The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Inaugural All-MLB Team: Best of Both Leagues

Major League Baseball has instituted the selection of an All-MLB Team for the 2019 season.  While the official MLB All-Stars are selected at mid-season, this elite team of superstars representing both leagues will take into account the entire regular season.  The inaugural team will be announced on December 10 in conjunction with baseball’s annual Winter Meetings in San Diego.

The voting results for the all-star members will come 50% from fans and 50% from a panel of baseball experts.  Fans are eligible to vote via the internet each day between November 25 and December3.

A first and second team will be named, each consisting of five starting pitchers, two relief pitchers, one selection at each position, and a designated hitter.  The three outfielders are not required to represent specific outfield positions.  60 position players and 30 pitchers were pre-selected by MLB as candidates for the all-star team.

No specific criteria were identified for voters to consider.  Hence, it seems the team could wind up being the result of a popularity contest among the candidates, especially with fans being able to cast multiple votes.  The likely purpose of the contest is a way for MLB to continue to engage fans during the off-season.

Here are my selections for the team.

First Base – Freddie Freeman (Braves) captured his first Silver Slugger Award, while finishing eighth in the NL MVP voting.  He had a career year in HR (38) and RBI (121).  He’s been a good glove man, too.  Freeman was selected over Pete Alonso (NL Rookie of the Year) and Matt Olson (NL Gold Glove winner).

Second Base – D.J. LeMahieu (Yankees) was given up on by the Rockies over the winter, and it wasn’t clear where he would fit in with the Yankees at the start of the season. But when they had a rash of injuries, LeMahieu stepped up and was the one constant throughout the season.  He won the AL Silver Slugger Award and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting.  LeMahieu beat out Jose Altuve, who had another fine season.

Shortstop – Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) had a career year with a .309/.384/.555 slash line and highs of 33 HR and 117 RBI.  He was a Silver Slugger Award winner and finished fifth in the AL MVP Award voting.  He edged out Oakland’s Marcus Semien, who had a breakout year by finishing third in the AL MVP voting.

Third Base – Alex Bregman (Astros) is my pick in the tightest race among all the positions.  In many respects, it was hard to differentiate his performance from that of Anthony Rendon, Nolan Arenado, Rafael Devers, Josh Donaldson, and Eugenio Suarez.  Bregman collected a Silver Slugger Award and was second in the AL MVP voting.  He had a career-high 41 HR and 112 RBI.  His on-base percentage was an outstanding .423, aided by AL-leading 119 walks.

Catcher – J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) was the easiest pick of all the positions.  His post-season hardware included both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award.  He was everything the Phillies wanted when they acquired him over the winter.  Yasmani Grandal was a distant second.

Outfielders – Mike Trout (Angels), Christian Yelich (Brewers), and Cody Bellinger (Dodgers).  Trout maintained his “best in baseball” label with his third AL MVP Award this year.  Yelich missed the last three weeks of the season, but still put together the best season of his career (which included a NL MVP Award last year).  He led the NL in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, but finished second (probably influenced by his injury) to Cody Bellinger for the NL MVP title.  Bellinger smacked 47 HR to go along with 115 RBI.  These three players were picked over Ronald Acuna Jr., who was also a Silver Slugger Award winner and led the league in runs scored and stolen bases; and Mookie Betts, who had a down year compared to 2018 when he was the AL MVP, but still logged an all-star season.

Designated Hitter – Nelson Cruz (Twins) seems to be getting better with age.  At 38-years-old, he posted a slash line of .311/.392/.639, with 41 HR and 108 RBI, and captured the Silver Slugger Award as he led the Twins to a first-place finish in the AL Central Division.  He beat out veteran J.D. Martinez and Jordan Alvarez, the AL Rookie of the Year, who played in 87 games after being called up to the Astros in early June, but still managed to hit 24 HR and 71 RBI.

Starting Pitchers – Gerrit Cole (Astros), Justin Verlander (Astros), Jacob DeGrom (Mets), Hyun-Jim Ryu, (Dodgers), and Charlie Morton (Rays).  There’s no need to provide more justification for Cole, Verlander and DeGrom.  They were the cream of the crop in both leagues.  Ryu and Morton are not as well-known, but turned in better seasons than several other more notable pitchers.  Ryu led the NL in ERA (2.32) and posted a 1.007 WHIP.  He finished second in the NL Cy Young voting.  Morton led the Tampa staff after coming over from Houston in the off-season.  He finished third in the AL Cy Young voting.  These five pitchers beat out several others with fine seasons: veterans Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Zack Grienke; and relative newcomers Shane Bieber, and Jack Flaherty.

Relief Pitchers – Kirby Yates (Padres) and Josh Hader (Brewers) top the list of reliever candidates.  Their strikeouts per 9 innings are the highest among the candidates at 15.0 and 16.4, respectively, while their WHIPs are 0.89 and 0.81, respectively.  Yates was the only relief pitcher to receive NL Cy Young Award votes.  These two beat out Aroldis Chapman, Roberto Osuna, and Will Smith.

There are no big surprises in my selections.  With the exception of Cruz, all of these players were named to the mid-season All-Star Game tyhoueams.

If you had some different thoughts on the team's selections, I'd like to hear from you.

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