Who Ya Got? MLB's All-Postseason Team vs. All-Eliminated Team

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2021

Who Ya Got? MLB's All-Postseason Team vs. All-Eliminated Team

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Who's ready for a wild hypothetical?

    The 10 teams that qualified for the MLB postseason and the 20 teams that were eliminated from postseason contention during the regular season have decided to face off head-to-head by way of a pair of 26-man rosters made up of the best players those two groups have to offer.

    Who wins?

    That's what we set out to answer.

    The first step was selecting the rosters for what we've dubbed the All-Postseason Team and the All-Eliminated Team, and whittling down an entire league worth of players to 26 spots was no easy task.

    For consistency of roster construction, we went with a nine-man starting lineup that included a designated hitter for both teams, a five-man bench that had to include a backup catcher and someone capable of playing shortstop, a five-man rotation, and a seven-man bullpen.

    From there, an edge was given in the battle of starting lineups, benches, starting rotations and bullpens before a verdict was made on which team had the edge.

    Let's have some fun!

All-Postseason Team Starting Lineup and Bench Picks

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    Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton
    Aaron Judge and Giancarlo StantonJohn Minchillo/Associated Press


    1. 2B Trea Turner, LAD
    2. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, STL
    3. RF Aaron Judge, NYY
    4. 3B Austin Riley, ATL
    5. CF Kyle Tucker, HOU
    6. DH Giancarlo Stanton, NYY
    7. LF Tyler O'Neill, STL
    8. SS Carlos Correa, HOU
    9. C Buster Posey, SF

    The middle infield tandem of Carlos Correa and Trea Turner, who ranked first and seventh, respectively, in WAR among position players this season, were both no-brainers for a spot on the All-Postseason Team. With a number of MVP candidates missing the postseason, especially among first basemen and outfielders, Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Judge were also easy picks.

    Third baseman Austin Riley and outfielders Tyler O'Neill and Kyle Tucker were among the biggest breakout stars of the 2021 season. Much like the All-Star Game, we simply picked three outfielders to fill out the starting lineup, so Tucker shifts to center field.

    A strong month of September earns Giancarlo Stanton the DH spot over Yordan Alvarez, a banged up J.D. Martinez, and Austin Meadows, while veteran Buster Posey gets the starting catcher nod in a season where the San Francisco Giants made a concerted effort to keep him fresh.



    C Will Smith, LAD
    1B Freddie Freeman, ATL
    SS Brandon Crawford, SF
    3B Rafael Devers, BOS
    OF Luis Robert, CWS

    With our starting DH also capable of handling the outfield, corner infielders Freddie Freeman and Rafael Devers both found a spot on the bench. They were both easy choices alongside Will Smith in the backup catcher spot.

    The backup middle infield spot goes to Brandon Crawford, who edges out Corey Seager, Willy Adames, Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve and Tim Anderson. There was no shortage of outfielders to choose from, and leaving Mookie Betts off the roster was tough, but Luis Robert has been electric since returning from the injured list while racking up 3.6 WAR in just 68 games this year.

All-Eliminated Team Starting Lineup and Bench Picks

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    Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Mark Blinch/Getty Images


    1. DH Shohei Ohtani, LAA
    2. LF Juan Soto, WAS
    3. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
    4. RF Bryce Harper, PHI
    5. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
    6. C Salvador Perez, KC
    7. 2B Marcus Semien, TOR
    8. 3B Jose Ramirez, CLE
    9. CF Cedric Mullins, BAL


    This lineup is absolutely stacked, and there's a serious case to be made that every single one of these guys was the best player at his respective position during the 2021 season.

    Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will likely finish 1-2 in AL MVP voting, while the NL MVP race figures to come down to Bryce Harper, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. in some order.

    Catcher Salvador Perez and second baseman Marcus Semien set the single-season record for home runs at their respective positions while both playing terrific defense, and Cedric Mullins was baseball's only 30/30 player this year and the first in Baltimore Orioles history.

    The only debate for top spot worthiness is Jose Ramirez at third base, but with Austin Riley and Rafael Devers both on the All-Postseason Team he was a shoo-in for a spot in the starting lineup here.



    C J.T. Realmuto, PHI
    1B Matt Olson, OAK
    SS Bo Bichette, TOR
    OF Nick Castellanos, CIN
    OF Bryan Reynolds, PIT

    Slugger Matt Olson would be a serious MVP candidate in a lot of other seasons after posting a 153 OPS+ with 35 doubles, 39 home runs and 111 RBI in a 5.8-WAR season. Instead, he settles for a bench spot here behind Guerrero.

    The backup catcher spot was an easy choice with J.T. Realmuto having another solid year, and a third Blue Jay joins the party in Bo Bichette who led the AL in hits (191) and tallied 30 doubles, 29 home runs and 25 steals en route to 6.0 WAR.

    Outfielders Nick Castellanos (136 OPS+, 34 HR, 100 RBI) and Bryan Reynolds (146 OPS+, 24 HR, 90 RBI) were two of the most productive hitters in the National League, and worthy additions to the bench.

Who Has the Starting Lineup Edge?

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    As mentioned, there is a serious case to be made that the All-Eliminated Team has the best individual player at every position, so the decision here is pretty easy.

    Both lineups are obviously stacked, but the All-Eliminated Team boasts the top six finishers in OPS+ among qualified hitters in Harper (179), Soto (175), Guerrero (169), Tatis (166), Ohtani (158) and Olson (153).

    They also have the only five players to reach 40 home runs this season in Guerrero (48), Perez (48), Ohtani (46), Semien (45) and Tatis (42).

    So again, both lineups are extremely talented, but the decision here is not a tough one.

    Verdict: All-Eliminated Team

All-Postseason Team Starting Rotation Picks

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    Max Scherzer
    Max ScherzerIcon Sportswire/Getty Images


    RHP Max Scherzer, LAD
    RHP Corbin Burnes, MIL
    RHP Walker Buehler, LAD
    RHP Brandon Woodruff, MIL
    LHP Max Fried, ATL

    The Los Angeles Dodgers (2.93) and Milwaukee Brewers (3.13) had the best starting pitching ERAs in baseball by a wide margin, with the San Francisco Giants (3.44), Chicago White Sox (3.57) and Houston Astros (3.60) rounding out the top five. It's no major surprise then to see two pitchers from each of those staffs crack our All-Postseason Team rotation.

    Max Scherzer (179.1 IP, 2.46 ERA, 236 K) and Corbin Burnes (167.0 IP, 2.43 ERA, 234 K) are the front-runners for NL Cy Young honors, and the duo ranked 1-2 among all qualified starters in ERA and WHIP while dominating for much of the year.

    Budding ace Walker Buehler (207.2 IP, 2.47 ERA, 212 K) led the majors with 27 quality starts in 33 games, and after tossing a game in Game 3 of the World Series last year he'll look to continue building his resume. Burly right-hander Brandon Woodruff (179.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, 211 K) had a dominant season of his own alongside Burnes in the Milwaukee rotation, and he's a no-brainer for a spot on the staff as well.

    The debate really begins with the No. 5 starter spot, where Max Fried (165.2 IP, 3.04 ERA, 158 K) gets the nod thanks to an MLB-best 1.74 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break. Gerrit Cole, Freddy Peralta, Adam Wainwright, Kevin Gausman, Carlos Rodon, Lance Lynn, Lance McCullers Jr., Logan Webb and Nathan Eovaldi also received consideration.

All-Eliminated Team Starting Rotation Picks

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    Robbie Ray
    Robbie RayCole Burston/Getty Images


    LHP Robbie Ray, TOR
    RHP Zack Wheeler, PHI
    RHP Joe Musgrove, SD
    RHP Sandy Alcantara, MIA
    RHP Frankie Montas, OAK

    Left-hander Robbie Ray (193.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 248 K) led the American League in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and innings pitched, and he's the odds-on favorite to take home AL Cy Young honors before reaching free agency this winter.

    The other obvious choice for the All-Eliminated rotation is Zack Wheeler (213.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 247 K) who led the National League in strikeouts and the majors in innings pitched. The 31-year-old has been worth every penny two years into a five-year, $118 million contract.

    The other three spots are open to debate.

    Joe Musgrove (181.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 203 K), Sandy Alcantara (205.2 IP, 3.19 ERA, 201 K) and Frankie Montas (187.0 IP, 3.37 ERA, 207 K) were our picks, and all three turned in terrific seasons that went largely under the radar.

    There's also a case to be made for Marcus Stroman, Jose Berrios, Chris Flexen, Tyler Mahle, Trevor Rogers, John Means and German Marquez for a spot on the staff.

Who Has the Starting Rotation Edge?

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    Corbin Burnes
    Corbin BurnesMichael Owens/Getty Images

    The first four spots in the All-Postseason rotation belong to the four best pitchers in baseball this season, and that gives that group a major advantage in this matchup.

    Ray and Wheeler are both in the same upper-tier of starting pitchers this season as those four guys, so it boils down to four elite-level starters against two for the sake of this argument.

    Several guys who didn't make the All-Postseason rotationCole, Peralta, Wainwright, Gausman, Rodon and Lynn, to name a few—would have been shoo-ins to earn a spot on the All-Eliminated rotation, and that speaks volumes.

    Pitching wins championships, and this year's postseason field is littered with some of the game's top arms.

    Verdict: All-Postseason Team

All-Postseason Team Bullpen Picks

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    Josh Hader
    Josh HaderJohn Fisher/Getty Images


    RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY
    RHP Andrew Kittredge, TB
    RHP Tyler Rogers, SF
    RHP Blake Treinen, LAD
    RHP Ryan Pressly, HOU
    RHP Liam Hendriks, CWS
    LHP Josh Hader, MIL

    The All-Postseason Team's bullpen is anchored by three of the most dominant closers in baseball this year in Josh Hader (34/35 SV, 1.23 ERA, 15.7 K/9), Liam Hendriks (38/44 SV, 2.54 ERA, 14.3 K/9) and Ryan Pressly (26/28 SV, 2.25 ERA, 11.4 K/9).

    The middle relief roles are filled by sinkerballer Blake Treinen (32 HLD, 1.99 ERA, 10.6 K/9) and submarine pitcher Tyler Rogers (30 HLD, 2.22 ERA, 6.1 K/9) who both excelled in a setup role this year for the two NL West title contenders. They were two of the three pitchers in baseball with at least 30 holds.

    The final bullpen slots go to All-Star Andrew Kittredge (9 W, 8 SV, 7 HLD, 1.88 ERA, 72.1 IP) and breakout star Jonathan Loaisiga (9 W, 5 SV, 18 HLD, 2.17 ERA 70.2 IP). Both pitchers are capable of recording more than three outs, and they have served in a variety of roles in their respective bullpens this season.

    Luke Jackson (ATL), Garrett Whitlock (BOS), Chad Green (NYY), Kenley Jansen (LAD) and Kendall Graveman (HOU) were among the toughest omissions.

All-Eliminated Team Bullpen Picks

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    Emmanuel Clase
    Emmanuel ClaseIcon Sportswire/Getty Images


    LHP Ranger Suarez, PHI
    RHP Paul Sewald, SEA
    LHP Aaron Loup, NYM
    RHP Scott Barlow, KC
    RHP Mark Melancon, SD
    RHP Raisel Iglesias, LAA
    RHP Emmanuel Clase, CLE

    Not to be outdone, the All-Eliminated team had a lights-out trio of closers as well at the back end of its bullpen with Emmanuel Clase (24/29 SV, 1.29 ERA, 9.6 K/9), Raisel Iglesias (34/39 SV, 2.57 ERA, 13.2 K/9) and Mark Melancon (39/45 SV, 2.23 ERA, 8.2 K/9) tasked with slamming the door on games.

    The unheralded duo of Scott Barlow (16 SV, 14 HLD, 2.42 ERA, 11.0 K/9) and Paul Sewald (11 SV, 16 HLD, 3.06 ERA, 14.5 K/9) emerged as shutdown options this season, while 33-year-old veteran Aaron Loup (17 HLD, 0.95 ERA, 9.1 K/9) enjoyed the best year of his career after inking a one-year, $3 million deal during the offseason.

    The final spot goes to swingman Ranger Suarez who posted a 1.36 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 106 innings spanning 12 starts and 27 relief appearances. The 26-year-old moved into the Phillies starting rotation at the beginning of August after a dominant run in the bullpen and fits perfectly here in a long relief role.

    Andrew Chafin (OAK), Drew Steckenrider (SEA), Jordan Romano (TOR), David Bednar (PIT) and Gregory Soto (DET) are all worthy of an honorable mention.

Who Has the Bullpen Edge?

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    Jonathan Loaisiga
    Jonathan LoaisigaWinslow Townson/Getty Images

    Hader is the most dominant reliever in baseball, and slotting him alongside Hendriks in the late innings with Loaisiga and Kittredge on the front end as two of the most versatile bullpen arms in the game puts that All-Postseason Team bullpen in a great position to succeed.

    That said, Clase has been untouchable for most of the year at the back of the All-Eliminated Bullpen and they are a more balanced group with a pair of left-handers and five guys who saw time in the closer's role this year. Suarez would be a huge X-factor as a multi-inning option.

    Even with elite starting pitching on both rosters, the bullpens would undoubtedly play a major role as we see every October.

    This was the toughest decision by far, but baseball's best closer is enough to push the All-Postseason Team over the top by the slimmest of margins.

    Verdict: All-Postseason Team


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    Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

    It's fascinating that this inadvertently comes down to the age-old debate of pitching vs. hitting, with the All-Postseason Team holding the advantage in the starting rotation and the bullpen, while the All-Eliminated Team has a more fearsome lineup.

    In a best-of-seven series, it's hard to bet against that starting rotation the All-Postseason Team boasts, especially with a bullpen anchored by arguably the two best closers in baseball flanking them in the late innings.

    At the same time, that All-Eliminated Team lineup could do enough damage to bridge the gap, and it's not like their pitching staff is bad by any stretch of the imagination.

    I'm giving the All-Postseason Team the edge by a nose, but I'd pay an exorbitant amount of money to see this series play out in real life.

    Hope you've enjoyed this hypothetical as we settle in for an exciting October of baseball!


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, Stathead and Fangraphs.


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