Wednesday, June 5, 2013

All MLB Team (one player per franchise)

Note: this one is for the baseball nerds...

The challenge:

Create the best possible twenty-five player baseball roster from current major league players by selection no more than one player from each MLB franchise.

Additional ground rules: 

1. The team selected will compete for the remainder of this season and three additional seasons.  

2. Each player selected will receive a contract until the end of this period at a rate approved by management.  At this point, all players will become unrestricted free agents and will give no preference to resigning with your team.  In other words, contracts don't matter, but these players will be gone after the third and final season.  
3. Your franchise will not be allowed to make any trades during this three year period.  
4. Any injured player will be replaced with a faceless replacement level player until the injured player can return.  
5. Your roster will be capped at 25 players.  There will be five MLB franchises who will not have any players represented on your team.  
6. The team will allowed to use a designated hitter.  

This is the team I put together...

Starters (9):

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, Age 26, Bats: R
The Giants had two very solid candidates to consider: Posey and Madison Bumgarner.  While I would love to have the stud lefty, I couldn't pass up adding the former MVP to my squad.  Posey can also play first base, which will be useful con
sidering how this team must deal with injuries.

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, 25, R
An easy pick as a rising star from a team without a lot of top-tier talent.  Patrick Corbin got some consideration after his insane start to this year, but Goldschmidt is simply too good at age 25 to pass up.

2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, 30, L
Someone will pay Cano a ton of money this offseason and likely lock up his services until well past his prime.  Under these rules, however, Cano is a great pick with huge offensive production from a position where there isn't a ton of talent.  A few years ago, picking only one Yankee would have been agonizing.  Not today.

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, 28, R
Tulowitzki is a great hitter at a premium position.  Picking Tulowitzki closes the door on adding Carlos Gonzalez, but that's a price I'm happy to pay to grab the best shortstop in the league. Tulowitzki was hurt for much of last season, but he is killing it so far this year.  There are many great outfielders in the league, but only one consistently great shortstop, so Tulowitzki is the choice.

3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, 27, R
Miguel Cabrera is the best third baseman in the baseball, but since I'm giving myself a DH slot, I'm going to put the superior defensive player out in the field.  The price for picking Longoria is losing out on Rays' pitcher Matt Moore.  I also considered David Wright of the Mets here.  The choice came down to Longoria and Matt Harvey or Wright and Moore.  By a hair, I'm taking Longoria and Harvey.

LF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, 21, R
Another easy choice.  One of the top players in the game and, with the decline of Albert Pujols and the enigma that is Josh Hamilton, our obvious Angel.

CF: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26, R
McCutchen is easily the most talented player on the Pirates, and despite a relatively slow start, he should be just entering his prime.

RF: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, 20, L
Assuming he stops trying to knock down walls with his face, Harper should be one of the best hitters in the league for the foreseeable future.  Further, an outfield of Trout, McCutchen and Harper will not only be great defensively, but each of these guys is athletic enough to play any of the outfield spots.

DH: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 30, R
Tigers Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander are smart, savvy players.  I think both of them would agree that Miggy should be on this team.

Bench (5):

BN1: C- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins, 30, L
The left-handed side of my catcher platoon.  I imagine Mauer and Posey splitting the catcher duties to allow both of them to maximize their health.

BN2: 2B- Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, 29, R
The former MVP has been the most consistent player on the Red Sox over the past several years.  Ortiz is too old, Clay Buchholz has not had enough sustained success and Jacoby Ellsbury is simply not talented enough to be on this team.

BN3: SS- Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers, 23, R
This is a surprise even to myself, as I thought Ryan Braun would a lock before I crunched the numbers.    However, the team's depth at outfield and the need to protect against injuries necessitates a player who can backup the injury-prone Tulowitzki.  Additionally, Segura would provide great speed off the bench.

BN4: OF/IF- Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles, 27, L
This was not an easy choice.  Adam Jones, who plays center for the Orioles, may very well be a superior all-around player.  That being said, Davis is slightly younger, can play first base and outfield (and has played third) and bats from the left side of the plate, which helps balance to what is a very right-handed lineup.

BN5: OF- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, 22, R
A great spot for Stanton, who is having a hard time staying healthy for the Marlins.  As the fifth outfielder, this is a good place to roll the dice with someone with his level of talent.

Starting Pitchers (5):

SP1: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, 25, Throws: L
Easy.  With the injuries to Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, the young Dodger ace is a no-brainer.

SP2: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, 27, R
Felix is still mowing kids down up in the Pacific Northwest.  Just twenty-seven years old, he's as safe a bet as anyone to continue to dominate for the next few seasons.

SP3: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, 26, R
For the Rangers, Adrian Beltre warranted some consideration, but Darvish has been spectacular in just his second season in MLB.

SP4: James Shields, Kansas City Royals, 31, R
The Rays were thoughtful enough to move one of their stud pitchers to Kansas City so that I could include a Royal in this exercise.  His past experience pitching "big games" solidifies his spot here.

SP5: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals, 31, R
A difficult choice with Shelby Miller available, but Wainwright gets the slight edge due to his playoff experience.

Relief Pitchers (6)

RP1: Matt Harvey, New York Mets, 24, R
Injuries are going to happen to any pitching staff, so I'm going to stash at least two starters in the bullpen to work the middle innings while being ready to slide into the rotation if need be.  The Mets young ace certainly has the talent to do both.

RP2: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox, 24, L
Seniority matters on this team, so the young guns get stocked in the bullpen until a spot opens up in the rotation or until one of the starters falters.  Sale has proven that last year was no fluke and has continued to dominate in 2013.

RP3: Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs, 28, R
A former reliever, the intimidating Samardzija can regain that mindset and excel when called on in the middle innings. While there may be an adjustment for all of these starting pitchers moving to the pen, I think it's wise to add their superior skill set to the roster as opposed to picking middle relief specialists.

RP4: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds, 25, L
Chapman becomes the lefty specialist.  No lefty hitter wants to see this guy come out of the pen.  His unique skill-set bumps Joey Votto off this team, which was one of the toughest omissions.

RP5: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves, 25, R
A true franchise closer- on this team he's the eighth inning guy.

RP6: Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies, 32, R
Our starting closer.  At 32, doesn't have the ceiling of either Chapman or Kimbrel, but is playoff tested and is still a very effective reliever.

Final roster:

Position players (14):
C: Posey/ Mauer
1B: Goldschmidt
2B: Cano/ Pedroia
SS: Tulowitzki/ Segura
3B: Cabrera/ Longoria
OF: Trout/ McCutchen/ Harper/ Davis/ Stanton

Starting Pitchers (5):

Relief Pitchers (6):
Harvey/ Sale/ Samardzija/ Chapman/ Kimbrel/ Papelbon

Certainly there were some extremely difficult decisions and not all the selected players can lay claim to being the best players on their own teams.  Some of the hardest omissions were Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Matt Moore, Justin Upton, Carlos Santana, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, Shelby Miller, David Wright, Stephen Strasburg, Adrian Beltre, Adam Jones and Madison Bumgartner.

With twenty-five slots, five teams were not going to have any players on this team.   Cleveland, Houston, Oakland, San Diego, and Toronto are not represented.