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All-Time HoME Leaders, Sidebars

All-Time HoME Leaders, Left Field – 21-40

ESPN did a thing recently identifying the top-50 players in the game. The best left fielder on the list was Christian Yelich at #41. With no active guys in our top-20 and only one coming today, it seems like we’re in the deadest of dead times in left field. We are. Or maybe we’re not?

On our lists today, you see six Hall of Famers. And there are two more outside the top-40. What I’m saying is that left field hasn’t been a place where the game’s best players have found themselves, at least not historically. A number of the best players on our lists – guys like Bonds, Rickey, and Raines – had the speed to play center. Al Simmons actually played there a bunch. Joe Jackson and Manny Ramirez are just barely left fielders, and Pete Rose makes Eric’s list, but I put him at first base.

I’m not saying a lot here, maybe just that the current drought isn’t so incredibly shocking.

[MAPES+], [CHEWS+], [1B, 1-20], [1B, 21-40], [2B, 1-20], [2B, 21-40], [3B, 1-20], [3B, 21-40], [SS, 1-20], [SS, 21-40], [C, 1-20], [C, 21-40], [LF, 1-20]

Left Field – 21-40

LF, 21-40

Where do we project the active player(s) to finish in our rankings?

Ryan Braun

Braun will always be one of my least favorite players because of the way he treated his urine handler back in 2012. There are PED users, and there are jerks. You can certainly be one without being the other. Braun, however, has a nice position in the intersection of that Venn diagram for me. The Brewer righty is no longer a very good player, posting just over 2.2 adjusted WAR per season over the last five years. He’s 34 now, and I don’t expect he’s going to move up the charts. It’s incredibly close between him and the two guys in front of him though. Just half a win moves him up two places. I think he’s a slight favorite to get there over the rest of his career. In other words, there’s no shot at a future in the HoME.–Miller

I know there’s a really great joke here about treating one’s urine handler, but I suspect it’s best if I merely invite our readers to silently craft their own middle-school boys locker room jokes.—Eric

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

There’s no conventional wisdom I’m aware of that keeps Willie Stargell or Ralph Kiner out of the Hall of Fame. Since Kiner is pretty close and could earn my vote if I become even more of a peak voter in the future, I’d say we’re most far from conventional wisdom on Stargell. He was a great hitter who couldn’t field and couldn’t run the bases. The value just isn’t there.–Miller

There’s a couple interesting names here. First is Jim Rice. The crowd that propounded “The Fear” thinks we have him too low. The crowd that railed against them probably thinks he’s too close to the in/out line. But once you take into account the effect that the Green Monster had on his fielding stats, he comes out looking a little better than I used to think. Another person of interest: Ken Williams. This ain’t the one who ran the Chisox, but rather a guy whose Hall chances were torpedoed by not becoming a regular until his late twenties. Too bad, heckuva player, and the first 30-30 guy. Remember when that was a thing? In Miller’s column there’s also Lou Brock who doesn’t even make my top-40. I’m guessing that’s not a common perception.—Eric

The only reason I didn’t mention Brock is because, unlike most of the baseball loving population, the Hall of Merit is wise enough not to include him.–Miller

Where do we disagree with one another the most?

Since we mostly don’t disagree much here, I thought I’d pause to talk tangentially about Ken Williams for a sec. For whatever reason, his career basically didn’t start until age 29. From that point forward he rated as one of the AL’s top performers for a decently long while. Every generation seems to have a guy or two who fit this profile: Sudden superstar, emerging out of nowhere at 27 or later who racks up a lot of value thereafter. The integration era had an entire league full of those fellows, and Japanese cross-over stars are kinda in that same category. I’m going to set those two special cases aside because I’m thinking of guys who started their MLB careers very late despite playing through normal development channels. You could make a pretty darned good team out of players with a similar profile as Williams.

C: Chris Hoiles (450 PA prior to age 27)
1B: Jake Daubert (0 PA prior to age 26)
2B: Davey Lopes (49 PA prior to age 28)
3B: Josh Donaldson (328 PA prior to age 27)
SS: Ben Zobrist (303 PA prior to age 27)
LF: “Indian” Bob Johnson (no PA prior to age 27)
CF: Cy Williams (349 PA prior to age 27)
RF: Gavy Cravath (419 PA prior to age 31)
DH: Edgar Martinez (280 PA prior to age 27)

Don Buford (48 PA prior to age 27)
Eddie Stanky (0 PA prior to age 27)
Ken Williams (274 PA prior to age 29)
Hank Sauer (178 PA prior to age 31)
Carlos Ruiz (0 PA prior to age 27)

P: Phil Niekro (89.67 IP prior to age 27)
P: Joe McGinnity (0 IP prior to age 28)
P: Dazzy Vance (33 IP prior to age 31)
P: Babe Adams (26 IP prior to age 27)
P: Tom Candiotti (88 IP prior to age 28)

P: Curt Davis (0 IP prior to age 30)
P: Preacher Roe (2.67 IP prior to age 28)
P: R.A. Dickey (12 IP prior to age 28)
P: Ellis Kinder (0 IP prior to age 31)
P: Hoyt Wilhelm (0 IP prior to age 29)
P: Doug Jones (20.67 IP prior to age 30)

These guys make Jose Bautista’s early years look like a cakewalk. I had to actually cut down the roster because I’d exceeded 25 men. That left Lefty O’Doul (78 PA prior to age 31) and Frank McCormick (103 PA prior to age 27) on the outside of the candy shop looking in.

Oh, and if you’re looking for someone like this in mid-emergence right now, try looking in St. Louis where Tommy Pham (2 PA prior to age 27) has suddenly put it together for the Redbirds.–Eric

I don’t know. Ken Williams and Mike Smith are a few rankings apart. There was once a time when Eric sort of advocated for Charlie Keller’s inclusion into the HoME. But really, there are no big differences.–Miller

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

Ralph Kiner is an extreme peak player who we haven’t elected. Jose Cruz has a relatively low peak, and he’s in. The thing is, Kiner’s peak is so short that his peak value, at least by my system, isn’t amazing, just 12th at the position. His career rank is 30th, and far from 29th. The truth, however, is that MAPES ranks Kiner above Cruz. The Astro great is in the HoME, in no small part, as a function of his era. If you needed to put Kiner in instead, I wouldn’t offer a major objection.–Miller

I see that peak question and raise. If you look at my list on the right, you’ll see a whole mess of peak-oriented candidates. Not only Kiner but Keller, Belle, Williams, and Jones. Mediwck, Kelley, Giles, Rice, and Foster each have a relatively short career, and each of them lags behind because they are peak candidates disguised as prime candidates, but whose peaks weren’t high enough or long enough to offset the garbage time years before and/or after they became good players. Or I don’t value peaks or careers, correctly. I think I’ll say it’s the former so I don’t have to redo 1,000+ players’ profiles.—Eric


In a week, we move to center field. It’s Willie Mays, right? It has to be Willie Mays.



8 thoughts on “All-Time HoME Leaders, Left Field – 21-40

  1. Maybe every position is distributed evenly, but a number of left fielders have “extra” credit that makes them worthy of scores approaching or easily exceeding 100.

    Minnie Minoso – Negro Leagues
    Ralph Kiner – Korean War/development lengthened
    Charlie Keller – World War II and Minors Credit in legendary Yankee farm system
    Brian S Giles – blocked from being a regular until 26 in greatest modern offensive dynasty
    Charley Jones – pre-National League value (National Assocation, other minors)

    Tom Thress rates Willie Stargell as at worst mid-tier HOFer:

    Pops was also excellent in an RE24 situational way, 498 batting runs, 591 RE24.

    I need to refresh my personal hall, but in my 2017 update, only Kiner missed my list from the 6 guys above.

    Posted by Ryan | May 14, 2018, 9:31 pm
    • I can’t argue with your selections, Ryan, and I really appreciate that we have different ways of going about our work. If you were only going to include, say, 20 left fielders, which of your added guys would make it? Who would fall off?

      Posted by Miller | May 15, 2018, 11:54 am
      • Thanks for asking Miller, placing players in tiers, I have an approximate ranking:

        Greatest position players ever (sans Ruth): 1-2
        Barry Bonds
        Ted Williams

        Inner circle: 3
        Rickey Henderson

        Close to inner circle: 4-5
        Carl Yaz
        Ed Delehanty

        Upper half: 6-10
        Al Simmons
        Joe Jackson
        Manny Ramirez
        Fred Clarke
        Jesse Burkett

        Top-mid tier: 11-15
        Goose Goslin
        Tim Raines
        Charlie Keller
        Jimmy Sheckard
        Billy Williams

        Bot-mid tier: 16-18
        Minnie Minoso
        Sherry Magee
        Bobby Veach

        Comfortably in: 19-22
        Willie Stargell
        Bob Johnson
        Charley Jones
        Zack Wheat

        Gray in: 23-26
        Lance Berkman – 1000 OF, 750 1B
        Brian Giles
        Harry Stovey – 950 OF, 550 1B
        Joe Kelley

        Gray out: 27-30
        Roy White
        Joe Medwick
        George Foster
        Ralph Kiner

        Close: 31-33
        Albert Belle
        George Burns
        Ken Williams

        Posted by Ryan | May 15, 2018, 9:24 pm
        • Hey Ryan,

          Sorry about missing this comment for a couple of days. Clearly, your list isn’t hard to defend at all. But I’m wondering about positional balance and/or the size of your particular Hall. It feels like 26 is a lot. Are you light on some positions, or do you have a personal Hall a bit larger than the one in Cooperstown?

          Posted by Miller | May 19, 2018, 4:38 pm
          • Hall is about equivalent to Cooperstown, maybe bump one of Kelley or stovey, need to revisit this. I do strive for positional balance in general, although I have more shortstops in than other positions, the field generals of the game seem to stack up extras beyond the other positions.

            Posted by Ryan | May 23, 2018, 10:29 pm
            • I buy general positional balance, not perfect positional balance. Agreed.

              Posted by Miller | May 23, 2018, 10:38 pm
  2. Eric, your list looks dubious to my eyes versus Miller’s. I loved Jose Cruz, but come on!!!

    You also have Jim Rice way too high, in my opinion. Did you get Rice’s updated DRA stats from Dan Hirsch’s site? I was the one who originally emailed him about the adjustment needed in DRA for Coors’ outfielders and Fenway left fielders. He made the fix years ago but actually double counted the tweak on total runs saved, thereby artificially bloating Yaz and Rice’s fielding numbers. I emailed him again last year and he fixed this error on roughly April 22, 2018. If your defensive numbers for Rice were harvested from Baseball Gauge too much before that date, they are probably wrong. Same things goes for guys like Larry Walker (all Coors outfielders) and other left fielders from Fenway.

    Miller, the way you slice your pie is a better reflection of what the metrics are telling me — please give Eric your knife!! 😉

    Posted by hersheydavinci | May 19, 2018, 11:45 am
    • In general, Eric’s the guy to be trusted more, I think.

      Thanks for the DRA catch for Dan. And yes, that changed our numbers. However, when Humphreys wrote about DRA, he noted OF issues in COL, and LF issues in BOS and NYY. Because of those issues, we made corrections to DRA numbers. To my understanding, once Dan (you) got the DRA numbers corrected, it became time for us to eliminate our adjustment. Thus, there weren’t huge changes for Rice, Walker, etc. If you can advise differently, please do!

      With all of that said, one of the best parts of this whole HoME project is being able to check numbers against those of a like thinker. It’s often the case that when we have a separation like the one we have for Rice, there’s a data entry error. Yes, we’ve imported tons of data, but I’d say I have tens of thousands of hand-entered numbers as well. There’s no way all of them are right. We rely a lot on each other and readers like you to point out where we may be off.


      Posted by Miller | May 19, 2018, 11:55 am

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