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Friday, August 24, 2018

Posnanski: Baseball 100 Rules

In this era of reboots, it was perhaps inevitable that Joe Posnanski would take another crack at the 100 greatest players in major league history. 

The Baseball 100 is more than just a ranking system to me. The difference between my 78th ranked player and my 212th ranked player is so miniscule that it’s mathematically irrelevant. With one slight adjustment, I could have those two players switch places.

Nearly all of the series is to be pay walled, but Zach Greinke is No. 100 on the list.

In the original version of this list, I included a bunch of Negro leaguers — I can tell you that four were in my Top 20. I still believe this. But Negro leaguers will now be a major part of my corresponding Shadowball 100….It’s an eclectic list that includes players who are, in their own ways, larger than life.

No. 100 on this list is Duane Kuiper.

 

 

Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 24, 2018 at 08:01 AM | 1453 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, joe posnanski, joe posnanski top 100, reboots

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   1301. Booey Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:01 PM (#5937676)
Flip
   1302. SoSH U at work Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:09 PM (#5937677)
1296: Not trying to be a smartass but remove as in they never happened? Replace them with something? If so what? Because those plate appearances happened. If I am being stupid apologies.


Remove them as if they never happened. Don't turn them into outs or hits or anything. Just remove them from the equation.

   1303. Mefisto Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:12 PM (#5937679)
Like I said about (I think) Eddie Collins a few weeks ago, we need to not just compare superstars to the average or replacement players of their eras, but to the BEST players as well, and Barry stood out from the guys battling for #2 in his era a little more, IMO.


There's some validity to this, though which players are the "same era" is debatable. For example, Ruth is just 11 WAR above Cobb, so should we count that? Anyway, Mays with service credit is actually 25+ WAR ahead of Aaron and 35 or so above Musial with service credit. And at that we have to recognize the unusual circumstances in which integration brought a sudden influx of talent that might not have happened before or since.
   1304. bbmck Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:31 PM (#5937686)
Non-IBB Barry Bonds 2001-2004 is .501 OBP so about 240 OPS+ as opposed to .559 and 256.
   1305. SoSH U at work Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:32 PM (#5937687)
Thanks bbmck.

   1306. Booey Posted: April 08, 2020 at 04:59 PM (#5937698)
#1303 - Agreed, and yes, I do take into account the high WAR totals of Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby, Collins, Gehrig, etc when ranking Ruth. That's why on my timelined list, I'd put Ruth 3rd, Mays 2nd, and Bonds 1st. I just think Barry stood out from the other superduper stars of his general era a tad bit more. It's certainly not a big difference, but it's something (and really we're all just splitting hairs at this point, right?)
   1307. Mefisto Posted: April 08, 2020 at 05:18 PM (#5937705)
That's fair. Barry's real competitors when it comes to WAR were pitchers (Clemens) rather than position players.
   1308. bbmck Posted: April 08, 2020 at 06:08 PM (#5937720)
The 15 highest position player WAR seasons in 15 years by anyone else vs that player's posWAR:

142.8 Babe Ruth 1920-1934 vs 153.2
134.7 Willie Mays 1954-1968 vs 150
131.3 Barry Bonds 1990-2004 vs 144.5

The 94-95 strike doesn't change much, 8.2 and 8.3 as opposed to the 14th and 15th best seasons being 8.9. Pretty sure it's just those 3 who come close for that many consecutive years, for instance 103.5 Mike Schmidt 1974-1987 vs 131.3 even if you want to throw in an adjustment for 1981 when it's Schmidt 7.7 vs Andre Dawson 7.5 while the 14th best non-Schmidt season is 8.6 and Schmidt's 15th season on either side is 1.8 WAR.

Mike Trout with 72.3 posWAR the last 8 years vs 73.6 for anyone else, 71 for anyone else in the AL, 70.2 anyone else and one per season or 67.5 anyone else in the AL and one per season. Should Bryce Harper be included in a composite picture of best non-Trout player? Is 2014 Michael Brantley 7.0 or 2015 Paul Goldschmidt 8.3 a better benchmark for the Trout era? Babe Ruth has 9 of the 18 seasons with 10+ posWAR during those years and Rogers Hornsby has 6, the non-Ruth AL is 140.6 and trails Ruth in spite of his medical problems in 1925.
   1309. TomH Posted: April 08, 2020 at 09:43 PM (#5937742)
I like the approach, bbmck. How about this:

Ruth 1920-34 had 574 win shares.
The 10th best MLB player each year, for 15 years, had 441. Ruth was 133 WS (=43 wins) better than the annual very-very-good MLBer, or almost 3 wins per year.

Mays 1954-68 had 533 win shares.
The 10th best MLB player each year, for 15 years, had 432. Mays was 101 WS (=34 wins) better than the annual very-very-good MLBer, or just over 2 wins per year.
But, you might say the 10th best MLBer in 1960 was higher quality than 10th best in 1926, because of integration, etc.
If we use the 20th best MLBer for May's years, Mays comes out a bit ahead.

Using the 10th (or whatever-th) best players gets rid of the problem of one other player skewing the results.
   1310. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 07:46 AM (#5937777)
Interesting, and here's a way you could timeline that. How does Willie compare to the 10th best white player for those years?
   1311. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 08:21 AM (#5937784)
Better yet, use the 100th best (white) player. That would get you close to replacement level.
   1312. TomH Posted: April 09, 2020 at 09:14 AM (#5937790)
The point of using best (or 10th best) is to measure how easy or hard it is to dominate. I would not know who is white or black or other....
   1313. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 09:23 AM (#5937793)
You won't have any problem with Ruth's era. :)

More seriously, most players have a picture on BBREF.

   1314. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5937815)
I just did the 10th best white player compared to Mays. It's 52.4 WAR to 134.7 (1954-68). I can't do Ruth right now, but it's a lot easier since there's no doubt that they're all white.

The sequence from 1954-68, btw, is a real eye-opener. In 1954 you only need to go down to player 12 to get the 10th best white player. By 1968 you're in the 20s.
   1315. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5937818)
For Ruth I get 146.9 compared to 84.8, or +62.1

I did it slightly different than Mefisto on Mays. I looked at 10th best white player but did not remove Mays himself. I think that provides a slightly better comp since Ruth is being compared to the 9th best non-Babe. So I get 79.2 for 10th best from 54-68, which puts Willie at +55.5
   1316. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5937820)
Looking at Willie against the 10th best regardless of skin, they are at 93 which puts Willie +41.7

So Ruth is still ahead, but the gap is significantly narrowed.
   1317. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5937828)
Using the way I did it just for the moment (I think Rally is correct), the 10th best white player from 1954-60 averaged 3.8 WAR. From 1961-8 they averaged 3.2 WAR. That suggests that integration had a HUGE impact.
   1318. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5937835)
I’m getting 10th best around 5-6 WAR per season. Are you looking at NL only? I did 10th best in MLB.
   1319. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 12:32 PM (#5937853)
Yes, I looked at NL only precisely because of the disparity between leagues in accepting black players.

I'd do Ruth v AL only because there was so little movement between leagues back then.
   1320. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:09 PM (#5937872)
I went back and did Ruth the same way I did Mays (AL only, 10th best white player including Ruth) just so there'd be a comparison. I get 70.1 for the 10th best player total WAR, average of 4.7.

This leaves Ruth 76.8 above his AL competitors, and Mays 82.3 above his white competitors. If we look at Ruth against the #11 AL player each year, they total 68.4 and Ruth is 78.5 above them.

   1321. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 04:30 PM (#5937993)
I'm close to those numbers. You're right, best to compare within league since the NL was so much better during Mays' career.

I get 69.7 for 10th best in 1919-33.

10th best White is 77.0 for 1954-68, except I am not removing Mays, so it's effectively 9th best White. I think this is important to do because if we switched Willie Mays and Mike Trout in time, and Mike put up exactly the same numbers in the 1950s/60s that Mays did, I wouldn't want to change the comparison baseline just because of the color of their skin.

By my numbers, Mays is +79 compared to 10th best, and Ruth is +77.2

Outside their best 15 batting seasons Mays has a 21-15 war edge on Ruth, which is probably 21-10 making similar adjustments for competition. But Ruth still holds a 20-0 edge on the mound.

   1322. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 09, 2020 at 04:52 PM (#5938000)
The battle lines on this one have been drawn for years, but what the heck:

Games won with steroid use are still games won. And great players win games for their teams. I don't think that Bonds, or anyone else, should get penalized for steroid use. To do so is to pretend that something that happened didn't happen. But given the value that Ruth produced as a pitcher, the only way to rank Bonds ahead of him is with timelining, which I'm also against.
   1323. Mefisto Posted: April 09, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5938013)
I get 69.7 for 10th best in 1919-33.


I used 1920-34 because that's what bbmck used in 1308. Starting in 1919 is probably better.

10th best White is 77.0 for 1954-68, except I am not removing Mays, so it's effectively 9th best White. I think this is important to do because if we switched Willie Mays and Mike Trout in time, and Mike put up exactly the same numbers in the 1950s/60s that Mays did, I wouldn't want to change the comparison baseline just because of the color of their skin.


Agreed.
   1324. baudib Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:04 AM (#5938154)
I think it's peculiar, and wonderful, that baseball is the only major sport that players from 100 years ago are even considered to be in the same realm as contemporary players.

We're at a point with basketball that no one really considers Wilt Chamberlain as a candidate for GOAT. There are respectful nods to Bill Russell ("The greatest winner ..."). No one will even mention Cousy, West or Robertson though when talking about top 10 players in league history. We're actually at a point where most modern fans are probably overlooking Bird or Magic, who were comfortably in everyone's top 5 all time 15-20 years ago.

It's probably worse in football. Jim Brown might still get the nod at RB but there's no way anyone is considering, say, Mel Blount or Jack Lambert or Cliff Branch or Unitas as the best at their respective positions.

Would Margaret Court be able to beat Serena Williams?

I suppose it's because baseball is loosely the same game as it was 100 years ago. But well, not really. Baseball now compared to baseball in 1980 or 1990 is probably just as different as the other sports. I will never not be amazed at how skinny players from the 1980s are, and I grew up watching that era. Larry Bowa was a major league shortstop for a long career, and made All-Star teams. It's kind of hard to believe.

Willie Mays is as distant as Wilt Chamberlain. Babe Ruth goes back to the time of the Spanish Flu.

All of this is a long way from saying that I think, if anything, current timelining methods are inadequate, if anything. I find it hard to believe that Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez don't beat Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner if you put them on the diamond together. I understand the appeal of trying to keep old players on the same footing as modern players, I really do. I want to think that Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb were all-time greats. But I'd still go with Bonds at No. 1.
   1325. JJ1986 Posted: April 10, 2020 at 07:19 AM (#5938172)
Ruth is #2.
   1326. Mefisto Posted: April 10, 2020 at 08:18 AM (#5938179)
I'm very sympathetic to the argument in 1324. The one thing I'd say about baseball in contrast to football or basketball is that it's a more mature sport. That is, it's been around longer and, for a long time, was played by many more people. That means it's had more time to push against the right hand wall of the normal curve.

That doesn't mean I know where the game was at any given point in time. I timeline pretty heavily (possibly not enough) for the period before integration. I'd be perfectly happy to timeline up to and including the present. I just don't have any empirical basis to do that, and I've tried to come up with one.
   1327. Rally Posted: April 10, 2020 at 09:02 AM (#5938189)
Chamberlain is still today in the argument as GOAT based on pure athletic dominance. He was probably stronger than anyone in the NBA today, plus had speed, skill, leaping ability, and a great wingspan.

In terms of wins and losses he's not there. Part of the problem is that he had an extreme weakness in the free throw shooting, and most of his teams struggled to turn his individual dominance into actual team wins. He might score 50, but how valuable is that really if as a team they aren't much more efficient than average?

Today the plus/minus on/off rating is a big key to understanding the impact of basketball players. We don't have the data for that back in Wilt's time, and even if we did it would be little use since he often played the whole 48 minutes. But these guys did miss games, we know when, and what the scores were for those games, and so can estimate a plus/minus proxy. I've taken a look into this, and it's far from comprehensive, but what I found is that Russell appears to have the biggest impact of the 1960's superstars. Wilt was not close, and he's not #2 either. Jerry West was.

Put him in today's game and Wilt would be incredible at some things. But also completely irrelevant to the 3 point game that has come to rule the sport. A resurrected Wilt might be the top rebounder and shot blocker in today's NBA, or he might not, we can't know for sure. But even if he was, he would not be the most impactful player on the court. The rules of the game have changed too much.

In the 1980's I used to think Bill Russell as a 6'9 center was an anachronism, he could never have played the same position 20 years later, would have had to be a 4. But that's probably not true. Some of the guys billed as 7 footers then really weren't. Hakeem was maybe an inch taller than Russell. In today's NBA nobody would bat an eye over a 6-9 center as Draymond Green often plays there at 6-7, and even P.J. Tucker at 6-5.

Russell was a great defender but his defensive impact would not be as great today. In his time he could shut down the high percentage shots near the basket and force people out. But today you need an answer for the 3 pointers and one guy could not do it.

I think West would be well suited to be a dominant player in today's game. Great defender and could shoot with range. But no idea exactly how well he'd shoot from deep if in a game where he did it often. But I'd put him more in the category of good player in today's NBA, not arguing him as being on the level of Lebron and the other top tier guys.

I think Pete Maravich would be a much better player today than he was in his time, maybe on the level of Steph Curry. He shot 3's. He just only was credited for 2 points when he hit them. His last year was the first year of the 3 point rule. He attempted 15, and made 10 of them.
   1328. alsep73 Posted: April 10, 2020 at 09:31 AM (#5938192)
Ruth is #2.


Sure, it’s not real timelessness. It’s a fairy tale we baseball fans tell ourselves. Ottavino is right. It is a different game. Ruth played in a time when black players were shut out. He played in a time before night games, before air travel, before television, before closers, before weight training, before anyone cared about nutrition, before exploding sliders, before 100 mph fastballs, before West Coast games, before a million other things.


This is the closest the Ruth essay comes to suggesting a reason why he's not the number one choice. So I'll be curious to see if the last essay makes more of an argument for why Mays is number one, or if it'll just be more great storytelling.
   1329. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 09:50 AM (#5938198)
In my mind, along the lines of that argument, if the Babe shows us what baseball would like itself to be, Willie showed us what baseball could actually be.




I agree that it's the only sport we even consider players from this long ago. But I think with current training and conditions, plenty of them would have done just as well.

With that said, I think the color line is a huge deal (indeed in my brain I just mostly don't pay much attention to the sport before 47), and it's really hard to simply timeline that away.
   1330. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2020 at 10:12 AM (#5938200)
It's probably worse in football. Jim Brown might still get the nod at RB but there's no way anyone is considering, say, Mel Blount or Jack Lambert or Cliff Branch or Unitas as the best at their respective positions.

Well, you can't ignore the elephant in the room here, steroids. NFL linemen used to play at 240 lbs, retire, and balloon to 280 lbs. of fat. For the last 30-40 years they play at 320 lbs of muscle, retire, and shrink to 250 lbs.

I still think James Brown would run wild today.
   1331. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5938203)
I agree that it's the only sport we even consider players from this long ago. But I think with current training and conditions, plenty of them would have done just as well.

Or, to go the other way, if Mike Trout played in 1925, he wouldn't be allowed to lift weights, or train in any way, his nutrition would suck, and he'd probably be out boozing every night with Babe and the boys.

You've got to remember, Ruth's team banned him from any off-season exercise (eventually even golf) to "save his leg". He wasn't even allowed to run. Subject some of the modernplayers to that, and they's be much smaller and weaker.

To me giving modern players credit for improvements in health/medicine/training etc. is like saying Scwarzkopf was a better general than Napoleon because he had tanks and jet planes.
   1332. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5938208)
Well, I'm not sure Ruth's addictions were merely because of a lack of training. Maybe Ruth would be Josh Hamilton.

Trout, sure, fair enough.
   1333. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:26 AM (#5938222)
The Ruth article is dominated by kind of hysterical comments. So a player is number 2 instead of 1 and like 2/3 of the posters are melting down. So incredibly strange. Based on the different personal baseball stories already shared in other articles pretty clear a heavy presence of 40-70 year old dudes. So there a Ruth cult among that crowd or what??
   1334. Booey Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:29 AM (#5938223)
I think the fact that the other 4 of Pos' top 5 wouldn't even have been allowed to play during Ruth's time says all you need to know about the quality of pre-integration competition.

It boggles my mind that there's still people out there who think steroids are a huge deal that need to be heavily discounted, but the color barrier isn't. Players on PED's didnt have nearly as big an advantage over clean players as players who were allowed to play had over those who weren't.
   1335. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5938227)
Yeah, frankly, that reaction is probably exactly the point he wanted to make and he made it.
   1336. Mefisto Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5938233)
Based on my experience in looking for the 10th best white player in the NL (see above), I arbitrarily chose 1971 to see where the 10th best white player ranked overall in each league. In the NL it was Bob Bailey at #26. In the AL it was Davey Johnson at #16. When you consider the relative population numbers for whites v. black/Latin, both those are pretty amazing, the NL particularly. The color barrier was huge.
   1337. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:52 AM (#5938240)
1334/1336: Agreed.
   1338. Rally Posted: April 10, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5938250)
Where are we in 2019? For AL, it’s Max Kepler at 23. Surprised to see David Fletcher among the top 10 Whites.

I did not count Aaron Judge, it is said that he is bi-racial. While that might imply he has one Black parent and one White, like Derek Jeter, I still believe the two races that produced him were “Ogre” and “ Stone Giant”.
   1339. Rally Posted: April 10, 2020 at 12:11 PM (#5938251)
For the NL it’s Realmuto #17, maybe. What about Rendon, is he White enough? If not, then it’s J.T.’s teammate, Harper at #19.
   1340. Mefisto Posted: April 10, 2020 at 01:07 PM (#5938284)
To me giving modern players credit for improvements in health/medicine/training etc. is like saying Scwarzkopf was a better general than Napoleon because he had tanks and jet planes.


Napoleon had more divisions, but I wouldn't bet on him against Schwarzkopf. This argument concedes the case for timelining.
   1341. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 01:49 PM (#5938297)
it is said that he is bi-racial


I mean, because he is. But yes, I think he would have been banned.

Rendon is a white Mexican-American. He probably would have been allowed to play since it was mostly based on skin color rather than actual heritage.

Similarly, Zack Britton's mom is Dominican.

(I'm not just saying this stuff, I actually am researching racial categorization as part of my current studies.)
   1342. baudib Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:01 PM (#5938307)
I want to make the argument that Bill Russell and Ben Wallace are essentially the same player. Russell's offensive deficiencies are generally overlooked, as it was a very high-scoring era and his 16-18 ppg look respectable, but in the context of constant 125-120 games, it's not that great. And he, too, was basically playing 45 minutes a game, and he's not much better at shooting free throws than Chamberlain. Although Wallace was even worse.

I don't want to overstate the case, as Russell was a phenomenal passer and a key to the Celtics' fast break.
   1343. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:05 PM (#5938311)
So there a Ruth cult among that crowd or what??


Well, there's a Ruth cult among baseball fans. But then again, the intersection of the class of 40-70 year old dudes and that of baseball fans is pretty sizable.
   1344. baudib Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:08 PM (#5938314)
So what's pretty odd is that the analytic community has not really championed the case of Willie Mays as the greatest player in baseball history. Bill James made the point that Mantle was a far greater peak player in the original HBA. He overstated the case, greatly, I believe, because he underestimated the difference in their defense. But I am pretty sure he's still favoring Mantle over Mays in the updated version too (I could be wrong on that).

I am pretty certain he's never had Mays over Ruth at any point, and I don't think anyone else has either. Maury Allen was right?
   1345. TomH Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5938330)
1) the new (2001) BJHA did not have "peak" and "career" distinct rankings, so it was simply Mays>Mantle
2) Maury Allen was indeed courageous in putting Mays #1 (and Aaron was #2, Ruth 3rd!)
3) I have no problem is someone believes timelining puts Mays over Ruth. But if you do, you need to be consistent. Ruth was a contemporary of Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig, for more than half of their careers. Ruth was clearly IMHO a better player than them all. If you put Ruth below Mays, then Cobb needs to be about even with Rickey or F Robinson, Gehrig approx= to Pujols, W Johnson in the ballpark with Seaver or Maddux.
   1346. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:43 PM (#5938331)
Just using BBREF Mays WAR finish in all of MLB from 1954-1966: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 1st, 5th, 1st, 4th, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd

Ruth had seasons like 1922 and 1925 that interrupted his dominance. Same with Walter Johnson who led multiple times but had for him off seasons. Williams had career interruptions so he could not match. Bonds had an injury in 1999 and some other just for him good seasons so could not match that. Trout is kind of close even with his 2017 season where despite the loss of time was still 9th.

But 13 seasons top five in WAR for all players with 7 times the best? That's mind-blowing.

   1347. Rally Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5938333)
I think to get Mays #1 by analysis is tricky. You need to timeline to get him past the Babe, but commit yourself to too much timelining and Bonds is #1.

Maybe an opinion that TZ/DRS understate his defensive value. As a hitter alone Mays is great, one of the very greatest ever, but not on the level of Babe/Ted/Barry, and probably Josh Gibson.

Timeline away the Babe, and discount Barry for steroids, that might do it.
   1348. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:49 PM (#5938334)
1345: Ruth was a contemporary of Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig, for more than half of their careers. Ruth was clearly IMHO a better player than them all. If you put Ruth below Mays, then Cobb needs to be about even with Rickey or F Robinson, Gehrig approx= to Pujols, W Johnson in the ballpark with Seaver or Maddux.

You write this like it's a dare? I certainly do not have a problem putting these old time players out of the top ten or lower if I was to do a list which trust me is not my focus.

   1349. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:52 PM (#5938335)
1347: Is it a struggle or flawed thinking somehow to deflate Bonds for PEDs? I don't give a #### who used but the guy was playing at a crazy never seen level in his late 30's. Seems pretty obvious he had help. Which great, but if folks are going to do these lists seems reasonable to go hey, loved what you did, but you know you had some help and that needs to be adjusted. So Joe may have done that. And seems totally reasonable. Especially since he didn't put Bonds at like 13 or something. He said you know what instead of 1 or 2 you are 3. Is that an unfair penalty? FWIW I think no
   1350. Jaack Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5938346)
I think to get Mays #1 by analysis is tricky. You need to timeline to get him past the Babe, but commit yourself to too much timelining and Bonds is #1.

Maybe an opinion that TZ/DRS understate his defensive value. As a hitter alone Mays is great, one of the very greatest ever, but not on the level of Babe/Ted/Barry, and probably Josh Gibson.

Timeline away the Babe, and discount Barry for steroids, that might do it.


That's kind of the ting with Mays - he has the least drawbacks. Ted Williams couldn't field, Walter Johnson cpuldnt hit, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth didn't play against non-whites, Barry Bonds took steroids, Hank Aaron's peak is a little low, Mickey Mantle's reign is too short, and who knows what Oscar Charleston really was.

You can't really bump Willie Mays down for anything. There's nothing against him. And it's a lot harder to argue for something than against.
   1351. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:19 PM (#5938351)
Think 1350 nails Joe's approach. Which makes a lot of sense, really
   1352. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:47 PM (#5938376)
Well, he didn't pitch.
   1353. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:47 PM (#5938377)
You can't really bump Willie Mays down for anything


And you can give him the war (and WAR) character boost, too.
   1354. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5938382)
Walter Johnson cpuldnt hit, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth didn't play against non-whites,


I'd move Johnson's weakness to the latter.
   1355. bbmck Posted: April 10, 2020 at 04:14 PM (#5938393)
The greatest sumo wrestler might have been born in 1767. Ty Cobb debuted the year after the forward pass was legalized in football and other than offensive skill position players there is sparse record keeping on individual performance until 2006. John Hannah is about the same age as Mike Schmidt and while there are ample statistics on Schmidt the case for Hannah essentially amounts to "he dominated" which makes sense considering he was (one of) the first modern linemen in terms of size, strength and athleticism while playing against linemen who are collectively vastly inferior to modern linemen. Various candidates for being near/at the top of a Poz 100 and year of birth: American Athlete - Jim Thorpe 1887, Track - Jesse Owens 1913, Sumo - Raiden Tameemon 1767, Greatest measured by earnings ($15 Billion) - Gaius Appuleius Diocles 104, Cricket - Don Bradham 1908, Hockey - Gordie Howe 1928

The NBA wasn't founded until 1946 and the NFL with the 1972 Dolphins going undefeated with an offensive line averaging 250lbs doesn't really have players from Ruth's time. Sammy Baugh born in 1914 simply doesn't have the hagiography of Ruth and 187 TD, 203 INT and 21,886 yards (or his punting or 31 defensive interceptions) is something extremely difficult to explain to John Q Public as being really good when Carson Palmer has 294 TD, 187 INT and 46,247 yards while a .342 BA and 714 HR are something Mr. Public can easily understand is really good. You can watch 90 seconds of Bob Cousy highlights who was born in 1928 but here is Game 7 of the 1962 Finals with Cousy if you're a fan of missed layups. Then partly because television creates a bigger platform that is much more likely to be viewed today as opposed to using newspaper accounts to build a case for a boxer or golfer born in the 19th century you have Muhammed Ali born in 1942, Pele 1940, Jack Nicklaus 1940 and Rod Laver 1938 who John Q Public will typically accept as being among the best ever while it's much harder to make a case for Jack Dempsey 1895, Ricardo Zamora 1901, Harry Vardon 1870 and William Renshaw 1861. Baseball has the advantage that it's numbers from "way back" are considered relevant. Jesse Owens certainly isn't famous for running a 10.3 and Harry Vardon shooting 313 to win the 1900 US Open and $200 doesn't resonate today.
   1356. bbmck Posted: April 10, 2020 at 05:07 PM (#5938414)
If you want to downgrade Mays it's amphetamines and his luck in the timing of his career other than the Korean War. Willie's 1962-1966 52.3 posWAR and 9.1 dWAR is highly suspect although possibly the 1.8 dWAR is less than or what he "should" have been getting in his 20s, but he's averaging 12 for 15 in SB so it does seem strange that his OF defense improves at a time when he and/or his manager rarely think it's a good idea for Mays to try to steal a base. If Mays is born earlier it delays the start of his MLB career, if he's born later he plays in a much more integrated and presumably stronger league, at an age when decline typically begins the leagues presumably become much weaker by adding 25% more teams. Mays does play in the NL so the overall % is somewhat misleading, Larry Doby is a marginal Hall of Famer with his case boosted by integrating the AL, the first clear non-white MLB Hall of Famer to play in the AL is when Frank Robinson is traded to the Orioles for the 1966 season. Mantle has even better timing than Mays but of course wouldn't have been hurt by being born earlier.

During the 1985 cocaine trials Mark Fainaru-Wada was 20 and he didn't cut his teeth in investigative journalism by following up on John Milner's statements about red juice and no one else picked up the slack. Mays wasn't called to testify and then investigated for perjury if he denied supplying and/or using amphetamines at which point even if he had been found not guilty on all charges the narrative would have been that the existence of the investigation proved that Mays was guilty.
   1357. EddieA Posted: April 10, 2020 at 07:24 PM (#5938468)
1985 Willie Mays was long retired and no threat to any records. AFAIK, he had never been disliked by anyone.
2003 Barry Bonds had just broken a single season home record that had been ecstatically received in 1998 and was a legit threat to the career record. He had been disliked by almost everyone. In 1998 and 1999, the bigger bodied sluggers were completely celebrated and few cared if many were doing steroids - they were professionals after all in a mano-a-mano sport and not amateur Olympic athletes competing against clocks from the past. Had it been anyone else but Barry Bonds, I don't think anyone would have cared about PEDs in MLB up to now. And the huge bodied men who exist to swing wildly and hit home runs are probably more prevalent today than they were in the steroid era.
   1358. Howie Menckel Posted: April 10, 2020 at 08:12 PM (#5938483)
people who have dealt with Mays for decades have found him to be absolutely insufferable - no joy to be around.

I'm fine with his career being No. 1 - but a cheery fellow he was not, and I suspect still is not.
   1359. kubiwan Posted: April 10, 2020 at 09:31 PM (#5938507)
I think the fact that the other 4 of Pos' top 5 wouldn't even have been allowed to play during Ruth's time


Well, to be entirely precise, 1 of the 4 actually WAS prohibited from playing. Oscar Charleston was an almost exact contemporary of Ruth, as they were born less than 2 years apart.
   1360. baudib Posted: April 10, 2020 at 10:18 PM (#5938529)
Remember when Bowie Kuhn banned Mays and Mantle temporarily from baseball for taking money to endorse casinos?
They should kick Kuhn out of the Hall of Fame.
   1361. Jaack Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:49 PM (#5938541)
It's pretty sad that

1. Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame, despite being incompetent AND morally bankrupt.

2. Bowie Kuhn is probably not in the bottom three of worst executives in the Hall of Fame because Tom Yawkey, Effa Manley, and Morgan Bulkeley exist.
   1362. TomH Posted: April 11, 2020 at 04:23 AM (#5938556)
Morgan Bulkeley? Honestly I had to look him up, as I drew a complete blank on him. The man was born in 1837, fought in the civil war, and was heavily involved (and successful) in many areas of life, including baseball.
   1363. TomH Posted: April 11, 2020 at 07:07 AM (#5938557)
JoePoz top players, and timelining: an analysis.

Not meant to be a rant. Anyone who takes on a project such as this deserves to be assessed. Joe’s list overall is excellent.

By “timelining” I believe most mean that pre-integration baseball was different, and 19th century ball was VERY different. Well, Joe’s top 50 all played after 1905, so no issues with #2.

Let’s divide Joe‘s top 50 into pre and post integration. I will place all players whose career bulk was pre-1955 in the AL and pre-1950 in the NL in the PRE category. Teddy Ballgames is Pre, Musial and Mantle are POST.

Joe’s top 10 has 6 PRE and 4 POST. His next 10 have 5 PRE; his 3rd 10 have 4 PRE. His 4th 10 have 5 PRE. His 5th 10 have 0 PRE. All in all, it appears he believes there were almost as many dominant players from over 60-70 years ago as they were in the past 60-70 years.
Broken down by pitchers or batters, Joe’s top 6 PRE arms (WJ, SP, LG, PA, CY, CM) collectively outrank the top 6 POST arms (RC, RJ, GM, PM, TS, BG); in fact #1 tops #1 , all the way through.

His top batters match up PRE vs POST quite evenly, slight edge to POST, then larger edge once we hit #40.

As to Ruth vs Mays for the #1 spot, one could ask this question: How much better was Ruth than his contemporaries, vs Mays against his, compared to equally lower spots in Joe’s rankings? Ruth could be assessed against a hybrid of Hornsby (17), Speaker (18), Ott (32), and Mays against Schmidt (20), Robinson (20), Henderson (24), for example. Who is comparatively more dominant?

If one were to take Joe’s rankings and without switching around the ordering of any contemporaries, but believing modern players to be under-represented, a re-ordering which would have 60% of POST players in the top 25 would look more like this (keeping Joe’s original # for reference)

1. Willie Mays
2. Babe Ruth
3. Barry Bonds
4. Hank Aaron
5. Oscar Charleston

9. Stan Musial
6. Ted Williams
7. Walter Johnson
11. Mickey Mantle
8. Ty Cobb

13. Roger Clemens
10. Satchel Paige
12. Honus Wagner
16. Alex Rodriguez
14. Lou Gehrig

20. Mike Schmidt
20. Frank Robinson
15. Josh Gibson
21. Joe Morgan
17. Rogers Hornsby

23. Albert Pujols
24. R Henderson
27. Mike Trout
28. Randy Johnson
30. Johnny Bench

(dropped; Speaker, Lloyd, Grove)
   1364. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:06 AM (#5938568)
1955 is too early to call the AL integrated. Even using a minimalist definition -- all teams had played at least 1 black player -- the AL didn't "integrate" until 1958. And it was a slow process even after that, as you can see from my 1336.
   1365. TomH Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:44 AM (#5938571)
could be mefisto, but that would not change much on the above list. Do you put Musial (midcareer point 1952, NL) in the PRE category? Mantle (midcareer point 1960, AL)?
   1366. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:56 AM (#5938575)
I do timeline Musial. It doesn't make any difference in my ratings. There's a good argument that I should adjust Mantle's numbers, but as of now I don't.
   1367. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:19 AM (#5938582)
Just to add re Mantle: there's a difference between timelining and relative league quality. While in his particular case timelining and league quality are related -- one reason for timelining, though not the only one, is integration -- BBREF adjusts the AL down based on relative league quality during Mantle's career and I treat that as sufficient. If someone can provide a good argument to downgrade AL players from the 50s and 60s even more, I'm open to that.
   1368. Jaack Posted: April 11, 2020 at 11:35 AM (#5938592)
Morgan Bulkeley? Honestly I had to look him up, as I drew a complete blank on him. The man was born in 1837, fought in the civil war, and was heavily involved (and successful) in many areas of life, including baseball.


Morgan Bulkeley was a very successful and important figure in Connecticut politics and business who spent one year as an owner and one year as a league president. The Old Timers Committee assumed that because he was the first NL president, he was as important as Ban Johnson, ignoring the real mastermind behind the NL, William Hulbert.


He's not a bad executive, per se, but he's an exceptionally irrelevant one. At least Bowie Kuhn was actually involved in baseball for a while.
   1369. Rally Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:04 PM (#5938600)
Tom, I get the idea of timeling a bit more strongly, but in the case of Williams vs Musial, the difference in their careers and age is only 2 years. Musial played in the stronger NL (at least after 1947), but league vs. league strength is accounted for in WAR.

I can get timelining Schmidt ahead of Hornsby or such, but let’s not let arbitrary endpoints mess up the ratings of 2 left fielders who were almost exact contemporaries.
   1370. John DiFool2 Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:34 PM (#5938604)
Fully grasp the timelining arguments, esp. the AL dragging its heels.

But here's an argument:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Aces

"In the first years after the desegregation of MLB, teams who drafted African American pitchers often converted them into position players; few were allowed to continue pitching."

Who was the first dominant A-A pitcher? Bob Gibson? Don Newcombe before he lost the battle with the bottle. Marichal if we expand the sample to include Latinos who likely wouldn't have been able to play pre-1947...

So yeah, Mantle likely lacked some position player peers in the AL during that time, so he would be getting more Black Ink love than he presumably would in a more
integrated league. But what % of their [Mays/Aaron/Musial/Williams etc.] ABs were against A-A [Latino] pitchers? I'm not sure then if Mantle then deserves a large WAR penalty.
   1371. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5938608)
BBREF treats replacement value in the NL as roughly .5 WAR/season higher than the AL during that era. I don't know how they arrived at that figure, but I'm sure you can justify it without reference to pitching at all. For example, and to reinforce the point I made in 1364: even as late as 1962, 15 of the top 16 players in the AL were white, while in the NL 14 of the top 18 were black or Latin.
   1372. TomH Posted: April 11, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5938646)
Rally, good point. I was merely postulating a thought exercise.. but it would have more effective without swapping Ted and the Man.
   1373. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2020 at 07:25 PM (#5938702)
I'm as big of a fan as Stan Musial as there is on the planet, but I'm also honest, and there is absolutely no way anyone could make an argument he was better than Williams, that wouldn't sound like a bias.

MLB's upper echelon is pretty much established... outside of Bonds(meaning relatively contemporary players), it' hard to believe that anyone is going to change the top ten even 100 years from now... You have Mays, Bonds and Ruth, which is pretty clear. rotate them however you want, I personally go Ruth, Mays, Bonds, but I knew that Pos was going to go Mays Ruth Bonds just upon reading him over the years... but I don't think anyone is ever going to break that trio.

After that you have Williams, (ignoring negro leagues) and again... I get Pos putting Aaron where he did, but Aaron was never, on his best day as great as prime Williams.... Williams is a tier unto himself... then you have Cobb, Aaron, Musial, and the start of including pitchers in the discussion... but for the most part, a contemporary player might be able to break the top 20, but not really the top ten, when you have a top ten that doesn't include Hornsby, it's a bit tough to think someone in todays game is going to join that group.
   1374. John DiFool2 Posted: April 11, 2020 at 08:27 PM (#5938710)
Not that Bill James didn't try, cardsfanboy.
   1375. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2020 at 08:40 PM (#5938711)
James hates Hornsby... I get that... but it's hard for me to imagine a top 15 without Hornsby(and no Arod is not top 20)(again ignoring Negro leagues.... which I have issues with on both sides of the argument.... so I just prefer to say that so and so, in a fair world would probably be around this level, than to include them in the final cataloging)
   1376. Booey Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:06 PM (#5938714)
#1373 - If it's basically impossible for modern players to crack the top 10 - or even the top 20 (if ARod isn't in there) - well, that's a perfect example of why we need timelining. Otherwise we're left with a list that isn't much different than one of top pitching seasons that contains nothing but 19th century pitchers.
   1377. baudib Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:10 PM (#5938715)
Griffey, A-Rod, Pujols and Thomas all had a shot to finish in the top 10 but didn't do it.

Trout has a shot to be No. 1.
   1378. Booey Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:34 PM (#5938720)
#1377 - Yes, because it's much harder to maintain that level of dominance as you age when you're competing against the best athletes from around the world, rather than against nothing but white players who were plucked from farms and factories.
   1379. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: April 11, 2020 at 09:44 PM (#5938725)
(and no Arod is not top 20)

A-Rod is 16th all-time in flat career bWAR, no timelining involved (17th in fWAR). And it's not like his peak is unimpressive; he has eight 8-WAR seasons. Unless you're either discounting him for PEDs or saying the league was better in the past, I don't see a way to leave him out of an MLB-only top 20.
   1380. Baldrick Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:07 PM (#5938727)
I was thinking today about the sports where you can make a strong argument that the best ever is currently active:
- Men's soccer: Messi
- Women's soccer: Marta
- NBA: James
- NFL: Brady
- Men's tennis: If it's not Federer, it's definitely Nadal or Djokovic.
- Women's tennis: Serena by a mile

Not sure I have a clear point here. But it feels weird. Are there any big sports where the consensus best ever is long-retired? I know almost nothing about hockey. Is Gretzky still regarded as the best by a long way? Anyone know anything about cricket? Or should we just assume that timelining is like inflation and the best player is almost always going to be someone currently active or only recently retired? That also feels unsatisfying.
   1381. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:23 PM (#5938728)
AROD is 12th among position players, and he's only 6 WAR out of the top 10. That's pretty minimal timelining. I have him 7th.
   1382. Mefisto Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:24 PM (#5938729)
Baldrick: Tiger Woods.
   1383. baudib Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:41 PM (#5938732)
#1377 - Yes, because it's much harder to maintain that level of dominance as you age when you're competing against the best athletes from around the world, rather than against nothing but white players who were plucked from farms and factories.


I mean I think it just speaks to the impressiveness of Mays and Aaron more than anything.
   1384. baudib Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:43 PM (#5938733)
re: 1380

I think most people will tell you that the top 3 hockey players all-time include 2 of Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr.

Ovechkin is acknowledged as the greatest goal scorer of all time but not for overall play. Players like Crosby and McDavid are considered the best overall players but no one really thinks they're in Gretzky/Lemieux class.
   1385. Howie Menckel Posted: April 11, 2020 at 11:11 PM (#5938741)
Is Gretzky still regarded as the best by a long way?

yes, but in a different way from Mays - who could "do it all."

imagine if Mays was significantly more dominant offensively, but his defense wasn't a big driver of his value.

that's Gretzky. he put up Bugs Bunny-level offensive numbers, to the point that is was silly to say "but is he a good forechecker?"

Orr is Koufax

Howe is Ryan, or Rose.

Lemieux is Aaron.
   1386. Jaack Posted: April 11, 2020 at 11:11 PM (#5938742)
I was thinking today about the sports where you can make a strong argument that the best ever is currently active:
- Men's soccer: Messi
- Women's soccer: Marta
- NBA: James
- NFL: Brady
- Men's tennis: If it's not Federer, it's definitely Nadal or Djokovic.
- Women's tennis: Serena by a mile

Not sure I have a clear point here. But it feels weird. Are there any big sports where the consensus best ever is long-retired? I know almost nothing about hockey. Is Gretzky still regarded as the best by a long way? Anyone know anything about cricket? Or should we just assume that timelining is like inflation and the best player is almost always going to be someone currently active or only recently retired? That also feels unsatisfying.


I'm not a boxing guy, but I think the consensus GOAT choices are Muhammed Ali, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Mayweather may be on the outside of the discussion, but I don't think he's perceived at being at the same level. Of course, the lack of modern canidadtes may be because it's kind of a dead sport.

Some sports like Golf and Hockey seem to spread their candidates out across the decades. I don't think baseball is much different then them, it's just missing a legitimate candidate from the 70s and 80s, and the 90s/00s guy is exceptionally controversial and disliked. If Mike Trout continues to be Mike Trout into his 30s, I imagine he'll join the upper crust pantheon and we'll have a pretty solid line from Cobb to Ruth to Williams to Mays to Bonds to Trout with just that aformentioned gap.
   1387. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 12, 2020 at 12:33 AM (#5938748)
Anyone know anything about cricket?


Don Bradman by a HUGE margin as a batsman only. Dude averaged 99.94 with the bat and the next best is another Aussie playing now, Steve Smith who averages around 63.

No one has really done a comprehensive WAR like value system where you can compare batsman, bowlers and allrounders. In cricket you've got historically great allrounders who average 30 with the bat, but are also bowling, have taken over 300 wickets at a clip of 22-25 runs per wicket(which is seriously good).

So it's really hard to say if Don Bradman was actually the greatest cricketer of all time as opposed to say Richard Hadley, a Kiwi player who was an insanely good bowler who averaged 35 with the bat. Most bowlers average less then 10 when batting.

Bradman was by far the best bestman ever, even if you timeline I don't think others come close in that area.

   1388. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: April 12, 2020 at 12:44 AM (#5938749)
#1373 - If it's basically impossible for modern players to crack the top 10 - or even the top 20 (if ARod isn't in there) - well, that's a perfect example of why we need timelining. Otherwise we're left with a list that isn't much different than one of top pitching seasons that contains nothing but 19th century pitchers.


Agree with this. If the best players today, with the larger number of teams and the number of international players, can't routinely crack the top 10. then we are thinking about this all wrong. The players today are bigger, stronger, have better training/nutrition/medical treatment, stay in shape year-round, have the advantage of technology to improve their games etc. It just can't be the case that almost all the best players started their careers 70-100 years ago. Being a really big fish in a small pond doesn't necessarily make you better than being a big fish in a big pond.

I was thinking today about the sports where you can make a strong argument that the best ever is currently active:


Its a much shorter list of sports that you can't make a strong argument that a current participant/very recently retired is the best of all time. Here are some more examples:

swimming - Phelps
women skiing - Shiffrin
motor racing - Hamilton
long distance running - Kipchoge
gymnastics - Biles
sprinting - Bolt
   1389. Howie Menckel Posted: April 12, 2020 at 01:15 AM (#5938752)
   1390. baudib Posted: April 12, 2020 at 02:46 AM (#5938756)
I think Aaron is a bad analogy for Lemieux. I think it's more like Gretzky is Ruth who played in the 1980s, and Lemieux is Barry Bonds who lost about 5 years worth of games due to injuries.
   1391. baudib Posted: April 12, 2020 at 03:04 AM (#5938758)
Or Clemens (assuming Clemens is the greatest pitcher of all time) = Gretzky, Pedro = Lemieux
   1392. Rally Posted: April 12, 2020 at 09:55 AM (#5938799)
Damn you Howie

Well done though, I was not expecting that
   1393. Rally Posted: April 12, 2020 at 10:06 AM (#5938801)
In basketball I think the idea of Lebron as greatest ever took hold early on. Not a universal opinion (it still isn’t), but I think some were willing to make the call based on peak ability.

Trout does well on ‘most WAR by age x’, but I don’t people are as willing to make a similar call. The 162 game baseball season is a grind, fast starts fizzle and there are plenty of twists before the final record is in the books.

I think we take a similar approach to evaluating player careers. As great as Trout is, he needs to keep doing this till he’s 40 to rank with Mays and Bonds. We just can’t know that he won’t decline in his 30’s like Pujols and Griffey.
   1394. dlf Posted: April 12, 2020 at 04:45 PM (#5938906)
Poz announced his #1 selection a little early on his blog rather than via The Athletic. While others may expect Mays and some guessed Kuiper, his pick was ...

Link
   1395. Ron J Posted: April 12, 2020 at 06:34 PM (#5938942)
1385 indeed. Mark Messier was a long-time teammate and far closer to a complete player. And while he was a superb player (almost) nobody doubted that Gretzky was far better.

In his prime Gretzky forced other teams to adjust to an absurd degree. When Edmonton was a man down he, Kurri and Coffey were such a threat that most teams didn't run their regular power play.

Another thing he did that was highly unusual is that when changing on the fly he was always the first to go on regardless of who came off. He'd just slot in at whatever position, meaning that he basically played with everyone.
   1396. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2020 at 06:59 PM (#5938951)
As I mentioned a few pages back...

It's very difficult to crack the top of the career WAR leaderboard, because of how the early-career pitching numbers skew things. But that doesn't have much to do with the quality of competition argument rather than the nature of the sport.

The position player leaderboard, on the other hand, has a really nice distribution through the years.

Here's the Top 24 (the photos on the position player WAR leaderboard), sorted by decade of greatest impact:

1880s: 1
1900s: 2
1910s: 3
1920s: 2
1930s: 2
1940s: 2
1950s: 2
1960s: 4
1970s: 1
1980s: 2
1990s: 1
2000s: 2
   1397. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: April 12, 2020 at 07:10 PM (#5938955)
And another thing about Gretzky (and other GOAT candidates) - they’re often so dominant that sports governing bodies change the rules to limit their dominance. The NCAA did this with Kareem, outlawing the dunk. And the NHL did it with respect to coincidental minors. Previously, and again now, when the two teams had coincidental minor penalties, they would both be served, so the teams would play 4 on 4 for those two minutes. But those Oilers, and Gretzky in particular, were so lethal 4 on 4 with all that extra open space, that they temporarily changed the rule so that the teams would stay 5 on 5 if coincidental minor penalties occurred.
   1398. Howie Menckel Posted: April 12, 2020 at 07:45 PM (#5938970)
yes, was going to add that re Gretzky and the rule change.

but nobody could stop him.

I used to enjoy not the NHL points race - which was a joke - but seeing if Gretzky could rack up more assists than anyone could rack up goals PLUS assists.

Gretzky led the league in assists in each of his first 13 seasons (!) and then three more times in assists as well. he placed 3rd in assists in the WHA - very much a "major" league in 1978-79 - which was pretty good for an 18-year-old kid.

only led the league in goals a mere 6 times, but led in points in his first 8 seasons and 11 times overall.




   1399. John DiFool2 Posted: April 12, 2020 at 08:32 PM (#5938972)
And another thing about Gretzky (and other GOAT candidates) - they’re often so dominant that sports governing bodies change the rules to limit their dominance. The NCAA did this with Kareem, outlawing the dunk.


I doubt the former did much to stop Kareem--he just went & perfected his sky hook.

Hockey Reference has downrated Wayne's stats for comparison across eras. But the high-scoring 80's were in no small part a result of his tactics influencing what the rest of the league then did. Annnd note that this argument could also be used to boost the Babe's rank...
   1400. Ron J Posted: April 12, 2020 at 08:42 PM (#5938977)
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