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Top Twenty Left Fielders: Updated and Corrected

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The other day in my Luis Gonzalez post, I had a table that listed the top 20 left fielder of all-time, ranked by JAWS. The only issue was that in my rush to complete the list, I happened to forget two prominent players on the list. So here is the completed table:

Top Twenty LF'ers by JAWS
Player Career WARP3 Peak WARP JAWS BRAR BRAA FRAA
Barry Bonds 226.2 100.2 163.2 1675 1373 128
Stan Musial 193.2 88.6 140.9 1422 1082 67
Ted Williams 164.4 89.4 126.9 1398 1166 -24
Rickey Henderson 175.5 74.6 125.1 1219 840 41
Carl Yastrzemski 137.3 63.7 100.5 990 589 47
Tim Raines 128.7 71.4 100.1 866 569 36
Jim O'Rourke 128.9 56.0 92.5 579 309 -58
Ed Delahanty 110.5 71.3 90.9 746 513 -11
Billy Williams 110.8 62.8 86.8 801 493 64
Luis Gonzalez 104.8 60.2 82.5 581 319 89
Al Simmons 104.1 60.1 82.1 652 378 45
Bob Johnson 96.4 60.4 78.4 633 407 2
Albert Belle 85.3 71.2 78.3 638 445 -18
Willie Stargell 99.4 56.3 77.9 860 597 -84
Manny Ramirez 96.5 59.0 77.8 791 594 -66
Joe Medwick 92.2 60.3 76.3 628 391 43
Fred Clarke 100.9 51.4 76.2 673 387 44
Jesse Burkett 94.7 56.1 75.4 741 478 -54
Brian Giles 82.7 63.8 73.3 566 412 140
George Foster 85.7 60.2 73.0 515 279 27

A couple of things. There were some complaints about some aspects of this table, such as "Brian Giles is in no way the best defensive left fielder ever." Obviously, Giles isn't. He just happens to have the most Fielding Runs Above Average in the top 20 left fielder list, which is comprised entirely of big bats.

There also seemed to be this feeling that I was pushing Luis Gonzalez for Cooperstown. I was simply showing how close he actually was, which I knew would be a surprise to many -- it surprised me, and I purposely seek out weird statistical nuggets like that. Luis Gonzalez at present is not a Hall of Famer; he's a little short, and a few more league average seasons would give him the value he needs.

Another point...there seems to be this idea that Luis Gonzalez was a fringe starter who revived a career that he never really had when he came to Arizona. Has anyone taken a look at his WARP3 scores?

  • Year by Year WARP3
  • 1991: 5.6
  • 1992: 4.2
  • 1993: 8.4
  • 1994: 6.2
  • 1995: 7.0
  • 1996: 5.6
  • 1997: 5.1
  • 1998: 4.7
  • 1999: 8.0
  • 2000: 8.2
  • 2001: 13.0
  • 2002: 6.9
  • 2003: 8.7
  • 2004: 3.1
  • 2005: 6.1
Somewhere around 4.5 WARP3 is league average. Luis Gonzalez has had one season out of 16 where he was a below average player according to WARP3, and within that one season he only played in 105 games due to injury. For those who questioned his defensive play, Gonzalez is not quite the defender he used to be, but back in his Houston days he seems to have been quite the fielder, which would account for the high FRAA value. I'll close by saying that Luis Gonzalez is not quite a Hall of Famer, but he is much more qualified than some of the guys the Hall are thinking about inducting, like Jim Rice, who ranks 28th on this list of left fielders, whereas Gonzo ranks 10th. He has the longevity, and he has a better peak.

I understand it seems like it isn't the case, but if you take a look at the numbers, Gonzalez has had a fine career, with some very good seasons outside of his Arizona time, and when the Hall doesn't take him, he'll be one of the better players in the Ray Lankford Wing.