Positional Mount Rushmore – Introduction & Sorting Players

So that not all of my posts are “A Look Back,” this is a new feature I thought of. I thought it might be fun to relive one of our most popular features (from a long time ago) – but with a twist. We’ve done Mount Rushmore posts for individual teams. But, in order to give us something else to do (especially in light of no Circle of Greats election, due to a Hall of Fame shutout by the BBWAA), I thought we could vote on a Mount Rushmore for each position.

I thought I would devise a little post for each position:

  1. Right Field
  2. Shortstop
  3. Second Base
  4. Center Field
  5. Left Field
  6. Righthanded Starting Pitcher
  7. Third Base
  8. First Base
  9. Relief Pitcher (no RP is not a real position; but why not have a round of voting on it, you know?)
  10. Designated Hitter
  11. Catcher
  12. Lefthanded Starting Pitcher

That’s the order that random.org generated for me, so that’s the order I plan to go with.

Here are the rules for our voting:

  1. Players will be eligible at only one position. For a complete list of multi-position players and where they will be considered eligible, please see the bottom of this post (and if you have any additions/questions, please let me know; I’m happy to make a change).
  2. A new post will go up, about once per week (as I’m able to compose them). I am not sure if I’ll write a wrap-up post after each one or not; I may do so at the top of the next post in the series. That’s kind of the way I’m leaning, anyway.
  3. You’ll vote in the comments under each post. There’s probably a better way to do that, like embedding a poll – but I know as soon as I do that, that there’ll be a “write-in,” and I won’t know how to deal with that. So we’ll just stick with our usual policy of writing in the comments. Plus, that way, we get discussion.
  4. I will select a few eligible players at each position to profile, as “featured” players; but I don’t want those to be the only eligible guys. You can feel free to vote for players off the list, as well.
  5. International players, Negro League players, 19th-century players, and even amateur players will be considered to be eligible for this exercise. You may include minor league/international/amateur qualifications as you see fit, and I will attempt to highlight some players in that category along the way. Probably most people here know that my general philosophy is that “19th century baseball isn’t really baseball,” so you know that I’m going outside my own general proclivities to make this process as all-inclusive as I can. This isn’t about MLB or individual teams, as some of our other voting series have been; this is about the greatest players in history, and selecting 48 of them as the greatest in history at their position.

The following players will be considered eligible at the following positions. The position is selected based on where I think they did their best work, not on the position in which they’re most likely to be named to the positional Mount Rushmore (though often the two are the same):
Pete Rose – Left Field
Stan Musial – Left Field
Babe Ruth – Right Field
Paul Molitor – Designated Hitter (but it’s very close – probably the closest call of any major modern player; 3 of his best 6 “position seasons” come as a 3B, with only 2 as DH and 1 at SS; but his next FOUR best seasons are all as a DH, for the majority of his top-10.)
Monte Ward – Shortstop (now listed as “John Ward” on baseball-reference; overall, this is the toughest call, but forced to choose between “pitcher” and “position player,” I go with the latter, and among positions, this is his most valuable)
Martin Dihigo – Pitcher (this is similar to the Monte Ward one, but I think I’m going to err on the side of what his Hall of Fame plaque emphasizes and place him as a pitcher; Bill James ranks him in left field, for what it’s worth.)
Rod Carew – Second Base
Robin Yount – Shortstop
Ernie Banks – Shortstop
Alex Rodriguez – Shortstop
Dennis Eckersley – Relief Pitcher (another tough call. WAR says he’s more valuable as a starter; but he’s more famous as a reliever, received more awards love as a reliever, and basically invented the position of “closer,” so I think given all those factors, he should be considered a reliever.)
And now for the “pretty sure these guys aren’t going to get any votes, but for the sake of completeness” division:
Joe Torre – Catcher*
Ben Zobrist – Second Base
Tony Phillips – Second Base
There are, like, a million more – but I don’t think we really need to debate Mark Loretta and Chone Figgins and Craig Counsell and Cesar Tovar and Cody Bellinger (at least, we probably don’t need to talk about Bellinger yet; if he can put up a few more years like 2019, we may have to revisit this conversation). So if it’s that level of player you’re interested in, that’s fine for discussion (far be it from me to squash discussion; if you want to talk about where we should position Bill Hall, by all means – let’s talk about it), but know that it probably won’t be germane to this series.
Most other likely players should be easy enough to figure out, but please let me know if there’s someone you think you might vote for, but for whom you’re not sure of position. I think we can all figure out that John Smoltz is a starter, that Mariano Rivera is a reliever, and that Cal Ripken is a shortstop, so I don’t think we need to belabor some of those kinds of discussions, even though they (and many others) played other positions, too.

So let’s have discussion on this post open for a few days; when I finish writing the RF post, I’ll put it up and we’ll run about one per week. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too!

*Incidentally, Joe Torre played over 500 games at each of C, 1B, and 3B. Has anyone else ever done that? I’ll let the trivia experts try to figure that one out.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard Chester
Richard Chester
3 years ago

I could not find any other players with 500+ games at C, 1B and 3B. I did find 14 players to do it for 100+ games going back to 1871.

3 years ago

Keith Moreland is next at 160 games at each of those positions, just ahead of B.J. Surhoff at 158 games.

3 years ago

When we did the franchise Mt. Rushmore, I used an online survey tool that promoted itself on the web, leading to a broader audience than regular HHS readers. Also, the survey could handle write-in votes. Maybe something to consider here.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
3 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Thanks, Doug. I believe you’re talking about the WordPress tool, correct? I’m trying it out in a draft. Thanks.

3 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

The survey tool was polldaddy.com (they now call themselves crowdsignal.com). You make the survey there, and then link to it from the post. You can see the HTML at the bottom of any of the Mount Rushmore posts.

As an example, the Braves’ Mount Rushmore post generated 54 replies on the website, but 456 votes on the survey.

Last edited 3 years ago by Doug
3 years ago

Dennis Eckersley – … WAR says he’s more valuable as a starter;

People tend to forget about how good Eck was early in his career. In fact, he’s one of only eight live ball era pitchers with 25 WAR and 15 WAA by age 24 (the others are Blyleven, Feller, Gooden, Tanana, Drysdale, Newhouser and Ferrell). Perhaps because of racking up over 1100 innings by that time, Eck’s workload and results definitely fell off after that (17.7 WAR/5.9 WAA age 25-31), ultimately leading to his conversion to a reliever starting at age 32.

Paul E
Paul E
3 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I believe Eckersley may have had some personal issues (failed marriage, etc…followed by a personal descent into a maelstrom) early on. But, he persevered and succeeded…..he never gave up on that haircut, either

3 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Eckersley wasn’t bad in 1986. He was league average. His alcoholism had also come to a head.

Oakland traded for him in the last week of spring training in 87 because they were looking for depth due to shaky health in their starting rotation. Larissa envisioned him as a utility player, fitting in wherever needed. He made two spot starts, was middle reliever, was the 7th and 8th inning guy, got saves here and there. And when Jay Howell was injured he stepped into the closer role.

This is a good article:


Paul E
Paul E
3 years ago
Reply to  Voomo

Thanks, Voomo – very informative. I believe his close friend and teammate Rick Manning may have, shall we say, tempted Mrs. Eckersley to the point of submission to his amorous urgings. That certainly could not have helped Eck’s outlook on life and world view…thus, the drinking.
No mention in the article of the haircut, though