Who Are The Greatest Baseball (MLB) Players In the USA of All Time – Top 10
Since the league’s founding in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1876, hundreds of legendary figures have been honored by Major League Baseball (MLB).
MLB has bestowed upon fans a rare crop of up-and-coming talent who have the potential to become baseball greats. Maybe in the future, history will place these rising stars next to the greatest players of all time.
None of these young puppies have yet achieved enough to join legendary names like Aaron, Cobb, Mays, Ruth, or Mays. They also have a long way to go before they can catch up to the underappreciated superstars of the early 20th century, who replaced their elite contact, plate discipline, baserunning, gap power, and defense with baserunning and base clearing pop.
These ten athletes are the absolute best in the game; they have attained the pinnacle of skill in it. There are many unique and talented people on this list who have had a lasting impact on the sport.
Team(s): Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees
Stats: 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 2.96 K/BB
Because of his steroid use, Clemens is a contentious inclusion on this list, and he won’t be the last. Still, it’s important to remember that his skill as a pitcher transcends even his use of performance-enhancing drugs. A truly fearsome pitcher, one of the most dominant in baseball history, faced hitters.
The Rocket’s seven Cy Young Award victories should be enough to convince you of his supremacy. With the Yankees, he was the MLB ERA leader seven times, won two World Series rings, and twice set the record for the most strikeout games in nine innings (20 total). Clemens is undoubtedly in the upper echelon of all starting pitchers ever, if you ask me.
Team(s): Louisville Colonels (1897-99), Pirates (1900-1917)
Stats: .328/.391/.467, 101 HR, 1,732 RBI, 3,420 H, 130.8 bWAR
Playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Honus Wagner was one of the greatest hitting infielders of all time. He won eight National League batting titles, a record that was only surpassed by Tony Gwynn in 1997. Wagner played right field as well as all infield positions. Perhaps Wagner’s best season came in 1900, when he knocked in 100 runs (seven times) and hit.381, his highest seasonal average, with an OPS of 1.007. He also hit 45 doubles and 22 triples. Wagner is famous for having said, “In the summer, I just let my bat speak for me. I don’t make speeches.”
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Team(s): St. Louis Cardinals (1941-63)
Stats: .331/.417/.559, 475 HR, 1,951 RBI, 3,630 H, 128.7 bWAR
Don’t underestimate the power of Stan Musial, who spent 22 illustrious years with the St. Louis Cardinals and won seven batting titles.
In addition to his 475 home runs, the lefty has 725 doubles, which is third most in MLB behind Speaker and Rose. He retired a hitter who batted.331/.417/.559 and who, but for missing the 1945 season to serve in the military, would probably be ranked third on the all-time hits list.
Mark Simon of ESPN.com pointed out a fascinating fact: Musial split his 3,630 knocks equally between home and away.
In 1948, he hit a career-high.376/.450/.702 with 39 home runs, 11.1 fWAR, and rWAR, setting new records. Before the MVP campaign, he had never reached 20 long balls. In his illustrious prime, he went on to accomplish this ten times in a row.
Team(s): Detroit Tigers (1905-26), Philadelphia Athletics (1927-28)
Stats: .366/.433/.512, 117 HR, 1,944 RBI, 4,189 H, 151.5 bWAR
Among all MLB players, Ty Cobb might not have had the best manners. He once attacked a heckler—who was disabled—by climbing into the stands, displaying his brutish and vulgar nature. Cobb, however, possessed a great deal of hitting ability and amassed a list of hitting records that few MLB players can match. Throughout the course of a 24-year career, he knocked in 1,944 runs and was not just a contact hitter. He could also hit home runs.
Throughout his lengthy career, Cobb set 90 MLB records, the most notable of which is likely his lifetime batting average of.366! Cobb was a notable player for the Detroit Tigers for 22 seasons, the final six of which he spent as a player-manager. Frequently regarded as a bigot, Cobb supported MLB’s 1947 integration following his playing career. Willie Mays was his favorite black player.
Team(s): Washington Senators (1907-27)
Stats: 417-279, 2.17 ERA, 3,509 SO, 5,914 1/3 innings, 164.8 bWAR
Walter Johnson had a 1.65 ERA and 1.86 FIP from 1907 to 1919. With only eight seasons remaining in his Hall of Fame career, the Washington Senators’ ace had already won 297 games.
He would have won many Cy Young Awards if they had existed. After all, he had pitched at least 320 innings with an ERA of 1.90 or lower in seven consecutive seasons, a streak that was broken by 1917’s bloated 2.21 ERA.
The two-time MVP, known as the Chalmers Award when he first won it in 1913, also became the second pitcher in history to record 300 strikeouts in a single season, joining Rube Waddell. Only Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez, and Lefty Grove had a higher ERA+ than his 147.
Nobody has hit more batters, but he is also the only pitcher with more than 100 shutouts.
Team(s): Negro Leagues (1951, Indianapolis Clowns), Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1954-74), Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76)
Stats: .305/.374/.555, 755 HR, 2,297 RBI, 3,771 H, 143.1 bWAR
Hank Aaron’s most notable accomplishment was breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 with 755. Aaron had to hit 30 or more home runs for 15 seasons to break one of MLB’s most illustrious records! Only Barry Bonds has more career home runs (762). However, Aaron’s other career records are unlikely to be broken: 2,297 RBIs, 1,477 extra base hits, and 6,856 total bases.
Aaron also holds the record for the most All-Star selections: 25. Interestingly, Aaron began his MLB career at the age of 20 in 1954; however, at the age of 15, he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers and, unbelievably, did not make the team. Imagine what his career stats would have been if he had joined the Dodgers five years earlier!
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7. Ted Williams
Team(s): Boston Red Sox (1939-42, 1946-60)
Stats: .344/.482/.634, 521 HR, 1,839 RBI, 2,654 H, 122.1 bWAR
Williams was probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, owing to his astronomical numbers but also to the way he revolutionized the approach to hitting. His book, “The Science of Hitting,” was published in 1970 and is still widely used today, preaching modern concepts like swinging with a slight uppercut, letting the hips lead, and focusing on the parts of the strike zone where hitters can do the most damage.
Williams has the highest on-base percentage in baseball history and is the last hitter to hit.400. He won the AL batting title at the ages of 39 and 40, in 1957 and 1958. His career totals could have been even higher if he hadn’t missed three prime seasons to serve in WWII.
Team(s): Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92), San Francisco Giants (1993-2007)
Stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 HR, 2,935 H, 2,558 BB, 162.7 bWAR
Barry Bonds was unquestionably one of the greatest power hitters of all time, with Ruthian, Maysian, or Bondsian prowess. Anyway, Bonds had an incredible career, with an OPS of 1.051, 1,996 RBIs, 2,227 runs scored, and 12 Silver Slugger awards. He was also a great defensive player, winning eight Gold Glove awards despite having a weak arm. Bonds is the only MLB player to have hit over 500 home runs and stolen over 500 bases, demonstrating an exceptional combination of power and speed.
His best season was 2001, when he hit 73 home runs, drove in 137, had an OPS of 1.379, and walked 177 times. Despite his reputation being tainted by his involvement in the steroid scandal, Barry Bonds has little to prove in MLB.
Team(s): Negro Leagues (1948, Birmingham Black Barons), New York/San Francisco Giants (1951-52, 1954-72), New York Mets (1972-73)
Stats: .301/.384/.557, 660 HR, 1,909 RBI, 3,293 H, 156.1 bWAR
Mays is regarded as one of the best center fielders of all time. He is possibly the best defensive player in the league. His ground coverage as a center fielder was incredible, and he could also hit. He also hit well. His WAR and OPS are both evidence of this. Pitchers were afraid to pitch to him, and batters were afraid to strike him out.
Willie Mays is best known for “The Catch,” and while his spectacular play in the Polo Grounds deserves all of the credit, it also demonstrates so much more. It exemplifies the athleticism and hustle with which he played for the Giants for nearly two decades, delivering a play of play that helped him win 12 Gold Glove Awards and lead the NL in home runs and steals four times. He is without a doubt the greatest center fielder in MLB history, and if defense is valued highly, the greatest outfielder in MLB history.
Team(s): Boston Red Sox (1914-19), New York Yankees (1920-34), Boston Braves (1935)
As a hitter: .342/.474/.690, 714 HR, 2,214 RBI, 2873 H, 162.7 bWAR
As a pitcher: 94-46, 2.28 ERA, 488 SO, 1,221 IP, 20.4 bWAR
Babe Ruth is widely regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time because he could not only hit but also pitch! His greatest baseball accomplishments, however, are related to his abilities as a slugging outfielder. Although his career home run total (714) has been surpassed by two players, his lifetime OPS, OPS+ (OPS adjusted for average), and slugging percentage records remain unbroken. With a career ERA of 2.28, the Babe won 94 games and twice won more than 20 games in a season.
Interestingly, because Babe Ruth began hitting an unusual number of home runs during the so-called dead-ball era, hitting 29 in 1919, the year 1920 marked the beginning of the current live-ball era. Babe Ruth’s name is synonymous with Major League Baseball, and he is without a doubt one of the game’s most memorable characters.
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