One of the new features for MLB 15: The Show is the introduction of the Legends cards in Diamond Dynasty mode. When you collect a certain number of regular players from one team you’re eligible to cash them in for a Legend of that organization. In other words if you collect 30 different Boston Red Sox cards then you can have Ted Williams for your team. It’s quite simple and depending on which Legend you are targeting it shouldn’t be that hard to achieve as long as you’re willing to grind and earn coin. Some Legends are more difficult than others because they have more premier players on that team to collect so the cards could be costly.
While I do appreciate the mode and like the idea of having a Legend plugged into my squad I’m not sold on the actual selection of Legends for each team. I realize that there are limitations behind the scenes on which players or likenesses can be used in the game and the MLB Players Alumni Association has a major vote in that but let’s put that aside for now. I wanted to examine if every single player was available to be placed into the game then who should the Legend from each team be?
Many of the selections turned out to be the same. In my mind there is no arguing Ted Williams, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Robin Yount, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Tom Seaver and Ernie Banks. Those are bonafide Hall of Famers and the greatest players in their respective organization’s history. It becomes more gray when you begin to examine some of the newer teams, IE: Tampa Bay, Washington (Montreal), Miami, Arizona and Colorado. I really dug into the numbers and looked at each franchise’s leaders in games, statistics, recognition (MVP, GG, All-Star Games) to determine who really has brought the most value to each team. Some of the other decisions are black and white and I hardly feel like I have to explain myself but I’m going to anyways.
Below are the list of Legends in MLB the Show 15 per team and I included my selections on the right hand column. At the bottom of this list I’ve given a few sentence paragraph on why I chose who I did and why I think my selection is better than the games. Let me know who you think is the Legend of each team. These are just my opinions, I’m not saying I’m right or wrong but this is how I feel.[table id=50 /]
Do I really need to explain why Hank Aaron, MLB’s “Real” Home Run King, is the better legend than Phil Niekro? Nothing against Niekro but Greg Maddux, Warren Spahn or Eddie Matthews would’ve been next on my list before him. Niekro spent two decades with the Braves racking up 268 wins. The Knuckleballer even had a 21 win, 20 loss season in 1979 which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my life. Niekro pitched until he was 48 years old which makes him the Julio Franco of pitchers.
Arizona is retiring Randy Johnson’s number this season who spent 8 seasons (118-62, 65.6%, franchise leader in Wins) with the D’Backs where he recorded four straight Cy Young Awards and helped win their 1st ever World Series in 2001. Finley played 6 seasons in Arizona where he hit .278 with 153 home runs and never appeared in an All-Star game. He’s second in the team’s record books in hits and home runs, both trailing Luis Gonzalez who then would’ve been a more logical choice than Finley.
Brooks Robinson ⇔ 23 years, .322 AVG, 268 HR, 1,357 RBI, 1964 AL MVP, 16 Straight Gold Gloves
Ted Williams ⇔ 19 years, .344 AVG, 521 HR, 1,839 RBI, 1946 & 1949 AL MVP, .406 AVG in 1941
Ernie Banks ⇔ 19 years, .274 AVG, 512 HR, 1,636 RBI, 1958 & 1959 NL MVP
I guess one could make a case for Black Jack McDowell to be the White Sox legend, he posted a 91-58 record (61.1%) and won the 1993 Cy Young award. He spent the better years of his career in Chicago but he’s not a Hall of Fame pitcher and not an all-time great especially with his 3.85 career ERA. The clear and obvious selection is the Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt was in the Southside for 16 years where he’s the team leader in home-runs, RBI, walks and runs. Oh yeah he also hit .307 in White Sox colors and racked up 2 MVP awards in back to back years in 1993-1994.
Johnny Bench ⇔ 17 years, .267 AVG, 389 HR, 1,376 RBI, 1968 ROTY, 1970 & 1972 NL MVP
This is going to be an uphill battle and one I think I’ve lost the argument in my own mind. I love Kenny Lofton, he’s one of my favorite players of all time but I love Albert Belle more. I think for a three year stretch Belle was the most feared right handed bat in baseball, if not the past 20 years of baseball. From 1994 to 1996, Belle hit .325 with 134 HR and 375 RBI in 407 games. That’s an average of .325/45/125 and that’s plain ridiculous. Let’s also not forget his 50 HR and 52 doubles campaign in 1995 where he was shafted out of the AL MVP to Mo Vaughn. Where I lose myself in the argument is where Belle stacks up in the Indians record book and how his longevity falls short compared to Lofton and Thome. He’s 34th in team hits, 2nd in HR and 10th in RBI and doesn’t make the Top 20 in team WAR. Lofton on the other hand ranks 7th in WAR (Thome is 8th), 9th in team hits with 1,512, 1st in stolen bases with 452 and played 10 seasons with 5 All-Star appearances. If you were to put stats aside maybe the best choice is Omar Vizquel who has played in more games (1,478) than any of the players mentioned above. I still love Belle and will not apologize for my pick.
The fact that MLB the Show picked Dante Bichette is a slap in the face of every Rockies fan. I don’t mean that in the fact that Bichette wasn’t good but others were much much better. Statistically he was solid in Colorado, .316/201/829 in 7 seasons. He appeared in 4 All-Star games and nearly won the NL MVP in 1995 but lost out to Barry Larkin, which I also feel was a big mistake in the voting. However when you look at Bichette in relation to other all-time Rockies like Todd Helton, Larry Walker and Vinny Castilla the argument is not even close. In every major batting category (Hits, HR, RBI, Average) Helton and Walker are #1 and #2 in every single one, Bichette and Castilla flip flop between #3 and #4. There is no question that Todd Helton is the greatest Colorado Rockies player ever. He spent 17 seasons there and holds every team batting record. I gave the nod to Walker because of two reasons, the first being that Helton just retired in 2013 and the purpose of throwing a legend into a video game is inserting someone you haven’t played with before. If you want Helton go back and play MLB 13 the Show. The second reason is because Walker dominated the late 90’s as the main staple of the Blake Street bombers. He won the 1997 NL MVP, he had four seasons (in five years) where he batted above .350, including a ludacris .379 campaign in 1999. Also think about it this way, Helton is #1 in all the categories with 17 season, Walker is #2 and not far behind the lead with just 10 seasons. Walker’s impact in those 10 years were incredible and thus why I’m giving him the nod for Rockies Legend.
Al Kaline ⇔ 22 years, .297 AVG, 399 HR, 1,582 RBI, 10 Gold Gloves, 1955 AL Batting Title
When you spend 20 years with one team you’re a legend. When you record 3,060 hits (team record) with one team you’re a legend. When you’ve played 2,850 games with one team you’re a legend. When you’ve had 12,504 plate appearances with one team you’re a legend. When you’ve been hit by a pitch 285 times for one team you’re a legend. If you are elected into the Hall of Fame you’re a legend. All of those statements are Craig Biggio. I think two decades of high quality baseball (.281/17/67 averages) are deserving of Legend status. Nothing against Jeff Bagwell who spent 15 great seasons with Houston as well but Biggio feels a bit more iconic. Bagwell had the numbers (449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 79.6 WAR – franchise records) and the flash (1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 NL MVP) but lacked a certain flair. When I think of the Astros I think Biggio and Bagwell not Bagwell and Biggio.
George Brett ⇔ 21 years, .305 AVG, 317 HR, 1,596 RBI, 1980 AL MVP
The Ryan Express rolled for 27 years in Major League Baseball, that itself is an amazing feat that may never be repeated. He had stops in New York, Houston, Anaheim and Texas. Of his 324 career wins, 138 (43%) of them came with the Angels which is most among any of the stops. Of his 5,714 career strikeouts, 2,416 (42%) of them came with the Angels which is most among any of the stops. Of his career 7 no hitters, 4 were thrown as a member of the California Angels. He recorded two 20 win seasons, both win the Angels. You see the trend? One of the most iconic pitchers in baseball history had his best years with the Angels so how do those 8 seasons not qualify for him to be the team legend? I get that most people may remember him for his final few years with the Rangers and that’s what hat he’s wearing on his HOF plaque but I think that’s a mistake. The peak of his career was with the Angels, he’s a Halo Legend in my book. The game selected Rod Carew as an Angel but I remember him for as a Minnesota Twin where he won a Rookie of the Year and MVP Award.
Sandy Koufax’s nickname was “The Left Arm of God” how does that not win the argument right there? The Left Arm of God versus the Bulldog, who the hell do you think wins that contest? Koufax who only played 12 seasons (3 – Brooklyn, 9 – LA) was as dominant of a pitcher as the world has ever seen. A career record of 165-87 (65.5%), a 2.76 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts per 9 and the numbers go on and on. How about in the last four years of his career, where he won 3 Cy Young Awards, 1 NL MVP, his ERA never exceeded 2.04 and three seasons were sub 2.00 ERA. How about his 7 All-Star games? How about 4 no hitters, one a perfect game? Or the fact he’s a 4x World Series champion and 2x World Series MVP. You can talk about Orel Hershiser’s 13 seasons in Los Angeles, his consecutive scoreless innings streak but all of it is moot. He’s not even in the class of Koufax, he’s not even allowed to ride in the same car. Statistically others like Don Sutton, Don Drysdale and Fernando Valenzuela have more wins and All-Star appearances with the Dodgers so they would be debatable on Hershiser’s level not Koufax. If Koufax weren’t forced to retire at age 30, in his prime, due to elbow arthritis the sky is the limit to what milestones he would’ve reached.
Giving Cliff Floyd a Legend title is tarnishing the title of being a Legend. With that said choosing a Marlins legend is pretty difficult because no one really sticks around the Marlins organization too long. I’ll give you three guesses who the career leader in Marlins HR is? If you guessed Miguel Cabrera, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Jeff Conine, Cliff Floyd or Hanley Ramirez you’re wrong. There is a tie between Dan Uggla and Giancarlo Stanton with 154 home runs. When an active player who’s only 25 years old is your career leader in long balls you can see picking a legend is a bit difficult. From a pitching perspective the career leaders in starts and wins is Ricky Nolasco with a record of 81-72 and there is no way in hell that’s worthy of legend status. So then who the hell do we pick? How about the forgotten player who has played the most career games for the Marlins? A second basemen who spent 10 years in Miami and played in 1,128 games. Luis Castillo is the most decorated Marlin there is. He’s the franchise leader in hits with 1,273, leader in steals with 281, he’s a 3x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove Winner and 2003 World Series Champion. He was a .293 career hitter with Florida which is right on par with Floyd’s .294 average. Floyd won a World Series in 2007 but he wasn’t a contributor with just a few hit-less postseason at-bats. Castillo actually played routinely for the Marlins despite producing minimally in the ’03 playoffs.
Robin Yount ⇔ 20 years, .285 AVG, 251 HR, 1,406 RBI, 3,142 Hits, 1982 & 1989 AL MVP
Harmon Killebrew ⇔ 21 years, .256 AVG, 573 HR, 1,584 RBI, 1969 AL MVP
Tom Seaver ⇔ 12 years, 198-124 record, 2.57 ERA, 2,541 K’s, 1967 ROTY, 1969 & 1973 & 1975 NL Cy Young
You could go a lot of different ways on this pick so whichever player you choose I’m not going to argue. Whether it’s Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle or Yogi Berra it’s fine by me. I’m going with the Iron Horse because I love the versatility of his numbers. Mantle is my favorite Yankee of all-time but I think based on production it’s Gehrig. Amazingly enough Gehrig never reached 3,000 hits or 500 home runs yet I think his numbers trump those of Ruth or Mantle. Until a few years ago when Derek Jeter passed him, Gehrig was the all-time Yankee leader in hits with 2,721. He has more doubles and more triples than Ruth or Mantle, obviously he has less home runs. Gehrig leads the pinstripes in career RBI with 1,995 which is 17 more than Ruth and a record that probably will not be broken. He has 7 All-Star appearances, 6 World Series Championships, 2 AL MVPs, 1 Batting Title, 1 Triple Crown and holds the second longest streak in MLB history for consecutive games played at 2,130 in a row. Legend.
The “Eck” recorded 320 saves as a member of the Oakland A’s which only accounts for 9 years of his 24 year career. What most people don’t know is that he spent most of his career as a starter with Red Sox, Cubs and Indians. I understand what MLB the Show was trying to do, they were trying to diversify the portfolio of legends so that there would be at least one closer. I get it, I’m okay with that but…I think they chose the wrong closer. Dennis Eckersley’s 1992 was no joke, he won the AL MVP and Cy Young as a closer which would be unheard of in today’s times. He recorded 51 saves, with a record of 7-1, an ERA of 1.91 and a 0.913 WHIP. Definitely amazing but legendary? No. Rickey Henderson spent 14 seasons with the A’s where he swiped 867 bases while hitting .288, winning the 1990 AL MVP and helping the A’s and Blue Jays to World Series titles in 1989 and 1993 respectively. In 1990, The Man of Steal, hit .325 with 28 HR, 61 RBI and stole 65 bases as the lead off man. In 5 straight seasons from 1980 to 1984 Henderson lead the league in steals with the A’s. One of those seasons was the infamous, record breaking, 130 steals of 1982.
Mike Schmidt – 18 years, .267 AVG, 548 HR, 1,595 RBI, 1980 & 1981 & 1986 NL MVP
I had to do some research because I really didn’t know anything about Ralph Kiner. I’ve definitely heard the name and knew he played for the Pirates and Cubs but nothing beyond that. When looking at his numbers and accomplishments there isn’t much to boast about. He only played in the big leagues for 10 seasons, 8 with the Pirates. He was a .279 career hitter and finished with 1,451 hits, 369 HR and 1,1015 RBI. He never won an MVP but had 7 All-Star appearances. The biggest accomplishment I could find was his seven consecutive seasons being the National League HR leader from 1946 to 1952. I’m sure he’s a much better player than I realize but there are two obvious choices for Pirates Legend, Willie Stargell or Roberto Clemente, three if you want to throw in Honus Wagner. Stargell spent 21 seasons in Pittsburgh with 475 HR and 1,450 RBI he’s the franchise all time leader in both categories. He also racked up an NL MVP along the way. For me Clemente is the lock, he’s the iconic Pirate we all know and think about. He spent 18 years in the black and yellow, he’s a 15x All-Star, 2x World Series Champion and 1x MVP in 1966. He won 4 National League batting titles on his way to finishing his career with exactly 3,000 hits and a .317 career average. He also won 12 Gold Gloves and from what I heard had a rocket arm. His career was tragically cut short when he died in plane accident at age 38.
Coming back to my point about closers I have decided that Trevor Hoffman should be that guy. Hoffman is a 16 year serviceman for the Padres and broke the record for career saves with 601. He shattered Lee Smith’s previous record of 478 and was the record holder until Mariano Rivera passed him. Hoffman is the leader in Padres history with 902 pitching appearances, the next closest is Craig Lefferts at 375 games. Nothing against Dave Winfield but he’s not the franchise leader in any category. His cache is that he and Tony Gwynn are the only Hall of Famers to wear the SD hat. He’s third in home runs behind Nate Colbert, Adrian Gonzalez and Phil Nevin. He’s third hits behind Tony Gwynn (3,141) and Gary Templeton. Now that I think of it I should rescind my Hoffman nomination and give it to Gwynn. He attended San Diego State, he spent 20 years with the Padres and his nickname is Mr. Padre. He’s the smoothest left handed hitting bat I’ve seen.
Ever heard of two guys named Willie Mays and Barry Bonds? Yeah me neither. What about Mel Ott or Willie McCovey? Christy Mathewson or Juan Marichal? I hear those guys are decent as well. Will the Thrill Clark had some good years in San Francisco but nothing of folk lore. He was a .300 career hitter with a handful of All-Star appearances and a few Top 5 NL MVP seasons. He established himself as one of the best 1st basemen during his time but not one of the greatest of all time. Clark only hit 30 HR in one season, his second season in 1987. The most impressive thing about Clark was his first MLB at bat where he debuted with a home run against Nolan Ryan. He only ranks 20th all time with Giants hits as he played just 8 seasons in the Bay.
I don’t hate this selection and in fact I’m on board with giving the honor to Edgar Martinez. He’s a 18 year lifer with the Mariners and finished his career with a .312 average. He’s the second in all time hits only behind Ichiro Suzuki with 2,247 hits which is one spot above Ken Griffey Jr. Edgar leads the M’s in career RBI with 1,261 also one spot above Griffey. He’s second in career HR with 309 well behind Jr’s 417. Martinez was a slick hitting right handed bat with 2 AL batting titles, 7 All Star games and 5 Silver Sluggers.
As great as it is to celebrate Ozzie Smith and marvel at the things he did in the field I can’t believe we’re talking about Smith being the Cardinals representative for Diamond Dynasty Legend. If you needed a starting pitcher then obviously Bob Gison with his 251 career wins, 2.91 career ERA, 2 Cy Young and NL MVP would be the man for the job. If you want a position player the Cardinals are rich in history and have no shortage of great options like Lou Brock or Rogers Hornsby. You know they had this great player names Stan Musial who played for the team for 22 years. He finished his career with 3,630 hits (4th all time), 475 HR, 1,951 RBI, Won 3 NL MVPs (’43,’46,’48) and finished 2nd on four occasions. Stan the Man went to 24 All Star games, earned 7 NL Batting titles and was a member of 3 Cardinals World Series Championship teams. Case Closed.
Fred McGriff ⇔ 5 years, .291 AVG, 99 HR, 359 RBI, 603 Hits
Since I moved my Nolan Ryan selection to the Angels the most logical selection that we’re all over looking is Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge spent 13 seasons with the Rangers going to 10 straight All Star Games. He also earned 10 straight Gold Gloves, 6 straight Silver Sluggers and won the 1999 AL MVP. Outside of Michael Young he’s second in the Rangers record book in games and hits. He debuted at age 19, has a cannon arm and was cool with a nickname like Pudge. He was a mercenary after he left the Rangers but was the face of the Rangers for a decade.
After looking at the numbers I guess Roberto Alomar isn’t exactly a great choice. Alomar played 17 seasons but never stuck in one place for very long. His longest tenure was in Toronto at 5 years with smaller stints in San Diego, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York, Chicago and Arizona. North of the Border he won a pair of World Series and earned 5 Golden Gloves and 5 All-Star appearances. Collectively he was a .300 career hitter with 2,700+ hits but his true notoriety was his fielding ability. 10 straight GG and ASG from 1991 to 2001 solidifies him as the most prolific second basemen of that era.
If the game is going to pull the wool over our eyes and say the Washington Nationals legend is going to be a Montreal Expo then dammit you better have the Expos uniforms in the game. Dawson had the better years of his career in Montreal but will be remembered as a lovable member of the Chicago Cubs. With the Expos he won the 1977 Rookie of the Year and accumulated the majority of his career hits and home runs in his 11 seasons in Quebec. One could go multiple ways picking an Expo legend, I chose Vlad Guerrero but picking Tim Raines, Tim Wallach or Gary Carter is cool with me too.