The Best Player in Every Major Sport
Every Major Sport's Best Athlete
The hot topic debate about who is the best player in each major sport is seemingly never ending. You can go to just about any sports talk page and there will be an endless list of threads with a range of media hype-filled morons to semiprofessional sabermetricians arguing for their favorite players
Part of the cause for all of the disagreement in these debates is miscommunication of what these “analysts” are actually arguing. So often, two people will be heatedly bickering about two players but base their opinions on totally separate criteria. As such, I am going to clarify any ambiguity on what matters in the decision making process to get to the players that will come in this slideshow.
As this article is about the best player in every major sport, let it be clear that I am referring to the best current player. None of this “Magic was better than Stockton” business or some other irrelevant nonsense need arise. From there, it is important to remember that every sport is different. What makes a player great in the NFL may not be the same as the qualities that make an athlete from a non-team sport a standout.
When it comes to the team sports, championships are important, but they are not the end all. Some of sports’ greatest champions like Patrick Ewing, Dan Marino and Ted Williams never actually won their league championship, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t some of the greatest of their time. Nevertheless, in the sports that have a smaller core of vital players, those athletes must step up statistically in order to be considered the greats. Further, you will not find any breakout athletes who have not proven themselves over at least a decent period of time. I don’t believe in holding stock in small sample sizes.
With all of that said, let’s not waste any more time and get to best of the best. Click the “Next” button above to start this slideshow of every sport’s best player. Make sure to comment about the ones you agree or disagree with and thanks for reading.
Baseball – Miguel Cabrera
Many sabermetricians would argue that Mike Trout has been the most impressive ball player the last couple years. He was the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up each of the last two seasons. You can certainly make an argument that he is statistically more valuable than Miguel Cabrera, but the Detroit Tigers’ star truly is the best player in MLB right now. Even the sabermatricians will tell you that Cabrera’s numbers are just as astronomical as Trout’s, but the difference is Cabrera has been doing his thing for a much longer time than the Los Angeles Angels outfielder.
Trout has been spectacular each of the two full seasons he has been in the majors, but Cabrera has been consistently excellent for the past 10 seasons. The 6-4 righty has never had a full MLB season with a batting average under .292 and is averaging over 35 home runs a year since his second season. Trout is fantastic, but Cabrera has been amazing for a long time and at only 30 years of age, he looks to continue his dominance for years to come.
Soccer – Lionel Messi
The argument between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best soccer player in the world is one of the hottest debates out there. Some fans try to throw Neymar's name into the mix, but the young star still has much to prove. The two veteran studs are so equally dominant that it is hard to differentiate their greatness. According to skysports.com, in their respective leagues and Champions League play since 2009-10, Messi has scored 217 goals while Ronaldo has netted 206.
Ronaldo did lead his native Portugal to a stronger showing at the 2010 World Cup, but their run was stopped short in a Round of 16 loss to the eventual champions, Spain. Although Messi led Argentina to the quarterfinals, they were trounced by Germany. Similar scoring, similar team performances and similarly excellent athletes make this an extremely tough choice. The slight edge goes to Messi for leading his Barcelona squad to the top of the table in the 2012-13 La Liga season and finishing as the far and away scoring leader.
Golf – Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods’ personal struggles over the past few years have been widely covered by the media, but he has been quietly returning to his winning ways in the process. In fact, Woods regained the World number one ranking in March. With his past dominance of the world of Golf, Woods stands to be a major player in every tournament he enters again. With eight Top 10 finishes in 2013, including five tournaments won, Woods is the PGA Tour leader again. True to form, Woods is resurfacing as the best golfer in the world.
Football – Tom Brady
You could make an argument for Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson or some other absolute stud in the NFL. Nevertheless, Tom Brady is the best football player because of his overall greatness. Brady has led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl five times since 2002 while winning three of those championship games. The most impressive part about these runs to the top is Brady’s lack of support.
The Patriots have had a great passing game for a long time, aided by a strong receiving core, but the absence of a standout running back and average to mediocre defensive units have forced Brady to get things done mostly on his own. Although his statistics may not be at the top of the list every year, Brady always competes at the elite level and his 161-49 career record as starting QB for the Patriots proves it. Plus, he convinced supermodel Gisele Bundchen to marry him; the guy is doing something right.
Hockey – Sidney Crosby
The NHL has been gifted with the pleasure of watching one of the rising stars of the hockey world over the last several years in Sidney Crosby. Although his last few seasons have been a bit injury plagued, Crosby’s 2013 performance has been back up to par with his impressive early seasons. Crosby leads the NHL in points and his team is first in their division and “Sid the kid” still has many years to assert his dominance on the hockey world.
Women’s Tennis – Serena Williams
Let’s just be honest. Picking Serena Williams to be the best female tennis player is almost a joke because there really is no other contender right now. Sure, she struggled for a little while after some health issues in 2011, but Williams has downright dominated her sport almost as much as any athlete in any sport in any time. After regaining the world number one ranking in 2013, Williams went on to win two major tournaments, bringing her Grand Slam singles titles total to 17. If you add on the 13 she has won in the double’s side of the tourney while she was winning the singles as well, Williams’ supremacy is mildly disturbing. Without a doubt, Serena Williams is the best female tennis player in the world.
Men’s Tennis – Novak Djokovic
This choice is much tougher to make than the female counterpart because the upper echelon of men’s tennis is slightly clustered. Although the choice really only comes down to choosing between Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, I had to go with Djokovic for his combination of consistent great play as well as potential future.
Federer is absolutely one of the best tennis players in history, but as he has been getting into his early 30s, his play has slumped. The Swiss star’s ranking has dropped to sixth and Federer has won only a single major tournament since 2010. Federer certainly has the track record of the past, but his recent play seems to be trailing off. Nadal, on the other hand, has seen a recent rise in his play, launching him back to the number one ranking after two Grand Slam titles in 2013. Nevertheless, the Spaniard’s niche seems to be winning on the clay courts while Djokovic can get it done all around. This was one of the harder choices to make, but Djokovic, the youngest of the three, gets the slight edge on these two champions.
Basketball – LeBron James
What does an NBA player need to be considered the best in the game? He needs high scoring, solid defense and the championship rings to back up his game. LeBron James has had the highlight reels wrapped around his giant hands since he joined the league, scoring at will and swatting opponents like flies. Now one of the most infamous players in the league has won back to back championships and it seems like he has it all going on. LeBron is the most dominant, all-around athletic and imposing player in the NBA.