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All organizations have periods when it seems their top performers all fade away or retire at the same time. The Tigers of the early 1970's, the Reds of the early 1980's, the Diamondbacks of 2005.

This year, it seems to be [Interjection: yes, I know my recent separation from might seem impetus for this comment, but I was kicking around a version of this idea in e-mail more than a month ago ... ask any of the Lineup.]

While we are forced to endure the (admittedly entertaining) work of Peter Gammons, Fiction Writer; of Jayson Stark, Stand-up Comedian; of Tim Kurkjian, Boy Math Genius; and of Rob Neyer, still gifted but struggling through an extended slump of can-he-come-back-from-Mexico-like-Ruben-Sierra proportions, we are at least still delighted by the consistent excellence of Jim Caple. A single star on an aging, underperforming team, sort of the Willie Horton of those Tiger teams. The supporting role played by John Sickels, good at what he does but one-dimensional, makes him more of an Aurelio Rodriguez or Eddie Brinkman.

And now, perhaps a rising star. Have you read today's article by Alan Schwarz? Entitled "The best of the best ... by position," it's not Pulitzer material, it's not earth- shattering, it's not backed with inordinant statistical insight, it's not even terribly original.

It's like all of Schwarz's work for The Worldwide Leader. It's just good.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_bob mong - Thursday, March 20 2003 @ 11:11 PM EST (#33653) #
I liked that article also though, without doing any research of my own either, some of his choices seemed a little goofy.

Plus, current 3B aren't as weak as he says. As recently as 2000, Jeff Cirillo was a pretty darn good 3B (to my deep sadness, that is no longer the case), and Corey Koskie is good right now. With Rolen, Glaus, and Chavez, that is a pretty good crop from 1998-2002. Maybe not Schmidt-/Brett- like, but good.
_benum - Friday, March 21 2003 @ 01:30 AM EST (#33654) #
If St. Louis played Pujols at 3B like they should (but won't evidently) he could combine with Rolen, Glaus, Chavez, Hinske, Alfonzo, Koskie plus the potential of Blalock, Teixeira, Burroughs.
(not to mention rebounds by A. Ramirez and A. Beltre)

The potential for 2003/4 as a bumper crop of 3B is there...
_Spicol - Friday, March 21 2003 @ 01:36 AM EST (#33655) #
Neyer's writing is nothing short of passive-aggressive lately. I mean, make a clear point and stick to it, man!
Coach - Friday, March 21 2003 @ 08:54 AM EST (#33656) #
A good read, and while rankings like these can never be definitive, I particularly like Alan's decision to ignore the pre-1947 era: I had a hard time saying the '20s was the golden age of second basemen when Lou Whitaker and Frank White wouldn't have been allowed to step on the field.

Agreed that we have plenty of very good 3B today, and "awfully lacking" was a poor choice of words, but there's nobody in the current crop even close to Brett or Schmidt. There's a guy in Texas and another in Boston who could have been HoF-ers at the hot corner, but they play SS.

I must be in the minority on Jayson Stark; some of his Rumblings & Grumblings make me laugh and every time I wade through Useless Information, I learn something. That's probably because I don't know much to begin with.

The "old" Neyer was better, and even this recent rebuttal to those who have criticized him hints of lobbying for a front office job. Most of us would be tempted to do the same in his position -- I know my "journalistic integrity" is for sale, cheap.
Dave Till - Friday, March 21 2003 @ 12:31 PM EST (#33657) #
In any discussion of "best of" lists, I think we have to bias strongly towards modern players.

I remember reading that Jim Fregosi, a pretty fair shortstop in his day, absolutely loved watching Alex Gonzalez play. Fregosi, who was an All-Star, claimed that Gonzo was better than he was. (And this is Alex Gonzalez we're referring to here. Had Fregosi seen Alex Rodriguez up close, he probably would have hyperventilated.)

One thing I've noticed in my twenty-plus years of baseball-watching as an adult is that the players are all much more athletic-looking than they were back in the 1980's. Players like Rance Mulliniks (one of my favourite Jays of all time) looked like ordinary guys; compare Mulliniks to somebody like, say, Chris Woodward, who clearly has put in a lot of time in the weight room.

Some things, of course, don't change: a player such as Stan Musial would still be great today, as hand-eye coordination and reflexes haven't changed much over the years. But one reason why Barry Bonds has been so historically successful is because he's basically sculpted himself into a baseball hitting machine - the guy looks like a cyborg out there (thanks partly to the body armor he wears at the plate). McGwire also looked larger and stronger than life (and the andro didn't have much to do with that - the andro just kept him healthy).

I hope Bonds continues to stay healthy for many years - I enjoyed watching him hit in the post-season. I've never seen a hitter that has so completely mastered his craft.
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