This is a TALL order. Deciding on who is the best player of all time for each MLB team is like trying to decide who the best soldier was in each of America's wars. There's absolutely no way to get everyone to agree. I'm just hoping my choices will be made as objectively as possible.
Not only am I ranking the best for each team, but I am also charged with ranking each of those players against one another. It's sort of like a ranking within a ranking. The rankings will include players from present day all the way back to the early days of each franchise.
I'm going to throw a little spoiler in here right now. Cy Young did not make the cut. You're probably thinking that I'm some sort of nimrod, which I may very well be. My explanation is simple: Cy Young never stayed with one team long enough to be that team's all-time greatest player. Go figure.
This was a real pain to figure out. As we all know, the Marlins don't keep most of their players around for very long unless you're Jeff Conine or Luis Castillo. Go figure.
The Marlins entered the NL East before the 1993 season, and since that time they have won two World Series titles. They have also been tremendous developers of young talent. Unfortunately, the ownership has decided to trade away that young talent before the team actually has to pay them good money.
That's what has made this process so difficult. I narrowed the list down to Luis Castillo, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla. After careful consideration, it came down to Castillo and Ramirez.
It would have been easy to pick Castillo as he played in Miami the longest and had some pretty good years. In the end Ramirez won out for what he has accomplished in only five years.
He was the NL ROY in 2006, is a three-time All-Star and has won two Silver Sluggers. He led the NL in hitting in 2009 with .342 BA as well. Ramirez' career BA is .313, tied for best in club history, and is third all time with a .385 OBP.
If he gets to play just a few more years in Florida, this would be an obvious choice.
With the Rockies being one of the newer franchises in MLB, there really weren't many players to choose from. Colorado was awarded an expansion franchise that began play in the NL West in 1993, and Todd Helton began his career with the Rockies just a few years later in 1997.
During his time with the Rockies, Helton has posted this stat line: .324, 2236 H, 1270 R, 527 2B, 333 HR, 1229 RBI, .426 OBP and .555 SLG.
On top of that, Helton is a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Helton has suffered from back problems for some time, which has sapped much of his power. His career is winding down, but he is easily the best player in the short history of the Colorado Rockies.
Carlos Delgado was an easy choice as the best Toronto Blue Jay of all time. Three other players received a cursory glance (Dave Stieb, Tony Fernandez and Roy Halladay). If Halladay had played in Toronto for just a few more seasons, he most likely would have been my choice.
Here's the rundown on how Delgado stacks up to all the other players in Blue Jays' franchise history.
He's first in R, 2B, HR, RBI and SLG. He's second in OBP, third in H and ninth in BA. No other player even comes close to that.
This gentleman just recently became an obscenely rich man. He truly deserves it after playing in Tampa for nine seasons. Most of the time the Rays pretty much sucked. Recently they have had quite a bit of success. A huge part of any of the success the Rays have had can be traced back to Carl Crawford.
This was an extremely easy choice to make for me. Not only does Crawford lead the franchise in R, H, 2B, 3B, RBI, SB and BA, but he is surprisingly third in HR.
Crawford is also a four-time All-Star as well as garnering both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Additionally he has led the AL in 3B and SB four times each.
With a team like the Houston Astros, I was expecting there to be more competition for the top spot in the franchise's history. It came down to two players that played together for the majority of their careers: Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.
It was a tough choice and Biggio led more of the overall offensive categories than Bagwell. Those higher numbers are skewed as Biggio played in 700 more games than Bagwell.
In the end a part of my decision was based on the "fear factor." I don't think anyone really feared Biggio at any point while Bagwell had a role in many pitchers' nightmares.
Bagwell's career line looks like this: 1517 R, 2314 H, 488 2B, 449 HR, 1529 RBI, 202 SB, .297 BA, .408 OBP, .540 SLG and .948 OPS.
Bagwell was also the NL ROY in 1991 and won the NL MVP in 1994.
Sounds good enough for me.
The Montreal Expos, prior to becoming the Washington Nationals, have had some studs suit up in the red, white and blue. As a result, this was a little more difficult than I thought it might be. Tim Raines, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson all had solid careers with Montreal. I narrowed my choice down to two and chose Vladimir Guerrero while Raines ended up the odd man out.
Guerrero only played eight seasons north of the border, but those were spectacular seasons. That's why I chose "Vladdy". He dominated NL pitchers. Just seeing Vlad standing in the batter's box probably made a few pitchers pee themselves.
Guerrero played in over 400 less games than the other players I mentioned, so his franchise numbers aren't hugely impressive.
He's first in BA, SLG and HR, third in OBP, fourth in RBI, fifth in R and sixth in H and 2B. He was a four-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger on three occasions.
This was another easy one. Some great players have worn a Brewers uniform including Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Don Sutton, Ted Simmons and Hank Aaron. Most of their stays in Milwaukee were short, but Robin Yount stuck around and kept hitting for 20 years.
Robin Yount is the leader in nearly every offensive statistical category in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history.
He is first in R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI and second in SB.
Yount won two AL MVP awards in 1982 and 1989. The unique thing about that is he won them at two different positions, SS and CF.
If Ryan Braun stays in Milwaukee another 10 years, I might have to change my pick.
I looked at Pudge and two other players for this spot for the Rangers. It wasn't as difficult a choice as you may have thought. Those other two players were Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. I may have a slight bias against the two of them, but Rodriguez is one of the best catchers of all time in MLB.
While his overall franchise numbers don't jump out and slap you in the face, they are still very good. With Pudge being a catcher, those numbers become all that more impressive. In franchise history he is fourth in R and HR, third in RBI, seventh in BA and first in 2B.
Rodriguez was a 10-time All-Star as a Ranger and won 10 Gold Gloves as well. Additionally he was named a Silver Slugger six times. Sickly enough he also caught would-be base stealers 53.2 percent of the time. Single-handedly slowing or even shutting down the other team's running game can't even really be measured.
Okay, pop quiz! What was the original name of the Baltimore Orioles franchise? Hint: It started in 1901. Any guesses? Anyone? In 1901 they were known as the Milwaukee Brewers. That is absolutely 100 percent no joke. If anything, you can say you learned something by reading this even if you think I'm a total schmuck.
So the franchise's next stop was St. Louis as the Browns, and then they moved to Baltimore for the 1954 season to become the Orioles. Some great players for the Browns/Orioles include George Sisler, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr.
On top of Ripken's gaudy consecutive games played streak of 2,632, there are his AL ROY in 1982 and two AL MVP awards in 1983 and 1991. He was a 19-time All-Star, earned eight Silver Sluggers and received two Gold Gloves.
Ripken redefined what a shortstop is supposed to look and play like by finishing his career with these numbers: 1,647 R, 3,184 H, 603 2B, 431 HR and 1,695 RBI.
As old as the Reds franchise is, I was expecting more worthy players to choose from. I looked at Rose, Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson and Barry Larkin. It quickly became obvious who my choice should be. No matter what you may feel about him personally, Pete Rose is the best player in the history of the Cincinnati Reds.
He didn't get all of his 4,191 hits with the Reds, but he did get 3,358 of them. His other numbers with the Reds look like this: 1,741 R, 601 2B, 115 3B, 152 HR, 1,032 RBI, .379 OBP and .307 BA.
On top of those numbers, Rose was the NL ROY in 1963 and the NL MVP in 1973. He was an All-Star 13 times and earned two Gold Gloves.
No matter how you slice it, Pete Rose is Mr. Cincinnati Red.
This selection was a breeze. George Brett is the Royals franchise. No one else even comes close.
Most people remember him for nearly having an aneurysm when he was called out in Yankee Stadium because of his liberal use of pine tar on his bat. It's unfortunate for those who only have seen him in that video clip.
Brett was a hitter pure and simple. He led the AL in hitting three times, including his flirtation with .400 in 1980 when he could only muster .390.
Brett's career in Kansas City shakes out like this: 1,583 R, 3,154 H, 665 2B, 137 3B, 317 HR, 1,595 RBI, .305 BA.
Let's add 13 All-Star appearances and an AL MVP in 1980 for good measure.
The "Kid", as he has been called, started off his career with the Mariners with a bang. He was well on his way to becoming the greatest home run hitter of all time. Unfortunately, as his career moved forward, injuries struck and derailed any of those grandiose notions.
That being said, his time in Seattle was nothing short of spectacular. Believe it or not, I did take a peek at Ichiro's numbers and an argument could be made for him to occupy the top spot in Seattle. In the end Griffey's sheer dominance of the 1990's put him over the top: 1,113 R, 1,843 H, 341 2B, 417 HR, 1,216 RBI, .374 OBP, .553 SLG and .292 BA.
Griffey was an AL All-Star 10 times, earned 10 Gold Gloves and was the AL MVP in 1997.
While "Lefty" was well known for his prickly nature with the media, hitters saw a similar nature from him on the mound. I considered both Mike Schmidt and Grover Cleveland Alexander for the spot of the Phillies' best, but I couldn't deny the awesome career of one of the top left-handed pitchers of all time.
As a Phillie, Carlton had a 241-161 record with a 3.09 ERA. He pitched 185 CG and shut out his opponent 39 times. He also struck out a whopping 3,031 hitters with a 1.211 WHIP.
On seven occasions he represented Philadelphia in the All-Star game. His dominance manifested itself in Cy Young awards in 1972, 1977, 1980 and 1982.
Hopefully all of that just reinforces my choice of Steve Carlton as the best Phillie of all time.
Patriot is the first word that comes to mind when I think about "Rapid Robert" Feller. In the prime of his career and at age 23, Feller enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 8, 1941. He lost three years of his career to fight for our country. Even without those three years, he was the greatest player ever to put on an Indians uniform.
I considered Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie and Addie Joss as well. Feller stood out above them all.
In his shortened career, Feller put up some gaudy numbers: 266-162, 3.25 ERA, 279 CG, 44 SHO, 2,581 K.
Feller was also an eight-time All-Star, threw three no-hitters and a record 12 one-hitters.
Just try to hit off him. I dare you.
Okay. Yes, I did it. I went retro, old-school or however you'd like to describe it. I have concluded that Ernie Banks is not truly Mr. Cub. Adrian "Cap" Anson should now be referred to with that moniker. I didn't know much about Cap Anson just a few days ago, but now I can confidently say he is the greatest Chicago Cubs' player of all time.
Are you skeptical? Well come along for the ride: 1,719 R, 2,995 H, 528 2B, 124 3B, 97 HR, 1,879 RBI, .329 BA.
The only two major statistical categories Ernie Banks tops Anson in are HR and SLG.
In 1884, Anson hit 21 HR which, for the time, was a huge number. He could certainly bring it back in the day. Come on now, give Cap some love.
The Athletics are a team of deep rich tradition going all the way back to 1901. I was able to come up with a list of five players to consider for the greatest Athletic of all time. I discarded Eddie Plank, Eddie Collins and Jimmie Foxx, which left me Al Simmons and Rickey Henderson.
Foxx and Henderson were two very different players, and it was a tough choice. In the end, I chose Al Simmons. I did NOT take into account the fact that he is from Milwaukee. That was just a bonus.
In only 1,290 games, Simmons put up this line: 969 R, 1827 H, 348 2B, 98 3B, 209 HR, 1,178 RBI, .391 OBP, .584 SLG, .356 BA, .976 OPS, 665 XBH.
I'd love to have Henderson leading off and Simmons hitting third behind him. Now THAT would have been fun to watch.
The Chicago White Sox have a long and sordid history dating all the way back to 1901 when they were originally called the White Stockings.
While searching for a White Sox great, I came across one I had never heard of, and I chose him as the greatest White Sox player of all time. "Big" Ed Walsh is my man. I carefully considered both Luke Appling and Frank Thomas as the other top candidates, but Walsh won out.
He pitched 13 years for the White Sox and just dominated the AL. His career line reads like this: 195-126, 1.81 ERA, 249 CG, 57 SHO, 1732 K, 1.00 WHIP.
If that wasn't enough, he finished second in MVP voting in both 1911 and 1912. His 1908 season is so amazingly ridiculous that I have to put the stats here for everyone to see: 40-15, 1.42 ERA, 66 G, 49 GS, 42 CG, 11 SHO, 6 SV, 464.0 IP, 269 K, 0.860 WHIP.
To top things off, Walsh is the all-time MLB leader in ERA at 1.82.
Given a longer period of health, Sandy Koufax could have been the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time. Unfortunately, he was limited to only 12 seasons in the big leagues. Those 12 seasons were spectacular, however.
Koufax pitched four no-hitters, including a perfect game. He was also the first pitcher to win three Cy Young awards (1963, 1965, 1966). He was also the NL MVP in 1963 and finished second in the voting for MVP in 1965 and 1966.
He finished his career with the following numbers: 165-87, 2.76 ERA, 137 CG, 40 SHO, 2,396 K, 1.106 WHIP.
I considered both Jackie Robinson and Zack Wheat, but I felt Koufax's domination of NL hitters and his being forced to retire in his prime at 30 years old gave him the edge. It's weird how things work sometimes.
Professional hitter. That's what Tony Gwynn was pure and simple. That's why my job here was easy. When you hear "San Diego Padres", you think of Tony Gwynn.
People have a tendency to forget that Gwynn also was a base stealer in his younger years and that he won four Gold Gloves in addition to his 15 All-Star nods.
Here is Gwynn's final line: 1,383 R, 3,141 H, 543 2B, 135 HR, 1,138 RBI, 319 SB, .338 BA, .388 OBP.
He led the league in hits seven times and batting average eight times. He hit over .350 seven times, including five seasons in a row from 1993-1997.
The only other Padre who deserved a glance was Trevor Hoffman, but in the end there was no comparison.
Nolan Ryan played for the California Angels for only eight seasons. He led the league in strikeouts seven of them. He threw two no-hitters in 1973 and one each in 1974 and 1975. In addition he was an All-Star five times.
That sort of domination looks like this stat-wise: 138-121, 3.07 ERA, 156 CG, 40 SHO, 2,416 K, 1.294 WHIP.
He played on some bad teams in California, and despite that won 19 or more games four times.
It's hard to believe that the all-time strikeout king and winner of 324 games never won a Cy Young award, but then again neither did Cy Young.
When a pitcher comes to a new team, as Randy Johnson did to Arizona, you're not supposed to be able to run off four consecutive Cy Young winning seasons. That's just what the "Big Unit" did from 1999-2002. The stupid thing about those four years was that Johnson was 35-38 years old during that time.
Here's a closer look at what those eight years of his in the Arizona desert looked like: 118-62, 2.83 ERA, 38 CG, 18 SHO, 2077 K, 416 BB, 1.068 WHIP.
Johnson also led the league in strikeouts in five of his eight seasons with the D-backs. In 2004, he became the oldest pitcher in MLB history to pitch a perfect game.
In 2001, Johnson and Curt Schilling were co-MVP's in helping Arizona win its first World Series crown.
He accomplished more in eight seasons with the Diamondbacks than most players accomplish in a 15-year career.
For a minute I thought to myself, "Were there any really good Mets?" For some reason I couldn't remember Tom Seaver and could only remember Dwight Gooden. Thank God for research. Hands down, Seaver is the greatest New York Met of all time.
Seaver, also known as "Tom Terrific", started out his career with the Mets with a bang. In 1967 he not only was named NL ROY, but he was also an All-Star. Things just got better from there. He won Cy Young awards in 1969, 1973 and 1975. He led the NL in strikeouts for five years and ERA three times.
Let's break it all down: 198-124, 2.57 ERA, 171 CG, 44 SHO, 2,541 K, 1.076 WHIP.
I almost forgot that Seaver pitched five one-hitters as a Met, but didn't get his first no-no until he was traded to Cincinnati.
The Cardinals have a rich tradition. What I'm sure they have tried to forget is that for one season, in 1899, the team was known as the Perfectos. Tony LaRussa would have been ideally suited to manage that club since he believes himself to be "perfecto" and smarter than everyone else.
As I was saying, the Cardinals have a rich tradition consisting of players like Dizzy Dean, Rogers Hornsby, Ducky Medwick, Lou Brock, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Bob Gibson and now Albert Pujols. In the end Stan Musial stands out above all the rest, edging out Bob Gibson.
Musial played 23 seasons in St. Louis and ended up with 1,949 R, 3,630 H, 725 2B, 177 3B, 475 HR, 1951 RBI, .331 BA, .417 OBP, .559 SLG and a .976 OPS.
Musial was voted into 20 All-Star games, and won NL MVP awards in 1943, 1946 and 1948. He finished second in MVP voting an additional four times. Musial also won the NL batting title seven times.
Stan was more than just "The Man". He was a stud.
While this wasn't a difficult choice to make, I was surprised that I considered another candidate. That guy's name is Sam Rice. He's one of those old players I wasn't familiar with. He was a darn good player in his own right, but "The Big Train" ran him right over.
Johnson played 21 seasons for the Senators, which was actually quite rare back in those days. Most players moved around from team to team with very few spending their careers with only one. Johnson stayed and became one of the greatest pitchers of all time: 417-279, 2.17 ERA, 531 CG, 110 SHO, 3,509 K, 1.061 WHIP.
Those 110 shutouts are a MLB record. His 417 wins are second all time only to Cy Young. Johnson led the league in strikeouts 12 times, wins six times, complete games six times and ERA five times.
Johnson was also the AL MVP in 1913 and 1924 and won 20 or more games 12 times.
The Giants were a tough team to figure out. I narrowed my choices down to three: Christy Mathewson, Mel Ott and Willie Mays. Interestingly enough, Ott and Mays have very similar career numbers. The closer I looked at Mathewson, the more I knew he was the right choice.
Mathewson was a dominant pitcher of the early days of MLB along with Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Mathewson pitched only 17 seasons compared to Johnson's 21 and Young's 22. Regardless, his numbers stack up very well: 372-188, 2.12 ERA, 433 CG, 79 SHO, 2,499 K, 1.057 WHIP.
Mathewson's 79 SHO rank third all time. He also won 20 or more games 13 times and led the league in strikeouts and ERA five times.
Christy Mathewson is the giant of all Giants.
Ty Cobb lived each day in a foul mood, or at least that's what everyone who knew him said. That mood served him well on the baseball diamond, becoming one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Despite the age of the Tigers' franchise, there were relatively slim pickings as far as greatness goes. It's not like it really mattered, because barring an act of God, Cobb would have been my choice.
He played 22 of his 24 seasons in Detroit and put up some amazing numbers: 2,088 R, 3,900 H, 665 2B, 284 3B, 111 HR, 1,805 RBI, 869 SB, .434 OBP, .517 SLG, .368 BA, .950 OPS.
Cobb is MLB's all-time leader in batting average, second all-time in hits and third in steals.
He won 12 batting titles and hit over .400 three times.
No wonder they didn't want him to play in the cornfield in Iowa.
Three Pirates deserved consideration for this honor: Paul Waner, Roberto Clemente and Honus Wagner. You could probably make a solid case for all three. In the end, I went with the Flying Dutchman. He's probably best known these days for his extremely rare tobacco baseball card, but he is so much more than that.
His first three seasons were spent with the Louisville Colonels, while his final 18 were spent in Pittsburgh. An interesting stat is that both Wagner and Clemente played the exact same number of games for the Pirates, 2,433. Wagner's career totals look like this: 1,521 R, 2,967 H, 551 2B, 232 3B, 82 HR, 1,475 RBI, 639 SB, .394 OBP, .328 BA.
In comparison, Clemente had 33 more hits and 158 HR. Those are the only stats that Clemente trumps Wagner with. Wagner also led the league in 2B seven times, RBI five times and batting average eight times. He also hit over .350 five times.
Wagner even edges out Captain Jack Sparrow as the greatest Pirate of all time.
Henry Aaron was a Brave through and through. It didn't matter if he was in Milwaukee or Atlanta. While Warren Spahn was the greatest pitcher in Braves franchise history, Aaron is the greatest Brave of all time.
Most people know Aaron for one thing, and that is the HR record that was broken a few years back with an asterisk. Hammerin' Hank was much more than that. He won three Gold Gloves early in his career in Milwaukee and won the NL MVP in 1957 the year he led the Braves to a World Series victory over the New York Yankees. The only seasons in which he was not named on an MVP ballot were his first and final three.
Aaron's stats are quite impressive, and consider he never hit more than 47 HR in a season: 2,107 R, 3,600 H, 600 2B, 733 HR, 2,202 RBI, 240 SB, .310 BA, .377 OBP, .567 SLG, .944 OPS.
With the Braves, Aaron was an NL All-Star in 20 out of 21 seasons. He is the only player in MLB history to hit 30 or more HR in a season at least 15 times. Aaron holds the MLB record for RBI, total bases and XBH. He is also third in career hits and fourth in runs scored.
The Boston Red Sox have had some amazing players come through Beantown. The list of players include Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Smokey Joe Wood and Jimmie Foxx to name a few. One name stands out above all others. That name is Ted Williams.
"Teddy Ballgame" is most simply one of the greatest hitters of all time: 1,798 R, 2,654 H, 525 2B, 521 HR, 1,839 RBI, .344 BA, .482 OBP, .634 SLG, 1.116 OPS.
His .482 OBP stands today as the MLB record. He was an All-Star 17 times and named AL MVP in both 1946 and 1949. Williams led the league in runs scored six times, walks eight times and hitting six times. He also hit over .400 three times and is the last MLB player to do so.
Like other players before and after him, his career was interrupted by military service. Instead of just biding his time in the service, Williams chose to become a pilot. The Splendid Splinter never did anything halfway. That's why he is one of the greatest players of all time.
Before I even looked at the Yankees players, I assumed Babe Ruth would be my easy choice. I had forgotten just how good Lou Gehrig was. Gehrig made Babe Ruth a better player by protecting him in the linup, but he's only a hair behind the Iron Horse.
After coming to the Yankees from the Boston Red Sox, Ruth dominated MLB. Not only was he a great power hitter, but he was a great hitter in general. Interestingly enough, he only led the AL in hitting once in 1924 despite a .349 career batting mark as a Yankee.
His dominant stat line: 1,959 R, 2,518 H, 424 2B, 106 3B, 659 HR, 1,971 RBI, .349 BA, .484 OBP, .711 SLG, 1.195 OPS.
Ruth won only one MVP award in 1923, but he led the AL in home runs 12 times and OPS a whopping 13 times.
He holds the MLB records for slugging and OPS.
Did I forget to mention he was a seven-time World Series Champion?
Babe Ruth is quite simply the best (cue Tina Turner).