Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Wins Above Replacement

We're getting closer to baseball season.  Out of all the MLB players who I remember seeing in their prime (a list that does not include Willie Mays or Hank Aaron), here are the 20 best -- according to Wins Above Replacement:

1.  Barry Bonds:  162.8
2.  Roger Clemens:  139.2
3.  Alex Rodriguez:  117.5
4.  Rickey Henderson:  111.2
5.  Tom Seaver:  109.9
6.  Mike Schmidt:  106.9
7.  Greg Maddux:  106.6
8.  Randy Johnson:  101.1
9.  Albert Pujols:  100.8
10.  Joe Morgan:  100.5
11.  Carl Yastrzemski:  96.4
12.  Phil Niekro:  95.9
13.  Cal Ripken, Jr.:  95.9
14.  Bert Blyleven:  94.5
15.  Adrian Beltre:  93.6
16.  Wade Boggs:  91.4
17.  Steve Carlton:  90.2
18.  Gaylord Perry:  90.0
19.  George Brett:  88.6
20.  Chipper Jones:  85.3

Remember that in Wins Above Replacement you are compared to people who play your position -- so good hitting third basemen and shortstops get more credit than, say, a good-hitting left fielder.  Also, pitchers who chew up lots and lots of innings are really valuable.

On the whole, this list generally matches up with my recollections and does a good job of showing why Wins Above Replacement is such a useful stat.

One final observation:  I have never seen any athlete, in any team sport, who was close to being as good as Barry Bonds was from 2001 through 2004.  It was like watching someone play a video game with a cheat code.


  1. I can't much argue with this ranking. I'd probably get Rickey Henderson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Joe Morgan and then maybe Mike Schmidt on my own felt-sense list before Alex Rodriguez, but this is awfully good. Also, Howie Kendrick would be about No. 10 on my list because he has played about 2,000 games against the A's and never once failed to get on base in them.

    1. Howie Kendrick also won both the pennant and the World Series for the Nats in 2019.

    2. Only time I've rooted for Howie Kendrick.

    3. It's a lot more satisfying to root for Howie Kendrick than it is to root against him.

  2. The home run he hit to put the Nats in the lead against the Astros in Game Seven was one of the most surprising things that's ever happened to me as a fan.