Photo Credit: Famous Sports People
On June 4th, 2016, a past SportsPress writer Jesse Blank posted an article on this very site about his MLB dream team. No disrespect to one of the older and better writers SportsPress had, but the team had many flaws in it, and has caused a lot of discussion in the comments section, even recently, which you can see HERE (link to original article). I personally saw a ton of problems with this list, and decided to make a list of my own. But, if you have read other articles on SportsPress, you know we like to take situations like this to another level. Because of this, I will make an entire team, not just the starting 10 guys for a game. I will include have honorable mention players and a 5-pitcher rotation with 12 relievers and a closer. I will have the starting batters including a designated hitter, which will be the best player not to win at his position, and seven backups who will be used as utility players had we played a season with this unstoppable team. So let’s revive this pivotal discussion, which is who the greatest baseball players of all time are.
The ace that will take the mound on opening day, or the greatest pitcher to ever live, is none other than Randy Johnson. He was a 10-time All-Star, and a 5-time Cy Young award winner. For Pete’s sake, he won four in a row. This string of dominance from Johnson led the Arizona Diamondbacks nearly single-handedly to a World Series title. Typically, if someone has only one title in any sport, that is enough to keep them out of the “greatest” conversation. However, in baseball, you can be the greatest ball player ever and never even see a playoff game. Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout proved that to be true just this past season.
Our second starter, who the top pitcher away is named after, is Cy Young. He had a 2.63 career ERA, pitched a perfect game and two no hitters, had over 500 wins, and had over 2,800 strikeouts. In 1901, he won the honor of triple crown, which includes the best ERA, most wins, most strikeouts out of any pitcher that season. If that’s not enough, he led the Boston Americans to a World Series victory, something that didn’t happen too often in the century to come.
Our third, fourth, and fifth starters, who round out the starting rotation, are Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, and Roger Clemens. Between the three, we have 25 All-Star Game appearances, 14 Cy Young awards, and seven World Series championships. Divide those numbers evenly throughout, and you get 8 2/3 All-Star Game appearances, 4 2/3 Cy Young awards, and 2 1/3 World Series titles. If those numbers were statistics for a single pitcher, that pitcher would definitely be in the conversation for greatest of all time.
The relief pitchers include the following (I’m not going to go into detail with any of them because I selected a lot of guys): Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Christy Matthewson, Bob Gibson, Walter Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Warren Span, Lefty Grove, Pete Alexander, Bob Fellar, and Ferguson Jenkins. Yes, I know that some of these players are starters. I simply decided these players are better than whatever relievers that would have taken their spot, so I saw no reason to leave them out. Coming in as a closer in the 9th inning would be the greatest one inning pitcher to ever walk the earth, Mariano Rivera. Simply put, since it usually takes two at-bats to figure out Rivera, scoring runs off of him in one at-bat is seemingly impossible.
Before I begin to name the starters for my dream team, I want to name some honorable mentions that did not make it. The players on this list are very good players that were hard to eliminate, but just not quite good enough to make it as a backup on my MLB Dream team. These include Miguel Cabrera, Roberto Clemente, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, and Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. If you have seen the movie “The Sandlot”, you will understand why Benny is on this list.
Starting behind the dish is catcher Johnny Bench. As a 14-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, World Series MVP, 2-time MVP, and 10-time Gold Glove award winner, which is extremely important for his position, there is almost nothing else you can ask for out of a catcher. With his extreme mix of athleticism, power, hitting, and fielding ability, he may go down as one of the most complete players to ever play the game. He also was in prime shape for 14 years, an insanely long time in a sport where greatness is usually much more brief.
At first base, we have St. Louis Cardinals’ legend Stan Musial. If you thought 14 All-Star Game appearances was good, try 20 for this legend. Most players don’t even play 20 seasons, and he made it to the All-Star game for that long in a league where pitchers were dominating. In addition, he was a 3-time MVP and 3-time World Series champion. Throwing in seven batting titles perfects the finishing touches on what was truly an unforgettable first basemen who will go down as the best of his position.
Starting at second base, we have legend Jackie Robinson. Aside from being an MVP, a World Series champion, and a 6-time All-Star, he also changed the MLB forever. He is the only player to have his number retired by every single team in baseball. He was the beginning of what would become the civil rights movement, and he paved a path for African-American baseball players that came after him. Add that to his killer mentality and the fact that second base is not a quality position in history compared to most of the others, and you have the best second basemen to ever play the game.
Moving on to third base, we have Mike Schmidt. It was really hard for me to choose between him and Wade Boggs, knowing that whoever I didn’t choose would not be good enough to get a backup role. While I admire and respect the player that was Wade Boggs, I can’t go against the statistics Schmidt put up. He was a 12-time All-Star and 3-time MLB MVP. He also led the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series Pennant and won World Series MVP. Those stats, including 10 Gold Glove Awards won, set him out to be more complete than Boggs was, giving him the starting role.
The shortstop position will be filled by New York Yankees’ legend Derek Jeter. He collected over 3,400 hits, was a 14-time All-Star, a 5-time World Series champion, and a 5-time Gold Glove Award winner. His unstoppable ways and clutch mentality helped him always come through, especially when it mattered most, hence the 5 rings. Jeter is one of only two players on this dream team that have played past the year 2010.
In left field, we have all-time great Ted Williams. Even people who don’t follow baseball have an idea who this guy is because of how dominant he was, much like how most non-sports fans know Michael Jordan and Joe Montana. He went to an unfathomable 17 All-Star games and has a record .482 career on base percentage. Unfortunately, he was never able to win a pennant for the Red Sox. To be fair, he was playing during the Bambino curse, so the odds were against him. For that reason, he will go down as the all-time best player in sports to never win a championship, even over Dan Marino. Let’s not forget he won the MVP award twice, but should have won it four times given that in two seasons he won triple crown but for whatever reason didn’t win the MVP award if you can believe that. If you lead in one statistic two years in a row, that already sets you up to be great. When you can lead in the top 3 most valuable statistics two times and win two separate MVP awards, you are one of baseball’s greatest players.
Covering center field is San Francisco Giants’ star Willie Mays. If you thought Ted Williams was good, listen to these numbers. Mays was a 20-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner, and a World Series champion. Those numbers are insane. He was an All-Star longer than David Ortiz was a player (sorry Jesse, I had to mention that since you didn’t even include Mays). Most players are in their prime for 5-6 years, but he was a Gold Glove Award winner for 12 years. In the sport with the most inconsistency, being great for 24 years is plenty enough to put you in the all-time dream team.
In right field, we have the greatest baseball player of all time. Warning to all reading: a rant is coming up, so prepare for it. I’m really sorry Jesse, I don’t mean any disrespect, but you mean to tell me you left out the greatest player of all time on your list? Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player the world has ever seen. And you put David Ortiz over him? Let me explain the power of Babe Ruth. He hit 60 home runs in a single season and is 3rd on the all-time home runs list. This was back when pitchers dominated baseball. In the early 1900’s the ball was, as a matter of fact, heavier, thus being harder to hit out of the ballpark, and the pitching mound was higher. Ruth also played in a time when pitchers usually only saw a batter once or twice per game. In order to be an MLB player today, you need what’s called a “learner’s mentality”. This explains why most runs are scored later in the game. The basic definition is to learn from what pitchers do, so even if you get out in your first at-bat, you have more knowledge and will have a better chance at getting a hit the next time you face him. Unfortunately for Ruth, he usually only saw the same pitcher once or twice a game. This threw the learner’s mentality out the door. In addition, Ruth also played in a time where batting fundamentals were extremely underdeveloped, meaning less home runs were hit. And Babe Ruth still put up the numbers he did, while maintaining a fabulous pitching record of 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA, I might add. The argument around Ruth is that he wouldn’t make as much contact with today’s more advanced curveballs and increasing strikeout rate. I agree 100% that he would strike out more. But if he played in today’s league, where he saw pitchers multiple times, was taught better fundamentals, and hit lighter baseballs, he possibly could have hit even more than 60 home runs in the season that he did, if you can imagine that. I also would have to say he would pass Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list if he played today. To finalize, Ruth also won seven World Series titles, making him one of the winningest players of all time. So if you insist on hating on the great Babe Ruth, please open your eyes to the facts and figures.
The designated hitter spot would be taken by Barry Bonds. Sure, he had a steroid problem. Sure, he cheated. Does that tarnish his reputation? Yes; it makes him lose his spot in left field, which is held by Ted Williams. But he is still the all-time home runs leader. And we are talking being the leader over 100 years and several generations of players. He also was a 7-time MVP award winner and was a 14-time All-Star. Add 8 Gold Gloves Awards onto his flawless resume, and you have the perfect player to be set as your designated hitter. Yes, I know he wasn’t technically a designated hitter, but the simple truth is I would prefer him batting in the game over actual designated hitters such as Jim Thome and David Ortiz. I don’t like Bonds, but there’s no denying his greatness and legacy he left behind, even though he never won a pennant.
I’m not going to go into deep detail over the backups. Just know I selected these players because they are the best players that aren’t in the starting lineup. If we were to play a season with this team, these guys would basically be utility players to pinch hit, pinch run, substitute in if there’s an injury, etc. My backups are Hank Aaron (you have no idea how long it took me to decide between Williams and Aaron and Bonds and Aaron for those respective positions), Joe DiMaggio (simply put, 56-game hit streak, an unbreakable record), Pete Rose (he gambled, but he’s still the all-time hits leader), Lou Gehrig (what more needs to be said?), Albert Pujols, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle.
Once again, I realize there are too many good hitters in baseball history, so narrowing it down to nine players was just too hard. Backups and honorable mentions were necessary. To finish, I once again would like to express I have no disrespect for long-time writer Jesse Blank. He is exceptional at what he does. But his list had too many problems and too little explanation, so a second article was a priority throughout all of SportsPress, especially myself. If you have any problems with my list and would like to discuss, please comment below. I love to hear what our readers think and want to know what you guys think about one of the most controversial questions: who is the GOAT?