Sunday, August 9, 2009

All Time Team: Centerfield

COOLY: Zach originally wanted me to work with him on these articles and then promptly wrote the first one (left fielders) without me. Ass. Well, I guess it worked out alright because I would have chosen the exact same players. Maybe I would have given Rickey a little more credit for his leadoff abilities. But Ted Williams was the obvious choice.

Centerfield is a little harder.

Other than shortstop, centerfield is the most important defensive position on the field. This aspect brings some of the greatest to ever play the game out to the middle of the outfield grass (or fucking gay ass hill).

It’s a superstar position and always will be. Well, unless Willy Taveras has been signed by your team.

So here are the picks:

Mickey Mantle was a man that could only stop himself with alcoholism. Of course, I never got to see him play. However, whenever I read books written by classic baseball writers or sooth myself with the voice of Alec Baldwin in “Baseball’s Golden Age,” those old dudes always pop boners sans Viagra when they talk about Mantle. And I can fully understand. He played for the Yankees. He ran like the wind. He hit towering home runs . He partied hard. And I guess his stats were decent, too. 536 career jacks, he slugged .557 and had an OBP of .421. Also toss in three MVPs, sixteen All Star nods, one Triple Crown, and seven World Series titles. Oh, and he played with bum knees all the time. Not too shabby. Official line: 17 seasons, 2,415 H/536 HR/ 1,677 R/ 1,509 RBI/ .298/ .421/ .557.

My next pick is going to be the one that causes the most commotion here. Partly because it’s a homer pick. Okay, fine, it’s completely a homer pick. But I really truly do feel that Jim Edmonds needs to be mentioned in this posting (Zach's Note: No he does not. He is not even close to being in this argument). Of course, his hitting statistics are formidable, but nothing to write home about. 382 HRs, .377 OBP, .528 SLG. And some may argue that his numbers in St. Louis were enhanced (although, I maintain that he always slugged well in California/Anaheim/Los Angeles and continued with the Cardinals, but he finally got protection and a chance to play every day in St. Louis which caused the power numbers boost). Others will simply argue that he’s a prick. But I will maintain that his presence on defense is what should put him in the argument. His eight Gold Gloves simply do not speak too everything that he did in center. He made plays that should not have happened. Often. I didn’t bother finding a career UZR number because it is probably positive one trillion. I didn’t want to blow your mind too much. ZACH'S NOTE: I'm sorry to anyone who knows anything about baseball. I am ashamed that this fine website is going to publish this atrocity. Cooly has offended me as I am sure he offended you. The rest of this post will have very little bias, except for the Griffey section.

That leaves the list down to three. Ken Griffey Jr, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb and Rick Ankiel. I am going to have to cut Rick at this point because of his lack of fastball command, which leaves Griffey, Cobb and Mays.

I’m sure that Zach will end up fellating Junior an unhealthy amount (especially statistically ZPN: like there is any other way????), so I will keep things brief. Ken Griffey Jr. defined baseball in the 1990’s and is not hated by any male below the age of 35. And he was in Little Big League. I just pray to God that he didn’t do steroids.

ZACH'S NOTE: And this is about the time I will begin "fellating" a certain Junior Griffey. First off, he was amazing. Secondly, he changed baseball attire for all time. He robbed countless home runs. He could dunk. Ladies wanted to bang him. He has the sweetest swing of all time (which I got to witness at an obscenely close distance once, easily one of my favorite baseball memories). He was one of the greatest players of the 90's. Unfortunately, due to significant injuries throughout his career, he could not maintain his level of dominance. If Griffey could have stayed healthy, would he be the obvious choice? Most likely. The greatness that was in Griffey and the greatness in Mantle was thwarted by injuries, which have robbed two generations of potentially game changing players. I'm starting to get misty eyed, here are Griffey's numbers: 20 seasons, 2,743 H/ 623 HR/ 1,644 R/1,807 RBI/ .286/ .367/ .580. One MVP, 7 Silver Sluggers, 10 Gold Gloves, 13 All Star Selections.

ZACH'S NOTE: There are still a couple of players worth mentioning in the CF debate. Ty Cobb. Ty Cobb changed the game, by the end of his career he held 90 records. Granted, he played around the turn of the century, and the game desperately needed a player to revolutionize it. He was the man for the job. A dirty player, hard nosed in every aspect, Cobb was an offensive machine. While there is not much known about his defense, I will assume an above average defender, because he was not about to let some asshole get a cheap hit on him. Offensively, his numbers are shocking: 23 seasons, 4,183 H/ 117 HR/ 2,246 R/ 1,937 RBI/ .366/ .433/ .512. Yikes. Everyone of those numbers is gaudy, except home runs, but the parks then were 700 feet deep. He has more runs and RBI's than anyone else mentioned, and that isn't even talking about his hits, batting average, or on base percentage. This guy was a freak.

COOLY: But despite Junior defining baseball for an entire decade for my generation, I still have to pick Willie Mays. The numbers will speak for themselves: 22 seasons, 3,283H/ 2,062 R/1,903 RBI/ 660 HRs/ 338 SBs/ .301 AVG/ .384 OBP/ .557 SLG. I know that his OBP number is lower than Mantle’s, but Mays played longer and let himself age and put up some mediocre numbers at the end of his career. He was the ultimate five-tool player with power (he hit 51 homers at the age of 24 while playing his games at the spacious Polo Grounds), speed (topping out at 40 in his best season), fielding and arm (“The Catch” and 12 Gold Gloves), and ability to get on base. He defined the position and made it what it is today. Willie Mays is my pick for centerfield. Unless curveballs are important. Then, I pick Ankiel.

Cooly's Best: Mays

Zach's Best: Cobb. True greatness transcends generations, and Cobb's numbers prove his greatness.

Cooly's Worst: The previously mentioned Willy Taveras.

Zach's Worst: Steve Finley


  1. No love for Corey Patterson? In case you were wondering what C-Pat is up too, I recently spotted him batting third for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs.

  2. I considered Patterson but figured that since major league teams have already seen his lack of talent, he didn't fit the bill as well as Taveras.

  3. Blast! I forgot about Patterson. Can I redo???

  4. The only reason Jim Edmonds made those amazing catches was because he was too slow (and white) to get to routine fly balls

  5. I'm going to pull the race card on the previous comment.

  6. I vote for Kirby Puckett... even though he's dead