Creating MLB's Division-by-Division Superteams for the 2022 Season

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2022

Creating MLB's Division-by-Division Superteams for the 2022 Season

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    As the 2022 season kicks into gear, we set out to create division-by-division MLB superteams.

    Let's set the stage with some parameters:

    • Roster Construction: We selected a 26-man roster for each team, consisting of 13 position players and 13 pitchers who all reside within the same division.
    • Payroll Limitations: To spice things up a bit, we instituted a payroll cap of $150 million for each team based on 2022 salaries (via Spotrac). For pre-arbitration players whose salaries aren't public, we assigned the league-minimum salary of $700,000.
    • Notes: Below each division's roster are a few notes explaining the logic behind certain picks, notable omissions and other useful tidbits.

    The full roster and payroll breakdown for each superteam can be found here.

    Let's get started.

AL East

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    Aaron Judge and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Aaron Judge and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. CF Cedric Mullins (BAL), 2. SS Bo Bichette (TOR), 3. 3B Rafael Devers (BOS), 4. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR), 5. RF Aaron Judge (NYY), 6. 2B Brandon Lowe (TB), 7. DH Teoscar Hernandez (TOR), 8. LF Randy Arozarena (TB), 9. C Danny Jansen (TOR)

    Bench: C Kyle Higashioka (NYY), IF Wander Franco (TB), IF/OF Enrique Hernandez (BOS), OF Joey Gallo (NYY)

    Starting Rotation: 1. RHP Gerrit Cole (NYY), 2. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (BOS), 3. LHP John Means (BAL), 4. RHP Alek Manoah (TOR), 5. LHP Shane McClanahan (TB)

    Bullpen: RHP Tanner Houck (BOS), RHP Clay Holmes (NYY), LHP Tim Mayza (TOR), RHP Chad Green (NYY), RHP Garrett Whitlock (BOS), RHP Andrew Kittredge (TB), RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY), RHP Jordan Romano (TOR)

    Total 2022 Salary: $144.2 million



    The decision to splurge on Gerrit Cole ($36 million) was largely offset by the fact that Alek Manoah ($706,200) and Shane McClanahan ($700,000) are making roughly the league minimum. However, it was still tough to leave Kevin Gausman ($21 million) and Jose Berrios ($10.7 million) off the rotation.

    The most difficult snub was Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts ($20 million), though Bo Bichette ($723,550) provides similar if not slightly better production for a fraction of the price.

    It feels wrong having only three Tampa Bay Rays players on the team after they won 100 games last year, but they continue to be a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" team.

AL Central

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    Jose Ramirez
    Jose RamirezJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. SS Tim Anderson (CWS), 2. LF Luis Robert (CWS), 3. 3B Jose Ramirez (CLE), 4. 1B Jose Abreu (CWS), 5. CF Byron Buxton (MIN), 6. C Salvador Perez (KC), 7. 2B Jorge Polanco (MIN), 8. DH Franmil Reyes (CLE), 9. RF Whit Merrifield (KC)

    Bench: C Ryan Jeffers (MIN), 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario (DET), IF/OF Luis Arraez (MIN), OF Myles Straw (CLE)

    Starting Rotation: 1. RHP Shane Bieber (CLE), 2. RHP Lucas Giolito (CWS), 3. RHP Sonny Gray (MIN), 4. RHP Casey Mize (DET), 5. RHP Dylan Cease (CWS)

    Bullpen: RHP Michael Kopech (CWS), LHP Caleb Thielbar (MIN), RHP James Karinchak (CLE), LHP Aaron Bummer (CWS), RHP Scott Barlow (KC), LHP Gregory Soto (DET), RHP Emmanuel Clase (CLE), RHP Liam Hendriks (CWS)

    Total 2022 Salary: $149.7 million



    It didn't make sense to spend to have both Salvador Perez ($18 million) and Yasmani Grandal ($18.3 million) on the roster, so Grandal tops the list of biggest snubs.

    Detroit Tigers free-agent signing Eduardo Rodriguez is probably good enough to be the No. 3 starter on this team, but his $14 million salary kept him off the roster in favor of fellow veteran Sonny Gray ($10.7 million) once it started to become a money crunch.

    With salary as a limiting factor in this exercise, Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson ($9.5 million) was a no-brainer at shortstop over splashy offseason signings Carlos Correa ($35.1 million) and Javier Baez ($20 million).

AL West

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    Shohei Ohtani
    Shohei OhtaniRob Leiter/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. DH Shohei Ohtani (LAA), 2. 2B Marcus Semien (TEX), 3. CF Mike Trout (LAA), 4. LF Yordan Alvarez (HOU), 5. RF Kyle Tucker (HOU), 6. 1B Yuli Gurriel (HOU), 7. 3B Ty France (SEA), 8. SS J.P. Crawford (SEA), 9. C Sean Murphy (OAK)

    Bench: C Max Stassi (LAA), 1B/OF Jared Walsh (LAA), IF/OF Tony Kemp (OAK), OF Adolis Garcia (TEX), OF Julio Rodriguez (SEA)

    Starting Rotation: 1. LHP Robbie Ray (SEA), 2. RHP Shohei Ohtani (LAA), 3. RHP Frankie Montas (OAK), 4. LHP Framber Valdez (HOU). 5. RHP Luis Garcia (HOU)

    Bullpen: RHP Cristian Javier (HOU), LHP Brett Martin (TEX), RHP Diego Castillo (SEA), RHP Joe Barlow (TEX), RHP Ryne Stanek (HOU), RHP Paul Sewald (SEA), RHP Raisel Iglesias (LAA), RHP Ryan Pressly (HOU)

    Total 2022 Salary: $148.8 million



    We got a bit creative here playing Ty France at third base, but that's where he began his career in the minors, and he's played there sporadically in the majors. It simply didn't work financially to plug Anthony Rendon ($36.6 million) or Alex Bregman ($12.7 million) in at the hot corner.

    With a reasonable $7 million salary, Jesse Winker feels like a major snub, but there was just no clean way to get him onto the team without weakening another area. He wouldn't be starting in that outfield or in the DH spot on this roster, and he would have been an expensive bench piece.

    Sorting out the final few spots in the bullpen was tough, and Brett Martin ultimately got a nod largely to give the relief corps at least one left-hander.

NL East

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    Ozzie Albies and Matt Olson
    Ozzie Albies and Matt OlsonIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. CF Ronald Acuna Jr., 2. LF Juan Soto (WAS), 3. RF Bryce Harper (PHI), 4. DH Pete Alonso (NYM), 5. 1B Matt Olson (ATL), 6. 3B Austin Riley (ATL), 7. 2B Ozzie Albies (ATL), 8. SS Jazz Chisholm Jr., 9. C Jacob Stallings (MIA)

    Bench: C Keibert Ruiz (WAS), IF Bryson Stott (PHI), OF Jesus Sanchez (MIA), OF Lane Thomas (WAS)

    Starting Rotation: 1. LHP Max Fried (ATL), 2. RHP Aaron Nola (PHI), 3. RHP Sandy Alcantara (MIA), 4. LHP Trevor Rogers (MIA), 5. RHP Ian Anderson (ATL)

    Bullpen: LHP Ranger Suarez (PHI), RHP Seth Lugo (NYM), RHP Connor Brogdon (PHI), RHP Kyle Finnegan (WAS), RHP Anthony Bender (MIA), RHP Trevor May (NYM), LHP Tyler Matzek (ATL), RHP Edwin Diaz (NYM)

    Total 2022 Salary: $149.4 million



    Excluding Zack Wheeler ($26 million) and J.T. Realmuto ($23.9 million) is not meant to be a knock on the Philadelphia Phillies. There were just more cost-effective options at their positions to help assemble the best possible roster.

    Ideally, Francisco Lindor ($34.1 million) or Dansby Swanson ($10.1 million) would be the pick at shortstop, but slotting 20/20 threat Jazz Chisholm Jr. ($700,000) back at his natural position up the middle was the best way to maximize payroll.

    The bullpen would certainly benefit from Kenley Jansen ($16 million) and Will Smith ($13 million), but don't sleep on Anthony Bender (60 G, 3 SV, 2.79 ERA, 10.4 K/9) and Kyle Finnegan (68 G, 11 SV, 3.55 ERA, 9.3 K/9), who both quietly emerged as solid late-inning options during the 2021 season.

NL Central

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    Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado
    Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan ArenadoNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. 2B Jonathan India (CIN), 2. 1B Paul Goldschmidt (STL), 3. DH Bryan Reynolds (PIT), 4. 3B Nolan Arenado (STL), 5. LF Tyler O'Neill (STL), 6. C Willson Contreras (CHC), 7. RF Hunter Renfroe (MIL), 8. SS Willy Adames (MIL), 9. CF Harrison Bader (STL)

    Bench: C Tyler Stephenson (CIN), IF/OF Tommy Edman (STL), 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT), OF Dylan Carlson (STL)

    Starting Rotation: 1. RHP Corbin Burnes (MIL), 2. RHP Brandon Woodruff (MIL), 3. Kyle Hendricks (CHC), 4. Freddy Peralta (MIL), 5. Tyler Mahle (CIN)

    Bullpen: LHP Aaron Ashby (MIL), RHP Rowan Wick (CHC), RHP Art Warren (CIN), LHP Genesis Cabrera (STL), RHP David Bednar (PIT), RHP Giovanny Gallegos (STL), RHP Devin Williams (MIL), LHP Josh Hader (MIL)

    Total 2022 Salary: $144.5 million



    Even with Marcus Stroman ($25 million) and Adam Wainwright ($17.5 million) excluded from the starting rotation, this might be the strongest five-man staff of any of the divisions. That's thanks in large part to the Milwaukee Brewers' cost-effective trio of Corbin Burnes ($6.5 million), Brandon Woodruff ($6.8 million) and Freddy Peralta ($2.5 million).

    The bullpen is also stacked, with all five teams contributing at least one arm to the eight-man relief corps, and only Josh Hader ($11 million) and Giovanny Gallegos ($2.4 million) making more than $1 million from that group.

    St. Louis Cardinals fans will no doubt want Yadier Molina ($10 million) on the roster, but Willson Contreras ($7.5 million) and Tyler Stephenson ($700,000) combined are making less money.

NL West

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    Walker Buehler
    Walker BuehlerNorm Hall/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: 1. RF Mookie Betts (LAD), 2. 1B Freddie Freeman (LAD), 3. 2B Trea Turner (LAD), 4. SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD), 5. DH Max Muncy (LAD), 6. CF Ketel Marte (ARI), 7. C Will Smith (LAD), 8. 3B Ryan McMahon (COL), 9. LF Trent Grisham (SD)

    Bench: C/OF Daulton Varsho (ARI), 1B/OF Darin Ruf (SF), IF Jake Cronenworth (SD), IF Brendan Rodgers (COL)

    Starting Rotation: 1. RHP Walker Buehler (LAD), 2. LHP Julio Urias (LAD), 3. RHP Logan Webb (SF), 4. RHP Joe Musgrove (SD), 5. RHP Zac Gallen (ARI)

    Bullpen: RHP Tony Gonsolin (LAD), LHP Tim Hill (SD), RHP Dominic Leone (SF), LHP Alex Vesia (LAD), RHP Tyler Rogers (SF), LHP Jake McGee (SF), RHP Camilo Doval (SF), LHP Taylor Rogers (SD)

    Total 2022 Salary: $149.7 million



    Rising star Ryan McMahon ($5 million) is the pick at third base over Manny Machado ($32 million) and Justin Turner ($20 million) largely because of salary, but he's quietly coming off a 4.0-WAR season where he tallied 32 doubles and 23 home runs while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

    Among the pitchers who didn't quite fit the budget, Carlos Rodon ($21.5 million), Yu Darvish ($19 million), Clayton Kershaw ($17 million) and Blake Snell ($13.1 million) all wound up on the outside looking in, but this is still a terrific starting staff.

    Sliding Trea Turner over to second base and shifting Ketel Marte to center field wasn't a stretch defensively, and it allowed for the best possible lineup.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, while salary information comes via Spotrac.