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, August 19, 2005
 
Number 207: Brian Giles.

It was the fate of Giles to always play in the shadow of others. In Cleveland, he was behind people like Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle. In Pittsburgh he was the big star, but on a poor team far from the limelight. In San Diego, the big ballpark swallowed his long shots and the team went from a winner to an also-ran.

Giles came up with Cleveland, held back by the depth of the system and the strong club at the major league level, becoming a platoon LF and fourth OF. He was swapped to Pittsburgh in an ill-advised deal for a lefty reliever, then became a star for the Pirates. In nearly five years in Pittsburgh, Giles established himself as one of the best in the game. A short, muscular fellow, Giles has good speed, excellent power, and hits for a solid average.

Giles earned 140.37 ratings points.

Giles' stats: .291 average, 287 HR, .40 OBP, 411 doubles.


Thursday, August 18, 2005
 
Number 206: Dave Winfield

Winfield was a tremendous schoolboy athlete, tall and strong, and drafted by teams in pro baseball, basketball, and hockey, despite coming from the northern clime of Minnesota. He opted for baseball, and it wasn't long before his sad-sack San Diego Padres dropped him into the lineup, and he quickly became their best player. He had little help at first on this just-past-early-stage expansion team, but posted steadily improving numbers while learning on the job. He played mostly left field at first, then switched to right and occasionally to center. He wasn't really a very good outfielder, but his bat made a mark.

The Padres had their first year over .500 in 1978, and Winfield was an MVP candidate, finishing 10th. He was 3rd in voting in 1979, but the team had slipped back. After the 1980 season, he left as a free agent and signed with the Yankees. He got to his first postseason in 1981's split season, but went 1-for-22 in the World Series. This earned the wrath of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who began calling him "Mr. May" and would hire shady characters to follow him. This even though he was a consistent performer and drove in at least 100 runs five years in a row, 1982-86. But the Yankees weren't winning.

Winfield missed the 1989 season with an injury, then returned in 1990 and was sent by the Yankees to the Angels early in the year. He went to Toronto for 1992, and once again got to the postseason. He redeemed himself with a double to win Game 6 of the World Series, and finally got a championship ring. He then went home to Minnesota, and after that finished his career with the Indians. He played 22 years in all, not counting the entire 1989 missed, and piled numbers that were not noted for their peaks, but were consistently solid. He never hit more than 37 homers nor drove in more than 118 runs in a season, but every season he put up strong numbers.

Winfield earned 140.39 ratings points.

Winfield's stats: .283 average, 465 homers, 1883 RBI, 1669 runs, 223 SB.


Monday, August 15, 2005
 
Number 205: Jimmy Sheckard.

Sheckard was an outfielder at the end of the 19th century into the early 20th century. He spent most of his career playing for fine Brooklyn teams, then went to Chicago in time for the best years of that franchise, the Tinker-Evers-Chance teams. He was a speedy leadoff man, but big enough that he also hit for distance as well.

Sheckard led the league in steals twice, in triples and slugging percentage once. The Pennsylvania native was a good left fielder, with the range you would expect with his speed. After the 1905 season, he was dealt to the Cubs for four players, none of whom was much good, and two thousand dollars, which was probably what the Dodgers really wanted. He was then part of three straight pennant winners, and four of the next five.

Toward the end of his career, his bat and legs slowing, he decided to walk more. So he drew 147 walks in 1911, and 122 more in 1912, leading the league both years. It was astonishing. He had drawn walks before, but not nearly so many. However, a spike in walks often signals the end of a career, and 1913 was his last season.

Sheckard earned 140.86 ratings points.

Sheckard's stats: .274 batting average, .375 on-base, 2084 hits, 1296 runs.


Sunday, August 14, 2005
 
Number 204: Andre Dawson.

The Florida native was Montreal's 11th round pick in 1975. He debuted in the majors in 1976, playing 21 games, and took over the Expos' regular CF job in 1977. He won the Rookie of the Year award for 1977, and provided consistent and solid play while developing a habit of winning Gold Gloves. 10 years as a regular in Montreal brought only one post-season appearence, so he signed with Chicago for 1987 and promptly won the MVP, as Wrigley Field helped him lead the league in HR and RBI, even though the Cubs finished last. By then he had moved to RF to accomodate aging knees.

At the end of his career Dawson spent a couple of years with Boston DHing, then a couple with the new Florida Marlins as a backup. He was a right-handed hitter with good power, and was speedy and a strong fielder in his younger days. Oddly for a slugger, Dawson topped 100 RBI only four times.

Dawson earned 140.94 ratings points.

Dawson's stats: .279 average, 438 HR, 2774 hits, 503 doubles, 1591 RBI.