The Pyramid Rating System: The Results

No surprise: Barry Bonds ranks near the top of the Pyramid Ratings System. (via Kevin Rushforth)

No surprise: Barry Bonds ranks near the top of the Pyramid Ratings System. (via Kevin Rushforth)

It’s been awhile since my first article back in August, and in that time I’ve been hard at work refining my ranking system. I’ve adjusted the way offensive production is evaluated, readjusted my position requirements and have also included the 2015 season into my overall rankings. I’ve also been working on a few other surprises, which I hope to delve into in future articles, but for now, on to the results.

As mentioned in the first article, players were evaluated on a season-by-season basis, with each season being rated on a 20-80 scale that reflects the commonly accepted scale used by MLB scouts. One question I don’t feel gets asked often enough by rating systems developers is how much correlation exists between the player rating and overall team success.

Below is a scatter graph of each major league season — starting in 1901 — and the odds that a player’s team won the pennant. Partial and combined seasons were removed, as well as the entire 1994 season.

paul m 1

As you can see, there does appear to be a pretty strong — almost linear — correlation between a player’s overall rating and the odds his team will reach the World Series, right up until the highest rating of 80. If a player has a rating of 80, the chance his team will reach the World Series is 25 percent, which is seven percent higher than any other rating. What I believe this suggests is major league baseball might be a bit more like the NBA than people think, where one player can have a significant impact on a team’s odds of winning, provided that player is one of the one or two best players in the game.

As it relates to evaluating players all time, the fundamental question we have to ask is: What are we looking for? The answer to this question in my opinion is: Who are the players who most help you win the World Series? The above graph would suggest an increased value attached to peak dominance over career longevity, which the Pyramid Rating System captures.

This approach is very different from asking who is the most talented. The most talented player to me would suggest the skill set that goes into making a great major leaguer is always static. One look at the major league record books will tell you the records set tend to be as much a product of the era as they are of the player.

The PRS defines who is the most valuable, which is decided as much by the era as it is by the player’s ability. A catcher with a great arm in the 1950s will not have as much value as one in the 1980s simply because there were more bases being stolen in the ’80s than there were in the ’50s.

This is reflected in other ways as well.

paul m 2

Looking at the MLB league leader in range factor for shortstops, we can see a very clear downward trend over time. Andrelton Simmons gets about two fewer chances per game than Dave Bancroft did. As you would expect, pre-WWII-era shortstops rate much higher defensively than their modern counterparts do. In fact, of the top ten greatest defensive seasons in history according to the Pyramid Rating System, nine of them are middle infielders from before WWII. Only Mark Belanger’s 1975 season cracked the top ten.

This graph gets right to the heart of talent versus value. Was Bancroft a better defensive player than Simmons? It’s tough to say. Both were/are arguably the best in their respective eras, so the question of who was more dominant relative to his counterparts also must be asked. In terms of who was more valuable, to me there is no doubt Bancroft’s defensive ability had far more of an effect on the Giants success than Simmons’ defensive ability had on the Braves, and it is simply because Bancroft had more balls hit to him than Simmons did. This is the lens by which players should be looked at all time. When you try to adjust for era and neutralize stats, I feel you turn players into something they never were.

I’ve created my own Hall of Fame based on these PRS results. The rules were very simple. A five-year waiting period requirement still was in place, and three players were inducted in even years, two in odd years. I also passed no judgment on players like Pete Rose or Joe Jackson. Whether the two should be inducted is up for endless debate. I have simply included the two as an illustration of the talent needed to get into the Hall of Fame. The only thing I will say on the subject is that the inclusion of Cap Anson — who bet on numerous games throughout his career, as well as being instrumental in the establishment of the “gentleman’s agreement” to keep black players out of the game — shows the only thing the Hall of Fame respects more than the integrity of the game is the grandfather clause.

Below is a graph showing the percentage of active players in the league who would later go on to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

paul m 3

Unlike the real Hall of Fame, in my hall of fame the percentage of players who would go on to be inducted rarely drops below four percent and rarely rises above six percent, which demonstrates a lack of basis toward or against any era. Each era is proportionally represented, both in who is inducted in the Hall as well as the overall rankings themselves. Some of the more modern inductees may lead to some head scratching, but the idea of Curt Schilling being considered a borderline HOFer to me is a demonstration of just how stingy voters have become in recent years rather than an actual reflection of his talent.

In closing, what’s most important is to treat these rankings more as estimates than absolutes. The difference between the 190th-ranked player (Cole Hamels) and the 215th-ranked player (Jimmy Key) is almost non-existent. Assuming these two players played at the same time, a trade of one for the other wouldn’t have a significant impact on either team’s long-term win-loss record. If the rankings were absolute, it may not be possible for a bad team ever to beat a good one. This type of uncertainty always must be taken into account when looking at results like this. It’s the uncertainty that makes playing the games worthwhile.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

The other thing to stress is how much respect and admiration I have for the players even in the 400s. Even at that level, we’re still talking about guys who were better than 98 percent of the players ever to play the game at the major league level. Just because I have Player X ranked ahead of them does not mean I can’t also appreciate the amount of skill and talent these players had. The further down this list you go, the more blurred the difference between players becomes, and those rankings are far more fascinating than what is at the top.

Name Pos Pri Overall Off Def
Babe Ruth    CO RF   1    1  787
Barry Bonds    LF LF   2    2  141
Willie Mays    CF CF   3    6   66
Roger Clemens     P  P   4 5857     
Ty Cobb    OF CF   5    3 1257
Rogers Hornsby    MI 2B   6    4   57
Ted Williams    LF LF   7    5 1955
Walter Johnson     P  P   8 1758     
Honus Wagner    SS SS   9    8   41
Randy Johnson     P  P  10 7680     
Alex Rodriguez SS/3B SS  11   11  115
Stan Musial OF/1B 1B  12    9  864
Mike Schmidt    3B 3B  13   19   72
Tris Speaker    CF CF  14   12  400
Lefty Grove     P  P  15 6143     
Mickey Mantle CF/1B CF  16   10  968
Albert Pujols 1B/LF 1B  17   18  483
Lou Gehrig    1B 1B  18    7 1808
Hank Aaron    RF RF  19   14  439
Eddie Collins    2B 2B  20   15  140
Cy Young     P  P  21 3362     
Greg Maddux     P  P  22 4269     
Rickey Henderson    OF LF  23   28  222
Pedro Martinez     P  P  24 8344     
Joe Morgan    2B 2B  25   16  313
Wade Boggs    3B 3B  26   32  178
Nap Lajoie 2B/1B 2B  27   22  116
Jimmie Foxx    1B 1B  28   17 1436
Cal Ripken SS/3B SS  29   39    5
Dan Brouthers    1B 1B  30   13  811
Roger Connor    1B 1B  31   27  233
Pete Alexander     P  P  32 3365     
Mel Ott    RF RF  33   21  902
Cap Anson    1B 1B  34   23  269
Roy Halladay     P  P  35 7992     
Ken Griffey    CF CF  36   36  182
George Brett    CI 3B  37   33  255
Robin Roberts     P  P  38 2856     
Ross Barnes    MI 2B  39   75  196
Clayton Kershaw     P  P  40 4199     
Eddie Mathews    3B 3B  41   20  349
Curt Schilling     P  P  42 6842     
Joe DiMaggio    CF CF  43   38  524
Tom Seaver     P  P  44 3788     
Bert Blyleven     P  P  45 6754     
Roberto Clemente    RF RF  46   72  164
Frank Robinson CO/1B RF  47   26 1209
Ron Santo    3B 3B  48   54  194
Ed Delahanty OF/1B LF  49   24 1552
Mike Mussina     P  P  50          
Johnny Mize    1B 1B  51   35 2515
Mariano Rivera     P  P  52          
Christy Mathewson     P  P  53 3064     
Warren Spahn     P  P  54 2338     
Phil Niekro     P  P  55 5070     
Adrian Beltre    3B 3B  56   91   29
Gaylord Perry     P  P  57 5695     
Jack Glasscock    SS SS  58  112   22
Jeff Bagwell    1B 1B  59   45 1714
Carl Yastrzemski LF/1B LF  60   63  259
Arky Vaughan SS/3B SS  61   40  130
Steve Carlton     P  P  62 3286     
Bob Gibson     P  P  63 2623     
Rod Carew 1B/2B 1B  64   46  613
Bob Feller     P  P  65 4642     
Jackie Robinson    IF 2B  66   65   86
Kevin Brown     P  P  67 5784     
Johan Santana     P  P  68 5709     
Chase Utley    2B 2B  69  161  102
Ernie Banks 1B/SS 1B  70   64  142
Mike Trout    OF CF  71   29 1049
Shoeless Joe Jackson    OF LF  72   34 2198
Gary Carter     C  C  73  119   25
Robinson Cano    2B 2B  74   81  248
Dave Stieb     P  P  75          
Ed Walsh     P  P  76 4098     
Kid Nichols     P  P  77 3798     
Ryne Sandberg    2B 2B  78   51  163
Johnny Bench     C  C  79   98   71
Jim Bunning     P  P  80 4339     
Duke Snider    OF CF  81   47  728
Lou Boudreau    SS SS  82  107   16
Bobby Grich    2B 2B  83   84  136
Frank Thomas    1B 1B  84   31 4339
Charlie Gehringer    2B 2B  85   55   99
Chipper Jones 3B/LF 3B  86   44  725
George Davis    UT SS  87   89   26
Al Kaline    OF RF  88  101  234
Pete Rose    UT 1B  89   57  504
Brooks Robinson    3B 3B  90  245    9
Robin Yount SS/CF SS  91   43  125
David Cone     P  P  92 4922     
Andruw Jones    CF CF  93  326   11
Alan Trammell    SS SS  94  103   50
Reggie Jackson    RF RF  95   52 1084
George Sisler    1B 1B  96   71 1316
Wilbur Wood     P  P  97 8056     
Sandy Koufax     P  P  98 5869     
Home Run Baker    3B 3B  99   49  221
Billy Hamilton    OF CF 100   53 2030

Year Name Year Name Year Name Year Name
1936 Ty Cobb 1956 Joe Gordon 1976 Joe Kelley 1997 Dwight Evans
1936 Walter Johnson 1956 Bill Terry 1977 Ernie Banks 1997 Rick Reuschel
1936 Honus Wagner 1957 Jesse Burkett 1977 Jim Bunning 1998 Bert Blyleven
1937 Eddie Collins 1957 Joe DiMaggio 1978 Roberto Clemente 1998 Gary Carter
1937 Tris Speaker 1958 Lou Boudreau 1978 Zack Wheat 1998 Jose Cruz
1938 Dan Brouthers 1958 Sherry Magee 1978 Hoyt Wilhelm 1999 George Brett
1938 Nap Lajoie 1958 George Wright 1979 Yogi Berra 1999 Robin Yount
1938 Cy Young 1959 Johnny Mize 1979 Willie Mays 2000 Rich Gossage
1939 Pete Alexander 1959 Bobby Veach 1980 Dave Bancroft 2000 Dale Murphy
1939 Roger Connor 1960 Art Fletcher 1980 Al Kaline 2000 Nolan Ryan
1940 Cap Anson 1960 Paul Hines 1980 Ron Santo 2001 Kirby Puckett
1940 Ross Barnes 1960 Dutch Leonard 1981 Bob Gibson 2001 Lou Whitaker
1940 Ed Delahanty 1961 Ralph Kiner 1981 Juan Marichal 2002 Andre Dawson
1941 Christy Mathewson 1961 Hal Newhouser 1982 Hank Aaron 2002 Ozzie Smith
1941 Babe Ruth 1962 Bob Feller 1982 Frank Robinson 2002 Alan Trammell
1942 Jack Glasscock 1962 Bobo Newsom 1982 Billy Williams 2003 Ryne Sandberg
1942 Shoeless Joe Jackson 1962 Jackie Robinson 1983 Dick Allen 2003 Frank Viola
1942 Ed Walsh 1963 Eddie Plank 1983 Brooks Robinson 2004 Paul Molitor
1943 Rogers Hornsby 1963 Joe Sewell 1984 Vada Pinson 2004 Eddie Murray
1943 Kid Nichols 1964 Fred Clarke 1984 Wilbur Wood 2004 Dave Stieb
1944 Home Run Baker 1964 Ted Lyons 1984 Jim Wynn 2005 Wade Boggs
1944 George Davis 1964 Pee Wee Reese 1985 Willie Davis 2005 Mark Langston
1944 George Sisler 1965 Larry Doby 1985 Harmon Killebrew 2006 Dennis Eckersley
1945 Lou Gehrig 1965 Vic Willis 1986 Jim Fregosi 2006 Carlton Fisk
1945 Billy Hamilton 1966 Jimmy Collins 1986 Willie McCovey 2006 Jimmy Key
1946 Stan Coveleski 1966 John McGraw 1986 Minnie Minoso 2007 Cal Ripken
1946 Harry Heilmann 1966 Ted Williams 1987 Sal Bando 2007 Bret Saberhagen
1946 Dazzy Vance 1967 Willie Keeler 1987 Bobby Bonds 2008 Tony Gwynn
1947 Goose Goslin 1967 Joe Medwick 1988 Reggie Smith 2008 Mark McGwire
1947 Lefty Grove 1968 Richie Ashburn 1988 Luis Tiant 2008 Tim Raines
1948 Sam Crawford 1968 King Kelly 1988 Roy White 2009 David Cone
1948 Wes Ferrell 1968 Rube Waddell 1989 Gaylord Perry 2009 Rickey Henderson
1948 Charlie Gehringer 1969 Stan Musial 1989 Carl Yastrzemski 2010 Roberto Alomar
1949 Bill Dahlen 1969 Bucky Walters 1990 Johnny Bench 2010 Barry Larkin
1949 Bobby Wallace 1970 Charlie Keller 1990 Fergie Jenkins 2010 Edgar Martinez
1950 John Clarkson 1970 Billy Pierce 1990 Joe Morgan 2011 Jeff Bagwell
1950 Hughie Jennings 1970 Duke Snider 1991 Rod Carew 2011 Kevin Brown
1950 Al Simmons 1971 Cupid Childs 1991 Jim Palmer 2012 Kevin Appier
1951 Joe Cronin 1971 Warren Spahn 1992 Bobby Grich 2012 Rafael Palmeiro
1951 Jimmie Foxx 1972 Sandy Koufax 1992 Pete Rose 2012 Larry Walker
1952 Frankie Frisch 1972 Robin Roberts 1992 Tom Seaver 2013 Barry Bonds
1952 Carl Hubbell 1972 Urban Shocker 1993 Reggie Jackson 2013 Roger Clemens
1952 Paul Waner 1973 Pete Browning 1993 Phil Niekro 2014 Greg Maddux
1953 Hank Greenberg 1973 Nellie Fox 1994 Steve Carlton 2014 Mike Mussina
1953 Mel Ott 1974 Bob Johnson 1994 Cesar Cedeno 2014 Curt Schilling
1954 Elmer Flick 1974 Mickey Mantle 1994 Graig Nettles 2015 Randy Johnson
1954 Amos Rusie 1974 Eddie Mathews 1995 Buddy Bell 2015 Pedro Martinez
1954 Arky Vaughan 1975 Ken Boyer 1995 Mike Schmidt 2016 Ken Griffey
1955 Joe McGinnity 1975 Don Drysdale 1996 Ron Cey 2016 John Smoltz
1955 Deacon White 1976 Earl Averill 1996 Keith Hernandez 2016 Frank Thomas
1956 Luke Appling 1976 Heinie Groh 1996 Chet Lemon     

References & Resources

Paul Moehringer is a data analyst, a SABR member and inventor of the Pyramid Rating System; originally from Mount Olive, NJ, now living in Westwood, MA. Follow him on Twitter @PMoehringer.
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6 years ago

Kevin Appier had a much better career than I realized. Still wouldn’t call him a hall of famer, but he isn’t as underserving as I felt he was when I first saw him on this list

Paul Moehringer
6 years ago
Reply to  agam22

Appier was a real surprise for me as well. From 1990-1997, Appier’s ERA+ was 140. As far as guys who I would argue for the Hall he would not be the first on the list, but like you said he’s got a much better case than most people give him credit for.

The bigger point in my view is that nobody has been more screwed over in recent years by stingy voters than modern day starting pitchers.

I think guys like David Cone and Dave Stieb actually do have pretty strong HOF cases. But when we’re throwing guys like Kevin Brown off the ballot after one vote, and looking at pitchers like Curt Schilling who was top ten in ERA nine times in his career as being borderline, someone like Cone doesn’t even stand a chance.

Voters keep debating and the glut of deserving inductees keeps growing.

Jason B
6 years ago

Coming in at #100 on the All-Time list: Billy Hamilton*!

*not THAT Billy Hamilton.

6 years ago
Reply to  Jason B

Sliding in at #100?

Jason B
6 years ago

Also the early 70’s would be a banner time for HOF names under this new system: Cupid Childs AND Urban Shocker!

6 years ago

Not many catchers in this hall of fame. Does your system penalize catchers for lack of ABs?

The pitcher ranking column appears to be missing from your top 100 list.

Also, since the hall of fame election is data driven, you should be able to determine the winners of the 2017-2021 elections. Curious who they would include (would Jeter, Piazza and Jim Edmonds make it?).

6 years ago

Your system does find some overlooked players – ie Reggie Smith and his 137 OPS+ and 54.5 bWAR, it does seem to include many similar “very good but not great” players. Cesar Cedeno w a OPS+ of 123 w 52.9 bWAR; Jose Cruz w a OPS+ of 120 and a total of 54.2 bWAR; Ron Cey and his 121 OPS+ and 53.5 bWAR; Chet Lemon w a 121 OPS+ and 55.5 bWAR; Sal Bando w a OPS+ of 119 and 61.4 bWAR; Roy White and his 121 OPS+ and 46.7 bWAR as well as a player line Heinie Groh w a 118 OPS+ and 48.2 bWAR.

Too few All Star games amongst them and too few “great” players.

Bob B.
6 years ago

Interesting. I’ll have to take the time and read through in detail (as opposed to skimming the explanation the first time… ) The name I was most surprised by? Bobo Newsom!

6 years ago

Why No Tom Glavine

Paul Moehringer
6 years ago

Yet me just say that I think most all of these comments are pretty solid.

With regards to the Hall picks I have, I would say don’t necessarily look at it as a validation or a lack of validation of a player’s great. If I was the be all end all voice of the Hall, this is not how I would have it set up. The idea was more to show the type of players that would be elected if the HOF tried to represent each era relatively equally (which I think they should do) rather than who the players would be themselves.

Guys like Ron Cey, Reggie Smith, Jose Cruz and Bobo Newsom are right on the border. All of these guys are in the low-mid 200’s. There’s guys like Dennis Martinez, Willie Randolph, Dave Winfield and Fred McGriff who are right there with them and didn’t get in simply because of modern competition surrounding them. Same issue with Tom Glavine who at 124 is better than some first ballot guys I have listed. If I did the HOF for next year as well, Glavine would be in. Similar issue with guys like Mike Piazza, Jim Edmonds and Manny Ramirez. The modern competition had far more to do with them not getting in than their actual ability.

What this list is really about is identifying the players that can really help you win a World Series. Someone like Bobo Newsom would most likely not be the best player on a World Series winning team. But if he’s your third or fourth best player and the year we’re talking about is in the mid-late 1930’s or 1940 without even knowing who the players are I can you with relative certainty that’s going to be a pretty loaded roster.

If you look at the World Series teams throughout history and match it to my list, you’ll find most every team to win it has at least 2-3 HOFers on them, sometimes 4. Not including any year after 2001, the only teams to win a World Series without the benefit of at least one HOFer listed are the 1907/08 Chicago Cubs, the 1914 Boston Braves, the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers. To be fair it holds true for the real HOF as well, but there’s no year in my system where a team has nine HOFers on the roster. But the 1932 Yankees do. (Combs, Dickey, Gehrig, Gomez, Lazzeri, Pennock, Ruffing, Ruth and Sewell) While the Detroit Tigers a team that won 104 games in the regular season as well as the World Series is still sitting at a goose egg for the number of HOF players in. I don’t even think its possible to win that many games in a season without the benefit of at least two HOFers on your roster and that’s where Chet Lemon, Allan Trammell and Lou Whitaker come in. You could easily swap out Lemon for Darrell Evans on that list, or even include Evans as well. Point is if the HOF keeps going at the rate they are with inductions, you’re going to get more and more of those teams. Even the ’98 with 114 wins still don’t have a single member in the Hall. That will almost certainly change when Jeter and Mariano come up for induction and they would be inducted in my system as well. But Tim Raines and David Cone are already in under my system and I don’t think either one is that controversial of a pick unless your standard relative to who has historically gotten in is insanely high, which I think is exactly what’s happening right now.

One of the toughest things to figure with this is where to draw that line. Mine is probably a lot higher than most, but there’s also fewer guys in my Hall of Fame than there are in the real one, so even as low as it might be in some people’s eyes I still would argue my standards are actually higher than the real one. Where the line should actually be drawn I think depends a lot on how you view the Hall of Fame. I have no problem with someone saying they don’t think Reggie Smith should be, because if I was going to pull people from this list he would be one of my first choices to go to. But regardless of where that line is drawn, the main thing I think is to be consistent and if nothing else the Pyramid Rating does that.

6 years ago

Hi Paul,

Was continuing to think about your article and the rating system you describe. That alone makes one think it was a great and very useful article. I believe that OPS+ has about a 10 point standard deviation in any given year. Given that the top 5% of players that you seek would equate to a 2 standard deviation in value, this would equate (ignoring base running and defense) to an OPS+ of about 20 points. I believe that this is why so many of the batters have an OPS+ of about 120.

6 years ago

Some questions:

Is the basis for your rankings Baseball-Reference WAR?
A number of other versions of WAR exist that offer different and potentially better insights, are these part of your conclusions?
Wilbur Wood and Sal Bando do quite well with B-R War, but are short or well-short of hall standards by others.

Are only 2 catchers part of the 161 best players of all-time?
If you were starting a franchise, would Yogi Berra really be the 287th player you would select?

Deacon White, George Wright, Paul Hines, Fred Clarke, Jim O’Rourke, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe (419!) were 19th century standout baseball players that are listed as borderline or well short of induction, do you have a timelining adjustment, meaning a pennant is less valuable in that time era than the present, or adjust for length of player seasons?

Do you award players war, major league equivalency, or integration credit? Ted Williams donated almost 5 years of his life to the war effort, does he get a credit at some level of performance for serving the country, and how would you allocate this?

Intriguing ranking system, with massive emphasis on peak over career, it’s shocking to see Clayton Kershaw up at #40 but he has been quite dominant.

Do you have a yearly valuation spreadsheet to share with others?

Thanks for the hardwork, we all learn by new research 🙂

Paul Moehringer
6 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

With regards to WAR it is based off baseball-reference. I don’t really have a reason for why I chose that over another system beyond any reason other than it was the most accessible data I could find. Can the system be replicated using another variation of WAR? Absolutely and its one of the reasons I would say these rankings are estimates not absolutes, because this system is only going to be as accurate as that stat is.

With regards to Berra and other catchers I will agree, again I would go back to the concept of value versus talent. Do I think the difference in talent between Berra and Gary Carter was really that great? No. But compare the number of bases being stolen in Berra’s era versus Carter. Gary threw out more than double the runners Berra did and its not because Carter had that much better arm than Berra. Teams were just running more and that gets factored in. Had Berra been born 20 years later and came up in the 70’s, there’s no doubt he would have been much higher, possibly even in the top 100. Era differences can matter that much.

Berra’s ranking is pretty much equal to that of Nellie Fox and given an option between who I would want on my team between the two I would say its pretty much a pick’em. For Berra to get in the top 100 though, he has to be in the same ballpark as someone like Frank Robinson who’s at 82. Berra was top ten in OPS five times in his career, Robinson was 16 times. Defensively Berra was a much better and more valuable player than Robinson in that regard, but it would almost have to be like comparing Ozzie Smith to Adam Dunn for Berra to close that gap. But again put both Berra and Fox in the 1970’s where Fox isn’t getting as many groundballs and Berra is tasked with throwing out a lot more runners and its different story.

With Williams and other WWII players, no they did not get credit for missed seasons, because its a value based system and a player who doesn’t play at all has no value regardless of how good they might be if they got a chance. Same thing with negro league players. My system assumes that someone like Josh Gibson never existed. Does that mean that I don’t view guys like Martin Dihigo and Satchel Paige as deserving HOFers? No.

As far era adjustments go, I would say to read the first article I wrote and you’ll see how its basically built in. As it is with players in the 1800’s, if you go to 1883 there’s four players who were active that year that are in the top 100. There were only 258 players in the league. You might be able to argue there should be another player or two from that year in the top 100, but I don’t think you can justify putting more from that era in without also saying the players who played back then were just inherently better than the players that came after.

As far as season length being an issue, I would just point to Ross Barnes at #39.

I have a spresheet that breaks it down on a yearly basis and the only reason it wasn’t included in the article was because of size issues (59KB) although I’m happy to e-mail it to people individually.

6 years ago

The value of Berra vs Carter is more to do with their contemporaries. From 1948 to 1962 the average catch in baseball hit something like 240 with 8 HRs and 45 RBIs. Berra and his .285 BA w 27 HR and 109 RBIs gave the Yankees a HUGE advantage in the catching position compared to Carter’s contribution over Bench, Fisk, Munson, Simmons, etc.

Paul Moehringer
6 years ago
Reply to  Carl

If you looked at the difference in production between the first and second best player at every position and measured that out, I would say in roughly half the years the position with the greatest difference be between the first and second best player would be catcher. Chief Myers in 1913, Ernie Lombardi in 1942, Johnny Bench in 1969, Joe Mauer in 2009. Even Buster Posey from last year was significantly better than any other catcher in baseball.

But in terms of how catchers compare to other positions, that type of comparison doesn’t tell you anything. I may not be able to counter Yogi Berra with another catcher, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make up that difference another way. How easy or difficult that is to do also depends on how much the position actually matters, which is also not accounted for with these types of position on positions comparisons. If more bases are being stolen in year X than in year Y, there’s going to be a higher correlation between catcher arm strength and wins in year X than in year Y, unless there’s unaccounted factor involved that’s countering it in some way.

If the value placed on catcher arm strength is going up, something else has to be coming down and I’ve found that to be much more difficult to define because its not a one for one trade.

Bill Rubinstein
6 years ago

Why was Babe Ruth only elected in 1942, not 1936. I don’t get it.

Paul Moehringer
6 years ago

Five year waiting period.

Jeff Walzer
6 years ago

Funny how the three players of the four players of our era – Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez (minus Randy Johnson) – were all steroid users. Love to see charts for those three players compared to other HOFers to see how much of an outlier their stats were from ages 32 and up (or whatever the agreed upon age of is when one’s talent starts to break down and therefore a drop in number should occur).

Great article with solid explanations and details.