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Baseball Analysis  Michael Hoban, Ph.D

Chapter 13


The Best Players at Each Position


 The Outfielders



The Breakdown by Position of the True Hall of Famers


There are ninety-one (91) 20th century position players who have HOF numbers according to the NEWS HOF Monitor.  Here is the distribution by position.


First Base         -            14

Second Base    -            11

Third Base        -            7

Shortstop         -            11

Left Field          -            17

Center Field     -            10

Right Field        -            14

Catcher            -            6

Designated       -            1



Are you surprised by these numbers at all?  I know I was.  There are seventeen left fielders and only ten center fielders?  I always had the impression that there were more great center fielders than left fielders.  But that is probably because if you look at the top ten players of all time, four are center fielders (Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Tris Speaker) and three are left fielders (Barry Bonds, Ted Williams and Stan Musial).


There are only six catchers with HOF numbers?  That surprised me a bit also.  What this may indicate is that the Win Shares system (as good as it is) may favor offense to some extent over defense.  But, of course, we already know that this statement is probably true for any system that claims to measure both offense and defense.                 


In this chapter and the next, I will present the top twenty-five (25) players at each position who played in the major leagues during the 20th century.  For each position, I will indicate which players have HOF numbers and which do not.  I will also list any Hall of Famer who played the position even if he is not among the top 25.  If you do not find a player who you feel should be among the top 25 at a particular position, please check the appendices at the back of the book to see if he is listed there.  If he is not, I would appreciate hearing about it.





The Right Fielders with HOF Numbers


As indicated above, there are fourteen right fielders who played during the 20th century who have HOF numbers according to the NEWS monitor.  Here they are. 


All numbers include the 2006 season. 

Bold print = Hall of Famer

Italic = active player in 2006

CWS = Career Win Shares

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

NEWS = Career Value  =  CV  +  .25(CWS - CV)


                                                                                    CWS               CV                NEWS


 1.    Babe Ruth                        (1914-1935)               756                        460                          534

 2.    Hank Aaron                        (1954-1976)               643                        356                        428           

 3.    Mel Ott                           (1926-1947)               528                        335                        383

 4.    Frank Robinson                    (1956-1976)               519                        316                        367

 5.    Sam Crawford                     (1899-1917)               446                        303                        339

 6.    Paul Waner                        (1926-1945)               423                        304                        334

 7.    Reggie Jackson                      (1967-1987)               444                        296                        333

 8.    Al Kaline                        (1953-1974)               443                        268                        312

 9.    Dave Winfield                      (1973-1995)               415                        259                        298           

10.   Roberto Clemente             (1955-1972)               377                        269                        296

11.  Tony Gwynn                        (1982-2001)               398                        269                        294

12.  Willie Stargell                       (1962-1982)               370                        263                        290           

13.   Harry Heilmann            (1914-1932)               356                        267                        289

14.   Elmer Flick                        (1898-1910)               291                        280                        283


With the election of Tony Gwynn in 2007, all fourteen of the right fielders who have HOF numbers are now in the Hall of Fame.  What is unusual about this is that this is the only position for which that statement is true.  That is, for every other position, there is at least one player who has HOF numbers who is not in the Hall.  For example, Barry Bonds is a left fielder who has the numbers but is still an active player in 2007.  And Mark McGwire is a first baseman who has HOF numbers but was not elected to the Hall in his first attempt in 2007.                       

Note the balance of era within this group.  Six of the right fielders played during the first half of the 20th century and eight of them during the second half.  And in looking at this list of outstanding right fielders, I assume that the least well known of the group would be three of those who played early in the century: Sam Crawford, Elmer Flick and Harry Heilmann.  And there may be some surprise that Roberto Clemente is not ranked higher than #10.  




The Other Right Fielders in the Top 25


Here are the other eleven players who round out the top 25 right fielders.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


15.  Rusty Staub                                                354                        254                        279

16.  Bobby Bonds                                                302                        264                        274

17.  Ken Singleton                                                302                        260                        271

18.  Sammy Sosa                                                313                        255                        270

19.  Reggie Smith                                                325                        250                        269

20.  Willie Keeler                                                333                        246                        268

21.  Dave Parker                                                327                        248                        268

22.  Enos Slaughter                                            323                  246                  265

23.  Jack Clark                                                 316                        247                        264

24.  Dwight Evans                                                347                        234                        262

25.  Andre Dawson                                                340                        234                        261


Here are five right fielders who are in the Hall of Fame but who did not make it into the top 25 at the position.


Kiki Cuyler                                                     292                        244                        256

Sam Rice                                                        327                        228                        253

Harry Hooper                                                 321                        221                        246

Chuck Klein                                                   238                        217                        222

Ross Youngs                                                  206                        206                        206


As you can see, there are seven right fielders who are in the Hall of Fame and who do not have HOF numbers.  And, of course, there are some names on this list which frequently surface when fans talk about players who deserve to be in the Hall: Rusty Staub, Dave Parker, Andre Dawson, etc.  But, as you can see, they do not quite measure up in the NEWS system.


The following right fielders were on the ballot for the 2007 Veteran’s Committee – even though none of them has HOF numbers: Bobby Bonds, Rocky Colavito, Roger Maris and Tony Oliva.   Colavito, Maris and Oliva are not among our top 25.  Here are their numbers.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Rocky Colavito                                                273                        243                        251

Tony Oliva                                                       245                        234                        237           

Roger Maris                                                     223                        209                        213


Andre Dawson, Dave Parker, Paul O’Neill and Jose Canseco were all on the 2007 BBWAA ballot.  Dawson got 56.7% of the vote and, therefore, still has a chance to be elected.  Parker got just 11.4% and appears to have no chance.  And both O’Neill and Canseco failed to get the 5% needed to continue on the ballot.  Neither Canseco nor O’Neill are among our top 25 right fielders.  Here are their numbers.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Jose Canseco                                                   272                        206                        223           

Paul O’Neill                                                     259                        201                        216           


Sammy Sosa is supposed to play again in 2007 so he may yet reach the 280 mark.  But even if he does, will the “steroid cloud” hanging over his name ever allow him to be elected to the Hall?



The Left Fielders with HOF Numbers


                                                                                    CWS               CV                NEWS                  


 1.    Barry Bonds                        (1986-        )                       686                        427                        492

 2.    Stan Musial                        (1941-1963)               604                        378                        435

 3.    Ted Williams                        (1939-1960)               555                        394                        434

 4.     Pete Rose                        (1963-1986)               547                        307                        367

 5.     Rickey Henderson            (1979-2003)               535                        308                        365

 6.    Carl Yastrzemski            (1961-1983)               488                        286                        337

 7.    Gary Sheffield                      (1988-       )                       402                        305                        329           

 8.    Fred Clarke                        (1894-1915)               400                        273                        305

 9.    Tim Raines                        (1979-2002)               390                        275                        304

10.    Billy Williams                      (1959-1976)               374                        279                        303

11.    Al Simmons                        (1924-1944)               375                        276                        301

12.    Manny Ramirez                       (1993-        )                       334                        282                        295

13.    Sherry Magee              (1904-1919)               354                        272                        293

14.    Zack Wheat                        (1909-1927)               380                        264                        293

15.    Joe Jackson                        (1908-1920)               294                        290                        291

16.    Goose Goslin             (1921-1938)               355                        263                        286

17.    Lou Brock                        (1961-1979)               348                        264                        285


It is interesting to note that every right fielder with HOF numbers is in the Hall of Fame while only nine of the seventeen left fielders with the numbers has been inducted into the Hall.  Of course, Bonds, Sheffield and Ramirez are still active.  And Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are banned from the Hall.  Tim Raines may have a hard time being elected despite his great numbers since he was never a marquee player – just a solid and outstanding performer.  And the same could be said for Gary Sheffield (not to mention the stain left from the “steroids question”).  Sherry Magee can only be elected by the Veteran’s Committee – and he was not even on the ballot for 2007.



Look at the balance by era.  Six of these left fielders played the bulk of their careers before 1950, nine played after 1950 and two essentially bridged the half-century               mark (Stan Musial and Ted Williams). 


I think it is fair to say that many followers of the game have some difficulty with the idea that Barry Bonds may be a “better player” than Stan Musial or Ted Williams.  And I think it is important to point out that the NEWS score simply indicates that Bonds has put some very impressive numbers in the record book during his career.  How much of that achievement is due to the effect of natural talent and how much to chemicals is still being debated.



The Other Left Fielders in the top 25


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


18.    Joe Medwick                                             312                  267                  278                 

19.    Jimmy Sheckard                                              339                  257                  278

20.    Frank Howard                                                297                  260                  270

21.    Minnie Minoso                                     283                        258                        264

22.    Tommy Leach                                       328                        246                        267

23.    Jose Cruz                                                313                        232                        252

24.    Heinie Manush                                              285                  236                  248     

25.    Bob Johnson                                                287                        231                        245

         Jim Rice                                                  282                        233                        245


There are two left fielders who are in the Hall of Fame but who did not make it into the top 25.


Ralph Kiner                                                    242                        242                        242           

Chick Hafey                                                   186                        176                        179


As you can see, there are four left fielders who are in the Hall of Fame who do not meet the NEWS benchmark.  Joe Medwick, at 278, came very close.  And, of course, Ralph Kiner played for only ten seasons but he has many supporters for his place in the Hall.             


Jim Rice got 63.5% of the vote from the BBWAA 2007 ballot so it is a good bet that he is on his way to being elected to the Hall fairly soon.  Albert Belle got only 3.5% of the vote and will not be on the ballot again.  Jim Rice just made our list of the top 25 left fielders but, of course, Albert Belle did not.  Here are Belle’s numbers.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Albert Belle                                                      243                        237                        239           



Minnie Minoso was on the ballot for the Veteran’s Committee but, of course, no one has been elected by that group since the Hall of Famers themselves took over the voting.



The Center Fielders with HOF Numbers


There are ten center fielders who have HOF numbers according to the NEWS monitor.


                                                                                    CWS               CV                NEWS


 1.  Ty Cobb                            (1905-1928)               722                        419                          495

 2.  Willie Mays                        (1951-1973)               642                        389                        452

 3.  Mickey Mantle                        (1951-1968)               565                        399                        441

 4.  Tris Speaker                        (1907-1928)               630                        388                        449

 5.  Joe DiMaggio                        (1936-1951)               387                        325                        341

 6.  Duke Snider                        (1947-1964)               352                        289                        305

 7.  Ken Griffey Jr                        (1989-       )                       367                        278                        300


11.  Earl Averill                        (1929-1941)               280                        268                        271           

16.  Larry Doby                        (1947-1959)               268                        257                        260

17.  Kirby Puckett                       (1984-1995)               281                        247                        256           


Earlier we saw that all of the fourteen right fielders who had HOF numbers are in fact in the Hall of Fame.  Here we see that nine of the ten center fielders with the numbers are in the Hall.  And I feel confident in saying that Junior Griffey will be inducted easily when he is eligible.  Only four of these players played the bulk of their games before 1950 while six played mostly in the second half of the century.


Of course, as you can see, Earl Averill, Larry Doby and Kirby Puckett do not have a NEWS score of 280.  They have HOF numbers by virtue of the SAG (255/1800) criterion.  That is, each of them has a NEWS score of 255 despite having played less than 1800 games.  As you may recall, only eleven players have ever done this and all are in the Hall of Fame.  (Joe DiMaggio and Elmer Flick are the only players with less than 1800 games played who have a score above 280).


The top four center fielders (Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Tris Speaker and Mickey Mantle) are among the top ten players of all time.  That is, of course, the most players from one position in the top ten.  Since I am a life-long Willie Mays fan, I was hoping that he would turn out to be the top center fielder.  But Ty Cobb’s numbers speak for themselves.  (I would still take Willie any day!!)



The Other Center Fielders in the Top 25


Here are the other fifteen players who are among the top 25 center fielders of the 20th century.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


 8.  Jimmy Wynn                                                305                        269                        278                       

 9.  Richie Ashburn                                              329                  257                  275

10.  Max Carey                                                351                        245                        272

12.  Vada Pinson                                                321                        252                        269

13.  Edd Roush                                                314                        250                        266

14.  Bernie Williams                                              311                  248                  264

15.  Jim Edmonds                                                274                        250                        256


18.  Willie Davis                                                322                        230                        255

19.  Cesar Cedeno                                               296                  236                  251
20.  Dale Murphy                                                294                        228                        245

21.  Al Oliver                                                   305                        222                        243

22.  Wally Berger                                                241                        240                        240           

23.  Fred Lynn                                                 280                        225                        239           

24.  Steve Finley                                                296                        213                        234

25.  Andruw Jones                                                232                        229                        230


There are three center fielders who are in the Hall but who did not make our list of the top 25.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Hack Wilson                                                   224                        220                        221           

Earle Combs                                                   227                        217                        220

Lloyd Waner                                                  245                        207                        217


As you can see, there are a total of six center fielders in the Hall who do not have HOF numbers according to the NEWS monitor.  And Jimmy Wynn is the highest ranking center fielder below the 280 cut-off (that really surprised me).


Dale Murphy was on the ballot for the 2007 BBWAA election but he only got 9.2% of the vote.  It does not look like he has any real chance of election.  Eric Davis was also on the ballot but got only three votes and will not appear again.  Here are his numbers.


                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Eric Davis                                                         224                        192                        200


Vada Pinson, Curt Flood and Al Oliver were all on the 2007 ballot for the Veteran’s Committee.  They got 19.5%, 17.1% and 17.1% of the vote, respectively, so none of them seems to have any hope of being elected.  Here are Flood’s numbers.



                                                                        CWS               CV                NEWS


Curt Flood                                                       221                        209                        212           


Of course, neither Eric Davis nor Curt Flood are among our top 25 center fielders.


Having looked at the top outfielders, we will take a look at the top infielders and catchers in the next chapter.




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