Major League Baseball is going around asking who the best players are for each franchise in their history. Quite a task. I mean, who is the greatest Yankee among all the greats they've had?? And, at the same point, who is the greatest Devil Ray?? Intriguing to say the least.
So, I am going to do my part....in a 3-part look at the greatest of each franchise in the MLB, NFL and NBA. I'm sure that my picks could be controversial....but it is me talking. I am not a fan of each of these franchises...so I'm not going to fret if fans of those teams call me crazy for certain picks.
Not all of my picks were on the MLB's official list [vote here: Major League Baseball : DHL Home Town Heroes Sweepstakes] but the list is flawed a bit.
Either way....here is Major League Baseball.
ANGELS: Tim Salmon. Salmon is among the all time Angel leaders in most offensive categories. He's been there for their highest moment - their World Series championship. He also was a California Angel, an Anaheim Angel, and now a Los Angeles Angel. He could be eclipsed by Vlad Guerrero at some point.
ASTROS: Jeff Bagwell. This one was tough. Bagwell beat out Nolan Ryan for that top spot [Ryan was also considered for the Angels' top spot]. Bags leads the Astros in HRs and RBIs by a ton, and is 2nd to Craig Biggio in hits. He also has an MVP award, a Gold Glove and a Rookie of the Year honor.
ATHLETICS: Lefty Grove. What a tough one here. I love Ricky Henderson and Reggie Jackson...but Grove was just that much more dominant. From 1928-1931 [when hitters ruled the league]...Grove put up records of 24-8, 20-6, 28-5 and 31-4...and lead the A's to three straight World Series titles.
BLUE JAYS: Carlos Delgado. Delgado is by far the Jays top HR hitter [336 to George Bell's 202]...by far the Jays top RBI man [1058 to Bell's 740]...total bases leader [2786 to Bell's 2201] and walks leader [827 to Lloyd Moseby's 547].
BRAVES: Hank Aaron. Think about this. Even with all these guys running up the home run charts....Aaron still leads them all. And he did so in an era where ballparks weren't as small nor steroids were as prevelant. Not only is he the HR King...he's the RBI King and Extra Base Hit King as well. Of course, when 755 of your hits were home runs, you should be pretty high on that list.
BREWERS: Robin Yount. Yount is everything in the Brewers' history. A great hitter who excelled in the outfield and at shortstop [in fact, he won two MVP awards...one at each position]. He had deceptive speed [he was one of the better doubles and triples hitters and was the leader of the 1982 AL championship team.
CARDINALS: Stan Musial. Some players just define organizations, and Stan the Man does that. He has a lifetime average on .331....475 HRs....1,951 RBIs...7 hitting titles....3 MVP awards....and 20 straight All Star appearances. He also won three World Series Championships.
CUBS: Ernie Banks. Just as Musial is Mr Cardinal....Banks truly is Mr Cub. Before there were the A-Rods, Nomars and those other big hitting shortstops....there was Banks. Five times he hit at least 40 HRs in a season and won two MVP awards.
DEVIL RAYS: Carl Crawford. There isn't much to choose from here, but Crawford is the best talent that has ever come to Tampa [well, for the home team].
DIAMONDBACKS: Randy Johnson. Johnson was good in Montreal. Great in Seattle. But he became elite in Arizona. In his 6 seasons in the desert, only once did his ERA go above 2.64 for a season. And that was his injury shortened season of 2003. He also won four straight Cy Young awards in Arizona.
DODGERS: Sandy Kofax. The best left handed pitcher ever whose minicule ERAs in the 1960s make him a legend. And he's one of the few players on this list that didn't hang on too long.
GIANTS: Willie Mays. It is hard for me not to have Barry Bonds anywhere, but Mays is the best Giant for many reasons. He has the most HRs as a Giant more RBIs as a Giant, more runs as a Giant and pretty much everything else. Also, Mays was a much better defensive player while playing a tougher defensive position. Oh, and that steroids thing.
INDIANS: Bob Feller. Feller led the American League in strikeouts every year he pitched from 1939 to 1948. Of course, WWII took four seasons away from him [players did that back then]. Yet he came back in 1946 win 27 wins....with 36 of them complete games....and 317 strikeouts.
MARINERS: Ken Griffey, Jr. Remember how Griffey was supposed to be "the next greatest player". His Cincinnati time has brought injuries, but his Seattle time was why people felt that way. His great 56 home run seasons [twice he did that] is overshadowed by the roided up numbers that others put ahead of him. And unlike those guys, Griffey was a Gold Glove outfielder who stole hits and home runs just as he was getting them.
MARLINS: Mike Lowell. Miguel Cabrera should take over this spot any day now....but Lowell leads the franchise in most stats. Florida was a tough one since they basically follow the "develop guys....win...deal em off" program.
METS: Tom Seaver. Another former Red, Seaver was the glue of the franchise during that magical run in the late 1960s early 1970s. He has a lifetime 2.86 ERA...which is amazin' in the modern era.
NATIONALS: Andre Dawson. I know that most of the Hawks numbers have been eclipsed by Guerrero...and Dawson was long gone before the team moved to DC, but he was the top dog of all the Expos/Nats. Gary Carter and Tim Wallace may have him matched in the stats column, but Dawson's overall talent puts him ahead. Just factoring in the Nats?? Well, I guess Alphonso Soriano's half a season.
ORIOLES: Cal Ripken Jr. The second "Jr" on this list....but Cal meant more to Baltimore than most great players could. I always said that if it wasn't for "the Streak", than Ripken wouldn't be thought of as highly. But, again, that's like saying if not for the home runs, no one would care about Babe Ruth. Ripken also was a great segue from the defensive minded shortstops of the 1980s to the power hitting ones of the 1990s and today.
PADRES: Tony Gwynn. In an age of power ball...Gwynn was still one of the most reliable hitters ever. He also revolutionized the way hitters prepare themselves as far as notes and video. He has 8 batting titles...including a .394 average in 1994, and will be a Hall of Famer next year.
PHILLIES: Steve Carlton. This one is really hard for me. I had Mike Schmidt's name typed there a couple of times. He did have 8 home run titles mixed with his 10 Gold Gloves. But Carlton was as money as you could have...even on some bad teams. He won 4 Cy Young awards. The 1972 season alone is just unreal! Carlton went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA on a team that ended up winning just 59 games.
PIRATES: Honus Wagner. The O.G. Eight hitting titles, five RBI titles, five stolen base titles and a darn good defensive shortstop. When your tobacco card is that sought after....I guess you are pretty good.
RANGERS: Juan Gonzalez. He is the Rangers all time HR King, RBI King, second in runs, third in hits and has two MVP awards. He also was a leader in the first Rangers playoff teams. It was a close call with Juan Gone, Pudge Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.
RED SOX: Ted Williams. He could be the greatest hitter that ever lived. The last man to hit .400 for a season, did so 65 years ago. And if WWII and Korea hadn't stolen five of his peak years, who knows what kind of records Williams would own right now.
REDS: Johnny Bench. As my favorite team...this one is tough. But I will go with Johnny Bench over Pete Rose. Rose is my favorite player and means more to the city of Cincinnati than Bench ever will. However, Bench may be the best catcher to put on a mask [well, aside from Josh Gibson] and reinvented what a catcher could be.
ROCKIES: Todd Helton. For a franchise with nothing much to cheer for, Helton has been the diamond there. He is Colorado's all time HR, RBI and hit king. He also leads all active hitters in average.
ROYALS: George Brett. Brett won a batting title in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Amazing. He also pretty much owns the Kansas City record books.
TIGERS: Ty Cobb. Cobb owns the #1 career batting average, he's #2 in hits, #2 in runs, #4 in total bases, #4 in stolen bases and #5 in RBIs. One of the greatest ever.
TWINS: Walter Johnson. Sure, Johnson never played for the "Minnesota Twins", but in their former life as the original Washington Senators, dude won 417 games [2nd all time]....with an unhearded of 110 shutouts [2nd place trails him by 20 shutouts]. As just a Twins player, I'd vote Kirby Puckett.
WHITE SOX: Frank Thomas. Thomas dominates most offensive categories in White Sox lore. May not be as revered as Luke Appling....but still, the greatest White Sox player.
YANKEES: Babe Ruth. The Yankees have had some greats, but none did for baseball what Ruth did. He completely changed the game from "small ball" to a power game. Everything that has happened in baseball since can be attributed to what Ruth did.