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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Sunday, February 06, 2005
 
Number 150: Red Ruffing

Ruffing began his major league career with Boston in 1924, pitching in 8 games. He continued there for several years as one of the Red Sox top starters, but didn't look like anything special. He was 9-18 in 1925, 10-25 in 1928, with ERAs around the league average or slightly worse. Shortly after the start of the 1930 season, he was traded (basically sold) to the Yankees, and from there took off on a Hall of Fame career. Why the change? One theory is that bad teams, like the Red Sox of the 1920s, often run their best pitchers into the ground. Perhaps, or perhaps he simply picked up with a better team. He was a mainstay for the Yankees through the 1930s, winning 20 games four straight seasons 1936-39, teaming with Lefty Gomez to provide the Yankees rotation anchors. Ruffing was part of six World Championship teams, with a 7-2 World Series record and 2.63 ERA, which boosts his value.

Ruffing was also a good hitter, with a .269 lifetime average. He was not a big dominating pitcher, but a consistent one for a long period of time, and an important part of championship teams.

Ruffing earned 151.68 ratings points.

Ruffing's stats: 273-225, 3.80 ERA, 1987 K, 45 shutouts, 335 CG.


 
Number 149: Hal Newhouser

The usual perception of Newhouser is that he was successful only during World War II, when the "real" ballplayers were all in the military. This is because Newhouser, after three years of losing records, broke out with a 29-9 season in 1944 and followed it up with a 25-9 season in 1945, winning back-to-back MVP awards. It ignores that he was 26-9 in 1046, with the stars back, and continued to be a top pitcher through 1949. He was an all-star every year 1942-48, as even his 8-14 record in 1942 was backed by a 2.45 ERA. About 1950 Newhouser began to have arm trouble, and could no longer take a regular starting turn. He spent 1954 as ace reliever of the AL champion Indians.

His career arc is something like Sandy Koufax's but hasn't received the same attention. He started out struggling, got better, then exploded on the league when something happened--a war in this case, a pitcher's park in Sandy's. Newhouser gets little notice today, but he was a great pitcher for about six years.

Newhouser earned 151.77 ratings points.

Newhouser's stats: 207-150, 3.06 ERA, 212 CG, 33 shutouts, 130 ERA+.


 
Number 148: Larry Doby.

The first African-American player in the American League debuted on July 5, 1947 for Cleveland and was the center fielder for the 1948 world champs and then the 1954 pennant team. A solid defensive center fielder with a good batting average, good power, and lots of walks, he was a very valuable member of some very strong teams.

Doby also became the first major leaguer to spend a season playing in Japan, and was one of the early black managers as well, leading the White Sox in 1978. He was a trail-blazer and a terrific player.

Doby earned 151.98 ratings points.

Doby's stats: .283 average, 253 HR, 970 RBI, 871 BB.