With JinAZ writing lists of the top players according to position according to WAR, I decided to to make a general ranking of the top Negro League players. I would love to use some form of stats, but the stats for the Negro League are currently incomplete. I was able to find out the following from Larry Lester, the person in charge of compiling and releasing Negro League stats:
"The stats from the project are being edited and hopefully finalize by next summer. Until then, we are not releasing incomplete stats."
I wanted to get an average ranking of the players and to use a variety of sources I could find, so I ranked any player that was listed in the following 6 sources twice:
- Few and Chosen: Defining Negro League Greatness by Monte Irvin
- 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll of 31 negro League players, writers, officals and managers (3rd post down the page)
- 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll of its fans (3rd post down)
- Participated in 5 or more Negro League All-Star Games
- Bill James Top 100 Ranking of all baseball players
- Bill James Ranking of Negro League position players (no pitchers were ranked separately).
I would love to incorporate more rankings and if you know of any rankings, please let me know. Then I counted the number of times a player is listed and ranked them according to the total number of lists they made. If there was a tie, I used the rankings of the sources to differentiate the players further. This was far from a perfect scientific method, but should give a general idea of how each player ranked. Also, this is more of a list of players that played significant time in the Negro Leagues as seen by the lower ranks of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
List after Jump
Note: There is only one case where I moved two players up and it was in the outfield. Oscar Charleston and Cristobal Torreinte where both ranked higher than Cool Papa Bell in every survey and the pair didn't get a value of 6 because they didn't participate in 5 All Star Games.
Many of the players played several position and I marked players that easily could have been ranked at another position. Also, a designation of the players in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
|Catchers||Number of List Name Appears On||Variety of Positions||Baseball Hall of Fame|
|6||Double Duty Radcliffe||3|
|5||Sammy T. Hughes||2|
|3||Sam Banheart (Bankhead)||4||x|
|8||Pee Wee Butts||2|
|3||Cool Papa Bell||6||x|
|2||"Smokey" Joe Williams||4||x|
|3||"Bullet" Joe Rogan||3||x||x|