All-Star selections are often, understandably, cited as evidence of the quality of an individual campaign. To have an “All-Star season” is to have excelled at your craft in a given year. But All-Star selections are made when a season is at the halfway point, and given the smaller sample of performance being judged, the choices don’t always paint a complete picture of the top performers in that season.
Enter the All-MLB Team -- baseball’s first-of-its-kind foray into a star squad that covers the full breadth of the Major League season and does not separate players by league.
The selection process for the 2019 All-MLB Team presented by Scotts is underway and runs through Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET, with 50% of the vote coming from fans and 50% coming from a panel of experts.
You can vote right here, and may do so once every 24 hours between now and when voting ends next Tuesday. The inaugural All-MLB Team will be announced on Dec. 10 at baseball’s annual Winter Meetings in San Diego.
There will be a first team and second team All-MLB, and voters are asked only to consider performance during the regular season when casting their ballots. Each team will include one selection at each position (including designated hitter and three outfielders, regardless of specific outfield position), five starting pitchers and two relievers. In order to include as many deserving candidates as is necessary in a given year, there will be no set number of nominees per position.
For the 2019 team, there are 60 position player candidates (eight first basemen, six second basemen, eight shortstops, 11 third basemen, seven catchers, five DHs, and 15 outfielders) and 30 pitcher candidates (19 starters, 11 relievers).
The Astros lead all teams with 10 candidates (1B Yuli Gurriel, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, OFs Michael Brantley and George Springer, DH Yordan Alvarez, SPs Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander, and RP Roberto Osuna). The Red Sox are next, with seven (SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Rafael Devers, C Christian Vazquez, OF Mookie Betts, DH J.D. Martinez, SP Eduardo Rodriguez, RP Brandon Workman), while the Twins have six (SS Jorge Polanco, C Mitch Garver, OFs Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario, DH Nelson Cruz, RP Taylor Rogers). The Braves, Nationals, Yankees, Indians and Dodgers each have five nominees.
The All-MLB format leads to some difficult decisions when AL and NL players are vying for the same recognition. For instance, whereas Silver Sluggers and MVP finalists Bregman (1.015 OPS) and Anthony Rendon (1.010) would both be worthy choices at third base in their respective leagues, here they are directly pitted against each other. It’s Astros vs. Nationals all over again. And let’s not forget about Nolan Arenado, whose offensive game stacks up with both of them and might be the best defender of the three.
Some other fierce debates could include J.T. Realmuto vs. Yasmani Grandal at catcher or Pete Alonso vs. Freddie Freeman at first base or Marcus Semien vs. Bogaerts at short, just to name a few. We can assume the two Cy Young winners, Verlander and Jacob deGrom, along with oh-so-close second-place finisher Cole, will fare well in the starting realm. But who will round out the All-MLB “starting five”? And because ERA and save totals don’t always tell the whole story of relief work, which numbers will prove to carry the most weight as voters choose how to close out the All-MLB squad?
The All-Star tallies and accompanying midsummer showcase will always carry a lot of weight in the game, but the All-MLB Team will be more reflective of the full picture that is the 162-game grind.
All of this should lead to a fun and fascinating selection process and one more thing to look forward to in the long winter between baseball games. Let the debates begin.