Welcome to part five of my series on teams that had six 40-WAR players, age 30 or younger, with at least 1.0 WAR that year. (Series recap at bottom.) You might have thought I’d curb the verbiage for the 1935 Cubs, the fulcrum of a might-have-been dynasty that couldn’t even win one lousy title. But I have to clear my historical decks to get ready for live action again. And aren’t the final-stage shortfalls more interesting than the happy winners? So put on your waders, climb into the data dump, and see what’s worth salvaging!
Welcome to part four of my series on teams that had six 40-WAR players, age 30 or younger, with at least 1.0 WAR that year. (Series recap at bottom.) Our subject is the first flower of what would grow into one of baseball’s true dynasties — one of four teams ever to win three straight World Series, and the only one of those not named “Yankees.” Enjoy the ride!
Picture a team that suffered these losses:
- En route to a championship, two aces in their prime succumbed to arm woes, and wouldn’t pitch in the World Series, nor ever win again. The team’s top winners of the last three years, they ranked 4th and 6th over all in WAR/pitch.
- Before the next year, they dealt their superstar, age 28, for two guys who’d give almost nothing in the next 4 years.
- That next year brought the swift and mostly permanent decline of two more aces (tied for the team lead at 19-8 the year before), plus three star regulars, all still in their 20s.
Suppose those eight gave 60% of team WAR in the title year, plus World Series shares of 3 wins, 62% of team hits and 73% of the RBI — but that their value to the team’s next 3 years (including trade progeny) averaged less than 1 WAR apiece.
What if that ravaged team not only repeated, but took a third title in year four: Just how much talent was there at the start?
This is part two of my series on teams that had six 40-WAR players, age 30 or younger, with at least 1.0 WAR that year.
I had planned to take two at a time, but the 1931-33 Yankees deserve their own in-depth look.
Following up on my prior post, I looked at teams with the most 40-WAR players (career), who were then 30 or younger and had at least 1.0 WAR that year.
Eight distinct teams had six such players (one of them had seven), totaling 12 such seasons. Three repeated, and one lasted a third year. Chronologically:
Seven teams since 1901 had five players age 30 or under who would amass 50+ career WAR.* But those seven comprise just four distinct clubs. We’ll track the progress of those teams, after the jump.
From 1901 through 2000, no team played at least .536 ball in a 10-year span without any Hall of Famers — except these:
The Rockies still want a bonanza in return for Troy Tulowitzki. Now 30, he’s under contract for six more years at $20 million per, and he had hip surgery in August. When healthy, Tulo is a premier talent, earning his salary and then some. But he’s been hurt a lot: In eight years since becoming a regular (age 22-29), Tulo averaged 117 games, missing 28% of the schedule to injury.
What separates these two groups of hitters, besides their stats?
Suppose we sorted by salary all the 2014 position players. What salary lines would you guess might split them in two equal groups, by (1) total plate appearances, (2) total WAR, and (3) total salary?
Those answers, and more, after the jump.