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Baseball: My Top 5 of All Time, In Order, At Each Position

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posted on May, 25 2006 @ 10:05 PM
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This is a copy of a post I made at another thread. Here goes:

I'll give you my Top 5 as of today, in order, position by position:


CATCHER

5. Mickey Cochrane (enormous career OBP, great speed)

4. Yogi Berra (all those rings; often with just him, Ford, Mantle and the consistently great infield defense)

3. Johnny Bench

2. Roy Campanella (Bench-like defense; 3 MVP's in 10 years; what if he'd been playing in the majors from ages 18 through 25, instead of being a multiple-time All-Star in the Negro Leagues? The man won THREE National League MVP's AFTER his physical peak as a catcher. Think about that. His rating all comes down to whether you agree with Bill James that you should give players credit for lost time under two specific exceptions: World War II and Negro Leaguers who became big stars in MLB soon after joining it. There are people who try to say that he and Jackie Robinson weren't any good until they reached the majors, in their late 20's. This is just silly, and in Campy's case, with the multiple All-Star Games, it's demonstrably false.)

1. Josh Gibson (the only Negro Leaguer I know can be rated accurately, because he's CLEARLY #1; no others are rated here, not even Oscar Charleston, who was a better player than Gibson)


PITCHER

5. Pedro Martinez (so far, inning-for-inning, the #1 pitcher all-time; but he rarely goes 8 or 9)

4. Walter Johnson (they've converted me; I may raise him to #2)

3. Greg Maddux (I actually should have him at #2, but am letting Clemens' seductive heater make me put him at #2... for now)

2. Roger Clemens (some of the Cy Youngs may be undeserved, especially in his 20-3 year, but there's nothing fake about the 7 ERA titles, which are second only to Grove)

1. Lefty Grove (#1, hands down; 9 ERA titles in 17 years, including FOUR in Fenway--as a lefty--after his 35th birthday?!?? And then there's the 300-141 W-L record, including a 3-year run of 79-15)



FIRST BASE

5. Johnny Mize (sincere apologies to Eddie Murray, Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew; none at all to McGwire or Palmeiro)

4. Hank Greenberg

3. Jeff Bagwell (may move him up to #2, after more thought)

2. Jimmie Foxx (hit #500 at age 32!!!! alcoholism limited him to 34 more)

1. Lou Gehrig (It has long been deemed unthinkable that anyone could displace Gehrig in this slot. I have no trouble thinking that, in another 8 years--i.e., before his career is even over--Albert Pujols may displace Gehrig. As long as he's clean and his body doesn't go the way of Griffey's. I think he's clean, and I think he's better built to last than Griffey was.


SECOND BASE (Apologies to Gehringer and Sandberg, both great)

5. Nap Lajoie

4. Eddie Collins (tremendous player, in every area except HR's)

3. Jackie Robinson (they've talked me into demoting him and elevating the biggest jerk in baseball history)

2. Rogers Hornsby (speaking of whom....)

1. Joe Morgan


SHORTSTOP

5. Robin Yount

4. Ernie Banks (Overrated by many, and in many ways, but he did hit those 512 HR's, and the first half of his career was truly great)

3. Arky Vaughan (terrific player, mysteriously buried in history)

2. Cal Ripken, Jr. (James puts Vaughan at #2, which could well be right, but Ripken was born 49 years later, and I add enough credit for that to put Ripken ahead; Vaughan had one year Ripken could never have come within a light year of--1935--but Vaughan never touched that year again, either.)

1. Honus Wagner (Hands down. No other player, including Babe Ruth or Josh Gibson, is as dominant at any position as Wagner is at this one.)


THIRD BASE (apologies to Brooks, Stan Hack and Ron Santo)

5. Frank "Home Run" Baker (THE greatest "peak value" third baseman, with only Schmidt and Mathews close)

4. Wade Boggs

3. George Brett (for 15 years, I had him #2)

2. Eddie Mathews (In the process of rating Brett #2, which I'd done for 15 years, James' system convinced me to rate Mathews #2, ahead of Brett.)

1. Mike Schmidt, hands down. Like Ruth, Wagner and Gehrig, a really clear-cut choice.


LEFT FIELD

5. Goose Goslin (apologies to Yaz, whom most would rate here)

4. Rickey Henderson

3. Barry Bonds, through 1999 only

2. Stan Musial (I REALLY want to put him #1, but in all honesty....)

1. Ted Williams (Nobody has ever been more greatly changed by history, and more for the better. This guy was treated like the bubonic plague when he played, and for many good reasons, but oh, what a revered figure he became in the final decades of his life. The important thing, though, is that unlike Hornsby, he was not a clubhouse cancer who was repeatedly traded. His teammates seem to have loved him, as 3 who are still living would fiercely attest.)



CENTER FIELD (The home of "The Great Five"

5. Joe DiMaggio (how's THAT for a "#5" player?)

4. Tris Speaker---yes, both Bill James and I feel he was better than DiMaggio. If you read Timothy Gay's bio, so will you.

3. Mickey Mantle (You really want to put him ahead of Cobb, but you really can't. James thinks it's a very close call, even apologizes for rating Cobb ahead of Mantle, and says if it were his team and a real-life call, he'd take Mantle in a New York minute. Well, I wouldn't. I'd take Cobb, and I could write 3,000 words as to why, without breaking a sweat.)

2. Ty Cobb (A STRONG, credible case exists for rating him ahead of Mays, or even Ruth. I don't buy either case, but a lot of experts do.)

1. Willie Mays


RIGHT FIELD

5. Pete Rose (I'd much rather pick Gwynn, and if it were my team I'd take Gwynn, but Rose deserves this slot)

4. Mel Ott

3. Frank Robinson

2. Hank Aaron

1. Babe Ruth


OK. There you are, for those who care. I welcome any comments, questions or criticism... OTHER THAN nasty rhetoric about my discrediting McGwire and downgrading Bonds on account of the obvious. I've been through all of that I want.

BHN

[Edited on 6/13/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]




posted on May, 26 2006 @ 06:00 PM
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Still getting after it like always BHN. I feel so out of the loop and for good reason, but I should have figured you were still hard at it. Honorable mention at 2B is Ryne Sandberg. I believe when all was said and done you had him at number six. But I could be wrong.
And another thing 512 HRs can't be over looked. So Ernie is solidly in the top 5 I would say. Take care hopefully I will be around again soon.



posted on May, 27 2006 @ 01:08 AM
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IA Clonz, I am soooooo glad to see you back. You cannot imagine how much I have missed your presence here. I've mentioned it to several others, who can verify it.

I've not been here as much, but your return--even if you'll not post as frequently as you did--will help keep me around here, that's for damn sure. Man, is it good to see you again.


Re my U2U: I cannot open it until my browser is fixed, and that won't happen until I'm rid of the virus some $@#(@$! sent me.
But then, our relationship has never been such as to require private posts, lol.


Great to see you, man.

BHN

P.S. Please see the edit at second base.


[Edited on 5/27/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 07:31 AM
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Thanks for the list. I don't have enough expertise to debate any of those selections, but I do see some surprises. I would've thought Bench & Berra to be 1 & 2 at catcher and Killibrew to be in the top 5 at first.

Good info. I learn something every day.



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 10:28 AM
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Same here dude I learn something new everyday on this site and on ATS.



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 05:24 PM
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Originally posted by yeahright
Thanks for the list. I don't have enough expertise to debate any of those selections, but I do see some surprises. I would've thought Bench & Berra to be 1 & 2 at catcher and Killibrew to be in the top 5 at first.

Good info. I learn something every day.



I give players who were already stars credit for years missed during WW II, as does Bill James. That description fits Mize and Greenberg in spades. Also, of course, they both got on base far more often than Killebrew and had enormously better slugging averages. Greenberg's slugging average was over .600, though he retired at age 36 and would surely have fallen below that figure if he'd played to the age most players do.

Also, Greenberg missed FOUR years for WWII (as did Feller).
If you give Greenberg his missed years, he's at around 500 HR's.

Mize is probably at around 460, but he deserves some punishing for the fact he played his entire career in left-handed hitters' paradises: Sportsman's Park, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium, where ANYONE left-handed could have hit HR's. But he was a GREAT hitter, with only 524 career K's, a .312 BA and a .397 OBP, to go with his .562 slugging average.

They were TREMENDOUS players, and Greenberg--despite his listings at 6'4", which can only have been made to avoid a realistic strike zone--has to have been 6'7" or 6'8", from photos of him I've seen with the other greats. He was a superior version of McCovey: no coordination, painfully bad feet, but incredible power and hitting skills. And I'm not at all sure McCovey wasn't better than Killebrew, by the way. He certainly had a better peak than Killebrew did.

With all of that said, Killebrew had either the 2nd or 3rd best career HR/AB ratio in baseball history, prior to steroid ball, depending on whether you want to count Ralph Kiner's truncated 10-year career spent hitting balls into that bullpen they built for him (actually, for him AND Greenberg, but only one year for the latter) in Forbes Field.

In other words, it's by no means unreasonable to put Killebrew in your Top 5 first basemen. He's certainly in my Top 10. I have simply chosen not to put him in my Top 5, and now I've shared my reasons. It's not just that he was a "one-dimensional player" (which he obviously was), because his skill at that "one dimension" was both tremendous and devastating. It's that Mize, Greenberg and Bagwell had/have other advantages which cause me to rate them ahead of him.

And, forced to choose, I'd take Murray ahead of him as well. I would NOT put McCovey ahead of him, since McCovey's entire case comes down to 1968-1969, or 1969-1970 (don't remember which). Killebrew won SIX HR titles, 5 in the 1960's, and the old outdoor park in Minnesota did not have cozy dimensions for RH hitters. So I'd peg him at #7.

BHN



posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 06:43 AM
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Pitcher:
1. Lefty Grove
2. Walter Johnson
3. Cy Young
4. Sandy Koufax
5. Christy Mathewson

Catcher:
1. Josh Gibson
1. Johnny Bench (for the majors)
2. Bill Dickey
3. Yogi Berra
4. Mickey Cochrane
5. Roy Campanella

First Base:
1. Lou Gehrig
2. Jimmie Foxx
3. George Sisler
4. Hank Greenberg
5. Eddie Murray

Second Base:
1. Rogers Hornsby
2. Jackie Robinson
3. Joe Morgan
4. Nap Lajoie
5. Eddie Collins

Shortstop:
1. Honus Wagner
2. Ernie Banks
3. Cal Ripken, Jr
4. Joe Cronin
5. Arky Vaughan

Third Base:
1. Mike Schmidt
2. George Brett
3. Eddie Matthews
4. Brooks Robinson
5. Pie Traynor

Left Field:
1. Ted Williams
2. Stan Musial
3. Barry Bonds
4. Al Simmons
5. Rickey Henderson

Center Field:
1. Willie Mays
2. Ty Cobb
3. Tris Speaker
4. Joe DiMaggio
5. Mickey Mantle

Right Field:
1. Babe Ruth
2. Henry Aaron
3. Frank Robinson
4. Roberto Clemente
5. Tony Gwynn



posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 01:11 PM
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From the website thebaseballpage.com (personally I really disagree with this team) :

Pitcher:
1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Greg Maddux
4. Roger Clemens
5. Grover Cleveland Alexander

Catcher:
1. Johnny Bench
2. Yogi Berra
3. Mickey Cochrane
4. Roy Campanella
5. Carlton Fisk

First Base:
1. Lou Gehrig
2. Jimmie Foxx
3. Eddie Murray
4. Hank Greenberg
5. Willie McCovey

Second Base:
1. Eddie Collins
2. Rogers Hornsby
3. Nap Lajoie
4. Joe Morgan
5. Charlie Gehringer

Shortstop:
1. Honus Wagner
2. Barry Larkin
3. Arky Vaughan
4. Joe Cronin
5. George Davis

Third Base:
1. Mike Schmidt
2. George Brett
3. Eddie Matthews
4. Brooks Robinson
5. Wade Boggs

Left Field:
1. Ted Williams
2. Barry Bonds
3. Stan Musial
4. Rickey Henderson
5. Ed Delahanty

Center Field:
1. Ty Cobb
2. Mickey Mantle
3. Tris Speaker
4. Willie Mays
5. Billy Hamilton

Right Field:
1. Babe Ruth
2. Hank Aaron
3. Frank Robinson
4. Mel Ott
5. Al Kaline



posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 08:00 PM
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Originally posted by patrickarace
From the website thebaseballpage.com (personally I really disagree with this team) :

Pitcher:
1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Greg Maddux
4. Roger Clemens
5. Grover Cleveland Alexander

Catcher:
1. Johnny Bench
2. Yogi Berra
3. Mickey Cochrane
4. Roy Campanella
5. Carlton Fisk

First Base:
1. Lou Gehrig
2. Jimmie Foxx
3. Eddie Murray
4. Hank Greenberg
5. Willie McCovey

Second Base:
1. Eddie Collins
2. Rogers Hornsby
3. Nap Lajoie
4. Joe Morgan
5. Charlie Gehringer

Shortstop:
1. Honus Wagner
2. Barry Larkin
3. Arky Vaughan
4. Joe Cronin
5. George Davis

Third Base:
1. Mike Schmidt
2. George Brett
3. Eddie Matthews
4. Brooks Robinson
5. Wade Boggs

Left Field:
1. Ted Williams
2. Barry Bonds
3. Stan Musial
4. Rickey Henderson
5. Ed Delahanty

Center Field:
1. Ty Cobb
2. Mickey Mantle
3. Tris Speaker
4. Willie Mays
5. Billy Hamilton

Right Field:
1. Babe Ruth
2. Hank Aaron
3. Frank Robinson
4. Mel Ott
5. Al Kaline


Well, obviously I disagree with it, too. But let me state only the things I consider totally indefensible about their list (and NOT in respects that you agree with, because you've been very respectful of my list, and I'm going to return the favor):

(1) No way in hell can they put Bonds between Williams and Musial. Either he goes ahead of Ted Williams, at the #1 spot in left field (if you ignore the tainted aspect of his feats), or he goes below BOTH of them. This middle-ground listing is an indefensible compromise;

(2) Rating Cobb ahead of Mays is justifiable, and so is rating Mantle ahead of Mays, though I personally put Mays at #1 in CF. Putting Speaker ahead of Mays is a lot dicier, however, and I say that as a huge fan of Speaker's who puts him in my Top 10. Also, I can see no case at all for putting the ancient Sliding Billy Hamilton ahead of Joe DiMaggio.

Welcome aboard.

Baseball History Nut

P.S. A few minutes ago, I added some comments to my rankings. I'm willing to discuss our ranking disagreements, as long as we can remain civil about them. I will tell you that the two guys on your lists that I am light years apart from you on are Clemente and Sisler, and there is probably no good to be served by our discussing them.

They both hit for exceptionally high averages (for their respective eras), but drew very few walks and had very unremarkable OBP's. I know, from a baseball history website I frequent--and I'm sure you know, too--that these are two of the most controversial figures ever among baseball history fans. I respect that fact, and I respect the fact that you and I are on opposite sides of these controversies. I guarantee you I ain't gonna budge on these guys, and I doubt you'll take my view of the two of them, so we should just agree to disagree about them.

But there's a whole lot of other things we can discuss with a possibility of helping enlighten one another. I know that the aforementioned baseball history site has helped wake me up to some realities, including forcing me to move Hornsby up ahead of Eddie Collins and Jackie Robinson. (Don't bother trying to talk me into moving him ahead of Joe Morgan. THAT ain't gonna happen.)

Looking forward to our agreements and respectful disagreements.

BHN

[Edited on 6/13/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]



posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 11:47 PM
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[Edited on 6/14/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]



posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 11:47 PM
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Originally posted by yeahright
Thanks for the list. I don't have enough expertise to debate any of those selections, but I do see some surprises. I would've thought Bench & Berra to be 1 & 2 at catcher and Killibrew to be in the top 5 at first.

Good info. I learn something every day.



Dear YeahRight,

A LOT of experts would put Bench and Berra, or Berra and Bench, in the top 2 slots. When I was a little kid first studying baseball history (in the early 1960's), the overwhelming choices were Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey, in that order. Of course, nobody talked about Josh Gibson at that time, and Berra was still playing for the Yankees and thus not really being assessed, while Bench was a kid.

My selection of Campy over Bench and Berra is the most uncommon of all my picks, supported by MAYBE 10% of historians, probably more like 5%. BUT, if others would give him credit for his Negro League years--not starting at age 16, as he did, but starting at age 20, as most great players do in the majors--then the verdict would be different.

My other non-majority pick, ALTHOUGH MUCH MORE COMMON, is that of Joe Morgan over Rogers Hornsby. Interestingly, when I was a child, Eddie Collins was the #1 pick.

IN THE OUTFIELD:

My pick of Mays is a majority pick, but there are five awesome MLB players who played there, plus there's the real possibility Oscar Charleston was better than all of them--AND better than Babe Ruth. For my money, the only other MLB CF with a strong claim to #1 is Ty Cobb.

In LF, pretty much everyone would agree that Bonds is #1 if his full stats count. If not, Williams would be the overwhelming choice for #1, but there would be some support for Stan Musial, who was one hell of a player.

In RF, the selection of Ruth would be backed by over 99.99%, with only ideological zealots picking anyone other than him.

My picks at SS, 3B and 1B are also overwhelming majority picks, although another 5 to 7 great years by Pujols, without any Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) controversy, will give rise to legitimate debates over whether Gehrig or Pujols is #1 at 1B. A guy at the baseball history site says Pujols is already the #1 all-time first baseman. I thanked him for a good laugh.

At pitcher, Grove is probably about 50-50 with Walter Johnson, among experts... which amazes me. Johnson's park was a pitcher's dream (i.e., a gigantic graveyard), at least once the live ball came in, and Johnson's pitching just collapsed after the onset of Live-Ball Era (read: REAL) Baseball. Johnson also had great fielders. Grove had great HITTERS, which surely helped his historic W-L %, but it just as surely doesn't explain his 9 ERA titles in a 17-year career spent in hitters' parks, nor the 4 ERA titles after age 35 in Fenway, nor the fact he's #1 all time in the big one: Adjusted ERA.

I don't know: I see the Johnson fans go on and on and on and on, but I don't get it. To me, Grove is an easy pick over Johnson... even if Johnson IS the #2 pitcher of all time, as he well may be.

BHN

[Edited on 6/14/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]



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