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Meet the all-time NL All-Stars

With the 80th Midsummer Classic approaching next Tuesday in St. Louis, I have chosen my all-time All-Star teams, starting with the National League and continuing with the American League on Friday. But here's the catch -- I had to do the following:

• Construct a 33-man roster for each team, much like today's All-Star rosters.

• Choose at least one player from every team in every city: at least one Atlanta Brave, but also at least one Milwaukee Brave and at least one Boston Brave. So instead of 33 slots spread among 16 teams -- like in the "real" game -- we have 21 NL teams: the current 16 clubs, plus the two previous Braves teams, the Montreal Expos, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.

• Pick players who were All-Stars and had great seasons while with the team in question since the All-Star Game began in 1933.

And finally, because this is an All-Star Game, science can take us only so far. Trevor Hoffman might not be one of the 10 greatest National League pitchers since 1933, but I want him on the team anyway.

CATCHERS

Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds (1972)

All-Star Games: 14 (1968-80, 1983)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1989

Bench won his second MVP in three years and was an All-Star for fifth of 13 straight years … all at the tender age of 24.

Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers (1953)

All-Star Games: 8 (1949-56)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1969

Campanella won three MVP awards, but this one takes the cake because of those league-leading 142 RBIs (not to mention the homers).

Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers (1997)

All-Star Games: 12 (1993-2002, '04-05)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2013

In fifth of 12 All-Star seasons, Piazza batted .362 to set L.A. Dodgers and NL catcher records; lost MVP to Larry Walker.


FIRST BASEMEN

Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros (1996)

All-Star Games: 4 (1994, '96-97, '99)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2011

Sure, he slugged .750 and won the MVP in '94 … but that was only four months. In '96 he played 162 games and did everything well.

Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies (2003)

All-Star Games: 5 (2000-04)
Hall of Fame: Active

Superficially not as impressive as 2000, but by '03 Coors Field had settled down some and Helton still put up the big numbers.

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (2009)

All-Star Games: 8 (2001, '03-09)
Hall of Fame: Active

Too early? Perhaps. But let's not miss the fact that Pujols is heading toward the best season of his already incredible career.


SECOND BASEMEN

Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds (1975)

All-Star Games: 10 (1966, '70, '72-79)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1990

Good luck choosing between Morgan's '75 and '76 seasons, as he was a Gold Glove winner and NL Most Valuable Player in both years.

Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers (1949)

All-Star Games: 6 (1949-54)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1962

Hit his stride in third full season (and first as everyday second baseman), winning MVP honors as Dodgers took pennant by one game.

Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs (1984)

All-Star Games: 10 (1984-93)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2005

After two relatively modest seasons, Ryno exploded in '84 and earned -- along with an MVP award -- his first of 10 straight All-Star nods.


SHORTSTOPS

Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds (1996)

All-Star Games: 12 (1988-91, '93-2000, '04)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2010

Oddly, fared much better in MVP voting in '95, but he played better in '96, with career highs in homers and slugging percentage.

Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (1987)

All-Star Games: 15 (1980-92, '94-96)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2002

He's a 15-time All-Star, and Ozzie's brilliant '87 campaign came in the midst of his 12-year All-Star streak and 13-year Gold Glove streak.

Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh Pirates (1935)

All-Star Games: 9 (1934-42)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1985 (Veterans Committee)

It's a shame that so few remember this nine-time All-Star who led the NL in walks and on-base percentage for three years running.


THIRD BASEMEN

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (2001)

All-Star Games: 6 (1996-98, 2000-01, '08)
Hall of Fame: Active

Bizarrely enough, Chipper wasn't an All-Star during his MVP season (1999), but he was plenty good two years later (among others).

Eddie Mathews, Milwaukee Braves (1953)

All-Star Games: 12 (1953, '55-62)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1978

At only 21, Mathews topped National League with 47 homers; nine-time All-Star would have many more fine seasons, but none quite like this.

Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies (1980)

All-Star Games: 12 (1974, '76-77, '79-84, '86-87, '89)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1995

Leaving aside his Triple Crown stats, Schmidt came up with another Triple Crown of sorts: Gold Glove, NL MVP, World Series MVP.


OUTFIELDERS

Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Braves (1963)

All-Star Games: 25 (1955-75)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1982

Choosing Aaron's best season is like choosing Pollock's best painting; they all sort of look the same. We'll go with Hank's 31 steals.

Wally Berger, Boston Braves (1935)

All-Star Games: 4 (1933-36)
Hall of Fame: Not elected

Probably better in '33 -- when he started inaugural All-Star Game -- but extra credit for driving in 130 runs in '35 for 115-loss team.

Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (2001)

All-Star Games: 14 (1990, '92-98, 2000-04, '07)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2013

With 73 home runs, 137 RBIs and 177 walks, Bonds opened a four-season run the likes of which nobody had ever seen.

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (2009)

All-Star Games: 2 (2008-09)
Hall of Fame: Active

Before this year, walks were the only thing missing from Braun's game, but now he's doing that, too; already a two-time All-Star.

Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres (1997)

All-Star Games: 15 (1984-'87, '89-99)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2007

Gwynn didn't have a lot of great seasons, but this was certainly one of them, thanks to career-high doubles and homers.

Willie Mays, New York Giants (1954)

All-Star Games: 24 (1954-73)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1979

Mays gives us many seasons from which to choose, but we're using his legendary World Series catch as our tiebreaker here.

Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals (1948)

All-Star Games: 24 (1943-44, '46-63)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1969

Led the NL in just about every category that mattered, and could play any of the three outfield positions more than adequately.

Tim Raines, Montreal Expos (1985)

All-Star Games: 7 (1981-87)
Hall of Fame: Not elected

Two years later, in the last of Raines' seven All-Star Games, he went 3-for-3 and drove in winning runs with 13th-inning triple.


PITCHERS

Kevin Brown, Florida Marlins (1996)

All-Star Games: 6 (1992, '96-98, 2000, '03)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2011

He won only 17 games and didn't have a chance against Smoltz (24-8) for the Cy Young, but Brown's ERA was more than a run lower.

Steve Carlton, Philadelphia Phillies (1972)

All-Star Games: 10 (1968-69, '71-72, '74, '77, '79-82)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1994

How do you win 27 games when your team wins only 59? Among all the great pitchers who have pitched, only Carlton knows for sure.

Chad Cordero, Washington Nationals (2005)

All-Star Games: 1 (2005)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible

In second full season (and first as closer), Cordero topped NL with 47 saves and struck out Pudge Rodriguez in his All-Star stint.

Dwight Gooden, New York Mets (1985)

All-Star Games: 4 (1984-86, '88)
Hall of Fame: Not elected

He was only 20, but 20 was old enough to post the lowest ERA in the majors since Bob Gibson's 1.12 in the Year of the Pitcher

Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres (1998)

All-Star Games: 6 (1998-2000, '02, '06-07)
Hall of Fame: Active

All-time saves leader got a good chunk of them in '98, employing signature changeup to set NL single-season record.

Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks (2001)

All-Star Games: 10 (1990, '93-95, '97, '99-2002, '04)
Hall of Fame: Active

In addition to the amazing numbers, the Unit also won his third straight Cy Young and beat the Yankees three times in World Series.

Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers (1966)

All-Star Games: 7 (1961-66)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1972

Nobody's ever gone out on top like this, as Koufax's last season was his best; became second NLer with three pitcher's triple crowns

Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves (1995)

All-Star Games: 8 (1988, '92, '94-98, 2000)
Hall of Fame: Not eligible until 2014

In strike-shortened season, Maddux became first pitcher to win four straight Cy Young Awards (a feat later equaled, but not exceeded).

Tom Seaver, New York Mets (1969)

All-Star Games: 12 (1967-73, '75-78, '81)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1992

With mound lowered, everybody's ERA went up … except Seaver's; he duplicated his '68 figure and won 25 games to lead the Amazin's.

Warren Spahn, Milwaukee Braves (1953)

All-Star Games: 17 (1947, '49-54, '56-59, '61-63)
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1973

Won at least 20 games in a dozen seasons but won 23 just once; he earned them with a league-best ERA and 24 complete games.