Greatest Players of All-Time Series: First Basemen by Total Offense
The following post represents Part Two in a presentation on the best First Basemen in the history of baseball. This list covers the greatest offensive players at the position. Part Three will list the best defensive performers at First Base.
#15 (2 tied):
Orlando Cepeda played first base for the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and other teams for 17 years in the 1960s and the 1970s. He was a member of 7 All-Star squads and won the 1967 NL MVP Award. He was a consistent offensive producer and was annually a top RBI contributor. He is a member of Cooperstown.
Harmon Killebrew played mostly first base for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins for 22 seasons from 1954 to 1975. He was a feared power hitter, winning 6 home run crowns, and smashing 573 home runs for his career. He won the AL MVP in 1969, and was elected to the Hall of Fame.
#13 (2 tied):
Will “The Thrill” Clark was a first baseman and team leader for mostly the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers for 15 seasons in the 1980s and the 1990s. He was a dangerous clutch-hitter, always at or near the top in game-winning hit stats. He was a member of 6 All-Star teams, and batted .303 for his career.
Willie McCovey, known as “Stretch,” was a dangerous power hitter who played first base for 22 years for mostly the San Francisco Giants in the 1960s and the 1970s. He won the NL MVP Award in 1969, and also won 3 adjusted OPS titles. McCovey was the last guy you wanted to see at the plate with runners in scoring position. He is in the Hall of Fame.
#12: Jim Thome
Jim Thome played mostly DH and first baseman for 21 years for the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox during the 1990s and the 2000s. He had an unusual combination of power and a good knowledge of the strike zone to always place high in OPS stats. Thome is one of the career leaders in bases-on-balls. He played the game “right”and was a prolific run producer.
#11: Roger Connor
Roger Connor was one of the best all-around players of the nineteenth century. He was a power-hitting first baseman who was a good fielder. An 18-year veteran, his career batting average was .316, and he slugged a nineteenth century record 138 home runs. Connor also led the League in fielding percentage for first basemen 4 times. He is a member of Cooperstown.
#9 (2 tied):
Todd Helton is one of the finest first basemen ever. Even when allowing for the fact that he has played mostly at Coors Field, his offensive stats are noteworthy. At the time of this publication, Helton has played 15 seasons with the Colorado Rockies, and has a career batting average of .323. He has won a batting title and 4 Silver Slugger crowns. He has also been an All-Star 5 times.
Frank Thomas was a first baseman and DH for mostly the Chicago White Sox for 19 seasons. He slugged 521 home runs, and won consecutive AL MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994. Thomas won 4 OPS crowns and has the 10th best Bases-on-Balls totals for a career. He was a ferocious slugger, handily earning the nickname, “The Big Hurt.”
#7 (2 tied):
Buck Leonard was the backbone of the fabled Homestead Grays from 1934 to 1950. He was a clutch-hitting, slick-fielding first baseman who played in a record 11 East-West All-Star games in the Negro Leagues. He was the long-time Captain of the Grays, and a great field leader. His offensive style was often compared to that of Lou Gehrig. Leonard is a member of the Hall of Fame.
Johnny Mize was a first baseman who played 15 seasons with mostly the St. Louis Cardinals and both New York teams–the Giants and the Yankees. He lost 3 years to military service, and still found time to win 4 home run crowns and a batting title. He batted .312 for his career, and was chosen for 10 All-Star teams. He is a member of Cooperstown.
#6: Jeff Bagwell
Jeff Bagwell was originally a 4th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, who played 15 years with the Houston Astros. He became the first National Leaguer in a season to finish first or second in batting average, home runs, RBIs, and runs scored since the great Willie Mays in 1955. He slugged 449 home runs, and led the National League in runs scored 3 times. He was selected for 4 All-Star games, and won the NL MVP in 1994. Bagwell also won 5 Silver Slugger Awards.
#4 (2 tied):
Dan Brouthers was a first baseman who was one of the most feared sluggers of the nineteenth century. He played 19 seasons for several National League teams, mostly Buffalo. He won 5 batting titles, and won an amazing 7 slugging percentage crowns. He posted a .349 career batting average as a left-handed hitter, and is a member of the Hall of Fame.
Hank Greenberg, who mostly played first base with the Detroit Tigers, was a feared slugger who was an RBI machine. He was a career .313 batter and won 2 AL MVP Awards.. He was a 4-time All-Star, and helped power the Tigers to 4 World Series’ appearances. Greenberg also won 4 RBI crowns. He served nearly 5 years in the military in WWII, and was a class act on and off the field.
#3: Stan Musial
Stan “The Man” Musial played mostly first base for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 seasons in the 1940s and the 1950s, and averaged a .331 batting mark along the way. Musial won an astonishing 7 batting titles, and 3 NL MVP Awards. He was selected to play in 24 All-Star contests, and retired with the 4th highest career hit total in baseball history (3,630). He is a Hall of Famer.
#2: Jimmie Foxx
Jimmie Foxx, known as “Double X,” was a power-hitting first baseman, who played 20 seasons, mostly with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox. He slugged 534 home runs, and won 4 home run crowns. He also garnered 3 AL MVP Awards (1932, 1933 and 1938). In 1933, he attained the Triple Crown. He was selected for 9 All-Star teams, and batted .325 for his career. He is a member of Cooperstown.
#1: Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig, “The Iron Horse,” was the legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees for 17 years in the 1920s and the 1930s. He was the Captain of the Yankees, the most successful franchise in the history of baseball. This Hall of Famer batted .340 for his career, and won AL MVP Awards in 1927 and 1936. In 1934, Gehrig also won the Triple Crown, and was chosen for 7 straight All-Star appearances. He was perhaps the most feared clutch-hitter in the history of the game, and won 5 RBI titles, including an AL record 184 in 1931.
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