There is more to baseball in Massachusetts than Fenway Park. The iconic ball park has played a major role in the game’s history, but it is not the Bay State’s only contribution. Massachusetts has sent 667 players to the Major Leagues. The greatest pitcher born in Massachusetts is Tim Keefe. His 89.13 career WAR ranks him 12th among pitching state and territory leaders. Jeff Bagwell is the greatest position player born in the Bay State. His 79.88 career WAR ranks 20th among position player leaders. Massachusetts has a combined 169.01 WAR, ranking the Bay State 16th among states and territories.
Tim Keefe made the most of his opportunities in baseball. The Cambridge native pitched for 14 seasons with five teams: Troy Trojans (1880-1882), New York Metropolitans (1883-1884), New York Giants (1885-1889, 1891), New York Giants of the Players League (1890), and Philadelphia Phillies (1891-1893). The inspiration for the pitcher in Casey At The Bat, Keefe pitched in 600 career Games, made 594 Starts, threw 554 Complete Games, including 39 Shutouts, Pitched 5,049.2 Innings, allowed 4,438 Hits, 2,470 Runs, 1,474 Earned Runs, 75 Home Runs, 1,233 Walks, 2,564 Strikeouts, posted a 342-225 record, 2.63 ERA, 1.123 WHIP, and 126 ERA+. He won three ERA Titles (1880, 1885, and 1888) and became the second member of the 300 Win Club, joining Pud Galvin. Keefe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee.
The World Series was a postseason exhibition during Keefe’s career, but he still shined. He pitched in three series (1884, 1888, and 1889), helping the Giants win the latter two. Keefe pitched in 8 Games, made 7 Starts, threw 7 Complete Games, Pitched 61.0 Innings, allowed 45 Hits, 36 Runs, 18 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 14 Walks, 46 Strikeouts, posted a 4-3 record, 2.66 ERA, and 0.967 WHIP. He was terrific regardless of the stakes.
The best season of Keefe’s career was 1888 with the Giants. He pitched in and Started 51 Games, threw 48 Complete Games, including 8 Shutouts, Pitched 434.1 Innings, allowed 317 Hits, 143 Runs, 84 Earned Runs, 5 Home Runs, 90 Walks, 335 Strikeouts, posted a 35-12 record, 1.74 ERA, 0.937 WHIP, and 156 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins, Winning Percentage, Shutouts, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+ to win the Pitching Triple Crown. Keefe established the Major League record, later equaled by Rube Marquard, with 19 consecutive victories from June 23 to August 10.
Away from the diamond, Keefe stayed busy. In 1885, he helped form the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early attempt at a player’s association. Keefe worked to end the Reserve Clause. In his ongoing efforts to break the hold of owners, Keefe helped establish the Players League in 1890. While the league collapsed after one season, Keefe continued fighting for player’s rights.
Houston’s Killer B’s revolved around Jeff Bagwell. The Boston Native played First Base for 15 seasons with the Astros (1991-2005). In 2,150 career Games, Bagwell collected 2,314 Hits, 488 Doubles, 32 Triples, 449 Home Runs, 1,529 RBI, scored 1,517 Runs, 202 Stolen Bases, 1,401 Walks, 1,558 Strikeouts, .297 BA, .408 OBP, .540 SLG, .948 OPS, and 149 OPS+. Originally drafted by his hometown Red Sox, Bagwell was traded to Houston for Larry Anderson. The Minor Leaguer was heartbroken. However, the Astros gave him the opportunity to win the First Base spot in Spring Training. Bagwell played Third Base throughout his Minor League career, but Ken Caminiti was entrenched at the Hot Corner. Bagwell responded by winning the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award, receiving 23 of 24 first place votes. He was named to four All Star teams and won three Silver Slugger awards. Bagwell was a terror at the plate, collecting at least 30 Doubles 10 times and scored 100 Runs nine times. He hit 30 Home Runs with 100 RBI eight times. Despite his ferocious approach, Bagwell drew 100 Walks seven times. He hit over .300 six times and posted a 1.000 OPS five times. He twice produced 30 Home Run 30 Stolen Base seasons. Bagwell appeared in the 2005 World Series, collecting his final career Hit in eight At Bats as shoulder injuries ended his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Unquestionably the best season of Bagwell’s career was 1994. In the Strike Shortened season, he played in 110 Games, collected 147 Hits, 32 Doubles, 2 Triples, 39 Home Runs, 116 RBI, scored 104 Runs, 15 Stolen Bases, 65 Walks, 65 Strikeouts, .368 BA, .451 OBP, .750 SLG, 1.201 OPS, and 213 OPS+. He led the National League in RBI, Runs scored, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and Total Bases (300). Bagwell won his first Silver Slugger, the Gold Glove, and was the unanimous National League MVP.
Massachusetts continues to play an important role in the game. The Bay State’s rich baseball history has seen 15 native sons enshrined in Cooperstown: Jeff Bagwell, Jack Chesbro, John Clarkson, Mickey Cochrane, Candy Cummings (Executive), Leo Durocher (Manager), Tom Glavine, Frank Grant, Tim Keefe, Joe Kelley, Connie Mack (Manager), Rabbit Maranville, Tommy McCarthy, Wilbert Robinson (Manager), and Pie Traynor. Fenway is not Massachusetts’ only baseball legacy. Next week the United States of Baseball heads for the Great Lakes. The Wolverine State is next, Michigan.
Baseball has a long and proud history. There are legends from every American state and territory. The best pitcher born in the Old Line State is Lefty Grove. His 113.31 career WAR ranks fifth among pitching leaders. The best Maryland born position player is arguably the greatest player of all time. Babe Ruth’s 182.47 career WAR is the highest for any player ever. Maryland’s combined 295.78 WAR ranks first among all states and territories.
Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove was born in the west Maryland town of Lonaconing. He pitched for 17 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics (1925-1933) and Boston Red Sox (1934-1941). Grove began his professional career in Martinsburg before the Minor League Baltimore Orioles bought him in exchange for an outfield fence. Grove spent five years in Baltimore before Connie Mack paid $100,600 for the future Hall of Famer. Once in the Majors, Grove was electric. In 616 career Games, he made 457 Starts, threw 298 Complete Games, including 35 Shutouts, pitched 3,940.2 Innings, allowed 3,849 Hits, 1,594 Runs, 1,339 Earned Runs, 162 Home Runs, 1,187 Walks, 2,266 Strikeouts, posting a 300-141 record, 3.06 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, and 148 ERA+. Grove led the American League in Strikeouts in his first seven seasons. He was named to six All Star teams, won nine ERA Titles, and back to back Pitching Triple Crowns in 1930 and 1931. Grove’s .680 Winning Percentage is the best of any 300 Game winner. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1947.
Grove led the Athletics pitching to three consecutive American League pennants between 1929 and 1931. Grove pitched in all three World Series, appeared in 8 Games, made 5 Starts, threw 4 Complete Games, pitched 51.1 Innings, allowed 46 Hits, 12 Runs, 10 Earned Runs, 0 Home Runs, 6 Walks, 36 Strikeouts, posted a 4-2 record, 1.75 ERA, and 1.013 WHIP. The Athletics won the World Series in 1929 and 1930.
Unquestionably the best season of Grove’s career was with the 1931 Athletics. He pitched in 41 Games, made 30 Starts, threw 27 Complete Games, including 4 Shutouts, pitched 288.2 Innings, allowed 249 Hits, 84 Runs, 66 Earned Runs, 10 Home Runs, 62 Walks, 175 Strikeouts, posted a 31-4 record, 2.06 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, and 217 ERA+. He led the Junior Circuit in Wins, Winning Percentage, Complete Games, Shutouts, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. He won the Pitching Triple Crown and the American League MVP.
Easily the most written about baseball player ever, there is little left unsaid about Babe Ruth. George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore. The elite pitcher and all time great hitter played 22 seasons with three teams: Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), New York Yankees (1920-1934), and Boston Braves (1935). Fully appreciating Ruth’s greatness means examining his pitching and hitting. On the mound, Ruth appeared in 163 Games, made 147 Starts, threw 107 Complete Games, including 17 Shutouts, pitched 1,221.1 Innings, allowed 974 Hits, 400 Runs, 309 Earned Runs, 10 Home Runs, 441 Walks, 488 Strikeouts, posted a 94-46 record, 2.28 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, and 122 ERA+. At the plate, Ruth played in 2,503 Games, collected 2,873 Hits, 506 Doubles, 136 Triples, 714 Home Runs, 2,214 RBI, scored 2,174 Runs, 123 Stolen Bases, 2,062 Walks, 1,330 Strikeouts, .342 BA, .474 OBP, .690 SLG, 1.164 OPS, and 206 OPS+. He was twice an All Star. Ruth was the American League MVP in 1923 and won the Batting Title in 1924. He remains the all time leader in SLG, OPS, and OPS+. Ruth was among the five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first class in 1936.
The Great Bambino appeared in 10 World Series. He won seven championships, three with the Red Sox and four with the Yankees. On the mound, Ruth pitched in 3 Games, made 3 Starts, threw 2 Complete Games, including 1 Shutout, pitched 31 Innings, allowed 19 Hits, 3 Runs, 3 Earned Runs, 1 Home Run, 10 Walks, 8 Strikeouts, posted a 3-0 record, 0.87 ERA, and 0.935 WHIP. His record 29.2 scoreless World Series innings was later broken by Whitey Ford. At the plate, Ruth played in 41 World Series Games, collected 42 Hits, 5 Doubles, 2 Triples, 15 Home Runs, 33 RBI, scored 37 Runs, 4 Stolen Bases, 33 Walks, 30 Strikeouts, .326 BA, .470 OBP, .744 SLG, and 1.214 OPS. In 1926, he became the first player to hit three Home Runs in a World Series game. Ruth repeated the feat two years later.
Ruth’s career on the mound was cut short because of his bat. His best season pitching was 1916 with the Red Sox. Ruth pitched in 44 Games, made 40 Starts, threw 23 Complete Games, including 9 Shutouts, pitched 323.2 Innings, allowed 230 Hits, 83 Runs, 63 Earned Runs, 0 Home Runs, 118 Walks, 170 Strikeouts, posted a 23-12 record, 1.75 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, and 158 ERA+. He won the American League ERA Title. Ruth’s best season at the plate was not his MVP season, but two seasons before. In 1921, coming off his record shattering first season in the Bronx, Ruth playing in 152 Games, collected 204 Hits, 44 Doubles, 16 Triples, 59 Home Runs, 168 RBI, scored 177 Runs, 17 Stolen Bases, 145 Walks, 81 Strikeouts, .378 BA, .512 OBP, .846 SLG, 1.359 OPS, and 239 OPS+. He broke his own Home Run record set the season prior. He led the American League in Home Runs, RBI, Runs scored, Walks, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. He hit more Home Runs than five American League teams. He passed Roger Connor’s 139 career Home Runs to become the Home Run King. Ruth set single season records for Extra Base Hits (119) and Total Bases (457). There was little Ruth could not do on a baseball field.
Maryland has given more to baseball than just Grove and Ruth. The Old Line State has 11 native sons in the Hall of Fame: Harold Baines, Frank Baker, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Judy Johnson, Al Kaline, Bowie Kuhn (Commissioner), Cal Ripken Jr., Babe Ruth, John Schuerholz (Executive), and Vic Willis. Maryland reigns supreme as the state with the highest combined WAR from its best pitcher and position player. Next week the United States of Baseball returns to New England. The Bay State is next, Massachusetts.
Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. Few states can compete with the beauty of Maine. Vacationland is a natural playground from the sea to the mountains and forests. Major League Baseball has seen 78 Mainers take the field. The greatest pitcher born in Maine is Bob Stanley. His 23.86 career WAR is the 48th highest among pitcher state and territory leaders. George Gore is the greatest position player born in Maine. His 39.94 career WAR is 41st highest among state and territory leaders. Maine has a combined 63.80 WAR, ranking Vacationland 46th among states and territories.
Bob Stanley was a critical part of Boston’s attempt to break the Curse of the Bambino. The Portland native played 13 seasons with the Red Sox (1977-1989). Stanley pitched in 637 career Games, made 85 Starts, 377 Games Finished, threw 21 Complete Games, including 7 Shutouts, 132 Saves, 1,707 Innings Pitched, allowed 1,858 Hits, 797 Runs, 690 Earned Runs, 113 Home Runs, 471 Walks, 693 Strikeouts, posting a 115-97 record, 3.64 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He was twice an All Star. Stanley was the American League Pitcher of the Month in August 1980. His 115 Wins are the most for a pitcher born in Maine. Stanley’s 33 saves in 1983 and 132 career Saves set then Red Sox records. He retains the Boston record for most career pitching appearances.
In the 1986 World Series, Stanley did his best to break the Curse. He pitched in 5 Games, Finished 4 Games, with 1 Save, Pitched 6.1 Innings, allowed 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 1 Walk, 4 Strikeouts, posting a 0-0 record, 0.00 ERA, and 0.947 WHIP. Boston was close to ending its World Series drought before the team collapsed.
Stanley’s best season was his sophomore season. In 1978 he pitched in 52 Games, made 3 Starts, 35 Games Finished, including 10 Saves, Pitched 141.2 Innings, allowed 142 Hits, 50 Runs, 41 Earned Runs, 5 Home Runs, 34 Walks, 38 Strikeouts, posted a 15-2 record, 2.60 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, and 160 ERA+. He finished 7th for the American League Cy Young and 25th for the MVP. While Stanley never surpassed 1978, he was a key arm in Boston for another decade.
George Gore was one of baseball’s earliest stars. The Saccarappa native patrolled Centerfield for 14 seasons with four teams: Chicago White Stockings (1879-1886), New York Giants (1887-1889, 1891-1892), New York Giants of the Players League (1890), and St. Louis Browns (1892). He was a feared presence at the plate. In 1,310 career Games, Gore collected 1,612 Hits, 262 Doubles, 94 Triples, 46 Home Runs, 618 RBI, scored 1,327 Runs, 170 Stolen Bases, 717 Walks, 332 Strikeouts, .301 BA, .386 OBP, .411 SLG, .797 OPS, and 136 OPS+. His career began by conducting baseball’s first holdout, A.G. Spalding offered Gore $1,200 to sign with the White Stockings. He countered with $2500. The sides eventually agreed to $1900. It was money well spent as Gore led the National League in Runs scored twice (1881-1882) and Walks four times (1882-1884, and 1886). His career 1.01 Runs scored per Game far exceeds many Hall of Famers including Henry Aaron and Ted Williams. Gore brought excitement to every game he played.
Gore played in four World Series. He lost in 1885 and 1886 with the White Stockings and won in 1888 and 1889 with the Giants. In his four trips to the Fall Classic, Gore collected 16 Hits, 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 3 RBI, scored 15 Runs, 4 Stolen Bases, 9 Walks, 5 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .373 OBP, .397 SLG, and .770 OPS. He helped lay the groundwork for the World Series we know today.
Gore’s best season was 1880 with the White Stockings. He played 77 Games of a 82 Game season, collected 116 Hits, 23 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 47 RBI, scored 70 Runs, 21 Walks, 10 Strikeouts, .360 BA, .399 OBP, .463 SLG, .862 OPS, and 185 OPS+. He led the National League in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. Gore is the only Mainer to win a Batting Title, which came in a season so dominated by pitchers that the Pitcher’s Box was moved from 45 to 50 feet after the season.
Maine does not have a representative in Cooperstown. However, Vacationland has contributed greatly to the growth of baseball. Next week the United States of Baseball heads down the Atlantic coast to the Old Line State. Maryland is next.
There is more to Idaho than potatoes. The Gem State is full of unspoiled beauty that everyone who enjoys the outdoors should experience. Idaho has also produced 30 Major League players. The greatest pitcher born in the Gem State is Larry Jackson. His 52.56 career WAR ranks him 26th among state and territory pitching leaders. Harmon Killebrew is the greatest position player born in Idaho. His 60.42 career WAR ranks him 33rd among position players. Killebrew is the only Idahoan in the Hall of Fame. Jackson and Killebrew combined to give Idaho 112.98 WAR, 34th most among all states and territories.
Larry Jackson was born in Nampa. The Right Hander pitched 14 seasons in the Majors for three teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1955-1962), Chicago Cubs (1963-1966), and Philadelphia Phillies (1966-1968). In 558 career Games, Jackson made 429 Starts, threw 149 Complete Games, including 37 Shutouts, pitching 3,262.2 Innings, allowing 3,206 Hits, 1,405 Runs, 1,233 Earned Runs, 259 Home Runs, 824 Walks, 1,709 Strikeouts, posting a 194-183 record, 3.40 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Jackson was a five time All Star and the first from Idaho.
Jackson’s best season was in 1964 with the Chicago Cubs. In 40 Games, he made 38 Starts, throwing 19 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitching 297.2 Innings, allowing 265 Hits, 114 Runs, 104 Earned Runs, 17 Home Runs, 58 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posting a 24-11 record, 3.14 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins. Jackson finished 12th in the MVP voting. He also finished 2nd for the Cy Young award, then given to a single pitcher, not one per league.
In Philadelphia, Jackson is most remembered for being part of the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. Later, the Montreal Expos selected Jackson in their expansion draft. He knew he was close to the end of his career, Jackson wanted to play for a west coast team closer to home. Instead of reporting to Montreal, he retired and returned to Idaho. Jackson served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and as the Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party. He ran for Governor, finishing fourth in the Republican Primary despite campaigning by fellow Idaho players Harmon Killebrew and Vern Law.
Harmon Killebrew struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. The Payette native played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/ Minnesota Twins (1954-1974) and Kansas City Royals (1975). In his career, Killebrew played in 2,435 Games, collected 2,086 Hits, 290 Doubles, 24 Triples, 573 Home Runs, 1,584 RBI, scored 1,283 Runs, 19 Stolen Bases, 1,559 Walks, 1,699 Strikeouts, .256 BA, .376 OBP, .509 SLG, .884 OPS, and 143 OPS+. Killebrew was a great hitter who opted to forgo hitting for average and use his power to help his team.
The best season of Killebrew’s career was his 1969 MVP season with the Twins. In 162 Games, he collected 153 Hits, 20 Doubles, 2 Triples, 49 Home Runs, 140 RBI, scored 106 Runs, 8 Stolen Bases, 145 Walks, 20 Intentional Walks, 84 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .427 OBP, .584 SLG, 1.011 OPS, and 177 OPS+. He led the American League in Games played, Home Runs, RBI, Walks, OBP, and Intentional Walks. Killebrew season was a terror at the plate. His MVP came in the middle of Killebrew’s five year run where he finished in the top five for the MVP four times.
Killebrew was a 13 time All Star, finished in the top 10 for the MVP six times, won the 1969 American League MVP award, the 10th player to join the 500 Home Run Club, and the first Twins player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He was the first player elected as an All Star at three different positions (Third Base, First Base, and Left Field). Killebrew posted eight 40 Home Runs seasons, second only to Babe Ruth’s 11. Killer had nine 100 RBI seasons and seven 100 walk seasons, leading the Junior Circuit four times in free passes. When he retired Killebrew had the fifth most Home Runs. The legendary slugger became a beloved broadcaster for several teams in retirement.
Idaho has given baseball several solid players and a Hall of Famer. The Gem State continues building its baseball legacy and hopes to send more players to Cooperstown. Next week the United States of Baseball heads east across the plains to the Land of Lincoln. Illinois is next.
Major League Baseball continues to see a steady stream of players from Georgia. The warm weather for much of the year combined with the Braves dynasty in the 1990’s and early 2000’s created a generation of baseball crazed players and fans. The Peach State has sent 390 players to MLB. The Hall of Fame has welcomed six Georgia natives: Ty Cobb, Josh Gibson, Johnny Mize, Jackie Robinson, Bill Terry, and Frank Thomas. Kevin Brown is the greatest pitcher from the Peach State. His career 68.21 WAR ranks 20th among all state and territory leaders. Ty Cobb is the greatest position player. His career 151.02 WAR is the 4th highest among position players. Brown and Cobb’s combined 219.23 WAR ranks Georgia 9th highest among all states and territories.
Kevin Brown was born in Milledgeville. He played 19 seasons in the Majors for six teams: Texas Rangers (1986, 1988-1994), Baltimore Orioles (1995), Florida Marlins (1996-1997), San Diego Padres (1998), Los Angeles Dodgers (1999-2003), and New York Yankees (2004-2005). On the mound, Brown pitched in 486 Games, making 476 Starts, throwing 72 Complete Games, 17 Shutouts, pitching 3,256.1 Innings, allowing 3,079 Hits, 1,357 Runs, 1,185 Earned Runs, 208 Home Runs, 901 Walks, 2,397 Strikeouts, posting a 211-144 record, 3.28 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, and 127 ERA+. Opposing hitters knew they were in for a rough day with Brown pitching.
Brown’s elite pitching earned him six All Star selections, the 1997 World Series, and two ERA titles (1996 and 2000). He finished sixth in the 1989 National League Rookie of the Year voting. He finished in the top six for Cy Young voting five times (1992- 6th, 1996- 2nd, 1998- 3rd, 1999- 6th, and 2000- 6th). He threw a No Hitter against the Giants in 1997. A year later, Brown’s success on the mound saw him rewarded with the then largest contract in MLB history. He signed a seven year free agent contract with the Dodgers for $105 million. It was baseball’s first $100+ million contract. He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2011. He received 2.1% of the vote, failing to reach the minimum 5% to remain on the ballot.
Unquestionably, Brown’s best season was in 1996 with the Florida Marlins. In 32 Starts, he threw 5 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitched 233 Innings, allowed 187 Hits, 60 Runs, 49 Earned Runs, 8 Home Runs, 33 Walks, 159 Strikeouts, posted a 17-11 record, 1.89 ERA, 0.944 WHIP, and 215 ERA+. Brown led the National League in ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. He was an All Star, finished second for the Cy Young award, and 22nd for the MVP. Kevin Brown was outstanding and was among the National League’s best in 1996.
No player was ever more fanatical about baseball than Ty Cobb. He was born in Narrows and played 24 seasons for the Detroit Tigers (1905-1926) and Philadelphia Athletics (1927-1928). In 3,034 career Games he collected 4,189 Hits, 724 Doubles, 295 Triples, 117 Home Runs, 1,944 RBI, scored 2,245 Runs, 897 Stolen Bases, 1,249 Walks, 680 Strikeouts, .366 BA, .433 OBP, .512 SLG, .944 OPS, 168 OPS+, and 5,854 Total Bases. When he retired, Cobb held the record for most Hits, Stolen Bases, and BA. Both Hits and Stolen Bases have since been surpassed, but his record .366 BA seems untouchable.
Cobb is perhaps the greatest hitter of all time. He hit over .400 three times. He won 12 Batting Titles in 13 seasons, including nine straight. He led the American League in Hits eight times and collected at least 200 Hits nine times. He led the league in Doubles three times. He hit at least 30 Doubles in 15 seasons and at least 40 Doubles in four seasons. Cobb led the league in Triples four times, legging out at least 10 Triples in 17 seasons, and at least 20 in four seasons. He had seven 100 RBI seasons, leading the American League four times. He led the Junior Circuit in Stolen Bases six times with nine seasons of at least 50 Steals. Cobb was the premier player of his era, winning the 1909 Triple Crown (9 HR, 107 RBI, .377 BA). In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its first class: Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and Ty Cobb. It was Cobb, not Ruth, who received the most votes, with 98.2% for induction into Cooperstown.
Selecting the greatest individual season of Cobb’s career is nearly impossible. He was consistently brilliant. Examining his MVP 1911 season with the Tigers seems the most appropriate. In 146 Games, he collected 248 Hits, 47 Doubles, 24 Triples, 8 Home Runs, 127 RBI, scored 148 Runs, 83 Stolen Bases, 44 Walks, 42 Strikeouts, .419 BA, .466 OBP, .620 SLG, 1.086 OPS, 196 OPS+, and 367 Total Bases. Cobb led the league in Runs scored, Hits, Doubles, Triples, RBI, Stolen Bases, BA, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and Total Bases. He won the first American League MVP award. He finished 7th in 1912, 20th in 1913, and 14th in 1914 after which the award was discontinued. The MVP returned to the Junior Circuit in 1922, but previous winners were ineligible to win again. It is not difficult to imagine the Georgia Peach winning at least five MVP awards if he was eligible.
Georgia continues to send great players to the Majors every year. The state shows no sign of slowing down. Next week the United States of Baseball goes west, really far west to the Land of the Chamorro. Guam is next.
Few players possess the skill and grace on a baseball field like Roberto Clemente. His cannon for an arm in Right Field combined with his ability to hit the ball place him among baseball’s elite. There are players with better stats, although not many. However the numbers Clemente produced during his 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates are impressive.
Clemente struck fear in the hearts of opposing teams every time he stepped in the batter’s box. They knew their only hope was to limit the damage. In 2,433 career Games, Clemente came to the plate 10,212 times, collected 3,000 Hits, including 440 Doubles, 166 Triples, 240 Home Runs, 1,305 RBI, scored 1,416 Runs, 83 Stolen Bases, drew 621 Walks, 167 Intentional Walks, 1,230 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .359 OBP, .475 SLG, .834 OPS, 130 OPS+, and 4,492 Total Bases. He produced a 71.5 oWAR. Baseball is a difficult game, and Clemente with a bat only made it harder for pitchers.
There are plenty of players who play half the game. They excel at the plate, but are a liability in the field. Clemente is not among them. In 2,373 Games, primarily in Right Field, he played 20,514.1 Innings, had 5,108 Chances, made 4,697 Putouts, 269 Assists, 142 Errors, 42 Double Plays, with .972 FLD%, 2.18 RF/9, and 205 Rtot. His FLD% was below the .976 league average, however his Range was above the 2.12 league average. While he did commit a few more errors, Clemente reached more balls than other Right Fielders, turning hits into outs. His skill in the outfield resulted in a career 12.2 dWAR. Clemente was an asset, not a liability in the field.
It is difficult to summarize an entire career in a few stats. There is so much more to Clemente’s career than numbers. Watching him throw out runners from the outfield and launch baseballs with his bat was awe inspiring. He won plenty of awards for his elite play. Clemente, like every player, went through hot streaks. He won the National League Player of the Month award three times (May 1960- .336 BA, May 1967- .400 BA, and July 1969- .418 BA). He was a 15 time All Star (1960-1967, 1969-1972), playing in both All Star games in both 1960 and 1961. Clemente helped the Pirates win the 1971 World Series, hitting .414 in the Series. He was named World Series MVP and won the National League Babe Ruth award for the best Postseason performance. He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 to 1972. He won four Batting Titles: 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967. He finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times, winning in 1966. After his tragic death, the Hall of Fame waived the five year waiting period and inducted him in 1973 in a Special Election. Clemente was a giant among his contemporaries. Few players reach the same rarified air.
Baseball has changed in the nearly 50 years since Clemente last graced the diamond. He was great in his era, but does he stack up against players from every era? Simply put, yes. Clemente still ranks 30th in career Singles, 27th in Triples, and 91st in Extra Base Hits. He drew the 37th most Intentional Walks. He collected the 51st most Total Bases and has the 83rd most Times on Base. Collectively this gives Clemente the 58th highest oWAR. The offensive explosion in recent decades has not ousted Clemente from near the top of the offensive record book. He also remains near the top on defense. He turned the 58th most Double Plays by an Outfielder, made the 38th most Putouts, and 17th most Outfield Assists. Clemente is one of the greatest defensive Right Fielders ever. He turned the 10th most Double Plays by a Right Fielder and is second in both Putouts and Assists. Combining Clemente’s elite bat and glove gives him the 25th highest career WAR.
It is impossible to properly explain how great Roberto Clemente was as a player. His stats stand up to the test of time. He remains among the greatest players ever a half century after his death. He is a Hall of Famer and deserved to have his #21 retired by the Pirates. MLB should highlight his accomplishments whenever possible, yet for all of his greatness on the field he was a better man off of it. It is time to retire #21 across baseball.
Delaware is often forgotten. Sitting on the Atlantic coast between Philadelphia and the Washington-Baltimore Metro, the state hides in plain sight. While the First State does not have a Major League team, it has sent 56 players to baseball’s highest level. Delaware punches above its weight for its place in baseball. Sadie McMahon is the greatest pitcher born in Delaware. His 43.55 WAR is the 36th highest among all state and territory leaders. Paul Goldschmidt has the highest WAR for position players born in Delaware. His 45.11 WAR ranks him 40th. McMahon and Goldschmidt have a combined 88.66 WAR, ranking Delaware 39th among all states and territories.
John Joseph McMahon was born in Wilmington. He earned the nickname Sadie during his baseball career, but the exact origins are unclear. McMahon pitched for nine seasons with three teams: Philadelphia Athletics (1889-1890), Baltimore Orioles (1890-1896), and Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1897). He played during a time of great change for pitchers with the introduction of the pitchers mound in 1893. McMahon pitched in 321 career Games, made 305 Starts, throwing 279 Complete Games, including 14 Shutouts, in 2,634 Innings, allowing 2,726 Hits, 1,592 Runs, 1,026 Earned Runs, 52 Home Runs, 945 Walks, 967 Strikeouts, 98 Wild Pitches, posting a 173-127 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He was forced to retire before turning 30 after a shoulder injury derailed his career.
Pitching from the flat pitchers box, McMahon enjoyed his best season with the 1891 Baltimore Orioles. He appeared in 61 Games, with 58 Starts, throwing 53 Complete Games, including 5 Shutouts, in 503 Innings, allowing 493 Hits, 259 Runs, 157 Earned Runs, 13 Home Runs, 149 Walks, 219 Strikeouts, 16 Wild Pitches, posting a 35-24 record, 2.81 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. He led the American Association in Starts, Wins, Complete Games, Shutouts, and Innings Pitched. His 35 Wins were nearly half of the Orioles 71 victories.
Sadie McMahon was an elite pitcher before injuries quieted his arm. In the twilight of his career, McMahon went pitch for pitch against Cy Young and the Cleveland Spiders in the 1895 Temple Cup. The Temple Cup was a postseason exhibition series. While McMahon is not an all time great, he was a terrific pitcher in the early days of professional baseball.
Paul Goldschmidt is the greatest position player born in Delaware. The Wilmington native is the first active player to lead a state or territory in the United States of Baseball. The star First Baseman is entering his age 33 season, having played 10 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2011-2018) and St. Louis Cardinals (2019-present). Goldschmidt has played 1,311 career Games, collected 1,395 Hits, 305 Doubles, 20 Triples, 249 Home Runs, with 828 RBI, 837 Runs scored, 128 Stolen Bases, 770 Walks, 1,268 Strikeouts, .293 BA, .392 OBP, .522 SLG, .914 OPS, and 141 OPS+. He is a six time All Star, four time Silver Slugger, three time Gold Glover, 2017 World Baseball Classic champion, and twice finished second for the National League MVP (2013 and 2015).
Goldschmidt’s best season, thus far, was in 2015 with the Diamondbacks. In 159 Games, he collected 182 Hits, 38 Doubles, 2 Triples, 33 Home Runs, 110 RBI, 103 Runs scored, 21 Stolen Bases, 118 Walks, 151 Strikeouts, .321 BA, .435 OBP, .570 SLG, 1.005 OPS, and 168 OPS+. He was an All Star, won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and finished second for the MVP award. This was not a one season flash as Goldschmidt was just as dominant in 2013, either season could be his best. Now playing for the ever competitive Cardinals, Goldschmidt will be a force for many more seasons.
The First State is not the biggest state, nor has it sent the most players to the Majors. However, it plays its part in the continuing story of baseball. Delaware has one native son in Cooperstown, Bill McGowan. Surely the legendary umpire will someday be joined by a fellow Delawarean. The United States of Baseball takes a short drive west next week to the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia is next.
Roberto Clemente was many things on a baseball field. A tremendous outfielder, outstanding leader, and natural born hitter. Despite his career being tragically cut short, only nine players have won more Batting Titles than Clemente’s four. It is a testament to Clemente’s skill with the bat.
The nine players out of nearly 20,000 players in Major League history to win more batting titles than the Great One are all in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb leads with 12 Batting Titles, a record unlikely to be equaled or broken. Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner are tied for second with 8 titles. Rod Carew, Rogers Hornsby, and Stan Musial each collected 7. Ted Williams won 6 despite two pauses in his career for military service. Wade Boggs and Dan Brouthers won 5 titles. Clemente is tied with Cap Anson, Miguel Cabrera, Harry Heilmann, and Bill Madlock with four Batting Titles. Anson and Heilmann are in the Hall of Fame. Cabrera will join them when his career is over. Surprisingly, Madlock did not receive the minimum 5% in 1993, falling off the ballot in his first year of eligibility.
Winning multiple Batting Titles in your career is an impressive accomplishment. Clemente won his four titles in the span of seven seasons. He won his first Batting Title in 1961. In 146 Games, Clemente collected 201 Hits, 30 Doubles, 10 Triples, 23 Home Runs, drew 35 Walks with just 59 Strikeouts. He posted a .351 BA, .390 OBP, .559 SLG, .949 OPS, and 150 OPS+. Clemente was named to both All Star games that summer and finished fourth in the MVP voting. The 26 year old could not save Pittsburgh however, as the Pirates finished in 6th place, 75-79. While the team struggled, Clemente began his ascent to super stardom.
After two “down” seasons where he hit a mere .316, Clemente claimed his second Batting Title in 1964. Named an All Star for the fifth consecutive season, he played 155 Games, collected 211 Hits, 40 Doubles, 7 Triples, 12 Home Runs, with 51 Walks and 87 Strikeouts on his way to a .339 BA, .388 OBP, .484 SLG, .872 OPS, and 146 OPS+. Clemente led the National League in Hits, with career highs in Hits (211) and Doubles (40). The 29 year old finished ninth in MVP voting as the Pirates again struggled to a 6th place finish, 80-82.
Clemente won his second consecutive, and third overall, Batting Title in 1965. He played 152 Games, collected 194 Hits, 21 Doubles, 14 Triples, 10 Home Runs, with 43 Walks and 78 Strikeouts. He posted a .329 BA, .378 OBP, .463 SLG, .842 OPS, and 136 OPS+. His 194 Hits and .329 BA were the lowest of his four Batting Titles, while his 14 Triples were a career high. Once again Clemente finished in the top ten for the MVP, 8th. Pittsburgh played their first meaningful baseball late in the season since 1960, finishing third, 90-72.
1966 was another “down year” for Clemente’s Batting Average, dipping to .317, tied for fourth highest in the National League. Ultimately he traded a third consecutive Batting Title for the MVP award. In 1967 Clemente unsuccessfully defended his MVP award, finishing third. His Batting Average rebounded as he won his fourth and final Batting Title. In 147 Games, he collected 209 Hits, 26 Doubles, 10 Triples, and 23 Home Runs, drew 41 Walks with 103 Strikeouts. He posted a career high .357 BA, with a .400 OBP, .554 SLG, .954 OPS, and 171 OPS+. Clemente led the league in Hits for a second time. Despite his efforts the Pirates were a .500 team, 81-81, 6th in the National League.
Any player can have a great season, only elite players can maintain this level of play season after season. In his four Batting Title winning seasons Clemente averaged 150 Games played, 204 Hits, 29 Doubles, 10 Triples, 17 Home Runs, 43 Walks, 82 Strikeouts, .344 BA, .389 OBP, .514 SLG, and .903 OPS. This was the average. These four seasons gave Clemente roughly a quarter of his career Hits (815 of 3,000), Doubles (117 of 440), Triples (41 of 166), and Home Runs (68 of 240), as he hit .027 above his career .317 BA. Every player peaks, but Clemente peaked higher than Everest.
Clemente did not fade in the twilight of his career. He hit a combined .346 from 1969 to 1971, averaging 214 Hits per 162 Games played. Clemente finished second to Pete Rose for the Batting Title in 1969, just three points short of his fifth title, .348 to .345. Clemente played just 108 games in 1970, failing to qualify for the Batting Title. However, his .352 BA would have placed second behind Rico Carty’s .366, well ahead of Manny Sanguillen and Joe Torre’s .325. In 1971, Clemente hit .341 and finished fourth in the Batting Title. The 36 year year old could still hit. His Batting Average in each season from 1969 to 1971 was higher than his Batting Title winning Batting Averages in 1964 and 1965. Clemente remained among the best hitters in the league.
Only a select few are naturally gifted to hit a baseball and without a doubt Roberto Clemente was one of them. His abilities should be celebrated in the same breath as Aaron, Ruth, Cobb, Musial, and Williams. His number 21 should be retired across baseball for his accomplishments on the field and for what he meant to the game off the field. He was a true humanitarian and remains the icon for Puerto Rican and Caribbean players. Retire #21.
Colorado is better known as an outdoor playground than a hub for baseball. The mountainous terrain in the western half of the state and cold winters are not conducive to year round baseball. Nevertheless, the Centennial State has sent 97 players to the Major Leagues. Colorado may trail other states in sheer numbers, but the state makes up for it with quality. Roy Halladay has the highest WAR among Colorado born pitchers, 65.37, and ranks 22nd among state and territory leaders. Chase Headley leads all Colorado born position players with 25.92 WAR, ranking him 48th among all leaders. Halladay and Headley’s combined 91.29 WAR ranks Colorado 38th highest. More and more baseball talent comes from the Centennial State each year, it will undoubtedly continue climbing higher in the rankings.
Roy Halladay is one of the great pitchers in recent baseball history. The Denver native pitched 16 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays (1998-2009) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013). In 390 career Starts, Halladay posted a 203-105 record, throwing 67 Complete Games, 20 Shutouts, 2,749.1 Innings Pitched, allowed 236 Home Runs, 592 Walks, 2,117 Strikeouts, with a 3.38 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. He was an 8 time All Star, finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award seven times, won 2 Cy Youngs (2003 and 2010), and was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019.
Halladay’s career numbers reflect the era in which he pitched. Pitching continues to evolve, gone are the days of massive innings totals, double digit Complete Games, and the ability to contain most teams inside the ballpark. Hall of Fame voting for pitchers is changing and Halladay helped lead the charge.
Unquestionably Halladay’s greatest season was his 2010 campaign with the Philadelphia Phillies. In 33 Starts, he posted a 21-10 record, throwing 9 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, in 250.2 Innings, allowing just 68 Earned Runs, 30 Walks, 219 Strikeouts, with a 2.44 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, and 167 ERA+. Halladay led the National League in Wins, Complete Games, Shutouts, and Innings Pitched on his way to his second Cy Young and finishing 6th in MVP voting. His crowning achievement was Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Halladay missed the zone with a full count in the 5th Inning. This Jay Bruce walk was all the offense the Reds could muster. He pitched 9 Innings, allowing 0 Hits, 1 Walk, 8 Strikeouts, faced 28 batters, and threw 104 pitches. Halladay became the second pitcher to throw a No Hitter in the Postseason after Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series. Halladay was nearly unhittable in 2010 and was in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Chase Headley played 12 seasons for the San Diego Padres (2007-2014, 2018) and New York Yankees (2014-2017). The Fountain native appeared in 1,436 Games, collected 1,337 Hits, 272 Doubles, 16 Triples, 130 Home Runs, 596 RBI, scored 637 Runs, 93 Stolen Bases, 574 Walks, 1,298 Strikeouts, .263 BA, .342 OBP, .399 SLG, .742 OPS, and 106 OPS+. Playing primarily Third Base, Headley played 9,643.1 Innings, had 2,888 Chances, made 703 Putouts, 2078 Assists, 107 Errors, and turned 173 Double Plays. Both his career .963 Fld% and Range, 2.60 RF/9, were above average. Headley was a solid hitter and above average Third Baseman. While his numbers will not see him inducted into Cooperstown, he was a productive player throughout his long career.
Headley’s best season was in 2012 with the Padres. In 161 Games, he collected 173 Hits, 31 Doubles, 2 Triples, 31 Home Runs, 115 RBI, scored 95 Runs, 17 Stolen Bases, 86 Walks, 157 Strikeouts, .286 BA, .376 OBP, .498 SLG, .875 OPS, and 145 OPS+. He led the National League in RBI, and won his only Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Headley peaked in San Diego before he was traded to the Yankees who re-signed him as a free agent to a 4 year, $52 million contract. Players are rewarded for past performance and Headley cashed in.
Colorado has sent two players to Cooperstown. The WAR leader, Roy Halladay, and Goose Gossage. Undoubtedly more Coloradans will follow as the Centennial State continues building its baseball legacy. Next Week the United States of Baseball heads east to the Constitution State, Connecticut.
California has produced 2,338 Major League players, more than any other state; nearly 1,000 more than the second most productive state, New York. Only truly special players rise to the top in the Golden State. California’s greatest pitcher is Tom Seaver. His 106.02 career WAR ranks 8th among state leaders. The greatest position player is Barry Bonds, who ranks 2nd with 162.76 career WAR. Their combined 268.78 career WAR ranks California 3rd among all states and territories.
Tom Seaver for many was the perfect pitcher. He combined dominance with longevity. The Fresno native pitched 20 seasons in the Majors for the New York Mets (1967-1977, 1983), Cincinnati Reds (1977-1982), Chicago White Sox (1984-1986), and Boston Red Sox (1986). He won 311 Games, threw 231 Complete Games, 61 Shutouts, Struckout 3,640 batters, with a 2.86 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, and 127 ERA+. Seaver was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967, a 12 time All Star, World Series champion with the 1969 Mets, won three National League ERA titles (1970-1971, 1973), three National League Cy Young Awards (1969, 1973, 1975), and was a first ball Hall of Famer in 1992.
There were so many great seasons in Tom Terrific’s career, it is difficult to pick which was his best. His three Cy Young seasons are the most logical, but his 1971 campaign is equally as dominant. Pitching for the 83 win Mets, he started 35 Games, threw 21 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, in 286.1 Innings, allowed 61 Walks, while Strikingout 289 batters, posting a 20-10 record, 1.76 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, and 194 ERA+. Seaver was a tremendous pitcher, who despite all the accolades is still underrated.
Barry Bonds is one of the greatest hitters of all time. Ignoring the PEDs, Bonds could hit. Yes his peak and the distance he could hit a baseball were unnaturally extended, no drug can help you hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. Bonds is a first ballot Hall of Famer if not for the cloud of PEDs. The Riverside native’s resume is ridiculous. He was a 14 time All Star, won 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, two National League Batting Titles (2002, 2004), and a record 7 Most Valuable Player Awards (1990, 1992-1993, 2001-2004).
Bonds played 22 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-1992) and San Francisco Giants (1993-2007). He collected 2,935 Hits, 601 Doubles, 77 Triples, 762 Home Runs, 1,996 RBI, 2,227 Runs scored, 514 Stolen Bases, 2,558 Walks, 688 Intentional Walks, with a .298 BA, .444 OBP, .607 SLG, 1.051 OPS, and 182 OPS+. Bonds holds the Major League record for most Home Runs, Walks, and Intentional Walks. If not for his connection to PEDs and blackballing after surpassing Hank Aaron’s Home Run record he would have reached 3,000 Hits and increased his records.
Like Seaver, it is difficult to select Barry Bonds’ greatest season. However, 2004 is one of the most ridiculous seasons in baseball history and deserves some recognition. At 39 years old, Bonds played 147 Games with 617 Plate Appearances and 373 At Bats, 135 Hits, 27 Doubles, 3 Triples, 45 Home Runs, 101 RBI, 129 Runs scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 232 Walks, 120 Intentional Walks, 41 Strikeouts, with a .362 BA, .609 OBP, .812 SLG, 1.422 OPS, and 263 OPS+. He led the league in Walks, Intentional Walks, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ on his way to his 7th MVP award. He set the single season record for both Walks and Intentional Walks. Bonds has the top three single season Walk totals (2001- 177 walks, 2002- 198 walks, and 2004- 232 walks). He also has the top three single season Intentional Walk totals, and six of the top ten (1st 2004- 120 IBB, 2nd 2002- 68 IBB, 3rd 2003- 61 IBB, 6th 1993 and 2007- 43 IBB, 9th 2006- 38 IBB). Teams were always terrified of Bonds swinging the bat, but in 2004 opposing teams refused to pitch to him, leaving voters little choice with their MVP votes.
California is a hot bed for baseball. Both Seaver and Bonds were first ballot Hall of Famers, unfortunately only one enjoyed the honor. The Golden State has produced the second most Hall of Fame players. The 24 California born Hall of Fame players are: Gary Carter, Frank Chance, Joe Cronin, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Don Drysdale, Dennis Eckersley, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Tony Gwynn, Chick Hafey, Harry Heilmann, Trevor Hoffman, Harry Hooper, Randy Johnson, George Kelly, Tony Lazzeri, Bob Lemon, Ernie Lombardi, Eddie Murray, Tom Seaver, Duke Snider, Alan Trammell, and Ted Williams. The Golden State also produced Hall of Fame Executive Pat Gillick and Umpire Doug Harvey. California has been wonderful to baseball.
The United States of Baseball is heading for higher ground. Next week we examine baseball in Colorado.