Speed, defense, hitting, leadership, big game experience; each of these categories contributes to the make-up of the best players in baseball. When looking at each of these attributes, whom do you consider the best player at their position in MLB? This article will look at each of these attributes and form an all-MLB team. The best player at his given position, taking into account their hitting ability, defense, base running, leadership, and big-game ability/experience.Catcher: When looking at this position, there was no doubt in my mind as to who should man the box behind the plate. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is the obvious choice here. It seems like every team he plays for, he brings success to the organization. After he enjoyed success in Texas as a Ranger, he went to the Florida Marlins (91-71 in world series season). In his only season with the Marlins, he won a World Series ring. Now with the Detroit Tigers (72-90), Pudge is again trying to lead his team to the promise land. With a career average over .300 and 250 career homers, and not to mention being the best defensive catcher in the league, Pudge is paving his way to a Hall of Fame worthy career.
Backup: Jorge Posada
1st Base: First base proved to be more of a challenge when it came to choosing a player, but I feel safe in my decision. Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals (105-57), just four years in the league has earned the respect of pitchers everywhere. At just 25 years old, Pujols has never had a season in which he hit less than 30 homeruns or hit lower than .310. A career .986 fielding percentage, Pujols is among the top of the list when it comes to first basemen and defense. Being an important part of the success of the Cards World-Series run last season, he was unable to attain a ring. With another year of experience under his belt, and a Series appearance behind him, Pujols and the Cards are poised to make another run at the title next season.
Backup: Todd Helton, Jim Thome
2nd Base: This position is manned by one of the younger, yet talented 2nd basemen in the league. Alfonso Soriano of the Texas Rangers (89-73) was one of the major components in the trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees. Soriano, a five-tool player excels in each aspect of the game. In 2004, he hit .280 with 28 homeruns and 91 RBI, not to mention his base steeling ability. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Soriano swiped 41 and 39 bases. In his 6th season in the league, his 4th as a starter, Soriano has developed as a leader both on and off the field. With the trade of A-rod, the Rangers were able to begin building a competitive team, finishing just three games out of the lead in the AL west last season, the Rangers are now playoff contenders and are primed to make a run at the division title next season.
Backup: Jeff Kent
3rd Base: Third base is a position that is loaded with talent. I however found it quite simple to choose the player I feel is the best in terms of these attributes. Scott Rolen is entering his 11th season in the league, and his 4th as a Cardinal. Prior to his move to the Cards, Rolen was making a name for himself manning the hot corner in Philadelphia. Last season with the Cards, Rolen was part of one of the most potent line-ups in baseball. He provided 34 homeruns, 124 RBI, and .314 batting average. Rolen has won the respect of his teammates and opposing players, both through his ability and his leadership. Rolen is also one of the top defensive third baseman in the league, committing only 10 errors last season, achieving a .977 fielding percentage. Rolen, along with the rest of the Cardinals, are ready to make another run at the World Series in 2005.
Backup: Eric Chavez, Alex Rodriguez
SS: When looking at all shortstops in the league, one name stood out amongst the rest. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees (101-61) has the talent and experience to man this position. He’s been there before, he’s succeeded, and he knows what it takes. Jeter plays all out all the time, whether it’s diving into the crowd to catch a fly ball, or running across the field to make a miracle play to save a run from scoring. Jeter is one of the premier players in the league, not just shortstops, and his numbers show it. Although he is not known for his power numbers, Jeter hit 23 homeruns last season at the top of the lineup for the Yankees. In addition to his power and other batting statistics, Jeter stole 23 bases and was able to set the table for the rest of the lineup. After their disappointing loss in last years ALCS to their rival Red Sox, the Yankees are ready to show that last year was a fluke, and they will make another series appearance this season.
Backup: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada
OF: When it comes to the outfield, picking just three players is near impossible. However, when one broke the hits record and lead the league in average, another shows off one of the best arms and bats in the league, and the last is the best, pure hitter in baseball, I feel as though they are safe picks. Ichiro Suzuki ended last season with 262 base hits and a .372 batting average. His slap and run style hitting has opposing pitchers baffled and opposing defenses on their toes. Ichiro shows a cannon for an arm in right field and has the speed to steal bases almost at will. With the edition of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson, the Mariners could be putting one of the best lineups in baseball on the field.
Next, Vladimir Guerrero, the one time Montreal Expo, current LA Angel, is one of the, if not the most dangerous right-handed hitters in the league. When he finally got the opportunity to get out of Montreal, Guerrero took it and signed with the Angles. His plate presence alone is enough to intimidate an opposing pitcher, but more importantly his outfield presence is enough to make a base-runner think twice about rounding third and heading for home after a base hit to right field. With 13 outfield assists last season, Guerrero has the most powerful, accurate arm in the league. Aside from his defense though, Guerrero carries a big stick. In his first year with the Angles, he had his most productive season as a major leaguer. With 39 homers and 126 RBIs, Guerrero did his part to contribute to the success of the Angles in the 2004 season.
Finally, Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox. Last season, Ramirez lead the Red Sox to the World Series victory after an improbable comeback over the Yankees, and a sweep of the Cards in the series. His bulky offensive numbers; 43 homeruns, 130 RBIs, and a .308 average, Manny has always proved to be a threat at the plate. While some consider his defense as lackadaisical, he shows off a strong and accurate arm. Manny has never really been an outspoken leader of any team, last season however, he took it upon himself to make sure his teammates knew how he felt about the playoffs. He was an inspiration in the clubhouse and on the filed and lead the `Saux’ back from three games down against the Yankees.
Backup: Jim Edmonds, Carlos Beltran
Starting Pitcher: What man would you like to be toeing the rubber in game seven of the World Series? Who could you count on to always step up in the big game? When looking at the choices, the obvious names came up; Martinez, Clemens, Johnson…I however knew instantly who I would like starting that game. Curt Schilling is a proven winner, he’s pitched in big games and has come out on top. Schilling led the charge of the Boston Red Sox in last season’s ALCS to top the Yankees in seven games. Schilling is a work-horse, pitching over 200 innings three of the past four seasons. His 21-6 record and 3.26 ERA were among the league leaders for starters. His World Series co-MVP in 2002 with teammate Randy Johnson shows his poise and experience on the mound. Schilling is one of the most dedicated pitchers in the league when it comes to scouting and researching up-coming opponents. His courageous act of pitching with an injured ankle in the 2004 playoffs earned Schilling respect throughout baseball, and the image of his bloody sock won’t soon be forgotten.
Backup: Roger Clemens
Closer: When the game is on the line in the 9th inning and you have to go to the bullpen, whom do you want warming up out there? Eric Gagne has proven over the past few seasons that he is that man. With a record breaking streak of 84 consecutive saves converted, Gagne is one of the most dominant closers in the game. In his three seasons back in the league after surgery, Gagne has converted no less than 45 saves, with two of those seasons with over 50. An ERA 2.19 last season, 114 K’s and 22 walks, Gagne was virtually un-hittable.
Backup: Mariano Rivera