Position Players by WAR: Expansion Era

Baseball Prehistory | Deadball Era | Liveball Era | Post-War
Expansion | Free Agency | Modern Era

The Expansion Era saw the Major Leagues grow from 16 teams in 1959 to 24 teams in 1975. The Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960, and MLB decided to expand earlier than planned at risk of losing its anti-trust exemption. The new Washington Senators would become the Texas Rangers in 1972. They were joined by the Los Angeles Angels in the same year. 1962 saw the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets join the Majors, followed by the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots (later to become the Milwaukee Brewers), San Diego Padres, and the international addition of the first Canadian Team, the Montreal Expos.

I cut off the Expansion Era at 1975, right before Free Agency took hold, but there were two new teams formed in 1977: the Seattle Mariners, and the Toronto Blue Jays.

If you looked at a map of the MLB in 1950, this is what it would look like:

The same map in 1977 after Expansion was finished would look like this:

The Expansion era also saw a couple rule changes. The pitching mound was lowered in 1968, and the Designated Hitter rule was introduced in 1973. Baseball looks more and more like the modern game. Integration sees the rise of all-time great non-white players like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Let’s take a look at those players:

Part II:

Who jumps out to you?

Player list (career WAR in parentheses):

Willie Mays (163.2) Hank Aaron (150.5)
Frank Robinson (116.3) Carl Yastrzemski (108.7)
Joe Morgan (108) Al Kaline (101.9)
Brooks Robinson (94.6) Pete Rose (91.4)
Roberto Clemente (91.3) Johnny Bench (81.5)
Reggie Jackson (81.4) Rod Carew (80.3)
Ron Santo (79.3) Harmon Killebrew (78.4)
Willie McCovey (75.7) Reggie Smith (71.8)
Graig Nettles (71.8) Willie Stargell (70.9)
Joe Torre (70.8) Billy Williams (69.7)
Dick Allen (67.9) Tony Perez (67.8)
Norm Cash (64.8) Luis Aparicio (63.6)
Bobby Bonds (63.3) Willie Davis (63.3)
Ken Boyer (63.3) Sal Bando (62.7)
Ted Simmons (61.1) Jimmy Wynn (60.7)
Rocky Colavito (59) Orlando Cepeda (58.3)
Rusty Staub (56.6) Vada Pinson (56.4)
Cesar Cedeno (55.2) Jim Fregosi (53.9)
Boog Powell (53.8) Bert Campaneris (53.7)
Lou Brock (53.4) Bill Freehan (52.8)
Al Oliver (50.2) Tony Oliva (48.6)
Roy White (47.5) Gene Tenace (47.4)
Frank Howard (46.8) Felipe Alou (45.7)
Rico Petrocelli (45.7) Amos Otis (45.6)
Dick McAuliffe (44.6) Thurman Munson (44.4)
Roger Maris (44.3) Bob Allison (43.9)
Maury Wills (43.7) Ron Fairly (43.1)
George Scott (43) Curt Flood (42.5)
Paul Blair (42.1) Johnny Callison (41.6)
Dick Groat (41.6) Don Buford (41.1)
Richie Hebner (40.9) Mark Belanger (40.5)
Bill White (40.1) Bill Mazeroski (39.5)
Rico Carty (39.4) Elston Howard (39)
Bobby Murcer (38.6) Bob Bailey (38.1)
Ken McMullen (38) Clete Boyer (38)
Rick Monday (38) Garry Maddox (37.3)
Chris Speier (36.1) Davey Johnson (35.6)
Willie Horton (34.7) Tom Haller (34.4)
Ron Hansen (34.4) Ron Hunt (34.4)
Leo Cardenas (34.4) Lee May (34.3)


We hoped you liked reading Position Players by WAR: Expansion Era by Joshua Maciel!

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John R

Willie Mays was a 10 WAR player 6 times in his career.

Pujols has never had a 10 WAR season.


Jim Lahey
Jim Lahey

Willie Mays gets a huge positional bonus for playing CF, and I can only assume he rates quite well defensively on top of playing CF.

SF 55 for life
SF 55 for life

are you saying that’s a negative thing?

Albert Lyu

I think he’s saying that’s why Pujols probably never had a 10 WAR season.


no, he’s saying its easier to post 10 WAR out of CF than 1B, which is fact, especially since by any measure mays was an outstanding fielder and albert is slightly above average at best


or what albert said


Yet their cumulative WAR totals are equal through their age 30 season:


Willie played a long time – we’ll see if Albert can keep piling up enormous value for the next 10-12 years.


also, per rWAR, albert has had 1 10+ season and 3 others above 9 whereas mays has 3 each 10+ and 9-10