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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Saturday, March 26, 2005
 
Number 158: Ozzie Smith

A case can be made for the "Wizard of Oz" as the greatest defensive player ever. It is on the strength of that defense that he ranks so highly. When he first came to the majors, with San Diego in 1978 at age 23, he was an inept offensive player, but he could play the field like no one had ever seen. Baseball men will talk about a glove carrying a weak bat, but that is rarely true. In Ozzie's case it was. As time went on, he learned to put the ball into play, and to work pitchers for walks and then use his speed on the bases. Still, he was never a great hitter. Only four seasons in his career did he have an OPS that was above average, all after joining St. Louis in 1982. But he could get on base, and even as his glove slowed with age he was still a fine fielder, above average in the field even up to his retirement at age 41 in 1996.

He reached the postseason four times, although his Cardinals won the Series just once, in 1982. He finished 2nd in the 1987 MVP voting, and was far more deserving than winner Andre Dawson. But it was his 13 straight Gold Gloves, from 1980-92, that secure his place in history.

Smith earns 150.33 points in the rating system.

Smith's stats: .262 average, 2460 hits, 1072 walks, 1257 runs, 402 doubles.