By George Journal consulted 10 reliable baseball sources to tabulate their respective selections for the best players of all time – and here are those magnificent players…
The 10 sources used for this tabulation are The Baseball Almanac, Baseball Reference, MLB Rank, ESPN, The Score, Britannica, Bleacher Report, Ranker.com, Stadium Talk, and Line Ups.
First, honourable mentions include Shoeless Joe Jackson, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Bench, Mike Trout, Nolan Ryan. Jackie Robinson, Pete Rose, Sandy Koufax, Cal Ripkin Jr., Randy Johnson and Ernie Banks.
Player greats who were selected by at least one of the sources but did not make the top ten list include: Mickey Mantle, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Satchel Paige, Oscar Charleston, Alex Rodriguez, Rogers Clemens, and Christy Mathewson.
And so, in reverse order, here are the top ten baseball players of all-time.
10. Rogers Hornsby
Hornsby of the St Louis Cardinals 1915-1926 & 1933, NY Giants 1927, Boston Braves 1928, Chicago Cubs 1929-1932, St. Louis Browns 1934-37. Roger Hornsby had a lengthy 23-year career in which he hit .358, and had 2,930 hits. He won seven batting titles, and had two Triple Crown seasons. In 1926 he took home a World Series, and won two MVPs.
9. Stan Musial
Musial of the St Louis Cardinals 1941-1963. Stan The Man racked up over 3,500 hits in his career, and hit .331. He had 475 stolen bases, and nearly 2,000 RBI. He was a three-time World Series champ, and took home seven batting titles. Musial landed on 24 all-star teams and was a three-time MVP.
8. Lou Gehrig
Gehrig of the New York Yankees (1923-39). Lou Gehrig won six World Series with the Yankees (1927-28, ’32, ’36-38) and his career stats included: .340, 2,721 hits, 493 HRs, 1,995 RBIs. It is Gehrig, not Babe Ruth, who has the Yankees’ career RBI record (1,995). Gehrig also holds the record for highest slugging percentage in a World Series. He slugged 1.727 in a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in 1928.
7. Walter Johnson
Johnson of the Washington Senators (1907-1927). Walter Johnson was baseball’s original strikeout king; he was the only member of the 3,000 strikeout club for over 50 years. Johnson led the league in strikeouts a record 12 times, one more than Nolan Ryan. His 110 shutouts are 20 more than any other player in MLB history. His career record is W-L: 417-279, 110 shutouts (all-time leader), 5,914 1/3 innings pitched, 2.17 ERA and 3,509 strikeouts.
6. Barry Bonds
Bonds of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92), San Francisco Giants (’93-2007). Bonds’ career stats: .298, 2,935 hits, 762 HRs, 1,996 RBIs, and 2,558 BBs (all-time leader). Bonds is the all-time leader in home runs, walks (2,558) and MVP awards (seven). No other player in MLB history has won more than three MVP awards. Bonds also holds the top two spots in single-season on-base percentage. His .609 on-base percentage in 2004 is the highest and his .582 OBP in 2002 ranks second.
5. Ty Cobb
Cobb of the Detroit Tigers (1905-26), Philadelphia A’s (’27-28). Cobb’s career stats: .366 (all-time leader), 4,189 hits, 117 HRs, and 1,933 RBIs. Cobbis the the only player to lead his league in hits eight times, ranks second all time in hits, runs and triples, as well as fourth in doubles and stolen bases. His 54 steals of home are most all time, and his .367 batting average is also the best ever. He led the American League in that category a whopping 12 times, including nine in a row from 1907-15.
4. Ted Williams
Williams of the Boston Red Sox (1939-42, ’46-60). Williams career stats: .344 (all-time leader, 2,654 hits, 521 HRs, and 1,839 RBIs. Williams won two Triple Crowns and two MVPs — yet neither of his MVPs came in the Triple Crown years, or in his famed .406 season in 1941. He ranks first all time in on-base percentage at .482, a number reached in a single season in the past 50 years by only two players.
3. Hank Aaron
Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves (1954-65), Atlanta Braves (’66-74), Milwaukee Brewers (’75-76). Aaron’s career stats: .305, 3,771 hits, 755 HRs, 2,297 RBIs (all-time leader),and 6,856 TBs (all-time leader). Aaron was baseball’s all-time home run leader from 1974 to 2007, finishing with 755 career home runs. Aaron had 20 or more home runs in 20 consecutive seasons, the most such seasons and longest such streak all time.
2. Willie Mays
Mays of the New York Giants (1951-52, ’54-57), San Francisco Giants (’58-72), New York Mets (’72-73). Willie Mays played Major League Baseball for twenty-two seasons and was named to twenty-four All-Star Games. He was the first player in National League history to join the 30 Home Runs and 30 Stolen Bases Club. Mays won twelve consecutive Gold Gloves starting the year the award was first introduced (1957) and up through 1968. Mays finished his career with 660 home runs, third most in big league history behind Aaron and Ruth.
1. Babe Ruth
Ruth of the Boston Red Sox (1914-19), New York Yankees (’20-34), Boston Braves (’35). Forgive us but By George is providing the “fast facts” section from the Baseball Almanac on the best player of all-time.
Babe Ruth is the single most famous baseball player in the entire world. Babe Ruth is also one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game. The Bambino’s slugging ability was so great, his last name became an adjective – “Ruthian” – used to describe performances of heroic proportion.
Babe Ruth the “champion”: Ruth was a World Series champion seven times, American League home run champion twelve times, RBI Champion six times, On-Base Percentage Champion ten times and the Sluggin Average Champion thirteen times.
Babe Ruth the “home run king”: Ruth was the first player in Major League history to hit 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700 home runs. In 1919, Ruth hit 29 home runs becoming the all-time single-season home-run leader. A year later Ruth hit 54 home runs, breaking his own record as the all-time single-season home run leader and became the first player to hit over 50 home runs in a season. The very next year, he hit 59 home runs, breaking his own record yet again. Finally, in 1927, The Sultan of Swat hit 60 home runs, breaking the mark and establishing a plateau that was legendary for decades. Currently, Ruth still holds records for most home runs in any decade (467 in the 1920s), fastest player to hit 600 home runs (2,044 games) and fastest player to hit 700 home runs (2,418 games).
Babe Ruth the “best left-handed pitcher in baseball”: Ruth was 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA his first full season on the mound (1915). Ruth still holds pitching records for most shutouts in a season by a lefty with 9 (tied by Ron Guidry in 1978) and most innings pitched (14) in a World Series game – a complete game 2-1 victory in 1916. Ruth is part of an elite set of pitchers in Major League history whose career on the mound spanned at least ten seasons and NEVER once included a losing record!
Babe Ruth the “postseason prince”: Ruth set World Series records with 3 homers in a game (and did it twice) and 12 total bases in a game. His 15 postseason home runs, all hit during World Series games, were a record until Mickey Mantle tied him in 1963 then eventually passed him in 1964. And let us never forget the 1932 World Series, legendary and debatable still to this day, courtesy of “The Called Shot”.
Babe Ruth the “nickname collector”: Babe (which some actually believe is his real name due to its use) probably had more well-published nicknames than any other player and here are but a few we have seen in print: The Bambino, The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, The Wazir of Wham, The Maharajah of Mash, The Rajah of Rap, The Caliph of Clout, the Behemoth of Bust, The Mammoth of Maul, The Mauling Mastodon, The Mauling Monarch, The Wali of Wollop, and to his teammates, Jidge.
Babe Ruth the “hall of fame legend”: Ruth was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on February 2, 1936, by the Baseball Writers Association of America, as part of the inaugural class of inductees. At the time of his induction, Ruth held literally hundreds of baseball records. The single most prolific hitter in baseball history, a key component in “Murderer’s Row” and a charismatic personality – both on and off the field – that made him a larger-than-life figure and one of the greatest sports heroes, not just in baseball, but in American culture.
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