Tuesday, September 3, 2019

All-Time Teams: Orioles

All this month, The Collector is celebrating 150 years of professional baseball with the All-Time Teams series - a 25-man roster of the best players by position in each MLB franchise's history. Today we'll look at the All-Time Team for the Baltimore Orioles.

Manager: Earl Weaver   Home: Camden Yards

Leading off for the Orioles.. the Second Baseman.. Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts was one of the fastest players in the long history of the Orioles. A two-time All-Star, Roberts compiled three seasons of 50 doubles or more, and his 50 stolen bases led the American League in 2007. He's third on the O's all-time stolen base list, eighth in runs scored, and his 80.1% steal success rate is higher than any full-time player in team history. Roberts played over 1,400 regular season games but did not participate in a single postseason contest.


Batting second for Baltimore.. the First Baseman.. George Sisler

One of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history, George Sisler batted above .400 twice, and led the majors both times. His career .340 average is tied with Lou Gehrig for 16th all-time. Sisler holds franchise records for triples (145) and stolen bases (351), which would make him an ideal #1 or #2 hitter. George was awarded AL MVP honors in 1922, after leading the Browns to within one game of the Yankees for the pennant.


Batting third.. the Left Fielder.. Ken Williams

Back-to-back Browns in the top of the order is a bit surprising considering the lack of team success in St. Louis, though Ken Williams is well-deserving of a starting spot. In ten seasons with the Browns, Williams posted a slash line of .326/.403/.558. His career On-base, slugging, and OPS averages are first or second in team history. Ken Williams led the AL in home runs, RBI, and total bases in 1922 - the only non-Yankee to do so while Babe Ruth was in his prime.

Batting fourth.. the Designated Hitter.. Eddie Murray

Eddie Murray won three Gold Gloves at first base, but his 573 games at DH is why I have him here. One of only six players in history to collect 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, "Steady Eddie" was a tough out from either side of the plate. He's 11th all-time in runs batted in and total bases, and played more regular-season games than all but five players. Murray played in a World Series in three different decades (1979, 1983, and 1995) and hit at least one home run in each Fall Classic.

Batting fifth.. the Shortstop.. Cal Ripken Jr.

Some of these roster decisions were difficult. Others were so obvious I didn't even bother to look at the stats. When I got to the Orioles' shortstop slot I entered Cal Ripken's name and moved on. The Iron Man played 3,001 games (8th all-time, appropriately enough) and his consecutive games streak is legendary. Ripken was a 19-time All-Star, a two-time AL MVP, and is in the top three all-time in WAR, hits, home runs, and RBI among players whose primary position was shortstop.

Batting sixth.. the Right Fielder.. Ken Singleton

Currently a Yankees announcer, Ken Singleton collected over 2,000 hits and 1,000 RBI in a sterling 15-year career. A three-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles from 1977-1981, Singleton finished in the top three in AL MVP voting in two of those All-Star seasons - 1977(3rd) and 1979(2nd). His home run total and oWAR as an Oriole rank just ahead of Frank Robinson. [Spoiler alert: Robinson will be starting for Cincinnati.]

Batting seventh.. the Third Baseman.. Brooks Robinson

There may have been better hitters who played third base for this franchise, but no one played third base better than Brooks Robinson. The "Human Vacuum Cleaner" was a legendary defender, especially in the 1970 World Series in which he was named MVP. The 18-time All-Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner was also the 1964 AL MVP and finished in the top three in three other seasons. Brooks was no slouch at the plate, posting six 20-home run seasons and over 2,800 career hits.

Batting eighth.. the Catcher.. Chris Hoiles

The weakest position for this storied franchise, Chris Hoiles was slightly better offensively than the more decorated catchers I considered. Hoiles was never an All-Star but he slashed a respectable .262/.366/.467 over a ten-year career and hit 151 home runs in just 894 games. Gus Triandos was a four-time All-Star with similar numbers. However Hoiles rates higher in WAR and OPS+ and his career slash line is superior to Triandos' .249/.326/.424 as an Oriole.

Batting ninth.. the Center Fielder.. Paul Blair

With defensive stalwarts like Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, and Paul Blair, Baltimore may have been one of the best run-prevention teams of all-time. Blair gets the nod over a more offensive-minded center fielder thanks to eight Gold Gloves and four World Series rings (two with the O's). A two-time All-Star, Blair was an average hitter throughout his career - though he had standout seasons in 1967 and 1969.

The Starting Pitcher for the Orioles.. Jim Palmer

The franchise leader in games pitched, games started, wins, strikeouts, and several other categories, Jim Palmer won three Cy Young awards in a four-year span (1973-'76). A World Series winner in three different decades, Palmer was outstanding in the 1966 series. Making his postseason debut at age 20, Palmer shut out Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 6-0 in Game 2. The first-ballot Hall of Famer is currently a color commentator for the Orioles.

 Now let's look at the Orioles' bench and bullpen:

Catcher: Rick Dempsey
1st Base: Boog Powell
Infielder: Manny Machado
Outfield: Adam Jones
Outfield: Brady Anderson

Dempsey's defense gives him the nod over Triandos as the backup catcher (I try to pick an offensive catcher and a defensive catcher whenever possible.) Jones just missed a starting spot for the same reason, and Manny Machado's brief Baltimore tenure was too good to ignore.

#2 starter: Mike Mussina
#3 starter: Dave McNally
#4 starter: Urban Shocker
#5 starter: Mike Cuellar

No shocker here - Mussina pitched ten years for the O's and ranks second in franchise history in wins, strikeouts, and K-BB ratio. McNally and Cuellar were workhorses for Baltimore; McNally allowed the only two runs O's pitchers surrendered in the 1966 World Series. Urban Shocker won 20+ games in four straight seasons for the Browns (1920-'23.)

RH reliever: Eddie Watt
RH reliever: Stu Miller
RH reliever: Dick Hall
RH reliever: Jim Johnson
LH reliever: Zack Britton
RH reliever: Gregg Olson

Left-hander Tippy Martinez just missed the cut, so Zack Britton (formerly known as Zach) will be the only southpaw in the 'pen. I enjoyed finding quality pre-1969* relievers such as Hall and Miller - who also qualified as a Giant but was better in Baltimore.

*when the save became an official stat

Come back tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Boston Red Sox.

Thanks for reading!



Monday, September 2, 2019

All-Time Teams: Braves

Major League Baseball is celebrating 150 years of professional baseball. All 30 franchises have over two decades of history and so I'm creating an All-Time Team series. Every day in September, The Collector will list the best players by position in every MLB team's history. 

Today we'll look at the All-Time Team for the Atlanta Braves.

Manager: Bobby Cox  
Home: Fulton County Stadium


Leading off for the Braves.. the Designated Hitter.. Rico Carty

Rico Carty has more experience as a designated hitter than anyone on the Braves All-Time team. The reason he's leading off is less obvious. His .388 career OBP is sixth in Braves history; only one player ahead of him is on this roster. Carty was a terrific hitter when healthy, batting .317 over his eight years in Milwaukee/Atlanta. Unfortunately he averaged just 103 games per year in his Braves tenure. In his lone All-Star season of 1970, Carty led the majors with a .366 BA and .454 OBP.

Batting second for Atlanta.. the First Baseman.. Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman is already one of the most productive hitters in Braves history - and he won't turn 30 until next Thursday. The four-time All-Star is nearly halfway to 3,000 hits and has already set career highs in home runs and RBI with four weeks left in the season. As you'll see with the next few names in this lineup, production past age 30 is what separates Hall of Famers from the "Hall of Very Good". Time will tell which side Freeman falls on, but he's sure trending in the right direction.

Batting third.. the Shortstop.. Chipper Jones

The first overall pick in the 1990 draft, Chipper Jones began his career at shortstop - where he'll play for the All-Time Braves. A lifetime .303 hitter, Jones won a batting title at age 36 with a career-high .364 average. He won the NL MVP in 1999, setting career highs with 45 home runs, 125 walks, and a 1.074 OPS+. Chipper's 1619 career runs scored and 1623 career RBI are both second all-time among third basemen.

Batting fourth.. the Right Fielder.. Hank Aaron  

Every baseball fan knows Henry Aaron as the (former) all-time home run king. Not every baseball fan knows that Aaron remains the all-time leader in total bases and runs batted in. The 25-time All-Star(!) has just one NL MVP award on his mantel, along with two batting titles and three Gold Gloves. "Hammerin' Hank" only led the league in WAR once, but his career total of 143 is fifth all-time. When Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982 (his first year of eligibility) nine BBWAA voters did not vote for him.

Batting fifth.. the Third Baseman.. Eddie Mathews
Very few players could bump Chipper Jones off of third base. Eddie Mathews is one of the few. Arguably the second-greatest third baseman of all-time, Mathews slugged 40 or more home runs four times and totaled 512 over his 17-year career. As a 21 year-old, Eddie led the NL in home runs and OPS+, finishing second to Roy Campanella in NL MVP voting. Mathews retired on top in 1968, winning a World Series with the Detroit Tigers.

Batting sixth.. the Center Fielder.. Andruw Jones

Just 19 when he hit two home runs in the 1996 World Series, Andruw Jones was on a Hall of Fame track throughout his twenties. The "Curacao Kid" combined legendary defense (ten Gold Gloves in his first eleven seasons) with prodigious power (seven seasons of 30+ home runs, including 51 in 2005.) His thirties were a disaster, yet Jones still has 434 career home runs, a WAR of 62.8, and 1289 RBI to go with those Gold Gloves.

Batting seventh.. the Left Fielder.. Dale Murphy

One of the most popular players in franchise history, Dale Murphy has to play left field for the Braves All-Time Team due to the presence of Andruw Jones. A Hall of Famer in the hearts of Braves fans everywhere, "Murph" was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, winning back-to-back MVP awards, five Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers. His career WAR of 46.5 is short of Cooperstown standards, but plenty of players have made it there with less production.

Batting eighth.. the Catcher.. Brian McCann

The Braves' current catcher, Brian McCann returned to Atlanta after three years with the Yankees and two with the Astros. The seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger winner compiled nine consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2008-16. McCann has more home runs than any catcher in team history and his slugging and OPS averages rank him just ahead of Joe Torre for second place among Braves backstops.

Batting ninth.. the Second Baseman.. Rabbit Maranville

The oldest continually operating franchise in baseball has surprisingly slim pick'ins at second base. Maranville is a Hall of Famer despite a meager .258/.318/.340 career slash line. His career WAR of 42.8 was 29th-best on the 1954 BBWAA ballot (four players ahead of him never made it to Cooperstown), yet he got the most votes in that year's election.

That said, he's still a better choice than Glenn Hubbard or Mark Lemke.

The Starting Pitcher for the Braves.. Warren Spahn
Warren Spahn is still the winningest (that's not a word?) left-hander in baseball history. He's also got more victories than any post-war pitcher and the sixth-most of any pitcher ever. Spahn led the league in complete games nine times, innings pitched four times, strikeouts four times, and WHIP four times. Surprisingly, the 17-time All-Star won just one Cy Young and one World Series, both in 1957.

Now let's look at the Braves' bench and bullpen:

Catcher -  Del Crandall
1st Base - Joe Adcock
Infielder -
Johnny Logan
Outfield - Wally Berger
Outfield - David Justice

Brian McCann and Javy Lopez have nearly identical stats for the Braves. So why did I go with Del Crandall as the backup catcher? Eleven All-Star nods and four Gold Gloves, plus a 14.0 career dWAR. With Chipper Jones and Eddie Mathews on the roster I chose the shortstop Logan over another third baseman such as Darrell Evans.


#2 starter - Phil Niekro
#3 starter - Tom Glavine
#4 starter - John Smoltz
#5 starter - Kid Nichols

What, no Greg Maddux? The four-time Cy Young winner was allocated to Chicago because the Braves franchise has had so many more great pitchers to choose from. Maddux isn't even the only Hall of Fame pitcher the Cubs are "borrowing" from the Braves.


RH Reliever - Rick Camp
RH Reliever - Mark Wohlers
RH Reliever - Greg McMichael
RH Reliever - Steve Bedrosian
RH Reliever - Gene Garber
RH Reliever - Craig Kimbrel

You might notice a lack of left-handers in this bullpen. When I chose these teams the bullpens were built on stats alone - games finished, saves, ERA, WHIP, and so on. Handedness did not factor into any roster decisions.
(FYI, the lefty reliever with the most saves and games finished in franchise history is.. John Rocker.)

Come back tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Baltimore Orioles.

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, September 1, 2019

All-Time Teams: Diamondbacks

Major League Baseball is celebrating 150 years of professional baseball. All 30 franchises have over two decades of history and so I'm creating an All-Time Team series. Every day in September, The Collector will list the best players by position in every MLB team's history. 

 Our first All-Time Team is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Manager: Bob Brenly     Home: Chase Field

Leading off for the Diamondbacks.. the Center Fielder.. Steve Finley

A 19 year-veteran with over 2,500 career hits, Steve Finley was a bit of a late bloomer. Both of his All-Star Game nods and all five of his Gold Gloves were awarded after he turned 30. Finley played 5+ seasons in Arizona (including their championship season of 2001) and places in the Diamondbacks' all-time top three in several categories, including hits, home runs, total bases, and OPS.


Batting second for Arizona.. the Designated Hitter.. David Peralta

The Diamondbacks' current left fielder, David Peralta has been a designated hitter only three times in his six-year career. Regardless, he's already one of the top ten hitters in the D-backs' short history and his primary position is occupied by a franchise icon. Peralta won a Silver Slugger in 2018 after a career high in home runs (30), RBI (87) and total bases (289).


Batting third.. the First Baseman.. Paul Goldschmidt

A frequent contender for NL MVP, Paul Goldschmidt is the Diamondbacks' career standard-bearer in a slew of offensive categories including WAR and OPS. He's second all-time in many other categories including home runs, batting average, and stolen bases. "Goldy" won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards in his eight years in Arizona. His career numbers are so superior to every other first baseman in team history that this All-Time team is one of the only rosters without a backup at the position.


Batting fourth.. the Left Fielder.. Luis Gonzalez

The hero of the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez is Arizona's all-time leader in home runs, total bases, runs scored, games played and doubles, and he has a slim .001 lead over Goldschmidt in career batting average. The first D-Backs player to have his number retired, "Gonzo" bats cleanup for their All-Time team due to his five consecutive 100+ RBI seasons. His 57 home runs in 2001 were the 15th-most in a single season ever.. and third-most in the NL that year.


Batting fifth.. the Right Fielder.. Justin Upton

The #1 overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft, Justin Upton debuted for the D-Backs just two years later at age 19. He quickly overcame some early struggles, making his All-Star Game debut at 21 and winning his first of three Silver Slugger awards at age 23. "J-Up" has bounced around a bit since leaving the Diamondbacks after the 2012 season, but he's carved out a nice career as a power-hitting corner outfielder.


Batting sixth.. the Catcher.. Miguel Montero

Only Gonzalez and Goldschmidt have played more games with Arizona than Miguel Montero, and he did more than just show up. The two-time All-Star smacked 172 doubles (5th in franchise history) and slammed 10 or more home runs in six of his eight full seasons with the Snakes.


Batting seventh.. the Third Baseman.. Chad Tracy

Initially I had Matt Williams in this slot, but Williams is a better fit in San Francisco. Chad Tracy is a solid, if underwhelming second choice. Both Tracy and Jake Lamb had two standout seasons as Arizona's third basemen. Tracy was a bit better overall, slashing .274/.333/.439 to Lamb's .243/.332/.442.


 Batting eighth.. the Second Baseman.. Aaron Hill

This was another razor-thin decision. Second base is a little bit deeper in Arizona, and Aaron Hill gets the nod over the more versatile Jay Bell. Hill won two Silver Slugger awards - one with Toronto and one with the D-Backs. His overall numbers in five seasons with the Diamondbacks were an improvement over his seven seasons with the Blue Jays.


Batting ninth.. the Shortstop.. Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew never became the franchise player many expected him to be when the D-Backs selected him in the 1st round of the 2004 draft. Baseball America ranked Drew the #5 prospect in all of baseball before his debut season of 2006. Though he never made an All-Star team, Stephen Drew makes Arizona's All-Time team on the strength of three above-average years in Arizona.


The Starting Pitcher for the Diamondbacks.. Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson is Arizona's all-time leader in career WAR and the first Diamondbacks player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The "Big Unit" made more starts and pitched more innings as a Mariner, but his best seasons - including a run of four consecutive Cy Young awards - were with the D-Backs. An astounding 1,417 of Johnson's 4,875 career strikeouts (2nd all-time) were compiled in those four seasons alone.

Now let's look at the Diamondbacks' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Damian Miller
Infielder - Jay Bell
Infielder - Craig Counsell

Outfield - A.J. Pollock
Outfield - Chris Young

It was a very tough call leaving Bell out of the starting lineup. Young almost didn't make the team at all, despite playing the fourth-most games in D-Backs history.

#2 starter - Zack Greinke
#3 starter - Brandon Webb
#4 starter - Patrick Corbin
#5 starter - Robbie Ray 

Greinke barely qualifies here, and should probably be assigned to Kansas City. He was a much better pitcher in the desert - and the Royals have more starting pitcher depth. I figured it was better than adding Brian Anderson or Miguel Batista to this rotation.

RH Reliever - Byung-Hyun Kim
RH Reliever - Archie Bradley
LH Reliever - Andrew Chafin
RH Reliever - Brad Ziegler
RH Reliever - Matt Mantei
RH Reliever - Jose Valverde

This is a surprisingly solid group for the NL's newest team (just don't let Kim anywhere near the Yankees!) "Papa Grande" is the team's career leader in saves with a whopping 98.

Come back tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Atlanta Braves.

Thanks for reading!