An old joke goes: “My father was almost President of the United States. He commanded PT-108.” OK, that one’s not great, but a lot of humor comes from varying the truth just enough to form a brain-jarring contrast. And for some people, that’s just the way their mind works, and there’s not much they can do about it. Worse still, under pressure, they’ll write it up and inflict it on others.
The top 10 position players (by career BRef WAR) are all names that trip off the tongue of every true baseball fan. Herewith, my list of those who just missed this list because their names were not quite right.
- Wonderful Terrific Monds: A great name in its own right, one of the greatest in baseball history. And just one letter from being a guy with 762 homers. He never got above AA, and he’s the only player on this list who never made the majors. But he’s on this list because his name should come up every year on every list he can make.
- Gary Rath: Or as I call him, the Bombino. Career ERA of 11.25 in 8 innings pitched.
- Austin Hays: Lee Maye was the obvious alternative here, but he was a pretty solid player. And indeed, Hays might be as well before his career is over.
- John Dobb: The Michigan Apple. (I had to look up Michigan’s biggest fruit export.) Pitched 2 innings for the White Sox in 1924 for an ERA of 9. He didn’t face the Georgia Peach, but he walked Tris Speaker.
- Steven Baron: Also known as The Wrench. 26 AB over 3 seasons. Career OPS+ 0f -27, creating a mammoth 182 point career difference with the greatest Brave of all time.
- Bob Speake: Just keep typing, Bob, and you could have made the HOF. 4 seasons for the White Sox and Giants in the 50s. Career WAR of 1.6.
- Jack Wanner: People talk about the rarity of Honus Wagner’s baseball card. But honestly, if you can find the baseball card of a guy who got 8 at bats for the 1909 Yankees, it would be really valuable.
- Barney Mussill: I was torn between Mussill and Bob Meusel. Neither is a one-character change, but both are pretty phonetically close. I went with Barney because I suspect none of you has ever heard of him. He was 24 in 1944 when he made 16 pitching appearances for the Phillies after his initial callup from the Selective Service System.
- I got nothing for Hornsby. Nothing. Suggestions welcome.
- Damon Hollins: Dave Hollins was obviously the better baseball player, but he was never Mayor of Richmond.