When our All-World Series Team was a finished product, one thing was striking. In a word, greatness. Ruth and Gehrig. Bench and Mantle. Of the 11 picks, seven are in the Hall of Fame, and at least two of the other four -- David Ortiz and Madison Bumgarner -- are headed toward Cooperstown.
Same thing with the “honorable mention” category. Six of nine are in the Hall, and two of the other three -- Billy Martin and Don Baylor -- had long, interesting careers.
One other point: that franchise in the Bronx, the one with 27 championships and 40 pennants, has a large presence, which only makes the debate more lively. So here’s our All-World Series Team, that is, a team comprised of players who’ve -- wait for it -- participated in the World Series:
Catcher: Johnny Bench, Reds
Honorable mention: Yogi Berra, Yankees
Berra’s numbers are overwhelming, in part, because he played in more World Series games (75) and collected more hits (71) than anyone in history while appearing in the Fall Classic 14 times between 1947 and 1963. His 12 home runs are by far the most among World Series catchers. However, Bench had a higher OPS and a big edge in slugging percentage while helping the Reds win twice. He was also one of the best defensive catchers of all-time.
First base: Lou Gehrig, Yankees
Honorable mention: Hank Greenberg, Tigers
Yes, the game today probably is more difficult and played at a higher level than ever before. Regardless, Gehrig’s greatness rises above all that jazz. He had a .361 batting average and .483 on-base percentage in 34 World Series Games. His 1.214 OPS is tied with Babe Ruth for the third-highest of all-time, and the two players in front of him -- David Ortiz and George Springer -- had far fewer opportunities. Greenberg had a great run, appearing in 23 World Series games in an 11-year span and compiling a 1.044 OPS.
Second base: Chase Utley, Phillies/Dodgers
Honorable mention: Billy Martin, Yankees
Utley's 1.046 OPS and .689 slugging percentage are the highest among all second basemen who’ve played in the World Series. His seven home runs are tied with Gil McDougald for the most by a second baseman, and those numbers win the day even though he played in just 15 games and was a regular only on the 2008-’09 Phillies. Martin was an underrated player and excellent in the World Series (.937 OPS).
Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Honorable mention: Paul Molitor, Brewers/Blue Jays
Sandoval’s 1.162 OPS and .426 batting average are the highest among all World Series third basemen. He was named World Series MVP in 2012, in part, for becoming the fourth player to homer three times in a Fall Classic game (with two of those coming off Justin Verlander, no less). Molitor’s numbers are comparable, while making nine of his 13 World Series starts at third.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees
Honorable mention: Edgar Renteria, Marlins/Giants
Jeter was at his best when the stakes were the highest, batting .321 while appearing in the World Series seven times and winning five. He batted .409 in the 2000 World Series and ended Game 4 of the 2001 Series with a walk-off 10th-inning shot. Edgar Renteria had two huge World Series moments, getting the hit that won the 1997 World Series for the Marlins and then delivering a three-run homer that accounted for all the Giants' runs in a clinching 2010 Game 5 (and winning Series MVP).
Outfield: Babe Ruth, Yankees; Mickey Mantle, Yankees; Reggie Jackson, A’s/Yankees
Honorable mention: Lou Brock, Cardinals
Mantle (18) and Ruth (15) have hit the most home runs in World Series history, with Jackson (10) tied for fifth. Jackson’s .457 on-base percentage in 27 World Series games trails only Ruth’s .470 among outfielders. Brock is in the conversation with a .391 batting average that’s tops among all MLB outfielders in the World Series.
Designated hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Honorable mention: Don Baylor, Red Sox/Twins/A’s
Ortiz’s numbers are ridiculously good. His 1.372 OPS and .576 on-base percentage in 59 World Series plate appearances are the best of all time regardless of position. In the 2013 World Series, Ortiz reached base in 19 of 25 plate appearances for a .760 on-base percentage.
Starting pitcher: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Honorable mentions: Whitey Ford, Yankees; Bob Gibson, Cardinals
This is a tough one to pick given how the expectations for pitchers -- especially starting pitchers -- have changed over the years. We’ll go with Bumgarner here, given his absurd performance on a rate basis, as well as bonus points for his legendary relief performance in Game 7 of the 2014 Fall Classic.
In 36 World Series innings, he has allowed just one earned run, which gives him a 0.25 ERA. He allowed just 21 baserunners. In Games 1, 5 and 7 of the 2014 Fall Classic, Bumgarner allowed the Royals one earned run in 21 innings.
Relief pitcher: Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Honorable mention: Rollie Fingers, A’s
Rivera is tops among all World Series relievers in games (24) and innings (36 1/3) and has a 0.963 ERA. He pitched more than one inning in 18 of his 24 World Series appearances, including nine of his 11 saves. Fingers was at his best in the World Series, compiling a 1.35 ERA in 16 appearances over three seasons.