Top Player in the History of Every Major League Baseball Team
Is Chase Utley the Greatest Philadelphia Phillie of All Time?
As of now, no. That title goes to Mike Schmidt, and after Schmidt there are probably at least three other players—Ed Delahanty, Steve Carlton, and Pete Alexander—ahead of him on the list, to say nothing of current teammates Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and maybe one day, Roy Halladay.
Just to see where we stand, here is a Major League Baseball-wide look at the greatest player in the history of each franchise.
New York Yankees: Babe Ruth
Ruth is generally considered the greatest player in the history of baseball, so calling him the greatest Yankee of all time should be without controversy.
Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams
If not for his time missed for World War II and the Korean War, we wouldn't be asking whether Williams was the greatest player on the Red Sox of all time, but rather whether he was the greatest player of all time, period.
Toronto Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado
Delgado is by far Toronto's best hitter of all time, and neither Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key, Roy Halladay, nor Tom Henke pitched long enough for the Blue Jays to out-maneuver Delgado from the top spot.
Baltimore Orioles: Brooks Robinson
The greatest defensive third baseman of all time with occasional pop in his bat, Robinson was the face of the Orioles defense that helped produce so many great pitching seasons.
Tampa Bay Rays: Carl Crawford
When you've been around for 12 years and one of your players has been with you for nine of them, it is hard to escape the conclusion that he is your franchise player.
Maybe one day Evan Longoria or B.J. Upton will take Crawford's spot, but we'll just have to let them fight that one out on their own.
Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller
It just so happens that players don't tend to spend their entire careers with the Indians, so Bob Feller's 18 seasons in Cleveland—minus almost four complete seasons sacrificed for World War II—make him a no-brainer over guys like Tris Speaker, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Albert Belle.
Plus, if you give Bob those war years back, the "Greatest Pitcher of All Time" conversation may end up starting and ending with him.
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb
Cobb is one of the top five hitters of all time. That puts him ahead of Cecil Fielder and Rob Deer on the list of Tigers all-time greats.
Kansas City Royals: George Brett
Hey George, calm down—no one said Hal McRae or Frank White were the Greatest Royals of All Time.
Minnesota Twins: Walter Johnson
OK, so Johnson was never a Minnesota Twin. The greatest Twin of all time was probably Harmon Killebrew, and may one day be Joe Mauer. But the greatest player in the history of this franchise is no doubt Walter Johnson, the greatest pitcher of all time.
(By the way, does anyone else think we missed a moment by not having Robin Williams portray Johnson in a movie about his life while Williams was still young?)
Chicago White Sox: Frank Thomas
A close call between Eddie Collins and Frank Thomas. Collins was probably the better overall player, but he spent more of his career away from the Sox.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Tim Salmon
I checked it. I re-checked it. I tried to pick Nolan Ryan, Troy Percival, Garrett Anderson, Brian Downing, Rod Carew, and Jim Fregosi.
At the end of the day, it was Tim Salmon.
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey, Jr.
Oddly, for a middling Major League Baseball franchise, there have been many great Mariners. Namely, Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, and Ichiro Suzuki.
I'll take Griffey's Kingdome years any day of the week.
Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez
Pudge was behind the plate for all the greatest Texas Rangers moments and was the catcher during the only period of sustained success in Rangers history.
And he teamed up with Nolan Ryan in the greatest beatdown in the history of professional sports.
Oakland Athletics: Lefty Grove
It was between Grove, Rickey Henderson, Jimmie Foxx, and Walt Weiss. I take Grove because, for my money, he was more dominant as a pitcher with the A's than those other three were as hitters.
New York Mets: Tom Seaver
No real contest here. Maybe one day it will be David Wright or Jose Reyes, but we won't even need to have that conversation for another 10 or so years.
Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt was an amazing defender and an tremendous power hitter.
I have called Schmidt "Ozzie Smith and Babe Ruth rolled into one." Truth be told, this should be amended: Schmidt didn't hit like Ruth. He hit more like Harmon Killebrew.
That is still pretty impressive.
(Now, let's see how many Philadelphia fans leave comments to this article arguing for Aaron Rowand.)
Atlanta Braves: Hank Aaron
Florida Marlins: Miguel Cabrera
It has been a speckled history for this franchise. Today, it is Cabrera. Tomorrow, perhaps Hanley Ramirez. After that, who knows?
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Tim Raines
What do all Montreal Expos have in common?
Eventually, they all leave the team for greener pastures.
This could have been Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, or Vlad Guerrero. I'll take Tim Raines.
If we were doing strictly Washington Nationals players, this would be Ryan Zimmerman.
Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks
Let's play two!
In a great history filled with great players, Banks edges out Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Gabby Hartnett, Cap Anson, Stan Hack, Three Finger Brown, Sammy Sosa, Lee Smith, and Mike Bielecki.
St. Louis Cardinals: Stan Musial
Stan the Man was, in fact, the Man. But Albert Pujols is The Machine, and he should in all likelihood one day occupy this spot. We are probably about a decade away.
Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Bench
This could be Pete Rose. I'll take Bench. He revolutionized his position and is considered one of the greatest two or three catchers of all time.
Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount
I can't even think of another Brewer who could be considered here. B.J. Surhoff? Teddy Higuera? Paul Molitor? Rickie Weeks?
Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell
It was down to Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who are truly the two greatest Astros of all time and one of the greatest dynamic duos of all time. At the end of the day, though, it was no contest, really.
By the way--List of Greatest Dynamic Duos of All Time (in terms of quality of play and time spent together):
Pittsburgh Pirates: Honus Wagner
This is, in part, a tribute to the greatness of Honus Wagner, the greatest shortstop of all time, and in part a tribute to the languid history of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Great Pirates Pantheon basically goes: Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Arky Vaughan, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and then Andrew McCutcheon.
San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays
Have I already played the "Next" card? Drag.
A long time ago, there was an awesome player named Willie Mays. He was an amazing home run hitter, base stealer, and defensive outfielder.
His numbers weren't as good as Barry Bonds' numbers, but Bonds spent several years in Pittsburgh and was also a big fat cheater.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Duke Snider
This came as a surprise to me.
You'd expect this to be Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, or Roy Campanella, but they all had careers cut tragically short by bad things.
As a 400-home-run-hitting centerfielder, Snider out-muscles Zach Wheat, Babe Herman, Pee Wee Reese, Willie Keeler, and Steve Sax.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson
In his first four years with Arizona, Johnson led the NL in strikeouts, ERA-plus, and strikeouts per nine innings. He also won the NL Cy Young four straight times.
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn
Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton
We all know that Helton's numbers look a little too close to Lou Gehrig's numbers to be real.
Nevertheless, of all the Colorado Rockies stars of the last 20 years—including Larry Walker, Garrett Atkins, Vinny Castilla, Dante Bichette, and Quinton McCracken—Helton is the one that you're pretty sure would have still been good elsewhere, as evidenced by his road batting average (.293) and OPS (.877).