Best MLB Players To Wear 41-50
As I come to a conclusion in this series, I just want to thank everyone that has followed the series and gave attention to the blogs and to the RTF Sports Network. I truly appreciate all the debate that this has sparked and the conversations that I have had, due to my choices at each number. Whether you love or hate the choices, the love of this game is something that I can see lives in a lot of people.
While I am sure that this last installment is going to spark as much ire as the first one did, this is a prime example of how sports can pick us up, no matter what is going on in the world. Sports is the single greatest tool we have to unite us all, regardless of religion, political beliefs, race, or age. If you’re a fan of any team, you’re a family as soon as you enter any platform with those same fans, and everything else goes out the window for that time. I love my haters as much as I love my supporters because when all is said and done, we all have the same passion for our opinions and our teams and our players.
With all that being said here is numbers 41-50, and remember you might disagree, but I assure you I am right.
41 Tom Seaver
With honorable mention going to Eddie Matthews here, Tom Seaver is without a doubt the best player in MLB to ever wear 41. When a guy pitches in the Major leagues for 20 years and posts a career ERA of 2.86 it is clear that he was one of the greatest to ever do it. When looking back at the stats, it is beyond me how he didn’t win 5 straight Cy Young’s from 1969-1973. I guess that’s a different debate for a different article.
42 Mariano Rivera
I can already hear people’s heads exploding, but hear me out. I know exactly what the #42 symbolizes and represents, and I have often said that if I could bring one athlete from any era in for a conversation it would be Jackie Robinson. But this article isn’t about being the most courageous human being to ever live, and it isn’t about being the only person that really could have started what he did in 1947.
This article is about the greatest MLB player to wear that number and, I am sorry but that is Mariano Rivera. With 19 MLB seasons, the first two of which he wasn’t even a closer, in the other 17 there were only 2 seasons where he saved less than 30 games and only one of those times was he healthy. Mariano Rivera threw the best cutter anyone has ever seen, and saved more games than any closer in the history of the game.
43 Dennis Eckersley
One of only two pitchers in history (John Smoltz) to have a 20 win season and a 50 save season, and with a Cy young under his belt as a closer, Dennis Eckersley is the vote here. Nobody else that has worn the number even really comes close to what he did in his career.
44 Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron, what more do you need to say? 755 HR .305 career average, 3,771 hits, 2,297 RBI, .555 career SLG. There’s no debate here. Guys like Willie McCovey and Reggie Jackson had great careers and deserve mention, but they were no Hank Aaron.
45 Pedro Martinez
This was a tough one, and really either way I went was probably the right decision. When I looked at the numbers Pedro had less years with an ERA above .300 and he did something Gibson never did and won the pitchers triple crown. Pedro won 5 ERA title’s to Gibson’s 1, and won one more Cy young. They pitched a similar style, but Pedro’s numbers and accolades get him the nod over Gibson here.
46 Lee Smith
With a tip of the cap to Andy Pettitte, Lee Smith is the is the selection at 46. 478 saves and a 3.03 ERA in 18 years, it is amazing that the HOF voters took so long to get this guy in.
47 Tom Glavine
305 Wins and 2,607 strikeouts in 22 seasons where only 4r resulted in less than 10 wins. Tom Glavine certainly put up some impressive numbers for a guy whose name is, often, the last one brought up when talking about that vaunted Atlanta Braves rotation of the 90’s.
48 Torii Hunter
With really no competition here, Torii put up some solid offensive numbers in his 19 years. Though Hunter was mostly known for his tremendous defense, and gift for taking away home runs. I myself, will never forget the 2002 All-Star game when he robbed Bonds, and then was jokingly bear-hugged by the all-time great slugger.
49 Ron Guidry
While Charlie Hough and Tim Wakefield deserve mention, the knuckleballers just didn’t have the resume of Guidry. He put together one of the best seasons of all time in 1978 going 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA won the Cy young and was runner up in the MVP as well. It wasn’t until the tail end of his career, that he didn’t eclipse double digit wins.
50 Sid Fernandez
This wasn’t a very hard decision as not many people have worn the number 50 in MLB history. In 1986 Sid Fernandez was a part of the World Champion New York Mets where he went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA