Cooperstown Notebook: The 2023 Progress Report, Part II

Juan Soto
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, I took the first swing for my annual roundup of active players who may or may not be building their cases for the Hall of Fame. With one exception, all of the ones I examined were in their age-30 seasons or later, but for this installment of shortstops and outfielders, I’ll take a look at some who are still in their 20s and have further to go before they reach Cooperstown.

For this exercise, unless otherwise indicated, I will be referencing bWAR for season and career totals, my JAWS metric, and the ZiPS rest-of-season projections, since one of the goals here is to give an idea of where these players will stand at the end of the season, having banked a full complement of WAR instead of just 80-some games worth. These future candidates are already dealing with suppressed WAR totals from the 60-game 2020 season (which hardly makes them the first to experience such scheduling limitations and career interruptions due to wars and strikes). Unlike last year, I’ll cover pitching in one installment. Note that I am by no means predicting that every player here will make it to Cooperstown or even suggesting that all are worthy; in some cases I’m particularly pessimistic, but these are the names that get tossed around

If you’re just arriving, I’d encourage you to at least read the introduction in Part 1. The important take-home point was my finding that nearly three-quarters of the position players who have reached a 40.0-WAR peak score (best seven seasons, aka WAR7) have eventually been enshrined, and so inevitably a good bit of the focus throughout this exercise has been on the math required to improve those scores. There is and will be far more to those cases, and to appreciating these players’ skills and accomplishments, but for the purposes of space I’ve had to cut to the chase. Here again is the table related to those 40.0-WAR peaks:

The 40+ Peak Club
Position 40+ Peak HOF 40+ Not Elig Pct HOF
C 16 10 2 71.4%
1B 22 13 4 72.2%
2B 16 12 3 92.3%
SS 21 15 1 75.0%
3B 20 10 5 66.7%
LF 11 9 1 90.0%
CF 19 10 1 55.6%
RF 20 14 3 82.4%
Total 145 93 20 74.4%
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference
Peak = player’s best seven seasons using bWAR. Not Elig = includes active or recently retired players as well as those on the permanently ineligible list.

At every position, I’ve counted the total number of players with a peak WAR of at least 40.0; the number of Hall of Famers meeting that criterion; and the number of such players who are not yet eligible, either because they’re active, too recently retired to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot, or on the permanently ineligible list, like Pete Rose (whom JAWS classifies as a left fielder) and Shoeless Joe Jackson (right field). For catchers, I used a 32.0-WAR threshold instead of 40.0, as their values are constrained by the limits of playing time and pre-framing measures.

Shortstops

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 40.6 37.9 39.2
2023: 1.1 | ROS: 2.0 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 42.6 37.9 40.2
HOF Standard SS 67.7 43.2 55.4
ROS = Rest-of-Season ZiPS projected WAR.
All other figures use Baseball Reference WAR.

Though he’s the youngest member of this great wave of shortstops, Correa has the highest JAWS… for now. After a very strange winter in which he had megadeals with the Giants and Mets thwarted by concerns over his pre-signing physical exams, he’s back in Minnesota, and it’s not going particularly well. He’s hitting just .225/.299/.401 with a 94 wRC+, matching the career worst he set in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and even with solid defense (3 DRS, 3 RAA, -0.2 UZR), he’s been worth just 1.0 WAR. He’s played through a bout of plantar fasciitis in his left foot — the opposite side from the fractured fibula that the Giants and Mets red-flagged — and he’s been around average offensively after a 77 wRC+ in April. Particularly with Twins’ 45–46 first-half showing, this adds up to a disappointing and unsettling season thus far. Not only is he hearing the boos due to his connection to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, but he’s also getting jeers at Target Field.

If Correa matches his rest-of-season ZiPS projection, he’ll tie the 3.1 WAR of his seventh-best season (2018), and if he bounces back, he could improve his peak score. With just nine seasons under his belt (three of fewer than 100 games), he still has some low-hanging fruit as far as improving that peak score (3.7 WAR in 2019, 4.8 in ’15), but if he’s going to capitalize on the fast start to his career, he has to start playing like a star again.

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 40.1 35.8 38.0
2023: 3.5 | ROS: 2.2 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 42.3 38.0 40.2
HOF Standard SS 67.7 43.2 55.4

Lindor is about 10 months older than Correa and debuted just six days after him in June 2015. While he hasn’t been as valuable on either side of the ball (118–127 in wRC+, 47–73 in DRS) and has just one season of 6.0 WAR or higher to Correa’s three, he’s been durable enough to have played nearly 200 more games, which has drawn the two closer in the rankings. Note additionally that Lindor has a 4–2 edge over Correa in All-Star appearances and a 1.08–0.41 edge in Bill James’ Award Shares metric, a career tally of the fractional support a player receives in the annual MVP or Cy Young voting.

After a slow start at the plate, Lindor is on track for another strong season; where he had a 100 wRC+ through May, he’s at 154 since. If he matches his projection, his 5.7 WAR would equal his 2017 showing for his second-best to date and move him into a tie in JAWS with the projected version of Correa. Thus, he (and Correa) would already be ahead of Hall of Famers Rabbit Maranville, Phil Rizzuto, and Travis Jackson — not to mention Omar Vizquel (ugh) — in the JAWS rankings. At a minimum, he’d still have to top seasons of 4.0 and 4.8 WAR to push his peak score towards 40.0. Given the two players’ trends, I like his chances better than Correa’s.

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 37.9 34.5 36.2
2023: 3.5 | ROS: 2.3 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 41.4 36.8 38.5
HOF Standard SS 67.7 43.2 55.4

At 32 years old (33 on September 17), Semien is the oldest of the shortstops here, and even with the move to second base, he’ll be classified here for JAWS purposes until he accrues more value at the keystone. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned him in a Hall context due to his comparatively late start (just 85 games and 1.4 WAR before his age-24 season in 2015), but with 8.5 WAR in 2018, 7.1 in ’21, and the potential to string back-to-back-to-back seasons in the high fives, I’m suddenly paying attention.

Semien isn’t an elite hitter; he’s got a career wRC+ of 109 and is at 115 this year (.271/.338/.438). But he combines power, strong defense (28 DRS at second over the past two and a half seasons) and durability; he’s played in 155 or more games six times since 2015, with two of the exceptions being 2020 (53 of 60) and this year (all 91 of the Rangers’ games). Thanks to that combination, his 25.1 WAR since the start of 2019 ranks third behind only Aaron Judge (25.7) and Mookie Betts (25.6) — yes, less than a full win separates the three. He’s got seasons of 3.5 and 1.8 WAR still weighing down his peak score, but even if he merely matches his preseason three-year ZiPS projections (4.6 for next year, 3.6 for 2025), he’ll top the all-important 40.0-WAR peak score. Beyond the numbers, he has two top-three finishes in MVP voting but just two All-Star appearances (including this year) and one Gold Glove. He’ll need to make gains in those areas and remain productive into his mid- and late-30s if he’s ever going to be taken seriously as a Hall of Fame candidate.

Also: Count Xander Bogaerts (36.8/32.5/34.7) and Trea Turner (30.6/29.3/30.0) among the players of interest who are off to slow starts on their 11-year deals with new teams. Both are in their age-30 seasons and a few beats behind the younger Correa and Lindor, and they’re not exactly making big strides to catch up. Bogaerts is hitting just .253/.339/.392 (106 wRC+) and has been playing through lingering left wrist soreness. He’s at -4 DRS as well, and while he projects to double his current 1.6 WAR by season’s end, that would raise his peak score by only 0.9. Turner has been even worse at the plate (.247/.299/.389, 84 wRC+) and in the field (-5 DRS) for no clear reason (I did note in late May that he was being eaten alive by four-seamers). He has just one season above 4.9 WAR (6.4 in 2021, the year he was traded from the Nationals to the Dodgers), and needless to say, that’s not going to be enough to get him to Cooperstown no matter how smoothly he slides.

Left Field

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 26.5 26.5 26.5
2023: 3.4 | ROS: 2.6 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 29.1 29.1 29.1
HOF Standard LF 65.1 41.6 53.4

It’s way too early to start talking about Soto in a Hall of Fame context; after all, he’s just 24 years old. He’s already in his sixth season, however, and has a World Series ring (2019), a batting title (2020), and a league WAR lead (2021) checked off. After an underwhelming April, he’s hit for a 165 wRC+ since the start of May, and he’s tied for the highest second-half projection of any position player in this series. That would give him four seasons — his four full ones, not counting his rookie season and the pandemic one — of at least 5.0 WAR, which bodes well.

On that note, Soto is fourth in the 2019–23 WAR rankings behind only Judge, Betts, and Semien. Of the 17 AL/NL players with 26.0–32.0 WAR though their age-24 seasons — that is, within three wins of his projected total in either direction — two others are active, and nine of the remaining 14 are enshrined:

Juan Soto WAR Comparables Through Age-24 Season
Player Years Ages PA WAR HOF Status
Eddie Mathews 1952–1956 20-24 3142 31.1 IN
Andruw Jones 1996–2001 19-24 3312 31.0 Ballot
Vada Pinson 1958–1963 19-24 3553 30.9 OUT
Johnny Bench 1967–1972 19-24 3229 30.7 IN
Tris Speaker 1907–1912 19-24 2640 30.3 IN
Henry Aaron 1954–1958 20-24 3173 30.1 IN
Frank Robinson 1956–1960 20-24 3156 29.7 IN
Albert Pujols 2001–2004 21-24 2728 29.3 Not Yet Eligible
Cesar Cedeño 1970–1975 19-24 3491 29.2 OUT
Manny Machado 2012–2017 19-24 3365 28.3 Active
Rickey Henderson 1979–1983 20-24 2891 28.2 IN
Eddie Collins 1906–1911 19-24 2343 28.1 IN
Cal Ripken Jr. 1981–1985 20-24 2855 28.0 IN
Sherry Magee 1904–1909 19-24 3452 27.4 OUT
Joe DiMaggio 1936–1939 21-24 2544 27.1 IN
Juan Soto 2018–2023 19-24 3063 26.6 Active
Bryce Harper 2012–2017 19-24 3262 26.0 Active
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

Those nine aren’t just in the Hall of Fame; they’re inner-circle guys, starting with Mathews, a power-hitting third baseman who’s second in JAWS at the position and who ranks 12th overall in the through-24 rankings (Mike Trout is first at 47.7). Of the rest, Pujols is a slam dunk, and Jones is trending towards election (58.1% in his sixth year on the ballot), leaving just three out of 14 retired players who are definitively outside.

All of which is to say that Soto is clearly laying tracks toward Cooperstown.

Center Field

Mike Trout, CF
Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 85.3 65.1 75.2
2023: 2.9 | ROS: 2.2 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 87.5 65.1 76.3
HOF Standard CF 71.6 44.7 58.6

Trout was having a subpar season relative to his high standards when he fractured a hamate bone on July 3, an injury that is expected to cost him four-to-eight weeks. Even though it’s a freak injury, it’s yet another absence for a superstar who was limited to 36 games in 2021 due to a right calf strain and 119 last year due to a rare back condition called T5 costovertebral dysfunction. He hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2016, and while his absences aren’t likely to prevent an 11-time All-Star and three-time MVP who already ranks fifth in JAWS among center fielders from making the Hall, they will eventually take a shine off his career totals, to say nothing of the Angels’ playoff chances as they face the possibility that Shohei Ohtani may not be long for Anaheim.

Trout is third in peak score among center fielders, behind only Willie Mays and Ty Cobb — you may have heard of them — but at this point, he needs to exceed 7.7 WAR (from 2014) to supplant his seventh-best season. Absent that, he needs another 24.7 WAR to surpass Mickey Mantle’s JAWS and climb to fourth among center fielders. Nobody’s going to hold it against him if he falls short on either front; at this point, it would just be nice if he could stay healthy and productive for a season that stretches into October. Is that too much to ask of the baseball gods?

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 48.5 38.4 43.4
2023: 1.4 | ROS:0.4 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 48.9 38.4 43.6
HOF Standard CF 71.6 44.7 58.6

I’d love to be able to report that McCutchen’s return to Pitsburgh and his resurgence at the plate (.268/.383/.425 for a 123 wRC+, his highest since 2015) is translating into a revitalized Hall of Fame case, but it’s almost certainly too late for a 36-year-old designated hitter with midrange power. While he’s a five-time All-Star, MVP, and Gold Glove winner who helped the Pirates to three straight playoff berths after a two-decade absence, his defensive metrics have suppressed his WAR and dampened his case on the JAWS front. He would almost certainly have a peak score above 40.0 had he played average defense in center field, but in his seven best offensive seasons by WAR’s batting runs component, he was a combined 36 runs below average according to DRS, and overall, he’s been 77 below average via that measure. Using a 10-runs-equals-one-win exchange rate for some back-of-the-envelope math, that would translate to something like a 56.6/42.0/49.3 line if he had played average defense straight across the board. That’s still about nine points below the JAWS standard, just below Willie Davis and Jimmy Wynn, and above the aforementioned Cedeño and Pinson, players who are fondly remembered but short of legendary. Nonetheless, it’s great to see McCutchen still playing, and in the black and gold. Long may he run.

Right Field

Mookie Betts, RF
Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 60.4 50.6 55.5
2023: 4.3 | ROS: 2.6 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 63.0 53.2 58.1
HOF Standard RF 71.1 42.4 56.7

The 30-year-old Betts is in the midst of his best season as a Dodger, having already hit 26 homers, including 10 leading off games; he’s got a shot at the single-season record of 13 in that department and at improving upon last year’s career high total of 35. What’s more, not only has he hit .276/.379/.586 for a 157 wRC+, his best mark since his MVP-winning 2018 season, but he’s also been dabbling in the middle infield to provide important flexibility for the Dodgers, making 12 starts at shortstop and 19 second base and looking like a natural while doing it.

Betts needed just seven seasons — the first of those a 52-gamer — to blow past the peak standard for right fielders, which can happen when you bank seasons of 10.7 and 9.5 WAR. He’s improved that peak score every year since and is poised to do so again given that his current 4.3 WAR makes for his seventh-best total. He’s already 14th in JAWS at the position, one spot above Tony Gwynn, two above Dwight Evans, and three above Ichiro Suzuki, with the likes of Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero further below. If he meets his ZiPS projection, he’ll surpass the JAWS standard and climb over Shoeless Joe (57.4) and Sam Crawford (57.6) along the way, with an entry into the top 10 probable next year. Can you imagine trading one of the ten best right fielders of all time?

Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 44.6 35.1 39.8
2023: -0.1 | ROS: 0.6 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 45.2 35.1 40.1
HOF Standard RF 71.1 42.4 56.7

By hitting just .180/.263/.386 (80 wRC+) with 16 homers in 297 plate appearances since I ran this exercise last year, Stanton has actually dropped 0.8 WAR and 0.5 JAWS. At 33 years old, he still has elite bat speed and the capability of demolishing the ball upon contact — witness his 93.4 mph average exit velocity, 118.3 mph max exit velo, 15% barrel rate, and 51.4% hard-hit rate — but he’s striking out 25.2% of the time. In bursts he can remarkably productive and even awe-inspiring (see the 2020 postseason), but he’s increasingly vulnerable to lower-body injuries that sideline him seemingly forever and inevitably falls into an interminable funk; this year he missed 43 games due to a Grade 2 hamstring strain and has managed just a 68 wRC+ in 109 PA since returning.

After homering 308 times through 2018 (his age-28 season), Stanton has gone yard just 79 times in five seasons since, with many of those homers spectacular but only two of those seasons any good (2018 and ’21). He’s totaled just 9.0 WAR in that span, and not only do the 500-homer milestone and enshrinement in the Hall no longer feel inevitable, but they’re also increasingly unlikely unless he can find a way to stay on the field. If there’s good news, it’s that he has just three seasons above 4.4 WAR within that peak score and four in the 3.1–4.4 range, so if he’s ever healthy, he could improve that score. I’m not holding my breath.

Aaron Judge, RF
Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 39.3 39.6 39.5
2023: 2.3 | ROS: 2.9 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 42.2 42.5 42.4
HOF Standard RF 71.1 42.4 56.7

Speaking of power-hitting Yankees of a certain height: Judge has gained 8.8 points of JAWS since last year’s edition thanks to his 62-homer, 207-wRC+, 10.6-WAR season. The 31-year-old slugger was off to another fine start this year (.291/.404/.674, 189 wRC+, 19 HR) before tearing a ligament in his right big toe by crashing into a wall at Dodger Stadium on June 3. He hasn’t played since and is at least a couple of weeks away from returning, which doesn’t bode well for the Yankees’ chances given their ongoing offensive struggles.

Because he didn’t debut until age 24 or get a foothold in the majors until 25, Judge always faced an uphill battle to put up Hall of Fame numbers, but one way to do that is by averaging 46 homers and 7.8 WAR per 650 PA, as he has done since the start of 2017. Even if he’s playing three-quarters of a season, he makes significant progress, but given his age, every lengthy absence carries a cost. The good news is that he’s forecast for the highest second-half WAR of any player in this exercise and figures not only to surpass the 40.0-WAR peak mark pretty quickly once he returns, but also to reach the peak standard by season’s end. Note that this is already his sixth-best season by WAR, and he has a 1.1-WAR showing from 2020 that should be easily surpassed next year, further padding that peak score, which he’s going to need from a JAWS standpoint.

Bryce Harper, RF
Category Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Current 43.3 36.2 39.8
2023: 0.8 | ROS: 1.1 Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Projected End 2023 44.4 36.2 40.3
HOF Standard RF 71.1 42.4 56.7

Though he finally reached the World Series and produced some epic postseason highlights along the way, Harper’s past season and a half has been limited by injuries — not only a right UCL tear that consigned him to designated hitter duty and required offseason Tommy John surgery, but also a broken left thumb that cost him an additional two months of last season. Thus he’s played in just 155 games since the start of last year, with only eight in the field. While he’s hit for a very respectable 130 wRC+ amid all that — only 10 points below his career mark — he’s homered just three times this year, and 21 over the equivalent of a full season.

Harper has produced just 3.3 WAR in that span, including 2.5 last year — a total which somehow stands as his seventh-best, and which did add half a win to his peak score. As that little factoid suggests, that score is rather top-heavy; aside from his 9.7-WAR 2015 season, he has just two others of 5.0 or better, only one of which cracked the NL’s top 10, with the other four ranging from 2.5 to 4.8. The glass-half-full view of that is that a healthy Harper should be able to improve upon those numbers in a typical season, but the glass-half-empty view is that if he doesn’t get back to regular field play, his days of big value are behind him, though he’ll have ample opportunity to rack up the career numbers.

Also: Ronald Acuña Jr. (22.7/22.7/22.7) is in the midst of an incredible season, hitting .331/408/.582 with 21 homers plus league highs in wRC+ (164), stolen bases (41) and WAR (5.0). Though he reached the majors 13 months ahead of Soto, he lost half of what was shaping up to be a stellar 2021 to a torn ACL and was limited to 119 games, 15 homers, 11 steals, and 2.7 WAR last year. But even when you combine that with being 10 months older than Soto, he winds up in pretty good company on a WAR-by-age leaderboard; if he matches his rest-of-season ZiPS projection, his 25.2 WAR through age 25 would rank 61st, in the general vicinity of several Hall of Famers:

Ronald Acuña Jr. WAR Comparables Through Age-25 Season
Player Years Ages PA WAR HOF Status
Travis Jackson 1922–1929 18-25 3634 28.1 IN
Dick Allen 1963–1967 21-25 2580 28.0 OUT
Bryce Harper 2012–2018 19-25 3957 27.8 Active
George Brett 1973–1978 20-25 3114 27.6 IN
Joe Kelley 1891–1897 19-25 3363 27.5 IN
Evan Longoria 2008–2011 22-25 2414 27.2 Active
George Davis 1890–1896 19-25 4078 27.2 IN
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1908–1913 20-25 2044 27.1 Banned
John McGraw 1892–1898 19-25 3259 27.1 IN*
Ron Santo 1960–1965 20-25 3793 27.0 IN
Willie Randolph 1975–1980 20-25 3114 27.0 OUT
Robin Yount 1974–1981 18-25 4553 26.9 IN
Carlos Correa 2015–2020 20-25 2583 26.8 Active
Francisco Lindor 2015–2019 21-25 3244 26.8 Active
Jimmy Sheckard 1897–1904 18-25 3852 26.7 OUT
Juan Soto 2018–2023 19-24 3063 26.6 Active
Joe Cronin 1926–1932 19-25 2991 26.3 IN
Tim Raines 1979–1985 19-25 3224 26.2 IN
David Wright 2004–2008 21-25 3048 26.2 Not Yet Eligible
Joe Torre 1960–1966 19-25 3101 25.9 IN*
Grady Sizemore 2004–2008 21-25 3109 25.7 OUT
Orlando Cepeda 1958–1963 20-25 3850 25.6 IN
Sam Crawford 1899–1905 19-25 3586 25.5 IN
Giancarlo Stanton 2010–2015 20-25 2958 25.3 Active
Ivan Rodriguez 1991–1997 19-25 3516 24.8 IN
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference
* = elected as manager.

That’s 13 out of 18 eligible players enshrined, though two were elected as managers (though their playing careers are borderline-Hall at worst). The difference is that Soto is already at no. 28 among a Hall-saturated group and can move higher within it, whereas Acuña has to hit his second-half mark just to get to 61st. Still, we’re talking about a player who in six seasons has already accumulated four All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, a World Series ring (though he missed the postseason, he was certainly part of the success that helped the Braves get there, ranking third among the position players in WAR), and, if things continue to go well, quite possibly an MVP award. Even without that last piece of hardware, it’s a great start.

One more player to note is Fernando Tatis Jr., who’s still classified as a shortstop but has really taken to the move to right field, with an absurd 14 DRS in 70 games to go with his 137 wRC+, itself impressive after missing a full season. Between his injuries, the pandemic-shortened season, and his PED suspension, he’s only played 343 games, a bit more than two full seasons, but he’s already accumulated 17.4 WAR and projects to add another 1.8 over the remainder of this campaign. That’s impressive but well behind Soto in terms of age-based comparisons. What’s more, we have no idea whether voters in 2040 or 2045 will view his suspension as a dealbreaker as voters of today have largely done with the likes of Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, or whether it will be considered a bump in the road early in a long and incredible career. Or maybe the point will become moot as he fades with age. We’re going to have to wait to find out.

There’s one more hitter I know everybody reading this wants to know about, namely Ohtani, but his situation is more complicated and worth delving into along with the pitchers in Part 3.





Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

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David Klein
10 months ago

David Wright on the leaderboard through age 25 oh what could have been I believe I read he had accrued more war in his 20’s than Adrian Beltre had. Beltre was a monster in his 30’s and will waltz into the hall while Wright’s body collapsed in his 30’s. I find it funny that some Mets fans think Lindor had a uneven or bad first half due to batting average, yeah really. Lindor is clearly a slow starter and almost always is a top player at least in his league. I still laugh over Brian Kenny ranking Lindor as the seventh best shortstop in baseball after he Lindor’s fantastic 2022 season.

Left of Centerfield
10 months ago
Reply to  David Klein

Wright accumulated 94.5% of his career WAR through his age 30 season.

Wonder if there’s anyone with 40+ career WAR who had a higher % through their age 30 season? Cesar Cedeno, one of the poster children of “career went off the rails” is close at 94.0%.

sadtrombonemember
10 months ago

If we are talking about what-ifs, Nomar had 40 fWAR through age 30 and ended at 41.4. (38.5 through age 29).

Vida Blue and Vada Pinson are the other two classic “what if” cases but I don’t think they were that extreme.

Dave Parker almost fits but he suddenly became a star for one year in his 30s after falling off a cliff at age 29.

Left of Centerfield
10 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Sorry forgot to mention that I was looking at bWAR because it’s easier to sum across seasons on their website. And focused on position players.

Anyway, a couple others are Charlie Keller (94.1%) and Troy Tulowitzki (90.8%).

Pinson is at 89.3%, Parker 84.8%.

Meanwhile, Nomar is the clear “winner” so far at 95.9%.

Last edited 10 months ago by Left of Centerfield
Left of Centerfield
10 months ago

BTW, Keller would probably be ahead of Nomar if he hadn’t missed all of his age 27 season and most of his age 28 season to military service.

sadtrombonemember
10 months ago

Nomar even gets there with his not-so-great age 30 year. Going through age 29 I suspect he would be the winner there too. Just an all-time drop off, from a seemingly obvious Hall of Fame trajectory to being totally ineffective.

Jaack
10 months ago

Hall of Famer Amos Rusie pitched two games after his 30th birthday, and one of them was horrendous, so I think he’s gotta take the cake here.

Left of Centerfield
10 months ago
Reply to  Jaack

As I mentioned to sadtrombone, I was focued on position players. But Rusie would be at 100%. Same for Addie Joss.

Lanidrac
10 months ago

Felix Hernandez actually posted over 100% of his career 49.7 bWAR through his Age 30 season, as he had cumulative negative bWAR after that point until he retired at age 33.

duncanbishop1member
10 months ago

Also someone with OP’s last name: Chuck Klein with 88.2% which is high but not as high as other cited players