No. 17 Negro Leagues Monte Irvin

This is what I wrote on Irwin earlier. I updated this with anything that follows in red being the update.

I am putting Monte Irvin here as I think he belongs here. Irwin has only 32.1 WAR including the Negro Leagues. At the time Doby was the 10th best centerfielder and the 138th best outfielder. Now he is the 9th best centerfielder and the 124th greatest player. You can still put Irwin right behind him.  However, his career was hurt by World War II and not allowing blacks in the American and National League. I doubt there was anyone who was hurt any more He did play in the majors 7 years but started at age 30.  He didn’t play long enough in either league to get the career totals up to his worth as a player, through no fault of his own.

Irwin was well respected. The Negro League owners thought Monte Irvin would have been the best pick to be the first black player in what was then white baseball. Bobby Thomson said he never respected a teammate more.  After retirement he worked in the Commissionaire’s office.

The Negro League’s have just been recognized as MLB Leagues by the Major Leagues. Baseball Reference has done a super job getting their records on line. I have cruised through some of them.

One challenge was some seasons for the negro leagues were short. I think it was because they played a lot of exhibition games during the season. Also, I don’t think Baseball Reference has done all the games.

I looked at a lot of great players and they have Career WAR in the high 30s. I think it is too early to make too many assumptions from the data. Looking at the data closer you can see why some of the great players are great.   From what I saw I have no arguments about any of the hall of fame picks, except Buck O’ Neil belongs in the hall of fame. Now that O’ Neil and Minnie Minoso have been elected what am I going to complain about. Not as a player, but as someone who has done so much for the game.

One of things I read were some people were surprised that Jackie Robinson was the first black player chosen to play in the “white” major league.  They said they didn’t think he was such a great player. However, I looked at his Negro League record. He played one season in 1945. He played shortstop and he batted .375 and lead the league in doubles, homeruns and on base percentage. That was in 34 games recorded. I think Jackie proved himself.

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