Evaluating the New All-MLB Teams by WAR

While Silver Slugger awards reward the best hitters at every position and Gold Gloves are awarded to the best fielders, there hasn’t been a single award for the best player in every role. Now there is. Major League Baseball unveiled a pair of All-MLB teams on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, with the squads including a player at each position to go along with a full five starters and two relievers. Since the main other piece of news today has involved Scott Boras’ love of birds, let’s take a quick look at the All-MLB teams and see what WAR has to say.

Here are the teams:

Let’s run them down position by position.


All-MLB picks: J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal

WAR: Realmuto (5.7), Grandal (5.2)

There is nothing really to see here as the selections matched their WAR and the two players listed were more than a win clear of third-place Mitch Garver.

First Base

All-MLB picks: Pete Alonso, Freddie Freeman

WAR: Alonso (4.8), Carlos Santana (4.4)

There’s an argument to be made for Max Muncy as his 4.8 WAR was even with Alonso, though he only started 42 games at the position. Freeman’s 138 wRC+ was slightly better than Santana’s 135 mark, though Santana’s baserunning and defense put him ahead of Freeman’s 4.0 WAR last year. Anthony Rizzo‘s 141 wRC+ was second to Alonso among first basemen, but less playing time gave him a 4.0 WAR equal to Freeman. Matt Olson’s 3.9 WAR was also close.

Second Base

All-MLB picks: DJ LeMahieu, Jose Altuve

WAR: LeMahieu (5.4), Ozzie Albies (4.6)

Altuve’s 3.5 WAR actually ranked eighth among players who saw a decent amount of time at second base last year. His 138 wRC+ topped all primary second baseman, though poor baserunning and missed time due to injury prevented him from putting up a higher number. Ketel Marte was one of best players in baseball last season, but it’s possible his positional diversity cost him in this All-MLB format. The same might be true for Muncy, who is among the top two at first base and second base but didn’t start more than 65 games at any position. That makes LeMahieu’s inclusion at the expense of Muncy and Marte somewhat curious considering he started just 66 games at second last year. Albies was just behind Marte and Muncy, and among full-time second baseman, he topped the sport.

Third Base

All-MLB picks: Anthony Rendon, Alex Bregman

WAR: Bregman (8.5), Rendon (7.0)

Bregman was pretty clearly the superior player this season with a 168 wRC+ to Rendon’s 154 figure, though Bregman also played a decent amount of shortstop, so maybe that played a role in Rendon getting the top spot.


All-MLB picks: Xander Bogaerts, Marcus Semien

WAR: Semien (7.6), Bogaerts (6.8)

Semien and Bogaerts were basically a match with the bat, although Semien played in all 162 games and ended up with better fielding numbers and the higher WAR.


All-MLB picks: Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto, Mookie Betts

WAR: Trout (8.6), Yelich (7.8), Bellinger (7.8), Marte (7.1), Betts (6.6), George Springer (6.5)

The first team matched the WAR totals, but the second team had some discrepancies. Marte started 89 games in the outfield but really should be represented somewhere. While Springer only played 122 games, he was a force when he played. Acuña (5.6) and Soto (4.8) were the next two players in the outfield, but they didn’t quite measure up with Marte and Springer.

Designated Hitter

All-MLB picks: Nelson Cruz, Yordan Alvarez

WAR: Cruz (4.3), Alvarez (3.8)

Alvarez’s 3.8 WAR was just behind Austin Meadows‘ 4.0, though Meadows played a majority of his games in the outfield. Alvarez also accumulated his WAR with a great 178 wRC+ and did it in just 87 games.

Starting Pitcher

All-MLB picks: Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jack Flaherty, Charlie Morton, Mike Soroka

WAR: Cole (7.4), deGrom (7.0), Lance Lynn (6.8), Scherzer (6.5), Verlander (6.4), Morton (6.1), Strasburg (5.7), Shane Bieber (5.6), Greinke (5.4), Lucas Giolito (5.1)

Ryu (4.8) ranked 12th while Flaherty (4.7) ranked 14th, taking spots from the underrated Lynn and Bieber. Walker Buehler, Patrick Corbin, and Zack Wheeler were also in the top 15 last season. Strasburg is outside the top five by WAR but still bypassed Morton (and Lynn) on the first team.

Relief Pitcher

All-MLB picks: Kirby Yates, Josh Hader, Aroldis Chapman, Liam Hendriks

WAR: Hendriks (3.8), Yates (3.4), Hader (2.3), Seth Lugo (2.2)

Hendriks was arguably the best reliever in baseball, though Hader’s reputation probably put him ahead on the team. Chapman’s 2.0 WAR was within a couple runs of Lugo, though Taylor Rogers, Brandon Workman, and Nick Anderson were all in the same range as well.

Ranking players strictly by WAR is probably not the best way to determine a team like this, but overall, the team matches up pretty evenly with WAR. The biggest snubs were probably Marte on the position-player side and Lynn among pitchers.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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Joey Caltrainmember
2 years ago

This may be a question for Ben Clemens or Dan Szymborski, but if these two teams faced off over a 162-game season, how many games would we expect each team to win? What if they faced each other in a playoff series — how likely would it be for the Second Team to advance?