The best defunct baseball identities for every MLB city (Part 1: American League)

The history of baseball is full of team names that no longer exist. Just this year, for example, the Cleveland Guardians have taken the place of the team known as the Cleveland Indians. This brings up the question, however: what is each city’s BEST former baseball identity? And are they better than the current one?

I’m going to look and find out, starting with the American League.

A few rules:

  • These are professional team identities only. No amateur teams.
  • For cities with multiple teams, I’ll go with either a team that is located in the same general area or which has historical connection.
  • Team names that have migrated (such as Giants or Athletics) can’t be reused.

Let’s begin after the jump:

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The early voting for the AL All-Stars is… surprisingly good, actually.

It’s a yearly thing: the early returns for voting in the All-Star Game comes out, and I start to think that maybe this “democracy” thing has run it’s course, as people vote for their favorite players, instead of people who, y’know, actually deserve to be in there and are having good seasons.

So imagine my surprise when the earliest returns on voting for the American League were released today. I mean, look at it. Here’s a rough version of what I thought while look at it:

Oh, boy, early ASG voting. This should be good, let’s see how stupid the people of the internet are these days….

Hmmmm. Joe Mauer and then Matt Wieters at catcher. Nothing to complain about there, although Wieters isn’t doing so great at the plate this year so far.

Okay, Chris Davis is first at 1B. Good. I was a little worried he’d go under the radar of casual fans.

Robinson Cano at 2B. Again, probably the right choice, although I’m a little surprised that Dustin Pedroia, who at least as far as hitting for average is concerned is doing better than Cano, is such a distant third. Also surprised that Brian Roberts cracked the top five, since he’s only played three games this season.

Third Base. Miguel Cabrera, as he should be, is in the lead, and is the top vote-getter. Anyone who would argue otherwise is dumb. It’s a shame that Manny Machado has come up to the majors as a 3B… he’ll probably be a backup until Cabrera either starts a decline (And even then, Evan Longoria -who also would be an extremely worthy selection- might block him) or Machado moves over to SS.

Hang on, how is Derek Jeter in the top five of the shortstop voting? Oh, right, because he’s Derek Jeter. Elvis Andrus‘ spot on top is extremely suspect, and probably the only big headscratcher of the bunch. I’d go with Jhonny Peralta here, by the way.

Mike Trout is the leading outfielder, with Adam Jones and Torii Hunter rounding it out and Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista and Nick Markakis looking in. Trout cannot be argued with, and the other two leaders aren’t bad selections either, but I feel like Bautista would be a better choice than them. Maybe. There are so many good OF that it’s hard to really complain about anything.

DH is David Ortiz. Good, that is the correct answer. Well, him or Mark Trumbo.

Presumably the NL’s early voting results come out tomorrow, so I’ll have my thoughts on them too.

The (AL) East is Wild

The American League East is in a interesting situation. For years, after all, there were some things that were for certain: The Yankees and Red Sox could be expected to come in first and second (sometimes flipping the order), the Blue Jays and sometimes Orioles would be a distant third, then the Orioles and Tampa would be taking the bottom two spots.
Then, suddenly, the Rays rose, becoming a factor. And so for the past few years, there were three teams in the AL East who could be expected to make a run at the playoffs.

And then came this past season, 2012, when everything went crazy. The Yankees still won, sure, but the Red Sox plummeted and the Orioles, despite the fact they were, on paper, maybe the fourth-best team in the division, ended up snagging a wild card spot. The Rays also were pretty good and made a good run at a playoff spot, and may well have gotten one if not for injuries.

But now, with the Red Sox again opening their checkbooks, and the Blue Jays having traded for basically every good player on the Marlins and now closing in on a deal for NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, the question is… where is the weakness of the AL East?

None of the teams have gotten particularly worse- although the Yankees may not have signed anybody of note (save for Kevin Youkilis) and they have Alex Rodriguez out for the first half of the season, they can hardly be considered to have suddenly plunged into irrelevance.  The Orioles haven’t really added anybody, but they’ve only lost Mark Reynolds, and most of last season’s historic bullpen will remain. The Rays have lost James Shields, but any rotation that has David Price and a lineup that has Evan Longoria is going to cause plenty of havoc in the standings.

The two teams that have added the most people- the Red Sox and Blue Jays- still have plenty of question marks. In Boston, for example, John Farrell will have to prove that his less-than-stellar performance as skipper in Toronto wasn’t just a result of the players he had available and the tough schedule he had to play. Toronto will have to avoid the injuries that devastated their pitching staff last season and integrate a bunch of new players into the team, all while also having the return of John Gibbons as manager. Gibbons had a sometimes tumultuous stint as Blue Jays’ manager from 2004 to 2008, and his hiring was something of a head-scratcher.

What does it all mean? It means that the AL East is a wild division, one with no clear favorite or clear unfavorite. It should be an interesting season in 2013.