Sensing that a championship was within his team’s grasp, Springfield power plant owner C. Montgomery Burns did what any title-hungry executive would do – go out and hire nine Major League ringers to ensure the crown comes back to Springfield.
Or rather, that’s exactly what he had Waylon Smithers, his assistant, do in the “Homer at the Bat” episode of the classic animated comedy series The Simpsons, which debuted on February 20, 1992.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an easy task for Smithers, considering that all of Burns’ originally desired ringers (including Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown and Honus Wagner) were dead. So instead, Smithers went out and secured nine living MLB All-Stars – not bad for an office assistant-turned-GM.
In case you’re curious, here is what the lineup would have looked like in 1992 (with the player’s 1991 stats nearby):
- Steve Sax, 2B – .304/.345/.414, 10 HR, 56 RBI
- Wade Boggs, 3B – .322/.421/.460, 8 HR, 51 RBI
- Darryl Strawberry, RF – .265/.361/.491, 28 HR, 99 RBI
- Jose Canseco, LF – .266/.359/.556, 44 HR, 122 RBI
- Don Mattingly, 1B – .288/.339/.394, 9 HR, 68 RBI
- Ken Griffey Jr., CF – .327/.399/.527, 22 HR, 100 RBI
- Mike Scioscia, C – .264/.353/.391, 8 HR, 40 RBI
- Ozzie Smith, SS – .285/.380/.367, 3 HR, 50 RBI
- Roger Clemens, P – 18-10, 2.62 ERA, 241 K, 1.05 WHIP, 13 CG
There aren’t too many holes in this lineup, although Burns definitely has some questions to answer with regard to lineup construction.
Specifically, why on Earth is Mattingly batting ahead of Griffey when he was coming off a season in which he hit for less power and average than the star center fielder? Also, why not DH for Clemens? The long-time Boston Red Sox ace had a grand total of five plate appearances heading into 1992 – all of which came during the 1986 World Series.
Questions … we, uh, have them.
So, what would a roster look like today?
Well, Banished to the Bullpen’s Ken Maeda takes a look at how Burns and Smithers might have fielded a 2017 roster, and it’s a team loaded with All-Stars Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and others.
Oh! You want to know what we think it would look like? How nice of you to ask.
First, Burns would need a new rival owner to replace Aristotle Amadopoulos, the owner of the Shelbyville plant. That owner has to be Mark Cuban, who could use the Shelbyville nine to prepare for a potential run at Major League ownership.
As for Burns’ lineup …
We were thinking something like:
- Mike Trout, CF – One transcendent star replaces another with Trout taking the reins from Griffey in center field.
- Bryce Harper, RF – This team needs someone to perform through the jeers of opposing fans, like Strawberry did for the Springfield squad. No player embraces a challenge like Harper.
- Kris Bryant, LF – The 2016 MVP has a right-handed swing built for socking softballs over the fence, and plays sneaky good outfield when asked.
- Joey Votto, 1B – The one position that could have used a clear upgrade gets it in the form of baseball’s most cerebral left-handed hitter.
- Gary Sanchez, C – Because every softball team needs a catcher who homers once every 10 at-bats.
- Jose Altuve, 2B – You haven’t played company softball until you’ve played against a guy who doesn’t look like he can hit it out of the infield, who actually can clear the fences with ease
- Francisco Lindor, SS – Replacing Ozzie Smith calls for a slick-fielding middle infielder, but one with plus hitting tools.
- Adrian Beltre, 3B – Like Boggs, Beltre would be the veteran presence at third base with a steady bat, reliable glove, and an infectious personality.
- Max Scherzer, P – Hard-throwing right-hander in the prime of his career with multiple no-hitters to his name.
If this team took the field in 2017, Springfield would have absolutely nothing to fear. Who would you have on your team?
And what terrible catastrophes would befall each of this year’s big leaguers, a la the famous crew from the Simpson episode? Francisco Lindor touches Adrian Beltre’s head and gets squashed? Jose Altuve falls into a crack in the sidewalk? Mike Trout gets crushed by giant weights on his shoulders?