Joe Posnanski's top 100 Baseball Players of All Time

Trlicek's Whip

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Apologies if this was mentioned, but the teeth-gnashing about rank and actual numbers on the list was touched on by Pos on his blog (not the Athletic). The bolded was interesting:

The Baseball 100 continues on to the background music of joy and fury. That’s what you want, right? I realize that I’ve never explained the system Tom Tango helped me come up with because the rankings are not at all my focus for this series. Each of these essays really are lovingly crafted and the the entire point of this loony exercise.

I will tell you that the system is WAR based — peak WAR and career WAR — thrown in with a bunch of other factors thrown in such as era, postseason performances, all-around skill, impact on the game and so on. I tell you this for two reasons.
  1. For all those people who are furious about the rankings, most of the time you can just look at WAR and pretty quickly figure out why the player is ranked around there. It’s really not that mysterious.
  2. As we get closer to the top players, I think and hope it will become clear that I’m not so much ranking the players as assigning them numbers. That might not make sense now but I think it will very soon.
As he keeps stressing, this is about telling stories and less about who's 83rd and who's 57th.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Apologies if this was mentioned, but the teeth-gnashing about rank and actual numbers on the list was touched on by Pos on his blog (not the Athletic). The bolded was interesting:

"I will tell you that the system is WAR based — peak WAR and career WAR — thrown in with a bunch of other factors thrown in such as era, postseason performances, all-around skill, impact on the game and so on. I tell you this for two reasons.
  1. For all those people who are furious about the rankings, most of the time you can just look at WAR and pretty quickly figure out why the player is ranked around there. It’s really not that mysterious.
  2. As we get closer to the top players, I think and hope it will become clear that I’m not so much ranking the players as assigning them numbers. That might not make sense now but I think it will very soon."

As he keeps stressing, this is about telling stories and less about who's 83rd and who's 57th.
While it may be more about telling stories, he does say that the system is WAR based -- peak and career. Is WAR the best way to compare players across eras or players who played in different leagues? For example, look at Hack Wilson in 1930 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Wilson was a CF who finished second in WAR in 1930 while Yaz was an LF who led the league. Their counting stats for the years:

Player Doubles Triples Home Runs RBI
Hack Wilson -- (155 GS in CF) 35 6 56 191
Carl Yastrzemski -- (152 GS in LF, 3 at 1B, 1 in CF) 32 2 23 74


BUT

Player AVG OBP SLG OPS WAR
Wilson .356 .454 .713 1.177 7.4
Yaz .301 .426 .495 .922 10.5


So, how did Yastrzemski end up with a much higher WAR? Well, it may have something to do with the NL having a league batting average of .303 in 1930 while the AL in 1968 had a league batting average of .230. WAR is reduced to a league average for a season so when you get extremes like I showed, you don't get good comparisons. Even today, you have discrepancies because with inter-league play, teams are not playing the same schedules (for example, the AL winning percentage last season was .493 while it was .507 in the NL). And how do you relate the WAR of someone like Martin Dihigo to MLB players?

I think there is too much emphasis placed on WAR. It's not the be-all and end-all of stats; it generally provides a good approximation but you need to consider its shortcomings.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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While it may be more about telling stories, he does say that the system is WAR based -- peak and career. Is WAR the best way to compare players across eras or players who played in different leagues? For example, look at Hack Wilson in 1930 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Wilson was a CF who finished second in WAR in 1930 while Yaz was an LF who led the league. Their counting stats for the years:

Player Doubles Triples Home Runs RBI
Hack Wilson -- (155 GS in CF) 35 6 56 191
Carl Yastrzemski -- (152 GS in LF, 3 at 1B, 1 in CF) 32 2 23 74


BUT

Player AVG OBP SLG OPS WAR
Wilson .356 .454 .713 1.177 7.4
Yaz .301 .426 .495 .922 10.5


So, how did Yastrzemski end up with a much higher WAR? Well, it may have something to do with the NL having a league batting average of .303 in 1930 while the AL in 1968 had a league batting average of .230. WAR is reduced to a league average for a season so when you get extremes like I showed, you don't get good comparisons. Even today, you have discrepancies because with inter-league play, teams are not playing the same schedules (for example, the AL winning percentage last season was .493 while it was .507 in the NL). And how do you relate the WAR of someone like Martin Dihigo to MLB players?

I think there is too much emphasis placed on WAR. It's not the be-all and end-all of stats; it generally provides a good approximation but you need to consider its shortcomings.
Who is your top-100?
 

Trlicek's Whip

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While it may be more about telling stories, he does say that the system is WAR based -- peak and career...

I think there is too much emphasis placed on WAR. It's not the be-all and end-all of stats; it generally provides a good approximation but you need to consider its shortcomings.
His order, his list, his stories.

He also uses "a bunch of other factors thrown in such as era, postseason performances, all-around skill, impact on the game and so on." He also created this with Tom Tango and we don't know Tom's actual involvement or input.

Pos also hasn't revealed the secret sauce behind the final 100 in the order he's decided upon. So we don't know how much WAR is a factor nor its overall influence of the final results. Nor do we know which other metrics – which as stated include objective and subjective decisions and data points which he may not have even mentioned ("and so on") – he included as part of the recipe.

Given the choice of reading your list of 100 or reading Joe's list of players, in Joe's wonderful voice, with his own memories and personal stories and histories baked into each entry, it's a no-brainer and I feel for folx that can't enjoy them because they can't see the forest for the listicles/WAR discussion.
 

Zedia

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So, how did Yastrzemski end up with a much higher WAR? Well, it may have something to do with the NL having a league batting average of .303 in 1930 while the AL in 1968 had a league batting average of .230. WAR is reduced to a league average for a season so when you get extremes like I showed, you don't get good comparisons.
That’s the point - seeing their performances relative to their peers.
 

Max Power

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The entries for the black players from the Negro Leagues and earlier have been the best of all of them so far. That's not hugely surprising considering Joe's ties to Buck and the museum. I'm looking forward to Satch, Josh, Charleston, and Torriente.
 
Aug 11, 2019
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Stepson

Who is your top-100?
I don't have a list. For one thing, I didn't see National League games when I was growing up except for All Star games and World Series (and with many of them in the afternoon during school, I missed quite a few). Then there was eight years in the military with five overseas). I didn't actually get to attend an NL game until 35 years after I first saw a game on TV. Basically, the only way I could rank NL players was by what I read about them.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
While it may be more about telling stories, he does say that the system is WAR based -- peak and career. Is WAR the best way to compare players across eras or players who played in different leagues? For example, look at Hack Wilson in 1930 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Wilson was a CF who finished second in WAR in 1930 while Yaz was an LF who led the

<snip>

I think there is too much emphasis placed on WAR. It's not the be-all and end-all of stats; it generally provides a good approximation but you need to consider its shortcomings.
That last sentence is certainly true enough (and I doubt anyone here would dispute it), but the bolded question can only be answered with another question -- do you know of a better one? Without a tool like WAR we are basically reduced either to wholly subjective conversation about observed skills or to comparing stats stripped of their context, as you do with Wilson and Yaz. We've come a long way on this in my lifetime--when I was growing up, baseball writers were still laughing at what a goofy nickname "Home Run Baker" was because the guy never hit more than 12 HR in a season. What a noodle bat! The fact that he led his league in HR for four years in a row -- something only three other people in the history of the game ever did -- was rarely mentioned, and the deeper contextual question wasn't really grappled with at all. As imperfect as it is, WAR to me embodies the progress we've made since then.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
That last sentence is certainly true enough (and I doubt anyone here would dispute it), but the bolded question can only be answered with another question -- do you know of a better one? Without a tool like WAR we are basically reduced either to wholly subjective conversation about observed skills or to comparing stats stripped of their context, as you do with Wilson and Yaz. We've come a long way on this in my lifetime--when I was growing up, baseball writers were still laughing at what a goofy nickname "Home Run Baker" was because the guy never hit more than 12 HR in a season. What a noodle bat! The fact that he led his league in HR for four years in a row -- something only three other people in the history of the game ever did -- was rarely mentioned, and the deeper contextual question wasn't really grappled with at all. As imperfect as it is, WAR to me embodies the progress we've made since then.
Do I know of a better one? No, but I do think fielding should be taken out of it entirely. You simply cannot measure fielding accurately across the span of baseball history; before 1974, there are games for which play-by-play data isn't available and before the eruption of cable/satellite TV, people followed most games by radio or papers. I saw Joe DiMaggio play against his brother Dom on TV a couple of times. Could I tell who was the better fielder based on that? I recall reading that Dom was better but was that a Boston opinion? I also recall reading that Vince was a better fielder than either of them but I never saw him play. Was that just one person's opinion? You read about ballplayers in pieces written by the great sportswriters but you are still dealing with opinions. Posnanski hasn't seen a number of his list of 100 players but he has an opinion. Where did he get it?

I don't think I stripped Yaz and Wilson of context in what I said. I was pointing out that the context in which they got their respective WAR was very different. A question is how well Yastrzemski would have done if he grew up in Hack Wilson's era or would Hack WIlson have adapted to the game in Yaz's era?

I went to many meetings of SABR's Statistical Analysis Committee and remember the days when new fielding formulas were introduced and discussed, then the later days when presentations were made on one formula for all. But they are all based on league averages, park factors, and the like...except that stadiums changed from grass to artificial turf to different types of artificial turf to domed to intermittently-domed, and that all makes it difficult to have one formula for all that works over time.

You got it; you use it, but you have to be aware of its limitations.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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You may not be able to judge fielding across generations but you can within a generation, so why throw out the baby with the bath water?

it is pretty easy to recognize top fielders of each era, and that is certainly a significant part of the value of a player.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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I don't think I stripped Yaz and Wilson of context in what I said. I was pointing out that the context in which they got their respective WAR was very different. A question is how well Yastrzemski would have done if he grew up in Hack Wilson's era or would Hack WIlson have adapted to the game in Yaz's era?
Yes, and that is a question that WAR, with all its imperfections, should help us answer. I don't understand why you're mentioning it as if it's something that invalidates WAR.

The point of WAR is that it measures the value of a player's overall performance in comparison to his peers, the people he played against. If Yaz 1968 was much better in comparison to his peers than Wilson 1930 was in comparison to his, then it's reasonable to infer that Yaz was the more outstanding of the two players.

Certainly the discrepancies in the kinds of data we can use to evaluate defense in different eras make cross-generational WAR problematic, especially since none of those different kinds of data are particularly good. But I still think it's better than nothing, and to me clearly better than anecdotal memories. I mean, my memory is quite certain that Tommie Agee was the greatest defensive centerfielder in the history of the game. And that certainty plus $3 will buy you a grande at Starbucks.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Yes, and that is a question that WAR, with all its imperfections, should help us answer. I don't understand why you're mentioning it as if it's something that invalidates WAR.
Unfortunately, there are many who fail to realize that WAR only measures a player's overall performance in comparison to his peers. They also don't realize that someone who plays from 2000 through 2019 is not really a peer of someone who began their career in 2014. There are also things like comparing a player who plays half his games in a dome with no wind and with constant temperature to one who plays half his games outdoors where he has to put up with wind, cold (or very hot, humid) temperatures, sunlight in his eyes in day games. WAR is just an estimate and the more variables you try to include, the more apt you are to see things that throw the estimate off.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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This!
Thank you.
I was going to jump in and say the same thing. Fanatical Ted with all the access to data and video that we have now?!
On the other hand, with every team making use of stuff like this today, maybe the advantage the Fanatical Ted had in paying attention to little things while other players were goofing around in the dugout would be lessened significantly. Its very hard to know how things like this would really play out.
 
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Spelunker

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On the other hand, with every team making use of stuff like this today, maybe the advantage the Fanatical Ted had in paying attention to little things while other players were goofing around in the dugout would be lessened significantly. Its very hard to know how things like this would really play out.
And Ted would see even an even more extreme shift even more frequently.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
And Ted would see even an even more extreme shift even more frequently.
The shift used against Ted Williams was rather extreme, particularly at the beginning. A search for images of the Williams shift turned up several views from 1946. Because of possible copyright issues, I've just post a link to the Google search rather than the individual images.
 

Merkle's Boner

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Today's entry should put to rest that the numbers outside the last dozen or so mean anything. (and yes, I know he has said this many times).

This was the first one that left me a little disappointed. Not that he rated DiMag at 56. Obviously I get the reference and have known for a long tim his views that DiMag was not as good as the legend. But I do think it would have been nice to explain a little as to why his numbers don’t match the myth.
I don’t believe the numbers are meaningless, and I believe he has said that much. He just has also said that the numbers would change if he did the exercise again.
 

Spelunker

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This was the first one that left me a little disappointed. Not that he rated DiMag at 56. Obviously I get the reference and have known for a long tim his views that DiMag was not as good as the legend. But I do think it would have been nice to explain a little as to why his numbers don’t match the myth.
I don’t believe the numbers are meaningless, and I believe he has said that much. He just has also said that the numbers would change if he did the exercise again.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but it seems like some people disagree with how I’ve been ranking the players on the Baseball 100. This, of course, is not only reasonable, it’s actually quite right. My rankings are terrible. ALL rankings are terrible — except your own. The very idea that you could not only choose the 100 greatest players but also rank them in exact order is ludicrous.

And yet: Here we are.

I will not lie: I’ve been waiting for today, for No. 56 on the list. It feels like my big reveal. You see, as I told you from the start, I spent hours and hours working on the numbers and I mentioned that it began with a formula that I developed with my good friend Tom Tango, a WAR-based formula that takes numerous other things into account. This is all true, and it’s also true that most of the complaints people have had about the rankings are really complaints they have about WAR.

Q: How could you rank Jeff Bagwell ahead of Tony Gwynn?

Short answer: Because Jeff Bagwell had 10 more career WAR and had a seven-win advantage in peak WAR, because Bagwell by the numbers was a much better overall hitter (lots more power, got on base more), a better fielder (at a less-valuable position) was even a better base runner even with fewer stolen bases. And there weren’t enough advantages for Gwynn to make up the difference.

Q: How could you rank Gaylord Perry ahead of Sandy Koufax?

Short answer: Because Perry had 40 more career WAR, had a HIGHER seven-year peak by WAR, and while Koufax did have his share of advantages, particularly in the postseason, it wasn’t quite enough to overtake Perry (there were only a couple of places apart).

But the truth is that even those short answers don’t quite get at what I’ve been trying to do with the Baseball 100. I didn’t tell all of it when I said that I worked for hours and hours on the numbers. See, these aren’t exactly rankings. Yes, there’s a general order, from great to greater to even greater to greatest.

But what I’ve been trying to do is not RANK the player. I’ve been trying to connect the player to a number. I know that sounds weird and perhaps stupid, but I really have tried to do this with every player. It isn’t always obvious. It isn’t always even logical. All I can say is: I’ve tried.

For example — and I really did think someone would pick up on one part of this but, best I can tell, nobody has — remember how Topps used to number their baseball cards? Those numbers seemed entirely random but if you looked close you found that the superstars would have their numbers end in double-zero, the big stars would have their numbers end in 0 and 5.

I have tried to do that. That’s why Ichiro is No. 100. That’s why Koufax ix No. 70, Pete Rose is No. 60, etc. That’s why Gwynn is No. 95 (I almost made him No. 94 to signify the year he almost hit .400 but thought he was too good not to have his number end in 5).

I tried hard to give each player a number that I thought made sense. Mike Mussina was 99 because that was the year he finished second in the Cy Young (to the incredible Pedro season).

Mariano Rivera was given No. 91 because of Psalm 91, the Psalm of Protection: “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

Phil Niekro was given No. 83 because it is a prime number (and the sum of five consecutive prime numbers) which seemed to me to fit his pitching style.

Derek Jeter was given No. 79 because it is what is called a “happy prime,” and that sounded like a match. Also, 79 is the atomic number of gold. Also, ‘79 was the year Jeter started playing ball.*

*I also considered making Jeter 80 to give him a star number and making Carlton Fisk No. 79, but I thought this worked better.

Ernie Banks was 65 because (A) It ends with 5 which is a star number; (B) It is the magic constant in a 5 x 5 magic square (C) It was a year when Banks played in 163 games and finished THIRD in the league in games played behind two teammates, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. I love that one.

And so on. I couldn’t do quite make it work for every player. But whenever I could do it, and the order was about right, I did it. Maybe at some point at the end, I’ll print all of the number connections. It can be like that final scene of “The Usual Suspects.” Then again, I might never do that because some of them are REALLY out there.*

*Yes, I do realize that this is now a challenge, and I’m imagining all of you going all Russell Crowe on me to come up with connections.

I have to say that I did think people would pick up a pattern by now, looking back at it, I realize that I’m a lunatic and there was no way for ANYBODY to pick up the pattern.

Anyway, all that ends today because today the secret is out. I put Joe DiMaggio No. 56. I went back and forth on it — the rankings had him probably 20 or 25 spots higher and I didn’t move anyone else quite that much. But then I thought that the point of these rankings is to connect the player with a number, and if I put DiMaggio at 31 or 43 or something like that, who would even notice? Who would care about the number?

It seemed to me that the very best number for DiMaggio is No. 56. It’s his number. And so he got it.

There is a lot more of this number connecting to come in the next few weeks. I understand that some people might not like it this way and might prefer a more straightforward ranking so they can clearly and vividly scream about ranking Player X 22 spots ahead of Player Y. I apologize. Please feel free to scream anyway.
 

jon abbey

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Not a huge fan of that, I wish at least he'd figured out a way to tell us earlier, but maybe about halfway though is the right time.

We should try to guess people's places in advance now, though. I'm not great at this kind of thing, but obviously Jackie Robinson will be #42.
 

Ale Xander

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Not a huge fan of that, I wish at least he'd figured out a way to tell us earlier, but maybe about halfway though is the right time.

We should try to guess people's places in advance now, though. I'm not great at this kind of thing, but obviously Jackie Robinson will be #42.
Mantle better not be 7, but I'm ok with Babe being 3.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Mantle better not be 7, but I'm ok with Babe being 3.
If Babe's not your 1, who is? Seems like the only other candidates you can reasonably make a case for are Bonds and Mays. I'll be surprised if Posnanski gives Bonds the top spot. I suppose you could make a case for Mays as a more complete player than Ruth, especially if you give him credit for the year-plus lost to service, which would presumably have brought his career WAR up into within spitting distance of Ruth's.
 

barbed wire Bob

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If Babe's not your 1, who is? Seems like the only other candidates you can reasonably make a case for are Bonds and Mays. I'll be surprised if Posnanski gives Bonds the top spot. I suppose you could make a case for Mays as a more complete player than Ruth, especially if you give him credit for the year-plus lost to service, which would presumably have brought his career WAR up into within spitting distance of Ruth's.
Two players that come to mind are Mike Trout and Josh Gibson but, as Pos said, the goal is to connect a player to a number and not to rank the players. So I could see him giving the number 1 position to someone from the early days of baseball linked to the number 1 and not necessarily to the greatest baseball player.
 

barbed wire Bob

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Not a huge fan of that, I wish at least he'd figured out a way to tell us earlier, but maybe about halfway though is the right time.

We should try to guess people's places in advance now, though. I'm not great at this kind of thing, but obviously Jackie Robinson will be #42.
And Ted Williams at 40 (the last hitter to hit over 0.400)?
 

jon abbey

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Two players that come to mind are Mike Trout and Josh Gibson but, as Pos said, the goal is to connect a player to a number and not to rank the players. So I could see him giving the number 1 position to someone from the early days of baseball linked to the number 1 and not necessarily to the greatest baseball player.
Personally I would like to see anyone but Babe Ruth 1st (I do not have much respect for the all-white version of MLB), maybe if he puts Bonds and Clemens first and second, that will help push people to finally vote them in.
 

barbed wire Bob

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Personally I would like to see anyone but Babe Ruth 1st (I do not have much respect for the all-white version of MLB), maybe if he puts Bonds and Clemens first and second, that will help push people to finally vote them in.
I‘d be happy if Gibson was #2 and Satchel Paige was #1. Paige was the first player from the Negro Leagues elected to the Hall of Fame (in 1971) and Gibson was the second (in 1972).
 

jon abbey

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Here is the updated list, for reference:


No. 100: Ichiro Suzuki
No. 99: Mike Mussina
No. 98: Carlos Beltrán
No. 97: Roberto Alomar
No. 96: Larry Walker
No. 95: Tony Gwynn
No. 94: Roy Campanella
No. 93: Ozzie Smith
No. 92: Bullet Rogan
No. 91: Mariano Rivera
No. 90: Max Scherzer
No. 89: Mike Piazza
No. 88: Curt Schilling
No. 87: Charlie Gehringer
No. 86: Gary Carter
No. 85: Sadaharu Oh
No. 84: Cool Papa Bell
No. 83: Phil Niekro
No. 82: Kid Nichols
No. 81: Ferguson Jenkins
No. 80: Carlton Fisk
No. 79: Derek Jeter
No. 78: Clayton Kershaw
No. 77: Miguel Cabrera
No. 76: Willie McCovey
No. 75: Justin Verlander
No. 74: Frank Thomas
No. 73: Brooks Robinson
No. 72: Robin Roberts
No. 71: Bert Blyleven
No. 70: Sandy Koufax
No. 69: Monte Irvin
No. 68: Gaylord Perry
No. 67: Hank Greenberg
No. 66: Robin Yount
No. 65: Ernie Banks
No. 64: Johnny Mize
No. 63: Steve Carlton
No. 62: Smokey Joe Williams
No. 61: Arky Vaughan
No. 60: Pete Rose
No. 59: Reggie Jackson
No. 58: Jeff Bagwell
No. 57: Rod Carew
No. 56: Joe DiMaggio
 

Kliq

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If Babe's not your 1, who is? Seems like the only other candidates you can reasonably make a case for are Bonds and Mays. I'll be surprised if Posnanski gives Bonds the top spot. I suppose you could make a case for Mays as a more complete player than Ruth, especially if you give him credit for the year-plus lost to service, which would presumably have brought his career WAR up into within spitting distance of Ruth's.
Was Willie Mays also a great pitcher? I get knocking Ruth for playing in a relatively unsophisticated time with no black players, but the dude was on a Hall of Fame trajectory as a starting pitcher and then became the greatest hitter of all-time.
 
Aug 11, 2019
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Personally I would like to see anyone but Babe Ruth 1st
I've always felt that Ruth would have made the Hall if he had remained a starting pitcher. I know that there were others in the early days who began as pitchers, then switched (but even later, Stan Musial was a pitcher in his first two minor league seasons and in his third, he went 18-5 while finishing 12th in the race for the batting title...the ability to hit and an arm problem turned him into a full-time outfielder).
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I wouldn't be shocked to see Bonds at #1. I understand steroids, but Joe isn't one to really make judgements. Look at his numbers. He had 2 Hall of Fame careers!

7 MVPs ( could easily have won in '91, '95, '98 and 2000...should have won in '96). And none of his MVPs were cheap. He deserved then all.

And 12 top-5 finishes. His numbers from the early 90's are insane. His 2000-on numbers broke the game.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Was Willie Mays also a great pitcher? I get knocking Ruth for playing in a relatively unsophisticated time with no black players, but the dude was on a Hall of Fame trajectory as a starting pitcher and then became the greatest hitter of all-time.
....and pretty much single-handedly transformed the game in the process. How many athletes in any sport have done that? I get the objections to pre-1947 players, up to a point, but Ruth seems sui generis to me.

OTOH, if you credit Mays with about 12 WAR for the nearly two years he missed to military service at ages 21-22, his total is equivalent to Bonds' (or greater, if you use BR's version) and comfortably close to Ruth's. I would be fine with making him #1, with Ruth #2, and Bonds and Clemens at 3 and 4 behind them.
 

Ale Xander

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If Babe's not your 1, who is? Seems like the only other candidates you can reasonably make a case for are Bonds and Mays. I'll be surprised if Posnanski gives Bonds the top spot. I suppose you could make a case for Mays as a more complete player than Ruth, especially if you give him credit for the year-plus lost to service, which would presumably have brought his career WAR up into within spitting distance of Ruth's.
Bonds, Mays, Gibson

My quick prediction for Pos top 10

1. Bonds
2. Mays
3. Ruth
4. Gehrig
5. Cobb
6. Musial
7. Mantle
8. Hornsby
9. Williams, T
10. Trout or Wagner, H
 

Joe Sixpack

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Trout will definitely be higher than 10. Pos has made it clear that he thinks the overall level of play is much higher now than it ever has been. I think Trout lands somewhere in the top 4.
 

Kliq

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I’m not super familiar with Pos’ work, but I know that Oscar Charleston is often regarded as being a superior player to Gibson, or at least an equal.
 

jon abbey

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Pos wrote a column in 2018 discussing who should be baseball’s GOAT. Ruth came out number 1.
That's not exactly what that says, that piece is basically just a recap of their reader poll, in which more people voted for Ruth than anyone else, but Pos doesn't come to any conclusions himself there except he adds Oscar Charleston to the six players who the readers voted for the most:

Babe Ruth (71 percent)
Willie Mays (50 percent)
Barry Bonds (43 percent)
Ted Williams (22 percent)
Henry Aaron (21 percent)
Mike Trout (17 percent)

And then Joe Pos added Charleston to his candidates and ends the column with this:

"Years ago, when Willie Mays visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, he came upon the statue of Oscar Charleston.

“How good was Oscar Charleston?” Mays asked Buck O’Neil.

“He was you before you,” Buck said.

Mays nodded. When he was young, he played briefly in the Negro Leagues and for years after many people from the Negro Leagues told him that he was great. But they told him that Oscar Charleston was even greater."
 

Merkle's Boner

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I’m interested to see who he has as the top pitcher, and where he ranks him. It’s sort of hard to imagine a top ten without a pitcher. Who do people think it’ll be? Walter Johnson? Clemens? Satchel? Pedro?
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
...It’s sort of hard to imagine a top ten without a pitcher. Who do people think it’ll be? Walter Johnson?...
Although Cobb, Ruth, Mathewson, and Wagner each got more than 95% in the first class in 1936, Walter Johnson, the other electee, only got 83.63%. It was until Bob Feller was elected in 1962 that another player got at least 90% of the vote and it wasn't until 1992 that someone beat Ty Cobb's high mark of 98.23% (Tom Seaver). This bit about getting 100% of the votes is pretty new.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I've always felt that Ruth would have made the Hall if he had remained a starting pitcher. I know that there were others in the early days who began as pitchers, then switched (but even later, Stan Musial was a pitcher in his first two minor league seasons and in his third, he went 18-5 while finishing 12th in the race for the batting title...the ability to hit and an arm problem turned him into a full-time outfielder).
Ruth had seriously declined as a pitcher by 1918. He revved it up for the world series but it's hard to see how he was going to have a great career as a pitcher. He strikeouts per 9 were half of what they were in 1915 and 1916 and by 1919 his ERA+ was barely better than league average at 102. He didn't just become an outfielder because he was such a great hitter. He also became one because he was less and less excellent as a pitcher.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Ruth had seriously declined as a pitcher by 1918.
Really? He was 23-12 (40 GS in 1916) and 24-13 (38 GS in 1917). His decline to 13-7 in 1918 was largely due to his only starting 20 games while playing 57 in the OF and 13 at 1B in 1918 and he only made 15 starts in 1919 while starting 111 in the OF and 5 at 1B. His pitching might not have declined if he had the normal days off a starter had instead of playing the field on them.

Incidentally, he tied for the league lead (11) in home runs in 1918 in spite of only playing in 95 games (of course, that may not have had anything to do with him being moved to a full-time player).
 

Rough Carrigan

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Really? He was 23-12 (40 GS in 1916) and 24-13 (38 GS in 1917). His decline to 13-7 in 1918 was largely due to his only starting 20 games while playing 57 in the OF and 13 at 1B in 1918 and he only made 15 starts in 1919 while starting 111 in the OF and 5 at 1B. His pitching might not have declined if he had the normal days off a starter had instead of playing the field on them.

Incidentally, he tied for the league lead (11) in home runs in 1918 in spite of only playing in 95 games (of course, that may not have had anything to do with him being moved to a full-time player).
If he only declined due to pitching less often why were his strikeouts cut in half? Should he have been able to get more on the ball pitching less often?
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
If he only declined due to pitching less often why were his strikeouts cut in half? Should he have been able to get more on the ball pitching less often?
That may be partly explained by the fact that there was a league-wide drop-off in K per 9 in 1918 from the previous year. On the other hand, he gave up more hits per IP in 1917 than he did in 1918 (.93 to .75). So, since he didn't have a steady pitching routine, perhaps he changed his style of pitching.
 

terrynever

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Was Willie Mays also a great pitcher? I get knocking Ruth for playing in a relatively unsophisticated time with no black players, but the dude was on a Hall of Fame trajectory as a starting pitcher and then became the greatest hitter of all-time.
According to this Baltimore Sun story, Ruth’s barnstorming tours following the season faced black squads in almost half their games. Babe was the most influential player in baseball and he enjoyed playing against players the owners refused to allow in their league.


 

LogansDad

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I'm finally getting around to starting this. I'm only through Larry Walker, but, man, I could not care less about the rankings. I absolutely love reading Joe's storytelling. And I don't even think I've gotten to any of the good stuff yet.
 

jungleboy

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Mar 1, 2016
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I'm finally getting around to starting this. I'm only through Larry Walker, but, man, I could not care less about the rankings. I absolutely love reading Joe's storytelling. And I don't even think I've gotten to any of the good stuff yet.
Enjoy! My favorite ones so far have been Phil Niekro, Brooks Robinson, the Negro Leagues players, and basically all the rest.
 

jon abbey

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He is up to #49 now (Warren Spahn), Nolan Ryan and Al Kaline were 50/51. The Ryan one is a really great read, this is the lead:

"Nolan Ryan was the greatest pitcher who ever lived. Nolan Ryan was also the most frustrating pitcher who ever lived. Nobody struck out more batters. Nobody walked more batters. Nobody was harder to hit. Nobody so willingly let baserunners steal. Nobody threw more no-hitters. Nobody threw more wild pitches. He was unbeatable. Nobody in modern baseball lost more.

It is as if Ryan is not actually a pitcher but something else entirely — an alien, a cartoon character, a folk hero, a saxophone. Trying to find a place for Ryan on a list like this is a bit like trying to figure out where the Beatles belong on your list of favorite pastas."