There have been nearly enough Mormons in the majors to support a 40-man roster. One thing the All-Mormon team won’t be short on is starting pitching. They’ve got right-handed All-Star Roy Halladay as the ace of the staff (lifetime ERA of 3.63 and Cy Young winner), followed by another All-Star righthander in Vernon Law (1950-1967, ERA of 3.77). After that, they’ve got lefty All-Star Bruce Hurst (1980-1994, ERA of 3.92), righty Kelly Downs (1986-1993, ERA of 3.86) and still-promising righty Jeremy Guthrie (4.11 ERA)
For a closer, it’s hard to do much better than Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, a six-time All Star, an MVP, and a Cy Young Award winner. They’ve even got a decent set-up man in the form of All-Star reliever Rick Aguilera (1985-2000, 3.57 ERA). Unfortunately, the middle relief is much less inspiring–Kyle Farnsworth (4.47 ERA), Mike Fetters (3.86 ERA), Jim Gott (3.87 ERA), Ryan Jensen (5.06 ERA), and Jason Johnson (4.99 ERA).
Onto the offense! What kind of lineup could the Church of Latter Day Saints run out there?
Leading off and playing centerfield, you’d have speedy rookie Jacoby Ellsbury—and while I do doubt very much he’ll be hitting .353 for the rest of his career, it’s not a bad start.
Batting second and playing first base, I’ll go with career .289 hitter Wally Joyner, an All-Star and a lefty, who also has some pop.
Third, who but Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (1954-1975)? Don’t be fooled by his career .256 batting average. The man compiled a nice .376 OBP by walking his way to victory. Oh, and the 573 homers weren’t bad either. Killebrew played 3B, OF, and 1B in his career, but for the purposes of this exercise, I’m DH-ing him.
In the cleanup spot, it’s got to be MVP second baseman Jeff Kent. A career .290 hitter, Kent has 365 home runs and is a six-time All Star. And, he always bats fourth. Always.
In the five-hole, it’s All-Star Dale “The Murph” Murphy (1976-1993). A .265 right-handed hitter, he also hit for power (racking up 398 career homers). The two-time MVP also played Gold Glove-worthy right field.
Sixth, the left fielder, Dane Iorg (1977-1986). He bats left, to the tune of .276.
Batting seventh, the third baseman, All-Star Vance Law (1980-1991). The son of Vern, above, Vance hit just .256 but managed some power.
Batting eighth and playing short? None other than Bobby Crosby. The 2004 Rookie of the Year may bat just .240, sure, but the only other option was Luis Gomez (1974-1981), who had a career average of .210 and never hit a single home run.
Ninth, the catcher, Alan Ashby (1973-1989). He hits an uninspiring .245, but at least he’s a switch-hitter.
Who do we have on the bench? Ken Hubbs (1961-1963) is a defensive replacement/injury fill-in for Jeff Kent. Hubbs was the first player to win a Gold Glove the same year he collected the Rookie of the Year trophy. Despite hitting only .247, he was considered among the premiere second basemen in the game during his brief time in the majors. (Tragically, he died in a plane crash at the age of 22.)
No team is complete without a fourth outfielder. I suggest righty Barry Bonnell (1977-1986) for this purpose, as he hits a respectable .272. And as an overall utilityman, I’ll go with Brian Banks (1996-2003), who hit only .246 but played most of the positions on the field at some point during his career and was a switch hitter. The backup catcher is John Buck, who hits a paltry .237 but at least has occasional pop.
The result? Not a bad team. Solid starting pitching and a great closer, not to mention one of the best 3-4-5 combos you could hope for. Two Hall of Famers, and two other guys who could feasibly be elected someday. Some Cy Young winners, some Rookies of the Year, some Gold Glovers, MVPs and All-Stars. They’re just a couple of converts away from fixing their middle relief problem.
The All-Mormon Team is definitely a playoff contender. And they’d definitely beat the Canadians.