Each MLB Team's Best Defensive Player of All Time

Justin Keith@justin5keithCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2011

Each MLB Team's Best Defensive Player of All Time

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    Home run hitters and dominant pitchers have long been seen as essential to an MLB team's success.

    While that may be true in part, it leaves out one of the most important aspects in the game of baseball: defense.

    Without a quality defense to make the plays behind a pitcher, the team will ultimately fail. A team cannot simply rely on a pitcher striking out every batter. It must rely on a solid defense behind him to make the plays when they count.

    There have been some dazzling defensive plays and players over the years, but who is the best in your team's history?

    Here's a look at the best defensive player of all time for each of the 30 MLB teams.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Steve Finley

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    Steve Finley signed as a free agent with the Diamondbacks in 1998. His offensive statistics are among the best in Diamondbacks history; however, he also made a name for himself with his defensive play.

    Finley won five Gold Gloves in his career, two in his time with the Diamondbacks.

    His hard-working mentality made him a fan favorite, and he is considered one of the best players in the franchise's short history.

     

    Honorable Mention: Orlando Hudson

Atlanta Braves: Greg Maddux

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    Greg Maddux will go down as the best pitcher in Braves history. However, his success is not just based on pitching statistics.

    Maddux revolutionized the word defensive in regards to pitchers. He won 10 Gold Gloves in his time with Atlanta and 18 total over his career, which is the most all-time at any position.

     

    Honorable Mention: Andruw Jones

Baltimore Orioles: Brooks Robinson

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    Brooks Robinson was a vacuum for the Baltimore Orioles throughout his career at third base. He won 16 straight Gold Gloves from 1960-1975, which is the most ever for a third basemen.

    Robinson was also named to the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove Team, and his No. 5 was retired by the Orioles. He is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

     

    Honorable Mention: Cal Ripken Jr.

Boston Red Sox: Dwight Evans

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    Dwight "Dewey" Evans patrolled right field for the Red Sox from 1972 to 1990. Fans mostly remember Evans for his cannon for an arm and his great range in a tough right field at Fenway Park.

    Evans won eight Gold Gloves in his career, all with Boston. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000.

     

    Honorable Mention: Carl Yastrzemski

Chicago Cubs: Ryne Sandberg

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    Ryne "Ryno" Sandberg is a Cub legend and someone whose name is being bandied about as a top managerial candidate for the 2012 season—and for good reason.

    Sandberg won nine straight Gold Gloves for the Cubs at second base, not to mention he has the highest fielding percentage for second basemen in history at .989.

    Sandberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

     

    Honorable Mention: Greg Maddux

Chicago White Sox: Luis Aparicio

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    Luis Aparicio was a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox from 1956-62 and 1968-70. In this time, he won six Gold Gloves and was consistently at the top of the league in fielding percentage, assists and putouts.

    Aparicio was part of one of the best double-play combinations in history with second basemen Nellie Fox. His Chicago White Sox teams were known for their speed and strong defense.

    He was a 13-time All-Star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

     

    Honorable Mention: Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso

Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Bench

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    Johnny Bench is an iconic Reds figure and one of the best catchers to ever play the game of baseball. He played his entire career in Cincinnati and accumulated some of the best statistics the catching position has ever seen.

    Besides his outstanding offensive stats, his defense made him a truly special player. Bench won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves between 1968 and 1977.

    Bench is also famous for his unique catching style that saw him pick balls in the dirt with his mitt rather than dropping onto his knees and getting in front of the ball. He also made the hinged catcher's mitt popular.

     

    Honorable Mention: Joe Morgan

Cleveland Indians: Omar Vizquel

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    Omar Vizquel is the symbol of longevity in the game of baseball. Vizquel has played in 23 MLB seasons and is best known for his stellar play at shortstop.

    Vizquel played for the Indians from 1994 to 2004 and won eight straight Gold Gloves with the Tribe.

    Vizquel has numerous defensive credentials to his name, including the most double plays made by a shortstop and the highest career fielding percentage for a shortstop with at least 1,000 games played, as well as the fewest errors in a season with the Indians in 2000 with just three.

     

    Honorable Mention: Roberto Alomar

Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker

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    Larry Walker is one of the most iconic Colorado Rockies in their short franchise history. He was known for his big bat and great glove.

    In his time with the Rockies, Walker collected five Gold Gloves in right field in a ballpark that saw balls being smashed in the high altitude.

    He accumulated 12 outfield assists in his MVP season in 1997.

     

    Honorable Mention: Todd Helton

Detroit Tigers: Al Kaline

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    Al Kaline is perhaps the greatest player to ever put on a Detroit Tigers uniform. He was an 18-time All-Star and still works with the Tigers as a consultant.

    Kaline was an outfielder for most his career, mainly a right fielder. He was best known for his very strong throwing arm and won an amazing 10 Gold Gloves in his career.

    Kaline is not just a Tigers icon, but an icon of the city of Detroit because of his skills with his bat and his elite defensive ability.

     

    Honorable Mention: Ivan Rodriguez

Florida Marlins: Luis Castillo

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    In the short history of the Florida Marlins, there has been a lot of turnover in terms of the players. However, one player stands out as a candidate for top defensive player: Luis Castillo.

    Castillo was a Marlin from 1996 to 2005 and accumulated three Gold Gloves. He had some of the best defensive double-play partners in Edgar Renteria and Alex Gonzalez, but his stellar defensive plays speak for themselves.

     

    Honorable Mention: Charles Johnson

Houston Astros: Craig Biggio

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    Craig Biggio was Mr. Everything for the Houston Astros throughout his career. He could play anywhere defensively and was the hardest of workers.

    Biggio was an All-Star at both catcher and second base and also spent time in the outfield. His main position, however, was second base.

    Biggio won four straight Gold Gloves between 1994 and 1997 and is the definition of heart and hustle.

     

    Honorable Mention: Brad Ausmus

Kansas City Royals: Frank White

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    Frank White was a smooth-fielding second baseman for the Kansas City Royals from 1973 to 1990. He played in over 1,900 games with George Brett, which was a record at the time.

    His fielding ability made him a fan favorite after being hated for replacing former Royal second baseman Cookie Rojas.

    White won eight Gold Gloves over his career, including six straight between 1977 and 1982.

     

    Honorable Mention: Amos Otis

Los Angeles Angels: Jim Edmonds

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    Although Jim Edmonds didn't win the most Gold Gloves or have the best accolades in his Angels career, his spectacular play in center field cannot be ignored.

    Edmonds continuously made sensational catches, including perhaps the greatest catch in baseball history with his over-the-shoulder diving catch.

    Edmonds did win back-to-back Gold Gloves in 1997 and 1998 and brought his glove to work every day.

     

    Honorable Mention: Mark Langston

Los Angeles Dodgers: Steve Garvey

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    Steve Garvey was best known for his durability and steady play at first base as well as his consistent approach at the plate.

    Garvey played in 1,207 straight games, which at the time was a National League record and still the fourth-longest streak in history.

    Garvey won four Gold Gloves with his time with the Dodgers. He won all four in consecutive seasons from 1974 to 1977.

     

    Honorable Mention: Wes Parker

Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount

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    Robin Yount was an amazing talent for the Milwaukee Brewers throughout his 20-year career with the team. He put up sensational offensive numbers, including reaching 3,000 hits.

    However, he was also a valuable asset in the field. He started his career as a shortstop, where he won his only Gold Glove in 1982, which was also his MVP season. Yount probably would have won more Gold Gloves at short if an arm injury hadn't forced him to move to the outfield. Yount made this transition look easy and was a productive center fielder.

     

    Honorable Mention: George Scott

Minnesota Twins: Torii Hunter

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    Torii Hunter has been one of the most electric defensive players in baseball since he started playing regularly for the Twins in 1999.

    Hunter made a habit of robbing home runs, including his most famous catch against Barry Bonds in the All-Star game in 2002. After the game, Sammy Sosa gave him the nickname "Spiderman."

    Hunter won Gold Gloves for the Twins from 2001 to 2007 and became the icon of defense to the rest of the league. He still continues to wow fans with his abilities with the LA Angels.

     

    Honorable Mention: Kirby Puckett

New York Mets: Keith Hernandez

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    Keith Hernandez revolutionized the position of first base and is one of the best defensive first basemen of all time.

    Hernandez had a strong, accurate throwing arm, making the Mets decide to have him handle all of the cutoff throws. He also would squat in foul territory to make a tag on the baserunner more quickly on pickoff attempts. The umpires had to change the rule because of Hernandez's technique.

    Hernandez played with the Mets from 1983 to 1989 and won six consecutive Gold Gloves.

     

    Honorable Mention: Carlos Beltran

New York Yankees: Don Mattingly

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    Don Mattingly is the current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a longtime coach with the New York Yankees and the Dodgers under Joe Torre.

    However, Mattingly was a stellar player for the Yankees from 1982 to 1995. In his time with the Yankees, Mattingly earned nine Gold Gloves as a first baseman.

    The Yankees thought Mattingly was such a good fielder that they occasionally put him at third base and second base even though he was a lefty thrower.

     

    Honorable Mention: Bernie Williams

Oakland Athletics: Eric Chavez

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    Eric Chavez was on the "Moneyball" Athletics and was the cream of the crop when it came to defensive third basemen.

    Chavez played for the Athletics from 1998 to 2010 but was plagued by injury towards the later part of his tenure with the club. However, when healthy, Chavez was an amazing talent at third base.

    Chavez won six consecutive Gold Gloves with the A's from 2001 to 2006 and cemented his position as one of the best defensive third basemen in the majors.

     

    Honorable Mention: Dwayne Murphy

Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt

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    Michael Jack Schmidt is the most recognizable Philadelphia Phillie in team history. He played his entire career in Philly from 1972 to 1989 and is considered one of the best third basemen in league history.

    During his time with the Phillies, he also played first base and a little shortstop, but his natural position was always third, where he made himself into one of the best defensive players to ever play the game.

    He won nine straight Gold Gloves from 1976 to 1984 and then went on to win his 10th in 1986.

     

    Honorable Mention: Garry Maddox

Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente

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    Roberto Clemente made a significant impact on baseball during his career in Pittsburgh. He was not only a great ball player, but his humanitarian work was equaled by few.

    To go along with his impressive offensive numbers, Clemente was stellar in the field. He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 to 1972 and made plays look effortless.

    His untimely death in 1972 removed an important figure from baseball, but his legend will always live on.

     

    Honorable Mention: Bill Mazeroski

San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn

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    Tony Gwynn is widely regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the history of baseball. However, many people forget how good he was defensively.

    Gwynn patrolled right field for the Padres in his prime and did it outstandingly. Gwynn won five Gold Gloves with the Padres, in 1986 and 1987 and then from 1989 to 1991.

     

    Honorable Mention: Dave Winfield

San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays

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    The "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays is one of the top five overall baseball players of all time. He was the original five-tool player and made the game look easy to most who saw him play.

    Defensively, Mays played center field. He won the Gold Glove 12 times even though the award wasn't introduced until six seasons into his career. It is clear he would would have added a few more Gloves if the award had been around.

     

    Honorable Mention: Barry Bonds

Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Ken Griffey Jr. is best known for his incredible talent and infectious smile. His athletic abilities were second to none.

    Griffey played for Seattle from 1989 to 1999 and then again in 2009-10. He won 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1990 to 1999 and always went after any ball hit his way.

    He is a member of the 600 HR club and won the Home Run Derby three times—but it is his ability to take away home runs that lands him on this list.

     

    Honorable Mention: Ichiro

St. Louis Cardinals: Ozzie Smith

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    Perhaps nobody in the big leagues has ever had a trademark quite as cool as Ozzie Smith's backflip. "The Wizard" was a master at his craft at shortstop. He was a 15-time All-Star and held numerous records at shortstop at the end of his career.

    Besides setting a record for number of games played at his position, Smith broke the records for assists and double plays (the latter later broken by Omar Vizquel).

    Smith won a Gold Glove in an amazing 11 straight seasons, making him one of the best defensive players of all time.

     

    Honorable Mention: Bob Gibson

Tampa Bay Rays: Carl Crawford

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    In the short history of the Tampa Bay Rays, they have had their fair share of young talent, one of those talents being Carl Crawford. Crawford was a freak athlete with blazing speed and a knack for the ball.

    He could run down any ball hit into the gap and make up for bad reads. His raw talent is seldom matched, and his athleticism translated to the outfield.

     

    Honorable Mention: Evan Longoria

Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez

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    Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was long considered the best catcher in the game throughout his career. He was just 19 when he made his debut with Texas in 1991 and played with the Rangers until 2002.

    During this time, Pudge was a stone wall behind home plate. He won a Gold Glove every year from 1992 to 2001. Not only did he not allow passed balls, but he was also consistently at the top of the league in runners caught stealing.

     

    Honorable Mention: Kenny Rogers

Toronto Blue Jays: Roberto Alomar

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    Roberto Alomar is the latest inductee into the baseball Hall of Fame, and for good reason. He won more Gold Gloves (10) than any other second baseman in history and put up great numbers at the plate.

    Alomar played for the Blue Jays from 1991 to 1995, helping them win two World Series titles. He won a Gold Glove every year he played in Toronto and is the only Hall of Fame player to be depicted in a Toronto uniform.

     

    Honorable Mention: Tony Fernandez

Washington Nationals: Andre Dawson

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    Andre Dawson played for the Montreal Expos from 1976 to 1986 and became an instant star when he became an everyday outfielder.

    He played center field for the Expos and played with a sense of speed and power. He won eight total Gold Gloves in his career, the first three coming with the Expos.

    Dawson ultimately would have won more with Montreal, but he sought a new playing surface to save his bad knees.

     

    Honorable Mention: Larry Walker