Introducing Teammate Quotient

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book, The Great Baseball Argument Settling Book, in which I rank the top 100 players in baseball history at every position.

What makes a good teammate? After talking with dozens of former professional ballplayers, I’ve arrived at a list of characteristics. 

A good teammate:

  1. Is dependable, he shows up and suits up.
  2. Plays hard.
  3. Plays through injuries.
  4. Supports his teammates, even in adversity.
  5. Places the team ahead of himself.
  6. Works to improve his game.
  7. Helps his teammates improve their game.
  8. Is responsible for his failures and successes.
  9. Has a positive attitude.

It’s a happy accident that I ended up with nine characteristics (honest). At any rate, if we give a player a score from 1 to 10 on each of the nine characteristics, we can gauge their Teammate Quotient, or TQ. A score of 90 is perfection. I ran this for most of the left fielders in the Top 100 and Baylor came out with the highest score. Here are the top ten teammates among the left fielders:

  1. Don Baylor  … 88 TQ
  2. Billy Williams … 86
  3. Willie Stargell … 84
  4. Pete Rose … 80
  5. Brett Gardner … 79
  6. Goose Goslin … 78
  7. Lou Brock … 77
  8. Joe Rudi … 76
  9. Hal McRae … 75
  10. Fred Clarke … 74 

There are a few left fielders who are admittedly handicapped by the fact that they played a long time ago and it’s difficult to know a lot about them. Clarke, rated tenth, was also a player/manager, so that might be unfair too. But had he not been a good teammate, he probably wouldn’t have been offered a managerial job.

I expected more future managers at the top of the list, only Baylor, Rose, McRae and Clarke went on to manage in the big leagues. Baylor and Rudi were teammates in California on the Angels and they became very good friends. I expect that if I ran this for other positions, we’d find a number of players rating well who had come up through the Baltimore organization like Baylor did: Bobby Grich, Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair and Mark Belanger come to mind.

The six lowest in Teammate Quotient among left fielders: 

  1. Albert Belle … 26 TQ
  2. Carl Crawford … 36
  3. Manny Ramirez … 35
  4. Shoeless Joe Jackson … 39
  5. George Bell … 46
  6. Barry Bonds … 53

Bonds scores very low in attitude, responsibility, and putting the team first, as you’d expect. But he was generous with advice for his teammates, played hurt, and played hard.