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Does Aaron Make It In All-Time Best Outfield?

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#1 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:21 PM

He makes my all time outfield: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Henry Aaron.
But think of whom is left out - Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Oscar Charleston, Rickey Henderson, Wee Willie Keeler, Joe DiMaggio, Mike Trout, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Barry Bonds, Ed Delahanty, Stan Musial (but he moved to first base). ...
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#2 ashbury

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:28 PM

He makes my all time outfield: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Henry Aaron.
But think of whom is left out - Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Oscar Charleston, Rickey Henderson, Wee Willie Keeler, Joe DiMaggio, Mike Trout, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Barry Bonds, Ed Delahanty, Stan Musial (but he moved to first base). ...

IMO you are significantly underestimating Mays.

 

Only 3 OF is rough.
 

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#3 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 01:25 PM

Reducing it to three is tough. Babe Ruth is probably the only lock. I left Mays off because of his mediocre final two seasons. OK -Hammering Hank had two mediocre final seasons - but he gets boost from breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Ted Williams was the toughest one to leave off the list.

#4 Nine of twelve

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:52 PM

 

Reducing it to three is tough.

Reducing it to three is impossible.

 

Babe Ruth is the best baseball player ever, but that's partly because no other player who would even be considered for that description was both an elite pitcher and an elite batter. Even so I'd still include him here because no other player has ever been so far beyond his contemporaries. After Ruth there's no such thing as naming two players who clearly stand out above the rest. I'm not going to try to do that, but I will mention a few things.

Frank Robinson should be considered.

Willie Mays played many games at Candlestick Park, known for less-than-ideal baseball weather.

Hank Aaron played many games at Fulton County Stadium, which was also called the launching pad because of batter-friendly outfield dimensions and less dense air than any other major league venue (until the Rockies came into existence).

Ted Williams lost three seasons in the prime of his career (the seasons in which he turned 25, 26, and 27) due to military service.

Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash before his career would have otherwise ended.

Is Ken Griffey, Jr. a candidate?

Oscar Charleston and James Bell? We'll never know.

 

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#5 gagu

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 03:55 PM

gI would have Ruth and Cobb as locks.

The third slot is tough. Aaron, Mays, or Williams. I'd go with Mays because of his exceptional defense. Mays had an 18.2 career dWAR.Aaron and Williams had negative career dWARs, as did Puckett andHenderson. Griffey Jr. ended at 2.2, Dimaggio at 3.2. Clemente finished at 12.2 after his final,age 37 season. Mays was at 20,4 at that same age. Mays "only" hit 660 home runs, 95 less than Aaron, but with 1444 less plate appearances, and Mays finished with a higher OPS.

Aaron or Williams in the #4 slot? I'll give it to the latter. Williams gave up three prime seasons while serving our country in WWII, and virtually of of his age 33 and 34 seasons to the war in Korea. He still played in all or parts of 19 seasons. 

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#6 biggentleben

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 04:15 PM

Aaron's defense was hurt by doing a lot for the team (like playing 1B for a spell when he was still a highly-regarded fielder).

 

The tweet that was exceptional to me was that many view HOF candidacy on a player's best 7 years. If you take Aaron's best 7 years, they're obviously elite. His next best 7 years are also incredible. The next 7 best years, he averaged 26 home runs and a better wRC+ than roughly half of HOF hitters. It's incredible to consider just how good he was and for how long he was consistently good.

 

The man hit 755 home runs without ever hitting 50 and only leading the league one time. He struck out at a lower rate than Babe Ruth, and his slugging percentage is the highest of any HOF player against HOF pitchers.

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#7 AceWrigley

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 05:03 PM

LF-CF-RF . . . Ruth-Mays-Aaron . . . I win. :)

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#8 jkcarew

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:07 PM

Pretty easy to make an argument that Mays was better than Aaron even offensively...and defense wasn’t close. Contemporaries considered Aaron as ‘underrated’...for the very reason that he was constantly in the shadow of Mays (and occasionally other semi-mortals like Frank Robinson, etc.). And, it’s not like Mays didn’t deserve it. But, Hank had the last laugh by simply maintaining excellence and health a little longer than all the others...and he also played in the perfect home ballpark in the back end of his career. Still, Aaron is maybe in the top 3 OF all-time.  But, there’s no question Willie is.

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#9 gil4

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:14 PM

 

IMO you are significantly underestimating Mays.

 

Only 3 OF is rough.
 

I agree on both counts. My to three are Ruth, Williams, then flip a coin to decide between higher peak value (Mantle) or career value (Mays).Aaron would be #5.There is a good chance Trout bumps Aaron to 6 before he's done.

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#10 ScrapTheNickname

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 02:38 AM

 

Reducing it to three is impossible.

 

Babe Ruth is the best baseball player ever, but that's partly because no other player who would even be considered for that description was both an elite pitcher and an elite batter. Even so I'd still include him here because no other player has ever been so far beyond his contemporaries. After Ruth there's no such thing as naming two players who clearly stand out above the rest. I'm not going to try to do that, but I will mention a few things.

Frank Robinson should be considered.

Willie Mays played many games at Candlestick Park, known for less-than-ideal baseball weather.

Hank Aaron played many games at Fulton County Stadium, which was also called the launching pad because of batter-friendly outfield dimensions and less dense air than any other major league venue (until the Rockies came into existence).

Ted Williams lost three seasons in the prime of his career (the seasons in which he turned 25, 26, and 27) due to military service.

Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash before his career would have otherwise ended.

Is Ken Griffey, Jr. a candidate?

Oscar Charleston and James Bell? We'll never know.

Just to clarify, Ted Williams actually lost FIVE YEARS to military service, in World War II and Korea. FIVE MORE YEARS (ages 24, 25, 26, and 32, 33) and his home run total would have been around 700.

 

 

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#11 Nine of twelve

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 07:40 AM

 

Just to clarify, Ted Williams actually lost FIVE YEARS to military service, in World War II and Korea. FIVE MORE YEARS (ages 24, 25, 26, and 32, 33) and his home run total would have been around 700.

I stand (mostly) corrected. He did play in 1952 (6 games) and 1953 (37 games) so it amounts to about another 1.7 seasons lost in those two years. And don't forget he was more than a home run hitter. He has the all-time highest OBP and his OPS was significantly higher than both Mays and Aaron.

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#12 TopGunn#22

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 09:04 AM

If you're going strictly by the position each played that makes it even MORE difficult.

Ruth was primarily a RF who played a little LF

Mays was a CF

Aaron primarily played RF.

Ted Williams was a LF

 

So, 

It's Mays in CF

Aaron in RF

Ruth in LF 

But Ted Williams MUST be in there because he's the only guy who primarily played LF, 

He's the greatest hitter of all time and when you look at the seasons he missed to fight in WWII and Korea you can't help but wonder what else he could have accomplished.

The "Splendid Splinter" is the 4th OF'er and DH (because he's an American League player).

 

I know, I REALLY rationalized this but now I feel better...do any of you ?? 

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#13 ashbury

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 09:45 AM

I agree on both counts. My to three are Ruth, Williams, then flip a coin to decide between higher peak value (Mantle) or career value (Mays).Aaron would be #5.There is a good chance Trout bumps Aaron to 6 before he's done.

 

If you're going strictly by the position each played that makes it even MORE difficult.

Ruth was primarily a RF who played a little LF

Mays was a CF

Aaron primarily played RF.

Ted Williams was a LF

 

So, 

It's Mays in CF

Aaron in RF

Ruth in LF 

But Ted Williams MUST be in there because he's the only guy who primarily played LF, 

He's the greatest hitter of all time and when you look at the seasons he missed to fight in WWII and Korea you can't help but wonder what else he could have accomplished.

The "Splendid Splinter" is the 4th OF'er and DH (because he's an American League player).

 

I know, I REALLY rationalized this but now I feel better...do any of you ?? 

As further demonstration of how difficult this selection is: Ty Cobb gets entirely shut out of these two analyses? Pretty stiff competition.

 

(Take a fresh look at Cobb's bb-ref.com page, and be prepared to have your jaw drop at the sight of all the black ink.)
 

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#14 ScrapTheNickname

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 01:56 PM

 

I stand (mostly) corrected. He did play in 1952 (6 games) and 1953 (37 games) so it amounts to about another 1.7 seasons lost in those two years. And don't forget he was more than a home run hitter. He has the all-time highest OBP and his OPS was significantly higher than both Mays and Aaron.

Absolutely right. Williams was the total package. The best, I think, that ever played.


#15 TopGunn#22

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 03:52 PM

There's no doubt some REALLY good players would not make the list. 

Ty Cobb is a tremendous example.  

My reason for NOT picking him is that for me, Mays, Aaron and Williams are each a little more "modern."

Add to that the IMPACT Ruth had on the game vs. Cobb.

Cobb was a guy who hit for the highest average ever.

He stole bases at an all-time rate---He was #1 for decades before Lou Brock came on the scene.

Cobb could hit with power for his era.

But Ruth...

Ruth changed the entire focus of the game.He hit HR's, drove in runs, walked and scored runs at what we call "Ruthian" levels.People came to SEE Babe Ruth do what he did.

(we don't call anything "Cobbian").

Plus, he may have been the finest pitcher of his era.

There is no one who will ever be the "total package" like Babe Ruth.

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#16 Mike Sixel

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 04:35 PM

I'm baffled no one is arguing for Bonds.....
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#17 gagu

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 06:03 PM

 

If you're going strictly by the position each played that makes it even MORE difficult.

Ruth was primarily a RF who played a little LF

Mays was a CF

Aaron primarily played RF.

Ted Williams was a LF

 

So, 

It's Mays in CF

Aaron in RF

Ruth in LF 

But Ted Williams MUST be in there because he's the only guy who primarily played LF, 

He's the greatest hitter of all time and when you look at the seasons he missed to fight in WWII and Korea you can't help but wonder what else he could have accomplished.

The "Splendid Splinter" is the 4th OF'er and DH (because he's an American League player).

 

I know, I REALLY rationalized this but now I feel better...do any of you ?? 

 

To bolster your conclusion, over the course of his career, Ruth played nearly as much in left as he did in right; 1128 games in right, 1047 in left. That said, with Cobb having 709 career games in RF with a plus range factor, I'd put him there, with Mays in center, and Ruth in left. Cobb is a lock for me. While we don't call anything "Cobbian", neither do we call anything "Aaronian",

I like your DH solution even though I'm not a fan it's usage. Williams is the premiere pure hitter of all-time.

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#18 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 06:16 PM

 

There's no doubt some REALLY good players would not make the list. 

Ty Cobb is a tremendous example.  

My reason for NOT picking him is that for me, Mays, Aaron and Williams are each a little more "modern."

Add to that the IMPACT Ruth had on the game vs. Cobb.

Cobb was a guy who hit for the highest average ever.

He stole bases at an all-time rate---He was #1 for decades before Lou Brock came on the scene.

Cobb could hit with power for his era.

But Ruth...

Ruth changed the entire focus of the game.He hit HR's, drove in runs, walked and scored runs at what we call "Ruthian" levels.People came to SEE Babe Ruth do what he did.

(we don't call anything "Cobbian").

Plus, he may have been the finest pitcher of his era.

There is no one who will ever be the "total package" like Babe Ruth.

Ruth may have changed the emphasis of the game to a more HR oriented game. I agree. And Ruth was head and shoulders above the other payers of his time. However Aaron and Mays helped change the game in a more positive way, by showing that every little boy, black or white, could hope to play in the major leagues and be the best of his time and be cheered and adored by all fans. They helped integrate the United States. From what I have read about Ruth, he was a flawed individual. So my personal HOF outfield would be Mays, Aaron and Williams. Williams was an angry man, but two wars may have had something to do with that. Maybe I am wrong to ascribe character traits to men I have never met and anyway, maybe that should not be a factor in HOF selections. Let's ask Pete Rose.Also consider Shoeless Joe Jackson. I loved Henry Aaron I have several Topps 1957 baseball cards that inverted the negative and have Hammering Hank batting left-handed. He was an incredible player and a really good man.

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#19 Nine of twelve

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 06:40 PM

 

I'm baffled no one is arguing for Bonds.....

I'm not.

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#20 Nine of twelve

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 06:43 PM

 

And Ruth was head and shoulders above the other payers of his time.

Very few players even came up to his knees. To wit: when Ruth retired after the 1935 season with 714 the man in second place, Lou Gehrig, had 378. If you consider only players who also had already retired, the second place player was Cy Williams, with 251.

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