A couple weeks ago I put together a lineup of the most famous players of this decade. Here's a sequel covering the '90s. I wasn't paying much attention to MLB during some of these years, so there's guesswork involved here, and some of these picks are certainly disputable. Anyway, here goes:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez
I should probably just put in Mike Piazza here, but Pudge was pretty famous in the '90s too, and had a bigger following among Hispanics.
First base: Mark McGwire
Second base: Roberto Alomar
The spitting incident in 1996 still casts a shadow on Alomar's position as one of the extraordinary players of the decade and one of the greatest second basemen ever.
Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr.
It's either Ripken or A-Rod here, but I think the consecutive games streak gives Ripken the nod.
Third base: Matt Williams
His star's faded with time, but Williams' notoriety began in 1987, when he was a Giants phenom, and in '94 he was possibly going to be the guy who broke Maris' record before the strike happened.
Wade Boggs is the backup choice here, I think: 3,000 hits, the Red Sox, the Yankees, riding that horse after the '96 World Series.
Left field: Barry Bonds
It's tough to remember the days when Barry was fast, lean, powerful; a five-tool player who emerged from his father's shadow and then Pittsburgh to become the Giants' latest great outfielder. Rickey Henderson's a decent second choice, but his star faded as the decade wore on.
Center field: Ken Griffey Jr.
From his time as a 20-year-old phenom in 1990 hitting back-to-back homers with his father on through the end of 1999, this was really Junior's decade.
Right field: Sammy Sosa
How can Sosa and McGwire not both show up on this lineup?
Designated hitter: Edgar Martinez
Edgar's fame was established with The Double to end the 1995 ALDS. Other good choices are Paul Molitor and his Brewers/Blue Jays/Twins DH years getting to 3,000 hits, and Frank Thomas' three or four years at DH in the '90s.
Left-handed pitcher: Randy Johnson
Johnson's scowl, his extreme height, his slider, his fastball, and John Kruk shrinking away from him at the 1993 All-Star game provided some of the great baseball images of the '90s.
Right-handed pitcher: Roger Clemens
Clemens' star rose and faded at different points in the '90s: in 1996 he seemed to be losing his stuff. But he came back with two great years in Toronto and then headed for New York and new levels of fame. Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez both challenge for this spot.
Closer: Dennis Eckersley
Eck's struggles with alcohol, his swagger, and the Gibson homer in 1988 had made him a minor celebrity even before the '90s began. Eckersley went from dazzling at the start of the decade to an average closer later with the A's and Cardinals.
Mariano Rivera came up as a starter and only spent '97 through '99 as the Yankees' closer, but he still might be the pick over Eck.
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