Baseball BeatAugust 15, 2003
Frank's Rank in Baseball's All-Time Bank Revisited
By Rich Lederer

As a follow-up to the Let's Be Frank About The Big Hurt article last month, I compiled four extra screens to highlight his standing among the hitting greats of the game. For anyone who remains skeptical about the White Sox slugger's place in baseball history, I believe they should take note of the following lists:


1    Babe Ruth                12   
2    Ted Williams             10   
T3   Jimmie Foxx               9   
T3   Lou Gehrig                9   
5    Barry Bonds               7   
T6   Frank Thomas              6   
T6   Stan Musial               6   
T6   Hank Greenberg            6   
T6   Rogers Hornsby            6   
T10  Larry Walker              5   
T10  Mickey Mantle             5

Could that be right? Wow! Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and Barry Bonds have put together more seasons of .400+ OBP and .600+ SLG than Frank Thomas. Granted, Big Frank is unlikely to catch Ruth, Williams, Foxx, Gehrig, and even Bonds (who is well on his way to his eighth such season), but, c'mon now, those players just might be the five greatest hitters in baseball history. Ranking only behind these giants of the game and being on par with Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, and Hank Greenberg is impressive company indeed.

Let's scroll down and take a look at the next list for additional proof as to how awesome Thomas has been over the years.


1    Babe Ruth                1926-32    7   
T2   Frank Thomas             1993-97    5
T2   Lou Gehrig               1930-34    5   
T2   Jimmie Foxx              1932-36    5   
T5   Hank Greenberg           1937-40    4   
T5   Ted Williams             1946-49    4   
T5   Manny Ramirez            1999-02    4   
T8   Babe Ruth                1919-21    3   
T8   Johnny Mize              1938-40    3   
T8   Joe DiMaggio             1939-41    3   
T8   Eddie Mathews            1953-55    3   
T8   Duke Snider              1953-55    3   
T8   Mickey Mantle            1955-57    3   
T8   Larry Walker             1997-99    3   
T8   Barry Bonds              2000-02    3

Let me see now, only Ruth has had more consecutive seasons of .400+ OBP and .600+ SLG than Thomas? Holy cow! That should leave a greater impression than Dolly Parton falling face first on you.

Ruth also had a streak of six seasons (1919-1924) in addition to the one listed above but failed to qualify based on coming up just shy of the minimum requirement of 500 plate appearances in 1922. Similarly, Hornsby would have joined Thomas, Gehrig, and Foxx with five seasons in a row (1921-1925) had he not fallen a tad below the minimum number of PA in 1923.

By definition, if a player reaches .400 OBP and .600 SLG in a single season, then he will also have an OPS of 1.000 or more. However, it's also possible that a player could get to that magical mark by having an OBP of, say, .375 and a SLG of .625 or an OBP of .425 and a SLG of .575. Therefore, so as not to be biased toward .400-.600 seasons, let's delve deeper into OPS as a standalone category.


T1   Ted Williams             13   
T1   Babe Ruth                13   
3    Lou Gehrig               11   
T4   Jimmie Foxx               9   
T4   Barry Bonds               9   
6    Stan Musial               8   
T7   Frank Thomas              7
T7   Rogers Hornsby            7   
T7   Mel Ott                   7   
T7   Ty Cobb                   7   
T7   Mickey Mantle             7

For the most part, the names remain the same. Mel Ott and Ty Cobb appear for the first time, but the other players are repeats.


1    Lou Gehrig               1927-37   11   
2    Babe Ruth                1926-33    8   
T3   Frank Thomas             1993-97    5
T3   Jimmie Foxx              1932-36    5   
T5   Ty Cobb                  1910-13    4   
T5   Johnny Mize              1937-40    4   
T5   Hank Greenberg           1937-40    4   
T5   Ted Williams             1939-42    4   
T5   Ted Williams             1946-49    4   
T5   Stan Musial              1948-51    4   
T5   Mickey Mantle            1955-58    4   
T5   Barry Bonds              1995-98    4   
T5   Mark McGwire             1996-99    4   
T5   Sammy Sosa               1998-01    4   
T5   Manny Ramirez            1999-02    4

Source: sabermetric baseball encyclopedia

Gehrig...Ruth...Thomas. What can I say? The names and the ranking speak for themselves.

Williams, who is listed at four seasons twice, should arguably be given credit for at least eight consecutive years with an OPS of 1.000 or better. However, he fails to qualify on a technicality owing to not playing in 1943-1945 when he was serving in the military. Remarkably, The Thumper actually had an OPS of 1.000+ every year of his career except 1959. Accordingly, if it weren't for the missing seasons or falling short of the minimum requirement of 500 plate appearances, a case could be made that Williams had 17 straight campaigns with an OPS of 1.000+.

Bonds is working on a run of 11 consecutive seasons with an OPS > 1.000, but he fell short of the minimum requirement for plate appearances in 1994 and 1999 in order to qualify for the list above. Likewise, Ruth had a streak of six seasons (1919-1924) in addition to the one listed above but just missed meeting the minimum number of PA in 1922.

Manny Ramirez, who is on the bubble with a .998 OPS this year, will tie Thomas and Foxx for third place if he can finish with a bang similar to 2002.


Look, folks, these stats are what it's all about. On base percentage and slugging average. Scoring runs is about getting on base and driving the runners around the bases. Players who rank among the best at both are quite simply among the most valuable offensive players of all time.

If there is no disputing the greatness of Ruth, Williams, Foxx, Gehrig, Bonds, Musial, Greenberg, Hornsby, Ott, Cobb, and Mickey Mantle, why would anyone argue against Thomas and his accomplishments?

We need to recognize that the best players in baseball history didn't just come from the first half of the last century. Instead, we should realize that many of the very best players ever are active today. So, if you missed the opportunity to watch any of the above do their thing in person, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to witness and appreciate some of the greatest players in baseball history while you can.