A-Rod or Ol' Pete? The Battle of the Alex(ander)s

Tuesday, June 24 2008 @ 09:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

Whether you like him or not, it's hard to argue that the very best baseball player active right now is playing third base for the New York Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez. Okay, you can argue it, but he's definitely Top-3.

And while "Alex" isn't one of the most common male first names in the Americas, the fact is that A-Rod is one of only five men in big league history with that first name to make an All-Star team (yes, another of those is currently roaming the TOR outfield); and in fact, though A-Rod will surely change the equation someday, not a single Alex has yet been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Wait, that's not quite accurate; as we build an All-Alex Hall of Names team here on Da Box, we need to differentiate ...

... to be clear, our team is populated by players who went by the first name (or as the case may be, nickname) Alex; any actual given first name, be it Alexander or Alexis or Gilderoy, will do just fine. This is a bit different from many past HoN teams, but as per usual, for our main squad below, we will completely ignore the 11 blokes who played at the major league level bearing the family name Alexander, although that does include the only current "Alex" Hall of Famer.

So let's not completely ignore them. In fact, let's start with them and see if we can construct some sort of lineup from those 11 -- given the smallish number, it seems unlikely, but as need requires, we can dip into the additional pool of 11 more who have played minor league ball since 1992, as listed on the greatness of BaseballReference.com. (Of the notable minor league Alexanders, there were several listed without defensive statistics and as such they could not be considered here.)

So all that said, let's step back and meet ...

** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star
Minor leaguers are listed in italics

MGR: NONE (maybe Ronald Reagan, who played Grover Cleveland Alexander in the moving pictures backwhen, can take a turn as team president, though)

C Walt Alexander (.188, 1912-17)
1B Dale Alexander (.331 BA in five years, 1929-33; '32 AL batting champ)
2B Matt Alexander (IF/OF, .214, 1973-81)
SS Nin Alexander (mostly C, some IF/OF; .130 with 1884 KC Cowboys, SLB)
3B Manny Alexander (OF/IF.231, 1992-2006)
OF Chad Alexander (.278, 82 homers, 1995-2004, HOU/SEA/CHC/DET systems)
OF Hugh Alexander (1-for-11, 1937 CLE at age 19)
OF Alexis Alexander (.225, 2001-03, KC system)
DH Gary Alexander (C/OF/1B; .230, 55 HR, 1975-81; 27 homers, '78 OAK/CLE)

(At least he's versatile!)
2B/UTIL Kevin Alexander (.268, 2000-03, SFG system)

Let's hope for a short series! ...
RHSP Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander**(373-208, 1911-30)
RHSP Doyle Alexander* (194-174 over 19 years)
LHSP Jordy Alexander (11-5, 1997-98 KC system)
RHRP Gerald Alexander (6-3, 5.79, 1990-92 TEX)
RHRP Bob Alexander (1-1, 10.64 ERA) in 9 games, 1955 BAL, '57 CLE)
RHRP Mark Alexander (14-6, 2004 through '07 in LAD system)

AND A FEW NOTES ... Dale Alexander had a remarkable 272 RBI in his first two big league seasons (137 as a 1929 rookie, 135 the next year), but collected just 182 more over the next three seasons and was out of baseball (due to some leg injuries that led to a battle with gangrene) by 1933, his age 30 season ... Manny Alexander did everything but catch while in the big leagues; he even pitched one game, getting the last two outs of a blowout loss, but didn't escape before walking four and giving up a home run, for a career ERA of 67.50 and a career ERA+ of a not-so-lucky single digit, 7 ... On the opposite end of the pitching spectrum, Ol' Pete Alexander -- that'd be Grover Cleveland, the Hall of Famer -- once posted six consecutive seasons, 1915-20) with an ERA of less than 2.00 ... There was a minor league Alexander whose given first name was Alexis? Yes, indeed, the sport's only double-Alex to date ...

We won't need minor-league filler for the first-named went-bys, but still the question remains, who has the greatest Alexander in MLB history, our surname short squad with Hall of Fame RHSP Grover Cleveland Alexander, or our more extended went-by roster, with a certain IF named Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez?

While nobody with the surname Alexander has ever managed in the big leagues, there have been three men with that middle name to do so, including the winningest of them all in Cornelius Alexander (McGillicudy) Mack. However, only one -- Alexander Peter Grammas -- not only had that given first name, but actually went by it. So he's the All-Alex (Allex?) leader.

Now, hop into the fast lane of this name ... it'll be like we all are driving ...

** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star

Manager: Alex Grammas (133-190, part of '69 PIT, 1976-77 MIL)
Player/Coach: Alex McKinnon (6-32, 1885 St. Louis Maroons)

C Alex Trevino (.249, 1978-90; mostly C, but played everywhere but SS and P)
1B Alex McKinnon (.296, 1884-87; BA rose every year; quit after .340 with 1887 PIT)
2B Alex Kampouris (.243, 1934-39, '41-43; .249/17/71 with 1937 CIN)
SS Alex Rodriguez* (.307, 532 homers and counting)
3B Alex Gordon (.247, 15 HR as 2007 KCR rookie)
LF Alex Metzler (.285, 1925-30, left game at age 27)
CF Alex Cole (.280, 148 SB, 1990-96)
RF Alex Rios* (.297/24/85 for 2007 TOR)
DH Alex Johnson* (.288, 1964-76; won '70 AL batting title)

C Alex Gaston (.218, parts of 1920-29)
IF Alex Gonzalez* (.248, 106 HR through 2007)
IF Alex S. Gonzalez (former Jay, .243, 137 HR, 1994-2006)
IF Alejandro "Alex" Arias (.265, 1992-2002)
OF Alex Sanchez (.296, 122 SB, 2001-05; 89 SB, 2002-03)
OF Alex Ochoa (.279, 46 homers, 1995-2002)

RHSP Alex Fernandez (107-97, 1990-2000)
LHSP Alex Kellner* (20-12 with '49 PHA; 101-112 career)
RHSP Miles "Alex" Main (21-22, 2.77, 1914-15, '18)
LHSP Alex Jones (7-15, parts of 1889-1903)
RHSP Alex Ferson (17-17, 1889 Washington Nationals; 18-25 career)

RHRP Alejandro "Alex" Carrasquel (50-39, 16 saves, 1939-45, '49)
RHP/UTIL Alex Voss (5-20, two teams, in only season, 1884; also played 1B, 3B, OF, SS)
RHS/RP James Alexander "Alex" Ferguson (61-85, 1918, '21-29)
LHRP Alex Hinshaw (1-0, 3.60 in first 16 games, 2008 SFG rookie)
RP Many other uninviting options ...

ALEXICON OF NOTES ... Amongst the many others who return on a search of BBRef for "Alex" who do not, by our rules, qualify for this roster, are Hall of Fame 2B John Alexander "Bid" McPhee and All-Stars in RHSP John Alexander "Andy" Messersmith and OF George Alexander Selkirk. Other recent names you might recognize are OFs Alexis Diaz (.239, 1992-99, five teams) and Alexis Gomez (.259, 2002-06 KCR, DET) as well as current MIN 2B Alexi Casilla. Then we have the father/son duo of 2B Alexander "Al" Campanis and C James Alexander "Jim" Campanis, neither of whom bear the necessary qualities to hold a position on this team ...

As for our front office, well, we'd love to include the legendary Alexander Cartwright, but he doesn't qualify by our own rules, as he didn't go by Alex ... can't have the guy who invented at least some of the initial rules be honored by breaking others! But we do have an alternative in Hall of Fame Negro League executive Alex Pompez, sho had lights installed for night baseball eight years before the majors followed suit ...

Among the final players cut from the bench, were our own manager, Grammas, whose .247 career average didn't earn him player/manager status and a slew of others you might have heard of, including active IFs Cintron and Cora, and 2008 Diamondback rookie OF Romero ... Another 2008 rookie, CHW 2B/OF Alexei Ramirez, doesn't qualify on the "doesn't go by" rule, but 2008 SFG rookie Hinshaw slides into the bullpen as a lefty reliever ...

A whole host of Alexes had the proverbial cuppajoe in the big leagues (consider for instance, SS Alex George who was 1-for-10 with the 1955 KCA at age 16) -- and each surely has a story of interest, but none of these short-timers make our roster ...

Who else should? Surely this team is not quite yet Alex can be?