Friday, February 28, 2020

All-Time Teams: Yankees

Welp here it is, folks. The All-Time team of all All-Time teams. The best of the Bronx Bombers. Murderer's Row. The Empire.

Here's the All-Time roster for the New York Yankees:

Manager: Casey Stengel
Home: Yankee Stadium

Leading off for the Yankees.. the Shortstop.. Derek Jeter

The headliner of this year's Hall of Fame class, Derek Jeter is sixth on the all-time hits list with 3,465. The 14-time All-Star is the Yankees' all-time leader in games played, hits, doubles, and stolen bases. Jeter won five Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger awards, and five World Series over his 20-year career. He was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1996 and World Series MVP in 2000. The Captain played an entire seasons' worth of playoff games and slashed .308/.374/.465 in October(and November), consistent with his regular season slash line of .310/.377/.440.

Batting second for New York.. the Center Fielder.. Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio was an All-Star in every one of his 13 seasons with the Yankees. The three-time AL MVP set a record with hits in 56 consecutive games in 1941. "Joltin' Joe" played in ten World Series, winning nine, and posted a career slash line of .325/.398/.579. DiMaggio led the league in home runs twice, RBI twice, batting average twice, and total bases three times. Like many players of his day, DiMaggio missed three seasons in his prime while serving in the military during World War II.

Batting third.. the Right Fielder.. Babe Ruth

George Herman "Babe" Ruth transformed the game of baseball in the 1920s. Few - if any - athletes in sports history have set the bar so much higher than their predecessors. Ruth hit more home runs than most teams during his incomparable prime years. The all-time leader in slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and offensive WAR is the all-time leader in total WAR (inclusive of his pitching stats). Ruth led the league in home runs twelve times, led the league in slugging and OPS thirteen times, and could have won AL MVP that many times had there not been a rule in place prohibiting repeat winners.

Batting fourth.. the First Baseman.. Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig wasn't the showman Babe Ruth was, but he was an equally dangerous hitter. Batting behind the Babe, Gehrig collected 1,995 career RBI - seventh all-time and first in Yankees history. The "Iron Horse" set a seemingly unbreakable record of 2,130 consecutive games played, and set the standard for first basemen with 112.4 career WAR. Gehrig won two AL MVP awards, led the league in RBI and on-base % five times, and posted five seasons of 400+ total bases. He played in seven World Series, winning six, and belted 10 home runs in 34 Fall Classic contests.

Batting fifth.. the Left Fielder.. Mickey Mantle

An icon of the sport and the sports card hobby, Mickey Mantle took the torch from Joe DiMaggio and roamed the spacious center field at Yankee Stadium for 15 seasons. DiMaggio's defense was a bit better and "The Mick" played left field more frequently (mostly in 1965) so he'll move over in this lineup. Mantle's switch-hitting power produced 536 home runs, which was third all-time when he retired in 1969. His home run total remains second to Ruth in Yankees history. The 20-time All-Star won seven World Series, three AL MVP awards, a batting title, a Gold Glove, and a Triple Crown in his legendary career.

Batting sixth.. the Third Baseman.. Alex Rodriguez

The first overall pick in the 1993 draft, Alex Rodriguez began his long and eventful career in Seattle, winning a batting title at age 20 and joining the 40/40 club at age 22. The Mariners desperately needed "A-Rod" as their All-Time Team's shortstop but he played the majority of his career in pinstripes. Rodriguez won three AL MVP awards, ten Silver Slugger awards, two Gold Gloves, and helped the Yankees win their most recent World Series title in 2009. The 14-time All-Star is fourth in history with 696 career home runs and led the league in long balls five times.

Batting seventh.. the Catcher.. Yogi Berra

One of the more colorful personalities in baseball history, Yogi Berra won three MVP awards and ten World Series rings in his Hall of Fame career. The 18-time All-Star hit 20+ home runs in ten consecutive seasons from 1949-1958. Berra slugged 358 home runs - fourth-most all-time among catchers and fifth-most in Yankees history. His 1,430 RBI are also fifth in Yankees history and the most ever for a catcher. Yogi played a little bit of left field late in his career, including the 1960 World Series. He is one of two Hall of Fame baseball players buried in New Jersey.

Batting eighth.. the Designated Hitter.. Bill Dickey

Bill Dickey was an all-time great catcher in his own right. The Yankees retired number 8 for both he and Yogi Berra. An eleven-time All-Star and seven-time World Series champion, Dickey's career slash line of .313/.382/.486 is slightly better than Berra's. He didn't have Yogi's home run power, but Bill walked far more than he struck out. Starting in 1936, Dickey posted four consecutive seasons with 20+ home runs, 100+ RBI, and a .300 or better batting average. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954.

Batting ninth.. the Second Baseman.. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano is the only active player on the Yankees' All-Time roster. In nine seasons with the team, Cano won five Silver Slugger awards, two Gold Gloves, a World Series, and finished top-5 in MVP voting three times. The eight-time All-Star is eighth in Yankees history with 375 career doubles (more than Mickey Mantle) and his .309 career batting average as a Yankee is ninth-best. Who has the sixth-most RBI, the fourth-most doubles, and the second-most home runs of all second basemen in history? Cano, don't you know.

The Starting Pitcher for the Yankees.. Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford won more games than any pitcher in Yankees history, and his 53.5 career WAR is highest among Yankee starters. The "Chairman of the Board" was named to ten All-Star teams, pitched in eleven World Series, and won six championships over his 16-year Hall of Fame career. Ford led the league in ERA, ERA+, WHIP, and shutouts in 1958 - but teammate Bob Turley won 21 games and the Cy Young award. Whitey won his Cy Young in 1961, after leading the league in wins, innings pitched, games started, and fielding-independent ERA. He finished third in AL MVP voting in 1963 - after another season in which he led the AL in wins, starts, and innings pitched.

 Now let's take a look at the Yankees' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Jorge Posada
1st Base - Don Mattingly
Infield - Tony Lazzeri
Outfield - Charlie Keller 
Outfield - Bernie Williams 

The "core four" is present and accounted for, as Posada warranted carrying a third catcher. Mattingly won nine Gold Gloves, a batting title, and AL MVP in 1985 - but not a World Series. Hall of Famer Lazzeri is 12th in Yankees history in hits, doubles, and total bases. Bernie is third in team annals with 449 doubles. Hall of Famer Earle Combs and Tommy Henrich were strongly considered, but Keller's numbers were comparable and this roster needed a natural left fielder.

#2 Starter - Ron Guidry
#3 Starter - Jack Chesbro
#4 Starter - Andy Pettitte
#5 Starter - CC Sabathia

This is an extremely left-handed rotation. Guidry won the Cy Young award and finished second in AL MVP voting in 1978. Chesbro (the only righty in the rotation) posted a 2.58 ERA and a 2.39 FIP over seven seasons for the New York Highlanders. Pettitte pitched in 44 playoff games and struck out more batters than any pitcher in franchise history. CC's Yankees stats rival Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing; his career accomplishments give him the edge.  

LH Reliever - Steve Hamilton
LH Reliever - Sparky Lyle
LH Reliever - Dave Righetti 
RH Reliever - David Robertson
RH Reliever - Rich Gossage
RH Reliever - Mariano Rivera

Mike Stanton made the fifth-most appearances in Yankees history, but Hamilton pitched more innings and had better control. Lyle won a Cy Young in 1977 and made three All-Star teams. Righetti is second to Rivera in career appearances and saves for the franchise. Robertson posted a 154 ERA+ over nine seasons in the Bronx. "Goose" made nine All-Star teams in his Hall of Fame career. Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time and a unanimous Hall of Famer. Good luck trying to mount a comeback against this bullpen.

Stay tuned for our next All-Time Team, the Oakland Athletics

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 27, 2020

All-Time Teams: Mets

Meet the Mets! Meet the Mets! Step right up and greet the Mets! Here's the All-Time roster for New York's National League franchise:

Manager: Davey Johnson
Home: Shea Stadium

Leading off for the Mets.. the Shortstop.. Jose Reyes

A classic contact hitter with tremendous speed, Jose Reyes holds Mets' career records for triples and stolen bases. From 2005-08, Reyes smacked 65 three-base hits and swiped 258 bags, leading the league in each category three times. He led the NL in triples a fourth time in 2011, when he set a career high with a .384 on-base % and a 144 OPS+. The four-time All-Star won a Silver Slugger award in 2006 and a batting title in 2011. Reyes is 33rd all-time - and ninth among shortstops - with 517 career steals, and no one has stolen more bases in the 21st century. 

Batting second for New York.. the Center Fielder.. Carlos Beltran

A premier five-tool talent, Carlos Beltran parlayed a record-setting postseason performance with the Astros into a seven-year contract with the Mets in 2005. Over those seven seasons Beltran won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards, and led New York to the NLCS in 2006. The 1999 AL Rookie of the Year is fifth all-time among center fielders with 1,587 career RBI. Beltran bashed 149 home runs as a Met, good for sixth in team history. His 31.1 career WAR with the team places him third among position players and seventh overall. Beltran was briefly named manager of the Mets this past off-season. 

Batting third.. the Third Baseman.. David Wright

David Wright is the Mets' career leader in several categories including hits, runs scored, runs batted in, total bases, and WAR. In just ten full seasons Wright made seven All-Star teams, batted .300 or better seven times, and posted four seasons of 300+ total bases. His 50.4 career WAR is second in Mets history and tops among position players. Wright finished fourth in NL MVP voting in 2007 after setting career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and WAR. The Norfolk native battled through crippling back and shoulder injuries late in his career to hit a dramatic home run in the 2015 World Series and take the field one last time in 2018. 

Batting fourth.. the Catcher.. Mike Piazza

From 62nd round draft pick to Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza set the standard for power-hitting catchers. The all-time leader at his position in home runs, OPS+ and slugging %, Piazza posted nine seasons of 30+ long balls and batted .300 or better ten times. The ten-time Silver Slugger winner is third in Mets history with 220 career homers, 655 RBI, and a 136 OPS+. His .542 slugging % as a Met is tops in team annals. Piazza powered the Mets to the postseason twice - including the 2000 World Series - and hit a dramatic 8th-inning home run in the team's first home game after 9/11.

Batting fifth.. the Right Fielder.. Darryl Strawberry

The first overall pick in the 1980 draft, Darryl Strawberry led the Mets' offense throughout the decade. The National League's Rookie of the Year in 1983, Strawberry was an All-Star every year from 1984-1991. The two-time Silver Slugger winner finished second in NL MVP voting in 1988 after leading the NL in home runs, slugging, and OPS. "Straw" is first in franchise history with 252 home runs, first in OPS+, and second in slugging %, runs batted in, and at-bats per home run. Strawberry won three World Series, hit 9 home runs in 40 playoff games, and slugged 9 homers in the Springfield softball championship.

Batting sixth.. the First Baseman.. Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez played three more years and 285 more games in St. Louis, but even with an MVP award on his resume he wouldn't have made the Cardinals roster. In seven seasons with the Mets, Hernandez slashed .297/.387./429 (compared to .299/.385/.448 with the Cards), hit 80 home runs (one fewer than he had for St. Louis) and won a World Series with each team. Considered one of the greatest defensive first baseman in history, Hernandez hauled in eleven consecutive Gold Gloves from 1978-1988. 

Batting seventh.. the Designated Hitter.. Lucas Duda

Lucas Duda has the seventh-highest home run total in Mets history and the eighth-highest at-bats per home run rate. He earned MVP consideration in 2014 after setting career highs with 30 home runs, 92 RBI, and a 132 OPS+. Duda played just 760 games in a Mets uniform but his slash line of .246/.343/.457 was strong enough to earn the DH spot over power-hitting catcher Todd Hundley (.240/.323/.438). Dave Kingman's all-or-nothing power was tempting here, but he swung and missed too often and didn't make enough contact.

Batting eighth.. the Second Baseman.. Edgardo Alfonzo

Edgardo Alfonzo posted the fourth-highest career WAR among Mets position players and places in the top ten in several other categories, including batting average (tied for fifth), on-base % (seventh), total bases (seventh), doubles (sixth) and home runs (tenth). In eight seasons with the Mets, "Fonzie" batted .300 or better three times, including a career-high .324 for the 2000 pennant winners. He won a Silver Slugger award in 1999, after setting career highs with 27 home runs and 108 runs batted in.

Batting ninth.. the Left Fielder.. Cleon Jones

The leading hitter of the 1969 Miracle Mets, Cleon Jones hit a career-high .340 that season, posting a 7.0 WAR and earning a starting spot in the All-Star Game - ahead of legends like Pete Rose, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays. He helped the Mets get back to the World Series in 1973, collecting six hits in five games against the Reds in the NLCS. Jones is fourth in Mets franchise history in hits, sixth in games played, seventh in runs scored, and eighth in total bases.

The Starting Pitcher for the Mets.. Tom Seaver

A first-round pick by the Braves in 1966, Tom Seaver was somewhat randomly awarded to the Mets after being declared a free agent. After just one season in the minors he earned NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1967, along with the first of twelve All-Star nods. "Tom Terrific" won three Cy Young awards and 311 games over his legendary 20-year career. Seaver is sixth all-time with 3,670 strikeouts and he's the Mets' all-time leader in several categories including WAR, wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, and complete games. He was the first player inducted into Cooperstown with a Mets cap on his plaque, and the first Mets player to have his number retired by the franchise.

Now let's take a look at the Mets' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - John Stearns
1st Base - Ed Kranepool
Infield - Howard Johnson
Outfield - Kevin McReynolds
Outfield - Rusty Staub

Stearns was a better defender than Todd Hundley and a better hitter than Jerry Grote. Kranepool played more games than anyone in Mets history. "HoJo" won two Silver Sluggers and hit 194 home runs for the Mets, 4th in team history. McReynolds posted a 120 OPS+ and 122 home runs in his six seasons as a Met. Staub made six All-Star teams. I was tempted to add Michael Conforto after just five seasons.

#2 Starter - Dwight Gooden
#3 Starter - Jacob deGrom
#4 Starter - Jerry Koosman
#5 Starter - David Cone

Gooden won NL Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young award, finished fourth in MVP voting, and led the majors in strikeouts twice - before turning 21. deGrom won the past two NL Cy Youngs and NL ROY in 2014. Koosman is third in Mets history in wins, strikeouts, and pitcher WAR. Sid Fernandez is in the Mets' top five in several categories but Cone's career was just a bit better and he wouldn't have made the Yankees' rotation.

RH Reliever - Skip Lockwood
LH Reliever - Pedro Feliciano
LH Reliever - Jesse Orosco

RH Reliever - Jeurys Familia
RH Reliever - Armando Benitez

LH Reliever - John Franco

Lockwood posted a 1.114 WHIP over five seasons in Queens. Feliciano led the majors in appearances three straight seasons. Orosco is the all-time leader in appearances and made two All-Star teams. Familia made the All-Star team and led the majors with 51 saves in 2014. Benitez posted a 159 ERA+ over five Mets seasons. He's second to Franco in career saves for the club. Franco's 424 career saves are fifth in major league history and he's third all-time in appearances.

Stay tuned for our next All-Time team, the New York Yankees.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, February 24, 2020

Catching up on trades

So... how about that NHL trade deadline? 

I'm kidding. Though it is tempting to dive into the Devils completely tearing down their roster or the other deals that went down today, I've got to catch up on some trade/care packages before I resume the All-Time Teams series.

As you probably know Fuji was very busy catching up on his care packages. I was fortunate enough to be added to - and crossed off of - his 'hit' list. His mailer arrived in my inbox today:

A pair of vintage Packers - both Hall of Famers - and a pair of relics. The Stranger Things card is one of 19 set fillers Fuji included. I'm now at 78% completion of the 100-card set.

Jon's "Free Stuff Friday" kicked off a bit of a trend, which spread to Brian's Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary blog. I claimed three cards from Brian and he filled a PWE with some flagship singles I needed:

I'm still a sucker for all things 2017 Topps Heritage. Betts is no longer the face of this franchise :/ I've got one last TCDB trade incoming, and then I will finally have completed the 2019 Topps set.

Just after New Year's Day Rod offered to send me some cards in response to my Blog Update post. I had no idea what he was sending, but about a week ago I received over 100 cards - mostly Milwaukee Brewers:

Rod's mailer arrived the Day I published my Brewers All-Time Team. If I'd waited just a little longer I would have used some of these cards. 

'Y' was I happy to receive so many Brewers cards? Because Yount and Yelich have made me a bit of a Brewers fan over the years. (I'd say they're my fourth favorite team.)

These Topps Total singles are the first of the online-only reboot I've had in my collection (there was one in the Secret Santa gift I sent out, but we're not going to talk about that...) I was surprised that they're so glossy. I wouldn't say they're worth a buck apiece, but they are quite nice.

Some shiny here including a couple refractors, a rainbow parallel, and a Mike Moustakas All-Star relic - which is actually from the All-Star workout, not the actual game. But it's better than the "..not from any specific game/season/event" disclaimer I've seen all too often lately.

Fuji, Brian, Rod.. thank you very much for these great cards! I'm now at nearly 98,000 cards - just 2,000 shy of my 100K goal. I'm still cooking up a return package for Rod (and Nick, whom I've owed for at least a month) but I did send some PWEs out and I plan to be all caught up by Friday (I have a day off due to an A.M. Dr. appt.)

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, February 22, 2020

The 700 Club

Alex Ovechkin scored the 700th goal of his career this afternoon, in a 3-2 loss to the Devils. The Capitals' superstar is the 8th member of the 700 goal club.

When Ovi scored his 699th career goal against Montreal on Thursday I had a feeling he would make history here in Jersey. I really wanted to get tickets, but my daughter's reconciliation was today. We were at church for the first two periods of the game.

I've been an Ovechkin fan since his 52-goal rookie season, and I can remember Beckett Hockey Magazine running an "Ovechkin watch" feature in his draft year.

The "Ovechkin watch" has been on high alert lately, and will continue to heat up as he climbs the NHL's all-time leader board.

Let's dive a little deeper into the career goal total of the seven legends ahead of Ovi:

Wayne Gretzky 
  894 NHL goals 
+ 46 WHA goals
= 940 career goals

The greatest goal scorer in NHL history began his pro career as a 17 year-old in the World Hockey Association. He scored three goals for the Indianapolis Racers and 43 for the Edmonton Oilers. (And that's not counting 10 playoff goals in the WHA and another 122 postseason tallies in the NHL.)

Donruss projected what each player's stats would have been had there not been a lockout in 1994-95. According to this card, Gretzky lost 8 goals to the lockout - which would have netted him a career total of 902!

The "Great One" had a front-row seat for this Ovechkin goal, as head coach of the Coyotes:

While Wayne Gretzky is universally recognized as the game's all-time greatest goal scorer, the pro hockey record is held by his idol:

Gordie Howe
 801 NHL goals
+ 174 WHA goals 
= 975 career goals

"Mr. Hockey" was not active during any labor disputes. However the third-leading scorer in NHL history played during three lockouts:

 Jaromir Jagr
 766 NHL goals
+ 66 KHL goals
= 832 career goals

Donruss projected Jagr would have scored another 24 goals in a full 1994-95 season. He played overseas in 2004-05, scoring 11 goals for Kladno in the Czech league and 17 for Omsk in Russia. There's no way to tell how many goals Jagr would have had in the NHL that year. He scored 31 in the year before the lockout and 52 in the season that followed, so let's say he would have scored 40. 

Jaromir was still active during the 2012-13 NHL lockout, scoring 16 goals in a shortened season. At a rate of .333 goals per game, Jagr could have added 11 goals to his career total. With just half of the projected 75 'lost' goals, Jaromir Jagr would have passed Gordie Howe for second on the NHL's all-time list.

Brett Hull

741 NHL goals

The "Golden Brett" did not play in any pro leagues other than the NHL. His Donruss card projected a 51-goal season in 1994-95, meaning the lockout cost Hull 22 goals that year. He was still active in 2004-05, though it's difficult to determine how many goals he would have scored as a 40 year-old. In five post-lockout games Hull did not register a goal and retired early in the 2005-06 season. It's safe to say Hull would not have been shut out in '04-05.

Marcel Dionne
 731 NHL goals

Marcel Dionne did not play in another pro league and was not active during any work stoppage.

Phil Esposito 
717 NHL goals  

Phil Esposito did not play in another pro league and was not active during any work stoppage.


Mike Gartner 
 708 NHL goals
+ 27 WHA goals
= 735 career goals

Mike Gartner potted 27 goals for the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers in 1978-79. He was still active in 1994-95 and lost 9 goals to the lockout, according to the back of his 1995-96 Donruss card.

One other player scored well over 700 professional goals. In fact he scored more goals in North American pro hockey than everyone except Gretzky and Howe:

Bobby Hull
 610 NHL goals 
+ 303 WHA goals
= 913 career goals

Only two-thirds of Bobby Hull's goals were scored in NHL nets. However the "Golden Jet" deserves a mention here.

Six more players likely would have joined the 700 goal club without work stoppages interrupting at least one season of their careers:

Mark Messier (694 NHL goals + 1 WHA goal) 
Steve Yzerman (692 NHL goals)
Mario Lemieux (690 NHL goals)
Teemu Selanne (684 NHL goals)
Luc Robitaille (668 NHL goals)
Brendan Shanahan (656 NHL goals)


As a matter of fact, Alex Ovechkin could have scored his 700th goal more than a year ago. It's likely that the "Great Eight" would have made his NHL debut as a 19 year-old in the 'lost' season of 2004-05. Maybe he wouldn't have scored 52 that year, but the fewest goals Alex has ever scored in a season is 32...

...which was his (league-leading) total in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. His .667 goals/game that year projects to 54.6 over a full 82-game season, meaning he missed out on another 20-25 tallies. Ovechkin could easily have scored 750 NHL goals by now!

There are no more 700-goal scorers on the horizon. The next active leader is 40 year-old Patrick Marleau with 561. Behind him is Sidney Crosby with 458. When Crosby (and Ovechkin) were still amateurs, Wayne Gretzky was asked if he thought anyone could break his records:

Crosby is an all-time great and could clear 600 goals if he remains healthy and productive. But the goals record is well within Ovechkin's sights - and the Great One is okay with that.

Thanks for reading!