MLB's 10 Best First Basemen of All Time
10. Johnny Mize (1940s)
One of those seemingly forgotten Hall of Famers. Historians haven't forgotten him, but many of the casual fans have. His .562 SLG percentage still ranks in the top 20 all time. He is also in the top 20 all time in RBI per AB.
Mize was a dominant player who led the league in eight of the 10 "major" categories during his career; at one time or another he led the league in BA, SLG%, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI and FA.
The only two he never led the league in were OB% and SB. He still had a great .397 OB% for his career. In fact, he had over a .400 OB% in each of his first six seasons. He could hit, too. He had a .312 career BA; had over a .300 BA in each of his first nine seasons; over .310 in his first six and over .325 in his first four.
Arguments of some who didn't make my list in alphabetical order: Dick Allen (1970s), Cap Anson (1880s), Roger Connor (1880s), Carlos Delgado (2000s), Jason Giambi (2000s), Stan Musial (1950s), David Ortiz (2000s), Harry Stovey (1880s), Frank Thomas (1990s), and Jim Thome (1990s)
9. Frank Chance (1900s)
Frank Chance was injured for much of his career. He played 17 seasons of MLB, but really only played seven or eight full seasons. He was as good as any player when he was healthy. He was a great all around player, but his base running is the one thing that stands out above the rest.
He ranks in the top 10 all time in SB per AB. He had over 25 SB in nine consecutive seasons. A couple of those seasons he had less than 250 at bats, still had over 25 SB. His .296 BA is a lot better than it appears because he played in the offensively low decade of the 1900s; also a very good defensive First Baseman.
8. Jeff Bagwell (1990s)
A fairly quiet superstar when he played, if that's possible. One of my favorite batting stances of all time, looked like he was sitting on a park bench. Without being seemingly dominant, he was extremely good at a lot of things: hitting, defense, eye. Many players of the 1990s helped take the attention away from the "power" that Bagwell possessed.
He had great power, but not stupid crazy power like Bonds, McGwire, and some select others. But he was quiety one of the more consistently powerful hitters of the 1990s and one of the few consistent power hitters that was not really suspected of steroid use. Bagwell had at least 20 HR in 12 consecutive seasons. He had over 110 RBI in six consecutive seasons. Extremely good defense, too.
7. Mark McGwire (1990s)
The only reason he is not in the Hall of Fame is because of his suspected use of steroids. There is very little question that he is the best first baseman in the history of MLB that is not in the Hall of Fame, and there is very little question he belongs on this list. If he was one of the best first basemen ever is NOT the question. The only real question is if he didn't naturally or not. That is the true question.
He is first all time in HR per AB. That alone should put you in the Hall of Fame. He's also in the top 10 all time in SLG% and RBI per AB. That puts you in for sure. Again, the only real question: Did he do it naturally or not?
Well, looks like the Hall of Fame voters are answering that question. Interesting, they would have put him in the Hall of Fame while he still played following the 1998 season if they could have. He want from Superman to the Villain in 10 years, huh?
6. Todd Helton (2000s)
Todd Helton might be a quieter superstar than Jeff Bagwell was. He is in mid-late career right now and is still recovering from injuries he has suffered in the last couple of years.
He might be the best pure hitter in the game right now, with arguments from Pujols and Ichiro, maybe. He has a .328 BA for his career. Helton had over a .300 BA in 10 consecutive seasons, every season thus far during his career except for his 1st and last season.
He is among the top five all time in 2B per AB, was first all time before his injury last season. His .574 SLG% is in the top 15 all time, he hits some HR to go along with all those 2B he hits. His .428 OB% ranks in the top 10 all time.
Not only a great hitter that Pitchers tend to fear, but a great eye. He's also a smart base runner, and he might be the best defensive first baseman in the league.
5. Albert Pujols (2000s)
If you don't think you're watching greatness when you see Pujols play, then it's your own dern fault. He's among the best pure hitters in the game right now. He has a .334 BA thus far for his career. Has had over a .310 BA in all eight seasons. Has over 30 HR in all eight seasons (without hardly ever striking out).
Has over 100 RBI in all eight seasons. His .624 SLG% is fourth all time and his .425 OB% is in the top 15 all time. Oh, and he's one of the great/elite defensive first basemen in the league.
4. Dan Brouthers (1890s)
Every now and then, you run across a player that seemed to be playing a different game than everybody else; that was Brouthers. I mean, Billy Hamilton at center field in the 1890s might have been as good, but Brouthers played the game a different way, with a mix of smart base running and powerful hitting.
During his career, he led the league in BA, OB%, SLG%, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, and FA. Everything but SB. The only player that ever led the league in all 10 categories was Ty Cobb.
The argument could be easily and obviously made that Brouthers was a very well rounded player by leading the league in nine of the 10 "major" categories. Led the league 28 times in those nine categories, that's in the top 10 all time in league leading totals.
His 205 career 3B still rank in the top 10 all time and he is in the top five all time in 3B per AB. He was a big awesome looking guy, but he could run. He's also in the top 10 all time in 2B per AB and R per AB. Basically, he liked to hit for extra bases and he like to score R.
His .342 BA still ranks in the top 10 all time. He had at least a .300 BA in 16 consecutive seasons. His .423 OB% still ranks in the top 20 all time. You start making top 10 or top 20 lists and you'll find that Brouthers is all over them.
By far the best pre-1900s first baseman in history, with maybe some arguments from Harry Stovey, Cap Anson and Roger Connor.
3. Hank Greenberg (1930s)
Hank Greenberg ranks in the top five all time in RBI per AB. His 183 RBI during the 1937 season still rank third on the all-time single season list. He's also in the top 10 all time in 2B per AB. His 63 2B during the 1934 season still rank fourth on the all time single-season list.
His .605 SLG% is in the top 10 all time. His SLG% was so high because he hit a lot of HR to go along with his 2B.
Hank Greenberg is the only player in the history of MLB that is in the top 10 all time in SLG%, RBI per AB and 2B per AB.
His .312 career BA is great and he had over a .300 BA in eight consecutive seasons. He had a .412 OB% for his career and he had over a .400 OB% in nine consecutive seasons. One of the best and most feared hitters in history.
2. Jimmie Foxx (1930s)
Jimmie Foxx ranks in the top five all time in RBI per AB. He had at least 105 RBI in 13 consecutive seasons. He had over 1,400 RBI in the 1930s alone, more than any other player. His 175 RBI during the 1938 season still rank fourth on the all-time single season list.
His .609 SLG% ranks in the top 10 all time and he is in the top 20 all time in HR per AB. He had at least 30 HR in 12 consecutive seasons. He had 415 HR in the 1930s alone, more than any other player.
He was a great hitter, feared, with a good eye. He had a .325 career BA and his .428 career OB% ranks in the top 15 all time. He is also in the top 20 all time in R per AB, scoring over 105 R in nine consecutive seasons. Cherry on top, extremely good defensive first baseman.
1. Lou Gehrig (1930s)
I'll try to be as short as I can with Gehrig. Truth is, not many argue against Gehrig, even with his terrible defense and you're not going to hear one from me. It's possible that he was the best offensive player in the history of MLB, other than maybe Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
I'll just start going through some of his accomplishments. I'll have some broken sentences to shorten it up. Second all time in RBI per AB. Over 110 RBI in 13 consecutive seasons. 184 in 1931 is second all time and 175 in 1927 is fourth all time. His career 1,995 RBI is third all time.
His career .632 SLG% is in the top five all time. .447 career OB% is fifth all time. Had at least a .410 OB% in 13 consecutive seasons. In top 10 all time in R per AB. Scored at least 115 R in 13 consecutive seasons. Scored 167 R in 1936, fourth all time. His .340 career BA is 15th all time. Had at least a .300 BA in 12 consecutive seasons.
You have to stop somewhere with Gehrig, it just goes on and on. Truly one of the great/elite players that have ever stepped on the field.
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