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Long Ball Larry

Joe Posnanski's top 100 players of all time

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Countdown up to number 27 right now on the athletic.  one per day.  

No. 100: Ichiro Suzuki
No. 99: Mike Mussina
No. 98: Carlos Beltrán
No. 97: Roberto Alomar
No. 96: Larry Walker
No. 95: Tony Gwynn
No. 94: Roy Campanella
No. 93: Ozzie Smith
No. 92: Bullet Rogan
No. 91: Mariano Rivera
No. 90: Max Scherzer
No. 89: Mike Piazza
No. 88: Curt Schilling
No. 87: Charlie Gehringer
No. 86: Gary Carter
No. 85: Sadaharu Oh
No. 84: Cool Papa Bell
No. 83: Phil Niekro
No. 82: Kid Nichols
No. 81: Ferguson Jenkins
No. 80: Carlton Fisk
No. 79: Derek Jeter
No. 78: Clayton Kershaw
No. 77: Miguel Cabrera
No. 76: Willie McCovey
No. 75: Justin Verlander
No. 74: Frank Thomas
No. 73: Brooks Robinson
No. 72: Robin Roberts
No. 71: Bert Blyleven
No. 70: Sandy Koufax
No. 69: Monte Irvin
No. 68: Gaylord Perry
No. 67: Hank Greenberg
No. 66: Robin Yount
No. 65: Ernie Banks
No. 64: Johnny Mize
No. 63: Steve Carlton
No. 62: Smokey Joe Williams
No. 61: Arky Vaughan
No. 60: Pete Rose
No. 59: Reggie Jackson
No. 58: Jeff Bagwell
No. 57: Rod Carew
No. 56: Joe DiMaggio
No. 55: Bob Feller
No. 54: Chipper Jones
No. 53: Buck Leonard
No. 52: Adrián Beltré
No. 51: Al Kaline
No. 50: Nolan Ryan
No. 49: Warren Spahn
No. 48: Ken Griffey Jr.
No. 47: Wade Boggs
No. 46: Eddie Mathews
No. 45: Bob Gibson
No. 44: Cal Ripken Jr.
No. 43: Yogi Berra
No. 42: Jackie Robinson
No. 41: Tom Seaver
No. 40: Roberto Clemente
No. 39: Nap Lajoie
No. 38: Carl Yastrzemski
No. 37: Pedro Martínez
No. 36: Christy Mathewson
No. 35: George Brett
No. 34: Cy Young
No. 33: Jimmie Foxx
No. 32: Mel Ott
No. 31: Greg Maddux
No. 30: Johnny Bench
No. 29: Eddie Collins
No. 28: Randy Johnson
No. 27: Mike Trout

No. 26: Grover Cleveland Alexander

No. 25: Pop Lloyd

No. 24: Rickey Henderson

No. 23: Albert Pujols

No. 22: Lefty Grove

No. 21: Joe Morgan

No. 20 (tied): Frank Robinson

No. 20 (tied): Mike Schmidt

No. 18: Tris Speaker

No. 17: Rogers Hornsby

No. 16: Alex Rodriguez

No. 15: Josh Gibson

No. 14: Lou Gehrig

No. 13: Roger Clemens

No. 12: Honus Wagner

No. 11: Mickey Mantle

No. 10: Satchel Paige

No. 9: Stan Musial

No. 8: Ty Cobb

No. 7: Walter Johnson

No. 6: Ted Williams

No. 5: Oscar Charleston

No. 4: Hank Aaron

No. 3: Barry Bonds

No. 2: Babe Ruth

 

 

Edited by Long Ball Larry
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koufax at 70 seems low.  brett seems crazy high.  blyleven on the list.  a guy who played in japan?

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It's kind of a Timlist but Posnanski is a fine storyteller.

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Just at a glance, one of the best pure hitters of all time in Tony Gwynn is too low 95.  

Pete Rose behind Bagwell?  Really?

Chipper seems about 10 spots too low. 

For overrated, I’d say I’d have little problem with Wade Boggs, Yas, Christy Mathewson, Cal Ripken, and Gaylord Perry dropping. 
 

Now for the big one...  Mike Trout is great.  Mike Trout may end up the best of all time. If Mike Trout retired today, would you say he was better than Maddux, or The Unit, etc...?

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It's not so much about the rankings as it is the stories.  Like Joe D being at #56, Jackie at #42, Maddux at #31, Rickey Henderson at #24.  The rankings don't really matter and I wish he hadn't make it a top 100 "list", but then no one would have read it if not. 

P.S. Mike Trout wears number 27.

 

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They published the one on Albert Pujols yesterday. 

It was both enlightening and saddening. He had a five year stretch that no one else can claim. He was just ridiculous. 

When he left St. Louis his career batting average was near .330

It will almost certainly drop below .300 this season. 

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Posted (edited)

Bonds at #3 almost broke the comment section.  He wrote the article in to two camps: pro Bonds/I want Bonds dead.  Very good article.

I assume Mays at #2 and Ruth at #1, but who knows.

Edited by Hov34
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8 hours ago, Hov34 said:

Bonds at #3 almost broke the comment section.  He broke the article in to two camps: pro Bonds/I want Bonds dead.  Very good article.

I assume Mays at #2 and Ruth at #1, but who knows.

The Oscar Charleston one was brutal with all the MAGA types whining about a Negro League player being ranked so high. 

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7 hours ago, Encyclopedia Brown said:

The Oscar Charleston one was brutal with all the MAGA types whining about a Negro League player being ranked so high. 

I read your comment and immediately wondered where "Cool" Papa Bell was. Found him! Wonder where Josh Gibson rated, as LBL left the list at 27.

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

I read your comment and immediately wondered where "Cool" Papa Bell was. Found him! Wonder where Josh Gibson rated, as LBL left the list at 27.

Josh Gibson #15

Cool Papa Bell #84

Satchel Paige #10

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1 minute ago, Encyclopedia Brown said:

Josh Gibson #15

Cool Papa Bell #84

Satchel Paige #10

Nice. Thanks.

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On 3/1/2020 at 9:19 PM, bigmarc27 said:

Just at a glance, one of the best pure hitters of all time in Tony Gwynn is too low 95.  

Pete Rose behind Bagwell?  Really?

Chipper seems about 10 spots too low. 

For overrated, I’d say I’d have little problem with Wade Boggs, Yas, Christy Mathewson, Cal Ripken, and Gaylord Perry dropping. 
 

Now for the big one...  Mike Trout is great.  Mike Trout may end up the best of all time. If Mike Trout retired today, would you say he was better than Maddux, or The Unit, etc...?

Personally yes to Trout being better than those guys if he retires today.  This has to be at least year 5+ of every fan all being in agreement of who the best player in the game is.  How often has that happened?  I’m not sure it happened for even 1 season for anybody besides Bonds and Trout in my lifetime. 

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26 through 2 updated.  Presumably 1 is Willie Mays.  Also note this intro:

Quote

 

Let me say something right at the top about the rankings themselves: You may care a lot about those. You will probably get mad when you see which players I have left out, which players I have ranked way too low or way too high. You might want me to know just how dumb I am, just how little I know about baseball, just how insulting the ranking was. I totally get it. And I totally deserve whatever you are going to say because it takes some serious gall to believe that you can really rank the 100 greatest baseball players ever.

I will add this because I think it’s important to say: I don’t care much about the rankings. Yes, I spent many, many, many hours on them. I used the Tom Tango-inspired formula, added a bunch of wrinkles, did a bunch of research and made some hard judgments that I believe in.

But the point of this for me is not the ranking but the stories. Every one of these players has a fascinating story — about persistence, about confidence, about pure talent, about amazing moments, about the lengths people will go to become quote-unquote “great.” The stories are what inspired me to do this bonkers thing. And so, with very rare exceptions, I do not even mention the ranking in these essays. There are exceptions where the player’s ranking is part of the story.

But you will not see me write something like, “Duane Kuiper is the 45th best player of all time for these four reasons.”*

*I’m joking. Duane Kuiper is not No. 45 on the Baseball 100 list. That would be ridiculous. He’s No. 77.**

**I kid. 

Because of this, I will not go into great detail about my ranking. Some of it is science, but admittedly some of it also art. I will give you a handful of guiding principles:

1. I think today’s players tend to be underrated compared to those who came before them.

2. I lean toward players who were great at their peak, even if that peak only lasted a short time, and lean away from those who were consistently but not toweringly good for a long time.

3. I lean toward players who did multiple things well over specialists (no matter how great) who basically did just one thing well.

4. I take a lot of care to make educated guesses about players whose careers were shortened by things beyond their control  — World War II, for example, or baseball’s tragic and infuriating color line. I don’t make the same adjustment for injuries. As Bill James has written, there’s a big difference. The years when Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams or Bob Feller were at war, the years when Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston played in the Negro Leagues, they were still the best players on earth. They just couldn’t play in the big leagues because of larger issues. When players get hurt — take Don Mattingly, for example, and his back problems — they stop being the best players in the world. I wish Donnie Baseball didn’t get hurt, we all do, but he did, and he was never quite the same player after that. That’s not the same as saying that Bob Feller lost four years when he was still the best pitcher on earth.

5. I have done a lot of research about the Negro Leagues to estimate the greatness of the players there. I try to be as unsentimental about this as I possibly can. I do not rank Satchel Paige based on dreamy views. He is exactly where I think he belongs on the list.

As for the rest: This list is a moving target. I have done it three times using different methods and the rankings are quite different. This is because there’s no significant difference between a player ranked 72 and 48 and 31. I could swap them, for the most part, without it changing much of anything. So if you believe a player ranked 97th should actually be 53rd, well, it might be that way the next time.

And finally: The toughest part of doing this list was cutting it off at 100. There are 25 or so players who I think are just as deserving to be on this list as anyone in the bottom 50. It was brutal narrowing things down, but that’s how such lists go. I want to write about the 25 players who just missed, but I can’t do that now because it would ruin some of the suspense. So maybe we’ll do that at the end.

 

 

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Wow. I was advocating for taking Willie as best baseball player in the GOAT draft subtly to wikkid, but I'm not sure he was catching the vibe I was laying down.

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