As we begin our ranking of the top 100 Major League Baseball players to ever take the diamond, it's time to debate the stars who landed just outside of our list.
With that in mind, we asked our MLB experts to find the one player not in this week's top 100 they most strongly feel deserves to be there. From Negro Leagues stars and Hall of Famers from the early days of the sport to recent MVPs and postseason heroes, here are the nine players they named.
Negro Leagues stars
The Negro Leagues were clearly underrepresented on our top 100, and three players certainly stood out as snubs: first baseman Buck Leonard, shortstop Pop Lloyd and two-way player Bullet Rogan. When I solicited the opinion of Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, he was unequivocal: Rogan was the biggest miss of all. We marvel, rightfully, at what Shohei Ohtani did in his incredible MVP-winning 2021 season. Well, Rogan was Ohtani a century before Ohtani. And as resplendent as Rogan's talent was -- a fastball that earned him his nickname and led to a 2.65 ERA over 1,500 documented innings, a bat that slashed .338/.413/.521 over around 2,400 plate appearances, a glove used at all nine positions -- that wasn't the most amazing thing he did. After leaving the Army in 1920, Rogan played nine elite two-way seasons. The talent was unmistakable. The longevity was truly special. -- Jeff Passan
They called Leonard the Lou Gehrig of the Negro Leagues, but as Hall of Famer Monte Irvin put it, "If he had gotten the chance to play in the major leagues, they might have called Lou Gehrig the white Buck Leonard." Gehrig had more power, but Leonard was his equal as a hitter and regarded as the superior defensive first baseman. Leonard hit .345/.450/.589 in the Negro Leagues, and his adjusted OPS+ of 181 ranks third behind only Josh Gibson (Leonard followed him in the Homestead Grays lineup, creating a one-two punch to rival Babe Ruth and Gehrig) and Oscar Charleston among Negro Leagues batters.
Leonard reportedly hit .382 in exhibition games against major leaguers, and when Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier, Bill Veeck tried to sign Leonard, even though he was 40 years old. Leonard declined, worried he was too old. The first three Negro Leaguers selected to the Hall of Fame were Satchel Paige in 1971 then Gibson and Leonard -- a respected and admired superstar -- in 1972. That's a top-100 player of all time. -- David Schoenfield
Smokey Joe Williams
Williams was at his best before the Negro Leagues were formed, but we have plenty of evidence of how great he was, beginning with contemporaneous comparisons to Hall of Famers like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. In barnstorming games, Williams was said to have beaten the likes of Johnson, Pete Alexander, Chief Bender and Rube Marquard head-to-head while going 20-7 in such exhibitions. In both 1912 and 1915, Williams shut out the reigning NL pennant winner, then in 1917, he no-hit the NL champion New York Giants and struck out 20 batters.
And Ty Cobb -- Ty Cobb! -- said Williams was "a sure 30-game winner in the major leagues."
Finally, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum says this: "During the first half of its existence, Smokey Joe Williams was to black baseball what Satchel Paige was to the latter half." Williams is, at the very least, a top-50 all-time player. -- Bradford Doolittle
Hall of Fame first basemen
He won trophies for rookie of the year (1991) and MVP (1994) while playing nine seasons in the Astrodome, an enormous park where the ball didn't carry. Bagwell finished with an OPS of .948, which is in the top 20 all time, higher than that of, among others, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. Bagwell is one of 13 players ever with an OPS that high along with at least 1,500 runs scored and 1,500 driven in. He was an excellent defensive first baseman and a great baserunner; he had two 30-30 seasons. To some, Bagwell is one of the five greatest first basemen in baseball history. If he is, then he should be in the top 100 players. -- Tim Kurkjian
Sisler, the initial first baseman elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 1939, might well be the best all-around player in the history of that position. In 1920, Sisler collected 257 hits in a 154-game season, a modern-era record that stood until Ichiro Suzuki had 262 in 2004. In 1922, Sisler hit safely in 41 consecutive games, a modern-era record that stood until Joe DiMaggio's 56-game streak in 1941. He led his league in stolen bases four times, and his defense is celebrated on his Hall of Fame plaque as follows: "Credited with being one of best two fielding first basemen in history of game." -- Paul Hembekides
It's hard to imagine a seven-time 20-game winner not making the list of the top 100 players, especially when you consider Jenkins pitched in three different decades. If that's not being one the best of his era, I'm not sure what is. And this is when wins meant something -- like going deep into games. Jenkins led the league in complete games four times, with at least 20 in each of those seasons. He topped out at 30 complete games in 1971, when he won the Cy Young with 24 wins and a 2.77 ERA. At 35 years old, he finished sixth in Cy Young voting, and at 39, he compiled a respectable 3.15 ERA in 34 starts. -- Jesse Rogers
Mussina was overshadowed in an era of pitching titans such as Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson. Mussina never won a Cy Young Award, but he had six top-five finishes. He never led his team to a World Series title, but he posted a 3.42 ERA in 139⅔ postseason innings. He didn't reach 300 wins, but he surpassed 200 innings 11 times in 18 years and kept his ERA under 4.00 a dozen times despite spending his entire career in a loaded American League East composed of hitter-friendly ballparks. He missed bats, but he also displayed excellent control. And he was one of the best pitchers of a volatile era. -- Alden Gonzalez
Since 2013, Mike Trout leads all hitters in MLB with 67 fWAR, which makes plenty of sense. The second player on that list, however, is one Mookie Betts -- who somehow didn't make it onto our top 100 despite Bryce Harper being present. Harper ranks eighth on this list at 38.9 fWAR. The gap between Betts and Harper in fWAR is greater than the gap between Harper and Yasmani Grandal.
Betts is not only a dynamic modern leadoff hitter, he is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, a two-time World Series Champion and a member of the 30-30 club. If we lived in a world where Trout doesn't exist, Betts is the defining player of the past decade. -- Joon Lee
While I'm not an old head just yet, Jones was one of the most distinctive players I've ever watched. His preternatural feel for catching everything while playing a signature shallow center field made him one of the few memorable defensive players in an offensive era. Combining that with him announcing himself on the biggest stage with three postseason homers in his age-19 season and playing on the signature club of his time makes him an unforgettable player in my mind. It also didn't hurt that I grew up in Florida while TBS made the Braves the most watchable team in the league. A point in favor of me being old is that Jones' son, Druw, might be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft this summer. -- Kiley McDaniel