With David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez (again) being implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs due to the leak of their “anonymous” tests in 2003, Chris and Adam looked at the all time clean lineup of the steroid era (mid 1980s-present).
Catcher - Mike Piazza (Adam and Chris Agree on this one)
Piazza, a former 62nd round draft pick that was taken partly as a favor to his father, is easily the best hitting catcher of this era. Piazza’s career should put him in the Hall of Fame in 2012 when he becomes eligible. With career numbers of 2127 hits, 1048 runs, 1335 RBIs, 427 home runs, and a .308 batting average, Piazza is in the class of the best catchers to ever play. Piazza also earned spots on 12 all star teams, 10 straight silver slugger awards, and was the Rookie of the Year in 1993. Piazza narrowly missed out on the MVP awards in 1996 and 1997, finishing 2nd both years. Baseball-reference.com’s top two similar batters for Piazza are Hall of Fame catchers Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.
Adam Picks: Frank Thomas
As good as Todd Helton has been for the Rockies (.328 average, 321 homers, and nearly 1200 runs and RBIs), Thomas has to be the pick at first. In a career that ended last season, Thomas hit .301 with 521 home runs, 1704 RBIs, 1494 runs, 2468 hits, and 1667 walks against 1397 strikeouts. Thomas’s career OPS of .974 is 15th all time. Even with Thomas’s number deteriorating with his health after he turned 33 in 2001, he is still one of the best hitters of this era. Shockingly, Thomas only made 5 all star games and won 4 silver sluggers in his career despite being all over the leader boards each season. Thomas also won the MVP award in 1993 and 1994.
Chris Picks: Albert Pujols
In only 9 seasons the Cardinal's First Baseman has put up 353 HRs, 1069 RBI's and scored 1029 runs. His career batting average is 333. I normally would not put someone this young on a list like this, but these numbers are pretty good. The real selling point for me is Pujols' stat sheet this season. In 109 games he has put up 92 RBI, 34 home runs and 82 runs. On top of the numbers I just like this guy. He is a good character player and St. Louis has a good face of their team in number 5.
Adam Picks: Roberto Alomar
Alomar won 10 gold gloves and 4 silver sluggers while making 12 all star teams and winning 2 World Series. In 17 seasons, Alomar hit .300 with 1508 runs, 2724 hits, 210 home runs, 474 steals, and 1134 RBIs as the most dominant second baseman in the game for over a decade. If not for a rapid deterioration in his health and ability at the age of 34 when Alomar was with the Mets, he easily would have achieved 3000+hits. Alomar was a rare combination of power, speed, and bat control at a middle infield position when middle infielders were generally defense first players. Not that Alomar was overmatched defensively; Alomar and Omar Vizquel formed the best and flashiest double play tandem with 21 gold gloves between the two of them.
Chris Picks: Ryne Sandberg
Ryne Sandberg was a great player, both offensively and defensively. In his career he was awarded 9 Gold Gloves in a row from 1983 to 1991. In 16 seasons, Sandberg compiled 1061 runs batted in, 1318 runs scored, 282 home runs and 384 stolen bases to go along with 2386 hits. There is no one that I would rather have at 2nd base then "The Ryno."
Adam Picks: Chipper Jones
Chipper narrowly beat out Wade Boggs on my list because of his power hitting advantage. In 16 seasons, Jones has hit .310 with 421 home runs, 1425 RBIs and 1432 runs. Somehow Chipper made only 6 all star teams and won just 2 silver sluggers, but he also won the 1999 MVP award. His .953 OPS ranks 22nd all time. Chipper has also shown tremendous plate discipline in his career with 1307 walks against 1191 strike outs. Throughout his career, Jones has been a fixture in the Braves lineup for the majority of their dynasty and continues to produce today at age 37.
Chris Picks: Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs is the obvious choice for me at Third Base. Those Red Sox years are some of the best that a Third Baseman has ever strung together. For his entire career Boggs was the type of guy who would get on base and score. His career batting average was .328, and he hit .368 in 1985 and .366 in 1988. He also scored 1513 runs, and batted in 1014 runs. Boggs is also a member of the 3000 hit club. For these reasons, Wade Boggs is my choice at 3B.
Adam Picks: Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken revolutionized the shortstop position to what it is today. The two-time MVP was able to combine power and fielding at a position that was historically known for light hitting and slick fielding. Although he only hit .276 for his career, Ripken hit 431 home runs with 3184 hits and topped 1600 runs and RBIs. In addition to his 2 MVP awards (nearly a decade apart- 1983 and 1991), Ripken was the Rookie of the Year in 1982, won 8 silver sluggers, 2 gold gloves, and made 19 straight all start teams. Ripken also broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak by playing in 2632 consecutive games.
Chris Picks: Barry Larkin
I admit that this is somewhat of a homer pick. I love Barry Larkin even though he went to Michigan. I am putting him on this list even though there are players out there who might have slightly better numbers. Larkin compiled 198 home runs, 2340 hits, 960 RBI, 369 stolen bases and hit a respectale .295 for his career. None of these numbers by themselves are that spectacular, but Larkin was an all-around player with no weakness. He also won 3 gold gloves and an NL MVP award and lead the Reds to a World Series.
Adam Picks: Albert Belle
Belle was one of the most feared power hitters of the 1990s, consistently breaking the top 5 in the league in home runs and RBIs. Belle essentially played only 10 seasons (he had only 259 at bats in his first two seasons) before a degenerative hip ended his career. In that decade, Belle hit 381 home runs while driving in 1239 and scoring 974. Belle batted .295 with a .564 slugging percentage (16th all time), and a .933 OPS (33rd all time). Belle made 5 all star teams and won 5 silver sluggers in this time. In only 10 seasons, his 381 home runs still place him 59th all time. From 1992 through 1999, Belle led the league in RBIs 3 times, finished in the top four 3 more times, and the top ten the other two seasons. He was the premier cleanup hitter of the 1990s. For his career, his numbers are extremely similar to recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Rice and short career Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.
Chris Picks: Ricky Henderson
The Man of Steal was recently inducted into the hall of fame and with good reason. Henderson put together a stellar career and will always be remembered for his base stealing and ridiculous interviews. Henderson stole 1406 bases to go along with 2295 runs, 3055 hits, and 1115 runs batted in. I don't go as far as Ricky to proclaim him as the greatest of all time, but I had no hesitation putting him as my LF on this list.
Center Field- Ken Griffey Jr. (Chris and Adam agree on this one)
If Griffey would have been able to stay healthy, he would have broken Hank Aaron’s home run record before Barry Bonds and the record would be legitimate. Griffey is a 4 time home run king that currently has 622 for his career, but he was more than just a power hitter. Griffey also is a .286 hitter with 1805 RBIs, 1643 runs, and 2740 hits while winning 10 gold gloves, 7 silver sluggers, an MVP in 1997, and making 13 all star teams. Griffey accomplished this while missing at least half a season 4 times because of injury. Despite the missed time, Griffey is still 5th all time in home runs, 13th in total bases, 18th in RBIs, 33rd in runs, 49th in hits, and 55th in OPS.
Adam Picks: Larry Walker
Injuries kept Walker’s career from being even more impressive than it was, but, when healthy, Walker was one of the most feared hitters in the games. Walker combined power, speed, and batting average like few players can on the way to 5 all star games, 7 gold gloves, 3 silver slugger awards, and an MVP in 1997. His .965 OPS ranks 18th all time. For his career, Walker topped 1300 runs and RBIs with 383 home runs, 230 steals, 2160 hits, and a .313 batting average. From 1997-2001, Walker hit over .350 4 times in 5 seasons with 156 home runs. Walker’s average was .357 for those seasons, but injuries limited him to 127 games per season, although he still averaged over 30 home runs and 100 runs per season with 97 RBIs.
Chris Picks: Dave Winfield
Dave Winfield is my choice for RF. He played 22 seasons that spanned from 1973 through 1995. Throughout his career, Winfield compiled 3110 hits, 1669 runs, and 465 home runs. He was the oldest man to ever hit for the cycle and was awarded with 7 Gold Gloves and 6 Silver Sluggers. Winfield represents a great career that was defined by his longevity and consistency. He won a Silver Slugger in 1992 at 41 years of age.
Utility: Craig Biggio (Chris and Adam agree on this one)
Biggio hit .281 in his career with 1844 runs, 3060 career hits, 291 home runs and 414 steals while making all star teams at catcher (1) and second base (6). Biggio 4 four gold gloves at second base and 5 silver sluggers (1 as a catcher, 4 at second) while also providing productive seasons for the Astros in the outfield. Of the top ten similar players according to baseball-reference.com, 7 are in the Hall of Fame, and Roberto Alomar should be in soon.
Right Handed Starter- Greg Maddux (Chris and Adam agree on this one)
Maddux won 355 games in his career on finesse and strategy when many around him were taking short cuts to try to overpower the opposition. Maddux finished his career with a 3.16 ERA, but that does not do justice to his dominance from 1992-1998 when he compiled a 2.15 ERA in the midst of inflated power hitters. Maddux won 127 games and 4 Cy Young awards during this stretch and also managed 19 shutouts. From 1988 through 2004, Maddux achieved a major league record 17 straight seasons of at least 15 wins. Maddux was able to be consistently dominant for over a decade enabling him to be the best right handed pitcher since Bob Gibson. Defensively, Maddux won a remarkable 18 gold glove awards. His 355 wins are 8th all time, his .610 winning percentage ranks 88th, 3371 strikeouts are 10th, and his 3.374 strikeouts to walks ratio is 19th.
Left Handed Starter
Adam Picks: Randy Johnson
Johnson reached 300 career wins this season (he is now at 303) and has topped off the most dominant career for a left handed pitcher since Steve Carlton. Johnson has won 5 Cy Young awards, including 4 straight from 1999 through 2002 with the Diamondbacks. The opposite of Maddux’s control, Johnson overpowered batters with his fastball and slider en route to 4869 strikeouts including 6 seasons of 300+ strike outs. Johnson also made 10 all star teams in his career despite missing parts of 3 seasons due to injury. Johnson’s 303 wins are 22nd all time, his .646 winning percentage is 30th, his 4869 strikeouts are second to Nolan Ryan and his 10.608 strikeouts/9 innings pitched is first all time. Also, his 189 hit batsmen (3rd all time) made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game; ask John Kruk.
Chris Picks: Carlton/Glavine/Johnson
I agree with Adam on the Randy Johnson pick, but I wanted to mention that Steve Carlton and Tom Glavine deserve honorable mention. Carlton played most of his career before the steroid era, so I can't really pick him. For me, this decision comes down to Glavine vs. Johnson. Lets compare the numbers. Wins - Glavine 305, Johnson 303. ERA - Glavine 3.54, Johnson 3.29. The real selling point for me and the reason I pick Johnson over Glavine is the strikeouts. Strikeouts - Glavine 5.3 SO per 9 innings, Johnson 10.6 SO per 9 innings.
Adam Picks: Mariano Rivera
It doesn’t matter what era we are examining, Rivera is the best and most dominant closer of all time. With 511 saves and a 2.28 ERA, Rivera has been at the top since he took over the closer position for the Yankees in 1997. Eight times in those 13 seasons (including 2009), Rivera’s ERA was below 2. Rivera has been so dominant and unhittable during his career, that when his ERA landed at 3.15, the only time since his rookie year in 1995 that it was greater than three, analysts were predicting that Rivera was done. When you consider Rivera’a 8 wins, 34 saves, and 0.77 ERA in 76 playoff games, his greatness is even more amazing.
Chris Picks: Trevor Hoffman
We are talking about closers so the one statistic that matters the most is career saves. Hoffman is the all time leader in saves with 577. That is 66 more than Rivera. Hoffman has been good for a long time, and he shows no signs of slowing down now. This season his ERA is a spectacular 1.74 while he has picked up 23 saves and only 1 loss. Hoffman's career ERA is 2.74.
That does it for our "All-Clean Team." Let us know what you think about our picks in the comments.