You could make an argument that Willie is the greatest player of all-time. Better than the Babe, better than Ted Williams, better than his godson, Barry Bonds. We think is. He actually towers over the other great center fielders, and they were all very good.
“There’s one thing [Mantle] can’t do very well. He can’t throw left-handed. When he goes in for that we’ll have the perfect ballplayer.”— Marty Marion
“I always loved the game, but when my legs weren’t hurting it was a lot easier to love.” — Mickey Mantle
What would a perfect ballplayer accomplish? He might lead the league in home runs while hitting more home runs than he has strikeouts. He might lead the league in triples and home runs and runs scored and runs batted in, as well as hitting and slugging and total bases. A signature of a versatile player. He might glide to the warning track to take away triples, and throw out runners trying to stretch a gapper into a double. He might help his team win more championships than anyone ever had. He might get at least one hit every game for two months. DiMaggio did all those things.
A college basketball player, Lofton didn’t play baseball in college until his junior year, and then only briefly. But his speed was so impressive that MLB clubs hounded him. The Houston Astros lured him away from the hardwood and within two years the speedster was in their outfield. But the Astros already had Steve Finley, who was only 26, so they traded Lofton to the Indians. Big mistake.
They invented the term “five-tool player” for athletes like Andre Dawson. if his knees hadn’t abandoned him in mid-career, The Hawk would probably have reached 500 homers and steals.
An outstanding center fielder with speed and a strong arm. He made contact and learned to hit for power. He was a key part of the 1992-93 champion Blue Jays.
One of the five greatest defensive center fielders in history, Blair went back on the ball better than anyone since Tris Speaker. He had good power early in his career until he suffered a terrible eye injury when he was hit by a pitch.