Torsten’s take on his picks:
Well, five picks left and four spots on my staff to fill. Good thing pitching is deep, and a couple of guys I had my eye on earlier on are still available.
21) Tom Seaver – SP – Tom Terrific isn’t often one of the first guys brought up when the greatest starting pitchers of all time are mentioned, but he really should be. He was the complete package, with more than 300 lifetime wins and a career ERA under 3. Reggie Jackson, one of the premier power hitters in Seaver’s generation once said about him, “Blind men come to the park just to hear him pitch.”
22) Barry Larkin – MI – Few infielders in history combined offensive prowess with defensive wizardry the way Larkin did. What team couldn’t use a shortstop with a resume that includes 3 gold gloves, 9 silver slugger awards, an MVP, and 12 all-star selections? And if he didn’t share a position with Ozzie Smith in the early part of his career, those 3 gold gloves may be more like 6… or 12.
23) Steve Carlton – SP – Somehow, the best left-handed starting pitcher of the last 40 years is my number five starter. His accomplishments are numerous: He once held the all-time strikeouts record, he was the first ever four-time Cy Young winner, once had a streak of 69 consecutive starts with at least 6 innings pitched, the list goes on. But for me, his most impressive accomplishment is winning 27 games in 1972 for a dogsh*t Phillies team that won a TOTAL of only 59. Awesome? I think so.
24) Wilbur Wood – RP – I needed another lefty out of the bullpen, and with all the power arms already in my pen, I decided to go with the knuckleballer, Wood. It’s not a gimmick, though, I assure you. Wood won 164 games in his career, made three all-star teams, and finished 2nd in a Cy Young vote. His dual experience starting and relieving make him the ideal second lefty in a pen… in case I need someone to finish the last five innings of a 21 inning game carryover game that was suspended, and throw a complete game shutout in the regularly scheduled contest immediately after… like he did in 1973
25) Eric Gagne – RP – I know, I know. But hear me out. The brightest flames generally burn out the quickest, but the three year period between 2002 and 2004 where he converted a record 84 consecutive save opportunities is, albeit a brief one, the most dominant period ever experience by a reliever. Injuries derailed his career, and there were allegations of PED use, but if you needed three outs during that three year period, was there a pitcher you’d rather use?
Shaun’s take on his picks:
21) John Franco – RP – Looking back, there were really only two left handed pitchers that has long term success at the back end of a bullpen, Billy Wagner and John Franco. Torsten took Wagner some time ago, and I am not convinced Franco is not the better of the two. The seemingly ageless one pitched in the big leagues for 21 years while compiling 90 wins and 424 saves. He is as decorated a lefty reliever as there is in baseball history.
22) Frank Robinson – OF – He has his number retired by two teams, he is the only player to ever win MVP in both leagues, he has won a triple crown, won rookie of the year, won World Series MVP, won an All-Star game MVP, was named manager of the year in 1989, and has a gold glove. In case the laundry list of trophies aren’t enough, Frank Robinson will patrol the corner outfield or be a guy off the bench who has 586 career home runs and over 1,800 RBIs. Decent guy to have on the bench.
23) Lee Smith – RP – When you really break it down, there is not much of a history of really dominant relievers. You have the handful that are the cream of the crop, but for the most part, throughout history, you have guys that dominate for three or four years, then fall off the cliff. Then you have guys that just go out and get the job done for almost two decades and retire as the al-time leader in saves. For that reason, the last guy in my bullpen was an easy decision, Lee Smith.
24) Torii Hunter – CF – My bench has Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Rod Carew…that is enough excellent bats, I want a guy I can put in in the 7th inning that will save a game with the glove, enter Torii Hunter. Hunter is no slouch with the bat, he has over 1.000 RBIs, 300 home runs, 2,000 hits, and has nearly 200 steals, but he also has countless robbed home runs and diving grabs. He can steal my team a bag when I need it, or be the best defensive replacement in history.
25) Carlton Fisk – C – Honestly, there was one name on my mind when it came down to this final pick, but there were two players I was debating. How you ask? Simple, the name was Pudge, the players were Carlton Fisk and Ivan Rodriguez. Neither guy would be the wrong choice, so, I allowed my rooting interests to break the tie. I was at Fisk’s induction into the Hall of Fame, and he hit the most famous home run in Red Sox history. Had I originally gone the rout Torsten went at catcher, an offensive guy, I would take Ivan for his defensive prowess, but nobody will accuse Johnny Bench of being poor behind the dish, so Fisk is my backup backstop.
Torsten’s take on Shaun’s picks:
I love the Frank Robinson and Torii Hunter picks. If you’re rounding out a roster on the back end, you’re picking for a specific purpose and I think he did that really well. I’m not entirely convinced that he couldn’t have picked slightly better than Franco or Smith, but you can’t really argue with their fairly gaudy lifetime statistics. Fisk was probably a better fit for my team, as Piazza was for his, but that is what it is.
My starting line-up ends up like this:
1. Rickey Henderson
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Willie Mays
4. Babe Ruth
5. Josh Gibson
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Rogers Hornsby
8. Chipper Jones
9. Edgar Martinez.
My rotation stacks up like this:
1. Warren Spahn
2. Christy Mathewson
3. Pedro Martinez
4. Steve Carlton
5. Tom Seaver.
I’m feeling confident.
Shaun’s take on Torsten’s picks:
Torsten finished off his rotation with Seaver and Carlton, which are two great pitchers, and no real criticism can be placed there (other than the fact his rotation clearly falls short of mine). Barry Larkin as his middle infielder, not really sold on him. His starter is A-Rod, who had to move to third because he was a lesser fielder than the overrated (defensively) Derek Jeter played short when A-Rod was traded to the Yankees. Larkin was a great player, but Ozzie Smith would fit his team better here, and I think he really dropped the ball. Clemente, Rose, Piazza, and Mantle were already on his bench, he really could have used the defensive help. I like Wood as another addition to his bullpen and I do find it interesting we both end up with a knuckle ball specialist in our pens….interesting. With roster spot 25 Torsten failed. I get that Eric Gagne was phenomenal when he was in his prime…those two or three years…but he was terrible the rest of his career. If you want to look at these rosters merely as the best season of the players career, you can’t deny Gagne belongs, but a guy that tallied a career save total under 200 and an ERA near 3.50 just seems like the one name of the fifty chosen that doesn’t belong.
My starting line-up ends up like this:
1. Ken Griffey Jr.
2. Ernie Banks
3. Ted Williams
4. Hank Aaron
5. Stan Musial
6. Johnny Bench
7. David Ortiz
8. Brooks Robinson
9. Joe Morgan
My rotation stacks up like this:
1. Sandy Koufax
2. Bob Gibson
3. Randy Johnson
4. Nolan Ryan
5. Greg Maddux
In the end, I truly believe I win a series regardless of the length based purely on my rotation. These teams are very evenly matched, but I would start my fifth starter against any of Torsten’s five any day of the week. I really think that is where the scales tip in my direction. Not to mention my rotation and lineup are a perfect mix of lefties and righties that will take the game out of the manager’s hands in large part.