Friday, July 21, 2006

10 Best MLB Players of All-Time

This is something I was thinking about writing for a couple of weeks now, but have just been way too busy to sit down and write it all. But I'll give it a shot here, with my list of the 10 best players ever to play in the MLB. For the purposes of this list, I'm not including Negro League players. Not because none of them could crack the list (I think it's a safe bet that a guy like Oscar Charleston would crack the top 10), but there's just too much unknown.

First, a few that just missed the cut:

- Hank Aaron - remarkably consistent with lots of longevity, I'm sure Hammerin' Hank would appear on a lot of people's top 10 lists. However, I also place a premium on 'peak' or great seasons, which wasn't really what Hank did well (his best year was in 1971, at age 37). So I drop him a little based on peak, but he was incredibly consistent and has great longevity. Oh, and I think he still has some HR record.

- Roger Clemens - In my mind, the 3rd best pitcher ever (you'll see my top 2 later). Longevity? Check. Exceptional seasons? Check. Playing in the best hitter's era ever? Check. He's second all-time in strikeouts, he's always had solid/decent control, and he is still one of the best pitchers in the league even at his age now. If you tried to argue that Roger was the best pitcher ever, I wouldn't put up too much of an argument.

- Stan Musial - Stan "The Man" was another that just missed the cut. He played over 1800 games in the OF and over 1000 games at 1B, winning the MVP 3 times. He was an OBP machine, leading the league there 6 times, and he also led the league in Slugging 6 times. Just a great, all-around player.

But enough of those that missed, let's move on to the Top 10:

10. Barry Bonds - Without a doubt, the hardest player of all to rank because of all the steroid accusations/usage and deciding when/if he was using some type of performance-enhancing drugs. If we could take all of his numbers at face value, I think Bonds would very likely be one of the top 3 players ever (and his 2001-2003 stretch the best 3-year stretch EVER in MLB history). But well, it's hard to do that because of all of the allegations. So I've put him here, at #10. At worst, he was the best player of the 90s, and the best combination of power/speed ever. He's always had a fantastic eye at the plate, and he was routinely 40 HR hitter throughout the 90s (while stealing lots of bases). Even if factoring in potential enhancers, the 2001-2004 stretch numbers are simply mind-boggling. In short, I'd put him higher than 10 rather than lower if I had to, but for now, I'll stick him here.

9. Lefty Grove - The second best pitcher of all-time. His adjusted ERA+ of 148 is 2nd all-time behind one Pedro Martinez (who, by the way, had the best peak of any pitcher ever). He didn't rack up a lot of strikeouts in comparison to other great pitchers, but he did lead the league in that category for 8 straight years. Add it all up, and Lefty is the 2nd best pitcher ever in my book, and 9th overall on my list.

8. Mickey Mantle - Mantle's another guy that's hard to rank, because he had a better peak than a guy like Willie Mays, but he doesn't have the longevity of the guys ahead of him. He was one of the best at getting on base, and he got there at a .421 clip, despite the average being a shade under .300 for his career. He also hit for lots of power, with 536 HR and a .557 SLG. Now, was he as focused on baseball as he maybe should have been, judging from so many stories/rep? Maybe not, but I'm not really qualified to answer that. I do know that when he played, he was one of the best ever.

7. Lou Gehrig - The original Iron Man usually wasn't the best player on his own team, but that's not going to keep him out of the top 10. Gehrig was an absolute hitting machine - he hit for a great average, he had a great eye that allowed him to draw walks, and he hit for power. He's 5th all-time in OBP and 3rd all-time in SLG. Not bad protection for the Babe. Sadly, his career and life was cut short by disease, but by all accounts he was a great man to go along with his great accomplishments on the field.

6. Ted Williams - By all accounts, Williams was probably the best pure hitter ever, as the .406 mark can attest to. But Teddy Ballgame is hard to rank among the other greats, in part because he lost a couple of years of his prime to the war. We know what the numbers might have looked like, but that's not the same thing as him actually doing it. Even so, the accomplishments speak for themselves - he got on base at a clip better than anyone ever to play the game (well, except Eddie Gaedel), and he hit for lots of power to go with it. Sure, he played in a hitter's park, but the numbers are hard to believe. A 1.116 career OPS? That's video-game like. Which is why if you'd put Teddy Ballgame in your top 5, well, I'd be hard-pressed to put up too much disagreement.

5. Walter Johnson - Quite simply, the Big Train is the greatest pitcher to ever take the mound. He has the high win totals (417 - 2nd all-time), the has the K totals (led the league 12 times), and his adjusted ERA+ of 146 is 3rd all-time. He threw almost 6000 innings, which is better than anyone that started their career in the 20th century. Add up the dominance with the longevity, and I'm confident in naming The Big Train the best pitcher ever, and the 5th best player of all-time.

4. Ty Cobb - By all accounts, The Georgia Peach was most of the most irrehensible players to play the game, but also one of the greatest, as I've put him here at 4. His .366 career batting average is the best ever. No, he didn't hit a lot of HR, but then again, neither did anyone else in his time (in 1909 he led the league in HR with 9). But he did hit lots of doubles and triples (2nd all-time in triples), which is why he led the league in SLG % 8 times. Great speed, great physical tools, undeniably one of the top hitters ever... it's possible that I'm underrating him here at #4. But that's where I'll leave him.

3. Honus Wagner - Like Cobb, the hitting stats for "The Flying Dutchman" will be low just because of the era he played in, but we have to get beyond that. He led the league in hitting 8 times in his career, and was also a good power hitter (led league in slugging for 6 years). Also like Cobb, Wagner was a great doubles and triples hitter. In 1908, the worst season for hitters ever, Wagner led the league in BA, OBP and SLG, as well as hits, total bases, doubles, triples, stolen bases and RBI (found here). All while playing SS. Truly one of the greatest ever.

2. Willie Mays - The "Say Hey Kid" may be remembered most for his over-the-shoulder grab deep in the Polo Grounds OF, which is fitting, because it's very likely he's the best defensive CF of all-time (and has the 12 straight GG to back it up). Offensively, he could do some things there as well, as he's still 4th all-time on the HR list with 660. A lot of his overall rate numbers are dragged down by his final few years in the league, where he obviously wasn't quite the same player anymore. But regardless, he's still got the high average and slugging, all the HR, and the defensive prowess, which leaves him at #2 of all-time on my list).

1. Babe Ruth - As if there was any doubt. Ruth was by far the greatest hitter ever, especially in relation to his peers. His adjusted OPS+ of 207 is far and away the best of all-time, 17 points ahead of #2 Ted Williams. We all know he once hit more HR than any other team in the league hit total. But if that wasn't enough proofof The Bambino being the greatest, we must also remeber that he was a very good pitcher. He once led the league in ERA. He never had a losing season Ok, he was really wild on the mound, but that's just nit-picking. Add it all up: Best hitter of all-time + above average pitcher = Greatest MLB player of all-time. Babe Ruth.

28 comments:

Mini Me said...

I wonder where A-Rod will end up on this list. He hit HR # 450 tonight.

twins15 said...

Yeah, it's going to be very interesting. Of course, his chances probably would have been better if he had stayed at SS full-time, but nothing to do about that now. As long he keeps on his current pace, I see nothing that leads me to believe he won't at least merit strong consideration for a top 10 list at the end of his career.

Aaron said...

Ty Cobb was reprehensible. Just FYI :D

(Nice list!)

twins15 said...

Wow... I made up a new word! Nice catch. :D

Bob said...

Take My Poll On Who Is The Best Modern Day Slugger at http:www.freewebs.com/bazeballboy5757

Anonymous said...

Barry Bonds.. best player of the 90's... I'll always be partial to Junior in the 90's. A player so great that I can call him that and people know who he is.

Ive forgotten more than you know said...

Sure some of the players belong on this list, but where's the real greats:

Sandy Koufaux- better than pedro and lefty grove, hell catfish hunter is better than him.

Jimmy Foxx- You wanna talk pure hitters, here's your guy.

Christy Mathewson- Age 20, won 20 games.

Roger Hornsby- Obvious top 10.

Ozzie Smith- The Wizard of Oz should have at least been a missed cut guy.

I could go on, your reasons are cheap and koi. Keeping Hank Aaron out is one thing, Keeping Musial out is another. Get you act together and you might learn something about baseball kid!

twins15 said...

Koufax is not better than Pedro or Grove. He was great, but Pedro's peak is much greater. More dominant seasons in a hitter's ballpark in a hitter's league in a hitter's era. Frankly, as good as Koufax was, Pedro was, at his peak, the most dominating pitcher ever.

Foxx and Musial are great players, no doubt... but the top 10 is a hard list to crack. I don't feel they make it, but I couldn't argue too much if someone thought they did. Ditto for Rogers Hornsby and Hank Aaron. There is no right or wrong answer there.

Ozzie was the best defensive SS ever but his lack of hitting prowess has him nowhere near the top 10. I don't care how great you are defensively, when you're below average at the plate you're nowhere near top 10.

But uh, I'll get on that learning about baseball thing.

Jeff Moore said...

Not even a mention of Joe D? Come on. He had a higher average and slugging percentage than Mantle, averaged more RBIS a season, and was excellent defensively

bello said...

On www.rankopedia.com , Roger Clemens is leading the ranking for "Best MLB pitcher ever".

Josh said...

On www.rankopedia.com, Babe Ruth is number one. Barry Bonds is not even in the top 5 !

ming01 said...

That's not a bad place for Bonds. With or without steroids, Bonds is one of the best players of the modern era. He was heading to the hall of fame long before steroids came into the picture.

Just his patience at the plate, hand-eye cordination, and his ability to see the play happeneing before the pitch is just incredble. I know Bonds took steroids, we all do. But too many peole are discrediting him. Sure he did turn gap hits into long balls. But when all is said and done, Bonds is one of the top 10 players of all time.

Anonymous said...

Ranking Bonds between the five and ten range is reasonable. I think without steroids he would of retired with the same amount of career value as Aaron, with a better peak. Which would make him a top 5-10 player ever. Steroids/Amphetamines enabled him to statistically compare to Ruth. If I made no steroid adjustment, i'd even put him infront of Ruth due to league quality adjustments. The rest of your list is decent, but I wouldn't rank pitchers in my top ten position players. Speaker should also be listed. Gehrig is a better hitter, but Speaker was a better all-around position player. No legit system ranks Gehrig ahead of Tris.

Paul said...

On rankopedia.com, Babe Ruth is 1, Ted Williams 2 and Ty Cobb 3.

Anonymous said...

Your top 10 is a lot like mine, but mine, which reads as follows:

10. Grove (when given credit for stolen years 1921-1924, clearly a better pitcher than Walter Johnson)
9. Wagner (racked up stats in weak league; didn't become SS until late in career; he's one of the all-time greats, for sure, but I think he's overrated)
8. Gehrig
7. Musial
6. Speaker (no demerits here for throwing Game 6 of 1912 World Series)
5. Mantle
4. Williams
3. Cobb
2. Mays
1. (As if there's any doubt....)

Anonymous said...

On Rankopedia, Roberto Clemente and his .359 career OBP, with tons of throwing errors and laughable K/BB ratios, is listed as the #15 player of all time.

He's closer to the #15 right fielder of all time, with at least Ruth, Aaron, Robinson, Ott, Rose, Gwynn, Reggie and Waner ahead of him, and several others probably also ahead of him. I saw all of Clemente's career. He was a very fine player, but any rating list which has him as the #15 all-time total player--and Yaz in the Top 25--is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Anonymous said...

Ty Cobb was the best overall player of all time. The team concept for playing baseball is lost in the HR stats. Ruth's HR totals and SLG % is over rated. HR and SLG % are far less important than RBI, Runs scored Batt. Ave. and OB %. A HR is simply a RBI, Right? Unless the the game is tied in the nineth, the HR is not that exciting to me. I like to see a good team rally, hit-n-run, stolen base, etc. Baseball is a team game. Noone better than Ty Cobb.

Big Show Baseball said...

Good job.

Here's my top 5 HITTERS:

1. Barry Bonds
2. Ted Williams
3. Babe Ruth
4. Ty Cobb
5. Rogers Hornsby

I think Mays, Aaron, Mantle, & DiMaggio are all overrated by baseball fans in general.

Anonymous said...

u guys are all reatarted lol unless arod is on this list.these are me top ten batteers

1-babe ruth
2-a-rod
3-hank aaron
4-milie mays
5-derek jeter
6-mickey mantle
7-Lou Gehrig
8-honus wagner
9-Albert pujols
10-josh hamilton

ya take that for ur list serius barry bonds anybody that takes roids which he did please 75 homers in ne year are u serious dou hear his bitchy voice aiy please

Anonymous said...

you guys are missing a couple people. 1st A-rod should deffinetly b on dis list. put him any number u want for now but he will be by the time he finishes his career possibly the best player ever in the game, heres my list. for 15yrs over.

HITTERS

10.ma dick lol
9. lou gherig
8. albert pujols
7. derek jeter
6.ken Griffey jr.
5.Mantle
4.Jesus Ventura
3.Babe Ruth
2.A-Rod
1.Kevin Ramirez (besT Ever)

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Anonymous said...

this totally wrong ty cobb should have been first he has the highest lifetime batting avergae ever it will never be broken plus he even said quote "anybody can hit home runs but a truly good player can hit a ball and get on base every time"

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