History of Baseball: Greatest Players of All-Time Series (1 to 14)
The following post is part of an ongoing series taken from Paul Gillespie’s book, ALL-TIME GREATS OF BASEBALL: My Top Picks At Each Position. These lists include the greatest offensive and defensive players in the history of baseball, extracted from a database Paul developed for the lifetime composite ratings and skill sets of players from the 1840′s to the present. A few currently active players are included because their body of work is sufficiently complete to warrant lifetime evaluation. The book was originally created as a companion tool for products developed by Gillespie Games, LLC, but at the behest of baseball fans and friends, it will also be published here at FromDeepRightField.
Chapter One, Part 4: Greatest Players #1 to 14
Chapter One ranks the top 47 slots, which includes 53 players (excluding pitchers). Some players are ranked equally to others, and are listed in a group with those of identical total ratings. The rankings are broken down as follows, first: Total Player Ratings; then, total offensive ratings; then, total (non-catcher) defensive ratings; then, total base stealing/base running ratings.
The Series starts with a five post presentation on Chapter One, described above. Succeeding chapters will cover top ratings by position (first basemen, second basemen, etc.).
To continue Part 4 of Chapter One (below), this list ranks players from #14 through #1. These players include 1 nineteenth century star and the top player from the Negro Leagues. All 14 are in the Hall Of Fame.
The Greatest Position Players rated #12 to 14 (these three players are tied at #12):
Oscar Charleston, a Hall Of Fame center fielder, also played LF, RF and 1B for 27 years in the Negro Leagues for a variety of teams. He is considered the best all-around player in the history of black baseball. He was a solid 4-tool player, though he did not have a rifle arm. But, he could hit, hit for power, run and field at levels that wowed all who saw him, including Major Leaguers. His combination of speed and power were unmatched, possibly in the entire history of baseball.
Ty Cobb CF
Ty Cobb, The Georgia Peach, was an electrifying performer on the baseball field, batting .366 for his 24 year career, mostly with the Detroit Tigers, from 1905 through the 1920s. This Hall Of Famer batted over .400 3 times, and won an astonishing 12 batting titles. He collected 4,189 hits, 2nd most of All-Time. In 1909, he won the AL Triple Crown, and in 1911, he was voted the MVP. He was also first in adjusted on-base-plus-slugging 11 times, and stole 897 bases in his career.
Sam Thompson RF
“Big” Sam Thompson was a slugging right fielder in the 1880s and 1890s, for National League franchises in Detroit and Philadelphia. He averaged .331 for his 15 year career, and won 3 slugging percentage crowns and a batting title. He was a feared clutch-hitter and won 3 RBI crowns. “Big” Sam was also an excellent right fielder with a cannon for a throwing arm. His career record of RBIs per 9-inning game has never been equaled (he knocked in runs at a rate of over .92/game!). He is in Cooperstown.
The Greatest Position Player rated #11:
Hank Aaron RF
“Hammerin’ ” Hank Aaron, a right fielder, played 23 seasons, mostly with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves team of the National League. He played in the 1950s,1960s and 1970s, was a feared power hitter, and slammed 755 home runs for his career. Many consider him to be the only real record-holder. He also knocked in a record 2,297 RBIs, and obtained 3,771 hits, all astounding marks. In 1957 he won the NL MVP, and was known as a class act, on and off the field. This Hall Of Famer was selected for 25 All-Star games.
The Greatest Position Player rated #10:
Honus Wagner SS
Honus Wagner, The Flying Dutchman, was considered the best all-around player of the first quarter of the 20th century. He played 21 seasons for the Louisville and Pittsburgh clubs of the National League, and won 8 batting titles. He was indeed a 5-tool player. He could do everything on a baseball field–and, do it better than the other players. Wagner batted .328 for his career, and won 8 OPS titles. This Hall Of Famer was also a Gold Glove-level defender.
The Greatest Position Player rated #9:
Roberto Clemente, a Hall Of Famer, is generally regarded as the greatest right fielder in the history of baseball. He batted .317 for his career, and won the NL MVP Award in 1966. He played all his 18 years, from 1955 to 1972, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was selected for 15 All-Star contests. He was a 12-time Gold Glover, and his laser-beam throws from right field are still talked about. Clemente won 4 batting titles, and led the NL in outfield assists 5 times.
The Greatest Position Player rated #8:
Jimmie Foxx 1B
Jimmie Foxx, “Double X”, was a power-hitting first baseman who played 20 seasons, mostly with the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox. He slugged 534 home runs, and won 4 home run crowns. He also won 2 batting titles, and 3 MVP Awards (1932,1933 and 1938). In 1933, he also claimed the Triple Crown. He was selected for 9 All-Star games, and batted .325 for his career. He is a member of Cooperstown.
The Greatest Position Player rated #7:
Lou Gehrig 1B
Lou Gehrig, The Iron Horse, was a legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees for 17 years in the 1920s and 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 MVP Awards in 1927 and 1936. In 1934, Gehrig also won the Triple Crown, and garnered 7 straight All-Star selections. He was a feared clutch-hitter and won 5 RBI crowns, including an AL record 184 in 1931.
The Greatest Position Players rated #3 to 6 (these four players are tied at #3):
Mickey Mantle, another Hall Of Famer, was the center fielder for the New York Yankees, for 18 years, and hit 536 home runs, even though he played hurt for most of his career. His World Series play includes 18 HRs, a record, and an amazing total of 40 RBIs. “The Mick” won 3 MVP Awards, and 1 Triple Crown title (1956). He was selected to 20 All-Star contests, and was one of the biggest fan favorites in the history of baseball. Mantle also won 8 adjusted OPS titles, and was an excellent center fielder.
Willie Mays CF
Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid”, played center field, brilliantly, for mostly the New York/San Francisco Giants for 22 years, during the 1950s and 1960s. In his career, he crushed 660 home runs, and won 4 home run crowns. Mays’ engaging personality won legions of fans, as did his Hall Of Fame play. He won 2 MVPs, and was selected to an astounding 24 All-Star games. Mays garnered 12 Gold Gloves with his spectacular defense in center field He won 6 adjusted OPS crowns, and some have called him the greatest all-around ballplayer ever.
Tris Speaker CF
Tris Speaker, The Grey Eagle, is often described as the best defensive center fielder in the history of baseball. He played for 22 years, from 1907 through the 1920s, mostly with the American League franchises in Boston and Cleveland. He batted .345 for his career, and won the AL MVP Award in 1912. Speaker got 3,514 hits, and holds the Major League record for doubles with 792. He owns 7 titles for center field put-outs, and 6 titles for double plays for center fielders, and with all debate permitted, still doesn’t have an equal for center field defense.
Ted Williams LF
Ted Williams, The Splendid Splinter, was a Hall Of Fame left fielder for 19 seasons during the 1940s and 1950s. He is widely acknowledged to be the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. He is the last player to bat .400 for a full season (,406 in 1941), and averaged .344 for his career. He won 6 batting titles, and 2 MVP Awards. In 1942 and 1947, Williams won Triple Crowns, the only 2-time winner in AL history. Williams also won a large number of offensive category titles, including 12 on-base crowns, in spite of spending nearly 5 years in military service as a U. S. Marine jet pilot.
The Greatest Position Player rated #2:
Joe DiMaggio CF
“Joltin’ ” Joe DiMaggio was a legendary center fielder for the fabled New York Yankees, where he won 9 World Series titles in 13 years. The Hall Of Famer batted .325 for his career, which spanned 1936 to 1951. The Yankee Clipper was an All-Star for all those 13 years, and won MVP Awards in 1939, 1941 and 1947. He was an amazing center fielder with a perfect “first step” toward the ball. His record 56-game hitting streak has been called the most difficult record to break in the entire history of baseball.
The Greatest Position Player rated #1:
“Babe” Ruth RF
“Babe” Ruth is rated as the top player to ever play baseball. He played 22 seasons, 5 as a pitcher, and 17 as mostly a right fielder, for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. As a position player, Ruth blasted 714 home runs, batted .342, and set an entire Hall Of Fame section of records. He won the 1923 AL MVP, and won 13 OPS crowns, a Major League record. The “Babe” also led the AL in walks for 11 years, RBIs for 6 years, and home runs for 12 seasons. He also led the AL in extra base hits for 7 years. As a pitcher, he was one of the best, setting a consecutive scoreless innings streak for World Series play that lasted from 1918 til the 1960s (when Hall Of Famer Whitey Ford broke it). The “Babe” changed the game, and became wildly popular with young fans. He caused attendance to multiply, and built the game into what it has become!
The next post in this series will give a listing of the greatest offensive performers in the history of baseball. Stay tuned for more!
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