Now that the 2009 baseball season is about to draw to a close it is time to name the National League all decade team. Here are the ground rules I used for selecting my team. First the player must have been active for at least nine out of the ten years, so this excludes Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza. Second you must have spent the majority of your time in the National League. So we will go position by position including five starting pitchers and a closer. Away we go.
Catcher: There wasn’t much to choose from when it comes to catchers in the National League. The backstop that made my team has more stolen bases, 106, than home runs, 44. He hit over .300 three times in the decade and made an all star appearance in 2000. The winner is Jason Kendall.
First Base: There is a boatload of talent at this position including Derrek Lee and Todd Helton, but the choice was simple. In just nine seasons he has 366 home runs and has driven in over 1100 runs. He has won two MVP awards and is likely to pick up his third this year. His lowest season average is .314. He is also the face of his franchise, one that has a rich history. The winner is Albert Pujols.
Second Base: As much as I wanted to put Craig Biggio the stats were overwhelming for another player. This guy had 214 in the nine seasons he played in during the decade. He won the MVP award in the year 2000. He drove in over a hundred runs five times. He was often known for being a little prickly and his confrontation with then teammate Barry Bonds is infamous. The winner is Jeff Kent.
Third Base: This was another position with quite a bit of depth. Passed over for the slot were Aramis Ramirez and Scott Rolen. The player manning the hot corner for my team had 921 RBI for the decade while blasting 273 home runs. He batted .364 in the 2008 season and made three all star teams. He has been a rock for his team since 1995. The winner is Chipper Jones.
Shortstop: When I first started looking to fill this position I didn’t realize that this guy has been around since 2000. He has stolen 326 bases and also batted .274 for the decade while collecting an impressive 95 triples. He has a World Series ring and also won an MVP Award. The winner is Jimmy Rollins.
Left Field: I couldn’t ignore the guy that will be manning left field even though as a Yankees fan he broke my heart in 2001. He smacked 221 home runs in the nine years he played in the decade, with a yearly high of 57 in 2001. He made four all star appearances in the decade and was known as one of the nicest guys in the game of baseball. The winner is Luis Gonzalez.
Center Field: Another easy selection for my team as this guy made three all star games and hit 261 home runs in the nine years he played in the decade. The thing that sets him apart from all the other center fielders though is his defense. He won six Gold Glove awards and was a highlight waiting to happen. The winner is Jim Edmonds.
Right Field: The man who gets the job in right has been in the top five for the MVP award ten times in the decade. He hit 309 home runs and drove in over 1000 runs. He had a .300 average for the decade while playing four different positions for his team. He has spent his whole career with one team and even helped his team make their first World Series. The winner is Lance Berkman.
Starting Pitcher #1: In nine seasons this pitcher has collected 137 wins against just 70 losses. He had back to back 20 win seasons in 2004 and 2005. He nearly 1500 strikeouts and has finished in the top five for the Cy Young Award five times. The winner is Roy Oswalt.
Starting Pitcher #2: In the decade this hurler earned 133 victories. He lead the league in strikeouts four times during and had 2182 strikeouts overall. He won three of his four consecutive Cy Young Awards in the decade. He also tallied his 300th win in 2009. The winner is Randy Johnson.
Starting Pitcher #3: Even though this pitcher won all four of his Cy Young Awards in the 90’s he was still strong enough in this decade to win 135 games. He won eighth Gold Glove Awards in the nine seasons he pitched in the decade. He picked up his 300th win in 2004 and finished his career with an incredible 355 wins for eighth place on the all time list. The winner is Greg Maddux.
Starting Pitcher #4: Another pitcher who probably had his best decade in the 90’s but was good enough to make my team for this decade. He collected 118 wins over nine seasons. He appeared in four all star games and was the runner up to Randy Johnson for the 2000 Cy Young Award. He notched his 300 career win in 2007. The winner is Tom Glavine.
Starting Pitcher #5: Even though this guy had only 56 wins in the decade he still made my team. He made four all star teams and was in the top ten for the Cy Young three times. Add in 154 saves he had while he was in the bullpen for four years. The winner is John Smoltz.
Closer. Just like on my American League all decade team this one was a no brainer. 363 saves over the ten year period speaks volumes. He was a five time all star and was the runner up for the 2006 Cy Young Award. It also doesn’t hurt that he is the career leader in saves. The winner is Trevor Hoffman.
So there is my National League squad if you believe I made a mistake please leave a comment. Be sure to check out my American League all decade team as well.
All stats courtesy of www.baseball-reference.com