Since 1933, the American League and National League have squared off in arguably sport’s most popular exhibition game. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game has been host to literally hundreds of the games greatest players. But, of all of the all-stars in the history of the game, who would be considered the best? Let’s go back even before there was an all-star game and put together the greatest roster each league has ever seen. The All-Time Great National League Team will be first.
- 16 position players: one starter for each spot and a reserve.
- A player must have played more than 70% of their games in the National League in order to be considered.
National League Starters
Catcher – Roy Campanella (1948-1957)
Roy Campanella is one of only three players in MLB history to win MVP at least three times. He won the award in 1951, 1953 and 1955. He sports a career .276 average with 246 home runs and 856 RBI. Those numbers may not seem that impressive for the eight-time all-star, but, unfortunately, Campanella was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1958. Had his career not been shortened, his career numbers would be much higher.
First Base – Stan Musial (1941-44, 1946-1963)
Stan Musial‘s career stats are mind-blowing: .331 career BA, 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, 1,951 RBI. He spent all 22 of his season with the St. Louis Cardinals and is considered one of the most consistent hitters to ever play the game. He is a three-time NL MVP and was one home run away from winning the MLB Triple Crown in 1948. He could also qualify as a left fielder on this list.
Second Base – Rogers Hornsby (1915-1937)
One of the all-time greats, Rogers Hornsby is a two-time MVP winner, once in 1926 and again in 1932. His career batting average of .358 is second only to Ty Cobb. He won two Triple Crowns and batted .400 or more three times in his career. His .424 average in 1924 has yet to be matched and most likely never will be.
Third Base – Mike Schmidt (1972-1989)
Mike Schmidt is a no-brainer for this position. Schmidt is a 12-time All-Star, three-time NL MVP Award winner and a six-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He led the National League in home runs eight times and had 548 total career HR, and RBI four times, with 1,595 total career RBI. He was also slick in the field winning the Gold Glove award ten times.
Shortstop – Honus Wagner (1897-1917)
Honus Wagner is an eight-time batting champion, a feat only Tony Gwynn has ever matched. He was elected to the inaugural HOF class of 1936. Despite hitting only 101 career home runs, Wagner has driven in 1,732 and has 3,430 career hits. Nicknamed ”The Flying Dutchman” due to his speed, Wagner swiped 722 bags and led the league in the category five times.
Left Field – Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Despite the alleged steroid use that has somewhat tainted his career, Barry Bonds is still one of the best to ever play the game. He won a record seven MVP awards along with 14 all-star selections, eight Gold Gloves, and 12 Silver Slugger Awards. He is also the career leader in homes runs with 762 and is the record holder for most home runs in a season with 73. Bonds was also an excellent base-stealer with 514 career SBs. He’s the only player in MLB history with at least 500 steals and 500 home runs.
Center Field – Willie Mays (1951-52, 1955-1973)
Willie Mays is arguably the greatest five-tool player in MLB history. He is tied with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial for most National League All-Star Game appearances with 24. He is a two-time NL MVP, 12-time Gold Glove winner and his 660 career home runs rank fifth all-time.
Right Field – Hank Aaron (1954-1976)
Hank Aaron’s records truly speak for themselves: 25-time all-star and the all-time leader in RBI with 2,297. His 1,477 extra-base hits and 6,856 total bases are also both MLB records. At the time of his retirement in 1976, his 755 home runs were a record that stood for 31 years. To top all of the numbers off, Aaron is also a three-time Gold Glove winner and was the 1957 NL MVP.
National League Reserves
Catcher – Mike Piazza (1992-2007)
A career .308 hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI, Mike Piazza was the best catcher in the game for nearly a decade. The unanimous ROY winner in 1993, Piazza hit at least .300 every season from 1993 to 2001. He was also a 12-time all-star.
First Base – Johnny Mize (1936-1942, 1946-1953)
Nicknamed ”The Big Cat,” Johnny Mize finished second in the NL MVP voting in 1939. Mize’s career numbers are impressive, finishing with a .312 average, 359 home runs and 1,337 RBI. His most impressive number, however, is his career .397 OBP.
Second Base – Joe Morgan (1963-1984)
Joe Morgan played 22 seasons and won back-to-back MVP awards in 1975 and 1976. He is a career .271 hitter with 268 home runs and 1,133 RBI. The two-time World Series winner also won five consecutive Gold Gloves and is a ten-time All-Star.
Third Base – Pie Traynor (1920-1935, 1937)
Considered at the time to be the greatest third baseman ever, Pie Traynor was the first at his position to be elected to the MLB Hall-of-Fame. He hit over .300 ten times and had at least 100 RBI seven times in his career. He also finished in the top ten in MVP voting six times.
Shortstop – Ernie Banks (1953-1971)
Ernie Banks is arguably the greatest Chicago Cubs player of all time. ”Mr. Cub,” as he was known, is a 14-time All-Star and won back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 & 1959. Despite having to make a move to first base after eight seasons at short, Banks’ best career numbers came before the move thus earning him this spot on the list.
Left Field – Ed Delahanty (1888-1903)
Considered one of the game’s first power-hitters, Ed Delahanty was a two-time National League home run leader. He also hit over .400 three times and his .346 career average is fifth highest in MLB history.
Center Field – Duke Snider (1947-1964)
Not flashy or flamboyant, Duke Snider was simply one of the most consistent players ever. He is an eight-time all-star and helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to two World Series Championships. He finished second in the NL MVP voting in 1955.
Right Field – Roberto Clemente (1955-1972)
The 1966 NL MVP Roberto Clemente is arguably the greatest Latin and Caribbean player ever. Clemente won twelve consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 through 1972 and he finished his career with 3,000 hits and a .317 BA. His untimely death in 1972 due to a plane crash left baseball without one of its greatest ambassadors.
- Catcher – Gabby Hartnett (1922-1941) – Chicago Cubs great and 1935 NL MVP.
- First Base – Cap Anson (1971-1897) – Played a record 27 seasons and collected over 3,000 hits for the team that would become the Chicago Cubs.
- Second Base – Ryne Sandberg (1981-1994, 1996-97) – Another Cub on the list, Sandberg is a ten-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1984 NL MVP.
- Third Base – Eddie Mathews (1952-1968) – Two-time NL MVP runner-up with 512 career home runs and 1,453 RBI.
- Shortstop – Ozzie Smith (1978-1996) – ”The Wizard” won 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and is a 15-time all-star.
- LF – Willie Stargell (1962-1982) – Seven-time all-star who in 1979 won the NL MVP, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP.
- CF – Richie Ashburn (1948-1962) – A career .308 hitter and six-time all-star and he also won two NL batting titles. One of the most famous sports figures in Philadelphia history.
- RF – Mel Ott – (1926-1947) – One of the league’s best power hitters. Ended his career with 511 home runs leading the National League in that stat six times. He was also a 12-time all-star.
With so many great stars in the history of the National League, picking only 16 players is a difficult task. However, all of these players can and should be considered the greatest at their positions and it’s reasonable to think that many of these player’s names will still be thought of for the next 100 years.