Here is a list of the top five left fielders of all-time to help get you into the baseball spirit.
5) Pete Rose
Career WAR: 76.7
Pete Rose, a 17-time All-Star, was one of the most ferocious players to ever play the game earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle” for his grit and determination. Few plays capture his intensity like the 1970 All-Star game when Rose smashed into Cleveland Indians Ray Fosse on a play at the plate, which left Fosse with a separated shoulder. Many criticized Rose for playing too hard for an exhibition game, but Rose knew no other speed.
Rose is baseball’s all-time hit king, smacking 4,256 hits in a 24-year career with the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1963, won an MVP award in 1973 after winning a batting title and leading the league in hits, and won two Gold Glove awards. Rose holds the record for most seasons with 200 hits, consecutive seasons with at least 100 hits, total doubles by a switch hitter, and total singles for a career. He finished his career as a .303 hitter.
Even though Rose is the career leader in hits he will never be selected for the Hall of Fame. As manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Rose was found to be betting on baseball games and was banned from the games as a result. In his autobiography in 2004 Rose finally confessed to having bet on baseball and has been seeking readmission into the game ever since.
4) Carl Yastrzemski
Career WAR: 90.1
“I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don’t think about baseball is when I’m playing it.” – Carl Yastrzemski
A three-time batting champion and 1967 Triple Crown winner, Yastrzemski is one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. A career .285 hitter and seven-time Gold Glove award winner, Yastrzemski was the face of the Boston Red Sox franchise until he retired in 1983. He is one of only eight men in baseball history to have hit at least 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.
From 1962 to 1971, “Yaz” batted .296/.396/.497 averaging 25 home runs a season while winning six Gold Gloves and an MVP award. His MVP award came in ’67 when he won the Triple Crown, batting .326/.418/.622 with 44 home runs, 121 RBI, and 112 runs scored. Yaz was the last player Major League player to win the Triple Crown until Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012.
Yaz was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
3) Rickey Henderson
Career WAR: 106.8
Rickey Henderson is the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, and according to Billy Bean, there is no close second.
Baseball writer Joe Posnanski described Henderson like this: “I’m about to give you one of my all-time favorite statistics: Rickey Henderson walked 796 times in his career LEADING OFF AN INNING. Think about this again. There would be nothing, absolutely nothing, a pitcher would want to avoid more than walking Rickey Henderson to lead off an inning. And yet he walked SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY-SIX times to lead off an inning.
“He walked more times just leading off in an inning than Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Kirby Puckett, Ryan Sandberg and more than 50 other Hall of Famers walked in their entire careers…I simply cannot imagine a baseball statistic more staggering.”
Henderson is the all-time leader in stolen bases, runs scored, and unintentional walks, a 12-time stolen base champion, 10-time All-Star, six-time stolen base champion, five-time major league leader in runs, three-time Silver Slugger award winner, two-time World Series champion, and the 1990 AL MVP.
In 2009 Henderson was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 94.8% of the vote, the 13th highest percentage of any player in baseball history.
2) Barry Bonds
Career WAR: 158.1
When Barry Bonds was on top of his game he was one of the most unbeatable forces in baseball history. A seven-time MVP award winner, eight-time Gold Glove award winner, and 12-time Silver Slugger award winner, Barry Bonds is unquestionably one of the greatest players to play the game.
Over the course of a 22-year career, Bonds became the all-time home run leader with 762 blasts and the single-season home run king by belting 73 home runs in 2001. Those numbers will always be in doubt too many because of the steroid allegations that surrounded him at the end of his career.
From 2001 to 2004, Bonds was one of the most dominant players the game had ever seen. He had a slash line of .349/.559/.809 with a 256 OPS+ while averaging 52 home runs, 110 RBI, and 122 runs. His on-base percentages in all four of those seasons rank in the top 11 all-time for an individual season with his 2004 .609 OBP and 2002 .582 OBP being the top two on-base seasons in baseball history. He accumulated 42.5 WAR over that time, according to Baseball-Reference.
There are no question Bonds ranks as the best player of the steroid era, but he will have to wait a while before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many voters have ill will towards Bonds because of the way he treated the media and because of the steroid allegations. Most agree, however, Bonds will eventually have a plaque in Cooperstown.
1) Ted Williams
Career WAR: 119.8
They called him “The Kid,” The Splendid Splinter,” “Teddy Ballgame,” “The Thumper.” But most just refer to Ted Williams as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.”
Williams missed three seasons from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II and two more seasons to a major injury, but he didn’t let that stop him from topping many of baseball’s famed milestones, accumulating 521 home runs, 1,798 runs scored, 1,839 RBIs, 2,654 hits, and 525 doubles. Williams, a six-time batting champion, is the last player to bat over .400 for a season.
In the six seasons he played between 1941, the year he hit over .400, and 1949, the year he collected his second MVP award, Williams batted .359/.505/.657. That’s right, from 1941 to 1949 ever other time Williams came to the plate he ended up getting on base. He compiled a 208 OPS+ over that span while averaging 35 home runs, 130 RBI, 136 runs, 38 doubles, 150 walks, and 43 strikeouts. He also won two Triple Crowns over those six seasons but failed to win the MVP in either season, losing out to Joe DiMaggio in both seasons.
Williams batted .344/.482/.634 for his career, which ranks as the seventh highest batting average, highest on-base percentage, and second highest slugging percentage of all-time.
“All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say, ‘There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived,” Williams said. He got his wish.
Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.
The Five Greatest Left Fielders in Baseball History
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