Mike Trout

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What I’m Watching in 2019

In a perfect world, this post would have come out a week ago, but I had that sweet and clearly very helpful Florida Spring Training post to share. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath to know what I’m looking forward to in 2019, so without further ado, here it is!


As you are perhaps aware, the folks at Fangraphs have decided to incorporate catcher framing into their WAR numbers. Baseball Prospectus had already been doing this for some time. And while framing was on my schedule to resolve this spring/summer anyway, its inclusion over at Fangraphs has put, perhaps, a bit of pep in my timetable’s step. Catchers are the hardest players on the diamond to understand, and thus, their rankings are the ones in which I have the least confidence. Still, we can only use the information we have at our disposal, so I’m going to analyze the literature as deeply as I’m able and incorporate some level of framing into my catcher rankings this spring or summer. Word is that’s great news for Brian McCann, Russell Martin, and Yadier Molina. As an aside, I must say the Molina information delights me. When narrative and performance align, as they do for, say, Babe Ruth, Bob Feller, and Roy Campanella, our job at the HoME is easy. It’s harder when narrative and performance don’t quite align, as with Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax. And it’s pretty much impossible when narrative and performance have little to do with each other, as for Jack Morris and Omar Vizquel. I thought Molina would might be the next Vizquel. Perhaps with the new framing information offered by Fangraphs, we won’t have to worry about that.

Baseball Reference WAR Update

A bit more under-the-radar than the framing update at Fangraphs is the annual WAR update over at Baseball Reference. They’ve made some tweaks to catcher defense prior to 1953, so that means it’s update time at the HoME, both for catchers and pitchers. In short, that means completely reworking, and maybe in a few cases reevaluating, about 200 players. As it takes me about 15 minutes to work through a player, my math says that’s about 50 hours of copying, pasting, simple math, double checking, and triple checking. The framing work is going to be fun, this quite a bit less so.


As a Sabermetrically inclined observer of the game, you might think I don’t care too much for all-time lists. Oh, would you ever be wrong. Looking at these lists brings back the first days of my baseball fandom. I love seeing players rise through the all-time ranks. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of great, old players in the game today, so fun risers will be limited in 2019.

Albert Pujols

  • With his 90th game played this year, he passes Tris Speaker for 25th all-time. If he gets to 143, that brings him all the way up to 18th.
  • With 328 plate appearances, he passes Omar Vizquel for 20th place on the all-time list. If he gets to 564, that brings him up to 14th.
  • There’s a lot of work to be done on the all-time runs list. He’s in 22nd now and very likely to move up three spots. If things go very well, it could be six.
  • If he smacks 103 hits, he passes Ichiro, Winfield, A-Rod, Gwynn, Yount, Waner, Brett, Beltre, and Ripken to move into 15th in history.
  • You’d think 19 doubles would be easy, but his last four seasons are 22, 19, 17, and 20. If he manages another 19, that gets him past Honus, Yaz, and Nap, up to 7th all-time.
  • With 27 home runs, he catches Willie Mays with 660.
  • He’s 18 runs batted in away form 2,000, but he only needs 15 to pass both Gehrig and Bonds.
  • He’s currently second all-time in intentional walks. With 28 in 2019, his career total would exactly half of Barry Bonds’, but there’s no way he’s going to get there, not this year or ever.
  • With 0.8 WAR, he’ll pass Joe Morgan for 20th place among position players. I hope he gets there and fear he won’t.

Everyone Else

  • Robinson Cano is 30 hits shy of 2,500.
  • Miguel Cabrera needs 35 home runs for 500.
  • Edwin Encarnacion needs 20 home runs for 400.
  • You’d think it improbable for Nelson Cruz to hit the 40 he needs for 400, but he’s hit 37, 39, 43, 44, and 40 over the last five years. It’s possible.
  • With 70 runs batted in, Miguel Cabrera takes over 25th on the all-time list.
  • Cabrera can do some real damage on the GIDP list. In his last nearly complete season, he had 15, which would put him past Julio Franco and tie him with Eddie Murray and Jim Rice. With 20, he’d get past Dave Winfield, and with 24, he’d pass Carl Yastrzemski to get into 5th place in history.
  • A season of more than 5 WAR gets Justin Verlander past Walsh, Feller, Rusie, Halladay, Tiant, Coveleski, Smoltz, Lyons, Faber, Palmer, Willie, Reuschel, K. Brown, Sutton, and Hubbell. That’s pretty amazing.
  • It seems like CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, and Zack Gerinke will all enter the top-50 in WAR among pitchers. An improbable 7 WAR season from Cole Hamels would get him there too. A repeat of 2018 would put Max Scherzer just a tad shy of that level.
  • CC Sabathia needs just four wins to reach 250. With ten, he ties Andy Pettitte for 42nd
  • With 13 wins, Zack Greinke gets to 200.
  • With 34 saves, Craig Kimbrel ties former all-time leader Jeff Reardon for 10th on the list.
  • Kenley Jansen needs 32 for 300.
  • Aroldis Chapman needs 14 for 250.
  • CC Sabathia will reach 3,000 strikeouts with only 14. With 132, he gets by Smoltz, Schilling, and Gibson and would retire 14th in history.
  • Justin Verlander struck out 290 last season. With 294 this year, he gets to 3,000.
  • Felix Hernandez is 33 whiffs shy of 2,500. Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, and Cole Hamels should all get to 2,500 as well.

HoME Lists

While I love looking at the standard all-time categories, what I care about even more is how my all-time rankings shake out. With the caveat that pitching numbers will change some, there are some really cool things to look forward to this year.

  • A season of 5 WAR gets Clayton Kershaw to 25th, passing Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina.
  • With a 6 WAR season, a level he’s topped each of the last three seasons, Justin Verlander would move past seven pitchers, all the way to 28th.
  • Just 4 WAR gets Zack Gerinke past seven pitchers, including Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller, into 33rd
  • A season of 7 WAR seems reasonable for Max Scherzer. Such a campaign would bring him past 15 pitchers, all the way up to 42nd in history.
  • Cole Hamels might be in the HoME already. With 3 WAR, he’d move to 72nd, passing Orel Hershiser. While that would guarantee nothing, it would make a “no” vote tough.
  • A 7 WAR campaign would move Chris Sale up 40 spots to 83rd. Should he get there, a HoME election in his future would be possible.
  • With 2.1 WAR, Miguel Cabrera would pass Keith Hernandez for 17th. To pass Hank Greenberg, he’d need 5.5.
  • It will take Joey Votto 1.9 WAR to pass Rafael Palmeiro for 22nd With 3.1, he passes Willie McCovey too. A season of 4 WAR moves him beyond Dick Allen. With a great year of 6 WAR, Jim Thome and Keith Hernandez would also go down.
  • Robinson Cano needs 4.6 WAR to climb to 8th, ahead of Jackie Robinson.
  • With 1.6 WAR, Ian Kinsler will pass both Jeff Kent and Bobby Doerr, making it difficult to keep him out of the HoME.
  • A repeat of last season moves Mike Trout past Rickie Ashburn, Billy Hamilton, and Ken Griffey. With a more modest season of 7 WAR, he passes Hamilton; with only 3 Ashburn goes down. It’ll be nice for him only to look up at DiMaggio, Mantle, Speaker, Cobb, and Mays after the season.

Enjoy 2019, everyone!



Center Field Favorites; What Would It Take?

When I was a little kid, I played center field. Of course, as a lefty who could catch a fly ball, there were few other options. At age-13, I retired from baseball. Wise decision. I pretty much stunk, but center field will be my favorite position forever.

And this series has been one of my favorites at the HoME, likely because of your participation. So thank you. If you’ve missed any of them, please take a look at earlier posts in this series, and make sure you share the right fielders you’d like to see covered next week in the comments below.

[Catcher], [First Base], [Second Base], [Third Base], [Shortstop], [Left Field]

To make this seventh post in the series a bit more readable, I mark reader suggestions with an asterisk and start each player with his CHEWS+ and MAPES+ rankings.

The Center Fielders

César Cedeño (CHEWS+ 23, MAPES+ 22): Through the age of 22, Cedeño was one of the greatest players the game had ever seen, trailing only Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Vada Pinson, and a bunch of players in or close to the Hall’s inner circle. In the 1973 off-season, he killed his girlfriend in a Dominican Republic hotel room. I don’t pretend to know what happened that night. But I do know his charge was ultimately Cesar Cedeno, 1971reduced to involuntary manslaughter, he was found guilty, and he was fined $100. Yes, $100. His wife, it seems, stayed by his side. After that incident, however, Cedeño was never the same. Though no longer a superstar, he did average 5.2 WAR over the next four years. But through age 26, he dropped a level, down to 25th on the WAR list. On the other hand, those ahead and outside the HoME are only Trout and Pinson. There have been 33 position players in history to top 35 WAR through age 26. Cedeño and Pinson aren’t in the HoME. Trout and Mookie Betts aren’t eligible yet, and everyone else is in. The former Astro great isn’t in because the decent part of his playing career was over after 26. He had only one season of over 2.2 WAR in his last nine. In addition to a very early peak Cedeño also had some major injury issues. He topped 150 games just twice,  topped 140 two more times, and topped 100 only seven more times. Maybe what held him back was the injuries, or maybe it was the death of his girlfriend, or maybe it was just an uncommonly early peak. I just don’t know. Here’s how close he is though – if one of his mediocre or unhealthy seasons at age 27 or 28 turned to a 5-win campaign, Cedeño would pass Willie Davis on my list. He’d be in.

Chet Lemon* (CHEWS+ 25, MAPES+ 23): With a career batting average of .273, more than 20 homers in a season just once, zero seasons with 100 runs scored or 100 runs driven in, and almost no Black Ink aside from HBP, Lemon’s numbers don’t jump out to anyone. Most reviewers see the Jet as just another guy. But those HBPs have value, and Lemon was an excellent defender. From 1977-1984, there were only seven better position players in the game. All are in the HoME. In fact, Lemon is the only one inside the top-11 who isn’t in. If we open it to 11 years, through 1987, Lemon is ninth. And he’s the only one in the top-18 not in the HoME. He was a much better player than we remember. To get him into the HoME, we have to find just a little bit of value. Had he been uninjured in 1978, kept up his WAR rate, and added just one win somewhere else in his career, he’d pass HoMEr Willie Davis. It’s that close.

Willie Wilson (CHEWS+ 30, MAPES+ 24): During  Spring Training a couple of years ago, I had the chance to meet Wilson and chat with him a bit. It was one of those things where there’s a retired player at a table with a bunch of photos and a twenty-something team PR person. Part of me thinks it’s sad, but when someone who walks up to him (Willie Wilson, 1981or any player) and shares memories of his career, telling him how much they loved watching him play, I realize it isn’t sad at all. The PR person drifted off somewhere, so I handed Wilson the $10 or $20 it took for him to sign and inscribe a great looking photo of him on the base paths. Great guy. Totally down to earth. He seemed quite happy to chat with me for a few minutes too. And he looked awesome for age 60. On the field, Wilson was a wonderful defender and an all-time great baserunner, but he wasn’t a good hitter. And yet, he’s pretty close HoME-level. He was banged up from 1982-1985, playing in less than 84% of scheduled games. If we increase the time on the field to 94% or 152 games per year, that would only get him past one player. What he really needed was a career that didn’t fall off the table at age 29. In his last decade in the bigs, he was worth less than 1.5 WAR per year. That’s what happens, I suppose, when speed is your greatest skill.

Bernie Williams* (CHEWS+ 22, MAPES+ 25): Bernie Williams was a terrible defender. By Rfield, he’s the sixth worst ever. Had the Yankees taken him out of center field, it’s quite possible he’d be a HoMEr. In the 2001 off-season, both Johnny Damon and Kenny Lofton were available, but the Yankees went with Rondell White to play left rather than moving Bernie over there. I can’t guess what Williams would have been like in left, but I suspect it would have been less injurious to his case than playing center. The other thing that hurt him is the precipitous drop from 4.5 WAR in 2002 to zippo for the remaining four seasons he played. Might it have been the torn cartilage in his left knee that was found early in 2003? I don’t know. What I do know is that if he only lost one win per year after his 2002 campaign, he’d leap over all non-HoMEr center fielders aside from George Gore. He’s extremely close.

Dale Murphy, 1984Dale Murphy* (CHEWS+ 32, MAPES+ 31): We all want to love all-time great guy Murphy. And people of a certain age have fond memories of his back-to-back MVP Awards in 1982 and 1983 that were followed by back-to-back home run titles. In the early 1980s, Murphy was recognized in many places as the game’s top star, though he likely shouldn’t have been. By bWAR, he ranks just 8th among position players over those years. The truth of the matter is that Murphy both could have used a bit higher peak, and he needed to do it for longer. With my conversions, he had six seasons of 5.3+ WAR. There are just 13 center fielders in history who can say the same, so that’s pretty impressive. However, in his next three, Murphy had just 8.5 WAR. The worst of the other 13 is more than a win better per year. And Murphy’s three after that are worth less than 2 WAR total. That’s less than a third of any of the other non-Trout 13. It’s the longevity, or lack thereof, that kills Murphy’s case.

Vada Pinson (CHEWS+ 38, MAPES+ 36): Through age 26, Pinson is the best position player in history other than Mike Trout who isn’t in the HoME. Unlike Cesar Cedeño, who is very close to Pinson, there was no tragedy we can point to. And Pinson was very healthy, at least for most of his career. The problem is that he just stopped hitting. Doubles, triples, and homers all ebbed. Walks did too. Still, if he repeated his 1964 season in 1965 and pushed his decline back one year, he’d move up 13 spots on my list. If he pushed the decline back by two years and repeated 1964 for the next twice before declining, he’d pass both Willie Davis and Max Carey overall and take his position in the HoME.

Johnny Damon* (CHEWS+ 29, MAPES+ 35): In the winter of 2010, I began to think about how Damon could get into the Hall. He had 2,571 hits, and he was still going strong. Yes, he had just finished his age-36 season, but he was also coming off consecutive years of 144, 168, Johnny Damon, 2004155, and 146 hits. And he was still a valuable player, never below 3.0 bWAR in the previous three. The Rays signed him in 2011 to serve as their DH. He was solid, though not great, earning 2.5 WAR and adding another 152 hits to his total, which brought him to 2,723, only two seasons away from 3,000 and near-certain induction into Cooperstown. And Damon wasn’t just hanging on. He continued to add value on the bases and in double play avoidance. I had hope! In 2012 the Rays decided to go with Luke Scott at DH, and Damon was without a job, possibly due to ageism or maybe because of over-inflated contract demands. It was mid-April of the next year before he finally inked a deal in Cleveland. After a couple of weeks in the minors, he was promoted. However, this was not a good fit for Damon, as the Tribe preferred to play the guy who used to be Travis Hafner at DH. When Damon was in the lineup, it seems he was tremendously unlucky. His BABIP in 2012 was .239. Only once previously had it been below .284, and that was way back in 2001. I believe that if Damon had been treated fairly or settled for a reasonable offer, he’d have played from the start of the season. And if he’d gotten lucky, his BABIP would have gotten him 150 hits and a 2013 contract. At that point, 3,000 may have been an inevitability. But there’s good news for Damon yet. Though he’s just 54th all-time in hits, with the induction of Harold Baines, he’s second among all non-PED guys outside the Hall. Omar Vizquel is first, and we know he’s getting in before long. That means there’s a real chance Damon is inducted one day. As much as I like him, he shouldn’t get in. Even if we add one WAR to each of the first six seaons after Damon’s emergence as a star, he’d still be shy of the HoME. Sorry, Johnny.

Fred Lynn (CHEWS+ 41, MAPES+ 42): As a Red Sox fan whose first full season paying attention to the game was 1979, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that Fred Lynn was my first favorite player. Lynn won the triple slash triple crown that year and might have deserved his second MVP trophy. Lynn’s problem, as you likely know, was health. After 1979, he never played in more than 142 games, and he only twice topped 124. I convert that 1979 season to 8.13 WAR. If he declined by one win each season through 1985, rather than putting up the injury marred numbers he did, he’d place nicely between Max Carey and Willie Davis, likely making him a HoMEr. It was the injuries.

Andy Van Slyke* (CHEWS+ 49, MAPES+ 45): I admit being a bit surprised someone suggested I investigate Van Slyke. I always thought of him as someone who got the most out of his ability. Upon review, I still do. During his first four seasons, Van Slyke was a useful player who didn’t add much with the bat. Then he started hitting, though he wasn’t really a superstar. During his 1987-1992 peak, he was just 11th in WAR among position players. And two of the guys above him remain short of the HoME. After 1992, Van Slyke’s health abandoned him. He was worth just 1.7 WAR the rest of his career. If we extended Van Slyke’s career by offering him seasons decreasing by 1.0 WAR from 1993 until he fell below one, he’d jump past Chet Lemon on my list, but he’d still be 5% short of induction. And that’s a considerable amount to ask.

Curt Flood, 1960Curt Flood* (CHEWS+ and MAPES + 56): Take a look at Terry Sloope’s review of Flood over at the SABR Bio Project. What a fascinating person. To frame Flood in the best way possible on the field, we can say that he was the seventh best position player in the National League from 1961-1969, and all six in front of him are in the HoME. Another way to frame him positively is that he’s one of only 38 center fielders ever to post six seasons of at least 4.1 WAR by my conversions. The truth is, however, Flood was never a superstar. Of those 38 players, Flood’s best season was worst of the bunch. If we add one win to every season of his career, he rises to #23 on the list, still short of the HoME. Flood is in the HoME as a pioneer, and I think he should be elected to the Hall at the earliest possible moment.

Paul Blair* (CHEWS+ 53, MAPES+ 51): When I was a kid, I used to confuse Paul Blair and Roy White. You can hardly blame me. I first saw them play when I was seven years old, they played for the same team, they were both reserves, they were the same age, and they both had one syllable in their first and last names. White, a member of the HoME, was clearly the better player. However, Blair’s defensive prowess made him the perfect fit for those great Oriole teams when he was a younger man. Blair’s problem was at the dish. For the last eleven years of his career, his Rbat was -68. A career 96 OPS+ guy, it’s not like we could find his way into the HoME without a significant boost at the plate.  If we add 2 wins to each of his five best years, giving him five fairly elite seasons of 7.0-9.2 WAR and increasing his peak value by a ton, he’d still be shy of the HoME, though just by a shade.

Dom DiMaggio, 1941Dom DiMaggio (CHEWS+ 54, MAPES+ 52): There was once a fairly strong campaign to get him elected to the Hall. And his autograph, though Dom signed a considerable amount, still garners a decent chunk of change. I’ve always thought of him as a very solid, short-career player with a famous name. Perhaps he was better than that though, given that he missed three years of his prime due to military service. Using my converted, DRA-enhanced numbers, he was worth over 6.3 WAR before his time off and 5.5 when he returned. Let’s give him 6.1, 5.9, and 5.7 for the missed years. Whoa! I’m shocked by the result. DiMaggio jumps to 99.51 MAPES+ points, which puts him at 21st at the position, just shy of the HoME but with a legitimate case. Very interesting.

Willie McGee* (CHEWS+ 80, MAPES+ 72): A lot like the 1981 Cincinnati Reds, who had the NL’s best record but didn’t make the playoffs, McGee had the best batting average in the game in 1990 but didn’t win the batting title. He was a nice player, though not the defender his speed would suggest, and minus his 1985 MVP season, he was a negative by Rbat. As you might expect, he ran the bases and avoided the double play well. If we increase each of his best six seasons by 2 wins apiece, he’s still 10% shy of the HoME, in the land of Fielder Jones, Dale Murphy, and Wally Berger.

Lip Pike* (CHEWS+ 78, MAPES+ 85): You’re to be forgiven if you’re not that familiar with the career of Lipman Emanuel Pike, one of the game’s first professional players, who got started the pre-majors with the 1866 Philadelphia Athletics. At age 21, his SABR Bio suggests that he was an impressive power hitter. Such a claim jibes with his HR titles in the first three years of the National Association and the second year of the National League. While I do claim a certain level of expertise in translation of more recent statistics, I admit to having little clue about pre-NA numbers. There aren’t many, and schedules were so sketchy that the best of observers are doing little more than guessing. At least that the perspective of an uninformed person such as myself. Pike is outside the HoME because we consider him a lesser player than George Wright, Ross Barnes, Deacon White, Paul Hines, and Jim O’Rourke. It’s possible he’s next in line if we elect someone else from that era, but I have to acknowledge uncertainty. Pike is likely one of the ten best players before the start of the NA. More than that, I’m not comfortable saying.

Terry Moore, 1949Terry Moore* (unranked): I believe Moore is the first player in this series who we haven’t ranked. Nevertheless, there’s some interesting stuff in his record. He made four straight All-Star teams from 1939-1942. He also finished between 12th and 18th in the NL MVP vote those four years. In the early days of the HoME, we made decisions to count all of what happened, to increase value on a per-game basis for seasons shorter than today’s, and to ignore what didn’t happen. That includes time serving the country while it was at war (though we are considering offering an amount of credit for seasons missed during military service, at least at the margins). Even if we did this for all players at 100% of expected value, Moore would still be shy. Considerably shy. He missed 1943-45, but he was just another guy for the two years before he left, 2.8 and 2.6 bWAR. And he didn’t have a lot of value upon returning. Were we to offer him another 6.0 WAR for the time he missed, I’m confident we would have him ranked. I’m thinking he’d wind up around #120 at the position, perhaps close to #100.

Mike Trout, 2016Mike Trout* (CHEWS+ 8, MAPES+ 9): You might be aware that Trout is active and therefore doesn’t really belong in this series, but reader Carl Goetz asked for a few words about him, and I’m quite happy to oblige. Carl asked what Trout would need to do to catch Ty Cobb and Willie Mays. And he shared that he has him eighth behind Mays, Cobb, Tris Speaker, Oscar Charleston, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Ken Griffey. I have him behind Billy Hamilton and Richie Ashburn too. Eric is with me only regarding Hamilton. Plus, he agrees with Carl on Charleston, and he also likes Martin Dihigo more than Trout, at least today. So what happens with Trout?

I was once told by a friend that Ken Griffey was the best player we’d ever see. While that’s clearly wrong, I was confident for a time that Barry Bonds was the best player I’d ever see. Albert Pujols, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt, and Alex Rodriguez. Is there anyone else? It’s clear, of course, that Mike Trout is part of that list already. But I’m not answering the question yet. Trout will be 27 this year. Imagine seasons of 10.0 and 9.0 WAR. After that, let’s say 8.0, 8.0, 7.0. 6.0, 5.0. and 5.0. Were that to happen, Trout would be a bit shy of Mickey Mantle through age 34. Players as great as Trout tend to age well, so let’s give him 4.0, 4.0, 3.0, 3.0, 2.0, 2.0, 1.0 before he retires. Such a run out would get him far past Mantle but well short of Speaker. I just don’t see how he can do better than fourth all-time. Still, there are a couple of caveats. First, players as great as Trout break pretty much every system. Second, Trout’s competition is insanely better than that of Cobb or Speaker. And unlike Mays, he has played in a fully integrated league. (To be fair, Mays had a more integrated league than his AL colleagues, but it wasn’t all the way there for parts of his career). Maybe I’m not right. I can admit that. But unless there’s a generational adjustment, I don’t see how Trout even passes Tris Speaker, perhaps the game’s most underrated superstar ever, for third ever at the position.

Right fielders in a week. Please share who you’d like to be included in the comments.


An Alternate Alternate Hall of Fame

Who should be in the Hall of Fame? It’s a tough question, the question that this blog tries to answer with most every post. Early in our discussions of the HoME, Eric and I settled on putting the best players in, which seems like a pretty wise way to go. But not everyone thinks that’s the best way. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, for example, cited the theoretical stat of Joy Created Over Replacement as justification for supporting Omar Vizquel. That seems silly, but it’s not wrong, at least not for Baggarly.

So what I’m going to do in this post is to attempt to play around with the Hall to see if I might be able to put together a more enjoyable museum. There are four rules. First, the Hall and the one I create will have the same number of players (226). Second, anyone in the Hall and HoME stays. Third, you have to be retired long enough that you’re eligible (no Mariano or Halladay until the end of the month by this rule). And finally, if you’re not in the Hall, nothing about you can be shared in the museum. So if I want to teach the baseball world about who you are, you have to be in this alternate Hall.

Let’s start with the players in the Hall and HoME right now.

  1. Gary Carter
  2. Johnny Bench
  3. Buck Ewing
  4. Mike Piazza
  5. Ivan Rodriguez
  6. Yogi Berra
  7. Carlton Fisk
  8. Mickey Cochrane
  9. Bill Dickey
  10. Gabby Hartnett
  11. Roy Campanella
  12. Stan Musial
  13. Lou Gehrig
  14. Cap Anson
  15. Roger Connor
  16. Jommie Foxx
  17. Dan Brouthers
  18. Rod Carew
  19. Jeff Bagwell
  20. Johnny Mize
  21. Ernie Banks
  22. George Sisler
  23. Frank Thomas
  24. Hank Greenberg
  25. Jim Thome
  26. Willie McCovey
  27. Bill Terry
  28. Eddie Murray
  29. Rogers Hornsby
  30. Nap Lajoie
  31. Eddie Collins
  32. Joe Morgan
  33. Jackie Robinson
  34. Charlie Gehringer
  35. Frankie Frisch
  36. Ryne Sandberg
  37. Joe Gordon
  38. Roberto Alomar
  39. Craig Biggio
  40. Bid McPhee
  41. Billy Herman
  42. Bobby Doerr
  43. Mike Schmidt
  44. Eddie Mathews
  45. George Brett
  46. Wade Boggs
  47. Ron Santo
  48. Home Run Baker
  49. Chipper Jones
  50. Paul Molitor
  51. Brooks Robinson
  52. Deacon White
  53. Jimmy Collins
  54. Honus Wagner
  55. Cal Ripken
  56. Arky Vaughn
  57. George Davis
  58. Luke Appling
  59. Joe Cronin
  60. Bobby Wallace
  61. Barry Larkin
  62. Robin Yount
  63. Lou Boudreau
  64. Alan Trammell
  65. Joe Tinker
  66. Pee Wee Reese
  67. Ozzie Smith
  68. Joe Sewell
  69. Monte Ward
  70. Dave Bancroft
  71. George Wright
  72. Ted Williams
  73. Rickey Henderson
  74. Carl Yastrzemski
  75. Ed Delahanty
  76. Fred Clarke
  77. Al Simmons
  78. Goose Goslin
  79. Jesse Burkett
  80. Tim Raines
  81. Billy Williams
  82. Jim O’Rourke
  83. Zack Wheat
  84. Ty Cobb
  85. Willie Mays
  86. Tris Speaker
  87. Mickey Mantle
  88. Joe DiMaggio
  89. Ken Griffey
  90. Billy Hamilton
  91. Richie Ashburn
  92. Duke Snider
  93. Max Carey
  94. Babe Ruth
  95. Hank Aaron
  96. Roberto Clemente
  97. Mel Ott
  98. Frank Robinson
  99. Al Kaline
  100. Paul Waner
  101. Reggie Jackson
  102. King Kelly
  103. Harry Heilmann
  104. Sam Crawford
  105. Elmer Flick
  106. Andre Dawson
  107. Tony Gwynn
  108. Willie Keeler
  109. Dave Winfield
  110. Harry Hooper
  111. Sam Rice
  112. Walter Johnson
  113. Cy Young
  114. Pete Alexander
  115. Kid Nichols
  116. Lefty Grove
  117. Christy Mathewson
  118. Randy Johnson
  119. Tom Seaver
  120. Greg Maddux
  121. Bob Gibson
  122. Pedro Martinez
  123. Phil Niekro
  124. Warren Spahn
  125. Steve Carlton
  126. Bert Blyleven
  127. Eddie Plank
  128. Gaylord Perry
  129. Ed Walsh
  130. John Clarkson
  131. Robin Roberts
  132. Fergie Jenkins
  133. Amos Rusie
  134. Tom Glavine
  135. Carl Hubbell
  136. Hal Newhouser
  137. Bob Feller
  138. Nolan Ryan
  139. Vic Willis
  140. Joe McGinnity
  141. Jim Palmer
  142. Stan Coveleski
  143. Juan Marichal
  144. Rube Waddell
  145. Dazzy Vance
  146. John Smoltz
  147. Don Drysdale
  148. Tim Keefe
  149. Jim Bunning
  150. Old Hoss Radbourn
  151. Ted Lyons
  152. Mordecai Brown
  153. Red Faber
  154. Red Ruffing
  155. Sandy Koufax
  156. Dennis Eckersley
  157. Early Wynn
  158. Don Sutton
  159. Pud Galvin
  160. Whitey Ford
  161. Goose Gossage

The next thing I need to do is put in any of the top-10 position players or top-25 pitchers on either MAPES+ or CHEWS+ who aren’t already in. Really, we need the greats of the great no matter what.

  1. Charlie Bennett: The 1880s catcher ranks 10th by MAPES+.
  2. Pete Rose: 10th at 1B by MAPES+ and 6th by CHEWS+ in LF. Obviously he’s a no-brainer for this Hall.
  3. Bobby Grich: At 2B he’s 6th by CHEWS+ and 7th by MAPES+.
  4. Dick Allen: Happy the guy is 10th at 3B by CHEWS+. He helps tell the late-60s, early 70s story.
  5. Ken Boyer: The seemingly forgotten Cardinal is 9th at 3B by MAPES+.
  6. Bill Dahlen: May be the best player outside the Hall for reasons not easily explained; 4th by CHEWS+ and 5th by MAPES+ at shortstop.
  7. Jack Glasscock: Almost Dahlen’s twin in some ways; 3rd by MAPES+ and 10th by CHEWS+ at shortstop.
  8. Barry Bonds: How do you talk about PEDs without the best hitter ever not named Ruth?
  9. Joe Jackson: We clearly need the 8th best LF by CHEWS+ and 8th best RF by MAPES+.
  10. Manny Ramirez: He’s 9th in LF by CHEWS+; lots of reason to induct Manny.
  11. Jimmy Sheckard: The turn-of-the-century speedster ranks 10th in LF by MAPES+.
  12. Jim Edmonds: He’s 10th in CF by CHEWS+. Visitors to this fake museum will now be lucky enough to see video of his amazing catches.
  13. Andruw Jones: He’s 10th by MAPES+. As perhaps the best defensive CF ever, he was likely in anyway.
  14. Larry Walker: Might the BBWAA induct the 6th best RF by CHEWS+ and 10th best by MAPES+ next year?
  15. Roger Clemens: Obviously the 3rd best pitcher ever my CHEWS+ and MAPES+ is in.
  16. Mike Mussina: Coming in at 21st by CHEWS+ and 25th by MAPES+, he’s getting into the real Hall this year or next.
  17. Curt Schilling: Both CHEWS+ and MAPES+ see one of the greatest playoff pitchers ever at 22nd

My next step is to add players with the most amazing playoff highlights of all time.

  1. Jack Morris: We’re going to start with the guy who may have pitched the best post-season game ever. I start here because while I’ve argued vociferously against and mocked those who have supported Morris, he clearly has a place for that 1991 classic against the Braves where he almost single-handedly gave his Twins the World Series.
  2. Don Larsen: This Hall can’t exist without a guy who went 3-21 in 1954. That’s obviously because of his perfect game to lift the Yankees over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
  3. Bill Mazeroski: The guy with perhaps the greatest pivot ever was going to make it anyway, but he’s listed now because walked things off for the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against Ralph Terry and the Yankees. Check out the box score. This was certainly one of the most fun games ever played.
  4. Joe Carter: Another player I’ve maligned a lot in the past, Carter’s walk-off wasn’t in a deciding game, but his Game 6 shot reversed things, as the Phillies were two outs from forcing a seventh game when he took Mitch Williams deep.

There are likely others with a single World Series performance that will get them in, but let’s move on for the moment to some of the greatest single-season performers ever.

  1. Roger Maris: It’s impossible to imagine what it must have been like trying to take down the Babe. Maris was the 1960 AL MVP, but it’s his 61 home runs in 1961 that gets him elected here.
  2. Mark McGwire: PEDs or not, he hit 70 home runs in 1998. No, he didn’t save baseball, not at all. But he made that summer a fun one throughout the country.
  3. Sammy Soas: The guy won two home run titles from 1998-2002. In the three years he didn’t win, he hit 66, 63, and 64 home runs.
  4. Orel Hershiser: 1988 was the year of Hershiser. He broke Don Drysdale’s consecutive scoreless inning streak, won the Cy Young Award, posted three complete game wins with two shutouts plus a save in the playoffs, and he also won the World Series clincher. Hershiser is a HoMEr anyway, and his 1988 season gets him in here.

There are a few guys in the Hall but not the HoME because they were incredible hitters but weren’t very good in other aspects of the game. Plus, we’ll add another hitter already in the HoME who belongs in the Hall.

  1. Ralph Kiner: Seven consecutive HR titles gets this all-time Pirate a plaque.
  2. Harmon Killebrew: Six HR titles, eight seasons with 40+, and 573 in his career get him in.
  3. Willie Stargell: With light tower power, 475 homers, co-MVP in 1979, and status as leader of the “We Are Family” Pirates, he’s in.
  4. Edgar Martinez: We’re only a couple of weeks until he’d be an automatic anyway.

And there are others who were great, who were specialists, or who had one amazing thing about them that gets them in this Hall. Really, this is also a group of players who could have applied in one or more of the categories above.

  1. Kenny Lofton: He’s an all-time great defender (four Gold Gloves; 10th best defender ever by DRA and 77th best ever by Rfield), an all-time great baserunner (five straight SB titles), and had a couple of all-time great playoff performances (just a demon on the bases in 1995 and 1996).
  2. Lou Brock: Maybe his 3000+ hits and his one-time single-season and all-time SB marks maybe could be enough here. But he was also an exceptional playoff performer with a line of .391/.424/.655 with 14/16 bases stolen in 21 World Series games.
  3. George Wright: The game’s first superstar is in the HoME as a player and the Hall as a pioneer. He’s a pretty easy call to help tell the story of the game’s origins.
  4. Satchel Paige: There’s a shot he’s the greatest pitcher in history, and even though he didn’t reach the majors until he was 41, he was a delight for fans every step of the way.
  5. Dizzy Dean: One of the game’s wackiest players, he led baseball in strikeouts four straight years, is the last NL pitcher to win 30 games in a season, and the 1934 MVP finished second in the voting the next two years. Were it not for the injury during the 1937 All-Star Game, he’d probably have been a HoMEr.
  6. Dwight Gooden: He’s near HoME level in large part because of the incredible 1985 season. He won the pitching triple crown and Cy Young on the basis of what WAR says is the best season by a pitcher in the last 100 years. Again – THE BEST SEASON BY A PITCHER IN THE LAST 100 YEARS!

I’m thinking about other guys to add, but none are jumping to the fore at this time. Thus, I’m going to add anybody who is in the top-15 in both CHEWS+ and MAPES+ (or top-35 on the mound). [As a note, I should add that while Joe Torre meets this criterion behind the plate, since he caught barely 40% of his games at the position, I’m not adding him at this point.]

  1. Ross Barnes: At 2B he’s 11th and 15th in CHEWS+ and MAPES+ respectively.
  2. Lou Whitaker: Coming in at 15th by CHEWS+ and 14th by MAPES+, Whitaker becomes the third Tiger of that era to make it.
  3. Buddy Bell: Given his rankings of 16th best ever defensively by DRA and 34th best ever by Rfield, I think he was going to make it anyway. Ranking 11th by MAPES+ and 15th by CHEWS+ among 3B seals the deal.
  4. Art Fletcher: Another incredible defender, 4th best ever by Rfield and 32nd best by DRA, Fletcher’s status as the 15th best SS ever by CHEWS+ and 14th best ever by MAPES+ gets him in.
  5. Bobby Veach: In LF, he’s 15th ranked by CHEWS+ and 12th by MAPES+.
  6. Paul Hines: My system and Eric’s both rank him 12th best ever in CF.
  7. Wes Ferrell: He’s 30th by CHEWS+ and 31st by MAPES+. I wish there were more Hall talk about him.

This is harder than I expected it to be. Let me keep working while thinking about innovators, greatness, and uniqueness.

  1. Roger Bresnahan: In the HoME as a combination player/pioneer, he reaches this Hall for the same reason. He helps us tell the story of relatively early catchers.
  2. Tommy Leach: Speaking of unique, he’s one of only seven players who came to the plate at least 1000 times in his career and spent 20% of his games at both 3B and CF. The difference between Leach and the others is that he was a stud defender at both positions. Given that, there’s an argument to be made that he’s the greatest defender the game has ever seen.
  3. Hoyt Wilhelm: He homered in his first trip to the plate, pitched a no-hitter, and was the all-time best reliever until at least the 1970s. Plus, he helps us to tell the story of the knuckleball.
  4. Steve Garvey: I never expected for the NL Iron Man to find a place here. But that consecutive games streak matters, as does his .338 career playoff batting average, two NLCS MVP Awards, and just about a homer every 20 at-bats in October. Additionally, he was a star in the Midsummer Classic, plating a .393/.433/.821 line in ten games.
  5. Chuck Klein: In 1933, he won the NL triple crown with a .368 AVG, 28 HR, and 120 RBI. He also won the triple slash triple crown and finished a string of three straight top-2 MVP finishes.
  6. Joe Medwick: The most recent triple crown winner not already in this Hall, Medwick won in 1937 by posting a .374/31/154 line. This is the middle year of three straight doubles titles and three straight RBI titles. It’s the last year of three straight total base titles, and his MVP trophy was the third straight top-5 finish.
  7. Keith Hernandez: He’s the best defensive first baseman ever, the 1979 NL co-MVP, the 16th best defender ever by Rfield, the 63rd best ever by DRA, 12th at 1B by CHEWS+, and 17th at 1B by MAPES+.
  8. Mike Marshall: From 1971-1975 he pitched 724 innings, all in relief. He holds the record for relief innings in a season. He holds the NL record for relief appearances in a season. He’s tied for the AL record for relief pitchers in a season, though that’s only his third best career mark. He has three saves titles, four top-5 Cy Young finishes, three top-10 MVP finishes, five seasons with at least 3 WAR in relief, and the 1974 NL Cy Young.
  9. Johan Santana: He may not have pitched enough innings to get love from the BBWAA, but he’s here due to the two Cy Youngs, the three ERA titles, the three strikeout titles, the three ERA+ titles, and an incredible peak where he was the best pitcher in baseball.
  10. Fernando Valenzuela: We remember Fernandomania from 1981, but we sometimes forget Valenzuela’s other three top-5 Cy Young finishes. He was also excellent in the playoffs – 1.98 ERA in 63.2 innings. And like Carl Hubbell in 1934, he whiffed five straight in the 1986 All-Star Game.
  11. Rollie Fingers: The one-time career saves leader reaches this Hall not because of his 1981 MVP and Cy Young or his three saves titles, but because of his work in the World Series. He pitched each year from 1972-1974, winning the MVP in the last of the three while posting a 1.35 ERA in 33.1 innings.
  12. Enos Slaughter: To be fair, he’s in the Hall and just short of the HoME in spite of missing three years of his prime due to military service. His three top-3 MVP finishes help. So do his ten All-Star appearances. He hit .291 with a .406 OBP in 96 World Series plate appearances, and his “mad dash” around the bases won the 1946 World Series for the Cardinals, one of his four rings.
  13. Lefty Gomez: He had truly great years in 1934 and 1937, both times winning the pitching triple crown. He also made seven straight All-Star games, earning the win in three of them, and he was 6-0 in the World Series, completing his career with five rings.
  14. Minnie Minoso: The speedster/oldster belonged in the majors before he got there. He won three triples titles, three stolen base titles, ten HBP titles, three Gold Gloves, finished fourth in the MVP voting four times, and he was a joy to watch (so I’m told).
  15. Larry Doby: Like Minoso, his start in MLB was likely delayed by racism. He’s 29th by MAPES+ and 33rd by CHEWS+ in center field. It’s hard to tell the story of the color line without the AL’s first African American player.
  16. Willie Wilson: Continuing in the joy to watch category, Wilson is close-ish to the HoME in/out line. He’s 24th in CF by MAPES+ and 30th by CHEWS+. He’s also the 76th best defender in history by DRA and the second best baserunner ever per Rbaser. He stole at least 20 based 15 different times. He also won five triples titles, and he hit 13 inside the park home runs, five in 1979 alone. At age 36, he had but four singles and a walk in the 1992 ALCS, yet he stole seven bases.
  17. Kirk Gibson: Maybe you remember that home run.
  18. Kirby Puckett: You know his story. The catch in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series punctuates a great career that’s short of the HoME but long on fun.

I had no idea that this would be as time-consuming or as difficult a process as it’s been. Of course, given that it took us years to catch up to Cooperstown at the HoME and even longer before we established CHEWS+ and MAPES+, I probably should have. There’s no right-ness to this list, but it’s been fun. And these last four guys are for me.

  1. Mike Trout: To hell with the rules.
  2. Rick Reuschel: He’s 43rd by CHEWS+ and 46th by MAPES+. He absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he is possible the most underrated player ever.
  3. Brian Downing: He’s 38th by MAPES+ and 40th by CHEWS+ in left field. He joins the other three in this section and Mookie Betts as my all-time top-5 (at least if I’m answering today).
  4. Tim Wakefield: To me, he barely trails both Pedro and Maddux in Baggarly’s Joy Created metric, but that run with the 1995 Red Sox was just incredible. His ERA after 17 starts in Boston was 1.65. In that run, he won 14 games. He pitched nine innings five times, and he added one 10-inning complete game win.

Have I missed someone? I’m sure, but I don’t really care. I hope you had at least a fraction of the fun reading this as I’ve had writing.


The Best 125 Center Fielders Ever

In some ways, center field is the most interesting position on the diamond for me. First, we disagree with much of the baseball loving world by putting Willie Mays second at the position. Truth be told, if you put him first we don’t mind. We don’t even think you’re wrong. Nor are you wrong to put Cobb there though. And for fans of a certain age, that’s sacrilege. What’s even more interesting to me is that Tris Speaker is so clearly greater than Mickey Mantle. For those who are wondering, yes, it’s a DRA thing. Still, the gap between Speaker and Mantle is significant enough that no matter your defensive metric of choice, you’d be left with the same conclusion (assuming you think defense counts…).

Only three position differences here. Eric likes both Jim O’Rourke and Darin erstad here, while I put them in left field and first base respectively. I place Larry Hisle in center, while Eric prefers him in left.

For explanations of our systems and our lists at other positions, please see the links below.

[CHEWS+], [MAPES+], [Catcher], [First Base], [Second Base], [Third Base], [Shortstop], [Left Field]


We switch to BBWAA ballot coverage on Friday, but we’ll be back on Monday with right fielders.



2018 HoME Update, Active Center Fielders

You wouldn’t be wrong if you called this position “Mike Trout and a bunch of other guys”. This list is hardly rife with Hall of Famers. Still, both the has-beens and never-weres are kind of interesting. To think that there isn’t an up-and-comer in center field is pretty shocking though. Only Lorenzo Cain and Kevin Kiermaier join Trout 4 wins per year over the last three. That’s pretty stinky.

For more of the stinky and the great, check out our other hitter posts in this series.

[Catcher], [First Base], [Second Base], [Third Base], [Shortstop], [Left Field]

Mike Trout

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Richie Ashburn, Jim Edmonds, and Carlos Beltran
Trailing Billy Hamilton, Ken Griffey Jr., and Joe DiMaggio

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Andruw Jones, Jim Edmonds, and Paul Hines
Trailing Richie Ashburn, Billy Hamilton, and Ken Griffey Jr.

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
He’s the best player in baseball. He’s the best player a lot of us have ever seen. In fact, it’s possible he’s the best player any of us has ever seen. Yes, I’ve heard of Pujols, Schmidt, A-Rod, and Mantle. And I said what I said. However, in this scenario I haven’t heard of Bonds, Mays, and Aaron. Not yet. But I’m studying baseball, and those guys may come up soon. In all seriousness, it’s very difficult to estimate where Mike Trout ranks. First, his career is far from over. Second, as hard as MAPES and CHEWS try (CHEWS tries harder), comparing eras is incredibly difficult. If you’re wondering why Mantle is on the former list while Mays and Aaron are on the latter, I have two answers. First, Mays was just better than Mantle. Second, Mantle didn’t play in a league that was as integrated as Aaron’s league. Also, Mantle was amazing for five seasons and excellent for six more. Aaron may have been amazing for only four, but he was excellent for another twelve. Anyway, to understand Trout’s career trajectory, just see the names we’re tossing around.

HoME Outlook:
Well, he’s going. What intrigues me is how he climbs the ranks in center field. Previously, I had him passing Griffey and DiMaggio without much difficulty but falling short of Mantle. Let’s play things out after another incredible season is in the books. Since he’ll be just 27 next year, let’s imagine repeating 2018 three times before a gentle decline. If he does so and leaves after his 18th season, at age 36, I have him just sneaking past Mantle into fourth place on the all-time CF list (Cobb, Mays, Speaker). By the way, Trout will be just 27 next season. It’s entirely possible he hasn’t peaked yet. Oh, and repeating 2018 next year moves him past Ashburn, Hamilton, and Griffey for me.

Andrew McCutchen

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Earl Averill, Curtis Granderson, and Devon White
Trailing Edd Roush, Roy Thomas, and Fred Lynn

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Mike Cameron, Earl Averill, and Fred Lynn
Trailing George Van Haltren, Roy Thomas, and Vada Pinson

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
While things used to look somewhere between very good and great, now they look hopeless. It’s a shade over 1.7 WAR per for the last three years.

HoME Outlook:
Through age 28, he was going to the HoME. Three years later, there seems like no chance at all. Will he be a Yankee next year? Why was he ever a Yankee??? Sure, maybe the Evil Empire would have signed him. But the “budget-minded” Yankees of today never should. Or now, maybe they should. I don’t know. I don’t have much hope.

Curtis Granderson

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Devon White, Torii Hunter, and Andy Van Slyke
Trailing Earl Averill, Andrew McCutchen, and Edd Roush

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Andy Van Slyke, Edd Roush, and Torii Hunter
Trailing Lenny Dykstra, Fred Lynn, and Earl Averill

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
In another life, I hope to be as cool as wonderful a human as Curtis Granderson. What an outstanding career. It may be over now or a year from now. Whatever the case, he has much to be proud of.

HoME Outlook:
He’s not going, but with Dale Murphy, he could form the base of a Hall of Great People.

Adam Jones

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Marquis Grissom, Dummy Hoy, and Bill Lange
Trailing Darin Erstad, Ben Chapman, and Al Oliver

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Bill Lange, Ray Lankford, and Bobby Thomson
Trailing Amos Otis, Garry Maddox, and Curt Flood

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
A nice run of very goodness preceded a decline, one that always accompanies age but isn’t always so steep. He simply can’t defend center any longer, and it’s only going to get worse. Maybe he gets hurt in Spring Training next year, retires a year later, and becomes ambassador to somewhere not entirely central to global safety. Or otherwise. I think I’d be good with that.

HoME Outlook:
Though he never will, I’d love it if he got in the top-50 in center. He’s not going to the HoME.

Lorenzo Cain

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Brady Anderson, Chili Davis, and Andy Pafko
Trailing Mickey Rivers, Baby Doll Jacobson, and Dwayne Murphy

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Willie McGee, Ginger Beaumont, and Chick Stahl
Trailing Mickey Rivers, Dummy Hoy, and Al Oliver

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
I wonder how the fortunes of the Brewers and Royals may have been different if he and a few others weren’t shipped from MIL to KC in the Zach Greinke trade before the 2011 season. Whatever, Cain got a ring out of it. And he got back to Milwaukee.

HoME Outlook:
Nah. Interestingly, Cain doesn’t hit homers. It’s 2018 and this guy has been in the majors for nine seasons with only 67 long balls. Again, he’s not going to the HoME, but that fact is pretty cool.

Jacoby Ellsbury

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Austin Jackson, Jake Stenzel, and Denard Span
Trailing Al Bumbry, Lloyd Moseby, and Rick Monday

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:

Ahead of Vernon Wells, Dode Paskert, and Lloyd Moseby
Trailing Larry Hisle, Benny Kayff, and Tony Gonzalez

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
He missed the whole year with Jacoby ailments. Perhaps the hip surgery he had in August will allow him to play next year. The Yankees hope not.

HoME Outlook:
While a Red Sox fan, I’ve never been a Yankee hater. I didn’t mind Wade Boggs or Johnny Damon in pinstripes. And by the time Roger Clemens got there, I had hated him for years. Ellsbury was another story. I still remember when the Yankees signed him. I thought it was hilarious! Ellsbury was awesome once, excellent another time, and injured a lot. More than twice his career value at the plate came in one season. What that means is that he’s had a negative Rbat otherwise in his career. Seven years for this guy? He still has two more left, which I think is awesome. Oh, no HoME for him.

Denard Span

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Ruppert Jones, Mookie Wilson, and Coco Crisp
Trailing Jake Stenzel, Austin Jackson, and Jacoby Ellsbury

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Ruppert Jones, Mookie Wilson, and Gary Pettis
Trailing Mark Kotsay, Jerry Mumphrey, and Shane Spence

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Cool dude. Nice player. He’s like Al Bumbry and Mookie Wilson. Again, cool, though not really valuable.

HoME Outlook:

Carlos Gomez

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Marlon Byrd, Makr Kotsay, and Kevin Kiermaier
Trailing Matty Alou, Gary Pettis, and Johnny Hopp

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Matty Alou, Al Bumbry, and Shane Spence
Trailing Rick Monday, Stan Javier, and Jake Stenzel

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
When he came up, he shouldn’t have. When he became a regular at 22, he shouldn’t have. When he suddenly reached 19 homers in his sixth year, he shouldn’t have. When he made this list, well, he kinda should have.

HoME Outlook:
He’s been worth less than 2 WAR per season over the last six. And he’s not 45. That should be all you need to know.

Kevin Kiermaier

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Stan Spence, Lloyd Waner, and Pete Reiser
Trailing Mark Kotsay, Marlon Byrd, and Carlos Gomez

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Bill Bruton, Barney McCosky, and Coco Crisp
Trailing Gary Pettis, Mookie Wilson, and Ruppert Jones

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Quick, he’s been in the majors for six seasons. How many times has he played in 110 games? Once. Exactly once. He’s an elite level defender, thought far less wonderful per MAPES. Still, he’s never healthy, and he can’t hit.

HoME Outlook:
Not in his future.

Austin Jackson

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Jake Stenzel, Denard Span, and Ruppert Jones
Trailing Jacoby Ellsbury, Al Bumbry, and Lloyd Moseby

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of David DeJesus, Michael Bourn, and Johnny Grubb
Trailing Lloyd Waner, Mike Kreevich, and Ender Inciarte

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
The last season of over 1.8 WAR by MAPES was 2013. Yuck! The closest person to him in center field who debuted with at least 4 WAR was Dummy Hoy in 1888. In other words, players who debut like he did usually do better than this.

HoME Outlook:
According to BBREF, he’s been a negative with the bat since 2012. Plus, he’s been a negative in the field since 2011. There’s no reason to believe he has any prayer of reaching the HoME.

Ender Inciarte

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of David DeJesus, Mike Kreevich, and Michael Bourn
Trailing Ron LeFlore, Steve Brodie, and Pete Reiser

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
Ahead of Mike Kreevich, Lloyd Waner, and Austin Jackson
Trailing Steve Brodie, Marlon Byrd, and Ron LeFlore

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Though he’s played in 118 or more games each of the last five seasons, I have to admit that I don’t really know who this guy is. He has no power, he gets caught stealing a lot, and has never stolen more than 28 bases. He can field though. Hooray for him.

HoME Outlook:
No, it’s not happening.

Please join us again on Monday as we finish off our active hitters with right field.


AL Mount Rushmore, 2018 Update

Man, it feels good to be kinda, sorta back doing this, at least for a little while. On Wednesday we updated the Mount Rushmores in the National League. Today we’ll do the same in the Junior Circuit.


  • Cal Ripken (95.5 WAR) is forever the king.
  • Brooks Robinson (78.4) backs him up.
  • And Jim Palmer (69.4) is very safe in third place.
  • A year ago this spot was occupied by Manny Machado. Alas Oriole fans. Other actives with 10+ WAR in Baltimore included Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop, and Kevin Gausman. Oh well. At least the O’s tried to rebuild. The top active Oriole now is Chris Tillman at 9.3 WAR. But there’s virtually no chance he ever catches the fourth face of the Orioles, Chris Hoiles (23.5). Let’s be fair, Hoiles was a fine player for a number of years. He’s a better representative on the Mount than a lot of guys you’ll see below.


  • Ted Williams (123.1) holds the third spot on the on the game’s single-team Rushmore, behind Walter Johnson and Stan Musial.
  • Carl Yastrzemski (96.1) is the second-best second-best player ever, behind Mickey Mantle.
  • Dustin Pedroia (52.1) remains third. I hope he retires in Boston, but not for a few years.
  • It’s going to be a couple of seasons before we see the great Mookie Betts climb enough. For now, it’s Bobby Doerr (51.4) who leads the way for this spot. If Pedroia ever finds himself on another team, Jim Rice steps in until it’s Mookie time.


  • Though too often remembered for his Old Timers’ Day home run at age 75 rather than his spectacular career, Luke Appling (74.5) leads the way.
  • Also largely forgotten, Ted Lyons (71.5) is second.
  • Red Faber (64.8) is third and will remain there for as long as any of us can imagine.
  • The fourth face is that of Jim Scott (26.1), a righty pitcher from 1909-1917 who is currently fighting off Jose Abreu (18.7).


  • Bob Feller (63.6) is safe.
  • Bob Lemon (48.8) is safe.
  • Mel Harder (43.8) is safe.
  • And Addie Joss (43.7) is pretty safe. At least for a while. Corey Kluber (33.6) is making a run at it.


  • The Tigers have just about the safest Rushmore of any team outside of the Bronx with Al Kaline (92.5) starting things off.
  • Charlie Gehringer (80.6) is locked into second place.
  • Lou Whitaker (74.9) is third and waiting on his Hall of Fame plaque.
  • Alan Trammell (70.4) already has his. These four are locked in for 12-15 years at a minimum since no active Tiger has even 10 career WAR.


  • As you might expect, Jeff Bagwell (79.6) leads this list.
  • And since Bagwell’s first, Craig Biggio, (65.1) must be second.
  • After another very impressive season, Jose Altuve (35.1) remains in third.
  • Don Wilson (27.9) is fourth, but the trio of George Springer (18.7), Carlos Correa (18.3), and Dallas Keuchel (18.1) is coming.

Kansas City

  • We get started with George Brett (88.4)
  • I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that Alex Gordon (35.2) is now second. He’s a failed prospect. He’s a failed third baseman. He can’t hit, certainly for a corner outfielder. Yet he’s valuable. For left field defense. Something many of us joked about as unimportant 20 years ago.
  • Frank White (34.7) drops to third.
  • And Dennis Leonard (26.3) closes things out. However, Salvador Perez (22.2) is making things interesting. He’s only two years away and is signed for three more. Could be interesting.

Los Angeles

  • Mike Trout (64.3) continues to lead the way.
  • Tim Salmon (40.5) isn’t leaving second place for years.
  • The first time I covered the Angels was about midway through the 2017 season. Since then Kole Calhoun (13.6) has limped his way into third place.
  • That means Scot Shields (12.4) falls to fourth. And Gary DiSarcina (11.2) falls off the list. That’s okay, Gary. There’s virtually no chance Calhoun is a career Angel.


  • The best player in baseball history to play for only one team is Walter Johnson (165.6).
  • Joe Mauer (55.1) is second in Minnesota and may lock in his place for good by retiring.
  • Kirby Puckett (50.9) is next.
  • And Brad Radke (45.5) rounds things out for a long time.

New York

  • Lou Gehrig (112.4) leads the way for the game’s most boring Rushmore.
  • Mickey Mantle (109.7) is second.
  • Joe DiMaggio (78.1) follows.
  • And Derek Jeter (71.8) closes things out.
  • To the surprise of many, I suspect, Brett Gardner (37.5) is more than half way to a place on the Rushmore of Rushmores. Of course, as wonderfully solid as his career has been, he’s never getting close to the second Rushmore of Mariano Rivera, Whitey Ford, Bill Dickey, and Bernie Williams. But there’s a shot at the third. Ron Guidry, Thurman Munson, and Mel Stottlemyre are safe for now. Jorge Posada (42.8) is the low hanging fruit. Gardner has a shot.


  • Eddie Rommel (50.1) is the reason I started this project. Well, not him, but guys like him. I don’t think we generally associate him with the A’s. In fact, I don’t think we associate the 20s and early 30s hurler with anyone. While Rommel led the AL both in wins and losses twice, part of the reason we kept thinking about him for the HoME as long as we did was his relief work, which was significant. As it turns out, just about nobody has played their whole career for the A’s.
  • Dick Green (16.0) is somehow second on the list. He played mostly 2B in both Kansas City and Oakland from 1963-1974 and retired with a sparkling career line of .240/.303/.347. Granted, he played in an era without much offense. But his 87 OPS+ tells us that he was pretty stinky at the plate.
  • Welcome to the list, Matt Chapman (11.7). He jumps to third place with his outstanding 2018 campaign, knocking Rollie Naylor off the Mount.
  • Steve McCatty (9.7), a Billy-Ball starting pitcher with a career 63-63 mark, closes things out. Sean Manaea (7.4) has a real shot to bump him off a year from now.


  • Can Edgar Martinez (68.3) just get into the Hall of Fame, already?!
  • Sadly, it seems that Felix Hernandez (50.9) won’t ever get there. His Wins Above Average for the last four years have totaled -2.6. That’s actually this year’s number. It was goose eggs the two previous seasons. He’s going to be 33 in 2019, and I just don’t see him turning things around. Of course, I said the same thing about Justin Verlander after 2015.
  • Kyle Seager (27.9) limped forward in 2018. Still, for the third time in the four years Corey has been in the bigs, big brother was better.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma (16.8) seems like he’s done now, at least in the United States. And he’s locked into the fourth spot until James Paxson (10.9) or someone else eclipses him.

Tampa Bay

  • After kicking their best player in franchise history all the way across the country, the Rays looked for an Evan Longoria replacement, and Kevin Kiermaier (24.0) stepped up. Others who would have moved up are Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Alex Colome. Unfortunately, they were all shipped away too. And the Rays won 90 games!
  • This team is going to be in flux for a while. As a result, Desmond Jennings (13.2) is going to remain in the conversation for many years.
  • And the Rays hope Blake Snell (9.4) will be too. He won’t be a free agent until 2023, so he may be around for a while. Then again, he’ll hit arbitration in 2020, so…
  • Fourth is Daniel Robertson (3.3). Seriously. If you don’t know who he is, you’re excused. He’s a utility guy with only 500 career at-bats. I assume he’ll be a Ray in 2019. Probably. Maybe.


  • My hopes that an improved bat in 2016 and 2017 would mean another step forward in 2018 for Elvis Andrus (28.8) were dashed quite early in the season. I hoped he’d make a Hall run, but I just don’t see it now.
  • If I were a team, I’d have signed Rusty Greer (22.3) after he left Texas. Always seemed like a good guy to have on a ball club. Maybe not, but Greer had a nice little peak from age 27-30.
  • The great Roger Pavlik (10.6) is next.
  • And Matt Harrison (9.1) is fourth. Like Greer, I’m surprised neither Pavlik nor Harrison hooked on with anyone else.


  • The Blue Jays have had a lot of great players in their days, yet Kevin Pillar (14.3) tops their list. I think of him a lot like Juan Lagares if Lagares were respected by his franchise. Pillar is at -42 Rbat and 63 Rfield. Lagares is at -33 Rbat and 84 Rfield. For whatever reason, even though they both reached the majors in the same year, Pillar has come to the plate about 800 more times and has a better reputation.
  • Up next is Marcus Stroman (10.9). Injuries likely mean he’ll never be what we hoped he might be. Still, he’s the second best player in Jays history by this measure.
  • And Luis Leal (10.8) is third. Almost half of his value came in 1982, and the Jays got a useful pitcher for four seasons.
  • Ricky Romero (9.7) closes things out. His last time with the Jays was 2013. He pitched in their minor league system in 2014 and in the Giants system the next three years. He didn’t pitch in 2018 and appears to be done now. Aaron Sanchez (9.2) should displace him next year.

That’s it for your 2018 Rushmore update. In the next few weeks we’re going to update you on the progress (or lack thereof) of active players on their journeys to the HoME.


All-Time HoME Leaders, Center Field – 1-20

Do you have a good sense of what’s going to happen with Carlos Beltran when he hits the Hall ballot in a few years? I don’t. The guy never led the league in anything meaningful, he wasn’t very healthy during the second half of his career, and he had one of the more memorable called third strikes in the game’s history. On the other hand, he did make nine All-Star teams, he’s eighth in JAWS at his position (at least until Mike Trout passes him), and his post-season career overall was excellent, as evidenced by a 1.021 OPS. I’m going to err on the side of progress on this one. The voting body as a whole is getting better and better. Yes, that’s in part due to purging of old-school writers and new-school thinkers getting votes. It’s also due to some older BBWAA members making progress, learning how to think differently. So that’s it, the introduction to the first 20 guys in center.

Oh yeah, we both rank Willie Mays behind Ty Cobb [ducks].

Maybe you’ll like the rankings at other positions more. Here they are.

[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], [LF, 21-40]

Center Field – 1-20

CF, 1-20

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

Mike Trout

Finally, a really fun one! Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. If you’re too young to have seen Willie Mays, it’s possible he’s the best player you’ve ever seen. Sure, he’s behind a bunch of guys now, but for how long? A season of just 6.0 adjusted WAR gets him past Kenny Lofton, Carlos Beltran, Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, and Paul Hines. Since Trout is just 27 this year, let’s hold him at that conservative 8.4 for two years before decreasing it by one win per year until he reaches 10. If that were to happen, he’d also pass Richie Ashburn, Billy Hamilton, Ken Griffey, and Joe DiMaggio. Mantle is next on the list, but I think he’s too far away for Trout. Here’s what he’d need: 9.0, 9.0, 8.0, 8.0, 7.0, 7.0, 6.0, 5.0, 4.0, 3.0, 2.0, and 1.0. At that point, he’d be 38. And absolute greats can be pretty awesome at that age, worth far more than just 1 WAR. Ted Williams and Barry Bonds topped 9.0, and Honus Wagner was worth 8.0. Babe Ruth (and Bob Johnson) topped 6.0. And Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Bill Dahlen, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb played like All-Stars. I’m not ready to say that Trout is those guys. All I’m saying is that those guys are great even when they’re old. Maybe Trout is that great. Maybe Mantle falls. Maybe.—Miller

We all get it. Mike Trout’s amazing. Yada yada yada. Our new normal: Someone posts some amazing tidbit about Mike Trout, and we just acknowledge it briefly then move along. This guy is doing things unseen in several generations, and he is absolutely crushing the league. How badly? In the seven seasons from 2012–2018 (through May 11th), Trout earned 56.8 BBREF WAR. The next highest total was a tie between Josh Donaldson and Robinson Cano at 38.0, which means that Trout has exceeded the second best total by 49%. Forty-flippin’-nine percent!!! That’s like a person running a two-hour marathon, and the second place finisher clocks in at three hours.

But is this level of complete and total dominance rare? With the help of BBREF’s Play Index, which you subscribe to immediately, I looked up every seven-year stretch in big league history, and, yes, Trout’s 49% lead is the highest. In fact, he leads the next best by 8 percentage points (Barry Bonds leading Cal Ripken by 41% from 1989–1995). In fact only two other players led their second-place finishers by more than 30%: Ross Barnes over George Wright from 1871–1877 (32%) and Bonds leading Rickey Henderson from 1988–1994 by 31%. Once again, Mike Trout is doing things we’ve never seen in our lifetimes, or even across all time.

Digging a little deeper, only 35 different men have led MLB in WAR over a seven-year span. Just 35 in the nearly 150 years we’ve been at this professional baseball thing. Of the 55 who have finished second, 33 appear on the leader list, so en toto, a mere 57 players have managed to appear on these lists, combined. Trout has now turned the trick three times (assuming that Cano and Donaldson don’t managed to gain nearly 20 WAR in 2018’s remaining months), making him only the 21st player to do so. The other 20?

  • Barry Bonds: 13 times
  • Babe Ruth: 11
  • Honus Wagner: 10
  • Willie Mays and Stan Musial: 9
  • Ty Cobb, Albert Pujols, and Mike Schmidt: 7 times
  • Cap Anson: 6 times
  • Ed Delahanty and Lou Gehrig: 5 times
  • Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Morgan: 4 times
  • Wade Boggs, Roberto Clemente, Billy Hamilton, Rickey Henderson, and Alex Rodriguez: 3 times.

Any time you’re a player under 27, and you’re in a group with Boggs, Clemente, Hamilton, Henderson, and A-Rod, you can probably feel good about your Hall of Fame chances. Given the gap between Trout and the next-best, it’s pretty likely he’s going to reach at least four to six instances of this particular way of looking at things, and the names only get better as the we go up the list. Amazing.—Eric

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

Where do I begin? Our first seven are pretty conventional, actually. But then there’s Put Put Ashburn who took for bloody ever to reach the Coop, and whose combo of high OBPs, steals, and ace centerfielding we find highly compelling. Paul Hines hasn’t gotten much of any attention from the Veterans Committees, and think he’s pretty great. Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton got knocked off crowded Hall ballots due to the 5 percent rule, and The Toy Cannon didn’t even get one stinking vote in 1983 before falling off the slate. I’m not sure whether Willie Davis ever appeared on a Hall ballot. Andruw Jones just barely avoided getting thrown in his Hall of Fame rodeo. We’ve got all these guys in our top twenty. We have the Duke juuuuuuust inside the top fifteen as opposed to chumming with Willie and Mickey, we’ve got little-known 1800s guys popping onto the bottom of the top twenty, and we don’t have any of Kirby Puckett, Larry Doby, Earl Averill, Edd Roush, or Earle Combs in it. Yeah, we’re flying our centerfield freak flags high. Or maybe geek flag is a better term.—Eric

It has to be Ty Cobb and Willie Mays. I think a year or three ago some ESPN piece called Mays the best player in baseball history. That’s strange. It’s Ruth, it’s Ruth, it’s so clearly Ruth. Unless you timeline. And then it’s Bonds. Unless you think PEDs changed everything. And then it’s, um, maybe Mays? Or a bunch of other potential guys. Anyway, if ESPN says the best player ever is Mays and we don’t even think he’s the best at his position, we diverge most from conventional wisdom on Cobb and Say Hey. Look at our numbers though. The two are separated by three percentage points for me and four for Eric. At their level, that’s a virtual tie. You say Mays was better than Cobb? Okay, I’m not going to argue.—Miller

Where do we disagree with one another the most?

Our order for the first eight is identical. Then our next seven are the same, though in a different order. And then there’s a bit of separation in some, but most players are close enough.—Miller

Primarily, Jim O’Rourke. Now, most folks think of Orator Jim as a left fielder, but a) he played pretty much everywhere, and b) he’s a centerfielder. Here’s the appearances that BBREF current estimates for O’Rourke by position:

  • C: 231
  • 1B: 214
  • 2B: 2
  • 3B: 148
  • SS: 40
  • LF: 770
  • CF: 463
  • RF: 217
  • P: 6

Not that is utility. Says in that list that O’Rourke’s appearances in centerfield trail his appearances in left field by 300 games. But when it comes to the 19th Century, things get wacky. The leagues’ schedules changed almost constantly until 1904 when the 154-game slate became the standard. Every few years, as the game’s popularity grew, the magnates would tack on more games, increasing profits on ticket sales and concessions. Yay! More baseball! But for guys like me who have a little dollop of engineering in their brain, assigning a primary position without accounting for the schedule feels not quite right. Especially when you also prefer to assign position based on where the player earned the most value. (For examples why, see Banks, Ernie and Rose, Pete.) So when we actually break out O’Rourke’s appearances, we find out that most of his innings in left field came in the last seven years of his career, when the schedule was as much as twice as long as in his first ten or fifteen years. During that earlier time, O’Rourke got most of his centerfielding in. Even if we adjusted the innings for a 162 sked and all that, it probably wouldn’t make enough difference to overcome the late left field advantage, but it would be awfully close. But when I season by season partition his WAR (with all my adjustments baked in) based on the percentage of his defensive innings played (or estimated to have be played) at each position, centerfield wins out over left field. Much of that is due to the fact that O’Rourke was at his physical peak during the late 1870s and a few subsequent seasons when he played centerfield most often. He was in his closing act when he went to left field to stay late in his days. “Simple” as that.—Eric

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

Rich Ashburn had a short career by the standard of great players—just fifteen years. He rarely missed a game, so his plate appearances don’t reflect it, and he went out on a high note. Well, as high as you can get on the 1962 Mets, for whom he netted 2.1 WAR with a 121 OPS+. If Whitey had chosen to keep grinding along with the Amazings, he might have slipped a couple pegs down the ladder. Any system that prefers longevity to peak or prime value might see Ashburn a little less favorably.—Eric

If defensive numbers are overblown, as Bill James suggests, we may overrate Andruw Jones. If the mythology put into song by Terry Cashman is right, we may underrate Duke Snider. But I want to take a shot at explaining a player who we rank correctly. I am incredibly confident that Joe DiMaggio is exactly the fifth best center fielder ever. At the HoME, we don’t give credit for seasons missed due to military service. Maybe we should, but I prefer our position for a myriad of reasons. Still, let’s say we replace DiMaggio’s three missed seasons. If we give him 5.6 WAR each year, which tips just a little more to what he did before he left compared to when he returned, he’s still fifth.—Miller


Join us back here in a week as we finish off center field.

End of the Year HoME Roundup, CF

Mike Trout, 2017Continuing down the road with our post-season evaluation of active major leaguers, today we move to center field. What are the chances Mike Trout and others eventually get elected to the Hall of Miller and Eric? Read on to find out. And please check out our analysis of other positions in this series.


Carlos Beltran


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   12
Ahead of Kenny Lofton, Duke Snider, and Mike Trout.
Trailing Andruw Jones, Jim Edmonds, and Paul Hines.

Eric: 10
Ahead of Paul Hines, Mike Trout, and Andruw Jones
Trailing Billy Hamilton, Rich Ashburn, and Jim Edmonds

Current career trajectory:
Beltran’s career could be over after a lousy 2017 campaign.

HoME Outlook:
But what a great career it is/was. He’s one of the greatest base stealers of all time with an 86% success rate in 361 attempts. He’s hit nearly 450 homers, collected 2725 hits, poled 565 doubles and 78 triples and walked 1084 times. He even leads all active players in sacrifice flies for Pete’s sake. Defensively, until his legs gave out in his early thirties, Beltran played plus defense and sometimes plus-plus defense. About the only thing he couldn’t do was pitch, though he never tried in a game. For years, concerned sabrmetric citizens bemoaned a likely shunning by the writers, but his longevity and several blistering post-season series have made that outcome unlikely. Then again, HoME-wise, he’s been a made man since somewhere between 2008 and 2010.

Mike Trout


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   15
Ahead of Jimmy Wynn, George Gore, and Max Carey.
Trailing Duke Snider, Kenny Lofton, and Carlos Beltran.

Eric: 12
Ahead of Andruw Jones, Kenny Lofton, and Duke Snider
Trailing Jim Edmonds, Carlos Beltran, and Paul Hines, and none of them for long

Current career trajectory:
No one is like Mike Trout. He’s doing things that only guys with names like Cobb, Mantle, and Mays do. Assuming he’s still MIKE TROUT in 2018, he could conceivably pass Billy Hamilton and Ken Griffey, Jr., in my personal rankings. In just 4700 or so PAs. Extreme? These three all have basically the same seven-year peak after all of my adjustments: 52–54 WAR. But because Trout has only played for seven years, we’re including his 135-PA 2011 season, and the 0.5 WAR my system spits back for it. So if Trout has merely a 7.0 WAR season next year, then his peak will be not 53 WAR but 60. Here’s the list of guys who in my system have assembled a 60+ WAR seven-year peak (nonconsecutive):

  1. Babe Ruth: 85
  2. Rogers Hornsby: 77
  3. Ty Cobb: 76
  4. Ted Williams: 76
  5. Willie Mays: 74
  6. Barry Bonds: 72
  7. Nap Lajoie: 72
  8. Tris Speaker: 71
  9. Honus Wagner: 69
  10. Stan Musial: 68
  11. Lou Gehrig: 68
  12. Eddie Collins 67
  13. Mickey Mantle: 66
  14. Hank Aaron: 64
  15. Alex Rodriguez: 64
  16. Mike Schmidt: 64
  17. Albert Pujols: 63
  18. Rickey Henderson: 62
  19. Jimmie Foxx: 62
  20. Carl Yastrzemski: 60

You couldn’t ask for better company. I’m rooting for Trout’s return to 10-WAR play just like everyone else, but even a mere fringe-MVP campaign puts him into some amazing company.

HoME Outlook:
Wait, what? He needs a rest of his career? Well, sure, of course. But if Mike Trout played replacement level baseball for another 6000 PA he’d still be a HoMEr.

Curtis Granderson


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   50
Ahead of Andy Van Slyke, Earle Combs, and Steve Finley.
Trailing Devon White, Edd Roush, and Andrew McCutchen

Eric: 46
Ahead of Torii Hunter, Andy Van Slyke, and Earle Combs
Trailing Edd Roush, Earl Averill, and Devon White

Current career trajectory:
An interesting career is winding down. His bat and glove are both still passable though, unless you consider an elevated infield pop rate skill degradation. He’ll have a job if he wants it and doesn’t demand huge money.

HoME Outlook:
Clearly he’s not going. But Edd Roush is in the Hall of Fame, and Curtis Granderson will retire as much the same player, so anything is possible.

Andrew McCutchen


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   45
Ahead of Edd Roush, Devon White, and Curtis Granderson.
Trailing Torii Hunter, Fred Lynn, and Lenny Dykstra.

Eric: 39
Ahead of Fred Lynn, Ellis Burks, and Roy Thomas
Trailing Mike Cameron, Vada Pinson, and Lenny Dykstra

Current career trajectory:
Trajectory connotes an arc to me. Like the trajectory of a baseball off a bat. Sure, spin will affect it greatly, but there’s still a roundness of some sort. Not McCutchen. That pothole in 2016 dropped the bottom out of the parabola. A bounce back to merely average in 2017 sure makes it seem like the end of his prime. His rebound offensively earned him a mere 16 batting runs, less than half of his peak years. His doubles have begun to ebb away. He hits about half as many triples now and steals fewer than half as many bases. With the loss of batting skill has come a drop in walk rate. His BABIPs have plunged 30 to 50 points thanks, surely, to some combination in loss of batting skill and speed. Indeed, on the bases, he turned in his third straight year of -3 runs or more. The percentage of extra bases he’s taken once on base has dipped from well above average (peak in the 60%+ range) to Ortizian (29%, 27%, 37% in the last three years). In the field, his continued immobility cost the 2017 Bucs 13 runs, his fourth consecutive campaign under par, and third of four in double-digit negatives. The saving grace to all of this could be a move to right field. No, he doesn’t have the arm of a right fielder, but his range, even diminished as it now is, plays well enough there to be average or positive. That was the plan for 2017, but Starling Marte’s untimely suspension crippled not only the Bucco’s offense, but its defense, forcing McCutchen back to center, which he then never relinquished. Hopefully the team, almost certain to pick up his cheap option, will once again station him in the rightmost pasture in 2018.

HoME Outlook:
Curiouser and curiouser, I’d say. Cutch’s peak is only decent since 2016 and 2017 ate up two years of what should be his prime. If he picked up 20 more WAR in his next 3000 plate appearances—4 a year for the next five or six years—he might squeak by as a borderline candidate. Or not. He’s such a wild card at this point, an amazing thing to say about someone whom two years ago could nearly have written his ticket to immortality with one more great season or a couple merely good ones.

Adam Jones


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   66
Ahead of Dwayne Murphy, Brady Anderson, and Chili Davis.
Trailing Hack Wilson, Bill Lange, and Dummy Hoy.

Eric: 67
Ahead of Mickey Rivers, Brady Anderson, and Al Oliver
Trailing Dummy Hoy, Bill Lange, and Dwayne Murphy

Current career trajectory:
Before discussing Jones, let me just interject how crazy it is to call Chili Davis a center fielder in my rankings. Sure, I don’t categorize anyone as a DH since comparison would be so difficult. But center field? Yeah, he played 539 games there, more than at any other defensive position. Still, it’s weird. Back to Adam Jones. What a solid citizen and player. When the season begins, the Orioles know what they’re going to get, about 150 games, about 28 homers, and about a 110 OPS+. He’ll only be 32 next year, so there’s a reasonable chance he can keep doing this for a few more years.

HoME Outlook:
No, there’s no reasonable projection of Adam Jones that suggests he can get to the HoME. However, I could envision a scenario where he reached 400 home runs and 2500 hits. If he does that, he’d join only Willie Mays, Ken Griffey, and Carlos Beltran among center fielders with those numbers. If this were 1997, we could create a scenario under which he’d get enough votes. As the voters improve, however, that’s less and less likely.

Jacoby Ellsbury


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   79
Ahead of Lorenzo Cain, Lloyd Waner, and unranked guys.
Trailing Benny Kauff, Grady Sizemore, and Dode Paskert.

Eric: 84
Ahead of Gary Pettis, Lloyd Waner, and teeming throngs of the middle pasture
Trailing Lorenzo Cain, Dode Paskert, and Rick Monday

Current career trajectory:
Health hasn’t been Ellsbury’s calling card in his career, and he’s simply not the player many hoped he would be after his breakout 2011 campaign. It’s been a while since then with mediocre season after mediocre season. He’s signed for three more years, which is pretty funny if you’re not a Yankee fan. If you’re looking for a positive, he did have the best BB rate of his career in 2017. That’s not nothing. Just close to it…

HoME Outlook:
Through age-33, his profile isn’t so different from that of Phil Rizzuto. So Ellsbury’s path to the Hall seems to be laying down a track with Meatloaf and becoming an insane announcer who checks out of games early, both intellectually and literally. Even if things work out for him, he’s unlikely to be among the best 70 center fielders ever.

Clearly, Miller underrates Ells. Doesn’t breaking the coveted catcher’s interference record get someone at least to the borderline?

Lorenzo Cain


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller:   80
Ahead of Lloyd Waner and guys I haven’t ranked.
Trailing Jacoby Ellsbury, Benny Kauff, and Grady Sizemore.

Eric: 81
Ahead of Dod Paskert, Rick Monday, and Jacoby Ellsbury
Trailing Curt Welch, Chicken Wolf, and Grady Sizemore

Current career trajectory:
Cain didn’t become a regular until he was 27 or 28, which is why we shouldn’t expect so many more seasons from him like this one. On the other hand, his vast skill set should be able to hold up for a few more years. Those hoping to sign Cain this winter may point to career best K and BB rates, and then salivate. Others will see that his calling card great defense has been getting less great for years, and he’s on what they call the wrong side of 30.

HoME Outlook:
Guys who start as regulars at age 27 don’t get into the HoME, and Cain will be no different. But let’s imagine another season like last year followed by a long slow fade to one win per year. If that happened, he’ll retire at a level with Earl Averill, Mike Cameron, and Dale Murphy. There’s nothing wrong with that.

We finish the outfield with right fielders on Monday.

End of the Year HoME Roundup, SS

Francisco Lindor, 2017We continue evaluating the candidacies of active major leaguers and look at their chances of reaching the Hall of Miller and Eric. Today, we’ll report on the third basemen. We hope you’ll check out our analysis of all the positions.


Troy Tulowitzki


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 43
Ahead of Tony Fernandez, Hanley Ramirez, and Freddy Parent.
Trailing Phil Rizzuto, Jack Rowe, and Luis Aparicio.

Eric: 37
Ahead of Jack Rowe, Travis Jackson, and Herman Long
Trailing Dick Bartell, Dave Concepcion, and Maury Wills

Current career trajectory:
Tulo has fallen from great while healthy, to good while healthy, to healthy while healthy. And he’s not very healthy. There are other warning signs too. His walk rate is down, he’s hitting for less power, and he’s predictably hitting more balls on the ground. Even though he’s striking out less, he makes up for that plus with weak contact. Maybe he was hiding an injury? Okay, of course there was an injury – it’s Troy Tulowitzki.

HoME Outlook:
For one of a zillion examples reminding us that we can’t put someone in the Hall or HoME before they turn 30, Tulowitzki reminds us that some bodies aren’t meant for baseball. He’s topped 131 games only three times in his entire career. That’s the same number of times he’s been below 100. Tulowitzki shows us that there are no guarantees, so maybe the guy will somehow find health over his 33-35 seasons. Of course, he’s still about three All-Star type of seasons away from strong consideration. He’s not going to get there.

Hanley Ramirez


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 43
Ahead of Freddy Parent, Rafael Furcal, and Germany Smith.
Trailing Tony Fernandez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Phil Rizzuto.

Eric: 46
Ahead of Tony Fernandez, Johnny Pesky, and Rafael Furcal
Trailing Luis Aparicio, Al Dark, and Freddy Parent

Current career trajectory:
Originally a shortstop, Hanley couldn’t field the position. Then he couldn’t field at third base, in left field, or at first base. Now he’s a designated hitter, and he seemingly can’t field that position either. Only once since 2010 has he been healthy and good at the same time, so I think it’s reasonable to say that he’s nearly done at age-34 next year. Sox fans and Hanley fans may think differently, but they should look at his 2016 HR/FB%. It shouldn’t be that high. It masked decline that took place the year prior, so I don’t imagine it’s going to get a lot better for Hanley.

HoME Outlook:
We can speculate that guys like Jeff Kent were at a similar place at a similar age, but Hanley is different. Not being able to field or hit makes you, um, special. He has money coming to him, sure, but he doesn’t have much more WAR in him. He’s not going to the Hall, and he’s not going to the HoME. It’s pretty sad that of the two third basemen the Red Sox signed after the 2014 season, Hanley is better.

Jose Reyes


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 58
Ahead of Garry Templeton, John Valentin, and Cecil Travis.
Trailing Jimmy Rollins, Davy Force, and Rico Petrocelli.

Eric: 55
Ahead of Dick Groat, Terry Turner, and Jose Valetin
Trailing Mark Belanger, Johnny Logan, Ed McKean

Current career trajectory:
We’re looking at a player who’s gone backwards in the WAR department over the last three years. His playing days are pretty much over, at least they should be.

HoME Outlook:
A joy to watch for much of his career as a speed first, second, and third player, Reyes reached 2,000 hits and 500 stolen bases this year, which is something only 31 others have ever done. If we throw in his 135 homers as another criterion, it’s just Reyes and seven other guys. Those distinctions will have to be enough because the HoME isn’t possible.

Elvis Andrus


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 66
Ahead of Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Correa, and Dickey Pearce.
Trailing Frankie Crosetti, Jose Offerman, and Edgar Renteria.

Eric: 71
Ahead of Andrelton Simmons, Frankie Crosetti, and Orlando Cabrera
Trailing Marty Marion, Eddie Joost, and Edgar Renteria

Current career trajectory:
Andrus looked at one point like he might develop into a multifaceted player with speed, glove, and a bat with some doubles power and enough walks to be helpful. All those things have happened, but not at the same time. Although the doubles have come, and this year he added 20-homer power, his walk rate has declined annually. The speed has played well on the bases, but he’s also twice led the AL in caught stealing. He’s alternated above and below average seasons with the glove. He’s going to be 29 next year, so unless he consolidates all those skills over the rest of his peak, he’s going to end up as his generation’s Edgar Renteria.

HoME Outlook:
Edgar Renteria was a pretty good player, and a key to several playoff teams. He’s not close to the HoME. With nearly 1500 hits through age 28, Andrus might actually have a better shot at the Hall of Fame than our little gallery.

Andrelton Simmons


Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 68
Ahead of Marty Marion, Edgar Renteria, and Jose Offerman.
Trailing Eddie Joost, Omar Vizquel, and Chris Speier.

Eric: 72
Ahead of Frankie Crosetti, Orlando Cabrera, and Dickey Pearce’s post-1870 career
Trailing Eddie Joost, Edgar Renteria, and Elvis Andrus

Current career trajectory:
Simmons is one of the best defensive players any of us have ever seen. And this year he hit a bit too. Through age-27, he has the look of someone on the rise, as evidenced by career bests in walk rate and extra base hit rate. If those numbers hold up, and if he’s someone who can keep an elite glove for a few more years, we might be looking at something surprising and special.

HoME Outlook:
In terms of value, he looks quite a bit like a bunch of excellent Hall of Fame middle infielders through age-27: Rod Carew, Joe Morgan, Billy Herman, Joe Gordon, Ryne Sandberg, Barry Larkin, and Bobby Doerr. Sure, he accumulates value differently from those guys, but value is value. Just for reference, he crushes Ozzie Smith through the same age. But will Andrelton age like the Wizard?

Francisco Lindor


Current career trajectory:
I’m writing about Lindor just a couple hours after he hit a playoff grand slam that turned an 8-3 laugher into and 8-7 nail biter that the Indians took to extras thanks to a Jay Bruce round tripper. Lindor is an electric player with smile and style, but with 16 WAR at age 23, he’s got a lot of substance too. We’ve elected seven postwar shortstops so far, and at age 23, they averaged ten WAR. Their seven nearest competitors averaged five. So Lindor is well ahead of the game. In fact, he’s ahead of everyone since the war but Cal Ripken, Jim Fregosi, and the next guy on our list.

HoME Outlook:
Where he goes from here is probably upward. His BBREF age-based comps are full of good to great players, and he has a wide enough breadth of skills that as he ages, he should continue to provide plenty of value. He’s a very special player with a great shot at the HoME.

Carlos Correa


HoME Outlook:
Correa only gets better. Even while missing a third of the year, he stamped out 6.3 WAR. He’s a decent shortstop with some speed (though that’s diminishing a bit), but his real calling card is the best shortstop bat since Alex Rodriguez’s debut. Look, we’re all jaded by Trout, Harper, and Machado’s amazing early careers, but this fella is bringin’ it. He’s earned 16 WAR through age 22. He places second behind A-Rod (23 WAR) in this regard. Only Robin Yount and Cal Ripken among HoME shortstops even earned more than 10 WAR by 22, and only Jim Fregosi did it among non-HoMErs. Lindor may be very special, but it is Correa who will duel with Manny Machado for the distinction of the best infielder of his generation.

Addison Russell


Current career trajectory:
Yes, I know you think it’s silly for me to include Russell. After all, he’s probably not even the most well known player whose name begins Addison R–. But this guy’s a pretty interesting young player. If you squint a bit you can see an Alan Trammell starter kit. At 23, Russell has 10 WAR to his name, which we’ve shown before is a pretty rare thing for a shortstop. He’s pretty rough around the edges as a hitter. He’s got good pop, including a 20-homer year at age 22. But he sells out for power and strikes out a fair amount for a player of his type. The result is that he hits .240, and when he puts the ball in play, if it’s not a homer he doesn’t get a lot of extra bases. Still, in all, you’ll take a 170 ISO from your shortstop every day of the week and twice on Sundays. And he walks just enough that if he could jack up his average a mere twenty points, he’d have an OBP at the league average. Meanwhile, Russell can pick it. BBREF thinks he’s got nearly two wins’ worth of value in his glove per annum, and DRA sees nearly a win’s worth per annum.

HoME Outlook:
In a time with fewer homers, fewer K’s, and more steals, Alan Trammell rung up a 94 OPS+ from age 19 to age 23 in about 600 more PAs than Russell has now. Trammell had about 30 points of average on Russell, but his ISO was 100 points lower. They both walked about the same amount, and although Tram stole much more often, he was a poor thief and got caught way too much. One thing they had in common, however, was a seeming inability to gather up doubles and triples. At 24, in 1982, Trammell’s power sparked to life, and he hit 34 doubles despite a mere .258 average. Then in 1983, the homers followed. Trammell had a good glove at this time, perhaps not as strong as Russell’s, but solidly positive. He turned out pretty good. Robin Yount followed a similar path and was a worse hitter than either Trammell or Russell. At age 24, he clocked in with a fabulous season, finally putting all the pieces together with 49 doubles and 23 homers. Both those guys hit for a little more average, Russell for more power. But some of that is the league context. I’m very interested to see whether Russell continues to develop as a hitter as he piles on the reps or whether we’ve seen what kind of player he truly is. But HoME-level players aren’t always greats from day one, and they often surprise us. But maybe they don’t surprise scouts? Yount was the third overall pick of the 1974 draft. Trammell went in the second round. Oh, and Addison Russell? First round, 11th overall.

Xander Bogaerts


Current career trajectory:
Bogey’s excellent 2015 season at age 22 presaged superstardom. Instead, he’s regressed into an average shortstop. In 2017, his bat dipped below average, and although he ran the bases well, his speed doesn’t translate into great range. Instead, he finished with double-digit negative BBREF fielding for the third time in four years. DRA likes his fielding even less. If Bogaerts can’t hack shortstop, the Sox have a difficult decision to make. It’s an open question whether Bogaerts could hit enough to stick at third, but anyway, Rafael Devers appears to be a the long-term solution there. Dustin Pedroia’s contract runs through 2021, and it’s not as though the Sox would find an active market for a 34 year-old second baseman who’s been banged up a lot the last three years. Xander has never played the outfield, defensive whiz Jackie Bradley, Jr. roams the center pasture at Fenway, and Bogaerts wouldn’t hit enough to stick there anyway. Worse yet, the team doesn’t have an understudy in the wings.

HoME Outlook:
So the Sox either move Bogaerts or stick with him. It’s senseless to cut bait now when his value has ebbed, and starting shortstops don’t grow on trees. So they’ll have to run him back out there and see if the bat will develop. If it does, and he can crank it up to 10–15 batting runs a year, then he might be able to get back on the HoME path. Right now, we’re not optimistic, but we’re not declaring him dead in the water. Not yet, anyway.

Corey Seager


Current career trajectory:
Seager is traveling along the same path as Lindor and is one of the handful of shortstops since the war with more than 10 WAR by age 23. That’s a pretty great start to a career. Offensively, Kyle’s kid brother took a small step backward in power but increased his walk rate. The K-rate went up with it, but not dangerously so. At this point, reviews on his defense are mixed with BBREF liking it, and DRA saying he’s below average. The Dodgers can live with below average as long as Seager continues to hit so well, and especially if he continues to develop more power.

HoME Outlook:
Seager, Lindor, and Correa may prove to be this generation’s shortstop trinity. Maybe Bogaerts will play Miguel Tejada and Andrelton Simmons Omar Vizquel. But there’s an agglomeration of talent at this position right now that’s far superior to the previous generation whose leading lights in the shortfield were Tulowitzki, Ramirez, and Reyes.

Next up on Monday, it’s left field.

Mount Rushmore, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Angels World Series, SIThey’ve been the Los Angeles Angels (1961-1964), the California Angels (1965-1996), the Anaheim Angels (1997-2004), and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005-2017), which is the silliest team name of all time. And that’s coming from a guy familiar with the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns. The Angels won the only World Series they got to, a seven-game struggle against the Giants in 2002.

Guys It’s Not

Because Mike Trout got hurt, Chuck Finley is still the best player in Angel history, but since he pitched for the Indians and Cardinals, he can’t make it. It can’t be Brian Downing, 1981Jim Fregosi, though he’s third, and it can’t be Nolan Ryan, though he’s fifth, since they were traded for each other. Brian Downing started and ended elsewhere. Jered Weaver has stunk things up in San Diego this year. Bobby Grich was actually more valuable in Baltimore. The list goes on. There’s a lot of guys who don’t make the Angel Mount we have to dig deep to find the trio that joins Trout.

Angel Mount Rushmore

Mike Trout: There’s little to say about him that hasn’t already been said. Luckily for us, he has about fifteen years left during which he’ll do so, so much more.

Tim Salmon, 1996Tim Salmon: The 1993 AL Rookie of the Year is known as Mr. Angel by some, a title you might think should go to Trout. But Trout is bigger than the Angels. Let’s let Salmon keep the nickname. For his career, Salmon and his 40.5 WAR are roughly equivalent to Hall of Famer Chuck Klein, though Salmon clearly isn’t a Hall of Famer.

Scot Shields: When you have to go to a middle reliever with just 12.4 career WAR for your third guy, you know you’re in trouble. Shields was a wonderful pitcher from 2002-2008, pitching lots of games and lots of innings. But he’s Scot Shields. He’s a middle reliever. Is there really a lot more to say?

Gary Disarcina: I would rank Disarcina, Angel from 1989-2000, behind Fregosi, Erick Aybar, Dick Schofield, David Eckstein, and maybe even Dave Chalk among Angel shortstops. Yet, with 11.2 WAR and an OPS+ of just 66, Disarcina makes this list. He’s 14th all-time in Angel hits and 18th in runs. He stole 47 bases in his career and was caught 44 times. I suspect this is the last time I will write a word about him.

Kole Calhoun is close. If he’s back in the majors by the time you read this, he might supplant Disarcina.

My Angel Rushmore

Chuck Finley, 1987Mike Trout

Tim Salmon

Chuck Finley: The all-time Angel leader in WAR didn’t win enough games, only 200, to get the Hall consideration he deserves, but the guy was great at times with three seasons of 7+ WAR and another four at 4+. During the decade from 1989-1998, he trailed only Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and David Cone in WAR. However, he also trailed Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz in wins. If he pitched for the Braves rather than the Angels, I think he’d be in the Hall of Fame.

Nolan Ryan: I’m bypassing a guy with more Angel WAR, Jim Fregosi, and two of my favorites, Brian Downing and Bobby Grich, to give Ryan this honor. Somewhat to my surprise, Ryan each of his best four years with the Angels, though none of the next four were in California. Ryan’s signature strikeout seasons all came with the Halos, whiffing 300+ five times in six campaigns from 1972-1977

On deck next week is the Milwaukee Brewers.


Institutional History

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