The best I could find on the internet were a few editorials arguing that Rickey Henderson should be “considered” when discussing this topic. (Example: using some asinine, ignorant-ass formula, the hacks at 'Bleacher Report' put him at #38. (<< Pathetic) ...while ESPN did him slightly less dirty w/ a #14.) We're here - for the record - to state it with conviction:
RICKEY HENDERSON IS THE GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER OF ALL TIME.
Everyone undoubtedly recognizes him as the greatest "base runner" of all time. After all, he stole THIRD base alone 324 times. Most would say, “Yeah, Rickey was fast,” leaning toward the misconception that speed was his one and only attribute. This is understandably the first place to look, as his all-time record is one of MLB's most impressive, and very-likely unbeatable:
ALL-TIME CAREER STOLEN BASES: 1,406. (33% over Lou Brock - 2nd Place)
Some other noteworthy records and accomplishments:
Holds ALL-TIME CAREER LEADOFF HOMERUN Record: 81.
3,000+ CAREER HITS More than Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Barry Bonds*, Al Kaline, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams.
With a 110.7, he tops the CAREER WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Joe Dimaggio, and Reggie Jackson. This means a team had a better chance of winning a game by keeping Rickey in it, than that of these listed players.
1,000+ CAREER RBIs.
4th in GAMES PLAYED: Led by only Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski and Pete Rose.
4th in TIMES ON BASE: Led by only Pete Rose, Barry Bonds* and Ty Cobb.
To own ANY of these records or stats is incredibly impressive. To combine them all and hand them to ONE player is unbelievable. But waaaaait...
STILL NOT CONVINCED? Let’s REALLY break some shit down:
What is every team’s goal when playing a baseball game?
What is the ONLY inarguable AND measurable factor that without a doubt wins games?
Who holds the record for the MOST RUNS of all time?
Rickey has more CAREER RUNS SCORED than Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds*, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and EVERY OTHER PLAYER in history.
The only active players in the running – none of which have enough years [barring a miracle and/or reduction in steroid suspension] left to reach it – are Alex Rodriguez* (needs 376), Derek Jeter (needs 419), and Manny Ramirez* (needs 751).
Tom Candiotti sums up a pitcher's take on facing Rickey:
"I hated Rickey. Really, I couldn't stand him. He never swung at my knuckleball, he never swung at my curveball. He never swung until he got two strikes. He had the strike zone the size of a coffee can. If you threw him a fastball, he would hit it for a home run. If you walked him, it was a triple. It was ridiculous. It was like, 'Good gosh, what are we going to do with this guy?'"
Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski:
"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, Ryne Sandberg and more than 50 other Hall of Famers walked in their entire careers...I simply cannot imagine a baseball statistic more staggering."
American baseball writer, historian, and statistician Bill James:
"Some people have asked me whether or not Rickey Henderson belonged in the Hall of Fame." I've replied, "if you could somehow split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers."
ESPN's Jim Caple putting Rickey's perceived ego issue aside:
"Rickey once missed a game because of frostbite in August, finished the home run trot that gave him the career record for runs by sliding into home and didn't cash a $1,000,000 paycheck so he could frame it instead.
If you did all that and scored more runs and stole more bases than anyone else, you would refer to yourself in the third person, too."
The Greatest - Broken Down in Graph Format:
So there you go.
MLB’s most notorious threat on the basepath, Gold Glove Winner (can't forget his defensive skills...), Silver Slugger, MVP and 10X All-Star. A true 5-Tool player. On top of having more SB's than everyone, more leadoff HR's than everyone and more unintentional walks than everyone, he played more games than Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson and Cal Ripken, had more hits than Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, and most importantly, had more runs than everyone, including Ty Cobb, Pete Rose and Hank Aaron.
Rickey Henderson is the greatest baseball player of all time.
A legend. The GOAT.
You may notice a few asterisks* spread around this piece - none of which tarnishing Rickey’s records. Rickey never touched steroids. People who are full of shit like to act like he partook because he “fits the profile” but it’s obvious that he stayed natural, and drug-free. Rickey played for the A’s when Jose Canseco started to flood the majors with the sauce. He was too proud to touch the stuff - he'd rather prove his legitimate abilities.
Not that elaboration is necessary, but Canseco threw everyone he knew under the bus. Friends and foes. He had no shame. The bigger the name, the bigger the book deal. Jose made a point to say Rickey DID NOT use. In fact, he credited his natural ability – calling him a “genetic freak.”
Words by MNDN.