Tuesday, we answered the question, “Who are the best ten Auburn Tiger baseball players in big league history.” Today, we examine how these players stack up against the best the SEC has to offer. Again, the measurement used to decide the “best” is Wins Above Replacement value or “WAR.”
10. Del Pratt, University of Alabama, 45.6 WAR .292 BA, 43 HRs
Pratt was a great second baseman and utility player for the St. Louis Browns, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers from 1912-24. Pratt led the AL in RBIs in 1916.
9. Buddy Myer, Miss State, 46.9 WAR, .303 BA,
Myer was a two-time All-Star second baseman out of Ellisville, Mississippi. Myer made his debut with the Washington Senators in 1925 and, with the exception of a two year stint with the Red Sox, spent his entire career in the capital. He was the AL batting champ in 1935 and led the league in swiped bags in 1928.
8. Tommy Bridges, University of Tennessee, 51.1 WAR, 194-138, 3.57 ERA
Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1930-46. Bridges missed all of 1944 and most of 1945 to serve in the U.S. Army. He appeared in four World Series with the Tigers, winning two. He also was selected to six All Star teams.
7. Joe Sewell, University of Alabama, 53.7 WAR .312 BA, 49 HR
Joseph Wheeler Sewell is the namesake of the University of Alabama’s baseball facility and is arguably its finest product. Wheeler broke through with the Cleveland Indians shortly after the death of the previous shortstop Ray Chapman. He played fourteen years with the Indians and Yankees, winning world series with both clubs. Sewell had some of the best eyes in MLB history, striking out only once ever 63 at bats. Sewell once went 115 games without striking out. Sewell was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1977.
6. Ian Kinsler, Missouri, 55.4 WAR, .275 BA, 224 HR, 223 SB
Ian Kinsler has the highest career WAR of any active former player for and SEC team. He was only a 17th rounder out of Missouri but he has managed to have a great twelve year career with the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. Kinsler is a Gold Glove second baseman but he also runs well and has good pop for a middle infielder. Kinsler had 30/30 seasons in 2009 and 2011. Kinsler has an outside shot at the Hall of Fame if he keeps producing at a high level.
5. Will Clark, Miss State 56.2 WAR, .303 BA 284 HR
Will “The Thrill” Clark played fifteen major league seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals. The left handed first baseman appeared in six All Star Games. He won a Gold Glove and two Silver Sluggers. Clark had the misfortune of spending his best years in the swirling winds and damp conditions at Candlestick Park.
4. Tim Hudson, Auburn 58.7 WAR, 222-133, 3.49 ERA
Tim Hudson is one of two Auburn Tigers in the top 10. Hudson, an undersized righty out of Phenix City had a 17 year career with the Oakland A’s, Atlanta Braves, and San Francisco Giants. Hudson was a four-time All Star. He burst on to the scene in Oakland in 1999, going 11-2 with a 3.23 ERA. He finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2000, he racked up 20 wins and finished second in the Cy Young race. In 2010, he won NL Comeback player of the year honors by posting a 17-9 for the Atlanta Braves record a year after Tommy John’s surgery. Hudson ended his career on top, winning the 2015 World Series with the San Francisco Giants.
3. Todd Helton, Tennessee, 61.2 WAR, .316 HR 369 HR
Todd Helton spent seventeen seasons with the Colorado Rockies. The 220 lbs Knoxville native was selected 8th overall out of Tennessee in 1995. He was selected to five All Star games, won three Golden Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. In 2000, Helton slugged .372 with 42 deep flies and 147 RBIs. Helton’s productivity dropped sharply after 2005. He is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019 but is considered a long shot for induction.
2. Rafael Palmeiro, Miss State 71.6 WAR, .288 BA, 3,020 hits, 569 HRs
Rafael Palmeiro put up gaudy numbers in the league. He spent twenty years playing with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles. Palmeiro was also the first major league superstar to test positive for steroids. Voters punished him by refusing to vote him into the Hall of Fame. On the field, he was named to four All Star Games. The Miss State team starring him and Will Clark is probably the best SEC team in any sport to not win a championship.
1 Frank Thomas, Auburn 73.7 WAR
We knew the Big Hurt was Auburn’s best major leaguer, but it turns out, he’s also the best in SEC history. Frank came out of Auburn as the 7th overall pick in the 1989 MLB Draft. At 19 years, Frank enjoyed the longest career of any Tiger big leaguer. He’s best known for his time with the White Sox where he won the MVP award in 1993 and 1994 and the batting crown in 1997. Thomas finished in the top-10 of MVP voting for seven straight seasons. He was known not only for his power but his patience, leading the league in walks four times in five years. Thomas was named to five All Star Teams. Over his career, he maintained a .301 average while hitting over 500 home runs. Frank won the World Series with the 2005 White Sox. Thomas spent most of his career with the Chicago White Sox. He finished his career with the Oakland A’s and Blue Jays.
Who is the Best SEC Big Leaguer?
This poll is closed
Frank Thomas, Auburn
Rafael Palmeiro, Miss State
Todd Helton, Tennessee
Tim Hudson, Auburn
Will Clark, Miss State
Other (Answer in comments)