When I grew up, the two baseball teams I watched or at least followed everyday were the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos. I have seen both teams play and the first game that I ever saw was those two teams face each other, it was amazing. Unfortunately now the Expos are no more, because of the relocation of the team to Washington. I still think a lot about Expos and the great teams and players that they had. One of the great things about the Expos is the fact that they had the best farm system in all of the major leagues and that was something to be proud of. The Expos have had many great players throughout the franchise’s history, but because of a variety of reasons, whether it be the lasting effects of the 1994 MLB strike, some poor ownership in the 90s and early 2000s including Jeffrey Loria, the inability to secure a new downtown stadium, poor fan support, the team was forced to leave Montreal following the 2004 season. I’m not going to get into which one of those reasons really doomed the Expos, as its a complex problem, and not one for this post. However today, I wanted to look back at an era of Expos history, and pick the best players from the teams I witnessed, the 1990 – 2004 Montreal Expos.
Catcher: The Expos history contains one of the greatest catchers of all time, the late Gary Carter. It is hard to pick another catcher to ever replace Carter and in Montreal no one ever will, but in the time frame I picked my catching choice would be Darren Fletcher. Fletcher played for the Expos from 1992-1997 his all-time stats with the team; 266 batting average, 61 Home runs 300 RBI’s. Funny enough when he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays he had a few career seasons, but he was still a great backstop in the 90’s and was a part of the 1990 team. Honorable Mention: Chris Widger, Michael Barrett and Brian Schneider and Gary Carter who ended his career in 1992 with the Expos and he obviously deserves to be mentioned.
First Baseman: This is the most difficult position to pick on the roster, as the era featured a lot of turnover at First Base. Now Andres Galarraga was a great first baseman for the Expos, but he left in 1992, so I have to put him in a tie with David Segui. Segui only played 2 and a half seasons with the Expos, but he had a career high of 21 home runs in the 1997 season. His all-time stats with the team were a 300 average, 43 home runs, 183 RBI’s and 203 runs. Honorable Mention: Lee Stevens, Wil Cordero, Andres Galarraga, Brad Fullmer.
Second Base: Second Base is a really hard choice because there were so many great players, but who would be the obvious choice is none other than Jose Vidro. Vidro played from 1997-2004 in Montreal, including two more seasons in Washington. In franchise history (Expos and Nationals) he leads second baseman with 1280 hits, 114 Home runs, 550 RBI’s and 614 runs. Not to mention a career .301 average and he played over 1186 games for the franchise. He was a three-time all-star (2000, 2002, 2003) and won a silver slugger award in 2003. Funny enough his best year was not in 2003, it was in 2000. In 2000, that is when Vidro had career highs with 200 hits, 24 home runs and 97 RBI’s with a .330 average. He usually would bat third in the lineup and was a solid player at second base. Honorable Mention: Mike Lansing, Delino DeShields, Mark Grudzielanek and Wilton Guerrero
Third Base: The third base position was always a unique spot in Montreal after Tim Wallach and Larry Parrish left it open. It almost seemed as though when those two greats were gone that they could not fill the spot. Players like Tony Batista, Geoff Blum, Mike Mordecai, Sean Berry and Shane Andrews all had a shot but did not have as much of an impact as Wallach, therefore I give third base to Tim Wallach. Wallach was with the Expos from 1980-1993 and played 1767 games for them with 737 runs, 204 home runs and 905 RBI’s. He was a five-time all-star, 3-time gold glove winner and 2-time silver slugger winner. I know he played the majority of his Expos career in the 80’s but it almost seemed like the Expos were not able to replace him after he left. Honorable Mention: The guys I just mentioned before Tony Batista, Geoff Blum, Mike Mordecai, Sean Berry and Shane Andrews
Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera. He is an obvious pick, plain and simple; he was a great shortstop for this team. He played for the Expos in 1997 all the way up until 2004 when was traded in the middle of the season to the Boston Red Sox and won the World Series. Known more for a great glove, Cabrera was also a great hitter with 877 hits with Montreal. He would usually bat second in the lineup. He had an average of .267 with 66 home runs, 381 RBI’s and 407 runs. He won a gold glove in 2003 and also had a career year in batting with 186 hits, 17 home runs, 80 RBI’s and 95 runs and is easily one of the better shortstops in franchise history. The 17 home runs that he hit were the most by an Expo shortstop in a single season; he also made a great tandem with Wilton Guerrero and then with Jose Vidro, which was one of the better middle infields in MLB at the time. Honorable Mention: Spike Owen, Mark Grudzielanek and Wil Cordero.
There are so many outfielders and pitchers to pick, so I will stop here with the infielders for now. Check back soon for part 2 of the 1990-2004 Nick’s All-Time Expos Team list.
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