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  • Greatest Player Ever

    The timeless debate has raged on in here forever, but just to get an idea of what people on this message board think, I'll make a poll of it for my own amusement and edification. Please justify your pick and be prepared to vociferously defend it!
    224
    Willie Mays
    11.61%
    26
    Babe Ruth
    59.82%
    134
    Ty Cobb
    13.84%
    31
    Barry Bonds
    2.68%
    6
    Honus Wagner
    1.79%
    4
    Joe Dimaggio
    3.13%
    7
    Other (please specify and justify)
    7.14%
    16
    Last edited by csh19792001; 03-02-2004, 05:54 PM.

  • #2
    Other: Ted Williams (should be on the list before Joe D. and Wagner)

    Comment


    • #3
      Why do you believe that? (You should also vote "other" to have your voice heard on the poll)

      Comment


      • #4
        Jose Offerman, case closed
        Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
        Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

        Comment


        • #5
          He was a better OBP man than Ruth. Have we talked about slugging yet?
          "Why waste four pitches when one will do?" -- Don Drysdale

          Comment


          • #6
            Voted for the Babe. Until someone comes along, and hits either 715 HR's and wins 94 games, or hits 714 HR's and wins 95 games, Babe will remain the greatest player ever. Now if we're talking about greatest hitter/positional player, that's a whole different story.
            AL East Champions: 1981 1982
            AL Pennant: 1982
            NL Central Champions: 2011
            NL Wild Card: 2008

            "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BoSox Rule
              He is a career .344 hitter, MLB record .482 career OBP. Walked more than anyone in the history of the game (per season). Hit .406 in 1941 with a .553 OBP (got robbed of like 4 or 5 MVPS) and had a better FLD% than Ruth. He was better than Ruth.
              You could make a strong case that Williams was a better hitter than Ruth, but all-around player? That's kind of silly, considering Ruth's pitching. Perhaps they were close on fielding and baserunning, but you can't sustain an argument that Williams, historically, is a greater player than Ruth. At least I don't see how.

              We are now talking about the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time. A guy who couldn't run the bases, cover much ground in the field, or throw better than average (overall, a mediocre baseball player on all things NOT hitting) can't be the greatest ever.

              Comment


              • #8
                When referring to greatest player, you must include Positional Players (I referred to them as hitters as most pitchers don't bat more then 1-3 times a game) and pitchers. Since babe ruth was able to win 94 games and hit 714 HR's, he should automatically be the greatest player because he was able to accomplish one of the greatest feats ever at the positional spot, while winning 94 games as a pitcher in a few seasons. It boggles the mind what he would have done if he had stayed as just a pitcher.

                If you were to say greatest hitter/positional player (again, referring to my hitters as mainly being positional players, especially in this day and age), you would have to limist to LF, CF, RF, 1b, 2b, 3b, ss, and C.

                As for my candidate for best positional player? Well, I"d have to do a little bit of research before I have an opinion on that.
                AL East Champions: 1981 1982
                AL Pennant: 1982
                NL Central Champions: 2011
                NL Wild Card: 2008

                "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

                Comment


                • #9
                  Willie Mays

                  It may be to early to tell (only 11 votes) but I'm really surprised that nobody has voted for Mays as greatest player who ever lived. If the modernists are correct, guys like Ruth and Cobb wouldn't be nearly as dominant if they played from 1950 on.

                  What to people think of that idea, anyway? The one espousing that modern players (those who started their careers from circa 1950- present) as being in a different (higher) class than the old timers? Could Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner possibly be as awesome now vs. playing then, against all white, American guys? Just playing devil's advocate in order to learn.

                  Are people who don't consider pre-integration pre-"modern" era players dismissive? Someone posted on the stats thread of the hegemony of old timers on the all-time lists of nearly everyone (and that as being indicative that players dominated more then because the average player was far weaker.) Does this argument hold water, or are there alternative explanations as to the dominance of guys like Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, (and most of the all-time pitchers?)


                  Chris
                  Last edited by csh19792001; 03-03-2004, 03:40 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No one will ever agree with me, but I don't care. I would take Mays, Aaron, or Wagner over Ruth. Cobb is up there too. I change my opinion a lot, but now I am leaning toward Wagner.
                    I share pictures from my collection of baseball photographs on twitter @PastimeClassics

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      1st Career Runs (2245)
                      Actually, Cobb is second in career runs...
                      "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                      Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally from baseball-reference.com

                        1. Rickey Henderson 2295
                        2. Ty Cobb 2246 L
                        Also, Cobb is 5th all time in games
                        4. Rickey Henderson 3081
                        5. Ty Cobb+ 3035
                        AL East Champions: 1981 1982
                        AL Pennant: 1982
                        NL Central Champions: 2011
                        NL Wild Card: 2008

                        "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eddie Collins
                          No one will ever agree with me, but I don't care. I would take Mays, Aaron, or Wagner over Ruth. Cobb is up there too. I change my opinion a lot, but now I am leaning toward Wagner.

                          Actually, I agree with you a lot eddie. You have made enumerate great points, and always have tidbits to share.

                          Why leaning towards Honus? Who did you vote for here?

                          All of the baseball writers, managers, fellow players, executives, and coaches that ACTUALLY SAW Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner play, about 230 said that Tyrus Raymond Cobb was the greatest player who ever lived, while about 30 support Ruth (yes, ONLY 30), and about the same number support Honus Wagner. Many of Ruth's OWN TEAMMATES even said Cobb was a greater player!

                          I don't see how anyone (besides die-hard Yankee fans and stat mongers) could read the incredible laudatory content of those files and not at least think, (if only for a fleeting second): "Wow, Cobb really was the greatest, because nearly everyone who ever saw him, Ruth, and Wagner play said he was the best!" And it isn't like Cobb got votes out of cronyism or popularity. He was so great, that despite the fact that he was so hated and Ruth so loved and popular, people still (nearly universally) called him the greatest.

                          Even barring all first hand accounts of witnesses (which many people on this thread insist on doing), it's not like Cobb's numbers aren't incredible, even unadjusted for the era in which he played.

                          Adjusted, Ty Cobb’s numbers stand up to anyone's. I’d like to mention that Cobb led in adjusted OPS (on base plus slugging) 11 times and led in slugging 8 times. For stat people, OPS+ is akin to the holy grail of baseball statistics. Only Ruth (with many advantages I’ll discuss) and Rogers Hornsby (who focused ENTIRELY on hitting, and was a mediocre player otherwise) led the league more in this stat (13 and 12 times, respectively).

                          Still, most of us who really know the game realize that much of baseball does not and cannot (because of its nature) show up in statistics. Certain players look a lot better on paper than they really are, and vice versa. But the experts who study and write about baseball for a living catch all of the intangibles that don't manifest themselves in statistics. And that's exactly what we have. The accounts of people, these a priori witnesses who actually saw these guys play.

                          Some other things of note, germane to this debate that people generally don't know....Babe Ruth never won a poll for "Greatest Player Ever" during his lifetime. His stature has grown continuously and posthumously because he was a NY Yankee, a fun, loveable guy, and had tremendous WS glory. In addition he was on the greatest teams in baseball history (his teams' WPCT for his career) and had the richest owner in baseball, the biggest city, and 25 newspapers behind him. He also changed baseball irrevocably with his new style that the general lay public loved and still loves today.

                          Ruth's new game worked perfectly given the new baseball in play, the rule changes that put the offense way ahead until about 1940 (rules barring spitballs, shiners, et al), and a stadium that was built for him (The Stadium was always tremendous HR wise for lefties (with that 296 ft. wall and short porch). Babe Ruth took full advantage of everything afforded him, and put up the greatest power numbers in history.

                          By contrast, Ty Cobb played on generally lousy teams, in the smallest market in the American League, with 2 newspapers and a cheapskate owner behind him. He didn't have those vital advantages, or a guy AVERAGING 150 RBI's per season batting behind him for 10 years. In fact, nobody ever hit more than 21 homers on any of Cobb's teams, either. He had to manufacture runs on his own much more often. He hit .387 in a decade when the league struggled to hit .260. He dominated against the spitball, the shineball, the black ball, and a 370 ft right field line. He also player-managed for 6 years, which generally kills one's numbers because it takes so much out of you. Ruth could never be depended upon to manage because he was a buffoon, and in actuality, knew very little about the intricacies of the game. Hence, he was kind of pushed out of the game. Cobb was a baseball genius, by contrast.

                          Here are the titles I think The Babe STILL deserves, even after 70 years-
                          Greatest slugger ever
                          Greatest home run hitter ever
                          Greatest pitcher-hitter combo ever
                          Most famous and arguably most important player ever (given his historical impact), but one could argue for Jackie, perhaps.

                          But greatest baseball player? I'm not talking about fame and glory and historical importance- just what the guys did on the field. Maybe other people subsume all these things under "greatest". I don't. If that is part of the definition, Ill have to change my whole take on things.

                          Even using the “5 tools” approach, Ruth falls short of Mays, Wagner, and Cobb.

                          Chris
                          Last edited by csh19792001; 03-03-2004, 08:31 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chad
                            I have got to go with Cobb. Here are my reasons.

                            4th All Time Games (3034)
                            1st Batting Average (.366)
                            3rd Career .300 Seasons (16)
                            4th Career At-Bats (11434)
                            1st Career Runs (2245)
                            2nd Career Hits (4190)
                            7th Career 100 Run Seasons (11)
                            2nd Career 200 Hit Seasons (9)
                            2nd Career Singles (3053)
                            3rd Career Doubles (725)
                            2nd Career Triples (295)
                            4th Career Total Bases (5856)
                            5th Career RBI's (1937)
                            4th Career Stolen Bases (892)
                            Two corrections-

                            Cobb had 23 .300 seasons, (not 16), and should be third all-time in steals (before 1898, the definition of "stolen bases" also included "extra bases advanced"). Hence, Billy Hamilton was playing under different rules and his total would not be nearly as high playing under current rules.

                            The other numbers (hits, runs, triples, RBI) fluctuate a bit with each wave of revisional research.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Of course, in my opinion, Babe Ruth is the greatest player ever and there's really nobody else that's even close.

                              I can see the argument for Cobb, if you want to talk about what people who saw him play felt (which is, in my opinion, absolutely useless... people who saw "Friends" said it was a funny tv show), even though I disagree with it. And I can kinda, sorta, maybe see an argument for Mays, if you're heavily discounting the value of pre-integration baseball (which I don't) and heavily valuing defense (which I wouldn't... when I'm valuing a player, I generally think along the lines of 80% hitting, 10% fielding, 10% baserunning).

                              But Aaron? I just don't see it. .305/.374/.555 is great... but doesn't compare to Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Foxx, Hornsby, or any of the other truly great hitters. Sure, Aaron stuck around forever... but was there any point, any particular year, where he was even considered the best player in baseball for that year?

                              He had one MVP season... where he went .322/.378/.600, with 44 homers, 118 runs, and 132 RBI's. Meanwhile, Mickey Mantle was busy going .365/.512/.665 with 34 homers, 121 runs, and 94 RBI, with 16 steals thrown in for good measure (Aaron had 1 steal). Aaron's best season, 1971, when he went .327/.410/.669, he came in third in MVP voting... Joe Torre was busy going .363/.421/.555 with 137 RBI (which, by the way, is more RBI than Aaron EVER had).

                              In the first half of Aaron's career, he was in the shadow of Mays and Musial. In the second half of his career, there was Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, and Ernie Banks. And that's just in the NL!

                              Sorry, but in order for a guy to get mention as the best player ever, he had to have, at least at some point, been the best player in baseball at a given time. Aaron's a great, great player, all time great... but he doesn't crack my top 20 list when it comes down to it.
                              "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                              Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                              Comment

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