We did not include Roberto Clemente here originally, and people were up in arms. We stood by the decision until, however, a reader named "patrick bohn" presented an argument that was too good to refudiate. Take it away, patrick:
Normally, I refuse to fall victim to the "compare guys of a different era" fallacy, but lists like this, by nature, invite that. So here goes.
Winfield: .283/.353/.475, 130 OPS+, 3110 hits, 465 HR's 223 steals, D WAR -9.2 on baseball-reference, -92 runs on FanGraphs
Clemente: .317/.359/.475, 130 OPS, 3000 hits, 240 HR's, 83 steals, D WAR 22 on baseball reference, 204 runs on fangraphs
Offensively, Winfield seems to have two main advantages: Steals and Home Runs. And while those two things have value, I'm not 100 percent sure that Winfield was necesarily better in regard to the underlying skill of speed.
According to baseball-reference and fangraphs, Winfield was worth 36 runs on the bases and had a speed score of 4.8, compared to Clemente's 21/5.5. Their SB percentages were 70 and 64. Clemente his 166 triples and was routinely among the league leaders. So Winfield stole more, but he wasn't necessarily faster or better on the basepaths than Clemente.
As for the HR's, yeah no way around that.
But there's also no way around the defensive side of it. Winfield was an overrated fielder, and a below-average one at that. Clemente was an excellent fielder, arguably one of the best in the league for most of his career.
So here's what it boils down to IMO
1) As overall hitters, Winfield had a clear advantage due to his home run power, but both players had identical SLG's and nearly identical OBP--even accounting for Winfield's decline phase, his numbers through 37 when Clemente died, .283/.357/481 are still essentially the same
As overall runners, Winfield has a slight advantage, though probably insignificant over careers that long
As fielders, Clemente has a decisive advantage. It's not even close.
So in their overall games, was Winfield really better? IMO, no. Clemente's excellent fielding outweighs the HR's, since most of the other rate stats are similar
We stand corrected.