History of Baseball: The Greatest Players of All-time Series
The philosopher Jacques Barzun had it right.
“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game–the American game.” – Walt Whitman
Later, I was privileged to meet some amazingly knowledgeable baseball fans such as Larry Stanton, who had witnessed hundreds of games in Philadelphia going back to the 1920s. He was a Phillies fan to the core and knew countless anecdotes.
I got to meet Cy Williams in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, at the resort he had designed. I enjoyed many breakfast baseball discussions with Eddie Robinson, the fine All-Star first baseman. Tex Carleton, the excellent 1930s National League pitcher, and many other ball players became friends of mine.
All these meetings resulted in discussions about the greatest players of all time. How do players of one era compare to players of another? What factors should be considered? Many players today are bigger, stronger, and faster than players of the nineteenth or earlier twentieth century. Should the older stars be downgraded because of this? How do changes in how the game is played today affect performances? How have performance-enhancing drugs affected results? Did early players perform some skills better than today’s players? Another factor: America’s best athletes were more likely to play Major League baseball then than now. How should this affect our understanding? What are the most important stats to consider when evaluating ball players?
“I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want somebody else to go chase it.” – Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (1915–1926, 1933)
Of our top-ranked position players, nine of fifty-three are 19th century players–Sam Thompson is the top-ranked, mostly due to his offensive prowess. Still, we rate Buck Ewing to be the best all-around player of that era. In the same fifty-three top players, we include eight Negro Leaguers, of whom we rate Oscar Charleston the best all-around star.
A player who is rated higher overall than another may be there because of his defense, offense, or some combination. While the following chapters reflect UBTG™ TOTAL PLAYER RATINGS divided by position, we also have included separate offensive and defensive lists to further clarify a player’s strengths. We also included overall rankings (without regard to position), and a ranking of top base stealers. The value of a player to a team in a particular situation may rest more in a specific skill, such as base running, rather than on his overall ranking. We believe, therefore, that this book can provide invaluable help when drafting teams for playing UBTG™. Also, don’t forget to order your copy of HOW TO WIN AT UBTG™ (available now at http://store.ultimatebaseballthegame.
An interesting observation: slightly over half of the top offensive players are left-handed batters; three are switch-hitters, Mickey Mantle being the most productive.
Regarding our defensive ratings, we include not only the ability to field and throw the ball, but also the players’ knowledge of the game, when and where to throw, positioning, the capability to “call” defensive sets, simply knowing which plays to prioritize… all of which are simulated in UBTG™.
As for pure glove work, players such as Richie Ashburn (CF), Dave Bancroft (SS), Davy Force (SS), Jack Glasscock (SS), Willie Kamm (3B), Nap Lajoie (2B), and Fred Pfeffer (2B) are some of the best of all time.
Our top defensive performer: Brooks Robinson. Our top offensive performer: Babe Ruth.
The ranking lists in this series reflect UBTG™ formulas. Our evaluations no doubt will fuel baseball fans’ time-honored tradition of debate regarding the game’s greatest. We hope you enjoy the results of our research!