Monday, April 02, 2012

All-Time Teams #1: Arizona Diamondbacks

This is the first entry in an ongoing series where I'm naming an all-time team for each of the current 30 MLB franchises, and using this as a vehicle to discuss their greatest eligible player who is not in the Hall of Fame.

There is one more thing worth mentioning before I officially kick this thing off. That is, as far as bullpens are concerned, I didn't feel it was necessary to pick five or six actual relief pitchers, when most of these guys are in relief roles because they're worse than their teams' starters in the first place. Not to mention that, for the most part, relievers are not nearly as valuable as starters.

I do have a self-imposed requirement that there be a closer on each squad, and there will generally be a couple more true relief pitchers. But, beyond that I decided I'd rather include the sixth, seventh and maybe eighth best starting pitchers if they're more deserving than the third, fourth and fifth best relievers.

Again, as I said in the introductory post, beyond the 14 players (eight position players, five starters, one closer) who make up the team's regulars—so to speak—the remaining 11 slots will have more to do with worthiness than some pre-determined roster makeup. Provided, of course, that the end result is a collection of players who could realistically make up a team.

OK, now it's time to get down to business.

Franchise History
Arizona Diamondbacks (1998- )

Starters
C - Damian Miller (1998-2002)
1B - Chad Tracy (2004-2009)
2B - Jay Bell (1998-2002)
SS - Stephen Drew (2006- )
3B - Matt Williams (1998-2003)
LF - Luis Gonzalez (1999-2006)
CF - Steve Finley (1999-2004)
RF - Justin Upton (2007- )

Rotation
Randy Johnson (1999-2004, 2007-2008)
Brandon Webb (2003-2009)
Curt Schilling (2000-2003)
Dan Haren (2008-2010)
Ian Kennedy (2010- )

Closer
Jose Valverde (2003-2007)

Reserves
C - Miguel Montero (2006- )
1B - Erubiel Durazo (1998-2002)
2B - Orlando Hudson (2006-2008)
IF - Craig Counsell (2000-2003, 2005-2006)
CF - Chris Young (2006- )
OF - Eric Byrnes (2006-2009)

Bullpen
Miguel Batista (2001-2003, 2006)
Byung-Hyun Kim (1999-2003)
Brian Anderson (1998-2002)
Matt Mantei (2002-2004)
Greg Swindell (1999-2002)

Manager
Bob Brenly (2001-2004)


Greatest Eligible non-Hall of Famer:

There's not a single Hall of Famer in this group, although Randy Johnson is a lock once he becomes eligible, and Curt Schilling is a likely inductee.

Of the 25 players on this all-time team, 10 are still active (Batista, Drew, Haren, O. Hudson, Kennedy, Montero, Upton, Valverde, Webb, Young) and nine are not yet eligible for the Hall ballot (Byrnes, Counsell, Finley, Gonzalez, Johnson, Kim, Miller, Schilling, Tracy). That leaves Anderson, Bell, Durazo, Mantei, Swindell and Williams.

Since Williams played more time with the Giants, Bell more with the Pirates, and Swindell more with the Indians (and all three had clearly greater success with those teams), and Durazo was only in the majors for seven years, this distinction goes to Brian Anderson, over Mantei.

Brian Anderson in Arizona Diamondbacks uniform

Anderson played 13 years in the majors: five with Arizona and three each with Cleveland, Kansas City and California (as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were called in saner days).

He posted a career record of 82-83 with a 4.74 ERA and 98 ERA+ in 1547 innings. With Arizona, he was 41-42 with a 4.52 ERA and 101 ERA+. Obviously nowhere near Hall of Fame material—he didn't even make the ballot upon becoming eligible in 2011—but he did enjoy some postseason success, pitching in the World Series for both Cleveland and Arizona.

In all, he pitched in three separate postseasons: 1997 with Cleveland, and 1999 and 2001 with Arizona. In 11 appearances (including two starts) spanning 29 2/3 innings, Anderson allowed just 29 base-runners (22 hits, 7 walks), while striking out 17 and posting a 2.43 ERA. He was 2-1 with one save, and is a proud member of Arizona's 2001 World Series championship team, although his only loss came in that series.

Next Up: Atlanta Braves

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