Selecting All-Time All-Star Rosters for Both MLB Leagues
Each year since 1933, the game’s best have squared off in an exhibition-style matchup. Major League Baseball likes to call it the All-Star Game.
There have been hundreds of All-Stars throughout the history of the Midsummer Classic, including many who are now enshrined in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame—and some who will be in the coming years. It makes you wonder what an all-time All-Star Game roster would look like for each league.
See where I’m going with this?
Over the last few days, I looked at numbers and made decisions on players who should and shouldn’t make a 34-man roster for the American League and National League teams. There were plenty of tough cuts, but they were ones that had to be made. There were also a few complications.
Primarily, there were many players who spent time in both leagues throughout their careers. Some may have played 10 in the AL and 10 in the NL. In order to make either of the teams’ rosters, a player had to play at least 60 percent of games in one league or the other. This led to even more tough cuts.
A few notable names you won’t find on either team in the coming slides due to the aforementioned “60 percent policy” include Cy Young, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez, among others. It stinks that these players aren’t represented, but that doesn’t take away from their successes.
Another thing to consider is that these players took the field in several different eras. I did not take into consideration players who have tested positive for banned substances or have been rumored to be performance-enhancing drug users. That wouldn’t be fair since we didn’t always have the technology we have right now.
A player did not have to play in an All-Star Game to make this team. There were many great players who never got to play in a Midsummer Classic because it wasn't invented yet. That shouldn't be held against them, and it won't be here.
So, who made the cut? Ahead lies the answer. These are the all-time All-Star Game rosters for the American League and National League.
*All statistics in this article were obtained via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
American League Catchers
Starter: Ivan Rodriguez
Reserve: Carlton Fisk
Positional Overview: One of the best catchers to ever play the game, Rodriguez spent 13 of his 21 years in the big leagues in Texas. Throughout his entire career, he hit .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. He won the AL MVP in 1999 and has 13 Gold Gloves on his resume. He gets the starting nod here.
Fisk could easily be the starter for the AL, but Rodriguez was just a bit better throughout his career. The Hall of Fame backstop hit .269/.341/.457 with 376 home runs and 1,330 RBI. He won the Rookie of the Year back in 1972 with Boston and never slowed down from there.
National League Catchers
Starter: Johnny Bench
Reserves: Mike Piazza, Gary Carter
Positional Overview: A two-time MVP and the 1968 Rookie of the Year, Johnny Bench might just the greatest catcher of all time. Through his 17 seasons in the big leagues, he hit .267/.342/.476 with 389 home runs and 1,376 RBI. He was selected to 13 straight MLB All-Star Games from 1968 through 1980.
A pair of former New York Mets catchers will be backing Bench up. Piazza played eight years in New York and 16 total, sporting a .308/.377/.545 with 427 homers and 1,335 RBI throughout his career. Carter spent five of his 19 career seasons with the Mets, hitting .262/.335/.439 with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBI.
American League First Basemen
Starter: Lou Gehrig
Reserve: Jimmie Foxx
Positional Overview: Gehrig is an icon in the sport of baseball because of his ability on the field and the disease that forced him to retire earlier than anyone wanted him to. In 17 seasons, the first baseman hit .340/.47/.632 with 493 home runs and 1,992 RBI. He’s most known for his consecutive games played streak—2,130 in a row.
Meanwhile, Foxx played 20 seasons in the big leagues, most of them coming with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox. In more than 2,300 games, he hit .325/.428/.609 with 534 home runs and 1.922 RBI. The three-time MVP and nine-time All-Star is arguably the second-best first baseman to play in the AL.
National League First Basemen
Starter: Albert Pujols
Reserves: Pete Rose, Jeff Bagwell
Positional Overview: Pujols is easily one of the best hitters you’ll ever see—no matter what his numbers with the Angels look like. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, he was absolutely unstoppable. He’s a .321/.410/.599 career hitter with 490 home runs and 1,491 RBI. He’s a three-time MVP and a nine-time All-Star.
Rose played a lot of positions throughout his career, but I’ve slotted him as a backup first baseman. While he’ll never be in the Hall of Fame, his career hits record won’t go unnoticed here. Bagwell is one of the underrated players here, as he was a .297/.408/.540 hitter in 15 seasons. He was one homer shy of 450 for his career.
American League Second Basemen
Starter: Eddie Collins
Reserve: Rod Carew
Positional Overview: Eddie Collins played in the big leagues for a quarter of a century and holds one of the more interesting records in the game. He has the most sacrifice hits of anyone to play the game: 512 in 25 seasons. In more than 2,800 games, he was a .333/.424/.429 hitter with 1,821 runs and 741 career steals.
Carew was selected to play in the All-Star Game 18 consecutive times in his career. 1985, which was his final season, was the lone season he didn’t make the team. In 19 seasons between the Twins and Angels, he hit .328/.393/.429 with more than 3,000 hits. He won the 1977 MVP after leading the league in runs, hits and batting average.
National League Second Basemen
Starter: Rogers Hornsby
Reserve: Joe Morgan
Positional Overview: Unfortunately for Hornsby, the All-Star Game wasn’t created until he wasn’t much of an offensive threat anymore. But prior to 1933, he was lethal with a bat in his hands. He finished his career hitting .358/.434/.577 with 301 homers and 1,584 RBI. The two-time MVP led the league in hitting seven times.
Meanwhile, Joe Morgan played for some of the most dominant Reds teams in history and was a major reason why the franchise was so successful. Across his 22-year career, the second baseman hit .271/.392/.427 with 268 home runs and 1,133 RBI. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 1975 and 1976 with a league-leading OPS in each year.
American League Shortstops
Starter: Cal Ripken Jr.
Reserve: Derek Jeter
Positional Overview: The Iron Man played in 3,001 games throughout his career and nearly never took a day off. In 21 seasons, all with the Orioles, Ripken hit .276/.340/.447 with 431 home runs and 1,695 RBI. He was a two-time MVP and was selected to All-Star Game in every year from 1983 to 2001—19 in total.
Like it or not, Jeter is one of the best players you’ll ever get to see play. In 19 seasons, the Yankee captain is a .313/.382/.448 career hitter. He has more than 3,300 hits and nearly 1,900 runs on his resume. A 13-time All-Star, there’s no question that Jeter deserves to be on this list. He could even be the starter here.
National League Shortstops
Starter: Honus Wagner
Reserve: Barry Larkin
Positional Overview: Wagner never got the pleasure of playing in a Midsummer Classic since he hung up his cleats in 1917 after 21 big-league seasons. In nearly 2,800 career games, the shortstop was one of the best hitters ever. He ended his career with a .328/.391/.467 slash line and led the league in hitting eight times.
Larkin dedicated his entire career in the majors to the Reds after they drafted him fourth overall in 1985. In 19 seasons with the club, the shortstop hit .295/.371/.444 with 198 homer runs, 960 RBI and 1,329 career runs. He was selected to the MLB All-Star Game 12 times throughout his Hall of Fame career.
American League Third Basemen
Starter: Alex Rodriguez
Reserves: Wade Boggs, George Brett, Brooks Robinson
Positional Overview: If Alex Rodriguez is healthy enough to play for the next couple of seasons, there’s a very real chance he ends his career with at least 700 home runs. In 19 major league seasons, A-Rod has won the MVP three times and been an All-Star in 14 seasons. He currently has a .300/.384/.560 career slash line.
Boggs finished his 18-year career hitting .328/.415/.443 with 118 home runs, 1,014 RBI and 12 All-Star Game selections. Brett has 317 homers and 1,596 RBI on his career resume to go along with an MVP and three batting crowns. While Robinson was only a .267 career hitter, he had 2,848 hits and drove in 1,357 runs in 23 years.
National League Third Basemen
Starter: Mike Schmidt
Reserves: Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones, Ron Santo
Positional Overview: A three-time MVP, Schmidt might just be the greatest third baseman ever. He hit 548 home runs and nearly drove in 1,600 runs throughout his 18 seasons in the big leagues, which were all spent with the Phillies. Schmidt played the hot corner very well and won 10 Gold Gloves. He was a 12-time All-Star.
Mathews was a .271/.376/.509 hitter across 17 seasons in the majors, hitting 512 home runs and ending his career with 1,453 RBI. Santo hit .277/.362/.464 with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBI in 15 seasons, all in Chicago (one with the White Sox, the rest with the Cubs). And don’t forget about Jones, who played 19 years in Atlanta and hit .303/.401/.529.
American League Outfielders
Starters: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb
Reserves: Mickey Mantle, Tris Speaker, Ken Griffey, Jr.
Positional Overview: This may be the greatest collection of stars you’ll ever find. Ruth is the best player ever, hitting .342/.474/.690 with 714 home runs and 2,220 RBI through his 22-year career. Williams hit .344/.482/.634 in 19 years, all with the Red Sox, and led the league in hitting six times while winning a pair of MVPs.
Cobb has the highest batting average of all time, as he hit .366 in 24 years in the big leagues—all but two with the Tigers.
Mantle won three MVPs and hit .298/.421/.557 with 536 homers and 1,509 in his career. Speaker has the most doubles ever, and Griffey has 630 long balls on his resume.
You can’t top these six.
National League Outfielders
Starters: Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Barry Bonds
Reserves: Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Roberto Clemente
Positional Overview: Well, maybe I spoke too soon. These six players match up pretty well against the AL’s outfield. Aaron and Bonds have more home runs than anyone else to ever play the game, with 755 and 762, respectively. Musial and his .331/.417/.559 and 475 home runs wasn’t too bad either, I suppose. (Note the sarcasm.)
It was tough leaving Mays out of the starting lineup, but I felt that Musial was better. Mays hit .302/.384/.557 with 660 home runs throughout his 22-year career. Ott hit 511 homers in 22 seasons with the Giants and ended his career hitting .304/.414/.533. Clemente played 18 years, hitting .317/.359/.475 in 2,433 games.
American League Designated Hitter
Starter: David Ortiz
Reserve: Frank Thomas
Positional Overview: There have been a few great designated hitters since the position was created, and Ortiz is the guy who stands out the most of the bunch. He’s had as remarkable of a career as anyone could have while basically never playing the field. He recently broke the records for most all-time hits by a DH.
Thomas was a designated hitter just a little more than he was a first baseman, so that’s why he’s here. He was a .301/.419/.555 career hitter with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBI. He spent all but three of his big league seasons with the White Sox and is easily the top player in that franchise’s history.
American League Starting Pitchers
Starter: Roger Clemens
Reserves: Walter Johnson, Bert Blyleven, Lefty Grove, Mike Mussina, Red Ruffing, Eddie Plank, Hal Newhouser, Ted Lyons, Early Wynn
Positional Overview: Choosing Clemens to start for the AL wasn’t a very difficult decision. While he did play in the NL for a few seasons, he was as dominant as anyone throughout his years in the AL with the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees. The seven-time Cy Young winner was 354-184 in 709 career games with a 3.12 ERA.
Blyleven won 287 games in his 22-year career with a 3.31 ERA. Grove won 300 games on the dot and finished his time in the big leagues with a 3.06 ERA. Mussina was 30 wins shy of 300 for his career, but he did post a 3.68 ERA across 18 years of work between the Yankees and Orioles.
Wynn was another player who finished his career with exactly 300 victories, and Plank retired with 326 wins on his resume. Newhouser won 207 games in 17 seasons, winning at least 25 in a season three times. Finally, in 22 years, Ruffing won 273 games and ended his career in the majors with a 3.80 ERA.
National League Starting Pitchers
Starter: Greg Maddux
Reserves: Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Christy Mathewson, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton, Curt Schilling, Warren Spahn
Positional Overview: This decision was definitely a lot tougher, as nearly any of these starters could be the starting pitcher for the NL and it would’ve been acceptable. But I decided to go with Maddux, who won four Cy Young awards and 355 career games in 23 years in the big leagues. He had a 3.16 ERA.
Christy Mathewson had 373 career wins, and Spahn won just 10 fewer. Perry, Carlton, Seaver and Sutton each finished their respective careers with at least 300 wins as well. Seaver is the only of the four stars to retire with his ERA under 3.00, as the righty sported a 2.86 ERA when he decided to call it quits.
Schilling, Jenkins and Gibson never made it to 300 wins in their careers, but they are still worthy to be on the squad. Schilling is the only one without a Cy Young award on his resume, but he still managed to win a few World Series rings. Jenkins won the Cy Young in 1971, while Gibson won the award in 1968 and 1970.
American League Relief Pitchers
Reserves: Mariano Rivera, Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley
Positional Overview: Rivera will be taking the mound at the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night for the last time ever. He’s easily the best closer to ever walk the face of the Earth, and it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to break his record of 638 saves. His record of 930 games finished seems untouchable as well.
The other relievers in the bullpen for the AL are three guys who all played for the Athletics at some point in their careers. Gossage has 310 career saves, while Fingers has 341. Eckersley has 390 after being a starter for around 30 percent of his career. All four are more than capable of closing the game out for the Junior Circuit.
National League Relief Pitchers
Reserves: Lee Smith, Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, Bruce Sutter
Positional Overview: Hoffman is arguably the second-best pitcher to ever have the ninth inning to himself. He was the guy to beat before Rivera really started to take the league by storm. The 18-year veteran saved 601 games throughout the course of his career and finished second in the NL Cy Young award voting on two occasions.
The three other relievers for the NL are no joke either. Smith saved 478 games in 18 seasons in the big leagues, Wagner had 422 in 853 games and Sutter had 300 in 661 games. The wild card here is Wagner since he’s the lone lefty to make either of the teams. There’s no question he’s the best lefty closer of all time.