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All-Time HoME Leaders

All-Time HoME Leaders, First Base – 1-20

It’s hard to believe that the Hall of Miller and Eric has been around for nearly five years now. As transparently as we can, we’ve tried to determine the players, managers, executives, and pioneers who should rightfully be enshrined in Cooperstown. Also, we’ve tried to respond to what our readers have requested. With both transparency and commitment to our readers in mind, today we embark on the start of a 22-week journey where we reveal the top-40 players at every position based on Eric’s CHEWS+ (CHalek’s Equivalent WAR System) and my MAPES+ (Miller’s Awesome Player Evaluation System).

Each Monday until we finish the tour around our rankings, we’ll reveal half of a position’s top-40. As for pitchers, we’ll go 120 deep. Along the way, we’ll work on finding a place to store the information so you have quick access to it – and so you can see how our rankings compare to yours. So let’s get started!

First Base – The Top-20 All-Time

1B, 1-20

Where do we project the active players to finish in our rankings?

Albert Pujols

Pujols is no longer a good player, and he’ll be 38 this year. The only way he moves from 7th on the list is when I change my evaluation system. –Miller

I project him speaking at a podium in Cooperstown about eight to ten years from now.—Eric

Miguel Cabrera

A lot depends on how done one thinks he is. Even if he can still play better than 2017, he’s at an age where a regression won’t be toward his career-average productivity, but to a rate somewhere between there and 2017. Maybe he’s got a couple three-WAR years left in him? Either way, he’s a HoMEr, it’s only really a question of whether he’s #20 or #16—Eric

I choose to be positive here. Miggy is “only” 35, and he was an excellent hitter as recently as 2016. He could pass two or three more guys, and that’s the optimistic point of view. –Miller

Joey Votto

It’s kind of hard to say, actually. Votto is a very uncommon player type when you start to drill down into his profile. The reason he’s uncommon is that he’s far less athletic than other super productive hitters of his caliber. So I drew up a list using the BBREF Play Index (subscribe today! It’s cheap and amazing!). Critera: Ages any through 33, with baserunnning runs less than 0, sorted by batting runs. Votto has 428 batting runs, and here’s everyone above 350:

  1. Miguel Cabrera: 581 Rbat in 9000 PA
  2. Frank Thomas: 565 Rbat in 6878 PA
  3. Manny Ramirez: 499 Rbat in 7225 PA
  4. Jim Thome: 452 Rbat in 7039 PA
  5. Joey Votto: 428 Rbat in 6141 PA
  6. Gary Sheffield: 415 Rbat in 7357 PA
  7. Todd Helton: 404 Rbat in 6758 PA
  8. Reggie Jackson: 394 Rbat in 7340 PA
  9. Wade Boggs: 393 Rbat in 6725 PA
  10. Mike Piazza: 388 Rbat in 5734 PA
  11. Willile McCovey: 373 Rbat in 5734 PA
  12. Lance Berkman: 371 Rbat in 6355 PA
  13. Harmon Killebrew: 359 Rbat in 5525 PA
  14. Mark McGwire: 358 Rbat in 5633PA
  15. Eddie Murray: 357 Rbat in 8480 PA
  16. Jason Giambi: 354 Rbat in 5784 PA

Before we talk about what happened after age 33, a note that on a per-PA basis, the only hitter on this list who outperformed Votto is the great Frank Thomas.

Next I plotted out what each of these guys did after age 34 and compared the group’s aggregate performance at each age to their overall performance through age 33. Then I used the age-by-age comparisons to project Votto through age 40 with simple math based on his career total through age 33. That added up to 550 batting runs for Votto. I wanted to account for those players whose careers ended before age 40, and for those seasons, I used Excel’s trend function to provide Rbat estimates for missing seasons, which, as you might surmise, weren’t very flattering in most cases. Even doing so, I got to 530 Rbat for Votto. So a range of 530–550 runs.

I ran a PI search in the expansion era to see how many players have cleared 500 Rbat. It’s just 16 total. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are the only active players on the list. Alex Rodriguez is on the list but not yet eligible to be voted on by the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Miller and Eric. Here’s the list of every currently eligible player that the Hall of Fame hasn’t elected who exceeded 500 Rbat for their careers: Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Edgar Martinez. Two steroid guys and a DH who will be elected in 2018. We’ve elected all 14 eligible players so far. Heck, the only eligible players we haven’t elected among the 23 with 400+ Rbat thus far are Vlad Guerrero, Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew. Vlad has already drawn my vote, and he may get Miller’s someday soon as well. Jason Giambi and Lance Berkman are probably below the in/out line for us too, but they haven’t had to run the gauntlet yet. None of them is as good a hitter as Joey Votto.

Votto has, in my opinion, already done enough to get my vote. As long as the rest of his career progresses pretty normally, he’ll start climbing the ladder at his position and surprise a lot of people with how high he could finish.—Eric

Where do our rankings diverge the most from the conventional wisdom?

I’m proud to say it’s Keith Hernandez. He belongs in the Hall, and it’s not a particularly close call. Oh, and voters next winter will show us by just how much we eschew conventional wisdom when 26 of them vote for Todd Helton. –Miller

For me, it’s clearly Keith Hernandez. A lot of people have talked him up, but I’m probably his best friend on the internet. I probably place more emphasis on fielding at first base than most observers. But Hernandez is the Ozzie Smith of first basemen with a good enough bat. Also, my 1985 Topps All-Star card informs me that he’s a leader in Game-Winning RBIs.—Eric

Where do we disagree with one another the most?

We basically don’t disagree at first base at all. The rankings are a bit different, but all are within anyone’s comfort level for margin of error. The thing we disagree on most as far as first base is concerned is selecting the guys who fit the position. I put Ernie Banks, Pete Rose, Rod Carew, and Dick Allen here, while Eric sees them as a shortstop, a left fielder, a second baseman, and third baseman, respectively. I place guys at the position they played most, while Eric prefers to place them where they accumulated the most value.—Miller

Ernie Banks is a good example that demonstrates why each of our positions makes sense. Miller says the place where a fellow played the most is his primary position, which makes a lot of sense. I look at the fact that Banks accumulated roughly 35 Wins Above Average and 54.7 Wins Above Replacement at shortstop, then added -1.5 WAA and 10 WAR at first base, and I think he’s a shortstop. Actually, I use my own adjusted WAA/WAR totals when I’m assigning positions, but in this case, it doesn’t matter much. But it’s not always cut-and-dried for me. Rod Carew is within tenths of a win, and I could put him at either first or second base. I chose to stay consistent and place him where he accrued the most value, second base.—Eric

Are there any players that MAPES+/CHEWS+ might overrate or underrate? 

Frank Thomas played more than half his games at DH. For the purposes of ranking players, we’ve chosen to place majority DHes at the position they fielded the most. Someday when there are enough DHes in the HoME to split them back out, we may find that Thomas (and Edgar Martinez at third base) are a little better or a little worse in our rankings when they are only compared to designated hitters. For now, it’s good enough. —Eric

I sometimes wonder if three of the seven best first basemen ever really could have played before the turn of the last century. Though I suspect they didn’t, I just don’t have a better way. —Miller



8 thoughts on “All-Time HoME Leaders, First Base – 1-20

  1. This should make for a fun series. Thanks for doing it.

    Posted by verdun2 | February 26, 2018, 8:22 am
  2. Great stuff guys, thank you!

    Posted by Ryan | February 26, 2018, 8:54 am
  3. Curious about how easy/difficult it was to put Musial at 1B considering his total games and innings in an OF position are close to double what he played at 1st. Was it just a matter of saying “he played more game at 1B than any single OF position” or “he had more value as a 1B than as an OF”?

    Posted by Lucas Kimball | February 26, 2018, 12:47 pm
    • I absolutely take the easiest path when it comes to putting players at a position. It’s just the position they played most frequently. Otherwise, it would come down to guessing or parsing game logs. I admit it’s far from a perfect system, but it’s the one I can justify across the largest number of players.

      Eric, on the other hand, uses value at a position.

      Posted by Miller | February 26, 2018, 2:07 pm
  4. Okay – my preliminary list, but first, the caveats: I’m using the lists that I have for Hall of Merit voting, although I will omit primarily Negro League players to keep form with Miller/Eric. As a result, unlike the HoME, I give war credit, credit for pre-1871 play, and minor league credit in some cases for pre-WW II players (a major example of the will come into play when we get to Right Field).

    And speaking of RF, unlike Miller/Eric, that’s where I actually place Musial. Although he played the most games at 1b, and had more games in LF than RF, my system has him accumulating the most value in RF. So, like Eric, I place players based upon where they earned the most value, but since Stan the Man played RF before his WW II service, I give the majority of his aforementioned 1945 credit to RF. That said, if I did have him at 1b, he would also have been #1 on my list.

    And although my system isn’t totally finalized, I have also included approximate indexed PEACE+ ratings, for comparison to MAPES+ and CHEWS+.

    1. Lou Gehrig 220
    2. Cap Anson 200
    3. Albert Pujols 198
    4. Jimmie Foxx 186
    5. Roger Connor 175
    6, Dan Brouthers 162
    7. Johnny Mize 160
    8. Hank Greenberg 150
    9. Frank Thomas 147
    10. Jeff Bagwell 145
    11. Joe Start 138
    12.Jim Thome 129
    13. Mark McGwire 122
    14. George Sisler 120
    15. Miguel Cabrera 120
    16. Willie McCovey 119
    17. Keith Hernandez 118
    18. Ediie Murray 118
    19. Rafael Palmeiro 113
    20. Joey Votto 108

    21.-25. Jason Giambi, Frank Chance, Harmon Killebrew, Bill Terry, Will Clark.

    Posted by Michael Mengel | February 26, 2018, 4:29 pm
    • I love this list!

      1. My opinion on position is that pretty much anything you can justify is acceptable. Differences may make things less pretty, but they’re fine.
      2. Regarding War credit, I don’t prefer offering it, but doing so is completely reasonable.
      3. Regarding minor league credit, I don’t like offering it, but I can understand doing so.
      4. Regarding pre-NA credit, I’d like to offer it, but I find doing so too difficult. While Joe Start is down both of our lists, I think he’s actually closer to the HoME than guys higher on our lists. We’re satisfied enough with players from his era in the HoME. If we weren’t, he’d likely be the top candidate.
      5. What I like most is what we do at the HoME, but what I like second most is exactly what you do. Both are easy enough to justify and show internal consistency.

      Looking forward to more of your lists!

      Posted by Miller | February 26, 2018, 4:55 pm
      • Thank you. (It goes without saying that I appreciate yours and Eric’s lists as well).

        And most of my differences from your lists with mine are mostly attributable to the “extra” credit I give for War, Pre-NA, etc.

        The one exception, and it may not be too major, but ordinally it is a gap of over 10 spots from mine to each of yours, is Todd Helton. You both have him has, I suspect, a fairly comfortable HoMEr when he becomes eligible. I have him in high HoVG territory, the last of a cluster of modernish 1b (Will Clark, Olerud, Berkman, Helton), all of which have a PEACE+ score between 97 and 98. I suspect this has to do with each of your emphasis on DRA, which boosts his defensive numbers from straight RField. Overall, it’s not that great of a difference – in this range, its minor things that separate players, it just that it causes the in/out line to appear within that difference.

        Looking forward to the rest of these!

        Posted by Michael Mengel | February 27, 2018, 3:22 pm
  5. Yes sir, it’s DRA, or at least mostly DRA. And if you look at Helton’s aging curve defensively, I feel good substituting some of that for Rfield. It looks a lot more reasonable.

    Posted by Miller | February 27, 2018, 3:27 pm

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