This is part three of my series ranking the top 250 baseball players ever to play the game. For more information about how this list was compiled please refer to part one. This section is for players ranked 200-176
199: Luis Tiant was born in Cuba, the son of a star Negro League pitcher for the New York Cubans. He had two seasons with an ERA under two, and finished his career with 229 wins and 2,416 strikeouts. He was traded in 1969 for a handful of players including Graig Nettles.
198: Bret Saberhagen won two Cy Young awards, and was named MVP of the 1985 World Series when he was just 21 years old. Injuries got the best of him though, he never threw 200 or more innings after he turned 26.
197: George Sisler was a titan of his time. He hit over .400 twice, held the single season hits record for 84 years, and had two hit streaks surpass 30 games. He finished his career with a batting average of .340.
196: Billy Hamilton finished his career with a batting average of .344 which ranks 7th all time. He was the career leader in stolen bases (914) from 1897-1977 until Lou Brock surpassed him. Hamilton hit .403 in 1894 but finished 5th in batting that year.
195: Ralph Kiner led the National League in home runs his first seven years in the league. After playing in just ten seasons a back injury forced him to retire at the age of 32. He later became a broadcaster primarily with the Mets. He served with the U.S. Navy during World War II.
194: Keith Hernandez won 11 straight Gold Glove awards from 1978-1988, he was an All-Star five times, and was the co-MVP of the National League in 1979. He won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1982 and with the Mets in 1986. He was one of the players involved in the Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985.
193: Andy Pettitte won the most games in baseball from 2000-2009 and 256 overall during his 18-year career. He was a five-time World Series champion with the Yankees. He was also named in the Mitchell Report for purchasing HGH.
192: Old Hoss Radbourn is perhaps best known because of this parody Twitter feed but he also holds the record for most wins in a season (59). He did that in 1884, he also pitched in 678.2 innings that year.
191: Todd Helton hit .345/.441/.607 at home and .287/.386/.469 on the road. He clearly had an advantage playing all of his home games in Colorado but we shouldn’t dismiss the runs and wins he helped generate there. Those count too. Also, WAR accounts for park factors. He was briefly the starting QB at the University of Tennessee until Peyton Manning displaced him.
190: Chase Utley had five consecutive seasons with a WAR of 7 or better, this includes a 9 win season in 2008. He has been selected an All-Star six times, and helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. He already exceeds Hall of Fame standards in terms of WAR and WAA but he will need to add to his counting numbers, particularly his hit total to actually get in. No position player who debuted after 1950 has been elected with fewer than 2,000 hits.
189: Kevin Brown is a member of the elite 60 WAR/40 WAA club. He led his league in ERA twice, WHIP twice, and wins once. He helped the Marlins win their first World Series in 1997. He signed the first 100 million dollar contract in baseball, and was also named in the Mitchell Report for purchasing steroids and HGH.
188: Kirby Puckett Led the American League in hits four times, total bases twice, and batting average once. He was a 10-time All-Star, won six Gold Gloves, and two World Series championships with the Twins. His career ended abruptly at the age of 36 after being diagnosed with glaucoma in his right eye. After he retired Puckett was accused of several terrible things.
187: Hiromitsu Ochiai was a nonconformist who excelled in an environment that places a premium on tradition. He finished his career with 510 home runs despite not receiving regular playing time until he was 27 years old. A 15-time All-Star, Ochiai won the Triple Crown in 1982, 1985, and 1986.
184: Sammy Sosa hit 332 home runs from 1998-2003. That’s an average of 55 a year. Three times during that stretch he surpassed 61 homers. He won the NL MVP in 1998 and finished his career with 609 home runs. Eventually he became one of the figureheads of Major League Baseball’s “steroid era”, was called in front of Congress about his alleged doping, and the New York Times reported he failed MLB’s initial survey test for steroids in 2003. Further reading on his alleged drug use can be found here.
181: Hilton Smith often found himself in the shadow of his longtime teammate Satchel Paige but he was an elite pitcher in his own right. Known for his devastating curveball, Smith helped the Kansas City Monarchs win the Negro League World Series in 1942.
180: Cristóbal Torriente was a power-hitting star of the Negro Leagues and in Cuba. Here’s what Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo had to say about him (via the Baseball Hall of Fame’s website) “We have never given Torriente the credit he deserved. He did everything well, he fielded like a natural, threw in perfect form, he covered as much field as could be covered; as for batting, he left being good to being something extraordinary.” Further reading on Torriente can be found here and here.
179: Richie Ashburn was a star on the “Whiz Kids ” he led the National League in batting average twice, on-base percentage four times, hits three times, and triples twice. He was also an elite defender.
178: Andre Dawson won the National League MVP in 1987. He had power and was a plus defender early in his career, however he was never a guy that got on base a lot. He retired with 438 home runs and an OBP of .323. He is one of just three players in MLB history with at least 400 home runs and a career OBP below .325.
177: Enos Slaughter was a 10- time All-Star and a 4-time World Series Champion. He missed three full seasons (ages 27-29) due to his military service in World War II. During Jackie Robinson’s rookie season he spiked Jackie intentionally sliding hard into first base. How much of that was based on racial tensions or just “old-school baseball” remains up for debate. Slaughter had also been rumored to be an organizer in the Cardinals’ effort to strike in protest of Robinson playing at all, but again those stories conflict and facts are hard to come by. Derrick Goold does a good job summarizing both events in this piece.
176: Jim Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves, and a World Series with the Cardinals in 2006. He finished his career with 393 home runs and an OPS+ of 132. Here’s a list of integration era centerfielders who have matched or bettered that kind of production. He also made this catch.
I will post the list in chunks of 25 over the next two weeks. Part four will be up tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @RossCarey and join the conversation at #Top250