With the baseball season on hold, let us look back at MLB’s best players to ever play by each franchise. Some teams like the Marlins, lack a history of long term talent. Other teams like the Yankees, are stacked with talent throughout their team’s history. Here is the best player to ever play for every team.
(All all-time players are those who have played for the teams in their current incarnation)
LHP Randy Johnson
(1999-2004, 2007-2008), 118-62 W-L, 2.83 ERA, 2,077 SO, 50.9 WAR
A mere 8 years is all it took for Randy Johnson to become the greatest player in the Arizona Diamondbacks short history. A 2001 World Series championship and four Cy Youngs in a row helped his case. Paul Goldschmidt was the only player close to The Big Unit, posting a WAR of 40.7 in 8 years, before a trade to St. Louis prior to 2019.
OF Hank Aaron
(1954-1976), .305/.374/.555, 755 HR, 2,297 RBI, 143.1 WAR
Hank Aaron, the MLBs home run king from 1974 to 2007, played for the Braves organization in three different cities. A truly loyal slugger, Aaron etched his name into the history books as a long time Brave, playing his entire career for the franchise.
SS Cal Ripken Jr.
(1981-2001),.276/.340/.447, 431 HR, 1,695 RBI, 95.9 WAR
As baseball’s iron man, Cal Ripken Jr. spent his whole career as a Baltimore Oriole. The legendary shortstop won a rookie of the year award, two MVP awards, and won the ’83 World Series with the O’s. A record of 2,632 games in a row propelled Ripken to baseball immortality and folklore.
Boston Red Sox
OF Ted Williams
(1939-1960), .344/.482/.634, 521 HR, 1,839 RBI, 121.9 WAR
Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game. Williams missed three years of his prime and still had over 2,600 hits and 500 home runs. A Boston Red Sox lifer, Williams won two MVP awards and had 19 All-Star appearances. At the age of 22, Williams posted a 1.287 OPS, good enough for seventh all-time in a single season. At the age of 38, he put up an OPS of 1.256, which is 10th all-time in a single season. Teddy ballgame was real good for a long time.
Chicago White Sox
1B Frank Thomas
(1990-2005), .307/.427/.568, 448 HR, 1,465 RBI, 68.3 WAR
A two-time AL MVP, The Big Hurt put up some extraordinary numbers in his 16 years with the Chicago White Sox. Although players like Luke Appling and Ted Lyons may have slightly better overall numbers with defense included, Frank Thomas was a threat his entire career en route to 448 career home runs with the Sox and a 2005 World Series title.
1B/SS Ernie Banks
(1953-1971), .274/.330/.500, 512 HR, 1,636 RBI, 67.8 WAR
A lifelong Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks was a consistent MVP candidate early in his career, winning two of the awards. Collecting over 500 home runs, over 2,500 hits, and spending his whole career with Chicago, he just barely passes Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo as the Cubs best player in history. Banks was affectionately known as “Mr. Cub.”
1B/OF Pete Rose
(1963-1978, 1984-1986), .307/.379/.425, 152 HR, 3,358 H, 78.2 WAR
The all-time hit king spent 19 years in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, collecting 3,358 of his 4,256 career hits. A member of the two-time World Series champion “Big Red Machine” of the 70s, Pete Rose proved himself as the greatest Red to ever play. Add in his 1973 MVP award, three batting titles, and 13 all-star games, Charlie Hustle has the hardware to prove his place among Cincinnati greats.
RHP Bob Feller
(1936-1956), 266-162 W-L, 3.25 ERA, 2,581 SO, 65.2 WAR
Bob Feller entered the league at the age of 17 and became an immediate star, leading the league in strikeouts four years in a row from age 19 to 22. At the age of 23, Feller joined the military and missed three years of his career, but returned and led the league in strikeouts another three years in a row. A World Series Champion in 1948, Feller spent his entire 20-year career with the tribe and collected an ERA title and a pitching triple crown.
1B Todd Helton
(1997-2013), .316/.414/.539, 369 HR, 2,519 H, 61.8 WAR
Todd Helton has never been given enough credit for his accomplishments because he played his entire career at Coors Field, but he is a hero in Colorado. A career OPS of .953, his 2000 batting title, five all-star appearances, and the Colorado Rockies 2007 NL pennant helped cement his legacy as a Rockie.
CF Ty Cobb
(1905-1926), .366/.433/.512, 4,189 H, 897 SB, 145.4 WAR
Ty Cobb is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game. A contact hitter in every sense of the word, he won 12 batting titles, an MVP award, and even a triple crown in his 22 years as a Detroit Tiger. Retiring as the all-time hit king in 1928, and the all-time career batting average leader, The Georgia Peach cemented his legacy in both Detroit and the world.
1B Jeff Bagwell
(1991-2005), .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 79.9 WAR
Jeff Bagwell only needed 15 years in Houston to prove himself as the greatest Astro of all time. Although he never did get a World Series title, he and fellow Houston Astros legend, Craig Biggio, lead the ‘Stros to the NL Pennant in 2005. Bagwell also added a 1994 NL MVP award, 1991 ROY award, and four all-star appearances to his legendary Hall of Fame career.
Kansas City Royals
3B George Brett
(1973-1993), .305/.369/.487, 3,154 H, 317 HR, 88.6 WAR
George Brett is without a doubt the best player to come through Kansas City. Over his 21 year career as a Kansas City Royal, Brett recorded over 3,000 hits, won the 1980 AL MVP award (hitting .390), and was on the 1985 World Series Championship team.
Los Angeles Angels
CF Mike Trout
(2011-), .305/.419/.581, 285 HR, 1,324 H, 72.8 WAR
While Mike Trout is making his mark as one of the greatest players in MLB history, he has already become the greatest Angel in the team’s history. Winning three MVPs, eight all-star appearances, and seven silver sluggers, and a 2011 ROY award, Trout is still only 28 years old.
Los Angeles Dodgers
LHP Clayton Kershaw
(2008-), 169-74 W-L, 2.44 ERA, 2,464 SO, 65.3 WAR
Clayton Kershaw, 32 on March 19th, is one of the greatest pitchers to ever play. The three-time Cy Young award winner and 2014 NL MVP is a Los Angeles Dodgers legend. Although he has lead the Dodgers to nine playoff appearances and two pennants, he is still searching for his first World Series championship.
OF Giancarlo Stanton
(2010-2017), .268/.360/.554, 267 HR, 672 RBI, 35.7 WAR
The Miami Marlins have had lots of talent pass through their system. Although not a lot of that talent sticks, Giancarlo Stanton made the biggest impact. His awe-inspiring power and 2017 NL MVP performance helped solidify his spot as the team’s all-time greatest. In eight short years, Stanton became the Marlins all-time leader in WAR, SLG%, HR, and RBIs.
SS/OF Robin Yount
(1974-1993), .285/.342/.430, 251 HR, 3,142 H, 77.3 WAR
Robin Yount entered the league at age 18 and grew to become a force for the Milwaukee Brewers. His two NL MVP awards and over 3,000 hits helped solidify his legend in Milwaukee. The Hall Of Famer is the clubs all-time leader in WAR, runs, hits, doubles, and several other categories.
1B/2B Rod Carew
(1967-1978), .328/.393/.429, 2,085 H, 271 SB, 63.8 WAR
Rod Carew cemented himself as one of the all-time greatest hitters during his time in Minnesota. The 1967 ROY and 1977 AL MVP had 2,085 of his career 3,053 hits in a Minnesota Twins uniform. Seven batting titles and 12 all-star appearances in Minnesota lead to his Hall Of Fame induction in 1991.
New York Yankees
OF Babe Ruth
(1920-1934), .349/.484/.711, 659 HR, 1,978 RBI, 142.8 WAR
Arguably the greatest player of all time, Babe Ruth spent 15 years in a New York Yankees uniform. Four World Series wins, a 1923 AL MVP award, and retiring as the MLBs all-time home run king cemented his legacy in New York. Despite the tons of talent to pass through New York, Ruth stands the test of time as the best Yankee.
New York Mets
RHP Tom Seaver
(1967-1977, 1983) 198-124 W-L, 2.57 ERA, 2,541 SO, 76.0 WAR
It only took Tom Seaver 12 years to become the greatest Met to ever play. A member of the 1969 World Series champions won three Cy Young awards, 1967 ROY award, and three ERA titles on his way to Cooperstown. Seaver who was known as “The Franchise” retired as one of the greatest players of all time, but he will always be remembered for his time as a Met.
OF Rickey Henderson
(1979-1984, 1989-1993, 1994-1995, 1998), .288/.409/.430, 167 HR, 867 SB, 72.7
Although pitcher Eddie Plank put up a better career WAR for the Oakland Athletics, Rickey Henderson made the most noticeable impact. In 14 years over four different stints with the team, Henderson stole over 800 of his career 1,406 stolen bases. The 1989 World Series champion and 1990 AL MVP solidified his status as one of the best of all time with the As.
3B Mike Schmidt
(1972-1989, .267/.380/.527, 548 HR, 1,595 RBI, 106.9 WAR
A career Philadephia Phillie, Mike Schmidt won three NL MVPs, played on the 1980 World Series championship team, and hit over 500 career home runs in Philadelphia. His 12 all-star appearances, 10 gold gloves, six silver slugger awards, and his 1980 World Series MVP award lead him to his 1995 Hall Of Fame induction as far and away the best player to come through the Philadelphia.
SS Honus Wagner
(1900 to 1917), .328/.394/.468, 2,967 H, 639 SB, 120.1 WAR
One of the greatest players of all time, Honus Wagner established himself as a Pittsburgh Pirate great at the turn of the century. Wagner made his name known through eight batting titles and continuously led the league in doubles, triples, and stolen bases. A 1909 World Series win and his 1936 Hall Of Fame induction catapulted himself into legend status as a Pirate.
San Diego Padres
OF Tony Gwynn
(1982-2001), .338/.388/.459, 3,141 H, 543 2B, 69.2 WAR
Although loads of talent have passed through San Diego, including several Hall Of Famers, Tony Gwynn is without a doubt the best. Mr. Padre spent all of his 20-year career as a San Diego Padre, racking up a .338 career average and over 3,000 hits. With 15 all-star selections, eight batting titles, seven silver slugger awards, and five golden gloves also helped skyrocketed Gwynn to his 2007 Hall Of Fame induction.
San Francisco Giants
OF Willie Mays
(1951-52, 1954-1972), .304/.385/.564, 646 HR, 3,187 H, 154.6 WAR
Barry Bonds did cement his legacy as the all-time HR king in San Francisco and hit over 550 home runs there, but Willie Mays is the best player to spend his entire career as a San Francisco Giant. In 21 years, Mays gathered over 3,000 hits and over 600 home runs in a Giants uniform, earning a 1979 Hall Of Fame induction. The Say Hey Kid played in 24 all-star games, 12 gold gloves, two NL MVP awards, 1951 NL ROY award, and a 1954 World Series title were just decoration on a storied career.
(1989-1999, 2009-2010), .292/.374/.553, 417 HR, 1,216 RBI, 70.6 WAR
The Kid made a name for himself as a Seattle Mariner, spending his first 11 years with the Mariners. After departing and struggling with injuries with the Reds and White Sox later in his career, Ken Griffey Jr. returned to the M’s to retire where it all started. The 1997 AL MVP and his 13 all-star appearances were inducted into the Hall Of Fame as a Mariner in 2016.
St. Louis Cardinals
OF Stan Musial
(1941-1944, 1946-63), .331/.417/.559, 475 HR, 3,630 H, 128.3 WAR
Stan The Man is one of the greatest players of all time and spent all 22 years of his career as a St. Louis Cardinal. Stan Musial played in 24 all-star games, had seven batting titles, and three MVP awards which led to his induction into the Hall Of Fame in 1969.
Tampa Bay Rays
3B Evan Longoria
(2008-2017), .270/.341/.483, 261 HR, 892 RBI, 51.8 WAR
Evan Longoria led the Tampa Bay Rays to their first and only World Series appearance in 2008 to go along with an AL ROY award. The franchise icon leads the Rays in most all-time offensive categories, including games, home runs, RBIs, and total bases. A three-time all-star and gold glove winner, Longoria made his mark as Tampa Bay’s finest prior to his trade to the Giants in 2018.
C Ivan Rodriguez
(1991-2002, 2009), .304/.341/.488, 217 HR, 1,747 H, 50.0 WAR
Ivan Rodriguez came up with the Texas Rangers and was a star for more than a decade. His 1999 AL MVP award goes along with his 10 straight gold gloves in Texas, as well as 10 straight all-star games representing Texas. Pudge retired as the teams all-time leader in WAR through his defensive prowess and consistent bat, which earned his 2017 Hall Of Fame induction.
Toronto Blue Jays
RHP Dave Stieb
(1979-1992, 1998), 175-134 W-L, 3.42 ERA, 1,658 SO, 56.9 WAR
Although the great Roy Halladay made an impact with the Toronto Blue Jays, Dave Stieb is the greatest to play for the team. A 15-year career with the Jays, Stieb racked up seven all-star appearances and the 1985 AL ERA title, retiring as the team’s all-time leader in WAR.
3B Ryan Zimmerman
(2005-), .279/.343/.475, 270 HR, 1,015 RBI, 38.5 WAR
In the Washington National’s short history, they have always had Ryan Zimmerman to depend on. The two all-star and silver slugger has been the poster child of the franchise since it’s incarnation in DC, helping the team win its first World Series in 2019.
With so many great players on every team, these are for sure the best of the best. Each team has a storied history with many great players, and this list is meant to give an idea as to how noticeable their impact was. Everyone has different opinions, but numbers are numbers and hardware is hardware.
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