Willie Mays and MLB's 50 Greatest Living Ballplayers

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2012

Willie Mays and MLB's 50 Greatest Living Ballplayers

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    The 2012 MLB season has seen a pair of young stars take the league by storm, as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have not only stepped into a significant role at an extremely young age but have been fantastic.

    Their careers are only beginning, but they have the potential to be among the greatest ever to play the game as their careers progress.

    Legendary players have come and gone since the MLB began, and each year at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony we get a chance to see some true living legends who helped shape the history of the game.

    So here is a look at the 50 greatest living MLB players, retired or active. As with any list like this, there will undoubtedly be some snubs, and I encourage you to comment on who you feel deserved a spot but was left off the list.

Albert Pujols

1 of 50

    Born

    1/16/1980 (32 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats (as of 6/26/12)

    .325/.416/.609, 456 HR, 1,373 RBI, 1,325 R, 2,146 H

     

    Career Overview

    No one has started their career the way Albert Pujols did, as he topped the .300 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI threshold in each of his first 10 seasons in the league. Over that span, he tallied a line of .331 BA, 408 HR, 1,230 RBI.

    He signed with the Angels this offseason on a 10-year, $240 million contract after leading the Cardinals to a World Series last season.

    The expectation is that he will do the same for the Angels, and the pressure will be on for him to earn his money, but either way he stands to make a run at some significant record while suiting up for the Angels.

Alex Rodriguez

2 of 50

    Born

    7/27/1975 (36 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats (as of 6/26/12)

    .301/.385/.563, 641 HR, 1,926 RBI, 1,863 R, 2,844 H

     

    Career Overview

    A prodigy who was in the majors by the age of 18 and won a batting title in his first full season at the age of 20, Rodriguez has set himself up to make a run at the all-time home run record if he can stay healthy for the duration of his contract, which runs through 2017.

    He tainted his legacy with a positive PED test that could eventually put his Hall of Fame status in jeopardy, but on numbers alone he is undoubtedly one of the best players of all time.

    A three-time MVP with five home run titles, he enjoyed some truly phenomenal seasons.

Derek Jeter

3 of 50

    Born

    6/26/1974 (38 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats (as of 6/26/12)

    .313/.382/.448, 247 HR, 1,221 RBI, 1,809 R, 3,181 H

     

    Career Overview

    The captain of the Yankees for years, Jeter has been the face of the Yankees franchise dating back to the late 1990s. He is signed through 2013 with an option for 2014, when he could choose to hang it up at the age of 40.

    A 12-time All-Star, Jeter has truly earned his legendary status though for his postseason performance, as he has a line of .307 BA, 20 HR, 59 RBI in 152 postseason games.

Ivan Rodriguez

4 of 50

    Born

    11/27/1971 (40 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .296/.334/.464, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI, 1,354 R, 2,844 H

     

    Career Overview

    While Mike Piazza got the recognition during the 1990s, it was Pudge who was the more complete all-around catcher, as he won 13 Gold Glove awards and seven Silver Slugger awards during his career. 

    He took home AL MVP honors in 1999 with a .332 BA, 35 HR, 113 RBI, 25 SB line and he owns the record for most career games caught, as his durability is as impressive as his performance on the field.

Pedro Martinez

5 of 50

    Born

    10/25/1971 (40 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    219-100, 2.93 ERA, 154 ERA+, 3,154 Ks, 2,827.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    While he does not have the win total of of some of the all-time greats, Martinez had a phenomenal stretch from 1997-2003 when he had an average line of 17-5, 2.20 ERA, 252 Ks and won five ERA titles.

    He won three Cy Young awards and the pitching Triple Crown in 1999, when he went 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 Ks before fronting the Red Sox staff in 2004 when they finally broke the Curse of the Bambino. 


Chipper Jones

6 of 50

    Born

    4/24/1972 (40 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats (as of 6/26/12)

    .304/.401/.531, 459 HR, 1,587 RBI, 1,580 R, 2,653 H

     

    Career Overview

    Jones is winding down his terrific big league career, as he will retire at the end of the season, and when all is said and done, he will rank among the greatest third basemen ever to play the game.

    He had 14 straight seasons with at least 20 home runs and an eight-year stretch in which he tallied at least 100 RBI.

    He won the NL MVP in 1999 and won the batting title as a 36-year-old in 2008 and he was an integral part of the team's lengthy run of postseason appearances.

Jim Thome

7 of 50

    Born

    8/27/1970 (41 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats (as of 6/26/12)

    .277/.403/.556, 609 HR, 1,689 RBI, 1,575 R, 2,302 H

     

    Career Overview

    While he has not always received the spotlight that a slugger of his caliber deserves, Thome has consistently produced at a high level over his 22-year career and he recently moved into a tie for seventh on the all-time home run list.

    He has 12 seasons with over 30 home runs, including six with 40-or-more, and he has combined that power with terrific on-base skills to establish himself as one of the greatest sluggers to ever play the game.

Ken Griffey Jr.

8 of 50

    Born

    11/21/1969 (42 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .284/.370/.538, 630 HR, 1,836 RBI, 1,662 R, 2,781 H

     

    Career Overview

    One can't help but wonder what could have been if Griffey had been able to avoid injury during his illustrious career, but as it was he still managed to put together a career that ranks among the greatest of all-time.

    He was the face of Major League Baseball during his career and he combined one of the sweetest swings with a genuine love for playing the game to become a fan favorite. And he did it all clean while playing at the height of the steroid era.

Mike Piazza

9 of 50

    Born

    9/4/1968 (43 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .308/.377/.545, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 1,048 R, 2,127 H

     

    Career Overview

    Who would have ever guessed when he was taken in the 62nd round that Piazza would go down at the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history, but that is exactly what he wound up as when he wrapped up his 16-year playing career.

    He was a below average defender behind the plate, but he made up for it by stringing together nine straight seasons with an average over .300 and had nine seasons with over 30 home runs, as he was a force at the plate for the Dodgers and Mets. 

Frank Thomas

10 of 50

    Born

    5/27/1968 (44 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .301/.418/.555, 521 HR, 1,704 RBI, 1,494 R, 2,468 H

     

    Career Overview

    The "Big Hurt" was the face of baseball during the 1990s along with Ken Griffey Jr, as he posted a .320 BA, 301 HR, 1,040 RBI line for the decade. That resulted in five All-Star appearances and a pair of AL MVP awards.

    He is a member of the elite .300/.400/.500 club that contains just 18 members, and his combination of terrific contact skills and great batting eye made him more than just your average power hitter.

Greg Maddux

11 of 50

    Born

    4/14/1966 (46 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    355-227, 3.16 ERA, 132 ERA+, 3,371 Ks, 5,008.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    A four-time Cy Young winner, Maddux used pinpoint control rather than overpowering stuff to roll through National League hitters throughout the 1990s in helping to make the Braves a perennial playoff team.

    His 1995 season ranks among the most dominant pitching seasons in baseball history, as he went 19-2, 1.63 ERA, 181 Ks while fronting a Braves' staff that included fellow future Hall of Famers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Tom Glavine

12 of 50

    Born

    3/25/1966 (46 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    305-203, 3.54 ERA, 118 ERA+, 2,607 Ks, 4,413.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    While he was not even the best pitcher on his own team many years, pitching alongside Greg Maddux and John Smoltz in the Braves rotation, Glavine was still one of the top pitchers of the last 30 years and a perennial Cy Young candidate. In the end, he took home a pair of Cy Young awards.

    He led the league in wins five times and made 10 All-Star appearances, and while he never had over-powering stuff, he finished his career as one of the best left-handed pitchers to ever to take the mound.

Barry Bonds

13 of 50

    Born

    7/24/1964 (47 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .298/.444/.607, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 2,227 R, 2,935 H

     

    Career Overview

    Bonds took steroids, there are no two ways around that, and he tarnished not only his legacy, but also baseball's most hallowed of records.

    However, even if you take the numbers Bonds posted prior to his steroid use (believed to have begun following the 1998 season), his career line would have been .270 BA, 411 HR, 1,216 RBI at that point.

    If you tack on six more seasons of what his season averages were at that point, his final career numbers would have been 603 HR and 1,780 RBI. So while the steroids made his numbers ridiculous, he was already Hall of Fame caliber prior to that.


Randy Johnson

14 of 50

    Born

    9/10/1963 (48 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    303-166, 3.29 ERA, 135 ERA+, 4,875 Ks, 4135.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    One of the most overpowering pitchers in baseball history, Johnson won five Cy Young awards in his career, including four straight from 1999-2002.

    During that time, he posted an average line of 20-7, 2.48 ERA, 354 Ks while winning one win title, three ERA titles and four strikeout titles.

    While he was terrific during his time with the Mariners, he took his game to another level entirely with the Diamondbacks, and he teamed with Curt Schilling to lead Arizona to a World Series title.

Roger Clemens

15 of 50

    Born

    8/4/1962 (49 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    354-184, 3.12 ERA, 143 ERA+, 4,672 Ks, 4916.2 IP

     

    Career Overview

    While his legal issues look to finally be behind him, Clemens has forever tarnished his legacy regardless of whether it is ever proven that he used PEDs.

    Still, he is statistically one of the five best pitchers to ever play the game as he ranks ninth in wins, third in strikeouts and third in WAR among pitcher at 133.1.

    Even with the blackened legacy, Clemens could very well wind up in the Hall of Fame, and love him or hate him, he is undoubtedly one of the 50 best living ballplayers.

Cal Ripken Jr.

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    Born

    8/24/1960 (51 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .276/.340/.447, 431 HR, 1,695 RBI, 1,647 R, 3,184 H

     

    Career Overview

    Best known as baseball's Iron Man, Ripken appeared in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year playing career. However, he was more than just a durable player.

    He burst onto the scene in 1982 to win AL Rookie of the Year. The following season he won MVP honors and led the Orioles to a World Series title at just 22 years old.

    He went on to hit at least 20 home runs12 times, and he is one of just eight players with 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.

Tony Gwynn

17 of 50

    Born

    5/9/1960 (52 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .338/.388/.459, 135 HR, 1,138 RBI, 1,383 R, 3,141 H

     

    Career Overview

    Gwynn is, without a doubt, the face of the Padres franchise, as he spent all 20 seasons of his Hall of Fame career in San Diego.

    During his impressive career, he took home eight batting titles, and hit over .300 in every season of his career except the 54-game stint he had in 1982 when he hit .289.

    By his third year in the league, Gwynn won his first batting title and started a run in which he made the All-Star team in 15 of the next 16 seasons.


Rickey Henderson

18 of 50

    Born

    12/25/1958 (53 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .279/.401/.419, 297 HR, 1,115 RBI, 2,295 R, 3,055 H

     

    Career Overview

    In his impressive 25-year career, Henderson won a dozen stolen base titles as he topped the century mark an amazing three times, with a career high of 130 in 1982.

    He also had good power, reaching double-digit home runs 12 times, with over 20 four times.

    Add a terrific eye at the plate that led to 2,190 career walks (second all-time) and a record 2,295 runs scored, and it is clear why Henderson ranks among the all-time greats.

Wade Boggs

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    Born

    6/15/1958 (54 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .328/.415/.443, 118 HR, 1,014 RBI, 1,513 R, 3,010 H

     

    Career Overview

    Boggs began his career with the Red Sox, playing 11 seasons and winning five batting titles in the process. In total, he tallied 2,098 hits during his time in Boston with a batting average of .338.

    After making just three playoff appearances in those 11 seasons, he jumped ship and joined the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 1993 season and finally won his ring in 1996.

    Perhaps his most memorable highlight, though, came when he collected his 3,000th hit on a home run as a member of the Rays.


Eddie Murray

20 of 50

    Born

    2/24/1956 (56 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .287/.359/.476, 504 HR, 1,917 RBI, 1,627 R, 3,255 H

     

    Career Overview

    A model of consistency, Murray hit at least 20 HR and tallied at least 80 RBI in 16 and 17 seasons, respectively. 

    Despite only leading the league in each category once, his years of impressive play place his career HR total at 25th overall and career RBI total at ninth overall.

    Perhaps most impressive of all, Murray is one of only four players to ever record 500 HR and 3,000 hits in his career, joining Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Rafael Palmeiro, and his impressive numbers made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2003.

Robin Yount

21 of 50

    Born

    9/16/1955 (56 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .285/.342/.430, 251 HR, 1,406 RBI, 1,632 R, 3,142 H

     

    Career Overview

    A Brewer for his entire 20-year career, Yount made a seamless transition from shortstop to center field during his career, as he won an MVP award at each position.

    His 3,142 career hits rank 18th all-time and his best season came in 1982, when he hit .331 BA, 29 HR, 114 RBI with a league-high 210 hits while leading the Brewers to their first and only World Series in franchise history.

Ozzie Smith

22 of 50

    Born

    12/26/1954 (57 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .262/.337/.328, 28 HR, 793 RBI, 1,257 R, 2,460 H

     

    Career Overview

    Despite being little more than an average offensive player, Smith was a 15-time All-Star, as no player has ever been more celebrated for his defensive prowess.

    His 43.4 career defensive WAR is the highest mark of all-time, and he took home 13 Gold Glove awards while establishing himself as a fan favorite.

    He wasn't without offense either, as he hit one of the most memorable home runs of all time in the 1985 NLCS.

George Brett

23 of 50

    Born

    5/15/1953 (59 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .305/.369/.487, 317 HR, 1,596 RBI, 1,583 R, 3,154 H

     

    Career Overview

    The greatest player in Royals history, Brett spent 21 seasons playing for Kansas City and made 12 straight All-Star appearances during that span.

    His 1980 season was one for the ages, as he made a legitimate run at a .400 batting average. He finished with a .390 mark and took home AL MVP honors in helping the Royals to the World Series.

Dave Winfield

24 of 50

    Born

    10/3/1951 (60 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .283/.353/.475, 465 HR, 1,833 RBI, 1,669 R, 3,110 H

     

    Career Overview

    Winfield was drafted to play basketball, baseball, and even hockey out of the University of Minnesota, and he is one of only a few players to never spend a day in the minor leagues as he was a truly phenomenal athlete.

    He could do it all as he hit 465 home runs, stole 223 bases and won seven Gold Glove awards as he had one of the best arms in baseball history. He appeared in 12 All-Star games while spending most of his career with the Padres and Yankees.

Mike Schmidt

25 of 50

    Born

    9/27/1949 (62 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .267/.380/.527, 548 HR, 1,595 RBI, 1,506 R, 2,234 H

     

    Career Overview

    Schmidt is the consensus best third baseman in the history of baseball, and he was the complete package of offense and defense during his 18-year career with the Phillies.

    He led the league in home runs eight times during his career, and won three NL MVP awards. Those accolades were accompanied by 10 Gold Glove awards and 12 All-Star appearances.

Carlton Fisk

26 of 50

    Born

    12/26/1947 (64 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .269/.341/.457, 376 HR, 1,330 RBI, 1,276 R, 2,356 H

     

    Career Overview

    Fisk broke into the league with the Red Sox in 1972, hitting .293 BA, 22 HR, 61 RBI while also leading the league with nine triples to take home AL Rookie of the Year honors.

    He had 19 seasons with double-digit home runs during his 24-year career, as he was one of the best offensive catchers in baseball year in and year out.

    He also launched one of the most iconic home runs of all time in the 1975 World Series.

Johnny Bench

27 of 50

    Born

    12/7/1947 (64 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .267/.342/.476, 389 HR, 1,376 RBI, 1,091 R, 2,048 H

     

    Career Overview

    The best offensive catcher of all-time before Mike Piazza came along, most still consider Bench to be the greatest catcher to ever play the game.

    A two-time NL MVP, Bench led the league in home runs during his award-winning season with 45 in 1970 and 40 in 1972.

    He also won 10 straight Gold Glove awards as he was a top-notch defender on top of his offensive game.

Nolan Ryan

28 of 50

    Born

    1/31/1947 (65 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    324-292, 3.19 ERA, 112 ERA+, 5,714 Ks, 5,386 IP

     

    Career Overview

    Baseball's strikeout king, Ryan pitched in parts of four decades over a total of 27 seasons. He hurled seven no-hitters and led the league in strikeouts 11 times, as he had some of the most dominant stuff in baseball history.

    He didn't post prolific win totals and is also the all-time leader in walks with 2,795, which has led some to peg him as one of the most overrated players in baseball history.

    Regardless of where you stand on that debate, there is no doubt his career as an impressive one and that he ranks among the top 50 living players.

Reggie Jackson

29 of 50

    Born

    5/18/1946 (66 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .262/.356/.490, 563 HR, 1,702 RBI, 1,551 R, 2,584 H

     

    Career Overview

    One of the best sluggers to ever play the game, Jackson is best known for his postseason heroics that earned him the name "Mr. October," with 18 HR and 48 RBI in 77 postseason games.

    He had a propensity to strike out, as his 2,957 whiffs are the most in baseball history, and he had as big an ego as anyone who has ever stepped foot on the field, but his prolific power numbers are more than enough for him to earn his place among the all-time greats.

Jim Palmer

30 of 50

    Born

    10/15/1945 (66 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    268-152, 2.86 ERA, 125 ERA+, 2,212 Ks, 3,948 IP

     

    Career Overview

    Palmer was the ace of some terrific Orioles pitching staffs, winning 186 games during the 1970s to lead all pitchers for the decade.

    He won 20-plus games in all but two seasons during the decade and he took home three Cy Young awards.

    Playing in the golden age of pitching, Palmer shined while pitching alongside guys like Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan, and he ranks as one of the best pitchers of all-time.

Steve Carlton

31 of 50

    Born

    12/22/1944 (67 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    329-244, 3.22 ERA, 115 ERA+, 4,136 Ks, 5,217.2 IP

     

    Career Overview

    One of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball history, Carlton had a terrific 15-year career with the Phillies going 241-161 with a 3.09 ERA and 3,031 strikeouts.

    He won four Cy Young awards, four win titles, an ERA title and five strikeout titles. He ranks fourth on the all-time strikeouts list, 11th on the wins list and threw the ninth-most innings ever.

Tom Seaver

32 of 50

    Born

    11/17/1944 (67 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    311-205, 2.86 ERA, 127 ERA+, 3,640 Ks, 4,783 IP

     

    Career Overview

    Seaver burst onto the scene with a 16-13, 2.76 ERA season as a rookie in 1967 to take home NL Rookie of the Year. Two years later, he pitched the Miracle Mets to the World Series and won his first Cy Young award.

    He went on to win two more Cy Young awards, three ERA titles and five strikeout titles on his way to the sixth-most strikeouts in baseball history.

Fergie Jenkins

33 of 50

    Born

    12/13/1942 (69 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    284-226, 3.34 ERA, 115 ERA+, 3,192 Ks, 4,500.2 IP

     

    Career Overview

    Jenkins spent 10 of his 19 big league seasons pitching for some bad Cubs teams, but still managed to rank among the best pitchers in all of baseball. 

    From 1967-1974, he won at least 20 games in all but one season, and he took home NL Cy Young honors in 1971, when he went 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA.

Joe Morgan

34 of 50

    Born

    9/19/1943 (68 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .271/.392/.427, 268 HR, 1,133 RBI, 1,650 R, 2,517 H

     

    Career Overview

    Few second basemen in the history of the game have made the type of impact Joe Morgan did during his 22 seasons in the league.

    He retired with the most home runs ever by a second baseman (now held by Jeff Kent) and he was recognized for his impact with the Big Red Machine with back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1975 and 1976.

    The vaunted team won their two titles in those seasons, and Morgan posted a .974 and 1.020 OPS in those seasons.

Pete Rose

35 of 50

    Born

    4/14/1941 (71 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .303/.375/.409, 160 HR, 1,314 RBI, 2,165 R, 4,256 H

     

    Career Overview

    While his career was and still is a controversial one, there is no arguing that Rose is one of the greatest players of his era. The all-time hits leader, Rose played 24 seasons and was the heart and soul of the Big Red Machine.

    His Hall of Fame candidacy can be argued all day, but as far as being one of the greatest living players, there is no doubt Rose belongs in the Top 50.

Carl Yastrzemski

36 of 50

    Born

    8/22/1939 (72 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .285/.379/.462, 452 HR, 1,844 RBI, 1,816 R, 3,419 H

     

    Career Overview

    The last player to achieve the Triple Crown, Yastrzemski hit .326 BA, 44 HR, 121 RBI in 1967 while also leading the league with 189 hits, 112 runs, .418 OBP, .622 SLG and 360 total bases.

    An 18-time All-Star, Yastrzemski ranks eighth all-time in hits, 13th in RBI and 17th in runs as he established himself as one of the greatest hitters of all-time during his 23-year career.

Willie McCovey

37 of 50

    Born

    1/10/1938 (74 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .270/.374/.515, 521 HR, 1,555 RBI, 1,229 R, 2,221 H

     

    Career Overview

    One of the most feared sluggers of the 1960s, McCovey used his prolific power to launch 521 career bombs, as he led the league in long balls three times during his career.

    He took home the 1969 NL MVP with a .320 BA, 45 HR, 126 RBI line as he finished 28 batting average points away from the Triple Crown, and spent 19 of his 22 seasons in the league with the Giants.

Juan Marichal

38 of 50

    Born

    10/20/1937 (74 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    243-142, 2.89 ERA, 123 ERA+, 2,303 Ks, 3,507 IP

     

    Career Overview

    One of the first great players from the Dominican Republic, Marichal was somewhat overshadowed during his playing career by contemporaries Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, but his career was terrific nonetheless.

    One of the most intimidating presences to ever take the mound, Marichal was not afraid to throw at guys to control the inside of the plate.

    A nine-time All-Star, he led the league in wins twice and ERA once on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

Brooks Robinson

39 of 50

    Born

    5/18/1937 (75 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .267/.322/.401, 268 HR, 1,357 RBI, 1,232 R, 2,848 H

     

    Career Overview

    The greatest defensive third baseman in the history of baseball, few players have been able to make the type of impact defensively that Robinson did at the hot corner for the Orioles. His 38.8 career defensive WAR is the third best all-time.

    He took home 16 Gold Glove awards, but was also a solid hitter and he won the 1964 AL MVP award when he hit .317 BA, 28 HR, 118 RBI and won World Series MVP in 1970.

Sandy Koufax

40 of 50

    Born

    12/30/1935 (76 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    165-87, 2.76 ERA, 131 ERA+, 2,396 Ks, 2,324.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    There has been no better four-year stretch from a pitcher in baseball history than what Koufax did from 1963-1966 when he posted an average line of 24-7, 1.86 ERA, 307 Ks and won the pitching Triple Crown three times.

    Unfortunately his career ended prematurely at the age of 30 due to an arthritic condition in his left elbow, or who knows what his career numbers would look like. As it is, he is still viewed as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game.

Bob Gibson

41 of 50

    Born

    11/9/1935 (76 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    251-174, 2.91 ERA, 127 ERA+, 3,117 Ks, 3884.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    Gibson was arguably the best pitcher of the 1960s, and he was the definition of a gamer, as he compiled a 7-2 record in the World Series, including a 3-0 record with a 1.00 ERA in three starts during the 1967 Series.

    He also turned in perhaps the greatest single-season pitching performance in baseball history in 1968, when he went 22-9, 1.12 ERA, 268 Ks and won the MVP and Cy Young. That season directly led to the changing of the mound height.


Frank Robinson

42 of 50

    Born

    8/31/1935 (76 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .294/.389/.537, 586 HR, 1,812 RBI, 1,829 R, 2,943 H

     

    Career Overview

    Robinson spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Reds, winning Rookie of the Year and MVP during that time while posting a .303 BA, 324 HR, 1,009 RBI line.

    However, after that he was declared "an old 30" and dealt to the Orioles for starter Milt Pappas.

    He immediately made DeWitt eat his words as he won the MVP and Triple Crown in his first season in Baltimore while leading the Orioles to a World Series title. He spent six productive seasons in Baltimore, joining the 500 HR Club in the process.

Al Kaline

43 of 50

    Born

    12/19/1934 (77 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .297/.376/.480, 399 HR, 1,583 RBI, 1,622 R, 3,007 H

     

    Career Overview

    The Tigers all-time leader in home runs, and arguably the second-best player in the long history of the franchise after the great Ty Cobb, Kaline spent all 23 of his big league seasons in Detroit.

    Surprisingly, he never hit 30 home runs in a season and only reached 100 RBI three times, but he was such a steady producer he finished his career with terrific numbers and was named to 15 All-Star teams.

Hank Aaron

44 of 50

    Born

    2/5/1934 (78 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .305/.374/.555, 755 HR, 2,297 RBI, 2,174 R, 3,771 H

     

    Career Overview

    Baseball's home run king for 33 years before he was passed by Barry Bonds (and still the home run king in many people's eyes), Aaron was a model of consistency during his 23-year playing career.

    He never reached 50 home runs in a season, but topped 30 a whopping 15 times. He still stands as the all-time leader in RBI while ranking third in hits and fourth in runs scored.

    He is a close second to Willie Mays for the title of greatest living player in my mind.

Willie Mays

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    Born

    5/6/1931 (81 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .302/.384/.557, 660 HR, 1,903 RBI, 2,062 R, 3,283 H

     

    Career Overview

    My vote for the greatest living ballplayer goes to Willie Mays, as he was the true definition of a five-tool player and is a serious candidate for the title of greatest baseball player of all time. I still give the nod to Babe Ruth there, but Mays is a close second.

    He was named to 20 All-Star teams, won a pair of MVP awards, three home run titles, four stolen base titles and 12 straight Gold Glove awards for his astounding defense in center field roaming the vast Polo Grounds.

Ernie Banks

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    Born

    1/31/1931 (81 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .274/.330/.500, 512 HR, 1,636 RBI, 1,305 R

     

    Career Overview

    "Mr. Cub" never got the chance to play in the postseason during his 19 seasons with the Cubs, but he more than made his mark as one of the first slugging shortstops the game had ever seen.

    He won back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1958 and 1959 for Cubs' teams that finished with losing records each season, as he was that much of an offensive force.

    He played the game the right way and truly loved taking the field, which is what endeared him to fans.

Whitey Ford

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    Born

    10/21/1928 (83 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    236-106, 2.75 ERA, 133 ERA+, 1,956 Ks, 3,170.1 IP

     

    Career Overview

    The ace of some terrific Yankees teams during the 1950s and early 1960s, Ford ended his career with the fourth best winning percentage of all time among players who qualified.

    As good as he was during the regular season, he was equally impressive over 22 World Series starts with a 10-8 record and 2.71 ERA.

    His career numbers could have been even better had he not lost two seasons early in his career while serving his country.

Yogi Berra

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    Born

    5/12/1925 (87 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .285/.348/.482, 358 HR, 1,430 RBI, 1,175 R, 2,150 H

     

    Career Overview

    A 15-time All-Star and one of the greatest offensive catchers in baseball history, Berra topped the 20-home run mark 11 times in his illustrious career.

    Also a three-time MVP, Berra played in a whopping 75 postseason games in helping the Yankees to 10 World Series titles with a .274 BA, 12 HR, 39 RBI line.

    Throw in his legendary personality, and it is no wonder Berra is a baseball legend.


Ralph Kiner

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    Born

    10/27/1922 (89 Years Old)

     

    Career Stats

    .279/.398/.548, 369 HR, 1,015 RBI, 971 R, 1,451 H

     

    Career Overview

    Few players have started their career as well as Kiner, as he led the league in home runs each of his first seven seasons in the league. In total, he piled up 294 home runs over those seven years prior to his 30th birthday.

    However, his career would span just three more seasons before a back injury cut things short at the age of 32.

    Still, his phenomenal start was enough for him to earn Hall of Fame induction, as he was one of the best power hitters of all time at his peak.

Stan Musial

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    Born

    11/21/1920 (91 Years Old) 

     

    Career Stats

    .331/.417/.559, 475 HR, 1,951 RBI, 1,949 R, 3,630 H

     

    Career Overview

    A 20-time All-Star and one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, Musial is the oldest living Hall of Famer and is squarely in the argument for greatest living player.

    A three-time NL MVP and seven-time batting title winner, "Stan the Man" spent all of his 22-year career with the Cardinals. The team won four NL pennants and three World Series titles during his time with the team.