erik lundegaard

Saturday May 23, 2020

Make-Up Calls and Joe's Top 60 Baseball Moments


A few potential great moments between these three. 

Before he began listing off his 60 greatest moments in baseball history, Joe Posnanski offered the following caveats:

These 60 Moments are not the most important moments in baseball history. Yes, there are some important moments in here, some that you will no doubt expect. But let me give you advance warning: There are a bunch of important moments that are not in here. You can start your rage engines now.

Instead, these are 60 Moments that, to me, best express the joy and wonder of the game. They are touching. They are silly. They are goosebumpy. They are game-changing. There are a lot of surprises, I hope. Even some of the most famous moments might have an unexpected twist or two.

And, I will admit, I did adjust the list so I could highlight some of the greatest players who did not quite make the Baseball 100. I hope that will be fun.

He ain't kidding on this last part. I mean, Jim Palmer outdueling Sandy Koufax in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series? That's on no one's list. But Palmer wasn't on Joe's top 100 players list so it's here at No. 43. Or Jim Thome hitting a walk-off homerun off Troy Percival in August 2000? Thome's swing is iconic and beloved, and I loved finding out from Joe that Thome hit more walkoff homeruns (13) than anyone in baseball history (second place: 12, shared by Babe Ruth, Jimmy Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson). But the 2000 walkoff at No. 39? Ahead of the pine-tar game or the final day of the 2011 season or Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game? Nah. Unless, of course, you‘re following Joe’s make-up-call proviso above.

Quick question: What do Palmer and Thome have in common? They‘re two of the 12 first-ballot Hall of Famers that didn’t make Joe's top 100 list. 

Keep in mind there have been 57 such players, so if you have a top 100 list and wanted to include them all, that leaves just 43 remaining spots. Plus the first-balloters are a more recent phenomenon. The first five were the first five inductees in 1936. We didn't get the sixth until 1962

Here's the first-balloters by decade:

  • 1930s: 5 (Ruth, Cobb, W. Johnson, Young, Wagner)
  • 1940s: 0
  • 1950s: 0
  • 1960s: 4 (Feller, J. Robinson, T. Williams, Musial)
  • 1970s: 5 (Koufax, Spahn, Mantle, Banks, Mays)
  • 1980s: 10 (Kaline, Gibson, Aaron, F. Robinson, B. Robinson, Brock, McCovey, Stargell, Bench, Yastrzemski)
  • 1990s: 10 (Palmer, Morgan, Carew, Seaver, R. Jackson, Carlton, Schmidt, Ryan, Brett, Yount)
  • 2000s: 10 (Winfield, Puckett, O. Smith, E. Murray, Eckersley, Molitor, Boggs, Ripken, Gwynn, R. Henderson)
  • 2010s: 14 (Glavine, Maddux, F. Thomas, Smoltz, R. Johnson, P. Martinez, Griffey, I. Rodriguez, Thome, C. Jones, Halladay, Rivera)
  • 2020s: 1 (Jeter)

And here are the 12 Joe didn't include in his top 100 list, ranked by bWar score:

Player Year HOF % bWAR bWAR Rank
Tom Glavine 2014 91.9 80.7 61
Jim Thome 2018 89.8 72.9 83
John Smoltz 2015 82.9 69.0 110
Eddie Murray 2003 85.3 68.7 113
Ivan Rodriguez 2017 76 68.7 113
Jim Palmer 1990 92.6 68.4 116
Roy Halladay 2019 85.4 64.3 145
Dave Winfield 2001 84.5 64.2 146
Dennis Eckersley 2004 83.2 62.0 166
Willie Stargell 1988 82.4 57.5 217
Kirby Puckett 2001 82.1 51.1 287
Lou Brock 1985 79.8 45.3 388

I don't know about top 100 but you certainly see possibilities for 60 greatest moments: Halladay's postseason no-no, Stargell's decisive homerun in Game 7 of the ‘79 Series, Kirby’s great Game 6 (catch/walkoff) in ‘91, Brock stealing seven bases and hitting .414 in the ’67 Series. And on and on.

At the same time, I wish he hadn't gone this route on his 60 moments list. I wish he'd just kept it personal; the moments that, to him, best express the joy and wonder of the game: A Personal Journey with Joe Posnanski Through Baseball's 60 Greatest Moments. Instead, some of his choices are like an umpire's make-up call; and as that great philosopher Durwood Merrill once said, “I don't believe in make-up calls. Because then I would've gotten it wrong twice.”

Posted at 02:12 PM on Saturday May 23, 2020 in category Baseball  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard