Even local products make the top of the list.
Over the past week, ESPN has been publishing their rankings for the top 100 baseball players of all-time. On Thursday, they posted the top of the list: Nos. 1-25.
And players who spent parts of their careers in New York are all over the top of the list. New Jersey’s own Mike Trout, who has played his entire career with the Angels on the other coast, is the highest-ranked active player at No. 15 overall.
We previously considered where ESPN ranked Derek Jeter — and whether or not Jeter is actually overrated by ESPN’s crew.
Here’s where players who spent part of their careers in New York ranked in the eyes of ESPN’s esteemed analysts:
1. Babe Ruth — New York Yankees
Comments: “Home runs. The baseball we watch today is Babe Ruth’s game. Many players make an impact, a few become folk heroes, but nobody changed a sport like Ruth did when he joined the Yankees and transformed baseball into a game of power. No player dominated his era like Ruth. He led his league in home runs 12 times, often out-homering entire teams, and 13 times in slugging and OPS. He slugged .690 … for his career. He slugged .744 in 41 World Series games. He won all three of his World Series starts as a pitcher, one of them 14 innings. He called his shot. Or maybe he didn’t. Does it matter?”
2. Willie Mays — New York/San Francisco Giants, New York Mets
Comments: “For playing a shallow center field at a cavernous Polo Grounds, sprinting toward the center-field fence and making an improbable over-the-shoulder basket catch at the warning track with the score tied late in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. It’s a play known simply as “The Catch,” and it epitomized Mays — the athleticism, the grace, the ingenuity. Mays went on to win 12 Gold Gloves, but he was also an elite hitter, averaging 40 home runs per season from 1954 through 1966. And he ran with the best of them, leading the majors in stolen bases for four straight years from 1956 to 1959. His unmatched collection of skills made him the greatest center fielder who ever lived.”
6. Lou Gehrig — New York Yankees
Comments: “Society remembers Gehrig for the disease that took his life and bears his name, and for the courage he displayed when facing it. From a strictly baseball standpoint, the “Iron Horse” is remembered as a constant, a player who showed up every day and produced at a level few have. His legendary consecutive-games streak of 2,130 is his most-cited statistic and is the number responsible for turning the name of poor Wally Pipp, Gehrig’s predecessor with the Yankees, into a verb. The yin to Babe Ruth’s yang, Gehrig was perhaps baseball’s best RBI man. His 1,995 ribbies rank seventh all-time despite the abrupt end to his career. ”
7. Mickey Mantle — New York Yankees
Comments: “He was the center of the baseball universe, back when New York ruled the baseball world and the Yankees ruled baseball. He combined breathtaking raw power from both sides of the plate — did he really hit a 565-foot home run? — with blazing speed, at least until his knees went bad. He won a Triple Crown in 1956 and won three MVP awards — and frankly could have won a few more (he led the AL nine times in offensive WAR). He hit 18 home runs in the World Series. Let’s see somebody break that record. Asked if he went up to the plate trying to hit home runs, Mantle said, ‘Sure, every time.’”
11. Pedro Martinez — New York Mets
Comments: “Martinez was listed, generously, at 5-11, 170 pounds, but he used a big fastball and a hellacious changeup to lead the league in strikeouts three times and in ERA five times. His two best years, 1999 and 2000, came at the height of one of the highest-scoring eras in history. Martinez won the AL Cy Young Award after both those seasons, combining for a 1.90 ERA in 430 1/3 innings. The major league average in that stretch: 4.62. In 2000, he registered a 291 ERA plus — an adjusted stat accounting for ballparks and era, with the average being 100 — that stands as the best since at least 1893.”
16. Joe DiMaggio — New York Yankees
Comments: “After Babe Ruth retired, DiMaggio became the icon of the Yankees. Since they won more often than they did even with Ruth, it meant he became an American icon in an era when baseball ruled the sports pages. He hit in 56 straight games, arguably baseball’s most famous record. He played in 10 World Series in his 13 seasons — and the Yankees won nine of them. Hemingway mentioned him (“I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing,” the old man said. “They say his father was a fisherman.”). Songs were written in his tribute. He married Marilyn Monroe. “Baseball isn’t statistics; it’s Joe DiMaggio rounding second base,” one scribe supposedly said.”
17. Roger Clemens — New York Yankees
Comments: “Rocket was on a Hall of Fame track in Boston even before signing with Toronto and winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards. He then helped lead the Yankees to four World Series appearances in five years and won another Cy Young — his record seventh — as a 41-year-old anchoring the Astros’ rotation in 2004. However, Clemens’ inclusion in the Mitchell report, which alleged steroid use in the late stages of his career, kept him from Hall of Fame election by the BBWAA.”
20. Rogers Hornsby — New York Giants
Comments: “Any conversation around the greatest hitter in baseball history needs to include Hornsby, whose combination of hitting for average and power is legendary. Hornsby boasts the third-highest career batting average, behind only Ty Cobb and Oscar Charleston. He hit over .400 three times, including .424 in 1924. Two years earlier, he combined a .401 batting average with 42 home runs, an accomplishment no player has ever matched. And it took 50 years for someone (Joe Morgan) to break his record for home runs by a second baseman.”
22. Tom Seaver — New York Mets
Comments: “The Cy Young-winning ace of the ’69 Miracle Mets, Seaver was one of the most beloved athletes in New York sports history. To this day, Mets fans of a certain age still cry in disbelief that the club traded him away. Known for his power pitching — his drop-and-drive delivery that stained his right knee with dirt was the iconic motion for a generation of pitchers — Seaver topped 230 innings pitched in 15 seasons. He would add two more Cy Young Awards after 1969, and when elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, he received 98.8% of the vote — the highest ever at the time.”
23. Rickey Henderson — New York Yankees & Mets
Comments: “He was loud, brash, defiant, cocky and electric. He was the greatest base stealer in history, the greatest leadoff hitter in history and one of the greatest trash-talkers in history. Henderson stole 50% more bases than the all-time runner-up, Lou Brock. Henderson hit 81 leadoff home runs, and nobody else has hit more than 54. After being traded to the Yankees, he was asked about wearing the same uniform Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle once donned. “I don’t care about them,” he said. “I never saw DiMaggio and Mantle play. It’s Rickey time.” It always was.”
24. Randy Johnson — New York Yankees
Comments: “The “Big Unit” was to lefties what Nolan Ryan was to righties. After a slow start to his career, the 6-foot-10 Johnson harnessed his command and was lights out for the next two decades. Of his 303 wins, 293 came after his age-25 season. Johnson won his league strikeout crown nine times, including two different stretches of four straight. During the latter stretch, he won four straight Cy Young Awards, giving him five overall.
Perhaps the best expressions of Johnson’s dominance came during a pair of All-Star Game matchups with left-handed stars. In 1993, his wild pitch over the head of John Kruk had Kruk faking heart palpitations as the dugout erupted in laughter; after that, Kruk wouldn’t go near the plate, striking out. In 1997, Larry Walker flipped his batting helmet around and switched to the right side of the plate after getting a look at a Johnson pitch. It was all in good fun, but also an indication of how fearsome Johnson looked to anyone who stepped into the batter’s box against him.”
25. Christy Mathewson — New York Giants
Comments: “The most admired star of the first two decades of 20th century baseball, Mathewson’s three shutouts in a five-day span in 1905 remains one of the most heroic feats in World Series history. He won 30 games four times, led the NL five times in ERA and strikeouts, and was one of the five original inductees into the Hall of Fame in 1936. Mathewson relied on impeccable control and a pitch he called a “fadeaway,” which some say was a screwball while others suggest might have been more like a modern-day circle change. “Matty was master of them all,” reads his Hall of Fame plaque.”