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I was indulging in one of the great pleasures of spring training yesterday ... flipping through a brand-new copy of the greatness of Who's Who in Baseball? ... when a thought occurred to me. (And no, before anyone asks, it didn't die of loneliness.)

Note that this was after previously skimming another Joe Morgan chat wrap on in which the increasingly outspoken Morgan again essentially lamented that the guys he played against would have just dominated in today's game (" ... no doubt in my mind Stargell would hit 60 HRs in today's game").

So I started wondering ... are there any position players active today who are unquestionably the greatest ever in the history of the team they are currently with? All the player movement of the post-Messersmith era makes that last qualifier espeically important. I mean, if we take as a given that the greatest player in the game today is Barry Bonds, can we comfortably say that he's the greatest Giant ever? No, of course not; Willie Mays would have something to say about that.

Let's also take as a given that it would be, uh, premature to name a "Mr. Devil Ray" (Fred McGriff -- and he's not even with them any more) or a "Mr. Diamondback" (Luis Gonazalez? Probably Randy Johnson, actually, but let's stick to position players to expedite comparisons) ... and it's even a reach to think about a "Mr. Marlin" (Jeff Conine? Gary Sheffield?) or a "Mr. Rockie" (Larry Walker the clear choice, I'd think, but still, a reach) ...

There are 18 teams that the "Mr. [Team Name]" label clearly applies to one person who is not active (feel free to disagree with these, of course), listed here in no order other than random:
Braves (Hank Aaron)
Yankees (Babe Ruth)
Giants (Willie Mays)
Senators/Twins (Kirby Puckett or Harmon Killebrew)
Tigers (Ty Cobb or Al Kaline)
Phillies (Mike Schmidt)
Dodgers (lots of candidates, but none are active ... Duke Snider?)
Pirates (Roberto Clemente, apologies to Stargell)
Cardinals (Stan Musial)
Red Sox (Ted Williams)
Reds (Pete Rose)
Browns/Orioles (Cal Ripken Jr.)
Mariners (Ken Griffey Jr.)
Padres (Tony Gwynn)
Brewers (Robin Yount)
A's (Gonna go with Jimmy Foxx here ...)
Royals (George Brett)

There are two teams where I can't determine one solid non-pitcher candidate:
Mets (Seaver) ... Strawberry? Carter? Ed Kranepool?
Indians (Feller) ... Speaker? Boudreau? Sewell? Thome?

That leaves several teams where you can at least make the argument that the greatest-ever position player in the team's history is with the team right now (which blows a hole in Morgan's attitude, anyway) ...

Your defending champs ...
Angels ... Tim Salmon?
Your two Chicago teams ...
White Sox ... Frank Thomas?
Cubs ... Sammy Sosa over Ernie Banks? (Closer than you might think.)
Your two Texas teams ...
Rangers ... Rafael Palmeiro (who left and came back) over Pudge?
Astros ... Jeff Bagwell?
And your two Canadian teams ...
Blue Jays ... Carlos Delgado?
Expos ... Vladimir Guerrero?

As mentioned, you can make an argument for these players. (And knowing this crowd, you will.) Does this miss anyone? What does it say about the state of the game?

Interesting note about Texas: there are five players you can legitimately consider for the role of "Mr. Ranger," and those are Palmeiro, Pudge Rodriguez, Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez and Buddy Bell (it's a given that A-Rod will take the crown eventually, but not after two years). Four of the five had more than one tour of duty with the team, so perhaps the fifth -- Pudge -- will be back behind the plate in Arlington come Opening Day 2004.
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Dave Till - Wednesday, March 19 2003 @ 06:26 PM EST (#33650) #
When Alomar goes into the HOF (which I suspect he will), will he be wearing a Jays' cap? He wasn't happy with Toronto when he left here. (Mind you, he also left Baltimore and Cleveland the same way, so Toronto might be the cap of choice by default due to the WS wins.)

If you count players who played in a Jays uniform and are now in the Hall of Fame, Winfield and Niekro already qualify.
_Sean - Wednesday, March 19 2003 @ 07:01 PM EST (#33651) #
I remember reading a comment by Alomar that he considered his time in Toronto as the most productive and representative of the best period of his career--not because he necessarily put up his best seasons there, but because his team won the World Series twice. So I'd speculate that he personally would say that he should be wearing a Toronto cap if he goes in the Hall.
_jason - Wednesday, March 19 2003 @ 07:55 PM EST (#33652) #
You'll remember from the Gary Carter situation this year that the HOF actually decides which cap the player will wear upon entry. I would imagine that they would select a Blue Jays cap for him.
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