The top 10 baseball players of all time is a subjective exercise, as the players’ merits must be judged against the intangibles, historical importance and other factors that make them truly great. Likewise, these players’ rankings may differ from those of fans’ favorite franchise icons. Ultimately, they are all deserving of recognition for their contributions to the game. But how do we determine which players are the greatest?
The 1986 AL MVP has been cited as one of the best players of all time by the baseball historians, but his career was not without controversy. The pitcher was a seven-time CY Young Award winner, holds the record for most strikeouts in a single game, and is the first player to record 350 wins and more than 4,500 strikeouts in his career. Clemens retired his uniform from the University of Texas in Austin after his career, which he was a member of.
While Clemens’ steroid use has fueled some controversy, he is still regarded as one of the best pitchers in history. In addition, Carl Yastrzemski, who played 23 seasons in MLB, is noted for hitting the most home runs in Red Sox history. While Clemens has the most home runs among all baseball players, his overall talent is undisputed.
Willie Mays is one of the greatest players in baseball history. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1931, Mays made his professional debut as a sixteen-year-old. He spent the next twenty-one seasons with the Giants, winning 12 Gold Glove Awards and leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and steals four times. In 1950, the Giants purchased him from the Birmingham Black Barons for $10000.
Mays first made his major-league debut in 1951. He became a world-famous player in his rookie year and was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year. He was named the league’s MVP twice and won the World Series in 1954. He also won the Gold Glove Award 12 times and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
There are many reasons why Hank Aaron is one of the best baseball players of all time. A true professional, he played a wide variety of positions and led the league in home runs in seven of his eight seasons. Aaron was the most prolific home run hitter of his time, accumulating 442 during his career. His strikeout percentage was also exceptionally low, with only a strikeout rate of 10. His durability is another reason why he is regarded as one of the best players of all time.
Aaron made his major league debut in 1954, aged 20, and played until he was 42 years old. His career spanned 20 seasons, with Aaron becoming an All-Star each year. Aaron played for the Atlanta Braves for the majority of his career, but had a brief stint with the Milwaukee Braves before their move to Atlanta. Aaron’s home run record is legendary and the organization that drafted him is still proud of him.
The career of Lou Gehrig, known as “The Iron Horse” by his teammates, was filled with heroic feats. Not only was he a top hitter, but he also played with extraordinary endurance, displaying a level of humility that is rarely found in baseball legends. He was one of the longest-serving players in MLB history, and his longevity earned him the nickname “Iron Horse.” In addition to his record-setting on-field accomplishments, he displayed great honor and modesty off-field, including his own personal tragedy.
As a baseball fan since the 1960s, Kelley has compiled this list of great players. While he doesn’t attempt to determine the all-time great of MLB, he does have a favorite team. The list includes players who are retired and have reached the age of 40. The majority of the players on Kelley’s list have also been inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.