Position Players by WAR: Post-War Era

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

I mentioned in the Liveball Era article that over 500 MLB players served in WWII. Those gaps are a lot more apparent in many of the post-war players. Not only did players miss years (like Ted Williams), but they also had partial seasons due to service in the military. With so many players going off to serve, the quality of the Major Leagues dropped, and scoring dropped as a result. While I’m jumping from the Liveball Era to the Post-War Era, please keep in mind that players on the edges were more likely to be affected by the war.

If anyone has a full list of players that served, and the years they served, I would love to add that information to the charts to make the impact more obvious.

After the war, baseball started to change again. In 1947, Jackie Robinson was the first black player since the 19th century to play in the National League. He was joined 11 weeks later by Larry Doby in the American League, and baseball started integrating. 1947 also saw the first televised World Series. Baseball’s popularity soared after the war. During the Liveball Era it had been relatively stable, but the end of the war brought far more spectators than ever:

I don’t know what caused it. There were no new teams, stadiums weren’t really holding more people than they did before, but more people were coming to see the games. It could have been post-war bliss, TV increasing baseball’s visibility, integration, or just the great players from this era like Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Mickey Mantle.

Part of it had to do with the relocation of teams. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953. The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954 and became the Baltimore Orioles. The Philadelphia Athletics became the Westernmost team in the Majors when they moved to Kansas City in 1955. In 1957 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers were moved to the West Coast along with the New York Giants to become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants.

Editor’s note: Night games spread to 15 out of 16 teams (the Cubs being the sole exception) by 1949. I’ll bet you that had something to do with the increase.

Regardless of the reason, the Post-War Era’s increase in popularity led MLB to expand during the 60’s Expansion era, which we will cover next.

Post-War Era Part I:

Post-War Era Part II:

If we had to do it all over again, who would we elect from this time period? If you had a ballot, who would you vote for?

Player list (career WAR in parentheses):

Ted Williams (139.8) Stan Musial (139.3)
Mickey Mantle (123.1) Eddie Mathews (107.2)
Ernie Banks (74.1) Duke Snider (71.7)
Yogi Berra (71.4) Pee Wee Reese (69.7)
Richie Ashburn (67.5) Jackie Robinson (62.7)
Bobby Doerr (60.9) Minnie Minoso (58.1)
Enos Slaughter (57.6) Larry Doby (56.6)
Bob Elliott (56.2) Nellie Fox (55.3)
Vern Stephens (53.7) Ralph Kiner (53.4)
Gil Hodges (50.4) Red Schoendienst (47.4)
Phil Rizzuto (47.2) Eddie Yost (45.3)
Mickey Vernon (44.5) Gil McDougald (44.2)
Alvin Dark (44) Sherm Lollar (43.7)
George Kell (43.4) Roy Campanella (43.1)
Joe Adcock (42.7) Eddie Stanky (42.6)
Andy Pafko (42) Jim Gilliam (41.9)
Sid Gordon (41.7) Dom DiMaggio (41.1)
Carl Furillo (39.7) Smoky Burgess (39.6)
Gene Woodling (39.3) Tommy Holmes (38.9)
Bobby Thomson (38.8) Al Rosen (38.8)
Vic Wertz (38.5) Johnny Logan (38.2)
Eddie Joost (38.1) Jackie Jensen (37.5)
Del Ennis (37.5) Johnny Pesky (36.8)
Earl Torgeson (35.9) Bill Skowron (35.7)
Del Crandall (35.2) Pete Runnels (35.1)
Jim Piersall (34.7) Roy Sievers (34.3)
Walker Cooper (34.3) Ted Kluszewski (34.2)
Harvey Kuenn (33.9)


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You always know how good is Ted Williams, but when you see that his WAR was almost DOUBLE Banks AND Williams missed all that time in the war.

By the way, I’m probably missing something, but where is Willie Mays on the list? Seems that he and Banks would be perfect contemporaries (Banks 53-71, Mays 51-73).

Al Skorupa

Williams actually went to war TWICE. The light WAR seasons a few years later he was in Korea most of the time.

He completely missed his age 24-25-26 seasons and parts of the backside of his prime. By age 23 he was already at his peak as a superstar hitter, too.

Its really amazing considering what a one dimensional slugger he was. Many *think* Ruth was also one dimensional but he was a good fielder most of his career despite our images of him at the end as a big fat slob. He also gets credit for a lot of pitching early. Williams would be right behind Ruth if he hadn’t missed times in the wars. He was just that much better a hitter than his contemporaries.


I agree. These lists go straight from post WWII to free agency, totally neglected players like Mays who had a ridiculously high WAR.