27 October 2006

The Greatest Baseball Roster Ever

Bill James, an economist and formulator of the baseball statistical analysis system known as sabermetrics, was asked who he would pick for a roster of all-time greats.

James' statistical analysis is pretty rigorous (think of operations research). He can even measure the contribution made by one player to a team's overall performance. Pretty impressive. And he pays close attention to differences in the game over the years to better compare players from different eras. Also very important.

Here's his all-time roster:

P: Roger Clemens
C: Yogi Berra
1B: Lou Gherig
2B: Joe Morgan (yes!)
SS: Honus Wagner
3B: Mike Schmidt
LF: Ted Williams
CF: Willie Mays
RF: Babe Ruth

These are great players who performed at a high level for many years. But there are many players who were great for a short time. I wouldn't turn down an early 60s Sandy Koufax, for example. From '61 to '66 he posted a 124-57 record with over 1700Ks. Not too shabby. I also think Nolan Ryan never got enough credit because he always got stuck with crappy teams. I'd take him for sure.

I'd look for a way to pick someone besides Clemens, I guess that's basically what I'm saying.


Mark said...

Yogi Berra over Johnny Bench? And I'm not putting down Willie Mays but he played long past his prime. You'd think that would pull down his ranking.

TravisG said...

His Historical Abstract is one of the best books I've ever read. I'm not sure which method he used to pick this team, but James uses one method to pick the five best consecutive years (based on win shares, one of his metrics) in a player's career, which I would guess he used for this.

Take a look at Yogi's numbers; they're pretty amazing. Same goes for Mays, especially when you put them into context for the period in which he played.

KatieG said...

Jack Morris. 3 teams, 3 world series championships. i'm sure there are others with better "stats" -- but like my NFL QBs, I prefer those that actually win with their teams, than those that rack up statistics.
(i.e., Brady over Manning, every day of the week)

oh, and i hate roger clemens.

Louis said...

Tom Seaver.