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Was the 1975 Red's Lineup the Best Ever as Joe Posnanski Claims in His New Book: "The Machine"?

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Joe Posnanski recently released his book, "The Machine", on the 1975 Cincinnati Reds with specific emphasis on the lineup.  I will let Joe describe, as he does best, the Reds lineup in his article about the book on cnnsi.com:

There had never been a lineup quite like it. Yes, the famed 1927 New York Yankees had four Hall of Famers in their Murderers' Row -- including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig -- and averaged more than six runs per game. The Boys of Summer Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s had Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella and were a beautiful blend of power and speed. But the lineup Sparky Anderson put on the field on July 4, 1975, had something more. The Reds had power and speed too. More, though, there were three African-Americans in the lineup, three Latin Americans and two white Americans -- and Bench had Native American blood. They were the Great American Ballclub.

To find the quality of players on the teams mentioned, I decided to use Rally's WAR rankings to see how the 1975 Reds stood up to the 1927 Yankees and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. To make the comparison I added the lifetime WAR of all the players on the teams and here are the results:

 


1927 Yankees 1955 Dodgers 1975 Reds
Hitting – All Player's WAR 422 379 420
Pitching – All Players WAR 175 187 111
Total WAR 597 566 531
Hitting – Negative WAR players removed 435 404 462
Pitching – Negative WAR players removed 179 189 113
Total WAR 614 593 575

I removed the players with negative for an additional comparison because most of these players were only on the team for a short time and could subtract from greatness of the teams.

 

The 1975 Reds, when compared to these 2 teams, has about the same level of offense as the 1927 Yankees, but is better once the negative players are removed. The Red's pitching staff is the worst of the three with them accumulating 77 less wins than the 1955 Dodgers. When the totals for the hitters and pitchers are added up, the 75 Reds are last of the three in total WAR.

 

Here are the team's players that accumulated more that had more than 10 WAR in their lifetime:

Yankees Lifetime WAR Dodgers Lifetime WAR Reds Lifetime WAR
Babe Ruth (h) 172 Duke Snider 68 Joe Morgan 104
Lou Gehrig 118 Pee Wee Reese 67 Pete Rose 75
Tony Lazzeri 48 Jackie Robinson 63 Johnny Bench 71
Urban Shocker 47 Sandy Koufax 55 Tony Perez 51
Waite Hoyt 47 Gil Hodges 45 George Foster 43
Earle Combs 45 Jim Gilliam 39 Dave Concepcion 34
Bob Shawkey 40 Roy Campanella 36 Ken Griffey 32
Herb Pennock 37 Carl Furillo 35 Gary Nolan 27
Bob Meusel 24 Don Newcombe 30 Dan Driessen 20
Dutch Ruether 20 Johnny Podres 27 Merv Rettenmund 19
Babe Ruth (p) 18 Don Hoak 20 Fred Norman 18
George Pipgras 10 Carl Erskine 17 Clay Carroll 17


Roger Craig 17 Don Gullett 17


Russ Meyer 11 Clay Kirby 11


Clem Labine 10 Cesar Geronimo 11

 

All I can say is that damn Ruth was great. His lifetime combined WAR of 190 is only 8 less than that of Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson's total (198 WAR).

 

Using lifetime WAR of the players as an comparison, the other two teams JoPo brings up are better overall, but the Red's lineup in 1975 can be debated as the best of the three.