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, September 23, 2005
 
Number 216: Kiki Cuyler.

Hazen Shirley "Kiki" Cuyler got his nickname because of a stutter, as the story runs. Plus, what ballplayer would want to be called Hazen, or even Shirley? Cuyler worked his way up the minor league ladder, hitting .300 along the way, then burst onto the major league scene with the Pirates in 1924. He hit .354 in 117 games and was eighth in MVP voting, then second in the voting the next year as the Pittburgh club won the World Series for the first time since 1909 with Cuyler batting .357 and leading the league in triples and runs scored.

He had another strong season in 1926, leading the league in runs and steals, but found himself in the doghouse in 1927 and played little down the stretch as the Pirates won the pennant again, but with Paul Waner in right field. He didn't play at all in the World Series and was traded to the Cubs.

Cuyler took over in right field for the Cubs and played well, as a key part of the 1929 and 1932 pennant teams. Again (36) and slumping, he was released in the 1935 pennant drive, and picked up by Cincinnati. He had one more strong season left, in 1936, and left the majors after 1938 then, as was common at the time, spent a few more years in the minors.

Cuyler earned 137.15 ratings points.

Cuyler's stats: .321 average, 2299 hits, 157 triples, 328 steals.


Monday, September 19, 2005
 
Number 215: Jim Fregosi.

A six-time All-Star shortstop who got as high as seventh in the MVP voting, Fregosi was the best SS in the 1960s AL. He combined good defense with moderate power and solid on-base skills. In an era where shortstops did not usually hit much, he was an above-average hitter and thus one of the best in the game. His stats did not always reflect it, because of the low-offense era when he played.

He played through much of the 1970s, but back trouble often kept him off the field or limited his production. He became a bench player in his later years.

Fregosi earned 137.29 ratings points.

Fregosi's stats: .265 average, 151 HR, 1726 hits, 113 OPS+.


Sunday, September 18, 2005
 
Number 214: Dazzy Vance.

Vance got a trial with Pittsburgh for one game in 1915, and with the Yankees for 8 games in 1915 and two games in 1918, but didn't stick. He was a hard thrower with poor control and a continually sore arm. But one day, something went snap, and the pain was gone. Could be a bone spur broke loose, or something else, but he suddenly started throwing free and easy and his control improved. Brooklyn picked him up in 1922 when he was 31, and he became an instant star with an 18-12 record.

Through 1932 Vance was about the only good thing the Dodgers had going for them, including a lights-out season in 1924 where he went 28-6. He led the NL in strikeouts seven seasons in a row, 1922-28, led in ERA three times and wins twice, and the 1924 MVP. The Dodgers were second in 1924 and it was almost all about Vance. He reportedly did not like to pitch in Philadelphia's bandbox Baker Bowl, and so manager Wilbert Robinson acquiesced to his ace's wishes. That probably helped his ERA, but he was still a great pitcher even with half a career.

Vance had brief stints in St. Louis and Cincinnati before finishing up back in Brooklyn in 1935 at age 44, going 3-2.

Vance earned 138.57 ratings points.

Vance's stats: 197-140 record, 3.24 ERA, 2045 K, 125 ERA+.