As a boy, I had a reputation for knowing all the players' batting averages, etc. In high school, I was statistician for the school team in football, baseball, and basketball, and wrote articles about the games in the local weekly newspaper. With my brothers and friends, I played APBA baseball, a highly statistical baseball game with cards and dice, for many years, from boyhood through college. (Another ex-APBA player is former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush.) For the past 43 years, I have been a professor of mathematics.
So it seems appropriate that I produce my own semi-scientific ratings of the best players during this 62-year period. My criterion for inclusion is that the player must have had several good seasons since 1952. This includes players such as Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial, for whom their best years were prior to my awareness. For such players, their entire career is included. Some Hall of Famers who were not quite recent enough to be included were Joe DiMaggio (whose last year was '51), Johnny Mize, and Hal Newhouser, both of whom had several mediocre seasons after '52. I computed DiMaggio on my ratings and he ranked eleventh of the batters, between Frank Robinson and Rickey Henderson. I distinguish batters from pitchers, with separate rankings for each group. I hesitate to say "batters," because baserunning and fielding also are incorporated.
I rate the batters in 20 categories and the pitchers in 16. All but one of the categories are numerically valued. The highest player scores 10 in that category and the lowest player 0; others are scaled linearly between these two values. The one category which is not scored this way is Hall of Fame. This one was a tricky one for the current players and others who have not yet been considered by Hall voters. For a discussion of how this category was handled, and a detailed description of all categories, see Criteria. Some categories, like this one, depend on others' opinions. These include MVP voting, Cy Young voting, all star teams, and Golden Glove awards. Others are based on statistics. Some of these are career totals, while others are based on the player's best five years. Thus my rating is a combination of Bill James' Peak Value and Career Value, with career being somewhat more prominent than peak. Many of my criteria are based on hybrid statistics, such as Bill James' Win Shares and many from internet sabermetric sources. For many of the criteria, adjustment is made for seasonal averages in the whole league. More discussion of this appears in the Criteria section. Post-season performance is not counted as a criterion. "Pitchers" means "Starting Pitchers"; I do not rate relievers.
A crucial factor in the final ratings is the weights attached to each criterion. The weights range from 0.5 to 4.0. For batters, the highest weighted criterion is MVP voting, and for pitchers, it is Cy Young voting. This is consistent with comments of Bill James when he rated players in his 1988 Complete Baseball Almanac. The specific way I handle these votes is described in Criteria. The placing of Sandy Koufax and many current players, players with several spectacular seasons but relatively short careers, is highly dependent on weights given to short-term effects compared to those for career effects.
I present the ratings of 97 batters and 35 pitchers. Other players' scores were estimated and found to be insufficient. It is possible that I have overlooked someone, but I believe that the players that I rated, 15 firstbasemen, 11 secondbasemen, 7 shortstops, 12 thirdbasemen, 8 catchers, 40 outfielders, and 4 designated hitters, have the highest scores of all eligible people. A player is considered for the position at which he played more games than any other. The three outfield positions are not distinguished.
The table below lists the top five all star teams, considering four pitchers per team. The detailed tabulation of scores for all players in all criteria appears in the Batters List and Pitchers List. Although there is a good bit of similarity in the numbers, no comparison of batters versus pitchers should be inferred. A detailed discussion of all criteria appears in Criteria. The number after a player's name is his total points in all weighted criteria.
|Pos'n||First team||Second team||Third team||Fourth team||Fifth team|
|P,1||Roger Clemens, 260.6||Tom Seaver, 183.3||Sandy Koufax, 144.2||Juan Marichal, 113.1||Johan Santana, 89.8|
|P,2||Randy Johnson, 205.4||Warren Spahn, 169.8||Bob Gibson, 144.1||Roy Halladay, 106.7||Curt Schilling, 89.5|
|P,3||Greg Maddux, 199.9||Bob Feller, 161.8||Robin Roberts, 139.9||Gaylord Perry, 105.7||Nolan Ryan, 88.5|
|P,4||Pedro Martinez, 192.6||Steve Carlton, 146.7||Jim Palmer, 137.5||Fergie Jenkins, 91.4||Phil Niekro, 88.5|
|C||Johnny Bench, 115.0||Yogi Berra, 93.6||Gary Carter, 79.1||Mike Piazza, 78.1||Ivan Rodriguez, 70.8|
|1B||Albert Pujols, 164.4||Jeff Bagwell, 100.2||Eddie Murray, 89.9||Willie McCovey, 87.3||Harmon Killebrew, 79.5|
|2B||Joe Morgan, 141.6||Rod Carew, 100.9||Ryne Sandberg, 96.9||Jackie Robinson, 93.2||Roberto Alomar, 87.5|
|3B||Mike Schmidt, 184.5||George Brett, 121.7||Eddie Mathews, 112.2||Wade Boggs, 111.9||Brooks Robinson, 107.1|
|SS||Alex Rodriguez, 157.3||Cal Ripken, 124.1||Ernie Banks, 97.8||Derek Jeter, 93.5||Robin Yount, 89.1|
|OF,1||Barry Bonds, 264.9||Stan Musial, 208.7||Frank Robinson, 139.8||Ken Griffey, 119||Reggie Jackson, 109.6|
|OF,2||Willie Mays, 245||Mickey Mantle, 205.9||Rickey Henderson, 137.9||Al Kaline, 118.3||Pete Rose, 100.8|
|OF,3||Ted Williams, 220.3||Hank Aaron, 201.7||Carl Yazstremski, 131.7||Roberto Clemente, 114.0||Tony Gwynn, 96.5|
|DH||Frank Thomas, 97.7||Paul Molitor, 62.9||Edgar Martinez, 54.8||David Ortiz, 44.3|
In particular, note that the overall highest rated batter is Barry Bonds, who passed up Willie Mays after the 2002 season, and the highest rated pitcher is Roger Clemens, while Mike Schmidt is the highest rated batter who is not an outfielder. I would appreciate your comments on this study at the e-mail address listed below.
Department of Mathematics
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-3756 (work)
(610) 865-9058 (home)