All Time Greats
This is a top 10 list of the greatest baseball players ever.
1. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth, RF/LHP
Career: 1914-35, Red Sox, Yankees, Braves
Fun fact: 714 homers, two 20-win seasons
There is no doubt that the Babe was the greatest player who ever lived. That doesn't mean he was the greatest person.
Years ago, I was sitting at a picnic table in the Yankees' clubhouse when Pete Sheehy, the ancient clubhouse man, plopped down opposite me. I asked him, "Pete, you knew Ruth -- what was he like?" Pete thought for a moment, and said, "He never flushed the toilet." -- Steve Wulf
I believe that Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player of all time. He could hit like no other and ended up leading his teams to win a total of seven world series!
2. Willie Mays
Willie Mays, CF
Career: 1951-73, Giants, Mets
Fun fact: Played in 24 All-Star Games
Mays, after Babe Ruth, is the greatest player of all time: 660 home runs, 3,283 hits, 1,903 RBIs, 338 stolen bases, 12 Gold Gloves (they weren't awarded before 1957) and he made every All-Star team from 1954-73.
When Mays came to the majors in 1951, no one had ever seen anyone like him. Even now, he remains the greatest combination of power, speed and defense in baseball history. -- Tim Kurkjian
Willie Mays is my second pick due to his outstanding fielding (he won 12 straight gold gloves) paired with an explosive bat behind the plate. His 19 straight All-Star appearances are a testament to the longevity of his greatness!
3. Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds, LF
Career: 1986-2007, Pirates, Giants
Fun fact: Single-season (73) and career (762) home run leader
I don't know for sure what funky vitamins Barry Bonds took or didn't take. I just know the stuff he did on the field still boggles my mind.
In 2004, he reached base 376 times, walked 232 times and was intentionally walked 120 times. In one year. And my favorite Bonds stat: Even with no hits that year, he would've had a higher OBP than the man who led the league in hits. --Jayson Stark
I remember growing hearing about Barry Bonds. If based on Batting alone, Barry Bonds was the greatest player to ever live! He leads the league in home runs in a season and in a career still to this day.
4. Ted Williams
Ted Williams, LF
Career: Red Sox, 1939-60
Fun fact: .344 hitter; zero 200-hit seasons
The Splendid Splinter carried a bat to class in high school and once proclaimed, "A man has to have goals … and that was mine, to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'"
He won six batting titles, led his league 12 times in OBP and nine times in slugging percentage. At 41, he hit .316 and slugged .645. That goal just may have come true. --David Schoenfield
Ted Williams was a great hitter. He won six batting titles and did a tremendous job at getting on base leading the league 12 times in OBP.
5. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron, RF
Career: 1954-76, Braves, Brewers
Fun fact: Most career RBIs (2,297)
He dealt with hate mail, oppressive media scrutiny and the ghost of Babe Ruth en route to setting baseball's career home run record of 755. Along the way, Aaron "expressed no more agitation than a man brushing aside a housefly," wrote Sports Illustrated's Ron Fimrite. Amazingly, Aaron never surpassed 47 homers in a season.
He just kept showing up for work each day, quietly wielding that hammer. --Jerry Crasnick
Hank Aaron built his reputation on his great attitude and great work ethic. He also had a great knack for hitting runners in, leading the league with most career RBIs.
6. Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb, CF
Career: 1905-28, Tigers, Athletics
Fun fact: Highest career average (.366)
While he won't win any "Good Guy" awards, Cobb was one of baseball's greatest, winning 11 batting titles, stealing 897 bases and finishing with a record .366 average.
He was so respected as a player that Cobb received more Hall of Fame votes than Babe Ruth. And he was so disliked as a person that biographer Al Stump said only three people from baseball showed at his funeral. --Jim Caple
Despite being a poor person, Cobb was a great baseball player. He has the highest career BA and also was superb at stealing bases!
7. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens, RHP
Career: 1984-2007, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros
Fun fact: Record seven Cy Youngs
The images flash through your mind: the 20 strikeouts against Seattle, the TV shot of him nervously watching the end of Game 6 in the '86 World Series, the meltdown in the 1990 playoffs, another 20-strikeout game, the dominance in Toronto, finally getting a ring, Game 7 in 2001.
Seven Cy Youngs and 354 wins … then the end. What will you remember? --David Schoenfield
Roger Clemens was the best pitcher to play the game of baseball in my lifetime! He won seven Cy Young awards in his career!
8. Stan Musial
Stan Musial, 1B/OF
Career: 1941-63, Cardinals
Fun fact: 1,815 hits both home and road
The Man led the league in batting seven times, hit 475 home runs, scored nearly as many runs (1,949) as he drove in (1,951), won three MVP awards, and made 20 All-Star Games.
Not bad for a guy who started his career as a pitcher (he was 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA for the Cardinals' Class D team in 1940, his final season on the mound). --Jim Caple
Stan Musial was a pure athlete! He started as a pitcher and transformed to become one of the best hitters in the league and not to mention three MVPs.
9. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle, CF
Career: 1951-68, Yankees
Fun fact: World Series-record 18 homers
Named after Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane, Mantle hit home runs as far as Babe Ruth from both sides of the plate and when young could run like the wind.
He won three MVP Awards and could have won more. He drank too much and his knees went bad, but there's still only one Mick. "All I had was natural ability," he once said. There's no doubt Mantle was born to play ball. --David Schoenfield
Mickey Mantle was a natural born baller. He could crush the ball as well as anyone and so he just had to make the list, despite his drinking issue (plus, he's from Oklahoma).
10. Honus Wagner
Honus Wagner, SS
Career: 1897-1917, Pirates
Fun fact: Eight-time batting champion
The Flying Dutchman -- who is the greatest shortstop ever -- was an eight-time batting champion who hit .328 for his career. Wagner was so good that he actually took the Pirates to the World Series. (Really, you can look it up.)
And if you happen to have his T206 baseball card, you're advised to not clip it to the spokes of your bicycle to make a whirring sound. --Jim Caple