The other day, I came across Buster Olney’s list of his top 10 major league players right now. For as much as I hate ESPN, they have some guys whose opinions I usually respect, and Olney is one of them. However, this list made no sense to me. He put Mookie Betts, who’s hitting .274 this year, at #3. He didn’t even include the last two years’ NL MVPs, Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant, even on the toughest omissions section. Anyway, the list got me thinking: if I was a Major League Baseball GM, and I was able to select any player at every position, who would I take? I went in with the mindset that I’m building for the future, not just trying to win now. So not every player on this list may be the best at their position right now, but I anticipate them being All-Star caliber players for years to come. Here goes nothing.
Catcher: Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Maybe I’m a little biased as a Yankee fan with this pick, but hear me out. Buster Posey is clearly the best catcher in baseball right now, but he’s 30 years old. Sanchez is only 24 and has endless potential. Through his first 100 career games, he batted .296 with 33 home runs and 79 RBI. The 33 home runs are tied for second-most all-time through a player’s first 100 games. El Gary has started a career just about as well as you can, and figures to be one of the game’s best catchers for years to come.
Honorable Mentions: Buster Posey, Giants, Salvador Perez, Royals
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
When I first thought of this position, Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo immediately came to mind. However, Freddie Freeman also could easily make a case for this spot. At just 27, Freeman is really slept on in Atlanta. He sneakily batted .302 with 34 HR and 91 RBI last year. After thinking about it, I decided to go with Goldschmidt. At 29 years of age, he’s got a .302 lifetime average, won two Gold Gloves, and has consitently been one of the best hitters in the NL the last few years.
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, Freddie Freeman, Braves
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Astros
Easiest decision thus far for me. Robinson Cano may not have a lot of production left at 34, and I love Starlin Castro, but he’s no Altuve. Altuve is only 27, and is batting .334 with 12 homers and 45 RBI this year. He’ll be the AL All-Star starter at second this year, and I’ll definitely take him at that position over anyone else right now.
Honorable Mention: Starlin Castro, Yankees
Shortstop: Corey Seager, Dodgers
For as easy as the second base choice was, the shortstop choice was difficult. Too many great young shortstops right now. Between Seager, Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Correa, you’re looking at four guys who are going to be franchise cornerstones for years to come. I went with Seager because he’s only 23, and was second in the NL in WAR last year behind Kris Bryant. All these guys are under 24, however, so this was pretty much a coin flip. I didn’t pick Lindor because he’s hitting only .252 this year, didn’t pick Correa because I wanted to switch it up from Altuve, and didn’t pick Bogaerts because Buck Foston. So Seager it is.
Honorable Mentions: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox, Carlos Correa, Astros, Francisco Lindor, Indians, Trea Turner, Nationals
Third Base: Manny Machado, Orioles
Machado, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado made for another tough decision. However, I decided to go with Machado. At 24, the guy consistently makes huge plays with both his bat and his glove. I mean, look at his arm.
Definitely wouldn’t mind to see that guy in Pinstripes. Bryant and Arenado have been unbelievable as well, but I’m giving the nod to Machado here.
Honorable Mentions: Kris Bryant, Cubs, Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Mike Trout, Angels
You can’t make this list and not put this guy on it. At the end of the day, we could be calling Trout the greatest to ever play the game of baseball. At only 25, Trout is a five-time All-Star who was just voted to his sixth one this year, has two MVP awards, and has made a strong case for the award each year. He’s one of the best five-tool players the game has ever seen, and easily the best in baseball right now.
Bryce Harper, Nationals
Harper is not quite on Trout’s level, but is another generational talent who obviously deserves to be on this list; Olney not mentioning him was absurd to me. After a down year in 2016, the 2015 NL MVP is batting .324 with 20 HR and 64 RBI for the first-place Nationals. The guy mashes baseballs and plays the game with the swagger it’s supposed to be played with.
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Call me biased, whatever. Olney said he omitted Judge because he hasn’t even played 100 games in the big leagues yet, which is fair. But what he’s doing this year is incredible. For a guy that struck out 42 times in 84 plate appearances last year, it’s unreal how much better his plate discipline is this year. He’s on pace to set the Yankees’ single season record for walks. Oh, and being in the run for the AL triple crown doesn’t hurt either, I guess.
Honorable Mentions: Mookie Betts, Red Sox, George Springer, Astros, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Can’t really argue against taking Kershaw. He’s 29, so who knows how many years of dominance he has left, but I’d still take my chances as a GM and have him here. He’s got 3 Cy Young awards, won the NL MVP in 2014, a 2.37 career ERA, and a WHIP just over 1.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets
I’ll throw Met fans a bone here. I actually really like Syndergaard a lot. He’s an entertaining, team-oriented guy, and a hell of a pitcher. At only 24, it would seriously be a tough decision for me whether I’d take him or Kershaw to start a franchise with.
The guys in the honorable mention section are amazing starters for sure, but if I had to pick just one it would be a toss-up between those two guys above.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Sale, Red Sox, Madison Bumgarner, Giants, Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
Reliever: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
I really wanted to put Betances here, but with the way he’s been pitching lately & after looking at Jansen’s stats I just couldn’t. Both are 29, and Jansen has a 0.83 ERA and 0.551 WHIP this season. That’s unheard of. Unfortunately, the Yanks will probably lose Dellin to free agency soon because Randy Levine is a dumbass.
Honorable Mention: Dellin Betances, Yankees
That’s the list. You know what they say, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. (Actually, feel free to stay and check out more articles on belowthebeltsports.com.)