2010 All-MLB Team

Greatest inventions of all time: the wheel, the camera, Velcro, In-N-Out Burger. Over the last couple years, we can add one more thing to that list; MLB Network. For baseball fans, it is the Mecca of analysis, highlights and coverage. As I sat watching the 2010 Year in Review show yesterday, trying not to throw the remote through the screen as they continually showed those filthy, rotten San Francisco Giants celebrating their World Series victory, I found myself curious as to how they compiled their “All-MLB team.”

First of all, they had to choose just nine position players, one designated hitter, one utility player, one starting pitcher, one reliever and one closer to round out the team. From both leagues combined. Still, they made some…curious choices. In what was such a memorable year for baseball, how do you limit yourself to that tiny roster? So even though it may be more blasphemous than bringing a nun to a strip club, I decided to say, “I can do it better.” I’ve allowed myself a 30-man roster, plus a “backup” starting rotation (give me a break, it was the Year of the Pitcher) in choosing my All-MLB team for 2010:

Catcher:
Starter – Buster Posey, SF
Backup – Joe Mauer, MIN

What better way for Posey to top off a season in which he won Rookie of the Year and a World Series ring? Of course, the next best honor; being a part of my All-MLB team! There were three legitimate candidates in my mind, and Posey, by virtue of winning the ring, edged out Mauer for the starting spot. Not only did he put up monster offensive numbers in just over half of a season, but he handled the best pitching staff in the league with finesse and professionalism. Apologies to Brian McCann (ATL)*

First Base:
Starter – Joey Votto, CIN
Backup – Albert Pujols, STL*

This was by far the most difficult category to choose. I ended up siding with the National League MVP, Votto. He had a crazy offensive season, was extremely clutch, and led the Reds to a long-awaited N.L. Central title. Something I think stands out even more is that according to Yahoo! blogs, he had yet to hit an infield pop fly almost at the season’s end. It’s rare to see a player making contact that good. And of course, the backup is Pujols, who had his typical Hall-of-Fame caliber season. Apologies to Miguel Cabrera, DET; Prince Fielder, MIL; Adrian Gonzalez, SD; Mark Teixeira, NYY

Second Base:
Starter – Robinson Cano, NYY*
Backup – Dan Uggla, FLA

Cano was an easy choice. He almost stole the American League MVP award from Josh Hamilton. Great defense, improved power, 200 hits for the second straight season…easy choice. Cano carried the Yankees at times when they were decimated by injury, poor play, whatever. I chose Uggla as the backup based on his power numbers, but it was tough to say no to these guys: apologies to Brandon Phillips, CIN and Rickie Weeks, MIL

Third Base:
Starter – Adrian Beltre, BOS*
Backup – Alex Rodriguez, NYY

Another tough category, as four of the five A.L. East teams had a legitimate candidate. Beltre had an insane season, his best since his contract year with the Dodgers. That being said, it’s his second great season…both in his contract year. We will see if this is another fluke, and if the Rangers (most likely) end up regretting giving him big money. But as for this year, Beltre led the way at the hot corner on both offense and defense. Apologies to Jose Bautista, TOR; Evan Longoria, TB; Michael Young, TEX; Casey McGehee, MIL; Ryan Zimmerman, WAS

Shortstop:
Starter – Troy Tulowitzki, COL*
Backup – Hanley Ramirez, FLA

Who cares if Tulo missed a bunch of time with a wrist injury? He hit fifteen home runs and drove in 40 runs…IN SEPTEMBER. The guy had possibly his most impressive offensive season even with the injury. And as usual, he was a wall at shortstop. He almost led the Rockies back from a huge deficit to win the N.L. West before a late slide killed those dreams. Either way, Tulo dominated opposing pitchers this year. And even in a down year, the backup Ramirez still put up crazy numbers. Apologies to Derek Jeter, NYY; Alexei Ramirez, CHW; Juan Uribe, SF

Outfield:
Starters – Josh Hamilton, TEX*; Carlos Gonzalez, COL*; Carl Crawford, TB
Backups – Matt Holliday, STL; Ichiro Suzuki, SEA*; Nelson Cruz, TEX

What a crop of outfielders this year. Hamilton won the A.L. MVP, Gonzalez exploded to almost outpace Votto and Pujols for the N.L. honor, and Crawford was his typical blend of power, speed, average and defense. Holliday put up huge numbers again, Ichiro reached 200 hits for the tenth straight season, and Cruz complemented the runner-up Rangers and Hamilton, dropping bombs and driving in runs like nobody’s business. Despite all six players having solid seasons, the starters were surprisingly easy to choose. Crawford and Hamilton were no-brainers in my opinion, and Gonzalez played his way in (why, oh WHY did the A’s trade him?). His walk-off home run, er, moon shot to complete the cycle this summer was just unbelievable. Apologies to Adam Dunn, WAS; Delmon Young, MIN; Austin Jackson, DET; Jason Heyward, ATL

Designated Hitter:
Starter – Vladimir Guerrero, TEX*
Backup – Vladimir Guerrero, TEX

No, that’s not a typo. I am going to toot my own horn here for a second; I chose Vlad in the 15th round of my fantasy draft with the uncanny knowledge that he would bounce back and have a monster year. But, is there any DH in the league last year that opposing pitchers wanted to face less than Vlad? The guy is still the most intimidating hitter in the league and still hits the ball from anywhere in the strike zone 500 feet. If the Rangers don’t shell out some money to re-sign him, they are absolutely crazy. Guerrero was just as instrumental to their postseason berth as Hamilton or Cruz last season. Apologies to pitchers anywhere and everywhere who Vlad steps in against.

Starting Pitcher:
Starting Rotation – Felix Hernandez, SEA; Cliff Lee, TEX/SEA; Jon Lester, BOS; David Price, TB; Roy Halladay, PHI*
Backup Rotation – CC Sabathia, NYY; Tim Lincecum, SF; Adam Wainwright, STL; Josh Johnson, FLA; Trevor Cahill, OAK

This was a fun one. There were so many amazing pitching seasons this year that I just had to take ten on my roster. In my starting rotation, I had to include the annually underrated, under-run-supported, A.L. Cy Young-winning Hernandez, the twice-unhittable (once-perfect) N.L. Cy Young-winning Halladay, and a few other A.L. studs. Lee and Price were easy choices and Lester bounced back from a horrible start to claim a spot on the first team. And if my backup rotation was made up of the ace of the Yankees, the ace of the World Champions, and three other guys who almost hit 20 wins, with ERA’s under 3.00? That’s just unfair. The hardest part of this was not being able to find a spot for any of these guys: apologies to Justin Verlander, DET; Carl Pavano, MIN; Ubaldo Jiminez, COL; Matt Cain, SF; Mat Latos, SD; Chris Carpenter, STL; Tim Hudson, ATL; Clay Buccholz, BOS

Relief Pitcher:
Set-up Man – Hong-Chih Kuo, LAD
Rest of the Best – Mike Adams, SD; Joaquin Benoit, TB*; Arthur Rhodes, CIN; Daniel Bard, BOS; Johnny Venters, ATL

Kuo came back from an elbow injury to have a ridiculous season setting up the porous Jonathan Broxton in Los Angeles. He ended the season taking over the closer’s role temporarily and still had a microscopic ERA. Adams and Benoit were set-up men for two of the most dominant closers this year, Bard is the heir to the closer’s throne in Boston, and Rhodes and Venters were un-hittable lefty specialists. A pen with these guys might guarantee victories after the starters hit the shower. Apologies to Scott Downs, TOR; Luke Gregerson, SD; Tyler Clippard, WAS

Closer:
Starter – Brian Wilson, SF*
Backup – Neftali Feliz, TEX

I hate to do it, but I had to give this spot to Wilson. I don’t think he’s the most consistent, and he certainly doesn’t do it without a scare, but he still had a sub-2.00 ERA, had almost 50 saves, and was untouchable in the postseason. I hate the antics, I hate that he’s on the Giants, but I need a stopper on my team, and based on 2010, Wilson is the guy. Feliz was just as good, he just didn’t record quite as many saves. The kid is young though, give him time! Apologies to Heath Bell, SD; Joakim Soria, KC; Rafael Soriano, TB; Billy Wagner, ATL; Mariano Rivera, NYY

*denotes MLB Network’s pick

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