Rating the Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

My rankings of the greatest baseball players ever, starting with number 1, in order.

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Saturday, April 03, 2004
 
Number 99: Paul Waner

He was "Big Poison," even though he wasn't very big. He was at least bigger than his brother Lloyd. He was also a top defensive right fielder, and a dangerous line drive hitter, playing many years for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also a drinking man of no small repute.

Waner joined the Pirates in 1926, at age 23. He went right into the lineup and batted .336 with 65 extra-base hits his rookie year. The next year Waner batted .380 as the Pirates won the pennant, and Paul won the MVP. It was to be his highest average, and his only World Series. He continued hitting the same way for many years, with averages over .300, on-base averages typically over .400, and slugging averages often over .500. This was a hitter's era, but Waner was among the best. He didn't hit a lot of home runs in large Forbes Field, but hit lots of doubles and triples. He drew plenty of walks and rarely struck out, and when the All-Star Game started he was a regular face there. He was 2nd in the MVP race in 1934, but in 1938 began to wind down at age 35. In 1940 he became a part-time player, and went to Boston and Brooklyn at the end of his career. He continued slashing line drives to the end.

Waner earned 167.43 ratings points.

Waner's stats: .333 average, 3152 hits, 1309 RBI, 1627 runs, 605 doubles, 191 triples, .404 OBA, .476 SLG.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
Number 98: Harmon Killebrew.

"The Killer" debuted with the Washington Senators in 1954 at age 18. He was a "bonus baby," and according to the rules of the time had to spend the next couple years on the big league roster. Killebrew took up a roster spot but didn't play much for several years. He was a 2B at the start, but started gaining muscle and shortly became a 3B.

It was in 1959, at age 23, that Killebrew became a regular in D.C., playing 3B and hitting 42 HR with 105 RBI on a poor team. He bounced back and forth between the hot corner, 1B, and LF over the next few years, continuing to hit for power. His average was around the .260 range, as high as .288, with about 100 walks a year.

The Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961, and Killebrew continued slugging. He was #3 in the 1962 MVP voting, hitting 48 HR and 126 RBI despite a .243 average. The Twins won the pennant and got to Game 7 of the World Series in 1965 although Killebrew was in just 113 games due to an injury. He batted .286 in the Series. The Twins were contenders through the second half of the 1960s, and Killebrew was the dangerous cleanup hitter. He was hurting again in 1968, then won the MVP in 1969 as the Twins won the new AL West and Killebrew hit 49 HR and drove in 140 runs. His decline started in 1972 when he was 36, and started losing the quickness in his bat. He started DHing the last couple years of his career, and spent 1975, his final year, in Kansas City.

He was never a very good defensive player, but was willing to play wherever asked for the good of the team. He didn't hit for a high average, but he drew a lot of walks and was a slugger of the first order. He led (or tied for the lead) in home runs six times. He never led the league in OPS+ but was in the top 10 ten times. By all accounts he is one of the game's great gentlemen.

Killebrew earned 167.72 ratings points.

Killebrew's stats: 573 HR, 1584 RBI, .509 slugging, 2086 hits.


 
Number 97: George Davis

He debuted in Cleveland in 1890, at age 19. He played CF for two years, then 3B, and did a good job with the bat but not exceptional. After 1893 he went to New York, teaming up with veteran John M. Ward, whom he strongly resembled. Perhaps the old pro tutored him, but Davis became a .350 hitter in New York. The general uptick in offense also happened at about the same time, which probably had a lot to do with it. Davis also moved to shortstop in 1897, and continued to anchor the Giants' lineup. He led the league in RBI in 1897.

When the American League started up, Davis was interested. He jumped to Chicago for 1902. Legal wrangling ensued, and Davis played briefly with NL's New York in 1903, but ended up back in the AL with Chicago in 1904. That was the "Hitless Wonders" team, and they won the pennant in 1906, then took the World Series, with Davis as shortstop and cleanup hitter. He was 35 that year. Davis played regularly through 1908, then briefly in 1909. He played in both the high-offense 1890s and the dead-ball 1900s. He was one of the best players in baseball for about 15 years.

Davis earned 168.31 ratings points.

Davis' stats: .295 average, 2660 hits, 451 doubles, 163 triples, 1539 runs.