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Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR per Season (per 162 Games)

The WAR Hall of Fame below is based on WAR per season (WAR per 162 games). The position indicated is the player's primary position. The team indicated is the player's primary team. Babe Ruth's WAR has been adjusted to not reflect years when he was primarily a pitcher. If his pitching WAR was included, his WAR per 162 games would be 10.90, but pitching WAR was inflated during baseball's early days because the top pitchers accumulated outlandish numbers of innings and wins. Thus, of the top 29 WAR seasons, only one is by a hitter, Ruth. That doesn't seem fair to hitters.

The all-time leaders for each position are starred with an asterisk. Active players are bolded and their rankings can still go up or down.

Please keep in mind that 8 WAR is MVP level. So the top players on the list below played at an MVP level for their entire careers. All-Star level is 5 WAR, so every player on this list played at a composite all-star level for his entire career. It seems safe to say that any player who made this list was elite, while those who averaged 6.5 WAR or higher were transcendent.

The Best Players by Position, according to WAR per Season (with starters underlined)

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Mickey Cochrane, Mike Piazza, Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey
First Base: Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Joey Votto, Jeff Bagwell, Johnny Mize
Second Base: Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Jackie Robinson, Nap Lajoie, Joe Gordon, Joe Morgan, Chase Utley
Shortstop: Honus Wagner, Alex Rodriguez, Arky Vaughn, Lou Boudreau, Andrelton Simmons
Third Base: Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Wade Boggs, Evan Longoria
Right Field: Hank Aaron, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Larry Walker, Roberto Clemente
Center Field: Mike Trout, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle
Left Field: Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson
Designated Hitter: Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Charlie Keller, Albert Pujols, Dick Allen
Utility: Pete Rose (he was an all-star at five different positions, playing more than 500 games at each)

Positive Surprises: Mike Trout (9.88), Roger Connor (6.84), Arky Vaughn (6.47), Billy Hamilton (6.44), Charlie Keller (6.37), Lou Boudreau (6.35), Joe Gordon (6.27), Andrelton Simmons (6.15), Jim Glasscock (5.75), Bobby Grich (5.58), Scott Rolen (5.58), Al Rosen (5.46), Lenny Dykstra (5.39), Adrian Beltre (5.32), Wally Berger (5.12), Ken Boyer (5.00)

Negative Surprises: Leo Durocher (0.51), Connie Mack (1.25), Lloyd Waner (1.96), Casey Stengel (2.55), Rick Ferrell (2.56), Ray Schalk (2.63), Dave Parker (2.63), Steve Garvey (2.65), Bill Mazeroski (2.73)

The first six players above are in the HOF, although Durocher, Mack and Stengel are better known as managers. Lloyd Waner was an average player based on WAR and OPS+. Rick Ferrell wasn't even the best player in his own family; his brother Wes was. I was surprised to see that Steve "my hair is always perfect" Garvey made this list. Mazeroski is also in the HOF, but it wasn't because of his 84 OPS+ and he never had a five WAR season.

Players who should be considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame based on their Peak WAR and total WAR, with the players with the highest peaks underlined: Pete Rose (44.9/79.7), Bill Dahlen (40.2/75.4), Larry Walker (44.7/72.7), Derek Jeter (41.8/72.4), Bobby Grich (46.4/71.1), Scott Rolen (43.7/70.2), Carlos Beltran (44.4/69.8), Edgar Martinez (43.7/68.4), Kenny Lofton (43.4/68.3), Graig Nettles (42.4/68.0), Ken Boyer (46.3/62.8), Andruw Jones (46.5/62.8), Sal Bando (44.4/61.5), Todd Helton (46.5/61.2), Jim Edmonds (42.6/60.4), Keith Hernandez (41.3/60.4), Bobby Abreu (41.6/60.0), Bobby Bonds (41.1/57.9), Dick Allen (45.9/55.1), Minnie Minoso (39.9/50.5)

NOTE: Because the HOF requires ten years and an all-star season is five WAR, the total WAR requirement above is 50 or higher. The peak WAR requirement of 40 was chosen because it is around the average for HOF members. If only total WAR is considered, a player may have just played a lot more games than the average HOF member. If just peak WAR is considered, the player may have been a bit of a "flash in the pan." But if we consider both, we know that a player accumulated enough total WAR for at least ten all-star seasons, and that he played at a very high level for at least seven years.

WAR per 162 Games for Position Players [with peak WAR aka WAR7]

Please note that WAR7 of 56 or higher means that the player in question performed at an MVP level or higher, on average, for at least seven years. To see this list sorted by peak WAR, please click here: Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7.

10.48 (RF)       Babe Ruth* (New York Yankees) not including pitching WAR [84.7]
9.88 (CF)        Mike Trout* (Los Angeles Angels) and still rising! [61.4]
9.22 (LF)        Ted Williams* (Boston Red Sox) adjusted for five years lost to military service (est. 170 WAR, 2986 games) [69.2]
9.10 (2B)        Rogers Hornsby* (St. Louis Cardinals) [73.5]

8.83 (LF)        Barry Bonds (San Francisco Giants) obviously inflated by PEDs [72.7]
8.47 (CF)        Willie Mays (New York/San Francisco Giants) [73.7]
8.41 (1B)        Lou Gehrig* (New York Yankees) [67.7]
8.06 (CF)        Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers) [69.2]

7.79 (CF)        Tris Speaker (Cleveland Indians) [62.4]
7.75 (CF)        Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees) adjusted for three years lost to military service (est. 101 WAR, 2100 games) [51.2]
7.60 (1B)        Dan Brouthers (Many) [47.2]
7.58 (CF)        Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees) [64.8]
7.58 (SS)        Honus Wagner* (Pittsburgh Pirates) [65.4]
7.36 (RF/LF)  Shoeless Joe Jackson (Chicago White Sox) [52.5]
7.18 (3B)        Mike Schmidt* (Philadelphia Phillies) [58.7]
7.10 (1B)        Hank Greenberg (Detroit Tigers) [47.7]

6.91 (2B)        Eddie Collins (Chicago White Sox) [64.2]
6.84 (1B/3B)  Roger Connor (New York Giants) [47.0]
6.79 (RF/1B)  Stan Musial (St. Louis Cardinals) [64.1]
6.79 (1B/3B)   Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia Athletics) [59.5]
6.71 (2B)        Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers) [52.0]
6.70 (RF)        Hank Aaron (Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves) [60.3]
6.58 (SS)        Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees) [64.3]
6.56 (RF)        Mel Ott (New York Giants) [52.9]
6.51 (3B)        Eddie Mathews (Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves) [54.3]

6.47 (SS)        Arky Vaughan (Pittsburgh Pirates) [50.6]
6.46 (3B)        Frank Baker (Philadelphia Athletics) [46.8]
6.43 (2B)        Nap Lajoie (Cleveland Indians) [60.3]
6.35 (SS)        Lou Boudreau (Cleveland Indians) [58.7]
6.27 (2B)        Joe Gordon (New York Yankees) [45.8]
6.15 (LF)        Ed Delahanty (Philadelphia Phillies) [48.6]

6.05 (1B)        Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds) [46.1]
6.04 (1B)        Jeff Bagwell (Houston Astros) [48.3]
6.04 (2B)        Joe Morgan (Cincinnati Reds) [59.3]
6.00 (RF)        Frank Robinson (Cincinnati Reds) [52.9]

5.92 (RF)        Larry Walker (Colorado Rockies) [44.7]
5.90 (1B)        Johnny Mize (St. Louis Cardinals) [48.8]
5.87 (3B)        Wade Boggs (Boston Red Sox) [56.4]
5.74 (2B)        Bobby Grich (California Angels) [46.4]
5.65 (2B)        Chase Utley (Philadelphia Phillies) [49.3]
5.62 (C)          Johnny Bench* (Cincinnati Reds) [47.1]
5.61 (1B)        Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals) [61.7]
5.59 (LF)        Rickey Henderson (Oakland Athletics) [57.6]

5.48 (3B)        Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves) [46.8]
5.48 (2B)        Charlie Gehringer (Detroit Tigers) [50.5]
5.44 (3B)        Dick Allen (Philadelphia Phillies) [45.9]
5.38 (2B)        Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners) [50.5]
5.37 (RF)        Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates) [54.2]
5.33 (2B)        Rod Carew (Minnesota Twins) [49.8]
5.32 (3B)       Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers) [49.3]
5.20 (RF)       Harry Heilmann (Detroit Tigers) [47.2]
5.18 (SS)       Cal Ripken Jr. (Baltimore Orioles) [56.3]
5.12 (3B)       Ron Santo (Chicago Cubs) [53.8]
5.09 (2B)       Ryne Sandburg (Chicago Cubs) [57.5]
5.08 (CF)       Ken Griffey Jr. (Cincinnati Reds) [54.0]
5.08 (RF)       Al Kaline (Detroit Tigers) [48.9]
5.07 (LF)      Al Simmons (Philadelphia Athletics) [45.8]
5.06 (3B)       George Brett (Kansas City Royals) [53.2]
5.03 (1B/DH) Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox) [45.2]
5.01 (CF)       Duke Snider (Brooklyn Dodgers) [49.9]
5.00 (3B)       Ken Boyer (St. Louis Cardinals) [46.3]

Players whose WAR7 suggests they belong on the list above:

4.96 (1B)      Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers) [44.7]
4.94 (C)        Gary Carter (Montreal Expos) [48.2]
4.72 (LF)      Carl Yastrzemski (Boston Red Sox) [55.5] his peak was ultra-high, but longevity hurt some of his stats
4.63 (CF)      Andruw Jones (Atlanta Braves) [46.5]
4.39 (SS)      Robin Yount (Milwaukee Brewers) [47.3]
4.39 (3B)      Brooks Robinson (Baltimore Orioles) [45.7]
4.37 (1B)      Todd Helton (Colorado Rockies) [46.5]
4.32 (SS/1B) Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs) [51.9] in his prime he was beyond elite, the first of the home-run crushers at shortstop
4.25 (1B)      George Sisler (St. Louis Browns) [47.0]
4.25 (RF)      Reggie Jackson (Oakland Athletics] [46.8]
4.04 (1B)      Willie McCovey (San Francisco Giants) [44.9]
3.63 (*)         Pete Rose (Cincinnati Reds) [44.9] longevity hurt some of his stats but WAR7 confirms he was comparable to Al Simmons, Goose Goslin, Miguel Cabrera, Willie McCovey

Players with high WAR averages who fell a bit short on WAR7, meaning that they didn't sustain the highest level of play for at least seven years, using a cut-off of ~45 WAR7:

6.44 (CF)       Billy Hamilton (Philadelphia Phillies) [42.7]
6.37 (LF)        Charlie Keller (New York Yankees) [38.7]
6.15 (SS)        Andrelton Simmons (Los Angeles Angels) [33.0] but only because he hasn't played seven full seasons yet
6.04 (1B)        Cap Anson (Chicago Cubs) amazingly he didn't play 100 games until age 32 and still had 3,435 hits! [41.8]
5.86 (C)          Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants) [37.1]
5.81 (RF)        Elmer Flick (Cleveland Indians) [41.3]
5.76 (SS)        George Davis (New York Giants) [44.4]
5.75 (SS)        Jim Glasscock (Cleveland Blues) [41.0]
5.60 (3B)        Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) [40.9]
5.58 (3B)        Scott Rolen (Philadelphia Phillies) [43.7]
5.53 (C)          Mickey Cochrane (Philadelphia Athletics) [36.9]
5.46 (3B)       Al Rosen (Cleveland Indians) [33.3]
5.40 (CF)       Larry Doby (Cleveland Indians) [39.6]
5.40 (C)         Mike Piazza (New York Mets) [43.1]
5.39 (CF)       Lenny Dykstra (Philadelphia Phillies) [33.0]
5.38 (1B)        Mark McGwire (Oakland Athletics) [41.9]
5.37 (1B)       Bill Terry (New York Giants) [41.2]
5.34 (LF)       Fred Clarke (Pittsburgh Pirates) [36.2]
5.27 (2B)       Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) [40.4]
5.27 (RF)       Reggie Smith (Boston Red Sox) [38.7]
5.26 (CF)       Kenny Lofton (Cleveland Indians) [43.4]
5.25 (C)         Thurman Munson (New York Yankees) [37.0]
5.24 (2B)       Frankie Frisch (St. Louis Cardinals) [44.4]
5.24 (LF)       Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates) [43.7]
5.23 (SS)       Barry Larkin (Cincinnati Reds) [43.1]
5.23 (2B)       Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox) [42.4]
5.20 (CF)       Jim Edmonds (St. Louis Cardinals) [42.6]
5.16 (3B/DH) Edgar Martinez (Seattle Mariners) [43.7]
5.16 (3B)       David Wright (New York Mets) [40.2]
5.12 (CF)       Wally Berger (Boston Braves) [3.58]
5.09 (C)         Roy Campanella (Brooklyn Dodgers) [32.8] unfortunately one of the greatest catchers was a victim of racial discrimination and injuries
5.09 (2B)       Lou Whitaker (Detroit Tigers) [37.9]
5.06 (SS)       Joe Cronin (Boston Red Sox) [43.9]
5.06 (CF)      Hack Wilson (Chicago Cubs) [35.8]
5.05 (C)        Bill Dickey (New York Yankees) [34.2]
5.04 (SS)      Joe Tinker (Chicago Cubs) [32.9]
5.00 (SS)      Allen Trammell (Detroit Tigers) [44.8]
5.00 (RF)      Bobby Bonds (San Francisco Giants) [41.1]
5.00 (SS)      Nomar Garciaparra (Boston Red Sox) [43.1]
4.99 (SS)      Bill Dahlen (Chicago Cubs) [40.2]
4.98 (SS)      Luke Appling (Chicago White Sox) [43.8]
4.98 (LF)      Bob Johnson (Philadelphia Athletics) [36.0]
4.94 (3B)      Sal Bando (Oakland Athletics) [44.4]
4.93 (C)       Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins) [39.0]
4.88 (LF)      Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox) [39.9]
4.85 (2B)      Willie Randolph (New York Yankees) [36.3]
4.84 (RF)      Sam Crawford (Detroit Tigers) [39.7]
4.84 (SS)      Ozzie Smith (St. Louis Cardinals) [42.5]
4.78 (LF)      Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers) [39.2]
4.73 (CF)      Richie Ashburn (Philadelphia Phillies) [44.5]
4.72 (CF)     Jim Wynn (Houston Astros) [43.4]
4.68 (LF)      Goose Goslin (Washington Senators) [43.2]
4.68 (1B)      Keith Hernandez (New York Mets) [41.3]
4.64 (1B)      Jim Thome (Cleveland Indians) [41.5]
4.64 (CF)     Kirby Puckett (Minnesota Twins) [37.6]
4.63 (RF)     Paul Waner (Pittsburg Pirates) [42.2]
4.63 (1B)      Will Clark (San Francisco Giants) [36.1]
4.62 (2B)      Billy Herman (Chicago Cubs) [35.5]
4.59 (RF)     Tony Gwynn (San Diego Padres) [41.3]
4.57 (3B)      Paul Molitor (Milwaukee Brewers) [39.7]
4.57 (2B)      Roberto Alomar (Toronto Blue Jays) [42.9]
4.54 (LF)      Joe Medwick (St. Louis Cardinals) [39.7]
4.54 (C)        Yogi Berra (New York Yankees) [37.0]
4.53 (CF)     Chet Lemon (Chicago White Sox) [37.2]
4.50 (CF)     Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburg Pirates) [37.4]
4.49 (LF)      Tim Raines (Montreal Expos) [42.4]
4.49 (LF)      Lance Berkman (Houston Astros) [39.3]
4.48 (RF)      Vladimir Guerrero (Montreal Expos) [41.2]
4.46 (LF/3B) Minnie Minoso (Chicago White Sox) [50.5]
4.46 (3B)      Buddy Bell (Cleveland Indians) [40.5]
4.44 (C)        Carlton Fisk (Boston Red Sox) [37.6]
4.37 (CF)      Carlos Beltran (Kansas City Royals) [44.4]
4.37 (3B)      Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox) [38.7]
4.37 (C)       Ivan Rodriguez (Texas Rangers) [39.8]
4.27 (SS)      Derek Jeter (New York Yankees) [41.8]
4.26 (CF)     Cesar Cedeno (Houston Astros) [41.4]
4.22 (1B)      John Olerud (Toronto Blue Jays) [39.0]
4.20 (3B)      Ron Cey (Los Angeles Dodgers) [37.1]
4.17 (RF)     Tony Oliva (Minnesota Twins) [38.6]
4.17 (RF)      Dwight Evans (Boston Red Sox) [37.3]
4.15 (LF)      Billy Williams (Chicago Cubs) [41.4]
4.13 (CF)     Fred Lynn (Boston Red Sox) [38.4]
4.11 (1B)      Rafael Palmeiro (Baltimore Orioles) [38.9]
4.08 (3B)      Graig Nettles (Cleveland Indians) [42.4]
4.05 (CF)     Willie Davis (Los Angeles Dodgers) [38.9]
4.03 (RF)      Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs) [43.8]
4.00 (CF)     Andre Dawson (Montreal Expos) [42.7]
4.00 (RF)      Bobby Abreu (Philadelphia Phillies) [41.6]
3.94 (LF)      Willie Stargell (Pittsburg Pirates) [38.0]
3.91 (2B)      Jeff Kent (San Francisco Giants) [35.7]
3.83 (1B)      Orlando Cepeda (San Francisco Giants) [34.6]
3.81 (RF)      Gary Sheffield (*) [38.0]
3.76 (RF)      Enos Slaughter (St. Louis Cardinals) [35.2]
3.75 (LF)      Jose Cruz (Houston Astros) [36.3]
3.72 (1B)      David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) [35.2]
3.72 (2B)      Craig Biggio (Houston Astros) [41.8]
3.67 (CF)      Johnny Damon (Boston Red Sox) [33.0]
3.67 (1B/DH) Eddie Murray (Baltimore Orioles) [39.1]
3.62 (LF)      George Foster (Cincinnati Reds) [36.9]
3.62 (RF)      Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners) [43.7]
3.56 (CF)      Vada Pinson (Cincinnati Reds) [40.0]
3.55 (3B)       Darrell Evans (Atlanta Braves) [37.3]
3.50 (RF)      Dave Winfield (San Diego Padres) [37.9]
3.46 (CF)      Dale Murphy (Atlanta Braves) [41.2]
3.15 (1B)      Tony Perez (Cincinnati Reds) [36.5]
3.09 (1B)      Boog Powell (Baltimore Orioles) [30.9]
3.08 (C)        Manny Sanguillen (Pittsburg Pirates) [26.4]
3.05 (1B)      Ted Kluszewski (Cincinnati Reds) [29.2]
2.99 (CF)      Al Oliver (Pittsburg Pirates) [28.1]
2.91 (1B)      George Scott (Boston Red Sox) [30.3]
2.87 (1B)      Jim Bottomley (St. Louis Cardinals) [28.8]
2.85 (1B)      Wally Joyner (California Angels) [23.6]
2.75 (1B)      Joe Adcock (Milwaukee Braves) [23.7]
2.73 (2B)      Bill Mazeroski (Pittsburg Pirates) [26.0]
2.72 (C)        Elston Howard (New York Yankees) [26.4]
2.65 (1B)      Steve Garvey (Los Angeles Dodgers) [28.8]
2.63 (RF)      Dave Parker (Pittsburg Pirates) [37.4]
2.52 (CF)      Willie McGee (St. Louis Cardinals) [28.7]
2.51 (RF)      Rusty Staub (Montreal Expos) [33.3]
2.22 (DH)     Harold Baines (Kansas City Royals) [21.4]

NOTE: Anything below two WAR per season would be below average for a major league baseball starter.

Related Pages: The Greatest Baseball Team of All Time, The Greatest Baseball Infields of All Time, Is Mike Trout the GOAT?, Best Baseball Nicknames, Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia, All-Time Cincinnati Reds Baseball Team, Cincinnati Reds Trivia, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7

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