Also considered: Nap Lajoie, Sam Crawford
While Lajoie and Crawford are well-deserving Hall of Famers. Great players, no doubt. They just aren’t Honus Wagner. Quite frankly no one is or ever has been. I’m going to brag on him for just a second here so just hold on tight:
- Ten seasons hitting above .330
- .352 Batting Average over the whole decade
- Eight seasons of .900+ OPS (lowest was .857, still .200 points above the league average)
- Nine season with an On-Base Percentage over .400 (the other season was .394)
- Ten seasons with 30+ Doubles
- Nine seasons with 10+ Triples (’06 he only had 9)
- Ten seasons with 90+ Runs (and six with 100+)
- Six seasons with 100+ RBI’s
- 490 Stolen Bases
- Six consecutive seasons with an 8+ WAR
- 8.6 average WAR
(.352/.417/.508, 1,847 H, 51 HR, 956 RBI, 1,014 R)
*These numbers only reflect the seasons between 1900-09*
For those of you unfamiliar with the stat WAR (Wins Above Replacement), anything above 5 is considered All-Star caliber and anything above 8 is a level set aside for MVP’s. Therefore, for Wagner to average an 8.6 WAR per season meant that he was averaging an MVP season over a ten year span. That’s just absurd.
All of this from the shortstop position during an era where offense wasn’t nearly what it is now. I personally think Honus Wagner is the greatest shortstop of all-time. And I don’t even think it’s close. But we can save that for another time.
Nonetheless, Honus Wagner comes in as my first Player of the Decade selection. Continue to check back in as I will continue revealing my choice of players each day.