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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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
Number 124: Don Drysdale

Drysdale may be the most famous #2 man in baseball history, playing Watson to Sandy Koufax's Sherlock Holmes. Drysdale actually made the big time first, and lasted longer, although his career ended early too.

Drysdale was a hard thrower with a sidearm delivery and a reputation as a headhunter, a guy who would throw at hitters. A lot of guys about this time had this rep, earned or not. Drysdale had 154 career HBP, 11th in history, and led the league five times, which supports the theory.

Drysdale arrived in the majors in 1956, and spent his entire career with the Dodgers. Just 19, he went 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA that year. 1957 was the Dodgers' last year in Brooklyn, and the big righty established himself as a regular starter with a 17-9 record. He struggled a bit with the team's move to the L.A. Coliseum, but went 17-13 as the top starter in the surprise championship year of 1959. He also won Game 3 of the World Series.

Drysdale won the Cy Young Award in 1962 with his career high in wins, 25. The Dodgers began making it a habit to win the pennant, and he posted a 3-3 record in World Series games, as the team won twice more. He also set a record in 1968 for consecutive shutout innings pitched. But his arm, like Koufax's, began to bother him, and he pitched only 12 games in 1969 before leaving the game as a player. His career ERA was helped by Dodger Stadium and the low offensive levels of the 1960s, but he was a fine pitcher on a lot of winning teams.

Drysdale earned 158.84 ratings points.

Drysdale's stats: 209-166 record, 2.95 ERA, 2486 K, 49 shutouts.