Friday, July 14, 2017

2nd Team All-Bump and Run Baseball

I recently read a post by on one of my new favorite blogs, Dub Mentality, in which Dub presented his favorite baseball players ever.  There was one restriction, though; he could only select players who had played in his lifetime.  I enjoyed reading his list, then thought, "Hey, I enjoy making lists, too!  Why don't I do the same?"  So here I am, making a list.  But in typical fashion for me, I must have lots of lists.  As a result, I have expanded the lists to create an All-Bump and Run Baseball Team, with a 1st and 2nd Team.

I have 2 stipulations for myself in the creation of this list.  First, these must be players that have played in my lifetime.  I can't say that Willie Mays is my all-time favorite player here, because he was done before my time.  Second, I am striking Cubs from my list.  I don't want a list made of a bunch of hometown heroes just because they made their living on the Northside.  That said, I'm not eliminating everybody who ever donned a Cub uniform.  I'm making judgment calls between those who made a name for themselves as a Cub versus those who spent some time with the team.  I plan creating an All-Cubs team later.  There are no other set criteria.  I just reached into my memory banks and pulled out the players who I just truly enjoyed watching, collecting, following, etc.  For some of these players, I can't even explain why.  This is 100% subjective.  I realize that in many cases, my favorite does not equal the best.  This is just my personal preference.

Without further ado, I present to you my favorite baseball players, 2nd Tier.  I'll also give my honorable mentions here, to give you an idea of who just missed the cut.  Maybe you'll be able to guess some of my first-teamers by looking at the names who are already here.

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez

"Pudge" was The Man at catcher for most of the time I was growing up baseball. A lot of this list was based on my experiences playing backyard baseball.  We would create lineups and keep score with batting averages, keeping ghost runners, and all the works.  Ivan Rodriguez was always the catcher.  I can't think of another catcher we ever used.

1st Base: Miguel Cabrera

I really like using the newfangled SABRmetrics to analyze player value and evaluate their play.  I'll admit that I don't always understand the numbers, but they seem to grade out well to me.  There's a large part of me that is an old soul, however.  I always admired Miggy's play and positive attitude, but his old-fashioned Triple Crown in 2012 cemented his place in my mind as one of my favorite players ever.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Bagwell, Andres Galarraga

2nd Base: Craig Biggio

I found that second base was a difficult decision for me.  All of my favorite second basemen have been Cubs for significant amounts of time.  I had to go with Biggio almost by default.  As I made these lists, I realized just how much more attention I've paid to the NL Central than any other division in baseball.  I may be a closet Pirates and Astros fan (from their pre-AL days).  The Killer B's were awesome to me, as Biggio made the 2nd team and Bagwell brought home honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Neil Walker, Roberto Alomar

3rd Base: David Wright

There is a glut of talent at third base in the Majors these days.  There is a lot of youth at the position who will probably someday supplant David Wright here.  Right now, Wright gets it for his longevity and all-around solid career.  I feel for the guy with his back problems, too.  We are just months apart in age, so I get the back thing.  It seems like this is too young an age to have any back trouble, but I assure you it can happen, and it is not fun.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Seager, Nolan Arenado

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki

Shortstop was so difficult to find a second-teamer.  Throughout this exercise, I realized that I like shortstops.  There were so many to choose from that my honorable mention list could go on forever.  Tulo gets the nod here because I have a soft spot for the Rockies.  When they came into the league in 1993, they were by far the closest thing I had to a hometown team.  I love the way Tulowitzki plays, and having an uncommonly good bat at the position doesn't hurt.

Honorable Mention: Barry Larkin, Alan Trammel (and many others I had to cut down)

Outfield: Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence is the Major League oddball.  He is so goofy that I have no choice but to love him.  His slap swing looks like a throwback to the 1920s.  His throwing motion leaves me in astounded that he can get the ball to the infield, let alone have the cannon that he does.  If I didn't love him before, the season of "Hunter Pence Signs" a few years back pushed me to it.  I mean, who doesn't love a baseball player who can't parallel park?  And his responses always matched goof for goof.

Just awesome.

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen is a superstar the way I think superstars should be.  First, his super talent helped raise his team from years of sitting on the trash heap to the top of the division.  Second, he is good-natured and seems to genuinely love playing the game.  I can't think of a time when McCutchen was in the news and I thought, "What is he thinking?"  He just seems like a stand-up guy to me.

Outfield: Ichiro

If I like Pence's slap swing, I have to consider Ichiro for the list.  I consider Ichiro to be one of the top 3 hitters of my lifetime, and I don't think too many people could argue with his inclusion on the list.  No, he doesn't pack much power, but he is a contact machine.

Honorable Mention: Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Dante Bichette

RHP: Orel Hershiser

Right handed pitcher was the hardest position to narrow down for me.  There have just been too many good righties.  Every time I thought of one, I immediately thought of another who would take his place.  I actually had about four different people in this spot before I remembered Orel Hershiser.  I was just starting to pay attention to baseball when he had his scoreless inning streak.  I doubt I truly understood what that meant at the time, but I knew it was big and that Orel Hershiser was the coolest guy ever.

Honorable Mention: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Felix Hernandez. . . and I'll stop there.  This list doesn't even include every guy that I had in my second team until I thought of another.  I would need an entire pitching staff.

LHP: Jim Abbott

What kid growing up in the late 80s and early 90s didn't love Jim Abbott?  A hotshot prospect out of college, an immediate All-Star, and a no-hitter under his belt makes for a great pitcher.  But then you add the made-for-TV story that he is, and you have an instant hero.  Really, between the greatness that is my first-teamer and Jim Abbott, I didn't even have a consideration for left-handed honorable mention.

RP: Trevor Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman dominated the National League.  That is pretty much it.  At the time when Mariano Rivera was setting all kinds of records for closers in the AL, Trevor Hoffman was more quietly doing it in the NL in a smaller market.  I'm an NL guy, so I will go with Hoffman over Rivera any day.  I appreciate his league affiliation and the lack of fanfare that accompanied all-time greatness.

DH: Frank Thomas

Am I cheating a bit here?  Possibly.  But, as I just mentioned before, I'm an NL guy.  The inclusion of a DH on this list doesn't sit too well with me.  So I put a guy who I respected throughout his entire career and who just happened to take the DH role toward the end.  Frank Thomas was a hitter, and that about sums him up.

Well, that does it for my 2nd Team All-Bump and Run Baseball Team.  Again, these are just players that I have rooted for in my lifetime.  No one before my time counts, and there is no expectation that these guys are the best.  Just my favorites.  Now you've seen my 2nd-teamers and the Honorable Mentions who came ohsoclose, who do you think is on my 1st team?  Let's see some guesses in the comments below.  Remember, I may be a Cubs fan, but I'm not allowing Cubs on this team.

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