MLB All-Time Team: Rotation/Bullpen

New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera

As a Part 2 to my MLB All-Time Team, I will list my pitchers, which I am allowed 13 of. I will go with 5 starters and 8 relievers, and so it may not be the 13 best pitchers of all time as there wouldn’t be 8 relievers in that list, it’ll really be the 5 best starters and then 8 best relievers of all time. For reference to who the batters were click here, and with that being said, let’s get on with out historic squad.

#1: Pedro Martinez

Yes I’m a Yankees fan putting a Red Sox legend as the best pitcher of all time, and that’s because I think he simply is. Yes he’s 15th in fWAR but that’s in only 2720.2 innings pitched compared to the people ahead of him who all have at least 1,100 innings more on their career. In the steroid era he had a career 2.95 ERA and 2.91 FIP and is one of three pitchers (minimum 2,000 innings pitched) who had a 10 or higher K/9 in their career. He also has the 5th best WHIP of all time at 1.05 and the best FIP- of all time and second best ERA- of all time, two stats that compare a pitcher to the average of that stat in their playing time, meaning that when you adjust for the era you pitched in, no one was more dominant in their era than Pedro was in his. Disgaree with me if you want, but he’s my GOAT pitcher.

#2: Roger Clemens

Had it not been for PEDs, I would’ve put him at one, but you take his stats with a grain of salt because of his PED usage. 3rd all time in FIP- and 8th in ERA- and the best fWAR of all time amongst pitchers. I think Clemens is a shoe-in for a starting five and that having that rocket arm in this rotation will be able to give me some serious firepower. Analytically speaking he’s undoubtedly an all-time great, and he’s my second starter

#3: Randy Johnson

Our first southpaw, Johnson is one of the best strikeout pitchers per 9 of all time, with a 10.61 K/9 and a whopping 110.4 fWAR. His 3.29 ERA and 3.19 FIP in the over 4,000 innings is amazing especially since you consider that he pitched from the 1989 season to 2009 which puts him directly in the steroid era, so his FIP- and ERA- metrics give him more justice and show he was an absolute stud on the mound. He’s the best lefty of all time in my opinion, and he’s perfect for this squad.

#4: Walter Johnson

The Big Train is a premier pick for this squad, with a 2.17 career ERA and a 2.42 FIP, he’s elite by any metric you’d like to bring up. He has a 117.1 fWAR and a ERA- of 68 and FIP- of 76 along with a 1.06 WHIP and was one of the best right handers of his era. He does have the best ERA and FIP out of all starters but his era adjusted stats bring him a tick below our top 3, but he’s still going to be a monster on this squad.

#5: Sandy Koufax

The second southpaw on this list, there are few stretches of baseball more dominant than from 1962-1966 as he had a better than 1:1 strikeout to inning ratio, with a 1.95 ERA and 2.00 FIP  in that span. He won 3 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP, 5 ERA and FIP crowns, 4 WHIP crowns, 3 strikeout crowns, all while averaging 263 innings per SEASON. He’d be higher on this list had his health issues not derailed his career, but he’s more than deserving of a spot in this ultimate rotation.

Bullpen:

Aroldis Chapman: A present day reliever? This isn’t only one on the list but Chapman is going to be a HOFer one day, with a 2.23 ERA, 2.01 FIP, and a 2.36 xFIP with a 14.84 K/9 is insane, and I think he’s one of the 8 best relievers of all time, being a fire-baller and a historic strikeout machine. He’d be higher on this list but his limited body of work holds him back (for now)

Lee Smith: A Hall of Fame reliever, Lee Smith has a 3.03 ERA and a 2.93 FIP over 1289.1 innings and is one of baseball’s best relievers being a 6’6 225 hurler who was reliable as they get. He was able to toss multiple 100+ inning seasons as a reliever and was durable. He’s an electric reliever and a mainstay in the best relievers conversation, so I have to put him in this bullpen.

Trevor Hoffman: I know that I have him here at 6 and that’ll upset people, but saves aren’t the best metrics for a reliever. He has a 3.08 FIP and 2.87 ERA which is really good but the people ahead of him either had lower ERA and FIP metrics, or had longer careers and therefore had more overall value. Yes Hoffman is a great reliever but he’s not better than the 5 ahead of him.

Rich “Goose” Gossage: A staple in talks of some of baseball’s best relievers, Gossage pitched 1809 innings and had a 3.01 ERA and a 3.18 FIP. The reason I have him above Hoffman is because of his 500 innings more of relief work, I won’t count his innings as a starter but it’s just part of how Gossage was more durable and was as good as Hoffman arguably but for longer.

Craig Kimbrel: What? Above Gossage??? Above HOFFMAN? HE DOESN’T KNOW BASEBALL” Yes I know this is very upsetting for people who only look at names and not metrics. In his career Kimbrel already has a 2.08 ERA and a 2.19 FIP and 2.26 xFIP. That’s beyond elite, and while he doesn’t have the 600 saves, saves are a product of being up by 1-3 runs and finishing the job, things beyond the control of a pitcher as they can’t force a team to only be up by a score of 1-3 runs. Kimbrel had a rough 2019, and people will use that to say he’s washed but that’s without the context of how he didn’t have a healthy season or a spring training. He’s a top 4 reliever all time, to not have him top 8 is to ignore analytics in favor for bias.

Billy Wagner: Billy is so underrated, being one of the best fire-ballers of the reliever class and with his 2.31 ERA and 2.73 FIP he’s one of the most sound run preventer as well. He posted a n 11.92 K/9 and sported a 1.00 WHIP. He’s one of those pitchers that can do it all, with prevention of runs and base-runners, good velocity, great body of work to go off of, AND great strikeout metrics. He’s a shoe in at number 3.

Rollie Fingers: In over 1,500 innings of work, Fingers has a 2.84 ERA and 2.88 FIP, and while Wagner and Kimbrel have better numbers, I think the body of work argument truly does matter here as the gap between Hoffman and Kimbrel was 500 innings but here it’s 1000 so I won’t put Kimbrel higher on the list, and Wagner has 600 less innings with a similar FIP so I have to give Fingers the edge here. A deserving HOFer and a classic for relievers.

Mariano Rivera: My fellow Yankee fans you can breathe a sigh of relief (get it) now that I have Rivera at one. My little monologue on why saves don’t matter as much probably scared you guys into thinking Rivera wouldn’t be number one, but come on guys I wouldn’t do that. A 2.06 ERA and 2.67 FIP as a reliever (not using his starter stats), he was as dominant as they came. He had the best ERA- on this list (second all time behind…Zack Britton) and he’s 10th in FIP- and third on this list (Behind Kimbrel and Chapman.) I won’t even bring up saves, I’ll actually defer to his insane stats in the postseason that speak for themselves. He’s the best reliever of all time, and if I need to close out a game, even with all the talent in this bullpen, I’m bringing out the Sandman.

What do you guys think about this list? Would you change this team at all?

MLB All-Time Team: Lineup and Bench

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

With the world of baseball being in shambles, taking a moment to try to remember the history of our sport can cope with these rougher times. The NFL recently did an All-Time team with the 100-year anniversary squad, and while the MLB isn’t celebrating its centennial season, it doesn’t make trying to construct an All-Time team any less fun. I’ll be using a lot of advanced metrics to fill in the team, and I will use PED users, but only guys who had shown to be great even without juicing.

The team will have 8 position players in the starting lineup, with a DH included as well. There will be 4 bench players, and a total of 13 pitchers, 5 starters, 8 relievers to have a total of 26 players. This team is going to be loaded, but this article will cover the lineup and the bench, with the next being about the pitching.

Catcher: Johnny Bench

Starting at catcher is the GOAT of catchers, with a career 125 wRC+, the highest fWAR of all-time amongst catchers at 74.8, 389 home runs (2nd), and whopping 97 Total Zone in Runs Above Average, one of the only defensive stats around at the time. He is often regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and in my opinion, he belongs on this squad at Catcher.

First Base: Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig’s 173 wRC+, .447 OBP, 477 wOBA, and .632 SLG are the best marks for any first baseman of all time. While he’s second in fWAR amongst 1st baseman (as Fangraphs considers Musial a 1st baseman AND outfielder), Musial had 22 seasons of play compared to Gehrig’s 17, so per 150 games Gehrig had a better fWAR. While defensively he was never truly highly regarded statistically, I will take great offense at 1st and take the defensive hit as a defense at first is less valuable than offense at 1st.

Second Base: Rogers Hornsby

The sweet-swinging righty from Texas Rogers Hornsby is offensively unrivaled at the second base position, as a 173 wRC+ trumps any of his competitors at the 2nd base position. He leads all second basemen in OBP, SLG, and wOBA, and has the 4th most home runs as well. His 2 MVPs and 1038 walks simply add on to the greatness that is Hornsby. The icing on the cake? A 130.3 fWAR leads all 2nd basemen, and the person behind him (Eddie Collins) is behind him by 9.8 but has nearly 800 more games played.  Defensively he had a 54 total TZ, as he had played well at multiple defensive positions, definitely belonging on this list.

Third Base: Mike Schmidt

The greatest Phillie of all time is also the greatest 3rd baseman of all time, and while A-Rod was a close 2nd, due to fWAR/150, wRC+, and Total Zone and Defensive Rating showing Mike Schmidt was the better defensive 3rd baseman, I had to give it to Schmidt. Also with A-Rod’s use of PEDs, I had to peg his stats down a bit, but that won’t be the last mention of PEDs on this list.

Shortstop: Honus Wagner

Now again, A-Rod came in second for me, but I’ll get to him later (epic foreshadowing), Honus Wagner’s 147 wRC+ and insane 138.1 fWAR is incredible, and because of it there’s no denying that this is Wagner’s spot. He has to be one of the most explosive players of the deadball era, with 722 stolen bases and a great ability to play defense at this critical position. Defensively Wagner is hard to gauge over A-Rod because we only have Total Zone, but TZ does give Honus Wagner a great defensive rating, and so I’m inclined to put Wagner’s defense at short, as SS is a crucial position defensively.

Left Field: Barry Bonds

Arguably the most controversial player in MLB history, Bonds is probably the greatest hitter of all time. Yes, PEDs helped his numbers, but he’s rumored to have begun juicing in 1998, but in the years prior? Gold Gloves, MVPs, and a whopping 90.7 fWAR in only 11 seasons of play. He averaged an 8.2 fWAR for his pre-PED years and was a great baserunner and defender in those years along with great offense. He played a lot of left fields and was great defensively out there, so we’re going to get a great speed, great defense, and great power out of our left-field position.

Center Field: Mike Trout

“B-b-b-but he’s not as good as ______” Sorry, I don’t speak wrong when it comes to GOAT players, and there’s no doubting Mike Trout’s GOAT level of play. He has the best wRC+ out of all Center Fielders, best SLG, is 5th in OBP, and has the best fWAR per 150 games out of any of his Center Field competition. To give you context, his only competitor here Willie Mays has a 7.5 fWAR per 150, Trout? Just chilling at a whopping 9.1 fWAR/150. He’s just that great, and there’s no denying his spot on this team, STARTING.

Right Field: Babe Ruth

With the highest fWAR of all time despite having the least amount of games played in the top five of fWAR, the greatest wRC+ of all time, the greatest SLG% of all time, the second-best OBP of all time, and the greatest wOBA of all time. He also had an 80 TZ in Right Field, which is surprising for most to believe that he was actually a good defensive outfielder for the most part, and so I put him in the outfield instead of the DH of this squad, as the DH isn’t great defensively in the outfield. Speaking of the DH…

Designated Hitter: Ted Williams

For DH, I need the best hitter possible, and that is Ted Williams. He has the second-best wRC+, the best OBP, the second-best SLG, second-best wOBA, and a 130.4 fWAR, which is 8th all-time. He is incredible with the bat, and while his defense is poor, it doesn’t matter as he’s going to DH. It’s why I had Bonds, Trout, and Ruth in the outfield and neither of them at DH because they were the better defensive outfielders. Now with the lineup set, we need depth.

Bench

  1. Willie Mays: Willie is the best player not on the starting lineup, and he would’ve been my 4th outfielder of choice, and the DH, if it wasn’t for Williams, is the better hitter. He has a 154 wRC+ and a 149.9 fWAR, and his defense is well documented. His 338 stolen bases also show his speed that accompanies his 660 Home Runs, and had it not been for Mike Trout existing, he’d have been in the lineup. His reason for not starting boiled down to is he the better than Trout, Bonds, or Ruth? No, and is he a better hitter than Ted Williams? No, but he is a better player than Williams, however at DH only your bat matters. Willie Mays is a top 4 player all time, the issue is the 3 guys ahead of him are outfielders.
  2. Mickey Mantle: The power-hitting outfielder is a great bat off the bench if they need to go to him for some late-inning heroics. With a 170 wRC+ as a switch hitter, he’s going to be able to handle any matchup that he’s put into unless he faces a switch-pitcher, which would be hilarious.
  3. Alex Rodriguez: I can’t have a 3rd outfielder off the bench, so instead I’ll take a player who offensively has both speed and power and can play very well defensively at shortstop. He can also play 3rd, and in the case that Mike Schmidt needs to be pinch ran for or Honus’ power doesn’t suffice for the job, A-Rod will be ready off of the bench.
  4. Mike Piazza: Johnny Bench is the GOAT catcher but Piazza is the GOAT catcher offensively. If I need to upgrade my bat at the catcher position mid-game, I can throw Piazza as the bat or have him come in to catch after subbing Bench out for either Mantle, Mays, or A-Rod. Piazza gives me a ton of options with the lineup during a game, and there’s nothing wrong with having options

That covers the lineup and bench of this squad, with the pitching being next, let me know what you’d do differently with this team!