THE TIME IS NOW. With some big PED-era names facing Judgment Day next month in the Baseball Hall of Fame voting, and with the everlasting cacophony over who belongs in Cooperstown and who doesn't, The Mag teamed with our online and TV partners to take a fresh look at the greats of the game. Out with conventional wisdom and hidebound opinions, in with a new analysis of which players really are the best of the best.
And so we present the ESPN Hall of 100: the top 100 players of all time. Period. Our panel of experts -- editors, writers, reporters, on-air personalities -- was given a list of more than 300 names: players already in the actual Hall of Fame or on the ballot as well as past and active players who surpassed certain seasonal and career benchmarks in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a measure of how many wins a player contributes to his team compared to a readily available minor leaguer. The voters were asked to rate the players on a scale of 0 (the least worthy to be on the list) to 100 (most worthy) by increments of 5. They were advised to not factor in steroids use (real or suspected) or off-field conduct detrimental to the game. They were encouraged to look at advanced metrics, not just the same old numbers.
The result is a roster based purely on performance (well, plus some performance enhancement) and a judgment-free zone where Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and even Pete Rose are welcome. An expanded version of the Hall of 100 can be found on ESPN.com (search for "Hall of 100"). The rankings will no doubt be hotly debated -- Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Keith Law and others start some of the arguments on these pages. But the results are also fascinating from a historical perspective: Every decade of baseball history from the 1890s to the 2000s is represented in our top 10, and if you go down a few more spaces, you'll find active players.
That's one of the great things about baseball: the flow of time that enables us to compare Walter Johnson to Randy Johnson, Stan Musial to Albert Pujols. With that in mind, we'll update our Hall of 100 after every season -- and for every player added, someone will fall off the list. Watch your back, Phil Niekro.