Backstopping the list at #39 is Reds catcher Johnny Bench. Known as Little General, Bench led the Big Red Machine to two World Series titles in four appearances in the 1970s. Bench excelled in all facets of the game, ranking third all-time in offensive WAR among catchers and 6th all-time in dWAR among catchers. He’s the only catcher in history with three seasons driving in at least 125 runs, and the only catcher in history to lead the league in RBIs three times. His 45 home runs and 148 RBIs in 1970 are the most by a catcher in history, and his 355 total bases in 1970 are tied with Mike Piazza for the highest single-season total by a catcher. Bench is the only catcher in history to lead the league in home runs, and he did it twice. He was named the World Series MVP in 1976, joining Mike Schmidt and Frank Robinson as the only players in history with two regular-season MVPs and a World Series MVP. During his World Series MVP run, Bench hit a robust .533 with 17 total bases in Cincinnati’s four-game sweep of the Yankees.
Curving in at #40 is Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax. The Man with the Golden Arm had arguably the greatest four-year stretch in Major League Baseball history at any position. Koufax helped lead the Dodgers to three World Series titles, becoming one of only three players in history to win two World Series MVPs. Koufax is the only player in history with two World Series MVPs over a three-year stretch. He won the 1963, 1965, and 1966 Cy Young awards becoming the only player in history with three Cy Young awards and two World Series MVPs, and he accomplished it over just four seasons. Koufax is the only player in history to lead the league in ERA for five consecutive seasons. He’s also the only player in history to lead the league in H/9 for five consecutive seasons. No player in history led the league in WHIP for more consecutive seasons than Koufax’s four. He’s the only pitcher since 1945 to win at least 25 games three times in a four-year stretch. His 382 strikeouts in 1965 are second all-time and just one shy of Nolan Ryan’s single-season record. His .825 career World Series WHIP is the lowest in history among pitchers with at least 40 innings, and he’s the last pitcher to throw two shutouts in a single World Series.
Popping in at #41 is Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Willie Stargell. Legends are made in the postseason and that’s exactly where Pops shined brightest. He led the Pirates to six playoff appearances and his performance in a losing effort in the 1974 NLCS solidified his status as a postseason powerhouse, but it was what he did in the 1979 postseason that still echoes through the halls of baseball history. Stargell led the Pirates to a three-game sweep of the Reds in the 1979 NLCS, hitting two home runs, two doubles, and driving in six on his way to the NLCS MVP. In the World Series, Stargell was even better as he piled up 12 hits, three home runs, four doubles, and seven RBIs in a 7-game thriller against the Orioles. His home run and two doubles in Game 7 helped clinch the series for the Pirates and the World Series MVP for Pops. He also won the National League MVP, making him the only player in Major league baseball history to win an LCS, World Series, and regular-season MVP in the same season–and he did it at 39 years old! Stargell’s regular-season accomplishments are nothing to scoff at either. Aside from winning the 1979 MVP, he finished runner-up twice, led the league in home runs and OPS+ twice, finished in the top-10 in home runs 10 times, and finished with a 147 career ops+.
Powering in at #42 is New York Giants Hall of Famer Mel Ott. The diminutive Ott took his 5’9, 170-pound frame and turned it into a run-producing machine. Although the people responsible for giving him the nickname “Master Melvin” should be ashamed, there was nothing shameful about Ott’s career totals. Over 22 seasons with the Giants, Ott surpassed 500 home runs, 1,850 RBIs and runs, and did so with a .304 batting average, .414 on-base percentage, and a 155 OPS+. Ott is the only player in history with 2,800 hits and 1,700 walks with fewer than 900 strikeouts, and he’s the only player in history with 500 home runs and 1,850 RBIs with fewer than 900 strikeouts. Ott and Babe Ruth are the only players in history to lead the league in home runs and walks at least six times each. Ott’s streak of 18 consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of at least 130 is just one behind Hank Aaron for the all-time record. Ott’s 10th-inning home run against the Washington Senators in Game 5 of the 1933 World Series clinched the championship for the Giants. Ott led all players in the series in hits, runs, RBIs, home runs, and walks.
Coming at #43 is the namesake of Major League Baseball’s pinnacle award for pitching, Cy Young. Young is pretty much the major league leader in every pitching category, holding the top spots in career wins, losses, games started, complete games, innings, hits allowed, and earned runs allowed. His 7,356 career innings are over 1,400 more than any other pitcher in history. Behind Young’s massive volume is one of the most frugal pitchers ever when it comes to issuing walks. Young led the league in BB/9 a record 14 times, five more than any other pitcher. He led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio a record 11 times and no other pitcher led the league in WHIP and shutouts more often. Young’s 16 20-win seasons are the most in history and his streak of 14 consecutive seasons of 20-wins is the longest in history. Young also led the Boston Americans—soon to be Boston Red Sox—to victory in 1903 in the first-ever World Series between the American League and the National League.
Doubling onto the last at #44 is The Gray Eagle Tris Speaker. Speaker’s 792 career doubles make him baseball’s king of the two-bagger. He led the league in doubles a record eight times and holds the record for 30, 40, and 50-double seasons. Few players in history can equal Speaker’s lofty place in the record books where he stands 5th all-time in hits, 6th in batting average and triples, 9th in WAR, and 11th in on-base percentage. He has the most 145-hit seasons and the most consecutive 145-hit seasons in history. He’s the only player in history with at least 1,300 career walks and fewer than 400 strikeouts. He’s the only player in history with 3,000 career hits and 400 stolen bases with fewer than 400 strikeouts. He’s the only player in history with 3,500 hits and 750 doubles, and he’s the only player in history with 3,500 hits and 300 sacrifice hits. No player in MLB history has more seasons with both a .370 batting average and a .460 on-base percentage than Speaker’s six (Babe Ruth also has six). Speaker played in three World Series leading his team to victory on all three occasions.
Winding up at #45 is Orioles ace, Jim Palmer. Prior to the 19-year-old Palmer showing up in Baltimore in 1965, the Orioles had won zero world titles and made one World Series appearance. During his 19 seasons with the O’s, Palmer helped lead them to three World Series titles in six appearances. Palmer’s shutout of Sandy Koufax and the defending World Series champion Dodgers in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series got the ball rolling on Baltimore’s dynasty. Palmer would play an integral part in Baltimore’s subsequent playoff success. His eight postseason wins are the most in franchise history and his 2.61 postseason ERA is the 4th best all-time among pitchers with at least 120 career postseason innings. Palmer was even better in the regular season. He won the AL Cy Young in 1973, 1975, and 1976 and finished runner-up in 1977 and 1982 on his way to eight top-5 finishes. Palmer’s eight 20-win seasons are the most by any pitcher since 1955 and he has the most 290-inning seasons since 1970. Palmer is one of only four pitchers since 1935 with 265 career wins and a .638 winning percentage.
Taking the mound at #46 is “Lefty” Steve Carlton. Carlton’s four Cy Young awards are the third most in history, and for the first 40 years the award existed no pitcher won more of them. Carlton is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history with at least 325 wins, 5,000 innings, and 4,000 strikeouts. No pitcher since 1930 has more seasons of at least 23 wins (Lefty Grove, Robin Roberts, and Bob Feller also have four) and no pitcher since 1950 has more 230-inning seasons (Seaver also has 15). Carlton’s 16-consecutive seasons of at least 10 complete games are the most since 1948. He’s 4th on the all-time strikeout list, 9th in innings, and 11th in wins. Carlton helped the Cardinals reach two World Series including a World Series title in 1967. He also led the Phillies to two World Series appearances and the 1980 World Series title in which he pitched a masterpiece in game six to close out the series.
Sliding in at #46 on the list is SpongeBob’s favorite baseball player, “The Flying Dutchman” Honus Wagner. Wagner was the original “greatest of all time” when Major League Baseball was officially formed in 1903. While his reign at the top was usurped by Ty Cobb by 1910, Wagner’s imprint on the sport is still felt today as his 1909 T206 baseball card has been the most sought after on the market for over a century. Few players in history appear in baseball record books as often as Wagner. He’s third all-time in triples, 8th in hits, and 10th in doubles and stolen bases. Among shortstops, he’s the all-time leader in hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, WAR, batting average, and OPS+. Wagner led the league in WAR for position players 11 times, batting average and OPS eight times, doubles, extra-base hits, and runs created seven times, total bases and slugging % six times, on-base percentage and RBIs four times, triples three times, and hits and runs twice. Wagner was the star of the 1909 World Series as he led the Pirates to the title over the Tigers, throwing one last salvo at Cobb before the changing of the guard.
Switch hittin’ the list at #48 is Braves third baseman and 1995 NL MVP Chipper Jones. Chipper’s combination of contact, power, and plate discipline is unrivaled at the hot corner. He’s the only third baseman in history to reach both 1,600 career runs and RBIs. He’s the only third baseman in history with a .300 career batting average and 450 home runs. He’s the only third baseman in history with a .300 career batting average and a .529 slugging percentage. He’s the only third baseman in MLB history with at least a .300 batting average and a 140 OPS+. He’s the only third baseman in history with at least a .400 on-base percentage and 1,100 extra-base hits, and he’s the only third baseman in history with at least 2,700 career hits and an OPS+ of 140. His .930 career OPS is the most all-time for a third baseman with at least 6,000 plate appearances, and he’s second all-time among third basemen in on-base percentage and slugging %. Chipper wasn’t just a regular-season on-base machine. His .409 postseason on-base percentage is the 9th best in history among qualifiers and the highest mark in postseason history among players with at least 340 post-season plate appearances. He’s the all-time leader in postseason walks and 4th all-time in postseason intentional walks.
Storming into the list at #49 is Royals third baseman, George Brett. Brett spent all 21 of his seasons with the Royals. Brett won the AL MVP in 1980 and had a strong case in 1976 and 1985, finishing runner up in both seasons. He led the league in OPS+, hits, triples, slugging percentage, and runs created three times and he won three batting crowns. He joins Stan Musial as the only two players in history with at least 650 doubles, 130 triples, and 300 home runs, and he also joins Musial as the only two players in history with 3,100 career hits and 300 home runs with fewer than 950 strikeouts. He’s the only player since 1942 to hit at least .390 in a single season (min. 500 plate appearances). He’s 10th all-time in intentional walks, 6th in sacrifice flies, and 7th in doubles. As impressive as Brett’s regular-season career was, he was even more impressive in the playoffs. He won the ALCS MVP in 1985 while leading the Royals to a World Series title. Among players with at least 180 postseason plate appearances, Brett is second all-time in career postseason slugging percentage (Nelson Cruz), batting average (Steve Garvey), and OPS (Albert Pujols).
Joining the list at #50 is Boston slugger Carl Yastrzemski. Yaz spent 23 seasons with the Red Sox which are tied with Brooks Robinson for the most seasons spent with a single franchise. Yaz didn’t just play for 23 seasons, he was a productive player for 23 seasons, amassing 18 all-star game appearances, and receiving MVP votes in 14 different seasons. Yastrzemski is the only player in history with 3,400 career hits and 1,800 walks. He’s also the only player in history with 3,000 hits, 1,800 RBIs, 1,800 runs, and 1,800 walks. Yaz is in the top-10 all-time in hits, doubles, walks, and total bases and he led the league in on-base percentage five times, OPS+ four times, runs, and doubles three times while also winning three batting crowns. He joins Babe Ruth and Ted Williams as the only players in history with 1,800 career walks, 1,100 extra-base hits, and fewer than 1400 strikeouts. He joins Hank Aaron and Stan Musial as the only players in history with 3,400 career hits and 1,100 extra-base hits, and he joins Musial and Albert Pujols as the only players in history with at least 645 career doubles and 450 home runs. Yaz won the AL Triple Crown in 1967 on his way to the league MVP, and he hit .352 with a .438 on-base percentage in two World Series appearances.
Up next at #51 is starting pitcher Curt Schilling. The two most important traits a pitcher can have are limiting contact and avoiding walks. Schilling’s arsenal might have featured the best mix of both the league has ever seen. Schilling is the only pitcher since 1920 to pitch at least 3,000 innings with a K/BB ratio of at least 4.38. He’s the only pitcher in history with 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 715 walks. Schilling and Juan Marichal are the only two pitchers since 1920 with at least 215 career wins and fewer than 715 walks. What makes Schilling’s power/control mix so remarkable is that he was able to maintain it while also being one of the preeminent workhorses in Major League Baseball. He’s the last pitcher to throw back-to-back seasons of 250 innings, and he led the league in complete games four times. Since 1988, only Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux have more complete games. Schilling’s regular-season numbers are Hall of Fame-worthy on their own. He’s the last pitcher to have three seasons of at least 21 wins and he led the league in strikeout to walk ratio five times, but it’s the success he had in the postseason that makes him one of the most unique pitchers baseball has ever seen. Over 133 and 1/3 career postseason innings, Schilling went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and .97 WHIP while winning four World Series titles in four appearances. He was named the 1993 NLCS MVP and 2001 World Series MVP. He holds the record for most innings pitched in a single postseason without a loss (48 and 1/3 in 2001). He holds the record for most strikeouts in a single postseason (56 in 2001). He holds the record for Win Probability added in a single postseason (2.1 in 2001), and he has the highest postseason winning percentage in history among starting pitchers with at least 55 postseason innings.
Joining the list at #52 is second baseman Joe Morgan. Morgan was a vital cog to Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, combining with Pete Rose to provide a 1-2 punch at the top of the order that rivals any in history. Morgan helped lead the Reds to two World Series titles in four appearances. Morgan was the perfect combination of speed, power, and patience. He joins Rickey Henderson as the only two players in history with 1,800 career walks, 1,600 runs, and 650 stolen bases. Morgan and Henderson are the only two players in history with 250 career home runs and 650 stolen bases. Among second basemen, Morgan is arguably the greatest since 1930. His 1,865 walks are the 5th most in history regardless of position and 366 more than any other second baseman. Morgan’s 689 career stolen bases are the most by a second baseman since the dead-ball era. Morgan joins Rogers Hornsby as the only second basemen to win two league MVPs and he racked up 19.1 more WAR than any other second baseman since 1930.
Next up at #53 is Grover Cleveland Alexander, or Ol’ Pete. Pete was one of Major League Baseball’s original OGs as he threw straight fire for the 10-year stretch from 1911-1920. Over that decade, Pete would lead the league in innings seven times, wins, WAR for pitchers, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts six times, and ERA five times. During this remarkable run, Pete put together three consecutive 30-win seasons and four consecutive 350-inning seasons. No pitcher in the modern era has duplicated either accomplishment. Pete’s 373 career wins are tied for the third-most all-time. He’s fourth all-time in WAR among pitchers and second in shutouts. Pete is one of only five pitchers in the modern era with at least 3,500 innings and a .642 winning percentage, and one of only six pitchers in the modern era with at least 3,500 innings and a 135 ERA+.
Hitting the list at #54 is baseball’s hit king, Pete Rose. Charlie Hustle’s 4,256 career hits are the most all-time and once Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Yadier Molina retire, no active player will be within 2,000 of his total. Rose’s records are too numerous to name, but we can at least give it a try. He’s tied with Ichiro as the all-time leader with 10 200-hit seasons. He led the league in hits seven times which is tied with Tony Gwynn for the most since the dead-ball era. He finished first or second in hits 13 times which is the most in history. He has the most doubles since the dead-ball era. He’s the only player in history with 4,000 hits and 1,500 walks. Rose reached base an unfathomable 5,929 times which will likely remain the record for as long as MLB exists. He won three batting titles and finished in the top-10 13 times. Rose was also no stranger to winning hardware. He won three World Series titles while also being named the 1975 World Series MVP. He won the 1973 NL MVP and finished in the top-10 in MVP voting 10 times.
Captaining the list at #55 is “Mr. November” Derek Jeter. Jeter earned his nickname by becoming the face of postseason baseball, winning a remarkable five World Series titles in seven appearances during his 20-year career. No player since 1957 has won more or appeared in more World Series. He’s the all-time playoff leader in hits, doubles, triples, and runs. He’s third all-time in playoff home runs, 5th in walks, and 6th in stolen bases. Jeter was no slouch in the regular season, finishing in the top-10 in MVP voting eight times. His 3,465 career hits are the 6th most in history, and he has the most hits ever by a shortstop and ranks second in runs by a shortstop.
Coming in at #56 is Yankees legendary backstop Yogi Berra. No player in history had more playoff success than Berra. He won a surreal 10 World Series titles with Yankees and played in 14 World Series overall. Both are the most in history. He is the all-time World Series leader in hits, doubles, and plate appearances. He’s second all-time in RBIs, runs, total bases, and third all-time in home runs and walks. While Yogi is synonymous with the World Series, his regular-season accomplishments are nothing to scoff at. Berra won three American League MVPs which are tied for the most in AL history and tied for the second-most in MLB history. His 1,430 RBIs are the record by a catcher and he ranks third among catchers in runs and fourth in home runs. His 18 all-star selections are four more than any other catcher in history. Yogi joins Joe DiMaggio as the only two players in history regardless of position with at least 1,430 career RBIs, 350 home runs, and fewer than 420 strikeouts.
Coming at #57 is Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell’s career is marked not by robust career numbers—although they are impressive—but by his ridiculous per-162 game totals. Bagwell joins Ted Williams as the only two players since 1940 with 162 game averages of at least 114 runs, 114 RBIs, and a .400 on-base percentage. He’s the only player in history to play 2,150 games or less and reach 1,500 runs and 1,500 RBIs. Bagwell is the first player since 1931— and only the third player in history along with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig—with back-to-back 140-run seasons. He’s the only player since 1936 to reach 152 runs in a single season. He’s the only player since 1949 with at least 143 runs and 143 walks in the same season, joining Babe Ruth and Ted Williams as the only players ever to do it. He’s one of only four players since 1950 with 1,500 runs, a 149 ops+ and a .405 on-base %, and he’s the only first baseman since the dead-ball era with 1,500 career runs and a 149 ops+. Bagwell won the NL MVP in 1994 when became just the third player since 1927 along with Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire with a single-season slugging percentage of at least .750.
Blasting onto the last at #58 is Indians slugger Jim Thome. Thome’s career is marked by power, plate discipline, and more power. He joins Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth as the only three players in history with 600 career home runs and 1,700 career walks. He joins Bonds and Ruth as the only three players in history with 600 home runs and a .400 on-base percentage. He joins Bonds and Ruth as the only three players in history with at least 600 home runs, 1,650 walks, and 1,650 RBIs, and he joins Bonds, Ruth, and Ted Williams as the only four players in history with at least 1,740 career walks and at least a .554 slugging %. His 13.8 AB/HR mark is the 4th best in history and his 612 home runs are 8th on the all-time list.
Teeing off at #59 on our list is Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad “The Impaler” was every bit as feared as his 15th-century counterpart, terrorizing pitchers with his combination of power, speed, and plate discipline. Vlad’s impact is reflected by the uniqueness of his accomplishments. He’s the only player to debut since 1960 with at least a .318 career batting average and a .553 career slugging percentage. He’s the only player to debut since 1960 with a career batting average of at least .318 and a career OPS+ of 140. He’s the only player since 1950 with at least 400 career home runs and fewer than 1,000 strikeouts. He’s the only player since 1950 with at least 400 career home runs and a .318 batting average. He’s the only player since 1950 with at least 970 career extra-base hits, an OPS+ of 140, and fewer than 1,000 strikeouts. He’s the only player in history with a career .318 batting average, 400 home runs, and 180 stolen bases and he’s also the only player in history with at least 200 hits, a .330 batting average, 40 stolen bases, and 39 home runs in a single season. Vlad is 7th all-time in intentional walks, leading the league five times which is tied for the 4th most in history. He was named the 2004 NL MVP and finished third in 2005 and 2007.
Backstopping the list at #60 is Dodgers and Mets legend Mike Piazza. Piazza is, without question, the greatest offensive catcher of all time. Among catchers, he’s #1 all-time in home runs, offensive WAR, slugging %, and OPS+ (min. 500 games). He has the highest batting average since 1937 among catchers (min .500 games). His 185 OPS+ in 1997 is the most ever by a catcher (min. 500 plate appearances) and he has two of the top-3 single-season OPS+ marks ever for a catcher (min. 500 plate appearances). He has the most 30-home run seasons, most 90-RBI seasons, and most 80-run seasons by a catcher. Proving Piazza’s numbers weren’t just elite for a catcher, he is one of only eight players at any position with at least a career .308 batting average, 143 OPS+, and 400 home runs. Piazza finished in the top-10 in MVP voting seven times including two runner-ups and a third-place finish.
Working the margins at #61 is Braves lefty workhorse Tom Glavine. Glavine won two NL Cy Young awards while also finishing second twice and third twice. He led the league in wins five times which is the most by any pitcher since 1957. He’s one of only four pitchers since 1926 with at least 300 career wins and fewer than 205 career losses. Glavine finished in the top-10 in innings 12 times, wins and shutouts 11 times, and winning % 10 times. Glavine’s regular-season success carried over into the postseason where he is second all-time in postseason innings and third all-time in wins while also winning the World Series MVP for the Braves in 1995.
Sailing in at #62 is Gaylord Perry. Only Nolan Ryan and Phil Niekro have pitched more career innings since the dead-ball era than the appropriately nicknamed Ancient Mariner. Perry was the oldest player in the league for three consecutive seasons, pitching until he was 44 years old. He won the AL Cy Young in 1972 and the NL Cy Young in 1978 at the age of 40. Perry led the league in wins three times and had five 20-win seasons. While Perry’s elite seasons are notable, it’s the number of good seasons that define his legacy. He finished in the top-10 in strikeouts and complete games 12 times, WAR, ERA, and innings 11 times, WHIP 10 times and wins nine times.
Joining the list at #63 is Braves ace and closer John Smoltz. Smoltz truly was the most versatile pitcher in Major League Baseball history. He’s the only pitcher in history with 200 career wins and 150 career saves and the only pitcher in history with a 24-win season and a 55–save season. Smoltz won the Cy Young in 1996 when he became one of only three pitchers in history to compile a season with 24 wins, 250 innings, 275 strikeouts, and a K/9 of at least 9.8. Smoltz was even better in the postseason, throwing 209 innings with a stellar 2.67 ERA and 1.14 WHIP both of which represented improvements over his spectacular regular season marks. Smoltz is third all-time in postseason innings, second in postseason wins, and his 15-4 record is the highest winning % ever among pitchers with at least 135 postseason innings.
Painting the corner at #64 is Roy “Doc” Halladay. Halladay was the premier pitcher in baseball from 2002-2011, racking up three 20-win seasons and two 19-win seasons on his way to two AL Cy Young awards, two second-place finishes, and seven top-5 finishes. Halladay led the league in WAR for pitchers four times and finished in the top-4 eight times. Combining durability with precision, Halladay led the league in innings four times which is 7th all-time and strikeout-to-walk ratio five times which is 6th all-time. He also led the league in complete games seven times which is the second-most in history and shutouts four times which is the 6th most in history. Halladay is one of only four pitchers in the live-ball era with at least a .659 winning % and 2,000 career strikeouts.
Streaking in at #65 is “Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken holds the all-time record for most consecutive games played at an unbelievable 2,632 which are 502 more than any other player and over 2,000 games ahead of any active player. When Ripken retired in 2001, he was the all-time leader in doubles among shortstops and 2nd all-time in home runs, RBIs, and hits. His 19 all-star game selections are four more than any other shortstop. Ripken is the only shortstop in history with 75 Offensive WAR and 35 defensive WAR and he is one of only two shortstops in MLB history to lead the league in WAR three times. Ripken joins Willie Mays and Mike Trout as the only two players in history to win two regular-season MVPs and two all-star game MVPs.
Firing in at #66 is Nolan Ryan. The Ryan Express is the most prolific strikeout pitcher in the history of baseball. His 5,714 career strikeouts are 839 more than any other pitcher in history which is a record that ranks right at the top on the list of the most unbreakable records in sports. Ryan led the league in K/9 and H/9 innings an unbelievable 12 times each. Perhaps more remarkable, he finished in the top-5 in K/9 innings 20 times and H/9 17 times. His seven career no-hitters are three more than any other player in MLB history. He has the most shutouts of any pitcher to debut since 1942 and his 383 strikeouts in 1973 are the most in a single season in history. Ryan is tied with Randy Johnson for most 300-strikeout seasons with six and he joins Johnson as the only pitchers in history to lead the league in strikeouts four consecutive years on two different occasions.
Joining the list at #67 is Gary Sheffield. Sheff is one of the great power-speed combos professional baseball has ever seen. He’s the only player in history with 500 home runs, 250 stolen bases, 1,450 walks, and fewer than 1,200 strikeouts. He’s the only player since the dead-ball era to have 1,000 extra-base hits, 250 stolen bases, and fewer than 1,200 strikeouts. He’s one of only four players in history with at least 500 home runs, 250 stolen bases, and a 70% stolen base percentage. He finished in the top-10 in MVP voting six times including three finishes in the top-3. Sheff finished in the top-10 in on-base % 10 times, helping him become one of only seven players in history with at least a .392 on-base percentage and 500 career home runs. Sheff led the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title, reaching base 15 times in a 7-game thriller over the Indians.
Coming in at #68 is Yankees ace Whitey Ford. Ford’s .690 winning percentage is the second-highest in the modern era among pitchers with at least 1,500 career innings. He’s the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to have at least a .690 winning percentage while throwing at least 3,000 innings, and he’s the only pitcher in history with at least 230 career wins with fewer than 110 losses. Ford won the 1961 Cy Young when he pitched one of only four seasons in MLB history with at least 25 wins with fewer than five losses. While Ford was a stellar regular season pitcher, it was his work in the World Series that defines his legacy. Ford is the only pitcher in history with six World Series rings and a World Series MVP. He holds the record for most career wins in the World Series with 10, three more than any other pitcher. He also holds the World Series records for games started, innings, and strikeouts. His 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series are the most in history for a starting pitcher, and he’s the only pitcher in history to throw at least 14 innings without allowing a run in two different World Series.
Swinging in at #69 is Braves slugger Eddie Mathews. When Mathews retired in 1968, he was without question the greatest third baseman in Major League Baseball history, ranking first in home runs, runs, RBIs, slugging % and OPS+ (among third basemen who played a min. of 10 seasons). Mathews still ranks second all-time among third basemen in both home runs and WAR and is in the top five in RBIs, walks, and OPS+. Mathews twice finished runner-up in National League MVP voting and is the only third baseman to finish in the top-6 in offensive WAR for 11 consecutive seasons. He also led the league in walks four times, home runs twice, and is the only third baseman in history to hit at least 46 home runs twice. Mathews teamed with Hank Aaron to power the Braves to the 1957 World Series title, reaching base 13 times in a thrilling seven-game series with the Yankees.
At #70 on our list is Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana. Over 12 seasons, Santana posted a lofty .641 winning percentage, which is the 10th best mark of all pitchers with a min. of 10 seasons since 1960. Among pitchers who played at least 10 seasons, his 136 ERA+ is the 5th highest in the last 100 years. Santana is the only player in MLB history to lead the league in ERA+, WHIP, H/9, strikeouts, and SO/9 in three consecutive seasons. He is one of only four pitchers to lead the league in WHIP for four consecutive seasons (Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax, and Clayton Kershaw). Since 1920, he is the only pitcher to lead the league in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings, games started, ERA+, WHIP, H/9, and SO/9 in the same season. He is one of only seven players to lead the league in ERA+ for three consecutive seasons (Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Clayton Kershaw). Since 1920, he is one of only four pitchers to lead the league in H/9 for three consecutive seasons (Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, and Nolan Ryan). Santana won the Cy Young in 2004 and in 2006 and should’ve won a third in 2005 when he was easily the best pitcher in the American League.
Hitting the list at #71 is Boston on-base machine Wade Boggs. Boggs was one of the most feared hitters in baseball in the 1980s, leading the league in times on base for eight consecutive seasons and intentional walks for six consecutive seasons. His .328 career batting average is the 2nd highest of anyone debuting since 1941 and his .415 career on-base % is the 7th best of anyone debuting since 1951. He joins Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Stan Musial as the only players in Major League Baseball history with 3,000 hits, a .415 on-base %, and 575 doubles. Boggs joins Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial as the only players in history to lead the league in on-base percentage six times and batting average five times. Cementing his status as one of the most difficult outs the league has ever seen, Boggs is one of only four players in history to have more than 1,400 walks with fewer than 750 strikeouts.
Entering the list at #72 is Mr. Tiger Al Kaline. Kaline patrolled right field in Detroit for 22 years, garnering 18 all-star selections and 10 Gold Gloves. He’s one of only 11 players in Major League Baseball history with at least 1,600 runs, 1,500 RBIs, and 3,000 hits. Kaline finished among the top-10 in MVP voting nine times, including two runner-up finishes in 1955 and 1963. While Kaline had his fair share of leading the league it was the number of times he spent among the league leaders that defines his career. He finished in the top-5 in WAR for position players eight times, batting average and on-base % seven times, and slugging % and adjusted ops+ five times. Kaline’s lasting legacy for Detroit was helping bring home the 1968 World Series title after hitting .379 with eight RBIs in a thrilling 7-game series against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals.
Joining the list at #73 is Pirates legend Roberto Clemente. Clemente was a 4-time batting champion in the National League and finished in the top-5 in batting average an astonishing 10 times. He won the National League MVP in 1966 and finished in the top-10 eight times. Clemente reached 3,000 career hits in the final at-bat of the 1972 season which would sadly end up being the last at-bat of his career as he died in a plane crash while on a humanitarian trip in the offseason. While Clemente’s superior bat-to-ball skills produced 13 seasons with a batting average over .300, it was also his defense that puts him on the shortlist of greatest right fielders in history. His 12.2 defensive WAR is the most all-time for a right fielder. He’s second all-time among right fielders in assists and putouts and is the all-time leader in total zone runs as a right fielder. Clemente helped lead the Pirates to two World Series Championships including in 1971 when he was named World Series MVP, making him one of only four players in history to reach 3,000 hits and win a World Series MVP.
Powering into the list at #74 is Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew. Known as “the Killer” for his tape-measure shots, Killebrew led the league in home runs six times which is the fourth most in history. He also finished in the top-5 in home runs an incredible 12 times and slugging % and OPS+ ten times. He was named the American League MVP in 1969 and finished in the top-4 in MVP voting six times. Killebrew’s 14.2 at-bats per home run ratio is 7th best in history and he has the 12th highest home run and 15th highest walk totals of all time. Killebrew was also versatile with the glove, playing more than 450 games at three different positions and making the all-star game at all of them.
Coming in at #75 is Mr. Cub Ernie Banks. Banks obliterated conventional wisdom by proving it was possible for a shortstop to be an offensive force. By the time he finished his career in 1971, his 512 career home runs were more than double the total of any other shortstop in history, paving the way for future power-hitting shortstops like Cal Ripken Jr., and Alex Rodriguez. Banks became the first shortstop in the modern era to lead the National League in home runs and lead the league in home runs twice. He was named NL MVP in 1958 and 1959 becoming the first shortstop to win multiple MVPs.
At #76 on our list is New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell. When it came to baserunners, nobody was stingier than King Carl. He led the league in WHIP six times which is the most in MLB history (Cy Young predated MLB). Hubbell’s four consecutive seasons leading the league in WHIP are tied for the most all-time, and he’s the only player in MLB history to lead the league in WHIP six times over an eight-year span. Hubbell won the National League MVP in 1933 and 1936, becoming one of only three pitchers to win two MVP awards. Hubbell led the league in K/BB ratio five times, and wins and ERA three times. He was at his best in the 1933 World Series when he pitched a shutout in game 1 and came back to throw an 11-inning shutout in game 4, becoming only the second pitcher in history to throw at least 20 innings in a single World Series without allowing a run.
Joining the list at #77 is Tigers legend and Detroit native Hal Newhouser. Prince Hal’s career is most notable for his incredible run from 1944-1948 in which he joined Lefty Grove as the only two pitchers since the dead-ball era with three consecutive 25-win seasons. In 1944 and 1945, Newhouser became the only pitcher in history to win back-to-back league MVP awards and he nearly won a third in 1946 finishing runner-up to Ted Williams. Newhouser is the only pitcher since the dead-ball era to have back-to-back seasons of at least 25 wins and an ERA under two. He’s also the only pitcher in history with three consecutive seasons of at least 25 wins and fewer than 10 losses. Newhouser helped lead the Tigers to the 1945 World Series championship, pitching a complete game to go along with 10 strikeouts against the Cubs in a victorious game 7.