Guest Blogger, Brad (aka Baseball Pastor) concludes his series on Faces of the Franchise, revealing the players who may always be locked in time in their team’s colors.  Is it possible to choose one player as the all-time “Face” of each MLB franchise? Certainly not without debate and sometimes vehement disagreement. Let’s discuss, argue, and enjoy some off-season baseball talk about the Faces of the Franchise, now with our focus on the National League East.

In the final installment of Faces of the Franchise, we move to the division of Hammers, Rocks, Doctors, and Wild-Card World Series winners.  The National League East features two longtime franchises, the Braves and the Phillies, along with three from the expansion era, the Mets, Expos/Nationals, and the Marlins.  Since it was organized as currently structured (1995), the NL East has won four World Series titles in eight appearances.  (Two of those titles were won by the Marlins, who have never won the division title).  Some of the faces are no-brainers (see: Atlanta). Others require some digging (see: Florida/Miami). Still, others require a change in uniform (see: Montreal/Washington).  Why end with the NL East? Well, there’s a reason my son is named Hank.

Important to know*: Wins above Replacement = approximate number of wins a player earned his team above the total estimated for an average replacement (AAA player); fWAR = Fangraphs Wins above Replacement; .000/.000/.000 = BA/OBP/SLG

For a reminder of the criteria, check out the post on the NL Central Faces.  Here they are.

Tom Seaver - MetsMETS:  TOM SEAVER | While the 1986 Mets were the greatest team in franchise history, it was Tom Terrific and the Amazin’ Mets that solidified them as legitimate in the eyes of New York fans.  Seaver’s numbers with the Mets: 198-124, 72 fWAR, 2.57 ERA, 7.5 K/9.  He dominated.  No one else put them on the map like he did.
Honorable Mention: Dwight Gooden.  Doc makes the list and might well be the face had it not been for causing his own demise.  His rookie and sophomore performances are nearly unparalleled in the game’s history.  Doc is the classic “what-if.”  Gary Carter.  The Kid didn’t play with the Mets for long, but he helped to bring balance and fun to the ’86 team that won it all.  He was the consummate professional and great teammate.  Darryl Strawberry.  Like Gooden, Straw caused his own downfall, but what a talent he was!  He was feared as a hitter as anyone in the NL during the mid-80s.

Tim Raines - ExposEXPOS/NATIONALS:  TIM RAINES | Rock Raines is one of the most underrated players of the past half-century.  All he did was produce, but some guy named Rickey stole the spotlight.  In his time with the Expos, Raines hit .301/.397/.437, along with 634 steals.  If he’s a poor man’s Rickey, I’ll be poor.
Honorable Mention: Gary Carter.  There’s no argument against Carter as the Face of this franchise.  He’s the franchise leader in career total production and was a proficient player in all aspects of the game.  Carter was also the first Expos’ Hall of Fame player.  Vladimir Guerrerro.  Those of a certain age remember that Vlad was the cornerstone of the up-and-coming Expos of the 90s.  He didn’t walk.  He didn’t strike out.  He just hit.  Everything.  Andre Dawson. The Hawk, along with Carter, is one of only two Expos’ Hall of Famers.  He was feared on offense and defense.

Mike Schmidt - PhilliesPHILLIES:  MIKE SCHMIDT | My favorite thing about Schmidt?  Not that he was the greatest third baseman of all time.  Not that he is the greatest player in Phillies history.  Not event that cool dance he did down the line on his 500th home run.  My favorite thing about his is that, when he could no longer perform like Mike Schmidt, he quit.  Mid-season.  Only someone great could do that.
Honorable Mention: Steve Carlton.  Lefty was the one bright spot for the Phillies until Schmidt arrived.  In a Philadelphia uniform, Carlton won over 240 games with a 3.09 ERA.  He cared about nothing but dominating on the mound.  And that he did like no other Phillies’ pitcher ever did.

Livan Hernandez - MarlinsMARLINS:  LIVAN HERNANDEZ | Honestly, who do you pick for the Marlins?  They’ve been around only since 1993.  Few players stick around after their routine fire sales.  Livan is my pick for his Eric-Gregg-aided performance in the 1997 playoffs, leading the Marlins to the first World Series title and fire sale.  But, really, the Marlins make me sick.  I don’t want to pick anyone for their Face.
Honorable Mention: Dontrelle Willis.  The leg kick.  The smile.  The flash-in-the-pan dominance.  What else symbolizes this franchise?  Gary Sheffield.  They paid him.  He tore the cover off the ball.  They won a World Series.  They traded him.  Marlins, defined.  (No, Jeff Conine can’t be the Face.  He stayed there too long).

Hank Aaron - BravesBRAVES:  HANK AARON | That’s right… saved the best for last.  He’s one of only four players with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.  He was perhaps the most consistent power hitter the game has ever seen.  And, few can imagine what he went through as an African American in pursuit of the all-time home run record.  At least, I can’t.  To show how revered he is, look no further than the refusal by many to accept Barry Bonds as the all-time home run champ.  The Hammer was and is a gentleman, an ambassador, and an all-time great talent.
Honorable Mention: Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews.  What if you were the best player at your position for years and no one knows it because you played with Hank Aaron?  Dale Murphy.  Why else did anyone watch the Braves in the 80s?  Oh, that’s right, there wasn’t anything else on.  Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine/John Smoltz.  They are inseparable and the collective driving force behind an unprecedented run of division dominance.

There you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I’m crazy?  Join the conversation on Twitter @BaseballPastor or email me brad {at} baseballpastor.com.

Note:  My young son sees it this way:  Seaver, Dawson, Schmidt, Josh Johnson, Aaron.

*All numbers above taken from www.fangraphs.com.

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