Top 6 Best MLB Baseball Players of All Time
Baseball is a complex sport with many different facets to the game, including hitting, pitching, and fielding. Different players field different positions and subsequently have different skill sets. Nonetheless, certain players can transcend their position to be known as all-time greats. Read on to learn about six of the greatest players ever to be a part of the MLB.
Who Are the Best MLB Baseball Players of All Time?
- Babe Ruth
- Hank Aaron
- Willie Mays
- Cy Young
- Barry Bonds
- Walter Johnson
1. Babe Ruth
- 714 career home runs (third all-time)
- Seven-time World Series champion
- Most career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in MLB history (183.1)
- Member of inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame class
George Herman Ruth Jr. is one of the most well-known players in MLB history, despite the fact he retired in 1935. Babe, as he was better known, played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball. In these seasons, Ruth helped redefine the game of baseball and increased the popularity of the sport immensely due to his productive bat and big-swing mentality.
Ruth set the record for most home runs in a single season four separate times, with quantities of 29, 54, 59, and 60, effectively doubling the record over the course of his career. He has the best career OPS (on-base plus slugging), the 13th best batting average of all-time at .342, and he drove in the second-most runs in MLB history with 2,213 career RBI. All of this should firmly put Ruth in the greatest player conversation; however, he also excelled as a pitcher early in his career. Ruth set the record for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the World Series at 29.7 innings before it was later broken by Whitey Ford.
2. Hank Aaron
- 25-time All-Star
- Most career RBI with 2,297
- 755 career home runs (second-most all-time)
Henry “Hank” Aaron is one of the greatest hitters that ever stepped onto an MLB field, finishing his career with more runs batted in than any other player. Aaron was an icon partially for his baseball skills and partially for how he handled the adversity he faced due to the racial divides in the United States. Until Bonds later broke the record, Aaron led a remarkable chase after Babe Ruth’s career home run record, which he would finally break in 1974.
A huge reason that Aaron was able to break Ruth’s unbreakable record was due to the consistency of his greatness. Aaron had a stretch during his career that resulted in him hitting more than 20 home runs for 20 consecutive seasons.
3. Willie Mays
- Two-time MVP
- 24-time All-Star
- 660 career home runs (sixth all-time)
Willie Mays is one of the greatest all-around players in MLB history that regularly impressed as a five-tool athlete. Mays is one of the best fielders in MLB history and earned the sixth-most Gold Glove Awards of all time, with a total of 12. His glove allowed him to save the eighth-most runs all-time in the field over the course of his career.
In 1971, Mays was recorded to be the best runner in the National League that season when he stole 23 bases at the age of 40. He also won a batting title and two All-Star Game MVPs and finished in the top seven of regular-season MVP voting a total of eight times, in addition to his two MVP wins.
4. Cy Young
- 1903 World Series champion
- Triple Crown in 1901
- Most career wins in MLB history (511)
Denton True “Cy” Young was one of baseball’s first star pitchers. He was a pioneer of power pitching, with one of the fastest arms of his era. When his top speed dropped later in his career, he used his control to remain a force on the mound well until his 40s.
Young played for five different MLB teams, starting with the Cleveland Spiders in 1890. In 1903, he led the Boston Americans to victory in the first modern World Series. Along with the record for most career wins, with 511, Young also holds the record for the most career innings pitched, games started, and complete games. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. The Cy Young award was created in his honor in 1956 to recognize the best MLB pitcher of the year.
5. Barry Bonds
- 762 career home runs (all-time leader)
- Seven-time MVP
- 4th all-time in career Wins Above Replacement (162.7)
- All-time leader in career walks
Barry Bonds is one of the most controversial athletes in the entire world due to his immense success and the methods he used to obtain it. Bonds is one of the greatest all-around players, with over 500 stolen bases, eight Gold Gloves, and the most home runs, walks, and intentional walks in MLB history.
At the age of 36 in 2001, Bonds went on to set the single-season record for home runs with a total of 73. The greatness of Bonds comes into question when Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) are introduced. There are a number of links between Bonds and PED use in some form or another over the course of his career, which many people argue diminishes his career feats. These PED links are likely the source of Bonds’ omission from the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his numerous accolades.
6. Walter Johnson
- Two-time MVP
- Three-time Triple Crown
- 1924 World Series champion
- Five-time ERA Title Holder
Walter Johnson made his name as one of the all-time pitchers in MLB history early on in the life of the league and also became known for his consistency, as evidenced by his 21-season career with the Washington Senators. Johnson won the 1924 World Series with the Senators, pitching 5,914 innings with them across his career. To this day, Johnson still holds the MLB all-time record for shutouts, with 110.
In addition to his impressive stats, Johnson earned a number of accolades across his career. He won the American League MVP Award twice, in 1913 and 1924. He was a three-time Triple Crown winner and has also been recognized as the ERA Pitching Champion five times. All of these accolades cemented Johnson’s place in baseball history, earning him his rightful place in the Hall of Fame in 1936.
- 1911 American League MVP
- Triple Crown winner
- 12-time batting title holder
- Best career batting average in MLB history (.366)
It could easily be argued that Ty Cobb belongs in the top six baseball players of all time solely based on his career batting average, the Holy Grail of baseball stats. Cobb’s .366 batting average has stood all the way from 1928 to the present day, an astonishing feat considering the wealth of talent that followed him. In addition to his phenomenal hitting skills, Cobb is second all-time in WAR, runs scored, hits, singles, and triples.
In addition to his stats, Cobb amassed a hefty portfolio of accolades during his career, including the American League MVP Award of 1911, a Triple Crown, and 12 batting titles. His play earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1936, an honor most will agree is well-deserved.
- All-time leader in On Base Percentage
- Six-time league batting champion (best average in MLB)
- 19-time All-Star
- Two-time Triple Crown winner (led MLB in HR, BA, and RBI)
Ted Williams is another one of the greatest players in MLB history who played his final game long before free agency even existed. Williams recorded one of the most remarkable feats in baseball history when he took off three seasons in the middle of his prime to serve the military during World War II and returned to win the MVP his next season.
Williams also won the Triple Crown twice in his career, which ties him for the second-most all-time. The three seasons Williams missed happened to be during his prime from ages 24 to 26, which resulted in his still impressive career marks being slightly lower than many other MLB legends. Williams has the 15th most RBI of all-time, 20th most home runs of all-time, and 14th most Wins Above Replacement.
Ken Griffey Jr.
- 13-time All-Star
- 1997 AL MVP
- 630 career home runs (seventh all-time)
Ken Griffey Jr., often known for his smooth swing, is one of the greatest what-ifs of all time, as he missed approximately 392 games in the final ten years of his career. The Kid, as he was known, posted some of the best hitting seasons in MLB history when he remained healthy, leading the American League in home runs four times between 1994 to 1999.
Unlike many other players of his era, Griffey Jr. has never been seriously connected with PED use, which allows his records to be simply admired and not questioned. He is also one of two players to finish their career with more than 600 home runs and ten Gold Gloves, along with Willie Mays.
Who is the greatest MLB baseball player of all time?
There is no single answer to who the greatest MLB player of all time is. The argument can be made for Ruth and his outlandish power numbers that still stand nearly a century later, but he played when the MLB was segregated. The case for Bonds is significantly weakened at the mention of his PED usage. While Williams and Griffey Jr. posted some incredible individual seasons, their slightly lower career totals make their argument hinge upon a what-if. Mays did it all, just not to the same dominant extent at the plate. Aaron holds or is close to the leader of many records, but career totals cannot be the only measure of success when the player has had one of the longest careers ever.
What MLB player holds the record for the most World Series rings won?
Yogi Berra has the most World Series rings won out of every player, with a total of 10. Berra spent his entire career playing for the Yankees, with the last of his World Series rings coming in 1962, a whole 15 years after he won his first ring. Of the 12 players in MLB history with seven or more World Series rings, all of them have played for the Yankees at some point in, or for the entirety of, their career.
What MLB player holds the record for the most career home runs?
Barry Bonds holds the record for the most career home runs in MLB history with 762. Bonds overthrew Hank Aaron as the home run king during the 2007 season. In fact, Bonds holds the record for the most home runs in both a career and season. However, many people would argue that Aaron is the true home run king of the MLB, with 755 home runs, due to the many links between Bonds and PED use.