All posts by Adam Darowski

Guy Hecker’s 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys: The Least Talented Team Ever

Guy Hecker had an incredible 1884 season. The 28-year old righty started an American Association-leading 73 games for the Louisville Eclipse (completing 72 of them and making 75 appearances overall). He also led the league with 52 wins (against just 20 losses for a .722 winning percentage), a 1.80 ERA, 171 ERA+, 0.868 WHIP, and 385 strikeouts.

At the plate, he made 328 appearances and hit .297/.323/.430 for a 149 OPS+. His WAR was 16.6 as a pitcher and 2.0 as a hitter. His combined total of 18.6 led the league by a full seven wins (over Tony Mullane).

Hecker’s name has come up quite a bit in my research, but it recently popped up again as I was calculating Wins Above Expectancy for managers. Wins Above Expectancy simply calculates how many wins a team should have won and assigns the difference to the manager. Obviously the manager is not the sole reason a team performs over or under expectation. Wins Above Expectancy is just a junk stat I’ve been playing with since we don’t have a good way to calculate WAR for managers.

Hecker’s name came up because he was a player/manager in the final year of his career. Hecker also pitched and played first base for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys in the National League. The team was awful—they went just 23–113, setting a new loss record that would stand until 1899.

I calculate Wins Above Expectancy in two ways. The first uses Pythagorean record, which is the record the team was expected to finish with, given their runs scored and runs allowed. The Alleghenys scored 597 runs and allowed 1235, giving them a pathetic Pythagorean record of 28-108. So, by their runs scored and runs allowed, they should have won five more games than they actually did.

The second approach I used was to add up the combined WAR of all players on the team and calculate what the expected win-loss record would be. It is by this measure that the Alleghenys are the worst team ever.

The team’s hitters were worth –119 runs at the plate and –99 in the field, a horrible combination that adds up to a total of –4.9 WAR.

And the hitters were amazing compared to the pitchers.

22 pitchers took the hill in Pittsburgh that year. 21 were below replacement level. Only 25-year old Phenomenal Smith was able to produce 0.6 WAR (in 44 innings). Hecker himself was 2.4 wins below replacement. A pitcher named Fred Osborne managed to finish 4.3 wins below replacement in just 58 innings. The total of the pitching staff was –37.5 WAR.

The combined –42.4 WAR is simply incredible. Based on that total, the Alleghenys were expected to win just 1.8 games. As in 2–136, if you round up.

The Hall of Very Good, According to wWAR

A while back, I created an alternate Hall of Fame called the Hall of wWAR. wWAR, or weighted wins above replacement, is a modification to the WAR statistic found at Baseball-Reference. It was adjusted, or weighted, for several factors like peak performance, playoff heroics, and season schedule length. It reduced every player in history to just one number—a purely objective value of how good their Hall of Fame case is. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun.

I then dumped everyone out of the Hall of Fame and re-populated it just by wWAR. It was an interesting experiment, to say the least—63 players ended up getting booted (like Jim Rice, Catfish Hunter, and Rick Ferrell) while 63 were added (like Jeff Bagwell, Deacon White, and Dick Allen).

Since the Hall of wWAR is simply an ordered list of players, it makes it easy to sort and apply different cutoffs to make alternate Halls. For example, a while back on BPP I posted what a Small Hall would look like, according to wWAR. Today, I’ve got something a little different.

Our friends Sky Kalkman and Marc Normandin are heading up an eBook project called The Hall of Very Good (you should go pre-order now!). They promise to cover “the careers of baseball’s under-celebrated stars, from Ken Boyer to Rondell White.”

As I wait for the eBook, I thought I’d take a look at what a Hall of Very Good might look like, according to wWAR. There are currently 209 people voted into the Hall of Fame as MLB players. I decided our Hall of Very Good (by wWAR) should be the same size. So, I took the top 209 players, by wWAR, outside of the Hall of Fame.

I then excluded three members of the Hall of wWAR who are banned from the Hall of Fame—Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Eddie Cicotte. I also excluded three Hall of Famers who were inducted for roles other than as a player—Al Spalding (who is the absolute best “player” outside of the Hall of Fame, by wWAR), John McGraw (also a member of the Hall of wWAR), and Candy Cummings (not in the Hall of wWAR, but at the Hall of Very Good level).

So, here is the Hall of Very Good, According to wWAR:
* denotes a member of the Hall of wWAR

Catcher:

  1. Ted Simmons (98.3)*
  2. Joe Torre (91.9)*
  3. Thurman Munson (90.1)*
  4. Gene Tenace (84.9)*
  5. Charlie Bennett (82.5)*
  6. Bill Freehan (80.5)*
  7. Darrell Porter (71.5)
  8. Wally Schang (70.1)
  9. Jack Clements (59.2)

Personally, I believe Ted Simmons and Joe Torre absolutely belong in the Hall of Fame. Thurman Munson, to me, is right behind them. Tenace, Bennett, and Freehan aren’t quite as obvious, but each was supremely underrated. I would say that Tenace certainly had Hall of Fame talent. Had his teams realized exactly how valuable his skills were while he played, he would have played a lot more. That would have given him the plate appearances (he had only 5527) to be a no-doubt Hall of Famer. Gene Tenace, more than any of the other catchers, was screwed.

Darrell Porter, on the other hand, probably perfectly represents the Hall of Very Good. A good way of explaining how underrated Porter was is by pointing out he retired after hitting .265 and .238 in his final two seasons as a part timer. His OBPs, however, were .360 and .387—giving him OPS+ marks of 138 and 115.

Clearly, Porter had more to offer, but his skills weren’t valued in his day. He was a .247 hitter, but had a 113 OPS+ and was worth 40.6 WAR. His 1979 season was worth 8.4 WAR, showing he was capable of greatness. Like Tenace, given more of a chance (his 6570 plate appearances is relatively low) he might have produced Hall of Fame-level value.

First Base:

  1. Jeff Bagwell (132.6)*
  2. Dick Allen (98.1)*
  3. Mark McGwire (91.3)*
  4. Keith Hernandez (90.8)*
  5. Rafael Palmeiro (89.6)*
  6. John Olerud (84.0)*
  7. Will Clark (83.3)*
  8. Norm Cash (72.1)
  9. Fred McGriff (70.8)
  10. George Burns (68.7)
  11. Dolph Camilli (64.7)
  12. Gil Hodges (64.5)
  13. Joe Start (59.3)
  14. Mark Grace (59.2)
  15. Ed Konetchy (58.1)
  16. Jack Fournier (57.3)
  17. Don Mattingly (57.1)
  18. Fred Tenney (56.6)

If I could put any one player in the Hall of Fame, it would be Jeff Bagwell. Simply put, he is the best player not in. Dick Allen, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro all clearly had Hall of Fame talent, but other issues have kept them out. McGwire admitted PED use, Palmeiro tested positive, and Allen… well, some people thought Allen was a jerk. Others thought the opposite. The truth is likely somewhere in between.

If you believe in the value of defense—and I do—then you think Keith Hernandez is a Hall of Famer. It is with John Olerid and Will Clark that we approach the borderline.

The pair rates ahead of Norm Cash and Fred McGriff by a good amount, and I tend to agree with that. You could put them all in the Hall and it really wouldn’t be any worse than it is now.

Gil Hodges simply doesn’t rate as a Hall of Famer by wWAR. This, of course, does not include his value as a manager. Don Mattingly also doesn’t stack up. However, if he ever wins a title as a manager, he’ll be able to make a Hodges-like dual-role case with the Vererans Committee.

Second Base:

  1. Bobby Grich (99.9)*
  2. Lou Whitaker (93.4)*
  3. Ross Barnes (80.1)*
  4. Willie Randolph (78.2)*
  5. Cupid Childs (78.2)*
  6. Hardy Richardson (69.2)
  7. Fred Dunlap (66.2)
  8. Chuck Knoblauch (65.3)
  9. Larry Doyle (64.5)
  10. Tony Phillips (62.8)
  11. Buddy Myer (56.8)
  12. Del Pratt (52.3)

Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker are more deserving than several, if not most, second basemen in the Hall. Ross Barnes is interesting—his career totals are very low because he had a short career and played at a time of very short season lengths. He was the very best hitter in the National Association and was an adept fielder at a premium position. That should probably be good enough for induction.

Willie Randolph and Cupid Childs are much closer to the borderline. Hardy Richardson comes next after a somewhat substantial gap. Tony Phillips makes the Hall of wWAR despite never being selected as an All Star.

Third Base:

  1. Sal Bando (93.0)*
  2. Deacon White (92.2)*
  3. Ken Boyer (87.0)*
  4. Buddy Bell (84.2)*
  5. Graig Nettles (82.5)*
  6. Darrell Evans (78.3)*
  7. Stan Hack (76.3)*
  8. Robin Ventura (75.2)
  9. Ezra Sutton (72.9)
  10. Ron Cey (72.9)
  11. Bob Elliott (71.3)
  12. Ned Williamson (70.9)
  13. Heinie Groh (65.6)
  14. Lave Cross (60.4)
  15. Toby Harrah (59.8)
  16. Matt Williams (57.8)
  17. Larry Gardner (55.6)
  18. Denny Lyons (53.6)
  19. Arlie Latham (52.8)

Before Ron Santo was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was the best third baseman outside of the Hall, by a decent amount. Third base is one of the most poorly represented positions in the Hall of Fame, and several of the third basemen actually in the Hall don’t belong there.

The three that stand out by wWAR are Sal Bando, Deacon White, and Ken Boyer. I’d put all of them in. The next tier—Buddy Bell, Graig Nettles, and Darrell Evans (plus Stan Hack and Robin Ventura) could either be your Hall of Very Good, or also Hall of Famers. I’m split on this group. Ron Cey, I’d say, is a perfect representative of the Hall of Very Good.

Shortstop:

  1. Bill Dahlen (113.2)*
  2. Jack Glasscock (104.3)*
  3. Alan Trammell (99.3)*
  4. Jim Fregosi (68.9)
  5. Herman Long (61.3)
  6. Art Fletcher (60.2)
  7. Ed McKean (58.9)
  8. Vern Stephens (58.2)
  9. Bert Campaneris (56.6)
  10. Gil McDougald (53.5)
  11. Roger Peckinpaugh (52.5)

Bill Dahlen, Alan Trammell, and Jack Glasscock all deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. After that, there’s a huge gap. Jim Fregosi and Company fit the Hall of Very Good description.

Left Field:

  1. Tim Raines (89.8)*
  2. Sherry Magee (84.8)*
  3. Minnie Minoso (81.1)*
  4. Harry Stovey (76.7)*
  5. Jimmy Sheckard (73.9)
  6. Bob Johnson (72.3)
  7. Charlie Keller (72.2)
  8. Jose Cruz (70.0)
  9. Mike Smith (67.6)
  10. Roy White (64.4)
  11. Bobby Veach (63.1)
  12. George Foster (62.0)
  13. Augie Galan (60.9)
  14. Albert Belle (58.6)

Tim Raines is the standout here, though Sherry Magee, Minnie Minoso, Harry Stovey, and even Bob Johnson have their ardent supporters.

I see Jose Cruz’s name here and I think he’s another perfect example of the Hall of Very Good. Some people think Albert Belle was a Hall of Famer, but really he’s on the Hall of Very Good borderline.

Center Field:

  1. Jim Wynn (95.1)*
  2. George Gore (82.9)*
  3. Paul Hines (77.9)*
  4. Cesar Cedeno (76.6)*
  5. Willie Davis (75.9)
  6. Tommy Leach (71.1)
  7. Dale Murphy (70.2)
  8. Bernie Williams (68.7)
  9. Vada Pinson (68.4)
  10. Chet Lemon (66.9)
  11. Fred Lynn (66.8)
  12. Mike Griffin (66.1)
  13. Fielder Jones (65.5)
  14. George Van Haltren (64.0)
  15. Brett Butler (63.2)
  16. Jimmy Ryan (61.7)
  17. Lenny Dykstra (61.7)
  18. Roy Thomas (61.0)
  19. Ellis Burks (60.8)
  20. Pete Browning (58.8)
  21. Amos Otis (56.5)
  22. Andy Van Slyke (55.8)
  23. Wally Berger (55.5)
  24. Devon White (54.4)
  25. Ben Chapman (54.0)

What’s interesting is that the Hall of wWAR is very light in center field. But the Hall of Very Good (by wWAR) features an abundance. We see this same phenomenon with pitchers, but I’ll get to that.

Jimmy Wynn is way out in front here, by far. His numbers don’t stand out to the naked eye, but once they are park and era adjusted, he rates well within Hall of Fane territory. I’m honestly not sure any other center fielders deserve induction.

Many players scream “Hall of Very Good” here—Willie Davis, Bernie Williams, Vada Pinson, Fred Lynn, Chet Lemon, Brett Butler, Lenny Dykstra, Ellis Burks, Andy Van Slyke—the list goes on…

Right Field:

  1. Larry Walker (98.8)*
  2. Reggie Smith (84.8)*
  3. Dwight Evans (84.6)*
  4. Bobby Bonds (80.6)*
  5. Jack Clark (70.8)
  6. Mike Tiernan (68.7)
  7. Rocky Colavito (67.0)
  8. Tony Oliva (63.1)
  9. Darryl Strawberry (60.9)
  10. Dixie Walker (58.7)
  11. Rusty Staub (58.5)
  12. Dave Parker (57.5)
  13. Roger Maris (55.8)
  14. Jose Canseco (55.4)
  15. Ken Singleton (54.3)

Once again, we have a player way out in front of the rest (Larry Walker). Like Wynn, his value is greatly affected by park factor and era adjustments. Unlike Wynn, both cut his value, rather than add to it.

Reggie Smith, Dwight Evans, and Bobby Bonds are all close together and certainly would not hurt the Hall of Fame. I prefer Evans over the other two, but that could also be some homerism talking.

Tony Oliva, Dave Parker, and Roger Maris have their supporters, but each perfectly fits into the Hall of Very Good, by wWAR. Other names here like Jack Clark, Rocky Covalito, Darryl Strawberry, Rusty Staub, and Ken Singleton fit well to me, too.

Designated Hitter:

  1. Edgar Martinez (100.5)*
  2. Brian Downing (65.5)

Brian Downing is a great example of the Hall of Very Good. Edgar Martinez is a great example of a Hall of Famer. If only…

Pitcher:

  1. Bob Caruthers (120.8)*
  2. Kevin Brown (95.9)*
  3. Wes Ferrell (93.2)*
  4. Rick Reuschel (91.9)*
  5. Charlie Buffinton (88.5)*
  6. Tony Mullane (88.4)*
  7. David Cone (86.5)*
  8. Luis Tiant (86.3)*
  9. Silver King (83.0)*
  10. Orel Hershiser (82.3)*
  11. Dave Stieb (80.3)*
  12. Bret Saberhagen (79.7)*
  13. Jim McCormick (78.6)*
  14. Kevin Appier (76.7)*
  15. Wilbur Wood (76.7)*
  16. Frank Tanana (76.2)*
  17. Billy Pierce (76.1)*
  18. Jerry Koosman (75.6)
  19. Chuck Finley (75.4)
  20. Tommy Bond (75.0)
  21. Urban Shocker (74.5)
  22. Larry Jackson (74.0)
  23. Carl Mays (73.0)
  24. Dwight Gooden (72.6)
  25. Babe Adams (72.4)
  26. Tommy John (72.4)
  27. Jack Stivetts (71.6)
  28. Tommy Bridges (71.4)
  29. Wilbur Cooper (70.3)
  30. Mark Langston (68.8)
  31. Noodles Hahn (68.6)
  32. Dizzy Trout (68.3)
  33. Bucky Walters (67.8)
  34. George Uhle (67.8)
  35. Bobby Mathews (67.4)
  36. Dolf Luque (66.9)
  37. Mickey Lolich (66.6)
  38. Steve Rogers (66.0)
  39. Vida Blue (66.0)
  40. Nap Rucker (65.5)
  41. Ron Guidry (64.5)
  42. Frank Viola (64.4)
  43. Dave Foutz (64.0)
  44. Jimmy Key (63.7)
  45. Lon Warneke (63.3)
  46. Jack Quinn (63.2)
  47. Sam McDowell (62.7)
  48. Jim Whitney (62.6)
  49. Jesse Tannehill (62.2)
  50. Bobo Newsom (61.7)
  51. Dennis Martinez (61.5)
  52. Fernando Valenzuela (61.2)
  53. Jim Kaat (60.5)
  54. Dick McBride (60.4)
  55. Hippo Vaughn (60.1)
  56. Bob Friend (60.1)
  57. Jon Matlack (59.0)
  58. Jack Powell (58.0)
  59. Jim Maloney (57.8)
  60. Al Orth (57.7)
  61. Harry Brecheen (57.6)
  62. Ted Breitenstein (56.9)
  63. Claude Osteen (56.8)
  64. Schoolboy Rowe (56.7)
  65. Curt Simmons (56.1)
  66. Mel Harder (56.1)
  67. Dutch Leonard, the right-handed one (55.8)
  68. Ned Garver (55.4)
  69. Guy Hecker (55.2)
  70. Doc White (55.0)
  71. Eddie Rommel (54.9)
  72. Bob Shawkey (54.9)
  73. Virgil Trucks (54.8)
  74. Nig Cuppy (54.7)
  75. Ed Reulbach (54.1)
  76. Jack Morris (54.0)
  77. Brad Radke (53.7)
  78. Tom Candiotti (53.4)
  79. Sam Leever (53.1)
  80. Murry Dickson (53.1)
  81. Claude Passeau (52.7)
  82. Camilo Pascual (52.4)

There are a lot of pitchers here.i noted that the Hall of wWAR is short on center fielders, but the Hall of Very Good is bursting with them. Well, the Hall of Very Good is bursting with pitchers. Does this mean the Hall of wWAR is short on them? If so, that’s interesting because the Hall of Fame and Hall of wWAR happen to have the same number of pitchers.

I’ll admit it—the list of pitchers outside of the Hall does not seem nearly as impressive as the list of hitters outside of the Hall. I wonder if it is because:

  1. The powers that be have done a fantastic job of electing pitchers, or
  2. The bar is much higher for pitchers than hitters.

I plan to look into this further. I really wonder if #2 is the reason. You see how highly a guy like Bert Blyleven ranks and then struggles to get in the Hall. Even Kevin Brown was one-and-done. I don’t think people realize how rare a pitcher like Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, or Kevin Brown is.

#1 is not the reason. The Hall has plenty of Rube Marquards and Jesse Haineses. Then there’s Jack Morris. Voters and Veterans just seem to be looking for the wrong things.

Bert Blyleven was the first starting pitcher inducted since Nolan Ryan. Really?

The best pitchers not in, to me, correlate with wWAR. Give me Brown from the 20th century and Bob Caruthers from the 19th. Give me Wes Ferrell as the unique oddball, too. Add on his hitting stats and he’s downright Koufaxian. Caruthers, of course, gets a huge boost from his offense, too.

Next comes the group of Reuschel, Cone, Hershiser, Stieb, and Saberhagen. Luis Tiant is mixed in there too, but he has many more supporters (including yours truly) than the others. Why?

I need to do the research, but my hypothesis is that the Cone, Stieb, etc. of other generations eventually were inducted. I don’t see any pitchers in that group having a chance at induction, and that’s probably wrong. Was there really a lack of Hall-level pitchers between Blyleven/Ryan and the group about to hit the ballot?

I’m still not thrilled with how wWAR handles 19th century pitchers, so I’m not banging the drum for Charlie Buffinton, Tony Mullane, Silver King, or Jim McCormick. From that group, though, I lean towards Mullane and McCormick.

The Hall of Very Good features some really good names—Jim Kaat and Tommy John. Wilbur Wood and Frank Tanana. Vida Blue and Sam McDowell. Chuck Finley and Kevin Appier. Ron Guidry and Frank Viola. Fernando Valenzuela and Dennis Martinez.

Brad Radke and Jack Morris.

Gosh, a great book could be made just from these names alone.

Relief Pitcher:

  1. John Hiller (57.0)

The Hall of wWAR booted Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, and Rollie Fingers. Thanks to my generous reliever adjustments, Wilhelm and Sutter performed at the Hall of Very Good level. They are joined by the most underrated reliever—and perhaps the most underrated pitcher—in history: John Hiller.

Just a disclaimer here: this data may not quite be complete. The original net I cast for wWAR analysis was all players with 40+ WAR, but 30+ WAR for pitchers and 19th century hitters. So, there is a chance that some 30something WAR hitters with high peaks could sneak in here. If you think of any, please let me know.

And there we have it. I’m really looking forward to Sky and Marc’s book. I look forward to reading about several of these players—and of course, looking for players they include who are not listed here!

The Small Hall (of wWAR)

I may be a stat geek, but I’ve always been captivated by the history of the game. That’s what first drew me to this site. Many sites out there cover statistics. Some even discuss statistics from a historical perspective (a niche I try to fill). This site was different—the coverage of baseball history went beyond the numbers.

While I quickly became a big fan of Graham’s work, I was also very intrigued by the work of Joe Guzzardi. Joe—let’s say—has been around longer than most of the folks I read. I found his writing about the Pacific Coast League fascinating. I also love it when he talks about guys like Robin Roberts and Bob Friend.

Joe recently wrote a post called To the BBWAA: Focus on the Great, Not the Very Good. In the post, Joe explains his “small Hall” stance. It’s not a stance I agree with, but I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a “small Hall” since coming up with my system to rank Hall of Famers (via Weighted WAR and the Hall of wWAR). To get a “small Hall” by wWAR, you just have to pick a higher cutoff than I use for my Hall.

So, let’s see what a Small Hall of wWAR would look like. First, we need to pick our cutoff. In the comments section of Joe’s post, he says:

Sorry, I’m opposed to continuously lowering the bar. I’m fine with the thirteen catchers already induced: Bench, Berra, Campanella, Dickey, Cochrane, etc. In fact, I’d like to vote some of the others out.

So that gives us an idea of where he’d set a cutoff, positionally. Roy Campanella, sadly, has a low wWAR because his career was held back because of his skin color and then it ended early because of a tragic accident that left him paralyzed. Take him out of that group and the lowest wWAR is Mickey Cochrane’s 105.3. There we go—our cutoff is 105 wWAR.

Let’s see what this “Joe Guzzardi Small Hall of wWAR” would look like (player’s wWAR total in parentheses):

Catcher

  • Johnny Bench (158.7)
  • Gary Carter (147.0)
  • Carlton Fisk (129.7)
  • Yogi Berra (123.7)
  • Bill Dickey (107.0)
  • Mickey Cochrane (105.3)

I’m guessing that Joe would enshrine Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk (who rank as the second- and third-best eligible catchers in history). This is one hell of a half dozen receivers. The next-highest rated catchers are Buck Ewing (104.3), Ted Simmons (98.3), Joe Torre (91.9), and Thurman Munson (90.1). I don’t see any of them cracking Joe’s standards. Hall of Fame catchers who would be bumped include Ewing, Gabby Hartnett, (sadly) Campanella, Roger Bresnahan, Ernie Lombardi, Ray Schalk, and Rick Ferrell.

First Base

  • Lou Gehrig (246.9)
  • Cap Anson (205.0)
  • Jimmie Foxx (172.7)
  • Roger Connor (165.2)
  • Dan Brouthers (160.2)
  • Jeff Bagwell (132.6)*
  • Rod Carew (121.2)
  • Johnny Mize (115.8)
  • Ernie Banks (111.3)

Banks appears here because he spent more time at first base than shortstop. You can argue with me about that if you’d like, but I tried to make things as systematic as possible. Again, Jeff Bagwell is the sixth-best eligible first baseman of all time (and best since Foxx). Get this man in the Hall. Following Banks we find Dick Allen (98.1), Willie McCovey (96.4), and Hank Greenberg (95.8). These are tough cuts if you ask me. Soon after that, we start getting to the McGwire/Palmeiro types. This call bumps McCovey, Greenberg, Eddie Murray, George Sisler, Bill Terry, Harmon Killebrew, Jake Beckley, Frank Chance, Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Bottomley, and George Kelly from the Hall.

Second Base

  • Rogers Hornsby (258.0)
  • Eddie Collins (233.9)
  • Nap Lajoie (184.5)
  • Joe Morgan (177.5)
  • Charlie Gehringer (138.0)
  • Frankie Frisch (117.8)
  • Jackie Robinson (113.1)
  • Ross Barnes (105.3)*

Roscoe Barnes, the great American Association infielder, makes it in. The rest of the list is not very surprising. Just on the outside is Bobby Grich (99.9), Roberto Alomar (93.4), Lou Whitaker (93.4), and Ryne Sandberg (92.1). Alomar, Sandberg, Joe Gordon, Bid McPhee, Billy Herman, Johnny Evers, Tony Lazzeri, Bobby Doerr, Nellie Fox, Red Schoendienst, and Bill Mazeroski are bumped.

Third Base

  • Mike Schmidt (197.3)
  • Eddie Mathews (170.5)
  • Wade Boggs (149.0)
  • George Brett (140.3)
  • Home Run Baker (114.4)
  • Ron Santo (110.4)
  • Deacon White (107.1)*

Ron Santo keeps his brand new honor. Also, Deacon White (one of my personal favorite pet cases) gets in. Just missing are Brooks Robinson (100.5), Sal Bando (93.0), and Ken Boyer (87.0). Seeing that makes me think Joe’s cutoff might be more like 100 wWAR. I don’t know how you can keep Brooks Robinson out. Exiting the Hall in this case would be Robinson, Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, George Kell, and Freddie Lindstrom.

Shortstop

  • Honus Wagner (259.8)
  • George Davis (149.7)
  • Cal Ripken (143.5)
  • Arky Vaughan (127.7)
  • Robin Yount (117.5)
  • Bill Dahlen (113.2)*

Oh hi there, Bill Dahlen! We saber kids love you! Very interesting to see George Davis rank second, seeing how long it took for him be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Right behind Dahlen we see Jack Glasscock (104.3), Luke Appling (103.0), Barry Larkin (100.2), and Alan Trammell (99.3). Joe also says “I guess I’m sort of okay with Larkin … I’d have been okay if Larkin were passed over, too.” The fact that Joe says this and Larkin sits in that 100–105 wWAR range makes me think that I picked the right cutoff. Shortstops exiting the Hall will be Appling, Larkin, Pee Wee Reese, Bobby Wallace, John Montgomery Ward, Joe Cronin, Hughie Jennings, Lou Boudreau, Ozzie Smith, Dave Bancroft, Joe Tinker, Joe Sewell, Travis Jackson, Luis Aparicio, Phil Rizzuto, and Rabbit Maranville.

Left Field

  • Ted Williams (240.3)
  • Stan Musial (231.8)
  • Rickey Henderson (194.1)
  • Ed Delahanty (140.3)
  • Carl Yastrzemski (139.8)
  • Pete Rose (116.1)**
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson (115.0)**
  • Fred Clarke (110.1)

What a group of players this is! I’m not sure if a Joe Guzzardi Hall of wWAR would include Pete Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson. Joe does say “I would not vote for anyone suspected of PEDs”, so cheaters are definitely not cool with him. I’ll keep them in the list for now, since the numbers put them there. I also want to point out that just because Pete Rose has the most hits ever, it does not necessarily mean he is the best player not in the Hall of Fame. That’d be our friend Mr. Bagwell.

Anyway, following Fred Clarke (who seems to be criminally underrated, even as a Hall of Famer) Jim O’Rourke (102.3), Jesse Burkett (101.5), Al Simmons (98.0), Goose Goslin (92.6), and … Tim Raines (89.8, wWAR isn’t as bullish on Raines as most saber folks are). O’Rourke, Burkett, Simmons, and Goslin would depart the Hall of Fame along with Ducky Medwick, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, Zack Wheat, Ralph Kiner, Heinie Manush, Jim Rice, Lou Brock, and Chick Hafey.

Center Field

  • Ty Cobb (305.5)
  • Willie Mays (298.8)
  • Tris Speaker (247.9)
  • Mickey Mantle (228.4)
  • Joe DiMaggio (145.7)
  • Billy Hamilton (118.6)
  • Duke Snider (115.0)

There are not very many center fielders in the Hall of wWAR. But gosh is the position top-heavy. Look at that. Four guys above 200 (225, even). And that doesn’t even include Joltin’ Joe and the Duke. Who’s next? There’s a huge 20 wWAR drop-off before we get to Jimmy Wynn (95.1). Then there’s Richie Ashburn (84.8) and 19th century stars George Gore (82.9) and Paul Hines (78.3). Exiting the Hall would be Ashburn, Hugh Duffy, Larry Doby (again, just because this is purely statistical), Earle Combs, Kirby Puckett, Edd Roush, Earl Averill, Hack Wilson, and Lloyd Waner.

Right Field

  • Babe Ruth (418.9)
  • Hank Aaron (256.8)
  • Mel Ott (187.4)
  • Frank Robinson (170.6)
  • Al Kaline (138.8)
  • Roberto Clemente (131.6)
  • Reggie Jackson (119.5)
  • Sam Crawford (115.2)
  • Paul Waner (112.4)
  • Harry Heilmann (108.2)

There’s a lot of talent here, too. I don’t think anyone will debate the credentials of this list. After Heilmann is a ten wWAR gap, then Larry Walker (98.8), King Kelly (97.3), Tony Gwynn (95.6), and Willie Keeler (94.2). Leaving the Hall would be Kelly, Gwynn, and Keeler, along with Elmer Flick, Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson, Enos Slaughter, Kiki Cuyler, Sam Thompson, Harry Hooper, Sam Rice, Chuck Klein, Ross Youngs, and Tommy (Freakin’) McCarthy. We just booted 36 outfielders.

Designated Hitter

  • Paul Molitor (107.6)

A “small Hall” may not like DHs at all. But if we’re going by the numbers, Molitor would remain the only one. Edgar Martinez is close (100.5). Brian Downing is next, but not close (62.4).

Pitcher

  • Walter Johnson (273.1)
  • Cy Young (231.6)
  • Pete Alexander (191.1)
  • Christy Mathewson (182.2)
  • Tom Seaver (177.5)
  • Lefty Grove (175.4)
  • Bob Gibson (167.8)
  • Kid Nichols (163.4)
  • Gaylord Perry (149.5)
  • Phil Niekro (148.0)
  • Warren Spahn (147.1)
  • Steve Carlton (139.9)
  • Al Spalding (139.0)***
  • Bert Blyleven (136.9)
  • Robin Roberts (134.1)
  • Fergie Jenkins (128.5)
  • Bob Caruthers (120.8)*
  • Eddie Plank (118.9)
  • Nolan Ryan (113.8)
  • Bob Feller (110.6)
  • Don Drysdale (109.5)
  • Juan Marichal (107.6)
  • Carl Hubbell (106.7)
  • John Clarkson (105.4)

Gosh, that’s a nice list of pitchers. My guess is that the less-statistically-inclined are surprised to see Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and Bert Blyleven rate that highly. Folks, this is what we’ve been talking about. I’m really curious about who comes next on this list, so let’s expand it out a bit:

Tim Keefe (102.8), Ed Walsh (101.5), Red Ruffing (100.7), Jim Palmer (100.4), Old Hoss Radbourn (99.7), Sandy Koufax (96.6), Hal Newhouser (96.0), Jim Bunning (96.0), Kevin Brown (95.9), Wes Ferrell (93.2), Amos Rusie (92.0), Rick Reuschel (91.9), and Dazzy Vance (90.2) all topped 90 wWAR. The one that sticks out here like a sore thumb is Koufax. Can you have any kind of Hall that doesn’t include Koufax? The peak was strong, but this type of small Hall is reserved for dominance and longevity. Sorry, Sandy.

Leaving the Hall: Keefe, Walsh, Ruffing, Palmer, Radbourn, Koufax, Newhouser, Bunning, Rusie, and Vance, along with Mordecai Brown, Ted Lyons, Joe McGinnity, Stan Coveleski, Don Sutton, Vic Willis, Early Wynn, Rube Waddell, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Lemon, Whitey Ford, Red Faber, Clark Griffith, Mickey Welch, Dizzy Dean, Pud Galvin, Lefty Gomez, Burleigh Grimes, Eppa Rixey, Waite Hoyt, Chief Bender, Herb Pennock, Addie Joss, Catfish Hunter, Jack Chesbro, Jesse Haines, and Rube Marquard. That, right there, is a metric ton of Hall of Fame pitching. For the record, Red Faber and everyone listed before him is in the Hall of wWAR.

This Hall would also lose all of its full time relievers (Rich Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, and Rollie Fingers), though Gossage comes close at 100.6 wWAR.

* Denotes Not a Hall of Famer
** Denotes Banned from the Hall of Fame
*** Denotes Inducted as a Pioneer, Not as a Player

This new Hall of Fame would currently have just 86 players. If we opened it up to 100 wWAR guys, we would add twelve more: Buck Ewing, Jack Glasscock, Luke Appling, Tim Keefe, Jim O’Rourke, Jesse Burkett, Ed Walsh, Red Ruffing, Rich Gossage, Edgar Martinez, Brooks Robinson, and Jim Palmer.

Which active or retired-but-not-yet-eligible players reach the 105 wWAR threshold?

  • Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez (134.8), Mike Piazza (129.7)
  • First Base: Albert Pujols (174.2, already)
  • Second Base: none
  • Third Base: Chipper Jones (122.0)
  • Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez (189.2)
  • Left Field: Barry Bonds (341.2)
  • Center Field: Ken Griffey (133.0), Jim Edmonds (108.6)
  • Right Field: none
  • Designated Hitter: Frank Thomas (115.4)
  • Starting Pitcher: Roger Clemens (221.8), Greg Maddux (155.4), Randy Johnson (154.5), Pedro Martinez (124.6), Mike Mussina (109.5)
  • Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera (154.2)

A few guys are close (though some are retired): Curt Schilling (104.4), Derek Jeter (104.1, active), Jim Thome (102.3, active), Tom Glavine (101.4), Craig Biggio (98.1), Scott Rolen (97.1, active), and Roy Halladay (96.8, active).

Even though we’ve identified a very exclusive Hall of Fame here, there are still actually some players not in the Hall of Fame. Some are banned, but some are not. They are:

  • 1B Jeff Bagwell (132.6)*
  • 2B Ross Barnes (105.3)*
  • 3B/C Deacon White (107.1)*
  • SS Bill Dahlen (113.2)*
  • P/RF Bob Caruthers (120.8)*

We have four players who played at least 100 years ago… and Jeff Bagwell. Personally, I think these five players are the most egregious omissions from the Hall of Fame. My question for any Small Hall advocate is… would you put these guys in? If not, why the heck not?

So, Small Hall folks… what do you think of this? I think it looks pretty good. The biggest things I could see Small Hall advocates balking at are the omissions of Sandy Koufax and maybe Willie McCovey, Hank Greenberg, Harmon Killebrew, and Brooks Robinson while there are non-traditional additions like Jim Edmonds and perhaps Mike Mussina. Bert Blyleven, of course, remains a polarizing figure. I don’t like that John Montgomery Ward is bumped, but if he’s not in as a player, he’d be in as a pioneer.

I like a Hall of Fame that’s bigger than this. But if it’s going to be a Small Hall, I think wWAR does a pretty good job. What says you, Joe?

What Wes Ferrell has in common with Babe Ruth

Editor’s note: Please welcome Adam Darowski. Adam is a loyal reader, a regular in the comments section here, and also a fine baseball history writer in his own right. He contributes often to Beyond The Boxscore and did a post about this site last year. Today, Adam covers one of the more interesting classes of ballplayers in baseball history.

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Want to see an interesting group of players? How about the players in history who were most formidable on the mound and at the plate?

Players with 10+ position player WAR and 10+ pitching WAR, minimum 40+ total WAR (Source: Baseball-Reference.com)
Player WAR/pos WAR/p WAR/tot
Babe Ruth 172.0 18.0 190.0
Walter Johnson 12.1 127.7 139.8
Al Spalding 10.0 70.7 80.7
Bob Caruthers 18.8 52.6 71.4
Red Ruffing 13.7 53.6 67.3
Monte Ward 39.5 25.4 64.9
Wes Ferrell 12.0 41.3 53.3
Jack Stivetts 10.5 42.5 53.0
Dave Foutz 18.1 30.0 48.1
Mike Smith 31.6 15.4 47.0
George Uhle 11.3 34.5 45.8


Babe Ruth: There’s not really much I could write about Babe Ruth that hasn’t already been written. One thing I’ve been wondering about is how good of a pitcher he could have been if he stuck with it. He was worth 18.3 WAR as a pitcher in Boston through his age 24 season (his Yankee pitching appearances were more for novelty). How many other pitchers have been worth that much through their age 24 seasons? Well, it turns out that in the 19th century there were a ton. Silver King, for example, already piled up 52.9 WAR. Granted, he did it in 2727 innings. If we limit it to 1500 innings, we get Bob Feller on top with 35.6 WAR followed by Frank Tanana at 30.9 and Dwight Gooden at 30.2. Ruth is actually only 24th, surrounded by pitchers like Robin Roberts, Mel Harder, Dutch Leonard, Dizzy Dean, and Dick Ellsworth. So, while these are all very good pitchers—and some are Hall of Famers—Babe Ruth the pitcher probably wouldn’t have been quite as dominant as Babe Ruth the hitter. But the very fact that he could have been a Hall of Famer as a pither or hitter is remarkable.

Walter Johnson: In addition to being one of the very best pitchers of all time (if not the best), Johnson hit .235/.274/.342 for a 76 OPS+. While a 76 OPS+ sounds weak, let’s remember that Omar Vizquel’s career OPS+ is 82 and some are talking about him for the Hall of Fame. For a pitcher, that winds up being worth 12.1 WAR when you keep it up over 2517 plate appearances. In 1925 (at age 37), he hit .433/.455/.577 in 107 PAs, good for 1.9 WAR.

Al Spalding: The first great pitching star of the major leagues, Spalding also played 64 games in the outfield and 52 at first base (among other positions). He hit .313/.323/.379 (an OPS+ of 116) over 1988 plate apparances. His 10.0 WAR as a hitter accents 70.6 pitching WAR (10.4 listed on Baseball-Reference, but an estimated 60.2 from his National Association career).

Bob Caruthers: It really is a wonder that Bob Caruthers is not in the Hall of Fame. In his 10-year career, he posted a 218-99 record as a pitcher with a 2.83 ERA (123 ERA+). He posted a pair of 10+ pitching WAR seasons (and two more above 8.0). His total of 52.6 pitching WAR is in addition to the 18.8 wins he provided as a hitter (71.4 total). He hit .282/.391/.400 in 2906 plate appearances., good for a 133 OPS+. He actually appeared in more games in the outfield (366) than at pitcher (340). He also played first base 13 times and second nine times.

Red Ruffing: Not your typical Hall of Famer, Red Ruffing posted a 273-225 record in 22 years. His ERA of 3.80 gives him an ERA+ of 110. He didn’t have much of a peak, maxing out his pitching WAR at 6.3 en route to a career total of 53.6. Compare him to Tommy John, who went 288-231 over 26 years with an ERA of 3.34 (111 ERA+) and 59.0 WAR (career high of 5.7). Where they differ is that special little extra Ruffing provided at the plate. He turned a .269/.306/.389 line (81 OPS+) and 36 homers into another 13.7 WAR. That gave him a total of 67.3. John, if you’re wondering, was worth -2.0 WAR at the plate.

Monte Ward: John Montgomery Ward is the only player in history with 25 WAR as a position player and 25 WAR as a pitcher. He is also one of the most interesting figures in baseball history. He was a Columbia Law School graduate. He started the first player’s union—and then formed the Player’s League. He literally wrote the book on how to be a baseball player. He could hit, run, play a mean shortstop, and pitch. Like Ruth, his pitching career was over with the end of his age 24 season. He had accumulated 25.4 WAR in nearly 2500 innings already, but an injury forced him to become a position player. In fact, while his arm healed, he taught himself to throw left-handed so he could play center field. Once his arm was healed, he became an exceptional shortstop. In all, he played 826 games at short, 493 at second, 214 in the outfield, and 46 at third while accumulating 39.5 WAR (for a total of 64.9).

Wes Ferrell: Because of the era in which he played, Wes Ferrell holds the highest career ERA (4.04) for any pitcher with an ERA+ of 115 or better and 1000 or more innings—and that includes “steroid era” pitchers. For example, in 1936 Ferrell went 20–15 with a 4.19 ERA. But the league was busy posting a 5.04 ERA, so Ferrell’s mark actually gave him an ERA+ of 128. Ferrell was hurt by his era even more than a guy like Andy Pettitte. Pettitte owns a 3.88 career ERA to Ferrell’s 4.04, but both have an ERA+ of 117. Ferrell brought another demention to his game, and that dimension involved hitting the baseball hard. He clubbed 38 home runs to go along with a .280/.351/.446 batting line. That gave him an OPS+ of 100. Think about that. In the most offense-heavy era in history, a pitcher posted a league average batting line for his career. That was worth 12.0 wins, giving him a total of 53.3.

Jack Stivetts: Stivetts was a star hurler in the American Association, spending three seasons in the league and compiling 22.9 of his 42.5 career pitching WAR. He didn’t have the same success in the National League, but he was still a valuable pitcher, averaging about four WAR per season in his first five NL seasons. His career was over at age 31 with 203 wins, 132 losses, and a 3.74 ERA (for a 120 ERA+). What makes him more interesting is his power hitting line. He hit .298/.344/.439 in 2148 plate appearances for an OPS+ of 106. He accented those numbers with 35 homers and 46 triples. His 10.5 WAR as a hitter brings his total to 53.0 WAR.

Dave Foutz: From 1884 to 1891, Foutz was a teammate of Bob Caruthers with St. Louis and Brooklyn. Foutz did the majority of his pitching during his St. Louis years, compiling 1458 of his 1997 innings and 25.4 of his 30.0 career pitching WAR in those four seasons. In 1886, Foutz was worth 12.3 WAR on the mound while Caruthers was worth 9.6. Caruthers was also worth 4.3 at the plate while Foutz brought in 1.4. The team, needless to say, was impressive (going 93–46). Overall, Foutz won 218 and lost 99 for a gaudy .688 winning percentage. That went along with a 2.83 ERA and 123 ERA+. Foutz actually played far more in the field than on the mound, playing 596 times at first, 320 times in the outfield, and 251 times on the mound. He hit .276/.323/.378 for an OPS+ of 102. He was worth 18.1 WAR at the plate and 30.0 on the mound, totaling 48.1.

Mike Smith: Smith, also listed as “Elmer Smith”, was a very unique player in that he’s just one of five on this list with 15+ WAR in both columns. He started his career as a teenage pitcher with Cincinnati in the American Association in the late 1880s. After a nine-game stint in 1886, he posted 11.3 WAR on the mound in 1887. He followed that up with a 6.0 WAR season in 1888 and a -0.6 WAR season with an arm injury in 1889. After missing two seasons, he re-emerged as a power hitting left fielder for Pittsburgh. At the plate, he hit .310/.398/.434 for a 126 OPS+ over 5422 plate appearances (including a pair of 6+ WAR seasons). He totaled 31.6 WAR at the plate and 15.4 on the mound (with final numbers of 75-57, 3.35 ERA, 113 ERA+ in 1210 innings), giving him 47.0 WAR overall.

George Uhle: After three 19th century players, we get back to the 20th century with Uhle. Uhle, a pioneer of the slider, pitched 17 seasons and went 200-166 with a 3.99 ERA (106 ERA+). The three-time 20-game winner earned 34.5 WAR for his performance on the hill. Uhle is a bit unique from most pitchers on this list, as he never played anywhere other than pitcher. He was frequently used as a pinch hitter and accrued 11.3 WAR at the plate thanks to a .289/.339/.384 (86 OPS+) line. He total value overall was 45.8 WAR.

Some other two-way players who don’t quite fit the above criteria include Jim Whitney (35.9 as pitcher, 9.1 as hitter, 45.0 overall), Don Newcombe (29.7 as pitcher, 9.0 as hitter, 38.7 overall), George Mullin (26.3 as pitcher, 11.7 as hitter, 38.0 overall), Smokey Joe Wood (26.2 as pitcher, 9.3 as hitter, 35.5 overall), and Nixey Callahan (11.0 as pitcher, 10.8 as hitter, 21.8 overall). Looking at only modern pitchers, Mike Hampton (20.8 as pitcher, 7.3 as hitter, 28.1 overall), Carlos Zambrano (31.8 as pitcher, 5.3 as hitter, 37.1 overall), Tom Glavine (67.0 as pitcher, 4.6 as hitter, 71.6 overall), and Dontrelle Willis (13.0 as pitcher, 4.3 as hitter, 17.3 overall) come the closest.