The most important single figure in American sports history was also one of the greatest ever at playing the game of baseball. “Faster than you can say Jack Robinson” (a phrase dating back to the 18th century), Jackie Robinson becomes the 65th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats. More on Robinson and the voting, after the jump.

Most (Non-Pitching) Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, Baseball-Reference Version) Over the First Seven Seasons of a Major League Career:
1. Ted Williams 63.4
2. Albert Pujols 54.7
3. Mickey Mantle 52.2
4. Wade Boggs 51.5
5. Willie Mays 50.9
6. Jackie Robinson 50.7
7. Barry Bonds 50.1
8. Joe DiMaggio 48.7
9. Stan Musial 48.4
10. Arky Vaughan 48.0

Jackie Robinson played second base for only five seasons, but nevertheless the four top WAR seasons by a second baseman over the last 85 years (1930-2014) have been:

Joe Morgan (1975), 10.9
Jackie Robinson (1951), 9.7
Joe Morgan (1976) and Jackie Robinson (1949), 9.6 each

Robinson moved to left field for 1953 and 1954, his age 34 and 35 seasons. Among all National Leaguers who played at least 50% of their games in left over those two seasons, the WAR leaders were:

1. Jackie Robinson 10.6
2. Monte Irvin 7.3
3. Ralph Kiner 5.7
4. Sid Gordon 4.9
5. Jim Greengrass 4.1

Robinson retired after the 1956 season, his age 37 season. Here are the best final seasons by a non-pitcher, in terms of WAR, by an MLB player whose career ended voluntarily (i.e., not because he died and not because he was banned from the league):

1. Jackie Robinson 4.5
T2. Roy Cullenbine and Bill Joyce 4.3
4. Will Clark 4.0

Jackie started in the majors as a star, left as a star, and was a star throughout, at positions all over the diamond. Jackie, Pete Rose and Gregg Jefferies are the only men to play at least 150 career games at first base, and second base, and third base and in the outfield — but unlike Rose and Jefferies, who were below-average defensive infielders, Jackie was above average defensively at all four positions, according to Baseball-Reference’s Total Zone numbers.

Although 282 men have played in more National League regular season games than Jackie since the World Series began, only five men have played in more World Series games as a National Leaguer.


Notes on this round’s voting:

–73 ballots were cast this round, the most since our eleventh round of balloting, 54 rounds ago.

–Jackie appeared on 67 ballots. Only Greg Maddux, all the way back in Round 3, has received more votes in a single round.

–On the other end of the ballot, the two relief pitcher holdovers, Hoyt Wilhelm and Dennis Eckersley, were separated by only one vote, but that one made all the difference. Wilhelm appeared on seven ballots, just below the 10% threshold, and thus falls off the ballot going forward, while Eckersley appeared on eight ballots, just enough to remain on the ballot for another round at least. Wilhelm supporters will need to try to get him back on the ballot via future redemption rounds.

–A push by some voters to get Ryne Sandberg up to the 25% level, which would give him an extra round of eligibility to add to his current three, fell just short.

–With Jackie elected in his first appearance on the ballot, no one other newcomer making an impact, and Wilhelm falling off the ballot the holdover list will drop from 13 this round to 12 next round.

The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1919 Part 2 Vote Tally.

The vote summary for recent Circle of Greats voting rounds is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round appear on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round appear on Sheet 2.

A spreadsheet listing the full membership to date of the Circle of Greats, along with some of their stats, is here: Circle of Greats Membership . You can also find that same link any time by clicking on “Circle of Greats” at the top of the High Heats Stats home page.

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