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. (All stats are current of June 1, 2010)
Right field is the final outfield position, which is similar, yet different, from left field. Where the other outfield posts are counted on to cover ground and use their speed to cut of the field, that isn’t always as the case for right fielders. While they are by no means expected to be bad defensively, they are counted on to have a strong throwing arm due to making the longer throw to third base and to home plate. Usually the least mobile outfielder plays right field, and as a result of this many of the best and strongest hitters in many lineups play the position. The spot boast many of the greatest players from several different areas of hitting. However, the top-tier of the position has the most separation of any other in this study and his occupied by the two preeminent power hitters of the 20th century.
1. Babe Ruth: New York Yankees (1914-1935): 89.5 points
– .342 Avg. 714 HR, 2217 RBI, .472 OBP, 2874 Hits, 2174 Runs, 123 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 7 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 12 HR Titles, 2 All-Star Game (Presumptive 11 awarded)
The biggest icon in the history of game, and arguably in all of sports. He revolutionized the game as the first great power hitter in history, breaking the former career record of home runs (138) in his second season as a full-time hitter. His career home run total stood for 39 years. In 1927 he hit 60 home runs stood for 34 years and was more than any other TEAM in the American League. He led the AL in home runs 12 times, the most in MLB history. He finished with season totals over 45 homers nine times. His .690 slugging percentage is the best ever. He has the second most RBI and fourth most runs scored in history. Was a successful pitcher before becoming a right fielder, with a record of 90-46 until 1920. His nine shutouts in 1916 was a record for 62 years.
2. Hank Aaron: Atlanta Braves (1954-1976): 84 points
– .305 Avg. 755 HR, 2297 RBI, .374 OBP, 3771 Hits, 2174 Runs, 240 SB
– 3 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 21 All-Star Games
Broke Ruth’s historic home run total in 1974 and his record career total stood for 32 years. Only player to ever hit 30 home runs 15 times and hit at least 24 for 19 straight years. He has the most RBI in Major League history and finished in the top 3 for hits and runs scored all-time. Aaron was the first player in history to accumulate both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He made 21 consecutive All-Star Games. Was the last player to complete in both Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball.
3. Frank Robinson: Cincinnati Reds/Baltimore Orioles (1956-1976): 65 points
– .294 Avg. 586 HR, 1812 RBI, .389 OBP, 2943 Hits, 1829 Runs, 204 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 2 MVP, 1 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 1 Triple Crown, 1 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games
The only player to win an MVP Award in the National and American Leagues. Retired with the fourth most home runs of all-time. Became the first, and still only, Black player to achieve a Triple Crown season in 1966. A huge presence in both the Civil Rights Movement and progression of Blacks in baseball, he became the first Black manager of a Major League team in 1975 with the Cleveland Indians.
4. Mel Ott: New York Giants (1926-1947): 64.5 points
– .304 Avg. 511 HR, 1860 RBI, .414 OBP, 2876 Hits, 1859 Runs, 89 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 6 HR Titles, 12 All-Star Games
The first National Leaguer to surpass 500 home runs. Led the New York Giants in home runs for 18 consecutive seasons, a Major League Record. First NL player to have eight consecutive 100 RBI seasons. Has share of Major League record with seven consecutive walks. One of six NL players to ever spend 20 years with one team. At only 5’9″, he is the shortest member of the 500 home run club.
5. Tony Gwynn: San Diego Padres (1982-2001): 58.5 points
– .338 Avg. 135 HR, 1138 RBI, .388 Avg. 3141 Hits, 1383 Runs, 319 SB
– 5 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 8 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 15 All-Star Games
One of the greatest contact hitters in history, he never hit below .309 in a season. Hit over .350 seven times in his career. Gwynn’s career average is the highest of any player whose career started after World War II. His .394 average 1994’s strike shortened season is highest National League total since 1930. His eight batting titles are tied for the most in NL history.
6. Al Kaline: Detroit Tigers (1953-1974): 57. 5 points
– .297 Avg. 399 HR, 1583 RBI, .376 OBP, 3007 Hits, 1622 Runs, 137 SB
– 10 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 15 All-Star Games
The youngest player to ever win a batting title in 1955, at age 20. Also the youngest to hit three home runs in one game, also at 20. Hit 25 home runs or more seven times and .300 nine times. Noted for his strong defensive play and arm, he is one of few outfielders to win at least 10 Gold Glove Awards.
7. Reggie Jackson: Oakland A’s/New York Yankees (1967-1987): 56.5 points
– .262 Avg. 563 HR, 1702 RBI, .356 OBP, 2584 Hits, 1551 Runs, 228 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 5 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 14 All-Star Games
Named “Mr. October” for his incredible performances in World Series play, Jackson hit 10 home runs (including four on four pitches in 1977, had a .357 average and 24 RBI in 27 World Series play. Won the regular season and World Series MVP Awards in 1973. Was the first player to hit 100 home runs with three different teams, the A’s, Yankees and Angels.
8. Dave Winfield: New York Yankees/San Diego Padres (1973-1995): 56 points
– .283 Avg. 465 HR, 1833 RBI, .355 OBP, 3110 Hits, 1669 Runs, 223 SB
– 7 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games
Part of a small group of players to reach both 3,000 hits and 450 home runs. Played throughout a back and forth rivalry with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Oldest player to get an extra base hit in a World Series, at 41 years. A tremendous all-around athlete, he was drafted into the NBA and NFL as well.
9. Roberto Clemente: Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-1972): 55 points
– .317 Avg. 240 HR, 1305 RBI, .359 OBP, 3000 Hits, 1416 Runs, 83 SB
– 12 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 4 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games
A pioneer for Hispanics in baseball and one of the greatest overall talents of all time. First Hispanic player to win an MVP Award, a World Series as a starter and an All-Star Game MVP. His 12 Gold Glove Awards are tied for the most ever in the outfield, and his arm is ranked among the strongest ever. Hit above .340 five times. Only player to hit a walk-off, inside the park grand slam in 1956. Tragically died in an airplane crash on a relief mission to Nicaragua in 1972.
10. Harry Heilmann: Detroit Tigers (1914-1932): 48 points
– .342 Avg. 183 HR, 1539 RBI, .410 OBP, 2660 Hits, 1291 Runs, 113 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 4 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 10 awarded)
His career average is second all-time amongst right-handed batters. Post four seasons hitting above .390, with a high mark of .404 in 1923. Had 200 plus hits four times and had seven consecutive seasons of 100 plus RBI. Was the first player to hit a home run in every park in baseball while he played.
10a. Willie Keeler: Baltimore Orioles (1892-1910): 48 points
– .341 Avg. 33 HR, 810 RBI, .388 OBP, 2932 Hits, 1719 Runs, 495 SB
– 0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 11 awarded)
A remarkable contact hitter, his 44 game hitting streak in 1897 was longest ever until broken in 1956. Maintained an average above .370 for six consecutive years. His 424 mark in 1897 is the fifth highest single season average ever. His record of eight consecutive 200 hit seasons stood for 108 years until 2009. 206 of his 216 hits in 1898 were singles, a record.
Left on deck: Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Sam Crawford