Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

July 4, 2013

Baseball Debate: Aligning Stars of the Past 50 Seasons

Staff writers break last half-century into three eras



VANKIRK (1980-95)

THE ORDER    BA    HR    RBI    More

1. LF Rickey Henderson    .279    297    1,115    *1,406 SBs*, *2,295 runs*

2. RF Tony Gwynn    .338    135    1,138    8 bat. titles, 15 All-Star

3. CF Kirby Puckett    .318    207    1,085    6 Silver Sluggers

4. 3B Mike Schmidt    .267    548    1,595    8x HR leader, 3 MVPs

5. DH Eddie Murray    .287    504    1,917    3,255 hits, *128 sac flies*

6. 1B Don Mattingly    .307    222    1,099    9 GGs, 442 2Bs

7. 2B Ryne Sandberg    .285    282    1,061    7 SSs, 9 GGs

8. SS Cal Ripken, Jr.    .276    431    1,695    *2,632 cons. Gs*, 2 MVPs

9. C Gary Carter    .262    324    1,225    5 SSs, 11-time All-Star

THE STARTERS    W-L    ERA    More

Roger Clemens    354-184    3.12    *7 CYs*, *20 Ks in game*

Dwight Gooden    194-112    3.51    24-4, 1.53 ERA, 16 CGs in ’85

Nolan Ryan    324-292    3.19    *5,714 Ks*, *2,795 BBs*, *7 NHs*

Fernando Valenzuela    173-153    3.54    Cy Young & ROY (’81), 20 CGs (’86)

Jack Morris    254-186    3.90    175 CGs, 242 IP/season avg.

THE CLOSER    Saves    ERA    More

Dennis Eckersley    390    3.50    Cy Young & MVP in ’92

THE MANAGER    W-L    Pct.    More

Tommy Lasorda    1,599-1,439    .526    4 pennants, 2 WS titles

*=MLB record

The Maynard Era (1964-79)

In my humble opinion, my era would be hard-pressed not to be called the best.

Not because I selected them but, as with any good team, you start with pitching. Who can do much better than Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer? I mean, come on, how many runs could you possibly have to score?

If any of those guys ever got into trouble, we have the intimidating Goose Gossage waiting in the bullpen.

I could stop right there, but I won’t.

Those pitchers will be throwing to the best catcher in baseball history, none other than Mr. Johnny Bench. You will notice that my era is distinctly red in color, as in Redlegs. There’s Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion and Pete Rose in the infield and a former Red, Frank Robinson, in the outfield. We also have Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron in our star-packed outfield. Willie “Stretch” McCovey is over at first base and Don Baylor is the DH.

I’ve looked at the other rosters and they’re impressive. But for my money, with the kind of pitching that this era provides, we can’t be beat.

And when it comes to postgame press conferences, who is better than Sparky Anderson?

I rest my case.

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