November 8, 2012
On the Beat
The All-Major League Baseball Team
The stolen base has quietly been making a comeback in recent seasons. Teams might not be running like they did three decades ago in the world of cookie-cutter stadiums and artificial turf, but managers have been showing more of a willingness to press the issue on the bases.
Stealing ideas never goes out of style, though, and that's where the On The Beat All-Major League Baseball Team comes in. Two years ago, I was listening to the great Jeff Joyce on Sirius/XM's MLB Network Radio channel when he opined that Major League Baseball should have an All-Pro team that would be akin to what the NFL does by recognizing the best player at each position at the end of each season.
Well, we swiped that idea and ran with it, and today we unveil our third OTBAMLBT. Try as we might, we haven't been able to convince MLB Network to turn the announcement of the team into a television special. However, because you're a loyal BP reader, you get to see it first, while the rest of the world breathlessly awaits its release.
First baseman: Joey Votto, Reds (.337/.474/.567). Votto did not hit a home run after he missed 49 games from July 16-September 4 while recovering from two arthroscopic knee surgeries, but he was still the best first baseman in the game. Now, that's impressive. Votto led the major leagues in on-base percentage, and his 94 walks tied Atlanta's Dan Uggla for the National League lead in 155 fewer plate appearances.
Second baseman: Robinson Cano, Yankees (.313/.379/.550). OK, he had an awful postseason, but that doesn't erase six months of fine work in the regular season. Cano's 6.4 WARP was second in the American League and third in the major leagues, and his 52.5 BVORP was third in the AL and ninth in the majors.
Third baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.330/.393/.606). We can argue the merits of winning the Triple Crown all day, but I'm old school on this subject—I believe it's a heck of an achievement, especially since no one had done it in 45 years. And few know how to spell Carl Yastrzemski's name without looking it up. When you lead the AL in batting average, home runs (44), and RBI (139), you are allowed to disappear in the playoffs. In addition to leading the majors in homers and RBI, Cabrera was also tops with 377 total bases, a .606 slugging percentage, and .999 OPS.