Building the perfect player

Who would you say is the best player in MLB history? Well, before answering, you might ask me to specify an age. If you’re looking for someone under 25, it would have to be Ted Williams, right? Somebody in their early 30’s? That must be Babe Ruth. How about the best player in their late 30s to 40s? Clearly it’s Barry Bonds.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if we picked the best year by any player at each age, and put them all together to build the perfect player? That’s just what we do after the jump.

I found the player with the most batting runs at each age–that’s going by the player’s seasonal age as defined by I ignored a few insignificant cups of coffee at younger and older ages, and otherwise here are the results:

Age  Player	Year  Rbat   G     PA  AB   R    H    2B  3B  HR   RBI  BB   SO   SB   CS
17 P Cavarretta	1934  2.26   7     23  21   5    8    0   0   1    6    2    3    1    0
18 Johnny Lush	1904  8.89   106  408  369  39   102  22  3   2    42   27   46   12
19 Mel Ott	1928  25.09  124  500  435  69   140  26  4   18   77   52   36   3	
20 Mel Ott	1929  60.57  150  675  545  138  179  37  2   42   151  113  38   6	
21 Ed Mathews	1953  61.55  157  681  579  110  175  31  8   47   135  99   83   1    3
22 Ted Williams	1941  104.4  143  606  456  135  185  33  3   37   120  147  27   2    4
23 Ted Williams	1942  92.62  150  671  522  141  186  34  5   36   137  145  51   3    2
24 Lou Gehrig	1927  104.73 155  717  584  149  218  52  18  47   175  109  84   10   8
25 Babe Ruth	1920  114.07 142  616  458  158  172  36  9   54   137  150  80   14   14
26 Babe Ruth	1921  120.41 152  693  540  177  204  44  16  59   171  145  81   17   13
27 Lou Gehrig	1930  93.7   154  703  581  143  220  42  17  41   174  101  63   12   14
28 Babe Ruth	1923  120.97 154  697  522  151  205  45  13  41   131  170  93   17   21
29 Babe Ruth	1924  103.55 153  681  529  143  200  39  7   46   121  142  81   9    13
30 Jason Giambi	2001  86.87  154  671  520  109  178  47  2   38   120  129  83   2    0
31 Babe Ruth	1926  100.74 152  652  495  139  184  30  5   47   146  144  76   11   9
32 Babe Ruth	1927  103.95 151  691  540  158  192  29  8   60   164  137  89   7    6
33 Babe Ruth	1928  88.13  154  684  536  163  173  29  8   54   142  137  87   4    5
34 Mark McGwire	1998  95.22  155  681  509  130  152  21  0   70   147  162  155  1    0
35 Babe Ruth	1930  95.13  145  676  518  150  186  28  9   49   153  136  61   10   10
36 Barry Bonds	2001  126.29 153  664  476  129  156  32  2   73   137  177  93   13   3
37 Barry Bonds	2002  123.61 143  612  403  117  149  31  2   46   110  198  47   9    2
38 Barry Bonds	2003  89.78  130  550  390  111  133  22  1   45   90   148  58   7    0
39 Barry Bonds	2004  124.46 147  617  373  129  135  27  3   45   101  232  41   6    1
40 Willie Mays	1971  40.03  136  537  417  82   113  24  5   18   61   112  123  23   3
41 Ted Williams	1960  43.35  113  390  310  56   98   15  0   29   72   74   41   1    1
42 Barry Bonds	2007  45.5   126  477  340  75   94   14  0   28   66   132  54   5    0
43 Tony Perez	1985  10.12  72   207  183  25   60   8   0   6    33   22   22   0    2
44 Cap Anson	1896  8.43   108  459  402  72   133  18  2   2    90   49   10   24	
45 Julio Franco	2004  5.97   125  361  320  37   99   18  3   6    57   36   68   4    2
46 Julio Franco	2005  2.66   108  265  233  30   64   12  1   9    42   27   57   4    0

Note that for caught stealing, data is not available for some early years, so there are blanks in the above table.

First of all, let’s look at the totals this mythical perfect player would have put up:

Stat     Career Total    Rank on Actual MLB Career Leader List
Rbat       2203           #1   (actual #1 is Babe Ruth, 1338)
G          4019           #1   (actual #1 is Pete Rose, 3562)
PA        16856           #1   (actual #1 is Pete  Rose, 15890)
AB        13106           #2   (#1 is Pete Rose, 14053, actual #2 is Hank Aaron, 12364)
R          3270           #1   (actual #1 is Rickey Henderson, 2295)
H          4493           #1   (actual #1 is Pete Rose, 4256)
2B          846           #1   (actual #1 is Tris Speaker, 792)
3B          156           #47  (actual #47 is Tommy Corcoran, 155)
HR         1096           #1   (actual #1 is Barry Bonds, 762)
RBI        3308           #1   (actual #1 is Hank Aaron, 2297)
BB         3455           #1   (actual #1 is Barry Bonds, 2558)
SO         1931           #9   (actual #9 is Mike Cameron, 1901)

Now, obviously, our Mr. Perfect has a huge edge in counting stats, since he was both an early-bloomer and played to an unusually old age. He had the most PAs in MLB history by a pretty wide margin.

So let’s take a look instead at counting stats. Mr. Perfect’s career batting average is .3428, which would put him 9th all time, just behind Billy Hamilton & Ted Williams at .3444 and just ahead of Dan Brouthers & Babe Ruth at .3421. Perfect’s career OBP is .4821, which would be #1 all time, the tiniest hair ahead of Ted Williams at .4817. Perfect’s career SLG is .6821, a smidge behind actual leader Babe Ruth at .6897.

It’s pretty stunning that Mr. Perfect has essentially identical OBP and SLG to the real all-time leaders.

A few other things of note:

    • Mr. Perfect is not a great base-stealer, with a success rate of only 59% for the years that we have CS data.
    • Mr. Perfect is 27% Babe Ruth, 17% Barry Bonds, and 10% Ted Williams.
    • Speaking of Williams, how awesome is it that he appears at both Ages 22-23 and Age 41?
    • Age 30 seems to be a bit of a hole. Jason Giambi makes it, but with the lowest Rbat total for the peak years.
    • Mr. Perfect has a pretty awesome K/BB of 0.559. Only 17 players have at least 10,000 career PAs and a lower ratio. These are guys like Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Stan Musial, Sam Rice, etc.

Obviously this exercise is pretty much a fabrication, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a fun one.

166 thoughts on “Building the perfect player

  1. 1
    Doug says:

    Fun stuff.

    Mr. Perfect also edges Tris Speaker by a relatively small amount (< 10%) in doubles. It really would take a Mr. Perfect to break that mark - if Albert Pujols were to average 35 doubles for the next eight seasons (until age 40), he would still be 7 doubles shy of Speaker. But, hitting triples is just not his thing - barely 5 per year.

  2. 2
    Brooklyn Mick says:

    As great as Master Melvin’s age 20 was, I’ll take Trout’s age 20. Both very close in Rbat (61-56), but the WAR isn’t even close. Trout at 10.7 and Ott at 7.3.

    So, just wondering how it shakes out if you use WAR as the searchable criteria rather than Rbat.

    • 4
      Andy says:

      Much of Trout’s edge is due to the defensive component of WAR, and so if I used WAR, we’d probably see at least a few players creep in with large defensive components. Nothing wrong with that–I just decided to focus on offense.

  3. 3
    birtelcom says:

    Part of the reason that the collective result is not that much different than that of the top real individuals is that so much of the collective is derived from a small number of real individuals. Of the 23 core age years from age 20 through 42 (the years before and after that are very small Rbat numbers), 16, or about two-thirds, are generated by three guys: Ruth, Bonds and Ted Williams. For the most part, what you’ve found is the best hitter in each age year tends not be a fluke guy but one of the handful of great hitters of all-time. That tends to confirm that a season of PAs is a big enough sample that the very top, top performances are generally not going to be flukes.

  4. 5
    Insert Name Here says:

    Very fun. While we here at HHS are obsessed with most X at each age (first the Mystery Ballplayers quiz, now this!) I for one am curious as to how it would work out if you used most WAR at each age instead of Rbat. I think Mr. Perfect’s career would go something like this (limited to ages 18-45 because Mr. Perfect would never have a season below 1 WAR):

    age 18 — Robin Yount, 1974 (1.3 WAR)
    age 19 — Bryce Harper, 2012 (5 WAR)
    age 20 — Mike Trout, 2012 (10.7 WAR)
    age 21 — Rogers Hornsby, 1917 (9.7 WAR)
    age 22 — Ted Williams, 1941 (10.1 WAR)
    age 23 — Willie Mays, 1954 (10.3 WAR)
    age 24 — Lou Gehrig, 1927 (11.5 WAR)
    age 25 — Babe Ruth, 1920 (11.6 WAR)
    age 26 — Babe Ruth, 1921 (12.6 WAR)
    age 27 — Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 (12 WAR)
    age 28 — Babe Ruth, 1923 (13.7 WAR)
    age 29 — Babe Ruth, 1924 (11.4 WAR)
    age 30 — Cal Ripken, Jr., 1991 (11.3 WAR)
    age 31 — Babe Ruth, 1926 (11.1 WAR)
    age 32 — Babe Ruth, 1927 (12.1 WAR)
    age 33 — Willie Mays, 1964 (10.7 WAR)
    age 34 — Honus Wagner, 1908 (11.3 WAR)
    age 35 — Babe Ruth, 1930 (10 WAR)
    age 36 — Barry Bonds, 2001 (11.6 WAR)
    age 37 — Barry Bonds, 2002 (11.6 WAR)
    age 38 — Ted Williams, 1957 (9.5 WAR)
    age 39 — Barry Bonds, 2004 (10.4 WAR)
    age 40 — Willie Mays, 1971 (6 WAR)
    age 41 — Honus Wagner, 1915 (5.2 WAR)
    age 42 — Luke Appling, 1949 (4.9 WAR)
    age 43 — Cap Anson, 1895 (1.8 WAR)
    age 44 — Cap Anson, 1896 (1.9 WAR)
    age 45 — Julio Franco, 2004 (1 WAR)

    As you can see, the Babe has 7 seasons on this list, so perhaps it is fair to say that he was the greatest of all time. Meanwhile, Mays and Bonds each have 3, while Teddy, Honus Wagner (who is wholly absent from the Rbat version), and Anson each have 2. Just like with Rbat, one of Teddy’s seasons is his age 22 season, and the other is very late in his career, at age 38!

    • 8
      GrandyMan says:

      This shows that, like Williams, Mays was a top performer at all ages: early (23), middle (33), and late (40).

      • 9
        Insert Name Here says:

        True. I didn’t even notice that. I wonder if one day, many years from now, we could re-create this list and notice the same trend in

        In addition to being top performers at all ages, Mays and Teddy were both outfielders, contemporaries, played in separate leagues, and bat on opposite sides of the plate. Unless one of their teams makes a large contractual or trade blunder, or one of them flames out early, Trout and Harper could end up being very similar to Mays and Teddy.

    • 11
      bstar says:

      If we staple on the 0.1 WAR earned at age 46 (Julio Franco and three others), age 47 (Nick Altrock), age 52 (Altrock again) and age !58! (Charlie O’Leary for one single in one at-bat in 1934), that gives Perfect Player 250.7 career WAR, which is over 90 WAR greater than the Bambino’s total (excluding his pitching WAR).

      • 13
        Insert Name Here says:

        If we’re lowering the minimum to 0.1 WAR, then don’t forget to tag on 0.2 for 16-year-old Willie McGill in 1890, and of course 0.4 WAR for 17-year-old Phil Cavarretta in 1934. That brings Mr. Perfect up to 251.3 WAR.

    • 69
      Brooklyn MIck says:

      These are the career totals and rankings when WAR is used. The WAR-STAR jumped from #47 all-time in 3B’s to #6 (that #47 in 3B’s really bugged me), improved from #9 most SO’s to #15, and still ranks #1 in the other counting stats listed above except AB, where he finishes #2.

      WAR-246.3(#1-actual #1 is Babe Ruth 159.2)
      G-4021(#1-actual #1 is Pete Rose 3562)
      PA-17147(#1-actual #1 is Pete Rose 15890)
      AB-13884(#2-actual #1 is Pete Rose 14053, actual #2 is Hank Aaron, 12364)
      R-3171(#1-actual #1 is Rickey Henderson 2295)
      H-4705(#1-actual #1 is Pete Rose 4256)
      2B-851(#1-actual #1 is Tris Speaker 792)
      3B-223(#6-actual #6 is Tris Speaker 222)
      HR-920(#1-actual #1 is Barry Bonds 762)
      RBI-2957(#1-actual #1 is Hank Aaron 2297)
      BB-2944(#1-actual #1 is Barry Bonds 2558)
      SO-1813(#15-actual #15 is Manny Ramirez)

      WAR-STAR’s career BA is .3389, which puts him #18 all-time, just behind Lou Gehrig and George Sisler (both tied at .3401), and just ahead of Jess Burkett and Tony Gwynn (tied at .3382). Plus, WAR-STAR stole over 400 bases in his career.

  5. 6
    Brooklyn Mick says:

    And my guess is that the WAR leaders would still rank #1 in most of the counting numbers listed above by Andy. I mean, look at the huge differences between HR and RBI between the Rbat Mr. Perfect and the actual leaders. Plenty of room to spare.

  6. 7

    Oh gosh, I want to see the pitchers now!

    • 12
      Insert Name Here says:

      I don’t know what the pitching equivalent of Rbat is (or even if there is one), but here is Mr. Perfect-Arm’s career using WAR:

      age 17 — Bob Feller, 1936 (1.4 WAR)
      age 18 — Bob Feller, 1937 (3.2 WAR)
      age 19 — Gary Nolan, 1967 (6.1 WAR)
      age 20 — Dwight Gooden, 1985 (11.9 WAR)
      age 21 — Mark Fidrych, 1976 (9.3 WAR)
      age 22 — Walter Johnson, 1910 (10.8 WAR)
      age 23 — Dick Ellsworth, 1963 (9.9 WAR)
      age 24 — Walter Johnson, 1912 (12.9 WAR)
      age 25 — Walter Johnson, 1913 (14.3 WAR)
      age 26 — Walter Johnson, 1914 (11.4 WAR)
      age 27 — Steve Carlton, 1972 (11.7 WAR)
      age 28 — Pedro Martínez, 2000 (11.4 WAR)
      age 29 — Wilbur Wood, 1971 (11.5 WAR)
      age 30 — Wilbur Wood, 1972 (10.3 WAR)
      age 31 — Ed Walsh, 1912 (10.8 WAR)
      age 32 — Joe McGinnity, 1903 (11.3 WAR)
      age 33 — Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander, 1920 (11.8 WAR)
      age 34 — Cy Young, 1901 (12.4 WAR)
      age 35 — Steve Carlton, 1980 (9.9 WAR)
      age 36 — Lefty Grove, 1936 (10.7 WAR)
      age 37 — Randy Johnson, 2001 (9.8 WAR)
      age 38 — Randy Johnson, 2002 (10.4 WAR)
      age 39 — Phil Niekro, 1978 (9.6 WAR)
      age 40 — Randy Johnson, 2004 (8.1 WAR)
      age 41 — Cy Young, 1908 (9.3 WAR)
      age 42 — Roger Clemens, 2005 (7.6 WAR)
      age 43 — Jack Quinn, 1927 (4.7 WAR)
      age 44 — Nolan Ryan, 1991 (5 WAR)
      age 45 — Phil Niekro, 1984 (4.4 WAR)
      age 46 — Satchel Paige, 1953 (2.8 WAR)
      age 47 — Hoyt Wilhelm, 1970 (1.9 WAR)
      age 48 — Jack Quinn, 1932 (1.6 WAR)

      Based on this list, maybe his name shouldn’t be Mr. Perfect-Arm, but Perfect-Arm Johnson, since the only two pitchers to appear 3+ times on the list are Walter Johnson (appearing four times) and Randy Johnson (three times). However, a large host of greats appear twice, including Phil Niekro! Apparently, Perfect-Arm Johnson throws a pretty mean knuckleball!

      The question is: if Perfect-Arm Johnson faced Mr. Perfect (using either Andy’s Rbat-based methodology or my WAR-based one), what would be the end result? Strikeout? Base hit? Or perhaps Perfect-Arm Johnson’s coach hates confrontation, and calls for the Intentional Walk?

      • 19
        Andy says:

        WAR is the right way to do pitchers, so you’ve saved me work here. Want to finish it up by tallying all these yearly stats and coming up with a composite set, as I did above?

        • 41
          Insert Name Here says:

          What is that, like a spreadsheet? I can do that for you, but my laptop’s battery is low and it’s late at night, so I wouldn’t have it done until tomorrow (hopefully by noon).

      • 22
        MikeD says:

        Pitchers seem to be able to maintain a high level of performance well into their 40s, with at least one 9+ WAR season up to age 41 with Cy Young. Not sure we’d see the equivalent with hitters, well not including Bonds.

  7. 14
    Chris Waters says:

    This article is really interesting, but using a snide self-righteous moniker for Barry Bonds is so off-putting that I will probably never access this site again. too bad, because this is one site that is usually filled with interesting stuff.

    • 16
      Andy says:

      I’ll give you snide, but I don’t see self-righteous. No offense was meant, and I have edited it.

      • 23
        bstar says:

        Even if I’m the only one, I still think it’s important to note that only Balco Bonds shows up on this list, not Barry. If we don’t note that, we make the wrong conclusion that Bonds belongs amongst the likes of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth as a HITTER, and I think that’s dead wrong.

        • 24
          bstar says:

          It’s so wrong that I had to say wrong twice.

        • 27
          Andy says:

          You mean as in hitting for average, batting eye etc? Or something else?

          Bstar, you’ve really caught my eye over the last 6 months with a lot of great comments here. Thanks for all your contributions.

          • 31
            RJ says:

            I think he means ignoring baserunning, defence etc. Just a comparison as a pure hitter.

          • 37
            bstar says:

            Wow, Andy, thanks.

            No, I mean what you used, RBat, because really it’s the best measure of hitting contribution that we have at B-Ref. It’s everything one does with the stick, and properly weighted.

            If you focus on Rbat, I’ve shown before that pre-steroids, Barry is not an all-time top 5 or top 10 hitter. In fact, he’s closer to 20th all-time than he is to tenth. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but when we’re talking about the top 3 or 4 greatest hitters ever, I just don’t think Barry belongs in that class. No way.

            Albert Pujols at this point of his career has been a better hitter than Bonds was at the same age, and Albert’s not getting compared to Babe Ruth, so why should Bonds? Because of the artificial stuff? No thanks.

            Don’t get me wrong, I would vote for Barry easily into the Hall of Fame, and I think he and Willie Mays MAY be the two greatest players ever as far as excelling at every facet of the game is concerned. But purely as a hitter? Neither Mays nor Bonds would be in my top 10.

          • 38
            Andy says:

            Understood and agreed. I think Bonds gets extra credit for his all-around talent as you say. When it comes to best Rbat players the two who always spring to my mind are Babe and Ted.

        • 30
          RJ says:

          bstar, I’ve seen you make this argument before (convincingly as I recall, which makes me hesitate somewhat here). But a cursory glance at their b-ref pages shows that, between their age 27 and 33 seasons, Bonds’ OPS+ is 185 to Williams’ 190. It’s not like a comparison is unreasonable.

          • 34
            bstar says:

            Barry’s not on Andy’s list for any age between 27 and 33, RJ, so I’m not understanding why you’re bringing up those years.

            My main point is this:

            B Bonds up to age 33: 164 OPS+, 44 Rbat/150
            Williams up to age 33: 190 OPS+, 75 Rbat/150

            Ted’s Rbat rate is over 70% higher than Bonds’. Any statement that suggests the two should be mentioned in the same class of HITTERS, IMHO, is not reasonable.

          • 35
            RJ says:

            I was using those seasons to demonstrate that there were a period of several years pre-steroids where Bonds was already hitting at a phenomenal level. I honestly don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to look at this guy who has continually has an OPS over 1.000 and go “wow, this guy is pretty amazing”.

          • 36
            no statistician but says:

            Part of the tragedy of Bonds’ career is that we’ll never know how good a player he actually might have been in the new millennium.

            I’m with bstar and Hartvig @ #33 on this one. Bonds himself put the bullseye on his back. It wasn’t a prankster.

          • 39
            bstar says:

            RJ, sorry to imply that Barry wasn’t phenomenal. He was, absolutely.

            I just want to put him in the proper context, and by focusing on his artificial years we really get a distorted view of how great this guy really was.

            Absolutely a 1.000 OPS is great, but it’s important to note that even if Bonds had AVERAGED that mark pre-steroids, he’s still not in the class of Ruth or Williams, which was my main point.

          • 40
            RJ says:

            Absolutely no statistician, this is what I’ve been thinking about in my head for the last few minutes. Let’s say Bonds continues at his mid to late 1990s level for several seasons more, where does that level of sustained excellence rank him? Hmmm.

          • 42
            RJ says:

            No, bstar, you’re right, Barry didn’t put up big enough numbers for a long enough time to be considered the equal of Williams or Ruth as a hitter. I guess I was just surprised that, looking at Bonds’ and Williams’ in terms of the traditional peak ages of a hitter, they weren’t as far apart as I had expected. Williams of course was a ton better when he was younger, but as no statistician said, the real tragedy is that we don’t get to make a normal comparison for when they were older. Looking at the path Bonds was on, I think that would have been really interesting.

          • 43
            Hartvig says:

            Bonds was a great player pre-steroids. Assuming that he didn’t start before 1998 and given that many of the very greatest players aged very well- Wagner, Speaker, Cobb, Ruth, Williams, Musial, Mays & Aaron among them- it is very possible, even likely, that even without them he easily could have been in the mix for the top 10 of all time, especially when you factor in baserunning & defense. That’s partly what makes his steroid use so maddening- he didn’t have to do it.

          • 44
            Jeff Hill says:

            Bonds played exceptional defense til he was older and was a wonderful base runner and stolen base threat. Neither of those things Williams or Ruth could ever do. Better hitter, sure…Williams and Ruth but both are one trick ponies playing against white players and seeing the same pitchers over and over. Okay, Ruth was a great pitcher, sorry.

            Anyway, Mays and Bonds overall game, Ruth and Teddy Ballgame hitting.

          • 46
            MikeD says:

            Jeff @44, no question about it. It’s a different story taking into account his complete game, yet the discussion was focusing just on their bats here.

            Hartvig @43, long before Bonds and steroids became associated, he was on path to certainly be considered one of the 20 greatest players ever, with a shot at top ten. Without PEDs, I think Bonds was so good and so driven that he would have hit over 600 HRs, joining a very select group. Sad, instead of talking about Bonds and his greatness, we now talk about Bonds and PEDs, and what he might have been.

    • 18
      topper009 says:

      There is no way anything could be more off putting than Bonds himself

      • 21
        Andy says:

        Chris makes a fair point, though, that no matter how much of a smug asshole Bonds is, I’m not helping anything by calling him names.

        • 48
          Daniel Longmire says:

          Andy, you just…did.

          • 49
            Andy says:

            I know, but calling him a smug asshole is commentary. Chris was complaining about me putting a derogatory nickname in the table above.

        • 72
          Chad says:

          “I’ll take Smug Assholes for $762, Alex.”

          • 81
            Insert Name Here says:

            Alex: “This smug asshole is alleged to have used various steroids to attain multiple baseball records, as evidenced by his big head and known association with steroid producer BALCO.”

            Contestant (not a baseball fan, I suppose): “Uhh… who is a smug asshole who’s never been in my kitchen?”

        • 105
          Daniel Longmire says:

          And Chris also overreacted wildly. I never saw the nickname in question, but how bad could it have been? If I only visited sites that were free of potentially offensive comments or phrases, I’d be down to Hotmail!

    • 33
      Hartvig says:

      I’ve got a pretty big head. It ain’t easy finding size 8 & 1/4 baseball cap. Now I’m a pretty big guy so it’s proportional to the rest of me but on occasion people still feel the need to comment on it. I simply tell them that it’s necessary to accommodate a brain the size of mine while a brain the size of theirs would be rattling around up there like a walnut in a gallon bucket.

      But I came by my big head naturally. Mr. Bonds, on the other hand, achieved his by injecting enough Human Growth Hormone to float a battleship. I really don’t see how it’s self-righteous to ridicule him about it, especially with his stedfast refusal to admit to doing it even though the evidence is sitting in plain sight right on top of his neck.

  8. 15
    Mike Felber says:

    The list is interesting, but to be accurate make it the perfect batter. Clearly taking other aspects of the game into account changes who is best, & reflects who is best overall as a ballplayer.

    At least relative to their era. And despite only contributing with his bat, Williams might have made the list more if not for the war years.

    Why never access a great web site again due to on comment you do not like? Just critique it & enjoy the rest of the web site & many other writers & endless comments.

  9. 17
    Andy says:

    In my original post I forgot to put Mr. Perfect’s 162-game averages:

    162 G, 679 PA, 528 AB, 132 R, 181 H, 34 2B, 6 3B, 44 HR, 133 RBI, 139 BB, 78 K, .342/.482/.682

    Not bad…

    • 25
      Insert Name Here says:

      I couldn’t resist putting that .342/.482/.682 line into the Play Index. Sadly, no results.

      However, Ted Williams had a .342 BA and a 1.164 OPS in 1946. Teddy also had more runs scored, more walks, less strikeouts, one less extra base hit, and 5 less hits than Mr. Perfect despite playing in 150 games, whereas Mr. Perfect’s season stats are 162-game averages.

      • 47
        Doug says:

        Williams’ 1949 season was also pretty close on the slash at .343/.490/.650, 1.141.

        The special thing about 1949 was 150/150/150 as in runs, RBI and walks, a unique accomplishment, and one that is likely to stay that way for a long, long time.

      • 55
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Babe Ruth’s career slash line of .342/.474/.690 (1.164 OPS) is alaso really close to Mr. Perfect – BA and OPS exactly the same, OBA a little lower, SLG a little higher.

        His 162-game averages are all _better_ than Mr. Perfect, except for doubles and walks.

      • 58
        Insert Name Here says:

        There have also been only eight individual players to put up a qualifying slash line with greater BA, OBP, and SLG than Mr. Perfect. The Babe did it 7 times, and Teddy did it twice (1941 and 1957–once early in his career and once late!). Barry Bonds and Rogers Hornsby each did it twice as well, and four players have done it once. If anyone can guess those four (without the easy PI search), I would be truly amazed (hint: three are 19th-century guys, but the fourth is one of our COG members).

        • 59
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          – Frank Thomas (1994)
          – Hugh Duffy (1894)
          – Tip O’Neill (1887) (I think that there were four strikes for a K that year…).

          I don’t see a fourth, unless you count the NA and Levi Meyerle in 1871.

          • 60
            Insert Name Here says:

            Technically, that was a qualifying season, so I do, although with not as much as reverence due to the MUCH shorter season.

  10. 20
    topper009 says:

    Since we are looking at huge numbers, here is Babe Ruth playing every season in 2000 Coors:

    12275 PA, 3048 R, 3690 H, 659 2B, 181 3B, 907 HR, 3117 RBI, 2637 BB, 1418 K, .385/.520/.776/1.296

    • 29
      birtelcom says:

      That’s brilliant! 74 homers in 1927, 71 in 1921, 69 in 1928 and 67 in 1920. 223 RBI in 1927, one of 8 seasons in which he tops Hack Wilson’s real-world season record of 190 RBI. Of course he might not have lasted in the majors in the first place, as he started as a pitcher and his career ERA would have gone from 2.28 to 4.67.

      • 32
        MikeD says:

        4.67 ERA at Coors? That’s a $20M-a-year pitcher!

      • 45
        Jeff Hill says:

        And people wonder why I hate Larry Walker for the Circle of Greats, much less the Hall of Fame. Look at those numbers.

        • 51
          brp says:

          Problem is that Walker was still an excellent player when he was with Montreal and St. Louis. Inflated stats, yes; great player, also yes.

          I haven’t voted for him in the CoG lately either but it’s not like he’d be a terrible choice.

        • 52
          Andy says:

          If you just double Walker’s road stats, he’s still a HOFer. This guy’s a no-brainer and actually suffers from the assumption that all Rockies players are worth less than we think.

          • 53
            Artie Z says:

            He was a .278/.370/.495 hitter on the road. Doubling his counting stats gives 1132 R, 1934 H, 406 2B, 336 HR, 1128 RBI, 218 SB, and 938 BB in 6956 AB (8086 PA).

            Are those numbers that different than Shawn Green, Fred Lynn, or Magglio Ordonez?

            I think people focus on the Coors effect but that this takes away from other parts of analyzing Walker’s complete game. Walker has about the same rbat total as Berkman or Piazza or Vladimir or Palmeiro or Winfield (those are the players within 11 career rbat of Walker). That’s pretty good company. But his WAR dwarfs all of those guys –

            69.7 Walker
            66.1 Palmeiro
            59.4 Winfield
            56.1 Piazza
            55.2 Guerrero
            49.0 Berkman

            I say “dwarfs” Palmeiro because he had 12000 PAs to Walker’s 8000 PA.

            Walker had 40 Rbaserunner, while Winfield had 37 and everyone else had negative.

            Walker had 10 Rdp, while Berkman had 2 and everyone else had negative.

            Walker had 94 Rfield, while Palmeiro had 48, Vlad had 7, and everyone else was negative. Winfield clocks in at -91 despite 7 Gold Gloves If a unit of Rfield is the same as a unit of Rbat, then thinking about 185 Rfield in terms of 185 Rbat one would need to add Jay Buhner’s (or Roger Maris, or Don Baylor, or Sam Rice) career offensive value to Dave Winfield to get him up to Larry Walker’s total Rbat+Rfield.

            Now, Walker gets dinged on Rpos to the tune of -85, but so does everyone else on the list except Piazza because he played behind home plate (Berkman has the 3rd most at -91).

            Going back to the original question of are Walker’s road numbers doubled much different than Green, Lynn, or Magglio, the answer is “not really,” but taking his overall skills together (baserunning, avoiding double plays, fielding) he is MUCH better than those players.

            That’s the real issue I see with Walker – many get hung up on the Coors factor and it masks the subtle (perhaps not so subtle according to Rfield) differences between Walker and these other players.

          • 54
            Richard Chester says:

            Walker’s road stats include games played at Coors while a member of the Expos and Cards, so doubling those atats may not be an accurate way of judging. I think it is better to compare his Coors stats, regardless of who was playing for, versus his stats everywhere else. BA wise he was .381 at Coors and .282 everywhere else.

            His OPS+, which is park-adjusted, would put him in 41st place among current HOFers.

          • 56
            Chuck says:

            Walker played about 60% of his career with Colorado, so the Coors Field factor doesn’t play into it as much as it will for Todd Helton.

            Walker’s numbers became inflated when he went to Colorado because he became inflated.

            Instead of doubling his road numbers, you should be deducting 25% of his career.

          • 57
            Ed says:

            Artie Z – I generally agree with your analysis. Here’s where I part ways. Let’s compare Larry Walker and Luis Gonzalez just in terms of hitting. They were contemporaries and both played essentially their whole careers in the NL (Gonzalez played a little in the AL but not enough to make a difference for our purposes).

            Now, let’s look at their Road OPS. Walker’s was .865. Gonzalez’ was .856. About as close as can be. And while I can’t compute an OPS+, given that they were contemporaries playing in the same ballparks against the same pitchers, I can’t imagine there’s much of a difference.

            Next, let’s look at career length. Gonzalez’ career was about 31% longer than Walker’s in terms of PAs. So based on what we know so far, who do you expect has the higher Rbat? Gonzalez, right? Everything else is pretty much the same but the 31% longer career should mean that Gonzalez has a lot more Rbat.

            If you thought that you’d be wrong. Walker has more Rbat and it’s not even close. Wallker has 420 Rbat, Gonzalez has 229. Does that make even an iota of sense???? It certainly doesn’t to me.

            Now perhaps Gonzalez was horrible at home. That might explain some of the discrepancy. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Gonzalez’ home OPS is a solid .834 despite the fact that he played several seasons with the Astrodome as his home ballpark.

            So I don’t begin to buy Walker’s Rbat. Perhaps there’s an explanation that I’m not seeing and someone can explain it to me. But what I see are two players who were contemporaries, who had similar road stats, and yet the player with the 31% advantage in terms of PAs, has an Rbat almost half that of the other.

          • 61
            Artie Z says:

            @Ed – I had the same concerns but then I looked at what Rbat was doing to other Rockies players like Galarraga, Burks, Bichette, Castilla – the usual suspects. Those guys, with the exception of Walker and Helton and a season or two here and there, get hammered on Rbat. Jeff Cirillo in 2001 had an .838 OPS. He had an Rbat of 2. Ichiro had an .838 OPS in 2001 – he had 30 Rbat. Jeter had an .858 OPS – he had 31 Rbat.

            Walker’s 2001, in which he hit .350/.449/.662 for an OPS of 1.111 gets 49 Rbat, which is one less than Phil Nevin, who hit .306/.388/.588 for an OPS of .976. If you want an OFer take Shawn Green who had 50 Rbat with a .297/.372/.598 line. It seems like it is adjusting things fairly well – would we really not expect Walker to hit like Shawn Green if Walker played his home games in Dodger Stadium in 2001?

            If any year looks odd it is 1997. Walker and Piazza had the same Rbat and Piazza had about the same average but Walker beat him by 20 points in OBP and 80 points in SLG. He had a 102 point lead in OPS and Rbat dropped him down to Piazza, which you might feel is not enough. But the 1-year park factor for 1997 Coors is low (well, it’s 113, so low for Coors).

            But if we look at this historically 1950 Fenway Park had a 3-year park factor of 110 and a 1-year park factor of 115. Not quite Coors level (although the 1-year factor is higher than the 1997 Coors 1-year factor). Ted Williams put up 37 Rbat in 89 games, or about 60-65 if he played around 150 games. He had a .317/.452/.647 line with a 1.099 OPS. Walker had a .366/.452/.720 (a 1.172 OPS) in 1997 for 70 Rbat. Is Ted Williams’ 1950 season not accurately reflected by Rbat?

            Walker wasn’t just posting a .300/.370/.500 line in Coors – it was a .381/.462/.710 line in Coors. That’s a higher batting average than Cobb and a higher slugging percentage than Ruth. I think the numbers are so disorienting that it makes people think that Rbat isn’t doing its job, but then when you (1) look at how Rbat adjusts other Coors hitters and (2) look at how much better Walker was than those other hitters (other than Helton) it makes a little more sense.

            I still haven’t voted for Walker in the Circle of Greats. I have a feeling that Walker is to me as Blyleven was to the BBWAA – it’s going to take a while for me to come around on him, but the more I look at his numbers the more I wonder if he really was better than Tony Gwynn.

          • 63
            Richard Chester says:

            Walker’s slashes:

            Coors: .381/.462/.710/1.172
            Everywhere else: .282/.372/.501/.872

          • 64
            MikeD says:


            First line is Walker’s road stats, the second is Paul O’Neill’s career line.

            Walker comes out ahead, but doubling Walker’s road stats doesn’t make him a HOFer, especially looking at the high-offense time he played. A .278/.370/.495/.865 line with 1934 hits, 406 doubles, 336 HRs, etc. does not a HOF OFer make, especially one whose career and peak coincided with the so-called steroid era.

            That all said, I’m not arguing against him. His case is legit. Just pointing out what he has going against him. Working in his favor is he put ap 151 OPS+ his last year in Montreal, and his 137 OPS+ his last three years as an Expo are just a few points under his overall career OPS+. Even his last year plus as a part-timer in St. Louis illustrated he wasn’t a Coors creation. Plus, his home/road splits aren’t just all from Coors, and historically players do hit better at home. It’s probably worth noting that there is a Coors effect that seems to impact Rockies’ players on the road, depressing their stats some. Add it all up, and he’s better than what his solid road stats show. He also has six Gold Goves and an MVP.

            So, yeah, he’s a fine candidate, but I don’t see him getting elected. He only once ever appeared in more than 150 games. Lots of injuries, so his low counting stats even while playing at Coors and during a high-offensive era are all going to work against him with BBWAA voters.

          • 65
            Ed says:

            Artie Z – Thanks for the well-thought out reply. I don’t really have any points of disagreement. It’s just that with so much of the new stats, we have to take things on faith, and I don’t like to do that. I often say that I should have been born in Missouri – the Show Me State.

            Anyway, with the new split finder on baseball reference, I was able to find out that Walker’s home OPS is the 5th highest of all-time. The only players ahead of him are Ruth, Williams, Greenberg and Foxx. Bonds is 6th, one point behind Walker. Helton is 7th.

            His road OPS is 62nd of all time, tied with Willie Stargell and John Olerud. (oddly Helton is again right behind him in 64th place). So a big difference though 62nd is obviously still good and as you pointed out he also added value with the glove and on the bases.

            Anyway, I remain torn. But at this point, I just haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me.

          • 66
            Ed says:

            MikeD @64 – I don’t feel like digging up the links again (I’ve posted them here before) but every study I’ve ever seen refutes the existence of the so-called “Coors Field hangover”.

          • 67
            MikeD says:

            @66, Ed, I’ll take your word on it since I haven’t seen a recent study on it.

          • 70
            Ed says:

            Mike D – The world would be a much better place if people just took my word on things. 🙂

          • 74

            Artie Z—I’m a strong Walker supporter, but the way you laid out his case is probably the best I’ve seen. Great job.

          • 93
            MikeD says:

            @70 Ed, I understand. I wish everyone would just agree with me, too! 🙂 Yet in this cae I was trying to throw in everything off the top of my head to agree with Andy on why Walker has a legit case. The “Coors effect” stuck in my mind, but I haven’t seen anything written on it in a while. I was a bit questioning of it when I first read it, although I can see where it might be possible, even if it’s unlikely. The altitude creates issues throwing effective breaking balls, which means pitchers change their approach, leading hitters to become less effective at handling different pitching patterns on the road. I wasn’t sold on it, but I accepted it might be possible.

  11. 26
    MikeD says:

    Ruth’s career line in 2000 Coors: .385/.520/.776/1.296

    Bonds’ 2004 season non-adjusted: .362/.609/.812/1.422

    Even taking into account PEDs, I still can’t grasp late-career Bonds!

  12. 62

    In the seven seasons above, Ruth was caught stealing 91 times in 180 tries. If we add in the rest of his seasons from 1920 on (when CS became a stat), he was thrown out 52% of the time. Is there something about the way the CS stat is counted that changed over time, or was Ruth realy that reckless?

    • 68
      Hartvig says:

      Don’t forget that this is the guy who made the final out in game 7 of the 1926 World Series by trying to steal second bases when the Yankees were behind 3 to 2 and Bob Meusel – who drove in 138 runs the year before- was at the plate.

      • 86
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        I read where he wasn’t really trying to steal.
        Morganna’s grandma had run onto the field and she was holding a hotdog and a pint of beer.

    • 126
      topper009 says:

      A great trivia question:
      Among players with 100+ SBs, which 2 have the WORST career SB%

    • 130
      Ed says:

      In response to Bryan’s original question, Ruth’s stolen base rates are fairly similar to his teammates:

      Gehrig: 102 steals, 100 caught stealing
      Bob Meusel: 134 steals, 102 caught stealing
      Earle Combs: 98 steals, 71 caught stealing
      Ruth: 110 steals, 117 caught stealing

      (only includes years for which caught stealing data is available)

      Ruth was the worst of those 4 but none of them were very good. Even Combs, who was fast enough to have 20+ triples three times, wasn’t a very good base stealer.

  13. 71
    Tim Pea says:

    I hope they are able to clone Ted Williams from that freezer down in Arizona. If they get the kid with the right adoptive parents for the kid, he’ll be one hell of a hitter and angler. I think maybe Pete Rose and that good lookin’ oriental gal that he dates now would be a good choice for Teddy II.

  14. 75
    John Autin says:

    I think “Mr. Perfect” is at least 1% Rickey Henderson.

    I suspect that Rickey agrees. 🙂

  15. 76
    Tim Pea says:

    Sometimes I think Paul Molitor might have been the modern day pied piper of steroids. Look at that guys late career numbers.

    • 84
      Insert Name Here says:

      There’s actually a good amount of speculation about that, if you dig deep enough into the chat sites and sports blogs where nobody really has evidence, beyond José Canseco’s infamous claim that there is one current HOFer who used steroids, and his later claim that it isn’t Rickey Henderson, who is what most people assumed he meant (I think Rickey was the most recent inductee when he said it), but someone elected early in the 2000s decade. Canseco has been correct about almost everything he’s said about who did and didn’t use steroids, and Molitor was busted for cocaine in the 1980s (which is a PED in its own way, I guess, and certainly shows his drug willingness), so your theory isn’t terribly far-fetched.

      Of course, there is also the fact that among the inductees in those years (2000-04), only Dennis Eckersley was a teammate of Canseco’s, and he first had success as a closer in… 1988.

      Either way, there is no concrete evidence against either of them, just circumstantial evidence. And in my mind, that’s not sufficient evidence.

      • 87
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        I read Canseco’s book about 4 years ago.
        Pretty sure I remember him clearing Rickey, saying that Rickey was a “freak of nature.”

      • 104
        Tim Pea says:

        All good points.

      • 110
        Andy says:

        For some reason I always presume that Canseco was referring to George Brett as the steroid user.

        • 124
          topper009 says:

          No, he was referring to George Brett as a Hemroid haver

        • 128
          Insert Name Here says:

          George Brett was inducted ’99, but I was actually paraphrasing, Canseco had actually said the ‘roider was inducted “about 7-8 years ago” before whenever he said that, which was a few years ago (I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly when using the Web). That would also explain why Brett was suddenly very good again in the late ’80s.

          However, it doesn’t fit with the infamous “Mr. Milkshake” story (which I failed to consider in my above analysis). “Mr. Milkshake”, for those who don’t know, is an HOFer who told Tim Boswell in the clubhouse that he was making a “José Canseco milkshake”, and then hit more HRs that season than he had hit in any season before. I failed to realize that this is probably the same HOFer who Canseco says is in the HOF, which would eliminate Eckersley (a pitcher) and Brett (whose personal best for HRs was in 1985, a little early for a “Canseco milkshake”).

          The batter that best fits the timeframes of induction and of the “Mr. Milkshake” story is Molitor (most HRs in 1993, inducted 2004). However, as terrible as it would be to learn that either of these two did it, Ryne Sandberg (30 HRs in 1989, 40 HRs in 1990, inducted 2005) and Wade Boggs (24 HRs in 1987, inducted 2005) loosely fit the timeframes.

        • 129
          Insert Name Here says:

          However, I’m surprised that you presume Brett. Most people actually presume someone inducted much more recently, such as Henderson, Gwynn, or even Ripken, despite Canseco’s insistence that the user was inducted 7-8 years prior to Canseco’s making the claim.

          • 144
            Ed says:

            INH –

            I have to disagree re: Molitor.

            1) As a % of PAs his home runs in ’93 were the same as in ’87 (3% both years). So I don’t see evidence of a home run surge.

            2) As you know, he was in a new home ballpark in ’93 and 13 of his 22 home runs came in Skydome, a park he seemed to really hit well in.

            3) He played 137 games at DH in ’93, his highest total at that point. Although his splits show that he hit better as a first baseman than as a DH, he likely benefited from the extra rest.

            Anyway, here’s a good article on the subject and speculation re: the top candidates. The Boswell quote is definitely ambiguous…it sounds like he might be referring to something that happened in 1988 (Boswell definitely first wrote about Jose Canseco milkshakes in 1988).


        • 136
          Tim Pea says:

          @110 Are you serious Andy? George Brett? I think Brett was as clean as the wind driven snow. He was a unique player, but PED’s? I don’t think so.

          • 138
            Andy says:

            I find nobody above suspicion. Many of the guys we now know used seemed lily white before we knew. I have no real evidence about Brett, but the guy always seemed like a jerk to me and had a late-career surge that matches the timeline.

          • 139
            Ed says:

            Andy – Where are you seeing a late career surge for Brett? He had his last really big year at age 32. His age 37 year was no different from what he did at ages 33-35.

          • 140
            Insert Name Here says:

            I’m stubborn. I’m sticking with Molitor as the guy. I know about the ballpark change and all, but his career best for HRs was at age 36, with almost twice as many HRs as his previous season. He fits both Boswell’s and Canseco’s stories.

          • 141

            I don’t really see a late surge for Brett:

            Of course, perhaps longevity in general is reason to suspect. Playing baseball in your late 30s is hard, surge or not.

          • 145
            Tim Pea says:

            @138 I suppose you’re right, we don’t really know what goes on when the camera is not on. I’m biased, growing up in Nebraska Brett was larger than life and a local hero. You might say he had a bit of a late career surge, but he was hurt so often in his mid career it really cost him. At age 34 he stopped playing 3B, and DH’ed almost exclusively his last 3 years. That had to have helped him stay healthy late in his career. Brett might be the only player in the history of sports to freak out so bad over a blown call, they actually reversed and replayed it. He was a hero in the mid-west for taking on the evil east coasters.

          • 146
            Andy says:

            @Adam and Ed, my point is that Brett didn’t suffer such a drop off at later ages…that equals a surge in my mind.

          • 147

            That’s fair. Molitor didn’t surge either, but rather stayed steady like Brett.

          • 148
            Ed says:

            @146 Andy

            Well Brett did drop off some from his earlier highs. And I remember a quite cogent analysis centered around Derek Jeter that showed that we shouldn’t necessarily expect such drop offs:


          • 149
            Andy says:

            Ed you sly devil! Trying to get me to argue with myself!
            It’s obviously unusual for a player to continue to play at or near peak levels after age 35. A number of guys have done it, yes, but it’s not the norm. Let’s also disregard all those who did it in the late 90s and early 2000s with chemical enhancement.

          • 150
            John Autin says:

            Brett’s “late surge” in batting has to be measured against his younger averages. And his overall value (not just batting) also should be considered.

            From age 22-32, Brett averaged a 148 OPS+ and 5.6 oWAR. From 33 on, he had just 2 years that were even close to those averages — age 35 and 37, 149 OPS+ and 153 OPS+, with oWAR of 5.0 and 4.3.

            Brett’s oWAR at 35 and 37 were just his 8th- and 11th-best years.

            And batting value is what’s best retained as players age. In overall value, Brett’s aging pattern doesn’t seem unusual.

            From 22-32, Brett averaged 6.1 WAR. In 8 full years from 33-40, he never approached that mark, with a high of 5.0 WAR.

            In terms of WAR per 150 games, it’s even more clear. Brett averaged over 5 WAR/150 in 10 of 11 years from 22-32 — and never again.

            Ultimately, the only thing I find unusual in Brett’s aging is that he played a lot of games in his late 30s — from 35-40 he averaged 142 games, compared to 128 from 29-34. But even that can be partly explained by switching from 3B to 1B at age 34 (and then to DH from 38-40), and perhaps by simply not playing so “all-out” in later years.

          • 156
            Chad says:

            @Andy138 … does this guy seem like a jerk to you? One of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.


      • 125
        topper009 says:

        “Molitor was busted for cocaine in the 1980s”

        which is why he was the only player for Milwaukee in the 1980s to not have a mustache, cant block the nose

        • 142
          Tim Pea says:

          Was Molitor actually busted for cocaine, or did it just come to light that he had used it? When he had his late career surge I remember it being tossed around but I don’t remember the details. I know it was early in his career.

  16. 83
    JasonZ says:

    John A.-

    Ricky does agree, but only if you move that decimal point two places right.

    Timmy Pea-Paul Molitor debuted in a low offensive environment and finished in a high offensive environment. So there is that. Also his swing looks a lot like Joe D.

    Finally, as I mentioned once before on the old site, my buddy who pitched for the Angels told me that Paul Molitor was the best hitter he ever faced. He debuted in 1990, which I think was Molitor’s 14th season. Just saying, and I assume and hope you are kidding about Molitor but who knows?

  17. 85
    JasonZ says:

    The tragedy is that the speculation is out there. And rightfully so.

    What saddens me is that in a sport where the numbers mean so much, they have in some ways become meaningless.

    I wonder if the kids today relish the numbers the way we did.

    Does anyone study the back of baseball cards anymore?


    I doubt it.

  18. 88
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    I’m continuing the Larry Walker commentary down here with a serious question:

    Does anybody know how to contact Larry Walker directly?

    Because I think we should ask him his opinion.
    Look, he’s not running around pimping his HOF case with a book like Mike Piazza.
    Maybe he is a 100% honest person who would (and could) give an honest answer to the question:

    Were you one of the best of all time or a toosly better-than-average canadian who especially liked thin dry air?

    • 91
      Insert Name Here says:

      Voomo, he addressed it somewhat here:

      He does want to get in (but doesn’t directly say that he thinks he should). He also doesn’t seem to entirely understand how the home/road splits are used to compare him to other players’ careers, but he likes that it’s done that way.

      • 103
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        “Ask anybody who looks at me — if there was a needle going in my butt, it had pancake batter in it, not steroids. ”

        – Larry Walker

    • 92
      bstar says:

      What I always found a little off-putting about Walker is he constantly let it be known that he’d rather be playing hockey. To each his own, but I always took his repeated insistence on this as being a bit disrespectful to the game of baseball. I get it, hockey was his passion, but the general vibe I got from him was that baseball almost bored him.

      Not one of my favorites for sure.

      Is this guiding my narrative about questioning the legitimacy of his Coors Field numbers? That might have been the genesis of it, I admit.

      But most of it I can trace back to an article by Jay Jaffe at Baseball Prospectus when he was laying out a yes/no case for Todd Helton for the HOF. He proved pretty effectively to me that Helton may have the biggest home field advantage in the history of baseball (considering the length of time he’s played in Colorado), although a few others have a higher home/road OPS discrepancy than him.

      Disclaimer: this article contains no definitive proof about Larry Walker’s case. I’m just presenting it as the article that got me to thinking that runs produced in that high offensive context may not be as valuable as WAR is currently telling us.

      I understand Helton and Walker aren’t the same player and that Walker didn’t have almost 5000 PA in Colorado like Todd does, but I consider Jay Jaffe a pretty credible source about the Hall and he also harbors a bit of doubt about Walker’s numbers to this day (based on his recent comments on some MLBNetwork show).

      I totally think Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer. I just don’t think he was as good as most of the guys in the Circle of Greats logjam we currently have.

    • 108
      Chuck says:

      “Does anybody know how to contact Larry Walker directly?”

      He’s in Scottsdale with the Rockies as an instructor, and is the Team Canada hitting coach in the WBC who as luck would have it are also in Arizona.

  19. 89
    bstar says:

    660 – to me, etched in stone just like 714 and 755
    190(or is it 191?-Hack Wilson)
    52, 149, .320 (George Foster in ’77-I’ll take those TC numbers to my grave)
    792(Speaker’s doubles record)

    That’s certainly how I grew up, Jason. I remember Yaz’s last few cards and marveling at how small they had to make the print to fit all of his stats. You could barely make out the numbers.

    Man, I love and miss me some counting stats.

    • 90
      bstar says:

      This was meant as a reply to JasonZ @85

    • 95
      MikeD says:

      4,191 is still stuck in my head.

      I understand and agree with the revision to 4,189, but 4,191 is still there in my head. That said, I do have issues with other revisions that take today’s rules and make them the rules of a past generation, in some cases altering league leaders.

  20. 96
    JasonZ says:


    My brain is swimming with numbers from almost
    40 years ago. They won’t leave.

    Say Hey kid you say…

    .477 his BA at Minneapolis before Giants promoted him in 1951.

    0 for 12 before the first hit, a homer off Spahn.

    Hack Wilson picked up that 191st RBI some sixty years after that 1930 season. 56 homers .356 BA

    .303 the cumulative NL BA in 1930.

    .319, Phillies team BA in 1930. Good for 6th place

    184, Gherig’s AL RBI record, 1931?

    .316 44 121, Yaz in 67.

    2,721, Le Grand Orange career hit total. Might be 2,716, I have doubts.

    .353 52 130, the Mick in 56

    3509. The Big Train. May have been revised.

    416. The Big Train.

    373. Matty and Grover.

    37. Tommy Holmes NL record for hitting in consecutive games. Broken by Charlie Hustle in 78.

    .340. Clean Jones for the miracle Mets.

    26. Tommy Agee HR for the same.

    25-7. Tom Terrific, again the same.

    3. Thurman Munson HR for the season when he
    died at 4:02EST on 8-2-79.

    17 HR 96 RBI for the Yankees in 1976…Chris Chambliss

    Donnie Baseball…
    23 110 in 84
    31 113 in 86
    35 145 in 85

    493. Gherig’s career HR total.

    118. Lou Brock SB in 1974.

    Some of this may be wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    The fruits of time well spent.

    I could go on all nite, but alas…

    • 98
      Richard Chester says:

      Sorry to be a party pooper but the Phils batted .315 in 1930, good for 6th place. Standings-wise they were last. The .303 NL BA for 1930 is correct. If the Phils finished 6th in batting the NL average would most likely be more than .303

    • 100
      RJ says:

      JasonZ, do you have a long lost brother who deals in expensive cars and is perhaps played by Tom Cruise?

    • 109
      bstar says:

      Most impressive, Jason!

      I loved the all-time HR list.

      563 Reggie

      548 Schmidt

      630 for Griffey

      two guys at 511 and 521(some combination of Mccovey, Banks, Ted Williams, ?Ott?). I recently discovered somebody re-tied the 521. I think it was Big Hurt

      don’t know most of the recent guys’ final totals

      493 also for Crime Dog and 399 for Kaline. 398 for Murphy (damn!)

      475 for Winfield and Yaz

      586 and 573 I think F Rob is the first and Killebrew is the latter

      699 AB for Dave Cash in 1975 (the record back then)

      Mike Schmidt hitting 38 HR three straight yrs in the ’70s

      Adam Dunn with 40 HR for ?4? straight years

      .388/.390/.394 for Carew, Brett, Gwynn

      .281, 36, 108 (later changed to 109) for Murph in ’82

      .300, 36, 121 in ’83

      and Maddog: 16-6 1.63/19-2 1.56 in ’94/’95

      a few of those HR totals are probably wrong.

      Yeah…this is fun.

      Ooooh, I really butchered the guys at 475. It’s Stargell and Musial tied, and Pujols is visiting there as well. And I flip-flopped Maddux’s ERAs.

    • 114
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      Yaz hit .326 in his Triple Crown year of ’67, not .316, which was Frank Robinso’s BA in HIS Triple Crown year of ’66.

      Anyone who was a Red Sox fan of about my age has those numbers permanently etched in their brain.

    • 116
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      To give you an idea how extreme the BA (.303) of the 1930 NL was:

      In the 1968 AL, Tony Oliva had the third best BA, .289. In the 1930 NL, this would’ve been the 9th WORST BA.

  21. 97
    JasonZ says:

    One more for you Bstar

    29 121 George Foster with that black bat in 76.

    Ashamed to admit I can’t recall his BA.

    17-18. Nolan Ryan in 1976.

    9 HR 30 RBI. Ron Cey in April 1977 as the Dodgers jumped out to a 17-3 start and unseated the Big Red Machine in the classic NL West.

    3. Reggie Jackson’s swings and homers in game 6 as the Yankees ended a 15 year drought against the Dodgers in the Fall Classic that same season. BTW, 32 110 during the 77 season.

    OK. Now I am really done, and yes I know I have a problem.

    • 111
      bstar says:

      No you don’t have a problem. I love this stuff.

      Pete Rose .370 in the ’75 World Series (Given that avg and the number of games, I remember deriving it had to be 10 for 27. One of the first tasks I asked my first calculator to compute).

      27-10 Carlton in ’72. 25-3 for Guidry in ?’77? 24-8 for Smoltz in ’96. 24-4? in ’85 for Gooden- not sure on that one. 19-1 for Big Unit. Sutcliffe 16-1 as a Cub in ’84. Maddux again 19-4 with a 2.20 in ’97 (but Pedro was sub-2.00 that year). Gibson’s 1.13 in ’68.

      I remember Dale Murphy setting the then-NL record for April RBI in 1985. Maybe it was Cey’s record he broke.

      • 112
        Ed says:

        Bstar and Jason Z – I’m impressed! When I was younger I used to be able to do this but not anymore. And I can’t blame age cause I know Bstar’s about the same age I am and it sounds like Jason is older than me.

  22. 101
    JasonZ says:

    My bad. I definitely thought the Phil’s led in BA and finished in sixth place. How silly.

    The giants do make sense, because now that I think of it, they were buoyed by Bill .401 Terry.

  23. 102
    JasonZ says:

    No. Just a memory that runs in the family.

    My grandfather was in the record business for about fifty years. Had a place near Times Square until 1972. He was an expert in rare records. He provided hard to get records for Eisenhower, Kennedy and LBJ.

    I would watch Name That Tune on his knee
    In the early 70’s. He never missed one.

    He would sing Suwanee River to me. Now that I think of it, probably due to that classic Honeymooners episode. As we all know Ed Norton is not the composer if that song.

    In 1981 just to test the legend, I pulled out the Victor Record Catalog. Around 150,000 entries, singles I believe. 13 times I gave him a number. 13 times he gave me the artist and song title, as well as the flip side.

    Nine years after he retired.

    There was no reason to continue. He could not be stumped.

  24. 117
    Jason Z says:

    Okay Ed and Bstar…

    I will be 46 on Sunday. Happy birthday to me and Eddie Murray.

    Here goes, just gonna let it fly…

    Louisiana Lightning was 16-7 in 1977
    25-3 1.74 248 K’s in 1978, 18-8 in 79, 11-5 in 81.
    22 or 21-9 in 85.

    Dave Rozema 15-7 in 1977
    Mark Fydrich 19-9 in 76, 6-4 in 77

    Frank Robinson had 2,943 hits

    Eddie Collins had 3,318

    Pete Rose 4,256

    John Hiller, 38 saves in 73

    Jerry Koosman 3-15 in 78 with the Mets, 21-10 in 79 with the Twins.
    I want to say 222-209 career.

    Tom Seaver 3,640 K’s
    16-13 in 67, 14-11 in 76
    7-3 on June 15 when traded to Reds for Dan Norman, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson
    and Pat Zachary.
    Steve Henderson 10 65 .297 ??? in 1977 after the trade. Tom Seaver 14-3 with the machine post trade.

    Tom Seaver 16-6 in 1979
    9-14 in 83 back with the Mets. 15-11 in 84 on the South side, 16-11 in 85.
    Stupid Mets…

    Buzz Capra 16-8 2.28 in 74
    Phil Neikro 16-8 with the Yankees in 1984.

    Tom Grieve 20 81 in 76 with the Rangers.

    Mark Bomback 10-6 with the 79 Mets. Craig Swan 14-13 same year.

    Darrel Chaney, 50 errors in 1976, Braves SS.

    Bert Blyleven, 14-9 for the family in 79.

    Dave Kingman 48 115 in 79 for the Cubs, .288???

    Sandy Koufax 27-9 in 1966. Retires on top.
    19-5 in 1963, 26-8 in 1965.

    Thurman Munson 6 71 .297 in 78.

    Rico Carty 31 86 in 77 with the Blue Jays.

    Joe Torre .363 in 1971

    Joe Morgan .320 in 1976, 121 ribbies.

    Mike Flanagan, 23-9 in 79 for the Earl of Baltimore.

    Dock Ellis 17-8 in 1976 for the Boss. Pretty sure no acid.

    Graig Nettles 32 HR to lead the AL in 76.

    Reggie 47 118 in 69. Had 37 at the break.

    Lyman Bostock, .336 in 77.

    Keith Hernandez, .344 in 79.

    Joe D. 46 167 in 37. 39 155 in 48.

    Tommy Herr 8 110 in 87.

    Phil Neikro, 16-12 in 85 with Yanks.

    2,930-Cap Anson career hits.

    Harmon Killibrew 49 140 in 69.

    Graig Nettles 37 107 in 77.

    Joe D 29 125 as a rookie in 36.

    Ted Williams .388 in 57. Five lousy hits from .400. As the splinter said,
    hard to imagine a younger Ted Williams doesn’t have five more leg hits over
    six months.

    Smokey Joe Wood, 34-5 in 1912. ERA was stupid low. .366 BA in 1921.

    Walter Johnson 23-7, 1924.

    Tom Seaver 22-9 in 75.

    Rennie Stennet .336 in 77 ??? 7 for 7 in a game in 75.

    Hank Aaron 40 96 in 73. That is reaching 713 in style my friends.

    Hank Aaron 13 69 in 54.

    Doug Flynn had 66?? Ribbies in 79.

    Reggie 41 110 and his only .300 season in 80.
    39 101 with the Angels in 82.

    Jim Palmer was 15-5 in 1983.

    Willie Mays hit 52 bombs in 1965, 41 in 1954. 18 in 71.

    Doc 17-9 in 84, 24-4 in 85.

    Mike Schmidt had 31 Homers in strike shortened 81.

    Jim Rice 46 139 in 78.

    Denny McLain was 31-6 in 68, 24-9 in 69.

    Willie Horton 29 106 in 79.

    The Man, 3,630 hits to go with those 475 bombs.

    Joe D. 361 homers, 369 K’s.

    Whitey Ford 236-106 ???

    Time for dinner.

    • 118
      bstar says:

      I’ll be 45 next Thursday, but I’m too old already to reply to that last one, Jason. 🙂

    • 121
      Ed says:

      Interesting that you share a bday with Eddie Murray. He was my favorite player when I was growing up. We shared a name (I was called “Eddie” as a kid) and I had a couple of his rookie cards.

      I’ll be 44 in early May so I guess I’m the baby of the group! Happy birthday to both of you!!!

      • 131
        Insert Name Here says:

        Speaking of Eddie Murray and birthdays…

        Mine’s September 6, date of Eddie Murray’s 500th HR, which was itself on the 1st anniversary of Cal Ripken’s 2131st consecutive game played. Recognizing the omen, I now secretly root for the Orioles when it wouldn’t hurt the Red Sox too badly.

        As for players actually born on that day, I manage an HOFer as well: Red Faber, born 9/6/1888, the year my direct ancestor Benjamin Harrison was elected U.S. President.

        • 132
          Ed says:

          INH – Completing the circle…my birthday is May 3rd, the same as the other HOF pitcher named “Red” – Red Ruffing. (Eppa Rixey, another HOF pitcher was also both on May 3rd).

          And your direct ancestor later campaigned of behalf of William McKinley, who ran his campaign from his home in Canton, OH – which also happens to be my hometown!

          • 133
            GrandyMan says:

            I don’t have a lot of notable players matching my birthday; probably the only Hall of Very Good guy is Jim Kaat.

            My dad, on the other hand, matches Hugh Jennings, Luke Appling, Reggie Smith, and Don Sutton.

          • 134
            Insert Name Here says:

            The circle is not complete yet! McKinley (like all Presidents of the 19th century) was inaugurated on March 4th, which is both my brother’s and a great-grandfather’s birthday. (Interestingly, the two of them were born exactly 100 years apart, so their birth dates (in MM/DD/YY form) are exactly the same.) Also born on March 4th were another HOF pitcher, Dazzy Vance, and a player named… wait for it… Red Murray.

            And… McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901.

          • 137
            Ed says:

            Bravo, INH, Bravo!!!

          • 162
            PP says:

            Old Hoss Radbourn tops out the Dec 11 candidates, and the best batter is Jay Bell, though Solzhenitsyn and Mahfouz add a literary flair to that date

          • 164
            T-Bone says:

            My birthday is 12/20. shared with Branch Rickey, and I have lived for the last 15 years in Delaware, ohio where Branch Rickey attended college (Ohio Wesleyen University) and was the Baseball coach a bit later on. The Branch Rickey Arena is a building named in his honor.
            I used to be able to tell you the latest season totals and career averages for any baseball player I had a card for, but the last cards I bought were in the 70’s and life has a way of taking over those leisure activities of our youth.

        • 151
          Mike L says:

          My odometer turns 57 next Tuesday. Along with HOF Pete Alexander (although my drink of choice is Diet Coke)

    • 153
      PP says:

      I always liked RBIs: Gehrig 184, Foxx 175, DiMaggio 167, Williams 159, Greenberg 183.

      I also used to love looking at Aaron’s career record, but who the heck can pick out numbers that would stand out from 10 other years? How about something like 314 44 123 might be close, and if it happens to be a match, I didn’t look.

      • 154
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Aaron’s best years are probably 1959 and 1963 (I know that WAR lists 1961, but that’s mainly due to his anomoulous +23 Rfield), but I know what you mean; it seems like most years between 1957 and 1971, he put up numbers similar to those that you listed.

        He did bat .314, he did hit 44 HRs (four times!!),and have 123 RBI, but not all in the same year. 1957 or 1963 probably comes the closest to your numbers.

      • 159
        bstar says:

        I love those gaudy RBI totals, too, PP, and Lou Gehrig is the unquestioned master. He’s got three of the nine seasons over 175 RBI. Hank Greenberg has two.

        Give him a full career, and I just can’t see how Gehrig doesn’t end up to this day as still the all-time RBI king. He only played a small portion of his age 36 season and finished a few RBI short of 2000. Henry Aaron ended up only ~300 RBI ahead of that mark.

        • 163
          PP says:

          How about RBI man Joe D? 1537 in 13 years. 143 per 162. Insane over the course of a career. Gehrig did have 149 per, which I’m assuming is the highest ever.

  25. 119
    JasonZ says:

    If only your birthday was next Friday, you would be 11.

    Happy Birthday.

  26. 122
    Jason Z says:

    Thanks for the birthday shout out Ed.

    I just checked, and I also got The Flying Dutchman.


  27. 123
    Jason Z says:

    To continue…

    My daughter is Feb. 9, Vladimir Guerrero, Mookie Wilson, John Kruk,
    Vic Wertz, Heinie Zimmerman and Clete Boyer. No HOF’ers but my angel
    has depth.

    My wife is May 6, Willie Mays!!

    My sister is Feb. 6, Babe Ruth!!!

    In a parallel universe we would have quite the juggernaut.

    • 155
      Chad says:

      Vlad has a chance, no?


      • 157
        Andy says:

        Vladdy was a great player and it will be interesting to see how the voting shakes out. He has only about 55 career WAR, just good enough to slip into the top 200 batters of all time. He’s really hurt by his defense, with a negative dWAR just about his entire career. He did win an MVP, which will help, but playing a bunch of years in Montreal will not.

        • 161
          bstar says:

          It’s bad logic, but it seems to me that if the Hall of Fame has Jim Rice and Andre Dawson in it, there should be room for the Impaler somewhere.

          Defensively, Vlad actually grades out as a slightly plus defender for his career (fielding runs-wise). It’s the positional adjustment that’s killing his dWAR.

          Were he not considered a steroid era baby, I think Vlad would sail into the Hall of Fame like Dawson did. Voters would love his MVP, his cannon arm in right was the stuff of legend, and his .318 career BA from the right side is mighty impressive irrespective of how you’re looking at it.

          But the fact that he played most of his good years in the steroid era means he may have to wait awhile.

      • 158
        Andy says:

        I just did a quick poll on Twitter and 50% feel Guerrero deserves to be in the HOF.

  28. 152
    mosc says:

    Nobody made the joke that Mr. Perfect bats mostly left, a little right, and very occasionally… switch. HA!

  29. 165
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  30. 166

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