No professional sport in North America has a past as rich as baseball's. Over the history of each MLB franchise, the following players represent each team's best.
While Paul Goldschmidt had eight outstanding seasons in Arizona, his success doesn't match what Johnson did with the Snakes. The Big Unit led the Diamondbacks to their only World Series win in 2001 and had an incredible six-year run in Arizona that included four consecutive Cy Young Awards. He played two more seasons in Arizona late in his career. For his time with the D-backs, Johnson went 118-62 with a 2.83 ERA and 2,077 strikeouts in 1,630.1 innings.
The Braves have had their fair share of Hall of Famers, but none can quite match what Aaron did for the franchise. Second in all-time home runs, Aaron played 21 seasons for the Braves franchise between Milwaukee and Atlanta. He made 20 All-Star appearances and hit 733 home runs with the franchise. (He added another 22 homers with the Brewers in his final two playing seasons.)
Formerly the St. Louis Browns and now the Baltimore Orioles, the franchise has had its share of historic players. However, Cal Ripken easily exceeds the accomplishments of any other player, including Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. He spent all 21 of his seasons in Baltimore, making 19 All-Star Games and winning two MVP Awards. He shattered Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record in 1995 and retired with 431 home runs.
Perhaps the best pure hitter ever, Williams made 17 All-Star appearances with the Red Sox and retired as a .344 hitter with 521 home runs and 1,839 RBI. He won six batting titles, including in 1941 when he hit .406.
There's quite a debate over Chicago's best player of the last 100 years, and the discussion includes Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks and Sammy Sosa. Santo leads that great list in WAR, winning five Gold Gloves and leading the NL in walks four times. He retired with 342 home runs. The Cubs would be thrilled if a player from their current core, including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, has a career even close to that group's.
The Big Hurt was certainly the best hitter in White Sox history, but spending significant time as a DH makes this race close. Competitors include Luke Appling, Ted Lyons and Eddie Collins. Thomas was still one of the best hitters of his era, winning two MVPs and hitting .307 with 448 home runs for his White Sox career over 16 seasons. He had an astronomical .995 OPS with the team.
The Reds have had plenty of great players throughout their history, but the all-time hits king leads them all. Rose made 17 All-Star appearances and won three batting titles during his amazing 24-year career, and he also leads all MLB players in at-bats, plate appearances and games played.
Feller is one of the best pitchers ever, playing 18 seasons with Cleveland from 1936 to 1956. He finished his career with 266 wins, a 3.25 ERA and 279 complete games.
Nolan Arenado seems to be well on his way to being the best Rockies player ever, but for now Helton still has the crown. He played 17 seasons in Colorado, finishing his career with a .316 batting average and 369 home runs. While he never won an MVP, Helton did make five All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves. His best season was 2000, when he hit .372-42-147.
One of the game's all-time greats, Cobb's accomplishments still seem like fiction. The Hall of Famer won 12 batting titles in his 24-year career, and his .366 career batting average is still the best ever. He also won one MVP and one Triple Crown.
Now a Hall of Famer, Bagwell won three Silver Sluggers and one MVP during his 14-year career with the Astros. He finished with a .948 OPS, hitting .297 with 449 home runs. Current second baseman Jose Altuve has a chance to rival Bagwell if his early career pace continues, and the team hopes homegrown talents Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa can also come somewhere close to Bagwell's accomplishments.
Brett has a statue at Kauffman Stadium, and his name is synonymous with the Royals. He made 13 All-Star appearances during his 21-year career and won the MVP in 1980 after hitting .390. He retired as a career .305 hitter with 317 home runs.
Trout is in his 10th season, but he's already the best player in Angels history. He's won four MVP Awards and finished top five in the voting in eight straight seasons. Entering his age 28 season, Trout already had 285 career home runs and a 1.000 OPS. He signed a record 12-year, $428 million extension with the team before last season.
Kershaw, 32, has started his decline, but he's already established himself as the best Dodgers player ever. The lefty has won three Cy Young Awards, one MVP and five ERA titles through his first 12 seasons. After those 12 seasons, he's 169-74 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.
This one hurts the few Miami fans who are left. Stanton spent eight seasons with the Marlins, from 2010-17, hitting 267 home runs and winning the 2017 NL MVP after leading the league with 59 home runs and 132 RBI. Following that season, he was traded to the Yankees as the team's new ownership cut costs.
Yount wasn't the most consistent power hitter during his 20-year career, but he won two MVP Awards and hit .285 for his career. He retired with 251 home runs. Christian Yelich won the MVP in his first season with the franchise in 2018 and was second in voting last season, but he has a long way to go to match Yount.
Johnson played for the organization from 1907-1927 when it was called the Washington Senators. He's one of baseball's best pitchers in history, winning 417 games with a 2.17 ERA. He's the all-time leader with 110 shutouts.
Young Mets fans will regard David Wright as the greatest player the franchise has ever employed, but Seaver is clearly the best Met of all time. Over 12 seasons with the team, he won 198 games and posted a 2.57 ERA. He also claimed three Cy Young Awards during his Mets career.
Ruth is still leaps and bounds ahead of an incredible list that includes Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Derek Jeter. The Babe played 15 seasons for the Yanks, hitting .349 with 659 home runs and a 1.195 OPS. Of course, he was also an accomplished pitcher, but most of his work on the mound came with Boston.
Henderson edges out Eddie Plank and Jimmie Foxx as the best Athletic ever, setting a new level for leadoff hitters. He holds the all-time lead in stolen bases and runs scored and most impressively had a .401 on-base percentage for his career. Henderson hit .288 in his 14 seasons with the A's with 867 of his career 1,406 steals. His career 297 home runs are often overlooked.
The Phillies would love for Bryce Harper to become their greatest player ever over the next 13 years, but he will have a tough time matching Schmidt. Schmidt led the NL in home runs eight times and won two MVP Awards. He played his entire 18-year career in Philadelphia, making 12 All-Star appearances and winning nine Gold Gloves. He retired with 548 home runs.
Wagner is easily the Pirates best player ever, over the likes of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. The Hall of Famer won eight batting titles during his 21 years and has a line of .328/.391/.467 for his career.
Known as Mr. Padre, Gwynn was arguably the best pure hitter of his era. He won eight batting titles and retired with a .338 batting average. Unfortunately, Gwynn passed away from salivary gland cancer at age 54 in 2014.
Mays beats out Barry Bonds by a significant margin as the best all-time Giant, considering he played six more seasons with the team. Mays made 19 All-Star appearances, claimed 11 Gold Gloves and won two MVPs. He retired as a career .302 hitter with 660 home runs.
The Mariners have had plenty of great players in recent history, including Edgar Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki, but Griffey was their best. Drafted first overall in 1987, Griffey joined his dad in Seattle and played 13 seasons with the franchise, including two at the end of his career. As a Mariner, he hit .292 with 417 home runs and a .927 OPS. When his career was over, Griffey had 630 home runs.
Stan the Man played his entire 22-year career in St. Louis, hitting .331 with 475 home runs and a .976 OPS. He won three MVP Awards and made 20 All-Star appearances. Cardinals fans were hopeful that Albert Pujols would challenge Musial for best player in franchise history, but he left for the Angels in 2012 after 11 seasons.
The Rays are hoping their young core of outstanding players, led by 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, eventually challenge for the best in franchise history. For now, former Rays third baseman and now Giant Evan Longoria tops the list. He spent 10 years with the team, hitting 261 home runs with an .823 OPS and three Gold Gloves. Longoria was traded to San Francisco following the 2017 season.
Launched in 1961, the Rangers have featured many great players, but few played as long with the team as Rodriguez. Pudge played 13 of his 21 seasons with Texas, making 10 All-Star appearances and winning the Gold Glove in each of those seasons. He also won the AL MVP in 1999. For his Rangers career, Rodriguez hit .304 with 217 home runs.
Blue Jays fans hope third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. meets expectations to become their greatest hitter, but to this point their best player is Halladay. It took him a few years to reach his potential, but he was worth the wait with his breakout in 2002. Halladay went 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA that season and won the AL Cy Young the following year. He made six All-Star appearances and had three top-three Cy Young finishes with Toronto before going to Philadelphia, where he added one more Cy Young to his mantle. Halladay had 148 wins and a 3.43 ERA in 12 seasons with the franchise.
Gary Carter had a terrific career with the Expos, but Scherzer has surpassed him in Washington. Over five seasons, Scherzer has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in all five years, winning the award twice. He also led the franchise to its first-ever World Series victory in 2019. Scherzer's ERA is 2.74 with 1,371 strikeouts in 1050.2 innings as a Nat.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.