The post on Yogi Berra and the entire issue of “The Greatest Living Player” got me to thinking about it. I suppose it’s true that for any era you could put together a pretty fair team of “greatest living players”. For instance in the mid-1930s you could have Ruth and Cobb and Wagner and Gehrig and an entire host of other players to put together a team. But it seems to me that once you got beyond the initial lineup, the team roster would drop off pretty quickly.
Right now there is a depth of excellence in current and retired players that makes for a really great roster of “greatest living players” that easily fills out a full team. Here’s a just a quick look at one possibility (players listed alphabetically):
1b– Willie McCovey and Albert Pujols
2b–Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg
SS–Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith
3b–George Brett, Mike Schmidt
OF–Henry Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Willie Mays, Dave Winfield, Carl Yaztremzski
C–Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra
SP–Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver
Relievers–Goose Gossage, Mariano Rivera
And in all this I left out Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, a bunch of other position players, all the steroid boys, and a ton of pitchers.
It’s a list of 24 (a roster is 25 but I left a space for you to add your favorite) and could certainly be tweaked to put together an even better list (adding in any of the players mentioned in the “left out” list plus others). All the above list, except Pujols, Rivera, and Griffey are currently in the Hall of Fame and I see no reason, at the current time, to believe any of them will be excluded when their time comes. I could have easily replaced Pujols with Rod Carew, Rivera with Rollie Fingers, and Griffey with Frank Robinson, but I wanted to show that the “greatest living player” list could include players still active and players not yet eligible for the Hall.
All in all I believe this shows the depth of great players in the last 50 years. The players 100 years ago may (or maybe not) have been greater, but there certainly weren’t as many of them. I think that speaks well for the future of the game.
Tags: greatest living players