Negro Leagues Data Is Now Available on FanGraphs!

We’re excited to announce that Negro Leagues data is now available on the FanGraphs player pages and leaderboards! In addition, Negro Leagues players now have FanGraphs player pages. All data is provided by The Seamheads Negro Leagues Database powered by Agate Type Research. Special thanks are due to Gary Ashwill and Kevin Johnson for their assistance as we incorporated the data into the site.

The seven Black baseball leagues included in our data mirror those at Baseball Reference and are consistent with the recommendations of SABR’s Negro Leagues Task Force and Major League Baseball’s announcement recognizing these leagues as being major leagues.

Negro Leagues Recognized as Major Leagues
League Abbreviation Years
Negro National League I NNL 1920-1931
Eastern Colored League ECL 1923-1928
American Negro League ANL 1929
East-West League EWL 1932
Negro Southern League NSL 1932
Negro National League II NN2 1933-1948
Negro American League NAL 1937-1948
SOURCE: Baseball Reference

I highly recommend the introduction to Baseball Reference’s “The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues” initiative, as well as the accompanying articles written by Negro Leagues experts, family members of players, and others, for additional context on the Negro Leagues and Black baseball in the early 20th century more broadly. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is also a tremendous resource for fans, educators, and researchers hoping to learn more about this vital part of baseball history.

Please note that stats accumulated in Independent and non-major Negro Leagues are not included in players’ WAR calculations and are not currently displayed on player pages. Readers interested in statistics from these leagues can find them on Seamheads. Additionally, as with Baseball Reference, the newly added Negro Leagues data only includes league games, interleague games (against major Negro League competition), and games against select top-level independent Black baseball teams. Statistics for barnstorming and exhibition games aren’t included in players’ totals. Josh Gibson’s home run total is an illustrative example of the affect this can have. As Jay Jaffe explained in his post covering the Negro Leagues data launch at Baseball Reference:

When he was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, Gibson’s plaque credited him with hitting “almost 800 home runs,” and in the 1994 edition of the The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, he was credited with 972. An untold number of his homers were hit in exhibitions or non-league games, which were an economic necessity for Negro Leagues teams and players; only a quarter to half of the 150 to 200 games they played per year might count as league games, as Seamheads’ Gary Ashwill wrote in his accompanying essay, “Building the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database.” Those exhibition homers aren’t included in the statistics added to Baseball Reference.

All calculations for these leagues, including WAR, are treated as if these leagues were part of our original major league historical data, with the following exceptions:

– There are some years/leagues for which pitcher home run allowed data is not available. For these years, we are only calculating RA9-WAR and have substituted that for our FIP-based WAR in the “WAR” column. Should home run allowed data become available in the future for these years/leagues, we will adjust accordingly.

Missing Home Run Allowed Years
League Abbreviation Years No Home Run Allowed Data
Negro National League I NNL 1920-1931 1925, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1932
Eastern Colored League ECL 1923-1928 1924-1925
American Negro League ANL 1929
East-West League EWL 1932
Negro Southern League NSL 1932 1932
Negro National League II NN2 1933-1948 1939-1942
Negro American League NAL 1937-1948 1939-1942

– The Fielding component for all Negro Leagues data uses Michael Humphrey’s Defensive Regression Analysis (DRA) calculation as opposed to Sean Smith’s Total Zone (TZ).

– The park factors for these leagues are currently calculated as neutral. We may revise this in the future.

Here are the top players by WAR for position players among those who spent time in the major Negro Leagues:

Negro Leagues Position Players WAR
Position Player Existing WAR Negro Leagues WAR Updated WAR
Willie Mays 149.9 0.0 149.8
Larry Doby 52.0 9.6 61.6
Jackie Robinson 58.3 2.7 61.0
Willie Wells 57.1 57.1
Turkey Stearnes 55.1 55.1
Oscar Charleston 54.6 54.6
Minnie Minoso 50.8 3.8 54.5
Roy Campanella 38.5 7.9 46.4
Josh Gibson 45.3 45.3
Mule Suttles 40.6 40.6
Jud Wilson 39.7 39.7
Jim Gilliam 32.7 5.6 38.3
Buck Leonard 35.3 35.3
Cool Papa Bell 35.1 35.1
Hank Thompson 24.5 7.9 32.3
Monte Irvin 20.8 11.5 32.2
Elston Howard 31.3 0.1 31.4
Dobie Moore 30.4 30.4
Biz Mackey 28.6 28.6
Cristóbal Torriente 27.9 27.9
Newt Allen 27.3 27.3
Willard Brown -0.4 26.0 25.6
George Scales 25.6 25.6
Hurley McNair 24.7 24.7
Al Smith 23.3 0.8 24.1

And here are the pitchers:

Negro Leagues Pitcher WAR
Pitcher Existing WAR Negro Leagues WAR Updated WAR
Satchel Paige 7.3 36.3 43.6
Don Newcombe 35.9 1.1 37.1
Bullet Rogan 36.8 36.8
Willie Foster 34.9 34.9
William Bell 32.8 32.8
Ray Brown 32.2 32.2
Bill Byrd 30.1 30.1
Andy Cooper 26.0 26.0
Sam Jones 24.1 0.2 24.3
Rube Curry 22.0 22.0
Nip Winters 21.5 21.5
Roosevelt Davis 20.2 20.2
Rats Henderson 20.0 20.0
Chet Brewer 19.7 19.7
Hilton Smith 19.7 19.7
Ted Trent 19.0 19.0
Sam Streeter 18.8 18.8
Webster McDonald 18.7 18.7
Bill Drake 18.6 18.6
Henry McHenry 17.9 17.9
Bill Holland 17.2 17.2
Dave Brown 17.2 17.2
Nelson Dean 16.2 16.2
Logan Hensley 16.1 16.1
Connie Johnson 13.9 1.7 15.6
Red Ryan 15.1 15.1

David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.

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1 month ago

Fantastic news!