Most proven, possibly most influential, would be Heatwave IMO. Hard to find a bull with out a bloodline connected back to him. But he is hard on cows with high birth-weights and your looking at $200-$300 a straw for the original heatwave. (Lots of cheeper clones out there) Possibly the most versatile also, Hair and slick.
Best all depends on what your trying to do with a bull. Slick, hair, steers, or heifers. Some bulls are better than others depending on what your trying to make.
I think Cattle.com is the site that you can look at a bulls offspring total sales from online auctions. It’s not an exact science but you can get an idea.
It all depends on the cow you’re breeding. None of them are the same, be honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your cow then match your bull to her. We still have a couple older cows that are Full Flushes out of Total Play dams and they have to be bred to bulls that will take the air out from under them and add guts. They are best bred to Monopoly or one of his sons like MAB. If I’d have bred them to HIA then they’d have tons of power, but be rail gutted. A lot of the catalogs have decent info in them. Wade Rodgers sells a lot of semen because he knows what works on his bulls and publishes it. Mike Weidner at Top Sires is a wealth of information, he also publishes a lot of his info in his catalog. Best advice I ever got was to know pedigrees and how they typically breed. You learn this by studying sales, going to shows and see what’s working and what’s not. If you’re going to base a breeding decision off a blog recommendation you haven’t done enough homework.
The really successful outfits like Griswold, Yardley, Dunklau, Sullivan and Winegardner have great cow families all because they do their homework. Boyert’s sold two ET Broker daughters out of a $5,000 heifer for over $250,000. It didn’t happen by chance, if it was easy we’d all be selling them.