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Live Ball NeL CF Rankings

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  • Live Ball NeL CF Rankings

    Do I have it obviously wrong anywhere? I'm particularly interested in what you guys think about the ordering of the 6 guys after Charleston. The little bio blurbs are for my own benefit as I pulled these out of my overall rankings which include like 40+ center fielders from 1920-46 across all leagues. I wanted to remember why I had them in the order I did and I found these things important or noteworthy. Thought maybe you folks would like them too though.

    (B.o. is for batting order, the '-8' after names indicates they played CF among other positions and if there is a 'p' after the -8 it means CF was their primary position)

    Joe DiMaggio is number 1 overall followed by...

    Oscar Charleston L/L
    B.o. N/A
    Great in every tool in his prime. Dominated the leaderboards in every statistic throughout the 1920s. An aggressive personality and player in all facets of the game. Once a renowned defender he began transitioning to 1B in his late 20s due to weight gain. Became a manager at age 27 for most of the rest of his career. Helmed the legendary ‘30s Crawfords clubs. Was as serious, fiery and competitive as a manager as he was on the field.

    Bullet Joe Rogan-8 R/R
    B.o. N/A
    The best black pitcher between the primes of Williams and Paige. Noted for his no windup delivery; had multiple effective pitches including the eponymous fastball. Only thing was he had just average control but wasn’t wild. Went 8-2 in 3 NeL postseason series and batted .385 as well. Stood far from the plate to get his hands extended and drive the ball. Lacked only elite home run power but had carry on his liners that left him in his 30s. A good runner who legged out lots of triples, a reliable fielder, of course with a cannon arm. Fiery competitor and very smart ball player who was a decent player/manager.
    **Charleston’s position player skills were just too dominant for the pitching/hitting combo.

    Turkey Stearnes L/L
    B.o. N/A
    5 tool player, not a Mack Park product, never had a bad season in 18 full years. Team player with a quiet personality. Usually hit lead off with Detroit despite his power. Batted .417 in 96 postseason at bats.
    **Better all-around player than bucketfoot and more dominant than Torriente.

    Cristobal Torriente L/L
    B.o. N/A
    5 tool player with excellent plate discipline. Spent his N.N.L. career in spacious Westside Park. Best native offensive player in history of the CuWL. Won first 3 N.N.L. pennants with Chicago and hit .355 for Monarchs in a loss to his old club in 1926.
    **Too much better all-around than Syzmanski.

    Al Simmons falls between these two.

    Home Run Brown-8p L/L
    B.o. N/A
    ​Power/speed combo. Dominated the N.A.L. in the 1940s. Hit .337/.940 in five postseason series. Despite athleticism he was an indifferent and below average outfielder with a questionable arm. “Willard liked to play on Sundays when we had a full house. If the stands were full you couldn’t get him out. He could play baseball as good as he wanted to. If the stands were half empty, you might find Brown loafing that day. In fact, he didn’t play on rainy or cloudy days. That’s why we called him Sonny. He loved to play on sunny days and before big crowds. And he was a real crowd pleaser.” - Sam Haynes

    Cool Papa Bell S/L
    B.o. N/A
    Remarkably consistent in his 25 year career. Hit .325 with lots of walks and hit homers in St. Louis. “I’d stand back from the plate and chop down on the ball. That’s something I learned from the old players. By the time the ball comes down, they can’t throw me out. They’d bring in their infield, as if there was a man on third and no out; they couldn’t get me if they played back in their normal position. I’d just hit the ball to short, and if he has to move over for it, he can’t throw me out.” Fastest player of the interwar period. Won ‘35 series by stealing second and scoring the winning run on an infield bobble in 9th inning of game 7.

    Max Carey is 9th and Edd Roush 10th rounding out the top ten.

    Alejandro Oms L/L
    B.o. N/A
    Batted .300/.400/.500 in 7 full NeL seasons. Always hit near or over .400 playing in Cuba. Phenomenal in the field and on the base paths. Only tool he lacked was a strong throwing arm.

    Leon Day-8 R/R
    B.o. N/A
    A strikeout artist who holds the single game N.N.L. (18), Puerto Rican League (15, 19 in extras) and East-West ASG (14) record. Missed two years to WWII and threw a no-hitter first game back. Great fielding pitcher and adequate elsewhere; particularly the outfield with his blazing speed. Hitting ability is overrated (imo). Still more than serviceable if he was a position player. Didn’t play well in the postseason.
    **Versatility surpasses the Jet.

    Sam Jethroe S/R
    B.o. 2nd- 246 g, 1st- 177
    Only average was enhanced +.032 at Braves Field. One of the very best late in games and w RISP. Decent patience at the plate, struck out a lot, very good power for a lead off man of his time. A poor defender with a bad arm despite ranging with the blazing speed that made him the best base runner and stealer of the 1940s.
    **Less questionable LQ than Vargas.

    Tetelo Vargas-8p R/R
    B.o. N/A
    A contact hitter with a good eye. One of the fastest players of the interwar period. First great Dominican player. Spent most of his time in Venezuela from 1932-WWII as a SS for Concordia. Mostly a CF after that and more often played OF in stronger leagues. Proved himself in the U.S. Negro Leagues even in his late 30s. Continued to rake in Puerto Rico through age 44 and played until he was 49.

    Irvin Chester Brooks R/R
    B.o. N/A
    A contender for the title of best black right handed hitter during the first quarter of the 20th c. Respected particularly for his consistency as a hitter for average and power in Brooklyn for two decades. Played some second base, especially in his 20s during the deadball era. A serviceable, reliable outfielder.

    Lazaro Salazar-8 L/L
    B.o. N/A
    A contact hitter with decent power, had a good eye and could run. Played almost as much CF as 1B. A good pitcher when young who morphed into an up and down workhorse as he aged. Much more known for his offense. Player/managed 6 pennant winners in a 7 year period. Banned from the U.S. Negro Leagues at age 24 for recruiting players to the D.R.

    Neil Robinson R/R
    B.o. N/A
    Power/speed combo, didn’t hit for high averages and had good patience. Mainly known for his home runs. One of the greatest players in the history of the NeL ASG in 8 appearances for the N.A.L. typically batting cleanup. Went 4-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 runs, BB in shortened two game ‘38 N.A.L. playoff. Known as a good fielder when young and stayed in center his whole career. Drinking issues stunted his career throughout.

    Chaney White-8p R/L
    B.o. N/A
    Batted leadoff from ‘23-25 before moving to third partly due to leg injuries. Led Bacharach to back to back E.C.L. pennants. Had some of his best years playing in the Baker Bowl-esque Bacharach Park. Recovered from knee issues and didn’t have blazing speed but could run and would spike guys. Possessed a weak arm but had good range and was reliable in center field. Played with small clubs in Texas until he was 25.

    Clint Thomas-8p R/R
    B.o. N/A
    Good XBH power, more of a line drive and leg out triples hitter but had HR pop. Average could fluctuate a bit but had good plate discipline. A mediocre fielder with good speed and was very good base runner. Spent the ‘20s with Hilldale in the E.C.L. and the ‘30s independent with the Black Yankees.
    **Career length tops these next few.

    Henry Kimbro L/R
    B.o. N/A
    Line drive hitter to all fields. Slotted in the lead off spot most of his career but hit third sometimes. Had great plate discipline almost never swinging at the first pitch. Won N.A.L. percentage triple crown in ‘48 with increasing power as LQ was weakening. Best defensive CF in the N.N.L during his prime. Posted a .340 average in 3 postseason series.
    **Bigger peak

    Charlie Blackwell-8 L/L
    B.o. N/A
    Contact hitter with good plate discipline who got to hit in Stars Park but as a lefty. Excellent base stealer and had a good arm. Could play center but was more suited for the outfield corners.
    **Too short a career to be higher.

    Bernardo Baro-8p L/L
    B.o. N/A
    High average line drive hitter with some pop. Speed demon on the bags. Good defender with a better arm. 5th all-time in his native CuWL career batting average. Suffered a serious ankle injury at age 28 that robbed him of his speed and limited his effectiveness.

    Valentin Dreke-8 L/R
    B.o. N/A
    Free swinging high average hitter who didn’t have home run power. Had good foot speed that landed him in center for four years. Died of tuberculosis after his age 29 season.
    **Consistency issues

    Jelly Gardner-8 L/R
    B.o. N/A
    Good plate discipline but with disparate averages year to year. A slap hitter, top drag bunter and hit and run man at the dish and on the bases. Batted leadoff for small ball centric Chicago in their huge park. Known to create runs with his legs. Very fast and had a good arm. A scrappy temperamental player.

    Gene Benson L/L
    B.o. N/A
    Small ball style player with good plate discipline for 12 years on the Philadelphia Stars. Batted leadoff and second mostly.

    Pete Washington R/R
    B.o. N/A
    Not a high average hitter but had good plate discipline and some home run pop as well as being leading the E.C.L. in sac bunts in 1928.

    Crush Holloway S/R
    B.o. N/A
    Batting average and walks fluctuated from year to year. Great drag bunter and base runner. Batted .333 in 1930 N.N.L. championship series.
    **Good longevity
    Last edited by bluesky5; 12-06-2022, 08:20 PM.
    "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

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