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In honor of Prince Fielder

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‘s signing with the Tigers, I created a 25-man roster solely of players from MLB history with names that include a title from nobility or royalty, like “Earl” and “King.”

I decided to limit myself to players whose official names on Baseball-Reference include either a term of nobility or a plural of such a term. So players named either “Duke” or “Dukes” were eligible. The name could be a 1st name or a last name, but it had to be exact; so Early Wynn

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was not eligible. Spanish-language names were eligible, too, though the only one that was common was “Rey” (which means “king”) and its plural, “Reyes.”

I decided not to count nicknames, which ruled out players like John “The Count” Montefusco

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and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez
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. This would have made my task a lot easier, but I do like a challenge.

To keep the team from being overrun with old-timey guys named “Earl,*” I set a limit of one occurrence of each title in each of the five groups: infielders, outfielders, starting rotation, bullpen, and bench. I mainly used Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR to rank the players.

* And all of the guys named Earl are old-timey, pretty much. No active player goes by Earl.

Infielders

Catcher: Duke Farrell

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(22.8 WAR)
1st Base: Earl Torgeson
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(31.5 WAR)
2nd Base: Omar Infante
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 (12.7 WAR)**
Shortstop: Jose Reyes
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 (29.3 WAR)
3rd Base: Harry Lord
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 (15.9 WAR)

** “infante” in Spanish nobility refers to a prince who is not the heir to the throne 

An interesting, though hardly dominant group. Current Marlins up-the-middle combo Infante and Reyes both make the starting lineup. Duke Farrell edges out a deep group of catchers that included seemingly a dozen guys named Earl.

Outfielders

Duke Snider

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(67.5 WAR)
Earl Averill
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(45.0 WAR)
King Kelly
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(48.5 WAR)

This is the strength of the lineup. All three of these players are Hall of Famers. King Kelly also played a lot of catcher, so he makes a nice emergency 3rd-stringer at that position. Both Earl Averill and Earl Torgeson (the starting 1st baseman) hailed from the small town of Snohomish, Washington. Accordingly, both were nicknamed “The Earl of Snohomish.” That fascinates me.

Starting Rotation

Earl Whitehill

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 (30.1 WAR)
Duke Esper
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(13.2 WAR)
Gary Gentry
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 (9.0 WAR)***
Eric King
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 (8.8 WAR)
Jason Marquis
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 (3.4 WAR)

*** I cheated a little here, as “gentry” is more of a generic term for the lower levels of nobility. But it’s related, and I needed another starter desperately.

Whitehill is an excellent starter, but the rest of the rotation is pretty underwhelming. There were a bunch of other guys named Earl who had 10+ WAR as a starting pitcher, but I didn’t want an all-Earl rotation, so most of them got cut.

Bullpen

Earl Hamilton

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(16.9 WAR)
Zach Duke
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 (5.8)
Mel Queen
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(5.4 WAR)
Alberto Reyes
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 (4.8 WAR)****
Ray King
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 (3.6 WAR)

**** You could also go with Dennys Reyes

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here, who has an identical career WAR. Alberto is a righty, Dennys a lefty. Whatever your preference.

Zach Duke got pushed to the ‘pen just so I could find a place for the 2nd-best pitching Duke.

Bench

Catcher: Earl Battey

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(20.3 WAR) C
1st Base: Prince Fielder
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(19.9 WAR) 1B
Corner IF: Ray Knight
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 (9.8 WAR) 3B / 1B
Middle IF: Rey Sanchez
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(17.8 WAR) SS/2B
OF: Marquis Grissom
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(25.6 WAR) OF
OF: Jim King
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 (9.9 WAR) OF
OF: Bris Lord
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 (5.7 WAR) OF

That is a damn good bench, all things considered. Versatile and talented with no real weak spots. Bris Lord is probably the least familiar name on this list, but he had a great nickname: The Human Eyeball.

Manager

Earl Weaver

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(1480-1060, 6 playoff appearances, 1 World Series title)

There aren’t too many managers in MLB history I’d take over Earl Weaver, so this team will be in good hands.

Overall, I wish that I could have found a “Baron” or a “Count” to work into the team, but there really weren’t any good ones. This team should score some runs, which they’ll need to do because the pitching is fairly weak. Several of the bench players would make excellent regulars, too, so the team can handle a few injuries–as long as they are to position players.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone important?

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8 Responses to The All-Time Nobility Team

  1. Elmer Clark says:

    I would hate to see a guy with a name like Bris Lord (or a nickname like the Human Eyeball!) kicked off, but Richard Hidalgo seems like he should qualify ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidalgo_(Spanish_nobility)

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    ). Also, depending on whether you’re ONLY counting English and Spanish or if other languages work too, Buck Herzog (German for duke) could take Infante’s spot, and Whitey Herzog might make Weaver a less obvious choice at least

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  2. Elmer Clark says:

    You could also argue that people named Cesar qualify, since it’s Spanish for “Caesar.” Cesar Cedeno would definitely qualify, and Cesar Geronimo could knock off Jim King or Bris Lord

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    • J
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      says:

      Oh man, those are some good suggestions. Richard Hidalgo is one player I definitely should have thought of. I didn’t think to look for surnames from other languages, but you’re right about “Herzog.” I’d say that should qualify, too. Thanks.

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  3. matt w says:

    You could put Tom Herr (21.5 WAR) in at second or at bench behind Herzog — Wikipedia says it’s German for “lord.” (And “mister,” but it might count.)

    Totally unrelated to baseball, but while doing research for this I learned that in the order of precedence of Edwardian England, Masters in Lunacy ranked immediately above Companions of the Bath.

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  4. matt w says:

    And Paul Lo Duca (15.4 WAR) could fill in at one of the corner OF spots as well as being another emergency catcher, if it doesn’t have to be “Duca” straight up. “Lo” just means “the,” right? “Paul the Duke” is an even more noble name.

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    • J
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      says:

      Hmmm.. Yeah, I guess Tom Herr could count. Not an expert on German, but that sounds fine.

      Lo Duca definitely is eligible for the team, but he’s really just a catcher, isn’t he? I guess as an emergency OF, since he did play there a little.

      Good suggestions.

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      • matt w says:

        If we want some more backup catchers to stash in AAA who aren’t good enough to make the team, there’s Gerald Laird.

        (I keep thinking of all these great titles, and there aren’t any good baseball players with those names.)

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        • J
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          says:

          I actually thought of Laird right away, but as you imply, he’s not nearly good enough to make the team.

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