Determining the best baseball players of all time is extremely difficult because everyone is asked to perform a different role for their team. It is much easier to judge the players based on how well they performed their assigned roles. If they were able to succeed more than everyone else at their position, then they must be considered an all-time great. These are the four most successful baseball players in MLB history.
While he may have been slightly aided by performance-enhancing drugs, there is no-hitter in MLB history that was more successful than Barry Bonds. No player has more home runs or walks in their career than Bonds. His seven MVP awards are the most in MLB history. In addition to the great power, Bonds was also a great fielder with eight Gold Glove awards in his career.
The only hitter that can come close to matching the stats put up by Barry Bonds is Hank Aaron. He holds MLB records with the most extra-base hits, runs batted in, and total bases. Aaron is also in the top five on the all-time home runs, hits, at-bats and runs lists. While he may never have been the flashiest player on the field, nobody outperformed Hank Aaron. He was consistently great throughout his 23-year career.
When it comes to starting pitching, no one can match the success of Nolan Ryan. His 5,714 career strikeouts are nearly 900 more than his closest competition. Ryan’s seven career no-hitters are also an MLB record. Sandy Koufax is the only other pitcher with more than three no-hitters. While Ryan’s 314 wins only put him in 14th place, this is still an extremely impressive feat considering he mostly played on losing teams.
The closer’s job in baseball is to finish out close games for their team, and nobody was more successful at this role than Mariano Rivera. He is currently the all-time leader in saves and games finished. His 0.70 ERA in the postseason will also probably never be topped. All of this helped Mariano Rivera become the first player in baseball history to get elected into the Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the vote.