What is the Greatest Team Position in Baseball History?

This is a guest post by A. Lower of BaseballbyPositions.com, a website that ranks not only the greatest players in MLB History, but ranks all 345 team positions for the 30 active teams based on their all-time performance as compared to league average for that position. He has a lot of interesting information over there, so you should definitely check out the site and let him know what you think.

Have you ever even considered this question? Have you ever heard of anybody talking about this subject? Rating team positions isn’t just about the greatest players of all time, but everybody playing at least 20 games at that position in that league for every season, covering the vast majority of playing activity.

Who’s the Best?

The No. 1 ranked Team Position through 2010 is N.Y. Yankees catchers with a rating of 129 based on an index system where 100 is the average. At the bottom is Tampa Bay DH at a rating of 68, a number very likely to improve with Johnny Damon enjoying a solid 2011 season at that position.

Let’s look at the Dodgers. Their reputation as a great pitching team is well deserved. Including their time as an American Association team beginning in 1884, the Dodger starting pitchers enjoy a rating of 111, third all-time behind only the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays for that position. Looking at the Los Angeles era when Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser ruled, the team position rating is 127 for the last 53 seasons. The best season in L.A.? Look no further than 1981 when Fernando, Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton all finished among the top 6 N.L. starting pitchers.

A Legacy of Success

But the great Dodger success since the 1940’s is not confined to one position. While the starting pitchers rank #39 all-time, the catchers are one notch above, also with a 111 rating. While the Dodgers never had any outstanding players there for their first 64 seasons in Brooklyn, Roy Campanella changed all that when he took over the starting role in 1948. Since then Campy, John Roseboro, Mike Scioscia and Mike Piazza have glorified this position, making it one of the truly elite team positions with a 128 rating over the last 63 seasons.

All 345 Team Positions have their own page, listing the starters for every season (with full batting and fielding stats) as well as showing the ratings for each season, the last 5 seasons through each season and all-time cumulative performances as of each season. These ratings are also graphed for easy viewing.

Another really valuable feature on Baseball by Positions is the Team Lineups. This is a snapshot of each team’s season showing the fielding position starters, top reserves and most active pitchers for each pitching position. The starter rankings and team index ratings for each position gives you a good, easy way of seeing the positional strengths and weaknesses for any team’s season.

How We Rank Team Statistical Performance

One of the great Dodger teams ever is the 1942 version led by Pee Wee Reese and Pete Reiser. This team amassed a 104-50 record with a lineup where all eight starters ranked in the top half of the league starters for their position, a rare feat. Not only that, on a team basis, every fielding position had a team index rating of 100 or more, making this lineup consisting of Mickey Owen (Catcher), Dolph Camilli (1B), Billy Herman (2B), Arky Vaughan (3B), Reese (SS), Joe Medwick (LF), Reiser (CF) and Dixie Walker (RF) one of the most balanced and productive ever. The 1941 Dodger team’s lineup matched the feat of being above average on an individual and team basis for all 8 fielding positions.

More recently, the 1988 World Champion team provides a stark contrast to the balance of the teams just described. Kirk Gibson’s performance as the #1 ranked N.L. leftfielder and NL MVP led to a team position rating of 149 for the Dodger leftfielder position. Yet this was not the strongest lineup position! Mike Scioscia and Rick Dempsey combined to give Dodger catchers a 167 rating for 1988, making a solid case for the team’s Most Valuable Position that year. Although Orel Hershiser enjoyed a magnificent 23-8 record, winning the NL Cy Young Award, the team starting pitcher rating was a good, but not outstanding, 120.

The foundation of this positionally oriented website is the 2,800 comparative tables covering every possible combination of league, position and season. Players are compared on the most relevant level possible, apples to apples. All of the other features on the site are based on these tables.

Every table features several splits, all of which are summarized, along with aggregate league averages, in year by year chronologies on a league basis.

The Team Position Histories show all of the players in chronological order for each Team Position’s entire history.

This website gives you tons of great baseball information not found anywhere else. If you want to see baseball from a different perspective, check out www.baseballbypositions.com.