March 8, 2000
Team of the Decade Infield
Your choices for the infielders of the 1990s
Late in 1999, we asked our readers to give us their picks for baseball's Team of the 1990s. More than 1,000 people voted in the poll, held over three months, and the results have been tabulated. Over the next two weeks, we'll present to you the Baseball Prospectus Team of the 1990s. First, the infielders:
Not much of a surprise here, as the best-hitting catcher of all time holds off the defending AL MVP to win the catching spot on the squad. Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez were the only serious contenders for this spot, and Piazza's offense bested Rodriguez's glove and arm in the eyes of the voters. The rest of the field combined for 83 votes.
Player Name 1 Mike Piazza 875 Ivan Rodriguez 442 Javy Lopez 13 Sandy Alomar Jr. 11 Jason Kendall 11 Darren Daulton 6 Terry Steinbach 5 Todd Hundley 4 Joe Girardi 3 Benito Santiago 3 Mickey Tettleton 3 Brad Ausmus 2 Chris Hoiles 2 Charles Johnson 2 Mike Macfarlane 2 Matt Nokes 2 Don Slaught 2 Mike Stanley 2 Pat Borders 1 Brian Harper 1 Ron Karkovice 1 Jim Leyritz 1 Kirt Manwaring 1 Greg Myers 1 Tom Pagnozzi 1 Scott Servais 1 Dave Valle 1 Dan Wilson 1 TOTAL 1400
Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas had the lead early in the voting, but Mark McGwire came on strong at the finish to win the spot on the Team of the Decade. In the end, McGwire's moon shots and strong finish trumped the Astrodome heroics of Bagwell and the consistent greatness of Thomas. McGwire's health (1,221 games played in the 1990s, versus 1,317 for Bagwell and 1,371 for Thomas) wasn't enough to hold him back. Rafael Palmiero was the only other player to reach triple digits in the voting.
Player Name 1 Mark McGwire 414 Jeff Bagwell 333 Frank Thomas 296 Rafael Palmeiro 145 Mark Grace 51 Don Mattingly 24 Andres Galarraga 16 Fred McGriff 15 Eddie Murray 10 John Kruk 6 Tino Martinez 4 John Olerud 4 Will Clark 3 Cecil Fielder 3 Eric Karros 3 Mo Vaughn 3 Rico Brogna 2 Greg Colbrunn 2 Kent Hrbek 2 JT Snow 2 Todd Benzinger 1 Jason Giambi 1 Wally Joyner 1 Hal Morris 1 David Segui 1 TOTAL 1343
The two best second sackers of the decade were undoubtedly Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio, and Alomar emerged as the winner of this contest. Biggio spending two years of the decade behind the plate and not posting a slugging percentage north of .400 until 1993 might have had something to do with that. Alomar was a second baseman exclusively and reached the .400 SLG mark for good in 1991. Ryne Sandberg captured third place despite missing most of or all of four seasons during the decade.
Player Name 1 Roberto Alomar 654 Craig Biggio 412 Ryne Sandberg 66 Chuck Knoblauch 32 Jeff Kent 7 Bret Boone 6 Lou Whitaker 6 Carlos Baerga 5 Mickey Morandini 5 Harold Reynolds 4 Delino Deshields 2 Craig Grebeck 2 Luis Alicea 1 Ray Durham 1 Damion Easley 1 Scott Fletcher 1 Pat Kelly 1 Mark Lemke 1 Jose Lind 1 Juan Samuel 1 Steve Sax 1 Luis Sojo 1 Randy Velarde 1 Eric Young 1 TOTAL 1213
The Trinity got little support for this award, no doubt due to the fact that none of them made the majors to stay until 1996. The starting shortstop for our squad is Barry Larkin, who has been remarkably consistent in all facets of the game throughout the decade. Coming in second is ironman Cal Ripken, whose age-related decline and positional shift undoubtedly lost him votes.
Player Name 1 Barry Larkin 543 Cal Ripken 260 Alex Rodriguez 181 Derek Jeter 54 Omar Vizquel 53 Nomar Garciaparra 29 Ozzie Smith 27 Alex Gonzalez 6 Alan Trammell 4 Jay Bell 3 Ozzie Guillen 3 Tony Fernandez 2 Dickie Thon 2 Walt Weiss 2 Shawon Dunston 1 Kevin Elster 1 Alvaro Espinoza 1 Greg Gagne 1 Chris Gomez 1 Pat Listach 1 Dick Schofield 1 TOTAL 1176
1999 was especially sweet for resurgent third baseman Matt Williams, whose big year following two off ones pushed him towards the Third Baseman of the 1990s title. Williams's career fits the decade format well compared to his competition, as he had his first good year in the majors in 1990, while Chipper Jones was attending his high school prom. Third-place finisher Robin Ventura didn't have Williams's Ruthian home run binges, but his Mets did best the Bald One's Diamondbacks in last year's playoffs, a nice consolation prize.
Player Name 1 Matt Williams 402 Chipper Jones 186 Robin Ventura 168 Wade Boggs 89 Ken Caminiti 73 Jim Thome 44 Vinny Castilla 21 Gary Gaetti 8 Travis Fryman 7 Scott Rolen 7 Scott Brosius 6 Edgardo Alfonzo 3 Jeff Cirillo 3 Tim Wallach 3 Todd Zeile 3 Howard Johnson 2 Dean Palmer 2 Terry Pendleton 2 Doug Strange 2 Dave Hollins 1 Tim Naehring 1 TOTAL 1033