Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Tigers Franchise Deep Six

Has it been almost a week? Fear not! I have another Deep Six for you! Let's take a look at the Detroit Tigers!

1stHal NewhouserBill FreehanHank GreenbergCharlie GehringerGeorge KellAlan TrammellBobby VeachTy CobbAl Kaline
2ndTommy BridgesLance ParrishMiguel CabreraLou WhitakerRay BooneDonie BushWillie HortonChet LemonHarry Heilmann
3rdJustin VerlanderJohnny BasslerNorm CashDick McAuliffeBrandon IngeBilly RogellRocky ColavitoAustin JacksonSam Crawford
4thBill DonovanMickey CochraneRudy YorkPlacido PolancoTravis FrymanCarlos GuillenBobby HigginsonCurtis GrandersonKirk Gibson
5thJim BunningMickey TettletonDarrell EvansDamion EasleyGeorge MoriartyTopper RigneyCharlie MaxwellRon LeFloreVic Wertz
6thDizzy TroutIvan RodriguezLu BlueFrank BollingMarty McManusHarvey KuennSteve KempJimmy BarrettMagglio Ordonez

How about those right fielders, eh? The top three are all solid Hall of Famers! After them it's a bit iffy, but Sam Crawford on your 3rd Team? Wow.

Catcher is a bit interesting, because none of the top three are Hall of Famers, but the guy on the 4th Team is, and the guy on the 6th Team probably will be. Drat that lack of longevity!

Third base and left field are probably the weakest positions here. The Tigers have had several fine players at third, but none were great for a long time. Aurelio Rodriguez and Don Wert, the two Tigers with the most games at third base, didn't even make the list. Bobby Veach was an underrated but not great player, but no one else is even close to being the ultimate Tigers left fielder.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Giants Franchise Deep Six

And already we have another one! For some reason I got through the Giants pretty quickly. I guess they had so much depth that I didn't feel the need to agonize about the exact rankings as much. For less-deep teams, you have to nitpick which player is less mediocre than the other. Let's see how the Giants come out:

1stChristy MathewsonBuck EwingRoger ConnorJeff KentArt DevlinArt FletcherBarry BondsWillie MaysMel Ott
2ndAmos RusieBuster PoseyWillie McCoveyFrankie FrischMatt WilliamsGeorge DavisGeorge BurnsGeorge Van HaltrenBobby Bonds
3rdCarl HubbellRoger BresnahanBill TerryLarry DoyleJim Ray HartTravis JacksonMonte IrvinBobby ThomsonMike Tiernan
4thJuan MarichalChief MeyersJohnny MizeRobby ThompsonFreddie LindstromDave BancroftKevin MitchellBrett ButlerJack Clark
5thMickey WelchTom HallerWill ClarkDanny RichardsonPablo SandovalAl DarkJo-Jo MooreBenny KauffRoss Youngs
6thTim KeefeHarry DanningOrlando CepedaRon HuntHank ThompsonDick BartellGary MatthewsFred SnodgrassFelipe Alou

First base and pitcher were the truly outstanding positions here. Right field and shortstop weren't too shabby either.

While Frankie Frisch and George Davis were greater players than Jeff Kent and Art Fletcher, respectively, they ended up on the 2nd team due to the fact that their resumes at those positions as members of the Giants weren't quite as good. Frisch spent a lot of his best years with the Cardinals, and Davis his with the White Sox.

Left field and center field were impressive for the dropoffs after the 1st Team. It's not just that the guys on the 1st Team were each arguably the greatest ever at their position (though that helped), but that Georges Burns and Van Haltren were not even borderline greats.

As with several other franchises we've seen so far, we have an active player working his way toward the top at one position. Can Buster Posey eventually become the Giants' #1 all-time catcher? He'll have to keep producing for several more years, but it's hardly out of the question.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Twins Franchise Deep Six

As I mentioned in my Orioles Franchise Deep Six post, this one was going to be strange. The Minnesota Twins are a continuation of the old Washington Senators, but they have a completely different identity. As such, it's a tad odd to see Twins greats mixed with old Senator greats. Them's the rules though, so enjoy it for what it is.

1stWalter JohnsonJoe MauerHarmon KillebrewRod CarewEddie YostJoe CroninGoose GoslinKirby PuckettTony Oliva
2ndBert BlylevenEarl BatteyKent HrbekChuck KnoblauchCorey KoskieCecil TravisHeinie ManushClyde MilanSam Rice
3rdJohan SantanaButch WynegarJoe JudgeBuddy MyerGary GaettiGreg GagneRoy SieversTorii HunterBob Allison
4thBrad RadkeMuddy RuelMickey VernonBucky HarrisEddie FosterGeorge McBrideGary WardStan SpenceTom Brunansky
5thCamilo PascualBrian HarperJustin MorneauRay MorganOssie BluegeRoy SmalleyLarry HisleJimmie HallJohn Stone
6thFrank ViolaRick FerrellChick GandilBrian DozierBuddy LewisZoilo VersallesJacque JonesSam WestMatt Lawton

Though he no longer plays catcher, we got to see something truly special with Joe Mauer behind the plate. It's a real shame he needed to be moved to first base. A.J. Pierzynski just missed the cut. I chose Ferrell for the 6th Team only because he played for the franchise a bit longer.

Second base was surprising to me. I didn't think Brian Dozier in his brief career had done enough yet to show up in the keystone column, but there truly wasn't anyone more deserving that I could find. For all those fine players, there wasn't a lot of depth beyond them.

I named Corey Koskie this franchise's all-time third baseman a few years ago, but upon revisiting the numbers, I think you have to go with the Walking Man, Eddie Yost. His longevity is just too great a factor, even if Koskie at his best was a little better. It's no insult to be on the 2nd Team, Corey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Phillies Franchise Deep Six

Franchises that haven't historically been cloaked in glory are often more interesting to me than those that have. The Phillies are one such franchise. They've had their periods of prominence, but they've generally experienced more downs than ups. Today we're going to look at their positional depth chart.

1stPete AlexanderJack ClementsJohn KrukChase UtleyMike SchmidtJimmy RollinsEd DelahantyRichie AshburnBobby Abreu
2ndRobin RobertsDarren DaultonRyan HowardNap LajoieDick AllenLarry BowaSherry MageeRoy ThomasJohnny Callison
3rdSteve CarltonCarlos RuizDolph CamilliDave CashScott RolenDave BancroftDel EnnisLenny DykstraChuck Klein
4thJim BunningAndy SeminickFred LuderusJuan SamuelWillie JonesBob AllenGreg LuzinskiGarry MaddoxGavvy Cravath
5thCole HamelsSpud DavisVon HayesTony TaylorPinky MayGranny HamnerPat BurrellBilly HamiltonSam Thompson
6thCurt SchillingBob BooneDon HurstOtto KnabePinky WhitneyMickey DoolinMorrie ArnovichCy WilliamsElmer Flick

The Phillies are surprisingly strong at pitcher and in the outfield. In center and right fields, respectively, Shane Victorino and John Titus were fine players who just missed the cut.

Left field was a funny one. The top five were easy choices (as well as the franchise's top five in games played at the position), but after that the cupboard was pretty bare. I went with Arnovich on the 6th Team only because he had some degree of longevity, but he's hardly a clear-cut choice. There were plenty of other unnotables who could've been argued for.

The Phillies have never had an all-time great catcher, as you can see, but they've had a lot of good ones. That spot on the 6th Team came down to Boone, Clay Dalrymple, and Mike Lieberthal, and it was almost a coin-flip. The catcher on the 1st Team, Jack Clements, is sadly underrated.

The infield is an area where the Phillies are surprisingly weak. Chase Utley was so far and away the top choice at second base it was almost laughable. Nap Lajoie was an immortal, but his time with the Phillies was relatively brief, and before he blossomed into a legend. Third base and shortstop are both top-heavy.

It might be hard for some people to believe, but the Phillies have never had a truly great first baseman. Ryan Howard may have the longevity there, but John Kruk, in his brief-but-glorious run as Phillie first-sacker, was simply a better player.  And after them, there's not a whole lot to get excited about. Any young, talented first baseman who wants to be on some franchise's 1st Team should try to find his way to Philadelphia.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Orioles Franchise Deep Six

We're back for another of these Deep Six thingies, this time with a franchise that had two distinct identities. It's the Orioles franchise, which spent nearly half its existence as the St. Louis Browns. It probably seems odd to put them together (perhaps not as odd as the Twins/Senators one will be), but it's how I've chosen to do this project. Let's see what we've got:

1stJim PalmerChris HoilesGeorge SislerBobby GrichBrooks RobinsonCal Ripken Jr.Ken WilliamsPaul BlairFrank Robinson
2ndMike MussinaRick DempseyEddie MurrayBrian RobertsHarlond CliftBobby WallaceGeorge StoneBaby Doll JacobsonKen Singleton
3rdUrban ShockerHank SevereidRafael PalmeiroDel PrattDoug DeCincesMark BelangerDon BufordAdam JonesNick Markakis
4thNed GarverMatt WietersBoog PowellRoberto AlomarMelvin MoraMiguel TejadaGoose GoslinBrady AndersonJack Tobin
5thHarry HowellGus TriandosJim GentileDavey JohnsonJimmy AustinLuis AparicioHeinie ManushWally JudnichHarry Rice
6thCarl WeilmanWally SchangGeorge McQuinnMarty McManusManny MachadoVern StephensB.J. SurhoffMike DevereauxMerv Rettenmund

It's probably no surprise that most members of the 1st Team are from the Baltimore era. However, the St. Louis era is in the majority on the 5th and 6th Teams.

This franchise is surprisingly deep at both first base and shortstop, and third base ain't too shabby either. I expect to see Manny Machado move up the list in the future. The only reason he ranks behind Jimmy Austin is the fact that Austin played for the Browns so long.

This franchise is surprisingly shallow in the outfield; the only inner-circle great at any of the outfield positions is Frank Robinson. Goose Goslin is an acceptable Hall of Famer, and Heinie Manush is in, though he probably shouldn't be, but the rest are just very good players, and the pickings were slim for the lower teams.

In the starting pitcher column you have two Oriole aces, then four straight Brownies. Despite the renowned pitching staffs that have been seen down Baltimore way, none of them has ever been laden with long-lasting superstars. Give the Orioles credit for being able to assemble strong groups without individual standouts.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Cubs Franchise Deep Six

Time for another one! Today we have the lovable North Siders who can't seem to win a World Series, the Cubs!

1stFergie JenkinsGabby HartnettCap AnsonRyne SandbergRon SantoErnie BanksBilly WilliamsHack WilsonSammy Sosa
2ndClark GriffithJohnny KlingFrank ChanceBilly HermanStan HackBill DahlenRiggs StephensonGeorge GoreKing Kelly
3rdMordecai BrownJody DavisMark GraceJohnny EversNed WilliamsonJoe TinkerAbner DalrympleBill LangeBill Nicholson
4thPete AlexanderRandy HundleyDerrek LeeRogers HornsbyHeinie ZimmermanCharlie HollocherJimmy SheckardAndy PafkoKiki Cuyler
5thHippo VaughnRick WilkinsVic SaierFred PfefferHarry SteinfeldtBilly JurgesHank SauerJimmy RyanAndre Dawson
6thJohn ClarksonBob O'FarrellPhil CavarrettaGlenn BeckertAramis RamirezTom BurnsAugie GalanAdolfo PhillipsFrank Schulte

These things are always tough to make. Ideally, I'm trying to rank these players based on how much they epitomize the position for the franchise. That's why I try to weigh both longevity and peak value. Sometimes though, you end up with forgotten players outranking fan favorites. Phil Cavarretta, for instance, was something of a Cub legend, while most fans today probably don't know anything about Vic Saier. Based on the numbers though, I had to give Saier the edge, because Cavarretta didn't spend enough time specifically as a first baseman, and his greatest season came during wartime, when the talent pool was weaker. Anthony Rizzo is actually surprisingly close behind Cavarretta already. It'll be a shame to see such a beloved Cub end up in the Conigliaro Zone.

Right field was another weird one. Kelly, Nicholson and Cuyler all have noise in the data that makes them hard to evaluate. Either they spent a lot of time at other positions in addition to right field, or World War II distorted their value. I ultimately went with Kelly on the 2nd Team because he was the greatest player of the bunch, but honestly, you could probably put those three in any order and have a valid defense for it.

I hated putting Rogers Hornsby on the 4th Team, since he played only 250 games at second base for the Cubs. However, he did spend three seasons in Chicago with that as his primary position, abbreviated though some of them might have been, and was a monster. Pfeffer and Beckert were good players who spent a lot more time with the Cubs, but they never approached Hornsby's peak value. It didn't feel right to put such a dominant player on the 6th Team behind those two.

It's interesting that the most recent player from the center field column is Adolfo Phillips on the 6th Team. The Cubs have had several fine center fielders, but they all played at least half a century ago. It's about time they found another star at that position, wouldn't you say?

Tinker, Evers and Chance almost all ended up on the same team, but I decided Chance was just a bit better than Mark Grace. Tinker to Evers to Grace is hardly anything to be disappointed with, though.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Red Sox Franchise Deep Six

Last time I did the real Sox, now it's time to do the fake Sox! (Little joke there, Red Sox fans).

1stRoger ClemensCarlton FiskJimmie FoxxDustin PedroiaWade BoggsNomar GarciaparraTed WilliamsTris SpeakerDwight Evans
2ndCy YoungJason VaritekMo VaughnBobby DoerrJimmy CollinsRico PetrocelliCarl YastrzemskiFred LynnHarry Hooper
3rdPedro MartinezRich GedmanKevin YoukilisPete RunnelsLarry GardnerFreddy ParentJim RiceReggie SmithTrot Nixon
4thLefty GroveRick FerrellGeorge ScottBilly GoodmanFrank MalzoneJoe CroninManny RamirezJacoby EllsburyJackie Jensen
5thLuis TiantBill CarriganJake StahlMike AndrewsMike LowellJohn ValentinMike GreenwellDom DiMaggioBuck Freeman
6thJon LesterLou CrigerMike NapoliHobe FerrisBill MuellerJohnny PeskyDuffy LewisEllis BurksJ.D. Drew

Several things about these teams surprised me. For starters, the BoSox are surprisingly shallow at both catcher and first base. Jason Varitek and Mo Vaughn seem more like 3rd Teamers than 2nd Teamers, but there they are, on the 2nd team of such a storied franchise. I didn't really like including Mike Napoli, since it's early in his third season with the franchise, but I decided to assume that by the end of 2015 he'll look like a much better selection. The Red Sox really don't have a lot of great options at the initial sack.

Left field, of course, is a famous position on the Red Sox, since there have been so many great players there. Equally worthy is pitcher, where they're four-deep with top-tier Hall of Famers. Tiant, of course, has a borderline Hall of Fame case too.

Shortstop and center field were both deeper than I expected. Vern Stephens and Johnny Damon, respectively, both just missed the cut at those positions.

Some might quibble with me putting Pedroia over Doerr at second base, but I think the time has come. Doerr might have the longevity advantage, but Pedroia at his best was better than Doerr ever was, and he's been producing long enough that he deserves the top spot. After those two, second base was another position that turned out to be weaker than I expected.

The 4th Team is an interesting one; you have three Hall of Famers, plus another who played at a Hall of Fame level in Manny Ramirez. In the cases of Lefty Grove and Ramirez, it's because the Red Sox have so much depth at their positions. In the case of Joe Cronin, it's because his best years were spent with a different franchise, and in the case of Rick Ferrell, it's because he wasn't really a worthy Hall of Famer.

Some of you diehards might be upset that I gave the right field spot on the 6th Team to J.D. Drew rather than franchise icon Tony Conigliaro, but I couldn't justify it based on the WAR numbers. Believe me, I tried.