Franchise All Star Teams (Divisional Era Version) - Part VI - Teams #6-10

October 30, 2022
 
Franchise All-Star Teams of the Divisional Era
Teams #6-10
 
This is part VI of a multi-part series reviewing all-star franchise teams of the Divisional Era (1969 to present). The kickoff article explains the premise.
 
I’ll pick up the countdown with #10, but before starting, I wanted to give a little prelude that relates to the upcoming #9 and #10 entries. In the kickoff article, I referenced the fact that I first got interested in all-time franchise teams by playing a Sports Illustrated tabletop/dice game that was similar to Strat-O-Matic and APBA. And, one of the teams that consistently did well was the all-time Cleveland Indians team.  I believe it was 1973 when they released that version of the game, so when the all-time teams were drawn up at that point in time, the Indians had quite the roster at their disposal:
 
·         They had 3 all-time legends (Joe Jackson, Tris Speaker and Nap Lajoie) who all had very high career batting averages (Jackson .356, Speaker .345, Lajoie .338).  All three had with high OBP’s, and all had pretty good speed and could steal a decent amount of bases.

·         Their up-the-middle defense consisted of Speaker in center, Lajoie at second base, Lou Boudreau at shortstop, and Jim Hegan catching, all of whom received high ratings in the game for their fielding prowess.  They were probably the best up-the-middle quartet defensively among the all-time franchises, probably only challenged by the White Sox (Johnny Mostil, Eddie Collins, Luis Aparicio, Ray Schalk) or the Yankees (Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Phil Rizzuto, and Bill Dickey or Yogi Berra) in this regard.

·         They had a true ace in Bob Feller, and he was supported by fellow Hall of Famers Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, Addie Joss, and Stan Coveleski to form a solid rotation. The only other all-Hall of Fame rotations I remember were the Giants (Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal (who wasn’t in at the time but would be later), Joe McGinnity, and Amos Rusie), and the Yankees (Whitey Ford, Jack Chesbro, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, and either Herb Pennock or Waite Hoyt). Cleveland’s rotation wasn’t quite as good as the Giants, but it was better than the Yankees.

·         They were two-deep in Hall of Fame shortstops with Boudreau and Joe Sewell, and I could shift Sewell to third base if I wanted to, and they had a third quality shortstop in Ray Chapman, who might have been on a Hall of Fame path before that tragic hit-by-pitch.

·         They had 2 players at the corner infield positions who didn’t have long careers due to health issues, but who very productive while they did play, and therefore had pretty good player charts in the Sports Illustrated game: Al Rosen at 3B, and Hal Trosky at 1B. Rosen’s stat line for Cleveland was .285/.384/.495, 137 OPS+, while Trosky was .313/.379/.551, 135 OPS+. 

In terms of Seasonal Notation Similarity Scores (a method I wrote about earlier this year) that compares players across several categories in a per-162 game context, the #1 comp for Rosen was Chipper Jones. I didn’t use Trosky in the article, but Rafael Palmeiro would be his strongest comp. Now, I’m not saying Rosen and Trosky were as good as their comps, because they each played less than half as many career games. But looking at them on a per-162 game basis, they performed at a comparable level.
 
Others on the Cleveland all-time roster included Hall of Famers Earl Averill, Elmer Flick, and Larry Doby, as well as others like Rocky Colavito, Ken Keltner, Steve O’Neill, Bobby Avila, Mel Harder, Wes Ferrell, Mike Garcia, and Sam McDowell
 
It was a good team, well balanced with pitching, hitting, defense, and they had some decent speed options with Speaker, Jackson, Lajoie, Flick, and Chapman. And when I played the game with that roster, then generally did very well.
 
However….the real-life Indians didn’t replicate that success. Here are the AL pennant winners from 1901 to 1972 (which would have been around the time those all-time rosters were drawn up), summarized by AL franchise:
 
Franchise
AL Pennants 1901-1972
Yankees
29
A's
10
Red Sox/Americans
8
Tigers
8
White Sox/White Stockings
5
Browns/Orioles
5
Senators/Twins
4
Indians
3
 
The Indians’ lone pennant winners through that time frame were 1920, 1948, and 1954. Now, the Indians did have some good teams in many of their non-pennant winning years, especially in the 1950’s when they had six 2nd-place finishes (those damn Yankees!), and they did win more games than they lost over this period, but they didn’t have much luck reaching the postseason. But, they were able to put together a really good all-time team.
 
So, that brings me, finally, to the two upcoming rosters in the countdown: The Rangers/Senators, and the Expos/Nationals…..
 
Both the Rangers/Senators and the Expos/Nationals are somewhat of a surprise to me in finishing this heigh, as they likely are to you. Both franchises have had sub-.500 records in the Divisional Era (.487 for each from 1969-2021), and they are finishing much higher in my rankings than they did in terms of actual winning percentage (they were tied for 19th with Pittsburgh).
 
There is some correlation between team success and the rankings here, but my exercise is more about assembling a roster from each team’s list of best candidates, and that doesn’t mean it has to follow in lockstep as to how the team might have performed over these past 50+ years. It’s all about filling out the rosters from the available pool for each team and then assessing and scoring them. 
 
And, a lot of these teams, quite honestly, are pretty close to each other, and even slight changes in scoring, approach, or player selection can have an impact in the final order. These are the best of the best from over 50 years of player candidates, and there really isn’t a ton of difference among many of the rosters.
 
OK….enough of a lead-in. Continuing on with the countdown:
 
#10-Texas Rangers/Washington Senators
 
Team Performance by Decade:

Team
WS Titles
Overall W-L %
1970's*
1980's
1990's
2000's
2010's**
TEX
0
.487
.471
.462
.520
.479
.502
 
The Rangers are a bit of a surprise entry at #10. Their winning percentage in the Divisional Era is .487, which is only good for #19 among the 30 teams, so they exceeded that by 9 slots in this review. But, again, this is more of an evaluation of how strong their all-star team is as opposed to simply franchise/team performance in reality.
 
The franchise opened the Divisional Era as the Washington Senators, moving to Texas effective 1972. A lot of those early teams were pretty bad, although they did have some 2nd place finishes along the way (’74, ’77, ’78, ’81) where they were generally around 5 to 8 games out of first place by season’s end.
 
The Rangers have basically had 2 notable periods of success. From 1994-1999, the Rangers won the AL West 4 times, finishing third two times. I guess we would call this the Johnny Oates/Ivan Rodriguez/Juan Gonzalez era. Then, in the 2010’s, they won 4 more AL West titles plus a Wild Card, reaching the World Series twice (2010 & 2011), losing to the Giants and the Cardinals, respectively.  I guess we would call this the Ron Washington/Adrian Beltre/Josh Hamilton era (although 2 of the latter playoff teams were under Jeff Banister).
 
Roster Listing:
Pos
Player
Raw Score
Weight
Adjusted Score
C
Ivan Rodriguez
72.4
6.00%
65.2
1B
Rafael Palmeiro
65.3
6.00%
58.8
2B
Ian Kinsler
66.3
6.00%
59.7
3B
Buddy Bell
73.2
6.00%
65.9
SS
Alex Rodriguez
91.3
6.00%
82.2
LF
Frank Howard
44.5
6.00%
40.0
CF
Josh Hamilton
62.1
6.00%
55.9
RF
Juan Gonzalez
54.2
6.00%
48.8
DH
Adrian Beltre
77.2
4.75%
55.0
SP1
Charlie Hough
59.0
5.25%
46.5
SP2
Kenny Rogers
58.1
5.00%
43.6
SP3
Yu Darvish
57.6
4.75%
41.0
SP4
Fergie Jenkins
49.7
4.50%
33.6
SP5
Nolan Ryan
47.4
3.25%
23.1
RP1
John Wetteland
62.4
3.75%
35.1
RP2
Neftali Feliz
55.8
2.75%
23.0
P
C.J. Wilson
42.2
2.00%
12.7
P
Gaylord Perry
48.5
2.00%
14.6
P
Kevin Brown
44.7
2.00%
13.4
Res
Jim Sundberg
55.9
2.00%
16.8
Res
Mark Teixeira
58.9
2.00%
17.7
Res
Michael Young
48.5
2.00%
14.5
Res
Toby Harrah
55.4
2.00%
16.6
Res
Ruben Sierra
46.2
2.00%
13.9
Res
Rusty Greer
48.0
2.00%
14.4
Mgr
Ron Washington
n/a
n/a
911.8
 
Grid View:
Pos
Name
 Batting Order
Rotation
Bullpen/Spot
Reserves
C
Ivan Rodriguez
 Buddy Bell
Charlie Hough
John Wetteland
Jim Sundberg
1B
Rafael Palmeiro
 Rafael Palmeiro
Kenny Rogers
Neftali Feliz
Mark Teixeira
2B
Ian Kinsler
 Alex Rodriguez
Yu Darvish
C.J. Wilson
Michael Young
3B
Buddy Bell
 Frank Howard
Fergie Jenkins
Gaylord Perry
Toby Harrah
SS
Alex Rodriguez
 Adrian Beltre
Nolan Ryan
Kevin Brown
Ruben Sierra
LF
Frank Howard
 Josh Hamilton
 
 
Rusty Greer
CF
Josh Hamilton
 Juan Gonzalez
 
 
 
RF
Juan Gonzalez
 Ivan Rodriguez
 
 
 
DH
Adrian Beltre
 Ian Kinsler
 
 
 
 
Rankings:
Category
Score
Rank
Team Score
911.8
10
Offense
151.1
5
Defense
24.5
23
Speed
11.2
16
Infield
266.5
4
Outfield
144.7
27
Catching
81.9
3
Starting 9
531.4
7
Bench
93.9
7
Staff
286.5
23
Rotation
187.8
25
4 Starters
164.7
25
Bullpen
98.8
15
Short Relief
70.8
14
 
Position/Roster Notes:
There were lots of position options and battles here….. 
 
The elephant in the room is Alex Rodriguez. I’m sure a lot of folks aren’t comfortable with naming him to an all-Rangers team, but, much like Roger Clemens with Toronto, I just felt there was too much to leave him off. 
 
A-Rod only had 3 seasons with the Ranges, but they were 3 exceptional seasons, including an MVP, an MVP runner-up, and a 6th place finish. He exceeded 8.0 rWAR (generally considered an MVP-type level) all 3 seasons. Yes, I totally get the steroids perspective, especially as it relates to this particular time frame, and understand why some would not want to include him based on that. I suspect many of you will disagree with his inclusion here.   Still, I felt that he deserved to be on the team.
 
If you don’t like A-Rod here, the team’s best options at shortstop would be Toby Harrah, Michael Young, or Elvis Andrus. I would say that, if we did exclude A-Rod, the Rangers would drop several slots in the rankings, so his inclusion is certainly a boon to how they’re ranked. 
 
Two of the more prominent Rangers in their history are third basemen Buddy Bell and Adrian Beltre. Beltre had the better career and is likely to go into the Hall of Famer while Bell likely isn’t ever going to go, but they’re both really strong players, and both were exceptional defenders. Ultimately, I wanted both in the starting lineup, and I felt that Bell was a little stronger defensively in his Rangers years than Beltre was, so I went with Bell at 3B and installed Beltre as the DH. If I didn’t have the DH and could only start one at third base, I’d go with Beltre.
 
Outfield is a bit of an issue, especially center field. The Rangers really have not had a solid center fielder of note in their history. On baseball-reference.com, there is a section that lists "positional starters" for each franchise for each season (based on which player played the most games at each position). The leader for the Rangers in terms of the highest number of seasons as the primary center fielder for the team is Oddibe McDowell with 4, which is generally one of the lower figures you’ll see in for any franchise/position.
 
Basically, the Rangers throughout their history have changed center fielders every 2-3 years. It’s been a very volatile position. The center fielder that I did go with is Josh Hamilton, but he only had 421 career games there. Still, it was more than he had in left field (392) or right field (164). I think he’s the best option. Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, and Rusty Greer can cover when Hamilton isn’t available.
 
Frank Howard would have been a natural at DH, but since I had Beltre there, I installed Howard in left field. 
 
At second base, I went with Ian KinslerMichael Young was also considered, but I like him more in a multi-position role. Young and Toby Harrah both made the team as reserves, and they both provide tremendous flexibility at SS, 3B, and 2B (Young can also play 1B). 
 
Missed the Cut:
Julio Franco probably should have made the team, and he would have presented an interesting contrast to Kinsler. Franco would be a little better at hitting for average and getting on base, but Kinsler had a better all-around game.   It basically came down to Franco and Ruben Sierra, and I felt the team needed another outfielder.
 
Al Oliver who hit .319 over his 4 seasons in Texas but he didn’t rate high enough for me to keep him.
 
Elvis Andrus is one of the longest tenured Rangers and he would have brought some more speed to the team, but he came up a little short.
 
Pete O’Brien, Mike Hargrove, and Will Clark all had some fine seasons at 1B, but the team had better options at that position.
 
Jeff Russell and Francisco Cordero are #2 and #3 in saves for the franchise in this era, but they didn’t rate as strong as Wetteland or Feliz.
 
"Grand" Club:
Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Sundberg, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Toby Harrah, Ruben Sierra, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Rusty Greer
 
I was surprised that Buddy Bell didn’t make the 1,000 game threshold (958). He had 8 seasons with the Rangers, but a couple of them were partials.
 
Mount Rushmore Four:
Ivan Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Juan Gonazlez, Buddy Bell
 
Michael Young was one of the MLB Franchise Four that was named several years ago, but he’s a reserve on my team, so I didn’t want to bestow this status on him here. Nolan Ryan was also named as one of the MLB Franchise Four, and I can kind of see that, but felt these 4 were more appropriate. Rafael Palmeiro also has a case. I did not really consider A-Rod much for this particular honor, despite how well he played during his time there.
 
Team Assessment:
Strengths: Offense (Power), catching, depth
Weaknesses: Outfield defense, overall pitching
 
The Rangers remind me of a softball team that just tries to bludgeon you…..
 
The power is amazing. I don’t really have a true leadoff hitter – it’s more or less wall-to-wall power. Outside of Bell, everyone in the starting lineup had at least one season of 30 home runs, and several (A-Rod, Howard, Hamilton, Gonazlez, Palmeiro) had more than 40.
 
Defensively, it’s a mixed bag. The catching is amazing, not just Ivan Rodriguez as the starter, who’s certainly one of the best defensive catchers ever, but also Jim Sundberg in reserve. Rodriguez had 13 Gold Gloves (10 with the Rangers) and Sundbeg had 6, so the Rangers catchers account for roughly one-third of the AL Gold Gloves awarded in the Divisional Era.
 
In addition, third base is in good hands with Bell and Beltre, regardless of which one plays. Kinsler was a good defensive second baseman. A-Rod had decent defensive skills. However, the outfield defense is pretty bad. Howard, Hamilton, and Gonzalez……it’s not pretty out there. 
 
The pitching is very interesting to me. Let’s talk about that…..
 
The Rangers have certainly not been known for their pitching over the years. They have only had three 20-game winners in their history: Fergie Jenkins, Kevin Brown, and Rick Helling. That’s it.
 
The 2 pitchers with, by far, the most total rWAR with the franchise are Charlie Hough and Kenny Rogers, and they do score the best here. Hough had 11 seasons in Texas, and Rogers had 12. Yu Darvish is 4th, and he certainly had his moments with the team, including a Cy Young runner-up
 
Outside of those 3, there are a lot of familiar names. Not just familiar names….Hall of Famers. Fergie Jenkins is 3rd in franchise rWAR among pitchers. Gaylord Perry is 6thNolan Ryan is 7thKevin Brown, who isn’t a Hall of Famer but is a pitcher who you hear talked about as worthy (his career rWAR is a robust 67.8), is 5th. Famous names, great pitchers. 
 
However….I suspect very few fans associate them with the Rangers. Jenkins was most well-known for his time with the Cubs, Perry with the Giants (and perhaps the Indians too), Ryan with the Angels and the Astros, and Brown with the Marlins and Dodgers….hell, maybe even for his one year with the Padres, because, even though he spent more seasons (8) with the Rangers than with any other team, he pitched much better for those other franchises. 
 
And, if you go down a little further, you find Jon Matlack at 10th, Cole Hamels at 13th, and another Hall of Famer (Bert Blyleven) at 14th, even though Blyleven only pitched 2 seasons with the Rangers. Although these pitchers are all relatively high on the Rangers’ all-time list, they are certainly much more associated with the Mets (Matlack), the Phillies (Hamels), and the Twins (Blyleven).
 
So, there are big names, and several Hall of Famers, but none of them really owes their fame to what they accomplished with the Rangers. Most of them either pitched too briefly with the team (like Blyleven), or they pitched for them in the back part of their careers when they were older and not quite as prominent (like Jenkins, Perry, and Ryan), or they pitched with the team before they reached their peak (like Brown). 
 
But….most of these are still the best choices I had. They don’t score real high as a group (only 25th) because they mostly didn’t pitch a lot of time with the team, and that was a factor in the scoring. However, they didn’t pitch badly either.
 
Look at Jenkins. His first year with the Rangers (1974) he went 25-12, 2.82 ERA, a 126 ERA+, and he led the league with a 5:1 K/BB ratio. If that isn’t a "Fergie Jenkins season", then I don’t know what is. Over his 6 seasons with the Rangers (2 stints), he went 93-72, 3.56, a 106 ERA+, and about a 3:1 K/BB ratio. That’s not quite to the level of his Chicago years, but it really isn’t that far off.
 
Or Perry. In 4 seasons with the Rangers, he went 48-43, 3.26, 118 ERA+, about a 3:1 K/BB ratio. Very consistent with his career performance.
 
Or Ryan. He went 51-39, 3.43 with the Rangers. He had ERAs of 3.07 with the Angels and 3.13 with the Astros, so his Rangers ERA is a little higher, but his ERA+ of 116 with the Rangers was actually a little better than it was with either the Angels (115) or the Astros (110). It’s just that he was pitching in a less pitcher-friendly context with the Rangers. Even though he was in his age 42-46 seasons, he struck out 10.1 per 9 innings with the Rangers vs. 10.0 for the Angels and 9.1 for the Astros. And his walks per 9 with the Rangers (3.8) was the lowest of any of his 4 stops.
 
The big change in Ryan was that, by the time he was Old Man Ranger, he was throwing about 170 innings a year instead of the 270 per year for the Angels and the 200 per year for the Astros. He was basically pitching as well as he did in his prior 2 stops, but he didn’t shoulder the same workload. But he was still a really good pitcher, and he still led the league in K’s in his first 2 seasons as a Ranger. In some ways, I think he was a more effective pitcher with the Rangers than with the other franchises. Not necessarily more valuable because of the reduced innings, but possibly more effective because he took on a lesser workload.
 
So, I think the Rangers would be fascinating in a theoretical tournament, with their sluggardly sluggers and their wise old pitching staff. Of course, their outfield defense might do them in especially in the games where Ryan doesn’t pitch. They would be very interesting to watch.
 
Futures
Martin Perez had a really good year in 2022 and could eventually work his way onto the staff, but he just turned 31 and I’m not sure if he’s a real good bet.
 
The team’s current double play combo of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager are both All-Star caliber type of players, but they both completed just their first season with the franchise, and I’m not sure if they’ll do enough in a Rangers uniform to justify pushing anyone else off the roster.

#9-Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos
 
Team Performance by Decade:

Team
WS Titles
Overall W-L %
1970's*
1980's
1990's
2000's
2010's**
WSN
1
.487
.451
.519
.497
.439
.527
 
Much like the Rangers, the Nationals/Expos are a bit of a surprise. Their #9 rank places them 10 slots above their #19 position in terms of winning percentage in this era.
 
The franchise began as the Montreal Expos and played as such from 1969-2004 before moving to Washington as the Nationals. The franchise only made the playoffs once in its 36 years in Montreal, that during the 1981 strike season, although they were in first place in 1994 at the time of the strike in that season. The team has found more success in Washington with 4 first-place finishes, 5 playoff appearances, and 1 World Series title.
 
However, despite their relative lack of success in their history, this franchise has produced a very solid roster of individual players.
 
Roster Listing:
Pos
Player
Raw Score
Weight
Adjusted Score
C
Gary Carter
78.7
6.00%
70.8
1B
Ryan Zimmerman
58.3
6.00%
52.5
2B
Jose Vidro
37.2
6.00%
33.4
3B
Anthony Rendon
64.4
6.00%
58.0
SS
Trea Turner
64.5
6.00%
58.1
LF
Tim Raines
72.7
6.00%
65.5
CF
Andre Dawson
72.1
6.00%
64.9
RF
Vladimir Guerrero
68.3
6.00%
61.5
DH
Rusty Staub
62.8
4.75%
44.7
SP1
Max Scherzer
79.7
5.25%
62.7
SP2
Steve Rogers
69.6
5.00%
52.2
SP3
Stephen Strasburg
61.6
4.75%
43.9
SP4
Dennis Martinez
58.7
4.50%
39.6
SP5
Pedro Martinez
61.2
3.25%
29.8
RP1
Chad Cordero
51.6
3.75%
29.0
RP2
Mel Rojas
42.4
2.75%
17.5
P
Jeff Reardon
39.3
2.00%
11.8
P
Gio Gonzalez
49.5
2.00%
14.9
P
Jeff Fassero
49.2
2.00%
14.8
Res
Wilson Ramos
36.5
2.00%
10.9
Res
Ron Fairly
48.4
2.00%
14.5
Res
Ian Desmond
40.2
2.00%
12.1
Res
Tim Wallach
55.7
2.00%
16.7
Res
Juan Soto
63.4
2.00%
19.0
Res
Bryce Harper
60.0
2.00%
18.0
Mgr
Felipe Alou
n/a
n/a
916.7
 
Grid View:
Pos
Name
 Batting Order
Rotation
Bullpen/Spot
Reserves
C
Gary Carter
 Tim Raines
Max Scherzer
Chad Cordero
Wilson Ramos
1B
Ryan Zimmerman
 Trea Turner
Steve Rogers
Mel Rojas
Ron Fairly
2B
Jose Vidro
 Andre Dawson
Stephen Strasburg
Jeff Reardon
Ian Desmond
3B
Anthony Rendon
 Vladimir Guerrero
Dennis Martinez
Gio Gonzalez
Tim Wallach
SS
Trea Turner
 Rusty Staub
Pedro Martinez
Jeff Fassero
Juan Soto
LF
Tim Raines
 Gary Carter
 
 
Bryce Harper
CF
Andre Dawson
 Ryan Zimmerman
 
 
 
RF
Vladimir Guerrero
 Anthony Rendon
 
 
 
DH
Rusty Staub
 Jose Vidro
 
 
 
 
Rankings:
Category
Score
Rank
Team Score
916.7
9
Offense
135.4
11
Defense
59.9
10
Speed
19.1
3
Infield
201.9
25
Outfield
191.8
6
Catching
81.7
4
Starting 9
509.3
11
Bench
91.3
12
Staff
316.2
13
Rotation
228.3
7
4 Starters
198.5
9
Bullpen
87.9
24
Short Relief
58.3
27
 
Position/Roster Notes:
Anthony Rendon and Tim Wallach had a fierce battle for the third base position, but I went with Rendon. I think he had a better all-around performance for the franchise.
 
Another third basemen (Ryan Zimmerman) was in the running as well, but the team didn’t have great options at first base and he did get in over 500 games at 1B in his career, so I shifted Zimmerman there.
 
20 years or so ago, the all-time franchise shortstop would have been someone like Orlando Cabrera or Hubie Brooks, so Trea Turner is a nice recent upgrade at that position.
 
The team is really deep in quality outfielders, which is one of their real strengths: Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, Rusty Staub, Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, so much depth that even someone like Larry Walker (who was pretty good in his pre-Rockies days) didn’t make the roster.
 
I started Staub as DH even though I’m sure many would opt for Harper or Soto, but Staub was awfully damn good with the franchise, and I just associate "Le Grande Orange" so tightly with Montreal that I decided to give him the nod. But, it wasn’t just sentimentality on my part…..in those first 3 years of the franchise’s existence (1969-1971), Staub slashed .296/.404/.502, with an impressive 151 OPS+. He returned for a 4th (partial) season 8 year later that nudged those figures down slightly, but he was very good in an Expos uniform. But we’ll have to find time for everyone in this talented group.
 
The first 8 pitchers I selected for the team were right handed, so the 2 best lefty options were Gio Gonzalez (who just missed out on the rotation) and Jeff Fassero, who had success both as a starter and a reliever. They both made the club.
 
Missed the Cut:
As strong as the outfield is, the top cuts also tended to be outfielders as well.
 
Larry Walker is probably the best player who didn’t make the roster. Walker’s best years were with the Rockies, and his stats were certainly more eye-popping there, but he was a very good player in Montreal as well.
 
After Walker, the next 3 candidates on my list were also outfielders: Marquis Grissom, Ellis Valentine, and Rondell White.
 
Ugueth Urbina is probably the best reliever who didn’t make the team. Others who could have included Mike Marshall, John Wetteland, and Tim Burke. The top starters to not make the club were Jordan Zimmermann and Javier Vazquez.
 
"Grand" Club:
Ryan Zimmerman, Tim Wallach, Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Jose Vidro, Warren Cromartie, Vladimir Guerrero.
 
Mount Rushmore Four:
Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Max Scherzer
 
Vlad Guerrero was named to the MLB Franchise Four honor in 2015 (in addition to Carter, Raines, and Dawson) and would also be worthy of the honor, but I went with Scherzer here.
 
Team Assessment:
Strengths: Catching, outfield, speed, rotation
Weaknesses: Bullpen, infield
 
The team’s 9th place finish surprised me, but there is a lot to like about this roster. For one thing, this is the only roster where all 3 starting outfielders are Hall of Famers: Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, and Vlad Guerrero. Not only that, but two of the reserve outfielders (Juan Soto and Bryce Harper) are exactly the types of players who I consider to be on a potential Hall of Fame track, although Soto’s a little premature at this point and coming off a disappointing 2022 season. Still, even in his "off year", Soto’s OBP was over .400 and he led the league in walks. And he’s still just 23 years old. -Harper has some work to do as well, although he does have 2 MVP’s in his award case, and I think he has an excellent shot. He’s been around 11 years, but he’s still only 29 years old, lots of time to add to his credentials. And Rusty Staub was damn good in his Expos years as well (4 seasons, .295/.402/.497 with a 149 OPS+) A very strong outfield.
 
In addition, the team has one of the absolute best catchers of this era in Gary Carter, the 4th Hall of Famer in the starting lineup.
 
I have this team ranked #3 in speed. Again, the starting outfield of Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, and Vladimir Guerrero is a big part of that ranking, as is Turner.
 
Max Scherzer is the team’s ace, a near-certain Hall of Famer whose time spent with the Nationals is the primary reason why. He had a great run of Cy Young wins and other high Cy Young award finishes during his time with the team (he had five top-5 finishes in his 7 seasons with the Nationals, including twice where he won). 
 
Pedro Martinez is another Hall of Famer, although I have him in the #5 slot as he only had 4 seasons with the franchise, which limited his score somewhat. However, he did take home a Cy Young award in his final year (1997) before moving to the Red Sox, and it was a performance (17-8, 1.90 ERA, 219 ERA+, 305 K’s) that looks right in place with some of his better Boston seasons. His overall ERA+ for the Expos was a robust 139.
 
The other 3 starters (Steve Rogers, Stephen Strasburg, and Dennis Martinez) were all high quality pitchers as well. 
 
Dennis Martinez gets a little overlooked sometimes, but his Expos portion of his career was exceptional (100-72, 3.06, 122 ERA+ with an ERA title), generally better than his overall career record. 
 
Strasburg’s 13-year career (all with the Nationals) was undermined by injuries, but he was a very good pitcher when he was available (127 career ERA+). 
 
Rogers is the franchise’s career pitching WAR leader. I always thought of Rogers as kind of the National League’s version of Dave Stieb. Rogers’ career started a few years earlier, but they both pitched primarily for a Canadian team, they each won an ERA title, they both had roughly 5:3 career K/BB ratios, they each made 5 (or more) All Star teams, they both had multiple high Cy Young award finishes (without winning one), they both had around 2,800-2,900 career innings pitched, and they both had good career WAR totals (although Stieb has a distinct advantage, 56 to 45). I think Stieb was better, but they struck me as fairly similar pitchers.
 
The infield is not nearly as strong as the outfield – I have them as the #25 infield group. Jose Vidro is kind of the weak link in this quartet.
 
The bullpen is led by Chad Cordero, Mel Rojas, and Jeff Reardon, who all have had their moments, but they don’t rate as a real strong group.
 
Futures
Nobody on the current roster stands out to me.


#8-Oakland A’s
 
Team Performance by Decade:

Team
WS Titles
Overall W-L %
1970's*
1980's
1990's
2000's
2010's**
OAK
4
.521
.523
.512
.481
.550
.522
 
The A’s are tied for 2nd (with Boston) in the Divisional Era with 4 World Series titles. Only the Yankees (7) have more. The A’s have had 3 basic sub-eras of success during this time frame:
 
In the 1970’s, "The Mustache Gang" ran off a string of 5 straight AL West titles (1971-1975), highlighted by their 3 consecutive World Series titles from ’72-’74.   Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, and so on.
 
In the late 1980’s, "The Bash Brothers" (led by Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Rickey Henderson on offense and Dennis Eckersley out of the pen), ran off 4 AL West titles in 5 years, and won the World Series in 1989.
 
In the early 2000’s, the "Moneyball A’s" that made Billy Beane famous, made 4 consecutive postseasons, although they never made it past the ALDS.
 
Well, I oversimplified, of course. The A’s were in 6 postseasons from 2012 to 2020, 3 times as the wild card, but never made it past the ALDS. In the Divisional Era, they have made an impressive 21 postseasons. They are 5th in overall winning percentage (.521) in the era, the fifth highest mark among the 30 teams.
 
Roster Listing:
Pos
Player
Raw Score
Weight
Adjusted Score
C
Gene Tenace
57.3
6.00%
51.6
1B
Mark McGwire
68.7
6.00%
61.8
2B
Mark Ellis
54.1
6.00%
48.7
3B
Sal Bando
76.8
6.00%
69.1
SS
Bert Campaneris
65.1
6.00%
58.6
LF
Rickey Henderson
90.1
6.00%
81.1
CF
Dwayne Murphy
57.4
6.00%
51.6
RF
Reggie Jackson
75.0
6.00%
67.5
DH
Jason Giambi
73.6
4.75%
52.5
SP1
Tim Hudson
66.5
5.25%
52.4
SP2
Barry Zito
61.8
5.00%
46.3
SP3
Vida Blue
55.8
4.75%
39.7
SP4
Catfish Hunter
46.7
4.50%
31.5
SP5
Dave Stewart
44.9
3.25%
21.9
RP1
Dennis Eckersley
58.6
3.75%
32.9
RP2
Rollie Fingers
37.6
2.75%
15.5
P
Huston Street
46.9
2.00%
14.1
P
Mark Mulder
52.7
2.00%
15.8
P
Ken Holtzman
34.7
2.00%
10.4
Res
Terry Steinbach
48.4
2.00%
14.5
Res
Eric Chavez
59.2
2.00%
17.8
Res
Marcus Semien
52.2
2.00%
15.7
Res
Miguel Tejada
49.8
2.00%
14.9
Res
Joe Rudi
48.2
2.00%
14.4
Res
Jose Canseco
54.8
2.00%
16.4
Mgr
Bob Melvin
n/a
n/a
916.9
 
Grid View:
Pos
Name
 Batting Order
Rotation
Bullpen/Spot
Reserves
C
Gene Tenace
 Rickey Henderson
Tim Hudson
Dennis Eckersley
Terry Steinbach
1B
Mark McGwire
 Gene Tenace
Barry Zito
Rollie Fingers
Eric Chavez
2B
Mark Ellis
 Reggie Jackson
Vida Blue
Huston Street
Marcus Semien
3B
Sal Bando
 Mark McGwire
Catfish Hunter
Mark Mulder
Miguel Tejada
SS
Bert Campaneris
 Jason Giambi
Dave Stewart
Ken Holtzman
Joe Rudi
LF
Rickey Henderson
 Sal Bando
 
 
Jose Canseco
CF
Dwayne Murphy
 Dwayne Murphy
 
 
 
RF
Reggie Jackson
 Bert Campaneris
 
 
 
DH
Jason Giambi
 Mark Ellis
 
 
 
 
Rankings:
Category
Score
Rank
Team Score
916.9
8
Offense
136.2
10
Defense
57.6
12
Speed
17.8
6
Infield
238.2
9
Outfield
200.2
3
Catching
66.1
11
Starting 9
542.5
4
Bench
93.8
8
Staff
280.6
26
Rotation
191.9
22
4 Starters
170.0
22
Bullpen
88.8
23
Short Relief
62.5
22
 
Position/Roster Notes:
3 pretty good shortstops on the roster with Bert Campaneris, Marcus Semien, and Miguel Tejada. I rationalized the decision to keep all 3 even though, in this era, all three were exclusively shortstops with the A’s. 
 
My rationale was that the A’s in this era really didn’t have many quality second basemen. Mark Ellis is by far the best candidate, and he’s the starter, but they really don’t have a great second option.   Semien, however, could clearly play second base. He played second with the White Sox prior to the A’s, and he’s been a top notch second baseman with the Blue Jays and Rangers after the A’s. So, he’ll back up at second, and Tejada will back up Campy.
 
I went with Tenace over Steinbach as the primary catcher, but really it would be a pretty decent time share. Tenace only had 1 season in which he caught more than 100 games for the A’s.
 
Missed the Cut:
Billy North was in competition for a bench role, and he would have provided yet another good speed option.
 
Tony Armas was the right fielder from that great A’s outfield of the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s (along with Murphy and Henderson), but he didn’t do quite enough to merit inclusion on the roster.
 
Carney Lansford was a quality player over his 10 seasons in Oakland, but he was up against some stiff competition at third base against Sal Bando and Eric Chavez.
 
Two Matts (Matt Olson and Matt Chapman) came up a little short on tenure (they both were below the 600 game threshold.
 
"Grand" Club:
Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Eric Chavez, Sal Bando, Dwayne Murphy, Carney Lansford, Terry Steinbach, Reggie Jackson, Bert Campaneris, Jose Canseco, Mark Ellis, Jason Giambi, Joe Rudi
 
Mount Rushmore Four:
Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Sal Bando
 
Henderson, Jackson, and Eckersley were also named to the 2015 MLB Franchise Four, along with Philadelphia A’s first baseman Jimmie Foxx. For my Divisional Era selections, I replaced Foxx with "Captain Sal" Bando, but I could see if someone would want to go with one of the Hall of Fame pitchers (Hunter or Fingers).
 
Team Assessment:
Strengths: Outfield, speed, power
Weaknesses: Pitching (?)
 
The low pitching rank kind of surprised me because certainly the image of the A’s that I’ve always had in my mind is that of good pitching, both starters and relievers. But the scoring, which has a heavy does of WAR-rate element, takes a lot of the air out of the pitching balloon, in part because of the run environment that the A’s play in. Some of which you may have already anticipated. I mean….Catfish Hunter, Dave Stewart, Rollie Fingers….they make the team, but they do get affected by this approach, and they don’t rate all that high. Don’t get me wrong….Dennis Eckersley is still a good closer, but as great as he was at his peak, this scoring system also includes his last 3 years in Oakland, which, to be honest, were pretty poor, and the scoring takes all of it in.
 
Speed is a definite asset, especially in the forms of Rickey Henderson and Bert Campaneris, both of whom had their separate periods of dominating the American League steals titles in their respective eras. Dwayne Murphy, Reggie Jackson, and Jose Canseco knew how to steal a base or two as well.
 
However, I think slugging is this team’s calling card. Gene Tenace, Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, and Sal Bando make for a formidable power group, and Jose Canseco provides a lot of pop off the bench as well, as do Marcus Semien, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Chavez. A powerful group of hitters. 
 
Also, although I didn’t try ranking by this, it strikes me as a group of hitters how to work the count and draw a lot of walks. No one here is going to win a batting average title, but a lot of these guys know how to get on base.
 
It’s a solid defensive team too, with Ellis, Campaneris, Bando, Henderson, and Murphy (plus Chavez off the bench) all flashing quality leather.
 
Futures
No one’s jumping out at me.
 
#7-Baltimore Orioles
 
Team Performance by Decade:

Team
WS Titles
Overall W-L %
1970's*
1980's
1990's
2000's
2010's**
BAL
2
.501
.598
.512
.517
.431
.452
 
This ranking might surprise some folks who only know the Orioles over the last couple of decades where they have not generally produced good teams, but over the first 3 decades of this era the Orioles were a strong, winning organization, and they are one of only 11 franchises with a winning record since the start of the Divisional Era.
 
The Orioles started off the Divisional Era strong, winning 5 AL East titles in the first 6 seasons of the era, taking the World Series title in 1970. From 1975-1983, they were generally competitive, finishing 2nd in the AL East 6 times, and the 2 times they did win the division they reached the World Series, losing to the Pirates in ’79, but defeating the Phillies in 1983.
 
Since then, however, it’s been generally lean times, with only 5 postseason appearances in the last 40 years.
 
Roster Listing:
Pos
Player
Raw Score
Weight
Adjusted Score
C
Chris Hoiles
53.6
6.00%
48.2
1B
Eddie Murray
71.9
6.00%
64.7
2B
Bobby Grich
83.9
6.00%
75.5
3B
Manny Machado
70.8
6.00%
63.7
SS
Cal Ripken Jr.
88.8
6.00%
80.0
LF
Brady Anderson
53.9
6.00%
48.5
CF
Adam Jones
52.6
6.00%
47.3
RF
Ken Singleton
51.5
6.00%
46.3
DH
Boog Powell
58.5
4.75%
41.7
SP1
Jim Palmer
84.3
5.25%
66.4
SP2
Mike Mussina
74.2
5.00%
55.7
SP3
Mike Flanagan
49.4
4.75%
35.2
SP4
Scott McGregor
47.4
4.50%
32.0
SP5
Mike Cuellar
44.0
3.25%
21.4
RP1
Gregg Olson
71.0
3.75%
39.9
RP2
Zack Britton
48.7
2.75%
20.1
P
Jim Johnson
55.0
2.00%
16.5
P
Mike Boddicker
44.4
2.00%
13.3
P
Dave McNally
40.2
2.00%
12.1
Res
Matt Wieters
44.3
2.00%
13.3
Res
Brian Roberts
51.5
2.00%
15.5
Res
Mark Belanger
56.7
2.00%
17.0
Res
Melvin Mora
53.0
2.00%
15.9
Res
Brooks Robinson
52.1
2.00%
15.6
Res
Paul Blair
54.1
2.00%
16.2
Mgr
Earl Weaver
n/a
n/a
922.0
 
Grid View:
Pos
Name
 Batting Order
Rotation
Bullpen/Spot
Reserves
C
Chris Hoiles
 Brady Anderson
Jim Palmer
Gregg Olson
Matt Wieters
1B
Eddie Murray
 Ken Singleton
Mike Mussina
Zack Britton
Brian Roberts
2B
Bobby Grich
 Cal Ripken Jr.
Mike Flanagan
Jim Johnson
Mark Belanger
3B
Manny Machado
 Eddie Murray
Scott McGregor
Mike Boddicker
Melvin Mora
SS
Cal Ripken Jr.
 Boog Powell
Mike Cuellar
Dave McNally
Brooks Robinson
LF
Brady Anderson
 Manny Machado
 
 
Paul Blair
CF
Adam Jones
 Bobby Grich
 
 
 
RF
Ken Singleton
 Adam Jones
 
 
 
DH
Boog Powell
 Chris Hoiles
 
 
 
 
Rankings:
Category
Score
Rank
Team Score
922.0
7
Offense
93.7
26
Defense
84.9
2
Speed
1.9
30
Infield
283.9
2
Outfield
142.1
28
Catching
61.5
15
Starting 9
516.0
9
Bench
93.5
10
Staff
312.5
15
Rotation
210.7
16
4 Starters
189.3
16
Bullpen
101.9
12
Short Relief
76.5
11
 
Position/Roster Notes:
Much as I hated to do this to an icon, I went with Manny Machado as the starting third baseman over Brooks Robinson. Since I’m only using performance from 1969 and later as the basis, I feel that’s the right choice.   Robinson played through 1977, so he still got in over 1,000 games in this era and was still an excellent defender (he took home 7 of his 16 Gold Gloves in the era), but Machado was a much better hitter and a pretty good defensive player in his own right. In the Divisional era, Robinson slashed .252/.314/.366 with a 94 OPS+, while Machado went .283/.335/.487 with a 121 OPS+. I think I made the proper choice.
 
Similar to Robinson, Boog Powell is missing quite a few seasons from the 1960’s, but he did get in 6 seasons in this era, including an MVP in 1970 and a runner-up in the season before. I like him as the DH.
 
Melvin Mora is one of those Swiss army knife type of utility players that I just love on teams like this. Mora played more third base than anything else, but also played a healthy dose of shortstop, second base, and all 3 outfield positions.
 
There really wasn’t a strong left field candidate, so I moved Brady Anderson to left field and went with Adam Jones as the starting center fielder.
 
Missed the Cut:
Frank Robinson didn’t play enough in this era for me to put him on the team – 3 years, 413 games. He was still a very good player, but just not enough bulk for me to include him.
 
Nick Markakis was a tough cut, and I considered over, say, a Mark Belanger who probably wouldn’t have much value on this team as a backup to Ripken.
 
Rafael Palmeiro was another tough cut. He’s already on the Rangers team, and he did get in 7 seasons with the Orioles over 2 separate stints. He could have been selected over Boog Powell, but I went with Boog.
 
Rick Dempsey could have made the team – it was close between him and Matt Weiters, but since Weiters was a switch-hitter I picked him to team with Chris Hoiles.
 
Al Bumbry, Doug DeCinces, and Miguel Tejada all had good cases, but came up short for me.
 
"Grand" Club:
A pretty long list…..
 
Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Brady Anderson, Mark Belanger, Adam Jones, Ken Singleton, Al Bumbry, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Rick Dempsey, Brooks Robinson, Chris Davis, Paul Blair, Rich Dauer, B.J. Surhoff, Rafael Palmeiro (Palmeiro had exactly 1,000 games)
 
Mount Rushmore Four:
Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina
 
Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson were named to the 2015 MLB Franchise Four, but for my review, anything pre-1969 didn’t count. Frank Robinson didn’t have enough playing time in the era to make the team (only 413 games), and Brooks Robinson isn’t the starter since I went with Manny Machado at 3B, and my guideline was to only use starters for this honor.
 
Team Assessment:
Strengths:  Defense, infield, depth
Weaknesses: Speed, overall hitting
 
Not surprisingly, the Orioles rank very high on defense, and that’s even without Brooks Robinson getting credit for all of his defensive prowess from the 1960’s. Cal Ripken Jr., Manny Machado, Bobby Grich, and then the likes of Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, and Mark Belanger off the bench. A great defensive tradition.
 
The infield ranks #2 among the 30 teams, with Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray leading the way, with strong support from Bobby Grich and Manny Machado. That’s a really strong quartet. However, the outfield of Brady Anderson, Adam Jones, and Ken Singleton is one of the lower ranked units.
 
The very top of the rotation is high quality with Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Mike Mussina, but it drops off pretty sharply after that, and overall they’re in the middle of the pack. The short relief led by Greg Olson and Zack Britton is pretty decent.
 
Speed? Not much there after Brian Roberts and Brady AndersonPaul Blair had some too, but this team is painfully slow, the lowest ranked team in that category.
 
The Orioles don’t rank as a very strong offensive unit overall. They have decent power, but they’re not a standout hitting team.
 
So, basically, it’s a lot of the classic Earl Weaver formula at work: power, starting pitching, and defense, and they strike me as the type of club that would be good fundamentally and wouldn’t make many mistakes.
 
Futures
Adley Rutschman, the switch-hitting catcher who was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, had an impressive rookie season in 2022. He looks to have a bright future.
 
Ryan Mountcastle, another Oriole first-round pick, has also shown some promise over his first 3 years with the Orioles, including a 33-home run season. He just completed his age-25 season. We’ll keep our eye on him.
 
#6-Houston Astros
 
Team Performance by Decade:

Team
WS Titles
Overall W-L %
1970's*
1980's
1990's
2000's
2010's**
HOU
1
.509
.493
.522
.530
.514
.496
 
The Astros are 9th overall with a .509 winning percentage in the Divisional Era. They are under .500 since the 2010’s, although I should remind everyone that I did not include 2022 in the "2010-present" time frame because when I started this exercise the 2022 season was still in progress, so that of course means that the Astros stellar 106-win season this past year is not included. If it had been included, it would show them with a winning record since 2010.
 
For the first 10 seasons of the Divisional Era (1969-1978), the Astros never had a season where they were closer than 10.5 games out of first place by season’s end. The 1980’s brought some success (playoff appearances in 1980, 1981, and 1986).
 
The 1990’s were a good decade for the Astros, led by the 2 most iconic players in their history, Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. From 1997-1995, the Astros made the playoffs 6 times in 9 seasons, reaching their first World Series in 2005, where they were swept by the White Sox.
 
Starting in 2007, the Astros plummeted, and they hit rock bottom in 2011-2013, losing over 100 games each year, but out of the ashes they have emerged as one of the most successful franchises in recent years. From 2015 to the present, they have made the postseason 7 times in those 8 years, and have made the World Series a whopping 4 times in the past 6 seasons. They won in 2017 over the Dodgers (although that has been marred by their sign-stealing scandal), and lost to the Nationals in 2019 and to the Braves in 2021. As I write this, the Astros are currently battling the Phillies for the 2022 title.
 
Roster Listing:
Pos
Player
Raw Score
Weight
Adjusted Score
C
Jason Castro
31.1
6.00%
28.0
1B
Jeff Bagwell
86.8
6.00%
78.1
2B
Jose Altuve
65.1
6.00%
58.5
3B
Alex Bregman
71.0
6.00%
63.9
SS
Carlos Correa
67.7
6.00%
60.9
LF
Jose Cruz
66.7
6.00%
60.1
CF
Cesar Cedeno
71.9
6.00%
64.7
RF
Lance Berkman
68.6
6.00%
61.7
DH
Craig Biggio
73.5
4.75%
52.3
SP1
Roy Oswalt
73.1
5.25%
57.6
SP2
Justin Verlander
72.9
5.00%
54.7
SP3
Nolan Ryan
52.1
4.75%
37.1
SP4
Mike Scott
51.8
4.50%
35.0
SP5
J.R. Richard
48.2
3.25%
23.5
RP1
Billy Wagner
70.4
3.75%
39.6
RP2
Dave Smith
43.4
2.75%
17.9
P
Joe Sambito
45.3
2.00%
13.6
P
Larry Dierker
53.4
2.00%
16.0
P
Don Wilson
48.8
2.00%
14.6
Res
Alan Ashby
25.2
2.00%
7.6
Res
Bob Watson
45.6
2.00%
13.7
Res
Bill Doran
56.7
2.00%
17.0
Res
Morgan Ensberg
42.3
2.00%
12.7
Res
George Springer
66.4
2.00%
19.9
Res
Jim Wynn
53.5
2.00%
16.1
Mgr
Larry Dierker
n/a
n/a
924.7
 
Grid View:
Pos
Name
Batting Order
Rotation
Bullpen/Spot
Reserves
C
Jason Castro
 Craig Biggio
Roy Oswalt
Billy Wagner
Alan Ashby
1B
Jeff Bagwell
 Jose Altuve
Justin Verlander
Dave Smith
Bob Watson
2B
Jose Altuve
 Cesar Cedeno
Nolan Ryan
Joe Sambito
Bill Doran
3B
Alex Bregman
 Jeff Bagwell
Mike Scott
Larry Dierker
Morgan Ensberg
SS
Carlos Correa
 Lance Berkman
J.R. Richard
Don Wilson
George Springer
LF
Jose Cruz
 Jose Cruz
 
 
Jim Wynn
CF
Cesar Cedeno
 Carlos Correa
 
 
 
RF
Lance Berkman
 Alex Bregman
 
 
 
DH
Craig Biggio
 Jason Castro
 
 
 
 
Rankings:
Category
Score
Rank
Team Score
924.7
6
Offense
145.0
6
Defense
31.4
20
Speed
10.4
16
Infield
261.5
5
Outfield
186.5
9
Catching
35.5
28
Starting 9
528.3
8
Bench
86.9
18
Staff
309.6
17
Rotation
207.8
18
4 Starters
184.3
18
Bullpen
101.8
13
Short Relief
71.1
13
 
Position/Roster Notes:
Much like the Rangers with Adrian Beltre/Buddy Bell, two of the Astros’ signature players played the same primary position: Craig Biggio and Jose Altuve were both primarily second basemen, and I wanted to have both in the starting lineup. I felt Altuve’s fielding ability at 2B was a little better than Biggio’s, so I installed Biggio at DH and put Altuve in the field.
 
Biggio’s also one of those players who can help the team by moving around the diamond. Although overwhelming a second baseman, Biggio did also play over 300 games in the outfield and over 400 games at catcher (mostly over his first 4 seasons). I didn’t want to get too cute and do something like installing him as the starting catcher, so I did keep 2 "real" catchers on the roster, but Biggio could play in a pinch.
 
If rated for his entire career, I probably would have had Jim Wynn somewhere in the starting lineup, but he’s missing 4 pretty good seasons that are pre-1969, so he made the team, but is in a reserve role.
 
Lance Berkman divided up his time primarily over 1B, LF, and RF, with RF being the fewest of those 3 positions, but he fit the needs of the team best in right field,  
 
Justin Verlander is another one of those stars like Roger Clemens (Toronto) and Alex Rodriguez (Texas) who I decided to put on a roster that you might not normally associate him with. Obviously, the bulk of Verlander’s success was with the Tigers, but he has had a very eventful and successful stint in Houston. He joined the team in the stretch run of 2017, went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA, and won 4 games in the ALDS & ALCS en route to the team’s World Series title. In 2018, he finished a strong 2nd to Blake Snell in the AL Cy Young award voting, and then he won it the following year in a close vote over teammate Gerrit Cole. And, he’s the front-runner for the 2022 AL Cy Young. So, even though he really had no significant activity in either 2020 or 2021, he's had 3 great outstanding seasons with the Astros. I think he deserves to be in the rotation.
 
An interesting side-note is that Larry Dierker is both the manager and on the pitching staff. I considered A.J. Hinch for the manager’s job, and it’s possible Dusty Baker will throw his hat in the ring if he has a couple of more strong seasons, but for now I’m going with Dierker.
 
Missed the Cut:
It was a tough call between Glenn Davis and Bob Watson, but I went with Watson.   If called up, Davis would be a nice power bat off the bench and to back up Bagwell.
 
Joe Morgan wasn’t the player in Houston that he was in Cincinnati, but he did get in some good seasons with the Astros, although only 4 of them fell into this era. Based on the time frame, he falls below Biggio, Altuve, and Billy Doran in the 2B pecking order.
 
Terry Puhl played in over 1,500 games as an Astro, but just didn’t quite make the squad.
 
Ken Forsch and Shane Reynolds were both long-time Astros (11 seasons) who would be next in line if additional pitching help were needed.
 
Brad Lidge had some good years as the closer, but I went with others.
 
"Grand" Club:
Another team with a long list (17):
 
Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Jose Cruz, Lance Berkman, Jose Altuve, Terry Puhl, Cesar Cedeno, Bob Watson, Brad Ausmus, Craig Reynolds, Bill Doran, Kevin Bass, Ken Caminiti, Denny Walling, Enos Cabell, Doug Rader, Roger Metzger
 
Mount Rushmore Four:
Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jose Altuve, Lance Berkman
 
Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman also were named to the 2015 MLB Franchise Four, along with Nolan Ryan (who made 3 of those groups in 2015: Angels, Rangers, and Astros). I went with Altuve over Ryan here.
 
Team Assessment:
Strengths: Overall starting lineup, infield, overall offense
Weaknesses: Catching
 
The Astros are the highest ranked expansion team in my review.  Their recent success has really bolstered their roster. For example, if I had done this several years ago, the left side of their infield probably would have had Morgan Ensberg or Doug Rader or Ken Caminiti at third base and Dickie Thon at shortstop. Now, they are manned by Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, a much stronger duo.
 
I like the outfield of Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno, and Lance Berkman, a very experienced trio (all 3 of them were long-time Astros, each with over 1,500 games played and over 12 seasons while in Houston). I believe all 3 were very underrated during their careers.
 
The Killer B’s (Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Lance Berkman) are all prominent on this team. I’m not sure the offense will overwhelm you with power, but it’s a solid top-to-bottom lineup outside of the catcher, one that should hit for a good average and get on base at a decent clip. The big steal guys would be Cesar Cedeno, Craig Biggio, Jose Altuve, and Jose Cruz.
 
I thought the pitching might rate a little stronger – it’s kind of middle of the pack, but Roy Oswalt and Justin Verlander as the first two in the rotation and Billy Wagner as the closer rate score very high.
 
Futures
Yordan Alvarez has had 3 pretty impressive seasons (out of 4 total) with the Astros, and he’s still just 25. He’s displayed strong hitting, on-base, and power ability, but doesn’t offer much speed or defense. Still, I can see him hitting his way onto the roster.
 
Kyle Tucker is another young, talented hitter for the Astros, a high draft pick (5th overall in 2015). He’s coming off consecutive 30 homer seasons, and could eventually push for a spot.
 
Ryan Pressly has been with the Astros for 5 seasons now, the last 2 as the primary closer option, and he’s pitched quite well. A few more successful seasons could move him onto the roster.
 
Framber Valdez had a nice year in 2022 for the Astros, but needs several more to be considered.
 
Wrapping it Up
 
Next up: your top 5 teams. If you’ve been keeping track, you know who they are, and now it’s just a matter of the final order.
 
Thank you for reading.
 
Dan 
 
 

COMMENTS (10 Comments, most recent shown first)

evanecurb
There is a rumor (not true) going around that McGregor, Flanagan, Cuellar, and McNally were all the same pitcher, manufactured (or, rather, converted by a sort of :Stepford Pitcher" process) by Earl W. in a secret facility located somewhere near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Ross Grimsley was part way through the conversion process in 1976 when he got wise to what was happening and bolted for Montreal.
10:40 AM Nov 8th
 
ForeverRoyal
Thanks Dan. Just had a thought. Not suggesting this be the answer for managers as I like the approach you've been taking...but, I wonder who the manager would be for each franchise if you simply based it on the Manager with the most players represented on each roster.
3:08 PM Nov 7th
 
DMBBHF
ForeverRoyal,

Yeah, I buy the argument for Dempsey. It was a close call, I felt Wieters as a switch-hitter was a good pairing with Hoiles, and Wieters was a 4-time All Star, but I can see why Dempsey might be a better selection for the Orioles.

On the A's manager, which Hall of Famer were you referring to? Tony LaRussa or Dick Williams? :)

I'm assuming you were referring to LaRussa, and I can certainly understand your point there as well. Melvin had about 1 more season and they were pretty close in team performance although it is true that LaRussa's teams went deeper into the playoffs. I suppose I had it in my thinking that LaRussa is already managing the Cardinals and since Melvin had some success in Oakland, I would toss him a bone, but your point is well taken, since I didn't have any reservations about players on multiple teams, I shouldn't have let that influence me on managers either. So, I think your point is very valid.

Thanks,
Dan
8:34 AM Nov 4th
 
ForeverRoyal
Interesting as always. Choosing Staub as a sentimental favorite is fine. I personally would have started Bryce or Soto at DH but Rusty works too. That being said, I would have gone with Dempsey over Weiters for similar reasons. Dempsey’s connection to the Orioles is just a lot stronger than Matt’s.

Lastly, shouldn’t the Hall of Fame Baseball Person be the A’s Manager?
4:27 PM Nov 2nd
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

danjeffers,

Yes, good point. When I was going through the different rotations in my head, I remembered the 3 lefty Hall of Famers (Grove, Plank, Waddell) for the A's but I overlooked Bender. So they had at least 4.

I'm not sure if Hunter was included in the All-Time roster. He might have been (and I remember that there were active players on some of the rosters), but I'm not positive if they included him. I know for sure the staff included the 4 listed above, plus Rube Walberg, Jack Coombs, George Earnshaw, and Eddie Rommel. I believe they only had 9 pitchers, so the 9th might have been Hunter. In any case, good call.

spitfire,

Thanks for the mention on the online charts. I'll look for those.

bearbyz,

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it!

Bruce,

Yes, Buford is probably the best true LF for Baltimore in this era. BJ Surhoff gets some consideration as he had some good years there too. And, if we could sneak it past the auditors, the best might have been GaryJohn RoenickeLowenstein.... :)

Flanagan, McGregor, and McNally all had right around 1.9 WAR per 200 IP, but Flanagan and McGregor had a fair amount more innings pitched for the Orioles in this era, so McNally did get a little dinged by not having credit for the pre-1969 seasons. Cuellar's WAR/200 IP was a little lower (1.7) and he had just a few less innings than McGregor and Flanagan, so that dropped him below them. It was still pretty close, and I probably should have installed Cuellar as the #3 just as a subjective override if it had occurred to me. They were all fairly close.

Regarding Staub, the scoring system I used had Soto, then Staub, then Harper, but it was pretty close, so I went with my sentimental favorite. And, as mentioned in the article, Staub's rate stats were pretty outstanding.

Thanks,
Dan​
5:18 PM Nov 1st
 
spitfire
We played the original Sports Illustrated All Time All Star game all the time when it first came out. I always liked the Indians. Bob Feller threw a few no hitters for me over the years. If you look online some people have made updated charts with more teams and additional years. Maybe not the most realistic game but fun and easy to play.
7:16 PM Oct 31st
 
danjeffers
If Catfish Hunter had done enough by 1972 to have a 1963 card in your game, you could have an all Athletics five-man Hall of Fame rotation with Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, Rube Waddell and Lefty Grove.​
5:29 PM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
Don Buford is the best left fielder the O's ever had, but he was only there for four good years (1968-71) plus a disastrous one (1972). I'm guessing his score didn't measure up. Your method of scoring the team makes for interesting results - I never would have thought Flanagan or McGregor would have scored higher than Cuellar and McNally. They seem like lesser versions of the same guys.
11:27 AM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
Le Grande Orange was a favorite in Montreal, but I'm surprised he ranks ahead of Walker, Harper, and Soto.
11:17 AM Oct 31st
 
bearbyz
Thanks for reading! I say thanks for this series.
6:55 PM Oct 30th
 
 
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