Eras and 30-year Grids

Eras and 30-year Grids


Look for piecemeal, incremental updates all the way up to wholesale changes on ALL pages in the next few months. The “staff” has now begun to do the actual posting of the results of “our” years of time-consuming research, data entry and re-re-RE-entry (WAR figures often needed to be updated), as well as several format or system-design adjustments. This same heads-up will appear on each website page until everything’s in place. Here is a final(?) version of this page dated 2/25/2022:


It seems that at least a majority of baseball historians and compilers of official/quasi-official publications consider the years 1871 through 2020 as the “First 150” of “major-league” baseball. Some will contend for 1876 as the real start of Major League Baseball (usually abbreviated as “MLB” hereafter, and site-wide), since that year marked the founding of the National League, the only league in existence for all 145 years of that span (1876 through 2020). By that reckoning, the National Association that ran from 1871 through 1875 is dismissed as illegitimate for its lack of: a) true, top-flight professional ballplayers; b) franchise and scheduling integrity; and/or c) league organization on the whole, from drawing-board to on-the-fly execution; all in all, a slip-shod operation at worst, and only a precursor to real MLB at best. [Side note: the one-season-and-done Union Association of 1884 is another controversial league that is not always accorded genuine historical MLB status, and, depending on the day and the writer/speaker, I’ve found that I can land on either side of that issue].

But since I prefer maximum symmetry, consistency, and simplicity, we’re going with the following:

1) All 150 years, from 1871 through 2020 (the project’s end-year);

2) The National Association and the Union Association records are included in the project’s scope;

3) Organized “Negro League Baseball” (NLB) player records are incorporated wherever feasible;

4) FIVE Eras of 30 years (seasons) each; just the right amount to fit a landscape-oriented printable page;

5) BIRTHPLACE is the sole-determiner for each player’s team assignment (by design from the start);

6) Actual, historical MLB/NLB W.A.R. (“Wins Above Replacement” or most often simply, WAR) values — supplied by (and in some NLB cases, and fixed in place for RetroPlay purposes before any updates made by source sites in 2022 — form the sole statistical basis for determining team WAR and (virtual) champions in each seasonal “replay” (simulated season). Note, however, that positional integrity must be observed (all 9 positions individually covered over the course of a full season’s scheduled games);

7) WAR and average WAR per 162 games (baseline for full-season computation) are multiplied by each other and rounded down to the nearest whole number to determine the RetroPlay Rating (RPR) for “career impact”; this figure can be a negative integer, but is almost always 0 or positive, and is the most-used criterion to rank players within groups and lists. “We” believe RPR is exclusive to — I haven’t seen it anywhere else! — and is a straightforward, commonsense ranking stat that rewards both exceptionally-high career WAR numbers (accumulation via longevity/durability) AND exceptionally-high full-season production, year in and year out (consistent seasonal dominance relative to peers); “we” like this measurement and think it’s valid, but there is also the recognition on “our” part that the professional number-crunchers can probably poke holes in the methodology or quibble with what the number (RPR) actually indicates; nonetheless, “we” forge on …


Era I = 1871 through 1900 (entire 19th Century period of “MLB” play); this era is specifically covered on this page: (Early Baseball — 19th Century); however, here are copies of Grid number one (O[BL]1, 50 pgs.) in Excel spreadsheet form (top), and PDF (bottom), so all ten (10) Grids are here in one place:

Era II = 1901 through 1930 (first 30 years of “modern day major-league baseball”; NLB founding years). For the data on/coming out of this foundational period, see the Excel spreadsheets (grids) O[BL] 2-1 (79 pgs.) and 2-2 (29 pages). Download links are immediately below, and PDF versions of the same are just below those:

Era III = 1931 through 1960 (next 30-year period of established stability, previous to expansion in 1961); data spreadsheets/grids from this era (O[BL]3-1 [70 pgs.] and 3-2 [37 pgs.]) can be downloaded here (Excel versions top, PDF versions below those):

Era IV = 1961 through 1990 (expansion of teams and rosters, advent of relief specialists; more “global” make-up); data spreadsheets/grids from this era (O[BL]4-1 [58 pgs.] and 4-2 [52 pgs.]) can be downloaded here (Excel versions top, PDF versions below those):

Era V = 1991 through 2020 (last 30 of 150; final MLB expansion, inter-league regular-season play; a truly “global” game); data spreadsheets/grids from this era (O[BL]5-1 [65 pgs.], 5-2 [56 pgs.], and 5-3 [44 pgs.]) can be downloaded here (Excel versions top, PDF versions below those):

[Notes: a) although the RetroPlay birthplace- and WAR-based season replay/simulation project ends with the 2020 season, players who appear to be on track to gain admission to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (the real one in Cooperstown) or merely to the RetroPlay RE-set [virtual] Hall of Fame (alternatively, the “20/20 Hindsight H.O.F.”) will be tracked — from time to time at this website — beyond 2020; b) to anyone interested in the (virtual replay) team standings under the RetroPlay system in 2021(+): you should have most of the tools (supplied here, and by to proceed with your own simulation(s) beyond the 2020 season (whether birthplace is used as your roster-determining basis or not, just add in new players and tabulate the team WAR values — again, keeping positional integrity in mind — to arrive at the fresh results); c) in any case, have “mental fun” with this for years to come.]

Okay, that should do it. You now have a total of 10 Grids covering the first 150 years of Major League Baseball (including most organized NLB seasons) to display or print out (540 pages total) in Excel, PDF, or both. Once you start perusing and working with these nuts-and-bolts files, I think you’ll appreciate how they’ve been constructed, and just how much info is packed into each page of each 30-year Grid. But there’s so much more to this overall RetroPlay baseball history and replay project; the whole story is told in component parts on the various pages of this site. Use the menu to explore what’s offered here; click on the links; get the free downloads; and take off in your own direction! [Updated on February 25, 2022]