So, I know what you must be thinking. Miller, you’ve been gone for months, and when you come back you do so with one of the least popular series in HoME history. Well, yeah. At least for me this is a really fun series. And I can use the NL and AL updates that come today and Friday to preview the post-season active player updates that will follow. No, we’re not officially back, but there is going to be some content in the coming weeks, including complete CHEWS+ and MAPES+ lists at every position, lists that will be archived on the site for your future reference.
But first, each National League team’s updated Mount Rushmore. If you don’t happen to recall, this isn’t about the four best players in a team’s history. Rather, it’s about the four best players in history that have never played for another team. So Ty Cobb isn’t on the Tiger list, and Willie Mays isn’t on the Giant list. Here we go!
- Paul Goldschmidt (40.1 WAR) isn’t leaving this list until he leaves Arizona or long after he retires. He’s signed for next year, but then the D’backs will have a decision to make. Do they give the cornerstone of their franchise a long-term deal starting at age-32, or do they part company? Goldschmidt is building a Hall of Fame career, so I hope Arizona resigns him.
- Brandon Webb (31.4) is locked too.
- Next on the mountain is A.J. Pollack (20.0), a pretty interesting player. His 2015 season made him one of only four players, joining Jacoby Ellsbury, Hanley Ramirez, and Cesar Cedeno with 39 2B, 39 SB, 20 HR, and fewer than 100 K in baseball history. He’s been injured a lot, but he’s been great when healthy. He leaves the Diamondback Rushmore only if he leaves the team. He’s not getting caught from behind for at least a few seasons.
- We have a change in the fourth spot. Last hear it was David Peralta, the lefty corner outfielder who just has his first 30 homer season. It was also his best season at 3.9 WAR. Unfortunately for him, Patrick Corbin (12.5) caught him from behind with a very impressive 4.8 WAR this season. Peralta is signed for another couple of seasons while Corbin could leave this winter, so there might be another change on the Diamondback Rushmore next year.
- Chipper Jones (85.0) is far and away tops here.
- After another outstanding season, Freddie Freeman (33.1) remains in second place. I just mentioned Paul Goldschmidt as someone on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Same with Freeman who is three years younger and could certainly join the fight if he keeps up his pace. As for Rushmore status, he’s signed for an extra couple of seasons, so he’s going to be here for a while.
- The Braves have had quite a long history, dating back to their 1876 Boston Red Stockings days. Yet, Julio Teheran (17.7) is third on their list.
- Perhaps more amazingly, Rick Camp (12.3) is fourth.
- Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (67.4), leads the way. Who else?
- Stan Hack (52.5) is second and only 14.9 WAR behind Banks. It doesn’t feel that close, does it?
- Charlie Hollocher (23.2) is third. You might not have heard of him. He played for the Cubs from 1918-1924. He apparently left the team in 1923 due to depression, tried to come back in 1924, but couldn’t. I wonder how many major leaguers have suffered from depression. For those looking for a silver lining in these difficult political times, it’s that in many places in this country, those who suffer from depression can come forward in ways not available 100 or even 10 years ago. That’s progress.
- Much to my surprise, the fourth spot remains held down by Bill Lange (22.9). That’s because Kris Bryant played only 102 so-so games and posted just 1.9 WAR on the season. He should bounce Lange off and Hollocher to third next year.
- Johnny Bench (75.0) leads the way.
- Barry Larkin (70.2) backs him up.
- Until Joey Votto (58.8) goes away or passes Larkin, this is his spot.
- Bid McPhee (52.4) is fourth.
- Davey Concepcion is waiting in the wings should Votto depart the Queen City.
- Todd Helton (61.2) sits atop this list, while the rest of it will be in flux for some time pending strong seasons, trades, and free agency.
- Nolan Arenado continued to add to his Hall campaign with another outstanding season and sits second at (33.1).
- The same cannot be said of Charlie Blackmon (16.1) whose contribution in 2018 was less than one win. He may need to do better than that because there are two very impressive players within a very good season of catching him.
- For now, it’s Kyle Freeland (11.5) who occupies the fourth spot on this list. Those of us on the east coast who know plenty about Jake deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola should tune into the awesome season Freeland had. Sure, it might only be the fourth best by an NL pitcher this year, but it deserves more celebration than it seems to have received. Too bad his Rockies were bounced from the playoffs so quickly. Of course, Freeland was awesome the one time he took the ball.
- Right behind Freeland is last year’s fourth guy, Trevor Story, just a tenth of a win short. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few seasons bring for this pair and for the Rockies.
- Don Drysdale (67.2) starts us off.
- Pee Wee Reese (66.4) follows.
- When the season began, there was just one question pertaining to the Dodger Rushmore: Where would Clayton Kershaw (64.6) land when the season ended? He needed 2.2 WAR to pass Jackie Robinson for third place, 7.1 to slide past Pee Wee Reese into second, and 7.9 to take the #1 spot from Don Drysdale. With 4.0, he lands in third. Sandy Koufax takes his place if he departs. Among current Dodgers, it seems Yasiel Puig (18.6) and Kenley Jansen (15.9) aren’t really threats. It also seems that Kershaw won’t add further seasons to his peak. Still, there’s every reason to believe he’ll top this list one year from now.
- Jackie Robinson (61.5) is fourth and not going anywhere anytime soon.
- What a mess this is. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcel Ozuna are all gone of last year’s list. Jose Fernandez (14.2) will hang around for a while, possibly forever. By the way, the aforementioned trio, including the clubhouse leader for MVP, Yelich, combined for more WAR last year than this.
- J.T. Realmuto (13.0) is a perfectly fine player whose WAR has increased every year in the bigs, reaching a high of 4.3 this past season. He’s arbitration eligible for the second time this winter after making $2.9 million in 2018. So maybe he won’t be a Marlin next year?
- I almost know who Derek Dietrich (4.6) is. On one hand, he’s a mediocre utility guy. On the other, he played nearly every day in 2018 on his way to 0.4 WAR. As long as he remains on the Marlin Rushmore, it’ll be clear this franchise is without hope.
- On the other hand, I know two players named Brian Anderson. However, neither is the Brian Anderson (3.8) who’s on the Marlin Rushmore. He was actually a very useful player in 2018, moving between third base and right field. Still, I don’t think it’s good with the Marlin’s long-term prospects to see him on this façade. Now if we could sub him for the other B.A. in the announce booth, that would likely be an improvement.
- Robin Yount (77.0) gets things started.
- Ryan Braun (46.4) will remain in second until the Brewers buy him out in two seasons (I’m guessing).
- Next is Teddy Higuera (30.7).
- Then there’s Jim Gantner (22.3).
- If Braun were to go elsewhere, moving up will be Dave Nilsson (10.5) unless Zach Davies (5.5) surprises.
- David Wright (50.4) continues to lead the way. One of my favorite live baseball moments came when I got to see Wright walk and pop out in the final two trips to the plate of his MLB career. Mets fans were great, a full 180 degrees from the reputations of negativity some of them have. It was such a joy to be there, in one of the most positive baseball atmospheres I’ve ever experienced.
- Next is Jacob deGrom (27.2), who I hope remains healthy (and a Met!) so Mets fans can continue to be happy about something.
- Noah Syndergaard (13.2) is third.
- And somehow, amazingly at least to me, Juan Lagares (12.8), who the Mets have never seen as a starter even when he has been, finishes out the Met Rushmore. Is he really still on the team?
- We start with Michael Jack Schmidt (106.5), now and forever.
- Next is Charlie Ferguson (32.1), a guy who spent the 1884-1887 seasons with the Philadelphia Quakers.
- Aaron Nola (15.5) flies up to third with his incredible 10-win 2018.
- Ryan Howard (14.9) finishes things off. Remember when MLB General Managers paid big bucks for runs batted in? Howard had 572 of them over four years from 2006-2009.
- Roberto Clemente (94.5) isn’t going anywhere for generations.
- Willie Stargell (57.5) is set too.
- With the departure of Andrew McCutchen, Sam Leever (41.3) moves into the third spot.
- And Bill Mazeroski (36.2) joins the Pirate Rushmore. It seems like there’s a better chance Starling Marte (26.2) prices himself out of Pittsburgh than that he gains enough value to catch Maz.
- It’s likely that nobody ever touches Stan Musial (128.1).
- And it’s pretty likely Bob Gibson (89.9) never relinquishes second place.
- Yadier Molina (38.9) steps into the third spot, which is, perhaps, another nail in the coffin of those who don’t believe he’s deserving of Hall induction.
- Adam Wainwright (38.2) is the third-best fourth-on-the-façade, behind Jackie Robinson and Bid McPhee.
- Tony Gwynn (68.8) should be called Mr. Padre more than he is.
- And here’s why. Tim Flannery (9.2) is second. Only four times in his eleven seasons did he play 100 games. He never topped three homers in a season. He was successful in just 50% of his 44 steal attempts. His career Rbat was -44. You get the point.
- Manuel Margot (4.6) is third. I guess he’s an okay player, but like Flannery, he can’t hit.
- And for now Hunter Renfroe (3.7) finishes off the Padre Rushmore. At least he’s passable at the dish.
- Mel Ott (107.8) is very safe.
- Carl Hubbell (67.5) is too.
- Bill Terry (54.2) makes it three who are locked in for quite a while.
- Going into the season, however, Mike Tiernan (42.2) was in jeopardy of losing his spot to Buster Posey. But Posey and his 2.9 WAR on the season couldn’t quite get there. With just one WAR in 2019, he’ll make it.
- I don’t know why I’m such a huge fan of Steve Rogers (45.1) topping this list, a list I expect he’ll continue to top for years to come.
- Ryan Zimmerman (38.0) certainly doesn’t have enough left in him to topple the 158-game winner.
- The first day of the 2019 campaign should be the last day Bryce Harper (27.4) is on this list.
- Stephen Strasburg (27.3) continues to chug along, but he can opt out after next year. It’ll be interesting to see if he leaves four years and $100 million on the table.
Well, that’s it for the National League. The updated American League Rushmore will post on Friday.