MLB History

The 100 Greatest MLB Players of All Time

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2014

The 100 Greatest MLB Players of All Time

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    Associated Press

    Despite what some football fans may say, baseball remains our national pastime, and it has as rich a history as anything in our pop culture.

    There have been some truly gifted athletes who have taken the diamond over the years, and what follows is my attempt to name the 100 greatest players in MLB history.

    Comparing players across eras is never easy, nor is comparing position players to pitchers, but I've tried my best to fairly gauge them against one another.

    As for the Steroid Era, it's a part of the game's history and can't simply be ignored. For the sake of this list, those players suspected of using PEDs are judged simply on their production on the field, tainted or not.

    Obviously, a certain amount of subjectivity goes into a list like this, and I don't expect everyone to agree. I look forward to defending my selections and urge you to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Nos. 100-96

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    100. SS Ozzie Smith

    The best defensive shortstop the game has ever seen, Ozzie Smith won 13 straight Gold Glove awards while manning the position for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. He was average at best offensively, but he did manage to pile up 2,460 career hits with 402 doubles and 580 stolen bases.

     

    99. RF Dave Winfield

    An elite athlete who was drafted by the MLB, NBA, ABA and NFL after a standout collegiate career at Minnesota, Dave Winfield jumped straight from the college game to the San Diego Padres lineup. He posted a .283/.353/.475 career line with 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI over his 22-year career.

     

    98. 1B George Sisler

    George Sisler was one of the first great hitters in the game, and he twice posted a .400 average. That included a .420 mark in 1922 that stands as the seventh-highest single-season mark and earned him an MVP award. All told, he had a .340/.379/.468 line with 2,812 hits and 1,178 RBI.

     

    97. 3B/DH Paul Molitor

    Spending time at second base, third base and designated hitter, Paul Molitor recorded 3,319 career hits over his 21-year MLB career. That included 605 doubles, which is good for 11th all-time, and 12 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better. He also hit .368/.435/.615 in 117 postseason at-bats, winning 1993 World Series MVP while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays.

     

    96. LF Ralph Kiner

    His career lasted just 10 seasons, but Ralph Kiner earned his place among the all-time greats with a dominant start to his time in the majors. He led the National League in home runs each of his first seven seasons, including a pair of 50-plus homer years. A back injury forced him to retire at the age of 32, but he still managed to tally 369 home runs and 1,015 RBI during his relatively short career.

Nos. 95-91

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    95. RF Paul Waner

    One of the most overlooked pure hitters in baseball history, Paul Waner posted a .333/.404/.473 career line with 3,152 hits in his 20 big league seasons. He hit over .300 in each of his first 12 seasons, topping the 200-hit mark eight times and winning three batting titles while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

     

    94. 1B Johnny Mize

    Despite losing three seasons in his prime while serving in World War II, slugger Johnny Mize still managed to blast 359 home runs with 1,337 RBI in his big league career. He won four home run titles, with his best season coming in 1947, when he posted career bests with 51 home runs and 138 RBI. He was more than just a power hitter, though, as he hit .312/.397/.562 in 15 big league seasons.

     

    93. 1B/3B Harmon Killebrew

    His .256 average does not exactly jump off the page, but Harmon Killebrew more than offset that with his ability to take a walk, as he had a .376 OBP and .884 OPS over his 22-year career. He made a name for himself with his power, though, winning six home run titles and topping the 40-home run mark eight times. His 573 career home runs ranked fifth all time when he retired.

     

    92. RF Vladimir Guerrero

    With a strike zone from his helmet to his shoes, Guerrero was the definition of a free swinger, yet he consistently hit over .300 while doing it. Also an elite base stealer early in his career, the cannon-armed right fielder finished his career with a .318/.379/.553 line to go along with 449 home runs and 1,496 RBI.

     

    91. SP Tom Glavine

    He played second fiddle to Greg Maddux most seasons, but Tom Glavine was one of the best pitchers of the past 30 years in his own right. His 305 career wins rank fourth all-time among left-handed starters, and he topped the 20-win mark five times. He won NL Cy Young honors in 1991 and 1998 and finished in the top three four others times.

Nos. 90-86

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    90. CF Shoeless Joe Jackson

    Though he played just nine full seasons prior to his lifetime ban for being part of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. He was at his best playing for the Cleveland Naps, hitting .381/.449/.550 over a four-year span from 1911-14. He finished his career with 1,772 hits in 1,332 career games.

     

    89. 1B/OF Willie Stargell

    A consistent force in the middle of the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, Willie Stargell hit 475 home runs and drove in 1,540 runs over the course of his 21-year career. He won NL MVP honors as a 39-year-old in 1979, then followed that up with NLCS MVP and World Series MVP as he led the Pirates to a World Series title.

     

    88. 2B Charlie Gehringer

    An offensive force at second base at a time when the position was far more defensive-minded, Charlie Gehringer posted a .320/.404/.480 career line and tallied 2,839 hits in 19 seasons playing for the Detroit Tigers.

     

    87. SP Phil Niekro

    A knuckle-ball pitcher who spent 21 of his 24 big league seasons pitching with the Braves, Phil Niekro pitched until the age of 48. He did not become a full-time starter until the age of 28, yet he still managed to win 319 games, posting an impressive 19 seasons of double-digit wins.

     

    86. RF Reggie Jackson

    One of the most prolific power hitters of all-time, Reggie Jackson is best known for his postseason exploits, and a three-homer performance in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series earned him the nickname Mr. October. He finished his career with 563 home runs and 1,702 RBI, but he is also the all-time strikeout leader with 2,597 whiffs.

Nos. 85-81

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    85. C Roy Campanella

    Roy Campanella played just 10 seasons, but he still managed to put together one of the best careers ever by a backstop. He managed to win three NL MVP awards as the centerpiece of some great Brooklyn Dodgers teams, and his 1953 season is one of the best ever by a catcher. The then-31-year-old hit .312/.395/.611 with 41 home runs and 142 RBI.

     

    84. SP Bert Blyleven

    Nothing highlights the flaws of the current MLB Hall of Fame voting system like the fact that it took Bert Blyleven 14 times on the ballot to earn induction into Cooperstown. On the strength of arguably the best curveball in baseball history, Blyleven won 287 games and struck out 3,701 batters, good for fifth-most all time. His 96.5 rWAR ranks 11th among all pitchers.

     

    83. SS/CF Robin Yount

    Robin Yount banged out 3,142 hits over his 20-year big league career, all of which was spent playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. He brought a good mix of power and speed, tallying 583 doubles, 126 triples, 251 home runs and 271 steals. He won AL MVP in 1982 and 1989, helping lead the Brewers to their only World Series appearance in '82.

     

    82. 1B Willie McCovey

    A prolific slugger during his time with the San Francisco Giants, Willie McCovey had 521 home runs and 1,555 RBI over his 22-year big league career. He won NL MVP honors in 1969 when he hit .320/.453/.656 and led the league with 45 home runs and 126 RBI.

     

    81. RF Ichiro Suzuki

    If this list were simply the best baseball players of all time, Ichiro would rank much higher, as he spent nine seasons playing with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan before coming to the States. Even with his big league career not starting until the age of 27, Ichiro has managed to pile up a ridiculous 2,742 hits in 13 seasons. He hit at least 200 hits with an average over .300 in each of his first 10 seasons in the MLB.

Nos. 80-76

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    80. 2B Rod Carew

    With a .328/.393/.429 career line and an impressive seven batting titles to his credit, Rod Carew was arguably the best contact hitter of the 1970s, and he did it while playing a premium position in second base. He made the All-Star team each of the first 18 seasons of his career, as he was the gold standard at his position in the American League, opposite Cincinnati Reds great Joe Morgan.

     

    79. SP Fergie Jenkins

    The ace of some bad Chicago Cubs teams, Fergie Jenkins still managed to top the 20-win mark six straight seasons from 1967-72, winning the NL Cy Young in 1971. He finished his career 284-226 with a 3.34 ERA, and his 267 complete games are the second most of the Expansion Era (1961-present).

     

    78. 3B Wade Boggs

    He did not have the power most associate with the hot corner, but Wade Boggs was one of the best pure hitters the game has ever seen. In 18 seasons, he posted a line of .328/.415/.443, hitting over .300 15 different times and winning five AL batting titles. His 90.9 rWAR is good for 29th-best among position players.

     

    77. 2B Jackie Robinson

    Jackie Robinson means more to the game of baseball and the sports world in general than simply his statistics, as he opened the door for African-Americans everywhere when he broke the color barrier in 1947. Already 28 years old when he debuted, Robinson managed to hit .311/.409/.474 with 137 home runs and 197 steals in his 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

     

    76. SP Whitey Ford

    The ace of the New York Yankees staff throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Whitey Ford helped lead the Yankees to 11 World Series appearances and six titles during his time with the team. He was 236-106 with a 2.75 ERA for his career, topping the 15-win mark 10 times and winning AL Cy Young honors in 1961.

Nos. 75-71

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    75. C Mike Piazza

    His defense was never anything special, but Mike Piazza has a strong case for being the best offensive catcher in the history of baseball. A 62nd-round pick in 1988, Piazza burst onto the scene with his first of what would be six .300 BA, 30-home run, 100 RBI seasons in 1993 to win NL Rookie of the Year. All told, he hit .308/.377/.545 with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI in 16 major league seasons.

     

    74. LF Al Simmons

    An RBI machine during his time with the Philadelphia A's in the 1920s, Al Simmons ranks 19th on the all-time RBI list with an impressive 1,828 over the course of his 20-year career. He topped the 30 home run mark just three times, but he was a great all-around hitter, posting a .334/.380/.535 career line and winning a pair of batting titles.

     

    73. 3B Brooks Robinson

    The best defensive third baseman of all-time, Brooks Robinson posted a 38.8 defensive WAR for his career, the third-highest total ever behind shortstops Ozzie Smith and Mark Belanger. He was no slouch at the plate either, hitting .267/.322/.401 with 268 home runs and 1,357 RBI in 23 seasons. He won 1964 AL MVP honors and was the 1970 World Series MVP as well.

     

    72. SP Old Hoss Radbourn

    Despite pitching just 11 seasons, Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn managed to put together a 309-194 career record with a 2.68 ERA, puttung up some eye-popping numbers in his brief career. He set the single-season wins record in 1884 when he went 59-12 with a 1.38 ERA and 441 strikeouts in 678.2 innings of work over 75 games (73 starts).

     

    71. 1B/DH Jim Thome

    A slugger in every sense of the word, Jim Thome ranks seventh on the all-time home run list with an impressive 612 career long balls. His 2,548 strikeouts are second only to Reggie Jackson, but he also walked 1,747 times (seventh all time) on his way to a solid .276/.402/.554 career line. He topped 30 home runs 12 times, including six seasons with 40 or more.

Nos. 70-66

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    70. RP Mariano Rivera

    The most dominant reliever the game has ever seen, Mariano Rivera wrapped up a phenomenal 19-year career last year as the all-time saves leader by a wide margin, with 652 for his career, along with a career 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He built his legacy in the postseason, though, as he converted 42 of 47 save chances and went 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA over 96 appearances.

     

    69. 1B Dan Brouthers

    Baseball's first truly great hitter, Dan Brouthers began his career in 1876 playing for the Troy Trojans. In 19 pro seasons, he hit .342/.423/.519, and his 170 OPS+ is the seventh-highest total in baseball history. He won five batting titles and managed to pile up 2,296 hits in just 1,673 career games.

     

    68. SP Ed Walsh

    The all-time ERA leader among pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings, Ed Walsh went 195-126 with a 1.82 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his 14-year MLB career. He had five full seasons with an ERA under 2.00, including a 40-win season while pitching for the Chicago White Sox in 1908.

     

    67. RF Al Kaline

    He never topped the 30-home run mark, and he drove in over 100 runs only three times, but Al Kaline was a consistent producer throughout his 22 big league seasons with the Detroit Tigers. That resulted in a .297/.376/.480 career line that included 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and 1,583 RBI.

     

    66. SP Gaylord Perry

    The definition of a workhorse, Gaylord Perry threw 5,350 innings over his 22-year career, the sixth-most in baseball history. His 303 complete games are the most in the Expansion Era (1961-present), and he finished his career 314-265 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He was also the first pitcher to win the Cy Young award in both leagues, winning it in 1972 with the Cleveland Indians and in 1978 with the San Diego Padres.

Nos. 65-61

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    65. SP Juan Marichal

    One of the first great pitchers to come out of the Dominican Republic, Juan Marichal used a high leg kick and fantastic control to not only dominate on the mound, but to intimidate as well. He finished his career 243-142 with a 2.89 ERA, winning 20 games six different times, and he belongs right alongside Bob Gibson as the top starters of the 1960s.

     

    64. CF Duke Snider

    He did not have the lengthy run of success that some of the other all-time greats did, but from 1953-57 Duke Snider was as good a hitter as anyone in baseball, as he averaged 41 home runs and 117 RBI while hitting .311. Those were far from his only productive seasons but they were his best, as he played a total of 18 seasons and hit .295/.380/.540 with 407 home runs and 1,333 RBI.

     

    63. SP Jim Palmer

    The ace of some very good Baltimore Orioles teams during the 1970s, Jim Palmer won 20-plus games eight different times during the decade and took home three AL Cy Young awards. All told, he went 268-152 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 seasons, leading the Orioles to six AL pennants and three World Series titles by going 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 17 postseason appearances.

     

    62. RF Tony Gwynn

    Set aside his .338 career average and eight NL batting titles for a minute, and the most impressive number for Tony Gwynn may be his 434 strikeouts in 10,232 career plate appearances. To put that into perspective, Mark Reynolds struck out 434 times in 1,258 plate appearances from 2009-10. Gwynn may be the best pure hitter the game has ever seen.

     

    61. 3B Chipper Jones

    One of the best switch-hitters the game has ever seen and certainly in the conversation for best third baseman ever, Chipper Jones spent his entire 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves. The 1999 NL MVP, he hit .303/.401/.528 with 549 doubles, 468 home runs and 1,623 RBI. He won the NL batting title at the age of 36 in 2008 and was still a very productive hitter when he hung it up following the 2012 season.

Nos. 60-56

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    60. LF Manny Ramirez

    PEDs could keep him from earning induction into Cooperstown, but that does not change the fact that Manny Ramirez was one of the best run producers the game has every seen. In 19 big league seasons, he hit .312/.411/.585 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBI, and he also holds the record for postseason home runs with 29.

     

    59. SP Carl Hubbell

    There were few better than Carl Hubbell while he was in his prime, as he was 253-154 with a 2.98 ERA in a 16-year career that included a pair of NL MVP awards. He is perhaps best known for his performance in an exhibition game, though, as he struck out five straight future Hall of Famers in the 1934 All-Star Game, whiffing Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.

     

    58. SS/1B Ernie Banks

    With 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI in his 19-year career, Ernie Banks was the first true power-hitting shortstop and one of the league's most prolific sluggers during his prime. From 1957-60, he averaged a line of .293/.362/.586 with 44 home runs and 123 RBI, and he won back-to-back NL MVP awards in '58 and '59.

     

    57. 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera

    He will continue to climb this list as his career goes on, but as things stand right now, Miguel Cabrera is already one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. He's won back-to-back AL MVP awards and three straight AL batting titles, and he made history by winning the Triple Crown in 2012. Through 11 big league seasons, he's hit .321/.399/.568 with 365 home runs and 1,260 RBI.

     

    56. SP Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown

    Known as "Three Fingers" thanks to a farming accident that cost him most of his pointer finger and part of his pinky on his throwing hand, Mordecai Brown was the ace of some terrific Cubs teams at the turn of the century. He won 20-plus games six straight years from 1906-11 on his way to a 239-130 career record and a dazzling 2.06 ERA that ranks sixth all time.

Nos. 55-51

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    55. 1B Frank Thomas

    An imposing figure in the batter's box who spent some time playing tight end for the football team during his time at Auburn University, Frank Thomas was an absolute beast from the get-go. A slugger who also consistently hit over .300, he finished his career with a .301/.419/.555 line to go along with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBI. He won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 1993 and 1994 while playing for the Chicago White Sox.

     

    54. SP Eddie Plank

    One of the best southpaws in baseball history and a true superstar at the turn of the century, Eddie Plank went 326-194 with a 2.35 ERA in 17 seasons, completing 410 of his 529 starts. He topped the 20-win mark eight different times and had an ERA under 3.00 in all but his first two seasons.

     

    53. 1B Cap Anson

    Another Dead Ball Era star, Cap Anson played a whopping 27 seasons, 22 of which came with the Chicago Cubs. He ranks in the top 10 all time in hits (2,435, sixth), runs (1,999, eighth) and RBI (2,075, third), and he also served as a player-manager for 21 of those seasons. 

     

    52. SP Kid Nichols

    Kid Nichols broke into the league in 1890 as a 20-year-old and proceeded to rattle off 10 straight seasons of 20 or more wins with a 2.97 ERA. He pitched just 13 full seasons but still ranks seventh all time in wins with 361, and his 116.6 rWAR is the fifth-highest mark among pitchers.

     

    51. 1B Eddie Murray

    One of just four players with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career, Eddie Murray also ranks 10th on the all-time RBI list with 1,917. He was arguably the best hitter of the 1980s, is one of the greatest switch-hitters the game has ever seen and still goes largely overlooked in the eyes of history. As a side note, he is also the all-time leader in sacrifice flies with 128.

50. LF Carl Yastrzemski

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    A compiler who managed to play at a high level for an impressive 23 seasons, Carl Yastrzemski finished his career with a .285/.379/.462 line that included 3,419 hits, 452 home runs and 1,844 RBI.

    He really only had four elite-level seasons, hitting .302/.414/.554 and averaging 37 home runs and 102 RBI from 1967-70, and that included his Triple Crown-winning 1967 season. Still, his ability to produce for such a long time earns him a place in the top 50.

49. 1B Hank Greenberg

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    Hank Greenberg topped the 400-at-bat mark just nine times during his career, and he missed three prime seasons while serving in World War II, but he still managed to carve out his place as one of the greatest sluggers of all time.

    He finished his career with a .313/.412/.605 line, 331 home runs and 1,276 RBI and won a pair of AL MVP awards. He launched an AL-high 58 home runs in 1938 and drove in a whopping 183 runs in 1937, and neither of those seasons ended in MVP honors.

48. 2B Joe Morgan

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    The catalyst of the legendary Big Red Machine, Joe Morgan ranks as one of the best all-around second basemen in baseball history. He hit .271/.392/.427 with 268 home runs and 689 stolen bases over his 22-year career.

    His ability to get on base offset a relatively unimpressive batting average, and he ranks fifth all time with 1,865 career walks. Morgan won NL MVP honors in 1975 and 1976, as he hit a combined .324/.456/.541 and averaged 22 home runs, 102 RBI and 64 steals during what were two truly dominant seasons.

47. SP Pedro Martinez

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    He may not have the win total of some of the other all-time greats, as he finished his career with a 219-100 record, but few were better than Pedro Martinez during his prime.

    Over a seven-year span from 1997-03, the right-hander went 118-36 with a 2.20 ERA and 1,761 strikeouts. He won three Cy Young awards, five ERA titles and three strikeout titles during that time, and he took home Triple Crown honors in 1999 when he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts.

46. C Yogi Berra

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    Longevity, home run power and an enigmatic personality earned Yogi Berra a place among the all-time New York Yankees greats. His 14 World Series appearances and 10 World Series titles are both records, as he was a part of some truly great teams.

    In 19 seasons, he hit .285/.348/.482 with 358 home runs and 1,430 RBI, and he was named to the AL All-Star team 15 times. Berra also won AL MVP honors three times, taking home the award in 1951, 1954 and 1955.

45. 3B George Brett

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    Far and away the best player in Kansas City Royals history, George Brett ranks right alongside Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt in the conversation for greatest third basemen in baseball history.

    Brett piled up 3,154 hits with a .305/.369/.487 career line, and he also had some decent pop with 665 doubles and 317 home runs. He won a batting title in three different decades as well and made a serious run at hitting .400 in 1980 when he finished the season with a .390/.454/.664 line to win AL MVP honors.

44. SP Bob Feller

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    On the strength of a blazing fastball, Bob Feller went 266-162 with a 3.25 ERA in his 18 big league seasons. Seven strikeout titles, three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters speak to just how dominant he was during his time with the Cleveland Indians.

    His career numbers would have been even better had he not missed his age-23 to age-25 seasons while serving in World War II. As it is, he still ranks among the greatest to ever toe the rubber.

43. 2B Eddie Collins

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    Part of Connie Mack's "Million Dollar Infield" during his time with the Philadelphia Athletics, Eddie Collins played 25 season and ranks 11th on the all-time list with 3,315 career hits.

    He never once led the league in hits or won a batting title, but he finished his career with an impressive .333/.424/.429 line and his 124.0 career rWAR is good for 10th-best among position players. He also tallied 1,300 RBI and 1,821 runs scored and won AL MVP honors in 1914.

42. RF Roberto Clemente

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    A fantastic all-around hitter, Roberto Clemente was also arguably the greatest defensive right fielder in baseball history. He posted a 204.0 UZR for his career and holds the record for outfield assists among right fielders with 254.

    At the plate, he hit over .300 in 13 different seasons and finished his career with a .317/.359/.475 line and exactly 3,000 hits. His career and life were tragically cut short in a plate crash at the age of 38, when he was en route to deliver relief supplies to an earthquake-damaged Nicaragua.

41. SS Derek Jeter

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    Entering what will be his final big league season, Derek Jeter has been the face of the New York Yankees for years, and he will be looking to go out on top after an injury-plagued 2013 season.

    Jeter has put together a .312/.381/.446 career line, and his 3,316 hits currently place him 10th on the all-time list. He's been a part of seven pennant winners and five World Series champions, hitting .308/.374/.465 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs, 61 RBI and 111 runs in 650 career postseason at-bats.

40. SP Steve Carlton

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    Despite pitching for some terrible Philadelphia Phillies teams, Steve Carlton still managed to go 329-244 with a 3.22 ERA over his 24 seasons in the big leagues. He also ranks fourth on the all-time strikeout list with 4,136 punchouts.

    Originally a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Carlton joined the Phillies in 1972 and immediately became one of the game's best pitchers. He was 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA and 310 strikeouts in his first season with the Phillies, winning the pitching Triple Crown and his first of four NL Cy Young awards.

39. SS Cal Ripken Jr.

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    Perhaps best known for becoming baseball's Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr. appeared in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year playing career. He was more than just a durable player, though, as he truly revolutionized the shortstop position.

    Ripken burst onto the scene to win AL Rookie of the Year in 1982, and he won AL MVP honors the following season. He finished his career with 3,184 hits, including 603 doubles and 431 home runs, ushering in an era of offensive-minded shortstops.

38. 3B Eddie Mathews

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    On the strength of nine straight seasons with 30 or more home runs, Eddie Mathews blasted his way into the 500-home club with 512 over the course of his 17-year career.

    He teamed up with Hank Aaron for much of that time, forming perhaps the best one-two punch outside of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig that the game has ever seen. He was average defensively, but he ranked as the best offensive third baseman of all time by far until George Brett and Mike Schmidt came along.

37. IF/OF Pete Rose

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    Baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256 over the course of his 24-year big league career, Pete Rose won three batting titles and led the league in hits seven different times while earning the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for his all-out style of play.

    His gambling indiscretions earned him a lifetime ban and keep him out of the Hall of Fame, but he certainly deserves a place here among the best to ever play the game.

36. SP Nolan Ryan

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    The all-time strikeouts king with 5,714 in his 27-year career, Nolan Ryan pitched until the age of 46, despite his profile as a power pitcher who relied on his blazing fastball.

    Ryan led the league in strikeouts 11 different times, and he holds the record with seven no-hitters for his career. His 324-292 career record and the fact that he is also the all-time walks leader with 2,795 lead some to call him overrated, but his longevity and overpowering stuff place him squarely among the best pitchers of all time.

35. 2B Nap Lajoie

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    Just behind Rogers Hornsby for the title of best second baseman of all time, Nap Lajoie racked up 3,243 career hits on his way to a .338/.380/.466 career line.

    His .426 batting average in 1901 is the fourth-best mark in baseball history and best since 1900, and it won Lajoie the first of five AL batting titles. His 657 career doubles are seventh all time, and he also tallied 1,599 RBI and 1,504 runs scored.

34. SP Bob Gibson

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    One of the most overpowering pitchers in baseball history, Bob Gibson went 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA in 17 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    He stepped his game up when it mattered most, going 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in nine World Series starts, pitching eight complete games and two shutouts. He also put together what many consider to be the greatest single-season pitching performance in baseball history in 1968, going 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA, 0.853 WHIP, 268 strikeouts and 13 shutouts.

33. C Johnny Bench

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    The best all-around catcher in baseball history, Johnny Bench was a force in the middle of the Big Red Machine's lineup. He was the all-time leader in home runs by a catcher before being passed by Mike Piazza, hitting 389 longballs and driving in 1,376 runs in his 17-year career.

    He was also a terrific defensive catcher, winning 10 Gold Glove awards and throwing out 43 percent of would-be base stealers for his career. He was NL Rookie of the Year as a 20-year-old in 1968, and he added to the trophy case with NL MVP awards in 1970 and 1972.

32. 3B Mike Schmidt

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    The consensus choice for the title of best third baseman in baseball history, Mike Schmidt won eight NL home run titles on his way to 548 career home runs.

    He finished his career with a .267/.380/.527 line and added 1,595 RBI and 1,506 runs scored. Defensively, he was one of the best around as well, winning 10 Gold Glove awards and posting a 17.6 defensive WAR for his career. He took home NL MVP honors in 1980, 1981 and 1986.

31. SP Warren Spahn

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    The winningest left-handed pitcher in baseball history, Warren Spahn was not a full-time member of the Boston Braves rotation until the age of 26, but he still managed to finish his career with 363 wins to go along with a solid 3.09 ERA and 1.195 WHIP.

    He topped the 20-win mark 13 times in his career, tied with Christy Mathewson for the most ever, and he led the league in that category eight different times.

    He spent three seasons serving in World War II, or he likely would have eclipsed the 400-win mark easily.

30. CF Tris Speaker

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    Wikimedia Commons

    With a .345 career average that ranks sixth all time and 3,514 career hits, Tris Speaker is undoubtedly one of the best center fielders the game has ever seen.

    He was not a big home run hitter, but his 792 doubles give him the all-time record in that category, and he also ranks sixth in triples with 222. Defensively, his 449 outfield assists are also a record and are 57 more than Ty Cobb, who ranks second.

29. SP Sandy Koufax

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    HPM/Associated Press

    Sandy Koufax pitched just 12 big league seasons before arthritis in his left elbow forced him to retire at the age of 30 and on top of his game. Still, the four-year run of dominance to close out his career earns him a spot this high on the list.

    The left-hander went 97-27 with a 1.86 ERA from 1963-66, winning three NL Cy Young awards and one NL MVP. He completed 89 of his 150 starts during that span, including 31 shutouts and three of his four no-hitters, one of which is the only perfect game in Dodgers history.

28. RF Frank Robinson

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    WAS/Associated Press

    The only player to win MVP honors in both leagues, Frank Robinson spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Reds before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles and labeled "an old 30" by GM Bill DeWitt.

    He quickly proved that notion wrong, hitting .316/.410/.637 with 49 home runs and 122 RBI in his first season with the Orioles, winning the Triple Crown and AL MVP and leading the team to a World Series title. All told, Robinson hit .294/.389/.537 with 586 home runs and 1,812 RBI in his 21 big league seasons.

27. SP Lefty Grove

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    Associated Press

    Lefty Grove finished his career 300-161, giving him the best winning percentage of any 300-game winner. His 3.06 ERA is solid and made even better with a closer look at the numbers, as his 148 ERA+ is the fourth-best total among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.

    He led the league in wins four times, ERA nine times and strikeouts seven times, and he earned AL MVP honors in 1931 when he went 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA and 175 strikeouts to also claim Triple Crown honors.

26. LF Rickey Henderson

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Everything you could ever ask for in a leadoff hitter, Rickey Henderson is baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases with 1,406 and runs scored with 2,295. He was far from just a speedster, though, as he also hit 510 doubles, 297 home runs and tallied 1,115 RBI.

    An 11-time stolen base champ, Henderson topped the 100-steal mark three different times, including 130 in 1982. He also ranks second on the all-time walks list with 2,190, helping him to a .401 career on-base percentage. He won AL MVP honors for the Oakland Athletics in 1990, and his 110.7 rWAR is 14th-best among position players.

25. SP Tom Seaver

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    The game's best pitcher during what was a golden age of pitching, Tom Seaver racked up 178 wins during the 1970s alone on his way to a 311-205 career record.

    He won three NL Cy Young awards, three win titles, three ERA titles and five strikeout titles over the course of his 20-year big league career. His 3,640 strikeouts are sixth in the all-time list, and his 106.3 rWAR is seventh-best among pitchers.

24. SS/3B Alex Rodriguez

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    His reputation is in shambles at this point, but it's hard to argue that Alex Rodriguez has been one of the most productive players the game has ever seen.

    As things stand today, he has a .299/.384/.558 career line with 654 home runs and 1,969 RBI. He topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI every year from 1998-10, including six straight years over the 40-home run mark and a pair of 50-homer seasons. He's a three-time AL MVP, and his 115.7 rWAR ranks 12th among position players.

23. SP Grover Cleveland Alexander

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    Associated Press

    Third on the all-time wins list with a 373-208 record, Grover Cleveland Alexander posted a 2.56 ERA and 1.121 WHIP over 20 big league seasons.

    He led the league in wins six times, including three straight 30-win seasons, and also added four ERA titles and six strikeouts titles. His 90 shutouts place him second on the all-time list, and his 117.0 rWAR is good for fourth among pitchers.

22. SP Randy Johnson

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Few pitchers have been as intimidating on the mound as the 6'10" Randy Johnson, as his scraggly hair, whip-like release and devastating fastball/slider combination made him an absolute force.

    All told, he finished his 22-year career with 303 wins, a 3.29 ERA and 4,875 strikeouts, and he led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001 alongside fellow ace Curt Schilling. He ranks second on the all-time strikeout list and is certainly in the conversation for greatest left-handed pitcher of all time.

21. 1B Albert Pujols

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Albert Pujols broke into the league with one of the best rookie seasons of all time in 2001, and that would be the first of 10 straight seasons in which he topped a .300 average, 30 homers and 100 RBI.

    All told, he finished his 11-year stretch with the Cardinals with a .328/.420/.617 line to go along with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI. He won three NL MVP awards during that stretch and helped lead the Cardinals to three NL pennants and two World Series titles.

    It's been a rough first two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, but if he can get things back on track, Pujols should continue to climb this list before his career is over.

20. SP Christy Mathewson

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    Associated Press

    The Babe Ruth trade is widely regarded as the worst in baseball history, but the Cincinnati Reds' decision to trade a 19-year-old Christy Mathewson for a washed-up Amos Rusie is a close second.

    Mathewson went on to finish his big league career 373-188 with a 2.13 ERA and 1.058 WHIP, leading the league in wins four times and in ERA five times. He almost single-handedly won the 1905 World Series for the New York Giants, pitching three complete-game shutouts as the Giants took the series 4-1.

19. RF Mel Ott

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    Associated Press

    A big-leaguer at the age of 17, when he hit .383 over 60 at-bats in 1926, Mel Ott hit .328/.449/.635 with 42 home runs and 151 RBI during his age-20 season.

    That was the first of eight straight seasons that he had at least 100 RBI, and it was also the first of eight seasons in which he would blast 30 or more home runs. All told, Ott finished his 22-year career with a .304/.414/.533 line to go along with 511 home runs and 1,860 RBI.

18. 1B Jimmie Foxx

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    Wikimedia Commons

    An absolute masher in the prime of his career, Jimmie Foxx essentially played 14 full seasons in the majors and still managed to finish with 534 home runs and 1,922 RBI.

    From 1929-40, he hit a combined .334/.440/.644 and averaged 40 home runs and 137 RBI. He won three AL MVP awards, four home run titles, two batting titles and one Triple Crown during that span and cemented his place as one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen.

17. CF Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    My favorite player growing up and the face of Major League Baseball in the 1990s, Ken Griffey Jr. could have challenged for a spot in the top 10 if he just could have stayed on the field.

    He topped the 140-game mark just twice after his age-30 season, but he still managed to pile up 524 doubles, 630 home runs and 1,836 RBI over the course of his 22-year career. On top of those numbers, he was a fantastic defender in center field, hit for a solid average and had perhaps the prettiest swing in baseball history.

16. CF Joe DiMaggio

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    Preston Stroup/Associated Press

    Best known for his record 56-game hitting streak during the 1941 season, Joe DiMaggio would have some of the best numbers in baseball history had he not lost his age 28 to age-30 seasons while serving in World War II.

    Even with just 13 big league seasons to his credit, hit finished his career with 2,214 hits, 361 home runs and 1,537 RBI to go along with a .325/.398/.579 line. He won AL MVP in 1939, 1941 and 1947, and he was named to the AL All-Star team every season of his career.

15. SP Roger Clemens

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The PED cloud continues to hang over him and keep him from gaining induction into the Hall of Fame, but from a strictly statistical standpoint, Roger Clemens was one of the greatest pitchers to ever step onto a big league mound.

    In 24 seasons, he went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts. That puts him ninth on the all-time wins list and fifth on the strikeout list. He won seven Cy Young awards and finished in the top three on three other occasions. His 1986 season also won him AL MVP, as he went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts in just his third season in the majors.

14. CF Mickey Mantle

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    Associated Press

    The definition of a five-tool player and the face of Major League Baseball during the 1950s, Mickey Mantle would have had even more impressive career numbers had he avoided injury late in his career, as his days as a superstar were over by his 33rd birthday.

    Still, he managed to hit .298/.421/.557 with 536 home runs and 1,509 RBI. He had some of the best raw power the game has ever seen, leading the league in home runs four times and topping the 50 mark twice. He was a three-time AL MVP and a 16-time All-Star as well.

13. SP Greg Maddux

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Greg Maddux didn't have a blazing fastball or a devastating out-pitch. What he did have was pinpoint control and a mental advantage over almost anyone that stepped into the batter's box against him. That was enough to win him 355 games over his 23-year career, good for the eighth-highest total of all time.

    He won four straight NL Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and was a key cog in the Atlanta Braves winning 14 straight division titles. On top of all of that, his 1995 season will go down as one of the best single-season pitching performances in baseball history, as he was 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA (260 ERA+) and 0.811 WHIP.

12. SS Honus Wagner

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    Wikimedia Commons

    Without a doubt, Honus Wagner, nicknamed "The Flying Dutchman," is the greatest shortstop ever to play the game. He racked up 3,420 hits over his 21-year career, winning eight batting titles on his way to a .328/.391/.467 career line.

    Despite hitting just 101 career home runs, he drove in 1,733 runs and topped the 100-RBI mark nine times in his career, leading the league in that category on five separate occasions. He was part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1936, tying with Babe Ruth for the second-highest vote total.

11. 2B Rogers Hornsby

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    Associated Press

    The best second baseman the game has ever seen, at least from an offensive standpoint, Rogers Hornsby has the second-highest career batting average in baseball history at .358.

    He won seven batting titles, hitting over .400 three different times, and he also win the Triple Crown in 1922 and 1925. Hornsby finished his career with 541 doubles, 169 triples, 301 home runs, 1,584 RBI and 1,579 runs scored as one of the most productive hitters of all time.

10. SP Cy Young

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    Wikimedia Commons

    Baseball's all-time leader in wins (511), losses (316), innings pitched (7,356), starts (815) and complete games (749) and the namesake for baseball's biggest pitching award, Cy Young was the game's first true ace.

    He topped the 20-win mark an impressive 15 times in his career and eclipsed the 30-win mark five times as well. His most impressive stats are his control numbers, though, as he walked just 1,217 batters for a 1.5 BB/9 mark, helping him to lead the league in WHIP seven different times.

9. 1B/OF Stan Musial

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    Associated Press

    A 20-time All-Star and one of the best all-around offensive players to ever play the game, Stan "The Man" Musial finished his 22-year career with a .331/.417/.559 line to go along with 475 home runs, 1,951 RBI and 1,949 runs scored.

    His 3,630 hits are good for fourth all time, as he won seven batting titles and led the National League in hits six different times. His 725 doubles are also good for third on the all-time list, and his 6,134 total bases are second only to Hank Aaron. Musial took home NL MVP honors in 1943, 1946 and 1948, and he spent his entire career with the Cardinals.

8. 1B Lou Gehrig

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    Associated Press

    He may have played second fiddle to Babe Ruth as far as stardom goes, but Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest of all time in his own right, and he was a big reason why Ruth was able to put up the sort of numbers that he did.

    Though his career was cut short with what would later be dubbed "Lou Gehrig's Disease," the slugger still managed to finish his career with 2,721 hits, 493 home runs and 1,992 RBI to go along with a .340/.447/.632 slash line. He won AL MVP honors in 1927 and 1936, leading the league in home runs three times and in RBI five times.

7. SP Walter Johnson

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The greatest pitcher to ever play the game, Walter Johnson spent his entire 21-year career with the Washington Senators, going 417-279 with a 2.17 ERA, 1.061 WHIP and 3,509 strikeouts in 5,914.1 innings of work.

    He topped the 20-win mark 12 different times and led the league in ERA five times. He also captured 12 strikeout titles, and he held the all-time strikeout record from 1921-82 and still ranks ninth. His 152.3 rWAR is second only to Cy Young among pitchers, and while Young did it for longer, Johnson did it better and he earns the top spot among hurlers here.

6. CF Ty Cobb

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    Associated Press

    Despite his prickly personality, Ty Cobb is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play the game, and his .366 career batting average is the highest mark in baseball history.

    He won 12 batting titles and hit over .400 three times on his way to 4,189 career hits. He added 724 doubles, 295 triples and 117 home runs while driving in 1,938 runs and scoring 2,246. Add in 897 stolen bases and it's hard to argue against Cobb being one of the best offensive players in the history of the game.

5. LF Ted Williams

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Perhaps the best pure hitter the game has ever seen, Ted Williams is the last player to register a .400 batting average, as he hit .406 as a 22-year-old in 1941. That was was the first of what would be six batting titles he won, but he was by no means a slap hitter.

    Despite losing three prime season to World War II, he still managed to hit 521 home runs with 1,839 RBI and 1,798 runs scored. His career line of .344/.482/.634 is as impressive as any in baseball history, and it could be a long time if ever before we see another hitter like Williams.

4. RF Hank Aaron

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    Associated Press

    Still the rightful home run king in many people's minds, Hank Aaron finished his 23-year career with 755 home runs and a still-record 2,297 RBI. He is also the all-time leader in total bases by a wide margin with 6,856, as he added 624 doubles and 98 triples to his home run output.

    He led the league in home runs just four times, but he was a model of consistency with 15 seasons in which he launched 30 or more. His 3,771 hits are good for third all time, and his .305/.374/.555 line is impressive considering how long he played. He made 21 All-Star appearances and won NL MVP honors in 1957.

3. LF Barry Bonds

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    Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

    PED use aside, has there ever been a more dominant force at the plate than Barry Bonds from 2001-04? That stretch of seasons began with his record 73-homer campaign and ended with a fourth straight NL MVP award, with Bonds getting on base at a ridiculous .559 clip and slugging .809 in that span.

    A shoo-in Hall of Famer before his alleged PED use ever began, Bonds finished his career with a .298/.444/.607 line that includes 601 doubles and his record 762 home runs. He is also the all-time leader in walks with 2,558, is the only member of the 500/500 club with 514 steals and won eight Gold Glove awards in left field.

    It's hard to place him among the greats because of his cheating, but on performance alone, it's hard to argue against Bonds being a top-five guy at least.

2. CF Willie Mays

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    Associated Press

    The five-tool player by which all other five-tool player are judged, there is nothing Willie Mays couldn't do and do well on baseball field. He wrapped up his 22-year carer with 660 home runs and 1,903 RBI, but the numbers don't tell the full story.

    A physical specimen, Mays was a phenomenal defensive center fielder with a rocket arm and the speed to track balls down the cavernous Polo Grounds. He added 523 doubles, 140 triples and 338 steals to his home run numbers and finished with a career line of .302/.384/.557.

1. RF/P Babe Ruth

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    TOM SANDE/Associated Press

    The greatest the game ever has and likely ever will see, Babe Ruth revolutionized the sport and made the home run what it is today. There were seasons early on where he out-homered entire teams, and when all was said and done, he finished his career with 714 long balls.

    He added to that a .342/.474/.690 line that included 2,220 RBI and 2,174 runs scored, and he won 12 home run titles.

    It was his time on the mound that truly separates him from the pack, though, as he was a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher before moving to the outfield full-time. He finished his pitching career 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA, and he was 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in three World Series starts.

    Simply put, Ruth is the greatest baseball player of all time.

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