Top 10 Hall of Fame Classes Ever … Ranked!

Let’s … GO! David “Big Papi” Ortiz is finally in the Hall of Fame. Two things made me happy about this year’s induction, one being David Ortiz entry and the other being, well, I won’t say it out loud, but let’s just say these certain players won’t be able to inject themselves in anytime soon.

Keeping with the Hall of Fame topic, I’d like to show my top-ten greatest classes of all-time. I don’t take the analytical approach, as others might, because someone can show certain stats to justify their picks. My picks are based on the eras the players/managers played/managed in, what they meant for the game on the field– not off, relevant statistics– not W.A.R., and of course accolades and World Series titles have to be taken into consideration here.

10. Class of 1983 (Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, George Kell, Walt Alston)

Marichal and Robinson were the headliners in this class, but George Kell was no slouch either. Marichal was near the the top of the first Dominican Republic players to play in Major League Baseball and those that followed, stood on the shoulders of this giant.

There was no better defensive third baseman than Brooks Robinson. No one has ever seen a third baseman like him before his debut in 1955. In an era of legendary outfielders, he was the definition of playing the hot corner.

Walt Alston brought a club, that used to be called “Dem Bums” out of that bad light. From 1954 to 1976, he was in the upper echelon of managers. 2,040 wins and four World Series titles later, he and Tommy Lasorda are remembered as the greatest Dodgers managers of all-time.

9. Class of 1962 (Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Edd Rousch, Bill McKechnie)

Headlined by the most important player in baseball history, Jackie Robinson was about as first ballot as first ballot can get. He changed the game as we know it now. While he wasn’t a stat-getter, he affected the game in ways that don’t show up in the box score. He revolutionized base running and could play anywhere on the field.

Bob Feller was Sandy Koufax before Sandy Koufax. He wound up with 266 wins in his 20-year career. Had he not served in WWII, he potentially could’ve had an additional 100 wins to his resume.

8. Class of 1939 (Lou Gehrig, Old Hoss Radbourn, Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, George Sisler, Eddie Collins, Wee Willie Keeler)

Lou Gehrig was a shoe-in in the hall as soon as he retired. The Iron Horse’s lifetime 1.080 OPS ranks third behind teammate Babe Ruth and Boston legend Ted Williams.

Cap Anson was, technically, the first Major League Baseball star in the 1800s.

Eddie Collins was, statistically, one of the greatest second basemen of all-time. He carried many of the teams he was on. Also, many forget he was on that Black Sox scandal team, even though he didn’t partake in the throwing of games.

My man, Wee Willie Keeler isn’t known by many. But Keeler was the king of slap hits and bunts. He would slap the ball down in his swing when pitched to, to give it great bounce on the field so he would have time to use his wheels to get to first base safely. Some said, he was the greatest bunter in baseball history. He could place any ball thrown anywhere in the infield with the flick of his wrists.

7. Class of 1982 (Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Travis Jackson)

Hank Aaron is on most everyone’s top-five lists. Some even look at him as still being the home run king over Barry Bonds. The man played a lot of baseball. 23 years in fact. In those 23 years, 3,298 games and 12,364 at-bats, he managed to hit a lifetime .305 average, 3,371 hits, and set all-time records in both RBIs with 2,297 and total bases with 6,856.

Frank Robinson was the only player to win an MVP in both the AL and NL and was the first ever black manager in baseball’s history. Beyond that, he had 586 dingers, two World Series championships, and made the all-star team 14 times.

6. Class of 1973 (Warren Spahn, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Welch, High Pockets Kelly, Monte Irvin)

Roberto Clemente is the big name here. Aside from his big heart for Puerto Rico, he is arguably the best right fielder that has every played. Before his untimely death in ’72, he amassed 3,000 hits and had a lifetime .317 batting average.

When everyone talks about the top pitchers in history, Warren Spahn isn’t mentioned much, which boggles me. Looking at the stats just how they are, and not manipulated by analytics, Spahn is easily a top-five left-hander. In his 23 years he garnered an ERA of 3.09, 363 wins and 2,563 strikeouts. Accolades aside, he was a workhorse pitcher who was able to achieve those 363 wins, even though he enlisted in WWII for four years. Even pitchers like Bob Feller, who served, and Hal Newhouser, who didn’t, couldn’t reach 300.

Also, I wanted to say something about Mickey Welch. How the hell did he get over 300 wins in the era he played in? I tip my cap to that dude.

5. Class of 2015 (Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio)

2015 marked the last time we have seen three dominant starting pitchers make the Hall of Fame. Both Martinez and Johnson started their careers with the Montreal Expos and ended on opposite ends of the country.

John Smoltz made up the big three in Atlanta with Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. In the twilight of his career he became a colossal closer, totaling 144 saves from 2002 through 2004.

Between all three pitcher inductees: Martinez, Johnson, and Smoltz, they’ve amassed 735 wins, 11,113 strikeouts, nine Cy Young awards, four Triple Crowns, and three World Series titles.

4. Class of 1937 (Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoe, John McGraw, Connie Mack)

This was the only class where one could say it had two of the greatest hitters inducted, one of the greatest pitchers inducted and two of the greatest managers inducted. Cy Young was the standard in his day. Even now, four of his records are considered untouchable: 7,356 career innings pitched, 511 career wins, 815 career games started and 749 career complete games.

Tris Speaker didn’t flash on headlines the way Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth had. He was, by some, the greatest teammate of all-time, though. He carried certain teams on his back and was the consummate outfielder of his day.

Nap Lajoie was the quiet man’s version of Ty Cobb. He kept his head down, his mouth shut, and quietly worked his way to being a five-time AL Batting Champion, a Triple Crown winner in 1901, and he had a lifetime average of .339 and 3,252 hits.

Managers John McGraw and Connie Mack couldn’t be more opposite of each other. One was a hard-nosed, fiery leader of men, the other a gentlemen, who was a brainiac strategist. Between the two of them they accumulated eight World Series championships and 6,494 wins. Mack should’ve been inducted alone for opting to wear suits when he managed, instead of a uniform during those hot summers.

3. Class of 1999 (Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, Orlando Cepeda, Smokey Joe Williams, Frank Selee)

The class of ’99 was filled with some tough sons of bitches. Ryan, while surprisingly not ever winning a Cy Young, holds the career strikeouts record with 5,714, and he threw 7 no-hitters. For a guy who has his number retired by three franchises, you have to put him in the top-five pitchers of all-time discussion.

If George Brett played for the Yankees or even the Red Sox, there would be debates to this day on whether he was the greatest hitter of his time. In KC, he hit a lifetime .305 with 3,154 hits and over 1,500 RBIs. Even now, he remains the greatest player that’s ever put on a Royals uniform.

Same with Robin Yount. There have been some big names come through Milwaukee over the decades following, but no one has ever come close to what Yount has done. He quietly amassed 3,142 hits and two MVP awards in his 19-year career.

It was hard for Orland Cepeda to stand out on his own in San Francisco, because, well, the Say Hey Kid. But, Cepeda was Mr. Consistent in his time with not only the Giants, but the Cardinals, Braves, Athletics, Red Sox and Royals as well.

2. Class of 1972 (Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Early Wynn, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Ross Youngs, Lefty Gomez)

Many say Josh Gibson hit over 800 career home runs in the Negro Leagues. I believe it. He was the best catcher and hitter in a league of world class talent– many of whom would become Major Leaguers. If there was a face of the Negro Leagues, he was it.

Yogi Berra was everybody’s catcher, not just the Yankees. Everyone loved him, no matter the state. He was the best bad-ball hitter there was. As for defense, no one called a game like he did. I don’t think this is ever talked about as much. Pitching greats, Allie Reyonlds, Whitey Ford, Vic Raschi, Red Ruffing, Tug McGraw and Warren Spahn all were caught by Berra. Some of these guys can attribute their success to him.

Buck Leonard was the Negro Leagues’ greatest first basemen ever.

Early Wynn was known as the toughest pitcher to ever play.

Ross Youngs “was the best outfielder” Hall of Fame manager John McGraw ever managed, he said.

Lefty Gomez‘s short 13-year career ended with two Triple Crowns, five World Series championships, a 3.34 ERA and a three-time strikeout leader. Unbelievable.

1. Class of 1936 (Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson)

Avengers assemble! If there was a Hall of Fame for super, super stars this would’ve been it. It had a little bit of everything. The natural hitter in Cobb and Wagner, the workhorse in Johnson, the gentleman pitcher with finesse in Mathewson, and Captain America himself, who could do it all and was the face of the great sport in Babe Ruth.

All right everyone, I want to hear from you. Let’s see your class rankings!

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