Baseball is a continuously evolving sport; players come and go with alacrity. To this effect, this ‘top five’ list comprises players from all-time rather than the ever-changing top players of the present day.
Babe Ruth played for a number of teams – the Red Sox, Yankees and Braves. His career spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. He established many records in his time as a player, including 714 home runs, 2062 bases on balls, and a slugging percentage of .0690. This last still stands today.
Active from 1951 to 1973, Mays played for the Giants and the Mets. Considered to be the greatest player of all time after Ruth (of course), he scored 660 home runs with 3283 hits and 338 stolen bases. He was awarded 12 Gold Gloves, though as they weren’t awarded until 1957, it’s likely he would have gained a considerable number more. His final claim to fame is the fact that he made every single All-Star team between 1954 and 1973.
The most contemporary player on this list, having played from 1986 to 2007, Bonds played for both the Pirates and Giants. Calm and collected, in 2004 he reached base on a massive 376 occasions and walked 232 times. Seen as an exceptional hitter, he was placed in the top five hitters in 12 out of 17 qualifying seasons. With eight Gold Gloves for his defense, he is only second behind Babe Ruth in Wins Above Replacement.
Nicknamed ‘the Splendid Splinter’, he played exclusively for the Red Sox during his 1939 to 1960 career. It was clear from a young age that he was going to play baseball; he even carried a bat with him to high school. Over his career he won six batting titles, leading his league 12 times in the OBP.
Aaron played for both the Braves and Brewers during his 22-year career. Playing from 1954 through to 1976, he had to deal with a lot of hate in his time. With the shadow of Babe Ruth hanging over him, and under a lot of scrutiny from the media, there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders until his record 755th home run. Even with all the pressure, Aaron was known for his calm demeanour, always showing up for practice with no complaints.