Unlike picking a fantasy team or even the current year’s All-Star teams , picking an all-decade team affords you the benefit of hindsight, career totals , and ten years of data to work with (gathered from baseball statistics site baseball-reference.com). The downside: career totals, hindsight, and ten years of data make a whole lot of guys look like All-Stars. That said, picking a short roster of the best players of the 1990s (save for a few standout players) is no easy task. Disagree if you will, but here’s my selection for the 1990s MLB All-Star Team. Please note that many of these players excelled before and after the ’90s, but stats and consideration of play are taken only from 1990-99.
C- Ivan Rodriguez (Texas Rangers, 1991-1999)
Possibly the easiest selection for the 1990s roster, Rodriguez was absolutely dominant in his position throughout the decade. He was a Gold Glove winner and an All-Star from 1992-99, an MVP in 1999, and a Silver Slugger from 1994-99. Aside from being one of the best in his position, he was also one of the youngest, making his major league debut at catcher for the Texas Rangers at the age of 19.
1B- Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox, 1990-1999)
How can you not love a guy who warmed up in the on-deck circle with a rusty piece of rebar ? The Big Hurt (as he was dubbed broadcaster Ken Harrelson) finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting from 1991-97, was selected as MVP in 1993 and 1994, was named a Silver Slugger in 1991, 1993-94, and was an All-Star from 1993-97. He was a force to be reckoned with as a decade-long player for the Sox and never came under the steroid scrutiny that caused other first basemen to show up as a DH instead of a starter on this list.
2B- Roberto Alomar (San Diego Padres, 1990; Toronto Blue Jays, 1991-95; Baltimore Orioles, 1996-98; Cleveland Indians, 1999)
Though he didn’t have the same club longevity as some of the other members of this squad, Alomar never faltered at his Second base position, as witnessed by his seven Gold Gloves in the ’90s (19 91-96, 1998-99). He was an All-Star every year in the 1990’s, and was as powerful in the batters box as he was on the field (Alomar was a Silver Slugger in 1992, 1996, and 1999).
3B- Wade Boggs (Boston Red Sox, 1990-92; New York Yankees, 1993-97; Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 1998-99)
An All-Star from 1990-96, Boggs was a driving force behind the Yankees first World Series victory in 18 years. While his best years were arguably with the Red Sox in the ’80s, he won two Gold Gloves in the decade (1994-95) and also notched three Silver Sluggers (1991, 1993-94).
SS- Cal Ripken, Jr. (Baltimore Orioles, 1990-99)
This was by far the easiest and hardest spot to write into the roster. No one can deny the overall effect Ripken, Jr. had on the game of baseball as an overall outstanding player, but the argument could have been made that this spot could have gone to rising talent Alex Rodriguez with the Iron Man taking the 3B spot (as he did permanently from 1997-99). However, some times you have to let a career speak for itself, and with appearances in every All-Star game of the ’90s, two Gold Gloves (1991-92), three Silver Sluggers (1991, 1993-94), and every consecutive inning he played, Ripken earned the SS spot.
RF- Tony Gwynn (San Diego Padres, 1990-99)
The city of San Diego was destined to have Gwynn play one sport or another in the city, having selected the San Diego State University standout in both the MLB and NBA drafts of 1981. While Gwynn would have surely excelled as a San Diego Clipper, he chose the Padres instead and went on to be an All-Star for the team every year of the 1990’s. His Gold Gloves in 1990 and 1991 were complemented by his three Silver Sluggers in 1994-95 and 1997.
CF- Ken Griffey, Jr. (Seattle Mariners, 1990-99)
Another all-decade All-Star, Griffey was unmatched in the outfield. He could probably take any of the OF positions and be just as excellent. In addition to being on the All-Star team throughout the ’90s, he was also a Gold Glove recipient all ten years, and a Silver Slugger for seven (1991, 1993-94, 1996-99). He was kind of a big deal; enough said.
LF- Barry Bonds ( Pittsburgh Pirates, 1990-92; San Francisco Giants, 1993-99)
Save for 1991 and 1999, Bonds was an All-Star throughout the 1990’s. He was absolutely spectacular to watch and even amid allegations of steroid abuse , his stats put him far above the competition for the LF spot on the roster. Eight Gold Gloves (1990-94, 1996-98), seven Silver Sluggers (1990-94, 1996-97), and the adulation of Giants fans everywhere earn him this spot, even if you want to put an asterisk next to it.
DH- Mark McGuire (Oakland Athletics, 1990-97; St. Louis Cardinals, 1998-99)
Say what you will about McGuire, but the guy hit 70 home runs in 1998 and average a homer every 10.61 at bats in his career. What more could you ask from your DH?
P- Randy Johnson (Seattle Mariners, 1990-98; Houston Astros, 1998; Arizona Diamondbacks, 1999)
I have never had more fun watching any pitcher than I did watching Randy Johnson. The 6’10” beast was dominant and could have, I believe, struck a man out simply by staring him down. He won two Cy Young awards in the ’90s (1995, 1999) and was six times an All-Star (1990, 1993-95, 1997, 1999).
P- Roger Clemens (Boston Red Sox, 1990-96), Toronto Blue Jays, 1997-98; New York Yankees, 1999)
Well, he wasn’t convicted of steroid use, so there’s no reason to keep him off the All-Star list. He won a World Series in 1999, three Cy Young awards (1991, 1997-98), and was a five time All-Star in the decade (1990-92; 1997-98).
P- Greg Muddux (Chicago Cubs, 1990-92; Atlanta Braves, 1993-99)
Greg Maddux won every Gold Glove of the 1990s. All ten. He also won four Cy Young awards in a row (1992-95), was named an All-Star six times (1992, 1994-98), and won a World Series in 1995. Power defined.
P- Tom Glavine (Atlanta Braves, 1990-99)
Another double sport athlete, Glavine was drafted ahead of future Hockey Hall of Fame honoree Luc Robitaille in the LA Kings 1984 draft , but chose to play with the Atlanta Braves instead. Glavine was on the same 1995 World Series team as Greg Maddux, was four times a Silver Slugger (1991, 1995-96, 1998), and won two Cy Young Awards of his own (1991, 1998).
P- Mike Mussina (Baltimore Orioles, 1991-99)
Mussina was an All-Star five times (1992-94, 1997, 1999) and won the Gold Glove four times (1996-99). He was consistent and unwavering in his mound appearances.
P (Lefty Specialist)- Jesse Orosco (Cleveland Indians, 1990-91; Milwaukee Brewers, 1992-94; Baltimore Orioles, 1995-99)
Even though he wasn’t a Dodger in the ’90s, it made me happy to appoint at least one to the pitching roster. The longevity of Orosco’s career was owed almost entirely to his use as a lefty specialist, and he was the cream of that closing crop.
P (Setup)- Dennis Eckersley (Oakland Athletics, 1990-95; St. Louis Cardinals, 1996-97; Boston Red Sox, 1998)
Eck wasn’t as powerful in the ’90s as he was earlier in his career, but man was he solid with the A’s. Three All-Star appearances from 1990-92, and an MVP and the Cy Young award in 1992. He may not have made it all the way through the decade, but he was great in the first half.
P (Closer)- Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees, 1995-99)
Mariano Rivera is another pitcher I just love to see work, and like Eckersley, his showing in just half of the decade eclipsed others that could have taken this spot. He was an All-Star in 1997 and 1999, a World Series Champion in 1996, 98, and 99 , and the World Series MVP in 1999.
C- Mike Piazza (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1992-98; Florida Marlin, 1998; New York Mets, 1998-99)
There had to be a Dodger in here somewhere, and had it not been for Ivan Rodriguez’s complete dominance in front of and behind the plate, Piazza would have been my first choice for catcher. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1993 and always a solid hitter.
SS- Alex Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners, 1994-99)
A-Rod, like I mentioned when naming Cal Ripken, Jr. as the starting Shortstop, could just as easily been the starter had the list not gone for age over beauty. He’s a guy whose bat is just as great as his glove.
LF- Albert Belle (Cleveland Indians, 1990-96; Chicago White Sox, 1997-98; Baltimore Orioles, 1999)
Belle could handily have been the starter in the DH spot since he racked up five Silver Sluggers in during the decade (1993-96, 1998), but at least his excellence at bat gets him a backup position here.
That’s it for the 1990s. Trust me, I’ll be back to do this again at the end of 2019 so I can talk about the Decade of Dodger Dominance (trademark that now…), but for now, feel feel to chime in on the ’90s.