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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Friday, January 28, 2005
 
Number 146: Roy Halladay.

He was Toronto's first-round pick in the 1995 draft, came up for two starts at the end of 1998, spent the next three years establishing himself, and in 2002 took his place as one of the best pitchers in the game. He won a Cy Young for Toronto, and pitched well for years, but the Blue Jays never sniffed the postseason. So, after 2009 he was dealt to Philadelphia and won the NL Cy Young in 2010. Then he threw a no-hitter in the Division Series. That's some serious stuff.

Halladay has earned 152.33 ratings points through 2010.

Halladay's stats (through 2010): 173-87 record, 3.30 ERA, 1761 strikeouts.


 
Number 145: Ted Simmons

Known as "Simba," both a play on his last name and a reference to his long, flowing locks, Simmons was an offense-first catcher who is deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame. He was a 1st round draft choice of the Cardinals in 1967, and made it to the majors for a cup of coffee in 1968, going 1 for 3 at age 18. He appeared briefly again in 1969, this time with a 3 for 14 mark. He got the regular job halfway through 1970, batting .243 in 82 games, then made it big in 1971 with a .304 average. The next year brought a .303 average and 16 HR, and Simmons was established as a star. It was his misfortune to toil in the shadow of his contemporary Johnny Bench, who made a lot of catchers look bad in comparison.

Simmons was an adequate defensive catcher, and a top-rank hitter. A .300 average with 20 HR was typical, in an era with fairly low offense. He was an 8-time all-star, though he never led the league in anything but intentional walks (twice) and grounding into double plays (once). A switch-hitter, Simmons was dangerous against all types of pitching. He never made the postseason as a Cardinal, the 1970s being a down period for the franchise.

In 1980 Whitey Herzog took over the Cardinals, and as the story is told he approached Simmons, the acknowledged team leader, and asked him to move to first base so that a better defensive catcher could be inserted. Simmons refused. Herzog then set out to trade Simmons, and swapped him to the Brewers with Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich for four players.

The deal helped both teams, as the Cardinals would win three pennants in the 1980s, and the Brewers made their only World Series appearance in 1982. He batted only .216 in 1981, though Milwaukee went to the playoffs anyway, but improved to .269 for 1982 as the Brewers got all the way to Game 7 against...the Cardinals! Simmons played with Milwaukee through 1985, then was traded to the Braves for Rick Cerone and became a bench player, as the Braves developed the team that would make a string of postseason appearances. Simmons went on to a front office career.

Simmons earned 152.43 ratings points.

Simmons' stats: .285 average, 248 HR, 1389 RBI, 483 doubles, 2472 hits.


Thursday, January 27, 2005
 
Number 144: Sal Bando.

Bando was a sixth-round choice by the A's in the very first draft, the 1965 edition. He was part of the parade of young players that would take the franchise to the top in Oakland. Bando became a regular in 1968, the team's first year in Oakland, and became a star in 1969 with a .281 average, 31 HR and 113 RBI. Bando did not hit for a great average, and the 1960s and 1970s were not a good time for offense, but he hit for good power and drew lots of walks. He also played solid defense.

Like most of the Swingin' A's, he left as a free agent as soon as possible, signing with Milwaukee for 1977. His career was on the downhill by then, but at least he got to make a little money. Bando had a second place, third place, and fourth place in MVP voting, which is a fair estimate of his value.

Bando earned 152.73 ratings points.

Bando's stats: .253 average, 242 HR, 1039 RBI, 1031 BB, 119 OPS+.


Monday, January 24, 2005
 
Number 143: Alan Trammell.

Trammell and Lou Whitaker came up through the Tigers' farm system together, and remained a twosome during their careers. Whitaker was the slow and steady type, while Trammell had peaks and valleys. Trammell debuted in 1977, playing 19 games and hitting .177. In 1978 he became the regular, and hit .268. Trammell played good defense, hit decently with a bit of power, and drew some walks. He hit .300 in 1980 at age 22.

In 1983, at age 25, he took a step forward. He batted .319 with 14 homers and also established a new high with 30 steals. His 1984 season was a big part of the Tigers' win in the World Series, and he won the WS MVP. That was also the end of his string of four Gold Gloves in five years. In 1985 he slumped, and improved a bit in 1986.

Then in 1987, Trammell had a season for the ages. He deserved the MVP, batting .343 with 28 HR and 105 RBI. The Tigers won the division again, but dropped the ALCS. It was Trammell's last postseason appearance, although he continued with the Tigers until 1996, playing his last couple of years as a part-time player. He could be a streaky hitter, but he was a key part of some fine teams.

Trammell earned 153.41 ratings points.

Trammell's stats: .285 average, 185 HR, 1003 RBI, 1231 runs, 236 SB, 2365 hits.


Sunday, January 23, 2005
 
Number 142: Sam Crawford.

Crawford, a Nebraska native (from Wahoo, NE, hence the nickname Wahoo Sam) signed with Cincinnati at just 19, playing 31 games and batting .301 in 1899. After 3 more years in Cincy, Crawford jumped to Detroit in the new American League in 1903. He was already established by then as a slugger, and was on his way to the all-time career record in triples. He continued pounding the ball in Detroit, and was a .300 hitter even in the dead-ball era.

Long-time teammate of Ty Cobb, Crawford played in three World Series 1907-09. He led the league in triples six times but not too many other categories: doubles once, total bases twice, runs once, RBI three times. He was never what you would call the best player in the league. What he was, was a consistent and dependable hitter who is also high on career lists for RBI, hits, and total bases. He was a good defensive outfielder, usually in RF.

Crawford earned 153.42 ratings points.

Crawford's stats: .309 average, 2961 hits, 309 triples, 1525 RBI.


 
Number 141: Richie Ashburn

Ashburn was a fast, slender guy from Nebraska who came to Philadelphia and ran down the fly balls Robin Roberts gave up to lead both of them to success. He was overlooked behind fellow NL center fielders Willie Mays and Duke Snider, as well as Mickey Mantle, but Ashburn was the best leadoff man of his time, and a terrific center fielder. He joined the Phillies in 1948 at age 21, and set a precedent by batting .333 that rookie year. Ashburn was not just a .300 hitter but also drew 100 walks a year. He was part of the "Whiz Kids" team that won the 1950 pennant, but lost the World Series.

That was the only year Ashburn made the postseason, and with the wealth of CF he only made 5 All-Star teams. He won two batting titles, led the league in hits three times, walks four times, and on-base average four times. After 1959 he was traded to the Cubs for three players, and stayed there three years. The expansion Mets bought his contract for their first season, and he was their best player by far, hitting .306 for a 120-loss team. He retired after that season, still only 35 but not at his peak anymore.

Ashburn earned 153.5 ratings points.

Ashburn's stats: .308 average, 2574 hits, 1322 runs, .396 on-base.