Top 10 Greatest Baseball Players In the USA of All Time
Top 10 Greatest Baseball Players In the USA of All Time
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Major League Baseball (MLB) has cherished hundreds of legendary figures since its initiation in 1876 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the United States.

MLB has gifted fans an unprecedented crop of young stars capable of etching their names among baseball royalty. Perhaps history will one day prop these burgeoning studs alongside the game's all-time greats.

For now, none of these young pups have accomplished enough to join iconic names like Ruth, Mays, Aaron, and Cobb. They also have a long road ahead before catching up to underappreciated superstars from the early 20th century, who substituted fence-clearing pop with elite contact, plate discipline, baserunning, gap power, and defense.

These 10 players are truly the best of the best, those that mastered the sport at the highest level. This list is full of diverse and special talents that left their mark on the sport forever.

Top 10 Greatest Baseball Players In the USA of All Time

1. Roger Clemens

Photo: texasmonthly
Photo: texasmonthly

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

Clemens is a controversial inclusion on this due to his steroid use, and he won’t be the last controversial one. However, his prowess as a pitcher goes well beyond his use of steroids and that should not be overlooked. One of the most dominating pitchers in the history of the sport, hitters truly feared facing him.

The Rocket is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, which should tell you everything about his dominance. He won two World Series rings with the Yankees, finished as the MLB ERA leader seven times and he holds the MLB record for 20-strikeout games in 9 innings (twice). If you’re looking for the best starting pitchers ever, Clemens is squarely near the top of the list.

2. Honus Wagner

Photo: calltothepen
Photo: calltothepen

Team(s): Louisville Colonels (1897-99), Pirates (1900-1917)

Stats: .328/.391/.467, 101 HR, 1,732 RBI, 3,420 H, 130.8 bWAR

One of the greatest hitting infielders ever, Honus Wagner, playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was an eight-time National League batting champion, a career record only matched by Tony Gwynn in 1997. Wagner played all infield positions and right field too. In 1900, maybe Wagner’s greatest season, he hit .381 (his highest seasonal average) with an OPS of 1.007, and hit 45 doubles, 22 triples and knocked in 100 runs (he knocked in 100 or more runs eight times). Famously, Wagner said, “I don’t make speeches; I just let my bat speak for me in the summertime.”

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3. Stan Musial

Photo: howtheyplay
Photo: howtheyplay

Team(s): St. Louis Cardinals (1941-63)

Stats: .331/.417/.559, 475 HR, 1,951 RBI, 3,630 H, 128.7 bWAR

Stan Musial won seven batting titles over 22 glorious years with the St. Louis Cardinals, but don't overlook his power.

Alongside the lefty's 475 home runs, he accrued MLB's third-most doubles (725) behind Rose and Speaker. He retired a .331/.417/.559 batter who would likely reside third on the all-time hits leaderboard if not for missing the 1945 season to serve in the military.

A fun fact noted noted by ESPN.com's Mark Simon: Musial evenly split his 3,630 knocks at home and on the road.

He reached new heights in 1948, batting an astounding .376/.450/.702 with a career-high 39 home runs and 11.1 fWAR and rWAR. Having never reached 20 long balls before the MVP campaign, he proceeded to do so 10 straight times in a legendary prime.

4. Ty Cobb

Photo: beyondtheboxscore
Photo: beyondtheboxscore

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

Ty Cobb may not have had the best behavior of any MLB player. Pugnacious and profane, he once climbed into the stands and attacked a heckler—who was handicapped! But Cobb sure knew how to hit the ball, compiling a list of hitting records few MLB players can approach. He wasn’t just a contact hitter, either; he could hit home runs and knocked in 1,944 runs during a 24-year career. Cobb established 90 MLB records during his long career, one of which will probably never be broken—a lifetime batting average of .366! Notably, Cobb played 22 seasons for the Detroit Tigers, the last six of which as a player-manager. And often considered a racist, after Cobb’s career, he favored the integration of MLB in 1947, and his favorite black player was Willie Mays.

5. Walter Johnson

Photo: loc
Photo: loc

Team(s): Washington Senators (1907-27)

Stats: 417-279, 2.17 ERA, 3,509 SO, 5,914 1/3 innings, 164.8 bWAR

From 1907 to 1919, Walter Johnson posted a 1.65 ERA and 1.86 FIP. With eight seasons left in his Hall of Fame career, the Washington Senators ace had already compiled 297 victories.

Had the Cy Young Award existed, he would have won plenty. After all, he accrued at least 320 innings with an ERA of 1.90 or lower in seven-straight seasons, a streak ended by 1917's bloated 2.21 ERA.

The two-time MVP—called the Chalmers Award when he first won in 1913—also joined Rube Waddell as the second pitcher to tally 300 strikeouts in a single season. Among long-term starters, only Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez and Lefty Grove notched a better ERA+ than his 147.

Nobody hit more batters, but he's also the only hurler to finish over 100 shutouts.

6. Hank Aaron

Photo: si
Photo: si

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

Perhaps Hank Aaron’s greatest achievement was breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 by hitting 755. In order to break one of MLB’s most hallowed records, Aaron hit 30 or more home runs for 15 seasons! Of course, only Barry Bonds has more career homers (762). But Aaron has other career records that may never be broken: 2,297 RBIs, 1,477 extra base hits and 6,856 total bases. Aaron also has the record for times selected to the All-Star team: 25. Interestingly, Aaron began his MLB career at the age of 20 in 1954; but when 15 in 1949 he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers yet, unbelievably—didn’t make the team. Just imagine what his career records would have been if he had become a Dodger five years earlier!

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7. Ted Williams

Photo: military
Photo: military

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, largely because of the astronomical numbers he put up but also because of how he revolutionized the approach to hitting. His book, "The Science of Hitting," came out in 1970 and is still referenced frequently today, preaching modern-day concepts such as 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 boasts the highest on-base percentage in baseball history and is the last hitter to reach a .400 batting average. At ages 39 and 40, in 1957 and '58, he won the AL batting title. And his career totals could have been even higher had he not missed three prime seasons to serve in World War II.

8. Barry Bonds

Photo: bucsdugout
Photo: bucsdugout

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 certainly one of the greatest power hitters of all time, his prowess at such positively Ruthian, Maysian or was it Bondsian? Anyway, Bonds put up some mind-boggling career totals: an OPS of 1.051, 1,996 RBIs, 2,227 runs scored and won 12 Silver Slugger awards. Also a great defensive player—though his arm wasn’t the best—he won eight Gold Glove awards. Showing an outstanding combination of power and speed, Bonds is the only MLB player to hit over 500 home runs and steal over 500 bases. Perhaps his greatest season was 2001, when he hit 73 homers, knocked in 137, achieved an OPS of 1.379 and walked 177 times. Although his reputation was marred by his inclusion in the steroids scandal, Barry Bonds has little if anything to prove in MLB.

9. Willie Mays

Photo: npr
Photo: npr

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 one of the greatest center fielders ever. Defensively, he is perhaps the best. His ground coverage as a center fielder was amazing and he could hit too. He hit well too. His WAR and OPS are both testaments to that. Pitchers were scared to pitch to him and hitters were scared to hit him.

Willie Mays is most famous for “The Catch” and his spectacular play in the Polo Grounds deserves all of the recognition, that play also shows so much more. It showcases the athleticism and hustle he played with for nearly 20 years with the Giants, 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 unquestionably the best center fielder ever and if the defense is valued highly, the greatest outfielder in MLB history.

10. Babe Ruth

Photo: celebrity
Photo: celebrity

Team(s): Boston Red Sox (1914-19), New York Yankees (1920-34), Boston Braves (1935)

Stats:

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

Often considered the greatest baseball player of all time because Babe Ruth could not only hit—he could pitch too! But his greatest baseball achievements pertain to his prowess as a slugging outfielder. Although his record for career home runs (714) has been surpassed by two players, his records for lifetime OPS, OPS+ (OPS adjusted for average) and slugging percentage, still stand. As for the Babe’s pitching, he won 94 games and won over 20 games in a season twice, with a career ERA of 2.28. Interestingly, since Babe Ruth began hitting an unusual number of home runs during the so-called dead-ball era, hitting 29 in 1919, the year 1920 initiated the present live-ball era. Certainly one of baseball’s most memorable characters, the name of Babe Ruth is synonymous with MLB.

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