It is always fun to debate sports, especially when it comes to ranking and comparing players from different eras. So here at DodgersNation, we thought what would be more fun than to assemble two teams, filled with the greatest Dodger players from over the years, and then let the fans decide which team they believe is better.
Editorial Contributors Brian Robitaille and Jeremy Evans went head-to-head and put together their own all-time great Dodgers teams. Each writer formed a 25-man roster, just like you would see today, using Dodger players ranging from the early 1900s to the present. Now, it is up to the fans to decide who would win in a best-of-seven series. Not an easy task with the players assembled.
The pitching matchups alone are those you can only dream of today. How do you determined who would win between a Sandy Koufax vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup? Who gets the upper hand between 1981 Fernando Valenzuela vs. 1988 Orel Hershiser? Could Mike Piazza have success against Don Drysdale? Would Don Sutton stymie Duke Snider? Playing in very different eras, it will always be difficult to come to any real conclusion about who would do what against other players, but it is an entertaining thought nevertheless.
Before each team is listed, we did set a requirement that a selected player must have played at least five seasons with the Dodgers organization. In this sense, we selected the “most” Dodger-like players, those being the ones who spent a majority or a large portion of their professional baseball careers with the organization.
The five-year rule prevented us from taking guys like Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Eddie Murray, who are all Hall of Fame players, but did not spend much, if any, of their prime years with the Dodgers. This rule also means that players like Kirk Gibson, Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield, and Zack Greinke, among others, were ineligible for our draft. Some readers and fans may not like that, but consider a few things: Although Gibson had a great 1988 season, and is responsible for one of the most memorable moments in franchise history, his overall numbers as a Dodger do not compare to some of the other all-time greats. Kent and Sheffield had productive years with the club, but the Dodgers are not necessarily the first team that comes to mind when you think of these players. Kent will always be a Giant first, and Sheffield could be any number of teams. It was a tough choice, but the five-year Dodgers organizational minimum is the threshold.
Therefore, here are the two all-time Dodger teams assembled by Brian and Jeremy. The writers provide explanations for their choices as well. There are a few players from the “old days” that some may not be familiar with, but most Dodgers fans will recognize the majority of these great players. Take a look, analyze the match-ups, and vote as to who you think has the better club!
Jeremy’s Team (Team One): Brian’s Team (Team Two):
Manager: Walter Alston Manager: Tommy Lasorda
Catcher: Roy Campanella Catcher: Mike Piazza
1st Base: Steve Garvey 1st Base: Gil Hodges
2nd Base: Davey Lopes 2nd Base: Jackie Robinson
3rd Base: Adrian Beltre 3rd Base: Ron Cey
Shortstop: Pee Wee Reese Shortstop: Maury Wills
Left field: Zack Wheat Left field: Carl Furillo
Center field: Duke Snider Center field: Willie Davis
Right field: Raul Mondesi Right field: Shawn Green
Starting Pitchers: Starting Pitchers:
Clayton Kershaw Sandy Koufax
Don Drysdale Don Sutton
Fernando Valenzuela Orel Hershiser
Don Newcombe Dazzy Vance
Kevin Brown Burt Hooton
Closer: Eric Gagne Closer: Kenley Jansen
Bench players: Bench players:
Eric Karros Babe Herman
Jim Gilliam Steve Sax
Brett Butler Matt Kemp
Dusty Baker Reggie Smith
Pedro Guerrero Tommy Davis
Mike Scioscia Paul Lo Duca
Claude Osteen Johnny Podres
Hideo Nomo Ramon Martinez
Tommy John Bob Welch
Jerry Reuss Preacher Roe
Jay Howell Jim Brewer
Projected batting order: Projected batting order:
- Pee Wee Reese 1. Maury Wills
- Zack Wheat 2. Jackie Robinson
- Roy Campanella 3. Mike Piazza
- Duke Snider 4. Gil Hodges
- Steve Garvey 5. Carl Furillo
- Raul Mondesi 6. Shawn Green
- Adrian Beltre 7. Ron Cey
- Davey Lopes 8. Willie Davis
- Pitcher’s spot 9. Pitcher’s spot
Why Brian’s Team is the Best!
Undoubtedly, two great teams here. Legendary Dodgers up and down the roster on both sides. I would love to see these two teams go at it in a best of seven series. In the end though, I do like how my team shapes up. Jeremy has a great squad as well, but I like my club’s chances to come out on top.
Manager: Most would agree that these guys are the two best Dodgers managers ever. Both were with the club for a long time and have won championships. What I love about Tommy Lasorda is how emotional he was, and how he wasn’t afraid to hide that on the field. Can’t go wrong with either manager here. Advantage: Push
Lineup: I love my lineup. The speed that my guys have could be a huge benefit. Jeremy has some rabbits as well, starting with the great Davey Lopes, but my #1-2 in the order are Dodgers all-time leader in stolen bases, Maury Wills, and Jackie Robinson. Oh, and down at #8, I also have Willie Davis, who could fly. The heart of my order has Mike Piazza, Gil Hodges, and Carl Furillo. Won’t be an easy task for opposing pitchers to get by those guys. Shawn Green and Ron Cey batting #6-#7 just show how deep the lineup is. I will give Jeremy the advantage in center field, but for all other positions, I either think my team has a slight advantage or we’re even. Advantage: Brian’s Team
Bench: My bench is pretty deep, and might have the best player not starting for either club, in Babe Herman. Herman was an absolute beast during the late 1920s / early 1930s, hitting .381 and .393 in two separate years for the Dodgers. Reggie Smith, Tommy Davis, Matt Kemp, and Steve Sax all provide great options to pinch-hit and/or double-switch late in the game. A close call, but I went with Paul LaDuca over John Roseboro and Steve Yeager as my backup catcher. Aside from Herman, however, I will concede that Jeremy has a very strong bench, and may be deeper overall. I’m a big fan of guys like Pedro Guerrero, Eric Karros, and Jim Gilliam. Advantage: Jeremy’s Team
Starting Rotation: For my starting rotation, I get maybe the best pitcher in the history of the game when he was at his peak. I’ll take Sandy Koufax in his prime over any pitcher from not only Dodgers history, but any team’s history. Koufax is followed by Don Sutton, who leads the Dodgers in all-time Wins, Strikeouts, and Shutouts. Orel Hershiser, Dazzy Vance, and Burt Hooton round out the rotation. Very strong starters #1-#5 there. Great arms on the other side too though. Tough to call. Advantage: Push
Bullpen: The bullpen is very solid as well, and is the one spot where I think I have the biggest advantage over my counterpart’s team. Jansen may not be as dominate as Gagne was in his prime, but they are both elite closers. Also, being able to bring guys like Johnny Podres, Preacher Roe, and Ramon Martinez out of the bullpen, is a huge benefit. You can argue that any of those guys could possibly be moved over to the starting rotation, and I did debate that for a while, but in the end went with the rotation above. Still, I like having three lefty relievers that I can go to, especially when Duke Snider is in the opposing lineup. Advantage: Brian’s Team
At the end of the day, we have two pretty evenly matched teams here. I think it’s possible the difference could come down to my team’s ability to manufacture runs, especially in what could be some close games. I also believe my bullpen match-ups could prove to be better. Additionally, if the series goes to a deciding 7th game, it would likely put our #3 starters up against each other. And no slight to Fernando, but we all know how Hershiser comes through in those big games. Either way it goes, it would likely shape up to be a great series between two great Dodgers teams. Overall Prediction: Brian’s Team in 7 games. #VoteTeam2
Why Jeremy’s Team is the Best!
Let us start from the top. Both teams have Hall of Fame managers.
Manager: Walter Alston has four World Series Championships to Tommy Lasorda’s two. Alston also managed more All-Star games, yet he never won the National League Manager of the Year Award because the award was created after he left his post. Alston also went to another three World Series (1956, 1966, and 1974), but lost.
Line-up: The projected batting order for “Team 1” begins with four Hall of Fame inductees: Pee Wee Reese, Zach Wheat, Roy Campanella, and Duke Snider. Duke Snider may be the best position player outside of Jackie Robinson to play in a Dodgers uniform.
Roy Campanella behind the plate: three-time Most Valuable Player (MVP), eight-time All-Star, 19-41 homeruns per year, 80-100+ runs batted in per year, walked more than he struck out (in nearly every season), high on base percentage, and hit over .300 three times in his career.
Adrian Beltre would be the best third baseman, statistically (if he did not leave in free agency), with the glove and the bat, to wear a Dodgers uniform.
Steve Garvey is arguably a Hall of Fame player. Eight time All-Star with the Dodgers and won the MVP Award.
Raul Mondesi won the Rookie of the Year Award and enjoyed throwing runners out at the plate.
Davey Lopes was a part of the record setting infield of Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Bill Russell, a four-time All-Star, and he was stealing bases at 40 years old.
Starting pitchers: Statistically speaking, Clayton Kershaw is Sandy Koufax at their respective points in their careers, except Kershaw is three-years younger and has no history of elbow inflammation. We wrote about the greatness of both Kershaw and Koufax previously.
Don Drysdale: Hall of Fame.
Fernando Valenzuela: two-time World Series Champion (1981, 1988), six-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, absolute stud and workhorse, and put a twinkle in the eye of many young Mexican, Central, and South American athletes to watch and play baseball.
Don Newcombe: four-time All-Star, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, won 20+ games three times in his career, and yet served in the military for America for two-years during his prime.
Kevin Brown: could have played linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, if they were in Los Angeles at the time.
Bullpen: Gagne was so dominant during a three-year period that he won the Cy Young award, as a reliever. He also admitted using performance enhancing drugs. Gagne was a three-time All-Star, holds the consecutive saves record, and had an earned run average under 2.00 twice. His 1.20 earned run average in 2003 is one of the lowest all time for a reliever. Gagne also received Cy Young Award votes three-times in his career.
As for the rest of the bullpen: Claude Osteen: three-time All-Star, never had an earned run average above 3.80, with a 3.00 earned run average four times in his career, double digit wins every year with the Dodgers (9 seasons), a twenty game winner twice, and pitched over 236 innings (321 in 1969) in every year with the Dodgers.
Hideo Nomo: Rookie of the Year, received Cy Young votes multiple times, brought Japanese baseball to America, and missed a lot of at bats with that nasty forkball and tornado wind-up.
Tommy John: surgery named after him, All-Star, runner-up in Cy Young, earned run average in 3.00 and 2.00 ranges, and double digit wins in six seasons with the Dodgers. He went on to pitch for 26 seasons in the Major Leagues.
Jerry Reuss and Jay Howell: multiple World Series Champions, lots of saves, wins, and earned run averages in the 1.00, 2.00, and 3.00 ranges.
Bench: Maybe the strongest aspect of Team One. What do you get when you have a player twelve seasons for the Dodgers, had five 30 homerun seasons, three 20 homerun seasons, knocked in 100 runs five times, and won the Rookie of the Year Award? Erik Karros.
Brett Butler: speed, defense, hit for average, and stole a lot of bases. He also got traded to the Dodgers twice.
Dusty Baker: average of 20+ homeruns and 80+ runs batted in per season.
Jim Gilliam: all fourteen seasons with the Dodgers. Two time All-Star, received MVP votes four times, and won the Rookie of the Year Award.
Pedro Guerrero: Four time All-Star and appeared in this video with comedian Don Rickles.
Though Team One is biased, Team One wins this round. What do you all think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
By Brian Robitaille and Jeremy Evans