Best Players in Past 58 Years ……. A Mathematical Study!

I came upon an interesting study a few months ago.  It was written by Don Davis, Mathematics Professor at Lehigh University, Bethleham, PA.   There’s a lot of criteria used in determining different aspects of this study, but for the most part the players names are all recognizable and only a few to make the list are surprises.   The following table lists the top five All Star Teams, using 4 pitchers per team.    It also lists the overall rating percentage by player.   Take a look:

Pos’n First team Second team Third team Fourth team Fifth team
P1 Roger Clemens, 266.2 Tom Seaver, 166.9 Bob Gibson, 129.2 Jim Palmer, 106.4 Johan Santana, 85.4
P2 Greg Maddux, 203.9 Warren Spahn, 160.5 Robin Roberts, 128.3 Gaylord Perry, 96.1 Tom Glavine, 84.8
P3 Randy Johnson, 202.4 Bob Feller, 143.7 Sandy Koufax, 126.0 Phil Niekro, 96.1 Curt Schilling, 80.7
P4 Pedro Martinez, 185.7 Steve Carlton, 140.7 Juan Marichal, 109.5 Fergie Jenkins, 91.7 Bob Lemon, 79.9
C Johnny Bench, 115.5 Yogi Berra, 97.2 Mike Piazza, 82.2 Ivan Rodriguez, 77.7 Gary Carter, 75.5
1B Albert Pujols, 145.4 Jeff Bagwell, 103.2 Eddie Murray, 95.2 Willie McCovey, 92.1 Harmon Killebrew, 86.4
2B Joe Morgan, 140.3 Rod Carew, 94.5 Ryne Sandberg, 92.4 Jackie Robinson, 82.4 Roberto Alomar, 81.1
3B Mike Schmidt, 173.2 George Brett, 119.2 Eddie Mathews, 111.7 Wade Boggs, 108.0 Brooks Robinson, 88.4
SS Alex Rodriguez, 145.4 Cal Ripken, 113.6 Robin Yount, 93.0 Ernie Banks, 90.7 Derek Jeter, 81.6
OF1 Barry Bonds, 270.7 Stan Musial, 205.2 Frank Robinson, 145.3 Ken Griffey, 114.2 Tony Gwynn, 100.3
OF2 Willie Mays, 226.8 Mickey Mantle, 198.3 Rickey Henderson, 141.5 Al Kaline, 110.1 Pete Rose, 99.7
OF3 Ted Williams, 213.4 Hank Aaron, 195.6 Carl Yazstremski, 127.5 Reggie Jackson, 108.9 Roberto Clemente, 99.3
DH Frank Thomas, 115.0 Edgar Martinez, 64.4 Paul Molitor, 62.4 David Ortiz, 43.4  

Are you kidding me?  Can you even begin to imagine a game with all of these guys on the same team?  What was particularly interesting to me is  that mathematically Roger Clemens is the highest rated pitcher and Barry Bonds is the highest rated batter.   These  ratings are through the 2009 season,  and personalities and private lives are not taken into account.   This is just  using good old fashioned baseball statistics.  

I found the study intriguing and spent a lot of time viewing the criteria used in coming up with the lists.  Rather than go into all the particulars here, you can view the study yourself @ Lehigh University  

 This information is being used with the permission of Professor Davis.


6 responses to “Best Players in Past 58 Years ……. A Mathematical Study!

  1. Except we can’t NOT take private lives into consideration. It has been alleged (and convincingly argued) that Clemens and Bonds “juiced.” Therefore, their numbers cannot be considered equal to those of players such as Randy Johnson and Albert Pujols.


  2. That’s why I interjected the comment. Until MLB comes out with definitive rules on the subject, I don’t know what else the professor could have used for criteria.


  3. These are the best players in the game since 1958? How on earth does Jackie Robinson make this list? He played his last game in 1956! For someone in education, this would be a horrible lapse in research.
    Once again, any list you see should be taken with a grain of salt and healthy skepticism.

    As for players being juiced…at this point, does it even really matter? Really? So many players have admitted or been proven to be ‘juiced’, and some of those were mediocre players to begin with that didn’t see much improvement. And who is to say that steroids truly made someone a better player for it. Even using, without proper training and commitment, no one was going to see vast improvement.

    Just look at the stats for Mark McGwire. Talk about a truly one-faceted game, but if steroids helped with bat speed as well, why was his lifetime batting average only .263? I don’t care how many homers you produce, if you can’t hit even .270 over your 16 year career, you don’t belong in the Hall. Barry Bonds, on the other hand, deserves a plaque, as he routinely flashed all of the tools required of a Hall fixture.


  4. Good argument. You might want to contact Don Davis regarding his study. I found him very approachable. Also, take a look at my previous post regarding Pete Rose. A record is a record is a record and in my opinion the records should stand, especially re the Hall of Fame. Thanks for the response. It keeps me on my toes.


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