What would it look like if you put together a baseball team of MLB players from Virginia. Trey Lyle and I discussed that on today's episode of the Foul Ball Area podcast.
There are some pretty good ballplayers from the Commonwealth, including one Hall of Famer and at least one future Hall of Famer. Some positions are full of talent from our state, and some were a little more bare. Once we put this whole team together, I thought we did a pretty good job; if you compiled this team with every player in their prime, it would be a pretty competitive group of players.
Trey and I agreed on most of our choices for the All-Virginia team, but there were a couple of positions where we had different picks. Read on to see who we chose for the team.
Catcher: Todd Hundley
Todd Hundley played in Major League Baseball from 1990 to 2003, spending most of his career with the New York Mets. He was a two-time All-Star, and finished his career batting .234 with 2020 home runs. A native of Martinsville, his father Randy also had a respectable MLB career in the 1960s and 70s.
First Baseman: Ryan Zimmerman
Zimmerman was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Virginia and attended UVA. The first draft pick in Nationals' history, he made his debut in 2005 and has been a constant for Washington ever since. He's a two-time All-Star, a Gold Glover and Silver Slugger winner and a World Series champion. Zimmerman owns a career .279 batting average with 270 home runs.
Matt's Second Baseman: Charlie Pick
Pick was born in Brookneal in 1888. He had a six-year MLB career, finishing with a .261 batting average and 86 RBIs.
Trey's Second Baseman: Paul Hines
Hines played baseball from 1872 to 1891, playing for the Providence Grays, Chicago Cubs and White Sox, among other teams. He is credited with winning baseball's first Triple Crown in 1878, when he batted .358 with four home runs and 50 RBIs.
Third Baseman: David Wright
There's really no other choice when it comes to third basemen from Virginia. A native of Norfolk, Wright is a seven-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. He boasts a career .296 average and 242 home runs. There's a chance we could see him enshrined in Cooperstown one day.
Shorstop: Gene Alley
A native of Richmond, Alley played for the Pirates form 1963 to 1973. He was a two-time All-Star and won two Gold Gloves in Pittsburgh, while also helping the Pirates to the 1971 World Series title. Alley finished his career with a .254 batting average and 342 RBIs.
Outfielder: Justin Upton
Upton is another native of Norfolk, and he actually played travel ball with Wright, Zimmerman and fellow Major Leaguer Mark Reynolds growing up. In his 13 seasons so far, he's been an All-Star four times and won three Silver Sluggers. He's got 298 home runs and 937 RBIs to his name, with many more sure to come.
Outfielder: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Bradley is a native of Richmond who attended high school in Prince George, Va. After playing college ball at South Carolina, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox, where he's been an All-Star, Gold Glove winner and 2018 ALCS MVP.
Matt's Outfielder: Michael Cuddyer
The Tidewater region really cranks out those athletes. Cuddyer grew up in Norfolk and played high school baseball at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, the same school Upton would attend a few years later. Cuddyer was a two-time All-Star and won a batting title during his 15-year career. He finished with a .277 average and 197 home runs for the Twins, Rockies and Mets.
Trey's Outfielder: Willie Horton
Born in the small, Southwest Virginia town of Arno, Horton attended high school in Detroit, where he would go on to play for the Tigers from 1963 to 1977. Horton was a four-time All-Star and a World Series champion, finishing his career with a .273 average and 325 home runs.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander
There's no arguing with this one. Born and raised in Manakin-Sabot in Goochland County, Verlander is arguably the best pitcher of his generation and one of the greatest of all-time. He's an eight-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young Winner, Rookie of the Year, MVP, Triple Crown winner and World Series champion. In 15 seasons, he boasts a 3.33 ERA and 3,006 strikeouts, and he's only getting better. Just last year at 36 years old he won 21 games, led the league in innings pitched and had a 2.58 ERA.
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner
Another position where there's no doubt about who to choose, Wagner is one of the greatest closers in MLB history. Wagner was born in Marion and played high school ball at Tazewell High before attending Ferrum College. In his 16-year career, most of which was spent with the Houston Astros, Wagner posted a 2.31 ERA with 422 saves, sixth on the all-time list. He was a seven-time All-Star and won the Rolaids Reliever of the Year in 1999.
Honorable Mention: Eppa Rixey
Rixey is second all-time among players from Virginia in career WAR, trailing only Verlander. He's also the only Virginia native to be enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame, so we couldn't leave him off the list. With a career that spanned from 1912 to 1933, Rixey finished with a .515 winning percentage, a 3.15 ERA and 1,350 strikeouts.
While he's the only current Virginia player in Cooperstown you can bet some of the names on this list will join him soon.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.