Ranking Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and MLB's Top 25 Outfielders of the 1990s

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2020

Ranking Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and MLB's Top 25 Outfielders of the 1990s

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    Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

    Who's ready for some nostalgia? Over the past few weeks, we've been taking position-by-position looks at the best MLB players of the 1990s.

    Up next, the outfielders.

    Who will claim the No. 1 spot—Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds? Who will be the biggest snub from the list of 25? Those are among the questions we set out to answer.

    A player's peak performance, his statistical body of work during the 1990s and his postseason production were all taken into account.

    While no single stat was the be-all and end-all in this conversation, OPS+ and WAR/500 are two important ones to know.

    OPS+ is a hitter's on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, adjusted to take into account the ballparks in which he hit. An OPS+ of 100 is league-average, while each number above 100 represents one percentage point better than the league average.

    WAR/500 is my creation. It's a hitter's WAR total divided by his plate appearances and then multiplied by 500, thus giving us his WAR per 500 plate appearances. The idea is to make it easier to contextualize WAR totals across different sample sizes.

    Let's kick things off with some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

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    Jim Edmonds
    Jim EdmondsRonald C. Modra/Getty Images

    These players represented the "next 10" and received serious consideration for the final list but came up short:

    • Moises Alou
    • Ellis Burks
    • Brett Butler
    • Jose Canseco
    • Steve Finley
    • Luis Gonzalez
    • Rusty Greer
    • Lance Johnson
    • Brian Jordan
    • B.J. Surhoff

    Since we're dealing with so many players this time around, a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances was set for inclusion in the top 25. These players did not reach that mark and were excluded as a result:

    • Bobby Abreu
    • Lenny Dykstra
    • Jim Edmonds
    • Brian Giles
    • Vladimir Guerrero
    • Andruw Jones
    • Ryan Klesko
    • Shane Mack
    • Magglio Ordonez
    • Andy Van Slyke

25. Jay Buhner

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,896 PA, .256/.363/.498 (126 OPS+), 260 HR, 806 RBI, 16.8 WAR

    Postseason: 67 PA, .350/.418/.700, 6 HR, 10 RBI

    WAR/500: 1.7

    With a rocket arm and powerful bat, Jay Buhner fit the prototypical right fielder mold to a T.

    He was a steady producer throughout the decade after coming over from the New York Yankees in a lopsided July 1988 trade that Seinfeld made famous.

    Playing alongside Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, he developed into one of the most prolific power hitters of the decade, turning in three huge seasons during the decade:

    • 1995: 131 OPS+, 40 HR, 121 RBI
    • 1996: 131 OPS+, 44 HR, 138 RBI
    • 1997: 132 OPS+, 40 HR, 109 RBI

    His 307 home runs in a Seattle Mariners uniform are good for third in franchise history behind Griffey's 417 and Martinez's 309.

24. Marquis Grissom

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    Stats: 6,022 PA, .277/.326/.411 (95 OPS+), 130 HR, 599 RBI, 381 SB, 28.3 WAR

    Postseason: 215 PA, .328/.363/.466, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 12 SB, 1995 WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.3

    Marquis Grissom was one of the premier leadoff hitters and center fielders of the 1990s.

    He finished seventh in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1990, led the majors in steals in 1991 (76) and 1992 (78) and was an All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner in 1993 and 1994.

    The Montreal Expos traded him to the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1995 season, and he added two more Gold Glove Awards while setting the table for one of the best lineups in baseball.

    After a memorable two-year run with the Braves, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with David Justice for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree, spending one year in Ohio before closing the decade with the Milwaukee Brewers.

23. Raul Mondesi

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    George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,765 PA, .288/.334/.504 (122 OPS+), 163 HR, 518 RBI, 140 SB, 21.6 WAR

    Postseason: 21 PA, .200/.238/.300, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB

    WAR/500: 2.9

    Raul Mondesi was the third of five straight Los Angeles Dodgers players to win NL Rookie of the Year honors, taking home the hardware in 1994.

    In the five seasons following his rookie campaign, he averaged 29 home runs and 25 steals as one of the best power-speed threats in baseball.

    In 1997, he became the first player in Dodgers history to record a 30-30 season in 1997 (30 HR, 32 SB), and he accomplished that feat again in 1999 (33 HR, 36 SB). The only other player in franchise history in the 30-30 club is Matt Kemp (2011).

    On top of his offensive production, Mondesi was also a two-time Gold Glove Award winner in right field and used a rocket arm to tally 69 outfield assists.

22. Greg Vaughn

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,492 PA, .245/.337/.480 (116 OPS+), 287 HR, 859 RBI, 25.2 WAR

    Postseason: 44 PA, .220/.250/.463, 3 HR, 5 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.3

    Greg Vaughn is probably best remembered as the guy who finished third to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the legendary 1998 NL home run race, slugging 50 home runs for the World Series-bound San Diego Padres.

    That season was by no means an outlier.

    He also had a 30-homer year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1993 when he made his first All-Star Game appearance, a 41-homer season in 1996 when he was traded to the Padres at midseason and a 45-homer encore performance with the Cincinnati Reds to close the decade.

    His 287 home runs marked the 13th-highest total during the decade, ahead of Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell's 263, Larry Walker's 262 and Mike Piazza's 240.

21. Brady Anderson

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,836 PA, .267/.373/.455 (118 OPS+), 177 HR, 624 RBI, 257 SB, 33.1 WAR

    Postseason: 92 PA, .300/.380/.575, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB

    WAR/500: 2.8

    Brady Anderson will forever be remembered for his 50-homer season in 1996.

    The 32-year-old had never hit more than 21 home runs before that power surge and never again went deep more than 24 times in a season.

    That said, he was by no means a one-year wonder.

    A three-time All-Star and one of the best leadoff hitters of the 1990s, he was one of just 47 players to record at least 3,000 plate appearances and finish the decade with an on-base percentage above .370.

    He had a career-high 6.9 WAR in '96 and at least 2.5 WAR seven times during the decade, including two other seasons with at least 5.0 WAR (1992, 5.2; 1999, 5.9).

    His '96 performance was an outlier, but it was far from his only productive season.

20. Devon White

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,554 PA, .265/.326/.424 (100 OPS+), 142 HR, 589 RBI, 223 SB, 32.8 WAR

    Postseason: 209 PA, .294/.364/.449, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 7 SB; 1992, 1993, 1997 WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.0

    One of the best defensive outfielders of his era, Devon White won two Gold Glove Awards during the 1980s and five more during the 1990s.

    He was the starting center fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays during their back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, and he was also a standout member of the Florida Marlins' title-winning team in 1997.

    During the three-year stretch from 1991 to 1993, he ranked fifth among all position players with 18.8 WAR, trailing only Barry Bonds (26.9), Ken Griffey Jr. (21.7), Frank Thomas (20.2) and Cal Ripken Jr. (19.3).

    After winning his third ring in '97, he was traded to the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, and he was the franchise's first All-Star when he made his third Midsummer Classic appearance in 1998.

    Most underrated outfielder of the 1990s?

19. Reggie Sanders

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    David Seelig/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,842 PA, .273/.356/.483 (121 OPS+), 151 HR, 503 RBI, 194 SB, 25.6 WAR

    Postseason: 32 PA, .138/.219/.276, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 SB

    WAR/500: 3.3

    Fun fact: Reggie Sanders is one of just eight players in MLB history with 300 home runs and 300 steals.

    He was also one of only 10 players during the 1990s with at least 150 home runs and 150 steals.

    In 1995, he hit .306/.397/.579 for a 155 OPS+ with 36 doubles, 28 home runs, 99 RBI, 91 runs and 36 steals in a 6.6-WAR season for the NL Central division champions. He made his lone All-Star Game appearance that year and finished sixth in NL MVP voting.

    He was traded to the San Diego Padres in a five-player deal that sent Greg Vaughn to Cincinnati prior to the 1999 season.

18. Ron Gant

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    George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,155 PA, .261/.345/.480 (117 OPS+), 236 HR, 762 RBI, 196 SB, 28.9 WAR

    Postseason: 199 PA, .230/.298/.399, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 13 SB

    WAR/500: 2.8

    Ron Gant burst onto the scene with a 19-homer, 19-steal, 2.1-WAR rookie season in 1988 and was on the cusp of superstardom during the early 1990s.

    In 1990, he hit .303/.357/.539 for a 139 OPS+ with 34 doubles, 32 home runs and 33 steals in a 5.6-WAR season. He followed that with a 32-homer, 34-steal performance in 1991, becoming just the third player in MLB history at the time with consecutive 30-30 seasons.

    He posted a 124 OPS+ while averaging 30 doubles, 29 home runs, 96 RBI, 99 runs, 31 steals and 4.4 WAR during the first four seasons of the decade before breaking his leg in a dirt bike accident and missing the 1994 season.

    The Braves released him, and he returned with a career-high 146 OPS+ for the Cincinnati Reds in 1995, tallying 29 home runs and 23 steals.

    That was the final season in which he stole 20 bases—he was never quite the same dynamic player following his injury—but he remained a productive power hitter in closing out the decade with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.

17. Paul O'Neill

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    Stats: 5,932 PA, .296/.376/.483 (127 OPS+), 204 HR, 923 RBI, 31.7 WAR

    Postseason: 234 PA, .276/.365/.468, 9 HR, 29 RBI; 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999 WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.7

    Paul O'Neill spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, including the first three years of the 1990s.

    He finished 19th in NL MVP voting during the team's World Series-winning season in 1990 and made his first All-Star appearance in 1991 when he posted a 127 OPS+ with 28 home runs and 91 RBI in a 4.9-WAR season.

    The New York Yankees acquired him for fellow outfielder Roberto Kelly prior to the 1993 season, and he became an integral part of the team's late-decade success.

    In seven seasons with the Yankees during the '90s, he hit .312/.390/.507 for a 133 OPS+ while averaging 35 doubles, 21 home runs and 98 RBI. He was a four-time All-Star during that stretch and won the American League batting title in 1994 when he hit .359 to finish fifth in AL MVP balloting.

    His 5.8 WAR in 1998 trailed only Derek Jeter's 7.5 on a roster that most consider to be the best team of the decade and one of the most dominant teams in MLB history.

16. Kirby Puckett

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    Stats: 3,738 PA, .312/.363/.485 (126 OPS+), 111 HR, 579 RBI, 22.3 WAR

    Postseason: 54 PA, .333/.396/.667, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1991 WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.0

    With his 12-year career evenly split between the 1980s and 1990s, Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett was a tough player to place in these rankings.

    He was an All-Star in each of his six seasons during the 1990s before the loss of vision in his right eye forced him to retire in 1996.

    While he was a productive player during the decade, evidenced by those trips to the Midsummer Classic and his .312 batting average, which ranked seventh among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, there is little question he was at his best during the '80s.

    Four of his six lowest single-season WAR totals came during the '90s, and four of his six Gold Glove Awards came prior to 1990.

    So while his reputation at the plate and Hall of Fame status might suggest he deserves to be higher in these rankings, the stats say otherwise.

15. Ray Lankford

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    George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,269 PA, .278/.367/.480 (126 OPS+), 181 HR, 703 RBI, 239 SB, 36.1 WAR

    Postseason: 18 PA, .067/.167/.067, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB

    WAR/500: 3.4

    Earlier, we questioned whether Devon White might be the most underrated outfielder of the 1990s. He has some stiff competition from Ray Lankford.

    Rarely mentioned among the standouts of the decade, Lankford posted four straight 20-20 seasons during a quietly impressive peak from 1995 to 1998.

    He was one of just 19 players to tally at least 20 WAR (20.3) during that four-year stretch.

    In 1998, he was tasked with protecting Mark McGwire during the latter's 70-homer season by batting cleanup in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup. He hit .293/.391/.540 for a 143 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 105 RBI while posting a career-high 6.2 WAR.

    His 36.1 WAR led those of all Cardinals position players and pitchers during the '90s.

14. David Justice

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    Stats: 5,030 PA, .284/.383/.506 (133 OPS+), 234 HR, 796 RBI, 33.3 WAR

    Postseason: 327 PA, .225/.346/.376, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 1995 WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.3

    David Justice hit .282/.373/.535 for a 143 OPS+ with 28 home runs and 78 RBI to win 1990 NL Rookie of the Year honors with 23 of 24 first-place votes.

    Over the first six full seasons of his career, he had a 133 OPS+ and averaged 26 homers and 82 RBI while making a pair of All-Star appearances and serving as a key run producer for a perennial postseason contender in the Atlanta Braves.

    He finished third in NL MVP voting in 1993 on the strength of a 40-homer, 120-RBI season and a career-high 5.1 WAR.

    A separated shoulder limited him to 40 games in 1996, and in March 1997 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with Marquis Grissom for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree.

    He hit .329/.418/.596 for a 158 OPS+ with 33 home runs and 101 RBI in his first season in the Junior Circuit to finish fifth in AL MVP voting, earning his third All-Star nod and second Silver Slugger Award.

13. Tim Salmon

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    Stats: 4,139 PA, .291/.393/.524 (136 OPS+), 196 HR, 660 RBI, 27.7 WAR

    Postseason: N/A

    WAR/500: 3.3

    Another outfielder who exploded onto the scene to win Rookie of the Year honors, Tim Salmon hit .283/.382/.536 for a 143 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 1993.

    He posted three more 30-homer seasons and two 100-RBI seasons over the final six years of the decade, putting together an elite .393 on-base percentage to rank 14th among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances.

    He had a 6.6-WAR season in 1995 when he hit .330/.429/.594 for a 165 OPS+ with 34 doubles, 34 home runs and 105 RBI to finish seventh in AL MVP voting and win Silver Slugger honors.

    Despite all that, he somehow never made an All-Star team.

12. Manny Ramirez

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    Stats: 3,563 PA, .307/.399/.576 (147 OPS+), 198 HR, 682 RBI, 25.2 WAR

    Postseason: 224 PA, .223/.335/.473, 13 HR, 26 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.5

    It took Manny Ramirez just 91 games to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1994.

    The following season, he hit .308/.402/.558 with 31 home runs and 107 RBI to earn his first All-Star selection, finish 12th in AL MVP voting and win Silver Slugger honors.

    From that point forward, he was an offensive force, and he closed the decade with a pair of huge seasons at the plate:

    • 1998: 146 OPS+, 45 HR, 145 RBI, 5.3 WAR, 6th in AL MVP voting
    • 1999: 174 OPS+, 44 HR, 165 RBI, 7.3 WAR, 3rd in AL MVP voting

    The only thing that kept him from ranking higher on this list is the fact he only played five full seasons during the decade.

11. Rickey Henderson

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    Stats: 5,452 PA, .276/.412/.426 (130 OPS+), 140 HR, 459 RBI, 463 SB, 39.2 WAR

    Postseason: 176 PA, .250/.347/.336, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 17 SB, 1993 WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.6

    Rickey Henderson made his MLB debut during the 1979 season and was an eight-time All-Star during the 1980s while piling up 71.1 WAR.

    In other words, the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career came outside the parameters of these rankings—but he was still productive enough during the 1990s to push for a spot in the top 10.

    He kicked off the decade by winning AL MVP honors in 1990, hitting .325/.439/.577 for a major league-leading 189 OPS+ with 33 doubles, 28 home runs, 65 steals and 119 runs. His gaudy 9.9 WAR that season inflated his WAR total and WAR/500 for the decade.

    He had just one more season of at least 5.0 WAR the rest of the decade, making it hard to rank him ahead of players who consistently produced at an elite level.

    Still, he was solid through the end of the decade, hitting .315/.423/.466 with 37 steals and 89 runs in a 1.9-WAR season in 1999.

10. Gary Sheffield

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,054 PA, .294/.401/.517 (146 OPS+), 227 HR, 763 RBI, 143 SB, 27.3 WAR

    Postseason: 71 PA, .320/.521/.540, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 1997 WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.7

    Gary Sheffield began the 1990s as a third baseman with the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres.

    He made his MLB debut in 1988 at the age of 19 and was still just 23 years old when he hit .330/.385/.580 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 1992 to win the NL batting title and finish third in MVP voting.

    The following season, he was traded with Rich Rodriguez to the expansion Florida Marlins for three players, including future Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman.

    From there, he became the first star in Marlins history, peaking in 1996 when he hit .314/.465/.624 for an NL-leading 189 OPS+ with 33 doubles, 42 home runs and 120 RBI in a 5.9-WAR season.

    He was a five-time All-Star during the decade, and his 146 OPS+ tied him for 10th among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances.

9. Juan Gonzalez

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,215 PA, .296/.345/.576 (137 OPS+), 339 HR, 1,068 RBI, 30.3 WAR

    Postseason: 43 PA, .256/.326/.744, 6 HR, 10 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.9

    Juan Gonzalez was one of three players to win multiple MVP Awards during the 1990s, joining Barry Bonds (three) and Frank Thomas (two).

    He led the majors in home runs in 1992 (43) and 1993 (46) in what were his age-22 and age-23 seasons, and he topped 40 home runs five times during the decade.

    His first AL MVP came in 1996, and two years later, he took home the hardware again:

    • 1996: 145 OPS+, 33 2B, 47 HR, 144 RBI, 3.8 WAR
    • 1998: 149 OPS+, 50 2B, 45 HR, 157 RBI, 4.9 WAR

    He didn't grade out particularly well on defense and wasn't a threat to run, but there were few sluggers more feared during the 1990s than the face of the franchise for the Texas Rangers.

8. Sammy Sosa

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,605 PA, .268/.325/.515 (120 OPS+), 332 HR, 928 RBI, 217 SB, 34.2 WAR

    Postseason: 12 PA, .182/.250/.273, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

    WAR/500: 3.1

    Sammy Sosa spent the first two seasons of the decade with the Chicago White Sox before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1992 season.

    He became the first 30-30 player in Cubs history in 1993 (33 HR, 36 SB), and he did it again in 1995 when he posted a 122 OPS+ with 36 home runs, 119 RBI and 34 steals.

    That '95 performance earned him his first All-Star selection and marked the start of his emergence as one of the game's elite sluggers. Over the final five seasons of the decade, he had a 132 OPS+ while averaging 48 home runs, 127 RBI and 4.9 WAR.

    He slugged 66 home runs during the 1998 season to win NL MVP honors and lead the Cubs to their first postseason berth since 1989, and he followed that up with a 63-homer, 141-RBI season the following year.

7. Bernie Williams

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    Stats: 4,925 PA, .304/.389/.487 (130 OPS+), 151 HR, 681 RBI, 34.7 WAR

    Postseason: 229 PA, .277/.402/.500, 11 HR, 37 RBI; 1996, 1998, 1999 WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.5

    A steady performer over the first four seasons of his career, Bernie Williams broke out during the 1995 season when he hit .307/.392/.487 for a 129 OPS+ with 18 home runs and 82 RBI in a 6.4-WAR season.

    That was followed by one of the best four-year stretches of any player during the decade.

    He hit .328/.414/.547 for a 146 OPS+ while averaging 30 doubles, 25 home runs, 104 RBI and 5.0 WAR from 1996 to 1999. He was a three-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and the 1998 AL batting champ (.339) while helping the Yankees win three World Series titles in four years.

    On top of his stellar regular-season numbers, he is also one of the most productive players in postseason history, with 1996 ALCS MVP honors among his many accolades.

    He spent his entire 16-year career in pinstripes.

6. Tony Gwynn

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    Stats: 5,453 PA, .344/.388/.476 (133 OPS+), 88 HR, 688 RBI, 32.7 WAR

    Postseason: 74 PA, .300/.319/.400, 1 HR, 8 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.0

    Keep in mind we're talking about 1990s Tony Gwynn, not full-career Tony Gwynn.

    He was already 30 years old with four batting titles, three Gold Glove Awards, 1,354 hits, 221 steals and 35.6 WAR when the 1990 season began.

    That said, he could still rake.

    He added four straight batting titles during the '90s and made a run at .400 during the strike-shortened 1994 season when he finished with a .394 average, and he was an NL All-Star every year during the decade.

    He never struck out more than 28 times in a season and whiffed just 188 times in 5,453 plate appearances during the decade, good for a 3.4 percent strikeout rate.

    By comparison, he recorded a hit in 31.4 percent of his trips to the plate.

5. Albert Belle

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    Stats: 5,820 PA, .299/.376/.581 (150 OPS+), 351 HR, 1,099 RBI, 39.5 WAR

    Postseason: 79 PA, .230/.405/.557, 6 HR, 14 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.4

    Albert Belle ripped 28 home runs and tallied 95 RBI in his first full MLB season in 1991 before rattling off eight straight seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

    More than just a slugger, he hit .302/.382/.586 during that eight-year stretch while averaging 40 home runs and 125 RBI, earning five All-Star selections and winning five Silver Slugger Awards.

    Mo Vaughn's winning 1995 AL MVP honors over Belle still ranks as one of the biggest award snubs in recent history:

    • Vaughn: 144 OPS+, .300/.388/.575, 70 XBH (39 HR), 126 RBI, 4.3 WAR
    • Belle: 177 OPS+, .317/.401/.690, 103 XBH (50 HR), 126 RBI, 7.0 WAR

    Belle was a force in the middle of the best lineups of the decade, and when he signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Chicago White Sox after the 1996 season, he became the first player in MLB history to earn $10 million in a season.

    His reputation with the media and a degenerative hip condition that ended his career at the age of 34 likely cost him Hall of Fame induction.

4. Kenny Lofton

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,998 PA, .310/.384/.429 (113 OPS+), 63 HR, 412 RBI, 433 SB, 47.5 WAR

    Postseason: 201 PA, .229/.305/.341, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 22 SB

    WAR/500: 4.8

    Kenny Lofton was the best leadoff hitter of the 1990s and one of the most dynamic all-around players in baseball.

    He made his MLB debut in 1991 with the Houston Astros, and that offseason he was traded with Dave Rohde to the Cleveland Indians for Ed Taubensee and Willie Blair in arguably the best deal in Cleveland franchise history.

    He hit .285 and led the AL with 66 steals to finish runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1992, and he led the league in steals in each of his first five full seasons.

    On top of his prolific speed, he was also a four-time Gold Glove Award winner during the decade and a .310 hitter who batted over .300 six times.

    The six-time All-Star had at least 5.0 WAR in seven of his eight full seasons during the decade, peaking with a 7.6-WAR season in 1993 when he hit .325 with a .408 on-base percentage and 70 steals.

    How did he get only 3.2 percent of the vote in his only year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013?

3. Larry Walker

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    Stats: 5,201 PA, .313/.390/.571 (143 OPS+), 262 HR, 851 RBI, 189 SB, 47.8 WAR

    Postseason: 18 PA, .214/.389/.429, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB

    WAR/500: 4.6

    Detractors will always point to the hitter-friendly Coors Field as the source of impressive offensive production by Colorado Rockies players.

    In many cases, it's true. In the case of Larry Walker, it's not.

    He spent the first five seasons of the decade with the Montreal Expos, posting a 130 OPS+ while averaging 29 doubles, 20 home runs, 76 RBI, 19 steals and 4.3 WAR. He was already a 21.1-WAR player before he ever joined the Rockies.

    When he won NL MVP honors in 1997 with a .366/.452/.720 line that included 49 home runs, 130 RBI and 33 steals, he actually had a higher OPS (1.176 to 1.169) and more home runs (29 to 20) on the road.

    He added a pair of NL batting titles in 1998 (.363) and 1999 (.379) and earned three more All-Star nods, three more Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Sluggers during the decade.

    To say his numbers were a product of Coors Field is lazy. He was one of the best all-around players of the 1990s and an easy choice for the No. 3 spot in these rankings.

2. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Stats: 6,182 PA, .302/.384/.581 (152 OPS+), 382 HR, 1,091 RBI, 151 SB, 67.5 WAR

    Postseason: 68 PA, .305/.382/.644, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 5 SB

    WAR/500: 5.5

    Simply put, Ken Griffey Jr. was the face of baseball during the 1990s.

    He broke into the majors as a 19-year-old phenom in 1989, and by 1990 he was an All-Star, Gold Glove Award winner and part of the AL MVP conversation.

    After averaging 24 home runs and 94 RBI in the first three seasons of the decade, he exploded for a 45-homer, 109-RBI campaign in 1993 that vaulted him to superstar status.

    He hit an AL-leading 40 home runs in 111 games during the strike-shortened 1994 season to finish runner-up in AL MVP voting, and three years later he took home the hardware when he led the AL in home runs (56), RBI (147), runs (125) slugging percentage (.646) and total bases (393).

    He claimed the AL home run title again in 1998 (56) and 1999 (48) and was a 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner during the decade, cementing his status as one of baseball's all-time greats.

1. Barry Bonds

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    Stats: 6,146 PA, .302/.434/.602 (179 OPS+), 361 HR, 1,076 RBI, 343 SB, 80.2 WAR

    Postseason: 96 PA, .200/.323/.288, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 SB

    WAR/500: 6.5

    Before he kicked off a stretch of four straight NL MVP seasons with his 73-homer campaign in 2001, Barry Bonds was already a three-time MVP.

    He won the award in 1990 and 1992 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and then again in 1993 in his first season with the San Francisco Giants.

    He had seven seasons of at least 8.0 WAR during the '90s, including a 9.9-WAR showing in 1993 when he hit .336/.458/.677 for a 206 OPS+ while leading the NL in home runs (46) and RBI (123).

    On top of his batting average, on-base and power production skills, he also swiped 343 bases during the decade, recording five 30-30 seasons and a 40-40 season in 1996.

    Add to all that eight Gold Glove Awards in the '90s, and it's hard to argue with his body of work.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

    Catch up on past "Best of the 1990s" articles: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen.