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Who are the candidates for best player ever?

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  • Who are the candidates for best player ever?

    --How many players can you realistically argue a case for best player ever? I'd limit that list to 5 players plus one guy who is kind of a wild card.
    --Honus Wagner is almost universally regarded as the best ever at his position - perhaps by the widest margin of anyone. He excelled at every phase of the game, excepting plate disicpline. The only real knock on him is the quality of the leagues he played in.
    --Ty Cobb was easily the greatest hitter of the deadball era and may still be the best hitter for average ever to play MLB. He is perhaps the greatest baserunner ever. He was not a great CFer, but he was a good one with a defense advantage over most if not all the players who have a claim at being a better hitter. He also has league quality issues, although somewhat less than Wagner. Perhaps the bigger knock on Cobb is that he couldn't or wouldn't adapt to the power game of the liveball era.
    --Babe Ruth is the greatest hitter of all time. He dominated the game like no one before or since. He does give huge amount of ground to Wagner and a significant amount to Cobb defensively - and a huge amount to both on the bases. His bat probably makes up for that unless you think a big part of that was just being in the right place at the right time with the game changing to a style only he was playing just as he hit his peak.
    --Willie Mays rivals Honus Wagner as the best all around player ever. CF isn't SS, but it is an important defensive position and Mays played it as well as anyone. He also has a huge league quality advantage over Wagner.
    --Barry Bonds had a run of years to rival (or possibly even surpass) Ruth as a hitter. Prior to that he was a tremendous all around player - nearly at Mays (maybe even as good if you think the league had improved much between Mays and Bonds) quality excepting his arm. The big knock on him, of course, is that he is the posterboy for steroids. None of us can know how much of his late success was aided by them, but many refuse to give him any credit at all for his great season in the 2000s. I don't agree with that, but if you ding him much at all he would fall out of this discussion.
    --The wild card for me is Josh Gibson. He has been discribed as a catcher who hit like Jimmie Foxx and that is an amazing player. Whether he was really quite that good or if he sustained it for long enough is a big enough question that I can't quite up him up with the 5 MLB guys on this list, but I do rank him as bet catcher ever.
    Last edited by leecemark; 08-10-2012, 09:34 AM.

  • #2
    I agree with just about all of your assertions. If I have to choose 5 plus a wild card, it's them.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

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    • #3
      What about Speaker? He was very similar to Mays as a hitter, and as good in the field (at least reputation-wise...WAR doesn't seem to agree). He also had 436 steals, and a pretty long career.

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      • #4
        My top 5 for "Greatest Player Ever":

        Babe Ruth
        Ty Cobb
        Josh Gibson
        Oscar Charleston
        Willie Mays

        my wild-card is Albert Pujols. He just might be the greatest if you look at the level of world-wide competition he plays against and the numbers he puts up. Lance Berkman says Pujols is the greatest player of all-time.

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        • #5
          My top 5 for "Greatest Player Ever":

          Babe Ruth
          Ty Cobb
          Barry Bonds
          Honus Wagner
          Hank Aaron

          My wild card would be Willie Mays
          Last edited by John Shoemaker; 08-10-2012, 10:04 AM.

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          • #6
            I agree with your five picks as well and the logic behind them.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by willshad View Post
              What about Speaker? He was very similar to Mays as a hitter, and as good in the field (at least reputation-wise...WAR doesn't seem to agree). He also had 436 steals, and a pretty long career.
              Most people agree that Cobb was better so that sort of bumps him out of the running
              "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

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              • #8
                How come Willie Mays always gets mentioned in these threads?

                Lots of people say Mantle was the better CF, and he never gets mentioned as the greatest player ever.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by redban View Post
                  How come Willie Mays always gets mentioned in these threads?

                  Lots of people say Mantle was the better CF, and he never gets mentioned as the greatest player ever.
                  --I don't think anybody says he was a better centerfielder, although when both were at their peak some thought he was a better player. Mantle was a good defensive player as a young man, but never a great one. His knees failed him early enough that he was a defensive liability the 2nd half of his career. He also lacked the longevity to put him in the arguement for greatest player ever.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by leecemark View Post
                    --I don't think anybody says he was a better centerfielder, although when both were at their peak some thought he was a better player. Mantle was a good defensive player as a young man, but never a great one. His knees failed him early enough that he was a defensive liability the 2nd half of his career. He also lacked the longevity to put him in the arguement for greatest player ever.
                    That right there says it all.

                    Best ever means there is no one better than you.

                    How can you consider Mays the best-ever when at his peak, people thought someone else was a better player?

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                    • #11
                      -Well some thought Mays was better at their peaks . More importantly Mays was a top player for much longer. You can argue the point of which was better at their peaks, but Mays clearly had the better career.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by redban View Post
                        That right there says it all.

                        Best ever means there is no one better than you.

                        How can you consider Mays the best-ever when at his peak, people thought someone else was a better player?


                        'Best player ever' and 'Best peak seasons' are two totally different argument.


                        I also fail to see why Mays is always considered a notch above Speaker.

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                        • #13
                          --Mays biggest edge over Speaker is league quality. They played at a similar level, but Mays did it in much better leagues.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by willshad View Post
                            'Best player ever' and 'Best peak seasons' are two totally different argument.


                            I also fail to see why Mays is always considered a notch above Speaker.
                            I just don't get it then.

                            In his best years, he wasn't even the best player in the game. How can he then be the best in baseball history?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by redban View Post
                              How can you consider Mays the best-ever when at his peak, people thought someone else was a better player?
                              That could be applied to every single player. When Ruth was at his peak, some people said Cobb was better. You could make a credible argument that Walter Johnson was better than every player mentioned so far

                              For me, personally, it comes down to Babe Ruth vs Josh Gibson

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