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Thread: The Top "What Might Have Been" players in Baseball

  1. #1
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    The Top "What Might Have Been" players in Baseball

    After watching this show on the MLB Network, I thought it would be a great discussion of who would be on your list of the top "What Might Have Been's" in Baseball. So many tragic stories of guys who could've; would've; and should've, but just didn't.

    This was MLB Network's top 9:

    9) Rick Ankiel
    8) Ray Fosse
    7) Pete Reiser
    6) Lyman Bostock
    5) Herb Score
    4) Tony Conigliaro
    3) J.R. Richard
    2) Bo Jackson

    and no.1......
    1) Satchel Paige


    I don't agree with Rick Ankiel being on the list. Sure he lost his control as a pitcher, but he came back and with a vengance as an OF. If anything he should be on a list for the Top Comback Players in MLB History.

    I agree with the others. The JR Richard situation was really, really tragic, so was Herb Score.

    I would add Josh Hamilton, Dwight Gooden and Shane Spencer on that list. Shane Spencer was a september call up for the Yankees in 1998. He was a beast. in 27 games he hit 10HR's 27 RBI's. I think he hit like 3 Grand slams. He had an awkward knee injury in 1999 and was never the same.

    Who's your "What Might Have Benn" Player? It doesn't have to be just 9 players either.
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    Well, you could include any of dozens of Negro League players on this list, so that makes their inclusion kind of pointless. With that said, Bo Jackson was a better football player than baseball player. but Herb Score could have been a HOFer, same for Richard. Tony C. and Pete Reiser would have been perrenial ASG players, less so for Bostock. And Fosse and Ankiel shouldn't be on the list, but I don't have other options to offer
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  3. #3
    I don't know about that list... seems to me you either include a whole whack of Negro Leaguers, or none.

    Going with the former idea, I'd say just move everyone up one, and put Karl Spooner in at #10.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eastvanmungo View Post
    I don't know about that list... seems to me you either include a whole whack of Negro Leaguers, or none.

    Going with the former idea, I'd say just move everyone up one, and put Karl Spooner in at #10.
    Spooner is an interesting case. Usually I would say picthing only 2 games in the majors is not enough to tell whether or not a pitcher would be a star. But he was so ridiculously lights out in those games that you have have to wonder.

    And you're right about the negro league players. There are about 20 negro players that I can name off the top of my head that makes me wonder what if they were allowed to play in the MLB? I'm still going to list them later on today.
    Today I Consider Myself the Luckiest Man on the Face of this Earth...

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  5. #5
    Ray Chapman might have ended up in the Hall of Fame if he hadn't been killed.

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    Harry Agannis
    Roy Campanella (Made the HOF anyway, but imagine if he'd had a few more years in LA with that ridiculous left field fence at 250 feet)
    "Tactics were resorted to, unworthy of fair, manly players" - Brooklyn Eagle, June 12,1890

  7. #7
    Benny Kauff was better than most listed so far.

    Ray Grimes
    Monty Stratton

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    Dickie Thon
    Cecil Travis
    David Clyde
    Charlie Keller
    George Sisler (like Campy, still a Hall of Famer, but you wonder what might have been...)

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    Ralph Kiner in the same boat as Campy and Sisler.
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    Funny I was thinking of making a thread of this topic , but nevermind. On topic lots of Negro League players could have been on this list. Also agree with you Cool Papa that Rick Ankiel shouldn't be on this list. What they were thinking was his pitching career. If he had pitch longer they think he could of have been up there with the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Francoeurstein View Post
    Ralph Kiner in the same boat as Campy and Sisler.
    All these guys are Hall of Famers, they didn't get cheated THAT much.
    Then you might as well include Mantle.
    Just thought of Bill Lange
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    Yeah, I think it's dumb to name Satchel Paige and not name guys like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, etc.

    Mark Fidrych also belongs in this discussion somewhere, I think.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Victory Faust View Post
    Yeah, I think it's dumb to name Satchel Paige and not name guys like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, etc.
    It's actually uncalled for to name any of them.

    "What might have been"??? These guys "did". Lumping them into "what might have been" means that they didn't do very much with their careers. Uh, yeah, they most certainly did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgarza View Post
    It's actually uncalled for to name any of them.

    "What might have been"??? These guys "did". Lumping them into "what might have been" means that they didn't do very much with their careers. Uh, yeah, they most certainly did.

    I see your point. However, I also can understand the sentiment of wondering "What might have been" with the Negro players. We truly don't know how great these guys were, since their stats were loosely recorded at best.

    We baseball history nuts are obsessed with ranking players, but it's impossible to rank someone based strictly on reputation. Was Gibson as great a power hitter as Babe Ruth? Greater? Was Oscar Charleston as great/greater than Cobb?

    Maybe, but we'll never really know, since all we have are sporadic box scores and legend to go by. So in that sense, I think it's perfectly applicable to ask "what might have been." Sure, they "did it." But few records of their deeds exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthMayBond View Post
    All these guys are Hall of Famers, they didn't get cheated THAT much.
    Then you might as well include Mantle.
    Just thought of Bill Lange
    I actually thought of Mantle. Between his leg injuries and his drinking, he cheated himself out of a lot of potential. Of course he was great anyway, but how much better could he have been if he took care of himself and hadn't been hurt?
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    I actually thought about Dizzy Dean, too. Wonder what would have happened if Ol Diz didn't have his toe broken at the '37 All Star Game. 250 wins? 300, possibly?

  17. #17
    If we're mentioning Hall of Famers who could've been even greater, what about Addie Joss?

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    Hal Trosky. He's the missing term in the sequence of "Hall of Fame AL First Basemen"

    The sequence runs: Sisler, Gehrig. Foxx, Greenberg, ______________, Killebrew, Murray

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    Quote Originally Posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
    Roy Campanella (Made the HOF anyway, but imagine if he'd had a few more years in LA with that ridiculous left field fence at 250 feet)
    He also got a late start (debuted in Brooklyn at 26) because of segregation. Each end of his career was at least somewhat truncated.
    3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

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    Any one of the following guys not mentioned, in alphabetical order...I know I missed some, but I did this list as quickly as possible...
    -Bert Barth (Inability by the Orioles to decide whether he was a hitter or a pitcher, injury and mechanics problems as a pitcher affecting his hitting.)
    -Johnny Beazley (Arm injury suffered during WWII)
    -Bill Bell (Rushed, arm injury, overused)
    -Steve Busby (Overuse in the extreme)
    -Rico Carty (Illness)
    -Russ Christopher (Rheumatic Heart Disease)
    -Brian Cole (Killed in a car wreck)
    -Jim Creighton (Ruptured an internal organ while swinging the bat)
    -Steve Dalkowski (Horrendous coaching, mental block from a beaning in his third pro game, no attempt to have him repeat his mechanics, extreme overuse, alcoholism...)
    -Jacke Davis (Ankle problems)
    -Bill DeLancey (Illness)
    -Roberto Estalella (According to Bill James, suspected black ancestry, though he'd already appeared in the Majors during the segregated era, so they didn't know what to do with him.)
    -Chuck Estrada (Extreme overuse, alterations made to delivery.)
    -Charlie Ferguson (Illness)
    -Steve Evans (Blacklisted after going to the Federal League)
    -Ray Fisher (Perhaps the most unfair ban ever issued by Landis)
    -Joel Gibson (Freak injury number one was having his foot crushed between two car seats. Freak injury number two was J.C. Martin lining a pitch off his wrist in batting practice when he seemed a lock to make the White Sox after coming back from his first freak injury.)
    -Jack Hamilton (Fear of hitting batters brought on by hitting Tony Conigliaro)
    -Ken Hubbs (Plane crash)
    -Ken Hunt (Broken collarbone he was unable to recover from)
    -Ottis Johnson (Killed by a pitch while hitting .394 in his second professional season; I know he was old, but Major League scouts were supposedly looking at him when Jack Clifton hit and killed him.)
    -Wally Judnich (WWII service, time away from baseball)
    -Charlie Kerfeld (Weight problems, arm problems)
    -Dickie Kerr (Suspension)
    -Jim Lehew (Repeated back problems)
    -Von McDaniel (Mental block?)
    -Sam McDowell (Arm problems, alcoholism)
    -Austin McHenry (Illness)
    -Thurman Munson (Plane crash)
    -Ron Necciai (Bleeding ulcer, being rushed, the Korean War, arm injury)
    -Mike Norris (Extreme overuse)
    -Rebel Oakes (Blacklisted after going to the Federal League)
    -Dave Orr (Stroke)
    -Ray Perry (Late start, buried in the Yankees organization; called likely the greatest post-WWII Minor Leaguer by Bill James)
    -Joe Pulliam (Was on the cusp of making it with the Orioles when he severed a tendon in his leg and was never the same again.)
    -Frank Shellenback (In the Minors when his spitter was banned)
    -Dick Shepler (Recurring and worsening shin splints)
    -Wayne Simpson (Arm problems)
    -Moose Solters (Vision loss)
    -Bob Sprout (Extreme overuse)
    -Ken Tatum (Fear of hitting batters brought about by beaning Paul Blair)
    -Arne Thorsland (Mechanical alteration which brought about shin splints which brought about another mechanical alteration which resulted in horrible shoulder and elbow problems)
    -Dick Wakefield (WWII service, time away from baseball)
    -Jerry Walker (Extreme overuse)
    -Pete Ward (Back problems)
    -Ralph Worrell (Spanish Flu)
    -Ray Youngdahl (Slashed open his knee in the Minors while sliding and about to be called up to Baltimore, was forced to alter his batting stance, and was never the same.)
    Last edited by Dalkowski110; 03-28-2010 at 01:05 AM.
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    Lefty O'Doul
    Ross Barnes
    Joe Jackson
    Dave Orr
    countless lesser knowns, such as Jimmy Wood

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
    Harry Agannis
    Roy Campanella (Made the HOF anyway, but imagine if he'd had a few more years in LA with that ridiculous left field fence at 250 feet)
    Campy was pretty beat up by 1957. He did have his 3rd MVP season in 1955, but 3 of his last 4 seasons were pretty weak at the plate, I think he had a serious hand injury. He had started catching in the Negro Leagues at age 15 or 16, so by 57 he had been playing pro ball almost 20 years. And some of those seasons in the Negro Leagues he was also playing winter ball in the Carribbean, so he may have been catching 170 games a year at times. Not much gas left in the tank.

    Hodges was about at his peak and there was some speculation that he may threaten 60 in the Coliseum, but the best he did as a regular was 25 Hr's.
    It Might Be? It Could Be?? It Is!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
    I actually thought of Mantle. Between his leg injuries and his drinking, he cheated himself out of a lot of potential. Of course he was great anyway, but how much better could he have been if he took care of himself and hadn't been hurt?
    It's tempting to say, then he wouldn't have been Mickey Mantle!

    It's tempting because the cliche is familiar. At the same time it is difficult --implausible to me-- to suggest seriously that he would have been impaired in some other way, to mitigate the benefit of "taking care of himself", or avoiding the centerfield drain by good luck. A virtuoso baseball player is a creative genius, we may like to believe. Stolid worker is just as close to the truth.

    Probably it's the Mickey Mantle fans and writers who would lose something in their relationship with MM if he were "taking care of himself" and avoiding the drains. MM would simply be a better or longer-lived rendition of MM.

    The same is true of Joe DiMaggio and his bone spurs, I suppose.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    ...
    -Bert Barth (Inability by the Orioles to decide whether he was a hitter or a pitcher, injury and mechanics problems as a pitcher affecting his hitting.)
    -Steve Dalkowski (Horrendous coaching, mental block from a beaning in his third pro game, no attempt to have him repeat his mechanics, extreme overuse, alcoholism...)
    -Chuck Estrada (Extreme overuse, alterations made to delivery.)
    -Jerry Walker (Extreme overuse)
    (my selection)

    Those three at least were Baltimore Orioles together. Was Paul Richards the general manager, as well as field manager in Baltimore?

    add:
    -Arne Thorsland (Mechanical alteration which brought about shin splints which brought about another mechanical alteration which resulted in horrible shoulder and elbow problems)

    See the reply by "Dalkowski" (a Steve Dalkowski biographer) on the next page.


    -Rebel Oakes (Blacklisted after going to the Federal League)
    "what might have been" as a player or as a manager?
    Last edited by Paul Wendt; 03-28-2010 at 07:19 PM.

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