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Mount Rushmore

National League Rushmore Update, 2019

On Monday we took a look at the up-to-date American League Rushmores, so today we move on to the National League. 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. If you’re wondering where Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are, that’s where. These aren’t necessarily the “right” answers, but they’re interesting to me.

Arizona

  • Paul Goldschmidt was shipped to St. Louis, so we have a new leader in Arizona. It’s Brandon Webb (31.4), locked into the top spot for quite a few years. That’s especially true with last year’s #3, A.J. Pollock, and last year’s #4, Patrick Corbin, sent off too.
  • A generally underwhelming and unhealthy year moves David Peralta (14.2) up to second on the D’back list. He’s arbitration eligible this year and a free agent next, so this might not last too long.
  • Nick Ahmed (10.3) had a much better year in 2019 than Peralta did. At least with the glove. The shortstop isn’t much of a hitter, but he’s a terrific defender. Of course, his contract status is the same as Peralta’s, so how long he remains on this list is anyone’s guess.
  • Rounding out the façade is Jake Lamb (6.3) a poor hitting corner infielder whose last game could, at any time, be the last game he ever plays. For the barely-above-replacement-and-about-to-make-money crowd, this is always the case.

Atlanta

  • Chipper Jones (85.0) isn’t going away for a long, long time.
  • Freddie Freeman (37.4) keeps chugging along in second place. If you see him building an interesting long and low Hall case, Eric reminded you on Wednesday to think again. In fact, another nine seasons of 5.0 WAR would still see Freeman south of Eddie Murray by MAPES+. A really nice player, but more the Fred McGriff type than someone building on a Hall of Fame career.
  • Julio Teheran (20.2) was solid again in 2019. The team is sure to pick up his option for $12 million. It’s just a question of what happens after 2020 to determine how long Teheran stays on this list.
  • We’ll see a different name here in 12 months, as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies should add a few WAR each. Until then, it’s two-time ten game winner, Rick Camp (12.3), who rounds out the Braves’ list.

Chicago

  • Leading the way with a much smaller gap over second place than most would think is Ernie Banks (67.4).
  • Stan Hack (52.5), a long(ish) and low third baseman from 1932-1947 is next. By the way, Hack is 34th at 3B by MAPES+. Think Robin Ventura for a pretty good recent comparison.
  • After another solid season, Kris Bryant (25.1) jumps over two players and is now third in Cub history. He’s with the team for at least the next two years, though we’ll have to see what happens after that.
  • Charlie Hollocher (23.2) moves down to fourth. A year ago, I talked about depression when I talked about him because, apparently, he left the team in 1923 due to that potentially debilitating illness. One thing I see more and more among my students, who are generally 19ish, is a willingness to talk about their depression. Say what you might about people in that generation, but I say their willingness to discuss mental illness saves lives. Many, many lives. And that’s more than impressive.

Cincinnati

  • Johnny Bench (75.0) is first.
  • Barry Larkin (70.2) follows.
  • A year ago, I thought Joey Votto (60.2) was going to catch Larkin. Now I think I was wrong. Votto is 36, coming off a year of 1.6 WAR, oh, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but he’s 36. He doesn’t have enough years left in him at the 2019 pace to take over second.
  • HoMEr and Hall of Famer Bid McPhee (52.4) is fourth. If Votto ever goes elsewhere (he’s signed through 2023), it’s Dave Concepcion who’s next. No current Red is close.

Colorado

  • Todd Helton (61.2) waits here for the call from the Hall of Fame.
  • However, I fear that Nolan Arenado (38.7) might beat him there.
  • Charlie Blackmon (18.2) keeps climbing. And while he’s no Hall threat, he’s been a treat to watch in Colorado since 2011, and he’s under contract for a minimum of two more years.
  • A year ago, Kyle Freeland held down the final spot on the Rockie Mount after passing his shortstop because of a great 2018. Well, his 2019 wasn’t so hot. But Trevor Story’s (17.8) was. In fact, Freeland is no longer even fifth. He’s also been passed by German Marquez, with Jon Gray close behind.

Los Angeles

  • And the single best solo Dodger in history is – you guessed it – Clayton Kershaw (68.0). He had another fine season in 2019, and he passed the guys in second and third place here. I’m very excited to finish my updated pitching numbers in the next week or two to figure out where he ranks all-time.
  • Don Drysdale (67.2) drops to second.
  • Pee Wee Reese (66.4) falls to third.
  • Jackie Robinson (61.5) remains in fourth, 12.5 WAR ahead of Sandy Koufax. Robinson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The top current Dodger other than Kershaw, I believe, is the recently mediocre Kenley Jansen.

Miami

  • Jose Fernandez (14.0) continues to top this list because J.T. Realmuto and his $5.9 million salary were sent to Philadelphia in February.
  • Brian Anderson (7.6) is next. After a nice 2019, he’s kind of on my radar, though for me he’s only supplanted one of the other Brian Andersons who have played in the majors.
  • I think Renyel Pinto (3.3), a 2006-2010 reliever, is next.
  • I think Chuck Smith (3.2), a 2000-2001 starter, follows. Seriously, this team is a mess!

Milwaukee

  • Robin Yount (77.0) leads the way.
  • Ryan Braun (48.2) is just another guy now, totaling only a bit over 4 WAR during the last three campaigns. He’s signed for 2020. The year after that there’s a mutual option for $15 million with a $4 million buyout. I suspect the Brewers will buy him out.
  • Teddy Higuera (30.7) is next.
  • And the great Jim Gantner (22.3) rounds things out. Okay, we wasn’t great, but there are 14 or 15 teams with worse players in this spot.

New York

  • It’s David Wright (50.4) atop the Mets Mount.
  • I looked up Tom Seaver’s career as a Met so I could make some interesting comment about him and Jacob deGrom (34.9). Turns out I shouldn’t have bothered. As great as deGrom is, he’s no Tom Terrific. Kids, take note.
  • Noah Syndergaard (15.4) continues to add value.
  • After a very solid season, it’s Michael Conforto (12.8) who takes over this spot from the forever Met, Juan Lagares.

Philadelphia

  • It’s Mike Schmidt (106.5) leading the way.
  • Next is 1884-1887 Quaker, Charlie Ferguson (32.1).
  • Aaron Nola (19.6) followed up a great 2018 with a solid 2019 and should continue contributing for at least the next three years.
  • Ryan Howard (14.9) is fourth, for a minimum of one more year. Actually, it might take Cesar Hernandez two more years. Or three?

Pittsburgh

  • Roberto Clemente (94.5) will lead the pack for generations.
  • Willie Stargell (57.5) is safe too.
  • It’s 1898-1910 righty Sam Leever (41.4) who’s in third.
  • And Bill Mazeroski (36.5) joins the Pirate Rushmore. Starling Marte (29.1) stayed in Pittsburgh the whole year, which surprised me a little. However, even if the Pirates pick up options this year and next, he’d have to improve on his 2019 performance to catch Maz.

St. Louis

  • Stan Musial (128.1) now and forever.
  • Bob Gibson (89.9) likely remains here for a good long time too.
  • Yadier Molina (40.2).
  • And Adam Wainwright (40.2) keeps plugging along as well. In fact, he caught Molina in 2019, his best year since all the way back in 2014. I don’t know what his future plans are, and I sure do hope he retires as a Cardinal. But as I write this, he’s 38 and unsigned for 2020. I’m not sure what’s going to happen here, but I do know Matt Carpenter and Whitey Kurowski are waiting patiently.

San Diego

  • Tony Gwynn (68.8) is so obviously the greatest Padre ever. I started selling my fairly extensive baseball card collection about a year ago. Something I found over those months is that all Gwynn cards sell. Is it only Padre fans? I’m not sure. I just know that they sell.
  • It’s easy enough to be the greatest Padre ever when the second best, at least by this measure, is Tim Flannery (9.1). The guy drove in more than 30 runs in a season just once.
  • Manuel Margot (6.4), like Flannery, cannot hit. Luckily for him and the Padres, he can defend a little bit in center – unless you’re a DRA fan, in which case Margot maybe should be released.
  • Hunter Renfroe (6.2) remains fourth. There’s a bit of thunder in his bat, though not much else to his game. I don’t expect to see him here a year from now.

San Francisco

  • On the most boring Rushmore in the National League, Mel Ott (107.8) leads the way.
  • Carl Hubbell (67.5) places second.
  • Bill Terry (54.2) is locked into third for a while.
  • Based on the readjustments by BBREF of the past year, Buster Posey (42.1) takes over for Mike Tiernan, who dropped down to 41.5.

Washington

  • Steve Rogers (44.7) remains on top. Long live Steve Rogers!
  • Ryan Zimmerman (37.8) is second, though he has just 3.8 total WAR over the last six years. That’s a lot of mediocrity for the $88 million he raked in. I think the Nats should give him $2 million to walk away rather than $16 million additional to stay.
  • With Bryce Harper in Philadelphia, Stephen Strasburg (33.9) moves up. Actually, had Harper not gone north, he’d still be behind Stras.
  • A wonderful season from Anthony Rendon (27.3) puts him solidly fourth. Of course, he’s a free agent after the World Series, and he’s going to make some bucks that the Nationals aren’t likely to pay. There’s going to be a new name on this list a year from now.

Well, that’s it for the National League. We’ll do it all one more time a year from now. Thanks for reading!

Miller

Discussion

2 thoughts on “National League Rushmore Update, 2019

  1. I find it rather amazing how relevant this series is on an annual basis. At first, you wouldn’t think these lists would be vulnerable to change that often, but they really are, especially for the younger franchises. I suppose it’s because of the rule that says a player must spend his *entire* career with a team. For example, if Stephen Strasburg opts out of his contract this week and signs elsewhere, that’s the #3 guy on the Expos/Nationals list who will vanish – *poof* – into thin air. Makes this as fun as it is unpredictable.

    Posted by BigKlu | November 1, 2019, 9:20 am
    • And there goes Strasburg! I’m glad you like the posts. They get less traction than other things we do, but I really enjoy they. Do they matter? Not at all. But they’re a lot of fun, and that’s what fandom should be about, I think.

      Posted by Miller | November 3, 2019, 7:57 am

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