By Simon Stracher
Taking an idea from the awesome ESPN columnist Bill Simmons (my personal favorite columnist), I have decided to write about the All-Time Baseball team (he did All-Time Basketball team, but whatever). However, this isn't just any All-Time team. This is a team that we would assemble if Martians came to our planet and said, "We will kill you all unless you take your best baseball players and beat us in a seven game series" and if we had a time machine and we could take any players from any year. I will be making a 25-man roster, and will not be including any players from 1925 or earlier (just a really weird era). I will also be deciding the manager and the stadium that the game will be played in. So without further ado, lets get this started. (Also, players who took steroids will not have any penalty against them.)
1. 1999 Pedro Martinez
1999 Pedro is easily be the number one starter, as he had a 1.37 FIP in '99 when the League average was 4.71 and a 2.07 ERA. He also had a 12.1 WAR, a 13.2 K/9 (not to mention 313 strikeouts) and a 8.46 K/BB rate, which is just absurd. He is also the owner of a 219-100 Win/Loss record in his career, and has a career 2.93 ERA. 1999 Pedro's dominance is further chronicled in Dave Cameron's article 1999 Pedro
2. 1995 Randy Johnson
This was one of my toughest decisions. I almost couldn't decide between 2001 Randy Johnson and 1995 Randy Johnson. But in end I went with 1995 Randy Johnson because he was younger, he had a better FIP (by .01), and he had a better ERA (by .01). This could go either way, but I went with the 1995 of Randy Johnson. If your wondering why I picked Randy Johnson at all, it is because he has over 4,000 career strikeouts, over 300 wins, 5 Cy Young Awards, a career 3.19 FIP, and a career 10.61 K/9 (highest of all-time). If you need any more proof of Johnson's dominance, check out this video.
3. 1990 Roger Clemens
In 1990 the "Rocket" had a 1.93 ERA, a 2.18 FIP, a 8.7 WAR, and he finished third in the AL MVP race. Also, Clemens finished with the most WAR for a pitcher ever, and had the most Cy Youngs ever. He was robbed of a Cy Young, but thats a different story. This was also before he reportedly started taking steroids, so this team is clean (for now).
4. 1965 Sandy Koufax
Often considered the greatest lefthander of all-time (evidenced by his nickname "The Left Arm of God") Koufax routinely put up yearly win totals in the mid-20s and ERAs in the low 2s. 1965, however, was his greatest year. He compiled a 2.04 ERA, a 1.93 FIP, a 10.24 K/9, 335.2 IP, a 1.9 BB/9, and 27 CG. Koufax is not higher because I have a feeling it would be difficult for him to adjust to the greater offensive performance in todays game. However, Koufax was simply a man among boys in 1965, and that is why he deserves to be on this list.
5. 1968 Bob Gibson
In this series we would most likely not be using a 5th starter in a 7-game series, but I just included Gibson because of his historically good season (1.12 ERA, best all-time). There are several reasons why Gibson is not ranked higher.
1. He played in a great environment for pitchers
In 1968, pitchers were so good that the following year the mound had to be lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the most feared hitters of his generations, won the AL batting title with a .301 average. Most of his statistics would be much worse if he played in a post 1968 season.
2. He "only" had a FIP of 1.77
Adjusted for 2010, his ERA would look more like Zach Greinke's (2.16) in 2009, amazing, but not up to the standards of the All-Time Team.
3. He had a K/9 of 7.92
A K/9 like this is very good, but compared to the K/9's of the other members of this illustrious group, it seems paltry. Adjusted for 2010, it would become even worse and may have dipped into the high 5s.
These three reasons are why Bob Gibson is the team's number five starter or "emergency" starter. This is no knock against Gibson. He is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time and this season is top-five all time.
It's time to move towards the relievers in the pitching rotation. My bullpen will consist of five relievers, all who were dominant pitchers in their prime and great pitchers over the course of their careers.
LRP 1986 Mark Eichhorn
Quite honestly I had no idea who this guy was before I started looking up great relief pitchers, but the numbers speak for themselves. In 157 IP, Eichhorn had a 1.72 ERA, a 9.52 K/9, and a 5.3 WAR, the highest WAR for a pitcher ever.
MRP 2004 Francisco Rodriguez
K-Rod had a 13.18 K/9, a 1.84 ERA, a 1.64 FIP, and a 4 WAR, which is absolutely insane for someone who only pitched 84 innings. Even though he is the punchline of many jokes today, 2004 K-Rod was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball.
MRP 1999 Billy Wagner
Recently retired, many people don't give Wagner the credit he deserves. His longevity and ability to come back from major arm surgeries is astounding, and so is the consistency that he has displayed throughout these years. He is a worthy Hall of Fame Candidate, and is one of the best closers in the history of the game. But Wagner's best season came in '99 when he posted a 1.57 ERA and a 1.65 FIP, not to mention his 14.95 K/9 or how opposing hitters batted .134 against him. You could make a case that he belongs to be the closer of this team, but just wait until you see the final two players on this list...
SU 2003 Eric Gagne
Give credit to Gagne on this one. Before I started this post, I though for sure with no doubt in my mind that Mariano Rivera would be the closer for the All-Time Team. But thanks to Gagne, this became the toughest decision that I had to make. Gagne posted a 1.20 ERA and a .86 FIP. He had a 14.98 K/9 and a 45.4% GB%. Unfortunately, Gagne suffered through a series of injuries and pitched a total of 15.1 innings in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Also, according to the Mitchell Report (allegedly) most of Gagne's performances were fueled by PED, and he has not pitched in the majors since his 2008 stinkbomb (6.13 FIP) with the Brewers. However, Gagne's immortal 2003 season will live on forever, especially on the All-Time Team.
CP 2008 Mariano Rivera
Who else would you expect? Rivera is undoubtedly the greatest closer of All-Time, and 2008 was his greatest (closing) year. I say closing year because 1996 was actually his greatest year, but that year he was the Setup Man for the Yankees. In 2008 he had 39 saves and 1 blown save. He also had a 9.81 K/9, a .76 BB/9, an ERA of 1.40, and a FIP of 2.03. Rivera is also the greatest clutch closer of All-Time, and he has delivered the Yankees to 5 World Series titles. If I was facing the Martians with bases loaded, two outs, and in the bottom of the 9th inning, I know who I would want up there pitching: Mariano Rivera.
So there you have it, that is Baseball's All-Time Team: Pitching Edition