- Dumb Luck Wins
- Tough Luck Losses
- Out Prevention Percentage
- Infield Outs Prevented
In my last post
First off, a recap of the ground rules: A player must have gone by William or one of the common variants. If his actual name was William, but he doesn’t go by that name–like, say, William Lance Berkman
I’ve picked the top William for each franchise using mainly Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR, though I do include some other factors like the team’s success in the player’s tenure. The teams are ranked by their best William.
#1. San Francisco / New York Giants
Top William: Willie Mays
Other Notable Williams: Willie McCoveyBill Terry Will Clark
What is there to say about Willie Mays that hasn’t been said? He’s not just the greatest player with a William-derived-name; he’s one of the 3 or 4 best players of all time, period. He has more than twice the WAR of any other William, including a bunch of Hall of Famers. Thanks to Mays, Willie McCovey–my pick for the 2nd-best William of all time–isn’t even the top William on the Giants! Then you add in Bill Terry (a third Hall of Famer), who spent all of his career with the Giants. And 4th-place Will Clark isn’t too shabby, either.
#2. Chicago Cubs
Top William: Billy Williams
Other Notable Williams: Billy HermanBill Dahlen Bill Hutchinson Bill Nicholson
The Cubs are extraordinarily deep in quality William-types. An astonishing 8 Williams are above 20 WAR with the franchise, with another 4 above 10 WAR. Even among that excellent group, though, Billy Williams stands out, and not just because he has a form of William in both his names. Williams, a Hall of Fame left fielder, spent nearly all of his career at Wrigley Field. During his Cubs tenure, he won the Rookie of the Year award, made 6 All-Star teams, and twice finished 2nd in the MVP voting. The Cubs has very little success in his career, but it wasn’t Williams’ fault. He was extraordinarily consistent, reaching at least 650 plate appearances with at least a 117 OPS+ in 12 straight seasons. Williams’ WAR ranks 6th in Cubs history (and 6th among hitters, since he’s ahead of all the pitchers).
#3. Pittsburgh Pirates
Top William: Willie Stargell
Other Notable Williams: Bill MazeroskiBill Swift Bill Madlock Bill Virdon
I ranked the Cubs ahead of the Pirates not because I think Williams was better than Stargell (I prefer Stargell’s impact on his team) but because of the Cubs’ ridiculous depth beyond the top William. The Pirates’ 2nd-5th ranked Williams are not nearly as impressive as the Cubs’. At any rate, Stargell had a fantastic, Hall of Fame career (all with the Pirates). He made 6 All-Star Games, won an MVP (though that was undeserved), and played on two World Series champions. He has the 5th highest WAR in Pirates history (also 5th among hitters), behind only Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner, and Arky Vaughan.
#4. Los Angeles / Brooklyn Dodgers
Top William: Willie Davis
Other Notable Williams: Bill RussellBill Dahlen Willie Crawford “Wee” Willie Keeler
Davis was a fantastic defensive center fielder who also had some very good years with the bat (though he never walked much). His WAR ranks 5th in Dodgers history among hitters and 9th overall. Somehow he accrued all that WAR while only making 2 All-Star Teams, perhaps because his defense was undervalued. He did win 3 Gold Gloves, but like his All-Star appearances, they didn’t happen until fairly late in his career (ages 31-33). The Dodgers’ top pitching William is Bill Singer
#5. Philadelphia Phillies
Top William: Billy Hamilton
Other Notable Williams: Willie JonesBill Duggleby Bill White
“Sliding Billy” Hamilton was a Hall of Fame outfielder known for walking a ton and stealing a ton of bases. During his 6 years in Philadelphia, he stole 510 bases (high of 111, leading the NL 4 times) and walked 553 times (high of 128, leading the NL 3 times). In 1894, he scored a ridiculous 198 runs, which is not only still the MLB single-season record, but actually 21 runs more than anyone else has ever scored in a season. That year, he posted a .521 on-base percentage (9th-best all-time) and hit over .400. Oh, and he struck out 19 times all year. Not too shabby. For his Phillies career, his WAR ranks 8th among hitters and 11th overall.
#6. Atlanta / Milwaukee / Boston Braves (& other names)
Top William: Billy Nash
Other Notable Williams: Billy HamiltonBill Bruton Bill Dinneen Bill Sweeney
The Braves have a long history of great third basemen, dating back to Ezra Sutton
#7. Cincinnati Reds
Top William: Will White
Other Notable Williams: Billy RhinesBilly Werber Billy McCool
Will White (brother of Deacon White, another 19th century star) holds one of the most unbreakable records in sports. In 1879 for the Reds, he threw a mind-blowing 680 innings (94% of the team’s total). That’s slightly more innings than even Old Hoss Radbourn’s
#8. Houston Astros
Top William: Bill Doran
Other Notable Williams: Billy WagnerBill Spiers Billy Hatcher
I had never heard of Doran before this, but he had some very good years for the Astros in the mid-1980′s. A second baseman, he topped out at 5.6 WAR in 1985. He ranks 8th on the Astros’ position-player WAR list and 11th overall.
#9. St. Louis Cardinals
Top William: Bill White
Other Notable Williams: Willie McGeeBill Sherdell Bill Doak
White, a standout defensive first baseman, made 5 All-Star Teams and won 6 Gold Gloves in his time with the Cardinals. He was also on their World-Series-winning team in 1964. He didn’t slug much by 1B standards, but he between his bat and his glove, he was well above average overall. His 23.8 WAR ranks 23rd among hitters in Cardinals history and 36th among all players. The Cardinals have some good depth of Williams, but lack the top-end value of the Williams ahead of them.
#10. Milwaukee Brewers
Top William: Bill Wegman
Other Notable Williams: Bill TraversBill Hall Bill Castro
Wegman, a starting pitcher who spent his entire career in Milwaukee, never made an All-Star Team and never made the playoffs. He did, however, have an excellent year (262 IP, 3.20 ERA, 7 CG, 4.7 WAR) in 1992, when the Brewers went 92-70. Wegman was not anybody’s idea of a star, but for a team that often finished at the back of the pack, he was one of the few bright spots (along with future Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, of course).
#11. Washington Nationals / Montreal Expos
Top William: Bill Gullickson
Other Notable Williams: Bill StonemanWillie Davis Bill “Spaceman” Lee
Gullickson was a solid (if unspectacular) starting pitcher for Les Expos in the first half of the 1980′s. He was a part of the franchise’s first (and only) playoff team, the 1981 team that lost in the NLCS. He ranks 8th in pitching WAR in Nats/Expos history and 21st overall.
#12. San Diego Padres
Top William: Will Venable
Other Notable Williams: Willie McCoveyBill Fahey Willie Davis
By right-fielder standards, Venable is no great shakes (or at least, he hasn’t been so far in his young career), but he’s solid enough. His numbers look better once you realize how much his home park can depress offense. He’s got a great chance to pad his lead in this list, too, as he’s under the Padres’ control through the 2015 season (if he’s not traded before then). Currently, his Padres WAR ranks only 39th among hitters (65th overall), but he’ll move up those lists, too. Venable & the other Williams on this list may seem underwhelming, but they’ve got a fair amount of whelm when compared to…
#13. New York Mets
Top William: Billy Wagner
Other Notable Williams: Willie MaysBill Pulsipher Willie Randolph
Mets, Mets, Mets. I think we need to have a talk. Look, I know you’re an expansion franchise. But that was 50 seasons ago! You’ve got to be able to come up with a better William than a reliever who only spent 3 healthy seasons with the team, even if that reliever is a dominant one who made 2 All-Star Teams like Wagner. And the guys after him? A washed-up ex-star in Mays and a washed-out ex-prospect in Pulsipher? And Willie Randolph, who had much more WAR for 4 other teams? That’s the best you can do? This is bad even by Mets standards.
#14. Colorado Rockies
Top William: Willy Taveras
Other Notable Williams: Bill Swift
The Rockies haven’t been around long, but you’d still think that they could do better than Willy Taveras. It’s not really that surprising, though. Taveras actually has the 25th-highest WAR among Rockies hitters (55th among all players). Aside from Taveras and Swift, the only other William in Rockies history is Willie Blair
#15. Florida Marlins
Top William: Willie Banks
Other Notable Williams: Billy Koch
Despite those low WARs, Banks is the top pitcher *and* the top hitter among Williams in the Marlins’ franchise history. Speaking of Mr. Banks…
#16. Arizona Diamondbacks
Top William: Willie Banks
Other Notable Williams: nobody
Like with their 1998 expansion cohorts the Rays, the D’backs lack any memorable Williams. At least they’ve had a few, though; the Rays have had only 2, total. Banks is the “best” but he had little impact; he was a pretty good middle reliever in Arizona’s inaugural season, but he didn’t even spend the whole season with the team, pitching 42.1 innings in all. He is also the second-highest-ranked hitting William (behind Billy BucknerWillie Bloomquist Willie Blair
Tagged with: Astros Bill Bruton Bill Dahlen Bill Doran Bill Gullickson Bill Hutchinson Bill Mazeroski Bill Nicholson Bill Russell Bill Swift Bill Terry Bill Virdon Bill Wegman Bill White Billy Hamilton Billy Herman Billy Nash Billy Rhines Billy Wagner Billy Williams Braves Brewers Cardinals Cubs Diamondbacks Dodgers Giants Marlins Mets National League Nationals Padres Phillies Pirates Rockies Theme Teams Wee Willie Keeler Will Clark Will Venable Will White Williams Willie Banks Willie Crawford Willie Davis Willie Jones Willie Mays Willie McCovey Willie McGee Willie Stargell Willy Taveras
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
JunkStats is written by Jacob Peterson, who also writes for the Braves blog Talking ChopBeyond the Boxscore
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