Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All-Time MLB Franchise Players - NL East

As promised, here is the big list, the top franchise player for each current team throughout their history. Said player must have nearly career-long personal success and have participated in their team's success. Staying on one team throughout their career will be a plus. I will also throw in some honorable mentions and current, newer players who may well achieve that ultimate franchise status. I'll go in order of the standings as of today. In the interest of brevity (ha ha), I'll break it down to a division per post over the next couple days.
National League East

New York Mets - It's hard to give the all-time franchise seal to any of the "bad guys who won" from the '86-'88 teams because their stars, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Kevin Mitchell's, careers all kinda went awry due to drugs and ego. And Mike Piazza couldn't carry the team to World Series victory in 2001. The best Met ever has to be Tom Seaver. Actually nicknamed "the Franchise," Seaver is the Mets all time winner with 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA. In 1969, Seaver had 25 wins and the first of his three Cy Young Awards en route to leading the Mets to their first ever World Series win.

Philadelphia Phillies - The best team there could ever be, my Phillies have had a cadre of excellent, representative stars. From the greats like Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts to today's stars Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, et al. I believe that barring any ludicrous trades that Jimmy Rollins is in fact the all-time Phillies franchise player. If you only watched baseball in 1993 then my man Lenny "Nails" Dykstra of John "the Krukker" Kruk could easily fit the bill. But for now, it is clearly the Scmidter, twelve time All-Star, Michael Jack Schmidt. I grew up watching Schmidt club his way towards 548 home runs, and in 1980 he won the MVP (one of three he would win) and led our team, along with Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski, and Tug McGraw, to World Series victory. Schmidt was a pro, earning ten Gold Glove Awards and rarely showing emotion or compassion for Philly fans who simultaneously loved and hated him for it, but always realized we were watching possibly the best third baseman in baseball history do his job for us.

Florida Marlins - Another expansion team, like the Rays, it is difficult to pinpoint the Marlin's franchise player. Many great players had sub-par seasons with them, and their two World Series Championships were largely a patchwork quilt of rent-a-players not suitable for the franchise tag. Their 1997 World Series team consisted of great players who you can't even imagine in a Florida uniform, like Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield, and Darren Daulten. The 2003 squad had future Red Sox stars Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, Chicage Cub Derek Lee, L.A. Dodger Brad Penny, etc... These were really good teams but without commitment to maintaining the nucleus of players either time, the band broke up. Until last off-season, I would have bet it all that either third baseman Miguel Cabrera or side-arm fire-baller Dontrelle Willi$ would have soon fit into that all-time franchise label, but they are Tigers now, to varying degrees. Currently, the Marlins have some very good young talent that could rise to franchise status like All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla, and the great Hanley Ramirez at short stop, but if Florida repeats its history, this young talent will be traded for much older big names and a quick fix. If there is a Florida Marlin all-time franchise player, it would have to be Jeff Conine. He was an original Marlin, and on the 1997 and 2003 World Series teams. He is a two time All-Star with respectable mid-level numbers, but he is known by some as "Mr. Marlin" due to his quiet, intangible quality that helped Florida become World Champs two times over.

Atlanta Braves - Despite all the talent Atlanta has boasted over the years, offensively Eddie Matthews, David Justice, Terry Pendleton, Ron Gant, Chipper Jones, and pitching Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Steve Avery, Warren Spahn, this is an easy one. Despite having played half his career in Milwaukee until the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, Hammerin' Hank Aaron achieved his greatest fame and ultimate goal in Atlanta. He wrested the crown from Babe Ruth's head to become the new Home Run King in 1974 with a career total of 755, a title he achieved without performance enhancing drugs. Aaron was a twenty-one time All-Star and holds the record for career RBI's, extra base hits, total bases, and he is in the top five all time for each hits, runs, games played, and at bats. He won a World Series and league MVP with the eventual Atlanta team in Milwaukee in 1957. Each year the Hank Aaron Award is given to the most effective hitter in each league.

Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos - Well, not much has ever gone right for this franchise, no matter what country they play in. Since they moved to Washington, the best National has been Alfonsonso Soriano, who mainly used RFK Park as a place to learn to play left-field before going on to a good team in Chicago. Ryan Zimmerman is a vacuum at third base, but young and not consistently offensively impressive. You have you go back to Montreal and take a look. Greats like Pedro Martinez and Vlad Guererro got their start in Montreal, but the best team was in the late '70's with "Rock" Raines, Gary Carter, and the Montreal all time franchise player, Andre "the Hawk" Dawson. Dawson played the fourth most games as an Expo that anybody ever will, was the Rookie of the Year with them in 1977, and is the only expo ever to hit 200 home runs and steal 200 bases. A five point player, and eight time Gold Glove Award winner, the Hawk could do it all and finished second beind Mike Schmidt in the 1981 MVP voting. Dawson stands with only Willie Mays and Barry Bonds in the 400 home runs/300 stolen bases club.

No comments: