Monday was Willie Mays' 93rd birthday. He merits strong consideration as the greatest baseball player ever. 

If you consider all five tools, Mays could do everything: Speed, fielding, arm, hit for average, hit for power. (Oneil Cruz also has all five of these. He's just got no idea what to do with them.)

Some of those attributes get underestimated now. Power has taken over baseball. Analytics have, too. You'd want a player who walks a lot over a player that flies around the basepaths.

The best pure hitters were probably Ted Williams, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth.

But the top five best all-around baseball players might be:

  1. Willie Mays
  2. Babe Ruth
  3. Ted Williams
  4. Barry Bonds
  5. Hank Aaron

Perhaps Mickey Mantle should be on that list. Imagine if he hadn't hurt his knee in 1951, robbing him of his lightning speed.

If you give speed, fielding and arm equal value, Roberto Clemente is close to being on that list. Clemente had the greatest arm ever.

Mays was the best outfielder for range and glove. Clemente had the best arm. Williams was the best pure hitter. Ruth had the most power. Rickey Henderson was likely the fastest.

Williams missed three full seasons while serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, two more while serving in Korea. That cost him at least 150 home runs. Williams finished with 521 homers, so not serving might have got him close to Ruth's then-record of 714 career home runs.

But serving made Williams an even bigger badass than he already was.

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Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images News / Getty Images

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