Who is the best baseball player of all time

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    • inner circle of the hall of fame. the best player in the game today. a couple of superstars contaminated with ped. our ranking of the top 100 mlb players of all time boils down to the top 25.

      Dozens of espn writers and editors submitted more than 20,000 votes (see full methodology here) to determine the final order. So who’s too tall? Too low? fair?

      Let the debate continue!

      the list: 100-51 | 50-26 | 25-1

      key links: full rankings |snubs | debating our picks

      doolittle: the difficult case of oscar charleston

      olney: which current stars are destined to join the list?

      25. christy mathewson

      Team(s): New York Giants (1900-16), Cincinnati Reds (1916)

      stats: 373-188, 2.13 era, 2507 so, 4788 ip, 106.5 bwar

      • mlb’s top 100 players of all time: who made the top half of our list?

      • Top 100 MLB players of all time - Nos. 25-1

        Top 100 MLB players of all time: Jeter or A-Rod? Ryan or Koufax? Ranking Nos. 50-26

      • Top 100 MLB players of all time - Nos. 25-1

        Top 100 MLB players of all time

        main position: starting pitcher

        What he’s best known for: The most admired star of the first two decades of 20th century baseball, Mathewson’s three shutouts in a span of five days in 1905 remains one of the world’s most heroic deeds. series history. he won 30 games four times, led the national league five times in era and strikeouts, and was one of the original five inductees into the hall of fame in 1936. mathewson relied on impeccable control and a pitch he called “fadeaway,” that some say it was wacko, while others suggest it might have been more of a modern day turnaround. “Matty was the master of them all,” reads his Hall of Fame plaque. – David Schoenfield

        24. randy johnson

        team(s): montrealexpos (1988-89), seattle mariners (1989-1998), houston astros (1998), arizona diamondbacks (1999-2004, 2007-08), new york Yankees (2005-06), San Francisco Giants (2009)

        stats: 303-166, 3.29 era, 4875 so, 4135 1/3 ip, 101.1 bwar

        main position: starting pitcher

        What he is best known for: The “big unit” was to lefties what Nolan Ryan was to righties. After a slow start to his career, the 6-foot-10 Johnson took advantage of his command and was off for the next two decades. of his 303 wins, 293 came after his 25-year-old season. Johnson won his league strikeout crown nine times, including two different streaks of four in a row. During the last leg, he won four consecutive Cy Young Awards, giving him five in all.

        Perhaps the best expressions of Johnson’s dominance came during a pair of All-Star matchups with left-handed stars. In 1993, his uncontrolled throwing of him onto John Kruk’s head caused Kruk to feign heart palpitations as the dugout erupted in laughter; After that, Kruk didn’t go near the plate and struck out. In 1997, Larry Walker flipped his batting helmet and shifted to the right side of home plate after seeing a pitch from Johnson. It was all a lot of fun, but also an indication of how fearsome Johnson seemed to anyone who stepped into the batter’s box against him. -bradford doolittle

        23. ricky henderson

        We defend the worst trades in mlb history.

        bradford doolittle

        main position: starting pitcher

        What he’s best known for: Martinez was listed, handsomely, at 5-11, 170 pounds, but he used a big fastball and a hellish changeup to lead the league in strikeouts three times and in it was five times. His two best years, 1999 and 2000, came at the height of one of the highest-scoring eras in history. Martinez won the Cy Young Award after both seasons, combining for an era of 1.90 in 430 1/3 innings. the major league average in that stretch: 4.62. In 2000, he posted an era plus of 291, an adjusted statistic that takes into account ballparks and era, with an average of 100, which stands as the best since at least 1893. -Alden Gonzalez

        10. they are musical

        team(s): st. Louis Cardinals (1941-63)

        Stats: .331/.417/.559, 475 hrs, 1,951 RBIs, 3,630 hrs, 128.7 bwar

        Primary position: left field/right field/first base

        What he’s best known for: “I could have hit .300 with a fountain pen,” joe garagiola joked. and hitting .300 is what he did musically year after year. he topped the mark in each of his first 17 major league seasons, winning seven batting titles. the 1948 MVP season (his third MVP award) is one of the best ever: .376/.450/.702, 39 home runs, 18 triples, 46 doubles (that’s 103 extra-base hits ). He is second all-time in total bases, third in runs created (behind Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth), and in the top 10 in many other categories. he struck from a stooped, awkward-looking stance, but it worked: he was the man. – David Schoenfield

        9. walter johnson

        Team(s): Washington Senators (1907-27)

        stats: 417-279, 2.17 era, 3509 so, 5914 1/3 innings, 164.8 bwar

        main position: starting pitcher

        For what he is best known:contemporary johnson ping bodie said of johnson’s things, “you can’t hit what you can’t see.” it’s hard to say there’s a consensus on who should hold the title of “greatest pitcher of all time.” however, it would be impossible to have that discussion without the “big train” at the center of it. Estimates of how hard Johnson threw are all over the place, but we can safely say that at least during his time he was off the charts. at speed, he can add a side hit, almost under the arm, and hitters of his day didn’t stand a chance. today’s hitters won’t fare much better against peak johnson. the numbers he compiled are staggering. Perhaps the most illustrative of Johnson’s dominance is his 110 shutouts, 20 more than any other pitcher. -bradford doolittle

        8. barry bonds

        Team(s): Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92), San Francisco Giants (1993-2007)

        stats: .298/.444/.607, 762h, 2935h, 2558bb, 162.7bwar

        main position: left field

        Why he’s best known: There may not be a more polarizing figure in the modern era of baseball than Barry Lamar Bonds. he was a five-tool, hall-of-fame-caliber outfielder even before his neck widened and his numbers swelled, posting a .981 operating average while averaging 33 home runs and 34 stolen bases en route to three mvps. from 1987 to 1998. Bond then became superhuman after supposedly starting to use peds. broke the record for home runs in a single season, surpassed hank aaron to become baseball’s new home run king, and posted these numbers from 2001 to 2004, his ages 36 to 39 seasons: 1,368 ops (292 points higher than the runner-up), 209 home runs (17 more than the runner-up), 755 walks (307 more than the runner-up). – alden gonzalez

        7. mickey cloak

        team(s): new york yankees (1951-68)

        stats: .298/.421/.557, 536 hrs, 1509 runs, 2415 hrs, 110.2 bwar

        main position: center field

        What it’s best known for: It was the center of the baseball universe, when New York ruled the baseball world and the Yankees ruled baseball. he combined impressive raw power from both sides of the plate — did he really hit a 565-foot home run? – with breakneck speed, at least until his knees gave out. he won a triple crown in 1956 and won three mvp awards, and frankly could have won a few more (he led the al nine times in offensive war). he hit 18 home runs in the world series. Let’s see if someone breaks that record. When asked if he came up to the plate trying to hit home runs, Mantle said, “Yeah, every time.” – David Schoenfield

        6. lou gehrig

        team(s): new york yankees (1923-39)

        stats: .340/.447/.632, 493 hrs, 1995 runs, 2721 hrs, 113.7 bwar

        main position: first base

        Why he is best known: Society remembers Gehrig for the disease that took his life and bears his name, and for the courage he showed in facing it. From a strictly baseball point of view, the “iron horse” is remembered as a constant, a player who appeared every day and produced at a level that few have. His legendary 2,130-game streak is his most-cited stat and is the number responsible for turning the name of poor Wally Pipp, Gehrig’s predecessor with the Yankees, into a verb. The yin to Babe Ruth’s yang, Gehrig was perhaps the best rbi man in baseball. his 1995 ribbies rank seventh all-time despite the abrupt end of his career. -bradford doolittle

        5. ted williams

        team(s): boston red sox (1939-42, 1946-60)

        Stats: .344/.482/.634, 521hrs, 1839rbi, 2654hrs, 122.1bwar

        main position: left field

        What he’s best known for: Williams was probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, largely due to the astronomical numbers he put up, but also because of how he revolutionized the approach to hitting. His book, “The Science of Hitting,” came out in 1970 and is still frequently referenced today, preaching modern concepts like swinging off a light hook, letting the hips lead, and focusing on the balls. of the strike zone where batters can hit. do the most damage. Williams has the highest on-base percentage in baseball history and is the last hitter to reach a .400 batting average. at 39 and 40, in 1957 and 1958, he won the AL batting title. and his career totals might have been even higher if he hadn’t missed three major seasons to serve in World War II. – alden gonzalez

        4. Ty Cobb

        Team(s): Detroit Tigers (1905-26), Philadelphia Athletics (1927-28)

        Stats: .366/.433/.512, 117 hrs, 1,944 RBIs, 4,189 hrs, 151.5 bwar

        main position: center field

        Why he’s best known: In an era when batting average was king supreme, Cobb was the best of them all: won a record 12 batting titles, hit .400 three times and finished with the highest career average in mlb history. he played a game where you had to be smarter than the opponent, not faster. Nearly 100 years since he played his last game, Cobb’s image lives on: the razor-sharp quills, the aggression, the fiery temper. Through the years, it became difficult to separate fact from fiction. “Everyone was against me,” Cobb wrote in his autobiography. “But I hit the bastards and left them in the ditch.” Babe Ruth put it this way: “Cobb is a p-k. But he sure can hit. God almighty, that man can hit.” – David Schoenfield

        3. hank aaron

        Team(s): Negro Leagues (1951, Indianapolis Clowns), Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1954-74), Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76)

        Stats: .305/.374/.555, 755 hrs, 2,297 runs, 3,771 hrs, 143.1 bwar

        main position: right field

        for which it is best known: 7-5-5. Even today, if you ask a lifelong baseball fan how many home runs Aaron hit, chances are he can tell you. You ask how many Barry Bonds they hit, and they may have to whip out their smartphone. When Aaron’s quest for Babe Ruth’s career home run record culminated in No. 715 on April 8, 1974, was an iconic event in American history. And yet Aaron wasn’t really a home run hitter. he was a great hitter, period, as evidenced by his .305 career average and 3,771 hits. aaron’s 2,297 rbis remains his career high, one that will probably be safe for a long time. when aaron died a little over a year ago, he was even more praised for his presence off the field. And few did more on the field than Henry Aaron. -bradford doolittle

        2. willie mays

        Team(s): Negro Leagues (1948, Birmingham Black Barons), New York/San Francisco Giants (1951-52, 1954-72), New York Mets (1972- 73)

        Stats: .301/.384/.557, 660 hrs, 1909 runs, 3293 hrs, 156.1 bwar

        main position: center field

        What he’s best known for: For playing shallow center field on a cavernous polo field, running to the center field fence, and catching an overhand basket on the track of warning. With the score tied at the end of Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. It’s a play known simply as “The Catch,” and it epitomized Mays: athleticism, grace, wit. Mays won 12 Gold Gloves, but he was also an elite hitter, averaging 40 home runs per season from 1954 to 1966. And he ran with the best, leading the majors in stolen bases for four straight years from 1956 to 1959. His unrivaled collection of skills made him the greatest center fielder who ever lived. – alden gonzalez

        1. baby ruth

        Team(s): Boston Red Sox (1914-19), New York Yankees (1920-34), Boston Braves (1935)


        as a hitter: .342/.474/.690, 714 hrs, 2,214 rbi, 2,873 hrs, 162.7 bwar

        as pitcher: 94-46, 2.28 era, 488 so, 1,221 ip, 20.4 bwar

        main position: right field/left field

        What he is best known for: home runs. The baseball we see today is Babe Ruth’s game. Many players make an impact, some become folk heroes, but no one changed a sport like Ruth did when he joined the Yankees and transformed baseball into a power game. no player dominated his era like ruth. he led his league in home runs 12 times, often out-homering entire teams, and 13 times in slugging and operations. he slugged .690 … for his career. he slugged .744 in 41 world series games. he won all three of his world series starts as a pitcher, one of them going 14 innings. he called the shot at him. or maybe he didn’t. does it matter? – David Schoenfield

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