Monday, January 21, 2008

All-90s Team

Because these are the kind of things I think about, here is a squad of the best baseball players during the 1990s:

Catcher-

Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers- A difficult choice that basically boils down to do you value offense or defense more. In catchers, I prefer strong defense, though it is not like "Pudge" is some slouch with the stick. Rodriguez is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the best all-around catchers to ever play the game

Runners up:

Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers/Florida Marlins/New York Mets- Better offensively than Rodriguez but merely average at best defensively. But still a Hall of Famer.

Chris Hoiles, Baltimore Orioles- Yes. That Chris Hoiles. Hoiles actually was a pretty solid player, hitting the second most HRs by a catcher that decade and being a good backstop for a few good Orioles teams.

Goofiest Player:

Darren Daulton
, Philadelphia Phillies/Florida Marlins- Nicknamed "Dutch," here is an excerpt from Daulton's Wikipedia entry: "Daulton holds a series of beliefs related to metaphysics, and numerology. He has authored a book titled "If They Only Knew," published in 2007. In the book he discusses numerous aspects of metaphysics, referencing experts in the field, and his personal experiences." Can't make that up.

1st Baseman-

Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox- Don't let anybody tell you otherwise: Frank Thomas was an absolute freak. There aren't many guys out there who could claim a .332/.452/.609 BA/OBP/SLG line for an entire decade (that SLG is particularly absurd). All while being big enough to participate in cage fights versus grizzly bears.

Runners Up:

Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros- With apologies to Craig Biggio, the squatsman is the best player in Astros history. He was one of the most prolific and consistent hitters of the decade in addition to sporting a good glove.

Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics/St. Louis Cardinals- Say what you like about his steroid issues, Big Mac could mash. And let us not forget how we praised him as the savior of baseball back in '98.

Goofiest Player:

Mo Vaughn, Boston Red Sox/Anaheim Angels- Vaughn was actually a pretty good player for a while, but he is better known for being severely obese. Most people assume that the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the National League after the '97 season, but actually Big Mo simply ate them on a late season road trip.

2nd Baseman-

Craig Biggio, Houston Astros- Biggio combined with Bagwell to form one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball history during the 90s. Biggio was a prototypical leadoff man with good power and a good glove.

Runners Up:

Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs- A Hall of Famer, Sandberg did everything for the Cubbies, who were often pretty terrible in the 90s. He actually was a very similar player to Biggio, but Biggio played his prime throughout the 90s whereas Sandberg was in the tail end of his career by the middle of the decade.

Roberto Alomar, San Diego Padres/Toronto Blue Jays/Baltimore Orioles/Cleveland Indians- Arguably the best fielding 2nd basemen ever, Alomar was an incredibly valuable player to his teams that provided a great glove and a bat that could fit almost anywhere in any lineup.

Goofiest Player:

Delino DeShields, Montreal Expos/Los Angeles Dodgers/St. Louis Cardinals/Baltimore Orioles- First off, his name is Delino DeShields. Secondly, he always looked like a crack addict. Third, his son (also Delino DeShields) is apparently so good at baseball he was being scouted as a 12 year old.

3rd Basemen-

Chipper Jones
, Atlanta Braves- A 5-tool player and the most important position player during the Braves incredible 14 consecutive division wins, Chipper must be considered one of the best 3rd basemen of all time.

Runners Up:

Vinny Castilla, Atlanta Braves/Colorado Rockies- Yes, he is almost entirely a product of Coors Field, but he still was productive while up there. In addition, he provided good defense and was often one of the most mullety players out there.

Matt Williams, San Francisco Giants/Cleveland Indians/Arizona Diamondbacks- The ultimate "what if" player, Williams had 43 HRs in just 112 games before the 1994 season was shortened because of a players' strike. While he didn't rewrite the record books, Williams did, however, put up solid numbers every season of the decade when healthy.

Goofiest Player:

Chris Sabo, Cincinnati Reds/Baltimore Orioles/Chicago White Sox/St. Louis Cardinals- Look at that picture and try not to laugh.

Shortstop:

Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles- Probably the toughest decision here between Cal and my first runner up, with Cal getting the edge because he logged more games during the decade and played for my team. But there is nothing more to be said about the man that hasn't already. He is simply one of the greatest of all-time at any position.

Runners Up:

Alex Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners- In 1997, ARod put up a line of .300/.350/.496 with 23 HRs, 29 SBs, and great defense. That was ARod's worst season. No doubt about it: Alex Rodriguez is better than you at baseball, no matter who you are.

Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds- Perennially underrated, Larkin was the finest offensive shortstop in the National League for 15 years. Always a good glove man, Larkin provided great offensive numbers at the top of the Reds order for years.


Goofiest Player:

Ozzie Guillen
, Chicago White Sox/Atlanta Braves/Baltimore Orioles- There were many to choose from (Gary DiSarcina, Shawon Dunston, Neifi Perez) but Guillen gets the award for goofiest because of his tirades as the White Sox current manager.


Outfielders-

Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners- Until injuries killed his speed and playing time in later seasons, Junior was thought of as not only the best player of the 90s, but potentially all-time. Griffey was a superstar who could do it all. One of the finest defensive outfielders ever, Griffey routinely made spectacular plays (including one of the only two plays I've seen in person that left me speechless: the catch at 1:11, the other was a mammoth homerun by Aramis Ramirez that hit RFK Stadium's upper deck while still rising) and was an always stellar hitter. You are absolutely fooling yourself if you claim that anyone other than Junior was the best player in the 90s.

Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates/San Francisco Giants- Doesn't matter whether or not he took steroids (especially as he wasn't allegedly juicing during most of the 90s), Barry Bonds was a Hall of Famer even if you take away his post 2000 numbers. In addition, the man almost single handedly kept baseball in San Francisco (after the '92 season, the Giants were supposed to be moved to St. Petersburg, FL, the current home of the Tampa Bay Rays, the signing of Bonds to a record deal kept interest in the Giants high enough in SF that the move was blocked).

Albert Belle, Cleveland Indians/Chicago White Sox/Baltimore Orioles- Recently, many writers have attempted to justify electing Jim Rice into the Hall of Fame (thankfully it hasn't worked) by saying that he was the most feared hitter of his time. While this is a weak argument, mostly because feared doesn't equal production and Rice, quite frankly, wasn't even that "feared", there may not be a more feared man from the 90s than Belle. Belle was not only an incredibly dominant hitter (becoming only the 4th man with 8 consecutive 30 HR/100 RBI seasons, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gerhig, and is Belle is still the only man to hit 50HR and 50 doubles in the same season) but he was also a huge asshole (see the "Controversy" section of his Wikipedia bio). Still, Belle was one of the best players of the '90s and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but isn't because of his surliness with the media despite having almost identical numbers to Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who also only played about 10 years due to injuries.

Runners Up:

Juan Gonzalez
, Texas Rangers- Gonzalez was a two time MVP during the 90s (perhaps undeservedly as the award probably should have gone to ARod in '96 and Belle in '98) and one of the finest hitters during the decade. He also turned down one of the largest contracts ever offered when the Detroit Tigers were to give him over $100 million guaranteed, but he didn't want to play for the horrendous Tigers.

Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres- Gwynn was pretty good at that whole hitting the baseball thing. He won an NL record 8 batting titles and only once hit below .309 (his rookie season, where he hit an abysmal .289). In addition, he was surprisingly quick on the base paths, once even stealing 56 bases in a season (though obesity eventually set in and robbed him of his speed). Gwynn is also the only Padre in the Hall of Fame (although that will likely change whenever Trevor Hoffman is elected).

Sammy Sosa, Chicago White Sox/Chicago Cubs- Really his entry here is the same as McGwire's above. Sosa was always a good player who really exploded in '98. Sosa did end up with the 2nd most HRs of any OF of the 90s (after Junior) and threw in 172 SBs as well.

Goofiest Player:

Rickey Henderson, Oakland Athletics/Toronto Blue Jays/San Diego Padres/Anaheim Angels/New York Mets- Rickey could probably win this award for all-time. Obviously a great player, Rickey was an even greater personality who would often refer to himself in the third person in addition to other shenanigans.

And so that's it. I may do pitchers later or I may just list the 5 best starters below in no particular order without giving any explanation and let you figure that out.

Randy Johnson
Roger Clemens
Mike Mussina
Greg Maddux
Pedro Martinez

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Edgar Martinez, the consummate DH as well as a consummate human being. But really if you only draw one thing out of this, it is that I clearly have no life.

5 comments:

Nico Suave said...

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....is this your post-graduate dissertation? be honest

wow. to call this in-depth would be like calling Donald Trump medium. It's YUGE.

Benjo, the one without pants said...

it actually was a lot longer...my piece on belle being in the hall of fame was about 3 times longer than it is now until i realized how absurd that is

SAMUEL ROYSTON JOHANNES said...

im kinda disappointed that there was no:


rusty greer
dante bichette
john jaha

mango said...

sal fasano.

Ryan said...

I have to agree with all your selections...exepts a-rod because a-rod was only great 95 and beyond. so i was thinking id think of a list of the best players 95-05
1b. Carlos Delgado ...R.b.i machine
2b. Hard one but i'll go with jeff kent.. i think i regret it only cause biggio had a much better career.
3b. Chipper if he diddnt cuk so much 03-05 so i'l go with Scott Rolen. verry underrated 95-00 b4 he was MV3
S.S NooMAAAH! was amazing for 3-4 years but because of injury a-roid will take it
OF Manny Ramirez...Run machine, has a shot at most all time rbi's
OF. Andruw jones because i refuse to put bonds in
0F. Mind fart... umm ill trow in sammy sosa just because he was so entertaining to watch but was only great 98-03

honorable menions, Frank thomas,bonds,jim thome,garry sheffield, mike piazza,todd helton, kenny lofton,