All Time 40 Man Rosters
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Welcome to my work-in-progress page of my 40 man rosters for each major league baseball team. I am a huge baseball history fan and have spent much of my life reading about the game, its history, and the players who made the game what it was then and what it is today.
Finding the Rosters: From the top menu of this page, select "All Time 40". Then, select the division that the team is currently in. From there, you can select whichever team you want to see. I figure this method is easier to navigate than a pure listing of 30 teams.
I have always been interested in comparing the best players of yesteryear with their peers, across generations, and with the best of today. Statistics on the surface only tell part of the story. Also - a student of the game's history knows that in order to make comparisons across eras you need to take the context into account. Baseball ebbs and flows between high scoring and low scoring. Consider the following examples:
How can you account for this? One way is to leverage the work of others. Statisticians and Sabermaticians have developed measures to help. I was (and am) a big fan of Bill James whose Abstracts were played a big role in spurring my interest in this topic. James used WinShares among other complicated statistics. The Total Baseball Encyclopedia had something called a Total Player Rating which boiled all statistics into a single measure. Today measures such as WAR, JAWS, and OPS+/ERA+ are commonly used to evaluate players. Although I don't fully understand WAR, I do find it helpful as a measure of a player's complete value.
I developed something I refer to as "League Leadership Rankings", which is my way of quantifying how well a player ranked among their league leaders in major statistical categories. 10 points for coming in first, 9 for second... down to 1 for tenth. Six offensive categories (On Base Pct, Slugging Pct, Batting Avg, Home runs, Runs, RBIs) and six pitching categories (Wins, Win-Pct, ERA, WHIP, Strikeouts, Innings). At one time I had these published until AT&T retired all personal pages. I'll work on building a page for these.
In addition to the statistical methods mentioned above, I find it helpful to look at things like All Star selections, MVP / Cy Young voting, Gold Glove awards, post season performance, and other honors. I placed a lot of weight on these. They shed light on how a player was viewed by the writers who covered them and often show a value that you can't directly derive from pure statistics.
Building The Rosters: The process for selecting players and building these rosters was much more than simply reviewing statistics and picking the 40 best players and 3 managers who played for each team. In doing so, I developed the following "rules" and principles:
1) An individual can only appear on one team no matter how many different teams they played for. This means that I couldn't, for example, put Babe Ruth on the Red Sox as a pitcher and on the Yankees as an outfielder. Frank Robinson is listed with the Reds but not the Orioles. My Uncle Bill probably hasn't forgiven me for putting Carlton Fisk on the Red Sox over the White Sox. I applied this principle to managers as well, such that an individual who later had a second career as a manager with another team (or teams) would only be selected to one roster. There are a number of player-managers included, guys who had success managing the team they had earlier played for.
Determining which team to place an individual wasn't necessarily where a player spent the most time - or even where they had their best years (although that certainly played a factor). My guiding principle was to put the player where they "fit" the best. This involved a lot of discretion and it wasn't always easy. I may publish a list of "see also" at some time which will serve as a cross reference listing of what team a player is included on.
2) Once I decided on the appropriate team for a player, I generally looked at that player's entire career - not just their performance with the team I placed them on. That said, using Bill James's terms, I'm more of a "Peak Value" versus "Career Value" kind of guy.
3) Generally I required that a player have 5 years with a given team for consideration. This isn't always practical, especially with the post-1960 expansion teams where I used a 3 year rule of thumb.
4) These all time rosters are post-1900. This stems from the fact that I started this analysis some 30 years ago using Neft & Cohen baseball encyclopedia which started in 1901 with the establishment of the American League. I also have a "19th Century" team (as well as a Negro League team) which I will publish as time permits.
5) In building each 40 man roster, I require that each team have at least three players who can play any position. A player is "eligible" to play any position in which he played at least 10% of his career games. The published rosters initially don't indicate multiple position players or eligiblity but I have these noted and will eventually add this information to these pages going forward.
6) Starting Nine - These are, in my opinion, the best player at each position for each roster. There are a lot of close calls and I have several tagged for further review. Additional comments below will expand on additional criteria used.
7) For outfielders, I was not hung up on the idea of having a pure Left Field, Center Field, Right Field for each. Using the Yankees as a prime example - Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle are surely the three best outfielders in the team's history. Just happens that DiMaggio and Mantle were both center fielders. On the Yankee page, you will see that I list Mantle in left - he played more there than did Joe D.
8) For pitchers - I selected a 5 man starting rotation for each. Other starting pitchers (outside the top 5) are listed as "Pitcher". I also listed relief pitchers separately although I did not include a reliever on each team if one did not make the 40 man roster otherwise.
9) You will see a few instances in which a player is listed as a starter at a position which was not their primary position. This was done in an effort to field the best team for each squad. Guys like Carl Yastrzemski and Willie Stargell (both selected as starting first basemen) and Chipper Jones in the outfield come to mind.
10) Managers - Generally these are the guys who had the greatest success with their given team. As mentioned above, nobody listed as a manager will also be listed as a player on another team. Guys like Miller Huggins, Davey Johnson, and Mike Scioscia were considered as players but ultimately placed as managers. Joe Torre, Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou, on the other hand, appear on a 40 man roster rather than as a manager. This said, many teams include a player-manager; guys who made their team's 40 man roster as a player and are also listed as a manager for the same team.
11) Last Four In / First Four Out - There were a number of close calls on roster spots and so I thought it would be fun to share some of those "bubble" players. These lists are not in order, meaning that the last guy listed as "last four in" is not necessarily the last guy to make the squad. For example, I'll share that Roger Maris was the last guy added to the Yankees roster and Bob Meusel was the last guy cut. One additional note in this section is that several guys listed as "first four out" are currently on the outside due only to short tenure in the majors. Guys like Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Correa will almost certainly be promoted to their 40 man rosters once another season passes.
12) Franchises - These 40 man rosters cover each Franchise's history - including relocations. You'll see that the Dodgers cover the team's time in Brooklyn as well as Los Angeles. You'll also see, for example that the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles are considered the same franchise. Although not implicit in the name page, the Milwaukee Brewers did begin life as the Seattle Pilots in 1969. Likewise two original American League teams moved within a couple years of 1901 - the New York Yankees began life as the Baltimore Orioles, and the Browns played a season in Milwaukee prior to their move to St. Louis.
FEEDBACK: Send your feedback to my email address below. This can relate to anything from roster composition, layout, or suggestions. Thank you! - Mike