ALL-TIME PLAYER RANKINGS

Top 100 Players in Baseball History

Rankings

#1.  Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth

RF     1914-1935        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
509.5 163.1 89.7 41.6 126.4

#2.  Ted Williams

Ted Williams

LF     1939-1960        Primary Team: Boston Red Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
488.6 123.1 72.7 34.1 97.9

#3.  Willie Mays

Willie Mays

CF     1951-1973        Primary Team: San Francisco Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
486.6 156.2 73.6 32.9 114.9

#4.  Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson

SP     1907-1927        Primary Team: Washington Senators

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
429.6 165.6 83.1 40.0 124.4

#5.  Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron

RF     1954-1976        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
428.8 142.6 61.7 28.0 102.2

#6.  Stan Musial

Stan Musial

LF     1941-1963        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
420.3 128.1 64.4 30.4 96.3

#7.  Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds

LF     1986-2007        Primary Team: San Francisco Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
411.8 162.4 78.8 37.1 120.6

#8.  Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle

CF     1951-1968        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
409.6 109.7 64.8 33.1 87.3

#9.  Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

CF     1905-1928        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
397.4 151.0 69.1 32.6 110.1

#10.  Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby

2B     1915-1937        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
377.4 127.0 73.4 33.3 100.2

Bill James is the only baseball historian to rate anyone other than Hornsby #1 among second basemen. He has Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins, in that order, listed ahead of The Rajah. I'm inclined to agree with him, but I can't ignore that the statistical record, and our ratings system, still shows Hornsby with an edge over Collins and Little Joe.

The three (Hornsby, Collins, and Morgan) tower above the rest of the second base field. The gap between Morgan, who I have ranked third, and the fourth spot, is the same as the gap between #4 and #17. You could take the careers of any two players below #24 on this list and add them together and not equal the value of Hornsby, Collins, or Morgan.

Each of the top six second basemen were important to teams that won championships. Hornsby is the only one who was a player/manager for a team that won a World Series. Hornsby played for two pennant-winning teams and averaged 7.4 WAR. Collins averaged 7.5 in six pennant seasons, Morgan 8.3 in four, Jackie Robinson averaged 5.9 WAR in six pennant-winning seasons, Gehringer was very good too, with 6.7 WAR for three Detroit flag winners. But Chase Utley beats them all, with an 8.6 WAR average in the two seasons his Phils won the pennant.

File this under the "What do I have to do to get some respect?" file: a few years back the Oklahoma City Dodgers updated their ballpark by adding large photos of famous ballplayers with an Oklahoma connection. Hornsby played one season for a minor league team in Hugo, OK. But the photo was reversed and showed the Hall of Famer swinging the bat lefthanded.

#11.  Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig

1B     1923-1939        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
374.3 112.4 67.8 31.8 90.1

He was good enough to be in the lineup when he was 20 years old, maybe even when he was 19, but Gehrig had to wait for Wally Pipp to "Wally Pipp" himself. Nearly 80 years after he played his last game, no first baseman has come close to Lou Gehrig's greatness. Year after year he piled up big numbers: Gehrig had nine seasons of 350+ total bases and nine straight years of at least 120 runs scored, 120 RBIs, and 70 extra-base hits. He drove in more than a run per game five times, the last time when he was 34 years old.

#12.  Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson

LF     1979-2003        Primary Team: Oakland A's

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
362.5 110.8 59.0 28.6 84.9

#13.  Tris Speaker

Tris Speaker

CF     1907-1928        Primary Team: Cleveland Indians

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
361.4 133.7 62.2 29.1 98.0

#14.  Eddie Collins

Eddie Collins

2B     1906-1930        Primary Team: Chicago White Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
359.4 123.9 64.2 29.5 94.1

The position players who got the biggest ratings boost because of their post-season performance: Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Babe Ruth, Home Run Baker, Mickey Mantle, and Eddie Collins. In the 34 most important games of his career, Collins got on base 53 times, scored 20 runs, and stole 14 bases while leading his teams to four titles in six Fall Classics. Had there been a World Series MVP award back then, he would have won it three times. He was a superb leader: his teams won four of the five World Series that they were trying to win (crooked teammates cost him a fifth title with the White Sox in 1919).

#15.  Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt

3B     1972-1989        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
351.8 106.5 58.6 27.4 82.6

#16.  Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan

2B     1963-1984        Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
351.1 100.3 59.4 30.0 79.9

Had Morgan played in the 1930s he would have been a player/manager like Hornsby, Collins, and Frisch. Someone once did a study which showed that second basemen made the best managers. Several of the greatest managers played the position: Sparky Anderson, Tony Larussa, Bucky Harris, and Gene Mauch all rank in the top 12 all-time in wins. Then there's Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Miller Huggins, and Davey Johnson. Among the great second basemen, there are a number of them who never managed, like Morgan, who would have probably made good managers: Jackie Robinson and Chase Utley for example. Several more may someday join the list of good managers to come from the position, like Ryne Sandberg and Ian Kinsler.

#17.  Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio

CF     1936-1951        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
346.5 78.1 51.3 25.4 64.7

#18.  Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

RF     1956-1976        Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
345.6 107.2 51.6 24.4 79.4

#19.  Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols

1B     2001-2017        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
345.4 99.4 61.6 27.6 80.5

Pujols was even more consistent than Gehrig, but a notch below overall because of his descent back to the pack in his mid-30s. From age 22 to age 29, Pujols had a WAR between 8.4 and 9.7 every season. That's the foundation for his amazing run of success over his first ten years, when he won three MVPs and finished as runner-up four other times. Pujols actually outperformed Gehrig before the age of 30, leading in WAR, 74-66. But in their 30s, Gehrig stepped on the gas, producing 46 WAR, while as of age 37, Albert only has 26. A few of the first basemen who had a better career than Pujols after the age of 30: Bill Terry, Jeff Bagwell, Dolph Camilli, Norm Cash, and Mark Grace.

#20.  Lefty Grove

Lefty Grove

SP     1925-1941        Primary Team: Philadelphia A's

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
341.7 103.6 66.5 30.8 85.1

#21.  Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver

SP     1967-1986        Primary Team: New York Mets

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
339.0 110.5 56.7 28.8 83.6

#22.  Pete Alexander

Pete Alexander

SP     1911-1930        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
332.6 120.0 67.2 33.6 93.6

#23.  Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens

SP     1984-2007        Primary Team: Boston Red Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
332.5 140.3 65.7 31.9 103.0

#24.  Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux

SP     1986-2008        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
331.2 106.9 55.5 27.4 81.2

#25.  Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson

SP     1988-2009        Primary Team: Seattle Mariners

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
325.8 102.1 63.3 30.1 82.7

#26.  Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

SS     1994-2016        Primary Team: Seattle Mariners

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
323.9 117.7 64.3 29.2 91.0

After adjustments for era, competitive balance, and contributions to pennant-winning teams, ARod, Ripken, and Wagner are very close. One could argue that my adjustment for era penalizes Wagner too much. But then again, it's difficult to believe that the greatest shortstop in baseball history ended his career before World War I concluded. ARod's hitting exploits (natural and unnatural) were so great that they obscure his ability as a defender. He was quick and had excellent feet for a bigger man. The Yankees insisted on moving him to third base, which was silly, but necessary to mollify Derek Jeter's ego. You could rank Ripken ahead of ARod and it wouldn't look ridiculous. But Wagner, having not faced all the best players, having spent half his career playing the outfield and elsewhere, and having played in an era when the difference between the best players and the average players was so large, his stats are inflated. After our adjustments, ARod comes out slightly ahead among this trio.

#27.  Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal Ripken Jr.

SS     1981-2001        Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
322.7 95.5 56.0 29.6 75.8

#28.  Mel Ott

Mel Ott

RF     1926-1947        Primary Team: New York Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
320.8 107.8 54.7 25.1 81.3

#29.  Eddie Mathews

Eddie Mathews

3B     1952-1968        Primary Team: Milwaukee Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
319.0 96.4 54.2 24.4 75.3

#30.  Carl Yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski

LF     1961-1983        Primary Team: Boston Red Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
317.1 96.1 51.8 31.4 74.0

#31.  Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs

3B     1982-1999        Primary Team: Boston Red Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
311.9 91.1 56.1 25.8 73.6

#32.  Jimmie Foxx

Jimmie Foxx

1B     1925-1945        Primary Team: Philadelphia Athletics

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
311.8 96.4 59.5 28.6 78.0

Among the famous position switches in history, Foxx's is the most important because of the magnitude of the two players involved. Years later the Brewers would convert Paul Molitor into a second baseman because they already had Robin Yount at short. The Yankees moved Alex Rodriguez to third to keep Derek Jeter in position. But when Connie Mack made teenage catcher Foxx into a first baseman because he already had Mickey Cochrane behind the plate, he launched a dynasty. The two future Hall of Famers helped the A's win three straight pennants and formed the heart of one of baseball's greatest teams. Foxx won two MVPs with Philadelphia and added one later with Boston. He retired having hit more home runs than any other right-handed batter, a record he held for 21 years until Willie Mays surpassed it.

#33.  George Brett

George Brett

3B     1973-1993        Primary Team: Kansas City Royals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
308.6 88.4 53.2 26.3 70.8

#34.  Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente

RF     1955-1972        Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
306.0 94.5 50.0 22.9 72.3

#35.  Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson

SP     1959-1975        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
303.9 89.9 55.9 30.5 72.9

#36.  Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre

3B     1998-2017        Primary Team: Texas Rangers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
302.3 93.9 49.7 24.6 71.8

#37.  Honus Wagner

Honus Wagner

SS     1897-1917        Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
301.7 130.6 65.2 30.9 97.9

#38.  Christy Mathewson

Christy Mathewson

SP     1900-1916        Primary Team: New York Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
300.5 101.7 63.4 30.2 82.6

#39.  Al Kaline

Al Kaline

RF     1953-1974        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
296.8 92.5 48.3 24.6 70.4

#40.  Warren Spahn

Warren Spahn

SP     1942-1965        Primary Team: Milwaukee Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
294.9 100.2 49.7 26.2 75.0

#41.  Bob Feller

Bob Feller

SP     1936-1956        Primary Team: Cleveland Indians

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
291.7 63.6 51.8 29.2 57.7

#42.  Phil Niekro

Phil Niekro

SP     1964-1987        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
290.6 96.6 53.6 26.7 75.1

#43.  Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton

SP     1965-1988        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
289.6 90.4 51.6 29.2 71.0

#44.  Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr.

CF     1989-2010        Primary Team: Seattle Mariners

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
289.0 83.6 53.9 27.5 68.8

#45.  Bert Blyleven

Bert Blyleven

SP     1970-1992        Primary Team: Minnesota Twins

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
288.7 95.3 50.7 25.0 73.0

#46.  Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

2B     1947-1956        Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
286.7 61.5 52.3 27.8 56.9

There are similarities between Jackie Robinson and Ichiro Suzuki. Both played professional baseball for seven years before getting chance to appear in the major leagues. Robinson was 28 when he broke the color barrier, Ichiro was 27 when he became the first Japanese position player. Both led their league in stolen bases in their first season, Robinson scored 125 runs, Ichiro scored 127. Both were impact players immediately, leading their teams to the postseason. Ichiro won the Rookie of the Year Award (named after Robinson), and Jackie was fifth in MVP voting in his rookie year. Ichiro was named MVP as a rookie. Both Robinson and Ichiro played the game with a smooth quality that had never been seen before. Both had their last great season when they were 35. Had Ichiro gotten to the majors sooner, he probably would have set the record for hits, had Robinson gotten to the big leagues sooner, he would have won another MVP or two and challenged Hornsby as the best to ever play the position. Both Robinson and Ichiro deserve to be moved up on our rankings based on what they would have done, and it lifts Robinson to #4 here.

#47.  Johnny Mize

Johnny Mize

1B     1936-1953        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
281.4 71.0 48.8 22.4 59.9

Mize was ahead of his time in the science of bat speed. He kept a trunk filled with bats in his locker, each of them of varying weights. He used the lighter bats against hard throwers and the heavier ones against softer tossers. It worked: Big Jawn had the second-most homers in NL history when he played his last game in that league in 1949. Mize was 29 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He missed three full seasons and part of another, but when he returned he was just as lethal with a bat. He won two home run titles in his mid-30s and probably missed 100 homers because of WWII. He and Greenberg both get a boost in our rankings for having missed prime years while in the military.

#48.  Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez

SP     1992-2009        Primary Team: Boston Red Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
278.7 84.0 59.1 30.4 71.6

#49.  Hank Greenberg

Hank Greenberg

1B     1930-1947        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
274.6 57.5 47.7 22.5 52.6

Both Greenberg and Mize had a career OPS+ of 158, and both could hit for high average, draw walks, and hit for tremendous power. They were born almost exactly two years apart. The older Hank was righthanded and Mize was a lefty. Neither was a very good defensive player and both were huge specimens. But that's where the similarities stopped: Mize was a baptist country boy and Greenberg was a Jew born in New York City. Hank played with teammates who did not command headlines, so he became the star. Mize got somewhat lost among the personalities of Joe Medwick, the greatness of young Stan Musial, and later Mel Ott on the Giants. Both have lesser career numbers than they would if they hadn't missed their early 30s due to the war, but both rightly earned Hall of Fame induction.

#50.  Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson

RF     1967-1987        Primary Team: Oakland Athletics

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
274.1 73.8 48.0 24.5 60.9

#51.  Rod Carew

Rod Carew

2B     1967-1985        Primary Team: Minnesota Twins

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
274.1 81.1 49.7 24.9 65.4

Carew played 1,184 games at first base and 1,130 at second base, so it takes some deliberation before ranking him among the greats at any one position. We decided to rate him at second base. Carew was never a very good defender at second: his range was not that great despite being quick; he had a weak throwing arm; and he was not comfortable turning the double play. Carew was one of those athletes who was naturally talented at scoring. If it was baseball he was a great hitter, if it was soccer, he was the goal scorer, if it was basketball he was the star point guard. But sometimes that guy didn't take care of business as well on the defensive side of the ball. That was Carew. He was the best bunter of his generation.

#52.  Pee Wee Reese

Pee Wee Reese

SS     1940-1958        Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
272.8 66.4 40.7 19.0 53.6

#53.  Brooks Robinson

Brooks Robinson

3B     1955-1977        Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
272.4 78.4 45.8 24.1 62.1

#54.  Chipper Jones

Chipper Jones

3B     1993-2012        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
271.7 85.0 46.7 22.0 65.9

#55.  Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts

SP     1948-1966        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
271.3 86.1 53.0 27.1 69.6

#56.  Pete Rose

Pete Rose

LF     1963-1986        Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
271.3 79.1 44.9 22.1 62.0

#57.  Johnny Bench

Johnny Bench

C     1967-1983        Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
271.1 75.0 47.2 23.9 61.1

No one was as great as Bench at his peak and no one was as great for as long as he was. He has the best three-year peak, the best five-year peak, and the second best seven-year peak. Bench kept going and going: he's the only catcher to have as many as ten 4-WAR seasons (and he had 12 of them). If you want a winner, he was behind the plate for four pennant-winning teams and two World Champions. His performance in the 1976 World Series, when he terrorized Yankee pitching and silenced their running game, was his signature moment.

#58.  Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

SP     1988-2007        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
269.1 79.9 49.8 25.4 64.9

#59.  Arky Vaughan

Arky Vaughan

SS     1932-1948        Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
268.2 72.9 50.7 25.5 61.8

#60.  Jeff Bagwell

Jeff Bagwell

1B     1991-2005        Primary Team: Houston Astros

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
267.1 79.6 48.3 23.4 64.0

The big difference between Jeff Bagwell and his "twin" Frank Thomas, is Bagwell's baserunning. He was successful seven out of ten times at stealing bases and over his career Bagwell gained 250 more bases than Thomas through his baserunning, which includes advancing on hits. The Big Hurt also takes a small hit in career value for playing so many years as a DH, though we think Thomas was the better offensive player out of the batters' box than Bagwell. Only two pairs of teammates appeared in more than 2,000 games together: Ron Santo and Billy Williams, and Bagwell and Craig Biggio. All four are in the Hall of Fame. The next duo, coming in at just under 2,000 games, is Hall of Famer Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.

#61.  Duke Snider

Duke Snider

CF     1947-1964        Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
264.9 66.5 50.0 26.3 58.3

#62.  Ron Santo

Ron Santo

3B     1960-1974        Primary Team: Chicago Cubs

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
262.7 70.4 53.9 27.6 62.2

#63.  Charlie Gehringer

Charlie Gehringer

2B     1924-1942        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
262.7 80.6 50.6 23.7 65.6

Among the second basemen, Rogers Hornsby was the best pure hitter, Joe Morgan was the most complete offensive package, and Gehringer was probably the best all-around player. He hit for high average, ran the bases well, was a very good fielder (better than Hornsby and Morgan), and had a strong arm. The only flaw in Charlie's game was that he didn't hit the long ball. Gehringer was one of the few players who was "discovered" by Ty Cobb. When Cobb was player/manager of the Tigers in the 1920s, he was given a tip about Gehringer, who grew up just west of Detroit. After seeing young Charlie play, Cobb insisted that the Tigers sign him to a minor league deal. Two years later he was in the Detroit lineup with Cobb. Gehringer once told the story of how Cobb urged him to buy stock in General Motors and Coca-Cola. "But none of us had any money," Gehringer said, "so we couldn't follow his advice."

#64.  Robin Yount

Robin Yount

SS     1974-1993        Primary Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
262.4 77.0 47.2 24.8 62.1

#65.  Fergie Jenkins

Fergie Jenkins

SP     1965-1983        Primary Team: Chicago Cubs

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
260.5 84.9 50.1 25.3 67.5

#66.  Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter

SS     1995-2014        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
259.0 71.8 42.3 22.1 57.1

#67.  Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina

SP     1991-2008        Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
258.2 83.0 44.5 21.9 63.8

#68.  Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith

SS     1978-1996        Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
256.9 76.5 42.3 20.3 59.4

#69.  Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki

RF     2001-2017        Primary Team: Seattle Mariners

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
253.9 59.6 43.5 22.6 51.6

#70.  Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks

SS     1953-1971        Primary Team: Chicago Cubs

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
253.2 67.4 51.8 27.7 59.6

#71.  Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine

SP     1987-2008        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
253.1 81.5 36.6 18.6 59.1

#72.  Chase Utley

Chase Utley

2B     2003-2017        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
251.3 65.4 49.1 25.0 57.3

#73.  Eddie Plank

Eddie Plank

SP     1901-1917        Primary Team: Philadelphia Athletics

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
249.3 89.9 48.2 22.8 69.1

#74.  Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon

2B     1938-1950        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
249.1 57.1 45.9 21.9 51.5

Joe Gordon was the greatest defensive second baseman in the history of the game, according to the most sophisticated statistical tools we have at our disposal. In addition, witnesses who saw him play were equally impressed.

It's amazing that Gordon wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame until 2009, 58 years after his last game and 31 years after his death. He received MVP votes in eight of his 11 seasons, was an All-Star nine times, retired as the all-time homer leader at his position, and during his career he was universally acclaimed as the best defender at second. He missed two prime seasons due to service in World War II. When he was finally honored in Cooperstown in 2009, his daughter said, "He insisted against having a funeral, and as such, we consider Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as his final resting place to be honored forever."

#75.  Gary Carter

Gary Carter

C     1974-1992        Primary Team: Montreal Expos

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
249.0 69.9 48.2 23.1 59.1

Carter was drafted as a shortstop by the Expos, and of the great catchers, only he and Piazza learned how to play the position in the minor leagues. He was a fantastic athlete (he was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at USC) and worked hard to become a Gold Glove catcher. From 1981 to 1984, Montreal had three Hall of Famers in their prime (Carter, Andre Dawson, and Tim Raines), yet they had a .516 winning percentage and never finished in first place for a full season. They performed 10 games under their pythagorean projection over that four-year span. There was something lacking, and then Carter split for New York and won a title.

#76.  Luke Appling

Luke Appling

SS     1930-1950        Primary Team: Chicago White Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
247.9 74.5 43.9 21.3 59.2

#77.  Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas

1B     1990-2008        Primary Team: Chicago White Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
247.4 73.7 45.1 21.1 59.4

Among the great first baseman, Thomas was not the worst in the field: Willie McCovey and Dick Allen were pretty bad, but Frank was a liability. His bat obviously offset that problem, we have him ranked offensively as the second most valuable career behind Lou Gehrig. The trouble? Big Hurt played 1,300 games as a designated hitter and only the equivalent of 800 or so games in the field. Regardless, Thomas was a monster with a bat in his hand, especially in his prime. In his first eight seasons he went 330/452/600 and won his two MVPs. Probably could have won the award when he was 23 in 1991, and in 1997 when he had his best season. Thomas won the MVP in his fourth and fifth best seasons, but not in any of his three greatest seasons. It's unlikely that has happened to any other player.

#78.  Paul Molitor

Paul Molitor

3B     1978-1998        Primary Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
246.6 75.4 39.7 17.9 57.6

#79.  Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano

2B     2005-2017        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
246.4 65.7 50.5 24.4 58.1

Twice as a prospect in the minor leagues, the Yankees offered Robinson Cano as trade bait to acquire veteran players. Each time the other team rejected Cano and picked another player from the Yankee organization. Cano, who was named for Jackie Robinson, emerged as one of the best second basemen in baseball after being called to the majors in the middle of the 2005 season. He impressed immediately, finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He has a sweet left-handed swing that some have compared to the swing of Hall of Famer Rod Carew. As of 2018, Cano has a career batting average over .300, is closing in on 2,500 hits, and he's hit more than 300 home runs. It seems likely that he'll make the Hall of Fame, and he's still playing a lot of games in the field. He's got a good chance to become a member of the 3,000-hit club, but it's unlikely that he has enough time left to eclipse Carew on this all-time list.

#80.  Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen

3B     1996-2012        Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
246.3 70.0 43.5 22.2 56.8

#81.  Bobby Grich

Bobby Grich

2B     1970-1986        Primary Team: California Angels

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
245.7 70.9 46.3 22.9 58.6

Bobby Doerr wasn't elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame until he was an old man. Joe Gordon was long dead when he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lou Whitaker will probably never get his honor in Cooperstown even though his double play partner, who was almost exactly as valuable as he was during their careers, was elected. The Veterans Committee should do their homework and award Bobby Grich for a great career by putting his name where it belongs: among the greatest second basemen in history as a Hall of Famer. Do it while he's alive, it'll make for a better speech.

#82.  Alan Trammell

Alan Trammell

SS     1977-1996        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
244.7 70.4 44.6 21.5 57.5

#83.  Graig Nettles

Graig Nettles

3B     1967-1988        Primary Team: New York Yankees

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
244.1 68.0 42.2 21.1 55.1

#84.  Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan

SP     1966-1993        Primary Team: California Angels

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
243.6 81.8 43.4 21.8 62.6

#85.  Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry

SP     1962-1983        Primary Team: San Francisco Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
243.0 91.0 53.2 27.5 72.1

#86.  Frankie Frisch

Frankie Frisch

2B     1919-1937        Primary Team: New York Giants

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
242.0 70.4 44.3 23.8 57.4

Frisch is one of the most important people in the history of baseball who is virtually unknown to most modern fans. In college he was one of the most famous athletes in the country, starring in four sports at Fordham University: basketball, track, football, and baseball. When he signed with John McGraw's New York Giants at the age of 20 it was a huge story, sort of like a blue chip quarterback getting drafted today. He immediately made an impact, finishing third in stolen bases as a rookie and sparking the offense for the G-Men. Within a year, McGraw made Frisch team captain, and he essentially served as a manager on the field the remainder of his career. Just about everything he did on the field was flashy and made headlines. When he was traded to the Cardinals it was for Rogers Hornsby, the greatest second baseman of all-time. Frisch received MVP votes in nine of 12 seasons from 1924-1935. He won the award in 1931 for St. Louis.

In 1933 he became player/manager of the Cardinals, whom he guided to a World Championship the following season. He was the second baseman for the National League in the first three All-Star games and he was among the highest paid players in the league for much of his career.

Like Eddie Collins, Frisch was at his best in the postseason. He was a key player in eight World Series. In the 1922 Series against the Yankees he batted .471 with eight hits in five games. The next fall he punished Yankee pitching again to the tune of .400 (10-for-25) in six games.

Following his retirement as a player at the age of 38, Frisch managed for over a decade. He never had the same success as strictly a manager, but he still had a .514 winning percentage for his career. In 1947 he was elected to the Hall of Fame. As a Hall of Famer he was hugely influential in the voting process of the veterans committee for years. Frisch outlived most of his enemies, and as the years passed he slipped several of his former teammates into the Hall of Fame. The list of Frisch inductees includes Dave Bancroft, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, George Kelly, Rube Marquard, Ross Youngs, and Jim Bottomley. These inductees are among the very worst in Cooperstown, and Frisch should be blamed for them, but he still deserves to be remembered as a brilliant second baseman, a World Champion player/manager, and an historic figure in the game.

#87.  Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran

CF     1998-2017        Primary Team: New York Mets

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
241.9 69.8 44.3 21.9 57.1

#88.  Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera

1B     2003-2017        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
241.7 68.8 44.7 22.0 56.8

There's a big gap between Cabrera and those in front of him on the all-time list, but if Miggy can add three decent seasons (after his injury-marred '17 campaign) he can close that divide and inch his way up the rankings... Will likely end up spending his last few seasons as a DH because his lower back, hips, and legs are starting to betray him... Cabrera's OPS against RHP (.937) is the sixth-highest in baseball history by a righthanded batter. He trails Mike Trout, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, and Albert Pujols. His career batting average against RHP (.317), is the second-highest by a RH hitter in history, trailing only Roberto Clemente.

#89.  Larry Walker

Larry Walker

RF     1989-2005        Primary Team: Montreal Expos

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
241.7 72.6 41.8 22.3 57.2

#90.  Jim Thome

Jim Thome

1B     1991-2012        Primary Team: Cleveland Indians

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
240.7 72.9 41.6 20.8 57.3

Four first basemen in this portion of the rankings match up well as "time twins." Sisler is a good match for Hernandez: both were excellent defensive players who made contact and won batting titles. Thome pairs well with Killebrew: both were tremendously powerful sluggers known for hitting high, towering home runs. Both Killer and Thome were also immensely likable lunch pail "Everyday Joe" type of guys. Thome will end up in the Hall of Fame once he's eligible, joining Sisler and Killebrew. But Hernandez has never received much support because his strengths were mismatched with his era when first basemen were mostly big home run hitters.

#91.  Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg

2B     1981-1997        Primary Team: Chicago Cubs

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
240.5 67.5 46.9 23.4 57.2

Who had the more valuable career, Ryne Sandberg or Lou Whitaker? Each was an All-Star many times while winning Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, but they never faced each other because they were in opposite leagues. Sandberg did more eye-popping things: he won an MVP Award, he hit 40 homers, he stole as many as 54 bases. He also won nine straight Gold Gloves. Whitaker never had a monster season like Ryno, but he had several seasons (nine to be exact) where he posted an OPS+ of at least 120 and he had an amazing ten seasons of 4 or more WAR (Sandberg had seven). Whitaker led his league in games played, and that's it. He did win the Rookie of the Year Award and he collected 206 hits and batted .320 one season. But mostly, Whitaker plugged along hitting .275 or so with 165 hits, 80 walks, and 15-20 homers per season. Sandberg produced eight more extra-base hits and swiped 16 more bases per season. Whitaker walked 24 more times per year, hence the advantage each shared in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, respectively. When we adjust for ballpark effect, Whitaker comes out ahead: 116 OPS+ to 114 for Sandberg. That's an indication of how much Wrigley Field helped Sandberg's numbers, which they certainly did. In their road games, Whitaker was the better hitter: .762 OPS to Sandberg's .738. There are those stolen bases, though, about 200 more for Ryno than Sweet Lou. But Whitaker accumulated his stats over 700 more plate appearances, so he has that. In the end, the formula rates Sandberg ahead of Whitaker just barely, because of his greater peak value.

#92.  Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin

SS     1986-2004        Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
239.9 70.2 43.1 20.3 56.7

#93.  Nap Lajoie

Nap Lajoie

2B     1896-1916        Primary Team: Cleveland Naps

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
239.4 107.4 60.2 28.4 83.8

Lajoie had a way of gliding toward the ball, like Cal Ripken Jr. did. He was a tall man but graceful, with a strong arm. He had some peculiar habits in the field: he liked to take his glove with him to the dugout between innings, shunning the practice at the time of tossing the glove into short right field between innings; and he liked to use a new glove each summer, breaking it in by coating it with oil and twisting and bending the leather until it was soft and pliable; he also removed the wrist strap so he could keep the glove low on his wrist, giving him more reach. It worked for him: he led his league in fielding several times.

Lajoie's career nearly ended when he was 30 years old in 1905 after a terrible spiking incident. An opposing runner slashed his leg at second base and the resulting wound became severely infected. Doctors discussed the possibility of amputating Lajoie's leg, but the infection cleared up although Nap missed the remainder of the season after June. He led the league in hits and doubles the following season and had 1,700 more hits after the injury.

As far as I can tell, only three players have had teams after them: Cleveland became the Indians because of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian; Brooklyn adopted "Robins" because of manager Wilbert Robinson; and Cleveland was dubbed the "Naps" for their second base star.

#94.  Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso

LF     1949-1980        Primary Team: Chicago White Sox

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
238.3 50.2 42.2 21.0 46.2

#95.  Mike Trout

Mike Trout

CF     2011-2017        Primary Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
237.5 55.2 55.1 30.7 55.2

#96.  Andruw Jones

Andruw Jones

CF     1996-2012        Primary Team: Atlanta Braves

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
237.4 62.8 46.3 22.5 54.6

#97.  Roberto Alomar

Roberto Alomar

2B     1988-2004        Primary Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
237.2 66.8 42.8 21.3 54.8

Through 2015, only 58 times in baseball history has a second baseman played at least 130 games in a season where he was older than 34. Nearly all of those seasons were mediocre or terrible. Only Tom Daly, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby (one season), Charlie Gehringer, Joe Morgan, Lou Whitaker, Jeff Kent, and Chase Utley (two seasons) defied father time by having good seasons after their 34th birthday. Alomar had a .698 OPS after the age of 34, which is pretty typical for a middle infielder, if they are still in the game at all.

#98.  Lou Whitaker

Lou Whitaker

2B     1977-1995        Primary Team: Detroit Tigers

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
237.0 74.9 37.8 18.9 56.4

Of those who only played second base, who never switched to another position to extend their career, Lou Whitaker played the longest. He was 38 when he retired and he was still a fine ballplayer. He had the best final three seasons of any second baseman in history, though of course by that time he was essentially a platoon player. Nevertheless, when he retired he was doing everything he was good at: covering ground at second, drawing walks, hitting for power, and driving in runs.

Whitaker was never that much interested in being a designated hitter, and his personality didn't fit that role (he became distracted quite easily), which is too bad, because he could have been a valuable platoon player for a couple more seasons and padded his career stats a bit. But, he'd made his money and he went home rather than play for someone other than Detroit.

Early in his career, Whitaker was one of the fastest players in the league, but he ran funny. As a kid he'd been pigeon-toed, and he still carried that with him onto the diamond: he had a tip-toe gate to his stride that made it seem like he wasn't running as fast as he was. A longtime teammate of Whitaker's told me that he never saw Sweet Lou work much on base stealing, and that he refused to get signs or send signs to teammates on the bases. Whitaker was talented but didn't care much about working on the details of the game. That's the biggest difference between he and his double play partner, Alan Trammell. But in spite of not having much use for honing his skills, Whitaker was a great player. His raw talent was that good.

#99.  Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer

SP     1965-1984        Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
236.8 69.4 47.0 22.6 58.2

#100.  Lou Boudreau

Lou Boudreau

SS     1938-1952        Primary Team: Cleveland Indians

Score WAR WAR7 WAR3 JAWS
236.0 63.0 48.9 26.4 56.0