Survey of Best Fielders since 1900

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in the 1973 Baseball Research Journal


Fielding has been a long-neglected area in player evaluation.  To remedy this, the Sporting News began issuing gold glove awards in 1957.  But what about all those earlier years?  SABR thought some effort should be made to establish just who were the great fielders by position since 1900.  This would be done for each decade and each league since the turn of the century.  But how do you go about this?  Who knows who the great fielders were 50-60 years ago?

SABR sent ballots out to a selected list of old time writers, broadcasters, players, and some baseball historians of more tender years who at least knew how to research those early years.  Of more than 50 ballots sent out, only 24 were returned, including information from such authorities as Fred Lieb, Ken Smith, Leonard Gettelson, Ernie Harwell, and George Sisler.  While almost all selected their all-time fielding team, some did not fill out the early decades.  Therefore, it is not the most conclusive survey, but it did produce some results.  At least the voters did not automatically put down Tinker, Evers, and Chance for the NL 1900-09 team.  At the same time, readers should not assume that Fielder Jones was selected just because of his first name; he really was an excellent fielder.

Some voters complained about fitting certain good fielders into decades; others had problems picking an all-time fielding team because of the difficulties of comparing fielders of different generations such as Hans Wagner and Luis Aparicio.  The gloves have changed and the playing fields have changed.  Errors have been reduced about 50 percent since the early 1900’s.  Nevertheless, the voters have come up with a fielding team that is well balanced historically.

Carried below are the leaders by position, by decade, and by league since 1900.  Because of the small number of ballots, some ties resulted in the early periods.  For players to have competed in the decade listings, they must have played at least five years of that period.  Outfielders are chosen generally and not by specific position.  The team of the 1960’s is based primarily on annual gold glove winners and was not selected by the voters.  For the all-time team, the votes are given for the leaders and the chief contenders.

HISTORICAL SURVEY OF BEST FIELDERS BY POSITION

AL        1900

1909          NL

 

AL        1910

1919          NL

Hal Chase

1B

Fred Tenney

 

J.McInnis

1B

J. Daubert

Nap Lajoie

2B

C. Ritchey

 

B. Collins

2B

G. Cutshaw

Jim Collins

3B

Leach-Devlin

 

Fr. Baker

3B

Henry Groh

K. Wallace

SS

Hans Wagner

 

Donie Bush

SS

Maranville

Field .Jones

OP

F. Clarke

 

T. Speaker

OP

Max Carey

Sam Crawford

OF

J. Sheckard

 

H. Hooper

OF

D. Paskert

Elmer Flick

OF

Roy Thomas

 

Milan-Lewis

OF

Zack Wheat

B. Sullivan

C

John Kling

 

Ray Schalk

C

Jim Archer

Nick Altrock

P

C.Mathewson

 

W. Johnson

P

Slim  Sallee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AL        1920

1929          NL

 

AL        1930

1939          NL

Geo. Sisler

1B

Chas. Grimm

 

Joe Kuhel

1B

Bill Terry

E. Collins

2B

Fr. Frisch

 

C. Gehringer

2B

Bill Herman

Willie Kamm

3B

Pie Traynor

 

Os. Bluege

3B

Stan Hack

Ev. Scott

SS

D. Bancroft

 

L. Appling

SS

L. Durocher

John Mostil

OP

Edd Roush

 

Rog. Cramer

OP

Lloyd Waner

Sam Rice

OF

Ross Youngs

 

Al Simmons

OF

Mel Ott

T. Speaker

OF

T. Douthit

 

Sam West

OF

H. Cuyler

C. Cochrane

C

G. Hartnett

 

Bill Dickey

C

G. Hartnett

H. Pennock

P

Fitzsimmons

 

Ted Lyons

P

B. Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AL        1940

1949          NL

 

AL        1950

1959          NL

Geo. McQuinn

1B

F. McCormick

 

M. Vernon

1B

Gil Hodges

Joe Gordon

2B

Ed Stanky

 

Nellie Fox

2B

Schoendienst

Ken Keltner

3B

Stan Hack

 

Geo. Kell

3B

Willie Jones

Lou Boudreau

SS

M. Marion

 

P. Rizzuto

SS

Roy McMillan

Joe DiMaggio

OP

E. Slaughter

 

J. Piersall

OP

R. Ashburn

Dom DiMaggio

OF

Terry Moore

 

Al Kaline

OF

Willie Mays

Sam Chapman

OF

V. DiMaggio

 

M. Minoso

OF

Carl Furillo

Warren Rosar

C

Al Lopez

 

Jim Hegan

C

D. Crandall

H. Newhouser

P

H. Brecheen

 

Bob Shantz

P

H. Haddix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AL        1960

1969          NL

 

WHO WILL BE THE

 

 

Vic Power

1B

Bill White

 

FIELDING STARS

 

 

R. Richardson

2B

B. Mazeroski

 

OF 1970-1979?

 

 

B. Robinson

3B

Ron Santo

 

BENCH? CEDENO?

 

 

L. Aparicio

SS

Maury Wills

 

 

 

 

Al Kaline

OP

R. Clemente

 

 

 

 

Yastrzemski

OF

Willie Mays

 

 

 

 

Jim Landis

OF

Curt Flood

 

 

 

 

B. Freehan

C

J. Edwards

 

 

 

 

Jim Kaat

P

Bob Gibson

 

 

 

 

 

VOTING FOR ALL-TIME FIELDING TEAM, 1900-72

 

1B

SISLER

11

 

Chase

6

 

Terry

3

 

 

 

2B

E. COLLINS

8

 

Gehringer

7

 

Mazeroski

4

 

Lajoie

2

3B

B.ROBINSON

10

 

Traynor

9

 

Kamm

2

 

 

 

SS

WAGNER

8

 

Marion

6

 

Aparicio

5

 

E. Scott

3

OF

SPEAKER

19

 

Carey

3

 

T. Moore

2

 

 

 

OF

MAYS

15

 

Ashburn

3

 

Kaline

2

 

 

 

OF

J. DiMAGGIO

12

 

Clemente

11

 

 

 

 

Crandall

2

C

COCHRANE

8

 

Schalk

4

 

Bench

3

 

Dickey

2

P

SHANTZ

7

 

Gibson

6

 

Brecheen

4

 

Hegan

2


  

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