As we see every Summer with the MLB All Star Game, any time you compile a team of great players there are going to be snubs. We were not restricted to the archaic and nincompoopish rule that each team be represented when selecting our all timers, but still, in the history of baseball there have certainly been more than 50 great players.
As a preamble to my snubs submissions, I would like to say that I purposely snubbed Barry Bonds and Ty Cobb from my team, and now I’m snubbing them from my snubs. Clearly, character concern/PED use wasn’t a huge factor for me when assembling my roster, but lines need to be drawn somewhere and I drew mine in front of them.
Torsten’s Snubs and Coaches:
OF: Ichiro Suzuki – A recent addition to the 4,000 hit club, if you count his career in Japan, which you should, because he’s awesome regardless of what country he is in. The idiots who use Sabermetrics as the gospel will point to a somewhat low .362 career OBP for someone who sports a career batting average of .320, but find me a manager who won’t take that from his leadoff guy. You can’t. Still not enough for you? He’s a 10-time gold glover. I’m not sure how he made neither of our rosters. He’s undoubtedly in the twilight of his brilliant career but he’s a legend. Honorable Mentions – Robin Yount, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Harmon Killebrew
IF: Sadaharu Oh – Performance enhancing drugs used: 0. Career home runs hit: 868. Bobby Valentine, who managed in Japan for years, recently said that pretty much all everyday players in Japan could make an MLB roster. I don’t know if that’s an overstatement, but we’ve seen the proof that players can come over here from Japan and be superstars. It’s unlikely that Oh would have hit 868 home runs had he played his entire career in MLB, but it’s entirely plausible he’d have surpassed 500. Maybe even 600. Possibly even… nah… he wouldn’t have reached 700, would he have? Here’s some food for thought. In MLB, sluggers are frequently allowed to swing away on 3-0 counts. They’re also encouraged to expand the strike zone a bit if they see a pitch they can drive but may be out of the zone. If the movie Mr. Baseball is to be believed, neither of those is really true in Japan. Nobody will ever know, but isn’t it fun to wonder if Oh could have reached 1,000 career dingers with a more “Western” approach to hitting? Honorable Mentions – Frank Thomas, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Derek Jeter
SP: Gaylord Perry – I hemmed and hawed over this, not because Perry isn’t deserving of this recognition, but because there are a lot of pitchers who went “undrafted” in this little exercise of ours with impressive enough careers to seamlessly slot in to the back end of mine or Shaun’s rotation without any noticeable drop off from those already there. But I went with Perry for several reasons. His career statistics (more than 300 wins and 3,500 Ks) speak for themselves, but he did with guile and cunning, as opposed to overpowering people. His spitball was a defining pitch of his generation, though he threw a variety of pitches expertly. Think of him as a Greg Maddux who was willing to take some liberties with the rules. Honorable Mentions – Cy Young, Jack Morris, and when we do this again in five years, Clayton Kershaw
RP: Jeff Reardon – I think we pretty much covered the relievers. Reardon had an excellent career. You could plug in guys like Joe Nathan, Robb Nen, or Dave Righetti who had really nice careers, or you could throw in a guy like Randy Myers as an additional lefty, or Dan Quisenberry on the other side.
Manager: Earl Weaver – When you have a lineup full of superstars, you need a manager who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Weaver certainly fit that bill over the course of his career.
Hitting Coach: Hiroshi Arakawa – I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea about hitting coaches. But I stumbled onto the fact that Arakawa mixed Zen and samurai training into his hitting coaching. Samurai hitters? Pass the guacamole.
Pitching Coach: Dave Wallace – Again, don’t know a lot of pitching coaches but I was able to see what he did with the Dodgers in the 90s and that was impressive stuff.
Shaun’s Snubs and Coaches:
OF: Barry Bonds – Ok, I will give in, hate him or hate him, he was great. Regardless of all the things he “supposedly” put into his body, there might not have been a better bat to ball hitter in history. When Barry Bonds swung the bat, chances are he was making hard contact.
IF: Mike Schmidt – Torsten and I both made strong cases for the third basemen we chose for our teams, but it is hard to argue Schmidt isn’t one of the best players in baseball history. Personally I have him as the second best third baseman in history, but many have him as the greatest.
SP: Roger Clemens – Another poster child of the steroid era, but even before that, he was as dominant a pitcher as there ever was to start his career in Boston. He has the most Cy Young awards of all-time, and his stuff was second to none.
RP: Dan Quisenberry – Quisenberry is actually the first guy I think of when thinking back to side armed pitchers, over Eck. He was the first player to ever record 40 saves in a season, and has the best ERA+ of any reliever in history. Actually, he is tied with Hoyt Wilhelm, but better than Mo Rivera.
Manager: Sparky Anderson – Torsten and I both live within miles of Sparky Anderson Field, and you would be hard pressed to find somebody who cares about baseball in the area that doesn’t have something great to say about the man. In addition to being a great guy, the man was a phenomenal manager. I would have him run my team any day.
Hitting Coach: Rudy Jaramillo – The 2013 season marked the first time Judy Jamarillo was not a hitting coach in baseball since the 1990 season. He started off with the Houston Astros at the time of the Killer B’s, moved on to coach serial 200 hit man Michael Young in Texas, before finally admitting not even he could save the Chicago Cubs over the past few years. Cub fans, you know your team is in trouble when the greatest hitting coach in history can’t even help your club.
Pitching Coach: Leo Mazzone – Remember the Atlanta Braves’ pitching staff in the 90’s? Then you probably remember their pitching coach rocking back and forth every game in the dugout. That guy was Leo Mazzone. Did the Braves have incredible talent, yes, but they were also all coached up by this great pitching coach.