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, June 10, 2006
 
Number 228: Earl Averill.

He had an interesting if somewhat brief career of 13 seasons, really 11 as a regular, but got a late start with his first game in the majors at age 26. He doesn't really even surface in pro ball until age 22, but the westerner just arrived in the pro game late.

When he did make it, he hit the ground running. He spent most of his career as the Indians' center fielder and hit for excellent power. He was selected to the first six All-Star Games. He got as high as third in the MVP voting, that in 1936. The Indians never won during his career, but a late move to Detroit made him part of the 1940 Tiger pennant winners and he pinch-hit during the World Series.

Averill earned 135.54 ratings points.

Averill's stats: .318 average, 2019 hits, 238 HR.


 
Number 227: Ted Lyons

Lyons pitched for the White Sox during one of the worst periods in their history, the time following the 1919 Black Sox scandal and its aftermath, as the Chisox spent 40 years between pennants. Lyons pitched for a series of lousy teams, but kept on putting up stellar numbers year after year.

Lyons was 22 in 1923, when he pitched in 9 games for the White Sox. He was 2-1 with a 6.35 ERA, pitching mostly in relief. The next year he began starting and was 12-11 with a 4.87 ERA. In 1925 he won 21 games, and would win 20 or more in three seasons overall. He struggled with injury in 1931, and that affected his stamina thereafter, as his inning totals dropped. However, from 1935, he was below the league average ERA every year. He led the league in ERA in 1942 at age 41, his last full year. By that time he was mostly a "Sunday pitcher," starting once a week and usually in the Sunday doubleheader common at the time. He pitched briefly in 1946 before retiring for good.

Lyons earned 135.56 ratings points.

Lyons' stats: 260-230 record, 3.67 ERA, 356 CG.


Sunday, June 04, 2006
 
Number 226: Joe "Ducky" Medwick.

Like many Depression-era players, he got several nicknames. The common "Ducky" was a shortened form of the original "Ducky Wucky." I guess you had to be there. More descriptively, he was called "Muscles" as he was a slugger of the first rank. He only had a career high in homers of 31, in his 1937 Triple Crown year, but he played mostly in large parks. He hit lots of doubles and triples, as many as 64 doubles in a season (1936) and peaked at 18 triples (1934), with 30 or more doubles in 11 seasons, and 10 or more triples in 7 seasons.

Medwick was not a real big guy, listed at just 5'10" and 187 pounds, but he was built solid. Not much speed, but a lot of strength. He came to the majors in 1932 at age 20 and was part of the 1934 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, the Gas House Gang. He was traded to Brooklyn in midseason 1940 and was part of the Dodgers' 1941 pennant team. Those were his only postseason appearances. He wasn't a very good defensive player, but he was a real hitter.

Medwick earned 135.7 ratings points.

Medwick's stats: .324 average, 205 HR, 1383 RBI, 540 doubles, 113 triples, 10-time All-Star, 1937 NL MVP.


 
Number 225: Johnny Evers.

Evers was very slender, a 5-foot-9 125-pound bundle of energy, all sinew and tendons and nerve. It was said he had so much electricity in his body that a wristwatch did him no good, they wouldn't run right. His infield mate Joe Tinker said he wished Evers had been an outfielder so he wouldn't have had to listen to him.

Evers was never a great hitter, even for the Deadball Era, but he was normally average or a little above at the plate. He didn't have much power but hit for decent averages and drew quite a few walks, not what you would expect from such a nervous personality. He usually hit at or near the top of the order, usually batting second for the Cubs. And during his career the Cubs won and won and won.

He played in three World Series with Chicago, winning two of them, missing the 1910 classic when he was hurt. He was traded to the Braves prior to the 1914 season and became part of Boston's "Miracle Braves" team that roared from last place on the Fourth of July to the pennant and took a shocking World Series win from the heavily favored A's. Evers won the MVP for that season, kind of a last hurrah for him as he never again played 100 games in a season. But he was immortalized in a poem, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Evers earned 135.73 ratings points.

Evers' stats: .270 average, .356 on-base, 1659 hits, 324 steals.


 
Number 224: Whitey Ford

He is the winningest pitcher in World Series history, and also the one with the most losses at 10-8. Ford was signed by the Yankees in 1947, and debuted in New York in 1950, going 9-1 down the stretch. He got his first World Series win that year, too. He also got two years in the military, and returned to the roster in 1953. From there Ford embarked on a stellar career, racking up a dozen years as the ace of the Yankees' staff. During his many years under Casey Stengel, Ford was used somewhat oddly, as Casey tended to save him for the toughest teams, the ones the Yankees had to beat. That makes his record somewhat better than it looks. On the other hand, pitching for all those exceptional teams makes his record look better than it really was, if he had been pitching for the Cubs or Tigers, for instance.

Still, being the best pitcher on the best team is a pretty good feather for your cap. Whitey never won 20 in a season for Stengel, but Stengel never started him more than 33 times in a year. If you wonder why few pitchers now win 20, consider that. When Ralph Houk took over the Yankees in 1961, he established a four-man rotation, and Whitey got 39 starts and won 25 games. He also won 24 in 1963. His arsenal was not overpowering, but he had good movement on his pitches and excellent control. Ford was a dependable guy, very consistent. The 25 wins won him the 1961 Cy Young Award.

He was called "The Chairman of the Board" for his businesslike approach on the mound, and "Slick" for his demeanor off it, as a native New Yorker, and also to rhyme with "Mick" for his buddy Mickey Mantle. After 1965, he had trouble with his arm, and ended his career after the 1967 season. Ford was one of baseball's class acts.

Ford earned 135.74 ratings points.

Ford's stats: 236-106 record, .690 winning percentage, 2.75 ERA, 1956 K.