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Greatest First Basemen of All Time

The Ten Greatest Major League First Basemen of All-Time

By Loot, MLB Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

There have been many great bats and gold gloves to grace 1st base. The position exudes power which makes the players who patrol it a tough racket to sort out. Here is the top 10 list "as I see it." Feel free to comment below.

1. Lou Gehrig: With Gehrig, there’s a lot more there than being a complimentary piece to Babe Ruth and a heartbreaking retirement brought on by the disease that bears his name. There is also a career that is the envy of all first basemen before and since. In 17 seasons, he had almost 2000 RBI and set the record for most consecutive games played, until broken by Cal Ripken over 60 years later. The two-time MVP and Yankees captain hit 493 homers and batted a remarkable .340 lifetime. One of the greatest offensive producers of all-time.

2. Jimmie Foxx: One of the greatest power hitters in history, Foxx has offensive stats that were only surpassed by Babe Ruth. He put up prodigious power stats, while winning two batting titles and batting a robust .325 lifetime. He led the league in homers 4 times and belted 534 of them in his 20-year career. The 3-time MVP had over 150 RBI in a season 4 times and hit .340 or above 6 times. In 1934 for Philadelphia, he hit .364 with 58 homers and 169 RBI, while scoring 151 runs. Most years of his prime looked like that. An immense offensive presence.

3. Hank Greenberg: Despite rampant anti-semitism with pitchers trying to deny Greenberg his rightful claims of greatness, Greenberg still put up mind-numbing stats with the Detroit Tigers. His prime was interrupted by the war, but in his prime, he was one of more massive offensive forces in the history of the sport. The two-time MVP should have won the award 5 times. He had several years where he was pushing the 200-mark in RBI, while leading the league 4 times in homers and hitting well above .300 year after year. An overlooked gem in baseball history.

4. Albert Pujols: A baseball-playing legacy usually needs some time to percolate, but even if Pujols were to just rely on his first decade-plus, his excellence stands far above other first basemen of his time. Pujols is one of the best pure hitters of his time, in addition to being one of the premier run producers with his impressive power stats. As of this writing, his .325 lifetime average places him in rarified air among modern hitters. As of now, he has had 100 RBI in every season he played, except for one season when he had 99. At one point or another, he has led the league in batting, homers, RBI, doubles, on-base and slugging percentage, in addition to runs scored 5 times. One of the greatest Cardinals of all-time and perhaps the best hitter of past 20 years.

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5. Eddie Murray: He always had sort of a boring vibe to him and besides the 1979 and 1983 postseasons, not many were able to see him play on a regular basis. But fans from this period will remember that Murray’s name was regularly near the top when looking at league leaders in batting average, homers, and RBI. A model of consistency, Murray dominated for a decade in Baltimore before making an underrated run bouncing around from the Dodgers, Mets, Indians, and others. At the end of the day, he compiled 3255 hits and 504 home runs, including 3 Gold Glove awards.

6. Willie McCovey: Another quiet sort, McCovey was a consistent force for the Giants, despite playing for San Fran during some lean years. A 4-decade player, McCovey was one of the National League’s best power hitters. The 1969 MVP and 3-time home run champion belted 521 home runs lifetime. For a guy who only had 400 or more at-bats in 8 seasons, his stats are remarkable.

7. Jim Thome: As other names from his time period fall from grace due to the now-exposed Juice Era, Thome’s legacy continues to pick up steam as perhaps the greatest power hitter of his era. And he did it the right way--with old-school crunching power that comes from talent and hard work and not from a laboratory. Every year for an extended period of time, Thome would routinely belt 40 homers with over 100 RBI. He hit 30 or more homers in 9 straight seasons and more than anyone else on this list with 612 career bombs.

8. Keith Hernandez: Maybe the best fielder on this list, Hernandez was also one of the premier hitters in the National League in his prime. He did it with an air of class and style. Hernandez won the Gold Glove 11 times and in considered by many to be the greatest fielding first baseman in the sport’s history. He was also a great hitter, winning a batting crown in 1979, along with the NL MVP award.

9. Don Mattingly: His prime may not have been that long and his legacy would be more immense if he didn’t have the misfortune of playing on the Yankees during one of their rare stretches of mediocrity. Nevertheless, Mattingly established himself as perhaps baseball’s best offensive player when he was at his peak. In 1985, he had 145 RBI. In 1986, he had 238 base hits. Throw in 9 Gold Glove awards and it’s easy to forgive him for a relatively brief prime. At his best, he was one of the greatest ever at the position.

10. John Olerud: Admittedly, this is a bit of an out-of-left-field choice for top ten honors. A name that seems destined to be overlooked as time goes on, Olerud was one of purest hitters in the game for an extended period and a standout fielder. Statistically, he had the tendency to be erratic, but when he was hot--he was one of the best hitters in the American League. You wouldn’t be sure if he would hit .280 or .360 from season to season. As he matured, he became one of the best fielders at the position.

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