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  1. Don’t you diss 1941. Toshiro Mifune was in 1941.

    Comment by Oliver — January 25, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  2. Awesome article. One thing that constantly surprises me about the the Yankees of the 30s and 40s was of course they had the legens that everyone remembers, but there were so many other players on those teams that are certainly unheralded, Keller, Gordon, and Henrich being three such guys. I’d maybe put Dickey on the list as well. Red Rolfe also.

    Comment by Tyler — January 25, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  3. Great read. The Spud Chandler quote was classic.

    Comment by El Magnifico — January 25, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

  4. It’s also hard to forget about the 1927 outfield:

    Ruth (13.7 WAR), Combs (7.6), Meusel (4.8)

    That 1927 Yankees team featured four different position players with at least 7 WAR (Ruth, Combs, Gehrig (13.2), and Lazerri (7.0)). Has that ever happened before… ever?

    There are a bunch of teams who had three players with 7 or more WAR (1930 Giants, 1937 Yankees, 1939 Yankees; 1942 Yankees; 1972 Reds), but I can’t think of any others aside from those 1927 Yankees who had 4.

    Comment by Jim — January 25, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  5. When someone told Yogi Berra he was ugly, he said, “So? I don’t hit with my face!”

    Comment by KCDaveInLA — January 25, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  6. For a deserving Hall-of-Famer who won a bunch of World Series and played on the most famous team, I’ve always been surprised by how anonymous Dickey is.

    Comment by LK — January 25, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  7. I found it interesting that the ’27 Yankees weren’t in the top 2 on Olney’s list. Despite the statistical superiority of the ’39 team, the ’27 team always seems to resonate more. I guess 2 players putting up 13 WAR will do that.

    Comment by LK — January 25, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  8. See this is exactly my point. Dickey is 8th all time in WAR for catchers (his WAR/Game is even higher). I think “deserving hall of famer” does give the man his due. Complete nit-pick on my part but everyone only remembers the other #8 who caught for the Yanks.

    Comment by Tyler — January 25, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

  9. Speaking of which (my above comment), does Fangraphs have on the site anywhere WAR/game data?

    Comment by Tyler — January 25, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  10. Trust me, I’m a Yankee fan and on the Dickey bandwagon. I was trying to temper my enthusiasm to not seem like too much of a homer.

    Comment by LK — January 25, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  11. Ralph Houk knew Berra was fading. By the end of the year (and in the World Series), `Johnny Blanchard was getting as many ABs as Yogi, and Blanchard hit .305/.382/.613 that year. If it wasn’t for Berra’s icon status, he probably would have been the starter,

    Comment by baycommuter — January 25, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  12. In terms of career WAR at regardless of position, are the ’61 Yankees the greatest outfield of all time?

    Comment by samuelraphael — January 25, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  13. He just looks like he did.

    (I love the man. I’m forever amazed that his life overlaps mine. It’s like having Honus Wagner wandering around doing the occasional insurance commercial, or having Tinker, Evers, and Chance pitching Rice Krispies )

    Comment by joser — January 25, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

  14. It probably makes more sense to make the number WAR/150 or 162 so the numbers are easier to interpret, but I agree that this type of metric would be a valuable addition.

    Comment by LK — January 25, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  15. Wait, 1961 Yogi Berra didn’t qualify to rank in the top 50 in WAR? Isn’t WAR a counting stat?

    Comment by Ian R. — January 25, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  16. 2013 Angels:
    Trout 10.9 WAR
    Bourjos 6.7 WAR
    Hamilton 8.2 WAR

    Best EVAR.

    Comment by Angelsjunky — January 25, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  17. “Still, while defensive metrics in particular are problematic, I do not imagine there are too many people who doubt that DiMaggio in 1941 was substantially better in the field than Mantle in 1961.”

    Dear god, reading Marx is less confusing than this sentence. Clarity, seriously.

    Comment by Jonathan — January 25, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

  18. Mifune!

    Comment by Ichiro! — January 26, 2013 @ 2:10 am

  19. Maybe 40 years ago I read an essay in a book of baseball essays that argued Henrich was a better player than DiMaggio in the years they played together. The author was especially effusive about Henrich’s defense, claiming he should have played center instead of Joe.
    Obviously this is weak evidence, but might slightly strengthen your comparison of Henrich to Berra.

    Comment by Baltar — January 26, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  20. While defensive statistics can be misleading, based on available data including eyewitness reports, it seems fair to say Joe DiMaggio in 1941 was a superior defender to Mickey Mantle in 1961.

    Comment by Michael H — January 26, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  21. Bing Miller appeared in the most games of any 1928 A’s outfielder, but there were plenty of games where the outfield consisted of Al Simmons, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb.

    Comment by Jim — January 28, 2013 @ 1:23 am

  22. To be fair, not many of us really have a bunch of available memory space for that many players from the 30s and 40s.

    ~80 years ago.

    Most of us know baseball inside and out starting at the period when we were 10 until basically till we started having kids. Then we just seem to “know the highlights”.

    Bill Dickey for non-NYY fans is likely one that gets left out.

    I don’t know about the rest of the non-NY people here, but I don’t know how many former NYY players we can be expected to remember and describe.

    For people in my generation, Honus Wagner is more synonymous with being the most valuable baseball card rather than a top 10 all-time great.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 28, 2013 @ 7:57 am

  23. Gotta love Joe DiMaggio’s 2.1% strikeout rate in 1941. And the fact that the Yankees had 5 of the highest 17 WAR leaders.

    Comment by Spunky — January 28, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  24. I love R.A. Dickey

    Comment by David G — January 28, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  25. Henrich had 31 HR in 1941, not 41 HR.

    Comment by tomdog — March 28, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  26. You realize 2013 hasn’t happened yet, right, e.g. there are still 140 games left in the season?

    Comment by mgraves — April 26, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  27. Heh, reading this a short 9 months later makes this comment very funny.

    Comment by Craig — October 12, 2013 @ 6:57 am

  28. What isn’t clear about that?

    Comment by Pitnick — December 4, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  29. 1961 was a magical season. The M&M boys were amazing. However, in my opinion, Keller, DiMaggio and Henrich was the best Yankee outfield of all time. Of course, if I could have them when they were young and at their peak, I would choose Maris, Mantle and Berra. A 3-4-5 of Maris, Mantle and Berra, with Yogi catching, would be a dream.

    Comment by Frank Brunner — August 14, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

  30. Perhaps the fellow isn’t confused by the statement on a linguistic level, but is simply taking offense that Mickey Mantle is seemingly being dismissed here as a weak defensive CFer.

    I think this is because of Mantle’s reputation; a big part of the discussion about him, especially in his early years, was that he was the consummate “five-tool” player. During the ’50’s, he had a cannon arm, and was considered the fastest player in the league. Those attributes would lead one to assume that he was just as good defensively as he was offensively, and of course millions of fans assumed exactly that.

    It didn’t hurt that in his first 14 years, the Yankees won 12 pennants…clearly, the Mick was doing something right, went the thinking (and actually, he WAS playing at a historically high level; during those 14 years, he was by far the best player in the league (99.9 WAR), nearly TWICE as valuable as any other player in the the AL).

    But he was doing doing it with power and walks. Yeah, kind of a sabermetric guy. As a CFer, he was above-average, but no great shakes. DiMaggio’s reputation as a fielder was even higher than Mantle’s, and though he was actually not in the Mays/Curt Flood/Andruw Jones stratosphere, the metrics do show him as one of the superior defensive CFer’s of his era, perhaps only second to his brother Dom.

    BTW, In the perennial Mantle-Mays debate, modern stats show that Mays was a FAR superior glove-man than the Mick, even before Mantle’s swift decline in the mid-’60’s. Surprisingly, the metrics show that pre-decline Mickey was just as good a baserunner as Willie. I knew he was fast, but wow. And during that era, he was the unequivocally best hitter in baseball.

    Comment by herb smith — January 24, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

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