Another baseball post, because 'tis the season. 'Tis a very long season, but still, 'tis the season. If you're not into baseball, don't worry; I'll have a post on fat people tomorrow. Even if you like baseball, I'm warning you that this might still be a little nerdy for your taste. Feel free to skip it if stats and the game's history bore you. Again, you can read about fats tomorrow.
Anyhoo, everyone knows what happened with the Yankees and their injury/age issues this offseason. Still, I was looking at the roster the other day and was amazed by how accomplished their players are. When I say accomplished, I'm talking about their career awards, All-Star Game appearances, fame, and overall contributions over the course of their time in baseball. Granted, most of the Yanks' recognizable players are over-the-hill, but I decided to do an experiment.
I wanted to use Baseball-Reference.com's EloRater to compare the Yankees' career ratings to those of the Big Red Machine.
First, a word on the EloRater. It is essentially a way for fans to rank the best baseball players of all time. It works through a system of two-player games with a bunch of difficult-to-understand formulas. Basically, if you want to participate, it will ask you a question like "Who's better? Alex Gonzalez or Todd Walker?" It will show you both players' career stats, then pool your votes with lots of other fans to come up with overall ratings. Ratings are compiled for both pitchers and batters. The EloRater Website has ratings for thousands of players, both historical and current.* The ratings are also constantly changing, and these ratings are current as of Wednesday night.
*Participating in the EloRater is a great way to for an avid baseball fan with a computer to kill time at work.
Like I said, I wanted to compare the 2013 Yanks to the 1976 "Big Red Machine" Reds, who many intelligent baseball people call the best team ever. I have included the EloRater rating for the top career performers on each team. For the Yankees, I also included the players that bookend them on the list. You'll see what I mean.
Mariano Rivera EloRater Rating #22 (between #21 Gaylord Perry and #23 Fergie Jenkins)
CC Sabathia #41 (between #40 Jim Kaat and #42 Addie Joss)
Andy Pettitte #66 (between #65 Roy Halladay and #67 Jerry Koosman)
Derek Jeter #66 (between #65 Jeff Bagwell and #67 Joe Morgan)
Alex Rodriguez #128 (between #127 Lou Whitaker and #129 Bernie Williams)
Robinson Cano #179 (between #178 Robin Ventura and #180 Earl Averill)
Mark Teixeira #262 (between #261 Torii Hunter and #263 Jimmy Sheckard)
Curtis Granderson #311 (between #310 Joe Tinker and #312 Carney Lansford)
Some things that jumped out at me about this year's Yankees and the EloRater:
1. Fans hate A-Rod. I mean, we already knew this, but c'mon. The guy has 647 career homers and three MVP awards, and he's two spots behind "Home Run" Baker, who hit 93 dingers over his 13-year big league career.
2. The Yankees have the top three active pitchers as measured by career ratings. Pretty cool.
3. Fans pick Jeter as the 66th-best batter and Pettitte as the 66th-best pitcher ever. Nice coincidence.
4. According to the EloRater, CC Sabathia (#41) is already ahead of Yankees legend Whitey Ford (#43).
5. Expect Robbie Cano to climb into that Top 100 very soon.
Now let's take a look at the Big Red Machine:
Pete Rose EloRater Rating #34
Joe Morgan #67
Johnny Bench #68
Tony Perez #254
George Foster #256
Dave Concepcion #336
Ken Griffey, Sr. #367 (His son Junior is #26.)
Cesar Geronimo #1083
*No pitcher in the top 400.
Now, obviously, those guys were awesome in the mid-1970's. The Great Eight, as their everyday lineup is called, was possibly the most formidable ever. Still, as far as how fans recognize their careers, the 1976 Reds couldn't hold a candle to this year's Yankees. While the Yankees are not currently the "players they used to be," they'll all still be around for at least a little while longer.
So I guess my main takeway from this exercise is that I'm really going to appreciate going to Yankees games this season, whether they win the division or not. Even though most of their accomplished position players are hurt right now, fans still have about a 3-in-5 chance of seeing a Top-66 pitcher of all-time, not to mention one of the three most accomplished active pitchers. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.