Posted tagged ‘Rickey Henderson’

Don Mattingly: Best Player At His Peak?

January 5, 2014

When looking at Don Mattingly’s Hall of Fame case many journalists mention how Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak and before his back was a problem. So that got me thinking- was Don Mattingly truly the best player in baseball during his peak?

Mattingly’s peak was four years- 1984 to 1987. He accumulated a 24.7 fWAR which was good for 6.2 WAR per season or 5.8 WAR/650 PA. So Mattingly was an MVP level player for four seasons- pretty dang good. Mattingly played another eight seasons after 1987 but only had a 3+ WAR season twice and only had 600+ PA a season four times in that span. His average wRC+ was 152 so the man could hit. This was achieved with a high .300’s OBP and mid .500’s SLG.

As the numbers show Mattingly does have a good case for the being the best player in baseball during his peak. But was he really “the best”?


Rickey Henderson- 2392 PA, .289/.397/.484/.391/145+; 274 SB, 26.7 fWAR, 7.3 WAR/650PA

Tim Raines- 2674 PA, .323/.409/.477/.388/146+; 265 SB, 26.6 fWAR, 6.5 WAR/650PA

Wade Boggs- 2844 PA, .353/.442/.489/.411/152+; 31.4 fWAR, 7.2 WAR/650PA

Cal Ripken- 2858 PA, .280/.352/.469/.362/124+; 25.6 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

Mike Schmidt- 2547 PA, .284/.384/.541/.395/148+; 24.3 fWAR, 6.2 WAR/650PA

Tony Gwynn- 2727 PA, .341/.400/.457/.376/139+; 24.2 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

After looking at it, I do not think Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak. Of the candidates, I would take Henderson, Raines, Boggs, Ripken, and Schmidt over him. Why? When it comes to Henderson and Raines I think both were simply better players. Mattingly certainly had more power, but Rickey and Raines were better OBP who could field, hit, and run. Mattingly was simply a hitter who played first base. That is partly why I would also take Mike Schmidt and Cal Ripken as well. Third and short are more valuable positions- and both Schmidt and Ripken were exceptional fielders who are also all-time hitters at their respective positions. As for Boggs, I think he may be the best player between 1984 and 1987, if not Rickey or Raines.

In the end though, it’s super close and still being a top five player at your peak is still impressive.



Top 100 players of all-time: 30-21

January 2, 2010

30. Ricky Henderson


Henderson is the all-time steals leader with 1406. He is known for his flashy catches and his home run trots. Every where he went the fans loved his despite his selfish ego. He won a Gold Glove and a MVP. Henderson is a ten time All-Star.

29. Joe Morgan


Morgan was the spark at the top of the Reds lineup in the 1970’s. He won two MVP awards. After he was done playing ball he became an announcer. He is a five time Gold Glove winner and went to ten All-Star game.

28. Christy Mathewson

1.06/70.2 %/2.23/87.7

Mathewson was the greatest pitcher in Giants history. The right-hander won more games than any other pitcher in National League history and was one of the first five players elected to the Hall of Fame. Mathewson won two triple crowns.

27. Pete Alexander

1.12/71.4 %/2.85

Alexander holds the National League record with 373 victories. He won twenty games in a season as many as nine times. Alexander was a three time triple crown winner. In 1915,1916, and 1920.

26. Jimmie Foxx


Foxx was much more than a power hitter. Although he hit 534 home runs he also lead the league in batting twice. When he retired he was second on the all time home run list. He won three MVP’s and a triple crown. He made nine All-Star appearances.

25. Mike Schmidt


If you don’t consider A-Rod a third baseman then Schmidt is your number one. He had the power of Eddie Mathews and glove of Brooks Robinson. He won ten Gold Gloves and hit over 500 home runs. Schmidt won three MVP’s and made twelve All-Star games.

24. Mel Ott


He came to New York to play in the big leagues at the age of just seventeen years old. He was the first National League player to hit 500 home runs. He played twenty-two years with the Giants and retired with the National League lead in career home runs, runs scored, RBI, and walks.

23. Albert Pujols


He has been this good. Pujols in just nine seasons has hit at least thirty-two home runs every season. His lowest OBP and SLG were in 2002 and they were .394 and .561. Pujols won the 2001 Rookie of the Year and three MVP’s. He made the All-Star game eight times.

22. Greg Maddux

1.14/72.3 %/3.26/96.8

Maddux wasn’t a dominant fast ball pitcher, but he could place his spots. In the 1990’s he won four straight Cy Young’s. Four times in his career he posted an ERA two runs below his league’s average. He also won fourteen Gold Gloves. He was an eight time All-Star.

21. Alex Rodriguez


Rodriguez was a highly touted prospect. He started in his teens with the Mariners during the mid-1990’s. He was a great shortstop with power and defensive ability. By the time he turned thirty Rodriguez had hit 400 home runs. He made the switch to third base when he was traded to the Yankees in 2004. He struggled in the post-season until 2009 when he finally produced and helped the Yankees win their twenty seventh World Series. Rodriguez currently has 583 home runs.