Naming the All-Division Team for Every MLB Division

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2013

Naming the All-Division Team for Every MLB Division

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    Back in February, I wrote an article naming my All-Prospect team for each division, and it sparked some good debate among readers.

    That said, the prospect world is not for everyone. So in an effort to appeal to a larger audience, I turned my attention to the big leagues.

    Picking a full 25-man roster, I assembled what I felt was the best possible team that each division had to offer, with 13 position players and 12 pitchers selected for each team.

    For the sake of making it easier to compare all six lineups, I selected a DH for the NL teams as well as the AL teams. For all of you baseball purists out there, I apologize in advance for that.

    My approach to building the teams was not long term in scope. I was strictly looking to build the best team for the 2013 season.

    With big-name players failing to make the cut for their respective divisions, your ideal teams will no doubt differ from mine. But that's the beauty of an article like this.

    Let the debate begin.

AL East

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    Starting Lineup

    SS Jose Reyes, TOR
    CF Adam Jones, BAL 
    2B Robinson Cano, NY
    RF Jose Bautista, TOR
    1B Mark Teixeira, NY
    3B Evan Longoria, TB
    DH Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
    C Matt Wieters, BAL
    CF Curtis Granderson, NY


    Bench

    C J.P. Arencibia, TOR
    2B Dustin Pedroia, BOS
    SS Derek Jeter, NY
    UT Ben Zobrist, TB

     

    Offense Analysis

    This team is stacked with power hitters, as everyone outside of Reyes and Wieters is more than capable of hitting 30 home runs.

    Encarnacion gets the nod over David Ortiz due in part to the fact that he is capable of playing third base. Without him, there would be no other backup for the injury-prone Longoria.

    The versatile Zobrist edges out Jacoby Ellsbury and Nick Markakis for the backup outfield spot, while Arencibia gets the nod over Jarrod Saltalamacchia for backup catcher duties.

     

    Rotation

    LHP CC Sabathia, NY
    RHP R.A. Dickey, TOR
    LHP David Price, TB
    RHP Jeremy Hellickson, TB
    LHP Mark Buehrle, TOR 

     

    Bullpen

    LHP Jon Lester, BOS
    RHP Pedro Strop, BAL
    LHP Darren Oliver, TOR
    RHP David Robertson, NY
    RHP Fernando Rodney, TB
    RHP Jim Johnson, BAL
    RHP Mariano Rivera, NY 

     

    Pitching Analysis

    The top three in the rotation rank right up there with the best in the game, but I'll give the veteran workhorse Sabathia the nod as staff ace.

    After those three, there were a number of guys to choose from. I like the upside of Hellickson and the proven durability of Buehrle over guys like Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson and Hiroki Kuroda, among others.

    Oliver secures the last bullpen spot over Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan due to the need for a second left-hander in the bullpen. Rodney, Johnson and Rivera give the back end three of the best late-inning arms in the business.

AL Central

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    Starting Lineup

    CF Austin Jackson, DET
    C Joe Mauer, MIN
    3B Miguel Cabrera, DET
    1B Prince Fielder, DET
    DH Billy Butler, KC
    RF Nick Swisher, CLE
    LF Alex Gordon, KC
    SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
    2B Jason Kipnis, CLE 

     

    Bench

    C Salvador Perez, KC
    1B Paul Konkero, CWS
    SS Alcides Escobar, KC
    OF Josh Willingham, MIN

     

    Offense Analysis

    The lineup has some star power in guys like Cabrera, Fielder, Butler and Mauer, and they form a dynamic middle of the lineup. Budding star Austin Jackson sets the table for that group.

    The Indians trio of Swisher, Kipnis and Cabrera, along with Kansas City's Alex Gordon, rank as second-tier players. Escobar would need to branch out and prove capable of manning second and third base as well as his natural shortstop position, but he has the defensive talent to do so.

    Perez earns backup catcher honors over Carlos Santana, and Willingham gets the fourth outfielder spot over Alex Rios in another tough decision.

     

    Rotation

    RHP Justin Verlander, DET
    LHP Chris Sale, CWS
    RHP James Shields, KC
    RHP Jake Peavy, CWS
    RHP Max Scherzer, DET 

     

    Bullpen

    RHP Joaquin Benoit, DET
    LHP Tim Collins, KC
    RHP Addison Reed, CWS
    LHP Glen Perkins, MIN
    RHP Vinnie Pestano, CLE
    RHP Greg Holland, KC
    RHP Chris Perez, CLE 

     

    Pitching Analysis

    Any rotation fronted by Verlander and rounded out by Scherzer isn't too shabby, and the staff appears to be the biggest strength of the team.

    Unlike the other divisions, the AL Central has just one frontline closer in Perez, but they have a bevy of impressive setup relievers.

    Guys like Phil Coke, Aaron Crow, Matt Thornton, Nate Jones and Joe Smith are all terrific options as well and could be considered interchangeable with a number of the selected relievers.

AL West

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    Starting Lineup

    CF Mike Trout, LA
    2B Ian Kinsler, TEX
    1B Albert Pujols, LA
    LF Josh Hamilton, LA
    3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
    RF Yoenis Cespedes, OAK
    DH Nelson Cruz, TEX
    C A.J. Pierzynski, TEX
    SS Elvis Andrus, TEX 

     

    Bench

    C Jesus Montero, SEA
    1B/OF Michael Morse, SEA
    2B Jose Altuve, HOU
    OF Josh Reddick, OAK 

     

    Offense Analysis

    The starting lineup is essentially a meshing of the best pieces from the Rangers and Angels, two of the league's best offenses, with A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes thrown in for good measure.

    The catcher and shortstop positions are incredibly thin in the division, while second base is solid from top to bottom. 

    Reddick could push for a starting job if he is able to duplicate last season's output, but for now we'll give the starting gig to the more proven Cruz. Whether or not Altuve can play shortstop and third off the bench is a big question as well.

     

    Rotation

    RHP Felix Hernandez, SEA
    RHP Jered Weaver, LA
    LHP C.J. Wilson, LA
    RHP Yu Darvish, TEX
    LHP Matt Harrison, TEX 

     

    Bullpen

    RHP Jarrod Parker, OAK
    LHP Scott Downs, LA
    RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, SEA
    LHP Sean Burnett, LA
    RHP Grant Balfour, OAK
    RHP Ryan Madson, LA
    RHP Joe Nathan, TEX 

     

    Pitching Analysis

    The No. 5 starter was one of the toughest decisions I had in any divisions. Parker, Brett Anderson, Tom Milone, Derek Holland and bounce-back candidate Tommy Hanson were all viable options.

    As its stands, the staff is fronted by two of the elite arms in the game, with Darvish capable of taking that next step and joining the upper echelon in his second season in the states.

    Downs earns the final bullpen spot over the likes of Ernesto Frieri and Ryan Cook due to a need for a second left-hander. I'm also banking on Madson returning to form post-Tommy John surgery in the setup role.

NL East

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    Starting Lineup

    SS Ian Desmond, WAS
    CF Bryce Harper, WAS
    RF Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
    1B Ryan Howard, PHI
    3B David Wright, NY
    DH Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
    LF Justin Upton, ATL
    C Brian McCann, ATL
    2B Dan Uggla, ATL 

     

    Bench

    C Carlos Ruiz, PHI
    1B Ike Davis, NYM
    SS Andrelton Simmons, ATL
    OF Jason Heyward, ATL

     

    Offense Analysis

    The lineup is an impressive one, with two of the best young sluggers in the game in Harper and Stanton flanked by proven veterans Howard, Wright and Zimmerman.

    Catcher is relatively weak, and McCann and Ruiz could wind up in a platoon to keep them both fresh. Second base is also weak, as the power of Uggla beats out an aging Chase Utley and Danny Espinosa.

    Heyward edges out his new teammate B.J. Upton for the fourth outfield spot. Count me among those drinking the Kool-Aid on Simmons; he gets the infield bench spot over Jimmy Rollins.

     

    Rotation

    LHP Cole Hamels, PHI
    RHP Stephen Strasburg, WAS
    LHP Cliff Lee, PHI
    LHP Gio Gonzalez, WAS
    LHP Jon Niese, NYM 

     

    Bullpen

    RHP Kris Medlen, ATL
    RHP Mike Adams, PHI
    LHP Jonny Venters, ATL
    RHP Steve Cishek, MIA
    RHP Tyler Clippard, WAS
    RHP Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
    RHP Craig Kimbrel, ATL

     

    Pitching Analysis

    Another tough call for the No. 5 starter spot. I went with the upside of Niese emerging as the Mets' ace over Tim Hudson, Jordan Zimmermann and teammate Matt Harvey. 

    Medlen gets the nod for the long-relief spot over the aforementioned trio. This was not only due to his phenomenal second half last season, but because he has experience working out of the 'pen.

    I've tried my best to get two left-handers in every team's bullpen. Still, there was just no way to leave any of these guys off in favor of someone from the crop of Antonio Bastardo, Eric O'Flaherty or Josh Edgin.

NL Central

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    Starting Lineup

    SS Starlin Castro, CHI
    2B Brandon Phillips, CIN
    LF Ryan Braun, MIL
    1B Joey Votto, CIN
    CF Andrew McCutchen, PIT 
    3B Aramis Ramirez, MIL
    RF Jay Bruce, CIN
    DH Matt Holliday, STL
    C Yadier Molina, STL

     

    Bench

    C Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
    1B/OF Allen Craig, STL
    2B Rickie Weeks, MIL
    3B David Freese, STL

     

    Offense Analysis

    Considering the NL Central is often viewed as one of the worst divisions in baseball, they can still assemble a very strong lineup among their five teams.

    The Braun-Votto-McCutchen trio may be the best middle of the order in any division. Aside from their terrific power from top to bottom, everyone outside of Bruce is capable of hitting .300.

    Craig could push for a starting job over either Bruce or Holliday, while Weeks gets onto the roster as really the only plus middle infielder in the division outside of the two starters.

     

    Rotation

    RHP Adam Wainwright, STL
    RHP Yovani Gallardo, MIL
    RHP Johnny Cueto, CIN
    RHP Mat Latos, CIN
    RHP Jeff Samardzija, CHI

     

    Bullpen

    RHP Mitchell Boggs, STL
    RHP Jared Hughes, PIT
    LHP Sean Marshall, CIN
    RHP Jason Grilli, PIT
    RHP John Axford, MIL
    LHP Aroldis Chapman, CIN
    RHP Jason Motte, STL

     

    Pitching Analysis

    The NL Central rotation has five solid starters, but they lack the top-tier ace that the other divisions can boast. Wainwright got the nod as the No. 1, but anyone could wind up being the ace.

    Chapman moves back to the bullpen where he thrived last year. He serves in a setup role, though he may in fact be the best closing option on a team filled with unappreciated relievers.

    Samardzija gets the call as No. 5 starter over Homer Bailey, Jaime Garcia, A.J. Burnett and Bronson Arroyo. In my mind, he has the highest upside of that group for the upcoming season.

NL West

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    Starting Lineup

    DH Hanley Ramirez, LA
    2B Aaron Hill, ARI 
    CF Matt Kemp, LA
    1B Adrian Gonzalez, LA
    C Buster Posey, SF
    LF Carlos Gonzalez, COL
    SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL 
    3B Chase Headley, SD
    RF Andre Ethier, LA

     

    Bench

    C Miguel Montero, ARI
    1B Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
    IF/OF Martin Prado, ARI
    3B Pablo Sandoval, SF

     

    Offense Analysis

    Top to bottom, this gets my vote for the best lineup of any division. There is a legitimate star at every position, and the entire bench is capable of starting without the team losing much.

    Prado is as valuable a player to have off the bench as anyone. He can play just about anywhere and hits over .300 with decent power.

    Dexter Fowler, Carlos Quentin and a potentially healthy Carl Crawford were edged out for the final bench spot by Sandoval.

     

    Rotation

    LHP Clayton Kershaw, LA
    RHP Matt Cain, SF
    RHP Zack Greinke, LA
    LHP Madison Bumgarner, SF
    RHP Ian Kennedy, ARI

     

    Bullpen

    RHP Luke Gregerson, SD
    RHP David Hernandez, ARI
    LHP Jeremy Affeldt, SF
    RHP Kenley Jansen, LA
    RHP J.J. Putz, ARI
    RHP Sergio Romo, SF
    RHP Huston Street, SD

     

    Pitching Analysis

    The Kershaw-Cain duo at the top of the rotation would be deadly, and Greinke and Bumgarner are solid second-tier guys behind them.

    The uncertainty surrounding Tim Lincecum kept him off the roster, but he could certainly prove himself worthy of a spot quickly. He was joined by Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Edinson Volquez and Ryan Vogelsong as pitchers who missed out on the No. 5 spot.

    The bullpen, though it's without a long reliever and has only one left-hander, may be the best of any division. Street edges out the dynamic Romo for the closer's job based on his track record.