By In Stuff



25 Players. 25 Countries.

You might remember the challenge — 25 players, 25 countries, build the best baseball roster you can. Several hundred of you sent in your rosters which, as I think I mentioned before, was a complete surprise. I expected, like, two people to do it.

And so, while I wanted it to be a contest, yeah, I was overwhelmed by all the responses. I couldn’t calculate whether your team would actually beat mine.

Since I ended up with Glen Hubbard playing second base, yeah, there’s a decent chance your team COULD beat mine.

But I’ll leave that up to you.

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22 Responses to All-World

  1. Cuban X Senators says:

    This was so much fun.

  2. Johnny P says:

    Ruth played almost as many games in left field (1,048) as he did in right field (1,132). If you wanted him on the team, you could have put him in left ahead of Bonds.

    • GothamWiseFool says:

      Agreed. I had him pitching one day in five and playing left the other four.

    • invitro says:

      Maybe in Joe’s league, Bonds gets to use steroids, but Ruth doesn’t, and there’s a DH, or Ruth isn’t allowed to pitch, and Ruth has to use a fungo bat, and have a ball and chain, or something like that.

      • SDG says:

        Using that logic, there couldn’t be any Latin American or Caribbean players on Joe’s team, unless they were particularly light-skinned. I think we take the players as they are. Bonds is on steroids, Ruth is drunk, but either way corner OF is covered.

    • Brent says:

      To take it further, Ruth played an entire game as a RF 859 times and as a LF 846 times. That is 50.38% vs. 49.62%. I don’t see how you can call him a RF and not a LF. And, of course, a RFer has all the skills necessary to play LF in almost every situation. I certainly don’t see putting Barry on the team over Ruth on the basis that he has a worse arm, so he played LF more than Ruth. That really makes no sense.

  3. DeadCenterPerfect says:

    A couple points to consider for this exercise:
    1) I’m guessing this isn’t just one game or a seven game series, but a whole season being taken into consideration. Seems obvious when you have five starters. Would this list be any different if you made it a career list, instead? You would have a couple issues with longevity in your bullpen & starting staff (or at least injury). Also, it changes that “snapshot in time” or peak level conversation. Would you rather have the statue known as Barry Bonds in left to get the cyborg at the plate or have the do-it-all level guy from early in his career?
    2) Given that of the guys on this staff, if you look at their top seven seasons for complete games (a reasonable facsimile of their best seven for ease of computation), Blyleven & Tiant finish more than half of them, Presidente & El Cid about 1/3, & Pedro about 1/6 (while averaging 7.5 innings/start) I think the depth of the bullpen will come into play about once a fortnight or so, so it could be Moe Howard at the back end & no one would notice. I think Rivera gets about 15 save opportunities a year with this team. Much more important is the fact that, beyond Pedro, only Tiant had any SEASON where they struck out more than one per inning, & the career SO/9 for these four were 6.7, 6.4, 6.2, & 4.8(!). So, if we’re playing present day seasons do we extrapolate they would strike out more? Or do we just have the numbers to go by, in which case, boy, that’s a lot of balls in play. In that case, that left side of the infield is a sieve, the infield D as a whole isn’t spectacular, & we may really want young BB over old in the outfield. Either you need to beef up the D or you need to prioritize SO pitchers like Unit, Clemens, et al, over offense. Probably easier to D up than to figure out a #5 to replace Prez.

  4. Brian Schwartz says:

    You could get by with Byung-Hyun Kim in your bullpen, but inevitably your manager would decide to insert him in the starting rotation with disastrous results.

  5. Stephen says:

    Maybe I missed something…Carew was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which was separate from Panama (a US possession) when he was born. Seems like he and Rivera could both qualify. No?

  6. Lex says:

    Well, here is mine.

    I really enjoyed this.


    Fernando Valenzuela, Mexico

    Dennis Martinez, Nicaragua

    Felix Hernandez, Venezuela

    Bert Blyleven, Netherlands

    Jharell Cotton, US Virgin Islands


    Takashi Saito, Japan

    Hong-Chih Kuo- Taiwan

    Sueng Hwan Oh, South Korea

    Grant Balfour, Australia (only applicable verb-noun baseball name ever)

    Danny Graves, Vietnam

    Jeff Bronkley, Afghanistan


    Yan Gomes, Brazil

    Jeff Baker, Germany


    Joey Votto, Canada

    Andrelton Simmons, Curacao

    Adrian Beltre, Dominican Republic

    Rod Carew, Panama

    Edgar Renteria, Colombia

    Tony Solaita, American Samoa

    Alex Liddi, Italy


    Willie Mays, USA

    Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rico

    Minnie Minoso, Cuba

    Chili Davis, Jamaica

  7. Scott says:

    Fergie Jenkins doesn’t even mentioned under Canada? I’d probably have him as a pitcher instead of Tiant and then use either Palmeiro or Perez as the Cuban representative. Perez could even play third instead of Cabrera.

    It also looks like Joe shares Bill James’ distaste for 19th century baseball. Either Tommy Bond or Tony Mullane would be good choices as starters instead of Valenzuela, which would allow Bobby Ávila to play second.

    • SDG says:

      I agree about Fergie Jenkins. I’m kind of embarrassed I forgot about him.

      Nineteenth century players ARE different. They basically threw a tobacco-stained beanbag from a flat surface 50 feet from the batter. It might be the right call strategically to bulk out your rotation with someone from Ireland, giving you more flexibility with the more numerous Latin American players. It’s probably against the rules to put them in the bullpen, though, which would be my instinct.

    • Cuban X Senators says:

      Fergie (and Larry Walker) were also born in the Dominion of Canada, while Joey Votto was born in the nation of Canada. No reason you can’t have both Votto and one of the other two.

  8. Kuz says:

    I love Joe’s writing, perspective, and intellect. Here comes the but: leaving George Herman “Babe” Ruth off ANY all-time baseball roster is unforgivable. It’s worse than leaving Michael Jordan off an all-time roster. Maybe on par with leaving Wayne Gretzky off an all-time roster.

  9. Peter says:

    I never thought I’d spend so long agonising over this, but here is my team. No DH for me, and I have limited myself to post-war players too (Elmer Valo stretches this rule slightly, but he had his meaningful years after the war).

    Ichiro Suzuki, RF, Japan
    Rod Carew, 2B, Panama
    Albert Pujols, 1B, Dominican Republic
    Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Venezuela
    Ivan Rodriguez, C, Puerto Rico
    Bobby Thomson, LF, United Kingdom
    Devon White, CF, Jamaica
    Andrelton Simmons, SS, Curacao

    Starting pitchers:
    Roger Clemens, USA
    Bert Blyleven, Netherlands
    Fergie Jenkins, Canada
    Dennis Martinez, Nicaragua
    Jose Quintana, Colombia

    Grant Balfour, Australia
    Alex Wilson, Saudi Arabia
    Danny Graves, Vietnam
    Joakim Soria, Mexico
    Aroldis Chapman, Cuba

    Yan Gomes, C, Brazil
    Jerry Browne, INF/OF, US Virgin Islands
    Xander Bogaerts, SS, Aruba
    Glenn Hubbard, 2B, Germany
    Tony Solaita, 1B, American Samoa
    Elmer Valo, OF, Czech Republic
    Shin-Soo Choo, OF, South Korea

    The other version I have of this was similar except with A-Rod at SS, Kenley Jansen in the ‘pen and Valenzuela in the rotation, for Simmons, Clemens and Soria. Not much to choose between them but it does illustrate the needless detail into which my mind has found itself going.

  10. MikeN says:

    Instead of Ichiro, I went with Wang Chen-chih, also known as Sadaharu Oh.

  11. shagster says:

    If you’re going to take a Cuban pitcher, you have to take ‘El Duque.’ Watched that guy up close during his Yankee 90s dominance. Not a Yankee fan, but watched as the bigger the moment the more wicked he pitched. A credible argument can be made that come playoff time, the ‘d’ in that Yankee dynasty stands for ‘Duque’.

  12. Pat says:

    So I actually thought I’d have a chance of matching Joe’s list exactly—wishful thinking, I know, but I’ve bought lottery tickets in the past. A dollar—or less than that—and a dream of being a “Brilliant Reader,” right? It didn’t turn out like that.

    My outfield/DH was largely the same, with one big swap of Americans and Jamaicans: Joe took Bonds and Chili Davis in left and DH, compared to my Devon White and Ruth. Total WAR: 230-200, my way. Yeah, who knows what Ruth would’ve done against the pitching in Bonds’s day. Who knows how much medical assistance Bonds would have found in Ruth’s.* Honestly, comparing teams with Ruth and Bonds on them is kind of like asking who would win a fight between the Smurfs plus Darth Vader against My Little Pony plus Magneto.
    * Side note: The season before his head swelled, Bonds’s top comparable was Griffey (83 WAR); at the end of his career, it was Mays (156); 73 extra wins seems high but a decent approximation for how much steroids helped him.

    Then it gets pretty sticky. At first and starting, I went with Pujols and Fergie Jenkins instead of Votto and Pedro. (Pitchers are both retired and even in WAR; 1B are both active but mine leads by 50 WAR… with six more years of service.) Man I wanted Pedro. But the best first baseman of all time not named Lou Gehrig, plus a HOF starter, just outweighed the alternative.

    The infield is a damned mess. Instead of Votto-Hubbard-Bogaerts, I took Pujols-Carew-Campaneris, which is an upgrade at every position. I took a huge loss with Jimmy Austin’s (Wales) bat instead of Miggy’s at third—but that’s also a defensive swing of about 20 wins (+4.8 compared to -15.0). The left side of the infield is fantastic defensively and playing small-ball in the 8th and 9th spots (Campy was really terrible at getting on base but could really run the basepaths; Austin once led the league in sacrifices)—that seems a familiar quandary.

    The bench—who knows? Renterria and Thompson made both teams. My backup catcher, Jack Doyle, was an above-average hitter who scored and knocked in nearly a thousand runs during deadballand stole 518 bases, which is 516 more than Joe’s backup.

    I likely took a loss at the rotation. Blyleven and Dennis Martinez were the same, but instead of Pedro-Tiant-Valenzuela, I had to take Fergie, Johan, and a guy named Jack Quinn from Slovakia. All told, my three ptichers still come out on top in WAR, 193-194, but Quinn pitched during Prohibition and probably is not really as good as his 58 WAR suggests.

    My bullpen, on the other hand—it’s stacked. It doesn’t have a guy name Mariano at the top, but the closer role is of course overrated, and Joakim Soria is perfectly fine in that role. To Drabowsky and Balfour, I added Chien-Ming Wang (Taiwan), Al McBean (V.I.), and Danny Cox (England). In lieu of Joe’s (Choo) 5th outfielder, I took a different Korean in Chan Ho Park, as a swing-man. I flipped the SE Asia connection and took Danny Graves (Vietnam, 5.9) instead of Chouinard (Philippines, 1.5). I may not have the world’s greatest closer, but Bochy will never be at a loss for quality arms to get out of trouble.

    I might have made my bullpen too big: I went with a 12-batter, 13-pitcher roster, with a DH—clearly I’m a fan of an AL team—and so left a hole on my bench, where I only picked a single utility infielder and 4th outfielder (both same as Joe’s). My DH can also play the outfield if there’s a need, though—and did I mention he’s the best player who ever lived?

    I will claim one clear victory in having 25 players instead of 24. I didn’t see a need to use a space for Bochy as player-manager, which have been against the rules; what do I know….

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