All-Decade Team: 1980's NL

Today, we're taking a look at the NL representatives for the 1980's All-Decade team. This team was probably our easiest all-decade team to compile since embarking on this journey. Truth be told, the 1980's crop just wasn't as deep as some of the decades that came before it. It also seems as though there were more league swapping players in the 1980's, perhaps a result of the emergence of free agency.  Despite the lack of depth, there is still plenty of talent on the 1980's NL roster; the team features seven Hall of Famers and a roster full of guys with arguments. The only point of contention among position players was the dreaded utility infield position. We begrudgingly settled on Tim Wallach, unable to find a more deserving player. Hersh had fun throwing out names like Andy Van Slyke, Steve Jeltz and Juan Samuel. The only other deserving name that I could come up with was Jack Clark. In the end, we went with Wallach because he was a little more versatile and a better fielder. Whether that choice was correct is certainly debatable but that's our guy and we would challenge you to tell us why we're wrong (or go ahead and find a better name).

For the 80's NL pitching staff, there were a few guys that jumped out at us before we hit a roadblock for our fourth starter. We went with Mike Scott over Nolan Ryan and Bob Welch because Scott did win a Cy in the decade (the only one out of the three with the hardware) and while Welch might have a better overall resume, by the numbers, it's tough to overlook the fact that Welch was arguably the third best starter on his own team for most of the decade. Ryan had the strikeouts but the 1980's weren't his best decade and the numbers were close enough that we felt comfortable going with Scott, here (Ryan made our 1970's AL Squad).  The rotation doesn't boast a single Hall of Famer but Gooden, Valenzuela and Hershiser were as good as any pitcher to ever toe the mound, in their primes.

Without further adieu, here's our squad.  Tell us what you think:

C - Gary Carter
1B - Keith Hernandez
2B - Ryne Sandberg
3B - Mike Schmidt
SS - Ozzie Smith
IF - Tim Wallach
OF - Tony Gwynn
OF - Andre Dawson
OF - Tim Raines
OF - Dale Murphy
SP - Orel Hershiser
SP - Fernando Valenzuela
SP - Dwight Gooden
SP - Mike Scott
RP - Bruce Sutter

Looking at this team, what I find most interesting is that there are four guys that had great prime years and one who was about as consistent as they come - none with shrines in Cooperstown.  All five players have found themselves on the outside looking in (Hernandez, Murphy, Hershiser, Gooden and Valenzuela).  That is the most that I can remember from any of our previous teams.  I would be surprised if none of them earned induction by way of the veterans committee down the road.  Besides the numbers, each of them has a very intriguing story to go along with their arguments; Fernando-Mania is one of the greatest chapters in baseball lore, Doctor K (Dwight Gooden) took the baseball world by storm, Keith Hernandez is still considered by many to be the greatest defensive first baseman of all-time, Dale Murphy has his two MVP's and Orel Hershiser is a life long baseball guy (the kind of guy that typically finds his way into Cooperstown, eventually).  Great players with great primes who didn't amass the cumulative numbers (they didn't have those "ok" stick-around years... they fell off and fell off hard).  My $0.02.


  1. I had mentioned Carlton for he had won 2 CY's in 80' and 82', but by 84' he was no longer effective. Other relievers I considered were Tekulve and Lee Smith, but Sutter won every debate to me.

  2. I still think it's criminal that Murph isn't in the HOF!

  3. Murph cracked our All-Time Braves roster (not an easy task), as well... two All-Time teams for Murph. His prime years were as good as anyone's - two MVP's, five GG's and four SS's over a five-year span. There are certainly worse players in the Hall right now... his career path is similar to that of Chase Utley. Late on the scene followed by mid 20's surge leading to most calling them sure thing HOF'ers up until their early 30's, at which point the wheels fall off. I'd probably say no to Murph but it's a close call and my colleagues might disagree with my sentiment.

    Thanks for commenting, Tony Mac.


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