Monday, May 05, 2008

Top 100 Baseball Players of All-Time

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--Jake (2/27/21)

Two years ago, I put together the 50 best players in history for each of the four major sports. That was a daunting and time consuming task but I was fairly happy with the results. As time moved along, it started to bother me more and more that I didn’t have a “top 100” so I’ve spent the last six months or so working on that. For the most part, the players rated in my original "top 50" stayed in the same spots with a few exceptions. There was limited player movement that mostly involved active players. Also, there were a few instances where a player moved into the top 50 who was previously left out two years ago. Please read the following before moving on to the list… 1). It is important to know why and how I chose to rate active players. A list like this isn’t nearly as fun or accurate if we just pretend active players don’t exist. The way I rated active players is simple. I considered their accomplishments up to this point and then assumed a healthy, reasonable, finish to their careers. 2). None of the rankings are arbitrary or without multiple rationalizations. If you would like a clarification, feel free to ask. I’d be happy to rationalize a ranking. 3). It is not uncommon for sports fans to discount current players with respect to history because a). present-day players don’t have the luxury of accumulating gaudy statistics and award-counts against weak competition and b). their most cherished memories are from childhood so there is an inherent preference towards players from earlier generations. I can understand why the overrating occurs but, at the same time, I’m not going to do it here. 4). These lists are based on the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL. I would love to have the insight to include players from international leagues. The same goes for the Negro Leagues. Instead of pretending to know more than I do, I only chose to rate players who did their work in the four major leagues. 5). First and last names for each player have different links. First names link to Wikipedia-entries and last names link to career-stats. 6). For more information, click here. It’s my criterion from the original "Top 50." It’s basically the same with more boring detail. Top 100 Baseball Players of All-Time 1) Babe Ruth Ruth is number one by a long shot in terms of offensive numbers. I can't rationalize putting anyone else in this position. He was a fantastic pitcher to go along with being the "Sultan of Swat". He also revolutionized the game by hitting more home runs than any other team in the American League in 1920. Had the MVP been alive in its current format during Ruth's career, he likely would've won at least nine MVPs. 2) Ted Williams Williams missed close to five years of his prime serving in two different wars. His numbers would have been through the roof (as if they aren't already) had he not missed those seasons. He may have been the best "pure" hitter in baseball history. The only other players to hold a candle to Williams in terms of hitting played in the hitter-friendly era of the early 1900's. I don't think there is a legitimate reason to rate Williams ahead of Ruth even with the missed time in WWII. Williams never won a World Series. He also didn't have the presence on the base paths as someone like Ty Cobb or Willie Mays. Williams' career OPS+ of 190 is considerably higher than anyone other than Ruth. 3) Ty Cobb Ty Cobb was the first superstar of the 20th century. He was a nasty man but a brilliant ballplayer. Nobody hit better. Nobody ran the bases better. Cobb may have been the best player ever. It's difficult to tell because he played in the dead-ball era while Ruth and Williams likely benefited from playing after the dead-ball era had ended. Cobb's all-around play may merit the number one slot but Ruth and Williams have numbers that are just unfathomable. Also, from reading about Cobb's exploits in various books, it seems as though the overall lack of defensive skill (at least compared to later times) in his day helped him tremendously on the base paths and various other areas. I can't see a good reason to rate Cobb lower than third though. 4) Willie Mays Willie Mays is most likely the best all-around centerfield in baseball history. He finished in the top six of the MVP voting in 12 of 13 seasons between 1954 and 1966. I doubt we will ever see that kind of consistency again. Some people believe Willie Mays was the best baseball player ever. It's hard to know just how much of an impact his defense had. It's possible that his defensive superiority merits a higher ranking. Mays was not as good of a hitter as some people believe. He was a great hitter no doubt. But, he was nowhere near Ruth, Williams, Cobb or many of the other players lower on the list. His positioning on any list will undoubtedly be affected by the rater's emphasis on defense. While Mays was an amazing defensive outfielder, I don't think that makes up for the substantial difference in run production. 5) Barry Bonds * Yep, that's an asterisk next to Bonds' name. You'll find one next to Roger Clemens' name as well. I think it's appropriate because they are the only two players of the top 50 who most certainly took steroids. We'll just have to wait on A-Rod. If I rate Bonds by his pre-giant head numbers, he wouldn't rate anywhere near number five on the list. Remember, before Bonds decided to "juice-up", there was a difficult debate in MLB as to who was better--Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. That debate seems ludicrous now, mostly because Griffey didn't take steroids. Bonds' numbers (with steroids) are off the chart. There is no comparison to him over the last 70 years. Only Ruth's numbers stand up. Bonds isn't rated higher because he only put up Ruth-like numbers for a few years. This is probably the biggest reason why I despise Bonds's steroid-use. There's no telling how high some of the other players would've rated on this list had they juiced-up too. I've compromised by giving Bonds credit for the numbers that he put up but including the dreaded asterisk. 6) Roger Clemens * For those of you familiar with my site, you probably remember the article I wrote about Clemens being the best pitcher ever. Nobody has sustained brilliance in a more difficult era and for a longer time than Clemens. Even in his mid-40s he was still piling up sub 3.00 ERA seasons like they're a trip to McDonald's. One of the themes of my top 50 lists is to accurately rate players on their careers and not on how people perceive them. Historical players almost always get rated higher just because their names have become legendary. People like to hold on to childhood beliefs and the notion that things were just better a long time ago. That defies reason. At some point, people have to be willing to acknowledge that certain contemporary players might be better than those heroes. Clemens is a perfect example. In some people's minds, it is blasphemy to say that Clemens is/was better than Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Cy Young, or even Tom Seaver. I've tried to eliminate any advantage to players from different eras based solely on legend or lore. It's possible that Clemens should rate even higher on this list. Are there really five batters better than the best pitcher ever? That's a tough call. Now that we know that Clemens took performance-enhancing drugs, his legacy is destined to be the same as Barry Bonds's. 7) Walter Johnson There is some debate as to whether Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove was the better pitcher. I don't think this debate holds much weight. Johnson pitched much longer and had equally brilliant numbers. Johnson shows up one spot behind Clemens since both had similarly dominating careers. I give the edge to Clemens but Johnson is a close second. 8) Lou Gehrig Gehrig was overshadowed by the Great Bambino (The Babe) and rightfully so. Unfortunately, I don't think people realize just how awesome Gehrig was. He ranks third all-time in Runs Created (RC) per nine innings. He ranks third all-time in OPS. He ranks third all-time in OPS +. Gehrig's career was a little shorter than the players above him on this list due to an unfortunate disease that was later named after him. I don't see how he could be rated any lower than number eight considering how superior his numbers are to everyone lower on the list. 9) Lefty Grove The argument for anyone who says that Grove is one of the top two pitchers of all-time is based on his performance compared to his contemporaries. The argument is pretty compelling, too. There isn't another pitcher on this list that played during the same time frame as Grove which might make Grove's numbers compared to the league average better than someone who pitched in a more competitive era like Clemens or Johnson. At this point, I have a decision to make. Do I conclude that Grove was just that much better than everyone else because he was so good, or do I conclude that Grove had the good fortune of pitching during a time when the pitching was at one of the weakest points in MLB history? I can't say I know enough to be certain about my choice but if you look at other pitchers during that era, the numbers aren't pretty. Grove also deserves credit for pitching during a league-wide offensive explosion and being the only guy who seemingly adapted to that explosion. 10) Stan Musial The "Man" has some awesome career numbers. They would have been even better if he hadn't missed a full season due to WWII. However, Musial is pretty far behind Gehrig's offensive numbers in terms of averages. He also is far enough ahead of DiMaggio's numbers to the point where I couldn't rate Musial any higher or any lower. 11) Joe DiMaggio This is the first instance when a player was rated higher than their actual stats merited because of missed time in the service. DiMaggio missed three prime years. He won two MVP's before he served and one MVP after he served. It stands to reason that DiMaggio's best baseball years were probably spent in Europe. DiMaggio was as brilliant in the field as he was with his bat. He also had the misfortune of playing in a "nightmare" park for right-handed batters. The left-field fence at Yankees stadium back then was 457 feet! I am not convinced that Willie Mays was a) a better defensive centerfielder, b) a better hitter and c) a better all-around player. Even if DiMaggio hadn't missed three years, his career totals would have come up considerably short to Mays since Mays played 22 seasons. It bothers me that I have rated DiMaggio so low on this list but I can't rationalize rating him higher because of his relatively short career. 12) Christy Mathewson Mathewson doesn't get a lot of "love" from baseball historians. By that, I mean that he's usually rated lower than Seaver. However, I think Mathewson was actually better than that. He pitched 800 more innings than Grove with a significantly better WHIP and Batting Average Against. Seaver's ERA+ is a paltry 127 which should keep him out of anybody's top five. 13) Rogers Hornsby Hornsby could be rated higher on this list and I probably wouldn't complain too much. The main reason why I have him rated lower than his numbers might merit is because unlike Cobb, he played in the boomin' 20's when offense was to baseball as pizza is to my diet. His averages are fantastic but he clearly should be rated lower than Ruth and Gehrig in his era alone not to mention other eras. I am comfortable with Hornsby at number 13. 14) Cy Young Cy Young is probably the most famous pitcher of all-time but I'm almost certain that he wasn't the best. In fact, I'm almost certain that he wasn't anywhere near what his numbers might indicate. Young's career stats rate favorably to Mathewson's. However, Young's competition was considerably worse. I rated Mathewson higher because I think if Mathewson played when Young played and for the same duration, his number's would be better than Young's. There weren't even two leagues for the majority of Young's career. He should be recognized for being one of the pioneers of pitching but his numbers should be taken into context. I would not be against rating him lower but his lengthy career and unreachable records count for something. 15) Jimmie Foxx Foxx was an animal at the plate. His career averages are blistering. I had to rate Hornsby higher due to OPS+, career batting average, and defensive skills but it was a tough decision. 16) Mickey Mantle Mantle is difficult to rate for a number of reasons. His career was relatively short compared to the other players on this list. He is remembered by many as being a superb ballplayer. The problem is that his numbers don't stack up to the players above him. He may have gone down as one of the top five players of all time if it weren't for knee problems. He won three MVP awards which puts him in elite company. He also finished second three other times. I would not argue too much if Mantle was placed just behind DiMaggio but I can't rationalize putting him any higher than that. Foxx equaled Mantle's three MVP awards and had much better career marks. 17) Tris Speaker Just by looking at Speaker's numbers, it would be easy to conclude that he should be rated higher on the list. Unfortunately, the players above him have even more impressive resumes. The primary reasons for not rating Speaker higher are his OPS+ and Runs Created compared to the players above him. He falls behind everyone above him in both categories with the exception of DiMaggio in OPS+ and Mays in OPS+ and Runs Created. Mantle's three MVP's (and three second place finishes) gives him the slight nod over Speaker. 18) Randy Johnson Baseball fans alive today have had the luxury of watching four of the greatest pitchers in MLB history. Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez are all among the top twelve pitchers in baseball history. I think Clemens is the best of the bunch although Maddux and Johnson are very close. Johnson is my next choice among the four. In his prime, Johnson was as good as anyone. Maddux was a fantastic pitcher but Johnson had two things that Maddux didn't have; a 100+ MPH fastball and a 6'10 intimidating frame. I believe those two factors are what allowed Johnson to have more top-end seasons. He also happened to be virtually un-hittable to left handed-batters. If I had to choose one of the two in their prime for a big game, I would take Johnson and not look back. 19) Honus Wagner Compared to other lists, I may have criminally underrated Wagner. I would rather talk about the fantastic attributes that made Wagner one of the best players ever but I would also like to rationalize why he isn't rated higher. Wagner and Cobb played at the same time. Wagner's numbers pale in comparison to Cobb's. It also appears as though Speaker had a better career. Wagner also played in the National League which didn't have nearly the star power as the American League. 20) Greg Maddux Maddux is one of my all-time favorite players. I still don't understand how a player who throws 92 can dominate the most competitive era in MLB history. His numbers almost look made up. Here are some of his single season ERA+ numbers; 166, 171, 273, 259, 162, 191, and 191. The only thing missing from Maddux' repertoire was a 96 mph+ fastball. 21) Hank Aaron When I was younger, I just assumed that being the all-time home run leader meant being one of top two or three players ever. I've since realized that there is much more to baseball than hitting home runs and playing 20+ seasons. Aaron's career stats benefited immensely from playing 23 seasons. He was consistently very good. His OPS+ and Runs Created numbers are a bit underwhelming at least for the Home Run King. Being one of the top 21 players of all-time is no put down. Hammerin' Hank is a legend. Few players in baseball history have matched his brilliance over time. 22) Pete Alexander Alexander rated much higher on my list initially. It is hard for me to believe that so many pitchers from the same era rate among the top pitchers of all-time so Pete takes a bit of a hit there. There is no question that Alexander's numbers are phenomenal. Even more impressive is the fact that a) he missed a full season serving in WWI and b) suffered shell shock, hearing loss, and seizures due to war related injuries. Alexander was also a noted drunk. The fact that Alexander was able to put up such astounding numbers while being an injured drunk does lend some credence to the fact that Alexander may have pitched in a pitcher-friendly era. Nonetheless, he was one of the all-time greats. 23) Albert Pujols Would anyone take a bet against Pujols eventually rating in the top ten on the all-time list by the time his career is over? I certainly wouldn't. After seven seasons, Pujols is on pace to destroy countless records. He has only finished outside of the top three in the MVP voting once. He is already the best offensive player that I have ever seen. The only thing that could derail Pujols's legacy is a Bonds-like scandal. 24) Alex Rodriguez* A-Rod's postseason slumps don't diminish the fact that he has been one of the premier players in MLB. Pujols and Ramirez have been much better over their careers in terms of run production although A-Rod probably has an advantage on the defensive side despite his 2006 struggles in the field. Rodriguez is probably on his way to Hank Aaron type numbers. The thing that sets him apart, though, is the fact that he has played the majority of his career at shortstop. He is by far the most productive shortstop in MLB history. 25) Mel Ott Ott was no joke. His numbers are very comparable to Aaron's but Aaron finished in the top three of the MVP voting seven times. Ott did it once. 26) Hank Greenberg Hank Greenberg might be the most underrated baseball player of all-time. He missed four seasons in his prime while he served in WWII. His second season after returning from service produced 44 HR's and 127 RBI's. In the short time that he actually did play baseball, he won two MVP awards (and finished third two other times.). He hit 58 home runs in a season and also drove in 183 RBI's in a single season. No player in MLB history had his career affected by serving in a war more than Greenberg. 27) Warren Spahn I had a hard time rating Warren Spahn. I initially had him rated much lower and then I had him rated even higher. The problem I have with placing Spahn higher is that his career ERA+ is the second worst of the pitchers of the top 50. His ERA+ is nowhere near the players above him on the list. But, Spahn missed three full seasons because of WWII. Had he not missed those seasons, Spahn would have only been the third pitcher in baseball history to reach 400 wins. As good as Spahn was, his per season averages just don't match up to Maddux or any of the other pitchers above him on the list. 28) Tom Seaver There are a lot of people who think that Seaver is the best pitcher in baseball history. I don't see it. Granted, I didn't get a chance to watch him pitch. At the same time, Bill James has never seen half of the players he writes about play. That doesn't mean that James doesn't know what he's talking about or that I can't put Seaver's career in perspective or accurately rate him based on his career numbers and the era that he attained them in. This isn't a perfect list because no such list exists. But, based on Seaver's stats, he is nowhere near the best pitcher of all-time. His ERA+ is pedestrian compared to the pitchers above him. To his credit, he suffered from a ridiculous lack of run support. He also played his entire career for bad teams. According to Bill James, Seaver accounted for more of his team's wins than most of the other "great" pitchers in baseball history. I would expect the same statistic to be true if Walter Johnson or Roger Clemens pitched their whole careers for bad teams too. Seaver was very good but his place as a big-time fan favorite probably precedes his statistics. There's nothing wrong with that, either. 29) Frank Robinson Robinson's career is along the same line as Hammerin' Hank's career. Both put up big-time numbers over long and productive careers. Aaron's numbers are just a little bit better across the board. 30) Bob Feller Feller's career numbers were affected just as much as Hank Greenberg's due to WWII. He missed 3.5 seasons in his prime serving overseas. His career numbers don't jump off the page but that shouldn't diminish just how good Feller was. In each of the three seasons before he entered the service, he finished in the top three in the MVP voting as a pitcher. 31) Joe Jackson Shoeless Joe Jackson was the most difficult player to rate. His career was cut short by a lifetime ban from MLB. Before the ban, Jackson's numbers were unbelievable. His last season was in 1920 at the age of 30 when he hit .382! I didn't knock Jackson down any spots for the lifetime ban in the same sense that I didn't punish Bonds. However, I did move Jackson down for not having a complete career. Most players perform well during their prime and then drop off significantly as they age. Jackson never had to go through that so his career numbers are preserved from his prime. That is a luxury that 99% of baseball players don't have. Jackson was great. There is no question about that. It's a shame that we don't have a full career to compare to the other greats to see just how great he was. 32) Pedro Martinez I mentioned above that Lefty Grove has the highest ERA+ of all players in MLB history that aren't active today. I had to throw in that last part because Pedro Martinez is far and way the best in that category. At 160, Martinez is 12 points ahead of Grove (who is second on the list). Just to put that in perspective, there are ten players on this list that are within 18 points of Grove for second place. The problem with Martinez is that he physically breaks down far too much to be considered reliable. The Boston Red Sox were so tired of his injuries that they just let him go. For a pitcher that has some of the most mind-boggling stats in MLB history, that speaks volumes. Nonetheless, his numbers are brilliant. When Martinez was on and healthy, he may have been the most dominating pitcher ever. 33) Ed Walsh These next two guys were difficult to judge. Walsh and Mordecai Brown don't get a lot of publicity. But, their numbers are hard to ignore. Walsh holds the lowest career ERA in MLB history. Walsh also owns the second best career WHIP in MLB history. His career was short which keeps him from gaining much recognition. He was an early version of Sandy Koufax. Walsh's numbers are better across the board. It is true that Koufax won three Cy Young awards but the award did not exist when Walsh pitched. 34) Mordecai Brown I had a hard time differentiating between Walsh and Brown. Their numbers are comparable. Brown pitched a little bit longer but Walsh's ERA+ is quite a bit higher. His WHIP and Batting Average Against are also a bit better. 35) Manny Ramirez* I have a feeling that my ranking of Ramirez will surprise some people. He may not be the most likeable or athletic baseball player but there is no denying his dominance. His reputation has kept him from receiving individual awards and accolades but his numbers clearly deserve that sort of consideration. Ramirez may go down as the only player in MLB history with 600+ home runs, 3,000 hits and a .310+ batting average. His career OPS of 1.0027 ranks 10th in MLB history. When it's all said and done, Ramirez should rank higher than Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson on the all-time list. 36) Nap Lajoie Lajoie was a very good second-baseman. In fact, he is probably the second best second baseman in MLB history behind Rogers Hornsby. His numbers fall short of what Cobb and Wagner were able to accomplish but he was in the same mold as those players. 37) Mike Schmidt The 1980's provided an underwhelming lack of offense which likely causes stars from that decade to be underrated. Schmidt hit a paltry .267 over his career which doesn't sound like a guy who is the 36th best player ever. Schmidt was much better than his batting average would indicate. He won three MVP awards and ten Gold Gloves. He was, in all likelihood, the best hitter of the 80's. 38) Jim Palmer Palmer was much like Schmidt. His career numbers don't look phenomenal but he won three Cy Young awards. 39) Vladimir Guerrero If it weren't for nagging injuries, Guerrero would rate much higher on the list. He started his career as the "perfect" five tool player. He could hit for power and average. He could run the bases and play defense. He probably still has the best outfield arm of his era. He continues to put up big-time numbers but he has likely peaked a little short of what he could have been. Still, Guerrero is a brilliant player who may end up being the best all-around player of his time. 40) Ken Griffey Jr. Talk about a player who would've ended up higher if it weren't for injuries! Griffey is the poster-child for that claim. He was on pace to crush the all-time home run record. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. Still, Griffey's offense/defense combination makes him one of the best players to play the game. Few centerfielders can claim to be better. He may not finish his career as one of the top ten players, but that doesn't mean he isn't among the best ever. 41) Eddie Collins Collins didn't make my first draft for the top 50 but I think it would have been a mistake to keep him off. His numbers are just a step below Cobb, Wagner, and Lajoie but impressive nonetheless. 42) Yogi Berra I had a difficult time ranking the top two catchers in order. Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench are almost universally thought of as the two best catchers ever and for good reason. Both led their organizations to many championships. Their offensive numbers are virtually identical. Both catchers "revolutionized" the position in their own way. I gave Berra the nod simply because he won three MVP awards and finished in the top three of the voting six times. Bench won two MVP awards and finished in the top three two times. 43) Johnny Bench Bench is the modern day "bench"-mark for catchers. He is the man by which all great defensive catchers are judged. 44) Sandy Koufax No player in MLB starts more arguments than Koufax. Some swear he is the greatest pitcher who ever lived. Others think he is overrated. Most understand that Koufax's legacy is more complicated than that. There is no question that he is one of the most dominating pitchers in MLB history. He dominated the regular season on his way to three Cy Young Awards and he dominated the post-season by winning two World Series MVPs while leading the Dodges to three World Series Championships. His six-year run from 1961-1966 stands as one of the greatest pitching runs the league has ever seen. However, Koufax only pitched 2,300+ innings. For comparison's sake, Greg Maddux has pitched 4,800+ innings. Plus, Randy Johnson had an even better six-year stretch from '97-'02. Koufax was very, very good. In fact, he may have had the best three-year run of all-time. However, his relatively short career has to be put into context. 45) Carl Hubbell It's difficult to compare a pitcher like Hubbell to a pitcher with 27-years of statistics like Nolan Ryan. Their careers could not be more different. Hubbell's career wasn't particularly long but he pitched at a remarkable level. Hubbell won two MVP awards as a pitcher. No pitcher has won more. Hubbell was easily the best player in the 1933 World Series in which he led the New York Giants to the championship. In just two starts, he went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 20 innings. His first start was a complete game nine-inning shutout. The second was an eleven-inning, complete game-gem. Hubbell led the league in wins three times, ERA three times, WHIP six times, and SO to BB ratio five times. Curt Schilling is the modern-day Hubbell. 46) Eddie Plank Plank didn't rate all that high on The Sporting News' Top 100. He came in at #68. The only problem I have with that is how Plank compares to Steve Carlton who rated at #30 on that same list. Plank was equal to or better than Carlton in almost every significant category. Plank beat Seaver in ERA+ 122-115. Plank had a better career ERA. He had a better WHIP. His winning percentage was significantly better. Both had virtually the same amount of wins (Carlton 329-326) and same Batting Average Against (Plank .239 to .240). Carlton gets a lot of publicity for winning four Cy Young Awards but that award didn't exist when Plank was pitching. It's also important to note that outside of his four Cy Young seasons, Carlton was merely an average pitcher at best. Even with those four seasons, his career ERA+ is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, of any Hall of Fame pitcher. 47) Steve Carlton The above argument aside, Carlton was a very good pitcher in certain seasons. Plank's numbers are pretty much better across the board but it's not by a significant amount. These two have comparable numbers but I can't see any reason to rank Carlton ahead of Plank. In fact, Carlton's numbers aren't much better than Tom Glavine's. At this point on the list, players are separated by a razor-thin margin. Had Carlton only won two Cy Young Awards, he may have been out of the top 75. 48) Bob Gibson Bob Gibson is probably remembered as being better than he actually was. That's not to say that Gibson wasn't good. He just isn't anywhere near the top ten pitchers of all-time. He has a number of things working against him. First, his career was relatively short. He only won 251 games. Second, he had one unbelievable season surrounded by a number of good seasons. His career ERA+ of 127 shows evidence of that. Third, his career winning percentage is unremarkably low at .591. 49) Frank Thomas As hard as I tried, I could not keep the "Big Hurt" out of the top 50. In fact, his offensive numbers are probably so good that I have underrated him at #49. As weird as it is to see his name here, his career OPS is 12th all-time at .9789. He won two MVP awards and finished in the top three five times. He will likely become only the seventh player in MLB history to hit for 500+ home runs and have a batting average of .300+. He was a decent fielder early on but injuries have relegated him to DH status in recent years. 50) Mariano Rivera I don't usually give a whole lot of credit to closers. I fully understand that their jobs are stressful and their roles are often vital. However, I tend to think of closers as starters who couldn't make it. It is for that reason that I generally wouldn't rate a closer anywhere near one of the top twenty pitchers of all-time. But, I think in this instance, there needs to be an exception. Mariano Rivera is not only the best closer of all-time, but he is one of the best playoff performers at any position in MLB history. As a reliever, Rivera has finished in the top three of the Cy Young voting four times. His career ERA+ is 200. His career WHIP is 1.00. His career ERA is 2.29. His post-season ERA is .80 in 112+ innings. He's also 8-1 with 34 saves in those 112 innings. During Rivera's tenure, the Yankees have gone to six World Series and won four. There is no doubt in my mind that he needs to be on this list. 51) Reggie Jackson Reggie beats out Harmon Killebrew by the slimmest of margins. Killebrew had a slightly better OPS+ (143-139). Both finished in the top five of the MVP Voting numerous times. Both won one MVP Award. Killebrew walked more and struck-out less. Their numbers are very difficult to differentiate. The big difference, though, is Reggie's October heroics. He won two World Series MVPs. He was a part of five World Series-winning teams. He hit .357 with 10 home runs in 98 World Series-at bats. Killebrew only made it to one World Series and ended up on the losing end. 52) Harmon Killebrew At first glance, Killebrew does not seem impressive enough to rate this high. A closer look, though, reveals that he very much deserves to be rated at 52, if not higher. He finished in the top four of the AL MVP voting an incredible six times. He also led the AL in home runs six times. Only Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt, and Ralph Kiner have done it more. He hit 40+ home runs eight times in his career and drove in 100+ RBIs ten times. Killebrew is 9th on the all-time home run list and 14th on the all-time walks list. He won the 1969 AL MVP Award and garnered 11 All-Star selections. Killebrew had the unfortunate chore of playing through one of the most difficult eras in MLB history. The 60s were notoriously tough on hitters producing a league batting average of .259. It's important to judge Killebrew against his peers rather than raw numbers versus other eras. It is only then that Killebrew’s impressive accomplishments can be truly appreciated. 53) Carl Yastrzemski If you took Yaz's career numbers at face value, he might not be a top 55 player. But, it is important to remember that he played during the 60's and 70's when hitters were at a tremendous disadvantage as a result of rules favoring pitchers. Yaz won an MVP award, was the last player to hit for the Triple Crown in either league, appeared in 18 All-Star games, and won seven Gold Gloves. He was one of the best all-around players of the 60's and 70's. 54) Mark McGwire* It's important to note that McGwire is being rated on his baseball accomplishments only. Most people believe he took steroids so however you want to adjust his legacy is up to you. For this list, though, I'm simply judging his baseball career. McGwire doesn't have the MVP finishes that Jackson and Killebrew have and he didn't play nearly as long. Jackson had almost 4,000 more at-bats while Killebrew had 2,000 more at-bats. Still, McGwire's best seasons were unbelievable. He hit 50+ home runs in four consecutive seasons. Nobody has had fewer at-bats per home run in MLB history. His OPS+ is an astounding 162 which is 12th on the all-time list. He's 9th on the all-time list for slugging percentage. He's 8th on the all-time home run list. McGwire's career wasn't as long as some of the other sluggers but he was easily one of the most feared hitters in MLB history. 55) Pete Rose I initially had Rose lower but despite not being a great run-producer, his career is truly worthy of this position. I simply needed to follow my own advice about judging Killebrew by his performance relative to his peers to come to that conclusion. Rose finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting 10 times. He is the all-time hits leader. He is 6th on the runs-list. He is 2nd on the doubles-list. His BB:K ratio was truly phenomenal. He walked 1,566 to 1,143 strike outs. He was also the NL MVP in '73 and the World Series MVP in 75. He was a part of three World Series-winning teams and played in six World Series all together. I can't rate Rose much higher than this because his OPS+ is pretty low at 118 and his Runs Created per game is also underwhelming. Nonetheless, Rose's career was fantastic. 56) Joe Morgan Joe Morgan probably doesn't have one of the top 60 most impressive career resumes based only on numbers. He only hit .271 for his career. However, during his peak years, Morgan was one of the best players in baseball. He won back to back MVP awards in 1975 and 1976. He had a lofty career OBP of .392. He played marvelously in the field as a second-baseman. He also helped his team win two World Series Championships. Morgan is probably the best second-baseman of the last fifty years. 57) Rickey Henderson The same things that made Rose's career great made Henderson's career great. Henderson has the distinction of being regarded as the greatest leadoff hitter in MLB history. He is the all-time leader in runs and stolen bases. He is 2nd all-time in walks. He won the '90 AL MVP and hit .339 in three World Series appearances. Henderson's OPS+ and RC/G are better than Rose's but Rose's longevity gives him a slight edge over Rickey. 58) George Brett By just about any measure, George Brett had a great career. He finished with a career OPS+ of 135. He won an MVP Award and finished runner-up twice. He walked more than he struck out. He is 15th on the all-time hits-list, 6th on the all-time doubles-list, 22nd in Runs Created, and 16th in Total Bases. He hit .390 with an OPS+ of 203 in 1980. In 166 postseason at-bats, he hit .337 with an OPS of 1.024. Brett was to the American League in the 80s as Mike Schmidt was to the National League. Schmidt has the advantage in most statistical comparisons over Brett which is why he's ranked higher on the list. 59) Roy Campanella I had a difficult time rating Campanella's career. He is the hitter-equivalent of Sandy Koufax. Campanella only reached 400+ at-bats in a season six times and only played in more than 130 games in a season twice in his short 10-year career. However, nobody made more out of a 10-year career in MLB history than Campanella. All told, Campanella won three MVPs. Only Barry Bonds has won more. He led the Dodgers to five World Series appearances in eight years. His career tragically ended in 1958 when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident. Campanella's substantial impact would've been even greater had African-American's not been barred from MLB until 1947. Campanella played 11 seasons in the Negro Leagues before being allowed to play in MLB. 60) Jackie Robinson In many ways, Robinson and Campanella's careers mirrored each other. Both players started their careers in the Negro Leagues. Both paved the way for future African Americans in the sport. Both were picked up by the Dodgers. Both played 10 seasons. Robinson played from 1947-1956. Campanella played from 1948-1957. Robinson was a dynamic player who stunned the league with his speed and hitting prowess. He won the NL MVP in 1949. A modern-day parallel to Robinson in terms of style of play is Ichiro. Both turned 28 the year they came to the majors. Like Robinson, Ichiro's speed/hitting combination was something MLB hadn't seen in a number of years. I rated Campanella just ahead of Robinson because of his 3 to 1 advantage in MVPs. 61) Whitey Ford Ford is a guy who snuck up on me in compiling this list. The more I looked at his career, the more I couldn't rationalize keeping him below 65. No pitcher in MLB history has a higher winning percentage than Ford (min. 3,000 innings). His percentage stands at a whopping .690. He pitched in 11 World Series. In 1961, he won the Cy Young Award and the World Series MVP. Ford was The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year three times. He led the AL in wins three times. His ERA+ is 10th all-time (min. 3,000 innings) among pitchers who pitched after 1900. It's no coincidence that the nine pitchers ahead of him on that list are also ahead of him on this list. I may have even underrated Ford at 61. He didn't come close to 300 wins which is, of course, the "magic" mark for pitchers. Still, Ford has few equals among pitchers in MLB history. 62) Willie Stargell There seems to be a belief among baseball experts that Willie McCovey was a better player. McCovey and Stargell had very similar careers. Remarkably, both sport an OPS+ of 147 which is outstanding. Both men won MVPs--Stargell in '79; McCovey in '69. I think McCovey's profile was elevated because he hit the "500 home run" mark and at the time of his retirement, he was 8th on the all-time home run-list. Stargell ended up with 475. McCovey was a great player but "Pops" had a slightly more distinguishing career. He finished second in the MVP voting twice barely losing to Pete Rose in '73. He also finished third in '72. He placed in the top ten of the MVP Voting seven times. McCovey had no second place finishes and finished in the top ten of the MVP Voting four times. Based on regular season accomplishments, I think "Pops" gets the slight edge over McCovey. However, when his post-season accolades are factored in, I think he begins to separate himself a bit more from McCovey. Stargell had one of the greatest all-around seasons in baseball history--at least in terms of importance--in '79. He won the NL MVP, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP. No player in the history of baseball has duplicated that feat. I believe Stargell is one of the most underrated players to play the game. His accomplishments are outstanding even considering the fact that he played in a park where centerfield was 462'! 63) Al Kaline Kaline never won an MVP of any kind but it's impossible to look at his career numbers without being impressed. He finished in the top ten of the MVP Voting a whopping nine times. He easily could've won the MVP in '55 and '63 as he posted more impressive numbers than the winners on both occasions. Kaline is in the top 40 all-time in Runs, RBIs, and Walks. He is a member of the 3,000-hit club and boasts more walks than strike outs. Kaline won 10 Gold Gloves and made 15 All-Star teams. Kaline was easily the Tigers best hitter in the '68 World Series and would've won the World Series MVP if it weren't for Mickey Lolich's brilliant pitching performance. 64) Curt Schilling Schilling is a polarizing figure. I've come to the conclusion that you either love him or hate him. I don't have a problem with the people who dislike him. To each his own. However, disliking him and not giving him his proper due are two totally different things. Schilling is a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer who has carved out a legacy that few pitchers in MLB history can touch. In a lot of ways, Schilling's career can be compared to Willie Stargell's. Both had successful careers but didn't reach the big benchmarks like 500 home runs or 300 wins. Both were Hall-of-Famers based on their regular season totals alone but both dominated when it came time for the post-season. Other than Sandy Koufax, Schilling might be the greatest post-season pitcher in MLB history. He won the World Series MVP in 2001 and the NLCS MVP in 1993. He has led his teams to three World Series Championships in four tries. In 21 career post-season starts, Schilling is 12-2 with a 2.45 ERA. In eight World Series starts, Schilling is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA. His regular season success has also been substantial. He was The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in '01 and '02. He fanned 300+ in three different seasons. He led the league in wins twice reaching at least 21 wins in three different seasons. Most people probably aren't aware of this but Schilling also has the best SO to BB ratio in modern MLB history. The only thing missing from Schilling's trophy case is a Cy Young Award. He finished runner-up in '01, '02, and '04. Schilling had the misfortune of having his best seasons when Randy Johnson was having quite possibly the greatest run that any pitcher has had in history. It's easy to dismiss Schilling in an era dominated by Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez. I'm not going to suggest Schilling deserves to be in their class but he deserves to be recognized as one of the greats. 65) Gary Sheffield* There are going to be a number of players on this list that some baseball fans don't understand how good their careers have been. Sheffield is one such player. Barring injury, Sheff will reach 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He'll also likely top 1,700 runs and RBIs. His OPS+ is very good at 143. He has a brilliant BB to K ratio having walked 1,377 to only 1,042 strikeouts. He has finished in the top ten in the MVP Voting six times and in the top three on three occasions. There isn't a whole lot separating Sheffield and Al Kaline. By the time Sheff is done, he could rate even higher. 66) Jeff Bagwell There was a great debate going on when Bagwell was still active regarding Bagwell's career versus The Big Hurt's. Both players were born on May 27, 1968. Bagwell was the best first-baseman in the NL in the 90s. Thomas was the best first-baseman in the AL in the 90s. Unfortunately, injuries prevented Bags from reaching the lauded milestones while the Big Hurt will likely reach them all. Still, the work Bagwell did per season is incredible. He finished with 449 home runs in just 14 full seasons. He also surpassed 1,500 RBIs and Runs which is remarkable in such a short amount of time. He also reached 488 doubles and 1400+ walks. Bags won the NL MVP in 1994 when he hit .368 with an OPS+ of 213. If it weren't for a premature ending to his career, Bagwell's numbers may have been good enough to place him in the top 40 of all-time. Instead, he'll have to settle for #66. 67). Johnny Mize Mize has to be the most underrated player in MLB history. The Sporting News didn't even have him on its list of top 100 baseball players of all-time. Any player who plays for 15 seasons with an OPS+ of 158 has to be among the 100 best players of all-time. If that's not a rule already, it needs to become one. Mize led the league in home runs four times, slugging % four times, RBIs three times, OPS three times, and batting average once. He was the best hitter in baseball in '39, '40, and '47 despite finishing 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd respectively in the MVP Voting. His numbers would have been even better had he not missed three seasons in his prime serving in WWII. 68) Johan Santana Barry an injury, Santana will finish quite a bit higher than this. In fact, I think there is a good chance he'll move into the top 30 by the time his career is over. His move to the NL only makes that an even greater possibility. Santana has two Cy Young Awards and should've won a third in 2005 when he was clearly the best pitcher in the AL. Santana has won an astounding 68% of his games. He has led the league in ERA twice, K's three times, and WHIP four times. He also won the AL Triple Crown in 2006. Santana is only 29 so if he can stay healthy, he could become the next Pedro Martinez in terms of dominance. 69) Chipper Jones Few baseball fans probably realize Chipper's greatness when it comes to his place in MLB history. His numbers are eerily similar to Gary Sheffield's. If he can stay healthy--which is a big if--he could become the first third-baseman in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. In fact, he could become only the third player in MLB history to reach those numbers with a better than .300 batting average. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez will likely beat him to those marks so he would likely be in a club with Mays, Aaron, Ramirez and Rodriguez. That's impressive. He won the '99 NL MVP. He drove in 100+ RBIs in eight-consecutive seasons. He has more walks than strikeouts. He has an excellent OPS+ of 143. Chipper's legacy will likely be directly attached to whether he can reach the hits and home run-milestones. Right or wrong, that's usually how it works in baseball. If he reaches them, his place in baseball history will skyrocket considerably. If he doesn't, he'll probably chime in around this spot. 70). John Smoltz I've got Smoltz just ahead of Glavine and just behind Schilling. I realize that if I were to go by career statistics, I would have no choice but to place them in the reverse order: Glavine, Smoltz, and then Schilling. However, baseball isn't about mass statistics. It's about peaks and average performance. For instance, with the same offenses, would you rather have Smoltz's 127 ERA+ or Glavine's 118? Would you rather have Smoltz's 1.17 WHIP or Glavine's 1.31? Would you rather have Smoltz's 2975:984 K to BB ratio, or Glavine's 2570:1463? You get the idea. Smoltz beats Glavine in just about every "average" statistic. Glavine beats Smoltz in wins and Cy Young Awards. Obviously, the latter two are important. But, a pitcher is only directly in control of how he pitches and not how his team hits. I think in any instance where you're comparing two pitchers from the same team and one had a better ERA, WHIP, and K to BB ratio, that pitcher deserves to be considered the better pitcher. Plus, Smoltz has been--by far--the better postseason pitcher of the two. Smoltz's ERA in 27 postseason starts is 2.65. Glavine's in 35 starts is 3.42. 71). Tom Glavine That's not meant to take anything away from Glavine. Glavine has five 20-win seasons under his belt. He has two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top three six times. Clearly, Glavine has been the beneficiary of stellar run support because his ERA+ and WHIP aren't nearly as impressive as Smoltz, yet he has a better winning percentage. Still, Glavine's career is undoubtedly impressive with 300+ wins and counting. 72) Willie McCovey McCovey had a very solid career. He hit 500+ home runs, drove in 1500+ RBIs and scored 1500+ runs. His OPS+ is very good at 147. He won the 1969 NL MVP with an outstanding OPS+ of 209. In 22 seasons, though, McCovey only finished in the top 10 of the MVP Voting four times. His career statistics are no doubt impressive but I cannot rationalize placing him ahead of anyone above him on this list. 73) Harry Heilman Heilmann could rake but his career was on the relative short side at essentially 15 seasons. From 1921 to 1929, Heilmann was a beast. His OPS+ in each of those seasons went as follows: 167, 169, 194, 148, 160, 153, 180, 133, and 149. Over that stretch, he hit .372 and averaged 195 hits, 116 RBIs, and 100 runs per year. Heilmann was probably the second best hitter of the 20s behind Babe Ruth (Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx were on the scene in the late 20s and throughout the 30s). 74). Roberto Clemente Clemente was a great player. However, there is a difference between a hitter with a good batting average and speed, and the great run-producers of all-time. That's why you'll see players like Clemente, Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn near the back quarter of the list. Clemente's OPS+ was still pretty good at 130. The most impressive aspect of his tragically shortened career is his finishes in league MVP Voting. Clemente finished in the top 10 eight times. He won the '66 MVP and was the World Series MVP in 1971. Clemente reached 3,000 hits and played spectacular defense in right field. 75). Jim Thome Jim Thome has to be the most disrespected power-hitter of our generation. He has never come close to winning an MVP Award despite putting together six 40+ home run seasons and a career OPS+ of 150. The ten most similar batters to Thome through the age of 36 according to include Mike Schmidt, Frank Thomas, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey, Mark McGwire, and Jeff Bagwell. All seven are above Thome on this list so that is spectacular company. Thome has a great chance to become the 8th player to reach 600 home runs (Griffey will make it six this year and A-Rod will make it seven next year.) Thome's legacy--as most are--will depend on how he finishes his career. If he reaches 600 home runs, 1,600 runs and RBIs, and 1,800 walks, he'll have to be considered among the 50 greatest players of all-time at a minimum. 76). Nolan Ryan I've discussed some of the most underrated players of all-time but I have yet to get into the most overrated players of all-time--until now. There is a large contingent of baseball fans who actually think Nolan Ryan is the greatest pitcher of all-time. Now, I didn't say these were "informed" baseball fans but they exist nonetheless. The number of comments that I have received saying something to the effect of "you are an idiot. Nolan Ryan is the greatest pitcher ever. You should do some research before putting together a list like this" is mind-boggling. Poorly phrased "burns" do not change the fact that Ryan wasn't anywhere near the greatest pitcher of all-time. His ERA+ is amazingly low at 111. That means he was 11% better than the league average. That's good for 287th on the all-time list. Just to compare, Barry Zito's ERA+ is 121. Ryan is nowhere near the best pitchers like Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens who all boast ERA+'s above 137. In 27 seasons, Ryan won exactly zero Cy Young Awards. His WHIP was an unimpressive 1.25. His career winning % is an awful .526. Ryan doesn't come close to stacking up against the best pitchers of all-time. That doesn't mean he wasn't good, though. He threw seven no-hitters which is the most in MLB history by a mile. He struck-out 5, 714 hitters which is the most in MLB history by a mile. He also finished in the top five of the Cy Young Voting six times. Those are impressive accomplishments but don't let Ryan's longevity fool you into rating him higher than he deserves. In the modern era, he has the most losses, walks, and wild pitches. 77). Hal Newhouser Hal Newhouser is one of the more underrated pitchers in MLB history. He didn't appear in The Sporting News' list of the 100 greatest players in MLB history. There is no question that Newhouser's career was not the typical career of a great pitcher but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Newhouser won two MVP awards as a pitcher. Walter Johnson and Carl Hubbell are the only pitchers to win two. Newhouser also came in 2nd in the MVP Voting in 1946 just missing out on three consecutive MVPs. Newhouser led the league in wins four times, era twice, and strikeouts twice. Although Carl Hubbell rates slightly better than Newhouser because of his postseason performance, there is absolutely no reason why Hubbell should rate in the top 50 of all-time while Newhouser is nowhere to be found in the top 100. The Sporting News dropped the ball on that one. 78). Eddie Mathews My subconscious tried like heck to rate Mathews more favorably. This list was the result of a long, drawn-out process, where player comparisons were made over and over again. Mathews ended up on the wrong end of most of those comparisons despite a fantastic career. Nobody has started a career in better fashion than Mathews. He hit 47 home runs and drove in 135 RBIs at the age of 21. No other 21-year old has come within 10 home runs of that mark. He entered the majors at 20 and proceeded to hit 338 home runs by the age of 28. Despite his vast power, Mathews never won an MVP Award and only finished in the top ten three times in 17 seasons. He did finish second on two occasions and could've won both times as his numbers were right in line with the winners. 79). Paul Waner In the Clemente, Carew, Gwynn, Waner, Boggs hierarchy, Waner comes in second place due to having the most hits, best OPS+, and an MVP Award. It is amazing how close the numbers of those five players are. All hit between 3,000 and 3,152 hits. All had an OPS+ between 130 and 134. Waner gets the nod over Gwynn and Carew because he beat them by a miniscule amount in just about every category. Clemente got the nod over everyone because of his defense and the fact that his career was cut short. Had he not passed away at 37, he could've reached 3,500 hits. That's essentially the same as saying that he did as much as everyone else did in a shorter period of time. 80) Gaylord Perry By the slimmest of margins, Perry comes in ahead of Ferguson Jenkins. Their careers were remarkably similar. Perry had a 117 OPS+. Jenkins had a 115 OPS+. Perry had a 1.18 WHIP. Jenkins had a 1.14 WHIP. Perry won 20+ games five times. Jenkins did it seven times. Those numbers are so close that differentiating Perry and Jenkins seems almost ridiculous. However, Perry gets the edge for four very small reasons. 1). He won two Cy Young Awards. Jenkins won one. 2). Albeit a slight one, Perry has the edge in ERA+ which is probably the most important category. 3). Perry pitched 5,300 innings. Jenkins pitched 4,500 innings. 4). As a result of #3, Perry won 314 games while Jenkins won 284. As I say below near the end of the Jenkins paragraph, if Nolan Ryan is among the top 80 players of all-time, then Perry is among the top 100. 81) Ferguson Jenkins Fergie's career was very similar to Tom Glavine's as well as Perry’s. He had an OPS+ of 115 to Glavine's 118. Glavine finished first twice, second twice, and third twice in Cy Young Voting. Jenkins finished first once, second twice, and third twice. Glavine won 20+ games five times. Jenkins did it seven times. Neither player has overly impressive secondary statistics. Jenkins was a workhorse who pitched 4,500 innings and compiled 267 complete games. His numbers aren't overwhelming but if Nolan Ryan is among the top 80 players of all-time, then Jenkins is among the top 100. The Sporting News missed out on this one as well. 82). Tony Gwynn Gwynn represents the dichotomy that arises when making a list like this. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in more awe of a player in my lifetime than Tony Gwynn. He was such an unbelievable hitter. He hit over .350 seven times in his career. His plate discipline was simply unbelievable. In 20 seasons, he struck out 434 times or 22 strike outs per year. His skill in seeing and hitting a baseball has not been equaled since he entered the league although Ichiro is working on that. While Gwynn’s abilities were remarkable, he is not the type of hitter who rates favorably among the best hitters in MLB history. To do that, a hitter must be able to produce runs. Gwynn—like Clemente, Carew, Waner, and Boggs— was a singles hitter. He drove in 100 RBIs only once. He scored 100 runs only twice. This, despite playing in one of the greatest offensive eras in MLB history. Gwynn never came close to winning an MVP Award although he did finish in the top ten seven times. He hit .394 in 1994 which was the highest batting average in MLB since 1941. He won eight National League batting titles which is tied for the most in NL history with Honus Wagner. 83). Rod Carew I labored over the rankings of Gwynn and Carew. Their numbers are eerily similar. I gave Gwynn the advantage for a few small reasons. He finished with more hits, RBIs, home runs, and doubles. He had a better BB to K ratio. He had a better OPS+. He had a better batting average. He had a better Runs Created/9 Innings. Carew won an MVP while Gwynn didn’t but 1977 was a pretty weak year for baseball. Gwynn probably would’ve won the MVP that year with a number of his seasons. That’s not to take anything away from Carew. I just don’t feel comfortable giving Carew the advantage over Gwynn simply because he won an MVP Award without considering Gwynn’s slight advantage in just about all categories. 84). Eddie Murray There are dynamic power hitters who post stellar OPS+ numbers with pretty good career totals. Then there are workman-like power hitters who put up monstrous career totals in large part because they played 20+ seasons. Murray is more of the latter. Murray is only the 4th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Rafael Palmeiro are the others. Murray’s OPS+ is fairly unimpressive at 129 although that number isn’t necessarily indicative of his best playing stretch. That number was about 140 for his first 14 seasons. It wasn’t until Murray turned 35 and the subsequent seven seasons that followed that his OPS+ really took a beating. Murray finished in the top five of the MVP Voting six times but never won. Just to compare, A-Rod has also finished in the top five six times. Despite putting up impressive total numbers over his career, Murray only led the league in RBIs and home runs once each. He also never hit more than 33 home runs in a season which is hard to believe. 85). Rafael Palmeiro* Murray gets the nod over Palmeiro because of his MVP finishes. Palmeiro finished in the top five of the MVP Voting once. Like Murray, Palmeiro is a member of the prestigious 3,000 hit/500hr club. Other than the MVP Voting, their careers are remarkably similar. Murray was probably the better player with respect to the league he was playing in thus the better MVP finishes. Palmeiro was consistent but was never on the level of Frank Thomas or Jeff Bagwell in terms of league-dominance. 86). Al Simmons Simmons had a 20-year career but only 11 of those seasons were good. The other 9 as a whole were actually pretty bad. Still, those 11 good seasons were really good. He drove in 100+ RBIs in each of his first 11 seasons in the majors. Over that stretch he had six 200+ hit seasons and hit over .350 six times as well. Simmons never won an MVP but probably should’ve won the 1925 MVP in which he finished second to the worst MVP-winner in MLB history, Roger Peckinpaugh. There would’ve been a fantastic debate between Simmons and Harry Heilmann. They each had great seasons. Peckinpaugh did not, however. Simmons finished with a 132 OPS+ which is the same as Palmeiro. Palmeiro gets the edge for a few reasons. 1). He did his damage in a 30-team league while Simmons played in a 16-team league. It’s much more difficult to win—or even finish in the top five—an MVP in the latter. 2). Palmeiro has slightly better career totals. 3). Palmeiro was consistent throughout his career while Simmons was good for the first half and weak for the second half of his career. 4). Palmeiro had 1,700 more at-bats and still managed to equal Simmons in OPS+. 87) Charlie Gehringer According to many lists, I have underrated Gehringer. He was a great player but I think this is where he belongs. His OPS+ was 124 which is one of the lowest of anyone on this list. He also never had a OPS+ of 150 or more in any season. Just to compare, Wade Boggs did that five times. Gehringer won the 1937 MVP and should’ve won the 1934 MVP as well. He lost to his teammate, Mickey Cochrane. Cochrane’s numbers weren’t even remotely comparable to Gehringer’s but I’m guessing he got the edge because he played catcher. Gehringer had unbelievable plate discipline that allowed him to walk 1,186 times to only 372 strike outs. 88) Mickey Cochrane Cochrane was a great player in his own right. Although it is true that Cochrane won two MVPs to Gehringer’s one, I’m not going to hold that against Gehringer. One of those MVPs was questionable at-best as Gehringer had a much better season but finished 2nd. Only Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra won more MVPs from the catcher position. Cochrane finished in the top ten of the MVP Voting six times. He also boasts a 128 OPS+ which is actually better than Gehringer’s. Gehringer played longer and had more productive seasons which is why he gets the edge. Cochrane was a key component to three World Series-winning teams. Cochrane’s career was tragically cut short at the age of 34 when he was hit in the head by a pitch. He recovered physically but never played baseball again. 89). Juan Marichal Marichal doesn’t have any hardware in the form of MVPs or Cy Young Awards but he was the second best pitcher in the NL in ’64,’65, ’66, and ’68. The Cy Young wasn’t given out in each league until 1967 so he doesn’t have a slew of top five finishes like the rest of the pitchers on this list. Marichal finished in the top five in wins five times and ERA six times. He led the league in wins twice and ERA once. He won 20+ games six times. He had excellent control as evidenced by his 3.25 to 1 career K to BB ratio. His ERA+, WHIP, and Winning % are better than Tom Glavine’s and Nolan Ryan’s. 90). Wade Boggs Every time I look at Boggs’ career stats, I’m more impressed. He was a “singles” hitter for the most part but he had some incredible seasons. Like Al Simmons, though, Boggs’s career declined sharply during the second half which is why he rates so low. Boggs had seven years of a 140 or better OPS+ in his first tens seasons. He only had one such year over his last eight seasons and that was in a year he played fewer than 100 games. Still, Boggs had a great run. He is the only player in MLB history to have seven consecutive seasons of 200+ hits, 100+ runs, and 30+ doubles. In all but one of those seasons he had at least 40 doubles. Boggs led the league in a number of categories throughout his career including OBP six times, batting average five times, walks twice, runs twice, and OPS twice. He also led the league in intentional walks six times. Boggs also had unbelievable plate discipline as he walked almost twice as many times as he struck out over his career. Despite his impressive numbers, Boggs never finished better than 4th in MVP Voting and only finished in the top ten four times. 91). Sammy Sosa* What do you do with a guy like Sosa? He is the ultimate paradox. He is a power hitter with a dreadful OPS+ (at least with respect to his power-hitting peers). Sosa has blasted 609 home runs for a whopping OPS+ total of 128. Remember, Eddie Murray also had a OPS+ of 128 and he never hit more than 32 home runs in a season. Sosa hit at least 40 home runs seven times. He hit at least 63 home runs three times which is the most 60+ home run seasons in history. So, you might guess that Sosa is a home-run or bust hitter and you’d be right. You also might guess that his OBP is weak and thus his plate discipline is weak. You’d be right again. Sosa’s OBP is .344. His K to BB ratio is worse than 2 to 1 which is terrible. Sosa doesn’t possess the requisite numbers to be ranked in the top 50 or even the top 90. Just to compare, Mark McGwire—Sosa’s home run counterpart in the late 90s—had an OPS+ of 162, an OBP of .394, and an K to BB ratio of nearly 1 to 1. There is a world of difference between those sets of numbers. However, Sosa hit a ton of home runs, won an MVP Award, and finished in the top ten seven times. His career is clearly worth noting. An interesting statistic about Sosa is that he never led the league in home runs in any of his 60+ homer seasons. He led the league twice when he hit 50 and 49 home runs, respectively. 92) Sam Crawford Crawford was 39 hits away from immortality. Had he reached the 3,000-hit mark, he would’ve been a part of that exclusive club when it only featured five players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, and Eddie Collins (Cap Anson did it as well but he played his entire career before 1900 and thus before MLB formed as we know it today). Instead of being in that group, Crawford is lumped in with the tens of thousands of other baseball players who didn’t reach 3,000 hits. A logical viewpoint reveals that 39 hits doesn’t define a baseball player. Crawford proved his worth on the field. Crawford led the league in RBIs three times, HRs twice, runs twice, and triples six times. He is the all-time leader in triples. It’s important to remember that in the early 1900s, triples meant something. They weren’t just a freak occurrence like they are today. Crawford finished in the top ten in just about every relevant offensive category from 1905 to 1915. His numbers are truly astonishing when you take into consideration that he rates 9th in the history of baseball in the Gray Ink Test which measures the number of a times a player finished among the league leaders in different categories. 93) Dave Winfield Big Dave Winfield is a tough player to judge. He certainly has the career numbers to deserve recognition but his per-year averages aren’t all that impressive. According to, Winfield’s career is most similar to Eddie Murray’s. The are a few differences, however. Murray finished in the top five in the MVP Voting six times including two second place finishes. Winfield never finished first or second and only finished in the top five three times. Murray also had more RBIs, hits, doubles, and home runs. It isn’t by much but Murray gets the nod. 94) Paul Molitor Molitor is one of the more underrated players in baseball history. There is a lot to like about his career accomplishments. He had 3,319 hits which is 9th on the all-time list. Molitor is also 11th on the all-time doubles list and 19th all-time in runs. Even more impressive is that Molitor is one of only four players in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits, 500 SBs, with a batting average above .300. The other three are Ty Cob, Honus Wagner, and Eddie Collins. Molitor is the only player to accomplish that in the last 80+ years. Molitor’s career is impressive enough from his regular season statistics alone. His postseason accolades make him more impressive, yet. In 117 postseason at-bats, Molitor hit .368 with a 1.050 OPS. In 66 World Series at-bats, he hit .418 with a 1.111 OPS. Molitor has the highest batting average in World Series history (min. 60 at-bats) and the highest batting average in playoff history (min. 100 at-bats). Molitor’s postseason success won him the 1993 World Series MVP. 95) Mike Piazza Piazza is certainly the greatest hitting catcher of all-time but that’s not why he’s on this list. He has bullied opposing pitchers at a rate that would be impressive for any position. He finished in the top ten of the league MVP Voting seven times including back to back 2nd place finishes in ’96 and ’97. His overall statistics don’t look overly impressive but--as what happens to all catchers--his career has taken a downward turn as he reached his mid-30s. His best days are clearly behind and it’s unlikely that he has enough left in the tank to reach 500 home runs (he needs 73 more). However, Piazza’s OPS+ stands at 142 which is extremely impressive considering that number has taken a huge hit over the past four seasons. Piazza has posted six seasons with an OPS+ above 150. Just to compare, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, and Mickey Cochrane combined to do it five times. 96). Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken would be one of the more underrated players of all-time but I’m not sure there are as many people overrating him as there used to be. He was a great player, no doubt, but he is at the end of the top 100 at best. He is best known for “The Streak” but he also won two AL MVPs and finished with 3,184 hits. Ripken’s career represents a unique dichotomy. It was average with excellence sprinkled in. In 21 seasons, he only finished in the top 15 of the MVP Voting four times. It just so happens that two of those four times he won the MVP. You might be tempted to think that any two-time MVP winner has to be one of the top 100 players of all-time. But, that’s not the case. Robin Yount, Dale Murphy, Roger Maris, and Juan Gonzalez are two-time winners who don’t crack the top 100 in my estimation. Ripken’s OPS+ is borderline-horrible for an all-time great at 112. I don’t mean to take anything away. He brought something to baseball that was totally revolutionary and that was a shortstop who could hit. It’s just important not to get carried away with Ripken’s reputation. 97). Ernie Banks Banks has to be the most overrated hitter in baseball history. Don’t confuse “overrated” with “not good” because Banks was clearly good or I wouldn’t have him anywhere close to the top 100. However, The Sporting News has him as the 38th best player of all-time. Banks had five great seasons and all take place between the ages of 24 and 29. David Ortiz has had five great seasons and nobody thinks Ortiz should rate better than Banks at this point. Banks was slightly above average for his remaining 14 seasons. His career OPS+ is a weak 122 which is one of the five lowest of anyone in the top 100. Banks led the league in home runs twice and RBIs twice which is decent but certainly not worthy of a ranking anywhere near the top 50. 98). Dennis Eckersley As I mentioned previously, I am not fond of putting relievers among the 100 greatest players. I only have two in the top 100. Rivera is by far the greatest of all-time and I think “Eck” has to be considered the second best of all-time. Eckersley was a converted starting pitcher but unlike most starters-turn-relievers, “Eck” was actually a pretty good starting pitcher having been selected to two All-Star games. As a starter, he won 151 games by the age of 30 and won at least 13 games seven times. Clearly, the A’s saw something in “Eck” that told them he could be a dominating reliever. Success came almost immediately as he picked up 45 saves and finished 2nd in the Cy Young Voting and 5th in the MVP Voting in his second season with Oakland. That was the start of five of the most brilliant pitching seasons the league has ever seen at least from a relief-perspective. In those five seasons, “Eck” never posted a WHIP above .92. In two of those seasons he delivered almost unfathomable WHIPs of .607 and .614. In 1990 he posted a .61 ERA. In 1992, Eck won the Cy Young Award and the AL MVP. He also won the ALCS MVP in 1988. 99) Brooks Robinson I debated long and hard over whether Robinson should be included in this list. It’s more than just a numbers game for Robinson. His offensive stats are actually pretty weak. His OPS+ is incredibly weak at 104. But, Robinson was important. He came up big at the right times and he was the greatest defensive third-baseman of all-time. Robinson is one of only two players to win an MVP, World Series MVP, and All-Star game MVP. Frank Robinson, ironically, is the only other player to accomplish that feat. Robinson also finished in the top five of the MVP voting five times. An amazing footnote is that despite hitting a paltry .267 over 23 seasons (10,654 at-bats), Robinson only struck out 990 times in his career. 100). Ichiro Suzuki Ichiro is slowly making history as one of the greatest speed/average combo hitters in MLB history. He has made the All-Star game and won a Gold Glove in all seven seasons of his career. He is the first player in MLB history to have seven consecutive seasons of 200+ hits, 100+ runs, 30+ steals, and a .300+ batting average. He won the AL MVP Award in 2001. The only thing keeping him from the top 50—and it’s a pretty big thing—is his 119 OPS+. He would rate ahead of Roberto Clemente if he could get that to 130. I’m not sure that number is reachable considering Ichiro’s lack of power.
I get a lot of comments questioning my sanity because Derek Jeter isn't on this list. This list does not include the last THREE seasons. Jeter was literally my final cut three years ago. He, without a doubt, would be on this list if I updated it today. I'm not going to get specific but Jeter would probably fall somewhere between 65 and 80. Honorable mention (in no particular order): Duke Snider, Dick Allen, Kirby Puckett, Derek Jeter, Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, Goose Goslin, Orlando Cepeda, Ralph Kiner, Bill Terry, Gabby Hartnett, Bill Dickey, Ivan Rodriguez, Billy Williams, Zack Wheat, Robin Yount, George Sisler, Craig Biggio, Willie Keeler, Roberto Alomar, Albert Belle, Joe Medwick, Chuck Klein, Juan Gonzalez, Joe Cronin, Carlton Fisk, Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Ryne Sandberg, Gavvy Cravath, Frank Howard, Frank Chance, Frankie Frisch, Heinie Manush, Luke Appling, Tony Oliva, Jim Rice, Hack Wilson, Al Oliver, Lou Brock, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Carlos Delgado, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Roger Maris, Dale Murphy, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, Arky Vaughan Early Wynn, Don Sutton, Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Jeff Reardon, Dizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, Addie Joss, Catfish Hunter, Joe Wood, Dazzy Vance, Stanley Coveleski, Rube Waddell, Vida Blue, Brett Saberhagen, and Robin Roberts. Top 100 Baseball Players of All-Time (list only) 1) Babe Ruth 2) Ted Williams 3) Ty Cobb 4) Willie Mays 5) Barry Bonds* 6) Roger Clemens* 7) Walter Johnson 8) Lou Gehrig 9) Lefty Grove 10) Stan Musial 11) Joe DiMaggio 12) Christy Mathewson 13) Rogers Hornsby 14) Cy Young 15) Jimmie Foxx 16) Mickey Mantle 17) Tris Speaker 18) Randy Johnson 19) Honus Wagner 20) Greg Maddux 21) Hank Aaron 22) Pete Alexander 23) Albert Pujols 24) Alex Rodriguez* 25) Mel Ott 26) Hank Greenberg 27) Warren Spahn 28) Tom Seaver 29) Frank Robinson 30) Bob Feller 31) Joe Jackson 32) Pedro Martinez 33) Ed Walsh 34) Mordecai Brown 35) Manny Ramirez* 36) Nap Lajoie 37) Mike Schmidt 38) Jim Palmer 39) Vladimir Guerrero 40) Ken Griffey Jr. 41) Eddie Collins 42) Yogi Berra 43) Johnny Bench 44) Sandy Koufax 45) Carl Hubbell 46) Eddie Plank 47) Steve Carlton 48) Bob Gibson 49) Frank Thomas 50) Mariano Rivera 51) Reggie Jackson 52) Harmon Killebrew 53) Carl Yastrzemski 54) Mark McGwire* 55) Pete Rose 56) Joe Morgan 57) Rickey Henderson 58) George Brett 59) Roy Campanella 60) Jackie Robinson 61) Whitey Ford 62) Willie Stargell 63) Al Kaline 64) Curt Schilling 65) Gary Sheffield* 66) Jeff Bagwell 67). Johnny Mize 68) Johan Santana 69) Chipper Jones 70). John Smoltz 71). Tom Glavine 72) Willie McCovey 73) Harry Heilman 74). Roberto Clemente 75). Jim Thome 76). Nolan Ryan 77). Hal Newhouser 78). Eddie Mathews 79). Paul Waner 80) Gaylord Perry 81) Ferguson Jenkins 82). Tony Gwynn 83). Rod Carew 84). Eddie Murray 85). Rafael Palmeiro* 86). Al Simmons 87) Charlie Gehringer 88) Mickey Cochrane 89). Juan Marichal 90). Wade Boggs 91). Sammy Sosa* 92) Sam Crawford 93) Dave Winfield 94) Paul Molitor 95) Mike Piazza 96). Cal Ripken Jr. 97). Ernie Banks 98). Dennis Eckersley 99) Brooks Robinson 100). Ichiro Suzuki


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Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Sam Craford is too low though. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think you nailed it on the head! But maybe it's because I am a Padre's fan, but I think you should have had Tony Gywnn just a little higher. Maybe top 60.

Anonymous said...

I love Thome and am glad he's finally getting some respect. Same with Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, and many more. These are all great players in the perfect spots!

Anonymous said...

it all looks great in all but you should put Robin Yount on there, he was great! plus Paul Molitor need to be higher. Finally you should look out for Ryan Braun. I know this is only his 2nd year but one day hes going to be in the top 30 if not higher. Good list! GO BREWERS! (cubs suck)

gursk1989 said...

How can you say that Jim Thome is higher ranked than Nolan Ryan?

Jake said...


In my opinion, the easiest measures to judge a pitcher and a hitter are ERA+ and OPS+. I’m sure there are more scientific statistics out there but in terms of readily available statistics, those are the best.

Nolan Ryan’s career ERA+ is 111. 120 is pretty respectable. 130 is getting very good. 140+ is great. 111 is slightly better than average. He was a great “strikeout” pitcher but not a great pitcher. He was just a decent pitcher. If you want to cite his career statistics, make sure you include the fact that he has the 3rd most losses in MLB history. He has allowed the fourth most earned runs in history. He finished below .500 eight times. He has the most walks in MLB history. He has a terrible winning percentage.

Jim Thome’s career OPS+ is 149. That is excellent. By the time his career is over, he will likely have 1,500+ runs, walks, and rbi’s with 600+ home runs. Only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have accomplished that feat.

Thome has been a great and underappreciated power-hitter. Ryan was a good and overrated pitcher.

Anonymous said...

Your list is well thought up and respectful...a few things I disagree is having Vlad above Griffey. I also believe A-rod is rated too low based on the fact that you said your ratings base off where a player projects. Alex is on pace to break the all-time hr record and rbi record(if he stays healthy)Not to mention he was a phenonimal SS for the first half of his career and a great 3b(despite 06-transition yr) By the time he is retired, I believe A-rod will be rated in the top 10 all time by most professional sports analysists

Anonymous said...

Having the legendary and great Cal Ripkin Jr. as barely reaching the top 100 is obtuse. A 19 time all-star, 2 time MVP, 3000+ hits, 400+ HR, multiple time gold glove awards, he also brought a world series back to Baltimore for the first time in years. His credentials speak for himself and he easily matches up with anyone in your top 50. He revolutionized a city, position, and baseball in general. Shame on disrespecting the great CAL

jf said...


Anonymous said...

How can you put bonds over dimaggio? 58 game hitting streak.c'mon.

Jake said...

It was 56 games and the comparison isn't even close. If you want to disqualify Bonds because he took steroids, then I have no problem with that. If you're just judging their respective careers at face value, DiMaggio isn't anywhere close to Bonds.

Anonymous said...

it was a 56 game hit streak too, not 58

Anonymous said...

david ortiz should be in the list

Jake said...

Ortiz will be there soon enough. Two more really productive years will probably push him in. His relatively late start as an everyday player will keep his ceiling somewhat low, though.

yankees said...

How is nolan ryan overrated he pitched for the worst teams. And no Derek Jeter he's going to have atleast or over 3,500 hits.He also has 4 world series and is one of the best clutch hitters. He's also a lifetime .300 hitter.

Jake said...


I’m not sure where you get your information from with regards to Nolan Ryan but it’s not accurate. He played for the worst teams? The teams he played for (‘68-‘93) had a combined record of 2105-2048 for a 51% winning percentage. Everything I have to say about Ryan is in my write-up. It’s hard to refute the notion that Ryan is incredibly overrated.

As for Jeter, he’ll be there soon enough. However, can you find a single statistic that supports your claim that he is one of the best clutch hitters—or even clutch at all? Jeter is a good—not great—player. Ichiro barely made my list. Compare their careers. The only advantage Jeter has is that he plays for the Yankees.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Good Job posting Shilling over SMoltz. Ive been laughing lately hearing everybody call Smoltz a possible 1st ballet HOFer and saying Shilling doesn't get in at all. Crazy when you think Shilling has 3 300k seasons while Smoltz has none and Shilling has 3 20 win seasons while Smoltz won 20games once, 17 once and never reached those totals again. Not to mention Shilling has 3 rings to Smoltz ZERO! John Smoltz has had 1 great year surrounded by some good ones. I'm not even sure he belongs on the list at all

Anonymous said...

clemens in his prime cant touch johnson

Anonymous said...

I think that this is a good list but I personally think that Jim Edmonds should be somewhere on that list because even though he hasn't been good as of late, he is still one of the best defensive players in the history of the game

WC Mencken said...


*Sandy Koufax 27 LAD 25 5 .833 1.88 40 40 0 20 11 0 311.0 214 68 65 18 58 306 159 1210 7 6 3 1 5.28 8.86 7.8

Juan Marichal 25 SFG 25 8 .758 2.41 41 40 1 18 5 0 321.3 259 102 86 27 61 248 132 1270 6 2 2 3 4.07 6.95 7.8

*Joe Nuxhall 34 CIN 15 8 .652 2.61 35 29 5 14 2 2 217.3 194 73 63 14 39 169 129 878 2 2 6 0 4.33 7.00 6.2

*Warren Spahn 42 MLN 23 7 .767 2.60 33 33 0 22 7 0 259.7 241 85 75 23 49 102 124 1037 4 4 0 0 2.08 3.54 7.9

Sometimes you have to re-examine the stats with a broader scope.

63 was Sandy's first of 3 "super" seasons that people use to point to him as the greatest pitcher in terms of peak value and some say very close to the all time best.

Juan had the same 3 super seasons in his career on a less successful team plus a couple more twenty game seasons.

Spahn was 42, at the end of his career went 23-7 with 22 complete games. It was the 13th and last 20
win season.

Sandy was 27, had gone about 38-40 in his first 6 seasons, went 25-5 with 20 complete games.


Team W L WL% GB
LosAngls LAD 99 63 .611 --
St.Louis STL 93 69 .574 6.0
SanFranc SFG 88 74 .543 11.0
Phildlpa PHI 87 75 .537 12.0
Cincnnti CIN 86 76 .531 13.0
Milwkee MLN 84 78 .519 15.0
ChicagoC CHC 82 80 .506 17.0
Pittsbgh PIT 74 88 .457 25.0
Houston HOU 66 96 .407 33.0
NewYorkM NYM 51 111 .315 48.0

Sandy couldn't hold Spahn's jockstrap.

Anonymous said...

Barry Bonds: EASILY the best baseball player of alltime.

I understand the whole steroid thing makes him less likable, but either put him on the list or don't.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask, why would you and many others put Reggie Jackson on this list. He's one of those players that waters down the Hall of fame(I,E. Don Sutton, Tony Perez, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Mazeroski) A lifetime .262 hitter w/ one .300 season, Zero 50 Home Run Seasons, Zero 200 Hit seasons and of course the most dubious accolade, the all-time Strikeout leader. Nolan Ryan has the most walks but at least he has the most K's. Jackson is nowhere near the all-time hit list. He's basically Darryl Strawberry with a longer career. Can you at least honestly admit he's a tad overated? It's almost like we need 2 levels of the HOF, guys like Ruth and Gerhig, and then the RJ's and Eddie Murrays's.

Jake said...

We definitely agree that there are different tiers of the Hall of Fame. The players you list—Don Sutton, Tony Perez, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Mazeroski—are definitely in the lowest tier. You can add Ozzie Smith and Luis Aparicio to the last among many others. I would not put Eddie Murray in that group. He isn’t in the top tier but he isn’t in the bottom either. There are 228 Hall of Famers. I believe Murray is in the top 100 all-time. There are far worse Hall of Famers than Murray. There is no question that there can be a huge discrepancy between the elite of the elite and the guys who barely made it. You will probably watch in horror along with me if Omar Vizquel ever makes it.

However, one thing I totally disagree with you on is Reggie Jackson. Baseball isn’t about getting base hits or not striking out. Baseball is about scoring. Being a player like Ichiro or Pete Rose is one way of accomplishing that. Being a player like Reggie Jackson or Harmon Killebrew is another. I think you would be shocked to find out just how many of the 228 players in the HOF have worse resumes than Reggie Jackson. You obviously know where I stand since I have him just outside of the top 50. He led the league in a number of categories including home runs four times and OPS+ four times. I’ll take OPS over # of hits any day of the week. Strikeouts aren’t pretty but it really doesn’t matter how you get out. It matters what you do when you don’t get out and he did a lot.

Having said that, I can’t say for sure if he’s overrated because I don’t know how most people view him. I don’t believe I have overrated him. If someone were to put him in the top 30, then I would say that would be overrating him. I just haven’t seen anyone do that. Remember, he is probably one of the five greatest players in World Series history and he is 11th all-time in home runs. If you want to talk about a non-pitcher who is overrated, I would go with Ernie Banks way before Jackson.

Thanks for the comments.

Take care!

Unknown said...

Fun list.

So how could someone so dominant at his position like Mike Schmidt at third base be rated #37 all time?

Schmidt is clearly the best all-around third baseman ever. The power is legendary. 3 MVPs. Top ten MVP finish 9 times. His speed gave him SBs early in his career and was an excellent baserunner. Maybe he wasn't as consistent as Brooks at third, but Schmidt made athletically-brilliant plays nobody else could make, using his great arm to his advantage (I watched him every night so I am biased). Ten gold gloves. Penchant for walks gave him lifetime OBP of .380.
And he did it just about every year hrough age 37. Not many players were EXCELLENT through their mid-thirties. So let's give him points for longevity as well.

Jake said...


Agreed, Schmidt was the greatest third baseman of all-time. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the best third baseman of all-time has to rank higher than 37th. I have the best second baseman rated 36th, and the best catcher rated 42nd. I go based on accomplishments and that’s where Schmidt ended up. However, I do concede that it’s possible that Schmidt should be rated higher not because he was the best third baseman but because he was the best offensive player in his era. Still, his OPS+ is only 147. His era produced some relatively weak offensive stars. I would’ve expected him to dominate a weak era with an OPS+ higher than 147. I like where I have him although he’s not easy to rate. Thanks for the comments.

Take care!

Jake said...


Please read what I write before posting. I include my criterion to avoid having to answer questions about why Josh Gibson and Cap Anson aren’t on my list. Just to recap…

“The only time period limitation that I used was to limit the players eligible for the baseball list to players that played the majority of their career after 1900. I didn't limit any list to one specific league. Participants in the AFL, USFL, ABA, and WHA were eligible as long as they played in the major leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) at some point in their career and for a good portion of their career. I reluctantly did not include baseball players from the Negro Leagues that never made it to MLB. Had I rated such greats as Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige, they would have been randomly thrown onto the lists. I don't have any way of knowing how good they were. I would rather not rate them at all and admit that this is a MLB-only list than do a disservice to those players by arbitrarily throwing them someplace. Let's just say that if African-Americans weren't barred from playing in MLB for close to 70 years, this list would look a lot different.”

Feel free to pick out an active player on my list whose statistics aren’t worthy of being in the top 100. Please come with facts to back up your opinions rather than simply saying “Player X” doesn’t belong. Please make a compelling argument. Arguments like, “Player X struck out a gazillion times in his career” are not compelling. You might want to consider starting with OPS+ or ERA+ when you make your case.

As for Mathewson, give me a break. There isn’t a knowledgeable baseball fan on Earth who would agree that Mathewson isn’t among the top 100 of all-time. If you want to make an argument that he isn’t a top 20 player, then be my guest. Again, come with facts.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Great list! Thanks for including Shoeless Joe Jackson. So many lists don't include him for the lifetime ban, but he was such a dominating player that he should be at least top 50 in every list of baseball's greatest players!

I'd also like to nominate Michael Young of the Texas Rangers as at least an honorable mention. He's a lifetime .301 hitter with 5 consecutive seasons of 200 hits or more. The other great active hits leader you've got on here (Ichiro) has 461 career RBIs in 5,282 career at-bats, while Young has 635 career RBIs in 4,807 career at-bats. I think that's significant, because what good are hits if they don't produce runs? Not to mention that in All Star performance, Ichiro is a .333 hitter in 21 career All Star at-bats, while Young has the same BA in only 9 career All Star at-bats! Just food for thought.


Anonymous said...

Great list!

The one addition I suggest is to include the player's era or years of play, and the team with which they were most successful.

Thanks for making the list.

Tom B

Anonymous said...

why is Nolan Ryan #76?!!!!!!!!!!

Jake said...

Tom, good suggestions. I'll try to remember that the next time I update the list.


Refer to my write-up under Ryan. Please feel free to present a rebuttal as to why Ryan should be rated higher. Seven no-hitters and having the most strikeouts of all-time are nice but they don't mean much if the other statistics are just above average.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah i forgot johan santana was ahead of nolan ryan, this is unacurateeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee i dont like it. sry :D

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says,
Mariano Rivera is way to lowand so is nolan ryan. But i got the maddest when you didnt put derek jeter in the top 30 and then to make it even worse you didnt even put him under your honorable mention.Willie is supposed to be #2. And Im sorry but you cant put barry bonds nowhere near the front.(steroids) I like how you have a-rod in there.

Anonymous said...

I will agree that Nolan Ryan is not the greatest pitcher ever. But to say that he is overrated is rediculous.

You cannot point at winning percentage taking a close look at the teams a guy was on. Most of the teams Nolan played on were absolutely hideous. It is hard to win on a bad team.

Yes, Nolan had sub-par accuracy. This is undoubtedly what keeps him from being considered a top 5 pitcher of all time. But to put him at 76, behind those such as Vladdy, Manny, Pedro, Pujols, and others, is ubsurd.

Need I remind you he has set records in both strikeouts and no-hitters that will most likely NEVER even come close to be broken. To do what he did, for as long as he did, is unheard of, especially for pitchers.

He may not be a top 5 pitcher or a top 20 player of all time, but he should undoubtedly be much higher than you have placed him.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that about 13 players on this list think Roberto Clemente was the best they played against..mostly the great pitchers. Sad that Sabermetrics won't admit the hr is so overrated. Clemente has the greatest world series display ever..regular season stats are for wannabes'.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but Barry probably used steroids for one year(the record breaking year), yet he still put up great numbers after that.Keep in mind, the Feds had been after Barry since that record breaking year, and there is no way you are going to convince me that he used after that. Yet he was still knocking them out the ball park up until he was out of baseball. It's time to give Barry credit, the man is the greatest baseball player ever. Ken Griffey could never touch Barry in my opinion. Barry could always hit the long ball.

WC Mencken said...

Yogi Berra 42? FYI there are nine players on a team. Most in the know baseball people say the catcher is the teams field general.

If you're gonna rate the top players of all time you should at least have a catcher in the top 18.

Anonymous said...

this is an amazing list although i think that babe ruth and ted williams should be co-#1, simply because ted did not have the talent around him to win the world series like the babe did. and maybe tony gwynn could possibly be a bit higher but other than that, best list i have ever seen

Anonymous said...

i also think that it is funny that you have John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones all pretty close to each other, and they played together, i dont think you had any other foursome of teammates on the list, unless its a yankees team, but it still shows that those braves teams of the mid-90's was one of the greatest teams of all time, this coming from a redsox fan

nickels said...

why don't you make adjustments for positions? honus wagner's offensive numbers may be less impressive in comparison to cobb's and speaker however he was a shortstop a much more demanding defensive position. when ranking players from different positions you need to account for that.

riley061296 said...

ichro and nolan ryan should be way higher!!!!!!!!!!!!!:(

Anonymous said...

I think the area you're underrating Wagner in is actually defense. Nowadays, the difference In the early years of the dead ball era there was more of a gap between the defensive contributions of a shortstop anywhere along the curve (and Wagner was at the top) and a center fielder at the same defensive ability level along the curve (Speaker at the top). The reason for this is because with the low offense/power levels so much of the play back then happened in the infield. The league average OF for Speaker's career made 2.08 plays per game, while the league average SS for Wagner's made 5.18. The same league average numbers for contemporary careers? A 1.99 average for OF(Griffey),.09 fewer plays. But for SS the drop is much larger...a 4.10 average for the position (Vizquel), or a full assist or putout per game. Wagner wasn't just great at his position, but he was playing a position that was handling the ball a ton and making a big impact on the game.

Anonymous said...

Griffey is to low

Anonymous said...

I have a question, if griffey had not been hurt for those years where would u have rated him?

By the way although i disagree with some of your choices, i respect your knowledge of baseball and your list.

Jake said...


Thanks for the comments. Griffey missed large portions of six seasons(’95, ‘01-’04, and ‘06). If a healthy Griffey would’ve hit 40 home runs per year in those seasons, he missed out on roughly 130 home runs. That would put him at 740 and in striking distance of breaking the all-time home run record this season. If a healthy Griffey would’ve driven in 100 RBIs per year in those seasons, he missed out on roughly 300 RBIs. That would put him at 2,100 which would be third all-time behind Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Griffey probably would’ve ended up passing both. At a minimum, a healthy Griffey would’ve been the all-time leader in both home runs and RBIs. He probably would’ve surpassed 3,200 hits, 2,000 runs, and he also would be—and was for some time—one of the great centerfielders in MLB history. A healthy Griffey would be right around where I have Hank Aaron. I have Aaron at 21. Although, when I revisit my list, I think Aaron will end up in the top 15 somewhere. So, Griffey would’ve been in the top 15 had he stayed healthy. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Not a bad list, but to not have Hank Aaron in the top 20 is the most obsurd thing I have ever seen in sports. Obviously you didn't watch baaseball during his era.

Jake said...

I have Aaron at #21. Are you saying that if I had him at 19, it wouldn't be absurd? As I'm sure you read in my comment just above yours, I said that when I revisit the list, Aaron will probably move into the top 15. He played a long, long time. This list isn't just about compiling numbers over a career. If it were, I'd have Eddie Murray in the top 30. It's equally about being the best player in your era and having some of the best seasons of all-time.

Anonymous said...

I like it. But there is one player I think you missed. Don Drysdale. Batters like Willy Mays wouldn't try to intimidate him, because he'd throw a 95 mph fastball right in their ear. He struck fear into hitters just like Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Randy Johnson, and they all made the list

Jake said...

I appreciate the comments. Don Drysdale was certainly a very good pitcher. Statistically, though, he isn’t in the same ball park as Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson, or even Nolan Ryan. Drysdale won 209 games with an ERA+ of 121 and a .557 winning percentage. Randy Johnson is about to hit 300 wins with an ERA + 137 and a .647 winning percentage. He also has five Cy Young awards. Gibson—not quite the pitcher Randy Johnson is/was—beats out Drysdale pretty handily as well. He won 251 games with an ERA+ of 127 and a .591 winning percentage. Gibson and Johnson are also two of the greatest World Series pitchers the league has seen.

I agree with you about Drysdale and Nolan Ryan. I think ability-wise, they were similar. The only problem is that Ryan played twice as long and has nearly twice the statistics to show for it. Ryan only showed up in the last quarter of my list. In my opinion, Drysdale’s career isn’t close enough to Ryan’s to warrant a place in the top 100. However, Drysdale really doesn’t have to beat out those guys to make it. He just has to beat out Juan Marichal and Dennis Eckersley—the last two pitchers on my list—to make it. I just can’t rationalize giving the edge to Drysdale over them. He is probably among the next 10 pitchers, though. This is obviously subjective. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just trying to explain Drysdale’s absence from my perspecitve. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Nice list but I think you should put Barry Bonds lower because he was only A hitting legend not a good at defense though.

Aaron Reese said...

That was one of the most fun things I've read on the web in a while. I was happy that you put Molitor on the list. I always thought he was underrated. Nolan Ryan is, by far and away, my favorite player of all time, but he deserves to be right where you put him on the list.

WC Mencken said...

How could you not place Robin Roberts? He 6 year streak is even more impressive than Koufax for 3 reasons.

Koufax had expansion team gimmies and the talent of each team was diluted by the expansion draft.
He had teams flying to the West Coast for the first time.
And he had a pitchers ball park in LA.

Plus Koufax was a running joke for the first 6 years of his career because he was so wild.
A hard-nosed competitor, Roberts ranks as the winningest righthander in Phillies history. In his first full season, Roberts won 15 games. In 1950, he helped pitch the Phillies to their first pennant in 35 years, going 20-11. When he won his 20th on the final day of the season at Brooklyn, in a pennant-deciding, 10-inning game, he became the Phillies' first 20-game-winner since Grover Alexander in 1917.

Roberts won 20 games six straight years, from 1950 to 1955, with league highs in wins for four straight, starting in 1952, when he went 28-7. Six times he led the NL in games started, and five times in complete games and innings pitched. He once pitched 28 straight complete games in an era when relief pitchers were regularly employed. He was able to get the outs he needed with men in scoring position, and he helped himself as a fielder and at the plate.

WC Mencken said...

Anonymous said...

Not a bad list, but to not have Hank Aaron in the top 20 is the most obsurd thing I have ever seen in sports. Obviously you didn't watch baaseball during his era.

I watched baseball during Aaron's era and like Clemente he was a second tier great player most of his career.

WC Mencken said...

One more thing about Robin Roberts. He started 5 out of 6 consecutive All-Star games. The one he didn't start, in 1952, was started by teammate Curt Simmons who went 14-8 that year. In 1952 Roberts had his best season, 28-7.

peapers said...

Although I am very impressed with your statistical knowledge of the game of baseball, ranking Willie Mays anything but number one shows your lack of knowledge about the actual playing of the game. The universal talents of this man FAR outweigh any hitting stats you can site. Ask anyone who has played baseball at a higher level and they will site Willie Mays as the best player of all time. Take the time to watch footage of Ruth and Mays play. It's like watching a plow mule next to a Triple Crown race horse. No contest. You also placed Hank Aaron far too down on your list.

Tim Sherwood said...

How do you get runs? you get hits. What else is Ichiro supposed to do?

Jake said...

Not sure where you're coming from. Nobody has a problem with Ichiro's runs scored. It's the runs he doesn't drive in. OPS does a good job of telling the story. His is below average compared to the average HOFer. If you're wanting to know what he could do to rate higher on this list and most other lists, it's increase his OBP and Slug %. Other than that, he is a surefire HOFer and one of the top 100 players ever in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment on your Honus Wagner ranking.

In actuality, Cobb and Wagner did not play at the same time. They played close to each other (HW: 1897-1917, TC: 1905-1928).

You may think the numbers would be close to similar, but Ty Cobb's career carried over eight years into the live ball era. The League Average during Cobb's career is higher, and so is OBP. Here are the times they've led the league:

BA: 8
RBI: 5
SB: 5

BA: 12
RBI: 4
SB: 6

I'm not arguing that Cobb is better, just that it's much closer than you think. Adjusted batting runs and adjusted batting wins show Wagner to clearly be the better player. They were both aggressive, and they were both power-hitters (each finished in top ten for homers eleven times).

However, Wagner played a much harder position. And, he is one of, if not the, best fielding shortstops of all-time. Cobb, however, was only an average fielder. I still think Cobb is better, but by a very slim margin. I'd have no problem with putting Wagner as number two, like many experts do.

David said...

Why is Cobb not first?

Even ignoring when he played in his prime (WHICH WAS THE WORST ATMOSPHERE FOR SCORING IN BASEBALL HISTORY) he has so many records.

The most important offensive statistic, the be all end all is runs produced - it simply is RUNS+RBI-HR. Ty is first.

He set so many records. He wasn't a dick (you should read more of his books).

Sadly I never saw him play, but another piece of damning evidence is - Who got the most votes for the HOF? When getting into the HOF actually meant something. Ty did - he beat Ruth.

Ty also was a fantastic fielder, not as good as Speaker, but GREAT nonetheless. Read up on it.

Another little tidbit - he stole HOME 54 TIMES! 54!

I could go on and on, but in my mind there is no comparison between him and Ruth. To rate Mays or Williams or anyone else(who is a position player) besides possibly Wagner or Ruth even close to him is a joke.

Also Crawford should be in the top 20. And Musial should be in the top 10 for sure.

Ty hit over .400 3x. He hit at basically over a .400 clip for four years straight in horrible conditions.

The guy ranks 1 in the Gray Ink test, and 2 in the Black Ink(to Ruth), and 2 in the Hall of Fame Monitor(to Musial).

He was a fantastic bunter ( a lost art in today's game) along with being a fantastic(smart) base stealer and mover. By this I mean going from 1 to 3 on a single routinely. One time he even went from first to home on an infield OUT!

The guy rushed throws like no other and rattled the other team. He was a true Most Valuable Player.

Also with Ruth his walks skew everything - OB%, OPS the works. By the end of his career he had let his body go to hell and was slow. To walk Cobb was suicidal, especially in the low scoring days. Cobb hit everybody and hit them hard. He also set off a power display where he intentionally went for HRs.

From wiki

"After enduring several years of seeing his fame and notoriety usurped by Ruth, Cobb decided that he was going to show that swinging for the fences was no challenge for a top hitter. On May 5 1925, Cobb began a two-game hitting spree that topped any even Ruth had unleashed. He was sitting in the dugout talking to a reporter and told him that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, Cobb went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double, and three home runs. His 16 total bases set a new AL record. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. A single his first time up gave him 9 consecutive hits over three games. His five homers in two games tied the record set by Cap Anson of the old Chicago NL team in 1884. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, 38-year-old Cobb had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases, and then went happily back to bunting and hitting-and-running."

If you neutralize his stats he hits over .350 a whopping FIFTEEN TIMES!

Even if you don't neutralize his stats he hit over .316, 23 years in a row!

And not that niceness has anything to do with this, but his reputation has been trashed in recent years, since his death.

Read what his contemporaries said about him. He is the BEST EVER PERIOD.

Sadly, I never saw him as I am only 20, but I've read a lot about a lot of players and no one compares with the Great Georgia Peach. :)

Jake said...


You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. However, in regards to the story you relayed from Wiki, why would Cobb intentionally be a worse baseball player? Clearly, during his two-game stint when he was “showing that swinging for the fences was no challenge” he was way more valuable than what he normally did. My question is, if it was so easy, why wouldn’t he always play that way? It doesn’t make sense.

There are a few ways to argue Cobb as the greatest of all-time. He belongs in the discussion. Ruth changed baseball. He invented “swinging for the fences.” He hit more home runs in 1920 than any other AL team. Cobb was great at what baseball already was. Ruth was so great that he changed baseball. Not to mention his prowess as a pitcher. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Roger Maris?????????????????????

Jake said...

Maris is not close to one of the top 100 players of all-time.

philsphan08 said...

I agree that Ruth is the best ever. However, you failed to mention that Ruth was also a pitcher. And a damn good pitcher at that. Cobb hit .400 when it was much easier to do so, and his on-base is weak when compared to his astonishing average. He seemed like the kind of guy who didn't like to settle for a walk! Cobb and Ruth defined their respective eras, but I believe Ruth's pitching puts him over the top.

Anonymous said...

no offense, but take all the steriod users off the list. They cheated, and should not be on here. Aspecially not in the top 10 like clemens.

Jake said...

I've provided asterisks next to the names of players who are alleged to have taken steroids. If you want a list without them, mentally remove them. I made it easy for you.

Anonymous said...

Please place an * on cal piken as well....If you think about the reasons why players used steroids...Cal Ripken seems to be the most obvious that used....Wild I know but we don;t have a positive test on Bonds either. Barry is the greatest, Roberto should be on that list.

Jake said...

Clemente is #74.

I'm not an expert on steroids but I know that one side-effect is a higher propensity for injuries. Many of the players who allegedly took steroids (Juan Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire etc.) were constantly injured. Ripken, on the other hand, was never injured. Who knows, maybe he took steroids. Maybe everyone took steroids. There's pretty good evidence on guys like Bonds. There is none on Ripken. Until there is, I'll save the *.

jf said...


Anonymous said...

NBA i've ever read...this list is off though

Anonymous said...

I know how difficult it is to make a list of the greatest players when they all play in different eras. I commend you for trying. That being said home runs and ops are not the only things in baseball that matter! Comparing Ichiro to Roberto Clemente just made me sick! Clemente is by far the best all around right fielder (not center) in history and that is a fact! Even Mays and Aaron would tell you that.

Anonymous said...

Note on that Steroid use:

I don't know if steroids put you at a greater risk for steroids or whatever, but I do know this: HGH will definitely help you play everyday. Kirk Radomski takes up about twenty-five pages in his book telling all about what HGH will do for you, and the biggest affect is allowing a player to stay at his peak for a longer time, and be able to play his best for a longer time. I'm not saying Ripken used, though.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Craig Biggio is not on the list. Over 3,000 hits and arguably has the biggest heart the game has ever seen.


First of all, great list!

Anyone who has tried compiling this kind of list knows how difficult it can be - but then, generating arguments is half the fun.

So here is my major quibble. Aaron should be higher, maybe even top 10. What's more amazing than the home runs is the RBIs. Think of it: A-Rod needs just 133 homers to reach 700. But he's 650 RBIS away from the RBI mark. No other active player is even going to sniff Aaron's 2,297. (Unless Manny can keep going for another 5 years). Aaron was also a career .305 hitter (higher than Mays), an excellent base runner (with 240 SBs), and good outfielder. He had no weaknesses.

Minor quibbles? I think J. Santana in the top 100 is premature. And I think Honus Wagner could be a tad higher. And Craig Biggio belongs in the top 100. I like the recognition you give Gary Sheffield but the comparision to Kaline simply doesn't work and not just for the sentimental reason that fans prefer one-club players to modern day mercenaries. But Sheff was always a defensive liability. Kaline won 10 Gold Gloves.

But quibbles aside, great job!


One additional comment.

Obviously one of the challenges is how much weight to give to a player's defensive prowess, especially when this can't be measured well with statistics.

And that brings to mind two ommissions. I would argue that Ozzie Smith belongs on the list. Similarly, I would think that excluding Pie Traynor is a major omission. He was overwhelmingly regarded by his peers as the best third-baseman of the first half of the century - and not just defensively. He was a .320 hitter and near-impossible to strike out.

Anonymous said...

Decent top 20 list. I have been thinking of my own ranking for years. Maybe I should get a life. I finally came up with a list in which I am happy. It excludes modern players because I want to have enought time pass to have society review their careers. For Example, Read Maury Allen's Book The Baseball 100 written in 1981. In his list he has Parker, Belanger, Rice but no Schmidt and Carlton. Also, no Steriod, HGH enhanced or suspected players. I would be temted to put Bonds in the top 5 even though he is a modern player because his numbers are just that good. Punishment is to not make the top ten. Finally no Negro League players. I love learning about some of these great players that almost all of us never seen. It is unfair for fans. But to push out a player whose numbers are known and can be compared to his peers is not fair either.

10) Hornsby (Bill James is out of his mind)
9) Aaron (Hank not Tommy)
8) Musial (underrated his NL competitors were not too great)
7) Gehrig (take Gehrig away from Ruth and Ruth may not be number 1)
6) Wagner
5) Johnson
4) Williams
3) Mays
2) Cobb
1) Ruth

Other players: Grove, Bonds, Mantle, Mathewson, Alexander, Paige, Charleston, Josh Gibson

Anonymous said...

Nolan Ryan needs to be way higher and you cant really leave Barry Bonds at 5, he's not that great in the field even without steroids he would've been good in the top 70. Nolan Ryan should be top 40.

Anonymous said...

You have compiled the best 100 greatest baseball players list I've ever seen. You really know what you're talking about when it comes to baseball.

In my personal opinion Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player to ever live if you put steiroids aside. Bonds has a record 7 MVP's, that alone is more than twice the amount of any other player. Bonds also has 8 gold gloves and in his prime was probably the second best outfielder in the bigs, the best being Ken Griffey Jr. Those 8 gold gloves are the most for a left fielder which probably makes him the greatest fielding left fielder ever, second being Yaz who had 7 gold gloves. In his prime Bonds could run too. He ended up with 514 stolen bases which is 29th all-time. He also posted a very impressive 78.5% stolen base percentage. Bonds, holds another record, which is the most silver slugger awards. Sure it wasn't around for some of the other greats, but he still won it more often than his peers. Bonds made 14 all-star appearances, which is impressive. Now to the hitting statistics, Bonds is 3rd all-time in runs scored behind Rickey Henderson and Ty Cobb, he may not have gotten 3000 hits but Bonds was only 65 off 3000. He would have eclipsed 3000 hits easily, if he hadn't been walked a million times a year. Barry also posted 601 doubles and an all-time leading 762 Homeruns, he is second all-time in extra base hits behind one Henry Aaron. Barry is 4th all-time in RBI's with 1996 behind Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Cap Anson. The man is also 4th in all-time Total Bases behind Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays. Bonds also posted a .298 average, that may not be all that great, but it is still very good, that is his only statistic that just isn't jaw-dropping. But, Bonds could still get on base, and boy did he do this well, he posted a .444 on-base percentage which is 3rd to Ruth and Williams, to go along with this he had a .607 slugging percentage which is 5th all-time behind Jimmie Foxx, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. His career OPS is 1.051 which is behind Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Babe Ruth. To go along with this he has a 182+ which is behind Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. Bonds holds the all-time record in walks and intentional walks with marks of 2558 and 688. Barry Holds the record for most runs created with 2892. He also holds one last all-time record, Power-Speed # with an astounding 613.9. Bonds may not hold every record, but he is 1st in some pretty important ones, in the ones that he's not first he's around the top 3 or top 5. He is the most complete player ever. When he was at his best he was the most dangerous hitter to ever live. In fact he posted the two highest on-base percentage marks for a single-season. He also holds the following single-season records for slugging percentage, OPS, Adjusted OPS+, Homeruns, Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Offensive Win Percentage, Walks, Intentional Walks, and At-Bats per Homerun. He also had what may have been the best season in sports history in 2004, to go along with Wilt Chamberlain's 1963 season in which he averaged 50 points and 27 rebounds a game, or Peyton Manning's 2004 season where he posted 49 passing touchdowns and a 121 quarterback rating. Bonds is just the greatest ever.

Anonymous said...

Ozzie smith,won 13 straight Gold Gloves (1980-92); played in 12 straight All-Star Games (1981-92); MVP of 1985 NL playoffs; all-time MLB assist leader (8,375); inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Top 100

MikenIken9 said...

Please explain:

Roger Maris is where?

Vlad over Griffey ....are u serious?

Smoltz and Bagwell are WAY too high

Schilling should not be on the list

Pedro is a bit too high

Manny is too high

Take Chipper off the list

Nolan Ryan is better than 76 (yes i read the explanation)

Pete Rose should be WAYYY lower at LEAST top 20

Jake said...


The onus is on you to explain yourself. Simply saying, "this guy is too high" and "this guy is too low" is something than even the most novice baseball fan can throw out there. If you want to be taken seriously, explain yourself. Explain why Manny should be lower. Tell me why Smoltz and Schilling should be lower. Tell me why Chipper Jones should be lower. Make arguments for people behind them that should be ahead of them.

The fact that you think Roger Maris is one of the top 100 players of all-time and that Pete Rose is one of the top 20 players of all-time hurts your credibility. The fact that you think Chipper Jones is not one of the top 100 players of all-time hurts it even more.

Many of your complaints involve active players which, if you read my criteria, I rate based on expected performance. Vlad hadn't unexpectedly regressed as a power-hitter when I put this list together. Still, I want to hear why Bagwell, Schilling, Smoltz, and Chipper Jones should be lower. Same with Pedro.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff man! All these people complaining are idiots and you have backed up every argument that has come your way. I love where you put Manny. Alot of guys wouldnt have the balls to put him that high up there but he at least deserves to be where you put him there is a period of over 7-8 years where he averaged around 40 hrs , 130 rbis and a 300+ average. And i agree with you about pedro. in his prime possibly the best ever.

Anonymous said...

No honorable mention for Barry Larkin? :) He did win an MVP, will be in the hall of fame soon, and is the FIRST shortstop to post a 30/30 season. I think you did great on the list. I'm just a homer for Larkin, and I know he doesn't belong in the top 100, but he's at least borderline honorable mention. Once again, nice list and some good arguments to back up your list.

Anonymous said...

definitely got most of it right. but making kirby only an honorable mention? i mean his career batting average was the highest by any right-handed American League batter in the second half of the 20th century!

Jake said...

Anon#1, I agree, Barry Larkin could certainly be listed as an "Honorable Mention."


I appreciate the comments. You’re getting awfully specific with the “best right-handed batting average in the American League in the second half of the 20th century” distinction. You could find a lot of guys out of the top 100 with a similarly specific accomplishment and claim they should be in the top 100. I don’t want to get too carried away about that one line of your comment but it’s important to note a few things; 1). Puckett only played 12 seasons. Batting Average is, obviously, an “average.” Puckett did not have to experience the diminishing results at the end of his career that 99% of MLB players have to. If other players abruptly had their careers ended before they started to decline, they too, would have an inflated batting average. 2). I haven’t done any research on this—I just thought about whether your claim was true—but I don’t think what you say is correct. Vlad Guerrero has a career batting average of .322. Now, if your criteria is that a player must only have played in the AL for his entire career (since Vlad did play in the NL at one point) then your distinction becomes even more limited and less telling. 3). Even if what you say is true about the distinction, batting average is hardly the best indicator of a player’s worth.

If Kirby Puckett should be considered one of the top 100 players of all-time, then Don Mattingly should be, too. Yet, nobody is willing to say that about Donny Baseball. In fact, if Puckett is a Hall of Famer—which he is—then Mattingly should be a Hall of Famer, too. Their numbers are nearly identical.

Kirby was a really good player but his career didn’t last long enough and his numbers just aren’t strong enough to merit inclusion into the top 100. There are just too many good players who beat him out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of that list, I think it is good. But I think you forgot about a guy named Ozzie Smith.

Cullen Helmer said...

Great list, but for one glaring oversite. George Sisler deserves so much more than just an honorable mention. In just 15 seasons he amassed 2,812 hits. In 1920 he set a single season hits record which would stand for over 80 years. Two years later he posted a .420 batting average, good for third best this century. And his .340 career average is good for fourteenth all-time (ahead of the likes of Tony Gwynn, Nap Lajoie, Paul Waner, Stan Musial, Honus Wagner, and Joe DiMaggio). As one of the greatest pure hitters ever to play the game, George Sisler is worthy of at least a top 50 spot on this list.

Unknown said...

To Jake: best way to find out how clutch most players are are look at there situation regard to Jeter...He is clutch..he may have one grand Slam his career...but has a lifetime .311 batting average with runners in scoring position....316 with 2 outs and Runners in scoring position...and .360 with bases loaded lifetime...jeter is cutch and with runners on not meaning in scoring position...319..and nobody on that means hes 300 Hitter no matter what...just saying he deserves to be on the list not cause he a yankee cause of his will to win to play through watever...and he hustles...being on the yankees just makes it harder cause u want to be good and you know when you start your career as a yankee you will be hated by every oher team the most if he was on another team...just give him credit you wont see another like him

Jake said...

Thanks for the comments, Anthony. There are two things that I want to get at. First, Jeter will be on this list. If I updated it today, he would definitely be on it. It would certainly be in the latter half and probably in the later 10%--but he'd be on it nonetheless.

The other thing--and I don't want this to get in the way of are above agreement--but I don't know how citing Jeter's .311 career batting average with runner's in scoring position or his .316 batting average with 2 outs and runners in scoring position proves he's clutch. If anything, they prove he is not clutch. Cluth means performing better in pressure situations. Jeter's career average is .317. So he hits worse with runners in scoring position. That would be the opposite of clutch.

Now, I've mentioned many times before on my blog that while I don't think clutch hitters exist in the sense that hitters can become better hitters just by trying harder, I do think clutch should mean the ability to maintain one's level of play through pressure situations. By that definition, Jeter has done a decent job of keeping his production consistent in clutch situations. I don't think he's any more of a clutch hitter than the average baseball player. Take care!

scnw2 said...

I loved the list. Thank you! You did a lot of research and have tremendous baseball knowledge. If I may bring one glaring error to your attention. I have always argued the Clemente is overrated; that being said, putting him at 74 seems WAY to low. (I can't believe that I'm actually arguing that he is underrated on a list). I think you may not give defensive prowess enough weight on this list and I do know that it is hard to measure. However, Roberto is probably the best defensive Right fielder of all time. That being said, rating players like Bagwell ahead of him seems like a crime. It seems to me that Roberto should be in the top 40 at least. I'm not sure, but I would guess that Aaron and Mays would agree.
I like that you placed Nolan Ryan as far down as you did! Certainly the most overrated player of All-time (in probably any sport).
Anyway, this was a great list and a lot of fun to read. Thanks again!

Jake said...

Thanks for the comments! If/when I update the list, I definitely plan on giving Clemente a closer look.
Take care!

Anonymous said...

You have Barry Bonds and A-Rod in the top 50 but not Kirby Puckett???? That's crazy! Puckett was better than those guys, plus they did/do steroids...

Anonymous said...

First off, I admire your work in creating a list for the four major sports. That had to have taken a long, LONG time. Much props, Jake.

The one problem I have is the omission of Lou Brock. He was the greatest base stealer of his era (holding the career and single season records at the time of his retirement) and broke several World Series records, including hitting .391 in 21 World Series games. He has 3,000 career hits, batted over .300 eight times and was a 6-time All Star. The writers voted him in on the first ballot in '85 which, as you know, is a respect paid only to the greatest of the greats in baseball history.

Like your list, I'm just sayin...

Anonymous said...

how long before people start talking about joe mauer on this list?

Jake said...

Not long at all. If he stays healthy and plays for even just a reasonable amount of time, he's going to finish in the top 50 easily.

Izzy said...

I would rate Piazza higher.

Bench threw out 43%, Piazza was at 23%. That gives him a 20% edge.

Piazza hit 40 points higher with more Homers.

I think that hitting probably created more runs than would have scored in that 20% difference in stolen bases.

Grob said...

Great list! obviously there are a few that I think are in the wrong order but there is an OMISSION

How is SANTANA in there and ROY 'DOC' HALLIDAY IS NOT??? His numbers are almost the same, he plays in the toughest division in baseball and always has, and his team has never been as good, record wise, as Santana's.

Check him out, he has and always will be the real deal.

There's a reason why all the hype of a trade this year. He is the best in the game right now.

Jake said...


When I made this list, there was a substantial difference between the two in age (relative to success), potential, and injury. Now, not so much. If I made the list today, Halladay would definitely be up there. Not sure if you read my criteria but the way I rate active players is to assume based on career progression how they will finish out there career. Santana has dropped off a bit due to injuries and a lack of run support from the Mets. They are fairly even right now but Santana has a 143 to 132 ERA+ advantage. He also has a .670 to .659 win % advantage. He also has a 1.11 to 1.20 WHIP advantage. There is a difference--not enough for one to be and one to be off the top 100, though. Take care!

Izzy said...

Newhouser's best years were when a lot of players were out in WW2. It as a lot easier to play.

Unknown said...

pretty good list, but no doubt about it based on pride,dedication and stats, joe dimaggio is the best baseball player of all time.

Unknown said...

After looking through all of your lists, I can honestly say they are the best top 100 lists I have ever seen. After questioning the placement of some, I read your reasoning and 9 times out of 10 I was convinced. I just have one question about the baseball list. Why doesn't Ivan Rodriguez (my opinion the greatest catcher to play) deserve a top 100 spot?

Jake said...

Thanks, Nathan.

Pudge might very well deserve to be in the top 100. When I put this list together, he was one of the last cuts. Although he carries a .299 batting average and a decent .807 OPS, his production leaves a lot to be desired. He was clearly one of the greatest, if not the greatest, defensive catchers of all-time. So, the question is, how much more important is Piazza's enormous offensive advantage since he's the last catcher on my list. Piazza had a .922 OPS. The difference is substantial. I'll admit that it's possible that Pudge's defensive advantage offsets Piazza's offensive advantage but you mentioned that Pudge is the greatest catcher ever. I can't go that far. I think Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra have a solid hold on that. Roy Campanella is an interesting case because his career was so short yet dominant. A similar dynamic exists with Mickey Cochrane. If Pudge is in the top 100, it's going to be somewhere in the last 12 spots behind Cochrane. At least that's how I feel right now. If/when I get a chance to revise the list, that'll be one of the first things I look at. Take care!

WC Mencken said...

Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract has Roberts as the 54th best player of all time.
He has Yogi Berra the 16th best of all time.

I ask you to reconsider.

Please note that Berra led those great Yankee teams in RBIs SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW.

Izzy said...

I think you underrate Piazza. His hitting was about as good as Thomas, Bagwell, and Griffey.

From 1993-2002, Piazza hit 322 and average 41 homers a year (162 games). His OPS+ was 154.

Piazza led the league in OPS+ 2 times. Griffey never did it.

Piazza's OPS + was higher in 95, 96, 97, 98, 2000, 01, 02.

Griffey was better in 93, 94, 99.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Ichiro is getting some
respect. Personally I think he should
be rated higher. Glad he's on the list though.

Jake said...

Ichiro is higher now than when I put this list together. By the time he's done, he'll be much higher.

Izzy said...

Do you factor in credit for his Japanese years?

Jake said...

No, I did not. I only counted stats from MLB. He surely would be much higher had be begun his career in America.

WC Mencken said...

In Major League Baseball, a regulation mound is 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, with the center 59 feet (18.0 m) from the rear point of home plate, on the line between home plate and second base. The front edge of the pitcher's plate or rubber is 18 inches (45.7 cm) behind the center of the mound, making it 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. Six inches (15.2 cm) in front of the pitcher's rubber the mound begins to slope downward. The top of the rubber is to be no higher than ten inches (25.4 cm) above home plate. From 1903 through 1968 this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, sometimes as high as 20 inches (50.8 cm), especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.

DailySkew said...

This list seems better than Bill James'...great job. Jake is much more polite than Bill is,

Quick question - I didn't have time to read all the comments- are there any other glaring ommisions in the Honorary Mentions besides Ozzie Smith (I realize that may not be controversial to some)?

Kinda off topic but here goes- it is amazing how the *talented* starting pitchers from the 1980's or 1990's just don't have the career stats to be on lists like this.

Frank Viola, Dave Stewart, Orel Hershiser, Doc Gooden, David Cone, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Dave Steib, Jimmy Key, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Bob Welch, Sid Fernandez, Doug Drabek, Andy Pettitte, Ron Guidry, Dennis Martinez, Mike Scott, Roy Oswalt, Jose Rijo, et al.

Jake said...

Thanks for the comments, Skew.

To your point about there being a glutton of pitchers from the 80's and 90's who were good but don't come close to Hall of Fame numbers--I think that's the case for every decade. A similar list for the 60's and 70's could be made including guys like Luis Tiant, Frank Tanana, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Mickey Lolich, Jim Perry, Vida Blue, Milt Pappas, and Dave McNally.

I think you've highlighted the huge difference between being "good" and "great." Good pitchers are a dime a dozen.

The only player I can think of who isn't in the honorable mention who probably should be is Barry Larkin.
Take care!

Anonymous said...

I think Jim Abbot should definately be on the list due to the fact that he's thrown two (or more) great no-hitters and has done so with NO RIGHT HAND! Yes, thats right, Abbot was born with no right handAND YET HE WAS STILL A GREAT PTCHER FOR THE YANKS IN THE 80S AND EARLY 90S

Jake said...

While I have to agree that just making it to the big leagues, let alone finishing 3rd in the Cy Young balloting is an amazing accomplishment, Abbott isn't among the top 100 players of all-time I think Abbott would tell you that himself.

Had he pitched "two or more amazing no-hitters" as you suggest, maybe he would've been. However, reality isn't as rosey as your description. Abbott pitched just one no-hitter and finished with a pedestrian ERA+ of 99.

On a sidenote, Abbott actually got two hits in 21 career at-bats. Some MLB pitchers don't hit that well with two arms.

Nolan said...

Great list. I did a similar topic on greatest pitcher/batter of all-time. A couple of players i would like to comment on though.

Nolan Ryan- i know you have gotten alot of responses on ryan about being the greatest and everything. I don't believe that he's the greatest but he should be ranked in the top 50. The teams he played with were sub-par despite the records posted earlier. Aside from the 69' Miracle Mets the Mets acculated 5 100 lose seasons in the 60's. Along with the other teams (Angels, Astros, and Rangers) the teams were decent but not nearly as good as some other pitchers on the list. Example would be Roger Clemens. Clemens played on far better teams than Ryan did. A comparsion of the 2 is this. Both are 300 win memebers. Clemens had only 30 more wins over Ryan (teams played on). Clemens ERA is 3.12 lifetime, Ryan 3.19. Ryan also allowed less hits than clemens in their career. Not to mention the single season/career K's records and 7 no-hitters. His
7th no-no was at the age of 41! He also broke the 300 K mark 6 times, last one at age 39. Clemens never even broke 300. As for awards Ryan's three best seasons 72'-74' he was beat out by Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer, and Catfish Hunter, all HOF's.

Also Whitey Ford maybe underrated. Yes his stats do stand as they may but, he has a similar situation to ted williams on years or in Ford's case games lost. If you look at Ford's #'s before 61' you see all of them are significatly less. The reason why is because of the change in managers. See when Ford first came to the Yankees Casey Stengal was their manager. He knew how good Ford was so he was very selective when Ford played, meaning less games than he was suppose to. When Ralph Houk took over in 61' he turned Ford lose and he had a 25-4 record. Also his Cy young year. 6 more wins than ever before in his career. Aside from 55' more starts and innings pitched. He also had his career high in K's that year.

Finally, my arguement on top batter/pitcher. I believe that Ted Williams should be #1 and that Walter Johnson should be ahead of Clemens. Williams first off missed 6 years in his prime (4 yrs. in war and 2 in injuries) If you were to take his average in stats during those years of absence you would see that he would come close if not top Babe Ruth in all major categories. Williams was a 16 time all-star in a 19 year career. He won the Triple Crown award twice. Only 12 people in history have ever accomplished this feat. Ted being one of two to do this twice. He has 1 MVP, was the last player to hit over .400, and is top 20 in almost every statistical category 9batters). 7th in batting average, 13th in RBI's, 16th in runs, 15th in HR's, 2nd in slugging %, and
1st in OBP. Walter Johnson was just scary. Bring a 100 mph heater and one of the best reported breaking ball. 24' World Series champ, 3 time triple crown winner. In 1913 he went 36-7 with a 1.14 era, and 243 K's. 1913 and 1924 MVP, also 4th lowest in era in one season with 1.14. 417 wins (2nd),
.599 winning %, 10th all-time in ERA, 9th in K's, and 110 shutouts in his career, 1st all-time.

Anonymous said...

Joe Mauer? Gwynn is too low along with Peter Rose and Cal Jr. Great list though

Unknown said...

How you don't have Derek Jeter in the top 100 I don't know. He's a more clutch player then half people on the list!! He's not the home-run guy but that's not the only thing it's about, i would put him somewher ein the top 40 for sure, considering you have Pujols that high.

Jake said...


I made this list two years ago. At the time, Jeter was a fringe-100 player. He was one of my last cuts. Mauer was definitely not a top 100-player. Right now, though, both definitely are. Neither are in the top 50 at this point. Jeter would probably be between 75-100. Mauer--if he stays healthy--will easily crack the top 50 and could even reach the top 20. Take care!

Unknown said...

where is charlie gerhinger, did i miss him. I saw clemente play, to reduce him to stats is an insult, he could easily be in been top 20, he was tremedous on basepaths, caught everything, cannon for an arm, and a tough clutch hitter.p.s. greatest all round ballplayer was joesph paul dimaggio. forget mays catch in 54 series, what about dimaggs of lieber in 36 series.

Jake said...

Gehringer is # 87. I've mentioned a few times in the comments that Clemente probably should be a little higher. However, his power numbers (130 OPS+)have to be put into perspective. That isn't nearly good enough to be top 20.

zekron said...

What about brooks robinson? He was the best oriole's player ever! btw I hate the orioles

Jake said...

He was literally the last cut, or player #101. It was a difficult decision but his hitting left a lot to be desired which is why he ultimately missed the cut.

Mike Markwell said...

I think you put to much in the OPS+ Ichiro is a great player possibly top twenty. Who cares if he cant round the basses with one swing. He makes up for it with speed, contact, and fielding.
Also i have to disagree with you about Nolan Ryan. I realize he isn't the best pitcher ever but his ability to do what he did for so long makes him great.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic list however I think Pujols deserves to be even higher. HAving never taken steroids he's hit over 30 homeruns a year for the last 9 seasons (366 career)
has a 172 career OPS+ (sixth all time best of any current player). A career average of .334(highest of any current player) all nine seasons have been 100+ and 8 of the 9 have been 100+ run seasons. 3 MVPs and rookie of the year. He also has on gold glove and has taken his team to the World series twice and the playoffs many more times.

No doubt one of the best the game has ever seen. He deserves a better ranking than Bonds and Bonds is(was) one of my favorite players. Bonds and Clemens are both severely over rated but specifically Clemens Bonds at least has 6 MVPs.

I am a bit biased i'm a lifelong Cards fan.

Anonymous said...

Clemente: Best defense of All time
Best success against hall of fame pitchers..everything else is just batting practice.
Best ever according to most mgrs/ex-players.
Mays the only other REAL 5 tool player.
IF 5 tool players aren't the best then the format of the game is flawed ie. when they put up the outfield wall/fences they rewarded trajectory over bat speed/athleticism. Like west coast offense/west coast computer has Clemente 18% better than anyone with NO outfield WALL...take down the walls or reward home runs much less value and reward defense much more to equate athleticism! Mays/Clemente then marketing!

Anonymous said...

Great List, but i think that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard deserve at least honorable mention if they dont make the list. Utley is clearly the best 2nd basemen in the world right now (offensively and defensively) hands down. And Ryan Howard has been one of the most consistent run producers and most dangerous power hitters in the league since his career began (all K's aside). Also,(i know im going a little philly crazy) but did Richie Ashburn or Tug McGraw even recieve a thought?

Jake said...

Keep in mind this is a dated list. It does include the last two seasons. So, Utley and Howard were nowhere close to a top 100 discussion. I do agree that both look like they'll be there before too long. Utley could've been the G.O.A.T at second base but the dude has horrendous injury luck. Howard will definitely be there.

As for McGraw and Ashburn, sure they got consideration. I considered everyone. Were they close to the top 100? Definitely not. That's no knock on them. The top 100 is elite company. Take care!

Miss Melissa Master of Movement said...

I'm wondering why Satchel Paige isn't listed. Did I miss his name somewhere?

Tom said...

Great list,

My only disagreement with this list is Jeff Bagwell. He was a great players, but #66 is a bit high, if he even deserves the top 100 at all. He played 15 seasons. That's a decent length career, yet in all fifteen seasons, he only hit above .300 six times. Many others on this list have hit .300 nearly every single season in their careers. He is not a career .300 hitter. He is far from 3,000 hits, only having 2314. He won a single MVP award, and finished in the top 5 only two other times. He only won a single gold-glove, and, for someone who is considered a slugger, he doesn't even have 500 career HRs.

He had a career OPS+ of 149, which is very good, borderline excellent, but aside from that, he doesn't really have anything else that backs up his placement on this list.

Thanks, Tom.

Izzy said...

Bagwell deserves to be higher. He has A career 408 OBP. That's one of the best marks of all time. Who cares if he doesn't have 500 homers. If he had played an extra 4 years and sucked, but gotten to 500 homers, it wouldn't have made him any better of a player. He stole 30 bases twice. He hit 40 homers several times and hit 30 homers nearly every year. He doubled a lot and had big years. He won the MVP in 1994, but he was better than the actual winner in 96, and maybe 97.

tft037 said...

I do appreciate all the thought and work you put into this list. Your knowledge about baseball is amazing. The only person not on this list that should be is Derek Jeter. As much as I hate the man, he could go down in Yankee history as the greatest leader they've ever had. He is a consistent performer and fantastic in the clutch. There are few in baseball that can stand at the plane with two outs in the bottom of the nineth and come through as often as he does.

Jake said...


This list doesn't include the last two seasons. At the time I put this together, Jeter was one of the last two or three cuts. He is definitely in the top 100 today and will probably climb towards the top 50 pretty quickly. Thanks for the comments!

WC Mencken said...

What happened to Robin Roberts?
Years 1950 to 1956 All Star
Years 1950 to 1956
You cite Cy Young awards and votes but most of Robert's career
was limited to All Star and MVP recognition.

And you have Marichal 89?

You should switch Marichal and Koufax.

Match up Roberts, Marichal, and Koufax sans their top 3 seasons and see them in a different perspective.

Also you have the most important regular player, the catcher, as the 42nd best player? How about factoring in all the non-statistical contributions a catcher makes to his team.

Please remember Berra led the most successful Yankee teams ever, with Mickey and Joe, in rbis 7 years in a row.

TommyFilmProductions said...

I really enjoyed your list. Very rarely do I agree with an "opinion" list as much as I have yours. The only changes I would make would be to move Mariano Rivera and Mike Schmitt MUCH further down the list, and Tony Gwynn and Nolan Ryan much further up. Closers like Rivera generally have low ERA's cause they can really focus on those one or two final innings. If Rivera was a starter, he would not even remotely have the stats he has. As for Schmitt, his career average sucks. (not to say he wasn't good). Tony Gwynn was a BILLION times better. Your arguements for why Gwynn and Ryan are so low on the list is because they played for terrible teams the majority of their careers. You shouldn't base the player on that. STILL... I love your list. Good job.

Dave Sanchez said...

You do have the right idea but you forgot about Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and Ivan Rodriguez. I mean I do know its the top 100 but Andre Dawson!

Izzy said...

Andre Dawson doesn't even deserve to be in the HOF. He has a miserable career 323 OBP.

Anonymous said...

Dawson is a reasonable choice,Politicator is suffering from a SABR mainstay. OBP unfortunately includes base on balls which to great hitters is a form of WELFARE! As George Will has said...'you can't walk off an island'when referring to greats like Clemente...simply substitute (good pitching)for (island)and you have Dawson's scenario. A 'walks as good as a hit' is for little league coach's sons & SABR robots...waiting for a walk in '60's NL was pure folly!

Anonymous said...

My compliments on a fantastic job on a daunting assignment. The reasoning and analytical rigor are creditable achievements and provide the greatest pleasure to all us lifetime fans who ponder these distinctions so seriously. It would be fabulous news to learn you were contemplating an annual update.

Jake said...

Thanks, I appreciate the comments! "Contemplation" isn't the issue. I contemplate an update all the time. My problem is actually doing it. It took so long to do this the first time that I'm hesitant to undergo the same endeavor on an annual basis. I haven't ruled it out, though. As the months go by and this list becomes more and more outdated, I suspect I'll get to a point where I'm not happy with the product. Thanks again and take care!

WC Mencken said...

I appreciate your efforts but
I think you may have gotten caught up with adding recent players. 27%?

5) Barry Bonds*
6) Roger Clemens*
20) Greg Maddux
23) Albert Pujols
24) Alex Rodriguez*
32) Pedro Martinez
35) Manny Ramirez*
39) Vladimir Guerrero
40) Ken Griffey Jr.
49) Frank Thomas
50) Mariano Rivera
54) Mark McGwire*
64) Curt Schilling
65) Gary Sheffield*
66) Jeff Bagwell
68) Johan Santana
69) Chipper Jones
70). John Smoltz
71). Tom Glavine
75). Jim Thome
76). Nolan Ryan
85). Rafael Palmeiro*
91). Sammy Sosa*
94) Paul Molitor
95) Mike Piazza
96). Cal Ripken Jr.
100). Ichiro Suzuki

Jake said...

WC Mencken,

I think you're off base. Nolan Ryan's career started in the 60's. Paul Molitor's career started in the 70's. Cal Ripken's career started in the 80's. Jim Thome's career started in the 90's. Albert Pujol's career started in the 2000's. The list of players you put down as "recent" includes players from the 60's all the way through to the present. I only considered players who played after 1900. I think if you wrote out the proportions of players from each era, you'd find that they are in line with each other.

However, considering the number of teams that existed before 1950 and the number that existed after, if I was truly looking for a fair representation of each era, I would need to include more recent players than I have.

Anonymous said...

Ivan Rodriguez is the best catcher in MLB history. He's the best defensive catcher by a mile and put up offensive numbers that no defensive catcher ever came close to.
Total joke that he's not in the top 25.
Barry Bonds is also hands-down No. 2 all time. Compare his numbers to anyone but Ruth and nobody comes close. A speed player (600+ sb's) and the Home Run King.
Rickey Henderson is ranked too low also. He's arguably Top 5. His impact wasn't just about his numbers - he impacted games like nobody. He raised his team's batting average by opening a hole between first and second and constantly being in scoring position.
Pretty good list other than those players getting completely misplaced.

Izzy said...

Ivan Rodriguez isn't even a top 100 player. He isn't great offensively, and Piazza is much better. In fact, Piazza should be higher on the list. Pudge played in a hitters park and barely ever walked, which are both factors that people overlook. Bench was a "defensive catcher" and put up much better offensive numbers.

I agree that Bonds should be #2, but Henderson shouldn't be top 5. He should be around 30th.

Izzy said...

A walk isn't quite as good as a hit, but it sure is close. Plus, I don't think that anything else Dawson did puts him in the hall. A mediocre average, along with power that was good, not great. Sure he could steal bases, but that added very little to his career value. His defense was good, but overrated.

Roger Schuettke said...

This is great stuff, the one thing i dont understand is why Ichiro is at 100. He is the most talented hitter with the exception of Albert Pujols in today's game.

Jake said...

Thanks, Roger. Ichiro would be much higher on the list now than when I put it together. That was the one drawback of including active players. Things change quite a bit in just a few seasons. Don't get me wrong, Ichiro has always been good. However, part of the equation has always been longevity. Now that he is adding that to his resume, he has and will skyrocket. Take care.

Anonymous said...

You've got Roy Halladay to low on your list. Oh wait a minute, he's not on the list. Well at least you have him as an honorable mention. Oops! Not there either.

Jake said...

You're right...two years ago when Halladay had just 111 career wins, he was one of the top 100 players of all-time. Solid point. Maybe I should've included Evan Longoria, too.

KP said...

The day that Vladimir Guerrero is better than Robin Yount will never come...I like your list. It's backed up by good stats, facts, and numbers. Robin Yount not being in the top 100...come on...He won an MVP 2 times at two different tough positions, SS and CF, led all hitters in the 1980's in hits, 6 time all star, batted amazing in post season play, etc.

Bob R said...

Well done Jake!

I laugh at those people who think Nolan Ryan is too low. Jake's comments were spot on. To the people who say Ryan played on bad teams compare his numbers with Frank Tanana who played on the same teams.

1975 Cal 16-9, 2.62
1976 Cal 19-10, 2.43
1977 Cal 15-9, 2.54
1978 Cal 18-12, 3.65
Totals 68-40, 2.79

1975 Cal 14-12, 3.45
1976 Cal 17-18, 3.36
1977 Cal 19-16, 2.77
1978 Cal 10-13, 3.72
Totals 60-59, 3.29

How come Tanana was able to win on these "bad" Angel teams? Maybe if Ryan had a better winning percentage his teams wouldn't have been so bad.

I really laughed at the comment from Nolan who said the Mets lost 100 games five times in the 60's. Ryan wasn't even on the team any of those years.

True, Ryan's no-hitter and strikeout records will probably never be broken but neither will his walk and wild pitch records.

Ryno23 said...

I enjoyed this list thoroughly. Having said that, I am a believer that Cobb is #1 all time and I will not beat a dead horse by bringing up more stats, but Cobb retired with 93 records and that is nothing short of amazing.
I also believe that current players should not be one the list. I think Pujols is one of the best players of all time, but if he has a career ending injury next season he doesn’t finish his career in the top 100. You cannot simply estimate what the remainder of their career will be.
As for steroids users I like the asterisks, but I think they should lose something on the rankings. For those who think Bonds is anywhere near the top 10 if you were to set aside the steroids issue would not feel the same if Bonds set aside the steroids. His career benefited greatly from steroids use. You can look at Clemens and say he was great before steroids and great after, but that cannot be said about Bonds. He was above average before steroids and horrible after. He could still hit the long ball but if he didn’t he couldn’t run to first. Bonds needs to be off the list or no higher than 10.

Anonymous said...

Roger Clemens higher than Randy Johnson? Johnson has more strikeouts that Clemens and he didn't use steroids. I'm not saying Johnson should be 5 or something but he should definently be higher than Clemens

Roger Schuettke said...

Oh and also jake, I think Griffey deserves a higher ranking. His injuries are somewhat like Ted Williams missing five years because of war service.

Anonymous said...

What about Bobby Doerr, Red Sox all-star 2nd baseman?

Jake said...

Doerr is definitely worthy of an honorable mention. His numbers and accolades are very good for a 2b. Although, he's probably not one of the top 10-15 players who didn't make this list.

Anonymous said...

i just loved the comment that "grant" made way above about michael young of the texas rangers and quoting all-star game stats. he claims that ichiro had 21 all-star at bats with an average of .333, while michael young had the same average with only 9 at bats!

summary: less all-star games.


Anonymous said...

Great list,
Good call putting bonds at number 5 because he definetaly deserves that,(maybe even better.) but i feel willie mays should be at least number 3 because he did serve in the korean war for a year and still hit 660 homeruns in the polo grounds and candlestick park... Not exactly yankee stadium if you know what i mean.

Anonymous said...

Very good list overall... But where is Arky Vaughan? Not even an honorable mention? Just for starters, he set a 20th century NL record for batting average in 1935, had a higher career OPS+ than George Brett, and is among the top fielding shortstops of all time, among many other accomplishments. If Luke Appling gets an honorable mention, than Vaughan certainly deserves one.

Jake said...

No question. Vaughan certainly deserves an "honorable mention." I have added him to the list.

Modern VS Oldies said...

Maris should be on there he was a great right fielder and the homerun king at one point, and was only beat by Mark because he was on steroids, actually every homerun hitter that beat him was on steroids and you have Mark on there so Maris should be on there as well.

Unknown said...

where is derek jeter?vlad gurerro is to high. but everything else it is a pretty good list.

R said...

Hahaha, for as much of a baseball fan as I am, it truly humors me to see how stupid the biased and uneducated comments on this list really are. Jake, I give you props because I have seen many lists online over the last couple years and none of them have been more accurate to the way I think quite like this one (as most fans really dont understand the importance of averages and comparing players to the league). I understand Clemens will always be your number one pitcher but I still think the steroids players should be punished more. Other than that, the only change I would make, as mentioned before, would be Henderson. I wouldn't rank him anywhere near top 5 but in the top half for sure simply due to his contributions. Oh and for those of you who don't think Vlad is better than people like Yount, you're clearly not a big enough baseball nerd to be commenting on this site.

Anonymous said...

jeter, ryan howard, delgado, mauer, todd helton, ROY HALLADAY.

Possible Futures: broxton, timmy linc., carl crawford, perdroia, youki, carpenter, braun.

Jake said...

Thanks, R. A while back I decided it was just a waste of everyone's time to include insulting comments. You would be even more surprised at idiocy if you were privy to those.

Anonymous, this list was made three seasons ago. At that time Jeter was the last player out of the top 100 and Halladay was still not worthy of the top 100. Obviously, both are well within the top 100 now.

jbrass said...

Baseball is about winning. Winning means the league pennant and then the World Series. Two great winners were Whitey Ford (Chairman of the Board), the best money pitcher ever, and Reggie Jackson, Mr October. Both of these players should be ranked higher.

WC Mencken said...

I love the effort you've put into your list. You don't seem to agree with the stats I've presented of the late Robin Roberts and some others but that's the fun of sport's debate.

I think the math of MLB and other pro sports slips by many of us.

Today there are twice as many teams in the National League and almost that in MLB as there were in the 50s and prior. Factor that and the expansion of pro sports in general has resulted huge dilution of talent available to MLB.

What does that mean? What is the result? It means that facing lesser players 50% or more of the time pads statistics of the better players.

That and only pitching 6 or 7 innings a game with 4 or 5 days rest diminishes the super GREATNESS of those super E.R.A. and other pitching stats.

Izzy said...

The league has not been diluted. The population of the U.S. is so much higher now, not to mention the addition of latin american ballplayers, which I would say more than make up for expansion, which has a minimal effect.

Anonymous said...

Jeter isnt on the list, are you crazy, he is the all time yankeees hit leader, one of the best paly off performers ever, and one 5 world series (and counting0 im not saying he should be in the top 25, or even top 50 bu he desearves to be on thi list!

Jake said...

I've addressed this in the comments a few times before but Derek Jeter would be on the list today. This list was put together three years ago. He would fall somewhere between 65 and 80, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Nolan Ryan never had a bad season. He was one on one the most feared pitcher, possibly ever. He threw all of these "never bad" seasons consistently and for a long time. Bert Blyleven was also considered a "very feared" pitcher during his time and had a similar career to Ryan as far as big numbers and longgevity(totally different style, well in most ways. They played on crappy teams and didn't get the run support. Hank Aaron calls him the best that he saw in that time.

Tim Raines, solid player. When it comes down to it, how many leadoff hitters get on base as much as him career wise now? answer: none, not even Ichiro. Raines was better career then Ichiro, so far, at getting on base, and hit for slightly more power. Ichiro has a unique style, a lack of injury and I would not say that Raines is better, but he is one of the best leadoff hitters to play the game. He also batted higher then Henderson (I know Ichiro batted higher then Raines and that Henderson has a higher OB%). All three are great, Raines should not be left out.

Ozzie Smith. Maybe the best D player ever (certainly recognized). A very underrated hitter, the guy never struck out! Always put the ball into play. They don't make players like that anymore, it was fun to watch that guy play. He did that much more for the game, something was always going to happen with that guy!

Anonymous said...

"Couldn't you say the same about the pre-1947 white players? We really don't have any way of knowing how good they really were being that they played when the talent pool was limited. I think you misplaced your asterisks, they should go in front of Ruth, Mathewson, Cobb, W. Johnson, etc. "

But you could also say that the pre 1947 and the pre 1975 players were the pure baseball players who participated in games as intended without the ritual of endless specialization and robot like care provided players.

Is today's MLB much more that a humanized, dumbed down version of computerized fantasy baseball?

Anonymous said...

Pretty good but I would have argue with you on your ranking of Nolan Ryan. Granted he was a bit wild, but when you throw that hard for that long you are going to walk a lot of batters as well as strike out a lot. If you look at his stats towards the early part of his career he walked a lot more than towards the end of his career but the strike outs were still there. He also played on awful teams. Five post seasons in 27 years in terrible. Comparing to today his era's would rank in the top 10 during any season since he retired. I have also read interviews with players that have faced him saying that he was the toughest pitcher they have ever faced, and this is a guy who has faced both Roger Maris and Mark McGuire to give a time line perspective.

To compare Nolan Ryan to Frank Tanana is absurd. Just because he was slightly better over a 4 year span means absolutely nothing. In 1974 Tanana was 14-19 with a 3.12 and Ryan was 22-16 with a 2.89 both pitched for the Angels. Between '75 and '78 the Angels finished 6th, 4th, 5th and 2nd in the AL west. No body was winning on those teams.

Ryan was one of the most dominate pitchers for 27 seasons and he beat the crap out of Robin Ventura.

Anonymous said...

Honas Wagners deserves to be up higher, same with Jackie Robinson but I agree with most of the rest. It was a mistake putting new players in though, it srewed up the list. It's still possible that their career's amy take a dip.

Anonymous said...

Manny is higher than Griffey Jr.?? Hmmm...

Ted M. said...

This is one of the best efforts I have ever seen at this daunting task. The main challenges to me have always been 1) where to rank the negro league greats; 2) comparing players from different eras and 3) how to compare and contrast pitchers vs. non-pitchers. That said, I have always included Paige, Gibson and Charleston on my list given the many reputable historians who not only include them in top 50 lists, but who rate these three very high--often in the top 10 of all time. I am particularly impressed with the way you have mixed in recent players such as ARod, Pujols and Mariano Rivera. My main disagreements are with Mel Ott, Hank Greenberg and Vlad Guerrero, but there are certainly credible cases to be made for all three. Excellent work overall.

Anonymous said...

I think we can say without a doubt if you updated this list Joe Mauer would be on this list. Just as you out Albert at #23 3 years ago, after only 6 seasons.

Jake said...

Fo sho!

mcsms93 said...

I dont know how Manny Ramirez is better than Ken Griffey Jr. There is two parts of Baseball offense and defense. Not only was Griffey a better hitter but a better fielder. Ramirezs' defense is laughable at best. Griffey is a top 20 player. Also Hank Aaron deserves to be higher than 21. You have also ranked Albert Pujols on what you believe he will do not what he has done. He does not deserve to be in the top 20...YET. Sosa could be a little higher. top 75 at least. besides those few i thought you nailed it.

Anonymous said...

jake, just wondering how you feel about bryce harper? you think he will be as great as said?

Jake said...

You never know with baseball prospects but I think Harper is going to be good if he stays healthy. He also needs to avoid burning out or ending up on the wrong side of the tracks (like Josh Hamilton). He's only 17 and that brings some added risks compared to the average elite prospect. If he can continue his OCD like focus on baseball, then I think we'll see him become a star. The Nats could help him out by sticking with their original decision to move him to the outfield.

Anonymous said...

Like the list but i think mike young should be a part of the list for sure

Unknown said...

Dude Nolan Ryan is probably the 3 or 4 pitcher ever he should be higher besides longevity is part of every sport it takes heart to play that long. Satchel Paige should be considered as well, and take roger out of the top 10 and this is a good list

Anonymous said...

where is roger maris

erik5150vh said...


I've agreed on virtually all of your rebuttals and I like this lis a lot in general. I created a similar one back in he late-90s that created some buzz within my inner circle of sports enthusiast family and friends.

One question I need o ask you is that I see a lot of mention by you to statistics like OPS+ and ERA+ as deciding factors in where to rank a particular player, or not.

However I don't see much mention of WAR (sometimes referred to as WARP), which sabermetrically calculates "Win Above Replacement Player" value.

To me this is the ultimate modern era statistic, outdoing even the aforementioned OPS+ and ERA+ if for no other reason than it combines all aspects of a players' value; hitting, running, fielding, etc. Ditto that for the pitchers.

Did you take this stat into consideration while compiling this list? And if not do you think the ranking would look a bi different if you had?

Jake said...

Thanks for the compliment, Erik! I did not take WARP into consideration. It wasn't for any other reason than ease of obtaining ERA+ and OPS+. I'm pretty sure--maybe I'm wrong here and, if so, please let me know--that baseball-reference did not include WARP in their player stats when I started putting this list together back in 2007. Now, of course, WARP is much easier to find. I think the list probably would've been different with WARP. I can't imagine it would be that much different but I'm sure some close calls would've gone the other way.

Anonymous said...

joe d. should be in the top 10 and derek jeter should be inthe top 100 at the least and at the max should be in the top 20 hes just like other yankee greats. and barry bonds did the steiroids and he should be in the top 20 at the max as well. and 1 one more thing pete alexander should be in the top 10. otherwise great list

Quinn Edward Smith said...

There are a few minor things I would change, but for the most part it's a pretty good list. I think you should put Rogers Hornsby a little higher though.

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty good list, but I think that you should put both Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle higher. Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm a Yankee fan, but Mantle in particular deserves more that number 16. I totally agree with you otherwise.

Alec said...

I think now that we know what Frank Thomas did in his last couple of years in the MLB, he should be taken off the list comepletley. Or, at least in the very low 90's at the best. Just a thought!

randy said...

this is a very thought provoking list,, it is so difficult to rank players,,, especially for those of us who have never seen the " old timers " play.. i make my 'lists' by only ranking the ball players that i have seen in person or on the television. i also delete any player that has been tarnished by suspected peds. that said,some of 'my' greatest include griffey, pedro m. jeter, the big unit, willie mays, koufax, morgan, rose , seaver, bench, ichiro,henderson, killibrew, molitar, ripken, nolan ryan, murray, brett, steve carlton, king albert,clemente, ozzie, bob gibson, maddox, tony gwynn, thomas, alomar, sandberg, schmitt, ivan r., raines,

Anonymous said...


Ahhh....the truth is finally coming out about the latest 'statistics' charade which followed the Mcgwire/Sosa charade.Google 1. Yes, Roberto Clemente really did have excellent power and 2. Roberto Clemente BR bullpen(check out the 'tools' section). Perhaps when hispanics become the MONEY demographic they'll get an accurate account in the all time pecking order.

Wes said...

You could have made this list a whole lot better. Pete Rose should be atleast in the top 15 or 20 instead of juicers like Bonds and Mcgwire. If you want to talk about statistic's, McGwire had low batting averages (example:1991-.201
2001-.187 1987-.189.) Mcgwire should not be nowhere in this list, he used roids and still had bad average.

Whitey Ford should be higher on the list for one reason : he did not pitch enough games in his prime. Casey Stengal would have Ford pitch every 5-6 games in the '50s. When Ralph Hounk became manager in '61 (Ford was 32,) he would have whitey pitch every 4 games. Whitey was a 20 game winner twice in his late thirties. Ford also missed couple of seasons due to he was in war. I would like to see Roger Maris and Thurman Munson on a mention list.

Q Smith said...

Pretty god list. I think Tony Gwynn and Nolan Ryan are a little low. I agree that Nolan Ryan is over-rated, but he was still an amazing pitcher.

Steve Trolman said...

I realize that you did this quite awhile ago but just had to say how much I enjoyed it. Of course there are bound to be disagreements and I certainly have some but it's great job you did.

My question regards something you wrote about Nolan Ryan:

"Nolan Ryan’s career ERA+ is 111. 120 is pretty respectable. 130 is getting very good. 140+ is great"

Isn't that a bit unrealistic to set the bar so high on "great"? If you remove relievers, guys who are still playing, very old timers and guys who didn't even pitch 3000 innings that leaves you with Lefty Grove and Clemens who have a 140+. hehe. Quite exclusive

Steve Trolman said...

I like ERA+ also as a pitching stat but prefer WHIP. Do you take that stat into consideration? I mean it stands to reason that if you're not giving up many hits or walks you're giving your team a pretty good chance to win. I confess to being an unapologetic Mets fan so of course I love Seaver. If you look at WHIP and remove the relievers, pre war pitchers and guys who didn't even pitch 3000 innings, Seaver looks much better

Jake said...

Steve, thanks for the comments! I think the "great" thing is just a matter of semantics. A 140 ERA+ is certainly "great." I wouldn't necessarily call 130 "great." I think it's "very good." I do agree that "great" begins somewhere higher than 130 and lower than 140. If you look at the all-time list and remove relievers, 135 looks to be a reasonable starting point for "great."

As for WHIP, yep, I took WHIP into consideration. The hard thing about WHIP, though, is it's not adjusted like ERA+. I think I would've focused even more on WHIP had their been a WHIP+ or something like that. I like "apples to apples" comparisons. Seaver's WHIP was outstanding and I certainly accounted for it. Also I re-read what I wrote on Seaver and I regret taking the angle that I did. Instead of explaining why he shouldn't be considered the best pitcher of all-time, I should've talked more about why he is one of the 30 best players in baseball history. That was a misguided effort on my part.

Anonymous said...

Albert Pujols is the best ever.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I took so long responding, but I've spent three years looking for George Sisler. Still haven't found him. No Duke Snider either. But on balance, the best top 100 baseball list I've ever seen. Much better than Sporting News. My own top 10 -- 1) Ruth, of course 2) Ty Cobb 3) Walter Johnson 4) Ted Williams 5) Lou Gehrig 6) Willie Mays 7) Christy Mathewson 8) Honus Wagner 9) Joe DiMaggio 10) Mickey Mantle 11) Hank Aaron 12)Rogers Hornsby 13) Lefty Grove 14) Stan Musial 15) Pete Alexander 16) Roger Clemens 17) Warren Spahn 18) Steve Carlton 19) Nolan Ryan 20) Nap Lajoie Sorry, Barry.

Stan daMann said...

The "runs created" statistic is overrated and overemphasized. Tony Gwynn is way too low on your list.

Willie Mays is by far and away the second best player of all time. The stats emphasis has no way of judging defense, speed, baserunning, and overall baseball savvy.

Willie was regarded as a baseball genius. He knew all the hitters, he knew how each of his pitchers was attacking them, he read the hitters to see where they were going, he positioned his fielders.
He matched the Cobb speed, hustle and savvy with the Ruth power. Willie was a man among boys; so say the players of that era almost unanimously-- he was the best.

The two most overrated hall of famers, who also do not belong on your list, are Ryne Sandberg, and Cal Ripken. Sandberg was a 3rd baseman playing second who didn't have the range required for the position, and was an average hitter.

Ripken's average year was around 24home runs, 85 RBI, and .285 average. Those are not hall of fame or top 100 numbers.

He was a below average defensive shortstop. Because his relatives were managers and coaches on the team, he was allowed to play every day and go for the record.

He played when he was tired and hurt, when a healthy player would have done better than him that day. Had he been rested, he would have played better in subsequent games. In some respects, he was the most selfish player of all time.

The list seriously underrates Roberto Clemente. He was a phenomenal clutch player, who could turn it on in pressure situations when he was really needed. In 14 world series games, he got at least one hit in every game. And each time, his team was a huge underdog, but won anyway.

Clemente also had more outfield assists than any player after 1920. He was a demon on the field who always gave 100%. He won multiple batting titles in a pitchers' era.

In today's era of new stats, I would like to see a stat showing batting average and RBI in the late innings of close games, over a player's career, and over each season. This stat would unearth some remarkable baseball knowledge, and would show many just how good Clemente was.

(I would also like to see how Billy Williams did with that statistic. He was a great clutch hitter in his prime.)

Stan daMann said...

My list has always had Ruth as number 1. He quite possibly could have been the best pitcher of all time. He was regarded by the other players and media as the second best pitcher in baseball after Walter Johnson. But I believe there is some stat that shows Ruth beat Johnson more often in head to head meetings.

Willie Mays is clearly the second best player of all time; that is almost as obvious as Ruth being the best.

I have not really distinguished the difference between the next group, so I will just list them all together:

Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Walter Johnson, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron

Anonymous said...

I think you also have to discount the fact that players from 1980-present have the luxury of being a DH. Because of this, many players (Frank Thomas, Gary Sheffield, Rafael Palmerio, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero) had their careers extended because they didn't have the day to day grind of fielding. Mantle, Mays, McCovey all could have extended their careers if they were a DH.

Anonymous said...

Eddie "Cocky" Collins 2B Played 24 seasons. .333 career hitter, 3300 hits, 744 stolen bases, AL MVP in 1914, 4x world series champion, HALL OF FAMER. Definitely needs to be on the list wouldn't you say?

Anonymous said...

I respect anyone who comes up with an all-time top 100 list. That is very difficult to do. Obviously there are a number of different opinions. I disagree with a few players rankings, but good job. I will say one thing, I think people put too much emphasis on how many wins a pitcher has. Yes it's important for the team, but I don't think you can fault a pitcher for being on a bad team. I think ERA and strikeouts more so determine a good pitcher.

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