Top 10 First Baseman of All Time (2015 List)

This is the second installment of our All Time Teams by position lists.  This list proved quite a bit more tricky than our chapter on catchers as there have been several great players throughout history to man first.  We also stuck to our two main rules for putting these lists together.  First, we don't use  players before 1920 unless a special exception for greatness.  The only player that seemed possible pre-1920 was Cap Anson.  Due to the great number of first basemen in history, he wasn't a big enough exception.  The other rule states that a player must have played 75% or more of his games at the position.  So you won't see players like Frank Thomas, Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, or Jim Thome as they played other positions or DH that pushed them below the 75% threshold.  We will be doing a team of guys that didn't qualify because of the 75% rule.  Here's the list.





1.   Lou Gehrig
2.   Albert Pujols
3.   Jimmie Foxx
4.   Hank Greenberg
5.   Johnny Mize
6.   Jeff Bagwell
7.   Eddie Murray
8.   Willie McCovey
9.   Steve Garvey
10. Orlando Cepeda


The three of us independently pick our lists and then compare, contrast, and debate until we get it down to 10.  All three of us had the same top 8 names just in different order.  Gehrig was consensus number one with 2 MVPs, and additional six times in the top 5 MVP, a Triple Crown, a .340 lifetime average with 493 homers and 1995 RBI.  The second spot was a flip flop for us between Pujols and Foxx.  Both have 3 MVPs to their credit and also mesmerizing numbers.  Pujols already has a line including 520 homers, 1603 RBI and a lifetime average of .317, and he just turned 35.  With a few healthy years, he could get into some really rarified air.  Foxx was widely considered the best right handed hitter of his day and amassed 534 homers, 1922 RBI, and an average of .325.  Like Gehrig, he also won a Triple Crown.  Greenberg and Mize don't quite have the impressive numbers of the first three, but there's a big reason for that.  Both war heroes, Greenberg and Mize missed between 3 to 4 seasons due to World War II.  Both were around 30 when they left for war, and their seasons from age 30-33 would have been highly productive ones.  Greenberg still won 2 MVP awards and Mize was top 5 in MVP voting 4 times.  Bagwell edged out Murray and McCovey in our minds due to higher batting average and on base while playing in far fewer games.  He was a staple of the Killer B's and among the most feared hitters of his day.  Eddie Murray is one of 4 players to have 3,000 hits and 500 homers (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Rafael Palmeiro).  Murray was 8 times in the top 10 MVP voting as well.  McCovey blasted 521 homers and drove in 1555 in his stellar career.  The last two players were debated with Garvey and Cepeda taking the spots.  Both won MVPs, racked up 2300+ hits and ended with averages over .290.  Others considered for the last two spots were Todd Helton, Keith Hernandez, Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Don Mattingly.  Palmeiro and McGwire were quickly dismissed due to the obvious PED overtones that plagued their careers.  Hernandez and Mattingly both won MVPs at first and they took home 11 and 9 Gold Gloves respectively.  No one could argue they'd be at the top if defense alone was the standard.  Helton was another great choice, but playing in Coors took some wind out of his sails numbers-wise.  He was a hits machine, sporting the most doubles of anyone on our list, and had he stayed healthy, he might have made 3000 hits.  Let us know how your list would differ and who you would have added.       

10 comments:

  1. Perhaps Bill Terry and George Sisler merited some consideration? And throw in Gil Hodges for good measure.

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  2. I don't think Hodges cracks this list, but you make a good point with Terry and Sisler.

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  3. I looked at all of three of those players and I assume Mc and Hearst did as well... The one who deaseved the most consideration in my mind was Sisler but the problem with him is he amassed a big chunk of his numbers pre-1920 and we have a post 1920 rule in place, only making exceptions to that rule in cases where the true player was truly great... we call it the Christy Mathewson rule. Terry is interesting because his numbers sort of hold up... +136 OPS and a +.400 season but the lack of hardware, black-ink (league leading stats) and all-star appearances hurt his campaign. He might have been a perennial MVP in another era but he never finished higher than 4th (in 1930 when he had his .400 season, they didn't have a vote but I am not so sure he would have won... Hack Wilson set an NL record with 56 HR and drove in 190). Thanks for commenting... Terry may have deserved a mention (Sisler as well) but I assure you they were considered.

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  4. I like this list. Especially the inclusion of Cepeda. Overlooked, but I think ranked appropriately here. Very nice list. If it wasn't for the post 1920 rule we could have included Cap Anson who would have objected to playing with Cepeda, McCovey, Murray or Pujols.

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  5. I like this list. Especially the inclusion of Cepeda. Overlooked, but I think ranked appropriately here. Very nice list. If it wasn't for the post 1920 rule we could have included Cap Anson who would have objected to playing with Cepeda, McCovey, Murray or Pujols.

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  6. Actually like this list. Most of these lists come across as pretty biased toward somethin-or-other, but I'm very impressed the the Cepeda pick. He gets looked over alot and he even played half of his career in the pitcher's era and did fairly well. Perhaps if it wasn't for his sharing the field with Mays, McCovey and Marichal in his early phenom years, he'd be looked at more favorably today.

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  7. Actually like this list. Most of these lists come across as pretty biased toward somethin-or-other, but I'm very impressed the the Cepeda pick. He gets looked over alot and he even played half of his career in the pitcher's era and did fairly well. Perhaps if it wasn't for his sharing the field with Mays, McCovey and Marichal in his early phenom years, he'd be looked at more favorably today.

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  8. I agree with you Matt, Cepeda always seems to get overlooked, but he was one hell of a player and hitter. ROY and MVP, played in 3 WS and played in an era dominated by great pitching and had a .297 career batting average.

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  9. Garvey and Cepeda don't belong. McGwire (despite everything) and Terry or Sisler are better choices. The other selections are good.

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  10. I also think you should have given Paul Konerko, formerly of the Chicago White Sox consideration. There are always going to be snubs but 400+ home runs is plenty enough for consideration. Think about that. An average of ten seasons of 40+ home runs.

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