There is no game like baseball so in effect there is no list of athletes that can touch this one. I have decided to limit these rankings to retired players, figuring that those are the guys who have given their all to the sport and deserve to be placed above those still receiving an annual paycheck. As far as the steroid era goes, those players are certainly eligible, I don’t believe in keeping them out of the Hall of Fame or disregarding them from baseball’s pool of greats because they played in a gridlocked era where pitchers and hitters were both making themselves substantially stronger.
I am also far from a “sabermetrician.” I believe that the game of baseball is as simple as it was in its humble beginnings more than a century ago, and while we are offered statistical anomalies on a nightly basis there is nothing that can measure true success like on field victories and standard statistics. If you can find holes in my rankings with your math equations, more power to you, I will never be on your level.
It was hard to place pitchers amongst hitters on this list because the stats are not comparable, and the magnitude of the effects of each are certainly disputable. Modern day pitchers throw every five games, however a lot of guys on this list threw so much more; oh how the times have changed. Nonetheless, I fully understand the influence that a dynamic arm can have on a season and placed 14 pitchers on this list with that very understanding in mind. No relievers appeared on this list, because Mariano Rivera has yet to hang it up.
With all that being said, here are my Top 50 Baseball Players of All-Time; enjoy, and please, please, debate.
Stoop Sports will release five players at a time from this list to lead you into the MLB season. Here are players 30 through 26.
30. Frank Robinson
Statistically, Frank Robinson had an incredible career. With that being said, solely defining him by his accolades can do his entire career justice. In 1956, he was an all-star selection and won the NL Rookie of the Year Award with the Cincinnati Reds. He would go on to win the NL MVP Award with the Reds in 1961, hitting for a .323 average, 37 home runs and 124 RBIs. After moving to Baltimore for the 1966 season, Robinson hit for the Triple Crown that year (49,122, .316), and became the first player ever to win the MVP in both leagues. His final career stats are also impressive; a .294 average, 586 home runs that rank him ninth all-time, and 1812 RBIs.
29. Rod Carew
Playing his entire career in the American League with the California Angles and Minnesota Twins, Carew established himself as one of the best table setters in league history with one blaring deficiency; lack of speed. But he didn’t need it. That’s how good he was at consistently reaching base and hitting situationally at the top of any order. Carew won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1967, and the AL MVP in 1977, hitting for an astounding .388 average while leading the league with 239 hits. Carew finished his career with 3053 hits, and a 162-game average of 200 hits throughout his 19-year career.
28. Cap Anson
In baseball history, Cap Anson is best known for being a radical racist and while there is nothing good about that, he sure could hit a baseball. Anson only hit 97 home runs in his career but his 2075 RBIs ranks him fourth all-time, a large testimony to his clutch hitting ability. The obvious argument against Anson is that he played in a weak era of baseball, and that his stats are inflated because he played for 27 seasons. But what he did year-to-year cannot be denied. Over a ten year period from 1881 to 1890 Anson hit for averages of .399, .362, .308, .335, .310, .371, .347, .344, .342 and .312. Say what you want about the era this man played in, he was a pure model of consistency. He is also sixth all-time in career hits with 3435.
27. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle holds two very important titles in baseball history; the best post season hitter of all-time, and the best switch hitter of all-time. With those in his back pocket, Mantle won back-to-back MVP awards in 1956 and ’57 (hit for the Triple Crown in ’56), and won a third MVP in 1962 along with the only Gold Glove award of his career. In 18 seasons, all with the Yankees, Mantle hit 536 home runs, scored 113 runs a season, and had a very respectable .298 batting average.
26. Tom Seaver
New York Mets fans cannot gloat about too many former players, but Tom Seaver is one that they can certainly claim. Seaver won three NL Cy Young awards in 1969, ’73 and ’75, and finished with a remarkably low 1.76 ERA in ’71. Over the course of his career he had a 25-win season and a 22-win season, and at age 36 finished the 1981 season with a 14-2 record, good for an .875 winning percentage. He is 18th all-time in career wins with 311, 7th all-time with 61 career shutouts, and sixth all-time with 3640 career strikeouts.