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JunkStats Year In Review: All Qualified Hitters Ranked by OPP Naming The Best “William” For Each NL Franchise
There have been hundreds of players in MLB history with the name “William” or some variant thereof–Will, Willie, Bill, or Billy. In this post, I go through each current AL franchise’s history and pick out the top William.
First off, a bit about 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 mainly used Baseball-Reference’s WAR to rank the Williams, though a couple players got extra credit if they had a memorable tenure with that franchise (not that it made much difference). Only WAR with that franchise is counted. I rank each of the franchises by the quality of their best William, with near-ties broken by looking at the best year by any William in each franchise’s history.
#1. New York Yankees
Top William: Bill Dickey
Other Notable Williams: Willie RandolphBill “Moose” Skowron “Wee” Willie Keeler
Dickey–a Hall of Fame catcher–spent his entire career with the Yankees, helping them win 8 World Series titles. He made 11 All-Star teams, and for most teams, he’d be the best catcher in franchise history (the Yankees, though, had some guy named Yogi). His WAR total ranks 7th among position players and 9th overall in the Yankees’ illustrious history. The players behind him aren’t too shabby themselves, especially Randolph, one of the most under-appreciated players of his era.
#2. Chicago White Sox
Top William: Billy Pierce
Other Notable Williams: Willie KammBill Melton Bill Wight
Pierce was the White Sox’ best pitcher for pretty much an entire decade. He made 7 All-Star Teams with the franchise and led the team in WAR 5 times. He also helped the team to an AL pennant in 1959, which may not sound impressive, but it was the only pennant the franchise won between the infamous Black Sox of 1919 and the 2005 team that won the World Series. A true White Sox legend, Pierce has the 4th-highest WAR among pitchers in franchise history and the 7th-highest WAR among all players.
#3. Detroit Tigers
Top William: Bill Freehan
Other Notable Williams: Bill DonovanWillie Horton Billy Rogell
Freehan was one of the top catchers in baseball during his career (spent entirely with the Tigers). He made 11 All-Star Teams and had perhaps his best season in 1968, when the Tigers won the World Series. He also won 5 Gold Gloves. Overall, he ranks 11th in position player WAR on the franchise list (which is absolutely loaded) and 14th overall. The Tigers had so many great Williams that Billy Hoeft
#4. Kansas City Royals
Top William: Willie Wilson
Other Notable Williams: Bill PecotaBilly Butler Willie Aikens
Wilson is undoubtedly one of the quintessential Royals. He was a key cog on their great teams of the late 70′s and 80′s, who lost 6 times in the playoffs before finally breaking through with a World Series win in 1985. Wilson made 2 All-Star Teams and won a Gold Glove while with the Royals. He ranks 3rd in WAR among franchise position players and 5th among all players. The Royals have yet to produce any good-pitching Williams; their best is probably Bill Butler
#5. Cleveland Indians
Top William: Bill Bradley
Other Notable Williams: Willie MitchellBill Bernhard Willie Kamm
Bradley was a 3rd baseman–maybe the best in the AL from 1902 to 1904. His WAR ranks 11th in franchise history among hitters and 20th overall, but because he played so long ago, he’s not well remembered. Actually, the top 3 guys on this list all played for the franchise during the first decade of the 20th century, when it was still known as the “Naps,” after star player / manager Nap Lajoie. Even Willie Kamm played in the 1930s. The Indians franchise hasn’t really had a William of note since then. Slackers.
#6. Boston Red Sox
Top William: Bill Monbouquette
Other Notable Williams: Billy GoodmanBill “Spaceman” Lee Bill Dinneen
This was a very tough choice. In the end, I went with Monbouquette because he made 3 All-Star Teams, compared to 2 for Goodman and 1 for Lee. Monbouquette ranks 16th among pitchers on the Red Sox all-time WAR list and 50th overall. Dinneen played in the early 1900′s, so he wasn’t eligible for All-Star Games; he did win a World Series with the franchise in 1903 (then called the Boston Americans), but he was always overshadowed by teammate Cy Young during his time in Boston. A very strong group, overall. Some notable Williams like Bill CarriganBilly Werber Bill Mueller
#7. Oakland / Kansas City / Philadelphia Athletics
Top William: Bill North
Other Notable Williams: Bill TuttleBilly Taylor Billy Werber
North was the main center fielder for the A’s teams that won the World Series in 1973 and 1974. He led the AL in steals in ’74 and led all of MLB in ’76, though he was not very efficient, also leading the league in caught stealings both years. Still, a decent-hitting CF with good defense is a valuable commodity, and 18.4 WAR over 5.5 seasons is very solid. That ranks him 36th on the A’s franchise list among hitters and 48th overall.
#8. Texas Rangers / Washington Senators
Top William: Will Clark
Other Notable Williams: Billy SampleBill Gogolewski Bill Haselman
Clark’s best years were with the Giants, but he’s overshadowed in that franchise by Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. For the Rangers, thanks to several solid seasons, including an All-Star Team in 1994, he comes out on top. During his Texas year, Clark wasn’t a great hitter by first-base standards, especially considering the ballpark and era he played in. He still ranks 19th on the Rangers franchise list among hitters (and 24th overall). Other than Clark and Sample, there’s not much in the way of Williams; the guy in 4th place was a backup catcher.
#9. Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns
Top William: Billy O’Dell
Other Notable Williams: Bill WightWillie Sudhoff Billy Smith
O’Dell made 2 All-Star Teams for the Orioles, in 1958 and ’59, posting a sub-3.00 ERA each year. He ranks 33rd on the franchise’s pitching WAR list, and 84th overall. This is a very weak crop of Williams for an original AL franchise.
#10. Toronto Blue Jays
Top William: Willie Upshaw
Other Notable Williams: Billy Koch
Upshaw, a first baseman, was a very good player, though he wasn’t a star, and he didn’t last long in MLB. He did play for the 1985 Blue Jays team that was the franchise’s first postseason participant. His WAR ranks 18th in franchise history for hitters and 29th for all players. Koch came out of nowhere to become the Jays’ closer from 1999 through 2001 (he was a rookie the first year) before moving on to be the closer on the 2002 “Moneyball” A’s. Other than those two, the Jays’ best Williams are pitchers Bill CaudillWillie Blair
#11. Los Angeles / Anaheim / California Angels
Top William: Bill Singer
Other Notable Williams: Billy MoranWillie Smith Willie Fraser
Singer made the All-Star Team in ’73, pitching 315 innings with a 3.22 ERA. Nearly all of his Angels WAR came in that year (6.6). He actually spent most of his career with the cross-town Dodgers. He only spent 3 years with the Angels but ranks 25th on their franchise WAR list among pitchers (61st among all players). This is a very weak group, but at least the Angels have the whole “expansion team” thing as an excuse. I ranked the Angels above the Twins mainly because Singer’s best season was better than any William’s season for the Twins.
#12. Minnesota Twins / Washington Senators
Top William: Bill Campbell
Other Notable Williams: Bill CoughlinBill Hands Bill Burns
Here’s how poor the Williams in the Twins’ 111-season franchise history have been: Campbell, a reliever who spent just 4 seasons with the team, is easily their top William by WAR. Sure, he had 3 pretty good years for the team, but still. His WAR ranks just 51st among pitchers on the franchise list and 117th among all players. There’s no depth there, either, with very marginal players like Hands and Burns making the top 4. And this is an original AL franchise, not an expansion team! The Twins should be ashamed. Start drafting & trading for some Williams, pronto, Terry Ryan!
#13. Seattle Mariners
Top William: Bill Swift
Other Notable Williams: Bill CaudillBill Risley Bill Krueger
There’s not much to work with here as far as Williams go, particularly for hitters. The top hitting William in Mariners history is Bill SteinWillie Bloomquist
#14. Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
Top William: Willy Aybar
Other Notable Williams: none
I know the Rays have only existed since 1998, but this is still a terrible result. Aybar is the only William with a positive WAR in franchise history, and it’s debatable whether he should even count (his name is officially “Willy,” and since he’s from the Dominican Republic, chances are pretty good that his name is based on something other than “William,” like “Wilfredo”). The only pitching William in Rays history is Billy Taylor
I’ll name the top Williams for the NL franchises later this week (hopefully). Something tells me that the Giants will dominate that list.
Tagged with: A's American League Angels Bill Bradley Bill Campbell Bill Dickey Bill Dinneen Bill Donovan Bill Freehan Bill Lee Bill Melton Bill Monbouquette Bill North Bill Pecota Bill Singer Bill Swift Bill Wight Billy Butler Billy Goodman Billy Koch Billy O'Dell Billy Pierce Billy Rogell Billy Sample Blue Jays Indians Mariners Moose Skowron Orioles Rangers Rays Red Sox Royals Theme Teams Tigers Twins Wee Willie Keeler White Sox Will Clark Williams Willie Horton Willie Kamm Willie Randolph Willie Upshaw Willie Wilson Willy Aybar Yankees
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