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Metsclusive: The Best Single Franchise Players for Each Team

Posted by Raphy
Jose Reyes's  departure for South Florida makes him the latest Mets star to get away. In fact, very few players of any value have called Flushing home for their entire careers. Thirty-Seven retired position players have played exclusively for the Mets and although Ed Kranepool played the most games, catcher Ron Hodges is credited by Baseball-Reference.com as having the most value, despite a measly 5.8 career WAR.

Of course, a currently active player may one day take the lead in this category and prove himself a true Metsclusive star. David Wright already has a career WAR of 32.5 and is as likely a player as any to retire a Met. Then again, a few years ago I could have said something similar Reyes.

Is the Mets situation unusual? Is the nature of the sport, that few teams can hold onto a star for there entire career or is it a curse of the Mets?  Perhaps, it is only because the Mets starting playing in 1962. Lets take a look.

Here are the leaders in WAR for each franchise among players who only played for that team. To make this easier to see, I have included 3 categories. The first is the club's all-time leader among retired players.  The second category only includes players that started their careers in 1962 or later. This list will allow us to compare the other teams to the Mets who only started playing in 1962.  The final category includes the active leaders. As an afterthought, I included each franchises first year of existence for reference purposes.

Clicking on the team name will provide a complete list of non-pitching WAR leaders among players who just played for that team, including not pitching WAR for pitchers. Pitchers who earned WAR for hitting and fielding are also included for those values, but not for their pitching value. For a list of the all-time single-franchise position players see here.

Tm All-Time Retired

Post-1961 Career - Retired

Active in 2011
1998 ARI Alex Cabrera (0.5)

Alex Cabrera (0.5)

Justin Upton (11.9)
1876 ATL Joe Connolly (9.9)

Bruce Benedict (7.1)

Chipper Jones (82.9)
1901 BAL Cal Ripken (89.9)

Cal Ripken (89.9)

Brian Roberts (21.8)
1901 BOS Ted Williams (125.3)

Jim Rice (41.5)

Kevin Youkilis (30.2)
1876 CHC Ernie Banks (64.4)

Eddie Zambrano (0.5)**

Geovany Soto (10.0)
1901 CHW Luke Appling (69.3)

Ron Karkovice (13.8)

Alexei Ramirez (10.7)
1882 CIN Johnny Bench (71.3)

Johnny Bench (71.3)

Joey Votto (19.7)
1901 CLE Al Rosen (33.0)

Roy Foster (1.5)

Grady Sizemore (28.4)
1993 COL Roger Bailey (0.5)

Roger Bailey (0.5)

Todd Helton (60.2)
1901 DET Al Kaline (91.0)

Lou Whitaker (69.7)

Brandon Inge (18.0)
1993 FLA Amaury Garcia (0.3)

Amaury Garcia (0.3)

Mike Stanton (8.4)
1962 HOU Jeff Bagwell (79.9)

Jeff Bagwell (79.9)

Brian Bogusevic (1.1)
1969 KCR George Brett (85.0)

George Brett (85.0)

Alex Gordon (9.7)
1961 LAA Tim Salmon (37.6)

Tim Salmon (37.6)

Howie Kendrick (13.8)
1884 LAD Pee Wee Reese (67.1)

Bill Russell (24.9)

Matt Kemp (21.8)
1969 MIL Robin Yount (76.9)

Robin Yount (76.9)

Ryan Braun (22.1)
1901 MIN Kirby Puckett (44.8)

Kirby Puckett (44.8)

Joe Mauer (40.7)
1962 NYM Ron Hodges (5.8)

Ron Hodges (5.8)

David Wright (32.5)
1901 NYY Mickey Mantle (120.2)

Bernie Williams (47.3)

Derek Jeter (70.8)
1901 OAK Dick Green (13.5)

Dick Green (13.5)

Kurt Suzuki (10.0)
1883 PHI Mike Schmidt (108.3)

Mike Schmidt (108.3)

Chase Utley (42.7)
1882 PIT Roberto Clemente (83.8)

Willie Stargell (57.5)

Andrew McCutchen (12.6)
1969 SDP Tony Gwynn (68.4)

Tony Gwynn (68.4)

Chase Headley (6.3)
1977 SEA Edgar Martinez (67.2)

Edgar Martinez (67.2)

Ichiro Suzuki (54.6)
1883 SFG Mel Ott (109.3)

Robby Thompson (31.0)

Pablo Sandoval (12.3)
1882 STL Stan Musial (127.8)

Tom Pagnozzi (6.5)

Albert Pujols (89.1)*
1998 TBR Jared Sandberg (2.0)

Jared Sandberg (2.0)

Evan Longoria (24.3)
1961 TEX Rusty Greer (19.8)

Rusty Greer (19.8)

Michael Young (27.3)
1977 TOR Garth Iorg (1.8)

Garth Iorg (1.8)

Adam Lind (4.9)
1969 WSN Bob Henley (1.2)

Bob Henley (1.2)

Ryan Zimmerman  (19.8)
* When Pujols plays his first game for the Angels Yadier Molina (14.2) will be the Cardinal's active leader.
** If he doesn't play in the majors again, Mark Prior (0.6) will be the Cubs post-1961 leader.
  • While the Met's Ron Hodges WAR 5.8 is pretty low, two clubs in existence at the time of the Met's birth have not had a retired position player who started his career in '62 or later, played solely for them and do better. If fact those teams aren't even close. The Cubs haven't had a player with more than .5 WAR and the Indians with more than 1.5.
  • The Atlanta Braves franchise began as the 1876 Boston Redstockings, an original NL franchise. The team has undergone 2 moves and 6 name changes, yet in the 135 years that the franchise has existed no position player has ammassed 10 career WAR and played solely for that franchise. Chipper Jones will likely end that  streak, but it is remarkable none-the-less.
  • The Blue Jays certainly don't have a star of their own. Even if you include active players, no position player that only played for the Blue Jays has accrued more than 4.9 WAR.
  • The Montreal/Washington franchise has also been quite inept in this category. Since their birth in 1969, the team does no have a retired position player with a WAR above 1.2.
Pitching-wise the Mets are not much better than they are offensively. Forty-six retired players pitched exclusively for the Mets with Bob Apodaca leading the sorry pack with a 5.1 WAR. How does that compare to the rest of baseball?  That's a discussion for a different day.

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