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Thread: Best Players in History

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Topnotchsy View Post
    Was I the only one who had never heard of Camilo Pascual before?
    I'm old enough that I saw him play!
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    Yes, but my point is the "one against the field" approach is a narrow route to answer to a broad question and can lead to unexpected results. If the question is "who was a better home run hitter, Kiner or Aaron?" and I decided to settle it by seeing who led the league most, then the answer is obviously Kiner. This takes into account nothing to do with longevity, consistency, or other aspects that might make one player better than another, because what does "better" mean? Nothing intrinsically in comparative discussions like this.
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    why isn't Ty Cobb on that list?
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  4. #19
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    The best players in history?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bongo870 View Post
    why isn't Ty Cobb on that list?
    Who is missing? 3 players in ESPN’s top 10 all-time did not make this list. Ty Cobb (8 on ESPN list) only lead the league twice, largely thanks to a career that overlapped with the top pitcher (Walter Johnson) and hitter (Babe Ruth) on our list. Lou Gehrig (7 on ESPN list) led the league just once. He too overlapped with Gehrig, and later in his career, Jimmie Foxx took the honors 3 times. Finally, Hank Aaron (3 on ESPN list) only won once. Aaron’s tally is a combination of playing at the same time as Willie Mays and Bob Gibson, and the fact that his career represented an overall body of work that may be more impressive for its sustained excellence, than for a few incredible seasons

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    Quote Originally Posted by smapdi View Post
    Yes, but my point is the "one against the field" approach is a narrow route to answer to a broad question and can lead to unexpected results. If the question is "who was a better home run hitter, Kiner or Aaron?" and I decided to settle it by seeing who led the league most, then the answer is obviously Kiner. This takes into account nothing to do with longevity, consistency, or other aspects that might make one player better than another, because what does "better" mean? Nothing intrinsically in comparative discussions like this.
    For sure. My point is that we do that currently when we discuss the number MVP awards or Cy Young Awards a player has won. I feel like this approach improves on that metric, despite being a very flawed metric for truly making a list of all-time greats. As my final bullet notes, 3 of ESPN's top 10 all time were left off this list (of players who lead the league 3 times or more). At the same time, I do think it helps highlight the sheer dominance of players like Ruth, Mays and Johnson...

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    I nominate Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose and Nap Lajoie. Jeter?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Topnotchsy View Post
    I think there's a huge difference between using a stat like home runs and a stat like WAR which is a composite of a wide range of other stats. WAR is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it considers many factors...
    Does WAR factor in that Lou Gehrig batted behind Babe Ruth. NO! What protection in that order did Gehrig have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Topnotchsy View Post
    There are many ways to try to figure out who the best players are in baseball history. One basic approach is to look at who won the MVP awards the most times. In theory the MVP award is the best player in each league but historically that has not been the case. In the early days, precursors to the MVP award had really strange voting guidelines, which resulted in Babe Ruth only winning the award once. Plus voters have shown over the years that if the same player is the best each year, they will not keep voting for him (see Mike Trout and Willie Mays). Finally, we now recognize that certain stats (such as RBI) have historically been overvalued in determining how good a player is (since they are more a function of who is batting in front of you) and others (such as OBP) have been undervalued.

    To take another look I decided to ask a basic question: Who was the best player in each league each season? I chose to use Baseball-Reference.com's WAR, a composite stat that, while not perfect, does a decent job of capturing all other stats into one number. (It's definitely not perfect, but I don't think there is a better stat.

    Looking back to the 1870's, there were only 23 players who lead the league in WAR 3 times or more throughout their career:

    Babe Ruth 10
    Willie Mays 9
    Walter Johnson 8
    Rogers Hornsby 7
    Ted Williams 6
    Barry Bonds 6
    Cy Young 6
    Alex Rodriguez 5
    Mickey Mantle 5
    Mike Trout 5
    Pete Alexander 5
    Roger Clemens 4
    Albert Pujols 4
    Honus Wagner 4
    Stan Musial 4
    Cal Ripken 3
    Carl Yastrzemski 3
    Jimmie Foxx 3
    Bob Gibson 3
    Christy Mathewson3
    Greg Maddux 3
    John Clarkson 3
    Kid Nichols 3



    There are a number of interesting insights that this, and an expanded list reveal:

    • 9 pitchers made the list (out of 23 total). Given that pitchers rarely win the MVP, and the fact that many of these pitchers played before MVP awards were given out, it is not surprising to see more names on this list than a list of the players who won the most MVP awards. It is also not surprising that many of the pitchers played at the dawn of professional baseball since it is easier to lead the league when pitching 50 games and 400+ innings, than 32 games and 225 innings. It is perhaps more surprising that Maddux and Clemens made the list. And possibly most remarkable modern player is Mike Trout, who took exactly 5 seasons to accumulate 5 league-leading seasons and enter the top 11 all-time in this stat.
    • Any big surprise inclusions? No one in the list above much of a surprise. Looking at the list it is pretty much a list of inner circle Hall of Famers with a couple of players still playing and guys like Bonds and Clemens who would be inner circle Hall of Famers if judged by numbers alone. Maybe the first surprise was Camilo Pascual who led the AL in WAR twice (and finished 3rd one other time). Largely a forgotten name, Pascual had a very impressive peak, assisted by the fact that he pitched close to 17-18 complete games in his best seasons. Interestingly, Pascual never got a single Cy Young vote.
    • Who is missing? 3 players in ESPN’s top 10 all-time did not make this list. Ty Cobb (8 on ESPN list) only lead the league twice, largely thanks to a career that overlapped with the top pitcher (Walter Johnson) and hitter (Babe Ruth) on our list. Lou Gehrig (7 on ESPN list) led the league just once. He too overlapped with Ruth (obviously), and later in his career, Jimmie Foxx took the honors 3 times. Finally, Hank Aaron (3 on ESPN list) only won once. Aaron’s tally is a combination of playing at the same time as Willie Mays and Bob Gibson, and the fact that his career represented an overall body of work that may be more impressive for its sustained excellence, than for a few incredible seasons
    If we utilized the “keep it simple” approach, then Barry “Big Head” Bonds would lead the pack with 7 MVPS.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nosterbor View Post
    Does WAR factor in that Lou Gehrig batted behind Babe Ruth. NO! What protection in that order did Gehrig have?
    Do you really think Ruth saw better pitches because Gehrig hit behind him?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosterbor View Post
    Does WAR factor in that Lou Gehrig batted behind Babe Ruth. NO! What protection in that order did Gehrig have?
    WAR doesn't believe that protection matters. Or that clutch exists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WizardofOz1982 View Post
    Do you really think Ruth saw better pitches because Gehrig hit behind him?
    YES!

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    Quote Originally Posted by death2redemptions View Post
    WAR doesn't believe that protection matters. Or that clutch exists.
    That's because stats reflect that. Over big samples good players play well no matter the situation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyCorona View Post
    For the record, I think Barry is the only player with a hip hop song named after him....I think that should count

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinbreaker View Post



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