NL West Mount Rushmore
Disclaimer: I use WAR a lot in this article, because I believe it is the best stat to indicate how good a baseball player is. If you’re unaware of what that is, here’s an explanation.
This is one of the easier calls to make. He is the last pitcher to win four Cy Young awards in a row. All you have to do is look up Johnson on any site that keeps track of stats and you’ll remember just how absurdly full of filth this man was—the only thing that could hit his ball was a bird flying through the diamond.
Here’s a look at some stats from his eight years in Arizona: 118-62, 2.83 ERA, 38 Complete Games, 14 Shutouts, 1 Perfect Game, an incredible 11.5/2.3 K/BB per 9 innings, and a total of 52.6 WAR. Insane. Oh. And he’s 6’10”. What’s not to love? Here’s another great R.J.-related video, just for kicks.
The five-time All Star is best known for this hit, which clinched the World Series for the Snakes in 2001. He wasn’t just a one-hit wonder for the Diamondbacks, though. No, he was wonderful all around for them.
Notable stats in his eight seasons there: 224 HR, 774 RBI, slashed .298/.391/.529 (BA, OBP, SLG), .919 OPS, and a 30.1 WAR. Greatest season was the 2001 season when he came third in MVP voting while mashing 57 HR while having an OPS of 1.117 and a WAR of 7.9. Can you imagine anyone putting up those numbers today and not winning MVP unanimously? Well, unfortunately for Gonzo, there were two dudes in 2001 who were mashing (and juicing) harder by the names of Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa ahead of him.
Despite spending only four seasons in Arizona, he amassed an impressive 19.8 WAR during that time. Let’s again highlight the 2001 season of someone else on that team: 22 wins, six complete games, one shutout, 3.11 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, and a WAR of 8.8. Oh. And he won World Series MVP with three games started, 1.69 ERA, 0.656 WHIP, an 11/0.8 SO/BB ratio. Look at how he followed it up the next season: 23 wins, five complete games, one shutout, 2.40 ERA, 0.968 WHIP, and 8.6 WAR.
This one might be a bit painful for any Arizona fan, but there is substantial evidence he is already on the Mount Rushmore of Diamondbacks. In the eight years he was there, he produced a 40.1 WAR. No, he didn’t win the World Series with them, but had he been on the team in the early 2000s, they certainly would have had a better shot to repeat in 2002 (Sorry, Matt Williams fans).
THE Toddfather. Part of my job here is to assure anyone reading that Todd Frazier needs to find a new nickname, as he is not, nor will he ever sniff the production of Todd Helton. The four-time Silver Slugger, three-time gold glover, and all-time best Rockies player is the first choice on this Mount Rushmore, not only because of how iconic he was with the franchise, but how much he produced. He racked up a 61.2 WAR in 17 seasons with the team while being a double-hitting machine; he is 19th all time in doubles hit. Also, fittingly, he ranks 19th all-time in career OPS with .953. Doesn’t matter where you play your home games, this is impressive.
Stats Courtesy of @HotStoveStats on Twitter. Larry Walker is: One of two in MLB history with 300 HR, 200 SB, and a .950 OPS; has a higher BA than Willie Mays, a higher OBP than Vlad Guerrero and a better OPS than Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield (All HOF). Here’s a list of players who, in the 148 years MLB has existed, have hit over .950 OPS and successfully stole bases at least 75% of the time (min. 300 attempts): Barry Bonds and Larry Walker. He is the only player to have 350 HR, 200 SB, .300 BA, and .400 OBP in his career. The only one. In history. He might be the best retired player not currently in the Hall of Fame. And his road splits were better than the HOME splits of guys like: Reggie Jackson, Eddie Matthews, Dave Winfield, and Cal Ripken Jr. So don’t even come in here with the Coors field argument.
All I have to put here is this: “In my opinion, Nolan Arenado is going to be the heir apparent to the all-time greatest third basemen.”- Mike Schmidt.
This is one of the many “What if?” stories in sports. What if he wasn’t injured so much? Because he was, people forget how good he was. Well, relative to Colorado baseball at least. No one in Rockies history, except those mentioned above, even touches his WAR. He racked up a 39.4 WAR in his 10 years in Colorado, even without the injuries. Closest was Carlos Gonzales, at 24.7. His defense was phenomenal in his prime, as well.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Sorry, Dodger fans. I don’t really like your team, full disclosure. So here’s some WAR of the Mount Rushmore of Dodgerland:
A 53 WAR in 12 seasons.
A 64.6 WAR in 10 seasons.
A 67.2 WAR in 14 seasons
Infinite WAR. This man is the GOAT.
San Diego Padres:
This was easy. Gwynn was a 15-time all star, five-time gold glove winner, and universally recognized as one of the best hitters of all time. Owns a 69.2 WAR over 20 seasons.
Had a 26 WAR as a closer. Pretty good. Not Mariano good, but pretty dang good. Also in the Hall of Fame, so that’s good, too.
Played more years in New York with the Yankees, but he had a better WAR in San Diego. 32 WAR in 8 years is impressive. His longevity might be his most impressive stat—he is top-15 all-time in both at bats and plate appearances.
Four years with the Friars. Won 1996 NL MVP award with 40 HR, 130 RBI, a 1.028 OPS, and a 7.6 WAR. Even though him and Winfield played more years elsewhere, they are still both deserving to be on the Mount Rushmore of San Diego baseball, because, well, they haven’t been that good historically.
San Francisco Giants:
No asterisk here. It’s comical to me that baseball writers today have deemed the Baseball Hall of Fame to be some kind of club exclusive to those with spotless records. I’m curious to see how the voting is on guys like David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez when they’re eligible. I think they just don’t like how Bonds treated them. I could go on about this (I wrote an 11-page paper on this once). Anyway, just look at his numbers. Steroids or not, he is a top-five baseball player all-time no matter how you spin it.
Another top-ten player of all-time, and probably top-five. Go look at his numbers too. All I’ll put here he has a career 156.4 WAR. That’s good for 5th all-time behind only Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Barry Bonds.
I mean, the man has a whole cove named after him. Not sure more needs to be said.
This last spot was a bit hard at first, just because of how easy Bonds and the two Willies were. But Buster, despite not having the most eye-popping numbers, was the leader of three of the franchise’s eight championships. Easy choice when that is considered.
All stats (except one mentioned) are courtesy of baseball-reference.com