The Greatest Living Players Issue

one of the greatest living players

one of the greatest living players

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

DH–Paul Molitor

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.

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5 Responses to “The Greatest Living Players Issue”

  1. Gary Trujillo Says:

    I’m going to take Rollie Fingers over Goose Gossage and Reggie over Yaz and Winfield.

  2. Bruce Thiesen Says:

    Excellent choices. Never ending deliberation. First thoughts – Juan Marichal, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams, Vida Blue, Nolan Ryan, and a number of others who don’t come to mind at the moment.

  3. The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    Of course, you know I have to put Brooks Robinson at third. I’d take that magnificent glove over a few extra career home runs any day.

    (My husband will argue for Rod Carew.)

    But, really, as long as Willie Mays is on your list … everyone else comes in second if you ask me. 🙂

  4. Miller Says:

    I love things like this because there’s just so much room to debate. Very sadly I wanted to fight for Gary Carter…

    But I’d take Piazza, Carew, Grich, Larkin, F.Robby, and Thomas over Berra, McCovey, Sandberg, Ozzie, Winfield, and Molitor. The only two about which I feel very strongly are Frank over Winfield and someone over McCovey.

    As you probably know, there are a ton of guys I prefer to Koufax, the best of which is the Big Unit.

    And I’d ignore the alphabet and take Mariano over Gossage. Yeah, he was good enough to eclipse alphabetical order.

    Fun stuff! Thanks!

  5. Eric’s Greatest Living Players, HoME Style | the Hall of Miller and Eric Says:

    […] in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere. Our pal Verdun2 recently posted his thoughts on the greatest living players. I thought I’d take a spin through the question, too, then look at it from a direction ESPN […]

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