A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
My MLB Dream Team
What fascinates fans is that there is no right or wrong answer, thus the perpetuation of the argument and the historic relevance of players in Major League Baseball, unlike any other professional or amateur sport.
And while statistics do not necessarily tell the whole story, they remain the foundation for feats accomplished by the greatest in the game, and arguably still our national pastime.
Moreover, baseball would not be the game that it has remained for well over 100 years without its intangibles and its stern attention to detail.
It has been said time and time again that baseball is a game of inches and most importantly a game consumed with the little things. And in that respect, it makes for a difficult argument for the best team historically.
Admit it. As fans, we are biased about our teams and especially partial as it comes to our favorite players. So here is but another take on some storied players, although many, many others could have been chosen, but this group would have made for one terrific run…
A team is largely an amalgam of several important components. Such has not changed over the years, although the formulas used to get there certainly have.
Good pitching, defense and an offensive threat at any point in the game are the largest factors. Managerial strategies and team cohesiveness cannot be dismissed. Yet, when compiling an All Star type team, there is less of a need to make up for more normal roster deficiencies.
This choice of players is especially strong on defense, power pitching, selective and timely hitting, for both power and average, in addition to speed on the bases.
It is a National League style roster where the batter would typically hit, although we have not allowed for double switches since we only had the choice of one relief pitcher in the bull pen.
The lineup is as follows:
- Ozzie Smith, SS
- Pete Rose, 1B
- Joe Morgan, 2B
- Frank Robinson, RF
- Joe DiMaggio, CF
- Carl Yastrzemski, LF
- Gary Carter, C
- Brooks Robinson. 3B
The starting rotation is as follows:
- Tom Seaver – RHP
- Nolan Ryan – RHP
- Steve Carlton – LHP
- Catfish Hunter – RHP
- Ron Guidry – LHP
Goose Gossage – RHP
We will start with some stats and offer some distinctive characteristics of each player, who comprise this wish list of an all-time team:
- Ozzie Smith – Shortstop
‘Wizard of Oz’ Bats R/Throws R
Seasons played: 19 (1978-1996)
Teams: San Diego Padres: 1978-81; St. Louis Cardinals: 1982-96
Career: BA SLG% OBP FLDG% SB Hits
.262 .328 .337 x-.978 580 2460
x-Led in Fielding % 7 seasons
Awards: Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame: 2002; World Series Champion 1982 – St. Louis
13 consecutive NL Gold Gloves – SS 1980-1992 NL Silver Slugger – 1987 (.303 BA)
12x All Star 5x NL MVP NL NLCS MVP – 1985
Ozzie Smith’s triumphs have been well documented, yet his stats do not tell the entire story. His ability to create havoc on the base paths with his speed and his innate baseball sense lent depth to his game. Although one of the best shortstops in MLB history, Smith was often criticized for his lack of offense. But that was put to rest somewhat when he came through with key hits and by raising his batting average to .303 in 1987 when he won a Silver Slugger Ward.
Smith was on the 1982 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals team which manager Whitey Herzog built upon speed, defense and timely hitting. And perhaps Ozzie would not have been as effective over a long career at short had it been a requirement that he hit for average and/or power day in and day out like many of today’s shortstops. But that does not take away from the magnitude of his contributions to the game.
- Pete Rose – 1B
‘Charlie Hustle’ Bats L&R/Throws R
Pete Rose will be most remembered as the hit king with a career total of 4,256 and will most likely take to his grave having the most hits in the history of MLB. He eclipsed Ty Cobb’s record of most hits, with hit number 4, 193 at the end of the 1985 season, while finishing out his career with the Cincinnati Reds, his original team.
Seasons played: 24 (1963-1986) Player/Manager Cincinnati Reds 1985-1986
Teams: Cincinnati Reds 1963-78; Philadelphia Phillies 1979-83; Montreal Expos 1984,Cincinnati Reds 1984-86
Career: BA OBP SLG% Hits FLDG%
.303 .375 .409 4,256 .987
Awards: 1963 NL Rookie of the Year; NL MVP 1973; World Series MVP 1975;
NL Gold Glove – Outfield – 1969, 1970; 17 All Star Team appearances; Batting titles: NL 1968, 1969 & 1973; 1968 No.1 in OBP; NL Silver Slugger Award 1981- Philadelphia Phillies
World Series Champion 1975, 1976 Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies 1980
Pete Rose, undeniably one the most successful MLB players in history who exhibited a hard nose, no nonsense playing style, required necessary preparation to make up for less natural talent than many of his contemporaries had. A number 2 hitter throughout his career, Pete consistently got on base. He was the consummate switch hitter who became the only player to play 500 games at five different positions:
1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF. His never let up hustle earned him the name, Charlie Hustle, and he revived the head-first slide, a regular element of the game today, and Pete always ran to first base after getting a walk.
Second all-time in doubles, Pete’s 100 hits or more for 23 straight seasons remains a record. He led the NL in hits for 7 seasons and had 15 consecutive .300 seasons. His NL 44 game hitting streak still stands today.
Whether on the prolific Big Red Machine of the 1970′s or with the underachieving Phillies when he first arrived there, Rose gave more than 100%. His persona preceded him and his post-playing gambling career dogged him for 20 years into his retirement, yet his combination of strong-headedness and determination created a stellar career, nonetheless.
Joe Morgan – 2B
‘Little Joe’ Bats L/Throws R
Joe Morgan started his career in Houston in the then new Astrodome, where he played for 9 years. However, it was with the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine where he was acknowledged most for being one of the most versatile 2nd baseman in the history of the game, in spite of his small stature. His power was best accommodated in Riverfront Stadium where he earned NL MVP status in 1975 and 1976. He and his teammates won the World Series against the Red Sox in 1975 and against the Yankees in 1976.
Seasons: 22 (1963-1984)
Teams: Houston Astros 1963-1984; Cincinnati Reds 1972-1979; Houston Astros 1980; San Francisco Giants 1981-1982; Philadelphia Phillies 1983; Oakland Athletics 1984
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame: 1990
Career: BA OBP SLG% FLDG% SB Hits HR
.271 .392 .427 .981 689 2517 268
1st NL in SLG% – 1976: .576; 1st in NL OBP – 1972, 1974-1976
Awards: 9x All Star Team; NL Silver Slugger Award – 1982; 5x NL Gold Glove Award – 2B
World Series Champion 1975 & 1976 Cincinnati Reds
Little Joe’s best season for stats was 1975. He led the NL in walks with 132 with a .327 batting average, 17 home runs, 94 RBI and 67 stolen bases. That earned him his eventual first MVP and was an example of his dynamism coming out of the 3-hole.
Frank Robinson – RF (originally a Left Fielder)
Bats R/Throws R
Also a player that took no guff, Frank Robinson set the tone on all of the teams on which he played. A champion of the Civil Rights era, Robinson played by example and carried Jackie Robinson’s torch proudly.
Becoming the first African-American player/manager and the only African American manager in both the American and National Leagues, he became the Manager of the Year in 1989. Robinson’s career was stellar. He most notably was the only player to win MVP honors in both the NL – with Cincinnati in 1961 and in the AL in 1966 with Baltimore.
Season: 21 (1956-1976) Cincinnati Reds 1956-1965; Baltimore Orioles 1966-1971; LA Dodgers 1972;
1973-1974 California Angels; 1975-1976 Cleveland Indians
Career: BA OBP SLG% Hits HR FLDG%
.294 .389 .537 2943 586 .984
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame: 1982
Awards: Triple Crown 1966 (1st winner after Mickey Mantle in 1956); World Series MVP 1966 (Baltimore)
NL MVP – 1961, 1966; 12x All Star; NL Gold Glove – LF 1958; NL Rookie of the Year 1956 (Cincinnati)
No. 1 NL SLG% 1960 – .595, 1961 – .611, 1962 – .624, 1966 .624
Robinson’s no let-up attitude earned him a reputation for crowding the plate; when as a rookie he was hit 20 times. Back then, there was no such thing as body armor, overused today, so you knew that his brawn and not being intimidated was but a preface for what we saw throughout Robinson’s career. He eventually went back to manage the Baltimore Orioles from 1988-91 after his player/manager stint with the Cleveland Indians from 1975-1976. His Manager of the Year Award came in Baltimore in 1989.
Joe DiMaggio – CF
‘The Yankee Clipper’Bats R/Throws R
Joe DiMaggio is arguably the best all-around player ever, whose understated manner made his feats even more remarkable. Unlike many of today’s players, he went about his business shining on the field in a multitude of ways and setting records year in and year out. In spite of a hiatus in his career of 3 years to serve in World War II, he finished his playing days after a total of only 13 years.
Seasons: 13 (1936-1942) (1946-1951)
Team: New York Yankees
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame – 1955
Career: BA OBP SLG% FLDG% Hits HR
.325 .398 .579 .978 2214 361
Awards: 13x All Star; 9x World Series Champion – NY Yankees – 1936-1939, 1941, 1947, 1949-1951
AL MVP – 1939, 1941, 1947; AL 1st Slugging% – 1937: .673; AL 1st Batting – 1939 – .381&1940 .352
AL 1st HR -1937: 46 & 1948: 39
Perhaps Joe D will be best remembered for his yet to be broken 56 game hitting streak in the spring of 1941. But his defensive skills -with only 1 error for the entire 1947 season – running the bases know-how, his strong arm and home run record in the then very expansive Yankee Stadium, set him apart from his fellow players. He is often cited as a legend, but Joe was the real deal.
Gary Carter – Catcher
‘The Kid’ Bats R/Throws R
Gary Carter played a resilient back-stop for 19 major league seasons; a remarkable stint for a catcher, who never failed to deliver offensively, but another feat. In spite of the grueling regimen and the late career injuries he withstood, Carter was perhaps best known for his charismatic smile, his upbeat attitude and utmost cooperation with the press; the latter sometimes critically portrayed.
Just 15 years since his retirement, those members of the press wont to criticize such open access which Carter allowed are probably those who now incessantly complain about the lack access to today’s players.
Seasons: 19 (1974-1992) 1974-1984 -Montreal Expos, 1985-1989 – NY Mets, 1990 – San Fran Giants
1991- LA Dodgers, 1992 – Montreal Expos
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame – 2003
Career: BA OBP SLG% HR Hits FLDG%
.262 .335 .439 324 2092 .991
Awards: 11x All Star; NL Gold Glove – C 1980-1982; 5x Silver Slugger Award
NL 1st in RBI- 1984: 106; World Series Champion – NY Mets 1986
Carter’s offensive skills and clutch hitting was one of his trademarks, along with his career 10 Grand Slams. But it was his handling of pitchers, especially the young and raw talent of the rotation and relief pitchers on the NY Mets, on their way to a World Championship in 1986, which made Carter especially valuable. His defensive skills were often compared to those of Hall of Famer, Johnny Bench. But Carter’s exuberance was second to none.
Carl Yastrzemski – LF
‘Yaz’ Bats L/Throws R
Carl Yastrzemski was one of those players, not unlike Joe DiMaggio, who led by example and who remained in the spotlight without even trying. A lifetime Red Sock, he was an institution in fandom and had the records to back it up. Yet, it was his consistent approach at the plate and his goal to continue to improve, year in and year out, that won him over with fans and players alike.
Seasons: 23 (1961-1983) Boston Red Sox
Career: BA OBP SLG% HR Hits FLDG% 2B RBI
.285 .379 .462 452 3,419 .988 646 1844
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame – 1989
Awards: 18x All Star; AL MVP-1967; Al Batting Champion – 1963 & 1968; 1st AL OBP- 1963, 1965, 1967-1970; 1st AL SLG% – 1965, 1967, 1970; 7x AL Gold Gloves – LF
When Carl Yastrzemski retired after 23 seasons he did so with 3419 hits and over 400 home runs. That feat has been duplicated by a select few in the history of MLB with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Stan Musical, Dave Winfield and Cal Ripkin, Jr. in that class. The only thing Yaz suffered from was the down years for the Red Sox, when Fenway Park was seldom sold out. Had Yaz been playing today his notoriety would be off the charts.
Brooks Robinson – 3B
Bats R/Throws R
The Human Vacuum Cleaner, as Brooks Robinson was affectionately known, redefined defense in the modern game. Brooks Robinson made playing the Hot Corner cool again. His brilliant displays were uncanny year after year and something fans routinely expected from Brooks. But there was nothing routine about his talent.
Seasons: 23 (1955-1977) Baltimore Orioles
Career: BA OBP SLG% FLDG% Hits
.267 .322 .401 .971 2, 848
Inducted Baseball Hall of Fame – 1977
Awards: 1st in AL RBI -1964 : 118; AL MVP -1964; 15x All Star; World Series MVP 1970 – Baltimore Orioles; World Series Champion 1970 – Baltimore Orioles; 16 consecutive AL Gold Gloves – 3B 1960-1975
Like other players on his team, Robinson’s consistency and work ethic was nonpareil. A trailblazer at 3B, Brooks was also as well liked as any player in the game and that only helped with team chemistry and providing leadership.
NEXT: A look at the pitching rotation.