All-Star teams are fun. Almost everyone loves to indulge in the hypothetical "what if?" What if a team accrued the best of the best? How good would it be? We've seen a number of NBA dream teams over the years, and they have usually been various shades of awesome. Every major sport boasts an All-Star team exhibition because fans love to see the top accumulation of talent. Here are some hypothetical MLB All-Star teams for 2013 written up here, here, and here.
But the All-Star game still dilutes the talent pool. Every team gets a selection, so even teams like the Astros and Cubs will send guys to the game, possibly bumping better choices. Fan voting skews towards larger markets, so less deserving players on more popular teams have the advantage. And finally, the simple fact that there are two teams chops the the talent pool in half.
This post will be an effort to identify the "All-MLB" All-Star team. Put another way, if the Monstars from Space Jam wanted to build a 25-man roster using their talent-stealing magic, which players should they target?
The criteria are as follows: this is a 25-man roster, built to start a 162-game season that starts tomorrow. I assume that all players dealing with non-season-ending injuries are magically healthy. I'm going with a five-man starting rotation and six bullpen pieces (I'm assuming the best starters in the business won't leave too many innings for relievers). That leaves a starting nine, two backup outfielders, a backup catcher, and three utility players.
So, as God of the Universe playing with his toys, my starting nine is:
1. Mike Trout (CF)
Yasiel Puig Carlos Gonzalez (LF)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Miguel Cabrera (DH)
5. Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
6. Jose Bautista (RF)
7. Robinson Cano (2B)
8. Evan Longoria (3B)
9. Yadier Molina (C)
Trout, Cabrera, Tulo, Longoria, and Cano ought to be no-brainers. Leaving off Ryan Braun in favor of CarGo hurt, but my homerism perhaps got the best of me. I'm also a big Bautista believer, leading me to bump Bryce Harper. My head tells me that Buster Posey is a better bet for catcher, but my heart tells me that there's some voodoo-like unmeasurable skill that Yadier brings to the table that makes his pitching staffs better. Also, he's still batting .350 this year. I really, really, really wanted to shoe-horn Chris Davis in here somehow, and his last calendar year has been truly unreal (seriously, check this out), but I like Joey Votto's track record a little bit more.
1. Justin Verlander
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Adam Wainwright
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Yu Darvish
This was pretty hard to narrow down. Passing over the young studs like Matt Harvey and Shelby Miller wasn't easy, but when you have nothing but riches to sift through, a little more history of success is the equalizer. This collection of aces would demolish any team in its path.
1. Craig Kimbrel
2. Jason Grilli
3. Jesse Crain
4. Glen Perkins
5. Greg Holland
6. Trevor Rosenthal
I went with pure relievers here instead of stashing starters, because that would be cheating. But this group of flamethrowers would be damn-near untouchable. And with that rotation ahead of them, they might average less than an inning per game anyway.
Remember when the Rockies had Jason Grilli? Relievers ... man, they'll drive anyone insane.
Catcher: Joe Mauer
I went with Mauer over Posey because of Mauer's handedness; since Molina will be starting the lion's share of the games, his off days should be strategically placed when a tough righty is on the mound. Mauer kills righties. I love Posey, but this arrangement would improve the team, if only slightly.
Fourth and fifth OF: Bryce Harper, Ryan Braun
Neither of those guys is a true center fielder, which could be a problem if Trout goes down, but come on, it wouldn't be a best-in-the-world list without them. If Trout gets hurt, either CarGo or Harper can still slide over.
Middle Infielder: Manny Machado
He's played only third base in the majors, but he came up as a shortstop, and his defensive prowess leads me to believe he can still handle the middle of the diamond. The kid is an absolute boss, and he needs to be on the team.
Corner Infielder: Chris Davis
I'm a believer.
All-around guy: Ben Zobrist
He can play literally any position well, and he hits pretty great too. There won't be too many opportunities for him to play on this loaded team, but his versatility bumps his value enormously in this sort of situation.
So there you have it. My dream roster. The best Major League Baseball has to offer, and a team of overwhelming awesomeness. I would guess Team Kickass (that's our team name, by the way. And I'm managing, and our logo is of a giant hammer squashing a tank) would win somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 games. Gaze on our splendor and tremble.
Roy Oswalt isn't concerned about his spotty start to the season, writes Troy Renck. I'm still a believer as well; his fastball looks sharp, he's striking people out, he isn't walking guys, and he's allowed a horrendously unlucky .500 average on balls in play. It would be nice if his luck would even out tonight, as Clayton Kershaw is opposing him (see above for why that's bad).
Troy Renck also has musings about Yasiel Puig, the Cuban phenom playing for the Dodgers. The comparisons to Bo Jackson might be premature, and his .500 BABIP is in no way sustainable. Still, after watching Puig bang homers to the opposite field and barrel up every pitch he sees, a little part of me worries that he's going to straight-up break baseball.
Michael Cuddyer is getting plenty of love for his 27-game hitting streak. I don't see him equaling Joe DiMaggio (seriously, he isn't even halfway there), but it's been huge for someone to be hot while Troy Tulowitzki is on the shelf.