Greatest Players of All-Time Series: First Basemen–Total Defense
The following post represents Part Three in a presentation of the best First Basemen in the history of baseball. This list covers the greatest defensive performers at first base.
#11 (3 tied):
Ed Konetchy was a gifted defender at first base. He played 15 seasons for a number of National League teams, mostly the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1907 to 1921. He either led or was near the top of every defensive category in the Majors in his career. He was one of the finest fielders ever.
Dan McGann was a slick-fielding first baseman who played 12 seasons for mostly the New York Giants. He was an inconsistent but talented offensive performer, but had few equals on defense. He played from 1896 to 1908, and led the National League in fielding as a first baseman for 6 years. He suffered from chronic depression which led to his suicide in 1910.
John “Stuffy” McInnis played a brilliant first base for 19 years during the 1910s and the 1920s. He was mostly a member of the Philadelphia Athletics, and was a productive offensive performer, batting over .300 for his career. He led the American League in fielding as a first baseman for 6 seasons, and was always near the top in every defensive category.
#5 (6 tied):
Keith Hernandez has been called the best fielding first baseman in the history of baseball. He performed for 17 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets, in the 1970s and the 1980s. Hernandez won the NL MVP Award in 1979, and played in 5 All-Star games. He won an astonishing 11 Gold Gloves, and led or was near the top in every defensive category during his career.
Wes Parker played a flawless first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1964 to 1972. He was always a leader in National League fielding stats, and won 4 fielding titles. Parker won 6 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
Vic Power played mostly first base for 12 years in the 1950s and the 1960s for the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. His glove work at first base drew rave reviews from his peers, and he was named to 6 All-Star squads. He won 7 consecutive Gold Gloves, and won 6 assist titles as a first baseman.
George Sisler is a member of the Hall of Fame, because he was equally brilliant on offense and defense. He played 15 seasons as a first baseman for mostly the St. Louis Browns, in the 1910s and the 1920s. He won the AL MVP in 1922, and was the AL’s best first baseman during his career, leading the league in assists 7 times.
Gil Hodges played mostly with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 18 seasons from 1947 to 1963. He was a clutch performer on offense, and stellar on defense. Hodges was a first baseman who was like having a coach on the field. He was selected for 8 All-Star teams, and won 3 Gold Gloves. He was a solid, dependable defender.
John “Buck” O’Neil was the best fielding first baseman to ever play in the Negro Leagues. He played for over a dozen years with the great Kansas City Monarchs teams, and was a superb team leader. He was an All-Star selection for several years in the East-West All-Star games, and is now a member of the Hall of Fame.
#2 (3 tied):
Charlie Grimm was a fine-fielding first baseman, who played 20 seasons for mostly the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs in the 1920s and the 1930s. He was a take-charge defender, leading the National League in fielding percentage 6 times, and always finishing near the top in all fielding categories.
Don Mattingly, a star first baseman for the New York Yankees, played for 14 years in the 1980s and the 1990s. He was an All-Star (selected for 6 games) offensive performer but was also known for his defensive skills. He won 9 Gold Glove Awards, and 4 fielding percentage crowns, While he was the AL MVP in 1985, and won numerous batting awards, he is still known as one of the best fielding first basemen in the history of baseball.
Joe Start, “Old Reliable,” is credited with developing the first base position. Players today still defend first base the way Joe Start did. He played Major League Baseball for around 27 years (confirmed for at least 24 years at the Major League level), for a variety of teams in the National Association and the National League. Start was a good hitter, but was known as a consummate defender. He won 5 fielding percentage crowns, always finishing around the top of the defensive stats.
#1: Fred Tenney
Fred Tenney, who played suffocating defense as a first baseman, was possibly the best defensive player at his position in the history of baseball. He played 17 seasons for mostly the Boston National League franchise, from 1894 to 1911. He won 8 assist titles as a first baseman, and was a perennial leader in all defensive categories.
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