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Sunday, March 8, 2009

BEST: 1st Base

For anyone who didn't read the comments on the Best: Catcher post, readers wanted Bench higher on the list. I can concede that, but I am a Mets fan and Piazza deserves top three consideration. Now, on to first base:

First base has become a pure power position. Keith Hernandez was a Met, a TV star, and an 11-time Gold-Glover but he is not on my list.

#3 Frank Thomas - 521 HR, 156 OPS+, 9 Top 10 MVP finishes plus 2 MVP winsI expect to get some argument about this one. I was surprised myself at this choice. The Big Hurt was a a great hitter, for average AND for power. He is one of only four players with at least a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks and he is one of the few stars of baseball who has been vocal about ridding the game of steroids.

#2 Jimmy Foxx - .325 Avg, .609 Slg, 163 OPS+, 3 MVPs, 2 World Series winsLefty Grove said Foxx "had muscles in his hair." A League of Their Own character Jimmy Dugan was based on his time managing the Fort Wayne Daisies.

#1 Lou Gehrig - .340 Avg (WOW), .632 Slg (WOW), 179 OPS+ (WOW), 8 Top Fives in MVP in 11 years (WOW), 6 World Series winsA disease named after him, the "luckiest man" speech, being the Iron Horse before Ripken was more ironier (that's a word). I hate that the Yankees top the first two lists but what can you do?

Others considered: Greenberg, he hammered before Aaron. Musial, played more games in the OF. Bagwell, he's an interesting HOF case.

Current players who may make the list: PUJOLS!!! He is close to the list already. 8 years, 8 top-10's in MVP voting, 7 top-5's. He is the best in th egame today. And he plays great defense.Are you a Mattingly fanatic? Do you think Dan Brouthers deserves more credit for his play in the 18th century? As a Mets fan, should I rate Bill Buckner higher? Let me know what you think.


Steve Gierman said...

You'll get no argument from me about Frank Thomas being in the top three! He deserves it!

MMayes said...

I cannot disagree with either Gehrig or Foxx. My first thought was, "Out of all the first basemen that have played and went to the HOF, Frank Thomas?"

Stan Musial would probably rank above Thomas on my list, but, as you point out, he was primarily an outfielder. Pujols hasn't played long enough yet. The other great HOF first basemen that I thought of were Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew and Bill Terry, but McCovey and Killer didn't have the batting average and Terry didn't have the sustained power.

That leaves Hank Greenberg to fight against Thomas for the #3 slot and I think it's Thomas right now. Greenberg didn't have the batting average, but had better power. However, World War II took away some vital years that Thomas had. It's hard to knock someone down for serving his country, but we don't know what Hank would have done. I've read the book about his life and I really admire him, but he's a slot below Frank Thomas.

However, 2-3 more years of production at his current rate and Albert Pujols makes this discussion moot as he'll move into the #3 slot and threaten Foxx. I don't think he'll ever move Gehrig aside.

Steve Gierman said...

Agreed about Pujols, if he keeps the same pace up.

Bay Rat North West said...

For once I have no argument against a Mets fan's reasoning.
Well played Statsy. Well played.