Places of Origin

Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 02:30 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

Do I have a time-waster, for a day with no baseball? Is the bear Catholic? Does a Pope (that's enough of that...)

The other day, Leaside Cowboy made a passing reference to Ted Williams that noted that he was born in San Diego. And because I'm funny that way (and many others ways as well) I immediately thought "I'll bet Ted was the best player ever born in San Diego." And then I wondered - who was the best player born in the other 26 major league cities? How would we know?

This, I submit, is exactly the stupid kind of exercise WAR was made for!

We're going to be purists about this. We're going with Place of Birth. I don't care where they grew up. It's not what's listed on their bb-ref pages. And for Los Angeles, only Los Angeles is acceptable. No Hollywood, no Glendale, no Pasadena. Likewise with New York - only New York will do. No Brooklyn, no Bronx (even if that's where the Yankees actually play) and no Queens.

For Colorado, we use Denver. For Arizona, we use Phoenix. For Minnesota, we have Minneapolis and St. Paul; for Texas, it's Dallas and Fort Worth. We shall rank the cities in order of their representative.

Baltimore - Babe Ruth (183.07)
San Diego - Ted Williams (122.01)
New York - Alex Rodriguez (117.55)
Chicago - Rickey Henderson (111.12)
Miami - Steve Carlton (90.18)

Boston - Jeff Bagwell (79.92)
Cincinnati - Pete Rose (79.61) If Rose is permanantly ineligible, Barry Larkin (70.49) takes his place and Cincinnati slides down a little.
Pittsburgh - Bobby Wallace (76.31)
Minnesota - Paul Moltor (75.63)
Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth) - Clayton Kershaw (74.42)

San Francisco - Harry Heilmann (72.5)
Seattle - Ron Santo (70.49)
Cleveland - Ed Delahanty (69.63)
Los Angeles - Tony Gwynn (69.15)
St.Louis - Max Scherzer (69.04)

Detroit - John Smoltz (68.96)
Milwaukee - Al Simmons (68.16)
Toronto - Joey Votto (64.41)
Colorado (Denver) - Roy Halladay (64.24)
Kansas City - David Cone (62.28)

Oakland - Dennis Eckersley (62.07)
Tampa Bay - Gary Sheffield (60.53)
Atlanta - Bill Terry (56.46)
Philadelphia - Bucky Walters (53.48)
Washington - Doc White (48.63)

Houston - Chuck Knoblauch (44.81)
Arizona (Phoenix) - Solly Hemus (25.86)

The Yankees play in the Bronx, who give us Frank Frisch, which beats hell out of what Queens (home of the Mets) has to offer, the not-so-immortal Chris Stynes. Brooklyn's Lou Whitaker was better than both of them. I certainly would have expected Phoenix to give a better account of itself. They've probably produced better hockey players.

You may have noticed that just 4 of the 31 players who have accumulated at least 100 WAR have been caught up in this weird exercise. Where did the other guys come from? Of course, I had to find out.

Cy Young (163.6) - He came from Gilmore OH, which is an unincorporated township about 170 km south of Cleveland. It's mostly an intersection these days, with what looks like few farm houses on the satellite map. There must be a population of a couple dozen souls, I would think.

Walter Johnson (164.9) - From  Humboldt KS, a little town about 180 km south of Kansas City, population of 1847. Saw lots of activity during the Civil War.

Barry Bonds (162.8) - He and his father are from Riverside CA, which is about 80 km southeast of Los Angeles. It's a good-sized city, population about 315,000, part of the Inland Empire area of California (essentially San Bernardino and Riverside)

Willie Mays (156.1) - A little town on the southwest outskirts of Birmingham, population 2,000.

Ty Cobb (151.5) - From Narrows GA, which is more like a bend in the road near the Alabama border than a town. Current population of about 500, it's about 140 km northwest of Atlanta.

Henry Aaron (143.0) - The Hammer came from a big city, Mobile AL right on the Gulf Coast, some 230 km east of New Orleans. Population these days is about 430,000

Roger Clemens (139.2) - He came from Dayton OH, about 85 km north of Cincinnati. It's another substantial place. The city population is 137,000, but the entire Dayton urban area has some 815,000 people.

Tris Speaker (134.7) - The Grey Eagle was from a tiny place called Hubbard TX, about 115 km south of Dallas. Population 1,558

Honus Wagner (130.8) - Yet another small town kid, in this case from Chartiers Township, PA which is only about 45 km southwest of Pittsburgh. Population 8,000

Stan Musial (128.6) - The Man, and the Griffeys (father and son) are from Donora, PA which is even closer to Pittsburgh than Wagner's Chartiers Township. Current population 4,580

Rogers Hornsby (127.3) - Another small town kid. Winters TX is about 320 km northwest of Austin and the population is 2,560.

Eddie Collins (124.4) - He was from Millerton NY, a tiny little place (population 899) about 100 km south of Albany. That's almost dead centre between Albany and New York City. Collins went to college in the big city, at Columbia.

Pete Alexander (119.3) - Old Pete came from one of the smallest places possible. Elba NE, which is about about 250 km west of Omaha, has a population of 268. It's a half dozen streets off State Highway 11.

Kid Nichols (116.3) - The best player produced by the state of Wisconsin, he was from Madison WI, some 130 km west of Milwaukee, population around 260,000.

Lou Gehrig (113.9) - He was from New York City, of course, and just like A-Rod, he was also born in Manhattan.

Mel Ott (110.8) - Ott was from Gretna LA, which barely exists as its own city anymnore - it's right across the river from New Orleans and has basically been swallowed up by it. Population listed as 18,000

Mickey Mantle (110.2) - Spavinaw OK is another tiny little place, basically half a dozen streets at the west end of Spavinaw Lake, about 112 km east of Tulsa. Population is declining, most recently listed as 426.

Tom Seaver (109.9) - Fresno CA is in the San Joaquin Valley, about 300 km southeast of San Francisco). Population 540,000

Frank Robinson (107.2) - He came from Beaumont TX, about 140 km east of Houston. Population 117,000

Nap Lajoie (106.9) - I think it's pretty cool that little Rhode Island gave birth to an all-time great. Woonsocket is 82 km southwest of Boston, and the home of some 41,000 people.

Lefty Grove (106.8) - Lonaconing, MD is up near the Pennsylvania border, and Grove's little town (1200 people) is closer to Pittsburgh(about 170 km southeast) than it is to Baltimore or Washington.

Mike Schmidt (106.8) - Schmidt, like Roger Clemens, is from Dayton OH. Only two cities have produced a pair of 100 WAR players: New York and Dayton. Go figure.

Greg Maddux (106.6) - Like Hornsby's Winters TX, San Angelo TX is about 330 km northwest of Austin. It's about 70 km from Winters, and is a much more substantial place with a population of 100,000.

Christy Mathewson (106.6) - The Christian Gentleman was from the tiny town (population 1377) of Factoryville PA, about 225 km due north of Philadelphia.

Randy Johnson (101.1) - The Big Unit is from Walnut Creek CA, which is 25 km east of Oakland. So much of California is just one endless city, and who can tell where one ends and another begins. The population of this one is 69,000

Joe Morgan (100.4) - Little Joe was from a little place called Bonham TX, some 115 km northeast of Dallas. Population of 10,295.

Warren Spahn (100.1) - Oh, I think we're all familiar with Buffalo NY.

There are, as yet, no foreign born players. If Albert Pujols had retired after 2016 he'd have made the cut. Since then, he has had "negative value," which is not even a concept I can believe in, but his career WAR has slipped to 99.1.