If you didn’t say Willie Mays, you have a problem.
Far and away the greatest, the Say Hey Kid scores 376.79, an astounding 88.25 points greater than Ken Griffey (#2, 288.54). Despite his fall from grace in Cincinnati, The Kid’s time in Seattle carried him through his subpar (for him) years in a Reds uniform. Coming in hot on The Kid’s heels is Detroit legend and all-around nice guy Ty Cobb (#3, 287.74). When awards and All-Star appearances are removed from the equation, Mays still comes out on top, but Cobb and Griffey flip-flop in rankings.
Perhaps it was overexposure from Topps over the past decade or so, but I have always felt Mickey Mantle was overrated. After his numbers are entered into the spreadsheet, though, he does rank #4 among center fielders (286.61), very close to Cobb’s score. I do wish I could have seen Mantle play in person. The few videos I have watched are impressive.
Following Mantle is his Yankee predecessor, Joe DiMaggio (#5, 269.14) and early twentieth century Red Sox/Indians star Tris Speaker. A contract dispute led to Speaker’s departure from Boston, and continued even after joining the Indians. He was forced to enlist the help of AL President Ban Johnson to collect money he believed was owed to him. Times haven’t changed all the much, have they?
Rounding out the top ten are Andruw Jones (#7, 227.79), Carlos Beltran (#8, 213.26), Duke Snider (#9, 211.38), and Dale Murphy (#10, 209.29). Hack Wilson, the National League’s own Babe Ruth, is way down on the list (#32, 155.98). In 1930, he set the National League record with 56 home runs, a record that stood for almost seven decades. That same season he drove in 191 runs; even in the steroid-fueled era, that record has never been seriously challenged. Wilson’s career was a short twelve seasons, though, purportedly cut short by excessive drinking and subsequent fighting.