History of Baseball: Greatest Players of All-Time Series (15 to 27)
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 3: Greatest Players 15 to 27
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; followed by, base stealing/base running ratings.
The series starts with a five post presentation in Chapter One, breaking down the top players by Total Player Rating. 47 spots are featured, covering 53 players. Then, succeeding chapters will cover the top-rated players by position (Catchers, First Basemen, etc.).
To continue Part 3 of Chapter One (below), the list reveals players ranked # 27; then, players ranked #s 24 to 26; then, 20 to 2; followed by, 15 to 19. These thirteen players include 3 nineteenth century stars and 2 Negro Leagues performers. Eight are Hall Of Famers, and Ichiro Suzuki, Larry Walker and Jeff Bagwell are expected to gain future membership to Cooperstown. It currently seems unlikely that “Shoeless Joe” Jackson will be voted in to the Hall Of Fame.
The Greatest Position Player rated #27:
Jeff Bagwell 1B
Jeff Bagwell, originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, was a power-hitting first baseman, who played 15 seasons for the Houston Astros. He became the first National Leaguer to finish first or second in batting average, home runs, RBI, and runs scored since Willie Mays in 1955. His career batting average was .297, and he slugged 449 home runs. He was selected for 4 All-Star games, and won the NL MVP in 1994. Bagwell also won a Gold Glove, and won 5 Silver Slugger Awards. He also led the NL in runs scored 3 times.
The Greatest Position Players rated #24 to 26 (these three players are tied at #24):
Ed Delahanty LF
Ed Delahanty was the most famous of five brothers who played Major League baseball. He was the first real “5-tool” player in baseball history, and was the first batter to hit over .400 in 3 seasons. He played 15 years, mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1890s, and for a while, was part of an outfield that included fellow future Hall Of Famers Billy Hamilton and Sam Thompson. The greatest offensive outfield ever?! Delahanty hit .346 for his career.
Stan Musial 1B
Stan “The Man” Musial played 1B and LF for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 seasons in the 1940s and 1950s, and averaged a .331 batting mark along the way. Musial won 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.
Carl Yastrzemski played mostly left field for the Boston Red Sox for 23 seasons, in the 1960s and 1970s, and is a member of Cooperstown. Many say he was the best defensive left fielder in baseball history. He won 7 Gold Gloves, and was selected as an All-Star 18 times. He was an MVP winner in the same year that he won the AL Triple Crown (1967). He also won 2 other batting titles.
The Greatest Position Players rated #20 to 23 (these three players are tied at #20):
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a left fielder, was one of baseball history’s greatest hitters. He played 13 years, mostly for the AL Cleveland franchise and the Chicago White Sox. His career batting average is .356, 3rd highest ever. He was also a fine defender. His career was cut short when he was banned for life from Major League baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for his part in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal. He did “take the money,” but had a spectacular World Series, all to no avail.
“Pop” Lloyd SS
“Pop” Lloyd was a star shortstop during the 1910’s and 1920’s for both black barnstorming teams and Negro League clubs. He is generally rated as the 2nd best shortstop in baseball history, next to Honus Wagner. He also played many games in Cuba, and the best scholarship on Lloyd’s career is that he batted around .340. He always did well when playing against Major Leaguers. Many thought that he was the best player that had ever played.
Frank Robinson, a left fielder, was a prolific hitter who earned election to the Hall Of Fame. He played 21 seasons, mostly for the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, and slugged 586 home runs. He won 2 MVP Awards, one in the NL–one in the AL, and won the Triple Crown Award (AL) in 1966. He was selected an All-Star 14 times.
Larry Walker RF
Larry Walker, a great right fielder, averaged a .313 batting average during his 17 years in the Major Leagues, mostly spent with the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies. He won 3 batting titles and was selected to 5 All-Star squads. In 1997, Walker won the National League’s MVP Award. He was a marvelous defensive player, winning 7 Gold Glove crowns.
The Greatest Position Players rated #15 to 19 (these three players are tied at #15):
Josh Gibson is the greatest right-handed power hitter in baseball history. He won Negro League home run crowns for 10 straight years. One home run at Yankee Stadium was measured at about 580 feet. Gibson played as a catcher for nearly 20 years with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays, in the 1930s and 1940s. He also won titles for batting average, doubles, runs, total bases, slugging percentage–every category but steals.
Billy Hamilton played mostly center field for 14 years with the Philadelphia and Boston franchises in the National League. He was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history with a career .344 average. He was one of the fastest and best base runners in the game with 914 stolen bases to his credit. For an average of 114 games a season, during the 1890s, his stolen base achievements became the stuff of legend.
Rogers Hornsby, a second baseman, may not have had Gibson’s raw power, but as a right-handed hitter he had no equal. He played 23 seasons, mostly for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, from 1915 to the 1930s, and batted .358 for his career. “The Rajah” won 2 Triple Crowns and 2 MVP Awards. He also batted over .400 3 times, and won 12 adjusted on-base-plus-slugging crowns. He also won 7 batting titles. In 1922, he batted .401, slugged 42 HRs and knocked in 152 runs, perhaps the greatest offensive year ever.
Bill Lange CF
Bill Lange, a center fielder, was one of the finest players of the nineteenth century. He played only 7 seasons, in the 1890s, for Chicago’s National League franchise, and batted .330. Lange was an amazing base stealer and a Gold Glove-level outfielder. He retired at the top of his game to his beloved San Francisco and became wealthy in business. His nephew, George “High Pockets” Kelly, is in the Hall Of Fame, and many say Lange belongs there, too.
Ichiro Suzuki is one of the greatest right fielders in the history of baseball. He played 9 years for Japan’s Pacific League’s Orix Blue Wave, winning 7 batting titles in a row, and becoming the first ballplayer in Japan to get 200 hits in a single season. Once he joined the American League’s Seattle Mariners in 2001, he started a Major League-record streak of 10 straight years of 200 hits, including 2004’s 262 hits, breaking Hall Of Famer George Sisler’s 84-year old record of 257 hits in a season. His 10 straight years of over 200 hits broke Hall Of Famer Wee Willie Keeler’s record of 8 straight such years. Ichiro has been selected for 10 All-Star games, and has won 10 Gold Gloves in a row.
The next post in this series will cover the all-time greatest players ranked #1 through 14. Stay tuned for more!
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