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The endless debate: Who's the best?

July 08, 2014 | 12:09 PM

The baseball All-Star game is approaching.

The voting is done. At least four Brewers will make the team. But one thing isn't done — and never will be — arguing about the choices.

As a long-time fan of Sports "best ever," it seems like an appropriate time to consider the all-time All-Star squad.

Let the arguments begin.

Here's my lineup.

Catcher: Yogi Berra or Johnny Bench? Both had power. Bench was the better fielder and had a stronger arm. Yogi had a higher batting average and won more championships. My vote: Yogi.

First base: It has to be Lou Gehrig. Not only do his stats rank with anyones', he was also one of the top three or four iconic figures in a world of iconic figures. Had Albert Pujols not crashed and burned the last few years, he might have had a chance to be second. Right now, though, it's got to be the underrated Jimmie "Double X" Foxx (.325 career batting average. 534 HRs.)

Second base: Rogers Hornsby for his .358 lifetime average and his record high (for the live ball era) single season batting average of .424. A case can be made for Jackie Robinson because, next to Babe Ruth, he may be the most noteworthy player in MLB. However, looking at his numbers they don't rate in comparison to Hornsby's and Jackie's career was relatively short.

Shortstop: Again, we have to dig back in time — even further back than Hornsby to choose Honus Wagner. Only Ty Cobb, an outfielder, came close to Wagner's fame from the early days of baseball. Besides, this is a relatively weak position. Ozzie Smith was probably the greatest fielder, but he was a below average hitter. Derick Jeter is a Hall of Famer to be sure, but he's rested on his laurels the last few years especially as a fielder. And Alex Rodriguez's record as a shortstop or third baseman has been stained by drug allegations.

Third base: By far the weakest position on this team. Eddie Matthews, Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Rodriquez were all good players but none of them compare to anyone else on this team. None, in fact, save for Rodriquez averaged .300 for their careers. None, in fact, averaged higher than .271. Brooks was the best fielder (16 Gold Gloves), but I guess I'd opt for Schmidt because he was a great fielder (10 GGs) and he was a better hitter with 548 homers compared to only 268 for Brooks.

Outfield: By far the strongest position. Babe Ruth, of course, is a must. So is Willie Mays.

After that it's a battle between Cobb, Henry Aaron, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. This position is so strong that players like Stan Musial aren't even in the top six. (I eliminated Barry Bonds because of his apparent steroid use.) Aaron is the all-time home run hitter if you exclude Bonds. He also won multiple batting titles.

Ted Williams is probably the best hitter ever especially considering he lost more than four years of his prime by being in the military during World War II and the Korean War. He was the last hitter to bat .400 and almost did it again at age 38, hitting .388. DiMaggio had, of course, the longest hitting streak in history at 56 games, but his name recognition and Yankee pinstripes don't override the fact that he was less of a player than the others on this list.

In the final analysis, I'd choose Cobb to team up with Ruth and Mays. The perfect leadoff hitter — Cobb had the highest career batting average ever and was also the best and most ruthless base stealer of his era. He was also the best player in baseball prior to Ruth's arrival.

Pitchers: This is a hard position to evaluate because pitching has changed so much over the decades; Cy Young's 511 wins simply wouldn't be possible these days because few pitchers even start that many games.


Tags: Sports

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