Baseball’s Best 1,000: Rankings of the Greatest Players of All Time (4th Revised Edition) by Derek Gentile (2017)
I love lists. Lists of great records, great books, great baseball players. Everyone has a top ten list. A few have a top 25 list. Some even have a top 100 list. Derek Gentile puts everyone else to shame with his list: Baseball’s Best 1,000: Rankings of the Greatest Players of All Time. This massive volume takes fanaticism to the extreme, not only figuring out who was the best, or who belonged in the top ten, but how the legends of the Negro Leagues like Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston should be rated, and where the likes of Jeff King, Lee Mazzilli, and Steve Kemp should be ranked in baseball’s long history.
Gentile’s list was initially published in 2004. He started with a list of about 20,000 players, then worked it down to 1,000. He instituted a ten-year rule, which left some players on the outside in 2004. A few of those who I believe should be considered among the top 1,000 of all-time have fallen through the cracks in the meantime. Current stars Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, and Justin Verlander are missing; the recently retired Prince Fielder, Roy Halladay, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana, and Alfonso Soriano are also absent. In addition, there are a handful of active or very recent players who are ranked a bit lower than I think they should be, such as Miguel Cabrera (#407), Ichiro Suzuki (#445), Jeff Kent (#534), Albert Pujols (#544), Joe Mauer (#930!!!). Perhaps they are in about the same place they were in the last edition, and Gentile simply did not update their rankings yet, or maybe this is how Gentile views them. This is, after all, his list. A few new names may appear in the next edition, as several players are approaching the 10-year mark in the majors, such as Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, and Joey Votto.
In any case, Baseball’s Best 1,000 is a fantastic resource that may remind you of a few guys you have forgotten over the years, like Pedro Guerrero (#321), Don Slaught (#561), and Danny Tartabull (#721). Gentile also runs through a brief who’s who of the best managers, “pre-historic” players, female greats, Japanese stars, and even those who retired with a 1.000 batting average, having only batted once in the big leagues.
At 5.5 x 6.2 inches, the paperback book is small enough to carry with you to the ballpark so you can compare notes with your buddies while watching your favorite team play. You can argue about the rankings of some of the more unsavory characters in the game, or bemoan the fact that Bill Dahlen (#104) and Minnie Minoso (#105) are still not in the Hall of Fame, agreeing with Gentile’s accurate appraisal of their careers.
So who is the best of all-time, according to Derek Gentile? Is it “ The Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays? Or “The Sultan of Swat” Babe Ruth? How does “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron rate? Where is “The Big Train” Walter Johnson? You’ll have to get the book for yourself to find out. Baseball’s Best 1,000 is scheduled for an April 4 release.
Posted on March 30, 2017, in baseball, books, reviews and tagged Baseball’s Best 1000: Rankings of the Greatest Players of All Time (4th Revised Edition), Black Dog & Leventhal, Derek Gentile. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.