MLB Power Rankings: Building the Ultimate MLB Team
When fans head to the ballot-box to vote their favorite players into the Major League Baseball All-Star Game every July, in one way or another, they always make a mistake.
I, however, do not. Ever.
What lies ahead is the best baseball team ever known to man. I have taken the best player currently in baseball at each position to comprise the "Ultimate MLB Team."
It wasn't easy, by any means, as today's game is full of superstars deserving of consideration for this list.
After throwing all biases out the window and carefully deciphering between all of the leagues' top players, I am 100 percent confident in the end result.
You should be, too.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
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As much as I wanted to give the distinction to either Victor Martinez or Mike Napoli for their phenomenal seasons', both spent most of their time away from the backstop so they were not eligible.
In just eight seasons, Joe Mauer has compiled a 35.6 oWAR to go with an AL MVP Award. His career .995 fielding percentage from the catching position is the third best mark in baseball history.
While injuries have likely forced the 28-year-old to first base within the next few years, there is no doubt he's still the best catcher in baseball today.
Honorable Mention: Brian McCann
First Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
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First base is arguably the deepest position in baseball, though there was little doubt who to select in this scenario.
Albert Pujols will go down as one of the greatest players in baseball history. He's so good that his .299 BA, 37 HR and 99 RBI this season was considered a down year.
At 31 years old, Pujols' best seasons may very well be behind him. Regardless, with his combined offensive and defensive abilities, the game may have never seen such a complete first baseman.
Honorable Mention: Miguel Cabrera
Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
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A stellar 2011 performance has officially separated Robinson Cano from the pack as far as second basemen are concerned.
Cano hit .302 with 32 home runs and 118 RBI in establishing himself as the best second basemen in the game and, most likely, the player the New York Yankees will want to build around heading into the future.
Chase Utley could have garnered some attention if not for injuries derailing his last two seasons.
Honorable Mention: Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
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This was a toss up between Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes. Both are phenomenal shortstops and both bring something different to the game.
Tulo' is as close to a complete package there is as far as shortstops go. He can hit for power (30 HR) and for average (.302), along with being one of the top defensive shortstops in the league (1.3 dWAR).
Reyes, on the other hand, won the NL batting title this season (.337) and can steal bases (39 SB) with anyone.
If I am choosing one to build a team, however, I choose Tulowitzki simply because he is more apt to staying on the field.
Honorable Mention: Jose Reyes
Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
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Not only has Adrian Beltre long been one of the best defensive players among third basemen, he is also the best hitter, as well.
Beltre's career seemed to be tailing off after the 2009 season, though he's come back to hit .310 with 60 long balls and 207 RBI over the last two seasons.
Strong consideration was given to the Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria. He is a very strong defender, but he has yet to get both his power and average to work in the same season.
Honorable Mention: Evan Longoria
Left Field: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
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Ryan Braun put together a magical 2011 season in leading the Milwaukee Brewers to their first League Championship Series since 1982.
Braun led all left fielders in home runs (33), RBI (111), batting average (.332) and OPS (.994). He also managed to swipe 33 bags to enter the 30-30 club.
At this point, Braun is one of the best young stars in baseball. It'll be interesting to see how he performs without the protection of Prince Fielder in the lineup behind him.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Gonzalez
Center Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
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After a few lackluster seasons where we were only fortunate to see brief glimpses of his potential, Matt Kemp put his five-tool talent together in a big way in 2011.
The NL MVP candidate was one home run shy of the 40-40 club while leading the National League with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. Kemp was also in the hunt for the Triple Crown until the last couple days of the season.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox garnered some heavy consideration, as well. In the end, however, Ellsbury's magnificent season didn't even compare to that of Kemp's.
The New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson was also considered, though his .262 average left a bit to be desired.
Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury
Right Field: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Justin Upton rounds out the outfield, with all three outfielders being MVP candidates in the National League.
Upton, who just recently turned 24 years old, put together a fantastic season in 2011 while leading his Arizona Diamondbacks to the NL West title. He slugged 31 home runs, stole 21 bags and got his average back up to .289.
Many people would make a case for Jose Bautista in this spot, but Upton his seven years his junior and he's a five-tool player.
Honorable Mention: Jose Bautista
Designated Hitter: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
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While I nixed Victor Martinez from consideration for catching duties on this squad, he is without a doubt the right man for the designated hitter duties.
Martinez is great at hitting for average (.330 BA in 2011) and still has some pop in his bat (12 HR). He also hit .394 with runners in scoring position this season, including a .375 clip with two outs.
David Ortiz put together a stellar season for the Boston Red Sox, but he turns 36 years old soon and probably doesn't have more than two years of capable dominance left in him.
Honorable Mention: David Ortiz
Rotation: The Fab Five
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No. 1: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
No. 2: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
No. 3: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
No. 4: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
No. 5: CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
It was very difficult to decipher which five starters I'd use to form the ultimate rotation. Due to some doubt as to whether CC Sabathia can maintain his blistering pace much longer into the future, I initially had Jered Weaver slotted in as the No. 5 starter. I later decided that CC deserves the spot until we actually see some kind of drop off in his performance.
Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown this season and was a no doubt selection to anchor the rotation—as was Lincecum and his 2.98 career-ERA at No. 2.
At this point it got tricky.
Kershaw has been stellar over the past three seasons, though none were quite as dominant as his Triple Crown performance in 2011.
I had to give Halladay the nod at No. 4. Even though he's 33 years old, Doc has continued to improve each season and has shown no signs of slowing down.
As far as CC goes, the man has pitched more than 230 innings during each of the past five seasons while holding his opponents to an ERA in the low-3.00s. Every rotation can use a workhorse, especially one who's as dominant as CC has proven to be of late.
Honorable Mention No. 1: Jered Weaver
Honorable Mention No. 2: Cole Hamels
Honorable Mention No. 3: Cliff Lee
Closer and Setup Man: Dynamic Duo
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Closer: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Setup Man: Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
I understand that the soon-to-be 41-year-old Rivera only has a couple of years left in his arm. However, as the best closer in Major League Baseball history, he more than deserves this honor.
Plus, that's why we have Valverde taking over in the eighth inning. He will be ready for the closer's role when Mo decides to hang up his spikes.
Rivera saved 44 games for the Yankees this season as he continued to fool batters into a 1.91 ERA. Did I mention he's also Mr. Clutch in the playoffs?
As for Valverde, the Tigers' closer notched a league-best 49 saves this season while looking as dominant as any closer in baseball. Opposing hitters managed only a .198 batting average against him on the season.
Honorable Mention: Craig Kimbrel