When he retired following the 1917 season, Honus Wagner was considered to be the best player in baseball history by most experts. He certainly was the greatest before Ty Cobb and later Babe Ruth earned the label.
Primarily a shortstop, Wagner was talented enough to play almost any position on the diamond, and he did fill in at third base, second base, first base, and the outfield at times. The main thing was to get his bat in the lineup. Wagner led his league in batting eight times, including four seasons in a row from 1906-1909, when his Pittsburgh Pirates were at their peak. In ’09 he won a personal and team battle with Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, outperforming the American League batting champion.
Physically, Wagner was odd: he had short, bowed legs, extremely long arms, giant hands, and a barrel chest. He looked like God had pushed down on his neck with great force until he was as thick as he was tall.
Even with his bowed legs and short, choppy strides, Wagner was one of the fastest baserunners in baseball in his prime. he paced his league in stolen bases five times, the last time at the age of 34. There were no MVP awards given when Wagner was at his peak, otherwise he would have earned several. He led the NL in OPS+ and WAR six times each.
Wagner was one of the first five men inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.