Once again, in honor of the World Series, I released a new Sporcle quiz: the Best Active Players Without a World Series Title. I’ve released ones like this before, so I decided to update it for 2016. If you want to play it, just follow that link. I also have some writing on the subject below. There are some spoilers, so only click on the “read more” link when you aren’t as concerned with those. Also, pretty much all of this post was written before the end of the series so that it would be ready to go ASAP, so please excuse any hypotheticals I may have forgotten to edit out.
There are several interesting things with the data, with little relation between them, so I’ll be jumping around a bit. The first thing worth noting is the relative paucity of Cubs and Indians and Indians players on the list, even given their strong rosters and long droughts. Even before we knew how the World Series would play out, both teams had one player apiece in the top seventy-one without a title (obviously now down to seventy since the postseason’s conclusion), fewer than even the Giants (who, you know, won two seasons ago). The Cubs had Jason Heyward, while the Indians had Marlon Byrd (who is still technically on the Indians’ restricted list following his positive PED test).
It’s really more a quirk of roster construction than anything. Several players on each roster qualified as among the most active career Wins Above Replacement, but most of them had won World Series elsewhere. Namely, in Boston; Mike Napoli, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Coco Crisp all won as parts of the various Red Sox champions of the past twelve years.
But the other big issue is that most of the leaders for each team are just too young to be appearing on any “active leaders” lists. Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, and others just haven’t accumulated the games played to wrack up value yet (give them until they’ve reached, say, Jason Heyward’s status at least). They’re all likely to appear there some day, so this series could have been seen as an attempt to wipe future names off this list, but that doesn’t do much for the 2016 edition.
Also, Jason Kipnis missing shocked me a little, but he has less playing time than I remembered. He basically only has five full seasons under his belt, but he should move into “top 100” position next year with an above-average season.
Just under half (34) of the top 71 players were on teams that made the playoffs. The teams most heavily represented on the list were the Orioles, with six. A lot of that came from players at the bottom of the list, including Michael Bourn, Yovani Gallardo, and Ubaldo Jimenez all 98th among active players or lower. They do also have the youngest player on the list, though, with Manny Machado placing 90th overall (EDIT: I goofed; when you add Anibal Sanchez's hitting WAR to his total, he actually falls below Bryce Harper, who is younger than Machado. The quiz has been updated). After them came the Dodgers, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
Speaking of the Rangers, at the top of the list was a pair of Rangers, Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran. I’m partial to both, and in a way, it would have been nice to see them win (I’ve even written about Beltran and the postseason several times before). If they wind up never winning, hopefully when they retire, Hall of Fame voters won’t hold a lack of titles against them. Also of note is that between them, Bartolo Colon, and Joe Nathan, there were four ‘90s players who were all still active 16 seasons later without a title but also had a chance to reverse that come October (none actually pulled it off, but still).
In the end, though, we still saw one name scratched of the list and a whole bunch of prospective future names removed from consideration, so a good year overall.
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