With the All-Star break in full swing, we wanted to make our MLB picks for the best starting lineup in the history of the National League East.
There are no specific criteria to make the list, but we are looking for a guy who played a good chunk of his career in the division and won a few pennants or awards.
With legendary teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres, choosing just one player at each position was challenging.
Let’s review the best NL West players in history at each position without further ado.
Catcher: Roy Campanella – Dodgers
Less than a year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the Brooklyn Dodgers added catcher Roy Campanella. He was already 26 then but was named to the ML All-Star Team in his second season and quickly elevated himself to superstar status.
“Campy” and Yogi Berra are the only two catchers in history with three MVP awards. Campanella was also an eight-time All-Star in the MLB and three-time All-Star in the Negro League. He won the NL RBI title in 1953 and the NL batting title in 1945.
His tenure in the MLB was tragically shortened due to a car accident that paralyzed him in 1957.
Honorable Mention: Buster Posey
1B: Todd Helton – Rockies
While shockingly not in the Hall of Fame, Todd Helton was one of the most dominant offensive and defense players at first base in MLB history as a member of the Colorado Rockies. For those that say his offensive numbers were inflated, let’s just take a look at these numbers away from Coors Field.
In 4,612 at-bats on the road, Helton slashed .287/.386/.469 with 142 home runs and .855 OPS. His OPS on the road is better than many HOF inductees’ career numbers, including Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn, and Al Kaline. His road OBP, meanwhile, ranks higher than guys like Willie Mays, Vlad Guerrero, Derek Jeter, and many other legends.
Now mix in his stats at Coors, and tell me why Helton is still not getting the votes necessary for HOF induction.
Helton was a five-time All-star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and four-time Silver Slugger award winner and led the MLB in batting once and RBIs once.
Honorable Mention: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Jackie Robinson – Dodgers
There are entire museums dedicated to the life and accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, and it would be a disgrace to American history to have anyone not named Jackie Robinson listed here.
The all-time legend not only made a huge difference to the course of U.S. history by breaking the color barrier, he also kicked a whole lot of butt when on the field.
Robinson was elected to six All-Star teams despite the racist negativity swirling around the league when he first entered. He also won the MLB Rookie of the Year, the NL MVP, and a World Series in 1955. Robinson was also known for his speed and twice led the NL in swipes.
Robinson also fought for the U.S. as a second lieutenant in the 761st Tank Battalion of the AS Army.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Kent
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki – Rockies
You can argue til you are blue in the face, but the fact is that Troy Tulowitzki had the skill to be one of the greatest players in MLB history before his body let him down.
If you look at his career highlights, they do not stack up against the other names on this list. Tulo never won an MVP or a World Series, never led the league in anything meaningful, and saw his production drop drastically toward the end of his career. But this is a list of who I’d want as a starting lineup for one game, not a whole season.
I can’t think of anyone in the history of the NL West I’d rather have staring at shortstop than a healthy Tulo.
Despite his chronic injuries, Tulo did earn five All-Star appearances and twice won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. I have no doubt he would have won the MVP in 2014 if not for injury as well, with a .340 batting average and 21 home runs through 91 games.
Honorable Mention: Pee Wee Reese
3B: Nolan Arenado – Rockies
The fact that Arenado is on this list and still active is a big deal. Most of the names here are legends and Hall of Famers, but Arenado is only 32 and coming into his physical prime. I understand if you are shocked at this choice, but Arenado has been getting disrespected by fans and pundits for most of his career. Just look at this tweet listing him as the fifth-best 3B currently playing.
As a two-way player, Nolan Arenado was a key factor all year for St. Louis and comes in as the #⃣5⃣ Third Baseman on our #Top10RightNow list.
— MLB Now (@MLBNow) January 20, 2023
In 10 MLB seasons, Arenado has been voted to eight All-Star Games, won an absolutely ridiculous 10 straight Gold Glove Awards and Five Silver Slugger titles. Arenado is also the owner of six straight NL Platinum Glove awards for the best fielder in any position. Arenado is so insanely good on defense; he is winning awards I have never heard of, like the Fielding Bible Award and Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.
The guy can hit, too, with a career .288 average and 318 home runs.
Please find four third basemen better than him in history, let alone the current crop of players. I’ll wait. If I had to make an MLB bet, you might find one or two in the last 100 years who could touch his abilities at the hot corner.
Honorable Mention: Manny Machado
LF: Barry Bonds – Giants
I am begrudgingly adding Barry Bonds to this list because, even without the ‘roids, he was still a great player. Home runs aside, Bonds could ball and never needed a needle to become a superstar. Now he’s lucky if he ever makes the HOF in his lifetime.
But this article is all about my starting lineup for an All-Star game. And if my goal is to win, give me juiced-up Bonds all day.
With a little help, Bonds was 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger, seven-time MVP, two-time NL batting champion, and two-time NL Home Run leader.
I can stomach Bonds here because he was arguably a better defender than hitter with eight Gold Llove awards in left field.
Honorable Mention: Luis Gonzalez
CF: Willie Mays – Giants
Everyone has their own opinions about who the best player in MLB history was, but if their answer isn’t Willie Mays, they are wrong. I won’t deny the greatness of others like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron or Stan Musial, but there can be only one GOAT – and Mays is my guy.
Mays was selected to 24 All-Star Games, won the NL Rookie of the Year and MVP honors twice. His fielding was unmatched, earning him 12 straight Gold Glove awards from 1957 to 1968.
“The Say Hey Kid” also led the NL in stolen bases four times, was the NL batting champion in 1954, a four-time home run champion, and once hit four home runs in a single game.
My favorite part of Mays’ story is that, at 92, he is still alive and sharing stories about his epic years in the MLB.
Honorable Mention: Duke Snider
RF: Mookie Betts – Dodgers
Mookie Betts may only have two seasons of play in the NL West, but I think he deserves to be a member of this starting lineup nonetheless.
Mookie is barely 30 and already etched his name among the great to play this game as a member of the Red Sox and Dodgers. He led both to World Series titles and still has a decade left in the tank.
In eight seasons, Betts was a seven-time All-Star, a six-time Gold Glove, and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and was the AL MVP in 2018 with the BoSox. He is a member of the 30-30 club, hit for the cycle once, and has a career batting average of .292 with 239 home runs.
If he retired today, he’d be a hall of Famer, but Betts is only just getting started.
Honorable Mention: Larry Walker
SP: Randy Johnson – Diamondbacks
The Freak spent a lot of time on the Seattle Mariners, but his accomplishments with the Diamondbacks between 1999 and 2004 are good enough to add him here. Nobody cast a shadow over the plate quite like Johnson did.
Johnson was a 10-time All-Star, won five Cy Young Awards, led the MLB in ERA four times, and pitched a perfect game and no-hitter along the way. He also won the rare triple crown for pitching in 2002.
Honorable Mentions: Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax
RP: Trevor Hoffman – Padres
Before there was Mariano Rivera, the most dominant reliever in the MLB was Trevor Hoffman. While the two were contemporaries, Hoffman retired as the all-time leader in saves and led the NL twice.
He still holds the record for career saves in the NL, most consecutive seasons with 40+ saves, most seasons with 40+ saves, most strikeouts per nine innings by a reliever, and most career games pitched with a single NL team (San Diego).
Honorable Mentions: Joe Nathan