I'm very, very excited by what we can do now with Sean Smith's updated WAR database. The top 300 player index hasn't been updated yet, but I don't need the index to know who 5 of the best players of all time were. For our first look into the golden age of baseball, I picked the top 5 players listed by the Society of American Baseball Research (more commonly known as SABR) from their 1999 top 100 list: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Stan Musial. Here are their careers by Wins Above Replacement.
- Babe Ruth's path includes his pitching numbers and hitting numbers. With his pitching included, he's clearly the best player of all time, at a whopping 190 wins above replacment. This total beats Barry Bonds's total by 16.1 wins.
- Hank Aaron may be the most consistently great player ever, aside from the Babe. Aaron posted 14 seasons at 7 wins or higher.
- Gehrig's career, cut short by ALS, was still historically incredible despite being easily the shortest, in terms of greatness and pure longevity, of the 5 shown here.
- Although I'm nowhere near the first or last to mention it, Ted Williams's career was one of the best in history despite losing peak years to fight in two separate wars.
- Stan Musial may not be as well known by the younger generations as he should be. Clearly, Musial was one of a group of legendary players.
- Look at that average HOF line! Gehrig's 14th worst season is the first one to even intersect with it! This is the kind of performance that lives on forever.