No. 10 Negro Leagues Willie Wells

In one listing I used he actually beat out Pop Lloyd as the starting shortstop, so he must be quite the player. He also has the most WAR of any position player on this list. However, that is because there are 21 years of data for him.

It is interesting, that after the age of 26 his batting goes up and down quite a bit. The short seasons of official games doesn’t help this.

According to Bill James Wells played in the Mexican Winter League for 30 years. Wikipedia said he played 2 summers in Mexico some ball in Cuba. He probably played close to 200 games many of those years and I would bet he played close to 5,000 games including exhibitions during the season. Baseball Reference has accounted for 1,038 of them. However, a lot of the games were barnstorming exhibitions that shouldn’t count. Neither should the winter league, nor the games in Mexico and Cuba.

I just figured out something must have happened around age 26. By age 25 he had 114 homeruns. Despite a long career he hit only 24 more career homeruns. He and probably the team played less games after that, but he had 3 seasons over 20 by age 25 but never topped 5 homeruns the rest of his career. His slugging percentage went down significantly although still good especially for a shortstop. Wells had three years of isolated power of over .300 by age 25. After age 25 he never again had an isolated power of .250.

There must have been some type of injury. Let me check his SABR biography. Well that still needs to be written so I struck out there. His Wikipedia article doesn’t mention anything at that time.

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