Top 50 lists are a common thing within the sports world, but it is particularly fascinating in baseball. MLB has been around longer than any other American professional sport. The amount of time the sport has been around makes the amount of players to choose from expansive. These 50 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.
50. Brooks Robinson
Stats: 78.4 WAR, .267 AVG, .713 OPS, 1357 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 15, Gold Glove x 16
Brooks Robinson spent 22 seasons in MLB fields, every single one with the Baltimore Orioles. He is a Baltimore legend and for good reason.
He had one of the longest careers in MLB history and he is also one of the greatest defenders in history. His 16 gold gloves is his greatest achievement.
49. Chipper Jones
Stats: 85.3 WAR, .303 AVG, .930 OPS, 1623 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 8, Silver Slugger x 2, World Series x 1
Chipper Jones is an Atlanta Braves legend and one of the best players in the 21st Century. Throughout his 18 seasons in the MLB, Chipper was consistently one of the best hitters in the league. He was a great player and he certainly earned a spot on this list.
48. Christy Mathewson
Stats: 106.5 WAR, 2.13 ERA, 1.058 WHIP, 2507 SOs
Accolades: World Series x 1
Mathewson is the first pitcher on this list and a very deserving one. He was a pitcher for 17 seasons in the MLB, most of which were played with the New York Giants. He was a pioneer at the pitching position.
He was a rookie in 1900 and he brought in the century by being one of the best pitchers, and players, in MLB history.
47. Al Kaline
Stats: 92.8 WAR, .297 AVG, .855 OPS, 1582 RBIs
Accolades: All-Star x 18, Gold Glove x 10, World Series x 1
Al Kaline is one of the greatest defensive first baseman in history and a good hitter too. He was in the MLB for 22 seasons and all of them were spent in Detroit. He made a name for himself on the defensive end by winning ten Gold Gloves but he was a good enough hitter that he also won a batting title.
46. Miguel Cabrera
Stats: 69.2 WAR, .313 AVG, .930 OPS, 1732 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, All-Star x 11, Silver Slugger x 7, World Series x 1
Miguel Cabrera is one of the greatest players of the modern era. He is an incredible hitter and can hit for both power and average. During his 19 year career, he has gone through many changes as a player. He began his career in Florida before joining the Detroit Tigers, where he found the majority of his success.
45. Wade Boggs
Stats: 91.4 WAR, .328 AVG, .858 OPS, 1014 RBIs
Accolades: All-Star x 12, Silver Slugger x 8, Gold Glove x 2, World Series x 1
Wade Boggs is an NL East legend. Boggs spent 18 years in the MLB, 11 with the Boston Red Sox, five with the New York Yankees, and two with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He won a championship with the Yankees in his last All-Star season.
44. Rod Carew
Stats: 81.2 WAR, .328 AVG, .822 OPS, 1015 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 18
Rod Carew spent 19 seasons in the MLB and he made the All-Star game all but his last season. He was one of the greatest contact hitters in baseball history, topping out in his MVP season with a .388 batting average. Carew also had a 15 year stretch where he never dropped below .300, which is one of the best stretches in MLB history.
43. Yogi Berra
Stats: 59.5 WAR, .285 AVG, .830 OPS, 1430 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 18, World Series x 10
Yogi Berra is one of the greatest winners in the history of the MLB. Yogi has the most rings of any player in the history of the sport and he was on of the best players throughout the Yankees dynasty. The Yankees are the most storied franchise in baseball history, Yogi is the first legend on this list, but he won’t be the last.
42. Tony Gwynn
Stats: 69.2 WAR, .338 AVG, ,847 OPS, 1138 RBIs
Accolades: All-Star x 15, Silver Slugger x 7, Gold Glove x 5
Tony Gwynn put San Diego on the map of the baseball world in the late 80s and early 90s when he proved himself to be one of the most prolific hitters of his era. In 1994, Gwynn hit an incredible .394 average and probably deserved to be more involved in the MVP conversation.
41. Willie McCovey
Stats: 64.5 WAR, .270 AVG, .889 OPS, 1555 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 6
Willie McCovey had one of the highest slugging peaks in MLB history. He might not have the longevity as a star as some of the previous entrants on list, but his insane power streak from 1965 to 1971 is hardly matched by any other players in the history of the sport.
40. Tom Seaver
Stats: 109.9 WAR, 2.86 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, 3640 SOs
Accolades: Cy Young x 3, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 12, World Series x 1
Tom Seaver is one of the best players in New York Mets’ history. Seaver spent his first 11 seasons with the Mets, where he received the majority of his accolades. He was also the ace of the world series winning team in 1969.
39. Mel Ott
Stats: 110.8 WAR, .304 AVG, .947 OPS, 1860 RBIs
Accolades: All-Star x 12, World Series x 1
Mel Ott was a legend for the New York Giants from 1926 to 1947. 22 seasons with one team is impressive, more so when you consider that he became coach in 1942. He was the first player to ever be a team’s manager and make the All-Star team as a player in the same season.
38. Reggie Jackson
Stats: 73.9 WAR, .262 AVG, .846 OPS, 1702 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 14, Silver Slugger x 2, World Series x 5
Reggie Jackson is one of the most electric and entertaining players in baseball history. He played with verve as a base runner and power as a hitter. He was the rare combination of power and speed that made him the star of the MLB in the 1970s.
37. Roger Clemens
Stats: 139.2 WAR, 3.12 ERA, 1.173 WHIP, 4672 SOs
Accolades: MVP x 1, Cy Young x 7, All-Star x 11, World Series x 2
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.
36. Carl Yastrzemski
Stats: 96.5 WAR, .285 AVG, .841 OPS, 1844 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 18, Gold Glove x 7
Carl Yastrzemski played 23 seasons in the MLB, all of which were spent in Boston with Red Sox. He is most known for hitting one of the greatest home runs in Red Sox history, but he had an excellent playing career outside of that as well. He was a great hitter and fielder throughout his tenure.
35. Mariano Rivera
Stats: 2.21 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 1173 SOs, 652 Saves
Accolades: WS MVP x 1, All-Star x 13, World Series x 5
It is very hard to rank a reliever on a list like this, but Mo is the greatest closer to ever do it. More men have walked on the moon than have got a hit on Rivera in the World Series and that’s because of how deadly he is. When Enter Sandman played over the loud speaker and Mo left the bullpen, the opposing team shuddered.
34. Ernie Banks
Stats: 67.7 WAR, .274 AVG, .830 OPS, 1636 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, All-Star x 14, Gold Glove
Ernie Banks is one of the best infielders ever and so much of his appeal was due to his infectious attitude. He loved the game more than anything, famously saying “let’s play two” before every game. This love allowed him to be on of the best of his era and a Chicago Cub legend.
33. Sandy Koufax
Stats: 48.9 WAR, 2.76 ERA, 1.106 WHIP, 2396 SOs
Accolades: MVP x 1, Cy Young x 3, WS MVP x 2, World Series x 3
Sandy Koufax had a very short but very prolific career in the MLB. He spent 12 seasons in the MLB, all of which with the Dodgers. The team moved from Brooklyn to LA during between his third and fourth season. This did wonders for his career as he became one of the best pitchers in the league in LA.
32. Pedro Martinez
Stats: 83.9 WAR, 2,93 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, 3154 SOs
Accolades: Cy Young x 3, All-Star x 8, World Series x 1
Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers ever. He played all over the league, but his greatest success was found in Boston. He was instrumental to their Bambino Curse breaking World Series run in 2004 and he proved to be one of the greatest pitchers in Boston’s history.
31. Steve Carlton
Stats: 90.2 WAR, 3,22 ERA, 1.247 WHIP, 4136 SOs
Accolades: Cy Young x 4, All-Star x 10, Gold Glove x 1, World Series x 2
Steve Carlton is one of the most underrated pitchers of all time. He played 24 seasons in the MLB, most of which were with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies. He was a smooth and composed south paw who played with a smooth curve and learned to adjust his game as he got older. His longevity and consistency makes him a worthy member of this list.
30. Greg Maddux
Stats: 106.6 WAR, 3.16 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 3371 SOs
Accolades: Cy Young x 4, All-Star x 8, Gold Glove x 18, World Series x 1
Greg Maddux pitched for 23 years in the MLB and he was always a master of painting the black. His control was unmatched and he had impeccable command. He was part of the three-headed monster of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation and he was the best of the three.
29. Mike Schmidt
Stats: 106.9 WAR, .267 AVG, .908 OPS, 1595 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 12, Silver Slugger x 6, Gold Glove x 10, WS MVP, World Series x 1
Mike Schmidt is one of the best five tool players ever. He could defend, hit for power, hit for average, run, and throw. He spent 18 seasons in the MLB, all in Philadelphia. He was the MVP and World Series MVP in the same season which is an incredible accomplishment.
28. Cy Young
Stats: 163.6 WAR, 2.63 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, 2803 SOs
Accolades: World Series x 1
Cy Young was so great as a pitcher, that they named the greatest pitcher award after him. He pioneered the sport in a way that was hardly seen from his era. It can be difficult to rank players of his age, but Cy Young stands the test of time as one of the best ever.
27. Johnny Bench
Stats: 75.1 WAR, .267 AVG, .817 OPS, 1376 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 14, Gold Glove x 10, WS MVP, World Series x 2
Bench is one of the best catchers in the history of baseball. He was an excellent defender, leading to his 10 Gold Gloves. His 17 seasons in Cincinnati were filled with winning and he ended up leading the Reds to two World Series Championships.
26. Joe Morgan
Stats: 110.4 WAR, .271 AVG, .819 OPS, 1133 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, All-Star x 10, Silver Slugger x 1, Gold Glove x 5, World Series x 2
Johnny Bench’s teammate Joe Morgan was equally as responsible for the Reds’ two championships. The second baseman was speedy, but he had the power to spite his small frame. He was an excellent slugger, base-runner, and fielder.
25. Pete Rose
Stats: 79.6 WAR, .303 AVG, .784 OPS, 1314 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 17, Silver Slugger x 1, Gold Glove x 2, WS MVP x 1, World Series x 3
Pete Rose is one of the greatest hitters ever. His lack of Hall of Fame status does not take away from what he did on the diamond. He played 24 seasons in the MLB and he was one of the most prolific hitters of his era and also an incredible winner.
24. Roberto Clemente
Stats: 94.8 WAR, .317 AVG, .834 OPS, 1305 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 15, WS MVP, World Series x 2
Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest ambassadors for the game ever. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Clemente left an indelible stamp on the game that would help grow it into the international powerhouse it is today. He was one of the greatest players of his time and it showed both on and off the field.
23. Stan Musial
Stats: 128.3 WAR, .331 AVG, ,976 OPS, 1951 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 24, World Series x 3
Musial is one of the greatest and most consistent hitters. He was an All-Star almost every season of his career and he has one of the highest career batting averages ever. He played with the St. Louis Cardinals his entire career and he was a winner throughout his whole tenure.
22. Frank Robinson
Stats: 107.2 WAR, .294 AVG, ,926 OPS, 1812 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 14, Gold Glove x 1, WS MVP x 1, World Series x 2
Frank Robinson was one of first African American baseball players in the MLB and he went on to be the first black manager in the MLB too. He played for 21 seasons and he was a prolific player on both offense and defense. He was one of the best hitters of his time.
21. Ichiro Suzuki
Stats: 60 WAR, .311 AVG, .757 OPS, 780 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 10, Silver Slugger x 2
Ichiro is one of the greatest hitters ever. His longevity was limited by coming into the league older than most, but he made up for it by being an incredible hitter. In Seattle, he was the MVP of the record holding 116 win team in 2001 and he was one of the most consistent hitters in the MLB throughout his career.
20. Randy Johnson
Stats: 101.1 WAR, 3.29 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, 4875 SOs
Accolades: Cy Young x 5, All-Star x 10, WS MVP, World Series x 1
Randy Johnson played for 22 seasons in the MLB, playing for multiple teams, but he was a winner everywhere he went. In Seattle, he won, Arizona and New York too. He was a great pitcher and a true ace. The 6’10 Big Unit was scary for any opposing player to step into the box against.
19. Albert Pujols
Stats: 99.8 WAR, .298 AVG, .923 OPS, 2104 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 10, Silver Slugger x 6, Gold Glove x 2, World Series x 2
Albert Pujols is one of the greatest sluggers of the 21st Century. His power was immense and it allowed him to become one of the best hitters in the league. He was the best player on the St. Louis Cardinals teams that won the World Series and he has had a long, fruitful career.
18. Jackie Robinson
Stats: 61.7 WAR, .311 AVG, .883 OPS, 734 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 6, World Series x 1
Jackie Robinson is remembered mostly for his effect on the baseball world off the field, but he is not talked about enough as an amazing player in his own right. He was a great hitter and base runner. He was the best player on the 1955 World Series champs and that’s not even mentioning his impact off the field.
17. George Brett
Stats: 88.6 WAR, .305 AVG, .857 OPS, 1596 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 13, Gold Glove x 1, Silver Slugger x 3, World Series x 1
George Brett is underrated in discussions of the greatest hitters of all time. For almost his entire career in Kansas City, he hit above .300. During his MVP season, he hit .390 and was an incredible RBI hitter. He lead the Royals to a World Series in 1985.
16. Alex Rodriguez
Stats: 117.5 WAR, .295 AVG, .930 OPS, 2086 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 14, Silver Slugger x 10, Gold Glove x 2, World Series
Alex Rodriguez is another controversial addition to list due to his use of PED’s. However, Rodriguez was an outstanding hitter either way. He won in multiple ways throughout his career. He could hit for power and average. He was the best player on a championship team.
15. Lou Gehrig
Stats: 114.1 WAR, .340 AVG, 1.080 OPS, 1995 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, All-Star x 7, World Series x 6
Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest hitters of his time. His 17 seasons in the MLB were marked by impressive numbers with both average and power. He won a lot too, six World Series with the Yankees. His tenure was an impressive one and he was one of the greatest winners ever.
14. Cal Ripken Jr
Stats: 95.9 WAR, .276 AVG, .788 OPS, 1695 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 19, Silver Slugger x 8, Gold Glove x 2, World Series x 1
Cal Ripken Jr is most noted for his impeccable longevity. He has the longest consecutive game streak in MLB history. He was also an amazing fielder and defender, making a mark on the league on both ends. He was the best player on the 1983 championship team.
13. Ty Cobb
Stats: 151 WAR, .366 AVG, .944 OPS, 1944 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1
Ty Cobb has some of the most unfathomable hitting stats imaginable. 151 WAR and .366 AVG are almost unheard of. He is still one of the greatest hitters to ever play. Opposing pitchers were scared to ever throw to him and it often lead to walks or getting hit by pitches.
12. Hank Aaron
Stats: 143.1 WAR, .305 AVG, .928 OPS, 2297 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 25, Gold Glove x 3, World Series x 1
Hank Aaron is one of the best power hitters ever. They have even named the best hitter award after him. He hit for both power and average and he even broke the home run record in his tenure. He was one of the best players of his era.
11. Ricky Henderson
Stats: 111.2 WAR, .279 AVG, .820 OPS, 1115 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 10, Gold Glove x 1, Silver Slugger x 3, World Series x 2
Henderson played 25 seasons in the MLB and was always among the top of the league in terms of offensive players. He was one of, if not the, greatest baserunner in history. He ended his career with 1406 stolen bases and he ran very well after his hits too. He was also an impeccable hitter and a great, winning player.
10. Mike Trout
Stats: 75 WAR, .305 AVG, 1.002 OPS, 804 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 8, Silver Slugger x 8
Mike Trout is the youngest player on this list and he still has plenty of latitude to rise as his career continues, but he has already proven himself worthy of the top 10. He is one of the purest examples of a five tool player in baseball and his career continues to be more and more impressive.
9. Mickey Mantle
Stats: 110.2 WAR, .298 AVG, .977 OPS, 1509 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 20, Gold Glove x 1, World Series x 7
Mickey Mantle is the first of three Yankees’ legend to litter this top 10 and he’s here for a reason. One of the greatest hitters and winners in history, he helped lead the Yankees to seven World Series titles. His power is what made him known, but he could truly do it all.
8. Joe DiMaggio
Stats: 79.1 WAR, .325 AVG, .977 OPS, 1537 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 3, All-Star x 13, World Series x 9
Another Yankees star, DiMaggio is most famous for his hit streak record. He was an incredible contact hitter, seeing the ball like almost no one else. He was near perfect at putting bat to ball and his career average of .325 shows that. Nine rings are also the second most for any player in MLB history.
7. Bob Gibson
Stats: 89.1 WAR, 2.91 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 3117 SOs
Accolades: MVP x 1, Cy Young x 2, All-Star x 9, Gold Glove x 9, WS MVP x 2, World Series x 2
Bob Gibson is maybe the most underrated athlete of all time. He threw like no one else in before or since and it is a testament to his athleticism. He was a nightmare for opposing hitters to face and he struck them out with ruthless efficiency. He was the best pitcher of his time and one of the best ever.
6. Nolan Ryan
Stats: 81.3 WAR, 3.19 ERA, 1.247 WHIP, 5714 SOs
Accolades: All-Star x 8, World Series x 1
Nolan Ryan, at least as far as this list is concerned, is the greatest pitcher in the history of the MLB. Ryan was a bulldog on the mound and he played with incredible fire and passion. He threw gas for his whole career and he refused to ever give in or give up. He played 27 seasons in the MLB and he was great at all times.
5. Willie Mays
Stats: 156.1 WAR, .302 AVG, .941 OPS, 1903 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, ROTY x 1, All-Star x 24, Gold Glove x 12, World Series x 1
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 towards him.
4. Barry Bonds
Stats: 162.7 WAR, .298 AVG, 1.051 OPS, 1996 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 7, All-Star x 14, Silver Slugger x 12, Gold Glove x 8
Barry Bonds is another controversial player because of PEDs, but his hitting prowess stands alone. Bonds is very likely the greatest power hitter of all time. He could have had an above average OPS if he never even got a hit during his time with the Giants because pitchers walked him so much. He was the greatest hitting presence of his era and a deserving top five player.
3. Ted Williams
Stats: 121.9 WAR, .344 AVG, 1.116 OPS, 1839 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 2, All-Star x 19
A true hitter’s hitter, Ted Williams is the foremost legend for the Boston Red Sox. He is the greatest contact hitter of all time and he constantly proved himself as that. He has the textbook batting stance and his game is still taught to younger generations every day.
2. Babe Ruth
Stats: 182.5 WAR, .342 AVG, 1.164 OPS, 2214 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 2, World Series x 7
The chalk number one pick for almost a century, Babe Ruth is somehow not overhyped. The Babe was an incredible hitter and pitcher and, most importantly, an incredible winner. His 182.5 WAR is easily the best on this list and hardly touched by anyone. He is deserving to be number one on most all-time lists and his prowess is still almost indescribable.
1. Ken Griffey Jr
Stats: 83.8 WAR, .284 AVG, .907 OPS, 1836 RBIs
Accolades: MVP x 1, All-Star x 13, Gold Glove x 10, Silver Slugger x 7
This is, potentially, a controversial pick, but Griffey Jr has earned this ranking both on and off the field. The Kid, as he was known, changed baseball forever. He played with a swagger and power the sport had never seen before. He was one of the greatest hitters ever, he could hit for average and for power and he has the prettiest swing in the history of the sport. He is also a top defensive center fielder ever, right up there with Willie Mays. He was the first player to be unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame. Griffey Jr was an incredible ambassador for the sport and he remains that to this day. Ken Griffey Jr is the best, and most important, player in MLB history.