- Dick Allen
- Joe Torre
- Maury Wills
- Jim Kaat
- Luis Tiant
- Gil Hodges
- Ron Santo
- Tony Oliva
- Al Oliver
- Vada Pinson
You can prepare yourself now for the Santo debate, which is sure to be a hot one. Was Kaat too much of a compiler? What about Torre?
If you had to pick ONLY ONE, who would you elect and why? Their abridged resumes are below:
Allen, a first baseman, batted .292 with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs over a 15-season career. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1964 with the Philadelphia Phillies and the American League MVP in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox. The seven-time All-Star was a league leader in extra-base hits and slugging three times each, and home runs and on-base percentage twice apiece.
Torre, a catcher and corner infielder in 18 Major League seasons, was a .297 career hitter with 252 home runs and 1,185 RBIs. He hit over .300 five times and totaled 2,342 hits. He was the NL MVP as a third baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971, when he led the league in batting (.363), hits (230), RBIs (137) and total bases (352). The current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers played in nine All-Star Games and was a Gold Glove winner as a catcher.
Wills, a shortstop, was the NL MVP with the Dodgers in 1962, when he set a record with 104 stolen bases while also banging out 208 hits and scoring 130 runs. The switch-hitter led the NL in steals six times and also led the league in singles four times and triples once. A .281 career hitter with 2,134 hits, he won two Gold Gloves and was named to seven All-Star teams.
Kaat, a left-hander, pitched in 25 seasons over four decades (1959-1983) and compiled a 283-237 record with a 3.45 ERA. The three-time 20-game winner had 2,461 strikeouts in 4,530 1/3 innings and won 16 Gold Glove Awards.
Tiant, a right-hander, was 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and 2,416 strikeouts in 3,486 1/3 innings. He was a 20-game winner four times and led the AL in shutouts three times and ERA twice.
Hodges batted .273 with 370 home runs and 1,274 RBIs in an 18-season career in which he was selected to eight All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves. He played in seven World Series with the Dodgers, earning rings in 1955 and 1959. As a manager, he directed the "Miracle Mets" in their 1969 championship season.
Santo, a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, hit .277 with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBIs in 15 seasons, all but one with the Chicago Cubs (he spent one year with the Chicago White Sox). He led the league in walks four times and on-base percentage twice.
Oliva, who was plagued by knee injuries later in his 15-year career, all with the Minnesota Twins, won three AL batting titles, including each of his first two seasons. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1964 and twice was the runner-up in MVP balloting (1965 and 1970). A .304 career hitter with 220 home runs, he led the AL in hits five times and doubles four times. He played in eight All-Star Games.
Oliver collected 2,743 hits over 18 seasons as a .303 hitter with 219 home runs and 1,326 RBIs. The seven-time All-Star hit over .300 11 times and won the NL batting title in 1982 while with the Montreal Expos. That year, Oliver also led the league in hits (204) and RBIs (109). He was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates' World Series championship team of 1971.
Pinson had four 200-hit seasons in an 18-year career in which he hit .286 with 256 home runs, 1,170 RBIs and 305 stolen bases. A Gold Glove winner in center field, he was a league leader in hits, doubles and triples twice each, and was a four-time All-Star.