How good would the Japan All-Star Series team be as an actual MLB team?
Even though the World Series is over, we don't have to enter baseball hibernation just yet. That's because a team featuring some of MLB's best players has just flown across the Pacific -- after a brief stop in Hawaii -- for the 2018 Japan All-Star Series. The series will run from Nov. 8-15 and will see the MLB team take on the Japanese national team in six games located in cities all across the country.
Full roster announced for MLB team traveling to Japan to face Japanese All-Star squad on Nov. 9-15. In addition to Mitch Haniger, MLB team will also include Erasmo Ramirez and hitting coach Edgar Martinez from the Mariners. pic.twitter.com/sQDaTlY5gS- Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) October 29, 2018
That's a pretty strong roster, especially offensively, but just how good would this team of assorted big leaguers be if it spent a full season as an actual team in the Major Leagues? Let's take a look.
Pretty much no matter how you construct the lineup -- and you could go full 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers and mix and match your way into a pretzel -- it turns out to be one of the best offenses, if not the best, in baseball.
The first thing that jumps out about the lineup is how many young players there are. Six of these hitters weren't even in the big leagues the last time an MLB All-Star team toured Japan back in 2014.
To put that crudely calculated WAR total in perspective, the Red Sox's league-best starting lineup this season also compiled right around 30 WAR. From Ronald Acuna's dynamic ability at the top, to RBI Machine Rhys Hoskins in the cleanup spot, to MLB steals leader Whit Merrifield in the seven hole, this lineup would score runs in bunches and compete with baseball's best.
This is what really sets our theoretical Japan Series team apart from the best teams in the Majors. Taylor and Hernández offer impressive flexibility, Pillar is an awesome late-inning defensive replacement and Yadier Molina would be the best backup catcher in the game.
Most of the arms on the Japan Series roster are either starters who didn't pitch that much in the bigs this season or effective relievers who didn't make many starts. This makes putting together a starting rotation for this hypothetical big league team is a bit tougher than the lineup.
There are still a few solid pitchers here. It certainly isn't the ace-laden 2018 Astros rotation or anything like that, but it's got some solid options who could eat up innings and get things to the bullpen.
What this roster lacks in dominant front-end starting pitching, it makes up for with an array of underrated shut-down relief options.
No All-Stars in this group, but a ton of really good arms. Yates became the Padres' closer after Brad Hand was dealt at the Deadline, Nuno was tossing the eighth for the super-hot Rays in September and McHugh was arguably one of the best relievers in baseball this season.
Those top five pitchers had a combined ERA of 2.49, right up there with some of the game's best bullpens, even if these names aren't necessarily household right now.
Between the dynamic offense and the unproven rotation, you'd expect this team to participate in a lot of high-scoring affairs over the course of the season. They'd probably hang around the Wild Card race for a while and then maybe improve their pitching at the Deadline before sneaking into the second Wild Card spot. I can't wait to see how they actually perform once pitted against the best Japan has to offer. It should be a blast to watch.