I love making lists. So I'm all in on this latest A-Z challenge of naming a favorite player for each letter of the alphabet. For my list, I tried to choose only players that have played in my lifetime so I would have an actual memory of them. There are some older greats, however, that I've been far more interested in learning about their achievements than in following contemporary players, so a few players on here finished their careers before I was born. For some of these players, I can't explain why they are favorites. Many are Cubs. Some just seem like good dudes or are easy to root for. Some I like the way the play, like contact hitters, consistent performers, or good baserunners. And there are a few that I just gained some kind of attachment to in my youth.
A: Jake Arrieta
Two Cubs no-hitters.
B: Javier Baez
My current favorite player.
C: Roberto Clemente
An all-time great and all-time great guy. I wish I could have seen him play.
D: Andre Dawson
League MVP on a last-place Cubs team.
E: Dennis Eckersley
I really liked the A's when I was a young kid in the late 80s and early 90s. Eck was a dominant pitcher at the time.
F: Bob Feller
I've always been fascinated with Feller's career, military service, and fireball. Another I wish I could have seen.
G: Mark Grace
My favorite player ever. The 90s hit king.
H: Rickey Henderson
There were a few H's to choose from, but Rickey was one of my favorites as a kid. He was just cool.
One of the best contact hitters any of us have ever seen.
J: Randy Johnson
His dominance and personality made him fun to watch.
K: Jason Kendall
Probably my favorite catcher. I loved that he could run (pre-ankle injury).
L: Derrek Lee
My favorite player through the aughts.
M: Greg Maddux
I love how Maddux pitched. I don't love that he left Chicago after his first Cy Young and then proceeded to win the next 3 NL awards.
N: Otis Nixon
Like many other bloggers have stated, "N" was hard. I liked Nixon's speed.
O: John Olerud
Good hitter and easy to root for.
P: Hunter Pence
Such goofy, fun personality. Hunter Pence signs and his reaction/interaction were my favorite.
Q: Jose Quintana
I don't hold the price the team paid in the trade against him because it wasn't his fault. There wasn't much choice for "Q," though.
R: Cal Ripken, Jr./Nolan Ryan
Probably my two favorite non-Cubs ever. It is impossible to choose between them and just unfortunate that both started with "R."
S: Ryne Sandberg
One hundred twenty-three games without an error. And a slugger, too.
T: Mike Trout
Hands down the best player I have ever seen because he may be the best ever.
U: Chase Utley
Behind two former Cubs (also on this list), the scrappy Utley is my favorite second baseman that I've seen play.
V: Justin Verlander
I think appreciate how much Verlander helped franchises that had been not-so-great in my lifetime find success while he was on the team.
W: David Wright
Because David Wright is Mr. Met. I appreciate his great play for one team throughout his career.
X: I got nothing.
Y: Carl Yastrzemski
Triple Crown winner. I never saw him play, but he was my favorite historical figure for "Y."
Z: Ben Zobrist
World Series MVP for my 2016 Champions.
*All images taken from TCDB, but is a card I own in my collection.
So there you have it. These may not be the best to ever play, but they're the players I tend/tended to root for the most, for varying reasons. I may have to try this with other sports, too. I had fun doing it.