erik lundegaard

Thursday September 19, 2019

Baseball Team WAR: The Answers

Yankees' Mr. October, yes. Yankees' Mr. WAR? Less.

Yesterday I posted nine questions about baseball team-related WAR. Here are the answers. If you'd rather check out the questions first, without the answers, go to yesterday's post

1. Two active players lead their current team’s all-time WAR chart—meaning, in theory, they‘re the most valuable player that team has ever had. One of them is Mike Trout with the Angels. Who is the other?
Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That's what started this whole deep dive into bWAR. I was like, “Wait, so, by this measure, Kershaw is the best player in the long history of the Dodgers/Robins/Superbas? That covers a lot of ground.” (Insert Groucho joke.) But yes, according to the Dodgers BR team page, he's at 67.7 bWAR, which is a tick better than previous record-holder Don Drysdale's 67.1. Pee Wee Reese(!) is third (66.3), followed by Duke Snider (65.7) and Jackie Robinson (61.4). Sandy Koufax is ninth. Short career. Brief moment in the sun. 

2. Two other active players are the all-time WAR leaders for an MLB team but not the one they’re currently playing for. Name them. 
Evan Longoria for the Rays (49.8) and Giancarlo Stanton for the Marlins (35.5). Stanton's is the lowest WAR for any best franchise player, Longoria's second-lowest. Every other team has at least one player who accumulated 50+ WAR for them. 

3. Which player in baseball history accumulated the most WAR for one team?
Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise with 164.3. Second is Willie Mays with the NY/SF Giants with 154.8. No one else is above 150.

4. Which player has the most overall WAR without making the top 5 for any one team?
It's gotta be a great player who divided his time (and loyalties) between teams, right? And it is: Alex Rodriguez. He's 16th all-time in WAR with 117.8 but it's divided between the Mariners (38.1), Rangers (25.5), and Yankees (54.2). His Mariners WAR is sixth-best on that franchise, Rangers is 14th-best, Yankees 11th-best. BTW: The answer was nearly Cy Young, who is third all-time with 163.6, but most of that for a team/franchise that doesn't exist: the National League Cleveland Spiders. But he accumulated enough bWAR in eight seasons with the Red Sox (66.5) to tie Dwight Evans for fifth place. (Oh, and here's the story of my encounter with A-Rod.)

5. Thirty-one players in baseball history have accumulated 100+ WAR but only 15 managed to do so for one team. Which team has the most such 100+ WAR players? Hint: It's not the Yankees. 
It's the New York/San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays (154.8), Barry Bonds (112.5), Mel Ott (107.8) and Christy Mathewson (104.0). The Yankees have three: Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle. Braves two: Hank Aaron and Kid Nichols. Senators/Twins, Tigers, Cards, BoSox, Pirates and Phillies each have one. See the chart below. 

6. This is a bit convoluted. If you count the top 5 players in terms of WAR for each of the 30 MLB franchises—so 150 slots in all—only two names appear twice. One has the fourth-most WAR for one team and fifth-most for another. The second player has the most WAR for one franchise and the fifth-most for another. Name them. 
Eddie Collins accumulated the fourth-most WAR in White Sox history (66.7) and fifth-most in A's history (57.3). And Randy Johnson has the fifth-most for the Mariners (39.0) and the most for the Arizona Diamondbacks (50.9).

7. Which player has the highest WAR for any expansion franchise?
George Brett's 88.7 WAR for the KC Royals is the best on any expansion franchise. 

8. Here's a few for the Yankee fans and/or haters: Of the 22 numbers the team has retired, and excluding managers (Billy, Casey, Torre), who accumulated the least amount of WAR while in pinstripes? 
Ready? It's Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. He managed 17.2 WAR in his five seasons with the Bronx Bombers. Second is Roger's Maris' 26.3. Both obviously had their numbers retired for other reasons: 61 for Maris, 3 for Reggie.

BTW: Haven't run the numbers yet, so take it with a grain of salt, but I assume the player who accumulated the least amount of WAR for a team and still had his number retired is Wade Boggs' two-year, end-of-career stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. His WAR for them was 1.2. Which kind of matches his #12 that they sadly retired.

9. Now reverse it: Which player accumulated the most amount of WAR for the Yankees but never had their number retired? Who's second?
Pitcher Red Ruffing tallied 57.3 bWAR for the Yankees from 1931 to 1946, which is the eighth-most in Yankees history—better than, among others, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Ron Guidry. But they didn't retire numbers much back then. Gehrig's was the first in MLB history, in 1939, and the Yankees did about one a decade after that: Ruth in ‘48, DiMaggio in ’52, Mantle in ‘69. Then it was off to the races; but Ruffing was generally overlooked. Plus the number he wore for most of his Yankee career, #15, was retired in 1979 when Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. 

As for second-most Yankees WAR with no retired number? That’s A-Rod again. Unless attitudes toward him soften, I imagine A-Rod will be the greatest modern player to never have his number retired by any team he played on. 

Here's a chart of the top three players in terms of bWAR in each MLB team's history, as sorted by first player WAR. Some head-scratchers in there:

Minnesota Twins Walter Johnson 164.3 Rod Carew 63.8 Harmon Killebrew 60.5
San Francisco Giants Willie Mays 154.8 Barry Bonds 112.5 Mel Ott 107.8
Detroit Tigers Ty Cobb 144.8 Al Kaline 92.8 Charlie Gehringer 80.7
Atlanta Braves Hank Aaron 142.5 Kid Nichols 107.2 Warren Spahn 98.9
New York Yankees Babe Ruth 142.4 Lou Gehrig 112.4 Mickey Mantle 110.3
St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial 128.2 Rogers Hornbsby 91.4 Bob Gibson 89.1
Boston Red Sox Ted Williams 123.1 Carl Yastrzemski 96.4 Roger Clemens 80.8
Pittsburgh Pirates Honus Wagner 120.1 Roberto Clemente 94.5 Paul Waner 68.2
Philadelphia Phillies Mike Schmidt 106.8 Robin Roberts 71.7 Steve Carlton 69.4
Baltimore Orioles Cal Ripken Jr. 95.9 Brooks Robinson 78.4 Jim Palmer 68.4
Kansas City Royals George Brett 88.7 Kevin Appier 47.0 Amos Otis 40.8
Chicago Cubs Cap Anson 84.7 Ron Santo 72.1 Ryne Sandberg 68.1
Cleveland Indians Nap Lajoie 80.0 Tris Speaker 74.2 Bob Feller 63.4
Houston Astros Jeff Bagwell 79.9 Craig Biggio 65.5 Jose Cruz 51.4
New York Mets Tom Seaver 78.8 David Wright 50.4 Dwight Gooden 46.3
Cincinnati Reds Pete Rose 78.1 Johnny Bench 75.2 Barry Larkin 70.4
Oakland Athletics Eddie Plank 77.4 Rickey Henderson 72.7 Lefty Grove 64.9
Milwaukee Brewers Robin Yount 77.3 Paul Molitor 60.0 Ryan Braun 47.7
Chicago White Sox Luke Appling 74.5 Ted Lyons 70.7 Frank Thomas 68.3
Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout 72.6 Chuck Finley 51.8 Jim Fregosi 45.9
Seattle Mariners Ken Griffey Jr. 70.6 Edgar Martinez 68.4 Ichiro Suzuki 56.2
San Diego Padres Tony Gwynn 69.2 Dave Winfield 32.0 Jake Peavy 26.8
Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw 67.7 Don Drysdale 67.1 Pee Wee Reese 66.3
Colorado Rockies Todd Helton 61.2 Larry Walker 48.3 Troy Tulowitzki 39.4
Toronto Blue Jays Dave Stieb 56.7 Roy Halladay 48.0 Tony Fernandez 37.5
Washington Nationals Gary Carter 55.8 Tim Raines 49.2 Andre Dawson 48.4
Arizona Diamondbacks Randy Johnson 50.9 Paul Goldschmidt 40.3 Brandon Webb 31.1
Texas Rangers Ivan Rodriguez 50.1 Rafael Palmeiro 44.6 Adrian Beltre 43.2
Tampa Bay Rays Evan Longoria 49.8 Ben Zobrist 36.0 Carl Crawford 35.6
Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton 35.5 Hanley Ramirez 26.9 Josh Johnson 25.7

Let me know if you notice any errors.

Posted at 07:14 AM on Thursday September 19, 2019 in category Baseball  
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