25 Greatest First Basemen in Baseball History | Fueled by Sports
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25 Greatest First Basemen in Baseball History

Greatest First Basemen in Baseball History

First base use to be where a team’s biggest bat played, a spot where the power hitter played. However, today teams are not putting value at first base the way they use to. Teams in years past would have the same player at first base for 5, 7 even 10 years, now often times first basemen are players that played at a different position outfield or third base for their best yeas and are eventually moved to first. It certainly is not like is use to be at the No. 3 spot on the infield.

Other Positions: C | 1B | SS | 3B | OF

25. Tino Martinez

For 16 years, Martinez played for the Mariners, Yankees, Cardinals and Devil Rays. Martinez earned 2 All-Star berths and 1 Silver Slugger award during his career. Martinez is most well-known for being the first baseman with the New York Yankees during the Bronx Bombers successful run in the last 90s. The Yankees won 4 World Series titles during 6 seasons. In Martinez’s first season in New York in 1996, the Yankees won the World Series and followed that with 3 more titles over the next 5 seasons.

Martinez’s most productive season with the Yankees was in 1997 when he hit 44 home runs with 141 RBIs and finished second in AL MVP voting. For his career, Martinez had 339 home runs and 1,965 hits but will fall short of being a Hall of Fame inductee.

24. Joey Votto

Votto has been in the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds since 2007. Since that time the first baseman has played in 4 All-Star Games, won the 2010 NL MVP and 1 Gold Glove award. Since the 2008 season, Votto has consistently hit 20 or more home runs and knocked in 80 or more runs each season except two when injuries caused him to miss 51 games in 2012 and 100 games in 2014. As of the publication of this article on 5/15/19 Votto’s career stats were .308 batting average, 273 home runs and 905 RBIs.

23. Paul Konerko

Konerko played for three teams – Dodgers, Reds and White Sox – during a 18-year career earning 6 trips to the All-Star Game. Konerko saw little success with the Dodgers and Reds, but came into his own with the White Sox in 1999.

The slugger did not have a 40-home run season until he was 28, but was known for his consistency at the plate. Konerko helped the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005. The first baseman finished his career with 439 home runs and 2,340 hits, but is not in the Hall of Fame.

22. Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez ended his 15-year MLB career at the start of the 2019 season. Gonzalez started his career with the Rangers, but also played for the Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets. During his time in the majors, Gonzalez was chosen to play in 5 All-Star Games and won 4 Gold Glove awards and 2 Silver Slugger awards.

With the Padres, Gonzalez put up four straight seasons of 30 or more home runs and 99 or more RBIs in what was considered a pitcher’s ball park. Gonzalez has a stretch of 10 consecutive seasons with 90 or more RBIs. Gonzalez played 156 or more games in 11 straight seasons from 2006 through 2016. His career numbers include 308 home runs, 1,146 RBIs and 1,954 hits.

21. Prince Fielder

Fielder played for 12 years with the Brewers, Tigers and Rangers. During his career, Fielder was chosen to play in 6 All-Star Games and won 3 Silver Slugger awards. Prince carried a big bat during his career belting 50 home runs in 2007 at the young age of 23. Fielder’s most productive season at the plate was in 2009 when he knocked in 141 runs.

The first baseman’s run between 2007 and 2013 with the Brewers and Tigers was his most productive period. In 2014, Fielder was traded to the Rangers, but injuries cut his career short and at 32 he was forced to give up the game due to an injury to his neck. Fielder finished his career with 319 home runs, 1,028 RBIs and 1,645 hits.

20. Keith Hernandez

Hernandez played his 17-year career with the Cardinals, Mets and Indians. While a regular first baseman, Hernandez earned the 1979 NL MVP, 5 trips to the All-Star Game, 11 Gold Glove awards and 2 Silver Slugger awards.

Hernandez was considered for his defense first, but became one of the better hitting first baseman of his generation. During his 1979 MVP season, Hernandez hit .344. Hernandez won the World Series in 1982 while playing with the Cardinals and in 1986 while a member of the Mets. Hernandez was never elected to the Hall of Fame.

19. Mark Teixeira

Teixeira played 14 seasons in the majors with the Rangers, Braves, Angels and Yankees. He earned 3 trips to the All-Star Game, 3 Silver Slugger awards and 4 Gold Glove awards. The first baseman finished his career with 409 home runs, 1,298 RBIs and 1,862 hits.

In his rookie season with Texas, Teixeira hit 26 home runs with 84 RBIs and the following year had 38 home runs and 112 RBIs. Teixeira would hit 24 home runs or more during his first 10 seasons in the majors, while earning his 4 Gold Gloves during that same period. In 2009 in his first season with the Yankees, Teixeira finished second in AL MVP voting but more importantly won a World Series title with the Bronx Bombers.

18. Gil Hodges

Hodges played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers as well as the New York Mets during an 18-year career. Hodges was named to 8 All-Star Games and won 3 Gold Glove awards. The slugger finished his career with 370 home runs, 1,274 RBIs and 1,921 hits.

While with the Dodgers, Hodges helped lead the team to 7 pennants and 2 World Series titles as a member of the Boys of Summer. Hodges’ 361 home runs during a 15-year run remains a franchise record. He ended his playing career with the expansion New York Mets and was a successful manager after retiring, but died suddenly at age 47 in 1972.

17. Fred McGriff

During a 19-year career McGriff played for the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Devil Rays, Cubs and Dodgers collecting 439 home runs and 2,490 hits. McGriff was chosen to play in 5 All-Star Games and won 3 Silver Slugger awards.

Consistency was why McGriff played as long as he did in the majors. He was consistently hitting between 20 and 30 home runs, knocking in between 80 and 100 runs and batting between .270 and .320 nearly every season. McGriff is not likely to ever be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

16. Todd Helton

From 1997 through 2013, Helton was instrumental in the development of the expansion Colorado Rockies. Over his 17-year career, Helton hit 369 home runs, 592 doubles and 2,519 hits while averaging a very respectful .316. Helton’s awards while playing included 5 trips to the All-Star Game, 4 Silver Slugger awards and 3 Gold Glove awards.

Helton, some say was helped by playing his entire career at Coors Field, hitting .300 or better for the first 10 seasons of his career including .372 for the 2000 season. In all likelihood, Helton will not reach the Hall of Fame but nevertheless his ability to spray the ball to all fields was impressive.

15. Tony Perez

Perez played 23 seasons in the major with four teams – Reds, Expos, Red Sox and Phillies. The former first baseman finished his career as a 7-time All-Star and Hall of Fame member after belting 379 home runs and 2,732 hits.

Perez won four pennants with the Reds and two World Series titles. His final years with the Expos, Red Sox and Phillies saw the veteran slugger start sparingly and pinch-hit often. Perez was 44 when he retired and was inducted in the Hall in 2000.

14. Don Mattingly

Mattingly played his entire 14-year MLB career with the New York Yankees and is currently the manager of the Miami Marlins. During his career, Mattingly was named the AL MVP in 1985, voted to 6 All-Star Games, and won 9 Gold Gloves and 3 Silver Slugger awards.

Donnie Baseball as he was known was one of baseball’s best first baseman during the 1980s. His batting average was consistently around .300 and he knocked in 100 runs on a regular basis. Mattingly was a star with the Yankees during the late 1980s, but the Bronx Bombers never reached the postseason. Mattingly has yet to be selected for the Hall of Fame and is not likely to be a part of that select group.

13. Steve Garvey

During his 19-year career in the majors, Garvey played for just two teams the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Over that period, Garvey was an All-Star 10 times, while winning the 1974 NL MVP and 4 Gold Glove awards. Garvey began his career at third base and on the bench more often than not, but in 1974 made his first All-Star Game and won the MVP for the game and went on to be named the NL MVP for the 1974 season.

Garvey was as an All-Star for the NL in eight straight seasons and while with the Dodgers would win four pennants and a World Series in 1981. In 1983 he left to play for San Diego and made two All-Star games as a Padre and led San Diego to their first ever pennant in 1984. Garvey finished his career with 272 home runs and 2,599 hits but has not been elected to the Hall of Fame.

12. Orlando Cepeda

Cepeda played with six teams during his 17-year career in the majors. The hard-hitting first baseman was an All-Star 7 times and chosen Rookie of the Year in 1958 and NL MVP in 1967. In his rookie season, Cepeda belted 25 home runs and racked up 96 RBIs, while averaging .312 at the plate. Cepeda had his career-season in 1961 when he hit 46 home runs with 142 RBIs.

In 1966 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cepeda won his NL MVP award. Injuries slowed his success and Cepeda finished his career with a. 297 batting average, 379 home runs, 417 doubles and 2,357 hits. The veteran’s committee inducted Cepeda in the Hall of Fame in 1999.

11. Rafael Palmeiro

Palmeiro played for the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles during a 17-year career and was selected to 4 All-Star teams. With the numbers the former slugger put up of 569 home runs, 1,835 RBIs and 3,020 hits, he should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, but a steroid scandal will likely prevent that from ever happening. More than half of Palmeiro’s home runs came after his 33rd birthday.

10. Jim Thome

Jim Thome played for six teams while in MLB but is most remembered for his time with the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. While playing in the majors the left-handed Thome was a 5-time All-Star and won 1 Silver Slugger.

During a career that ran from 1991 to 2012, Thome hit 612 home runs, 1,699 RBIs and 451 doubles. He became a full-time designated hitter in 2008 which proved to lengthen his career as he did not have to play in the field. When in his prime, Thome hit 40 or more home runs four straight seasons and clubbed over 150 home runs after turning the age of 35. Thome was a first ballot inductee to the Hall of Fame in 2018.

9. Jeff Bagwell

Bagwell played his entire MLB career of 15 seasons with the Houston Astros. The Astros slugger was chosen for 4 All-Star teams, while winning 1 Gold Glove award, 3 Silver Slugger awards, and being named 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and 1994 NL MVP.

Bagwell hit 20 home runs or more and 87 RBIs or more 12 straight seasons. If not for an arthritic shoulder, Bagwell could have played well beyond his 15 seasons in the league. Bagwell was elected in 2017 to the Hall of Fame.

8. Eddie Murray

Murray’s career spanned three decades and 21 seasons with the Orioles, Dodgers, Mets, Indians and Angels. The slugger was chosen to 8 All-Star teams and won 3 Gold Glove awards, 3 Silver Sluggers awards and was named the 1977 AL Rookie of the Year.

In his rookie season, Murray belted 27 home runs and knocked in 88 runs. Murray never hit more than 33 home runs nor knocked in over 124 runs in any one season, but was a consistent as any other player in MLB. For five straight seasons during the 1980s, Murray finished in the top 5 in balloting for AL MVP. Murray finished his career with 504 home runs, 1,917 RBIs, 560 doubles and 3,255 hits. In 2003, Murray was enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

7. Mark McGwire

McGwire played with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals during a career that spanned from 1984 to 2001. While, his use of steroids has left a black cloud over his career, there is no denying the fact that McGwire could hit the cover off the baseball. McGwire was an All-Star 12 times, won 1 Gold Glove, 3 Silver Slugger awards, and the 1987 Rookie of the Year award. In 1998, McGwire broke Roger Maris’ home run mark for a single season of 61, when he blasted 70.

McGwire has the fewest career hits (1,626) of any player who has hit 500 or more home runs. Big Mac finished his career with 583 home runs and 1,414 RBIs. Because of his admission to using steroids McGwire will likely never be elected to the Hall of Fame.

6. Willie McCovey

Willie McCovey played 21 seasons in MLB finishing his career with 521 home runs, 1,555 RBIs and 2,211 hits. The slugger was named to 6 All-Star teams, the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1969 NL MVP.

McCovey is considered by baseball pundits, players and coaches as one of the best left-handed power hitters of all-time. At 21, McCovey arrived in the majors as a rookie and batted .354 in his 52-game first season to earn Rookie of the Year. His best season following his rookie season was in 1963 with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs, and McCovey was able to reach the 500-home run mark. The left-handed slugger was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 on the first ballot.

5. Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera entered Major League Baseball in 2003 with the Florida Marlins as a third baseman and in 2008 was traded to the Detroit Tigers where he became the Tigers starting first baseman and remains active today. Over his career, Cabrera has earned 11 trips to the All-Star game, 7 Silver Slugger awards, and was named the AL MVP 2 times.

In 2012, Cabrera was the first American League player to win the Triple Crown since 1967 when he led the AL with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs. As of publication of this article (5/15/19) Cabrera had career stats of .316 batting average, 466 home runs and 1,650 RBIs in his 16th season at age 36.

4. Hank Greenberg

Hank Greenberg played between 1930 and 1947. The Hebrew Hammer as he was affectionately called, was a dominating hitter during the ‘30s and knocked in 168 runs during the 1935 season, and followed that up with an even more impressive 184 RBIs during 1937.

In 1938 Greenberg belted 58 home runs which were second to Babe Ruth at the time. World War II cut short Greenberg’s career when he left only 19 games into his 1941 campaign and missed all of the 1942, 1943, 1944 seasons and over half of the1945 season.

Even without the three-plus seasons missed due to military service Greenberg ended his career as a 4-time All-Star, AL MVP twice, with a .313 career batting average and 331 home runs. Greenberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956.

3. Albert Pujols

Pujols began his career in 2001 and is still active today playing for the Los Angeles Angels. He began with the greatest rookie season ever in Major League Baseball with 37 home runs, 130 RBIs and a .329 batting average. That season he was an All-Star, Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger and 4th in NL MVP voting.

During his career, Pujols has been an All-Star 10 times, won 2 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver Slugger awards, 3 NL MVP awards and has career stats as of this publication (5/15/2019) of .301 batting average, 641 home runs and 2,004 RBIs. Pujols is just the fourth player to have more than 2,000 career RBIs, joining Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez.

2. Jimmie Foxx

Jimmie Foxx played between 1925-1942 and 1944-1945. Foxx was just 17 years of age when he debuted with the Philadelphia A’s in 1925. In 1932, Foxx hit 58 home runs and knocked in 168 runs coming just two home runs short of Babe Ruth’s record. In 1933, Foxx won the Triple Crown with a .356 batting average, 48 home runs and 163 RBIs.

Foxx was an All-Star nine times, an AL MVP three times and ended his career with a batting average of .325, 534 home runs and 1,922 RBIs. Foxx was a first ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1951.

1. Lou Gehrig

The “Iron Horse” of baseball played his entire career with the New York Yankees. Gehrig held the record for the longest streak of consecutive games at 2,130 until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995. Gehrig was one of baseball’s best hitters to ever step up to the plate.

At the young age of 24, Gehrig hit 47 home runs with 173 RBIs in 1927 while batting behind Babe Ruth. In 1931, Gehrig had 185 RBIs, which were two short of the all-time record. Gehrig finished the 1934 season with the American League Triple Crown with a .363 batting average, 49 home runs and 166 RBIs. He posted 13 straight seasons with 100 or more RBIs.

For his career, Gehrig had a .340 batting average, 493 home runs, 1,995 RBIs and 2,721 hits, while earning 7 All-Star berths and two AL MVP awards. Gehrig was enshrined in the Hall of Fame after retiring in 1939 due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis later called Lou Gehrig’s disease that took his life two years later.

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