5 Year WAR Leaders – Outfielders 1961-2011

In the second installment of 5-year WAR leaders since 1961, this post looks at players in outfield and DH positions. The methodology is to determine bWAR leaders for each year based on cumulative 5-year bWAR ending in that year. To qualify for the leader board, players must play 75% of their games in the period at the indicated position.

So, here are the 5-year WAR leaders. Scroll through the list or search for specific players or years using the Search bar.

5 Years EndingLFCFRFDH
1961Minnie Minoso 22.0Mickey Mantle 47.0Hank Aaron 41.5
1962Minnie Minoso 16.5Willie Mays 47.6Roger Maris 24.3
1963Minnie Minoso 9.6Willie Mays 47.4Hank Aaron 45.2
1964Billy Williams 12.6Willie Mays 50.1Hank Aaron 43.5
1965Billy Williams 19.5Willie Mays 51.4Hank Aaron 42.1
1966Carl Yastrzemski 21.8Willie Mays 50.7Hank Aaron 40.0
1967Carl Yastrzemski 30.3Willie Mays 44.4Hank Aaron 39.4
1968Carl Yastrzemski 34.2Willie Mays 40.8Roberto Clemente 35.5
1969Carl Yastrzemski 35.6Willie Mays 34.0Hank Aaron 36.3
1970Carl Yastrzemski 40.6Jim Wynn 28.3Roberto Clemente 35.2
1971Carl Yastrzemski 40.1Willie Mays 25.8Roberto Clemente 35.0
1972Carl Yastrzemski 30.6Willie Mays 23.3Roberto Clemente 31.2
1973Willie Stargell 27.6Bobby Murcer 25.4Reggie Jackson 32.2
1974Willie Stargell 28.3Bobby Murcer 24.7Reggie Jackson 29.2
1975Roy White 20.7Cesar Cedeno 28.2Reggie Jackson 28.6
1976Joe Rudi 19.6Cesar Cedeno 32.5Reggie Jackson 31.8
1977Roy White 17.1Cesar Cedeno 28.9Reggie Jackson 30.3Frank Robinson 9.5
1978Greg Luzinski 17.3Cesar Cedeno 23.5Reggie Jackson 25.9Rico Carty 10.9
1979George Foster 28.1Fred Lynn 24.7Dave Parker 30.1Rico Carty 10.1
1980George Foster 27.3Fred Lynn 21.8Dave Winfield 26.2Hal McRae 15.6
1981George Foster 25.3Andre Dawson 24.7Dave Winfield 23.5Hal McRae 10.1
1982Willie Wilson 24.1Andre Dawson 28.2Dwight Evans 21.4Hal McRae 9.6
1983Rickey Henderson 29.2Andre Dawson 30.6Jack Clark 19.5Hal McRae 9.8
1984Rickey Henderson 36.7Andre Dawson 29.3Dwight Evans 21.0Hal McRae 8.9
1985Rickey Henderson 38.1Dale Murphy 25.7Dwight Evans 22.2Don Baylor 9.1
1986Jose Cruz 20.0Dale Murphy 25.4Tony Gwynn 20.9Don Baylor 9.8
1987Tim Raines 30.7Dale Murphy 26.6Tony Gwynn 27.7Don Baylor 10.1
1988Tim Raines 28.3Brett Butler 22.9Tony Gwynn 28.9Don Baylor 5.9
1989Tim Raines 26.6Kirby Puckett 23.0Darryl Strawberry 25.7Don Baylor 2.8
1990Barry Bonds 31.9Kirby Puckett 23.2Darryl Strawberry 27.4Don Baylor 2.1
1991Barry Bonds 37.3Andy Van Slyke 23.1Darryl Strawberry 27.3Brian Downing 13.5
1992Barry Bonds 41.9Andy Van Slyke 24.8Jose Canseco 23.5Brian Downing 12.2
1993Barry Bonds 46.3Ken Griffey 28.6Tony Gwynn 18.0Harold Baines 10.8
1994Barry Bonds 45.0Ken Griffey 32.4Larry Walker 19.4Chili Davis 8.8
1995Barry Bonds 42.6Ken Griffey 31.3Larry Walker 20.3Paul Molitor 21.2
1996Barry Bonds 45.1Ken Griffey 33.7David Justice 19.6Paul Molitor 18.5
1997Barry Bonds 43.9Ken Griffey 37.7Larry Walker 22.5Edgar Martinez 23.1
1998Barry Bonds 42.6Ken Griffey 35.3Sammy Sosa 23.3Edgar Martinez 28.0
1999Barry Bonds 40.2Ken Griffey 33.5Sammy Sosa 24.9Edgar Martinez 29.7
2000Barry Bonds 41.6Ken Griffey 35.8Sammy Sosa 25.4Edgar Martinez 27.7
2001Barry Bonds 43.3Andruw Jones 30.1Sammy Sosa 30.9Edgar Martinez 27.0
2002Barry Bonds 46.7Andruw Jones 33.0Sammy Sosa 34.0Edgar Martinez 23.6
2003Barry Bonds 46.7Andruw Jones 30.9Sammy Sosa 30.6Edgar Martinez 22.1
2004Barry Bonds 56.1Jim Edmonds 36.1Vladimir Guerrero 27.9Edgar Martinez 16.8
2005Barry Bonds 47.8Jim Edmonds 36.1Ichiro Suzuki 29.9David Ortiz 13.6
2006Barry Bonds 39.9Jim Edmonds 31.3Vladimir Guerrero 27.0David Ortiz 19.0
2007Barry Bonds 31.0Carlos Beltran 28.3Vladimir Guerrero 26.0David Ortiz 23.8
2008Barry Bonds 20.7Carlos Beltran 27.7Vladimir Guerrero 24.4David Ortiz 22.0
2009Matt Holliday 19.6Grady Sizemore 27.4J.D. Drew 17.0David Ortiz 18.2
2010Matt Holliday 25.8Carlos Beltran 26.2Nick Markakis 17.8David Ortiz 15.9
2011Matt Holliday 26.1Curtis Granderson 22.6Jayson Werth 17.4David Ortiz 14.2


Barry Bonds was the LF leader his entire career, starting from his 5th year all the way through to the year after his retirement. Bonds’ WAR for that final year as leader really represented just 3 seasons as Bonds was injured almost all of the 2005 season. Even so, Bonds still managed 0.4 WAR in just 14 games that year.

WAR accumulation in RF has taken quite a hit in recent years. None of the last three 5-year leaders managed even 20 WAR over 5 years.

Qualifiers for DH under the 75% rule are fairly limited most years. Thus, Frank Robinson is the leader for the first 5 years, despite playing only four of those seasons, and playing regularly in only two. Similarly, Don Baylor remained the 5 year WAR leader 2 years after his retirement.

In the next installment are Pitchers and Catchers, plus the Overall 5 year WAR leaders among all position players.





38 thoughts on “5 Year WAR Leaders – Outfielders 1961-2011

  1. 1
    topper009 says:

    The past 4 years Holliday has put up 18.8 WAR and Ryan Braun has put up 20.3, so unless Holliday puts up 1.5 more WAR than Bruan this season there will be a new leader in LF.

    The past 4 seasons in RF:
    Rk Player WAR/pos ▾ From To
    1 Shin-Soo Choo 16.7 2008 2011
    2 Jayson Werth 14.6 2008 2011
    3 Ichiro Suzuki 14.6 2008 2011
    4 Nick Markakis 12.8 2008 2011
    5 Justin Upton 12.4 2008 2011

    So Werth will have to out WAR Choo by 2.1 this season to remain on top.

    • 3
      Ed says:

      And Kemp has a lead of 4.7 over Granderson in CF. David Ortiz’ biggest competition for DH (Thome) is now in the NL.

    • 9
      bstar says:

      I think we’re kind of in between eras for right fielders. We’ve got Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Giancarlo Stanton building up nice early starts to their careers. It may take a few more years for them to mature(Upton sure looks ready now to dominate) but I think it will only be a matter of time for at least two of these three.

  2. 2
    nightfly says:

    Would it be too complicated, or can you include the WAR numbers for each player on the next chart?

  3. 4
    Jeff Hill says:

    Just one more reason for all of us to sit back and admit how dominant a player Barry Bonds was.

    • 29
      kds says:

      Bonds was so good that he kept the lead for a year after he retired. Anyone start so well that they had the lead for a 5-year period after 4 years? My first guess would be Ted Williams 1938-1942.

      • 33
        James Smyth says:

        For the 1938-42 period (in which Williams only played 39-42), he falls short of Dimaggio:

        Joe Dimaggio 38.2
        Ted Williams 35.1
        Johnny Mize 32.6
        Mel Ott 31.1
        Joe Gordon 29.3


        He does take the crown for 1939-43 period (in which Williams only played the first four). DiMaggio and Mize also missed the 1943 season due to military service, yet crack the top five anyway.

        Ted Williams 35.1
        Joe Dimaggio 32.4
        Joe Gordon 31.5
        Charlie Keller 30.8
        Johnny Mize 26.4

  4. 6
    birtelcom says:

    Is it just me or does the 2011 trio of Holliday, Granderson and Werth not feel up to the standards of, say, Yaz/Mays/Aaron in 1967 or Bonds/Griffey/Gwynn in 1993?

    • 7
      Doug says:

      I don’t think it’s just you.

      Do you feel any better about Holliday/Beltran/Markakis? Or, maybe Holliday/Sizemore/Drew? Thought not.

      • 8
        Dr. Doom says:

        I guess it depends on how Matt Holliday’s career pans out. I mean, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’d be a legit Hall of Fame candidate by the time it’s all said and done. Let’s say he retires with a .300 average, and over a .500 SLG. Let’s say, 2400 hits, 350 HRs. Add in a batting title and RBI title the year he placed 2nd in MVP voting. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he ends up around 50 WAR. Not a guarantee, by any means – but this is certainly reasonable (though not super likely). If he puts together that kind of a career, there’d be one HOF player on those lists, with Beltran also being a good saber-type candidate.

        • 14
          bstar says:

          His rate states really are pretty unreal. Nobody talks about batting average much anymore, but a career .315 for a right-handed hitter over the age of 30 is just phenomenal. And the 137 OPS+ is impressive as well.

          • 17
            nightfly says:

            Agreed on Beltran. Oddly, sort of a reverse Jeter going on for him. Jete is sometimes overvalued for his contributions; Beltran is often dismissed because people think he should be doing more, all the time. Jete gets the Mr. November and Captain Clutch nods; Beltran looks at one filthy curveball at just the wrong time and it’s like he never hit eight thousand homers for the Astros in the playoffs. (And he doesn’t have a nifty nickname, either. He’s just Carlos Ivan Beltran. Nobody called him “Beltin’ Beltran” or “Carlos the Terrible” like they would have in the forties.)

            BTW, he’s over 60 bWAR for his career, and reasonably has four or five years as at least a productive part-timer. I will always be a fan.

          • 18
            bstar says:

            My post was about Holliday, not Beltran, but I completely agree about everything you said about Carlos. Here’s to hoping he can stay healthy for the next few years and compile some more WAR and get over the 70+ threshold.

          • 23
            nightfly says:

            I messed up the reply buttons! FWIW, I’m enjoying Matt Holliday’s career too. His time in St Louis is solidifying his reputation, I think – he’s more than a Coors creation. It will be interesting to see what he does as the anchor of the Cards lineup now that Hombre has gone west.

          • 35
            bstar says:

            What’s really interesting about Holliday is that he’s actually been better in his post-Coors time than before(OPS+ of 147 after vs. 131 while a Rockie). I can’t really think of one other guy who’s managed to do that.

      • 20
        Ed says:

        To be fair, Sizemore’s career was wrecked by injuries. Through age 25, he had 25.9 WAR and was on a HOF path.

    • 10
      Hartvig says:

      The competition at some of those positions in the ’60’s was truly amazing. Mantle cracked the list only once and Frank Robinson and Al Kaline never did.

      • 11
        Hartvig says:

        Mantle actually put up a 7.1 WAR in ’62- and managed to lose his lead.

      • 12
        dannyc says:

        And don’t forget Louis Clark Brock!

      • 13
        Dr. Doom says:

        I guess Mantle missing the list doesn’t surprise me that much. If we were to see a ’50s list, I have a feeling that Mantle and Mays would be quite dominant on that one. Mantle in the ’60s wasn’t nearly as dominant – even though he was still pretty ridiculously great.

        • 16
          birtelcom says:

          Yes. Mantle was not just the top WAR CFer, he was the top WAR player overall in the majors, for each of the five- year sequences ending in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961.

  5. 15

    Rickey being on top in 1983 includes his -1.2 in 1979 (-1.5 dWAR).

    Jose Cruz led LF from ’82 – ’86 ???
    Maybe not.
    Cruz had 20 WAR.

    Rickey in those 5 years had 36.7
    Rickey played CF in 85-86.
    However, from 82-84 Rickey had 21.1.

    Tim Raines was a CF in 1984.
    Omit his 1984 and he still had 20.4 from 82-86.

    Cruz looks like 3rd to me.

    Here’s Rickey and Rock’s 5-year totals throughout the 80’s, NOT broken up by position.
    Starting in 1981-1985, when Raines had 5 full years (Rickey had 8.6 in 1980):

    24.5 Raines
    38.1 Rickey

    25.8 Raines
    36.7 Rickey

    30.7 Raines
    34.1 Rickey

    28.3 Raines
    33.1 Rickey

    26.6 Raines
    35.4 Rickey

    21.9 Raines
    35.4 Rickey

    19.4 Raines
    34.8 Rickey

    18.6 Raines
    35.7 Rickey

    • 19
      Doug says:

      The way the filtering works on B-R PI is it includes or excludes a player entirely from selection based on whatever games played threshold is set. Once that filtering has occurred, selected players are then evaluated on WAR accumulated in the period. So, if Henderson or Raines does not play the requisite number of games at the position during the period, they are excluded before we even start counting WAR. So, it doesn’t matter if they actually had more WAR in the years they were playing at the position. It’s just the way the querying works in PI.

      In the case of Cruz, it is a correct statement to say that “Of players who played at least 75% of their games in LF from 1982 to 1986, Jose Cruz had the most WAR”. Note that the following different statement may also be true: “Rickey Henderson (or Tim Raines) had the most WAR of any player while playing LF from 1982 to 1986”. So, different measurements and different results. What is being measured here is the first statement.

      For the record, for 1982-86, Raines played 73.2% of his games in LF, so he just missed being selected. Henderson played just 58.1% of his games in LF in that period.

      • 21
        Michael Sullivan says:

        well, this explains why we don’t see more of Rickey on this list, because he swapped into CF or RF or got DHd just enough to miss qualifying for a bunch of 5-year spans that his production in LF alone would have topped it. I was wonder why Raines was the leader for 3 periods in a row at a time that I remember him being great, but Henderson being even better. And then of course “Jose Cruz? Really?” It’s because of that whole season in CF in 1986.

        IMO, a 50% or 60% cutoff is more reasonable in terms of how we think about players and positions. It’s what I see most often for careers.

        • 25

          For outfielders, the 75% cutoff makes sense. But what would be fascinating to see is a top-3 rolling WAR for OF, not specified by position. (That is not a criticism, Doug. I think you’re doing some great work here).

          • 31
            kds says:

            I’m not so sure that 75% is right. There is so little difference between LF and RF that more than a few players would not be eligible because they moved back and forth between the positions. I don’t think Babe Ruth would ever qualify under these rules. We have seen how it affects Rickey, Rock and Musial. It might be interesting to look at 3 OF rather than 1 at each of the 3 positions. We see something similar in the infield, (3B, 2B, SS, not 1B).

  6. 24
    Tmckelv says:

    Not a lot of full-time DHs in the 1980’s, I guess…culminating in a 2.1 WAR for the DH leader (Don Baylor) in 1990.

    Nice to see Roy White grab a couple LF spots in the 1970’s (albeit after his best years were behind him, when he was behind Yaz).

    1970’s CF had some guys that were outstanding in their 20’s but slowed down in their 30’s…Murcer, Cedeno & Lynn.

    RF has gotten really weak as of late. The only other instances of a position having 3 years of <20 WAR was LF in the ealry 1960s (Minoso/B.Williams) and mid 1970's (Rudi, White, Luzinski). Markakis, Werth and Drew are still young, so we will still see how their careers turn out, but I think all of the 5 mentioned LF were better than these three.

  7. 26
    MikeD says:

    Chart confirms what I suspected. RF right now is weaker than at any point since I can remember, perhaps all time.

    • 27
      topper009 says:

      Well right now the active RF WAR leaders are:

      Rk Player WAR/pos PA R H HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
      1 Vladimir Guerrero 59.2 9059 1328 2590 449 1496 181 .318 .379 .553
      2 Bobby Abreu 58.7 9669 1412 2384 284 1325 393 .293 .397 .481
      3 Ichiro Suzuki 54.5 8060 1127 2428 95 605 423 .326 .370 .421
      4 J.D. Drew 45.9 6153 944 1437 242 795 87 .278 .384 .489
      5 Magglio Ordonez 34.6 7745 1076 2156 294 1236 94 .309 .369 .502

      Nothing amazing but Guerrero and Ichiro seem like HOF locks to me.

      • 28
        topper009 says:

        which link should I use from a play index table to actually show up well here?

      • 30
        MikeD says:

        Hmmm, that actually confirms my fear. These are all “past prime” players. Three of them don’t have jobs (Vlad, Drew and Ordonez) and the last two are on the downslope.

        The three-year run of RFers posting in the 17 WAR range over a cumulative five-year period is the lowest on the charts. Now it may simply be that there is no superstar-level player in RF, but the overall depth is good, but that would require a different slice. My guess is it would still show the position is weak right now.

  8. 32
    Timmy Pea says:

    Juan Pierre is hitting 281 so far this spring. I think he makes the opening day roster and is the catalyst for Philly to win it all.

  9. 34
    Jason Z says:

    I find this 5 year perspective fascinating Doug.

    It reminded me of a player who has been largely

    He had 37.1 WAR for his age 21-26 seasons.

    As it turned out, he couldn’t maintain this pace,
    but to look back on his career now is quite an
    eye opener.

    Naturally I am talking about Cesar Cedeno.

    I find Cedeno to be similar to Al Kaline in the sense
    that both excelled offensively at the start of their
    careers and then were never able to reach those
    heights again.

    Kaline had a long healthy career and made the HOF.

    Believe me I am not saying Cedeno should be in the HOF, but
    this chart reminds us that there was a time when he was
    probably considered to be one of the best young players in MLB.

    As this was just before I started breathing baseball, I would
    love to hear the recollections of those who saw him play in
    his early prime.

    • 36
      Doug says:


      I did see Cedeno play in his prime, when I was in my teens. The next player I saw who reminded me of Cedeno was Eric Davis.

      Davis had more HR power, but Cedeno could really crank the doubles. Which is probably a good thing for Cedeno since he played in the Astrodome most of his career.

      Both guys had speed to burn and could make some incredible running catches in the outfield, although neither fares well in dWAR scores.

      • 38
        Ed says:

        Doug – The Cedeno/Davis comparison is interesting. Both “should” be in the HOF. But Davis couldn’t stay healthy. And Cedeno…well his career is a head scratcher, a bit like Fregosi.

    • 37
      Ed says:

      Jason –

      I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Kaline excelled offensively at the beginning of his career and never reached the same heights again. His highest OPS+ was at at 32. His third highest was at age 31. At ages 36 and 37, his OPS+ was 144 and 149. The “problem” for Kaline is that overall offense in the entire league declined while he was aging. That, and he tended to miss 10+ games every year.

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