After reviewing the leaders In home runs and RBIs at each position, the time has come to focus on who is the boss in WAR (Baseball-Reference version) at each diamond location in the history of the Big leagues.
For the purposes of this article, a player must have played at least two-thirds of his games in a position to be eligible for the lead. Any player who has played at least two-thirds of his games in the outfield (beyond specific position) qualifies in the outfield position in which he played the most games.
Active Leader: Johnny Bench, 75.2
A two-time winner of the National League Most Valuable Player award, a 14-time All-Star and a 10-time Golden Glove winner, Bench offered everything behind the plate, combining a stellar defense with a powerful bat. The Reds legend posted at least 4.0 WAR in 12 seasons, including a career high of 8.6 in 1972, the second season in which he won MVP. His closest pursuer in WAR is another Hall of Famer Gary Carter, at 70.1
Active leader: Yadier Molina, 42.1
First base: Lou Gehrig, 114.1
Gehrig has a notable advantage over Albert Pujols (100.8 WAR) in the lead in that metric. He averaged 8.8 WAR per season between 1926 and 1937. Gehrig had 11.8 WAR in 1927 – the first of two seasons he was MVP – hitting .373 / .474 / .765 with 47 homers, 52 doubles, 18 triples and 173 Rushed races.
Active leader: Albert Pujols.
Second base: Rogers Hornsby, 127.1
Hornsby led the NL in batting average, on-base average and slugging for six years in a row between 1920 and 1925, hitting .397 / .467 / .666 total and amassing 59.6 WAR in that stretch. Hornsby also had 9.9 WAR in 1917, 10.2 in 1927 and 10.4 in 1929.
Active Leader: Robinson Canó, 69.6
Third base: Mike Schmidt, 106.9
Schmidt is best known for his power at bat, but he was also an excellent defender in the hot corner, winning 10 Gold Gloves throughout his career. In total, Schmidt dropped 5.0 or more WAR in 14 years in a row between 1974 and 1987. The Phillies legend won three MVP awards, but his best WAR (9.7) left him in 1974, the year he finished sixth in the vote. . Eddie Mathews (96.2) is second on the all-time list.
Active leader: Evan Longoria, 57.4.
Shortstop: Honus Wagner, 130.8
An eight-time batting champion, Wagner is 10th all-time in WAR and ranks first among shortstops by far behind Cal Ripken Jr. (95.9). Wagner led the NL in WAR 11 times in 13 years between 1900 and 1912, with a career high of 11.5 in 2008. In 1914, the 40-year-old Wagner had the 3,000th hit of his career, becoming only the second player. to enter that club in baseball history after Cap Anson.
Active Leader: Andrelton Simmons, 37.3.
Left fielder: Barry Bonds, 162.8
In addition to owning all-time home runs (762) and walks (2,558), Bonds is the king of the Big Top in WAR among position players. Ted Williams (121.9) is his closest pursued among left-field defenders. Bonds had at least 12 seasons with at least 8.0 WAR, and his 43.4 WAR between 2001 and 2004 was 10.3 WAR above any other player in that span.
Active Leader: Brett Gardner, 44.3.
Left fielder: Willie Mays, 156.2
A superstar in every facet of the game, Mays produced 10 or more WAR in six seasons, tied with Hornsby for the second-most of those seasons among position players. The center-squad top in a season was 11.2 WAR at age 34 in 1965, the season in which he won his second MVP award after hitting .317 / .398 / .645 with 52 home runs. Ty Cobb (151.0) is second on the all-time list.
Active Leader: Mike Trout, 76.1.
Right fielder: Babe Ruth, 182.5
Ruth is second to Bonds in the lifetime WAR lead among position players by less than one win (162.8 to 162.1), but that doesn’t take into account Ruth’s contribution as a pitcher. Ruth also posted 24.0 WAR from the mound for a career-best 182.5 total. Ruth reached 10 WAR nine times as a position player and had more than 12 WAR in 1921 (12.8), 1923 (14.1) and 1927 (12.5). The only other right fielder with more than 100 WAR is Mel Ott (110.7).
Active Leader: Mookie Betts, 50.0.
Designated hitter: Edgar Martinez, 68.4
David Ortiz is a career leader among BDs in home runs, hits and RBIs, but Puerto Rican Martinez surpasses him in WAR, 68.4 to 55.3. Martinez retired with a line of .312 / .418 / .515. His best WAR (7.0) came in 1995, when he hit .356 / .479 / .628 with 29 homers, 52 doubles and 113 RBIs.
Active Leader: Shohei Ohtani, 10.2.
Pitcher: Walter Johnson, 164.5
Based on pitch alone, Cy Young is the all-time leader with 167.5 WAR among pitchers, while Johnson is second at 151.9. But Johnson also added a lot with his bat, leaving 12.7 WAR as a slugger. Young, for his part, had negative WAR at bat, so his lifetime WAR is lower than Johnson, who has the best WAR in a season in the modern era, at 16.5 in 1913 (1.14 ERA in 346 innings ).
Active leader: Zack Greinke, 73.1.
Thomas Harrigan / MLB.com
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MLB: History leaders in WAR position by position and those who are active