Tuesday, July 18, 2017
All-Name Teams: Part Six
This is one of the stupider ways I have ever spent a lot of time: I exhaustively assembled MLB all-name teams, coming up with the best all-time baseball teams comprised of players with the same first name. This is the sixth in a series of posts revealing and explaining the most dominant such teams. We've already examined the top eight all-name teams:
And seven runners-up: Charles, Dave, Frank, Jack, Larry, Michael, and Tom.
Let's review what the best teams have to offer, and then we'll get to the real reason you're here: the All-Girl-Names Team. I think it could beat any of the top eight.
Best All-Name Infields
1. Ed — Eddie Murray, Eddie Collins, Edgar Renteria, Eddie Mathews
2. Lou — Lou Gehrig, Lou Whitaker, Luis Aparicio, Lou Boudreau
3. John — Johnny Mize, Bid McPhee or Johnny Evers, John Henry Lloyd, John McGraw
4. George — George Sisler, George Scales, George Davis, George Brett
5. William — Willie McCovey, Willie Randolph, Willie Wells, Bill Dahlen
The weakest infield among the top eight all-name teams is Team Robert (Bob Watson, Roberto Alomar, Bobby Wallace, Bob Elliott).
The best infield outside the top eight all-name teams is either Team Frank (Frank Chance, Frankie Frisch, Frankie Crosetti, Home Run Baker) or Team Michael (Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Mike Bordick, Mike Schmidt).
Best All-Name Outfields
1. George — Mule Suttles, George Van Haltren, Babe Ruth
2. William — Billy Hamilton, Willie Mays, Willie Keeler
3. Joe — Joe Medwick, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Jackson
4. Ed — Ed Delahanty, Edd Roush, Duke Snider
5. Pete — Pete Hill, Pete Browning, Pete Rose
If you disallow nicknames, the order would probably go: Will, Joe, Jim, Henry, Ed. Team Henry boasts Heinie Manush, Hank Leiber, and Hank Aaron.
The weakest outfield among the top eight all-name teams is probably Team John (Juan Gonzalez, Johnny Damon, Johnny Callison), though if you disallow nicknames, the Lous would really struggle (Luis Gonzalez, Lew Ford, and Lou Piniella, with Lou Brock also in the mix somewhere).
The best outfields beyond the top eight all-name teams, obviously, are Team Pete and Team Henry. John Preston "Pete" Hill was a star in black baseball before the Negro Leagues were organized, drawing comparisons to Ty Cobb. I'd encourage you to read his page at the Baseball Hall of Fame if you're not familiar. Louis Rogers "Pete" Browning was a three-time batting champion with a .341 lifetime average and power. You've probably heard of Pete Rose.
Manush and Aaron are in Cooperstown, but Leiber holds them back from ranking among the very best all-name outfields. He was a three-time All-Star but not a truly great player.
Best All-Name Catchers
top eight teams only — sorry, Team Josh
1. John — Johnny Bench
2. Lou — Louis Santop
3. Jim — Biz Mackey
4. William — Bill Dickey
5. Joe — Joe Torre
6. George — Jorge Posada
7. Robert — Bob Boone
8. Ed — Ed Bailey
If you disallow nicknames, Jim Sundberg would probably rate 6th, just ahead of Boone.
Best All-Name Pitching Rotation
1. Robert — Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, Robin Roberts or Bob Friend, Bob Lemon
2. Charles — Kid Nichols, Bullet Rogan, Old Hoss Radbourn, Dazzy Vance, Red Ruffing
3. John — John Clarkson, John Smoltz, Juan Marichal, Jack Chesbro, Tommy John or Jack Morris
4. Jim — Jim Palmer, Pud Galvin, Jim Bunning, Jim McCormick, Jim Kaat
5. Ed — Ed Plank, Ed Walsh, Whitey Ford, Eddie Cicotte, Ed Reulbach
As I expressed several times last week, I feel like Team Charles is cheating here. None of their pitchers are called Charlie!
The weakest rotation among the top eight all-name teams is either George (Rube Waddell, George Stovey, George Uhle, George Mullin, George Wilson) or Lou (Luis Tiant, Lew Burdette, Luis Tiant Sr., Lou Fette, Lew Richie).
The best pitching staff outside the top eight all-name teams is Team Charles; it would be a pretty solid staff even without the nickname guys. The All-Tom Team also has a very strong rotation (Tom Seaver, Tom Glavine, Tommy John, Tommy Bond, Tommy Bridges).
The Best All-Name Teams
I've been pretty upfront throughout this project: the Lous are the most marginal of the top eight teams I profiled. They have a terrific infield, and if you include Hack Wilson, their outfield is good. But their pitching staff is weak in the context of this project, and the bench is shallow. Team Frank, Team Mike, and Team Charles — if you allow the all-nickname pitching corps — are probably all just as good.
Team George ranks seventh. It desperately needs players known by their nicknames (Babe Ruth, Mule Suttles, Rube Waddell) even to rank clearly ahead of the Lous. The All-George Team, like the All-Lou roster, has a weak pitching staff, and without Ruth and Suttles, the outfield would be suspect. I think Babe Ruth is the best player of all time, but he's not enough to carry the team.
If you give Ruth enough credit, you might argue that the George team surpasses the All-John Team. The Johnnies are the only all-name team in the top eight without a Hall of Fame outfielder, but they make up for it with a strong infield, an excellent pitching staff, and the best catcher in this project. The outfield won't blow you away, but there are no glaring weaknesses.
The other team in the bottom half of the top eight is Team Robert. It's all defense, no offense. The Robs have exceptional pitching and great fielding, but they'll have trouble scoring runs against the pitchers of the other all-name teams. There's no one on the All-Rob Team who hit 300 home runs, no one with 1,000 extra-base hits. Their best hitter is either Roberto Clemente or Indian Bob Johnson. The Roberts have the weakest offense among the top eight, just as clearly as they have the greatest defense.
The top four teams are the ones that I think you could reasonably argue are the greatest all-name teams in baseball history (through 2016). I'm talking about Ed, Jim, Joe, and Will.
I suppose the one with the weakest argument is All-Ed Team. If you count Teds — especially Ted Williams, Ted Simmons, and Ted Lyons — then Team Ed would probably be the best in this whole project. Sticking to Eds, though, there probably aren't enough outstanding players to consistently overcome the Jims, Joes, and Wills. The All-Ed roster just isn't as deep as the others.
I've been effusive in my praise of Team William, but I think the pitching staff precludes its being the best all-name team. For one game, sure, start Bill Foster and I'll put the Wills against anyone. They have a Hall of Fame catcher, terrific infield, Hall of Fame outfield that includes Willie Mays, and everyone on the bench is a Hall of Famer. But when you get to the fourth and fifth man in the pitching rotation, I don't know that I'd want to bet on William against Jim and Joe.
Bill James suggested that an All-Jim Team would beat any other all-name team. I don't think he's far off. The closest the Jims have to a weakness is middle infield, with Jim Gilliam and Jim Fregosi, but those are very good players. The pitching staff is excellent and the bench and bullpen are as deep as anyone's. But the Jims only have one real superstar, one guy who might be a top-25 all-time player, and even that one, Jimmie Foxx, isn't a lock to make the top 25. Everyone on the All-Jim roster is very good, but I'm not sure it's enough to rank as the best roster of any name.
That honor, instead, goes to Team Joe. It's close, obviously. But let's walk through the All-Joe starting lineup: Joe Torre, Joey Votto, Joe Morgan, Joe Cronin, Joe Sewell or Arky Vaughan, Joe Medwick, Joe DiMaggio, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Joe Kelley.
The weakest part of the team is its infield, with Joey Votto still in mid-career. He's a Gold Glove first baseman with a .312 / .424/ .539 career batting line and an NL MVP Award. Joe Morgan is an all-time great, while Cronin, Sewell, and Vaughan are all Hall of Famers.
The All-Joe Team has a distinctly better outfield than the Jims, at every position: Joe Medwick over Jimmy Sheckard, Joe DiMaggio over Cool Papa Bell, and Joe Jackson over Jimmy Wynn. Team Joe has three Hall of Fame pitchers, with the rest of the rotation strong enough to push Smokey Joe Wood to the bullpen. The Joes aren't the best anywhere on the diamond, but they have absolutely no weaknesses; they're the deepest and the best overall. If there were an all-name Tournament of Champions, I'd put my dollar on the All-Joe Team.
* * *
does not include Adrian, Chick, Francis, Frankie, Kerry, Pat, Randy, Robin, Sammy, Sandy, Terry, Torii, or Babe
Before I unveil the lineup, here are the first names and nicknames this team uses, in alphabetical order: Addie, Allie, Candy, Christy, Coco, Connie, Cupid, Dolly, Dots, Fergie, Gabby, Ginger, Jackie, Jody, Judy, Kiki, Lindy, Madison, Minnie, Nellie, Pink, Sadie, Sherry, and Tris.
It killed me to leave off Jo-Jo Moore, Bubbles Hargrave, and Baby Doll Jacobson. They were all good players, but missed the roster. Cute names can't overcome talent.
C: Gabby Hartnett
1B: Dots Miller
2B: Jackie Robinson
SS: Nellie Fox
3B: Judy Johnson
LF: Minnie Minoso
CF: Tris Speaker
RF: Kiki Cuyler
DH: Sherry Magee
Rotation: Christy Mathewson, Fergie Jenkins, Addie Joss, Sadie McMahon, Candy Cummings
Bench: catcher Jody Davis, infielder Cupid Childs, outfielders Ginger Beaumont and Coco Crisp
Bullpen: Madison Bumgarner, Dolly Gray, Pink Hawley, Lindy McDaniel, Connie Rector, Allie Reynolds, Sherry Smith
There are 10 Hall of Famers with girl names: Gabby Hartnett, Jackie Robinson, Nellie Fox, Judy Johnson, Tris Speaker, Kiki Cuyler, Christy Mathewson, Fergie Jenkins, Addie Joss, and Candy Cummings. Kiki isn't a standard boy's name or girl's name, but it's awfully cutesy for a guy, and Cuyler's real name was Hazen Shirley Cuyler. He's on the team.
This is a terrific roster, obviously. Six of the nine starting batters are in Cooperstown, and two of the other three (Minnie Miñoso and Sherry Magee) probably should be. Magee retired in 1919, right before the lively ball. In 1910, he won the Slash Stat Triple Crown, leading the NL in batting, OBP, and slugging. He also led the majors in both runs and RBI. Overall, Magee led the NL once in hits, twice in total bases, twice in slugging, three times in XBH, and four times in RBI. He retired with over 2,000 hits, 400 doubles, 400 stolen bases, 1,100 runs and RBI, and more walks than strikeouts, despite playing his whole career during Deadball.
Dots Miller is the weakest player on the team. He played first and second base for the Pirates and Cardinals around the same time Sherry Magee was playing for the Phillies. He was a good player, not a great one, but he was an MVP candidate in 1913 and '14, and he got over 1,500 hits in the National League. Backup outfielder Ginger Beaumont led the NL in hits four times. He also led in batting average in 1902, in runs and total bases in 1903.
Nellie Fox plays out of position, at shortstop, because there aren't — as far as I'm aware — any decent shortstops with girly-sounding names. (There's Granny Hamner, I guess; he could also replace Cupid Childs on the bench if you insist on pointing out that Cupid is really a boy's name.) Fox was a superb fielder who won't be a disaster at short, and I get goosebumps thinking about a Nellie Fox to Jackie Robinson double play combination. Judy Johnson was a right-handed contact hitter in the Negro Leagues, and a very good fielder.
The pitching staff features four Hall of Famers. Candy Cummings may or may not have invented the curveball, but he went 145-94 with a 2.49 ERA in a high-scoring era. McMahon played in the 1890s, winning 173 games. He led his league in strikeouts once (1890) and shutouts twice ('91 and '95). This team has a very strong bullpen, led by Pink Hawley and Allie Reynolds. Connie Rector pitched in the Negro Leagues for more than 20 years. In 1929, he went 12-0 with one save in 13 league appearances.
Here's the batting order I came up with:
1. Jackie, 2B
2. Tris, CF
3. Minnie, LF
4. Sherry, DH
5. Kiki, RF
6. Gabby, C
7. Nellie, SS
8. Judy, 3B
9. Dots, 1B
Tris Speaker and Nellie Fox are the only left-handed batters in the starting lineup, but bench players Cupid Childs and Ginger Beaumont hit left-handed, and Coco Crisp was a switch-hitter. Cupid, Ginger, and Coco could platoon or pinch-hit against right-handed pitchers.
It's obviously unfair to compare this roster to the other all-name teams, but what distinguishes it is strength across the board. The Wills have better position players, but the girls have a much deeper pitching staff, including four HOFers and a loaded bullpen. This team would be even stronger if you relaxed naming restrictions to include players with potentially feminine names, like Adrian Beltre, Randy Johnson, Robin Roberts, Robin Yount, Sammy Sosa, Sandy Koufax, and Babe Ruth.
I hope you enjoyed this project; here are the other articles.