Thursday, March 17, 2011

Best Tigers Outfields since 1930

In an earlier post, I looked at the best outfields in the history of the game according to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Offense Wins Above Replacement (oWAR).  Both statistics are explained in the previous post.  We saw that the Tigers outfields of the early 20th century did quite well.  These outfields including stars such as Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann and Bobby Veach had three of the top 15 combined WARs and five of the top 15 combined oWARs.

My next post was going to be the top 15 Tigers outfields of all time, but it turned out to be the same cast of characters.  In fact 13 of the top outfields by WAR and 14 of the top 15 by oWAR involved Ty Cobb. That wasn't a very interesting list, so instead, I'm presenting the top 15 Tiger outfields by WAR since 1930 in Table 1 below.  I also lowered the plate appearance requirement to 250 for each outfielder.

The best Bengals outfield since 1930 was Al Kaline, Roky Colavito and Bill Bruton in 1961.  They combined for 18.7 WAR which means that they were about 19 wins better than a trio of replacement players.  They finished fourth on the Tigers all-time list.  This group was an important part of a team that won 101 games and finished in second place behind the Yankees.  As we saw in the previous post, those Yankees had the fourth best outfield ever with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra combining for 21.5 WAR.

Number two on the Tigers post-1930 list list was the 2007 triplet of Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames.  Most of you remember Ordonez putting up MVP quality numbers that year but finishing second in the voting to Alex Rodriguez who had an even better season.  It was also the year of Granderson's quad twenty - 20 homers, 20 triples, 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases.  They were 15th on the Tigers overall leader board. 

The 1967 - 1969 outfields of Kaline, Willie Horton and Jim Northrup finished third, fourth and 15th.  Kaline's name shows up a lot on this table - nine times to be precise.  

Fans of the 1980s Tigers will notice that the 1983-1984 outfields did quite well.  Chet Lemon and Larry Herndon were part of each of those outfields.  Glenn Wilson and Kirk Gibson completed the outfields in 1983 and 1984 respectively.


Table 1: Best Tigers Outfields by WAR since 1930


Year
Player 1
WAR
Player 2
WAR
Player 3
WAR
Total WAR
1961
Al Kaline
8.3
Rocky Colavito
7.9
Bill Bruton
2.5
18.7
2007
Magglio Ordonez
8.9
Curtis Granderson
6.3
Marcus Thames
0.6
15.8
1968
Willie Horton
5.6
Jim Northrup
5.6
Al Kaline
3.7
14.9
1967
Al Kaline
7.3
Willie Horton
3.3
Jim Northrup
2.7
13.3
1959
Al Kaline
6.0
Harvey Kuenn
4.5
Charlie Maxwell
2.5
13.0
1962
Rocky Colavito
5.8
Al Kaline
4.2
Bill Bruton
2.6
12.6
1955
Al Kaline
9.0
Bill Tuttle
2.5
Jim Delsing
0.3
11.8
1984
Chet Lemon
6.0
Kirk Gibson
5.1
Larry Herndon
0.7
11.8
1950
Hoot Evers
4.4
Vic Wertz
4.1
Johnny Groth
2.8
11.3
1940
Hank Greenberg
6.4
Barney McCosky
4.0
Bruce Campbell
0.8
11.2
1983
Chet Lemon
5.7
Larry Herndon
3.3
Glenn Wilson
2.0
11.0
1958
Al Kaline
6.1
Charlie Maxwell
2.5
Harvey Kuenn
2.0
10.6
1966
Al Kaline
5.8
Willie Horton
2.3
Jim Northrup
2.3
10.4
1936
Goose Goslin
3.6
Gee Walker
3.6
Al Simmons
3.1
10.3
1969
Jim Northrup
4.7
Al Kaline
2.9
Willie Horton
2.6
10.2

Next, I'll drop the fielding portion of WAR and rank the Tigers outfields since 1930 by oWAR.  Table 2 shows that the 2007 outfield finished first while the 1961 outfield finished second.  The 1959 threesome of Kaline, Harvey Kuenn and Charlie Maxwell was third.

One of the great things about doing a historical list like this is seeing the names of childhood favorites.  With fielding removed, two of my favorite outfields from the 1970s appeared on this list.  The 1976 outfield of Ron Leflore, Rusty Staub and Ben Oglivie finished eighth.  Right after that at number nine was Leflore, Steve Kemp and Champ Summers in 1979. 

I can't provide anything here for fans of the 1990's Tigers, but most of us would prefer to forget those years anyway.  Just about every other era is represented in one or both of these tables.

Table 2: Best Tigers Outfields by oWAR Since 1930


Year
Player 1
oWAR
Player 2
oWAR
Player 3
oWAR
Total oWAR
2007
Magglio Ordonez
7.4
Curtis Granderson
5.9
Marcus Thames
0.5
13.8
1961
Al Kaline
5.4
Rocky Colavito
6.0
Bill Bruton
1.6
12.9
1959
Al Kaline
5.3
Harvey Kuenn
5.5
Charlie Maxwell
2.1
12.8
1968
Willie Horton
5.8
Jim Northrup
3.6
Al Kaline
3.2
12.7
1955
Al Kaline
8.0
Bill Tuttle
3.1
Jim Delsing
1.2
12.3
1940
Hank Greenberg
6.6
Barney McCosky
4.0
Bruce Campbell
0.8
11.4
1950
Hoot Evers
4.0
Vic Wertz
3.9
Johnny Groth
3.3
11.2
1976
Ron LeFlore
5.0
Rusty Staub
4.5
Ben Oglivie
1.5
11.0
1979
Steve Kemp
4.5
Ron LeFlore
3.4
Champ Summers
3.0
10.9
1967
Al Kaline
6.2
Willie Horton
2.8
Jim Northrup
1.9
10.8
1936
Goose Goslin
3.9
Gee Walker
3.4
Al Simmons
2.9
10.2
1984
Chet Lemon
4.0
Kirk Gibson
5.1
Larry Herndon
1.1
10.2
1966
Al Kaline
5.8
Willie Horton
2.6
Jim Northrup
1.3
9.7
1962
Rocky Colavito
4.0
Al Kaline
3.4
Bill Bruton
2.3
9.6
1965
Al Kaline
4.4
Willie Horton
3.1
Don Demeter
1.7
9.2

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