When I was a kid, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" came out, and it and they seemed to be the biggest thing on the planet. Next came Supertramp's "Breakfast in America". Then came Pink Floyd's "The Wall", which seemed to raise the bar beyond reach. Well, except for blips on the radar screen like the Police's "Synchronicity", when REM released "Losing My Religion, and U2 more than once with "Joshua Tree" and "All That You Can't Leave Behind". I always thought Weezer would break it wide open after the "Green" album, but they never seemed made it over the top.
Anyway, during the Nineties when most were maintaining that Alex Rodriguez was the "Best Player in the Game", it's now apparent that Barry Bonds was the real king. With Bonds expected to return to the game this weekend after missing most of the season due to injury, I was reminded of the issue of the best player on the plant.
Does Bonds still merit the title given the time lost and his age?
I thought it might be interesting to look into a empirical method for determining the best player. He would have to be having a great year at the timelet's say at least 25 Win Shares, which leaves Bonds out in the cold. And he would have to the career stats to earn the title (i.e., career Win Shares).
My method was for each season to look at all the players with at least 25 Win Shares and then take the one with the greatest career Win Shares. Yeah, it's not perfect, but it turns out to be pretty instructive.
Here's the final list. You'll note that no one qualified in strike years because of the 25-WS minimum, and I'm fine with that. I could prorate the Win Shares in those seasons, but I think that those years were such downers anyway that don't need them besmirching the honor of our made-up title. You may also note that pitchers dominate the list until the end of the first decade in the 1900s.
Finally, the man who wrests the title of best player away from Bonds after a decade isdrum roll pleaseNOT A-Rod. It's not even Vladimir Guerrero. It's A-Rod's teammate, Gary Sheffield. Whether you agree with that or not, he has a pretty good argument for the title this year. One other thing about the list: Every man on it dating back to 1897 who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame (and Rose would go if eligible). Sheffield doesn't get a lot of mention when today's Hall-worthy players are discussed, but he really should. He may have to either put up a monster season or accumulate a bunch of very good years to reach a few big milestones in order to get serious consideration, which is a shame: