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Live Ball NeL 2B/SS/3B Composite Rankings

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  • Live Ball NeL 2B/SS/3B Composite Rankings


    A position number after the name means that the player has been ranked at multiple positions. The number is the position he is listed at here. A "p" after the number indicates the position is his primary position. For instance Chino Smith and Sam Bankhead are primarily outfielders but also played 2B and SS respectively. So they made the list with a "-4" and a "-6" after their names. Players in GREEN played primarily in Latin America.

    1. Willie Wells R/R
    The home run power largely left him when he exited the friendly confines of Stars Park but his totals of 29- a N.N.L. record, 26, 26 and 22 were unprecedented for a shortstop while swiping 31 and 30 bags during the 26 HR seasons. Won the 1930 triple crown. Went to 3 N.N.L. series there; winning the two he played well in with 1.100+ OPSs. Continued to hit lots of doubles and triples after St. Louis. Saw a big slump at 28-29 but rebounded to vie for the league leaderboards through his late 30s. Still renowned for his defense at that age.
    **Demonstrated more all-around skills (excluding Dihigo) and dominance than the rest.

    2. Martin Dihigo-6p R/R
    5 tool power/speed combo player. Regularly among his league’s home run leaders. Played every defensive position besides catcher and played them well. An accomplished pitcher who proved himself on the mound and as a position player in the American Negro Leagues as well as various Latin American leagues. A member of the American, Cuban, Venezuelan, Dominican and Mexican League halls of fame.

    3. Monte Irvin-6 R/R
    Slugged and hit better v righties. Opposite of a Polo Grounds creation. Considered by some the NeL player of the 1940s. Solid 3B/SS but never entrenched at either and a good centerfielder, particularly adept at corner OF. Said the war really hurt his timing and training as well as taking his prime. Won batting title then hit .462 in the legendary 1946 NeL WS victory. MVP-3 in 1951 with 11 knocks in the series tied the record.

    4. Bus Clarkson R/R
    A patient hitter with good averages. Consistently among the top 3 HR hitters in the N.N.L. and MexLg prior to WWII. Hit .323/.416/.492 in 3 years w AAA Milwaukee. Best player on the Jr. WS champions in ‘51 considered one of the best MiLB teams ever. Played shortstop his whole career pushing Irvin to CF in Newark.
    **Hard to choose him over Irvin since he was in AAA when Irvin was leading the Giants to a pennant.

    5. Newt Allen-4p R/R
    Heart and leader of the Monarchs for over twenty years playing on 11 championship teams. A small, fast guy who played team baseball with a chip on his shoulder. Prototypical 2 hole hitter in style and skill set. Top level quick and athletic defender who could and did play shortstop for years regularly and third base well.

    6. Dick Lundy S/R
    A well-rounded middle of the order hitter, known for excellent and fundamental defense, speed on the bases. Managed Newark 6 years and the Bacharach Giants to two straight E.C.L. pennants at age 27 and 28 running a tight ship.

    7. Silvio Garcia R/R
    Power/speed combo player who frequently topped batting and slugging leaderboards as well as home runs and steals. Widely considered the top Latin American player of the 1940s. Typically played in the MexLg with winters in the CuWL. Hit .300 all three full seasons in the NeL. Led the New York Cubans to a WS title at age 33. Good defender who became a shortstop full-time at age 25.

    8. Tubby Scales-5p R/R
    Hit for high averages with good pop as a young utility infielder. His early years in St. Louis bandboxes provided a good amount of homers. Known mostly for his bat but more than adequate with the glove at all infield positions. Heady, tough player who became a manager at age 32. Continued to hit as a 3B/UT through his early 40s.
    **Better all-around player than Mr. Team (Bob Elliot)

    9. Chino Smith-4 L/R
    A line drive hitter to all fields, good eye, rarely struck out. Played mostly for Brooklyn Royal Giant clubs at 2B when they were well past their glory days. Top hitter on stacked Lincoln Giants clubs for two years before his premature death at just 29.

    10. Dobie Moore R/R
    5-tool player whose career ended early due to being shot. Star player and cleanup cleanup man for the first great Monarchs clubs. Batted .300 and .364 in 2 NeL WS. Hit for a .358 average in the CaWL. Had 4-5 impressive hitting streaks.

    **JOE SEWELL is ranked directly between these two. I'm using him as a benchmark since he is the last MLB player on this list in the HoF who is not considered a mistake.

    11. John Beckwith-5p R/R
    Known for being a dead pull hitter with prodigious power. Played 3 full years at SS and not much after a half yr at age 27. A heavier guy, which explains the previous two sentences. Mostly played 3B and had been a change catcher from his earliest days.

    12. Ray Dandridge R/R
    A free swinging contact hitter who never hit many home runs. Consistently in the top 3 in the NeL and MexLg in hits and average. Spent most of his career in the Mexican League after age 26. Spent his last years raking in AAA Minneapolis where he won league MVP at age 37 and led in Fld% at 39. A team player renowned for his excellent glove. In the running for top defensive 3B of the 1940s with Ken Keltner.
    **Career length gets him the nod over Stan Hack.

    13. Perucho Cepeda-6p R/R
    Greatest Puerto Rican player prior to WWII. Never played in the states. Ranked with the best of the best with Negro Leaguers in Caribbean competition. Routinely hit for high averages as a deadball style power hitter. Did show some home run pop too. Gained a reputation as a hardass winner for aggressive base running and a more aggressive temper “I love to fight. I have to fight.” Moved to first base in his early 30s with some time in the outfield. Average defensive shortstop (imo).

    14. Bonnie Serrell L/R
    Consistently led N.A.L. and MexLg in doubles and triples. Tough to strike out. Fast runner was also often among the leaders in steals. Had many clutch hits down the stretch and batted .412 in Monarchs ‘42 series win. Excellent defensive player. “Jackie couldn’t touch that boy. He could do everything. It just killed him when they picked Jackie and not him. He left, went to Mexico and never came back.” - Hilton Smith
    **Not a long enough career in the states to rate higher.

    15. Rev Cannady-4p R/R
    Middle of the order hitter in his 20s. An above average batter with patience and not a ton of power. Didn’t play a lot of shortstop past 30. A solid defender who was best at second base. Could run a bit. Had a reputation for inconsistent play but stayed productive and didn’t phase out playing regularly as a player/manager until age 37.
    **League quality over Vargas.

    16. Tetelo Vargas-6 R/R
    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.

    17. Judy Johnson R/R
    Hit for high averages without a lot of walks. Led all batters with .341 BA in the first NeL WS. Batting fell off in his early 30s but glove kept him a regular until he was 36. Captain of the legendary 1933-36 Crawfords. Respected for his quiet leadership and baseball IQ. Top defender with a quick release and instincts. Not fleet afoot.

    18. Dave Malarcher S/R
    Inconsistent year to year with the bat but could hit .300, very good plate discipline kept him on base to use his skills as a base stealer/runner. Typically hit second playing at the cavernous South Side Park. No triple or homer power. Suffered an injury setback at age 22 but resurrected his career. A respected manager of the Chicago American Giants winning 3 pennants in two stints.
    **Too integral to his club's success to be lower than the following men.

    19. Bingo DeMoss R/R
    Purely a contact hitter, consummate inside ball player, team leader, player/manager. Best defensive second baseman in the history of the Negro Leagues. Also widely considered the best bunter, good eye, retained his foot speed through his mid-30s.
    **See Critz, Hughie (the whole is greater than the sum of his parts)

    20. Sam Bankhead-6 R/R
    Made 9 N.N.L. ASG at five different positions. Known for his defensive versatility but mainly as a strong armed corner outfielder. Hitting fell off when he hit 30 but still got on base and ran very well. One of the greatest clutch hitters of the time. Scored game winning run of ‘35 WS after a single and steal in the 7th inning of game 7. Won ‘37 MexLg title with 2-run HR off Chet Brewer; also in the 7th. Drove in the series winning runs in the 8th inning of game 8 in 1943 WS.
    **Too versatile for too long to rate lower. Not as integral to his clubs as Rev.

    21. Frank Warfield R/R
    A hit ‘em where they ain’t type batter with a good eye. Batted leadoff his first 3 years in Detroit then led the E.C.L. in sac hits 5x in a row for Hilldale batting 2nd. Frequently slid spikes high as one of the top base runners and stealers in the mid-20s. Led Hilldale to 2 consecutive E.C.L. pennants and the ‘Million Dollar Infield’ teams of Baltimore to one. Known to have a severe temper- and among men with bad tempers too. Had all but retired to the bench when he died at age 33.
    **More integral to his clubs than the next couple guys.

    22. Piper Davis-4p R/R
    Didn’t have much power, very consistent hitter, not a speed demon. Excellent bat control known for hit and run ability. A versatile defender with quick hands and was a master of the pivot particularly at 2B; was more than adept fielding first base. Helped lead Black Barons to 3 WS with one win. Willie Mays’s primary mentor in the Negro Leagues.

    23. Pythias Russ-6p R/R
    Batted .229 in ‘27 WS loss but hit over .400 in the two N.N.L. playoff series then and the next year. Came up as a catcher and stayed a backup even when he was a shortstop. Died of tuberculosis at just 25 as he was beginning to peak. Had just finished second in the N.N.L. in average catching 25% of his team's games and playing the rest at shortstop.

    24. Alex Radcliffe R/R
    Middle of the order hitter for the small ball centric Chicago American Giants in their large park. Consistently among his league’s leaders in doubles and sometimes triples and homers. Popular player known to showboat. It was said he played his best in the clutch and in front of big crowds but was also prone to loafing. Holds NeL record for hits and at bats in the ASG as well as games played. No great shakes with the glove.
    **Bat is better than most but not dominant. Coupled with poor defense and inconsistent play keeps him this low. Wouldn’t call him a winning ball player either.

    25. Oliver Marcelle R/R
    Usually batting second he hit for good averages with a good eye, doubles power and did it year in and year out. Hit third for E.C.L. pennant winning Bacharach in 1927. Inside ball player at the bat and in the field. Top flight on the bases. Immediately noted for his range and overall defensive prowess with a quick strong armed release. Involved in many fights and confrontational behavior on and off the field. One such incident with Frank Warfield ended his career at age 34. Voted the top NeL 3B of all-time in 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll.

    26. Howard Easterly S/R
    Line drive hitter with a lot of triples in Griffith Stadium. Began as a shortstop at age 25 with Cincinnati Tigers and got the most AS votes of any SS. Mainly played third and second base plus some OF for Homestead hitting .319 in two world series appearances. Usually hit second for them. Could swipe a bag.

    27. Sammy T. Hughes R/R
    Well rounded offensive player. Not much home run power but good for lots of doubles and triples. Batted .384 in seven CaWL seasons. Not noteworthy defensively. Was finished before WWII by age 31. Very tall for 2B of the time at 6’3”.

    28. Dewey Creacy R/R
    Good hitter with discipline and little home run power outside Stars Park. Usually batted leadoff. A mainstay for contending St. Louis and Philadelphia clubs in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Not a good defender.
    **Providing good top of the order offense yearly for 13 seasons on pennant contenders gets him the nod over the following.

    29. Parnell Woods R/R
    Barons weren’t in the organized Negro Leagues his first 4 seasons. A good power hitter that played in cavernous Rickwood Field. Didn’t have a great arm but was a reliable fielder and good base runner.

    30. Newt Joseph R/R
    Peaked during the Monarchs ‘23-26 run in the N.N.L. Hit HR to clinch the ‘23 pennant. Was their regular 3B from the time they joined the N.N.L. through the early 30s barnstorming years. Lost power stroke in his early 30s and began to hit 6th-7th but was still an above average hitter. Always poor on the defensive side, retained speed into his 30s, noted sign stealer.

    31. Chester Williams R/R
    Good bunter, didn’t run much, up and down with the bat year to year but could be quite productive. Led the league in triples, hits and sacs once each. Best defensive shortstop of the 1930s Negro Leagues.

    32. Pelayo Chacon R/R
    Long career as a tremendous glove man who showed himself in the first N.N.L. in his late 30s. Small ball hitter with no pop. Top ten in career steals in the CuWL.
    **Career length, an extra 4-5 years, gets him the nod atop the next.

    33. Marvin Williams R/R
    High average line drive hitter who led the N.N.L. in doubles and RBI his only full season. Spent most of his long career in Mexico and his native Texas. Most known for being at the Red Sox tryout with Robinson and Jet. An invite he earned for his well rounded play, fundamental defense, professional attitude and contact ability. Became third black manager in the minors.
    **Too many league quality issues to be higher.

    **FRITZ MAISEL is another benchmark as the first player I ranked to play primarily in the minor leagues.
    Fritz Maisel R/R
    Lefty killer hit .243 v righties and his OPS was .584/.789 L/R. Had a +.056 OPS on the road. Always among his league’s leaders in steals. Popular for his knowledge of the intricacies of stealing and exciting slides. Broken collarbone hampered his last 3 A.L. seasons. Acquired by Jack Dunn at age 29 to be player/captain of his impending dynasty.
    **Career length and intangibles top Lil Splo (3B, Henry Spearman).

    34. John Henry Russell R/R
    Molded in the classic undersized, scrappy, angry middle infielder style. After running wild his first year in St. Louis with 25 steals he showed the ability to hit for power when he needed to in tiny Stars Park. Especially known for his quickness in turning double plays as an excellent defender all-around.​

    35. Bienvenido Jimenez R/R
    Light on average at .254 career between the CuWL and the Negro Leagues but had good plate discipline and few strikeouts. Didn’t play in the states until he was 30 (mostly 35+) in 1920 still posting an average OPS+ in 5 full seasons. Flashed his glove and particularly his speed on the bases even in his second decade. Retired at 39 as a regular.
    **Long career keeps him above the next three.

    36. Henry Spearman R/R
    Debuted at 26 as a high average hitter in the orbit of the Grays and Crawfords until he was 30. Stayed productive hitting around .300 with improved plate discipline. Line drive doubles and triples hitter. Only stole 4 bags in ten years.

    37. Bill Riggins S/R
    Speedy number 2 hitter who showed some pop. Reliable, durable player who put up pretty consistent numbers year to year mostly for Detroit. Finished by 30 owing to the bottle.

    38. Jesse Williams R/R
    Contact hitter who hit for generally low averages and mostly batted at the bottom of the order. Had good patience at the plate and played small ball. Stole well, very good defender who moved to 2B for Robinson in ‘45.

    39. Dink Mothell S/R
    Average hitter with a good eye and little home run power. Good bat handler and a big threat to steal and take the extra base. Came up as a catcher, became known for his athleticism, smart play and ability to field all the positions.
    **Longevity, consistency, too much bat for Burgess Whitehead to pass.

    40. Claude Johnson-4p R/R
    Contact hitter with excellent bat control as well as bunting ability. Stayed a good hitter with a good eye through his mid-30s. 26 years old when the first N.N.L. was founded.
    **Career length is good; don’t know enough about his glove.

    41. Felton Snow R/R
    Weak hitting small ball player, good runner and defender who could play shortstop well. Player/managed Baltimore to one N.N.L. pennant in 8 years and never had a losing season.
    **Intangibles and all-around play.

    42. Leroy Morney S/R
    Played for twelve clubs in as many seasons. Had one big year in the relatively weak N.S.L. Good plate discipline and speed, no power and hit decent for a shortstop career wise- occasionally having a good year.

    43. Jake Stephens R/R
    Little bat to speak of but was an excellent defender in all aspects. Fine base runner as well. A regular until his late 30s. Would quit on a ball club faster than anyone this side of young Joe Dugan. Screwed over Hilldale by ducking out of the ‘24 NeL world series.

    44. Manuel Cueto R/R
    A high average hitter with patience and speed. Couldn’t hit lefties and hit better on the road in 3 years with the Reds as a utility player. Showed ability to hit in the clutch and w RISP. Spent the majority of his career in his native Cuba where he is in the HoF.

    45. Herb Souell R/R
    Didn’t become a regular for the Monarchs until he was 30. Spent nine seasons as their leadoff man. Good base stealer who frequently stretched doubles into triples. Considered the best defensive 3B in the N.A.L. after WWII when NeL LQ was plummeting.

    46. Fred Bankhead R/R
    Light hitting top of the order hitter, excellent bunter, good plate discipline. Known for his defense and speed on the bases. Didn’t do much after age 30.

    47. Dick Seay R/R
    Long career as a stellar glove man but almost no bat to speak of. Premier NeL 2B glove man of the 1930s. Managed to lead the league in sacrifices and be productive as a move ‘em up batter.
    Last edited by bluesky5; 01-26-2023, 08:59 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.”

  • #2

    I confused myself.
    Last edited by scottmitchell74; 01-26-2023, 09:34 PM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by scottmitchell74 View Post

      12. Ray Dandridge R/R

      Is this Double Duty? He was funny in Baseball.
      I don’t know what you mean?
      "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.”


      • #4
        Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post

        I don’t know what you mean?
        Neither did I! I confused myself.


        • #5
          Originally posted by scottmitchell74 View Post

          Neither did I! I confused myself.
          I already see changes I need to make. What do you think of the list?
          "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.”


          • #6
            Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post

            I already see changes I need to make. What do you think of the list?
            Oh I thought it was great. I'm not even remotely qualified to add an opinion. I was in pure learning mode. Great work!


            • #7
              Originally posted by scottmitchell74 View Post

              Oh I thought it was great. I'm not even remotely qualified to add an opinion. I was in pure learning mode. Great work!
              Wish someone would critique it.
              "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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