IT’S FINALLY HERE: “OPENING DAY” FOR THIS PAGE
3/19/2022 Update: You can view and download the Career WAR and RetroPlay Rating (RPR) data connected to a final total of 18,855 MLB/NLB qualified players (1871-2020) right here on this page. The current plan is to make available all of the site-wide download opportunities for free as we (that is, I) proceed with all 150 birthplace-based season-simulations (historic “replays”). After that is accomplished and all of the results are ready to be released, a book/books may be published, so at that time, the free downloads will probably cease (when I finally ask for token remuneration for all of my work). But between now and then, I’ve got a lot of replayin’ on my plate, so explore this site for all its worth.
THE GIST FOR THIS PAGE
This is another RetroPlay.net “meat-and-potatoes” page. The tedious work of data entry, data re-entry, and data RE-re-entry, et cetera, is now in the past and “in the books.” Players across all eras of MLB/NLB (1871 through 2020) can now be ranked by performance metrics (both “counting stats” and “rate stats”). Because all of the metrics used here will be “looking back” in time to speculate about “what if?” scenarios — and because I’m just a bit pretentious, maybe? — I style this whole business as, “Retro-specu-metrics” (or, mashed together and hyphen-less, retrospecumetrics).
To be clear, though, the metrics themselves that are used here (Wins Above Replacement [WAR] and WAR-per-162 games formulas) are NOT my inventions; sabermetric giants like Bill James, John Thorn, and Pete Palmer, to name just a chosen few, have come up with all of the good stuff, and I’m just applying their metrics in my own ways that certainly appear to be unique. [By which I mean that nobody else — that I know of — has spent the vast amount of time necessary to “re-assign” nearly 19,000 historical MLB/NLB “qualified” players to teams based solely on BIRTHPLACE; to gather all of the pertinent WAR data [several times, so many “re-gatherings” became necessary when Baseball-Reference or Seamheads updated their figures!]; to come up with a simple, shortcut, single-number “career impact” rating system that appears to be about as valid as most other systems in its ability to identify who really belongs in the Hall of Fame, if only numbers are/were considered (voting politics and character/social issues set entirely aside, FWIW)].
In summary, here’s what’s unique about this whole RetroPlay project and the RetroPlay.net website:
1. I decided more than 20 years ago that I wanted to take a detailed look at the ultimate “What if?” baseball history scenario, or as I’ve sometimes called it, “Baseball History Viewed Through An Entirely New Lens”; I’d “replay/simulate” every year (1871 through 2020) of Major-League Baseball with (virtual) squads based solely on birthplaces;
2. As soon as Negro League [Black] Baseball stats began to appear in credible compilations (like The Baseball Encyclopedia, Eighth-Tenth Editions, for example), I caught the vision of including at least the best, most-prominent players in all aspects of the growing project. Prior to that, the necessary numbers were simply not available, but especially when the folks at Seamheads started methodically pumping them out for public consumption, I was thrilled: “Hey, this is possible now!” As a result, “our” combined MLB/NLB, all-eras player directory could finally be constructed, and until Major League Baseball (Inc., the corporate entity running the show) officially recognized 7 NLB leagues as full-fledged “major leagues” in 2020/21 — consequently declaring all of the players involved in those leagues as genuine major-leaguers — the RetroPlay project and webpages were unique in this respect, too. Again, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only one doing these things (truth be told, I’d beaten MLB to the punch years before they rightfully, even if belatedly, decided to give NLB players their just due). [Not many people would know me from Adam, including any of the baseball-powers elite, of course. Still, … I’m just sayin’… ]
But enough about all of that, because we’ve got solid, definitive output to display here and now. Below are two mega-files, side-by-side in scroll form, that combine to present, IMHO, a fairly-accurate picture of how 18,855 historical MLB/NLB players could be ranked; these rankings are based on the real numbers, and they have nothing to do with any “fantasy league” replay/simulation aspect of the overall project. On the left side of the page, players are ranked by Career WAR (CW), and — in case you’re wondering — 10,711 of the RetroPlay system’s total of 18,855 players were found to be above zero (0.0) in that category. Next door, on the right side of the page, the same players are ranked by RetroPlay Rating (RPR); this is “our” definitive ranking at this website. It’s seen here as the best shortcut stat to measure both total career production AND production rate per an average full-season’s worth of games played (162 is the standard for position players, and 68 Games + Games Started is the standard for pitchers). So without further ado, here’s how RetroPlay.net ranks all of the historical MLB/NLB players who had at least one season of 10/more Plate Appearances or 9/more Innings Pitched. The Excel-type version link is first, with the PDF version link directly below that (419 pages, either way):
Okay now, I ask you: where else can you find such voluminous data in one stop — a single website — on your baseball summary-stats rounds? Something to keep in mind: the numbers presented here have been compiled from 1871 through 2020 (only). For updated numbers on those few active players (as of 2021) who are “on track” for either “our” Hall Of Fame or THE Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown — which are caught-up with Baseball-Reference, as of 2/26/22 — go to our page at this site: AWARDSTOWN.
Next, on this page: Players ranked by position. The same criteria will be used (CW and RPR), and players who logged at least 500 MLB/NLB games at a given position will be eligible to be ranked at that position (allowances made for 19th Century and Negro League players, due to shorter season schedules). Several players logged sufficient game-appearances at multiple positions. Best examples: Pete Rose (1B-2B-3B-LF-RF), Joe Torre (C-1B-3B), Martin Dihigo (SS and P), and the Babe himself (RF-LF-P). Players fitting this category are denoted by names in red print in the files linked to below. Wherever the “Top 50” or “Top 1000” are listed, these red-letter, multi-position players do NOT take up a space on that particular position’s list, since they appear on more than one position’s list, and the idea is to recognize the top 50 position-specific players at each post on the diamond (or top 1000, in the case of pitchers). [Why 1,000 pitchers, and only 400 non-pitchers? Think of the typical 25-man roster: usually, 10 of those 25 are pitchers, and you can still almost go two-deep at each of the other positions (15 of 16, considered in this light); most teams — for about half of MLB history now — have structured their rosters to include those 10 pitchers — starters/long-relief or swing-men/relief specialists — and 2 or 3 catchers, 6-7 infielders, and 4-5 outfielders; this equates to a typical roster-composition ratio of 2.5 to 1 for pitchers to non-pitchers, so therefore, we’re just maintaining that ratio by picking 1000 and 400, respectively].
Additional notes on the “methodology” employed here: A) Rankings based on RPR first, CW second, and B) (In most cases) at least 500 career MLB/NLB appearances at the particular position. After determining the Top 50 by these criteria at each position (C-1B-2B-3B-SS-LF-CF-RF, for a preliminary total of 400 from these) and the Top 1000 Pitchers, there was room for the aforementioned multi-position-qualified players and 17 more “next in line” players (“at-large” among all positions) to make the total of the 1500 best. Armed with all of that background info, RetroPlay.net presents…
Best 1500 Players in the First 150 Years of Major League Baseball
Want to see if a particular player is on the list? Here are alphabetical listings (Excel-type scroll top, PDF scroll below that):
And, now, the breakdown by each specific position, in official scorebook position-numbering order (P=1; C=2; 1B=3; 2B=4; 3B=5; SS=6; LF=7; CF=8; RF=9). Remember what was said above about the red-letter, multi-position players and why the lists go beyond 50 (or 1,000) players at each position. Here we go…
Finally, for this 3/19/22 session, here is the full list of the 10,700+ players who had a Career WAR (CW) above zero (0.0), ranked by RPR, in scrolling form; grouped by positions (REM: red-letter players appear in more than one position grouping). There are 238 pages in either Excel-type format or PDF:
With that, we’re calling this page opener-ready on Saturday, March 19, 2022. For the Top 300 — those players who have merited inclusion in the RetroPlay RE-set Hall Of Fame, or “20/20 Hindsight H.O.F,” follow the link to the dedicated page: AWARDSTOWN. In any case, enjoy your roaming around RetroPlay Park.