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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Thursday, July 27, 2006
 
Number 235: David Cone

Called "Staff Ace on loan" by Bill James after he was a midseason pickup by contenders a couple of times, Cone was one of the top pitchers of the 1990s. A 3rd round pick by the Royals in 1981, he was traded to the Mets for a bucket of balls before 1987, and went 20-3 in 1988 to burst onto the scene. He didn't win 20 in a season again until 1998, but was a consistent workhorse and fine pitcher in between. In 1992 Toronto picked him up in midseason for Jeff Kent to seal their postseason bid, and won the World Series. Cone became a free agent and signed with the Royals, who were trying to rectify their earlier mistake. A couple years later KC traded him again, back to the Jays for some nobodies, and the Jays dealt him to the Yankees in midseason 1995.

Cone stuck with the Yankees for the next several seasons as they went through a very successful period. Cone was no small part of four championship teams as an anchor of the pitching staff. 2000 was a bad year, and he spent 2001 in Boston, then tried to make a 2003 comeback with little success. He had lots of success in his career.

Cone earned 134.44 ratings points.

Cone's stats: 194-126, 3.46 ERA, 2668 K, 1994 AL Cy Young, 5 World Series rings.


 
Number 234: Gabby Hartnett

Originally, the nickname of "Gabby" for Charles Leo Hartnett was a bit of a joke: he didn't speak much. As he grew older and more experienced he became more loquacious so that the nickname was no longer a misnomer. He came to Chicago in 1922 at age 21 and played sparingly for the Cubs that year, just 31 games and 79 AB. He started getting more playing time the next year, and his .299 average in 1924 cemented his status. He hit 24 HR in 1925, and was showing excellent defense. He continued to play well, but missed most of 1929 with an injury. The Cubs won the pennant anyway, and Hartnett went 0-for-3 in the World Series.

He returned to the lineup in 1930 for a big year, batting .339 with 37 HR and 122 RBI. That was the year of big offense, and while they were his best raw numbers it wasn't really his best year. He slid off that peak back to lower but respectable levels, and played on the pennant winners of 1932 and 1935. He won the 1935 MVP with a .344 average. Both years, the Cubs lost the World Series.

In 1938, the Cubs were in another pennant race, and Hartnett went down in history for hitting the "Homer in the Gloamin'" a shot that won a game as dusk was falling to clinch the pennant. Hartnett played in four World Series, finishing his career as a bench player with the Cubs in 1940 and the Giants in 1941. He could undoubtedly have continued to play during the War if he wished, with players in short supply, but he didn't.

Hartnett earned 134.87 ratings points.

Hartnett's stats: .297 average, 236 HR, 1197 RBI, .370 OBA, .489 SLG.


Sunday, July 23, 2006
 
Number 233: Heinie Groh.

Groh was famous for using a "bottle bat," an oddly-shaped piece of wood that tapered quickly at the end of the barrel, rather than gradually as is typical. He used that type of bat for better control, and it worked very well. Groh was signed for the Giants but traded away for a couple of veterans, typical of John McGraw's operation. Groh went to Cincinnati and for the next nine seasons was the best third baseman in the NL, and over the 1917-19 period one of the best players in the league as well. He was a key figure on the 1919 World Champions, a good defensive third baseman without a lot of power but good at slapping the ball around, drawing walks, hitting doubles, and keeping things moving on the basepaths. McGraw got him back for the last few years of his career to be part of some winning Giants teams as well, and he batted .474 in the 1922 World Series.

Groh earned 135.04 ratings points.

Groh's stats: .292 average, .373 on-base, 1774 hits, 308 doubles.