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, February 22, 2005
 
Number 153: Billy Williams

It's tough to be recognized as a great player if you never play in a World Series. It's even tougher if you never win an MVP. Williams never won, but he finished second to Johnny Bench twice, in 1970 and again in 1972. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1961, after two cups of coffee, and got to the playoffs at the end of his career at the end of the Oakland 1970s dynasty, going 0-for-7 in the 1975 ALCS. But as a Cub, Williams was a premier hitter and a capable left fielder, overshadowed by the many great outfielders of that time in the NL: Mays, Aaron, Clemente, and more.

Williams was a true "everyday" player, holding the NL consecutive games record for a time at over 1000. He was a regular for 16 years, a good average hitter (won the 1972 NL batting title) with good power. The lefty swinger was a feared hitter, and the #3 batter for the Cubs for a long time. He wasn't as outspoken as Ernie Banks about his love for the game, but it was written all over the record book.

Williams earned 151.34 ratings points.

Williams' stats: .290 average, 426 HR, 2711 hits, .492 SLG, 1410 runs, 1475 RBI.


 
Number 152: Mickey Cochrane

Cochrane was a college man, Boston University, and signed with the A's of Connie Mack after a season in the Pacific Coast League. He went right into the 1922 lineup, at age 22, and batted .331. Mack was building up Philadelphia for another pennant run, right in the midst of the first Yankee dynasty, and the work was taking some time. Cochrane was a big piece of the puzzle, as he provided good defense behind the plate and a strong bat, as well as an intelligent presence on the field. He rarely struck out, drew plenty of walks, and hit for a solid average with some power. His offensive numbers are padded by playing in a hitters' era, but they are outstanding in any time.

Cochrane played on the 1929-31 pennant winners in Philly, with World Series wins in '29 and '30. But the Depression hit hard, and Mack started selling off his prize players. After the 1933 season, Cochrane was sold to Detroit for $100,000. He was a catcher-manager in Detroit, and his team won the pennant in 1934 and the Series in 1935, his third ring. He was a backup in 1936 and 1937, until his beaning by Yankee pitcher Bump Hadley left him hospitalized for several days. Cochrane never played again, and only managed for part of the season in 1938. His legacy lived after him, as fellow Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was named after him.

Cochrane earned 151.61 ratings points.

Cochrane's stats: .320 average, 333 doubles, 119 HR, .419 OBA, two-time MVP (1928, 1934).