Dave Roberts constructs a lineup of SoCal legends for simulated I-5 series

·5 min read

Dave Roberts and Gabe Kapler were supposed to exchange lineup cards at Dodger Stadium in March before their clubs, historic rivals, took the field on Opening Day. Instead, as the coronavirus pandemic keeps the 2020 MLB season on hold, the managers had to wait until Tuesday morning to reveal a lineup to each other — with a twist.

They exchanged lineups virtually on a Zoom call from their homes without any members of the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers or 2020 San Francisco Giants in them. The lineups featured stars of yesteryear. On one side, Roberts constructed a lineup of legends from Southern California. On the other, Kapler put together a stacked crew from Northern California.

The managers were given 34-man rosters as chosen with 100,000 votes from readers of the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. Each player was specific to the one season determined to be his statistically best season. The rosters will compete in a computer simulated American Professional Baseball Assn. (APBA) seven-game series — the Golden Greats: I-5 Series — starting Tuesday. Giants play-by-play broadcaster Jon Miller will call the games.

APBA is a board game released in 1951 utilizing statistical probability to re-create MLB games. Originally a dice game, it can now be played online.

Roberts and Kapler were instructed to choose one player at each position, a designated hitter, and a three-man starting rotation. Some choices were easy. Others weren’t.

Creating a lineup nowadays depends on the opponent’s starting pitcher — which arm he throws with, his arsenal, and velocity. So that’s where they started — after Roberts lost a coin toss for home field advantage. Roberts chose Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale from the 1964 season, when he went 18-16 with a 2.18 ERA and 237 strikeouts in a league-high 321 innings. He named Walter Johnson his Game 2 starter and Jim Palmer for Game 3.

Kapler countered with Randy Johnson from the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks. The left-hander went 24-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 334 strikeouts in 260 innings. He led the majors in wins, innings and strikeouts while topping the National League in ERA. Kapler chose Tom Seaver for Game 2 and C.C. Sabathia for Game 3.

From there, Roberts built a lineup he thought would best handle Johnson’s overpowering stuff in Game 1. Roberts noted his toughest choice was at third base, where he selected 2017 Nolan Arenado over 1980 George Brett.

The left-handed-hitting Brett batted .390 that year, but Arenado’s elite defense and success against left-handers in 2017 — he posted a 1.313 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers — gave him the edge. Roberts said Brett would be in the lineup in Game 2 against Seaver.

Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith didn’t make the starting lineup, but Roberts said he would enter Game 1 as a late defensive replacement for Nomar Garciaparra.

As for the bullpen, Roberts said he’d choose Trevor Hoffman, a former teammate, to close games over Rollie Fingers. Hoffman had a 1.48 ERA and 53 saves for the San Diego Padres in 1998. Fingers joins Bret Saberhagen, Bert Blyleven, Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, and Bob Lemon as the bridge to the ninth inning.


Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson (Curt Gunther / Getty Images)

1. Jackie Robinson 2B, 1949 Dodgers

.342 BA*/.432 OBP/.528 SLG, 16 HR, 37 SB*, NL MVP

2. Ted Williams LF, 1941 Red Sox

.406 BA*/.553 OBP*/.735 SLG*, 37 HR*, 147 BB*

3. Eddie Murray 1B, 1982 Orioles

.316 BA/.391 OBP/.549 SLG, 32 HR, 18 IBB*, Gold Glove

4. Mark McGwire DH, 1998 Cardinals

.299 BA/.470 OBP*/.752 SLG*, 70 HR*, 162 BB*

5. Nomar Garciaparra SS, 2000 Red Sox

.372 BA*/.434 OBP/.599 SLG, 21 HR, 20 IBB*

6. Duke Snider CF, 1954 Dodgers

.341 BA/.423 OBP/.647 SLG, 40 HR, 120 R*, 378 TB*

7. Nolan Arenado 3B, 2017 Rockies

.309 BA/.373 OBP/.586 SLG, 37 HR, 43 2B*, Gold Glove

8. Tony Gwynn RF, 1994 Padres

.394 BA*/.454 OBP*/.568 SLG, 12 HR, 165 H*

9. Gary Carter C, 1984 Expos

.294 BA/.366 OBP/.487 SLG, 27 HR, 106 RBI*

*denotes league leader


C Lance Parrish, 1982 Tigers

C Bob Boone, 1988 Angels

1B Wes Parker, 1970 Dodgers

2B Jeff Kent, 2000 Giants

2B Chase Utley, 2006 Phillies

3B George Brett, 1980 Royals

3B Eddie Mathews, 1953 Braves

SS Ozzie Smith, 1987 Cardinals

SS Robin Yount, 1982 Brewers+

OF Christian Yelich, 2019 Brewers

OF Fred Lynn, 1979 Red Sox

OF Ralph Kiner, 1949 Pirates

OF Dusty Baker, 1980 Dodgers

OF George Foster, 1977 Reds

OF Bobby Bonds, 1973 Giants

+Roberts was given Alan Trammell, not Yount, as a choice due to an error. Yount finished third in the fan voting at shortstop.


RHP Walter Johnson, 1913 Senators

RHP Jim Palmer, 1972 Orioles

RHP Rollie Fingers, 1981 Brewers

RHP Trevor Hoffman, 1998 Padres

RHP Bret Saberhagen, 1989 Royals

RHP Stephen Strasburg, 2017 Nationals

RHP Bert Blyleven, 1973 Twins

RHP Gerrit Cole, 2019 Astros

RHP Bob Lemon, 1952 Indians


Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds (Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

1. Rickey Henderson LF, 1990 Athletics

2. Barry Bonds DH, 2002 Giants

3. Frank Robinson RF, 1966 Orioles

4. Willie Stargell 1B, 1973 Pirates

5. Joe DiMaggio CF, 1939 Yankees

6. Joe Morgan 2B, 1976 Reds

7. Ken Caminiti 3B, 1996 Padres

8. Troy Tulowitzki SS, 2010 Rockies

9. Ernie Lombardi C, 1938 Reds


OF Lefty O’Doul, 1929 Phillies

OF Willie McGee, 1985 Cardinals

OF Aaron Judge, 2017 Yankees

OF Curt Flood, 1967 Cardinals

OF Harry Heilmann, 1923 Tigers

1B Keith Hernandez, 1979 Cardinals

1B Bill Buckner, 1980 Cubs

2B Tony Lazzeri, 1929 Yankees

2B Dustin Pedroia, 2008 Red Sox

SS Jimmy Rollins, 2007 Phillies

SS Joe Cronin, 1930 Senators

3B Carney Lansford, 1981 Red Sox

3B Stan Hack, 1938 Cubs

C Stephen Vogt, 2015 Athletics

C Joe Ferguson, 1979 Dodgers


RHP Tom Seaver, 1971 Mets

RHP Dennis Eckersley, 1992 Athletics

RHP Dave Stewart, 1990 Athletics

LHP Lefty Gomez, 1934 Yankees

LHP Dave Righetti, 1986 Yankees

LHP CC Sabathia, 2007 Indians

LHP Tug McGraw, 1972 Mets

RHP Mike Norris, 1980 Athletics

RHP John Wetteland, 1993 Expos