FIRE JOE MORGAN: Bernie Williams: One of the Best Players Ever?


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Friday, December 23, 2005


Bernie Williams: One of the Best Players Ever?

Just off the top of my head, I'll say no. But Brian Cashman disagrees.

The Yankees announced Thursday that they had agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with popular outfielder Bernie Williams, who has been in pinstripes since 1991 and compiled statistics that put his name alongside the team's greatest players.

"He ranks right there with the Gehrigs and the Berras and the Ruths and the Mantles," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

Now, Cash is probably in a good mood these days. He was able to use his daddy's checkbook to offer $52 million to a guy who is going to hit .265 with 4 HR in 2009, just to stick it to a team he hates. However, even the most extreme homer could not possibly justify this claim.

There are about a thousand things I could cite to prove my point. Here are just a few.

Career OPS/OPS+

Lou Gehrig: 1.080/179
Yogi Berra: 830/125 (as a catcher!)
Babe Ruth:1.164/207
Mickey Mantle: 977/172
Bernie Williams: .863/127

Career HR/RsBI (Just for the hell of it)

Lou Gehrig: 493/1995
Yogi Berra: 358/1430 (as a catcher!)
Babe Ruth: 714/2217
Mickey Mantle: 536/1509
Bernie Williams: 275/1196

Career RC27

Lou Gehrig: 11.14
Yogi Berra: 6.05 (as a catcher!)
Babe Ruth: 12.93
Mickey Mantle: 8.78
Bernie Williams: 6.69

Bernie's career WARP3 is just over 100. Babe Ruth's is like 224. I guess you can look at these numbers and say that Bernie is roughly as valuable as Yogi Berra -- Bernie did walk a lot; hence his RC27 advantage over Yogi.

But as for the rest of them...

A CF who hit a total of 275 HR is no Mickey Mantle.

Okay, beating a dead horse, but think of it this way: In adjusted OPS+, arguably the most basic, cleanest stat we can use to measure how these guys stack up against each other, Babe Ruth is #1 all-time. Gehrig is #4 all-time. Mantle is #6 all-time.

Williams is not close to being in the top 100.

Among players with better lifetime OPS+'s than Bernie are: Will Clark, Bobby Abreu, Jim Edmonds, Darryl Strawberry (!), Jack Clark, Pedro Guerrero, Al Rosen, Larry Doby, Larry Walker, Chipper Jones, and two guys who play on Bernie's team -- Sheff and ARod.

Maybe Cashman was speaking poetically, like, "in terms of what he means to the Yankees" or something. But I don't think so. I think he meant it statistically. And I think he was crazy.

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