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Lifetime MLB Team by Position

As we prepare for the first game of the 2020 MLB season (we think owners and players won’t screw even this up after agreeing to a 60-game campaign on June 23rd), here’s some baseball flavor with my lifetime MLB team by position.

The criteria is simple. You can’t just take three centerfielders in your outfield. You have to go by position. I take a runner-up for each spot, picked a designated hitter, closer and manager and one pitcher from each side, left and right. Remember, this is for my lifetime only, so you will not see Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig here. This is for me, ML, born in 1979 and now 40 (gulp). I also considered overall career success, dominance in the era, winning no matter the circumstance, me seeing their prime career, overall skill set including defense at the position, my first understanding of the game as a kid, the position being that player’s “true” position, any special trait that enhanced a player’s ability (switch-hitting for example), overall impact on the game and a tiny ounce of personal preference.

Ivan Rodriguez

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. Cannon arm, incredible quickness, blocked balls everywhere, made every team he played on better and controlled the field. Hit for power and average. 14-time All-Star. 1999 MVP. A truly complete catcher. Class of 2017 Hall of Famer.

Runner-up: Gary Carter.

First base: Albert Pujols. Hit the stage quickly in 2001 as Rookie of the Year, then won the MVP three times. Future first ballot Hall of Famer. From 2001-2011 there has never been a better stretch of hitting in baseball history as Pujols collected 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI and hit well above .300 the entire time with insane OBP-SLG-OPS numbers. Pujols was an October monster for St. Louis and led the team to three World Series appearances, winning two rings in 2006 and 2011.

Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera.

Second base: Roberto Alomar. The ultimate 5-tool second baseman in baseball history. Size, speed, incomparable glove and hit from both sides of the plate. Alomar was must-watch every night. Won two World Series in Toronto and earned the 1992 ALCS MVP. Thrived in October. Entered the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Runner-up: Ryne Sandberg.

Derek Jeter

Shortstop: Derek Jeter. 3,000-hit club, five rings, Mr. November, Captain Clutch, the ultimate baseball professional. Not many have been able to play in New York and in that uniform, and yet Jeter dominated and thrived in the Big Apple. In October, Jeter hit .308 and collected 61 RBI and 20 HR. He hit .310 for his career in the regular season which is close to his playoff mark; remarkable considering postseason play is supposed to be much more difficult. Still the only player with an MVP in the All-Star Game and World Series in the same season (2000). Unfortunately, as a member of the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Class, we have to wait until 2021 to see him in Cooperstown because of the pandemic. Derek Jeter was the perfect baseball player and Yankee. Period.

Runner-up: Cal Ripken Jr.

Third base: Wade Boggs. 20 of 24 seasons hitting .300. The ultimate grinder. The ultimate creature of habit in the game. Consistent. Professional. Leader. Hall of Famer in 2005.

Runner-up: Chipper Jones.

Left Field: Barry Bonds. 5-tool player and dominated for the Pirates and Giants. 7-time MVP. We all just wish everything A-Z was truly authentic to make him even more elite.

Runner-up: Rickey Henderson.

Center field: Ken Griffey Jr. The most electrifying player I have ever seen. Another 5-tool guy. The closest thing to Willie Mays since the 1950’s. Style. Substance. And oh that swing. Played the game the right way. No one loved the game more than Griffey Jr., with the smile and the backwards cap. 2016 Hall of Famer. Without injuries, Jr. might have been the greatest player in MLB history.

Runner-up: Mike Trout.

Ichiro Suzuki

Right field: Ichiro Suzuki. Incredible arm and the ultimate professional. A 3,000-hit member and made a fluid transition to the big leagues from Japan. Ichiro paved the way for Japanese baseball players for decades.

Runner-up: Tony Gwynn.

Designated hitter: David Ortiz. Owned October. Face of Boston baseball for years. Helped Reverse the Curse and the winning just continued. Should go into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Runner-up: Edgar Martinez.

Left-handed pitcher: Randy Johnson. Easiest pick on the team. The most terrifying pitcher in history. 5-time CY Young winner. Won four ERA titles. 2001 World Series MVP. The Big Unit was lights out.

Runner-up: Tom Glavine.

Right-handed pitcher: Pedro Martinez. Talk about a character. Talk about dominance. Talk about baseball theatre. Shut down both leagues. Five ERA titles. 3-time CY Young winner. Pitching Triple Crown. Pedro’s fastball-changeup combination is the best ever.

Runner-up: Roger Clemens.

Mariano Rivera

Closer: Mariano Rivera. Lead, 9th inning, GAME OVER. Mo was even better in October with a 0.70 ERA. 1999 World Series MVP. 2003 ALCS MVP. Won five rings and entered the Hall of Fame as the first unanimous player in baseball history in 2019. Everyone in baseball history has had great hitters and pitchers and managers. Only the Yankees had Mariano and it paved the way for dominance in the sport.

Runner-up: Trevor Hoffman.

Manager: Joe Torre. “He only had success because of the Yankee payroll” is a pure garbage statement. Torre understood any type of player better than anyone in history and was the right fit at the right time in the Bronx, helping the Yanks to four titles in five seasons from 1996-2000 and two more Fall Classic appearances in 2001 and 2003. Torre was calm, cool, consistent, professional and excellent with the New York media.

Runner-up: Bruce Bochy.

Mike Lindsley
Follow Mike Lindsley on Twitter @MikeLSports and download his podcast the “ML Sports Platter” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify.