Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The All-Time Canadian Team

In looking at where (other than the U.S.) major leaguers have been born, I started to wonder if Canada could put together a decent team of players. And we could, we'd have fair pitching, an excellent outfield, one Hall of Famer, a future Hall of Famer, a couple of MVP winners, and a fair amount of power. But we wouldn't be turning any double plays and there will be a lot of hits up the middle 'cuz we've got no middle infielders.

Here is my All-Time Top Canadian Team

The Pitching Staff:
Our 'horse' would be Ferguson Jenkins, the pride of Chatham, Ontario. Fergie won 20 or more games six years straight ('67 to '72) for the Cubs and later went 25-12 and 18-7 with Rangers. Jenkins ended up in the Hall of Fame with 284 wins and a 3.34 ERA.

The Other Starters:
Reggie Cleveland from Swift Current, Saskatchewan pitched for the Cardinals and Red Sox. For his 13-year career he was 105-106, 4.01, his best year being 1973 (14-10, 3.01).
Kirk McKaskill from Kapuskasing, Ontario played mostly with the Angels and Chisox winning 106 games over 12 years. His best year, 1986, was his second in the majors when he showed great promise with a 17-10 record and a 3.36 ERA.
John Hiller was born in Toronto and played his whole career four hours from home - with the Tigers. His 'career year' was 1973 when he was 10-5, with a 1.34 ERA and 38 saves. As a starter the next year he went 17-14. Lifetime he was 87-76 with an impressive 2.83 ERA.
Paul Quantrill from London, Ontario was 11-2, 3.04 in 2001, his last year with the Jays and 7-3 in 2004 with the Yankees.
Erik Bedard from Navan, Ontario went 15-11 and 13-5 (with 10.9 strikeouts per 9 innings) for the Orioles in 2007 and 2008. He's 4-7 with the lowly Mariners this year though.
Ryan Dempster of Sechelt, British Columbia had 17 wins in 2008, and 15 in 2010. This year he's 8-8 and leads Cub hurlers in strikeouts.
Jeff Francis, who was born in Vancouver, B.C., was 14-11, 13-11 and 17-8 from 2005 to 2007 with the Rockies. He's 4-11 with the Royals this year.

In the Bullpen:
Eric Gagne from Montreal had more than 50 saves a year for the Dodgers from2002 to 2004. He later admitted to using HDH though and was one of the worst quick fadeouts among baseball's top relievers.
Claude Raymond of St. Jean, Quebec had 23 saves for the Expos in 1970, still a big number for those days.

The Position Players:
Catcher Russell Martin of the Yankees was born in East York, a suburb of Toronto ('Trawna' as locals call it). He hit over .280 his first three years with the Dodgers but is respected mostly for his terrific work behind the plate. He has a great glove and one of the hottest girlfriends in the game. See photo.

1B Justin Morneau from New Westminster, B.C. has hit 30+ homers three times, knocked in 100+ runs four times, hit over .300 three times and won an MVP award in his first seven years, all with with the Twins. He may surpass Ferguson Jenkins and Canada's all-time best.
1B Joey Votto, from Toronto, in his first two years with the Reds hit 24 and then 25 home runs and batted .297 and .322. But last year was his best so far (37, 135, . 324) when he won the NL MVP award. So far this year he's at .320 with 17 homers.
3B Pete Ward from Montreal twice hit more than 20 homers for the White Sox in the mid-sixties.
OF Larry Walker of Tay Creek, B.C. starred for the Expos and Rockies in the 90s. He hit 20+ homers eight times and ended up with 383 homers lifetime. In '97 he had 49 homers, 130 ribbies and a .366 average and was the NL's MVP and the next two years he hit .363 and .379! He won seven Gold Gloves, was an All-Star five times, and ended up with one of the best career averages (.313) among modern players.
OF "Twinkletoes" George Selkirk from Huntsville, Ontario took over in right field for Babe Ruth in ;34. (Few observers drew comparisons between the two.) Lifetime Selkirk had 108 home runs and batted . 290 over a 9-year career. His best year was 1939 (21, 101, .306).
OF Tip O'Neill from Springfield, Ontario played for the St. Louis Browns in the 1880s In his best season he hit 52 doubles, 19 triples, 14 HR's and hit .485 in 567 at bats! He hit over .300 in eight of his ten years and wound up with a .334 career average.
OF Terry Puhl of Melville, Saskatchewan was twice an all-star and had a .280 average and over 1.300 hits with the Astros over a long and steady career. He was great with the glove and owns the ninth best fielding percentage in major league history (.993).
OF Jason Bay from Trail, B.C. has averaged 29, 93, .279 over his last six healthy seasons with the Mets.
DH Matt Stairs from St. John, New Brunswick holds the MLB record for most jerseys 12. His best years were 1997 to 2000 with the Athletics when he hit more than 20 homers each year, the best being his 38 dingers in '99.

Top Prospects:
The top Canadian prospects right now are probably third baseman Brett Lawrie from Burnaby, B.C. and pitcher Scott Richmond (3-0 and Rookie of the month in April 2009) from Vancouver, both Blue Jays. If the majors let girls play I would include Lauren Bay, Jason's sister. See photo.

Not a bad squad. Believe me I searched the ages for even decent middle infielders and there have been none. Unless one of you readers can find any. Sadly, the vast majority of the players born in Canada played less than two seasons in 'the bigs', many getting just a quick cup of coffee and a "Thanks for comin' out".


Rick Blechta said...

I suppose we could move Brett Lawrie to second which would leave us only a shortstop to find.

Rick Blechta said...

Okay, I came up with a shortstop.

How about Arthur Albert "Foxy" Irwin (February 14, 1858 – July 16, 1921) was a Canadian-American shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball during the late nineteenth century. The fame earned by Irwin during a 13-year (1880-1891; 1894) playing career and eight years as a manager would be eclipsed by the circumstances of his death – an apparent suicide – more than two decades after his last major league game. Born in Toronto, United Canada, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Irwin played for the Worcester Born in Toronto, United Canada, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Irwin played for the Worcester Ruby Legs (1880–82), Providence Grays (1883–85), Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies (1886–89, 1894), and Washington Nationals (1889) of the National League and for the Boston Reds in the Players' League (1890) and American Association (1891). A left-handed hitter, Irwin appeared in 1,010 games and batted .241.

Irwin was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and his plaque notes that he is "best known for popularizing the fielder's glove. Not wanting to miss any games after he broke two fingers on his left hand in a game, Irwin improvised and made a glove from a large driving glove, adding padding, a button at the back, and sewed the third and fourth fingers together. The glove was soon adopted by other players and became known as the 'Irwin Glove.'"

Will Braund said...

Well, at least we have a glove at shortstop.

Rick Blechta said...

Late-Breaking news: CBC is announcing that Matt Stairs, released by the Nationals earlier this week, has decided to retire. And Will, counting his last team, he wore 13 different jerseys over his 20-year career!

A great player and great teammate, I think we all wish him well.