On Tuesday, ESPN released their top 100 MLB players of all time. Somehow, St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols placed 30th behind Derek Jeter.
This was the question given to dozens of ESPN writers and editors to determine the list of the best 100 baseball players of all time:
"“Based on a combination of career value and peak performance, which player would you rank higher?”"
Note that the network did not go into detail as to who answered the question. For all we know, this list could have been compiled by someone at ESPN who doesn’t follow statistics and/or sabermetrics. In addition, the question stated above was used in a balloting system where a writer or editor would have to choose Player A vs. Player B.
"Would you choose Barry Bonds or Ted Williams? Mike Trout or Joe DiMaggio? Walter Johnson or Roger Clemens?"
After each writer and editor voted more than 20,000(!!!) times, the top 100 was released. A look at the top 25 is actually pretty good, even if the ranking are debatable, such as Pedro Martinez over Randy Johnson and Christy Mathewson.
This was rightfully ripped to shreds by St. Louis Cardinals fans.
Derek Jeter should be in the top 100, but his statistics do not match up to Albert Pujols. While Jeter has more career hits and All-Star game appearances, Pujols bests Jeter in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. Pujols was also a three-time NL MVP with the Cardinals and a six-time Silver Slugger at first base. Jeter, on the other hand, have five Silver Sluggers and zero MVPs.
If we took Jeter out of the equation and moved him lower on the list, Pujols would still be too low compared to others. For example, Pujols’ bWAR eclipses that of Pedro Martinez (83.9), Joe DiMaggio (79.2), Ken Griffey Jr. (83.8). Now in fairness to DiMaggio, he took three years off of baseball to serve in the armed forces during the Second World War, so we as baseball fans may never know what his full value could have been if he played from 1943-45.
Still, that should not preclude Pujols from being ranked higher in the Top 100 list.
It is fair to question whether or not Albert Pujols is a top 10 or top 15 MLB player of all time, but his stats prove that he should be higher than #30. There is no support to the argument that Derek Jeter should be ranked higher than Pujols. Even Deadspin, who is no friend of the St. Louis Cardinals, agrees with this.
Be better, ESPN.