The list that follows is a listing of players I would build a team around if all MLB players were available to choose from. Because this list is for players to build a team around, anyone over the age of 34 will not be included on this list…sorry Mariano Rivera fans, but I’m building this team for the future and he’s pushing 40.
For this list I will include one player per everyday position with five starting pitchers, one set up man and one utility player. Their current age will be in parenthesis.
C – Yadier Molina (27):
In my opinion Yadier is the best all around catcher in the game right now and he’s only 27! Just read the August ESPN Magazine article on him which can be found here.
Joe Mauer – he’s found his power stroke the first part of the year, but he just can’t touch Yadier behind the dish. Who can?
1B – Albert Pujols (29):
Do I really have to defend this one? The numbers speak for themselves.
Adrian Gonzalez – on a better team & he might give Pujols a run for this slot.
2B – Chase Utley (30, turns 31 on 12/17):
His power at this position (30 + HR when healthy) and his age are what gets him onto this list. He’s not too shabby in the field either.
Dustin Pedroia – he’s younger.
3B – Evan Longoria (23, turns 24 on 10/7):
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s just a beast! He’s also one of the youngest guys on this list. He plays both sides of the ball extremely well and is calm, cool and collective on the field. His numbers are up across the board, this guy doesn’t know the phrase, sophomore slump. His BA is up 10 points from last year and his OBP, BB and RBI are up more than 20 and he’s even hit more HRs. The only negative I can find is that he has struck out more this season.
David Wright – If his power didn’t disappear this year, I might have given him some more thought.
SS – Hanley Ramirez (25, turns 26 on 12/23):
His defense has improved, but he’s still no Omar Visquel, but he has also head and shoulders above the rest as his BA, RBI have gone up this year as he is also striking out less than he did a year ago which shows more patience (and that’s with moving to the # 3 hole in the line up). However, his SBs and HRs are down.
Troy Tulowitzki – he’s much better on defense, has hit more HRs this year, but his average is almost 70 points lower and with 20 fewer RBIs, too.
LF – Ryan Braun (25, turns 26 on 11/17):
100 HRs, over 300 RBIs to go along with 45 SBs while hitting for a .305 BA with an OBP of .361 and he has walked more this year, and all in his first three seasons and this one’s not over yet. Who has better numbers than these?
Carl Crawford – He has proven this year that 2008 was an off year and he is still a terror on the bases which is why he’s even mentioned next to Braun.
CF – Jacoby Ellsbury (26):
Currently at 66 SBs while hitting .303 with an OBP of .354 and he has learned how to be a legitimate leadoff hitter in only his second full season. He’s not too shabby in CF either.
Grady Sizemore – When healthy, his 30/30 prowess is quite impressive.
RF – Justin Upton (22):
I’m probably missing someone here, but on top of Justin’s solid defense, he is much improved in his second full season in Arizona. So far he has 10 more HRs while doubling his RBI total, will probably reach 20 SBs and raised his BA more than 50 points and his OBP by almost 20.
Nick Markakis – His numbers are down again from his 2007 season or he would be in the running. Maybe on a better team and he’d be more in contention.
UTIL – Ty Wiggington (31, turn 32 on 10/11):
He has some pop in his bat and is a gritty player who can play any position except up the middle (C, P and CF). His versatility is what gets him this spot on my list and the fact that he averages 20+ HRs, 76 RBIs, with a .271 BA. What more do you want in a utility player?
Ben Zobrist – Aside from this year, he just hasn’t played enough to be considered, but his ability to play every position except P, C and 1B is impressive!
SP1 – Roy Halladay (32):
A former Cy Youn Award winner with 3 other top 5 finishes beyond that! Doc has 24 complete games in the past three years with 6 of those being shutouts and he threw no less than 225 innings in those years. In that same time he has 52 wins and over 540 strikeouts after his complete game shutout tonight. The doctor is in my house and he makes house calls!
SP2 – Zack Grienke (25, turns 26 on 10/21):
Over the past two years Grienke has pitched well for a bad team! He has pitched over 200 innings with an ERA of 3.67 and under with over 400 strikeouts and he’s only 25. Just think of how good he would be on a contender!
SP3 – CC Sabathia (29):
A former Cy Young Award winner who can hit and do so with power. Just in case my team is playing in the NL, you’ll need a pitcher that can hit. By the way, he can pitch, too. Since that award winning year he has compiled 12 complete games in 516 innings pitched and 54 wins with 646 strikeouts in those three years.
SP4 – Felix Hernandez (23):
Another good pitcher on a bad team who has gone 190 innings plus over the past 4 years with 7 complete games with 3 of those being shutouts and over 700 strikeouts in that span. And remember, he’s still only 23!
SP5 – Tim Lincecum (25):
Last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner who will earn his 40th win in his career (3 seasons) with his next win. In 6 complete games half of those were shutouts in over 584 innings and 662 strikeouts. Just think of what he could do on a team with a better offense.
Justin Verlander – This 26 year old was the 2006 Rookie of the Year and has only 1 year without 17 or more wins since then. In 6 complete games half of those were shutouts in over 813 innings with over 720 strikeouts.
Closer – Jonathan Papelbon (28, turns 29 on 11/23):
Papelbon has been an all star since 2006 when he came in second in Rookie of the Year voting. In that time he has compiled 150 saves in 261 innings with 310 strikeouts
Jose Valverde – He has 115 saves over the past three seasons in 187 innings with 207 strikeouts and that’s with missing some time this year.
If any of you have a bone to pick with this list, please make this an opportunity to do one of two things:
- Make your own list & post it in the comments section
- Tell us of your additions or subtractions to this list, with your reasons why, it in the comments section
We always welcome a good debate and we very well might have missed someone. Heck, I missed Tommy Lasorda on my previous list.
My name is Peter Schiller. I am the creator/owner of Baseball Reflections.com. I’m also a contributing writer. To read more of my work at Baseball Reflections just click HERE!