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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Monday, April 19, 2004
 
After completing a top 100, I wanted to do some fun stuff before continuing. I like arranging lineups out of teams of players (symptom of an old Strat-O-Matic player, I guess). So, here is a lineup of the players ranked #1 at their positions:
Collins, 2B
Mays, CF
Ruth, RF
Williams, LF
Gehrig, 1B
Wagner, SS
Schmidt, 3B
Bench, C
Johnson, P
That puts three lefty hitters together, with three righties up behind them, but with these guys that shouldn't matter much. I kind of hated to break up the symmetry of Ruth and Gehrig back-to-back, but The Splinter belongs in there. In the bullpen is Hoyt Wilhelm.

Like that? How about the team of #2 guys:
Boggs, 3B
Cobb, CF
Aaron, RF
Bonds, LF
Foxx, 1B
Lajoie, 2B
Ripken, SS
Carter, C
Young, P
Wonder how Ty would react to being flanked in the outfield by those two. Interesting team dynamic. Goose Gossage is the reliever here.

If you like that, here's the #3 team:
Morgan, 2B
Speaker, CF
Musial, LF
Connor, 1B
Ott, RF
Mathews, 3B
Berra, C
Vaughan, SS
Clemens, P
Any of these three teams could beat the others. The differences wouldn't show up unless many games were played.

Here's Team #4:
Henderson, LF
Brett, 3B
Hornsby, 2B
Mantle, CF
F. Robinson, RF
Mize, 1B
Banks, SS
Dickey, C
Spahn, P
Still a darn good team. Win the pennant 15 years in a row, if you had them with careers coincided.

Still working with all Top 100 players, here's Team #5:
Gehringer, 2B
Rodriguez, SS
DiMaggio, CF
Greenberg, 1B
Yastrzemski, LF
Clemente, RF
Santo, 3B
Fisk, C
Maddux, P
Gehringer is not really a leadoff man, but sometimes you bow to the needs of the team. No one else is either. Still a great team, but clearly not of the same level as the #1 or even #2 team. We even have a non-Hall of Famer, Santo, although he is deserving.

The last all-Top 100 team is Team #6:
Rose, LF
Appling, SS
Robinson, 2B
Bagwell, 1B
Kaline, RF
Griffey, CF
Evans, 3B
Rodriguez, C
Mathewson, P
I'll take that team any time.

A different type of lineup game is to pick the best leadoff hitter, best #2 hitter, and so on. That's harder, if you use the rule that the player must have normally batted in that lineup spot. When I first heard about Rob Neyer's Lineups book, that's what I thought he was doing, and I thought that would be very interesting. It would also be very hard, because the best hitters always hit #3 or #4, as a rule. Good hitters don't bat #6 or #7 for any length of time.
#1 Rickey Henderson
#2 Joe Morgan
#3 Babe Ruth
#4 Hank Aaron
After that, it's pretty tough. Ruth trumps almost everybody, because most of the greatest players batted #3 for most of their careers. I mean, Johnny Bench batted #6 at times, but for most of his career he was a cleanup hitter.