If you haven’t, go check out the HOME STATS on our Honorees page. There’s some fun info, as well some pre-sorted lists of HoMErs for easy reference. For those who like to play along at home, it’s a treasure chest.
Previously, we looked at our standards via the NORMS tab, and this week I wanted to look at the TEAMS tab. I used it to create the Franchise Standings to the right.
Each of those columns shows something a little different that offers an intriguing window into how well or poorly franchises have developed talent over the years.
On the HOME STATS document, we don’t count one game as a season. That’s kinda silly. Similarly, no one thinks of Juan Marichal as a Red Sock. But if I told you he spent 1.7 percent of his time in Boston, that’s different. So for each team, we look at each team he played for and find the percentage of his career spent with that franchise. We go by a simple percentage of plate appearances for hitters and batters faced for pitchers. For example, 1951 enshrinee Jimmie Foxx stepped in 9676 times: 5241 with the Athletics (54%), 3937 with the Red Sox (41%), 250 with the Cubs (3%), and 248 with the Phillies (3%). Yes, I see the rounding errors there. For each team, we just add up the percentages of every HoMEr donned its livery to see how many HoME careers it can claim.
Looking only at the sixteen teams that have remained in constant operation since at least the founding of the AL in 1901, here’s the top 5 inclusive of our 1951 election (note that franchises are referred to by their current nickname):
- Giants : 7.1 (fractions of 17 players’ careers)
- Athletics: 5.3 (14)
- Braves: 4.2 (21)
- Tigers: 4.2 (7)
- Cubs: 4.1 (12)
Makes sense, right? The Braves and Cubs are older than dirt, and the Giants and A’s both had multiple dynasties. Meanwhile, our trailer, the Reds, went to three World Series and the most famous player during any of them was Edd Roush.
When you think about it, though, it’s kind of unfair to compare teams like the Braves, who debuted in 1876, to the Tigers who debuted in 1901. So if we divide the number of HoME careers for each team by the number of years between the franchise’s first season and our 1951 election, we can see who’s done the best job of acquiring great players. Here’s the top 5 seen that way:
- Athletics (c. 1901): 0.11 HoMErs/year
- Giants (c. 1883): 0.10
- Tigers (c. 1901): 0.08
- White Sox (c. 1901): 0.07
- Braves (c. 1876): 0.06
Connie Mack was one smart cookie. And so was John McGraw. And so, actually was Charlie Comiskey, although dumping Jacque Fournier and replacing him with Chick Gandil turned out to be, um, not so brilliant.
Now, if you still do want to know what team has had the most HoME players appear for it regardless of how long they were there, thisis your column. Recapping the top five:
- Braves: 21
- Giants : 17
- Athletics: 14
- Cubs: 12
- Phillies and Cardinals: 10
Who saw the Phils and Cards coming? Me neither.
ONE LOVE, WE DON’T GOT TO SHARE IT
Lets dig a little bit into the players themselves. Since the dawn of the free-agent era, “baseball purists” (read: old-white-guy media members) have bleated and pined for the golden days gone by when the great players played for one and only one team throughout their entire career. Thing is, that era never really existed. So far, the list of one-team HoMErs is pretty short—five:
- Lou Gehrig (Yankees)
- Charlie Gehringer (Tigers)
- Carl Hubbell (Giants)
- Walter Johnson (Senators)
- Ted Lyons (White Sox)
That’s eight percent of our inductees.
Let’s reduce the threshold a little bit. Here are other HoMErs who were with their teams for 90% or more of their careers:
- Ty Cobb (Tigers)
- Gabby Hartnett (Cubs)
- Harry Heilmann (Tigers)
- Christy Mathewson (Giants)
- Kid Nichols (Braves)
- Amos Rusie (Giants)
- Dazzy Vance (Dodgers)
- Ed Walsh (White Sox)
Oh, and Cap Anson spent 89.3% of his career with the Cubs (or what would become them).
Notice, I didn’t say they “stayed” with their teams. Remember, before 1976, they were obligated to remain due to the reserve clause. Indentured servants while the rest of us could leave a company at will. Kind of weird, that.
KINGS OF THE ROAD
How about the opposite? What players bounced around the most?
- Dan Brouthers and Paul Hines (10)
- Deacon White and Jack Glasscock (9)
- Al Simmons (7)
- King Kelly (6)
Simmons gets my nod as the bouncy aroundest of the bunch. In the 19th Century those other guys had lots more teams to choose from since teams folded (and so did leagues) much more frequently.
FUTILITY, RED LEGS BE THY NAME
What teams had the most short-time HoMErs? Players who spent 5 percent or less of their career playing time at some particular way station en route to retirement?
- Braves: 6
- Reds, Giants, and Pirates: 4
- Yankees, Phillies, and Athletics: 3
- Cubs and Twins: 2
- Red Sox and Dodgers: 1
The Braves top this list, but the Cincinnati Reds come in last with a whimper. The Reds got 16% of Sam Crawford, 13% of Buck Ewing, 10% of Sherry Magee, 6% of Harry Heilmann, 5% of Old Hoss Radbourn, 1% of Dazzy Vance and Amos Rusie, and a cool 0.2% each of Al Simmons and Christy Mathewson. Not even one of these players spent a quarter of their time in Cincy, and even hardcore fans would be pressed to recall some of them spending any time there. In fact, every other team in our standings can claim at least one player who spent more than half his career with them. But not the Reds
But don’t worry, Red Legs partisans, you’ll have your time beginning in the late 1980s when the Big Red machine rolls into HoMEville.
There’s lots more fun stuff to learn from the HOME STATS. We update it with every election, and we’ll continue to add fun features or enhance the ones we have as either they occur to us, or you request them. Which we hope you’ll do!