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Friday, June 26, 2015

Best players who played for only one team.

Keith Hernandez has been a Met TV announcer for many years.  This has confused some Met fans into thinking that Keith Hernandez should be considered an all time Met.  This is absurd since Keith Hernandez was a Cardinal player far more than he was a Met player.  Plate appearances (PA):
Cardinals 4,724
Mets 3,684

This is a common problem when trying to pick all time teams.  How much should a player have played for a particular team?  Should the player have played more than half his games for that team?  For players who played for more than two teams, should the player be considered only for the team for which he played the most?  What if that is close?

What a mess.  Here is the solution.  What about teams of players who played for only one team?  No wiggle room.

I'm willing to let Honus Wagner be considered as having played only for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Wagner played for the Louisville Colonels in his first three National League seasons, 1897-1899, after which the Louisville Colonels ceased to exist in the National League.  Wagner then played for the Pirates for the rest of his career.  You decide for yourself.  Here are some well known players eliminated from consideration.

- Christy Mathewson, the greatest Giant pitcher, pitched one game for the Cincinnati Reds in 1916.  It was his final game.

- Willie Mays, Giant CF, played 135 games for the Mets in 1972 (69) and 1973 (66).
- Zack Wheat, Dodger OF, played his final season (1927) with the Philadelphia As.
- Ty Cobb, Detroit Tiger OF, finished (1927-1928) with the Philadelphia As.
- Lefty Gomez, New York Yankee pitcher, pitched one game for Washington in 1943.  It was his final game.
- Yogi Berra, New York Yankee C, played four regrettable games for the Mets in 1965 after managing the Yankees to the AL pennant in 1964 but being fired by the Yanks.
- Warren Spahn, Braves pitcher, played seven games in 1965 for the Mets and Giants.
- Richie Ashburn, Philadelphia Phillies CF, played two full season for the Chicago Cubs before succumbing to the Mets in their first season, 1962.
- Gil Hodges, Dodger 1B, played 54 games for the Mets in 1962 and 11 in 1963.
- Duke Snider, Dodger CF, played full time for the Mets in 1963 and 91 games for the Giants in 1964.

- Ron Santo, Cub 3B, played his final season (1974) with the White Sox.
Dodger Jackie Robinson had the right idea: quit rather than hang on, especially with a hated rival like the Giants.

Those Amazing Mets ruined several players.  But they have their very own Ed Kranepool who played in three 1962 games right out of high school.  Kranepool is probably the all time Mets only first baseman.

Using this absolute criteria, let's try to determine the best player per team, then an all time team by position and finally an individual.

When I originally researched this in 2009, despite the loss of Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Yogi Berra, the Yankees dominated:
        - third most players (44) behind Twins (54) and Giants (48)
        - most All Stars (26), Giants (15)
        - most HoF (7), Giants (5)
        - most All Stars selections (148), Red Sox (77).

C - Bill Dickey (HoF), Thurman Munson (MVP, AS), Jorge Posada (AS)
1B - Lou Gehrig (HoF), Don Mattingly (MVP, AS)
SS - Derek Jeter (AS), Phil Rizzuto (HoF), Tony Kubek (AS), Frank Crosetti (AS)
3B - Red Rolfe (AS)
OF - Earle Combs (HoF)
OF - Joe DiMaggio (HoF)
OF - Mickey Mantle (HoF)
Utility infielder - Gil McDougald (AS: 2B, 3B, SS)
Reserve OF - Tommy Henrich (AS), Roy White (AS), Bernie Williams (AS), George Selkirk (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Ron Guidry (CY, AS)
Reviever - Mariano Rivera (AS)

Three other teams did pretty well:

2B - Jackie Robinson (HoF) even though he only played four seasons at 2B, Jim Lefebvre (AS)
SS - Pee Wee Reese (HoF), Bill Russell (AS)
3B - Jim Gilliam (AS) played more 2B but what the heck
OF - Carl Furillo (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Don Drysdale (HoF)
Clayton Kershaw (MVP, CY)

Red Sox:
C - Jason Varitek (AS)
1B - 
SS - Rico Petrocelli (AS)
3B - 
OF - Ted Williams (HoF)
OF - Jim Rice (HoF)
OF - Carl Yastrzemski (HoF)
Reserve OF - Mike Greenwell (AS), Dom DiMaggio (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Reviever - Bob Stanley (AS)

C - Bill Freehan (AS)
1B - 
SS - Alan Trammell (AS)
3B - Bob Jones
OF - Al Kaline (HoF)
OF - Pat Mullin (AS)
Reserve OF - Gates Brown

Starting pitchers:
Justin Verlander (MVP, CY)

As you can see it starts to thin out pretty quickly.  Per team let's pick the best player and maybe the best pitcher starting with teams that existed in 1960.

Lou Gehrig/Mickey Mantle - toss up
Whitey Ford

Red Sox: Ted Williams

Cal Ripken; honorable mention: Brooks Robinson
Jim Palmer

Joe Mauer?
Walter Johnson

Al Kaline; honorable mention: Charlie Gehringer (MVP)
Tommy Bridges/Justin Verlander

Al Rosen
Bob Feller

White Sox:
Luke Appling
Red Faber/Ted Lyons

Athletics: ???

Jackie Robinson
Sandy Koufax

Giants: Mel Ott (In addition to losing Mathewson and Mays they lose Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.)

Cardinals: Stan Musial; Albert Pujols was on his was to becoming the all time Cardinal but he took the Angels money.

Cubs: Ernie Banks (Billy Williams played his final two seasons in Oakland.)

Pirates: Honus Wagner or Roberto Clemente if you don't think Wagner should be included.  Willie Stargell gets honorable mention.

Reds: Johnny Bench

Phillies: Mike Schmidt

Braves: Chipper Jones (Hank Aaron played his final two seasons for Bud Selig's Milwaukee Brewers.  Eddie Mathews also left.)

Mets: David Wright

Astros: Jeff Bagwell; honorable mention: Craig Biggio

Angels: Tim Salmon; Mike Trout soon

Rangers (Senators): Rusty Greer: only Rangers only player among WAR top 20.

Royals: George Brett

Brewers: Robin Yount

Nationals (Expos): Ryan Zimmerman; soon Bryce Harper

Padres: Tony Gwynn

Edgar Martinez
Felix Hernandez

Blue Jays: ???

Rockies: Todd Helton

Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

Rays: Evan Longoria

Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt

Now an all time team by position:
1B: Lou Gehrig, Yankees
2B: Jackie Robinson, Dodgers
SS: Honus Wagner, Pirates or Cal Ripken, Orioles
3B: Mike Schmidt, Phillies
OF: Mickey Mantle, Yankees
OF: Joe DiMaggio, Yankees
OF: Ted Williams
P: Walter Johnson, Senators
P: Whitey Ford, Yankees
P: Jim Palmer, Orioles
P: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers
Photo of Lou Gehrig
All time individual: Lou Gehrig, Yankees or Mickey Mantle, Yankees


Cliff Blau said...

Best everyday player: Dick Green
Best pitcher: Ed Rommell

Cliff Blau said...

Most of these guys played for minor league teams, though. Of the all-timers, only Koufax only played for one team as a professional. You could add Mel Ott.

Kenneth Matinale said...

Al Kaline did not play in the minors, only for the Tigers,