Nap-Lajoie-620

History of Baseball: Greatest Players of All-Time Series (28 to 39)

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 2: Players 28 to 39

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 2 of Chapter One (below), the list reveals players ranked #s 37 to 39; then, players ranked #s 33 to 36; then, 28 to 32. These twelve players include 2 nineteenth century stars and 3 Negro Leagues performers. Nine are Hall Of Famers, and Ken Griffey, Jr., and Todd Helton are expected to gain future membership to Cooperstown. It currently seems unlikely that Barry Bonds will be voted in to the Hall Of Fame.


 

The Greatest Position Players rated #37 to 39 (these three players are tied at #37):

 

Martín Dihigo UT

Martín Magdaleno Dihigo Llanos (1906-1971)

Martín Magdaleno Dihigo Llanos (1906-1971)

Martín Dihigo was the most multi-talented athlete to ever play at the top level of baseball. He won over 250 games as a pitcher, won 2 batting titles, and played every defensive position, especially right field and second base. He had amazing arm strength and his accurate throws from right field are legendary. Many say he was the best all-around ballplayer of All-Time. He was a star in the American Negro Leagues, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Dihigo was elected to the American Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and was also inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nap Lajoie 2B

Napoléon Lajoie (1874–1959)

Napoléon Lajoie (1874–1959)

Nap Lajoie was one of the greatest second basemen of All-Time. He hit .338 in his 21 seasons, played mostly with NL and AL teams in Philadelphia and the Cleveland franchise in the American League. He was a flawless fielder, leading the American League in fielding at 2B 7 times. He also won 5 batting titles, including the AL Triple Crown in 1901, batting .426. Lajoie was the second player in history to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Michael Jack Schmidt (born 1949)

Michael Jack Schmidt (born 1949)

Mike Schmidt 3B

Mike Schmidt is rated as the top third baseman of All-Time in the UBTG™ Player Register. He was a power-hitter who slammed 548 home runs, winning 3 MVPs, all with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played 17 years during the 1970s and 1980s, winning 10 Gold Gloves, and playing in 12 All-Star games.

 

 

The Greatest Position Players rated #33 to 36 (these four players are tied at #33):
 

Barry Bonds LF

Barry Lamar Bonds (born 1964)

Barry Lamar Bonds (born 1964)

Barry Bonds was one of the most talented and controversial players in baseball history. He starred at Arizona State, and with the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. His father, Bobby Bonds, was a star player, and Barry showed the talent to eclipse his father’s stats. He played left field, sometimes brilliantly, sometimes listlessly. He was a decent hitter and excellent base stealer. His amazing evolution into an offensive superstar has been plagued by evidence showing he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Therefore, his great offensive stats have been downgraded in most fans’ minds. Also, his propensity for a surly and confrontational disposition has not endeared him to the baseball community.

 

 

Dan Brouthers 1B

Dennis Joseph Brouthers (1858–1932)

Dennis Joseph Brouthers (1858–1932)

Dan Brouthers started in baseball as a semi-pro pitcher, but came to the majors at age 21 primarily as a first baseman. He was one of the most feared sluggers of the nineteenth century. He played 19 seasons for several National League teams, especially Buffalo. He won 5 batting titles, and won 7 slugging percentage crowns. He posted a .349 career average as a left-handed hitter, and is a member of the Hall Of Fame.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Buck Ewing C

William Ewing (1859–1906)

William Ewing (1859–1906)

Buck Ewing was probably the best all-around player of the nineteenth century. He was known for his catching skills, appearing in 636 games at catcher,  but also 253 at first base, 235 in the outfield, 127 at third base, 51 games at second base, 34 games at shortstop, and 9 as a pitcher. He is rated as the second best catcher ever. Ewing was a great field leader and had a legendary arm. He played over 17 years, mostly for the New York Giants, and was a career .303 hitter. He is a member of Cooperstown.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Johnny Mize 1B

John Robert Mize (1913–1993)

John Robert Mize (1913–1993)

Johnny Mize was a left-handed hitting first baseman who slugged his way into the Hall Of Fame with a power bat. Mize played 15 seasons, losing 3 years to his military service in WWII. He won 4 home run crowns, and won the NL batting title in 1939, recording .312 for his career average. He played mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals and both NY teams–the Giants and Yankees. He was selected for 10 All-Star games.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Greatest Position Players rated #28 to 32 (these five players are tied at #28):
 

James Thomas Bell (1903–1991)

James Thomas Bell (1903–1991)

“Cool Papa” Bell CF
“Cool Papa” Bell was a star center fielder in the Negro Leagues. He may have been the fastest base runner in the history of baseball. He once scored from first base on a sacrifice bunt. He also scored from second base on a sacrifice fly. He was an excellent bunter and contact hitter. Bell played a Gold Glove-level center field. He won a Triple Crown in the 1940 Mexican League. His .437 led the league by 73 points ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Martín Dihigo. This Hall Of Famer played for 25 years, mostly in the 1920s and 1930s.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hank Greenberg 1B

Henry Benjamin Greenberg (1911–1986)

Henry Benjamin Greenberg (1911–1986)

Hank Greenberg, who mostly played first base, was a feared slugger who was an RBI machine. He played all but one year of thirteen with the Detroit Tigers. He was a career .313 hitter, and won 2 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 known as a class act on and off the field.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

George Kenneth Griffey, Jr. (born 1969)

George Kenneth Griffey, Jr. (born 1969)

Ken Griffey, Jr. CF
Ken Griffey, Jr. always dazzled the fans with his acrobatic catches in center field and his stylish power swings at the plate. He played 22 seasons for the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds (the team that had featured his father, Ken, Sr., as a star), slamming 630 home runs in the process. He was also a superb defender, garnering 10 Gold Gloves. He also won 7 Silver Slugger Awards, and was selected for 13 All-Star games. “Junior” also won 4 HR titles.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Todd Helton 1B

Todd Lynn Helton (born 1973)

Todd Lynn Helton (born 1973)

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, starting in 1997, with the Colorado Rockies, and has a career batting average of .323. He has won a batting title and 4 Silver Slugger crowns. He also has been an All-Star 5 times, and was awarded 3 Gold Gloves. Helton has led all NL first basemen in fielding percentage 4 times, and is 6th All-Time in the history of baseball.

 

 

Buck Leonard 1B

Walter Fenner Leonard (1907–1997)

Buck Leonard was the backbone of the fabled Homestead Grays from 1934 to 1950, a record for continuous service with one team in the history of the Negro Leagues. He was a slick-fielding, clutch-hitting 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 play was often compared defensively to George Sisler and his offensive prowess to Lou Gehrig. He is a member of the Hall Of Fame.

 

 

The next post in this series will cover the all-time greatest players ranked #15 through 27. Stay tuned for more!

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  • 3bdude

    Fascinating stuff!  I know there are a handful of players who pitched even as they swung a dangerous bat…but, with the onset of DH–not to mention modern times–it seems such players are fewer now than ever.  While some specialization is a good thing, I believe I prefer an engendering of multiple skills, Renaissance men who can do it all.  Dihigo has my vote as one of the top players of all time.

    • http://fromdeeprightfield.com/ Paul Gillespie

      Wish I could have seen Dihigo play. In talking with those who did, he must have been an amazing athlete. One of the greatest ever!