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March 8, 2000

Team of the Decade Infield

Your choices for the infielders of the 1990s

by Dave Pease and Greg Spira

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:

Catcher

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

First Base

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

Second Base

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

Shortstop

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

Third Base

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

Dave Pease is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Dave's other articles. You can contact Dave by clicking here

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