With the World Baseball Classic coming up, we here at UmpBump couldn’t help noticing how many good young players there are on the team from Canada, so we figured it was time to revisit the All-Time Canada team.
You will recall that last time, we had a bit of trouble filling out the whole team. But with some of the new players that have come onto the scene since then, and a little more digging into history, we find that its quite easy nowadays to field a full All-Canadian squad that is actually very very good.
Here’s the starting lineup we came up with…
As you can see, this is actually a pretty decent lineup. Outfield is a particular strength, where George Selkirk (127 OPS+) and Jeff Heath (139 OPS+) just missed the cut, but would definitely be part of a very powerful bench, along with 1B Joey Votto and DH (when necessary) Matt Stairs. Tip O’Neill vies with pitcher Fergie Jenkins for the title of Greatest Canadian Baseball Player Ever, having batted .435 for the 1887 St. Louis Browns and having topped .300 six other times. Poor Corey Koskie was a superior defender at third and a very patient hitter at the plate before a horrific concussion derailed his career. The middle infield is the major weakness, where O’Rourke and McKay provide little offense, although McKay did make it into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, mostly on account of his long and distinguished coaching career.
Where the Canucks really gear it up is in the starting rotation:
Ferguson Jenkins, the only Canadian-born Hall of Famer thus far, once won 20 games or more in 7 out of 8 seasons including a run of 6 in a row, while Russ Ford won 20 games 3 times while compiling a 2.59 career ERA. And Rich Harden is famously fragile, of course, but when healthy he has compiled a 136 career ERA+.
Another major strength of the Canadians is their kickass bullpen, which is worth listing in full…
Eric Gagne had the greatest run of any reliever in the history of the game for three years from 2002-04, and John Hiller was a dominant finisher for Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s, with a career ERA+ of 134. Paul Quantrill and Rheal Cormier both enjoyed long, successful careers, while Jeff Zimmerman was brilliant before flaming out from injuries.
The Final Verdict: The Canadian team is very good, and could probably win the World Baseball Classic, but it would have some trouble trying to match up to some of the other all-time teams we’ve profiled here on UmpBump, such as the Mormons or the Smiths, and its fragile pitching staff would face injury woes over any extended period of time.