If Major League Baseball had a team at the World Cup, who would be in the starting lineup?
The World Cup is here, and 32 of the best soccer-playing nations are squaring off. But what if Major League Baseball got to put together a team to compete? What would that look like?
Rather than simply dreaming about it, let's put it into motion. This is our starting eleven:
Manager: Gabe Kapler
A constant tactical tinkerer, Kapler also demands absolute physical fitness from his players, who will be expected to run for all 90 minutes. That means he won't be like former Leicester City manager Claudio Reina and reward his squad with pizza.
GK: Buster Posey
With great height for a catcher and plenty of experience blocking things, Posey is an excellent choice to play between the sticks. Plus, given his powerful bat, Posey would be a great candidate to be called forward late in games to head in a winner on a late corner kick.
LB: Nolan Arenado
A defensive whiz, Arenado also would deliver plenty in attack, having license to get forward and offer deft passes into the box or booming shots on goal.
CB: George Springer
With plenty of height, and more pace than most center backs, Springer would not only clean up balls around the penalty area, but also help the team keep a high line.
CB: Andrelton Simmons
Known for his acrobatic defense, Simmons would absolutely smother opposition attackers. However, with his smooth touch and deft skill, he'd also be the first to touch the ball when MLB recycles possession.
RB: Javier Baez
A do-it-all player with the pace to burn down the wing, the ability to step into midfield and the defensive chops to clean up any dangerous attacks. His swimming slides are proof that he can wriggle out of any trap, too.
CM: J.T. Realmuto
While his main duty would be to use his strength and physicality to shield the back four as the side's defensive midfielder, Realmuto's (Real Madrido?) athletic touch would allow him to wander into midfield and spray passes on the counter-attack.
CM: Mike Trout
The engine. Trout's endless physical gifts would see him chase down defenders and rush into the penalty area before rocketing in golazos.
LW: Dee Gordon
Though undersized, Gordon is a perpetual motion machine in hyper drive. You've seen him steal bases, now watch him blaze past the defenders and create gaps for his teammates to exploit.
CAM: Francisco Lindor
With great vision and a silky smooth touch, Lindor would tear apart defenders with deft passes and arcing shots that resembled his home run in Puerto Rico. And then, just to rub it in, he'd flash a broad smile, too.
RW: Mookie Betts
Possessing the skills to do it all, Betts would be expected to cut in from the wing and get into the box to help lead the line. After all, he's shown off his striking ability in his bowling career.
ST: Aaron Judge
Tall and unbelievably strong, Judge can dominate defenders in the air and hold up the ball. Judge also has the rare athletic ability to run the channels and beat defenders on the dribble to make him the complete goal-scoring center forward.