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Best and brightest of All-Star Games past

When the league's top players join forces, the cumulative star power can be downright dazzling.

Since 1933, baseball's best have convened for the Midsummer Classic. But among those collections of greats, some are transcendent. When fans and historians look back at All-Star Games past and attempt to rank the "best this" and "best that," the possibilities are endless. Here, we put forth the top collections by position that the All-Star Game has ever seen.

National League

Willie Mays, New York Giants
Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Braves
Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds

Talk about star power. This trio hit a combined 2,001 career home runs and played in 63 All-Star Games. 1957 was a particularly strong year for all three: Aaron led the Majors in homers (44), RBIs (132) and total bases; Mays topped all players with 20 triples and 38 stolen bases while hitting .333 and smashing 35 homers; and Robinson batted .322 with 29 longballs and 75 RBIs.

C Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers
1B Fred McGriff, Atlanta Braves
2B Craig Biggio, Houston Astros
3B Chipper Jones, Braves
SS Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds

When all is said and done, this group could include four Hall of Famers, as Piazza and Jones may one day join Biggio and Larkin. McGriff, meanwhile, hit 493 career homers and made five All-Star teams.

Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals
Juan Marichal, San Francisco Giants
Warren Spahn, Milwaukee Braves
Don Drysdale, Dodgers

Koufax was at his peak, and although Spahn was nearing the end of his remarkable career, he was still in the middle of a stretch that saw him win 20 games in seven of eight seasons. Marichal and Gibson were just getting started, and Drysdale won the Cy Young Award in '62 with a 25-9 record.

The second-ever group of NL All-Star starters included eight Hall of Famers, with legendary pitcher Carl Hubbell, who struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession that game, on the mound. The infield boasted prodigious hitting talent, while future Cooperstown inductees Kiki Cuyler and Joe Medwick were outfield anchors.

American League

OUTFIELD: 1955-57
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox
Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees
Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers

Many consider Williams the greatest hitter of all time, while Mantle is the standard in center field. All "Mr. Tiger" did to round out the group was play in 18 All-Star Games and finish his career with 3,007 hits.

C Bill Dickey, New York Yankees
1B Lou Gehrig, Yankees
2B Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers
3B Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics
SS Joe Cronin, Washington Senators

Gehrig and Foxx could mash with the best of them, while Dickey was a master behind the plate. Gehringer was a prolific hitter with good speed, and Cronin was a clutch hitter and an RBI machine.

Nolan Ryan, California Angels
Jim Palmer, Baltimore Orioles
Catfish Hunter, New York Yankees
Rollie Fingers, Oakland A's
Goose Gossage, Chicago White Sox

The Majors' K king, Ryan teamed up with first-rate starters Palmer and Hunter on this squad. Gossage and Fingers rank among the top closers in history, while Jim Kaat (283 wins) and Vida Blue (209) were aces at the time.

It doesn't get any better than eight Hall of Famers -- including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig -- in the lineup, plus one on the mound (Lefty Gomez). Add in four more Hall members who were actually on the bench or in the 'pen, and you have the makings of the greatest baseball team ever assembled.

Michael Bradley is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. This story appears in the 2015 MLB Official All-Star Game Program.
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