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
1st Base: Miguel Cabrera
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
Honorable Mention: Kyle Seager, Nolan Arenado
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
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.
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.
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.