Monday, July 9, 2007

Long live the 90s

This season in baseball has been filled with many players approaching or achieving career milestones. The most infamous, of course, is Barry Bonds' pursuit of the all-time home run record.

Frank Thomas, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio all have achieved some of baseballs highest marks. Ken Griffey Jr. is approaching 600 home runs, Tom Glavine 300 wins, and Greg Maddox is nearing 350.

Most of these guys put up the bulk of their numbers in the 90s. However, instead of being remembered for the players that made their mark during the decade, the 90s will likely be remembered for steroids.

Its a shame, because the steroid problem was fueled by baseball's reluctance to act, and reporters reluctance to speak out.

I say oh well. Whats done is done. I'm a strong believer that steroids is beneficial primarily as something to keep you on the field, not enhance what you already can do. At least not to the point where someone like Bonds is hitting 750 HRs opposed to 450, as many reporters seem to believe.

Anyway, with the All-Star festivities among us, I figured I'd honor a lot of these dudes by dropping the official Sportsology All-90's team. This is the decade i grew up in, so a lot of these dudes hold a special place in my heart.


Greg Maddux - Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves

90's Stats - W-L 176-87, 3.20 Avg ERA, 1764 K's, 4 Cy Youngs, 10 Gold Gloves

It was a toss up between him and Roger Clemens, but Maddux gets the edge because of his defensive presence. Plus, I'll deduct the steroids points from Clemens that a guy like Bonds will lose on an official vote.


Randy Johnson - Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks

90's Stats - W-L 150-75, 3.22 Avg ERA, 2538 K's, 2 Cy Youngs

The Big Unit was maybe the most feared pitcher in the decade. 6'10 with a 100 MPH fastball and a nasty slider, injuries kept him from winning at least another 20 games during the decade, and striking out nearly 3,000 batters.


Ivan Rodriguez - Texas Rangers

90's Stats - .296 Avg BA, 1,333 H, 261 2B, 144 HR, 621 RBI, 8 Gold Gloves, 1 MVP

I thought it would've been closer between him and Piazza, but it was really a no brainer. Mike had more media hype during the decade, but Pudge was a pretty good hitter. In addition, he was the best defensive catcher in the game hands down, and may go down as the best one ever. Piazza's struggles on defense as a catcher have been well documented.

1st Base

Frank Thomas - Chicago White Sox

90's Stats - .321 Avg BA, 1,564 H, 317 2B, 321 HR, 1,040 RBI, 2 MVP

A close one between him and Jeff Bagwell, who both same the birthday. Although Bagwell does have a gold glove, neither were good fielders. Thomas spent a lot of time at DH in his career, and Bagwell probably would've too if he was in the American League. Thomas was a better hitter for average and won one more MVP than Bagwell.

2nd Base

Roberto Alomar - San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians

90's Stats - .309 Avg BA, 1,678 H, 321 2B, 135 HR, 732 RBI, 8 Gold Gloves

This was my bias pick of the bunch. Robbie Alomar was my favorite player. I was a second baseman, and he was the epitome of greatness at the position. He could hit and play defense with the best of them and was one of the most exciting players in the game. Although 13 was my favorite number, as a baseball player I wore #12 because of Alomar during various stages of my "career."

3rd Base

Matt Williams - San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks

90's Stats - .280 Avg BA, 1,518 H, 241 2B, 300 HR, 960 RBI, 4 Gold Gloves

Surprisingly, he was the best the 90's had to offer at third base. He's the only person on this list who will likely not go to the hall of fame. Yet, he was the best player during the decade at the position, ahead of guys like Wade Boggs (downside of his career), Ken Caminiti (performance enhanced best season), Chipper Jones (not enough seasons), and Robin Ventura. Not to mention, he was making a run at 61 before the strike ended the season in 1994.


Barry Larkin - Cincinnati Reds

90's Stats - .304 Avg BA, 1,447 H, 269 2B, 137 HR, 639 RBI, 1 MVP, 3 Gold Gloves

Barry was the most consistent shortstop who played the entire decade at shortstop. I know that sounds weird, but don't forget that Cal Ripken Jr. started the 90s at the 6 before ending at the 5, where he finished his career.

Left Field

Barry Bonds - Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants

90's Stats - .301 Avg BA, 1,478 H, 299 2B, 361 HR, 1,076 RBI, 2 MVP, 9 Gold Gloves

No Brainer 1A. One of the greatest of all-time, if not the greatest of all time. Best NL Player of the Decade.

Center Field

Ken Griffey Jr. - Seattle Mariners

90's Stats - .300 Avg BA, 1,622 H, 297 2B, 382 HR, 1,091 RBI, 1 MVP, 10 Gold Gloves

No Brainer 1B. He would've been the greatest of all-time easily, had it not been for injuries. Best AL Player of the Decade.

Right Field

Sammy Sosa - Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs

90's Stats - .265 Avg BA, 1,366 H, 198 2B, 332 HR, 928 RBI, 1 MVP

This was another close one, between him and Tony Gwynn. I gave it to Sammy because I figure Gwynn was probably even better in the 80s, definitely as a defender. Steroids or not, what Sammy Sosa did in the late 90s was crazy and I know he's not going to get any recognition for it anywhere else. Besides, he saved baseball. Without him McGwire would've been chasing history by himself. He has the charisma of a paper bag. Sosa added flair and personality to the HR chase, and his smile, and hop step and kiss routine helped bring baseball back and better than its ever been, at least financially.

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