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Before we begin ranking baseball players by position or anybody for that matter, we’re going to try to zoom out and evaluate what factors we ought consider. Baseball contains two features that are unique to the sport, well as American sports go, and help (and hurt) the evaluation process. First, baseball is intensely data-rich. As Kevin Costner’s character stated in For Love of the Game “We count everything in baseball.”

That’s been, as seasoned baseball fans will tell you, both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it has laid the groundwork for the saber-metrics revolution that has helped reshape not just how baseball teams approach strategy but all of sports. On the other hand, it has to lead to the proliferation of statistics and metrics that may or may not be relevant. Whether your bible in this space is Michael Brooks’ Moneyball or any book by the godfather of saber-metrics Bill James, what’s important to note:  the mark of a good player is dependent on market conditions.

That is to say that a single row of a stat line cannot, on its own, be sufficient to determine whether or not a player is good. Yes, a 40+ home run, .300+ batting average, and 100+ RBIs are good in any year. Any year, that is, that we’ve seen. We may manipulate the game of baseball to a sufficient degree where one feels sorry for a player with only 40 home runs in a season. Perhaps a day will come when 100 RBIs in a year is a mark of severe decline of a player’s ability.

Thankfully, that time is not coming in the near future. In fact, the beauty of baseball and its relationship to statistics is in the sample size. Not only has baseball been around for two centuries but, at 2,430 regular-season games a year, it contains one of the longest seasons of any professional sport. This volume of games provides a great sample size for doing the complex and controversial work of objectivity that we plan to do.

Alright, let’s get to it. One vote per 24 hours. Please join the debate below if you think we’re missing someone special. The number after the “:” is the player’s career WAR.

Who is the Best Baseball Player of All Time?

More Specific Baseball Rankings

There are probably 30-40 players we could justify on the list above that we had to leave out for practical reasons. With that in mind, we also created more specific baseball-related polls that should be easier to manage.

Best Outfielders By Position

Ranking outfielders is tricky because of the variation between positions. Right fielders need to have the strongest arms on the diamond but center fielders need to be the fastest to account for both gaps between left-center and right-center.

Best Left Fielder

Center fielder

Right Fielder

Best Infielders of All Time By Position

First Baseman

Second Baseman

Short Stopstop

Third Baseman

Catcher