In the coming weeks, I will highlight my all-time favourite player from each team across both the American and National Leagues. These players will not necessarily be legends, say like Babe Ruth (as I never saw him live), but instead, these players will be the ones I liked the most and who caught my eye for various reasons – whether it be their commitment or knowledge of the game, or speed, power or defense on the field.
Today, we start with the American League East.
Baltimore Orioles – Cal Ripken Jr.
The “Iron Man” was and is a great ambassador for the game. I have always liked when players stay in one city their entire careers and Ripken did just that. He revolutionized the shortstop position, moving it away from slap-hitting, good fielding shortstops to power hitting, good fielding shortstops. Alex Rodriguez (when he played short) and Nomar Garciaparra are two examples of bigger shortstops that hit with power. Troy Tulowitzki would be the best example today.
Oh yeah, and playing 2,632 consecutive games is pretty admirable. With the daily grind, bumps and bruises, sprains and twists, not missing a game for 17 years is truly remarkable.
Boston Red Sox – Wade Boggs
I was a lot like Boggs growing up: played third base, hit left-handed, had some but not a lot of power. Perhaps that’s what I liked about Boggs, but more than that, he was so consistent year after year in the batting average department.
Boggs had seven years of 200 or more hits, 40 plus doubles, and 100 plus runs scored. He also retired with a career batting average of .328. He proved that you don’t have to have huge power numbers to be successful at a position that traditionally is considered a run producer.
New York Yankees – Derek Jeter
Jeter is my favourite player of all-time. His list of accomplishments would take up a whole page, but it is beyond the stats that make me a huge fan. He has great baseball I.Q. and his dealings with the media for almost 20 years in New York while being scandal-free is commendable.
Whether it is his cut-off throw against Oakland, diving into the stands against Boston, or coming up big in the playoffs, Jeter will help your club win ball games in a variety of ways.
Tampa Bay Rays – Evan Longoria
Here is another third baseman that I have always been a fan of. He hits for power, drives in runs, has a good batting average, and plays gold-glove defense at the hot corner. He signed a team-friendly extension to stay in Tampa, which shows he is grateful and loyal to the team that drafted him. I consider him one of the top third baseman in all of baseball.
Toronto Blue Jays – Roberto Alomar
In a previous blog (http://tyto416.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/my-favourite-all-time-blue-jay/), I stated Alomar was my favourite all-time Jay so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him on this list yet again.
Along with the reasons I previously mentioned, one thing I admire about Alomar is that he still makes frequent trips to Toronto, attends Jays games, and helps out in the community. He has not forgotten where his greatest team success was and it is always refreshing when a player does this.
So many great players contributed to the teams in the AL East making it difficult to pick just one favourite. As I am sure many of you will have different favourites, I’d like to hear who yours are and why.
From the couch