MLB Power Ranking: The 100 Best Players in Baseball History
Ranking the top 100 baseball players of all-time is no easy task. It's hard to juggle players from the dead-ball era, the middle 20th century and modern times.
Even more complicated is how to rank players at different positions. Where do you place the game's dominant closers? How about starting pitchers? No matter how lights-out they may be, they still sat on the bench for most of their teams' games.
Then, of course, comes the prickly situation of cheating, whether proven, admitted or alleged. Should ballplayers be penalized for the use of performance-enhancing drugs? Corked bats? How about the spitball?
It all adds up to a lively debate that we encourage you to join as Bleacher Report presents The Top 100 Baseball Players of All Time.
100. Frankie Frisch
Batting .316 and recording 2,880 hits in 19 seasons, Frisch accounted for 3,937 total bases while playing for the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals from 1919-1937.
Frisch was capable of playing just about any position in the infield, and spent the majority of his career balancing time among second base, shortstop and third base.
99. Bill Terry
In 14 seasons with the New York Giants from 1923-36, "Memphis" Bill Terry is the last National League hitter to finish a season batting over the .400 mark, batting .401 for the 1930 Giants.
After his playing days, Terry became a successful manager for the Cincinnati Reds, winning a World Series with them in 1933 while still playing for the team and batting .322 with 153 hits.
98. Gaylord Perry
Winner of 314 games over 22 seasons, Gaylord Perry is the embodiment of the workhorse starting pitcher. Perry went over 300 innings in a season six times in his career and also won two Cy Young Awards, the latter of which he earned at 39 years of age.
Perry's career also had its dark sides, as the ageless wonder was also known for his "spit" ball, often times coating the underside of his cap or belt line with Vaseline. The spit ball is a dangerous pitch, difficult to control but hard to hit.
However, spit balls are not the most devilish thing in baseball, and they are certainly part of Perry's legacy.
97. Mariano Rivera
To date, Rivera has made 559 saves in 16 seasons, and while having the same set of pitches as a reliever for that period of time, he remains as dominant as the middle of his career, usually regarded as the peak of performance.
While being a specialty pitcher hurts his chances of comparing to position players, he still deserves to be on the list for playing his role better than most.
96. Paul Molitor
David Seelig/Getty Images
In Paul Molitor's career, he amassed 3,319 hits in 21 seasons while carrying a .306 BA and .369 OBP. Molitor won four Silver Slugger Awards and made seven All-Star appearances.
He went over 200 hits four times in his career, but the seasons were not grouped together. The last time he went over 200 hits was in 1996 at 39 years of age.
Had the proficient hitter stayed healthy, his numbers could have been even higher, and he likely would have been higher on the list. He still ranks second all-time on the Milwaukee Brewers hit list.
95. Goose Goslin
Leon Allen "Goose" Goslin amassed over 2,700 hits in his 18-year career. That's an average of 194 hits a year in a full, 162-game scenario.
Goslin also knocked in 1,609 RBI, which is an average of 89 per year.
94. Dennis Eckersley
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Dennis Eckersley began his career in an era void of specialty pitchers. A dominant arm out of the bullpen in his later years, Eckersley began his career as a starter, once going 20-8 with a 2.99 ERA while with the Red Sox in 1978.
A six-time All-Star, Eckersley eventually moved strictly to the bullpen and the move paid great dividends. He won the Cy Young and MVP in the same season (1992) while with the Oakland Athletics.
Eckersley was on the losing end of the infamous game-winning home run by Kirk Gibson in 1988, which slightly overshadowed his 45 saves that season.
At age 37, Eckersley rejuvenated his career with 51 saves in 80 innings pitched for the A's.
93. Jim Thome
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
Nearing 600 career HRs (589), Jim Thome is regarded as one of the best sluggers of his generation, and has managed to stay away from rumors of steroid usage.
In 20 Big League seasons, Thome has also gathered over 2,200 hits and 1,600 walks.
It appears Thome is just 11 homers away from an automatic Hall bid.
92. Manny Ramirez
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Most likely more well-known for off-and-on-the-field antics, along with steroid usage, Manny Ramirez is actually one of the most prolific hitters in his era.
Ramirez has 555 home runs in 18 seasons to date, with a .411 OBP and .586 slugging percentage. Manny has been an All-Star 12 times, but perhaps the most important award eluding him is an MVP.
Without being voted Most Valuable Player, Ramirez's legacy will not reach iconic status. However, he is still one of the most dominant hitters in any lineup ever, and therefore makes the list.
91. Sam Crawford
"Wahoo Sam" played for the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers from 1899 through 1917, coming up just 31 hits shy of 3,000 and driving in over 1,500 runs.
Crawford played in over 2,500 games in 19 seasons, while known for his resilience and refusal to leave the field despite serious injury.
90. Ed Walsh
Best known for winning 40 games in a single season for the Chicago White Sox in 1908, Ed Walsh is a career 195-game-winner in just 14 seasons in the Majors.
His ERA never reached higher than three before his final season with the Boston Braves, appearing in just four games for the team while having a 3.50 ERA.
He has 1,736 strikeouts while walking just 617 batters, an average of just 44 walks a season.
89. Trevor Hoffman
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
While controversially one of the best players in MLB history, Hoffman is the all-time leader in saves in Major League history, tallying 601 to date.
Hoffman holds a career 2.87 ERA while striking out 1,133 batters. His WHIP is 1.058, which means base-runners don't exist when he is on the mound.
87. Mark McGwire
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
While a key member in the now infamous "steroid era," McGwire slugged 583 HRs while driving in more than 1,400 runs.
McGwire won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1987 while with the Oakland Athletics. He spent many years as a "Bash Brother" with Jose Canseco, who later fingered McGwire, along with himself, as a steroid user.
While McGwire managed to avoid lying to the US Congress, it was later revealed that he used PEDs before they were illegal in the league.
With a .588 slugging percentage and those home runs, McGwire would be a solid pick for the Hall of Fame, but it may never come to fruition while human voters are still responsible for the final say on who makes it, and who doesn't.
86. Dave Winfield
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Dave Winfield is one of just 26 players in ML history to have over 3,000 hits for his career. In 22 seasons, Winfield was the picture of hitting, dominating opposing pitchers while driving in over 100 runs eight times.
Winfield continues to stay near to the game he loves, appearing as an analyst and TV personality.
85. Carlton Fisk
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Fisk waving his home run fair in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is the first thing that comes to mind for Red Sox fans.
The catcher, fondly known as "Pudge," was an All-Star 12 times and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1972. He also captured three Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove.
84. Lou Brock
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Lou Brock was one of the most prolific and perennial base-stealers the game of baseball has ever seen. Second in history only to Rickey Henderson, Brock has 938 swipes.
Modern lead-off men have a mountain to climb to touch the numbers achieved by Brock. He has 3,023 hits, 4,238 total bases, and 1,610 runs scored.
83. Willie Stargell
With the Pirates from 1962 until 1982, Stargell racked up 475 HRs while winning an MVP and appearing in seven All-Star games.
82. Luis Aparicio
While standing just 5'9" tall and weighing only 160 pounds, Luis Aparicio won Rookie of the Year in 1956 with the Chicago White Sox, won nine Gold Glove Awards at shortstop, and made ten All-Star appearances.
Aparicio paved the way for Latin-American players in the Majors, and his legacy lives on as a role model for young players looking to break in to the league.
81. Mordecai Brown
Nicknamed "Three Fingers" or "Miner" after a farm-machinery accident in which he lost two fingers, Mordecai Brown won 239 games in 14 seasons.
Brown was missing the majority of the index finger on his right hand, which gave him an advantage when throwing his devastating curveball. The stump allowed for extra spin on the ball, and his curveball became his signature pitch.
80. Robin Roberts
Roberts won nearly 300 games as a pitcher in his 19-year career from 1948-66, carrying an ERA of 3.41 and striking out 2,357 batters and lasting through 305 complete games.
79. Al Simmons
Al Simmons finished his career just 77 hits shy of 3,000 and had over 200 hits six times, while missing another year by just a single hit.
Simmons played the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in two stints. He was also a stellar fielder, boasting a .982 fielding percentage.
78. Eddie Murray
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
A member of the 500 Home Run Club, Murray is a slugger known for his knowledge of hitting, but also fielding.
Murray's name has three Gold Gloves attached to it, along with Rookie of the Year in 1977, Silver Sluggers in '83 and '84, and eight All-Star appearances.
77. Wade Boggs
Al Bello/Getty Images
While Boggs has been the focus of off-the-field reports, mainly for clumsiness landing him on the disabled list, he was no goof at the plate.
With 3,010 hits, a lifetime batting average of .328, eight Silver Slugger Awards and 12 straight All-Star nods from 1985-96, Boggs certainly deserves his place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
76. Roy Halladay
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
In 13 seasons, Roy Halladay has a record of 169-86, with an ERA of 3.32 and a WHIP of 1.181 while averaging 235 innings pitched a season.
He is on pace to become one of the most successful starting pitchers in history.
75. Robin Yount
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Yount, having spent his entire 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers, is the all-time franchise leader in hits with 3,142 despite just a .285 career batting average.
The shortstop won two MVP Awards (1982 and 1989) and three Silver Sluggers ('80, '82, '89) but most surprisingly only had one season of more than 200 hits, coming in 1982 (210), the same season he collected the MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and an All-Star appearance.
74. Paul Waner
Having the coolest nickname on the countdown, "Big Poison" Waner recorded 3,152 hits in 20 seasons. However, it is widely thought that Waner peaked too early, his best season coming just two years into his professional career.
In 1927, Waner had 237 hits while driving in 131 runs and winning his one and only MVP Award. In 1929, Waner would tally exactly 100 RBI, the last time he would touch triple digits in that department.
Still, Waner averaged 158 hits per season, and is regarded as one of the best hitters to ever play the game.
73. Albert Pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
In his 10 seasons in the Majors, Albert Pujols has collected 408 HR while carrying a .331 BA and .426 OBP.
He doesn't yet qualify for a list like this because he still has several years ahead of him to make his numbers match up with the rest of the list.
However, Pujols is on pace to be one of the most prolific offensive machines in ML history.
72. Joe Cronin
In Cronin's era, it was common for players to manage their teams as well, and Cronin was successful at both.
Cronin was an All-Star seven times and finished with a .301 batting average. He also led the Washington Senators to the 1933 World Series as a player and manager.
71. Hoyt Wilhelm
Affectionately known as "Old Sarge," Hoyt Wilhelm was a knuckleball specialist, winning a relief-pitching record 124 games.
He is also the first pitcher to reach the 200-save plateau, and first to appear in 1,000 games. Wilhelm pitched a total of 21 seasons, maintaining a 2.51 ERA and striking out more than 1,600 batters.
70. Barry Bonds
Greg Trott/Getty Images
Let's not forget at one point Barry Bonds stole 52 bases while hitting 33 home runs for the 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, Bonds is more known for steroid allegations and hitting 73 home runs for the San Francisco Giants in in a 2001 season filled with history, breaking Mark McGwire's mark.
Bonds is currently the record holder for home runs in a career also with 761, which many feel is an inflated number. Bonds walked 2,558 times in his career, also a ML record.
69. George Sisler
Sisler's 257 hits for the 1920 St. Louis Browns was a MLB record for 84 years before Ichiro Suzuki hit 262 in 2004 for the Seattle Mariners.
The left-handed first baseman topped the .400 BA mark twice in his career, hitting .407 in 1920, and .420 in 1922.
Sisler finished with 2,812 hits for his career and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
68. Reggie Jackson
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Reggie Jackson became known as "Mr. October" while playing for the Yankees in the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers. Jackson hit three home runs in Game 6, thus earning his nickname as a prolific playoff hitter.
Jackson has 563 career home runs, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, six years after his playing days were over.
67. Dizzy Dean
A line drive off the bat of Earl Averill of the Cleveland Indians in the 1937 All-Star game ultimately cut short and otherwise magnificent career of pitcher Dizzy Dean.
Coming back too quickly before the injury had healed properly, Dizzy changed his dramatic pitching motion so the landing on the injured toe would be softer.
The change in delivery drastically lessened his effectiveness, which led to an early retirement. In a piece of classic trivia only the 1940s could berth, six years into his retirement, Dean appeared in a game for the St. Louis Browns.
The Browns were dreadful, and Dean was hired as the broadcaster for the team in an effort to draw more fans. At one point in the booth, Dean remarked that he could pitch better than nine of ten guys on the pitching staff.
The comment received numerous complaints from the wives of the pitchers, so Dean was put to the test. He pitched four innings, facing 14 batters, rendering three hits and no runs. He pulled his hamstring while rounding first after a single, and returned to the booth to gloat.
66. Harmon Killebrew
A true slugger, Harmon "Killer" Killebrew belted 573 home runs, crossing the 100-RBI plateau nine times in 22 seasons with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.
Killebrew was known for his power, and finished his career with a .509 slugging percentage and .884 OPS. He made 11 All-Star appearances, nine straight from 1963-71 and won the 1968 MVP Award.
65. Alex Rodriguez
Al Bello/Getty Images
To date, Alex Rodriguez has 2,672 hits, 613 HRs, and a .571 slugging percentage and counting. Rodriguez may forever find himself under scrutiny and controversy, having adding to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
However, the numbers, while perhaps inflated in the smallest degree, still don't lie. What makes him a great player is his defense in the infield, ability to get on base, and score runs via the walk, double, or home run.
If this list were the top 100 most popular players in history, Rodriguez may not be in the top 200, but he is still a great player, and one of the most dominant forces of his era.
64. Al Kaline
Kaline as a player was a solid balance of hitting and stellar defense with a strong throwing arm. He spent his entire 22-year career with the Detroit Tigers, collecting 10 Gold Gloves, seven consecutively as a right fielder and first baseman, while also being selected to 15 All-Star teams, 13 consecutively.
He won the American League batting title in 1955 with a .340 BA, becoming the youngest player in history to do so at 20 years old.
63. Pie Traynor
Harold Joseph "Pie" Traynor received his nickname as a kid by frequently entering the same grocery store to ask for pie. The store manager began calling him "Pie Face," which was later shortened to just "Pie."
Odd nicknames aside, Traynor played his entire 17-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, tallying over 2,400 hits while being considered one of the best third basemen ever to play the game following World War II.
62. Duke Snider
Duke Snider was one of the most successful power hitters of the 1950s, hitting 40 HRs or more for five straight seasons leading up to the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to Snider's native California.
Snider has a career .540 slugging percentage and .919 OPS.
Snider is also famous for MVP controversy:
While Snider did not win the 1955 Most Valuable Player Award, he could have but for a freak occurrence.
"Snider finished second to teammate Roy Campanella by just five points, 226-221, with each man receiving eight first place votes. The voting, conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America, is run as follows: Each voting member, one from each major league city, fills out a ballot selecting ten players. A player receiving a first place vote gets 14 points, 9 points for second, and then awards of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for those in places 3 through 10.
A hospitalized writer from Philadelphia had turned in a ballot with Roy Campanella listed in position number 1 as well as in position number 5. The assumption had been that the writer had meant to write Snider's name into one of those slots. Unable to get a clarification from the ill writer, the BBWA, after considering disallowing the ballot, decided to accept it, count the first place vote for Campanella and count the fifth place vote as though it were left blank.
Had the ballot been disallowed the vote would have been won by Snider 221-212. Had Snider gotten that now-blank fifth place vote, the final vote would have favored Snider 227-226."
61. Derek Jeter
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Yankees all-time leader in hits with 2,926, Derek Jeter has become a model for hitting successes while spending his entire career with the New York Yankees.
He is projected to enter the 3,000 hit club this season, and once taking his place with that elite club, will likely ensure his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
His defense and leadership are also qualities that make him one of the best players ever to play the game.
60. Bill Dickey
Dickey won seven World Series Championships as a catcher, all with the New York Yankees from 1932-43 and appeared in 11 All-Star games, nine consecutive.
Dickey's playing days were cut short by World War II, but he returned for one last season as player-manager in 1946, in what is known as his "curtain call" year.
He would go on to become Yogi Berra's mentor in 1949 while a member of the Yankees' coaching staff.
59. Charlie Gehringer
Gehringer spent 19 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, compiling 2,839 hits, seven times going over the 200-hit plateau in a season.
He also made six All-Star appearances and won the MVP Award in 1937, that year batting .371 while scoring 133 runs.
58. Rod Carew
Getty Images/Getty Images
A perennial fan favorite, Carew was also a prolific hitter. In nearly two decades split with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, Carew was an All-Star every season except his last.
He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1967 with the Twins while collecting 150 hits that season.
Carew has 3,053 hits in his career, while also winning an MVP in 1977 with Minnesota. That year he batted .388 with 239 hits and 128 runs scored.
57. Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer spent his entire 19-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, winning 268 games and finishing with a lifetime 2.86 ERA. He won 20 games or more in a season eight times while claiming three Cy Young Awards.
Not only was Palmer a dynamic pitcher with effective stuff, he could also field his position very well. He won four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1976-79, and also made six All-Star appearances.
He remains the only American League Hall of Fame pitcher to win the Cy Young Award three times.
56. Willie McCovey
Despite playing only 52 games in 1959 for the San Francisco Giants, McCovey earned Rookie of the Year honors. In that short stretch, he batted .354 while amassing 68 hits.
A legitimate power threat, McCovey claimed 521 career homers, and had an MVP season in 1969, driving in 126 runs while belting 45 HRs.
He was a six-time All-Star, finishing his career with San Francisco after short stints with the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics.
55. Whitey Ford
Ford won 236 games over 16 seasons, all with the New York Yankees from 1950-67, and winning the 1961 Cy Young Award. That season, Whitey won 25 games and started 39 for the Yankees.
A workhorse on the mound, Ford accomplished the 200-innings mark in 13 of his 16 seasons, but he also carried a .690 winning percentage.
54. Carl Hubbell
While pitching for the New York Giants from 1928-43, Hubbell won 253 games and the MVP Award twice ('33, '36). He was elected to nine All-Star games and won 62% of his starts.
He has a lifetime ERA of 2.98 while demonstrating solid control, walking just one out of every 20 batters faced.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947, despite entering the league at age 25, which was considered to be a late start in that time frame.
53. Ozzie Smith
Ozzie "The Wizard" Smith is the recipient of 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards at shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals from 1980-92.
Smith was elected to 15 All-Star games, 12 consecutively. His signature back flip, seen in this photo, along with his ability to make bare-handed plays, assured him of the Gold Glove each season.
One of the most beloved players on this countdown, Ozzie's fun-loving personality and on-the-field presence entertained and electrified crowds for years. He recorded 2,460 hits, 1,257 runs scored, and 580 stolen bases. He is regarded as one of the best lead-off hitters in modern history.
52. Juan Marichal
Despite never winning a Cy Young Award, Marichal won 243 games in his career with the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.
With a lifetime 2.89 ERA, the "Dominican Dandy" provided years of support on the mound, winning 21 games or more in a season seven times.
In 1968, perhaps the best season of his career, Marichal won 26 games while throwing 30 complete games and pitching 325.2 innings.
51. Joe Jackson
Perhaps no other player besides "Babe" Ruth is more closely intertwined with their nickname as much as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.
Jackson was on his way to a brighter career, but was banned from Major League Baseball after the 1920 season. It was discovered he had participated in the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal in which players from the heavily favored White Sox intentionally threw the World Series as part of a betting conspiracy.
"Shoeless Joe" was nicknamed as such for his obvious speed, as though he was "running out of his shoes."
From 1908-20, Jackson played for three teams: The Philadelphia Athletics, the Cleveland Naps, and the Chicago White Sox. He began his career at age 18, and had four seasons of 200 hits or more.
50. Joe Morgan
Joe Morgan was a run-producing machine at second base for the Cincinnati Reds. While playing in 22 ML seasons, beginning with the Houston Astros in 1063 at age 19, Morgan established his legacy as a Red, scoring over 100 a season from 1972-77.
He won the MVP Award twice ('75, '76), batting well over .300 both seasons while carrying an on-base percentage of .466 and .444 respectively.
Morgan was solid defensively, winning five consecutive Gold Gloves from 1973-77 with the Reds,
A broadcaster for ESPN for many seasons, Morgan was the image of business in his playing days as well. He has rejoined the Reds organization as "special advisor to baseball operations."
49. Carl Yastrzemski
In a storied franchise, Carl Yastrzemski is a name included with the best of them. The left fielder and first baseman played his entire 23-year career with the Red Sox, winning numerous Gold Glove Awards and the 1967 MVP.
Yastrzemski holds several Red Sox records, including RBI, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played. A productive hitter, he also slugged 452 HRs.
48. Mickey Cochrane
Mickey Cochrane broke into the league in 1925 at age 22 with the Philadelphia Athletics. That season, he batted .341 in 134 games.
In 13 seasons, split between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Detroit Tigers, Cochrane batted left-handed, was often inserted into the lead-off spot by Athletics Manager Connie Mack due to his speed, and is considered to be one of the greatest hitting and defensive catchers to ever play the game.
Cochrane won two MVPs ('28, '34) and finished his career with a .320 batting average. As a member of the Detroit Tigers, Cochrane also managed the team, winning his second MVP in 1934, mostly due to his leadership abilities, despite Lou Gehrig hitting for the Triple Crown.
47. Roy Campanella
While playing just 10 Major League seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella was a pioneer in the fight to end prejudice against blacks, making the transition from the Negro Leagues to Major League Baseball in 1948 at 26 years of age.
In his short time in the Majors, Campanella won the MVP Award three times ('51, '53, '55). He was beloved by fans everywhere, as evident by his eight All-Star appearances.
His best season came in 1953, when he hit 41 HRs and knocked in 142 RBIs.
Sadly, in 1958, Campanella became paralyzed from the waist down following an automobile accident in his native New York.
He was forced to retire early from the game of baseball, but he had already cemented his legacy as one of the best catchers ever to play the game.
46. Randy Johnson
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Nicknamed "The Big Unit" by legendary Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, the 6'10" Johnson collected 303 career wins and 4,875 strikeouts, which ranks second all-time.
Randy is the owner of five Cy Young Awards, and made nine All-Star appearances in his 22 ML seasons.
Johnson is widely considered one of the most intimidating and dominant pitchers in the history of the game. He will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2014.
45. Mel Ott
In the prime of his career, Mel Ott drove in around 100 runs in 1929-38, while hitting 30-40 HRs. He has 511 career HRs, and a .304 BA.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Ott's game was his size. He was just 5'9" tall, but became the first National League player in history to hit 500 home runs.
Ott was elected to 11 straight All-Star games.
44. Hank Greenberg
Known as "Hammerin' Hank," Hank Greenberg was a slugger by the true nature of the word. However, many believe had he not been drafted into World Word II, Greenberg's numbers would have been greatly increased.
The first baseman played all but his final season with the Detroit Tigers, slugging 331 homers over 13 seasons with a .313 batting average. He won the MVP twice, although not winning the award in his two best seasons.
In 1937, Greenberg recorded 183 RBI, and in 1938 hit 58 HRs, which still ranks him tenth on the single-season home run list.
43. Eddie Collins
Eddie "Cocky" Collins is perhaps one of the most recognizable names in baseball history in terms of longevity. The second baseman entered the Majors at age 19, and would play until age 43, participating in 25 seasons from 1906-30, first playing with the Philadelphia Athletics, then the Chicago White Sox, and finally returning to the A's to eventually retire.
Collins ranks 10th all-time in hits with 3,315 knocks. His hitting accolades would rival the best lead-off hitters of today. While not a power threat (Just 47 HRs in 25 seasons), Collins had an innate ability to get on base.
While there is a discrepancy in his on-base percentage (MLB.com lists it at .406 and Baseball-reference.com has it at .424), Collins was no stranger to the base paths. He amassed over 1,800 runs scored.
Eddie's son, Eddie Collins Jr. would follow in his father's footsteps, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1939-42.
42. Ichiro Suzuki
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Since his rookie season (at age 27), Ichiro Suzuki has finished each season with at least 206 hits. He has only spent 10 years in Major League Baseball and already has 2,244 hits, with an OBP of .376 and 383 stolen bases. Ichiro has won three Silver Slugger Awards, an MVP and Rookie of the Year.
His offensive numbers rival his stellar defense. He has won a Gold Glove every season of his career, and is known for his strong arm and superb fielding.
This list will be revised as the years go on, and Ichiro will perhaps enter the countdown near the front of the pack when his playing days are over.
41. Roger Clemens
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Roger Clemens recorded over 4,600 strikeouts over 24 seasons while compiling 354 wins. He won seven MVP Awards, the last coming at 42 years of age.
In 1986, Clemens won the Cy Young and the MVP, going 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA. He also made 11 All-Star appearances and ranks third all-time in career strikeouts.
He has recently been linked to steroid usage, and is awaiting trial for perjury with the US Congress.
40. Greg Maddux
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
A 355-game winner over 23 Major League seasons, Greg Maddux is the picture of leadership, longevity and dominance.
Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992-95, and arguably fielded his position better than any pitcher in history, collecting 18 Gold Glove Awards.
He was named to eight All-Star rosters and finished his career with a 3.16 ERA.
39. Pete Rose
Pete Rose won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and made 17 All-Star appearances at an while playing first base, second base, third base, left field and right field.
While his legacy is forever tarnished for betting on baseball while denying it for years, Rose is widely considered the best hitter ever to play the game.
Rose currently holds the following records, according to Wikipedia:
- Major League records:
- Most career hits - 4,256
- Most career outs - 10,328
- Most career games played - 3,562
- Most career at bats - 14,053
- Most career singles - 3,215
- Most career runs by a switch hitter - 2,165
- Most career doubles by a switch hitter - 746
- Most career walks by a switch hitter - 1,566
- Most career total bases by a switch hitter - 5,752
- Most seasons of 200 or more hits - 10
- Most consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits - 23
- Most consecutive seasons with 600 or more at bats - 13 (1968–1980)
- Most seasons with 600 at bats - 17
- Most seasons with 150 or more games played - 17
- Most seasons with 100 or more games played - 23
- Record for playing in the most winning games - 1,972
- Only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions - 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595)
- National League records:
- Most years played - 24
- Most consecutive years played - 24
- Most career runs - 2,165
- Most career doubles - 746
- Most career games with 5 or more hits - 10
- Modern (post-1900) record for longest consecutive game hitting streak - 44
- Modern record for most consecutive hitting streaks of 20 or more games - 7
38. Tony Gwynn
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
No one was more consistent as a hitter than Tony Gwynn. In 20 Major League seasons, Gwynn overcame the 3,000 hit plateau, won seven Silver Sluggers, earned three Gold Gloves in the outfield, and participated in 15 All-Star games.
His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., recently signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
37. Cal Ripken Jr.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Nicknamed "The Iron Man," Cal Ripken Jr. set the record for consecutive games played with 2,632, passing Lou Gehrig.
In 21 seasons, the infielder belted 3,184 hits, 431 of those being home runs. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1982, and won the MVP the next season along with a Silver Slugger.
He would win another MVP in 1991, eight Silver Slugger Awards, and two Gold Gloves. He was elected to 19 straight All-Star games.
Since retiring from baseball and being elected into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Ripken has started a youth baseball program, similar to Little League, to help youths come together in a safe environment.
36. Eddie Mathews
Eddie Mathews came into the league with the Boston Braves at age 20 in 1952. He stayed with the team as they moved to Milwaukee in 1953, and to Atlanta in 1966.
He has 512 career HRs, and over 1,400 RBIs. Matthews is considered one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game. Matthews hit his 500th home run off Hall of Famer Juan Marichal during the 1967 season.
35. Nolan Ryan
The "Ageless Wonder" pitched in the Majors from the time he was 19 years old in 1966 until retiring with the the Texas Rangers in 1993 at 46 years of age. In 27 seasons, Ryan pitched over 5,300 innings and struck out a MLB-record 5,714 batters.
The most famous incident of Ryan's career was a fist fight on the mound with Chicago White Sox hitter Robin Ventura after Ventura charged the mound when Ryan threw at him. Ryan got the upper hand, repeatedly punching Ventura in the head.
Along with the career strikeout records, Ryan also holds the mark for most walks in a career with 2,795 base on balls, 962 ahead of second-place Steve Carlton.
34. Lefty Grove
A true sandlot story, Lefty Grove was discovered playing ball in local neighborhoods of Baltimore. He began his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1925, striking out 116 batters but walking 131 men.
However, he would quickly turn the numbers around and eventually win exactly 300 games. He claimed the 1931 MVP with the A's in the midst of seven straight 20-win seasons. In 1931, he won 31 games with a 2.06 ERA.
After joining the Boston Red Sox, Lefty was continuously hampered by injuries, and his career tailed off. He still won 20 games in 1935, but it would be the last time he would reach that mark.
Grove made his career being consistent and steady while healthy, and is considered one of the most dominant non-strikeout pitchers in MLB history.
33. Nap Lajoie
Nap Lajoie ranks 13th all-time in hits with 3,242 in 21 seasons from 1897-1916 with the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians.
Lajoie played in Ty Cobb's era, and was considered his biggest competition for best player in the league.
He is one of only five players in MLB history to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded. His .426 batting average in 1901 is good for sixth-highest in MLB history.
32. Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson is the all-time stolen base leader in the history of MLB. He has 1,406 career stolen bases while playing from 1979 until 2003 with the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
He won the 1990 MVP with the Oakland Athletics, batting .325 with 65 stolen bases and 119 runs scored. Henderson was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
The lead-off stolen base specialist also won three Silver Slugger Awards, a Gold Glove, and was elected to 10 All-Star appearances.
31. Ken Griffey Jr.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
In Ken Griffey Jr.'s 22-year career, he was an award-winning machine. "Junior" won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, seven Silver Sluggers, the 1997 MVP, and was elected to 13 All-Star teams, 11 consecutively.
Griffey was a human highlight reel in center field, known for his quickness to the ball and disregard for life and limb when crashing into the wall to catch long drives.
It has been said several times by fans and experts close to the game, had Griffey stayed healthy, he would have challenged Hank Aaron's career home run mark. Griffey will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2015, and with his 630 career HRs, he will likely be a first-ballot inductee.
30. Jackie Robinson
The name Jackie Robinson is synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of prejudice.
Making the transition from the Negro Leagues to MLB in 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier that had long since been an accepted part of professional baseball.
Robinson would win Rookie of the Year in 1947 at 28 years of age. He also won the 1949 MVP, and was elected to six consecutive All-Star games.
Although his MLB career was short, Robinson averaged over 150 hits per season while scoring 947 runs and averaging near 150 hits per season.
29. Bob Feller
A farm boy from Van Meter, Iowa, Bob Feller grew up in humble beginnings. He reached the Majors in 1936 at age 17, reportedly signing for a dollar and an autographed baseball.
In his 18-year career, spent entirely with the Cleveland Indians, Feller won 20 games or more six times. He won 266 games in his career, with a stingy 3.25 ERA.
28. Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks was the first black player to ever wear a Chicago Cubs uniform, coming to the team from the Negro Leagues prior to the 1953 season.
Banks won back-to-back MVPs for the Cubs in 1958-59, and won the Gold Glove the following year. The first baseman and shortstop finished his career with over 2,500 hits.
He is also a member of the 500 home run club, and was known for his solid hitting and power bat.
27. Yogi Berra
He picked up his famous nickname from Bobby Hofman, who noticed the catcher resembled a Hindu holy man (yogi) they had seen in a movie, whenever Berra sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat.
Aside from being one of the best catchers in the history of the game, Berra is known for his catch phrases.
He won three MVP Awards ('51, '54, '55), and was elected to 15 straight All-Star games from 1948-62. A steady hitter with decent power, Berra was the face of the Yankees franchise in the 1950s, and remains a prominent figure in the Yankees organization.
26. Steve Carlton
Steve Carlton amassed 329 wins over 24 seasons from 1965-88, winning the Cy Young Award four times, a Gold Glove in 1981, and striking out 4,136 batters, which is good enough for fourth on the all-time list.
Carlton had six 20-win seasons, and finished the 1972 season with a 1.97 ERA, wining the Cy Young Award.
The dominant pitcher was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
25. Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente played his entire 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but tragically died in a plane crash on his way to his native Puerto Rico to aid in earthquake relief.
In his career, Clemente had exactly 3,000 hits, 12 straight Gold Glove Awards (1961-72), an MVP in 1968, and 12 All-Star appearances.
Due to his passionate aid of his native Puerto Rico, the Roberto Clemente Award is now given out annually to the MLB player that stands out the most as a community volunteer.
24. Mike Schmidt
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The seemingly perfect balance between stellar fielding and solid hitting, Mike Schmidt won nine Gold Glove Awards, six Silver Sluggers and three MVPs.
Schmidt also possessed decent power, hitting 548 homers in his career.
23. Tom Seaver
The 311-game winner played 20 seasons for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and the Boston Red Sox.
His 2.86 ERA is a testament to the effectiveness of his pitches, and his ability to get outs. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1967, and won three Cy Youngs ('69, '73, '75).
He has 3,640 career strike outs, and a WHIP of 1.121, only walking 1,390 batters.
22. Frank Robinson
Recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award in 1956 at age 20 with the Cincinnati Reds, Frank Robinson would set the tone for his career.
Robinson slugged 586 HRs over 21 seasons, also winning two MVP Awards ('61, '66). In 1962, the outfielder and first baseman batted .342 with 208 hits and 134 runs scored.
Robinson continues to be active in the Majors as a coach, and shares his great baseball mind with this generation.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
21. Grover Alexander
Grover Alexander was one of 13 children, signing his first contract at age 20 in 1907 for $50 per month. His ML career was delayed a few years after being struck in the head by an errant throw while running the bases.
Finally, in 1911 at age 24, Alexander broke into the league and won 28 games in his rookie season. He pitched 367 innings and maintained his ERA at 2.57, but was not considered a Cy Young candidate, largely because the award didn't exist as Cy Young was in his final season.
Grover's 373 career wins ranks third all-time in MLB history.
20. Tris Speaker
Nicknamed "The Gray Eagle" for his ability to fly around center field, Tris Speaker was also one of the most prolific hitters in the history of baseball, ranking fifth all-time in MLB history with 3,514 knocks.
Speaker holds the all-time record for doubles with 792, not due to his power, but rather his speed. He won his only MVP with Boston in 1912, batting .383 that season.
19. Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax's career was anything but ordinary. He spent 12 seasons with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, winning 165 games with a 2.75 ERA. Analysts and fans are left to wonder what could have been had Koufax remained in the league.
However, due to constant pain and health issues, Koufax was forced to retire at just 30 years of age. During the 1965 and '66 seasons, Koufax was on a prescription drug regimen just to pitch during games.
He won the Cy Young Award three times ('63, '65, '66), also winning the MVP Award in 1963. He won a combined 78 games in his Cy Young seasons, and in each Cy Young campaign also captured the pitcher's Triple Crown (Wins, strikeouts, ERA).
18. Jimmie Foxx
Jimmie Foxx won three MVP Awards while playing for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox. The power-hitting first baseman smashed 534 home runs and drove in over 1,900 RBI in his 20 seasons in the bigs.
Foxx is also a career .325 hitter and once hit 58 home runs in a season.
16. Johnny Bench
Widely considered the best catcher in the history of MLB (Josh Gibson of the Negro Leagues may have been ever better), Johnny Bench amassed a Rookie of the Year in 1968, 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1968-77, and was a two-time MVP ('70, '72).
He spent his entire 17-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
17. Bob Gibson
Bob Gibson was just as solid of a fielder as he was a pitcher. He won nine straight Gold Gloves from 1965-73, and won two Cy Young Awards, the first time in in 1968, the same season he won his only MVP.
The seven-time All-Star won 251 games, all for the St. Louis Cardinals, and finished his career with a 2.91 ERA.
15. Warren Spahn
A dominant lefty, Warren Spahn claimed 363 wins over 21 seasons from 1942-65 with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. He began his career in 1942 at age 21, but immediately took four years off due to World War II.
In 1953, Spahn went 23-7 with a 2.10 ERA, but did not win any awards. His only Cy Young would come in 1957, after the award was created the year before.
Spahn has a lifetime 3.09 ERA and over 2,500 strikeouts.
14. Cy Young
From 1890 until 1911, the dominant pitcher in the game was Cy Young. In 1892, Young won 36 games with a stingy 1.93 ERA. He currently holds the MLB record for wins in the following categories, according to baseballreference.com:
Games Started: 815
Complete Games: 749
Innings Pitched: 7,356
Hits Allowed: 792
Earned Runs Allowed: 2,147
Batters faced: 29,565
Cy Young far and away holds the record for innings pitched, and it may be the sole reason he holds the records for losses, hits allowed, and earned runs allowed.
In 100 years since Cy Young hung up his spikes, no one has come close to several of his records.
13. Rogers Hornsby
Debatably the best second baseman in MLB history, Rogers Hornsby was just 70 hits shy of 3,000 when he left the game in 1937. More specifically, he was an amazing hitter.
Hornsby's career batting average is .358, good enough for second all-time (Ty Cobb). He broke the .400 mark three times, and nearly a fourth.
His .424 batting average in 1924 is eighth in MLB history for a single season.
12. Honus Wagner
"The Flying Dutchman" was one of the fastest shortstops to play the game in the early 1900's. He stole 723 career bases, batting .328 and scoring over 1700 runs.
Wagner won eight batting titles, which is the most in MLB history, tied with Tony Gwynn. Wagner is considered the best all-around player of the "dead ball" era.
His 3,420 career hits ranks him eighth all-time.
11. Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson spent most of his career with the New York Giants from 1900-16 before spending the remainder of the 1916 season with the Cincinnati Reds and then retiring.
Mathewson finished his career with a 2.13 ERA in a pitcher-dominant period of MLB. His best season was in 1908 when he won 37 games and finished the year with a 1.43 ERA.
He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
10. Walter Johnson
Walter Johnson spent his entire career with the Washington Senators, establishing several records that have yet to be broken.
In 21 seasons, Johnson racked up 417 wins, second all-time only to Cy Young. His 2.17 career ERA ranks him ninth all-time.
Johnson holds the record for shutouts with 110, and is second all-time with 531 complete games. He is a two-time MVP.
9. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle is a three-time MVP Award winner who played for the New York Yankees for his entire 18-year career.
He hit 536 home runs, drove in over 1,500 runs and had over 2,400 hits. His OPS was .977 and he had a .557 slugging percentage.
Unfortunately for Mantle, his struggles with alcoholism would cut down his quality of life, and ultimately lead to his death.
His wife and sons completed alcohol abuse treatment, and so did he in 1994. However, his son died at age 36 due to complications from substance abuse.
Mantle will be remembered as a great hitter and legendary Yankee.
7. Willie Mays
Widely considered the finest fielding outfielder in history, Willie Mays, the "Say Hey Kid" was a five-tool player in his days as well.
Mays had a strong arm, decent speed, great range, and a phenomenal bat that could hit for average and for power.
Mays won Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 with the New York Giants, and two MVP Awards (one in New York and one in San Francisco).
He won 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957-68, and hit 660 HRs while collecting 3,283 hits, which ranks 11th all-time.
8. Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio is best known for his 56-game hitting streak he achieved in 1941, a record that still stands. The center fielder won three MVP Awards while spending all 13 of his MLB seasons with the New York Yankees.
His career was split when he enlisted in the Army in 1943, rising to the rank of sergeant. Joe was named an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons, and collected over 2,200 hits while batting .325 in his career.
6. Stan Musial
Stan Musial is a three-time MVP, spending his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941-63.
Musial recorded 3,630 hits, which ranks fourth all-time. He was elected to 21 straight All-Star games, only missing his first season in 1941, in which he only played 12 games.
The outfielder has a career batting average mark of .331, with nearly 2,000 runs scored.
5. Ty Cobb
"The Georgia Peach" is arguably regarded as the best hitter in the history of baseball. Over the course of his career, Cobb set an estimated 90 records.
His .366 career batting average is the highest in the history of the league, and his 4,191 hits ranks second all-time in MLB history.
In 1911, Cobb batted .420, collecting 248 hits and winning the MVP. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1936 at 49 years of age.
4. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron's 2,297 RBI remain the most in the history of MLB. He's second in home runs, seven shy of Barry Bonds with 755, and third in with 3,771 hits.
He has a lifetime .305 BA, and holds the record for total bases with 6,856. He won the MVP Award in 1957, that year hitting 44 home runs and driving in 132 RBI.
He was selected to 21 straight All-Star games, and won three Gold Gloves.
3. Ted Williams
Widely considered the best player in Boston Red Sox history, and one of the most productive players in Major League Baseball history, Ted Williams holds career marks of a .344 batting average, 2,654 hits, and a MLB-record .482 on-base percentage.
The outfielder won two MVP Awards, the first of which earned the first year he returned from World War II, the second in 1949, hitting 43 HRs and collecting 159 RBI. Williams could also hit for power, slugging 521 home runs and 525 doubles.
2. Lou Gehrig
Known as "The Iron Horse," Lou Gehrig held the record for consecutive games played until 1995 when Cal Ripken Jr. passed the mark.
Gehrig recorded 2,721 hits in 17 seasons from 1923-39, all with the New York Yankees. He won the MVP twice, and his .340 career batting average ranks twelfth in MLB history.
The sure-handed first baseman was also an outstanding fielder, but played in an era before the Rawlings Gold Glove Award existed.
1. Babe Ruth
Although he stopped playing professional baseball 75 years ago, George Herman "Babe" Ruth is still the best player who ever lived.
Ruth began his career as a successful pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, but eventually moved to the outfield when sold to the Yankees organization in the infamous move that set off the Curse of the Bambino.
Babe Ruth tallied 714 home runs, drove in 2,213 RBI, and carried a .342 batting average. He posthumously holds the records for slugging percentage (.690) and OPS (1.164).
He won one MVP Award, coming in the 1923 season. Ruth had 2,873 career hits.