One of the things some sports fans may contend is just as good — or potentially even better — than the game itself are the endless debates that come with it. This is prevalent in baseball, which is a sport that’s very rich in history while also constantly celebrating the game’s past players/milestones.
Probably the most common debate baseball fans discuss include who should be considered each MLB team’s greatest all-time player. There are plenty of different ways to answer something like this, but we like to use stats here as a basis for just about everything.
Although Wins Above Replacement isn’t a perfect statistic, it allows us to compare the production and longevity of players from different eras. When using FanGraphs’ version of WAR (also known as fWAR), the below 30 players own the distinction of being the best player to ever don their respective team’s uniform.
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Randy Johnson||54.9|
|Atlanta Braves||Hank Aaron||136.0|
|Baltimore Orioles||Cal Ripken Jr.||92.5|
|Boston Red Sox||Ted Williams||130.4|
|Chicago Cubs||Cap Anson||81.8|
|Chicago White Sox||Luke Appling||72.7|
|Cincinnati Reds||Pete Rose||76.2|
|Cleveland Indians||Nap Lajoie||74.9|
|Colorado Rockies||Todd Helton||54.8|
|Detroit Tigers||Ty Cobb||143.4|
|Houston Astros||Jeff Bagwell||80.2|
|Kansas City Royals||George Brett||84.6|
|Los Angeles Angels||Mike Trout||54.4|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Don Sutton||64.4|
|Miami Marlins||Giancarlo Stanton||34.1|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Robin Yount||66.5|
|Minnesota Twins||Walter Johnson||117.1|
|New York Mets||Tom Seaver||68.0|
|New York Yankees||Babe Ruth||149.9|
|Oakland Athletics||Rickey Henderson||68.6|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Mike Schmidt||106.5|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Honus Wagner||127.2|
|San Diego Padres||Tony Gwynn||65.0|
|San Francisco Giants||Willie Mays||147.8|
|Seattle Mariners||Ken Griffey Jr.||67.6|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Stan Musial||126.8|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Evan Longoria||49.6|
|Texas Rangers||Ivan Rodriguez||49.6|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Roy Halladay||48.9|
|Washington Nationals||Gary Carter||53.8|
Two Sides of the Spectrum
Mike Trout is one of three active players appearing on the above list — with Stanton and Longoria being the others — but there are a couple of things that distinguish him from the rest.
First of all, he’s Mike Trout, but he also has the highest fWAR of the trio in the fewest number of games played (925). Not too shabby for a 26-year-old outfielder with just six full years in the big leagues under his belt. The only player in Los Angeles’ top 10 with fewer games played than Trout is Troy Glaus, who ranks 10th with 20.1 fWAR in 827 games played.
It’s like that Trout guy is on a Hall of Fame track or something.
It’s even more interesting to compare him to that of Stan Musial — sure, Trout has a ways to go if he wants to match Stan The Man’s mark of 126.8 fWAR, but he also played in a whopping 3,026 games during his career, which is tied with Eddie Murphy for the sixth-most all time. When we’re looking at St. Louis players in particular, Lou Brock is the one guy in the top 10 that’s closest to him — his 2,289 games played is also the only one within this group that’s above the 2,000-game plateau.
This is clearly a testament of Musial’s longevity, but this is a fun exercise because we can see two players from different eras and in very different stages of their career on the same list.
Not All About the Bats
When looking up and down the above table, it’s clear that position players are dominating most of the available spots. That didn’t prevent Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson, Don Sutton, and Tom Seaver from breaking that stereotype, though.
This quintet of hurlers share 10 Cy Young awards and 2 MVP awards, while four of the five are Hall of Famers. The one that isn’t — the late Roy Halladay — seemingly has a decent chance of being enshrined with the rest of these pitchers in Cooperstown next year, which would be his first time on the ballot.
0 to 100 Real Quick…3 Times
Accumulating an fWAR greater than 100 is an incredible and rare feat. After all, there only 28 ballplayers (20 position players, 8 pitchers) who have surpassed this mark if we’re looking at overall careers. To reach that number with a single team, though, is also awesome.
When we’re talking about having multiple position players reach that benchmark in a respective team’s history, the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees are a cut above the rest.
As for the Yankees, Ruth is joined by a couple guys you might’ve heard of — Lou Gehrig (116.3) and Mickey Mantle (112.3). The gap between these three and the position player in fourth place isn’t as drastic as San Francisco — Joe DiMaggio is the next man up with 83.1 fWAR.
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About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at FanDuel Insider, numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s a lover of all baseball, especially the Mets.