I said last week I had nothing particular to say about Stan Musial, but that's not quite true; I just wanted to wait a week out of respect. But now that I've done that, it's time to consider how his passing affects...the All-Time All-Alive Team and the All-Time All-Dead Team. Hey, I've done the All-Alives before, but I'll start from scratch this time; I didn't look back at the old post until I was done.
I'll start with the All-Dead Team. Talk about a hard OF to crack! We'll certainly carry five OFers on the 25-man roster, and I'd think that the selections have been easy: Williams starts in LF, Ruth of course in RF, and then pick 'em from Cobb, Mantle, and Speaker. Does Musial displace one of them? Yikes! That's a tough call. By the way, just as a shortcut, that group of six count for six of the top twenty all-time in baseball-reference's WAR list.
(Aside: B-R's WAR is fine, in my view, but because of how easy it is to access, it seems to be everyone's go-to all-in-one stat and is therefore quite a bit overused, from what I see. Although I don't see all that much these days, so I guess it depends, and I'm certainly very guilty of it myself).
Let's see...the All-Dead Team has Gehrig and Wagner for sure. Unless I'm forgetting someone, Eddie Mathews is the 3B. The roster construction is tough though. Both Hornsby and Eddie Collins have to be on the team, right? We can fight about who starts at 2B, but clearly they're both in the running. I'm going to want to consider taking Lajoie, and even Jackie Robinson. Truth is, I don't know which of those four guys is better. But how can we have a roster with four guys whose primary position is 2B? And none of them is really a great fit for back-up SS, although Hornsby did spend a full season there at one point. See, I like the idea of Robinson on the team since he's excellent for UT (pretty much everything but C, SS, and CF). You know what? Let's can Lajoie, keep Robinson, and instead have a more reasonable roster by adding George Davis..
I'm going to say that we go with mostly modern pitching staff usage, so 10 or 11 pitchers, meaning we have 14 or 15 roster spots. Without Musial, I count five OFers and seven IFers...that's leaving Ott and Foxx off (and Anson, Conner, and the rest of the 19th century; also, MLB only, since I have no idea how good the Negro Leaguers were, although surely it's likely that one or more could be here). Truth is, though, that Musial is a very nice fit for this team too -- if he's not the LF, he's the backup there, for Ruth, and for Gehrig. If he's #13, then we add Dickey and Cochrane and we're good.
Wait, hold on: I forgot about Gary Carter. I'd really have to think about that one. He's awful good. I'm going to leave him off for now, but I'm open to argument.
Looking back, I think Ott is probably the guy who's being bumped here. Ott for Robinson?
So that's my roster:
Gehrig, Hornsby, Collins, J. Robinson, Wagner, G. Davis, Mathews
T. Williams, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, Ruth, Musial
Now, for the All-Alives...
The starting OF is easy, especially with Musial gone: Bonds, Mays, Aaron. We want Frank Robinson, too, and for a real roster the 5th OFer has to be Rickey Henderson, no? There's no true backup CF unless we carry Griffey, but both Aaron and Henderson could fill in.
I'll skip to catchers, because we're taking three: Piazza, Bench, and Berra.
Now, the IF. Might as well start with 3B since it's the easiest. Schmidt. Alex Rodriguez at SS, no? Morgan, obviously.
Ah, now it gets tricky. In fact, Musial wasn't really in the OF; he was the All-Alive 1B. So instead, we have a whole bunch of guys: McCovey, Thomas, Bagwell...but really, I think it's already Pujols, and it isn't close.
So that leaves the infield bench. Again, roster construction is difficult. See, Ripken is probably the best guy out there. But Ozzie Smith does more for the team -- comes in for defense and pinch runs. And there's really no one for a real backup at 2B -- who, Rose? I don't want him. Molitor? Not really. Even worse, the best three guys off the team right now are probably all 3Bs: Brett, Boggs, Chipper Jones (OK, Yaz and Kaline might not agree, but they don't fit, either). And we need someone to back up at 1B...I think I'll take a LH hitter, because my bench leans righty. And because I want Stretch. And no real backup 2B; if I have to I guess it would be Rose, but I'd rather just let one of the SS play out of position.
Piazza, Bench, Berra
Pujols, McCovey, Morgan, A. Rodriguez, Ripken, O. Smith, Schmidt
Bonds, Henderson, Mays, Aaron, F. Robinson
Who am I missing? What are my bad choices?