Introducing The “All American League Team” Over The Last 25 Years …..

July 21, 2010 |

Well, Allen McCallum and I spent the better part of Tuesday’s show discussing the American League’s best players over the last quarter century. Of course, we agreed on some and disagreed on just as many.

Below, find my list of offensive players. Tomorrow, I’ll post the pitching staff. Just remember, IT ONLY COVERS THE SPAN OF 1985-2010 …..

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez
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You could probably make an argument for a few different backstops, but “PUDGE” has simply been the best catcher in the American League during this time span. The AL-only numbers are undeniable – 2477 hits, 281 homeruns and a .301 batting average.

Figure in 13 Gold Gloves and 14 All Star appearances, in the American League, and it’s easy to see he is absolutely unrivaled. Yeah, he obviously used PED’s, but he was damn good when he was skinnier than a rail.
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First Base – Rafael Palmeiro
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Don’t say STEROIDS. I don’t wanna hear it. Plenty of players used, Palmeiro simply got caught. His career achievements are almost exclusive to the criteria – American League (1985-2010) …..

I don’t even see a close second, with one exception. Don’t despair “Big Hurt” fans, he made the list. Just wait a little while …..
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Second Base – Roberto Alomar
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Hello, McFly ??? This might be the single greatest Hall Of Fame injustice of the last 25 years. Roberto Alomar is not only the greatest second baseman of the last quarter century, he’s arguably among the five best players of the cited generation.

Yep, he was THAT GOOD …..
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Third Base – Wade Boggs
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Did you play baseball during Bogg’s heyday? If so, don’t tell me you didn’t try eating CHICKEN before a half dozen straight games …. before figuring out DIET really had nothing to do with it. Boggs was probably among the three very best hitters of the last 25 years – regardless of league.

Here we are a couple decades removed from the Margo Adams debacle. Remember her? I wonder what she looks like TODAY? She was the one HIT & RUN the hitting champ would prefer to forget. If she happened today, it would be a non-issue.

Wade Boggs was a hitting machine …. on and off the field. And, he’s the American League’s best third baseman, since 1985.
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Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez
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Shoot me !!!! Dump my body in the nearest landfill …..

Whatever your heart says, the sobering truth is A’Rod is the American League’s best shortstop of the last 25 years. He hasn’t played the position in nearly 7 years and he still has more hits, homeruns, rbi and steals than any other A.L. shortstop of the last quarter century.
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Outfield (not by specific position) – Ichiro Suzuki
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He has achieved monumental accomplishments in the span of ONE decade. In fact, Ichiro hasn’t finished playing his 10th full season, yet. But, he’s collected 2151 hits, 363 steals and a .332 batting average. At this rate, he’ll collect his 3000th hit approximately halfway thru his 14th season.

Can you imagine if he would’ve arrived on the scene before his 27th birthday, or if he played in a better lineup? Throw in 10 All Star appearances and 9 Gold Gloves (in 9 full seasons) and Ichiro is arguably the GREATEST PLAYER of the last 25 years.
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Outfield – Manny Ramirez
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Love him, hate him …. he’s among the very best of the American League’s STARS over the last quarter century …..

A.L. stats alone – 2318 hits, 510 homeruns and a .313 batting average. Throw in a couple World Championships, and it’s pretty hard to deny Manny Ramirez’s pedigree. And, there is a concrete argument suggesting that he doesn’t always play his hardest. After all, Manny is usually being Manny, right?
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Outfield – Ken Griffey Jr.
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I originally omitted him from the list. But, Junior has enjoyed a better A.L.-only resume’ than Rickey Henderson over the duration of the last 25 years. If the consideration was the last 30 years, it might be different. However, it’s not …..

Of course, Junior hit the scene with an energy and power display that made many of us think he would re-write history. That didn’t happen, but he’s still among the 3 best A.L. outfielders of the last 25 years. In 14 American League seasons, he racked up 1877 hits, 420 bombs and a .291 batting average. Toss in 10 Gold Gloves and just as many All Star appearances, and he’s a notable choice over the likes of Rickey Henderson.

Yeah, I know the RICKEY arguments are coming. Don’t waste your time. As I said, we’re talking about the last 25 years, which means you’ve gotta wipe away the first half dozen seasons of Rickey’s career. Thus, since 1985, he was a slightly above average hitting A.L. outfielder – with 1754 hits, 475 steals and a .278 batting average. Include 6 All Star appearances and ZERO Gold Gloves and Rickey simply doesn’t shape up to Griffey’s achievements.
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Designated Hitter – Frank Thomas
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I told you the BIG HURT would make the list. After all, he’s arguably the most prolific power hitter of the last 25 years. He could hit the ball 500 feet. Yet, he was disciplined. You don’t wanna throw Frank a strike? No problem, he’d gladly drop his stick and trot down to first base. Count ‘em – 1667 walks, while only whiffing 1397 times. That’s remarkable for a hitter who averaged 35+ homers, per season.

Much to my good friend Allen McCallum’s chagrin, the WALK defines a huge part of the Big Hurt’s pedigree. Allen penalizes Thomas for not being more of a ‘swinger, while feeling he should’ve been more aggressive, especially as a #3 hitter. I wholeheartedly disagree. Regardless of batting position, what’s the one thing we know? In fact, what’s a bigger KILLER than heroin and crack, combined? FREAKIN’ WALKS. Ask any pitcher !!!!

Frank Thomas amassed 2468 hits, 521 homers and a .301 batting average in 19 seasons. He’s a first ballot Hall Of Famer. And, if has a hair on his rear-end, he’ll call this guy and ask him to make the introduction, at Cooperstown …..
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And, while we’re at it, lets refute the Edgar Martinez talk, right now. Along with Bret Boone and Jay Buhner, Edgar suddenly found the “Fountain Of Youth” (or Primobolan and Winstrol) as he neared his 30th birthday. Yeah, I know plenty of the guys in this blog USED. But, at least they were good at some point before they found “help.” Who has their best seasons between ages 32-37 ??? Hmmm …. how about Hulk Hogan, Barry Bonds and Edgar Martinez. Gimme a break …..

Lets look at Martinez before 30 …..
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Now, lets look at Martinez after his 32nd birthday …..
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Like I said, plenty of players used performance enhancing drugs. There is no getting around it. I just think some guys really developed an edge they’d never realized, prior to the usage. And, a core sect of those type of players were on a team in the Pacific Northwest.

It surely wasn’t the coffee …..

Tomorrow, I’ll do the American League pitching staff.

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