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The Greatest?
2005-06-16 05:35
by Alex Belth

Bill James once labled Rickey Henderson as the most underappreciated great player of his time. A few days ago, Joe Sheehan wrote that "Frank Robinson is one of the most underrated managers in history, a guy who has consistently posted records above his team's talent--the anti-Baker, if you will." The same day I was reading through Sports Illustrated's new collection of "Great Baseball Writing" and stumbled across a piece on Roberto Clemente. It must have been written in the late sixties. The writer mentioned that Clemente was very good but not yet in the Mays-Mantle-Aaron class. My first thought was, "What about Frank Robinson?" So let me put it out there: Is Frank Robinson the most underappreciated great baseball figure since World War II, or what?

2005-06-16 07:26:40
1.   graciebarn
If I remember correctly, Allen Barra's "Brushbacks and Knockdowns" argues for Mike Schmidt as the best or the most something. I'm not sure if it was underappreciated though.
2005-06-16 07:52:31
2.   Bob Timmermann
Barra also thinks that Juan Marichal is the most unappreciated pitcher.

Still, Robinson's teams have never won anything and I will be surprised if the Nats are playing in the postseason.

2005-06-16 08:01:48
3.   Murray
Aside from the statistical greatness, Frank Robinson also has all the intangible things people love to talk about: he was a team leader, a hustling, hard-nosed player and he even had a sense of humor. Frank doesn't always come across as likeable, however.
2005-06-16 10:26:51
4.   NetShrine
Robby's in the HOF - plus, he's the first black MGR. His name will never be forgotten.

How about Edgar Martinez?
Outside of Seattle, in 20 years, he may be totally forgotten - and, that would be a shame.

2005-06-16 11:46:47
5.   Cliff Corcoran
Bob, as a player, Robinson played in the 1961, 1966, 1969, 1970 & 1971 World Series, winning in '66 and '70. That said, I think we'll all be surprised if the Nats are in the postseason, but not because Frank Robinson is there mananger.
2005-06-16 11:53:32
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Also, I would argue for Frank Thomas and Dick Allen in the list of must underappreciated hitters since WWII argument. Maybe Jeff Bagwell too. Thomas and Allen have had extracurricular issues cloud their greatness (Thomas's being injuries), and it may be my AL East perspective, but I don't think Bagwell's gotten his due either.

Schmidt is the greatest third baseman to ever play the game, and is generally regarded as such, I don't think he's underapprecaited any more than the position is as a whole. Marichal is a great catch by Barra.

2005-06-16 13:12:06
7.   Alex Belth
It's funny about Maricial. His stock really dropped by the time he was elected to the Hall. I know he didn't make it on the first go round. But according to a piece that Roger Angell wrote on Bob Gibson in the late 70s/early 80s called "Distance," Gibson's reputation had taken a big hit by that time as well. Now, Gibson and Koufax are regarded as the giants of that era, but I guess that wasn't always the case. If you ever get a chance, that article is really good. Gibson has a good quote on Maricial too. If I can find it, I'll post it. I know that Pete Rose said that Maricial was the best of all three because he could throw so many different pitches for strikes.
2005-06-16 18:57:25
8.   Alex Belth
From that article, regarding Marichal. Angell writes:

"The talk shifted to pitchers, and Gibson (echoing Pete Rose) siad he thought that Juan Marichal had been the best hurler of their time, because of his absolute control. "I had a better fastball and a better slider, but he was a better pitcher than me or Koufax," he said.

2005-06-17 14:07:54
9.   Borchard504
Love the 'anti-Baker' line. I too have been very impressed with how Robbie's teams have over achieved. Give the man some props I say.

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