MLB Favorites – My Lifetime

In a recent email thread with my two closest baseball guru friends, we sent missives back-and-forth noting our favorite baseball players in recent memory. More specifically, in our lifetimes – for this project, that spans the 80’s, 90’s, oughts and 10’s. I’m curious to see your favorites – here are MY players. Not the best, just my dogs by position:

Catcher: Mike Piazza. Never seen a catcher hit like that. Period. I hate to admit it, but Buster Posey COULD be on this list except for his extremely dry personality. Excellent player though. Ironically used to love Jason Kendall until he became the literal singles-est hitting player in baseball. Charles Johnson was a ton of fun but his zero bat grated on me when he was a Dodger. Great arm though. Also Benito Santiago was fun, both with the arm and late career at-bat.
Piazza
First Base: Don Mattingly. Gamer. Mustache that wasn’t wack. Awesome baseball cards. Looked great in a uniform. Sweet swing. Manager of my favorite team. Sold. Frank Thomas was just dope. Great, intimidating hitter. I liked Jeff Bagwell at the time, but less and less historically. Go figure. Fred McGriff was lean, dope follow-through, unassuming and just awesome. How do you not love watching Mark McGwire hit dingers, especially that 500+ blast off Randy of all people. Jesus. Mo VaughnCecil Fielder. Prince Fielder is on here too because he shows up every day, loves the game and hits boomers.
1984-donruss-don-mattingly-rc
Second Base: Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Kent.
cbiggio
Third Base: there are sooooooo many ‘pretty good’ guys at this position; Wade Boggs, Matt Williams, Travis Fryman, Ken Caminiti, obviously Chipper Jones is a hall of famer, Jeff Cirillo nobody really excited here. Even UCLA-alum Troy Glaus was a masher but eh. Adrian Beltre is probably the only one that makes a list of ‘favorites.’
10_Adrian-Beltre
Shortstop: you’d think this position would be fun. A-Rod pretty much ruined that. And Tejada. And even Nomar. But Derek Jeter is amazing and carries it himself; Barry Larkin is on here for his play but not his persona. Cal Ripken obviously belongs BUT he was fairly boring, sorry Cal. Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel were fun, but I’m not a defense-first kind of guy, especially in the era in which we grew up. Rafael Furcal was a LOAD of fun for me, so he’s probably #2 behind Jeter, and Hanley Ramirez is fast approaching. Another 30 bombs – and a title? – this year and he leapfrogs Derek.
1993-topps-98-derek-jeter-rc
Outfield: Kirby Puckett in center, Barry Bonds in left, Rickey Henderson in right is my dream outfield. Probably my top three favorite players of my lifetime (?) as well. It’s really hard to leave Ken Griffey Jr. out of my starting lineup but otherwise I’d use Rickey as DH and bat him leadoff, move Kirby over to his late-career RF and we’d have the best/most exciting team I could dream of. Otherwise, Tony Gwynn is on the club. Bo JacksonManny Ramirez was SO exciting and dominant for a period that he’s my big bat. Vladimir Guerrero is on the team, really fun to watch in all facets. Ichiro Suzuki was so poetic/artistic at the bat (and arm!!!!), he’s in. Tim Raines makes the club for sure as well. Darryl Strawberry pre-coke, Eric Davis without a doubt (30/80 club!!!!) I also believe Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are good enough to warrant what may fairly be labeled ‘premature’ inclusion here.
PUCKETT BONDSrickeysteal
Starting Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux are guys I’d pay to watch pitch from now through eternity. In fact, I don’t think you can beat my club with those guys throwing every three days in my three man rotation (!!!!). Seriously though I have to include Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, Fernando, Hershiser, Kevin Brown, David Cone (who I like more post-retirement), David Wells (!!!), Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and pre-coke Doc Gooden. I really enjoy watching Adam Wainwright pitch but he kills the Dodgers so I’ll wait to include him formally, and though it might be premature, Jose Fernandez has some of the best ‘stuff’ I’ve seen since my three aces that I’m going to throw him in there.
randyMARTINEZGreg_Maddux_promo
Closers: This list starts with Dennis Eckersley, continues to Eric Gagne and closes out appropriately with Mo Rivera.
mo
And of course, announcing any and all games would be the incomparable Vin Scully.
vinscully1
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8 comments

  1. J.Rapp

    C Piazza, Gary Carter, Mauer

    1B Keith Hernandez, Pujols, Carlos Delgado, Olerud, McGwire

    2B Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent

    SS Reyes, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken

    3B David Wright, Scott Rolen, Howard Johnson

    LF Bonds, Braun, Manny Ramirez

    CF Griffey, Beltran, Jim Edmonds

    RF Strawberry, Ichiro, Vlad

    DH: Ortiz

    Closer: Billy Wagner, Hoffman, John Franco

    SP: Pedro, Doc Gooden, David Cone, Matt Harvey, randy Johnson, Verlander, Maddux

    Wherever the fuck he plays Miguel Cabrera

    Coach: Torre

  2. Fat John

    Favorites

    1B-W. Clark, McGwire(DH)
    2B-Sax
    SS-Jeter
    3B-Longoria
    C-Piazza
    OF-Griffey Jr., Trout, Ricky
    UTL-Hatcher
    P-Hershiser, Maddux, R. Johnson, Pedro, Halladay
    CL-Mo

  3. The Count

    Catcher- Campy, Roseboro, Bench, Berra, Carter
    IB- Musial, Mccovey, Garvey, McGwire, McGriff, Prince, Pujols, Mattingly,
    2B- J. Robinson, Sandberg, Morgan, Carew, Cano
    3B- Mathews, Rosen, B. Robinson, Beltre, Brett, Schmidt, Boggs, Santo, Boyer
    SS- Ozzie, Furcal, Jeter, Nomar, Ripken, Banks, Wills, Reese, Hanley coming on
    LF- Dusty, Barry, Ricky, Manny, (first names only)
    CF- Mantle. Mays, Snider, Puckett, Edmonds, Kemp, Trout, Griffey, Torii
    RF- Clemente, Mondesi, Gwynn, Kaline, Ichiro, Vlade,
    RHP- Ryan, Gibson, Drysdale, Clemens, Pedro, Maddux, Seaver,
    LHP- Koufax, Kershaw, Johnson, Spahn
    RP- Gagne, Mo, Eck, Reardon, Percival, Gossage, Beck

  4. Son of Sam

    1B – Karros
    2B – Sax
    SS – Jose Offerman
    3B – Pedro Guerrero
    C – Piazza
    OF – Mondesi, Brett Butler, Gibson
    P – Fernando, Hershiser, Nomo
    CP – Gagne

  5. Jose

    This is tough because I realize that my opinion skew very Yankee heavy, so while I include them (obviously) I also tried to name non Yankees I really liked.

    1B – Mattingly – my favorite player of all time. His nickname is the sport he played and there is no bigger compliment.

    Others:

    Thome – big, country dude; good guy, also loved Mattingly

    Tino Martinez – a worthy successor to Mattingly with a number of huge clutch homeruns

    Speaking of huge homeruns – Jason Giambi – always loved his approach and his demeanor changed the Yankee clubhouse for the better; loved his first Yankee moment – a grand slam in extra innings at the Stadium in a pouring rain, having just given up three runs in the top half making it a 13-12 final

    Keith Hernandez/Mark Grace – I put these two together because I loved them for the same reason – TRUE ballplayers who would make plays, rip hits, knock in runs and then make love, rip cigs, knock back beers

    2B – Evan didn’t spend much time on this and I see why – meh

    From a Yankee perspective – knoblauch, Randolph, and Soriano and yes cano who would probably rank first no question if he didn’t break my heart

    Others:

    Biggio, Gant, baerga, utley and deshields (expos years only)

    SS – Jeter – any reason you can think of is probably correct

    Others: none.

    3B – I have a soft spot for Brosius since he was the main 3B during their World Series and I got to see him hit that game 3 homer live in 98 but I’m not sure there was a single third baseman who was my favorite

    Others:

    One of the very, very few steroid guys I have a soft spot for is ken caminiti – that guy was a true gamer who would do (and did) literally everything he could do to play

    Troy Glaus – UCLA

    George Brett was super dope and I always loved the pine tar incident – used to watch that constantly on that baseball in the 80s video from sports illustrated

    Wade Boggs (Yankee years only)

    I always liked ray knight essentially because he straight socked some fool on the field

    Chipper would make this list if I didn’t hate the braves so much

    C – Posada – everyone hollers Vladdy for this, but Georgie never wore batting gloves either his entire career. Under appreciated to this day. Loved everything about him

    Others:

    Benito Santiago and chuck Johnson because of their cannons

    And as a kid, I loved watching tony peña catch with his leg out all languidly

    OF – let’s get the obvious out of the way:

    Rickey and Barry and Kirby and Ichiro and Vladdy and Gwynn and Griffey and Strawberry

    Yankees:

    Again, obvious – Bernie and Winfield (who
    I have seen a couple times in Brentwood, always greeting him with a hearty “Mr. Winfield!” and get a laugh back and a “How’re ya doing?”)

    Others:

    Two Angels – Erstad and Edmonds – loved the way they approached the game and erstad cried every game 162 and I do the same

    Larry Walker – always liked the expos and was really into hockey at the time and Larry was both with a great approach to boot; absolutely loved this guy, called him my favorite non-Yankee

    Bryce Harper – my new favorite non-Yankee, been calling him that for two years now

    SP – more obvious ones:

    Randy, Maddux, glavine (Pedro was amazing but god I hated him), Clemens, Ryan

    Yankees:

    Pettitte – bulldog type, won a lot of games, great at pitching out of trouble, chanted his name in 09, hard not to love this guy

    Mussina – see above minus 09. Loved the way he pitched and his two broken up no nos seem to encapsulate his career

    David Cone – loved this guy from the beginning, crazy pitches, always fun to watch, his perfecto came on yogi Berra day with don Larsen in attendance (!) the guy was magical and I still contend he got robbed of the cy young in 88

    David Wells – the Everyman who dominated when he wasn’t drunk and even when he was

    Others:

    Brett Saberhagen – valley guy, dominant, loved to watch him pitch

    Dennis Martinez and Kevin Appier – all in the delivery

    RP: Mo. Period.

  6. Dauber

    I would submit that while of course my favorite players were Giants (bonds, Clark and Dravecky top 3 for me), a few other noteable guys that I remember for random reasons:

    C
    Mickey Tettleton. Guy ate froot loops before every game, and had his own cereal (briefly) in Detroit.

    1B
    Fred McGriff. Hated that season where he got traded to the Braves for a bowl of soup, and they won like 70% of their games with him to knock out SF… but I loved his swing, especially the long DQ sundae swirl-like finish.

    2B

    Robbie Alomar. This guy was insanely good before he joined the witness relocation program– er, the Mets (more like the WINLESS relocation program, amiright?). Also loved Julio Franco’s batting stance. Tried to do that in little league. Once.

    SS

    Omar Visquel. The way he barehanded the ball on the run– made the crazy defensive gems look routine.

    3B

    Saying Wade Boggs but only the Yankee years is like saying Paul McCartney but only his Wings years. Always liked Howard Johnson; never wanted to miss a Vinny Castillo at bat when he was in his prime; and already mentioned, but George Brett– I’m partial to the clip of him laying on the ground and trying to blow a bunt foul. Hilarious, but also showed how much of a competitor he was.

    OF

    I won’t cover names already mentioned, so instead I would offer that Eric Davis was amazingly athletic, Jose canseco was a jerk but mashed and Andre Dawson was fantastic as well.

    SP

    Pedro and Nolan Ryan were the two opposing pitchers I watched that felt truly electric. Just a different energy. Also remember Kerry Wood pre-elbow surgery throwing a 96mph fastball followed up by a 65 mph change up.

    RP

    Can’t take anything away from Mo, except to say that Trevor Hoffman (to my knowledge) really started the closer entry music, which I think is awesome. And Hells Bells was a cool moment– until of course he gave it up in the 98 series to the Yanks.

    My two cents…

  7. Diddy

    C – Piazza
    1B – Frank Thomas
    2B – Sandberg
    3B – Chipper Jones
    SS – Hanley Ramirez
    OF – Strawberry, Bonds, Manny Ramirez
    SP – Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan
    RP – Wagner

  8. Lance 'em Up

    Here’s my list. …

    Catcher- Terry Steinbach
    IB- Mark McGwire
    2B- Mike Gallego
    3B- Carney Lansford
    SS- Walt Weiss
    LF- Ricky say it’s Ricky
    CF- Hendu
    RF- Jose Canseco
    DH – Dave Parker
    SP – Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Pedro (Pedro is my favorite all time non Athletic at any position)
    RP- Eck

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