Tuesday, June 13, 2017
All-Name Teams: Part One
This is one of the stupider ways I have ever spent a lot of time: I exhaustively assembled MLB all-name teams, coming up with the best all-time baseball teams comprised of players with the same first name. This is the first in a series of posts revealing and explaining the most dominant such teams. The top eight teams are: the All-Ed Team, the All-George Team, the All-Jim Team, the All-Joe Team, the All-John Team, the All-Lou Team, the All-Robert Team, and the All-William Team.
Later in the series, we'll address a few all-name teams that missed the cut, such as Charles and Frank, as well as the All-Girl-Names Team. This week, I'll cover the two best all-name infields, the All-Ed Team and the All-Lou Team.
includes Ed, Eddie, Edgar, Edwin, Edward, and Edd
C: Ed Bailey
1B: Eddie Murray
2B: Eddie Collins
SS: Edgar Renteria
3B: Eddie Mathews
LF: Eddie Dwight
CF: Edd Roush
RF: Ed Delahanty
DH: Edgar Martinez
Rotation: Ed Plank, Ed Walsh, Eddie Cicotte, Ed Reulbach, Ed Morris
Bench: catcher Ed Herrmann, pinch hitter Ed Konetchy, infielders Eddie Stanky and Ed McKean
Bullpen: Eddie Fisher, Eddie Guardado, Eddie Lopat, Eddie Rommel, Eddie Smith, Ed Whitson
The All-Ed Team features seven Hall of Famers: Murray, Collins, Mathews, Roush, Delahanty, Plank, and Walsh. Edgar Martinez will probably get into Cooperstown one day, and Cicotte might be in if not for the Black Sox Scandal. Eddie Dwight was a center fielder in the Negro Leagues, and probably one of the fastest players in the history of professional baseball. He was a terrific fielder even though he didn't have a good arm. On this team, he plays left-center, Roush plays center-right, and Delahanty (who primarily played left field) is in right, but he'll get a lot of help from Roush.
The Eds have as good an infield as any all-name team. Murray, Collins, and Mathews are inner-circle Hall of Famers; Collins and Mathews are in the discussion for the best of all time at their respective positions. At shortstop, Édgar Rentería — a five-time all-star and a World Series MVP — barely edged Ed McKean (a 19th-century player who hit .302 and stole 323 bases). Renteria was a much better fielder, while McKean was a poor shortstop but a good hitter. On the All-Ed Team, McKean is a utility infielder and a pinch hitter for Renteria, if you really want to pinch-hit for someone with two World Series-clinching hits. He's also the second-best base stealer on the team (behind Collins), so he could pinch-run. Stanky, the 1950 NL MVP, walked in 18.3% of his career plate appearances, with a better on-base percentage (.410) than Hall of Famers Murray, Mathews, or Roush.
The Eds have incredible depth available in their infield, with Edgardo Alfonzo, Edwin Encarnacion, Eddie Joost, Eddie Miller, Eddie Robinson, and Eddie Yost all missing the cut. There is no backup outfielder, because there simply aren't a lot of good Eds in the outfield. I considered Ed Scott, better known as the scout who signed Hank Aaron to his first professional contract, but realistically, you'd take someone like Stanky and stick him in left before you'd let Scott try to hit.
You'll notice a number of starting pitchers in the bullpen. In assembling the All-Name Teams, I decided to prioritize performance over purity. Sure, Fisher and Guardado are the only true relievers on the team, but the others were fine pitchers who would be even more effective in limited innings. The Ed Morris in the rotation is Edward "Cannonball" Morris, who earned the nickname as one of the hardest throwers of his generation, and pitched a no-hitter in 1884. From 1884-86, he went 34-13, 39-24, and 41-20, with an ERA under 2.50 all three years.
The All-Ed Team lost some great players to nicknames, including center fielder Edwin "Duke" Snider, and left-handed ace Edward "Whitey" Ford. If you allow the nicknamed guys, Snider would probably play right field, moving Delahanty back to his natural position in left. Ford kicks Cannonball Morris to the bullpen.
This team would benefit immensely from including Neds and Teds. That would add Ned Garver and Ted Lilly to the bullpen, and Hall of Famer Ted Lyons to the rotation. Ted Strong, a 7-time Negro League all-star, becomes the fourth outfielder. Another Negro Leaguer, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, would play catcher and log some innings as a relief pitcher. Radcliffe would be a backup, though, because including Teds replaces the two weakest regulars, catcher Ed Bailey and left fielder Eddie Dwight, with Ted Simmons and Ted Williams. That's a phenomenal team; it could hold its own against any all-name club. Batting order:
1. Eddie Collins, 2B
2. Ted Williams, RF
3. Edgar Martínez, DH
4. Eddie Mathews, 3B
5. Eddie Murray, 1B
6. Ed Delahanty, LF
7. Duke Snider, CF
8. Ted Simmons, C
9. Edgar Renteria, SS
Five of those nine bat left-handed, so I shuffled the switch-hitting Murray in front of Delahanty to break things up a little. This is a nightmare lineup for right-handed pitchers. The pitching rotation, including Whitey Ford and Ted Lyons, has four Hall of Famers plus Eddie Cicotte.
The bench and bullpen are stacked, too. Backups include Double Duty Radcliffe, Ed Konetchy, Ed McKean, and Ted Strong. The original bullpen inherits Reulbach and Morris, who were displaced by Ford and Lyons. If you include Snider, Ford, and the Teds, the All-Ed Team is as good as any all-name team, probably the best. Even without allowing Teds — which is probably cheating — the Eds have the best infield of any all-name team, and they're top-five overall. If you permit last-name Eds, Jim Edmonds would join the team as a reserve outfielder.
includes Lewis, Louis, and Luis
C: Louis Santop
1B: Lou Gehrig
2B: Lou Whitaker
SS: Luis Aparicio
3B: Lou Boudreau
LF: Luis Gonzalez
CF: Lew Ford
RF: Lou Piniella
DH: Lou Brock
Rotation: Luis Tiant, Lew Burdette, Luis Tiant Sr., Lou Fette, Lew Richie
Bench: catcher Lew Brown, infielders Lou Bierbauer, Luis Castillo, and Lew Riggs, pinch hitter Lew Fonseca
Bullpen: Luis Aquino, Luis Arroyo, Lou Brissie, Luis DeLeon, Lew Krausse, Lou Pote
This team surprised me. I wasn't seriously considering an All-Lou Team — I expected more from the All-Frank and All-Mike Teams — but it's surprisingly stacked. You've got five Hall of Famers (Santop, Gehrig, Aparicio, Boudreau, and Brock), plus Lou Whitaker, who ranks 6th all-time in WAR among second basemen. That's a helluva base to build around. Obviously you'd want both Aparicio and Boudreau in the starting lineup, so one of them has to play third.
This team's weakness is its outfield. Luis Gonzalez had 1,400 runs and 1,400 RBI, while Lou Brock had 3,000 hits and broke Ty Cobb's stolen base record, but Ford and Piniella have much less to offer. Maybe you remember Lew Ford. He played for the Twins in the mid-2000s, and got a couple MVP votes in '04. He was an excellent minor league player, but not a consistent performer in the American League. He's the weakest regular on the team. Piniella didn't walk, couldn't run, and couldn't throw — but he played for 16 years, batted .291, and had 1,705 hits in the major leagues.
The bench on this team is not impressive. If Gonzalez or Brock gets hurt, they're not going to be competitive with the top all-name teams. Lew Brown was a good-hitting catcher in the 1870s and '80s, but his career is short and the quality of baseball in that era is open to debate. Bierbauer was another 19th-century player, mostly the 1890s. He was a brilliant fielder but couldn't hit. Lew Riggs played for the Reds and Dodgers; he was an All-Star in 1936, but World War II effectively ended his career. Fonseca had 1,000 hits and a .316 average, but in the 1920s that wasn't as impressive as it sounds today. Castillo is the best of the bench players, a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champ, but his skill set is largely redundant with Bierbauer's.
The pitching rotation is solid more than exceptional. Luis Tiant is the staff ace. He won 229 games in the major leagues, and made four All-Star Games, but that doesn't include 1972, when he led the majors in ERA and finished 8th in the AL MVP race, or 1973, when he won 20 games and led the league in WHIP. It doesn't include 1966, when Tiant led the majors in shutouts, or 1967, when he led in K/9.
Tiant's father was a great left-handed pitcher in the Negro Leagues. Lew Burdette, an outstanding control pitcher, went 203-144 and made two All-Star Games with the Braves. Richie pitched for the Phillies and Cubs in the early 20th century. He had a sub-2.00 ERA in 1907 and 1908, pitching a combined 274 innings in those seasons, and he went 16-8 in 1912. He retired at 74-65 with a 2.54 ERA.
Lou Fette went 20-10 as a rookie in 1937. He had a 2.88 ERA, led the National League in shutouts, and finished 5th in the MVP race. In 1939 he had a 2.96 ERA, led the majors in shutouts, and made the All-Star Game. Two years later, the War came, effectively ending Fette's career. He went 0-2 in 1945 and then retired.
Arroyo, a two-time All-Star, is the All-Lou relief ace. Brissie was a World War II veteran who played with a metal brace on his leg. He was a good player from 1948-50, and an All-Star in '49. The bullpen, like the bench, is not strong. The All-Lou team has a terrific infield, but it lacks depth.
I thought about including the surname Lewis and the A-Lou family, since this team doesn't have a lot of depth. Moises and Felipe Alou join Gonzalez as starting outfielders; there's really no one who can play center, but it's worth it to have their bats in the lineup. Buddy Lewis (real name John) provides a massive upgrade to the bench; he hit .297 / .368 / .420 and played twice as many games as Riggs. Duffy Lewis becomes a reserve outfielder.
The Lous have one gigantic nickname loss: Lewis "Hack" Wilson, the Hall of Fame center fielder who holds the single-season record for runs batted in. He was also the second player — behind Babe Ruth — to hit 50 home runs in a season. Replacing Ford with Wilson would be a titanic upgrade; it turns a glaring weakness into a strength. Lewis "Bobo" Newsom was a 4-time All-Star who won 211 games; he would push Richie to the bullpen.
If you allow Hack Wilson and the Alous, this team would be very competitive with the other all-name teams. That considerably boosts the outfield, and no one has a better infield, except maybe the Eds. Batting order, not including related surnames:
1. Lou Brock, DH
2. Lou Gehrig, 1B
3. Hack Wilson, CF
4. Luis Gonzalez, LF
5. Louis Santop, C
6. Lou Boudreau, SS
7. Lou Whitaker, 2B
8. Lou Piniella, RF
9. Luis Aparicio, SS
With Wilson, this becomes a dangerous lineup top-to-bottom. Batting Aparicio ninth, he can be sort of a second leadoff man, getting into scoring position with the top of the order on deck. Like the Eds, this lineup is full of left-handed hitters: Brock, Gehrig, Gonzalez, Santop, and Whitaker. Even with Bobo Newsom, though, the pitching rotation is the weakest of any all-name team in this project (except maybe the Georges).
Check back next week, when we'll do the All-Rob Team and the All-George Team.