Saturday, April 07, 2018

Looking At Franchises' Best Players - American League East

Well, I kind let this fall by the wayside. Whoops. Moving on to the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles (existed since 1901, counting the St. Louis Browns and Milwaukee Brewers, for one year):

Top Player: Cal Ripken Jr. (95.9 WAR)

#24 Player: Ned Garver (26.8)

# of Players with >30 WAR: 19

# of Players with >50 WAR: 5 (Ripken, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, George Sisler)

# of Players with >100 WAR: 0

Can you make a starting lineup of the Top 9?  No. They have 3 pitchers - Palmer, Mike Mussina, and the excellently named Urban Shocker - and between Ripken, Robinson, and Mark Belanger, they have three guys who play either third base of shortstop. No catchers, not enough outfielders.

Notes: Given what I've always heard about the Browns being a lousy franchise, there are more of them on this list than I would have expected. Only 8 of the 24, but the franchise has been the Orioles for over 60 years now, so you'd expect Baltimore players to dominate. My dad's always told me his dad was a St. Louis Browns' fan. So bad choices in teams runs in the family.

Two active players on the list, Adam Jones (18th) and Manny Machado (22nd). Of course, Machado probably won't be an Oriole after this season. If he repeats his 2017, he'll move up to 18th or 19th. If he can replicate his 2015 or 2016, he could to at least 16th. 16th is probably about as far as Jones can move up, unless he can turn the clock back to 2013-2014.

Frank Robinson is on here, at 17th. I expect he's going to place much higher on the Cincinnati Reds' list when/if I get there.

Mark Belanger is basically the only guy in MLB history to have been worth as many runs defensively as Ozzie Smith. Smith has him beat by about 25 WAR, because while Ozzie was 13% below average as a hitter in his career, Belanger was 32% below average. Also, Ozzie was worth about 80 runs as a baserunner, Belanger 16. Still, Belanger was good enough to be part of some World Series winning teams.

Boston Red Sox (since 1901):

Top Player: Ted Williams (123.1 WAR)

#24 Player: Tim Wakefield (32.4). Whoo, knuckleball pitcher represent!

Players with >30 WAR: 31ish. I looked up their Top 50 in WAR for Batters and Pitchers, and added on everyone over 30 WAR. That might not be taking into account negative offense value for pitchers from pre-DH, though, but it's the best estimate I've got.

Players with >50 WAR: 11 (Williams, Yaz, Clemens, Boggs, Cy Young, Dwight Evans, Tris Speaker, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Bobby Doerr).

Players with >100 WAR: 1 (Williams)

Can you make a starting lineup of the Top 9? Well, Clemens, Cy Young, and Pedro are all pitchers, so no. Plus, four outfielders, and David Ortiz, who basically plays no position. Friggin' DHs.

Notes: Pedroia is the only current player on the list, although there are several guys that were playing recently. Clemens, Pedro, Ortiz, obviously. Also, Wakefield and Manny Ramirez (23rd), and Nomar (14th). Pedroia can probably pass Pedro and Big Papi this year, but unless he puts up 3.5 WAR, he won't catch Tris Speaker.

Babe Ruth is 15th on the list, behind Nomar (41.2) and ahead of Carlton Fisk (39.5 WAR). I expect Ruth is going to finish a lot higher on the next team's list.

Jimmie Foxx is 20th on Boston's list, after being 3rd on the Athletics'. Lefty Grove, who was 4th for Oakland, is 13th for Boston. Tris Speaker is 7th here, and 2nd for Cleveland. I'm curious if Clemens is going to make Toronto's list, because he had a hell of a two years there.

15 guys on the list have color photos, 6 that were part of the post-2000 teams. Which seems about right. This has been one of the most extended periods of the Red Sox being a relevant franchise.

New York Yankees (since 1903):

Top Player: Babe Ruth (142.4) Yeah, that's quite a bit higher of a finish.

#24 Player: Earle Combs (42.5 WAR). Christ, that's their 24th best player?

Players with >30 WAR: 36. 12 guys didn't make the Top 24, including Don Mattingly, Mike Mussina, and Rickey Henderson.

Players with >50 WAR: 13, same as Detroit. Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Jeter, Yogi Berra, Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Bill Dickey, A-Rod, Willie Randolph, and Andy Pettitte.

Players with >100 WAR: 3 Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle.

Can you make a starting lineup of the Top 9?  Actually, not too bad, but no. Got the outfield, the catcher and first baseman, and Jeter will stand at SS. But the last three guys are pitchers, so they're missing a second and third baseman.

Notes: Robinson Cano is 19th, between Thurman Munson and Graig Nettles, the only active player left. Although Brett Gardner was one of the 12 guys over 30 WAR not in the Top 24. Maybe he can make his way further up the list.

Alex Rodriguez finishes 11th, higher than he did with the Rangers, but lower than with the Mariners.

DiMaggio looks so forlorn in his picture, while Gehrig has this skeptical look on his face. Really, you're going to take my picture?

Red Ruffing's position is listed as pitcher and pinch hitter. His OPS+ is only 81, but he did collect over 500 hits and 36 HRs.

I read an autobiography for Whitey Ford when I was in junior high. I mainly remember the parts when his velocity was falling off and he was trying to use his wedding ring to doctor the ball without getting caught.

Toronto Blue Jays (existed since 1977):

Top Player: Dave Stieb (57.1 WAR)

#24 Player: Aaron Hill (17.1 WAR)

Players with >30 WAR: 5 (Stieb, Roy Halladay, Tony Fernandez, Jose Bautista, Carlos Delgado).

Players with >50 WAR: 1

Players with >100 WAR: 0.

Can you make a starting lineup of the Top 9? 4 starting pitchers says no.

Notes: Edwin Encarnacion (12th, 24.3 WAR), and Josh Donaldson (18th, 20.9 WAR) are the only two active players on the list. Although Jose Bautista retired just last year, and Aaron Hill played last year as well. But Hill had been below replacement level 4 of the last 5 seasons of his career. If this "dead arm" thing doesn't impact Donaldson's value too much, he might pass Encarnacion on the lis by the end of the season.

Clemens wound up 20th on the Blue Jays' list, after only two seasons.

I always liked Dave Stieb. Maybe because I briefly considered picking Toronto as my American League team back in the 80s, when I was thinking about having an AL team. So there are a lot of guys on here I remember from their early baseball cards, but I couldn't tell you anything about Jesse Barfield, for example. As for Stieb, he kept coming so close to getting no-hitters, and then they'd get broken up in the 8th or the 9th. My parents and I were at a Twins/Royals game in Minneapolis one year, when he had one going against the Yankees. Mattingly broke it up in the 9th, I think. I think Stieb got one eventually, though.

Pat Hentgen formed a heck of a tandem with Clemens for those two years. But he didn't have anything left in the tank by the time he came to St. Louis in 2000.

Speaking of former Cardinals, I was hoping Todd Stottlemyre would be on here, but no dice. He was worth just under 11 WAR for the Jays.

Tampa Bay Rays: (since 1998):

Top Player: Evan Longoria (50.0 WAR)

#12 Player: Aubrey Huff (11.8 WAR).

Players with >30 WAR: 3.

Players with >50 WAR: 1. Technically Longoria isn't over 50, but it's close enough.

Players with >100 WAR: 0

Can you make a starting lineup of their Top 9?  Nah. Three pitchers, no catchers.

Notes: For these franchises that haven't been around long, Baseball-Reference only went to Top 12. My rough estimate is Jeremy Hellickson (7.2 WAR) would be #24.

If it did go to 24, Fred McGriff would be on here, around 20, which is roughly where he was for Toronto as well.

Seven of the Top 12 are still in the league, the exceptions being Carl Crawford, Julio Lugo, Carlos Pena, Desmond Jennings, and Aubrey Huff.

Kevin Kiermaier is the only guy on this list still playing for the Rays. Unsurprising given their teardown of the last few seasons. Chris Archer will probably be on here soon. Based on his pitching WAR, he should already be ahead of Huff, which I guess means his scant batting chances have tanked his value just enough.

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