Few things are as exciting in baseball as a player charging the mound or seeing a punch being thrown. With COVID-19 preventing any contact between teams, bench-clearing brawls will be non-existent this season. However, we can still think about better times, by coming up with the all-time team that would kick the most ass in a fight. To qualify for this list, players must be a key figure in a fight which sadly means freak athletes like Bo Jackson cannot be included.
Pitcher – Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan is probably the easiest selection on this list if for no other reason than his annihilation of Robin Ventura at age 46. In 1993, Ventura charged Ryan after being hit by a pitch. Ryan immediately put him in a headlock and landed five punches before teammates arrived. This is one of the most lopsided fights in MLB history and serves as just another reminder of Nolan Ryan’s dominance.
Catcher – Jason Varitek
Outside of Boston, Jason Varitek is mostly known for being the guy to shove a glove in A-Rod’s face. That glorious moment from ’04 has since gone down as one of the most iconic fights in baseball and a key event in the Red Sox Yankees rivalry.
First Base – Pete Rose
Banned from Major League Baseball, Pete Rose has certainly had a controversial career as a player and manager. In the 1973 NLCS, a hard slide into second base by Rose started a vicious brawl between the Reds and Mets. While this is Rose’s most famous fight, he has many other altercations including separating catcher Ray Fosse’s shoulder in a collision at home plate.
Second Base – Rougned Odor
Odor only has one incident, but might be the biggest punch thrown in the history of baseball. In retaliation for a hard slide and a bat flip by Jose Bautista, Odor threw a fist and connected directly with Bautista’s face in a legendary moment.
Third Base – Graig Nettles
Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles has two notable incidents that could land him on this list. The first came in a 1976 brawl against the Red Sox. Nettles and pitcher Bill Lee got tangled up and Lee was left with a broken collarbone. In ’77 the Yankees faced the Royals in the ALCS and after a hard slide from George Brett, Nettles decided to kick him, starting yet another fight.
Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod is possibly one of the most hated players in MLB history, but undoubtedly has a fiery attitude. He was the counterpart to Jason Varitek in the fight mentioned above and managed to hold his own after the opening blow from Tek.
Left Field – Coco Crisp
This might be a bit of a stretch to include on the list, but as a Red Sox fan, I feel obligated to show Coco some love. In a 2008 game against the Rays, Coco was drilled with a pitch after a hard slide. He charged James Shields who threw a punch, but Crisp ducked it and threw a shot of his own in one of the coolest fight moments before getting swarmed by more Tampa Bay players.
Center Field – Ty Cobb
Unfortunately, no videos exist of a Ty Cobb fight, but he still deserves his spot on this list. Cobb is widely recognized as one of the dirtiest players of all time. He would frequently slide with his spikes up to break up plays and cause injuries. His most famous incident, however, involves a fight not with the opposing team, but with a fan in the stands. After being heckled all day with personal and demeaning comments, Cobb charged into the stands. He beat the fan to a pulp, earning himself a lengthy suspension. To make matters worse, the fan had recently lost his hands in an industrial accident, making the fight even more lopsided.
Right Field – Bryce Harper
The Phillies outfielder might have the hottest temper in the league. He is frequently ejected and always seems to be involved in altercations. One time he even fought his own teammate when Jonathan Papelbon went after him in the dugout. Still, Harper’s fight against Hunter Strickland is his most famous. After being drilled intentionally, Harper charged the mound, wildly threw his helmet, and proceeded to try and beat the crap out of Strickland. Love him or hate him, it is hard to say no to having Bryce Harper on your side for a fight.