MLB has many talented players, but only one player can claim the top spot at each position in each league.
The 2022 MLB season was a great one. It had everything that we as fans love about the sport. It had major highs such as the Phillies’ Cinderella run to the World Series, and it had major drama such as Fernando Tatis Jr. getting busted for PED’s. Now that the season is over, and the Astros took back the throne as the World Series champs after a five-year absence, let’s look forward to the 2023 season and explore how I think the season will play out like at each position.
The 2023 MLB season is going to be one like we have never seen before: with new rules and procedures, there is going to be a new look to the game we have grown to know. Bases will now be bigger, the shift is banned, and there will now be a pitch clock. All of these things have not been seen in the big leagues since we have been watching and as rules change, advantages come and go. We will see who can adjust.
When it comes to the larger bases, I see first basemen experiencing the biggest difference on defense. Now there will be more of a base to hold while meeting balls in the dirt. The shift is the main difference I think, which will give batters a new edge or an unwelcomed drop in average. Matt Olson and Yordan Alvarez are two players that will be greeting the shift ban with open arms. Olson (147) and Alvarez (122) had the most hard-hit groundouts due to the shift than anyone else in the league.
MLB National League First Team
2B: Ozzie Albies
3B: Austin Riley
SS: Trea Turner
OF: Kyle Schwarber
OF: Ronald Acuña Jr.
C: Will Smith
When making the list for the NL, there were many spots that I really had to think about. The first baseman battle was the hardest. Goldy continues to prove year after year why he is a Gold Glover. From his pure talent to gritty consistency, he is through and through a stud. On the other hand, we have Matt Olson who had a great season, posting a fielding average of .994 and a WAR of 3.3. Those are decent numbers, but they become great when you remember what I said earlier: these new rule changes are almost tailored to his game. This internal argument I had was only solved one way: I had to put them both on the list. So yes, we will have more than 24 people on the list but hey, it’s my list so my rules.
Short of this debate, I had so much fun making this list and looking forward to the season, us MLB fans are in for a treat. Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Trea Turner are easily the best infielders in MLB and it is a scary sight to say that two of them are on the same diamond. Ozzie Albies missed most of last season with a broken foot, then when he came back, he broke his thumb. He has had nothing but time to train and it is very hard to bet against any player who is being coached by the legend Ron Washington who year in and year out turns in one of the top infields in MLB.
When you move to the outfield, I think the choices were a bit clearer. Kyle Schwarber and Michael Harris II both turned out insane numbers this past season. Schwarber made his name in Philly and quickly became a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love. Down in the South there was a young buck breaking onto the scene though. Michael Harris II put together one of the most impressive rookie seasons I have seen in recent years, posting 19 homers and almost a .300 avg.
When we get to the pitchers, I had the internal voices come back and had to settle some arguments. One and two were simple. I believe Max Fried takes this as his year to put his Cy Young season together. I think if it isn’t this season the odds start to go down. Second, we have Sandy Alcantara who put together a great Cy Young season last year and won unanimously. Then we have Corbin Burnes who I think will come in second to Fried in Cy Young voting. He ended the season strong and has the stuff. His pitch command is consistent, and he is able to stretch deep into games. Last, we have Kyle Wright, who needs no explanation. The guy won 21 games last season and did it relatively easily.
MLB American League First Team
2B: Jose Altuve
3B: Rafael Devers
SS: Jeremy Peña
OF: Kyle Tucker
OF: Julio Rodriguez
OF: Yordon Alvarez
On the AL side, we have the (in my Bruce Buffer voice) reigning defending undisputed World Series champions, the Houston Astros. With Kyle Tucker performing better by the year and Yordan getting better and somehow stronger, the two are on track to have another great season. Rafael Devers, who hits hard and gets the ball in play, will also get a great boost with the ban of the shifts. He will also look to capitalize on his new contract.
Vladdy Jr. and Jose Altuve are both on this for the same reason: they hit the ball and they hit it over the fence often. They are consistent energy boosters for their teams and are two of the most essential players to their respective teams.
Julio Rodriguez and Jeremey Peña both have a little bit more proving to do, but I can’t leave them off of a list of players I see making the most noise this upcoming MLB season. J-Rod put together a great rookie year in Seattle, and Peña won the World Series MVP. That kind of speaks for itself in my opinion when you look at the team he has around him.
When putting together the list of pitchers for the AL, it was a simple process of just looking at the stats and looking at the age. All of the top pitchers are in the prime of their careers minus Justin Verlander. That being said, you can’t have a list of anything regarding MLB without putting Shohei on it. The man hits a million homers and then pitches at 500 MPH.
The one that I see the most people not agreeing with is Tyler Glasnow. He hasn’t pitched since early-mid-2021 but he was on the top of his game until Tommy John took him out. I see him coming back this year with the same Cy Young caliber stuff he left with. I would look for him to come right back and pick up where he left off with striking hitters out on the nasty slider. On the safer side I put Eovaldi and Rodón. I think them both being in new situations will be good for them and I seem them both having new vibes and attitudes to start the season that will propel them into great seasons where they produce All-Star stat lines every start.
I already know the main response to this article will be one thing: “No Judge on the list,” “62 bombs,” and listen, I get it. Most people probably will put him on their list but most people don’t see the game the way I do. I see Judge falling back into the pool of mediocrity that he swam in before Rob Manfred and MLB were pitching him juiced balls (Proven fact that he got different balls so don’t come at me with “conspiracy theory” accusations). If I am wrong and he does it again, I have no problem putting my foot in my mouth. But I just don’t see that being a performance anyone can have then come back and do the same thing next season. It just statistically doesn’t work.
MLB is a league that has been deemed dead, called boring, and shut out by other leagues, but I see this season coming up as an opportunity for MLB and MLBPA to get fans back in seats. With the new rules, there will be more runs and faster pace which is what everyone likes to complain about. Rob Manfred needs to capitalize on this opportunity and get MLB back in the same breath of the NBA and NFL.
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