Every generation is blessed with MLB superstars whose names are instantly recognizable even if you’ve ever seen them play. As 2020 represents the start of a new decade, we can project that players like Javier Báez, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Juan Soto have a high probability of being selections to the next all-decade team.
This week, I’ve decided to choose which players would make my rosters for each of the 10-year benchmarks. I’ll start with the 1960’s today and end with the best players from 2010-19 on Friday. It’s not as easy as it seems because so many good players will be left off. But it’s a great topic to discuss and debate.
Here are my choices for an all 1960’s team, including why I chose each player :
- Catcher – Elston Howard, Yankees: The backstop was a fixture at catcher for the Yankees in the early ’60s and was one of the most under-appreciated members of those powerhouse squads. Howard hit a combined .284 from 1960 to 1966, batting .348 in 1961.
- First Base – Harmon Killebrew, Twins: The Killer averaged a home run every 14 at-bats, driving in 100 runs or more nine times during his career.
- Second Base – Bill Mazeroski, Pirates: Winner of eight Gold Gloves, Mazeroski holds more defensive records than any other player in major league history. He had a little pop, too, and if you’ve never seen what he did to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, you should.
- Third Base – Ron Santo, Cubs: A tough choice over Brooks Robinson, Santo may have been the most underrated player in the history of the game. From 1964-69, Santo averaged 24 home runs and 104 RBI per season while hitting .297 and leading the league in walks four times. Santo was also the best defensive third baseman in the National League, winning five consecutive Gold Gloves from 1964-68.
- Shortstop – Ernie Banks, Cubs: Mr.Cub redefined the offensive standards for shortstops. Despite playing for mostly sub-.500 teams, Banks averaged 27 home runs and 95 RBI per season. He’d probably make the all-1950’s team too, winning back-to-back MVPs in 1958 and ’59.
- Outfield – Willie Mays, Giants: From 1961-65, Mays belted 226 home runs, more than a third of his career total (660). His most productive season was 1965, when he led the majors in home runs (52), total bases (360), slugging average (.645) and on-base percentage (.399).
- Outfield: Hank Aaron, Braves – From 1960-69, Hammerin’ Hank led the major leagues twice in runs scored and three times in RBI. He hit over .300 in eight different seasons during the decade, and scored at least 100 runs in 9 out of the 10 years. He also blasted 365 taters in the ’60s.
- Outfield – Mickey Mantle, Yankees – The Mick played through a lot of injuries, which likely robbed him of any chance of surpassing Babe Ruth’s club record (and MLB record at the time) 714 home runs. Still, Mantle belted 256 home runs from 1960 until his retirement after the ’68 season and was an All-Star in every full season of his career starting in 1952.
- Starting Pitcher – Bob Gibson, Cardinals: Gibson had 2,071 strikeouts during the decade, more than any other pitcher, and his dominating performance in 1968 (22-9, 1.12 ERA, 258 ERA+) forced baseball to lower the pitcher’s mound.
- Starting Pitcher – Don Drysdale, Dodgers: Big D averaged 15 wins per season and punched out 1,910 batters from 1960 until he retired after a season-ending injury in August of ’69.
- Starting Pitcher – Juan Marichal, Giants: Despite having more victories (191) than any other hurler in the decade, including 1,840 strikeouts, and a career ERA of 2.89, Marichal never won a Cy Young Award, nor did he ever finish in the top 10.
- Starting Pitcher – Sandy Koufax, Dodgers: The left-hander averaged 9.51 strikeouts per nine innings pitched during the decade, the highest average among all major league starting pitchers.
- Starting Pitcher – Sam McDowell, Indians: Sudden Sam led the American League in strikeouts four times and topped 300 strikeouts in a season twice.
- Closer: Hoyt Wilhelm, New York Giants/Baltimore Orioles: The knuckleballer practically invented the role of the closer, winning 75 games in the ’60s while saving another 152 with an ERA of 2.19.
- Manager – Walter Alston, Dodgers: His Dodgers won three National League pennants and two World Series during the 1960s, winning consistently with pitching and defense.
Cubs News & Notes
- Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman interviewed Leading Hitting Lab Tech and minor league coach Rachel Folden.
- Ryan Davis is simulating the 2020 season for CI, with this past weekend featuring a Saturday blowout as the Cubs beat the Brewers 12-4 thanks to a monster day at the plate by David Bote. Milwaukee shut Chicago out 3-0 on Sunday, dropping the Cubs to 1-2 on the season.
- Strat-O-Matic is also simulating the 2020 season, and yesterday Kyle Hendricks threw seven scoreless innings with six K’s while Kris Bryant was 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI in a 10-0 Cubs blowout. With a 7-3 win on Saturday, the Cubs sit at 2-1 and tied for first place with the Cardinals and Pirates.
- Jason Kipnis and Brandon Morrow are among eight Cubs players who should benefit from a shortened season.
- The cutter Yu Darvish throws, one of 10 or so pitches in his full arsenal, is among baseball’s nastiest pitches.
- The legend of El Mago continues to grow.
- Anthony Rizzo joined ABC News to discuss his efforts in supporting nurses and patients during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Two Cubs employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
- Here is an early snapshot of what baseball’s agreement on a shortened 2020 season could mean for the Cubs (subscription to The Athletic required).
- On this day in baseball history, the White Sox traded Sammy Sosa and relief pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for George Bell.
Odds & Sods
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) March 30, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Here’s everything we’ll miss, and not miss, about the 2020 baseball season.
And here’s what baseball might look like once it returns.
If the Dodgers never moved to Los Angeles in 1958, baseball might look vastly different today.
God bless those who find a way.
A breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care has been created in under a week.
UCL engineers worked with UCLH & Mercedes F1 to build the device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.https://t.co/LTNRokoVJS
— Justin Waite (@SharePickers) March 30, 2020
They Said It
- “I would say it’s no different than coaching Joe Baseball Hitter No. 1 and Joe Baseball Hitter No. 2. Swings are swings. I read a really good tweet this morning from Jacob Cruz, I believe he’s with the Brewers organization now, and he said that a hitter’s swing is like a fingerprint. It’s individual to them and so we shouldn’t try to put them in boxes, and I think that is applicable to the question. Just because they’re a baseball player or a softball player, we still have to find a swing that works for them.” – Rachel Folden
Monday Walk Up Song
Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones
What went wrong? It’s quite possibly the most misogynist pop song ever written.
How does it play today? Jagger talks down to a woman, flirting with physical abuse, and indicating she should only speak once first spoken to in the lyric “Under my thumb, the squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day / Under my thumb, a girl who has just changed her ways.” It’s embarrassing.