Top 10 Best Baseball Position Players Ever
By Brendan White aka SteakNchop
In baseball, there is greatness and then there is greatness. A twenty year career with five hundred home runs and twenty-five hundred hits is great, but not great, great. Numbers like that may get you in the Hall of Fame, but in reality the Hall of Fame isn’t for the best players ever. The Hall of Fame happens to be for very good players nowadays, (this will be talked about in a later post) not the greatest and most accomplished of them all. So to weed out the best of the best, the top ten greatest position players ever, I used my baseball knowledge as well as information written by people who watched or even played against these players to develop my own top ten list.
Ask any baseball aficionado who the greatest baseball player ever was and chances are they will tell you Babe Ruth. From a Baltimore orphanage, the Babe came up as a pitcher. After several successful years, he was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees where he earned his title of best player ever. Over the course of twenty-two seasons, sixteen of them as a hitter, Ruth hit 714 home runs and maintained a .342 batting average and a whopping .474 on base percentage. In fact, he was so good that in 1921 when he hit 59 home runs he hit more home runs than any other entire team in the American League!
Down by the warm coast of Southern California came Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox’s key player. A 6′ 3″ left fielder, Ted Williams hit .344 over nineteen seasons. His on base percentage was even better than Ruth’s at .482. Even though he missed three seasons from his prime, Ted Williams still smacked 521 home runs. Like Ruth, Williams also pitched in Major League Baseball. Just not as much; he pitched two innings one game when he was twenty-one.
Willie Mays is considered by many to be one of the all-time greatest hitters ever as well as the best fielder ever. A five-tool (hitting for average, hitting for power, running the bases, fielding and throwing) player, Willie Mays could do everything. Over his career, he had a .302 batting average and 660 home runs. Eleven Gold Glove Awards and two MVPs, Willie Mays was the best center fielder there has ever been and will ever be.
While generally not thought of as a very nice person, Ty Cobb was an amazing baseball player. A center fielder, Ty Cobb played hard and dirty baseball. Some say he would sharpen his spikes, so when he slid players trying to tag him out would get out of his way as to not risk a serious injury. Ty Cobb has the highest career batting average ever, at .366. Just like Willie Mays, Cobb was an all-around player and even led the league in home runs one year with nine. He may have been a KKK member, he may have been a bad man but in my mind he is the fourth best baseball player ever no matter how you look at it.
After eight years of grade school without ever missing a day and four years at the High School of Commerce in New York City Lou Gehrig went to college at Columbia University. Before he had been there too long, Gehrig decided to make a decision I am sure he would make again if he had to; join the New York Yankees. Gehrig played seventeen seasons for the New York Yankees, retiring at thirty-six years old because of what has been believed to be Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The fatal disease is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease today. Batting behind the great Babe Ruth throughout his career, Gehrig was always second best. But nonetheless, he put up impressive numbers. He led the league in RBIs five times, led the league in home runs three times and led the league in on base percentage three times as well. His lifetime batting average was .340 and he hit 493 home runs. His postseason batting average of .361 is extremely impressive and the six world championships he won had as much do to with him as the Babe.
A second baseman, Rogers Hornsby is one of the most overlooked baseball players ever. From Winters, TX Rogers “Rajah” Hornsby is without doubt the greatest second baseman who ever lived. He hit over .400 four times and had a lifetime batting average of .358 despite playing until he was forty-one years old. He had 301 career home runs and led the league twice, with forty-two and thirty-nine home runs. A fine fielding second baseman as well, Rogers Hornsby is one of the greatest players to ever live.
Stan Musial was often regarded as the third best hitter ever, behind Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Beginning his career in 1941, Musial played for twenty-two seasons, until 1963 when at forty-two years of age he retired. Over his career he won three MVPs and made the all star team twenty times. His lifetime batting average was .331 and he hit 475 home runs over the course of his career. I am sure he enjoyed winning the World Series three times as well.
From Mobile, Alabama came Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, primarily a right fielder for the Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of his career. He had quite a career to say the least. Over twenty-three seasons, Hank hit 755 home runs, second on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds. That is a controversial issue on who should really be the home run champ, but thing thing is, in Barry Bonds’ era people were hitting more home runs than in Aaron’s era, so theoretically Aaron is a better baseball player anyway. He finished his career with a .305 batting average and a .374 on base percentage. His twenty consecutive years on the all star team did nothing but the opposite of tarnishing his fantastic lifetime numbers.
From Northern California, The Yankee Clipper took New York City by surprise in 1936 when he began his thirteen year career. A center fielder, Joe Dimaggio could field just like he could hit. He won three MVPs over his short career and had a lifetime .325 batting average. He hit 361 home runs and has his name on one of the hardest records to beat, a fifty-six game hitting streak in 1941. He missed three years because or World War II and made the all star team every year he played.
Well, I knew you thought Mantle was going to be on here somewhere. Might as well be #10. Mantle was a speedy center fielder for the Yankees who has a lot to his name. Three MVPs, triple crown, sixteen times all star, four times home run champ, six times OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage) champ and a Gold Glove all to himself. Many say he would have been better than Mays if it wasn’t for a freak incident when he tripped over a small drain in the center field grass of Yankee Stadium. But even with his injuries, his lifetime numbers are still unbelievable. .421 on base percentage and 536 home runs. Seven World Series rings doesn’t bother the now deceased Mantle either.
These are the top ten position players (everyone but pitchers) all-time, in my opinion. I am not including currently active players because it is unknown how good they will end up. That is why Albert Pujols for example is not on this list. Who knows; maybe a best current baseball players list is needed. If so, feel free to comment and let me know.
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