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Joe Morgan vs Jackie Robinson


I am increasingly thinking that Jackie Robinson is one of the most underrated baseball players of all-time and that, as great as Joe Morgan was, that Jackie should be considered a better player than Morgan.


Joe Morgan had more stolen bases than Robinson, but he played in an era when stolen bases were a much more common occurence. Morgan never led the league in SB's, whereas Robinson did, twice....


A big part of Morgan's appeal is his on-base percentage, and yet Jackie had a better career OBP (.409 to .392) a much better career OPS (.883 to .819) and an equal OPS+ of 132


Jackie's career BA was a full 40 points higher than Joe's. That means when a player is on 2nd or 3rd, there is a much higher % of time that Jackie was knocking in the runner as opposed to taking a walk. Jackie's BA was almost 40 points higher than the league average, whereas Joe's was just 11 points higher. Their OBP was about equal in terms of differential to league average: Jackie's OBP was 62 points higher than league average, whereas Joe's was 66 points higher.


They were both terrific fielders, but Jackie was much more versatile, being able to play fantastic D at 3B, 1B and OF in addition to 2B (and he played SS in the Negro Leagues). Joe was a 2B who played OF, too


Neither was lights out in the postseason, but Jackie was better there, too and much better in All-Star Games


Morgan hit more HR's, but had a much lower slugging %


I think if you adjust for league averages, Robinson was actually much closer in ability to Honus Wagner than people give him credit for.....

The David Stearns era: Controllable Young Talent. Watch the Jedi work his magic!
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  • 3 years later...

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Thought I would return to this because it was 3 years ago and I've learned a thing or three since then (!)


First of all, in terms of Honus Wagner, if you adjust Wagner's numbers from his 5 year peak to the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers, his slash line is .394/.470/.575 all while playing Gold Glove defense at SS and stealing 65-70 bases a year and hitting 45-50 Doubles a year. So, no Jackie wasn't anywhere close to Wagner


Secondly, while I compared the career numbers of Morgan & Robinson, it was Joe Morgan's peak of 1972-1976 that cemented his legendary status: .303/.431 with a 163 OPS+, 2 World Series Championships all while stealing 60 bases a year and hitting 20+ bombs. Adjust those numbers to the 1950 Dodgers and it is closer to a .335/.465/.555 slash line


Jackie's 5 year peak from 1949-1953 was .329/.430/.505


Morgan at his best was a little better than Robinson at his best.


Adjusting for era is essential in making such comparisons. It isn't perfect but it allows deeper insight

The David Stearns era: Controllable Young Talent. Watch the Jedi work his magic!
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I'd still take Jackie. Put Morgan in a situation of having the racial pressure that Robinson had to endure his entire career. How many close calls went against Robinson. Would Robinson have been even better if he started his MLB career near the same age(28) as Morgan(19)?


We see how some players let off field situations hamper their play on the field. Two instances come to mind with the divorces that Frank Thomas and Prince Fielder had.

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