Top 100 MLB players of all time

Illustration by ESPN

Who is the greatest baseball player ever? Who's in the top 5? The top 10? The top 50?

As long as fans come together at the ballpark and new stars continue to revolutionize the game, the debate over how to rank the best Major League Baseball players in history will never end. With no truly objective way to compare players from different eras or even on different teams or at different positions, there's no one right answer.

Still, as we await the end of the MLB lockout, we decided to give it a go with our list of the Top 100 MLB players of all time.

Below, you'll find our methodology, links to our lists and related stories, plus the full list itself.

How would your list look different?

The List: 100-51 | 50-26 | 25-1

Key links: Full rankings | Snubs | Debating our selections

Doolittle: The difficult case of Oscar Charleston

Olney: Which current stars are destined to join the list?

The Methodology

Based on career WAR, Hall of Fame status, peak performance and overall contributions to the game, we selected an initial pool of more than 200 players from both the major leagues and Negro Leagues, dating back to the late 19th century, plus a few of today's biggest stars.

From there, we asked dozens of ESPN editors and writers to contribute to a balloting system that pits players from the list against each other in head-to-head voting. The question we posed: "Based on a combination of career value and peak performance, which player would you rank higher?"

Would you choose Barry Bonds or Ted Williams? Mike Trout or Joe DiMaggio? Walter Johnson or Roger Clemens?

Our participants voted more than 20,000 times. Based on those votes, the players were ranked by the percentage of the time they were chosen over any competing player. Our No. 1 overall player, for example, was chosen 99% of the time. Our No. 100 player? He was taken 31% of the time. Despite that seemingly large range, the competition was fierce -- a single percentage point could raise or lower a player's ranking significantly.

The Top 100

Here is our list, which was revealed in three parts: Nos. 100-51, Nos. 50-26 and Nos. 25-1.