Friday, May 26, 2023

Meet the Barnstormers

So we've got our 30 All-Time Teams rosters, with 25 players each. Obviously these 750 players aren't the best 750 baseball players ever, they're just the best players by position for their respective teams. That alone leaves out some very good players, as you saw in this series. 

How do we account for above-average ball players who were stuck in a positional logjam or switched teams too often to rank high enough with any one franchise? The first thing we do is add a reserve list. Each of the 30 MLB franchises will have five more unofficial All-Timers - two pitchers, an infielder, an outfielder, and a utility player - many of whom were cut from the original All-Time Team rosters.

The second thing we do is add a 31st team.

If you followed All-Time Teams 1.0 (or the NHL All-Time Teams series) you know I like to include a "best of the rest" roster to scoop up all the star players who couldn't fit anywhere else. We called this rag-tag bunch of misfits the Barnstormers (or Barnes-stormers?), gave them a Hall of Fame manager and two dozen players, and sent them on their way.

Like every other All-Time Team, Joe Torre has the opportunity to tinker with his original lineup.

Unlike every other manager, Torre has no minimum season constraints to deal with. He can choose from any available player, in any era. Hey, that third baseman looks familiar...

Leadoff man Kenny Lofton should have no trouble staying in the starting lineup. Right?

Center Field*Kenny Lofton68.40.2990.3720.4230.794107

Brett Butler49.70.2900.3770.3760.753110

Curtis Granderson47.20.2490.3370.4650.803113

Earle Combs45.00.3250.3970.4620.859125

Al Oliver43.60.3030.3440.4510.795121

Torii Hunter50.70.2770.3310.4610.793110

Pete Browning40.40.3410.4030.4670.869163

On second thought, he might not make the team at all. Combs and Browning are far better hitters, even if they lack Lofton's all-around game.

19th-century great Ross Barnes and Hall of Famer Joe Gordon are entrenched at second base.

2nd Base*Ross Barnes27.70.3600.3890.4680.857167

*Joe Gordon55.60.2680.3570.4660.822120

Billy Herman57.20.3040.3670.4070.774112

Buddy Myer48.40.3030.3890.4060.795108

Cupid Childs44.40.3060.4160.3890.805120

Julio Franco43.60.2980.3650.4170.782111

Tony Phillips50.90.2660.3740.3890.763109

Billy Herman was a Cubs reserve in the original series but lost his spot to Bill Dahlen. He can't crack this roster, either.

Torre has more options at designated hitter, but the Giambino isn't worried.

Des. Hitter*Jason Giambi50.50.2770.3990.5160.916139

Jack Clark53.10.2670.3790.4760.854137

Rusty Staub45.80.2790.3620.4310.793124

Greg Luzinski26.30.2760.3630.4780.840130

Mickey Tettleton29.30.2410.3690.4490.818122

Victor Martinez32.00.2950.3600.4550.815118

Jack Clark and Rusty Staub can try to win a spot in right field. As for that other Giants slugger named Clark...

Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers has the starting first base job on lock; the competition here is for Will Clark's backup spot.

1st Base*Dan Brouthers78.70.3420.4230.5200.943171

*Will Clark56.50.3030.3840.4970.880137

Mark Teixeira50.60.2680.3600.5090.869126

Ed Konetchy46.50.2810.3460.4030.749123

Jack Fournier41.20.3130.3920.4830.875142

Tino Martinez29.00.2710.3440.4710.815112

I had never heard of Jack Fournier until researching this. He's pretty good. Not good enough to beat out "The Thrill" though.

Baseball-reference lists Joe Torre under first basemen, though his primary position is actually catcher. So why is he starting at third for the Barnstormers?

3rd base*Joe Torre57.50.2970.3650.4520.817129

Darrell Evans58.70.2480.3610.4310.792119

Jimmy Collins53.30.2940.3430.4090.752113

Bob Elliott50.90.2890.3750.4400.815124

Deacon White45.50.3120.3460.3930.740127

Bill Madlock38.20.3050.3650.4420.807123

Aramis Ramirez32.40.2830.3410.4920.833115

Bobby Bonilla30.20.2790.3580.4720.829124

Because there's less competition here. Evans and Madlock could be in the mix for a reserve role.

Gavvy Cravath and Willie Keeler are holding down right field. Is there a change to be made?

Right Field*Gavvy Cravath33.00.2870.3800.4780.858151

*Willie Keeler54.30.3410.3880.4150.802127

Harry Hooper53.70.2810.3680.3870.755114

Rusty Staub45.80.2790.3620.4310.793124

Bill Nicholson41.90.2680.3650.4650.830132

Reggie Sanders39.80.2670.3430.4870.830115

Roger Maris38.30.2600.3450.4760.822127

If there is, it would be a change in deployment, not personnel. Perhaps Keeler could start (and lead off) while Combs starts in center field.

Joe Torre's decision to play Joe Torre at third base frees up a spot behind the dish. Thurman Munson is the incumbent here, with Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan backing him up.

Are there better options?

Catchers*Thurman Munson46.10.2920.3460.4100.756116

*Roger Bresnahan42.90.2790.3860.3770.764126

Wally Schang48.00.2840.3930.4010.794117

Russell Martin38.90.2480.3490.3970.746101

Charlie Bennett38.80.2560.3400.3870.728119

Smoky Burgess33.40.2950.3620.4460.807116

Mickey Tettleton29.30.2410.3690.4490.818122

Victor Martinez32.00.2950.3600.4550.815118

Tony Pena24.70.2600.3090.3640.67384

Once again, the Yankees star stays. Pena is in the discussion exclusively for defense (he is a Torre guy after all.) Wally Schang is a slight upgrade over Bresnahan. He'll back up Munson.

Let's look at left field, where Jesse Burkett is being backed up by Lefty O'Doul.

A couple of pre-war Hall of Famers and yet another Yankee are among the options at Torre's disposal.

Left Field*Jesse Burkett59.70.3380.4150.4460.861140

*Lefty O'Doul25.60.3490.4130.5320.945143

Jim O'Rourke52.20.3100.3520.4220.775134

Joe Kelley50.40.3170.4020.4510.853133

Roy White46.90.2710.3600.4040.764121

Harry Stovey45.00.2880.3610.4620.822144

Moises Alou39.90.3030.3690.5160.885128

No threat to Burkett, but O'Doul could be on the chopping block.

Finally we'll look at the 'Stormers shortstop competition.

Shortstop*Hughie Jennings42.30.3120.3910.4060.797118

Bobby Wallace76.40.2680.3320.3580.690105

Jack Glasscock61.60.2900.3370.3740.712112

Joe Tinker53.20.2620.3080.3530.66196

Vern Stephens46.30.2860.3550.4600.815119

Omar Vizquel45.60.2720.3360.3520.68882

Phil Rizzuto42.10.2730.3510.3550.70693

Dave Concepcion40.10.2670.3220.3570.67988

Francisco Lindor37.90.2750.3400.4710.811116

Lots of big names with not so big numbers. Put a pin in Lindor for a minute.

The Barnstormers' starting pitchers can hold their own with most established teams.

career statsWARERAERA+K/BB WHIPstarts

*Tim Keefe86.92.631262.081.123594

*Old Hoss Radbourn75.42.681192.091.149502

*Tim Hudson57.93.491202.271.239479

*Don Newcombe38.73.571142.241.207305

*Jim McCormick76.22.431182.281.132485

Can Torre improve upon this group?

Ah, the Gerrit Cole conundrum. Both he and Francisco Lindor are good enough to earn a place on an All-Time team but they haven't yet qualified for their respective New York-based clubs and couldn't find a place on their original squads. I hesitate to put either of them here since they are still active, but they shouldn't fall through the cracks in the mean time. Then again, there are other arms available.

career statsWARERAERA+K/BB WHIPstarts

Pud Galvin73.42.851072.431.191688

Mickey Welch62.32.711131.431.226549

Tommy John61.63.341111.781.283700

Bobby Mathews55.12.861042.871.237568

Bartolo Colon46.24.121062.671.312552

Cliff Lee43.23.521183.931.196324

Andy Messersmith40.22.861211.961.143295

Gerrit Cole36.33.211284.481.101278

And Cole would probably choose to rep his real team anyhow. 

The Barnstormers' bullpen was weakened by a pair of defections - Bob Wickman was assigned to the Brewers while Arthur Rhodes joined the Mariners. Who can Joe Torre call on to replace them?

Some solid closers are out there and... how the heck did Baltimore let Darren O'Day get away?

career statsSVERAERA+K/BB WHIPgames

Darren O'Day212.591673.701.034644

Jeff Shaw2033.541192.331.244633

Joe Smith303.141292.621.190866

Mike Stanton843.921122.131.3521178

Paul Assenmacher563.531182.561.323884

Paul Quantrill213.831182.161.416841

Takashi Saito842.341853.701.059338

Rafael Soriano2072.891443.251.078591

Torre would love to pick his guy Stanton here but the GM is overruling him and adding O'Day. As a compromise, Rafael Soriano is also selected over non-Yankees like Saito and Shaw. 

The Barnstormers' roster is set. Combs and Keeler will start. Neither Cravath nor O'Doul played a whole lot of games but both were equally productive. Lofton's speed, glove, and longevity are enough to earn the fourth outfielder spot. Cravath will join him on the Barnstormer bench.

TL; DR: Four changes from the original roster. O'Doul, Bresnahan, Wickman, and Rhodes out. Combs, Schang, O'Day, and Soriano in.

That's our 31st team, but now we need another squad to even things out. We'll put a bow on this series for good with the Negro League All-Stars and full roster reveals tomorrow night.

Thanks for reading!




  1. Congrats on almost being done with the new series! I love that some of my guys like Tony Phillips, Curtis Granderson, and Mickey Tettleton were under consideration, even though none ultimately made the cut.

  2. After the bout tomorrow, find away to play them all!

  3. After the Negro League All Stars, put them all in a simulator for a tournament!

    1. Wish I could! ESPN tried during the pandemic. It didn't go well.

  4. Dan Brouthers lived in my hometown and is buried here I believe. There is a monument to him on main street, I wrote about it in the past.

  5. Torre playing Torre! Random fact: my son's travel baseball team are called the "barnstormers"...but pretty sure none of the kids (and most of the parents) know what the name means.

    1. Yeah, it's definitely an old-time baseball term.

  6. A. Love Torre being a player/manager.
    B. I second Jafronius's idea. That would be pretty cool to see.

  7. OK, this is AMAZING.

    I was just looking through the new albums released this week, and there's the debut album by a new group called...The Barnestormers!

    Moreover, they're actually the perfect band for this team, made up of a variety of veterans from different bands. Like our team, the group takes its name from one of its members, in this case veteran Australian singer Jimmy Barnes. (Those of us of a certain age might remember the song he did with INXS in the movie The Lost Boys. He's a pretty big star down under.) And like our team, it has members from other well-known "teams"--the keyboard player from Squeeze and the drummer from The Stray Cats, most prominently. Note that those three are also from different parts of the world.

    They don't quite span the eras like the baseball version, but it's clear that their music MUST be played at every Barnestormers home game! Which makes me wonder--do they HAVE a home stadium? Should we give them the stadium of some defunct team? Or should they live up to their name and play "home" games all over the country?

    Anyway, more info on the music group:

    1. Oh, forgot to mention--part of what makes this so amazing is that the album was released THE VERY SAME DAY as this post!

    2. Oh man what a coincidence! The Barnstormers' official band is the Barnestormers :) We cane up with that name first though lol.

      I debated giving them a home base to practice at, but having a true home would invalidate their nomadic nature. That said, there is a defunct park pictured at the top of this post...

  8. This has been my favorite post both times you've done this series.