Tim McCarver just declared, during the broadcast, that Roberto Clemente was "probably the greatest defensive rightfielder in the history of the game."
Now, was Clemente a great defensive outfielder? Sure. Absolutely. No question.
But the greatest in the history of the game? What is McCarver basing that on?
Was Clemente better defensively than Sam Rice? Than Dwight Evans? Than Al Kaline? Paul Waner? Lloyd Waner? Zach Wheat? Carl Furillo? Ichiro? Jesse Barfield?
All those guys had reputations for being great defensive rightfielders. If you look at Win Shares, all those players have defensive Win Share rates that are similar to, or better than, Clemente's.
So why should McCarver declare Clemente the best ever? Because 1) McCarver was a contemporary of Clemente's, 2) Clemente died tragically, which heightened his reputation in retrospect, and 3) Clemente had just come up in conversation.
I guess I shouldn't care about these sorts of things. But it frustrates me when you have a color man just throwing out casual absolutisms without any support.
There's no one player you can realistically point to as being "probably the best defensive rightfielder in the history of the game." I just wish McCarver, and others of his ilk, could just say, in a situation like that, that a player is one of the greatest, and leave it alone, rather than engaging in hyperbole.
It is like Joe Morgan saying the other day that Craig Monroe is going to be a star, and the question is just how great he's going to end up being...it kills any credibility they might have...