The Baseball 250: Part 6 (125-101)

For information about how this list was compiled please read part 1 of this series. This section is for players ranked 125-101.125-101

125: Eddie Plank– Plank won 326 games during his seventeen year career. Hall of Famer Eddie Collins said about him, “Eddie Plank was not the fastest, not the trickiest and not the possessor of the most stuff; he was just the greatest.”

124: Mule Suttles– Suttles was a power hitting star of the Negro Leagues who was known for his kind demeanor, and using a 50-ounce bat. Statistics from the Negro Leagues are incomplete and can conflict at times, but writer and researcher John Holway credits Suttles with hitting the most home runs in NLB history.

123: Mariano Rivera– Few athletes in any sport can be definitively be called the best ever at their position, Rivera is one of those people. He is the all time leader in saves (652), games finished (952), and ERA+ (205). He was a 13 time All-Star, and five time World Series champion. In 141 postseason innings he posted an ERA of 0.70 and a WHIP of 0.759.  He threw the cutter almost exclusively.

122: Larry Walker– Often overlooked because of the home field advantage he received playing at Coors Field, Walker finished his career with an OPS+ 141 and a bWAR of 72.6. Both of those numbers are adjusted for era and park factors. He won the NL MVP in 1997, and is also a member of the .300/.400/.500 club.

121: Minnie Miñoso– Minoso was a star in Cuba, Mexico, and the Negro Leagues long before his Major League career began. Once he was given the opportunity to play in MLB regularly he quickly became one of the league’s best players. He had speed, power, and the ability to get on base. Because of a series of publicity stunts, Minoso’s MLB career spanned five decades. Christina Kahrl wrote this excellent piece on him a few years ago.

120: Manny Ramirez– A twelve time All-Star, two time World Series champion, World Series MVP, a member of the .300/.400/.500 club, 555 career home runs, and two failed drug tests and subsequent suspensions for steroid use. The New York Times reported Manny also failed MLB’s initial survey test for steroids in 2003.

119: Cool Papa Bell– Known for his exceptional speed and defense, Bell was a standout in the Negro, Mexican, and Cuban Leagues. He was a member of some of the greatest Negro League teams ever assembled including the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords which featured five future Hall of Famers; Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Judy Johnson, and Bell himself.

118: Lou Boudreau– An above average hitter and defender Boudreau was a seven time All-Star, he won AL MVP in 1948, and was a player/manager for the World Series winning Indians that year. The defensive shift has been around for a 100 years or so but Boudreau is widely credited with popularizing it, he frequently shifted his infield against Red Sox great Ted Williams.

117: Mark McGwire– Very few people are legitimately the best at anything. McGwire was the best home run hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. He hit 49 home runs as a rookie, that’s still record. During his career he averaged a homer every 10.6 at-bats, another record. He hit 70 home runs in 1998 briefly establishing a new single season record. He finished his career with 583 home runs. However, McGwire’s legacy is complicated. He was initially accused of doping by former teammate Jose Canseco, he was called in front of congress on the matter and humiliated himself uttering the phrase “I’m not here to talk about the past” over and over again. The New York Daily News detailed McGwire’s steroid use in this piece, and eventually after years of denying he ever used, he came clean admitting to doping on-and-off throughout his sixteen year career. We have no way of knowing how many home runs he would have hit had he never used. We do know he was the best or at least one of the best home runs hitters the game has even seen, he was also a steroid user. Both are part of his legacy. There was no formal testing or punishments in place for using steroids or PEDs of any kind in MLB until 2005, McGwire retired in 2001.

116: Dazzy Vance– Vance led the NL in strikeouts seven straight seasons, he also led the league ERA three times, FIP seven times, and wins twice. He was named NL MVP in 1924 (winning the pitching Triple Crown). He did not become a regular major leaguer until the age of 31. He is one of the players featured in the Ogden Nash poem Line-Up for Yesterday.

115: Roy Halladay– Halladay won two Cy Young awards and finished his career with 2,749.1 innings pitched, 203 wins, 2,117 strikeouts, and an ERA+ of 131. In 2010 he pitched a perfect game in the regular season, and a no-hitter in the playoffs.

114: Sam Crawford– MLB’s all time leader in triples (309), Crawford also finished his career with a .309 batting average, and 2,961 hits.

113: Scott Rolen-An elite defender and well above average hitter (122 wRC+), Rolen finished his seventeen year career with 316 home runs, and an on-base percentage of .364. He won eight Gold Gloves and a World Series championship in 2006.

112: Bullet Rogan– Rogan was one of the best pitchers and hitters the Negro Leagues ever produced. While serving with the Army he was recruited to join the 25th infantry Wreckers, which was one of the best teams around at the time. Rogan later helped the Kansas City Monarchs win three straight pennants from 1923-1925, and a Negro League World Series championship in 1924. Joe Posnanski wrote this fantastic piece on his life and career.

111: Frankie Frisch– Frisch was an elite defender who could also hit. He finished his career with a .316 batting average and 2,880 hits. He played in eight World Series’, winning four of them. After his playing career Frisch became head of Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee. During his tenure he was responsible for several of his former teammates getting enshrined (Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Dave Bancroft, High Pockets Kelly, and Ross Youngs), many of those players are considered among the least qualified or “worst” players in the Hall of Fame. Read more about Frisch’s tenure as head of the Veterans Committee in Bill James’ excellent book The Politics of Glory.

110: John Smoltz– Smoltz won the NL Cy Young award in 1996, a World Series championship in 1995, and was a key part of the Braves teams of the 90s and early 2000s that won fourteen division titles in a row (1991-2005). He finished his career with 3,084 strike outs, and 154 saves. In the postseason he pitched 209 innings, struck out 199 batters, had a record of 15-4, and an ERA of 2.67.

109: Roy Campanella– Campanella started playing in the Negro Leagues at the age of 15, he didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 26. Both Johnny Bench & Ivan Rodriguez debuted at the age of 19 and were stars by 20. There’s no reason to believe Campanella wouldn’t have done the same the thing had he simply been given the opportunity. Even though he missed several peak seasons, Campanella still won three MVP awards, and hit 242 home runs over his ten year MLB career. During the offseason of 1958 he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed; he never played baseball again and retired at the age of 36.

108: Alan Trammell– Trammell was an excellent defender and an above average hitter. He won the World Series MVP in 1984, and he’s a member of the 70 WAR/40 WAA club, here’s the list of shortstops who have also accomplished that.  Everyone but Trammell is in the Hall of Fame.

107: Lou Whitaker– Whitaker, a longtime teammate of Trammell’s was also an excellent defender and hitter throughout his 19 year career. Another member of the 70 WAR/40 WAA club, here’s the list of second basemen who have also accomplished that. Whitaker and Bobby Grich are the only two not in the Hall of Fame.

106: Roberto Alomar– Alomar was perhaps a better defender than some of the defensive metrics give him credit for, he might also have been overrated defensively too. The perception at the time was that he was an all-time great, he won ten Gold Glove awards, and was named to twelve All-Star teams. Offensively, he finished his career with a .300 batting average, 2,724 hits, 474 stolen bases, and an OPS+ of 116. In September of 1996 Alomar spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, he was suspended for the first five games of the 1997 season because of the incident. After his retirement at least four different women, including his ex-wife, have accused Alomar of knowingly infecting them with HIV.

105: Craig Biggio– Biggio finished his 20 year career with 3,060 hits, 668 doubles, 291 home runs, and 414 stolen bases. Here’s the list of players who have matched or bettered that kind of production.

104: Tim Raines– Raines had the misfortune of having his entire career overlap with Rickey Henderson’s, and let’s face it, as good as Raines was Henderson was better. Not being Rickey Henderson however is not a valid reason to keep someone out of the Hall of Fame. Raines finished his career with an OBP of .385, he got on-base more times (3,977) than Tony Gwynn (3,955). His stole 808 bases and was successful 84.7% of the time, that’s a modern record. There are five players in MLB history with at least 700 stolen bases and 700 extra base hits, Raines is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. More on Raines’ Hall of Fame case can be found here and here.

103: Luke Appling– Appling was a plus defender, he led the AL in batting average twice, and finished his 20 year career with an OBP of .399. He missed nearly two full seasons due to his military service in World War II. With those years he would have almost certainly surpassed 3,000 career hits. He finished with 2,749.

102: Adrián Beltré– I know some of you will think this is way too high of a spot for Beltre to occupy, perhaps you’re right. Let’s pretend WAR or WAA don’t exist for a moment. In 2004 Beltre produced one of the best seasons any third baseman ever has hitting .334/.388/.629 with 200 hits, 48 home runs, and 121 RBI. Over his career Beltre has 2,604 hits, 395 home runs, 1,256 runs, 1,384 RBI. Chipper Jones is the only other third baseman who can match all of those numbers. Chipper’s pretty good, right? Beltre is also an exceptional fielder, even without looking at defensive metrics the eye/sniff test tells us he’s great in the field. Beltre has never gotten the acclaim he deserves, there are many reasons for this. He’s played with more famous teammates (Hamilton, Ichiro, Ortiz), he’s played on multiple teams, he’s played on some bad teams, he played in Seattle which suppressed his offensive production, he’s never won a World Series, his career got off to a slow start (offensively), and he’s never excelled at any one thing other than his defense. The sniff test is working against him. However, he is active, still producing at high level, and has a reasonable chance of getting to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Among all third basemen he ranks 7th all time in WAR, he might crack the top 5. Not bad for a guy who has never won a MVP and has only made four All-Star games. Beltre’s headed for the top 100 whether the general public, Hall of Fame voters, or perhaps even Beltre himself realize it or not.

101: Tom Glavine– Glavine led the NL in wins five times and finished his career with 305. He won two Cy Young awards, and the World Series MVP in 1995. He pitched in 218.1 postseason innings going 14-16, with 143 strikeouts, an ERA of 3.30, and a WHIP of 1.273.

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Data courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

Related Posts: Part 1 (250-226), Part 2 (225-201), Part 3 (200-176), Part 4 (175-151), Part 5 (150-126), Part 6 (125-101), Part 7 (100-76), Part 8 (75-51), Part 9 (50-26), Part 10 (25-1)

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  4. […] posts: Part 1 (250-226), Part 2 (225-201), Part 3 (200-176), Part 4 (175-151), Part 5 (150-126), Part 6 (125-101), Part 7 (100-76), Part 8 […]

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