Baseball Aristocracy: The Man and the Earl

Although there has already been much discussion in comments to other posts on the passing of Stan Musial and Earl Weaver, a separate thread for these all-time greats is more than appropriate.

Weaver’s teams were a cumulative 420 regular season games over .500 with him as manager. In the history of the American League, only Joe McCarthy was more games over .500 as a manager in the AL as well his for his career as a whole.

A Play Index search that I did produces just three guys: Stan Musial, Joe Carter and Felipe Alou. What did I search? Clue: it was a career, regular season search.

Here’s a pretty good all-time NL everday starting lineup by position:
C: Bench
1B: Musial (played more games there than any other individual position, if you count the three OF positions separately)
2B: Hornsby
SS: Wagner
3B: Schmidt
LF: Bonds
CF: Mays
RF: Aaron

47 thoughts on “Baseball Aristocracy: The Man and the Earl

  1. 1
    Andy says:

    I don’t understand the significance of the lineup you listed.

  2. 2
    birtelcom says:

    Arguably the best lineup of NL players you could put on a Field of Dreams, with each player at the position they played most frequently. Relevant because Musial is in it.

  3. 3
    kds says:

    Note that until yesterday 6 of the 8 were living. To get a best living NL team we put Pujols at 1B, Morgan at 2B, and the Wiz at SS. Starting pitchers could be Maddux, Seaver, Niekro, Gibson and Carlton, with Hoffman to close.

    Harder to come up with such a great team associated with Weaver because we are limited to Orioles of a certain period. Still, we have Murray at 1B, Grich (well qualified for the HOF) at 2B, Cal at SS, Brooksie at 3B and Frank in RF. Probably Dempsey behind the plate, Blair in CF and Singleton did play almost 2000 innings in LF though a lot more in RF. Pitching of course starts with Palmer, then McNally and Cuellar.

    I urge everyone to read the section on Weaver in Bill James’ book on Baseball Managers. He did a great many things very differently from other managers, with a great record of sucess.

    • 9
      bstar says:

      I think I’d pick Belanger as my Weaver shortstop over Ripken. Earl only managed Cal for the first two years of his career (3.9 Weaver WAR), while Belanger accumulated 36-37 WAR from mid ’68 to ’81 under Weaver’s guidance.

    • 32
      e pluribus unum says:

      Thanks for reminding us of James’s book, kds. I took your advice and re-read the section on Weaver (and then a few more). James is consistently good, and so was Earl. I always rooted against Weaver’s teams (at least in the Series), and always really liked Weaver and his players.

  4. 4
    kds says:

    Note that until yesterday 6 of the 8 were living. To get a best living NL team we put Pujols at 1B, Morgan at 2B, and the Wiz at SS. Starting pitchers could be Maddux, Seaver, Niekro, Gibson and Carlton, with Hoffman to close.

    Harder to come up with such a great team associated with Weaver because we are limited to Orioles of a certain period. Still, we have Murray at 1B, Grich (well qualified for the HOF) at 2B, Cal at SS, Brooksie at 3B and Frank in RF. Probably Dempsey behind the plate, Blair in CF and Singleton did play almost 2000 innings in LF though a lot more in RF. Pitching of course starts with Palmer, then McNally and Cuellar.

    I urge everyone to read the section on Weaver in Bill James’ book on Baseball Managers. He did a great many things very differently from other managers, with a great record of success.

  5. 6
    GrandyMan says:

    Coincidentally, typing “Stan the Man” in the BBRef search bar turns up not only Stan Musial, but also relief pitcher Don Stanhouse, nicknamed “Stan the Man Unusual,” who once played for Earl Weaver. I’m too young to remember him, but apparently he was pretty unusual – and he also gave Weaver fits:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Stanhouse

    • 28
      Doug says:

      Stanhouse’s other nickname was “full pack”. He worked very slowly and seldom had clean 1-2-3 innings. But, he usually would work his way out of his jams in the end. The nickname referred to Weaver’s chain-smoking (he would sneak drags in the tunnel between pitches) as in Stanhouse worked so slowly, Earl could smoke a full pack while he was on the mound.

  6. 7
    Hartvig says:

    For the AL I’d counter with:
    C- Berra or maybe Cochran (I don’t care what WAR says, neither Pudge is going ahead of Yogi)
    1b- Gehrig
    2b- Collins
    SS- Rodriguez or Ripken
    3b- Brett or Matthews (I assume that Eddie’s brief stay in Houston doesn’t count against him since Hammerin’ Hank’s stop in Milwaukee when it was still in the AL didn’t)
    LF- Teddy Ballgame
    CF- Cobb or Mantle
    RF- I’m drawing a blank with this one…

    I wouldn’t bet a nickel on which team would win but I’d give my right arm to see it.

    • 11
      Ed says:

      Hartvig – One correction. Mathews played almost his entire career in the NL. His only time in the AL was his last two years in Detroit.

      And yeah, the AL has a big hole in right field, doesn’t it?

    • 12
      Robbs says:

      Assuming Hartvig drawing a blank on Kaline is joke.

    • 34
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      Hartvig,

      I’d also mention Lajoie at second, Boggs at third, and Speaker in CF, though I agree with the first names you list at each position.

      You didn’t mention pitchers, but the AL has gotta start with Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove, and the NL with Greg Maddux, Grover Cleveland Alexander,Warren Spahn and Christy Mathewson.

      There are relatively few modern players because movement between the leagues is so much common since the early 60s, and of course much more so since free agency in the late 70s.

  7. 8
    bstar says:

    Stan Musial, Joe Carter, and Felipe Alou are the only players in history (Play Index era) to play at least 300 games at 1B, RF, CF, and LF.

  8. 14
    Robbs says:

    Non Hall players all-time nine including recent hall of shamers looking good based on stats alone.

    C-Piazza
    1B McGwire
    2B Biggio

    • 15
      Robbs says:

      Sorry fat thumbs
      C Piazza
      1B McGwire or Palmiero
      2B Biggio or Whitaker
      ss Trammel
      3B Rose
      LF Bonds or Raines or Shoeless
      CF Allen
      RF Evans
      Starters Clemens Schilling Pedro Morris Closer Smith?

      • 41
        MikeD says:

        I’d have Bagwell ahead of McGwire.

        Of course, this list will change over the next few years as Bagwell (on mine), Biggio and Piazza should all gain election.

  9. 18
    Insert Name Here says:

    RIP.

    I’m surprised to not see anyone mention this yet, but both the Man and the Earl were connected to St. Louis, Missouri, and were both first signed by the Cardinals. St. Louis-born Weaver was picked up by the Cards to be the Man’s 2B in 1948, although obviously that didn’t come to fruition.

    If the Rule of Threes holds true, Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Whitey Herzog, Red Schoendienst, etc. better be careful!

    • 29
      Steven says:

      I just saw an interview with Schoendienst on a St. Louis news program. He turns 90 in February, and doesn’t look or sound like he’s aged much over the past three decades.

  10. 23
    John Autin says:

    For guys who played only in the NL, I’d go:

    C – Bench
    1B – Musial
    2B – Sandberg
    SS – Wagner
    3B – Schmidt
    LF – Bonds
    CF – Mays
    RF – Ott
    OF reserve – Clemente
    IF reserve – Vaughan

    RHSP – Alexander
    RHSP – Maddux
    RHSP – Mathewson
    LHSP – Spahn
    RP – Hoffman

    The AL-only squad:

    C – Fisk
    1B – Gehrig
    2B – Collins
    SS – A-Rod
    3B – Brett (I’m treating this like the postseason, so bye-bye, Boggs)
    LF – Williams
    CF – Mantle (can’t have Cobb fouling up the chemistry)
    RF – Kaline
    OF reserve – Speaker
    IF reserve – Foxx (backup catcher, too)

    RHSP – W.Johnson
    RHSP – Mussina (I’m as surprised as you are)
    RHSP – Palmer
    LHSP – Grove
    RP – Mariano

    The Babe can’t play in this one, alas, but maybe we’ll fulfill his dream and let him manage.

    I think the squads are well matched. AL pitching is a bit thinner, but Lefty & Barney can give us a few relief innings as well as their regular turn.

    • 27
      Artie Z. says:

      Well, we came up with pretty much the same position players – and I didn’t see this post. Though I still think you have to put Cobb in CF just because you want to have him roaming CF and not the streets!

  11. 25
    Artie Z. says:

    Looking for players who ONLY played for teams in each league (ruling out some greats like Ruth and Aaron):

    NL

    C – Bench
    1B – Musial
    2B – Jackie Robinson (or Frisch or Biggio or Sandberg)
    3B – Schmidt
    SS – Wagner
    LF – Bonds
    CF – Mays
    RF – Ott

    AL

    C – Fisk/Cochrane (Berra ruled out due to 9 ABs with Mets)
    1B – Gehrig
    2B – Collins
    3B – A-Rod/Brett
    SS – A-Rod/Ripken
    LF – Ted Williams
    CF – Cobb/Speaker/Mantle/DiMaggio
    RF – Kaline/Reggie

    The NL team seems to have less debate about who the best ever is, other than at second base. Though the AL may have a deeper pool at 2B behind Collins (Gehringer, Carew, Whitaker, Grich) The AL is a “mess” at 3B/SS due to A-Rod and the CF position is … well-stocked. I’d probably choose Ty Cobb just to keep him busy and off the streets. A “second team” of NLers might be:

    C – Gary Carter
    1B – Bagwell (Anson, Brouthers, and Connor ruled out due to playing in NA and AA and PL)
    2B – Frisch or Sandberg or Biggio (possibly Utley)
    3B – Chipper
    SS – Ozzie or Dahlen or Arky or Larkin or Pee Wee or Banks
    LF – After Bonds and Musial (who is playing 1B for the first team) it’s probably Fred Clarke
    CF – Snider or Ashburn
    RF – Clemente

    Based on this second team I don’t think there would be too much debate as to whether the players on the second team should be the ones on the first team. And yes, I chose the phrase “only playing for NL (AL) teams” purposefully due to the introduction of interleague play.

  12. 30
    no statistician but says:

    A couple of feats by Musial now probably forgotten:

    First player to hit five home runs in a day. Does anyone besides me remember the newspaper photo of him holding five baseballs?

    Set the National league record for consecutive games played, 895—since bested by Billy Williams and Steve Garvey.

    Some others:

    At his retirement was first in career hits and doubles for National Leaguers, second in career HRs.

    Holds the record for All Star Game HRs, Total Bases(with Mays), X-base Hits(also with Mays), Pinch Hits.

    • 37
      Doug says:

      Musial ranked 2nd in NL career HR when he retired, but dropped out of the top 5 just six years later, during the 1969 season. However, today he’s still in the top 10, where he should stay for the forseeable future, barring a Chipper Jones comeback or Pujols returning to the NL.

      Musial was also part of the first NL game involving both 4 and 5 players all over 200 career HR. The first was in 1955 with Campanella, Hodges and Snider, and the second a year later with the same group plus Hank Sauer. In both instances, Musial was the only one above 300 HR. Snider got to 300 in 1957 and Hodges the year after that when, with Musial, they played in the first NL game with 3 players over 300 HR.

      • 38
        Richard Chester says:

        Doug: I looked for similar AL stats, maybe you could give me a confirmation. First game with 4 players with 200 HR was 9-6-50 (Joe D., Mize, Doerr and Stephens). First game with 5 players was the next day with the same 4 players plus Ted Williams who made his first appearance after his All=Star game injury. First game with 3 players with 300 homers was on 5-28-51 with Joe D., Mize and Williams.

        • 39
          Doug says:

          I have these first AL games:

          4 x 200 – 5/31/36 (Bottomley, Hornsby, Simmons, Goslin)
          5 x 200 – your game 9/7/50
          3 x 300 – 5/28/34 (Hornsby, Gehrig, Ruth)

  13. 35
    Brent says:

    So the mantle of the greatest living Cardinal passes to whom now? Bob Gibson? And how about the greatest living manager? Joe Torre? Bobby Cox? Arguably, I suppose, the greatest living manager and the greatest living Cardinal are found in the same person, Tony LaRussa.

  14. 42
    John Autin says:

    Musial may have had a platoon disadvantage more often than any other LHB for whom those data are known.

    It probably didn’t make a big difference in his stats, since he hit lefties almost as well as righties. But I still think it’s interesting.

    I used the batting split finder to find the leaders in games vs. LH and RH starting pitchers from 1916-2012. (I used the starting pitcher rather than the PA platoon splits, because the former are much more complete. About 1/3 of Musial’s PAs are not identified specifically vs. LHP or RHP, but the starting pitcher is known for all his games.)

    There are 194 players who made both lists. For those players, I calculated the percentage of their games that were against LH and RH starting pitchers.

    Musial faced a lefty SP in 37% of his career games. That was the highest LHSP% of any pure lefty in this group.

    The next-highest left-on-LHSP% was 35.3% for Graig Nettles. Bad luck for Graig, who hit righties far better. Next was 32.5% for Keith Hernandez, who hit both kinds about the same.

    Several HOF-caliber LHBs faced less than 26% LHSPs:
    – Willie McCovey, 20.8%
    – Carl Yastrzemski, 21.4%
    – Mel Ott, 21.7%
    – Eddie Mathews, 22.0%
    – Willie Stargell, 22.0%
    – Jim Thome, 22.2%
    – Todd Helton, 24.4%
    – Darrell Evans, 24.5%
    – Rafael Palmeiro, 24.9%
    – Wade Boggs, 25.1%
    – Junior Griffey, 25.7%

    Of course, some of those guys were platooned in later years. But even in his absolute prime years (through age 30), Griffey faced less than 26% LHSPs. And he did have a sizable platoon difference, hitting .291/.936 against righties but .269/.844 against southpaws for his career.

    Barry Bonds, whose OPS was almost 100 points higher against RHPs, faced a lefty starter in 27.5% of his games.

    And the percentage of lefty SPs has varied significantly through the years. Last year, lefty pitchers accounted for 32.5% of all starts and 30% of all PAs. Ten years ago, those figures were 24.3% of starts and 25.1% of PAs. In 1978, lefties took 34.0% of starts and 33.3% of PAs.

    FWIW, in Musial’s known PA splits, the L/R proportions were almost the same as his starter splits — 36.2% of known PAs were against a lefty.

    • 43
      Doug says:

      That seems to make sense.

      For whatever reason, there was an unusual increase in the number of left-handed starter in the NL for most of Musial’s career. There was a similar increase in the AL starting about 1948 that continued to the mid-50s but then subsided until the mid-60s.

      Most-probably, the decline of LHers during the war was attributable to the difficulty in finding any kind of pitching – you had to take what you could get, and mostly it was RHers.

      The chart shows number of LH starters in NL each year, having 10 or more starts. Should mention, though, that the totals shown below include Cardinals’ starters of which there was at least one every year of Musial’s career, 2 or more in 13 of his 22 seasons, with a peak of 4 in 1949 and 3 in 1943 and 1950. So, at least Stan didn’t have to face all those NL lefties.

  15. 44
    Tim Pea says:

    Was Earl Weaver a SABRmeter?

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