2005 Yankees the Greatest Combination of Talent on One Team Ever?

by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com


Much has been made recently about the Yankees off-season moves, and it has been suggested that the 2005 Yanks may turn out to be the finest collection of talent ever to play for one team. Buster Olney, for example, has commented that the Yanks will have seven Hall of Fame candidates on their team this coming season, which of course begs the question – Which team in baseball history in fact had the greatest collection of talent ever?[1]


In considering the various teams, keep in mind we are talking about greatest collection of great players, and it is not required that all the players be in their primes or even have good seasons. For present purposes, we simply consider the caliber of players on a given teams roster without considering how those players actually did that season.


1992 Texas Rangers


The 1992 Rangers are an interesting team. On one hand, the team featured one current Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan, and three apparent Hall of Fame locks, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Kevin Brown. What makes it interesting is that the team also featured two other players who have what would seem to be Hall of Fame credentials in Jose Canseco and Juan Gonzalez. Consider:



























Despite their credentials, it would appear as though both players’ stock has dropped considerably. Given the bizarre way in which Canseco’s career unfolded after getting off to a fabulous start, combined with his admitting to using steroids, it is possible that Canseco may never seriously be considered for the Hall. And at the tender age of 34, Juan Gonzalez has played for the last 3 years as if he were 54, managing to play in only 185 games over the three seasons. There are currently only three eligible members of the 400 HR Club who are not in the Hall of Fame – Andre Dawson, Darrell Evans, and Dave Kingman – and that number is likely to increase as Canseco and Gonzalez become eligible. However, in their primes, they were both Hall of Fame caliber players, and the 1992 Rangers was quite an assemblage of talent.


1949 Cleveland Indians


Due in part to Cleveland’s willingness to sign black ballplayers once the color barrier had been broken two years earlier, the ’49 Indians were loaded with talent. AL barrier-breaker Larry Doby was joined by Minnie Minoso and Negro League Legend Satchel Paige on a team that also included Hall of Fame pitchers Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, and Early Wynn as well as Hall of Fame shortstop/manager Lou Boudreau for a total of six Hall of Famers (Minoso, somehow, is not in the Hall). Additionally, the team featured a young Al Rosen, an aging Joe Gordon, and Boone family patriarch Ray Boone.


1997 Atlanta Braves


It is concievable that Tom Glavine may not make the Hall of Fame. Certainly arguments could be made that he doesn’t deserve to be in. Two words – Don Sutton. Glavine has a better winning percentage, better ERA, more Cy Young Awards, and is 38 wins away from 300. Sutton is in the Hall, and Glavine should be, too. Smoltz is less of a sure thing, but his return to the rotation this season could make things interesting. Plus, he is better than Glavine in terms of K/BB and ERA.


The Braves of the 1990s may be the best pitching staff of all time. From 1993 to 2002, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz and whomever dominated the National League, to the tune of 6 Cy Young Awards, 27 individual seasons with 15 or more wins, and eight years leading the National League in team ERA. That all three pitchers would make the Hall of Fame is not unthinkable. Add to them Hall of Fame hopefuls Fred McGriff (no player with over 475 home runs has ever been kept out), Chipper Jones (one of the three best offensive third basemen of all time) and Kenny Lofton (one of the best leadoff men of all time), and the list of possible Hall of Famers is six. Throw in Andruw “Slowly but surely” Jones, and Javy “Every couple of years” Lopez, and this team has fantastic potential.


1941 Boston Red Sox


Because of Connie Mack’s tendency to sell his players when the team he owned and managed was in financial trouble, the Red Sox ended up with an interesting assortment of players in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. In Ted Williams’ finest year, the Red Sox had Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, and Joe Cronin, all Hall of Famers, in addition to Dom “I field better than my brother” DiMaggio.


1964 San Fransisco Giants


In 1964, the Giants were still wasting the early part of Willie McCovey’s career by holding on to Orlando Cepeda at first base. Both players ended up in the Hall of Fame, though Cepeda went in via the Veterans Committee. The Giants featured six Hall of Famers that in ’64 – McCovey, Cepeda, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and Duke Snider, who finished career by playing 91 games for the ’64 Giants. The team also featured Don “perfect game in the World Series” Larsen, as well as two of the three Alou brothers, Jesus and Matty, having traded Felipe to the Braves after the 1963 season.


1928 New York Yankees


Nine Hall of Famers – Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Leo Durocher, Bill Dickey, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Stan Coveleskei – also featured Urban Shocker for one game, and George “64 doubles in 1926” Burns for 4 games. No fewer than 4 of their Hall of Famers would not be there if not for the fact that they played for the Yankees, and Durocher didn’t make it because he was a good player.


1995 Cleveland Indians


Any Indians team from the 1990’s is naturally outstanding, but this one featured a rare combination of talent. Current Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray were finishing up their careers with the ’95 Indians while future Hall of Fame candidates Albert Belle, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Kenny Lofton starred for the division winners. The pitching staff, while probably only featuring one legitimate Hall of Fame possibility in Orel Hershiser, was nonetheless formidable, featuring Charles Nagy, Dennis Martinez, and Jose Mesa. Youngsters Brian Giles, Jeromy Burnitz, and David Bell also saw time with the Tribe in 1995.


1983 Philadelphia Phillies


Much has been made of what a disfunctional team this was, full of aging veterans, many of whom only spent one year with the team. But the collection of talent was fantastic – Mike Schmidt, Joe Morgan, Steve Carlton, and Tony Perez are all in the Hall of Fame, and Pete Rose would be if he did not have his head up his rear-end. The ’83 Phils also featured the NL Cy Young winner, John Denny, the would be 1984 AL Cy Young and MVP winner, Willie Hernandez, as well as relief pitcher Tug McGraw and the Sarge, Gary Matthews. A couple of youngsters by the name of Juan Samuel and Darren Daulton had a cup of coffee with the Phils that year, also.


1928 Philadelphia Athletics


One of my all time favorite teams. For one remarkable year, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, and Jimmie Foxx all played for the same team. Can you imagine it? Seven of the all time greatest players on one team? Playing for the legendary Connie Mack? Too much.


Additionally, the ’28 A’s featured 247 game winner Jack Quinn and on-base machine second baseman Max Bishop, whose .423 OBP was 152 points better than his batting average and 57 points better than his slugging percentage.


Were I ever to happen upon a time machine, I would without a doubt return to 1928 to see an A’s vs. Yankees game.

[1] Actually, it also begs another question – Who are the seven? I’ve got ARod, Sheffield, Randy Johnson, and Mariano Rivera as shoe-ins, and Bernie Williams as a borderliner. Who else? Mussina? Sure. But Jorge Posada? Jason Giambi? Derek Jeter? We may be throwing around the phrase “Hall of Fame candidate” a little too loosely.