"The Guy": MLB Edition (Part 2 - National League)

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

In professional wrestling, there is “The Guy.” He (or she, if you currently follow the WWE – hey, Becky Lynch!) is the face of the brand. In the same way, professional sports franchises have at least one player who the epitome of what that franchise is, the player who means so much to the franchise that if you say that franchise’s name, they are the first that comes to mind. 

He is “The Guy.”

Every list is subjective is subjective and this one is no exception. This list take a look “The Guy” for every franchise in the National League. 

Arizona Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo was a journeyman in his career before being traded from the Tigers to the D-Backs in 1999. He found a permanent home in the Arizona lineup, leading the league in hits. In 2001, he hit 57 HR and hit the single that scored the winning run game seven of the World Series. Gonzalez is the franchise career leader in runs, HR, and batting average. 

Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks. Though he never won a World Series, Banks is synonymous with the franchise that plays at the corner of Addison and Waveland. “Mr. Cub” spent every year of his 19-year career with the Cubs, winning the batting title twice and leading the league in HR twice. Banks also won the league MVP twice and was nominated 14 times as an all-star. 

Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose. “Charlie Hustle” started his Major League career in 1963 and won Rookie of the Year. As part of the “Big Red Machine” in the 1970’s, he was part of a Reds team that won four National League pennants and two World Series tiles. After leaving the team in 1980, he rejoined the Reds in 1984 and finished his career in 1986 as the Major League career hits leader. 

Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton. Helton replaced Andres Galarraga in the lineup at first base in 1998. After winning Rookie of the Year, Helton went on become one of the best power hitters in the league. His best season was in 2000 when he led the NL in hits, OBP, total bases, and extra base hits as he chased the Triple Crown. Helton holds the franchise record in HR, doubles, and total bases. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Jackie Robinson. Robinson became the first black baseball player to enter the Major Leagues in 1947 after reintegration from the Negro Leagues. He won Rookie of the Year that season and two seasons later, won only his only batting title and league MVP. He became the first and only player to have his number retired by Major League Baseball when #42 was retired in 1997. 

Miami (Florida) Marlins: Jeff Conine. Conine started his career in Kansas City, but was taken by the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft. He spent five seasons with the club and helped the Marlins win the World Series in 1997. After being traded back to Kansas City and then Baltimore, he was traded the Marlins in 2003 in time to win their second championship. Conine holds the franchise record with six grand slams. 

Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount. Yount was the third overall pick in 1973, a draft that features three Hall of Famers and 18 All-Stars. He’s the last Major Leaguer to hit a home run at the age of 18 and played the most games before age 20. Yount lead the AL in hits and total bases in 1982 on his way to winning the first of his two MVP awards. He is the franchise career leader in games, runs, and RBIs. 

David Wright (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
New York Mets: David Wright. Wright made his Major League debut in July 2004 and would go on to enjoy a stellar career. Wright spent his entire career in Queens, earning two Silver Slugger and two Gold Glove awards in repeat seasons (2007, 2008). He was elected to the All-Star team seven times and was elected team captain in 2013. Wright retired in 2018 as the franchise leader in RBIs, doubles, and extra base hits.

Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt. Schmidt entered the league during the late part of the 1972 season and became the Phils’ full-time third baseman in 1973. He led the National League in HR eight times in 17 seasons. His power numbers are ridiculous: in the course of his career, Schmidt hit 30 or more HR 13 times and registered 100 or more RBIs eight times. Schmidt also won World Series MVP in 1980. 

Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente. Clemente debuted with the Pirates in 1955 and became a key component in their lineup for 18 seasons. He was selected as an All-Star 15 times between 1960 and 1972. He was named NL MVP in 1966 and helped the Pirates win the World Series in 1960 and 1971. He was the first Latin American and Caribbean player elected into the Hall of Fame in 1973. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Bob Gibson. Gibson originally started his pitching career in the bullpen, but became a rotation regular in 1962. Gibson earned nine All-Star selections in his career. He won the NL MVP and Cy Young Award in 1968, posting a 1.12 ERA and 22 wins, 13 by shutout. In his career, he posted 20 or more wins five times and 200 or more strikeouts eight times. 

San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn. Gwynn is arguably the greatest hitter of the modern era, dominating the hitting category in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Gwynn won the batting title eight times in his career and hit over .300 19 times during his career, both National League records. In addition to his offensive prowess, Gwynn was also known for his glove, winning the Gold Glove five times. 

San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays. Mays is one of the greatest offensive players in baseball history. “The Say Hey Kid” helped the Giants win the World Series in 1954. He continued his tenure with the Giants when they moved to San Francisco in 1958 and finished his career with the Mets in 1973. Mays was a 24-time All-Star and hit 660 HR. He’s also one of only 18 players to hit four HR in a game. 

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper. Although he recently signed with Philadelphia, Harper helped turn the fortunes of the Nationals when he joined them in 2012. He was voted MVP in 2015 when he led the league in HR, runs, and OPS+. Harper has been named an All-Star six times of his career, won a Silver Slugger in 2015, and helped the Nationals make the playoffs in four of his six seasons with the team.

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