Major League Baseball has tried hard in recent years to modernize its game. The addition of technologies like Statcast, and Pitch fx have provided fans with even more information in a stats-driven sport.
Additionally, deals with Youtube, Apple TV, and Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, have attempted to make the league more accessible.
However, due to the game’s rich history, part of it will always be steeped in the past. With that in mind, here is a list of players who embody the spirit of the game played a century ago.
FIRST BASE – PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT
Yes, Goldschmidt is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, but that’s not why he made the team. He’s always had an old-school approach to the game and is country-strong. It only makes sense that he landed on a classic team like the Cardinals after eight years in Arizona. Even his nicknames, Goldy and America’s First Baseman sound like they’re from the 1950s.
SECOND BASE – WHIT MERRIFIELD
Of course, a guy with a name like Whit winds up here. Although he’s having a down year, Merrifield’s game revolves around speed, defense, and contact. Merrifield has led the AL in steals three times and hits twice. If he played for a team in a larger market, he’d be a household name. With the Royals far out of contention, Merrifield may get that chance this year.
MLB notes: KC said more open to dealing Merrifield. Gallo. Dusty. Amazing Alcantara-Gallen-Ozuna trade. Pablo Lopez. Awards picks. More notes than made the paper. https://t.co/0IbuSaEDof— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 24, 2022
THIRD BASE – JOEY WENDLE
Wendle is the honourary captain of this imaginary team. There’s no one who would look more at home playing in an earlier era. Whether it’s his lack of batting gloves, his game, or how he carries himself, Joey Wendle is a pure throwback. It’s funny that he’s spent his career playing for two of the more recent expansion franchises, the Rays, and the Marlins.
SHORTSTOP – ISIAH KINER-FALEFA
Kiner-Falefa’s game harkens back to a time when a shortstop was primarily relied upon for his defensive abilities. He’s never hit more than eight homers in a season or had an OPS+ of 100 or more but his value remains high. His arrival in the Bronx has solidified the left side of their infield defense and helped make them a tough team to beat.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa saves a run by keeping the ball in the infield then starts an inning-ending double play and Gerrit Cole is PUMPED pic.twitter.com/4eVrURCLsJ— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) June 15, 2022
CATCHER – YADIER MOLINA
This is supposed to be a list of old-school players, and Molina is, well, old. He started his career in 2004 and has played every inning with the Cardinals. There are not many who have had a ride like “Yadi” – 10 All-Star game appearances, nine Gold Gloves, four Platinum Gloves, two World Series titles, and a Silver Slugger award. He’ll turn 40 by the season’s end, and has combined with Albert Pujols to give the Cards a getting-the-band-back-together vibe.
OUTFIELD – STEVEN KWAN, HARRISON BADER, MOOKIE BETTS
Kwan made headlines early this season with his ability to put the bat on the ball. He played the first several games of his career without striking out and has a strikeout rate of just 7.7%. In addition to his elite contact skills, Kwan has made a few highlight reels by making spectacular diving catches.
Bader sports high socks and plays the game hard, all the time. He’s part of a Cardinals youth movement that also includes Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan. Bader’s game centers around speed, defense, and frenetic energy.
Mookie Betts has always had a throwback look and feel to his game. He’s a player who’s just as satisfied throwing out a runner or moving a runner over as he is hitting a home run. Betts also seems like a true team player, one who is always more concerned with team success than individual accolades.
DESIGNATED HITTER – YORDAN ÁLVAREZ
Álvarez is a slugger in the mold of a David Ortiz, a player who truly strikes fear into opposing pitchers. He’s more agile than “Big Papi” and has played 30 games in the outfield but does his damage at the plate. No player has a higher OPS than Álvarez’s 1.081.
STARTING PITCHER – LANCE LYNN
Lynn is the kind of traditional hurler who isn’t afraid to brush a batter back with some inside chin music. He’s a crafty type who has seemed to get better with age. Lynn has three top-six CY Young Award finishes after turning 30.