There are a lot of ways to define great players. To start, we can look at accolades; who has the most World Series titles, MVPS, Cy Youngs? We dig a little deeper; who has the most homers, RBI, strikeouts, and lowest ERA? We can go even further than that now with era-adjusted statistics like OPS+ and ERA+. There’s always the eye test, reading stories about who was the most feared or the most dominant. Who has the greatest legacy? Who do we still talk about years, decades, now more than a century later since baseball’s inception?
Do we ever look at where they come from?
We look at it when we talk about recruiting and the draft, but that’s mainly about high schools and colleges. It’s a good note on international signings, where the biggest pools are that teams sign from. It’s fun trivia to name the most obscure player that came out of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, or that Cy Young was born in Gilmore, Ohio. But do we ever contextualize the best players in terms of where they come from after the fact? Does that change how we look at who’s the best if we can only limit it to one location?
This is the start of a series that’s going to take us well through the dog days of summer ball and—literally—around the world as baseball takes us to see who are our best Red Sox representatives from across the globe.
As much as this is a research series I’ll conduct personally, I want to draw on as much feedback from you as possible. So that’s what today’s ask from me is: a call to action for you, the readers.
I already have some parameters I believe in to start, but in the true spirit of collaborative research, I truly want to know what you all think. I’ll read every comment and create, change, adjust, fine-tune, and filter as many parameters as make sense on each side of how we quantify the best players.
What do you look at when you think of the best players? What statistics matter most to you, and what numbers are your benchmarks for consideration? Does era make a big difference, and how do you differentiate a player from the dead-ball era to someone from the steroid era or today’s game? Can they still be active within a high number of games played or do they have to be gone from the game? Have any preconceived notions about any locations already? Are there any memories from players who should be shoo-ins or in the conversation that need mentioning?
The series is going to cover all 50 states—broken down by region of the country, then hop across the map from the Caribbean, to Europe and Asia. All the regions have been determined already. As to who comes out on top from each place? That’s on us to figure out. I look forward to reading these comments and diving into the work!
Next week will be the first batch of results, and we’ll start close to home: New England.