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 21, 2005
 
Number 187: Vlad Guerrero.

The Dominican is known for never seeing a pitch he wouldn't swing at. He draws a reasonable number of walks, but he's also led the league in intentional walks five times, which helps. He's also never struck out 100 times in a season, which means he can hit those pitches. He's also led the league in total bases twice, hits once and runs once. He was also the 2004 AL MVP.

With ten 100-RBI seasons, Guerrero is one of the top run producers of recent times. His high averages and power production mean he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He has eight Silver Slugger awards and is a nine-time All-Star.

Guerrero has earned 143.69 ratings points through 2010.

Guerrero's stats: .319 average, 441 HR, 2487 hits.


 
Number 186: Buddy Bell

He never hit more than 20 homers in a season, topped .300 only twice. But Bell was one of the great defensive hot corner guardians ever, overshadowed because his career overlapped Brooks Robinson and Graig Nettles, rivals for the title of greatest gloveman ever. He won six Gold Gloves, and though he only placed as high as 10th in the MVP vote once, Bell was a consistent and solid all-around performer, with a good bat and terrific glove.

Bell was a slightly above-average hitter, and usually regarded as a key player on his teams. He never got to the postseason, owing to bad timing. He came up with Cleveland in 1972, was traded to Texas for 1979, and spent a couple years with Cincinnati before going to Houston and then finishing with the Rangers. His teams finished second a lot, but never first.

Why does he rank so high? Because he was so good defensively. Bell is one of several Hall of Fame-worthy third basemen, ignored because the Hall doesn't know what to do with third basemen. Are they glove men or hitters? A little of both, as Bell was.

Bell earned 143.79 ratings points.

Bell's stats: .279 average, 2514 hits, 201 HR, 425 doubles.


 
Number 185: Bobby Wallace.

Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop of the early 1900s. He had a long and successful career spent almost entirely in St. Louis. He was never a big-stick guy, especially playing mostly in the "dead-ball" era, but he could produce some runs, getting over 100 RBI twice. Wallace started his playing career in Cleveland as a pitcher, and pitched for a couple of years before becoming a regular shortstop in 1897 at age 23. The Spiders were stripped before the 1899 season, and Wallace went to St. Louis. He switched from the NL to the AL for 1902, and remained with the Browns while he was a regular, through 1912. He returned to the Cardinals as a coach and played a bit in his 40s.

He hit some doubles and triples, and often managed to be among the leaders in RBI. His career OPS+ was 105, strong for a glove man, and reached as high as 136 in 1901. So he was an excellent glove man with some pop. That's a pretty good shortstop.

Wallace earned 144.15 ratings points.

Wallace's stats: .268 average, 2309 hits, 391 doubles, 143 triples, 1121 RBI.


Monday, June 20, 2005
 
Number 184: Dwight Gooden.

The 1982 first-round pick of the Mets was a terrific young pitcher who suffered the fate of many young pitchers, tragic overwork. He led the league in strikeouts his first two years, won a Cy Young as a 20-year old, and never was quite that good again.

He had to learn to pitch without the great fastball, and work through a sea of arm troubles, including missing all of 1995. He stuck it out and did some good work. Meanwhile, that 1985 season was one for the ages.

Gooden earned 144.23 ratings points.

Gooden's stats: 194-112 record, 3.51 ERA, 2293 strikeouts.


 
Number 183: Lance Berkman.

He was a first-round pick in the 1997 draft and has had a terrific career. He was a fixture in the Houston lineup for eleven years and piled up terrific stats. Berkman was third in MVP voting twice, 2002 and 2006. He was a key member of the 2005 team that won the NL pennant.

Berkman has played all over the outfield and at first base, and been very durable. Now trying to revive his career in St. Louis, Berkman is hoping to be part of another winner.

Berkman has earned 144.39 ratings points through 2010.

Berkman's stats (through 2010): .297 average, 337 HR, 391 doubles, 1132 RBI.


Sunday, June 19, 2005
 
Number 182: "Indian" Bob Johnson.

"Indian Bob" was an Oklahoman who spent most of his career in relative obscurity with the Philadelphia A's of the 1930s and early 40s. He was a terrific power hitter for mostly poor teams, and a good left fielder. He was an 8-time All-Star and drove in 100 runs for seven consecutive seasons 1935-41. Johnson got a late start, not debuting in the majors until the age of 27 in 1933.

By my estimation, Johnson was the best rookie in the AL in 1933, and among the top players of the league for most of his 13-year career. He was never the best player in the league, but he was regularly among the best.

Johnson earned 144.57 ratings points.

Johnson's stats: .296 average, 288 HR, 2051 hits, 1283 RBI, .506 slugging.