Number 2 – Fred Clarke
Fred Clarke played with the Pittsburgh Pirates when Honus Wagner was the best player in baseball. But Clarke wasn’t too far behind the all-time great shortstop. Clarke spent 15 years with the Pirates from 1900 to 1915. However, he only played 11 games from 1913 to 1915, so we’ll mainly be focusing on 1900 – 1911.
Clarke’s overall slash line might not look too impressive. A .300/.380/.419 line across 6,351 plate appearances would be a good, but not great batter in 2020. But that’s why we look at the era and league adjusted stats. Across these dozen seasons, Clarke posted a 136 OPS+, and has a career 134 wRC+ (that wRC+ includes those 11 games from ‘13-’15).
Clarke was a consistent above average slugger, as most of the time, the league average slugging percentage sat between .300-.350. In today’s game, a batter who sits between 130-135 wRC+, or 30%-35% above the league average, would put him among the likes of 2019 Mookie Betts, Eugenio Suarez, Rafael Devers, or 2018 Freddie Freeman.