Many coaches in Major League Baseball had playing careers. Some played for a long while, while some were there for just a cup of coffee. While there aren’t many former superstars that are on big-league coaching staffs now, there are plenty of guys who were solid contributors at the big league level. After going through every single coaching staff, we have come up with the best possible lineup of MLB coaches.
Catcher: Sandy Alomar Jr. –– Cleveland Guardians First Base Coach
A lot of catchers end up getting coaching jobs in some form. Alomar first served as the Mets catching instructor before spending time as the bench coach and first base coach in Cleveland.
As a player, Alomar was a mainstay as the Cleveland backstop during their success in the 1990s. He won Rookie of the Year in 1990, the same year he won his only Gold Glove. While he was only a career .273/.309/.409 (86 OPS+) hitter, he was a six-time All-Star and showed flashes of greatness with the bat. In 1997, Alomar hit .324/.354/.545 (128 OPS+) with 21 homers, 37 doubles, 83 RBIs, and 3.9 rWAR. Alomar also won All-Star Game MVP and finished 14th in AL MVP voting.
First Base: Don Mattingly –– Miami Marlins Manager
Mattingly is the best player in this lineup, and we can only imagine how great he could have been had it not been for injuries. Overall, he hit .307/.358/.471 (127 OPS+) 222 homers, 442 doubles, 1,099 RBIs, and 42.4 rWAR.
Mattingly was a six-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glover, and a three-time Silver Slugger. He won the American League batting title in 1984 and AL MVP in 1985. He led the majors in doubles three times, hits twice, total bases twice, and OPS and OPS+ each once. In 1987, Mattingly set an MLB record by hitting six grand slams and homered in eight consecutive games, tying Dale Long‘s record.
Unfortunately, Mattingly’s play declined significantly in 1990 and he was never able to replicate his play from earlier in his career. The Yankees opted not to bring him back after the 1995 season and he officially retired in 1997.
Second Base: Eric Young Sr. –– Atlanta Braves First Base Coach
E.Y. played for nine different teams in his 15-year MLB career after being drafted in the 43rd round by the Dodgers in 1989. While he wasn’t a superstar by any means, the five-foot-nine Young drew more walks than strikeouts and excelled at stealing bases. In 1996, Young was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger, batting .324/.393/.421 (98 OPS+) with an NL-leading 53 steals.
Overall, Young hit .283/.359/.390 (92 OPS+) with 1,793 hits, 18.8 rWAR, and 465 steals. In this lineup, he would slot in well at the top of the order.
Third Base: Aaron Boone –– New York Yankees Manager
A third-generation big leaguer, Boone played for six teams in his 12-year career. He finished his career with 13.6 rWAR, 126 homers, 216 doubles, and a respectable .263/.326./.426 (94 OPS+) batting line. In 2003, Boone was an All-Star, and hit one of the most iconic homers in MLB history.
Shortstop: Craig Counsell –– Milwaukee Brewers Manager
While he wasn’t a great hitter, Counsell had an iconic batting stance and was a fantastic defensive second baseman and shortstop, which helped him rack up 22.4 rWAR. Counsell’s most productive season came in 2005, when he recorded a whopping 30 DRS and 5.5 rWAR. Counsell was also a two-time World Series champion and won NLCS MVP in 2001.
Left Field: Delino DeShields, Cincinnati Reds First Base Coach
Finding a left fielder for this lineup was very difficult, which forces DeShields, who primarily played second base, to be the left fielder. DeShields is mainly known for getting traded for Pedro Martinez, but he was a solid big leaguer. Just like E.Y., DeShields was a speedster who got on base a lot and could slot in as a top-of-the-order bat. He finished his career with a .268/.352/.377 (98 OPS+) batting line, 24.4 rWAR, and 463 steals.
Centerfield: Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins Manager
Baldelli was drafted sixth overall by the Devil Rays in 2000, and his career got off to a promising start. In 2003 he became the team’s everyday centerfielder and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting.
In 2005 though, Baldelli suffered a torn ACL and then an elbow injury that required Tommy John Surgery. He bounced back nicely when he returned in the middle of the 2006 season, hitting .302/.339/.532 (122 OPS+) with 16 homers, 24 doubles, 10 steals, 57 RBIs, and 3.2 rWAR. Unfortunately, Baldelli suffered from a number of medical conditions starting in 2007. In 2011, Baldelli retired at the age of 29.
Right Field: Dusty Baker, Houston Astros Manager
Before his storied managerial career, Dusty Baker was a pretty good big-league player. He hit .278/.347/.432 (116 OPS+) with 242 homers, 320 doubles, 137 steals, and 37.0 rWAR. Baker was a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger while also collecting a Gold Glove and a World Series ring in 1981. He also received MVP votes three times, finishing as high as fourth in voting.
Designated Hitter: Kevin Seitzer, Atlanta Braves Hitting Coach
An 11th round pick by the Royals in 1983, Seitzer was a bright spot on some middling Kansas City teams. In 1987, Seitzer was an All-Star and led the AL in hits while finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting and even garnering some MVP votes. He spent six years in Kansas City before getting released in 1992.
After a couple rough seasons, Seitzer found his groove again with the Brewers, making another All-Star Game in 1995. He finished his career with a .295/.375/.404 (111 OPS+) batting line, 74 homers, 285 doubles, and 28.9 rWAR, while also drawing more walks than strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher: Mark Prior, Los Angeles Dodgers Pitching Coach
Mark Prior‘s MLB career was brief, but he was electrifying when he was healthy. In 2003, Prior turned in a stellar 2.43 ERA/2.47 FIP (179 ERA+) and a 1.103 WHIP with 245 strikeouts in 211.1 innings (10.4 K/9). He was an All-Star while finishing third in Cy Young voting and ninth in MVP voting. Prior though suffered a number of injuries in the following years and didn’t pitch in the majors after his age-26 season in 2006.
Closer: Andrew Bailey, San Francisco Giants Pitching Coach
For a brief period of time, Andrew Bailey was one of the best closers in MLB. In 2009, Bailey was an All-Star and won AL Rookie of the Year, recording 25 saves with a 1.84 ERA/2.56 FIP, a 0.876 WHIP, and 91 strikeouts in 83.1 innings (9.8 K/9). While his strikeout rate dropped in 2010, Bailey was an All-Star again, turning in a 1.47 ERA/2.96 FIP and a 0.959 WHIP while racking up 25 saves.
Bailey had another solid year in 2011, but he was traded to the Red Sox following the season. After battling shoulder problems, Bailey had a brief resurgence while getting some closing reps with the Angels in 2016. His shoulder problems resurfaced in 2017 though, which ultimately ended his career. Overall, he had 95 saves, a 3.12 ERA/3.47 FIP, a 1.104 WHIP, and 276 strikeouts in 274.1 innings (9.1 K/9).
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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images