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Greatest 3-Year Stretches in Baseball History

Name the players who had the best three-year stretches in the live-ball era, by Wins above Replacement.
According to baseball-reference.com
Only each player's best 3-year stretch is shown
Quiz by Quizmaster
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First submittedMay 13, 2016
Last updatedOctober 1, 2018
Times taken3,484
Rating3.68
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WAR
Years
Team
Position
Player
34.0
1926-1928
Yankees
OF
Babe Ruth
33.3
1968-1970
Cardinals
P
Bob Gibson
32.9
2001-2003
Giants
OF
Barry Bonds
32.8
1963-1965
Giants
OF
Willie Mays
32.0
1955-1957
Yankees
OF
Mickey Mantle
30.4
1920-1922
Cardinals
2B
Rogers Hornsby
29.8
1944-1946
Tigers
P
Hal Newhouser
29.3
1946-1948
Red Sox
OF
Ted Williams
29.2
1974-1976
Reds
2B
Joe Morgan
28.8
1927-1929
Yankees
1B
Lou Gehrig
28.8
1971-1973
White Sox
P
Wilbur Wood
28.7
1932-1934
A's
1B
Jimmie Foxx
28.5
1935-1937
Red Sox
P
Lefty Grove
28.5
1998-2000
Red Sox
P
Pedro Martinez
28.4
1966-1968
Red Sox
OF
Carl Yastrzemski
28.2
1996-1998
Red Sox / Blue Jays
P
Roger Clemens
28.2
2000-2002
Diamondbacks
P
Randy Johnson
28.0
2012-2014
Angels
OF
Mike Trout
27.7
1948-1950
Cardinals
OF
Stan Musial
27.7
1972-1974
Indians
P
Gaylord Perry
27.6
2007-2009
Cardinals
1B
Albert Pujols
27.5
2000-2002
Mariners / Rangers
SS
Alex Rodriguez
27.5
1971-1973
Mets
P
Tom Seaver
27.4
1958-1960
Cubs
SS
Ernie Banks
27.0
1961-1963
Braves
OF
Hank Aaron
+2
level ∞
May 13, 2016
A few notes:

  • To keep things sane, we had to restrict this list to the live-ball era. Apologies to Old Hoss Radbourn who had 59 wins and 441 strikeouts in the year 1888.
  • Wilbur Wood was a knuckleballer who appears on this list mostly because he threw lots of innings.
  • Hal Newhouser's best three year stretch came when most of the good hitters were serving in WWII. He was ineligible for military service due to a leaky heart valve.
+3
level 73
May 16, 2016
oh man...Old Hoss was my first guess. I feel totally gypped.
+1
level 72
Aug 2, 2018
But he could pitch like a bugger with that sloshing heart.
+1
level 77
Aug 19, 2016
Geez. I hope this sort of thing is considered obscure and arcane knowledge even amongst people who care about baseball.
+1
level 72
Aug 19, 2016
Nope. Fairly easy for me
+2
level 61
Aug 19, 2016
I was able to get most of them because of the clues (team, position, year). I'm a pretty big baseball fan though, and some of these guys were beyond me. Never even heard of Wilbur Wood. Only vaguely recall Hal Newhouser. I know that Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove were great players, but I didn't know (and probably won't remember) their teams and positions, so the clues were no help. I got everyone else. Some were more obvious than others.
+2
level 70
Jun 15, 2017
I love the history of the game, so got 24/25, only missing Newhouser. Probably only got Wilbur Wood because he played during the era when I grew up, and I had his baseball card one year.
+1
level 65
Mar 22, 2018
I missed Hornsby for some reason and Wilbur Wood. Would never have guessed Wood in a million years.
+1
level 78
Aug 19, 2016
WILBUR WOOD!!! Portly lefty knuckler. Loved that guy!
+1
level 61
Aug 19, 2016
The WAR calculations for pitchers are...interesting. Very surprised not to see Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw, and Greg Maddux here. Each of them had (and one of them is having) all-time great runs of at least three seasons.
+2
level ∞
Aug 19, 2016
Sandy Koufax pitched during a time when low ERA's were routine, so even though his stats were great there were lots of other great pitchers as well. Maddux probably would have made the list if not for the player's strike in 1994. Modern pitchers like Kershaw will have trouble making the list because of limited innings.
+1
level 49
Aug 23, 2016
Keep in mind it is 'wins against replacement'. In some cases their teams just didn't have a serious drop-off in wins.
+2
level 58
Jan 18, 2018
Hector, that's a substantial misunderstanding of the WAR metric. Has almost nothing to do with the particular team's bench quality or success when that player is not playing. It compares the player to all other players in the game at the position at the time to determine a replacement level and measure each player against that level.
+1
level 47
Aug 20, 2016
Good ol' Wilbur Wood. He and Mickey Lolich were 2 big tubs of goo who were 2 of the best pitchers in the game in their day. Along with Sam McDowell. Those guys never get any love.
+3
level 70
Jun 15, 2017
The Tigers faced Bob Gibson, in the midst of his 2nd-best-all-time stretch of any player in MLB history, in the 1968 World Series....and won....thanks to Mickey Lolich, who pitched Game 7 on only 2 days rest after pitching a complete game in Game 5, and threw his 3rd complete game of the series, defeating Gibson head-to-head and recording his 3rd win of the series. Possibly the clearest Series MVP ever.
+2
level 70
Jun 15, 2017
Before Madison Bumgarner vs. Kansas City in 2014, there was Mickey Lolich vs. St. Louis in 1968.
+1
level 61
Jun 18, 2017
One day I will remember how to spell Clemens and finally get credit for an answer I know.
+1
level 72
Aug 2, 2018
TWAIN should be accepted for Clemens!
+1
level 79
Apr 29, 2019
How else could you spell Clemens?