Best by Number

Buehrle Bobblehead———-

During the off-season, MLB.com manages to churn out stories every day. Some are reports of free agent signings, trades, and new hires — which are actual news. Others are fluff pieces, of which, a small percentage are interesting (to some readers).

Strangely, I found an article titled “The Top Players for Each Uniform Number”, by Paul Casella, to be interesting – Mainly, because it brought back memories of many great players (many before my time), and partly because the White Sox have more than their share of numbers represented.

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Fisk BobbleheadPaul used WAR to rank the players and made the stipulation that the player was eligible only for the number that he wore the most. E.g. Carlton Fisk wore #27 for Boston for 11 years and he wore #72 for the White Sox for 13 years, so he’s #72 for Paul’s article. If you’re not familiar with WAR, it stands for Wins Above Replacement and it rewards a long career (if you’re good), so a Steve Carlton, who pitched for 24 seasons has a higher WAR than a Sandy Koufax, who pitched for 12 seasons, although for a 5-year period (1962-1966), Koufax was arguably the best pitcher ever (5 straight ERA titles, 111 wins, 33 shutouts, 3 Cy Young Awards, an MVP, and 100 Complete Games). BTW – Carlton had a better career than Koufax, winning 4 Cy Young Awards for not-very-good Phillies teams.

———-

Teams did not use uniform numbers regularly until the Yankees and Indians in 1929 although the Indians and Cardinals experimented with numbers on the sleeves for a brief time earlier. So, some really good players never had a number – Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Christy Mathewson, and Rogers Hornsby to name a few. The Yankees just assigned numbers to match their batting order – e.g. Ruth batted 3rd and Gehrig batted 4th.

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Here’s Paul’s current list, which will no doubt change every year.

00: Jeffrey Leonard (9.7 WAR)

0: Al Oliver (43.3 WAR)

1: Ozzie Smith (76.5 WAR)

2: Charlie Gehringer (80.6 WAR) — Other notables: Derek Jeter (71.8)

3: Babe Ruth (183.7 WAR) — Jimmie Foxx (97.4)

4: Rogers Hornsby (127 WAR) — Lou Gehrig (112.4)

5: Albert Pujols (99.7 WAR) — George Brett (88.4)

6: Stan Musial (128.1 WAR) — Al Kaline (92.5)

7: Mickey Mantle (109.7 WAR)

8: Joe Morgan (100.3 WAR) – Carl Yastrzemski(96.1)

9: Ted Williams (123.2 WAR)

10: Lefty Grove (103.6 WAR)

11: Paul Waner (72.8 WAR)

12: Roberto Alomar (66.8 WAR)

13: Alex Rodriguez (118.8 WAR)

14: Pete Rose (79.1 WAR) — Ernie Banks (67.4)

15: Red Ruffing (70.1 WAR)

16: Ted Lyons (71.5 WAR) – White Sox

17: Todd Helton (61.2 WAR)

18: Red Faber (64.8 WAR)

19: Robin Yount (77 WAR)

20: Frank Robinson (107.2 WAR) — Mike Schmidt(106.5)

21: Roger Clemens (140.3 WAR) — Warren Spahn (100.2), Roberto Clemente (94.5)

22: Jim Palmer (69.4 WAR) — Clayton Kershaw (47.2)

23: Ryne Sandberg (67.5 WAR) — Robin Ventura (56), Zack Greinke (51.9)

24: Willie Mays (156.2 WAR)

25: Barry Bonds (162.4 WAR) — Jim Thome (72.9)

26: Wade Boggs (91.1 WAR)

27: Scott Rolen (70 WAR))

28: Bert Blyleven (95.3 WAR)

29: Adrian Beltre (83.8 WAR) — Rod Carew (81.1)

30: Tim Raines (69.1 WAR)

31: Greg Maddux (106.9 WAR) — Fergie Jenkins (84.9) see note-1

32: Steve Carlton (90.4 WAR)

33: Larry Walker (72.6 WAR)

34: Nolan Ryan (81.8 WAR)

35: Phil Niekro (96.6 WAR) — Frank Thomas (73.7)

36: Gaylord Perry (91 WAR)

37: Keith Hernandez (60 WAR)

38: Curt Schilling (79.9 WAR)

39: Larry Jackson (52.2 WAR)

40: Frank Tanana (57.9 WAR) — Bartolo Colon (45.0)

41: Tom Seaver (110.5 WAR)

42: Jackie Robinson (61.5 WAR) — Mariano Rivera (57.1)  note-2

43: Dennis Eckersley (63 WAR)

44: Hank Aaron (142.6 WAR) — Reggie Jackson (73.8 WAR)

45: Bob Gibson (89.9 WAR)

46: Andy Pettitte (60.8 WAR)

47: Tom Glavine (81.5 WAR)

48: Rick Reuschel (70 WAR)

49: Ron Guidry (48.1 WAR)

50: Jamie Moyer (50.4 WAR)

51: Randy Johnson (102.1 WAR)

52: CC Sabathia (55.8 WAR)

53: Don Drysdale (67.2 WAR)

54: Rich “Goose” Gossage (42 WAR)

55: Orel Hershiser (56.8 WAR)

56: Mark Buehrle (58.5 WAR) – White Sox

57: Johan Santana (51.4 WAR)

58: Jonathan Papelbon (24 WAR)

59: Ismael Valdez (24.2 WAR)

60: Dallas Keuchel (12 WAR)

61: Livan Hernandez (31.1 WAR)

62: Jose Quintana (15.1 WAR) — White Sox

63: Rafael Betancourt (14.3 WAR)

64: Mike Fiers (4.9 WAR)

65: Phil Hughes (12.3 WAR)

66: Juan Guzman (24.6 WAR)

67: Francisco Cordova (13.4 WAR)

68: Dellin Betances (7.3 WAR)

69: N/A*

70: George Kontos (2.1 WAR)

71: Taylor Douthit (11.7 WAR)

72: Carlton Fisk (68.3 WAR) — White Sox

73: Ricardo Rincon (7.5 WAR)

74: Kenley Jansen (9.6 WAR)

75: Barry Zito (32.6 WAR)

76: Matt West (0.1 WAR) — 3 scoreless innings for Dodgers in 2015.  note-3

77: D.J. Carrasco (4.6 WAR)

78: Guillermo Rodriguez (-0.1 WAR)

Abreu Bobblehead79: Jose Abreu (9.3 WAR) — White Sox

80: Mason Williams (0.1 WAR)  note-4

81: Lou Lucier (0.2 WAR)

82: N/A*

83: N/A*

84: N/A*

85: Che-Hsuan Lin (-0.2 WAR)

86: Never worn

87: N/A*

88: Rene Gonzales (4.3 WAR) note-5

89: Never worn

90: Never worn

91: Alfredo Aceves (4.5 WAR)

92: Never worn

93: Never worn

94: Dalier Hinojosa (1.1 WAR)

95: Takahito Nomura (-0.6 WAR)

96: Bill Voiselle (10.6 WAR)  note-6

97: Joe Beimel (7.3 WAR)

98: Onelki Garcia (-0.1 WAR)

99: Hyun-jin Ryu (5.7 WAR)

*These numbers have been worn, but by no player for the majority of his career.

The White Sox have 5 players on the list that played the majority of their careers for the team.

———-

note-1 A few years ago, the Cubs retired #31 for both Greg and Fergie.

note-2 Since this number is retired for all teams, Jackie Robinson’s place on the list is safe unless Mariano comes out of retirement.

note-3 Matt pitched 3 scoreless innings for Dodgers in 2015. 

note-4 Mason is the only player to ever wear No. 80 (Yankees-2015). 

note-5 At her retirement ceremony, Nancy Faust (White Sox organist from 1970 to 2010) wore jersey #88. Of course, it’s the number of keys on a piano.

Faust-88  Nancy Faust Bobblehead

note-6 Bill Voiselle wore #96 because he grew up in Ninety-six SC. I wrote about him in the article featuring Carlos May of the White Sox.

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Not mentioned in Paul’s article was the best player ever to wear number 1/8.

Gaedel

On August 19, 1951, Eddie Gaedel (3’7″)batted for the St. Louis Browns and walked on four pitches.

The Browns owner was Bill Veeck.

 

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