The Stain’s Greatest Baseball Team Draft, Part 1

Everybody loves to debate who is the best of all-time at this position, or at that position. Everybody loves to debate lists of the top 10 players of all-time. Here at The Stain Sports, we love doing those things too, but we are too competitive to just put down a measly list. Instead, we decided to draft teams. 25 man rosters, 5 starters, 6 man bullpen, and a five man bench. This draft was not to just pick the greatest players of all time, but the best team we could draft. There are defensive replacements, left handed specialists, and even long relievers. We will be doing a weekly Smear breaking down 5 rounds at a time, then a final Smear looking at the rosters as a whole, debating which team would win a 7 game series, and highlighting the best players to go undrafted. We will each show off our picks and why they are the perfect fit for our team, then we will both explain why the other guy got their picks wrong. Without further ado…Torsten take it away:

Torsten’s take on his first five picks:

1) Edgar Martinez – DH – No, I don’t think he’s the greatest player ever. However, as far as full time DHs go, there’s some real position scarcity. Big Papi’s the only one close, and has comparable numbers, but has played in a hitters’ park for the last 100 years. Martinez spent a long time as one of the most feared and complete hitters in baseball. His excellence was sustained over a lengthy period, and while Papi is great in his own right, his numbers are also bloated a little by two or three massive seasons that make up for some middling ones. This was a pick I had to make to ensure I got the best player in history at his position.

2) Babe Ruth – RF – I’m not sure I really need to justify this pick. But in case I do, if someone hit a dozen home runs a season, they were considered a power hitter. Okay, slight exaggeration there, but you get what I mean. Then The Babe came along. He was unquestionably the hitter who set the standards of slugging for future generations. Plus, who couldn’t use a not-too-shabby left handed emergency pitcher should a game go into the 20th inning?

3) Rogers Hornsby – 2B – His .358 lifetime average is second to only Ty Cobb, and Hornsby played a premium position. His .424 single season mark is still the highest ever. Grover Alexander, one of the greatest pitchers of that era, said about Hornsby, “I’ve tried to fool him every way possible but it just cannot be done. Personally, I don’t think a more skillful man ever stepped up to the plate.” High praise, no?

4) LF – Rickey Henderson – LF – Remember, we’re drafting a REAL team. And a real team needs a leadoff hitter. Why not the best ever? Before he hung on too long at the end of his career, and his play failed to live up to his boasting, he was the single most disruptive force at the top of a lineup that baseball had ever seen. He got on base, had power, and drove pitchers to apoplexy with his speed. Few players, if any, could change a game like him. The career stolen base record is icing rather than a primary reason he gets picked this high.

5) SS – Alex Rodriguez – SS – We didn’t make a PED rule before we did this draft. A Rod, controversy being what it is, is indisputably the greatest offensive shortstop in history. Power, speed, the whole package. And unlike many power hitters who also run reasonably well, he didn’t abandon that aspect of his game as his career went on, stealing 24 bases as recently as 2007, his 14th season in the league. By the way, that season he also hit 54 home runs, drove in 156, and led the league in runs scored and slugging percentage.

Shaun’s take on his first five picks:

1) Ted Williams – LF – As a Red Sox fan, there is no way I am passing on starting my team with the greatest bat in baseball history. The guy could hit in his sleep. He is the last .400 hitter, and it is well known he could have sat out the final game of the year to secure the .400 average, but refused, went out to play, and raised his average. Oh, and he fought in two wars, won a bunch of military accommodations, and may or may not have turned water into wine a time or two, just saying.

2) Brooks Robinson – 3B – Mike Schmidt is often referred to as the greatest third baseman of all time, but I disagree. At the age of 63 I had the pleasure of watching him in a legends game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY. At that age, he was still the best fielding third baseman in baseball. He may not have had the greatest bat at third, but he was no slouch. His overall value to a team was an easy choice for me here.

3) Johhny Bench – C – Johnny Bench is only the greatest all-around catcher in history. He was masterful behind the dish, and could have made the Hall on offensive ability alone. He mashed 389 long balls while gunning down 43% of the guys who dared to run on him. In addition, based on stories I have been told by a guy a used to coach with that spent 7 years playing with Bench, and a guy whose name I will not disclose to protect the not so innocent, Johnny Bench used to host toga parties that made Animal House look like priests. He is worthy of a top 5 pick just for the post game festivities.

4) Sandy Koufax – SP – Not gonna lie, I may have taken Koufax here because I was very upset with Torsten for taking Rickey Henderson just before this pick. That being said, there isn’t a better pitcher in his prime than Koufax. He went 165-87 with an ERA of 2.76 and racked up 2,396 strike outs in just an 11 year career. It is unfortunate his career didn’t last longer, but calling his career short did prevent his arm from falling off.

5) Hank Aaron – RF – I get the real career home run leader and RBI leader at the fifth pick, steal. The man dealt with as much hate mail as Jackie Robinson, but just went out every day and played with class. He hit for a high average, crushed home runs, and simply produced runs. He had 150 or more hits in an MLB record 17 consecutive seasons and made the All-Star game just 25 times.

Torsten’s take on Shaun’s picks:

There’s no way to argue Teddy Ballgame, a worthwhile number one choice, the greatest hitter of his generation and a war hero. I think he reached a little on Brooksy, but the guy did invent the gold glove… or something like that anyway. I think Johnny Bench, his excellence notwithstanding, may have been a bit of a reach too, considering the abundance of excellent catchers available. If I made a mistake, it was in not grabbing Sandy before Shaun could. For my money, the greatest pitcher that ever lived was worthy of a top five pick. I’m just not sure who I would have put off grabbing in order to get him. Baseball’s all-time LEGITIMATE home run king in the fifth round is great value any way you configure it. So far, I think I’ve got the edge but we’ll see how the next five rounds shake out.

Shaun’s take on Torsten’s picks:

One pick into the draft and I won the series. Edgar Martinez was a fantastic hitter, and there can be an argument over who is better, he or David Ortiz, but either one will do, and #1 overall is way too high. Now, I will admit, in a later edition you will see I grab Ortiz, and I grabbed him earlier than I would have liked because Martinez was off the board and I couldn’t risk Torsten taking him and screwing me at a position. Then Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby, no argument can be made, both are the best there was at their position. I will bypass my feelings for Ricky Henderson going in the fourth because it would simply be an expletive laced rant that Torsten received via text that day. A-Rod fifth is fine, assuming our make believe commish doesn’t ban him for life for his part in the biogenesis investigation. While Torsten way over reached for Martinez, he is off to a solid start, but I love the makeup of my squad so far. There is a bonafide ace, defensive wizard, a power source, the greatest hitter ever, and hands down the best guy at his position, a pretty good way to start off for me.

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