Never Got a Ring – The All-Time Non-World Series Team

The 2012 World Series has come and gone, with a number of players on both teams (Joaquin Benoit, Jose Valverde, Prince FielderMarco Scutaro, among others)  making their World Series debut. Other players, though, have gone their entire careers without ever having a moment on baseball’s biggest stage. This piece is a tribute to those men.

To qualify for this team, I looked at retired players who never appeared in a World Series game. Possibly, some of these players played on league championship teams and missed the World Series through injury or otherwise being left off the series roster. The vast majority, though, compiled notable, distinguished or even HOF careers without ever playing on a league championship team.

Here are the starting nine:

Player G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Pos WAR Bonafides
Jason Kendall 2085 8702 1030 2195 394 35 75 744 721 686 .288 .366 .378 95 C 38.3 5th in games caught
Rafael Palmeiro 2831 12046 1663 3020 585 38 569 1835 1353 1348 .288 .371 .515 132 1B 66.1 6th in 1B WAR
Nap Lajoie 2480 10460 1504 3242 657 163 82 1599 516 346 .338 .380 .466 150 2B 102.2 18th/20th in WAR/BA, HOF
Ron Santo 2243 9397 1138 2254 365 67 342 1331 1108 1343 .277 .362 .464 125 3B 66.6 7th in 3B WAR, HOF
Luke Appling 2422 10254 1319 2749 440 102 45 1116 1302 528 .310 .399 .398 113 SS 69.9 7th/1st in SS WAR/BB, HOF
Billy Williams 2488 10519 1410 2711 434 88 426 1475 1045 1046 .290 .361 .492 133 LF 59.9 8th in LF WAR & Hits, HOF
Ken Griffey, Jr. 2671 11304 1662 2781 524 38 630 1836 1312 1779 .284 .370 .538 136 CF 79.2 6th in HR, likely HOFer
Harry Heilmann 2147 8960 1291 2660 542 151 183 1539 856 550 .342 .410 .520 148 RF 67.3 12th in BA, HOF
Frank Thomas 2322 10075 1494 2468 495 12 521 1704 1667 1397 .301 .419 .555 156 DH 69.7 10th in BB, Top 20 in HR, OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/26/2012.

And, the pitching staff:

Player W L ERA G CG SHO SV IP SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Pos Bonafides
Fergie Jenkins 284 226 3.34 664 267 49 7 4500.2 3192 115 1.142 8.3 1.0 2.0 6.4 3.20 RHSP CYA, HOF
Gaylord Perry 314 265 3.11 777 303 53 11 5350.0 3534 117 1.181 8.3 0.7 2.3 5.9 2.56 RHSP 8th in SO, CYA, HOF
Phil Niekro 318 274 3.35 864 245 45 29 5404.0 3342 115 1.268 8.4 0.8 3.0 5.6 1.85 RHSP 4th in IP, HOF
Chuck Finley 200 173 3.85 524 63 15 0 3197.1 2610 115 1.376 8.6 0.9 3.7 7.3 1.96 LHSP 11th in LH WAR
Wilbur Wood 164 156 3.24 651 114 24 57 2684.0 1411 114 1.232 8.7 0.7 2.4 4.7 1.95 SWING T-1st in 40 GS Seasons
Jeff Montgomery 46 52 3.27 700 0 0 304 868.2 733 135 1.244 8.1 0.8 3.1 7.6 2.48 RHRP 154 ERA+ over 10 yrs
Lee Smith 71 92 3.03 1022 0 0 478 1289.1 1251 132 1.256 7.9 0.6 3.4 8.7 2.57 RHRP 1st in Car. SV for 13 yrs
Billy Wagner 47 40 2.31 853 0 0 422 903.0 1196 187 0.998 6.0 0.8 3.0 11.9 3.99 LHRP 2nd in RP ERA+
Dan Plesac 65 71 3.64 1064 0 0 158 1072.0 1041 117 1.286 8.2 0.9 3.4 8.7 2.59 LOOGY 6th in Games
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/26/2012.

Rounding out the 25 man roster is this bench:

In case of injury, a deluxe 40 man roster.

Other Notables (incl. active players)

What do you think? Who would make your team of the best players never to play in the World Series?

Leave a Reply

58 Comments on "Never Got a Ring – The All-Time Non-World Series Team"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David
Guest

How about Don Mattingly?

Dave V.
Guest

That was my first thought as well.

Hartvig
Guest

Amazingly I had no idea that Mattingly had never appeared in a World Series.

My first thought was Ernie Banks & I think I would start him at shortstop over Appling although neither would exactly be a bad choice.

To think this team would probably kick the snot out the the 1927 Yankees over the course of a typical season and yet not a single ring among them.

Great subject for a post.

Richard Chester
Guest

The Yankees appeared in the WS in 1981 and then not again until 1996. Mattingly’s career started in 1982 and ended in 1995.

Ed
Guest

The All-Time Non-World Series Team aka the All-Time Chicago Cubs Team. 🙂

cubbies
Guest

painful article to read- one of the few “best of” teams where i hate to see so many cubbies.

c’mon theo… weve gotta make it sooner or later…

Wine Curmudgeon
Guest

Where’s Ernie?

scott-53
Guest

On the bench (infielders)

topper009
Guest

By the title I thought this would be a Cubs all-star team. Haha.

Niekro never won a Cy Young and you listed Aramis Ramirez as an outfielder. Pretty nice list otherwise

birtelcom
Editor

Edgar Martinez?

Dr. Doom
Guest

I would’ve liked to have seen the criminally underrated Carlos Delgado on the list of infielders.

Beyond that, though, good list. When I saw Jason Kendall listed as the catcher, I thought, “there MUST be a better catcher than that!” But I really don’t think there is. I’m not normally one to go for such theories without evidence, but mightn’t it mean something that the top, let’s say 25 catchers of all-time have all played in a WS, while that’s not true at any other position (excluding pitcher)?

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
This was my thought too, Doom. It’s quite a logical leap to conclude that catcher is the most important position because a lot of great catchers have played for great teams, but some of the best teams of all time have had some of the best catchers of all time. Bench won 2 WS and played in 4. Berra won 10 of 14, Dickey 7 of 8, Gabby Hartnett even played on 4 with the Cubs. On the other hand Fisk and Piazza each only made one and lost, Carter and Rodriguez only won one each, and it looks like… Read more »
scott-53
Guest

Bryan

Did the pitchers on this list have catchers that stayed with their teams.

scott-53
Guest

@ 20: Typo Should have been a question.

Niekro,Perry,Jenkins,Finley and Wood all had good won/loss records for some pretty bad teams.

Richard Chester
Guest

Other players to consider: Mickey Vernon, Rocky Colavito, Ralph Kiner, Babe Herman, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Whitaker and Trammell played in the ’84 Series.

Richard Chester
Guest

Thanks for the correction. I copied the names out of a book without bothering to check. The book is in error.

Dave V.
Guest

Throw that book away to have such a bogus fact! 😉

John Autin
Editor

I’d definitely take Babe Herman over Cy Williams.

Doug
Guest
Yeah, I missed looking at Herman. He’s got the edge over Williams on WAR (in 25% fewer games) and by a bit in OPS+. Williams has the power edge by a fair margin, though Herman has the SLG edge as he was a doubles machine (6 straight years over 35, 8 years over 30, 11 years over 25), and pretty prolific in triples too (5 straight years in double figures). It’s interesting to think what Williams might have done if he had been born ten years later. He played the first third of his career in the dead-ball era and… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Herman was pretty unlucky is missing the WS. He played for the Cubs in 1933 and 1934, between their 1932 and 1935 NL championships.

bstar
Guest

I was maybe going to argue for Andre Dawson over Billy Williams in the starting outfield until I realized you went LF-CF-RF instead of three OFs regardless of position. But Dawson over Billy Williams is more of a very slight preference due to me seeing Dawson play his whole career than a big difference between the two.

Yeah, it’s kind of sad that this club is so Cub-heavy. This very un-hardcore, bandwagon-jumping Cubs fan hopes for better times ahead.

Ed
Guest

Wait, I thought you were a Braves fan Bstar???

bstar
Guest

I am, to the core. But I jumped on the Cubs bandwagon in ’84 and ’89 in my younger days and had a blast rooting for them those years. So Cubs are #2 team and the Cincinnati Redlegs, my dad’s team, is #3.

But they’re a distant 2nd and 3rd. Very distant.

Richard Chester
Guest

You could also toss in Ernie Lombardi.

Richard Chester
Guest

You better toss him right back out, how could I forget his famous snooze?

kds
Guest

That book above, (#8), put you in a snooze! That should be your story and stick to it.

Richard Chester
Guest

Actually I thought of Lombardi on my own, I guess I was in a self-induced snooze. There are 3 main sources from which I retrieve information (in addition to BR). They are The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac, the SABR Baseball List & Record Book and the Charlton Chronology. They are all rich with information but, unfortunately, all contain a number of errors. When I can I try to verify info but sometimes I forget.

JDV
Guest

I was surprised to see Grich, who was with the ’69 & ’70 Orioles, but, as you note, he was a late call-up each year and not on their post-season roster.

JDV
Guest

Check that…’70 & ’71.

JDV
Guest

Separately, has anyone read of the murder this morning of Pasqual Perez in the Dominican Republic?

Jason Z
Guest
I had not. This is horrible news. Anyone who followed baseball in the 1980’s and had the Superstation, (yes on both counts) has to be saddened by this news. I will always remember how shocked I was when he came back with Montreal in 1987 and became basically unhittable for the rest of 1987 and 1988. He led the NL in WHIP in 1988. I know this has been mentioned in the past, but my other powerful memory is Perez missing a start for the Braves because he got lost on I285 that looped around Atlanta. I went to a… Read more »
brp
Guest

Heard about it at lunch… nasty stuff. He did lead the NL in JCAR (Jheri-Curl Above Replacement); George Bell the AL leader, of course.

Jeff
Guest
It may just be my opinion but does anyone look at Ken Griffey’s numbers vs. Frank Thomas’ and think…Hmmm, Thomas was a better hitter. We all know Griffey is more valuable overall due to his ouytfield greatness but pure hitting I’ll take Frank hands down. Thomas in 700 fewer AB’s had 17 points in average and SLG% better than Jr, 49 points in OBP, 355 more BB’s, 382 fewer K’s and their RBI per game is nearly identical. Griff had him in runs by 168 which a full 700 AB’s would cut that in half to maybe a third(Griff obviously… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Never knew this was in question. Maybe in 2001 or so, when Griffey was healthy and Thomas was looking like he was on the downswing of his career, and people were having fantasies of Griffey breaking the HR record, people thought this. Even in 1999, when they named Griffey player of the decade (which was a joke – Bonds practically lapped him), I don’t know that there was an argument that Griffey was the superior offensive player. It’s very obvious (to me, at least) that Thomas was the better offensively. As for Griffey’s defense… well, it wasn’t great. But either… Read more »
Jason Z
Guest
Doug- I am curious as to why you picked “Old Aches and Pains” instead of Ernie Banks at shortstop. I remember in the 70’s and 80’s Ernie Banks being held up as the poster boy for someone who never played in the World Series. Tt seemed whenever an article apppeared on the subject, Banks would be prominently mentioned. I attribute this to two factors. He played for the Cubs who up until 1945 were second to the NYG in National League history with 10 NL Pennants. A glorius tradition indeed. Since then, none. Secondly, Banks enthusiastic nature that is embodied… Read more »
Brooklyn Mick
Guest

Doug, wondering why Pud Galvin isn’t mentioned in the discussion.

Brooklyn Mick
Guest

Can Gene Mauch be the manager? 8th all time in wins and not a Pennant to show. Unbelievable to think that he managed almost 200 more games than Casey Stengel.

Brooklyn Mick
Guest

Oops…didn’t mean to say 8th all time in wins, rather, 8th all time in games and 12th all time in wins.

Hartvig
Guest

Some time ago I looked at Mauch’s record as a manager over on B-R and as I recall he never exceeded his expected Pythagorean W-L record until near the very end of his career with the Angels and often came up well short. My interpretation of those results was that the genius at small ball reputation that some bestowed up him at the time was probably actually costing his team a few wins most years.

Hartvig
Guest

So yes, I think he would be the PERFECT manager for a team of players who never made the World Series.

jr
Guest

What about Ted Williams?

Doug
Guest

Splinter played in the 1946 WS.

wpDiscuz