With a new baseball season starting up I decided it was a perfect time to reveal my pick for the all-time greatest baseball player, Willie Mays. I believe that Willie Mays was the all-around total package. As it says on his Baseball Hall of Fame plaque Willie Mays excelled in all phases of the game, and was one of the game’s most exciting and colorful stars. He could win games with his bat, his glove, his arm, and his legs. He could hit for power and for average (660 hrs, .302 lifetime batting avg., 1903 rbi, 3,283 hits, 1,323 extra base hits, .557 slugging pct., .384 obp, 6,066 total bases). His speed allowed him not only to offensively leg out hits, steal bases, and take the extra base, but defensively to track down anything hit his way ( 1st player ever 30 hr/30 sb in a season and 300 hr/ 300 sb in a career, 2nd player ever to get 20 hr, doubles, triples and sb in same season, still no. 1 all-time with 7,095 total outfield putouts and no. 2 all-time in center fielder double plays with 59). His throwing arm prevented runners from advancing and cut down anyone foolish enough to try. His over the shoulder catch of Vic Wertz towering drive and whirling, dead accurate, runner holding throw in game 1 of the World Series is still considered by some as the greatest defensive play ever.┬áHe won 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards for his outstanding play in the outfield during the prime of his career. Willie led the league in home runs 4 times and in stolen bases 4 times. He was a 2-time NL MVP and a 2-time All-Star game MVP. Some of his career rankings are: hrs 5th, total bases 3rd, runs scored 7th, runs created 7th, hits 12th, games played 9th, rbi 11th, extra base hits 5th, slugging pct. 18th, walks 22nd, WPA 2nd, and WAR 15th. I gave consideration to selecting Babe Ruth due to his early success as a pitcher before switching to become a record setting power hitting first baseman. But Willie’s speed and defensive prowess gave him the edge. He participated in over 20 All-Star games. Baseball legend Ted Williams was once quoted as saying, “They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays.” Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher once stated, “If somebody hit .450, stole 100 bases, and performed a miracle in the field every day, I’d look you in the eye and still say Willie Mays was better.” In 1999, The Sporting News ranked Willie Mays 2nd in a list of the 100 greatest baseball players. In my book, for all of the above, Willie Mays is number one!