The title of this column hopefully captured your attention. This column was sparked after reading in the Dec. 24 edition of “ESPN The Magazine,” a column titled Hall of 100.
The column collected opinions from baseball writers and so-called pundits on the top 100 baseball players of all time. The problem is it was only partially right. Now for the right answers.
Here are the top 20 players listed, in alphabetical order: Aaron, ARod, Bonds, Clemens, Cobb, Gehrig, Rickey Henderson, Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Maddux, Mantle, Mays, Morgan, Musial, Pujols, Ruth, Schmidt, Wagner, Ted Williams, and Cy Young.
Now for my top 20. (ESPN’s ranking)
20. Ozzie Smith (60) 19. Pete Rose (37) 18. Nolan Ryan (35) 17. Christy Mathewson (29) 16. Mickey Mantle (9) 15. Rickey Henderson (14) 14. Mike Schmidt (16)
13. Roger Clemens (7) 12. Rogers Hornsby (15) 11. Honus Wagner (10) 10. Stan Musial (8) 9. Lou Gehrig (11) 8. Cy Young (17) 7. Ty Cobb (6) 6. Barry Bonds (3) 5. Walter Johnson (12) 4. Willie Mays (2) 3. Henry Aaron (5) 2. Ted Williams (4) 1. Babe Ruth (1)
Ozzie Smith made my list because he’s my favorite player of all-time. Pete Rose isn’t an angel, but on the field, who can argue the impact he had on games? Nolan Ryan was a strikeout machine, pitched tons of innings each year, and was injury free. Ryan never had to be babied with pitch counts, either. Mathewson is a pitcher from the past, and doesn’t get the credit he’s due. I placed Mantle lower, because based on statistics, I didn’t see him as being that much better than his peers. No emotion, no attachment to Mantle Fever for me. Henderson and Schmidt are ranked where they should be – great offensive forces.
Roger Clemens fell on my list. Nothing personal, Roger, but you aren’t the top pitcher in baseball history. Hornsby and Wagner legends, and would be fantasy baseball studs if they played now. Stan Musial is a rare player, one who was well respected and admired, had great stats, and played for one team, my Cardinals. The Iron Horse perhaps deserves a higher ranking, but is edged out by Young and Cobb. Young is much higher on my list, and I have 511 reasons. 511 career victories, that is. Think about it. Even though baseball is so watered down now, a pitcher would have to average 20 victories for 20 years, and would still be far short of Young. Ty Cobb was hated by peers, sportswriters, and fans yet was respected for his effort and his stats.
Barry Bonds has the numbers to warrant his placement. Yes, some of his numbers are tainted, but he had incredible numbers even before it is believed he began taking PED’s.
The Big Train Walter Johnson struck out batters in a time when baseball wasn’t watered down. Willie Mays was a true complete player. Hank Aaron is all class, and perhaps should be number two. I placed Teddy Ballgame second because his hitting prowess is legendary. Remember, Williams missed some seasons in his prime while serving his country in Korea.
My number one player is hands down, The Babe. No disrespect to any other player, but any reasonable analysis of statistics and baseball history points to Ruth being at the top.
Note the players the so-called pundits had in the top 20, but I omitted from mine: Greg Maddux(I don’t consider him that much better than Randy Johnson or Tom Seaver), Arod (I don’t really think he’s a better player than Brett, Morgan, or Bench) Morgan, Pujols (he’s likely in my top five by the time he retires, however.)
There you have it, the top 20 baseball players of all time. Now, if you ask me to rank them again, I’ll probably have a different answer. I think.