— -- As my ESPN.com colleague Dave Schoenfield observed, the easiest approach in assembling one of these top 10 lists is to click on Baseball-reference.com, proceed to "career WAR'' and commence the countdown. It's the most efficient and analytically defensible way to get the job done.
It's also catatonically boring and guaranteed to siphon the emotion from the endeavor. These lists are subjective and distinctly personal in nature, and they should reflect the impact each player had on you, the baseball fan, with his charisma and artistry.
How does he enhance your love of the game and define your standards of greatness? In compiling a top 10, where do you fall on the short, brilliant peak vs. sustained excellence end of the spectrum? Do you penalize a candidate for playing against inferior competition when baseball was segregated, or disqualify him for steroid use? Hey, it's your list, so feel free to follow your heart and mind and make the call.
This is my list. In the end, I leaned toward all-time greats who touched the game with their individuality as well as their numerical achievements. The late George "Boomer" Scott, my favorite player from the day he broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 1966, came up a little short.
10. Roberto Clemente
This is a truly personal choice based on memories of Clemente throwing out runners from the right-field wall and tearing around the bases during his peak with the Pittsburgh Pirates on the NBC "Game of the Week." Those 3,000 hits are a nice, round number, and Clemente was an extra-base machine even though he hit only 240 home runs in the big leagues. His 166 triples are the most by any player since 1950 -- ahead of Willie Wilson, Lou Brock and Willie Mays. Clemente played the game with what biographer David Maraniss described as a mixture of "fury and agitation.'' If you were lucky enough to see him, you'll never forget him.
What better guy to get our team off to a fast start than Rickey? He'll jack a ball into the seats to give our squad a 1-0 lead (his 81 homers to lead off a game are a record), or reach base via a walk (he drew 2,190 of them), or turn a single into a double or triple with a stolen base (his 1,406 steals are 468 more than Brock, who ranks second on the career list). Then he'll mix in a snatch catch and a couple of self-aggrandizing quotes to round out his day. The "Man of Steal" was born to compete, aggravate and entertain -- not necessarily in that order.