The All-Time National League Team

I’ve been researching the history of Hall of Fame players lately, as well as one by one examining the credentials of possible Hall of Famers for the recent vote and with all of that information rattling around in my head I had the thought that, Boy, it would be tough to pick an all-time roster. As a youthful baseball fan I used to keep all kinds of personal stats and make lists all the time, but I haven’t done that in decades.

At the risk of being called stupid and asked “How could you leave so-and-so off?” I decided to give it a whirl now. Based both on research and personal prejudice the following constitutes my all-time, National League roster, complete with coaches and manager. I will follow up with the same for the American League, a Negro Leagues All-Star team featuring those deprived of a Major League opportunity (or available only for a limited one because of age), and then a combined all-time all-time team.

Retired baseball player Pete Rose attending UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Pete is on my all-time National League team as the career hits leader. Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The structure is this: 12-man pitching staff, including relievers. Two players each at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop and third base. Five outfielders and one all-purpose utilityman. I’m throwing in one notable stat per player after their name.

I do this fully aware that the players left out might beat the players I included in a seven-game All-Galaxy Series. Here I go anyway.

Manager: John McGraw. Coaches: Leo Durocher, Sparky Anderson, Walt Alston, all in the Hall of Fame as managers. Plus Dusty Baker, a players coach to counteract Durocher’s personality.

Pitching Staff: It was difficult to factor in the bullpen value compared to overpowering starters.

Starters: Christy Mathewson (373 wins), Grover Cleveland Alexander (373 wins), Warren Spahn (363 wins), Greg Maddux (355 wins), Sandy Koufax (4 no-hitters), Phil Niekro (318 wins with that killer knuckleball), Dizzy Dean (30 wins in 1934), Juan Marichal (2.89 career ERA, Tom Seaver (311 wins), Bob Gibson (1.12 ERA in 1968). Relievers: Trevor Hoffman (601 saves), Lee Smith (478 saves).

Catchers: Roy Campanella (three-time MVP), Johnny Bench (14-time All-Star).

First Base: Bill Terry (.341 lifetime), Stan Musial (.331 average).

Second Base: Rogers Hornsby (.358 average), Jackie Robinson (broke modern Major League color barrier).

Shortstop: Honus Wagner (eight batting titles), Ernie Banks (512 home runs).

Third Base: Mike Schmidt (8-time NL home run champ), Eddie Mathews (512 homers).

Outfield: Hank Aaron (755 homers, 2,297 RBIs), Willie Mays (24-time All-Star), Roberto Clemente (12 Gold Gloves), Tony Gwynn (eight batting titles), Mel Ott (511 home runs).

Utility: Pete Rose (record 4,256 hits). He played everywhere on the field.

I’ve got admit that I surprised myself when I looked over this final list. I thought I would have more old-timers in the ranks here.  When I say old-timers I mean pre-World War II and pre-1920. There are plenty of guys on this roster that played in the 1950s and 1960s. Not too many that are very recent, though.

For anyone who thinks that the bullpen looks rather thin, I am figuring that group of starters is used to pitching complete games, and I don’t know of anyone who is going to be rated highly enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame based on his work as a middle reliever. I feel like I must be overlooking someone by accident, but one player’s career that threw me based on the split of his seasons in the NL and American League was Randy Johnson, an otherwise definite contender among starting pitchers.

Pretty good team, but as I look it over the American League might be better. But of course that’s my next task–to field a super team from the American League.

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