There have been generations of great players in Major League Baseball. Since the league’s official inception around 1869 there have been many different eras and changes to the game. It is difficult to place each great player against each other, but here is the CHEAP SEATS take on the greatest players, by position, the game has ever produced. In the last section Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt and George Brett were observed and the infield positions were wrapped up. Now we move to the outfield. (All stats are current of June 1, 2010)
Despite being viewed as three players in the same position in many instances, each outfield position is very different and requires a different type of player, especially when defense is being assessed. Left fielders are usually very good athletes that have lesser arms than the other outfield positions, due to not having to throw as far to reach third base, which is the base most often thrown to from the outfield. However, they must stay aware due to more balls being hit in the area due to more right-handed hitters than left. Offensively, it has hosted perhaps the greatest overall selection of hitters of any position, featuring an 7-time MVP, 2 of the top 4 hit totals ever, the stolen base king and after all of that, arguably the most complete hitter ever.
1. Barry Bonds: San Francisco Giants (1985-2007): 90 points
– .298 Avg. 762 HR, 1996 RBI, .444 OBP, 2935 Hits, 2227 Runs, 514 SB
– 8 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 7 MVPs, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 2 HR Titles, 14 All-Star Games
The all-time home run king. His 73 home runs in 2001 is single season standard. The most avoided hitter ever, his 2,558 walks are the most ever, 688 of which are intentional, also a Major League record. His seven MVP awards are the most ever, four coming consecutively. He is the only player to have 500 career home runs and stolen bases. One of four players to record 40 home runs and stolen bases in the same season. His .609 on-base percentage in 2004 is a single season record.
2. Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals (1941-1963): 87.5 points
– .331 Avg. 475 HR, 1951 RBI, .417 OBP, 3630 Hits, 1949 Runs, 78 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 3 World Series, 3 MVPs, 0 ROY, 7 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Titles, 20 All-Star Games
The most under appreciated player ever, Musial held 17 Major League and 29 National League records upon his retirement. Has the fourth most hits and third most doubles (725) of all-time. Led the National League in hits six times, doubles eight times and triples five times. Had exactly 1,815 at home & on the road, to split his career production evenly.
3. Ted Williams: Boston Red Sox (1939-1960): 85 points
– .344 Avg. 521 HR, 1839 RBI, .482 OBP, 2654 Hits, 1798 Runs, 24 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 2 MVP, 0 ROY, 6 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 16 All-Star Games
In many accounts, the greatest hitter of all-time. Finish with a .406 batting average in 1941, making him the last player to pass the mark. Has the highest career batting average of any player play his entire career after the 1920’s. Has the best career on-base percentage in history and led the American League 11 times in the mark. Reached base in 84 consecutive games in 1949, the most ever. Led the American League in runs scored six times. Finished with these career marks despite missing four seasons to military service.
4. Carl Yastrzemski: Boston Red Sox (1961-1983): 74.5 points
– .285 Avg. 452 HR, 1844 RBI, .379 OBP, 3419 Hits, 1816 Runs, 168 SB
– 7 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY 3 Batting Titles, 1 Triple Crown, 1 HR Title, 18 All-Star Games
Williams’ successor in left field for Boston. The last player to win a Triple Crown (single season batting average, home run and RBI leader) in baseball in 1967. Played in the second most games in Major League history and third most at-bats. The first American Leaguer to compile both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. His 646 doubles are 8th all-time.
5. Pete Rose: Cincinnati Reds (1963-1986): 66.5 points
– .303 Avg. 160 HR, 1314 RBI, .375 OBP, 4256 Hits, 2165 Runs, 198 SB
– 2 Gold Gloves, 3 World Series, 1 MVP, 1 ROY, 3 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 17 All-Star Games
Has the most hits in Major League history. Holds all-time records for games played, singles and most 200 hit seasons, with 10. Had 23 consecutive seasons with at least 100 hits. The ultimate utility man, he made the All-Star game at five different positions. Was given lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games while playing and managing in 1989.
6. Manny Ramirez: Boston Red Sox/Cleveland Indians (1993-Present): 58 points
– .314 Avg. 550 HR, 1843 RBI, .411 OBP, 2524 Hits, 1521 Runs, 37 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games
A controversial, yet constant threat over the last 18 years. Has the most postseason home runs (28) and RBI (75) ever. His 21 grand slams are the second most ever. Has the most RBI of any active player and the third most home runs.
7. Rickey Henderson: Oakland A’s (1979-2003): 55.5 points
– .279 Avg. 297 HR, 1115 RBI, .401 OBP, 3055 Hits, 2295 Runs, 1406 SB
– 1 Gold Glove, 2 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 10 All-Star Games
The most disruptive player in the history of the game. Has the most stolen bases in history, with over 450 more than the second place competitor. He led the American League in steals 12 times and finished in the top 10 in 21 seasons. He hit a record 81 lead off home runs and accumulated 2,129 unintentional walks, also a Major League record.
8. Al Simmons: Philadelphia A’s (1922-1944): 51 points
– .334 Avg. 307 HR, 1827 RBI, .380 OBP, 2927 Hits, 1507 Runs, 88 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 3 All-Star Games (Presumptive 6 awarded)
Had one of the greatest starts to a career of any player. Hit for a .300 average and 100 RBI for eleven consecutive years to start his career. Reached 2,000 hits faster than any player in history, in only 1, 390 games.
9. Ed Delahanty: Philadelphia Phillies (1888-1903): 50 points
– .346 Avg. 101 HR, 1464 RBI, .411 OBP, 2596 Hits, 1599 Runs, 455 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 2 HR Titles, 0 All-Star Game (Presumptive 10 awarded)
One of the first premier power threats in the Majors. Is the only player to hit four home runs in one game with them all being inside the park hits. He is the only player to win a batting title in both the National and American Leagues. His career batting average is fifth all-time and he surpassed a .400 average three times.
10. Goose Goslin: Washington Senators (1921-1938): 46 points
– .316 Avg. 248 HR, 1609 RBI, .387 OBP, 2735 Hits, 1483 Runs, 175 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 1 All-Star Game (Presumptive 9 awarded)
A consistent hitter throughout his entire career. Goslin ranks in the top 50 all-time in total bases (4,325), hits (2,735), RBI (1,609), doubles (500) and triples (173). Twice hit above .350, with a high mark of .379 in 1928.
Left on deck: Joe Medwick, Ralph Kiner, Lou Brock
See past posts for scoring rubric