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Baseball Analysis  Michael Hoban, Ph.D

  Part 3 - The Lists
The True Hall of Famers - The Five Levels of Greatness
The Hall of Fame Pitchers - The Four Categories of Excellence
The 25 Best Careers at Each Position
The Hall of Famers Who Do Not Have HOF Numbers
The Position Players with HOF Numbers – Not Yet in the Hall
The Pitchers with HOF Numbers – Not Yet in the Hall
The 140 Best Players of the Modern Era (1920 to Present)
The Complete CAWS Ranking for Position Players
The Complete CAWS Ranking for Pitchers


The True Hall of Famers - The Five Levels of Greatness

Michael Hoban, Ph.D.

As mentioned earlier, after the 2015 election, there were one hundred eighty-nine (189) 20th century major league players in the Hall of Fame - those whose careers were primarily from 1901 to the present.  Of these, one hundred thirty (130) were position players and fifty-nine (59) were pitchers. The CAWS CAREER GAUGE suggests that sixty-four (64) of these players do NOT have the career numbers to justify their being in the Hall (47 position players and 17 pitchers). 

Of course, we all realize that there are a number of other baseball people who are in the Hall of Fame who never played major league baseball. 

But let’s face it, when the average fan thinks of “Hall of Famers” he/she does not think of executives or managers or umpires.  Fans almost always associate the term with those great major league players who played the game in an outstanding fashion. 

That is why I think it is a worthwhile exercise to try to give appropriate recognition to those players who really did distinguish themselves by their outstanding performance on the playing field in the major leagues.  So, I will do that here by defining “levels of greatness.”

 

According to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE, there are 167 players who did achieve Hall of Fame career numbers in the major leagues during the 20th century (since 1901) - 116 position players and 51 pitchers. 

Of these players, 32 position players (29 from the modern era and 3 from the deadball era) are not yet in the Hall of Fame.  Likewise, 9 pitchers (7 from the modern era and 2 from the deadball era) are not yet in Cooperstown.  Of course, some of these players (like Derek Jeter) have not yet been eligible.

 

The Five Levels of Hall of Famers – Position Players

 

The CAWS CAREER GAUGE has separated those 20th century players who have Hall of Fame numbers into five levels depending on their CAWS score (that is, according to their career numbers).   The lists of players will include those who are in the Hall of Fame and those who have the numbers but are not yet inducted. 

For example, we will see that Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt and Willie McCovey were all great players who had Hall of Fame numbers during their careers.  But Hank Aaron’s career numbers designate him as a Level 1 player while Mike Schmidt had a Level 2 career and Willie McCovey a Level 3 career.

 

Here are the five levels of major league position players (who actually posted HOF numbers) and the number of players in each level – a total of 116 players.  Remember that some of these players are not yet in the Hall. 

Level 1    CAWS score > 400   =   13 players

Level 2    CAWS score > 330   =   18

Level 3    CAWS score > 300   =   28

Level 4    CAWS score > 280   =   29

Level 5    CAWS score < 280   =   28

As noted above, there are one hundred eighteen (116) 20th century position players who actually posted HOF numbers during their major league careers.  Of these, eighty-two (82) are actually in the Hall of Fame and nineteen (20) are not yet eligible or currently on the ballot (2015).  Fourteen (14) of these 116 players have been snubbed for election so far.  Of course, this number includes Pete Rose and Joe Jackson who have been banned from consideration for the Hall of Fame as well as those players who have been tarnished by the “steroids label.”

 

Here are the Level 1 and Level 2 position players.  These are the thirty-one (31) major league players who had the best career numbers in the 20th century.  I think it is fair to say that there are few surprises on these two lists.

 

 

Level 1  -  Players with a CAWS score > 400

 

Since 1901, there have been only thirteen (13) position players who attained a CAWS career score of 400 or better.  These are the true legends of the game.  Their career numbers are better than any other position players.  Here they are.

 

All numbers include the 2014 season.

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

*  =  deadball era

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 1.  Babe Ruth                        RF                   756                  460                  534

 2.  Barry Bonds                      LF                   707                  427                  497

 3.  Ty Cobb*                         CF                   722                  419                  495

 4.  Honus Wagner*              SS                    655                  422                  480

 5.  Willie Mays                      CF                   642                  389                  452

 6.  Tris Speaker*                  CF                   630                  388                  449

 7.  Mickey Mantle                 CF                   565                  399                  441

 8.  Stan Musial                      LF                   604                  378                  435

 9.  Ted Williams                    LF                   555                  394                  434

10.  Hank Aaron                    RF                   643                  356                  428                 

11.  Eddie Collins*                2B                   574                  376                  426

12.  Rogers Hornsby             2B                   502                  381                  411

13.  Lou Gehrig                     1B                   489                  384                  410

 

 

The CCG suggests that these thirteen players posted better career numbers than any other major league position players of the 20th century.  And, of course, for serious baseball fans, most of these are “household names.”

 

Because of the allegations of steroids use, I am sure that there will be those fans who will be upset that Barry Bonds’ career numbers put him just behind the Babe on this list.  But please remember that this list is just about his numbers (whether he earned those numbers fairly is another question). 

 

As you can see, four of the legends from the list above played predominantly during the deadball era (1901 to 1919): Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins.  And how many casual fans have even heard of Eddie Collins - who is arguably the best second baseman of the century?

 

This ranking places the great career of Honus Wagner in proper perspective and shows just how special a player he was.  Did he really have better career numbers than Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle?   That is hard to believe but the numbers do not lie.

 

Look at how close the CAWS score is for Stan Musial (435) and Ted Williams (434).  And how relatively close for Willie Mays (452) and Mickey Mantle (441).

 

Nine of the thirteen legends were outfielders while two were second basemen and one each was a shortstop and a first baseman.  There are no catchers or third basemen among these players.

 

Of the Level 1 players, twelve are in the Hall of Fame and only Barry Bonds is not yet there.

 

 

Level 2  -  Players with a CAWS score > 330 & <400

 

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

14.  Joe Morgan                     2B                   512                  341                  384

15.  Mel Ott                            RF                   528                  335                  383

16.  Nap Lajoie*                    2B                   496                  334                  375

17.  Mike Schmidt                 3B                   467                  338                  370

18.  Albert Pujols                    1B                   429                  347                  368

19.  Alex Rodriguez                SS                    480                  330                  368

20.  Frank Robinson             RF                   519                  316                  367

21.  Pete Rose                         LF                   547                  307                  367

22.  Rickey Henderson          LF                   535                  308                  365

23.  Eddie Mathews               3B                   450                  333                  362

24.  Jimmie Foxx                   1B                   435                  325                  353

25.  Joe DiMaggio                  CF                   387                  325                  341

26.  Sam Crawford*             RF                   446                  303                  339

27.  Carl Yastrzemski           LF                   488                  286                  337

28.  Gary Sheffield                 LF                   430                  305                  336     

29.  Paul Waner                     RF                   423                  304                  334

30.  Reggie Jackson               RF                   444                  296                  333

31.  George Brett                   3B                   432                  296                  330

 

 

There are eighteen (18) superstars in Level 2: ten are outfielders, three are third basemen, two each are first basemen and second basemen and one is a shortstop.  There were no third basemen in Level 1 but there are three here.  No catcher has career numbers that would put him in Level 1 or 2.

 

As you might expect, everyone on this list who has been eligible has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

 

Note that three recent players are in this group: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Gary Sheffield.  Gary Sheffield???  ARod and Pujols did not surprise me at all.  But Sheffield’s career numbers ranking him this high did come as a surprise. 

 

But that is one of the advantages of this type of research – once in a while a genuine surprise comes along.  Also note that Sheffield has 430 career win shares.  Every major leaguer with 400 or more win shares (who was eligible) had been elected to the Hall of Fame (prior to players with a perceived “steroids problem” becoming eligible).


Adjusting for Military Service
 

You will note that Joe DiMaggio is in Level 2 at #25. And some fans may be surprised that he is not a Level 1 player.  As most fans know, Joe D had a relatively short career of only thirteen seasons and this is a major reason why his career numbers do not rank him higher.  He lost seasons to military service and to early retirement due to a foot problem.

 

DiMaggio lost three playing seasons (1943-45) in the prime of his career to military service in World War II.  And so, some fans may speculate as to what his career might have looked like if he did not lose those years.  For example, would he have been a Level 1 player?  Of course, the same question would apply to some other great player as well such as Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Willie Mays – to name just a few.

 

But I thought that I would use Joe D and Teddy Ballgame as examples as to what would happen if we “project” (in a reasonable manner) what those missing years would have been like.  And in these two cases, this is relatively easy to do.  

 

For the two years prior to his military service, Joe DiMaggio earned the following win shares:  1941 = 41 and 1942 = 32.  On his return from the military, he earned the following in the next two years:  1946 = 24 and 1947 = 30.  If we average these four seasons, we get 31.75 or 32 win shares.  Therefore, it is reasonable to project that he would have averaged 32 win shares for the three years that he was in the military.  And so his new CAWS line would look like this.

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

Joe DiMaggio                         CF                   483                  337                  374

 

 

As you can see, this adjustment would not put the Yankee Clipper into Level 1 since his CAWS score would still be less than 400.  But it would move him on the Level 2 list from #25 to #17.

 

This adjustment is even more dramatic for Ted Williams since he essentially lost five seasons to military service – three during World War II and two during the Korean War.  As most fans know, Ted flew a jet fighter in combat.

 

For the two years prior to his first military stint, Ted earned the following win shares: 1941 = 42 and 1942 = 46.   On his return, he earned the following: 1946 = 49 and 1947 = 44.  The average is 45.25.  So, we award him 45 win shares for each of the three years during WW II.  Similarly, for his time in the Korean War, 1950 = 19 and 1951 = 34 while 1954 = 29 and 1955 = 23.  So, we award him 26 win shares for each of the two seasons he lost there.  Therefore, Ted’s new CAWS line looks like this.

 

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

Ted Williams                          LF                   732                  433                  508

 

This adjustment becomes VERY SIGNIFICANT.  It moves the Splendid Splinter up from the #9 position on the Level 1 list to #2 – just behind the Babe.  And I think it is fair to say that many fans would tend to agree with this conclusion.

 

 1.  Babe Ruth                        RF                   756                  460                  534

 2.  Ted Williams                    LF                   732                  433                  508

 3.  Barry Bonds                      LF                   707                  427                  497

 4.  Ty Cobb*                         CF                   722                  419                  495

 5.  Honus Wagner*              SS                    655                  422                  480

 

 

 

Here are the Level 3 and Level 4 position players.  There were a total of thirty-one (31) players in Levels 1 and 2 – the position players with the best careers of the 20th century.  In Levels 3 and 4, we have the fifty-seven (57) next best careers of the century – twenty-eight (28) in Level 3 and twenty-nine (29) in Level 4.

 

 

Level 3  -  Players with a CAWS score > 300 & <330

 

Here are the twenty-eight great position players whose rank for career value in the 20th century is from #32 to #59.  They each have a CAWS score of better than 300 but less than 330.  This means that there are only fifty-nine (59) position players since 1901 who achieved a CAWS career score of 300 or better.

All numbers include the 2014 season

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

*  =  deadball era

 

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

32.  Craig Biggio                    2B                   428                  294                  328     

33.  Frank Thomas                DH                  405                  301                  327                 

34.  Arky Vaughan               SS                    356                  308                  320

35.  Wade Boggs                    3B                   394                  291                  317

36.  Chipper Jones                   3B                   423                  281                  317

37.  Willie McCovey              1B                   408                  285                  316


                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS 

38.  Dick Allen                        1B                   342                  304                  314

39.  Eddie Murray                 1B                   437                  273                  314

40.  Cal Ripken Jr                 SS                    427                  276                  314

41.  Robin Yount                   SS                    423                  278                  314

42.  Jeff Bagwell                     1B                   388                  287                  312     

43.  Al Kaline                         RF                   443                  268                  312

44.  Derek Jeter                       SS                    415                  275                  310

45.  Ken Griffey Jr                  CF                   403                  278                  309

46.  Johnny Mize                   1B                   339                  296                  307

47.  Charlie Gehringer          2B                   383                  280                  306

48.  Paul Molitor                    DH                  414                  270                  306

49.  Fred Clarke*                  LF                   400                  273                  305

50.  Duke Snider                    CF                   352                  289                  305

51.  Tim Raines                       LF                   390                  275                  304

52.  Harmon Killebrew         1B                   374                  279                  303

53.  Billy Williams                  LF                   374                  279                  303

54.  Roberto Alomar             2B                   375                  278                  302

55.  Miguel Cabrera                1B                   324                  295                  302

56.  Luke Appling                 SS                    378                  275                  301

57.  Yogi Berra                      C                    375                  276                  301

58.  Al Simmons                     LF                   375                  276                  301

59.  Jim Thome                        1B                   392                  270                  301 

 

 

The twenty-eight (28) Level 3 players are interesting for a number of reasons.  For one thing, eight of them are not yet in the Hall of Fame.  Of course, some of these players like Derek Jeter have not yet been eligible. 

 

Level 3 also contains the first catcher to appear on the lists: Yogi Berra.  Johnny Bench at a CAWS score of 297 (in Level 4) is fairly close behind.  Note also that the first designated hitters with outstanding careers are in Level 3: Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor.

 

 

Level 4 contains the names of the twenty-nine players whose CAWS career score is 280 or better but less than 300.  A score of 280 is the HOF benchmark for left fielders, right fielders, first basemen and designated hitters. 

 

Level 5 (the last level) will include the names of those players at other positions who did not reach a score of 280 but did reach the benchmark for their respective positions.

 

 

Level 4  -  Players with a CAWS score > 280 & <300

All numbers include the 2014 season

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

*  =  deadball era

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

60.  Mark McGwire                1B                   342                  283                  298

61.  Dave Winfield                 RF                   415                  259                  298     

62.  Johnny Bench                 C                    356                  277                  297

63.  Roberto Clemente          RF                   377                  269                  296

64.  Manny Ramirez                LF                   394                  263                  296

65.  Ryne Sandberg               2B                   346                  278                  295

66.  Tony Gwynn                  RF                   398                  269                  294

67.  Sherry Magee*                 LF                   354                  272                  293

68.  Zack Wheat*                  LF                   380                  264                  293

69.  George Davis*                SS                    398                  255                  291

70.  Joe Jackson*                    LF                   294                  290                  291

71.  Joe Cronin                      SS                    333                  275                  290

72.  Rafael Palmeiro                1B                   387                  257                  290

73.  Willie Stargell                 LF                   370                  263                  290

74.  Rod Carew                     2B                   384                  257                  289

75.  Harry Heilmann             RF                   356                  267                  289

76.  Ron Santo                       3B                   324                  275                  287

77.  Bill Dahlen*                     SS                    394                  250                  286

78.  Goose Goslin                   LF                   355                  263                  286

79.  Mike Piazza                      C                    325                  273                  286

80.  Frank Baker*                 3B                   301                  280                  285

81.  Lance Berkman                1B                   311                  276                  285

82.  Lou Brock                       LF                   348                  264                  285

83.  Vladimir Guerrero            RF                   333                  269                  285

84.  Frankie Frisch                2B                   366                  256                  284

85.  Elmer Flick*                   RF                   291                  280                  283

86.  Gary Carter                    C                    337                  263                  282

87.  Darrell Evans                   3B                   363                  253                  281

88.  Barry Larkin                  SS                    347                  258                  280

 

Keep in mind that all of these players have HOF numbers according to the strict standards of the CAWS CAREER GAUGE.  And only one hundred sixteen (116) position players in the 20th century qualify under those standards.

 

Some observations:

 

  1. On this list, Sherry Magee and Bill Dahlen from the deadball era have been passed over for election to the Hall of Fame.
  2. The three catchers on this list join Yogi Berra as the only four to achieve a CAWS career score of 280: Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza and Gary Carter.  As we will see in Level 5, there are some other catchers who did post HOF numbers.

 

Levels 1 through 4 contain the names of the eight-eight (88) position players (since 1901) with the highest CAWS scores (280 or better).  But there are one hundred sixteen (116) position players who posted Hall of Fame numbers during this time frame.  So, who are the other twenty-eight? 

 

We will now look at Level 5 (the last level) and this list will contain the names of those twenty-eight players who did not reach a CAWS score of 280 but did post HOF numbers according to the benchmark for their position. 

 

 

 

Level 5  -  Players with HOF Numbers and a CAWS score <280

 

According to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE, there have been twenty-eight (28) players since 1901 who have posted HOF numbers during their playing careers but who did not register a CAWS score of 280 or more.  The CAWS benchmark for each position for obvious HOF numbers is as follows:

1.      Left fielder, right fielder, first baseman and designated hitter = 280

2.      Center fielder and third baseman = 270

3.      Second baseman = 260

4.      Shortstop and catcher = 250. 

The following players have Hall of Fame numbers according to these benchmarks.

In terms of their career numbers, some fans might consider these Level 5 players to be borderline Hall of Famers.  And that may be a fair assessment of players like Jimmy Wynn, Stan Hack, Lou Whitaker and Ted Simmons.  But recall that the CCG has identified a total of only one hundred sixteen (116) 20th century position players who have HOF numbers – and these twenty-eight players are among this special group.

 

 

All numbers include the 2014 season

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

*  =  deadball era

 

Center Fielders:  CAWS  =  270

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

Jimmy Wynn               (1963-1977)                305                  269                  278

Richie Ashburn         (1948-1962)                329                  257                  275

Max Carey*               (1910-1929)                351                  245                  272

Earl Averill                (1929-1941)                280                  268                  271

 

Jimmy Wynn is in very good company here with three current Hall of Famers.  Yet, when he was eligible for election to the Hall on the 1983 BBWAA ballot, he got no votes at all.  You will note that for his ten best seasons he averaged almost 27 win shares per season – a very impressive number and better than any of the other three center fielders here. 

 

Jimmy Wynn is the only 20th century center fielder who has HOF numbers and has been eligible and is NOT in Cooperstown.

 

 

Third Basemen:  CAWS  =  270


Brooks Robinson       (1955-1977)                356                  247                  274

Stan Hack                   (1932-1947)                316                  256                  271

 

Brooks Robinson is in the Hall primarily because of his glove – and he deserves his spot.  Many consider him to be the best fielding third baseman ever. 

 

Stan Hack is the only third baseman with HOF numbers who has been eligible and who is not in the Hall.

 

 

Second Basemen:  CAWS  =  260

 

Jeff Kent                     (1992-2008)                339                  252                  274

Bobby Grich               (1970-1986)                329                  253                  272

Robinson Cano           (2005-        )                263                  263                  263

Lou Whitaker              (1977-1995)                351                  232                  262

 

Jeff Kent is presently on the BBWAA ballot while Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker have been passed over for the honor and Robinson Cano is still an active player.

 

This position may be the strangest of all in that there are eight second basemen in the Hall of Fame whose numbers are not as good as these three: Nellie Fox, Billy Herman, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Evers, Joe Gordon, Tony Lazzeri, Red Schoendienst and Bill Mazeroski (see their numbers in the lists at the end of the monograph).                              

 

 

Shortstops:  CAWS  =  250

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 

Ernie Banks               (1953-1971)                332                  247                  268

PeeWee Reese            (1940-1958)                314                  246                  263

Lou Boudreau           (1938-1952)                277                  255                  261 

Alan Trammell            (1977-1996)                318                  238                  258

Bobby Wallace*        (1894-1918)                345                  227                  257

Ozzie Smith                (1978-1996)                325                  226                  251     

 

Alan Trammell is the only shortstop in this group who has so far been snubbed by the BBWAA. 

 

 

Catchers:  CAWS  =  250


Carlton Fisk               (1969-1993)                368                  240                  272

Ivan Rodriguez           (1991-2011)                345                  234                  262

Joe Torre                     (1960-1977)                315                  244                  262

Ted Simmons              (1968-1988)                315                  240                  259

Mickey Cochrane      (1925-1937)                275                  250                  256

Bill Dickey                  (1928-1946)                314                  235                  255

Gabby Hartnett         (1922-1941)                325                  229                  253

 

Joe Torre and Ted Simmons both have HOF numbers for a catcher according to the CAWS benchmark but have been passed over for the Hall of Fame (as players).  IRod, of course, is not yet eligible.
 

Of course, Joe Torre has been elected to the Hall as a manager.

These five groups above contain the names of twenty-three (23) additional players who posted Hall of Fame numbers during their playing careers (since 1901). 

The final group of five position players in Level 5 who have HOF numbers represents a very special category.  Only eleven players in the 20th century managed to post a CAWS score of 255 while playing in fewer than 1800 games.  And all eleven are in the Hall of Fame.  The CCG suggests that all eleven have HOF numbers. 

 

Here are the five players (of those eleven) who have not yet been mentioned in Levels 1 to 4 discussed earlier.

 

Short but Great Career:  CAWS > 255 in Fewer Than 1800 Games

 

                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS
 

Hank Greenberg       (1930-1947)                267                  262                  263

Bill Terry                   (1923-1936)                278                  255                  261

Larry Doby                (1947-1959)                268                  257                  260

Jackie Robinson        (1947-1956)                257                  257                  257     

Kirby Puckett            (1984-1995)                281                  247                  256

 

 

The twenty-eight (28) players in Level 5 when added to the eighty-eight (88) players from Levels 1 through 4 gives us the 116 position players since 1901 who have posted HOF numbers according to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE.



Michael Hoban, Ph.D is Professor Emeritus of mathematics at the City University of N.Y.  He has been an avid baseball fan for over 60 years and has become a serious baseball analyst, since joining SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) in 1998.  He is the author of five baseball books including:  DEFINING GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (Booklocker, 2012)   BASEBALL'S COMPLETE PLAYERS (McFarland: 2000) and FIELDER'S CHOICE (Booklocker: 2003). 

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