Showing posts with label All-Time Teams. Show all posts
There is something special, something sublime, about Little League Baseball. All of our parents bought the Picture Day packages that included the baseball cards made with our faces on them and many of us have even bought packages for our children and grandchildren. Little League baseball builds character, it expands horizons and, for many kids like me, it's where a child experiences his or her first career dream. Every young budding little leaguer dreams of playing under the bright lights and although the lights aren't quite as bright in Williamsport, PA as they are at Yankee Stadium, the Little League World Series (LLWS) is the goal for every Little Leaguer. Thousands of Little Leaguers have played in the LLWS since its inception in 1947 but very few have actually parlayed their Little League success into a Major League career so building an all-time roster from LLWS participants is a difficult task... But we never back down from a challenge and thought it would be fun to try. We checked into the Baseball Almanac archives and scoured the net for players that defied the odds and lived out the dream. Here's our list (we even found a relief pitcher with a 30 save season), enjoy!

C - Jason Varitek
1B- Boog Powell
2B- Ken Hubbs
SS- Larvell Blanks
3B- Carney Lansford
IF- Charlie Hayes
OF- Gary Sheffield
OF- Jason Bay
OF- Lastings Milledge
OF- Colby Rasmus
SP- Dwight Gooden
SP- Jason Marquis
SP- Rick Wise
RP- Dave Veres

Putting together the American League 1940s team was a little challenging due to a certain major event that occurred for the U.S. between 1941 and 1945. We've documented a few instances where military service has hampered a player's career stats, creating a what might have been scenario. Likewise, picking an all decade team when many great players missed nearly a third or more of it proved difficult. Given that, some leeway from our readers would be greatly appreciated.

Some that didn't make the cut but deserve credit include Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Hank Greenberg in the field, and Dutch Leonard on the mound. Doerr was seemingly the only back up for Ted Williams during the decade, and his numbers were very close to getting him on this team. Same is true for Johnny Pesky, who put up some great numbers after the war. Indeed, if you value runs and hits over power, then maybe Pesky is on your team. Hank Greenberg may be the most unlucky player we will come across as far as making an all decade team. In the 1930s, he was stuck behind Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Talk about tough to crack the lineup. He didn't quite play enough games in the OF to qualify there either. Like many others, he traded baseball service time for military service time. Upon returning to baseball, he was mixed between OF and 1B, and didn't quite qualify (per our requirments) for either position. Finally, Dutch Leonard, despite having a .500 record for the decade, made 4 all star games and had 4 top 20 MVP finishes. Now, onto the team! Here's the 1940s AL team of the decade.

C - Birdie Tebbets
1B - Rudy York
2B - Joe Gordon
3B - George Kell
SS - Lou Boudreau
IF - Vern Stephens
OF - Ted Williams
OF - Joe Dimaggio
OF - Tommy Heinrich
OF - Charlie Keller
SP - Bob Feller
SP - Hal Newhouser
SP - Allie Reynolds
SP - Spud Chandler
SP - Joe Page

Mr. Page has perhaps one of the most unfortunate nicknames in baseball history (The Gay Reliever). Certainly, the term meant something completely different in the 1940s. Boudreau, Williams, Dimaggio, Feller, and Newhouser are all locks for this team. There is some potential for open debate regarding other selections.
We finish our list of all time teams with the Florida Marlins. No particular reason, it was merely the last one left. The Marlins came into the National League along with the Colorado Rockies in 1993. It didn't take them long to put together a great team, and in 1997 they won their first World Series. Six years later, they added a second World Series title in 2003. Amazingly, both times winning the Fall Classic, the team started out as the Wild Card. The 1997 team had some nice veteran players like Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla, and Dutch Daulton making contributions toward the title. Pitching was key to that first championship too with Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, and a young Livan Hernandez pitching well down the stretch. The 2003 also adeptly mixed in solid pitching with veterans Carl Pavano and Mark Redmond and newcomers Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett coming on late in the season.

A sad fact of the team has always been their lack of drawing power in South Florida. It seems to be a football and basketball town with the Marlins a distant third. This has led to many "fire sales" where the team has traded off much of its talent after winning the titles. Through it all, the Fish always seem to put a competitive team on the field. Here are the best of the best in the 18 year history.

C - Charles Johnson
1B - Derek Lee
2B - Dan Uggla
SS - Hanley Ramirez
3B - Mike Lowell
OF - Miguel Cabrera
OF - Gary Sheffield
OF - Cliff Floyd
SP - Dontrelle Willis
SP - Josh Johnson
CL - Robb Nenn
Down to the final two All-Time teams. I'm rifling through these last few - taking a look at the Diamondbacks.

The D-backs have only been around since 1998 which makes them the youngest franchise in baseball (along with the Rays) and yet they have something that many franchises don't - a World Series ring (which they won in 2001).

There were a lot of pick 'ems. Guys like Tony Womack, Jay Bell, Damian Miller and Chris Young just missed the cut. But the biggest point of contention was starting pitcher. Do you take Curt Schilling and his two 20 win seasons and WS MVP or do you take Brandon Webb and his Cy Young? We went with Webb because his tenure is a little longer and although they had similar success, Webb has the only Cy Young.

C- Miguel Montero
1B- Conor Jackson
2B- Orlando Hudson
SS- Stephen Drew
3B- Matt Williams
OF- Luis Gonzalez
OF- Steve Finley
OF- Justin Upton
SP- Randy Johnson
SP- Brandon Webb
RP- Jose Valverde
Taking a look at the Rangers today and this one is sure to draw some ire.  The Rangers originated as the Washington Senators in 1961 (not the original Washington Senators which stakes claim to Hall of Famer Walter Johnson- that Washington Senators team relocated to Minnesota as the Twins in 1960).  Washington DC was awarded the team after the original Senators moved to Minnesota and remained in DC for 10 years before relocating to Arlington in 1971, where they became the Rangers.

The Rangers have one AL pennant to their name, which they earned last season, falling to the Giants in the World Series.  They have had some decent talent throughout the years and their current lineup contains a handful of players that could make this team some day. 

Let me start by saying that picking this team was a nightmare and it sparked a debate as to whether we should have done two all-time teams (one with an asterisk and one without).  I should further clarify that just because a player shows up on an all-time team doesn't mean that we've softened our stance on Hall of Fame worthiness.
The Seattle Mariners came into the American League in 1977 as an expansion team along with the Blue Jays. In their 33 year history, they have made the playoffs 4 times, all of which spanned the years of 1995 - 2001. They have yet to make a World Series appearance in their history. Despite their lack of major success, there are a few sure fire Hall of Fame players on their all time list.

C - Dan Wilson
1B - Alvin Davis
2B - Harold Reynolds
SS - Alex Rodriguez
3B - Adrian Beltre
OF - Ichiro Suzuki
OF - Ken Griffey Jr.
OF - Jay Buhner
DH - Edgar Martinez
SP - Jamie Moyer
SP - Randy Johnson
CL - Kazuhiro Sasaki
Taking a quick look at the Padres.  The Friars came into the league in 1969 sporting some of the ugliest jerseys in the business (with all due respect to those rainbow Astros jerseys of the mid to late 70's, the brown and yellow Padres unis were worse).  They've endured some success over the years, winning two NL pennants and five NL West division titles.  The All Time captain of this team is undoubtedly Tony Gwynn, who owns almost every record in franchise history; he has almost three times as many hits as the second person on the all-time franchise leaderboard and twice as many at bats as anyone else.  Besides Gwynn, the Padres don't boast many career-long studs.  The team contains players that put up numbers elsewhere.  We didn't have too much difficulty agreeing on this team except in the outfield where there was a case that could have been made for three or four guys over Brian Giles (if you can find a better name, please let me know) and third base where Caminiti* was passed up in favor of someone without the baggage.  We also favored A-Gon over Nate Colbert and I'm not sure how well that will be received by Padres faithful.  Gonzalez was the better all around player but his tenure was shorter and Colbert is one of only three position players in the Padres Hall of Fame (so it's tough to leave him off).  Randy Jones is the bona fide ace of this franchise All-Time team and Peavy is a deserving member, as well.  Here's our list.
Today, we're taking a look at the Washington Nationals All Time team.  The Washingon Nationals were transplanted from Montreal in 2005.  Prior to that, they were the Montreal Expos, formed in 1969.  The franchise has barely sniffed success in its 42 years of existence.  The Expos only postseason appearance came in the strike-shortened 1981 season.  They won the NL East title in that abridged year and won their first postseason series against the Phillies, 3-2, before falling to the Dodgers in the NLCS by the same margin.  Despite their limited history, this team is actually not too shabby and with a rising crop of young talent, it's not too crazy to think that this all-time team could be very formidable over the next couple of decades. 

We didn't run into too many snags picking this team.  We did leave off one Martinez (Pedro) because of a lack of tenure but kept 'El Presidente.'  Steve Rogers made the cut because of his longevity with the club and his postseason success; although Rogers is probably best known for giving up the game ending home run to Rick Monday which sealed the pennant for the Dodgers, he actually pitched extremely well in that postseason.  He started 3 games in the 1981 postseason and in those three games he threw three complete games and gave up 1 only earned run (his second earned run came in relief on the home run to Monday - a move still questioned today).  We left off a few names like Rusty Staub, Tim Wallach and Hubie Brooks but I like our list.  Tell us who we missed. 

C- Gary Carter
1B- Andres Galarraga
2B- Jose Vidro
SS- Orlando Cabrera
3B- Ryan Zimmerman
OF- Tim Raines
OF- Andre Dawson
OF- Vladimir Guerrero
SP- Dennis Martinez
SP- Steve Rogers
CL- Jeff Reardon
Houston spent their first three years as the Colt 45s. They came in under expansion along with the New York Mets in 1962. Although they have made the postseason 9 times, they have yet to take a World Series crown. In their only trip to the Fall Classic, the Astros were swept by the White Sox. Here's our list of all-time Astros including some suprises.

C - Craig Biggio
1B - Jeff Bagwell
2B - Joe Morgan
SS - Dickie Thon
3B - Doug Rader
OF - Lance Berkman
OF - Jose Cruz
OF - Cesar Cedeno
SP - J.R. Richard
SP - Roy Oswalt
CL - Billy Wagner

A couple of curve balls to this list starting with Biggio at catcher. He played over 400 games at the position which is good enough for us. Pitching has been fairly strong for this team and we left a HOF pitcher (Nolan Ryan) and a Cy Young winner (Mike Scott) off the list. Oswalt is a multiple 20 game winner and 2nd all time in team wins. His .636 winning percentage is also quite impressive. Although Ryan is a HOF pitcher, his best years were with the California Angels and Texas Rangers. He did win two ERA titles with Houston. Our selection of J.R. Richard is one of the few in which we factored in potential. Richard took a while to develop, but once he did, he was a force to be reckoned with. A tremendously feared pitcher during the early 80s, Richard put together 4 straight seasons of at least 18 wins. He also topped 300 strikeouts twice during that span, and seemed poised to continue dominating the league. A stroke derailed his career or he may have had a staggering career.
The Kansas City Royals came in as an expansion team in 1969, two years after the Athletics moved to Oakland. Many of those years have been full of hard luck as the Royals have struggled. They did have some highly successful years between 1976-1985. This time frame would see the Royals make the playoffs 7 times, losing a tough 1980 World Series to the Phillies and capturing their lone World Series win in 1985. In the 42 year history of the franchise, here is our list of the best players for the team.

C - Darrell Porter
1B - Mike Sweeney
2B - Frank White
SS - Freddie Patek
3B - George Brett
OF - Amos Otis
OF - Willie Wilson
OF - Hal McCrae
DH - Carlos Beltran
SP - Brett Saberhagen
SP - Dennis Leonard
CL - Dan Quisenberry
The Toronto Blue Jays formed in 1977 as an expansion of the American League. In their 33 year history, they have won 2 World Series going back to back in 1992 and 1993. Those teams were built to win with veterans like Paul Molitor, Rickey Henderson, and Dave Winfield having swan song years to gain rings. As with our other All Time teams, we place a premium on longevity with the team. Playing for only a year or two goes against the spirit of the all time team. The somewhat limited history also makes the team a little weaker than some of the older teams. Here are the best of the Blue Jays, and some debate points are prevalent.

C - Darrin Fletcher
1B - John Olerud
2B - Roberto Alomar
SS - Tony Fernandez
3B - Kelly Gruber
OF - George Bell
OF - Joe Carter
OF - Shawn Green
DH - Carlos Delgado
SP - Roy Halladay
SP - Dave Stieb
CL - Tom Henke

Originally we had Pat Borders, but I went a little off script as Fletcher had some decent years with the Jays batting .274 with them. Dave Stieb is a very underrated pitcher, not HOF or anything, but very good. 3B is weak, and we tried to find someone better to no avail. Who did we leave off that should warrant consideration?
Back to the NL... sort of. We're taking a look at the Brewers today. The Brewers' roots go back to the AL Seattle Pilots, in 1969. They played in Seattle for one season before Bud Selig acquired and relocated the team to Milwaukee where they would remain in the AL while assuming their current name, the Brewers.  It wasn't until 1998 that they would join the NL Central.  Because of their lack of history and success (no World Series trophies and only one WS appearance in 1982), the team is relatively weak  which means there were a lot of names to consider. Guys like Richie Sexson, Don Money and Gorman Thomas just missed the cut.  Starting pitching was especially weak. We took the Brewers franchise wins leader over Cy winner Pete Vuckovich and Mike Caldwell (although you could probably make an argument for both; one of my colleagues even argued for Ben Sheets). The current roster boasts some real talent and we included a couple of those names on our list despite their lack of longevity (we even added a DH to get one of those active names on our list; since the Brewers technically spent more time in the AL and may end up back in the AL if they do a realignment, we thought that was appropriate).  All in all, this was a tough one but we did it.  So check out our All Time Brewers team and tell us who we missed.
Back to the AL this week for our All-Time team. We're taking a look at the Twins. The Twins' roots go back to the Washington Senators; one of the eight original AL teams. They're also a very proud franchise that reveres loyalty. For those reasons, this team may be one of the best that we've put together. We had to pass up on a few really good pitchers (Johan Santana, Frank Viola and Jim Kaat) as well as some decent talent in the infield (Gary Gaetti and Zoilo Versalles). We didn't have to debate much because so many of the names on this list are "no doubt about it" talents. So here's our list, tell us what you think.

C- Joe Mauer
1B- Kent Hrbek
2B- Rod Carew
SS- Joe Cronin
3B- Harmon Killebrew
OF- Kirby Puckett
OF- Sam Rice
OF- Tony Oliva
DH- Mickey Vernon
SP- Walter Johnson
SP- Bert Blyleven
RP- Joe Nathan
The Reds are one of the original 8 teams and have a rich tradition of success. The Red Stockings, as they were once called, have had a multitude of hitting talent over the years and several key names did not make our list. You won't find Adam Dunn, either Griffey, or George Foster on the list. Pitching isn't particularly strong in Reds history, the only real weak position. Here's the team.

C - Johnny Bench
1B - Ted Kluszewski
2B - Joe Morgan
SS - Barry Larkin
3B - Tony Perez
OF - Frank Robinson
OF - Vada Pinson
OF - Pete Rose
SP - Don Gullet
SP - Bucky Walters
CL - John Franco

Perez played over 700 games at 3B, so he qualified there as far as we're concerned. Rose played everywhere, so he could have slid into a few spots. The race between Larkin and Dave Concepcion was closer than I thought. They were similar types of players, but Larkin was just a bit better and has an MVP award. Some arguments can be made in the outfield, but Vada Pinson seemed to be the most complete player after Robinson and Rose. Bucky Walters has an MVP award, and Don Gullet pitched very well for the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. All in all, a pretty complete team. What changes would you make?
Today, we're taking a look at the All-Time team for the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays have only been around for 12 years so it's no surprise that this team lacks the star power of some of the other All-Time teams that we have previously compiled.  Remarkably, the Rays have established an aura of success despite shipping away most of their free-agent talent and they boast one of the most exciting players in baseball.  Picking the team was pretty easy - we had some disagreement up the middle but since the pool of players was fairly small, there wasn't a lot of data to mull over.  Second base was essentially a 'pick 'em' of speed or power.  In the end, an all-star appearance was the differentiator (why we picked Bartlett over Jorge Cantu).  Some notable names left off of our list - Rocco Baldelli, Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco and the all-time franchise wins and innings pitched leader, James Shields.  So here's our list... tell us what you think.

C - Toby Hall
1B - Fred McGriff

The Dodgers are one of the proudest franchises in baseball history.  Their 21 National League pennants is tied for most all-time (with the Giants) and many great players have worn the Dodger Blue so picking the right names for the All-Time team was a bit of a challenge.  I think that there will be some debate here as there are quite a few worthy names out there that did not make our list but once we had all of the names laid out, it was fairly easy for us to agree on the cream of the crop.  Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Don Sutton, Orel Hersheiser, Mike Piazza and Davey Lopes didn't make the cut, yet they are revered figures in Dodger and baseball lore (which made leaving them off of our list even more painful).  The only real point of contention was relief pitcher; do you go with Eric Gagne who amassed huge numbers and a Cy Young over the course of three amazing seasons or the insanely reliable Ron Perranoski who was Major League Baseball's first relief pitcher to be credited with thirty saves in a season (and a remarkable season in 1963 in which he won 16 games as a reliever)?  In the eleventh hour, we decided to make an exception to our post-1920 rule for dead ball era Hall of Famer and all-time Dodgers hits/games played leader, Zack Wheat. 

So here is our list - enjoy and please let us know what you think.

The White Sox were somewhat difficult as they have had multiple Hall of Fame players at a few positions. It becomes very subjective based on one's own measures of greatness to choose between those players. When compiling these lists, we have tended to shy away from dead ball players, except for the legends (Cobb, Speaker, etc.). Trying to find legitimate "All-Time" caliber pitchers, however, proved difficult for the White Sox. They have not had much dominant pitching in the past 50 years. Buehrle is pretty good, McDowell won a Cy Young as did Wynn and Lamar Hoyt, but no dominating careers predominantly with the Sox. Outfield was surprisingly weak also given the team's long history. Here's my list for your scrutiny...

C - Carlton Fisk
1B - Paul Konerko
2B - Eddie Collins
SS - Luke Appling
3B - Robin Ventura
OF - Joe Jackson
OF - Harold Baines
OF - Magglio Ordonez
DH - Frank Thomas
SP - Ed Walsh
SP - Wilbur Wood
CL - Hoyt Wilhelm

I left at least 3 Hall of Famers off the list (Ray Schalk - C, Nellie Fox - 2B, and Luis Aparicio - SS). Ed Walsh was a dead ball era pitcher, but he is the career leader in ERA for all of MLB. I struggled with Joe Jackson for two reasons. His best years were with Cleveland, but he did hit .340 in parts of six years with Chicago. The other reason was his banishment for alleged cheating. Hersh and I have taken a hard line approach against proven steroid users as well as high probability users, to the point of excluding them from all time teams. Hitting .375 in the 1919 WS shows me that he didn't let up, so I picked him for the team. If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it.

Interesting side note: Hard to believe the #3 all time leader in batting average (Joe Jackson) never won a batting title.
Back to the NL for another all time team. This one pained my quite a bit as we had to leave off a hall of famer (Eddie Matthews) due to our rule of DH in the AL only. It further pained me because that guy who supplanted Matthews checks in as my most hated player of all time. As much as I loathe him, however, I can't argue that his numbers are better. With that, here's the list.

C - Joe Torre
1B - Joe Adcock
2B - Felix Millan
SS - Rafael Furcal
3B - Chipper Jones
OF - Dale Murphy
OF - Andruw Jones
OF - Hank Aaron
SP - Warren Spahn
SP - Greg Maddux
CL - John Smoltz

Middle of the diamond has not been a historical strong suit for the Braves over the years. We looked at HOF Rabbit Maranville, but he didn't play that great with the Braves. Tough to leave Glavine off the list, but he fell just shy. Brian McCann may end up being the best Atlanta catcher of all time, but he's not quite there yet.
The Angels have a shorter history than most teams, coming into play in the early '60s.  The team is kind of weak compared to some teams we've done.  There have been some really good pitching over the years.  Dean Chance had a tremendous year in 1964, winning the CY Young and throwing 11 shutouts.  Then came Nolan Ryan and history was made.  Here's our team:
C-Bob Boone
1B-Rod Carew
2B-Bobby Grich
SS-Jim Fregosi
3B-Troy Glaus
OF-Garret Andersen
Of-Vlad Guerrero
OF-Tim Salmon
DH-Brian Downing
SP-Nolan Ryan
SP-Chuck Finley
Cl-Troy Percival
Continuing on with our All-Time teams, we're talking Cubbies today.  Another storied franchise ripe with history and talent.  It has been a while since the Cubs have won a championship but many great players have donned the Red Cubs C.  Picking this team was fairly easy and you'll find hall of famers at almost every position (the ultimate hall of fame snub; Ron Santo at third base... tried not to go there but couldn't help it).  The only issue that I ran into was in the outfield where I went back and forth between Sammy Sosa and Andre Dawson (my colleagues staunchly disagree and I get it but my stance is what it is).  In the end, I included Sosa on my list because of his achievements as a Cub over the course of thirteen seasons compared to what Andre Dawson did in six.  He hit more HR as a Cub than any other Cubbie in history and ranks among the top ten on the Cubs leaderboard in hits and RBI.  The baggage here is heavy and the decision wasn't easy for me (admittedly, Andre Dawson is one of my favorite players) but I've gotta stick to my guns.  So, without further adieu, check out the all-time Cubs roster and tell me what you think.
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