A Merry Little "Chris" Mess

Thursday, September 14 2006 @ 10:27 PM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

Now that we've finished up Hall of Names teams for each of the 10 most common boys' names in the United States (again, if you know of a free online Canadian equivalent, post a link here!), it's time to move on to #11 -- Christopher.

Compared to the other names we've looked at, there is a shocking dearth of players in MLB history with that designation; once you remove all the players with that middle name, along with the five men with the last/family name Christopher (as well as early '80s DET LHP Mike Chris), there are only just over 100 or so candidates to choose from. And just one Hall of Famer -- Christopher "Christy" Mathewson is a good one to have heading the rotation, though.

He's heading that rotation for a squad that bears an avian nickname like Toronto's hometown Blue Jays; the home ballpark is the Three Acre Wood, and it's time to meet ...

The Christopher Robins
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star

Starting Lineup
C Chris Cannizzaro* (.235 in 13 years; '69 All-Star)
1B Chris Chambliss* (.279, 185 homers in 17 years)
2B Chris Stynes (.275 in 10 years, all but C)
SS Chris Speier* 9.246, 112 homers in 19 years)
3B Chris Sabo* (.268, 116 homers, nine years)
OF Chris James (.261, 90 homers, 10 years)
OF Chris Singleton (.273, 45 HR, 81 SB, 6 years through 2005)
OF Christopher "Trot" Nixon (.279, 125 homers, 9 years through '05)
DH Chris Hoiles (.262, 151 homers, 10 years)

C Chris Widger (.242, 54 homers through 2005)
IF/UTIL Chris Gomez (.257 in 13 years through 2005)
IF/UTIL Chris Woodward (.252 in seven years through 2005)
OF Chris Gwynn (.261 in 10 years; 2,878 fewer hits than Tony)
OF Chris C. Jones (.252, 1991-2000)
OF Chris Denorfia (.217 so far in '06 with CIN; .235 career)

RHSP Christy Mathewson** (373-188; he was pretty good)
LHSP Chris Short* (135-132 in 13 years)
RHSP Chris Carpenter* (next win will be 100th career)
LHSP Chris Capuano* (11-10 so far as '06 All-Star; 37-34 career)
RHSP Chris Bosio (94-93 in 11 years)

RHRP Chris Reitsma (31 wins, 29 saves through 2005)
LHRP Chris Hammond (65-61 in 13 years through 2005)
RHRP Chris Codiroli (38-47 in eight years)
LHRP Chris Welsh (22-31, 1981-86)
LHRP Chris Peters (19-25, 1996-2001)

What, No Coco Chrisp? ... Toronto hometown hero Joseph Chris Carter is eliminated on two counts, as he not only has "Chris" as a middle name, but that IS his middle name -- no -topher involved ... Surprisingly, Chris Chambliss -- like Carter, perhaps best known for a post-season home run -- was only an All-Star once in his fine career, with the 1976 Yankees ... Chris Sabo was the 1988 NL Rookie of the Year; he and Chambliss start at the infield corners for the Robins ...

Mathewson is a player/manager for the Robins because he is apparently the only Christopher to ever take the reins of a post-19th-century MLB club, compiling a career mark of 164-176 in parts of the 1916-18 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds ... So Matty won a mere 209 fewer games managing than he did pitching ... Actually, only one other manager named Christopher even headed up a 19th century MLB dugout; Chris Von der Ahe was 3-14 in three brief stints with the 1895-97 Cardinals ...

Mathewson shouldn't have any trouble adapting to the player/manager role, as he actually was a player/manager in his first year with the Reds, so it's a role he knows. However, to be fair, his '16 player/manager designation is a bit of an exaggeration as he made only one appearance with the Reds, earning a complete game victory despite giving up eight earned runs in his final nine innings on a big league mound ...

We could start a nice "All-Christophers Who Were Brothers of All-Stars" squad with outfielder Chris Gwynn (Tony's little brother) and catcher Chris Bando (kid brother of Sal) ... Among the half dozen or so All-Stars who had the given middle name "Christopher" are some who could certainly help the Robins -- OF David Christopher Justice, shortstop Anthony Christopher Kubek and pitchers like Derek Christopher Lowe, Stephen Christopher Trachsel and Randall Christopher Wolf ... Legendary head case Chris Brown was another All-Star, and though he probably wouldn't unseat Sabo as the starting third sacker, he's not eligible anyway -- his birth certificate reads "John Christopher Brown" ... Hey, look! Another Hall of Famer! But not a player -- it's former commissioner Ford Christopher Frick ...

Stynes is the starter at 2B but could just as easily join Woodward and Gomez in a super-utility role on the bench ... Stynes is the only one of these three elastic utilitymen who never donned a Blue Jays uni ... Nixon's middle name is "Trotman," which is where his daily moniker comes from ... Cannizzaro made an All-Star appearance and Hoiles never did, though the latter had a clearly superior career, at least offensively. Plus, he's from my hometown ... Anyway, both crack the starting lineup, with Hoiles the DH ...

There are actually a fair number of quite decent catchers who could populate the roster, including the aforementioned Bando, who doesn't make the team, and Widger, who does ... Unlike the younger Bando, the younger Gwynn does make the team, honestly thanks at least in part to the lack of quality Christophers in the outfield ranks ... Bando, along with corner IF Chris Truby, was the final cut from the bench ...

Another surprisingly deep position is that of left-handed pitcher ... Of the 15 pitchers who made the short list for consideration for a roster spot, more than half -- eight -- were portsiders. To be fair, though, "consideration for a roster spot" doesn't equate to Cooperstown-worthy ... We're looking at you Christopher "C.J." Wilson (1-7), Chris Haney (38-52) and yes, you, Chris Michalak (8-11) ... The final pitcher cut from the rotation was a righty, current Padre Chris Young (10-5 so far in '06; 25-14 career) ... Reitsma as the closer? He's a useful pitcher, but Braves fans might warn manager Mathewson away from this plan ...

Just to be clear, there have also been four men named "Kris" to play in the big leagues, though only Anna Benson's husband has been noteworthy enough to, if eligible, even be considered for this team ... Then there have been the four guys named "Cris," including All-Star shorstop Cristian Guzman and Hall of Fame Negro league CF Cristobal Torriente ...