I have attemtped to rank players by their value above the replacement level player using Pete Palmer's "Total Player Rating" or TPR (it is now actually called BFW for batting wins + fielding wins). This comes from Palmer's "linear weights" method. For example, here are the run values of various events:
Outs have a negative value, usually around -.25. For each player he calculates how many batting runs they had. This has a win value (usually around 10 runs per win). Something similar is done with fielding. He figures out how man runs a player saved compared to the league average as a fielder and this is converted to wins. Both batting runs and fielding runs can be negative. If a player had 20 batting runs that would be 2 batting wins. If he also had -10 fielding runs, that would be about -1 fielding wins. So his TPR or BFW would be 1 for that season. A player can have a negative value for a season. So he would be below average.
But that does not always mean he had no value. He might have still been better than the next best player available (the replacement) who might have been more negative. There is no clear consensus on exactly what the replacement level in TPR is.
So I did two lists. One with a TPR or a BFW of -2 per 700 PAs as replacement level and one with -3. I divided each guy's career PAs by 700. Then I multiplied that times 2 or 3. That result got added to his career TPR to get career value over replacement. For example, in a season with 700 PAs and a TPR of 0, the player is still either 2 or 3 wins better than replacement level. A player with a TPR of 6, which puts you in the top 200 seasons all-time, would be 8 or 9 wins better than replacement.
Suppose a player had 7,000 career PAs. So that is 10 full seasons. If he had a career TPR of 20, his wins above replacement would be 34 or 41. Click here to see the all time rankings through 2004 using -2 BFW as the replacement level. I used everyone that had 2,000 PAs through 2004 (with PAs including just ABs and walks). Click here to see the all time rankings through 2004 using -3 BFW as the replacement level. The players were compiled using the annual listings in BFW from Retrosheet.
Most of the top ranked players will not be a big surprise. Bonds is first followed by Ruth. Two guys in the top 40 using either a -2 or -3 TPR for replacement level that are not in the Hall of Fame are Ron Santo and Bobby Grich. Bill Dahlen, too.