Monday, January 5, 2015

Greatest Players in Franchise History: Baseball

A few weeks ago, the Writers of this Blog were talking about the greatest players in different football franchises' histories. Some franchises who have been around for a very long time have some arguably terrible GOATs, and it got us thinking: we should write this up for the blog. Instead of doing football, however, I'm going to stick to the sport I know best. Baseball is the easiest to determine because a player's contribution is more quantifiable in baseball than in any other sport. So we'll see how it goes with this one and maybe do other sports later.

Also, we're doing entire franchise histories here. Like, the Twins will include the Washington Senators. For funsies, for each team that has changed names, I'll give the greatest player in that team's current iteration as well.

Baltimore Orioles: With all due respect to Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr. takes this crown. Much more than the streak, impressive as that is, he belted over 400 home runs and had a career OPS+ of 112, the vast majority of the time playing shortstop.

New York Yankees: Derek Jeter. HAHAHAHA JK it's obviously Babe Ruth. I know we've covered the whole Jeter thing quite a lot on this blog, but on my list, he actually ranks 6th in Yankees history, behind Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio and Berra (in that order). Berra is pretty arguable, but because of his three MVP awards and 800 championships, he edges out Jeter in my book. DiMaggio is borderline arguable as well, but come on.

Toronto Blue Jays: Those Blue Jays teams that won it all in '92 and '93 had everyone on them: Roberto Alomar, John Olerud, Dave Winfield, Jeff Kent, David Cone, Al Leiter, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor, even CANDY MALDONADO. But the thing about all those pretty memorable players is that almost none of them is remembered as a Toronto Blue Jay, or at least not solely. That's why I think their best player was not on those teams at all. Roy Halladay was a dominant pitcher for over a decade for the Blue Jays, and sometimes the only bright spot on a mediocre team. Dave Stieb, who was on only the '92 team, has a legitimate case, and I'm tempted to give it to him, but his peak doesn't match Halladay's.

Boston Red Sox: This spot belongs to the person whom I think is the second-greatest baseball player who ever lived, AND YOU CAN QUOTE ME: Ted Williams.

Tampa Bay Rays: This young team's best player ever is still in his prime: Evan Longoria is the best player in Rays history and we may not have seen his best baseball yet. Longoria edges out Carl Crawford just based on the numbers: they've spent a similar amount of time with the team and Evan's just been better. Shout out to Ben Zobrist, who has a real case as well, and would probably be the funniest GOAT in any team's history ever. For the record, Longoria is the best even if you include Devil Rays history.

Detroit Tigers: This one's obvious: Ty Cobb is still one of the 10 greatest players ever, and he edges out the likes of Al Kaline and Charlie Gehringer by a pretty significant margin to take this one home.

Kansas City Royals: This one's obvious and not close: George Brett. Like Bret Saberhagen or something might be second. Kevin Appier maybe.

Cleveland Indians: Gotta go with the Rhode Island favorite here and pick old-timer Napoleon Lajoie from Woonsocket, RI. Tris Speaker was absolutely the better player, but he played many years for the Red Sox. Lajoie's body of work with the Indians puts him atop Tris Speaker, even though Speaker is a really underrated player and could easily be in your top 10. 792 career doubles. Check out his numbers some time. They're ridiculous. So are Lajoie's by the way.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are a team with a lot of great players pretty close together at the top. I'm going to use a tiebreaker criterion here and give it to Luke Appling because he spent his entire career with the White Sox. The other very serious contender in my mind, Frank Thomas, did not. They're so close, and even without that little tiebreaker, I might choose Appling anyway. Shout out to Ted Lyons, a forgotten very great pitcher who would be very reasonable to give the #1 spot to.

Minnesota Twins: No-brainer: Washington Senator Walter Johnson takes it.

As for actual Minnesota Twins, I'm gonna go with Rod Carew, notably mistaken Jew and Ichiro who was better than Ichiro. Harmon Killebrew has a great case, but I'm using another arbitrary tiebreaker because Killebrew played for the Senators for 7 years before they became the Twins.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: For a team that's had a moderate amount of success and been around for 50 years, they don't have a dazzling Hall of Famer as their best ever. The title kind of goes to Chuck Finley by default, no offense to the likes of Jim Fregosi, Tim Salmon, or nine years of Nolan Ryan's career. Finley was a four-time All Star with the Angels and he just pitched very well for many years. There you go.

The LAAofA's best player is Mike Trout, even though Jered Weaver probably deserves it. Trout's height is just so high that I can't not give it to him.

Oakland Athletics: This goes to Rickey Henderson's on-again, off-again relationship with the A's. Eddie Plank probably deserves it, but ehh.

Seattle Mariners: By a closer hair than you think, it's Ken Griffey, Jr. Edgar Martinez is right behind him because Edgar spent more time with the Mariners, but Griffey was the face of this franchise even after he departed for Cincinnati. Great player.

Houston Astros: Inexplicable non-Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell holds this title. He's ahead of Craig Biggio comfortably, and yet Biggio will get into the HOF before Bagwell. What a country.

Texas Rangers: Future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez takes this title, hearkening back to a time when the Rangers had 100 hitters but no pitching and would just score 8 runs a game and give up 9. Those were fun Rangers teams with Raphael Palmeiro, two-time (!) MVP Juan Gonzalez, etc.

Washington Nationals: So the greatest Expo of all time is the late Gary Carter, followed by another inexplicable non-Hall of Famer, Tim Raines.

The clear winner for the Nationals is Ryan Zimmerman.

Atlanta Braves: Obviously Hank Aaron.

As for the Atlanta Braves, this player has been mentioned so often on this blog that it's really annoying. The player I just mentioned is Chipper Jones. The best Atlanta Brave in history is Phil Niekro. LOL

I'm doing this partially to annoy Sean, but partially because it's kinda true. They're extremely close when you look at their careers. Also, the Big 3 pitchers of the '90s spent significant time with other teams and didn't rack up the necessary innings with the Braves to beat out either Chipper or Niekro. Maddux's ridiculous height of 4 straight Cy Youngs should perhaps be enough to catapult him, but as it stands, I'm sticking by Niekro with Chipper Jones a very close second.

Okay fine I'll actually say Chipper Jones. I'm keeping Niekro's name in bold though. This is my blog and I make the rules.

New York Mets: Much like the Royals, there's one clear-cut winner for a team that's about 50 years old. Tom Seaver is arguably a top-5 pitcher ever, and also, a man named Tom Seaver was arguably my favorite high school teacher.

Philadelphia Phillies: The clear winner is Mike Schmidt, and while there have been a few other great players, no one's close to Mike.

Miami Marlins: Though he hasn't reached quite the best-ever status he will, Giancarlo Stanton gets the nod over the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Luis Castillo, and Dontrelle Willis for this title. Geez. The Marlins have him locked up until 2028, and though they'll almost certainly trade him because they're the Marlins, he'll be there at least for another year, which will probably be enough to make him the best Marlin ever without question.

Milwaukee Brewers: I think everyone agrees that it's John Jaha. No jk, it's Robin Yount. Another Royals/Mets situation.

St. Louis Cardinals: Stan Musial takes this one easily, though it's worth noting that the Cardinals' second-greatest player, Rogers Hornsby, would be #1 on the vast majority of these other teams.

Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose is banned from baseball, so I'm obligated to pick someone else. I'll go with the player I think is the best catcher ever: Johnny Bench. I'd pick Bench over Rose anyway, although picking Rose is absolutely reasonable.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Honus Wagner takes this by a landslide. Although, again, Roberto Clemente, who is #2, would be #1 on most teams.

Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks comes to mind for me as the best ever, but I'm going with the old timer Cap Anson for this one. He was a perennial league leader in various important offensive categories, and edges out the likes of Banks, Ryne Sandberg and the criminally underrated Ron Santo in my book.

San Diego Padres: The late Tony Gwynn gets this one, and you can chalk this up to a Royals/Mets/Brewers-type thing.

Los Angeles Dodgers: I'm going with Jackie Robinson, not just for his significance, but also because he had a higher height and was generally more talented than other contenders, while still producing at an extremely high rate. You just can't give this to Don Drysdale or Pee Wee Reese (both great players of course) when Jackie Robinson is staring you right in the face. Also, Sandy Koufax just didn't have enough years to catch Jackie.

For the greatest Los Angeles Dodger, I'm actually going with forgotten outfielder Willie Davis. Four great unbelievable years isn't enough for me to give it to Koufax over Davis, and guys like Drysdale and Don Sutton are just below. It's weird that the Dodgers don't have a Babe Ruth-type player in their history. The player with the most WAR in their franchise history is actually Don Drysdale at 67. It's weird that like...the Astros and Royals have much better all-time best players than the Dodgers do.

San Francisco Giants: Good thing Barry Bonds played much of his career in Pittsburgh or else we'd have a real question on our hands. No contest, it's Willie Mays. The Giants have four players who achieved 100 WAR or more as Giants: Mays, Bonds, Mel Ott and Christy Mathewson. The Yankees have three (Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle), and then the Braves have two (Hank Aaron and Kid Nichols, with Warren Spahn at 99). No other team has more than one. Interesting.

Colorado Rockies: As good as Larry Walker was, the answer is Todd Helton and it's not particularly close.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The great Randy Johnson gets this one in a landslide over, like, Brandon Webb and Luis Gonzalez.

There you have it. The definitive list. How'd I do? Maybe more sports to come. We'll see.

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