All-Decade Team: 1990's NL

We're getting close to wrapping up our all-decade teams.  This decade has presented us with some challenges.  As Mc mentioned in the 1990's AL post, we tried to independently evaluate each player and position given the facts and circumstances.  With regards to the use of performance enhancing drugs, we weighed the numbers of known users against alternates that we assumed were clean (or apparently benefited less).  We used an "eye" test to ascertain how much the player may have benefited from using performance enhancing drugs; while we can't know for certain whether players like Barry Larkin and Mark Grace took drugs, there is nothing there to suggest that they did and if they did, their use did not result in any significant mind-boggling enhancement in production.  Some players, like Barry Bonds, were great players without the drugs while some players were great players because of the drugs.  That distinction is a big reason why we chose to omit some while keeping others.  It really is a case by case decision, when it comes to picking these teams.  The selection of a player doesn't imply that we think their numbers should be evaluated on a fair plane to those that didn't cheat to get ahead, it just means that we recognize that it's impossible to know for sure who took what and how much they took during this particular era.  There are big assumptions being made here; don't let that get in the way of what this exercise is about.  We have attempted to produce a roster that best represents the National League in the 1990's; the best players that best represent this decade.

This was also the first decade that we had to think about the Coors factor.  We had to pass up on some well deserving names and like it or not, we factored in their Coors adjusted stats.  Vinny Castilla and Andres Gallaraga were certainly worthy of consideration in the infield but we went with Mark Grace, who led the decade in hits and Matt Williams, who we felt was one of the best all-around players at his position.  In the outfield, we bypassed Marquis Grissom and Moises Alou for Larry Walker as we felt that he did enough away from Coors to warrant the consideration over the speedster, Grissom, and one of the more under appreciated players of this decade, Alou.

The starting pitching came down to a pick two of John Smoltz, Curt Schilling and Kevin Brown.  While Brown was certainly the most dominant of the three during his time spent in the NL (he posted a remarkable 2.50 ERA, 1.180 WHIP to go along with a 66% winning percentage), he only spent four seasons in the NL in the 1990's so the sample size was small and the cumulative nod went to Schilling and Smoltz.  When you looked at his time spent in the AL in the 1990's, it gave you a better picture of who he really was, as the numbers were normalized a bit (3.25 ERA, 1.226 WHIP).  Schilling and Smoltz were every bit as good as Brown for the entire decade but what made it hard is that Brown's prime years were the four years he spent in the NL.  In the end, we went with the cumulative numbers of Schilling and Smoltz.  We were also swayed looking ahead, recognizing that it is going to be tough for either pitcher to make a squad in the 2000's.  Smoltz and Schilling were great pitchers deserving of an all-decade nomination.

Picking a relief pitcher also proved to be difficult.  My knee-jerk reaction was that it would be Trevor Hoffman or Lee Smith (the two guys that rank number 2 and number 3, respectively, on the all-time saves list) but Mc threw out John Franco and upon further review, it was agreed upon that Franco was probably the best pick.  Franco had more saves than Lee and Hoffman in the NL in the 90's and was a beacon of consistency.  He posted a sub 3.00 ERA for the decade and though he didn't have a 40 or 50 save season, he did post seven seasons in the decade of 20 saves or more.  

So here's our full roster, let us know where we missed.

IF - Mark Grace
OF - Larry Walker
RP - John Franco


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