MLB — All-time WAR leaders at every height

MLB


Baseball’s elite players come in all shapes and sizes, as current 5-foot-9 mighty mites Mookie Betts and Jose Ramirez can attest.

According to Baseball Reference, major leaguers have measured up at 22 different heights since 1900. Here is the long and short of it — from Wee Willie on one end, to the Big Unit and the Big Train on the other — the all-time WAR leaders at every height since the start of the 20th century. In some cases, the leader is the only individual at a given measurement to have played in the majors. But, hey, we’re not selling anyone short.

3-foot-7 | Eddie Gaedel | WAR: 0.03

The shortest player in MLB history, courtesy of a famous 1951 publicity stunt by St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck. Wearing uniform number 1/8, pinch hitter Gaedel drew a four-pitch walk off the Detroit Tigers’ Bob Cain in his only plate appearance before being lifted for a pinch runner. For the record, the base on balls gave Gaedel a microscopically positive WAR of 0.03, which is rounded to zero.

5-3 | Yo-Yo Davalillo | WAR: 0.2

The native of Venezuela had a cup of coffee with the Washington Senators in 1953, hitting .293 in 19 games. His brother Vic was 4 inches taller and played in World Series for the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1973 Oakland Athletics.

5-4 | Willie Keeler | WAR: 22.8

A master at bunting and fouling off pitches, “Wee Willie” used a 30-inch bat, about the size that Little Leaguers use today. But it weighed a healthy 46 ounces, allowing Keeler to perfect the “Baltimore Chop” of getting a high hop after hitting the ball into the dirt. Keeler’s career spanned from 1890 to 1910 with an overall 54.1 WAR.

5-5 | Rabbit Maranville | WAR: 42.9

Legend has it that Maranville, famous for his practical jokes, once slid through an umpire’s legs while attempting to steal second base. The Hall of Fame infielder played from 1912 to 1935, primarily with the Boston Braves.

5-6 | Joe Sewell | WAR: 53.7

Sewell, a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Indians and Yankees in the 1920s and ’30s, fanned on just 1.4 percent of his plate appearances over 14 seasons. The average strikeout rate this season is 22.2. He was famous for playing his entire career with the same 40-ounce bat.

5-7 | Joe Morgan | WAR: 100.6

The two-time MVP and 10-time All-Star was 140 pounds when he broke into the majors in 1964. One of Morgan’s idols growing up was the diminutive Nellie Fox, who suggested the arm flap at the plate that became Morgan’s trademark.

5-8 | Paul Waner | WAR: 72.8

A scout once said “that little punk doesn’t know how to put on a uniform.” The Pirates’ threads fit Waner just fine, as he was just the seventh player to reach 3,000 hits.

5-9 | Eddie Collins | WAR: 124.0

The former Columbia quarterback was part of the Philadelphia Athletics’ famed “$100,000 infield” before World War I. That’s about $2.5 million in today’s dollars. Seems like a bargain.

5-10 | Willie Mays | WAR: 156.4

With 660 homers, Mays towers above long-ball hitters under 6 feet tall. Mickey Mantle is a distant second with 536.

5-11 | Tris Speaker | WAR: 134.1

Speaker, a .345 career hitter, looked a lot smaller to pitchers by batting out of a left-handed crouch, holding his bat low and positioning himself deep in the box.

6-0 | Hank Aaron | WAR: 143.0

A relatively lean 180 pounds, Aaron generated power with his quick wrists and a thin-handled bat.

6-1 | Walter Johnson | WAR: 165.2

The right-hander’s nickname was “The Big Train” because he was … big. Johnson won 417 games and led the American League in victories six times, back when people cared about that stat.

6-2 | Babe Ruth | WAR: 162.1

Ruth was reputed to be a giant, but that was likely because the average American male was 3 or 4 inches shorter a century ago. He was the same height as Nolan Arenado.

6-3 | Ted Williams | WAR: 123.1

During his pursuit of a .400 batting average in 1941, Boston newspapers called the lanky Williams “Toothpick Ted,” the “Boston String Bean” and the “Willowy Walloper.”

6-4 | Roger Clemens | WAR: 139.6

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner overpowered hitters and was once a defensive end at Springs Wood High School in Texas.

6-5 | Frank Thomas | WAR: 73.9

The Big Hurt may have had a big strike zone, but he still racked up 10 seasons with 100 or more walks.

6-6 | Roy Halladay | WAR: 64.3

One reason for Halladay’s perfect pitcher’s build was a legendary work ethic that included a grueling 90-minute spring training weight and cardio routine before he would join his teammates on the field.

6-7 | Frank Howard | WAR: 37.6

The 255-pound Howard was massive compared to other 1960s home run leaders such as Mays and Aaron. He had his best seasons with the Senators, earning such nicknames (among others) as the “Washington Monument” and “Capital Punisher.”

6-8 | Tony Clark | WAR: 12.4

How rare is a 6-8 position player? Clark, currently the head of the MLB Players Association, had 4,532 career at-bats. Next on the list was fellow first baseman Nate Freiman with 277.

6-9 | Jeff Niemann | WAR: 4.3

When the Tampa Bay Rays’ right-hander fractured his foot in a 2012 game in Toronto, trainer Ron Porterfield had to call the NBA’s Raptors to get a pair of extra-long crutches.

6-10 | Randy Johnson | WAR: 101.1

The Big Unit appeared to be halfway to home plate by the time he completed his delivery, which is among the reasons for his 4,875 strikeouts over 22 seasons. The Hall of Famer once killed a bird with a pitch, and that’s no tall tale.

6-11 | Jon Rauch | WAR: 6.3

The 290-pound right-hander spent 11 years in the big leagues and has an Olympic gold medal on his resume. The wait continues for the first 7-footer.



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