’t know whether he should be or not, but he was pretty good.  Career on base percentage of .388.   Best game of his career:  August 30, 1974, for Montreal at Cincinnati.           4 4 4 3, a home run and a walk. 

 

24)  Jack Clark

            The best game of Jack Clark’s career was July 31, 1991, for the Red Sox against Oakland.  7 4 4 6 with a walk and three home runs.   Clark hit a walk-off home run the 14th inning, his third homer of the game, to beat Oakland, 11 to 10. 

 

 

27)  Dave Parker.

            Dave Parker had a string of 16 consecutive "Good Games with the Bat" from August 9 to August 24, 1979.   To explain the background math. . . in  my data, players have HITS in 68.3% of the games that they started, somewhat higher than the overall percentage because these are mostly good players who are in the data.  But we count only 43.8% of Games Started as good games for a hitter. 

            In terms of compiling a STREAK of games, this is a massive difference.   A streak of 16 consecutive good games would be 1,226 times harder—that is, 1,226 times more rare—than a 16-game hitting streak.    An average hitter’s chance of hitting safely in all 16 of 16 games (average hitter within the data) . . .that chance is 1 in 450.  His chance of having a good game in all 16 is 1 in 552,126.   Parker’s 16-game streak of Good Games is the second-longest in my data, behind a 21-game streak by Indian Bob Johnson in 1935. 

            In Parker’s 16-game streak, he hit just .338—the same batting average he had posted for the entire season in 1977—but had 13 extra base hits.   But more interesting, he never had two extra base hits in a game in that stretch.  He had one extra base hit, exactly one, in 13 of the 16 games.   The only three games in his streak in which he didn’t have an extra base hit were the games of August 13, August 16, and August 22.  On August 13 he did not have a hit, but drew three walks in the game and scored three runs, making that the relatively rare "good game without a hit".  On August 16 he hit only one single, but climbed over the Good Game marker with a walk and a stolen base.   On August 22 he hit two singles, and two-hit games are usually good games.   In the 16-game stretch Parker had 6 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, 9 walks, one stolen base, a .723 slugging percentage, and scored 17 runs. 

 

 

30)  Larry Walker.

            Walker has been added to the Hall of Fame since this was written.  A lot of this article was written back in October or November, before Walker was elected.  That’s why his name is not in Gold in the chart above; when I did those charts he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.  As you can see, he rates higher here than eight other Hall of Fame right fielders, or sort-of-right-fielders-I-don’t-know-what-else-to-call-them; he ranks higher than Sam Rice, Harry Hooper, Harold Baines, King Kelly, Chuck Klein, Ross Youngs, Sam Thompson and Tommy McCarthy.  But he also ranks lower than ten right fielders who are eligible but not yet elected—Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu, Sammy Sosa, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Smith, Ken Singleton, Jack Clark, Dave Parker, Brian Giles and Dwight Evans. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

31

Rusty

Staub

0

0

1

4

2

447

32

Sam

Rice

0

0

0

0

8

422

33

Harry

Hooper

0

0

1

1

1

421

34

Dixie

Walker

0

0

1

3

3

414

35

Bobby

Murcer

0

2

0

1

1

409

36

Rocky

Colavito

0

0

2

3

0

390

37

Darryl

Strawberry

0

0

2

2

3

386

38

Harold

Baines

0

0

0

0

3

384

39

Mike

Tiernan

0

0

0

5

2

383

40

Tony

Oliva

0

0

2

2

3

376

 

            31.  Rusty Staub.

            Best game of his career:  August 1, 1970, for Montreal against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  4 4 3 4, two homers and a walk. 

 

            36.  Rocky Colavito. 

            This is the research that actually held up the publication of this article for several months; blame it on Rocky Colavito.  I’m not actually sure that I can explain this or make it interesting, but I’ll try.

            I got to wondering:  How many games per year does it take to turn a really good player, a Rocky Colavito type player, into a Hall of Famer?  Could he be a Hall of Famer if you gave him. . . 10 games a year?  5 games a year?  What does it take?

            I wound up making rules for this study, which I will try to explain.  I decided that the rule should be that you had to take out of the player’s record one game a season (or two, or three), but substitute back in the same number of games by teammates who played in the same game.  The purpose of that rule is, it has to be kind of reasonable.  I mean, if you add in a Joe Adcock-, Mark Whiten-type game, obviously you can make a lot of guys look really impressive, but that kind of game is not something you can just pick up here or there.  What I want here  is a really good game to replace a really bad game, but within reason. 

            Following that rule, I decided that by changing just one game a year, you could make Rocky Colavito a Hall of Famer.  Colavito was a big star anyway; he was a bigger star, in reputation, than he probably should have been, although he was a very good player.  But if you give him one more game a year. . .well, he probably wins the MVP Award in 1958.   This is the subject of a longer discussion later in this article, but in 1958 four outfielders had very similar hitting stats, and they finished 1-3-4-5 in the MVP voting.  Colavito hit .303 with 41 homers, 113 RBI, about the same numbers as the other three guys, and he finished third in the MVP voting, behind Jackie Jensen and a pitcher. 

            But let’s say you take out an 0-for-4 or 0-for-5 from Colavito, and you replace it with a big game by a teammate—two or three homers or a 4-hit game with 2 homers or something.  Now he (a) leads the league in Home Runs, (b) has the highest batting average among the four contenders, and (c) cuts the RBI deficit from 9 to maybe 4 or 5.   Does that make him the MVP in 1958?  I think it probably does. 

            I actually figured out which game needs to be taken out and what game from a teammate needs to be substituted in, but let’s not get into that; it’s not that interesting.  Let’s just say he could have been the MVP.  Colavito led the league in RBI only once, 1965, but easily could have led the league three times.  In 1958 he was second in the league in RBI, but 9 RBI behind, so that’s too many to make up with one good game.  But in 1959 he tied for the league lead in Home Runs (42) and missed by only one of leading the league in RBI.  One more good game, he leads the league in both home runs and RBI, no ties.  In 1961 he drove in 140 runs, missing the league leadership by only one; one more good game, he leads the league in RBI in 1961.   Colavito was among the top five in the league in RBI seven times; even in 1957, when he wasn’t a regular at the start of the season, and in 1960, when he had by far his worst season, he was still 10th in the league in RBI both years.  He was a REALLY good RBI guy. 

            It’s not just RBI, though.  Colavito led the league in walks once, and was in the top ten in walks 7 times.  He led the league in Home Runs once, but was in the top six in the league 9 times—every year through his prime, basically.  He was among the league leaders in runs scored and doubles on a regular basis.  One year he hit 37 homers; you give him one more great game, it’s 40. 

            I am not really saying that Rocky Colavito was super-close to being a deserving Hall of Famer—as we evaluate players now.  What I am saying is that he was super-close to the standards of excellence that defined how greatness was measured in the pre-sabermetric era.  Even when he wasn’t great, he was still near numbers that matter.  In 1960 he was terrible, for him, but he hit .249 with 35 homers, 87 RBI.  You give him one more really good game, he hits 37, 38 homers, but he goes over 90 RBI—which is a marker—and he gets on the good side of .250, which is a dividing line.  .255 with 37 homers, 92 RBI just LOOKS a lot better than .249 with 35 and 87.

            But I cannot find any other player for whom this is true.   Vada Pinson, for example, was a better player (probably) than Rocky Colavito—but you cannot make Vada Pinson a Hall of Famer by giving him one good game a year, or two, or three. There is no season in Vada Pinson’s career that you can make into an MVP season with one good game.  You can’t get him a batting title with one more good game. Although Vada had 200 hits in a season four times, which is an impressive accomplishment considering that he did it with speed and some significant power, but the closest he ever came to 200 in any other season was off by 13 hits, so you can’t push him over the 200-hit threshold in any other season.   He drove in 100 runs twice, and if you stretch it you can get him to 100 RBI in 1965, but that’s all you can do there.   He led the league a couple of times in doubles, a couple of times in triples, a couple of times in hits.  Although he was often among the league leaders in stolen bases, he was never close enough that you can make him the #1 guy with one season.   His career is what it is; you add one or two games a year, it doesn’t really change.

            The only guys who become Hall of Famers with one more great game a year, really, are the guys who probably ought to be Hall of Famers anyway—Minnie Minoso and Dave Parker, maybe.  Lou Whitaker probably ought to be a Hall of Famer, but his numbers don’t really change with one game a year.

            With five games a year, you can make damned near anybody a Hall of Famer—not anybody, but anybody who is really good.  With five more great games a year, Amos Otis and Hal McRae are Hall of Famers.  With two more great games a year, Dave Parker is an obvious Hall of Famer.  There are a lot of guys who are kind of like Rocky Colavito—Frank Howard and Roy Sievers and Hank Sauer and Willie Horton and Joe Adcock and Norm Cash and Greg Luzinski and George Foster and Gil Hodges—but none of them has that thing, that combination of just the right numbers that puts many of their seasons on the cusp of real excellence.  I spent a long time looking, so long that it dragged this article two miles off course.  But Rocky Colavito is the only guy I can find who missed the Hall of Fame literally by one game a year. 

 

37.  Darryl Strawberry

            Best game of his career:  August 16, 1987 at Wrigley Field, 5 5 4 5, two doubles, a triple, a home run and a walk.   The Mets won the game, 23-10. 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

41

King

Kelly

0

1

0

0

4

372

42

Chuck

Klein

0

0

2

3

0

359

43

Jose

Canseco

0

1

1

1

0

350

44

Gavvy

Cravath

0

1

1

3

0

342

45

Magglio

Ordonez

0

1

0

1

3

341

46

Jose

Bautista

0

2

0

1

1

339

47

Ross

Youngs

0

0

2

1

4

339

48

Tim

Salmon

0

0

1

1

5

337

49

Felipe

Alou

0

0

1

2

2

334

50

Babe

Herman

0

0

1

2

2

334

 

            44.  Gavy Cravath

I once intended to write a little short book about Gavy Cravath; I got so far with it as to interview his granddaughter, out in Laguna Beach.   That was 40 years ago, or close to it.  I still have the file around somewhere.  He was an interesting guy.  He signed his name "Gavy"; how it got changed to "Gavvy", I’ve never been sure, but I’ve seen copies of numerous signed photos signed Gavy.  The nickname was short for Gaviota, a Spanish word meaning Seagull.  My memory is that, as an amateur, he once killed a seagull with a line drive.  The nickname stuck.  (I had an uncle, my mother’s brother, who once, when he was a little boy, killed a turkey with a baseball bat, and was known as "Turk" until the day he died.  I never met Uncle Turk; he died before I was born, but I heard a lot about him.)

Gavy was interesting guy, became a small-time judge after his career, what was called a Justice of the Peace, but he was addressed as "Your Honor" or "Judge Cravath" and had a gavel in his hand.  One time during World War II one of FDR’s kids, one of the President’s kids, got hauled into court for something, I think unauthorized use of gasoline ration coupons.  The state politicians, who were dominated by Republicans, wanted to throw the book at the President’s child to make a political point, but Gavy wouldn’t have anything to do with it, said it’s just a routine thing and we’re not going to make it any more than that.  I ought to finish that project after all these years. 

 

            49.  Felipe Alou

            Legendary intelligence.  Within baseball there are some guys who can just "read" things.   Amos Otis was like that; you couldn’t throw him a changeup, because he would always read the delivery somehow and know it was a changeup.  Joe Morgan could read things; he’d steal 60-70 bases a year with very few caught stealing, because he could read the pitcher.  Alex Cora is like that. 

            Felipe Alou, so I’ve been told, was the greatest ever at that.   As a manager he would just pick up little tiny things, if a batter leans left he is setting on a fastball, if he leans in he is looking for a curve.  People who were around him would swear he would pick up signals like that inning to inning.   Two members of the Alou family worked with us with the Red Sox while I was there.  Both tremendous people—very different one from the other, but both great guys. 

            Best game of Felipe’s career:  April 26, 1966 for Atlanta against his old San Francisco teammates, went 5-for-5 with two doubles and two homers.   5 3 5 2.

 

 

 

 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

51

Sam

Thompson

0

0

1

1

3

330

52

Juan

Gonzalez

0

0

1

1

3

327

53

Tommy

Henrich

0

0

0

4

2

324

54

Johnny

Callison

0

0

0

4

0

322

55

Roger

Maris

0

1

1

1

1

320

56

Paul

O'Neill

0

0

0

2

2

312

57

Shawn

Green

0

1

0

1

1

308

58

George

Hendrick

0

0

0

0

3

303

59

Nick

Markakis

0

0

0

0

3

299

60

Bob

Allison

0

0

0

3

1

298

 

            51.  Sam Thompson. 

            Sam Thompson drove in 166 runs in 127 games in 1887, drove in 149 runs in 102 games in 1894, and drove in 165 runs in 119 games in 1895.  These are fantastic numbers, and intuitively it seems like he could be ranked higher than he is.   He had other very good RBI seasons, besides those three, and I think it is fair to describe him as baseball’s first great RBI man. 

            I’m not sure what level of awareness there was of Thompson’s RBIs at the time these things happened.  RBI didn’t become an official stat until after Thompson was retired, but there had been a similar stat published earlier, RRF (Runs Responsible For). 

            At a certain level, context is easy to adjust for.  If you have two players in the same league, one of them plays in a park/league context of 4.00 runs per game at the other in a park/league context of 4.40 per game, it’s easy to adjust for that.  But when the discrepancies get to be TOO large, and when it isn’t the same league anymore, when it isn’t the same era, when it isn’t even really the same game, then the adjustments aren’t that easy, and aren’t that reliable.  The 1894 Philadelphia Phillies had four outfielders who hit .400—Thompson hit .415, Ed Delahanty hit .405, Sliding Billy Hamilton hit .403, and the fourth outfielder, Tuck Turner, hit .418 with 382 plate appearances.  The American League in 1968 had one .300 hitter; the Phillies in one season had four .400 hitters.  It’s hard to put those things in context.   Thompson, Delahanty and Hamilton are all in the Hall of Fame.  The team finished 4th.  How great were they, really?

            Gavy Cravath used to lead the league in Home Runs every year; he was playing in the same park as Thompson, but twenty years later.  (I think it was the same park—didn’t check that.)  Anyway, I remember reading somewhere, 40 years ago, an article by somebody who claimed that Gavy hitting 24 homers in 1915 was more impressive than Maris hitting 61 homers in 1961.  If you look at the home runs per game in the league, and you adjust for this and adjust for that, Gavy comes out ahead.   He shouldn’t, though, for this reason:  that what it’s about is winning.  Maris’ 61 homers won more games for the Yankees than Gavy’s 24 homers won for the Phillies (although, I see, I have rated Gavy as a greater player than Maris.)  Ultimately, I think that saying that Thompson was a 19th-century Juan Gonzalez is a fair evaluation.

            This, by the way, is the same problem that makes adjusting college hitting stats to a pro level so problematic.  It isn’t that good hitters in college are not good hitters in pro ball; they are.  But the adjustment is just so large that the math becomes very unreliable. 

 

            52.  Juan Gone

            Two MVP Awards, probably shouldn’t have won either one.  It might be said, perhaps, that Gonzalez two MVPs are a kind of last gasp for the 20th century way of finding the MVP.   He won the MVP Award in 1996 with 3.8 WAR; Ken Griffey Jr. had 9.7, and A-Rod had 9.4.   He won it again in 1998 with 4.7 WAR; Derek Jeter had 7.5, Nomar had 7.1, Albert Belle 7.5, A-Rod 8.5, and Roger Clemens 8.1.  Pedro Martinez had 7.1 WAR that year and got one 10th-place mention on an MVP ballot. 

 

            53.  Tommy Henrich. 

            On the day that I was born, Tommy Henrich hit a walk-off home run to win a World Series game, 1 to nothing.   It was the first time a home run had decided a World Series game 1 to nothing since 1923, when Casey Stengel hit the homer.   After the game a reporter who had seen both games told Casey that he thought Henrich’s home run was more dramatic than Casey’s, because Henrich had done it in the 9th inning, whereas Casey had hit his in the 7th inning.  "I know," said Casey.  "I got nervous and I couldn’t wait." 

 

            54.  Johnny Callison

            Grew up in the same area of Oklahoma as Mickey Mantle, a little south of Mantle.   Callison was short (5-10) but muscular, and he had quite a bit of Mickey Mantle in him.  He was fast, strong, a good-looking kid who came to the majors as a teenager.  He wasn’t Mickey Mantle, but he was an MVP candidate in 1964-1965, and drew a lot of comparisons to Mantle.   He grew up in a town called Qualls, Oklahoma, which was originally called Qualls Burnt Cabin, after a family that had their house burned down in some kind of dispute in the mid-19th century.  I gather that the town isn’t really there anymore, just an old diner that still runs.  Similar story to Bobby Murcer, another Oklahoma kid who came along after Mantle and was compared to him.  I think I once did a detailed comparison of Murcer and Callison, and totally forgot that they were both Oklahoma kids. 

            Best game of Callison’s career:  June 6, 1965 at Wrigley Field, 5 3 4 4, three home runs. 

 

55. Roger Maris

            The best game of Maris’ career was actually with Kansas City before he was traded to the Yankees, August 3, 1958, 5 4 4 5—a double, a triple, and two home runs.  Kansas City beat Washington, 12 to 0, as Ralph Terry pitched a 5-hit shutout. 

            Maris was a year younger than Colavito, and came out of the Cleveland system a year later.  The team also had Minoso in left field, so Maris and Colavito were redundant, and the Indians traded Maris.  Whether they got as much as they should have for him is debatable, but Colavito was better than Maris. 

            After his historic 1961 season Maris still lived in Kansas City.  Maris and Whitey Herzog were friends, and Whitey was building a house.  I don’t mean he was having it built; I mean he was building it.  Maris, one of the biggest sports stars in the world, would show up at 8 o’clock in the morning in the freezing cold, every morning, to help Whitey build his house. 

59.  Nick Markakis

            Markakis is the highest-scoring active Right Fielder, at 59th.   There are six active right fielders in the Top 100. 

 

60.  Bob Allison

            Former Kansas University football player.  Best game of his career:  May 17, 1963 against Cleveland, hit three home runs and drove in 6 runs.   5 3 3 6. 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

61

Bill

Nicholson

0

0

2

1

0

298

62

Shin-Soo

Choo

0

0

1

1

3

295

63

Carl

Furillo

0

0

0

0

4

294

64

Jack

Tobin

0

0

0

1

4

290

65

Mookie

Betts

0

1

1

2

1

283

66

Dante

Bichette

0

0

0

2

2

283

67

Wildfire

Schulte

0

0

1

1

1

283

68

Nelson

Cruz

0

0

0

1

1

282

69

Bryce

Harper

0

1

0

1

2

281

70

Roy

Cullenbine

0

0

1

2

1

278

 

            61.  Bill Nicholson

            Nicknamed "Swish"—which is not really a nickname you want, no matter how you got it—he led the NL in home runs and RBI in 1943 and 1944, and was mentioned in the MVP voting every year from 1940 to 1944.  In 1944 he finished second in the MVP voting to Marty Marion, a defensive wizard.  The best player in the league was Stan Musial.  Best game of his career:  July 23, 1944, first game of a double header against the Giants in New York, 3 4 3 4.  Three home runs and a walk.

 

            63.  Carl Furillo

            Supposedly had the best right field throwing arm of the 1950s.  Came up as a center fielder; Duke Snider took the center field job away from him, but he had a long career with .299 career average.  One more hit, and his career average would have rounded off to .300. 

 

            65.  Mookie Betts

            Like Jim Northrup, Mookie has also driven in 8 runs a game twice.  So far. 

 

            70.  Roy Cullenbine

            Roy Cullenbine support group:  Joe Cunningham, Ferris Fain, Cupid Childs, Charlie Keller, Lu Blue, Nick Johnson, Elmer Valo.  Did you know Elmer Valo had a higher career on-base percentage than Joe DiMaggio?   Valo, .39838; DiMaggio, .39833.   Cunningham is probably the closest comp to Cullenbine.  Another couple of guys sort of in the same group are 1930s outfielders Dusty Cooke and Larry Rosenthal.   Their .400 on base percentages brought them even less respect that Cullenbine got. 

 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

71

Jermaine

Dye

0

0

0

1

3

277

72

Ken Sr.

Griffey

0

0

0

1

2

273

73

Tommy

Holmes

0

0

1

1

2

273

74

Red

Murray

0

0

0

3

2

272

75

David

Justice

0

0

0

0

3

268

76

Hunter

Pence

0

0

0

1

2

267

77

Oyster

Burns

0

0

0

3

1

267

78

Danny

Tartabull

0

0

0

2

1

263

79

Christian

Yelich

0

1

1

0

2

262

80

Jayson

Werth

0

0

0

3

1

260

 

            71. Jermaine Dye

            Dye used to joke that every time he got on base, the pitchers would throw over to keep him close.  He said he never could run; it was just the pitchers saw he was black, so they figured he was fast.  Never was. 

            The 1999 Kansas City Royals had an outfield of Johnny Damon, then 25 years old, Carlos Beltran, then 22, and Jermaine Dye, then 25.   I believe—as an analyst, not as a fan—that that is greatest young outfield in baseball history.  I think that if you look at every outfield in history, nobody else ever had three outfielders that good aged 25 or younger. 

 

            79.  Christian Yelich

            Like Mookie, is moving up the chart by 10 to 15 spots every year. 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

81

Kirk

Gibson

0

0

1

1

1

258

82

Ruben

Sierra

0

1

0

1

0

258

83

Joe

Carter

0

0

0

2

2

253

84

Jeff

Burroughs

0

1

0

1

2

252

85

Vic

Wertz

0

0

0

1

3

251

86

Patsy

Donovan

0

0

0

0

0

251

87

John

Titus

0

0

0

1

2

245

88

Socks

Seybold

0

0

0

1

4

243

89

Wally

Moses

0

0

0

1

0

242

90

Giancarlo

Stanton

0

0

2

0

0

238

 

            90.  Giancarlo Stanton.

            I think he’s probably done as an outfielder, don’t you?   I imagine he is going to go down in the books as a DH. 

 

 

Rank

First

Last

10

9

8

7

6

Career

91

Chief

Wilson

0

0

0

2

2

237

92

Buck

Freeman

0

0

0

1

4

235

93

Bing

Miller

0

0

0

0

1

235

94

Jackie

Jensen

0

0

0

1

2

232

95

J.D.

Drew

0

0

1

0

1

231

96

Jesse

Barfield

0

0

0

2

0

227

97

Richie

Zisk

0

0

0

0

2

224

98

Jay

Buhner

0

0

0

1

2

223

99

Reggie

Sanders

0

0

0

0

1

223

100

Von

Hayes

0

0

0

1

2

221

 

            94.  Jackie Jensen.

            Jackie, a football star at the University of California-Berkeley, is in the College Football Hall of Fame.   He won an MVP Award in 1958 with what I rank as a Level-7 season.  A Level-7 season is not normally an MVP season.

            There were four outfielders that year who had clearly the best hitting stats in the league; caveats later.  Anyway, ranked by home runs, they were Mickey Mantle, 42; Rocky Colavito, 41; Bob Cerv, 38; and Jackie Jensen, 35.  Ranked by batting average, they were Bob Cerv, .305; Mickey Mantle, .304; Rocky Colavito, .303; and Jackie Jensen, .286.  Ranked by OPS, they were Mickey Mantle, 1.035; Rocky Colavito, 1.024; Bob Cerv, .963; and Jackie Jensen, .931.  Ranked by Baseball Reference WAR, they were Mickey Mantle, 8.7; Bob Cerv, 6.3; Rocky Colavito, 6.0; and Jackie Jensen, 4.9.

            Among the four outfielders—who all had essentially similar batting stats—Jensen ranked last in home runs, last in batting average, last in OPS and last in WAR, and also played in one of the best hitter’s parks in the league--yet he won the MVP Award.   Mantle finished 5th in the MVP voting, Cerv 4th, Colavito 3rd, Jensen 1st.  That happened, essentially, because Jensen led the league in RBI, with 122.  That happened, essentially, because the two hitters ahead of him had on-base percentages of .416 and .458, finishing 3rd and 1st in the league in on-base percentage.  Jensen had 330 plate appearances with men on base, whereas Mantle had 314, Colavito had 278, and Cerv had 248.  Cerv for the season hit .375 with runners in scoring position and .326 with men on base, and had a .652 slugging percentage with men on base.   Jensen hit .294 with men on base, .294 with men in scoring position, and had a .592 slugging percentage with men on base—good numbers, certainly, but not really numbers that justified the MVP Award.

            At the time, OPS didn’t exist, WAR didn’t exist, and park effects were not routinely measured and routinely factored into the evaluation.  In that environment, RBI was the dominant statistic, and that made Jensen the MVP.

            The caveats promised earlier:  there were two other hitters in the league who contend for the position of the league’s best hitter.  Roy Sievers hit .295 with 39 homers, 108 RBI—essentially the same triple-crown numbers as the other four MVP contenders.  Sievers finished 6th in the MVP voting.  Ted Williams, 40 years old at the end of the 1958 season, was still really the best hitter in the league, but had less playing time than the other five noteworthies. 

           

 

            96.  Jesse Barfield.

            These are the career "Good Game Percentages" for all of the right fielders that I have so far input into my Game Log File:

First

Last

Order

Good Games

Games

Pct

Enos

Slaughter

 

976

1955

49.9%

Bobby

Bonds

 

869

1787

48.6%

Roberto

Clemente

 

1114

2300

48.4%

Al

Kaline

 

1262

2630

48.0%

Jack

Clark

 

875

1870

46.8%

Darryl

Strawberry

 

680

1493

45.5%

Reggie

Jackson

 

1199

2645

45.3%

Ichiro

Suzuki

 

1037

2293

45.2%

Dave

Parker

 

1053

2334

45.1%

Bill

Nicholson

 

642

1427

45.0%

Roger

Maris

 

592

1316

45.0%

Rocky

Colavito

 

784

1753

44.7%

Ken

Singleton

 

861

1969

43.7%

Felipe

Alou

 

737

1742

42.3%

Rusty

Staub

 

1061

2509

42.3%

Johnny

Callison

 

708

1698

41.7%

Gino

Cimoli

 

302

754