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National League Team by Team - Baseball's Greatest Players
My favorite team in all of professional sports, not just Baseball, is the St. Louis Cardinals. I have seen a few games, watched more on tv, and listened to even more on the radio. I follow them in fantasy baseball (one year every player on one of my fantasy teams was a Cardinal). But I also follow other teams and have my own thoughts as to who is the greatest players of each team. I thought I would throw these out to you for thoughts, memories, and just pure enjoyment. So, team by team, here we go. National League first.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a relatively new team, having been founded in 1998. But they have accomplished a lot in that short time, and have a World Series Championship to their name already. However, due to their short life they do not have too many "great" players to draw from. So here goes.
Hitter: 1) Luis Gonzalez 2) Steve Finley 3) Matt Williams
Pitchers: 1) Randy Johnson 2) Curt Schilling 3) Brandon Webb
I realize this may be weak, but Johnson and Schilling are locks anywhere they could play. The others...ehhh.
Atlanta Braves. They have had their share of great ones, both while in Milwaukee and after they moved to Atlanta. I mean, if you win a division title for 14 straight years, you must have some truly great talent, right? But did you know they started life as the Boston Red Stockings? Or that at one time they were the Boston Beaneaters? Whew, what a name! In 1953 they moved to Milwaukee and became the Braves. In 1966 they moved to Atlanta where they still reside. So, here are my first picks for greatest ever on the Braves.
Hitters: 1) Hank Aaron 2) Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones 3) Dale Murphy
Pitchers: 1) Greg Maddux 2) Tom Glavine 3) John Smotlz
Let the debate begin!
Those Loveable Losers themselves, the Cubbies. I have to tell you, the rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals is great regardless of when the Cubs last won a series (1908 - they're due. Cubs fans that will be in 2015. See Back to the Future Part II). And the Cubs have had some truly great players over the years. Here are my choices.
Hitters: 1) Ernie Banks 2) Ryne Sandberg 3) Andre Dawson
Pitchers: 1) Mordicai "Three Fingers" Brown 2) Rick Sutcliffe 3) Lee Smith
Special Award to the Cubs for having the most famous double play combination in history - Tinkers to Evers to Chance.
And for those who won't agree with me on The Hawk, Andre Dawson I have just this to say: ANY player who will sign a blank contract to play for a team deserves to be listed. He wanted to play for them and signed the contract without having an amount of pay on it. Can you imagine another player doing this?
And who didn't love Harry Carry? "Ah 1, ah 2, ah 3..Take me out to the ballgame!"
Another fairly new team, the Rockies first played in 1993 so again they will have a shallower pool to draw from.
Hitter: 1) Larry Walker 2) Todd Helton 3) Troy Tulowitski
Pitchers: 1) Jorge de la Rosa 2) Ubaldo Jimenez 3) Huston Street
As I said, a little thin especially at pitcher. I don't think anyone would mind saying Larry Walker is the greatest player the Rockies have had to date, but Todd Helton is finishing a great career and Tulo is still in the midst of a great career barring injury.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Formerly known as "Dem Bums from Brooklyn" the Dodgers took their team West in 1958 and settled in Los Angeles. This is one of the more storied franchises in Baseball history. Six World Series, eight Cy Young award winners, and twelve Rookie of the Year winners says that they know how to play. And boy, do they ever. If I am not mistaken, even Mr. Ed had a scrimmage with them one year!
Hitters: 1) Jackie Robinson 2) Roy Campanella 3) Leo Durocher
Pitchers: 1) Sandy Koufax 2) Don Drysdale 3) Don Sutton
Another "new" team, the Marlins began life in 1993 as the Florida Marlins. They have won two World Series, and had a fire sale after each one. So, that being said it might be a task saying who their best players have been.
Hitters: 1) Miguel Carbrera 2) Gary Sheffield 3) Edgar Renteria
Pitchers: 1) Charlie Hough 2) Kevin Brown 3) Carl Pavano
A former American League expansion team, the Brewers joined the National League in 1998. They have appeared in only one World Series, losing the my Cardinals in 1982.
Hitters: 1) Robin Yount 2) Paul Molitor 3) Prince Fielder
Pitchers: 1) Mike Caldwell 2) Ben Sheets 3) Rollie Fingers
Another player who appears on the Atlanta Braves list is Hank Aaron. Aaron won in Milwaukee when the Braves were there, and returned to the city with the Brewers in 1976. He finished his career here as a DH.
And I have to mention Bob Uecker here. A player with my Cardinals and the Brewers, he is one of the all time great characters in baseball, as well as being a TV and film star (see: Major League). Greatest line has to be "Just a bit outside."
New York Mets
The New York Metropolitans, AKA The Mets. The Miracle Mets. Twice. If only Billy Buckner hadn't muffed that ground ball in 1986. Ah, the curse of the Bambino still lived at that time!
You couldn't get much worse than the Mets in their first season. They lost a record 120 games, winning only 40. Ouch. But a short seven years later, they were the toast of the world, having beaten the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 to become The Miracle Mets.
Hitters: 1) Mike Piazza 2) Gary Carter 3) David Wright
Pitchers: 1) Tom Seaver 2) Warren Spahn 3) Nolan Ryan
Although Ryan only played a short time with the Mets, he is one of the all time greats, and here is where it all began.
Tom Terrific is the player with the highest voting percentage in Hall of Fame history with 98.84% and is the only Met in the Hall wearing a Met hat. Next to Gibson, he may be one of the all time greatest National League pitchers ever.
The oldest continuous one name one franchise team in American sports, they have been around since Moses played second base for them. No, not really; just since 1883. They have two World Series championships in that time, the last in 2008.
Hitters: 1) Mike Schmidt 2) Richie Ashburn 3) Chuck Klein
Pitchers: 1) Steve Carlton 2) Grover Cleveland Alexander 3) Jim Bunning
The Phillies have seen some great players on their field over the years. Jimmie Foxx, Kid Nichols, Hack Wilson, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, and Ryne Sandberg to name but a few.
Who can forget "We Are Family" as it was sang by thousands of Pirate fans during those games in 1979? One of the all time great teams that year, led by Pops Willie Stargell. Their lineage runs back through the years, back to the late 1800's. They have five World Series, and although they are in the midst of a twenty years losing streak, I think they will make the playoffs this year. Time will tell.
Hitters: 1) Roberto Clemente 2) Willie Stargell 3) Honus Wagner
Pitchers: 1) Steve Blass 2) Doug Drabek 3) Kent Tekulve
San Diego Padres
The Padres began life in 1969 and have yet to win a World Series. In fact, they only have 13 winning seasons in their history. They have also never had a no-hitter, nor a player hit for the cycle. Dubious records indeed.
Hitters: 1) Tony Gwynn 2) Dave Winfield 3) Steve Garvey
Pitchers: 1) Goose Gossage 2) Gaylord Perry 3) Trevor Hoffman
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants. In the city by the bay. McCovey Cove. A storied franchise to say the least. Winner of two of the last three World Series. Originally, they were the New York Giants before moving out West in 1958. They are second to the Cardinals with seven National League World Series titles and have twenty two National League Pennants over the years. They also have the distinction of having more Hall of Famers in their team history than any other team.
Hitters: 1) Willie Mays 2) WIllie McCovey 3) Orlando Cepeda
Pitchers: 1) Juan Marichal 2) Christy Mathewson 3) Hoyt Wilhelm
I refuse to acknowledge Barry Bonds here, or Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa or any other "steroid" suspected player. When you are proven clean, come and see me. Until then....
St Louis Cardinals
Ah, finally! My St Louis Cardinals All Time Greatest Players! Now, who do I put here? Ted Simmons aka Simba? Or maybe Kenny Reitz, the man known as The Zamboni Machine for the way he scooped up groundballs? Curt Flood, the father of free agency? Vince Coleman, the last man to steal 100 bases in a year for the Birds, but not fast enought a outrun a tarp machine? Willie Magee, who had the second highest batting average by a switch hitter in history? Maybe someone from my neck of the woods, like Kenny Boyer? Or someone Joplin named a stadium after like Ol Sarge Gabby Street? Oh, maybe it will be easier thinking of the pitchers!
Steve Carlton, maybe; or The Mad Hungarian Al Hrabosky or Bob Forsch or old walking underwear himself, Joaquin Andujar or Ken Dayley or Todd Worrell or Tudor or Horton or ACK! Enough already! Here we go!
Hitters: 1) Stan The Man Musial 2) Rogers Hornsby 3) Red Schoendienst
Pitchers 1) Bob Gibson 2) Dizzy Dean 3) Chris Carpenter
I know I could have gone with Lou Brock or Ozzie Smith as the #3 hitter, but anyone who has been a part of one organization for approaching 70 years deserves his spot in Cardinal history here. And maybe my including Carp as one of the pitchers is off center, but name me another pitcher in any organization who has his post-season credentials. Other than Schilling, he has more wins, fewer losses, and a lower ERA than anyone, even Greg Maddux.
As far as pitchers, Gibson may be one of the best ever. I mean, he caused the league to lower the mound after his incredible 1.12 ERA in 1967. It was just too hard to get a hit off of him, so they changed the way they played the game on his account. Imagine: they changed the rules because of him. Wow.
Some may criticize me for not having Albert Pujols on here. He left. He had a chance to be the best ever, and he walked away. So, good luck on the West Coast Albert. But even if he had stayed, who would you pull off? Musial? Hornsby? A 70 year team person like Red? Not me.
The team known formerly as The Montreal Expos. They had a decent history when they resided in our neighbor to the north. Here in the States they are just beginning. And what a beginning they are off to. But now is now, and that was then. So, on to the list.
Hitters: 1) Andre Dawson 2) Gary Carter 3) Tim Raines
Pitchers: 1) Pedro Martinez 2) Bill Gullickson 3) Steven Strasburg
I know, Strasburg is nowhere near to where he will be but really, how exciting is this guy? He hearkens back to the Seaver, Ryan, Gibson days, throwing smoke at you and daring you to hit him. He will become one of the best in team history, just give him time.
And Tim "Rock" Raines remains one of the greatest players not in the Hall of Fame. He should be, no question.
Okay, did you make it here? Did you read each name? Do you agree or disagree with any or all of them? Here's your chance to have your say. The phone lines are open and operators are standing by.
At some point I will go through the junior league, those American Leaguers. With their Designated Hitters and such it is a different game over there.