MLB: Who's The Best All-Time at Each Position?

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IFebruary 14, 2008

America’s pastime is littered with superstars and heroes from every decade. I wanted to see what it would be like to stack up the best of the best against one another at each position and create an All-Time All-Star team. Comparing players of different eras was challenging to say the least.

I feel confident I was able to develop a roster that accounts for the best overall player at each position. I have also listed a second team at each position, or runner-up if you will, to account for those players who just missed cracking the starting lineup. I added a designated hitter position just for fun.

It was hard to leave off baseball legends like Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Christy Mathewson, etc., but the line had to be drawn somewhere. It would take days to explain why I ranked one player over another or why I left one off the list completely. I have my own opinions. I encourage you to review the list and look forward to reading yours.

Catcher: Josh Gibson

The so-called “black Babe Ruth” accumulated a lifetime average of .359 according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame plaque also states he hit “almost 800” home runs in his 17 year career. The Negro Leagues did not compile complete statistics or game summaries so know one knows his exact career numbers.

Second Team: Johnny Bench

First Base: Lou Gehrig

Gehrig had a lifetime batting average of .340, won two MVP’s, and had 13 straight seasons with 100+ RBI including an American League record 184 in 1931. He was also a seven-time All-Star, won the Triple Crown in 1934, and held the record for most consecutive games played (2,130) for 56 years.

Second Team: Jimmie Foxx

Second Base: Rogers Hornsby

Hornsby has the highest career batting average for a right handed hitter at .358 career, won two MVPs, two Triple Crowns, seven batting titles, and was the first National League player ever to hit 40 HRs in a season in 1922.

Second Team: Eddie Collins

Shortstop: Honus Wagner

Wagner was a part of the first Hall of Fame class in 1936, getting the second most votes behind Ty Cobb and ahead of Babe Ruth. He was a .327 career hitter, won eight batting titles, had 3,415 career hits, and also led the league in stolen bases four times. Wagner was also a great fielder, but gold gloves were not given out when he played.

Second Team: Cal Ripken Jr.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez  

Rodriguez has already accumulated 518 HRs and was the quickest to 500 HRs in the history of baseball. He also sports a .306 career average, has won three MVP trophies and a batting title, and has appeared in 10 All-Star games. At the ripe age of 32 he is in the middle of his prime and his numbers will continue to accumulate at a rapid pace. 

Second Team: Mike Schmidt

Outfield: Babe Ruth

Ruth is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game of baseball. He had a .342 career average; 714 career HRs; was the first player to hit 30, 40, 50 and 60 HRs in a season; had 13 seasons with 100+ RBI; 12 seasons with 100+ runs scored; and had a lifetime 2.28 ERA as a pitcher.

Second Team: Ty Cobb

Outfield: Willie Mays

Mays is arguably the best all-around player in the history of baseball. He is the prototype of a five-tool player. He was the first player to accumulate 3,000 hits and 500 HRs in his career. He also hit 660 career HRs, won two MVPs, appeared in 24 All-Star games, was an 11-time Gold Glove winner, had 100+ RBI 10 times, scored 100+ runs 12 times, and has a .302 lifetime batting average.  

Second Team: Barry Bonds

Outfield: Ted Williams

Arguably the greatest “pure” hitter who ever lived, Williams accumulated a .344 career average, 521 HRs, won two MVP’s, and was a two-time Triple Crown winner. He was also the last player to hit .400 (.406 in 1941), was a 17-time All-Star, scored 100+ runs nine times, and had 100+ RBI nine times. 

SecondTeam: Hank Aaron

Designated Hitter: Joe DiMaggio

DiMaggio is a three-time MVP, had a .325 career average, and 361 career HRs. Writer Bill James calculated he lost more HRs due to his home park than any player in history. (Left center was 457 feet at Yankee Stadium.) DiMaggio also had nine seasons with 100+ RBI, struck out only 369 times in 6,821 career at-bats, is a nine-time World Series Champion, lost three years in his prime to the military, and was voted “Greatest Living Player” in a 1969 poll. His record of 56 consecutive games with a hit is arguably the greatest record in all of sports.

Second Team: Mickey Mantle

Right Handed Pitcher: Cy Young

Young is the namesake of the Cy Young Award, an award given to the best pitcher in each league on a yearly basis. He ended his career with 511 wins, 7,354 2/3 innings pitched, started 815 games, and had 749 complete games, which all rank first all-time. 

Second Team: Walter Johnson

Left Handed Pitcher: Lefty Grove

Grove finished his career with a record of 300-141. He also has a 3.06 career ERA, 2,266 career strikeouts, two pitching Triple Crowns, one MVP, eight 20-win seasons, one 30-win season, and was a nine-time AL ERA champion.   

Second Team: Sandy Koufax

Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera

Rivera has accumulated 443 career saves, a 2.35 career ERA, won a World Series MVP, is the all-time postseason leader in saves and ERA, and is a four-time World Series Champion with the New York Yankees.

Second Team: Dennis Eckersley

Manager: Joe McCarthy

McCarthy won seven World Series titles as the Yankees skipper and has the highest career winning percentage for a manager at .615.

Second Team: John McGraw


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