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Teams with the most players with at least 5 WAR

Posted by Andy on February 18, 2011

Check out the teams since 1901 with the most players registering at least 5 Wins Above Replacement in the same season.

First, here are the most batters:

Rk Year Tm #Matching
1 1939 New York Yankees 6 Bill Dickey / Joe DiMaggio / Joe Gordon / Charlie Keller / Red Rolfe / George Selkirk
2 2001 Seattle Mariners 5 Bret Boone / Mike Cameron / Edgar Martinez / John Olerud / Ichiro Suzuki
3 1972 Cincinnati Reds 5 Johnny Bench / Joe Morgan / Tony Perez / Pete Rose / Bobby Tolan
4 2003 Atlanta Braves 4 Marcus Giles / Andruw Jones / Javy Lopez / Gary Sheffield
5 2003 St. Louis Cardinals 4 Jim Edmonds / Albert Pujols / Edgar Renteria / Scott Rolen
6 1999 Cleveland Indians 4 Roberto Alomar / Kenny Lofton / Manny Ramirez / Omar Vizquel
7 1998 Houston Astros 4 Moises Alou / Jeff Bagwell / Derek Bell / Craig Biggio
8 1998 New York Yankees 4 Scott Brosius / Derek Jeter / Paul O'Neill / Bernie Williams
9 1993 Toronto Blue Jays 4 Roberto Alomar / Paul Molitor / John Olerud / Devon White
10 1982 Milwaukee Brewers 4 Cecil Cooper / Paul Molitor / Gorman Thomas / Robin Yount
11 1974 Cincinnati Reds 4 Johnny Bench / Dave Concepcion / Joe Morgan / Pete Rose
12 1974 Oakland Athletics 4 Sal Bando / Bert Campaneris / Reggie Jackson / Joe Rudi
13 1973 Cincinnati Reds 4 Johnny Bench / Joe Morgan / Tony Perez / Pete Rose
14 1973 Oakland Athletics 4 Sal Bando / Reggie Jackson / Bill North / Gene Tenace
15 1968 Detroit Tigers 4 Bill Freehan / Willie Horton / Dick McAuliffe / Jim Northrup
16 1967 St. Louis Cardinals 4 Lou Brock / Orlando Cepeda / Curt Flood / Tim McCarver
17 1964 Milwaukee Braves 4 Hank Aaron / Rico Carty / Denis Menke / Joe Torre
18 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers 4 Roy Campanella / Pee Wee Reese / Jackie Robinson / Duke Snider
19 1945 Brooklyn Dodgers 4 Augie Galan / Goody Rosen / Eddie Stanky / Dixie Walker
20 1942 New York Yankees 4 Joe DiMaggio / Joe Gordon / Charlie Keller / Phil Rizzuto
21 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers 4 Dolph Camilli / Joe Medwick / Pete Reiser / Dixie Walker
22 1939 Cincinnati Reds 4 Lonny Frey / Ival Goodman / Frank McCormick / Billy Myers
23 1935 Chicago Cubs 4 Augie Galan / Stan Hack / Gabby Hartnett / Billy Herman
24 1935 Detroit Tigers 4 Mickey Cochrane / Charlie Gehringer / Hank Greenberg / Billy Rogell
25 1932 New York Yankees 4 Earle Combs / Lou Gehrig / Tony Lazzeri / Babe Ruth
26 1930 Chicago Cubs 4 Kiki Cuyler / Woody English / Gabby Hartnett / Hack Wilson
27 1930 New York Giants 4 Travis Jackson / Freddie Lindstrom / Mel Ott / Bill Terry
28 1929 Chicago Cubs 4 Kiki Cuyler / Rogers Hornsby / Riggs Stephenson / Hack Wilson
29 1929 New York Yankees 4 Earle Combs / Lou Gehrig / Tony Lazzeri / Babe Ruth
30 1927 New York Yankees 4 Earle Combs / Lou Gehrig / Tony Lazzeri / Babe Ruth
31 1917 New York Giants 4 George Burns / Art Fletcher / Benny Kauff / Heinie Zimmerman
32 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 4 Ginger Beaumont / Fred Clarke / Tommy Leach / Honus Wagner
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/17/2011.

Most of these teams won a lot of games, which makes sense since they got so much WAR from their top players. The lowest win totals are the 2003 Cardinals (85 win),  the 1964 Braves (88 wins), the 1945 Dodgers (87 wins), the 1930 Cubs (90 wins), the 1930 Giants (87 wins), and the  1929 Yankees (88 wins).

And here are teams with at least 3 pitchers registering at least 5 WAR:

Rk Year Lg Tm #Matching
1 2005 NL Houston Astros 3 Roger Clemens / Roy Oswalt / Andy Pettitte
2 1996 NL Atlanta Braves 3 Tom Glavine / Greg Maddux / John Smoltz
3 1974 NL New York Mets 3 Jerry Koosman / Jon Matlack / Tom Seaver
4 1973 AL Chicago White Sox 3 Stan Bahnsen / Terry Forster / Wilbur Wood
5 1973 AL Detroit Tigers 3 Joe Coleman / John Hiller / Mickey Lolich
6 1970 NL Chicago Cubs 3 Bill Hands / Ken Holtzman / Fergie Jenkins
7 1968 NL San Francisco Giants 3 Bobby Bolin / Juan Marichal / Gaylord Perry
8 1960 NL St. Louis Cardinals 3 Ernie Broglio / Larry Jackson / Lindy McDaniel
9 1956 AL Cleveland Indians 3 Bob Lemon / Herb Score / Early Wynn
10 1925 NL Cincinnati Reds 3 Pete Donohue / Dolf Luque / Eppa Rixey
11 1913 AL Chicago White Sox 3 Eddie Cicotte / Reb Russell / Jim Scott
12 1913 NL New York Giants 3 Rube Marquard / Christy Mathewson / Jeff Tesreau
13 1912 AL Boston Red Sox 3 Ray Collins / Buck O'Brien / Smoky Joe Wood
14 1912 NL New York Giants 3 Rube Marquard / Christy Mathewson / Jeff Tesreau
15 1909 NL Chicago Cubs 3 Mordecai Brown / Orval Overall / Ed Reulbach
16 1907 NL Chicago Cubs 3 Mordecai Brown / Carl Lundgren / Orval Overall
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/17/2011.

The previous list were all good teams, but here we see a few exceptions. The 1974 Mets went 71-91 despite very strong seasons from Koosman, Matlack, and Seaver. There's a similar story for the 1973 White Sox. Many of the teams going back to the 1925 Reds were mediocre, but all of the older teams were incredibly good.

28 Responses to “Teams with the most players with at least 5 WAR”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Bret Boone had 5 WAR? I must have slept through that season.

  2. Wine Curmudgeon Says:

    1970 Cubs -- Hands, Holtzman and Jenkins. Do I even want to know what the WAR was combined for the rest of the pitching staff?

  3. Tmckelv Says:

    The Big Red Machine "underachieved" from 72-74 (they made this list those 3 years). Ironically, they did not make the list in 75-76.

  4. John DiFool Says:

    "Bret Boone had 5 WAR? I must have slept through that season."

    Funny-his 2001 season is one of the most notorious fluke seasons of all time.

    Foster and Rose were at 4.8 & 4.4 in '75, and Ken Griffey Sr. was 4.5 in '76 (and Bench had an off-year).

  5. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    1970 Cubs -- Hands, Holtzman and Jenkins. Do I even want to know what the WAR was combined for the rest of the pitching staff?

    Sure you do! HH&J had 18.4 of the staff's combined 22.7 WAR. Of the remaining 4.3 WAR, Milt Pappas had 3.9. I don't have much to say about the bullpen — really, no one does.

  6. Artie Z Says:

    All things considered, the 1939 Yankees only had 3 players with negative WAR. No pitchers had negative WAR, and 6 "hitters" did. But 3 of those 6 "hitters" were pitchers (Hadley, Hildebrand, and Gomez) who had more positive pitching WAR than negative hitting WAR. The 3 remaining hitters are Jake Powell, who amassed a whopping 91 PAs, the Babe - Dahlgren that is, who was their regular first baseman, and the Iron Horse, who had 33 PAs before hanging up his shoes. Only three players with negative WAR - is that a "record"?

    If Gehrig would have had a season like he did in 1938, the lesser Babe wouldn't have been a regular, and the 1939 Yankees might have won 115 games.

  7. Wine Curmudgeon Says:

    Thanks, Kahuna Tuna. You've made my day.

  8. topper009 Says:

    Random note, the 1902 Pirates are the only team since 1901 to with the teammate triple crown with 3 different players (it has been done with 2 players several times).

    Beaumont: .357 batting champ
    Leach: 6 HRs to take that crown
    Wagner: 91 RBI led the league

  9. Chris Says:

    @1 - I remember Bret Boone's big 2001 quite well.

    For me, the most surprising player on either list is Marcus Giles.

  10. Whiz Says:

    That's funny, I just did some similar searches the other day. For higher WAR values (batters):

    6+ WAR: Only the 1902 Pirates had 4 players (lead by Honus Wagner)

    7+ WAR: Five teams had 3 players (St. Louis 2004, Detroit 1961, Brooklyn 1953, Yankees 1927 and 1929). The first two aren't on the 5+ WAR list.

    8+ WAR: Only the 2004 Cardinals had 3 players (Edmonds, Pujols, Rolen)

    9+ WAR: Nine teams with 2 players

    10+ WAR: Only the 1927, 1928 and 1930 Yankees (Gehrig and Ruth, naturally)

    11+ WAR, 12+ WAR: 1927 Yankees

    For pitching:

    6+ WAR: Only the 1913 White Sox from the above list had 3 pitchers

    7+ WAR: 14 teams with 2 pitchers

    8+ WAR: Only the 1903 Giants had 2 pitchers (Mathewson, McGinnity)

  11. TheGoof Says:

    It was already noted that the Big Red Machine made it three years in a row, but Combs, Gehrig, Lazzeri and Ruth.... three times together making the list. Wow. Not just same team, but same guys.

  12. John Q Says:

    Great lists.

    I first starting following baseball with the '74 Mets so its always interesting to me when I see their name pop up.

    What's also amazing is that the '74 Mets could have easily had FOUR 5+ WAR pitchers if they hadn't traded Nolan Ryan. Even with Ryan they still finish 4-7 games under .500.

    -This team was a harbinger for things to come in 1977-1983.

    -Matlack probably wins the Cy Young if he's on any kind of decent team or at least any kind of decent outfield. 8.6 WAR, 2.41 era, 149 era+ and had a losing record. I think he's one of the only pitchers in the Cy Young era, to lead the majors in WAR for a season and not get a single Cy Young vote.

    -This team couldn't hit. Cleon Jones led with a .282 batting average, none of the other starter other than Jones was over .270. Harrelson led with a .366 on base percentage. None of the other starter were over .350. Jones led with a .421 slugging only 3 players, Jones, Staub and Milner had a slugging OVER .340. They didn't have one player that ranked in the top 25 in ops+, Jones 114 ranked 30th.

    -This team couldn't field either which is often omitted when talking about those '70's Mets' teams. Only two starters were + in total zone fielding, Harrelson & Grote. Boswell was +1 as a part-time player. They don't have one player appear in the top 25 for TZ fielding. Harrelson ranked the highest at 30th with 5. They had 3 players rank in the top 15 as worst the fielders in Rfield with Staub, Hahn and Millan.

    -This might be one of the worst fielding outfields of the last 50 years, with Don Hahn as their full time center fielder, Jones in left and Staub in right and with George Theodore as the fourth outfielder.

    -The Mets would do odd things like take players like Hahn who couldn't hit nor could he field and give him 500+ plate appearances. They'd do the same thing on a part-time basis with guys like Ted Martinez, Dave Schneck and George Theodore.

    -Then Felix Millan's defense was overrated. At his best he was an above average 2b but never deserved a 3 GG. At 30 he was past his prime with the glove. Then they would do odd things like bat him at the top of the order with a .317 on base percentage.

    -Staub was never good defensive player but at age 30 (1974) it was showing that he couldn't play RF any more. He probably should have shifted to 1b with Milner either being traded or moved to the outfield and Jones being traded and Kranepool should have been traded/released.

  13. Hartvig Says:

    Forster's 1973 season may be the last year a reliever was used like Firpo Marberry was- 12 starts & 39 relief appearances. And while I applaud the idea of using pitchers like that I don't exactly see why he had a 5.0 WAR value either. His overall ERA was an OK for a starter but not so hot for a reliever 3.23 and his WHIP was a mediocre for either 1.459.

    In his 82 inning as a starter his ERA was half a run higher than the league average and his WHIP was 1.610. His numbers in his 91 relief innings were more impressive: a 2.18 ERA and a WHIP of 1.324 in an average of 2 & 1/3 innings per appearance. But compared to John Hiller's 65G/125IP/1.44ERA/1.02WHIP or Rollie Fingers 62G/127IP/1.92ERA/1.153WHIP or even teammate Cy Acosta's 48G/97IP/2.23ERA/1.082WHIP they're nothing exceptional.

    So you're combining a mediocre, bottom of the order starter and a very good reliever and you come up with a 5.0 WAR? I don't get it.

  14. Kelly Says:

    Actually Boone was almost as good in 2003 but the M's won 23 fewer games -- although they still won 93! -- and missed the playoffs so that season is mostly forgotten. Looking at the rest of his career, 2001 and 2003 were "co-flukes"; he must have been buying the good juice.

  15. Mets Maven Says:

    What about Red Ruffing of the '39 Yankees? He had a pitching WAR of 5.1 and an offensive WAR of 0.9. That makes 7 players on that team. What a team!

  16. Mets Maven Says:

    @15 Sorry. I missed that the list was batters only.

  17. Andrew Says:

    Yeah, I don't really know that you can call Boone's 01 season a fluke, his second and third best seasons were 03 and 02, respectively, so really it was more of a very short and accented peak.

    That said, I can't believe you don't remember him actually swinging and missing a pitch in the Home Run Derby in 01, putting up an embarrassing 0 in the first round (in his home stadium, no less).

  18. John Q Says:

    Well, you can say Boone's '01 was a fluke in that he was 32 years old and he greatly exceeded his lifetime numbers to that point. All in all he was probably on steroids from at least '01-03.

    From age 23 to age 31 Boone averaged:

    .255/.312/.413, 88 ops+.

    In 2001 he hit:

    .331/.372/.578, 153 ops+

    From age 23 to age 31 Boone's 162 game average was:

    19 HR, 151 hits, 76 runs, 81 Rbi & 76 runs created.

    In 2001 he hit:

    37 HR, 206 hits, 118 runs, 141 Rbi & 133 runs created.

    Boone's 37 HR were the 7th most in bb history by a 2B. 2001 was only the 13th time in BB history that a 2b hit 30+ HR in a season.

  19. Albanate Says:

    #12 John Q--I disagree about Kranepool deserving release in '74. He was still productive at that point, putting up a 115 OPS+ that year. in fact, his OPS+ for the three seasons after that were 120, 120, and 112. He was no superstar, but he could still hit a bit.

  20. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Surprised the Braves pitchers made it only once.

  21. John Autin Says:

    You know what these two lists have in common?

    Nothing. There's not a single team that made both lists -- i.e., no team in modern MLB history has had at least 4 hitters and 3 pitchers post 5 or more WAR in a season.

    Another observation:

    Of the 32 teams on the batting list:
    -- 20 won their pennant (62.5%);
    -- 10 won the World Series (31.2%)
    -- 25 made the postseason, or would have, if it existed (78.1%);
    -- 2 had a losing record (6.3%).

    Of the 16 teams on the pitching list:
    -- 6 won their pennant (37.5%);
    -- 2 won the World Series (12.5%);
    -- 6 made the postseason (37.5%);
    -- 2 had a losing record (12.5%).

    So, now ... what is it that wins championships, again?

    Yeah, I know -- they're not strictly equivalent comparisons.
    But it's still striking: For all the talk of how three strong pitchers can carry a team to October glory, only TWO teams with three 5-WAR pitchers have ever won a title. And the last time it happened was almost 100 years ago.

    Either WAR doesn't properly measure pitcher value, or else someone's been blowing smoke up our tailpipes.

  22. T Says:

    Funny, but that 2001 season for Boone accounted for almost half of his career WAR (9.3 of his 21.4). In fact that nice little 3 year run of his ('01-'03) accounted for virtually his entire carer WAR (20.3 of 21.4)! Which means he was just barely treading water the rest of his seasons. / of his years were spent in negative territory. I wonder what the career mark for having the most negative years of WAR is?

  23. T Says:

    That was supposed to be a 7, not a slash.

  24. John Q Says:

    @21 Good Points John A.

    I think what's left out of the equation is Pitching + Defense. Defense is usually left out of the equation. If that '74 Mets team were a good defensive team, then they could have been competitive with that pitching staff.

  25. John Q Says:

    @19 Albanate,

    Valid points. You know I went back and checked and Kranepool was only 29 in 1974. It seems kind of unbelievable to me because I would have sworn his was in late 30's because he was on the team so damn long.

    Trading away all of those young prospects started to come back to bite them in 1974.

    Kranepool could hit but he was a below average fielder and strictly a lefty platoon type first basemen. The problem with the Mets is that they had John Milner who was 3 years younger than Kranepool and Rusty Staub who really should have been out of the outfield by 1974.

    What they should have done is keep Otis & Singleton and put Milner at first.

  26. Cyril Morong Says:

    The 1939 Yankees had the highest run differential ever (or at least since 1900). 967- 456 = 411

  27. tim Says:

    Yeah, Bret Boone probably dodged the steroid police for that 2001 season. Basically, unless the media doesn't like you, they won't look.

  28. Andy Says:

    In 2001 I used to call him "Enter Boob", an anagram for Bret Boone. He had a teammates named Retarding Maze, Income Maker, Bald Devil, Nails Down, Insert Java, Graced Friday, and A Real Nose.

    The best teammate for anagrams, though, was Carlos Guillen. He could be Collegian Slur, Recalling Soul, Rolling Clause, Lilac Loungers, Large Scullion, Closing Allure, Singular Cello, Gorilla's Uncle, and many more...