Do you agree with this list or was your favorite pitcher snubbed? Whether you want to heap praise or sound off, make your opinion known. Visit FOX Sports Ohio for more Best of All-Time lists and discussion.
First and foremost
First base is usually the last stop for power hitters — converted outfielders and infielders who can no longer run or throw. If you have pop, you stay in the lineup, usually at first base, if not designated hitter. But most of our Top 10 all-time first baseman were born to the position and made their way to the Hall of Fame.
— Hal McCoy
10. Johnny Mize
The St. Louis Cardinals never forgave Branch Rickey for trading The Big Cat to the New York Giants. He won the home run title four times and hit 51 in 1947 with 138 RBI to lead the league in both categories. He won the RBI title three times and finished second in MVP voting twice.
9. Eddie Murray
He is in elite company with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as an all-around hitter. They are the only three with more than 3,000 hits and more than 500 home runs. Murray was adept at the bag, too, with three Gold Gloves and may be the best switch-hitter of all-time.
8. Tony Perez
The heart and soul of The Big Red Machine and one of his managers, Dave Bristol, once said, “If there is a way to win a baseball game, Tony Perez will find it.” He was Mr. Clutch, driving in 1,652 runs and after he was traded after the 1976 season, GM Bob Howsam said, “It was the worst mistake I ever made. I didn’t realize how important he was to our team.” The BRM was never the same.
7. Willie McCovey
‘Big Stretch’ put fear in a pitcher’s eyes by his mere presence in the batter’s box, a mammoth man with a big swing. He was a dead pull hitter and team’s employed the Ted Williams shift on him, but they couldn’t put a defender in the bleachers and McCovey is the only player to twice hit two homers in one inning. He finished with 521 homers and 1,555 RBI and led the league in homers three times.
6. Harmon Killebrew
Despite his nickname of "Killer," he was only a bad man to opposing pitchers. By age 31 he had 380 homers and was ahead of Babe Ruth’s career pace. A bad back slowed him, but not enough to stop him from hitting 40 or more in eight straight years and leading the league six times. He finished with 573 homers and 1,584 RBI, earning him All-Star berths 11 times.
5. Hank Greenberg
Greenberg, arguably the best Jewish major leaguer in history, lost four years of his prime to duty in World War II after hitting 58 home runs in 1938, two shy of Babe Ruth’s then record of 60. In 13 seasons he hit .313 with 331 home runs and won two MVPs with the Detroit Tigers.
4. George Sisler
Was the rare non-power first baseman, but hit .420 in 1922 when he was MVP with the St. Louis Browns, the highest average in the modern era. He only hit 102 homers in his 15-year career, but had 163 triples and 425 doubles to go with 375 stolen bases. Like Babe Ruth, he came to the majors as a pitcher but his bat was more potent than his arm and he was converted into a sweet-fielding first baseman.
3. Jimmie Foxx
Ol’ Double X was never ex-ed out of playing important roles for the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox from 1929-41 when he drove in 100 or more runs 13 straight times. He won the Triple Crown in 1933 by hitting .356 with 48 homers and driving in 163 runs. He was AL MVP three times.
2. Albert Pujols
The best player I’ve seen in my 40 years of covering baseball. Before age 30 he won three MVPs with the Cardinals, with more likely to come. In his 11 years in the NL he was never out of the top 10 in MVP voting. Through June 5, 2013, he has 1,469 RBI with a .322 career batting average. He is one of the few likely players in baseball to get a good pitch to hit with the game on the line.
1. Lou Gehrig
Who else but The Iron Horse, who took over at first base for the New York Yankees when then first baseman Wally Pipp took a day off and Gehrig then played in 2,130 straight games. Gehrig averaged 148 RBI each season for his career — and how did the man do that batting behind Babe Ruth? He scored 100 and drove in 100 13 times. And he hit 23 grand slams while averaging .340 for his career.