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?


Comments

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

    • That was just to see if you were paying attention. But, definitely worth a mention under notables.

      Mattingly is one of 50 players who played for the Yankees in 10 or more seasons. Only 3 of those 50 never played in the World Series – Mattingly with 14 seasons, and Horace Clark and Jake Gibbs at 10 seasons.

    • 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.

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

  1. 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

    • Had to go with the Big Hurt. Somehow, seemed weird to have a backup DH, especially another RH hitter, so I didn’t add a second DH.

      But, I should have had Edgar as a Notable. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. 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)?

    • I went back and forth between Palmeiro and Delgado. Ultimately, I couldn’t ignore the 26 WAR difference, even with PED consideration.

    • 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 Mauer will never get there as a catcher. And Joe Torre was better than Jason Kendall.

      How could we test this further? Look at teams whose wins exceed their WAR by a certain amount and see if the same catchers keep showing up? Look at good catchers who were traded in their primes and see how their teams’ W-L records changed year-to-year?

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

      • 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 hit less than one-third of his career HR by the age of 33. His age 32-39 peak must be one of the latest (and longest) ever.

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

  4. 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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 game later that season
      on a day when the Braves gave away T-Shirts commemorating this event.

      I just read a story about this, and it appears he was the victim
      of a home invasion. Apparently he had just received his pension
      check the day before.

      It is sad that so many retired and current players continue to be targeted in their native countries due to their wealth.

      Usually these stories are about kidnapping and ransom demands.

      I give these players alot of credit for returning to their roots
      after their playing days are over. You hear stories about how much
      they give back. I wonder what affect this will have on those players.

    • 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.

  6. 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 being a faster runner). Thomas also has a 20 point lead in OPS+…

    Thoughts…

    • 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 was Frank Thomas, and he played a MUCH easier position. So the nod in D goes to Grif. But as for overall, if I were starting a team and could have either one (starting as a rookie) for his entire career, I might take Griffey – but only by the slimmest of margins.

  7. 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 by his “let’s
    play two,” attitude invokes sympathy for his plight.

    Both Appling and Banks are HOF’ers, so I just wondered why?

    • Just because Appling played his entire career at short, and did so well (only one season with negative dWAR after becoming a regular). I also liked Appling’s .399 OBP compared to Banks at .330. Their career OPS are just 32 points apart, despite Banks’ massive power edge. That power, plus playing at two positions, also makes Banks a more desirable guy coming off the bench.

      Curious that the Cubs moved Banks to first base as early as they did (in his age 31 season). Perhaps they didn’t know how good he was defensively (12.4 dWAR over 8 seasons). Or, maybe they just thought he (and his HRs) would last longer in a less-demanding defensive position. Doesn’t appear it was to make room for a new can’t miss shortstop (5-year vet Andre Rodgers, with 4.6 career WAR, succeeded Banks at short).

      • It could also be pointed out that Appling had 14 seasons with a .300+ BA compared to Banks’ 2. And despite his lack of power Appling did drive in a decent number of runs. His 162 game career averages are 3 HR and 75 RBI. He holds the seasonal record for most RBI with 8 HR or fewer with 6 HR and 128 RBI in 1936.

      • Doug:

        I vaguely remember that Ernie had an injury that hampered him his last year playing short. He only started 102 games at that position and missed 16 altogether after running without injuries for many years. Could be his range was lessened.

      • I think Banks was moved not because of defensive reasons, but his body was already starting to give out. His knees, it was thought, couldn’t hold up with the demands of short. (thinks that’s from somewhere in the BJHA)

    • Or why not Cap Anson?

      I was just looking at players who could have played in the World Series.

      The guys before 1903 will have to wait for an all-time 19th century all-star team post.

      • Fair enough. I could have named Anson and a dozen others but only mentioned Galvin because he’s one of the most prolific pitchers of all time.

        That said, I didn’t know this was a post 1903 20th century team. I read your selection criteria carefully and saw no mention of a demarcation line regarding years and/or eras. As far as I know the first World Series was played in 1884, and Galvin played until 1892, so he *could* have played in the World Series.

      • But then again I realize that 19th-century competitions are not officially recognized as part of World Series history by Major League Baseball, as it considers 19th-century baseball to be a prologue to the modern baseball era.

        It always bothered me that the pioneers of the game who were playing for pennies have been relegated to 2nd class status to this day.

        • You’re right, BM.

          That is an institutional bias for a lot of reasons
          – it was so long ago
          – the game was in a ongoing state of flux with significant rules changes on a regular basis (even yearly, at times)
          – the basic statistics are there, but legitimate doubts persist as to their completeness and accuracy
          – the game was changing to a business. Early on the teams (especially in the Troys, Roanokes, and other smaller cities) often consisted mostly of the best ballplayers from those towns or regions, rather than the best ballplayers the owners of those teams could hire in an open market.
          – and, so forth

          So, the 19th century (or prior to 1893, at any rate) was just a different game. Which is why, I supsect, that we tend to treat it separately – too hard to compare those apples and oranges.

          • Excellent points Doug, and as far as apples and oranges comparisons go, the Pre-Integration Era Committee is going to comparing apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, etc. when they do their evaluations of candidates “whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1876-1946 era.”

  8. 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.

    • 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.

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