More than two years ago, right after Major League Baseball announced that Philadelphia would be hosting the 2026 All-Star Game (because it’s the United States’ Semiquincentennial, in case you didn’t know what that word was), I tried to predict what the starting lineups would look like for that particular game. As the All-Star votes continue to pour in, I thought it might be fun to try to predict again, with the game just five years away now, what the lineups might look like now. Maybe we’ll do this next year for the 2027 All-Star game, wherever that ends up being. But for now, let’s try to look five years down the road.
Players are listed with their current age and with their current team, though we all know that could change.
Catcher: Adley Rutschman, Orioles (age 23)
He’s the best catching prospect in baseball, and 2026 should be right in the middle of his prime. Now, where will the Orioles be at this point?
First Base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays (age 22)
Speaking of being right in the middle of one’s prime, Vlad is, in fact, actually younger than Rutschman. Considering what he’s doing to MLB pitching right now, it is downright terrifying to fathom what he’ll be doing to it in five years.
Second Base: Vidal Bruján, Rays (age 23)
He’d be getting a lot more hype if not for his Triple-A teammate, who is his predicted double-play partner in this game as well. Bruján has old-school stolen-base skills -- he had 103 steals in his first two full seasons in the Minors -- and could be positioned right in the thick of a middle infield that just might be dominating the American League for the next decade or so.
Shortstop: Wander Franco, Rays (age 20)
He’ll be up with the Rays soon, maybe just in time for a pennant race … or even, like fellow superstar prospect David Price 13 years ago, as a top-shelf prospect helping the Rays in, gasp, a World Series? Either way: Is he going to be winning MVPs by 2026? Also: Sorry Bobby Witt Jr.! Tough position!
Third Base: Spencer Torkelson, Tigers (age 21)
It is thought that Torkelson will eventually move to first base, but he’ll only be 26 years old in 2026. He’ll surely still be able to play third base at that point: He looks pretty good over there right now, all told. It’ll be exciting to see where the Tigers are at this point, too.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Angels (age 29); Jarred Kelenic (age 21), Mariners; Julio Rodríguez, Mariners (age 20)
That’s right: Two Mariners! I’m not too worried about Kelenic’s rough start in the bigs this year, and you shouldn’t be either. Rodríguez is just as exciting a prospect, and he’ll be in Seattle soon. As for Trout, he will surely be starting in 2036. I do anticipate Aaron Judge aging out here. I should keep an eye on Byron Buxton and Alex Verdugo, though.
Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani, Angels (age 26)
He will only be 31. Will he still be pitching then? That’s hard to say. But we sure know he’ll be hitting.
Starting Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Indians (age 26)
It’s remarkable how many of the best starting pitchers are in their late twenties or early thirties. Bieber is one of the few who’s both great and under 27 right now.
Catcher: Luis Campusano, Padres (age 22)
The Padres’ power-hitting prospect is the No. 3 catching prospect right now, behind Rutschman and Joey Bart, who is two years older than Campusano and will be 29 already in 2026. Campusano’s the pick here, though to be honest, it was tempting to just say “Buster Posey or Yadier Molina.”
First Base: Bryce Harper, Phillies (age 28)
With no obvious first-base candidates -- Max Muncy will be 35 in 2026 -- how about this idea? It’s not the craziest thought that Harper might transition into a first-base role at some point, particularly if the DH is in the National League by then. Rhys Hoskins will be a free agent after the 2024 season: Will the Phillies let him go and replace him with the guy who’s going to be here until the next decade?
Second Base: Ozzie Albies, Braves (age 24)
He’s not having the best year in 2021, but he’s still an electric player, and he won’t even be 30 by 2026. If you want to make an argument for the Pirates’ Nick Gonzales, you can, but I’ll keep betting on Albies moving forward.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres (age 22)
I’m ready to pencil in this one well into the next decade. Aren’t you?
Third Base: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates (age 24)
As soon as he returned from injury this year, he started hitting. He is the centerpiece of just about everything the Pirates have going on, both for now and for a long time moving forward.
Outfield: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (age 23); Mookie Betts, Dodgers (age 28); Juan Soto, Nationals (age 22)
You think anyone’s going to break into this trio by 2026? The only way these aren’t the three studs in the NL at that point is if Soto, who’s a free agent after the 2025 season, is in the American League by then.
Starting Pitcher: Jacob deGrom, Mets (age 32)
Yeah, fine: He’ll be 37. But a 36-year-old Max Scherzer is pretty great right now, too. And considering deGrom appears to have solved pitching, like a crossword puzzle, I don’t know how you don’t go with him as the pick far, far into the future.