Friday November 15, 2013
We've reached the pinnacle of our four-day unveiling of the top 100 players in MLB history.
Nos. 100-76 were unveiled Tuesday, Nos. 75-51 on Wednesday and Nos. 50-26 on Thursday.
This is No. 25 to No. 1, and there shouldn't be too many arguments. There actually is a pretty good consensus from other lists of top 10 players in baseball history, such as those compiled by ESPN, Society For Baseball Research, The Sporting News and Baseball-Reference.com's EloRater, among others. Even the sabermetrics agree that Babe Ruth is still the No. 1 player in baseball history, and it probably isn't even close.
Some other notes from the top 25:
- No. 23 Mel Ott is rarely thought of as a player on the short list of the best ever, but he hit 511 home runs and led the Giants in homers for an incredible 18 consecutive seasons (1928-45).
- The only two players in the top 25 not in the Hall of Fame are pitchers: No. 21 Randy Johnson and No. 13 Greg Maddux. They're both no-doubt Hall of Famers in due time, which comes this summer for Maddux. Among left-handers, only Lefty Grove ranks higher than the "Big Unit," and that's a tough call.
- Six of the top seven players on the list are outfielders, broken up by the No. 1 pitcher, Walter Johnson. Of course, Ruth was a pretty good pitcher as well -- and that's one reason he's such a resounding No. 1.
- Every one of the top 25 players played in the majors for 16 years or longer.
To the list:
Friday November 15, 2013
It was expected that Masahiro Tanaka would find his way to the major leagues at some point this offseason, where teams are anxiously hoping to make a bid for a 25-year-old pitcher who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan this past season.
But there's a problem. Major League Baseball and Japanese officials have not made an agreement on extending the bidding system that allowed stars such as Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka to make the trip to the majors.
Under the old "posting" system, players could move to the majors before the required nine seasons of service time needed to become a free agent in Japan, but only if MLB teams paid off their existing teams for the rights to negotiate with the player. And those fees typically are astronomical. The Boston Red Sox paid $51.1 million to the Seibu Lions for the rights to make a deal with Matsuzaka in the 2006-07 offseason, and the Texas Rangers went even higher -- $51.7 million -- for Darvish two years ago.
The hang-ups are on the MLB side.
"I think the concerns with the system was it was a blind bidding process that led to inflated numbers," said MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred to the Associated Press, "and that those inflated numbers make that market unavailable to a broad cross-section of our teams."
Some teams also would like the posting fees to be counted in luxury tax numbers, and that would be a major hang-up for the players' union, who could certainly argue that a team would be more frugal in its dealings with current union members if the posting fee was subject to an additional tax.
Tanaka, 25, already has seven years of experience in Japan, having broken in as an 18-year-old for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2007. He might have to pitch for two more years in Japan if an agreement can't be made.
Related: Top 25 free agents
Friday November 15, 2013
The fact that Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen won MVP honors on Thursday wasn't much of a surprise. But perhaps the landslide nature of the vote was.
Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers third baseman, became the first player to repeat as American League Most Valuable Player in 19 years and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen became the first MVP from his team in 21 years as the winners were announced by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Cabrera couldn't duplicate his Triple Crown season from 2012, but he actually had one more first-place vote than the previous season over Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who finished as the runner-up in the AL for the second consecutive season. Cabrera led the majors with a .348 batting average in 2013 -- it was his third consecutive AL batting title -- and had 43 home runs and 137 RBI.
McCutchen was the favorite for the National League MVP award, but his vote total was a surprising landslide, as he was just two votes short of being a unianimous selection. McCutchen didn't lead the NL in any major statistical category, yet received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes. He hit .317 with 21 home runs, 84 RBI, 97 runs and 27 stolen bases.
Thursday November 14, 2013
The numbers get smaller and the players get better. It's the third day of our countdown of the top 100 players of all-time, and we're down to No. 50 through No. 26.
Nos. 100-76 were unveiled Tuesday and Nos. 75-51 on Wednesday.
Notes from this group of baseball legends:
Out of the 25 on this list, you'd think that they'd all be in Cooperstown, or at least headed there. But four of them probably won't: No. 48 Pete Rose, No. 42 Shoeless Joe Jackson, No. 37 Barry Bonds and No. 36 Roger Clemens. Rose and Jackson are not eligible because of gambling; Bonds and Clemens haven't been voted into the Hall because of evidence (circumstantial or otherwise) of performance-enhancing drugs.
No. 49 Bob Feller was one of the greatest pitchers ever, but he lost four years in his prime to World War II. Otherwise, he would have been an even bigger legend.
Feller probably wouldn't like being on this list next to No. 48 Rose. Too low for the all-time hits leader?
Two Dodgers legends might be considered too low on this list, but No. 47 Jackie Robinson and No. 38 Sandy Koufax -- teammates for three years in Brooklyn -- didn't have quite enough staying power to climb this list.
One more player not in the Hall already is No. 31 Pedro Martinez, who only has 219 career wins, but is widely considered one of the most dominant pitchers ever, and he did it during an era when offense was bloated.
And, of course, there's the problematic cases of Bonds and Clemens, whose career stats would put them in the top 10 for sure. Bonds is the all-time leader in home runs and Clemens won more Cy Young Awards than anybody in history (seven).