By LeRoy McConnell III
There are 16 National League Baseball teams across the country. Each team has at least one significant individual that is the consummate ball player, who represent everything the franchise is about. As we take a look at each team, which ball player shows to be the most influential player to have donned a uniform for that franchise? Some teams will have an obvious choice to represent their team. What about the teams that were successful in multiple eras? We can only choose one player for each team that deserves the title “Mr. Baseball”.
National League East
Mr. Atlanta Brave is Henry “Hank” Aaron
The Braves franchise could be considered the most underrated organization in the majors as they have produced some legendary ball players from multiple eras. Similar to the Yankees’ franchise, there are plenty of deserving individuals who could wear the title. Mr. Atlanta Brave is Henry “Hank” Aaron. It’s obvious that Hank Aaron is the most deserving; the way he played the game, the threats he faced when he approached Babe Ruth’s home run record, etc. He is known as a class act, though still a little underappreciated. Let the debate begin. It’s a given that Hank is the first choice but you couldn’t go wrong with the likes of Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Eddie Matthews, John Smoltz, and Warren Spahn. Hank Aaron’s numbers were .305BA/3600H/733HR/2202RBI/2107R/.377OPB/.567SLG/.944OPS in 21 years as an Atlanta Brave.
Mr. Philadelphia Philly is Michael Jack Schmidt
You know how special you must be to be loved in Philly? Mike Schmidt knows. He knows very well as he spent 18 seasons protecting the left side of the diamond. Schmidt was the greatest all-around third basemen in major league history. It helps being the MVP of the 1980 World Series. Mr. Philadelphia Philly is Michael Jack Schmidt. The 3-time MVP will forever have a place in the Phillies’ hearts. “The City of Brotherly Love” also loves Steve Carlton, Ryan Howard, Pete Rose, and Robin Roberts. Mike Schmidt’s numbers were .267BA/548HR/1595RBI/1506R/1507BB/527SLG/380OBS/908OPS in 18 seasons with the Phillies.
Mr. Washington National/Montreal Expo is Tim Raines
No one on the Washington Nationals is worthy of being on the list. However they do have potential stars in Stephen Strasburg and young phenom Bryce Harper. To be continued! Before there was a Washington National, it was all about the Montreal Expos, whose franchise was snakebitten because they couldn’t keep their players. First of all, this individual needs to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. This man started things off at the top of the order for many years. He was the National League version of Rickey Henderson. Mr. Expos/Nationals goes to Tim Raines. Other strong considerations were Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Andres Galarraga, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, and Larry Walker. Tim Raines’ numbers were .301BA/1622H/793BB/947R/635SB/.391OBP/.829OPS in 13 seasons as an Expo.
Mr. Miami Marlin is Luis Castillo
The name Luis Castillo is not an every day household name. Don’t blame me, blame the Marlins’ ownership, who are responsible for not keeping any of their superstars that came through their organization. I won’t fault them for it. They have won two World Series in their nineteen years of existence. Mr. Marlin goes to Luis Castillo, who won a World Series in 2003. Other considerations were Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Johnson, and Cliff Floyd. Luis Castillo’s numbers were .293BA/1273H/42TR/281SB/.370OBP/533BB in 10 seasons with the Miami Marlins.
Mr. New York Met is Tom Seaver
The Mets will never reach the standard of the mighty Yankees but they had some important moments and teams such as the ’69 Miracle Mets. Mr. New York Met is Tom Seaver. Seaver won the Cy Young Award the same year he helped the Mets win their first World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Other considerations go out to Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright. As a New York Met, Tom Seaver won 198G/2.57ERA/171CG/44SHO/2541SO/1.076WHIP in 12 seasons.
National League Central
Mr. Chicago Cub is Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks is the only Major League ball player with the nickname after the team name. He’s an ambassador for the Cubs organization and he is still a fan favorite. His attitude is genuine which makes Ernie Banks “Mr. Cub”. He continues to bolster an unworthy franchise. Other considerations were Andre Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa, and Billy Williams. Ernie Banks’ numbers were .274BA/2583H/512HR/1636RBI/1305R/.500SLG/.830OPS in 19 seasons.
Mr. Cincinnati Red is Pete Rose
Who in the world would you have picked? Does anybody remember watching Johnny Bench’s show, ”The Baseball Bunch”, that came on Saturday mornings before “This Week In Baseball”? How about Joe Morgan and his back-to-back NL MVP’s in ’75 and ’76? What about Frank Robinson, who was the first superstar Cincinnati ever had? All he did was earn the Rookie of the Year award and National League MVP. I chose “Charlie Hustle”, since he has been blackballed from baseball. I know Pete Rose wants to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame more than anything, but he’d do better staying out of it. His name is more popular than anyone in the hall. As long as he is not in, they will always be speaking of him. Despite the controversy, Mr. Cincinnati Red is Pete Rose. Other considerations were Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, and Tony Perez. Pete Rose’s numbers were .307BA/3358H/1210BB/1741R/115 3B/601 2B/.379OBP/.804OPS in 19 seasons.
Mr. Milwaukee Brewer is Robin Yount
This ball player was the ultimate team player, being able to excel at both centerfield and shortstop; while gaining two American League MVP awards. For twenty years he gave his body up to put up Hall Of Fame numbers and that is why Mr. Brewer goes to Robin Yount. Soon Ryan Braun will rival Yount as he has put up magnificent numbers since he came up in 2007. I also like Cecil Cooper, Prince Fielder, Paul Molitor, and Ben Oglive. Robin Yount’s numbers were .285BA/3142H/251HR/1406RBI/.430SLG.772OPS in 20 seasons.
Mr. Pittsburgh Pirate is Honus Wagner
Not to many ball players can rival the great Tyrus C0bb. Alex Rodriguez could have been the greatest shortstop of all-time had he continued at that position. The title will stay with Honus Wagner as he put up sizzling numbers in his time with the Bucs. He is the greatest pure hitter Pittsburgh has ever had. Mr. Pirate goes to Honus Wagner. I chose him over Roberto Clemente because Wagner is the one Pirate that fans forget about. The plane crash that involved the demise of Roberto Clemente heightens his popularity and for many, put Clemente’s popularity over Wagner. Other choices were Barry Bonds, Roberto Clemente, Ralph Kiner, Willie Stargell, and Paul Waner. Honus Wagner’s numbers were .328BA/2967H/639SB/232 3B/1475RBI/1521R/.394OBP/.468SLG/.862OPS in 18 seasons.
Mr. St. Louis Cardinal is Stan Musial
This star hasn’t played professional baseball since 1963, and til this day he is the most revered Cardinal in their organization. Mr. Cardinal is Stan Musial. Just like the Yankees, the Cardinal organization has royalty and a wealth of success both in players and World Series. With the departure of Albert Pujols, Musial’s individual records will continue to stand. Other strong considerations were Ken Boyer, Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, Rogers Hornsby, Albert Pujols, and Ozzie Smith. Stan Musial’s numbers were .331BA/3630H/475HR/1951RBI/1949R/.417OBP/.559SLG/.976OPS in 22 seasons, all with St. Louis.
Mr. Houston Astros is Craig Biggio
The last twenty years this ballplayer did all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. He was the ultimate team player by calling games behind the plate and also playing both second base and the outfield. If the team needed a key hit, a bunt, stolen base, or a defensive stop, he was your guy. Mr. Houston Astros is Craig Biggio. It is classic Biggio to get beamed by a pitch and hustle down to first base. Being struck by a pitch was a badge of honor and to his credit, he never charged the mound. Other strong considerations were Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Larry Dierker, Joe Morgan, Roy Oswalt, Nolan Ryan, and Mike Scott. Craig Biggio’s numbers were .281BA/3060H/291HR/1175RBI/1844R/414SB/.363OBP in 20 seasons with Houston.
National League West
Mr. Colorado Rockies is Todd Helton
When Colorado put this individual in the lineup, he showed dividends from the get-go. He was a back up player to Peyton Manning in college for the University of Tennessee Volunteers football program. This ball player wisened up quickly and took his talents to play Major League Baseball for the Colorado Rockies. Is there any other backup player in the history of sports able to pursue another sport and make over 100 million dollars? Mr. Colorado Rockies is Todd Helton. Other considerations were Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga, Matt Holliday, and Jeff Francis. Helton’s numbers as a Rockie so far .320BA/2420H/354HR/1345RBI/570 2B/1360R/.419OBP/.545SLG/.964OPS in 16 seasons with the Rockies.
Mr. Arizona Diamondback is Randy Johnson
The Diamondbacks are also an expansion franchise that has been around since 1998. It didn’t take much time for this organization to win a World Series ring as they upset the heavily favored Yankees in 2001. Randy Johnson was the first big chip the Diamondbacks added in 1999. He came in and turned the franchise around, bringing three consecutive Cy Young awards to the organization. With the help of Curt Schilling, they were co-MVP’s in the 2001 World Series. Other considerations were Luis Gonzalez, Curt Schilling, and Brandon Webb. Mr. Diamondback goes to Randy Johnson as he made an expansion team into a winner. Randy Johnson’s numbers were 118W/2.83ERA/38CG/14SHO/2077SO/1.068WHIP in 8 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mr. Los Angeles Dodger is Sandy Koufax
Though his career ended early because of elbow issues, can you name another pitcher to have more strikeouts than innings pitched? Sandy Koufax is Mr. L.A. Dodger. It is possible that he could be the best pitcher of all-time. Since 1966, there has never been a left-handed pitcher to win 27 ball games in a season. In a five-year span he won 3 Cy Young awards and he is second to Nolan Ryan in no-hitters with four. One of his no-hitters was a perfect game and that describes Koufax best, a perfectionist. Other considerations were Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda, Mike Piazza, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Fernando Valenzuela, and Maury Wells. Sandy Koufax’s numbers were 165W/2.87ERA/137CG/40SHO/2396SO/1.106WHIP in 12 seasons as a Dodger.
Mr. San Francisco Giant is Barry Bonds
Only in San Francisco can the great Barry Bonds walk around without the negative vibes. Like him or not he was the most watched baseball player of our time. Was he a train wreck? No, but each time the bright lights were focused on him and a milestone was on the line, he delivered. He had flair and cockiness. Mr. Giant was once Willie Mays, now it’s Barry Bonds. Other considerations were Will Clark, Carl Hubbell, Tim Lincecum, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, and Matt Williams. Barry Bonds’ numbers were .312BA/1951H/586HR/1440RBI/1555R/1974BB/263SB/.477OBP/.666SLG/1.143OPS in 15 seasons with the Giants.
Mr. San Diego Padre is Tony Gwynn
This man could have taken his talents to the NBA. Instead, he found himself as an every day player for the San Diego Padres’ franchise for over 20 years. Do you believe that this man only struck out 384 times in 9288 at-bats? He was the best pure hitter since Ted Williams, as he hit .394 in a shortened season due to the strike. Mr.San Diego Padre goes to Tony Gwynn. Other considerations were Adrian Gonzalez, Trevor Hoffman, Jake Peavy, Benito Santiago, and Dave Winfield. Tony Gwynn’s numbers were .338BA/3141H/5432B/1138RBI/1383R/.388OBP/.459SLG/ .847OPS in 20 seasons all with San Diego.
LeRoy McConnell III of “A Fan’s Point of View”, for War Room Sports