Major League Baseball has been around since 1876. Back when players could pitch and play the field or could start 50 games a season. Measuring across all eras can tend to get a little tricky, especially once you work into some of the more scandalous eras. You also had some of the older ballparks that played more extreme compared to the one’s today. Steroids also are now a major factor for evaluating past players, and you see it in the Hall of Fame voting. Steroids diminish some aspects of the game, but it isn’t something I weight heavily in these rankings. Barry Bonds was still one of the best to do it, and the same goes for Alex Rodriguez. The game has changed throughout the decades, with juiced baseballs, better equipment, and no World Wars to go fight. There are a few players within this list that lost three years of stats to go off and fight. This was a great step back in time to see how the greats measure up throughout the years.
1. Willie Mays
#1: Willie Mays did it all, and you know you have to be a good center fielder to play at Polo Grounds. Mays was a 24-time all-star and won 12 Gold Glove awards. He was also a two-time MVP and took home the 1954 World Series. He has over 600 HR and 3,000 hits in his career. Mays could contribute to every part of the game.
2. Barry Bonds
#2: Another steroid era name, but Barry Bonds was the best power bat in history. He finished with 762 home runs and had an OBP of .444. Bonds was a freak athlete who also stole over 500 SB in his career. Not only was Bonds excellent at the plate, but he also had eight Gold Gloves as well.
3. Hank Aaron
#3: Hank Aaron ahead of Bonds might not be right, but in consideration of how they got to where they are, Aaron is slightly ahead. 755 home runs, and over 2,000 RBI, Aaron was one of the best hitters in baseball. In addition to his power, he had over 3,500 hits. He was a 25-time all-star and won three Gold Gloves.
4. Babe Ruth
#4: Going any other route here just seems to be getting cute. He had a career WAR of 182 and over 700 HR. Ruth also pitched, going 94-46 in his career with a 2.28 ERA. With a career OPS of 1.164, Ruth is the best to do it. He also had seven World Series titles during his career.
5. Walter Johnson
#5: Narrowing down the top arm was tough, but Walter Johnson was the guy. He had three pitching Triple Crowns and five ERA titles. He finished with over 3,500 strikeouts and over 400 wins. Johnson also had a 2.17 ERA in his career, which is just insane given he pitched for 21 years.
6. Ty Cobb
#6: Ty Cobb was an all-time great at the plate, with over 4,000 hits in his career. He hit .366 in his career and had over a .400 OBP. In 1911, 1912, and 1922, he hit over .400 in a season. You could imagine the batting titles he racked up, which was 12. You can make the argument for Cobb as one of the best hitters of all-time.
7. Ted Williams
#7: Ted Williams would have hit 3,000, but had three years gone for WWII service. Williams was one of the best hitters in baseball, hitting .344 in his career. He hit over .400 in 1941 and somehow finished second as the MVP. Williams was a 19-time all-star and six-time batting champ.
8. Lou Gehrig
#8: Lou Gehrig was a part of those stellar Yankees teams in the 20s and 30s. He finished with 2,721 hits and 493 home runs. He had a .447 OBP in his career, which was cut short by a few years. Gehrig was an MVP twice and won six World Series titles. It is crazy to think he was the second most popular Yankee on those teams.
9. Stan Musial
#9: 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.
10. Roger Hornsby
#10: Roger Hornsby hit .358 in his career, and had 2,930 hits in that span. He won seven batting titles and had two Triple Crown seasons. In 1926 he took home a World Series and won two MVPs. Hornsby had a lengthy 23-year career and over 1.000 OPS. He has established himself as one of the best to play the game.
11. Honus Wagner
#11: A top priced baseball card, and a world-class career, Honus Wagner was one of the best players in history. He had over 3,400 hits and hit .328. Wagner also racked up 723 stolen bases. He won six batting titles and won the 1909 World Series.
12. Cy Young
#12: You have to be good to have an award named after you. Cy Young had 511 wins and a 2.63 ERA in his 22-year career. He was the first true elite arm the game had seen. He finished with 2,803 strikeouts and had two ERA titles.
13. Joe DiMaggio
#13: Joe DiMaggio knocked it out of the park with the ladies and on the dia-mond. He had a .977 career OPS and had over 2,000 hits. DiMaggio was another one who went off to war for three years, missing out on some prime seasons. That didn’t limit him, as he won three MVP trophies and nine World Series rings.
14. Christy Mathewson
#14: Christy Mathewson had over 350 wins, and ended up with two Triple Crowns. He had 2,507 career strikeouts, and a 2.13 career ERA. Mathewson is another one of the elite names from the early 1900s.
15. Mickey Mantle
#15: Mickey mantle was a three-time MVP winner, and went onto win seven World Series titles. He had 20 all-star appearances, and won a Triple Crown as well. He hit over 500 home runs, and had well over 1,500 RBI and runs a piece.
16. Roger Clemens
#16: Roger Clemens was one of the best pitchers to play the game. He won seven Cy Young awards, and had seven ERA titles. He was a two-time World Series champ, and an 11-game all-star. He also won the MVP in 1968 with Boston.
17. Jimmie Foxx
#17: Jimmie Foxx hit 534 home runs and was just a shade under 2,000 RBI. Foxx took home three MVP awards, and also had a Triple Crown as well. His MVP season back in 1932, he tallied 58 HR and 169 RBI. Foxx was also a two-time batting champ, and nine-time all-star.
18. Albert Pujols
#18: Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. He currently has over 3,100 hits and over 600 career home runs. His career OBP is around the .380 mark, with a .553 SLG. Pujols won three MVP awards, and went to ten all-star games. In terms of consistency, Pujols is one of the best.
19. Ken Griffey Jr.
#19: Ken Griffey Jr had baseball in his blood from day one. While he is already one of the greats, you have to wonder where he would land with some better health later in his career. He finished with 630 career home runs, and 2,781 career hits. Griffey was also one of the best defensive players with 10 Gold Glove awards.
20. Tris Speaker
#20: Tris Speaker seems fairly underrated when looking back through history to rank these greats. Speaker had over 3,500 career hits, and hit .345. He didn’t bring the power like some of the others, but raked extra base hits and played an elite center field. Speaker finished his career with a .428 OBP.
21. Mike Schmidt
#21: Mike Schmidt goes down as one of the best third basemen in baseball his-tory. He won three MVP trophies, and ten Gold Glove awards. He was a 12-time all-star and won the 1980 World Series with Philadelphia. Schmidt finished his career with over 500 HR and a .527 SLG%.
22. Randy Johnson
#22: Randy Johnson is a pitcher that we rarely see, especially when you fac-tor in the durability he had. Over 4,000 strikeouts he racked up, and 303 wins. Johnson fin-ished with five Cy Young awards, and won the 2001 World Series. He goes down as one of the best left-handed pitchers the game has seen.
23. Warren Spahn
#23: Warren Spahn missed three of his first four seasons in the MLB to serve in WWII. He came back and dominated. He had 363 total wins, and a career 3.09 ERA. He surpassed 2,500 strikeouts, and won the Cy Young award once. He was a three time ERA title winner, and went to 17 all-star games.
24. Mel Ott
#24: Mel Ott was just a flat out ball player. His 5’9 stature didn’t stop him from hitting over 500 home runs in his career. He had a career .947 OPS, and was a 12-time all-star. Ott also has a World Series title under his bet, and was just shy of the 3,000 hit mark.
25. Lefty Grove
#25: You have to be good to have a name like Lefty Grove. He won 300 games, and had a 3.06 ERA. Grove was a nine-time ERA champion, and also won two World Series titles. In 1931, he won 31 games and took home an MVP award. He averaged 19 wins a season during his career.
26. Pete Rose
#26: Pete Rose isn’t technically a Hall of Famer, but he is in our eyes. Rose is one of the best hitters to ever play the game, and had well over 4,000 hits. He is your hit leader, and was a player who left it all on the line every time he played. Rose was a 17-time all-star and won three batting titles.
27. Tom Seaver
#27: Tom Seaver is one of the best arms of all-time, winning three Cy Young awards, and three ERA titles. He had over 300 wins, and a sub-three ERA in his career. Seaver won the 1969 World Series, and also won 16 games in his rookie year to bring home the Rookie of the Year award.
28. Johnny Bench
#28: Johnny Bench is one of the best catchers to play the game, and likely is the best when you really look at it. He won ten Gold Glove awards, and good luck running on him. He also had over 350 home runs, and over 1,300 RBI. Bench was an MVP twice, and made 14 all-star appearances.
29. Sandy Koufax
#29: Sandy Koufax had his career cut short with elbow trouble. Otherwise, Koufax would have moved his way up the leaderboards for various categories. Koufax won three World Series titles, three Cy Young awards, and was a five time ERA champ. He finished with a 2.76 ERA in his career, and had three seasons posting under a two ERA.
30. Roberto Clemente
#30: Roberto Clemente was one of the best defensive players of all-time, and adding in his 3,000 hits he goes down as one of the greats. He had a career .475 slug-ging percentage, and hit over .300. Clemente won 12 Gold Glove awards, and two World Series titles.
31. Nolan Ryan
#31: When you think strikeouts, you should be thinking of Nolan Ryan. He had over 5,000 strikeouts in his career, although he did pitch 27 years. Ryan pitched seven no-hitters in his career, and won over 300 games. Yeah he walked a lot of guys, but Ryan brought nasty stuff and high velocity fastballs.
32. Greg Maddux
#32: Greg Maddux is a top arm in MLB history, and did it in a unique way. He had elite control, and nobody was able to match him outside of Tony Gwynn. Maddux had a career 3.16 ERA and 355 wins. His strikeouts stretched over 3,000 in his career, and now we call complete games in under 100 pitches after him.
33. Jackie Robinson
#33: We have to remember Jackie Robinson was 28 years old when he made his MLB debut and broke the color barrier in baseball. He was a great mix of power and speed, and played a mean second base. Robinson means a lot for baseball, both on and off the field.
34. Bob Gibson
#34: Bob Gibson finished with a sub-three ERA in his career, and won 251 total games. He was also one of the best playoff pitchers to ever play the game. He had a sub-two ERA in nine World Series starts. Gibson fielded the position well with nine Gold Gloves, and took home two World Series titles and MVP awards.
35. Frank Robinson
#35: Frank Robinson was a 14-time all-star and went onto win two World Se-ries title. Robinson also won a Triple Crown in 1966. He finished with over 550 home runs, and had a .537 career slugging percentage. Robinson is one of the more iconic sluggers in the game.
36. Tony Gwynn
#36: Tony Gwynn is up for debate as the best contact hitter in baseball. I mean, Gwynn had under 500 strikeouts in over 10,000 plate appearances. He finished with a .338 career average, and .388 OBP. He never topped 50 strikeouts in a season, even later in his career. Gwynn averaged 209 hits a season, and finished with 3,141.
37. Rickey Henderson
#37: Rickey Henderson played 25 seasons, and at the age of 39 he stole 66 bases still. He had over 1,400 stolen bases, and had 2,295 career runs. He is the best stolen base man in the game. He won three Silver Sluggers, and two World Series titles. Henderson also found himself at ten all-star games.
38. Rod Carew
#38: Rod Carew was a hit machine, with a career .328/.393/.429 slashing line. He was an 18-time all-star, and was one of the highlight second basemen during this era. Carew also had seven batting titles, and over 3,000 hits.
39. Pedro Martinez
#39: Pedro Martinez was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during the 1990’s. He won the Cy Young three times, and also had five ERA titles. He was also on the 2004 World Series team that broke the curse. With over 3,000 strikeouts and 200 wins, Martinez was an easy Hall of Famer.
40. Yogi Berra
#40: Hard to top Yogi Berra’s career for a player, but he stands out as one of the best to play the position. He was a part of those elite Yankees teams during the 50s. He won ten World Series titles, and had a career .830 OPS. Berra is a legend on all fronts.
41. Eddie Collins
#41: Eddie Collins racked up 3,315 hits in his career, and while he will never go noticed to some, he was one of the best second basemen to play the game. Collins won four World Series, and an MVP award in 1914. He had a lengthy 25 year career, with a .424 OBP.
42. Derek Jeter
#42: A modern day Yankee legend, Derek Jeter led this Yankees club to five World Series titles. He had over 3,000 hits, and made some iconic plays defensively. Jeter won five Gold Glove awards, and was a 14-time all-star.
43. Cal Ripken Jr.
#43: Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr was the most durable player to play the game. He played 2,632 consecutive games. Ripken was one of the few who had a Rookie of the Year award and MVP award in consecutive years. He was on that 1983 World Series team, and was a 19-time all-star.
44. Steve Carlton
#44: Steve Carlton won 329 games in his career, and had a 3.22 ERA. Carlton was an elite arm, who finished with four Cy Young awards. He pitched a long 24 seasons in his career, and tallied up over 4,000 punch-outs.
45. Eddie Murray
#45: Eddie Murray cracks the list here with over 3,000 hits in his career. Murray also had 504 home runs, putting him in an elite list. He was also a Gold Glover three times. Murray was one of the best to do it, and brought Baltimore a World Series in 1983. The all-around nature to Murray’s game has him inside the top 50.
46. Alex Rodriguez
#46: While Alex Rodriguez is one of the few names that will deal with the steroid scandal, there is no denying he is a top 50 player in baseball history. He finished with 696 home runs, and over 3,000 hits. He was a 14-time all-star and three-time MVP.
47. Reggie Jackson
#47: Reggie Jackson would fit very well into the modern day game, given he has a ton of power, but a ton of strikeouts as well. Jackson is one of the top power hitters in the game, and of course was a clutch playoff performer as well. He finished with 563 ca-reer home runs, and over 1,500 RBI.
48. George Brett
#48: George Brett is up there at the third base position. He finished with over 3,000 hits, and had a career .857 OPS. Brett was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and won a a World Series in 1985. He is also a special player for sticking with one franchise for over 20 years.
49. Hank Greenberg
#49: Hank Greenberg was one of the few players who missed time to fight in WWII. Greenberg was a big time power bat and had a career .605 slugging percentage. In 1938 he had 58 HR, and in 1837 he had 184 RBI. If you were on base, Greenberg was driving you in.
50. Carl Yastrezemski
#50: Carl Yastrezemski had over 3,000 hits in his career, and 452 career home runs. He was an 18-time all-star, and seven time Gold Glove winner. Yastrezemski won a Triple Crown and MVP in the same season, which was in the midst of his prime seasons.
Who Is The Best Hitter Of All-Time?
Ted Williams hit .344 in his career and had a season where he hit over .400. Williams went down as a six-time batting champion and also would have had 3,000 hits if it wasn’t for his time in the war.
Who Is The Best Home Run Hitter Of All-Time?
Barry Bonds is the home run king and the best home run hitter of all-time. He of course had his historic 73 home runs, but was consistent with his power year in and year out. He also did it at a tough home stadium in San Francisco.
Who Is The Best Pitcher Of All-Time?
Walter Johnson is the best pitcher of all-time, but this is always a subjective question because of different eras. He had five ERA titles and over 400 wins. He also had just a career ERA of 2.17.
Who Is The Best Closer Of All-Time?
Mariano Rivera is the best closer of all-time. He was lights out in the postseason and one of the most consistent relievers the game has seen. Rivera had his notorious cutter that made it tough for opposing hitters.
Who Is The Best Player In Baseball Today?
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball today and currently on pace to be one of the best players of all-time. He is a mix of power and speed, but his vision at the plate is what sets him apart from the rest of the league.
What Is The Steroid Era?
The steroid era refers to a period during the late 90s and early 2000s where steroids were widely used. Testing was minimal and the banned list did not include much of what it does today.