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.

[table id=34 /]

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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topper009
topper009
8 years ago

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.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

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

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

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.

nightfly
8 years ago

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

nightfly
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Nice. Thanks Doug!

Jeff Hill
Jeff Hill
8 years ago

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

kds
kds
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Hill

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.

James Smyth
8 years ago
Reply to  kds

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

BUT

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

birtelcom
birtelcom
8 years ago

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?

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

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… Read more »

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

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.

nightfly
8 years ago
Reply to  bstar

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,… Read more »

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  bstar

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.

nightfly
8 years ago
Reply to  bstar

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.

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  bstar

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.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

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

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

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.

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

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

dannyc
dannyc
8 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

And don’t forget Louis Clark Brock!

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
8 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

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.

birtelcom
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

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.

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago

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): 1985… Read more »

Michael Sullivan
Michael Sullivan
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

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… Read more »

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago

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).

kds
kds
8 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

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).

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago

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… Read more »

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago

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

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

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.

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

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

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

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.

Timmy Pea
Timmy Pea
8 years ago

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.

Jason Z
8 years ago

I find this 5 year perspective fascinating Doug. It reminded me of a player who has been largely forgotten. 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… Read more »

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

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.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason Z

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.