I wasn't lucky enough to see Ruth, Robinson or Hank play baseball with my own two eyes. But these eyes have been soaking in every inning of baseball they can since 1985. I got to thinking about what the lineup would look like of the best ball players I'VE PERSONALLY ever seen play. After much thought... I think this is how it rolls out:
1B - Albert Pujols (runner up Mark McGwire)
Pujols simply RAKES. Average, power, and he's slick with the glove. Other first basemen can be described that way too... but when you see Pujols swing, it's another level of sheer power and beauty.
2B - Roberto Alomar (runner up Ryne Sandberg)
All you had to do was see him play to know why. He left your jaw on the ground. He also had a way of TAKING a baseball game over and GRABBING wins using every facet of the game. Likely the best there has ever been at 2B.
SS - Cal Ripken (runner up Alex Rodriquez)
Shortstops can be volatile and burn out quickly. Cal was the opposite. He did the same thing every day. Hit hit hit. He'd go into the hole, stop and plant, and DRILL balls on a line to get runners. What a ballplayer should be.
3B - George Brett (runner up Wade Boggs)
This was tough. Boggs, Schmidt and Brett are all very similar. But George Brett was my favorite because he was a real down and dirty ballplayer. Covered in pine tar, he'd lead like a general with that bat.
C - Ivan Rodriquez
I can't bring myself to name a runner up in this category because I've never watched someone even close to as good as Pudge. Vicious bat... but it went hand in hand with his violent arm. He'd throw out runners like they were trying to steal from his Mama.
OF - Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr. (runners up Kirby Puckett, Vlad Guerrero, Tony Gwynn, Ichiro Suzuki)
I don't care that Bonds took enough steroids to inflate his head to double size... he was the best ballplayer around for many years. In fact he would have been a Hall of Famer even if he didn't become a 73 HR in a year guy. BUT HE STILL DID HIT 762 Home Runs! Henderson changed every game he played in. No one was comfortable around him. It was a lot better cheering for him in '93 than against him for those other years. And Ken Griffey may be the most pleasant ball player to watch I've ever seen. He smiled, he dove for balls, he hit home runs (MANY OF THEM) and enjoyed every moment of it.
SP - Nolan Ryan (Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay)
If I needed ONE game won, I'd want Nolan Ryan on the mound. He'd get that deep Texan scowl on and throw GAS. His 7 No-Hitters are proof that there were times where (like the greats in other sports) he decided that NO ONE would get past him that day.
RP - Dennis Eckersley (Mariano Rivera)
The overall numbers favor Rivera and I disliked the 90's A's as much as the 'Whenever Yankees'... but I'll take "The Eck". The guy was a starter for most of his career but found a zone as a closer that gave opposing batters a look of defeatist-dread. Coming from the side with his hairy snarl, made him everything a closer should be.
What's your list?