Tuesday, July 11, 2017
All-Name Teams: Part Five
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 fifth 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.
We've already examined the top eight all-name teams:
I judged those to be the best of the all-name teams, but there are some others close behind. Thanks to my friend Josh Frank for helping to fill in some of these rosters.
includes Charles, Charlie, Chuck, and Chick
C: Charlie Bennett
1B: Chuck Knoblauch
2B: Charlie Gehringer
SS: Charlie Hollocher
3B: Chuck Dressen
LF: Charlie Keller
CF: Chick Stahl
RF: Chuck Klein
DH: Chick Hafey
Rotation: Kid Nichols, Bullet Rogan, Old Hoss Radbourn, Dazzy Vance, Red Ruffing
Chuck Knoblauch wasn't a first baseman. He was a second baseman who also logged about 1,500 innings in left field toward the end of his career. But I'd rather have Knoblauch than a true first baseman like Charlie Grimm or Charlie Hickman, and his arm wouldn't be a problem at first. Chili Davis is named Charles; Hafey is a Hall of Famer, but you could replace him with Davis at DH and that wouldn't be crazy.
I suppose it's obvious why I didn't name Charles one of the top eight all-name teams. They have as good a pitching staff as any all-name team, except that no one goes by Charlie. If you want your son to be a star pitcher, name him Charles and call him something else. As you might expect, the Chucks also have a loaded bullpen.
The Charlies have a pretty good outfield, a brilliant pitching staff, and Charlie Gehringer. They're probably a little better than the Lous, but I'm turned off by the don't-call-me-Charlie rotation.
C: Frankie Hayes
1B: Frank Chance
2B: Frankie Frisch
SS: Frankie Crosetti
3B: Home Run Baker
LF: Frank Howard
CF: Frank White
RF: Frank Robinson
DH: Frank Thomas
Rotation: Frank Tanana, Frank Viola, Noodles Hahn, Frank Dwyer, Frank Lary
On most of the teams in this article, someone's playing out of position. The Franks don't have a real center fielder. Frank White was a second baseman. But as best as I can tell the greatest center fielder named Frank was Franklin Gutierrez. Frank White was a terrific athlete with a great talent for tracking fly balls. I'm confident he'd play a good center field.
Frank McCormick, the 1940 NL MVP, gets left out of the starting lineup because the Franks have two Hall of Fame first basemen. Similarly, Hall of Fame second baseman Frank Grant sits behind Frankie Frisch.
The Franks are a little like the Lous: five Hall of Famers (Chance, Frisch, Baker, Robinson, and Thomas), but a hole in center field and a pitching staff that doesn't stack up historically. If you allow players named Francisco, K-Rod would be the All-Frank closer.
includes anyone whose real name is Michael or Miguel
C: Mike Piazza
1B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: Miguel Tejada
SS: Mike Bordick
3B: Mike Schmidt
LF: Mike Griffin
CF: Mike Cameron
RF: King Kelly
DH: Mike Trout
Rotation: Mike Mussina, Mickey Welch, Mickey Lolich, Mike Cuellar, Mike Garcia
I'm sure it seems crazy to make Mike Trout a DH. But at least three of the 10 best position players named Mike are center fielders: Cameron, Griffin, and Trout. It seems like a waste that fellow outfielders Mike Tiernan and Turkey Mike Donlin are relegated to the bench. Don't worry, Mickey Mantle really was named Mickey, not Michael.
The Mikes are equally loaded at third base (Schmidt, Lowell, Moustakas) and catcher (Piazza, Scioscia, Napoli, Stanley), and their only obvious weakness is Bordick, who couldn't hit. Tejada and Bordick were both shortstops, so one of them has to play second. Mike Andrews (the best second baseman named Mike) wasn't a good fielder; you'd rather have Tejada and Bordick.
The Mikes have four HOFers (Piazza, Schmidt, Kelly, and Welch), plus Cabrera, Trout, and Mussina, who all seem like probable entrants to Cooperstown down the line. They would be badly hurt by excluding Miguels: that puts Mike Hargrove at first base, Andrews at second, and Bordick at short, leaving them with the best third baseman of all time, but a weak infield overall. Excluding Mickey Welch and Mickey Lolich — both of whom were named Michael — would similarly devastate the pitching staff. Losing King Kelly, however, would not be a big deal: Griffin would move to right field, with Trout playing left.
C: Tom Haller
1B: Tom Paciorek
2B: Tom Daly
SS: Tom Tresh
3B: Tommy Leach
LF: Tom Brunansky
CF: Tommie Agee
RF: Tommy Holmes
DH: Tommy Henrich
Rotation: Tom Seaver, Tom Glavine, Tommy John, Tommy Bond, Tommy Bridges
The Toms have wonderful pitching but no bats. Tommy Leach was very good, and the outfield is solid. Leach, who played next to Honus Wagner, had over 2,000 hits, led the NL twice in runs, and is one of three players — the others are Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays — to lead their league in triples and home runs in the same season. But this team simply can't score with the other all-name teams. Brunansky is out of position because all the good Toms are right fielders.
Team Charles, Team Frank, and Team Mike are very good; this is the first team that I think would obviously lose to the All-Lou Team, the weakest of the eight rosters profiled in depth as part of this series.
C: Jack Clements
1B: Jack Fournier
2B: Jackie Robinson
SS: Jack Glasscock
3B: Jack Rowe
LF: Jackie Brandt
CF: Jackie Bradley
RF: Jackie Jensen
DH: Jack Clark
Rotation: Jack Chesbro, Jack Morris, Jack Powell, Jack Quinn, Jack Stivetts
The Jacks have a solid pitching staff and impressive middle infield, but they have a shortstop at third base and a rookie in center field, and half the team played in the 19th century. Also, Team John has already put in a claim on Chesbro and Morris.
C: David Ross
1B: David Ortiz
2B: Davey Lopes
SS: Dave Bancroft
3B: Buddy Bell
LF: David Justice
CF: David DeJesus
RF: Dave Winfield
DH: Dave Parker
Rotation: David Cone, Dave Stieb, David Wells, Dave McNally, David Price
Unless you include the surname Davis, Team David obviously doesn't measure up to the top eight teams profiled for this series. The Daves have good backups at third base and shortstop (David Wright and Dave Malarcher; Dave Concepcion) and they've got a good stable of right fielders, but David Ortiz is wearing a glove, they're weak at catcher and center field, and they have one of the least imposing pitching rotations in this project.
If you've been reading the All-Name series, you see the trend. The top eight teams were packed with Hall of Famers. The Williams, Jims, and Joes all have more than 10, and the All-Lou Team is lowest, with 6. The All-Charles roster has 7, Frank has 5, Mike 4 and counting, Tom 2, Jack 2, and Dave 2.
But it's not just superstars these teams are missing: there are gaping holes. Other than maybe Lou and George, the top eight all-name teams have no glaring weaknesses. When someone's playing out of position, it's because they have too many great players, rather than not enough. The All-Will Team has Billy Hamilton in left field because Willie Mays is in center, not because there are no Willies who play left. Every team in this article — Charles, Frank, Mike, Tom, Jack, and Dave — has someone playing out of position, usually a middle infielder playing somewhere else.
The Daves are a good team. If this were a real team, it would probably win the World Series. But at this point, the all-name teams are petering out. We'll do one more and then call it a day.
C: Yogi Berra
1B: Larry Parrish
2B: Larry Doyle
SS: Larry Bowa
3B: Chipper Jones
LF: Larry Hisle
CF: Larry Doby
RF: Larry Walker
DH: Larry Herndon
Rotation: Larry Jackson, Larry French, Larry Corcoran, Larry Dierker, Larry Jansen
Larry Parrish was a third baseman, not a first baseman. Unless I'm missing someone, the only Larry to play more than a handful of games at first base was Larry Biittner, who played for the Senators/Rangers in the early '70s and then bounced around the National League for a decade. Biitner hit .273 with no power (29 career HR) and no speed (10 career SB). I'll take my chances with Parrish.
This team has two Hall of Famers (Berra and Doby) with two more likely on the way (Jones and Walker) but absolutely no depth. It's weak at first, short, left, and DH, and the pitching staff is about the same as the Franks or the Daves. The bench is weak and the bullpen is thin. The All-Larry Team is good, but it can't compete with the top eight. The Georges and Lous would mop the floor with them.
Napoleon Lajoie was nicknamed "Larry Lajoie." If the Larrys could get Nap Lajoie, they'd move Doyle to first and they'd have a team. But I don't think Lajoie really counts as a Larry. For that matter, Yogi (Lawrence Peter Berra) is questionable. Losing him and Chipper would devastate this team.
There are other all-name teams that would do alright — Al and Harold, maybe a couple others — but none worth mentioning with the Joes and Robs, or even the Georges and Lous. Team Mark has a lot of talent, but it's all in the infield, especially first base, and two of the top pitchers had health problems and short careers. Team Roger has Clemens and Bresnahan and maybe Rogers Hornsby, but loses steam quickly after that. The All-Henry Team has a terrific outfield and a Hall of Fame first baseman, but no pitching. Team Peter has a couple big stars, as does Team Paul, but at the end of the day neither one is all that far ahead of Team Mary.
Speaking of Mary, next week we'll finally unveil the just-for-fun All-Girl-Names Team. I know you're curious. We'll also wrap up this project by evaluating the top teams and breaking down their strengths and weakness. And of course, I'll declare a champion: the greatest of the all-name teams.