• The Greatest Baseball Player To Wear #23

    Posted by on June 25th, 2013 · Comments (11)

    Who would be your pick and why?

    Player Yrs WAR ▾ Team – Year
    Ryne Sandberg 15 67.58 Chicago Cubs (82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97)
    Luis Tiant 11 66.69 Boston Red Sox (71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78)

    New York Yankees (79, 80)

    California Angels (82)

    Robin Ventura 11 55.88 Chicago White Sox (90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98)

    Los Angeles Dodgers (03, 04)

    Ted Simmons 21 50.22 St. Louis Cardinals (68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80)

    Milwaukee Brewers (81, 82, 83, 84, 85)

    Atlanta Braves (86, 87, 88)

    Javier Vazquez 7 46.02 Montreal Expos (99, 00, 01, 02, 03)

    Arizona Diamondbacks (05)

    Florida Marlins (11)

    Don Mattingly 12 42.24 New York Yankees (84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95)
    Claude Osteen 9 41.62 Los Angeles Dodgers (65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73)
    David Justice 13 40.42 Atlanta Braves (89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96)

    Cleveland Indians (97, 98, 99, 00)

    Oakland Athletics (02)

    Virgil Trucks 6 40.15 Chicago White Sox (53, 54, 55)

    Detroit Tigers (56)

    Kansas City Athletics (57, 58)

    Kirk Gibson 15 38.15 Detroit Tigers (79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 93, 94, 95)

    Los Angeles Dodgers (88, 89, 90)

    Mark Gubicza 14 37.95 Kansas City Royals (84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96)

    Anaheim Angels (97)

    Bobby Thomson 6 33.10 New York Giants (46, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53)
    Zack Greinke 8 32.74 Kansas City Royals (04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10)

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (12)

    Johnny Logan 12 32.56 Boston Braves (51, 52)

    Milwaukee Braves (53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61)

    Pittsburgh Pirates (63)

    Adrian Gonzalez 7 31.40 San Diego Padres (06, 07, 08, 09, 10)

    Los Angeles Dodgers (12, 13)

    Greg Vaughn 12 30.65 Milwaukee Brewers (90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96)

    San Diego Padres (98)

    Cincinnati Reds (99)

    Tampa Bay Devil Rays (00, 01, 02)

    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 6/25/2013.

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    Comments on The Greatest Baseball Player To Wear #23

    1. June 25th, 2013 | 9:23 am

      Some background here. My 9-year old son made the Little All-Star team for his division.

      His uniform number of choice, through the years, has been # 2 (for the obvious reason). He wears it on his 9U travel team. And, more times than not, he gets it on his Little League teams.

      Most of the kids on his all-star team are older than him. There’s 12 on the team. Seven of them are at least 18 months older than him. And, three others are a year older than him. So, the All-Star jerseys run on the big side and he had to take the number they assigned to him – which was one of the smaller uniform vests they had…since he’s one of the youngest and smallest on the team. And, the number was 23.

      After he got his uniform this weekend, he and I sat down and watched the Mattingly Yankeeography on DVD and it opened up his eyes on the number.

      Funny aside, this season, on his Little League team, he pitched and caught in every game. And, when he wasn’t on the mound or behind the plate, he played first, and, a little bit at short. And, on his travel team – where most of the kids are a grade older than him – he plays CF and 3B. So, where is he playing on the All-Star team in the tournament? He’s going to be their starting shortstop – according to his manager. And, he wants him to play SS the full game unless they need him to pitch. So, it’s funny, at least to me, that the one time he’s not wearing # 2 is the team where he’s the starting SS. Anyway…

      Someone saw him practicing with the all-stars and then reached out to me to see if he wanted to play on his 10U travel team this summer. Most of the kids on that team are closer to 11 now and I told the manager that my son just turned 9 about a month ago. He said that he didn’t care and he wanted him on the team nonetheless. So, in addition to doing tournaments with his 9U travel team this summer, he’s now going to play on this 10U team too. And, last night, the manager of the 10U team asked him what number he wanted to wear this summer. My son told him that #2 was his first choice and #23 was his second choice.

      Someone already grabbed two, so, it will be #23 again for him.

      And, this whole thing got me thinking about baseball players who have wore #23.

      Sandberg, Simmons, Mattingly, Gibson, Ventura…it’s not a bad bunch, at all.

    2. EHawk
      June 25th, 2013 | 10:05 am

      Oh I gotta go with Donny Baseball for sure. I was around your son’s age when Mattingly was in his prime and he was my idol. I always wanted #23 if I could get it and back then it was the most popular number…also I think because Michael Jordan wore it as well. Mattingly was one of the “coolest” players in baseball and I think that all started when he had that Converse “Hitman” poster that came out. I had that on my wall in my room and I’m still kicking myself to this day for not preserving it! I think my mom ended up tossing it when I went to college.

      Seeing Donny back in Yankee Stadium and last week and not part of the Yanks just didn’t seem right…I’m hoping he finds his way back to the organization one day.

    3. lardin
      June 25th, 2013 | 12:47 pm

      I look at this list an all I see is the problem with WAR. Does anyone really think Javier Vasquez was a better player than Don Mattingly?

    4. June 25th, 2013 | 1:27 pm

      Is there a case that WAR is a different animal for pitchers compared to position players?

    5. MJ Recanati
      June 25th, 2013 | 1:53 pm

      @ lardin:
      @ Steve L.:
      It’s mainly the fact that WAR rewards the guys that play up the middle with a valuable positional adjustment. As such, LF, RF and 1B get dinged.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/war/positional-adjustment/

    6. MJ Recanati
      June 25th, 2013 | 1:57 pm

      @ Steve L.:
      Just looked at Vazquez’s bWAR. According to the link, he was worth 43.3 bWAR over his career. Your post has him at 46.02. Just curious where the discrepancy in figures comes in, since I assumed you used B-R’s data for your post.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vazquja01.shtml

    7. MJ Recanati
      June 25th, 2013 | 1:59 pm

      EHawk wrote:

      Mattingly was one of the “coolest” players in baseball and I think that all started when he had that Converse “Hitman” poster that came out. I had that on my wall in my room and I’m still kicking myself to this day for not preserving it! I think my mom ended up tossing it when I went to college.

      Funny thing is that I had that same poster and brought it with me to college for my freshman dorm. 😀

    8. June 25th, 2013 | 2:09 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Just looked at Vazquez’s bWAR. According to the link, he was worth 43.3 bWAR over his career. Your post has him at 46.02. Just curious where the discrepancy in figures comes in, since I assumed you used B-R’s data for your post.

      Good question. I’ll have to ask the B-R guys.

    9. Evan3457
      June 25th, 2013 | 6:45 pm

      The reasons why Javy Vasquez has more career WAR than Mattingly:

      1. Don had just 6 good to great seasons; the remainder of his career was mediocre. In 1984-1989 he piled up 33 of his 42 WAR; in the other 8 seasons of his career, he was mediocre, piling up about 9 WAR. In addition, his career, effectively 12 seasons, is short for a “great player”

      2. Javy Vasquez, on the other hand, had four 6 WAR seasons scattered through his 14 major league season; none, obviously for the Yankees. But in his other ten seasons, he had 8 seasons of between 2 and 5 WAR, and that allows him to eke by Mattingly in career WAR.

      3. Mattingly’s ‘triple crown’ category numbers make his peak appear greater than it was; he never had even an 8 WAR season. One of the reasons: he never drew a high number of walks, and OBA is a key offensive component, and a key component of WAR. Mattingly never had a season in which his OBA was as high as .400; not even 1985, when he hit .352. It isn’t as though he wasn’t the best 1st baseman in the league; he was, but not by as great a margin as his his ‘triple crown’ numbers would indicate.

    10. Evan3457
      June 25th, 2013 | 6:51 pm

      Oh, and the greatest player to wear #23 is Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg is the Hall of Famer.

      Peak value? Mattingly, maybe. But overall career: Sandberg.

    11. June 27th, 2013 | 12:32 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Good question. I’ll have to ask the B-R guys.

      FYI, It looks like it’s just adding up batting + pitching WAR on the #s page.

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